Friday, February 27, 2009

Upside-down that frown

My slogan today: I would rather be reading... Like I am the Messenger by Markus Zusak that's sitting on my nightstand.

But no such joy. Right now, I'm studying up on investing for a non-fiction project, dissecting a contract, faxing, bleuuuhhh.

Fortunately, my local radio station is playing 80s and 90s music to cheer me up. So I'm break dancing on the inside.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Colorado Teen Literature Conference

If you live in Colorado, you can't miss the 2009 Colorado Teen Literature Conference in Denver this April 4. It's one day only, 60 bucks (which includes lunch), and you get to hear David Lubar and Jordan Sonnenblick be funny.

Can you think of a cooler way to spend your Saturday???

Monday, February 16, 2009

Rat Life

This book had been on my to-read pile a while, and boy, was I dumb for letting it collect dust: Rat Life by Tedd Arnold. It won an Edgar (the Oscars in mystery), so naturally, I was interested.

The book is set in the seventies, in a NY town along the (fictional ) Chemenga river, where a dead body washes up. Not that Todd is too concerned about that at first. He's too busy making up stories to make his best friend Leaky laugh, and helping his parents run their motel and take care of his grandma.

But then something happens to a puppy, and Todd meets Rat, a Vietnam vet not much older than him. The two become unlikely friends while working at a local drive-in. Todd quickly gets tangled up in Rat's complicated life, making him wonder about that dead body, and how Rat might be connected to it.

I loved this book. It had a good mystery in it, but Tedd Arnold didn't sacrifice character, setting or depth for it--a really hard thing to pull of, I know. The Mystery Writers of America people got it right: Rat Life really is a winner. Go read it!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Can I have a blizzard, please?

Over at the YA Author's Cafe, I noticed a whole new list of books coming out. Thankfully, some of them have pink covers on them--they're romances, so not likely to make it onto my to-read list. No offense to the writers of romances. Everyone needs love, even me, I just don't happen to like the books written about them. I prefer my books with a good dose of death.

Still, there were some interesting books on that YA Author's Cafe list, so yet more to add to my already leaning tower of books-to-read. Like Nancy Werlin's Impossible.

And the weather is not helping. Sure, it's chilly. Overcast. Windy. But I miss the days of good, snow-dumping, Armageddon-style blizzards. The kind that keep you stuck in the house, with a warm blanket and a few cats on your lap. We had a lot of those last winter, and the winter before that. But this year, it's been sissy weather, kind of. With sparkly, snow-globe flurries.

I want one. A blizzard, with three feet of snow. Do a bookworm a favor, Mama Nature?

Monday, February 9, 2009

Wodunnit?

Are you in the mood for a good mystery this Monday?

If so, check out my story Noelle's Basket Case at Pine Tree Mysteries--it's PG 13, so no worries. I won't gross you out too much :-)

Friday, February 6, 2009

Goodness

I teach a novel writing workshop at my local high school. We talk storytelling, good books and bad ones.

And of course Twilight comes up. Me, I didn't make it all the way through, but that has more to do with my short attention span (odd, teens have longer attention spans than me...). In my group of students, opinions are divided. Most love Twilight--there's lots of talking-with-hands, twinkle-in-eyes and general lovingness about the series.

But there are also a few haters, which is to be expected. When a series is as popular as Twilight, camps form. Critics frown. Lovers of book in question stomp feet. And no one is raising a white flag--ever.

So what makes a good book? Stephen King talks about it in an interview with USA Weekend, and my friend Jenny gives a great writer's perspective. King has some good points, though I thought he might want to spend a little time at any high school to find out what teen girls are actually thinking. His assessments were a little out of touch with reality, I think (and a smidge condescending).

But back to the point. What makes a good book? Me, I like my answers short, sweet and simple. Because it's Friday, and because I think it doesn't really matter.

A good book is one you enjoy.

There you go. Now go read :-)

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Best of 2008

YALSA (Young Adult Library Services Association) has all their 'best of' up on their website, just in case you didn't have enough on your reading list yet. So check it out.

There was some mention of a contest with swag... And you love swag, right?

Monday, February 2, 2009

Loose Ends

Recent read: Knights of the Hill Country by Tim Tharp. I picked up a copy after one of my favorite writers, Gail Giles, recommended it on her blog. Must be worth a read, I thought. Even if there is football in it, and I'm very unsporty.

She wasn't kidding. This is one of those books that sneak up on you. It starts off as a simple tale of coming-of-age jock, but Tharp chooses Hampton Green as his lead. He's the linebacker of the Kennisaw Knights, and he's not your typical bright kid with snappy one-liners. Hampton's the quiet guy, the one you always wonder about. What's he thinking?

This novel is full of small-town insights, and you don't have to live in Oklahoma to recognize Kennisaw immediately. Could've been my little Colorado town, let me tell you. And Hampton could be that jock on any football team.

There was just one thing that bugged me about this: the trophy. You'll have to read the book to know what I'm talking about, since I don't want to spoil things. Let's just say that at some point, there's a trophy that's left on the floor of a truck.

Where is it now? Is it still in the truck? This was a pretty big moment in the book, a decision that should've impacted Hampton. Inside and out--which brings me to another buggin' point. Why are there no repercussions for any of his actions?

Loved what Tharp did with this kid Hampton, and how he gave such a poignant picture of teen life in small-town America.

But where's the trophy? It's a mystery, which I normally like, but this one seemed more like a loose end. Was it left on purpose, or did Mr. Tharp just forget about it?

Go read the book. Tell me what you think. Maybe I missed something...