Thursday, July 30, 2009

Rock This! Thursday with Michelle Zink

Rock This! Thursday is a weekly feature which focuses on books that are centered around or are about another thing we love: music! (And once in a while a concert story, a song, or a band we think everyone should be listening to.)

This week we have author Michelle Zink with us to share some musical insight. Don't forget, her debut novel, Prophecy of the Sisters, will be hitting stores August 1st!

What are five songs we should be listening to right now?

-Guernica and Luca by Brand New (you HAVE to listen to their lyrics! the best in the industry, in my humble opinion!)

-A Rush of Blood to the Head and Lost by Coldplay (preferably the version with Jay-Z).

-Beautiful by Eminem.

Tell us the most guilty pleasure song or band you have on your iPod, MP3 player, etc.

I don't feel guilty about any of them! Music is art, and I need all kinds to be happy!

What was the first tape or CD you bought?

Oh, my God, this is going to be embarrassing! Probably something with Sean Cassidy when I was about six years old. I loved music enough to pay for it even then.

If you could hang out with one musician - living or dead - who would it be and why?

Gah! Just one?! Okay, Bono of U2. SUCH an interesting, enigmatic, intelligent, and caring human being, and a truly amazing singer/songwriter besides. Though Eminem would be a close second for his authenticity and the very real stories he has to tell.

What was the first concert you attended?

Fleetwood Mac. My mom took me when I was nine. It was one of the best nights of my life and was a huge push to my lifelong love of music. Plus, she bought the tickets when we really couldn't afford them because I wanted to go so badly. She surprised me with them, and it's one of the best memories of my childhood.

What is the one thing you love most about music?

It's ability to transcend time, place, age... everything. Much like a book, it takes you away to a different time and place while also having the ability to connect us to the deeper meaning in our own lives. It's as necessary as air!

Note: If you're an author who loves music and would like to be featured on Rock This! Thursday, just shoot us an email:


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Book Request(s)

I really need to kick my reading up a major notch because I keep stumbling across so many books that sound really, really good. I think these two are very drool-worthy:

The Naughty List by Suzanne Young
(Feburary 4th, 2010)

Junior class president Tessa Crimson is the captain of the Smitten Kittens—the Wildcats cheerleading squad. But when Washington High experiences a break-out of make-outs, Tessa and her girls create a secret snooping society to catch the cheaters in the act. The Naughty List. Is your boyfriend on it?

The Secret Year by Jennifer Hubbard
(January 7th, 2010)

Seventeen-year-old Colt has been sneaking out at night to meet Julia, a girl from an upper-class neighborhood unlike his own. They've never told anyone else about their relationship: not their family or friends, and especially not Julia's boyfriend. When Julia dies suddenly, Colt tries to cope with her death while pretending that he never even knew her. He discovers a journal she left behind. But he is not prepared for the truths he discovers about their intense relationship, nor to pay the price for the secrets he's kept.


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Review - City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
Book One in the Mortal Instrument Series

When fifteen-year-old Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder -- much less a murder committed by three teenagers covered with strange tattoos and brandishing bizarre weapons. Then the body disappears into thin air. It's hard to call the police when the murderers are invisible to everyone else and when there is nothing -- not even a smear of blood -- to show that a boy has died. Or was he a boy?

This is Clary's first meeting with the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons. It's also her first encounter with Jace, a Shadowhunter who looks a little like an angel and acts a lot like a jerk. Within twenty-four hours Clary is pulled into Jace's world with a vengeance, when her mother disappears and Clary herself is attacked by a demon. But why would demons be interested in ordinary mundanes like Clary and her mother? And how did Clary suddenly get the Sight? The Shadowhunters would like to know. . . .


I've heard a lot of different opinions on this series. I'll admit, the first time I picked this book up months and months ago, I just wasn't really interested in reading anything paranormal. I thought the writing was great, but it didn't really grab me. Here lately I've been reading of this genre. So I picked the book back up and started all over again. And I'm thankful that I did because I devoured it.

There are werewolves, warlocks, vampires, faeries, demons, and most importantly there are Shadowhunters. More importantly than that, there is a hot one named Jace. I'm sure most of you that have read this book and enjoyed it are probably swooning just by his name. (I know I still am!)

The characters in this story are great. There are so many of them whether they are main or minor ones, but they all work smoothly together. Sure Clary is a little reckless with decisions, but I really liked her. I felt as if I were right there along the way finding out this whole world with her. (Personally, I would have have ran the away way with my arms stretched out in the air in a mad scream if this was my life.) Luckily Clary does have her best friend Simon (who is quirky and hilarious) when she's prepared to do whatever it takes to save her mother. I loved how these two completely different sets of "people" and their worlds clashed together. The book is constantly moving in plot and dialogue. I personally loved the tiffs between Simon and Jace. And Isabelle and Alec's disapproval of mundanes.

Cassandra Clare has a wonderful imagination and has opened up a whole new world within this series. It doesn't matter what age you are. If you enjoy paranormal genre that has a great plot line, secrets, and excellent twists - you will want to pick this book up ASAP!


Sunday, July 26, 2009

Look At My New Book Bag!

I ran to Wal-Mart earlier to grab a few things, and I noticed something Johnny Depp out of the corner of my eye. Since I love me some Depp, I instantly ran to it and saw it was a bag. I thought hhmm...I should pick that up when I get paid this week. Then my sister ventured down an isle and yelled out, "Amber, look!"

Low and behold, the coolest bag EVER was hanging out on a hook:

And bonus, it was only twelve dollars! Now I'm off to finish reading City of Glass by Cassandra Clare - seriously, why didn't I read this series earlier? It rocks.


Thursday, July 23, 2009

Rock This! Thursday

The Vinyl Princess by Yvonne Prinz

Release Date: December 22, 2009

With a summer job at Bob & Bob Records in Berkeley, California, teen music junkie Allie is ready for anything. She’s poised to fall in love, catch a thief, and make a mix that’ll break your heart. And when she blogs as The Vinyl Princess, Allie is the sort of mystery girl you can’t resist tuning into. Get ready for the vinyl revolution!

Author Yvonne Prinz, cofounder of Amoeba Music, the world’s biggest independent music store chain, brings readers into the inspired, obsessive, irrepressible heart of a teen who is head-over-heels in love with music. Like a great record, this read will rock your soul and rattle your bones.

I saw this over at The Story Siren's To Pine For post. I've never read anything by this author before, but this book is just screaming Read Me Amber, Read Me!!

Who Wants to Win a Bookcase?

Yep, that's right, we're giving away a bookcase courtesy of

CSN specializes in a wide variety of Office Furniture. Instead of us picking out which one someone can win, we've decided to let you choose which suits your room/living room/office/etc the best!

Here's what you do to enter:

1. Click right here and browse the selection of bookcases. Choose ANY one you want with a retail value of 80 dollars or less.

2. Leave a comment saying which bookcase you picked and include your email address. Just so there is no confusion, you have to leave BOTH things in your entry or it will not count. If you do not feel comfortable leaving your info here, just shoot us an email:

For extra entries:

+2 for becoming a new follower

+5 for already being a follower prior to this post. (Thanks!)

+2 for each place you link this contest to. (Please post the links on here too.)

The contest will end August 13 at midnight central time. It is only open to those living in the United States. One winner will be chosen and will have 48 hours to contact us with their info. Thanks and good luck to all who enter!


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

In My Mailbox - Cheryl's Mailbox

I have been MIA for some time now, and I'm trying to catch up to the blogging world. :/ These following books came within a weeks time. Some are from authors and the rest are from contests I won.

In Too Deep

If you don't belong here— you just don't belong...The Bramford building's newest resident and small-town transplant Casey McCloy is adapting to life in the Big Apple and loving it. She's got the look, the attitude, and a delish new boyfriend, Drew Van Allen. But she's starting to have second thoughts as to whether the "New York" Casey is the real Casey. And she's not so sure she likes herself much anymore. She's not the only one.

Madison Macallister has always had her Manolo Blahniks firmly planted on the top rung of the social ladder—until that corn-fed cow Casey stole Drew away from her and made her look the fool. So what if Madison wasn't exactly dating Drew at the time? She wanted him. And everyone knows that Madison gets what she wants, like Drew—and a little revenge.


The Kahill vampire clan has lived among humans for hundreds of years in Delaware's peaceful village of Clare Point. In Undying, V.K. Forrest introduces readers to Arlan, a fierce member of the clan who must fight his desire for a love most forbidden.


As part of the Kahill clan's special operations "kill team," Arlan is devoted to ridding the world of its most depraved human members. He's been asked by fellow clan member and FBI Agent Fia Kahill to assist in one of her investigations: the notorious Buried Alive Killer case. Arlan agrees to meet with one of Fia's key informants, Macy Smith, but he's completely unprepared for his response to the young woman. Blond, petite, and achingly beautiful, Macy is everything Arlan could want in a woman-and it's clear the attraction is mutual. Although Arlan once vowed he would never again let himself fall in love with a human being, he surrenders to his overpowering desire for Macy.

Soon, Arlan and Macy keep mysteriously crossing one another's paths, even in Clare Point. In Macy, Arlan can sense a loneliness that reminds him of his own and a vulnerability that tugs at his soul. But Macy is a drifter with a past far darker than even Arlan can imagine. And when the Buried Alive Killer strikes again, he learns that Macy has a deep connection to the case-one that will put her in the crosshairs of the killer if Arlan can't find a way to protect her.

Stealing Margo

When Margo Capolini is abducted to West Virginia by a fan who hears secret messages in her song lyrics, she is plunged back into her unfinished life as an 80's singer- a stormy world of rock music, insatiable characters, and a daughter she has never known. Stealing Margo will quicken your pulse, keep you wondering, and never let you know what's next. If you can relate to a strong-willed character who faces adversity and adventure the way you would, Stealing Margo is for you. Author Chad Peery draws from his Steppenwolf years to paint notably vivid music scenes and pack powerful emotions into "Stealing Margo."

Two Years, No Rain

An earnest journey from heartache to heartthrob and all the emotions along the way; at once an old-fashioned love story and a cautionary tale of self-reinvention.

In San Diego County, it hasn’t rained in 580 days. But for weatherman Andy Dunne, everything else is changing fast…Only a few weeks ago, he was a newly divorced, slightly overweight meteorologist for an obscure satellite radio station, hiding his secret love for a colleague, the beautiful—and very much married—Hillary Hsing. But nearly overnight, Andy has landed a new gig, flying a magic carpet in a bizarre live-action children’s TV show. So what is affable, basically decent Andy Dunne going to do now that he can do practically anything he wants? With a parade of hot moms begging for his autograph and a family that needs his help more than ever, Andy has a lot of choices. First, though, there’s this thing with Hillary, their heated text messages, a long-awaited forecast for rain – and a few other surprises he never saw coming…


When Kori Kitlzer, the “dark angel” of the 8th grade, tells Serena Moore that they are more alike than she thinks, Serena is instantly intrigued. As their friendship solidifies and their lives entwine, Serena tries to become more like the fearless, outspoken, and ambitious Kori. Soon Serena doesn’t know where she begins and Kori ends. But when a twist of fate yanks Kori away from Serena, she will need to find a way to complete her best friend’s life left undone.

Undone is a striking debut novel about friendship, family, and the secrets we keep from the people to whom we are closest.

I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti

In the early '90s, Giulia Melucci moved out of the Brooklyn home where she was raised full of romantic hopes and her mother's excellent Italian cooking. She dreamed of finding the perfect guy, but fresh ingredients were scarce. After nearly twenty years of New York City dating she had nothing more than a slew of broken relationships under her belt. Well, that and a heap of delicious recipes, which she shares along with stories of her doomed amorous adventures.

An affectionate alcoholic, a classic New York City commitment-phobe, a hipster aged well past his sell date, and not one but two novelists with Peter Pan complexes - no matter what their fatal flaw, Giulia has cooked for them. She suffers each disappointment with resolute cheer (after a good cry) and a bowl of pastina (recipe included), and has lived to tell the tale so that other women may find a better recipe for love - or at least go to bed with something good to eat.

You will laugh along with Giulia as she manages to find the lighter side of each disappointment as you swoon over her irresistible culinary creations. Mix one part humor, a dash of sarcasm, and lots of heart - then devour this story of a woman looking everywhere for love . . . and finding it on the stove.


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Hollow Book Trailer

I have been anticipating the release for The Hollow even before I started this blog. When Jessica released the first chapter, I was so sad I wasn't able to turn the page.

Now, there's a trailer. Enjoy!

I'm staring at my calendar thinking it's still too far away. I have a feeling it will be well worth the wait though.



This is kind of an odd post I'm doing, but I thought what better place to get some suggestions from. So here it is. Does anyone know any books (can be fiction or non-fiction), movies, or websites that focus on the following:

  • Angels
  • Myths and Folklore (I barely know anything on the subject so I'm up for whatever.)
  • Southern Belles
  • Charm Schools
  • The 60's
  • Also how life would be in America around the late 1800's and very early 1900's. (More looking at movies for this one.)

I know this is huge range of things I'm asking, but I'm really just looking for anything right now. So whatever comes to mind, please share!



Happy Release Day Stephanie!

Today is the official release of Stephanie Kuehnert's second novel, Ballads of Suburbia. Chea!! *throws streamers around*
I was lucky enough to win an ARC in a contest from her and read it last month. And my own finished copy arrived two days ago. Whoot! You can read my rambling review here or I can sum it up in four words for you:

Amazing. Powerful. Must Read.

You can also check out an interview I held with Stephanie here and her music interview here.

If for some crazy reason you didn't run out to the bookstore and pick up a copy of Ballads, our giveaway is going on until midnight tonight. So click here and enter for a chance to win!


Monday, July 20, 2009

Reivew - Blue Moon by Alyson Noel

Blue Moon by Alyson Noel

Release Date: July 7, 2009
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Pages: 284

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Just as Ever is learning everything she can about her new abilities as an immortal, initiated into the dark, seductive world by her beloved Damen, something terrible is happening to him. As Ever's powers are increasing, Damen's are fading, stricken by a mysterious illness that threatens his memory, his identity, his life.

Desperate to save him, Ever travels to the mystical dimension of Summerland, uncovering not only the secrets of Damen's past- the brutal, tortured history he hoped to keep hidden- but also an ancient text revealing the workings of time. With the approaching blue moon heralding her only window for travel, Ever is forced to decide between turning back the clock and saving her family from the accident that claimed them, or staying in the present and saving Damen, who grows weaker each day...


The beginning of the book had me thinking I wouldn't like it. The only thing really going on was Ever and Damen touching, talking, Ever thinking Damn was hot, and me still not liking him that much. Right when I thought it might be a lost cause, things started to pick up, and I found myself being pleasantly surprised.

Alyson Noel does a great job of building up the plot and having a mystery hang around. I wasn't for sure what was going to happen next with everyone around Ever doing a 180. First Damen starts getting sick then he starts acting like a jerkface and Ever is growing like the Jolly Green Giant - the book is constantly in motion.

My favorite parts of this book were Ever's trips Summerland. The whole idea of this place and the new characters that pop up such as Romy and Rayne, and all the things that she learns about her new powers - it kept me glued. And I forgot to mention this in the first book, but I love Riley. She is possibly one of the perfect little sisters out there. I love her spunk and her witty little comebacks. She plays a wonderful supporting side character to Ever. Also Miles still delivers the best laughs of them all.

I was pretty wishy-washy on Evermore, but Blue Moon has definitely made me more of a fan of the series. The ending was still another rush-rush one, and there were a few spots in the book that had me going uh..what?! But I'm curious of what new boy Roman (who desperately needs a sock stuck in his mouth) will be doing in the next book. And of course what is going to happen between Ever and Damen. (He grew on me a little more, not completely sold, but hey - there's always Shawdowland.)


Sunday, July 19, 2009

Review - Evermore by Alyson Noel

Evermore by Alyson Noel

Released: Feb 2009
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Since a horrible accident claimed the lives of her family, sixteen-year-old Ever can see auras, hear people’s thoughts, and know a person’s life story by touch. Going out of her way to shield herself from human contact to suppress her abilities has branded her as a freak at her new high school—but everything changes when she meets Damen Auguste…

Ever sees Damen and feels an instant recognition. He is gorgeous, exotic and wealthy, and he holds many secrets. Damen is able to make things appear and disappear, he always seems to know what she’s thinking—and he’s the only one who can silence the noise and the random energy in her head. She doesn’t know who he really is—or what he is. Damen equal parts light and darkness, and he belongs to an enchanted new world where no one ever dies.

The main character, Ever, was a likable girl who has some aspects I think some people will be able to relate to. Even if she does have the whole ability to read minds and see people's auras - which I found very interesting and liked how the book just jumped right into things and let the back story come to life as you read.

Ever's two friends, Miles and Haven were enjoyable as side characters. My only thing is that I think Miles was a little too stereotypical. But he did bring a lot of comical parts to the book that had me cracking up at times. Then there's Damen who is hot, no denying it, but I wasn't really feeling him at the beginning. A part of me did wish Ever would backhand him at times. But what really held my interest was the biggest question of the book. What was he? Was he a vampire? Or some stalker magician who has the ability to swoon every time he walked into a room? As the story unfolded he gained some brownie points, but I'm still not completely loving him. There are three more books in the series, so ya never know, I might change my mind.

I liked the idea of story, enjoyed most of the characters, the build up of the mystery behind it was good...but I felt as it it were a little too rushed towards the end. Overall I wasn't completely blown away with it, but I did like it. I would recommend it for those that are looking for a very free flowing fast read.


Friday, July 17, 2009

Rock This! Thursday Review - Ballads of Suburbia

Ballads of Suburbia by Stephanie Kuehernt

Release Date: July 21, 2009
Publisher: MTV Books
Pages: 368

Kara hasn't been back to Oak Park since the end of junior year, when a heroin overdose nearly killed her and sirens heralded her exit. Four years later, she returns to face the music. Her life changed forever back in high school: her family disintegrated, she ran around with a whole new crowd of friends, she partied a little too hard, and she fell in love with gorgeous bad-boy Adrian, who left her to die that day in Scoville Park....

Amid the music, the booze, the drugs, and the drama, her friends filled a notebook with heartbreakingly honest confessions of the moments that defined and shattered their young lives. Now, finally, Kara is ready to write her own.


Kara a character I easily saw myself through and at the same time saw many of my friends in as well. When she arrives at high school without her best friend, Stacey, there's one question: Where does she fit in? While she's content with hanging out with her younger brother, Liam, you know she wants something more. And soon she's making friends again and ends up at Scoville Park.

In high school, things change. We all know that. Most of the time by the graduation, you possibly have friends you didn't have when you first walked into the building. I think this book does a great job of covering a high school experience. Over the courses of chapters, you see Kara change. Sometimes for the better and sometimes not so much at all. From how she acts when she's at home to how she acts when she's around a certain crowd. How she deals with her parents fighting or things that happen to her. And how a choice can easily change things within the matter of seconds.

It's not just Kara's story you get to hear. Throughout the book you get to take a glimpse of her friends' lives through their written out 'ballads'. What I enjoyed and what I think made the really made the characters was this. You hear from Stacey (who was one of my favorites to read about), Cass, Adrian (character crush alert! damn those bad boys...), Christian, Liam, and Maya. It gave me a better understanding of who they were, and why they acted the way they did. (Though how I view Christian is still very rocky, but I think that's just how it's supposed to be.) It was as if I stumbled upon the notebook myself while reading them. Each party Kara is taken to or a concert or any event she does, I felt as if I were right there.

This book really does have it all. Relationships with friends and family. Times were you'll find yourself laughing and other times worried about the people that are in it. What will happen with the choices they make? Will Kara be okay? I think there couldn't have been a better ending for this.

Stephanie Kuehnert captivated a voice I would have loved to read when I was in high school. No, scratch that. A voice I needed and wanted to hear back then. But I'm glad something like this is out there for now for other teens to be able to read. The issues in this book are heavy. I think some people might shy away from this, but even if it's not your normal type of read, I hope you'll still pick it up and give it a shot. It definitely deserves it.


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Book Request

I've been a lazy blogger. I have about four books I need to write reviews for, but until I do that, I'll do this instead.

I saw this over at Amy's blog and immediately went Ooooo!

WTF by Peter Lerangis

Release Date: November 10, 2009

Two parties, six alternating points of view, and three letters that says it all--WTF!


Not much of a description, but with that cover (it made me think of the movie GO for some reason), and 6 different point of views to read from - I'm pretty much sold.


Thursday, July 9, 2009

Rock This! Thursday with Stephanie Kuehnert

Rock This! Thursday is a weekly feature that focuses on books that are centered around or are about another thing we love: music! (And once in a while a concert story, a song, or a band we think everyone should be listening too.)

This week we have Stephanie Kuehnert (author of I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone and Ballads of Suburbia) to give out her music suggestions and answer a few more questions.

Five songs we should be listening to right now:

I really don't know if I can do songs. I have to do entire albums. I'll name my favorite tracks though.

-Hell Hath No Fury by Civet in my opinion is one of the best albums to come out in years. They are in my top five favorite bands. The other favorite bands are Nirvana, Hole, Social D and Rancid. Bands I discovered in the early 90s when I was like 13. What that means is that no one has impressed me as much as Civet has in the past 17 years. Stand out track: "Son of A Bitch"

-Siren Song of the Counter Culture by Rise Against. The frat boys have discovered Rise Against now, which disturbs me because they just don't get it. But you can bet that those frat boys won't bother to check out RA's older stuff and this in my opinion is their best album. "Swing Life Away" is my favorite track, even though it's acoustic and not at all like the other songs. It's just ohhhhhh

-Let the Dominoes Fall by Rancid. And Out Come The Wolves will always be my favorite Rancid album. I love them, but nothing they've done since has lived up to that album for me... until now. This new album is freakin' amazing. "New Orleans" is my favorite song right now.

-The '59 Sound by The Gaslight Anthem. I just discovered these guys late last year and am totally addicted to them, especially the title track.

-Anything by Johnny Cash. Anything at all. If you haven't discovered him yet, you need to. You should listen to him while reading Ballads of Suburbia. Especially his cover of the song "Hurt" originally done by Nine Inch Nails.

If you could hang out with one musician - living or dead - who would it be and why?

Kurt Cobain. I've loved Nirvana since I was 12. Their music opened so many doors for me. I discovered so many bands, gained confidence in myself. And I will always admire Kurt as an artist in such a huge way. I think he'd be very interesting to talk to.

Most guilty pleasure song or band you have on your iPod, MP3 player, etc.

I don't have guilty pleasures because I don't feel guilty about anything I like. Maybe I'd lose punk rock points for loving Pink, but she's got a great voice and she's way too much fun and unlike the other pop stuff, she is totally her own woman and she doesn't seem to give a damn what anyone thinks, so as a feminist I totally respect her. On the other hand, my love for 80s hair rock like GNR and Poison conflicts with my feminist beliefs, but GNR just rocks and Poison is just cheesy fun. And I'm sure I'd get mocked for liking bands like Matchbox 20 and the Gin Blossoms, but both bands sing about situations that remind me of situations I've been in with bad boys, but instead of the boy hurting me, in the song the girl has left the boy and I just get some perverse pleasure out of that. That Matchbox 20 song where the boy just gets left by the girl on the highway? Total catharsis.

First tape or CD you bought:

Hmm that I bought with my own money? It was definitely Madonna, but I'm not sure if it was True Blue or Like A Prayer.

What is the one thing you love most about music?

That I can find a song that reflects everything I've been through, every emotion I've felt. There's a song out there for every mood and every moment. It's the perfect release.

Don't forget to click the link onthe sidebar ---> to win a copy of Ballads of Suburbia. (I even added an extra entry.)


Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Book Request

The Unwritten Rule by Elizabeth Scott

I liked him first, but it doesn't matter.

I still like him.

That doesn't matter either.

Or at least, it's not supposed to.Add Image

I know a lot of people have already seen this, but I couldn't resist. First, it's an Elizabeth Scott novel. So I know it's already going to be really good. And secondly, look at that cover! It's purple, cute, and the feet are not weird looking. (I have this phobia of strange looking toes, don't ask.) The only thing that sucks is it doesn't come out until April 6, 2010.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Interview with Stephanie Kuehnert

For those that aren't familiar with you, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Let's see what are the most important things to know about me.... I've lived in St. Louis, Missouri; Oak Park, Illinois; Madison, Wisconsin; Yellow Springs, Ohio; Madison, Wisconsin again; Oak Park, Illinois again, and Forest Park, Illinois in that order and I also lived in Los Angeles for a semester. I love Forest Park best, but if I could move to Seattle, Washington I would. I turn 30 on July 13th (so I'm a Cancer), which is kinda scary, but my inner teenager is alive and well so I'm perpetually young. I'm getting married this year and I live with my fiance, Scott, and our three cats, Sid (after Sid Vicious), Kaspar, and Lars (after Lars Frederiksen). I'm vegan. I love getting tattooed. I have seven tattoos at the time I am typing this, but will likely have 8 by the time it's posted. My top five favorite bands are Nirvana, Hole, Social Distortion, Rancid, and Civet. I work as a bartender three days a week at a fabulous place called the Beacon Pub in Forest Park. Oh yeah and I write books! I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone and Ballads of Suburbia are my books, both from MTV Books. Writing has been my dream since I was a little girl when I idolized Laura Ingalls Wilder. I went on to idolize Sylvia Plath, Francesca Lia Block, Irvine Welsh, Joe Meno, John Steinbeck.... The list goes on. And I got both a BA and MFA in creative writing from Columbia College Chicago.

What have been some of the best and worst moments so far in your writing career?

The best moments are every time I get an email or I get to meet a fan of my work in person. It's still so amazing to actually have fans. But knowing that my words are reaching people, even if only a few people, means the world to me.
The worst moments are when I get those self doubts. I have two books, but I still have lots of self doubt. I read negative reviews and get self doubt. I worry about sales. Ugh I hate that stuff. The goal is to just ignore it and write from the heart for the people that appreciate it.

Have you always wanted to be a writer? Did anyone help influence the dream?

Yes, as I mentioned briefly above, the dream was brought about by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I loved her books when I was like 5, 6, 7, and I dressed up like her and asked to be called Laura and mentally composed my compelling autobiography in my head: "And I walked to my locker. Oh no, have I forgotten the combination!".... Yeah my autobiography wasn't very interesting, so I turned to fiction instead. The writers I mentioned above influenced my fiction writing (well, Sylvia Plath influenced my really bad poetry phase, but she was still very important because she taught me how be painfully honest in your work), but my biggest influences have probably always been my friends who write. I had three really good girlfriends in high school that I wrote angsty poetry with as well as political essays. And then my friends at Columbia College Chicago were hugely inspiring!

In both of your books, your characters have gone after the more 'bad boy' type. (Which I think a lot of us are guilty of.) What do you think girls are so attracted to guys like that?

Oh god, why do we love the Dylan McKays and Jordan Catalanos (crap, my references are probably dating me... um Liam on the new 90210? Logan on Veronica Mars?) of the world? Just yesterday I introduced my fiance to a guy I dated in high school. I told him, you two are the only good boys I've ever dated. Why did I date bad boys? Because on the surface they seemed mysterious and cool and they were very pretty. Then I got to know them and they were troubled and I wanted to save them. That was just me. I'm a Cancer. I have these mothering tendencies. I wanted to be the one who helped these guys get off drugs or alcohol and reach their potential as a writer or a rock star or whatever. But it was such a waste of energy! Nice boys are actually way more interesting and can teach you more and you won't have this icky symbiotic relationship with them. My nice boy fiance knows tons about cars and I can really really talk to him for hours. The one nice boy I dated in high school is the only one of musician boys I dated who actually has had some success. Nice boys don't finish last. And they are just as pretty and way more interesting. But we all have to learn that lesson. And so did my characters.

In I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone, what band(s) do you think She Laughs sounds the most like?

The Gits. That was the sound in my head anyway. If you aren't familiar with the Gits think the White Stripes meet the Distillers meet Nirvana. Or else Civet. I didn't discover Civet until after I wrote the book, but Liza and Suzi from Civet are like real life Emily Blacks.

If either one of your books were to become a movie, who do you picture playing the leading girls?

For Emily, I picture Madeleine Martin, who is the teenage daughter on Californication. There was this episode where she has a band and my fiance and I were like, holy crap, that's Emily! Or maybe Zooey Deschanel, but she might be too old. Or the Civet girls if they happen to have movie aspirations.

For Kara, huh.... I haven't really thought about it yet. I really don't know. I don't seem to watch enough TV or movies to be up on the top stars. Maybe the chick who plays Ellie on the new Degrassi? (Is she still even on? I'm at like season 6 on the DVDs.)

What made you want to write YA books?

For the short answer: because as a punk rock/misfit/outcast/what have you teenager I had a hard time finding characters in YA fiction that I related to, so I wanted to create some of the characters I was looking for then. For the long answer, check out this blog I wrote about it on the MTV Books Blog.

In Ballads, Kara struggles with some serious issues a lot of teens face or have faced. Was there a part of this book that was harder to write because of this?

Yes. This book caused a couple nervous breakdowns. Some of those issues that Kara faced, namely self-injury addiction, are issues I faced so I had to go back to dark emotional places and dredge up stuff to bring to the book. And also because I just wanted it to be as honest and heartfelt and perfect as I could get it. Those issues are serious and they needed to be done justice. I didn't want to write an after school special, I wanted to write something very real. So I put myself under a lot of pressure to do so.

I really liked how you gave Kara her own voice, but also her friends by writing out their own ballads. Was it difficult making a unique voice for each of them?

I always like to get to know the backstory of even my minor characters so this actually allowed me to do an exercise and get into their heads and actually use it in the book whereas with IWBYJR I had to cut all the backstory for the smaller characters. The ballads were how I discovered their voices and personalities, so it wasn't too difficult. Some were easier than others, like Stacey and Adrian, who both have very strong personalities and voices.

I saw an interview where you said you wanted Ballads of Suburbia to help break the silence. Do you plan on writing more stories that have characters dealing with serious struggles?

Absolutely. There is a lot more silence to break. I want my books to serve as outlets and as places to start dialogue. Those are the kind of stories that have always appealed to me as a reader and so they come naturally as a writer.

Both of your books cover the characters lives over a few years. Do you find it easier to get their stories out that way?

Well, with both of those characters, they took a few years to discover where they were going in life, so it was necessary for the story. I have another story idea that will likely take place over two weeks, and another over about a year. It just depends on the characters and the story. But our larger life stories always influence how we act in the moment, so even if I had a story that took place in one night or one week or one summer, it would likely have some backstory or flashbacks to show how the character came to be where they are. That's just the part of storytelling that interests me. I'm very much a character driven writer. I want to explore how a person comes to be who they are in life. I love coming of age stories and people don't often come of age instantly, it's a process.

In IWBYJR, who was one of your favorite characters to write? Who was it in Ballads?

I actually love all my characters for different reasons. I loved writing Emily and Regan the best in IWBYJR probably. In Ballads, Kara, Adrian, and Maya, though also Stacey. Even though she isn't a huge character, she was just fun. She brought some humor to her scenes and that was fun to write.

For the fun of it, if Emily and Kara would meet one day, what would their reactions be to one another?

Hmmm, well Emily would be one of the rock star types that Kara idolized for sure. I don't know how Emily would react to Kara, not very well to be honest. Emily and Kara are really opposite when it comes to being emotional. Emily runs from her emotions whereas Kara is incredibly emotional and can even wallow at times. I don't know how comfortable Emily would be around her. She likes her tough girls like Regan or like Cass from Ballads.

In your writing, do you ever base characters or situations from your own life?

Not intentionally. I set Ballads in my hometown just because I wanted to write about that place and it seemed like the perfect setting for the book. I didn't draw any characters from my real life though. Sometimes I draw from my emotions and use that. If that makes any sense.

Can you tell us what you're working on next?

I'm playing around with a story involving the Persephone myth, but that will probably be a project that takes quite a while to figure out. More immediately I working on a story about a girl who runs away to find the place where she really belongs. And her mom's a bartender. I need a bartender book.

Five Random Things To Know About Stephanie:
001. I garden and I wish I had a house with a backyard so I could garden more.
002. My favorite beverage is tea, which I'm super snooty about now and I mostly only drink loose teas.
003. My favorite currently on TV show is Weeds.
004. My all time favorite show is either My So-Called Life or Twin Peaks depending on my mood.
005. Not including my gym grades (which were wretched but didn't count toward your GPA), I got all straight A's in high school except for my first semester of biology freshman year.

--Big thanks to Stephanie for taking the time to answer my questions. Don't forget to check out the sidebar for your chance to win a copy of her newest book, Ballads of Suburbia, coming out July 21st!


Sunday, July 5, 2009

In My Mailbox

IMM was created by Kristi over at The Story Siren as a fun way to see what everyone bought/recieved/borrowed for the week.

Hope everyone in the states had a great Fourth of July! Don't forget to check out the sidebar ---> for all the giveaways going on right now. Someone Like You by Sarah Dessen ends tonight!

This post is going to cover the last two weeks because I was lazy last week, and I haven't gotten many books.

From a giveaway:

The September Sisters by Jillian Cantor

Abigail Reed and her younger sister, Becky, are always at each other's throats. Their mother calls them the September Sisters, because their birthdays are only a day apart, and pretends that they're best friends. But really, they delight in making each other miserable. Then Becky disappears in the middle of the night, and a torn gold chain with a sapphire heart charm is the only clue to the mystery of her kidnapping. Abby struggles to cope with her own feelings of guilt and loss as she tries to keep her family together. When her world is at its bleakest, Abby meets a new neighbor, Tommy, who is dealing with his own loss, and the two of them discover that love can bloom, even when it's surrounded by thorns.

For review:

Across the Pond by Storyheart

Finding himself packed off to friends in the USA, 15 year old English born Fred Squire is not happy. Then he meets Brittany. Struggling with his feelings for Brit and the language, Fred is further confused when he meets Brit's flirtatious friend, Angel. Life continues to throw Fred a curve ball when he catches a baseball worth a small fortune. Further run-ins with neighborhood bully, Harris, a crazy family barbecue, and a chase through a mall all add to Fred's American adventure. "Brit and her Brit" know that their young love will be followed by heartache when Fred has to return to England but not before some final twists in the tale.

Coffehouse Angel by Suzanne Selfors

When Katrina spots a homeless guy sleeping in the alley behind her grandmother’s coffee shop, she decides to leave him a cup of coffee, a bag of chocolate-covered coffee beans, and some pastries to tide him over. Little does she know that this random act of kindness is about to turn her life upside down. Because this adorable vagrant, Malcolm, is really a guardian angel on a break between missions. And he won’t leave until he can reward Katrina’s selflessness by fulfilling her deepest desire. Now if only she could decide what that might be . . .

That's it for me. What did you get this week?


Saturday, July 4, 2009

Crash Into Me Giveaway

Beautiful Creatures (I ♥ this site) is giving away a copy of Crash Into Me by Albert Borris along with a slew of goodies including Nirvana's Nevermind CD, a brown suede journal, and a bunch of other things. So go check out the site and enter! Good luck!


Friday, July 3, 2009

Review - Love You Hate You Miss You by Elizabeth Scott

Love You Hate You Miss You by Elizabeth Scott

Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: May 2009
Pages: 288

It's been seventy-five days since Amy's best friend, Julia, was killed in a car accident. Fresh out of rehab Amy is back into her old life filled with guilt and anger. Her therapist suggests she keeps a journal to help her cope with everything. Instead Amy decides to start writing Julia letters of how life is after she's gone.

Now Amy's parents who were always too much acting like honeymooners have suddenly taken an interest in her life. Everyone at school is whispering about her. What Amy really wants besides a drink is to have her best friend there again. But she can't have either, and now she has to face her life without them. But not everyone in school is quick to ignore her, and Amy isn't for sure how to take it.

With Julia gone, it was more easy to punish herself then to let new people in. There is Mel and her once upon a time friend Caro aka Corn Syrup. I could easily imagine sitting in class with both of these characters. I really enjoyed Caro who I quickly judged but love how she unraveled throughout the story. Then there was Patrick. (Character crush alert!) Why are the quiet brooding guys so attractive? How does Elizabeth Scott always make them so attractive? I dunno, but I don't want her to stop.

I've always been drawn to narrator who has a really screwed up life. (And I'm not for sure what that says about me.) But Amy's voice really made this book. I could even hear that damn pen clicking all the time! She's filled with guilt and you can't blame her. You can't even ignore all the pain she is putting herself through. Elizabeth Scott never fails to amaze me with how different each of her books are. She can go from a mild tone one to very dark story then a very cute fluff book. She simply rocks at writing.

Love You Hate You Miss You had the perfect mix of issues, friendship, family, and every day life all in one. I think this is Elizabeth's best story yet, and am always looking forward to see what she has in store for us in the next novel.


Thursday, July 2, 2009

Rock This! Thursday Giveaway

Ballads of Suburbia by Stephanie Kuehnert
Release Date: July 21, 2009

Kara hasn't been back to Oak Park since the end of junior year, when a heroin overdose nearly killed her and sirens heralded her exit. Four years later, she returns to face the music. Her life changed forever back in high school: her family disintegrated, she ran around with a whole new crowd of friends, she partied a little too hard, and she fell in love with gorgeous bad-boy Adrian, who left her to die that day in Scoville Park....Amid the music, the booze, the drugs, and the drama, her friends filled a notebook with heartbreakingly honest confessions of the moments that defined and shattered their young lives. Now, finally, Kara is ready to write her own.

Since Stephanie is our Author of the Month, I thought doing a giveaway for her upcoming novel would be great. Oh and also because the book blew me away and is one of my new favorites!

For your chance to win just leave a comment with your email address (no email, no entry)by July 21st at midnight (central time). This contest is only open to those with a US or Canada mailing address. Contest is now closed! Thanks to all who entered.

Extra entries:

+2 for becoming a follower

+3 for already being a follower

+3 if you comment on my interview with Stephanie here (UPDATED)

+1 for every place you link this contest too

+5 Since the book is based in the 90's, leave a comment telling something that you loved from that era. For example most of the bands I love like Nirvana, Bush, Green Day, No Doubt, Sublime, Alanis Morissette, and tons others came out around then. Let's not forget the best movie ever from 1995 called Empire Records! (Damn the Man! Save the Empire! Rave on! Rave on!)


Author of the Month: Stephanie Kuehnert

Stephanie was born St. Louis, Missouri in the fine year of 1979. She moved to the Chicago area with her parents and younger brother, Daniel in the late eighties. Stephanie got her start like most authors by writing bad poetry about unrequited love and razor blades back in eighth grade. That was also around the time she discovered punk rock. Along with literature by geniuses such as Shakespeare, Nathaniel Hawthorne, John Steinbeck, Sylvia Plath, Francesca Lia Block, John McNally, Irvine Welsh, and Louise Erdrich, noisy guitars and lyrics by Kurt Cobain, Johnny Cash, Mike Ness, Courtney Love, Robert Smith, Mark Lanegan, and Brody Dalle are Stephanie's primary influences.

(Short bio taken from her website. Read more here.)

Stephanie writes the types of stories I would have loved to of read when I was a teenager. (But hey - I will take them now too!) Full of in your face characters, angst, music, friendships, hardships, self-discovery - her books are must reads. If you haven't heard of her books before, take a look:

I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone (July 2008)

The Clash. Social Distortion. Dead Kennedys. Patti Smith. The Ramones.

Punk rock is in Emily Black's blood. Her mother, Louisa, hit the road to follow the incendiary music scene when Emily was four months old and never came back. Now Emily's all grown up with a punk band of her own, determined to find the tune that will bring her mother home. Because if Louisa really is following the music, shouldn't it lead her right back to Emily?

Ballads of Suburbia (July 21, 2009)

Kara hasn't been back to Oak Park since the end of junior year, when a heroin overdose nearly killed her and sirens heralded her exit. Four years later, she returns to face the music. Her life changed forever back in high school: her family disintegrated, she ran around with a whole new crowd of friends, she partied a little too hard, and she fell in love with gorgeous bad-boy Adrian, who left her to die that day in Scoville Park....
Amid the music, the booze, the drugs, and the drama, her friends filled a notebook with heartbreakingly honest confessions of the moments that defined and shattered their young lives. Now, finally, Kara is ready to write her own.

If you pre-order Ballads (and you should cause it was awesome), don't forget to enter the Big Ballads Blitz giveaway hosted by Write for a Reader.

Don't forget to check out Stephanie's website and sign up to become a street team member!


Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Giveaway!

It all comes down to this - a final face off between good and evil. You plan to pull out all the stops, but every time you solve one mystery, three more evolve. Do you stay the course you started, despite your lack of progress? Do you detour and follow a new lead that may not help? Do you listen to your instincts, or your friends?

Lord Voldemort is preparing for battle and so must Harry. With Ron and Hermione at his side, he's trying to hunt down Voldemort's Horcruxes, escape danger at every turn, and find a way to defeat evil once and for all. How does it all end? Find out in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

Don't forget to check out the Harry Potter Website!


Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince will hit theaters this summer – the 6th film in the series. Why not catch the finale NOW by reading the page turning final installment of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – released in paperback July 7th.

5 winners will receive:

- One paperback copy of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
- Collector's Edition Gold Pin:

To enter, just leave a comment with your email address. (All entries without it will not count.) The contest will end July 16th, 9 pm central time. It is only open to those with a US mailing address - no PO boxes!

Update: CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED! Thanks to all who enetered!