Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween Post

Have you ever wondered what creatures the fantasy authors who are the experts on all things magical choose to dress up as for Halloween? I do. I just wonder in general what authors are dressing up as for Halloween, whether they write fantasy or not.
So I did what anyone would do. I emailed every single author (within reason. There are a LOT of them) I could track down and asked the following questions:

What are you going to be for Halloween?

Some optional questions were:
1) What is your favorite kind of candy?
2) Which do you prefer: tricks or treats?
3) Do you have any funny Halloween stories you would like to share?
I recieved way more emails from people who wanted to participate than I ever dreamed I could, mainly because the wonderful Kay Cassidy, author of The Cinderella Society, posted my request on the Tenners' (authors whose books are to be released in 2010) site.
Here is what they said:

Aprilynne Pike, author of WINGS said:
“Um . . . a faerie??? *ducks and hides*”
Don’t worry Aprilynne. We love fairies too!!!

"I'm not sure what I'll be this year, but my last costume was Distraught Prom Queen (people thought I was Courtney Love--haha! I take that as a compliment)."

Anastasia Hopcus,
author of SHAWDOW HILLS (July 2010 Egmont USA) said: “I am going to be zombie Little Red Riding Hood. My favorite Halloween candy is Candy Corn, but my favorite regular candy would have to be Sour Patch Kids. I much prefer treats, as I am not someone who likes being tricked; I hate April Fools day. The only funny Halloween story I can recall is one year when I was in middle school a young couple in our neighborhood ran out of candy so they handed out chocolate covered espresso beans. After going to their house my friends and I were extra hyper.”

Mindi Scott, author of FREFALL (October 2010 Simon Pulse) said:
“I'm going to be Barbie for Halloween. Zombie Barbie, actually, because my husband and I are going to a cartoon zombie party thing. (He's going to be Zombie Ken.)"

Hiedi Kling, author of SEA (June 10, 2010) said that she is going to be a Mummy Queen!!

Kay Cassidy, author of THE CINDERELLA SOCIETY said:
"I'm not actually dressing up this year, but I'm very excited because I finally found a cute Halloween sweatshirt to wear every year. So I'll be hanging out with our neighbors, taking pictures and passing out candy (but sneaking some Twizzlers for myself and hoping no one notices). ;-) I used to love going trick or treating with my brother and my cousin and running as fast as we could from house to house. We would take pillowcases as our Halloween bags and, when they got too full to carry, we'd run back to our house and dump them before heading out to fill up again. My favorite part though? After trick or treating when we'd all sort our Halloween stash into piles (ENORMOUS piles) and spend hours trading each other for our favorites. I was a serious negotiator for Kit Kats, let me tell you. :-)"

Bree Despain,
author of THE DARK DIVINE (debuting 12/22/09 from Egmont USA) said:

(ABOVE: Bree Despain with her son. Seriously, how cute is this photo!? I love it so much!)
"I'm being a Wild Thing from Where the Wild Things Are. My 3 year old is being Max. My fave Halloween candy is 100 Grand. I prefer treats, especially of a chocolate nature. The only Halloween story I can think of is that we ALWAYS dress up for Halloween, and our neighbors and friends start asking us weeks in advance what we are planning on being. Also, my husband usually makes our costumes. He knows how to sew!"

Elizabeth Scott, author of SOMETHING MAYBE , LOVE YOU HATE YOU MISS YOU, and soon to be released THE UNWRITTEN RULE (Simon Pulse, April 2010) said:
"I'm actually going out to dinner at a restaurant where you're expected to dress up, so instead of my usual jeans and t-shirt, I'll be in a dress. (Scary!!!) I may even wear heels....Favorite kind of candy: Hey, if it's free, you can't really go wrong with that. Although, thanks to my awesome blog readers, I do know that candy corn is most definitely not a favorite for many people..Which do you prefer: Trick or Treat? Treat! Preferably loads of them."

Victoria Schwab,
author of NEAR WITCH (Disney Hyperion 2011) said:
“I am going as a cupcake. My favorite candy is snickers, and I like to give tricks, but receive treats! In past years I have been a ninja, a musketeer, a dark angel, and Batman.”

Lindsay Eland, author of SCONES AND SENSIBILITY (December 22, 2009) said:

“Why, Jane Austen, of course! Complete with white gloves, and elegant bonnet! I am a snickers fan, all the way! I prefer treats… unless of course I am the one doing a trick on someone, then it is kind of fun! I love to scare people but I don’t like to be scared. In Junior High, me and my best friend thought it would be fun to toilet paper a friends house...never thought that the eight rolls we tried to take from my house past my mom and out the front door. We didn’t think it would ever lead to suspicion. That was the last of my not-so extensive toilet papering experience.”

Wendy Toliver, author of THE SECRET LIFE OF A TEENAGED SIREN said: “This year I'm going as a vampire because my husband wanted to go as a werewolf. My favorite candy is definitely chocolate and I'm guilty of stealing the Almond Joys and Butterfingers out of the trick-or-treat stash. I definitely prefer treats to tricks.”

And as segway into my Halloween Contest, Melissa De La Cruz, author of the bestselling BLUE BLOODS series answered a few questions in during her interview in early October.

When asked what her favorite Halloween of all time was, she said: “I use to dress up every year as a socialite. One year I dressed up as Jackie Kenedy. I wanted to go as Jackie Kenedy after the assassination and everyone was like you can’t do that! You can’t make fun of that! It’s sacred American history. So I just went as Jackie Kenedy and that was really fun.
When asked what she is going as this year, she said: “We are going as star wars family. My husband is Darth Vader and I am going to be Princess Leia. We are deffinately dorking out. And the kid is going as Yoda but she says that she wants to go as Ariel. We keep trying to convince her that Yoda is a princess and we keep calling him Princess Yoda.”
And in a (belated) celebration of Halloween, I have decided to post another contest. This time, it is for a signed copy of Melissa's book, BLUE BLOODS, the first in the series!
To enter, please comment with your email address and answer the question, what were you for halloween?
You will recieve 1 extra entry for:
1) Tweeting this contest (please leave a link to said tweet.)
2) Adding me to your blog roll (please leave a link to your blog.)
3) You will recieve 1 extra entries for blogging about this contest (please leave a link to the post.)
You will recieve 10 extra entries for becoming a follower of this blog.
The deadline for this contest will be two months from today, on January 4th, giving everyone a pleasant amount of time to forget about the contest and then be pleasantly surprised if you win! And it will be a fun way to kick off the new year, don't you think?

If I forgot to include you or a picture of you in this post and you wanted to be included, please email me at officiallymrs(at)gmail(dot)com and I will add you in!!! If I did forget you, it wasn't personal, I just had a TON of emails for this and lacked the proper organization required (I fail at organization).
More to come,


So as many of you may know due to the shiny badge of the left hand side of your screen (go look! Do it now!!), I am an official NaNoWriMo participant. Many people do not know what this is, including most of my teachers, my parents, even some avid readers and YA Lit bloggers I have run across. So let me explain:
The Short Version: National Novel Writing Month is a suicidal mission where people from all over the world attempt to write 50,000 words of a novel (defined as a lengthy work of fiction) in the month of November.
If you want to read the long version, click here.

Tonight at midnight I will be embarking on a journey that poses threats of carpal tunnel, lack of sleep, and rodents of unusual size. Actually, I don't know how the R.O.U.S.s fit into this, but it seemed appropriate.*

I am writing a novel called IN THE LAND OF THE BUTTERFLIES (ILB), but I am keeping that as a working title. I have also considered THE SPELLING GAMES, but I chose ILB because it doesn't remind me of The Hunger Games by Susan Collins, of which this book has absolutely no likeness to. What do you guys think?

This is the basic pitch, although new elements are always being added: theatre, parties, characters, ect. It is the wonderful part of writing- you can play God.

As the oldest daughter of the king and queen of the light court and rulers of Devas, Isabella and Kiran De Rege, Melkenza De Rege is expected to be the pinnacle of perfection. And now the perfect daughter must marry to save the crown and stop the dark court from taking power.But Kenza is fed up with everyone expecting her to be something she's not, and she abandons her family, her sister, Odessa, and friends as well as the only life she has ever known, and flees to the biggest city in Devas: Toria.
There, Kenza meets Segori and Felix, two siblings living with their aunt Liesel. She begins to love Segori as a sister and Felix as… well something more... And she lives a completely different life, spunky attitude and love for rebellion included. She feels like she can finally be herself - or herself except that part of her that's a princess expected to one day take over the magical kingdom of Devas. But between school, freedom, friends, Kenza faces a deadly struggle. She must find out what the dark court is planning before her sister will be forced to meet the same fate Kenza has run from- to marry someone she does not love.
Soon, things start to get weird in Devas. Odessa is having terrifying nightmares, Segori is disappearing at regular intervals, and people all over the country are vanishing without a trace. And when Kenza's secret is revealed, she must deal with the consequences and dangers of two lives and find her way home to save herself, her family, and her country.
Full of awkward teenage moments, wit, sarcasm, and a deeply sinister plot, IN THE LAND OF THE BUTTERFLIES is a story of magic that follows Kenza and those around her in her struggle to save her kingdom and find balance between being the princess she is expected to be and a girl true to herself and her heart.
Am I nervous to start my first novel? Absolutely. I have no idea what the helk I am doing!!! But I know I love to write, I love to read and I have a fun story to work with that I am crazy excited to start writing.
Plus, I have a lot of friends to cheer me on!! My friend Meg is also doing NaNo with me!!! And I have met some really cool people online who are going to bug me to finish this novel while I bug them to finish theirs.
The challenges that this month will bring: keeping up with school and getting my word count to 50,000 even though I will be in England for a week (so excited!). November is going to be my month of insanity, adventure and possible caffeine addiction.
(shown above is my friend Victoria, whose book, NEAR WITCH, comes out in 2011 from Disney Hyperion!!! So excited!!! She is a fellow NaNo participant, cupcake lover, twitter fiend and my official cheerleader for the month of November. You can read my interview with her here.)
What does this mean for the blog? It probably means that I am going to neglect you. I barely have had any time to read and post reviews with school alone. My writing time means that the little reading time I had left is going out the window. Not to worry though. This problem struck me the moment that I signed up for NaNo. Therefore, I have lined up some really cool people to do guest posts on this blog during the month of November. Writer-y people I mean. Like the cupcake (my friend Victoria) pictured above. And the awesome Melissa Walker. Excited? So am I. If you are a writer or
NaNo-er interested in doing a guest post in November, shoot me an email at officiallymrs(at)gmail(dot)com!
I am going to try to get a widget up with my word count on it for you guys to follow my progress and may even post an excerpt or two every now and again!!! If I can't get a widget up, you can follow my progress here. And of course, I will still be on Twitter, so you can follow me there too!!! If you are a NaNo-er, please buddy me!! My screenname is OfficiallyMRS!
More to come,
*R.O.U.S. refers to The Princess Bride. If you haven't seen it, go do it, NOW, as I am pretty sure there are going to be some more references to it in the near future. *cough- Victoria*

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Little Black Lies (ARC)

While I was sick with the plague-- bronchitis-- I didn't really have much to do besides homework and reading, so I got quite a bit done. The reason why I haven't posted about the wonderful books I have read is that I have been waaay too busy catching up with the full week of school that I missed.

The first book that I read was Little Black Lies by Tish Cohen.

The book is about Sara Black, also known as Sara "the black" by her cynically minded teacher (every schools' got one), a girl with a past full of cleaning supplies and little black lies.

Sara has grown up with a father whose life is controlled by his erratic Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, a condition where you feel the need to perfect things and keep things clean. As a result, her father's chosen profession is custodian, more commonly known as a janitor.

Now that her mother has run off with her old teacher to France, Sara and her father move to a new town and a new school. Specifically, Anton High School, a school for geniuses.

Sara feels ashamed about her past and her family. So she does what a lot of teens do on a regular basis- she lies. Instead of coming from Lundun she is now from London England. Instead of having a father who fixes schools, she has a father who fixes brains. But what harm can a few little lies do when your social well-being is at stake?

What I like about this book is that even though you may be able to tell what is going to happen, it is not about the final result, it is about getting from A to B and the lessons that we learn in between. The writing in this story is also phenomenal and downright beautiful. While talking to Tish on facebook, she told me that she likes to "break certain rules" when it comes to writing, something I have been trying to do personally with every piece I create. The writing style has a greater likeness to The Book Thief by Markus Zusak than I did to most of the writing styles I have found in YA literature. The combination of the graceful writing with the painstakingly difficult and heartbreaking story makes this a book that you do not want to ignore.

As a personal side note, I give props to Tish for portraying Sara's father's OCD with compassion and sensitivity. As someone who has a disabled immediate family member, I love it when I find books that make people realize that just because someone is different does not mean they aren't people with feelings and lives and families.

To learn more about Tish and her books, you can visit her website.

More to come,

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Heist Society Cover!!!

You guys remember when I wrote a review for the Advanced Reader's Copy of The Heist Society by Ally Carter? Remember how much I LOVED IT? Well Ally has released her official cover for the book, published by Disney Hyperion. Get excited.

Congrats Ally!! It is beautiful!! I cannot wait for the rest of the world to be able to read it!!!
More to come,

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Interview with Melissa De La Cruz

Last weekend I was fortunate enough to be able to go to a signing with Melissa De La Cruz!! Walking in, I was suprised to find so few people there. It was really nice though. I sat around and chatted with all of the other Blue Bloods fans, some in costume, some that had travelled from a high school in Indiana, some just random people who were as excited to meet Melissa as I was. And then Melissa showed up with her gorgeous shoes that were deffinately not made for walking and we all got to chat about her books. After a very fun night of talking with Melissa, we all got our books signed and everyone else went on their merry way. I, however, stayed behind and was able to have a fabulous interview with Melissa!!

Before you start reading this, you may want to read my review of the Blue Bloods books and the ten things that I loved about Melissa's newest book, The Van Alen Legacy. Also, if you have not read VAL, this interview does contain spoilers!!!

I may or may not put up the audio of our interview because it was taken on a very ancient tape recorder. It also has many funny sounds of Melissa and I chewing our sushi on it, so we shall see. This is just the transcript!
Which one of your characters do you relate to the most?

I like all of them because they are all apart of my personality. Schuyler deffinately has a lot of my alienation and feeling of isolation when I was that age. Just the whole scene with her going to one of the dances with Oliver and everyone is holding a long stemmed rose, and she has a corsage. And I always felt like I went to this school with all of these social events but I would be so out of it! I would be wearing the wrong thing. When I went to prom I though everyone is going to wear a big satin ballgown so I wore a big satin ball gown but I went to this big private school and everyone thought that prom was this ridiculous notion. And I went to prom all the cool girls were wearing sweaters and skirts!! And you know, once again, fail! So I definitely wanted to write a character with that kind of experience. I think a lot of people feel like that. My school definitely had a lot of cliques and it was an all girls school with only 39 girls in my class. Half of them So they were all good friends and they all came from families that had know each other forever and it just seemed like they were apart of this club I was just not apart of. I thought that Schuyler could be that character who went to think cozy school. It is suppose to be a great experience going to these schools but when your not apart of this club it is very difficult.
Mimi is the one I enjoy the most because she is so fun and bitchy. I have always loved those kinds of characters. She is probably most like me when I was in college. People use to call me The Queen, which was the queen bee. So, I always though that was funny! People said I was always so bossy and that I always told people what to do and I was like Oh, No! So there is a lot of me that is always Mimi. And I sympathize with her because Schuyler is the rebel that is going to shake up all the blue bloods and Mimi is kind of the one who is trying to keep them together.
Bliss has grown on me. She is the hardest because she has the hardest story line to deal with, being the devils child and all. Bliss is getting her own series, with the werewolves, so that will be fun.
What is up next for Schuyler and the gang?
Schuyler and Jack are kind of together but there are new obstacles in what they find. Are they finding safety and shelter or did they just walk into some kind of dangerous situation at the end of the book. Mimi is trying to keep it together. Oliver is still around so they all kinda have to work together and there will be new characters and new dangers. And then we are going to find out about Allegra and what Allegra was like as a teen. A lot of the story takes place in the 1590s so part of it is more of a historical Renaissance novel which I am scared to write.
If you could pick one character from the Blue Bloods series to be real, who would it be?
Just one!?! They are all so great! That’s really hard. I think Schuyler because it would be really cool to hang out with her. Go to a goth club and stuff!
If you could be one character from Blue Bloods, who would it be?
I don’t want to be any of them because all of their lives are so difficult and fraught with danger. And drama. I would rather be a cool socialite who didn’t know what was happening. I don’t want to save the world.
The vampires in your book have a completely different spin! How did you come up with the idea for the books? Why did you choose to have them be wealthy NY socialites?
I wanted to combine things that I knew first hand. I covered that kind of world when I worked as a reporter. I did an article on private jets and I was asking things like “how do you use your private jet” and "what do you put on your private jet?" I was fascinated by that kind of world. It is all material and I wanted to use it. I know that some authors draw their ideas from other stories.
Were there any particular books that the Blue Bloods series was either based on or influenced by?
The Harry Potter Series. I think of the Blue Bloods books as Harry Potter mixed with Sex and the City. The Harry Potter books brought back the pleasure of reading. And New York was such a big influence. So a sexier, hotter Harry Potter.
In VAL, Schuyler and the gang travel all around the world. How many of these countries/cities have you been to?
I've been to all of them, actually! I have a friend in Buenos Aires and we went to Rio for the weekend. And I went to Venice. And Paris is just awesome. I don't get to go there often enough. Its fun because when I do my books I want to talk about the places I have have been and also give myself an excuse to go to those places. I want to go to shanghai and put that in one of the books. I want to do a city in Asia.
One of my favorite parts about VAL and the Blue Bloods books it the fact that you fit your stories into history, particularly American history, and Biblical stories. How did you come up with this idea?
One of my most vivid memories is my high school history teacher, who was great. World History and Roman history was one of her specialties and she really brought that world to life. As an immigrant, you don’t take American History for granted too much. And I always loved the stories from Christian mythology. The angels and stuff. Romance is a huge part of the Blue Bloods books and therefore it is littered with steamy and/or spicy guys. If you could pick one guy in the book for yourself, who would it be? Its funny because Oliver and Jack are both similar to my husband. I kind of split his personality in two. And that’s why I can’t chose! But they are both their own person. Oliver is a little bit based on my best friend from college. And jack is based on the hot unattainable guy that you always wanted.
Then we whipped out the sushi. Yum.
Another thing I really enjoyed, about VAL especially, is that even though these characters have lived before, there is still a level of teen angst. How do you find this balance?
I wanted them to be modern teenagers with all the relateable problems and the stuff that I went through but I also wanted to give them this layer of having lived for centuries and knowing more than there is. It’s like when you say someone is an “old soul,” they have more maturity. I just thought it would be cool, while they are growing into adolescence they also have this other thing, changing from human to vampire with all of the memories. It was fun because it gave them more depth and with Mimi you think she is just some stupid socialite but they it turns out that she is a *butt* kicking warrior.
I usually wouldn't sensor out swearing, but knowing that there are some elementary school kids who have been reading this blog...
How do you get the ideas for your characters? Are any of them based off of people you know?
Some of them are. Bliss is somewhat based off of one of my guy friends from Texas, I turned him into a girl. He has a big personality and all of these fun stories about him growing up in Huston and driving his dad’s Cadillac. I am fascinated by all of these people who were popular in high school because I wasn’t and so I wanted to find out what that was like. My sister was a cheerleader. It sounded like a cool life. As a writer I think that you are fascinated by people and their stories. All of the characters come from me. Oliver and Jack, as I said before, my husband and my friends from college.

And then we had a random tangent about goth clubs. It was entertaining.
And my dad showed up. It was mortifying.

How did your first book get published? What are some things that surprised you about the publishing and editing process?
My first book was published when I was 27, the Cat’s Meow. I had been trying to be published for six years. I was writing a column called the Cat’s Meow about socialites. When I turned in my first draft they said that it had no plot. I had to rewrite it. I quit my job and worked on it for three months and pulled it together. In the beginning I was very naive about sales. I just thought that if you had written a good book it deserved to be published. But the longer I am in the industry, I realized that you have to write stuff people want to read!
What is your full name?
Melissa Anne De La Cruz
Where did you grow up?
Manila until I was thirteen and then we moved to San Fransisco and I went to Columbia for college. I lived in NYC for 15 years. And then we moved back to LA. I think of myself as a New Yorker.
Do you have any siblings?
Yup, I have two siblings.
What are some of your favorite books/ authors of the moment?
I didn’t read a lot of YA. I just started reading it again and I just read King Dork and Sara Zarr. I have to read books that are very different than mine so that they take me to a different place. I read a lot of Julian Fellows. Anything Lionel Shriver or Kate Christianson.
What was your favorite and least favorite part about being a teenager?
My favorite part was not having to worry about bills. Having all this time for my art. I just remember having no responsibilities and having all this time. My least favorite part was not having a whole lot of confidence. I think you kind of grow into yourself. Some people are very confident but a lot of us are figuring out who we are and if we like who we are. I love being thirty. I think 13 going on 30 had it right on.
If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
I like LA. We live between LA and NYC. So we really like where we are.
What is your favorite color?
Fuchsia! I have always like Fuchsia since I was teen. I like the way it is spelled. I like the F. I like the hot pink. I use to have a lot of Fuchsia outfits. Kinda frightening…
If you were trapped on an island and you could only bring one person and three items with you what would they be?
I would like to bring my Husband and my daughter. I cant bring one without the other. 1) A lot books. So maybe a kindle. 2) Something to eat. Asian food. It would have to be sushi or Ramen noodles. 3) A toy for Maddy, my three year-old.
Edward of Jacob? Edward. Gale or Peeta? I can’t decide!! I would say Peeta but then I feel bad for Gale! I guess when it comes down to it, Peeta.
What is your favorite movie/tv show/ music of the moment?
I watched Mulan Rouge five times in the theatre. I love Battle star Galactica. I love the 80s music. The Adventureland soundtrack is pretty much my ipod. I really like dance music. Techno and remixes.
And probably my favorite question of the evening:
If the world were being invade by aliens and you just one five million dollars in the lottery, what would you do with it?
Melissa: Oh, so we are going to die?
Mary: It’s a distinct possibility at this point.
Melissa: How long do we have?
Mary: Um.. Let’s say a week.
Melissa (in a very cheerful voice considering we are talking about our own impending doom): Oh, Okay. Well I would probably go on a big shopping trip in Paris. A lot of couture. Go to all of the wonderful restaurants. Stay at the Ritz. One million a day! Throw a lot of parties.

Thank you so much for doing this interview with me, Melissa!! I had such a fun time with you! You can learn more about Melissa and her books by looking at her website, following her on twitter, or reading my review of The Van Alen Legacy and the Blue Bloods books.
More to come,

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Cohen, Contest and Codine

Hello Readers, it's me. OfficiallyMRS. Are you there?
I feel bad. Why do I feel bad, you may ask?
A) Upper Respitory infection
B) I haven't blogged in a while.
And it isn't like I don't have the excuse of "I haven't read anything because I have been too busy!" I have been sick. And in California while my parents stayed behind in Chi town and let me roam free... (kind of). But it's not like I didn't have the four hour plane ride to LA to allow for a full time block of uninterrupted reading. I just couldn't bring myself to do it. Instead, I watched Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs and continually assured the people around me that, "no, I do not have H1N1. I have checked with my doctors." with the sympathetic glances I sent them. Not that the lady wearing the paper mask that I doubt really does anything didn't glare at me anyways.
But my life has been incredibly exciting lately! And I have author-y and writing-y goodness to share!
1) My interview with Melissa De La Cruz went incredibly well. We ate sushi and talked about the horridness/wonderfullness of private school. Well, and her books. That was an important topic too. And you know you did a good job when, at the end of the interview, the author says that she hopes her daughter will be as articulate and mature as I am when she is my age. And that I look like I must be in college or in my twenties or thirties. Big compliment for me. Thank you, Melissa. I am sure your daughter will be an adorable Princess Yoda for Halloween! I will be posting the interview as soon as I have time to go through the audio and type up our conversation.

2) I am almost finished with my ARC of LITTLE BLACK LIES by Tish Cohen, which was released today. It's a great book and it is well written and thought provoking, something that is becoming increasingly harder to find in the YA section. Much love to Suzie for sharing her ARC wealth and sending me this one.

3) I just got my ARC of BLEEDING VIOLET by Dia Reeves which is beautiful and long and amazing looking so I will be starting that soon. Possibly on the way to London? I think maybe yes.

4) Codine. I love you. You make me stop coughing and induce chemical sleep. The. End. Did I write a bestseller? I think it deserves a nobel. (Feel free to coment on the Obama Nobel. I have mixed feelings about it considering the nominations closed very early in Obama's presidency. I mean, I am sure he will do Nobel Prize worthy things, I just don't exactly feel that he has done them yet.)

5) Contest: As soon as I can get the interview with Melissa up, I am going to open up a contest to give away a signed copy of BLUE BLOODS, the first book in the series, which, I must say, is my favorite. VAL put up a good fight, but there is something so creepy and wonderful about not knowing what is going on in the first book of any series. If you want an extra entry though, become a follower and tell me that you became a follower or are already a follower by commenting on this post.

If you have won a contest but haven't recieved it from me yet, do not worry. I am awaiting the date when my father's company (which handles all of my shipping and recieving needs) has an outgoing UPS shipment. I am not really sure on the details or why in the world this is so, but I should be able to send you your prize sometime this week.

I hope this post was sensible, considering I am only half awake because of the codine. Anyways, it should have at least made it somewhat humerous.
More to come,

Saturday, October 3, 2009

The Van Alen Legacy (ARC)

*This review may contain spoilers from the first three Blue Bloods books, but not the Van Alen Legacy*

Another bit from the Box-O'-Gold that was sent to me by Molly Thomas of Disney Hyperion: Melissa De La Cruz's, THE VAN ALEN LEGACY, which will be released this Tuesday, hot off of the press. Thank you Molly!!! I am a huge Blue Bloods Fan!!
Melissa De La Cruz has crafted an edgy series where fiction becomes fact and the facts terrify you. In these fabulous fantasy novels, you are welcomed into the lives of the social elite where the beautiful are successful and the successful are vampires. Enter Schuyler Van Alen, the stunning and timid girl who's about to find out who exactly she is and where she came from. Having grown up with her Grandmother, Cordelia Van Alen, with her father dead and her mother stuck in a coma, Schuyler enters the age of her vampire transformation and will have to reexamine her entire childhood now that so many things can be explained by the Blue Blood Society she was born into. But she doesn't have much time to adjust to this new knowledge before she is thrown into a deadly battle with the Croatan, or the vampires that drink the blood other vampires. Love, mystery, friendship, history and just general teenage angst are all apart of what makes these stories thrilling.

Melissa weaves a very complicated web of relationships and vampire-lore, so if you have not read the first three books, there is absolutely no way you are going to be able to understand what the helk is going on in THE VAN ALEN LEGACY. Therefore, instead of trying to explain the first three books, I am going to do 10 things I love about the Blue Bloods Series, especially THE VAN ALEN LEGACY.

  1. The history involved. Melissa takes facts from American history, such as the lost colony of Roanoke, and fits her story around it, making it seem incredibly realistic. Roanoke was completely forsaken, with only a sign that said Croatan as explanation. Hence, the antagonist group is called the Croatan and becomes the explaination for the desolate colony. In fact, it was so realistic that after I finished the first book, I locked myself in my room and watched Glee because I was too scared to go get another book from my shelf. Also, it helps you in history class (or at least it helped me).

  2. The characters have past lives. The thing I like most about this aspect of the book is that even though the characters pull interesting pieces of their past lives into the story, the books still maintain a level of teenaged angst. Just because they have lived some of these problems before doesn't make them any less probematic.

  3. Dynamic antagonists. The way this book is written allows for you to see inside of most of the main character's (Jack, Schuyler, Mimi, and Bliss) minds whether they are considered the "good guy" (Schuyler), the "bad guy" (Mimi) or "the guy where you just aren't sure whether he is good or bad or not (Bliss.. kinda)." Mimi wasn't exactly the nicest person but you can't help but agree with her on some levels. You feel her pain and that allows for dynamic antagonists. She was not the nicest person but sometimes you just can't help but root for her (especially with a specific love interest of hers....). This style of narration also allowed you to know things that other characters didn't.

  4. Jack Force. Do I need to say more? Also, Oliver Hazard-Perry. You can be on Team Jack, like I am, and still love Oliver. He is a great friend to Schuyler.

  5. Bliss. I just can't help but love her!! She's a nice person that gets stuck with some serious problems, especially in The Van Alen Legacy. I really felt sorry for her in this fourth book and it almost broke my heart when she made that choice (You must read the book to find out what I am talking about!). Also, Dylan. Even though he may be gone, I still felt he was apart of The Van Alen Legacy as he is still in Bliss's thoughts and heart throughout her portion of the narration. I loved Dylan and wish that he wasn't just in VAL when Bliss thought about him!!

  6. A new take on the love triangle. I get so sick of reading about love triangles all of the time. But in The Van Alen Legacy, Schuyler isn't constantly complaining about her choices and hurting everyone in the process, like another very well known vampire novel I have read. Yeah, she whines a little, (it is teen aged angst! She is suppose to!) but once she makes her decision, she is committed to keeping it, no matter how much pain she might be in. But as she learns, sometimes it isn't her choice to make... (No I will not explain cryptic message. You must read THE VAN ALEN LEGACY).

  7. A new take on vampires. I didn't feel like I was reading the same old, same old about Vampires in the Blue Bloods books. Even though these books do have the "good vampires" and "bad vampires" thing going on, it is a completely different idea than a lot of vampire books I have read. Reincarnation and being apart of the world of the social elite are two defining characteristics of vampires in these books. Melissa also plans to do a spin off series about werewolves, the foundation for which is layed in the last few pages of VAL.

  8. Traveling. These books take you all over the world instead of keeping you stuck in NYC. In fact, the majority of The Van Alen Legacy does not take place in New York.

  9. Just being in the lives of the social elite. I may live near a city, but my life is no where near as glamorous as the people in these books. One of my favorite parts of the series was the fact that Bliss and Schuyler are both hired to be models. It was just another layer to the book, but I found it an incredibly fun one. Like the classes at Hogwarts in the Harry Potter books, it wasn't that the modeling was significant to the plot, it was just fun being submerged into that lifestyle, if only for a chapter or two.

  10. Romance. When you love someone in this book, often times it is against the rules. It's not just your happiness you are giving up if you one person over another. You can get in a huge amount of trouble if you break a bond.

Here is a synopsis from the back of THE VAN ALEN LEGACY:

With the stunning revelation surrounding Bliss’s true identity comes the growing threat of the sinister Silver Bloods. Once left to live the glamorous life in New York City, the Blue Bloods now find themselves in an epic battle for survival. Not to worry; love is still in the air for the young vampires of the Upper East Side. Or is it? Schuyler has made her choice. She has forsaken Jack for Oliver, choosing human over vampire. But old loves die hard...And even cold hearted Mimi seems to suffer from the ties that bind.
Young vampires unite in this highly anticipated fourth installment of the New York Times best-selling series.

Also, you can click here to view the trailer for THE VAN ALEN LEGACY! Be careful though! If you haven't finished the first three books, it will give stuff away!!

******Thursday of this week, I will be heading to Skokie to go to Melissa's signing! Also, I will be having an in person interview with her!! If you have any questions for her, please comment bellow or email me at officiallymrs (at) gmail (dot) com! I am super excited to meet you, Melissa!!!******

To learn more about Melissa and her books, you can go to her official website or follow her on twitter.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Interview with Rachel Hawkins and Review of Her Book HEX HALL

In late August, I was sent a package by one of my friends Molly Thomas at Disney Hyperion (Hi Molly! *waves* Thank you for this! I love you!!). In it, was gold. I mean, not literally gold. Books. Lots and lots of books. Included in this amazing pile-o'-books was the Advance Reader's Copy of HEX HALL by Rachel Hawkins.
First of all, I love ARCs. Not only do I like knowing things before other people do (hehe), I also love feeling like in some way, I am apart of the process. ARCs are the things that first made me realize that I wanted to become apart of the writing and publishing world. I'm not kidding. This site was STARTED so that I could receive the ARC of E. Lockhart's TREASURE MAP OF BOYS (There you are folks, my secret confession. I would feel bad about it, but I kind of fell in love with blogging).
Below is a picture of me with my ARC co
py of HEX HALL. I personally cannot wait to see the real cover art!
I pulled out HEX HALL and read the back cover and wanted to start reading the book immediately. Here is a synopsis from the back of the book. (How amazing are my segways?)
"Three years ago, Sophie Mercer discovered that she was a witch. It's gotten her into a few scrapes. Her non-gifted mother has been as supportive as possible, consulting Sophie's estranged father- an elusive European warlock- only when necessary. But when Sophie attracts too much human attention for a prom-night spell gone horribly wrong, it's her dad who decides her punishment: exile to Hex Hall, an isolated reform school for wayward Prodigium, a.k.a. witches, faeries, and shapeshifters.
By the end of her first day among fellow freak-teens, Sophie has quite a scorecard: three powerful enemies who look like supermodels, a futile crush on a gorgeous warlock, a creepy tag along ghost, and a new roommate who happens to be the most hated person and only vampire on campus. Worse, Sophie soon learns that a mysterious predator has been attacking students, and her only friend is the number-one suspect.
As a series of blood-curdling mysteries starts to converge, Sophie prepares for the biggest threat of all: an ancient secret society determined to destroy all Prodigium, especially her."

Unfortunately, society created this little annoyance called school and therefore I couldn't get through it as fast as I wanted to (even though I did have permission from the author herself to read in school). But then along came a golden Saturday where all I had to do was read. I sat down and finished HEX HALL in one hour, then ran up to twitter and have been gabbing Rachel's ear off about how amazing the book is. It has spawned an obsession in me equal to if not greater than those I hold for the Twilight, Harry Potter and Mortal Instruments Series.

But let's talk about the actual book instead of my obsession with it, shall we? Rachel has created one of the funniest books I have ever read while still maintaining a mature enough writing style that I feel like it is appropriate for me to be reading it. This is something I have found less and less common in the YA section of my local bookstore. Fans of The Mortal Instruments and Sarah Mylnowski's Bras and Boomsticks series will love this book. Full of suspense while still maintaining a level of teen aged angst, this book grabbed me and hasn't really let go of me yet.
The characters are some of the most realistic ones I have ever met. I feel like they really are my friends. I know them as well as I know most of the girls I sit with at my lunch table, if not better than those girls. I ask Rachel to send them my regards on Twitter (am I going crazy? It is possible. I am talking to fictional characters...). This is an incredible feat that requires superb dialogue, something that definitely is apart of HEX HALL, considering the book is narrated in first person by Sophie, the main character. Speaking of Sophie, she is one of the relateable characters I have ever met. While reading the book, I really "became her." I mean yes, she is a different person than I am. But I could just see myself saying the kinds of things she says, because I love sarcasm, and doing the kinds of things she does, like being completely awkward and getting away with it (most of the time) and just being a strong person. She made me feel like I could do anything I wanted to and let me tell you, that is an awesome feeling. She is very much a real, average girl living in a crazy, magical world. Sophie lands herself at a boarding school for wierdos and feels like she is "a freak among freaks." While learning about this magical world that she has been thrown into, she also learns about the father she has never met, and things about herself that were kept from her since birth.
She has a crush and an enemy who are in a relationship together (Why does this ALWAYS happen in real life? I don't understand it, but it sucks. A. Lot.), she has homework (this is one of the first books where the author actually took into account the fact that fictional characters cannot possibly have all of these adventures if they don't finish their homework!! Props to Rachel, the former teacher who knows that school isn't as easy many books of the age make it look.) and she has quirky friends (i.e. Jenna. Jenna, I love you. Don't let the world getcha down. See, I am talking to the people inside the book. HELP!).
Just a side note, one thing I really enjoyed about reading this book was that one of the "mean girls" of the book grew in complexity as the book goes on. You know when you meet someone and you really just can't help but hating them and then you realize that you actually can't help but like some of the things about them? Yeah, that's Elodie. Multi-layered antagonists are something I am starting to see more of in YA literature and it gives a book an extraordinary amount of depth.
And then there is Archer (*swoon*). The guy who annoys the h*ll out of you but you love them anyways and you don't exactly know why. He is cute (edit: hot) and sarcastic (*sigh*). You love him one minute and hate him the next. He is charming and cocky but he still cares, even when he doesn't show it. I am officially in love with Archer (*Archer- will you marry me?*).
In addition to my obnoxiously long review of this book (people, it is just THAT good. I. do. not. lie.), Rachel agreed to do an obnoxiously long author interview with me!!


Speed Round Biography:

What is your full name? Rachel Moore Hawkins

Where did you grow up? Dothan, Alabama

How old are you? 29

Where did you go to school? Houston Academy in Dothan for HS, Auburn University in Auburn, AL for college.

Do you have any siblings? Nope! I'm an only, so it's all about ME ME ME! Just kidding. Kind of.

Legitimate questions about her book, HEX HALL, and being a writer:

Did you always know that you wanted to be a writer? What made you first start writing?
I always loved making up stories as a kid; my first was a truly epic Barbie "play" involving divorce, kidnapped kids, and hallucinogenic drugs. I was about 5. No lie. I think a lot of writers are just "hardwired" that way. Our brains naturally make up stories.

What is your favorite part about being a writer? So many parts! My husband says that I get to live in two worlds, and that's probably the best part.

What advice can you give to young adults who want to write proffesionally when they are older? Read, read, read. And write, obviously, but reading is a HUGE part of developing your style as a writer. You'll figure out what you like, what you don't like, what kind of stories resonate with you. And do your research RE: the publishing biz. You can save yourself a lot of time by diving into things prepared!

How did you go about getting your book published? The traditional way. Wrote it, started querying agents, and was lucky enough to find one in about two weeks! (This is what I mean about being prepared!) I always like to stress that I knew NO ONE in publishing. I was a teacher in a tiny town in AL, writing the book at a folding table in my bedroom.

How did you come up with the idea for HEX HALL? I'd read Anne Rice's THE WITCHING HOUR, and I really dug the creepy, Southern Gothic vibe of that. Also, I was teaching 12th grade English, so I was around a lot of teenagers and reading a lot of YA. All of those things, plus my love for a good old fashioned creepy boarding school story, contributed to making HEX HALL!

How did you come up with the characters for HEX HALL? Are any based off of people you know? No character has a direct correlation to anyone I know, but I think pieces and parts of my friends (and some people I DON'T feel so friendly about, haha!) made their way into HEX HALL. Some characters, like my main character, Sophie, came to me immediately and pretty fully-formed. Others, like Sophie's roommate Jenna, and her crush, Archer, only showed up after I'd written the first half.

Is there going to be a sequel to HEX HALL? If so, what and when should we look forward to seeing in it? There will be! Disney-Hyperion bought 3 HEX HALL books, so Sophie still has 2 more adventures to go! I see the books as one big story told over 3 books, so Book 2 will see Sophie dealing with a lot of the stuff that happens in HEX HALL, as well as some new threats.

Who is your favorite character in HH? My favorite character in HH is definitely Archer, the warlock Sophie crushes on. And it's not just because he's a hot guy, although that helps. ;-) he didn't exist in the 1st draft, and when I came up with him, the whole book really came to life.

Who was your favorite character to write in HEX HALL? I love writing Elodie, Sophie's nemesis at HEX HALL. She's so different from me, so it was a good time getting into her head. Plus I enjoyed giving her a little more depth and substance than your regular mean girl!

If you could choose one character from HH to be real, who would it be? Cal, the "groundskeeper" at Hecate Hall. He has some pretty awesome powers that I think would come in handy!

If you could be one character in HH, who would it be? Sophie, of course! She's the star after all! (See above RE: only child.)

While reading your book, I could really relate to your character, Sophie. Sometimes she feels like she is an outsider, even among outsiders, she feels weird around the guy she likes (who doesn't), she is sarcastic and witty and as much as she might not want to, she cares what others think about her. Which of the characters in HEX HALL do you most relate to? First off, I LOVE that you could relate to Sophie! That was my goal in writing her, that she's a regular girl in a crazy, crazy world. So I think she's the one I most relate to, too. I'm not nearly as bold as she is- I never talked back to a teacher in my life!- but I was voted "Wittiest" in my Senior Who's Who. ;-)

What are you most excited to tell us about your book/writing/reading? I am excited about all of it, haha! Mostly I just can't wait for other people to meet Sophie and Co. Whenever people ask me what I want readers to get out of my book, I always say I want them to A) have fun, B)not regret wasting time/money on me! and C)wish they had more time in that world. That's the dream, right there!

What are some things you were surprised about during the publishing/editing process? That it is soooo slooow! Seriously, patience is a virtue if you want to be a writer! I sold in April 2008, and HEX HALL hits the shelves in March 2010. As for editing, I was surprised at how much FUN it was! I know that makes me sound ever-so-dorky, but I have a genius editor in Jen Besser, and all of her suggestions were made of win and covered in awesome-sauce. It was a ball to get back in there and feel like the book was such a collaborative effort.

There are many different kinds of Prodigium at Hex Hall: Witches, shape shifters, werewolves, vampires, faeries and more. If you could be any of those, which one would you be and why? Witch! Vampires have all those pesky restrictions, faeries are a little on the formal side, and weres/shifters? Yuck! All the hair! Or hairballs!

If you could cast any spell, what would it be for? I'm a Mama, so I would probably cast some sort of protective bubble around my kid so that he'd never get hurt. (Again, with the dorky! Sigh…)

Where did you get the background for your Prodigium and magical world? Did you make it up or were there fairy tales, books or folklore that you took from? Oh, wow, so many sources. Some of it was from Ye Olde Wikipedia, some from books (I've always collected books on unsolved mysteries/supernatural stuff), and a lot of it I just made up!

I know that some authors draw their ideas from other stories, such as Stephenie Meyer's New Moon, which was influenced by Romeo and Juliet. Were there any particular books that HH was either based on or influenced by? I don't think so. I mean, it's definitely in the tradition of spooking boarding school books, but I can't pinpoint one specific thing.

What are some of the books that have most influenced you as a writer/person? What were your favorite books growing up? What are some of your favorite books currently? Any favorite authors? I can't even start to list them all! There was the standard Babysitter's Club and Sweet Valley High. The Little House books were big, too, and a lot of Anne Rice/Lois Duncan. In fact, Lois Duncan is probably my primo influence. She should get more love, darn it! A GIFT OF MAGIC? STRANGER WITH MY FACE? LOCKED IN TIME? Classics!

Sophie magics up an incredible dress for the Halloween Ball. If you were going to the same ball, what would you have worn? Ooh, I would have to steal Sophie's dress, haha! It's insane and over-the-top, and that is SO my thing, too!

What should readers look forward to from HEX HALL? The funny! Seriously, if there's one thing I want people to know about HEX HALL, it's that it's funny! Okay, so there are scary things. And yes, some death. And angst and chaos. But there are laughs amidst all that, I swear! ;-)

Are there any character quarks you would like to share? For me or the characters? Ha!
Random personal questions:

What is your favorite movie? Favorite TV show of the moment? I'm weirdly obsessed with the TV version of 10 Things I Hate About You right now (Y HELLO THAR, PATRICK VERONA!) As for movies, there are lots, but the one that is in pretty regular rotation is Marie Antoinette.

What was you favorite/ least favorite part of high school/being a teenager? My favorite part was the anticipation. Life IS more exciting when you're a teenager. There's all this endless potential, not just for what you'll do with your future, but what could happen on any given night, haha! That zing when a boy you like shows up at a party, or the fun of driving around w/your friends, singing at the top of your lungs? That was awesome. But the flip side of that is all the uncertainty that comes along with the potential.

Favorite song/artist of the moment? Okay, looking at my iTunes, these 3 songs have been played an embarrassing amount of times: 1) "Luv" by Travis, 2) "Stay" by Safetysuit, and 3) "Bust Your Windows" from Glee.

Favorite color? Green

Have any pets? Nope! Had a cat, Nadia, from the time I was 13-26. When she died, it was just too hard to think about getting a new one. I may be a one-cat woman.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be? London. I visited that city in 2001, and fell in love. Looooove. But only if I had enough money. London is quite pricey!

If you were trapped on a desert island and you could only bring 3 items and 1 person with you, what/who would they be? 1) A book, probably Diana Gabaldon's OUTLANDER, 2) some sun block (fair-skinned redhead) 3)my Velveteen rabbit, the imaginatively named "Velvy." (Shut up, I was 6.) As for a person, my husband. He's a hiker/kayaker/geologist/solider/Superman-type, and he would have us a raft made out of coconuts in no time!

If the world was being invaded by aliens and you just won five million dollars in the lottery, what would you do with it? Paaaartyyyyy! Seriously, I'd have the most fun feast/blow-out ever. I mean, why not?

I joke that Rachel could probably have written another novel in the time it took her to answer all of these questions. So thank you Rachel for providing epic answers to my epically long interview!! I really appreciate it as you have become one of my favorite authors! And thank you for writing this book! In case you haven't noticed, I loved it. I wouldn't be surprised if you end up having a cult following for this book. Thanks for letting me be one of the first screaming fan-girls.

You can find out more about Rachel on her blog or by following her on twitter.

100/10 stars. I'm serious. It's that good.

More to come,


P.S. There will be three books in Rachel's series as Disney Hyperion bought a 3 book deal!!

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