Saturday, January 31, 2009

Auction is Up: Curious?

For those that don't follow Leave a Mark, you might not know that the book is up for auction now...curious?? Yes, you are, so go and check it out. Bid what you can. Get in touch with people and see if they are interested. Spread the word!! This is the second last book for First Book and we want to donate as MUCH as we can.

To find the book, simply go here!

If you don't like cuss words or something, don't read this, but I think it's hilarious...and well-said. LOL

Funny Harry Potter Pictures, Images and Photos

Friday, January 30, 2009

Harry Potter Week + Catherine Ryan Hyde

harry potter Pictures, Images and Photos

That's right everyone! I'm having a Harry Potter week this week, starting tomorrow! There won't be reviews of the books or movies or anything like that...but more of a focus on some other Harry Potter related items.

An interview with two amazing girls that took their love for Harry Potter and created something wonderful. This will include a mini contest of sorts for those that read the interview!

A review of a non-Harry Potter book that is all about Harry Potter. :-)

And finally...our next auction for Leave a Mark will include Harry Potter in more ways then one. You'll find the auction (starting tomorrow and ending on February 7) here!

As for everything else, that will be on THIS blog, so be sure to bookmark both pages and keep checking back for all things Harry Potter.

Finally, for something non-Harry Potter related, I have a video of author Catherine Ryan Hyde reading an excerpt from Becoming Chloe (awesome book, read it!). It's very well-done, with an awesome beginning and end (in my honest opinion), so check it out and leave your thoughts as well. Share the video. Buy the book!

"Interview Me"

ABOUT ME Pictures, Images and Photos

I was sent some interview questions from Smitten by Britain. If you want to be interviewed (new questions of course!) then read the instructions at the bottom of this post. Thanks Melissa! This was fun. Sorry my answers aren't too creative. LOL

1. What is your blog about and what does blogging do for you?

I have my main blog, Shooting Stars Zine, which focuses on all aspects of entertainment from music, books, movies, plays, TV, and more. I recently started a side project called Bridge the Gap which is all about things that are Non-American, or not completely American. Blogging is a lot of fun for me and I love meeting people and learning about new things. It's exciting and I hope to do it for a long time!

2. Where do you live? Describe what life is like there.

I live in Kentucky. Life is pretty ordinary. Nothing too exciting really goes on. I mean, I'm a college student, so I have that to deal with that (yes, deal with...I'm not THAT into school! haha). Our weather is insane though half the time. A teacher of mine from middle school used to say, "If you visit Kentucky and hate the weather, stay a few days, it'll change." It really does switch back and forth pretty fast a lot of the time, and you can get random weather a lot. I had snow on Spring Break once. That was fun! The main thing I hate about where I live though is that nobody really comes here....concerts, author signings, etc. Come on, guys!!

3. What did you want to grow up to be when you were little?

I wanted to be a teacher for a long time growing up. Not so much anymore, just because I don't think I'd be able to get up in front of people everyday and try and teach! lol

4. If you were an alien from outer space and you were given a chance to visit just one place on planet earth, which would it be?

Oh gosh, just one? I've always wanted to go to England, but I don't think that would be nearly exciting enough (for an answer, I mean!). I don't know though! Either England or Australia honestly. :-) I'd love to visit South Africa too!

5. If you were given the chance to live forever, would you? If not, how old would you like to be when you die?

Oh no, I would never want to live forever. How boring would that be? If I could live to an old age, I'm not sure...Maybe 100 or something. It's a good number, right?

Want to be Interviewed?

1. If you want to be interviewed, leave me a comment saying, "Interview me."
2. I will respond by emailing you five questions. (I get to pick the
3. You will update your blog with the answers to the questions and let me know when you have posted it, so I can link it.
4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview
someone else in the same post.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask
them five questions.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Zomo Interview + Contest!!

Interview with Zomo
Questions by: Lauren
Zomo Myspace

After this interview, stick around to enter the contest to win Zomo's two current releases. I should have the album reviews up in the next couple days as well (comments on those will get extra entries!)

Do you get the inspiration for your music from real life, other people's stories, or are they simply made up?

Justin: It's really a combination of all three. A lot of the songs on For The Muses were the direct result of what I was going through in my life at that point. At around that time (2002-2003) I fell in love with writing songs that were almost straight out of the page of a diary. I wanted to lay it all out there for people to hear. I was sort of a shy person back then and I didn't know how to get my feeling across other than by singing these loud rock songs. Gradually, I really tried to get away from all of that and try new things. Triangle of Drunk was mostly written by Dustin and me as we walked on the boardwalk and sat and hung out in the diners of Wildwood, NJ. We just wrote whatever was in our heads. "A song about a Green Box?" Sure, why not. That sounds interesting. That was really our approach at the time.

Dustin: Our songs are inspired by the world around us. From the ambiguous lyrics of "Green Box" to the more personal, heart-felt lyrics of "All My Love", we pull from our experiences in whatever fashion that suits the song. Lyrically Justin and I have started writing more together, picking and pulling apart ideas to come up with a cohesive thought we can write the music around. And sometimes that thought morphs quite a bit throughout the structuring of the song. We have gotten a bit more abstract in our writing lately, focusing on a concrete idea, but using more colorful imagery to convey a sense, or a feel for that idea. The inspiration for a new song comes in unexpected forms, such as a dusty field, a bee hive, a certain color, or less tangible ideas such as alienation, sex and love. Occasionally musical ideas inspire the lyrics to our songs, but usually the music is written around the lyrics, as we try to capture a sense of the story with sound; painting a picture of the words with chords and notes.

If someone was new to your music, what song do you think they should try and listen too first and why?

Justin: From For The Muses, I would have to say "All That I Want Is You". I think it is the most epic thing we have done and one of my proudest moments as a member of Zomo. It's a simple tune but it has interesting parts and a cool arrangement. At the time, it was really a break through for me to write that song and a break through for Zomo to arrange it. On Triangle of Drunk, I would pick "This Is My Life In An A-Frame House". When we wrote the song, we had this drum beat that we kept beat boxing back and forth. I recorded a few small parts to the song with Dustin…vocals, distorted bass, and a weird sounding guitar, and then said "It should sound like Devo, but not as weird and more rockin'". I didn't play anything else on the song. Dustin took that idea, had an amazing vision, and brought it to life. He took the song to a new level and I think this song is the best representation of the collaboration that goes on in Zomo.

Dustin: I would have them listen to "I Am A Rock" from the album "For The Muses", as it captures a few different sides to our music. I would also suggest "This Is My Life In An A-Frame House" off of the album "Triangle of Drunk" as the song captures a nice rockin' groove and has some interesting little parts to it. It also shows a bit of the quirky direction the band is headed in, but retains the edge that our first album has.

If you had to describe your sound in three words, what would they be?

Justin: Technicolor Photosynthesis Machine.

Dustin: Groovy, Inventive, Unconventional

Since you have day job, do you simply make music as side project or would you like to see it get bigger? Do you ever play any live shows, or have you in the past?

Justin: I don't really see my life as a series of projects, but instead I feel like it is one long mixtape. On that mixtape is Zomo, my other band Belsapadore (, various recordings I make in my home that really don't relate to any specific music project, my life with my family, and my work as a librarian. It all really meshes together into one big long saga which is still unfolding. If Zomo got bigger, that would be totally wonderful, but I don't mind it staying where it is. I really just roll with the punches and take life one breath at a time. I really enjoy being in Zomo and working with Dustin just because the friendship and creativity is what does it for me. We've never really made money at this and that is ok. Our friendship and creative energy really brings a smile to my face. We have played live shows in the past. In fact, we use to do that a lot, but instead have now focused our energy into creating really great albums. I long to create an amazing album where you can just put on some headphones and it takes you somewhere you have never been.

Dustin: We have played many shows, the majority been performed back in Pennsylvania when the band had a bass player. We have played a few acoustic shows with just Justin and I, but they seem to lack the energy that a full band show has, so we decided to focus more on studio work for now until we find the right bass player. I would love to see the popularity of Zomo increase, but focus our attention towards increasing our online presence. Although I would love to play some shows here and there, I think I would rather the fan base come from online promotion and word of mouth than from extensive touring.

What are your current plans for releasing any new music?

Justin: Songs are always being written by Dustin and I, either as a duo or individually, so there is no short supply of material. I'd love to do a double album in the future…just some huge thing that covers so much territory, but we'll have to see about that. Releasing a double album can be scary…I always worry about overloading the listener with music. As far as releasing any music, I really want to explore having an online store to sell digital copies of our album. I still want to also have our albums available physically, but only on vinyl. I think the CD is a dead format. There are too many of them and they really don't offer much. With a digital release, we can pack a lot of cool music and artwork into the album and not have to worry about spending too much money getting things printed up. The vinyl release would be like a really cool collector's edition and would probably have a small limited printing.

Our upcoming third album is tentatively entitled "Eleven Dates 'Til Death" and may or may not be a concept album. It just keeps evolving so much that it's hard to put any sort of label on the thing. All I know is we are having a blast working on it, recording ideas here and there, taking walks through amusement parks for inspiration and sound recordings, writing individually and collectively, and we have developed a rather extensive bit of material to work with. The album might be released in the form of digital downloads, although we are considering a short run of CD's, and also a limited addition vinyl pressing.

As a librarian, if you had to write the music and lyrics for the soundtrack of any book, what would it be and why?

Justin: Oddly enough, I don't read a lot of Fiction! The teens that come to my library always get on my case about that one. They call me "Justin The Teen Librarian Who Doesn't Read Any Books".

I read a lot of non fiction, mostly stuff on the history of music and the different eras and such. I do remember reading "Walden" by Henry David Thoreau quite a bit over a span of like 6 years. That book is a lot to take in! I would love to do a Walden rock opera. Who doesn't want to hear a song about bean fields?


That's right, you have a chance at winning Zomo's two current available albums For the Muses and Triangle of Drunk.

There will be TWO WINNERS, who will BOTH get the the TWO albums.

DEADLINE: Saturday, February 7th

How to enter?

1 entry: by commenting on this interview
2 entries: for commenting on the album reviews (they will be up in the next day or so)
1 entry: for commenting on something else on the zine and leaving a comment here telling me you did!


Open to: Everyone! However, only one can be Intl, so post if you are from the US/Canada or somewhere else
That means, one can be from US/CA and one can be INTL, but both CAN BE from US/CA, they just both CANNOT be INTL. Make sense?

Thanks for stopping by. This contest is for the Bloggy Giveaways.

Wish-List-Wednesday: RENT

RENT: Live on Broadway DVD
Out on February 3, 2009

Rent has left Broadway, but they filmed one of the last performances and it is now being presented to all Rentheads out there on DVD. They did play this in theaters as a special presentation for a few days, and my sister and I went. I’d seen RENT performed live twice and even watched the movie many of times, but this experience is truly extraordinary. Filming the play live, it allows everyone a chance to practically be a part of the show. You get right up next to the actors, allowing a glimpse into the things you might not have noticed from far away.

The last time I saw RENT live, it was at the Nederlander theatre in New York City. By all means, that was a fabulous experience, and I’m so glad that I was able to see it before it closed on Broadway. However, for those that aren’t as lucky, this is your next opportunity. Almost all of the actors and actresses who were performing when I saw it in New York were there for this filming, except for the woman playing Joanne. I was rather shocked to go and see this and realize that Joanne was being played by the movie’s very own Tracie Thoms. It was amazing!

Basically, if you are a fan of RENT, you need this DVD, and I can’t wait until Tuesday so I can go and get it myself.

Win-It-Wednesday Overflow!

Un-Mainstream Mom Reads is giving away Skeleton Creek.

Shalonda is giving away some books in her first contest.

Harmony Book Reviews is giving away In Too Deep.

Brimful Curiosities is giving away Inkheart by Cornelia Funke.

A Daycare Life is giving away a Starbucks card.

A Family Completed is giving away a Victoria’s Secret Gift Card.

Ginnys Book is giving away an Amazon card.

Mom of 2 Dancers is also giving away an Amazon Card.

Mom Saves Money is giving away 100 coupons.

Unexpected Bliss is giving away a Visa gift card.

Unexpected Bliss is giving away an Amazon Card.

Frugal Finds has a Target gift card up for grabs.

This Side of Eternity has some gift cards and kid’s books up for grabs.

The Post It Place is giving away a gift card for a nice Valentine’s meal.

Red Sox Mommy is giving away Piggy Paint.

An Iowa Mom is giving away a Target gift card.

Connected 2 Christ has a Starbucks card up for grabs.

Miss Musing is giving away an Amazon card.

Diapers and Stilettos is giving away a Starbucks card and a surprise!

Devonshire Design is giving away a Barnes N Noble gift card.

Three Ps in a Pod is giving away a Starbucks card.

3 P's in a Pod

Fresh Ink Books is giving away My Father’s Paradise.

A Novel Menagerie is giving away a bookstore gift card and a bookcharmer bookmark.

After Graduation has an Amazon gift card up for grabs.

Rockin Mama is giving away season 3 of Jon and Kate Plus 8.

A Novel Menagerie is giving away The Makedown.

Love Giveaways! has a Rockin Prize Pack up for grabs.

Iowa Geek is giving away the Mary Kay Satin Set.

Daily Mish Mash has a Panera card up for grabs!

Just Jenn is giving away some mom pampering items!

Books by Their Cover is giving away North of Beautiful.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Have a Happy New Year, Lucy Silag!

Beautiful Americans Pictures, Images and PhotosInterview: Lucy Silag
Questions by: Lauren

Author Lucy Silag was kind enough to answer a few questions in promotion of her January release Beautiful Americans which is available now.

1. Do you remember how the idea for Beautiful Americans first came to you? Was it an idea, a character, or something else?

It was the summer of 2006; I was hanging out at my aunt Jeanne's house in Rhode Island and reminiscing about studying abroad in Germany and Hungary and how much fun it had been. I got the idea to write a book about a study-abroad program in Paris when I woke up the next morning, and spent the rest of the day hammering out the main characters as my cousin and I drove back to New York City in the rain. Paris seemed like the obvious setting for a young adult novel abroad, glamorous but still familiar in many ways. That night, I wrote the first two chapters. Alex and PJ were definitely the characters that came to me first, then Zack, then Olivia.

2. I really love the title of the book. Why did you decide on this? Did you have any other ideas that were in the running and do you care to share any?

I am terrible at coming up with titles! For the year I was writing this book, I'm embarrassed to admit that the working title was A YEAR IN PARIS. How boring, right? Then my agent and I were talking about my manuscript on the phone one day, and she said something about a scene being so "perfectly Paris," and we decided that should be the name of the book. During the editing process, however, I was inspired to change the story so that this novel had a more mysterious quality, and I needed a less perky title. BEAUTIFUL AMERICANS seemed to have the right mix of international flavor and sexiness to connote what kind of book this is. I can't take credit for it, though; my brilliant editor Lexa Hillyer was the one who suggested it to me.

(Because I still love the alliteration of PERFECTLY PARIS, I decided to use it for my blog:

3. How will you celebrate the release of your novel? Or how did you celebrate when it was picked up by a publishing company?

I can't wait for BEAUTIFUL AMERICANS to be released on January 8th! My mom and I are having a party with old friends and family in Carmel Valley, CA, and I'm going to be doing some bookstore events in Iowa, New York, and Providence for my friends and family in those places during the last part of the month.

It was a wonderful coincidence that Razorbill signed up BEAUTIFUL AMERICANS two days before my friend Brian and I threw ourselves a huge karaoke birthday party in Brooklyn to celebrate our 25th birthdays. A bunch of friends came in from out of town, so I got to celebrate with a big group of my favorite people. It was amazing timing!

4. Are you currently working on any other story ideas? Anything you can let us know about now?

Well, I'm very busy writing the sequel to BEAUTIFUL AMERICANS, tentatively titled WANDERLUST. And after that, there will be a third novel to round out the BEAUTIFUL AMERICANS trilogy. I'm also working on an adult novel with a good amount of YA-crossover appeal that takes place in Germany, but that one is in very early stages. Right now it is all BEAUTIFUL AMERICANS, all the times!

5. As a freelance writer, how did you get involved in that type of writing? What publications and/or sites have you worked for in the past? Any advice for people wishing to go into freelancing?

I took a great travel writing class from the Gotham Writer's Workshop in New York, which really helped me learn how to organize and pitch story ideas to magazines. I was also lucky my first year in New York to meet some good magazine contacts for whom I wrote my first freelance travel stories: one about Sarajevo for New York magazine, another about a trip to Guatemala for Real Simple Travel, and some other small pieces for the San Francisco Chronicle Datebook and the New York magazine website. I've written personal essays for Salon, Allure, and The Independent Sunday Magazine in the UK, and rather than travel stories, I'm working on more of those lately. My dream would be to one day write something for the New Yorker or the New York Times . . .

Freelancing is a tough business! I've been turned down or simply ignored so many times, but that's the way it goes. My advice would just be to try to network as much as possible, because connections are priceless when it comes to getting professional feedback about your writing. I've learned a lot from rejections I've received--if someone has met you, they are a lot more likely to let you know why your piece isn't going to work for them, and that can only improve your pitch next time.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Celebrate Bloggers: Please Read!

Smiley Face Pictures, Images and Photos

I know that Amy has done a Book Blogger Appreciation Week and I think that's an amazing idea and even hope to help with this year's celebration. However, I was thinking that it might be nice to do something to show appreciation for specific bloggers (this can be any blogger, though I do know most YA bloggers read my blog so it would be nice to at least START with one of them).

The idea is to have one or two bloggers be picked (by other bloggers) each month and during that month, other bloggers need to come up with something to send to that blogger. It doesn't have to be anything huge. It can simply be a card saying how you were inspired to start a blog because of them, or read a book because of them, or that you really just love their blog and think they are doing a good job. Show your appreciation in any way you can!

If you can't mail something, write a really nice email and send it to them during their month. It doesn't matter!

Now, if you are picked, what do you do?
-Let us know if you don't mind anyone having your address to send their gift, or if you want certain people to have it and for everyone to send their gift to THEM and they will send everything to YOU (mix it so not ONE person has to send everything). Does that make sense?

Who can be a part of this?

-Again, this can be anyone, but I'd love to get this set up this week so that we have two people picked for the month of February and one of them should be YA, since like I said, mostly YA bloggers read my stuff (or so it seems based on comments!)

-Anyone can be nominated. After that, I'll take who got the most nominations and put it up for vote so that we have two people picked (Thanks to Megan for letting me know I skipped this step in explaining!) If it ties, we'll try and break the tie or simply pick randomly between the people. If you are PICKED but want to step down, that's up to you. We'll contact you if you are picked of course!

What to do now?

-Post your thoughts in the comments.
-Feel free to start nominating.
-Spread the word to anyone you know!

I think that's it. If you have a question, let me know. If you have a suggestion, let me know too. I'm trying to do this the best I can, but I can always use help or ideas. It's just supposed to be fun!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Francia Raisa Interview

Francia Raisa
Interview by: Lauren

Picture from: Her Myspace, I take no credit!

I was invited to to participate in a conference call with actress Francia Raisa the other day, and it went very well. Francia was a pleasure to talk too and hopefully everyone will check her out as Adrian Lee on the show The Secret Life of the American Teenager. You can catch new episodes at 8/7C on ABC Family.

Lauren:I was wondering, for the character Adrian Lee did you put a certain amount of your actual self or people that you knew into the role or did you just kind of try to make her her own specific person?

F. Raisa:It’s funny, because every time I run into people from high school I always tell them; because I went to Alemany High School and I always say, “Wow, did that school help me a lot with my character,” because I knew a lot of people similar to Adrian and then I did put myself a little into her. I mean I feel like in every character we put a little of ourselves into it, so that helped me a lot.

Lauren: For the show in general where do you think you see it kind of going for your character or just the show?

F. Raisa:I see her, hopefully, getting together with Ricky and finally being happy and seeing her family get together and her having a change of heart of how she’s living her life and the way she’s acting.

Lauren:I read that you were going to be in a film (A Soul Disowned), but I haven’t really heard much about it, so do you know when it will be released or anything about that?

F. Raisa:Girl, I have no idea. I just finished it in August. They’re probably editing and doing everything right now, so I have no word because they’re all in Spain, so we’ll see.

That’s cool. On our site, we talk about music and books a lot, so is there anything that you’re personally a fan of at the moment that you think people should check out?

F. Raisa:Well, as far as books, I’ve always been a fan of To Kill a Mockingbird. I love that book, so please check it out. It’s a great book. Music and stuff, I’m really into hip-hop and R&B. R&B is like my favorite.

Lauren: Well, I know for the show they usually have different directors for the episodes, but I was wondering if you could work with a certain director or have somebody guest star on the show who would you like to be involved with with that?

F. Raisa:I mean, come on, who wouldn’t want Steven Spielberg directing, right? So that’s one.

Lauren: True.

F. Raisa:As a guest star, I mean if I could have Johnny Depp on there, I mean hello, but actually, I would really like to see Jason Priestly guest star on it. He directed and like I said, I really enjoyed working with him, but guest starring, I think that’d be really interesting, especially it would have been nice if he played someone’s dad. I don’t know.

That would be very cool. I was wondering for any future work if there’s anything specific that you wanted to go into, like a certain kind of genre for film or something different?

F. Raisa:I mean in the future I, obviously, definitely want to do a dance film or something involving martial arts, but I really like where I’m going right now as far as hitting teenagers and setting an example for them and stuff like that. So films like Thirteen or so I would love to do.

Just like with the Drew Seeley interview, this is not the whole conference, but simply the questions that I personally asked Francia. If you want everything, let me know and leave your email in the comments or email me at Lauren51990 AT aol DOT com and I'll send it off to you. If you were one of the people who left me questions for Francia, you might want to see the whole thing, because some other people asked a few questions that I had in mind at the beginning.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Thursday Thinker: Advanced Movie Copies

Pooh thinking Pictures, Images and Photos

Today's Thursday Thinker is about movies. Most book reviewers known by now that there are a such thing as ARC's or Advanced Reader Copies, which is a book that will be released in the future...and yet you can get an early copy to read and review. Now, what if you were given Advanced Movie Copies or AMC's? What would you want to see at the present moment?

For me, it would be Coraline (though I haven't read the book yet and I know it's coming out relatively soon, I'd love to see it early!), Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (of course! It was supposed to be out already after all!)

I'd also really like to see I Love You, Man instead of waiting until March (I believe it comes out then.) I think it looks hilarious! Has anyone seen the trailer for it?

Anyway, your turn! Post your thoughts on the comments.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Mr. President

In honor of the Inauguration of President Barack Obama yesterday, I present you with the review for this short book about all the past presidents, ending with Obama. Sorry for the lack of a photo, but I wasn't able to find one!

Mr. President: A Book of U.S. Presidents
By: George Sullivan
Review by: Lauren

Also reviewed for TeensReadToo

Mr. President is a short novel perfect for anyone who wants to know the basics of how one becomes president, as well as some basic information on the 44 we've had so far (yes, that includes Obama!) For this type of book, Sullivan did a very good job, giving information in an easy way.

It's a fast read that gives some more insight into major events through certain President's careers, fun facts about different heads of state, and even sheds some light on certain "unknown" presidents that might not come up much. As for the fun facts, you'll find out who the tallest and shortest presidents were, who had the most eccentric pets in the White House, and even who was the first woman to run for president (hint: It's not Hillary Clinton!)

Overall, I think this is a really well-written novel that's great for middle school children learning History, or even someone older who wants to brush up on their facts!

Wish-List Wednesday

I have one item for this week's Wish-List Wednesday, but you won't find it here...instead, you must head over to Bridge the Gap.

Be sure to check out the previous posts if you missed them. Thanks!


A High and Hidden Place is giving away some books.

The YA Connection is giving away Wintergirls.

Presenting Lenore is giving away a Penguin Prize Pack.

Harmony Book Reviews is giving away Take the Reins.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Bride Wars Review + Trailer

bride wars Pictures, Images and Photos

Bride Wars Review
By: Lauren

I found Bride Wars to be a fun film that girlfriends will love seeing together. It’s not downright hilarious, but I did find it funny in most instances and I think Kate Hudson did a brilliant job. It was a lot of fun to see former Reba star Steve Howey as well, since I haven’t seen him play any character apart from Van.

On a scale of 1 to 5, how soon should you see this film? I’d say about a…3. It’s a good Girls’ Night Out flick that will probably have most women nodding along with the crazy jealousy and antics some girls really do get up too, but it’s nothing that it’s utterly important to view right away.

When going to see any movie, I love to see the trailers in the beginning. If I miss them, it’s always a real bummer, because it’s my main way of seeing what will be coming out in the future. While I was at the theater seeing Bride Wars, I saw the trailer for All About Steve, which starts Sandra Bullock and comes out in March. I think it looks cute, funny, and I love that Sandra is playing such a quirky, fun character.


Monday, January 19, 2009

Entertainment Weekly: Heath Ledger

Entertainment Weekly: January 23, 2009
Review by: Lauren
Photo: This photo appears on the cover (at least it does if you are a subscriber)

Now that I have a subscription to Entertainment Weekly, I thought it might be fun to kind of “review” the issues (one a week) so that those of you who would need to buy the magazines every week can see if it’s worth it to your or not. I also have a couple other subscriptions, so I might try and “review” those as well if people are interested or I find the time.

Anyway, this issue’s big article is about Heath Ledger, whose one year anniversary of his death is coming up this week. I didn’t know a ton about Heath before he died, but this article really shows the side of him that the public wouldn’t have known about. He wanted to do the work that he really loved and hated the idea of winning awards. The whole article is mostly told through the memories of those he worked with, from Catherine Hardwicke (director of Lords of Dogtown) to Gary Oldman (from The Dark Knight). It was a very illuminating story of a life that definitely ended too soon. I’d recommend this issue for the article alone if you are at all interested in Heath.

In the TV on DVD section, I found an article about the British TV series Skins. The title sounds vaguely familiar, but I didn’t know what the show was about until reading the review and looking it up. It reminds me a lot of the show Degrassi, with teens dealing with all sorts of problems, but much more realistic in ways because of what the UK will allow in their shows. It sounds great and apparently the first season is available now in the US, but I did hear it’s a bit different then the UK version, which is sad….I, however, still really want it because it sounds like an awesome show. Not to mention that Nicholas Hoult stars in it and I haven’t seen any of his work since About A Boy (he played Marcus).

There are also quite a few pages in the Winter TV Guide, showcasing new shows and old hits. Two of the shows I was excited to see mentioned, with brief quotes from actors and actresses, were United States of Tara and Trust Me. I wish I could view USOT, and am really excited to start watching Trust Me.

Now, for my final note, I bring you to one of the best sections in Entertainment Weekly…Books. The main review for this issue is for the novel Beat the Reaper by Josh Bazell. I know a lot of book bloggers have this and probably even have a review up somewhere, so I figured it was worth mentioning that you can see what a print publication has to say. I have this book as well, and I hope to be able to read it at some point in the near future. It really does sound interesting!! To find out what Benjamin Svetkey thought, as well as the grade Beat the Reaper was given, you’ll have to pick up an issue of this week’s Entertainment Weekly.

The Secret Life of the American Teenager

Francia Raisa Pictures, Images and Photos

On Saturday, I posted the interview that I did with Drew Seeley through a conference call. Well, this Wednesday I have been invited to partake in another call with actress Francia Raisa who plays Adrian Lee on the show "The Secret Life of the American Teenager."

When I was asked to interview Drew, I only knew a day ahead of time. Since I know a bit more in advance this time around for Francia, I wanted to see if any of you all had questions for you. If you do, leave them in the comments and I'll try and ask some of them for you all.

Thanks, and don't forget to read Drew's interview below if you haven't already.

Have a Happy New Year, Tina Ferraro!

Interview with: Tina Ferraro
Questions by: Lauren
The ABC's of Kissing Boys is OUT NOW!

In The ABC’s of Kissing Boys, your main character, Parker, plays soccer. Have you ever played? Why did you decide to make this Parker's sport of choice?

No, I have never played soccer. The sport was decided primarily by time of year--I needed a fall sport--and the fact that I had several players in my immediate world who would “keep me honest.”

How exactly did you come up with the actual ABC’s in the book? Do you have something for every letter?

Research! I bought a book about kissing, and scoured the internet for everything I could find. Then I played with the words until I could find ways to portray them in alphabetic form. There are 27 chapters, A through Z and then an epilogue title that my daughter suggested as a joke, but I knew immediately was prefect.

On your website, you have a quote by Mark Twain ("Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter."), where after it you say that's why you write young adult. Do you have any other favorite quotes? If so, what are they?

Huh...I’m not sure I have other favorite quotes as much as sayings. “We’ll make that work,” is one of my big ones, which generally means, “Yeah, I have no idea how I’m going to pull that off, but I’ll worry about that later.” Which believe me, is pretty much how I felt about The ABC’s of Kissing Boys when I first proposed it to my editor!

As an author that frequently blogs, do you think it's a good promotional tool? Or is it simply a way of keeping in touch with fans?

Yes! Although I suspect I have more writer-friends and adults reading my blogs than fans. I do always keep my topics teen-friendly, though, and I’m thrilled when readers leave me comments.

In honor of The ABC’s of Kissing Boys, what was your first kiss like?

LOL! Well, like I say in the acknowledgements of the book, when it comes to qualifying a first kiss, I gotta ask if Spin the Bottle counts! If it does, it was quick and embarrassing. And if it doesn’t...well, ditto!

Finally, do your children read your books and if so, what do they think?

All three of my kids are proud of my accomplishments. My oldest just talked about me in his speech class, what it’s like to have an author for a mom. My daughter reads and critiques all my books, and helped me keep Kate in How to Hook a Hottie is so sensible and logical. My younger son really likes my books, and gave me a compliment on Top Ten Uses for an Unworn Prom Dress that I liked so much that I put it on my website: “Pretty good for a book with a pink cover.”

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The United States of Tara

The United States of Tara is a new show on Showtime. The premeire will air tonight (Sunday, January 18) at 10 PM ET/PT. I, however, do not have this channel. I wish I did, but sadly I do not. If you do have it though, you need to watch this show. I saw the very first episode and you can too on their website (be warned, viewer discretion is advised) and it looks amazing. I'm so upset I won't be able to continue watching. The only thing that is pulling me through is that I'm GUESSING they will release the season on DVD later...or I hope they do, because I must watch this show somehow!

Anyway, if you aren't sure what The United Sates of Tara is you go: Tara (played by Toni Collette) is a wife and mother of two who has Dissociative Identity Disorder (multiple personalities, basically). Besides "Tara", she's also a biker dude named Buck, a homebaker mom named Alice, and a wild teen girl who goes simply b T.

Along with Toni, the cast includes John Corbett (Max, the father), Keir Gilchrist (Marshall, the son who is great. I'd love to see more by Keir), Brie Larson (Kate, the daughter), and Rosemarie DeWitt (Charmaine, Tara's sister).

Based on the first episode, this show will be in parts sweet, hilarious, sad, thought-provoking, and interesting. The United States of Tara is brought to you by Steven Spielberg and Diablo Cody (who wrote some of the episodes, and wrote Juno, for those that don't know who she is by name!)

Here is the shows' trailer, for the very first episode. Again, there is an advisory on the show so just be warned if you're younger...though, personally, I don't think it's that bad:

Anyway, that's all I wanted to say. Does anyone have Showtime? Are you going to watch the series? Even if you don't, have you seen the first episode or want to watch it now?

Nobody is telling me to post this...I just thought I'd get the word out there and see who knows about it and wants to watch.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Interview with Drew Seeley (Another Cinderella Story)

Drew Seeley Pictures, Images and Photos

This week I had the pleasure of joining in a conference call with actor Drew Seeley, who also sings and dances. In the past he's worked with High School Musical, but nowadays he's recording his own album and can be seen in Another Cinderella Story with Selena Gomez (Wizards of Waverly Place). To catch the movie (and I think it looks cute and will be watching!) be sure to have ABC Family on at 8 P.M. EST Sunday (TOMORROW) night. If you miss it, simply look out for a re-run.

Lauren:I was wondering, well, the Hillary Duff movie was A Cinderella Story, and this one is Another Cinderella Story, which kind of basically helps people right away know what it’s going to be about, but if you had to kind of come up with another title instead of something so obvious what would you kind of refer to it as?

D. Seeley:Cinderella Story II, I don’t know. I mean, you know what I’m saying? I don’t know. I think it’s a good title, Another Cinderella Story, because A Cinderella Story, the Chad Michael Murray/Hillary Duff version wasn’t the first one either. There have been probably 50 Cinderella stories in the last….


D. Seeley: So maybe there is a more creative title, but I can’t think of one right now. I just really don’t think that anybody that tunes in and just expects it to be the same as the last one or the last couple ones that we’ve seen is going to get that. I really think that we did something different with it that I’m proud of.

Lauren:Definitely. I just thought I’d see if there was anything else that you kind of refer to it as.

D. Seeley:Cinderella, One More Dance.

Another Cinderella Story Pictures, Images and Photos

Lauren: That works. I was also wondering, since you worked … with Selena … if you would ever be willing to be a guest star on her show, The Wizards of Waverly Place, or--?

D. Seeley:Yes, of course. That’d be a lot of fun. I would definitely be down for that. After I did the High School Musical concert tour, I was a guest star on Ashley’s show. I did the Suite Life, and that was really a lot of fun, so yes. Tell somebody to give me a buzz, and we’ll make it happen.

Lauren:That would be cool. Yes. I’m sure a lot of people, after seeing the movie, would find that a lot of fun. Also, I was wondering, since you’ve worked with like the singers and actors for High School Musical and Selena and everything, they all kind of have the pop sound. I was wondering if there was any kind of music that you like that was a total different genre that might surprise people.

D. Seeley:I’m a big fan of a lot of … like Hall & Oates and Phil Collins and The Police and that kind of thing, so I don’t know how many readers are familiar with a lot of those bands, but I get a lot of inspiration from that kind of stuff.

Lauren: Since you are very interested in dance music and acting, I was wondering if they remade a musical into a movie, even if it’s one that’s already been done before, which one would you like to be in?

D. Seeley:Singing In The Rain. I mean, you can’t be better than the original in that, so you’re destined to say Gene Kelly right there, but that would be a lot of fun. I mean, there have been a lot of musicals that would be a lot of fun. I know Footloose is being remade, so hopefully I’ll have some – you know, I hope that I can be involved in some way in that. That would be a lot of fun, so who knows.

Lauren:Definitely. Yes. I’m really big on musicals, so that would definitely be cool.

There you go! Now, these are only the questions that I personally asked Drew, but other people were in the conference asking questions as well, so if you want to read the whole transcript, leave a comment here telling me that and be sure to include your email and I'll send it your way. You'll even get to see how many times I said the word "like" in my first question!! hahah

Friday, January 16, 2009

Andy Samberg's Got an Album?!

That's right! Andy Samberg, Jorma Tacoone, and Akiva Schaffer or simply The Lonely Island have worked together for years (recently on Saturday Night Live), and are now releasing their very own album, Incredibad. It will be out on February 10th, from Universal Republic, so not too long now!

If you're a fan of Andy's on SNL, you're probably aware of at least one song he's done with the guests on the show. That's just one reason you should already be excited about this release, but if you aren't, here is some of the tracks:

'Jizz in My Pants,' 'I'm On a Boat' (featuring T-Pain), 'Sax Man' (featuring Jack Black), 'Boombox' (featuring Julian Casablancas), 'Dream Girl' (featuring Norah Jones), 'Santana DVX' (featuring E-40), 'Who Said We’re Wack?' 'Punch You in the Jeans,' 'We like Sportz,' 'Shrooms' as well as SNL classics, 'Dick in a Box' (featuring Justin Timberlake), 'Lazy Sunday', 'Natalie's Rap' (featuring Natalie Portman & Chris Parnell), and 'Iran So Far' (featuring Adam Levine) and more...

The single for the album is "Jizz in My Pants" and you can listen to that on
youtube or buy it on itunes.

As a fan of Andy's stuff on SNL (and in turn Jorma and Akiva's through SNL), I'm quite excited. You should be too!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Thursday Thinker: Where Do You Post?

thinking pooh Pictures, Images and Photos

Thursday Thinker: Who do you review for? Where do you post your reviews?

I know a lot of people have blogs where they post book reviews now, but do you post them on other sites as well? Do you review books for other sites where you don't cross-promote them to your blog, or maybe you don't have a blog? Let me know!

As for me, I review books here on the blog for the most part. Every now and then I will review something for Teens Read Too, but I always post it on the blog as well, stating that it was for TRT.
However, I do review books for something else that most of you (if any of you) probably don't know about. I review two books EVERY month for Romantic Times Magazine. In fact, I just got two in the mail today and my reviews will be due on February 2.

I can't post these on my blog, so the way to see them is read the magazine or the website (I think they are enventually posted on the website, but I'm not 100 percent sure). Anyway, it's a lot of fun and I get to read books I might not normally get too. The downside is that there are two books I have to review in a CERTAIN time and that's hard enough as it is and I can't post it here, so things tend to slow down near the end of the month's when it comes to book reviews...if anyone has noticed.

Well, I decided to keep track of ALL the books I read during 2009, no matter what they are for, so if you go down the left hand side, you'll see my list: two books posted so far. As I read for Romantic Times and other things, I'll add the name of the if you have a question about it, simply let me know!

It's Not a Question of Gay or Straight...

love Pictures, Images and Photos

it's Just a Question of Love

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Wish-List Wednesday

This week's Wish-List Wednesday is a collection of 3 books that I want...and really, it DOES fit everyone else's Waiting On Wednesday because these books aren't out yet.
I have one book featured for Bridge the Gap, as well as all the other posts (if you haven't read them yet), so please read and comment.

Lipstick Apology by Jennifer Jabaley

Sometimes a good-bye is just the beginning…
When Emily Carson’s parents die in a plane crash, she’s left with nothing but her mother’s last words scrawled in lipstick on a tray table: “Emily, please forgive me.”

Now it’s fall and Emily moves to New York City— where she attracts the attention of two very different boys: the cute, popular Owen, and her quirky chemistry partner, Anthony. With the help of some surprising new friends, Emily must choose between the boy who helps her forget and the one who encourages her to remember, and ultimately heal.

Debut author Jennifer Jabaley has written a wonderful, feel-good romantic comedy with real emotional depth. Full of lovably wacky characters, Lipstick Apology is a heartwarming story about the true meaning of forgiveness.

I've wanted this one for a little while now. Jennifer is one of the 2009 Debutantes and Lipstick Apology is just one of the amazing releases.


Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

“Dead girl walking,” the boys say in the halls.
“Tell us your secret,” the girls whisper, one toilet to another.
I am that girl.
I am the space between my thighs, daylight shining through.
I am the bones they want, wired on a porcelain frame.
Lia and Cassie are best friends, wintergirls frozen in matchstick bodies, competitors in a deadly contest to see who can be the skinniest. But what comes after size zero and size double-zero? When Cassie succumbs to the demons within, Lia feels she is being haunted by her friend’s restless spirit.

I've read Speak by Anderson and it was amazing. I have yet to read anything else, though I've been meaning too for awhile. This book, however, looks amazing and I can't wait to read it!


Geektastic: Stories from the Nerd Herd

Acclaimed authors Holly Black (Ironside)and Cecil Castellucci (Boy Proof) have united in geekdom to edit short stories from some of the best selling and most promising geeks in young adult literature: M.T. Anderson, Libba Bray, Cassandra Clare, Tracy Lynn, Cynthia and Greg Leitich Smith, David Levithan, Kelly Link, Barry Lyga, Wendy Mass, Garth Nix, Scott Westerfield, Lisa Yee, and Sara Zarr.

With illustrated interstitials from comic book artists Hope Larson and Bryan Lee O'Malley, Geektastic covers all things geeky, from Klingons and Jedi Knights to fan fiction, theater geeks, and cosplayers. Whether you're a former, current, or future geek, or if you just want to get in touch with your inner geek, Geektastic will help you get your geek on!

I. Need. This. Book. In. My. Life. Right. Now.
That pretty much covers it. I'm definitely a self-proclaimed nerd in so many ways, and I think this will be a great anthology. I really want it so bad!

Little Miss Matched Review + Contest

Little Miss Matched
Review by: Lauren
Little Miss Matched Website

Little Miss Matched is a website filled with cute and funky shirts, clothes, wallets, and more for men, women, and children. I was given a few items to look over and review, to further help you all learn about this site and the first one was a wallet.


Personally, I think this is very cute and just the right size! One side opens with a snap, giving you plenty of room for money and your cards. The other side opens and closes with a zipper. This section gives you two sides to put your change or any other small items you wish to stick in your wallet. Another fun part of this wallet is that it comes with a clasp so you can hook the wallet onto a purse or such.

My next item is a change pouch:


I’m officially in love with this item. Instead of sticking all of your change in your wallet or at the bottom of your bag, purse, couch, etc., this change pouch is the next best thing. Using what essentially looks like a baby’s sock, they’ve added a snap clasp on top so that you can fill said sock with all of your change. The design is fun and perfect for everyone who wants something a bit different, and the sock itself is very soft!

Finally, the last item is a drawstring pouch:


You can use this pouch for the obvious things, such as another version of a change purse, and simply tighten the drawstring on top. However, this is great for some of your other needs as well, such as a cell phone, ipod, or even gift cards you don’t want to lose in the mess of your things!

The pictures I have included above are the ones that I personally received, but if you check out the website you’ll see the various other patterns and designs you can choose from. All of these things are very reasonably priced and would make a great gift for someone or even a fun item to for you to enjoy!

While looking on the site, I definitely know I’d love to buy a pair of the crazy patterned socks for a friend of mine. She’s always wearing two different socks, instead of the same color or design, and Little Miss Matched has some perfect items! Her birthday is in May, so I’m thinking I’ll be checking back soon.

Finally, here is the contest information. No, it’s not something for Shooting Stars Zine, but it still looks fun and the prize is amazing. I wish I was at all artistic! The point of this contest is to design a pair of socks that DO NOT match, yet of course, go together in some way. The winner will be decided, in the end, by the fans’ votes and if you happen TO BE the winner, you’ll have your socks go into production for the site and will receive 500 dollars and five packs of your own socks! To learn more, click the link!
Full Details


The Book Muncher is holding a 40,000 hits contest.

One and a ½ Men and Me has a starbucks gift card to give away.

J. Kaye’s Book Blog is giving away Kissed by an Angel.

Sarah’s Random Musings has three books up for grabs!

greenbeanteenqueen has a few books being given away.

A Bookworm’s World is giving away 3 audiobooks of James Patterson’s Cross Country. US and Canada only, no P.O. boxes. Ends February 2.

Fresh Ink Books is giving away Letters Between Us and The Gate House.

Harmony Book Reviews is giving away Beautiful Americans.

The Girls' Book of Glamour Review

The Girls' Book of Glamour: A Guide to Being a Goddess by Sally Jeffrie
Review by: Lauren
Also reviewed for Teens Read Too.

The Girls’ Book of Glamour: A Guide to Being a Goddess by Sally Jeffrie is a short, cute read all about how to be the best, prettiest, most confident girl you can. The book is written in sections, with titles such as How to Customize Your School Uniform, How to Make Your Own Lip Gloss, and even How to Soothe Tired Feet.

The Girls’ Book of Glamour is great for giving good ideas on how to clean your makeup brushes, exit a limo properly, and make tie-dyed shirts in a fun manner. All of these things are perfect for girls of different ages to know, but there are a few things that aren’t something you would actually want to try and do, such as follow most of the tips on how to be a hand model. This type of information is more of a humorous read, then a practical guide.

Overall, this was a really cute book, and features some things that young girls, teens, and adults might wish to accomplish with some help!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Have a Happy New Year, Eileen Cook!

Interview with: Eileen Cook
Questions by: Lauren
Eileen's Website

Eileen's newest novel, What Would Emma Do?, has been released. To learn more about the book and Eileen, please visit her website! This is our first edition of Have a Happy New Year. Three more interviews to come throughout January, hopefully a couple reviews, and perhaps one more contest. You'll need to check back to see!

1. What made you decide to have Emma live in such a religious town? What are some things they are "no-no" about?

I had recently re-read the Crucible by Arthur Miller. This is a play about the Salem witch trials that explores how people can turn and blame others. It is a great example of the danger of group think. I started to wonder what the equivalent of being accused of witchcraft would be today and that led to the original idea that became What Would Emma Do. I wanted to set it in a religious town and high school because I liked the idea of an organization that should be promoting positive values being twisted. There is nothing a writer likes better than a juicy conflict.

Emma's high school is strict. They have very clear ideas of right and wrong and thinking outside the box is not seen as a welcome trait. Emma isn't sure she wants to be outside the box or not- but she is interested in exploring it.

2. I'm always curious how authors decide on the names for their characters. Any behind-the-scenes notes about Emma's name or anyone else in the book?

In the first draft of the novel the main character was named Alice, however the publisher had several other titles coming out that used the same name. My editor asked me if I would consider changing her name which lead to a lengthy search. For me names have to "fit" the person which can mean a large amount of time spent poking around on baby name sites. I wanted a shorter name which eliminated several options. The name Emma means "universal" and I felt that many of the issues she faced were universal. Lastly, the more I thought about the name the more I could picture her as an Emma in my mind.

3. The line "If you want it that bad, it can't be good" is written under the title on the cover of your book. Did you come up with this line? How do you feel it describes the book all around?

I wish I could take credit for the line as it works so well- but I have to give the kudos to my editor, Anica Mrose Rissi. I like the line as it captures both the tone of the book (funny) as well as the centeral conflict of when you want something even though you know you shouldn't. My main character Emma is attracted to two different boys- neither of whom strike her as a good decision if she wants to get through the rest of her senior year with a minimum of complications. Through the book Emma has to choose between the easy thing and the right thing. One of the harder things we have to discover in our life is what issues are worth making a stand.

4. Do you come up with playlists that you feel fit the novel? If so, what are the songs? If not, what is one song you think could be on the book's soundtrack?

When I'm writing I can't listen to music that has words- or I end up singing along. Trust me when I tell you that isn't a good thing for anyone. Now that the book is done I can think of a couple songs I would add to the play list:
Human by The Killers
Beautiful Day by U2

5. What are you currently reading these days, if anything?

I am always reading something. I am one of those people who gets antsy if I don't have a book nearby. Right now I'm reading Mary Stewart's Nine Coaches Waiting which is a great old gothic novel. Lock and Key is next on my to be read pile.


Prize: A copy of What Would Emma Do? by Eileen Cook
How To Enter: Comment on the interview!
Deadline: January, 31 2009
Open to: Everyone, but if you aren't in the U.S. or Canada, the book will be mailed to you slower!

"Human" by The Killers
Not the official video

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Margay Leah Justice On Filling a Blank Page

Guest Post: Margay Leah Justice
Interview: Can be found a couple posts down.
Comment if you're reading!

I am a blank page. I am only eight and a half inches wide, eleven inches long. To most people, I am unprepossessing, boring, blank. But to you, I am the most intimidating opponent you will ever face. Why, you might ask. Because you are a writer and a blank page is the most fearsome enemy you will ever face in your journey along the creative road.

But I can be conquered. You just have to want to try. You just have to face the fear. Take the writer who is filling up this page at this very moment. The writer had no idea what to write when she first sat down at the keyboard. Did she let that stop her? No. She took the very idea of the blank page syndrome and turned it into something to talk about. You can, too. The key to doing so is quite simple, really.

Just write.

It doesn’t matter what you write, at first. Just sit down, place your fingers over the keys and write. So what if Shakespeare’s masterpiece doesn’t flow from your fingers on the first pass, or even the second? Do you think he only wrote one draft and was done? Not likely. Neither should you. So sit down and write. It doesn’t matter what you write as long as words flow onto the page; you can always go back and edit later. That’s the beauty of it all. Once the words are there, you can go back and play with them. Rearrange them on the page. Make them dance across the white space that was once blank. You see, editing is not your enemy, either – but that’s another story.

So remember, all of you writers out there, established or emerging, it’s you against the blank page.

Don’t let the blank page win. Write.

Margay Leah Justice is the author of Nora’s Soul, available now on You can read more about her ather website where she fights a daily about against the blank page.

In My Mailbox

I finally decided that it was time to do The Story Siren's In Your Mailbox. You might have to wait a bit for these reviews, but like Chelsea from The Page Fipper said, this is a nice way to pre-promote some things. Since this is my first time doing this, some of these items came in the mail a week or two ago.

Sophomore Undercover by Ben Esch

For fifteen-year-old, adopted Vietnamese orphan Dixie Nguyen, high school is one long string of hard-to-swallow humiliations. He shares a locker with a nudist linebacker, his teachers are incompetent, and he's stuck doing fluff pieces for the school newspaper. But Dixie's luck takes a turn when he stumbles across one of the jocks using drugs in the locker room; not only does he finally have something newsworthy to write, but the chance to strike a blow against his tormentors at the school as well.

However, when his editor insists he drop the story and cover homecoming events instead, Dixie sets off on his own unconventional--and often misguided--investigation. He soon discovers that the scandal extends beyond the football team to something far bigger and more sinister than he ever thought possible. Once he follows the guidelines of his hero, Mel Nichols (journalism professor at Fresno State University and author of the textbook Elementary Journalism) this high school reporter just might save the world. That is, of course, if Dixie can stay out of juvenile hall, the hospital, and new age therapy long enough to piece it all together.

Part social satire, part teen-mystery parody, and wholly hilarious, Sophomore Undercover is a dazzling debut that will make headlines with teens everywhere.

I randomly was sent this one but I think it sounds great. I'm quite excited to check it out!


The Debs: Love, Lies, and Texas Dips by Susan McBride

The Debs are back!

Now that her dream of becoming a deb is finally coming true, Laura’s confidence is at an all-time high. But when she dares to mess with Jo Lynn’s football star boyfriend, Dillon, Laura finds herself at the center of some heinous gossip.

As predicted, becoming a deb is a shallow undertaking that Mac can barely muddle through. Still, things go from bad to worse when the new girl at school starts working her charms on Mac’s best friend, Alex. When Ginger’s grandmother asks her to sit for a formal portrait with the son of a local legend, she discovers that she already knows him—and what she knows isn’t good.

The stakes are raised for Jo Lynn when she finds Laura’s digits in Dillon’s cell phone. Is her boyfriend cheating on her with a debu-tank? She will soon find out.

I loved the first Debs book and Susan was kind enough to send me the sequel to review as well. I probably won't get to it right away, since it isn't released until June, but it sounds just as good as the first.

Bones of Faerie Pictures, Images and Photos

Bones of Faerie by Janni Lee Simner

The war between humanity and Faerie devastated both sides. Or so 15-year-old Liza has been told. Nothing has been seen or heard from Faerie since, and Liza’s world bears the scars of its encounter with magic. Trees move with sinister intention, and the town Liza calls home is surrounded by a forest that threatens to harm all those who wander into it. Then Liza discovers she has the Faerie ability to see—into the past, into the future—and she has no choice but to flee her town. Liza’s quest will take her into Faerie and back again, and what she finds along the way may be the key to healing both worlds.

Janni Lee Simner’s first novel for young adults is a dark fairy-tale twist on apocalyptic fiction—as familiar as a nightmare, yet altogether unique.

For my January "party" of authors with releases this month, I talked to Janni and she was able to get a review copy of her novel sent for review. I hope to have this reviewed in time to post this January, but be on the lookout for an interview with Janni in the next week or well as some other author interviews, contests, and hopefully reviews!

Saturday Night Live: Neil Patrick Harris

neil patrick harris Pictures, Images and Photos

Saturday Night Live Review
By: Lauren

Saturday Night Live has just ended, with host Neil Patrick Harris and musical guest Taylor Swift. I enjoy SNL and think they have a lot of great comedians (some of my favorites are Andy Samberg, Seth Myers, Bill Hader, and Casey Wilson), but I don’t always watch the show unless I’m a fan of the host or musical guest…and even then, the full episode isn’t absolutely hilarious. However, I really enjoyed Neil Patrick Harris and think he did a fabulous job.

Harris’ monologue in the beginning hosted a few of the regular cast making “how I met your mother” jokes in the fashion of “your mom.” It ended on a great note with Andy Samberg coming out as Mark Wahlberg and telling Harris to “say hello to the cast of how I met your mother for me,” playing off an old sketch where he told animals to “say hello to your mother for me.” The Digital Short was hilarious as well, and that’s with no words being spoken at all! How cool is that?

One of the highlights for me as a musical fan is the sketch where characters from various Broadway musicals got together to brainstorm ways to save Broadway, since so many shows are actually closing. The meeting was held by the Phantom of the Opera and Mark, from RENT, who was played by Harris. As well as loving musicals in general, I’m a huge RENT fan and my favorite character is probably Mark so this was definitely amazing! Others who attended the meeting were a Cat, The Wicked Witch, The Blue Man Group, and the girls from Chicago.

Overall, I think this was an awesome SNL, with a fun musical guest as well. Next week, the host will be Rosario Dawson and I’m quite excited!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Interview with Margay Leah Justice

Interview with: Margay Leah Justice, author of Nora's Soul
Questions by: Lauren
Her Website!

Guest Post will be up tomorrow! Please read and leave your thoughts for Margay!

1. Your debut novel, Nora's Soul, is about the fight between a dark and light angel for one woman's soul. Will you summarize the book a little more for our readers?

Sure, here is a blurb:

When angels of light and dark collide on earth…
Once he held a favored position in the heavens. But one moment of weakness casts Dante out and now he is cursed to walk the earth, collecting the souls of vulnerable women to buy his way into hell.
All hell breaks loose…

But standing in his way is Peter, an angel of light. Peter is everything Dante is not. Pure, above reproach. And determined to prevent Dante from achieving his goals. Peter will stop at nothing to protect the souls in his charge, even if it means achieving the impossible – leading Dante back onto the right path.
And no one is safe from the fall-out.

Nora Kendall believed in angels. Once. But then she lost her brother to cancer despite all of her prayers – and she lost her faith in all things angelic. Now, she is a lost soul who wanders through life like a sleepwalker, playing it safe and leaving the risk-taking to others.

Kyle Cameron is one of those risks. Burned by a bad marriage, his only concern now is providing a stable life for his children, who are left motherless by the unexpected death of his wife. This means working overtime to grow his architectural firm into a viable business – and leaving the care of his children to the care of someone he trusts. Despite his past connection with Nora, Kyle isn't certain that she's the right person for the job. He also doesn't want to reconnect with her and repeat history.

But fate – and the machinations of two angels – has other ideas.

2. The cover is very fitting, with white wings on one side and black wings on the other. Who designed it and how did the idea come about?

The absolutely amazing Stacy Castanedo (who writes for Second Wind Publishing, LLC under the name of Suzette Vaughn) designed the cover. I don't know how she pulled this amazing cover out of the chaos of my brain, but she did and the result is stunning. At first, I was thinking of having three people on the cover - Nora, Peter and Dante - as they are the three most integral characters in the story, but it was too difficult trying to set just the right tone using people. So I told Stacy that if it was easier to use symbolism on the cover rather than people, she should go for it, which she did and the result was this fantastic cover. (Can you tell I like it?)

3. Are you currently working on anything else at the moment?

Too much, too much! Nora's Soul is actually the first in a series of books called The Dante Chronicles, so I'm immersed in the details of that, plus I have another series in the works about shamanistic shapeshifters and psychic empaths, and a few contemporaries that deal with issues close to me, such as bipolar disorder and Asperger's Syndrome.

4. What would you like people to know about you as a writer?

I love everything about books and writing, from a reader's perspective as well as a writer's, and I try to write the type of books I love to read or would want to read. As such a lover of the written word, I am interested in sharing that with others, whether it's in my books, blog posts, or advice on writing. I love to hear from people on their impressions of writing as well, though not limited to mine, but the art of writing in general. I think it's fascinating to read about the journey of others on the path to publication and beyond.

5. If you had to pick one song to go along with Nora's Soul, what would it be and why?

That is a hard choice because several come to mind. But if I had to choose just one, the song that would best suit Nora's Soul would be Wake Me Up Inside by Evanescence. If you really listen to the lyrics (or read them, as I tend to do), it's about the numbness that can overtake you when you lose your way or your faith or even your belief in yourself, and about (the singer's) plea for someone to save her.

In a nutshell, that is what Nora's Soul is about; Nora is numb inside and silently begging for someone to wake her up. It just takes the interference of two angels for her to get the message! Great question - that has to rank among my favorite questions asked thus far as it is the only one that I had to take more than a few minutes to answer. No easy answer there, but very thought-provoking.

"Wake Me Up Inside" by Evanescence

Friday, January 9, 2009

Psych: New Episodes TONIGHT!

Psych Pictures, Images and Photos

I talk about Psych all the time, as many of you probably know, and I wanted to remind those of you that DO watch the show or said they WOULD that new episodes start tonight on the USA Network at 10/9C.

If you miss it, try and catch a repeat if you can. We must talk about this show people. It's hilarious and mysterious and all-around amazing.

If you watch, leave a comment here and we can chat!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Thursday Thinker: Foreign Favorites

thinking pooh Pictures, Images and Photos

Today's Thursday Thinker is in hopes of finding new ideas for my blog, Bridge the Gap. Link on the side under the Promotion/Help picture. Bridge the Gap is for all things foreign, or non-American in my case.

So, I want to know...what foreign books, movies, tv shows, products, actors/actresses, music, etc. do you like? Any other ideas for things I could do for Bridge the Gap...also, don't forget to follow the blog in some way to catch new posts and I'd love it if you would comment on the things you DO read! Thanks, and starttttt posting!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Exciting (To Me At Least) Twilight News!!!

I don't normally post about news and whatnot, unless it's something I'm really excited about, but I figured I would update all the Twilight fans that might not have seen this already (and of course, it DOES make me happy)

taylor lautner Pictures, Images and Photos

Taylor Lautner WILL continue to play Jacob Black in New Moon. If you didn't know, they were thinking of getting someone else since Jacob is supposed to change so much in New Moon and appear a lot older...however, I'm very glad they decided to stick with Taylor. I'd hate to have two different people from Twilight to New Moon. Taylor did a good job, in my opinion, and if they were worried about New Moon, they should have thought of that BEFORE casting Taylor. So yay!

Official "letter" from the director and Stephenier Meyer can be found on Stephenie's website here!

Wish-List Wednesday

Ghost Huntress Book 1: The Awakening by Marley Gibson

The first in a trilogy. Get out your tape recorders, crystals, and extra batteries— you’re about to go where our world meets the spirit world.

Psychic Kids, Paranormal State, Haunting Evidence—these and countless other television shows are making believers out of millions of people: Ghosts exist, and they’re living right beside us. For centuries, individuals have been trying to prove the existence of ghosts. But without hard evidence, it’s been difficult to make the case. But now as science and technology have progressed, ghost hunters have been able to use scientific means, along with more traditional psychic tools, to make their case. Photographs, video recordings, and sound recordings are all producing some amazing results. In this new series, Ghost Huntress, meet Kendall Moorehead, a seemingly typical teen. When her family moves from Chicago to the small historical town of Radisson, Georgia, her psychic abilities awaken. She’s hearing, feeling, and seeing things that seem unbelievable at first, but with the help of the town psychic, Kendall is able to come to terms with her newly emerging gift. So, together with her new BFF, Celia, Kendall forms a ghost hunting team. They’ve got all the latest technology. They’ve got Kendall for their psychic. Now they’re going to clean up Radisson of its less savory spirits. The story is fiction. The science is real. Welcome to a new reality.

I think this book sounds like a lot of fun. I don’t regularly watch shows such as Paranormal State, but I have before and they are quite intriguing. I can’t wait to read this book, and it’s awesome that it will be a trilogy. Due out: May 4 (My Birthday Month!)

Ghost Huntress Website

Twilight Perfume

Apparently there is some “scandal” about this perfume being based off another that is already out…but whatever, I still think it’s super cute and would love to own a bottle and try it out.

As of now, you can buy it at Hot Topic or Torrid.

Pygmy by Chuck Palahniuk

“Begins here first account of operative me, agent number 67 on arrival midwestern American airport greater _____ area. Flight _____. Date _____. Priority mission top success to complete. Code name: Operation Havoc.”

Thus speaks Pygmy, one of a handful of young adults from a totalitarian state sent to the United States, disguised as exchange students, to live with typical American families and blend in, all the while planning an unspecified act of massive terrorism. Palahniuk depicts Midwestern life through the eyes of this thoroughly indoctrinated little killer, who hates us with a passion, in this cunning double-edged satire of an American xenophobia that might, in fact, be completely justified. For Pygmy and his fellow operatives are cooking up something big, something truly awful, that will bring this big dumb country and its fat dumb inhabitants to their knees.

It's a comedy.

If you know anything about Chuck Palahniuk, the summary of this novel should not surprise you. After all, he’s written books such as Fight Club and Choke (both made into films). Anyway, I’ve read a lot of Chuck’s work and I’m very interested by his latest. I can’t wait for the release. I wish I had a copy now! Due out: May 5 (Again, my birthday month!!)

I have a Wish-List up for Bridge the Gap as well where all the items are foreign. Check it out and leave your thoughts!

Thanks SO Much!

Thank you so much for this award. I've gotten a couple awards (rather rare, so it's always amazing) in the past and I forgot to post them, so I'm sorry for those that have sent me one. However, this one was given to me by Stephanie and Shalonda.

Rules of this award:

The rules for passing it on are:
1. Put the logo on your blog.
2. Add a link to the person who awarded the blog to you.
3. Award up to ten other blogs.
4. Add links to the blogs you award onto your blog.
5. Leave a message for your awardees on their blogs.

I posted the links to Shalonda and Stephanie's blogs above, so definitely check them out since they would have been included. As for the other blogs I want to award this too:

And Another Book Read

Hope's Bookshelf

Valentina's Room

Green Bean Teen Queen

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

4 Mini Movie Reviews

Ever since Christmas (which is when I saw Marley and Me), I've been going to the movie theatre a lot more. At the moment, these are the four films I have seen, including Marley. Have you watched these movies yet? Did you want too? Do you want too now? Share your thoughts/reviews in the comments!!

Marley and Me Pictures, Images and Photos

Marley and Me
Marley and Me is the story of a couple who, instead of having children right away, purchase a puppy and name him Marley. However, this isn’t your regular puppy and they soon realize that he’s a bigger handful then they first thought. Marley and Me takes you on the journey with recent newlyweds, to moves, and finally having kids one two and three. Since this movie covers a lot of years, it can often drag a bit, but overall, it was a sweet, funny, and very sentimental movie. If you are easily led to tears, bring tissues!

the tale of despereaux Pictures, Images and Photos

The Tale of Despereaux

This animated film of a mouse that simply will not stop being brave is packed with top-notch actors, from Matthew Broderick to Robbie Coltrane (Hagrid, for all you Harry Potter fans!). Though it took a little time to get started, the movie soon became a great joy to watch and would make a perfect family film. The message behind it was beautiful, showing that being yourself and not backing down in the face of danger are very fine qualities.

bedtime stories Pictures, Images and Photos

Bedtime Stories

As a fan of Adam Sandler’s films, I highly enjoyed Bedtime Stories. It’s perfect for kids a little older and up. As a hotel maintenance man who hopes to one day be manager, Adam finds himself babysitting his sister’s kids for a week and coming up with a new bedtime story every night. However, he soon realizes that whatever the kids say will come true in some fashion the next day. I found myself laughing through most of the film and definitely enjoyed Russell Brand as Adam’s best friend in the movie. Finally, like every Sandler film, be sure to keep a look out for Rob Schneider.

yes man Pictures, Images and Photos

Yes, Man

Jim Carrey stars as a man too afraid to say yes to anything who suddenly finds his life turned around by a seminar. As a new “Yes Man” he finds himself staying out all night, getting in fights over a girl, being able to start a new relationship, going on random trips, and so much more. Yes, Man also stars She and Him singer Zooey Deschanel, who I love and did an amazing job in the movie. Some wonderfully amusing highlights from the film are a misunderstanding at the airport, a Harry Potter party, and the saving of a man about to jump off a building.