Category: I read

K. L. Going’s book caught my eye right away.

Troy Billings is seventeen years old, lives in NYC, and Fat Kid Rules the World is just one of the hilarious headlines he makes up throughout the story.

Troy also weighs nearly 300 pounds, and everyone stares. Or at least he thinks they do.

He also thinks it might be a good idea to splat himself in the NY subway after seventeen unremarkable years, but he’s not even sure if he’ll get that right. That’s when Curt MacCrae, the only semi-homeless semi-student punk rock artist legend from school cons Troy into buying him lunch. Curt’s so charismatic, he even tries to convince Troy that drumming in seventh grade means he can play in a punk band.

As a drummer who got started playing in high school, of course I was drawn to this book. Just like Troy, I went from playing too softly (“Are those drumsticks or Q-tips?”) to practicing morning to way past sundown, lost in it, hardly believing how many hours had gone by.

Beyond Troy’s cringe-worthy musical journey, both he and Curt have real, live flaws. This always keeps me flipping pages. And they learn a great deal from each other. I loved the moment when Curt practically forces Troy to observe a couple in a diner, beyond just that initial point when they seem so perfect. Beneath the “headline” mentality he’s become so used to. He sees fear spark in their eyes as they eat messy food – ketchup drips, food falls from forks, humanity cracks through that perfect veneer. Turns out they do look stupid every now and then, and even they care how they look.

Ironically, that scene illustrates why YA lit is universal. We all remember that awkward time in our lives when everyone else was just a little more perfect than we were. If you’re honest, you’ll admit that feeling still creeps up on you now, in your older and supposedly wiser years. Thank goodness when that happens, you can laugh it off. Usually.

[Sigh.] Loved it. :)

Check out Fat Kid Rules the World on Indiebound and

Can’t Help But Love Like Mandarin

I just finished reading Kirsten Hubbard’s Like Mandarin this week.

Grace Carpenter, its main character, lives in Washokey, Wyoming. She’s a failed beauty queenlet (by choice), one year ahead in school (not by choice), and has an obsession with dead things. Well, rocks. But rocks have to be the most dead things on the planet, right?

Most of all, Grace wants to be – you guessed it – like Mandarin Ramey.

I want to be beautiful like you, I thought, as if Mandarin were listening.

I want apricot skin and Pocahontas hair and eyes the color of tea. I want to be confident and detached and effortlessly sensual, and if promiscuity is part of the package, I will gladly follow your lead. All I know is I’m so tired of being inside my body.

I would give anything to be like Mandarin.

The story follows an unlikely friendship – one girl wants to leave town, the other seems to own it. I found the book so utterly readable, and I admired every page because I know how much work that sort of writing can take.

Though Grace and Mandarin start out as different as peanut butter and glass, both characters stood strong. In other writers’ hands, Mandarin could have overshadowed Grace, but Ms. Hubbard gave Grace the solid characterization and authenticity that makes you root for her like you know her. Like you are her. And just like the rocks Grace kept so carefully and carried in her pocket, she knew herself. She just didn’t know she did.

The book’s third main character seemed to be the town itself, Washokey, WY – if only through its effect on people: its crazy-making wildwinds, its “badlands” (Grace’s hiding spot), its power to persuade Grace’s mother she belonged nowhere else. In Ms. Hubbard’s deft hands and through her clear, flowing style, Grace’s breakthroughs and Mandarin’s stormy episodes came to life. Even though she seemed so exotic at first, I think we’re all a little like Mandarin.

Check out Like Mandarin on IndieBound and Amazon.

Already read it? I’d love to know – what’d you think?

Winner of the DIVERGENT advance copy!

Yesterday, I used to find out who’ll get the ARC of DIVERGENT by Veronica Roth.
The winner was Lisa M. Basso! Her book is on its way now.

I look forward to finding out Ms. Lisa’s thoughts on DIVERGENT, as it seems she has a bloggy of her own. (No pressure, Lisa!  ;)

Big thanks to all who entered. That giveaway sure was fun, so I’ll just have to do it again soon.

What’s the3six5, you ask? Put simply, it’s a daily blog written by an author mosaic – a different person every day. Authors are young and old, famous folks and average Joes, writers and non-writers, from across the world.

And now, you can VOTE for among the internet’s best.

The blog has been nominated for a Webby Award in the Connections category: “Sites that connect people, create communities, and give individuals and small groups a vehicle for their expression and participation online.”

If the3six5 doesn’t epitomize this, I’ll print out this post and eat it.

Why in holy heck would I do that? Here’s a little more background:

Founders Len Kendall and Daniel Honigman set up shop in 2009, soliciting design input and working hard to line up the first 365 authors. On January 1, 2010, they kicked off the crowdsourced blog experiment. I’ve since lost track of all the mentions the3six5 has received over these last 16 months, but let’s just say it’s much-loved. One of my favorite early POVs on the project comes from self-proclaimed social cyborg and cyberculturalist Dr. Kevin Lim:

Around the start of 2010, I began hearing about this idea dubbed the3six5 project. A bunch of transmedia and emerging media folks discussed it with great fervor.

So I took a look…
then asked…
“What’s the big effing deal?”

(Read the rest of Dr. Lim’s post here.)

I’m a huge fan of the3six5, and not just because I was lucky enough to contribute my own post last February (including the blog’s first-ever video clip). I’ve also found the project has connected me with friends I’ll have for life. I highly recommend it for your blog shortlist, as a daily reminder that we’re all human. For every day that goes by, every post published, the blog itself practically begins to breathe.

Cast your vote for the3six5 today!

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