Saturday, February 28, 2009

Faeries of Dreamdark: Blackbringer by Laini Taylor Book Review

Faeries of Dreamdark: Blackbringer by Laini Taylor
(Putnam, Hardcover, 2008)

Magpie Windwitch is an unusual faery. She flies around the world, catching devils. Something that hasn't been done since the Djinn's champion, Bellatrix, disappeared thousands of years ago. When her latest adventure leads her back to Dreamdark, the place of her birth, Magpie is reunited with her old friends Poppy Merryweather and Snoshti. As Magpie tries to catch Blackbringer, the devil that is wreaking havoc on Dreamdark, she is confronted by a forgotten past and a task that will determine the future of the faeries.

I have to say that this is one of the best fantasy stories that I've ever read (and I'm not just saying that because Laini was on the Cybils panel with me!). This is the type of book that I would have carried around with me everywhere at the age of 10. I would have dog eared the pages and written spin-off stories of Dreamdark. Magpie's story is drenched in magic - the characters, the setting, the spells, it's all so carefully crafted and fantastically wrought. Magpie herself is just the type of spunky character that I love. She's brave, modest, and full of heart. In addition to the wonderful Magpie, this story is brimming with many fascinating side characters. From Talon, the warrior prince who can't fly, to the band of crows that Magpie flies with to the scavenger imp that sticks his toes in his nose for safekeeping, each character was fully realized and added much to Magpie's tale.

Another wonderful aspect of the book was the drawings. Blackbringer is illustrated by Laini's husband, Jim Di Bartolo . (How do you have enough creative control to pick your illustrator? I want to know!) The illustrations are so detailed and perfect for the book, I just wished there were more. Every time I came to an illustration in the book, I would think, Wow, wouldn't it be awesome to have a framed print of this? Jim is also doing the illustrations for the sequel, Silksinger, which will be out this fall. The picture at the top is of the hardcover version of Blackbringer and the picture down below is of the paperback version. Both are really cool and I especially love the title drawing on the paperback version.

In short, add this book to your collection now! And put Silksinger on your wishlist. While you wait for Silksinger, take a look at Laini's blog . It's full of fun posts about writing and life.

Ten Cents a Dance by Christine Fletcher Book Review

Ten Cents a Dance by Christine Fletcher
(Bloomsbury, Hardcover, 2008)

Ruby's family used to be pretty well off until her father died. Then her mother worked long hours in the factory to make ends meet. When Ruby's mother can no longer work in the factory, Ruby must quit school and start earning money for the family. Factory work is not the future that Ruby envisioned for herself, so when bad boy Paulie Suelze suggests that Ruby work as a taxi dancer, she jumps at the chance. Pretty soon, she's working at the Starlight Dance Academy, teaching boys the Lindy Hop for ten cents a dance and lying to her mom about her job.

There are certain books that just sweep you away in the language and feeling of a time period and Ten Cents a Dance is one of those books. Set on the brink of World War II in a Chicago that was teeming with jazz music, this novel is like opening a door into a forgotten time period. One in which gangsters ruled the streets, swing music spilled out of every corner club, and respectable women didn't dance in those clubs. Ruby is tenacious, proud, and attracted to bad boys. Basically, she's like a lot of us today. I had never heard of taxi dancers before reading this book, so it was interesting to hear about a bit of American history that isn't taught in classrooms. Ruby's story isn't necessarily a happy story; it is powerful, though, and I highly recommend it to fans of historical fiction and gutsy heroines.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Fade by Lisa McMann Book Review

Fade by Lisa McMann
(Simon Pulse, Hardcover, 2009)

Janie's ability to slip into other people's dreams continues but she finally has a name for her "talent" - dream catcher. Along with a name, Janie also has a job with the local police department. She and her boyfriend Caleb are undercover agents at Fieldridge High. Their new assignment is to catch a sexual predator posing as a teacher. Janie isn't safe from the predator or from her dream catching.

I devoured the first novel in this series, Wake, and Fade was no exception. Again, the present tense storytelling really caught my attention. Janie's story is so much more immediate in the present tense. This book is obviously a little darker than the first book since it focuses on a sexual predator. Heightening that darkness and urgency is a series of diaries written by Martha Stubin, Janie's dream catcher teacher. The diaries reveal more about Janie's abilities and the fate that awaits her. This was definitely a haunting novel and it sets the scene perfectly for Book 3, without leaving too much of a cliffhanger. Cabel's character continued to thrill me. He's just so dark and tortured - I really hope that Book 3 explores his character a little more. Also, I just can't help but hope that Janie's abilities prove to be stronger than Martha Stubin's.


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

My Fair Godmother by Janette Rallison Book Review

My Fair Godmother by Janette Rallison
(Hardcover, January 2009)


Savannah used to have a pretty perfect life...until her smarty pants sister stole her cute, intelligent boyfriend. Now Savannah has a fair godmother trying to fix her problems. Why not a fairy godmother? Well, Chrissy, the godmother, didn't exactly excel in Fairy Godmother school. In fact, her grades were merely fair. So Savannah is stuck in the Middle Ages, caught somewhere between Snow White, Cinderella, and the dashing young storyteller, Tristan, who Chrissy also transported to the Middle Ages.
"It's all part of the deluxe prom package Savannah ordered."
Fairy tale retellings are some of my favorite stories. It's so fascinating to see how different authors twist the age old tales into something new. Normally, there's some new lesson to be learned, some new moral to be pondered over. In My Fair Godmother, there is a new moral. It's just buried under Chrissy's poor attempts at fairy godmotherhood. Savannah's three wishes aren't very well thought out and it was hilarious seeing how Chrissy interpreted them. I read this book on a plane and the guy next to me kept giving me weird looks because I was constantly laughing out loud. My Fair Godmother is an irreverent, playful take on the godmother myth and my only complaint is that I want to know more about Chrissy and her Fairy Godmother School. So, Ms. Rallison, please won't you write another fair godmother book?

Sunday, February 15, 2009

The ABC's of Kissing Boys by Tina Ferraro Book Review

The ABC's of Kissing Boys by Tina Ferraro
(Delacorte Press, Paperback, 2009)

Parker will do just about anything to make the varsity soccer team. So when her older brother and his best friend come up with a scheme involving a kissing booth, Parker is all in. There's only one small problem...Parker has to make the kiss look convincing and, even though she's a junior in high school, she's never really kissed a guy before. So she enlists the help of her next door neighbor, Tristan, even though he's only a freshman.

My favorite part about this book was the chapter headings. Each chapter title is devoted to one letter of the alphabet and gives a short lesson on kissing. For example, "Quixotic: Take the lead from Don Quixote: when it comes to a kiss, there's no such thing as too romantic." The book takes its cue from these light-hearted lessons and is a fun, upbeat read. Some of the plot elements were a little far-fetched (we all know that it is social suicide to date someone two grades younger than you). As long as you're willing to excuse a little creative plotting, you'll enjoy this hilarious, romantic novel. My favorite addition was the Romeo & Juliet side plot - who knew feuding neighbors could take their lawn care so seriously?

One last chapter heading to give you an idea of this book's playfulness...most reviewers have mentioned this one as their favorite: "Graduation: For many girls, great kissing is a diploma in itself; for many guys, it's a prerequisite to a bigger course of study." Ahh, so true. :-)


Friday, February 13, 2009

He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven: A Poetry Friday Post

He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven
by W.B. Yeats

Had I the heavens' embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

Aww, I'm a sucker for sweet love poems.  Happy Valentine's Day!   ;-)

To learn more about Poetry Friday and to see this week's Poetry Friday round-up, visit Big A little a .

Meet the Panelists : Laini from Grow Wings

Only 1 day until the Cybils Awards are announced!  To get you excited, I'm featuring a Fantasy & Science Fiction panelist (or two) every day until the awards are announced. Our last installment of Meet the Panelist spotlights Laini from Grow Wings.  Laini is the author of the fabulous Faeries of Dreamdark: Blackbringer and she brought lots of great input on writing to our discussons.  I visited her blog for the first time in October when I found out that she was on the panel.  Now it's one of my favorite blogs to read!

When did you start blogging and why?
I started blogging three years ago, when I'd sold my first novel, Blackbringer, but the pub date was still many months away. I've found an amazing community and so many kindred spirits who care about the same things I do. Blogging makes it possible for people to find their *tribe* in a way we're not all so lucky to do in our *real lives.*
What are some of your favorite posts that you did?
I'm fond of this post, about my first talk as an "author" at ALA (it's about fantasy).
I also post very short pieces of fiction on my blog, of which this is a favorite.
What was your favorite part about being a Cybils panelist?
The avalanche of books in the mail was great, of course, and the couple of live chats at the very end were so much fun! I was really glad to experience the awards process from the inside -- it was fascinating to see how opinions of a book could differ so dramatically.
Any advice for future panelists?
Clear your schedule. It's a huge time commitment! Don't fool yourself.
What books are you looking forward to this year?
I can't wait to read Catching Fire, the sequel to The Hunger Games, as well as Wise Man's Fear, the sequel to The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss, which is adult fantasy and an incredible book. Of course, I'm *most* excited about the release of my own two new books, Dreamdark: Silksinger (middle-grade), and Lips Touch (YA).
Why do you blog about teen books?
My blog isn't specifically a book blog; I blog about writing and art and life, but I like to take the opportunity to try to win over readers to YA who might not already be reading it. I only really found my own voice as a writer after I let go of my college-workshop expectations about "adult literary fiction" and embraced the kinds of books I really love, which are mostly fantasy, and quite often YA. When a fantasy or YA title hits big, like Harry Potter or Twilight, it excites me that people might dip into those sections at the bookstore or library and discover most wonderful books. Sadly, in my experience, too many readers don't do that -- they reread Harry Potter and Twilight instead!! It's really frustrating. 
If you were a Cybils judge, which category would you like to judge?
I think our category is the best -- I don't know if I'd want to judge any other categories!
Where is your favorite place to read?
I don't have a magical reading nook, though some time in my life I shall create one. A tower room with a comfy daybed covered in patchwork quilts, maybe. Or a perfect armchair on a porch facing the sea. A drifting rowboat in a small lake. A witch's cottage in the woods.
Having read so many science fiction and fantasy books, do you have any suggestions for authors in those genres?
The books that stand out when I think about what I want to read AGAIN are the ones set in unique, fully imagined fantasy worlds: D.M. Cornish's Monster Blood Tattoo series (I LOVED Lamplighter) and James Kennedy's The Order of Odd-Fish, which I'm sad did not make the short-list. A lot of fantasy worlds are so "been there, read that," and I love to discover a writer who brings something new to the table. When you read a lot of genre books at a time, so many of them melt together and don't stand out. 
Thanks so much for answering my questions, Laini.  And congratulations!!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Meet the Panelists : Amanda from Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs

Only 2 days until the Cybils Awards are announced!  To get you excited, I'm featuring a Fantasy & Science Fiction panelist (or two) every day until the awards are announced.  Today's Meet the Panelist is Amanda from Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs .  Amanda was a great addition to our panel because she reads all over the kidlit map.  She was also a good indicator of what books were waiting in the mail for us since she always seemed to get the boxes first!

When did you start blogging and why?
I kept a handy dandy notebook of what I read for years, but sometimes it wasn't with me when I wanted it and I thought a blog would always be online for when I was traveling or away from notebook (notebooks really - I have 5 thick full ones in the archive).  My blog is just a glorified reading log. When I discovered the kidlitosphere of bloggers, I was blown away by some of blogs out there.
What are some of your favorite posts?
I like giving myself challenges and the blog is a good way to stay accountable. For 8 months or so I read an animal fiction chapter each month featuring a different kind of animal - gerbils, ducks, bears, foxes, bats. I had a lot of fun looking for a different kind of critter starring in an appealing chapter book. I was going to do this challenge for a year, but then there was a looooooong list of Cybils nominees to read and I fell off the animal fiction wagon.
What was your favorite part about being a Cybils panelist?
A ready made reading list and a whole bunch of cool book junkies to discuss it with. . . what's not to love?
Any advice for future panelists?
Start reading as soon as you can and read as much as you can! There's never enough time to read it all (unless you read like the wind - still in awe of Charlotte's total books read for the panel - WOW!)
Why do you blog about teen books?
Teen years have all that heightened emotion and angst which is fun. Plus, I swear some of the BEST writers out there are writing YA these days. I just love these books.
If you were a Cybils judge, which category would you like to judge?
Fantasy/Sci-Fi is probably a perfect fit for me. I love reading speculative fiction, dystopia, supernatural romance, and high fantasy.
Where is your favorite place to read?
On trains and buses. . . you get to go somewhere with the author of your book while getting somewhere in the real world.
Thanks for stopping by and sharing your experiences with us, Amanda!

Meet the Panelists : Charlotte from Charlotte's Library

Only 2 days until the Cybils Awards are announced!  To get you excited, I'm featuring a Fantasy & Science Fiction panelist (or two) every day until the awards are announced. Up next in our Meet the Panelists series is Charlotte from Charlotte's Library.  I like to think of her as Charlotte the Speed Reader.  Out of the 161 books nominated in our category, Charlotte read a whopping 124 of them!  (For comparison, I was only able to read about 80 books during our alloted reading period.)  When we discussed books that we'd read, I almost always found myself agreeing with Charlotte, so now I peruse her blog for books to add to my reading list.  Enjoy this insight into Charlotte the Super Reader's world and be sure to scroll down to the end of the interview for Charlotte's Cybils Fantasy/Sci-Fi awards predictions!

When did you start blogging and why?
I started blogging about two years ago.  I had been spending a fair amount of time reading other people's blogs, looking for books to read (being a fast reader, this has been a problem for most of my life), and decided that I wanted to be part of the fun myself.  It has worked--I now always have at least five books waiting to be read, a long wish list, and a comforting feeling of book safety.
What was your favorite part about being a Cybils panelist?
I am rather, um, competitive, and so although I absolutely loved the camaraderie of being part of a truly great panel, and felt bereft when our work was over, and although I loved getting lots of books in the mail (I use my work address, in case of rain, and it made going to work everyday more Hopeful), one thing I really liked was looking at the stats of number of books read, and fiercely trying to read more. 
Any advice for future panelists?
If you want to be on the science fiction/fantasy or ya panel, start reading now.  Start putting library holds in the moment nominations start coming in--you will be getting lots from the publishers, but don't waste a moment of reading time while waiting for that to happen.  It was rather sad that a book I had been looking forward to didn't come from the library until after we had made our final decisions.  
 What books are you looking forward to this year?
I have a couple of posts up about this, including a list of science fiction/fantasy books by debut authors--lots of neat looking stuff.

One of the great thing about all my Cybils reading is that I met a host of new authors, many of whom have more books on the way!  Up next in my pile is The Farwalker's Quest, by Jodi Sensel (who wrote the Cybils nominated Humming of Numbers), which just arrived today!
Here are the links:

Why do you blog about teen books?
Because I like teen books better than grown up ones.  I like books that lift me out of the quotidian world, with unexpected twists and turns and a bit of romance and not too much Politics or Violence or boring grown up stuff, that aren't too long.  I have better luck with YA then elsewhere.  Although I think I am going to make an effort to read the books shortlisted for the Nebula, to see what I'm missing.
I also like blogging about middle grade books, and whatever has struck the fancy of my children...
If you were a Cybils judge, which category would you like to judge?
Last year, I was a young adult panelist, and although I enjoyed it, I found science fiction/fantasy much more varied, and fun, and interesting.  So that's the category I'd stick to.
Where is your favorite place to read?
I have always made sure that everywhere I lived, if possible, there would be one comfortable chair that got morning light coming in from behind me and one comfortable chair that got afternoon light.  I even arranged my doll house so as to make sure the dolls would be able to read comfortably.  Writing this, I realize that the two least happy years of my life were spent without access to comfy chairs.
I am looking forward to finding out who the winners are. Here are my bets:  Graveyard Book in middle grade, and Hunger Games in YA.  

And I'd also like to take this opportunity to thank all the fabulous folks who don't get the packages of the books in the mail, but without whom there would be no Cybils--Anne, and Kelly, and Sarah, and Sheila.
Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions, Charlotte!  And we'll have to check back in on Saturday and see if your predications were right!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Meet the Panelists : Nettle from The Puck in the Midden

Only 3 days until the Cybils Awards are announced!  To get you excited, I'm featuring a Fantasy & Science Fiction panelist (or two) every day until the awards are announced.  For our third installment of Meet the Panelists, I'd like you to meet Nettle from The Puck in the Midden .  Nettle was so much fun to work with because she always brought tons of insight and liveliness to our email exchanges.  To give a nod to her blog's namesake, the world of Cybils paneling (is paneling a word??) would have been a very gray place without her.

When did you start blogging and why?
I've been blogging for nearly eight years now (I seriously can't believe it's been that long) but most of that time has been a much more personal sort of blog.  I've been book blogging for about two years, though.  I started because I read so much that I wanted a way to keep track of what I read and how I felt about it--and it became a really interesting conversation about YA and kidlit and what makes a good book.
What was your favorite part about being a Cybils panelist?
I'd be lying if I didn't say the free books are wonderful :D.  But seriously, my real favorite part was getting to discuss the books that I was reading and loving in real time with my fellow panelists.  I really lucked out with a group of six other interesting, opinionated and fun book bloggers--my favorite days were the ones where we were having animated email conversations back and forth, discussing the books that got us the most excited.  Especially when we disagreed.
I also really loved discovering some books that I probably never would have read otherwise.  Rachel Neumeier's The City in the Lake, Lauren Mechling's Dream Girl, Ellen Booraem's The Unnameables--just a few of the books that surprised and delighted me.  There were all sorts of books that I discovered because of the Cybils.
Any advice for future panelists?
Be sure you can devote lots and lots and lots of time to reading before signing up for this.  In the past, I have done NaNoWriMo every year, and I was still planning on doing it this year--up until the second days of November when I realized that I was trying to do two insane projects in one month: write 50,000 words of a novel AND read as many of 160 books as I could in two months.  It was literally keeping me up at night worrying about how I could manage both (not to mention my job and real life, and little things like that!)  So I made the decision to put my beloved NaNo aside for this year and to devote my energies to reading as much as I can.
I don't regret that decision for a second.  But I would have been better off if I had planned it a little better going in.
What books are you looking forward to this year?
One of the books I was most looking forward to--Bones of Faerie by Janni Lee Simner--just hit the shelves, and it totally lived up to my expectations.  The other book I'm excited for is Carrie Ryan's The Forest of Hands and Teeth.  (Are you noticing a theme?  I'm a sucker for any kind of post-apocalyptic or dystopic fiction.)  I am also hugely psyched for Sarah Beth Durst's new book Ice, based on the East of the Sun, West of the Moon fairy tale, and the sequel to Patrick Ness's heartbreaking Knife of Never Letting Go.  And of course, Catching Fire, the second book in the Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.
Why do you blog about teen books?
The majority of my reading material is teen and middle-grade fiction, so of course that's what I write about.  I find that these days especially are the golden age of YA fiction.  There's so much available right now, so much that's stellar and well-written and just really original and groundbreaking.  I'm really enjoying watching talented writers stretch and expand the boundaries of the genre.
If you were a Cybils judge, which category would you like to judge?
This is an easy one for me.  Fantasy and Science Fiction for sure.  I'd be more than happy to judge YA Fiction or Middle Grade Fiction too, but FSF has always been my first love, and two and a half months reading nothing but has only proven to me that this genre is my first home.
Where is your favorite place to read?
On the train!  I have an hour commute to and from work every day, and that's prime reading time for me.
Having read so many science fiction and fantasy books, do you have any suggestions for authors in those genres?
Less advice and more request: more post-apocalyptic fiction, please!  I love books that destroy the world, and books that take place in the aftermath of the destruction, and books that try to rebuild the world.  Oh, and zombies.  I think there will always be room for more excellent, original works of fiction with zombies.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts and Cybils wisdom with us, Nettle!

Meet the Panelists : Alyssa from The Shady Glade

Only 3 days until the Cybils Awards are announced!  To get you excited, I'm featuring a Fantasy & Science Fiction panelist (or two) every day until the awards are announced.  For Part 2 of my Meet the Panelists feature, I'd like to introduce you to Alyssa from The Shady Glade.  Alyssa's blog is one of the first blogs I read when I started blogging.  She's currently in college (how in the world did you have time to read all of the books on our list, Alyssa??!) and she worked at Walt Disney World last summer.  So without further ado, here is the ultra cool Alyssa...

When did you start blogging and why?
I'd been doing reviews for a Young Adult website for about 8 months before I started my own blog.  Through the forums of that site I had become friends with Jocelyn over at Teen Book Review.   She had posted one day that she started a blog, and I went "Hey, I can do that!"  So here I am, almost 3 years (and a whole lot less free time) later.
What are some of your favorite posts that you did?
I've done several that I've enjoyed.  One was a discussion on headless covers that generated a few interesting comments. I also hosted a writing challenge in the Summer of 2007 that was lots of fun.  Of course, right now I think my favorites are my regular Contest Monday posts and my Waiting on Wednesday features.
What was your favorite part about being a Cybils panelist?
Free books!  Ha ha, okay I'm just kidding.  I already have books coming out of my ears.  I love the opportunity to network with other book bloggers.  We spend about 3 short months getting to know each other, but by the time the shortlists come out I feel like I'm saying goodbye to family. 
Any advice for future panelists?
Mostly I'd mention the time commitment.  A lot of people think it's an easy job, but it really does take up a lot of time to search out and read all these books.  The Cybils is growing more and more each year, and those nomination lists get longer every year.  Oh, and make sure your library has a good interlibrary loan system.
Why do you blog about teen books?
Mostly because that's what I read!  When I started blogging, I was in my third semester of college, and I still had refused to "graduate" to adult books.  Now I read some adult as well, but YA is still the age group I enjoy the most. 
If you were a Cybils judge, which category would you like to judge?
That's a hard decision!  For me, I've always enjoyed both Sci Fi/Fantasy and Graphic Novels.  I'm not sure I could choose between the two...
Where is your favorite place to read?
On my bed!  I'm so busy lately that before bed is the only time I have to read.  Plus, my cat sometimes curls up on my feet, which is always a bonus in my book.  I sometimes wish I had a big, comfy, oversized reading chair, but I suppose that will have to wait until I get my own house.  Right now my roommates are upset enough about my four bookshelves!
Thanks for taking the time to answer all my questions, Alyssa!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Meet the Panelists : Tirzah from The Compulsive Reader

One of my favorite things about being a panelist for the Cybils was getting to know my fellow panelists.  We bonded over plot likes and dislikes, cover critiques, and the joy of coming home to boxes of books.  In anticipation of the Cybils Awards announcement on February 14th, I thought you might like to get an inside look at the panel.  I'll be featuring one or two panelists a day through Saturday in a feature that I'm calling Meet the Panelists.

First up, I'd like to introduce you to Tirzah from The Compulsive Reader.  Tirzah was a fun addition to our group.  She's currently a student and she collects fairy tale retellings (as she put it, "even if they are the old, weird, no-one-has-ever-heard-them-before kind).

When did you start blogging and why?
I started blogging about 5 years ago on Xanga, but I didn't get serious about it until a year and a half ago when I switched to Blogger. At first, it was something mainly for my own amusement and a great way to hone my writing skills, but as my blog grew in popularity, I was able to get more serious about it and start working with authors and putting together features.
What are some of your favorite posts that you did?
Last July, I decided on a whim to devote the whole month to "Books That Suck "...vampire books! It was great fun, and I was surprised that I could get 30+ YA books about vampires. That month I also got a record amount of site traffic. It was tons of fun, but after Breaking Dawn came out, I was through with vamps for quite a while...
What was your favorite part about being a Cybils panelist?
Reading books I normally wouldn't have picked up. There was a TON of great books I either hadn't heard of, or hadn't been motivated to read that I got to experience, and it really made me broaden my horizons.
 What books are you looking forward to this year?
There's a LOT, but here are a few that come to mind: Crazy Beautiful by Lauren Baratz-Logsted, The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting, The Prophecy of the Sisters by Michelle Zink, The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan
 Why do you blog about teen books?
First, because they were what I knew, and now I keep doing it because it's such a diverse and fun community to be a part of. The books are fantstic, and the authors are all amazing.
If you were a Cybils judge, which category would you like to judge?
Hm, probably either YA or Sci-Fi/Fantasy, as they are my favorite genres, and their shortlists are always fantastic!
Any advice for future panelists?
Um, use the database...I was totally that one person who hadn't updated her page, which made for some frustrating moments when we went back to determine the final shortlist. Other than that, don't worry about getting to absolutely every single book, because it may be impossible. Just get in as many as possible and be smart about organizing your time and reading list.
 Where is your favorite place to read?
 In the summer, I love to read out on my back deck--it's very sunny and peaceful.
Having read so many science fiction and fantasy books, do you have any suggestions for authors in those genres?
The more different, or odd, or weird, the better. Really. There are many standard sci-fi and fantasy books out there, but if you can create a completely weird or unique world/situation, and still manage to make it realistic to the reader, then you've done your job. Don't settle for a watered down version of someone else's world.
Thanks for chatting with us, Tirzah!