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

Friday, August 30, 2013

Demonosity by Amanda Ashby

Demonosity by Amanda Ashby
"An ancient myth + a mean girl + a reluctant warrior = a lively take on good vs. evil

The Black Rose--a powerful ancient force--has been let loose and has taken up residence in Celeste Gibson, popular girl at Cassidy Carter-Lewis' high school. Thomas Delacroix is the spirit of a fourteenth-century knight who is devoted to protecting the Black Rose, but he needs a contemporary living being to take on the challenge. That's where Cassidy comes in. She's a quirky high school junior who just wants to dress in her vintage clothes, hang out with her best friend, and take care of her father, who is recovering from surgery. She's the last person who would ever volunteer for such a task, but no one actually asked her. Now, like it or not, she finds herself training before dawn and battling demons at parties, the mall, and even at school. But hey, no one ever said high school was going to be easy. . ."- summary from Amazon

I love reading a new Amanda Ashby book. I know to expect a fun, quirky paranormal read and it's always what I get. It's a nice break from all the serious paranormal reads, always focused on the battle between good and evil. Ashby's books do deal with that battle, but she infuses them with humor and a fun-loving protagonist. It's also nice to see something new each time I read one of her books; she never sticks with the same creature (aside from the Sophie trilogy, which focused on a djinn). It's exciting to see how she'll deal with the mythology of each one.

In this case, she's focusing on demons who are trying to get at something very powerful. Cassidy has to learn how to fight demons and keep the mean girl from being ripped to shreds. I loved reading her journey- coming to terms with this whole crazy thing, and then following through on it by becoming a warrior. Ashby also throws in a really neat twist at the ending that I really liked.

One thing I was proud of Ashby for including was an asexual friend who stayed asexual throughout the book. I may have hoped/worried that he was only pretending because he was in love with Cassidy and didn't want anyone else- thankfully not the case. I also liked the two romantic leads, though of course one more than the other; Ashby also managed to throw in a twist there too, which may have made me gasp.

Overall, such a good read to end your summer with. Go out and get it, and read her other books while you're at it too!

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

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Author Interview- Amanda Ashby

1) How did you get the idea for Demonosity?

I was researching something else (I can’t even remember what) when I stumbled across an old secret society called the Rosicrucians and the more I read about it, the more intrigued I was. I then played with the idea for ages and somehow brought the Knights Templar into it, but despite how much I loved it all, I couldn’t get it to gel into a story.

Unfortunately, before I realized that I couldn’t make it gel into a story, I had told my agent about it and a couple of months later I got an email from her asking where this new idea was. Whoops! Anyway, that forced me into action and I spent the weekend pulling together my ideas and coming up with Demonosity. I sent it to her on the Monday thinking that if she okayed it, that I’d star writing. Instead she sent it directly to my editor who bought it. It’s the first time I’ve sold a book entirely on proposal (and strangely enough, it was the easiest book I’ve ever written!)

2) I've noticed you have a new paranormal creature in each of your books, and you've covered angels, demons, djinns, zombies, and fairies. Is it fun writing something new with each story? Where do you think you'll go next?

It is lots of fun. I always want an idea to feel fresh – at least to me – so I try and look for odd things and then figure out a way to weave them into a story. My two current obsessions are birds and science fiction and I’ve written numerous plots to try and pull both ideas together. Not sure I’ve quite managed it yet, but watch this space!

3) You live in Australia. What do you love most about it?

The weather! I spent about eight years living in England and eight years living in New Zealand and after all of those cold winters, it’s been a delight to come back to the land of sunshine! I also love how feral it is. Obviously the urban centres have been tamed and covered in concrete but there is a real wildness about Australia (not to mention lots of snakes, spiders and strange marsupials) which I really love!

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

I’m currently reading Gameboard of the Gods by Richelle Mead. Her Vampire Academy and Bloodline books are my two favorite YA series so I’m really happy to be reading this new book! I’m also ridiculously excited about the VA movie!

5) What's your favorite snack to have while writing, or as a reward for writing?

My snack obsessions change all the time but I’m currently focusing all of my attention on Dark Chocolate. It has to be over 70% pure (which allows me to convince myself that it’s both delicious and healthy!). I also love coffee – but only nice coffee!

6) You had a three-book middle-grade series released last year, called Sophie's Mixed-up Magic. Was it different writing middle-grade? Will there be any more books in the series?

To begin with it was quite difficult to switch, mainly because I had to have a lot more parent involvement (I also started to understand why we have so many orphans in middle grade fiction!!!!!) But once I got the hang of it, I really enjoyed doing the Sophie books. Especially because I veer toward lighter books and this seems to fit in well with the market. Right now I don’t have any plans to do more Sophie books, but I’ve got a few other ideas that I’m working on, which are keeping me just as amused as Sophie did!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Blog Tour- Confessions of a Hater by Caprice Crane + Contest!

Confessions of a Hater by Caprice Crane
"High school was pretty much like this huge party I wasn't actually invited to, but I still had to show up to every day.

Hailey Harper has always felt invisible. Now her dad has a new job and the family is moving to Hollywood. Just what Hailey needs: starting a new high school.

As she’s packing, Hailey finds a journal that belonged to her older sister, Noel, who is away at college. Called "How to be a Hater," it’s full of info Hailey can really use. Has Hailey found the Bible of Coolness? Will it help her reinvent herself at her new school? Will her crush notice her? Will she and the other Invisibles dethrone the popular mean girls? After all, they deserve it. Don’t they?"- summary from Amazon

This is my first Crane book (I own one of her adult books and have been wanting to read her for years) and I gotta say, I really enjoyed it! Her YA debut is very funny with a lot of heart to it. Hailey's voice is compelling and one readers are going to love, though occasionally there were some places where she goes off on tangents that just didn't feel necessary. The back-and-forth girl fights are interesting, and Hailey and her friends come up with some crazy revenge plans.

Crane does a wonderful job though showing off the high school world and what it can entail and how far it can go sometimes. There's a plethora of diverse, well-developed characters and relationships, and the interactions are very realistic. I also loved that there was a friendship between a boy and a girl with no possibility of a relationship (and not because either is gay or asexual); it was a great touch and there needs to be more of that.

Even though it's not the intent of this novel (or YA novels in general), there's a great lesson here and one I hope readers will take away. It's better to love than to hate. Nothing lasting or substantial is gained from bringing other people down.

Overall, a pretty good YA debut and I'm really going to have to move her adult books to the top of my TBR pile soon!

and here's my interview with Caprice:
1) How did you get the idea for Confessions of a Hater?

I wanted to tell a story where the outcasts were the heroes. I wanted to make "smart" and "creative" and "clever" and "different" what was cool. Normal is boring. Judging people who are different than you is detrimental. I wanted to create a world where all kinds of people can rise up and the lines of what "popular" is would get blurred.

2) What prompted the switch from adult to YA, and was it difficult writing for the different age group? Will you continue to write each, or end up focusing on one?

I feel like there are always struggles with hierarchy in school, and in life, and it was time for an updated version of that story so I switched because that was the story I wanted to tell. I will probably write both but who knows? If someone wanted more YA and that became the focus I wouldn't be mad at it. I love that age and it's certainly not difficult for me to get in that mindset because of my years writing for MTV and my experience writing for 90210. Also, I'm incredibly immature. ;)

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

I love Jelly Belly's and can't name a favorite but I can name the worst - bubble gum. Why do we need candy that tastes like other candy? Is the jelly bean so insecure it wants to be more like gum? Be proud of who you are little Jelly Belly! By the way did you know that chewing gum has been banned in Singapore? The more you know...

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

I'm about to start Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. I've had it for months and been meaning to read it and kept getting sidetracked but the time has come.

I've also got a hardcover copy of the book to give away as well! If you're a resident of the US or Canada, leave a comment on this post by Monday, Sept 2 at 9pm EST and you'll be entered!

To learn more about Caprice, check out these links:

Follow Caprice Crane on Twitter: https://twitter.com/capricecrane
Become a fan on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/writercapricecrane
Follow Caprice Crane on Instagram: http://instagram.com/capricecrane#
Author website: http://www.capricecrane.com/

The rest of the blog tour can be found here.

Friday, August 23, 2013

The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson

Quick note: My awesome blogger friend David is holding a wonderful contest right now. Go check it out and good luck to all!

The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson
No summary for this because a)spoilers and b) I could never find a good one. All the ones I found were like two sentences long. What kind of summary is that?!

Before I start this, if you haven't read this series yet, just go do it. It is amazing and awesome and a wonderful addition to the fantasy genre. You don't want to miss out on this. Plus, Tamora Pierce blurbed it- do you really need more encouragement?

Now, for those of you who have read the first two books (and maybe even the third, if you were lucky enough to get an advance copy; it'll be released on August 27), you know how great this trilogy is. You love this imaginative world that Carson has built, and all the characters therein (except of course for the bad guys). This final book is simply a fantastic, action-packed conclusion. So much is going on, and the pages just keep on turning. While I hated to see this story end, I was glad to have read it and happy to see how Carson decided to end it.

Carson also has some guts; she's not afraid to kill off characters and I don't just mean background people (though there are plenty of those too). Elisa loses some people she cares very deeply about over the course of the series, and while it's tough for her and for the reader, it's made her into the strong warrior that you see by the end of this last book.

There's also some great romance that's been building over the course of these three books, and it comes to a head in this final book and these final journeys that these characters take. It's all very swoon-worthy.

Overall, a wonderful conclusion to an amazing trilogy, and Carson has a fan for life. I cannot wait to read her new trilogy, and any books after that!

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

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

3:59 by Gretchen McNeil

3:59 by Gretchen McNeil
"Josie Byrne's life is spiraling out of control. And just when she thinks it can't get worse, she wakes to an image of herself in the bedroom mirror. Except it's not her at all—the girl in the mirror is blonder and prettier. And her name is Jo.

The two girls are doppelgängers whose universes overlap every twelve hours at 3:59. Fascinated by Jo's perfect world, Josie jumps at the chance to pass through the portal and switch places for a day.

But Jo's world is far from perfect, and the stuff of nightmares lurks around every corner. And when Josie finds herself trapped there, her life becomes more dangerous—and more deadly—than she ever imagined."- summary from Amazon

I am going to do my best to not fanboy this book all over the place, but I may not be able to help myself. I was already a fan for life after reading her previous book Ten, but this book just confirmed it all over again. Seriously, it was that good.

I don't even know where to begin with all this awesomeness. First off, the concept alone of parallel universes is very cool and how they overlap every 12 hours? Genius! Secondly, it's a very creepy, compelling book so while you're wanting to put the book down for fear of nightmares, you can't because you want to find out what happens next and how/if it all works out. McNeil writes it so fabulously and I would hate having to put it down at the end of my 15 minute breaks at work (may have gone over a few times to finish a chapter or read a few more pages, lol).

I loved Josie's character and how she really grows over the course of the novel. The ending is not what I expected, but I loved it. There's some really great twists and turns too, and reveals. I was gasping out loud every time a new twist came up because it was crazy and unexpected but it made sense.

Overall, another winner from McNeil. I cannot wait to read her next book, the first in a duology. It sounds so good. And if you haven't read any McNeil yet, get on it right away. Go out and buy all three books (well, you'll have to pre-order 3:59 as it's not out for a couple weeks).

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

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Authors are Rockstars- Jennifer Archer

I was so excited to be approached by the people in charge of Authors are Rockstars, asking me to host Jennifer Archer. Jennifer's written a ton of books, mainly for adults (which I haven't read but would really like to!) but has written two awesome books for young adults, the most recent of which, The Shadow Girl, was released earlier this year. Jennifer and I go back to when her debut YA Through Her Eyes was releasing. She was so sweet and excited to be my Fresh New Voice of YA (an old feature I used to do spotlighting debut YA authors) back in April 2011. We did lose touch but when ARCs were first printed of The Shadow Girl, she emailed me out of the blue asking for my address to ensure I received a copy. How awesome and thoughtful is that?! That just shows how much of a fantastic rockstar she is! I'm honored to have her here on my blog again for an interview. If you want to check out my reviews of both books, click on the titles- Through Her Eyes and The Shadow Girl- and click here for my previous interview with her.
1) How did you get the idea for The Shadow Girl?

When I was in 5th or 6th grade, I was alone in the school restroom one afternoon just before class. While I was washing my hands at the sink, I caught sight of my reflection in the mirror and for just a second, I felt a sense of disconnection with my own image. In that moment, I thought: Who are you? I have never forgotten that strange feeling of separation from my reflection, even though it only lasted a very brief time. I think that memory inspired my idea for The Shadow Girl. Also, I love ghost stories, and I wanted to write a story that has that same eerie tone but in which the ‘presence’ is something different than a ghost – something more.

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

I’m currently writing a story with the working title, Before I Wake. As is the case with The Shadow Girl and my earlier YA novel, Through Her Eyes, this story contains elements of psychological suspense and involves two girls whose lives are connected. I’m not sure why I’m drawn to that particular theme, but my muse seems to guide me there often!

3) What's your favorite snack to have while writing, or as a reward for writing?

I usually have a cup of coffee or tea nearby while I’m writing. I try not to snack too much while I’m actually in the process of putting words on paper, though. This is because of the fact that whenever I used to get hung up on a scene, I’d wander into the kitchen almost in a trance and find myself a few minutes later standing in front of the pantry stuffing crackers into my mouth. Sometimes I’d devour half the box before I realized what I was doing! This was not a good habit to get into for many reasons! Still, after a particularly good writing session – or after a particularly rough one -- I’ll allow myself something rich and gooey as a treat. On one recent evening after finishing my writing for the day, I met my critique group at a coffee shop and had a dark chocolate cupcake with dark chocolate icing. It was worth all the sugar and empty calories! I also love cherries. (And if they’re dipped in chocolate, all the better).

4) Pretty much all of your books are paranormal or have a paranormal element to them. What draws you to write that genre?

I believe in science, but I still can’t help thinking there is more to life beyond only what can be proved or explained. (At least, that can’t yet be proved or explained. Who knows what scientific discoveries will be made in the future that might answer all our questions?) I like to put my characters in situations that challenge their certainty about what’s real and what isn’t. I imagine it would be very frightening to be absolutely certain that something is happening – something most people consider impossible – and to
be the only one experiencing it. What a lonely position to be in! Would I be afraid to tell anyone for fear they’d think I’m insane? Would I start to question my own sanity? Would I accept without question what was happening, or set out to find a reasonable explanation? These are the questions I asked myself when writing The Shadow Girl and Through Her Eyes, as well as a couple of my other novels with paranormal elements. I liked figuring out how the characters would handle that challenge and what the outcome would be.

5) What book(s) are you currently reading, or are about to start? Any upcoming books you're excited about?

I am currently reading Stephen King’s Joyland. It’s much shorter than most of his other novels but the fact that he’s the consummate storyteller still shines through. As for upcoming books – I’m looking forward to Forgive me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick, the author who also wrote Silver Linings Playbook. It just came out this month and it sounds like an intriguing YA premise – a boy who writes letters to himself from the future.

Be sure to check out the whole Authors are Rockstars line-up at the official website!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Cover Reveal- Trust in Me by J. Lynn

I have an exciting cover reveal for you all today- the upcoming novella Trust in Me by J. Lynn, out on October 22! Before I show it off though, read the sexy description:

It’s Wait for You as you’ve never seen it. Trust in Me lets you in on Cam’s side of the #1 New York Times Bestselling story.

Cameron Hamilton is used to getting what he wants, especially when it comes to women. But when Avery Morgansten comes crashing into his life – literally – he finally meets the one person who can resist his soulful baby blues. But Cam’s not ready to give up. He can’t get the feisty and intriguing girl out of his head.

Avery has secrets, secrets that keep her from admitting the feelings Cam knows she has for him. Will persistence (and some delicious homemade cookies) help him break down her barriers and gain her trust? Or will he be shut out of Avery's life, losing his first real shot at the kind of love that lasts forever?

And now, the cover:

and there's a great giveaway going along with it!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Image Map

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Art of Wishing by Lindsay Ribar

The Art of Wishing by Lindsay Ribar
"Margo McKenna has a plan of attack for everything, from landing the lead in her high school musical to dealing with her increasingly absent parents. But when she finds herself in possession of a genie's ring and the opportunity to make three wishes, she doesn't know what to do. Especially since Oliver--not blue-skinned, not bottle-dwelling, but a genie nonetheless--can see more than what she's willing to show him. With one peek into her mind, he can see the wishes that even Margo herself doesn't know she wants.

But Oliver comes with more than just mind-reading abilities, a flair for magic, and the prettiest eyes Margo's ever seen. Someone from his past is hunting him--someone bent on killing him, along with all the other genies in the world, for the sake of honor. And as Margo soon discovers, it will take more than three wishes to save him.

A whole lot more."- summary from Amazon

First off, I want Book 2 now.

Honestly, that should tell you enough about how much I loved this book that I want more of it now. But I guess I must delve deeper!

Genies are very underutilized in YA. I feel like I've only read one other (As You Wish by Jackson Pearce) but I feel like I've read another and forgotten about it (if anyone knows, tell me in the comments). There needs to be more! This story was so good. I absolutely loved Ribar's prose; it flowed really well, and kept me reading huge chunks of pages in a sitting.

Margo is a great character (and she loves theatre- yay!), and I loved seeing her grow closer to Oliver as the story went on and he came more and more into her life. Such a sweet romance! Gah, I loved it! I can't wait to get back into this world and read about them again in the next two books.

Also, that ending came out of nowhere! I thought it was gonna go one way and then it went a completely different direction. Which was nice to see. I'm interested to see how the series continues from this point.

Overall, a wonderful debut and a thrilling start to a series. Go check it out!!

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

Monday, August 12, 2013

The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen

The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen
"Luke is the perfect boyfriend: handsome, kind, fun. He and Emaline have been together all through high school in Colby, the beach town where they both grew up. But now, in the summer before college, Emaline wonders if perfect is good enough.

Enter Theo, a super-ambitious outsider, a New Yorker assisting on a documentary film about a reclusive local artist. Theo's sophisticated, exciting, and, best of all, he thinks Emaline is much too smart for Colby.

Emaline's mostly-absentee father, too, thinks Emaline should have a bigger life, and he's convinced that an Ivy League education is the only route to realizing her potential. Emaline is attracted to the bright future that Theo and her father promise. But she also clings to the deep roots of her loving mother, stepfather, and sisters. Can she ignore the pull of the happily familiar world of Colby?

Emaline wants the moon and more, but how can she balance where she comes from with where she's going?"- summary from Amazon

I love reading a new Sarah Dessen book. It's like coming home. I liken it to reading a Meg Cabot book; I just get so lost in their worlds and absolutely love every second I'm reading their books. I just can't help it! It's fun reading a Dessen book though because she's set up two different locations for her books; this one takes place in Colby, where Along for the Ride took place, and I'm sure has been mentioned other times in previous books. But since there's basically two locales for her books, the reader really gets to know about a place and revisit it in future books.

Emaline is a wonderful main character and I really enjoyed reading her journey. And of course there's all the great side characters too- Emaline's family and her interactions with them are usually hilarious. It was great learning more about Clyde too, who I feel we got to meet in Along for the Ride but didn't learn much about him (I could be wrong though; it's been so long!). Theo and Ivy, the New Yorkers, were interesting additions too coming to a small town from a big city and seeing how they dealt with that was fun. Her absentee father (suddenly not absent) too provided some great character development for Emaline and some depth to the story.

I also really liked how the story ended, though I don't want to say anything about it for fear of giving away a spoiler. If you've read it though, chat with me!

Overall, ... COME ON! It's a new Dessen book- just go get it!

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

Friday, August 9, 2013

The Curiosities by Maggie Stiefvater, Tessa Gratton and Brenna Yovanoff

The Curiosities by Maggie Stiefvater, Tessa Gratton, and Brenna Yovanoff
"-A vampire locked in a cage in the basement, for good luck.
-Bad guys, clever girls, and the various reasons why the guys have to stop breathing.
-A world where fires never go out (with references to vanilla ice cream).

These are but a few of the curiosities collected in this volume of short stories by three acclaimed practitioners of paranormal fiction.

But The Curiosities is more than the stories. Since 2008, Maggie Stiefvater, Tessa Gratton, and Brenna Yovanoff have posted more than 250 works of short fiction to their website merryfates.com. Their goal was simple: create a space for experimentation and improvisation in their writing--all in public and without a backspace key. In that spirit, The Curiosities includes the stories and each author's comments, critiques, and kudos in the margins. Think of it as a guided tour of the creative processes of three acclaimed authors.

So, are you curious now?"- summary from Amazon

I'd started reading this book like a year ago when it was first on Netgalley, but I had to put it aside to read other books. Then it got archived way too early and had to beg for a physical copy (which is HUGE). Then it kinda took me a while to read it, but one day, I just felt like reading some short stories and picked it back up again. I started at the beginning since it had been so long, but I did recognize a few of the stories.

Anyway, long story short- this is a fantastic collection and when you finish, you'll want to pick up all of their novels just to spend more time with their words and worlds. I'm not kidding you; after finishing, I seriously wanted to read a book from each of them. The collection had put me into a mood for their writing. I ended up not doing that though because I needed to read other things, but I plan on doing it soon (and hopefully by the time this posts, I'll have done it).

It was great seeing into their critiquing relationship and reading their thoughts on each other's writing as well as where their ideas came from. Each story is usually preceded by a little note from that story's author as well as another of the Merry Fates (though some only included a note from the story's author), and then there are notes in the margins (generally of the "I love this line" or snarky variety) throughout the story. It was fascinating to read these and get a glimpse into their writing process and the art of the short story.

Occasionally sprinkled throughout are asides, like "What to Expect from a Story" and a section on their critiquing process. I wish there had been more of these, and hopefully there will be in their second collection, out in Fall 2014!

Seriously, this is a fantastic book about writing and critiquing, and has many wonderful short stories. I highly recommend it.

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

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Guest Blog+ Giveaway- Nora Olsen on Dystopian GLBT Literature

I’m so pleased to be a guest blogger on Book Chic! When I begged James for a topic, he asked me a great question. He wanted to know how did I come to write dystopian YA featuring LGBTQ characters. He very correctly pointed out that YA books with gay main characters tend to be in the contemporary vein.

First of all, for those of you who love your YA but don’t waste a lot of time thinking about categorization, the word “contemporary” has come to mean recent realistic fiction, books about our real world and the problems/delights that ordinary teenagers encounter. Contemporary YA often centers on a romance and/or a terrible problem (cutting, suicide, death in the family, you get the idea. . .) Think Sarah Dessen, Gayle Forman, Kody Keplinger, Susanne Colasanti, Justina Chen Headley, Robin Benway. So basically, no wizards, vampires, mermaids, apocalypses, terrifying future worlds, or any other speculative elements.

So what are some examples of these contemporary YA novels with LGBTQ main characters?
Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan
I Am J by Cris Beam
Andy Squared by Jennifer Lavoie
The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily Danforth
Out of the Pocket by Bill Konigsberg
Scars by Cheryl Rainfield
Sister Mischief by Laura Goode
The Vast Fields of Ordinary by Nick Burd
Without Sin by J. Tomas

Those books are all awesome! Nora, you dumb fool, why don’t you try to write novels like those? If less than 1% of YA novels have LGBTQ characters (as writer Malinda Lo did the research to establish) [link: http://www.malindalo.com/2011/09/i-have-numbers-stats-on-lgbt-young-adult-books-published-in-the-u-s/] , than why be so perverse as to write a subcategory of a subcategory? Aren’t I just shooting myself in the foot?

The truth is, I am very inspired by Toni Morrison’s quotation, “If there's a book that you want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it.” Picture a reader who loves dystopian YA but is bummed because there are hardly ever any LGBTQ characters in such novels. This reader never gets to see herself reflected in her favorite kind of book. All the other kids get to battle each other to the death or learn that they live in a giant maze/prison/clockwork world, just not the queer kids. It seems like all the characters who have to run for their lives, fight for freedom, and battle tyrannical rulers are straight. Why? That’s just the way it is. I was that sad reader.
That’s why I decided to write Swans & Klons, a dystopian novel about two girls in love named Rubric and Salmon Jo who are forced to flee when they discover the truth about their society. They end up helping slaves escape, but that’s all I’m going to give away about the plot. I really wanted the fact that the main characters were lesbians not to be a problem or anything that they had to overcome. So it turns out that they live in an all-female world where everyone is cloned. And that opened up all kinds of fun possibilities about how that came to pass and what life is like in that world.

My previous book, The End: Five Queer Kids Save The World, was a post-apocalyptic story about a group of teens who travel through time to avert nuclear war. It featured an ensemble cast who, it so happens, were bisexual, lesbian, and genderqueer.

I’m not the first person to note that there’s a particularly notable lack of diversity of all kinds in dystopian YA. You’ll also find that there are very few main characters who are people of color in dystopian YA.

It turns out that my novel Swans & Klons has a soulmate. Obviously a novel’s soulmate would be another novel, and that novel is The Culling by Steven Dos Santos. That book was published just two months before Swans & Klons, so it’s kind of a March-May romance, if you will. The Culling is a dystopian novel with a gay main character and a delightful element of romance amidst all the spattered blood and agony. I think people who love Swans & Klons will love The Culling, and vice versa.

There is going to be a sequel to Swans & Klons in which Rubric and Salmon Jo have further adventures and continue their struggle against the Doctors who control their society. But you know what? My next book actually will be a “contemporary”! So stay tuned in 2014 for the simple story of two girls who hate each other with the red-hot passion of a thousand suns. . . until they fall in love.

I’m offering a giveaway of one print copy of Swans & Klons plus a matching magnet and bookmark. Open to US addresses only. (Sorry, the entire rest of the world.) Just leave a comment on here by August 14 at 9pm EST and you're entered!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Author Interview- Jessi Kirby

1) How did you get the idea for Golden?

It’s hard to pinpoint one place where I got the idea, but I can think of one really early inspiration. To this day, in the town where I went to college, there is a billboard up with a picture of a girl who disappeared more than ten years ago. The story of her disappearance has become somewhat of a legend in the town, one which I always found fascinating, so I think that’s where Julianna’s story came from. Originally, the book was going to be much more focused on her, but in writing it, I found she was only a piece of it, and that Parker’s story was truly the focus.

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

Right now I’m working on my next contemp, which is more of a love story than anything else I’ve written. It’s a complicated love story, one that I hope will turn out romantic, and sad, and hopeful all at the same time.

3) I've already asked you your favorite Jelly Belly jelly bean flavor, so what's your favorite snack to have while writing, or as a reward for writing?

My most favorite treat to have while writing is Trader Joe’s Pomegranate and Blueberry Green Tea, and their Dark Chocolate Covered Espresso Beans. I swear the two together are like a magic focusing potion. My favorite reward for having written? A good glass of wine.

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

Right now it’s Ann Brashares’ adult novel, MYNAME IS MEMORY, which a love story that takes place over thousands of years as the two souls involved are reincarnated again and again. It’s beautiful and sad and romantic—right up my alley. On deck after that are LOTS of non-fiction books about the heart, it’s medical history, and its place in culture throughout history. You could call those books research for the one I’m working on now.

Friday, August 2, 2013

$50 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway!

I've got an awesome giveaway for you guys today! Cheryl and the folks at Appliances Online, a U.K. based appliance company, have kindly offered a $50 Amazon gift card for me to give away. All you have to do is just leave a comment on this post by Friday, August 9 at 9pm EST and you'll be entered; feel free to include what books you'll purchase with the card if you win (or whatever else you plan on buying). This contest is open to US & UK residents.