brb & reminder to enter a giveaway that's ending TODAY

So I've been off on vacation for a few days, and had thought I'd have internet access and time to scrounge up posts.

Key word here is *thought*.

Anyhow, my posting might be a bit sketchy for a bit, as I really have no idea how much interwebs access I'll be getting for the next few weeks. Or books access, for that matter. Bahhh. Situations like this almost make me consider investing in a Kindle.

Just letting you know guys know and hope you're having a wonderful summer :)

P.S. <333333333

P.P.S: HURRY UP AND ENTER to win Amy & Roger's Epic Detour plus a digital keychain. Today's the last day!


review: incarceron


Incarceron -- a futuristic prison, sealed from view, where the descendants of the original prisoners live in a dark world torn by rivalry and savagery. It is a terrifying mix of high technology -- a living building which pervades the novel as an ever-watchful, ever-vengeful character, and a typical medieval torture chamber -- chains, great halls, dungeons. A young prisoner, Finn, has haunting visions of an earlier life, and cannot believe he was born here and has always been here. In the outer world, Claudia, daughter of the Warden of Incarceron, is trapped in her own form of prison -- a futuristic world constructed beautifully to look like a past era, an imminent marriage she dreads. She knows nothing of Incarceron, except that it exists. But there comes a moment when Finn, inside Incarceron, and Claudia, outside, simultaneously find a device -- a crystal key, through which they can talk to each other. And so the plan for Finn's escape is born ...

My Opinion:

Incarceron is a queer mixture of dystopian and fantastical imaginings, a historical setting and futuristic technology. It's two books in one, and several different genres in one. Incarceron is a very complex, intricately plotted out book that will appeal to both boys and girls eager for a few hours of reading escape.

The novel opens with Finn, one of many captives of the vast and mysterious prison called Incarceron. In this strange land, there is no sunlight, conditions are similar to dark age poverty, and crime runs rampant. Predictably so, since this is a place full of criminals and bands of warriors. It's a prison fashioned for the most pitiable and corrupt of the human race.

There are two rules: no one is let out, and no one comes in. Except Finn--who can't remember anything before three years ago--and who believes he's from the Outside even though no one else believes him. The story really starts when Finn, his mentor Gildas, his arrogant and vain oath-brother Keiro, and devoted dog-girl Attia set off in a quest to reach Outside. Finn's found a crystal key, and he's determined to Escape, see the stars, and find out who he really is.

The novel is told in 3rd person, and periodically alternates to focus on Claudia, the daughter of the Warden of Incarceron. She's ridiculously pampered but fears her grim and powerful father, who's forcing Claudia into a betrothal that she doesn't want. But the key that she steals from her father's study might just be her way out of it.

A key that looks a lot like Finn's.

I feel equal turns exhilarated and frustrated by Incarceron. It's exactly the sort of adventurous sci-fi/fantasy that I'm craving more of in YA, and is told in a very British, middle grade-like tone.

The imagination of Fisher is outstanding. Actually, scratch that: it's not really the originality of her individual concepts that's striking. It's the way she puts different elements of myths and fantasy to new use. And it's a very strange, awesome dystopian world that Incarceron takes place in. Claudia's world is highly reminiscent of the 18th century--the outrageous dresses, the estates, and the inequality between rich and poor. For a world that should be highly futuristic-- there are hints of very advanced technology--it's surprisingly familiar. The people of the Outside have sealed themselves in a strict time period, doing away with any progress for the sake of peace.

The inside of Incarceron itself is vague. It's one of the things I liked least about this book. Fisher has brief flashes of description where I was able to visualize the world in detail, but for the most part, the setting was sparse in details. And in this sort of book--where plot and setting are everything--it's not a fault that a reader can easily brush by. I also had a problem with the characterization--the characters were distant, hastily-formed, and I couldn't relate to any of them. I didn't dislike them or anything-- I just felt like an observer while I watched them get into one perilous situation after the next. I really couldn't bring myself to deeply care for their well-being. Basically, while Finn and his companions were about to be destroyed I would think, "Hmm, this is fascinating,"not, "OMG NOESS SAVE YOURSELF AHH."

Still, Incarceron is a bit stunning in it's scope. There are many elements of Greek mythology woven in, and world-building comes off as both cliche and brilliant. A terrifying beast made of recycled parts that resides in the depths of a cave resembles a dragon, the three blind women who spin and pass judgment are remarkably similar to the three Fates, golden apples grow on metallic trees, and Incarceron's many pathways, terrors, and wonders are vaguely reminiscent of the labyrinth from Theseus. On the other hand, Claudia's world has a whole set of over-used characters and situations: a foolish prince, a power-hungry Queen, a plot to overthrow the monarchy, wise tutors, an arranged (unwanted) marriage, and of course--the ever-present* missing heir to the kingdom. Still, as overused as these elements are, they work. Work well, actually.

It kept me reading, after all. Engrossed.

And this book kept me guessing. I love books with a tangled mess of a plot and huge--or several huge--secrets that will explain every mystery that unfolds throughout. I have such great fun coming up with theories while reading. I guessed some of Fisher's revelations--the ones about Finn and Claudia are particularly cliche. Other revelations were more unexpected, but explained in what seemed like a few sparse sentences or two at the end, so they seemed hardly believable. In fact, the ending was rushed and a bit sloppy. But it did leave room for a sequel--and considering the flawed but exciting ride that Incarceron took me on--I want the second book, Sapphique, in my hands this very second.

So, I have mixed feelings about Incarceron. However, it manages to hold together as fantastical romp that was very fun to read. It's a definite must-read for those of you who enjoyed Garth Nix's Key to the Kingdom series. I can also see fans who are hankering for Mockingjay's release enjoying this book during the wait.**

My rating: I give it a 7.75/10. It really depends how much you love fantasy/dystopia/adventure. If you can't ever get enough, definitely pick this one up. If you're more meh on those genres, pass on it.

* I mean, why do so many fantasy books have to either involve missing heirs to the kingdom or center around royal/noble MC's? Even MC's that start off as slaves or nobodys manage to (impossibly) claw their way up. Le sigh.

** I think we should sign petitions ordering them to release Mockingjay NOW. Who's with me? Haha, jk :p


thoughts on a common element in YA

There's something I've been pondering for a while, ever since I've begun reading more and more YA contemporary. I've been thinking about it as I've encountered some of my all-time favorite books. Books that I've been moved by, that I love, that I've re-read again and again.

The majority of them have a secondary character--often the main character's friend or family member-- that passes away. Frequently, the event occurs before the novel even starts, or near the beginning of a book. A book that begins with death, with grief--it grabs the reader's attention, that's for sure.

And I have to wonder what that means, why it's so common, and what effect it has on us as readers.

I don't mean this post to be a criticism because like I said, some of the best books I've ever read have this element in common. As a matter of fact, I'm starting to wonder if having someone close to the main character pass away is an near-requirement for serious contemporary literature. It's often been said that there aren't any new stories, just new ways of telling them. Even though many of my favorite books include death as a major plot point, it doesn't necessarily mean that it's overdone--it's just seems to reoccur. Looking for Alaska features a protagonist dealing with the death of a friend, Wintergirls begins with protagonist dealing with the death of a friend, The Sky is Everywhere starts with the protagonist dealing with the death of a sibling, Before I Fall deals with the protagonist herself dying, and If I Stay features a protagonist dealing with the death of her family. Books like Cracked Up to Be even venture into the protagonist's feelings of guilt with their role in death.

And I'd strongly recommend each and everyone one of the books mentioned above. They're incredibly moving, poignant, touching, and well-written. A lot of them have death not just on the sidelines, but at the forefront of their premise.

And I have to wonder--does death make a book?

I don't mean to be flippant, but death is a reality, even in a teenager's life. Even the high proportion of girls that perish suddenly and unexpectedly in YA literature isn't unwarranted--it does happen, so I don't think the realism of these novels comes into question. It can even be argued that these books have an added realism: that the author's choice to highlight the grief of the main character in the face of tragedy--and often the character's healing and reaction to this sudden death--is a reflection on life and also a very important theme.

The common modes of death in these books--car crashes and suicide--also correspond with reality. And for the most part, each protagonist in the books mentioned above deals with death differently. Ultimately, the books mostly end with a positive note, a hopeful vibe even when the protagonists' whole life has been torn apart.

And I have to say this: I find these books incredibly moving. They're tearjerking and they hit home and they have depth--I can't stop thinking about them afterwards. I'm not trying to say that death is the reason that these novels have quality--exemplary writing, characterization, and execution play a large part--but does it add an extra resonance to the story? Does it strike a reaction that no other event in a book can?

I say yes. Diverging from the contemporary boundaries, I don't think I've ever been as torn apart as when *SPOILERS* Sirius Black in Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix died, or when Rudy and Hans Hubermann from The Book Thief died *END SPOILERS*. But death in the sci-fi/fantasy/historical genres seems--in general-- to be more out of the way. There are casualties that affect the protagonist along the way, but they don't completely shatter their world and remain the sole focus of a book as they often do in contemporary.

Of course, there are beautiful contemporary books out there that don't deal with death as a major event--Melina Marchetta's books, in particular, and John Green's, save for Looking for Alaska--but an overwhelming majority (especially of my favorites) do. It seems reasonable, too--to get the plot moving forward in a contemporary novel--that a drastic event needs to happen. More often than not, it's death. How many life-altering events does a real teenager face? Family and relationship issues, health issues, school issues, and socioeconomic issues are some problems that first come to mind. It's really a combination of several different factors that should drive a protagonist to rock-bottom, as is necessary in a novel.

But is the reliance on death as a plot device a bad thing? Or a good thing? Or does it even matter? Is it even a reliance, or is it a theme that's necessary in most books?

You tell me. I'd love to hear your thoughts on the matter.


The ominous rise of 2nd person

It's everywhere. Maybe YOU've seen it?

I sure have.

2nd person makes a devious appearance in the first chapter of Living Dead Girl; You by Charles Benoit, the upcoming sure-to-be-a-hit novel is narrated entirely in 2nd person; Printz-winning How I Live Now is stock-full of those buggers; and the last book I finished--Stolen--had a unique combination of 1st and 2nd person.

YOU is everywhere.*

This sudden--at least from my viewpoint--plague of You is a bit unsettling. Weird. Strange. A little scary, even. Maybe YOU've always been aware of it, but I haven't. And to me--as it seems that I come into more contact with the 2nd person as I pour over recently released books and unpublished snippets of writing--it's growing. Surging, even.

It's been hammered into my head over and over by numerous English teachers that no one but fools asking to be mocked and deprived of any literary standing use 2nd person; that if they do it's only a few sentences; that it jolts/jars/irritates/angers the reader and that 3rd person limited and first person are much better narrative forms. Also, that I'd never see 2nd person--maybe once if I was unlucky. Or twice.

I've seen it alright. And now, I can't avoid it.

I pretty much believed my teachers up until now. Second person = bad or fleeting. Whenever we went over POV, there would be lengthy definitions of the different variations of 1st and 3rd. 2nd would sometimes be mentioned in a vague afterthought--it's just basically "You" they'd say, but don't worry, it won't turn up. **

YA has become a place of unsettling tense/POV combinations that would make many readers of adult fiction cringe at the impropriety, the uppityness, the departure from established literary standards . It's 2010, the era of YA (it's long tendrils have reached and entrapped many adult readers by now) and I still see writers and readers arguing that first person present, permeating many of the books I read today is terrible, unusable, and mark of the incompetence of an author. Which is silly. I kind of want to shove The Hunger Games and Cracked Up to Be and half the YA section at them.

They say: first person MUST ALWAYS be past. Third person limited (past) is the best POV. They upturn their noses at the mention of awkward & self-conscious 3rd person present (an assessment I for the most part agree with***). I fear what they'll say about 2nd person. They'd probably scream or have a cow if they knew what I've been reading lately.

But maybe it's not that bad. I, for the most part, write this blog in 2nd person. (IT HAS INFILTRATED EVEN HERE! RUN! EVACUATE!). I write poetry in 2nd person.(whoah, how'd that happen? I really don't know). I kinda like 2nd person, and I'm starting to realize that just right now.

The 2nd person I've read--stubborn as I am--has been pretty darn good. Amazing, even. It's got this very haunting quality to it, as the main character or author speaks directly to you. The most striking part of Just in Case (by Meg Rosoff, the same author as How I Live Now) is a harrowing vignette of a plane crash, narrated in 2nd person. A character who jumps out of the page to the audience and says knowingly, "My friend always pretends like she's dumber than she really is. Don't you just hate when someone does that?" can be refreshing, voice-filled. Books narrated entirely in 2nd person can be done, and done well.

So no having cows needed. None. No conniptions either.

Maybe from now on I can have my 2nd person and enjoy it and not feel misgivings at the mention of it.

And I'm thinking--this is just my speculation--we'll be seeing more of 2nd person soon. At least on the YA side of things--whether it be short sections in the middle of a text or the POV of choice of the author.

So this is where you tell me what you think of 2nd person. Have you noticed more of it lately or is it just me? Any really good books in 2nd person?

* I'll ignore the terrible grammar of that sentence. *twitches*
**Here's something I've learned: Don't trust your English teachers solely because they're adults with a red pen.
*** 3rd person present does, for the most part, read awkwardly to me. Atwood has got it down in The Blind Assassin, though and I'm sure lots of others do too.


how to make page buttons

Recently, I got an email from someone who asked me how I made my page buttons.

And I figured I'd just do a post, as I'm sure other people would like to know how too. I'm not even very tech-y (I figured this out by trial & error), and I'm by no means an authoritative source on how to do this. But I'll explain how I did mine. Since I've never done a post like this, I'll supplement it with lots of pictures. LOTS. So that even a sparkly vampire could do this.


Make your pages.

Go to posting--> Edit Pages --> New Page

create the content you want and click "PUBLISH PAGE"

Make sure to select "No gadget" out of the options. Click SAVE AND PUBLISH and then VIEW PAGE.

Highlight and copy the page url. (You're going to need this)--paste it somewhere safe so you can keep it.


Make or find page buttons and save them to your computer.

I have photoshop, but there are photo editing sites all over the web that'll allow you to do something simple like make a colored rectangle/circle/etc and put font on it.

Anyhow, something like this will do just fine:

I made four since I want four pages: Home, About, Index, Blog Roll

STEP 3:Add Image
Upload your page buttons to an online image host.

I recommend photobucket.

Once your page button is done uploading, right click on it and select "Copy Image Location"

For my URL, I got:



Input your URLS into this code:


Add the page buttons to your blog.

Go to Design --> Page Elements --> Add a Gadget --> and Select HTML/ JAVASCRIPT

Paste the code(s) (for each button) into the HTML/JAVASCRIPT and click SAVE.

If you want you buttons in the center, directly under the header, move the HTML/JAVASCRIPT BAR. Just click and drag to above the section that says "Blog Posts".


Feel oddly gleeful that you now have page buttons on your blog XD

I hope this helped!

Any questions?


covers that make me drool + a few books I'm looking forward to

I just wanted to post some covers that--when I saw them--made me stop in my tracks, say "WHOA!", and wonder if I could seize the dust jacket and blow it up into a ginormous poster. Also, I have this urge to wallpaper my room with them.

But I can't, so I'll wallpaper this blog with them. Next best thing!

The blue of the sky is so gorgeous as is the sea and the sand and the melding of the colors.

Despite the fact that I didn't much like Hollow as a book, I can't deny the cover is gorgeous. It's sort of creepy since the model is staring right AT YOU but it's just so striking.

I love the color of the sky, and for some reason (as you may have noticed in Captivating Thursdays--which I'm not *officially* compiling this particular week, but I suppose this counts because the covers are so prettiful) I love photos where the person's back/side is to the viewer. When the positioning is like that, it could be almost anyone who's walking down that street. Also I heart the fonts so much.

I really didn't like Fallen. However, there is no denying that the covers for this series are absolutely gorgeous. I think I actually like the Torment's cover better--the soft gray and the spindly trees--but that may just be because I've seen Fallen's cover too many times.


She has two beautiful covers for one book. By the way, the Sky is Everywhere is fantastic so get thee to a bookstore if you haven't read it.


The asymmetrical, patchy heart and the different size lowercase letters are so very arresting and lovely.

Paperback (or maybe this is the UK cover?):

I really can't decide if I like the hardcover or paperback better. The font and the color on the paperback are adorable, though.

I saved my favorite for last. I can NOT believe how gorgeous this is, I really can't. I'm struck by the trees* (?) which have me going "ahhh"; the way the girl is running so gracefully into the hint of the sky; the large bed of dark green grass; the contrast of her hair against the green. It just comes together so beautifully. Also, the angles of the tree (?) lines are gorgeous, it really draws my eye in. I'm in love with this cover.

Since 2010 is halfway over (whoa, how'd that happen?) I thought I'd put a short list of books that I'm dying to read and that I want NAO. Like, I'd do unspeakable things to get my hands on them.

Upcoming in 2010:

1. You by Charles Benoit
2. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins (this was pretty much a given, haha)
3. Her and Me and You by Lauren Strasnick
4. The Duff by Kody Keplinger


1. Piper's Son by Melina Marchetta
You Australian peeps who've already got to read it are lucky. I really need to do some wrangling by way of The Book Depository** and get it anyways.

2. BRIDGE OF CLAY by Markus Zusak

The release day got pushed back multiple times. It should have been in late 2009, then late 2010, and now it's early 2011. *grumbles* I would seriously give up chocolate for an extended period of time*** if I could just read it now. Tehe.

*Are those really trees? They seem too skinny trunk-wise, but that's my best guess.

**I love that site.

***I am completely serious. For realz. Chocolate deprivation is worth it for Zusak's newest work of genius.


Serial Tour: 13 to Life Blog Tour with Shannon Delany!

Welcome to Shannon Delany's Start Your Day with Serial Tour! Shannon's debut novel (and first in her YA paranormal series) 13 to Life started as a winning cell phone novel written in serial segments. During the tour you can read bits of the book in order. Miss a day? Hop to Shannon's blog and check the link to the blog tour calendar in her sidebar.

There will also be a contest that will close at the end of the tour. Winners get a bunch of stuff.


I'm very happy to have gotten the chance to interview Shannon Delany:

Can you sum up 13 to Life in one sentence?

It's a tale of teenage love, loss and--oh, yeah--werewolves.

What initially sparked your idea for 13 to Life?

It was a strange combination of things. The phrase which became the title was rolling around in my head and on a trip to Wisconsin I noticed a definite lack of werewolf novels (of course, that was late 2008).

If you were stranded on a deserted island, what single book would you choose to have with you and why?

My trusty Barnhardt's Dictionary of Etymology. I love language and each word in that book comes with its own origin story. It's fascinating!

What do you hope readers will take away from reading 13 to Life?

Different readers will take away different things depending on how deeply they read. Some will just enjoy the book for its action and romance (I'm being told the relationships in the book feel much more real and authentic than many others in YA currently) and some will catch the foreshadowing, the red herrings and be able to make guesses at the next books in the series.

Can you tell us a little bit about what you have in the works at the moment?

I just handed in my copyedits for the second book in the series and the third's due in August. Beyond that I'm working on some things that explore more of my love of history and mythology. Still mainly YA, though.

Is there anything you would like to add for readers?

Thanks for following along on the Serial Tour and I hope you all give 13 to Life a try (and, of course, I hope you love reading it even half as much as I enjoyed writing it)!

Choco: Thank you for the wonderful interview :)


13 to Life: Chapter 3, part F (used with the author’s permission)

(For information on the previous section, visit Escape Between the Pages!

I said, “Cool” and a moment later I was free of the food sauna and headed to my table, forgetting Pietr in my need to discuss the Derek situation with my girlfriends.

I smacked my tray down, wiggling in between Amy and Sarah on the table's Formica bench. Sarah set down her copy of Sense and Sensibility and smiled supportively in my direction.

Stabbing my milk with a straw, I introduced my plight. "I just don't get it. Derek actually spoke to me today." I jabbed a cucumber slice with my fork and wondered which of us was older.


Shannon's hosting several contests during the Start Your Day with Serial Tour. The big contest will award one lucky winner with a royal amber pendant, pietersite jeweled bookmark, stuffed wolf, 13 to Life mousepad, pen, tote, signed poster, personalized copy of 13 to Life and both of the 13 to Life pins. All you need to do is comment at 13 of the blogs hosting Shannon during her 30 day tour. Everyone who does so will be entered into a random drawing. Winner may be international.


in which i talk about

I spontaneously started a poetry journal a few months ago. It's where I keep poems that sing to my soul. This way, I'll never lose track of them-- they're always less than a moment away. By dint of this little journal, I'm always near beautiful words. Words designed to spark emotion: happiness, anger, longing, fulfillment. Within a few hundred unassuming pages, there are enough thoughts and meaning and hope to fill the world.

a little peak:

The front cover. I should of gotten some beautiful
hardcover journal that would last a long while
through wear and tear, but this one is cute, at least :)

a view of the pages

two poems side by side

One of my favorite poems :)

close-up view

There's something about this journal that makes me happy.

Ever since I discovered that I could stand, liked, loved, can't live without poetry, I've been diving headfirst into a world I didn't even know existed six months ago. Miraculously, I haven't drowned yet. I'm swimming along, immersing myself on the words penned by the likes of Plath and e.e. cummings and Ginsberg.

Even though I'm so new to reading poetry, I'm in love. How can I not be? When there is such complete soul in just a few lines. When my heart skips a beat when I find a poem that is great. When I feel what the poet feels and it's like literary giants are speaking to me or to themselves or to everyone about what they've experienced.

It's so beautiful. It's so beautiful that I feel like I can't even understand how much beauty is out there waiting for me. That I won't ever be able to read it all in one lifetime or several lifetimes.

I'm wishing now though--after paying a visit to my local bookstore that only stocks around ten different poets on two, tiny little shelves; after perusing a poetry forum in which the number one topic was "is poetry becoming extinct?"; after realizing I didn't know a single person in real life that reads poetry for fun--that there was more I could do. Go around and knock on people's doors; leave my favorite poems everywhere for people to find; sit down next to a stranger and ask, "have you ever read a poem that sang to your soul? Because I have."

I want to tell the whole world to go out and read poetry. I want to show you that poetry is something wonderful. Because now that I've realized it I want you to realize it too. I don't want to hog all the beautiful words and poems and sayings, I want you to read them too.

But wait, you think: I hate/dislike/don't understand/rather not/ nothankyou/not now please/ poetry is just not for me.

Let me tell you something: I've been there before, too. I used to avoid poetry, complain about analyzing it, reading it, seeing it. I was exposed to nothing but musty old poems that spoke confusingly of O' and thou and art. Then I read a book of poetry by Atwood and it changed--


Poetry can't be contained or classified properly: there's too many variations, forms. I found that I liked contemporary, lyrical poetry the best, but could do well without most written before the 1800s. Poetry is basically emotion in words. And there is no way that you haven't felt emotion, that a poet hasn't put that exact feeling down somewhere for you to read. Poetry tells you that you are not alone. That we aren't.

So I guarantee you: there's a poem out there, especially written for you. About you, even.

You just have to go looking for it. We all do.


And I just want to post a poem that I particularly love. I think this is the one that made me realize I could love poetry.

Pre-Amphibian by Margaret Atwood

Again so I subside
nudged by the softening
driftwood of your body
tangle on you like a water-
weed caught
on a submerged treelimb

with sleep like a swamp
growing, closing around me
sending its tendrils through the brown
sediments of darkness
where we transmuted are
part of this warm rotting
of vegetable flesh
this quiet spawning of roots

from the lucidities of day
when you are something I can
trace a line around, with eyes
cut shapes
from air, the element
where we
must calculate according to

but here I blur
into you our breathing sinking
to green millenniums
and sluggish in our blood
all ancestors
are warm fish moving

The earth
shifts, bringing
the moment before focus, when
these tides recede; and we
see each other through the
hardening scales of waking

stranded, astounded
in a drying world
we flounder, the air
ungainly in our new lungs
with sunlight steaming merciless on the shores of morning


And I invite you to do the same thing in the comments. Post poems, name poets you love, talk about poetry, whether you've only read one poem in your life willingly or if you have a bookshelf full of poetry.

And maybe, just maybe, you can fit a poem or two or a hundred more into your life.


GIVEAWAY: amy & roger's epic detour + more

So you remember the book I just reviewed? Amy & Roger's Epic Detour (of fabulousosity?). YOU KNOW YOU WANT THIS BOOK. (you do.)

I'm holding a giveway so here's your chance! And the lucky winner also gets a very shiny digital photo frame keychain that's mind-boggingly cool.

Also, check out the book website for more info.


Amy Curry thinks her life sucks. Her mom decides to move from California to Connecticut to start anew--just in time for Amy's senior year. Her dad recently died in a car accident. So Amy embarks on a road trip to escape from it all, driving cross-country from the home she's always known toward her new life. Joining Amy on the road trip is Roger, the son of Amy's mother's old friend. Amy hasn't seen him in years, and she is less than thrilled to be driving across the country with a guy she barely knows. So she's surprised to find that she is developing a crush on him. At the same time, she's coming to terms with her father's death and how to put her own life back together after the accident. Told in traditional narrative as well as scraps from the road--diner napkins, motel receipts, postcards--this is the story of one girl's journey to find herself.



1. You must have a mailing address in the U.S.
2. Ends on June 19th

enter here!

review: amy & roger's epic detour by morgan matson


Amy Curry thinks her life sucks. Her mom decides to move from California to Connecticut to start anew--just in time for Amy's senior year. Her dad recently died in a car accident. So Amy embarks on a road trip to escape from it all, driving cross-country from the home she's always known toward her new life. Joining Amy on the road trip is Roger, the son of Amy's mother's old friend. Amy hasn't seen him in years, and she is less than thrilled to be driving across the country with a guy she barely knows. So she's surprised to find that she is developing a crush on him. At the same time, she's coming to terms with her father's death and how to put her own life back together after the accident. Told in traditional narrative as well as scraps from the road--diner napkins, motel receipts, postcards--this is the story of one girl's journey to find herself.

(product description courtesy of Amazon)

My Opinion:

Amy & Roger's Epic Detour is a quietly beautiful book. Set during a five-day road trip across America, the trees of Yosemite, the deserts of Nevada, and the derbys of Kentucky all manage to make an appearance in the space of 300 well-written pages. So does a whole lot of great dialogue and character development. Amy & Roger's Epic Detour contains a road trip that takes you on a ride--both emotionally and literally--as first love blooms and gas bills pile up.

The star of school musicals, Amy Curry is devastated on a fateful spring afternoon when her father dies. This novel begins with summer vacation three months later, but there's still a whole lot of grief and guilt stemming from his passing away. What's more, Amy's literary-inclined mother and stoner twin brother have left her alone in L.A. for a month. When it comes to driving cross-country to get to her new home in Connecticut, Amy is somewhat reluctant to embark on a trip. Especially since it means spending hours in car, when her father died in a car crash. Add in Roger, a childhood friend who she barely remembers to the mix, and a simple road trip turns into a complicated mess of suppressed feelings and a whole lot of remembering.

In the first few chapters, I wasn't that big of a fan of Amy. She seemed a bit withdrawn, but as the story progresses more facets of her personality are revealed. Roger's a great complement to her, and the relationship that develops between the two is very sweet. At first, the novel follows a seemingly set routine: Roger comes up with playlists and drives, Amy purchases the snacks and navigates, and the traveling duo depart from their fixed (but oh-so-boring) route determined by Amy's mother. Instead of bee-lining straight to Connecticut, they make stops at Yosemite, where memories of Amy's father threaten to throw her once more into grief, drive across the loneliest road in America, mountains spanning ahead, and traverse across Kansas (proud home to crumbly burgers). Some states are given much more of a spotlight, but I'm amazed how much I actually learned from this novel: State mottos. Highways to avoid. Good places to eat. Bands to listen to. Also, the fact that the greasy perfection of In-N-Out* made an appearance within the first few chapters garners my unquestioning approval. As do the receipts, emails, playlists**, and pictures of destinations integrated seamlessly into the narrative.

After reading Amy & Roger's Epic Detour, I was reminded of why I love road trip novels so much. It's the juxtaposition of an actual journey and the journey that the characters make as they grow and change that I find particularly worthy of praise. Amy's transformation from a reserved girl drowning in guilt and grief to one who comes out of her shell and finds happiness in life is quite touching. Roger is also getting over something--a broken heart, courtesy of a flaky girlfriend--and the symmetry of the two characters' development and thus their relationship was the easily the best part of the book.

A tale of burgers, Elvis, traveling, and heartbreak, Amy and Roger's Epic Detour is a summer read you don't want to miss. It just gets better and better as you read on, and by the end, I was quite in love with it. At first glance, this book doesn't seem explosively brilliant and it doesn't punch you in the gut or anything. But it does hold a quiet sort of beauty within it's pages--a certain magic in between the words as the characters grow. That's what truly sets this novel apart and why I had such a great time reading it.

My Rating: I give it an 8.5/10. Lovely, feel-good book. I get a rush of happy feelings even thinking about it :)

*Oh, you poor people who have never heard of In-N-Out. You're living an unfulfilled life. I'd ship you a burger but it'd prolly get gross on the way there. Le sigh.

**Some of my fave bands were on there. And I found some lovely bands as well from it :)

FTC: I received this book for review from a publicist. Thank you :)

OH AND BONUS: I'll be posting about a giveaway for this book soon so look out for that!


little tiger press young writer and illustrators awards + come ask me questions on formspring

So I recently got a really cool email about a national (United Kingdom) competition for young writers hosted by Little Tiger Press. I don't know if I've said this on in which a girl reads before, but I'm really passionate about literacy, and especially about support and contests for budding writers.

The awards are part of a "national campaign to promote literacy and creative thinking amongst kids."

(courtesy of their website:)
  • The Little Tiger Press Young Writer and Illustrator Awards 2010, sponsored by PriceMinister, are designed to encourage reading and creativity in children from an early age. This national competition aims to promote a life-long love of reading, writing and illustrating.
  • We’re looking for budding writers and illustrators, aged between 5 and 11, to take part in the very first Little Tiger Press Young Writer & Illustrator Awards.

  • Up to £800 in PriceMinister vouchers for the winning school or organisation.
  • Up to £75 in PriceMinister vouchers for the individual winning entries.
  • A chance for pupils to meet the authors and illustrators at a special prize-giving and to join them in a free workshop.
  • Plus the winners of each award will have their work professionally designed and framed.

MAKE SURE TO CHECK OUT THEIR WEBSITE: http://www.childrens-books-award.co.uk/

I hope you know of someone that will be able to participate :)

I set up a formspring! Yeah, that's right. I couldn't resist any longer.

CLICKY if you want to ask me questions. About blogging, books, reading, writing, etc.



Anonymously, even. *gasp*

Get your creative hat on :)

I'm hoping it'll allow for more direct communication (& also a way to procrastinate). Since I know it takes me a while to work up the guts to ask somebody a question over the interwebs. So now, no guts needed! And this formspring thing will be especially nice since I'm awful with checking my email, tehe.


captivating thursday

Captivating Thursday is a meme hosted by me that showcases beautiful things--whether it be photos, quotes, poetry, music, videos, or anything else that I happen upon.

"I'm beginning to think that maybe it's not just how much you love someone. Maybe what matters is who you are when you're with them."

— Anne Tyler, The Accidental Tourist

"His talent was as natural as the pattern that was made by the dust on a butterfly's wings. At one time he understood it no more than the butterfly did and he did not know when it was brushed or marred."

--Ernest Hemingway


"In nature, nothing is perfect and everything is perfect. Trees can be contorted, bent in weird ways and they're still beautiful."

— Alice Walker, The Color Purple


"Then you must teach my daughter this same lesson. How to lose your innocence but not your hope. How to laugh forever."

— Amy Tan, The Joy Luck Club

The Race by Sharon Olds (courtesy of The Best American Poetry)

When I got to the airport I rushed up to the desk,
bought a ticket, ten minutes later
they told me the flight was canceled, the doctors
had said my father would not live through the night
and the flight was canceled. A young man
with a dark brown mustache told me
another airline had a nonstop
leaving in seven minutes. See that
elevator over there, well go
down to the first floor, make a right, you'll
see a yellow bus, get off at the
second Pan Am terminal, I
ran, I who have no sense of direction
raced exactly where he'd told me, a fish
slipping upstream deftly against
the flow of the river. I jumped off that bus with those
bags I had thrown everything into
in five minutes, and ran, the bags
wagged me from side to side as if
to prove I was under the claims of the material,
I ran up to a man with a flower on his breast,
I who always go to the end of the line, I said
Help me. He looked at my ticket, he said
Make a left and then a right, go up the moving stairs and then
run. I lumbered up the moving stairs,
at the top I saw the corridor,
and then I took a deep breath, I said
goodbye to my body, goodbye to comfort,
I used my legs and heart as if I would
gladly use them up for this,
to touch him again in this life. I ran, and the
bags banged against me, wheeled and coursed
in skewed orbits, I have seen pictures of
women running, their belongings tied
in scarves grasped in their fists, I blessed my
long legs he gave me, my strong
heart I abandoned to its own purpose,
I ran to Gate 17 and they were
just lifting the thick white
lozenge of the door to fit it into
the socket of the plane. Like the one who is not
too rich, I turned sideways and
slipped through the needle's eye, and then
I walked down the aisle toward my father. The jet
was full, and people's hair was shining, they were
smiling, the interior of the plane was filled with a
mist of gold endorphin light,
I wept as people weep when they enter heaven,
in massive relief. We lifted up
gently from one tip of the continent
and did not stop until we set down lightly on the
other edge, I walked into his room
and watched his chest rise slowly
and sink again, all night
I watched him breathe.

Are you participating in Captivating Thursday? LINK HERE :)