Monday, December 26, 2011


It’s wintertime, which means that I’ve unpacked my tights from the back of the closet, put another quilt on the bed and stocked up on my Cadbury’s Drinking Chocolate in preparation for long nights of writing. Winter means re-reading The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe and watching my DVD of the 1994 Little Women movie. It means baking a ton of different cookies for the holidays and freezing them so that the freezer is like a magical vat of chocolate chip cookies, ginger snaps, black and whites and peanut butter cookies.

Almost everyone has a favorite winter-themed book. What’s yours? Tell me in the box below and you can win a copy of Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler. Don't forget your email.

Monday, December 12, 2011

That Special Something

Several years ago, there was a debut book by a YA author that I absolutely loved. I initially borrowed it from the library and enjoyed it so much that I bought my own copy. And I loved it so much that I pre-ordered a copy of her second book. When the author’s second book came out a year later, I thought it was fine but it didn’t rock my world the way the first one did. I ended up picking up a copy of her third book at The Strand when it came out and waited a couple of weeks to read it. I thought the fourth book was better, skipped the fifth book and just picked up and put down the sixth book.

I’ve been trying to figure out why I flew through the author’s first book and then stalled on the later ones. The author is a very good technical writer with creative ideas and vivid imagination. I understood what she was trying to achieve in her plots, which were generally complex and well-thought out. I wondered if it was because of the diversity of the stories – each book is extremely different – but then I realized that there are other authors that I like who have written a diverse series of books.

I guess the best explanation that I have is that the author’s first book had that special something that hooked me from the first page. It’s a rare experience when that happens and a totally amazing one. For me, reading a book like that is like being entirely in the author’s head and living the plot. The author’s other books, for whatever reason, didn’t have that pull. It makes me sad.

What is a book that has that special something? Tell me in the box below and you can win a copy of In Darkness by Nick Lake.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Bacon and Boundaries

“Testing boundaries” is a really nice way of saying “scaring the stuffing out of yourself.” I’ve been doing a lot of that lately. I ate (and liked) sausage. I ventured away from my two book genres (YA and cook books). I even bought and wear a brighter shade of lipstick than I usually wear.

Weirdly, I’m doing this because of Jamie Oliver. My good friend Olivia was kind enough to get me Jamie Oliver’s Meals in Minutes for my birthday. To my chagrin, many of the recipes have things I don’t usually eat, like bacon and sausage. And while you can make some substitutions when you’re cooking, you can’t substitute anything for bacon. It stands by it’s salty, smoky self.

Tell us about a time when you stepped outside of your comfort zone. Type it in the box below (don’t forget your email) and you could win a book about a girl who stepped way out of hers! It’s and ARC Dumpling Days by Grace Lin. In this book Pacy and her family move to Taiwan. Like many people who relocate, Pacy is confronted with another language, different customs and a big lifestyle change. Fortunately the dumplings are great and they help her get through it all.