Monday, November 30, 2009

Woot! A Contest!

I asked on Saturday, which book would you would want to see in a contest... Well, I decided to do a contest with both books, since the vote were pretty much even and it is almost Christmas. The books are Undead Much? by Stacey Jay and The Line by Teri Hall.

The Line by Teri Hall is about:
Rachel lives with her mother on The Property. The good thing about living there is that it’s far from the city where the oppressive government is most active. The bad thing, at least to most people, is that it’s close to the Line—an uncrossable section of the National Border Defense System, an invisible barrier that encloses the entire country.
She can see the Line from the greenhouse windows, but she is forbidden to go near it. Across the Line is Away, and though Rachel has heard many whispers about the dangers there, she’s never really believed the stories. Until the day she hears a recording that could only have come from across the Line.
It’s a voice asking for help.
Who sent the message? What is her mother hiding? And to what lengths will Rachel go in order to do what she thinks is right?

Undead Much? by Stacey Jay is about:
Q: How many guys does it take to make your boyfriend wild with jealousy?A: Only one, if he's UNDEAD.
Megan Berry had a perfectly average new-sundress-and-boy-obsessed life--until her power to settle the Undead returned. Oh, and then her best friend tried to kill her--and ruin homecoming--with a bunch of black magically raised zombies. At least she got a spot on the pom squad and a smokin' boyfriend (Ethan). But now Megan is in deep fertilizer all over again.
Why? Well, let's see... · Feral new super-strong zombies? Check. Cheerleader vs. pom squad turf war threatening half time as they know it? Check.
An Undead psychic hottie (Cliff) who's predicting a zombie apocalypse--and doing his best to tempt Megan away from Ethan? Yum. I mean, Check.
Earth-shattering secrets that could land Megan in Settler prison for life? Um, IT WASN'T ME!!!
Everyone thinks Megan's at fault for the new uber-zombie uprising. Looks like she'll need the help of both Cliff and Ethan if she's going to prove her innocence before it's too late...

To enter(if you want both books, answer both questions):
For Undead Much?: What would you do, if zombies are coming after you?
For The Line: How far would you go to help someone?
Extra entries:
1. New or Current follower. +5
2. Re-post it in any social network or blog. +3 each
3. +1 for each referral and +1 on being referred.
This Contest is open till December 26th at midnight. It is only open to USA and Canada addresses only.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Saturday, November 28, 2009

2010 Debut Author Challenge

Next year, The Story Siren is hosting the 2010 Debut Author Challenge.
Here is a bit about the challenge: The objective is to read a set number of YA (Young Adult) or MG (Middle Grade) novels from debut authors published this year.* I'm going to challenge everyone to read at least 12 debut novels! I’m hoping to read at least 30! You don’t have to list your choices right away, but if you do feel free to change them throughout the year. I will also be focusing on mostly Young Adult novels.
Anyone can join, you don’t need a blog to participate. If you don’t have a blog you can always share your views by posting a review on, or any other bookish site.
The challenge will run from January 1, 2010- December 31, 2010.
You can join at anytime!

So far, I have read The Secret Year by Jennifer Hubbard, The Naughty List by Suzanne Young, Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver, The Mark by Jen Nadol, Forget-Her-Nots by Amy Brecount-White, The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting, The Cinderella Society by Kay Cassidy, The Dark Divine by Bree Despain, and I think that is all.

Some of the books that I want to read are (bolding the ones, I have):
1. The Rise of Renegade X by Chelsea Campbell
2. Dirty Little Secrets by CJ Omololu
3. Everlasting by Angie Frazier
4. The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin by Josh Berk
5. Brightly Woven by Alexandra Bracken
6. The Red Umbrella by Christina Diaz Gonzalez
7. Shadow Hills by Anastasia Hopcus
8. Sea by Heidi R. Kling
9. The Duff by Kody Keplinger
10. A Match Made in High School by Kristin Walker
11. Magic Under Glass by Jaclyn Dolamore
12. Leaving Gee's Bend by Irene Latham
13. Other by Karen Kincy
14. Princess for Hire by Lindsey Leavitt
15. Anna and the Boy Masterpiece by Stephanie Perkins
16. The Daykeeper's Grimoire by Christy Raedeke
17. Tortilla Sun by Jennifer Cervantes
18. Losing Faith by Denise Jaden
19. Three Rivers Rising by Jame Richards
20. The Snowball Effect by Holly Hoxter
21. Paranormalcy by Kiersten White
22. The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney
23. Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins
24. Bleeding Violet by Dia Reeves
25. Palace Beautiful by Sarah DeFord Williams
26. Plain Kate by Erin Bow
27. A Most Improper Magick by Stephanie Burgis
28. Whisper by Phoebe Kitanidis
29. Guardian of the Dead by Karen Healey
30. The Iron King by Julie Kagawa
31. The Absolute Vaule of -1 by Steve Brezenoff
32. Vanished by Sheela Chari
33. Nightshade by Andrea Cremer
34. Mistwood by Leah Cypess
35. Inconvenient by Margie Gelbwasser
36. The Line by Teri Hall
37. All Unquiet Things by Anna Jarzab
38. The Witch's Alphabet by Caitlin Kittredge
39. Escaping the Tiger by Laura Manivong
40. Birthmarked by Caragh O'Brien

Friday, November 27, 2009


The winner of The Secret Year by Jennifer Hubbard is Arielle at B.A.M. Book Reviews. You have been sent an e-mail and need to respond to it in the next two days.
For everyone else, I have a spare copy of The Line by Teri Hall and Undead Much? by Stacey Jay. I going to have a contest for one of them soon. Which book would you want in a contest more?

Thursday, November 26, 2009


Happy Thanksgiving!
I hope you eat too much food and take a nice nap. =)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Waiting on Wednesday (Week Thirty-five)

Title: Stalker Girl
Author: Rosemary Graham
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Release Date: August 5th 2010

How do you know when you’ve crossed the line between curiosity and obsession?
Carly never meant to become a stalker. She just wanted to find out who Brian started dating after he dumped her. But a little harmless online research turns into a quick glance, and that turns into an afternoon of watching. Soon Carly is putting all of her energy into following Brian’s new girlfriend—all of the sadness she feels about her mom’s recent breakup, all of the anger she feels over being pushed aside by her dad while he prepares for his new wife’s new baby. When Carly’s stalking is discovered in the worst possible way by the worst possible person, she is forced to acknowledge her problem and the underlying issues that led to it.

Omg, a book a bout a girl stalking other people. Where have you been all of my life? I want this book so much.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


This is my 400th post.
I feel kind of awesome now. =)

Monday, November 23, 2009

Handcuffs by Bethany Griffin

Characters: 18/20
Plot: 18/20
Originality: 17/20
Writing: 17/20
Recommendation: 17/20
Overall: 87/100 or B
Parker Prescott is a quiet, book-ish, and an aloof girl. She is so quiet and aloof that she is now called The Ice Princess by all of her classmates, but the reason might be Marion Hennessey’s blog. Marion hates Parker, because of a story that involves siblings, stalking and a restraining order.
Parker's family is also in trouble. Her dad lost his job and is still unemployed. Her mom works long hours to pay for everything. Her older sister Paige is having trouble with her marriage with the former high-school quarterback who visits their house to steal ketchup, because he doesn't like grocery stores. Also Little brother Preston is an ADHD genius. The house is also up for sale. It isn't like Parker's life could be any crazier?
Wait, her ex-boyfriend has some kind of hold on her and it gets them in a situation that involves handcuffs, an office chairs, and a rather compromising position. Everything went downhill from there. Sort of. Parker Prescott’s world is changing and she no longer knows who she is. Does anyone?
The characters in this book were really well developed. I could relate to Parker feeling unsure who she is and what she wants. Paige and Preston were also well developed. Her ex-boyfriend was interesting. I also loved that the plot had more then one story going on. There were parts of the plot that revealed something about everyone in the book. This book was original and one of a kind. Griffin is an amazing writer and I can't wait for more from her. I recommend that you check this book, if you are looking for something that is a bit edgy.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

In My Mailbox(week of November 22nd)

I feel as good as I look, which is not great. I hate wisdom teeth. I also got Betrayal by Lili St. Crow. Also, going to New Moon Tommorrow.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Fat Cat by Robin Brande

Characters: 17/20
Plot: 18/20
Originality: 19/20
Writing: 18/20
Recommendation: 18/20
Overall: 90/100 or A
Cat is sassy, smart, funny, and well fat... Then she gets an assignment for a science project. She gets a picture of hominids and decides to eat and live just like them. No junk food, cars, and electronics can be a bummer, but Cat starts to really live. Cat is starting to get healthy and boys are starting to notice. She has no experience with boys, and she is busy hating Matt McKinney to really notice anything. Can she get over being Fat Cat and become just Cat?
I love Cat. I could relate to her so much. I have had weight problems for my whole life. She also got over how she looked and realized that other things were important. Jordan and Amanda were cute together. They were sweet and wonderful friends. The plot was so strong. It was interesting and I read it in about a day. This books was really original and the book was not just about weight lost, but loving yourself. Brande is an amazing writer and I can not wait for more books from her. Fat Cat is the kind of book that is a must read. It has such a strong message that anyone can all relate to.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Struts and Frets by Jon Skovron

Characters: 18/20
Plot: 19/20
Originality: 19/20
Writing: 18/20
Recommendation: 18/20
Overall: 92/100 or A
Struts and Frets tells the coming of age story of Sammy Bojar. He is a high school rock and roll garage band. Music is in his blood, and his grandfather was a jazz musician. So, maybe his band could be huge one of these days, if the fighting stops and does not self-destruct first. The upcoming Battle of the Bands would justify all the band;s compromises and it would also reassure Sammy that
his dream could become a reality. Practices are hard to schedule when Sammy’s grandfather is sick and getting worse, his mother is too busy to help either of them, and his best friend may want to be his girlfriend. When everything in Sammy’s life seems to be headed for major catastrophe, will his music be enough to keep him together?
Sammy was an interesting character and I really like him. Jen5 was also amazing, too. She was such a kick ass girl. Sammy and Jen5 were so cute with another, but I felt that their relationship was a bit rushed. The plot was interesting and entertaining. It was a really original book. I loved the fact that there were many layers to this book. Skovron was an amazing writer and I could tell that he loved music. I recommend that you check out this book, if you love music.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Magaret Stohl

Characters: 19/20
Plot: 18/20
Originality: 20/20
Writing: 19/20
Recommendation: 20/20
Overall: 96/100 or A
Ethan Wate, who has been counting down the day until he can escape the small town of Gatlin, is haunted by a dream of a beautiful girl he has never met. Then Lena Duchannes moves into the oldest and most infamous plantation with her reclusive Uncle Macon. Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her and is determined to uncover the connection between them.
Lena is unlike anyone in Gatlin. She is struggling to conceal her powers, and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. Even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps, and the graveyard of the south and the past. A secret can not be hidden for much longer.
Ethan and Lena were both amazing characters. Ethan was sweet, swoon worthy, and protective of Lena. Lena was strong willed and caring. Ethan and Lena were both interesting and amazing together. Uncle Macon and Amma were both an interesting characters. I really enjoyed Ethan's great aunts Mercy, Prudence, and Grace, also know as "The Sisters". They were hilarious together. The plot was fast paced and gripping. I could not put this Beautiful Creature down. There were a few plot holes, but I think that they will be solved more in the next book. Also the pacing was off a few times, but it was still a great plot. Garcia and Stohl were an amazing writing duo. Beautiful Creatures is filled with a gorgeous details and a charming setting. I highly recommend Beautiful Creatures, it will bring you into a world that you will never want to leave.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Waiting on Wednesday (Week Thirty-four)

Title: For Keeps
Author: Natasha Friend
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Release Date: April 6, 2010

Josie’s never met her dad, and that’s fine with her. To Josie, Paul Tucci is just a guy who got her mom pregnant and then moved away. It all happened sixteen years ago, when Josie’s mom was still a teenager herself. But now Paul Tucci is back in town, and Josie has to deal with not one but two men in her life—her father and her first boyfriend, who Josie fears will hurt her just like Paul hurt her mother.
This book sounds so good! I know that there is a different cover, that I like a little more. I am excited to read this book.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

I Am A Genius Of Unspeakable Evil And I Want To Be Your Class President by Josh Lieb

Characters: 15/20
Plot: 16/20
Originality: 18/20
Writing: 18/20
Recommendation: 17/20
Overall: 84/100 or B
Oliver Watson pretends to be stupid. He lives with his parents. His mother is there for his every need and his father is emotionally detached. Oliver is the third richest man in the world and he is also an evil genius. He wants to only do one thing. He wants to impress his dad. When his father makes a wise crack about the school election. Oliver takes it as his personal challenge to win the school election. Turns out, though, that overthrowing foreign dictators is actually way easier than getting kids to like you. Can this evil genius win the class presidency and keep his true identity a secret, all in time to impress his dad?
I found Oliver to be a funny character. The problem is that I did not see as much depth as I wanted from him. He reminded me a lot of an older version of Dexter from Dexter's Laboratory. The plot was interesting and entertaining. It was slow and the plot dragged on for a bit. It was a fairly original book that had the fun and snark that I wanted from this sort of book. Lieb was a great writer and I am excited to see more from him in the future. This book is a good middle grade and it is worth checking it out.

Monday, November 16, 2009


Unless you just glance at my blog once in a blue moon, You know that I am doing NaNoWriMo. I am one of those people that have to have noise are something going on while writing or it just stays the same. The rain bouncing on the skylights, even helps. I recent saw Steph Bowe's post about images and using inspiration from them to write. My book is called Sisters. It is told in the perspective of two very different sisters and all the secrets that they keep from one another and the ones that they tell. I am going to do some Lara images first, since I have more fun writing her and picture that describe her tone are easier to fin. Here they are:

Here are the picture, for when I think of Lily:

Now I am back to NaNoWriMo. I hope everyone is having a swell day.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

In My Mailbox (Week of November 14th)

In My Mailbox was started by The Story Siren and inspired by Pop Culture Junkie. (:
Because I didn't do an IMM last week, here's two weeks worth. I also got loads of Cybils books.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Doctor Who and YALSA...

I want to see this, so much. Can it be on like now?

Also, YALSA posted Best Books for Young Adults Nominations, check it out here. Congrats to anyone on it.

Friday, November 13, 2009

I love this...

I love the cover for Other. Seriously, isn't it amazing?
Beth even agrees about the awesomeness.
What do you think of this cover?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Crash Into Me by Albert Borris

Characters: 15/20
Plot: 16/20
Originality: 18/20
Writing: 17/20
Recommendation: 16/20
Overall: 82/100 or B
Owen,Frank, Jin-Ae, and Audrey have never been happy. They are all suicidal. When they meet online, they become friends. They decide to go on a road trip and visit the graves of famous people that committed suicide. On the way, they find friendship and happiness that they have never had before. Maybe there is more to life then the pain and the sadness that they have had experienced.
Crash Into Me sounds amazing, but I never felt that the characters were really suicidal. I mean if they were suicidal, wouldn't they have just ended it, right then. I feel that it could have been such a strong story. If Borris had have developed the characters a bit more, I think that I would have enjoyed the characters more. The plot was well set up, by using the story, past chats, and top ten list to show what is happening. Borris had a fairly original and funny story that I enjoyed. Borris is a great writer and I can not wait to read other books from him. I recommend this book to people that enjoyed Impulse and You Know Where to Find Me.

Totally uncool...

I love TV. I also try to watch shows that others recommend, from the past and present. Hulu is an amazing tool. I use it to watch TV shows, when I am too busy to watch a show or want to watch a show that is no longer on TV(I miss My So-Called Life and Buffy). It saddens me to say that Hulu will probably start charging in 2010 for some shows. I find this to be a a stupid move. For example on their Terms of Services that I agreed to, it said that they will not charge you. Meaning that they would be breaking the Terms Of Services for early user. Hulu is a great place, but I do not see myself paying for some shows that I can find on the Network website. Also, Hulu is used by a lot of college students and I don't see many of them paying for it. There are commercials in the show, like there is on TV. Who would be willing to pay for Hulu?
The only reason that I could see myself paying for Hulu, is if they really extend what they broadcast. For example, if Hulu could get BBC and CBC programming. I think that a start idea for Hulu, would be to extend their customer basis. Like Hulu could allow, foreign users to use it. I see that if Hulu, does this that the users will probably not follow, and the model will not work out well.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Waiting on Wednesday (Week Thirty-Three)

Title: Fat Vampire: A Never Coming of Age Story
Author: Adam Rex
Publisher: Harperteen
Release Date: 6/29/2010

Doug Lee is undead quite by accident—attacked by a desperate vampire, he finds himself cursed with being fat and fifteen forever. When he has no luck finding some goth chick with a vampire fetish, he resorts to sucking the blood of cows under cover of the night. But it’s just not the same.
Then he meets the new Indian exchange student and falls for her—hard. Yeah, he wants to bite her, but he also wants to prove himself to her. But like the laws of life, love, and high school, the laws of vampire existence are complicated—it’s not as easy as studying Dracula. Especially when the star of Vampire Hunters is hot on your trail in an attempt to boost ratings.…
Leave it to Adam Rex to create a thought-provoking novel that takes on teen angst, sexuality, identity, love, and undeath in ways that break it out of the genre.
I want this book it looks so amazing. First off, how many fat vampires, have I read about? Let me think... zero. Plus it seems to have a romantic element. I think that this book might be like Vladimir Todd books.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

NaNoWriMo Update 2

Hope you enjoy.

I am thinking a about doing a contest with homemade candles and soap. If you would interested in that, leave a comment.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Little Black Lies by Tish Cohen

Characters: 17/20
Plot: 17/20
Originality: 17/20
Writing: 19/20
Recommendation: 18/20
Overall: 88/100 or B
Sara Black is a new eleventh grader at Anton High. Anton High School is the most elite public school in the nation. In Anton High’s world of privilege, intelligence, and wealth, Sara can escape her family’s tarnished past and become whomever she wants. And what’s the harm in telling a few little black lies when it can lead to popularity? That is, until another it girl at Anton becomes jealous of Sara’s social climbing. With her balance evaporating, one small push could bring Sara crashing down.
I don't usually like books about rich girls. I think that I could relate to it, because Sara felt out of place and wasn't rich. She is paranoid about others finding out about her. I think that everyone has felt this way. Sara was a realistic character and had interesting aspects about her. Her choices were not always the smartest thing but that is how most teens are. Cohen also developed the mean girl, well. When I learned what was happening with Carling, at home. I wish that their was more of a romantic plot. I wasn't sure if their romance was going to last or was even that real. Cohen is a great writer. Little Black Lies is a dramatic and cute book.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Contest time!

I have a spare copy of The Secret Year by Jennifer R. Hubbard. Here is what it is about:
Colt and Julia were secretly together for an entire year, and no one—not even Julia’s boyfriend— knew. They had nothing in common, with Julia in her country club world on Black Mountain and Colt from down on the flats, but it never mattered. Until Julia dies in a car accident, and Colt learns the price of secrecy. He can’t mourn Julia openly, and he’s tormented that he might have played a part in her death. When Julia’s journal ends up in his hands, Colt relives their year together at the same time that he’s desperately trying to forget her. But how do you get over someone who was never yours in the first place?
It is a stunning book and you will enjoy it.
To enter: What is the biggest secret that you think that someone could keep from you?
Extra entries:
1. New or Current follower. +5
2. Re-post it in any social network or blog. +3 each
3. +1 for each referral and +1 on being referred.
This Contest is open till November 26th at midnight. It is only open to USA addresses only.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Boneshaker by Cherie Priest

Characters: 18/20
Plot: 17/20
Originality: 18/20
Writing: 18/20
Recommendation: 18/20
Overall: 89/100 or B
In the earlier years of the Civil War, there were rumors about the Klondike gold rush. Wagon fulls of newcomers came the Pacific Northwest. The Russian prospectors are anxious to compete. It is no surprise that they hire Leviticus Blue to create a machine that could drill through the ice. Dr. Blue creates a machine called the Boneshaker. The test of the machine causes for something to go wrong. Most of downtown Seattle is destroyed. A blight gas is released from deep in the Earth. If that wasn't enough, the blight gas causes anyone that breathes it in, to become a part of the living dead.
It is sixteen years later, a wall has been built to keep in the blight gas in. Blue's widow and son, Briar and Ezekiel live just beyond the wall. Ezekiel wants to learn more about his father, he goes on a quest to find out more about him in the city.His quest will take him under the wall and into a city teeming with ravenous undead, air pirates, criminal overlords, and heavily armed refugees. And only Briar can bring him out alive.
I don't read many adult novels, but Boneshaker has cross appeal for the young adult audience. Briar seems to be awesome and a very strong women. She is unique. Ezekiel was interesting and a strong teen guy. The plot for Boneshaker was interesting and entertaining. I liked the fact that you weren't sure what was going to happen. I am also excited for the next book in this series. I haven't read many steampunks books, but Priest did an awesome job manipulating history and creating a great storyline. Priest is an amazing writer and creating great characters and plot. I recommend that you check out this book, if you like history with a bit of zombies, you will enjoy this.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Gringolandia Tour Stop

Gringolandia (ISBN 978-1-931896-49-8)
Lyn Miller-Lachmann
Release Date: May 1, 2009
Publisher: Curbstone Press
Pages: 250

Gringolandia tells the story of Daniel Aguilar. His father is a political prisoner in Chile. After years of imprisonment, Daniel's father is released. He noticed the damage that his father has after years of imprisonment. He tries to reach his father with the help of his "gringo" girlfriend Courtney, but soon finds himself in the democracy struggle of the country he thought he left behind.
Gringolandia is a very heartfelt and beautiful story. It is told in Daniel and Courtney's Perspective. It was an amazing way to see both of their perspectives. I also loved how vibrant the setting was. The plot was also interesting and like no book that I have read. It took such a serious topic and created a stunning book that will be in your heart for life. It reminds me a lot of Red Glass by Laura Resau.

Lyn Miller-Lachmann is the Editor-in-Chief of MultiCultural Review, the author of the award-winning reference book Our Family, Our Friends, Our World: An Annotated Guide to Significant Multicultural Books for Children and Teenagers (1992), the editor of Once Upon a Cuento (2003), a collection of short stories for young readers by Latino authors, and the author of the novel Dirt Cheap (2006), an eco-thriller for adult readers. For Gringolandia, she received a Work-in-Progress Grant from the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators.

I had the honor of interviewing Lyn Miller-Lachman, I hope you enjoy.
1. What, or who were your inspirations for Gringolandia? How was your trip to Chile for research in 1990?
In the 1980s I taught English to refugees and students from Central and South America. Through them and through friends who had fled the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet in Chile, I organized concerts of Chilean musicians whose songs protested the lack of freedom and human rights in their country. Many were living in exile, banned by the dictatorship from returning. Others, still in Chile, were forced to perform and to sell their recordings in secret while struggling to make a living in other ways and enduring the constant threat of arrest or death. I was moved by the heroism of these talented artists, and some of their stories were heartbreaking.
One of the musicians was expelled from Chile and separated from his young children, who remained behind with his ex-wife. Twelve years later, his son, then 18 years old, came to live with him. On tour through the United States, they stayed at my house for several days. Seeing them together gave me the idea for writing a novel about a son and a father separated for many years and then reunited after experiences that had so dramatically changed them both.
In fall 1989 I received a work-in-progress grant from the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators to conduct research in Chile. Several of the musicians whose concerts I had organized in the U.S. invited me to stay with them. My husband and I went to Chile in January 1990, less than three months before the official transition to a democratically elected government. So it was during the final months of the dictatorship, a particularly dangerous time because it was their last chance to settle scores against those who had put them out of power, as well as their last chance to cover up the atrocities they had committed over the previous 17 years.
In the month we were there, police or soldiers stopped vehicles in which we were riding four times, checking IDs and searching the vehicle. They never gave a reason. The scariest of these took place on a deserted road near the coast. The person we were riding with-a popular musician who was one of the most outspoken critics of the dictatorship-had taken a short cut to his in-laws' beach house. I suspect that he had taken this route that day, rather than a safer, more traveled road, because we were with him and our presence protected him. Anyway, when the soldiers saw our U.S. passports, they let all of us go.
The people I met in Chile were enthusiastic about the idea that someone would be writing about them and telling their stories to people in the United States. All of them knew about the U.S. government's involvement in the 1973 military coup that brought the dictatorship to power, so the welcomed a writer who would reveal the consequences of that event to U.S. readers. They were very open in sharing their experiences and their culture with me. I interviewed dozens of people in Santiago and in the south of Chile, which is a very beautiful part of the country.
2. You had quite the bumpy road for getting Gringolandia published. What did you learn most from that experience?
In the year and a half before I won the SCBWI grant and went to Chile I had been working with an editor at a large publisher. During that time, I would send her drafts of the novel, she'd send back suggestions for revision, and I'd make the revisions. Somehow, there were misunderstandings or miscommunication, because shortly before I was to leave for the research trip, she sent back the manuscript and said she no longer wanted to work with me. Nonetheless, I interviewed people and took notes as if the novel were going to be published, and I suppose on some level I believed it eventually would be published. When I shelved the manuscript, I felt guilty about all the time and hope that these generous and heroic Chileans had invested in me. In the end, it took less time for them to get rid of a dictatorship than for me to get the novel published!
The lesson I learned from this is never to give up, as things happen for a reason. After losing the contract from the large publisher, I shelved the manuscript for 16 years and said I'd never write fiction again. But in 2000, I started writing an adult novel; like Gringolandia, it was a story that wouldn't let me go. After much persistence, a few semesters of creative writing classes, and many rewrites, the adult novel, Dirt Cheap, found a home with a small nonprofit literary publisher, Curbstone Press, and came out in spring 2006. Knowing that I now had a publisher and an editor who loved my writing, I took out that old manuscript I'd researched in Chile and gutted it-keeping only the basic premise, the three main characters, and one and a half chapters (out of 33). The original story was written in third person-I changed it to first person. I even changed the title. The new version is so much better than what I'd written years ago, so in a way, I'm glad it came out now and not then. Since Curbstone Press was established in 1975 to publish fiction and poetry on themes of intercultural understanding and human rights, it really was the perfect publisher for Gringolandia, and I truly feel that the version I gave my editor there was the best novel that I could have written.
3. What do you love about writing Young Adult?
I've taught full-time or part-time at the middle and high school levels for nearly 30 years. I enjoy teaching and being with young people. It's such an exciting time of life. You're trying things for the first time and trying to figure out who you are and where you fit into the world. And it's a time of rebellion against what your parents and society want you to be, as you get to decide what you want to do with your life.
Writing young adult fiction allows me to capture that, whether it's a first love, or an immigrant teenager's choice of whether he wants to hold on to a place that doesn't hold great memories, or someone angry about an injustice in his or her life, in school, or in society. In Gringolandia, my protagonist Daniel deals with all of those issues. But the biggest issue he faces is who he is-a Chilean, an American, or a combination of the two. He has terrible memories of the country where he spent the first twelve years of his life, especially of soldiers breaking into his home and beating and arresting his father. When he gets to the United States, he doesn't want to hear anything about the country of his birth. He hasn't even told his mother, but he's started the process of becoming a U.S. citizen. Then his political prisoner father is released and rejoins his family in the United States. Although Daniel's father is permanently damaged from imprisonment and torture, he wants nothing more than to return to his country to continue the struggle against the dictatorship. So right away, you know there's going to be a huge problem between Daniel and his father, and how Daniel solves it will determine the person he will ultimately become and the life he will have.
4. What do you like about being editor-in-chief for MultiCultural Review? What are some of your favorite experience from being an editor?
The best thing about the job is seeing all the new books coming out each year, about all the cultures of the world. I learn a lot from them, and from the writers I work with. I also like shaping an issue, pulling together a variety of articles that touch on common themes, identifying those themes, and writing about them in my editorial or on my blog (, which often gives a preview of the upcoming issue.
My most memorable recent experience-which was both stressful and gratifying-was pulling together a debate involving a historical young adult novel that had been condemned by Native American reviewers and scholars for its inaccuracies. But I also wanted to give the author, who was not Native American but who lived in the community featured in the story, a chance to respond. And I wanted the entire debate to be a learning experience for anyone who's writing a novel about a culture to which they do not belong-in other words, anyone who's a cultural outsider. In all, four articles on this topic, along with my editorial summarizing the key themes, appeared in the Spring 2009 issue of MultiCultural Review. I'm very proud it how the issue turned out.
This debate is important because many books for teens are written by cultural outsiders-for instance, I am not Chilean but I'm writing about a Chilean family, and I am not Methodist, but Daniel's girlfriend, who narrates part of the story, is. People should have the right to write about other cultures besides their own, but they should also understand that there are right ways to go about it, and it's really easy to get it all wrong.
5. Is there anything that you would like to add?
I'd like to thank you, Sarah, for offering me this opportunity to be interviewed, and everyone who's reading this for your interest in my work. These were great questions, and I enjoyed thinking about them and responding to them. Please feel free to ask me any other questions, and if you miss me now, you may e-mail me later at

Papá coughs and turns toward my mother in the back seat. “Has the other one adjusted this well?”
She hesitates as if she too is surprised by the way he's asked the question. I think he should be proud of how we've done. Except for poor Tina.
“It's been hard,” Mamá says. “Daniel's helped a lot, especially with his sister. I thought he'd have the worst time, being older.”
“It wasn't that bad,” I mumble. I don't like to think about the first few months, when I couldn't understand what anyone was saying. I had no friends and sat alone in my bedroom playing the guitar my favorite uncle, Tío Claudio, had given me before I left Chile. My first soccer team changed all that. After a year or so, I learned enough English to avoid being a complete social and academic zero, and now I speak it with an accent that makes girls go wild.
“Well, don't get too comfortable,” Papá says. “We're going back to our country.”
My mouth drops open. “Marcelo,” my mother says in a low voice, almost a growl.
“As soon as I convince the rest of you to come with me.”
You're crazy, I want to say. After all they did to you, you want to go back? And what about our lives here? But I wait for Mamá to answer first, the way I've been raised to do.
“They gave you three days to leave. I assume you're banned from returning.”
Papá takes a final puff of his cigarette, drops it on the floor of Willie's van, and grinds it out with his good foot. “I have my ways.”
“Forget it. It's too dangerous.”
Papá glares at her, like she's not supposed to backtalk him either. I press my lips together as tight as I can and ease the van onto the interstate. I can't go back to Chile. Not even Mamá knows this, but I've written for the papers to get my U.S. citizenship, and when I turn eighteen, it's going to be official. I glance at Mamá through the rear view mirror. She looks helpless, confused, and small.
I turn the radio on low while Mamá and Papá talk about the situation in their faraway country. On the sports station they're still rehashing the Bulls game that finished a couple of hours ago. I listen until the station begins to crackle and fade. (from Gringolandia, pp. 27-28)

Leave a comment with an email address below and be entered to win a SIGNED copy of Gringolandia! (Open Internationally) Thank you to the author for this wonderful opportunity A winner will be picked tomorrow. So be sure to comment.

Also, be sure to check out the other stops of the tour!
Oct 29 Kelsey at The Book Scout
Oct 30 Lilibeth at ChicaReader
Nov 2 Reggie at The Undercover Book Lover (Not Really) book
Nov 3 Mariah at A Reader’s Adventure!
Nov 6 Sarah at Sarah’s Random Musings
Nov 9 Faye at Ramblings of a Teenage Bookworm
Nov 10 Melaine at Melaine’s Musings http://melanies–
Nov 11 Melaine at Melaine’s Musings book review
Nov 11 Hope at Hope’s Book Shelf

Thanks to Jo Ann Hernández at BronzeWord Latino Authors for setting up the tour. You can find her at

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Books Read in October:

185. Girl in the Arena by Lise Haines
186. This is What I Want to Tell You by Heather Duffy Stone
187. Boneshaker by Cherie Priest
188. Ballads of Suburbia by Stephanie Kuehnert
189. Going Bovine by Libba Bray
190. Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
191. The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
192. Struts & Frets by Jon Skovron
193. I'm a Genius of Unspeakable Evil and I Want To Be Your Class President by Josh Lieb
194. Gringolandia by Lyn Miller-Lachmann
195. Break by Hannah Moskowitz
196. The Cupcake Queen by Heather Helper
197. Handcuffs by Bethany Griffin
198. After The Moment by Garret Freymann-Weyr
199. The Van Alen Legacy by Melissa De La Cruz
200. Tricks by Ellen Hopkins
201. The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp

Reviews posted from these books: 8 of these books so far, a few are planned to be posted later.
Books from Library: 4 books
Books for Review: 7 books
Books borrowed: 0 books
My Favorite: Ballads or Before I Fall. They were both amazing and I am still thinking about them.
My Least Favorite: After The Moment... I think that this book could have been wonderful, if I could relate to the characters more and so much went down in this book that it was confusing.
100+ Reading Challenge: 201 read.
V.C. Andrews: Read Good Trash movement: 3 read. 8 to go
Debut Authors '09: 47 read

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

NaNoWriMo Update #1

I hope you enjoy the randomness...

Waiting on Wednesday(Week Thirty-Two)

Title: Very LeFreak
Author: Rachel Cohn
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Release Date: January 12, 2010
Very LeFreak has a problem: she’s a crazed technology addict. Very can’t get enough of her iPhone, laptop, IMs, text messages, whatever. If there’s any chance the incoming message, call, text, or photo might be from her supersecret online crush, she’s going to answer, no matter what. Nothing is too important: sleep, friends in mid-conversation, class, a meeting with the dean about academic probation. Soon enough, though, this obsession costs Very everything and everyone. Can she learn to block out the noise so she can finally hear her heart?Rachel Cohn makes her Knopf solo debut with this funny, touching, and surely recognizable story about a girl and the technology habit that threatens everything.
I love Rachel's books and this one looks so cute!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Tricks by Ellen Hopkins

Characters: 19/20
Plot: 16/20
Originality: 19/20
Writing: 19/20
Recommendation: 19/20
Overall: 93/100 or A
Tricks is a story of five teens that find them in a place that they never though that would be. Each characters comes from a different background and had their own journey there. Their stories are all intertwined and create a large story about making choices, taking leaps of faith, falling down, and growing up. All living their lives as best they can, but all searching...for freedom, safety, community, family, love. What they don't expect, though, is all that can happen when those powerful little words "I love you" are said for all the wrong reasons.
Tricks is a powerful book. The characters are like those that I know. I related to aspects from pretty much every character. They were definitely three dimensional. I cheered for their them and cried for all of their sadness. I felt that the plot moved a bit too slow for some of the characters and was resolved rather quickly. It was a original look on teen prostitution and how people get in to it. I love how Hopkins makes sure to keep the story real and edgy. Hopkins created a wonderful book that I think that you should check it out. At the end, you will be thinking "What if this happened to me?" and will want to read more.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Sunday, November 1, 2009

In My Mailbox (Week of November 1st)

I have also decided to do NaNoWriMo on top of Cybils. So wish me luck on both counts. Who else is doing Nano? I am over 3000 words. I don't think that many of them are good, but I'll save it for editing.


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