Right before the holidays, I managed to snag an ARC of A Local Habitation, Seanan McGuire's second book in the October Daye Series, something I'd been scheming about since I finished her debut Rosemary and Rue (check out my review HERE).

After spending fourteen years lost to both the fae and mortal worlds, only to be dragged back into Faerie by the murder of someone close to her, October "Toby" Daye really just wants to spend a little time getting her footing. She's putting her life back together.

Unfortunately, this means going back to work for Duke Sylvester Torquill of Shadowed Hills, doing her duty as a knight errant. That isn't the sort of thing that exactly lends itself to a quiet existence, and before she knows it, Toby's back on the road, heading for the County of Tamed Lightning in Fremont, California to check on Sylvester's niece, January.

Things in Tamed Lightning turn out to be a lot stranger than they seemed at first glance, and Toby's talent for finding trouble isn't doing her any favors. With Quentin—a young foster from Sylvester's Court—in tow, and the stakes getting higher all the time, it's up to Toby to solve the mystery of Tamed Lightning, or face a failure whose cost will be too high for anyone to pay.

Since I don't want to give anything away in terms of plot (it will definitely keep you guessing!), I'll focus on characters.  Toby Daye is fast becoming one of my favorite heroines in urban fantasy.  Toby's trying to piece her life back together at the start of A Local Habitation, but she's still broken, still recovering from the tragic losses she's had to endure.  Toby is witty, sarcastic, tough, and no nonsense, yet she has a softer side - she takes care of the people she's responsible for.  And she's loyal to her friends.  I feel for her.  I'm hoping she'll find happiness and love (with Tybalt! I love him) and I'm rooting for her to find and punish the guys responsible for ruining her life.

In addition to the mystery surrounding the dead bodies piling up in Tamed Lightning (I thought I knew who the culprit was, but I was wrong), A Local Habitation goes deeper in the relationships between Toby and the men in her life.  We get to see a little more of Duke Sylvester Torquill, her liege lord, in action, and it's apparent the Duke's son in law and Toby's former flame, Connor, still has feelings for her.  And he's a good guy.  I understand why Toby still has feelings for him.  Tybalt makes several appearances (yay! I love him) and the snarky dialogue exchanges between him and Toby are priceless.  We also learn a lot more about Quentin who steps up and learns to be a hero under Toby's guidance.

A Local Habitation doesn't have the same non stop action, danger-at-every-turn pace that I loved in Rosemary and Rue (there is still plenty of action and suspense). There's more dialogue this time around. And some pretty stubborn new characters - I wouldn't blame Toby if she punched a few of them.  But this second novel in the October Daye Series delves deeper into the world of faerie, and readers have the opportunity to learn more about the world, politics, and culture.  And world-building is definitely one of Seanan McGuire's strengths.  The way she writes it, I wouldn't be surprised if there was an underground faerie world in San Francisco or if she was a part of it (okay, maybe I'd be a little surprised).

I still want to know more about Toby's daughter and her ex husband. I'm hoping to see them in one of the next books (An Artificial Night comes out September 2010!). And I'm hopelessly in love with Tybalt (um, did I mention that yet?), so I'm holding my breath to see what happens with him and Toby as this series progresses.

The October Daye series has easily become my favorite faerie urban fantasy series. Toby is the kind of kick butt heroine I can admire, relate to, and root for.  This series is best read in order, so if you're interested pick up Rosemary and Rue and keep an eye out for A Local Habitation in March (or check back tomorrow for your chance to win a copy of the ARC)!

Check out Seanan McGuire's website!
A lot of people have asked me lately about some of the statistics involving my inbox.  So this week I kept track.  (Though I'm not sure if this was a good week to keep track - all my numbers seemed to go up this week and I'm not sure if this reflects a steady increase or if it was just an odd week.)

708 - Total Number of Work Emails This Week

194 - Queries This Week

5 - Still Considering

27 - Requested (Partials and Fulls)

1 - Nasty Response to a Form Rejection

45 - Number of New MS Added to My Kindle

5 - Editorial Letters/Emails I Sent Out

2 - MS Copyedited

8 - Books Added to the TBR Room
The ALA Popular Paperbacks List is out!  Check it out to find suggestions to add to the TBR pile (or room).
Last week I finished reading Nicholas Sparks' new novel The Last Song. The Nicholas Sparks fan in me enjoyed it. The YA fan in me laughed at a few of the "non YA" descriptors. Ronnie - a 17 year old - thinks about guys being "on the make" yet even my interns in their early twenties don't remember that expression. The agent in me (and the crazy part of my that is obsessed with first person POV) wished the story was told from alternating first person POVs rather than third. And the 13 year old girl in me kept singing Miley Cyrus in my head.

Seventeen year old Veronica "Ronnie" Miller's life was turned upside-down when her parents divorced and her father moved from New York City to Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina. Three years later, she remains angry and alientated from her parents, especially her father...until her mother decides it would be in everyone's best interest if she spent the summer in Wilmington with him. Ronnie's father, a former concert pianist and teacher, is living a quiet life in the beach town, immersed in creating a work of art that will become the centerpiece of a local church.

Haven't missed a Nicholas Sparks movie yet - not going to miss this one either :)

Click this link to join the 2010 Debut Author Challenge at The Story Siren's blog.

Description from The Story Siren:

What is the 2010 Debut Author Challenge?

  • The objective is to read a set number of YA (Young Adult) or MG (Middle Grade) novels from debut authors published this year. I'm going to challenge everyone to read at least 12 debut novels! I’m hoping to read at least 30! You don’t have to list your choices right away, but if you do feel free to change them throughout the year. I will also be focusing on mostly Young Adult novels.
  • Anyone can join, you don’t need a blog to participate. If you don’t have a blog you can always share your views by posting a review on Amazon.com/BarnesandNoble.com/GoodReads/Shelfari, or any other bookish site.
  • The challenge will run from January 1, 2010- December 31, 2010. You can join at anytime!
Here's where I'll be keeping track of the books I want to read for the 2010 Challenge. (This list will most likely grow and change as the year goes on!) My goal is to read 30.

  1. Personal Demons by Lisa Desrochers
  2. The DUFF by Kody Keplinger
  3. Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
  4. Sea by Heidi R. Kling
  5. Iron King by Julie Kagawa
  6. Wish by Alexandra Bullen
  7. Nightshade by Andrea Cremer
  8. You by Chuck Benoit
  9. Daughters by Joanna Philbin
And the rest of the list is TBD.

After finishing The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold, I felt awestruck by her brilliant writing ability. She spun a haunting and heartbreaking tale about a family and a girl putting their lives and afterlife back together after she was raped and murdered - a story that would make most people squeamish, yet it managed to become a bestseller.

I knew I had read more. So I did what most neurotic and obsessive readers do. I looked up Alice Sebold and ordered the other two books she'd published. That's when I found Lucky, Sebold's memoir detailing her own rape in 1981 when she was a freshman at Syracuse University.

Enormously visceral, emotionally gripping and imbued with the belief that justice is possible even after the most horrific of crimes, Alice Sebold's compelling memoir of her rape at the age of eighteen is a story that takes hold of you and won't let go.

Sebold fulfills a promise that she made to herself in the very tunnel where she was raped: someday she would write a book about her experience. With Lucky she delivers on that promise wiht mordant wit and an eye for life's absurdities, as she describes what she was like both as a young girl before the rape and how that rape changed but did not sink the woman she later became.

It is Alice's indomitable spirit that we come to know in these pages. The same young woman who sets her sights on becoming an Ethel Merman-style diva one day (despite her braces, bad complexion, and extra weight) encounters what is still thought of today as the crime from which no woman can ever really recover. In an account that is at once heartrending and hilarious, we see Alice's spirit prevail as she struggles to have a normal college experience in the aftermath of this harrowing, life-changing event.

No less gripping is the almost unbelievable role that coincidence plays in the unfolding of Sebold's narrative. Her case, placed in the inactive file, is miraculously opened again six months later, when she sees her rapist on the street. This begins the long road to what dominates these pages: the struggle for triumph and understanding - in the courtroom and outside in the world.

Lucky is, quite simply, a real-life thriller. In its literary style and narrative tension we never lose sight of why this life story is worth reading. At the end we are left standing in the wake of devastating violence, and, like the writer, we have come to know what it means to survive.

Like The Lovely Bones, Sebold opens Lucky with a powerful and gripping first paragraph:

In the tunnel where I was raped, a tunnel that was once an underground entry to an amphitheater, a place where actors burst forth from underneath the seats of a crowd, a girl had been murdered and dismembered. I was told this story by the police. In comparison, they said, I was lucky. (pg 11)

Memoirs are incredibly personal in nature, and as a result they speak differently to different readers. I have always been a fan of well written memoirs, and I have read quite a few which have left me spellbound and enthralled with another person's life. In my mind, the most successful ones are those that can make readers laugh out loud in between making their eyes well up with tears, all the while containing a certain reflective poignancy that can only make readers stop and pause.

After telling the hard facts to anyone from lover to friend, I have changed in their eyes. Often it is awe or admiration, sometimes it is repulsion, once or twice it has been fury hurled directly at me for reasons I remain unsure of. Some men and lesbians see it as a turn-on or a mission, as if by sexualizing our relationships they can pull me back from the wreckage of that day. Of course, their best efforts are largely useless. No one can pull anyone back from anywhere. You save yourself, or you remain unsaved. (pg 69)

Lucky now tops the list of one of my favorite memoirs.
Brought to you by YA Highway: (oh, and um, I *tried* to just focus on published books, but since there are a few manuscripts out there which are my new favorites, I had to sneak them in)


  • Most imaginative: How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff
  • Funniest: My Horizontal Life by Chelsea Handler
  • Scariest: The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan
  • Edgiest contemporary: Cracked Up To Be and Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers
  • Creepiest SF/dystopia: The Hunger Games and Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
  • Most evocative historical: The Gemma Doyle Series by Libba Bray (A Great and Terrible Beauty, Rebel Angels, and The Sweet Far Thing)
  • Best love story: Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta and Shiver by Melina Marchetta

  • Scariest: The Forest of Hands and Teeth (the ending)
  • Funniest: The fart scene in Raymond Mahaney's Wrong Moves by Nikki Loftin (on submission)
  • Most disturbing: Beautiful by Amy Reed
  • Steamiest: The makeout scene between Jonah and Taylor in Jellicoe Road, all the scenes between Frannie and Luc in Personal Demons by Lisa Desrochers (out in 2010!)
  • Most exciting: The Breach by Patrick Lee, and The Hunger Games and Catching Fire
  • Biggest tear-jerker: I sobbed during Cracked Up To Be, How I Live Now, Jellicoe Road, and The Ice Queen, and poignant scenes in Lovely, Drowning by Kristin Miller (on submission) and All These Lives by Sarah Wylie (on submission) had me sobbing in public
  • Best plot twist/revelation (no spoilers!!) : Page 173 of Catching Fire , the end of The Breach

  • Best couple: Regina and Michael from Some Girls Are, Taylor and Jonah from Jellicoe Road, and Sam and Grace from Shiver
  • Who you'd want as your best friend: Bianca from The Duff by Kody Keplinger (out 2010!), Katsa from Graceling by Kristin Cashore
  • Who you fell in love with: Brigan from Fire by Kristin Cashore, Travis Chase from The Breach by Patrick Lee, Keith from Cheater Beaters by Jennifer Hoffine (on submission)
  • Worst (best?) villain: Kara and Anna from Some Girls Are
  • Best character twist (who you loved, then hated, or vice versa): Parker from Cracked Up To Be (I thought I'd hate her, but I loved her)
  • Best character names: Brigan from Fire
  • Worst character names: Katniss and Peeta from The Hunger Games
  • Favorite all-around kickass female: Katsa from Graceling
  • Favorite all-around kickass male: Brigan from Fire and Gale from The Hunger Games

  • Best book cover: Hush Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick and The Hollow by Jessica Verday
  • Best title: My Horizontal Life by Chelsea Handler and The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan
  • Most memorable voice: How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff
  • Most memorable first line: Love Walked In by Marisa de los Santos "My life-my real life-started when a man walked into it, a handsome stranger in a perfectly cut suit, and, yes, I know how that sounds..."
  • Best setting: Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater
  • Most beautiful writing: The Gemma Doyle Series by Libba Bray, Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater, and Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

  • Will any of the books you've read in 2009 make your life list of Favorite Books? Cracked Up To Be by Courtney Summers, Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater, The Hunger Games and Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins, Columbine by Dave Cullen, The Ice Queen by Alice Hoffman, Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta, How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff, Ender in Exile by Orson Scott Card, Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, Graceling and Fire by Kristin Cashore, and Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire
  • What can't wait for books are you looking forward to in 2010? The Duff by Kody Keplinger, Personal Demons by Lisa Desrochers, Linger by Maggie Stiefvater, Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta, and Book 3 of The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Last I counted, I had 438 books in the TBR room...and that was at least a month and several purchases ago (oops, was I supposed to pause in book buying until I'd read more?). And when thinking about how many books I managed to find the time to read, I was worried this list would fall short. But with it all written down (um, it starts in chronological order but it doesn't stay that way), I'm pretty darn impressed with myself. Especially since this doesn't include manuscripts. In 2010, I'm going to count those - queries too :)

Here it is (with my favorites in Bold) - Books I Read in 2009

1. Sebastian by Anne Bishop
2. Belladonna by Anne Bishop
3. A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray
4. Rebel Angels by Libba Bray
5. Full Moon Rising by Keri Arthur
6. You Slay Me by Katie MacAlister
7. Personal Demon by Kelley Armstrong
8. At Grave's End by Jeaniene Frost
9. Destiny Kills by Keri Arthur
10. Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr
11. Kissing Sin by Keri Arthur
12. A Model Summer by Paulina Porizkova
13. The Choice by Nicholas Sparks
14. The Lucky One by Nicholas Sparks
15. Love Walked In by Marisa de los Santos
16. You Belong to Me by Marisa de los Santos
17. Fortune and Fate by Sharon Shinn
18. Fallen by Claire Delacroix
19. Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict by Laurie Viera Rigler
20. Good Grief by Lolly Winston
21. The Ice Queen by Alice Hoffman
22. My Horizontal Life by Chelsea Handler
23. Persuasion by Jane Austen
24. Tangled Webs by Anne Bishop
25. The Shadow Queen by Anne Bishop
26. Cracked Up To Be by Courtney Summers
27. The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan
28. Raven's Strike by Patricia Briggs
29. Mona Lisa Darkening by Sunny
30. Dream Warrior by Sherrilyn Kenyon
31. Hunted by PC Cast & Kristen Cast
32. Evermore by Alyson Noel
33. Ender in Exile by Orson Scott Card
34. A War of Gifts by Orson Scott Card
35. Skeleton Creek by Patrick Carman
36. All He Ever Wanted by Anita Shreve
37. The Strain by Guillermo del Toro & Chuck Hogan
38. Lover Avenged by JR Ward
39. Bones Crossed by Patricia Briggs
40. Tempting Danger by Eileen Wilks
41. Firebrand by Marion Zimmer Bradley
42. Dead and Gone by Charlaine Harris
43. Grave Sight by Charlaine Harris
44. Pure by Terra Elan McVoy
45. Mortal Danger by Eileen Wilks
46. Lady Macbeth's Daughter by Lisa Klein
47. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
48. Uninvited by Amanda Marrone
49. I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You by Ally Carter
50. Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy by Ally Carter
51. Don't Judge a Girl by Her Cover by Ally Carter
52. Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
53. Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella
54. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
55. Girl in the Arena by Lisa Haines
56. Vacations from Hell Anthology
57. Prom Nights from Hell Anthology
58. Love is Hell Anthology
59. Austenland by Shannon Hale
60. The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen
61. Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen
62. Grave Surprise by Charlaine Harris
63. An Ice Cold Grave by Charlaine Harris
64. Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick
67. Columbine by Dave Cullen
68. Fragile Eternity by Melissa Marr
69. Fairy Tale by Cyn Balog
70. The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe
71. The Better Part of Darkness by Kelly Gay
72. Kissed by an Angel Trilogy by Elizabeth Chandler
73. My Soul to Take by Rachel Vincent
74. My Soul to Lose by Rachel Vincent
75. The Sweet Far Thing by Libba Bray
76. Tricks by Ellen Hopkins
77.Another Faust by Daniel and Dina Nayeri
78. Destined for an Early Grave by Jeaniene Frost
79. Once Dead Twice Shy by Kim Harrison
80. Bad Moon Rising by Sherrilyn Kenyon
81. Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers
82. Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater
83. Never Cry Werewolf by Heather Davis
84. Barely Bewitched by Kimberly Frost
85. Snap by Carol Snow
86. Hunting Ground by Patricia Briggs
87. How to Say Goodbye in Robot by Nadia Strafford
88. Coraline by Neil Gaimon
89. Watchmen by Alan Moore
90. Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
91. Graceling by Kristin Cashore
92. Fire by Kristin Cashore
93. The Van Alen Legacy by Melissa de la Cruz
94. Devil's Kiss by Sarwat Chadda
95. Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire
96. Impossible by Nancy Werlin
97. Lips Touch Three Times by Laini Taylor
98. Break by Hannah Moskowitz
99. The Hollow by Jessica Verday
100. Frostbitten by Kelley Armstrong
101. Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
102. Beautiful by Amy Reed
103. The Darkest Whisper by Gena Showalter
104. Dead After Dark by Sherrilyn Kenyon and others
105. Storm of Visions by Christina Dodd
106. White Witch, Black Curse by Kim Harrison
107. Possessions by Nancy Holder
108. Heist Society by Ally Carter
109. How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff
110. Prada and Prejudice by Mandy Hubbard
111. Immortal by Gillian Shields
112. Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl
113. The Breach by Patrick Lee
114. The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
115. A Local Habitation by Seanan McGuire
116. Blood Promise by Richelle Mead

116 Books = 1 book for every 3 days and 3 hours
not half bad...
Happy Release Day to Courtney Summers, whose debut novel Cracked Up To Be was one of my early 2009 favorites. Her second novel, the amazing and intense Some Girls Are is out today.

If you read one contemporary YA book in 2010. It. Must. Be. This. One.* Check out my review HERE.

* I'm thinking about it, and I *may* be saying something similar about other books come later in the year. I tend to get *a little* excited about books I love. But SGA is fabulous and definitely worth the read.
The last of my Happy Holiday Contests has now officially come to a close.

I'm excited to be giving away an ARC of The Dark Divine by Bree Despain. After using the Research Randomizer, the winner is...

Ladystorm. Check out her blog, Books, Movies, Reviews!

Congratulations. I've sent you an email. Send me your address so I can ship out your new book! :)