Archives for posts with tag: books

natl-book-fest-20151So this year I was very lucky and got the opportunity to attend the National Book Festival in Washington, D.C.  A friend of mine was already going for her job and offered to let me tag along.

I have some pretty awesome friends.

So first of all we got to hang out in D.C.  Which I love.  Seriously, one of my favorite cities I’ve ever been to.  So much history and culture and gorgeousness!

20150904_161543 20150904_180433 20150904_223245

I mean, check out that amazing D.C. architecture!

But I’m getting ahead of myself.  First of all there was the plane ride…

20150904_070105Where it looked like the plane was being held together with duct tape (special plane tape I know, I know, but still.  not super comforting.)

Which is why it was a good thing that I had my traveling snacks!

20150904_103634Just the essentials.

So we got to D.C. and hit the hotel.  Which, it turned out, was smack in the middle of Chinatown.

20150905_230458Can you tell?

Then it was off for a quick stop at National Mall where we strolled through the sculpture garden:

20150904_153134 20150904_153236

And hit the Natural Museum of Natural History:



Older rawr!

Older rawr!

You can actually watch real life scientists working inside the museum which I think is wicked cool!!!

You can actually watch real life scientists working inside the museum which I think is wicked cool!!!

Indoor beehive that lets out into the mall so the bees can come and go and help keep the nearby flower gardens going!

Indoor beehive that lets out into the mall so the bees can come and go and help keep the nearby flower gardens going!

It's a blob of rock!

It’s a blob of rock!

That? Oh that's just the Hope diamond. No big whoop...

That? Oh that’s just the Hope diamond. No big whoop…

And then there was this guy:


Neat, fun, nerdy story about the elephant.  Saw the Smithsonian tweeting about him earlier that day because he’d been off display for a while getting a new base to stand on.  He’d just gone up that day!  Even going to D.C. I never actually thought I’d be there, seeing him in person.  Or tweeting about it and having the Smithsonian tweet back at me!!! How cool is that?!?

Okay, so I’m a huge nerd, but at least I know and accept that.

Then we took a stop at the art museum (for like 30 minutes…)



Why do almost all women in old artwork constantly have to have their boob hanging out? Surely this is not how women of the past used to read....

Why do almost all women in old artwork constantly have to have their boob hanging out? Surely this is not how women of the past used to read….

Totally studied this portrait of Marie Antoinette in British Art at UTA! Go Mavs!

Totally studied this portrait of Marie Antoinette in British Art at UTA! Go Mavs!

So really, how many times have you seen this statue of Romulus and Remus? I mean, it's pretty much the first thing that comes to mind when I think of the story and now here it is! Right there in person!

So really, how many times have you seen this statue of Romulus and Remus? I mean, it’s pretty much the first thing that comes to mind when I think of the story and now here it is! Right there in person!

Then it was off to the hotel to get cute for the night, but first, a quick stop in Canada!


I have a friend from Canada so when we were passing right next to the embassy and had the chance to send a selfie from Canadian soil, how could I pass up the chance?!  Eh?

More next time on the gala event (which was so awesome!) and the festival itself.  See you then!!!

I really need to learn how to take selfies...

I really need to learn how to take selfies…


So I’ve been thinking about this on and off for a little while now, and then I had a conversation a few weeks ago that made it stick in my mind even more.

If you know me, you know that I’m quite the Pinterest frequenter, and of course I pin book things all the time.  Well, one of the things that pops up in my feed is bookcase pictures.  Some are cut into really neat shapes or painted in cool ways, but all too often I get pictures like this:

bookcase 1

Neat, right?  Behind the stuff on your shelf, you can see a map of the world painted.  Well, sure, if you only own a couple dozen books.  But my bookshelves look more like this:

IMG_3904You know what you can see behind my other books?  MORE BOOKS!!!  Yeah, I don’t really have enough space for you to see a cool design back there or a bright splash of color…

(P.S. Click on any of the pictures – that aren’t of my bookcases – to get to the seller or, in the case of the next pic, the blog it comes from!!)

And that brings me to the next picture…

bookcase 2

Again, pretty color, and again, not that many books.  A lot of the pictures that pop up through Pinterest are like this, too.  They show you really cool ways to organize and decorate a book case.  I mean, look at all the cool picture frames and nicknacks and sculpture pieces and organizing baskets that Kate @ Centsational Girl girl did!  She’s got a knack for finding great deals and putting them together in creative ways to make awesome stuff.

And I’ve seen a ton of posts about what shelf should house which nicknacks, which one for picture frames, and which one for books.  Which ONE for books???

Um, here’s my bookcase with nicknacks and picture frames…

IMG_3906They’re all tossed together up there on the top shelf, while everything else is stuffed full of books!  Again, if you look closely, you can see the second row behind the first on each of the shelves, and if you look not too closely you can see the books I don’t have room for stacked on top of the others!

As far as organization?  MOST of the books up front are the ones I haven’t read yet (with maybe 4 or 5 exceptions).  The ones at the back are the ones I’ve already read, but might want to reread or loan out.

Or how about this shelf?

IMG_39091. This used to be a microwave stand

2. The bottom door broke off so I ghetto-rigged it…

3. Organization goes as follows:  Books to the left of Lovecraft are ones that need to be loaned the next time I see the person they’re intended for.  Books from Lovecraft right are ones I haven’t read yet.  All those books you see on top?  Yeah, those are all the ones that other people have loaned me that I need to read and get back to them.  (That stack plus my loaners are missing some because they’re sitting on my table in a bag, waiting to go to Anne tomorrow!  Hi Anne!!!)

Oh, and behind the dark curtain of a door lie the books that I disliked SOOOO much that they’re going back to Half Price.  They stay hidden until I get a big enough stack 🙂

And then there are the bookends.  I LOVE bookends!  They’re so nifty and inventive!  Just check these bad boys out!!!

bookend 1bookends 2

But again, what would I do with those?  Bookends are made for people with a few books siting on a decorative wall shelf.  Not for me.

OR for people that want just a few books sitting in the middle of one shelf of a bookcase.  And I think we’ve established by now that that’s not me either.

IMG_3910Which brings me to my last bookshelf.  Yes, there ARE some DVDs taking up one whole shelf in there, GASP!  And candles, puppy pic, piggy banks, a pen jar…  But this shelf has ABSOLUTELY no organization beyond that!  When I was discussing bookshelves with my friends they were all lamenting that they wouldn’t know what to put on a bookshelf, because they didn’t know what books would be pretty enough to display.   Um…display?  Believe it or not, I did mini-tidyups on all 4 of these bookshelves before snapping pics of them!  To me, a bookshelf should be a display of all the things you love to read (that you didn’t download onto an ereader).  And if you want pretty books, buy hardcovers and take the slipcovers off.  But really, when you read/buy/trade/borrow/write as many books as I do…ain’t nobody got time for that!!

So what do you guys do?  Are your bookcases all nice and pretty?  Do you have just a dozen or so books, sparsely placed among nicknacks and artwork?  Or are you like me, and constantly running out of space on your shelves and begging for more??? (My husband is building me another one, by the way, I just don’t know where to put it!!)

Let me know your thoughts in the comments down below!!

So turns out, I read a lot of books in 2013.  I mean a LOT.  62 in fact, according to Goodreads.  So what else is there to do but do a Top Ten list of my favorite reads of 2013?

Nothing, that’s what 🙂

So, without further adieu:

My Top 10 Reads of 2013 (in no particular order)

1.Bad Girls Don’t Die by Katie Alender

353 pages

Reminded me of: The Uninvited (movie)

6 bad girls don't die

So this is one of those books that I put off reading for a long time.  I picked it up over and over at the book store, but for some reason it just never clicked enough for me to buy it.  But then I saw this:

I know I’ve mentioned this book trailer before, but it really is a piece of greatness, and also pretty effective since it got me convinced to finally give this series a go.

The thing is, I don’t normally do ghost stories.  A lot of time they’re just not that great and they don’t pull off what a good ghost story is supposed to do: scare you!  But this one…man this one pulled it off.  Creepy backstories, possessions, scary freaking dolls…this book is like reading a good scary movie.  Actually gave me chills and I already picked up the next one! 🙂

“I’m a giant pimple on the face of humanity.”

2. By The Time You Read This I’ll Be Dead by Julie Anne Peters

225 pages

Reminded me of: Thriteen Reasons Why by James Asher, After by Amy Efaw

6 by the time you read this i'll be deadThis is another one I’ve seen floating around for a while, but I’ve never been able to find it at Half Price (with an addiction like mine, you can’t afford to pay full price for every book you want to read).

This book tells the story of a girl who, after several failed suicide attempts, has found a website for “completers”.  She signs up to follow their plan, giving her less than a month to work through any doubts she might have to finally seal the deal.  Only now, of all times, someone is reaching out to her, trying to find their way inside her severely damaged and well-built shell.  A relatively quick read, I wouldn’t suggest this one if you’re squeamish on bullying issues or, obviously, suicide.  It was definitely blunt and a bit harsh about both issues.  I felt like the story was incredibly well done, and that the potential love-interest was awesome in that he wasn’t a typical book-boyfriend.  He challenges Daelyn in ways that are so perfect and yet completely dorky all at the same time.

“Everything seems to be working.” Except me. I’m broken.”

3. Darker Still by Leanna Renee Hieber

336 pages

Reminded me of: The Hourglass Door Trilogy by Lisa Mangum, The Witches by Roald, Twilight by Stephenie Meyer (in a good way!)

6 darker stillOkay, so this one was definitely my guilty pleasure book of the bunch.  One, it’s got a boy trapped in a painting, the idea of which has freaked me out ever since watching the movie adaptation of The Witches when I was a kid.  That, and you have some mystical, passionate romance going on with awesome gowns and a hunky, troubled boy.  I mean, who doesn’t love that??  Really, it’s not THE most amazing book ever, but if you like paranormal romance, the heat in this one will bump it up a while star level on your own personal scale.  Trust me 😉

“I was in love. With a two-dimensional object. A mute in love with a painting. Lovely. Just lovely.”

4. Divergent by Veronica Roth

501 pages

Reminded me of: Twilight and The Hunger Games (This series is the next big thing in YA movie adaptations unless they screw it up!)

6 Divergent_16So yes, I finally broke down and got around to reading this book, and of course I loved it.  Still haven’t made my way into the sequel, mostly because I’ve been reading other things, but a little bit because I’m still scared of how this series will end.  Too many people were NOT happy with it.  That said, the first book was fast-paced, intense, unique, had GREAT sexual tension and adventure.  And I have to say, unlike Harry Potter where you read it and most people immediately lean towards Gryffindor because that’s where your main character lives, this book almost immediately made me say no.  No.  I will NOT be Dauntless.  I like to NOT jump off of buildings and get beat up, thanks! 🙂

“Peter would probably throw a party if I stopped breathing.”

“Well,” he says, ‘I would only go if there was cake.”

5. My Fair Godmother by Janette Rallison

319 pages

Reminded me of: Prom Dates From Hell by Rosemary Clement-Moore, Beastly (movie.  Haven’t read the book yet.)6 my fair godmotherFirst of all, I LOVE stories where a superficial character gets the chance to make something more of themselves.  So many of the YA books (especially paranormal) are about the deep, misunderstood, loner outcast.  I love a good story where someone who’s never had to try that hard in life gets the opportunity to become something more and then takes it.  That is Savannah.  It may not be easy going the whole way, but it’s worth it to ride to the end.

Besides wonderful ways in which the title works as a double entendre (Chrissy isn’t a wonderful fairy godmother, just a fair one.), this book is absolutely hilarious.  Don’t believe me?  Have a couple of quotes:

“Adults are constantly telling teenagers that it’s what’s on the inside that matters. It’s always painful to find out that adults have lied to you.”

or “Aren’t fairy godmothers supposed to be nice and make you feel better about yourself?
She rolled her eyes.  “No, you’re confusing fairy godmothers with sales clerks.”

And finally: “…elves who write the memoirs of teenage girls have the unfortunate habit of returning to the magical realm with atrocious grammar….and for no apparent reason occasionally call out the name Edward Cullen.”

See?  Fun and quirky 🙂

6. Prom Dates from Hell by Rosemary Clement-Moore

322 pages

Reminded me of: My Fair Godmother by Janette Rallison, Generation Dead by Daniel Waters, Percy Jackson by Rick Riordan

6 prom dates from hellAs I’ve mentioned before, the reason I finally got around to picking up this book is that the author was coming to our Teen Writing group at the library and I wanted to read something of hers before she got there.

And again, I absolutely loved it and should have started this series a long time ago!  Maggie Quinn is one of the most entertaining, sarcastic characters you’ll ever meet.  I seriously don’t think I’ve laughed as much over a fictional character since reading Percy Jackson.  The story moves at just the right pace, and has just the right amount of action.

“My major vice is sarcasm with a side of caffeine addiction.”

7. The Dead by Charlie Higson

484 pages

Reminded me of: The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan, Everlost by Neal Shusterman

6 the deadSo I love every book in this entire series, but the only reason I’m picking this one over the others is that it was the first one I read (even though it is the 2nd in the series.)  Also, this one is the first book I’ve read in a long time that reminds me of Everlost, which has become perhaps my favorite YA book of all time.

The series follows groups of  kids around London as they fight off a zombie plague that has hit only those 16 and older.  The books also layer in interesting ways, some happening right before or right after the ending of the previous book.  The series is also an example of head-hopping done right, with the audience getting to experience the story for all different sides, which makes the action scenes (which happen a lot!) that much more dramatic, and makes things that much more shocking when one of the kids dies (which also happens a lot).

And if you’re not a big fan of gore in your zombie books, this one is a good choice, because even in the gross parts you can generally skip to the next paragraph and you’ve missed absolutely nothing but the gross stuff 😉

“Even after everything that happens, when the whole world changes forever, when everyone knows that the video wasn’t a hoax but the start of something terrible, people remember the Scared Kid. His poor frightened little face.

It’s like the last thing everyone saw before the lights went out.”

8. The Selection by Kiera Cass

352 pages

Reminded me of: I think the blurb on the book does it best: It’s the Bachelor meets The Hunger Games. (Even though I don’t watch the Bachelor…)

6 the selectionSo I’m a little annoyed at my friend for getting me interested in a series that hasn’t freaking completed yet!  Now I’m sitting around, like thousands of others, waiting for The One to come out so I can finally see how this thing turns out!!

The reality TV aspect of a search for a princess was a neat twist to your classic love triangle story.  Now you’ve got a girl that’s trying to compete for a prince that she’s not even that interested in.  And while you want to hate Prince Maxon for some of the shenanigans going on around the castle, you also have to remember that the poor kid is learning how to date for the first time on national television.  No pressure!

Also the awkward moments and misunderstandings in this series are just generally funnier and better written than most that you run into in these YA romances.  Definitely a good read, but I’d understand if you want to wait until the last one comes out.  Heck, maybe things will finally work out with the CW and they stinking pick up the pilot for this series! (They’ve turned two pilots down so far…)

“I hit your thigh!”
“Oh, please. A man doesn’t need that long to recover from a knee to the thigh.”

9. The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith

242 pages

Reminded me of: Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins, My Fair Godmother by Janette Rallison

6 the statistical probability of love at first sightNow, while I may want to kill my special friend for getting me interested in The Selection, I guess I’ll have to thank her for getting me hooked on this lovely little stand-alone.

Honestly I almost never read contemporary YA.  If it’s just a book about how to find a boyfriend or what snarky things the group of mean girls is doing at school, I’m probably not interested. (Honestly, the only thing to get me interested in a Sarah Dessen book was listening to her talk about how the boyfriend in Dreamland starts beating on his girlfriend and I went, “Ooh…I should read that!)  But with this book it’s not just a love story about a boy and girl who meet on a plane, it’s also about both of them coming to grips with incredibly difficult father issues, and learning what it means to make mature decisions about your own life.  I mean, Hadley’s on her way to be a bridesmaid for the woman that was her dad’s mistress and is about to be his wife.  Can you blame her for being grumpy and not wanting to go???

Really touching and poignant.  Good, fast read!

“It’s one thing to run away when someone’s chasing you. It’s entirely another to be running all alone.”

10. Variant by Robison Wells

400 pages

Reminded me of: Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins, Pulse by Patrick Carman

6 variantAh, Variant.  Can you say “Holy freaking plot twist, Batman?!?!?!?!”  Seriously, I can’t even begin to describe to you how awesome this plot twist is and I can’t tell you about it or it will ruin everything.  It’s like when I had to convince my friend to read Catching Fire because the games were the only part of The Hunger Games that she even liked!  I had to just promise her that the plot twist in the middle would make it all worth it.

Trust me, this one’s worth getting to.

So this one’s (initially) about a boy selected to go to a super-cool private school, even though he’s a nobody foster kid.  Except, oh wait, there’s no adults here and everyone’s trapped upon penalty of death.  Oops.  Did we forget to mention that in the brochure?  Now Benson has to navigate your typical high school cliques, with the added bonus that if you make a wrong move you might end up in detention…where you die.  No biggie, right?  Then, and oh my freaking goodness, there’s a huge plot twist and everything gets turned on it’s head!  Ahhhh!  Read it and we’ll discuss! 🙂

” ‘This isn’t one of those scare-you-straight schools, is it?’ I asked Ms. Vaughn, as we passed through the heavy chain-link gate. ”

And of course I can’t JUST do 10 books!  I did reread a few books this year, but my favorite that I reread was:

Everlost by Neal Shusterman

340 pages

Reminded me of: The Dead by Charlie Higson, Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer

6 everlost-coverOkay, so I won’t go on and on and on and on and on about this book, even though you know I could.  But this year I decided to reread this book and I’m seriously glad I did.  Not only did I get to meet the author of said book in person (EEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!), but it also solidified in my mind a question.

One of the author panels at the Austin Teen Book Festival asked this question:  If you could be any character in YA, who would you be and why?  Of course there was a Hermione in there and a couple more interesting ones, but as I sat there thinking about it I realized, I actually had an answer for that one. I actually had an all-time favorite female character of my very own:

Ally the Outcast.
Seriously.  I love her spunk, I love that she doesn’t take the partyline for an answer, and I love that she knows right off the bat that Mary Queen of Snots is not to be trusted.

This is a clever and fascinating story of children trapped as ghosts, and it offers explanations from every thing to what happened to the Twin Towers when they fell to why you see ghost repeating the same actions all the time.  If I’m lucky, someday I’ll write something as awesome as this 😉

“And next to Allie, the screamer, once more reminded of his job, began to wail in Allie’s ear. Reflexively Allie clapped her hand over his mouth. “That,” she said, “is totally uncalled for. Don’t do that again. Ever.” The screamer looked at her with worried eyes. “Are we clear on this subject?” said Allie. The screamer nodded and she removed her hand.
“Can I scream a little?” he asked.
“No,” said Allie. “Your screaming days are over.”
“Darn.” And he was quiet thereafter.”

And, since all of these so far have been Young Adult books (I know, shocker), here’s my favorite adult book read this year:

Brain on Fire by Susannah Cahalan

290 pages

Reminded me of: The Beggar King and the Secret of Happiness by Joel ben Izzy, Out of Sight, Out of Time by Ally Carter

6 brain on fireThis book is the true story of a girl that went from being relatively average and normal, to acting like a schizophrenic, to a practical waking coma all in the course of a month.  And the bizarre thing is that Susannah Cahalan doesn’t remember any of it.  She’s had to piece things together from friends and family, doctors, and tapes of her in the hospital, recording her outbursts and randomness for Susannah to uncover later, like an archeologist discovering bits of someone else’s life.  Really a fascinating read, and a little scary to tell you the truth.  You never know when your health might utterly fail you, and this book definitely makes you think about it.

“Someone once asked, “If you could take it all back, would you?”
At the time I didn’t know. Now I do. I wouldn’t take that terrible experience back for anything in the world. Too much light has come out of my darkness.”


When my family moved from our home in base housing in Nebraska to a tiny, old town on the edge of the Texas/Oklahoma border, I was not the happiest kid.  Though military family are known for for their constant moves across the country and even across the world, my family had lived in the yellow duplex for over four years, and moving from a place of vibrant seasons and ridiculous snowfalls to a place of pale greens and browns and ice storms was not my ideal.  But over the years, I’ve definitely changed my mind, and I love to call the South my home.yes4

There are any number of reasons I can list for you as to why I love the south.  Southern cooking, warmer winters (usually), Southern hospitality (which can also border on nosiness), and believe it or not, I even love the hot, humid summers! (As long as you have A/C to retreat into!)

But the other day I was reminded of something else I love about living in Texas: Southern black women.  More specifically, older Southern black women.  Here’s what happened:

We’d made a stop at B&N for Black Friday to pick up The 5th Wave (for less than $10!!) and I had to run and make a bathroom stop.  While taking care of business, I heard the following conversation between and younger woman (whom I never actually saw) and an awesome older black woman (who I did see upon leaving):

Young Woman(sounding very flustered): Oh!  I’m sorry!  So sorry!

Awesome Older Black Woman: That’s all right, sweetie!

YW: I’m sorry, I just needed to come in here to check myself.  I’m really nervous!


YW(sounding terrified): It’s my first date, and I’m really nervous about it!

AOBW: Oh, honey, don’t be nervous!  You look great!

YW(a little more relieved):  Thanks.  It’s just…it’s my first date…ever.  This is the first date I’ve ever been on I’m really scared about it!

AOBW(amazed): Don’t be scared!  You’re gonna do great!

YW(reapeatedly): Thank you, thank you…

AOBW: There ain’t nothing to be worried about honey!  You look good and you’re going to have a great time!  Don’t worry about a thing, baby!

YW(sounding much more confident than when she entered):Thank you so much!  Seriously. Thank you.

By the time I got out to wash my hands, Date Girl was already gone and the AOBW was there, smiling away at me.  I won’t lie, I had a little bit of tears in my eyes.  And yes, I do tear up at the most minute of things sometimes (you do NOT want to see me watching the end of Meet the Robinsons or Lilo & Stitch!), but really this little act of kindness made my Black Friday a little brighter and sweeter, even though this didn’t happen to me.  I left saying a small prayer for that poor nervous girl luck, that her first date ever might go better than most, even if nothing ever comes of it.  I’ll never know her name or what she looked like, but I hope everything went okay for her.

One day, about ten years ago, this AOBW that I worked with at the mall, suggested the radical idea to me that maybe I didn’t have to focus just on Biology as a major, and that since I had an interest in writing, I should probably pursue that, too.  Now at the time, I was thinking more along the lines of Journalism – I didn’t think I had the creative skill or dedication to do fictional writing.  Now here I am, working out the story for my 3rd (unpublished) novel, shopping for agents for the first, and waiting on the 2nd to finish marinating in its first-draftiness so that I can pull it back out and work on the next round.  I volunteer with the local library’s Night Owls Teen Writing Group, helping teenagers to explore the joy of creative writing, and really learning scads from them on how not to put limits on your own creativity, that when you get a “create your own fictional religion” assignment, it’s much more fun to think up an epic, heavenly battle between the Waffle God and the rebellious Pancakes than the idea I came up with.

Whenever I think of that AOBW I worked with, who helped set me on the right path more than she will ever know, I say a little prayer for her, too.  Like so many coworkers of days gone by, I cannot remember her name, but I’m grateful to her and her Southern Hospitality, and that little bit of pushiness to convince me to get over my own insecurities and just enjoys things instead.  So to all the Awesome, Older, Southern Black Women out there, I say you rock, and God bless 🙂



Okay, I’ll admit it…

I’ve finally gotten sucked into the Divergent hype and this stupid book is keeping me from sleep!

Sure, that might not sound like much of a problem,  but here’s some reasons why it is:

  1. This series is only 3 books long. This means I need to read SLOWLY in order to get the most out of it.  So far, not so good.
  2. While yes, I did wait to start reading it until the 3rd one had been released, it was only released a few weeks ago, which means it’s still expensive and I may have to put off buying it for a while.
  3. While I’ve been avoiding spoilers as much as I can, I do know that a lot of people were not thrilled with the way the book series ended which makes me nervous…
  4. AND, it makes me nervous that someone is going to ruin it all for me.  It’s the reason I had to rush through HP when I read it, too…
  5. Also, it’s bedtime now.  No, correction, it was bedtime an hour ago.  But since the hubby went to bed early, I decided to stay up and read some more.  Now all I want to do is keep reading, but that means I won’t get anything done tomorrow, and I’m trying to get back into working out more and get this dang 2nd book written so slacking off is NOT an option.

Sigh.  All 1st world problems, I know.  Poor me, huh?  Even still, it IS nice to be hooked on something new.  One of those things that flows easily, has the right amount of action, intrigue, and danger all mixed in with just a smattering of kissing to make your heart go melt.   So, 70 pgs left to go, and I’m making myself go to bed.  Divergent, I will see you in the morning.




So this past weekend my husband and I celebrated our 2nd wedding anniversary by traveling down to Austin for the Texas Book Festival.   It’s a free event held every year down at the capitol (like, IN the capitol building), but unlike the Teen Book Festival, it covers everything from cooking to memoir to fantasy to history.  Of course, I was only there for the Young Adult authors, but still 🙂  And I have to say it was an interesting experience getting to sit in say the House Chamber and listen to R.L. freaking Stine talk and read a scary story.  I mean come on!

It was amazing! 🙂 🙂


So, first off let’s talk about the goodies!!!

Here’s my array of free things I picked up this weekend…

IMG_3852 IMG_3860So the poster, of course, was from the Neal Shusterman signing, and this is my favorite series EVER, so of course I had to pick this one 🙂  (and yes, that is his signature there on the left!)

Also, I got stickers and a bookmark from Kami Garcia, bookmarks from Aprilynne Pike, Jessica Khoury, postcards, and yes, even TWO free books and a free sampler book from Penguin!!!  How freaking awesome is that?!?

IMG_3854Next we’re on to the new books I picked up.  Of course, I had to get Unsouled, the brand, spanking new one from Neal Shusterman and Scorpion Shards which is one of the few books of his I haven’t read yet.  And Beautiful Chaos, the next one I needed to own in the Caster series.

Now, you wanna see all the books I got signed???

IMG_3858BAM!  Yes, there are 6 books from Neal Shusterman (My idol!  Plus he signed each in a different color and put a unique message in each one!)  Then we have two from Kami Garcia, Defy the Dark which is the collection of short stories that I just won from Epic Reads about two weeks ago (woohoo!!!  Plus Aprilynne Pike signed her story she wrote!) and last, but certainly not least, we have Switched by R.L. Stine who happened to mention that it was one of his favorite books he’d ever written and he seemed really pleased that that book was the one I chose to have signed 🙂

Also, Neal acted excited when I showed him the upside-down “e” or schwa symbol on the back of my shirt and the Skinjackers reference, too!


Want to see some pics of the authors??? Great!

R.L. Stine!!!

R.L. Stine!!!


Me and Kami Garcia

Me and Kami Garcia

Me and Neal Shusterman!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Me and Neal Shusterman!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And then, to top it all off, Saturday night we got to go listen to R.L. Stine telling ghost stories, in the dark, in a graveyard….WHAT?!?!  My husband said, “Now you can cross this off your bucket list!”  Um, I don’t know of a world in which I would have fathomed that would happen!!!!  But yes, it’s checked off now!  (Sorry there are no pics from that, after all, though, it was in the dark!)

So that’s about it!  I do have a new list of books to add to my “wish list”, including:

Wings by Aprilynne Pike, Entangled by Amy Rose Capetta, Doomed by Tracy Deebs, All These Things I’ve Done by Gabrielle Zevin (Who I apparently had a short by story in ANOTHER book that I didn’t figure out until too late.  Dang!), and Origin by Jessica Khoury.  Good thing Christmas is coming!

And, in closing, here are some random pics from my trip!

Penguin bus!!

Penguin bus!!

HEB cart that you can drive from the kiddie seat!

HEB cart that you can drive from the kiddie seat!

How cute is that??? Get it?  Smarties for smart girls??? :)

How cute is that??? Get it? Smarties for smart girls??? 🙂


Bats at the Congress Street bridge

Bats at the Congress Street bridge

For my momma who's a teacher!

For my momma who’s a teacher!


Inside the capitol

Inside the capitol

Me and the hubby!  Waiting (I think) for R.L. Stine

Me and the hubby! Waiting (I think) for R.L. Stine

These are from the Austin Zoo.  It’s a non-profit that only takes in rescued animals.  You should check it out if you’re in the area!

He really wanted that ball, but it was stuck in the water.  He apparently did NOT want to get wet...

He really wanted that ball, but it was stuck in the water. He apparently did NOT want to get wet…

This jaguar appeared to be almost blind.  Sad day :(

This jaguar appeared to be almost blind. Sad day 😦

IMG_3780 IMG_3786 IMG_3791 IMG_3796 IMG_3807 IMG_3840

28 Ed: Any zombies out there?
Shaun: Don’t say that!
Ed: What?
Shaun: That!
Ed: What?
Shaun: The zed-word. Don’t say it!
Ed: Why not?
Shaun: Because it’s ridiculous!
Ed: All right… are there any out there, though?
Shaun: I can’t see any. Maybe it’s not as bad as all that…Oh, no, there they are.
    Shaun of the Dead

28 shaun-of-the-dead
29 “It wouldn’t have mattered if they were scratches or not,” he says, his voice like liquid. “I was bitten during the escape from the house.”
My limbs go weak, everything inside me folding in collapsing on itself.
“I was already dead,” he says, opening his eyes.
Carrie Ryan, The Forest of Hands and Teeth

28 The_Forest_of_Hands_and_Teeth
30 Harry Solomon: I could do it with my eyes closed!
Tommy Solomon: You do everything with your eyes closed!
 3rd Rock From the Sun

28 harry
31 I once was lost, but now am found
Was blind, but now I see
John Newton, “Amazing Grace”

28 amazing_grace
1 Jorgen von Strangle: For failing to distract the dragon, the handsome fairy loses! However, he is still very sexy.
Wandisimo: This I can live with.
    The Fairly Odd Parents

28 wandisimo
2-3 I’m too sexy for my shirt
Too sexy for my shirt
So sexy it hurts
Right Said Fred, “I’m Too Sexy”

28 Too_Sexy_2007

I’m a slacker, I know!!! But it was my anniversary this week, so deal with it 😛

21 N-nothing important. That is, I heard a good deal about a ring, and a dark lord, and something about the end of the world, but please, Mr. Gandalf, sir, don’t hurt me. Don’t turn me into anything…unnatural.
J.R.R. Tolkien, Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring

21 sam-gamgee
22 I’m sorry, man, but I’ve got magic. I’ve got poetry in my fingertips. Most of the time – and this includes naps – I’m an F-18, bro. And I will destroy you in the air. I will deploy my ordinance to the ground.
Charlie Sheen

21 Charlie-Sheen
23 Years ago, it meant something to be crazy. Now everyone’s crazy.
Charles Manson

21 charles manson
24 We all go a little mad sometimes. Haven’t you?
Norman Bates, Psycho

21 norman bates
25 EPA Official: S-sir, I’m afraid you’ve gone mad with power…
Russ Cargill: Of course I have. You ever tried going mad without power? It’s boring. No one listens to you!
The Simpsons Movie

21 russ_cargill
26-27 Insanity is relative. It depends on who has who locked in what cage.
Ray Bradbury
21 ray bradbury

7 Frankly, I couldn’t be more astonished that this guy was involved in something like this than if you came riding through my apartment on a hippopotamus.
Dan Rather

7 Rather 530
8 I can spell hat, H-A-T.
I can spell cat, C-A-T.
I can spell mat, M-A-T.
But I can’t spell hippopotamus.
Fred Coots, “I Can’t Spell Hippopotamus”

7 800px-Hippo_mouth1
9 Then the Princess had a truly good heart: She was always kind to her pets. She never slapped her hippopotamus when it broke her dolls in its playful gambols, and she never forgot to feed her rhinoceroses in their little hutch in the backyard. Her elephant was devoted to her, and sometimes Mary Ann made her nurse quite cross by smuggling the dear little thing up to bed with her and letting it go to sleep with its long trunk laid lovingly across her throat, and its pretty head cuddled under the Royal right ear.
Edith Nesbit, The Book of Dragons: “Uncle James, or The Purple Stranger”

7 Book-of-Dragons
10 Debbie Jellinsky: All I ever wanted was a Ballerina Barbie. In her pretty pink tutu. My Birthday. I was 10, and do you know what they got me? Malibu Barbie.
Morticia: Malibu Barbie.
Gomez: The nightmare.
Morticia: The nerve.
Debbie: That’s not what I wanted! That’s not who I was. I was a Ballerina, graceful, delicate! They had to go.
    Addams Family Values

7 Young_debbie
11 Susan Vance: You mean you want me to go home?
David Huxley: Yes.
Susan: You mean you don’t want me to help you any more?
David: No.
Susan: After all the fun we’ve had?
David: Yes.
Susan: And after all the things I’ve done for you?
David: That’s what I mean.
Bringing Up Baby

7 bringingupbaby
12-13 Giles:  Cordelia!
Cordelia:  What!? Why does everyone always yell my name?  I can take a hint . . . What’s the hint?

Oh my gosh!  So this Saturday was so freaking awesome!!!  If you guys live in Texas and ever have a chance to go to the Austin Teen Book Festival, you should totally go!  Totally worth the gas and effort to get there!  (Even with the rainstorms that delayed us in 3 separate spots in the middle of nowhere….)

So we got up to leave DFW around 5 am, and made it to Austin a little after 9, which meant that we did miss the first speaker.  But that’s okay, because we  were able to hit up one of the volunteer tables and start picking up some swag!




Okay, first off we’ve got a card for Shannon Hale’s Dangerous coming out next year in 2014.  She wasn’t there, but I have read a couple of her books, so I’m intrigued to check out this one later.

To the right we have a sample book for No Safety In Numbers by Dayna Lorentz.  Story of a ton of people all trapped in a mall during a quarantine.  I haven’t read any of the sample yet, but I’ve always thought trapping people in a mall would be a great story.  I mean, you’ve got food, toys, clothes…you could keep a moderate number of people occupied for a little while at least (especially if there’s a book store in there!).  But that mall Subway can only make so much fresh bread until they just run out of supplies.  What then?

Okay, then there’s the bookmarks from Mari Mancusi’s Scorched (think Friday Night Lights but with Dragons!) and Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl (a girl writing Harry Potter-esque fanfic that can’t quite let fictional life go).  I also got one for Leila Sales’s This Song Will Save Your Life (full of 90s music, yeah!) and Mindy McGinnis’s Not a Drop to Drink (post-apocalyptic with a teen sniper and no water), but both of those are already in use in my books, so oh well 😛

The top square thingy is Mindy’s business card with a quote from the book on it: “Regret was for people with nothing to defend, people who had no water.”

Beneath that is a magnet for Brandon Sanderson’s The Way of Kings with a quote: “A true scholar must not close her mind on any topic, no matter how certain she may feel.”  –Jasnah.   Now, I have to say, I’m not familiar with any of Brandon Sanderson’s books, but he had BY FAR one of the longest signing lines in the whole place, longer even than Sarah Dessen.  So maybe I’m missing out.  Anybody read his stuff?

Then at the bottom we have a big box and a tiny box, both for Sherry Thomas’s The Burning Sky.  In her words, “Harry Potter with cross-dressing”.  So the little box is hand balm, and the big box is bath tea.  Didn’t know that bath tea was a thing?  Well, guess what, neither did I.  But how cool is it to get super awesome swag that you can use in the tub???

IMG_3731Okay, so for this next free sample book, I am super duper excited!!!  It’s The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey.  Alien invasions, and people seem to just be going nuts over this book.  If you haven’t seen the trailer for it, I’ll include it at the end of this post…

Next a card with some upcoming books from Penguin Teen, including Man Made Boy which looks pretty interesting (teen Frankenstein living in a theater).

Then there’s a postcard for Sara Beth Durst’s Conjured.  Now, she wasn’t there so I don’t know much about this one except it has a “dangerous magic-wielding serial killer”, which is about all I need 🙂

Okay, then we’re on to a sticker for The Infects (zombies!) by Sean Beaudoin.  Underneath that there’s the free sampler for Landry Park by Bethany Hagen.  Comes out next year, and it involves futuristic nuclear power heiress discovering that her family’s company is destroying the common man.

Last in this set we have Teen Seer Magazine which is based on Tessa Gratton’s The Lost Sun, which involves Loki , Odin Alfather, and Asgard.  Score!


And last but not least we have my free (if slightly squished) poster for Vampire Academy.  Again, I’ll admit I haven’t ready any of these yet, but I’m a sucker for a YA book with an upcoming movie.  You know I’ll be reading it soon!






Seriously, I feel like I made out like a biblio-bandit!  Now, I would love to give you the rundown of the entire day, but that would make this post just the most ridiculously long thing every!  So, swag first, details of the day later.  Here’s a couple of the trailers for the books that were being promoted there, as well as one for the Vampire Academy movie!  (P.S. some of these are better than others…)