Friday, September 27, 2013

Celebrate Banned Books and Win SPEAK by Laurie Halse Anderson!

Every year, readers around the country celebrate banned books by telling their stories, hosting giveaways, and raising awareness about censorship. (I meant to post this earlier, but life got in the way. Better late than never!)

The first time I heard anything about this kind of censorship was in learning about World War II. Nazis and Nazi sympathizers burned books that were thought of as having values opposed to the Nazi regime. Then I watched a film adaptation of Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 as a freshman in high school. The story is about a futuristic society where books are completely banned and destroyed when found. So to me, this idea that books could be kept from the public was a tragedy of history or a horror of the imagination.

Then Harry Potter happened. I heard about parents being upset, but I still didn't realize books were actually being removed from libraries. I'm sure in the years after that, I came to understand the reality of book banning, but I'd fallen away from reading extensively and I wasn't paying attention to the world of books.

All that changed when I became a book blogger. The ugly truth of book banning reveals itself all too often. Even very recently, one of my absolute favorite books of this year, Eleanor & Park, was not only banned, but the author, Rainbow Rowell, had her invitation to speak at a public library rescinded (read more about that here).

What makes me saddest, and also thankful, is in looking at the lists provided by the American Library Association of frequently banned/challenged books. I recognize so many books I read as a middle school student/teenager on those lists, and not one of those books were a detriment to my life. Despite living in a moderately small Southern town, those books, books like The Giver, A Separate Peace, Scary Stories, Killing Mr. Griffin, and My Brother Sam is Dead, were readily available and even encouraged. I feel like I'm one of the lucky ones, and I hope, for the sake of all the kids who love reading or may need one of those stories that appears on those lists, that book banning becomes a thing of the past.

And now, if you'd like to win a paperback copy of Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson (the 60th most banned/challenged book from 2000-2009), just use the Rafflecopter widget below! All my regular rules apply (which you can find here) and the giveaway ends 11:59pm September 30th.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Come join the INFERNAL DEVICES Readalong!

Hey quirks! I'm joining up with the awesome J of J Reads YA to do an Infernal Devices Readalong! We are starting with the first book, Clockwork Angel, and whether you're new to the series or already a fan, we hope you'll join us!

We'll be starting soon, so to see all the dates and details, head to J's post HERE.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Write Stuff [28] - Doubt and Perseverance

Write Stuff  is based on the Wannabe Writers meme hosted by Sarah at Confessions of the Un-Published. This meme is what prompted me to start Writer Quirk, so I am thankful to Sarah for creating it.

I use this meme to talk about the ups and downs of writing, what I'm working on, and, in November, to chronicle my NaNoWriMo journey.

In my last Write Stuff post, I talked about how my depression had affected my writing. I knew I wasn't going to make my deadline, so I said I'd set a new one and try again. That deadline is nine days away, and I'm not any closer than I was last time. My depression wasn't as big an issue this time, but life stuff definitely got in the way and I barely wrote at all.

For the first time since deciding to get serious about being a novelist, I actually considered giving up. I had those thoughts of maybe I just can't do it and maybe writing a novel just isn't for me. I like writing, but my process is so draining and slow, and I was definitely down about it. When I did sit down to write the other day, I decided again that something was off and started over, making that Draft 5. While it did feel like I was going in a better direction, I haven't been able to return to it.

It occurred to me that perhaps I don't want it badly enough. I know there are writers who devote every spare minute to writing, despite jobs, kids, whatever. I don't, at least, not anymore. Life got tough, and tougher, and only now am I feeling like things are leveling out a bit. Still, because of my depression and life in general, I'm exhausted most days to the point vegging or sleeping is all I feel I can do. That's not including the days I feel tired but still have to make dinner and do laundry and etc. But if I truly wanted it, I would make time for it no matter how I felt, right?
Probably. I know there were times I could have written, where I didn't feel too bad or too tired, but I chose to do something else. Usually I chose something else because writing is hard and I was either scared of trying or lazy. But despite not expecting life to get any easier in the near future, I don't want to give up. I don't know what it would be like to say I'm no longer trying to write a novel, but I don't want to know. Not yet anyway.

So I'm going to keep working. It may take forever (I don't feel like setting another deadline would do any good), but I'm at least going to finish this one novel. If I never write another one, fine, but at least I can say I saw it all the way through.

Have you ever felt like giving up? How did you find your motivation to continue?

Let me know in the comments! ^_^

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

A SPARK UNSEEN Blog Hop Day 7!


An Interview with Sharon Cameron

Hello quirks! If you haven't heard of The Dark Unwinding series, then let this be your wake up call! Sharon Cameron is a masterful writer and her mystery-filled novels about teenage Katharine Tulman, set in Europe in the 1800s, are some of the best I've ever read. The series begins with The Dark Unwinding (my review here) and continues in the upcoming A Spark Unseen.

Sharon, who is super sweet and all-around wonderful, answered some questions about A Spark Unseen for my stop on the the blog hop!

WQ: Hey Sharon! I've had the opportunity to hear you speak about your novels in person, and you've talked about how much research went into THE DARK UNWINDING. How did your research for A SPARK UNSEEN compare?
SC: Hi back, Shalena! My research for this book was VERY different. The setting of THE DARK UNWINDING, though inspired by a real place, is truly fictional. I pulled heavily from Welbeck Abbey, but had the freedom to make that world anything I wanted it to be, as long as it was plausible and real for the time period.

For A SPARK UNSEEN, because it is set in Paris at a very particular time in that city’s history, I focused less on imagination and more on what really was there. Rue Trudon (Katharine’s Parisian address, now demolished) was a real street where Englishmen (and Americans) kept houses of the type described in the novel. Napoleon III’s ball –including the interior description of the Tuileries and the ballet dancers dressed like bees– is based on recollections from members of the Imperial Court. I used an actual floor plan of the Charenton asylum, pictures and firsthand descriptions of The Morgue, railway maps and omnibus routes, historic timelines of assassination attempts on the Emperor and the journal entries from members of the political groups that opposed him. A much more exacting process!

WQ: Uncle Tully is a fictionalized version of an actual fascinating person from history. Were any characters in this novel based on real people?
SC: Yes! Obviously Napoleon III and his empress, Eugenie, were very real, as was Charles de Morny, Napoleon’s illegitimate half brother. But perhaps one less obvious real person is Mr. DuPont. The inspiration for Mr. DuPont came from an entry in an Englishman’s journal, chronicling a conversation with a slightly deranged Frenchman on the streets of Paris. When asked if the weather was fine, the Frenchman shook his head sadly and replied, “Napoleon is dead.” When asked to describe his trade the man said, “Napoleon is dead.” When requested to explain why he was wearing no shirt beneath his jacket, the reply was, “Napoleon is dead.” All things, good or bad, were the fault of the first Napoleon according to this guy. I couldn’t resist including him the novel.

WQ: While Katharine has her own goals in this novel, none of what is happening would have come about without a certain fish toy of Uncle Tully's. What gave you the idea for the fish and could/did something like that actually exist?
SC: Absolutely it could, and did. “Whitehead’s Torpedo,” also known as a “torpedo fish” worked with a compressed gas and clockwork propulsion system, and was first conceived around 1866, perfected around 1874. One section of the blueprint is marked “secret chamber,” and it is the contents of that chamber that confounded engineers for years. Uncle Tully, of course, had that “secret” all figured out thirty years earlier. If either Britain or France had been privy to that knowledge during the 1850s, the balance of world power would have shifted dramatically!

WQ: In THE DARK UNWINDING, Katharine is far away from the social scene and gossip of the time period. When she travels to Paris in A SPARK UNSEEN, she is thrust into society in an effort to assuage suspicion about herself and keep Uncle Tully safe. What was the best or most difficult part of working this facet of Victorian life into the story?
SC: Oh, for me, this is absolutely the fun part! I have no idea why women being snarky while drinking tea gives me so much pleasure to write, but so far every novel I’ve written contains such a scene. I suppose it’s because I like sharp wit, and people who have no patience for the pretensions of little gossipy social gatherings. It’s probably why I like Jane Austen so much. She loved to have one character needling the other beneath the cover of strict politeness.

WQ: As much as I love the characters from The Dark Unwinding series, all good things must come to an end. Do you have any plans for more stories set in Katharine and Uncle Tully's world, or do you have something completely new in the works?
SC: I have all sorts of stories for Katharine and Lane and Uncle Tully swirling around in my head, but my next novel is going to be something brand new, and I’m terribly excited about it. It’s high adventure, with a cunning, sword-swinging heroine, set in a world like nothing I’ve ever written or read before. Look for an announcement coming soon!

A huge thank you to Sharon for sharing so much with us! The quote from A SPARK UNSEEN that Sharon chose for this stop is so fitting, so here's a tidbit from Uncle Tully!

And it's true! The stories from Sharon Cameron's head are splendid!

Along with getting some awesome extra content from A Spark Unseen, you can win prizes through the blog hop. Visit HERE for more details!

Below you can read a little more about A Spark Unseen and links where you can find Sharon Cameron on the web.

The thrilling sequel to Sharon Cameron’s blockbuster gothic steampunk romance, THE DARK UNWINDING, will captivate readers anew with mystery and intrigue aplenty.

When Katharine Tulman wakes in the middle of the night and accidentally foils a kidnapping attempt on her uncle, she realizes Stranwyne Keep is no longer safe for Uncle Tully and his genius inventions. She flees to Paris, where she hopes to remain undetected and also find the mysterious and handsome Lane, who is suspected to be dead.

But the search for Lane is not easy, and Katharine soon finds herself embroiled in a labyrinth of political intrigue. And with unexpected enemies and allies at every turn, Katharine will have to figure out whom she can trust–if anyone–to protect her uncle from danger once and for all.

Filled with deadly twists, whispering romance, and heart-stopping suspense, this sequel to THE DARK UNWINDING whisks readers off on another thrilling adventure.

Find Sharon Cameron at the following:

Thanks for visiting and enjoy the rest of the blog hop!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Tell Me What You Really Think [4] - Book Buying: How do you choose?

Sometimes when I go into a bookstore, I'm looking for a particular book. When I decided I had to read John Green's The Fault in Our Stars, I went to the store, bought it, and didn't look twice at anything else. The same goes for going to an author event or book release that I'm really excited for. I save up for the books I want signed and buy them new at the event.

But most of the time, I buy books by browsing. I walk up and down my favorite aisles (young adult, classics, and bargain books) looking for something that stands out to me. Like 90% of people in the world, I do not have the money to support my book-buying habit to the extent that I wish I could, so I find most of my books on the clearance shelves or in used bookstores. But two $4 books would equal one new YA paperback, so when I want so many books, how do I choose?

I started thinking about this on a recent visit to Nashville. Like most times when I'm in Music City, I gave in to my bookish habit by visiting the large used bookstore there (McKay's). Because I can't spend whatever I want, I always go in with the same plan: Put all the books I would like to buy in the cart and then whittle the stack down to a reasonable amount that I can afford.

But this time, on the drive home, I started contemplating my whittling method. Why did I choose to buy certain books and not others? I put them in my cart because I wanted them, so how and why did some books get bought and the others put back?

The following list if from that recent trip and are all the YA novels I originally placed in my cart. Prices are estimated due to my potentially faulty memory. The format initials are PB for paperback and HC for hardcover, and the titles link to Goodreads.


Quicksilver/R.J. Anderson/HC/$8.00

Rebel Angels/Libba Bray/PB/$2.50

This is Not a Test/Courtney Summers/PB/$5.00

Golden/Jessi Kirby/HC/$6.00

The Originals/Cat Patrick/HC/$10

When Lightening Strikes/Meg Cabot/PB/$1.50

Code Name Cassandra/Meg Cabot/PB/$1.50

Big Fat Manifesto/Susan Vaught/HC/$5.00

Counting Backwards/Laura Lascarso/HC/$5.00

Secrets of My Hollywood Life/Jen Calonita/PB/$0.10

On Location/Jen Calonita/PB/$0.10

This list is the result of scouring the YA shelves and deciding what I should consider to buy. There were several other books that I would have liked to put in my cart, but decided, in much the same way I decided what books to buy, that they should be excluded from the beginning.

So how and why did I pick my purchases?

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (HP #2) - PB/$2.50
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (HP #3) - PB/$4.50
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (HP #6) - PB/$5.00
Purchased? No.
I own books 1, 5, and 7 in the Harry Potter series. I have read them all and love them all, but on this particular day my budget was fairly tight, so I decided that these books, due to popularity and supply, would be readily available in the future.

Quicksilver (Ultraviolet #2) - HC/$8.00
Purchased? No.
I adored Ultraviolet, so when I saw the shiny sequel, I wanted it badly. However, I haven't read it, and considering the condition it was in (good but not as good as I like), the price wasn't worth it that day.

Rebel Angels (Gemma Doyle #2) - PB/$2.50
Purchased? Yes.
I love the Gemma Doyle series and this book was in really good condition. I am also going to be seeing Libba Bray in November, so I needed/wanted this book to be able to get it signed. So for that price, I couldn't pass it up.

The Revenge of the Girl with the Great Personality - HC/$6.00
Purchased? No.
I own two other books by Eulberg, but I haven't read any of them yet. This book was hyped a lot before it came out, but after reading a little bit at the store, I decided that while I still wanted to read the book, I could wait for a better budget or lower price.

 This is Not a Test - PB/$5.00
Purchased? No.
I finished this book last month and enjoyed it, and the condition of this copy was good.. However, it wasn't a book I fell in love with, meaning I didn't feel the overwhelming need to own it.

Golden - HC/$6.00
Purchased? No.
This was another hyped book I really want to read, but like the Eulberg book, I decided I could wait.

The Originals - HC/$10
Purchased? No.
I knew when I put this book in my cart, despite loving the author, that I probably wouldn't buy it. Had I had more money to spend or were interested in fewer books this trip, I might have still gotten it, but it just didn't work out this time.

When Lightening Strikes (1-800-Where-R-You #1) - PB/$1.50
Code Name Cassandra (1-800-Where-R-You #2) - PB/$1.50
Purchased? No.
I picked these books up because they are by Meg Cabot. The price and condition were good, but not knowing much about the books and having so many others to decide on, I passed.

The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle - HC/$2.00
Purchased? Yes.
I loved, loved this book when I was in middle school. There were cheaper paperback copies available at the store, but this particular hardcover didn't have a dust jacket because the cover was printed right on the cardboard. It was in decent condition and the price was good, especially for this particular format.

Big Fat Manifesto - HC/$5.00
Purchased? Yes.
I've seen several good things about this book, and when I read a little bit of it, the narrative hooked me right away. That plus the good condition and price made it a keeper.

Counting Backwards - HC/$5.00
Purchased? Yes
I read this book through an ARC tour and loved it and I'd been wanting a copy for ages. I found this pristine edition for five bucks and could not pass it up.

Secrets of My Hollywood Life (Secrets of My Hollywood Life #1) - PB/$0.10
 On Location (Secrets of My Hollywood Life #2) - PB/$0.10
Purchased? Yes.
I loved Jen Calonita's Belles series and I'd been looking for this series for a while and never could find the first book. I came across these two for a crazy-low price and in decent condition, so I knew I'd be getting them no matter what.

Based on this rundown, I've come to realize I follow some personal guidelines when buying books. First, condition is important to me. I'm picky and prefer good or better, and the price needs to reflect the condition if the condition is less than ideal. Second, books that have some emotional/intellectual value to me are more likely to be purchased over books I've not read. And last, my budget and the amount of books I'm interested in can play a big role in which books I buy.

How and why do you buy the books you buy?
Do you have a plan when walking into a bookstore or are you more of a browser?
Do you have personal guidelines you follow?

Let me know in the comments and thanks for reading!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Reading Challenge Update [August 2013]

Hey quirks! I've decided to split up my reading updates due to how many challenges I am participating in this year. In 2012, I was only keeping up with my Goodreads Reading Challenge and I liked how I did that one and all the stats I kept up with, but I'm going to call them something different. The new title for those updates will be "2013 Goodreads Rundown" and they will appear bimonthly.

This series of posts I'm calling Reading Challenges Update is for all the other challenges I am trying to complete. These updates will be less detailed as far as stats go because I will just be listing the individual challenges and which books fit under them that I read during the previous month.

August: 0 --- Total: 34/24

August: 2 --- Total: 46/25+
This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers
Of Poseidon by Anna Banks (Of Poseidon #1)

July: 0 --- Total: 6

August: 1 --- Total: 8/12
This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers  [Keyword: Test]

August: 1 --- Total: 30/36
The Dark Unwinding by Sharon Cameron (The Dark Unwinding #1)

August: 1 --- Total: 8/12
Of Poseidon by Anna Banks (Of Poseidon #1)  [Creature: Mermaid]

Wednesday, September 4, 2013


The winner of the ARC of All Our Yesterdays is...


Remember, you can catch Cristin Terrill on September 17th 
when she will be part of a Twitterchat!
You can find more information and submit questions HERE.

And don't forget there are more stops on the All Our Yesterdays Blog Tour!
(You can find the full list here.)

Thank you to everyone who participated in the giveaway!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Ink Anticipation [15] - September 2013

This old feature has a new use! Ink Anticipation is now for sharing what books I am looking forward to that will be released during the following month. Clicking on a book cover will either take you to the book's Goodreads page or to my review. Don't forget to share your most anticipated releases in the comments!

September 3rd

September 5th

September 10th

September 17th

September 24th

September 26th

Sunday, September 1, 2013

2013 Goodreads Rundown [July - August]

A new year, a new and improved update post! To be honest, not much has changed for these posts except the name, but if you aren't familiar with my Goodreads Reading Challenge updates, this is where I give more detailed stats on what I've read so far this year.
My goal number this year is 90. I read over 100 last year with a goal of only 75 so I figured I would increase it a bit this go-round. My reading pace has slowed down compared to previous months. This is due to a lot of recent personal issues and problems which make it difficult to read or even listen to books right now, but I'm going to persevere as I am getting ever close to my goal.

Reading the stats: In my #/# calculations, the first # pertains only to the current months; the second # is the total thus far for the year.

Main Breakdown 
Books read to date: 77
Books read in July: 6
Books read in August: 5
Average books read per month: 5.5/9.6
Books reviewed: 6/31
Type Breakdown
YA books: 8/66
Non-YA books: 3/11
Print books: 7/31
Audiobooks: 4/46

 Genre Breakdown
Paranormal: 3/29
Contemporary: 1/10
Fantasy: 2/3
Science Fiction: 1/14
High Concept: 1/2
Historical: 1/5
Dystopian/Apocalyptic: 1/5
Mystery/Thriller: 1/3
Classic: 0/6
Reference/Craft: 0/0

 Title and Review Breakdown
The Neil Gaiman Audio Collection by Neil Gaiman
The Sunday Philosophy Club by Andrew McCall Smith
The Survivors by Amanda Havard (WQ Review)
Double Crossed: A Spies and Thieves Story by Ally Carter
 Every Girl's Dream by Meg Cabot
Rory by Ciye Cho (WQ Review)
Good in Bed by Jennifer Weiner
The Dark Unwinding by Sharon Cameron (WQ Review)
All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill (WQ Review)
This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers (WQ Review pending)
Of Poseidon by Anna Banks (WQ Review)

How are you doing on your reading challenge?
Link a post or review if you wish! ^_^