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

Friday, March 29, 2013

Blog Tour- 17 and Gone by Nova Ren Suma

Source: flickr.com via Nova on Pinterest

Last year, when I was deep into writing 17 & Gone, I discovered an exciting new distraction and way to collect images that fascinated me: Pinterest. What started off as maybe one more thing to keep me from writing turned into a great source of inspiration, and my 17 & Gone inspiration board was born. I’d often write with the images up on my screen, staring at them in pauses between paragraphs. On each stop on this blog tour I’m highlighting one of the photos that spoke to me and helped me find my way through the darkness of writing this book. This is the very last image I’ll show for the tour, but it’s an important one.

Fire. That red glow. I must have stared at this photograph by Michelle Mobley for hours while I was writing the climax scenes in 17 & Gone. It set a mood… and so much came from that.

Which is what I keep going back to: the fires. It’s all I dream of now, since the house is gone. This time it’s not wishful and imaginary, it’s a memory of something I did with my own two hands.
—from 17 & Gone, page 335

This image and the nonchalant way the girl stands in the glow said so much to me about the story. Not to mention the color scheme. It was such a thrill and fitting surprise when the final 17 & Gone jacket image was sent my way: It seemed like the cover designer somehow knew how connected I felt to that moment in the story, that moment illuminated by this photo on Pinterest, and made the jacket come to life in the same way. It’s a perfect coincidence.

I’ve featured ten images from my 17 & Gone inspiration board on Pinterest in this blog tour, but there are so many more inspiring photographs that influenced the writing of the book. Check out the whole inspiration board here. I’m grateful for the work of all these talented photographers.

Blog tour schedule:

Monday, 3/18: Mundie Moms
Tuesday, 3/19: Confessions of a Readaholic
Wednesday, 3/20: The Compulsive Reader
Thursday, 3/21: The Mod Podge Bookshelf
Friday, 3/22: Anna Reads

Monday, 3/25: The Story Siren
Tuesday, 3/26: A Good Addiction
Wednesday, 3/27: Radiant Reads
Thursday, 3/28: Presenting Lenore

Seventeen-year-old Lauren is having visions of girls who have gone missing. And all these girls have just one thing in common—they are 17 and gone without a trace. As Lauren struggles to shake these waking nightmares, impossible questions demand urgent answers: Why are the girls speaking to Lauren? How can she help them? And . . . is she next? As Lauren searches for clues, everything begins to unravel, and when a brush with death lands her in the hospital, a shocking truth emerges, changing everything.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Dance of Shadows by Yelena Black

Dance of Shadows by Yelena Black
"Vanessa Adler isn't so sure she really belongs at the School of American Ballet. But dance runs in her family. It's been a part of her life for as long as she can remember. Her grandmother and mother were prima ballerinas, and her older sister Margaret was, too. That is, until Margaret mysteriously disappeared from school three years ago. Vanessa is heir to the family's gift and the only person who can fulfill her sister's destiny. She has no choice.

But she never could have guessed how dangerous the school is. The infamous choreographer, Josef, isn't just ruthless with his pupils, he guards a sinister secret, one in which the school's dancers-prized for their beauty, grace, and discipline-become pawns in a world of dark, deadly demons."- summary from Amazon

I was a bit excited to read this book because I mean, seriously, look at that description. Mystery, demons, ballet- what more could you want? However, I was a bit let down. A lot of the secondary characters seemed to blend together so even though there were different names, I never felt a real connection. I did enjoy Blaine though- the gay friend (of course lol). The dialogue and prose felt a bit stilted at times, and just didn't seem realistic to me. I also felt like the book was overly long, and everyone was SO VAGUE ALL THE TIME. I wanted to slap people (mainly the two love interests) for being all "I want to tell you something, but I can't because I need to protect you." Even though you know that then the main character is going to be all "I'm gonna find out what it is anyway" and get in trouble and needs saving. The best way of protection is to let them know what's going on. There's suspense and then there's this, where vagueness is just repeated over and over for the sake of suspense. No, just ... no. This book could've been cut in half and probably should have been.

OK, I got a bit riled up there. There are some good things to this book. I did like the mystery of it all, which is the main reason I kept reading. I wanted to find out what had happened to Vanessa's sister and oooh, it's a doozy! Black did a good job working on the mythology of sorts for that aspect of the book- it was very interesting. I liked some characters- Vanessa was cool as a main character and I liked her voice. Blaine was fun whenever he was in a scene. Not really sure what else to say.

Overall, an average debut. I might read the sequels if I have time because it's an interesting premise and this book was left off in an intriguing place, but it's not something I'd need to have.

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

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Blog Tour- Going Vintage by Lindsey Leavitt + Interview

Going Vintage by Lindsey Leavitt
"When Mallory discovers that her boyfriend, Jeremy, is cheating on her with an online girlfriend, she swears off boys. She also swears off modern technology. Inspired by a list of goals her grandmother made in 1962, Mallory decides to "go vintage" and return to a simpler time (when boyfriends couldn't cheat on you online). She sets out to complete grandma's list: run for pep club secretary, host a dinner party, sew a homecoming dress, find a steady, do something dangerous. But the list is trickier than it looks. And obviously finding a steady is out . . . no matter how good Oliver (Jeremy's cousin) smells. But with the help of her sister, she'll get it done. Somehow."- summary from Amazon

I'm a huge fan of Leavitt's and pretty much love all her books. This was no exception. I had problems putting this book down. I'd finish a chapter, and then think "Oh, I'll just read the little list at the beginning of the next chapter and be done." That never happened. I'd always want to read a little bit more until I was basically forced to stop. I loved the little lists at the beginning of each chapter; it was a cute idea.

I absolutely loved Mallory's voice as well as her as a character. She's very likable and I think lots of people will connect with her. It was interesting watching her live her life without technology and finding out that when she tries to simplify things, they become way more complicated. I loved watching her interactions with Oliver; I remember giggling a lot and may have also tweeted about wanting an Oliver of my own (and I guarantee you'll want one of your own after reading this book).

Leavitt also includes Mallory's family and it was fun seeing that because it's not something I feel like is usually represented in YA. Parents aren't always around and grandparents almost never. It was nice seeing Mallory have talks with her dad and I liked the little subplot around her grandma, who's still very feisty and active. It made the book's world much more real.

Overall, another great book from Leavitt and I cannot wait to see what she gives us next.

and here's an interview with Lindsey:

1) How did you get the idea for Going Vintage? Would you ever go vintage like Mallory did?

This article in The Wall Street Journal started the idea. http://online.wsj.com/public/article/SB118670164592393622.html A breakup drama involving a family member gave me plenty of material. And The List came after I found a list I wrote when I was 19, about what I wanted to accomplish in my life (and coolness-- #1 was publish a book!)

I actually did go vintage for one week while researching this book. I missed a lot of phone calls and important emails, but I read some great books and saw more of the sun than normal, so it was a worthwhile experiment.

2) What are you currently working on? Can you tell us anything about it?
I’m working on another YA contemporary for Bloomsbury that will likely be out in summer 2014. I can’t say much about it, because I still don’t have much to say, but the story is set in Vegas and involves wedding chapels. It’s probably the most romance-centered book I’ve ever written.

3) Since I've already asked your favorite Jelly Belly flavor, do you have a favorite snack to have while writing, or as a reward for getting writing done?

Rice Krispie Treats. Dark Chocolate. Diet Pepsi. Thin Mints=reward or hard core revision
Apple and string cheese=regular writing day

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

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell (LOVE)
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier (for book club)
And after that…
The Lucy Variations by Sara Zarr

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

Friday, March 15, 2013

Giveaway- Notes from Ghost Town by Kate Ellison (and The Butterfly Clues)

I absolutely adored The Butterfly Clues by Kate Ellison and now she has a new book out called Notes from Ghost Town. I'm in the middle of reading it and really enjoying it so far. A review will come next month. But for now, I've got a great giveaway for you guys from Egmont and Media Masters Publicity where one winner can receive a hardcover of Notes from Ghost Town and the new paperback of The Butterfly Clues (with new cover!)!

The contest is open to US and Canada only. All you have to do is leave a comment on this post by March 22 at 9pm EST and I'll select a winner then!

If you want to learn more about Egmont, follow them on Twitter or Facebook. You can learn more about Kate by visiting her Facebook or blog.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Taking Another Break

Alrighty, I keep taking breaks like once a year. I keep saying that I'll be focusing on writing and so far... that has not happened because I've been a bad aspiring writer. But now I really do plan on buckling down. My first plan of action is to revise and expand upon the short story I wrote for the Defy the Dark contest last year (which I just got an ARC of, by the way!) and submit it to another short story anthology, which hopefully I'll get into. If not, it'll be a good way to get my feet wet and back into the writing world.

After that, I'll get back to work on the novel I started like way back in July 2010 (yeah, THAT long ago). Along with that, I will be reading books and getting ahead on reviews as well. I won't be gone completely- I have a giveaway planned for next week, and a couple blog tours later in the month. I might do an IMM or two if I have time. But there won't be 3 posts per week like I normally do. I don't know how long this break will go, but I'd like to be back on April 1. It just depends on a few factors.

So anyway, I hope that you'll all still be around when I get back, and wish me luck on the writing thing. Keep an eye on my Twitter page where I'll post updates on my writing and what I'm reading. I'm really excited about what I'll accomplish in this month (and in the months to come).