Sweet Valley Confidential: That's how it's done

News broke today about the cover of the upcoming Sweet Valley High sequel, Sweet Valley Confidential. Here's what made the execution flawless:

1. The Sweet Valley Confidential social media accounts: I follow SVConfidential on Twitter, and I "like" them on Facebook. And you know what? They do it right. I've always felt included in the excitement, like they granted me access to a secret sorority (like, I don't know, THE UNICORNS?!). (Although I do have a bone to pick with whoever manages their Twitter...I won a Team Jessica shirt in July and have yet to receive it, and my message to them went unheeded. But I'm nothing if not forgiving!) (Ha. Not really.)

2. The tie-in to traditional media: People broke the cover news. This is a great example of using an established outlet to house the content and then using social channels to market it. And really, what other mag besides People would make sense? Even though I don't read it regularly, it's the perfect choice. (Although now I know that Melissa Rycroft is having a girl, and frankly, I didn't care to know that, though perhaps it will come in handy if there's ever a Bachelor category on Jeopardy.)

3. The artwork itself: It's kind of gorgeous, yet totally predictable, and still somehow feels both modern and retro at the same time. $10 says it's Liz on the front and Jess on the back. (Though how cool would it be if they printed two versions with the front and back covers reversed?! You're welcome, St. Martin's Press.)

Of course, none of this would matter if there weren't throngs of people waiting to see the cover and read the book. When the content is stellar (or at least that nice mix of average-yet-appealing-for-nostalgic-reasons), the community will respond organically.

There is no title cool enough for this post.

[Note: the opinions in this post are my own!]

I wasn't supposed to like The Hunger Games. Dystopian YA? So not my thing. (On the other hand, contemporary YA? So obviously my thing.)

But everyone at my job was talking about the title before it came out in September 2008, and I thought, I'll give it a go. Two years and one sequel later, I count The Hunger Games trilogy as a lesson on how to be a good reader: mute the expectations, calm the naysaying, and give the story a fighting chance.

Today on OOM we announced the title and cover of the third and final book in the HG trilogy, and now it's inescapable: fully 1/3 of my Twitter feed today was probably Mockingjay related, and even places like EW.com are talking about.

It's funny, though; Panem, the country Suzanne Collins created in The Hunger Games, is one of those worlds where I actually ache upon accessing. Like, it physically hurts me to read these books. I read an advance copy of book 2, Catching Fire, so feverishly and so quickly that I barely remember the intricacies of the plot--I just remember the emotions, and that it gripped me so tightly I almost couldn't breathe, and I get the coilings of a knot in my stomach when I think about what's in store for me with Mockingjay. Because I am telling you, a la Jennifer Hudson, that I am not going into a fictional world where Katniss doesn't survive. I fear I physically could not handle it.

I can't think of any other book or series where I flipped from not wanting to read it so assuredly to not being able to imagine living a life in which I hadn't read it, other than The Hunger Games.

This weekend in "Things I Can't Get Enough of"

I finished Atwood's The Year of the Flood.

I can't even talk about. No, seriously. (Also, oh, is that the cover? I read it on my Kindle (yesIamstillbuyingthingsfromAmazonpleasedon'thateme) so I had no idea what it looked like.) (Also? That's the blurb they wrote? Trust, the book is so much better than that blurb lets on.)

Now I am in the middle of Scarlett Fever, the sequel to Suite Scarlett by Maureen Johnson. Y'all, it is funny. We all know I'm an MJ fan girl (um, not Michael Jackson, thanks) but seriously, Scarlett Fever is fun-ny and taking me by surprise and is one of those YA titles that's just perfectly crafted.

I know I have a couple of readers, somewhere out there. What are you reading during this snowpocalypse weekend?

Let's talk about names.

I love names. I like learning what they mean, who or what  they're inspired by, why a parent chose one moniker over another, and understanding the sociologial impact a certain name leaves in its wake. That said, damn if I don't have the hardest time coming up with character names. And clearly, other writers do, too.

I am reading a delightful new YA book right now. But it has a big problem (for me): the character names are KILLING me. 90% of them - truly, I counted - are simple, vanilla, 1-2 syllable, well-known but almost old-fashioned names. Worse yet, they are interchangeable, with the exception of the narrator.

It's so bad that I find myself mixing up the characters and having to check back in chapter 1 to see who's who. Jack* is Jim* is Bill* is Steve* and I keep forgetting whether Debbie* is the protagonist or antagonist, and whether she's friends or enemies with Mary*. And further, the book takes place in present day, in a high school. Now, I'm no expert on names, but I can almost guarantee that all the names used went out of fashion, on average, 30 years ago. Which means the characters' parents would probably not have chosen these names for their kids, who were supposedly born in the 90s.

I hate that the names are sort of ruining the book for me, but I'm finding it difficult to look past them. And that's a damn shame, because the book is adorable so far.

*not the real character names, but hopefully you get the idea.