Thursday, May 30, 2013

Bookanistas Relaunch Celebration and Awesome Giveaway!

As May draws to a close, we're celebrating the start of summer and another great beginning: THE RELAUNCH OF THE BOOKANISTAS! New members, new logo, new website design, and a whole lot more of the book love we all adore!

I'm so thrilled to be a member of the Bookanistas because I love reading books as much (or maybe even a little more) as I love writing them! That's why I LOVE the newest feature on our Bookanistas website...a comprehensive list of all of our Bookanistas reviews! 

Go check it out: Bookanistas Review Archive

Seriously, you guys...any time this summer you need a new book to read, just head on over to the (gorgeous new) Bookanistas site and check out this list. It's going to be updated each week with our new reviews, so the list of awesome, Bookanista-approved books is just going to grow and grow and grow. 

And if you ever feel overwhelmed by ALL of the Bookanistas and the reviews we post each week, just follow our site or like our facebook page! Each week, all the links to all of our reviews will be posted there. So many new books to read, especially this summer. We all know there's nothing better than sitting poolside with an awesome book, right?

To celebrate our big relaunch, we're having a HUGE giveaway!

The winner of the Bookanistas Relaunch Giveaway of Awesome will receive signed copies of these Bookanista-authored books!

LET THE SKY FALL by Shannon Messenger
BY BLOOD by Tracy Banghart
TOUCHING THE SURFACE by Kimberly Sabatini (plus a swag surprise)
BAD TASTE IN BOYS by Carrie Harris
AUDITION by Stasia Ward Kehoe
THE GIRL GUIDE by Christine Fonseca (plus sweet swag)
MILA 2.0 by Debra Driza
LEVEL 2 by Lenore Appelhans

And a second winner will get a box filled with Bookanista-beloved reads!

Including WILL GRAYSON, WILL GRAYSON (signed!) by John Green & David Levithan, DITCHED by Robin Mellom, JELLICOE ROAD by Melina Marchetta, TAKEN by Erin Bowman, CLOCKWORK ANGEL by Cassandra Clare, MONSTROUS BEAUTY by Elizabeth Fama, and SPARROW ROAD by Sheila O’Connor.

Just enter using the super easy Rafflecopter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Want to see what the other Bookanistas are celebrating today? You can find lots more Bookanista Relaunch Book Love at our sites around the interwebs: Carolina Valdez MillerCarrie Harris,  Christine FonsecaCorrine JacksonDebra DrizaElana JohnsonKaty UppermanKimberly SabatiniLenore Appelhans,  Nikki KatzRebecca BehrensShannon Messenger , Shelli Johannes-WellsStasia Ward KehoeTracey NeithercottTracy Banghart  

Wednesday, May 29, 2013


YOU GUYS! I have big news over here! My awesome friend Kat has NEWS! Huge news! BOOK DEAL NEWS!

Do you remember when I celebrated Kat's agent signing? Well, now we're throwing another party for this awesomeness that was posted in Publisher's Marketplace late last night:

Kathryn Rose's CAMELOT BURNING, pitched as "Camelotpunk," about a girl who longs to escape corsets and court life for the marvel of working with machines and alchemy alongside the legendary Merlin, to Brian Farrey-Latz at Flux, in a nice deal, in a two-book deal, for publication in Summer 2014, byBrittany Howard at Corvisiero Literary Agency (World).


I love exciting book deal news, but I love it even more when it comes from one of my nearest and dearest writing friends! I am THRILLED BEYOND BELIEF for Kat...she's been a constant cheerleader, support system, and amazing friend since we met for the first time, and I love celebrating the successes of my inner circle. And how amazing does that book sound. CAMELOT STEAMPUNK, YOU GUYS. I mean, really.

Join in the celebration! Go leave Kat some love on her blog and follow her on Twitter if you don't already (@KatLovesBoho)!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Bookanistas Links

I told you guys yesterday that I haven't read a book in a million years, but luckily the rest of the Bookanistas are picking up my slack! Check out all of these awesome book recs today...

Elana Johson is enthralled by CROWN OF EMBERS by Rae Carson 

Stasia Ward Kehoe is mesmerized by GRAVE MERCY by Robin LaFevers

Christine Fonseca  adores DEAD SILENCE by Kimberly Derting

Corrine Jackson revels in ALONG FOR THE RIDE by Sarah Dessen

Katy Upperman is charmed by QUINTANA OF CHARYN by Melina Marchetta

Kimberly Sabatini is touched by TARNISH by Katherine Longshore

Lenore Appelhans  loves The Originals by Cat Patrick 

Happy Thursday, everyone!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

What's Up, Wednesday?

Hopping in with the What's Up Wednesday fun! Started bJaime Morrow and Erin Funk, this is "similar in some respects to the Currently… post, but it’s been whittled down to only four headings to make it quicker and more manageable on a weekly basis. You’re invited to join us if you’re looking for something to blog about, a way to let your blog friends know what’s been going on with you."

I've been in hiding (you'll see why...kinda), so I figure it's a good time to do a quick update!

What I’m Reading: OMG you guys, I haven't read a book in so long! This is SO unlike me. I've been
so busy writing (see below) that my free time for reading has gone way down. I read James Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man for grad school, and I actually liked it a lot more than I expected. It was cool they picked a classic with a bit of a YA vibe for our program book in common. (I'm in the Writing for Children and YA concentration, but the entire program - fiction, poetry, creative non-fiction, and screen/playwriting - reads the same book for discussion at our residency. Joyce is Irish, residency is in Ireland, know. Perfect choice.) 

I have a TON of awesome books waiting for me to read...hopefully I can pick them up as soon as school gets out next month. I only have 16 days left, and, boy, am I ready for summer! And catching up on my TBR! I’m Writing: Well, I'm actually working on a secret-ish project! It's something I haven't told you guys about, and it's something different and new and fun, and, well, it's been taking up pretty much all of my free time. When I'm not working, sleeping, working out, or eating, I'm working on this project. I can't really say too much more than that, except to say that whatever you think it're wrong. Heh. I know, I know, keeping secrets is annoying. 

My previous project, In Real Life, needed a major overhaul to Act 1. I'm still mulling over the best way to go about this. They all say the best way to figure out these problems is to put the project away for awhile to give you some perfective, so that's exactly what I've done. Just like my TBR pile, IRL is also chillin' and waiting patiently for summer, so I can turn my attention back in its direction. I find myself missing these characters and this world so much...I really want to get back to them again soon. 

What Else I’ve Been Up To: Counting down to the end of the school year. Going back to CrossFit
Not Me (Source)
and doing Power Cleans like a boss. Spending time with my family. Loving on Gunner. Moving from my tiny apartment to a big, luxurious apartment. Hanging out in San Diego with my favorite people. Seeing a concert or two. Retreating in the mountains for a weekend with my writer besties. Instagramming. Practicing my lip sync act for the school's talent show tomorrow night. Thinking positive thoughts and using The Secret. Tweeting. Falling on my back in the middle of my classroom. Breaking my toe (maybe). Cheering on my writer friends. Having a beer on my awesome new patio. Falling asleep on the couch. 

I think that just about covers it.

What Inspires Me Right Now: SUMMER! It's just around the corner, and it's all of my favorite
Galway (Source)
things. A break from work. Sleeping in. Cuddling with the dog. Lots of time to read and write. And, of course, my MFA residency in Ireland (Dublin and Galway), my annual girls' trip to Vegas, and the SCBWI LA conference! I'm so excited for everything this summer holds, and that's what getting me through these last exhausting few weeks of school. 

So, what are you guys up to lately?

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Bookanistas Links

No Bookanista review from me today; I'm deep in the writing cave and I haven't had a free second to read anything fun. Boo! But check out these great reviews from the other many awesome books today!

Lenore Appelhans  is blown away by REBOOT by Amy Tintera

Carrie Harris adores BEYOND DINOCALYPSE by Chuck Wendig -- with giveaway!
Tracy Banghart  & Debra Driza join THE GIRL GUIDE by Christine Fonseca book blitz!
 Corrine Jackson is stunned by BREAKING BEAUTIFUL by Jennifer Shaw Wolf
Nikki Katz  wonders at THE GRAVE WINNER by Lindsey Loucks
Gretchen McNeil talks TRUTH OR DARE by Jacqueline Green
Elana Johnson admires INSOMNIA by Jenn Johannson
Tracey Neithercott celebrates THE YEAR OF SECRET ASSIGNMENTS by Jacqueline Moriarty
Katy Upperman fawns over FINNIKIN OF THE ROCK by Melina Marchetta
Rebecca Behrens is wowed by THE FIFTH WAVE by Rick Yancey

And keep an eye on this space...we have some exciting Bookanista news coming up soon! Happy Thursday!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Coachella 2013 (And How I Slept Through an Entire Set Because I'm Old)

Another fun thing I did while in the midst of moving craziness was attend the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival for the second year! And this time...I camped!

Our wristbands
Our street
Our awesome campsite
I have to admit, I was a little wary at the idea of camping. I'm OLD, and I like things like hotel beds and indoor plumbing and showers. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy camping. But camping at a music festival? Where I'd be surrounded by 18-year-old stoners? I was pretty sure I was way too old and grouchy for that mess. 

Erin, Claire, and me. My favorite camp and music buddies.
Well, it turns out that camping was a freaking BLAST. Here was the key...three of us and two campsites. On one campsite we set up our big tent, complete with comfy air mattresses, and on the other campsite we had an EZ-Up with blankets, chairs, a camp stove, and our coolers. We had the best much better than the people who had like six people squeezed into one space, with only room for a tent.
Mmm. Bacon.
We also brought tons of food and supplies. Claire hooked us up with breakfast every morning, cooking bacon and making breakfast burritos on the camp stove. We had snacks and drinks for days, and it was so fun sitting under our shady EZ-Up playing Cards Against Humanity with our campsite neighbors. 

It was difficult to pick a winner on this one.
Ah yes, and then there was the actual festival. I heard some people complaining about the lineup this year, but those people were insane. Due to some scheduling and logistical issues (like a lost car key...meep!), I didn't see every band I was hoping to see. But I did see so much awesome, it was sort of ridiculous. 

Lord Huron
The Neighbourhood
Jake Bugg
The Shouting Matches
Of Monsters and Men
And I caught some of Metric, Band of Horses, and Blur

Lord Huron
The Neighbourhood
The Shouting Matches
Jason Bentley
My friends saw Grizzly Bear while I fell asleep in the middle of the dang show like the old woman I am
The Postal Service (with Jenny awesome)
The xx
Claire and I taking a little break during Jason Bentley while Creeper McGoo behind us films us without our knowledge. Awesome. 
Sleeping through Grizzly Bear like a boss
James Blake
La Roux
Some of Pretty Lights and Red Hot Chili Peppers

La Roux
Highlights were Alt-J, The xx, and La Roux, who was surprisingly awesome and fun.

This snail just scooted around the whole weekend and I loved it
I've learned that you can go to Coachella with a plan, but it never fails that two bands you love will be playing at the exact same time, or something crazy will happen, and you won't be able to see everyone you want to see. Like I said, I lost my car key. It fell out of my purse as I was walking around the festival on Saturday, and I thought for sure it was lost forever and I was going to be stuck in the desert. So I had to sacrifice about an hour of band time on Sunday to waiting in line at the lost and found, where THEY ACTUALLY HAD MY CAR KEY (this still amazes me)...yeah, I had to miss a lot of the Sunday fun, but at least I was able to drive home. 

Really, the best part of the weekend was just enjoying music and good times with two of my bestest friends. Claire, Erin, and I had so much fun just hanging out, talking, and enjoying some of our favorite music. 

This is pretty much my personality, right here in the background of this wacky photo of Claire
The lowlight was the phone charging situation for campers. There were plenty of places to plug in, but for some reason my phone and battery were just not cooperating. My phone was dead for most of Saturday and half of Sunday, even though I charged it for hours. I get a lot of anxiety when my phone isn't working, but, ah well. So I couldn't's not the end of the world. I still had a blast.

Coming back to the real world was hard. (Especially because my car wouldn't start on Monday morning...oh, the car issues I had.) Yeah, it was nice to take an actual shower and use an actual bathroom, but there's something magical about that desert. 

**Most of these pictures were taken by Erin...she is actually a good photographer, unlike me.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

BOOKANISTAS: The Rules for Disappearing

She’s been six different people in six different places: Madeline in Ohio, Isabelle in Missouri, Olivia in Kentucky . . . But now that she’s been transplanted to rural Louisiana, she has decided that this fake identity will be her last.

Witness Protection has taken nearly everything from her. But for now, they’ve given her a new name, Megan Rose Jones, and a horrible hair color. For the past eight months, Meg has begged her father to answer one question: What on earth did he do – or see – that landed them in this god-awful mess? Meg has just about had it with all the Suits’ rules — and her dad’s silence. If he won’t help, it’s time she got some answers for herself.

But Meg isn’t counting on Ethan Landry, an adorable Louisiana farm boy who’s too smart for his own good. He knows Meg is hiding something big. And it just might get both of them killed. As they embark on a perilous journey to free her family once and for all, Meg discovers that there’s only one rule that really matters — survival.

What drew me to this book right away was this interesting premise - a teen girl in witness protection, having to relocate all the time because of something her dad did or saw that she doesn't know. I've never really heard of anything like this before.
The book ended up being a really fun mystery, as Meg tries to figure out what her dad did and how to get her and her sister out of their miserable situation. There were a lot of surprises for me as I went through the story, and it's always fun with a book surprises me.
What was cool to see in this book was the opposite of what I see in most YA books - here we had a girl who is naturally popular trying to stay under the radar and not be popular, get involved, or make friends. It was the flip side of a common storyline in YA, and I enjoyed watching Meg try to go against her normal friendly and outgoing nature as she tried to keep free from attachments in her new life.
This book was an entertaining mystery that kept me guessing and was super fun to read. I look forward to more books by Ashley Elston in the future!

Check out what the other Bookanistas are up to today...

Christine Fonseca  marvels at MILA 2.0 by Debra Driza – with giveaway!
Corrine Jackson is blown away by BRUISED by Sarah Skilton
Elana Johson  buzzes about STUNG by Bethany Wiggins
Stasia Ward Kehoe fawns over THE FIFTH WAVE by Rick Yancey
Shannon Messenger  shares an exclusive excerpt from INSOMNIA
Tracy Banghart  swoons for THE NAME OF THE STAR by Maureen Johnson
Lenore Appelhans celebrates 17 AND GONE by Nova Ren Suma

Monday, May 6, 2013

Rocking The Drop and World Book Night

Things have been nuts here at the Love Shack, and I haven't had a chance to sit down and properly update. Mainly this is due to the fact that the Love Shack has actually relocated. We moved a couple of miles up the road over the past few weeks, and, man, has that been a process.

During that process, I did a couple of fun things I want to be sure to update you on. One exciting thing I did was scatter free books across the greater Orange County area as I participated in both Rock The Drop and World Book Night!

Rock The Drop

Thursday, April 18 was Teen Lit Day, which YA lovers across the country celebrated by dropping a YA book out in the world for teen readers to find and love. Since I was in the process of packing, I found TEN books to drop throughout the day! Here's what I did...

All 10 of my books, stacked up and ready to go!

I dropped the first one on the brick wall outside of my apartment complex. A lot of local teens walk my street on the way to the high school, so I knew it would be picked up quickly.

I dropped the second one on a table outside of the bagel place down the street from my work. I work at a middle school and there is a high school directly across the street, so this bagel place is a happening spot in the mornings before school. 

During my free period at work, I grabbed a bunch of books and snuck across the street to the high school, where I immediately picked out this bright yellow Bug and dropped a matching book on the front of it. 

I was hoping to get in and out of the high school without being spotted, but, of course, the second I stepped foot on campus I was peeped by the AP. I heard, "Jessica! Are you LOST?!" right when I was trying to sneakily drop a book. Luckily I know her, and I explained what I was doing pretty quickly and she let me go on my way. Whew. I dropped three more books around campus before I snuck back to my classroom in time to teach my next class. 

Once my school got out, I dropped this book along the path the kids walk to get home. I was standing near it doing my after school duty and I totally saw it get snatched up! Yes!

I had to hurry home from work to walk Gunner, but I figured he could help me out with my efforts, so I brought a book along with us on our walk and dropped it here under this tree. He was very proud of himself for helping out. 

I had some errands to run after work, so this book came along with me and got dropped outside the frozen yogurt shop. 

And my last book of the day got dropped on a table at Starbucks. 

This was my fourth year participating in Rock The Drop, and it continues to be one of my favorite days of the year! It was a fun challenge trying to find a spot to drop ten books throughout the day, but I guess it helps that I have access to a high school campus without seeming like a total creeper.

World Book Night

Just a week later, on April 23, was World Book Night. If you aren't familiar with World Book Night, you can read about it here. Basically, you can sign up to be a Giver and you're given a big box of the book of your choice to hand out to reluctant readers. I participated last year and loved it, so I was very excited to sign up again this year...and even more excited to see that Looking for Alaska by John Green, one of my favorite books, was on the giveaway list this year!

Last year I gave my books to other teachers at my school to put in their classroom libraries, which was great, but a little anti-climactic. So this year I decided to give my copies directly to my students.

I typed up a little note explaining that the books was theirs to keep, but I encouraged them to pass it along when they were done with it and to come talk to me about it if they liked it. Then I gave it to students of mine who I thought would enjoy it or students who I felt were ready to have their lives changed by this awesome book.

I loved hearing the thank yous from the students who appreciated it. And, even more, I love actually seeing them read it in class. It's awesome. I've already had one girl come in to talk to me about it, and I promptly handed her The Fault in our Stars as a follow-up.

Sharing my love of books and reading with others is one of my very favorite things to do, and I was so excited that April gave me two awesome opportunities to share the love.

Thursday, May 2, 2013


Can we please talk about my awesome friend Rachel Searles? Exactly one year ago we were on a writing retreat and Rachel was polishing up her ms for an agent critique she won in a blog giveaway. Since that retreat a year ago, Rachel signed with that agent, sold her book, and now, one year later, I am celebrating her book cover here on my blog, and she has ARCs of her book sitting in her house. How amazing is that? It really goes to show you how things can turn around quickly for you, even in this notoriously slow business.

Anyway, Rachel's cover is amazeballs. If you haven't seen the beautiful cover of THE LOST PLANET, her upper MG space adventure, well, feast your eyes on this beauty:

A thirteen-year-old boy with no memory is hunted through the galaxy with two unlikely allies as he searches for the truth about his past.

I couldn't love this cover more. Gorgeous, gorgeous artwork, and it looks like an exciting movie poster! This is definitely something kids are going to reach for in the bookstore!

If you haven't done it yet, be sure to add THE LOST PLANET on Goodreads. This is a book you aren't going to want to miss!

Check out what the other Bookanistas are up to:

Tracey Neithercott is pepped about PIVOT POINT by Kasie West 

Shari Arnold marvels at THE REECE MALCOM LIST by Amy Spalding

Nikki Katz delves into SOMETHING STRANGE AND DEADLY by Susan Dennard

Katy Upperman raves about some recent reads