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Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year 2013 Giveaway Hop!

ETA: This contest is over. I'll be back soon with a winner! Thanks for entering.

Happy New Year, Friends! I'm so excited for 2013, and one of my favorite things to do when I'm excited is to give away good books! This Giveaway Hop runs from January 1st (or as soon as this post goes live) through January 7th. Thanks to Kathy from I'm a Reader Not a Writer for hosting this hop!

I have a slew of choices for you for this hop. Entry is super-easy, and the choices include a signed paperback copy of any of my books, as well as a few of my favorites. See if any of these look like something worth winning...

Pushing the Limits (Pushing the Limits, #1)
Between Shades of GrayVirtuosityThe Dark Light

The contest is for ONE of the above books, your choice. As a bonus, if you tweet that you want to read WRITING WITH A HEAVY HEART by @denisejaden and you win, I will throw in an e-copy of that book as a bonus (plus you'll get your choice of the above books).

Note: Because I'm an author, I obviously want to spread the word about my books, but you don't have to tweet/facebook/blog about my books--it will make no difference to your entry, as long as you spread the word about one of the above books and about this contest.

This is my first time using Rafflecopter, so bear with me, and if you see any problems, please let me know in the comments and I'll fix as soon as possible. This contest is open to anyone with a U.S. mailing address.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, December 28, 2012

Top Ten of 2012!

I had an incredibly hard time narrowing down my favorite books of 2012. If you read my last post, you'll know I read 106 books during the year, and many, many of them I really loved. But I tried to whittle the list down to a few favorites. I couldn't hold myself to just ten, just couldn't, so I've added a few runner ups. I'd love to know if any of my favorites match yours!

Runner Ups (In no particular order):
Zero by Tom Leveen
Paranormalcy by Kiersten White
The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith
My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick
Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
Let it SnowSisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares

And the Top Ten:

10. Let It Snow by John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle 
I love a good Christmas story, and Let It Snow was three linked stories! It was so much fun, and introduced me to two new authors that I now love.
Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar9. Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard 
I felt like I was on the most adventurous trip of my life while reading Wanderlove. I love adventure. And travel. It made me want to rush to the airport and take whatever flight I can get on without planning ahead.

8. Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed 
Tiny Beautiful Things opened my mind. It is ninety percent about thinking outside the box and a hundred percent compassion. It is a must-read for anyone with a beating heart.

Live Through This7. Live Through This by Mindi Scott 
Live Through This is an incredibly authentic and heart-wrenching book. It shows the underside of what appears to be one girl's perfect life, and made me realize how much more may be going on with people, how much is hidden, and the unseen reasons they make the decisions they do.

Such a Rush

6. Such a Rush by Jennifer Echols 

I love books that bring me into settings and lives that I might otherwise never experience. I loved being at the small-town airport with Leah and experiencing her life with her in Such a Rush. Plus, the hot romance. *fanning myself*

Lola and the Boy Next Door
5. Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins 
If I did nothing but spent every one of my waking hours reading Stephanie Perkins' books, I don't think I would be lacking much. Maybe food. But otherwise, I think I'd be perfectly happy to live inside one of her books forever.

In Honor
4. In Honor by Jessi Kirby 

I love road trip books, and In Honor is the perfect one, with plenty of depth and variety of experience.

Pushing the Limits (Pushing the Limits, #1)
3. Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarrey 

 This is one of the best dual point of view books I've read. I really felt for both of the point of view characters and they had such full, emotional stories. Plus there was a lot of sexual tension with the "bad boy," which is always a plus.

2. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn 

I'm not sure where to start with Gone Girl. The writing was exquisite, but besides that there were so many twists and turns and plot twists that I was literally on the edge of my seat through most of it. I hope hope hope that the upcoming movie will do this book justice. 

1. The Fault in our Stars by John Green 

I'd almost rather say nothing about The Fault in our Stars than try to give you any idea of how much it changed me and wrecked me and somehow put me back together. The only thing I can say is read it. So much heart in this book.

It's your turn! Are any of the above in your top books of 2012? If not, I'd love to hear what is!

Make sure to stop back next week, as I'll be having a big New Year's Giveaway!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Books Read in 2012

Whew! I read more books in 2012 than I've read in any other year of my life. I'm AMAZED at how many of these books were wonderful and memorable, and I count several of them among the best books I've ever read. I'll be back in a few days when I've whittled this down to a few of my favorites, but for now, I'd love to hear if you've read some of these and if you have any strong opinions on any of them. (My apologies for any spelling mistakes!)

I'll do a little more analysis at the end, but for now, here's the list, starting with the ones I read at the beginning of last year, and ending with books I just finished: 

1. Tricks by Ellen Hopkins
2. The Broken Thing by Peter Swift
3. Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard
4. So Much Closer by Susane Colasanti
5. Every You, Every Me by David Levithan
6. Tiger Eyes by Judy Blume
7. Zero by Tom Leveen
8. Let's Get Lost by Sarra Manning
9. The Fault in our Stars by John Green
10. Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler
11. A Million Suns by Beth Revis
12. Gone, Gone, Gone by Hannah Moskowitz
13. A Need So Beautiful by Suzanne Young
14. Dancergirl by Carol M. Tanzman
15. Everything You Need to Survive the Apocalypse by Lucas Klauss
16. The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney
17. The Absolute True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
18. Unbreak My Heart by Melissa C. Walker
19. Paranormalcy by Kiersten White
20. Starters by Lissa Price
21. Identical by Ellen Hopkins
22. It's a Little Haywire by Elle Strauss
23. The Secret Life of Prince Charming by Deb Caletti
24. Dead to You by Lisa McMann
25. Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine
26. The Future of Us by Jay Asher
27. The Disenchantments by Nina LaCour
28. Blankets by Craig Thompson
29. Heist Society by Ally Carter
30. Boy 21 by Matthew Quick
31. Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares
32. But I Love Him by Amanda Grace
33. North of Beautiful by Justina Chen Headley
34. The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith
35. Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins
36. Cinder by Marissa Meyer
37. Lucky by Rachel Vail
38. Being Friends With Boys by Terra Elan McVoy
39. Crazy by Amy Reed
40. Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver
41. 37 Things I Love by Kekla Magoon
42. When You Were Mine by Rebecca Serle
43. The Patron Saint of Butterflies by Cecelia Galante
44. The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin
45. Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson
46. Real Live Boyfriends by E. Lockhart
47. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
48. Kill Me Softly by Sarah Cross
49. On Becoming Childwise by Gary Ezzo
50. Sloppy Firsts by Megan McCafferty
51. The One That I Want by Jennifer Echols
52. Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
53. 3 Willows by Ann Brasheres
54. Take Me There by Susane Colasanti
55. My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick
56. Flyaway by Helen Landalf
57. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
58. Let It Snow by John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle
59. In Honor by Jessi Kirby
60. Radiance by Alyson Noel
61. Whisper by Alyson Noel
62. Soul Surfer by Bethany Hamilton
63. Article 5 by Kristen Simmons
64. Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret by Judy Blume
65. On Becoming Pre-Teen Wise by Gary Ezzo
66. Kane and Abel by Jeffrey Archer
67. The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson
68. What She Left Behind by Tracy Bilen
69. Such a Rush by Jennifer Echols
70. A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly
71. Blubber by Judy Blume
72. Would You by Marthe Jocelyn
73. The Anatomy of Story by John Truby
74. Write Good or Die by Scott Nicholson
75. Gone by Lisa McMann
76. Do or Di by Eileen Cook
77. If I Lie by Corinne Jackson
78. Small Medium at Large by Joanne Levy
79. Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu
80. Something Like Normal by Trish Doller
81. Looking For Alaska by John Green
82. Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
83. Save the Cat! Goes to the Movies by Blake Snyder
84. Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
85. Cracked by K.M. Walton
86. A Curse as Dark as Gold by Elizabeth C. Bunce
87. The DNA of Relationships by Gary Smalley
88. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
89. Every Day a Friday by Joel Osteen
90. It's Your Time by Joel Osteen
91. Ten Things We Did by Sarah Mylnowski
92. No Plot? No Problem by Chris Baty
93. Ask the Passengers by A.S. King
94. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
95. On Writing by Stephen King
96. Purity by Jackson Pearce
97. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
98. 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson
99. Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed
100. Every Day by David Levithan
101. Abby Road by Ophelia London
102. The Evolution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin
103. And Thereby Hangs a Tale by Jeffrey Archer
104. Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarrey
105. The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp
106. Live Through This by Mindi Scott

ETA: I just realized I'd missed at least one book (changing the total from 105 to 106 - Thanks, Mindi!) My only excuse is that I practically read her book in one sitting because it was so good, so I guess I somehow missed adding it to my GoodReads list.

Double whew! Keep in mind that this is not including books I critique or beta read, or my own books, which I have to read many times throughout the year. I honestly do not have a clue how I found time to read this many books. And I'm not a fast reader. All I can say is that I'm very goal driven (I set a goal to read a hundred books this year) and I also really, really enjoyed much of what I was reading.

Of the 106 books that I read in 2012:

Number of fiction: 95
Number of nonfiction: 11
Number I listened to on audiobook: 30
Number of books I did not finish: 4
Number of books I read because of hype: 24
Number that lived up to the hype (in my opinion): 9
Number of books I read for research purposes: 32
Number of books I read based on recommendations: 37
Number of books I would consider meh: 19
Number of books I would consider pretty good: 47
Number of books I would consider memorable: 25
Number of books I would consider ah-mazing: 16
Number of books that I will never forget: 2

It's a pretty good ratio, in my opinion. I didn't want to give specifics on books, because as a fellow author, I have too much compassion to do that. I certainly wouldn't want to read my book on another author's list of "meh" books. Besides, in my opinion, recommendations of awesome books are much more important.

Next year I don't plan on setting any ambitious reading goals, because I am feeling a bit burnt out on the "need to read" thing, but what I do plan on doing is being a bit pickier on what I  choose to read. I'm hoping to find 12 really amazing books by the end of 2013, so if you know of any that are not on my list (they don't need to be published in any particular year) please give me your suggestions.

I'll be back soon with my trimmed Best-Of list, but until then, I'll leave you with my top two...

How about you? Any favorites from the list above?

Monday, December 24, 2012

Happy Christmas, Eh!

I like to say Happy Christmas, rather than the standard Merry Christmas because it reminds me of the part in Stephanie Perkins's ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS where Etienne says Happy Christmas to Anna and she calls him a weirdo.

And I added the Eh because, yes, I am Canadian. Though I rarely say Eh. Except at Christmas, and then only to honour my Canadian pals, Bob and Doug McKenzie. If you have not Canadianized your Christmas yet, let me help you with a little video...

Thank you, friends, for stopping by my blog all through the year. I hope you and your family have a healthy and happy Christmas, filled with plenty of laughter and joy!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

GCC Presents Laurie Faria Stolarz and DEADLY LITTLE LESSONS!

Read on to find all sorts of goodies, including an interview and a great contest!

By Laurie Faria Stolarz
ISBN-13: 9781423131625
Disney/Hyperion Books for Children

Camelia Hammond's trying junior year of high school is finally over...but her troubles aren't. After she discovers a painful truth about her family, she escapes to a summer arts program in Rhode Island. Determined to put family - and boyfriend - drama behind her, she throws herself into her artwork.

At the arts school, she gets caught up in the case of Sasha Beckerman, a local girl who is missing. Even though all signs suggest that the teen ran away, Camelia senses otherwise. Eager to help the girl, she launches her own investigation. Meanwhile, Camelia realizes how much she misses Ben, despite being committed to Adam.

But time is running out for Sasha, and Camelia will have to trust her powers if she's to save her. Will the lessons Camelia has learned in the past give her the strength to do so?

Wanna sneak peek?  Go here: 

Check out the book trailers:

Praise for the TOUCH series:
Texas Tayshas List, 2010 (DLS)

Children’s Book Council’s 2010 & 2011 Teen Choice Book of the Year Nominee

Reluctant Reader Quick Pick Nominees, 2010 & 2011, American Library Association

Teens@Random, Favorite Book of 2009 (DLS)

Gold Star Award,, 2009 (DLL)

"...lively first-person narrative.... CW-worthy dialogue, quirky secondary characters, romance and suspense: a winning combination" - Kirkus Reviews

"An engaging, eerie tale about the darker side of relationships - when it becomes a matter of life and death to know who your friends are." - KLIATT

“The book was full of shocking surprises and revelations, earning the book five stars. This is a must-read for fans of romance, suspense, and mystery because it won't disappoint.” – Teens Read Too (DLL)

"Laurie Faria Stolarz is a master creator of suspense and romance. Her words cause the heart to pound, the palms to sweat, the spine to shiver, and the stomach to flutter. The trepidation born from the anonymous threats will make the pages fly, and the palpable tension between Camelia and Ben as they attempt to ignore their hearts causes the fire to burn hotter." -

Karma Chameleon Contest
In celebration of the release of DEADLY LITTLE LESSONS, I'm so excited to announce the launch of a brand new contest.  I'm calling it Karma Chameleon - yes, after the Boy George song from the '80's (in case any of you have heard of it; if not, you can YouTube it for fun).  I'm naming it that, not because of Boy George or his song, but because the contest is all about karma - good karma that is, and the spreading of it, and because, five books later, I thought it'd be the perfect time to celebrate Camelia from the Touch series (recall that Camelia's real name is Chameleon).

The contest is all about giving and getting - hence the karma part.  As many of you know, the law of karma, in its simplest definition, is that whatever you put out to the world - energy or otherwise, good or bad - comes back to you.  And so, in the spirit of good karma, let's spread some goodness.   I want to encourage readers to do a good deed, i.e. organize a fundraiser or food drive, volunteer to tutor or teach something, visit the elderly or a children's hospital.  All good-karma submissions will be entered into a drawing to win autographed copies of some of my Touch series books. I'll be sharing the most inspiring stories on my website and Facebook, and I'll Tweet about them as well (with your permission, of course).  For more information, see the official guidelines and rules on my web site:

Author Bio: Laurie Faria Stolarz is the author of Deadly Little Secret, Deadly Little Lies, Deadly Little Games, Deadly Little Voices, Project 17, and Bleed, as well as the bestselling Blue is for Nightmares series.  Born and raised in Salem, Massachusetts, Stolarz attended Merrimack College and received an MFA in creative writing from Emerson College in Boston. For more information, please visit her Web site at

Follow Laurie:
Sign up for her e-Newsletter for updates on contest, book, and appearance info:

Laurie’s Guilty Pleasures
Favorite snack: Popcorn with Earth Balance butter and lemon/pepper seasoning.
Touristy Trip: Paris.
Fashion addiction (at the moment): artfully torn jeans, tall boots, pretty scarves, and Michael Stars tees.
Dessert: Dark chocolate in almost any form - the darker the better.
Fast food: French fries at least once every few months (with lots of ketchup).
Beauty Binge: Aveda haircare products, which includes indulging in high-and/or-low-lights every eight weeks. Also, Caudalie skincare, Ineke perfume (Field Notes from Paris), Revitalash mascara, and Buxom Lips from Bare Escentuals.
Late-Night TV: Real Housewives of (wherever).
Chick Flick: Never Been Kissed, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, Juno, Green Card, Once, The Devil Wears Prada, Bridget Jones Diary, Thelma & Louise, Mean Girls, Moonstruck, Clueless, Under the Tuscan Sun, and anything with John Cusack.
Nightlife: Pilates in front of the TV (a regular occurrence), answering e-mail (also regular), and dinner and/or a movie out with friends (happens far too rarely).
Cheap Thrill: Window-shopping, tabloid magazines, buying a new lip gloss, a tall cup of coffee from Starbucks.
Ultimate Splurge: G2O Day Spa for a massage.

Other Random Info
Favorite Quote: Perseverance is key.
Favorite cuisine: Indian food – onion chutney, curried vegetables, and kashmir bread. I also love cheeseless pizza from Bertucci's.
Interests: Vegetarian cooking, holistic nutrition, aromatherapy.
Favorite Music: Adele, Fergie, James Blunt, Gavin Rossdale, Tori Amos, Sting, Sarah MacLachlin, Gwen Stefani, Black-eyed Peas.
Hobbies: Walking, napping, cooking
,, interior decorating.

How to bring your psychometric senses to fruition
By Camelia Hammond, main character, TOUCH series by Laurie Faria Stolarz

1. Make yourself comfortable in a place that feels “sacred” to you. For some it’s outside, surrounded by nature; for others it’s a favorite chair or surrounded by candles; for me, it’s wherever I’m doing pottery.
2. Close your eyes and concentrate on your breath, letting go of any stray or nervous thoughts.
3. Now, take an object in your hand. A good idea is to have someone give you something they’ve owned for a long time, i.e. a favorite bracelet or a set of keys.
4. Close your eyes again and concentrate on this object. Be aware of any thoughts or feelings that come about as a result of holding this object. Talk those ideas through, even if they seem silly or insignificant, but never make information up.
Remember, this takes practice and a bit of experimenting. The goal is to begin tuning in to your own inner awareness and your ability of perception. What often works for me is asking a question aloud, and then sculpting out the answer, using my power of touch in a creative and organic way.
Good Luck!

Friday, December 14, 2012

My Superhero / Star Wars Tree!

Here's how it started:

My husband found these beautiful decorations at Target while we were in Florida. One was Darth Vader, one was Yoda, one was Batman, and one was the Superman symbol. Upon arriving home, the Superman symbol had a little accident. So we were left with three.

These beautiful decorations absolutely would not have fit well with our current assortment of decorations (or would have gotten lost among the rest, which would have been a shame). I'm a fan of doing "theme" trees, so I decided my son and I would make some superhero decorations and have a superhero tree this year.

As we started to tire of making them with only half a tree filled, my son said, "But what about Darth Vader and Yoda?"

So now we have a half Superhero tree and a half Star Wars tree. My camera is lame, but here are a few shots (we filled in some gaps on the Star Wars side with action figures, but most everything else is handmade by either my nine year old son or myself).

 Ironman and Flash

 Wonder Woman, Superman symbol, and several versions of Captain America (because he's my favorite superhero.)

 Darth Vader's head is the tree-topper on the Star Wars side. We're still looking for Batman to use on the Superhero side, but for now, Ironman is our placeholder.

 This R2D2 one is one of my favorite ones that I made.

 The pickle in the Santa hat doesn't belong, but he was a gift from a friend this year.

 Lots of Green Lantern and various Superhero symbols here...

 In the middle (above) is the cool Batman one that we originally bought.

 This is my son's favorite one that he made: Deadpool!

 Spawn and Superman.
 Kia-Mundi action figure and a homemade Captain Rex.

 Cool snowflakes, huh? Above is Darth Vader, below is Boba Fett and Clone Troopers (alternating)

It took me three tries to get a decent Punisher, but here he is.
And for all those who had suggested Spiderman for our last wooden son actually went with Venom, so I did a Spiderman ball instead.

I hope you enjoyed a little peek at our tree! Does anyone else you know do any kind of interesting themes for their trees?

Monday, December 3, 2012

My Superhero Tree!

Anyone who knows me well, knows that my Christmas tree was up a long, long time ago.

But we've decided recently what kind of decorations to add this year. My husband and son really want it to be a superhero tree, so today my son and I worked on these:

In case you can't recognize any (and I don't blame you if you can't!) from top left: Ironman, Superman, Wolverine, Hulk, Captain America, Wonder Woman, and Batman.

As you can see, we have one left. I need some votes on what we should do. Spiderman? Thor? Someone else?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

GCC Presents The Awesome Eileen Cook and THE ALMOST TRUTH!

I'm so excited to welcome one of my favorite authors and people today. Eileen Cook's latest YA contemporary, THE ALMOST TRUTH, is out this month, and I cannot wait to get my hands on a copy of this one! And don't you totally LOVE this cover?

Book Summary:

From the author of Unraveling Isobel and The Education of Hailey Kendrick, a smart, romantic novel about a teenage con artist who might be in over her head.

Sadie can’t wait to get away from her backwards small town, her delusional mom, her jailbird dad, and the tiny trailer where she was raised…even though leaving those things behind also means leaving Brendan. Sadie wants a better life, and she has been working steadily toward it, one con at a time.

But when Sadie’s mother wipes out Sadie’s savings, her escape plan is suddenly gone. She needs to come up with a lot of cash—and fast—or she’ll be stuck in this town forever.

With Brendan’s help, she devises a plan—the ultimate con—to get the money. But the more lies Sadie spins, the more she starts falling for her own hoax…and perhaps for the wrong boy. Sadie wanted to change her life, but she wasn't prepared to have it flipped upside down by her own deception. With her future at stake and her heart on the line, suddenly it seems like she has a lot more than just money to lose....
Totally sounds awesome, right? And Eileen stopped by to answer a few questions about her and her writing for me...
Welcome, welcome, my friend! Tell me about your book in seven words or less.
Con-artists, boys, best friends, finding yourself.

Other than your main character, who's a favorite character of yours in your novel and why?
I adore Brendan. This is a common problem for me, falling in love with cute boys that I write. Brendan is from the wrong side of the tracks and has a questionable sense of morality, but he’s fiercely loyal to his friends. I admire his tenacity and sense of humor. I always fall for the funny guys.

 What's one piece of writing advice you would give to aspiring authors?
The best advice is to read.  Books are the best teachers. The second is to know why you want to be a writer. This is the most difficult thing I’ve ever done. If you understand your motivation for wanting to do it, it’s easier to stick with it when times are hard. My final piece of advice is to surround yourself with good people who will cheer you on and pick you up as needed.
 What did you write when you were a teen? Did you journal? Write poetry? Write overly literary or emotional stories? Or avoid writing altogether?
I’ve always been a huge reader and writer. I knew that I wanted to be a writer from a really young age, but I didn’t always believe it was a real option. It felt a bit like saying you want to be a princess or wizard- great idea, but not likely to happen.

 What's the last book you read that you really loved?
My two favorite books this year (and they couldn’t be more different) were The Fault in Our Stars by John Green and Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Praise for Eileen Cook’s books

".. enormously appealing and great company throughout this breezy read.....the highest quality—like a gourmet truffle. Cook has whipped up a real treat." - Kirkus Starred Review

"Thrilling and creepy, super sexy, and so very hilarious." - Lisa McMann, bestselling author of the Wake trilogy

"Sassy and sly and sweet all at the same time, this book made me laugh out loud." - Meg Cabot, author of The Princess Diaries and Airhead

About Eileen Cook

Eileen Cook is a multi-published author with her novels appearing in eight different languages. She spent most of her teen years wishing she were someone else or somewhere else, which is great training for a writer.  Her latest release, Unraveling Isobel came out in Jan 2012

You can read more about Eileen, her books, and the things that strike her as funny at  Eileen lives in Vancouver with her husband and two dogs and no longer wishes to be anyone or anywhere else.