Friday, April 30, 2010

What I've Been Reading

Last month I rearranged my living room and finally set up the reading corner that I’ve always wanted. Actually, I consider it a “starter” corner. I’m hoping to get a nice comfy chair someday so I can really do it up fancy. Until then, I’ll make due with the IKEA special.

I try to read a few chapters of a book every night before bed. It’s the best way to take my mind off my own writing and lose myself in someone else’s world before I go to sleep. Otherwise, I'll keep working on my story idea in my head and spend all night tossing and turning.

The only problem with reading before bed is when I’m reading something really good I find it hard to stop and get out of the chair. Which is not necessarily a good thing on the nights I have to get up in the morning. Conveniently, since I work at home, I don’t always have to get up in the morning.

Here’s a list of the books I’ve read in my new reading corner. (Yes, I’ve read them all in the past six weeks. I read rather quickly.) I can honestly say that I recommend them all.

Incarceron by Catherine Fisher

Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan

The Spellmans Strike Again by Lisa Lutz.

Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick

The Wicked Lovely series by Melissa Marr (Just started book 3)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Non-required reading!

Hiya, Ro Com readers and writers! Long time, no post!
I could make a billion excuses, most having to do with deadlines writerly and decidedly-non, but suffice it to say:
it's been a big year for the Ostow-Harlans!
In addition to gettin' hitched, the hubs and I were lucky enough to be able to take an extended honeymoon: five weeks in Australia, Fiji, and Hawaii.
As you can imagine, I did plenty of reading while we traveled.

The pic is a shot of N flashing a triumphant thumbs-up as our plane taxies to the Sydney runway after a marathon flight. Those seats were actually comfy enough that I did manage to get some sleep, but you may note in the foreground that I was able to make some headway into a totally gripping book, too.
The title on my tray table is IN THE WOODS by Tana French, a thriller that's kind of like the best "Law & Order" episode, ever (that happens to also be set in the UK). I started the book on the flight at a friend's recommendation and finished it four days later in Sydney.
Yeah, if you're into that kind of stuff -- it's that good.

French's THE LIKENESS just arrived from Amazon and I'm actually holding off on starting it because I know once I do, it's pretty much ALL I'll do until I've torn my way from cover to cover.

While I was away, I made it a point to read "grown-up books" for a change, but since I've been home, I've been back in a YA groove-thang again. Most recently, I finished Lauren Oliver's BEFORE I FALL. People have described it as "Mean Girls" meets "Groundhog Day," but neither of those comparisons adequately convey the emotional resonance and authenticity of Oliver's voice.

Highly recommended.

So, what about you -- what sort of books do YOU save for your vacation reading?

Monday, April 19, 2010

What am I reading?

This topic came up at a good time because I have been reading more than usual lately. Right now, I'm reading The Help by Kathryn Stockett, which was recommended to me by my mom. I've read 6 chapters and am eager to read the rest but life (usually in the form of a 36, 10, 7, or 3 year-old boy) keeps interrupting my reading time. I brought The Help (even though it's huge) with me on my vacation to Hawaii last week, as well as Sweethearts by Sara Zarr. If you want to see a photo of it on a Maui beach and the brief review I posted this morning, click HERE. Right before these 2, I read Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey. It was cute, and I loved the concept of how an American farm girl (think could really be a Romanian vampire princess.
I'm also in the process of writing a proposal for a new book, so I'm reading my own writing (over and over again). I even worked on it a little in Hawaii, as you can see in the photo. :)
So ... have you read any good books lately???

Friday, April 16, 2010

What are you reading?

Right now, I'm devouring, for the sixth or seventh time, The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri. I've been noticing how many similarities there are to her short-story collection, Interpreter of Maladies. It reminds me of how often writers will use short stories as kind of a warm-up for a novel--exploring different characters and themes that are built on later. I also just finished (also for the sixth or seventh time--noticing a theme here?) Cat's Eye, a novel by one of my very favorite writers, Margaret Atwood. All of this sounds great, but the truth is that many weeks, all I manage to read is the New York Times Magazine. Maybe a few of Somerset Maugham's short stories. That's about it. I'll blame it on my toddler son for now. Sure, the kid goes to bed at 8:00, but by the time I myself climb between the sheets, I can usually only keep my eyes open for about twenty minutes. The long-ago days when I read Anna Karenina and The Brothers Karamazov are gone forever--or at least until I'm not toting a 25 pound toddler on my hip all day.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

What are you reading?

I am so thrilled that my novel Going Too Far is a finalist in a Fancy Award, the RITA. The contest is judged by other writers, so it's a huge honor to be a finalist. And if I were to be lucky enough to win, I would join another RITA-winning Simon Pulse Ro-Com author, Niki Burnham. Remember this pic Niki posted a while ago of her Extremely Neat Office?

Yes, the RITA statue looks like an Oscar statue, except Rita is a chick and she is writing. There is even a Fancy Oscar-like Awards Ceremony to which everyone wears an evening gown, or perhaps Bedazzled sweatpants with a cape, because we are writers and you are likely to see just about anything at one of our conventions.

But before the ceremony, there's a huge (and free) book signing that you can attend if you like. This year the "Readers for Life" Literacy Autographing will be held in Nashville on Wednesday, July 28, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel, and it is one of the coolest things I've ever been a part of as a writer. Publishers donate their books, and about 500 authors are on hand to sign them. You buy the books, and all of the proceeds are given to literacy charities. The complete list of authors will be posted later at the link above, but some of the usual suspects are big names like Nora Roberts, Jennifer Crusie, and Sherrilyn Kenyon. I cannot begin to describe to you how huge this event is. Here's a pic I took last year that captures about a fourth of the room.

Now, if you are a RITA finalist, the super-cool thing about the book signing is that you get a huge flag on your table that says RITA FINALIST--in other words, CHECK OUT THIS CHICK SHE IS AWESOME. That is, you are SUPPOSED to get a flag. Last year there were no flags. I asked my RITA finalist friends Tina Ferraro and Rosemary Clement-Moore WHERE ARE YOUR FLAGS and they said WE DON'T KNOW!!! so I made them both flags out of pens and post-it notes.

I am going to try to make sure I have a proper flag. I am contacting the flag police as we speak.

Anyway...what I'm reading is the other books that are finalists in the YA category of the RITA:

Fairy Tale by Cyn Balog

Don't Judge a Girl by Her Cover by Ally Carter

Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles

Nothing Like You by Lauren Strasnick

The ABC's of Kissing Boys by Tina Ferraro, who is a finalist for the second year in a row because she is THAT AWESOME.

See you in Nashville!

Monday, April 12, 2010

The No Bully Zone

There has been a lot of discussion about bullying in the blogosphere lately. And two concerned YA writers, Carrie Jones and Megan Kelley Hall, decided to do more than blog, so they started a Facebook page called Young Adult Authors Against Bullying.

I started to think about bullying, which is a topic I've thought about quite a bit throughout my life. It seems to me that one of the things that YA books deal with -- maybe not as an "issue" but as a part of life -- is bullying.

I certainly have. In my RoCom, Kaitlyn is bullied by readers who do not like her column. And, in some ways, her column is a way for her to bully the very people who write in to her for help. Sure, maybe their dilemmas seem silly to her, but that doesn't mean they really are silly.

Name calling. Labeling. Can anyone get through school without having experienced bullying of some sort? If you want to know what you can do to make the world a little more bully-free, stop by the Facebook page and read some of the great suggestions for how to cope. Offer some of your own.

Even though YA authors might have fewer easy conflicts if we really did manage to create a bully-free world, we'd cope (there are always unreasonable parents and high-stakes tests...and romance is never conflict-free).


Wednesday, April 07, 2010

What I'm Reading

Hi all...I'm writing this on a very cold and and even rainier spring day in Seattle while apparently my friends and family back on the East Coast are in the middle of a heat wave. What I wouldn't do for sunny and 85 right about now.

So to answer this month's question, I'm actually reading three books right now. The first is a book of short stories by this guy named Wells Tower, called Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned. I heard him read a piece on my favorite radio show This American Life and I was blown away by his writing and storytelling. I figured if I read more of his work, I could absorb some literary brilliance by osmosis. So far, it's not working, but I'm enjoying the read.

I also just picked up The Lightning Thief a few nights ago. I saw it on the library shelf while picking out chapter books for my avid reader son and I thought I should check it out and see what all the hubbub is about. It's feeling very Harry Potter-esque to me so far, but am curious to see where it goes.

Lastly, I'm reading an adult nonfiction book by Gretchen Rubin called The Happiness Project that is all about finding ways to bring more joy and happiness into everyday life. I'm all for that. I've picked up a few tidbits here and there, but haven't had an earth-shattering a ha moment yet. I'll let you know if I do!

XOXO Deborah

Sunday, April 04, 2010

What are you reading?

I have to admit I felt a pang of longing or maybe even nostalgia when I read this question. At one point in time I was a voracious reader. In my pre-babies life I used to average two books a week. These days, the stacks of books ordered and neglected are growing by the week. However, when I'm not writing and editing my own books, I still do manage to squeeze in a good read. Thank God for long waits at the car wash, dentist and doctor when I am by myself. One of the last great books I read was Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher. I couldn't put it down. I read it in about 2 days. So amazing and so relevant in today's world. Far From You by Lisa Schroeder was another wonderful and recent read. Couldn't put that one down either. I am halfway through When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris (not a YA book). He is one of my all time favorite authors. I don't think I've read many authors with the exception of Laurie Notaro who can match his humor. I alternate reading David Sedaris with my rose books. I know that books on growing roses would be a total snoozer to most but it's my new hobby. My other guilty pleasure -- People magazine. The subscription my in-laws sent me for Christmas is the perfect escape. I live for the short, juicy articles. Looking forward to seeing what everyone else is reading. Who doesn't love a good book recommendation?