Picture drawn by Maggie Stiefvater, 2009. Header made by S.F. Robertson, 2010.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Blog Tour- Dear Teen Me Edited by E. Kristin Anderson and Miranda Kenneally

Dear Teen Me edited by E. Kristin Anderson and Miranda Kenneally
"Dear Teen Me includes advice from over 70 YA authors (including Lauren Oliver, Ellen Hopkins, and Nancy Holder, to name a few) to their teenage selves. The letters cover a wide range of topics, including physical abuse, body issues, bullying, friendship, love, and enough insecurities to fill an auditorium. So pick a page, and find out which of your favorite authors had a really bad first kiss? Who found true love at 18? Who wishes he’d had more fun in high school instead of studying so hard? Some authors write diary entries, some write letters, and a few graphic novelists turn their stories into visual art. And whether you hang out with the theater kids, the band geeks, the bad boys, the loners, the class presidents, the delinquents, the jocks, or the nerds, you’ll find friends--and a lot of familiar faces--in the course of Dear Teen Me."- summary from Amazon

I loved reading this book! It absolutely flew by and I pretty much read it in a day. Each author, both ones I adore and some new ones I hadn't heard of, wrote to their teen selves with humor, wisdom, and depth. It was interesting, and occasionally heartbreaking, to read about the authors' pasts and what they had been through.

All the stories are so different that it makes the book hard to put down. I wasn't bogged down by an author's voice; each story rejuvenated me. I would think that I would stop after an essay, but then turn the page and just keep going. I particularly enjoyed the ones that were comics as opposed to essays. It was a nice switch.

It also took me forever (like until the last few authors) to realize that the book is alphabetized by author. I know, I'm observant like that.

Anyway, this is definitely a book for pretty much anyone. I think teens will get some great advice out of it as well as insight into their favorite authors. As an adult, it took me back to my teens and got me thinking about how I felt and acted back then. Essays involving being a gay boy (about 3 or 4 of them) and dealing with that were of particular note to me.

Overall, go get this book! It's simply amazing.

Zest Books website: http://zestbooks.net/dear-teen-me-blog-tour/
Dear Teen Me website: http://dearteenme.com/?page_id=4031
Dear Teen Me events page: http://zestbooks.net/events/
Zest Books Dear Teen Me book page: http://zestbooks.net/dear-teen-me/

FTC: Received ARC from publisher. Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Penguin Kids' Middle Grade Halloween Costume Tour + Giveaway!

Step into some creepy stories this Halloween and become your favorite middle grade character…from the ghoulish undead to mischievous pirates, the costumes are endless.

The Book:

Wereworld by Curtis Jobling

Imagine a world ruled by Werelords--men and women who can shift at will into bears, lions, and serpents. When Drew suddenly discovers he's not only a werewolf but the long-lost heir to the murdered Wolf King's throne, he must use his wits and newfound powers to survive in a land suddenly full of enemies. Drew's the only one who can unite the kingdom in a massive uprising against its tyrant ruler, Leopold the Lion. But the king is hot on Drew's tail and won't rest until he's got the rebel wolf's head.

For today, October 29th only, you can buy the e-book of Wereworld: Rise of the Wolf for only $2.99 wherever e-books are sold!

The Costume:

Be a Werewolf like Drew for Halloween with these three easy tips:

1.Grab an old t-shirt and pants and use a pair of scissors to create tears and frayed edges.

2.At a craft store get some fur-like fabric – you won’t need a lot – and glue them to the inside of the pants and shirt so that the fur sticks out of the holes you made.

3.Finally use some black eyeliner to draw a snout on your nose and make your hair nice and messy. Werewolves don’t groom.

You can find Wereworld online here: http://www.wereworldbooks.com

Purchase Wereworld: Rise of the Wolf: Amazon, Barnes and Noble and IndieBound

Blog Tour Schedule

Mon 10.22 MundieKids IN A GLASS GRIMMLY
Tues 10.23 Green Bean Teen Queen GUSTAV GLOOM
Wed 10.24 Charlotte’s Library UNDEAD ED
Thurs 10.25 Shelf Elf CHRONICLES OF EGG
Fri 10.26 Bookalicious CREATURE FROM THE 7TH GRADE
Mon 10.29 Book Chic WEREWORLD
Tues 10.30 Books Together BOOKS OF ELSEWHERE


I have a full finished copy set of the Halloween Middle Grade Halloween tour books to give away! All you have to do is leave a comment by 9pm EST on Friday, Nov 2 and you're entered! US/Canada residents only! Here’s the list of books and you can click on the title for more info:

Wereworld, In a Glass Grimmly, The Creature from the 7th Grade, Books of Elsewhere, Gustav Gloom and the People Takers, Undead Ed, and Deadweather and Sunrise: Chronicles of Egg.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Origin by Jessica Khoury

Origin by Jessica Khoury
"Pia has grown up in a secret laboratory hidden deep in the Amazon rain forest. She was raised by a team of scientists who have created her to be the start of a new immortal race. But on the night of her seventeenth birthday, Pia discovers a hole in the electric fence that surrounds her sterile home--and sneaks outside the compound for the first time in her life.

Free in the jungle, Pia meets Eio, a boy from a nearby village. Together, they embark on a race against time to discover the truth about Pia's origin--a truth with deadly consequences that will change their lives forever."- summary from Amazon

Khoury's debut is fascinating. I loved reading about Pia and following along on her journey toward uncovering her past. There's a ton of twists and turns throughout the book and I definitely flew through the book.

I liked the relationship between Eio and Pia, though it did feel a bit insta-love to me at times and I never really bought into it too much.

I liked Khoury's mythology, how she built the world of the rainforest and Little Cam- it felt very real to me and it felt like I was there. The backstory of Little Cam was very interesting too. There's definitely a dark nature to this book as well in regards to scientific research and how far some people willing to go in pursuit of that. It's an interesting topic. Of course, I was not a fan of the scientists who were very cold-blooded. I did however really like the new scientist that comes in a little ways into the book- I cannot remember her name and am too lazy to look it up. But I really enjoyed her.

Overall, an amazing debut (and possibly standalone- I can't find info on Khoury's second book- which is always good). I cannot wait to see what Khoury writes next!

FTC: Received ARC at BEA. Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.

Monday, October 22, 2012

My Fake Boyfriend is Better Than Yours by Kristina Springer

My Fake Boyfriend is Better Than Yours by Kristina Springer
"Seventh grade was supposed to be fun, but Tori is having major drama with her BFF, Sienna. Sienna changed a lot over the summer—on the first day of school she’s tan, confident, and full of stories about her new dreamy boyfriend. Tori knows that she’s totally making this guy up. So Tori invents her own fake boyfriend, who is better than Sienna’s in every way. Things are going great—unless you count the whole lying-to-your-best-friend thing—until everyone insists Tori and Sienna bring their boyfriends to the back-to-school dance."- summary from Amazon

This was such a cute little story! Springer's novels are always so much fun to read and I laugh out loud quite a bit. I loved the fake boyfriend concept and the one-upping between the two girls. The stories just kept getting crazier and crazier until the climax and there's a little shocker at that point. I loved the ending when the two friends made up.

Overall, just an adorable book. Great for middle-schoolers and just for whenever you need a fun, light read!

FTC: Received ARC from publisher. Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

In My Mailbox- Week of Oct 15 + Retrospective

I did another vlog this week with some more fantastic books! Enjoy!

Books Shown:

Furious by Jill Wolfson (ARC, April 2013)
Paper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff (ARC, Jan 2013)
Big Nate: In A Class by Himself Special Edition by Lincoln Pierce (hardcover, Oct 2012)
The Turning by Francine Prose (hardcover, Sept 2012)
Christmas in Sugarcreek by Shelley Shephard Gray (paperback, Oct 2012)
Slated by Teri Terry (ARC, Jan 2013)
Rise by Andrea Cremer (ARC, Jan 2013)
Wildwood and Under Wildwood by Colin Meloy and Kurtis Ellis (paperback and hardcover, Oct 2012)
Charlotte's Web (60th Anniversary Edition) by E.B. White (hardcover, Oct 2012)
Warriors 3-pack by Erin Hunter (paperback, Oct 2012)
100% Official Justin Bieber: Just Get Started (hardcover, Oct 2012)
One Direction Behind the Scenes (paperback, Oct 2012)

and here's a retrospective:

Monday- I reviewed Between You and Me by Marisa Calin, which is in stores now!

Wednesday- I reviewed Secret Letters by Leah Scheier, which is in stores now!

Friday- I reviewed Liar and Spy by Rebecca Stead, which is in stores now!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Liar and Spy by Rebecca Stead

Liar and Spy by Rebecca Stead
"When seventh grader Georges (the s is silent) moves into a Brooklyn apartment building, he meets Safer, a twelve-year-old coffee-drinking loner and self-appointed spy.

Georges becomes Safer's first spy recruit. His assignment? Tracking the mysterious Mr. X, who lives in the apartment upstairs. But as Safer becomes more demanding, Georges starts to wonder: how far is too far to go for your only friend?"- summary from Amazon

I really enjoyed Stead's previous book and was really excited to read this one. It sounded really interesting- I love spy activity. It didn't disappoint. I loved all the characters; they were all very unique and captivating. Stead wrote a fascinating book about friendship and, to a smaller extent, family. It's a short book so most of the focus is on Georges and Safer's spy activities, but Georges' relationship with his parents is included a bit and there's a whopper of a reveal toward the end of the book, which I didn't see coming.

Overall, I'll be keeping an eye on Stead from now on. Her books are just wonderful to read. I also loved that this one had a bit more humor in it than When You Reach Me.

FTC: Received e-galley from Netgalley. Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Secret Letters by Leah Scheier

Secret Letters by Leah Scheier
"Inquisitive and observant, Dora dreams of escaping her aristocratic country life to solve mysteries alongside Sherlock Holmes. So when she learns that the legendary detective might be her biological father, Dora jumps on the opportunity to travel to London and enlist his help in solving the mystery of her cousin’s ransomed love letters. But Dora arrives in London to devastating news: Sherlock Holmes is dead. Her dreams dashed, Dora is left to rely on her wits—and the assistance of an attractive yet enigmatic young detective—to save her cousin’s reputation and help rescue a kidnapped heiress along the way."- summary from Amazon

I will say I was a bit apprehensive when starting this book because I'm not much of a fan of historical fiction. Then when I started reading, I wasn't totally into the story and considered putting it down. But I kept on plugging and REALLY got into it, having trouble putting it down.

I really enjoyed reading Dora's journey as an amateur detective and seeing her relationship develop with Peter. I LOVED Peter as a romantic interest and Scheier did a great job providing depth to the characters and their backstories that caused obstacles on their path to each other. This was not a insta-love, they're together right away type of situation.

The mysteries were fantastic and the twists and turns were great and paced well. Dora is a well-rounded character too- she is both sassy and reserved and it made her so realistic. She's not afraid to break expectations and rules, but she does keep them in mind at times.

Overall, a really great book and I'd love to see more of these characters or, if not, just another novel from Scheier. She's a writer to keep your eye on!

FTC: Received e-galley from Netgalley. Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Between You and Me by Marisa Calin

Between You and Me by Marisa Calin
"Phyre knows there is something life-changing about her new drama teacher, Mia, from the moment they meet. As Phyre rehearses for the school play, she comes to realize that the unrequited feelings she has for Mia go deeper than she's ever experienced. Especially with a teacher. Or a woman. All the while, Phyre's best friend-addressed throughout the story in the second person, as "you"-stands by, ready to help Phyre make sense of her feelings. But just as Mia doesn't understand what Phyre feels, Phyre can't fathom the depth of her best friend's feelings...until it's almost too late for a happy ending."- summary from Amazon

It took me a little bit of time to get into the book, which I was a bit surprised about because I thought the play format was so cool. I thought this would be a book I'd be flipping the pages of, but not so much right away. This may have been one of the e-galleys that I started, then put it down and read another e-galley before going back to it.

I don't know exactly what it was that kept me from really enjoying the novel. I liked it well enough and there was a lot of interesting stuff here (the format, theatre, best friend only referred to as "you", the sexual orientation confusion), but it wasn't an amazing book. I did really enjoy the theatre aspect because I love when theatre is involved in a plotline.

I also thought I had figured out the gender of the best friend, but then I wasn't so sure. There was an instance when I thought of a boy when Phyre answers the door in just an oversized t-shirt and nothing underneath and she was embarrassed. I feel like if the best friend was a girl, it wouldn't matter. You have the same parts. But then there was another time when Phyre was undressing in front of her best friend (or something like that) that made think the best friend was a girl. So I don't know. If you've read the book, what do you think?

Overall, an okay book, but probably just a library read.

FTC: Received e-galley from Netgalley. Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

In My Mailbox- Week of Oct 8 + Retrospective

I did another vlog this week, and it's still kinda long. I just ramble way too much about awesome books (and long ones), and also spend like 30 seconds in silence reading the back of a book to myself. Enjoy!

Books Shown:

Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys (ARC, Feb 2013)
The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson (ARC, Feb 2013)
Crash and Burn by Michael Hassan (ARC, Feb 2013)
Shards and Ashes by Melissa Marr and Kelley Armstrong (ARC, Feb 2013)
The Trouble with Flirting by Claire LeZebnik (ARC, Feb 2013)
Arcadia Burns by Kai Meyer (ARC, Feb 2013)
Mind Games by Kiersten White (ARC, Feb 2013)
Pivot Point by Kasie West (ARC, Feb 2013)
A Cowboy for Christmas by Lori Wilde (paperback, Oct 2012)
Charlotte Street by Danny Wallace (paperback, Oct 2012)
Forgotten by Catherine McKenzie (paperback, Nov 2012)
Scarlet by Marissa Meyer (ARC, Feb 2013)
Touching the Surface by Kimberly Sabatini (hardcover, Oct 2012)
Dark Eden 1 + 2 by Patrick Carman (paperback and hardcover)
Don't Turn Around by Michelle Gagnon (hardcover)
Feedback by Robison Wells (hardcover)
Fang Girl by Helen Keeble (paperback)
Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard (hardcover)
Ten by Gretchen McNeil (hardcover)
The Turning by Francine Prose (hardcover)

and here's my retrospective, which again has some lonely posts. Have you all abandoned me?!-

Monday- I posted my In My Mailbox on this day because of two blog tour posts happening on Sunday.

Wednesday- I reviewed Every Day by David Levithan, which is out in stores now!

Friday- I interviewed Tiffany Schmidt, author of Send Me A Sign, as part of a blog tour.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Blog Tour- Interview with Tiffany Schmidt

1) How did you get the idea for Send Me A Sign?

Like most of my book ideas, Send Me A Sign began because I was in A Mood. I don't remember why I was in A Mood, just that I was in one. Despite this, St. Matt (my husband) insisted that we go out for a date night and I Did. Not. Want. To. In the car, I was grumbling and said something along the lines of "the next song on the radio will determine how our night will go" -- only then I became instantly fascinated with the idea of someone that superstitious.

I never even turned the radio on. Instead I dug a notebook out of my purse and began to scribble notes about the character who would become Mia. I continued to scribble through the movie we'd gone to see. When we got home, I put iTunes on shuffle-- the song that played first is the same song Mia listens to in chapter two.

Come to think of it, this probably wasn't all that great of a date night for St. Matt... I should offer him a notebook-free do-over.

2) What are you currently working on? Can you tell us anything about it?

I'm working on edits for my second book, BRIGHT BEFORE SUNRISE. It comes out winter 2014 and is told from dual perspectives -- Brighton, a 17-year-old, people-pleaser, who needs to be liked... and Jonah, the new guy who's moved to her town and has decided he hates her. The whole novel takes place in one night, during which Jonah and Brighton really challenge each other's perceptions -- of themselves, of each other, of the world in which they live.

3) What's your favorite Jelly Belly jelly bean flavor(s)? Or, if those aren't your thing, favorite snack?

This is easy! It's Juicy Pear. And also Peach. And Red Apple. Oh, and Root Beer. And definitely NOT Buttered Popcorn. *gags*

And while I love Jelly Belly beans, my true sugar addiction is Crazy Core Skittles (aka Revision Skittles). I only allow myself to eat them while working on hardcore edits, and even then there's THE RULE: One Skittle per every page revised. Obviously I need to have a bag (and a back-up bag) in the house at all times, but I can't know where they are or I'll be too tempted, so St.Matt has to hide them until I'm about to revise.

Is it any wonder that revision is my favorite step in the writing process?

4) What book(s) are you currently reading, or are about to start?

I read a lot-- two to three books on a slow week, sometimes more than seven. Usually more than one at a time (one on my phone, one by the bed, one downstairs, one on the elliptical). Currently I'm working on David Levithan's Every Day, Libba Bray's The Diviners, Holly Black's Black Heart, and Jordan Sonnenblick's Curveball, The Year I Lost My Grip. They are all brilliant and make me insanely jealous of their talent!

5) Can you tell me a bit about Team Morgan, and how that's going?

Morgan was a former student of mine who was diagnosed with cancer the year she was in my class. It was also the year I was writing SEND ME A SIGN and the book is dedicated to her. Tragically, Morgan passed away last January. Team Morgan is a Facebook community that was initially created to keep people informed about how Morgan was feeling and the different events and fundraisers in the area for her benefit.

Since Morgan has passed, the group has continued in her honor. They are still very active and do different activities and fundraisers in her memory -- for example, making fleece blankets to give to cancer patients at the local children's hospital or organizing a large group to walk in the Philadelphia Race For Hope. I feel honored to be a member of a group that's become such a positive legacy for a remarkable young lady.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Every Day by David Levithan

Every Day by David Levithan
"Every day a different body. Every day a different life. Every day in love with the same girl.

Every morning, A wakes in a different person’s body, a different person’s life. There’s never any warning about where it will be or who it will be. A has made peace with that, even established guidelines by which to live: Never get too attached. Avoid being noticed. Do not interfere.

It’s all fine until the morning that A wakes up in the body of Justin and meets Justin’s girlfriend, Rhiannon. From that moment, the rules by which A has been living no longer apply. Because finally A has found someone he wants to be with—day in, day out, day after day."- summary from Amazon

Okay, can someone please explain to me how David Levithan can come up with such unique premises and then deliver so well on them, while also being in charge at Scholastic? It's crazy how talented this man is, but it just reaffirms why he's one of my very favorite authors. It has been a while since I've read a book by just him, which was Wide Awake in 2006 (I've read Dash & Lily and WGx2) so it was nice to read his writing again.

Anyway, I absolutely adored this book. Hearing the premise made me a bit wary about the execution, but I shouldn't have worried. Levithan handled this book so well and wrote it in such a compelling way. I really enjoyed getting to know A throughout the book.

There were a few points where I wanted to know more about the characters that A was inhabiting, particularly the Asian girl in the beginning, and that kinda made me sad about how the story had to be told. Also while the ending made sense, I was really hoping for something different.

Overall, another great book from Levithan and I can't wait to see what he's got up his sleeve next!

FTC: Received e-galley from Netgalley. Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.

Monday, October 8, 2012

In My Mailbox- Week of Oct 1 + Retrospective

I've got a vlog this week- a LOOOONG one! I hope you guys like it. There's a lot of great books here!

Books Shown:

The Carol Burnett Show (DVD)
The Great Unexpected by Sharon Creech (hardcover, Oct 2012)
Through to You by Emily Hainsworth (hardcover, Oct 2012)
We Killed: The Rise of Women in American Comedy by Yael Kohen (hardcover, Oct 2012)
Unremembered by Jessica Brody (ARC, March 2013)
Shades of Earth by Beth Revis (ARC, Jan 2013)
Falling for You by Lisa Schroeder (ARC, Jan 2013)
Just One Day by Gayle Forman (ARC, Jan 2013)
Where You Are by J.H. Trumble (ARC, Jan 2013)
The Believing Game by Eireann Corrigan (ARC, Dec 2012)

and here's my retrospective for this week. Please go comment- it's been very lonely this week!

Monday- I reviewed Wishful Thinking by Amanda Ashby, which is out in stores now (as well as Book 2, with Book 3 coming out Oct 11!)!

Wednesday- I reviewed Transcendence by C.J. Omololu, which is out in stores now!

Friday- I interviewed C.J. Omololu, author of Dirty Little Secrets and Transcendence.

Sunday- I participated in two blog tours- The Other Normals by Ned Vizzini and Send Me A Sign by Tiffany Schmidt, both of which are in stores now!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Blog Tour- The Other Normals by Ned Vizzini

The Other Normals by Ned Vizzini
"Given the chance, fifteen-year-old Peregrine "Perry" Eckert would dedicate every waking moment to Creatures & Caverns, an epic role-playing game rich with magical creatures, spell casting, and deadly weapons. The world of C&C is where he feels most comfortable in his own skin. But that isn't happening—not if his parents have anything to do with it. Concerned their son lacks social skills, they ship him off to summer camp to become a man. They want him to be outdoors playing with kids his own age and meeting girls—rather than indoors alone, with only his gaming alter ego for company. Perry knows he's in for the worst summer of his life.

Everything changes, however, when Perry gets to camp and stumbles into the World of the Other Normals. There he meets Mortin Enaw, one of the creators of C&C, and other mythical creatures from the game, including the alluring Ada Ember, whom Perry finds more beautiful than any human girl he's ever met. Perry's new otherworldly friends need his help to save their princess and prevent mass violence. As they embark on their quest, Perry realizes that his nerdy childhood has uniquely prepared him to be a great warrior in this world, and maybe even a hero. But to save the princess, Perry will have to learn how to make real connections in the human world as well."- summary from Amazon

Wow, this was one really cool book. Perry's voice pulled me in and kept me turning the pages. I loved reading his journey and seeing his character develop over the course of the novel.

Vizzini did a great job creating the world of the other normals. I really liked being in that world and meeting those new creatures. I also loved the combination of action and humor. There's plenty of action-packed scenes in this book, which made for a compelling read.

Overall, a great read and it really makes me want to read more from Vizzini.

and here's an interview with Ned Vizzini:

1) How did you get the idea for The Other Normals?

After It's Kind of a Funny Story, I was trying to write an adult novel, but that didn't work out. So I decided to try YA again. This was in 2009. I started with a simple idea about a romance at summer camp. A guy and girl were going to fall in love and the girl would be named Summer so the book could be called “Camp Summer.”

I got about a quarter of the way through that book before I got this vision in my head: a man with red skin and a tail smoking pebbles in the woods. I wondered, What would this book be like if THAT guy were at camp? And the book turned from “Camp Summer” into The Other Normals.

2) I saw in your bio that you've written for TV shows like Teen Wolf and Last Resort. How did you get into screenwriting and is it vastly different from how you write novels?

I got into writing for TV by finding a writing partner. His name is Nick Antosca and he writes literary horror novels – very different from what I do. But we were friends for years and we loved some of the same things in TV, like The Shield and the pilot script for Lost. So we decided to write a TV pilot. That got us some attention and we came out to Hollywood and worked on Teen Wolf and now, Last Resort.

It is vastly different from writing novels. It's collaborative, first of all – not just with Nick, with everyone who makes a TV show come together. And the part of writing a novel where you are in a room drafting by yourself is accomplished in TV by “breaking story,” when you sit around a table in an office trying to talk out an episode. So you need to be able to have a four-hour conversation to write for TV.

3) What is your favorite Jelly Belly jelly bean flavor(s)? Or, if you don't eat those, favorite snack that you have while writing or as a reward for getting writing done?

I have never understood why people like jelly beans. My favorite snack for getting good writing done is peanuts and beef jerky.

4) What are you currently working on, and what book(s) are you reading or are about to start?

I'm currently working on Last Resort on ABC! I am typing this in Hawaii, where I am with Nick, on set for the episode that we wrote: episode 7, “Nuke It Out.” It will air on 11/15/12. You can see pictures from the set on @LastResortRoom.

As to what I'm reading: Year Zero by Rob Reid. Very Hitchhiker's, very absurd, very fun.

Thank you for having me, James, and for everything you do for YA!

FTC: Received ARC from publisher. Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.

Blog Tour- Send Me A Sign by Tiffany Schmidt

Send Me A Sign by Tiffany Schmidt
"Mia is always looking for signs. A sign that she should get serious with her soccer-captain boyfriend. A sign that she'll get the grades to make it into an Ivy-league school. One sign she didn't expect to look for was: "Will I survive cancer?" It's an answer her friends would never understand, prompting Mia to keep her illness a secret. The only one who knows is her lifelong best friend, Gyver, who is poised to be so much more. Mia is determined to survive, but when you have so much going your way, there is so much more to lose."- summary from Amazon

I really liked this book. Schmidt is a great new voice in contemporary YA, and I can't wait to read more from her. It's hard to say I enjoyed reading Mia's story because of what she's going through and all the lies, fighting, and crumbling relationships between her and other characters, but um, I still did. Her voice and predicament were compelling and layered. All of her relationships had depth to them and felt very realistic.

Overall, a fantastic debut that fans of contemporary novels will absolutely love. Look for an interview I did with Tiffany later this week!

FTC: Received e-galley from Netgalley. Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Author Interview- C.J. Omololu

1) Transcendence is so different from your debut YA Dirty Little Secrets, not necessarily in terms of tone but mainly in genre. What prompted the switch? How did you get the idea for Transcendence?

The two books are REALLY different – the first one is a contemporary about a girl living with her mother who is a hoarder and the second is paranormalish about reincarnation and destiny. I tried really hard to stay in one genre for a few books and do another issue book after that, but once I was done with Dirty Little Secrets, I wanted to have some fun – Transcendence was that for me, not too many issues, just a fun ride, along with some making out. The idea for Transcendence came to me at the funeral for a friend’s thirteen year old son. It was probably the saddest day I’ve ever experienced – he died suddenly and I had a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that he was just gone. That’s when I started thinking how much better it would be if reincarnation were really true and that he could get another chance someday. So I guess, Transcendence was really a coping mechanism for such a sad event, even though it’s not a sad book. His name was Griffon, which is why I named my character after him and why the book is dedicated to him.

2) What are you working on currently? Can you tell us anything about it?

I’m just finishing up the copyedits for the sequel to Transcendence – it’s called Intuition and will be out in June of 2013. I feel like I wrapped up the story in Transcendence pretty well, but if you read the last couple of chapters carefully, you probably have a pretty good idea where Intuition will start. I really loved writing with characters who I already knew well, and throwing some new ones in the mix – the story ended up being much bigger than I intended and I really, really love this book. I’m also writing a standalone contemporary psychological thriller – I’d tell you more, but then I’d have to kill you, so that’s it for now.

3) You went to Scotland for a year in college and also somehow were in Rome as well. Can you tell us about these trips? Any funny anecdotes?

I did – I spent my senior year in Scotland and then traveled the next summer, which is how I ended up in Rome. I was the only American among my group of friends in Scotland and they were constantly making fun of me. They told me things like the signs for “Heavy Plant Crossing” were for a slow moving group of pine trees that only grew in Scotland. I actually believed them until I realized how hard they were all laughing (it really means that is the place where heavy machinery crosses the road – but what did I know). I was in Florence with friends and we all pooled our meager money to go and buy some groceries – jarred sauce and pasta at this tiny little shop. Somehow, we picked up the wrong bag at the cash register and when we got back to the hostel found we had a bag full of really expensive cheese, prosciutto, olives and wine. Being good kids, we sent someone back to the store, but the person who had our sad little bag never showed, so we had a fabulous dinner that night. If you ever get the chance to live abroad, take it! It is still one of the best experiences of my life.

4) What's your favorite Jelly Belly jelly bean flavor(s)? Or, if you're not into those, favorite snack?

Easy peasy – Caramel Corn Jelly Bellies. I have a 4lb jar of them from Costco on my desk right now, with most of the Caramel Corn ones already picked out.

5) What book(s) are you currently reading, or are about to start?

I’m about to start Seraphina by Rachel Hartman. I’m not super into high fantasy, but everyone says that you don’t need to be to love it. After that will probably be Every Day by David Levithan. The man is a genius and quite possibly a cyborg because of the amount of great and amazing things he does.

6) You wrote some bonus material for a free e-book sampler, which included a chapter from Griffon's point of view. How was it writing from his perspective?

So great! I LOVED writing from a boy POV and haven’t ruled out writing some kind of companion book or short story with him as the narrator. I have a ‘book of my heart’ about race and identity that I wrote from a boy POV that I hope gets picked up some day. It’s too bad that boy narrators are a harder sell in YA, because I love writing them.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Transcendence by C.J. Omololu

Transcendence by C.J. Omololu
"When a visit to the Tower of London triggers an overwhelmingly real vision of a beheading that occurred centuries before, Cole Ryan fears she is losing her mind. A mysterious boy, Griffon Hall, comes to her aid, but the intensity of their immediate connection seems to open the floodgate of memories even wider.

As their feelings grow, Griffon reveals their common bond as members of the Akhet—an elite group of people who can remember past lives and use their collected wisdom for the good of the world. But not all Akhet are altruistic, and a rogue is after Cole to avenge their shared past. Now in extreme danger, Cole must piece together clues from many lifetimes. What she finds could ruin her chance at a future with Griffon, but risking his love may be the only way to save them both."- summary from Amazon

This is such a departure from Omololu's previous book but I didn't mind. First off, I was just excited to be reading another book from her because I loved her debut so much. Secondly, I really enjoy it when authors switch things up a bit.

Omololu created a really interesting world and backstory here. I'm very interested in reincarnation tales and kinda wish there was more of them. This whole story had so many twists and turns, it was insane. I loved reading about Cole's journey and the spark between her and Griffon (also, yay for love interest of color who's also on the cover!).

The climax was just explosive and I couldn't turn the pages fast enough. I cannot wait for book 2, out next year!

FTC: Received book from author (so sweet!). Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Wishful Thinking by Amanda Ashby

Wishful Thinking by Amanda Ashby
"After Sophie accidentally gets herself turned into a djinn, she starts to think that it might not be so bad after all. (Of course, that's after she gets the whole orange skin problem sorted out.) Who wouldn't enjoy having the power to grant wishes! But when Sophie develops RWD (Random Wish Disorder) and can't STOP granting wishes, things get more than a little mixed-up!"- summary from Amazon

I so love Ashby's books. There's always such a wonderful humorous voice paired with the paranormal aspect, this time involving a genie. Ashby did a great job getting Sophie's voice just right and I had problems putting the book down.

I really enjoyed the various relationships in the book. Sophie's friends were the best and I loved reading scenes with them. I also liked the presence of Sophie's mom in the book and it brought up a couple more serious issues (finances, moving, Sophie's dad leaving). I also liked Malik's character and laughed a lot when he was on the page.

Overall, a start to a really fun series. I have Book 2 as well and cannot wait to read it. Also, the third book is out Oct 11! So get reading!

FTC: Received signed book from author (who lives in Australia- wasn't that sweet of her?!). Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.