Thursday, June 4, 2009

Two Announcements

Announcement #1 is that I've become one of three contributors (well, four, if you count the site founder, Gabe) on Reading Local: Portland. I'm excited for the opportunity to increase my focus on local authors and events. Whether or not you're local to me, I hope you'll stop by and read my report on Luis Alberto Urrea's reading at Powell's last night. Here are some secrets I didn't share:
  • Recommended reading: As soon as I started this book, I thought of 3-4 friends to recommend it to, including my husband. Once I told him the premise, he started reading it as soon as I put my bookmark in it and set it down.
  • Swag: When Urrea offered to mail out book-related goodies to people following him on Twitter, I passed. Is it kosher for a reviewer--albeit a lowly amateur one--to accept gifts from an author before reading his book? What if I didn't like the book and gave it a scathing review--what if he TP'd my house while in Portland?
  • Swag, part 2: The first thing Urrea did when he arrived at Powell's was to walk up to Bethany and I (she's easy to recognize in her gorgeous dreadlocks) and bestow us with swag. I didn't get a playlist CD, though. And I really want one. He has kindly offered to send me one once he's home. Will the fact that Urrea is the nicest author ever affect my review? Stay tuned and judge for yourself. 150 pages to go.
  • Most Dedicated Author Family Award: Sadly, Urrea's mother-in-law died this week, in Seattle. He and his wife had to cut short his east coast book tour, fly home to get their kids, and fly to the west coast to attend the funeral this weekend. The whole family was at Powell's (his cutie-patootie daughter passed out fans to the audience), and then drove the three hours to Seattle after the reading and signing ended. I think they left Portland at 10:00 p.m.

    Another thing I'm really excited about participating in this month is the Nerds Heart YA tournament of underdog young adult books from 2008. The judging panel worked together to choose 16 titles that have been well-received but haven't gotten the press, or buzz, that others have. After my great experience participating in the Mock Printz Award workshop, I'm looking forward to delving into YA lit again. Between now and June 21, Lenore and I will be choosing the winner between these two books.

    Any predictions about which will come out on top?

    The rest of the Nerds Heart YA bracket is available for your viewing pleasure. I have strong opinions about three of the early brackets, even though I've only read one of the two books in each:
  • My Most Excellent Year
  • Last Exit to Normal
  • Cracked Up to Be
I probably won't have time to read the books they're up against, though, so I think I'll keep my opinions to myself! But you don't have to. Feel free to make bets about who the winner will be and heckle the judges: Valentina in Valentina's Room, Jodie who is Book Gazing, Natasha of Maw Books Blog, Mary Ann at Libr*fiti, Trish of Hey Lady! Whatcha Readin', Vasilly at 1330v, Kelly at YAnnabe, Becky of Becky's Book Reviews, Kailana at The Written World, Heather at A High and Hidden Place, Amy as in My Friend Amy, Laza of Gimme More Books!, Stephanie at Confessions of a Book-a-Holic, Nicole on Linus's Blanket, Renay who is YA Fabulous, Susan who is Too Fond Of Books And It's Turned Her Brain, Chris of Stuff As Dreams Are Made On and Nymeth, to whom Things Mean A Lot. You can heckle Lenore and I, too. We can take it.


  1. Shhh don't encourage heckling!:) I'm halfway through my reading now and I was gonna leave a week in between reading the two books but your post convinces me I must read it now.

  2. I may be in the minority, here, Jodie! But I figured the heckling would be half the fun. :-)

  3. I'm excited to have you as part of the family!

    If your first contribution is any indicator, Reading Local's readers are in for a great treat!

    Thank you again!

  4. Thanks, Gabe, that's very sweet of you to say. Keep up the compliments and we'll make a great team. :-)

  5. Ali,

    Great article. Congratulations on your latest endeavor.

  6. Regarding swag: I've done enough reviews to know that it's a standard practice among many publishers. I seriously doubt anyone will hold it against you if your review is less than glowing.

  7. Thanks, Susan!

    Rich, I've heard horror stories about authors getting a little psycho over a negative review, but my real concern is that my readers take me at my word about a book and not wonder whether I'm just saying that because the author gave me a refrigerator magnet and a fan. Y'know?

  8. I met Luis and Cindy at BEA and fell in love with them both. I was so sad to hear about her mother.

  9. BermudaOnion, I know--not that there's ever a good time for a mother to die, but it's got to be so hard on them trying to juggle everything and grieve, too.

  10. I read Stop Me If... last month and absolutely loved it. I hope it advances far in the braket (Dave Yoo is a genius).

  11. I'm bummed that I didn't get to go to Powell's and see him. It sounds like you guys had way more fun than I did. (Although I was having a root canal, so it would have been pretty hard for you not to have had more fun than I did.)

  12. Thanks, Care and Marie!

    Heather, that was the gentlest heckle ever, but it's a good starting point. Now if someone else will vouch for Alive and Well in Prague NY, we'll have the seeds of some true judge heckling going on--then I'll be truly content!

    Alyce, I was bummed you couldn't come, too--I really wanted to meet you! Are you coming to the blogger retreat here this summer?

  13. Hey, Ali! I have an award waiting for you here:

    Why? Because you rock! :)

  14. Exciting news! Congratulations!!

    Without having read any of the books on the tournament yet, I have a bit of a fondness for Stop Me If...because that's the name of a Smiths song :P Same for I Know It's Over, actually. But seriously, I can't wait to see what Chris and I will be reading.

  15. my real concern is that my readers take me at my word about a book and not wonder whether I'm just saying that because the author gave me a refrigerator magnet and a fan. Y'know?

    In that case I'd be reeeeeeal careful about revealing such information publicly in the future. Just sayin'.

  16. Ah, but Rich--if I accept the swag and I'm not up front about it, doesn't that make me less trustworthy? Hopefully people know it takes more than a refrigerator magnet to buy my opinion. A flight to Iceland, maybe.

    Nymeth, I think you're onto something. We could do all the judging arbitrarily by song titles to save time! I could compare The Smith's "Stop Me If You've Heard This Before," with Rise Against's "Alive and Well." Ha!

    Rebecca, Thank you very much, it means a lot to me that you thought of me. :-)

  17. Well, I haven't followed this blog for long, but based on the number of followers you have and comments you usually get, I'm willing to bet people do know your opinion can't be bought. I wouldn't worry about it until and unless someone does make an issue of it.

  18. I am so pleased to be keeping company with you -- as a Reading Local contributorm at least. I am lookin forward to following your blog more closely.

    And I never worry about giving a negative review if I don't like a book -- free book, swag, whatever. I give the review I think the book deservesm no matter what. For instance, I didn't like this one -- although most people did -- and didn't hold back.

  19. Thanks, Rich!

    Rose City Reader, I'm looking forward to working with you, too. Very nice review of In Hovering Flight! I much prefer it when reviewers write about what they didn't like as well as what they liked about a book. And sometimes what they didn't like turns out to be the key point that convinces me to read it!

  20. So have you started reading yet? I am going to read Alive and Well first I think. Starting now!

  21. I finished Stop Me If You've Heard This Before last week. Still waiting for Alive and Well to make it's way to my doorstep. Soon, I hope!