Wednesday, March 31, 2010

2010 Thriller Awards Finalists

International Thriller Writers has announced their award finalists--check it here.

Still no YA category! We must campaign or something...

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Free Webinar

Today at 1 ET (that's 11 a.m. for you fellow mountaineers), there's a free webinar discussion on social media. "Time Suck or Investment?"

Both, would be my answer, but check out the webinar for free. And next week, there's a discussion between Richard Curtis and Richard Nash, and some stuff on e-books.

Free rocks.

Monday, March 29, 2010

My Ten Most Influential Books

Cheers to Patti for making me think up this list: ten books that have influenced me most. It was interesting to see what pattern they show. Anyway, here she goes:

Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lundgren
If you’ve been following my blog a while, you know how much I love Pippi. Pippi taught me that freckles are great, and being different is cool. We need a YA Pippi, one who doesn’t worry so much about which hot boy to choose, but instead thinks of different ways to use a wedding dress. Like as a hammock for her veranda.

The BFG by Roald Dahl
I loved disappearing into Roald Dahl’s books—they’re the ones I read with a flashlight, under the covers, when I should’ve been sleeping. If I had to pinpoint where my passion for reading began, it would be with this book.

Crusade in Jeans by Thea Beckman
This one’s one of my favorite middle-grade books—it taught me history can be cool.

Bonjour Tristesse by Francoise Sagan
I read this in my early teens and again as an adult. I think the writer was in her teens when she wrote it.

The ABC Murders by Agatha Christie
Agatha Christie showed me how much I love a good mystery. I devoured her books.

John Sanford’s Prey series
After I didn’t read for almost ten years (shame on me), a friend gave me one of Sanford’s paperbacks to read while I was on bed rest (pregnant with first daughter). This book reignited my passion for reading.

A is for Alibi by Sue Grafton
Sue Grafton taught me that mysteries are cool, and that they’re even cooler with a butt-kicking protag.

The Safe House by Nicci French
This book taught me how to create the perfect twist—read it and you’ll know what I’m talking about. I hope to write a suspense like that some day.

Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie by Jordan Sonnenblick
This book was recommended to me when I was thinking about writing YA, and I absolutely fell in love with the book and the genre. Best YA voice. Ever.

Rat Life by Tedd Arnold
My most recent pick, this YA is a perfect example of great crime fiction written for teens. It’s a favorite of mine—wish I could write like that.

So, what books are on your list?

Review: Lake of Secrets by Lael Littke

Carlene’s family just moved back to Lake Isadora, the place where her brother Keith went missing fifteen years ago. Even though Carlene has never been to Lake Isadora, she begins to have memories of the place, and of things that happened there long ago.

The mystery of Keith’s disappearance is slowly revealed through Carlene’s visions of the past. Carlene tries to figure out where the visions come from, all while connecting with the players in Keith’s disappearance, to figure out if his death was an accident.

I liked this. It was a cozy with a supernatural element—well executed with this moody, Lake Isadora setting. It reminded me a bit of my friend Deb (a great writer)’s work. A solid supernatural mystery—I give it a 4.5.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Earth Hour

It's not easy being green--except for today. It's Earth Hour! So what's the deal with that? The World Wildlife Fund wants to create awareness of climate change, and is hoping we all start thinking about saving energy a little more.

So how to participate? Just turn off your lights for an hour tonight at 8:30 p.m., wherever you are. The Eiffel Tower is doing it, The Flamingo in Vegas, and Nashville too. Join in. It's easy, it's cool, and you can be all righteous and say you're green (you know you want to).

And find out about more ways to conserve energy here.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Thursday YA News

Thursday! YA news! Exclamation mark!

Okay, I’ll get to it already:

YA Bookish Stuff

For you Cory Doctorow fans: Little Brother has been optioned for a movie by Angry Films. I would love to see this come to fruition; will keep you posted as always.

School Library Journal interviews Diary of a Wimpy Kid author Jeff Kinney.

And Readergirlz gives us the skinny on all things Scott Westerfeld, for you fans.

Teen Culture

Jessica Bennett makes a case for feminism for young girls in Newsweek. Important food for thought.

This is an older post, but I thought it was still interesting: PSFK discusses global youth culture in the digital age.

Publishing Biz

As you know, it’s Bologna Children’s Book Fair time, and Publisher’s Weekly gives us the latest on moods and trends. The verdict: the mood is positive, people are warming up just a tiny bit more to things digital, and YA is hot-hot-hot. But then we knew that already.

Kobo is coming out with a new e-reader this spring/summer, priced at $150. Interesting; read about it here.

For Writers

For you published (or about to be) authors with a trailer, find out how you can it on Google TV here.

And learn how to make an e-book cover here.

Literary agent Jim McCarthy wants horror, reports GalleyCat and Andrea Somberg wants post-apocalyptic fiction.

Read about how AgentInBox, a site that helps writers write query letters and find agents looking for their type of work, helped an author find a book deal.

Finally, for fun: check out this upside-down house in Germany. It's an attraction at the Gettorf zoo. Them weird Germans...

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Don't Quit Your Day Job

For fun, because it's Wednesday and there's a two-foot snowdrift on my driveway waiting for me to shovel it: ever wonder what Charlotte Bronte and Franz Kafka earned at their day jobs? Find out here (link stolen from GalleyCat).

And for you history buffs, check out Brian Thornton's weekly posting of bastards (yes, you read that right). Anticipating the release of his The Book of Bastards in August, he's posting a weekly profile of a bastard in history. Such fun, and a history lesson too--which is great for me, because I sort of flunked history.

Anyway. Off to brave the snow.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Bologna by Proxy

For those of you wishing you could be at the Bologna Children's Book Fair, either for the book stuff or the good food and wine, you can follow agent Kristin Nelson's blog this week, as she's there and keeping us posted.

I hear it's raining in Italy, which makes me feel a little bit better. Still...

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Thursday YA News

After missing out on news last week because of all those 2010 YA Edgar book reviews, Thursday YA news is back. Happy joy:

YA Bookish Stuff

It’s Percy Jackson for teenage girls—this would be Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini. The book won’t be out until summer 2011, but it’s caught quite the buzz because HarperTeen paid seven figures for the trilogy. And Ilsa J. Bick's YA trilogy Ashes sold for six figures to Egmont. You can stop blinking now, and begin wishing that’ll happen to you, too.

Lerner is launching Carolrhoda Lab, a new YA line of books this fall—some really cool-sounding titles in there, and the covers are gorgeous. Exciting stuff.

Also getting into the YA market is Lee and Low, and Indy publishers, with a sci-fi and fantasy focus. The new imprint is called Tu Books, and will launch titles fall 2011—find out more here.

More upcoming book news: thriller novelist Jason Pinter is penning a YA called Zeke Batholomew: Superspy!. Sounds fun.

And the NYC Teen Author Festival is going on right now. Wish I could be there…

Teen Culture

Old is the new young, and young is the new old, says AdWeek. Apparently us oldies act younger, where teens appear more adult today. How totally weird, dude.

Which brands are hot and which are not with teens? Find out here.

And parents want teens to learn tech-iquette.

Publishing Biz

It’s Bologna time! Find out what publishers and other industry professional are saying about the children’s (this includes YA, of course) book market today in this Publishers Weekly article. Interesting stuff.

For Writers

Jim Hines gathered data from first-time novelists to get an idea on trends etc.; interesting if you’re in that boat, or looking to get in.

You children’s book writers can enter the Cheerios contest until July 15th—sounds like a nice one.

GalleyCat will be profiling literary agents, starting with Michael Bourret.

Also on GalleyCat: tips on writing for children, and writing in general (I liked Maggie Stiefwater’s approach to finding time to write when raising young kiddos).

And for fun: here's Peruvian Domingo Pianezzi, surfing with his alpaca. I know, you did that just last week too, right?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Lambda Literary Awards: YA

To feed your TBR pile, here are the finalists for the Lambda Literary Awards for Children's/YA:

LGBT Children's/Young Adult

Ash, by Malinda Lo (Little, Brown)
How Beautiful the Ordinary, edited by Michael Cart (HarperCollins)
In Mike We Trust, by P.E. Ryan (HarperCollins)
Sprout, by Dale Peck (Bloomsbury USA)
The Vast Fields of Ordinary, by Nick Burd (Penguin Books)

For the complete Lambda listings, check out GalleyCat.

Tweet Your Alibi

On a mystery-related note today: check out this article on how the FBI is using social networking sites to investigate suspects. They're using Facebook photos and Tweets to check alibis and find evidence of robberies--how very innovative of the Feeb people. And for us mystery writers: there's another new way to create an alibi for your character. He was tweeting at a ballgame.

As you can imagine, lawsuits and civil liberties protests abound. And you may want to check your list of Twitter followers--Bob Jones may not be your friend at all.

Still. Interesting story material, huh?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


For you steampunk fans (or those of you just wondering why steam is being punked), check out these cool pictures up at the Readergirlz blog.

And for more steampunkery, Scott Westerfeld will be chatting about Leviathan at 9 ET tomorrow, also at Readergirlz.

Steampunk is making it cool to be a bookworm.

Friday, March 12, 2010

2010 YA Edgar Nominees: The Verdict

So what are my impressions of the 2010 YA Edgar Noms, you ask (or maybe you don’t, but I’ll give my opinion anyway)?

I thought every book was a solid mystery, which was so great to see this year. Where last year’s nominees were good, they weren’t quite the strong mysteries I’d hoped for. But this year was impressive.

What I liked was the diversity: there was a paranormal mystery (Shadowed Summer), a suspense/mystery (Reality Check), an unexpected Victorian (Petronella Saves Nearly Everyone), an old-school younger YA mystery (If The Witness Lied), and a fun whodunit, YA style (The Morgue and Me). What a great mix!

While all of these had their merits and are strong contenders, if I had to make my bet on who will win, I would say it’s The Morgue and Me by John C. Ford. While all the other nominees are good, this book has the strongest voice, which is what YA is all about.

So we’ll see in April if I’m right (I’m wrong all the time, so I’m not actually betting any money). Until then: kudos to the MWA people for choosing such excellent books, congrats to the authors, and thanks from the YA Sleuth for such a fun reading ride.

Mystery really does rock, and even more so when it’s YA.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

2010 YA Edgar Review: Shadowed Summer by Saundra Mitchell

The last 2010 Edgar Nominee, and this time, a mystery with a paranormal element. Fourteen year-old Iris lives in Ondine, Louisiana, where there’s nothing better to do this summer than hang out with Colette and make up ghost stories. But then Iris starts hearing whispers of Elijah, who disappeared years ago. Scared and wanting to know what happened, Iris tries to solve the mystery of Elijah with Colette and Ben (local hot boy).

I recognized a lot of Ondine’s small town boredom in this story, which was very nicely done. The supernatural element made it a bit hard to connect to Iris, since she was something of a pawn in the story, being messed with by the ghost of Elijah. Still, a very solid mystery with a non-predictable ending—plus a bit of a romantic angle with a great ending. Shadowed Summer gets a 4 out of 5 from me.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

2010 YA Edgar Review: Petronella Saves Nearly Everyone by Dene Low

I like to think of myself as a pretty open-minded reader, but Petronella Saves Nearly Everyone truly stumped me. The book felt like some Victorian English play, with lines like, “Although one may have stacks of money, not to mention an impeccable social position, there are times when one wishes for the homely pleasure of encircling parental arms.”

This book was hard for me to read, something entirely my flaw, no doubt. Anyway, here’s the plot, in short: 16 year-old Petronella’s guardian Uncle Augustus has started eating bugs at her party. There’s police, ransom notes, and she has to solve the mystery.

As much as I hate to cop out, I’m going to refrain from scoring this one, because I don’t feel I’m qualified. One thought did come to mind: how many teenagers are into Victorian-style dialogue? All the same, it’s a rightful Edgar nominee with a solid mystery.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

2010 YA Edgar Review: The Morgue and Me by John C. Ford

Christopher has a job at the morgue for the summer. He cleans part-time, and finds the job pretty uneventful, until the body of Mitch Blaylock shows up at the morgue. That same day, Christopher finds $15k in cash in the medical examiner (his boss)’s office. He quickly figures out that something’s not right about the investigation into Blaylock’s murder. He joins young reporter Tina (who’s also hot) to find out why Blaylock’s murder is being covered up.

With a solid mystery and suspenseful plot turns, The Morgue and Me is a great read. Although this is an older YA (Christopher has just graduated; there’s some boozing and sleeping over going on), the voice really nails the genre, in my opinion. I give this a 4.5 out of 5—great read.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Adults Reading YA

Just a quick interruption of the YA Edgar Extravaganza (!) for an interesting article in the LA Times discussing why adults read YA. The short of it: because it's more fun.

But then we already knew that, right? Right.

2010 YA Edgar Nominee Review: If the Witness Lied by Caroline B. Cooney

I always look forward to a Caroline B. Cooney novel, since hers are strong YA mysteries in a genre where straight mysteries are hard to find. If the Witness Lied starts strong, with Jack, Smithy and Madison as our siblings lead characters, and Diana, who babysits three year-old Tris in the family. Aunt Cheryl is the kids’ guardian, after their father died in an accident that has been blamed on little Tris.

Cleverly using shifts, Cooney uses a trail of clues to uncover who killed the kids’ father. Meanwhile, Aunt Cheryl is determined to get the family on TV, painting Tris as an evil child.

Although the mystery in this book is solid, the ‘bad guy’ was so glaringly obvious from even the book jacket description, I felt like putting the book away pretty quickly. Still, nicely plotted, and I might be a too-seasoned mystery reader for this book. I give If the Witness Lied a 4 out of 5.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

2010 YA Edgar Nominee: Reality Check by Peter Abrahams

First on the list of this year's Edgar Nominees, Reality Check has a solid premise: girl goes missing, and now the mystery is where she went. Our lead is Cody, Montana football player with torn knee, who has just dropped out of high school when his girlfriend goes missing at her boarding school in Vermont. He drives to Vermont to find out what happened, and gets caught in rich family drama and Vermont town secrets.

Reality Check took a while to get started—it wasn’t until roughly 100 pages in that Clea goes missing. But then the suspense gets pretty good, with a fair amount of mysteries for Cody to solve. The ending was a good one, suspense-novel style (won’t give it away).

This is definitely an older YA, where the characters bordered on adult in their behavior and interactions. Though Reality Check is a strong contender for an Edgar, I think it would be an even stronger contender if International Thriller Writers had a YA category. I give it a 4 out of 5.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Thursday YA News

I thought I would try to do my news and links a little different this week. In an effort to be more organized (couldn’t we all use more of that?), I’ve grouped like news items together; let me know if this works.

Anyway, here’s your week in YA:

YA Bookish Stuff

It’s a Battle of the Books at School Library Journal! Vote for your favorite of 16 here.

Incarceron (A YA novel by Catherine Fisher) will be a movie someday (we all know Hollywood takes as long as publishing—or longer).

Readergirlz is all about Scott Westerfeld and Leviathan this month. Even the web music is cool.

Publishers Weekly discusses B&N’s Common Sense rating system for childrens books—very interesting stuff.

And John Grisham is working on a middle-grade called Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer, reports the NYT. Sounds fun.

Teen Culture

More TV watching=worse family ties, reports EurekAlert on a recent study. Teen who do their homework and read have closer ties to parents—I wonder how much of this is personality related. Maybe teens who watch more TV and play videogames are trying to a get away from parents? A thought.

Twitter in the classroom helps student engagement.

And teen drug use is up after a decade of decline—not good.

Publishing Biz

Ever wonder what it costs to produce a print book? The NY Times does the math.

The Nintendo DSi XL can handle e-books—how cool.

For Writers

At Mediabistro, check out this article on Scott Segler’s quest to build an audience—which he did mostly without a big publisher’s help.

Ever wonder about podcast dos and don'ts? Look no further than this GalleyCat article.

Design your own book cover here. Such fun.

And I’ll end with a cool photograph of Lola and her cub.

Pretty, huh?

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Next Week: YA Edgar Extravaganza!

But wait, you say, isn't the Edgar banquet on April 29th? Yes, it is, but I thought I would have my own little 2010 YA Edgar round-up right here on the blog. I've read all of these books:


Reality Check by Peter Abrahams (HarperCollins Children’s Books – HarperTeen)
If the Witness Lied by Caroline B. Cooney (Random House Children’s Books – Delacorte Press)
The Morgue and Me by John C. Ford (Penguin Young Readers Group – Viking Children’s Books)
Petronella Saves Nearly Everyone by Dene Low (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children’s Books)
Shadowed Summer by Saundra Mitchell (Random House Children’s Books – Delacorte Press)

And Sunday through Thursday, I will post the review of one of these fine books every day--plus on Friday, I'll make my own prediction of who will win. So it's a pre-Edgar read-a-thon, kind of.

I hope you'll check in next week. It'll be fun, and I find that the Edgars are a good way to tell where YA mystery is at. A quick opinion: all of this year's nominees are solid mysteries (some of last year's, though impressive reads, were not quite making my mystery cut).

So next week is our YA Edgar Extravaganza! Exciting, no? It's like the Olympics for YA mystery fans.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Review: City of Thieves by David Benioff

First off: City of Thieves is not technically a YA. But the main character is a 17 year-old, and given his viewpoint, I thought this book had great crossover potential.

City of Thieves is the author’s loose interpretation of his grandfather’s time in WWII Russia. After finding a dead German soldier, eager-to-fight son of a dead poet Lev gets arrested and thrown into jail with Koyla, a playboy Russian soldier charged with desertion. The two are destined for execution when they’re saved by a Russian officer whose daughter is about to marry; he needs eggs (a scarcity) for the wedding cake, and promises Lev and Kolya freedom if they find them.

We follow the unlikely partners on their strange mission to find eggs in this Iliad-like story of friendship. Benioff gives vivid details of the population’s ways to survive (you’ll have to read the book; I don’t want to give all the good stuff away), and Lev and Koyla’s combined ingenuity. Toward the end of the book, the two get caught up in a plot to kill the commander of the German occupiers, where Lev is forced to step up and protect himself and his friend.

What I loved most about this book was its detailed depiction of Russia during WWII, and the heartwarming tale of unlikely friendship. It’s a solid 5, and it goes on my crime fiction list.

Follow along with the MIDNIGHT AT THE BARCLAY HOTEL blog tour!

I'm so excited for the Aug. 25th release if MIDNIGHT AT THE BARCLAY HOTEL...!  If you want to join the fun, follow along with the bl...