Monday, August 31, 2009

James Patterson Promotion Prize Pack!


Read “MAX” - the newest book in the bestselling Maximum Ride series. On sale in paperback 09/01/09!

Still reeling from their most recent adventure, Maximum Ride and the rest of the flock must head out to sea to uncover the secret behind a brand new series of disasters—fish are dying off the coast of Hawaii, hundreds of ships are being destroyed. As if that weren’t enough, they’re also being tracked by a criminal mastermind with, oh yeah, an army of mercenaries. Can the flock save themselves and the ocean, and the world, from utter destruction?

2 lucky winners will be recieving the following:
  • Maximum Ride: Max (paperback)
  • Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment (paperback)
  • Maximum Ride: School's Out - Forever (paperback)
  • Maximum Ride: Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports (paperback)
  • Maximum Ride: The Final Warning (paperback)
  • Maximum Ride: Manga (paperback)
  • The Dangerous Days of Daniel X (paperback)
  • Daniel X: Watch the Skies (hardcover)

And now for some fine print:

The Maximum Ride: Max Promotion is open to legal US residents who are at least 13 years of age as of August 24, 2009. There will be two prizes for each Promotion. Each prize consists of the following eight (8) books: Maximum Ride: Max (paperback); Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment (paperback); Maximum Ride: School’s Out – Forever (paperback); Maximum Ride: Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports (paperback); Maximum Ride: The Final Warning (paperback); Maximum Ride: Manga (paperback); The Dangerous Days of Daniel X (paperback); and Daniel X: Watch the Skies (hardcover). The approximate retail value of each prize is $72.00. Winners will be confirmed on or about September 28, 2009 by email. Prizes will only be shipped to confirmed winners with addresses in the US. Prizes will be shipped within 30 days after a selected entrant is confirmed as a winner.

Sound good?  For your chance to win, just leave your name along with your email address.  (If you do not leave your email address, your entry will not count.) The contest will end on September 14th and only opened to those living in the US.
Contest is now closed! Winners have been announced!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Are You Haunted? - My First Vlog!

Are you haunted?

All will be revealed September 1st.

(And a mega HUGE thanks to my sister for helping me film this.  You rock!)

Monday, August 24, 2009

Bookmooch vs. Paperback Swap

I promise, the next post you see after this one will be a review!

But in the meantime I noticed how much my bookcase is overflowing.  While I did donate some books to the library, there are still some that I could do without.  So I joined both sites and I'm already sending out a couple books on Mooch...but which site does everyone like better?  Why do you like that site better?  I know on PBS you can't post ARCs except for on the forum, but what about Bookmooch?  As you can tell, I'm super new to this sort of thing.

If anyone wants to add me, my screen name on both sites is: sammyjones57


Thursday, August 20, 2009

BBAW Nominations...*squee!!*

I'm still on my read-a-thon right now, but of course I have to check my email. When I saw something from BBAW, I assumed it was because I signed up for it...but when I opened them, I had this reaction:


JYTBB got nominated for two awards!!

Best Collaborative Blog – They say great minds think alike, and this blog is proof - while the individual members may not always agree, their collective whole makes for some of the best content on the web.

Most Eclectic Taste – This blog stands out because of its uniqueness - you never know what you’re going to get, but it’s always something surprising and new.

HOLY FRIGGIN' CRAP!! Thank you, thank you, thank you times a million to whoever nominated us! I'm still in shock here! (And yes, I need to use lots of !!! in this post!)

Tonight I'm going to go through and try to find the 5 posts to submit. (I have a few ideas, but really, I don't know what I should submit!) If anyone wants to shout out a post(s) that sticks out - I will welcome it with open arms and ♥ you forever. Thanks again - you guys are awesome!


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Another HUGE contest and some news

Over at Bloody Bookaholic (who has an awesome blog by the way), she is having Mega Palooza Contest! You don't want to miss it because there are some great reads up for grabs. Enter here and don't forget to tell her I sent you!

News wise, I am so far beyond behind in my TBR pile, it's sad.. I have books that were sent back to me in May I haven't gotten to. So I'm taking a mini-break from blogging and hosting my own little read-a-thon so this blog will actually have some reviews on it! See you all in a week or so!


Friday, August 14, 2009

New Layout and Bookcase Winner!

I'm finally done with the re-do on the layout! Yay! (At least I think I am, knowing me I've probably forgotten something.) Thanks for all the lovely comments too! Just so everyone knows, yes, those are my books. (I still need to read a bunch of them.) But the feet and arms do not belong to me, they belong to my niece. When she saw the layout she just gave me this "Omg, my aunt is nuts" look. The review button on the left side is me standing on my books. (I thought my niece's pose looked better for the header.)

Now onto what most of you are probably wondering. The winner of the bookcase offered up by CSN Furniture is......

*insert drum roll here*
Congrats! I've already sent you an email and I just need you to respond by Sunday night so I don't have to pick another winner.
There were tons of entries and tons of people who posted the contest up on various sites. I kind of thought Lauren from Shooting Stars Mag would win from all the random link ups she posted throughout the run of the contest. So thank you all who linked up the contest! You guys rock.
A big hello to all the new followers! Hope you like the site and don't be shy, leave some comments.
I'm shocked this blog has over 200 people following it now. Never thought I'd see that. Because of this, there is a giveaway idea brewing around in my head as a way to thank everyone. So make sure you tune in for that in the future.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Review - Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler

Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler

Released: June 2009
Publisher: Little, Brown
Genre: Young Adult - Contemporary
Pages: 304
Source: Won

Rating: ♥♥♥♥

According to Anna's best friend, Frankie, twenty days in Zanzibar Bay is the perfect opportunity to have a summer fling, and if they meet one boy every day, there's a pretty good chance Anna will find her first summer romance. Anna lightheartedly agrees to the game, but there's something she hasn't told Frankie - she's already had her romance, and it was with Frankie's older brother, Matt, just before his tragic death one year ago.

Right from the beginning, I was captivated by this book. Anna and Frankie were such great characters. I loved the dynamics between the two.

Anna was an easy character to relate to. She had a certain quality in her that I think will make any reader like. Frankie on the other hand, could drive you nuts at times. But I still really enjoyed her. Sure there were times where I wondered why Anna put up with her. Then I admired her because it showed how true of a best friend she was. There were a few glimpses here and there showing the 'old Frankie', but I wished there was a little bit more though. That would probably be my only complaint (and a minor one at that).

I was so impressed on how the story started with Matt already gone, but yet he seemed so much alive. In my bookworm lover way, I couldn't help but grin when I read that Matt jammed out to the Grateful Dead. (Of course, not so giddy after what happened when one of my favorite songs by them was playing.) The setting for this book and how it was described was perfect. It made me want to go to the beach so bad. Sadly, I live in Missouri so this cannot happen.

Overall Sarah Ockler was able to weave in the perfect sync of friendship, love, laughs, family, loss, and most importantly healing all in one. If you haven't picked this one up yet then I have no idea what you're waiting for. It's a must read!


Rock This! Thursday - Born To Rock

Rock This! Thursday is a weekly meme where we focus on books that are about or centered around another thing we love: MUSIC! Sometimes we'll even throw in a concert story, a band you should be listening to or have an author stop by.

*If you are an author who loves music and would like to be featured for Rock This! Thursday just shoot us an email:

My plan was to have a review up for this week, but I'm still reading the book. So I went book looking instead to find a future read for myself and stumbled upon this:

Born to Rock by Gordon Korman

"There are two kinds of people in this world--those who have had a cavity search, and those who haven't. This is the story of how I wound up in the wrong category."

After Young Republican Leo Caraway discovers that his biological father is none other than millionaire, King Maggot, lead singer of the punk band, Purge, he accepts a roadie job on King's tour in the hope of securing sorely needed college tuition. Soon, coke-snorting musicians and on-the-make agents are assaulting Leo's traditional values at every turn. Still, he manages to keep his cool, until he uncovers a shocking truth about his bio-dad that leaves him questioning every principle he holds dear.

I love the baby mohawk cover. When I saw what it was about, I was interested, but that first line about a cavity search has sold me on the idea of picking this one up. Has anyone else read this? If so, what did you think about it?


A Holy Mother of Books Giveaway!

Yesterday I stumbled upon Princess Bookie's blog and found this giveaway. It's mega huge and I think everyone will want to enter it:

One VERY LUCKY winner will be getting all of this:

1. Hush Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick ARC
2. Along For The Ride by Sarah Dessen ARC
3. Kiss of Life by Daniel Waters ARC
4. Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater ARC
5. Troy High by Shana Norris ARC
6. Love You Hate You Miss You by Elizabeth Scott ARC
7. Reincarnation by Suzanne Weyn ARC
8. Lovestruck Summer by Melissa Walker
9. Death by Series by Linda Gerber (3 books total)
10. a 5 dollar giftcard from Walmart (you can buy yourself half of a book with it, lol)
11. 3 Sarah Dessen books ( Just Listen, This Lullaby, Someone Like You)
12. Suite Scarlett by Maureen Johnson
13. Fire By Kristin Cashmore ARC
14. Last but not least, I have some extra amazon cards, so I will also include a preorder for CATCHING FIRE BY SUZANNE COLLINS. It will be shipped to on or around Sept 1st (whenever they ship it)

AND a book of your choice (under $15.00 please and it can be a preorder as long as it comes out in September-so many good books get released)

What are you waiting for? CLICK HERE, read the rules, and make sure you tell her I sent you. And of course, GOOD LUCK!


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Waiting on Wednesday and WHOOT! To My Dashboard Being Back!

The blog is still under some construction, but thanks so much for the lovely feedback guys! =D

The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting
Release Date: March 2010

Violet Ambrose is grappling with two major issues: Jay Heaton and her morbid secret ability. While the sixteen-year-old is confused by her new feelings for her best friend since childhood, she is more disturbed by her “power” to sense dead bodies—or at least those that have been murdered.

Since she was a little girl, she has felt the echoes the dead leave behind in the world . . . and the imprints that attach to their killers. Violet has never considered her strange talent to be a gift; it mostly just led her to find dead birds her cat had tired of playing with. But now that a serial killer has begun terrorizing her small town, and the echoes of the local girls he’s claimed haunt her daily, she realizes she might be the only person who can stop him.

Despite his fierce protectiveness over her, Jay reluctantly agrees to help Violet on her quest to find the murderer—and Violet is unnerved to find herself hoping that Jay’s intentions are much more than friendly. But even as she’s falling intensely in love, Violet is getting closer and closer to discovering a killer . . . and becoming his prey herself.

Let's see, a girl who can sense the dead, and now has a psycho coming at her? Not to mention a possible love story thrown into the mix - I say gimme! I have a feeling this one might creep me the crap out and will be hard to put down.


Monday, August 10, 2009

News, Giveaway, and a Link

News: JYTBB is going to be under some serious re-modeling this week so please excuse the mess. Also if you would like to do a link exchange, just drop me a comment here.

Giveaway: No giveaway here. (Though we still do have the free bookcase that you can enter to win on the sidebar there ---> Let me repeat that, FREE BOOKCASE! It ends August 13th)
The giveaway I'm talking about is going on at Reading in Color. A copy of A Wish After Midnight by Zetta Elliott is up for grabs so go enter and good luck!

Katy who created Elizabeth Scott Fans over on Facebook and I do believe Goodreads has now created an Elizabeth Scott Fans Website! Click here to register and discuss the awesomeness that is Elizabeth Scott Novels.


Saturday, August 8, 2009

Review - Coffeehouse Angel by Suzanne Selfors

Coffeehouse 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 . . .


When I got this book, I took one look at it and thought hhmm, this will probably be an okay cute little read. But once I got into it, I was so surprised about how much I really enjoyed it.

Katrina was such a random and frazzled character and I loved her for it. The little comments she would throw out here and there had me cracking up and made me not want to put the book down. Katrina has a closet full of things she's not good at, but there is one thing she knows probably better than anyone (well besides her grandma Anna of course), and that's how to run Anna's Old World Scandinavian Coffeehouse. With the quirky characters that spend a good part of their time there such as The Boys, Irmgaad, and Ratcatcher - I felt as if I were sitting at a table watching it all take place.

While I did adore angel Malcolm and his kilt wearing Scottish accent here and there ways, (and let's not forget those eyes either), I actually liked the story between Katrina and her best guy friend Vincent more. The two of them were super close, but its not as if they woke up one day and decided they were in love with each other. They just loved one another and throughout the book have to find a happy medium for their friendship. That was refreshing compared to the usual boy/girl friendship tales.

Norby was such a fun place to read about. In the acknowledgements, Suzanne tells what town she based it off of and I want to go visit it! Coffeehouse Angel was a very delightful and fun read, and I suggest everyone that enjoys a quirky story with fun characters to go pick it up.


Thursday, August 6, 2009

Book Blog Photo Shoot

I've been toying with the idea of re-doing the layout lately, and I got an idea so I ran it by Cheryl. She has magic PSP fingers and completely rocks in the creative department. She liked the idea so today I had my niece, Bree, help me out with a little photo shoot. The big idea wasn't looking right in my room. I have no wall space opened and everything is crammed up there. That's basically how it is in my entire house. So my genius self gets the bright idea to take it out to the back deck (on the hottest day of the freakin' week mind you.)

Bree and I took a couple trips with book bags. All together, I think we had about two and half of my shelves out there. We did have a lot of fun (and almost died of a heat stroke) snapping random pictures. I was surprised about what ideas she came up with while she was the photographer then I used her as the guinea pig for a while. Here are some outtakes:

She will forever remember this as the day her aunt tried to kill her by standing on books.

I adore this one.

I will make a Sarah Dessen fan out of her yet!

"Okay, Annie, that's it. I'm done."

Here in the next week or so the blog might be missing a bunch of stuff, but make sure to check back to see the new layout!!


Rock This! Thursday with R.A. Riekki

Rock This! Thursday is a weekly meme where we feature books that are about or centered around another thing we love: MUSIC! And sometimes we'll throw out a concert story, author's insight, or whatever band/song we think you should be listening to.

This week we have, R.A. Riekki, author of the book, U.P. hanging out with us to share some of his musical insight.

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

OK, this is so hard to do. But I love it. I started to list my top five groups on my web page and I got into the hundreds before I knew it, so for the expanded version of this question, go to and you'll see my top 300 plus. But five . . . my God. I think I'll have to cheat a bit to fit more in than just five. Or I won't be able to sleep tonight. Too much to write about . . . OK, here's an attempt . . .

#1 The Mummers.

I'm a youtube freak, so I'd recommend checking out The Mummers doing "Wonderland" and "March of the Dawn." They remind me of Harry Connick Jr if he was more Lewis Carroll meets Bjork with perfect orchestration and less predictability (although I have to admit Connick's "We Are In Love" is the only jazz tune love song that simultaneously makes me want to get married and headbang--but I'm sure that's just me--it's like Pantera's "This Love" if you squeezed out every once of metal from it). OK, I'm getting off track . . . #1: The Mummers. Singer Raissa Khan-Panni has a voice that leads me to believe she'll have an easy, beautiful life, like one of Calvin's chosen--my last girlfriend was like that, perfect voice, this sense of flawlessness that you can only envy. Raissa's voice is divine. I'm a mere mortal in its presence.

#2 Jennifer Charles/Elysian Fields.

Youtube her doing "We're in Love." Not to be confused with Connick's "We Are In Love." This song makes me want to move back to Montreal. There've only been two cities I've lived in where I felt like I was home there--L.A. and Montreal (although some southern Florida cities have come close, but no cigar). Charles makes me nostalgic pour parler français et seulement français toute la journée encore. When I hear Charles's voice I miss Montreal . . . et pour sentir l'amour encore. Je me languis de l'amour. Je senti comme mon coeur suis mort après que ma dernière petite amie soit partie et cette chanson me rend long pour instants où j'ai obtenu de l'étreindre par derrière tandis qu'elle lavait des plats à l'évier. Je ferme mes yeux et vois toujours ces moments clairement comme jour. "We're in Love" makes me yearn for everything that Montreal, Quebec City, and Chicoutimi was to my life, its sense of romance. I actually can't listen to U2's "One" anymore, because it devastates me too much, makes me wish for what I once had, but for some reason Charles's singing is less painful to me than Bono's (or Karin Bergquist's from Over the Rhine), more like a humble, harmonious acceptance of loss; whereas, Bono just makes me hurt, makes me realize I still haven't found what I'm looking for even though I thought I had.

#3 Automatic Loveletter and Lyle Lovett.

Youtube "Hush." Listen to the opening notes, the way Juliet Simms's voice breaks. It has the same immediate sorrow as the first word of the recorded version of Lyle Lovett's "North Dakota," all this breaking emotion in the first breath. I love vocalists like that, where every syllable has a strain, an impact, a passion. Unteachable. There's just a commitment to the way that they sing like the best actors are able to do. Great art comes from commitment. (And great love too . . .)

#4 Fiona Apple and Sinead O'Connor.

Everything they've ever done. I love those two. As a writer, sometimes, I think what it would be like if I was that talented, as talented as Fiona is, as Sinead is. There's just this utter integrity to their songs, even the shitty ones. I saw Sinead in concert and she had no audience interaction skills, just mumbled and didn't realize she was too close or too far away from the mic and told anecdotes that never finished and I sooooo didn't mind, because she was just being herself and also each time a song started, there she was, absolutely exquisite beauty in the imperfection and perfection of her voice. God, if I could do that in my writing . . . I wouldn't be single, that's for damn sure. Fiona and Sinead and Juliet and Jennifer and Raissa--they're so talented that you fall in love with them. That's powerful. Like Shakespeare in Shakespeare in Love, so talented that there's a sexiness to it. I remember my first play I ever wrote that got performed, a play called Nighttime Cattail Swans that starred Rebekah Tiefenbach at Central Michigan University. As a playwright, I sat in the back row on opening night and I remember a girl in the audience crying at one of the scenes and I had this rush of connection to her, but it was this connection that was done in shadow, with her not knowing me and me not knowing her, but her tears were real, affected by what I wrote and she was causing this rush of emotion in me, a happiness and sadness and a sort of love . . . and I think the rest of my life has been trying to reconnect with that moment, almost like an addict, a writing addict, wanting to find audience, find readers who love what I've written. Well, Fiona and Sinead do that for me. I love what they write and sing and perform. Picking one song from them is too hard, but if I had to choose, at this moment I might say "Black Boys on Mopeds" or "No Man's Woman" and "Get Gone," "Sullen Girl," or "I Know."

#5 Loco Locass and Kinderzimmer Productions, Be Your Own Pet, Slow News Day/The Fast Computers, DJ Zack Daniels and Sinister Kane with John Greasy. I'm squeezing in a bunch of music here.

For Detroit hip-hop, I can't stop listening to "Sunshowers" by Zack Daniels, Sinister Kane, and John Greasy. The sample and chorus are topnotch--from Boyz n the Hood I believe. I worked with Zack Daniels for The (White) Rapper Show when it filmed in Detroit. I was originally a Midwest Hip-Hop Music Advisor for the show, unpaid, and then they gave me a paid P.A. position and I got to work all day with Gozza from the Artfull Dodgers and DJ SirReal who replaced Kid Rock in the Howling Diablos and a bunch of other big hip-hop fans and artists--Zack Daniels being one of them. Was a blast, although really hard, long hours, but it was cool, because I got to hang out with MC Serch a lot and he has amazing stories about being on tour with Flavor Flav and working with Nas and performing before The Cactus Album ever came out.

Slow News Day was an art alt rock subversive pop band in Chicago. I knew both members--Jason Powers and Josh Cox. Cox was in another amazing band called The Fast Computers. When they moved to Oregon, Cox formed Slow News Day. I saw one of their Chicago gigs, with Powers crawling on the floor like Marilyn Manson and Cox doing an aloof Jarvis Cocker while odd Russian cartoons played in the background and I thought it was one of the most promising live gigs I ever saw. I tried to do a story on them for the Forest Park Review, but the editor at the time thought that the band was fictitious based on their name--Slow News Day--like they were making fun of newspapers, so I wasn't allowed to write it. I wish I had now. Shortly after, the group broke up, sadly. But The Fast Computers went on to make an incredible CD called Heart Geometry that

I highly recommend ( "Sweden Hasn't Changed" and "Magic in the Air" are a couple of must-listens.

Be Your Own Pet is probably my favorite punk band right now. "Wildcat" equals one great song. It's so short that it's hard for me to go in great detail about why I love it. It just does what my favorite punk songs have always done--makes me laugh, think, and want to mosh about not caring if I spill stuff.

Loco Locass. Best of music lists are always too anglocentric. Loco Locass are the Rage Against the Machine of French hip-hop. Their lyrics are complex, insightful, and just plain interesting, even to the untrained English ear. Listen to the build of a song like "La censure pour l'echafaud" and then the way that "histoire d'horreur" and "histoire d'Honneur" become interchangable. The effect for me is similar to how Rage's "just do what they told ya" sounds like "just do what they taught ya" morphs into "just do what they torture" in "Killing in the Name Of." Loco Locass, like Zach de la Rocha, have true lyrical skills. I find some of the best MCs in hip-hop that NEVER make American lists are rappers outside of the English language who should be getting their props--K'naan, Menelik, Kool Savas, Kinderzimmer Productions. That opening beat for K.P.'s "Irgendwo zwischen" is begging to be sampled. I got in an argument with Jeff Mao (aka Chairman Mao of the egotrip collective) while driving him to a record store in Detroit. He made the claim that the only real hip-hop comes out of New York. I argued that that wasn't true, that it was in fact crazy, that countless MCs with incredible talent were all over the U.S., and even questioned what he was doing in Detroit if the best rappers were supposedly in NYC. Now I'd want to argue with him even further that the best hip-hop is coming from outside of America in a hell of a lot more languages than just English. As a matter of fact, if Mao ever reads this, I challenge him to a public debate on who the best MCs are on the planet. He can take New York and I'll take everywhere outside of New York--Mao won't stand a chance. There's just too many names I can draw from.

Almost made this list: Rage Against the Machine's entire Evil Empire, anything Radiohead has ever done, Arab Strap's Mad for Sadness, Monica Freire's "Les eaux de mars," Eisley's Room Noises, Elliott Smith, Matre's "Miracle Business" and "The Last Shall Be First," Ben Folds, Nas's "One Mic," LCD Soundsystem, Placebo, Cassettes Won't Listen's "Freeze and Explode," Young Galaxy, Dokken's Under Lock and Key, any slow Nick Cave song, The Veils's "Lavinia," Tok Tok vs. Soffie O's "Day of Mine," Guster's Lost and Gone Forever, Postal Service's "Such Great Heights," Yeah Yeah Yeahs's "Maps," everything the New Radicals ever did, Kerli's "Walking on Air," Pony Up!'s "The Truth About Cats and Dogs," k-os's "Superstarr Pt. Zero," the amazing New York Scum Rock Live at CBGB CD, One Day as a Lion's "Wild International," Little Boots's "Meddle," Blood Red Shoes, and you know what, I better stop there. I could see this list getting very long. Oh, I have to add this though--Tindersticks. "Dying Slowly"--gorgeous and I feel what he's saying.

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

I don't use my iPod. Doesn't work very well. But I do have some guilty pleasures--Nelly Furtado's "Say It Right," Stacy Earl's "Why Do You Try To Hurt Me?" Avril Lavigne's "I'm With You," Brittany Spears's "Toxic," Pussycat Dolls's "When I Grow Up." I definitely can be a pop fan. Although the majority of radio nauseates me. I'm much more into underground stuff I've managed to discover myself, like Kings of Convenience, Kylähullut, Donots, Texta, Blumentopf, Bloodsuckers from Outer Space, Nellie McKay, P.O.S., Duchess Says, Coeur de Pirate, Black Moon, Ian Brown, Ke, . . .

What was the first tape or CD you bought?
The first tape was either The Best of Bill Cosby or Cheech & Chong's Greatest Hit. I can't remember exactly, but I think it was the Cosby first. I remember listening to "Old Weird Harold (9th Street Bridge)" and playing it over and over. I thought the moment where Old Weird Harold gets scared was the funniest thing I'd ever heard at that time. The sound Cosby makes is hysterical. The same with "Pedro and Man At The Drive-Inn." I thought Cheech's peeing was hilarious, when he says he has to go so bad his teeth are floating. I've went back and listened to some of those old comedy tapes I bought and they're not as funny anymore, but at the time I remember laughing until I hurt. I loved to laugh as a kid, loved comedy, always have actually. So it was amazing when I got to go on tour with Joe Anderson from Second City Main Stage for the 2007 We Can Make You Laugh Comedy Tour. I'd always wanted to drive around from city to city doing standup and improv and I got to do that at least once in my life and I think it all started with those Cosby and Cheech & Chong tapes.

By the way, the first CD I ever bought was a special issue Madonna CD that I got from the BX when I was in boot camp, near the end of it. It had a long remix of "Holiday" that I liked a lot. CDs had just come out. I used to have to hide it from the drill instructor. I bought W.A.S.P.'s Inside the Electric Circus shortly after that. I remember trying to listen to it on cheap headphones when I had a headache (I caught pneumonia when I was in boot camp and the drill instructor/company commander wouldn't let me go to the hospital, so I got exceptionally sick). Somehow I still managed to graduate boot camp though and then in A-school I had an extended hospital stay after having untreated pneumonia for like two months. I lost fifty pounds in boot camp. I had these visions of graduating with this amazing Marine-like body and instead I looked like I'd survived a POW camp, just gaunt and weak. I think joining the military is basically finding out that it's the opposite of everything you think it's going to be. Let me just say that my favorite music is not military marches.

If you could hang out with one musician - living or dead - who would it be and why?
I really like Lyle Lovett. He just seems like he has a lot of integrity. And he got to date Julia Roberts. I'm amazed at the Joe Dimaggios and Arthur Millers, how they got to be with such beautiful women. I think I've lucked out in my life. My ex-girlfriends have all been very talented and beautiful people. But Lyle has a quality I've always been intrigued by. Plus I love his songs--"L.A. County," "Simple Song," "Pontiac."

You know, that was a cool thing about working on The (White) Rapper Show--getting to eat at Kid Rock's restaurant while they taped him and going to ICP's secretive studio and getting to hang out with Jus Rhyme. Just today I went with Jus to an AWARE-LA (Anti-Racism organization) meeting and then talked with him and rapper Matre afterwards. That's what I love about L.A., how really talented people are just part of everyday life. Through a coincidence I was recently at Durmot Mulroney's house in L.A. and got to talk to him for a couple minutes. It's fun to do that, have a moment with someone you think is talented. That's one of the things also I really liked about going to school for creative writing, getting to sit down and study with and gab with John Casey and Stuart Dybek and Jayne Anne Phillips.

What was the first concert you attended?

Ratt/Poison. There's a scene in my novel U.P. ( where one of the main characters talked about his first concert experience and how it changed his life. I kinda took that chapter from my own life. Except there was an older bully behind me during the concert who spit on me for no reason more than once. I try not to remember that and instead remember C.C. DeVille going crazy onstage, running around, and how fun it was to see him with so much energy. Ratt was boring, but Poison put on an amazing show. I think my second concert was Warlock, Megadeth, and, oh, and I can't remember the third band, they were good too, but the name is slipping me. Anyway, I went without earplugs and was right in front of the amps and when I left the concert I remember this serious worry that I was going to go deaf because I actually couldn't hear. And then the relief when the tinnitus set in, because at least I was hearing ringing. That scared me so bad.

What is the one thing you love most about music?
I have to say this--my novel has been Ghost Road Press's #1 bestseller in fiction for 23 weeks and the reason is because of the music community. My interviews with creative writing publications have been fairly minimal, but I've got to be on the front page of Metal Express Radio in Oslo, Norway, with Chris Fehn of Slipknot and get interviewed on WIMK/WUPK (the big rock station in my hometown area) and on multiple metal and punk and hip-hop shows throughout the U.S. and the reason is because the music community can be so embracing. It's been an odd revelation for me, just how accepting they can be. (Now if I could just get into Spin--I've always dug that magazine ever since they gave me a free subscription--if anyone is a fan of U.P., do me a favor and write an email to Spin Magazine saying they should do a story on U.P.) When I was young--and I think a lot of kids do this--I turned to music for community, camaraderie, some sense of connection. I took to music really strongly--Pantera, Run-DMC, Anthrax, Public Enemy, The Subhumans, Sex Pistols. I didn't really put on the masks of it, the shirts and the dress and the posing of it, although if people do, I'm fine with that. But I always felt more like I was the Mike character in SLC Punk. He was punk without looking outwardly punk and I loved that. That he was punk inside. And the way that I took to it as a kid and found something there, some connection. Well, I write this novel about kids who love those forms of music and then it's years and years later but those communities opened their arms to me again. I mean, when I think about my facebook contacts--it's people like MC Serch and Steven Wiig (from Jason Newsted's band) and DJ SirReal and Jason Powers and Jus Rhyme. And next Saturday, August 8, I'll be at Russo's Books with rappers B Famillia and Matre. Even when I went to Central Michigan University, I was put in the Music dorm (Barnes Hall) even though I wasn't a Music major, but the great thing was I got to be in this building with members of The Verve Pipe and Paul Snabes from Alibi and although Mt. Pleasant didn't feel like home, that music dorm did feel like home to me. Music means more to me than what I can put here. But people who read my novel will get more of a sense of how much my characters (and I) love music.

Note: If you are an author who loves music and would like to particpate in Rock This! just shoot us an email:

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Review - City of Glass by Cassandra Clare

City of Glass by Cassandra Clare

To save her mother's life, Clary must travel to the City of Glass, the ancestral home of the Shadowhunters -- never mind that enter-ing the city without permission is against the Law, and breaking the Law could mean death. To make things worse, she learns that Jace does not want her there, and Simon has been thrown in prison by the Shadowhunters, who are deeply suspicious of a vampire who can withstand sunlight.

As Clary uncovers more about her family's past, she finds an ally in mysterious Shadow-hunter Sebastian. With Valentine mustering the full force of his power to destroy all Shadow-hunters forever, their only chance to defeat him is to fight alongside their eternal enemies. But can Downworlders and Shadowhunters put aside their hatred to work together? While Jace realizes exactly how much he's willing to risk for Clary, can she harness her newfound powers to help save the Glass City -- whatever the cost?


While I easily breezed through the first two books in the series, this one took me a bit to read. Not because it wasn't good. I just didn't want it to end, and someone was also taunting me with a death toll. (Which I will not do to you - I have my co-workers to be evil towards now.)

When getting attached to characters and a series, it's hard to see it go. I was so scared that I might not like it. This is the end, and some endings in other series have made me want to throw the book across the room. City of glass was excellent though. The characters and their relationships grew and grew and I was so pleased to see where most of them ended up. Everything came together in the end, but not in a neatly tied ribbon way. I was very happy because of that. It made it seem more realistic.

There are tons of things I would love to spill out here, but like always, I'd give too much away. Basically the Mortal Instruments series is hands down full of awesomeness. Cassandra Clare's has a wonderful, wild, and unique imagination. I'm still blown away by how she describes things and all the details that were put into this book. It really makes the world of Shadowhunters come to life.


Guest Blog: Jack Regan says Rules, Schmules!

Let me begin by thanking Just Your Typical Book Blog for allowing me to appear as their guest for the day. I’d also like to say that I sincerely disagree with the title of said blog. It is not “typical,” but quite extraordinary and a cut above. But I love their modesty.

JYTBB: Awww, thanks Jack!)

I’m appearing here as part of a Virtual Book Tour celebrating the release of my new book, “T’Aragam,” the first in a new fantasy/adventure series for kids. The tour kicked off on July 17 and has been going strong since. You can find the entire schedule at the official website.

Now, if I may, I’d like to chat briefly about my very favorite subject, writing.

G.K. Chesterton once said, “I owe my success to having listened respectfully to the very best advice, and then going away and doing the exact opposite.”

I think he had a point. For every rule that exists about writing, there Isa writer somewhere who would do well to ignore it. Writing is such an intimate, personal thing that I find it arrogant to be dogmatic about the rules that govern it. And that’s just the point—you can’t govern writing and expect it to flourish. You can browbeat writing into a certain form,but usually to its detriment.

Writing, particularly in the early stages, must be free to find its own way, characters and narrative swirling together, sometimes contradicting, sprawling along the pages like splattered paint on a canvas. Ah, but see, I’ve just crossed myself. Even that is a rule in itself. For every writer who finds it easier to write with such freedom, there is another who must agonize over each word. Who am I to instruct them otherwise?

There’s certainly nothing wrong with searching for and giving out instruction. It’s vital, in fact. However, the teacher must impart knowledge with the understanding that it’s not gospel. And the student must learn to take what they need and leave the rest behind.

It took me a long time to learn this. One of my greatest joys is reading books about writing, hoping to hone my own craft, but there was a time when I would try to implement every piece of writing advice I received.Writing being what it is, these instructions often contradicted each other, leaving this poor novice at a loss. When I finally learned the lesson presented here, a burden lifted from my shoulders and my writing markedly improved. I was no longer trying to write like someone else…I was writing like me!

The bottom line is, there is no universal technique for anything in the world of writing – it is all relative. So while authors should search for help and guidance, and be open to constructive criticism, they should also critique the criticism and realize they alone are going to be responsible for their success. They are unique writers with unique talents and should strive to find their own voice on paper. And now, before I shoot off into cyberspace, I’d like to thank all of you for visiting and would encourage you to show your support of this fine blog by commenting, bookmarking, and visiting often!

JYTBB: We would like to thank Jack for stopping by for a guest post. Being writers ourselves, we really enjoyed this one. If you'd like to know more about Jack's book, don't forget to check out these links:

Official Website
Facebook Fan Page
Find it on Amazon
YouTube Channel

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Review - City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare

City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare
Book Two in the Mortal Instrument Series

Clary Fray just wishes that her life would go back to normal. But what's normal when you're a demon-slaying Shadowhunter, your mother is in a magically induced coma, and you can suddenly see Downworlders like werewolves, vampires, and faeries? If Clary left the world of the Shadowhunters behind, it would mean more time with her best friend, Simon, who's becoming more than a friend. But the Shadowhunting world isn't ready to let her go -- especially her handsome, infuriating, newfound brother, Jace. And Clary's only chance to help her mother is to track down rogue Shadowhunter Valentine, who is probably insane, certainly evil -- and also her father.

To complicate matters, someone in New York City is murdering Downworlder children. Is Valentine behind the killings -- and if he is, what is he trying to do? When the second of the Mortal Instruments, the Soul-Sword, is stolen, the terrifying Inquisitor arrives to investigate and zooms right in on Jace. How can Clary stop Valentine if Jace is willing to betray everything he believes in to help their father?


You know when you get into a series and you have to think if the next one will even meet the expectations? That's something you won't have to worry about with this one. City of Ashes completely delivers! There is so much going on in this series, all the twists and turns, I stayed up almost all night to finish it. I think my love for this series is not only the incredible writing, but the fact that it's written in third person as well. It's awesome to be able to see other characters and get a better feel for them this way instead of only seeing them through one person's eyes.

All the main characters are still great. You have to admire the humor in this story. I do believe Simon is hands down the number one best friend any girl could have in their lives. The guy deserves a freakin' medal. While some characters made me want to shake them due to their actions and reactions on things (i.e. Clary and Jace). It also made me think of them as more normal because of it too. I wasn't for sure how to take their relationship either. (I kept referring it to a Flowers in the Attic type deal.) But after I put down the book, I realized how much I love the forbidden relationship. Valentine is also one of the best villains too.

Basically this series is just WOW! The plot line is wonderful with the mix of some many other things. I love how mythology and some parts of Christianity have been spread throughout it. If you haven't picked up City of Ashes yet then I am ordering you to RUN to the nearest bookstore and grab yourself a copy!


Saturday, August 1, 2009

Interview with R.A. Riekki

Can you tell us a little bit about your book?

Wow, where to begin? Maybe I'll let some others do that for me--

MC Serch, Def Jam recording artist from Third Bass who was the executive producer for Nas's Illmatic ('s best CD of all time) and host of VH1's The (White) Rapper Show, said, "R.A. Riekki is a talented and heartfelt writer who puts you not only in his world but in his neighborhood through his words and writing. His story is one of finding your self and figuring your place in the world. It is brilliant, funny, and sharp. A great read." And Ann Beattie, author of more than a dozen books and selected by John Updike for Best American Short Stories of the Century, said of U.P., "I love it. It is the most unworkshop-like novel I can imagine, and every word--every comma--rings true. It's got a little bit of rap and a whole lot of soul. Please: can we now stop reading A Separate Peace and read U.P.?"

MC Serch and Ann Beattie--I love the diversity of those who've enjoyed reading U.P. Steven Wiig from (ex-Metallica member) Jason Newsted's new band Papa Wheelie told me he loved the novel and a sixty-year-old woman from my hometown told my mother that she liked the writing as well. That was something I didn't suspect, the broad range of appeal the book's gotten. In fact, the novel has been Ghost Road Press's bestseller in fiction for 23 weeks. I think I braced myself for negativity, but so far it's been an exceptionally positive reception. I figured metalheads, punks, and hip-hop fans would like it because there are so many references to those forms of music--like if Nick Hornby's High Fidelity was less R&B and rock and instead cranked to 11 like it was written by Spinal Tap and Chuck Palahniuk. The response by music fans has really helped it to sell, but I was excited to find that the audience was bigger than a music fan cult following. Although it's still a pretty underground book--it's on Ghost Road Press and they specialize in that sort of underground, cult, transgressive fiction, alternative voice, which is why they've signed some really cool writers like Douglass Brinkley (Vanity Fair contributor), John Bullock (author of Making Faces), and Rafael Alvarez (writer for HBO's The Wire).

Have you always wanted to be a writer?

I think the other option--being illiterate--would not be appealing. Maybe I'm being too literal with your question, but I think everyone wants to be a writer to a certain extent. I think where "writer" took on greater importance for me though was when I was in the military, especially during DesertStorm, as I had no other way to communicate with friends and family. They shut off the phone lines so all we had was writing, so its level of importance skyrocketed for me.
I taught at a prison for a bit and I think my military experiences helped me to understand how important writing was to the prisoners, that it would greatly increase their ability to communicate with their own friends and family in the outside world because their options were so limited.

What were some of the difficulties in writing U.P.?

No difficulties. It was fun. I wrote it in a week, the first draft. I'd just broken up with a girlfriend and moved to Charlottesville to start the MFA Program at UVa and I didn't know a soul there, so I had nothing else to do. I spent 12 hour days hacking away in the upstairs of some frat kid's apartment that he subleased to me for $200 a month. I loved that week, just writing like crazy, allowing the characters' voices to come out. I spent two years rewriting it in the Virginia program, getting feedback from people like John Casey, Christopher Tilghman, and Sydney Blair. If you don't like the book, blame them. They helped me with the directions I took the rewrites.

Did the story change much from the first draft to the final one?


The voices did though. I went through and tried to further differentiate between the four voices. And some of the experimentalism to the form got pulled back. I had some crazy fonts I was using and stuff like that and took those out. But the story is basically the same from the first draft. A bully does a cruel act to one of the main characters at the beginning of the novel and a revenge plot unfolds. Imagine if Shakespeare knew nothing about Senecan tragedy or Marlowe and instead listened to a lot of The Subhumans and Public Enemy and liked Irvine Welsh and maybe you'll get a feel for U.P.

How did the idea of U.P. come about?

Columbine happened and a relative of mine brought a gun to school. Those two events had me thinking about teen violence and the lies of masculinity that a lot of males buy into. I wanted to understand the violence I saw in high school, how normalized it is, how much of it happens with very little punishment, and--even worse--how much of it happens with encouragement. People who've enjoyed the book have told me how much they relate to the characters, how they've seen these kids over and over in real life, but not represented on the page. I think that was one of the reasons I had trouble placing U.P. with a New York publisher--so many of those agents it seems to me are more interested in upper class, nanny-having, New Yorker shopping enthusiast characters who go on vacation to India and own beach homes. A writer friend of mine once told me that if you want to get a book published, write one about rich people taking a trip to India and have them worry a lot about stuff that doesn't really matter . . . When you set a book inside America with lower class struggles, those agents don't relate. When I found out Matt Davis at Ghost Road has a bunch of tattoos, I was like, "OK, I see why he likes U.P." He didn't go to an Ivy League school and spend Christmases in the Bahamas. Ghost Road is a Denver press. They publish authors with some bite, like American Book Award winner Aaron A. Abeyta. That's why I love alternative presses like Ghost Road Press, Soft Skull Press, Graywolf Press--those publishers are helping to encourage voices operating outside of the mainstream Stephenie Meyer Dan Brown James Patterson fluff for books with real pulses, real messages, real characters.

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

Two producers have talked to me about turning U.P. into a real quality indy film, so I'm working on the screenplay. I'm excited by the names of people (actors/directors) who have been mentioned/expressed interest as they are associated with some of my favorite indy movies of all time. So we'll see what happens.

Ghost Road has also talked about a further three book deal with me, so we're discussing that possibility. Ghost Road has already read and approved the books, so they're already written, but now there are some contractual issues I won't bore you with. Another publisher has shown some interest in a fifth novel and a theater in Chicago called Ruckus has said they're interested in a future production of my play All Saints' Day. I'm also working on another screenplay and have some other things in the works as well. It will be interesting to see what comes to fruition. The writing life is definitely peaks and valleys. Right now is a bit of a peak.

You can check out more about Ron's book, U.P. at the Ghost Road Press website.