Sunday, January 30, 2011

Ready, Set, READ!

Challenge #1:

I LOVE historical fiction.  If I had to pick one genre to read for the rest of my life, it probably would be that (sorry, paranormal romance, but you’re trendy and flighty.  I’ll stick with a solid and reliable and fantastic genre).  But so many teens today don’t feel the same way as I do- read some of my babbling on the fact that historical fiction should come back, and my thoughts that it won’t, at least, not this year (scroll to the very bottom of that post). But, to promote the genre and prove that there are AMAZING historical fiction picks out there, I’m going to be joining the YA Historical Fiction Challenge that the blog, YA Bliss, is hosting.  I’m going to be participating at a ‘level 2’, which means reading 10 YA or MG historical fiction books in 2011- that’s just under one a month.  I can do that!  Anyone can do that!

Up first is Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly (yes, I know some of it takes place in the present and there are fantastical elements, but it still counts!), then I’m thinking finally reading Bright Young Things by Anna Godbersen (I’ve read the first couple chapters in Browse Inside and loved it) or maybe What I Saw and How I Lied by Judy Blundell.  I’ll keep you updated!

P.S. Run over to YA Bliss and check out the timeline they have of post-Civil War Historical Fiction (or click here).  It's pretty awesome!  If only there was one for earlier, as my favorite historical periods are Tudor England and Revolutionary America.  Perhaps I see a project in my future!

Challenge #2:

I really love classic literature, even long before taking very academic/literary criticism classes in college.  I fell in love with Thomas Hardy at 17, Charlotte Brontë at 18, Jane Austen at 19, and so on.  In college, I became aware of even more wonderful authors and novels: I had the wonderful opportunity to take an entire class devoted to Jane Austen’s works, another that looked at the Brontë sisters, one that focused on 17th and 18th century French and British literature and another that looked at Victorian lit (and was taught in London by a Brit, which added a nice layer to discussions). 

There are very few of the most classic of classic novels that I outright dislike (As a general rule, Russian lit and I haven’t gotten along, but besides that, we’re all friends).  Some novels, though, take me a while to read, even if I like them.  I didn’t love Pride and Prejudice until my second go-round (and now I’m a huge Janeit!).  Anna Karenina took me an entire summer (amidst other easier reads). And then there’s Middlemarch by George Eliot, Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray, and Tess d’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy all sitting on my bookshelves, half read.  The BBC Book Challenge made me embarrassingly aware of that fact, and I know I can’t read all the remaining books on that list this year.  But I CAN finish those three- and that is my reading goal #2 for 2011.

Will you join me in these challenges or create one of your own?  Creating goals is always a great way to works towards achieving something (it feels so good when you can cross it off your to-do list!)…and with an aim to read more, everyone wins!

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Time Has Come Two Months In

"The time has come," the Walrus said,
"To talk of many things:
Of shoes--and ships--and sealing-wax--
Of cabbages--and kings--
And why the sea is boiling hot--
And whether pigs have wings."
-“The Walrus and the Carpenter” in Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There by Lewis Carroll*

Or, in other words…the time has come for me to stay later at work.  As I reach my two month anniversary as an employed book lover, my boss’s quip that I should leave work early while I can “cause it won’t last” has come true.

Lately, I’ve found myself staying at work until 5:30 or 6.  Not much later than the required 5pm, but a little bit.  Sometimes it’s because I want to get something done that evening (like type up meeting notes before the weekend because come Monday I knew I wouldn’t be able to decipher my shorthand); other times it’s because I have plans for the evening in the other direction from my apartment and my midtown office provides a better departure point (but then I’m secretly glad I got another hour in at work before dinner plans).

In my two months as an editorial assistant at HarperCollins, I’ve become increasingly busy…and that’s a good thing!  Slowly I’m picking up on the cyclical nature of publishing seasons, and as I fill out certain forms a few times in a row, I’m understanding not only how to fill them out but why I am.  It’s definitely a step in the right direction!  The most exciting things I’ve been working on so far are writing cover copy (the blurbs on the back of books), drafting cover art book summaries, and reviewing agent submissions. Quite a bit of my day is spent on administrative tasks like filling out forms and doing mailings, but even as I figure out UPS verses DHL that process is getting faster, and I can spend more time with our amazing manuscripts.  More and more often I’m busy in the office and taking manuscripts home to read at night, but at least I’m doing what I love and it feels so worthwhile.

I’m glad the time has come.  Another time we’ll talk of many other things (not sealing-wax, but perhaps kings)…

* It was Lewis Caroll’s 178th birthday yesterday, hence the inspirational quote.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Author Talks: Part 2

Hey everyone, you know my thoughts on author talks, but do you know how to find which authors will be talking in your area?  This new website I discovered recently will show you just that.  Normally I would have to check event listings at all the major bookstores (namely B&N, Borders, Books of Wonder and The Strand in NYC plus Symphony Space, a cultural/performance arts center) at least once a month, but now it’s all done for me! It even finds readings at places I never would have thought of.  (It's never a bad idea, though, to keep on checking your local bookstore listings, especially for children's book related events.) Pretty cool, huh?

Happy listening to those awesome authors! 

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Apartment Saga

This employed book lover is now an ‘adult’.  And with adulthood comes some awesome things like a job (although that might also make you an adult- quite a chicken or the egg argument), a paycheck from said job, independence and your own place.  Well, getting and having an apartment has been kicking my butt for the past two months, hence the crazy/busy life I’ve been leading.

It all started on a wonderful and exciting late November afternoon when I received a call from HarperCollins offering me a job.  With a job, I could move into the city on my own rather than a tiring and slightly against-the-rules arrangement of commuting from CT and staying with my boyfriend in his subsidized grad student housing.  Since I had been trolling Craigslist for ages (like, since April because naïve-me thought I’d have a job by graduation in May), I knew what was out there, what I could expect to pay, and where I wanted to live.

I jumped right into viewing apartments that I had found listed on Craigslist and through my boyfriend’s school.  Some were small, some were in sketchy areas, some involved climbing far too many stairs, one was seemingly being rented out by an Eastern European prostitute for an alarmingly large amount of money.  Some were also big, beautiful and out of my price range (why, oh why, did I ever let myself view apartments that I knew I couldn’t afford?).  But then I found a room in a four bedroom apartment for a reasonable price and close to the subway, grocery store, and bank.  There was a dishwasher, exposed brick and one and half baths!  I had found my apartment.   I went home for Thanksgiving with the promise that I could meet the other roommates (only the girl moving out had been around when I viewed the apartment) and if everything was okay, I could move in.  The day before I was supposed to meet them, though, they emailed (very rudely) that they had found someone else.  My ‘dream’ apartment was snatched away from me.

So I had to jump right in again,  this time viewing apartments after work.  It was exhausting.  I was adjusting to my awesome new job during the day and running all over my neighborhood during the night.  Eventually I found another four bedroom place, slightly further north than I wanted, but with a huge kitchen (great for my baking!) with a dishwasher and dining nook, two bathrooms, great light and near the subway.  I viewed it twice before deciding it was right for me.  But it was, and is.  The floors are tilted, the subway might rattle and the radiator might clang, but that’s city/old building living!  And besides, I realized the other day that if I wanted to become a recluse, I could spend my entire life on my block- there are three pizza/Italian restaurants (including one of the best in the city), three Chinese food (one part sushi) places, a Mexican restaurant, an Irish pub, a burger joint, a deli, a grocery store, a liquor store, a laundromat and a dry cleaners all on my block.  There’s even a consignment store if I get desperate for clothes.  Not bad!

So this was right before Christmas.  I got my keys, but didn’t plan on moving in until after the New Year.  I didn’t have any furniture after all, and didn’t relish the idea of sleeping on a leaky air mattress when I could share my boyfriend’s comfy bed and well furnished apartment.

Returning to the city just before New Years, I headed to Ikea after a half day of work to get nearly every piece of furniture I needed.  It went smoothly, until I got lots of sass for needing help getting huge and heavy pieces of furniture from the warehouse onto my cart.  Geez, my boyfriend would have been there to help me if he had been in New York City, but they can’t possibly expect every weak (that’s me) or average-strength girl (or guy!) to bring someone to help them!  Although it was a bit frustrating (and the lines were long), I successfully bought my furniture and set up delivery for the next day.

Fast-forward to the end of the next day, Ikea never showed up.  Turns out one hour after my delivery time slot was over, the delivery driver was still four hours upstate.  I was NOT happy, but rescheduled for later that weekend.  They made me wait five and a half hours the second day (the delivery time slot is four), but my mattress, box spring, dresser, nightstand and bookcase were successfully delivered.

Then there was the issue of actually putting together the cheap Ikea furniture.  It went smoothly, although I was warned about couples getting into “Ikea fights.”  There was a little disappointment when I discovered that my dresser couldn’t fit into the closet like I had hoped, but we tucked it in the other closet (yes, I have two closets in my bedroom) and we were all set.  But then we got to the bookcase.  Since my floors tilt in every direction imaginable, it was important to secure the bookcase to the wall.  But what we thought was a stud behind my drywall turned out to be a brick wall.  A frustrating setback, but at least a trip to Home Depot a couple days later solved that problem.

And then there’s my absent desk.  I want one like this, which is similar to the type of desk I had in college.  But I cannot afford a Pottery Barn price tag (duh), and you would think that cheaper retailers would sell something similar.  Not true.  I thought I had found one I liked from Target, only for my boyfriend to look at the measurements and point out that it was a kids’ desk.  Ooops.  And then I found another at Staples, only for it to become backordered (and possibly discontinued) the moment I tried to order it.  I would love it if anyone had ideas on where to find this (seemingly simple) desk.

The following weekend my boyfriend and I did an exhausting but luckily easy transfer of all my stuff that was still at my home in CT.  We took the three-and-a-half-hour door-to-door train up Saturday night, loaded my mom’s car, drove the two hours down, unloaded my belongings, drove two hours back, and then turned right around and took the train back into New York.  From start to finish, it was a twenty-four hour process.  Yuck.  But it’s been nice having ALLLL my clothes in one place and my books and cooking supplies and (I’ll admit it) stuffed animals.  It’s beginning to feel like home.

So that’s about where my apartment stands.  Are you exhausted?  I know I am!  But don’t get me wrong, either; as tiring as this process has been, I am SO happy to be able to officially call New York City home.  And it has been fun picking out comforters and curtains and my aunt and grandmother made me beautiful pillowcases that brighten up the mostly white bedroom.  Everything is nearly settled and I couldn’t be happier with the way it’s turned out…or the fact that it’s almost done!

Friday, January 21, 2011


Hamilton’s Career Center treats me like a celebrity.   First, they interviewed me and wrote up an article about my internship in 2008 at Bloomsbury Children’s Books.  Then they sent paparazzi to capture the alum-student moments.  Oh, and believe me, having someone take your picture while you’re at work and all the fellow employees are trying to be productive is awkward.  Anyways, now that I’ve graduated, the Career Center actually wanted to hear my own words, the article of which is included below:

How I Got My First Job with Laurel Symonds '10
January 20, 2011
I walked into Hamilton knowing I wanted to major in creative writing, and the summer following my sophomore year I realized what I would do with the degree. That summer I had the opportunity to intern in the editorial department of Bloomsbury Children’s Books in Manhattan, and it confirmed my belief that children’s book editorial was my dream job.

Then the economy crashed, and publishing was hit especially hard. Two years later, when I graduated, most companies were in a hiring freeze and learning to functioning with smaller staffs. My friends went to grad school or had temporary jobs that held them over until they found something more stable. Instead, I volunteered at my local library while writing emails, calling, and even traveling into NYC to connect with Hamilton alums in publishing who I had found through the Career Center, establishing contacts. The Hamilton alums’ contacts turned into mine, and soon enough I had a few interviews, but no luck. To find job openings, I used the job boards on,, and, which I checked daily. I also checked the individual publishers’ websites weekly, although oftentimes jobs have already been filled by the time they are listed online, which is why having contacts in the industry who can alert you to job openings early is key. I continued to talk to everyone I could about the publishing industry, book trends, and popular reads. I networked nonstop, because like so many industries, to be hired in publishing you need to be qualified, but to be considered for the job you need a personal recommendation.

I can’t deny how frustrating this summer was. I was qualified! I was enthusiastic! I was putting in so much effort! Why hasn’t anyone hired me yet? And then I repeated to myself again: I am qualified, I am enthusiastic, I am putting in a ton of effort, and it will pay off in the end.

In September I took a part-time unpaid internship at a literary agency. This wasn’t my ideal job; it was somewhere around plan-D. But by being involved in the industry I learned a lot and was presented with more networking opportunities. My advisors at the internship also supported my job search immensely: one day an agent came into the office and placed three books on my desk with, “There’s an opening at this company and I think you’ll really get along with the editor. Read these books and I’ll make a phone call today.” All those days working long hours for no pay became worthwhile because she knew that I was qualified, enthusiastic and dedicated. She could provide a personal recommendation and get my resume noticed.

I didn’t get that job. Or the several others I applied to and interviewed for that fall. But then I was offered an interview at Katherine Tegen Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Children’s Books. I met with HR and the two editors I would work for. I was given a writing test. Two of the women I interned for made phone calls or wrote emails on my behalf. I received a second interview. I met with the two editors again, and their boss. A week later, I got the job, and was told that my passion for children’s books as well as writing skills made me the most desirable candidate for the position.

It wasn’t easy, or fun, but my efforts paid off in the end. I’m now happily employed in my dream job thanks to an amazing network of Hamilton alums, a lot of hard work, and patience.

Just remember, you can say “I knew her when…”

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

BBC Book Challenge List

This list comes up every now and then and I ran across it on Facebook the other day, so thought I’d pass it along to anyone who hasn’t seen it:  The BBC believes most people will have read only 6 of the 100 books listed here.

(Ummm…who are these hypothetical people?  Clearly not those who have made it through typical high school English classes where so many of these books are covered!)

Anyways, the rules are to: Bold those books you've read in their entirety, italicize the ones you started but didn't finish or read an excerpt.  Plus, I put stars next to those I highly recommend.

1 Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen* 
2 The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien 
3 Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte*
4 Harry Potter series – JK Rowling (all)* 
5 To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
6 The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman (all)*
10 Great Expectations – Charles Dickens 
11 Little Women – Louisa M Alcott*
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy (still working on it)
13 Catch 22 – Joseph Heller 
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare (still working on it)
15 Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier* 
16 The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveler’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger*
20 Middlemarch – George Eliot (still working on it)
21 Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald 
23 Bleak House – Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy (the only book in all of high school I couldn’t make myself finish)
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky (or okay, it could have been this one.  I am NOT a fan of Russian literature)
28 Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame  
31 Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield – Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis (all)
34 Emma – Jane Austen
35 Persuasion – Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – CS Lewis
37 The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Berniere
39 Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh – AA Milne
41 Animal Farm – George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown 
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney – John Irving
45 The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery*
47 Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies – William Golding
50 Atonement – Ian McEwan
51  Life of Pi – Yann Martel
52 Dune – Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck
62 Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History – Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road – Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick – Herman Melville 
71 Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens
72 Dracula – Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses – James Joyce 
76 The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal – Emile Zola 
79 Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray (still working on it)
80 Possession – AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell 
83 The Color Purple – Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web – EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom  
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton 
91 Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad  
92 The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks
94 Watership Down – Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet – William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl  
100 Les Miserables – Victor Hugo

That makes 43 completed, 9 partials.  Not too bad compared to BBC’s 6 but plenty left to read.  Makes me feel guilty for not finishing all those lengthy classics sitting half read on my nightstand…must get to those!  Hope this list inspired you….go get reading!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Judging A Book By It's Cover

Ooops....totally missed my fun Friday fact two days ago.  It's been one of those weeks (update coming soon!).  But work has been going well (and keeping me busy!).

One of the most exciting tasks I’ve been doing for my job lately is filling out “cover summary” forms.  These detailed documents are written by editors outlining their thoughts for the cover of upcoming books.   While others (especially marketing and publicity) also have a say in what the cover of a book will look like, the editor’s comments get the ball rolling.  We fill out suggestions such as who or what we want on the main cover, what the main character looks like, and who the potential audience for the book is.  A lot of thought goes into the cover look, and it’s exciting to have a say in the process.  

HaloThe ReplacementSavvy
Recently CBS came out with a news clip about the process, which you can view here.
Some of my recent favorites include, Savvy by Ingrid Law, The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff, Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater, Halo by Alexandra Adornetto and Torment by Lauren Kate.   I read the first two based on how appealing I found the covers and nothing else.  And while I have not yet read the last two, the iconic and beautiful images are what many YA paranormal covers aspire to look like.
Torment (Fallen)Shiver (Wolves of Mercy Falls)

What makes you pick up a book? Glittery images and embossed text? A pretty girl? Something iconic?  There are so many great options out there, but some covers are just meant to stand out! 

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Giving My Regards to Broadway

One of my favorite parts about living in New York City is that Broadway is at my doorstep.  Having participated in musical theater growing up, I have a huge affinity for the theater.  Those show-stopping numbers in classical musicals keep me smiling for days on end and I can’t help but wish that my neighbors would start singing as I walked down the street a la Avenue Q or RENT, even though I live further north (perhaps they do really sing in Alphabet City?).

Keeping up with theater trends, lately I have noticed how many musicals, and especially those for children, have found their source material in books.  This obviously isn’t unheard of, although many book-based musicals are actually book-based-movies-turned-Broadway-show, like Mary Poppins or Spider Man.   However, there are a few new shows out that have skipped the movie step and gone straight to stage (although perhaps in off- and off-off-off Broadway). 

Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West (Wicked Years)The most famous of these (and VERY VERY highly recommended by moi) is Wicked, adapted by Gregory Macguire’s novel of the same name.  While it is technically a book for adults, and the storyline of the novel is bogged down by political commentary*, at the  heart of the musical is a story of acceptance and finding out who you are.  Elphaba’s journey, along with G(a)linda, the Scarecrow, Tinman, and Lion are something every teenager can relate to.

Freckleface StrawberryFor the younger crowd, Freckleface Strawberry: The Musical, based on Julianne Moore’s picture book recently opened.  I got the inside scoop on this book while interning at Bloomsbury Children’s Books and if the musical is anything like the book, it’s a gem.   I only wish I had a few kids to take to see the show, so I wouldn’t be the only adult unaccompanied by a kid in the theater.

George's Marvelous MedicineIn London, Roald Dahl’s George’s Marvelous Medicine recently opened, and perhaps it will make it’s way to New York like so many shows do. 

Clifford The Big Red DogAnd Scholastic just announced the traveling show, Clifford the Big Red Dog: A Big Family Musical, which will be performed in sixty cities around the country. It’s just in development stages, but it’s something exciting to look forward to!

So, for kids young and old, there are plenty of choices for a theater experience.  Read the book, then see the show.  It’s a match made in musical heaven.

* And for the record, although Wicked wasn’t my favorite ‘fairytale’ adaptation of Gregory Macguire’s, the strongly plotted sequel, Son of a Witch, makes reading the first one worth it.

Monday, January 10, 2011


Today some of the most prestigious awards in children's books were awarded today at the ALA Midwinter Conference in San Diego.  Read the press release with the winners.

Special congrats to Sir Terry Pratchett who won the Edwards Award, and his editor, Anne Hoppe (my boss!).  

And if you want to read the award winning books- I know I have a lot of catching up to do- use this link to start selecting which ones will make it on to your To Be Read list.  Enjoy, and congrats to all the winners!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Reading Roundup

All of you now know that I am VERY happily employed at HarperCollins Publishers, which means I have two little bits of information to add before getting to December’s Reading Roundup.

Disclaimer #1: All opinions on this blog are my own and not representative of HarperCollins.

Disclaimer #2: That being said, the majority of the books I’m reading nowadays are published by HC.  And that may not always be clear.  But keep in mind that I may be biased, as I do have a personal stake in the success of certain books and the company.  That isn’t to say, though, that I will fabricate a good review on a HC book if it’s bad, because HC publishes SUCH good books it’s unlikely there will be a so-so one.  And if you check out the New York Times’ Bestseller list, several HC books are always there, and that’s part of what drew me to the company. 

So yeah, just keep those two things in mind as you continue to read the blog.

Once in a Full Moon (ARC 1/11) by Ellen Schreiber
Ellen Schreiber is the author of the bestselling Vampire Kisses series; her new book begins a series about werewolves.  And one of the most appealing aspects to her writing is that although they’re paranormal romances about violent creatures, the stories themselves are blood and gore free.  It’s fluffy and refreshing rather than moody and disconcerting.  And the cover to Once in a Full Moon is breathtaking.


Shade's Children by Garth Nix
This book was first published in 1998 as a sci-fi book for adults.  Yet HC sees the possibility to jump on the YA dystopian bandwagon and republish it with a new look.  Since I helped write the flap copy (the blurb on the back of the book), I needed to know what the book was about.  As I’ve said before, sci-fi isn’t a genre that I like, and it’s true that this book has a lot of sci-fi elements.  Yet, the characters were strongly portrayed and there were fantasy elements (they have special powers) that were intriguing and something a non-sci-fi lover could grasp on to. 

Angelfire (ARC 3/11) by Courtney Allison Moulton
I’m really excited about this debut novel.  It’s a paranormal romance about angels and demons…but so much more.  When Ellie discovers tidbits of truth about her past- turns out there’s about two millennia of it- she has to confront what she knows about God and fallen angels and demons…especially when she discovers that her love interest/tutor, Will, is one of them.  She must fight the creatures who stalk the Grim, even if she doesn’t yet know who she really is or how she fits into the larger universal plan.  Angelfire has made it onto lots of blogger’s “Books I’m looking forward to in 2011” lists, so grab a copy as soon as you can!

Old Habits: After Ink Exchange (ebook 1/11) by Melissa Marr
This is a short story eBook available to readers eager to read more about the world in which Wicked Lovely and Melissa Marr’s other bestselling novels are set.  Her world-building is fantastic, and this will help tide readers over until her next books are published.

Immortal by Gillian Shields
When Evie is sent to a historic boarding school in the moors, she has to deal with far more than snotty girls and harsh mistresses; there’s a secretive boy that she meets by moonlight, a potentially deranged student, and the mystery of Evie’s past.  When all three collide, Evie realizes she is in danger…but discovering the truth about what happened centuries ago is the only way to make it right.  Followed by Betrayal and Eternal, Immortal reminded me of a contemporary, lighter Rebel Angel by Libba Bray.  Great for anyone who (like me) enjoys slightly gothic boarding school stories.
This book was recommended to me because I was also reading a manuscript for an upcoming novel-in-verse, and I had never read one before.  This one is excellent; it was a quick (about one hour) and exciting read.  Great for those who are reluctant to read poetry because the story itself is so vivid, you forget…until Sones does something so brilliant with the formatting or language, you appreciate it all over again.

Forgive My Fins by Tera Lynn Childs
I was so excited to read this book; it’s a paranormal romance about mermaids.  And I LOVE mermaids.  Mermaids never really caught on fire like vampires, werewolves and then angel/demons, but just a little while ago a bunch of mermaid books suddenly were on the market.  This one is a light, fluffy read told from the point of view of a mermaid who spends much of her time on land in order to understand her mother’s people and snag a mermate.  I look forward to seeing what happens to Lily and her choice in the sequel, Fins Forever.

The Fire Opal by Regina McBride
I picked this book up because it was on one of HC editor’s shelves and every time I walked by it caught my eye.  Turns out, this wasn’t my favorite book ever; every time the character was confused I was really confused, too.  Yet the use of Celtic mythology was interesting, as was the creative ice barge setting in the last third of the novel.

Plus five manuscripts for exciting books in HC’s future.  I know you’ll hear more about them later.