Friday, December 31, 2010


2010 was kind of a big deal.

I got my first passport and spent two weeks in Romania.

My baby girl started first grade (boo hoo) and my baby boy started preschool (wah hoo).

After eight-and-a-half years of (blissful) marriage, we were finally able to buy our own place, complete with washer and dryer hookups.  This is the first place we’ve lived where we can have a washer and dryer, which, let me tell you, two kids (one of whom is a notorious puker) later is sort of a miracle.

Oh yeah, and there was that whole time my book came out which felt like enough of an event in and of itself, but then my publisher went ahead and gave it the most gorgeous cover ever, and then authors I respect and admire offered amazing blurbs, and then it got picked as an Indie Next book, and then it got a starred Publishers Weekly review, and then it sold in a bunch of foreign countries that I now absolutely have to visit, and then people actually bought it and it hit the New York Times bestseller list, all of which pales in comparison to the fact that people—like you, (especially if you are not an adult [although I like you even if you are])—read something that I created, and I got to (and get to) hear what it meant to you, and that, my friends, is beyond amazing.

Oh, also, I wrote the sequel, which nearly killed me.  HA HA HA.  AND NOW I GET TO WRITE THE THIRD BOOK.


I also read a lot of books in 2010.  Here are some that I particularly enjoyed.

Middle Grade
The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: The Mysterious Howling by Maryrose Wood
The book is as awesome as the title is long.  Which is to say, very, very, very.  As clever and entertaining as Lemony Snicket without the mean spirited undertones.  Keep an eye out for the sequel, coming out in 2011, which is just as awesome PLUS has a cute playwright named Simon!  Any book can be improved by the addition of a cute playwright named Simon.  (Also, why on earth is it spelled playwright and not playwrite?)

Brixton Brothers: The Case of the Case of Mistaken Identity by Mac Barnett
I am sensing a pattern here with awesome middle grade novels and very long titles.  A hilarious and loving parody of The Hardy Boys, make sure to have someone in the room while you read this book because you will find line after line that you simply HAVE to read out loud.  The next book in the series, The Ghostwriter Secret, is out already—it will be my post-Third Para treat.  Ideal for boys and for reluctant readers.

A Tale Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz
I loved this book.  Plain and simple.  It was one of my favorites all year.  Gently dark, intelligent, laugh-out-loud hilarious, brilliant storytelling.  I am a sucker for traditional fairytales and Gidwitz built an amazing framework to create a novel-length story out of several.  I can’t wait until my kids are old enough to read this book, and I’m not waiting to tell everyone I know that they should, too.

The Mysterious Benedict Society: The Perilous Journey by Trenton Stewart
This series is very heavy for middle grade (and I mean that quite literally—the books are THICK), but such fun and engaging stories that you fly through them.  Although I liked the first book in the series better, this was a very solid follow up and I have the third book waiting to be read.  But, considering it’s waiting in one of the seventeen boxes jammed full of books in my new garage, it’s probably going to keep waiting for a bit.

Young Adult Novels
I know I’m going to forget something and feel terrible.  I read SO MUCH YA that it’s hard for me to keep track of.  So here are just some that come to mind right now as I’m sitting here on the floor since the pretty red couch I ordered could not possibly fit up my twisty stairs in this particular universe.  I’m also trying to spotlight things I haven’t talked about yet, which is why you won’t see me talking about Anna and the French Kiss yet again.

Also, disclaimer: My taste is not your taste, nor are my reading standards your standards.  Some of these young adult books contain material possibly more adult than young.  Some of the following recommendations contain material that probably isn’t appropriate for my youngest readers, but as always that’s not really my call to make.  Note all of the “probably” and “possibly” in this paragraph, please.  If you have questions about specific content you are welcome to email me, but I hate to make blanket statements about books not knowing the audience.

The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff
Dark, even more twisted than my stairs, horrifying, and beautiful.  Yovanoff did an amazing job with mood and setting in this book, and I loved loved loved her depiction of the fey.

Fire by Kristin Cashore
This book made me love fantasy again.  I read it before Graceling and it’s my favorite of the two—I loved the epic scope of the plot but the very personal nature of the narration.

Paranormalcy by some chick whose name I can never remember
Eh, I hear it’s okay.  If you like things that are awesome.

Struts and Frets by Jon Skovron
A compelling and tightly written story of a boy trying to figure out how to make his family, his relationships, and his passion for music somehow balance.  An interesting emotional study of how to be an artist in a practical world that I particularly related to, and a fabulous supporting cast including a painfully real family.

Zombies Vs Unicorns
One of the best short story collections I’ve ever read—and I’ve read a lot of them.  Multiple author short story collections can be uneven, but every single piece in this book was dead (walking dead?) on.  Libba Bray’s was so soul-suckingly sad I cried the whole afternoon (I blamed the rain and hormones, but really, Libba’s fault), and Meg Cabot’s made me laugh out loud.  Scott Westerfeld’s had an idea that still hasn’t left me, Maureen Johnson nailed a not-so-subtle sendup of Angelina Jolie as adoptive mother to a horde of zombies, Cassandra Clare told a simple and beautiful fairtytale-esque (zombie) love story—and so many others.  So much awesome.  As to the question of zombies versus unicorns, well, I’m still Team Tasey Takes Them All Out.  Of course, it shouldn’t be any wonder that this group was so good, as one of the editors is the amazing Holly Black, who is a master of the short story.

The Eternal Ones by Kirsten Miller
Besides pronouncing her name the correct way, Kirsten actually sold me on a meant-to-be relationship, which is no small feat.  Intriguing premise, excellent writing, and a heroine with a spine.  It’s like this book and I loved each other in a past life or something…

White Cat by Holly Black
Although Holly Black is my arch-nemesis simply by virtue of her name, I have nothing but praise for this fabulous magic-noir story.  A world with a simply brilliant and brilliantly simple magic system leads to a story anything but simple.  Crime families, deadly touches, a cute boy, and a white cat.  What’s not to love?

Okay, but, since I’m a very lucky girl, I also got to read a bunch of books that didn’t come out in 2010 but will be out in 2011.  Here are some of my favorites to look forward to.

Across the Universe by Beth Revis
Out on January 11th, this book was probably my favorite debut I read all year.  Which is pretty obvious give the blurb I wrote for it.  Sci-fi, murder mystery, dystopian, romance, Revis took it all and created a book so well-crafted and compelling you won’t be able to put it down.  I came away without a single complaint, which, if you knew anything about the type of reader I am, is astounding.  BUY IT READ IT TELL ME HOW MUCH YOU LOVED IT.

Divergent by Veronica Roth
Dystopians are always a hard sell for me because it’s so hard to build a believable broken world, much less one I want to live in for a whole book.  Too often dystopians feel like a chore to read, which was why I loved Roth’s debut so much.  Sure, things were bad and the world was broken, but it was interesting and exciting and the main character DID things, like jump off buildings and punch people and kiss cute boys!  Roth totally sold me on her world and made me fall in love with Tris as Tris discovered herself.  And punched people.

I like the punching, what can I say.

Where She Went by Gayle Forman
If I Stay is one of my all-time favorite novels.  I was nervous to read the sequel, but if anything it made me love If I Stay even more.  Forman is a genius (I don’t use that term lightly, except when I do, and here I am definitely not) and one of the best contemporary YA writers alive, and I’m in awe of her ability to tell hard stories in such beautiful, compelling, affecting ways.  Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant book.

Rival by Sara Bennet Wheeler
A particularly timely tale featuring dual viewpoints of bully and bullied as two girls compete socially and in the choral arena.  Well told, insightfully written, interesting contemporary YA.

Bad Taste in Boys by Carrie Harris
Zombies.  Football players.  Making out under desks while possibly infecting the boy of your dreams.  Swords made out of PVC pipes and foam.  What more can you possibly ask for from a YA novel?

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins
I’ve read it.  You haven’t.  NEENER.  NEENER.  NEENER.  (Oh, come on, you always knew I wasn’t mature.)

Corsets and Clockwork, an anthology edited by Trisha Telep
I’ve only read one story in this one, but it’s fabulous.  Also, the author is incredibly modest.  I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the stories in this YA steampunk romance collection!

Supernaturally by that same chick whose first name I can never spell right
Maybe even better than the first book, but the person who told me that is biased.  Also, he’s married to me.  However, this book is quite possibly the only YA paranormal to feature trolls and a fossegrim.  Which isn’t hard, considering most of you are probably googling “fossegrim” right now to figure out just what the heck it is.

And finally, those books that I haven’t read yet but will do anything in my power to get early:

The Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
First I read Laini’s blog and loved her.  Then I read her middle grade novel Blackbringer, and loved her even more (third person where the voice switches depending on which character is being focused on?  SO BRILLIANT).  Then I read Lips Touch and died a little bit inside because it was so incredible and Laini’s writing was so good.  So, yes, I will read anything/everything she ever writes, and I especially can’t wait for this.  (True story: One of my earliest coherent thoughts upon learning I hit the NYT list was, “I hope this makes me cool enough that they’ll send me an ARC of Laini’s book!”)

Blood Magic by Tessa Gratton
It sounds dark and twisty and strange.  Someone should send it to me immediately.  I’m not above begging.

Misfit by Jon Skovron
I like Jon, and I loved his first book, and after this teaser trailer how could you not want to read Misfit?

The Dark and Hollow Places by Carrie Ryan
I love Carrie’s writing, and her zombie dystopian world is so haunting I don’t mind being depressed for three or four hundred pages.  Plus I always have zombie nightmares when I read her books, which oddly enough I look forward to.

Cryer’s Cross by Lisa McMann
I loved her Wake series and can’t wait to read something new from her.

Plus a million others that I can’t think of right now because I just finished helping my son hit the toilet while puking.

Have I mentioned the washer and dryer?  Yay 2010, and here’s hoping for a brilliant and happy and spin-cycle filled 2011!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Very Important Thoughts

I should be packing, or cleaning, but I have something very important I've been thinking about lately that I needed to share with you.

Taylor Swift.

Or, rather, her latest popular song.  Driving around I sometimes like to turn on this quaint, antiquated device known as the "radio."  The basic idea behind the radio is that they pick the songs and then play them, and you just have to listen or change the station hoping to hit something other than Nickleback or Kings of Leon or Train (ARE YOU KIDDING ME I WANT TO RIP OFF MY EARS) (ahem).  It's a strange concept, to be sure, but occasionally entertaining.

So, Ms Swift has been creeping onto the alternative stations I listen to even though she's technically country.  (Or pop?  Pop country?  Country pop?  That's making me thirsty.)  But I really liked this new song of hers because she sings about being a "careless man's careful daughter" and tells the story of learning to trust and love.

There's this repeating chorus that goes something along the lines of, "You made a rebel of a careless man's careful daughter, you are the best thing that's ever been mine."  With more guitar and a hint of twang but not too much twang because this is Country Pop.  (Can we call it Country Soda?  Because I stopped saying "pop" when I got to college and people made fun of me.)  But then at the end of the song, she turns it around and sings, "I fell in love with a careless man's careful daughter, she is the best thing that's ever been mine."

And I loved that.  So much.  I loved that, through learning to trust and open herself up, the thing she realized was that she loved herself and that she is the best thing she could ever possibly have.  Because only by learning that would she really be able to love someone else and have a functional, fulfilling relationship.  Every time I heard it I thought, "YES!  Thank you, Ms Swift!  Girls SHOULD realize that they are their own most important possession and that they need to love themselves before they try to be in love with someone else!"

But then I did this thing where I actually, you know, paid attention to the lyrics.  And it turns out that that end chorus reversal is actually what he's saying to her.  It made me sad.  Sure, romantic, blah blah whatever.  I wanted it to be a love song the girl wrote to herself and the person she realized she was.  Boy + girl = love?  Meh.  Girl + self = love?  That's a story our girls need more of.  It's a story I could have used as a teen.

So I don't know about you, but I'm going to keep hearing those lyrics wrong, and hope that maybe some teens who need to figure that out hear it wrong, too.  Because you don't need a boy to love you in order to love yourself.  You need to love yourself in order to find someone who will love you the way you deserve.


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

That Creepy Old Man in a Red Suit Who Doesn't Even Sparkle

I have issues with Santa Claus.  Now, please, I don't want to be tarred and feathered--or perhaps carameled and tinseled?  My rationale is perfectly sound and multi-part.

First, adults spend a lot of time and money putting together Christmas for their children.  Braving the crowds, waiting in lines, finding and then returning and then re-finding the perfect gift (when your kids KEEP CHANGING THEIR MINDS NO YOU CANNOT DECIDE YOU WANT SOMETHING ELSE THE CUTOFF WAS DECEMBER TENTH SO YOU CAN JUST DEAL WITH IT) (ahem).  No matter what budget you set there's always one more thing that needs to happen (candy for the stocking! the last minute idea you had that really would make everything perfect! ornament craft kits because it will not stop freaking raining and everyone is home from school and you can't go anywhere and oh my gosh we are all going to go insane HERE MAKE AN ORNAMENT KIDS), and those one-more-things always cost money.

Now, I'm not complaining.  I love Christmas shopping, and finding just the right thing, knowing my kids are going to have that one magical day where they are ridiculously spoiled but it's okay because amidst this pile of Transformers and Pokemon and Pillow Pets we're thinking about Jesus (okay, yeah, that part maybe doesn't work so well, either, but we do try).  I think it's fun.

So why, after all of my time and thought and effort and money, should some anonymous old man in a red suit get all of the credit?


We do things a little differently around here.  My kids love the idea of Santa Claus, and write heart-breakingly adorable letters to him.  And Santa Claus reads those letters and brings them one--ONE--present they asked for.  I'm okay with a little magic.  But the rest?  That's from Daddy and me.  Because a little magic goes a long way, but knowing who really loves you (hint: It is not a man who rides around the sky on reindeer one night a year and then disappears the rest of the year) is its own kind of magic.

My second quarrel is this: Santa Claus as a dirty old creeper.  And I'm going to apologize right now, but seriously?  Hey, kids, go sit on that strange man's lap and tell him secrets!  And then he's going to come in the middle of the night and sneak around our house!  But in the meantime, HE IS ALWAYS WATCHING YOU SO YOU BETTER BE GOOD.

Now, if Santa Claus were eternally youthful and sparkled like diamonds in the sunlight, maybe that would be sexy and spawn a series of mega bestselling novels.  But he doesn't even have bronze colored hair.

I may, however, be a little warped because when I was little Santa Claus would always load our stockings with (in addition to treats and small presents) underwear.

That's right: Santa Claus gave us underwear.

I don't know how or why this started.  Granted, with four girls right in a row most of the bums were around the same size, and it was probably easy to just grab a few packs of underwear to be split among them while out shopping anyway, but seriously: Santa Claus gave us underwear.  (And he didn't even give us our own packs--no, he opened them and divided the pairs among the stockings.  Except in my only brother's case.  He always got his own.  Total favoritism.)

It wasn't until we were older that it hit us how strange that was, but at that point we all knew the truth (which is that Santa Claus is not an eternally beautiful vampire, of course) and it was more a joke than anything.  But still.  Underwear.  Weird, right?  (Sorry, Mom and Dad.  IT'S WEIRD.)

Finally, I hate the whole Big Brother aspect of it, and the notion that kids should only be good because they are being watched and it will earn them presents.  Shouldn't they try to be good anyway, without the promise of rewards or the threat of disappointment?  (Which, let's face it, young parents in that restaurant: are you REALLY not going to give your two-year-old any presents if he doesn't sit down and eat right now? Really?  Because I don't think that's a threat you're willing to follow through on.)  I don't know about you or your kids, but mine always tend to get stressed out.  Last year by Christmas Eve my son was screaming, "I DON'T WANT CHRISTMAS.  I WANT CHRISTMAS TO BE OVER."  After a month solid of anticipation, it all just melts into stress and anxiety.  And being told you have to be good?  That kind of makes me want to go in the opposite direction.  You're watching me all the time?  WELL WATCH THIS!  (No, I have no idea where my son got his contrary nature from.)

So, to sum up: I hate giving credit to an imaginary person who has characteristics that are either vaguely creepy or seriously romantic depending on your feelings about vampires/old men.  I also worry that when magic turns into blackmail it tends to lose its wonder.  If you want Santa to be a part of childhood, let Santa be a mythical figure that represents the good and fun and joy of this time of year--but don't let him be the entirety of Christmas.

And for heaven's sake, don't let him give your children underwear.

Run! RUN!
(Also, Merry Christmas!)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Plugging Your Ears

Reviews I have accidentally seen in the past two days:
"Kiersten White is a Literary Goddess!"
"I know it's just YA, but Kiersten White's writing is so awful it makes me want to puke."

Clearly the first reviewer is the only one who knows what she is talking about.

Actual Conclusion?
There's a reason I don't read reviews, and that is: they don't change anything.  When I sit down to write I am neither a goddess nor a vomity mass of awful writing.  I'm just me, writing how I write, and that has to be enough.  Opinions about my book are exactly that--opinions.  Frankly, I'm thrilled my book is out there to GET opinions.  I genuinely value them, and I have the most amazing fans and get the most amazing emails.  And I'm sorry to that girl I made puke.  Hope it didn't come out her nose, because that's painful.

Actually, maybe I hope just a little bit came out her nose.

Anyhow.  People love your writing.  People hate your writing.  Doesn't matter.  You always write alone.  (Thank heavens, too, because I'd hate for people to be reading over my shoulder and vomiting all over my poor MacBook.  It'd also be kind of distracting to have someone actively worshipping me while I tried to tap out book three.  I might have to try that one out sometime, though.)

Point: Reviews are for other readers.  Authors are free (and encouraged by me) to ignore them.  It's kind of vital to our survival/sanity.  Readers are free (and very, very encouraged by me) to review and discuss and talk about what they are reading.  Love it or hate it, I want you to have an opinion about my book--because that means you read it, and that makes me happy.

I initially thought this fountain should be dedicated to my son, the eternal puker.
But instead I am dedicating it to everyone who hates my book. Puke away, friends! Puke away!
Now if you'll excuse me, I've got a third book to write, and I won't be thinking about any reviews at all while doing it.  Well, except I may occasionally think, "Maybe if I work extra hard I can make that girl projectile vomit!"  Because I like to do my part.

(Note: I am not feeling bad or looking for validation in the comments.  The feedback I get is overwhelmingly positive!  I get the most incredibly kind and enthusiastic emails.  The ones from teens especially make me giddy with joy.  And the puking comment actually made me laugh.  Promise.)

Monday, December 6, 2010

Safe and Somewhere In Between

Today I'm going to try and tackle a BIG topic. One that makes me nervous to even approach because people react so strongly to it, and everyone has different feelings on it. But I've gotten some emails lately that have me thinking about it quite a bit, so you're going to bear the brunt of those thoughts. My apologies.

One of the emails I received was from a young writer asking me whether or not she should even bother trying to break into the YA market since her writing doesn't have swearing or sex or "edgy" content.

Ummm...clearly I am an example that you don't need to push those types of boundaries to get published in YA.  In fact, I would say that you might even be better off because you'll have an instantly broader audience.  Editors actually like publishing books that they can recommend for ages 12 and up instead of ages 16 and up.  Librarians love having options for their younger readers who want to read the same types of things that older teens are but just aren't mature enough to handle some of the content.  I get at least a couple of emails every week from parents and middle school librarians thanking me for writing a paranormal romance they can give younger readers.

I don't like the assumption that YA is, by its very essence, an edgy genre.  Yes, there is a lot of content that frankly addresses teenage sexuality and drug use and drinking and other topics that no, you probably wouldn't want to hand to a twelve-year-old, but I don't feel that most of it is gratuitous.  I can't imagine there are any authors out there, sitting at their laptops, thinking, "Hoo boy! I'm REALLY going to corrupt the nation's youth with this one!!  TAKE THAT, CONCERNED PARENTS!"

Nope, really we are just sitting at our laptops thinking, "This is the story I have to tell."  Sometimes those stories, by necessity, contain content that some people find offensive, or that really isn't appropriate for younger teen readers.  Does that make these books bad?  I don't think so.  I think it just means that we, as parents and educators and librarians, need to be aware of what books contain and whether or not the children and teens we are giving them to are ready to read them--or if they will ever be.  There are many books that I love that I wouldn't have been able to handle as a teen.

Let me tell you a story.  When I was young--I'm talking fifth, sixth, seventh grade--I loved reading high fantasy.  But I didn't have a library close by, and I didn't have any friends who read that stuff.  So most of the time I went to the bookstore and picked blindly based on the back cover.  One of the books I picked contained scenes that were, shall we say, WAY over my head as a twelve-year-old.  I knew what I was reading was most definitely not something I should be reading (even if I wasn't quite sure what the characters were doing--but the fact that I was twelve and didn't know how s-e-x worked is a story for another time...or, really, never), but I didn't know what to do about it.

Then I got scared.  What if my parents picked up the book and realized what terrible things I'd been reading?  They'd be SO MAD AT ME.  I'd get in so much trouble!  So I hid the book and for the next couple of years had this nervous little fear at the back of my mind that they'd find it, and they'd know what I'd read, and they'd be disappointed in me.

This isn't a reflection on my parents.  My parents were wonderful and involved and I really could have said, "Whoa, Mom, there was a scene in this book that I didn't understand but I'm pretty sure I shouldn't have read it."  And she would have talked with me about it and definitely would not have gotten mad at me or been disappointed in me.  But I didn't go to her and instead felt guilty and dirty and scared.

No kid should ever feel that way about a book.  No author wants a kid to feel that way about their book. This is why I always, always say that parents need to be aware of what their kids are reading, read what they can of their kids' books, get recommendations tailored to their child's age and maturity level from trusted peers (such as...taa daa! librarians!) and always have a dialogue going.  That way if, by chance, your kids do get exposed to something they aren't ready for, it can be a learning and growing experience for both of you rather than a traumatic one for your kid.

But where does our responsibility lie as authors?  It was very important to me, personally, to write a book that would be accessible to anyone who wanted to read it.  And, fortunately, the story I wanted to tell was one that lent itself well to that broad of an audience.  However, I've been questioned on books I've recommended here on the blog because, unlike Paranormalcy, they aren't necessarily the best choice for a tween or very young teen.

I don't know what to do about this, quite frankly.

I love books.  I love a lot of books.  I love a lot of books that have content in them that I don't feel is appropriate for younger readers.  I love some books that have SO MUCH content that I don't even tell most people I've read them because I'm actually afraid of what they would think of me.  (File this under Kiersten White: Coward.)  But I am an adult, and I choose what to read, and I know how things affect me.  And the books that I love tell their stories honestly and truly and avoid gratuitous "content".

There have been many books I've put down because I simply don't want that voice or those images or those words in my head, that I felt, for whatever reason, were using that content to sensationalize or manipulate or distort things I hold precious.  However, my "gratuitous" might another person's subtle.  The story I feel goes overboard with content might be just what someone else needs to read.

And this is, again, where it comes down to personal judgment that we, as adults, are free to make for ourselves on any given medium, whether it be books or music or movies.  And we have the maturity and intellectual development to be able to make those choices for ourselves.

Pre-teens and teens?  This is where the parents come in.  In the end, it is not for me or other authors to police what your kids are reading, or to only provide them with content that is "safe" for any and all readers.  There are many, many stories out there, important stories, good stories, stories that are as varied in tone and content as the people we meet and interact with and love every day are.  Some are the stories for us.  Some are not.  Some are the stories for our children.  Some are not.

Do I feel that I have a responsibility as an author (whose book is read by younger audiences than I had originally intended) to only recommend books that are safe for any and all of my readers?  Gosh, that is the question, isn't it.  And I think the answer is: kind of.  I wish people wouldn't look to me for "safe" books for their children to read, but fact of the matter is some do.  I appreciate that people take my recommendations seriously, and I also appreciate when parents research the books I recommend and decide for themselves whether or not the book is appropriate for their young readers.

In the end, I don't know you.  I don't know your kids.  I'm reading as a twenty-seven-year-old adult with an English degree heavily involved in the YA book arena and recommending books that I love.  Maybe I shouldn't recommend any at all.  Maybe I should recommend more.  It's a balance I haven't figured out yet.

As authors we tell stories.  People--young people--take those stories and make them their own in ways that we never expect.  It's one of the most magical and frankly terrifying things about having your books out there.  Again, always, know what your kids are reading.  Talk about it with them.  Go on those adventures and journeys with them.  Our books might be the path, but YOU are the gateway.  Be a good one.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Anna and the French Kiss!

So, guys.  GUYS.  One of my all-time favorite books is out today.  And I am giddy!  I've loved this book since the very first page.  Steph sent it to me just before it went out on submission and I remember reading that first page and thinking, "Holy crap, she's going to sell immediately."  And, guess what?  She totally did.

Anna and the French Kiss is funny and smart and delightful and swoony.  It's a romantic comedy that manages to be both romantic AND comedic, but it doesn't stop there because Steph is a very ambitious person, so it's also smart and bittersweet and compelling and complex.  These characters stay with you long after you read the book.  The clever, fast dialogue, the lovingly detailed Paris setting, the food--THE FOOD--the romantic entanglements and disappointments and confusion, and the kissing, oh yes, the kissing, the kissing, the kissing...wait, where was I?

The best way I can describe Steph's writing is a perfect medium between the cute and funny of Maureen Johnson and the funny and smart of John Green.  (Incidentally, I would say the content is similar to Sarah Dessen or John Green, if you are wondering what ages it works for--and, as I recommend for any book, if you are concerned read it before giving it to a teen so that you can discuss things.  However, if you read this book before giving it to a teen the poor teen will probably never get it because you will sleep with it under your pillow and ground them if they even think about trying to take it.)

Also, did I mention it has one of the BEST love interests I have ever read?  Hands down.  Bar none.  BUT I READ HIM FIRST HE IS MINE SO BACK OFF.


Steph is one of my very best friends in the world, but even if she weren't she'd still be one of my very favorite authors.  YOU GUYS HOW MUCH LONGER DO I HAVE TO GUSH BECAUSE I WILL GO ON ALL DAY DON'T THINK I WON'T.  WHY HAVEN'T YOU ORDERED IT YET??

Oh.  I didn't give you the picture link.  Here it is:
Buy it for yourself for Christmas.  And then buy it for every older teen on your list.  And then buy it for everyone you like.  And maybe even a few people that you don't like, because after all, it's Christmas and you should really work on being more generous and loving, right?  Right.  Spread the French Kiss love!  You will be so popular.  Especially if you phrase it like that.

Seriously.  I am wearing out the l o v and e keys on my keyboard trying to talk about this book.  I'm so proud of Steph and so grateful I know her and so excited that the rest of the world gets to fall in love in Paris with Anna and √Čtienne St. Clair, and most especially that the world gets to fall in love with Stephanie Perkins.
Wait, is that creepy?  Fine.  You, too, are allowed to adore her.  Encouraged, even.
You're welcome.