Saturday’s Seven with Drea (aka Book Blather)

Today our guest is Drea, a twenty-something teen librarian from the Chicagoland area, who reviews books, blogs, and offers the occasional contest as BookBlather.

Hi, Drea.  What’s your favorite flower?

This has changed over the years, but I would say at this moment it would have to be an orchid. They just have this majestic beauty about them that draws me to them.  [FYI, orchids mean the belle of the ball or passion in the language of flowers.  See Drea’s lovely orchid above!]

Is there a quotation you live by or have posted at your desk?

It’s not really a quotation, more like a personal motto: “Still Awaiting Serenity.”  It’s a phrase I latched onto years ago that reminds me that I’ll never truly be complete and to keep searching for those pieces that will make me a better person. I think it’s my way of telling myself to never settle and to continue reaching for more.

Which book do you wish you could live in?

Oh man, this is a hard one. I can’t pick just ONE book, but I will tell you my favorite worlds. I’m torn between the Tortall Realm by Tamora Pearce or the Faerie Courts by Melissa Marr. If I HAD to choose just one, I would go with Tortall. I’ve grown up reading the characters in that world and they have been like best friends at time.

Who’s your favorite dead writer and why? (We don’t want to hurt the feelings of the living here!)

Hands down, Virginia Woolf. She was such a brilliant woman and writer. I’m always finding something new in her writings every time I read them. Some, like A Room of One’s Own, is so empowering to women.  And while she was certainly a tortured soul, there is so much I’ve been able to learn from her writings.  [Drea and I also share a love for Woolf’s To the Lighthouse!]

How long have you been blogging and why did you start?

I started Book Blather a little over a year ago. My main reason was to keep a log of what I’m reading.   As a YA Librarian, I’m devouring more books than I can keep up and the blog is a way for me to remember what I’ve read and what I liked/did not like a book!  Of course, the reasonI continue is because of the amazing friends with authors/bloggers that I’ve made along the way.

What do you love best about YA novels?

What’s not to love?  Seriously. T here are so many talented writers in the YA world, and more still coming (like Amy!).   I wish I could put into words why I love YA novels, but I really can’t.   There’s just something that has sucked me in and just won’t let me go!   And I hope this love affair is one that never ends.

Do you have any predictions for the future of YA novels and writers?

I predict that they will send me their ARCs so I don’t have to wait to read them!  No, no, okay, really.  Predictions, predictions, hmmmm.  I think I see the YA market continuing to bring in amazing books/authors.  I see it growing even more than it already has and shaking off its stigma and pulling in more adults.  I also see sparkly vampires retiring to their coffins (oh please, oh please, oh please!)

You just got back from ALA.  What was the most fun?

Well, I love the exhibits.  I mean FREE books!  And I love bringing home really good ones that I can bribe my teens with.  (It’s all about the bribes!) But I also like sitting down with publishers and talking about the books they’re about to publish.  I got to sit one-on-one with one publishing company and had a fantastic time ranting about what books I already loved and the ones I was excited about being able to read.

What advice would you give to writers who appear at libraries?

Have fun!  Be down to earth and don’t try too hard.  Teens may appear to be bored, but I can almost guarantee that they’re really listening.   Candy or other fun stuff is a good way to bribe them into talking too.  Once they’re talking it’ll be smooth sailing after that.  Oh, and above all, give lots of love to the librarians!  We most likely love you just as much (maybe more!) than the teens.

Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your thoughts, Drea!  You can follow her on twitter, too.

Saturday’s Seven with Jen Nadol

Today I welcome author Jen Nadol whose thoughtful and moving YA debut, The Mark, was just released this week.  Congrats, Jen!  Jen and I are both members of the online support and promotional group, the Tenners.  

[Be sure to keep reading for a fun GIVEAWAY at the end!]









Hi, Jen.  What’s your favorite flower and why?

I really like the simplicity of white tulips. [FYI, flower lovers.  White tulips are for forgiveness in the language of flowers.]

Which book do you wish you could live in?

Oh gosh. Honestly? None.  Most books – at least the ones I read – have some kind of compelling, and often unpleasant, conflict.  I don’t really need any extra drama.

Who’s your favorite dead author? (We don’t want to hurt the feelings of the living here!)

I’ll go with Theodore Dreiser because I’ve re-read An American Tragedy over and over, though I’ve never read anything else he’s written.

What about the story compels you to read An American Tragedy over and over? [Gulp.  Note to self:  add to reading list.]

I love stories that explore the human psyche in the way this does. You see disastrous looming, watch in slow motion as the events unfold and understand, on a certain level, exactly why the protagonist makes the terrible choices he does. It’s fascinating, plus just really solid storytelling.

What’s the most impressive dish you can cook?

Bananas Foster – delicious and on fire!

What’s your favorite time of the day to write and why?

Anytime that I can be by myself without distractions.

Your novel deals with the weighty issue of knowing someone else is about to die and how to deal with that knowledge. Did writing this novel change how you think about your own life?

That’s a great question. Writing the scenes where Cassie’s trying to make decisions or thinking about what she’d do if it were her last day definitely made me answer those questions for myself (the best you can answer questions like that). But I think, really, it was having kids that made the value of time tangible to me: how quickly it passes, how careful we have to be about not squandering the days we have. So I think I was already *in* a mindset of contemplating mortality and such when I began the novel.

Who do you think is the wisest philosopher mentioned in The Mark, or one whose thoughts you try to follow and why?

What I enjoy about philosophy isn’t any particular teacher or school of thought, but how it teaches you, the reader, to think critically and examine independently. Question everything. It’s easy to glide along, accepting things at face value, but it’s important to stop sometimes and really think about what we’re doing, what people are telling us and be sure we’re on the path we want to be on.

You can find out more about Jen here.  Thanks so much, Jen!



One lucky reader will win a copy of The Mark, along with a $15 iTunes gift card and a bunch of Forget-Her-Nots swag.

To enter:  Post (on blog OR Facebook) and/or tweet (I’m @amybrecountwhit  and you can RT what I said) about this interview/ contest with Jen.  UP TO 2 ENTRIES if you both post and tweet.  Also, please follow me and Jen on Twitter if you’re not already!  Please comment with links on this post to let me know what you’ve done and that you’re in.

The Fine Print:  Giveaway is open internationally to anyone age 13 or older.  Prize winner will be announced on Twitter and here, so please provide info for me to contact you easily.   The contest is over on 1/30 at 12 p.m.   Prize must be claimed by 2/10. 

Thanks so much for entering!  Happy reading!

Saturday’s Seven: An Interview with Irene Latham

Welcome to a brand new feature of my blog in which I showcase authors, book sellers, librarians, teachers, bloggers, and publishing biz guests!  Woo hoo!












My first guest is the talented Irene Latham, author of Leaving Gee’s Bend (Putnam, 2010) , and a book of poems, What Came Before.  Irene and I are both members of the Tenners online support and promotional group.  We will be appearing on author panels at the Virginia Festival of the Book on March 20, 2010, in Charlottesville, Va., so please come see us!


Hi, Irene. What’s your favorite flower and why?

Oh, I love so many!  iStock_000006127321SmallBut if forced to choose, I’d say the azalea.  They are native to Alabama, and many folks use them to landscape, so come March and April, there are bursts of pink and white and red everywhere!  It’s a beautiful time to be in this state.

[FYI flower lovers:  in the language of flowers, azaleas mean temperance, or finding balance and self- control.]

 Is there a quotation you live by or have posted at your desk?

“Life is not about finding yourself.  Life is about creating yourself.”

 Which book do you wish you could live in?

Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein.  (I mean, have you seen those drawings?  What fun!)


Who’s your favorite dead poet? (We don’t want to hurt the feelings of the living here!)

Kahlil Gibran.  I read The Prophet at least once a year.


What’s the most impressive dish you can cook?

Oh, I love to bake — lately, cakes.  A friend gave me a great recipe for Chocolate Chip Pound Cake, and I made it quite a few times over the holidays to give as a gift.  People seemed impressed….


What’s your favorite time of the day to write and why?

I love early mornings before the kids get up.  That’s definitely my most fertile time — something about the dark and the quiet and the way my mind is still operating near to that dream-state.

Quilts are both an actual part of your novel and a metaphor. How do you see quilts as a metaphor for life?

Every quilt tells a story.  And every single one of us has a story to tell — something that only we CAN tell, in our own unique, individual way, with our own particular style of stitching and piecing.

You can follow or find out more about Irene at  [Leaving Gee’s Bend is jetting its way to me as I write, so I’ll post my thoughts on that later.]

And her inspiring book trailer is here.  Thanks so much for stopping by, Irene!

Early Reviews for Forget-Her-Nots!!!

Thanks to all of the people who have blurbed about or WOW’d or read FHN already.  Here are some of the awesome reviews so far:

“Forget-Her-Nots is a rich and original debut by a very talented debut author that yet again proves what a fantastic year 2010 is going to be for YA…. In all, Forget-Her-Nots is a darling and enchanting read that I can’t wait to talk about with others!”

Lauren of Lauren’s Crammed Bookshelf.

“Forget-Her-Nots was a great read with a wonderfully original premise. I loved learning about the Victorian language of flowers and what each variety was thought to mean – the feelings and behavior it might provoke.

There were beautifully written passages throughout the book, one flashback between Laurel and her mother a favorite of mine. Very enjoyable and totally appropriate for younger YA readers on up!”

Jen Nadol, author of  The Mark

“Like the petals of a rose, this book has layers of loveliness. The delicate and feminine cover adds to its beauty and will make a wonderful addition to any library.”

Christina Gonzalez, author of The Red Umbrella

“Very cute, original plot, and a fun read.”  Sharon of

“This book was amazing. I loved how White created something so unique.”

Sarah at Sarah’s Random Musings

“4.5 stars!”  – Cindy Pon, author of Silver Phoenix:  Beyond the Kingdom of Xia

“I love this book so far. It’s really addicting” and FIVE STARS  from Zoe of Zoe’s Book Reviews

“I’m one of the lucky ones to have been able to read this pre-published. It is a unique fantasy that will delight all readers with a compelling mystery and lots of fun romance! You will also come out learning a lot about the Victorian meaning to tussy mussies (or flower bouquets) that has stayed with me ever since I read the manuscript. If you love historical romance as well as contemporary YA plotlines, this is the book for you.”   – Pam Calvert, author of Princess Peepers and other books