Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Books Set Outside The US

I love reading all the Top Ten Tuesday posts, a weekly blog link-up feature hosted by The Broke and Bookish. This week, the prompt is ten books set outside the United States and, considering international vacations aren’t happening for me this summer, I’m happy to do a little bookish travel and share a few of my favorite internationally-set YA favorites. Although I could add a dozen other awesome international books, these are all novels I feel really capture a particular sense of place. In no particular order:

The White Darkness by Geraldine McCaughrean
A surreal and terrifying story of trust, self, and survival in Antarctica.

Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed
This powerful story of strength, family, and destiny centered around an arranged married wrecked me in the best way.

Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
It’s unfair how good Australian YA writers are, and Marchetta is the best of the best, and this book is her best.

The Bitter Side of Sweet by Tara Sullivan
An arresting and touching look at child slavery in the chocolate industry, as narrated by a boy trying to protect the people he loves.

The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
Nothing gets my Oxford-loving heart beating quite like Lyra’s thrilling adventures in this beautifully crafted story.

Sekret by Lindsay Smith
Spies, psychics, and secrets in Communist Russia–tell me you don’t want to see the movie version of this.

A Brief History of Montmaray by Michelle Cooper
A charming and surprising story of a tiny European island and its royal family on the edge of WWII.

Caminar by Skila Brown
Told in verse, this stunning story of love and survival in Guatemala’s civil war in 1981.

Wish You Were Italian by Kristin Rae
Bright and charming and surprisingly touching, this Italian vacation has everything from love to grief to lots of gelato.

Bog Child by Siobhan Dowd
Powerful story of history, family, and sacrifice set in Ireland during the Troubles.

Join Me at Teen B-Fest at Barnes & Noble in Charlottesville!

Good news: going to Charlottesville, VA, (aka my favorite place) for a visit in a couple weeks.

Even better news: my visit also coincides with Barnes & Noble’s national teen book festival, B-Fest.

Best news: I get to join B-fest for a reading and signing at Barnes & Noble Charlottesville!

The details:

Saturday, June 11, 2pm
Barnes & Noble – Charlottesville, VA
1035 Emmet St Suite A, Charlottesville, Virginia 22903

Come hear me talk about writing, the awesomeness of YA lit, and why I dream of Bodo’s. Check out the Facebook event page for more info, and come say hi on Saturday, June 11!

Links Galore

A few links for your week:


Links Galore

Links to start the week:

Links Galore

Lots of links I’ve been hoarding:


You’re the Only Ten I See: a YA/MG Tennessee Retreat Recap

Despite my blog silence over the last couple of weeks, I’ve returned from the 2013/14/15 writer retreat in Tennessee. I got to see some awesome writers I’d previously met, give major hugs to writers I’d only met online, and befriend new writers I didn’t know as well. A few highlights:

We stayed at a lodge in the Smoky Mountains, and the view from the porch was amazing!

I got to room with some pretty awesome people (and yes, we did watch “Hush” from Buffy while packing up on the last night):

We didn’t exactly go hungry, thanks to lots of great cooks and bakers:

There may or may not have been a dance party.

Two words: swag table:

Getting to hang out with YA/MG writers I love and admire.

And, of course, getting lots of writing done.

Special thanks to the amazing Natalie Parker for putting this all together! What an awesome time to share thoughts and have fun with some fantastic writers.

Getting Ready for the OneFour Retreat: a Gif Interpretation

Next week, I’ll be in Tennessee with about forty other 2014 (and 2013 and 2015) debut authors, writing and talking our experiences as debut YA/kidlit authors and hot-tubbing and eating/drinking lots of tastiness and probably hugging a lot. This retreat has been in the works for a while now, and I can’t believe it’s almost here!

My preparation list includes packing, making sure I have all my flight info, and trying to decide what book to bring on the plane. But of course, the only real way to prepare is with gifs.

Trying to pack:
On the flight to TN:

‘Meeting’ people at first:

But then after like five minutes:

Fangirling over everyone’s books:

Talking about our career paths:

Productive writing thing:

When someone puts on the good music:
Sharing bookish gossip:
Feeling all the YA/MG love:

Remembering we have to go home eventually:


Can’t wait to see all those wonderful writers in a few days!

Ten Reasons Why You Should Read…Wish You Were Italian by Kristin Rae

Getting Wish You Were Italian by Kristin Rae in the mail made me so happy. In the middle of late New England winter, I was so happy just to see its bright cover and promise of Italian summer adventures, gelato, and lots of swoony goodness. The book delivered on all of that and more. Here are a few of my reasons why you need to read Wish You Were Italian.

1. Be Italian
This reason alone should be enough to have you grabbing for this book. Instead of getting stuck in art history class, Pippa takes a chance on exploring Italy, getting to know its people, and seeing amazing, beautiful, and historic places. I loved traveling along with her. Rae balances perfectly between seeing famous sites and getting to know more of Italy as its seen from the people who live there day-to-day.

2. Summer Lovin’
Pippa’s romantic encounters were so charming and thoughtful and swoony. The boys involved are charming in their own individual ways, and you can totally see why Pippa goes for them. (Seriously, Pippa and Darren’s flirting is so freaking cute and so real–I want to hang out with them!) And I love how relatable Pippa is in each of these relationships; so often I thought “That is totally how it is when you’re crushing!” Even with all the swoony goodness, the relationships felt so real and complex and heart-warming and challenging.

3. Friends Forever
I also loved that Pippa had great female friends in her life. Between Morgan, her friend at home who sends Pippa to Italy with the coolest journal (seriously, can I have one?), and Chiara, Pippa’s new Italian friend who provides a great dose of warmth and spunk, friendship in this book is just as important as romance. Kudos to Rae for that.

4. Gram
Pippa is super close with her grandmother, who is a wonderful addition to the story. She understands Pippa and encourages her to take chances. Their relationship worked especially well, as Pippa’s relationship with her parents is strained (more on that below). It felt so real to see generations of one family struggling with how to get along and bonding in their own particular ways.

5. Another Scoop of Gelato, Please
Seriously, read this book with a pint of gelato in the freezer and a gourmet pizza delivery on the way. Kristin, I totally expect a follow-up cookbook. Mangia!

6. Even on Vacation, Bad Things Happen
All of the above goodness isn’t to say that Wish You Were Italian is totally light and fluffy. Without spoiling anything, I’ll just say that there are some truly heartbreaking moments–which make the book even better. I love that Rae doesn’t shy away from real problems throughout.

7. Mothers and Daughters
Okay, so maybe I’m a sucker for mother-daughter drama. 😉 But I was so pleased to see Pippa’s relationship with her mother get developed in surprising and touching ways. Again, I don’t want to give anything away, but I didn’t expect this layer at all when I started reading, and it ended up being such a real, lovely part of the book.

8. Taking Chances…
A lot of Wish You Were Italian has to do with taking risks and putting yourself out there. Morgan’s journal spurs Pippa to try new things, and Pippa herself makes a huge leap when she decides to take hold of her own life for the summer. As someone who’s not a huge risk-taker, this got me (and I’m sure will get other readers) thinking about what risks we take in our daily lives. Which connects with…

9. …Making Connections
Wish You Were Italian shows that sometimes taking changes and small decisions to put ourselves out there ultimately foster surprising new connections and relationships. At one point, Pippa realizes that she’s surrounded by people who care about her because of a small choice she made early on, which I just loved and feels so much like how real life works.

10. Viva Kristin!
Kristin Rae is a super sweet 2014 debut author, OneFour KidLit-er and fellow chocolate addict. She also shared the news that Wish You Were Italian isn’t her only big 2014 debut–her baby girl is due this summer!!! Make sure to follow Kristin for all sorts of wonderful adventures.

The Buzz on Java

2953428679_4a92931ba4_oAh, the coffees shop–a writer’s home away from home. Any place that provides me with hot coffee, a comfy chair, and maybe a scone gets my writerly vote. If you’re looking for a good coffee shop, check out this list of the 50 best college coffee shops in America. I was really happy to see three of my favorites on the list:

  • I first came across the Mudhouse in Charlottesville, VA when I was at Young Writers Workshop. Having an iced cappuccino with my writing class made me feel so hip. Trident.
  • Espresso Royale was one of my favorite writing haunts when I was in grad school and working on my thesis. Their bagel sandwiches are fantastic.
  • I think of Trident Booksellers and Cafe as way more than a coffee shop. Books for browsing, free wi-fi, and sweet potato fries–what more could you want?

Check out the whole list to see if your favorite is represented. If not, share it in the comments!

(image: Doug88888)(H/T Stephanie Marie)