Tag Archives: Megan McCafferty

Reading in Q3 – August

I really picked up the reading pace this month, making up for lost time and visiting the library a lot. Whenever I’m between movie gigs and freelancing, reading and library visits are two of my favorite things.

Dead as a Doornail, Definitely Dead, All Together Dead, From Dead to Worse, Dead and Gone, Dead in the Family, Dead Reckoning, Charlaine Harris – I’m taking something of a reading vacation for myself and breezing through these books in 2-3 days each. Definitely Dead was a bit confusing in some places, especially at the beginning with the timing. Something pretty interesting happened in the gap between books and Sookie mentions Bill was with her when it happened, so that was a bit strange to me. I’ve been loving the series so much that I’m actually becoming increasingly disappointed with True Blood and how much it’s veered away from the plots and characters of the books. Trying to enjoy the books and the show as two separate things, though I was incredibly disappointed with the Season 4 finale. I don’t know if I’ll keep watching the show.

The Southern Cross, Skip Horack – My review will be published in 225 Magazine. Link coming soon. here.

Twenty Boy Summer, Sarah Ockler – I specifically requested this book from the library after reading about it being banned. The description of the book sounded really good and the reasons for it being banned were so incredibly dumb, so I was intrigued. I’ve so rarely read a book that addressed grief so well, especially grief processed by a teen. It really resonated with my own experiences and relationships growing up, and then also with things I’ve only experienced now, as an adult.

The Devil She Knows, Bill Loehfelm – My review is upcoming in 225 Magazine. Link to come.

Bumped, Megan McCafferty – Really fascinating look at a very possible reality where teenage girls are the only ones who can conceive and so become the most important people on the planet. Up until they’re about 19. Really says a lot of powerful, interesting things about our tech-addicted society, the marketplace, relationships, growing up, all of those things. I’m increasingly impressed with not just the books that are available for teens, but the teens themselves for being such a hungry audience for these extraordinary books.

Matched, Ally Condie – And this one just blew me away. Set in a “perfect” future society that orchestrates every detail of the lives of its citizens — their meals based on ideal caloric intake, their deaths on the their 70th birthday, their jobs and their “matches” — it really demolishes the idea of perfection. This Utopia has selected 100 of the greatest paintings, songs, poems, etc. and banished the rest, a form of banning so extensive that it’s terrifying. There is no new art, no new creative thought. Citizens don’t even know how to write with their own hands, only how to select words to form messages, a cut-and-paste method. The teen characters in this book are so hungry for choice that unauthorized poems become a way of communicating connection, love, secrets and history and learning to write your name by hand becomes an enormous act of rebellion. This book has a lot in common with Fahrenheit 451 (as well as 1984), but is so cleverly wrapped up in juicy, romantic melodrama. And the most haunting thing is that the future depicted here is not at all unlikely or very far away.

The Summer I Turned Pretty, Jenny Han – Swoon. This was a just delicious teen romance set during the summer, but written so very, very well. I loved Jenny Han’s Shug and I knew I’d love this series, too. Belly, the main character, was so vivid and ferocious in her desires and uncertainties that it was impossible not to completely fall for her and identify with her. And then it turns out the book is so much more than “just” a lighthearted teen romance and I’d gotten so beautifully conned into reading a deeply emotional book about families and friendships. I had to read the next two books as quickly as I could, but my local library didn’t have them. Good thing I have a library card in three cities and two states…

The War of Art, Steven Pressfield – This book kicked my ass. It’s a drill sergeant of a book, but also calm and encouraging. It’s a short book, often with just a little text on each page. But I read it s l o w l y because each page kinda punched me in the gut. I read passages aloud to my friends, fellow writers and artists, and they never failed to kind of gasp after I finished, cause they’d gotten punched in the gut too. I can’t recommend this book enough. I actually kept it out from the library because I want to re-read it.

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Jessica Darling, Ten Years Later

Ten years ago, I was shopping in a Books*A*Million with a friend of mine when a book glowed at me from a shelf maybe ten feet away. I’m not kidding. The book lit up and made a chiming sound that told my shy, bookish heart that it was a book for me and I should come fetch it right away.

That book was Sloppy Firsts, the first of of the Jessica Darling series, which starts out with an almost-16-year-old Jessica writing to her best friend Hope, who’s just moved. That was me when I was 16, moving from Georgia to Louisiana, writing to all my friends. So, even though I was was a bit older than Jessica in 2001, the first book and later, the rest of the series, seemed to eerily parallel my own experiences in that comforting, amazing way we all need from books when we’re younger (and maybe always).

So, when author Megan McCafferty sent out a newsletter offering interviews to 10 bloggers to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Sloppy Firsts, I jumped on the chance and sent her 10 questions. And she answered them!

With no further ado, here is my Q&A with Megan McCafferty:

Q: What do you think the Jessica Darling of Perfect Fifths would say to the Jessica Darling of Sloppy Firsts if they found themselves trapped on an elevator together?

A: “Don’t worry. You’ll end up right where you’re supposed to be.”

Q: What did Sloppy Firsts teach you as a writer?

A: Everything about writing a novel! Before SLOPPY FIRSTS, I had never written anything longer than a 10 page term paper.

Q: What is your favorite/most memorable fan story about Sloppy Firsts?

A: I’ve kept the first fan email I received from a reader in Indonesia. It’s still so surreal to me that young women growing up on the other side of the world see themselves in this angsty suburban New Jersey teenager.

Q: Do you remember where you were the first time you saw someone reading Sloppy Firsts (someone who was not related to you)?

A: Yes. I was picking up my son from daycare in the Fall of 2003 and I saw one of the high school YMCA volunteers reading SLOPPY FIRSTS during her break. I was so tempted to point and yell, “THAT’S MY BOOK!” but I refrained.

Q: What is you favorite thing about being a writer? What is your least favorite thing?

A: My favorite thing is hearing from readers how much my work has meant to them. My least favorite thing is the business of selling books, and worrying about my future in it.

Q: What inspired you to write [new novel] Bumped?

A: Everything in BUMPED is inspired by real life. The initial idea was inspired by the Gloucester High School “pregnancy pact.”

Q: Who were your favorite writers when you were 16 years old? Who are your favorite writers now?

A: When I was 16, I didn’t read many books because I was a magazine junkie. So my favorite writers were on the staff of SASSY. Now I’m lucky to consider some of my favorite writers as friends, including Gabrielle Zevin, Rachel Cohn and Carolyn Mackler.

Q: Which fictional character (not one of yours) would be Jessica Darling’s best friend? And which her arch-nemesis?

A: Samantha Baker from 16 Candles. Which would make Caroline Mulford from the same movie her enemy.

Q: Is there something about Jessica Darling’s character or history that you’ve always known that hasn’t ever been revealed in the books? (People are complex! Even fictional ones! Especially fictional ones!)

A: Absolutely! Just like there are things about me that not even my husband of 13 years knows about. There are always unknowable aspects to everyone….

Q: What do you think the Megan McCafferty of July 2001 would say to the current Megan McCafferty? What would you like to say to 2001 Megan if you could?

A: 2001 Megan to 2011 Megan: “Are the Backstreet Boys still together?”
2011 Megan to 2001 Megan:  “Start paying more attention to Justin Timberlake.”

Megan’s newest book is Bumped, a dystopian novel about 16-year-old twins in a society where wide-spread infertility has made teens the most prized members of society.

You still have the rest of today to enter Megan’s Epic 10th Anniversary Giving Away of Rare and One-of-a-Kind Stuff contest, so check it out.

Here are the links for the other blogger-fans and their interview posts are so funny and creative, I feel so lucky to have been included amongst them:

Anna Reads

Slatebreakers

The Reading Zone

Muggle-Born.net

Stuck in YA Books

Book, Line and Sinker (with photos of the 5 Wonders of Pineville)

I’ll link to the other interviews as they go up. Enjoy!!

[8.28.11 Update: HAPPY BIRTHDAY, SLOPPY FIRSTS AND JESSICA DARLING!]

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Emilie’s 2008 Best List

What a crazy year this has been. It’s the year that my big appetite for music became voracious and I sought out friends and resources to feed it. It’s the year that I “discovered” audio books as a natural result of driving for work – a lot. It’s the year I didn’t go to the theater as much as I used to, but everything came to DVD so much quicker. It’s the year I hoped to finish my book. It’s the year I started this blog.

This is a very personal best list, so the things that I’m highlighting as my favorites of 2008 may not have been released in 2008, just discovered by me in this year that’s soon to be past.

Books – 2008 is the year I read more nonfiction, romance and thriller than ever before, not to mention almost all of Jennifer Weiner and Jennifer Crusie, Spiderwick and Neverland and a lot of David Sedaris. Out of the almost 150 books I’ve read this year, my 15 favorites in roughly the order I read them:
1. His Dark Materials (3) Philip Pullman
2. Gregor and the Code of Claw, Suzanne Collins
3. When a Man Loves a Weapon (this will be released in 2009), Toni McGee Causey
4. Things I’ve Learned from Women Who’ve Dumped Me, Ed. Ben Karlin
5. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (about halfway through the year now), Junot Diaz
6. The Rescue Artist, Edward Dolnick
7. The Ruby Key, Holly Lisle
8. To Kill a Mockingbird (finally read this!), Harper Lee
9. Mr. Sebastian and the Negro Magician, Daniel Wallace
10. Calumet City, Charlie Newton
11. Finn, Jon Clinch
12. A Very Long Engagement, Sebastien Japrisot
13. Special Topics in Calamity Physics, Marisha Pessl
14. Unaccustomed Earth, Jhumpa Lahiri
15. The Wolfman, Nicholas Pekearo

Notables: Continued reading some of my favorite series – the “Alice” books by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, Louise Rennison’s Georgia Nicholson books, and Fourth Comings by Megan McCafferty. Also was blown away by a trio of historical romance writers – Gaelen Foley, Sherry Thomas and Suzanne Enoch, who gloriously re-invent the genre and write freaking well. Agnes and the Hitman and Faking It made me laugh myself hoarse. And I’ve been crazy about the Twilight series, of course, really impressed with how things wrapped up in Breaking Dawn.

Movies – I used to go to a movie by myself every Sunday, but that habit sadly went away. However, as a three year + member of Netflix, I still saw over 100 movies this year (and I did get to the theater some, of course). I’m going to try to approximate the order I saw them in.
1. Stardust
2. Once
3. Juno
4. Shoot ‘Em Up
5. Across the Universe
6. Wanted
7. Live Free or Die Hard
8. Dear Frankie
9. I’m Not There
10. Persepolis
11. Dark Knight
12. My Blueberry Nights
13. The Brave One
14. Penelope
15. Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day
16. Mamma Mia!
17. Wall*E – in some ways, my favorite of the year
18. Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist
19. Twilight
20. I Could Never Be Your Woman
21. Rachel Getting Married
22. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Notables: Much, much better than I’d heard/you’d think – Speed Racer, Good Luck Chuck and The Cutting Edge 3. 21 and Atonement almost made my list, so I guess that makes me a big James McAvoy fan.

TV – This was the year my t.v. became largely decorative. When I forgot how to hook the cables and wires back up after Gustav and relied almost entirely on watching t.v. on my computer. But the shows I love, I love all the more for it. No particular order here.
1. How I Met Your Mother
2. Bones (NOT happy it’s moving to Thursdays)
3. So You Think You Can Dance (Cat Deely’s the bomb, Joshua wasn’t my fav and we need DVD)
4. Survivor (yes, I still love this show)
5. In Plain Sight
6. Top Chef
7. Moonlight (NOT happy this got canceled)
8. Pushing Daisies (NOT happy this got canceled)

Notables: Big Bang Theory surprises me, whenever I manage to catch it, with how funny it is.

Music -This was the year of music. I’ve never been such an avid music listener and collector.
Singles –
1. Wagon Wheel, Old Crow Medicine Show (most listened to song in my iTunes)
2. Forever in Blue Jeans, Jason Castro (he wasn’t my favorite, but this stuck in my head)
3. Toxic, Yael Naim (cover of Britney, haunting and freaky)
4. Fake Is the New Real, Alice Smith
5. Johnny and June, Heidi Newfield
6. Be My Husband, Lisa Hannigan and Damien Rice
7. So What, Pink
8. Another Way to Die, Alicia Keyes and Jack White
9. American Boy, Estelle and Kanye
10. Just Like a Woman, Charlotte Gainsbourg
11. Holding Out for a Hero, Frou Frou
12. Are You Strong Enough to Be My Man, Sheryl Crow
13. You Got Growing Up to Do, Patty Griffin and Joshua Radin
14. Echo, Cyndi Lauper
15. Comes Love, Billie Holiday
16. Whatever Lola Wants, Ella Fitzgerald
17. Love Song, Sara Bareilles
18. See You Again, Miley Cyrus (say what you want, but this song is catchy and cool)
20. Missed Me, Dresden Dolls
19. Hide and Seek, Imogen Heap
20. Arms of a Woman, Amos Lee
21. Lilac Wine, Katie Melua
22. Do I Move You, Nina Simone
23. Hurt, Johnny Cash

CDs –
1. Across the Universe soundtrack (oh glorious TV Carpio, put out a cd already! Dana Fuchs!)
2. Juno soundtrack
3. Once soundtrack
4. Acid Tongue, Jenny Lewis
5. Volume 1, She & Him
6. Black Snake Moan soundtrack

Performers, period –
1. Patty Griffin – I’m delirious over Patty Griffin
2. Jenny Lewis
3. Lucinda Williams
4. Emmylou Harris
5. Allison Moorer
6. The White Stripes, Jack White notably
7. The Dresden Dolls
8. Roisin Murphy
9. Katie Herzig
10. Sugarland
11. Krista Detor

Notables: My love for Nina Simone, Johnny Cash, The Magnetic Fields, Cake and The Beatles, always vibrant, has been renewed. I grew to really appreciate Kanye West (though my first love for him came after his infamous quote after Katrina). And I learned that, as amusing as I find it when my neighbor M. sings the lyrics to “Ding, Ding, Dong,” I am NOT a fan of Gunther.

Websites – These are the websites I checked every day in 2008, once I knew about them!
1. Post Secret
2. I Am Fuel, You Are Friends
3. Living With Music – writers blog about music!
4. GalleyCat – how could I leave this one off?
5. Wikipedia
6. imdb
7. cdbaby
8. Amazon
9. Craigslist
10. YouTube

My Favorite Things – What I’ve been loving this year
1. Favorite Home Away from Home – Cheers, my coffeeshop
2. Friends – you know who you are and likely, you’ve introduce me to a lot of great music and food this year. I love you for it, this year and all years.
3. Family – for the pictures, the drama and the support.
4. Local Music – The Zydepunks, The New Orleans Bingo! Show, Loose Marbles and Gal Holiday
5. Food – the roast beef po’boy at Parkway just may be my favorite thing I’ve eaten this year
6. Lessons – dancing, parallel parking, how to be a better writer (friends again, thank you)
7. Libraries – Nola and BR, so very excited about having multiple library cards
8. Writing – NaNoWriMo, PerNoWriMo, Write or Die, Jamey
9. Epiphany – being excited and finding others who’re also excited about the same things.
10. City – New Orleans. Of course and always.

That’s it, Emilie’s Top List for 2008. Enjoy. Argue. Applaud. Whatever. 🙂

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Emily the Strange and Cyber Space

I’m amused this morning to see Emily the Strange and Lauren Conrad side by side on the main page of MySpace. Oh what a world we live in.

And in my inbox, Megan McCafferty’s newsletter showing me the cover and synopsis of the fifth and final Jessica Darling novel, Perfect Fifths. These books have pretty much shadowed me at every turn of my growing up so far, since I read the first one, Sloppy Firsts. And I read an amusing blog from McCafferty on her Fifteen Minutes on Facebook and MySpace. I feel like that pretty much every day, but I will persevere on in this cyber space.

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