2011 Contemp Challenge - Trapped Review

 The Undercover Book Lover is hosting the 2011 Young Adult Contemporary Challenge. The goal with this challenge is to get people to read more YA contemporary books. And since YA Contemp is second in my heart only to chocolate and the genre I most enjoy writing, I had to join up.

What is contemporary? It's the genre wherein the events can happen in real life at the present time.

Goal: To read a minimum of thirteen young adult contemporary novels published in 2011.

And here's my first review:

Author Michael Northrup describes his latest novel, Trapped, on his website as The Breakfast Club meets The Shining (only because there's a whole lot of snow in an already isolated area, not that there's a crazy writer with an axe running around announcing himself through holes in doors).

From Goodreads:

Scotty and his friends Pete and Jason are among the last seven kids at their high school waiting to get picked up that day, and they soon realize that no one is coming for them. Still, it doesn't seem so bad to spend the night at school, especially when distractingly hot Krista and Julie are sleeping just down the hall. But then the power goes out, then the heat. The pipes freeze, and the roof shudders. As the days add up, the snow piles higher, and the empty halls grow colder and darker, the mounting pressure forces a devastating decision. . . .

The narrator, Scotty Weems, lets us know up front not everyone makes it in the end. It kept me on the edge of my seat as the obstacles mounted. Who would die? How would it happen? When was the damn snow going to stop?

I suggest reading this book while it's snowing, and with the weather across the country being as it has been this year, that should be easy to do for most. My one wish was that the book had been just a little bit longer. At only 232 pages, I could have used an extra twenty-five or so to tie up loose ends and answer a few burning questions.

Reminder - Today is the last day to enter to win a copy of Anna And The French Kiss by Steph Perkins. Just leave a comment on this post to enter. I'll be announcing the winner tomorrow, Feb. 1st!

Simply Hot Blogfest

Thanks to Erica and Christy for hosting this blogfest.

Now to my favorite mug...
These, of course, are my kiddos. They were much younger when this picture was taken and as you can see the mug is faded, fuzzy and chipped. It has survived eight years of washing, I know I will never throw it away. I've often thought of having another one made with a shiny new picture, but I've decided it just wouldn't be the same.

Now I'm off to visit all of the other blogs participating and I hope you'll do the same.

Don't forget to enter to win Anna And The French Kiss here if you haven't already done so. And thanks so much for stopping by. I love visitors!

Anna And The French Kiss & Giveaway

I've stalked followed Stephanie Perkins through her blog for quite a while. Her posts about HBM (Hot British Men) are legendary. So when her debut, Anna And The French Kiss, came out, I ran as fast as I could to Borders and picked it up.

I read it in two days. It would have been a single sitting if I hadn't fallen asleep against my will a mere fifty pages from the end.

                                                                      From Goodreads:
Anna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. Which is why she is less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris—until she meets √Čtienne St. Claire: perfect, Parisian (and English and American, which makes for a swoon-worthy accent), and utterly irresistible. The only problem is that he's taken, and Anna might be, too, if anything comes of her almost-relationship back home.

As winter melts into spring, will a year of romantic near-misses end with the French kiss Anna—and readers—have long awaited?

Words fail me. With this wonderful love story between Anna and √Čtienne (sounds dreamy, huh? You've NO idea), Steph was able to tap into those high school memories of shy glances and accidental contact that made your palms sweat and heart beat faster. Those moments you would desperately love to have frozen in time so you could revisit them over and over again. 

Did I mention Paris? Descriptions dripping with so much decadence they compelled me to add this city that I've never before really wanted to visit straight to the top of my bucket list. 

This book is, in a word, gorgeous. The best YA romance I can remember reading. EVER.  I loved it so much that I want to give one of you the chance to win it. 

Here's how: 

Just leave me a comment with your email address (+1). No following required although I love to make new friends! Please make sure either The Book Depository or Amazon ships to your location and you're all set!

Extra entries:

GFC Follower +1
Twitter Follower +1 
Network Blog Follower +1
Tweet this contest +1
Blog mention +1
Goodreads Friend  +1

Just leave the appropriate links in your comment and your total number of entries. Contest ends on Monday, January 31st and I'll announce the winner as chosen by random.org on February 1st. 

Even if you don't win it from me, please find a way to get your hands on it. And keep an eye out for Lola And The Boy Next Door due out September 2011.

Kibbles And Bits

Just wanted to let you all know about a wonderful post on Voice that's up today over at Hollyann's blog. I was honored that she asked me to contribute. There's some great advice by wonderful writers and agents, so don't miss it!

My 9-5 hours M-F are monopolized by my day job at one of the world's largest label printing companies. And guess what we printed yesterday...

I wanted to leave you with a few pictures from weheartit.com and thank Lola Sharp for introducing me to their site. I dare you not to smile...

May your day be as carefree as this little guy.

The Marbury Lens

I "met" Andrew Smith a couple of years ago through a writer's site we both frequented. He had already published his first novel, Ghost Medicine and his second, In The Path Of Falling Objects, was on the way to being published. Still, he always managed to make time for critiques and advice to those of us who were still struggling. By the time The Marbury Lens had been given a release date, I couldn't wait to get my hands on it. And let me tell you, it is an exhilarating ride.

From Publisher's Weekly:

In this brutal but highly effective dark fantasy, Smith (In the Path of Falling Objects) tells the story of 16-year-old Jack, who gets drunk at a party and is kidnapped, tortured, and nearly raped by a serial killer. Jack escapes, but when he and his best friend Conner run into the kidnapper the next day, they abduct him in turn and accidentally kill him. Jack is highly traumatized by the experience and refuses to go to police, in part because he and Conner are leaving for England to check out a prep school. When Jack arrives in London, he is accosted by a mysterious stranger who seems to know him and hands him an odd pair of glasses. Looking through them, Jack is transported to the horrendous, postapocalyptic world of Marbury, where he is responsible for two younger boys, and Conner has been transformed into a murderous mutant, further destabilizing Jack's precarious sanity. This bloody and genuinely upsetting book packs an enormous emotional punch. Smith's characters are very well developed and the ruined alternate universe they travel through is both surreal and believable.

This one was hard to put down. I love Jack and pulled for him throughout, even though I didn't expect and would have been disappointed by a happily ever after ending. Every time I thought I had a plot line firmly figured out, I turned out to be completely wrong. How wonderful is that? And that last page you've heard about? Awesome. Questions remain, but I found it very satisfying. I spoke to Andrew the other day and he let me know that the ARCs for his next novel, Stick, should be out in March. My mouth is already watering.

You can catch Andrew on his highly entertaining blog.


Not knowing when the dawn will come, I open every door.
                                                                       ~~ Emily Dickinson

Inspiration comes in many forms: an event, a song, a movie, a book.

Tonight, right before bed, I found myself staring at a landscape painting of poppies that hangs in our bathroom (What's that? You don't have an original watercolor in your bathroom? How gauche.) and BAM! An idea hit me out of nowhere for a scene so tragic and lovely that I had to hurry off and write it down.

Now, I've seen that painting every day for three years, but maybe because of a recent experience or some forgotten dream my imagination regurgitated, out came a perfectly wonderful little start to something. I'm not sure yet if it's full length novel material or just a flash fiction piece but we'll see where it goes.

I collapsed onto my bed a bit later than usual and smiled. Writing is fun. Painful and frustrating a lot of the the time, but tonight, most definitely fun.

So what strange things have inspired your writing?

You Say You Got A Resolution

OK, so it's not quite the famous Beatles' lyric, but close enough.

Mid-December I felt like this,

But after a minor health crisis that thankfully turned out to be not as bad as my paranoid brain had thought, trying to convince anyone who would listen that I was indeed dying right before their eyes, I reconsidered the dreaded New Year Resolution.

Truth be told, I'm not very good at keeping them. I kicked cigarettes cold turkey twelve years ago, but that's the only one I can recall as having any inkling of success. Last year I resolved to drink more, and although the desire was there, I couldn't even manage that.

Now it seems this baby weight (hey, I don't care how old they are, I can still use it as long as they're not with me) needs to go, so I'm jumping in with both feet and getting healthy. Please tell me I'm not alone. I've talked people down from a bag of Hershey's Kisses before (myself included) and I'd love the company.

I'm also planning on writing and submitting more this year and reading at least fifty books, but things you enjoy, the easy things, aren't really resolutions now are they?

So tell me, do you have one resolution you plan to make your bitch tackle this year? Ten? Fifty?

Long Live The King

No, we're not talking Elvis here. The King I'm referring to is Stephen, and I've just finished his latest short story collection, Full Dark, No Stars. Whether you love his writing as I do or hate it (possible, I guess, as taste is subjective, although hate is hard to imagine if you've read him), I think you would still have to concede that the characters he creates are relatable, "Ordinary people put in extraordinary situations", quoted from his afterword in this book (and if you're one of those people who skip forwards and afterwords in books, please don't skip his. They are almost as entertaining as the books themselves).


 From Publishers Weekly

Eerie twists of fate drive the four longish stories in King's first collection since Just After Sunset (2008). In "1922," a farmer murders his wife to retain the family land she hopes to sell, then watches his life unravel hideously as the consequences of the killing suggest a near-supernatural revenge. "Big Driver" tells of an otherwise ordinary woman who discovers her extraordinary capacity for retribution after she is raped and left for dead. "A Good Marriage" explores the aftermath of a wife's discovery of her milquetoast husband's sinister secret life, while "Fair Extension," the book's most disturbing story, follows the relationship between a man and the best friend on whom he preternaturally shifts all his bad luck and misfortune. As in Different Seasons (1982), King takes a mostly nonfantastic approach to grim themes. Now, as then, these tales show how a skilled storyteller with a good tale to tell can make unsettling fiction compulsively readable.

I loved all four stories, but I would have to say "Big Driver" was my favorite. Not only is the protagonist a woman, she's a writer. I found myself asking, "What would I do?, throughout her nightmarish experience with a serial rapist. A close second was "Fair Extension". About half way through I thought I knew exactly what the outcome would be, but I was pleasantly surprised from both a writer's and reader's standpoint. 

This collection is raw and honest. Let it never be said that Mr. King doesn't tell it straight.

Show Me Yours Blogfest

Sarah at Falen Formulates Fiction came up with this wonderful idea for all of us who signed up for and struggled through NaNoWriMo to share up to 500 words of that novel on our blogs today.

I have chosen to post the beginning of my MG Contemporary with a paranormal twist, which I admit has only been revised once and may be cut altogether at some point in the future. I'm just not quite sure it starts in the right place.

The picture above is one I stumbled upon while browsing Google Images for inspiration. She is what I imagine when I think of my MC.

The Witch Of Logan County

If queen bee Abigail Withers called me a wannabe loser one more time, I was gonna let her have it; even if it meant I'd have to kiss a pig. Who was she to decide I wasn't cheerleader material?


Warren stood behind me, next to our lockers, and I knew what the sound of his inhaler meant. I was making him nervous. Fists clenched, I felt the strange sensation of unchewed nails digging into my palms. I was not backing down. Not this time.

Your move, horse face, I thought. I had always found it poetic that Abigail's last name was so closely associated with her twin from the animal kingdom.

We'd drawn quite a crowd in the seventh grade hallway considering the final bell had sounded nearly twenty minutes earlier. Finals were over, and there was only one day left until my summer of despair.

"Better get going, Roxanne. You wouldn't want your boyfriend to have a seizure," Abigail said.

"He's not my boyfriend, and he's got asthma not epilepsy, you dolt." God, how I loved to work a vocab word into everyday conversation.

My nemesis looked stunned. Her jaw dropped and I could almost see the wheels turning as she tried to figure out what I'd just called her, searching for the definition among cheer routines, pop music lyrics and this week's new text message abbreviations. Her snappy comeback didn't surprise me.

"Whatever, loser. Have fun at your granny's this summer. Maybe she won't turn you into a frog."


Thanks so much for stopping by the blog today. I'm off to enjoy the other entries!

Happy New Year and the Eye Candy Blogfest

 Vicki Rocho is hosting the Eye Candy Blogfest today and the instructions are to post a picture of something that makes you smile. I've chosen to post a couple pictures of  Ireland which is at the top of my bucket list of places to visit. I hope you find them as beautiful as I do.


Happy New Year to all of my blog and writing buddies out there!  May 2011 bring peace, happiness and good fortune to all of you.
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