Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Nine Days!!!

NINE DAYS LEFT TO ENTER THE EPIC BOOKSTRAVAGANZA!!!

We've had a lot to celebrate in the past year! Just to name a few milestones:

*Lea Nolan's debut, CONJURE, released from Entangled Teen.
*Melissa Landers's debut, ALIENATED, sold to Disney-Hyperion.
*Jen McAndrews's mystery debut, DEADLY FARCE, released from Avalon Books/Thomas & Mercer.
*Co-authors Lorie Langdon and Carey Corp sold DOON to Zondervan/Harper Collins.
*4 new YA authors joined the Honestly YA blog: Jenn McGowan, Pintip Dunn, Marni Bates, and Kristi Cook.

We hope 2013 is even kick-assier than 2012, so we're starting it off with a celebration of our books! (**US/CAN only, please.**) Here's what you can enter to win:



Grand Prize: a $50 gift certificate to Amazon! 




Other prizes: Autographed copies of our books: 


1. An ARC (advance copy) of Jennifer McGowan's MAID OF SECRETS, coming in May from Simon & Schuster.
2. DECKED WITH HOLLY, by Marni Bates, now available from Kensington Teen.
3. An e-book copy of CONJURE, by Lea Nolan, now available from Entangled Teen.
4. HAVEN, by Kristi Cook, now available from Simon Pulse.
5. THE GUARDIAN, by Carey Corp, along with the ETERNAL SPRING anthology.

By entering this giveaway, you agree to the terms and conditions set forth on our Contest Disclaimer page. Good luck, everyone!



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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Bunheads Recap! (season 2, episode 4) (aka S1, ep 14)


When last we were in Paradise...Michelle and Fanny were looking for ways to raise funds, resulting in Michelle committing to a business partnership with Millie Stone. In that same evening, Michelle alienated Godot by insulting his intelligence, and Melanie - after dumping Godot off a barstool - was invited to consider joining roller derby. Unable to get a commitment from Sasha about whether she wanted to move to San Jose or LA, Sasha was given the keys to the Paradise house where she will have to live alone until she makes up her mind. And finally, Cozette and Frankie continue to creep me out. 


This week



Jordan is running class, being a jerk, asking the girls to do impossible things. Apparently the class has killed Baryshnikov - again (pretty sure this isn't literal. Maybe they're killing his choreography?). Melanie has skipped class, but Jordan didn’t notice. Sasha is out apartment hunting, planning to live in her own place. Boo takes a call on her cell phone, taking her mom through a fallen television catastrophe.

Rather than attend dance class, Melanie checks out the Derby Dolls, the roller derby crew Cozette told her about (via flyer) and is subsequently late meeting her dad for dinner. Dad is annoyed by her tardiness since he wanted to discuss Mel’s college choices. Ginny and her mom join them for dinner at the Chinese place. Mel lies to Ginny about where she’s been / why she’s skipping ballet class, blaming her absence on dad insisting on touring colleges and claiming she spent the day touring UC Santa Barbara

Cut to Michelle quoting Casablanca as she enters The Oyster, bearing an apology gift for Godot*after having insulted him so badly on Trivia night (the gift? a DVD copy of Finding Nemo). Godot walks Michelle home and we think maybe they'll seriously hook up, but Michelle finds Scotty on her porch when she arrives home. Scotty is Michelle’s brother (for realz! Scotty is portrayed by Sutton Foster’s brother Hunter Foster) and is visiting after the failure of his fourth marriage - he bolted during the reception but thoughtfully brought some wedding cake. 

Boo arrives for dance class with her siblings (?) in tow; Carl has promised to be there right away to take them, but of course he's not there yet and the kids are disrupting class - especially a boy called Beaver.  Boo is clearly becoming her mother. She and Carl later take the boys to dinner - a portent of their future? further arguing between Boo and Carl about whose turn it is to take the kids. Yup, they're an old married couple - yikes!

At The Oyster, Scotty claims Godot looks dumb; Michelle informs him Godot is an oceanographer. Cue evening of tequila shots. memories of Scotty and Michelle’s childhood after Scotty presents Michelle with the ukelele he found (hers, lost for years). Like little kids again, Scotty falls asleep dreaming of being an astronaut and Michelle nods off dreaming of being a ballerina - what she was supposed to be. Except of course, she actually prepared for that life. Hmm....

Her first time participating in roller derby, Melanie is warned about Bam Bam McGee, Bone of Arc, and Scary Kate and Crashley, the twins (honestly, the Olsen twins will forever be known by these names in my household!). Melanie heads out to the starting ‘line’ in all her paleness. Goes down before she makes one complete circuit but nonetheless feels she’s found her place / is enjoying herself immensely. And wait, was that Cozette in the dj booth? Apparently! She and her brother are in charge of the music and have nicknamed half the team.  They give Mel the nickname “CleoSmacktra” (spelling unconfirmed *s*)

Before dance class, Ginny has a freak out over the hideous bridesmaid dress and is upset at Mel’s scarcity. Ginny's afraid she's going crazy just the way her mom did but is assured by Frankie that there's a fine line between insanity and genius - but only after he tells her she reminds him of a ver Meer, specifically "The Milkmaid" (see photo at top of post). Really? The Milkmaid? If I were Ginny I'd be fully insulted. Come on. She's Girl with Pearl Earring at least! 

Scotty drops in to watch Michelle teach and tell her students how much Michelle hated her ballet teacher and plotted her demise a la Margaret O’Brien. Miffed, Michelle gives Scotty the brush-off when he suggests finding some dinner.

Later at the studio, Jordan lays into one of the young dancerx, earning Boo’s wrath. Boo lays down the law for Jordan, then tries to talk Ginny down from her Melanie-is-missing panic (and poor Ginny really is wearing a shower curtain as a bridesmaid dress) solidifying her role as mother hen.

Ginny, covered in fruit punch her mother threw at the bridal party during the pre-wedding ph9to shoot (remember, this will be the second marriage for Ginny's dad. her soon-to-be stepmom is called Faye), finds Melanie at the roller ring (the million dollar question is HOW? HOW did Ginny find Melanie at the rink? she even asks “where are we?” so how did she get there???). Mel explains to Ginny that she is stressed by her dad’s constant college/SATs/major/future-planning pressure, and roller derby ‘makes sense’ (I guess it helps her let off some steam or forget the pressures of everyday life?) but Ginny is still hurt and angry that Melanie wasn’t there for her at the shoot.

When Ginny finds out that Cozette was the one to give Mel the flyer for roller derby, Ginny rips Cozette a new one, warning her to stay away from her friends, stay out of the foursome.

End of day Scotty returns to studio to get a key to the guest house from Michelle. They argue about the whether Scotty really found the ukulele or had hidden it for all those years, and Michelle accuses Scotty of undermining her authority with her students. The argument continues, fightng about whose responsibility Mom is and how they both seem to believe each has ruined the other’s life. We learn Michelle hasn't spoken to her mother in twelve years. But more, we learn Michelle is prepared to defend and fight for the life she is making for herself in Paradise. 

The episode comes to a close with Scotty and Michelle singing along to ukulele “Tonight You Belong to Me” then we see Jordan driving himself into the ground in a quest for perfection -- or a quest to become Baryshnikov, hard to tell which.

next week - sasha has found her own apartment (making me lose mumble-mumble dollars on my bet she would move in with Michelle), and a surprise will be revealed by Scotty - a dramatic one! (could it be Mom in for a visit???) Tune in next week! 
(does that even apply any more? Does anyone still use a tuner? And if they do, can you get only basic networks on that? In which case you can't see Bunheads anyway so never mind about the tuner thing. Just set your DVR, ok?)

*Yay! Godot is back to the sleeveless tee! (I’m not at all shallow, I swear. It's just that last week's wardrobe was totally senior citizen center chic. The tee is a much better look -- and color, in fact.)


And now, without further ado, your primer on the pop culture references from last night’s episode:

• Margaret O'Brien movie about a ballerina falling through a trap door - The Unfinished Dance (1947), also starred Cyd Charisse

• Eddie Vedder - guitarist and lead singer of Pearl Jam

• Michelle dressed up as Angie Dickinson for Halloween - references television series Police Woman (1974-1978) starring Angie Dickinson

• gay marine -- yup, it’s a real drink made with Mount Gay Barbados rum (the oldest brand of rum in existence, created in Barbados in 1703)

Casablanca - Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman (1942). (Confession: I totally blanked on Ingrid Bergman’s name. All I could think was Isabella Rossellini, which is obviously wrong, but at least I was close. Isabella is Ingrid’s daughter).

Finding Nemo - animated film from Pixar (2003) that  totally deserved a Best Picture Oscar! The film features Ellen DeGeneres as the voice of Dory and, as the voice of Marlon, Albert Brooks (no relation to Mel)

Orca - 1977 film about a killer whale out to avenge the death of its mate (yeah, the 70s weren’t known for high quality story)

• “even Mrs. Robinson is giving you a weird look right now” - reference to The Graduate (1967), starring Dustin Hoffman and Anne Bancroft (who was married to Mel Brooks for forty years. Both Anne Bancroft and Ingrid Bergman died of cancer.)

• Mel Brooks, 2000 Year Old Man - a repeating character of Brooks’s, part of a Q&A routine with Carl Reiner (who is no relation to Albert Brooks or Ingrid Bergman) 

• "Tonight You Belong to Me" - a song for ukelele, written in 1926 by Billy Rose, performed by tons of people but my faves are Steve Martin and Bernadette Peters in The Jerk

And hey, did this happen to you? There were two commercials for Side Effects during the broadcast, but Channing Tatum didn't appear in either one. Weird how he wasn't after he was featured so prominently in the commercials during the episode "Channing Tatum is a fine actor," huh?

That's all for this week's Bunheads!! 

~Jen

Monday, January 28, 2013

To See or Not to See

I have always tried to live by the rule: read the book before seeing the movie. The Hunger Games – check.Water for Elephants – check. The Twilight Saga – check, check, check, and check. I believe to the very fabric of my core, it is better to read the book first.

However, as life gets more demanding, I seem to have less time to read. It also seems that more movies are based on books than ever before. I can’t keep up—and I’ve started make regular exceptions to my rule. 

      
As February approaches, I find myself in another book to film dilemma. There are two movies I really want to see, Warm Bodies and Beautiful Creatures. Confession time, I started to read Beautiful Creatures but set it down when life got in the way. The book is still on the top of my TBR pile, to remind me I intend to pick it back up.



And despite the controversial remarks by the author of Warm Bodies, the concept appeals to me one thousand percent. Zombie romance? Heck yah!

But with deadlines, work, family, and general life, it’s doubtful I will get them read in the next month. So do I miss out on potentially awesome movies, until I read the book? Or do I see them anyway? If the movie is just meh, I may never get to the book.

Sometimes, the movie can inspire a viewer to read the original source material. When I saw The Perks of Being a Wallflower, I stopped at the bookstore on the way home to get the book. It was that good.


As I wallow in my indecision, I’m interested to hear what you think. About seeing movies based on books and/or these two February releases in particular?  Should I go see or should I wait until I read? Thoughts?



Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Bunheads Recap! (season 2, episode 3)


When last we were in Paradise, Sasha had just had a showdown with her Mom about moving away, newcomers Frankie and Cozette had arrived from Bavaria to creep everyone out (or maybe that's just me) and Truly had temporarily relocated her clothing boutique, Sparkles, to Michelle's living room.

This week, we’re treated to Michelle and Fanny's differing morning power rituals as they prepare for… a meeting with an accountant who appears to be advising them on business matters (I'm a little foggy on this; I have the same problem staying awake through financial discussions that Michelle and Fanny do.) The ladies need to find a way to earn income, perhaps do something with the land they own. (On the drive home they run across an outdoor candle “shop” that Fanny is thrilled to locate since homemade candles are so hard to find. But how tough could they be to find if they've been available on your own property for ten years? Did Hubbel keep his mother locked up in the dance studio while he was alive? And yet she knows the lake that's only sometimes a lake. Hmm…)

So Stacia breaks up with Charlie in the hallway of the high school, making Stacia Melanie's (temporary) hero -- and Ginnie’s as well. But Charlie's genuine broken heart elicits an unexpected, subconscious protective response from Melanie. At the first opportunity, Melanie levels Stacia in the hallway of the high school, surprising even herself.

Meanwhile, Michelle, having determined the best way to become business savvy is to take a class in, you know, business, enrolls in the local community college -- or tries to. Turns out, Michelle only thought she graduated high school. In reality, she had been expected to attend summer school. Rather than summer school, Michelle spent two weeks at DollyWood - a concept which really hurts my brain, but to each his own.

Now. Can we just take a moment here to marvel at the need for the episode to include a Trivia Contest at The Oyster? After all, Fanny said it best early on: “Every conversation I have with you I feel like I have to add more movie channels”. Every episode has its own trivia test built in! Still, it brings all the characters into one space. And better yet…

… a scene in The Oyster allows us to finally enjoy the event we've all -- okay, maybe just me -- been waiting for: The return of Godot! Only Michelle goes and blows their not-at- all steamy reunion by offering up a toast to high school drop-outs. Yah, drop-outS. Plural. At which point we learn Godot has a master's degree in oceanography, so not as dumb as he is cute. But he takes offense (shocking?) and gives Michelle the brush-off.

Ginnie and Melanie, having witnessed Michelle's dejected retreat from the bar, follow and ask what went wrong. Michelle dismisses the falling out with Godot as the result of a bad luck day. Melanie, at first opportunity, dumps Godot out of a bar stool. Denied the chance to hook up with Godot or learn business from the local college, Michelle elects to ask Millie Stone if she’s interested in buying land. In her attempt to make a land purchase sound appealing, Michelle lets slip that she and Fanny are planning on building an amphitheater. That’s the sort of thing Millie can get behind, and before you can say ‘shot of blue alcohol’ Millie has pronounced herself partner and named the unbuilt amphitheater the Millicent Stone Performing Arts Center.

Now Truly is worried that she’ll lose her store and Fanny and Michelle, but Michelle assures her she won’t lose her or Fanny. Of course, Fanny doesn’t know that Michelle has made a deal with Millie.

It's not until after trivia night that Ginnie and Melanie - accompanying Sasha home - learn about Sasha's impending move. Sasha tells the girls her parents are bluffing. Mom seems pretty serious and advises Sasha the moving truck is coming in the morning and she has to decide between LA and San Jose. When Sasha insists she's staying, Mom gives in and tells her the house will be in escrow for two weeks and Sasha could stay there for that long. What the what!?!? What Mom… Anyway…

In the shockless moment of the evening, Sasha turns up at Michelle's asking for advice. Her mom had given her the keys to the house, and now Sasha realizes there was no bluff. She will have to move or live alone in Paradise.

Honestly, though, I found that last brief scene between Sasha and Michelle to be the strongest of the show, and finishing out the episode with a truly lovely and emotional dance number, with Sasha the lost soul in the center was just the right note.

But hey, how did I miss the teaser for next week’s episode? I really must stop getting so engrossed in the chips and guac that I miss previews…

And now, without further ado, your primer on the pop culture references from last night’s episode:

• 1976 Miracle of Life - may refer to the 1982 docu illustrating the creation of human life. Now available on Netflix. You know, in case you've already watched every episode of every show Joss Whedon has ever written and if you haven't, what are you waiting for?
• “Thanks, Seinfeld” - reference, of course, to comedian Jerry Seinfeld whose television show The Seinfeld Show is still being rerun on six thousand four hundred and twelve channels
• "Hello, Sundance" - reference the film festival, hello
• He's a 'better call Saul' - reference to Breaking Bad's Saul Goodman, attorney who runs late-night television ads to attract clients
• Zsa Zsa Gabor - Hungarian-born celebrity; Zsa Zsa was arrested in 1989 for slapping a Beverly Hills police officer
• Walking the property every day with the hounds, like Pride & Prejudice - no. just no. not going to give you this one, this one is worth earning on your own. Read it. Love it.
•  Ace Frehley - lead guitarist for Kiss
• "Christopher Walken in Annie Hall is my vehicular role model" - nobody can explain Walken like Walken: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PSRm_X3BLPU 
• John Hughes - director/screenwriter noted for classic films of the 80s: The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, Some Kind of Wonderful, Pretty in Pink and the list goes on… Marathon his work some day if you haven't already. You'll thank me.
On the Road - novel? memoir? by Jack Kerouc (I checked amazon to see whether this was classified as a novel or as non-fiction and the blurb says this is one of the most important novels of the century. I presume they meant the last one. Does that still mean I have to read it?)
Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salinger
• Matisse - refers to French painter, Henri Matisse. "The Dance" is the painting being discussed. (also, really? Matisse didn’t know she was named after Matisse? Pretty sure my BFF’s cat knows why she’s named Monet…)
• Julien Schnabel - American filmmaker and artist
• "Check the town for pods" - reference to film Invasion of the Body Snatchers -- as are all the subsequent reference to Cozette "getting" people
• Judy and Mickey and shows in the barn - refers to Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney film, Babes in Arms, 1939, in which to raise funds those crazy kids decide to put on a show in the old barn
Boy Meets World - television series 1993-2000 (currently, a follow-up series is close to or in production, featuring Corey and Topanga's daughter)
South Park binder -- I don't have one of these. I do have Pirates of the Caribbean folders, though, and Tinkerbell loose leaf, so I have that going for me.
• Lucky Luciano & Bugsy Seigel - there's way too many unsavory facts about these gangsters to even begin to do an overview. Just go with: bad-asses
• Meyer Lansky - accountant to the mob (specifically the bad-assses)
• "a Ben Kingsley Meyer Lansky not a Patrick Dempsey Meyer Lansky" - Ben Kingsley portrayed Meyer Lansky in Bugsy for which he won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar; Patrick Dempsey portrayed Meyer Lansky in Mobsters, for which he was forgotten
• Yaffa blocks - plastic interlocking blocks used for storage of books and whatnot; common in college dorm rooms (we used the cheap version: milk crates)

BONUS: Were you a Gilmore Girls fan? Shout out if you spotted any GG alum in last night’s episode!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Bad Habits

by Marni Bates


Hi everyone!

So I have a few bad habits...one of which involves sleep (or the lack thereof) whenever I am nervous or excited about something. Seriously. Whenever my family goes on a vacation, I don’t tend to sleep for about two days before the flight. And when I had to turn in my senior thesis on Henry James...I slept for maybe 2 hours over the course of three days. I have no idea how I managed that one.

Okay, yes, I do. It was a dangerous combination of french fries, soda, and Starbucks.

But there are a whole bunch of problems with this system (including the fact that I’d rather not experience a heart attack), so I decided to try going off caffeine.

Today marks day 3 of my caffeine-free pledge and there is nothing easy about this. I want to sit at Starbucks just in case it’s possible to inhale second-hand caffeine. If I were into perfume, eau de cafe would be my downfall right now.

To make matters even more complicated, I’m still too excited/nervous to sleep like a normal human being. There’s something about falling asleep at 5 or 6 in the morning that gives me a whole new perspective on how much it would suck to be a vampire. (Sidenote: I don’t like vampires. Anyone who thinks, “Heeyyy, I bet her blood is tasty” is not someone I want to date. Especially if they are over a century older than me. Just...ick. My only exception for that is Damon Salvatore from The Vampire Diaries and that’s because Ian Supersmolder is super smolder-y.)

So if anyone sees some crazy tweets posted around 5am...that would be why. I do try very hard not to be rant-y as I know through personal experience that sleep-deprivation can seriously effect my sense of humor. Unless all of you are dying for duck related puns, it’s better for me to steer clear of Twitter. At least for a little while, otherwise I might unleash the quaken!

And yes, this is quaking me up.

So to help me make it without coffee, yesterday my roommate invited me to go for a walk with her older brother. Now, I have known the two of them since I was in preschool, so it shouldn’t have come as any surprise that their definition of “walk” is slightly different from mine. If by “slightly” I meant really fricking different from mine.

Unfortunately my bestie knows that I have a tendency to say yes first and then think over what it entails afterwards. If someone asked if I wanted to be a covert CIA operative, I would go right into patriotic mode and say, “Absolutely, ma’am! You can count on me!” and only after I hung up with the CIA would I panic.

I would also probably tweet about the assignment and they would axe me from the program.

It’s just a terrible idea for me to have anything to do with spy-craft.

That’s how I got roped into what I thought would be a ten-mile hike (thankfully it was only six. My roomie/best friend also enjoys messing with me every now and then) up by the Hollywood sign. It did help a little with my serious pre-meeting jitters that I’m not supposed to admit to having over an upcoming thingie I am not allowed to discuss at all.

Okay, I guess I can tell you that it involves sitting in a room with two very classy people while I say things that may change the direction of my writing career.

But, you know...no big deal.

*Flails arms*

That’s it! I’m going to Starbucks. Maybe if I wink at the baristas while I order a decaf drink they will know what that means...

Happy Reading! 

~Marni



Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Welcome Wednesday: TJ Brown's New Year's Resolutions


We're thrilled to have TJ Brown grace our first Welcome Wednesday post of the new year. She's written the great new Summerset Abbey series which takes place in Edwardian England just after the turn of the 20th century. The series is billed as a New Adult Downton Abbey and I for one can't wait to read it! But first, TJ's got some very inspiring words to share for the new year...

I love New Year’s. It’s a time to reflect back on the old and adjust things for the new. I pretty much have the same resolutions year after year and, like many people, my shiny resolutions go to the wayside by March. But this year is different. Why? Because last year was different.

Last year, I got my second three book contract in six months and that changed everything.

Last year, I was diagnosed with throat cancer and that changed everything.

A poor diet and lack of exercise had drained me of vitality, but like many people, I accepted that not feeling good was a part of getting older. Then I was diagnosed with cancer and spent five months undergoing and recovering from radiation treatments. I found out exactly what it’s like to feel bad. Really, really bad.

So this year, I’m not going to accept feeling just okay anymore. I’ve changed my diet, try to get 75 minutes of exercise a week and have started writing morning pages to jumpstart my creativity every day. This year, I am going to run a couple of 5k’s, learn how to cook delicious, healthy meals and keep myself centered, so I waste as little of my life as possible on anxiety-induced stomach aches.

And this year, my resolutions are not going to be simply cast aside when they become inconvenient because trust me, nothing is as inconvenient as not feeling good. Granted, cancer is a whole different ball game than just not feeling good, but while I remain cancer free, I’m going to feel as great as I possibly can every minute of every day of the New Year.
Summerset Abbey1913: In a sprawling manor on the outskirts of London, three young women seek to fulfill their destinies and desires amidst the unspoken rules of society and the distant rumblings of war. . . . 
Rowena Buxton...Sir Philip Buxton raised three girls into beautiful and capable young women in a bohemian household that defied Edwardian tradition. Eldest sister Rowena was taught to value people, not wealth or status. But everything she believes will be tested when Sir Philip dies, and the girls must live under their uncle’s guardianship at the vast family estate, Summerset Abbey. Standing up for a beloved family member sequestered to the “under class” in this privileged new world, and drawn into the Cunning Coterie, an exclusive social circle of aristocratic “rebels,” Rowena must decide where her true passions—and loyalties—lie.  
Victoria Buxton...Frail in body but filled with an audacious spirit, Victoria secretly dreams of attending university to become a botanist like her father. But this most unladylike wish is not her only secret. Now, Victoria has stumbled upon a family scandal that, if revealed, has the potential to change lives forever… Prudence Tate Prudence was lovingly brought up alongside Victoria and Rowena, and their bond is as strong as blood. But by birth she is a governess’s daughter, and to the lord of Summerset Abbey, that makes her a commoner who must take her true place in society—as ladies maid to her beloved “sisters.” But Pru doesn’t belong in the downstairs world of the household staff any more than she belongs upstairs with the Buxton girls.  And when a young lord catches her eye, she begins to wonder if she’ll ever truly carve out a place for herself at Summerset Abbey… 
Other books in the series: A BLOOM IN WINTER (Summerset Abbey #2) March 5, 2013 SPRING AWAKENING (Summerset Abbey #3) August 6, 2013

Amazon  |  IndieBound  |  B&N  |  BAM  |  S&S 
TJ Brown is passionate about books, writing, history, dachshunds and mojitos. If she could go back in time, she would have traveled back to England, 1910, Paris, 1927 or Haight-Ashbury, 1967. She resides in the burbs of Portlandia, where she appreciates the weirdness, the microbreweries, hoodies, Voodoo Donuts and the rain.

To learn more about TJ visit her here: TwitterFacebook  Goodreads  |  Website



Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Bunheads Recap! (Season 2, Episode 2)


When last we were in Paradise, Sasha was secretly meeting Roman at Michelle’s place.  This week, their clandestine meetings continue, with Sasha waiting for him at the dance studio at the end of the day. Why all the sneaking around? It’s not until the end of the episode we get confirmation of what we already deduced: Sasha’s parents are making home life miserable. But more on that when we reach cliffhanger time.

In the meanwhile, Truly has not been paying rent on her boutique, Sparkles, and when her landlady changes the locks, Truly shows up at Michelle’s house asking to keep a few items from her fall line there. This rapidly escalates to Truly hosting a season preview event at Michelle’s, which prompts Michelle to arrange for Truly to sit down with the landlady, Millie, and iron things out.

While it was a fun treat to see Liza Weil in Paradise, the revelation that Millie and Truly were in fact sisters was undermined by their overplayed contrasting personalities. Truly being the flaky and flighty sister, it felt cliché to have Millie come in as the uptight and tidy sibling. Things get somewhat interesting when it is divulged that Truly stole Millie’s boyfriend from her in the past and that boyfriend was Hubbel -- who we all know married Michelle. Naturally, once Michelle introduces herself as Hubbel’s widow, negotiations for a new lease on Truly’s shop disintegrate.

Back at the studio, Boo is eager to see Carl again after his summer away at camp. Carl reminds her she agreed to have dinner with his parents, an event that redefines disastrous. When Boo excuses herself to go to the ladies room, she overhears Carl’s mom refer to her as “a loaf of unbaked bread.” Carl warns his mother she needs to be nice to Boo, that he really likes her, and hey, “I could marry this girl.” Naturally, Boo takes this on face value and convinces herself Carl is going to propose. At dinner at Boo’s house, when cleaning up the dishes with Carl, Boo blurts “Okay, I’ll marry you.” This shocks Carl, as you might well imagine, but the two talk through the confusion and all ends happily. Which is a bit boring, no? Sweet, but boring. (and let’s not forget Carl carved a bow for Boo while he was at camp because he know she likes Hunger Games so much.)

What about Melanie? you ask. Melanie spent the episode catching up on her summer reading: The Great Gatsby, Farenheit 451, The Scarlet Letter

Ginnie is volunteered by her friends to talk to Frankie, half of newcomer brother-sister duo. Cosette, the sister, appears to be fluent in several languages, dances like a pro, and has an extensive wardrobe and quick change skills. Frankie, the brother, plays classical piano and violin and draws effortlessly. When asked where he and his sister are from, Frankie claims they are nomads from Bavaria.

…bringing us up to the cliffhanger ending. Sahsa’s mom shows up at the dance studio to say her dad’s leaving; he’s met someone special and he’s going to move in with him. Mom has decided to move back to LA because she misses Encino. Sasha must decide whether to move to LA with Mom or San Jose with Dad. Of course, Sasha doesn’t want to go anywhere.  But we’ll have to wait until next week to see how Sasha will resolve this dilemma.

Can’t you see this one coming a mile away? I admit to being a little disappointed in this week’s episode, and more than a little creeped out by Cosette and Frankie.

And now, without further ado, your primer on the pop culture references from last night’s episode:

• Donald O’Connor - singer/dancer best known for his appearance in Singin’ in the Rain
• Fiorella Laguardia - mayor of New York 1934-1945; also, very short
• Bob Barker - game show host from 1956 to 2007
• “Channing Tatum is a fine actor” - seriously, if I have to explain who Channing Tatum is, we can’t be friends  (but did you notice the commercial for Side Effects during the broadcast? Side Effects stars Channing Tatum and Jude Law and probably some other people but really, who’s going to be looking at them?)
• Wessonality - in reference to the fresh grease for the chicken at the Oyster Bar - Wesson Canola Oil, featured mind-altering jingle “the chicken’s got that certain…Wessonality” sung by Florence Henderson
• playing golf with Condoleeza Rice  - first black woman Secretary of State, first black woman to serve as national security advisor, one of the first two women admitted to Augusta National Golf Club
• John Wanye’s real name was Marion - true! his real name was Marion Mitchell Morrison
• pulling an Elvis and falling asleep on the throne  / pulling a full Elvis - references the tragic death of Elvis Presley
Love Story, Porky's - I can't believe anyone mentioned these two films in the same breath, and I'm perpetuating that travesty here. Uck.
Franny & Zooey - novel of brother and sister, by J.D. Salinger
• Baryshnikov in White Nights - like the dancing parts of Bunheads? love dance? Watch this movie! Mikhail Baryshnikov and Gregory Hines, with Isabella Rossellini and Helen Mirren  (1985)
Rockford Files - television series about a private detective 1974-1980, starring James Garner (you may remember him from The Notebook, portraying Noah as a senior citizen)
• Mad Ludwig's castle - King Ludwig II of Bavaria built the fairy tale castle pictured at the top of this post, Neuschwanstein

BONUS:
Were you a Gilmore Girls fan? Shout out if you can identify the GG character played by last night's tap dancer Sam!


Monday, January 14, 2013

New Year, New Me!

Each new year, I make a resolution or two--which are always long forgotten by the time February rolls around.  This year, I'm not going to call them resolutions--I'm going to call them goals.  Because this year, I'm not messing around.  It's time to make a change.

My first--and most important--goal for 2013 is to take back my health.  I have Rheumatoid Arthritis.  I was diagnosed about five years ago, and it's been a downward spiral for me, health-wise, since then.  Before the RA, I took 2-4 ballet classes a week, and I was in terrific shape.  I was back en pointe, even performing with a local company.  And then....suddenly my joints started to hurt.  I could barely get out of bed.  I sprung a low-grade fever every afternoon.  It took my doctors more than a year to diagnose me (I have no idea why they didn't check for RA on the first go-round).  By the time I started working toward getting the disease under control, I had gained 20-30 lbs.  I was totally and completely out of shape, and the very idea of putting on a leotard and standing in front of a wall of mirrors was abhorrent to me.  I half-heartedly tried to get into other forms of exercise, and I did pretty okay during the summer months, but as soon as cold temperatures set in, I was back to being a total slug.

These days, I barely recognize myself.  I used to be trim, fit, and energetic.  Now, I could easily sleep 20 hrs. a day if you let me, and something like a shopping expedition at the mall totally wears me out.  I realized a few months ago that if I didn't start doing something now, my overall health was going to become irrecoverable.  I tested out a '30 days for $30' gym membership in December.  I cut out soda completely, and started drinking water all day.  I started to watch what I eat.  And you know what?  I started feeling better.  A lot better.

So, for 2013, I have now committed to a gym membership.  Working out has become part of my regular routine, and I'm finding that I actually enjoy that "me" time.  I'm not really losing weight yet (probably because I'm adding muscle), but I have gone down a full jeans size (almost 2 sizes!) and I feel SO much better.  Even my chronic migraines are better.  This is going to be the "new me."  I am 100% committed to it.

As a side note, I know a ridiculously high number of authors who suffer from some sort of autoimmune disease (Rheumatoid and other forms of arthritis, Lupus, and even the fairly rare autoimmune hepatitis).  It's sort of a "chicken or the egg" thing--are writers simply more susceptible to these diseases because of our lifestyle--hour upon hour of sitting in front of a computer screen, plus the stress that comes with the biz--or is there some connection between the highly creative type and autoimmune diseases in general? It's an interesting question, and one I wish someone would look into.

My second goal for 2013 is to make my writing routine more....well, routine.  I work on projects in spurts.  Sometimes I go weeks--even months--without working on a manuscript.  Most of my books are written in a sprint during the last weeks before a deadline, in a haze of working 12-18 hour days/staying up all night.  It's crazy, and it adversely affects my health (see above!).   There's simply no reason for it. Writing is my full-time job, and my kids are middle schoolers, so I have the house to myself pretty much from 8:30 a.m. till 3:30, sometimes 5:45, every single day.  What do I do during those hours?  I have no idea.  I am sitting in front of the computer most of that time.  And some of what I do is legitimate, career-related work (social media, blogging, etc.).  But the rest of the time?  Wasted.

So, my goal for 2013 is to get into the habit of writing during the day--every day (at least, every weekday).  No more excuses of "but my muse seems to work better at night!"  Okay, maybe she does, but she's going to have to readjust to my schedule.  I'm going to strive to write for at least four hours every single weekday.  Night and weekend hours will be bonus hours.  No more weeks off; no more waiting for the pressure of a looming deadline to get busy on a book.   No more all-nighters; no more crazy stress as I struggle to meet a deadline.  Because the stress just makes my RA flare up--my migraines too.  See, my two goals are interrelated.

My first realistic fic YA (tentatively titled MAGNOLIA, coming summer 2014 from Simon Pulse) is due May 1st, and I will have that book done in plenty of time, without a last-minute sprint to the deadline.  I will have plenty of time to work on other projects, too.  I will be in tip-top physical shape and back to my old, energetic self in time to promote the final book in my Winterhaven series (ETERNAL, coming Sept. 2013 from Simon Pulse).  Definitely.

So, here's to 2013--and a healthier, more fit, less-stressed, more productive me!

What about you?  Any goals for 2013?!  C'mon, don't be shy...I fully believe that "publicly" declaring your goals is the first step toward achieving them!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

You just gotta read...


There is something universally true about writers: We are all readers. We love books. We love to talk about books, argue about books, trade books, recommend books, and text our friends the moment we've finished A Great Read that they MUST read immediately.

These are those books...




CODE NAME VERITY

Believe me, choosing one book as "Best-Loved" for the year was no easy task. I'm sure I'm not the only member of Honestly YA who really agonized over the choice. In the end, though, I have no choice but to go with Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein.

At its core, Verity is a story of friendship and loyalty -- two themes I gravitate towards. It takes please during World War II, giving me a glimpse of another time, showing what things have changed and what has remained the same. Best of all, it doesn't knock you over the head with history; it brings the era to life. And the two main characters - young girls, best friends, braver than they likely believed each could be - their devotion to one another will stay with me always.

~Jen McA



THE CRIMSON CROWN

I've been a fan of Cinda Williams Chima's Seven Realms series since I first read THE DEMON KING, so when I heard the final book would be released in October of 2012, I commenced the big countdown. I'm happy to say I bought this book from Cinda herself (signed!) and tore through it in two days. It was just as magical as I'd anticipated! 

~Melissa Landers 



THE STATISTICAL PROBABILITY OF LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT

Considering this was one of the first books I read in 2012 (it was a January release), it says a lot that I still remember it so vividly!  The entire story takes place in a 24-hour time period, which makes it a quick, fast-paced read--but it has surprising depth to it, as well.  It's a romantic, devour-in-one-sitting kind of novel about the
power of fate, featuring a hot British boy (accent and all)--seriously, what more could you ask for?

  ~Kristi Cook


WELCOME, CALLER, THIS IS CHLOE

Shelley Coriell's debut novel caught me by surprise. I love contemporary YA, but more often than not, these days, you'll find me reading SF, dystopian, or fantasy. But WELCOME, CALLER, THIS IS CHLOE reminded me exactly why I love reading contemporary so much. The main character, Chloe, is just so darn charming. Sure, she makes mistakes. Sure, she can be a little shallow and insensitive (which is what caused her to lose her two best friends at the beginning of the book), but she has such a big, big heart that I couldn't help but love her. 

Chloe may not be a defeat-the-bad-guys, save-the-world kind of character, but I think she will be one of my favorite heroines for a long time to come. 

~Pintip Dunn


SHADOW AND BONE by Leigh Bardugo

Not since Harry Potter has a story so quickly captured my imagination. But it wasn’t just the world building, magic and adventure—though all that was amazingly well crafted—the characters are so vibrant they practically jump off the page and into your head. Alina and Mal’s shared history makes for a delicious unrequited romance that will keep you turning the pages. In fact, I was torn between stretching it out and savoring it, and devouring it in one sitting. It was that good.

If you like epic fantasy with compelling romance and fast paced adventure, you’ll love Shadow and Bone!
   
  ~ Lorie Langdon



THIS IS NOT A TEST

I want to thank my blog sisters for helping me to narrow down my short-list by choosing some of my favorite reads of 2012. ;)

I LOVE me some zombies! Ask anyone. The Walking Dead, Pontypool, AAAH! Zombies!!, Zombieland, Dead Snow (Norwegian Nazi Zombies with subtitles), even that episode of R.L. Stine's Haunting Hour with Cheeky the pet zombie. So when I read Courtney Summer's interview How To Survive the Zombie Apocalypse, her new novel shot to the top of my TBR list.

THIS IS NOT A TEST is a beautiful, tightly wound tale of six teens who barricade themselves in the local high school to survive the zombie outbreak, but it's also about being dead even when you're alive, facing the horrors of human life, and finding the will to live again. If The Breakfast Club meets The Walking Dead with a side of deeper truth appeals to you, you have to read this book before the world comes to an end.

~ Carey Corp




FLAWLESS

Picking out a favorite book that I read in 2012 has been the hardest decision I've made yet in 2013.  :-)

I read across many genres, but my favorite is YA, and if I have to narrow it down further, it would have to be books with romance and friendship.  This book meets both of those needs.  I loved this YA retelling of Cyrano de Bergerac in a high school setting.  I loved the relationship the main character Sarah has not only with her best friend but also with her mom.  In so many YAs today, it seems that the teen has a big problem relating to the 'rents.  But not in this one.

I enjoyed the relationship between Sarah and Rock as well.  But, most of all, the best thing for me is how Sarah learns to accept herself--flaws and all.  The friendship in this one is amazing and true, and Sarah goes above and beyond for her friend, even at the risk of her own heart.  If you want to read a great book with great relationships and learning to accept yourself and others, then definitely give this one a try.  To me, it's pretty flawless.

--Kimberly MacCarron


Your turn, dear reader. What books did you love? What books did we miss? We're always looking for the next great read, so share your favorite with us!



Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Bunheads Recap! (season 2, episode 1)





Are you as excited as we are to see "Bunheads" back!? It's been a long wait but season 2 is finally here. Whether you missed it, or watched and missed a couple references because they go by so fast, we've got the recap of last night's episode to fill you in on all the goings-on!

When last we left the gang in Paradise, Michelle had maced the entire production of The Nutcracker Suite, Madame Fanny blamed her for her boyfriend’s desertion, and the parents of the dancers demanded Michelle be fired from the studio. But the dancers had found an ally in Michelle, and begged her to stay with them by climbing aboard chairs and declaring “Oh Captain, my captain.” (Dead Poet's Society, anyone?) As Michelle accurately noted, even that guy (from the movie, yanno) had to leave anyway.

And then we had to wait FOUR LONG MONTHS to see what happens next...

At last we return to Paradise, California, catching up on what Madame Fanny and her star students are up to since the infamous macing of the production of The Nutcracker.

Madame Fanny has closed the dance school and evidently turned it into my garage, where one can find a Christmas tree, a fireplace, police tape but no teapots. Truly is redesigning Fanny’s kitchen to resemble a Greenwich Village 1950s coffee house. Ginny is acting as real estate agent for the crappiest house there is, Melanie is spending days with her grandfather at the Oyster Bar, and Boo has just learned her Mom is pregnant and will be on bed rest for the duration of pregnancy, leaving Boo in charge of the house -- and thus having to cut back her hours at the Oyster Bar. (I seriously hope this doesn’t mean we won’t see Godot - who was headed out to Australia at the end of last season. That would totally suck.) Sasha is hiding out in Boo’s broom closet, avoiding returning home after spending the summer at the Joffrey Ballet. And finally, Michelle has landed in Henderson, Nevada (per Michelle, Henderson is the Rob Schneider to Daniel Day Lewis’s Vegas) as part of Jo-Jo’s magic show and crashing on her friend Talia’s couch.

Mind you, this is all set up / catch up. With all this established, the episode’s story line can finally get underway and it’s a pretty simple one. The girls miss dancing (especially since it means is that they’ll be required to attend gym class once school starts), Madame Fanny realizes she misses Michelle, and Michelle feels like she doesn’t really belong anywhere.

After viewing a recording of Hubbell and Michelle’s wedding, Fanny takes a trip to Henderson to tell Michelle she has a home in Paradise. This scene between Fanny and Michelle is the heart of the episode, brilliantly showing the bond between the women, what it is and what it can be, and how they are family forever, even if Hubbell is gone.

Fanny gives Michelle the wedding DVD before she goes and we, with Michelle, watch Hubbell explain to the cameraman how much he loves his bride and why. This classic storytelling technique of getting the audience to like a character by showing how other characters feel works perfectly here, perhaps more so because of Hubbell’s adorable comment: “Ducky got Molly”.  We can't not love Michelle after seeing how Hubbell felt about her. (I only wish we'd seen more of Michelle's response to watching the recording. Did she realize how lucky she was to have had Hubbell in her life? Does she lament what she lost in him?)

No longer able to hide out at Boo’s, Sasha resorts to crashing at the guest house, where the hottie she met at the end of last season, Roman (or Tyler, depending whether or not he is wearing guyliner), meets her. Before their lips actually touch, their kiss is interrupted by Michelle’s return. In a touching moment (c’mon, you can’t call it anything but, right?) Sasha runs to Michelle and throws her arms around her declaring “I’m so glad you’re back.” All right, I admit it. I teared up.

And then, THEN!, Michelle returns to the dance studio, which is magically cleared of the contents of my garage and a class is underway. Fanny presents for Michelle a mock of the youTube video of Boo telling the local news her dance teacher maced the cast of the Nutcracker.

So maybe not a whole lot really happened. But we reacquainted ourselves with our favorite characters from Paradise (except for Godot *sigh*) and are prepared to see where the story will take us.

And finally, here’s your primer on the pop culture references from last night’s episode:

• “Greenwich Village 1950s coffee house literary communist collective with pictures of Harold Clurman and Lenin” - Harold Clurman was a renowned theater director, married to Stella Adler; Vladimir Lenin, communist-turned-socialist ruler of Russia; Greenwich Village in the 1950s was filled with gathering places for artists, actors, poets, and other creatives. 
• “Friends” - NBC television series currently being rerun to death
• Gordon Ramsey - celebrity chef, British, known for having a bit of a temper
• Grandpa Walton - the patriarch of television family "The Waltons" (TV series, 1972-1981)
On Golden Pond - film about old people and loons (the birds, not the neighbors) starring Henry Fonda and Katherine Hepburn (1981)
• Katie Couric’s colonoscopy - journalist Katie famously televised her colonoscopy in 2001
• Andy Warhol  and fifteen minutes of fame - Andy was a modern artist, credited for saying everyone will be famous for 15 minutes (not to mention having created brilliant, breakthrough art)
• “Ducky got Molly” - crossed-wires reference to John Hughes’s Pretty in Pink. Michelle would know this should be “Ducky got Andie”; Hubbell wouldn’t.
The Art of War - ancient treatise on strategy and tactics credited to Sun Tzu
• “the enormous crazy woman with the pyramid system whose children end up with knock knees and PTSD” - reference to Abby Miller, whose dance school is featured on “Dance Moms”

BONUS:
Were you a Gilmore Girls fan? Shout out if you can identify the GG character played by last night's magician Jo-Jo!

So...what did you think of the episode? Dish!

~Jen