Author, author! Meeting a favorite writer in person!

photo of Terra McVoy & Katy Manck (c)Katy Manck

Terra & Katy at Little Shop of Books in Decatur, Georgia!

It’s her,
it’s really her!

So cool to finally meet Terra Elan McVoy in person at Little Shop of Stories in Decatur, Georgia yesterday!

Terra is a bookseller, author, and generally all-around fun gal – be sure to read her novels set in the Atlanta area: After the Kiss (an early BooksYALove recommendation), Being Friends With Boys  (my notes here), and Criminal  (my review here).

I have her most-recent book In Deep on my nightstand right now, but just cannot force myself to turn the page – I don’t want Brenn to make that bad decision!! (But Terra said that we know she’ll do it)

Have you met an author in person lately?

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Soul still here? Meet Me at the River, by Nina de Gramont (book review)

book cover of Meet Me at the River by Nina de Gramont published by Atheneum Books for Young ReadersMoving past grief means leaving Luke behind.
Tressa just can’t do that,
but she can’t find peace among the living either. read my recommendation

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When you need to know How To Survive a Sharknado… (book review)

book cover of How to Survive a Sharknado by Andrew ShafferMongolian Death Worm? Not my continent.
Sharktopus? Ain’t near the beach.
Firenado? Uh-oh, we’re in a high-risk area!

Whether you’re a fan of the Syfy TV-movie or just want to be prepared for every possible (or improbable) emergency, read more about it!

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In the multiverse, A Thousand Pieces of You seeking me; by Claudia Gray (book review)

book cover of A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray published by HarperTeenEach choice you make creates a fork in time,
a new path in the multiverse through history –
Which dimension holds Meg’s happiness? Read more about this new book

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Dead-on books for Dia de los Muertos

Stories about making people dead aren’t as interesting to me as the ones that talk about – or to – the dead. For Dia de los Muertos, a pair of dead/not-dead tales from the BooksYALove shelves.

I know you’re dying to see them

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Haunted high schools… double scary books!

High school can be frightful for some folks, and when you add in some ghosts who never graduate… just plain spooky! Tread the haunted halls in these BooksYALove faves (and watch your back)… This way to scary school stories

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Scary book pair #2 – enemies seen and unseen

Another pair of scary BooksYALove favorites for the witching season: if blood-spatter and dire peril aren’t your thing, search the tag cloud (over there on right) for something else!

Click to read about these gory titles, now in paperback

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Somewhat scary & completely wonderful: spooky season books pair #1

Y’all know that I cannot read horror books; my imagination is just too good and needs no super-terrifying prompts.

I can take on scary tales in measured doses and do love mysteries, of course..

So as we count down the days till Hallowe’en, check out BooksYALove favorites to get you ghoul and ready for some frights! Today’ pair, future based on past inequities and past predicting the future: Click for today’s titles

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DNFs, train wrecks, and award season = reviewer fatigue!

photo of sunlight through aspens (c) Katy Manck

Aspens at Grand Mesa, Colorado, Sept. 2014

Sometimes you just need to get away from it all, right?

But for this avid reader and intrepid book reviewer, the “stepping away for a little while” got a bit lengthier than planned.

A combination of factors is usually the culprit – simple burnout, outside distractions, and so forth.

But this time around, it’s been harder than normal to get back in the book recommending groove despite my best intentions.

Y’all know that I try hard to choose books outside the big bestsellers and copycat stuff for BooksYALove. But sometimes, things just don’t go the way I expect.

Like when… a book gets noticed by the big wide world before I can craft just the right no-spoilers booktalk to post = Revolution  by Deborah Wiles, a compelling novel about young people in Jim Crow days during the summer of Voting Rights activists coming to Mississippi.

Darned if those National Book Award folks wouldn’t wait till I’d finished writing my recommendation before they announced it as a 2014 finalist!  So I won’t write here about Revolution,  but will urge you to read it along with Deborah’s post on NerdyBookClub talking about how some vital things have hardly changed in Greenwood since that pivotal summer of 1964. (Luckily, I already raved here about John Corey Whaley’s Noggin  which is also a finalist)

Like when… books that sounded so good, so interesting, and so worth reading turn out to be flops. I have very wide-ranging reading tastes and am very selective about requesting review copies, so I can almost always think of someone I know who would love such-and-such book (not every book is for every reader, of course).

But a few titles in a row lately have just been flat-out duds, due to writing that needed stronger editing (no, that girl isn’t poignantly introspective; she’s a whiner) or pop references which are already dated. If I knew who’d written the jacket-flap copy on some others, I’d give them a piece of my mind as the book in my hands bore no resemblance to their description of plot, motivation, etc. Yep, I finally have some DidNotFinish titles, despite my best efforts to choose ones worth our time to read.

Like when… I just can’t turn the page because I know that a character I’ve become emotionally invested in is about to do something incredibly stupid – it’s like watching a train wreck about to happen. A couple of books are waiting on me to be ready for the inevitable outcome – great books, but I’m not yet ready to uncover my eyes and let those characters go and live with their bad decisions. I will, and y’all will get the recommendations of these books, but not right this minute.

Like when… I couldn’t get to KidLitCon blogger conference this year, so I missed my current and new Kidlitosphere friends, all the great discussions about Diversity in YAlit and Kidlit, and the refreshed attitude toward blogging that this gathering always gives me.

Like when… we really are on vacation – watching the aspens turn golden or discovering an orchard stand with heirloom apple varieties is more important than jumping into someone’s fictional world.

So… a little breather, some homemade apple pie, some visits with family and I’ll be back. My To-Be-Reviewed pile has some dandy books which will be published in winter and spring, and you won’t want to miss them!


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Curses and Smoke, by Vicky Alvear Shecter (book review) – love, class conflicts, Pompeii

book cover of Curses and Smoke by Vicky Alvear Shecter published by Arthur A LevineOld gods and older gods,
gladiators and slaves,
Pompeii is prosperous and proud…

Enjoy Curses and Smoke for its glimpses into the port city’s everyday life, its recounting of the weird phenomena observed prior to Vesuvius’ most famous eruption, its love story between owner and owned.

Forget not the past…

Book info: Curses and Smoke: a Novel of Pompeii. Vicky Alvear Shecter. Arthur A Levine Books, 2014.  [author site]  [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: As handsome Tag returns to her father’s gladiator school at Pompeii, Lucia’s unease about her upcoming marriage to an old man and the recent loss of her mother are echoed by the earth’s tremors.

It was different when Lucia was a little girl roaming the hillsides and Tages was the medical slave’s small son at her side, before he was sent away to learn the healing arts in Rome, before her mother’s untimely death, before these sulfurous emanations near Vesuvius began.

As Lucia tries to break her betrothal to elderly Vitulius and Tag tries to cure his father’s failing memory, rich young Quintus arrives at the school to play at being a gladiator – with a hidden agenda.

Is there any way for Lucia to escape her dreaded marriage?
Can Tag ever end his captivity in the gladiator school?
Are the old Estruscan gods angry that Romans took their sacred grounds at Pompeii?
Why will no one listen to Lucia’s ideas about the strange things happening?

A richly detailed story of love, loss, and the human spirit fighting against the inevitable. (One of 6,000 books recommended on

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