FebSESSD and a Contest of EPIC Proportions

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Don't Stop Believing by Journey.

First, my craziness. For the month of February I am going to write a short story every day for a month. Eat your heart out Scheherazade (okay, she has three years plus on me, so never mind). I chose February because HEY! It's the shortest month of the year! Woot. Is that cheating? Of course not. *glances around* Anyone who wants to participate is more than welcome to. In fact, I would seriously love it, and I would love to feature any short stories you write on my blog. I want to do this because I honestly feel that writing short stories can greatly help improve your craft (for you writers out there) and plus, they are a lot of fun to read, especially if you don't have time for a full novel (for all you readers out there). It's like a bite-sized morsel of joy. ^_^ I'm tentatively calling it: February Seems Empty so Short Stories Every Day (no exceptions!) Month, or FebSESSD (like obsessed) for short. If you have any other names, please tell me. Acronyms were never my strong suit. Am I hoping this gets as big as NaNoWriMo? Oh heavens no. That sounds absolutely terrifying. But I do think it's going to be a lot of fun and I would love the company on this venture. Why does this feel like the YA Fantasy Showdown all over again?...

But now onto the contest!

And that's all I could do. I ran out of room on my monitor. There's even more than that, but it gives you an idea of what is in store for you.

This is it. The moment you've all been waiting for. A contest so big, I am honestly a bit nervous for my postal bill. But that's okay, because I figure, if you're going to do something, might as well make it epic, right? Guts and glory! And all those inside tummy things.

I am giving away books. A LOT of books. Because as much as I love them, I have no where to put them (Literally. It is a dance to not knock things over in my room). So though we are parting, but I know they are going to good homes. Why? Because the book blogosphere has some of the most awesome people alive out there. Yes, better than lemon bars or sliced bread (oh, you know it). And the best part is, there are a couple of ways to win big.

All you have to do is get followers over here (because who doesn't like more friends?). :) You following? That totally counts. You refer someone else? Extra point for you. But it is not “ye who gets the most followers wins” Oh no. You can win as much as you want. I love lists, so we'll break it down thusly:

If you get -

10 followers over here = A poem or short story of your choice written for you. Anything you want.

25 followers = 1 book of your choice

40 followers = 3 books of your choice

60 followers = 5 books of your choice

75 followers = 7 books of your choice

100 followers = I don't know yet, but it is going to have to be something very epic.

I don't care how you get them over here (facebook and twitter are great resources. They're your friends, so they'll forgive you for bugging them, and plus, then they are automatically put into the running too. Thus the love spreads), but if they put your name/email address (or any way of identifying you so their point goes to you and not someone else) in the spreadsheet below -or email it directly to me (heatherzundel AT gmail [dot] com)- you are on your way to winning some very sweet prizes, all of your choosing.

But that's not all.

In conjunction with this contest, there is going to be a separate, UBER prize pack, filled with books, signed book posters, and swag galore. Every time my followers jumps up to a certain level, another book and/or some awesome book-like treat will be added to the stockpile. How will I determine what each new “level” will be? (Are you ready for my total nerd to break out?) :) … The Fibonacci Sequence, baby.

You've never heard of Fibonacci's Sequence? *jaw drops* It's only my favorite part in all mathematics (and I'm none too fond of math, by the way). Simply put, you add one number with the previous number to get the new number. So it starts out 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13.... (1+1=2, 1+2=3, 2+3=5,... and it can go on forever. Sooooooooo cool) Fine, you don't have to geek out with me, but I sure am. It's random like pi, but makes total sense! And it also shows perfection/order in nature. See?

Okay, geekie rant done.

But how it relates to you is every time my follower box reaches a Fibonacci milestone, something new is added to the mix. So you are gonna get a lot of stuff right out of the gate (I mean, I get one follower and there's already two books into the booty. You can't get much more sweet than that). But as the numbers go up, the prizes get bigger. Like, I have an exclusive Catching Fire t-shirt and pin that were released only for the promotion of the second book, completely new and waiting for you. I also have several signed books and book posters I'm throwing in as well (and other awesome swag). Plus there may or may not be a Dr. Seuss plush involved. Epic doesn't even begin to cover this.

Here is the Fibonacci milestone breakdown


So remember, that is for overall followers. So working together gets you to prizes of awesome too (Yay teamwork!). But I will put in the caveat that the referenced followers get first pick of the books, so if you want a guaranteed prize, that is definitely the way to go.

Go forth! And good luck everyone! I honestly have never been more excited for a contest in my life. And hopefully this month of me floundering for a short story a day will bring great amusement to you. There may be cartoons involved.

Contest ends February 28th Midnight PST.

Feature Fun Friday - A Wrinkle in Time in 90 Seconds

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Falling in Love at a Coffee Shop by Landon Pigg.

Oh, this is a hoot. YA author James Kennedy is my new hero. In conjunction with the New York Public Library (and with the help of Betsy Bird from Fuse #8), he is hosting a 90-second Newberry Award Festival. There are now 90 Newberry award winners (or is it 89?...). Anyway, the goal is to make a 90-second video of a Newberry winner in it's entirety. So, no trailers people. And the finished product is adorable, hilarious, and all levels of awesome, as is seen by James' own submission for A Wrinkle in Time. And the best part is you have until this fall to make one of your own. SIGN ME UP. I love this. I'm thinking The Graveyard Book could either be really cool or really creepy. Or both. (James has some fantastic suggestions on his website. The link will take you straight there).

"A Wrinkle In Time" In 90 Seconds from James Kennedy on Vimeo.

Get Ready for a Month of EPIC.

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Manchester 1866 by Steve Jablonsky [Steamboy soundtrack]. Yes, the same guy that did the Transformers score. :)

(Photo courtesy of Anagram Bookshop in Prague. Promotional images by Kaspan).

This is a teaser. This is the biggest contest I've ever done (and one of the biggest I've honestly ever seen anywhere). I'm hammering out the last details, but all I can say is - get ready to spread the word. This will probably break my bank in sending this to you (I'm not kidding).

Things to look forward to:



Baked goods!


Me being absolutely crazy. (Okay, that's fairly standard, actually).

More books than you'll know what to do with.

Yeah. It's going to be epic.

Get ready to click the follow button (and to tell all your friends). You don't want to miss this.

Look for details on Monday!

Interview - Jonathan Maberry, author of Rot and Ruin

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Finding Charlotte by Trevor Rabin [National Treasure soundtrack].

I have to say, this was a fun interview. Jonathan Maberry is so personable that it is hard to believe he writes zombie stories. And even though I conducted this interview through emails, it almost feels as if I sat down and talked with him the whole time. He is one interesting dude. So please welcome Jonathan Maberry, author of Rot and Ruin!

[ME] You have hordes of the undead and other otherworldly elements in Rot
and Ruin, but you also throw in extremely realistic pieces like the carpet coats and
essence-o-undead that they don every time they go out into the Ruin. Why do you need that practicality? What are some of your favorite pieces of realism that you added to your novel?

JONATHAN MABERRY: I’m a very practical person and I prize logic. As much as I love zombie movies and books, many of them present people as uniformly dumb. I’ve found that when push comes to shove, people are mighty darn inventive, and I showed that in ROT & RUIN. Probably my two favorite realistic touches are the carpet coats and the boarded windows. The carpet coats came out of research I did for a nonfiction book, ZOMBIE CSU. I interviewed a forensic odontologist (bite expert) and he said that after death dental ligaments begin to decay. A zombie simply could not bite as hard as a human. So, I began thinking about all of the things in my environment that I couldn’t easily bite through and which could be used for protection. Carpets are a logical choice.

There’s also a scene in ROT & RUIN where Benny and Tom are stuck in a house while zombies are surrounding it. Benny wants to board up the windows, but Tom points out that a lot of loud hammering is a sure way to attract the living dead. Instead he advises that they remain quiet and wait for the zoms to wander away, and then they’d slip out the back.

For a horror novel, you have a lot of heart in this book (which I loved), especially between the relationship of Tom and Benny. Is that typical for the horror genre? Why do you feel that kind of heart is important?

MABERRY: Heart and basic human emotions are often lost in horror and thriller fiction. Often the focus is on the strong negative emotions of rage, fear, terror, and so on. But tension situations often brings out a wide range of emotions. I get tired of stories that are about events rather than people. For me, it’s always about the people: who they are, why they do what they do, what they feel, and how things impact them on a human and emotional level.

What made you decide to make Tom and Benny Japanese (and to make Benny half-Irish)? Why such the difference in their ages?

MABERRY: I wanted to include a Samurai angle in the story, hence the Japanese heritage; but I was also looking to keep things grounded in a cultural diverse world. Mountainside, the hometown of the Imura brothers, is very diverse, with many ethnic and regional backgrounds represented.

As far as the age difference goes… I wanted Tom to have had enough life experience in the pre-First Night world. Also, he represents a parental figure. That relationship between the parental figure and the evolving teenager is crucial to the series.

Why did you give Tom a Samurai's sword as his main weapon of choice against the zombies? Don't get me wrong, I think it is wicked cool and very clever and original, but I still would love to know the genesis of the idea. Do any of your other zombie protagonists have them, or is Tom just special? (I'm totally cool with that, by the way).

MABERRY: The katana (Samurai sword) is a particular favorite of mine. I’ve been involved with jujutsu (Japanese combat) and Kenjutsu (Samurai swordsmanship) for 46 years now, and the katana is an elegant, durable and practical weapon. It’s incredibly fast, it’s great for cutting through bone (handled correctly) and it doesn’t need to be reloaded.

Also, part of the Benny Imura story is learning values. He and his friends will become a kind of new wave of Samurai. In the second book, DUST & DECAY, Benny and his friends are studying with Tom to be Samurai. The Samurai were tough, knowledgeable fighters but the core of their culture was a set of ethics called Bushido. These seven standards of behavior are: courage, benevolence, respect, honor, honesty, loyalty and integrity.

Did you ever get that feeling of the theme song from The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly when writing any of these showdown scenes?

MABERRY: ROT & RUIN definitely owes a debt to westerns. I grew up reading Louis L’Amour novels and watching John Wayne and Clint Eastwood movies. I love that kind of rural drama, and so I built ROT & RUIN around that structure. It also works well with post-apocalyptic and dystopian themes.

You say your characters are drawn, in whole or in part, from people you have actually known. Who was the inspiration for Tom and Benny? And how about Charlie and the Lost Girl?

MABERRY: Charlie is based on some abusive people I knew as a kid. Very bad people who often tried to justify their actions. Charlie is probably one of the most realistic characters in the book. As far as Lilah, the Lost Girl…I’ve known a lot of loners over the years. Damage people who used their hurt as a pathway to personal power. Lilah is very, very strong because she was very, very broken. She is not, however, indestructible. In DUST & DECAY we get to explore more of her complex psychological makeup. Oh, and she’s on the cover of the second book, too.

You have said that writing Rot and Ruin was "liberating." How so? Why is the YA genre so open to experimentation and crossing genres?

MABERRY: There are no real limits to what you can put into a middle grade adventure. I combined westerns, zombies, post-apocalyptic science fiction, fantasy, horror and rescue adventures into one book.

You've said you immersed yourself in YA in prep for writing Rot and Ruin. What do you like most about the books published for YA and think of YA as a whole?

MABERRY: So far I’ve found the YA genre to be more consistently well-written and inventive than most adult genres. I continue to read middle-grade and YA books with great enthusiasm and satisfaction.

And on that note, were there any YA books you were particularly impressed with in your voyage of discovery? What are some of your recent finds?

MABERRY: Cherie Priest’s steampunk zombie novels are killer: BONESHAKER and DREADNOUGHT. I love Scott Westerfeld's books, particularly BEHEMOTH and LEVIATHAN; and Cassandra Clare's CLOCKWORK ANGEL is brilliant. But I also dig creepy stuff like THE REPLACEMENT by Brenna Yovanoff and Rick Yancey's CURSE OF THE WENDIGO.

Where did the idea of Zombie Cards come in?

MABERRY: When I was a kid I collected Marvel Comics trading cards. Kids love collecting cards. Why would a zombie apocalypse stop that?

Okay, tell us more about your extracurricular/former activities (fencing? jujustsu? You were a bodyguard?!) What were those like?

MABERRY: I’ve been involved in martial arts and combative sports my whole life. At first it was for survival. Later it was to manage rage issues. Then it became something I enjoyed teaching and writing about. I boxed, wrestled, fenced, competed in open-style mixed martial arts tournaments (with a record of 102 wins, 2 ties, 2 losses; with 68 knockouts). I also created and taught specialized self-defense courses for women, abuse victims, children, the elderly, the blind and physically challenged. That was very rewarding.

As I mellowed over the years, I concentrated less on self-defense and more on pure martial arts, delving into the science of it (it’s all physics, psychology, anatomy, etc.) and the history of it. I taught a Martial Arts History course at Temple University, where I also taught women’s self-defense. As a young man I spent four years as a bodyguard in the entertainment industry. Sounds fun, but it resulted in a lot of incidents of violent confrontation (which are no fun for anyone). Even though I won those encounters, I have dozens of knife scars and looking back on moments of violence is in no way satisfying. Nowadays, I prefer the more meditative pursuit of solo training with the katana.

You has said you like to write about truth (which seems completely contradictory in any book with fantastical elements, but I agree with you wholly). What truth lies in Rot and Ruin?

MABERRY: I believe people are innately good, but that they are easily misled. Those who are misled often find ways to justify their mistakes, and that leads to a pervasive culture of corruption. Tom is the model for proper behavior as it exists in my mind. He’s a good guy who uses strength to protect the innocent rather than to exploit them. Charlie is his polar opposite. He does some good for people, but he uses that as leverage to do even greater harm. This is showcased in ROT & RUIN and in DUST & DECAY. I also believe in the power of friendship. Benny’s love for his friends gives him enormous strength and courage. It’s often true that we don’t know how courageous we are until we face great fear.

And, call me an idealist, but I think the good guys stand a chance of winning in the end. But only if the good guys are tough enough to protect the things that matter to them.

I know the sequel, Dust and Decay, is due out and I understand it was a two-book deal with Simon & Schuster and you are in talks for more. If so, what would this series shape out to be like? And if not, does Dust and Decay wrap things up pretty nicely?

MABERRY: DUST & DECAY will be out in Summer 2012, and we just sold two more books in the series – FLESH & BONE and FIRE & ASH, which should complete the major story arc begun in ROT. Each book is a standalone, but there is a theme that ties them all together, and if you read ROT you’ll probably know what that is likely to be. How it ends, though, is something only my editor, my agent and I know.

In the next books, Benny, Nix, Tom and some others begin a journey into the Ruin. This is a very, very dangerous thing to do, and not all of the endings in the series are going to be happy ones. Not everyone gets out alive… but that’s just like life.

What were Tom's thoughts as he was carrying Benny away on First Night?

MABERRY: There are thirteen pages of free prequel scenes for ROT & RUIN available on the Simon & Schuster webpage for the book. Here’s a link to the main page; access the scenes by clicking on the banner that reads: READ BONUS MATERIAL BY JONATHAN MABERRY:

Tom's escape during First Night is part of that story. And in my new newsletter, which launches Feb 1, I’ll be including other brief scenes from First Night and from Mountainside. We’ll get to see a lot more of Tom Imura, and of his relationship with Jessie Riley. You can subscribe to the newsletter for free by going to my website: www.jonathanmaberry.com

Thanks so much, Jonathan!


BIO: JONATHAN MABERRY is a New York Times best-selling and multiple Bram Stoker Award-winning author, magazine feature writer, playwright, content creator and writing teacher/lecturer. His books have been sold to more than a dozen countries. His novels include the Pine Deep Trilogy: GHOST ROAD BLUES (winner of the Bram Stoker

Award for Best First Novel), DEAD MAN’S SONG, and BAD MOON RISING; the Joe Ledger series of action thrillers from St. Martin’s Griffin: PATIENT ZERO (winner of the Black Glove Award for Best Zombie Novel of the Year, and in development for TV), THE DRAGON FACTORY, THE KING OF PLAGUES; THE WOLFMAN; the Benny Imura series of Young Adult dystopian zombie thrillers from Simon & Schuster: ROT & RUIN and DUST & DECAY; and the forthcoming standalone zombie thriller DEAD OF NIGHT. His nonfiction works include: VAMPIRE UNIVERSE, THE CRYPTOPEDIA (winner of the Bram Stoker Award for Outstanding Achievement in Nonfiction; co-authored by David F. Kramer), ZOMBIE CSU: The Forensics of the Living Dead (Winner of the Hinzman and Black Quill Awards and nominated for a Stoker Award), THEY BITE! (with David F. Kramer), and WANTED UNDEAD OR ALIVE (with Janice Gable Bashman). His work for Marvel includes BLACK PANTHER: POWER, KLAWS OF THE PANTHER, CAPTAIN AMERICA: HAIL HYDRA, DOOMWAR and MARVEL ZOMBIES RETURN. Jonathan has been a popular writing teacher and career counselor for writers for the last two decades. He teaches a highly regard series of classes and workshops including Write Your Novel in Nine Months, Revise & Sell, Experimental Writing for Teens, and others. Many of his students have gone on to publish in short and novel-length fiction, magazine feature writing, nonfiction books, TV, film, and comics. In 2004 Jonathan was inducted into the International Martial Arts Hall of Fame largely because of his extensive writings in that field. Visit his website at www.jonathanmaberry.com or find him on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, GoodReads, Library Thing, Shefari and Plaxo.

In 2011, Jonathan will be a Guest of Honor, Keynote speaker, workshop leader or panelist at a number of major literary events including BackSpace, PennWriters, KillerCon, Central Coast Writers Conference, Liberty States Writers Conference, The Write Stuff, Texas Library Association Conference, PhilCon, Necon, Shroud, and others.

Jonathan Maberry website/blog: www.jonathanmaberry.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/JonathanMaberry
Twitter: http://twitter.com/jonathanmaberry

Review - Rot and Ruin by Jonathan Maberry

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): World on a String by The Immediate.

My reviews are a bit different than most. As an undercover superhero (ordinary girl extraordinaire), my purpose is to try and uncover hidden gems lost from the familiar radar. Because of this, I have set up some guidelines for myself (just like the pirate code). :)

I will focus on YA and Children's literature (with very rare exceptions).
I will not review any book that is one of the top 25,000 bestselling books (based on Amazon ranks).
I will try and aim for books 100,000 or larger.
I will review recent books or books of great merit (preferably both).

Rot and Ruin by Jonathan Maberry
Published: September 14, 2010
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Pages: 464
Current Amazon Rank: #42,837
Author's Website: http://jonathanmaberry.com/
Want it? Find it here.

The First Line:

Benny Imura couldn't hold a job, so he took to killing.

My Take:

I don't like zombies. Sorry guys, I find them creepy and not cool. I like zombie books even less. They seem like generic monsters (or freakishly fast ones, or with some other twist-like alteration) and full of blood and gore, often (to me) unnecessarily. Ick. But with that caveat, let me say I *loved* Rot and Ruin. No, let me say I adored it. Why? Let me tell you.

This is not your typical zombie book. The zombies are typical (which, ironically, adds to the mythology and makes this story even cooler. Go figure). Sure there is plenty of action, and a decent amount of biting if you know what I mean, but this book has serious heart. I'm not kidding on that. I read in an interview somewhere with Jonathan Maberry that he said (something to the extent of) that good horror isn't about the monsters. It is about people put under extraordinary circumstances and seeing what they become/are made of. I really like that. And under that definition, this is good horror.

Benny hates his brother. In fact, he loathes him. He may have been barely able to remember First Night when the zombies took over, but he has a clear memory of Tom taking him, looking at their mother and running away from it all, and leaving her to the zombies. Everyone thinks Tom is wonderful, but Benny knows the truth.

But he has no choice. Now that he is of age, he has to work or he doesn't get rations. But no place will take him, so he is forced to work for Tom, a zom bounty hunter, or "closure specialist" as he likes to be called. But not is all it seems out in the Rot and Ruin as Benny soon discovers. The real monsters are not always who they appear to be, and he may learn more about his brother than he ever dreamed.

Part dystopian, part horror, part action-adventure and more than part heart-warming tale about two brothers relying on each other in a world gone mad, this is one excellent story. I cannot tell you how happy I am it was nominated for a Cybils. There is so much to like about this book. It is tight and fast paced (I finished it in a single sitting, which is no small feat for me, nor the fact is was almost 500 pages. Don't let that deter you though, or the cover for that matter. It goes by fast), and it has complex characters and a story that really makes you think. I honestly never thought of zombies this way before, and it's awesome.

And can I say how much I LOVED that Tom and Benny were Japanese? I mean, Tom carries a freaking katana! And he uses with deadly accuracy too. (Oh my gosh, Tom is so cool). And you know what? It makes total sense. Zombies are attracted to sound, so why on earth would you be blasting away with a shotgun? A katana is silent, fast and deadly, and the scenes where Tom uses it are fantastically written. (You can tell I will be geeking out about this for a while). And more than that, he adds real Japanese culture to this, having Tom teach Benny and his friends Bushido (the way of the samurai warrior). No Asian-geek, friend-made-for-the-sideline stereotypes here and I cannot tell you how much I love that or how much it adds to the story. He adds other bits too, like wearing coats made of carpet material when they go out into the Ruin because the zombies can't bite through it. Other details like this make the world completely immersive.

There is also a western meets seven samurai flair that I absolutely loved (the tale of the Seven Samurai is a famous Japanese story that is retold extensively in the east and west). There is one scene in particular I swear I could hear the theme song from The Good, the Bad, and The Ugly playing when Tom comes up behind the real baddie to protect his little brother. Squee! Love. :)

The writing is tight, but lacking in a few areas, but not many. The fixation on the "Lost Girl" didn't seem quite as needed as it was, compared to Tom and Benny's relationship, but it was not overly distracting (and probably needed to propel this into a series - which it is!) :D There is some language (just as a warning) and obviously some violence, so keep that in mind, but this is much more a thought-provoking and story of the heart than a gore-fest. Tom teaches Benny that not everything is what it seems out there and he opens his eyes to a much bigger view about the world, his brother, and himself.

Good story. I am eagerly awaiting the sequel (it closes up quite nicely, so no cliffhanger ending for those of you who might have been afraid of that). You might say I have become a zombie book convert. Well, to this particular world of Jonathan Maberry's, I have. :)

The Final Word: More than anything, this is a beautiful and heartwarming story about the relationship between two brothers and seeing monsters are rarely what they seem.

(I am so excited for an interview with Jonathan Maberry tomorrow, let me tell you. He is one fascinating dude).

Monday's Muse, 27th edition.

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Enjoy the Silence by Depeche Mode.

The idea of Monday's Muse is to introduce you to unknown, forgotten, or overlooked fiction that has been lost from regular radar. I am WriterGirl. I am in the business of saving lives, one book at a time.

What I do is go to amazon, narrow it down to a YA field and type in a random word, any word that comes to mind. I then take a sampling of some I have never heard of before, or only vaguely heard of (and hopefully you as well). No infringement is intended for any description I take for the books. It's purely for promotional reasons. I will try and cover as many genres as possible that are fitting for the random word. Simple but it really uncovers some incredible gems. I will be doing this every other Monday. If there are any words you want to prompt me with, go ahead and fire away.

Today's random word:

Stuck On Earth by David Klass

Before being vaporized by a Gagnerian Death Ray, humans (aka “the laughingstock of the universe”) get a last chance to prove their worth when superintelligent alien Ketchvar III arrives for an evaluation. The size of a snail, Ketchvar crawls into the nose and inhabits the brain of 14-year-old Tom, a bullied nerd living in suburban New Jersey. In theory, this gives Ketchvar the opportunity to operate covertly, though his stiff new speech patterns have everyone thinking Tom’s acting even weirder than normal (“Let us live in harmony, like the moss and the lichen,” he implores his bratty sister). Between the shocking violence of the “voluntary daily incarceration” known as school and examinations into the “empty constructs” of war and love, Ketchvar reports to his mothership via e-mails with subject headings like “Old Hip-Hop Songs That Sucked.” Klass even manages to work in an effective environmental message. There are no major surprises—the sweet “earth girl next door” wins Earth another chance—but that doesn’t hamper this fast-moving and irascible comedy. --Booklist

As Easy as Falling off the Face of the Earth by Lynn Rae Perkins

Up This is a story of one misfortune after another. As the book opens, Ry, a 16-year-old Wisconsin resident en route to camp, is left behind in Middle-of-Nowhere, MT, as his stalled train pulls out and he recounts the events that led him to leave the train in the first place. Bad goes to worse: he loses a shoe and his phone charger, his grandfather back home is injured, and his parents are having their own misadventures in the Caribbean. A superhero of a fix-it guy named Del helps Ry to put his life back together. Along the way, readers learn that there is more to Del than initially meets the eye. The story is told in a traditional, episodic style, bouncing from one calamity to the next. The narration occasionally switches perspective to include the grandfather's tale of woe as well as well-drawn graphic-style portrayals of the family dogs' mishaps. The style is reminiscent of Chris Crutcher's, and the action is evocative of Gary Paulsen, but the freewheeling prose, quirky humor, and subtle life lessons are all Perkins's own. This novel is not going to be every teen boy's cup of tea, but its charms are undeniable. --School Library Journal, Leah Krippner, Harlem High School, Machesney Park, IL

The Earth Kitchen by Sharon Bryant

Twelve-year-old Gwen, a patient in a state psychiatric hospital in the early 1960s, worries that there will be an atom bomb attack. She believes that her parents were killed in one that she survived, but there was actually a catastrophic automobile accident that she has repressed from memory. Early in the story, reality and Gwen's fantasy world blur together. When a little bird flies by her window with something in its beak that drops to the ground, the child goes in search of the object, a little gold key, which she picks up and keeps hidden. The key is symbolic to her, but only much later is its full significance revealed. As the plot progresses and she emerges from a stay in a fantasized forest, in a room in a tree where all her needs are met, Dr. Stone helps Gwen, and, thankfully, readers, to understand that for months she has been "gone," living in a safe place in her mind while sorting out her parents' deaths. This is a complex book that may require too much of its audience, who may fail to make the connections needed for a true understanding of the story. The mixing of reality with Gwen's confusing inner world is difficult to follow. Further, modern children need far more background than the story provides about the Cold War era. The prose is lovely, especially the descriptions of Gwen's time in the "earth kitchen." However, this is definitely a book with a small potential audience, for a few special readers. --School Library Journal, Bruce Anne Shook, Mendenhall Middle School, Greensboro, NC

Feature Fun Friday - Bright Young Things book cover shoot

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): All Tomorrow's Parties by Icehouse.

Now I have to admit that I'd never heard of this title before, but this is a really cool look of what goes on behind the scenes to do a photo shoot for a book cover. And now it's got me interested. So, right on, HarpterTeen! Enjoy and have a great weekend, everyone!

(And alternately, to see how a painted book cover is made, click here for an amazing video).

To AtU and Beyond...!

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Don't Let Me Fall by Lenka.

So if you haven't heard about Beth Revis's most epic contest, you should head over there right now. Between her and Penguin, they are giving away a Fort Knox worth of the good stuff, including 50 custom Across the Universe water bottles (you'll get it when you read the book, and it is fantastic. I so want one of these), awesome pin swag all around, star suckers, signed hardcovers, audiobooks, something secret inside a special box, and a freaking ipod touch! (I want it I want it, so please, no one enter for that one). :) It is as she has said "Now with more EPIC." I agree.

And all you have to do is take a picture with you and your copy of the book (click the linky above for all the juicy deets). [Edit: And it's just been extended to the 31st! So go get a book and get creative! :D] And oh!!! I forgot about the referral prize. If you heard about the contest through here, do put my name in the referral line. Pretty please? Cause that audiobook would make my entrance into nerdy university complete. :) But seriously, click over there. There are so many ways to win prizes of awesome.

So in preparation I decided to bring on all my sci-fi nerdy love. And apparently I wasn't the only one to join the party.

A certain space cadet fresh from the academy decided he just had to come along. When I asked where we were going, all he would say was "To infinity and beyond." That was okay with me, so long as it brought me closer to AtU (and who could resist that smile or charisma?) :)

When I hitched a ride on perhaps the coolest ship ever in the verse, AtU and she decided to compare schematics. :)

And while we were waiting, AtU decided to play dress up. I looked everywhere for a light saber for myself, but they were already taken.

Oh, and by the way, you have no idea how hard it is to get play-dough buns on anything. Major kudos to Leia. My respect for awesome girl has grown even more.

Adventures in DEATH!

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Ordinary Day by Vanessa Carlton.

Hahaha, okay, that sounded a lot scarier than it needed to. And it is true I was around a whole lotta dead things. They're just... 65 million years old kind of dead.

And great job on the guessing, Katie! You were right on the head, just a different rose (enter Shakespeare reference). It is called The Museum of Ancient Life, and it houses the largest collection of mounted dinosaurs in the world. It. Is. Amazing. Even better? They are displayed in lifelike positions and many you can walk right up to and touch. Yes, the actual fossils. (You even have to walk under a Brachiosaurus at one point to get to the next room. It is the coolest thing ever. And the ambiance is great. They have background sounds and murals that help immerse and make you feel like you are really there? Now onto the best part! :D

*cue the pictures!*

Cool little non-moving Pirates of the Carribbean statues show what being an archeologist is really like (sorry Indiana, so whip and cool hat here). You even get to go inside a mock up of what their housing is like. Very spiffy indeed. (They also have a star tunnel to help you "travel back in time" that TOTALLY made me think of Across the Universe). :)

Aren't the humans so cute? :)

Look! It's a real, live paleontologist! Yes, they have an actual paleontology lab inside the museum itself, and you can pay a little more and go inside and get a hands-on experience unlike any other. Lucky girl. *pouts*

FULGARITES!!! I <3 these hardcore. This is what happens when lightning strikes sand. It becomes hard, hollowed-out tube and completely touchable. It's fossilized lightning! (I have one) :)

Big, angry fish (it's called a Lepidotes Maximus). Any fish called Maximus is cool in my book.

It's so cute! I want one!!!

Now we're onto the big boys. :)

Our dinosaur claim to fame is making the REAL terror of Jurassic park true. Utahraptor FTW, baby!


These are so cute. I want one too. I'm pretty sure they're plant eaters...

Oh My Gosh! They made Bambi into a lethal flesh-eating terror!

Why hello, Lord T-Rex.

Eremotherium. Seriously, look it up. These things were vegetarians!?

Beaver Sloth of DOOOOOOOOOOOM!!!

Poor Mammoth. :'( You can beat them! You're strong and powerful! Go Mammoth!!!

I am so macabre. :)

And holy-wow-goodness-of-I-want! You can sleep over inside the museum! How cool is that!?!! *dies of nerdy happiness*

Guess My Adventure

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Venice Rooftops by Jesper Kyd [Assassin's Creed II soundtrack].

Okay, this is kind of an easy one, but really, it's kinda hard to find an enigmatic picture when they're all skeletons. But this is one SERIOUS skeleton, if I do say so myself. :) Guess away! Adventure tomorrow.

Feature Fun Friday - George's Marvelous Medicine, Theater style

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Iris by The Goo Goo Dolls.

Any kind of art rocks my world. Music, movies, theater, dance, origami, painting, oh yeah, novels. The list could go on. But my inner geek goes into giddy overdrive when art forms become combined. Photoshop painting of Lily and Severus from HP? Or bookmarks? Love it. A famous band who writes a song from a movie that touched them? Gush. ^_^ Another one I've recently(-ish) discovered is turning a book into a play. I've heard of If You Give a Mouse a Cookie done by a children's theather (how adorable can you get!?) and now, a theatrical version of Roald Dahl's George's Marvellous Medicine being done in London at the New Wimbledon Theatre. I don't know about you, but I think Roald Dahl's style is perfect for this kind of artistic transformation. Too bad it's on the other side of the pond. What do you think? What is a book you would like seen turned into a play? Or what do you think of artistic crossovers in general?

So I was a First Round Panelist Judge...

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now) A Drive in the Country by Phillip Glass [from Cassandra's Dream].

How do you wrap up three months of your life in a single post? Really?

Minor confession time that shouldn't be all that surprising. I have never been a judge on any book panel before. I was (and still am) so honored and humbled that they offered me a chance to be apart of something so incredibly cool.

It. Was. Crazy. As in crazy fun and just plain insane. Reading that many books in that short of time? All I can say is holy cow. I am a savorer of books. I take them in slowly and enjoy the feast of emotions and words and nuances of characters (unless you're called The Hunger Games *cough cough* Then that is your own fault). This? This was like being in a hot dog eating contest and I had ten minutes to ingest my entire body weight in wieners.

My days went something like this: I went to work, ate food (sometimes) and then would stay up past midnight or later, trying to finish a book a day. Waking up early to read more was also regularly a part of the routine. A book a day didn't always happen, but that was the goal. (And if you want to do the math, a book a day over three months equates to roughly 90 books. And you have to cut out the last two weeks for discussion, so that takes it roughly down to 75(ish), and there were 147 books nominated this year. Yeah... you see what I mean). And there were some panelists that were able to read well over 100. I give hardcore accolades to them. I was not one of them, try as I might. And I really wanted to too. Seriously, my plan was to not only read EVERY book on the panel but also if it was part of a series, every book before then. Silly, silly Heather. *shakes head*

Thoughts on reading

Some theme became immediately clear. Honestly (and this is my extreme naivety speaking here) I never thought an agent or editor could catch the nuance and scope of a work in just 10 or even 50 pages. I was one of those quiet grumblers that said "impossible" and "oh ye short-changers of great stories. Give them a real chance!" This gave me a newfound appreciation and respect for the work they do. After reading this many books in such a condensed amount of time, I was able to see just how an author could capture the action, the passion, the scope, the characterization, and the atmosphere of a story all in the first page. It was mind boggling. I would pull a book from one of two leaning towers that threatened to fall over (and did. More than once), not really expecting anything out of the ordinary, but then I would be blown away. I would immediately think "oh, this is going to be good." Others, within the first four pages or so I had a feeling would not be a finalist. I was sometimes wrong, but far more often than not, by page 50 my feelings had not changed. However, the reverse could also be true. A book I thought was a for-sure winner would stumble somewhere near the end, breaking my heart. The point of this is that, well, agents and editors really do know what they're doing. And you actually can tell a lot more about the first few pages of a book than you think. That was pretty cool.

Now this is all fine and good, but you want to know what happens behind closed doors, right? The juicy sekkrit stuff that no one knows about. Talking about the reading process is all fine and good but you could have probably guessed that it would have been like that, right? Well then, I am here to oblige. :)

*pulls aside the curtain to show the wizard within*

Inside the panel

Well, we have a database where all the nominations with their pretty pretty book covers and all information is kept. Honestly, this was a lifesaver. It listed them in alphabetical order and showed how many panelists had read a certain book and how many has received X book as a review copy from publishers (this was extraordinarily helpful for smaller publishing houses and books that were extremely popular and thus on perpetual check-out at the library. *Clockwork Angel and Shipbreaker!* *cough cough!* Not to mention several others). So, thank you, publishers! This one goes out to you. :) And it was really nice because we could eliminate which books had been read by 5, 4, 3, and 2 panelists so we could cover as much ground as fast as possible. We also had a separate tab where we kept our "personal" or working shortlist (this changed frequently, and it was supposed to as we read more and more books). Then there was a tab where it would show everyone's shortlists combined together so you could see how many times a book was on a personal list. This gave us a rough idea of where the judging was headed and where we might want to focus some of our reading. But this was by no means conclusive.

There were some books that were nominated by 3 panelists (half the judges) or more that did not make it as a finalist. This is where the discussion became so important, because we each had different ideas and viewpoints and when one brought out a certain point, it could change our entire perspective of how we related and felt about that book. And our lists combined was long. So if your book did not make it, do not think it was not a contender or that it just barely didn't make it. So go ahead and think it was your book. :) We also had a message board where we held all of our pre-discussions, where we could squee and scream to politely tell everyone else on the panel to read a book, or just what we did or did not like about a certain story. This went on for two and a half months. Then came The Grand Council of Elrond *ahem* Book Judging.

This was a live chat, and really could not be done any other way. There are so many nuances you can miss when you are not screaming them at others in the heat of the moment. :) As a seasoned vetran, Tanita over at Finding Wonderland has a fabulous and hilarious post that tells it better than I can. Yes, there was indeed quite a bit Zac Effron talk (don't ask why. Really). We also joked and laughed and poked fun at one another. But we also discussed predestination and author agenda, worldbuilding and cop-outs, endings and accurate representation of cultures and characters, mortality and samurai swords.

And Tanita is a serious trouper. Living over across the pond, she was up until 5 in the morning while we discussed and passionately fumed (and cyberly stomped) when a favorite of ours was not picked. *uh... raises hand*

I'm kind of sad that it was not more fight club than book club, but it gave us a chance to really examine the books in different ways, and that was really cool. And there was still minor bloodshed on behalf of our favorites, let me assure you. :) It's probably good these are done over chats. Police involvement might be needed otherwise. Even though this was my first time judging, I don't think any book panel emerges without some bloodshed given and taken from every corner. Also take comfort in that authors and readers. We are fighting just as passionately for the books as you.

Total time elapsed from start to finish for the discussion? 4.5 hours. Yeah, that's passion in a nutshell.

This was one crazy experience, perhaps one of the craziest I've ever had, but man, it was so much fun. And seeing everything from the nominations pouring in and reading all of these amazing worlds and the characters who inhabit them to the final discussion reminded me again just how much I love stories and everyone in, and behind, them. So this post is for you.

1.11.11 - The Wait is Over.

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Across the Universe by the Beatles.

You. Bookstore. This book. Right now. Go. Shoo. The jedi has spoken.

EDIT: io9 JUST released the first 111 pages of Across the Universe to read for free! But it is only available until 11:11 PM EST tonight. So if you you're unsure and want a preview, go over there right now!

Feature Fun Friday - It's Almost Here!!! :D

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod): Test Drive by John Powell [How To Train Your Dragon soundtrack].

Final thoughts on the Cybils coming up, but first look at this! Lookitlookitlookit!!! This counts for Feature Fun Friday and squeeing joy and rapture all in one. Beth Revis, who is as wonderful and sweet and awesome as they come, has her debut book coming out. And it is no small thing. Some people are calling it the next Hunger Games. A dangerous comparison and not quite a fair since they have elements that are the similar, but at the same time, are so so different. It is like the perfect milkshake (a hardcore comparison for me). It has action and adventure, an awesome mystery and a perfect dash of romance. And it makes you think about your world in a whole new way. Another blogger said it best (I'll try and find the review): It is worth every star in the sky.

What are you waiting for? It comes out tomorrow!!! :D

*Snoopy happy dances all the way to the bookstore*

And that's it!

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Must Be Dreaming by Frou Frou.

And there's the list! Now the saddest and most interesting thing is - I didn't even include all of the nominations. It is that long. (can you believe so many good books are published in a year?) o.O But I did my best. That is another thing I absolutely love about YA. There is so much genre crossing and it is difficult to put a single label on them. I love it.

Hopefully you have found some new books to fall in love with! Go forth, and enjoy.

2010 Cybils Nomination Lists - Misc. Edition

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Jar of Hearts by Christina Perry.

The 2010 Cybils Nominations Lists - Misc. Edition.

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

What if you had only one day to live? What would you do? Who would you kiss? And how far would you go to save your own life?

Samantha Kingston has it all: the world's most crush-worthy boyfriend, three amazing best friends, and first pick of everything at Thomas Jefferson High—from the best table in the cafeteria to the choicest parking spot. Friday, February 12, should be just another day in her charmed life.

Instead, it turns out to be her last.

Then she gets a second chance. Seven chances, in fact. Reliving her last day during one miraculous week, she will untangle the mystery surrounding her death—and discover the true value of everything she is in danger of losing.

Bruiser by Neal Shusterman

Don't get me started on the Bruiser. He was voted "Most Likely to Get the Death Penalty" by the entire school. He's the kid no one knows, no one talks to, and everyone hears disturbing rumors about. So why is my sister, BrontË, dating him? One of these days she's going to take in the wrong stray dog, and it's not going to end well.

My brother has no right to talk about Brewster that way—no right to threaten him. There's a reason why Brewster can't have friends—why he can't care about too many people. Because when he cares about you, things start to happen. Impossible things that can't be explained. I know, because they're happening to me.

Award-winning author Neal Shusterman has crafted a chilling and unforgettable novel about the power of unconditional friendship, the complex gear workings of a family, and the sacrifices we endure for the people we love.

Chasing Brooklyn by Lisa Schroeder

Restless souls and empty hearts

Brooklyn can't sleep. Her boyfriend, Lucca, died only a year ago, and now her friend Gabe has just died of an overdose. Every time she closes her eyes, Gabe's ghost is there waiting for her. She has no idea what he wants or why it isn't Lucca visiting her dreams.

Nico can't stop. He's always running, trying to escape the pain of losing his brother, Lucca. But when Lucca's ghost begins leaving messages, telling Nico to help Brooklyn, emotions come crashing to the surface.

As the nightmares escalate and the messages become relentless, Nico reaches out to Brooklyn. But neither of them can admit that they're being haunted. Until they learn to let each other in, not one soul will be able to rest.

The Clearing by Heather Davis

In this bittersweet romance, two teens living decades apart form a bond that will change their lives forever.

Amy is drawn to the misty, mysterious clearing behind her Aunt Mae's place because it looks like the perfect place to hide from life. A place to block out the pain of her last relationship, to avoid the kids in her new town, to stop dwelling on what her future holds after high school. Then, she meets a boy lurking in the mist--Henry. Henry is different from any other guy Amy has ever known. And after several meetings in the clearing, she's starting to fall for him.

But Amy is stunned when she finds out just how different Henry really is. Because on his side of the clearing, it's still 1944. By some miracle, Henry and his family are stuck in the past, staving off the tragedy that will strike them in the future. Amy's crossing over to Henry's side brings him more happiness than he's ever known--but her presence also threatens to destroy his safe existence.

In The Clearing, author Heather Davis crafts a tender and poignant tale about falling in love, finding strength, and having the courage to make your own destiny--a perfect book to slip into and hide away for awhile.

Dark Goddess by Sarwat Chadda

Billi's back, and it seems like the Unholy just can't take a hint.

Still reeling from the death of her best friend, Kay, Billi's thrust back into action when the Templars are called to investigate werewolf activity. And these werewolves are like nothing Bilil's seen before.

They call themselves the Polenitsy - Man Killers. The ancient warrior women of Eastern Europe, supposedly wiped out centuries ago. But now they're out of hiding and on the hunt for a Spring Child -- an Oracle powerful enough to blow the volcano at Yellowstone -- precipitating a Fimbulwinter that will wipe out humankind for good.

The Templars follow the stolen Spring Child to Russia, and the only people there who can help are the Bogatyrs, a group of knights who may have gone to the dark side. To reclaim the Spring Child and save the world, Billi needs to earn the trust of Ivan Romanov, an arrogant young Bogatyr whose suspicious of people in general, and of Billi in particular.

Everlasting by Angie Frazier

Sailing aboard her father's ship is all seventeen-year-old Camille Rowen has ever wanted. But as a lady in 1855 San Francisco, her future is set: marry a man she doesn't love in order to preseve her social standing. On her last voyage before the wedding, Camille learns the mother she has always believed dead is in fact alive and in Australia. When their Sydney-bound ship goes down in a gale, and her father dies, Camille sets out to find her mother and a map in her possession - a map believed to lead to a stone that once belonged to the legendary civilization of the (cont'd)

(cont'd) immortals. The stone can do exactly what Camille wants most: bring someone back from the dead. Unfortunately, her father's adversary is also on the hunt for the stone, and she must race him to it. The only person Camille can depend on is Oscar - a handsome young sailor and her father's first mate - who is in love with Camille and whom she is inexplicably drawn to despite his low social standing and her pending wedding vows.

With an Australian card shark acting as their guide, Camille eludes murderous bushrangers, traverses dangerous highlands, evades a curse placed on the stone, and unravels the mystery behind her mother's disappearance sixteen years earlier. But when another death shakes her conviction to resurrect her father, Camille must choose what - and who - matters most.

The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May, and June by Robin Benway

I hugged my sisters and they fit against my sides like two jigsaw pieces that would never fit anywhere else. I couldn’t imagine ever letting them go again, like releasing them would be to surrender the best parts of myself.

Three sisters share a magical, unshakeable bond in this witty high-concept novel from the critically acclaimed author of Audrey, Wait! Around the time of their parents’ divorce, sisters April, May, and June recover special powers from childhood—powers that come in handy navigating the hell that is high school. Powers that help them cope with the hardest year of their lives. But could they have a greater purpose?

April, the oldest and a bit of a worrier, can see the future. Middle-child May can literally disappear. And baby June reads minds—everyone’s but her own. When April gets a vision of disaster, the girls come together to save the day and reconcile their strained family. They realize that no matter what happens, powers or no powers, they’ll always have each other.

Because there’s one thing stronger than magic: sisterhood.

Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King

Vera’s spent her whole life secretly in love with her best friend, Charlie Kahn. And over the years she’s kept a lot of his secrets. Even after he betrayed her. Even after he ruined everything.

So when Charlie dies in dark circumstances, Vera knows a lot more than anyone—the kids at school, his family, even the police. But will she emerge to clear his name? Does she even want to?

Edgy and gripping, Please Ignore Vera Dietz is an unforgettable novel: smart, funny, dramatic, and always surprising.

Swapped By a Kiss by Luisa Plaja

Rachel hates her life and everyone in it - she even has suspicions that her on/off boyfriend David might not be entirely trustworthy. However, when David invites her to a music festival in England featuring their friend's band, she jumps at the chance for an overseas adventure. Hoping to surprise David, Rachel arrives at the festival early, where she runs into a nasty surprise of her own - she sees David kissing their friend Jo. Distraught, Rachel runs off, wishing she could leave her life behind... the next thing she knows, she's back with David. But not as herself... She's now in Jo's body! Can she keep the swap a secret from David until she can work out exactly what's going on and get her revenge? Over the course of a very weird weekend, Rachel puts herself in someone else's shoes and finds that her own maybe weren't as uncomfortable as she'd always thought. But can she ever be herself again?

Tomorrow's Guardian by Richard Denning

When schoolboy Tom Oakley discovers he can transport himself through time, he draws the attention of evil men who seek to bend history to their will. Tom s family are obliterated and he soon faces an impossible choice: To save the world he must sacrifice his family.

The Water Seeker by Kimberly Willis Holt

Amos Kincaid is the son of a dowser – a person gifted in knowing how to “find” water deep in the ground. As a young person, Amos doesn’t reveal his gift to others; he’s not sure he wants the burden. But through his experiences growing up and crossing the Oregon Trail, Amos learns about life’s harsh realities, especially the pain in losing loved ones. As he cares for those around him, Amos comes to accept his dowsing fate. This epic novel is a fascinating period piece about the westward expansion and one man’s destiny as he searches for love and family.

Dark Goddess is a page-turning, action-packed sequel that spans continents, from England to the Russian underworld and back. This is an adventure of folklore and myth become darkly real. Of the world running out of time. And of Billi SanGreal, the only one who can save it.

2010 Cybils Nomination Lists - Humor and Darker Stories Edition

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): And the World Turned by The Gabe Dixon Band.

The 2010 Cybils Nominations Lists - Humor and Darker Stories Edition.


Alien Invasion and Other Inconveniences
by Brian Yansky

A polite race of telepathic killer aliens, a ten-second world conquest, and one teenage boy collide in this wry, gutsy adventure.

Jesse is in history class when a formidable, efficient race of aliens quietly takes over the earth in less time than it takes him to brush his teeth. Most humans simply fall asleep and never wake up. In moments, everyone Jesse knows and loves is gone, and he finds that he is now a slave to an inept alien leader. On the bright side, Jesse discovers he’s developing telepathic powers, and he’s not the only one. Soon he’s forging new friendships and feeling unexpectedly hopeful. When a mysterious girl appears in his dreams, talking about escaping, Jesse begins to think the aliens may not be invincible after all. But if Jesse and his friends succeed, is there anywhere left to go? Brian Yansky offers a funny, grim novel packed with everything boys and sci-fi fans love: aliens, humor, action, and a healthy dose of triumph.

Cloaked in Red by Vivian Vande Velde

So you think you know the story of Little Red Riding Hood, the girl with the unfortunate name and the inability to tell the difference between her grandmother and a member of a different species? Well, then, try your hand at answering these questions: Which character (not including Little Red herself) is the most fashion challenged? Who (not including the wolf) is the scariest? Who (not including Granny) is the most easily scared? Who is the strangest (notice we're not "not including" anyone, because they're all a little off.)? Who (no fair saying "the author") has stuffing for brains? Master storyteller Vivian Vande Velde crafts eight new stories involving one of the world's most beloved (and mixed-up) characters in literature. You may never look at fairy tales in quite the same way again.

The Deathday Letter by Shaun David Hutchinson

The clock is ticking?

Ollie can't be bothered to care about anything but girls until he gets his Deathday Letter and learns he's going to die in twenty-four hours. Bummer.

Ollie does what he does best: nothing. Then his best friend convinces him to live a little, and go after Ronnie, the girl who recently trampled his about-to-expire heart. Ollie turns to carloads of pudding and over-the-top declarations, but even playing the death card doesn't work. All he wants is to set things right with the girl of his dreams. It's now or never?.

I Shall Wear Midnight by Terry Prachett

It starts with whispers.

Then someone picks up a stone.

Finally, the fires begin.

When people turn on witches, the innocents suffer. . . .

Tiffany Aching has spent years studying with senior witches, and now she is on her own. As the witch of the Chalk, she performs the bits of witchcraft that aren’t sparkly, aren’t fun, don’t involve any kind of wand, and that people seldom ever hear about: She does the unglamorous work of caring for the needy.

But someone—or something—is igniting fear, inculcating dark thoughts and angry murmurs against witches. Aided by her tiny blue allies, the Wee Free Men, Tiffany must find the source of this unrest and defeat the evil at its root—before it takes her life. Because if Tiffany falls, the whole Chalk falls with her.

Chilling drama combines with laughout-loud humor and searing insight as beloved and bestselling author Terry Pratchett tells the high-stakes story of a young witch who stands in the gap between good and evil.

The Rise of Renegade X by Chelsea M. Campbell

Sixteen-year-old Damien Locke has a plan: major in messing with people at the local supervillain university and become a professional evil genius, just like his supervillain mom. But when he discovers the shameful secret she's been hiding all these years, that the one-night stand that spawned him was actually with a superhero, everything gets messed up. His father's too moral for his own good, so when he finds out Damien exists, he actually wants him to come live with him and his goody-goody superhero family. Damien gets shipped off to stay with them in their suburban hellhole, and he has only six weeks to prove he's not a hero in any way, or else he's stuck living with them for the rest of his life, or until he turns eighteen, whichever comes first.

To get out of this mess, Damien has to survive his dad's "flying lessons" that involve throwing him off the tallest building in the city--despite his nearly debilitating fear of heights--thwarting the eccentric teen scientist who insists she's his sidekick, and keeping his supervillain girlfriend from finding out the truth. But when Damien uncovers a dastardly plot to turn all the superheroes into mindless zombie slaves, a plan hatched by his own mom, he discovers he cares about his new family more than he thought. Now he has to choose: go back to his life of villainy and let his family become zombies, or stand up to his mom and become a real hero.


Curse of the Wendigo by Rick Yancy

While attempting to disprove that Homo vampiris, the vampire, could exist, Dr. Warthrop is asked by his former fiance to rescue her husband from the Wendigo, a creature that starves even as it gorges itself on human flesh, which has snatched him in the Canadian wilderness. Although Warthrop also considers the Wendigo to be fictitious, he relents and rescues her husband from death and starvation, and then sees the man transform into a Wendigo. Can the doctor and Will Henry hunt down the ultimate predator, who, like the legendary vampire, is neither living nor dead, whose hunger for human flesh is never satisfied? This second book in The Monstrumologist series explores the line between myth and reality, love and hate, genius and madness.

The Dead-Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan

Gabry lives a quiet life. As safe a life as is possible in a town trapped between a forest and the ocean, in a world teeming with the dead, who constantly hunger for those still living. She’s content on her side of the Barrier, happy to let her friends dream of the Dark City up the coast while she watches from the top of her lighthouse. But there are threats the Barrier cannot hold back. Threats like the secrets Gabry’s mother thought she left behind when she escaped from the Sisterhood and the Forest of Hands and Teeth. Like the cult of religious zealots who worship the dead. Like the stranger from the forest who seems to know Gabry. And suddenly, everything is changing. One reckless moment, and half of Gabry’s generation is dead, the other half imprisoned. Now Gabry only knows one thing: she must face the forest of her mother’s past in order to save herself and the one she loves.

Draw the Dark by Ilsa J. Bick

There are things in Winter, Wisconsin, folks just don't talk about. The murder way back in '45 is one. The near-suicide of a first-grade teacher is another. And then there is 17-year old Christian Cage. Christian's parents disappeared when he was a little boy, and ever since he's drawn and painted obsessively, trying desperately to remember his mother. The problem is Christian doesn't just draw his own memories. He can draw the thoughts of those around him. Confronted with fears and nightmares they'd rather avoid, people have a bad habit of dying. So it's no surprise that Christian isn't exactly popular. What no one expects is for Christian to meet Winter's last surviving Jew and uncover one more thing best forgotten--the day the Nazis came to town. Based on a little-known fact of the United States' involvement in World War II, Draw the Dark is a dark fantasy about reclaiming the forgotten past and the redeeming power of love.

Lure by Deborah Kerbel

A Victorian garden, a fishing lure, and a ghost named John …

Absolutely nothing is going right for Max Green. His parents have just uprooted their family from Vancouver to the bleak suburbs of Toronto, he has no friends, and everybody at his new high school is ignoring him. To make matters worse, he’s in love with an older girl who’s completely out of his league.

When Max discovers a local library rumoured to be haunted by ghosts, he’s immediately drawn to it. With the help of some cryptic messages, he begins to piece together the identity of the teenage ghost and the mysterious chain of events that have connected its spirit to the building for more than a century. But just who was John, anyway? Why has he chosen to contact Max? And what does an old fishing lure have to do with solving the mystery?

Picture the Dead by Adele Griffin and Lisa Brown

A ghost will find his way home.

Jennie Lovell's life is the very picture of love and loss. First she is orphaned and forced to live at the mercy of her stingy, indifferent relatives. Then her fiancé falls on the battlefield, leaving her heartbroken and alone. Jennie struggles to pick up the pieces of her shattered life, but is haunted by a mysterious figure that refuses to let her bury the past.

When Jennie forms an unlikely alliance with a spirit photographer, she begins to uncover secrets about the man she thought she loved. With her sanity on edge and her life in the balance, can Jennie expose the chilling truth before someone-or something-stops her?

Against the brutal, vivid backdrop of the American Civil War, Adele Griffin and Lisa Brown have created a spellbinding mystery where the living cannot always be trusted and death is not always the end.

The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff

Mackie Doyle is not one of us. Though he lives in the small town of Gentry, he comes from a world of tunnels and black murky water, a world of living dead girls ruled by a little tattooed princess. He is a Replacement, left in the crib of a human baby sixteen years ago. Now, because of fatal allergies to iron, blood, and consecrated ground, Mackie is fighting to survive in the human world.

Mackie would give anything to live among us, to practice on his bass or spend time with his crush, Tate. But when Tate's baby sister goes missing, Mackie is drawn irrevocably into the underworld of Gentry, known as Mayhem. He must face the dark creatures of the Slag Heaps and find his rightful place, in our world, or theirs.

Edward Scissorhands meets The Catcher in the Rye in this wildly imaginative and frighteningly beautiful horror novel about an unusual boy and his search for a place to belong.

Witchfinder: Dawn of the Demontide
by William Hussey

An ancient evil walks again. The first in a terrifying trilogy, read on if you dare.