Monday, October 31, 2011

ABCs of Me Meme

Today's the last day to enter my Spooktacular Giveaway. Go here to enter!

I've seen this floating around on a few of my favorite blogs lately, so I totally stole the idea. Nothing scarier than learning a lot of random stuff about me!

Age: I just turned the big 2-9 last month

Bed Size: Queen. But it honestly wouldn't matter what size the bed was; I always end up snuggled up against Rusty. And he always wakes up and asks me to roll over.

Chore that you hate: The dishes! I haven't seen this on anyone else's but I think it's because they must have dishwashers. If anyone likes doing dishes, stop by anytime.

Dogs:  scare the crap out of me.

Essential start to your day: A stop at the bathroom.

Favorite colors: Red

Gold or Silver: Gold

Height: I used to think I was 5'8" but the last time I measured I was just under that. I still claim it because I'm the shortest in my family.

Instruments you play: the radio. Does that count?

Job Title: Book blogging mom. Does that count, either?

Kids: No goats, but one 2 year old. I had a miscarriage last summer at 15 weeks, which I figure gives me a lifetime pass of never having to answer if I plan to have more. (If people ask questions that aren't their business, I like to give them answers that demonstrate how none of their business their question was.)

Live: Well, I'm not dead, so yes. Also, in Utah.

Mother-in-Law’s name: She has one. It's pretty interesting how I usually don't use it, though. When my sister got married, she avoided having to call her mother-in-law's name because she didn't know what to call her. Now that they have kids, they call her grandma.

Nicknames: Kathy. Some people like to lengthen my name to Katherine, but that's not my full name. Bonus points if you can guess what it is.

Overnight hospital stays: When I had my son, when I got my appendix out, when I was born. The food's always gross, but the nurses are incredibly nice.

Pet Peeves: when people chew their gum with their mouth open. If you ever see me giving someone the stink eye, that's probably the reason.

Quote from a movie: "He don't eat no meat!?" from My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Also, the Kid History videos have been especially quotable lately.

Right or Left handed:   Right

Siblings: One older sister, one younger brother.

Time you wake up:  Whenever my son does. Lately it's between 7 and 7:30. Which will be a bit of a pain when it's time to "fall back" on Sunday.

Underwear: Yes for me, yes for Rusty, we're working on it for the 2 year old.

Vegetable you hate: celery. If they took middle school boys' gym socks and turned them into a vegetable, it would be celery.

What makes you run late: I'm just not super prompt. Usually because I leave too late or wait too long to get ready.

X-Rays you’ve had: My teeth, my finger when I thought I broke it, various ultrasounds, and a CT scan when I needed to get my appendix out.

Yummy food that you make: Anything sweet and not good for you. I'm known for a dish I call chocolate goodness, and banana cake with cream cheese frosting.

Zoo animal: I always loved the cows in the petting zoo growing up.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

YA Spooktacular - Party Time! by Ariane Mandell

Welcome to another stop for the second annual YASpooktacular, hosted by Frenzy of Noise and Wicked Awesome Books.

This year, there are three stories written by some of your favorite authors that will be posted throughout the week. Each story is a choose your adventure, where you get to decide what path to send the character down.  

Sometimes you live, sometimes you die, and sometimes you fall into a pit of no return.

If this is the first Spooktacular Story #2 post you've seen, go to Reading Teen to start at the beginning.

There are also some TRICKS or TREATS scattered throughout the story, where you can enter to win prizes and get bonus points toward the prize packs. The prize pack for Story #2, Party Time, will be up tomorrow (the 27th) here! On Halloween day, the grand prize pack will be posted. You can click here (or the YA Spooktacular banner at the top) to see a full list of the YASpooktacular prize packs!

A little about Ariane Mandell

Ariane Mandell is a grad student who loves urban fantasy and romance. She enjoys mythology, psychology, and playing with her dog. Ariane excels at video games, public speaking, and making macaroni and cheese. Her favorite authors are John Steinbeck and Anne Bishop. She lives in Boston.

You can find Ariane on Twitter and occasionally contributing to the blogosphere when the inspiration strikes.


click here to go to the beginning of the story

You swallow, peering into the darkness above.  It's completely opaque.  A glance behind you is the same--you're enveloped in darkness.   You can hear the wind outside and square your shoulders - the house always settles on cold nights like this. There's nothing up there but your ipod, and maybe a friend playing a trick on you.  They must have coordinated, between the doorbell, the phone calls, and the stairs.  That explained why no one had shown up yet, too.  You were going to walk up there, and they'd all shout "BOO!"

Sure enough, you hear a familiar groan coming from above.

You adjust your skirts and carefully make your way up the ladder in your breakneck heels.

"Alright guys, you can come out."

Your voice sounds close and muffled in the stillness of the attic, it doesn't carry at all.  In the bluish moonlight filtering through the grimy windows, you cannot see a huddled group of friends waiting to surprise you.  You see boxes, and dust motes, and old furniture.  Your i-pod had fallen out of the dock and is off, dark.

Maybe they're hiding behind something.  You clear your throat.  "Guys?"  Again, the sound is so muffled you almost choke on your own words, like the air has turned to wool and it's creeping down your throat.

You decide to put the music back on as quick as you can and get downstairs, but when you start towards the little table, you nearly trip over something.  There's something at your feet, rolled up in a white sheet.  As you retreat a step, it moves, a limp hand dropping out the top to thud onto the dirty floor

You gasp, nearly tumbling backwards out of the attic as you reach up to touch your throat.  Even gasping is painful.  "Very fun guys," You croak.  "Who's in there?  Stace?  Funny."

The shape in the sheet doesn't move, and no one says anything.  Then, from the far corner, you hear a low crackling sound... almost like a fire, snapping, and logs and twigs shifting in the flames.  It's soft, and constrained, like your  voice, like the sound of your breath.  You peer into the corner and can just make out a shape cut against the window - a hulking figure, slouching forward.  It seems to be facing away, a high collar turned up against its cheek.

Then suddenly, so quickly your eyes must be tricking you, it turns to face you - it's face impossibly pale, bone white and puffy, swollen, like a waterlogged corpse.  It has dark, deep set eyes like two dying, glowing coals, and they're fixed on you.  You don't know whether to laugh or scream - because either it's one of the guys in the strangest, eeriest mask you've ever seen, or...

If you stay with the stranger, go to Reading Angel (

If you run, go to Mundie Moms (

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Spooktacular Giveaway Hop! - CLOSED

This year's Spooktacular Giveaway Hop is being hosted by Kathy from I Am a Reader, Not a Writer and Rhianna from The Diary of a Bookworm. There are over 400 blogs participating. You can find the full list here

I'm giving away a copy of the children's Halloween book Marsipity, written by Barbie McConnell and illustrated by (my husband) Rusty Gregory.

To enter:
Fill out the form below
You must be at least 13 years old (under 18 have parent's permission)
Have a US mailing address.
Giveaway runs through October 31.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Anna Dressed in Blood Review

Anna Dressed in Blood
by Kendare Blake

The Short Story
Cas comes from a long line of ghost hunters, and takes it seriously since his own dad was taken out on the job. He travels the world with his witchy mom, listening to local ghost stories and making them go away. When he hears about Anna dressed in blood, he decides she will be one of the last ghosts to help prepare him to find his father's killer. Except that's not at all what happens. A good, but violent, Halloween story. 4/5

Come for the....
disclaimer. I saw this book praised (with a but) on Kiersten White's blog, and I feel the need to start out similarly. I liked Anna Dressed in Blood. But it's not what I normally read, and the content has some very violent, gruesome (and sweary) parts. If descriptive gore and the f-word make you uncomfortable, this is probably not for you. I don't like those things, but I still liked Anna. (But, again, parts were gory enough that I skipped paragraphs here and there. I don't need all that spelled out for me.)

On to the good stuff. Anna was actually really funny in parts. The tag line is "Just your average boy-meets-girl, girl-kills-people story." Even Anna, the serial killer ghost, is funny. And the writing is just good. The descriptions of Anna's dress dripping blood made my stomach turn. Passages are detailed enough to make you feel like you're in the story, but not to slow the pacing down. And then there's a great cast of characters. They're such a rag tag bunch, but I liked their quirkiness. Again, they're described just enough that you trust them. For the most part.

Stay for the
cat; the goofy names; the sense of mystery, and knowing that you're missing something somewhere (but you probably won't figure out what); the sequel, which comes out sometime in 2012.

Don't Think About This Too Hard
  • For the most part, the plot stays in pretty familiar horror story territory. People go into the scary building when they shouldn't; the cat has special powers; people are killed in very violent ways. It may be a little formulaic, but that didn't really bother me.
  • This is the most violent book I've ever read. Just had to reiterate that. 

The Big Three:
Language: frequent profanity, including the f-word (frequently)
Sex and Stuff: not an issue
Violence: gory, gory violence; lots of blood; people missing limbs; also some implied child abuse

Just So You Know
I read an ARC of Anna Dressed in Blood as part of Around The World ARC Tours.

Monday, October 17, 2011

When Lots of Authors Came to Provo

I feel so lucky to have such a great library close to my house, especially when they bring lots of fun authors to come speak and sign books. Last week the Provo Library hosted Becca Fitzpatrick (Hush, Hush books), Michelle Hodgkin (The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer), Elana Johnson (Possession), and Moira Young (Blood Red Road).

They answered a bunch of questions, and I should have taken notes, but didn't. So here's what I remember:
  • They all borrow names from people they know in real life, or movies that they liked (Becca Fitzpatrick & Michelle Hodgkin both took names from movies)
  • The characters aren't really based on themselves, although Becca Fitzpatrick did want to give a character the curly hair she struggled with in her teen years. (you guys, she has such pretty hair)
  • Some of them use outlines for writing and some don't. Elana Johnson suggested trying out both styles to see what works best for you.
  • Everyone but Moira Young listens to music either while they write, or to inspire their writing. Moira said she wears earplugs when she writes, then told this story about where she does all her writing. (if you can't understand it, she goes to a beauty shop and sits in a little room to do her writing. It was really funny, but I don't know that the video captures that) 

      After the lecture and some book signings, Michelle, Elana and Moira stayed after and met with us book bloggers. And let me tell you, they are the nicest ladies. And so funny. I'm always impressed with the fact that authors are just regular people. It was funny (to me) how they were all worried about how they looked in the pictures. Not in a vain way - in the normal, am I making a face in this picture, kind of way. But they all looked fabulous. Especially you, Michelle! (who may or may not have screened the pictures I took of her and told me which to keep)

      I can't wait to read the rest of their books. Possession was definitely one of my favorite reads of 2011. And I've heard such great things about Blood Red Road.

      Wednesday, October 12, 2011

      Read This: Variant

      by Robison Wells

      The Short Story 
      Benson has spent his whole life bouncing from one foster family to the next, until he wins a scholarship to Maxfield Academy. Maxfield is a prestigious, old boarding school. And kind of a prison. A crazy, crazy prison. Once Benson figures out Maxfield is not what he thought it was, he wants out. But escape might be a lot more complicated than anyone thought. Slow start but great finish. 4/5

      Come for the...
      little bit of everything. I wasn't crazy about Variant initially. I felt like it took various aspects of other books and mixed them all together; using the phrase The Society, having cameras everywhere, and an enclosure that was almost begging the people inside to try to escape. And I like those kinds of books. But the beginning of Variant was kind of uneventful and too familiar for me. Benson spends some time being annoyed. Some people are nice to him. Some people try to beat him up. The school is supposedly mysteriously evil, but doesn't do much mysterious or evil.

      I got to a part where I thought "this is like West Side Story, with the Sharks & the Jets & the cops, and dancing!" when the book really picked up for me. And once things start up in Variant, they really go full speed. I raced through the last third of the book, and my general response was "What?" "What?" and "What?" some more. I had no idea what was going on, and even when I thought I did, I was still mostly wrong. I think. I love a book that keeps me guessing, and the last third of Variant definitely did that. If you find that the beginning of the book isn't working for you, I think the end will make up for it.

      Stay for the
      classes, the crazy names, the sequel (that you will want very badly)

      Don't think about this too hard
      • Other than getting beat up a few times, Benson doesn't ever really get into trouble. And I never felt like he was in much danger of getting in trouble, either. I'm not sure why, but I didn't feel like the school was as menacing as I was supposed to.
      • The first paint ball game was interesting, but I thought it came up too frequently. Maybe it will be important later?

      The Big Three
      Language: a couple of mild profanities
      Sex and Stuff: not an issue
      Violence: a lot of fighting (with and without weapons); some of it was very violent and a little disturbing

      Just So You Know
      I read a free e-galley from HarperTeen via NetGalley. Variant is now available.

      Monday, October 10, 2011

      The Death Cure Predictions

      The Death Cure by James Dashner comes out tomorrow! My husband and I have enjoyed reading the series, so I thought it'd be fun to try to predict how it all ends. Play along and post your predictions in the comments.

      **Major spoilers for The Maze Runner and The Scorch Trials**

      WICKED is.... 
      bad. I've kind of thought that from the beginning.

      Theresa is.... 
      also bad. She did sort of beat the crap out of Thomas, so....

      These aren't really kissy books, so I don't know that anyone will end up together. Brenda did seem to have a thing for Thomas, but I still think she's in on the whole WICKED plot. Otherwise she was sort of inexplicably, strongly forward-y, into him.

      What's really going on?
      I don't know. I don't think Thomas is dying from the flare, or going crazy. I have a sort of "Truman Show" theory that Thomas is the only one they're watching and everyone else is in on it (especially Brenda). Rusty thinks they're going to try to use the guy & girl gladers as breeders. (yuck)

      What's the building on the cover?
      My guess is WICKED headquarters, in a cold, snowy place. I don't think the whole world is scorched. I still think the whole Scorch Trials was as set up as the maze.

      Who will die?
      Various nameless gladers that I'm not attached to, Theresa, the rat man, maybe Minho.

      What crazy creation will they fight at the end of the book?
      Evil Thomas trains? Maybe abominable snowmen.

      Anything else you want to add?
      Answer the questions or put any other predictions in the comments. If you've read an ARC of The Death Cure, please don't post spoilers as "predictions."

      Saturday, October 8, 2011

      Scary Stories

      Since the weather got all cold and Fall/Winter-like out here, I've been in a Halloween type mood. So I decided I'll feature some Halloweeeny books for October. I already posted about Lola and the Boy Next Door, which we all know is actually about amazing costumes. So it works.

      Up next I've got Variant, which features a creepy, evil school. And then Anna Dressed in Blood, a ghost story so far out of my reading comfort zone that I'm also enjoying. But I need at least one more!

      So that's where I turn to you, amazing blog readers. What are some of your favorite Halloween-y books? They can be actual scary books, kids books, books with vampires/zombies/werewolves that aren't really about Halloween (Harry Potter, Twilight, you get the idea)

      Wednesday, October 5, 2011

      Read This: Lola and the Boy Next Door

      Lola and the Boy Next Door
      by Stephanie Perkins

      The Short Story 
      All Lola wants are three things: to dress as Marie Antoinette for her winter formal, for her dads to accept her 22 year old rocker boyfriend, and never to see her former next door neighbors, the Bell twins, again. But things get complicated when Calliope and Cricket move back. Lola's mix of feelings for Cricket challenge everything she thinks she wants. A cute story, but with a character that wasn't quite as developed or likeable as Anna from Anna and the French Kiss.   4.5/5

      Come for the...
      love interest. Does this make me a bad person? Undoubtedly, my favorite thing about this book is Cricket. When I couldn't really relate to Lola, or was mad at her for some of her choices, I loved the parts with Cricket. He's nice. Also slightly awkward, which just makes him more endearing to me. I get tired of YA boys acting like 35 year olds, or being jerky bad boys. I think the majority of teen boys (really, boys of any age) are generally nice, slightly awkward, occasionally pervy, and interested in other things in addition to girls. And, while Cricket is a little unrealistically nice and talented, he's one of the most real boys in YA. I think he'll battle it out with Jonah Griggs as the best book boy of 2011. And probably win.

      But there's more to the story than just the boy. I love the supporting characters, like Lola's parents. I've never read a book with two dads before, but I appreciated that Perkins doesn't beat you over the head or make an agenda out of it. Lola's parents are involved and care about her, but aren't perfect. Her birth mom is flaky, but not worthless. Her friends Lindsey, Anna & St. Clair are supportive but call her on things when she's wrong. And San Francisco is a character in and of itself. Having just visited there this summer, I had a lot of fun reading about all the little quirks.

      Stay for the
      costuming & sewing; figure skating; Isla & the Happily-Ever-After, which I'm sure will feature lots of familiar faces.

      Don't think about this too hard
      • I would have liked to see more character growth for Lola in this one. There is some, but for the most part, she doesn't really exist outside of her relationships with Max and Cricket. I don't mean to compare it with Anna, but Anna grew/learned so much in that book that it almost didn't matter if it worked out with St. Clair or not. Not so much with Lola.

      The Big Three
      Language: fairly regular profanity, with a couple f-words
      Sex and Stuff: some kissing, some more-than-kissing (but not described)
      Violence: not an issue

      Tuesday, October 4, 2011

      Top Ten Tuesday: Book Endings That Left Me With My Mouth Hanging Open

      I love this week's Top Ten Tuesday topic. Because who doesn't love (to hate) a wild, unexpected ending. These are in no particular order.

      1. Variant by Robison Wells, which comes out today. I actually tweeted him to see if my galley had all the chapters (it had a lot fewer pages than the hardcover was supposed to). Nope, I had all 29.

      2. City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare. I don't even like this series, but I read this one. And I won't read the rest of them, but I'll have to look on wikipedia to see what happens, because what kind of ending was that?

      3. Possession by Elana Johnson. I know there's going to be a companion book, but that ending was so wild & perfect I hope she doesn't change it.

      4. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. *major spoilers* I knew it would be Dumbledor's book to go, but totally didn't expect who/how.

      5. Fablehaven 4 by Brandon Mull. This is a cute middle grade series. The second-to-last book has a huge cliffhanger, which usually doesn't happen with middle grade books.

      6. Delirium by Lauren Oliver. That ending had everything, except for a sense of resolution. Pandemonium can't come out soon enough.

      7. Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare. I actually liked this a lot more than the TMI books. I know I'm not the only one who's curious what was going on at the end.

      8. The Maze Runner by James Dashner. Basically, I didn't expect anything that happened in this one.

      9. The Scorch Trials by James Dasher. I knew to expect the unexpected, after The Maze Runner. But somehow I spent the last several pages saying "what?" over & over again.

      10. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins. I figured some things out before Katniss, but that last line gets me every. single. time.