Thursday, 31 December 2009

Resolutions

I love the dead days between Christmas and New Year. Everything slows down and everyone starts making lists.  Lists of favourites of the old year and lists of resolutions for the coming one.

As a compulsive list maker, all year round, I get right into the spirit of it all. Last year though was the first time I actually made a resolution come true. I wrote my first novel. It took much longer than anticipated but I did do it.

So this year maybe I can make two of my five resolutions come true. I'm always one to aim high!

1) A lot of people have been talking about feeling less guilty in 2010 and that's definitely something I need to work on.

2) Lose the remaining ten pounds of baby weight. This one pretty much HAS to happen by April. I'm going skiing and I still can't do up my ski trousers and I refuse to buy a new pair.

3) Finish my second novel. The one I started for NaNoWriMo, started again at the beginning of December and started again a week ago. Enough starts I need a middle and an end by March, fingers crossed!

4) Query agents.Yikes

5) Read 50 books. In 2009 I read 66 in 2008 I read 78. The number seems to be going down. I can't imagine why!

I hope your resolutions go well and that you have a happy, fun and safe New Years Eve celebration.

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

10 books for 2010

10 Books I am eagerly awaiting in 2010.





All Unquiet Things by Anna Jarzab

Ascendant by Diana Peterfreund

Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta

Gone by Lisa McMann

The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney


Real Live Boyfriends by E. Lockhart

Restoring Harmony by Joelle Anthony

Some Girls are by Courtney Summers

The Secret Year by Jennifer Hubbard

The Hunger Games Book Three  by Suzanne Collins

No covers, as yet, for The Mockingbirds or Ascendant

Top Ten Books of 2009

I read so many fabulous books this year but I've narrowed it down to ten. So in alphabetical order, my top ten books read in 2009




Audrey Wait! by Robin Benway

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Cracked up to be by Courtney Summers

If You come softly Jacqueline Woodson

Graceling by Kristen Cashore

Perfect You by Elizabeth Scott

Rampant by Diana Peterfreund

Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta

Willow by Julia Hoban


Come back tomorrow when I'll be doing my ten most eagerly awaited of 2010.

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Christmas Count Contest Winner

The countdown is over and has been for a while, sorry I've been so slow getting the winner up. Counting the entries was a long job!

I had a blast counting down and I hope you did too.

Huge thanks

to all my guests, all the writers who created those wonderful couples, all my readers, everyone who entered and everyone who left comments.



The Winner is . . . . .



Kim

Congratulations Kim. I hope you enjoy the books as much as I did!
 

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Christmas Countdown: Guest Post by Melina Marchetta


The very last guest post of the Christmas Countdown is by the wonderful Melina Marchetta, author on one of my all time favourite books, Saving Francesca



My favourite couple in film is Hawkeye and Cora from The Last of the Mohicans. I still catch my breath whenever Daniel Day Lewis so much as glances at Madeline Stowe and I let Francesca Spinelli borrow them as her favourites in Saving Francesca. A close second is a young snarling Clint Eastwood whenever he looks at Shirley McLaine in Two Mules for Sister Sara.
In television I have to agree that Veronica and Logan were fantastic together in seasons one and two of Veronica Mars. (I can’t bear to think of season 3. Veronica and Buffy should never have gone to college).
But my favourite couple in YA is most definitely Eugenides and the Queen of Attolia (Irene)  from the Attolia series. It’s hard to talk about what these two do to each other without giving away important plot strands, but all I can say is that there are moments in the Queen of Attolia, especially when they come face to face after a long time apart, that you can hardly breathe from the suspense and the chemistry. 
In the The King of Attolia, you’re seeing their relationship from someone else’s point of view and what happens off the page is even more powerful.  I managed to get a hold of an ARC of the sequel, Confederacy of Kings. It’s going to be my beach book the day after Christmas so pity the person who tries to interrupt.

Thanks for sharing Melina. I'm all nervous for Season 3 of Veronica Mars now.  And I'm definitely adding  Queen of Attolia to my TBR list!


Melina Marchetta is the author of Looking for Alibrandi, Saving Francesca, On the Jellicoe Road, and the upcoming Finnikin of the Rock and The Piper's Son. More information can be found on her website.


You still have time to enter the contest. It closes midnight tonight.  I'll announce the winner on Boxing Day (most probably but maybe the 27th)

MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE!





 

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Christmas Count down Number One!!!

So who were my number one couple of the year?

That would be Kate and Will from Perfect You by Elizabeth Scott.

Perfect You is exactly the kind of book I want, when I want some turn my insides squishy romance.

There are many, many things I love about this book but Kate and Will's blossoming romance is the main one. It has everything I like my romances to have, sarky comments, misunderstandings, and kissing. Lots and lots of kissing!

One of my favourite scenes is when Kate throws her shoe at Will's head. Although really it's Kate who deserves to have a shoe thrown at her head, because she is so absolutely blind about everything where Will is concern!  I'm sure you'd rather hear about the kissing though.

So here's their first kiss. Which just makes me melt.

Every. Single. Time.

I lifted one hand, to either shove him or slap him, and he caught it. caught me. I froze. It wasn't that I wasn't angry anymore, because I was, I just felt so much other stuff too, stuff I didn't even have a name for, and it hit me so hard I couldn't move. He didn't either, and as we stared at each other I felt a weird prickling heat, like a blush only stronger, shiver through me, and I knew something was going to happen. And then it did, and he kissed me. My very first kiss. With Will. It was like something out of a dream.

Thanks Elizabeth for writing my couple of the year! I'm wondering if Sarah and Ryan will be featuring next year. (edit: they most certainly will be)

Come back tomorrow for the last guest post and remember to enter the contest!

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Christmas Countdown: Guest Post by Robin Benway


Welcome to guest blogger Robin Benway, author of my number four pick Audrey Wait!  and the upcoming The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May and June (August 3rd 2010 by Razorbill).  Thanks for sharing Robin!
 
 
 
I'll admit, I tuned into "Glee" because I'm a sucker for anything related to musical theater. And musical theater that involves a cover of Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'"? Sign me up for two, please.

That's not why I stayed, though. I stayed because of the characters, of the way they supported and betrayed one another, the way they fell in and out of love with each other. I stayed to watch Kurt come out to his mechanic father and pregnant cheerleader Quinn get kicked out of her home by her Glenn Beck-viewing parents. I watched as teachers and guidance counselors supported their students while their personal lives fell apart, and while straight-A students and James Dean wannabe rebels went against their very nature and became more than who we as viewers thought they could be. And I'll admit it, sometimes I wanted the star diva Rachel to get a slushie in the face. There, I said it. I feel better now.

But most of all, I love the fact that in a band rehearsal room somewhere in middle America, I watched as students came together and became better than the sum of their parts. I hope all high schoolers have that experience. If they don't, I hope they find it soon.

In a show that is too easy to stereotype ("Theater geeks! Musical numbers! High school!"), I watched as characters became neither good nor bad, just like real people. Just like the rest of us, minus the awesome soundtrack.
 
 Robin I completely agree. I adore Glee for all the same reasons and wouldn't it be lovely if we could live life to a soundtrack?

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Christmas Countdown Contest Update!

In the orginal post I mentioned I'd add some more things if I got 50 entries, we still have 15 to go BUT I hit 100 followers (actually 102 now) which is very exciting.  Thanks everyone! I'm glad you're enjoying the couples countdown.

To celebrate I thought I'd add some books anyway.  So I added the first two Secret Society girl books to the pile.

Then the very lovely Joelle Anthony (whose guest post you can read here) said she'd throw in a Restoring Harmony magnet and post it notes. They have the front cover image on. So pretty.




Then guest poster Daisy Whitney (read her post here) sent me some bookmarks for her debut novel The Mockingbirds. No picture on these ones but they are very pretty and have a great tag line, which will make you even more eager for the book.

So to recap you can now win

A $15 Amazon voucher*
A signed copy of Perfect You by Elizabeth Scott
Secret Society Girl by Diana Peterfreund
Under the Rose by Diana Peterfreund
A signed copy of Rites of Spring (break) by Diana Peterfreund
A signed bookmark of Rampant by Diana Peterfreund
A signed bookmark of The Secret Year by Jennifer Hubbard
Restoring Harmony magnet and post it notes
A Mockingbirds bookmark.

What are you waiting for!!!!! Go enter HERE

Christmas Countdown Number 2 Francesca & Will

Number Two is Francesca Spinelli and Will Trombal from Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta

One of my favourite books of all time. I adore Saving Francesca, there is so much going here I could write reams and reams. But we're talking about couples.

Francesca and Will are so great together and if they're not still together in The Piper's Son I shall be devastated.

I loved everything about them. I love their initial sarky interactions, when Francesca corrects Will on who wrote Anna Karina, Tolstoy not Trotsky!

Their banter is perfect. As are their kissing scenes. As is the fact that Will goes off to "shake his foundations" at the end. I love when falling in love frees you to be who you want to be. When the other person doesn't stifle you or hold you back, but allows you to fly. It's such a great message, that loving someone shouldn't diminish who you are.

This is Francesca and Will's first kiss, which I love, it's so real. Not at all perfect or romantic but the start of something wonderful.

Will Trombal sees me from the other side of the room and he grins and he makes a beeline for me and my mind is buzzing with the best opening. Hi. Hey. How's it going? Great party. Love your shirt. Great music. Crap music. And he's coming closer and closer and the way he's looking at me makes me think that I'm going to have the most romantic night in the history of my life. I open my mouth to say something and he sticks his tongue down my throat. We're in a corner, pashing, and I don't even know what's got me to this point. A look in a corridor? A flirt outside my nonna's house? All I know is that no one exists around us. I don't know whether we're kissing for five minutes or five hours and my mouth feels bruised, but I can't let go. Because it feels so good to be held...Will's arms tremble as they hold me and his heart beats hard against me and I know that whatever I'm feeling is mutual. For a moment I taste the alcohol on his breath, and it brings me back to reality. "Do that sober and I'll be impressed," I say before walking away.


My favourite Francesca and Will scene is right at the end though. When Will tells her how he feels about her, but you'll have to buy the book to read that.

Still time to enter the contest just go here and comment.

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Countdown to Chritsmas - Guest Post by Joelle Anthony


Today's guest post is from the Joëlle Anthony, author of Restoring Harmony May 13th 2010 by Putnam Juvenile (pre-order it, it's fantastic!). I have to admit I've never read any of the Betsy-Tacy books but I love a good, long courtship, full of drama, so I'm adding them to my TBR pile. You should too.


I can say without hesitation that the most romantic couple in YA lit is Betsy Ray and Joe Willard from Maud Hart Lovelace’s Betsy-Tacy series. It takes them years, and six books (seven if you count Carneys Houseparty), to finally work it all out too, which means there’s lots of drama and tension and you pretty much want to hit Betsy over the head and flatten her fake curls for being so stubborn. But if they got together for good at fourteen, I guess the last six books of the series would’ve been kind of boring anyway. And I’m not really giving anything away since all you have to do is look at the cover of Betsy’s Wedding to figure it out. Still…how they get there is a real joy and I highly recommend you drop whatever you’re reading now and start reading about Betsy & Joe!


Joëlle Anthony's young adult novel, Restoring Harmony, is a riveting tale of how a resourceful teen survives, and even finds romance, in a dystopian future world where no one is as they seem. Putnam Books for Young Readers, May 2010

Remember if you write a blog post about your favourite couple you get an extra 10 points in the contest. To enter go here!


EDIT The lovely and generous Joelle has added to the prize pack a Restoring Harmony Magnet and post it note pack. If you haven't seen the cover of Restoring Harmony. It is gorgeous. Click here.

Friday, 18 December 2009

Christmas Count Down - Number 3 Amy & Poe

Number Three: Amy and Poe from Diana Peterfreund's Secret Society Girl series.

Now you may be saying, hang on a minute what about the RULES? SSG aren't YA and you've already had Diana Peterfreund at number 6, with Astrid and Giovanni.

All I can say is, rules are made to be bent a little! I can't possibly have a favourite couples list and leave these two off. I LOVE them.

So why do I love Amy and Poe so much? I love their snarky exchanges in the beginning, when they can't stand each other. I love the gradual awakening of feelings, when they have to work together. I love, love, love when they actually start flirting with each other. Lifesavers! (for those who've read the books!). I love how they get to their first kiss. I love that we get to see them after the first kiss, struggling to make their relationship work. These two certainly don't descend into happily ever after coupledom. Most of all, though, I love that they both change. Not for the other, but because of the other. That's romantic.

Here's Amy and Poe in action, before any kissing.


He looked down at my hands, which were currently twisting the life out of his handkerchief. I didn't know anyone our age who used handkerchiefs. And, oddly enough, rather than seeming like another example of his weirdness, it suddenly felt to me like something grand, old-fashioned, a little refined. As that thought occurred to me. I stopped wringing it, lest it tear in my fists. I held it up.
"Uh, keep it," he said.
"That's nice of you," I said.
"Not really," he said. "It's covered in your snot."
Did I say refined? I meant rude. Rude.

Ah classic Amy and Poe, one step forward, ten steps back.

Remember to enter the contest. You could win a signed copy of Rites of Spring(Break) and see what happens with Amy and Poe.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Countdown to Christmas Eileen Cook


Today's guest post is from Eileen Cook, author of What would Emma do? and Getting Revenge of Lauren Wood (released Jan 2010). I completely agree with her that Love Actually is a fabulous Christmas movie. Thanks for sharing Eileen.



Picking a favorite couple is hard. There are all sorts of couples to choose from:



· The Lifers: These are the couples that have been together since they were kids. They met in a playpen. They had their first kiss before they had even mastered potty training. They finish each other sentences and are always telling jokes that no one else understands.


· The “I-hate-you, now-I must-have-you” Couple: This couple is made up of people who can’t stand each other 99.9% of the time and the rest of the time they are kissing like they are about to separated by war. They are like watching a car wreck, you know you should look away, but the destruction is fascinating.



· The “I-never-realized” Couple: This is the couple that everyone else knows belongs together, but for some reason they don’t realize it for 90% of the book or movie. Usually one half of the couple is chasing after someone who is wrong for them and don’t seem to notice that their best friend would be their perfect partner.



· The Destined: This couple doesn’t meet for most of the movie or book. There are all these scenes where they pass each other in the street, but don’t connect or there is something else that keeps them apart. They are like two puzzle pieces that fit, but you have to get them in the same space for this to happen. When they do click you can’t help but smile. The world feels like a better place when they’re together.




Since it is coming close to Christmas, and I have to pick one couple, I’ll choose a couple from my favorite holiday movie, Love Actually. If you haven’t seen it then you have to run to your local video store or download it right now. My favorite couple in that movie is Colin Firth and Lucia Moniz. He’s a writer and she is the maid who is cleans the house he’s staying in to finish his book. He’s English; she’s Portuguese. They don’t speak each other’s language.

What I love about this couple is that because they can’t understand each other, it frees them up to say the things they really mean. The scenes of the two of them together remind me how often we don’t say what is in our heart. Then, because they are destined to be together, and it’s a romance, they end up together. If you want to know how they figure it out then you have to rent the movie!




I’m curious to hear from your readers- what kind of couple do they like to read about?


Eileen Cook spent most of her teen years wishing she were someone else or somewhere else, which is great training for a writer. When she was unable to find any job postings for world famous author, she went to Michigan State University and became a counselor so she could at least afford her book buying habit. But real people have real problems, so she returned to writing because she liked having the ability to control the ending. Which is much harder with humans.


Eileen can be found blogging here.





Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Countdown to Christmas Number 4 Audrey and James

Number Four is Audrey and James from Robin Benway's Audrey Wait!

This book is so much fun and Audrey is fantastic, she's the kind of person you'd like to have as a friend in real life. I love her and I love her with James. They are so cute together, just adorable.

I love that James is shy and blushes and get's tongue tied round Audrey, who he's liked for a long time. I also like that he doesn't turn into a doormat when he finally gets her. He stands up to her, and challenges her, and helps her work out who she is and what she wants.

I also really like that James is Audrey's second big relationship. So often girls in book are falling in love for the first time, being kissed for the first time (not that there's anything wrong with that and I love those kind of books too) but it's nice to see something else.

And yay for the fact that Audrey's the one who breaks up with her first boyfriend and she isn't left heartbroken and inconsolable. She's out, moving on, with her very awesome, best friend.

Here is Audrey and James first kiss, love it!

"Audrey?"
"Yeah?" We were so close our noses were almost touching.
"Do you think maybe you'd want to go out some time? I mean, with me?"
"Yes." The answer came so fast that I didn't even have time to think about it. "Yes."
"Okay."
"Okay."
"Audrey?"
"Yeah?"
"You. . . have a very pretty mouth." I could see him blushing, and I wondered if he had ever said something like that to a girl before. "You do. It's just like. . . yeah. It's perfect."
"James?"
"Yeah." His voice was really quiet, like he was trying not to breathe.
"Do you . . .? Do you want to kiss me?" We were getting closer and closer, and then our noses touched once, twice, before our lips met.
I had my answer.
When we pulled apart we were both gasping a little. "Wow," I said.
"Is that okay? he asked quickly. "I didn't mean to-"
"No!" I said. "Don't apologize, it was fine. I mean it was better than fine, but. . .yeah. Good executive decision. Two thumbs up."

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Christmas Countdown: Guest Post - Jordyn of Ten Cent Notes


Today's guest post is from the fantastic Jordyn of Ten Cents Notes. I don't know Pam and Jim, having only seen the UK version of The Office but I really want to see them in action now. Another one for the netflicks list!  Thanks for sharing Jordyn.

I often prefer the ordinary over the fantastic. I think there's a sort of beauty and wonderfulness in things that are everyday.

This is maybe why I love Jim and Pam more than any other television couple. They didn't meet somewhere spectacular; their story isn't filled with fantastic coincidences and moments. They work at a paper supply company. They have lunch together in the break room. The strangest thing they encounter is, not mystery, murder, or mayhem, but Dwight. (And Dwight is, let's admit it, pretty strange.) The point is, the story of Jim and Pam is remarkably unromantic.

These two characters work boring 9-5 jobs with a host of people more interesting than themselves (Dwight, who owns a beet farm; Angela, the cat lady; Michael, who fancies himself a stand-up comedian). Their lives are unremarkable. They get excited about fooling Dwight into thinking it's Friday when it's actually Thursday. Pam is engaged to someone else for the first two seasons of the show. Jim is just a friend; the closest he comes to an actual date with her is grilled cheese sandwiches after work on a rooftop swarming with mosquitos. Jim is the everyman and Pam is, quite frankly, pretty boring.

There's absolutely no reason this love story should be interesting, much less engrossing.

And yet, it is. There's a sort of pathetic beauty in watching Jim wonder if he'll be invited to Pam's wedding to her fiance in the first season. There's something compelling about how obviously right for each other they are - the in-jokes, the pranks they play on their coworkers, the stupid conversations they have that you can only really have with someone who operates on the same wavelength as you. There's something about the two of them and their boring, unromantic love story, that's better than many other television relationships. The characters, emotions and actions come off as real even though we know they're fiction.

And then television does something surprising. Something that doesn't happen very often in the land of make-believe couples: it gives us what we want. After two seasons of Pam being engaged to Roy and another season of Jim dating the extremely likable Karen Fillipeli, the two characters end up together. And, like everything else in their story, the scene is so understated, so simple, and so beautiful. More than that, after they're together, they stay together. This year, with no end to The Office in sight, there was a wedding and the story of the best television couple continues on.

Jordyn is an almost-twenty blogger, aspiring novelist, and Twitter fiend. She likes muffins better than cupcakes and winter better than summer.

Monday, 14 December 2009

Sneak Peak at Real Live Boyfriends by E. Lockhart

Here's sneak peak of another letter from Noel to Roo, ah that boy!

Huge thanks to E.Lockhart for giving us a glimpse of what's to come and for writing one of my favourite couples.



Roo,
     I just dropped you off and came home to find the house dark. Parents asleep, little girls asleep, everyone in bed before my curfew.
     I banged on Mom's door so she knew I was home, then climbed out on the porch roof outside my bedroom window. Tried to stealth it down the rose trellis. Figured I'd sneak back out and see you again because: all of a sudden I missed you like a complete sap. Even though I just saw you.
     Planned the grand romantic gesture.
     Nearly died trying to climb down rose trellis.
     Really. Nearly died.
     Seriously.
     Okay, didn't nearly die. But did scrape my arm on some thorns.
     The need for Band-Aids trumped my plan to sneak up to your bedroom window and throw pebbles until you saw me standing there in the moonlight.
     Grand romantic gesture crashes and burns.
     Bright side: I did use the bacon Band-Aids you got me. There are three on my arm with actual blood soaking through.
     In the moonlight,
     Noel

Sigh. How can the next four couples beat that? Come back to find out!

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Squeal!

Interrupting The Christmas Countdown to say I just finished




The Unwritten Rule by Elizabeth Scott 

and it's SO good. I adored it. Scott at her best. I'll be writing a proper review nearer the release date but if you're an Elizabeth Scott fan (and if you're not why aren't you?) mark you're calenders for April 6th or just pre-order it now, you won't be sorry!

Thanks to James at BookChic for very kindly lending me his copy.

And to keep you going till April you could always go and read Elizabeth's guest post on her favourite couple!

Christmas Countdown - Guest Post Simone Elkeles

 Welcome to Simone Ekeles, author of Perfect Chemistry, which has the funniest book trailer! Brittany and Alex were my number 8 couple and Simone's favourite couple kind of remind me of them.  Thanks for sharing Simone.

My favorite couple this year has been on my favorite new television show this year, Glee.  I think Puck and Rachel are a fun couple, putting the real "geek" and the real "cool guy/jerk" together.  I thought the chemistry between them was amazing on that one episode called Mash Up.  I know they broke up in the same episode, but I think there's more to come between these two characters in future episodes.  It sure is fun to watch! 

Simone Elkeles was born and raised in the suburbs of Chicago. Her funny way of looking at life and the world around her has an effect on the people she hangs out with. If you hear people laughing, you’ll probably find Simone not far away.
Simone has four teen books in bookstores: Perfect Chemistry, How to ruin a Summer Vactaion, How to Ruin my Teenage Life, Leaving Paradise


Don't forget to enter the Contest and tell me about your favourite couple.

Friday, 11 December 2009

Christmas Countdown - Number 5 Ruby & Noel

Number 5 - Ruby and Noel from E. Lockhart's Ruby Oliver series.

I was a fan of Noel's from the very first book. He's such a sweetheart and he didn't care about the boyfriend list and he held Ruby's hand when she needed a friend.

By the time The Treasure Map of Boys came out, I was desperate for them to get together.

Then they did.

But it all went horribly wrong and Noel took Nora to the dance. I was as crushed as Ruby.

Then came the letter.

Oh the letter - sigh! Noel is the YA equivalent of Captain Wentworth*. His letter is to die for.

Here it is

Roo, You said to me once that you were not always a good friend. I am not always a good friend either.

I couldn't deal with Ariel Olivierie and how I made out with her when I didn't want to. So that meant I couldn't deal with you.


I couldn't deal with all the questions people were asking me about what happened in the art studio, bringing up that stupid boyfriend list from sophmore year. And that meant I couldn't deal with you.

I have never been able to deal with Jackson Clarke and how he's always been taller and better-looking and cooler than me. And that meant I couldn't deal with you.


And I couldn't deal with Nora and how she wanted me to be her boyfriend when I wasn't interested. And that meant I couldn't deal with you.


So I acted like everything was your fault. And I didn't deal with you.


Only the thing is: I want to deal with you. I meant what I said in the art studio. I still mean it. I told Nora how I feel which was hellish awkward.

Anyway I don't expect you to understand, since it took me so long to tell you. Way longer than it should have.

But I hope you will understand anyway.


Noel


Looking forward to Roo and Noel finally being together in Real Live Boyfriends. If you'd like a sneak peak of them together come back Monday!


Remember to enter the contest if you haven't and blog about your favourite couple for an extra 10 entries!

* If you don't  know who Captain Wentworth is go and read Persuasion by Jane Austen. I guarantee swooning at the end!

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Christmas Countdown, Number 6 - Astrid & Giovanni

Astrid Llewelyn and Giovanni Cole from Diana Peterfreund's Rampant

I loved this book. I mean it's about killer Unicorns. It's my new Buffy. Someone should totally buy the rights for it and get it into a cinema near me!

The main reason I love it (aside from Bonegrinder) is Astrid. She's tough and vulnerable and confused and clever and clueless and very real.

I'm so glad she gets to be with someone like Giovanni because I think they are perfect for each other. Alternatively sweet, argumentative and incredibly hot! Lots of sexual tension here, given that Astrid loses her Unicorn Hunting powers when she's no longer a virgin.

I love that Giovanni is strong enough in himself to be with a girl whose physically stronger than him, who can protect him, whose a warrior. 

Which isn't to say Giovanni doesn't look after Astrid in different ways. Just not in the traditional way of saving her from the big, bad Unicorns! Rather he helps her become a person who can save herself and everyone else.

I'm really curious to see where their relationship goes in Ascendant. I have my theories!

Here are Astrid and Giovanni in one of their more sizzling moments-

He pressed into the tree and me, and my hair tangled against the bark, but I didn't care at all. I was barely standing on my own, supported in his arms and against the thigh he he'd somehow wedged between my legs. Heavenly, butterfly-light touches of his fingertips on the skin of my stomach battled with heavy hard kisses. He was holding himself back, but my heart was beating so fast, I thought my veins might pop. "More," I whispered, and he sighed, a near moan.

"Astrid." He rested his forehead against mine, breathing hard. "Ti voglio bene."

Seriously, after this, I don't know how you're still a Unicorn Hunter Astrid!

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Christmas Countdown: Guest Post by Diana Peterfreund


Another of my favourite authors, Diana Peterfreund, is kindly guest posting today. I couldn't put her Secret Society Girl series down and now she's got me addicted to killer unicorns!  Thanks for sharing Diana and I'm completely with you on this one.



Thanks so much, Alexa, for inviting me to the blog! Usually I could go on at length about my favorite couples but when I went to compile a list for this year, I realized something: this has NOT been a year for romance for me.

This is not the year I discovered Val and Ravus from Holly Black’s Valiant (2005) or the one where I fell head over heels for Logan Echols and Veronica Mars (2006). I’ve seen some fun movies this year, and though I found the Spock/Uhura smooching pleasant, it wasn’t exactly an OMGromancefortheages. Robin and Barney from How I Met Your Mother? Eh, better off apart, IMO. I’ve barely read any actual romance novels this year, and despite the plethora of young adult romance novels on the shelves, none of them left much of an impression on my psyche. Instead, I found I gravitated toward books featuring strong friendships or family relationships, such as Dull Boy, by Sarah Cross. The Forest of Hands and Teeth had a romance, but I read it in 2007.

So this blog post was harder to put together than I’d thought. Who was my favorite couple of the year? My initial thought was actually to name John and Abigail Adams. Spurred on by my love of the Paul Giamatti miniseries (which I saw this year), I read a biography of the second First Lady of the United States and a collection of the letters she and her husband wrote to one another (called “Dearest Friend” and “My Dearest Friend,” respectively, after their most common salutation). The Adamses had a long and extremely loving marriage, and their letters paint a portrait of a true romance.

Early this spring, I had a late-night conversation with a fellow writer where she argued that a vital ingredient in romance was what she called “an essential wrongness” – that the thing keeping the characters apart has to be fundamentally insurmountable – Montagues and Capulets, etc. I feel the opposite way. To me the key ingredient to a romance is the essential rightness. No matter what obstacles are keeping the couple apart, the magnetic draw has to involve the fact that you absolutely know they belong together and once they get to that point, the surmounting of said obstacles will have been the right thing to do.

We swoon over the romance of Darcy and Elizabeth – there’s no essential wrongness there. They are kept apart by Pride and Prejudice, but once they get past that, they are far better together. Ditto for my favorite Austen romance, Anne and Wentworth in Persuasion. It’s the rightness I’m drawn to – recognizing that Veronica is as damaged and cynical and loyal and prickly as Logan, seeing how Po is Katsa from Graceling’s one true match.

It’s the kind of romance I like to write myself. I realized, while writing the sequel to Secret Society Girl, that neither of the love interests I’d introduced in the first book were a match for Amy. Brandon, her sweet ex-boyfriend, was too guileless; George, the campus hottie, was too undemanding. I needed someone who not only accepted Amy for who she was, but made her a better version of herself.

And that’s why I’m drawn to love stories like the Adamses’. So there was a bit of resistance to their marriage (Abigail’s rich mom threw a fit when she found out her daughter wanted to marry a simple country lawyer), and of course, Mr. Adams’s political career kept him separated from his wife for years at a time. But as a result, we get all of their lovely letters. We witness the depth of their partnership, the equality of their intellect and patriotism, as well as their affection and respect for one another. It’s clear that John and Abigail are “dearest friends” in large part because they are better people as a result of having the other in their lives.

This is also the reason I’m “Team Peeta” when it comes to The Hunger Games series. Time and time again, we are shown how Peeta’s quiet strength is the match of Katniss’s. Yes, she can outshoot him, yes she is crueler and harder – but Peeta is no pushover, he can be every bit as manipulative as her, and his kindness and steadfast affection disarm Katniss at even her toughest moments. Repeatedly throughout the series, it’s Peeta who forces Katniss to see beyond the moment, to plan an alternate solution, to become the leader that he and the rest of Panem believe her to be. (Though Katniss knows Peeta is far better suited to that job.)

And despite the emphasis on equilateral love triangles in the current YA marketing realm, “Team Peeta/Team Gale” is actually a false dichotomy. What most impressed me about Catching Fire, the sequel out this year, was the way the relationships of Katniss, Peeta, and Gale deepened. They don’t live in simple times, so their relationships aren’t simple either, and all parties involved are mature enough to recognize the importance of the other. At the same time, all the scenes between Katniss and Gale seemed steeped less in romance than nostalgia. The games changed Katniss, changed her to the point that her childhood boyfriend, though someone she would always care for, was not longer a good match. Peeta is the man who comforts her in the night – not because their public expects it, but because he knows where she’s coming from and believes in who she is.

Those are beautiful romances, and if they are all I read this year, it might be enough. However, I still have the month of December, and some books that have been staring at me balefully from my TBR pile: ICE, ASH, LEVIATHAN, A CLOCKWORK HEART, WICKED GAME… I might change my mind by New Year’s Eve. I’ll let you know. :-)


Diana Peterfreund is the author of the Secret Society Girl series. Her first young adult novel, Rampant, an adventure fantasy about killer unicorns and the virgin descendents of Alexander the Great who hunt them, is on sale now. When she’s not writing, Diana volunteers at the National Zoo, adds movies she has no intention of watching to her Netflix queue, and plays with her puppy, a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever named Rio.

Remember to enter the contest, where among other things you can win a signed copy of The Rites of Spring (break), No.3 in the SSG series.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Christmas Countdown Number 7 - Katsa and Po

Number 7 - Katsa and Po from Graceling by Kristin Cashore

It says something about how many great couples I've read this year that Katsa and Po only come in at number seven. I adored this book when I went hunting for the quote below I ended up reading the whole thing again. It's just so good.


Katsa is a great heroine, her growth in the novel and her journey towards self acceptance and control over her temper and grace are brilliantly handled. As for Po, what can I say, he's the perfect hero despite having his own demons to battle. I love him for not wanting or expecting Katsa to change for him.


"It would change me to be your wife," she said.
He watched her eyes. "Yes. I understand you."
A log fell into the fire. They sat quietly. His voice, when he spoke, was hesitant.
"It strikes me that heartbreak isn't the only alternative to marriage," he said.
"What do you mean?"
He ducked his head for a moment. he raised his eyes to her again. "I'll give myself to you however you'll take me," he said, so simply that Katsa found she wasn't embarrassed. She watched his face.
"And where would that lead?"
"I don't know, but I trust you."

Remember to enter the contest and tell me about your own couple of the year and come back tomorrow to hear about Diana Peterfreund's favourite couple.

Monday, 7 December 2009

Christmas Countdown- Guest Post By Daisy Whitney


Today's guest post is from Daisy Whitney author of The Mockingbirds (published by Little, Brown in Fall 2010) I absolutely love the couple she choose. I am dying for them to just get together too. Thanks for sharing Daisy!

I love a good kissing scene as much as the next girl and there are some mighty hot ones I've read this year. To name a few, there's the kiss between Matt and Anna in "Twenty-Boy Summer," there's Michael's affection for Regina's neck in Courtney Summers "Some Girls Are" and there's that crazy hot about-to-have-sex-for-the-
first-time scene between Sam and Grace in "Shiver." Of course, if we are to wind back the clock a few years I could tell you there are some dee-licious scenes of lips, skin and all sorts of butterflies flipping and flying in women's fiction in books like Jane Green's "Mr. Maybe" (she used THAT word in chapter two?), Cathi Hanauer's Sweet Ruin (get out a fan because it's hot in here) and Lauren Fox's "Still Life with Husband" (sheer exhilaration at the consummation). Not that I keep a list of smoking hot scenes or anything like that just to have handy in case my girlfriends ask for a good read.

BUT, there is one couple that's got me all turned up in knots this year and they're not to be found in any book. You'll find them, of all places, on TV. I'll admit it. I am a huge Glee fan. And sometimes I just want to claw through the TV set (OK, the computer screen since I watch on Hulu) and press Emma and Will together. Not that they need it. They already know they're hot for each other. But there's the little problem of Will being married to the insane woman who's faking a pregnancy. So naturally he has to stifle all his hidden longing for Emma. Like that scene where she sang "I could have danced all night" and then she had her hand on his chest and he looked at her and was thinking "her hand is on my chest, her hand is on my chest, her hand is on my chest and all I want to do is kiss her..."

Yes, I watched it again. And maybe again.

They are the classic TV couple. They are Jim and Pam in season two of "The Office." Remember how after Casino Night Jim finally told Pam he was in love with her? And then he kissed her? Sigh...

They are Meredith and Derek in early "Grey's Anatomy" running into each other in the elevator all season long until finally on Prom Night they meet in a hospital room and Kate Havenick's "Grace" plays and all you're thinking is...

Well, that's the point. You're not thinking. You're feeling. You're wanting. You're wishing. You're hoping.

Because that's what good romance does to you. It makes you feel just like the characters are feeling.

By day, Daisy Whitney is a producer, on-air correspondent, podcaster and expert in the new media business.
At night, she writes novels for teens and is the author of The Mockingbirds, to be published by Little, Brown in Fall 2010.
Daisy can be found blogging here.



Sunday, 6 December 2009

Christmas Countdown Number 8 - Brittany and Alex

Number 8: Brittany and Alex from Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles

Love these two, who seem conform to all the stereotypes about blond, good looking girls and dark latino guys and then break them all. I love that they tell alternating chapters so we get to be inside both their heads and see all their insecurities and demons and of course how their feeling towards each other change. They really do have Perfect Chemistry.

"You gonna kiss me now, or later?"
"Right now," I say, which I can tell shocks him because his hands go still. At home, my life is dictated by my mom and dad. At school it's different. I need to keep it that way, because if I have no control in every aspect of my life I might as well be a mannequin.
"Really?" he asks.
"Yeah." I take one of his hands in mine. I'd never be this bold if we had an audience, and am thankful for the privacy of the nonfiction titles surrounding us. His breathing slows as I sit up on my knees and lean into him. I'm ignoring the fact that his fingers are long and rough and that I've never actually touched him before. I'm nervous. I shouldn't be, though, I'm the one in control this time.
I can feel him restraining himself. He's letting me make the move, which is a good thing. I'm afraid of what this boy would do if he let loose.
I place his hand against my cheek so it cups my face and I hear him groan. I want to smile because his reatcion proves I have the power.
He's unmoving as our eyes meet.
Tim stops again.
Then I turn my head into his hand and kiss the inside of his palm.
"There, I kissed you," I say, giving him back his hand and ending the game.
Mr Latino with the big ego got bested by a ditzy, blone bimbo.

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Christmas Countdown Number 9 - Mary and Travis

Number Nine is Mary and Travis from Carrie Ryan's The Forest of Hands and Teeth

OooOoo, longing glances, hands brushing, sneaking around. I do love forbidden passion! Mary and Travis certainly wrack up the tension in this book and there's zombies too!

He nods. He understands. And then he takes my hand and presses his lips against my palm. It feels like fire entering my blood steam and laying siege to my body. He kisses my wrist, and I am an inferno. He starts to move up my arm, his breath tantalizing, and I almost give in as he pulls me to him.

Give in, Mary, give in!!!

Remember if you write a blog post about your favourite couple you get an extra 10 points in the contest. To enter go here!

Friday, 4 December 2009

Christmas Countdown - Guest Post: Anna Jarzab


 Today's guest post is from Anna Jarzab, author of All Unquiet Things (published  January 12th 2010  by Delacorte) and writer of one of my favourite blogs. She is alternatively informative and hilarious and sometimes both together.  I love the couple she picked. Thanks so much for sharing Anna.

It took me a long time to think of who my favorite couple is. I was really tempted to talk about Mulder and Scully--I mean, REALLY tempted. I also thought about writing about Veronica and Logan from Veronica Mars, Jim and Pam from The Office, Chuck and Blair from Gossip Girl, and Joan and Adam from Joan of Arcadia. But none of those felt quite right.

Then I was sitting at my computer one day, sifting through the Watch Instantly options on Netflix, when I saw the third season of Friday Night Lights. I love FNL, but I'd only watched the first season, and for various plot related reasons I'd decided to skip most of the second. Nevertheless, I turned on the third season and got totally sucked in. Matt Saracen is my anti-drug.

But even though I love many couples on that show--Lyla and Tim (actually, her relationship with Tim Riggins is the only thing that can make Lyla palatable to me), Matt and Julie, Tyra and Landry--one obviously stands above the rest: Tami and Eric Taylor. It's so amazingly rare to see a happily married couple portrayed on television. The FNL writers don't even seem to have considered for one second that for the sake of salacious ratings mongering they might force one of the Taylors to cheat on or leave the other. That would just never happen; the Taylors are totally devoted, 100% a true team. In one season three episode, Eric says to Tami, "You are the best friend, mother, and lover a man could have." It was the "friend" part that really got me. I almost started weeping on the spot.

The way they stand behind and support each other is truly remarkable. Even when their interests diverge, they find a way to work back to each other in the end. In season three, it happens more and more, because Tami is the principal of Dillon High and Eric is the head football coach--meaning that Tami's dedication to academics and Eric's prioritization of football often come to loggerheads. Any disagreement between them arises from natural tensions, as opposed to obstacles manufactured by writers. Things Eric chooses to ignore simply out of disinterest (like the Jumbotron fiasco) are some of Tami's greatest battles, and he finds a way to be on her side regardless. They're both good parents and good people, and they make a good team.

Eric and Tami Taylor are great examples for people trying to figure out how to write characters that feel, sound and act like real people. The whole show, in fact, is a great example of drawing drama out of realistic events and situations, rather than creating it for sweeps just to abandon it with no consequences an episode or two later (I'm looking at you, Gossip Girl). Even if you don't care about football, it's hard not to become obsessed with the show, because it feels so real and everyday, yet manages to be so interesting and sad and heartwarming and wonderful. But it's really the characters that make it special--every single plotline feeds straight out of character, which is how all works of fiction should be--and Tami and Eric are the greatest examples of that.

Anna Jarzab grew up entirely in the suburbs, first outside of Chicago and then in San Francisco’s East Bay area, where All Unquiet Things is set. She graduated from Santa Clara University, earned her Master’s degree from the University of Chicago, and currently lives in New York City. All Unquiet Things is her first novel.

Remember to enter the contest and come back tomorrow to find out couple number nine!

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Christmas Countdown - Guest Post by Elizabeth Scott

I'm so excited to welcome one of my favourite authors, Elizabeth Scott, to the blog today. She's written some fabulous  fictional couples so it was interesting, and surprising, to see who her couple of the year was. Thanks so much for sharing Elizabeth.


My favorite fictional couple of the year...

You know, I have agonized over this for weeks. I wanted to pick a book, and I have read some truly great ones this year--but in the end, I have to go with a couple that isn't actually a couple, but that has gotten me through one of the longest, strangest, and hardest years of my life.

And that couple that isn't quite a couple?

Nicholas Angel and Danny Butterman from Hot Fuzz, a movie which was released with very little fanfare (at least in the US) in 2007.

I first heard about the movie from my friend Jess, who swore up and down that I *had* to see it. I love Jess, but I wasn't sure--a British comedy about action movies? How much funny could there be in that, really?

Turns out, there is a *lot* of fun to be had. Hot Fuzz takes every conceivable Hollywood action movie stereotype--from the obviously too-tightly wound but dedicated police office and his new, and more laid-back partner, all the way to not one, but multiple fake-out endings. Think of anything and everything you've seen in an action movie, and Hot Fuzz takes that and twists it into something sharper and funnier than anything you've ever seen.

Now, as for my couple that isn't a couple--what the makers of Hot Fuzz did, and what I never fail to enjoy when I watch the movie (and I have watched it many, many times this past year), is how they take the inevitable homoerotic subtext that comes with an action movie and make it sweet, charming--and push it close to text. As the director of the movie, Edgar Wright, said, "It's platonic man-love. It's "Brokeback Precinct.""

I love Nicholas Angel and Danny Butterman for many reasons, but the main reason I love them is that whenever I watch Hot Fuzz, I know I'll see a movie that not only makes me care about the characters, but offers an interesting and nuanced take on action movies wrapped in an incredibly awesome package of funny.

In short, whenever I watch Hot Fuzz, I get to see a great movie.

Don't believe me? Check this out (http://www.youtube.com/watch?
v=YnxtY60AdKs), and if that doesn't convince you to give Hot Fuzz a try, try this (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QqIFSvFdVR0). Then do yourself a favor and see this movie--heck, Meg Cabot loved it (http://www.megcabot.com/diary/?p=507), so that counts for a lot, right?

Bottom line--out of everything I've seen and read over the last year, this movie has always made me smile. And that is something worth sharing, I think--and I hope that if you see Hot Fuzz, you enjoy it as much as I do.

Elizabeth Scott  grew up in a town so small it didn't even have a post office, though it did boast an impressive cattle population. She is the author of Something Maybe, Perfect You, Stealing Heaven, Bloom and Living Dead Girl. Her new book The Unwritten Rule will be published 6th April 2010. She firmly believes you can never own too many books; and would love it if you visited her website, located at www.elizabethwrites.com

And don't forget to enter the competition. Among other things you could win a signed copy of Perfect You

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Countdown to Christmas Number 10 - Anna & Sam

We're starting off with Anna and Sam from Sarah Ockler's Twenty Boy Summer. Now I have a friend who claims to be Team Matt.

What?

I'm sure you agree with me that there can be no team Matt!

Unless this was a ghost story and even if it were I would still be Team Sam. He is quite clearly the better choice. He's sweet and funny and there for Anna when she needs someone to listen and he doesn't have any of that "this has to be a secret" crap going on. Oh and he's a good kisser too.

Everything stops mattering. The cold is gone. Time is gone. The ocean stops whispering. I turn my face to his, his eyes unmoving, and everything around me stops, suspended. Sam grabs hold of the front of his sweatshirt with me inside and pulls it to him.. My arms move around him, his around me, and he kisses me, so hot and severe that I feel it all the way in my toes.

See much better than frosting covered kisses.

Remember to enter the contest and tell me about your own favourite couple and be sure to come back tomorrow and hear about Elizabeth Scott's couple of the year.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Christmas Countdown and contest!

The count down to Christmas has begun!

Christmas is the perfect time for romance. Bing Crosby singing, candlelight, strolls in the snow. Some of my favourite romances happen during the festive season.

So to celebrate the holidays and all the fantastic books I've read this year, I am having a Christmas Countdown of my top 10 couples.

To make it easier I made rules

1) They had to come from books I'd read this year (otherwise it might have been top 100)
2) They had to be YA books, seeing as that's what the blog is all about.
3) Only one book by each author can feature (otherwise it might have been a Elizabeth Scott fest)

So over the next 24 days I shall be telling you about my favourite couples of 2009 and why I love them so.

Even more excitingly some fabulous authors and bloggers have joined in and written about their favourite couples.

AND as Christmas is a time of giving, I have some gifts to give away. In the prize pack there is:

A $15 Amazon voucher*
A signed copy of Perfect You by Elizabeth Scott
A signed copy of Rites of Spring (break) by Diana Peterfreund
A signed bookmark of Rampant by Diana Peterfreund
A signed bookmark of The Secret Year by Jennifer Hubbard

AND if we get to 50 entries I will add some more things, so spread the word, please!

Here are the rules to enter

Leave a comment on this post

You get TEN extra entries if you blog about your own favourite couple AND link back here (please include a link to your post in the comments). I hope people do this I'd love to know which couples you guys loved this year and why, and you don't need to follow my rules, choose whoever you like.

The contest is only open to people with a US or Canada mailing address (sorry but books are heavy)

The winner will be drawn at random, on Christmas Eve, and will hopefully get their books in time for the New Year.

Have fun. I hope you guys enjoy it and HUGE thanks to all my guests and readers.

Happy Holidays!




* if you'd rather have a voucher for B&N or an Independent bookstore I'm totally happy to send that instead. You'll just have to wait longer :)

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