Monday, December 26, 2011

Favorite Books of 2011

For book lovers picking out our favorite books of the year is practically impossible. The way I pick my favorites is to think about those books I gave high ratings to and then which stories really stayed with me. Of course one book you hear me talk about all the time is Catching Jordan. Catching Jordan is the first book in a really long time that has really wowed me so I have to say hands down it's my favorite of 2011. There were also other books that really made me fall in love and I want to share these titles with you. If you don't own these books make sure to add them to your collection in 2012.

Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

Divergent by Veronica Roth

OyMG by Amy Dominy

Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly

Chain Reaction by Simone Elkeles

Blood Magic by Tessa Gratton

Darkest Mercy by Melissa Marr

Delirium and Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver

The Pull of Gravity by Gae Polisner

Crank by Ellen Hopkins

Every Other Day by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Class of 2k11 - One Year Later

I can't believe the year is almost over! I spent a lot of time talking about the Class of 2k11 this year so I had to go back and ask them to share a memory of their debut year. I feel very lucky to have found Class of 2k11 because each author and book is special to me. {Go buy Class of 2k11 books}

I've been thinking about my release day ever since I sold my book. And I imagined a lot of things--mostly involving finding the book on the shelf at a bookstore and squealing repeatedly until they threw me out--but I didn't picture what actually happened. I woke up the morning of my release to find that a bunch of my fellow 2k11ers and some awesome book bloggers had zombified themselves all over the internet. They were creepy and silly and ridiculous, and one had a plunger stuck to her head. I don't think I've ever felt more like a rock star (or maybe zombie queen is more appropriate). And out of all of the things that happened that day, it's what sticks in my mind the most--that some of my favorite people in the world did something ridiculous to help celebrate my little book of ridiculousness. I get the giggles just thinking about it. - Carrie Harris

Most surreal: The box of “author’s” hardcover books arriving, and my sons just staring; walking into the Strand bookstore in NYC to see my book up on the famous, dusty shelves; signing books at my launch for a line 100+ deep; and the first group panel readings I did with my Class of 2K11 cohorts.

Most fun/ridiculous: Ah, the Ford Crown Victoria. Need I say more? interview with Cari Soto with bee antennae on my head; 90-second sampler reading at the Dolphin Bookshop on Long Island

Most rewarding: the readers who say they love the book, but especially the teen male readers who tell me that they hate to read, but “had” to, then couldn’t put my book down. Man, I love those dudes. ;) - Gae Polisner

For me, a favorite moment with the Class of 2k11 came in the midst of every author's nightmare. It was BEA 2011 and I’d come to New York for a week of events with other Class of 2k11 authors. On this particular night, we’d taken the train to a small town for a book signing event. And no one showed up. As it turned out, the town had a parade that night. We did finally get one attendee—a wonderful girl who could only stay a little while—she was marching in the parade band. But I can tell you that it’s a horrible, lonely feeling waiting for people who never come. Still, I wasn’t lonely. More importantly, I wasn’t alone. I had my 2k11 buddies with me. And it really struck me in that moment that I would manage whatever came my way because I had this group of people to share it with. - Amy Fellner Dominy

Identity crisis – that’s how we started. We ranged in age from late twenties to late sixties and lived from the Pacific NW to New York; our prospective readers ranged from nine to eighteen and up; our approaches to marketing ranged from guerilla to gentile; our books were funny and serious, realistic contemporary, sci-fi, and historical fiction. How could we define such a diverse group? For the first few months, we traded up to fifty emails a day (most of them nice, some not so) prompting six members to give up and leave. Sometime in May, 2010, like iron filings in the presence of a magnet, we recognized what we had in common instead of how we were different and coalesced into the Class of 2k11. From that time on, we were all for one and one for all, ready to share our wide-ranging expertise and divide the workload, share tips, toss glitter, throw brickbats, or offer soothing wisdom as the situation demanded. Some of us have still never met in person, but count each other as best friends forever. - Carole Estby Dagg

I had no idea when Amy Holder sent me an email about something called the Class of 2K11, how important it would prove to be. Joining this diverse group of talented writers was one of the best decisions I ever made. The shared expertise and energy was a big help in marketing my debut novel and helped us to gain the attentions of librarians, teachers and wonderful book bloggers like you. However, I think the best part of the Class of 2K11 is how wonderful it has been to have a support network to cheer on each other's successes and provide words of encouragement when things are not going the way we want them to. I would have been lost without my classmates, and consider the members of the Class of 2K11, some of whom I've never met, friends for life. - Alissa Grosso

My favorite part of this amazing year was holding my first book in my hand. It was a life team dream come true! I also loved going to New York City for Book Expo America in May. I had never been to NYC, so that was very exciting, but it was great to meet my Class of 2k11 classmates, and also to go to the office of my publisher and finally meet face-to-face all of the people who had worked so hard on The Sweetest Thing.

The biggest surprise of the year has been how much I have enjoyed doing events where I get to meet my readers. As a kid, all I wanted to do was write, but I never had a chance to meet a real author. It is important to me to show kids that writers are regular people who work really hard to make their work the best it can be. These kids are so special, smart and unique -- I feel so fortunate to get to know them.

As for what's next -- I look forward to seeing what the future holds. I've been working hard on my next book, and hope to have some good news to share about it soon! - Christina Mandelski

The best part of being a member of the Class of 2K11 has been knowing everyone involved! Although I'm pretty quiet & don't email a lot, these fabulous people have always been around to support and commiserate or cheer the ups and downs. I couldn't have done this nearly as sanely without my 2K11 buds! - Julia Karr

I cannot imagine anything nicer than publishing in the company of friends--fellow writers across the country who share the journey, who offer advice and support, who genuinely wish the best for one another. I traveled miles with my fellow 2k11 writers--and when I was tired they carried me, and when I was lost they pointed me toward the light. How can such a thing be possible with in such a solitary vocation? My great joy was meeting them in New York, my true joy will be knowing them for a long long time, book after book, and happily cheering them on. - Sheila O'Connor

Being a debut author is such an amazing time! It’s much more emotional than one would ever dream. But I’ve been so very fortunate for all the kindness people have shown me. As a member of the Class of 2k11, a group of authors whose first books have debuted this year, I not only found other authors who I could ride the rollercoaster of getting your first book published – sharing the good and the bad - but I’ve found authors who I will count as friends for the rest of my life. Additionally, I’ve met so many wonderful bloggers and readers in this community who have supported me, rooted for me and shared the excitement of watching my story become a book – that the whole process has truly been a dream come true. I will forever be grateful for all the kind, wonderful people out there who made this such a special year! Thank you! - Kiki Hamilton

One of my favorite moments with the Class of 2k11 was actually meeting everyone (almost) in New York during BEA week. The Books of Wonder event, in particular, was, well, wonderful, and after wards Bettina, Chris, Sheila, and I had a lovely dinner outdoors at the Bryant Park Cafe. - Angie Smibert

10. Receiving wonderful emails from my classmates when ‘crisis du jour’ happened.
9. Slumber party at Gae’s house.
8. The Crown Victoria photo opp.
7. Walking into Books of Wonder to see a full house and our books on the shelf.
6. Throwing virtual rocks for my classmates
5. SCBWI Carolinas
4. Understanding how much work a debut is – and that some things work and some things don’t. But, I had a supportive team that I could teach and learn from.
3. Celebrating each small moment with people who UNDERSTOOD the agony of reviews (good and bad), Goodreads, empty and full signings, lack of ARCS, B&N, Amazon math, etc.
2. Meeting and connecting with so many wonderful book people.
1. Best part of the year – knowing that this doesn’t have to end. I have friends and I have words. Whether I ever publish again is yet to be know, but friends and great stories won’t ever change.
-Bettina Restrepo

Gae, Amy D., Christina, Carrie, Geoff, Alissa, Amy H., Carol, Julia, Tara, Trinity, Angie, Kiki, Bettina, Tess, and Sheila you are all welcome on my blog anytime!

One of a kind artwork by Gae Poliser exclusively found on Cari's Book Blog

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Book Events: Mary Lindsey

Hi All,

Mary Lindsey had her debut party for Shattered Souls last weekend at Blue Willow Bookshop and wow what a crowd! DFW Bloggers Stacy from Girls in the Stacks and Michelle from Windowpane Memoirs even made the trip for the event. Local authors Christina Mandelski and Joy Preble also were at Blue Willow to support Mary. The Houston and Dallas bloggers were joined by Joy Preble before the event for lunch at Becks to talk about all things books. We had such a blast, I can't wait to do it again!

Enjoy the pictures!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Review: The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories Vol. 1

Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

I have never read anything like the Tiny Book of Tiny Stories! I love how unique the concept of the book came about, which Joseph explains perfectly in the video below. I was also fascinated by the fact that the stories felt complete and the illustrations added to each story. I think this is a great addition for any book or art lover. Also with every story I kept finding myself saying "oh this is my favorite story" and at the end I couldn't pick just one story, but I must say I did love the one with the egg (below). I can't wait for the next two books in this tiny series!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Book Events: Lauren Henderson

I recently started downloading the latest pictures on my camera and found the pictures from the Lauren Henderson event at Murder by the Book. Lauren writes the Kiss series and was in town promoting the fourth and final book in the series Kiss of Death. Lauren is currently working on a new young adult series Flirting In Italian which sounds like a fun read. I haven't read the Kiss series yet but I picked up the first three books. Lauren is hilarious and if she is ever in your area make sure to go see her.

Full size pictures:Lauren Henderson Album

For more on Lauren visit: Lauren Henderson online

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Review: Catching Jordan

Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally

Rating: 5 of 5 Stars

CATCHING JORDAN is one of my favorite books this year! I dare you to start reading and put it down before you reach the end. I feel like a broken record because I have been telling anyone who will listen how much I love this book. When I first saw the cover I was smitten and then on closer inspection I saw that Simone Elkeles blurbed it and at that point I knew it had to be something special. CATCHING JORDAN is about a high school quarterback who lives for the sport. Only this quarterback is a girl and she is set on playing college football for the top school in the nation. Jordan wishes that her father, who plays for the NFL, would support her dreams, but just as Jordan is passionate about playing football he is as passionate about getting her to quit.

The beauty in this story is that all the characters have flaws making them very real. Jordan has tunnel vision when it comes to sports and is missing out on other life experiences like spending time with family, having friends outside the team, and even having a boyfriend. Then Ty transfers to her school and wants to join the football team. Ty played quarterback in Texas and took his team to the state championship. Jordan isn’t sure if she should worry more about her position or her heart because Ty is Chace Crawford hot.

Jordan has no shortage of hot guys around her, like her brother’s best friend Jake or her best friend Henry or one of the many guys on the team. The friendship between Henry and Jordan is sweet, funny, and effortless. Henry is the one who got Jordan into football at age seven and they have been best friends ever since. They do everything together from co-parenting an electronic baby in home ec. to playing football. While Henry is very proud of being a male slut he gives Jordan the push she needs to open up about her feelings for Ty. Jordan realizes she needs to find a balance and stop caring about what the world thinks or says.

If you only take one recommendation from me all year I hope you pick up this book! I find it rare when a novel leaves such a huge impression so I read it a second time and both times I laughed, cried, and smiled. I hope Hollywood comes calling because CATCHING JORDAN definitely has movie potential. CATCHING JORDAN is Miranda Kenneally’s debut novel and is available today. Miranda is also working on two companion novels THE GIRL I USED TO BE to be released in 2012 and BAD, BAD THING in 2013.

To learn more about Miranda visit:

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

December To Read List:

So here is my schedule of what I plan to read this month. Feel free to join me and then we can discuss. Also I am always up for taking recommendations. If you check my blog often you will find I add and remove books just depending on my moods. What are you reading or looking forward to reading this month?

Currently Reading:

Currently Listening To:

Reading Soon:

Listening To Soon:

Finished Reading:

Did Not Finish:

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Interview: Miranda Kenneally

I'm so lucky to interview Miranda Kenneally on my blog today. Miranda's debut novel CATCHING JORDAN was one of my favorite novels this year. I love how real her characters are. CATCHING JORDAN kept me up until 4:00 AM reading it, because I would not put the book down until I finished. I gush about this novel to anyone who's willing to listen and wish I could give every person a copy of this book.

What made you want to tell this particular story?
When I was in high school, I managed the boys' soccer team. Hanging around guys so often gave me an interesting view into their lives, and I wanted to share that will all the girls out there!

How difficult was it for Jordan to find a balance between being a girl, leader of her football team, and being herself?
Very hard. Jordan felt that if she showed any weakness, the guys on her team wouldn't take her seriously as a leader anymore. Obviously, teen girls have different needs than boys, so Jordan struggled with being herself and being what she "thought" everyone expected her to be. The minute she starts to experiment with acting like a girl, she begins to understand that everyone already knows she's a girl. That's even harder for her to deal with.

Jordan has to deal with her father who isn't necessarily understanding of who she is. How does Jordan handle it and how would you have handled the situation?
Jordan deals with it by trying to prove herself over and over again to her father, rather than sitting down with him and trying to understand his point of view. The same goes for him - until he starts to consider her opinions, he is very hard-headed. The entire book is about learning to make compromises.

I would've done exactly what Jordan did - set out to prove myself. But unlike Jordan at the beginning of the book, I am typically open to new ways of thinking.

Without being spoilerish what is one of your favorite scenes in the book and why?
My favorite scene is probably home ec class, where Jordan and Henry have to "raise" an electronic baby for a week. It was just really fun to write.

Catching Jordan feels like what real high school teens go through. What made you want to show more than just the fairy tale side of contemporary?
My teen years and high school were anything but a fairy tale. I guess I just wrote what I know to be true of high school.

How are you prepared to deal with the backlash from readers about some of Jordan's choices?
Mostly I just accept that different people think in different ways. I myself don't even approve of how Jordan acted at certain times, but people *do* behave poorly sometimes. That's just part of life. Besides, who wants to read about perfect characters who always do the *right* thing? (Whatever the right thing is)

What do you want readers to take away from this book?
That life is all about compromise. Some things you can afford to compromise on, but others you cannot (love, friendships).

What other projects do you have in the works?
Two companions to CATCHING JORDAN. The first comes out in October 2012. It's called THE GIRL I USED TO BE and it's about a 17-year-old girl who has the hots for the school baseball coach. The second book is called BAD, BAD THING and it's about a girl falling in love for the first time while working at a summer camp.

What exciting things do you have plans for your debut year?
Lots of writing! (I'm a very boring person, I swear). Also, I'm going to Florida to spend time in a hot tub and a lazy river.

What do readers not know about you that would make them giggle?
I can karaoke like nobody's business. I didn't make it as a country music singer. Alas.

Where can readers find you?
I'm always on Twitter and Facebook Also --

Shatter Me and Catching Jordan Winners

We have winners!!!

Congratulations to Ricki @ Reading Challenged who is the winner of CATCHING JORDAN!

Congratulations to Kristi S. who is the winner of SHATTER ME!

The winners have been notified and has 48 hours to reply with a mailing address.

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Lucky One Movie Trailer

GASP! Have you seen the movie trailer for Nicholas Sparks' The Lucky One? I know many aren't big fans of Nicholas Sparks, but I really love some of his books and it's primarily what I read before YA. For those of you who have read the Lucky One what are your thoughts on the trailer?

I think Zac Efron looks amazingly hot and if they stay close to the book the story will be emotional and classic Nicholas Sparks which translates into big bucks. My concern was that they cast Taylor Schilling in the lead and while she is only three years older than Zac she appears to be a lot older than him. I will reserve judgement until I see it on screen.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Book Events: Hillary Jordan

Earlier this year I attended an event at Blue Willow Bookshop for Hillary Jordan, the author of When She Woke. The staff raved about When She Woke and the cover is stunning so I had to be there. Also the story is little like The Scarlett Letter so that also caught my attention. Here are a few pictures I took at the event.

For more on Hillary Jordan visit:

Friday, November 25, 2011

Black Friday Giveaway: Shatter Me ARC

Ready for Black Friday? No need for hair pulling, screaming, and fighting! One lucky person is going to win an ARC of Shatter Me. I'm reading this book now and everyone raves about it!

Make sure to visit the following bloggers who are also participating:

Kate @ Ex Libris
Tillie @ Nuttier Reads
Michelle @ Windowpane Memoirs
Sarah's Books
Books to the Sky

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Review: Past Perfect

Past Perfect by Leila Sales

Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

Past Perfect is such a fun contemporary novel. I'm not sure what part of the story the book's cover is supposed to depict, but the story itself is a perfect blend of funny, romance, mistakes, and a loveable main character.

Chelsea is a high school junior who plans to spend the summer working at the mall with her best friend Chelsea. Her goals include becoming an ice cream connoisseur and never thinking about her ex-boyfriend Ezra. Ezra was the perfect guy who suddenly ended their relationship. Chelsea is crushed and hopes he will want to get back with her. Only her plan backfires when her best friend wants to work at Essex Historical Colonial Village the re-enactment park she has worked at all her life with her parents. Chelsea eventually gives in but working at Essex gets even more complicated when she sees that Ezra has also taken a job there.

The teens at Essex have a tradition of being at war with the Civil War village across the road. They play pranks and try to get the best of each other. During the first meeting Chelsea is appointed lieutenant to help bring victory against the Civil Warriors. The craziness that goes on is hilarious!

On the first night of the war Chelsea gets kidnapped by the Civil Warriors and the guy who keeps her captive turns out to be a super cute guy! Chelsea knows that dating a Civil Warrior can't happen, but he is so cute which can only mean more trouble for Chelsea! I adore this book! Chelsea learns about herself and comes to terms about her feelings for Ezra.

If you are in the mood for a contemporary YA read then this is the book for you! Past Perfect is Leila Sales second novel! I look forward to going back and reading her first novel Mostly Good Girls and look forward to more from her in the future.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Eve Winner

Congratulations to Book Goonie who is the winner of the signed copy of Eve by Anna Carey since the first person drawn did not reply! The winner has been notified and has 48 hours to reply with a mailing address. Be sure to enter the Catching Jordan Giveaway!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Book Trailer: Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally

I'm really excited to share the book trailer of Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally! When I first read the summary I couldn't wait to read it and then when I got the book I stayed up until 4:00 AM reading it and believe me it's definitely 5 star worthy. I want to thank Miranda for letting me debut the trailer on my blog and to celebrate the occasion I'm giving away some prizes.

To learn more about Miranda visit:
The video was made by: Vania Stoyanova of

Grand Prize will be a preorder of Catching Jordan with swag

3 others will receive Catching Jordan Bookmarks, stickers, and trading cards

Book Depository Shipping

Friday, November 11, 2011

Guest Review: The Faerie Ring

Sarah's Books & Life Button
I have invited my friend Sarah to guest review on my blog. Sarah is a Houston book blogger and like me a big supporter of Class of 2k11. When she mentioned she was reading The Faerie Ring I asked if she would like to review it for my blog and here we are! I hope you enjoy Sarah's review and make sure to visit her site.

The Faerie Ring by Kiki Hamilton

Sarah's Rating: 4 stars

I’ve been looking forward to reading The Faerie Ring since I first read about it last spring and I was not disappointed! By the first few pages I was hooked and I couldn’t wait to find out more about Tiki and why she ends up picking pockets when she seems to be educated and could've possibly found another way to earn money. I enjoyed being taken back in time to 1871 London on this tale of survival and self-discovery. Tiki is not just picking pockets for herself, but for the four other orphaned children she shares a space with, for which she feels a responsibility to. But Tiki will soon find out that just because you don't get caught stealing there are always consequences and that you should be careful who you steal from.

Tiki steals a ring belonging to Queen Victoria and she soon finds herself in the middle of what could become a nasty war between England and the Faire realm. Then there is the mysterious Rieker, a fellow thief, who is not quite what he seems. I enjoyed seeing Tiki come into her own as she tries to save her family and find out more about why Rieker is so interested in her.

Part of the enjoyment of this book was seeing how all the pieces fell together and how the title has more than one meaning.I can’t wait to read more about the world Kiki has created in The Faerie Ring and to discover what is in store for Tiki and Rieker.

For more on Sarah visit:
For more on Kiki Hamilton visit: