suck me in, chew me up and spit me out

Saturday, October 31, 2009 | | 6 comments
Mandy at edge of seventeen is hosting a Dystopian Teen Week over at her blog, starting today (well, it started this morning, but I’m a little late to the party…), and going until November 4. She’ll feature several Young Adult titles within the ‘dystopian’ genre, host giveaways, and talk to a couple authors, too! It’ll be fun. End-of-the-world, do-or-die kind of fun, in keeping with the thematic content, of course.

This is also happening in conjunction with the YA Dystopian Reading Challenge over at Bart’s Bookshelf. I am hereby accepting the challenge. After all, I can get all four items finished this week! Bart has a great round-up of reads in the genre in this post (make sure you check the comments, too!).

Now that I’ve declared that I’m participating, I should probably explain. According to ReadWriteThink (via eoseventeen), a dystopia is:

A futuristic, imagined universe in which oppressive societal control and the illusion of a perfect society are maintained through corporate, bureaucratic, technological, moral, or totalitarian control. Dystopias, through an exaggerated worst-case scenario, make a criticism about a current trend, societal norm, or political system.

It’s more than the opposite of utopia, which is what I thought when I saw the word for the first time. And it’s more than a post-apocalyptic scenario. It’s organized craziness.

So why the heck am I interested in it? This is the girl who likes silly and funny and happy. I refer you to the title of this post. I may prefer silly, funny, happy…but when I read serious, seemingly hopeless, heart-rending dystopian novels (and I can’t help but do – they’re some of the best out there, and I’ll read ANYthing once), I truly feel. They get me. It’s liquid tragedy, gorgeous misery, and it seems REAL. I can imagine any of these things happening. I believe that there’s darkness in the hearts of men. Mostly, though, they make me cry. I know it’s a good book when I’m crying.

Okay, so I cry. What are these books? Have I been sneaking them in while you weren’t looking? Well… a couple. But not intentionally, I swear. Dystopian novels I may have mentioned on this blog: The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, Uglies, and The Forest of Hands and Teeth. Others I’ll read (and review, hopefully) this week: The Knife of Never Letting Go, Unwind, Genesis and Skinned. So get ready. It may be a little grim in parts, but there’ll be reviews and maybe a contest or two to keep you going. Enjoy, but do it seriously. *smile*

(my) most embarrassing moment

Friday, October 30, 2009 | | 9 comments

You know you have one. It’s the kind of thing that you drag out and show old friends, or reminisce about with your family, or try to forget and NEVER bring up again. Sort of like baby photos, actually. I’m an easily embarrassed person, but I also have the lucky ability to forget most everything mortifying that I’ve ever done. With one major, story-worthy exception.

In 2004 I spent the second half the year abroad doing college exchange programs. I traveled to Chile and Spain, and by the end I was getting pretty good at Spanish. I thought so, at any rate. And to cap off all that studying my sister came to visit – she met me in Madrid and we did a little whirlwind European Christmas vacation. To start it off, though, she missed her connection in Philly, and had to meet me there a day late.

So to keep to my master schedule, we had to fit it all in during ONE grueling day in Madrid. And we certainly tried. I took her to the Palacio Real (the royal family’s official residence in the city), on a plaza tour ending at the Plaza Mayor, and to the Prado (only one of the most famous art museums EVER, don’t you know). We were seriously tired by Prado time. I was also starved for a little bit of Americana, so when I spotted a Starbucks across the street, I was able to convince Ginny to stop there to rest our feet and so we could write postcards. Because you know that postcards are the best and cheapest souvenirs, aside from a Latin lover. But that’s a whole different story…

We got our drinks (oh, the bliss!), I chatted and flirted with the barista, and we lounged for a bit (and scribbled to friends and family, after all). Ginny convinced me to go and try to charm another drink out of the guy at the counter. So I did. Grande mocha! After a sufficient revival period, we decided to move on to the next tourist attraction.

We got up to leave. I was reveling in my newfound ‘skills’ and turned to say goodbye to cute Mr. Barista.

And walked straight into the sliding glass door.


Before you ask, yes, it was functioning perfectly. I just came at it at an angle, so it didn’t have the time to sense me before I engaged it in a full frontal assault.

Pretty sure a blush covered my entire body.

The most humiliating thing? I could hear the barista LAUGHING behind me.

I hauled Ginny the rest of the way out of the store in utter mortification,

and almost MOWED OVER an innocent little old lady on the sidewalk.

After that I slowed down and tried to breathe. In and out. Ginny was laughing and exclaiming and generally trying not to die of excess amusement. I, of course, was actively trying to melt into the sidewalk.

Eventually I recovered enough to act like a normal human being. Or as close an approximation as I will ever get to normal or human being. But see if I ever visit that Starbucks again (well, I might if I ever make it back to Madrid)!

teaser tuesday (17)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009 | | 19 comments
It's Teaser Tuesday, a bookish blog meme hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Here's how it works:

Grab your current read and let it fall open to a random page. Post two (or more) sentences from that page, along with the title and author. Don’t give anything vital away!

“Lulled into soporific splendor by the lackluster adventures of Sparkle the Unicorn and his merry band of Ritalin dependents, the girls soon drifted into the Land of Nod.

Good riddance.”

-p. 3 of Diana Peterfreund’s Rampant

milo meets his end

Sunday, October 25, 2009 | | 3 comments

Hey all! The time has come to announce the winner of my Only Milo + swag contest. Only Milo is author Barry Smith's creation; a story full of shenanigans, wit, murder, writing and enough mayhem to keep anyone on their toes. And if the book doesn’t, the swag will. So please help me in congratulating:


Who answered the question, “Imagine one of your favorite author’s books was ghostwritten by someone else. Who would have written it (really)?” with:

“I don't really have a favourite author (I like too many to choose), but if Gary Larson's comic collections were ghostwritten it would have been by my high school chemistry teacher.”

Happy reading! And a big thank you to everyone who entered – I enjoyed reviewing each and every response!

my dad gets lost in austen

Saturday, October 24, 2009 | | 13 comments
I’m a film-lover. Ideally (in other words, if I had the money) I’d see at least one film a week in the theaters, and a couple more at home. My DAD is a film FREAK, though. It has manifested hard-core since his retirement, and it’s kind of scary, kind of awesome. He has the three-DVDs-at-a-time Netflix plan, but somehow parlays that into 7 or 8 movies a week. Plus whatever he gets at the library. I’ve seen him spend 12 hours straight watching films. And he likes all types of films – action, romance, classic, historical, rated G, rated R…

So it’s not that odd to hear him laughing uproariously from downstairs. Or upstairs. Or wherever.

But the other day…I walked in, and he was watching Lost in Austen.


This is one of the Austen-inspired, Regency Era, usually girls night in type of miniseries I’ve heard so much about during the Everything Austen Challenge. I couldn’t get over it. He paused the film. Him: “Do you want to watch it with me?” Me: “No.” Him: “Okay, but it’s really GOOD! Hilarious!” Me: …"Okay, Dad"… (disbelief). The obvious response, once I’d gathered my wits back into my feeble brain? I made him promise to write a ‘two paragraph review.’ I started by saying three paragraphs, but he bargained me down to two. The man used to write for a living, but he’s gotten stingy with the words…

*smile *

So here you have it: Cecelia Bedelia’s Dad reviews Lost in Austen.

Lost in Austen is a must see for Pride and Prejudice lovers. The storyline begins with Amanda, an ardent Austen fan, and her boyfriend in modern England. The plot soon runs amuck when Amanda Price (Jemima Rooper) carrying her well-read paperback copy of Pride and Prejudice, first appears in the Bennett household as a “friend” of Elizabeth’s. Meanwhile Elizabeth is absent and adjusting to life in modern-day London. Would Jane Austen turn over in her grave? That’s one by-line in this hilarious, heart-warming, love story in which the unexpected happens with regularity.

In addition to all the regular characters, we’re introduced to the three brothers of the groveling Mr. Collins. Mr. and Mrs. Bennett are fantastic in their customary roles, with a delightful twist near the end of the film. Does it all work out in the end? You’ll just have to watch this flick with its many delightful twists and turns and turn-backs that keep you guessing until the finale. You must read the book or watch the original Pride and Prejudice to fully enjoy this enhanced tale.

Thanks, Dad!

wednesday love

Wednesday, October 21, 2009 | | 9 comments

The lovely Jo of fantasy book review blog Ink and Paper is featuring a book blogger interview with ME today! SO, you should probably go over there and read it. Like, soon.

Also, I’m sipping some delicious, home-brewed Starbucks Casi Cielo right now. Just so you know.

And to round out the link love, if you didn’t catch my guest post on Steph Bowe’s Hey! Teenager of the Year last month, go over and check it out. I talk about The Good Earth, a book that changed my life. And that post itself was a pretty big deal, as well – my high school English teacher found me on Facebook afterwards! Good + crazy. Hope you’re all having a marvelous Wednesday!




If you'd like to win Gail Carriger's Soulless, head over to vvb32reads - she's giving away a copy!

teaser tuesday (16)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009 | | 33 comments
It's Teaser Tuesday, a bookish blog meme hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Here's how it works:

Grab your current read and let it fall open to a random page. Post two (or more) sentences from that page, along with the title and author. Don’t give anything vital away!

“And then they ran for it, down a hallway that seemed far less gloomy and foreboding than it had only a short time ago. The fairies laughed and swooped, shoved at each other and dive-bombed Nate’s head.”

-p. 90 of Lisa Mantchev’s Eyes Like Stars

sunshine through the clouds

I found/sort-of-made-up the perfect recipe for a cloudy fall or winter day. A cookie prescription to chase away the dark and impress your friends. I cannot speak for desserts at large, but it’s now a family favorite in the cookie category. Plus, it’s easy to make (SCORE!). And of course the recipe is called ‘Sunshine Lemon Craisin Cookies.’ Warning: they sort of DO taste like sunshine. Really. Resist if you want to remain grumpy.

Sunshine Lemon Craisin Cookies


3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup butter (soft)
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cup Craisins (sweetened, dried cranberries – sweet/tart flavor)
1 teaspoon lemon extract OR 1/2 squeezed lemon plus zest of 1/2 lemon


Preheat the oven to 350°F. Mix butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla in large bowl. Add rest of ingredients EXCEPT Craisins and lemon extract, and stir until blended. Mix in Craisins and lemon extract. Form dough into 1 1/2 balls, then roll in sugar. Place on cookie sheet, and bake in oven for 9-12 minutes.


steampunk awesome. no, really!

Saturday, October 17, 2009 | | 20 comments

I’m going to gush for a second. Gail Carriger’s Soulless is a pretty freaking sweet read. It was absolutely perfect for a quiet, rainy Friday night. Hilarious, sweet, feisty, interesting (or am I just talking about main character Alexia Tarabotti?), and what I’d have to call my ideal mix of paranormal, sci-fi and ROMANCE.

I’ll admit it. I’m a closet trashy romance reader. Recently I’ve been cutting down on reading said books and looking for fantasy and sci-fi with a relational focus. Soulless totally did the trick for me. LOVED it. Why? Witty dialogue. Unique setting (I’m not a heavy steampunk reader, and if you aren’t either, this would be a great entry-level book). An amazing cast of characters, all of whom give you something to love, or wonder about, or just shake your head a little bit with a smile. Did I mention witty dialogue? Need I point out the fabulous cover art? The fact that this one is the first in at least a trilogy? That it has vampires (which I’m kind of over, but yeah), werewolves (SO hot) and parasols?! In other words, Soulless was for me. Also, I want Alexia’s wardrobe.

Alexia Tarabotti is laboring under a great many social tribulations. First, she has no soul. Second, she’s a spinster whose father is both Italian and dead. Third, she is being rudely attacked by a vampire to whom she has not been properly introduced!

Where to go from there? From bad to worse apparently, for Alexia accidentally kills the vampire, and the appalling Lord Maccon (loud, messy, gorgeous, and werewolf) is sent by Queen Victoria to investigate. With unexpected vampires appearing and expected vampires disappearing, everyone seems to believe Alexia responsible.

Can she figure out what is actually happening to London’s high society? Will her soulless ability to negate supernatural powers prove useful or just plain embarrassing? And who is the real enemy . . . and do they have treacle tart?

Soulless is a comedy of manners set in Victorian London full of werewolves, vampires, dirigibles, and tea-drinking…

Recommended for anyone who might like light steampunk, werewolves, paranormal happenings, romance, London in the Gaslight Era, and funny (amusing funny, not ‘something might be a little off’ funny), comical amazing-ness. Enjoy!

calico captive

Friday, October 16, 2009 | | 5 comments
Alyce at At Home with Books is doing a weekly feature where she highlights one of her favorite reads from the past and encourages others to do so as well.

My pick this week is Elizabeth George Speare’s Calico Captive. If that name sounds familiar, it’s for good reason. Speare was the two-time Newbery Award-winning author of The Witch of Blackbird Pond and The Bronze Bow, and Newbery Honor book The Sign of the Beaver. She wrote wonderful historical fiction for younger readers, and though I love all of her works, Calico Captive became an early favorite.

Early one morning in the year 1754 the stillness of Charlestown, New Hampshire, was shattered by shrill war whoops and the terror of an Indian raid. Young Miriam Willard, on a day which had promised new happiness, found herself instead a captive on a forest trail, caught up in the ebb and flow of the French and Indian War.

It was a harrowing march north. Miriam could only force herself to the next stopping place, the next small portion of food, the next icy stream to be crossed. What waits at the end of the trail - besides an Indian gauntlet and a life of slavery?

This story was a huge favorite of mine when I was eleven or twelve. At that point I was gobbling up books at the rate of 3 or 4 a day, but anything that was good slowed me down a bit. I think I read this one twice in a row in a damp tent on a family camping trip, and then dreamed about it for a couple of weeks afterward.

It’s funny looking back now at the story. Back then I had an emotional connection to Miriam, but now I see changing attitudes toward history. I read this then as an impressionable girl. Now I read it with critical analysis. It’s still a great story, and the historical setting is (from what I can tell) pretty spot-on. The things that grate a bit on my sensibilities are the portrayals of Native Americans and the colonial French Canadians, and the treatment of religion. However, it’s a wonderful place to start learning about girls in American history and captive narratives, which were fairly popular in the late 18th century.

I’d recommend this to fans of classic American children’s literature, historical fiction, history (in general and of the pre-Revolutionary Period), and anyone willing to go on an adventure with a brave young character. Enjoy!

leviathan, the end is here

The winner of a signed copy of Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan, a hair-raising steampunk adventure, is:


of the gorgeous blog Stella Matutina

Who answered the question "What do you think of when you read the word ‘steampunk?" with: "I think of the Victorian aesthetic first, followed by the technological focus. And automatons! I love me some automatons." Congrats!

I had a great time at Scott Westerfeld’s Seattle event on Monday night at Third Place Books. He and Sarah Rees Brennan (of The Demon’s Lexicon fame) talked for a bit and then signed for the fifty or so who came. Ginny got her copy of Leviathan signed “To Ms. L’s Students: Read Me!” and I got mine signed for Memory (well, it’s not personalized, but you know)! Also got news while in the signing line that I’m going to be my college roommate’s maid of honor in March – so it was a wonderful night all around.

Everyone: thank you for entering, be sure to check out the contest for Only Milo, and look for another giveaway next week!

And to conclude this post, an amazing description of steampunk by Zombie Girrrl (who will receive a signed Leviathan postcard):

"I think of bustled ladies in crimson silk bordered gowns gleaming, smog belching, horseless carriages, delicate scarves wrapped ornately around their painted mouths so they can breath. A sky where the sun never truly rises, just struggles to seep through the dense blanket of lung-clogging grey. A skyline dominated by brightly glinting skyscrapers encased in brass jackets, with elevators creeping up and down their sides like glass beetles on grandfather clock trees. Men with top hats and cravats striding about importantly with clockwork hounds at their heals. And an underworld of rebellious urchins seeking to overthrow the aristocracy and take back the coal they pry from the resistant earth with bloodied fingers and pick-axes."

And a (dorky) photo of me & Mr. Westerfeld. Yay!

party like it's 1999

Thursday, October 15, 2009 | | 17 comments

My mom just developed a 10-year old roll of film. The first few and last few frames were ruined by the passage of time, but a few in the middle prove that it was taken with my sister’s camera, and I am the main subject.

What I can tell you about me, circa 1999:

I was 15 years old.

I had VERY short (and clean) hair. Like a boy cut. I could show you, but then I’d have to kill you.

I was reading a library copy of The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring. It’s next to me on the bed in the photo.

I was dressing up the (long-suffering) cat. Dark green doll cape + cat = obviously a hobbit.

I had very questionable taste in clothes.

I didn’t like to smile for the camera.

I wore sparkly white nail polish.

And…I was a HUGE dork.

Don’t get me wrong – I was a happy. And a jock and a nerd. But still a dork. Eeek!

teaser tuesday (15)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009 | | 25 comments
It's Teaser Tuesday, a bookish blog meme hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Here's how it works:

Grab your current read and let it fall open to a random page. Post two (or more) sentences from that page, along with the title and author. Don’t give anything vital away!

“‘Your parents are both dead, murdered this night in Sarajevo.’

Alek tried to laugh at this absurd statement, but the world twisted sideways under him, darkness and silence crashing down.”

-p. 18 of Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan

in the mood for a little gothic parody?

Monday, October 12, 2009 | | 9 comments
For my latest Everything Austen challenge item, I watched Northanger Abbey, a 2007 made-for-television film.

A chance invite to the country home of a family friend results in the blossoming romance between hyperimaginative, romance fanatic Catherine Morland (Felicity Jones) and Henry Tilney (JJ Feild), the young master of the estate. Directed by Jon Jones, this charming, made-for-TV adaptation of Jane Austen’s posthumously published gothic parody also stars Carey Mulligan, William Beck and Desmond Barrit.

It’s cute, funny, over-the-top cinematic goodness. Definitely recommended. I have to say I remember thinking that Austen’s Catherine was a bit of a twit, but this film made me reevaluate. Maybe she’s just very young? Anyway, it was silly and fun and the main characters were very well cast. I loved it, though I squirmed and groaned when those same characters ignored the obvious or got it wrong.

The only, ONLY thing that I didn’t like was the final embrace. You’ll see what I mean when you watch it. But again, she’s so young that it almost works! And J.J. Feild, the dude who plays Mr. Tilney? Can act from underneath that hat! Loved him/it/everything.

The movie was the perfect length (at an hour and a half), and I didn’t find myself remembering anything that should have been put in but wasn’t. Am I gushing? Maybe a bit… I’m just glad that this was the last Austen film adaptation on my list. I’m going out on a very positive note. Lost In Austen was on the original challenge post, but I think it’s high time I read some Austen spin-offs. Look for those in the next couple of months, and in the mean time, watch Northanger Abbey! Grade: A.

only milo cover inspires card crafting

Saturday, October 10, 2009 | | 7 comments
I’ve mentioned this a time or too, but my sister has a crafting blog. She makes cool cards. When I saw the cover of Only Milo, I immediately considered the paper possibilities, and asked her to craft a card (or two) inspired by the cover artwork. You see the results below.

This is the real cover. Murdered post-it man.

From what I understand, the crazy fellow on the right is a murderous Milo?

This is the inside of the above card.

This one is my favorite. The post-it look is preserved, and it's bright!

For an extra entry in the Only Milo giveaway, tell me which card is your favorite. Happy Saturday!

only milo + giveaway

Friday, October 9, 2009 | | 23 comments

I’m looking back through the beginning of my copy of Barry Smith’s Only Milo. I read it in two parts: the first half one night several weeks ago before bed, and the second half this afternoon. I didn’t break up the reading experience intentionally – it just happened. But what I’m noticing is that I read the two halves very differently. During my first reading session, I circled the first sentence on the first page (which reads, “Maybe it was the SPAM Reuben sandwich.”). I also underlined and commented in the margins until I quit reading that night. I was very gung-ho about ‘reviewing.’ When I picked up the story this afternoon, though, I just wanted to know what happened next. I flew through the rest, relishing the murder and mayhem and rushing headlong to see where it would lead me.

I think Only Milo can be read either way. It’s got dark humor to savor like you would smooth, dark chocolate or a great cup of coffee. It’s also got action and a non-stop plot to keep you chuckling and racing to find out if Milo can possibly get away with it. Whichever route you take, Only Milo is a hilarious, snarky, up-to-the-minute novel for readers, writers and anyone who has ever secretly seethed that someone else got the credit of their work.

From the depths of a closet full of dusty manuscripts…

…comes Milo, author and murderer extraordinaire.

Educated at the School of Dexter, with a major in CSI, Milo emerges from his quiet, SPAM-laced retirement to become an unseen force in the literary world, covertly publishing his novels in another author’s name.

But when Milo’s illicit ghostwriting is nearly exposed on national television, he’s left with only one option: murder. In a world of egotistical, no-talent authors and duplicitous, back-stabbing publishers, he becomes determined to get what he deserves.

Even if it means they all must die.

It’s subversive, witty, a little bit odd and a lot wonderful. I loved it!


Thanks to Nicole at Inkwater Press and Barry Smith (the talented author), I have a signed copy of Only Milo to give away. Since I also received a cute little Only Milo post-it pad, I decided to make this swag thing kind of a big deal. So, if you win the book, you’ll also get:

Only Milo post-its

4 Sharpie markers

4 Starbucks VIA Colombian Roast Instant Coffee Packets

and a Fig, Fennel and Almond Vegan Dark Chocolate Bar from Theo Chocolate

To enter:

Leave a comment on this post answering the question, “Imagine one of your favorite author’s books was ghostwritten by someone else. Who would have written it (really)?”

Please include your email address. Giveaway is open to US and Canadian residents. Comments will close on October 23 at 11:59pm EST, and I will notify the randomly selected winner via email.

Good luck!

*Received a free review copy of Only Milo from Inkwater Press.

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