Category Archives: readergirlz

December is Compassion at readergirlz

December’s theme at readergirlz is Compassion. Perfect, yes? All month long, you’ll find fantastic recommended reads on this theme, with inspiring discussions at the blog. So join in.

Coinciding with the theme is a fantastic initiative that is perfect for the holidays. Readergirlz and First Book are partnering to see that more than 125, 000 new (and fabulous) books get into the hands of low-income teen readers. You can help by spreading the word, so that organizations that work with teens (schools, after-school programs, church youth groups, community centers, etc.) can benefit from this wonderful opportunity. All of the info that you need to get the word out, is right here, at the blog.

Shout it out!


readergirlz October: LAINI TAYLOR!

Readergirlz has a pretty hot fall happening. In September, our featured author was Maureen Johnson. For October, Laini Taylor is hanging out all month long, chatting away at the readergirlz blog. That is mega exciting news, because Laini is funny and clever and a brilliant writer of stories. If you haven’t read Lips Touch Three Times don’t wait even a second. Run out to the nearest bookstore / library and snag a copy. You will fall in love with Laini’s lush writing and incredibly imaginative world-building. I adored this book. Read my review here, and then check out the great interview I did with Laini last winter, then join us for the twitter chat on October 20th.

Love is in the air!

Tell Me a Secret Trailer Launch

Today is launch day for Holly Cupala’s Tell Me a Secret book trailer. Let’s get straight to it:


In true party style, there are prizes to be snagged! Such as…

Signed TMAS books!
TMAS t-shirts!

Fan-made bracelets by Hannah S!
Music that inspired the book!
Sneak Previews!
Bookmarks and Handmade Magnets!


A Tell Me a Secret handmade necklace made by Gypsy Wings! See:

HOW TO WIN? Share the Trailer Love!

  1. Click here to go to YouTube, then click the Share button to send to your Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, or blog! 5 pts each
  2. Click here to tell us where you posted and enter to win!

Happy trailer day Holly! Don’t forget you can chat with Holly all month long at readergirlz.

Tell Me a Secret Blog Tour

I’m delighted to welcome Holly Cupala, debut author of Tell Me a Secret, to Shelf Elf for a stop on her Worldwide Blog Tour. She is funny, she is cool, and she is super-talented. Welcome Holly! The theme for our interview today is “The Secrets Behind Tell Me a Secret.”

What do you think are some of the secrets to success as a YA author?

Goodness, I wish I knew! When I was early in the learning process of writing, I would go to every conference, workshop, and class in the hopes of finding out the secret to writing. I definitely learned a lot from such amazing writers as Kirby Larson, Janet Lee Carey, Randy Powell, and others, but there was no one secret to writing. Just giving yourself time and space to figure out the process, that’s a secret. From there you can write the best story it is possible for you to write, and hope it strikes a chord with readers. I think it’s also good to connect with them. The TMAS readers have been amazingly wonderful!

What’s your secret cure for writer’s block?

I have one now! I used to be hopeless at overcoming it, especially with Tell Me a Secret—perhaps because it was a very intense novel to write. The hounds of doubt were always biting at my heels. For the second novel (which is nearly as intense but less personal), I discovered I could outrun the hounds! It was quite by accident—during the half-NANO (that’s my half-cheeked way of tackling National Novel Writing Month), I was way behind. One day I decided to write 5K words, and I set the timer for 15 minutes with a goal of 300 words. I wrote 450! I kept it up for the rest of the day and ended up surpassing my goal. I thought it was a fluke until it happened again, and friends joined in.

Tell Me a Secret took four years to write (with lots of stops and starts). Street Creed (tentative title, for Fall 2011) took four months. I’m hoping the third book will take four weeks…

Your most essential, secret snack while writing is…

Trader Joe’s strawberry licorice. I could eat barrels of the stuff and try not to, because I have clothes to squeeze into!

What scene/moment/character came to you first before you actually started writing your novel?

The whole novel idea—characters, major plot points, conflicts—came to me in an instant, like a movie trailer in my mind. I’m kind of an overview person, so the details, how to get from scene to scene, came a little at a time. I didn’t have a handle on Miranda’s voice until she spoke to me in the middle of the night (rather inconvenient, since I was a sleep-deprived new mom). The first sentence popped into my head, and suddenly I knew exactly who she was. I got up to write and ended up writing what are now the first three or four pages of the novel.

What was secretly the hardest part about writing this book?

Because it grew out of some difficult events in my own life, I think the writing process was painful but necessary. I’d always envisioned TMAS as a story about hope, and I remember when it turned that corner. Such a happy day! Conflict and dialogue are immensely difficult for me to write. I really loved the secret moments of comedy—the Q-tip costumes, the tuna sandwich, the Thanksgiving turkey. I hope readers like those little moments of joy!

What are the 5 things (ideas / books / songs / objects / people) that most inspired you as you were writing TMAS?

Ideas: you can’t find yourself in other people, and the reasons for life-changing events may be in the future and not in the past.
Books: Speak and Weetzie Bat. Lots more, but I’ll leave it at that!
Songs: *Splashdown’s “Ironspy,” Universal Hall Pass’ “Katrina Josephina,” lots more.
Objects: labyrinths, birds, doors.
People: Oooh, I could get in trouble for this, right? A couple of characters were a tiny bit inspired by real people, but not people I know. (Sorry, it’s a secret.) 😉

*Here’s a secret: the soon-to-be-released book trailer will feature a Splashdown song!

We’d love to know about a scene that didn’t make it to the final draft. Is there a scene that was especially hard to let go of, or perhaps one that you were happy to toss out during editing?

I will read it to you! I loved it because it showed the dynamics of Miranda’s family when her sister Xanda was still alive, and it always made me laugh.

What do you secretly hope readers will take away from your book?

I think the ideas in question #6—you can’t find yourself in other people, and sometimes reasons may be in the future and not the past. To me, those are revolutionary ideas that continue to fascinate me, even into the next book.

Thank you so much for inviting me to visit Shelf Elf! I invite you all to comment here and at my blog for chances to win this week’s prizes: signed books, t-shirt, music and more!

(Told you folks that she’s delightful, didn’t I?) Thank you for making a stop here Holly, and all the best with Tell Me a Secret and all the stories still to come!

Tell Me a Secret

Tell Me a Secret is readergirlz diva Holly Cupala’s debut YA novel, and it establishes her as a talented new voice in YA, worth following.

Miranda Mathison’s sister died five years ago, and since then, Miranda (Rand) has never stopped wondering what really happened the night Xanda died. Still, she’s ready to pursue her dream of becoming an artist, she has great friends and a fantastic new boyfriend. All of this changes when she finds out she’s pregnant. Suddenly she has to make the most difficult choices of her life, and she finds that she must face the past to shape her future.

Cupala’s novel focuses mostly on a topic that I believe to be overdone for this audience, but the writing is accomplished and the emotional intensity of the narrative never flags, taking what could be just another book about teen pregnancy to a much more nuanced and satisfying place. Tell Me a Secret is a page-turner. You will be drawn in by the voice. I enjoyed how the past and present intertwine in a way that helps readers to understand Rand’s identity and motivation more deeply. I believed in her reaction to her situation. Xanda was well-developed for a character who existed only in her sister’s memory. She was a real presence. I think it is easy for a novel about teen pregnancy to quickly turn predictable or overdone, but I didn’t feel this with Cupala’s book.

I would have liked to have had more Kamran (love interest / mysteriously wonderful boy character). I think the story could have slowed down in the beginning when they were falling for each other. There could have been even more about their initial bond so that you could believe in the strength of their early relationship a bit more, before things crumbled. *Spoiler* I thought that mom’s reversal at the end stretched believability, since she was a supreme witch from the start. The turnaround was difficult to accept, and seemed too happy-ending-ish to feel right, given the tone of the book to that point.

Small things though, in a story that is sure to satisfy teens for its emotional force and intense subject matter. Tell Me a Secret is about discovering who you are, goodness, betrayal and being true. Join in at readergirlz in August, when it will be the featured title all month long.

Tell Me a Secret is published by Harper Teen.

Rockin’ Operation Teen Book Drop (with an accomplice)

Today is Operation Teen Book Drop, and if you haven’t dropped a book yet, or bought one to support a tribal library, it’s not too late. Visit readergirlz for all the details and then join our Post-Op party tonight at 6pm PST, ppm EST.

I enlisted an accomplice to accomplish my drop today. My fella is a high school teacher, so I figured he was the best way to get the most books into teens’ hands to celebrate Teen Literature Day.

He even attached the bookplates and took photos of all of the drops.

Here are some of the pictures:

And hey look! A real live readerguy snagging one of those awesome titles:

And that’s how it’s done.

Happy TBD day!

Operation Teen Book Drop

It’s an extra-exciting week because Operation Teen Book Drop week has arrived!

Don’t know about this amazing book event? Read all about Operation TBD 2010, from readergirlz:

“In 2008 and 2009, readergirlz (, Guys Lit Wire (, and YALSA orchestrated publishers’ donations of nearly 20,000 new young adult books to hospitalized teens across the country. For 2010, If I Can Read I Can Do Anything has joined forces with these three organizations to drop over 10,000 new YA books, donated by publishers, into the hands of teens on Native American tribal lands. Nationwide, librarians, over 100 YA authors, and teens will drop YA books in their own communities on April 15th, 2010, to raise awareness for Operation TBD 2010 and Support Teen Literature Day.”

Isn’t that the coolest? Don’t you want to get involved? Yes and yes.

Over at Guys Lit Wire, here are Colleen’s instructions for purchase:

“First, hit the Powells site and on the upper right click on “wish list”. From there you will be prompted for the email address of the list owner. Type in “”. You will then be given the choice to select either Ojo Encino or Alchesay. Once you are looking at the lists (which contain hundreds of titles) you can make your selection of a new, used, or sale copy. After your done and ready to make your purchase you will be asked to confirm that you are buying books for a certain wishlist. Checking those boxes will keep the lists up to date and prevent books from appearing as unsold even after they were purchased. Now all you have to do is enter the mailing addresses, and here they are:

Mary Nickless
Ojo Encino Day School Librarian
HCR 79 Box 7
Cuba, NM 87013
(505) 731-2333

Marilyn Hill
Alchesay High School
200 Falcon Way
Whiteriver, AZ 85941

So go donate. Then join us on Thursday, April 15th at the readergirlz blog for the post-op party.

readergirlz April

Phew! And I thought March was busy at readergirlz. Well. It turns out that March was just a warm up for the fabulousness that is April.

April’s featured title is Deb Caletti’s, The Secret Life of Prince Charming. It is a charmer, a book that will make you laugh and really make you think about relationships, what love looks like, and what family means. Kirkus said, “The author excels at getting to the heart of her protagonists’ mixed-up emotions, and her fans will not be disappointed.” I second that. I listened to Deb’s book, and I recommended the audiobook here. You should read it or listen to it (or both!) so that you can join in at the blog all month long for great chats with Deb. I have a feeling she is going to be funny and insightful. Our live chat with Deb will take place on April 21st at the blog at 6 pm PST, 9 pm EST. To get you into the spirit of chatting about Deb’s book, visit the lively roundtable discussion with the readergirlz gang at Little Willow’s.

But before that, there’s one of readergirlz’s biggest annual events: Operation Book Drop. (I can hear the cheers. I can). For those who haven’t participated in the past, here’s the dealio, straight from the divas themselves:

On Thursday, April 15th, 2010, we – the combined efforts of readergirlz, Guys Lit Wire, YALSA, and If I Can Read I Can Do Anything – will be dropping over 10,000 new YA books, donated by publishers, into the hands of teens on Native American tribal lands. Nationwide, librarians, over 100 YA authors, and teens will drop YA books in their own communities. Participants can download bookplates to insert into the books they’ll leave behind. That night at 6 PM PST / 9 PM EST, everyone will join an online TBD Post-Op party at the readergirlz blog.

Got it? Thursday, April 15th, Operation Drop Day + post-op party at the readergirlz blog. View the groovy OBD trailer:

Finally (yes, there’s even more goodness), on Monday, April 12th we have another live chat, this time with author Diane Duane at the blog at 9pm EST.


I heart April at readergirlz.

March events at readergirlz: Scott Westerfeld & Elizabeth Scott

March is set to be a stellar month at readergirlz. Our featured author is Scott Westerfeld (of Uglies, Pretties, Specials, Extras and more). We’ll be chatting about his latest novel, the fabulously steampunk-y Leviathan. Visit the readergirlz blog all month long and then join in the chat on March 17th at 6pm PST and 9pm EST. There are so many reasons to pick up this book, but one of the biggest reasons in my view is the amazing interior artwork by Keith Thompson. Wow. The illustrations are phenomenal and add so much to the mood of the novel.

If you swing by Scott’s blog, you can explore some Leviathan goodies, including the full first chapter of the audiobook, read by Alan Cumming. (Perfect casting choice, yes?)

Here’s the trailer, to get you in the spirit:

But before we get to that sure-to-be-action-packed chat, we have another treat, a chat with readergirlz author-in-residence, Elizabeth Scott (who is darling and oh-so-clever and funny) on March 5th. You don’t want to be anywhere else.

readergirlz January 2010: E. Lockhart

What better way to bring in 2010 than by hanging out with one of the smartest writers for teens in the business? I am super excited to cheer for E. Lockhart, featured author for January at readergirlz! The theme this month is Risk-Taking, and the book that we will be discussing throughout the month is her much-praised novel, The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, which is bound to initiate some interesting conversation, I should think.

If you haven’t met Frankie, you need to do that, straight away. Start off by reading my review.

Now look at all the awards this book has claimed: Finalist for the 2008 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature. Printz Honor, American Library Association, Cybils Award for best young adult novel, Publishers Weekly Best Books of the Year list, Richie’s Picks Best of 2008 List, Tayshas List, 2009, NY Times Notable Children’s Book list, 2008, School Library Journal Best Books of the Year, 2008, Library Journal’s list of Seattle Public Library’s Fiction Favorites of 2008, Chicago Public Library’s Best of the Best List, Washington Post Best Kids Books of the Year, Booklist Editors’ Choice, Morning News Tournament of Books, 2009, SLJ Tournament of Kids Books, Rhode Island Teen Book Awards Finalist, YALSA Top Teen Pick for 2009.

But that isn’t why you should read it. You should read it because it is hilarious. And smart. And Frankie is so clever. She is a girl to inspire you to do things in 2010, that’s for sure.

For answers to many FAQs about E. Lockhart, click here. (You’ll learn that E. stands for Emily, and Emily’s career of choice if she wasn’t a classy, talented writer would be: baker. You’ll learn lots more too). You might also wish to read Emily’s 2008 interview with the YA YA YAs, where she answers some questions about Frankie.

Now, just for fun (and as further proof of the kind of zany/funny gal E. Lockhart is), take this quiz she wrote: What Teen Angst Novel are You? (I am Catcher in the Rye – who knew?)

Join E. Lockhart all month long at the readergirlz blog, and then chat with her live on January 20th at 6pm PST, 9pm EST.