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Placeholder entry. Perhaps I'll start crossposting here soon.
penmage: (Default)
In 2009, I read 201 books. Let's see how many I read in 2010...

2010 Book Log )
penmage: (editing like an editor)
I can finally reveal the truth of the Good Thing that happened a couple weeks ago.

And that this is, I now bear the lofty title of Assistant Editor.

Which is to say, I have been promoted!

My boss told me about this two weeks ago, but it wasn't official until the email went out today. I was holding my breath that it would happen for the last six months or more, and then holding my breath that I wouldn't jinx it from really truly happening for the last two weeks.

But it has happened! It is real!

My responsibilities don't really change at all. I still support all my bosses, and do all the same work, but now I'm hopefully going to be signing up more of my own projects and doing more of my own books. So, same job, just more of it!

Anyway, I have accomplished what I was starting to think was impossible in this industry, which is a promotion, and I am kind of really happy about that.
penmage: (reading gnome)
I am going to try and keep track of all the books I read over here, along with the date I finished them and star reviews. If I review them, I'll link the review here.

2009 Book Log )
penmage: (editing like an editor)
Editor D and I were working on a book with Harry Mazer. Harry was unwell, and pretty much all communication for the project was run through Norma. Norma and I were in touch a lot in those days.

The book was My Brother Abe: Sally Lincoln's Story, and as the name suggests, it was about Abraham Lincoln's sister, Sally.

At one point, I emailed Norma and asked her to ask Harry for the dedication. She responded:

Harry says he’s mulling a dedication and [I kid you not] it’s between me and Sally Lincoln. By tomorrow morning, one of us should win.

The next morning, after I emailed her for an update, she responded:

Yay, I won!

The final dedication reads: For Norma, always.
penmage: (bsg monsters (grass_stained))


Soulstice by Simon Holt

Six months after the events of The Devouring, Reggie Halloway is still haunted by nightmares of Vours and fearscapes, but aside from the terrifying dreams, she hasn't seen anything of the Vours since she saved her little brother from possession.

But the memory of her awful encounter haunts her daily. Her little brother Henry is still suffering from nightmares and having violent episodes. Her best friend Aaron is worried about her. And the investigation into the disappearance of town golden boy Quinn Waters--who is currently drowned at the bottom of a lake after being possessed by a Vour--is getting closer to home every day.

And that's when the Vours begin to attack again. First it's terrifying visions. Then they move on Aaron.

That's when Quinn shows up. Turns out he survived being almost frozen and drowned, and now the Vours are after him, because he's so imperfect. He suggests a dangerous team-up to Reggie, and she has no choice but to accept.

As Reggie investigates deeper and deeper into the current resurgence of Vour activity, she learns some frightening things about the origins and true nature of the Vours. But will her newfound knowledge be enough to save her from a second Vour attack?

This book starts MUCH stronger than the previous. There is already a palpable sense of tension in the air from the first page, and Reggie is an exhausted but valiant warrior against horror. In some places, Reggie begins to remind me almost of a sort of Buffy character--only instead of being chosen, she's made her own choices.

There are plenty of twists and turns in this book, as well as actual new information. Too many times, a series feels drawn out and like you aren't really discovering anything new with each additional book. This may be the second book in a series, but it definitely feels meaty and weighty on its own. The details we learn about the Vours are fascinating and compelling, and raise this from a bloody, gory horror novel for the sake of being gory to something fascinating and compelling (with plenty of gross-out creepiness, don't worry.)

This is another strong, top-notch teen horror novel that's actually gross and scary enough to compel serious horror fans. And you've got to love the packaging! The jacket images for this and The Devouring are both so eye-grabbing. I gulped it down, and I'll continue to wait eagerly for the next installment.
penmage: (fairy tale innocent [art by John Bauer])


How It Ends by Laura Wiess

Hanna knows what she wants, and what she wants is Seth. She's wanted him since she noticed him on the first day of sophomore year. So what if he sometimes acts like a jerk? So what if he seems to prefer vacuous girls who wear ankle bracelets? Hanna pursues Seth--and she gets him. But having Seth isn't quite as wonderful as she imagined it would be. Seth can be loving, warm and affectionate--but he can also be as jerky and mean to her as he was before--only now it hurts more, because he also tells her that he loves her.

Confused, Hanna seeks refuge with her elderly neighbor Helen, who has been her surrogate grandmother since she was very small. But Helen, who is slowly dying from a terminal disease, can't provide the same advice and comfort Hanna is used to. Instead, all she can offer is an audiobook, a memoir of a life. Hanna gets drawn into the story, but before long she begins to question what is fiction and what is history--and how it all connects to the present day and the people she loves.

Wiess's writing is strong, strong, strong. She's got the complex teenage girl down pat. Hanna is a fascinating, multifaceted character, with lots of different angles. I love the portrayal of a party girl who is also a good girl. Hanna goes out and drinks, but she also loves her parents and spends time with her elderly neighbors. These two things are not mutually exclusive. Some writers forget this, but not Laura Wiess.

What doesn't work as well is the pacing. The first half of this book alternates from Hanna's POV to Helen's, but mostly Hanna's, mostly the pursuit of Seth which is so frustrating because Hanna seems to be the only person who does see that Seth is a jerk and won't stop being a jerk ever.

And then you have the second half of the book, which alternates between Helen's audiobook, and Hanna listening to it (and thinking about Seth)--but mostly the audiobook story. It's a fascinating, horrific, compelling story, and you just want to hear it through to the end--and it doesn't disappoint. But it feels only loosely connected to the first half of the book. Hanna's own tribulations just don't feel like enough to connect them.

As Hanna complains to her mother, before she realizes the full import of the audiobook, it was hard for me to know what kind of story this was. A love story? An abusive boyfriend story? A family story? A horror story? It felt like all of them, but not in the beautiful inclusive way--more in the patchwork way.

I think the ending was supposed to be shocking, but to me it just felt--expected, almost, and the only possible proper ending to one of the story threads.

There's one thing I can say about Laura Wiess, and that is that she always makes me think. I like that in a book. I just wish this one was a little surer of what kind of book it wanted to be.
penmage: (heroine addict mina (by cleolinda))
So [livejournal.com profile] cidercupcakes is hosting The Home Team 2009 Matches. You have until July 27 to nominate and vote for awesome kickass female fictional characters. And then, March Madness-style, the 64 with the most support will be matched against each other till we have a winner.

So nominate! And vote!

If you are at a loss as to who to support, I have some humble suggestions.

Kira Nerys )

Miranda Zero )

Catherine Weaver )

Fiona Glennane )

Cameron )
penmage: (fairy tale innocent [art by John Bauer])


Shadowed Summer by Saundra Mitchell

Iris Rhame and her best friend Collette are hunkering down for a long summer of more of the same--hot, sweaty days, ducking out on chores at the diner where Collette's mother works, and spending time in the cemetary, playing at being psychic and summoning the dead. They aren't expecting any surprises, because nothing ever happens in their small town of Ondine, Louisiana.

But this summer, things are different. This summer, Iris and Collette are fourteen, which shouldn't mean anything's changing, but somehow, things are. Collette is suddenly very interested in boys, and has started bringing her new boyfriend Ben into her and Iris's private games of make-believe. But even more unsettling is the fact that make-believe has suddenly gotten very real. Because Iris has contacted a ghost. A real ghost.

It seems to be the ghost of Elijah Landry, who disappeared years earlier. At first, Iris is thrilled by the adventure, but she soon decides that ghost-hunting, when it's real, is a lot scarier and a lot less exciting than she had always thought it would be. But it's too late to back out, because now she has Elijah's attention--and she won't be able to rest until Elijah can, too.

From the flap copy and the awful cover, I assumed this would be a supernatural gothic like the Betty Ren Wright books I read when I was younger, and it certainly started out that way. Two kids, a quiet town, a lazy summer, nothing much to do, and then a haunting.

But it became much more than that. A ghost story became the backdrop for a coming of age story that feels so honest and real it's heartbreaking. Watching your best friend grow into boys when you're still comfortable with everything staying the same. The thrill of make-believe, and the embarassment of having your games shared with an outsider, even if he's someone you've known your entire life. And the moment where you realize that everything can't stay the same, that you're growing up and that's as it should be, and that sometimes that means leaving parts of yourself in the past.

The plot of this book is a ghost story, but the heart is a moving story about the pangs of growing up and struggling to understand your way from childhood to teenagerhood.

And I have to say--the truth behind the mysterious disappearance of Elijah Landry is resolved in a way I never would have guessed or expected. It's a quiet thing, but it shows how far the world of junior supernatural gothics has come--or maybe just that this one is a standout.
penmage: (dr who - romana saves the universe)
The next stop for The Miles Between's road trip will be [livejournal.com profile] g33kgrrl and Chicago!

It's embarking on its next adventure this afternoon, so watch [livejournal.com profile] g33kgrrl's journal for more pictures and maybe anther chance to play.

And the journey continues...

Road Trip!

Jun. 29th, 2009 08:33 pm
penmage: (ds9 baseball)
The fabulous [livejournal.com profile] marypearson wrote this book, The Miles Between, which happens to contain a road trip. A fabulous, remarkable road trip, where anything can happen--and does. A road trip in search of one fair day, one perfect wonderful day when good things actually do happen to good people.

And in celebration of this book, [livejournal.com profile] marypearson has sent four copies of the ARC on a road trip of their own. One of those copies came to me, by way of [livejournal.com profile] sartorias, which instructions to take a picture of it in my hometown, and then to pass it on.

So naturally, I did. There are all sorts of cool and interesting things to see in Stamford, CT.

First, I took The Miles Between on a trip with me this weekend to a local vintage car show. I read a chapter or two next to all sorts of interesting cars, and imagined taking a trip in one of those babies--just jumping into the car and driving off in search of something wonderful. It seemed like an appropriate place for The Miles Between to visit.



There were all sorts of cool old cars. )

Then, I took The Miles Between into town. Every year, Stamford puts sculptures up around town with a theme for the summer. It's a lot of fun to wander around and find them all--it's one of the really charming and cool things about my hometown. This year's theme is animals.

This buffalo's head is movable--it nods in the wind. He looked agreeable enough to hold The Miles Between on his head.


More metal animals meet The Miles Between )

So now the fun part. The Miles Between needs a new destination for the next leg of its road trip! Do you want to read it? Want to take some pictures of it in the places you love? Then drop a comment here with your location, and I will very scientifically pick a name out of a hat and drop it in tomorrow's mail, off to its next adventure with you.

So who wants to play?

The rules of the game. )
penmage: (omgdaleks)
[Poll #1422552]

Explain yourself in comments, please.
penmage: (fairy tale innocent [art by John Bauer])


Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale

Dashti has only just started her service as Lady Saren's lady's maid when Lady Saren is condemned to seven years bricked up in a tower for her refusal to marry a man she despises. Seven years shut in away from the sky and fresh air, seven years of rationing food and fighting off rats and cold and loneliness, is more than Dashti signed up for. But she is determined to keep her oath and remain at her lady's side.

But life in the tower soon turns from miserable to life-threatening, and it is up to Dashti to make the choices that will save or damn her and Lady Saren both. And before she knows it, it seems her choices will not only determine the fate of herself and Lady Saren, but that of everyone in her country as well.

I really loved this book, and it's all because of Dashti. She is just one of those characters you want to hold onto tight and tell her that things will be okay, even when there is no logical reason that they will. She is brave in the face of odds. She is determined and loyal and clever very human and so very brave and I adore her.

The bits in the tower are okay, but it really gets good in the second half of the book. This is one of those rare books where the romance really really works for me and makes sense, and every time a niggling objection arose in my head, it was dealt with and answered in a really satisfying way.

Also, the ending made me cry. In a good way.
penmage: (star trek geek and proud of it)
I fully endorse this holiday. Captain Picard was, after all, the first Star Trek captain I loved. I plan to celebrate, for starters, by using my Captain Picard bookmark.

The origin of the holiday:

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Just a small sample of how awesome Picard can be:

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And of course, no tribute would be complete without the Picard Song:

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I am sure you will all join me in commemorating this auspicious event.

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