Despite evidence to the contrary, I'm an honest person.

For serious. I am.

This is the face of someone who always tells the truth.

But there are a few subjects that I am . . . well, not dishonest about. But they certainly make me squirm, and I'm always quick to change the topic whenever they arise in conversation. I'm talking about novels, of course.

Or -- more precisely -- Novels I Haven't Read.

I imagine that everyone who considers themselves a great reader has a similar list. A list of books that, for whatever reason, they just haven't gotten to yet. Important books! Books they're sure to like! But books that have been set aside for other books again and again and again.

Against my better judgment, I'm coming clean. That's right. I'm publicly revealing MY SECRET LIST OF SHAME.

But before I reveal MY SECRET LIST OF SHAME, allow me a moment of explanation. As I'm easy to guilt by nature, there are many unread novels I feel bad about. Moby Dick always springs to mind. The only part I've read is Chapter 94, which is the same chapter anyone who has ever taken a class on GLBTQ literature has read.

I am, of course, referring to the sperm squeezing.

In case you're unfamiliar, allow me to enlighten you with this excerpt:

"Squeeze! squeeze! squeeze! all the morning long; I squeezed that sperm till I myself almost melted into it; I squeezed that sperm till a strange sort of insanity came over me; and I found myself unwittingly squeezing my co-laborers' hands in it, mistaking their hands for the gentle globules. Such an abounding, affectionate, friendly, loving feeling did this avocation beget; that at last I was continually squeezing their hands, and looking up into their eyes sentimentally; as much as to say . . . Come; let us squeeze hands all round; nay, let us all squeeze ourselves into each other; let us squeeze ourselves universally into the very milk and sperm of kindness. Would that I could keep squeezing that sperm for ever!"

Awesome, no? And it goes on forever! Much longer than that passage.

Anyway, as much as it makes me want to read Moby Dick (and it truly does), Moby Dick is, let's face it, A REALLY REALLY LONG BOOK. A really really long book about whaling. And every time I remember that -- the longevity and the whales -- it sinks a little lower on my "to-read" list.

But I'm not embarrassed about Moby Dick. Because I'm definitely not the only writer who hasn't read it. Did I mention it's really really long? And about whaling? (And other stuff, obviously, but mainly WHALING.)

Besides. I've seen the movie.

No, the books that embarrass me are the ones directly related to my field. Five young adult novels that everyone in my (admittedly smallish) industry circle seems to have read but me.

Okay, I lied.

These are the four young adult novels that everyone else has read, and the one classic novel that I can't even speak its name aloud because of the extreme humiliation factor. Because EVERYONE who loves my favorite kind of books -- kissing books! -- has read it.



Or not.

But why am I sharing my guilty secrets with you now? Because I'm tired of feeling ashamed every time these books are brought up in conversation. So I'm going to read them. This May.

And I know I could've done this without ever admitting to you that I hadn't read them in the first place, but . . . where's the fun in that? Besides, this way, maybe you'll share some of your dirty, non-read secrets too! In my comments perhaps, to make me feel better? Pretty please?

And maybe those of you who are feeling extra-bold can vow to read some of your shameful secrets this month too? I mean, think of it this way: May is the PERFECT month for a shameful bookfest. Because by the time the month is over, summer will officially be here, and then we'll feel scot-free to read as many vampire romance novels as we wish!


Ah hem. I am stalling.


Here they are on my nightstand, fresh from the library, awaiting to be read:

Mr. Tumnus tries to block my guiltiest secret of all.


(1) The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Vol. 1: The Pox Party by M.T. Anderson

Why? Because it won a billion awards. And already I own Volume 2. And how great is the title?

(2) Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

Why? Because she's a fantastic writer. (Fever 1793 was soooo good.) And this is required reading for, like, every high schooler now.

(3) The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Why? What? Of course I've read The Book Thief! How did it get on this list??? Ugh, this one is MAJORLY cringe-inducing to admit. You can pretend you don't see it here. I'm fine with that.

(4) Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

Why? Can I please stop explaining why? This is so humiliating. Everyone only says this is the coolest sci-fi series ever. That's all.

And (gulp) . . . my most SHAMEFUL SHAME of all . . .

(5) Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Why? I am going to go die now. Okay? Bye bye.


In Which the Plot Thickens (Pie Edition)

Remember when I found that lounge chair and beach towel underneath my tree? And my live-in celebrity boyfriend, Chris Martin, caught my aspiring celebrity boyfriend, Matthew MacFadyen, hiding in the daffodils?

Well. Matthew is back.


And . . . he's acquired a boogie board! And a mysterious red knapsack!

Because I Respect Others' Privacy (even if they don't respect my own), I didn't open the knapsack. I can only imagine what must be inside -- binoculars, GPS tracking devices, night vision goggles, cameras disguised like cigarette lighters, and, of course, Quaker Chewy Chocolate Chunk granola bars.

No stakeout is complete without granola bars.

Also, I had no idea Matthew was a Trekkie! That's serious dedication on his boogie board. Though, as I live several hours away from the ocean, I'm somewhat perplexed. Is the board for something innocent, like sledding down my roof? Or is it for something dangerous? Because I think he might be planning to use it as a battle shield.



Mysterious black fighting sticks!


Is this the face of a ninja?

I tried to warn my husband and Chris Martin, but they just rolled their eyes. Actually, Jarrod rolled his eyes, but Chris didn't even hear me. He just hunched further over my piano, trying to work out the kinks of this new song. He's trying to finish it before Thom Yorke arrives. Thom promised us a visit this April, and as the month is almost over, Chris has gotten paranoid.

CHRIS: Have you checked your email today? Your voice mail? The regular mail? Maybe we should call the airport, in case he arrived and got lost--

ME: He knows where we live.

CHRIS: Any texts?

ME: He'll come when he wants to come. You can't force Thom to do anything; you know that's a part of his charm.

CHRIS: [tinkering on piano again] What do you think about these chords? It doesn't sound too much like "Karma Police," does it?

It sounds exactly like "Karma Police."

CHRIS: [stops playing] Have you checked your email today?

JARROD: Yeah, after the last time you asked. [Points to piano keys] What about those instead, at that part after the bridge?

CHRIS: [plays] Ooo, that's lovely. What do you think about this--

ME: Did you two even hear what I said?! MR. DARCY IS A NINJA.

But they were already deep in musician mode, so I was forced to continue investigations alone. I went back outside to the abandoned weeping cherry tree. And there, underneath the knapsack, I made a new discovery.

A stack of cryptic messages.

A stack of cryptic messages about pie.

Pardon the quality of the following photographs. I had to take them all quickly and stealth-like:

Don't Banish the Pie!

ME: That's odd. I don't remember banishing the pie.

Pie! Love Pie!

Wait. Does Matthew love pie, or is he signing this message AS pie?

SAVE the Pie


Pie! Eat more Pie! Pie! I eat Pie! save the pie

ME: What?? Does he want to eat it or save it??? WHAT PIE?????

And then it hit me.

Pie = The Pie Maker.

Lee Pace is involved!

Innocent pie maker or ninja-in-training?

But if Lee Pace is the Pie, is he in danger? And if so, from whom? Matthew? Is Matthew trying to banish the Pie or save it? And whom are the message for? Each other? Jarrod and Chris?

Or me?


Reality Check. (Drat.)

Thank you to everyone -- EVERYONE -- who commented here (and on Facebook and Twitter) in the last week. You've made me so happy! I look forward to helping celebrate all of your good news.

Also, HUGE THANKS to Amy, Kiersten, Laini, and Natalie for sharing my news on THEIR blogs! I was so flattered and surprised. It never fails to amaze me: (A) How supportive the children's writing community is, and (B) How awesome my friends are.

And speaking of awesome friends and good news, major congratulations to Katie Anderson, winner of the logline contest on Query Tracker! Here's her winning pitch:

"When you look into someone's eyes, you see his soul, but when sixteen year old Emerson Taylor kisses their lips, she sees their pasts."


Ah hem. Moving on . . .

So it was bound to happen. But that didn't mean I expected it to happen this quickly. You know what I'm talking about.


Panic of the OH #$*%, I HAVE TO WRITE ANOTHER NOVEL variety. It hit me Tuesday, after hitching a ride on the tail of the EEK-I'M-GONNA-BE-PUBLISHED wave.

No. "Hit" is too kind a verb. It pretty much slammed me across the face like a sack of anvils.

I have to write another book, you guys.

And I want to. I really really want to. And I have a Fair Chunk already written. But . . . ANOTHER BOOK. Like, one that has a beginning, a middle, AND an end. Something that makes sense and makes people happy and makes people want to read another (a third!) novel by me.


How did I do it? The first time? How ON EARTH did I go from all of those lame embarrassing scenes and big ugly gaps to something worth reading? Something shiny and romantic? Something I was proud to put my name on? It seems too much, too BIG. Which makes me feel small.

But. I'm dealing.

How, you may ask? Why, the same way I always deal! By shamelessly begging my friends for help.

I offer proof in the form of a chat transcript.
It could have been from any day this week, as I've had the exact same conversation with Kiersten White over and over, again and again:

ILUVBOYS: I'm . . . frozen.

Stop thinking big picture, finished book. Write it the way you wrote the last one.


Scene by scene.

ILUVBOYS: Terrified.

One sentence at a time.

ILUVBOYS: Horrified.

You'll fix it later. It's just a draft.

ILUVBOYS: All of those other bad things that end with "fied."

No one will ever see this draft!


Stop chatting. Go upstairs. And write.






Stand up.


Feet. Stairs. Climb.


[long pause]

Will you do it for PRIZES?

[long pause]


So yeah. It took bribery. Can't say I'm proud, but how lucky am I to have someone willing to bribe me back into writing?! (Kiersten, I luffffff you.) And if you're wondering about my PRIZES they are SECRET and you'll just have to believe me that THEY WERE AWESOME.

Oh, fine.

Here's one prize. But don't say I never did anything for you.

Such extreme Scottishness that it CRASHED MY COMPUTER. Honestly! Halfway through, my Mac just . . . shut down. Which it never ever ever does. I think it fainted in ecstasy.

Speaking of, pardon the following tangent. Don't you love it when you re-discover a favorite song? This morning Pulp's "Like a Friend" played on my iPod, and I didn't even remember putting it on there! And it's so good.

That part, 1:43 minutes into it? INSANE.

Plus, Jarvis Cocker is an HBM in a total total for reals kinda way.

You're welcome.

[Stephanie digs out all of her Pulp albums and forgets about blogging.]


The Big One

Um . . . uh . . . something happened. Something BIG. Something BIG and LIFE-CHANGING and, um, BIG.

Something that’s rendered me speechless. Astounded. Dumbfounded.

Like this.

I’m going to be published.


Yesterday my AMAZING agent, Kate Schafer Testerman, and I accepted a two-book offer from Julie Strauss-Gabel at Dutton (Penguin).

That’s right. So not only am I going to be published, I AM GOING TO BE PUBLISHED TWICE.



And not only am I going to be published (TWICE!!!), I’m going to be working with JULIE STRAUSS-GABEL.


The last few weeks have been surreal. It’s like I’ve watched the entire situation as an outsider, peering over the shoulder of a friend and slapping her back with a hearty, “Good for you!” or “Way to go, kiddo!”

Because I was fortunate enough to have offers from two talented and kind editors. And though I’d be lucky (SO. LUCKY.) to have either of their guidance, I’m thrilled for the opportunity to work with Julie.

For my readers not in the industry, Julie is, basically, The Shizz.

Never-in-my-wildest-dreams did I think she’d even CONSIDER me. In fact, I had a major major major freakout when my agent told me where she’d sent my novel. [Me to my husband: “Is she kidding? Kate’s kidding, right? She sent MY manuscript? MINE?! To JULIE STRAUSS-GABEL???”]

Julie has edited several of my VERY FAVORITE novels, including Lauren Myracle’s Eleven, Twelve, and Thirteen (Judy Blume for a new generation!), the new and astonishing If I Stay by Gayle Forman (Just read this on the way home from Phoenix, and it’s the first book to move me to tears in years. Had to bolt into the wee teeny airplane bathroom to clean my face. Embarrassing, but so worth it), and -- AND -- John Green’s novels.

That’s right.

She’s John. Green’s. Editor.

You may recall, I’m somewhat of a fan. [Here and here.] Like, his novels have only COMPLETELY ROCKED MY WORLD. And he’s only, like, insanely quick to compliment Julie in every interview, acknowledgement, blog & vlog, and -- cough cough -- in his PRINTZ AWARD-ACCEPTING SPEECHES.

And, somehow, yesterday I accepted an offer from her.

Can this be real?

I am very fortunate, indeed.

And I’m shocked.

And . . . um . . . shocked.

Yeah. You could say I’m shocked, and that would be totally accurate.


So now would be an appropriate time to discuss First Novel. I’m notoriously paranoid about sharing details, not because I don’t love you or trust you (Because I do. You are awesome.) but because: (A) First Novel will change a LOT in the following months/years of editing, and (B) Did I mention I’m notoriously paranoid?

But I suppose I can at least share the title! Especially since, as some bloggers already know, my title has been public knowledge on Kate’s beautiful, brand-spanking-new website for an entire week. So you’ll find it here now too, added to the bottom of my old list:


(1) It is a young adult novel.

(2) Hopefully it has some funny bits.

(3) There is kissing. Of course.

(4) Most of it takes place in a foreign city. If you've been reading this blog closely, you already know what city that is. If you haven't, allow me to save you the bother of browsing my archives. It's Paris.

(5) There is an HBM. (Well, more like an HBM plus.)*

(6) It’s called Anna and the English French American Boy Masterpiece.**

* = For new readers, this stands for Hot British Man, something I’m particularly fond of.

** = For now. I looooove my long, silly title but I am perfectly aware that titles often change in the editing process. So we shall see.

Anyway. My mind is all over the place. Did I mention THE SHOCK?



So there’s been some of this going on:

And lots and lots of this:

And because this moment feels like the acceptance speech for My Dream Come True, forgive me while I indulge:

Thank you, Kate, for your hard work and endless support. And thank you – so much – to Julie for trusting me. I will try my best not to let either one of you down.

Enormous on-my-knees thanks to Paula. This would have never happened without you. Period. Thank you to Laini for eye-opening, enlightened advice and for a Very Special blog post. And thanks to Sumner and Kiersten, who allow me to pester them with annoying questions at strange hours and who always have kind words for me.

And, as always, my biggest thanks to Jarrod. I love you.

[Cue exit music and handsome, tuxedoed actor taking my elbow and escorting me offstage while – horrified – I realize, OMFG I forgot to thank my parents.]



In Which It Is My Humble Duty To Inform You...

that Cillian Murphy is in a short film called The Water, which can only be seen here for a week. (Though no doubt you'll find it elsewhere anyway.)

I'm generally not a fan of short films -- this one clocks in at fifteen minutes -- but that's probably because my exposure to them is so infrequent. But this is beautiful in a haunting, near-fairytale sort of way. And it features the lovely Feist, for extra coolness. I think it started as one of her music videos (for a song of the same name), but then got extended into something more.

But I wouldn't swear to that.

Also, here's a silly picture of Jarrod channeling his best Mr. Murphy.

Just because.

I love my husband! And that dude on the right.

In feature-length film news, Jarrod and I recently went with our cinema pals, Tai and Staci, to see Sunshine Cleaning. It was wonderful. We all agreed it was the best thing we'd seen in theaters so far this year.

Of course, there hasn't been much competition. (The first few months of releases in any year are bound to be lackluster, due to studios wanting to save their BIG PICTURES for the summer and their AWARD CONTENDERS for the winter.)

But Amy Adams? Emily Blunt? Alan Arkin?! Not to mention Mary Lynn Rajskub (Chloe on 24, Punch-Drunk Love) and Clifton Collins Jr. (Capote, Traffic).

It's being advertised as the new Little Miss Sunshine, but that's a bit inaccurate. Rather than a dark comedy, it's more of a drama with dark comedic moments. It's about two sisters who start a business that cleans up crime scenes. Any more and I'd spoil the fun. But if you like your movies on the dark side, I recommend it.

Also, Emily Blunt has blue streaks in her hair.

I'm just saying.

In other, far belated non-cinema news, this was my favorite April Fool's joke this year.

And to -- belatedly -- answer Katie's question from my comments regarding Twitter ("Okay now Perk, do you like it? I haven't caved yet. It seems like a waste of time to me."):

OHMYSTARS! Twitter is SO ADDICTING. I want to hug it and kiss it and marry it and change my name to Twiphanie Twerkins! I. LOVE. TWITTER! EEEKKKK!!!

Cough cough. Follow me here, if you wish.

Also . . . a major huge gigantic but humbled thanks to the soon-to-be-published author of The Body Finder, Kimberly Derting, for the blog award! I'm so honored. Thank you!

That is all. Hope you're having a swell day.


Yay for travel! (Big yay for home!)

Me, last week, not in North Carolina

If you read either Laini Taylor or Kiersten White's blogs, you already know I was out of town last week. I spent ten days in my hometown, Phoenix, and had a brief, mid-week road trip to San Diego.

Feeling quite exhausted.

The trip was so that I could be a bridesmaid in my friend Suzanna's wedding, but along the way, I squeezed in the following: Project Book Babe, a bachelorette party, The Phoenix Zoo, the Chihuly exhibit at the Desert Botanical Garden, Changing Hands bookstore, a road trip to California in which I visited Balboa Park and the beach and Elizabethan Desserts, and several games of Yahtzee with my friend Jamey and her family. I also read a large stack of novels and took three separate trips to Arlecchino Gelateria.

It was wonderful.

It was also tiring. Did I mention I'm exhausted? I'm used to hiding in my house, biding my time by refreshing my email and clipping my toenails. My body didn't know what to make of all of this go-go-go action. By the end of the week, I was propping my eyelids open with Q-tips and praying for feather beds.

I'm kind of a weenie when it comes to Doing Stuff.

But here are some of the highlights.

I started off at Project Book Babe. The charity event raised (something like) $80,000 to assist with the medical bills of Faith Hochhalter, who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. Faith has worked as a children's book buyer and a booking agent for authors at school events, and has been instrumental to the careers of many writers, including Stephenie Meyer. And it's thanks to Stephenie's kindness and generosity -- she donated several items for auction including an ARC of Twilight, old drafts of her novels, and the red prom dress she wore to the Eclipse party -- that the event was such a success.


Several of my favorite writers were there -- Stephenie, of course, as well as Shannon Hale (squee!) and Janette Rallison. Also, Dean Lorey (Nightmare Academy) attended, and I found out he wrote for FREAKING ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT. Eek! Now I have to read his novels.

But why was I there?

Because Laini was on the panel, too!

I'm sure you will have a difficult time spotting her.

The event was a blast, but no one could top Laini's pink-haired, pregnant-glowing glory. It was so nice to be able to see her again. (That's the thing about Internet friends, eh?) And for all of you who love her books and love her blog, it's true -- she's even cooler in person!

When Book Babe ended, I hopped back to my parents' house for a quick costume change. The next event? My friend Suzanna's bachelorette party. The party was 80s rocker/Jem themed. There aren't many people I would dress up as Roller Derby Rainbow Brite for, but Suz is definitely one of them.

Then the next morning, it was back to Tempe to pick up Laini. And in the following two days we talked writing and . . .

Went to the gelateria

Went to the zoo

Went to the Chihuly exhibit

Wore our new sunglasses at the Chihuly exhibit

Caught a butterfly at the Chihuly exhibit

Went for MORE GELATO, and discovered they were closed. The horror! So we checked out the colorful cakes at La Grande Orange Grocery (next door) instead.

Then it was off to the airport for Laini and off to California for me. Six hours of driving later, I arrived in the home of one Kiersten White. Woo hoo! Then we:

Practiced our eyebrow raises

Oogled the giant Moreton Bay Fig trees in Balboa Park (look at the people in the background for scale!)

Got blown away at the beach

AND ATE CUPCAKES! (Mango Lime Coconut)

This was the first time I'd met Kiersten in person, so now we're proud to have crossed the INTERNET FRIENDS stage into REAL-LIVE FRIENDS territory. Very exciting! I was so happy I was able to weasel in a trip to see her. And YES! She's as funny and adorable and awesome in person as she is on her blog. And her husband and kids were cute and so much fun that I kind of wanted to steal them to put on display.

I am not sure what kind of display. I'll get back to you on that.

Then it was back to Arizona and back to the wedding stuff. I had the great honor of being chauffeured from event to event by my friend, Jamey. Last autumn I went to Phoenix for HER wedding and was chauffeured around by Suzanna. Kind of amusing how this time it was the opposite!

Jamey: '60s Trivia Queen, specializing in all things British

In between the usual wedding brouhaha, such as rehearsals and manicures (blue nails for me, to match my hair!), we slipped in a few rounds of Yahtzee with Jamey's family. And I ate a dozen pickles and several bowls of popcorn.

You can never go wrong with pickles and popcorn.

And then, finally, just in time for the wedding . . .


The wedding was beautiful. The bride was retro stunning, the groom was all heart, and the bridesmaids carried gerbera daisies and Chinese parasols (mine were yellow). Then it was time to go home.

But not without one final stop.

For GELATO, of course!

Here Jarrod's hands are backwards-modeling Nutella and Vesuvio (something involving chocolate & Grand Marnier) on the left, and Mandarin and Valentino (pomegranate & lavender) on the right.

So yeah. That was my trip. Hope it wasn't too --

Wait. What's this?

There's one more picture??

Laini, our new BFF, and me



[Steph -- non-famous one -- faints.]


In Which A Peculiar Discovery Is Made Underneath My Cherry Tree

This was under my weeping cherry tree last week.

No. That is not my chair, nor is that my beach towel.

It surely belonged to my next-door neighbors -- a very sweet family with two young children -- but I LOVE that my tree was a spring fort for a day! Why didn't I think of spending the afternoon under the cherry blossoms?

Kids are so much smarter than adults.

Of course . . . there's a chance it wasn't the neighbor children at all. I'd like to think it was Matthew Macfadyen, camping out, waiting for me to come home from the grocery store.

It's still cold here. He had to dress for warmth.

MATTHEW: (thinking) She talks about me often enough. So why hasn't she asked me to become one of her boyfriends yet? Is it because she thinks I actually am Mr. Darcy? That I live in Regency Era England? Because that's only half-true!! And I'd move to the States in a heartbeat, if only she'd give me some kind of a sign -- oh God. Oh God, that's her car! Has she seen me? What was I thinking coming here and camping beneath her tree? She'll think I'm mad!!

MATTHEW topples out of plastic chair and races around side of house to hide.

MATTHEW: (whispers) I'll come back for you, darling. In a much, much less creepy fashion.

CHRIS MARTIN opens window and pops out head.

CHRIS: Oy! You there! What do you think you're doing?

MATTHEW: I . . . um . . . er . . . really like what you've done with your garden! Are those narcissus?

CHRIS: (suspiciously) Yes.

MATTHEW: Wonderful. They're really . . . splendid.

Saaaaay. You aren't that Macfadyen bloke, are you? Because the house is getting quite full, you know.

MATTHEW: NO. I mean yes! I mean --

CHRIS: Scat! Before I call the police!

I'll have to ask Chris if we've had any visitors lately. And here are the daffodils blooming in my front yard:

"Consider the daffodil. And while you're doing that, I'll be over here, looking through your stuff." -- Jack Handy

Happy spring, everyone! Go sit beneath the blossoms.


Recommended Reads: How to Talk to a Widower + Girlbomb

It's been awhile since I've talked about Books for Adults. I promise I read them too! Here are two I've recently enjoyed:

How to Talk to a Widower by Jonathan Tropper

Everyone -- both male and female -- I've recommend this to, liked it so much that they ended up reading all of his other books as well. It's just solidly good.

It's the story of Doug Parker, a young widower who isn't ready to let go of his grief. He drinks, he mopes, he seethes -- he should be COMPLETELY unlikeable. And yet. He's not. Doug's story is hilarious and bittersweet, and packed with the kind of fascinatingly strange-but-real supporting characters (a pregnant, potty-mouthed twin sister, a sullen, strangely-tattooed stepson) that any other novelist would be lucky to have one of.

The writing is smart. The subject is dark. The comedic timing is perfect.

Read this if you like: Intelligent, male-oriented humor. Basically, the guy equivalent of chicklit. (Which I have heard referred to as both "dudelit" and "dicklit" -- I'm sure you can guess which one I find more amusing.)

If you like this, read:
High Fidelity by Nick Hornby and A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers

Girlbomb: A Halfway Homeless Memoir by Janice Erlbaum

Ooo, I love nonfiction that reads like a novel, don't you? This memoir was impossible to put down.

Erlbaum left home at fifteen after her mother reunited with an abusive stepfather. She moved from a shelter to a group home, and struggled to find a balance between her school life and her new home life. And she fell into drinking and drugs and sex with boys who didn't care about her.

Sounds depressing, right?

But the thing is, unlike most addiction memoirs, I didn't find this book uncomfortable or -- even worse -- unlikable at all. I genuinely cared about Erlbaum. I loved her and rooted for her, and when it was all over, I looked her up online because I HAD to know what happened to her!

(She's fine. Doing quite well, actually.)

Read this if you like: Gritty, disturbing, page-turning memoirs.

If you like this, read:
Candy Girl: A Year in the Life of an Unlikely Stripper by Diablo Cody and Running with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs


Team Gale vs. Team Peeta

I realize I'm the last YA blogger on Earth to talk about The Hunger Games, but OHMYSTARS, HOW FRIGGING AMAZING WAS IT? I'm kicking myself for letting it sit on my to-read pile for so long! It made for the BEST reading day yesterday. I couldn't put it down.

For the handful of people who visit this blog who aren't as familiar with teen literature, this novel is a Big Deal right now. It's a Brave New World-esque story set in a North American dystopia, about a sixteen year-old girl sent to play in the nation's Hunger Games. The Games are played by two children from each district, for a total of twenty-four contestants. It is a televised fight to the death. There can only be one winner.

I'd only heard great things about this book. That the writing was superb and the action fast. That the characters were three-dimensional and the situation gripping. All of this is true.

But what no one -- no one -- told me, is that this novel also has KISSING!


Because had I known about the absolutely positively delicious love triangle tangled into the plot, I would have read this months ago! SO. GOOD.

So . . . I'm curious. For those of you who've already read the book: Are you Team Gale (best friend) or Team Peeta (tribute)?

'Cause I'm TOTALLY Team Gale.

Very curious to see where this is all going. Eek! I can't wait until the second book, Catching Fire comes out in September.

[Warning: There are spoilers in the comments!]