This picture has absolutely nothing to do with this post. Jim Sturgess just looked all nice & jaunty. Also, he's lacked blog-time lately, and how else will people find me, if not through "Jim Sturgess Images" searches?

Isn't it weird how even though blogging is, like, this totally optional thing, you can still suffer hardcore guilt whenever you ignore it for a few days?

Or at least I do.

Guilt guilt guilt.

Feeling slightly bummed by my first real week back with Second Novel and discovering IT STILL HATES ME. We're working through our issues, but it's not easy or pleasant or even barely tolerable. Also, BEA (BookExpo America) is happening right now, so I'm a frumpy green monster of jealousy. 95% of my favorite authors are in attendance, whooping it up and collecting free books and exchanging blissful rainbow smiles made of candy.

And I am here. With Second Novel.

Who is mocking me and whispering evil taunts into my ear canal like, "You'll never be invited to BEA, because you have to conquer me first and you will NEVER conquer me because I AM INVINCIBLE and you are a WORTHLESS TADPOLE! SUCK ON THAT, CRAPNUGGET!!!"

Second Novel is really starting to tick me off.

And yet the only way to beat it is to spend more time with it. Which feels a little unfair. Sometimes I wish my occupational desires ran more along the lines of shrimp boat captain or wedding photographer or lion tamer.

But I digress.

And digress again. I love his hair.

So my Shameful Bookfest officially ends today. Which means I have only a few hours left to finish the The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Vol. 1: The Pox Party which, apart from having THE GREATEST TITLE IN RECORDED HUMAN HISTORY, is also INCREDIBLY CHALLENGING and therefore NOT THE BEST NOVEL to save until last.

I'm thinking perhaps I re-read too many princess books in between the novels on my self-imposed Required Reading List. The chances of me finishing this challenge on time are not looking positive.

Er, whoops?

But the awesome thing about Octavian Nothing is that it's set in Revolutionary Era Boston, which I've just learned tons about! Pretty sweet timing, no? (By the way, I still have lovely intentions to post about Boston/LeakyCon. My blogging skills just crumble once I get in Serious Writer Mode. It's difficult to do both at once. Or, maybe, I'm just lazy. You decide.)

But I'm digressing again. And . . . am TOTALLY ABOUT TO ONE-UP MYSELF:

I've watched that video waaaay too many times to admit to in a forum my husband reads.

Ah hem.

Jane Eyre! And Uglies! Which I READ! And loved! Both of them!


I've decided to discuss them in bullet points, because it's my blog, and I can do whatever I like.


• You were right! I should have read this years ago. I loved it. And I'm already looking forward to reading it again. And, you know, renting the movies. And reading the related books, like The Eyre Affair and Jenna Starborn and such.

• No, I am not obsessive. Why do you ask?

• Mr. Rochester is HOT. Hot hot HOT. Like, molten core boiling lava on burned toast hot. I knew he was supposed to be Mister Dark, Mysterious, and Brooding, so I expected that also meant silent. But he was a talker! And funny! A welcome surprise.

• Unfortunately, I already knew about The Thing In The Attic (it's hard to work with books and NOT know the secrets to classic novels), but I didn't know about the very end. So I was relieved to discover it was a happy one. I confess I much prefer happy endings with a true love that lasts forever and ever and ever, as opposed to those challenged by untimely death or lasting bitterness or stupid television plot devices that make characters CHEAT or BREAK UP just to keep the ball rolling. No! Give me kissing and endless devotion. I'm a sap like that. Bravo, Charlotte Brontë!

• Speaking of Charlotte, what do you guys think of her other novels? Should I read? Do they have happy endings? Or are they more Emily Wuthering Heights-ish?


• Whee! What fun! Why do I have to read Octavian Nothing? I want to read Pretties instead!

• Um, why can't I think of anything intelligent to say?

• Seriously, it's as if my brain has shut off.

• It's all, "JIMSTURGESS JIMSTURGESS JIMSTURGESS." Which is totally unhelpful.

• Oh drat. Just believe me when I say I really, really liked this book, okay? And I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the series.

So sad I can't read Pretties yet. And that Second Novel is such a butthole.

Have a wonderful afternoon, everyone. Happy reading!

(Anyone else watching the MTV Movie Awards tonight? I'm almost too embarrassed to admit it here, but whatever. I'm a sucker for an awards show.)


In Which I Return From LeakyCon Bearing Panda-Shaped Cups and Exhaustion

Just a quickie post while I recover my wits. I've spent the last several days in Boston indulging in amazing food, nerdy-awesome historical sites, antiquarian bookstores, and WIZARD ROCK.

In other words, yes. Jarrod and I went to LeakyCon! If you don't know what LeakyCon is, please allow John Green to briefly explain it in this video. You'll also hear my husband's band, Gred and Forge, playing "Ginny Gets Around" in the clip between Hank Green & Harry and the Potters. It's during the synchronized dancing bit:

But I shall have to wait to tell you more about this (and the panda-shaped cups) when my brain returns. In the meantime, I'll just say that our trip was very very very:

Jarrod's thumb agrees.

Also, I'm reading Jane Eyre right now for my Shameful Bookfest, and it's leaving me with a singular burning question:


Seriously, I've never read a nineteenth century novel with so much liplock!



Blackbringer is available in paperback!

Who are these fearsome (and -- cough -- fiercely attractive) individuals? I think they're in the Rathersting clan!

Laini Taylor’s first Dreamdark novel, Blackbringer, is finally out in paperback. Huzzah!

In case you haven’t read it, Blackbringer is the story of Magpie Windwitch, a devil-hunting faerie who lives with a clan of cheroot-smoking crows. They're my favorite type of heroes – tough, a little sketchy, and very funny. The novel is also packed with dragons, djinn, a scavenger imp named Batch Hangnail (I LOVE her names, don’t you?), and a particularly yummy warrior prince named Talon Rathersting.

Talon has tattoos and knitting needles, you guys.

Laini has a fantastic voice. The language and the world are exquisite and original, and there’s a brilliant element of horror woven throughout. And, of course, there’s a looovely blossoming romance. Happy sigh.

And – AND! – the novel is fortunate to be illustrated by Laini’s super-duper talented husband, Jim Di Bartolo. His illustrations are the perfect compliment to her text, tinged with the same blend of darkness and beauty. There’s one I’m particularly in love with, a picture of Magpie’s friend, Poppy Manygreen, and her gorgeous swallowtail butterfly wings. It makes the child inside of me ache with longing to be the beautiful Poppy!

So. Just in case anyone is wondering if I'm gushing simply because the fabulous, pink-haired Laini HAPPENS to be a dear friend of mine, allow me to point this out: Before I was her friend, I was a fangirl. (Proof.) We became friends because I loved her writing. So yes! You can believe me when I tell you to READ BLACKBRINGER.



And if you haven’t read it yet, now is the perfect time, because then you’ll be ready for the September release of her second Dreamdark novel, Silksinger.

(Yes, I’ve read it. And yes, it’s AMAAAAAZING.)

And – AND! – this October, Laini and Jim have another book coming out. It’s called Lips Touch, and it has three supernatural tales that all revolve around…


And now you know why I love her so much.

(Yes, I’ve read this one too. And it’s wonderful. And I’ll tell you all about it SOON but not TODAY because TODAY is about BLACKBRINGER. WHICH YOU SHOULD TOTALLY BUY. TODAY.)

In other awesome book news, Mindi Scott is getting published! Her novel, Scratching at the 8-Ball, was just bought by Pulse (Simon & Schuster), and she'll be working with her dream editor, Leisa Abrams. YAAAAAY!!!

I met Mindi at last year's Western Washington SCBWI conference, and ever since, we've been continually amazed as our lives have mirrored each other. Last January, we even accepted agent representation on the exact same day! (Maybe now we'll share a pub date? That would be so cool.)

So if you have a moment, head on over to Mindi's blog to congratulate her. It's a HUGE day for her. I'm so happy for you, Min!



It’s strange how a book about the power of words can strip me of my own. I finally finished Markus Zusak's The Book Thief, part of this month’s shameful bookfest. And it has left me, in a single word, devastated.

It took me much longer to read than anticipated. I’m an emotional person, and this particular subject matter is often too much for me to bear. I don’t think I’ll be able to talk about this very rationally, so I apologize in advance.

This book messed with me.

The author would, no doubt, be pleased to hear that. And, yes, it’s an excellent novel. Phenomenal. The voice and imagery and characters are original and exploding with life, and I think that’s the only way someone can take a familiar (or over-told) story such as this and make it fresh and exciting. There was also a curious mix of humor throughout the darkness that made it bearable, just enough, to continue until the end.

But there is a part of me, a very large part, that wishes I had left this novel alone.

For those unfamiliar with the story, The Book Thief is set in Nazi Germany. It tells the story of a young girl with a talent for thievery who is sent to live with a poor foster family. And it’s narrated by Death.

An exhausted Death.

I don’t want to spoil too much about the plot, but I’ll add that it also has: A boy with lemon hair, a Jewish fist fighter, a man with an accordion, a woman with a cardboard face, and unusually colorful skies (white-horse gray, pepper-streaked red).

I mentioned I’m emotional. What I really meant, is that I'm a crier. I can't help it; I've always been this way. But for whatever reason, I can count the number of books that have made me cry on my fingers. I’m not sure where the disconnect is – how I can be so passionately involved with something and still be able to put the necessary distance between it and myself (whereas I’m unable to do that in any other realm of media) – but it’s true. Books rarely move me to tears.

I blogged about one recently that made me cry, Gayle Foreman’s If I Stay. But those tears were a mixture of relief, sadness and happiness together. It was a release of emotion. It was positive.

The tears that The Book Thief stole from me were jagged and pained. Sobbing. Frequent. The idea that men can be so easily swayed into believing something so completely immoral, that they can do such horrible things to other humans -- and to believe it’s right – is bad enough. But then to see the few people fighting the injustice, in the smallest, most humane ways possible, and to then see them punished for it? This is what I cannot handle. To see kindness literally beaten to the ground.

When I finally reached the end of the novel, I jumped in the shower. A cleansing. And under the water, I cried further, and not just about the story. It was as if the novel pulled every single unpleasant thought that was hidden and buried in my unconscious and brought them to the surface of my mind.

Terrible ideas, finally laid out in words and sentences.

So . . . yes. If you haven’t read The Book Thief, it’s astonishing and brilliant and every other grand word I can throw at it. It deserved every literary medal it won and then some. (In particular, there is a gorgeous, heartbreaking fable towards the back end of the novel that is worth the medals alone.)

But do I wish I had read it?

I don’t know. I really don’t know.


I Could Only Hold Out For So Long

I wanted to be a daytime writer. Honestly, I did.

When I quit my job at the library, I had the best intentions to join the rest of the world. The night-sleepers. The plan was to write during my old library-work hours, so I'd have the nights free to be with my husband again.

We’re talking about eight hours! Eight hours of writing EVERY DAY! Imagine the progress that would be made!

I knew it wouldn’t be easy, not by a long shot. I’ve always been a night owl. My brain reaches peak creativity between 11 pm and 4 am. I wrote 95% of Anna and the EFABM during these hours, and 100% of everything in college. But I also know it’s possible to retrain your body. With practice, discipline, and patience, almost anything can be achieved. (And I don’t mean that in a cheesy you-can-do-it! way, I’m serious. Science has my back on that one.)

Unfortunately, I appear to lack all three of these qualities.


I’ve hinted/moaned about it here and on Twitter, but the facts are these:

(A) Progress is slow – painfully slow – on Second Novel.

(B) I’m too easily distracted during the day. (I blame you, Internet.)

(C) I am frustrated. And feeling guilty. And doing a lot of self-loathing.

I’m tired of sending out desperate emails to friends. When you have to examine your contacts list carefully to see whom you HAVEN’T complained to lately, it’s time to change. So after a long discussion with Jarrod last night, we decided to readjust my schedule. To do what my body wants to do anyway:

Sleep in. Fart around until dinner. Work. Go to bed just before sunrise.

I’m nervous and a little sad, but it’s the right decision. At least for now. And I love writing at night, I MISS writing at night! When the neighborhood is quiet and dark, and the only thing knocking about is my imagination.

I wish I were the type of person who could set an alarm and write in the early quiet hours of the day, but I’m not. I never have been. Alarm clocks and I have a very long, very ugly history. And there’s still a chance that once Second Novel is rolling again – when it finally has its own momentum – I can try the daytime thing again. But for now?

Once again, I belong to the night.

In unrelated news, My Celebrity Boyfriend Chris Martin's band is offering a free download of their fantastic new live album, LeftRightLeftRightLeft. I've heard a rumor it's only available today, but I don't think that's true. (Chris is napping, otherwise I'd ask.) Still. If you're interested, download it now, just in case! Or wait until their summer tour, because Coldplay is also giving away hardcopies to everyone who attends their shows.

'Cause they're nice like that. I like nice boys.

Speaking of, I just found out Ben Lee has a new album. YAY! My husband surprised me by bringing home The Rebirth of Venus on his lunch hour. (See how wonderful he is? Not only did Jarrod fully support the night-writing thing, but then he SURPRISED ME WITH MUSIC.) Ben's last few albums have given me mixed feelings, but he'll always have a special nook in my heart. If it weren't for him, Jarrod and I would have never met!

It all started with this song:

But the rest of that story is for another day.

In my last piece of music news, The Punktuations! -- my imaginary band with Her Royal Awesomeness Kiersten White -- is totally kicking the butt of our rival imaginary band, Carrie Harris and Natalie Whipple's Preliminary Merpire (Merpire = Mermaid + Vampire).

Because check it out: Kiersten SANG.

Take that Merpires!

Of course, my contributions to the rivalry have strictly been of the cheerleader variety (Rah rah rah Punktuations! Boooooo Merpires!), but I fully intend to join the fun someday soon. Soonish.

Once, you know, this whole noveling thing works out again.


Ta-co, Ta-co Man

I'm so in love with this cartoon Jace made of my husband. Tacos really do make him happy. Tacos make me happy too.

Man, I want a taco.

So last week I mentioned that I found a mysterious basket of flowers on my front door. Today I will tell you the story.


May 1st, mid-afternoon. STEPHANIE PERKINS returns home from the library, carrying a stack of novels with hot pink covers. She reaches for the front doorknob.


Stephanie scans her yard for Potential Celebrity Boyfriends. She is alone. She sets down the books and reaches out cautiously for something.

A closeup reveals an upside-down cone made from yellow construction paper. It hangs by a blue paper handle, and the words "Happy May day" are printed across it in a childish script. Inside are four pink carnations, a large yellow chrysanthemum, and a sprig of baby's breath.

Stephanie smiles. She sniffs the flowers, but is quickly jolted from her reverie when the door jerks open. Visiting Celebrity Boyfriend WEE JAMES MCAVOY grins triumphantly.

WEE JAMES: Ye missed it!

STEPHANIE: Are these from you?

WEE JAMES: I just creamed Chris on Super Mario Kart. We were on Rainbow Road, aye? And my Koopa Troopa totally ran his Yoshi off the -- whaassat?

STEPHANIE: It was hanging on the door. Just now. You didn't put it there, did you?


He is puzzled and slightly annoyed.

Wee James takes the basket and wiggles his wee index finger around inside. His eyes light with glee.


STEPHANIE: What? No! Give it back!

Wee James pulls out two Ghirardelli squares, one mint and one caramel, from below the flowers. Live-in Celebrity Boyfriend CHRIS MARTIN appears behind Wee James as if by magic.

CHRIS: Didsomeonesaychocolate?

: (pauses) No.

Someone left us flowers and chocolate for May Day.

CHRIS: They still do that?

: Aye flowers, but I was mistaken. Aboot the candies.

CHRIS: (points) HEY! Who's that?!

Stephanie and Wee James spin around. Chris snags the chocolate and sprints upstairs.

CHRIS: Wheeeeeeee!

Wee James thrusts the basket at Stephanie and chases after Chris. Stephanie ignores the boys and studies the flowers. She shuts the front door, but just before it closes completely, there's a flash across her yard. She yanks it back open.


She waits.

Still nothing. She shuts the door.

A man who looks suspiciously like MR. DARCY peers out from behind her car.



News, News, and More Cool News

To start things off on a happy note, giant huge congratulations are in order for two friends: Alexa (The Asheville Dilettante) just sold a short story, "Bad Matter," to the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. HUZZAH!! And L.K. Madigan just sold her second novel! And it's about MERMAIDS. Go Lisa!

In the oh-my-stars pleeeeeeease-be-true realm, did you hear the rumor that they're making a sequel to Clueless, in which our very favoritest '90s teen cast attends their high school reunion? (Thanks to the lovely Jane Austen Today for the head's up.) My fingers and toes are crossed that Hollywood makes. this. happen.

How great would Paul Rudd be? He's SO on a roll.

And in TV land, my favorite technicolor dream show, Pushing Daisies, has two good pieces of news! Um, no. It hasn't been resurrected.

BUT . . . starting May 30th (a Saturday, weird) the final three episodes will air, including a special ending which will help the series come to an effective close. YAAAAAY! And then it will continue --

In comic form! DC Comics is bringing back Ned, Chuck, Emerson, and Olive! Well, for at least twelve issues. They'll be fighting ZOMBIES this time, and creator Bryan Fuller is describing it as "The Pie-Maker versus 1,000 corpses." Sweet! And, obviously, I'd rather have more episodes or a movie (because of visuals like these):

but I'll take what I can get! I'm thrilled that fans (and Bryan Fuller) are fighting for these characters. If you've never watched the show, and you love romance and mystery and fairy tales and buildings shaped like cherry pies and matching outfits and detectives who knit, I highly highly highly recommend catching it on DVD. Season One is out now, and Season Two will be released this summer.

And speaking of shows in dire need of saving, tonight is the season finale of Dollhouse. It airs at 9:00/8:00 c, and if you have any inkling -- any at all -- that you might even CONSIDER watching this show in the future, please tune into FOX tonight! Once again, Joss Whedon is on the verge of cancellation.


Pleeeez save me.

Four more ways to help:

(1) Pre-order Season One (check!)

(2) Tweet to save Dollhouse (check!)

(3) Blog about it (check!)

(4) Email FOX to express your support for Season Two: askfox@fox.com

I haven't sent an email yet, so I'm off to do that now. Tune in tonight, everyone! (Even if, er, you just turn it on in the background. You don't even have to watch it. Though you should. Please! Just turn on your television.)

And have a wonderful, shiny, cookie-filled weekend.


In Which Steph Faints & Mind-Reading Space Monkeys Type This For Her

Yesterday was awesome.

Because . . .


That's right. THE QUEEN. HAS READ. MY BLOG. I am a very happy Stephanie. It wasn't by name or anything, but STILL. She mentioned me on this post, here:

"Here’s a completely cute Guide to Meg Cabot books (in case you know someone who doesn’t know where to start! I know there are a lot of books) that I discovered through one of the over 5,000 people I follow on Twitter! She’s so cute (although all the people I follow on Twitter are)!"

That's me! My blog! Me!

Happy fangirl sigh. My husband got a good laugh from this, because when I found out I'd been linked, I was sitting next to a pile of her books that I'd just finished re-reading. Seriously. Five of her novels were stacked beside me.

Meg and I also share these same pink sock monkey pajamas. Not that it means something. Or has anything to do with what I'm talking about. I'm just saying. She's cool.


I'm also excited because Jenny Han's new book, The Summer I Turned Pretty, was just released. I loved her first novel, Shug, which -- no surprise -- I picked up because Meg had blurbed it. Jenny's newest is the first in a YA trilogy. Here's the description from her website:

"Belly measures her life in summers. Everything good, everything magical happens between the months of June and August. Winters are simply a time to count the weeks until the next summer, a place away from the beach house, away from Susannah, and most importantly, away from Jeremiah and Conrad. They are the boys that Belly has known since her very first summer--they have been her brother figures, her crushes, and everything in between. But one summer, one terrible and wonderful summer, the more everything changes, the more it all ends up just the way it should have been all along."

Boys and crushes and summer! It sounds PERFECT. And Shug, which was middle grade, was so sweet and romantic and sad, that I know this one will be just as lovely.

Jenny Han is also way: (A) adorable and (B) nice. I emailed her a few years ago (after reading Shug, to tell her how much I enjoyed it), and she wrote me back the sweetest, kindest email. I love nice people. Don't you?


I've decided to reward myself. If I make this week's writing goals, I'm allowed to go to the bookstore and buy both The Summer I Turned Pretty and Meg Cabot's Being Nikki. Which was also just released, which is the sequel to the super-fab Airhead.

Yes, I bribe myself. Frequently. Don't you?

Of course, I still have four shameful novels left, but fitting in a few kissing books shouldn't be a problem. Kissing books are NEVER a problem. I always have time for a good love story!

I always have time for a good movie, too. Which is why I really really really want to go see Tokyo!, Adventureland, Star Trek, and Wolverine. (But that last one only if Jimbo -- my Unofficial Comic Book Movie Guinea Pig -- gives it thumbs up. Otherwise I'll wait and Netflix it.)

Tokyo! (Love the exclamation point.)

It's just . . . er . . . fitting in my actual novel-writing amidst all of this reading and watching. That's the tricky bit. I've been avoiding Second Novel a lot lately, as well as a discussion here about said avoidance of Second Novel. That's two avoidances in one! Which I'm not even going to correct today! Well. I won't talk about it here, but I am going to write.

Because I really want to buy those novels, you guys.

I also have an Interesting Story about a mysterious basket of flowers found on my front door. But that will have to wait for another day. Instead, I'm signing off this post by saying:



SHAMEFUL BOOKFEST ENTRY #1: Speak (plus a bonus Meg Cabot primer)

Thought I'd get a jump on my May reading list (aka MY SECRET LIST OF SHAME), and read one over the weekend. But how to choose between so many enticing titles? Pick a name from a hat? Chronological by publication date? Alphabetical by last name? By title?

Of course not. I chose via the highly technical School Assignment Method. Meaning, I read the easiest-looking one first.

HA! I am so mature.

Those of you who have already read Laurie Halse Anderson's Speak are already snortling at me for using the word "easy." Sure, it's a fast read. But easy? Um, no. Very very opposite of easy.

I hesitate to say too much about the plot for the sake of anyone who hasn't read it yet, though The Thing about Speak becomes pretty clear early on (and The Thing about Speak is revealed in nearly every Amazon review -- so avoid the reviews if you want to be surprised). But here's what I can say:

(A) It's the one of the most accurate, painful accounts of being an outsider in high school that I've ever read.

(B) It's about depression and being alone and that all-too-familiar feeling of being trapped in and by your own silence.

(C) It's GOOD. You should read it.

I'm thankful that so many teachers are assigning this novel in classrooms. I wish it had been written when I was in school. It's not exactly a secret that I was miserable in high school. And though high school still would have sucked -- 'tis the nature of the beast -- maybe this book would have helped a little.

And a little can sometimes be a lot.

But enough cryptic talk, on to the happy! Which is what I needed upon finishing Speak, which is why I followed it up by re-reading several Princess Diaries books.

I love Meg Cabot.

After my last post, a few of you mentioned you were interested in reading her, but were overwhelmed by the selection in your library. Which is understandable, as she's written approximately twenty bajillion novels (eighteen bajillion in young adult alone).

Thankfully, you left your comments in the blog of someone who practically has a degree in Meg Cabot! Someone who not only has read all twenty bajillion novels, but has read most of them more than once. It's like this:

Peanut Butter Fudge Ice Cream : my husband :: Meg Cabot : me

She writes my ultimate comfort novels -- hilarious, fast-paced, and romantic. She totally writes about cute boys, you guys. And I'm not talking about beefcakey jocks. No. She writes about the REAL cute boys. The smart, sarcastic ones who watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer and build robotic arms and play guitars and enjoy cooking and sci-fi novels and video games and watching the seals at the zoo.

(Have I mentioned lately how much I LOVE Meg? THANK YOU for making your heroes nerds!)

I heart nerds.

Anyway, you wanted to know what to read. Here are my suggestions:

The Princess Diaries series

-- Yes, it's a long series. So start with the first three (The Princess Diaries, Princess in the Spotlight, and Princess in Love), as they complete the first story arc.

-- If you like these and are interested in reading more, here are my thoughts on the rest of the series: The books that follow the first three are fun, but they're more like checking in with a good friend, seeing how she's doing. They're fun, but not high stakes plot. But. BUT! The final three are AMAZING. And the last book, Forever Princess, is the best in the entire series. So if you decide to keep reading, keep reading until the end.

-- Yes, these are books about a teenage princess. But Mia is not a PRINCESS-princess. She's a slightly neurotic, combat boots-wearing vegetarian with yield-sign shaped hair who loves Star Wars and has a crush on her best friend's older brother. His name is Michael Moscovitz. And he is ridiculously hot.

-- Meg makes a lot of pop culture references. Which I love, because I'm a pop culture junkie. But some of these references will feel out of date. That's okay. The books are still fun, don't let it distract you!

-- This series is much better and very different than the movies. And this comes from someone who adored the first movie. (The second movie, not so much. Because there was NO MICHAEL MOSCOVITZ. Which = pointless.)

The Mediator

-- A good choice for people who prefer their love stories with a paranormal bent. In other words, the hot boy is a ghost. And an insanely swoon-worthy one at that. Two big thumbs up for The Boy.

-- This series is six novels long, and you should start with Shadowland. It's kind of like The Princess Diaries in that the middle novels aren't quite as strong, but the ending (which is called Twilight, but it was published a year before the famous one, so it's totally allowed) is AWWWESOME and definitely worth waiting for.

A Few Other Suggestions

Jinx -- Stand-alone about a teen witch in NYC.

Nicola and the Viscount
& Victoria and the Rogue -- Regency-era romances for teens.

Queen of Babble series -- A cute, three-part adult series featuring a twenty-something blabbermouth who restores vintage dresses.

1-800 series -- Another YA paranormal series, about a girl struck by lightning who can find missing children. The first two are okay, but the last three are FANTASTIC. And The Boy in this series is also way hot. Just so you know.

And speaking of Meg Cabot, Being Nikki, the sequel to last year's fab Airhead, comes out tomorrow.

Woo hoo!