Monday, June 29, 2009

When Tastes Change...

I think one of the great mysteries of life involve our taste buds and why some taste like heaven to some of us...and made others gag.

Culture and exposure effects some of our reactions, but it’s common to see kids with the exact same upbringing have distinctly different preferences, too.

But even more interesting to me is when a person’s own taste changes. And I don’t just mean during pregnancy, when lots of us develop picky habits, or following bout of food poisoning or onset of the flu.

I mean for no apparent reason...

Like I hated zucchini as a kid. But during the course of my marriage, have learned to enjoy it so much that I make it as rice dish, soup, stuffed, broiled, boiled, name it.

And then there’s mangoes. While I never disliked them, I could take the or leave them. Until recently, when I have fallen in love.

And rice pudding! The mere idea made me gag in my younger years. Now it’s a favorite desert!

Oh, and the chip thing. I never much liked Fritos. Bor-ing. All of a sudden, I am not only eating them by the handfuls, but started making French onion dip and buying the dipping size called Scoops.

I mean, sometimes I wonder...who am I and what happened to Tina???

So I thought I’d throw this out to our there a food or flavor that has made a change in your life, for better or worse? And if so, any reason why?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Joining the 21st Century

Okay, look what my family is getting me for my birthday:

Yes, contrary to my claims that CD players are just fine for me, I've been talked into joining the 21st Century. And I'm going to admit, I'm getting excited about it. This past weekend I opened an iTunes account and was astonished by all the music I could download...even stuff that's old and UNhip. (You know, like me.)

So I'm turning to our readers today to ask for download suggestions--songs, comedy routines, whatever. Let's get me up to speed, huh?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Suite Scarlett Winners!

So many awesome favorite actors!! Thanks YA Freshers! This was a fun giveaway! 

And the 5 winners of Maureen Johnson's Suite Scarlett paperback editions are...

Sunkissed (Chase Crawford)
Hillary (Taylor Lautner or Chase Crawford)
Sassy CC (James Masters)
Melanie (Sandra Bullock)
Emily (Gary Sinise)

Winners, please email me your mailing addresses and I will forward the info on so you can get your cool new book!

Happy reading!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Spontaneous Suite Scarlett Giveaway!

It's a Spontaneous Suite Scarlett Giveaway for YA Freshers! I just love these!

Here's a little about Suite Scarlett
by Maureen Johnson:

Her new summer job comes with baggage.

Scarlett Martin has grown up in a most unusual way. Her family owns the Hopewell, a small hotel in the heart of New York City, and Scarlett lives there with her four siblings - Spencer, Lola, and Marlene.

When each of the Martins turns fifteen, they are expected to take over the care of a suite in the once elegant, now shabby Art Deco hotel. For Scarlett's fifteenth birthday, she gets both a room called the Empire Suite, and a permanent guest called Mrs. Amberson.

Scarlett doesn't quite know what to make of this C-list starlet, world traveler, and aspiring autobiographer who wants to take over her life. And when she meets Eric, an astonishingly gorgeous actor who has just moved to the city, her summer takes a second unexpected turn.

Before the summer is over, Scarlett will have to survive a whirlwind of thievery, Broadway glamour, romantic missteps, and theatrical deceptions. But in the city where anything can happen, she just might be able to pull it off.
So how many copies can I give away, you might ask? Hmmm... *tapping chin* 5 copies! Yes, that's 5 paperback copies of Suite Scarlett. Since we have a gorgeous actor in the book, please name your favorite actor in the comments below and maybe...just could be a winner!

Winners to be announced Wednesday! Good luck!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Another Look at Mean Girls!

Last weekend, I watched the movie, Mean Girls, for the second time. The first was in the theater, as the chaperone to a car full of middle school girls. I thought it was cute, but I was more interested in the girls’ opinions about mean girl realism in their world than I was my own take. I wasn’t even seriously writing YA.

But this time was different. For Kirkus Reviews made a reference to it in their review of The ABC’s of Kissing Boys. Here’s the last line:

“...This is familiar territory for anyone who's seen Mean Girls, but Ferraro's protagonist is resilient enough to withstand and prevail over her tormentors.”

I wanted to see the movie again, to refresh myself with the story, and to see if I agreed that the goings-on in my DeGroot High School had similarities to their North Shore High School.

Also, since becoming a fan of the Thursday night program, The Office, I’ve been staying around for 30 Rock, as well, and admiring Mean Girl screenwriter Tina Fey’s comedic and writing talent. (And on a totally superficial note, her name and mine are so close--just ask Google!) So I planned to watch it with an eye toward her, too.

And I must say, Tina Fey and the screenplay did not disappoint! She made me smile, and much of the writing made me laugh. And even gave me a couple, “Man, I wish I had thought of that line!” moments. (“It’s like I have a fifth sense, like ESPN,” and “Made out with a hot dog? OMG, that was one time!”)

And I tapped into the same sense of powerlessness under Mean Girl leader Regina George that I'd felt when writing Chrissandra Hickey, that fear of saying the wrong thing, wearing the wrong things, doing the wrong thing, that would result in my banishment.

And so bottom line?

Do I see the connection between the mean girls in Mean Girls and in The ABC’s of Kissing Boys? Yep! Chrissandra and her minions could stand tough against Regina George and her girls. (Although Mean Girl Karen--the airhead--is likely to get the biggest laughs!)

Am I flattered that Kirkus Reviews made this connection? Absolutely. In fact, I think they are totally...FETCH!

So tell us, are you a fan of the Mean Girls movie? Have a favorite scene or line you want to share?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Excitement for Summer Reads!

School is out...and it's all about summer--vacation, sports, having fun, and yes, summer reading!

I can't believe all the great books that are coming out this summer, especially in June. I was worried that I wouldn't be able to read them all, but I've been reading like a mad YA Fresher! Here are just a few of the titles that have me all a-flutter this month.

Carpe Corpus by Rachel Caine| The Demon's Lexicon by Sarah Rees BrennanDon't Judge a Girl by Her Cover by Ally Carter | Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen

I've tackled Carpe Corpus (loved it!) and now I'm moving down the list. Yeeeepee! Good reading for the rest of the month!

How about you? Which new releases are you looking forward this summer?

Sunday, June 14, 2009

We Have A Winner!

Congratulations to:


whose comment was chosen by my handy-dandy random number generator!

And in re-reading her comment, which included:

Even though I have a copy of your book; I would love an autographed copy

it occured to me that maybe she could donate her UNSIGNED copy to a library? Which would be so fitting since this giveaway is to celebrate Young Adult library books!

In any case, FREEWRITER, please e-mail me at so I can get that signed copy in the mail!

Friday, June 12, 2009

YALSA Giveaway!

I got some great news recently, the fact that The ABC’s of Kissing Boys is a nominee by the American Library Association (ALA) for the 2009 Best Book for Young Adults!

According to the site, the Best Books for Young Adults committee "selects and annotates a list of significant adult and young adult books, as well as chooses a list of top ten titles from the full list. It is a general list of fiction and nonfiction titles selected for their proven or potential appeal to the personal reading tastes of the young adult.”

I am ever so grateful for this recognition!

And must share that they gave the book a cute and clever summary/review:

“Learning to kiss from her father's archenemy's son (a freshman) can lead to consequences Parker never imagined. A funny, poignant, and sweet Romeo and Juliet.”

But don’t take my word for it. Run over there to the ALA Best Book YA Nominated Titles yourself.

And then, to enter this weekend's contest, come back here and leave us a comment. Tell us about one of the other books--that either you have read (and enjoyed) or want to read. On Sunday evening, June 14, at 7:00 PM PST, this contest will close and a winner promptly named.

The prize? Well, what else but a signed copy of The ABC’s of Kissing Boys?

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Brutal is not just a word...

I confess I hadn't read a novel by Michael Harmon author of Skate and The Last Exit Normal before. But when I opened up his novel Brutal, I was captivated by his character Poe Holly's voice. There was no doubt that Poe had attitude and wasn't happy staying with a father she couldn't even remember in a speck of town called Bender's Hallow because her goody mom doctor was off in South America doing good deeds.

First off, I love Poe's name. Second, as I read Poe debate and debate on topics she believed in, I couldn't help admiring her intelligence.

Quickly, she becomes friends' with the town's outcasts, her neighbor Velveeta, who is teased endlessly and the mayor's sarcastic son, Theo. Everything is too boring in this town compared to Los Angeles, until she realizes the golden child and football star of the town Colby makes it his hobby to ridicule and tease Velveeta just because he's not like him. Just because he's different.

And when Poe witnesses two brutal attacks against Velveeta, no one is willing to step forward and point the finger at this golden boy so Poe makes it her plan to stand up this brutal bully once and for all before someone gets more than just hurt.

This is a story of teens taking a stand because its right and even when the adults won't listen, some times you have to make them listen.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

It’s in the Cards!

Some of my favorite childhood memories were spent with a deck of playing cards. Friends and family sitting in circles or around a table, good naturedly trying to win at games of Go Fish, I Doubt It, Gin and Crazy Eight’s.

As I grew, the games got longer and more complicated. And it was thanks to a game called Hearts that my social life took off at my local community college. For this game was “the rage” my freshman year, and one whole section of the Student Center seemed to be dedicated to it. In between classes, I used to grab coffee go watch the action. Then one day, I got asked to play. I was scared, but flattered. And while I was never a great player, I sure enjoyed learning and trying to win, and the people I met.

Technology has made today’s childhoods quite different from mine, but one thing that has stayed the same is the fun and camaraderie from a deck of cards. Today’s kids play War, Speed, Hearts, Spoons, Slap Jack, Uno...

How about you? Do you enjoy sitting down with friends and family and a deck of cards? What are some favorite games or memories?

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Randomly Fresh Winner!

The winner of the Randomly Fresh giveaway is


Who would like to receive a copy of GEEK HIGH by Piper Banks.

Tetewa, please send me your contact information at, and we'll get the book on its way to you!

Thanks, all, for entering, and look for more Randomly Fresh giveaways soon!

Thursday, June 04, 2009

It's Random, It's Fresh!

Hello YA Freshers!! It's that time again for a...


It's Random.
It's Fresh.
It's a Giveaway.
For visitors who comment on YA Fresh.
With a choice from 3 books.
Did I mention it's random?

Here's who can enter...anyone who has commented from May 4th till June 2nd! (And sorry, comments on giveaways don't count! They have to be good ol' friendly chatty comments. I know, I'm so picky!)

So what can you win? The winner has a choice from these three titles:

How to Ruin a Summer Vacation by Simone Elkeles
Geek High by Piper Banks
So Not The Drama by Paula Chase

List your choice in the comments and I'll pick a winner Friday night!

Thanks! :) :)

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Silly Rabbit!

I’m going to ‘fess up here: until recently, I was a silly rabbit. Not only did I think Trix was for kids, I basically thought ALL cereals were.

Intellectually, I KNEW better.

I knew lots of cereals were healthy, low-fat and recommended grains as part of a balanced diet.

I knew some of my good friends occasionally substituted Raisin Bran and Wheaties for dinner.

I knew college girls who ate cereal to avoid dorm food, and college guys who scarfed it up to supplement what they felt was not ENOUGH dorm food.

Still, it wasn’t until a friend told me her morning breakfast recipe that something broke through my brain. Not so much for the weight control or health aspect, but because IT SOUNDED GOOD. She said every morning on top of cereal she added a spoonful of yogurt, diced apples, a sprinkling of nuts and milk.

And as luck would have it, I had all those items in my house. So next morning, I threw stubborn caution to the wind and tried it. And...yep...yum!

Now I’m a cereal convert, trying all kinds of brands and add-ins. (Like the morning version of Coldstones Ice Cream, huh?) So I am turning to our YA Fresh readers today for your thoughts.

Specifically, are you a cereal eater? Do you have one or more you really, really like? Have anything you add in to make it just that much better???

Monday, June 01, 2009

The September Sisters Winners & Thanks!

Many thanks to all of you who entered The September Sisters Giveaway!! It's a great read and I'm thrilled we get to share the story with 3 lucky winners. So the random winners are...

Di + Amber (Just Your Typical Book Blog) + Kristin (soundistheword3)

Congrats Winners!!

Please email me your mailing addresses and I will get the book to you!

Also, just a side note that the Brenda Novak Diabetes Auction is officially over and the auction hit a new record this year at $270,611!! Wow! Thanks to those who participated in the auction and those of you who bid on our YA Fresh critique!!