"All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us." —J. R. R. Tolkien

Monday, January 31, 2011


I'll admit it. I'm secretly in love with Carrie Ryan's books. When I read THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH, I actually wanted to live in a zombie-infested world.
Yeah, I know. Weird, right? Who is their right mind would want to live in a zombie-infested world (except for DAWN OF THE DEAD and the whole shopping mall thing, but that's for entirely different reasons).

In THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH, the writing drew me in, the characters drew me in, and the emotions had me dying to read the next book, THE DEAD-TOSSED WAVES. And then the next book. Which I did.

THE DARK AND HOLLOW PLACES by Carrie Ryan (Delacorte, March 22, 2011)

Fans of THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH, you will not be disappointed. Not only will you find out what happens to all the characters you love, but major stuff happens in this book. So major, the world shifts right in front of your eyes. Don't miss it! And if you haven't read THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH, there's no time like the present.

Source of ARC: From publisher by request

I'm not seeing a trailer yet for THE DARK AND HOLLOW PLACES, but here are the trailers for the first two books.



From Amazon:

There are many things that Annah would like to forget: the look on her sister's face when she and Elias left her behind in the Forest of Hands and Teeth, her first glimpse of the horde as they found their way to the Dark City, the sear of the barbed wire that would scar her for life. But most of all, Annah would like to forget the morning Elias left her for the Recruiters.

Annah's world stopped that day and she's been waiting for him to come home ever since. Without him, her life doesn't feel much different from that of the dead that roam the wasted city around her. Then she meets Catcher and everything feels alive again.

Except, Catcher has his own secrets -- dark, terrifying truths that link him to a past Annah's longed to forget, and to a future too deadly to consider. And now it's up to Annah -- can she continue to live in a world drenched in the blood of the living? Or is death the only escape from the Return's destruction?

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Five Soundrels in Cowtown

Or maybe we were Sweethearts. Some days I can't tell.

This past week five of the Texas Sweethearts and Scoundrels had a blast when we headed up to Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas for the ESC Region 11 Children's and Young Adult Book Roundup (aka The Cowtown Book Festival).

Five Sweethearts and Scoundrels in a row!
K. A. Holt, Jeanette Larson, Don Tate, PJ Hoover (me), and Jessica Lee Anderson

A bunch of the crew and supporting librarians

On the MG/YA panel...
Jason Henderson, PJ Hoover
(me), Jessica Lee Anderson, K. A. Holt, Jennifer Ziegler, and Clare Dunkle

On the picture book panel...
Jeanette Larson, Chris Barton, and Don Tate

Hanging in the hotel room the night before: Jessica Lee Anderson, Mark Mitchell, Jennifer Ziegler, Jeanette Larson, Don Tate, Clare Dunkle, PJ Hoover (me), Chris Barton, and K. A. Holt (with Brian Floca taking the picture)

Clare Dunkle and Jennifer Ziegler

Jason Henderson, author of Alex Van Helsing: Vampire Rising

James Crowley, author of STARFISH

Brian Floca, Chris Barton, and Avi

PJ Hoover (me), Jessica Lee Anderson, and Bonnie Barnes

There's something normalizing about knowing even Avi (who is so famous he can publish under only one name) doesn't have a rock star line at all times.

The Texas Sweethearts & Scoundrels would love to send a special thank you to Pat Anderson, owner of Texas Overlooked Books for sponsoring us!

Cowtown, we loved it! We'll see you again next year!

Our Night at the Museum!

I always mention in school visits that one of the coolest things about being the mom of a Cub Scout is we get to go on the best excursions. And as an author, there's nothing better than getting to sneak into these OSUM places which are normally behind closed doors.

So enter this past weekend when we drove to Dallas and slept overnight at the Museum of Science and Nature with the dinosaurs!

This is my favorite landmark ever when I'm driving.

Perhaps the biggest turtle in the world. We really hope our tortoises do not grow this big.

This reminds me of a scene in THE MUMMY.

We originally set up our sleeping gear right next to this beauty.

We've learned to be more prepared. Please note my Smurf pillow and my husband's Elmo pillow.

But then we discovered this "secret" exhibit space not being used, so we moved all our stuff and slept here.

The absolutely coolest part of the visit was the ELECTRIC THEATER. Why? Because Tesla Rocks! (That should really be a t-shirt.)

Hope you guys got out and did something fun this weekend! And I hope you brought your camera and notebook so you could record it, too!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

What Upcoming Books are you Most Looking Forward To?

I've been going on and on about what I've been reading and passing on ARCs I've loved, and every time I look, there are great new mentions of books coming out. I can hardly keep track!

So now it's your turn. You tell me:

What 2011 MG/YA books are you most looking forward to?

(And because I feel like every post needs a pic, I give you this! First sighting for me was yesterday on the drive back from the Dallas Librarians Conference, and I had to partake!)

DIVERGENT by Veronica Roth ARC Winner!

So cool to see as many other people excited about this book as I was! You guys will all love it (but sadly, there can be only one winner).
Thank you to everyone who entered!

The winner of an ARC of DIVERGENT by Veronica Roth (Katherine Tegen Books, May 3, 2011)



Check back for more reviews and giveaways!

And don't forget I'm also giving away an ARC of

THE VESTPERTINE by Saundra Mitchell (Harcourt Children's Books, March 7, 2011)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

100th Day and The Cowtown Book Festival

Hope you all have a great weekend! I'm driving up to Dallas today because tomorrow I'll be on a panel at the

If you happen to live in the Dallas area, please come by! I'm on a panel with Jessica Lee Anderson , K. A. Holt, Jennifer Ziegler, and Clare Dunkle. See you there!

Next week is the 100th day of school for the year. Kindergartners are supposed to put 100 things on a t-shirt and wear it to school to celebrate.
My son a few years ago ended up with a white t-shirt covered in blue feathers and googly eyes that all fell off everywhere. The t-shirt was a one-time deal.
This year, for my daughter, I/we got smarter. We designed the following and printed it up and ironed it on. Now we can keep it forever :) I kind of think I want one for myself.

(this all falls into the category of "I could be writing except I had to...")

(btw, she wanted skulls and a dragon. Her t-shirt. Her choice.)

the t-shirt ironed and ready to go

the design in closer detail

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


In case you think we're all serious and no fun, we pulled out stacks of manuscripts and studied them with magnifying lenses to determine what exactly had accumulated on the pages.

It's like a study of forensics, and we here at The Place (being K. A. Holt, Jessica Lee Anderson , E. Kristin Anderson, Madeline Smoot, Mari Mancusi, and sometimes member Jenny Ziegler) want to share the battle stories and good times our manuscripts have seen with you.

We give you The Top Ten Things Found on Any Manuscript:

1) Lots of red ink

This one is pretty obvious.

2) Coffee, tea, guacamole, salsa dribbles, etc.

Anyone else besides me have a full set of these?

3) Blood, tears
Might be from rejection, requests, or offers of acceptance

4) Signs of pets
A sleeping cat, who refuses to wake up so you can revise
Dog bite marks and slobber

For those of us like Data who write only on the computer

5) Scribbles from a kiddo
I sometimes think maybe I should just let the kids write the book.

6) Chocolate fingerprints
Please don't try to blame this one on the kiddo, too.

7) Random phone numbers with no names attached from when you answered the phone while you were editing

Who knows the source of the number?

8) Partial grocery list
And now you realize you not only have to finish revisions, but you still have to go grocery shopping. *sigh*

9) Sunblock grease, for when you were reading over your edits by the pool

Because, as Mari reminds us, there has to be some fun involved

10) Ideas for a new, way better book

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


All you fans of Libba Bray, Michelle Zink, and THE LUXE, this book is totally for you! It's the perfect combination of to-die-for romance (literally), physic abilities, and betrayal. I poured through it and enjoyed every word.

What did I love about it? The language, the setting, the romance, and the author's willingness to make things difficult for her character while still creating believable events. Highly recommended!

And now I get to pass it on to you! Up for giveaway this week is

THE VESTPERTINE by Saundra Mitchell (Harcourt Children's Books, March 7, 2011)

Curious what a VESPERTINE is? Check out this (always entertaining) video from the author Saundra Mitchell herself!

From Amazon:

It’s the summer of 1889, and Amelia van den Broek is new to Baltimore and eager to take in all the pleasures the city has to offer. But her gaiety is interrupted by disturbing, dreamlike visions she has only at sunset—visions that offer glimpses of the future. Soon, friends and strangers alike call on Amelia to hear her prophecies. However, a forbidden romance with Nathaniel, an artist, threatens the new life Amelia is building in Baltimore. This enigmatic young man is keeping secrets of his own—still, Amelia finds herself irrepressibly drawn to him.

When one of her darkest visions comes to pass, Amelia’s world is thrown into chaos. And those around her begin to wonder if she’s not the seer of dark portents, but the cause.

Source of ARC: From publisher by request

For your chance to win this ARC, all you need to do is:

1) Follow this blog
2) Comment on this blog post

For extra entries:

1) Blog about this contest and leave a comment telling me
2) Tweet about this contest and leave a comment telling me

And make sure you leave me a way to get in contact with you when you win!

The contest will run through midnight on Friday, February 4, 2011!


And don't forget I'm also giving away...

DIVERGENT by Veronica Roth (Katherine Tegen Books, May 3, 2011)

Monday, January 24, 2011

I'm on What's Your WIZLIT Today!

I'm so excited to be featured on What's Your WIZLIT today. And in case you can't guess what book* I'm talking up, then head over and check it out.

Thank you to Paige Britt for featuring me!

*Here's a hint: They are making a movie of this book soon, and I can't wait!


Austin is the best place to live because we have the coolest events. I'm sure of it. And this weekend was no exception because at story time at BookPeople (the best indie in the world), this darling book was featured.

written by Audrey Vernick, illustrated by Daniel Jennewein (Balzer & Bray, June 2010)

So the kids and I headed down there because
1) The book is perfect for my Kindergarten daughter
2) The illustrator Daniel Jennewein was in town ALL THE WAY FROM GERMANY
3) The illustrator is married to Lenore Appelhans the very cool book blogger from Presenting Lenore, and she was in town with him.

As a special treat, after Daniel read the book in his accent, he drew amazing pictures for each of the kids. They got to specify what they wanted, and look what he created. You know, people who can draw amaze me.

My daughter wanted an alligator.

My son wanted a pirate.

Daniel drawing

Daniel reading while Lenore holds up the book

I'd definitely recommend this picture book for the Pre-K and Kindergarten crowd. They'll love it so much that they'll insist on bringing it to school to share with their Kindergarten class (like my daughter did today).

From Amazon:

Your buffalo is growing up. He plays with friends. He shares his toys. He's smart! But is he ready for kindergarten? (And is kindergarten ready for him?)

Is Your Buffalo Ready for Kindergarten? is a hilarious look at first-day-of-school jitters from author Audrey Vernick and illustrator Daniel Jennewein.

Saturday, January 22, 2011


Thanks to everyone for entering to win these two awesome books! You guys are going to LOVE them!

The winner of an ARC of ENCLAVE by Ann Aguirre (Feiwel & Friends, April 12, 2011)




The winner of DOGSLED DREAMS by Terry Lynn Johnson (4RV Publishing LLC, December 2010)

is ...


Don't forget I'm also giving away

DIVERGENT by Veronica Roth (Katherine Tegen Books, May 3, 2011)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Fan Mail Love!

Seriously, this is what I love about doing school visits. I mean, when else will you ever get stuff this cool?

A to-do list and everything!

Talk about an ego-builder. I mean, wow, I'm awesome and I'm kind and I'm cool. And funny some, too :)

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

ROOM by Emma Donoghue

A book hasn't touched such an emotional cord with me in years. Ages. Even beyond LIFE OF PI emotions. I'm not sure what pushed me over the edge to read this one. I'm not the kind of reader who likes dark stories or stories that involve any kind of cruelty to children. And just to assuage the mothers out there, this is not a story about cruelty to children. It's really, really not.

But what it is is genius. The choice of using the five-year-old boy Jack as the point-of-view character sets this book apart from other abduction stories out there. It's brilliant, and I won't lie. I was in tears no less than ten times while reading this book.

ROOM by Emma Donoghue (Little, Brown, September 2010)

I had the joy of listening to this on Audible (if you don't do audio books, please start). These days, a normal audio book takes me three or four weeks to get through. ROOM took about three days. I could not stop listening. I listened while grocery shopping. I spent extra time cleaning the kitchen so I could listen. I was motivated to exercise so I could listen.

In short, if I'm not making myself clear, I highly recommend this book. (btw, it's an adult book, not a kid book.)

The book trailer for ROOM:

From Amazon:

To five-year-old Jack, Room is the entire world. It is where he was born and grew up; it's where he lives with his Ma as they learn and read and eat and sleep and play. At night, his Ma shuts him safely in the wardrobe, where he is meant to be asleep when Old Nick visits.

Room is home to Jack, but to Ma, it is the prison where Old Nick has held her captive for seven years. Through determination, ingenuity, and fierce motherly love, Ma has created a life for Jack. But she knows it's not enough...not for her or for him. She devises a bold escape plan, one that relies on her young son's bravery and a lot of luck. What she does not realize is just how unprepared she is for the plan to actually work.

Told entirely in the language of the energetic, pragmatic five-year-old Jack, ROOM is a celebration of resilience and the limitless bond between parent and child, a brilliantly executed novel about what it means to journey from one world to another.

Five Things about Working at the Library

Today is library day, meaning I volunteer for a couple hours at the elementary school library. In honor of that, I give you

(and make sure to read (5) because it's the most important)

1) When you are shelving books, never look at the ones that are turned backwards. They are almost certainly in the wrong place, turned that way because one of the kids didn't use a shelf marker. If you look, you're only creating more work for yourself.*

2) Two overdue books means a kid can't check out anything else. Unless they come up to the checkout counter with a copy of *my* book and big eyes and tell me how much they can't wait to read THE EMERALD TABLET. Then I let them check out.

3) I admit it. The first thing I do when I get there each week is check to see if my books have been checked out.

4) There is nothing like having a huge stack of books to shelve and realizing that they're all "easy-to-shelve" books, like graphic novels or Magic Tree House. These "easy-to-shelve" books have their own special shelf and never have to be placed in any order. So much better than having to worry about that Dewey Decimal stuff.

5) You think writing takes patience? You think you're the only one who hasn't gotten the big break? So shelve books in the library for a while. What you'll see are books by authors you know. But I'm not talking their *big* books. I'm talking you'll see books from 10 or 15 years before, maybe a picture book you've never heard of, or a non-fiction book that hardly ever gets checked out. These authors who you think are so big? Well, they've been at it for a while. They stuck with it. And it worked for them.

*okay, my OCD self can't leave these books be. I always have to pick them up. And yes, they are always shelved wrong.

Visit your library today!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

DIVERGENT by Veronica Roth ARC Giveaway!

So in case you missed it, I absolutely loved this book! It was such an edge-of-my-seat read (one of the best I read last year), and now I get to pass on my ARC to you guys!

Up for giveaway is an ARC of

DIVERGENT by Veronica Roth (Katherine Tegen Books, May 3, 2011)

From Amazon:

In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can’t have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them all, Tris must determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes exasperating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers unrest and growing conflict that threaten to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

Debut author Veronica Roth bursts onto the YA scene with the first book in the Divergent series—dystopian thrillers filled with electrifying decisions, heartbreaking betrayals, stunning consequences, and unexpected romance.

Source of ARC: From publisher at NCTE

For your chance to win this ARC, all you need to do is:

1) Follow this blog
2) Comment on this blog post

For extra entries:

1) Blog about this contest and leave a comment telling me
2) Tweet about this contest and leave a comment telling me

And make sure you leave me a way to get in contact with you when you win!

The contest will run through midnight on Friday, January 28, 2011!


And don't forget I'm also giving away...

an ARC of ENCLAVE by Ann Aguirre (Feiwel & Friends, April 12, 2011)

and DOGSLED DREAMS by Terry Lynn Johnson (4RV Publishing LLC, December 2010)


Huge thank you to all the old followers and all the new followers who entered the contest! I have to agree these are some of the best covers out there.

The winner of the ARCs of

FALLEN by Lauren Kate (Delacorte, 2009) and TORMENT by Lauren Kate (Delacorte, Sept 2010)



And don't forget I'm also giving away...

an ARC of ENCLAVE by Ann Aguirre (Feiwel & Friends, April 12, 2011)

and DOGSLED DREAMS by Terry Lynn Johnson (4RV Publishing LLC, December 2010)

Monday, January 17, 2011

Dear Teen Tricia

In case you guys haven't heard of "Dear Teen Me" started by E. Kristen Anderson and Miranda Kenneally, you should definitely check it out. The basis premise is simple. All sorts of authors write letters to their teen selves.
And guess what?
There is no better day than today, because today is my letter to my teen self. So head over and see the kinds of things I'm telling little PJ about her future.

Happy Monday!