Thursday, March 31, 2011

All Cassandra Clare, All the Time (aka Day 4)

It's Day 4 of Cassandra Clare Week, and it's about time I give some props to the other readers out there who are sharing in the love!

First up: Tara at Fiction Folio. Tara is my real-life friend, and so I can give you this serious dish: The girl had to smuggle a Mortal Instruments series book into the bathroom at work so that she didn't have to wait all day to find out the ending. That, my friends, is someone who LOVES Cassandra Clare's work.

Head to her blog today for her breakdown of the MANY elements that make the Mortal Instruments series such a success.

Next up: Heidi from YA Bibliophile. Heidi's a middle school librarian who's wicked smart. I met her last month at a book signing...and immediately adored her.

Check out her blog for her Shadowhunter Shopping Guide. It's a great listing of Mortal Instruments gear. We're talking journals, jewelery and more. So fun!

And, the lady of the hour herself, Ms. Cassandra Clare, has a great Facebook page. She's graciously used it this week to link back to my blog posts. Check it out to hear what other people are saying. Everyone's been super sweet about my stick figure vid.

Now, has anyone else written about Cassandra Clare's work recently? A blog post, a GoodReads review, anything? Feel free to to link it up below. I'd love to hear what YOU have to say!

Anna Reads young adult book blog

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Cassandra Clare's Top 5 Fictional Character Crushes

As many of you know—or could guess based on the theme of this week—one of my favorite fictional character crushes is Jace from Mortal Instruments. His wonderful creator, author Cassandra Clare, is stopping by today to share HER top fictional crushes. Thank you so so so much for stopping by, Cassandra. You've made my week! (Seriously, you guys, I'm sort of freaking out.) — Anna

Five Fictional Character Crushes
By Cassandra Clare

1) Richard and Alec, Swordspoint by Ellen Kushner

Swordspoint is one of those books you never forget. At least, I never have forgotten it, even from the first paragraph, which describes a drop of blood on snow. To me, it's a perfect book. A perfect setting, perfect plot, perfect humor, perfect romance, perfect pain. It's probably bad to crush on both Richard and Alec because not only are they two separate people, they're in a relationship with each other, but I do. They're just my kind of hero — Richard is a swordsman, his gentle demeanor at odds with his ruthlessness and a general enjoyment of killing people. Alec is a scholar with a dark past and a suicide wish. He picks fights, and Richard ends them. Neither of them is exactly nice, but they're charming and engaging.

2) Howl, from Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

Diana Wynne Jones died this week, which is a huge loss to fantasy lovers and crushed one of my lifelong dreams, that I might meet her someday to tell her I wouldn't be a writer without her. People often ask me "Where does Jace come from?" "Is he based on someone?" "How did you think of him?" But he isn't based on anyone. I think he's what washes up on the shore of my imagination from the roiling trope of the blond, snarky, morally ambiguous guy who fears his own capacity for love. (Read lots of books — that guy is out there in many forms.) Howl from Howl's Moving Castle fits a few of those tropes: blond, snarky ("I'm that worst of all things — a Welshman who can't sing") and his heart is literally not his own. He dresses more like Magnus, though, and he and Jace would not agree on hair product. I crushed on him when I was a teeny tiny thing of eleven.

3) Sorensen Carlisle from The Changeover by Margaret Mahy

If I mention him to my friend Sarah she makes a high pitched "eeee" sound like a whistling train. The Changeover is set in New Zealand, and is the story of a girl who must "change over" into becoming a witch to save her little brother. To do so she has the help of Sorenson "Sorry" Carlisle, a prefect at her school. Tall, blond, a little sarcastic, afraid of getting hurt — which makes sense, considering his horrible early life.(See the pattern here.) But he's still just a teenage boy:

"Laura did take a deep breath and realised as she did so that Sorry was not watching her face, but the rise and fall of the breath under her old pyjama jacket. He sighed himself, met her eyes, and gave her a smile both deprecating and conciliatory.
"You did invite me in," he pointed out, "even though you knew I was a mixed blessing.""

4) Dexter from "This Lullaby" by Sarah Dessen

Dexter is out of my normal type of fictional crush. He's gangly and he's broke and he lives with his band and they write songs mostly about potatoes. But he's sweet and funny and passionate and not in the least bit embarassed to have emotions or be goofy. I rarely crush on guys from realistic fiction but this is one of my exceptions along with . . .

5) Wesley Rush from the Duff by Kody Keplinger

Once I had a conversation with Kody about our mutual love of Chuck Bass from Gossip Girl (the show, not the books, which I have never yet read) it all clicked into place. The broken-hearted handsome rich boy who covers it all up with partying and sleeping around and self-medicating with booze and pills is a distaster area in real life but somehow compelling in fiction. In the show, it's Ed Westwick's ability to convey heartbreak with his eyes while smirking with his mouth. In the Duff, it's bad-boy Wesley going crazy-jealous when he realizes the girl he's treated as just a hookup — well, she thinks of him as just a hookup too.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Music Behind The Mortal Instruments & Infernal Devices

Happy Cassandra Clare Week! My dear friend Ginger from GReads! is stopping by to share her love of Cassandra Clare AND her love of music as an extension of her weekly Tune In Tuesday feature. Thanks, G! — Anna

Ever read a book and instantly a song comes to mind during a certain scene? Or perhaps you're wondering, "What music was this author listening to when she wrote this particular chapter?" Well, here are a few songs that the ever-so-amazing Cassandra Clare just happened to be jamming out to while she was writing about those crazy Shadowhunters.

Enjoy the songs that inspired her to create this magnificent world that we keep coming back to time & time again. Also, be sure to CLICK HERE to enter a giveaway for a chance to win your very own Cassandra Clare–inspired soundtrack! :-)

"Demons" by Guster
"I Know I Know I Know" by Tegan and Sara
"I Will Follow You Into the Dark" by Death Cab for Cutie
"Somewhere Only We Know" by Keane
"Do You Realize?" by Flaming Lips
"Hometown Glory" by Adele
"An End Has a Start" by Editors
"Closer" Joshua Radin
"If My Heart Was a House" by Owl City
"Sweet and Low" by Augustana
"Angels on the Moon" by Thriving Ivory
"Parachute" by Ingrid Michaelson

Adele's "Hometown Glory"
Cassandra Clare says... "I like songs that evoke an urban atmosphere. And I felt like the lines about worlds colliding in a city fit with all the urban destruction in City of Glass."

Joshua Radin's "Closer"
Cassandra Clare says... "This song is about the classic "Hedgehog's Dilemma" — the closer you get to someone, the more they can hurt you. Intimacy isn't possible without pain."

Owl City's "If My Heart Was a House"
Cassandra Clare says... "This is just a very sweet love song. It makes me think of Clary and Jace, especially because so much of it is about risk. And of course for Jace opening up to anyone is a risk. "Risk it all 'cause I'll catch you if you fall" — makes me think of the chapter "Fear of Falling." - from City of Fallen Angels

Augustana's "Sweet and Low"
Cassandra Clare says... "This one is for Simon. He's under all these incredible pressures in this book and to me this song is about holding up under pressure by holding on to faith in the people who love you." - from City of Fallen Angels

Thriving Ivory's "Angels on the Moon"
Cassandra Clare says... "It's criminal that this didn't make it onto the City of Glass soundtrack, but I think by the time I heard it it was too late. It's just too perfect! I like to think of the Shadowhunters as the angels of New York."

Monday, March 28, 2011

Happy Cassandra Clare Week!

I cannot believe it's almost April 5...the day City of Fallen Angels (Mortal Instruments, Book 4) will be released. I can't even begin to tell you how excited I am! There are no words to describe my love for this series, so my crappy drawings will have to suffice...

I've never talked about this series on the blog before in depth, and considering the fourth book is almost out (eek!), I'd say it's about damn time I did. But why just dedicate an entire post to it? How about an entire week?

So we're doing it! Stay tuned for a week full of posts (here and elsewhere, from me and from some friends) celebrating the works of Cassandra Clare: the music, the romance, the Jace factor and more. Plus, a little something-something from Cassandra herself! I KNOW! Crazy.

Come back tomorrow, link me up to your own posts if you want to join in, and don't forget to preorder your copy of City of Fallen Angels!

Anna Reads young adult book blog

PS: Thank you to Ginger for the beautiful icon, that I loved too much to shrink to a smaller size! :)

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Congrats to My Pride & Prejudice Giveaway Winner chose a number, and the winner is...Anya!

Congrats! I hope you enjoy your brand spankin' new copy of Pride & Prejudice.

Anna Reads young adult book blog

The Books That Influenced Savita Kalhan + Giveaway

The Long Weekend Blog Tour, Hosted by Melissa at I Swim for Oceans

When I was a very little girl, probably around age 4, my mom would sit me down and quiz me: "If you're playing at the end of the driveway, and a nice lady who looks like me pulls up and asks you to come over to her car because she has a Barbie, what would you do?"

And, no matter how many times she lectured me about strangers, I'd answer "Go get the Barbie." Which is why I really enjoyed Savita Kalhan's book The Long Weekend—a story about two boys who are kidnapped from their elementary school. It's frightening, but the lesson there is something all kids should be told because it takes hearing it again and again (or perhaps just that powerfully) for it to stick.

So I asked Savita about the five books that influenced her most as a child. Like I said, the lessons we learn at a young age that DO stick with us are the most powerful ones...

The Books That Influenced ME
By Savita Kalhan

Hi Anna! It’s great to be here today.

You asked me a question about the five books that most influenced me when I was a child. Well from the ages of 5 to 12 I spent as much time as I could in the children’s library. I think
I virtually read every book in there, before I was allowed to join the adult library earlier than you were allowed to! So this question is a difficult one to answer because in the end, all the books I read made an impact on me – my dream was to do something that involved books
when I was older. I didn’t dare to think that one day I could be a writer, so my sights were
set on being a librarian or an English Lit teacher, and even possibly the proud owner of a

1. The Hobbit
This was where my love affair with epic fantasy fiction and more specifically The Lord of the
, began. I’ve had reread the books more than twenty times since, but the first reading
quite clearly had a major impact on me. The first thing I wrote when I started writing was an
epic fantasy fiction which was very Tolkienesque. I even asked a friend who was an architect
to draw up a plan of the world I had created complete with mountains, and forests, borders,
seas, and towers!

2. The Chronicles of Narnia
I read the whole series by the time I was eleven because once I discovered a writer I liked, I
had to read everything they had written! These books were so different to Lord of the Rings because they were about children who lived in a different world and in a different time, who found their way into a wondrous land full of danger and intrigue, talking creatures and Kings and Queens – and all through a wardrobe! There was good and there was evil and
there were adventures and battles. There was sibling rivalry, jealousy, and betrayal as well as
forgiveness and love. I am one of seven kids, so as you can imagine there was a lot of that in
my family. But we also had the most amazing fun making up our own make-believe worlds!

3. The Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
I loved the whole series of books. It was such an amazing portrayal of the American pioneer
life in a bygone era. I was fascinated by the stories of wolves and Native Americans, of
forests and prairies, the harshness and struggle of everyday life. (I have to admit that I loved
the television series too, but it was so different to the books)

4. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
I wanted to be Jo March, and I so wanted my family to be like Jo’s family! She was a big
reader, she was headstrong, determined and brave, yet compassionate and kind. She had three
sisters, I have four, she wanted to be a writer, I couldn’t even dream about it. I think I read it when I was about nine, and it made a huge impression on me.

5. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
This was such a lovely story of how a spoilt little girl becomes a very different person after
a tragedy throws her into a different world. And how kids can change even the adults around
them! It was so full of hope and completely magical.

Those were all books I read before I was twelve, when I was allowed to join the adult library.
But looking back at those books, they still fill me with the same feelings even though I
haven’t reread any of them recently.

I’d love your followers to come over to my website,, and have
a look around, leave me a message on my message board and tell me what they think
of The Long Weekend!

They can also find me on twitter and on Facebook.

For the international GIVEAWAY competition, I’d like your followers to answer this
question in the comments section: What five books influenced them most growing up? I’m
looking forward to reading their responses!

Thanks so much for inviting me here, Anna.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Let's Hear It for the (Good) Boy

Lieu of a review after my reread of Stealing Heaven by Elizabeth Scott, I feel the need to sing this on the top of my lungs...

There's so many bad boys out there in young adult fiction, so let's take a moment to "hear it for the boy"...the GOOD boy.

With so many good books to read and so little time, why did I recently reread both Stealing Heaven (Elizabeth Scott) and Going Too Far (Jennifer Echols)? The good boys, duh. And these boys are the epitome of good boys...they're cops. Who knew that could be attractive?

Let's face it: The bad girl/good guy scenario in fiction doesn't get the attention it deserves, and the bad-boy thing is beyond played out.

So many young adult main characters are girls, and so many of them futilely busy themselves trying to steal attention or reform a player. Well, what about the noble boys who are chasing the girl? Let's show some love for the good boys, dammit!

I've pulled the comments out to the main post for everyone to see...please leave a note about your favorite fictional "good boy" below. Let me start it off...

Anna Reads young adult book blog

PS: If this had been a full review of Stealing Heaven, suffice it to say, I'd leave it at this:

PPS: A GChat convo on the subject as proof that bloggers sell books:

stealing heaven = one of my favorites
Ginger: oh geezus
me: like, i own it
you know i don't own things
Ginger: ok.. * logging on to B&N RIGHT NOW *
me: it's very similar to "going too far"
Ginger: oh geezus

Bumped by Megan McCafferty Review

By Megan McCafferty
April 26, 2011
Balzer + Bray, 336 pages

When a virus makes everyone over the age of eighteen infertile, would-be parents pay teen girls to conceive and give birth to their children, making teens the most prized members of society. Girls sport fake baby bumps and the school cafeteria stocks folic-acid-infused food.

Sixteen-year-old identical twins Melody and Harmony were separated at birth and have never met until the day Harmony shows up on Melody’s doorstep. Up to now, the twins have followed completely opposite paths. Melody has scored an enviable conception contract with a couple called the Jaydens. While they are searching for the perfect partner for Melody to bump with, she is fighting her attraction to her best friend, Zen, who is way too short for the job.

Harmony has spent her whole life in Goodside, a religious community, preparing to be a wife and mother. She believes her calling is to convince Melody that pregging for profit is a sin. But Harmony has secrets of her own that she is running from.

When Melody is finally matched with the world-famous, genetically flawless Jondoe, both girls’ lives are changed forever. A case of mistaken identity takes them on a journey neither could have ever imagined, one that makes Melody and Harmony realize they have so much more than just DNA in common.

From New York Times bestselling author Megan McCafferty comes a strikingly original look at friendship, love, and sisterhood—in a future that is eerily believable.

— description

My friend Carla put her love of Megan McCafferty this way: "If I had to choose one author to read for the rest of my life, right now, right this second, I would pick her. And probably if you asked me again next week, my answer would be the same."

Megan's only written one other series, and it wasn't even young adult. So why are readers like Carla (and me) such ardent fans?

Here's why: So many authors seem to skirt around issues, afraid to impression impressionable young minds. And they seem to perpetuate the idea of perfect, eternal, destined romance.

Megan? Nope. Megan doesn't do that BS.

I crave that. I WANT my books to make an impression. And, as someone who is madly in love, let me tell you one thing I know for sure: Love ain't perfect, honey. I love me a love story. And I usually whine if there's not a happy ending. But real life? Yeah. It's not that predictable.

Megan's Jessica Darling series is the epitome of imperfect romance. You hate Jessica, you love Jessica; you hate Marcus, you love Marcus. It shows that it's not only okay to make mistakes, but that it's actually sometimes better if you do. How else do you grow as a person?

Bumped is no different. Sure, at first glance, it's a big departure from this series. It's set in an alternative universe, for goodness' sake.

But it's still so Megan to brazenly take on the hot-button issue of teenage sex and to somehow, amid all the humor and snark, make you empathize with both sides. You'll hate Melody, you'll love Melody; you'll hate Harmony, you'll love Harmony. It'll make you supremely uncomfortable. The lingo will have you scratching your head.

That's the point. Reading a Megan McCafferty book is a roller coaster ride. But that's life, baby. Hang on tight.

Want more? Read a great review by Phoebe North here, then jump over here to check out Katya's absolutely perfect description as to why Jessica and Marcus are my all-time favorites.

Anna Reads young adult book blog

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

How to Set Up a Book Club

How to Set Up a Book Club
By: Moi, because I am in one, so I'm totally an expert, right?

1. Invite people

The key here is the mix of people. If you're all friends already, let's be're not going to talk books. You're going to gossip.

So, to combat this, our book club started with two people, my friend Caroline and me. She invited a few people I didn't know; I invited a few she didn't know. Then those people invited people neither of us knew and so on...

Different groups of people also keeps the discussion interesting (though we are ladies-only). At our last meeting, we had some teachers, a nurse, a brewer, two web producers (including moi), a nonprofit PR expert and more.

You're going to have dropouts and people who can't make it month-to-month, so aim for a group of, oh, say, 15 or so to ensure there will be people there every time.

2. Pick a Location

You can have club meetings at a coffee house or restaurant, but we apartment hop. That way, no one has to host more than once a year.


Said hostess usually provides a main course or a yummy spread of appetizers, then other members bring wine, cheese, dessert and more. Bring something or don't—there is no pressure here. It's book club, not Guilt Fest.

We drink a lot of wine at our book club. I suppose if you don't have time to read the book (ME! Guilty! See the header on this blog!), you're still enticed to come for the "Wine Club" aspect.

4. Pick a Book

The hostess with the mostest comes armed with three to five books of her choice, which we then put to a vote. You can vote an unlimited amount of times—it's more of a "Would I read this or not?" type of vote. Whichever book gets the most votes from the group wins! That's what we'll read for the next meeting.

5. Schedule the Next One

While we're there, someone offers up a spot for the next meeting and we set a date. We like to do Wednesday nights at 7 p.m., and they usually last time 9:30 or so. Every six weeks works out pretty well for us.

Ta-da! That's all it takes. We've been doing this for about two years now. And I love it so. At tonight's meeting, we'll be discussing our first YA book. Some were not so happy with that choice, but after reading a LOT of books about gangs and serial killers, I was pretty pumped. The book:

Bellwether Prize winner The Girl Who Fell from the Sky by Heidi W. Durrow

Anyone else out there in a book club? Any more suggestions for book club newbies?

Anna Reads young adult book blog

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Top 10 Bookish Pet Peeves

It's Top 10 Tuesday (hosted at The Broke and the Bookish) and the topic is:
Top 10 Bookish Pet Peeves.

My answer?

Oh, I don't blame you people for having pet peeves. I'm a bit of an OCD clean freak myself. As a kid, one of my favorite hobbies was rearranging things on my mother's shelves. I get it. I'm particular too.

But with books? Nope.

Dog-earred pages? How else are you supposed to remember where the good parts* are when you need to do a quick reread?

Bent spines? You try reading a paperback while standing on the El, holding on for dear life, packed in like a sardine, without bending a spine or two. Girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do to get a few pages in before work. And try reading a book while eating lunch. Who has a hand to spare? A heavy object (my mom uses a stapler) to hold down the pages might bend the spine, but it gets the job done.

Stickers on books? Well, as a former Harpo employee, I'm certainly not going to complain about an Oprah's Book Club sticker or two.

My philosophy is that books are meant to be loved. Perhaps that's why I'm such a library addict and don't own too many of my own. 'Cause what good are books if they're just going to sit pristinely on a shelf? A little wear and tear means the story's been enjoyed time and time again.

Okay, now that I've frightened all of you away from ever lending me a book...feel free to ardently disagree in the comments.

Anna Reads young adult book blog

* By "good parts" I obviously mean all kissing scenes and/or declarations of undying love.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Dark Days Tour = Party Time

On Friday I took a half day at work, picked up Tara (Fiction Folio) and drove out to Naperville for a freaking great time.

The occasion? Dark Days, darling!

Pitch Dark Presents The Dark Days of Supernatural: Once in a Full Moon by Ellen Schreiber, Unearthly by Cynthia Hand, Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton, Desires of the Dead by Kimberly Derting, & Afterlife by Claudia Gray. Get access to the hottest paranormal teen fiction and connect with authors and readers who crave the dark world of supernatural romance, urban fantasy, haunting mysteries and thrilling sagas.

Four of these great authors were heading to Anderson's Bookshop in Naperville and I got to meet them all, plus 11 other fantastic young adult book bloggers.

First, I impressed Tara with my mad rap skills:

And then after a slight detour...

...(whoops?) we had a great dinner with a bunch of other bloggers that included Easter treats from Lynn (Bringing the Epic):

How nice is it to be able to have a conversation with people who have read every book you bring up? Loved it.

Then off to meet the authors—Claudia Gray, Courtney Allison Moulton, Ellen Schreiber and Kimberly Derting. Jasmine (The Reading Housewives of Indiana) asked a great question about what drew the authors to write paranormal. Check out their responses, with a bit of Claudia's cut off:

All four of them were hilarious and sweet and signed some books and swag for me. A special thanks to Kristi (The Story Siren) for the bookmark I got signed.

Also, is it just me, or is the "Will" on this Angelfire swag totally Toby from Pretty Little Liars?

With Claudia Gray & Courtney Allison Moulton

With Ellen Schreiber and Kimberly Derting

Then, some hanging time:

Me & Jen (Makeshift Bookmark)

Need a good YA recommendation? "Ask us!" The group, including: DJ (DJ's Life in Fiction), Erika (Moonlight Book Reviews), Jen, Lynn, Tara, Heidi (YA Bibliophile), Kristi, Jasmine, Jacinda (The Reading Housewives of Indiana), Susan (Wastepaper Prose) and Stacey (Page Turners)

The truth? Everyone was nicer and funnier in person than I could have ever imagined. Yay for bookish people. Now let's all do it again for the Dark Days of Summer Tour in June!

Anna Reads young adult book blog
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