Other places you can find me at: here and here.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Back to Books: Wendy Toliver + Contest | Day 007

Back to school!

I admit it. When I was in elementary, middle, and high school, I absolutely loved going back to school. I'd have my first-day-of-school outfit picked out days in advance, from shoes to earrings. I was always something new and cool that didn't look like I was trying too hard. I'd daydream about who the teacher would assign me to sit next to. An interesting new kid? The guy at the pool I'd been crushing on all summer? A snarky girl with lipstick on her teeth? New school supplies, a new book bag, a home-packed lunch complete with a foil-wrapped drink (to keep it cold)--I loved every last detail.

I'd know who my teachers were and when I got into middle and high school, I'd have my class schedule memorized. But then I went off to college and something strange happened. On my first day, I got up late, threw something on, and biked to campus with absolutely no clue what classes I'd signed up for, let alone where on the enormous campus they were located. Of course, with time I figured things out, but those first couple of weeks, I just kind of walked around in a haze, unpunctual, uncoiffed, and unstyled.

So, what about you? Are (or were) you one who planned everything out when school started, or did you just kind of show up and hope for the best?

Wendy Toliver
Author of Teen Fiction
visit me at

To win a SIGNED copy of The Secret Life of a Teenage Siren, use this form! Swag is also included in this giveaway, and will be mailed by the author! Ends 09/13 at midnight! (California time)

Monday, August 30, 2010

Back to Books: Lauren Oliver | Day 006

As I am writing this, it’s August 24th and I’m in Paris, eating loads of baguette and watching vespas zoom on the single-lane, cobblestone-lined street beneath my window, and I am thinking about school.
You might wonder why I’m thinking about school. Shouldn’t I be thinking about accordian-playing mimes, and cute French waiters, and more baguettes?
Mais non, mes amis.
Parisians take summer vacation very seriously. VERY seriously. Everybody takes vacation in France in August—and not for one week, or ten days, but for the entire month. That is not an exaggeration. Bakeries shut down. Butchers shutter their windows; boutiques lock their doors. The streets are empty of Parisians. The mornings dawn misty and quiet, the evening smolder in silence. It is actually a very peaceful time to be in France…if you don’t want to buy anything!
Here’s another example of how seriously French people take les vacances d’ete (summer vacation). There is a famous, famous ice cream shop here called Berthillon. It has exactly one location, on the Ile St Louis, an island in the center of Paris. It does not export its ice cream. You cannot find its ice cream outside of France, or even outside of Paris. And it sells nothing but ice cream—no cookies, no chocolate, no bars of nougatine. Just ice cream.
It is also closed for two full months of every year. Guess which ones?
July and August.
And then, suddenly, at the end of August is la rentree: literally translated to the re-entering, it is when Parisians pour back into Paris, and the bakeries fling open their doors again and begin churning out their heavenly baguettes, and the boutiques and papeteries are packed with families shopping for back-to-school clothing and supplies. This might be my favorite time to be in Paris: la rentree is all about optimism, and energy, and hope for the new year.
That’s what I always loved about going back to school in the fall. It offered a chance of reinvention: new clothes, new binders, untouched sheaths of paper, unused pens. The promise of new friends and (possibly, please God, please God) new adorably hot transfer students who would fall madly in love with you during chem..
And okay, yeah—so most of the time it didn’t work out that way. Within a week, your new clothes are just newer old clothes and you still have nothing to wear, while that annoyingly perfect student body vice president looks like a freaking runway model every day of her life—meanwhile, the only transfer student is weird and short and smells permanently like meatball subs. (Or, if he is cute, he’s already dating the student body president.)
But the point is the start of the school year is all about hope and new beginnings—so much more so, I think, than the actual new year. (Who wants to celebrate new beginnings when it’s like, negative five thousand degrees outside and everyone you know has the flu?)
So make a wish. Heck, make a resolution. And happy New Year!

Lauren, the other one, is giving away a copy of BEFORE I FALL. Click here to enter!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Back to Books: Shelby | Day 005

"The Time I Leaped Across Desks", AND A BOOK GIVEAWAY! :D

Hi everyone! :) I think Lauren is going to mention this anyway, but I’m Shelby (
@sbarwood, This is my first real guest blog, so I’m pretty excited. I’ve decided to tell you a True High School Story. (Wow, MTV should totally get the rights to that. Just sayin.)

My high school experience was…incredibly bizarre, really. I live in a town of approximately 15,000 people. Sounds small, right? It is. My graduating class only had about one hundred people. If I didn’t know all of their names, I at least knew all of their faces. As you can imagine, this made it incredibly hard to just stick to myself and read, the way I like to do. I didn’t fit into any cliques, and let me tell you, in a rural Alabama school, if you’re not in a clique you might as well be dog shit. (Wait, can I say that? Whatever. Let’s PG-13 it up.) Sure, I had friends, but let’s face it: I was an outcast. And not the cool one with a k who can drop beats.

Enter Mr. Jameson. Mr. Jameson was fresh out of college when they hired him to be our Geometry teacher, and…well…sometimes I felt sorry for him. Mr. Jameson was very good at Geometry, but he had no idea how to teach Geometry to his students. He could work the problems in just a few minutes, but showing us how to do the problems put so much stress on him you would have thought he was trying to teach a bunch of Portugese-speaking Rottweilers. About a week into the school year, he decided that from then on, every day, we would come into Geometry, and he'd hand us a Connect-the-Dot and if we did it, we’d get an A.

You can’t make this up. To this day I have no spatial sense whatsoever.

Well, Mr. Jameson’s class was in the middle of the long hallway that comprised the 300 building. Apparently, way back in the sixties when our high school was built, one set of workers had started building on one side of the building, and another set of workers had started building on the opposite side of the building, and when they met in the middle, they didn’t have enough room left for a complete classroom. So the Geometry classroom was inanely small. We had so many desks in our classroom that there were no aisles; you literally had to climb across the desks to reach your seat. As you can imagine, the fire safety people conveniently overlooked it.

Into the middle of this cruel and unusual torture-chamber I was thrust. I usually got the Connect-the-Dot done in the first five or seven minutes of class and read a book the rest of the block. Mostly everyone else, of course, behaved like monkeys, which only further disturbed our on-edge Geometry teacher. Well, for some reason that September day, this nightmarish girl LaShonne who always had something to say about anyone decided that it was time to start firing her mouth off about me.

Now, I wasn’t having the greatest day. I had just found out that the boy I had been crushing on for weeks had started dating one of my band frienemies. On top of that, I had forgotten my lunch money and had only been able to get a Rice Krispy Treat for lunch, even though our school had promised our parents that they were instituting “Healthy Lunches.” (Oh, please! Since when is fried chicken and pizza a part of a healthy lunch?!) So I was very ready to snap at someone, if they gave me the chance.

LaShonne was as dumb as she was mean-hearted (she actually graduated a year late) so she didn’t notice the Look of Doom glaring out of my eye sockets. She started loudly telling me how ugly my outfit was and how fat it made me look. When I fixed her with the Death Glare, she demanded, “What the hell are you looking at?”

“Shut up, LaShonne,” I warned.

“Bitch, don’t tell me to shut up! I’ll say whatever the hell I want! You can’t tell me to do nothing, you fatass.”

“Shut. Your mouth, LaShonne.”

“You need to take your fat horse away from me before I knock you out!”

I’m still not sure why, but something inside me kind of…snapped. I slammed my book down on my desk, flung myself out of my seat, and shouted, “I’m not putting up with this anymore!” I spun around to storm away, but was trapped by the blockade of aisle-less desks. In a fury, I climbed on top of them, walking and leaping over several people’s (thankfully) empty desks, and stomped to the door, slamming it painfully behind myself.

Of course, I couldn’t make quite the exit Anger had planned for me. Anger wanted me to triumphantly storm home. (I was just a freshman, too young to have a car yet.) As I walked down toward the band room, though, I realized that Anger had grossly miscalculated, as it is wont to do.

I had left my purse in the Geometry class. Keys, money, learner’s permit, all there in that bag. I stopped, feeling hot, humid Alabama air on my face. I didn’t want to go back, but I didn’t want to leave anything valuable in there alone, either. Sighing, I turned back.

As I walked, anxiety crept into my throat. I had just broken at least twenty school rules and slammed the door in my teacher’s face. My feet got heavier. I was in so much trouble. I wondered how many weeks of detention I would get for this. Detention in a rural Alabama school isn’t like detention in a normal school. In a rural Alabama school, you’re shoved in a room with no air conditioning and no fans even though it’s a hundred plus degrees out. Talk about hell. On top of that, they would probably call my parents, and who knew what they would do to me. I’d never really been in trouble in my life, or been grounded. I was just a “good kid,” y’know?

I hesitated outside the peeling door of my Geometry class before steeling myself for the onslaught that waited for me and shoving open the door. It was silent as the grave inside—fitting, since I figured I’d soon be in one. Mr. Jameson looked up at me as I came in. “All right, people,” he barked. “We’ve had about enough for today, so just finish your work.” And we did, sitting with our heads down, not speaking at all. I sent furtive glances in Mr. Jameson’s direction, certain that at any moment he would tell me how much trouble I was in.

As I dreaded, when the bell rang Mr. Jameson called me to the front. I didn’t have any excuses on hand. I’d never acted like that before. I considered pretending to cry. I considered crying for real. Mr. Jameson leaned over his stool, staring into my face. I stared back, trying to remember how to make my chin quiver.

His face burst into a smile. “Great job, Barwood. I’ve been waiting to tell that girl off for weeks. She really needs to learn when to keep her mouth shut.”

I gaped. Was he serious? “Ummm…”

He flashed me the thumbs-up sign before turning away, effectively dismissing me. I stood there numbly for a few seconds before I remembered how to operate my legs. As if that weren’t disconcerting enough, a girl from band smiled at me and said, “That was seriously awesome. She’s awful, isn’t she?” I just nodded, realizing that I had apparently done something cool.

And you know what? LaShonne didn’t say another word to me the whole year. :)

Hope you guys enjoyed! A gigantic shout-out to Lauren and Kim for hosting this thing and being completely awesome about my procrastination addiction!

And now, just for fun, I have a shameless promotional
GIVEAWAY of Maggie Stiefvater's SIGNED SHIVER and LINGER! :D Get excited.

...Not that excited. Pull it back, pull it back.

Here are The Rules:

1. Open to anyone on the continent of North America. (If you don't live on the continent of North America,
follow me on Twitter to learn about my upcoming inter-continental contest! :D)

2. The Giveaway will be open until
September 5th, 2010 at 7:00 CST. The winner will be announced and notified the next day, September 6th, 2010 (Labor Day) between 10:00 and 12:00 CST.

3. Fill out the
Entry Form. All fields marked with an asterisk MUST be filled out! If they are not filled out, your entry will not be counted.

4. Extra entries will be factored in accordingly, and each individual entry will receive a number. A winner will be randomly selected using

Before you attempt extra entries, please be aware that I
WILL be checking to make sure no one is attempting to cheat. Also, please don't create blogs/Twitter accounts merely for the purpose of entering this contest. (It's just dishonest!)
If you have any questions, feel free to leave comments and ask them! Have fun, and good luck! :)

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Back to Books : WORD For Teens | Day 004

The Library Before First Period
Or, in which we learn that throwing books is a really bad idea.

I am a nerd. I wear the label proudly, as do most of my friends. We call ourselves the Nerd Herd; I've been called Queen of the Nerds; our favorite English teacher calls himself our Emperor, and our librarian argues with him and insists that she is the one who really leads us.

Either way, last year was my last year of high school. (Sad!) The group of us spent as much time as possible in the library before we left - during lunch periods, whenever we had a free period, when our teachers would let us out of class.

But, most importantly, we hung out in the library before first period.

This was something that we had done since freshman year. The entire point of this post is that going to the library - or at least, in my case - is a great way to make friends. I would need both hands and both feet to count the number of people I've met and become friends with just by hanging out there. We're computer geeks, book nerds, comic obsessed, manga lovers - you name anybody who falls under the 'May Be Socially Awkward' division, and we're in the library. And you become really good friends with your librarian.

This is very beneficial. And I can't even start with the number of stories I have from the library that would have gotten us in trouble had my friends and I not been close to my librarian.

For instance:

Sophomore year, my friends Keith and Gerald and I were working on a project for our English class. We had two options: make a video of whatever skit we were working on, or present the skit live to the front of the class. None of us liked the idea of presenting the skit live. We were all rather awkward in front of large groups.

Besides, our skit involved throwing things.

See, we had to write a scene, ten years after the end of the play, for The Taming of the Shrew. I was playing Kate, Keith was playing Petruchio, and Gerald was playing a poor servant who gets hit as I throw books.

Our librarian at the time was Mr. Stevens. (This changed at the beginning of our senior year, and I'm closer to that librarian than I ever was to Mr. Stevens. She also happens to read WORD regularly, so we always have a lot to talk about.) Now, Mr. Stevens was your typical nerdy male librarian. He agreed to let us stay after school and perform the skit, and he would film it for us. He even supplied old, kind of crappy books for me to throw so I wouldn't have to ruin any of mine.

Now, I have really bad aim. It took multiple tries to even get a shot that looked like I had hit Gerald. Most of the time, I ended up hitting Keith.

But none of my bad aim compares to what happened to poor Mr. Stevens. As Gerald went to toss one of the books back to me, it flew at an awkwardly low angle just as Mr. Stevens was standing up.

And it hit him in a very, er, precarious spot.

Needless to say, I coudn't stop laughing, Keith was rolling on the ground, the library assistant was doubled over, and Gerald was trying to help Mr. Stevens stand back up.

He still let us finish filming, too.

What was the point of this story? You can make friends in the library so long as you just say something. Talk to your librarian. Ask what other people are reading. Just say hi and introduce yourself.

Oh, and if you can't aim - don't throw things.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Back to Books: Giveaway from Lauren | Day 003

Hello! I'm Lauren from The Here. The Now. And the Books!

Ok, so school...I have mixed feelings to say the least. I have the passion to learn...but only with things I want to learn, which, as you can imagine, are limited.

Getting up at 6:30am for school seems like Hell to me, too. Why can't we have night school? I'd function better!

Yes, school does put a dent in reading time, but it doesn't stop me from reading, of course! We have a specific period of 30min. to read each day, actually.

Usually, I'm the only one reading, though. *sigh*

There aren't a lot of readers at my school, unfortunatly. I blame this on the fact that A.) Some people just don't like to read. B.) Reading is a challenge for some. or C.) The person has not found the right book, yet.

Up until 4th grade, I hated reading. No kid.

I mean, come on! The school's books were pretty boring. And I'm a picky reader. I'm not that reading gal that can pick up any book and read, I don't work that way.

But I started reading A Series of Unfortunate Events, which lead to Artemis Fowl, which lead to Harry Potter, and then to Twilight.

A Series of Unfortunate Events was my starting point. I love those books. I was finally able to see that reading was indeed enjoyable. I found my right book. My starting book, so to speak.

So, in honor of going back to school soon (Or, like me, you're already in school!), I'm giving away 2 books. Hopefully, you'll love them, maybe spread them to a person as their spark for reading.
The books will be given away together, and they are:

These books rock! Sexy, edge-y, romantic. Love!

All you have to do is fill out THIS form.

Note: No, you can't enter in both places. If you do, one entry will be taken away. If you lie, faeries will come dance with you until you die. :)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Back to Books: J.P. from YA Urban | Day 002


So today I'm posting about Back 2 Books. . .and I'm going to be talking mostly about the school environment - oh, and cliques. Maybe some people think there are the same "groups" in every school; maybe you don't. But I'm here to tell you that the school I go to isn't the same as a lot of schools. We are a small Catholic school and we have somewhere around 600 students total, Pre-K through eighth grade. In the higher grades, there are the jocks, and the other people. Not even kidding. We don't have "preppy girls," "cheerleaders." I guess you could call us (the non-jock, book/music people) indies. When we were immature, say, fourth grade, there was an infinite siege between the two forces; now, the "indies" are the matures ones (IMO), and we just ignore it when the sport-obsessed jocks think they're the hottest thing out there. We're cool like that. ^^

So - to celebrate Back 2 Books, I'm having a national giveaway of HUSH, HUSH. Why this book? Because a lot of the story's plot and/or storyline is set at school, and the novel often focuses on that. To enter, all you have to do is comment on this post. If you want +1, tweet "Back 2 Books: School + HUSH, HUSH. @jpmsull @WonderGirl12 "" I'll be in charge of the contest.


Monday, August 23, 2010

Back to Books: Piratepenguin Reads | Day 001

So summer’s ending and that means it’s time to go back to school.
I can already feel my internal clock readjusting itself in preparation for getting up early.
But you know what school can’t take away from me? The time to sit down and read a book; sure, I’ll have to carve out a few minutes of each day but as an intense bookworm, I make that commitment (even when it’s time for finals!). While I love gobbling up new stories, there are some books that I always revisit every year. You could call them my comfort reads; I’m pretty sure everyone has some. Today I’ll be telling you my Top Five Comfort Reads.
Maybe we’ll have some in common! :D
Top Five Comfort Reads
1.) Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte-I was first introduced to Jane Eyre when I was around 11 or 12. My friend (who was also the same age as me (and they say kids don’t read!)) lent me the book, saying that I’d love it. Her copy had a dark, almost dreary cover and was very beat-up; I wasn’t convinced that I’d love it—but I gave it a try and ended up falling passionately in love with the story. The main character, Jane Eyre, had all the traits that I wanted in a heroine. She is clever, brutally honest and has an iron will that wouldn’t bend for anyone-not even the love of her life. She goes through so much but gets her happy ending without compromising her moral values. It’s an amazing book and it’s perfect for a rainy day!
2.) Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen-who hasn’t heard of Mr.Darcy? Again, the same friend who introduced me to Jane Eyre made me try P&P and my life hasn’t been the same since. Jane Austen was the author that really pulled me into the British regency period and made me curious to know more. Tall, handsome, intense and insanely rich, Mr. Darcy also happened to be my first major literary crush and although he’s no longer #1 in my heart (Mr. Thornton has that title now), he still holds a special place in my heart (and has a fanbase that could rival Edward Cullen's stalkers--er, fangirls.)
3.) Hawksong by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes-I found this gem by accident one day when I was looking through a pile of books at the dollar store. The cover didn’t do much for me but the summary caught my attention; on a whim I decided to buy it and it sat on my bookshelf for months. Another friend of mine had picked it up from the library and once she finished it, she raved about it—realizing I had it on my shelf already I picked it up and read. I was transported into a world where there was a war between two classes of shape shifters—add some political intrigue and romance and I was set! If you’ve had any doubts about Atwater-Rhodes, I suggest you pick this one up first. Her writing in this book truly shines.
4.) Just Listen by Sarah Dessen-
Oh Sarah Dessen; you’ve been with me since the beginning of my high school career. Dessen is one of the reigning queens of YA and if you haven’t read any of her work, you should be ashamed. As for those that are familiar with her novels, most readers think The Truth about Forever stand above the rest. I used to agree until I reread Just Listen and sawooned over Owen, the bad boy with a penchant for honesty and eclectic music. He’s been my favorite Dessen boy ever since. Every girl needs to meet the Dessen boys—they are hot!

The Host by Stephenie Meyer-Don’t be put off by the fact that Stephenie Meyer is the author. There are no sparkly vampires in this book! There are aliens instead ;) Don’t look at me like that—whether you admit it or not, Stephenie Meyer can tell a story; she excels with this particular novel where she seamlessly blends sci-fi with romance. I was initially skeptical but once I started reading, I couldn’t stop. I loved this book so much I even have a copy of it in Spanish! I would definitely recommend this one for anybody that wants a thought-provoking read (with romance, of course.) ;D

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Guest Post: Lauren Hammond

Twitter @NovelistLauren

The book can be puchased at and

We are constantly offered so many choices in our everyday lives. We have opportunities to decide what we want out of life. But what if you weren’t given a choice? What if the life you are leading was chosen for you?

That’s what happened to Cara Jones in Love Sucks. Cara never chose to be a vampire. That life was chosen for her.

When I began writing this novel, the first mental image I ever got of Cara Jones was her punching her fist through the lid of her coffin and the rest is history. I tried to put myself in her shoes. What would I do in her situation? What would I do if I woke up buried in the ground in the middle of nowhere not knowing who or what I had become? I truly believe by doing this I created a great character that not only I could relate to but one that my readers could relate to as well.
I wrote this novel completely from Cara’s point of view. I wanted my readers to feel like I did, I wanted them to put themselves in Cara’s shoes. This book, takes you on the journey of a lifetime. You’ll follow Cara through her years of life beginning in the 1700’s until she wakes up in the year 2010. A vampire around that long can get into a lot of trouble, right?

I want my readers to enjoy reading this book as much as I enjoyed writing it. There is a sequel in the works and A Sucker For Love will be out sometime in the summer of 2011.

So now I only have one thing left to say, are you ready to be sucked in?

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

YA SISTERS! And BACK TO BOOKS! (All caps intended)

Lauren and I have EXCITING NEWS! First of all, we have a new webseries together called YA SISTERS! We promise the webseries will be full of crazy shenanigans! This week, I went around asking random people in B&N and Target to be in my video about PARANORMALCY (awesome, awesome book). It was quite the experience. It would be an understatement to say I got turned down. LOL. Nonetheless, there is still some fun footage! At first, we wanted to do a podcast-type thing, but then, we ended up with this!

Here is the first episode! Please comment and subsribe! :) Or just comment below this post! Either one will work with us ;)

Our second piece of news is BACK 2 BOOKS. You can find more information on Lauren's page. Feel free to contact either of us if you are interested!