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frootjoos blogs about young adult and other juvenile literature... and doesn't get much sleep, it looks like.
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1. Trollhunters Giveaway

FTC Disclosure: samples & prizing are provided by Disney-Hyperion.

If you know anything about me, you know I love love love scary things. I grew up watching horror movies with my uncles on Friday nights and scaring the bejeezus out of myself with every episode of The Twilight Zone and Alfred Hitchcock Presents. I also like my horror with a side of humor/whimsy, so Guillermo del Toro is definitely high up on my top ten list of favorite directors. I don't re-watch horror movies very often, but when I do, The Orphanage is usually first in the rotation, followed closely by Pan's Labyrinth. My husband and I are huge fans of Pacific Rim, and he also recommends The Strain book series del Toro wrote with author Chuck Hogan. Now del Toro has teamed up with YA author Daniel Kraus for a fantastical horror novel illustrated by Gateway artist and creator Sean Murray. Read on for more about the book and a chance to win a horror fan starter pack!

Trollhunters by Guillermo del Toro and Daniel Kraus

Illustrated by Sean Murray

Released July 7, 2015 

About the book

"You are food. Those muscles you flex to walk, lift, and talk? They're patties of meat topped with chewy tendon. That skin you've paid so much attention to in mirrors? It's delicious to the right tongues, a casserole of succulent tissue. And those bones that give you the strength to make your way in the world? They rattle between teeth as the marrow is sucked down slobbering throats. These facts are unpleasant but useful. There are things out there, you see, that don't cower in holes to be captured by us and cooked over our fires. These things have their own ways of trapping their kills, their own fires, their own appetites."

Jim Sturges is your typical teen in suburban San Bernardino—one with an embarrassingly overprotective dad, a best friend named "Tubby" who shares his hatred of all things torturous (like gym class), and a crush on a girl who doesn't know he exists. But everything changes for Jim when a 45-year old mystery resurfaces, threatening the lives of everyone in his seemingly sleepy town. Soon Jim has to team up with a band of unlikely (and some un-human) heroes to battle the monsters he never knew existed.

From the minds of horror geniuses Guillermo del Toro and Daniel Kraus comes a new illustrated novel about the fears that move in unseen places.

About the Authors

Guillermo del Toro is best known for his critically acclaimed feature films, such as Pan's LabyrinthHelllboy, and Pacific Rim, as well as his best-selling Strain Trilogy.

Daniel Kraus is the award-winning author of Scowler and Rotters, and is the director of six feature films. He lives with his wife in Chicago. 

From Pan's Labyrinth to Hellboy to his best-selling novel The Strain, del Toro has captured the imagination through his works. His co-author Daniel Kraus is another award-winning author and filmmaker with a penchant for horror stories. Kraus' debut novel, The Monster Variations, was selected for New York Public Library's "100 Best Stuff for Teens." Fangoria called Rotters, his Bram Stoker-finalist and Odyssey Award-winning second novel, "a new horror classic." Kraus' 2013 title, Scowler, also won an Odyssey Award for best audiobook produced for children and/or young adults. 

About the Illustrator

Sean Murray is an illustrator, concept artist, author and teacher known for his work on video games such as Dungeons & Dragons Online and The Lord of the Rings Online, as well as the creator of The World of Gateway, which includes his fantasy guidebook Gateway: The Book of Wizards and the upcoming card game Gateway Uprising.

Take a peek inside!

Can something be dark and luminous at the same time? I think the illustrator does a great job at capturing the spirit of adventure.
Click each thumbnail to embiggen. Images below, copyright: Sean Murray.

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Trailer

Praise for Trollhunters

“Guillermo del Toro’s name on the cover of a children’s book—be sure the adventure is not for the timid hearted! He knows the young want stories that do not lie about the shadows under beds and bridges—and in human hearts. Trollhunters teaches us about both kinds. About true friendship, grim and slimy heroes, the strength of outsiders—and the courage it takes to face everyday life.”
— Cornelia Funke, bestselling author of the Inkheart trilogy
“Guillermo del Toro and Daniel Kraus have deftly forged a thrilling, nightmare-inducing monstrous world filled with terrifying trolls, lost boys and mysterious artifacts. The gruesome text, paired with ghoulish illustrations, makes for a fantastic adventure in an underground kingdom that’s just a dangerous as the trials and tribulations of middle school. I’m never looking under my bed again.”
— Tony DiTerlizzi, Bestselling author and co-creator of The Spiderwick Chronicles

Find the Book

IndieBound Amazon Barnes & Noble Books-a-Million

Learn more

Go to Un-RequiredReading.com / Follow Disney-Hyperion on Twitter & Tumblr / Check out the #Trollhunters hashtag

Giveaway Time!

THE HORROR FAN STARTER PACK

Get introduced to the genre!

One (1) winner will receive a Disney-Hyperion collection of Young Adult Horror Books including:

·         Trollhunters by Guillermo del Toro and Daniel Kraus

·         The Enemy by Charlie Higson

·         Lockwood & Co: The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud

·         plus branded Trollhunters pins!

Giveaway open to US addresses only. Prizing and samples provided by Disney-Hyperion.

  • Open to US only, ends 7/27/2015.
  • No purchase is necessary to enter a giveaway. Void where prohibited.
  • We and the publisher are not responsible for lost, stolen, or damaged items.
  • One set of entries per household please.
  • If you are under 13, please get a parent or guardian's permission to enter, as you will be sharing personal info such as an email address.
  • Winner will be chosen randomly via Rafflecopter widget a day or two after the contest ends.
  • Winner will have 48 hours to respond to to the email, otherwise we will pick a new winner.
  • If you have any questions, feel free to email us at readnowsleeplater@gmail.com
  • PLEASE DO NOT LEAVE ANY PERSONAL INFO IN THE COMMENTS. Sorry for the caps, but we always get people leaving their email in the comments. Rafflecopter will collect all that without having personal info in the comments for all the world (and spambots) to find.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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2. Me and Earl and The Dying Girl

Happy Comic-Con week, readers! Thuy and I are in San Diego for SDCC as usual. If you aren't, we are sorry, but also, here is what you might conceivably have available to do this week in your area (well, in most areas). If you go out to a movie theater this weekend, we hope you will go and see Me and Earl and The Dying Girl.

I've seen it twice now and am going a third time--can you tell that I love it?

Full disclosure: through a mutual friend, I know Jesse Andrews and have been lucky enough to host him twice at author events in Los Angeles, once for Barnes & Noble at The Americana, and once for the inaugural Pasadena Teen Book Festival (now Pasadena Loves YA). I've hugged him in a library parking lot. I've read Me and Earl and the Dying Girl 4 times, and laughed and cried through each re-read. I've sat on the sofa listening to my husband laugh out loud while reading the book, and shot him "I told you so" looks across the living room. So I knew going into the film that I might be a little biased.

YA Rising Stars with Jesse Andrews, Ann Stampler, Lissa Price, and Allen Zadoff at Barnes & Noble at The Americana in Glendale, CA; photo by Katie Ferguson

YA Rising Stars with Jesse Andrews, Ann Stampler, Lissa Price, and Allen Zadoff at Barnes & Noble at The Americana in Glendale, CA; photo by Katie Ferguson

The novel, Me and Earl and The Dying Girl, follows Greg Gaines (played in the film version by Beautiful Creatures's Thomas Mann) over the course of his senior year of high school as he befriends a classmate with leukemia (Rachel Kushner, played by Bates Motel's Olivia Cooke). His best friend Earl (played by the highly entertaining RJ Cyler) with whom Greg has been making homages to their favorite films since they were in kindergarten is an unlikely source of wisdom and truth. Along with some kooky parents, played by Connie Britton (Nashville), Nick Offerman (Parks & Recreation), Molly Shannon (SNL), a hardcore history teacher (Jon Bernthal of The Walking Dead), Greg and sometimes Earl try to befriend and entertain Rachel as she undergoes chemotherapy.

I know this all sounds horrible and sad, and not like a fun escapist summer flick, but I promise, though parts of the film are quite sad, much of it is as laugh-out-loud hilarious as the book. It's quirky and wonderful, occasionally crass, but frequently ebullient.

What I expected from the film was this:

  • an adaptation of a book about a pair of teens who make their own, inspired-by-cult-cinema, off-the-wall-silly home movies
  • a touching but realistic story about illness, death, and grief
  • stellar performances by little-known young actors bookended by more name-recognizable actors

Which I got.

What I didn't expect was this:

  • Fabulous sets and a weird hankering to visit Pittsburgh 
  • Hilarious little stop-motion short films
  • Between 2 to 4 floods of tears (I was expecting just one)
  • Brian. Eno. Soundtrack.

That Jesse Andrews was able to deliver a great screenplay without a traditional screenwriting background was impressive enough, but that TV director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon was able to pull off such a well-done feature-length movie, and filmed in a little under a month, was even more than I had hoped for. As a fan of the existing work, what you don't want is a director who loses the message of the novel in the endeavor to make a bankable movie using just a skeleton of the book. What Gomez-Rejon managed to do was connect with the heart of the book and translate those emotions--hilarity, confusion, and sadness--into the language of the cinephile. 

Fantastic casting didn't hurt a bit.

Jesse Andrews at Pasadena Teen Book Festival 2014, photo by Katie Ferguson

Jesse Andrews at Pasadena Teen Book Festival 2014, photo by Katie Ferguson

Oh, and at some point you'll hear a voiceover by Hugh Jackman. Yes, it's the real Hugh Jackman, not an impersonator. Unless that impersonator looks exactly like him and has control of his Instagram:

#MeandEarl @MeandEarl @foxsearchlight. THE STAIRWELL exclusive with (most of) the amazing cast and director, my mate, Alfonso Gomez-Rejon

A photo posted by Hugh Jackman (@thehughjackman) on

In short, go see it, you won't be disappointed! And if you check the #MeandEarl hashtag on Twitter, in addition to nice things people are saying about the movie (and by people I mean people with last names like Scorsese and Chbosky) you can find lots of official giveaways going on for clever movie-tie-in swag. I'm a little sad they didn't ask me to give one away! But that's ok, I bought 2 of the Hot Topic movie-tie-in shirts and am contemplating a third. (Because senior year did destroy my life.)

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is in theaters now. 

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3. The Princess and The Pony Giveaway

The Princess and The Pony by Kate Beaton

The Princess and The Pony by Kate Beaton

Hark! A giveaway! Read on for excerpts from cartoonist Kate Beaton's debut picture book,  The Princess and The Pony! Click the images for larger versions.

About the Book

Princess Pinecone knows exactly what she wants for her birthday this year. A BIG horse. A STRONG horse. A horse fit for a WARRIOR PRINCESS! But when the day arrives, she doesn't quite get the horse of her dreams...

From the artist behind the comic phenomenon Hark! A VagrantThe Princess and the Pony is a laugh-out-loud story of brave warriors, big surprises, and falling in love with one unforgettable little pony.

About the Author

Photo credit: Notker Mahr

Photo credit: Notker Mahr

Kate Beaton is the author of Hark! A Vagrant, her #1 New York Times bestselling collection of comics which began as a webcomic in 2007. The Princess and the Pony is her first picture book. She is the recipient of multiple Harvey awards, and her work has been featured in the New Yorker, Harper’s, and The Best American Comics Anthology. Kate lives in Toronto, and you can find her online at www.beatontown.com and on Twitter as @beatonna.


Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Samples & prizing are provided by Scholastic.

Alethea's Review

You can't really say I'm unbiased, since I've been a fan of Kate Beaton's work since before Hark! A Vagrant was available in book form. Her webcomic is off-color but still very clever, entertainingly drawn, and well-written. The Princess and The Pony is a lot less off-color and more colorful, and Beaton's signature sense of humor shines throughout.

The Princess and The Pony, pages 3-4

The Princess and The Pony, pages 3-4

Princess Pinecone is no ordinary princess. She's the offspring of two mighty warriors who rule over a land full of fighters, rogues, barbarians, and the like. And she would not like another cozy sweater for her birthday. Instead, she wants a mighty steed, a stallion, a powerful mount to ride into battle! Except, as things go, she may wish she had been more specific.

The Princess and The Pony, pages 7-8

The Princess and The Pony, pages 7-8

I mean, look at this pony. It's chubby. It's a little boss-eyed. It's a bit gassy. It couldn't strike fear into the heart of a romaine lettuce you're about to conquer. Princess Pinecone isn't happy with her present, but she tries to make the best of things.

The Princess and The Pony, pages 29-30

The Princess and The Pony, pages 29-30

Beaton's debut picture book does not disappoint. In addition to great artwork, a hilarious story, and a farty little pony, many readers will appreciate the biracial origins of Princess Pinecone, whose parents are a statuesque dark-skinned gladiatrix mom and a blond-bearded Viking dad. The knitter in me also appreciates all of the fun, silly, though not battle-appropriate cozy sweaters. If you get your hands on this book, make sure you take a moment to check out the back endpapers!

5 Stars - Stay up all night

Giveaway Time!

NOT YOUR AVERAGE PRINCESS prize pack

Two (2) winners each receive a copy of The Princess and the Pony. Just enter with the Rafflecopter widget below.

Please remember to include #PonyTime if you tweet about the book or the giveaway!

Prizes were provided by Scholastic.

  • Open to US only, ends 7/07/2015.
  • No purchase is necessary to enter a giveaway. Void where prohibited.
  • We and the publisher are not responsible for lost, stolen, or damaged items.
  • One set of entries per household please.
  • If you are under 13, please get a parent or guardian's permission to enter, as you will be sharing personal info such as an email address.
  • Winner will be chosen randomly via Rafflecopter widget a day or two after the contest ends.
  • Winner will have 48 hours to respond to to the email, otherwise we will pick a new winner.
  • If you have any questions, feel free to email us at readnowsleeplater@gmail.com
  • PLEASE DO NOT LEAVE ANY PERSONAL INFO IN THE COMMENTS. Sorry for the caps, but we always get people leaving their email in the comments. Rafflecopter will collect all that without having personal info in the comments for all the world (and spambots) to find.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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4. Pasadena Loves YA Recap

Hi, guys.  Today I am a posting a very late recap of last month's Pasadena Loves YA event. This was the second year of the event and it just keeps getting better each year. 2015 boasted an amazing line up of 20 fantastic YA authors.

Attending authors included Mary McCoy, Katie Alender, Victoria Aveyard, Alexis Bass, Julie Berry, Livia Blackburne, Virginia Boecker, Jessica Brody, Stephen Chbosky, Brandy Colbert, Ava Dellaira, Kody Keplinger, Liz Maccie, Morgan Matson, Lauren Miller, Alexandra Monir, Jennifer Niven, Romina Russell, Sarah Tomp, & Kiersten White.

I was volunteering again this year so I didn't have a lot of time to go to the panels and signings. I was able to pop into a couple of them though for a few minutes. The photos in this post were taken by our good friend Katie F. Katie is an amazing photographer and we are lucky that she makes the time to come to our events to take photos. 

Keynote speaker Mary McCoy. photo by Katie Ferguson

Keynote speaker Mary McCoy. photo by Katie Ferguson

The day started off with a keynote speech by Dead To Me author and LAPL teen librarian Mary McCoy. We have known Mary for a while now and her passion and love for YA shines through in everything she does. She started off the event on the right foot with her wonderful keynote speech. 

First up was the Second Chances panel featuring Brandy Colbert, Morgan Matson, Lauren Miller, and Sarah Tomp. 

Brandy Colbert, Morgan Matson, Lauren Miller, and Sarah Tomp. Photo by Katie Ferguson.

Brandy Colbert, Morgan Matson, Lauren Miller, and Sarah Tomp. Photo by Katie Ferguson.

Unfortunately I was not able to see any of this panel but I heard later that it was a good one and that it was standing room only. The signing line for the panel was long but everyone was super patient and the authors took a little time with all of their fans.

Lauren Miller. Photo by Katie Ferguson.

Lauren Miller. Photo by Katie Ferguson.

Morgan Matson and Sarah Tomp. Photo by Katie Ferguson.

Morgan Matson and Sarah Tomp. Photo by Katie Ferguson.

Next on the agenda was the The First Time: From Draft to Finish Line panel featuring Victoria Aveyard,  Alexis BassVirginia Boecker, Kody Keplinger. This was a really fun panel. Several of the authors came from northern California so it was a real treat to have them. Kody Kepliger was a favorite of mine and it was really cool to finally meet her.  Fans were so excited to meet the authors on this panel that they started a line during the panel. 

Victoria Aveyard, Alexis Bass, Virginia Boecker, and Kody Keplinger. Photo by Katie Ferguson.

Victoria Aveyard, Alexis Bass, Virginia Boecker, and Kody Keplinger. Photo by Katie Ferguson.

Kody Keplinger and a fan. Photo by Katie Ferguson.

Kody Keplinger and a fan. Photo by Katie Ferguson.

YA Sci-Fi & Fantasy was up next with Livia Blackburne, Jessica Brody, Romina Russell, and Kiersten White. This was another standing room only panel. Many of our authors were super nice and sat on the floor while watching panels in order to make room for fans. 

YA Sci-Fi & Fantasy panel with Livia Blackburne, Jessica Brody, Romina Russell, and Kiersten White. Photo by Katie Ferguson.

YA Sci-Fi & Fantasy panel with Livia Blackburne, Jessica Brody, Romina Russell, and Kiersten White. Photo by Katie Ferguson.

Kiersten White and  Livia Blackburne. Photo by Katie Ferguson.

Kiersten White and  Livia Blackburne. Photo by Katie Ferguson.

The lovely Jessica Brody. Photo by Katie Ferguson.

The lovely Jessica Brody. Photo by Katie Ferguson.

The next panel of the day was Dial "M" for Murder. This panel featured Katie Alender, Julie Berry, Mary McCoy, and Alexandra Monir. 

Alexandra Monir, Julie Berry, and Katie Alender. Photo by Katie Ferguson.

Alexandra Monir, Julie Berry, and Katie Alender. Photo by Katie Ferguson.

Katie Alender and Mary McCoy. Photo by Katie Ferguson.

Katie Alender and Mary McCoy. Photo by Katie Ferguson.

Alexandra Monir. Photo by Katie Ferguson.

Alexandra Monir. Photo by Katie Ferguson.

The final panel of the day was Tough Topics with panelists Stephen ChboskyAva DellairaLiz Maccie, and Jennifer Niven. I was actually able to watch most of this panel. It covered some tough topics from bullying to writing honestly to favorite television shows. Jennifer admitted to being a huge "Supernatural" fan while Liz and Stephen said that they really liked "The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt." 

Ava Dellaira, Liz Maccie, and Jennifer Niven. Photo by Katie Ferguson.

Ava Dellaira, Liz Maccie, and Jennifer Niven. Photo by Katie Ferguson.

Liz Maccie and Stephen Chbosky. Photo by Katie Ferguson.

Liz Maccie and Stephen Chbosky. Photo by Katie Ferguson.

Amazing nails by Novels and Nail Polish. Photo by Katie Ferguson.

Amazing nails by Novels and Nail Polish. Photo by Katie Ferguson.

The signing line for the last panel was very long, but everyone was extremely patient and cool about the wait. The authors were super kind and stayed until the last person got their book signed.

Overall it was a very successful and, we hope, fun event. Many thanks to all of the authors and attendees. Also many thanks to all of the amazing volunteers for the event. There would be too many to name here but you know who you are. Big thanks to Jane Gov, Bridge to Books and the Pasadena Public Library for organizing such and amazing event. Thanks to all of the wonderful bloggers who participated in the blog tour and came out to the event and to Vroman's for selling books for the event.

If you want to see more pics, head over to Katie F's Flickr set and the Pasadena Loves YA Instagram account. If you attended or posted about the event, let us know in the comments below.

See you next year, Pasadena!

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5. Heir of Fire

I got a very excited email from Kimberly asking if she could fangirl over Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas. Of course she can! And now you can, too.

Heir of Fire (Throne of Glass, Book 3) by Sarah J. Maas

Publication date: 2 September 2014 by Bloomsbury USA

Category: Young Adult Fantasy

Keywords: Series, Magic, Kingdoms, Assassins

Format: Hardcover, ebook, Audiobook

Kimberly's Review

Say What?! Heir of Fire, book three in the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas, has everything you could want. It shuttles back between Prince Dorian and Captain of the Guard Chaol and then brings you to the far away land where Celaena is attempting to train her skills with Rowan. Oh, yes, and there's witches covens who are training to fly creatures for the King's war.  Manon, one of the legendary Thirteen, is a new character who I equally feared and loved.

Maas doesn't hold back. The third book starts off slow but before you know it, is jam-packed with action and turmoil and love and betrayal. I love the direction Celaena's character is taking. Her arc and her growth feels organic and true to her character. I love how reluctant she is, how vulnerable she can be. 

Dorian, as I predicted, is becoming more and more interesting. His character is getting a lot of screen time, more than just a romantic interest. I really like how Dorian is coming into his own. His eyes are opening on a lot of things that are going on in his kingdom under his father's rule and he's a very far throw from where he began in Throne of Glass as the spoiled ladies' man prince.

Sigh.

Sadly, I'm still not sold on Chaol. I know, many like him. He is charming and tries to be good. But really, he is the most uninteresting of all the other characters. At this point, I'm hoping book four gives him a lot more backbone and a lot more to work with. In any other normal story, I'm sure I would adore him. But given the colorful and struggling supporting characters in this book, Chaol's light is a little dimmer.

Which leads me to Rowan. OMG. Um... Rowan. Call me. 'Nuff said.

Manon is new but I think she's going to be super important. She's a bad guy, maybe. She's a feared witch, definitely. But there is something lurking under Manon's killing skin. Something that resembles... [insert ominous silence here]

Overall, Heir of Fire is a fabulous third book in the series.

All of the loved characters are growing, learning and kicking some major ass.

There are setbacks, heartbreaks, and hope. It feeds this reader's obsession with this series.

It makes this reader keep refreshing her Amazon page, hoping that the fourth book will magically be available earlier than September. (It isn't.)

It throws you back into a world of magic, assassins and war.

What's not to love?

5 stars - Stay up all night

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6. Getting the Words Out (6)

A weekly post about writing and life in general

You may have noticed (or not, I don't know, really) that I haven't been posting much YA lately. There was a recent online kerfuffle that really put me off of YA for a long while, just couldn't even stomach it at all. (I don't want to talk about it.)

I'd either start listening to an audio book and find that I'd drifted off for 30 minutes and had no clue what was going on (I've since switched to podcasts like Twisted Stitches and Joy Sandwich) or read a few chapters of a new (and popular, and best-selling) book and find myself scoffing at every sentence. Normally, I enjoy a good scoff, and will read a train wreck of a book to the end just to see what happens, but I couldn't be bothered this time.

It's been so negative and so annoying for me that I actually quit my YA book club and gave away hundreds of my books. I still have a few hundred to go through that I'll be selling, and a few that I held back for friends but forgot to give to them. I made a few exceptions for reading books I'd already committed to blogging/promoting before I got all grrr/arrgh.

So what have I been doing post-kerfuffle?

  • Went to school. I have had to take the summer off because of Comic-Con and many things I signed up for before I knew I would be in school this year.
  • Read middle grade like Survival Strategies of the Almost Brave and The Incredible Three and a Half Superheroes
  • Visited my cousin in upstate New York. I was trying to help her clean her mom's house to prepare for her coming home from her first round of chemo, but then my aunt passed away while in hospital. More on that later this week when I write about Me and Earl and The Dying Girl. Also, I watched Me and Earl and The Dying Girl. You should, too.
  • Reading picture books like Kate Beaton's The Princess and the Pony and Paley-Phillips & Deppe's Little Bell and the Moon. More on those later this week, too.
  • Knitting and sewing. I am switching back and forth between an Aerea shawl and a Moone Boy hat (will be posting the chart for that when I finish it!). I have a few sewing projects too but I haven't worked on them recently.
  • Buying fabric. I blame Thuy.
  • Watching The Jinx on HBO. So creepy, I actually want to watch it again.
  • Playing Fallout Shelter. Tip: Women and pregnant children are invincible, so kick all the men and non-preggie ladies out into the Wasteland then Rush all your rooms multiple times to rack up some Caps. It's time-consuming, but no one dies and you can really max out your resources if you're patient.

So how am I feeling about YA now?

Previous obligations: I had some commitments to fulfill in terms of posting blog tours, which I did even though I was really struggling to write about YA books without writing about it. I went to a signing for Undertow where Michael Buckley begged me to come back to the community (I said I'd think about it!) and a Fierce Reads event so Thuy wouldn't have to go by herself. Undertow was the last YA book I bought, by the way. I also still had to help run the Pasadena Loves YA festival (which went really well, but I haven't had the urge to blog about it--maybe Thuy will come through for you with a recap ;)

Social media: I think as long as I stay off of most social media, I can handle it without getting all GRRR again. It's tricky since I have so many online friends who are very involved with YA. The recent John Green Tumblr debacle did not help, but I was able to walk away from that one after reading just one post (of the rational variety, which I think helped a lot). So, yeah. Social media filter is on high alert.

Audiobooks are OK: I have "read" a couple of YA books this week that didn't make me feel ill or make me roll my eyes--they were actually quite good and didn't trigger the aversion I had from a couple of months ago. One was Devoted by Jennifer Mathieu, which you can enter to win here until 6/29/2015. I don't know if I would have gotten through it without a plane ride and the audiobook version. The other was The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson, also on audiobook, which I listened to on the plane coming back from NY. I'm a little lukewarm with the book itself, but I really enjoy the reader (and the 30 different accents she has to use for the various characters) and can't wait to start The Shadow Cabinet.

Enthusiasm is contagious: I also recorded a Tagalog tutorial for Leigh Bardugo to introduce her to some words for her Philippines tour. So if she told you "Maraming salamat!" and pronounced it correctly, then I say "Walang anuman!" I am having so much fun reading the PHYAbloggers recaps and looking at their photos, so if you saw her in Cebu or Manila, please leave a link in the comments so I don't miss your post. I love her so much, and I am waiting on tenterhooks for Six of Crows to appear in my mailbox.

Me and Earl and The Dying Girl: I cannot emphasize this enough. If you love cinema, this Sundance Grand Jury prize winner is a must-see. I am preparing to go on about it at length.

So yeah. I have not forsaken all things YA. I joked to a friend of mine that I'm making exceptions for YA written by white male authors and personal friends of any gender. But beyond taking photos of our incoming mail, I'm leaving the reviews to others on the RNSL team. It still takes so little to set off my ire, annoyance, and frustration--I think I'm going to stick with the picture books and middle grade novels for the moment.

I found that post-kerfuffle, I'm not as jealous of people going to BEA and ALA as I have been for the last couple of years. It's also been nice to have some of my personal time back. Do you have any idea how much time I spent per week reading, writing, and promoting about YA? A lot! Going to signings was especially time-consuming. Fun, but I don't miss it as much as I first thought I would.

I'm also going to be moving to a new apartment next month, so I don't anticipate getting much reading done until August when that's all over. But I did start moving some "white male/personal friend" books to my office bookshelf so I can try to get back into the reading groove in short bursts on my lunch breaks and 10s at work. Baby steps.

So, how's your reading life going? I genuinely want to know.


If you're reading this reasonably close to June 20th, you can see my Instagram stream of the past few weeks here: You can also check out our blog's Instagram @readnowsleeplater.

ME AND EARL AND THE DYING GIRL #arclight Q&A with Alfonso Gomez-Rejon and Thomas Mann #arclightpasadena #medg #meandearlmovie Bring tissues (for crying into, not the other thing you're thinking of, which is disgusting.) ME AND EARL AND THE DYING GIRL #arclight Q&A with Alfonso Gomez-Rejon and Thomas Mann #arclightpasadena #medg #meandearlmovie Bring tissues (for crying into, not the other thing you're thinking of, which is disgusting.) Got a sweet card from a happy fund-raising readathoner. Thanks, Z! @sudabaki #thankyou Got a sweet card from a happy fund-raising readathoner. Thanks, Z! @sudabaki #thankyou My peonies opened on this beautiful, sad morning. My aunt Elenita Allarey Cruz has gone to meet the Maker of all things bright and beautiful, all creatures great and small. May she rest in God's love, free from pain and worry. #peonies #beautifulmorning #restinpeace My peonies opened on this beautiful, sad morning. My aunt Elenita Allarey Cruz has gone to meet the Maker of all things bright and beautiful, all creatures great and small. May she rest in God's love, free from pain and worry. #peonies #beautifulmorning #restinpeace I wonder if this walkway gives people seizures #airport #lights #detroit Just one more cabinet to assemble! Then it's up to the residents to keep organized. #cleanup #organization Just one more cabinet to assemble! Then it's up to the residents to keep organized. #cleanup #organization Long way to go. But we are getting there! #cleanup #organization Long way to go. But we are getting there! #cleanup #organization And nearly infinite patience for flat pack furniture assembly #cleanup #organization And nearly infinite patience for flat pack furniture assembly #cleanup #organization Needs a little wipe, but #vintage #hellokitty. So that's where that went. #treasures #buriedtreasure #cleanup #organization Needs a little wipe, but #vintage #hellokitty. So that's where that went. #treasures #buriedtreasure #cleanup #organization Treasures so far: Chuckie Finster #nickelodeon #cleanup #organization #treasures #buriedtreasure Treasures so far: Chuckie Finster #nickelodeon #cleanup #organization #treasures #buriedtreasure This will all be off to tomorrow's tag sale! #organization #cleanup #before This will all be off to tomorrow's tag sale! #organization #cleanup #before ME AND EARL AND THE DYING GIRL #arclight Q&A with Alfonso Gomez-Rejon and Thomas Mann #arclightpasadena #medg #meandearlmovie Bring tissues (for crying into, not the other thing you're thinking of, which is disgusting.) Got a sweet card from a happy fund-raising readathoner. Thanks, Z! @sudabaki #thankyou My peonies opened on this beautiful, sad morning. My aunt Elenita Allarey Cruz has gone to meet the Maker of all things bright and beautiful, all creatures great and small. May she rest in God's love, free from pain and worry. #peonies #beautifulmorning #restinpeace I wonder if this walkway gives people seizures #airport #lights #detroit Just one more cabinet to assemble! Then it's up to the residents to keep organized. #cleanup #organization Long way to go. But we are getting there! #cleanup #organization And nearly infinite patience for flat pack furniture assembly #cleanup #organization Needs a little wipe, but #vintage #hellokitty. So that's where that went. #treasures #buriedtreasure #cleanup #organization Treasures so far: Chuckie Finster #nickelodeon #cleanup #organization #treasures #buriedtreasure This will all be off to tomorrow's tag sale! #organization #cleanup #before

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7. Devoted Blog Tour

Join us and author Jennifer Mathieu for the Devoted blog tour! Check out Alethea's review of the audiobook and enter to win a hardcover copy of your own. US only, ends 6/29/2015. Please check out the hashtag #DevotedBook and follow @jenmathieu.

About the Book

Rachel Walker is devoted to God. She prays every day, attends Calvary Christian Church with her family, helps care for her five younger siblings, dresses modestly, and prepares herself to be a wife and mother who serves the Lord with joy. But Rachel is curious about the world her family has turned away from, and increasingly finds that neither the church nor her homeschool education has the answers she craves. Rachel has always found solace in her beliefs, but now she can’t shake the feeling that her devotion might destroy her soul.

Alethea's Review

Jen Mathieu's young adult novel Devoted explores the life of Rachel Walker, a 17-year-old girl whose inquisitive spirit clashes with her conservative fundamentalist upbringing. One of ten siblings, Rachel has begun questioning the strict patriarchal rules that govern her day to day life; her curiosity grows increasingly strong when her mother miscarries; her eldest sister, just a couple of years older than she is, announces her second pregnancy; and as the next-oldest sister she's next in line to be barefoot and pregnant. 

The tight restrictions on their lifestyle, including the way they dress, speak, and behave, are meant to keep her family and church members closer to God and away from worldly sins, and yet Rachel struggles with her faith because of these restrictions and the inevitable contradictions that arise between their church's and her own interpretation of the Bible. Surprisingly, Rachel is allowed to use a computer (to help manage the Walker landscaping service business) and drive (albeit only the ancient family van). But when her parents discover that she's been using these privileges to contact someone who's been, for all intents and purposes, excommunicated, she's given an ultimatum--leave, or attend Journey of Faith, a Christian brainwashing camp. 

Mathieu infuses Rachel's story with sensitivity and tries to approach aspects of this cultish religion from many sides: from her pious but loving little sister Ruth, her bossy older sister Faith, their fearful and depressed mother, as well as rebellious Lauren whose dramatic exit from the sect is still a verboten topic 6 years later. This treatment manages to acknowledge some good things, the best intentions of the people who came up with the Quiverfull movement's rules, but ultimately exposes its backwards and often draconian principles, too.

The aptly named Jennifer Grace narrates the audiobook beautifully, shifting easily from the holier-than-thou attitudes of the believers to Rachel's pained and often fearful or embarrassed inner monologues. Mathieu also manages to throw some levity into the mix, comic relief provided mostly by Mark, a boy whose secular upbringing creates a stark contrast between the lives of those inside and outside the Calvary Christian Church. 

I started out reading and listening to this book and questioning why I had even agreed to review it. As a lapsed Catholic, I'm not very comfortable with the topic of religion in general. I can barely stand to read factual stories (like the recent Duggars news) or even watch satirical TV shows (like The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt) about it, let alone listen to or read about a non-mainstream version of Christianity. However, I quickly became invested in Rachel's story. She's so torn between the world she knows and the world she wants to know. It's not so much that she doesn't believe in God, but that she can't reconcile her thoughts and feelings with the way she's forced to practice her faith. Mathieu steers clear of the more sordid implications behind the misogynistic dogma (child molestation, spousal abuse or polygamy, and other strange repercussions like Andrea Yates's drowning of five of her children to save their souls). Instead she focuses on autonomy, the rights of women and children, and Rachel's love for her family. All in all, Devoted is a compelling coming-of-age story set against the backdrop of the Biblical literalism movement.

5 Stars - Stay up all night Photo credit: Pablo Gamez

Photo credit: Pablo Gamez

About the Author

Jennifer Mathieu is a writer and English teacher who lives in Texas with her family. A native of the East Coast and a former journalist, she enjoys writing contemporary young adult fiction that treats teenagers like real people. She loves to eat and hates to cook. You can find more fun facts about her and her books at www.jennifermathieu.com. Tweet @jenmathieu and find her on Facebook.

Goodreads

Blog Tour Schedule

June 2: Ex Libris Kate | @exlibris_Kate
June 3: YAdultReview | @_ash
June 4: Jenuine Cupcakes | @cupcakegirly
June 5: MacTeenBooks | @fiercereads
June 6: Bookish Broads | @BookishBroads
June 7: My My Shelf and I | @MyShelfandI
June 8: Into the Hall of Books | @bookwormashley
June 9: I Read Banned Books | @jenbigheart
June 10: Rainy Day Ramblings | @rnydayramblings
June 11: Dana Square | @danasquare
June 12: Book Addict’s Guide | @bookaddictguide
June 13: ReadingTeen.net | @readingteen
June 14: ReadNowSleepLater.org | @mslbooks

Giveaway Time!

We're giving away a copy of Devoted by Jennifer Mathieu, US only, ends 6/29/2015.

  • Open to US only, ends 6/29/2015.
  • No purchase is necessary to enter a giveaway. Void where prohibited.
  • We and the publisher are not responsible for lost, stolen, or damaged items.
  • One set of entries per household please.
  • If you are under 13, please get a parent or guardian's permission to enter, as you will be sharing personal info such as an email address.
  • Winner will be chosen randomly via Rafflecopter widget a day or two after the contest ends.
  • Winner will have 48 hours to respond to to the email, otherwise we will pick a new winner.
  • If you have any questions, feel free to email us at readnowsleeplater@gmail.com
  • PLEASE DO NOT LEAVE ANY PERSONAL INFO IN THE COMMENTS. Sorry for the caps, but we always get people leaving their email in the comments. Rafflecopter will collect all that without having personal info in the comments for all the world (and spambots) to find.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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8. The Dungeoneers Blog Tour

image.jpg

I'm so sorry this is late, dear readers! It's been a day. Part good, part bad, mostly late. Anywho.

Walden Pond Press is giving away a signed hardcover copy of The Dungeoneers by John David Anderson! Read on for more info about the book and author, as well as a Q&A!

About the Book

THE DUNGEONEERS by John David Anderson (June 23, 2015 from Walden Pond Press) 

THE DUNGEONEERS by John David Anderson (June 23, 2015 from Walden Pond Press) 

The Dungeoneers is an action-packed, funny, and heartbreaking middle grade fantasy-adventure from the author of the acclaimed Sidekicked and Minion, John David Anderson.

The world is not a fair place, and Colm Candorly knows it. While his parents and eight sisters seem content living on a lowly cobbler's earnings, Colm can't help but feel that everyone has the right to a more comfortable life. It's just a question of how far you're willing to go to get it.
 
In an effort to help make ends meet, Colm uses his natural gift for pickpocketing to pilfer a pile of gold from the richer residents of town, but his actions place him at the mercy of a mysterious man named Finn Argos, a gilded-toothed, smooth-tongued rogue who gives Colm a choice: he can be punished for his thievery, or he can become a member of Thwodin's Legions, a guild of dungeoneers who take what they want and live as they will. Colm soon finds himself part of a family of warriors, mages, and hunters, learning to work together in a quest to survive and, perhaps, to find a bit of treasure along the way.

Q&A with John David Anderson

Read Now Sleep Later: Tell us what inspired The Dungeoneers. Was it something from real life or something from fantasy that finally sparked the premise so you could turn it into a novel?

John David Anderson: I’m a fly-by-seat of your pants kind of writer. I don’t outline. I seldom have a plan. I’m lucky if I have a general sense of direction. I go where the story takes me, and The Dungeoneers was literally a “I wonder what happens next?” kind of experience for me. Every day I would sit down to write with wide eyes, eagerly anticipating Colm and party’s next adventure. So the novel started for me just the way it starts for everyone—with Colm complaining about his sisters, one of whom gets sick. I knew he was going to try his hand at pickpocketing. I knew he was going to be good at it. That’s pretty much all I had. The rest, I think, was a great, big blended mess of fantasy tropes from books and films and games (both video and board) dating all the way back to my childhood, cobbled together the deeper and deeper I got.

I will say, though, that my parents often struggled to make ends meet when I was young, and I grew up with a sense of both the powers and dangers of money and the vast disparity between the have-mosts and have-a-littles. I think that sense of class disparity—and the notion that men of talent can find their own path to riches—informed upon the novel from day one. That and the significance of friendships and the price of loyalty were probably the chief motivating themes that drove me forward.

Mostly, though, I had fun with it. I had more fun writing The Dungeoneers than any other book I’ve written. It was basically just one giant roleplaying game for me.

RNSL: If there would be no consequences for you, what would you steal (for the greater good, anyway)? Are you good at sleight-of-hand? (Alethea for example would probably steal kittens. She is pretty sure Thuy and Kimberly would steal all the yarn and books--then distribute them to those in need.)

JDA: If it was for the greater good, I’d probably say I’d go all Jean Valjean and steal food for those in need. There are a lot of problems out there in the world that need solving, but hunger really seems like one that we—as intelligent as we are as a species—could have figured out a solution to. According to some estimates, as many as one out of every nine people suffers from hunger or malnutrition. I know it’s a Robin Hood kind of answer, but if you’re going to be an outlaw…

On a lighter note, if it was me, and there were no consequences or downsides, I would steal Lego. Lego, for me, is the epitome of extraneous expense. I love them. I love the feel of them, the sound of their clicking, the mathematical genius of their construction, but I can’t (usually) justify forking over forty bucks for 300 little pieces of snap-together plastic that’s just going to sit on my shelf. If could just steal them, then I wouldn’t have to feel guilty about spending money on them, though I would feel guilty for stealing them. I guess there’s no Lego without guilt. 

I would say books, but I’m a writer. If I want a book, I go out and buy it anyways.

In paperback. 

RNSL: Did anything specific inspire your cast of characters for The Dungeoneers?

Not really. I’d say my motivating principal was contrast. Obviously I needed a balanced party in terms of talents and professions, but also in terms of foibles and concerns. I wanted them all to be dungeoneering for different reasons, to each have something specific they were questing for, whether it was Serene overcoming her fears, Lena living up to her name, or Quinn gaining control over his power. It’s not all about the gold—though that certainly has its appeal, as Colm Candorly will tell you. The characters were all very distinct for me, which made them easier to write and easier to appreciate. What started as a story just about this one kid picking pockets in the street really became an exploration of this makeshift family getting each others’ backs, growing alongside each other. It’s an ensemble piece.

RNSL: If you still play RPGs, do you always play the same type of character, or do you switch around and try to be different? (I usually try to stay with Barbarian or Paladin... hack and slash, don't get in my way!)

JDA: I play a version of Pathfinders with my family, and I like to switch up who I play, though I tend to gravitate towards multi-talented types. Swordsmen who can enchant their blades with flames. Spellcasters who also happen to be good at throwing daggers. Talking pigs who can transform themselves into fire-spewing dragons. I tend not to play healers. I don’t want people counting on me to bring them back to life all the time. Too much pressure. I also don’t play guys who wear lots of heavy armor, mostly because I feel like they’d get too sweaty.

RNSL: Would ever you consider writing up part of the premise as an RPG? Or at least make up some character sheets for Colm, Finn, etc. :)

JDA: Funny you say that. I actually have Pathfinders sheets and stats for each of the four major characters from the novel. When my family and I played I was Quinn Frostfoot. 

I do create board and card games in my spare time, and if (for some blessed reason) The Dungeoneers was ever to become a thing—you know, like big big—I’d be more than happy to branch out and adapt the story to a more playable format. I think a lot of cool things are being done with game books and interactive fiction now, especially on mobile devices. I can certainly imagine The Dungeoneers taking that form. Maybe some computer genius out there can help make it happen!

RNSL: Did you encounter anything particularly challenging while writing The Dungeoneers that's different from your previous books?

JDA: Honestly third person perspective is a challenge for me. First person narratives come easy because there’s no negotiation, no competition between my voice and that of the main character. I appreciate the limitations that first person narratives provide, so the freedom that comes with panning out to a third person viewpoint—even one focused on one character like Colm Candorly—is daunting at first. I wanted to create a narrative voice that could poke fun one moment with tongue thoroughly in cheek and then get completely serious about the world and its dangers the next. That was tough.

Also the sheer scope of the book was bigger than my previous novels. More characters, more subplots—and so much I wanted to cram in, explore, and make fun of. I’m just grateful my editor let me keep most of it. It’s a hefty book. But fantasy novels aren’t always known for their thinness. 

RNSL: We love the cover. Did you have any input on the final art? Any thoughts you would like to share about it? (It makes us want to grab our dice bags and go on an adventure.)

JDA: Awesome, right? The cover is the work of the incomparable Dan Santat and, at least from my perspective, it was pretty solid right out of the gate. I do remember two significant changes, though. The first was that Quinn was way too confident in the beginning—his facial expression suggested a Gandalf-level of competence, and I remember saying that he needed to be a lot more worried about the spell he was casting (it will make sense when you read the book). The second issue was Lena—we needed her to be hardcore barbarian but still obviously female. The solution, I think, was to just give her a different haircut and more weapons. Other than that, it’s exactly the kind of book I would have picked up as a ten year old aching for a little dungeon diving adventure. I adore the wrap around and the font, but most of all I think I like how it focuses on the team effort. After all, the book isn’t called The Dungeoneer.

Now I’m off to play with my Lego.

About the Author

John David Anderson is the author of Sidekicked and Minion. A dedicated root beer connoisseur in his spare time, he lives with his wife, two kids, and perpetually whiny cat in Indianapolis. You can visit him online at www.johndavidanderson.org. Tweet @anderson_author and find him on Facebook.


Blog Tour Schedule

6/2/2015 - Maria's Mélange - mariaselke.com                                 
6/5/2015 - Unleashing Readers - unleashingreaders.com                    
6/6/2015 - The Haunting of Orchid Forsythia - hauntedorchid.blogspot.com          
6/7/2015 - Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers - insatiablereaders.blogspot.com     
6/8/2015 - This Kid Reviews Books - thiskidreviewsbooks.com                  
6/8/2015 - Ms Yingling Reads - msyinglingreads.blogspot.com           
6/9/2015 - Read Now Sleep Later - readnowsleeplater.org
6/10/2015 - Charlotte's Library - charlotteslibrary.blogspot.com 
6/11/2015 - Nerdy Book Club - nerdybookclub.wordpress.com
6/12/2015 - The Hiding Spot - thehidingspot.blogspot.com     

Giveaway Time!

One intrepid adventurer will win a signed hardcover copy of The Dungeoneers by John David Anderson. US only, ends 6/25/2015.

  • Open to US only, ends 6/25/2015.
  • No purchase is necessary to enter a giveaway. Void where prohibited.
  • We and the publisher are not responsible for lost, stolen, or damaged items.
  • One set of entries per household please.
  • If you are under 13, please get a parent or guardian's permission to enter, as you will be sharing personal info such as an email address.
  • Winner will be chosen randomly via Rafflecopter widget a day or two after the contest ends.
  • Winner will have 48 hours to respond to to the email, otherwise we will pick a new winner.
  • If you have any questions, feel free to email us at readnowsleeplater@gmail.com
  • PLEASE DO NOT LEAVE ANY PERSONAL INFO IN THE COMMENTS. Sorry for the caps, but we always get people leaving their email in the comments. Rafflecopter will collect all that without having personal info in the comments for all the world (and spambots) to find.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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9. The Disappearance of Emily H. Blog Tour

A girl who can see the past tries to save the future in this compelling tween mystery.

Check out The Disappearance of Emily H, read a Q&A with the author, Barrie Summy, and enter to win a copy of the book! (US only, ends 6/23)

About the Book

A girl is missing. Three girls are lying. One girl can get to the truth.
 
Emily Huvar vanished without a trace. And the clues are right beneath Raine’s fingertips. Literally. Raine isn’t like other eighth graders. One touch of a glittering sparkle that only Raine can see, and she’s swept into a memory from the past. If she touches enough sparkles, she can piece together what happened to Emily.
 
When Raine realizes that the cliquey group of girls making her life miserable know more than they’re letting on about Emily’s disappearance, she has to do something. She’ll use her supernatural gift for good... to fight evil.
 
But is it too late to save Emily?

Q&A with Barrie Summy

Read Now Sleep Later: Emily's disappearance is so sinister--how do you balance the seriousness of this topic for the "Age 10 and up" audience?

Barrie Summy: To be honest, it was a bit of a juggling act. The Disappearance of Emily H. is a little more eerie than the i so don't do mystery series, and I was constantly questioning when to rein things in. To lighten the story, I tried to weave in everyday activities (group projects at school, walking the dog, mealtime), humor, and a little romance.

RNSL: A group of girls gangs up on Raine as she's trying to figure out what happened to Emily H. In constructing this interaction, was it informed by personal experience or observing others going through bullying? 

BS: Good question. The bullying subplot was fed mostly by my daughter and her friend, who were both in eighth grade when I was writing this book. They were trapped in the car with me, driving to and from dance lessons, and  we talked a lot (probably ad nauseam for them!) about the bullying they saw/heard about at school, what would feel like bullying to them, what wouldn't, right down to specific incidents. The girls were incredibly helpful.

RNSL: When you were the age that your readers are now, what were you into? Mysteries? Reading and/or writing? Magic? None or all of the above? 

BS: I was into reading pretty much anything I could get my hands on (although I was a huge Nancy Drew fan). I was also writing--angsty diary entries, bad poetry and, oddly, clues for scavenger hunts. My parents had us (I have two sisters) in piano and skating lessons. And there were loads of kids in our neighborhood, so there were street hockey games, tag, Red Rover, and just plain hanging around.

RNSL: What was the most challenging part of writing this novel?

BS: By far, the most challenging part was the first revision when my editor wanted me to move the event that happened at the middle of the book to the 3/4 point. Ack! Suddenly, there was a great, big gaping hole in the middle of the book. There was much pacing and gnawing of nails... and finally the bullying subplot grew into something more important. 

RNSL: Cake or pie? (or both?) 

BS: Love this question! For me, it's pie! I really don't like cake or cupcakes or anything cakey at all. For my birthday, I always ask for a dessert other than cake.

About the Author

Barrie Summy is the author of the I So Don’t Do mystery series starring thirteen-year-old detective Sherry Holmes Baldwin and the recently released The Disappearance of Emily H. Barrie lives in Southern California with her husband, their four children, two dogs, a veiled chameleon, and a fish. There was once a dwarf hamster, but let’s not go there. Visit her online at barriesummy.com.

Blog Tour Schedule

Thu, June 4 - Ms. Yingling Reads - http://msyinglingreads.blogspot.com/

Fri, June 5 - proseandkahn - http://proseandkahn.blogspot.com/

Mon, June 8 - Once Upon a Story - http://mariaburel.com/

Tue, June 9 - Read Now, Sleep Later - http://www.readnowsleeplater.org/

Wed, June 10 - Sharpread - http://mrcolbysharp.com/

Thu, June 11 - Unleashing Readers - http://www.unleashingreaders.com/

Fri, June 12 - Small Review - http://smallreview.blogspot.com/

Giveaway Time!

One sparkly winner will receive a copy of The Disappearance of Emily H. by Barrie Summy (U.S. addresses; allow 4-6 weeks for delivery).

  • Open to US only, ends 6/23/2015.
  • No purchase is necessary to enter a giveaway. Void where prohibited.
  • We and the publisher are not responsible for lost, stolen, or damaged items.
  • One set of entries per household please.
  • If you are under 13, please get a parent or guardian's permission to enter, as you will be sharing personal info such as an email address.
  • Winner will be chosen randomly via Rafflecopter widget a day or two after the contest ends.
  • Winner will have 48 hours to respond to to the email, otherwise we will pick a new winner.
  • If you have any questions, feel free to email us at readnowsleeplater@gmail.com
  • PLEASE DO NOT LEAVE ANY PERSONAL INFO IN THE COMMENTS. Sorry for the caps, but we always get people leaving their email in the comments. Rafflecopter will collect all that without having personal info in the comments for all the world (and spambots) to find.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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10. Survival Strategies of the Almost Brave Blog Tour

survivalstrategies.jpg

Read on for a Q&A with Survival Strategies of the Almost Brave author Jen White and a giveaway of 3 ARCs of the book (3 winners will be chosen, US only, ends 6/21/2015).

About the book

After their mother's recent death, twelve-year-old Liberty and her eight-year-old sister, Billie, are sent to live with their father, who they haven't seen since they were very young. Things are great at first; the girls are so excited to get to know their father – a traveling photographer who rides around in an RV. But soon, the pressure becomes too much for him, and he abandons them at the Jiffy Company Gas Station.

Instead of moping around and being scared, Liberty takes matters into her own hands. On their journey to get home, they encounter a shady, bald-headed gas station attendant, a full-body tattooed trucker, free Continental breakfast, a kid obsessed with Star Wars, a woman who lives with rats, and a host of other situations.

When all seems lost, they get some help from an unlikely source, and end up learning that sometimes you have to get a little bit lost to be found.

Goodreads

Q & A with Jen White

Read Now Sleep Later: Normally, I'd just start the Q&A right off with the questions, but I have to give you a little backstory on my first question.

I was lost once in our local supermarket when I was about 3. In the Philippines, supermarkets are crazy big. I marched up to the customer service desk and told them my grandpa ("lolo" in Tagalog) was lost, and that they needed to make an announcement to find him. They made an announcement and "found" him. The "my lolo is lost" story got repeated to every one of my siblings and cousins from then on as a survival strategy...)

Now the question--Have you ever been lost? How old were you and what did you do about it?

Jen White: I love your “my lolo is lost” story. Also, so great that your family used that experience as an example of how to respond. I think the feeling of being forgotten or lost is a universal emotion or worry. The idea for Survival Strategies of the Almost Brave came from my own “lost” story. When I was twelve and on vacation with my family, I was accidentally forgotten at a remote gas station for six hours. Luckily, I did have my younger sister and cousin with me. My parents didn’t see us get out of the back of our camper truck to use the restroom and they drove away without us. They thought we had fallen asleep and didn’t realize we were missing until they reached their destination, three hours away. We were, obviously, terrified.  Eventually, a police officer (in normal civilian clothing) came and took us to the police station.  At first, we wouldn’t go with him because he didn’t look like a real police officer. But eventually, we saw his police car and decided that he was a policeman. After being interviewed at the police station, he took us to a foster home where we ate bean burritos and watched Mary Poppins. Soon we were reunited with our family. Now, thirty years later, we can laugh about it. But at the time, it was quite traumatic.  

RNSL: Liberty has a very methodical, scientific approach to life. Is Survival Strategies of the Almost Brave a conscious attempt to encourage young girls to pursue a STEM career or is that just icing on the cake?

JW: No, it was not a conscious decision. I love that idea though, and wish I could take credit for it, but it was definitely a subconscious thing. I think girls should pursue whatever career they choose, and how great it is if SSOTAB opens the door even wider to STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) possibilities. I once read that young girls are able to imagine themselves capable of achieving what they see other women accomplish. Because of that alone, it is important to have successful women in every field of study and more opportunities for girls. If I have somehow contributed to an ‘I can’ attitude, then that makes me very happy. And as a mother of girls, I think that it is very important.

RNSL: Billie and "Bertie" have a very strong bond despite their age difference. Do you have a sister, and do these characters mirror your relationship? If not, what informs how you wrote their characters?

JW: Yes, I have two sisters and two brothers. As the oldest of five, I feel like Liberty’s semi-bossy nature I come by naturally. I also have five children (four daughters), so I think I have a pretty good handle on the sister dynamic. That being said, I feel like Liberty and Billie are their own creations. I didn’t imagine a particular person as I wrote them, but I know my experience as an older sister and a mother of girls surely influenced how I wrote Liberty and Billie, albeit subconsciously.

RNSL: There are quite a few secondary characters that help or hinder the girls on their journey. Which was the most fun to write and why?

JW: In some ways they are all my favorites. There’s a true emotional connection behind each character. I would say I really loved, Star Wars Kid (Roger) and didn’t want his story to end. I hope I can create some form of Roger again in my future writing. I also loved Lavender Lady and Orson. They made me laugh and were a great duo to write. And finally, I’d say, I loved Tattoo Guy. I love him because upon first observation he seems intimidating and scary, but as the book progresses we get the whole picture of who he is (compassionate, funny, and smart).  In the beginning he is not who he seems. In general, I think this is true about most people. There is so much more to a person than what we see on the surface  Deep down, everyone has a story that is relatable.

RNSL: When did you begin developing this story, and can you tell us a bit about the journey to publication?

JW: I began writing Survival Strategies of the Almost Brave during the last semester of my MFA program. For some reason, I was really scared to write it. But Liberty’s voice was so persistent and compelling that I couldn’t stop thinking about her. I finally became brave enough to write her. I think part of my fear was that I wasn’t sure where the story was going. When I began to write, I had more questions than answers, and that felt really unsettling. Now, I know that’s just how I write: with a list of questions beside me. After I finished my MFA, I attended a writing retreat for experienced writers in my hometown. The visiting editor was Joy Peskin (who, by the way, is now my editor). That is where she read the first twenty pages of SSOTAB. She then asked for a full. Did I mention that I was crazy excited about that?! After she read the full, she had a lot of questions about the book. She suggested I revise (and, hopefully, listen to some of her revision suggestions) and then send it back to her. It took me a really long time to figure out what I was doing with SSOTAB. I went on to write two other books before I could figure out how to get Liberty and Billie through the desert safely. Once I figured that out, I wrote SSOTAB quite quickly and then sent it to Joy. It had been so long since we had last spoken that I was afraid she wouldn’t remember me. But she remembered. :) She read the full and then took the manuscript to acquisitions. The rest is history. (It was much harder and more traumatic than it sounds.) Just picture an exhausted, bleary-eyed, chocolate covered writer… that was me.

RNSL: Are you working on anything new?

JW: When Survival Strategies of the Almost Brave was purchased it was part of a two-book deal. So yes, I am working on Book 2. It is not a sequel to SSOTAB. It is a whole new middle grade animal. I’ve been having a lot of fun writing it. There are some great secondary characters. Maybe, that’s my thing? And (now that you mentioned it in the previous question) I have another, what you might call, STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) main character.  Maybe, that’s my thing, too? :) She is anxious, damaged, and smart.

After I spent so much time with Liberty and Billie in SSOTAB I worried that I wouldn’t love my new main characters the same way, but I’ve found that I do. I guess it’s like when you have a second child. You never imagine that you can love another baby as much as the first but, when the second comes, you do. You love them all.

RNSL: Cake or Pie?

JW: Definitely cake. Any cake, anytime. I’m not picky, but if I had my choice it would be a homemade dark chocolate cake with ganache frosting. If you’re ever in town, I shall make it for you.  It is divine.

About the Author

Jen White grew up in California, the oldest of five siblings. In kindergarten, during a parent/teacher conference, her teacher told her mother, “She’s a little bossy.” Unfortunately, Jen thinks that same assessment might still be made today. She blames it on birth order. 

When she was young she wanted to become an author and a teacher. One of her earliest memories was learning how to read. She remembers how excited she was when she realized she could read the signs she saw through the window when she was in the car with her mother. She also remembers how her stomach hurt when she read out loud because she read with such gusto.

Jen has a degree in English teaching and also earned her MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts in writing for children and young adults. Survival Strategies of the Almost Brave is her debut novel and was born from the real experience of Jen being accidentally forgotten at a gas station with her younger sister and cousin. Jen currently tries not to boss around her five children and husband in San Clemente, California.

Find her online at jenwhitebooks.com, tweet @jenwhite_, and follow her on Tumblr.

Giveaway Time!
 

Three lucky winners will get a copy of Survival Strategies of the Almost BraveUS addresses only, ends June 21, 2015

  • Open to US only, ends 6/21/2015.
  • No purchase is necessary to enter a giveaway. Void where prohibited.
  • We and the publisher are not responsible for lost, stolen, or damaged items.
  • One set of entries per household please.
  • If you are under 13, please get a parent or guardian's permission to enter, as you will be sharing personal info such as an email address.
  • Winner will be chosen randomly via Rafflecopter widget a day or two after the contest ends.
  • Winner will have 48 hours to respond to to the email, otherwise we will pick a new winner.
  • If you have any questions, feel free to email us at readnowsleeplater@gmail.com
  • PLEASE DO NOT LEAVE ANY PERSONAL INFO IN THE COMMENTS. Sorry for the caps, but we always get people leaving their email in the comments. Rafflecopter will collect all that without having personal info in the comments for all the world (and spambots) to find.
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11. Cast Off Blog Tour

Read on for an interview with CAST OFF author Eve Yohalem, and a giveaway (US only, ends 6/20/2015).

About the Book

A tale of pirates, mutiny, and friendship on the high seas, perfect for fans of The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle.

It’s 1663 and there is an extra passenger on board a Dutch merchant ship setting sail for the East Indies. Twelve-year-old Petra has stowed away to escape her abusive father. But she quickly realizes that surviving for months at sea will be impossible without help. So when Bram, the half-Dutch/Half-Javanese son of the ship’s carpenter, finds her hiding spot, Petra convinces him to help her stay hidden... and help disguise her as a boy. 

If Petra is discovered and exposed as a girl, she could be tossed overboard, or worse... returned to her father. And if Bram is exposed for helping her, he could lose the only home—and family—he has. As tensions rise on the ship, with pirates attacking, deadly illness, and even mutiny, Petra and Bram face impossible decisions that test their friendship and threaten their dreams of freedom.

Told in alternating voices and filled with secrets and intrigue, this richly researched novel is historical fiction at its best.

About the Author

Eve Yohalem's first book was Escape Under the Forever Sky, which Booklist called “riveting.” She lives with her family in New York City. To learn more, and download a free curriculum guide for Cast Off, visit her website: eveyohalem.com and on Facebook.

 

Q&A with Eve Yohalem

Read Now Sleep Later: Cast Off is told from two points of view. How did you keep your characters organized? Are there parts of the story you would try to tell from one POV then realize it was better told from the other POV? 

Eve Yohalem: When I first started writing Cast Off, it was in the third person and only in Petra’s point of view. About fifty pages in, I realized Bram needed to be heard. And after maybe the third draft I decided the story would be much more exciting and immediate if it was told in their own voices. Sometimes the choice of POV was obvious—for example, if the scene only involved one of the characters. But sometimes I wrote it both ways and then picked the one that was better. In case you can’t tell, writing Cast Off involved a lot of re-writing!

RNSL: Your main characters are different genders and come from different cultures. Do you think one was easier to write than the other based on the common traits between you and the character?

EY: The challenge for me wasn’t cultural or gender differences, it was—and is—the character’s emotional state during a given scene. Scenes where my main characters are miserable are painful to write. I have to fight the urge to be protective of my characters, because books where everybody is happy all the time are really boring.

RNSL: When you were the age that your book's audience is now, were you a reader/writer/both? 

EY: I read nonstop as a kid. At one point my mother consulted a doctor to find out if it was normal to read so much. Thankfully, he told her not to worry about it.

RNSL: Your characters have some pretty deep emotional struggles in this novel. Are they built from experience, study, a bit of both? Why did you decide to write about these struggles for this age group? 

EY: Both Petra and Bram are outsiders. Petra is a lone girl on a ship of 300 men. Bram is the mixed-race, illegitimate son of the ship’s carpenter so he’s stateless and nameless. In addition to storms, fevers, and mutiny, they battle loneliness, fear, and persecution in their search to find their place in the world. I’m really not trying to be flip when I say this, but isn’t that a perfect metaphor for middle school?

RNSL: If you're working on a future project, can you tell us a little bit about it?

EY: Sure! I just finished writing a new book called True Fact about a twelve-year-old girl with diabetes who spends the summer searching for sunken treasure with her German shepherd and the obnoxious daughter of a famous Hollywood director. I’m also one draft into a sequel to Cast Off.

RNSL: If there is a book out there that you wish you'd written? What is it, and why do you wish you'd written it? (I'll tell you mine--The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, because it made me feel so much and was so lyrical and beautiful in prose!)

EY: I loved The Time Traveler’s Wife! I really really wish I’d written the George and Martha books. What a friendship!

RNSL: Cake or pie? (or both?) 

EY: Pie. Specifically blueberry, key lime, banana cream, peach, or cherry. But, really, almost any pie will do. 

Blog Tour Schedule

Mon, June 1 - Book Monsters - http://thebookmonsters.com/

Tues, June 2 - The Hiding Spot - http://thehidingspot.blogspot.com/

Wed, June 3 - Books Unbound - http://booksunboundblog.com/

Thurs, June 4 - Unleashing Readers - http://www.unleashingreaders.com/

Fri, June 5 - Read Now, Sleep Later - http://www.readnowsleeplater.org/

Mon, June 8 - Mother Daughter Book Club - http://motherdaughterbookclub.com/

Tues, June 9 - Cracking the Cover - http://www.crackingthecover.com/

Wed, June 10 - The Compulsive Reader - http://www.thecompulsivereader.com/

Thurs, June 11 - The Children's Book Review - http://www.thechildrensbookreview.com/

Fri, June 12 - I Read Banned Books - http://www.jenbigheart.com/

Giveaway Time!

Win a copy of Cast Off--just enter using the Rafflecopter widget below. US only, ends 6/20/2015.

  • Open to US only, ends 6/20/2015.
  • No purchase is necessary to enter a giveaway. Void where prohibited.
  • We and the publisher are not responsible for lost, stolen, or damaged items.
  • One set of entries per household please.
  • If you are under 13, please get a parent or guardian's permission to enter, as you will be sharing personal info such as an email address.
  • Winner will be chosen randomly via Rafflecopter widget a day or two after the contest ends.
  • Winner will have 48 hours to respond to to the email, otherwise we will pick a new winner.
  • If you have any questions, feel free to email us at readnowsleeplater@gmail.com
  • PLEASE DO NOT LEAVE ANY PERSONAL INFO IN THE COMMENTS. Sorry for the caps, but we always get people leaving their email in the comments. Rafflecopter will collect all that without having personal info in the comments for all the world (and spambots) to find.

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12. The Wizard of Oz Blog Tour

Read on for more about the Classic Edition of The Wizard of Oz illustrated by Charles Santore, my Oz memories, and a giveaway!

From Goodreads:

“With stunning illustrations from celebrated artist Charles Santore and a child-friendly, abridged retelling that remains faithful to Frank L. Baum’s original text, this Classic Edition of The Wizard of Oz is a must-have for every family’s library.

”Readers of all ages will follow the Yellow Brick Road on an unforgettable journey that takes them from Dorothy’s gray Kansas home into the blue Munchkin land; the sparkling bejeweled Emerald City; the dark, foreboding forest; and the ruby-red throne room of Glinda the Good Witch in this gorgeously illustrated, classic edition of The Wizard of Oz.”


Like most children of many ages, my first exposure to The Wizard of Oz was the 1939 film/musical version starring Judy Garland. I've never read the novels, but now that I've read the classic edition, I really want to! I'm normally very wary of retellings and abridgments, but the classic edition of The Wizard of Oz does its best to capture the spirit and retain as much as possible of Baum's original text. Coupled with the gorgeous and imaginative watercolors of Charles Santore, this edition is essential for any child's library.

Santore plays with color, from the gray stormy overcast of Kansas, to the vibrant red poppy field, to the rich, almost-monochromatic-but-not-quite Emerald City. The golden hue of the Yellow Brick Road ties it all together. A lithe art-nouveau Glinda contrasts in style with a stumpy Great Oz and grotesque Wicked Witch. And if you're familiar with the Saturday Evening Post, you'll recognize the Americana touches to the illustrations. I get the impression that Santore's imagination caught fire upon reading the book, which he did so reluctantly, then repeatedly. There are so many spreads in this book that I would love to frame, particularly the pages with red poppies and the Queen of All the Field Mice. 

The Wizard of Oz was one of those movies that I had to watch and listen to ad nauseam when I was younger and my little sister was addicted to this film. There was a time I could perform the entire movie with dialogue and song entirely from memory. It's interesting reading the novel, even in abridged format, and encountering so many differences between the classic edition and the film. I will have to dig out my husband's copies of the series from when he was a child, and discover the differences for myself.

Find the book 

Follow along with the Official Blog Tour

Read Write Reflect

Mr. Schu Reads

Randomly Reading

Giveaway!

One lucky winner will get a copy of The Wizard of Oz: Classic EditionUS addresses only, ends May 31, 2015

  • Open to US only, ends 5/31/2015.
  • No purchase is necessary to enter a giveaway. Void where prohibited.
  • We and the publisher are not responsible for lost, stolen, or damaged items.
  • One set of entries per household please.
  • If you are under 13, please get a parent or guardian's permission to enter, as you will be sharing personal info such as an email address.
  • Winner will be chosen randomly via Rafflecopter widget a day or two after the contest ends.
  • Winner will have 48 hours to respond to to the email, otherwise we will pick a new winner.
  • If you have any questions, feel free to email us at readnowsleeplater@gmail.com
  • PLEASE DO NOT LEAVE ANY PERSONAL INFO IN THE COMMENTS. Sorry for the caps, but we always get people leaving their email in the comments. Rafflecopter will collect all that without having personal info in the comments for all the world (and spambots) to find.
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13. Bride of Slug Man Blog Tour

I read a super-fun middle grade novel this week--check out the hilarious Kate Walden Directs: Bride of Slug Man by Julie Mata! Check out my review, a Q&A with the author, watch the trailer, and enter to win a copy using the Rafflecopter widget below.

About the book:

After her huge success with her first feature-length movie, seventh-grader Kate Walden is eager to start on her next film, a sci-fi romance called Bride of Slug Man. When a new kid comes to town from New York City, Kate thinks she might have a new found film buddy-someone to share her interest with. And it doesn't hurt that he's pretty cute. But it turns out that Tristan is making his own movie, and now the classmates Kate thought were eager to join her cast and crew are divided.

With rumors spreading in school and between sets, Kate finds herself juggling more than just call times and rewrites. And judging from the whispers Kate hears about Tristan Kingsley,she suspects that he isn't interested in having a fellow film-buff friend; he just wants to prove himself as the best filmmaker in school by winning the Big Picture Film Festival. Kate vows to enter too, and tries to focus on just making the best movie she can.

But between the cutthroat popularity contest, a bully situation that goes from bad to worse, and several on-set mishaps, Kate is going to need all the movie magic she can get to make sure Bride of Slug Man hits the big-screen.

Alethea's Review:

Kate Walden is a girl after my own heart, studying filmmaking books and taking steps to make her dreams into reality--er, well, real films about weird and fictional things. (I can relate--at her age I was trying to adapt The Hobbit into a two-hour stage play.) Her friends help her out--er, well, they put their own unique spin on things with their skills and foibles. Her family, including her sometimes annoying little brother Derek, is supportive, if occasionally preoccupied with their own creative endeavors. 

Of course, what middle grade novel on school and friendship is complete without some cute boys to crush on? Things get complicated when the new kid turns out to be a rival in the world of filmmaking, and some bullies get in on the act. As if things weren't SO complicated already.

I really enjoy funny middle grade novels with a little seriousness lying under the skin, so I found Bride of Slug Man really entertaining. The characters are warm and varied. Kate can't just get what she wants--she has to think hard and muddle through confusing feelings to solve her problems. Her mix of enthusiasm and immaturity comes across as authentic tween exuberance, even if the situations are still somewhat cartoonish. 

I'd definitely recommend this to young readers with a creative bent and an interest in realistic school fiction about friendships, family, and of course, filmmaking. 

4 STARS - STAY UP LATE Julie Mata (photo credit: Tony Mata)

Julie Mata (photo credit: Tony Mata)

About the author:

Julie Mata grew up outside Chicago and currently lives in Wisconsin, where she owns a video production business with her husband.. She loves movies and once wrote and directed her own short film. She also loves traveling, gardening, and reading a really good book. Her first book was Kate Walden Directs: Night of the Zombie Chickens. For more information, including a downloadable curriculum guide and a filmmaking tip of the month, visit her website: juliemata.com.

Twitter: @juliehmata

Q&A with Julie Mata

RNSL: Kate Walden is my kind of geek. What inspired her character?

Julie Mata: My daughters were a big inspiration. They didn't dream of making it in Hollywood when they were Kate's age, but they did enjoy making movies. I think a lot of kids can relate to that. Kate loves filmmaking, but she also loves spending time with her friends, and making movies together is a great way to do that. Kate may be a bit of a geek, but she's also very smart and sharp, and she's not afraid to pursue a big dream.

RNSL: Kate is looking for a collaborator, but finds a competitor instead. I've been in her shoes before! What gave you the idea for this plot setup?

JM: I thought giving Kate a rival would add some fun conflict, especially if the rival is a cute boy who also likes to make movies. Giving Kate a competitor causes her problems but it also causes her to change and grow throughout the story, as she tries to figure out the new boy's motives. Kids sometimes tend to make snap decisions about people, and Kate does too. She thinks she has the new boy pegged but finds out the hard way that it's dangerous to make assumptions. 

RNSL: What's your favorite kid-appropriate Bride of Slug Man-type movie? Non-kid-appropriate?

JM: Plan 9 from Outer Space is the perfect kid-appropriate sci-fi flick It's a black and white movie from 1959 directed by Ed Wood. Wood thought audiences were only interested in the big picture and wouldn't notice little details like terrible special effects, bizarre leaps in logic, and props falling over. The result is a movie that's hilariously bad and great fun to watch. For non-kid-appropriate movies, I would have to go with the original Alien. Now that's a nasty, slimy slug creature. It doesn't get much scarier than that. 

RNSL: If you could have a dream cast for a film or TV adaptation of your books, who would you get? 

JM: I think that either Lindsay Lohan or Amanda Bynes would have been perfect as Kate Walden back when they were child actors.They were both extremely talented and funny. They grew up, of course, and their lives got complicated, but if I could commandeer a time machine, I'd go back and cast one of them as Kate and the other one as popular girl Lydia.

RNSL: If you could take any book you love and produce the film version, which would it be?

JM: I would have picked A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle, but it sounds like Frozen director Jennifer Lee beat me to it and is currently working on a new adaptation. Can't wait to see it! So I'm going with a real dark horse candidate--Precious Bane, written by Mary Webb and published in 1924. I loved it when I was young, and often wished someone would make it into a movie. The main character, Prue Sarn, has a harelip and suffers widespread scorn and distrust, but encounters a man who sees past her defect and recognizes her inner beauty. I found the characters, the stark setting, and the tragic tale so haunting and compelling that I read it many times and still have a copy of it.

Follow along on the blog tour!

Monday, May 18 - GreenBeanTeenQueen

Wed. May 20 - Once Upon a Story

Thurs, May 21 - Read Now, Sleep Later

Fri, May 22 - Curling Up with a Good Book

Tues, May 27 - The Haunting of Orchid Forsythia

Wed, May 28 - BookHounds YA

Thurs, May 29 - The Brain Lair

Fri, May 30 - Kid Lit Frenzy

Giveaway time!

One lucky winner will get both of Julie Mata's Kate Walden Directs books. US addresses only, ends May 31, 2015

  • Open to US only, ends 5/31/2015.
  • No purchase is necessary to enter a giveaway. Void where prohibited.
  • We and the publisher are not responsible for lost, stolen, or damaged items.
  • One set of entries per household please.
  • If you are under 13, please get a parent or guardian's permission to enter, as you will be sharing personal info such as an email address.
  • Winner will be chosen randomly via Rafflecopter widget a day or two after the contest ends.
  • Winner will have 48 hours to respond to to the email, otherwise we will pick a new winner.
  • If you have any questions, feel free to email us at readnowsleeplater@gmail.com
  • PLEASE DO NOT LEAVE ANY PERSONAL INFO IN THE COMMENTS. Sorry for the caps, but we always get people leaving their email in the comments. Rafflecopter will collect all that without having personal info in the comments for all the world (and spambots) to find.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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14. SYNC Summer is here!

Summer is upon us, which means that it's time for SYNC! What is SYNC? SYNC is a great audiobook program that happens each summer. They offers two free young adult audiobooks for download each week. Usually a more current YA title is paired with a classic. They offer some really great books each year and they are FREE. Yes, totally free. You just need the Overdrive program or app to download your free books. For more info, check out http://www.audiobooksync.com. Titles only last a week so be sure to check back each week for new downloads. Below are some audio clips of this week's offerings as well as the upcoming schedule.


SYNC YA Audiobooks

BEAUTIFUL CREATURES by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl (Hachette Audio)

A CORNER OF WHITE by Jaclyn Moriarty (Scholastic Audiobooks)

COURAGE HAS NO COLOR: THE TRUE STORY OF THE TRIPLE NICKLES by Tanya Lee Stone (Brilliance Audio)

CROWS & CARDS by Joseph Helgerson (Brilliance Audio)

DODGER by Terry Pratchett (HarperAudio)

ECHOES OF AN ANGEL by Aquanetta Gordon (christianaudio)

THE EXPLORERS CLUB by Nell Benjamin (L.A. Theatre Works)

THE LIVING by Matt de la Pena (Brilliance Audio)

MARCH by Geraldine Brooks (Penguin Audio)

MONSTER by Walter Dean Myers (Listening Library)

THE RING AND THE CROWN by Melissa de la Cruz (Recorded Books, Inc.)

ROSE UNDER FIRE by Elizabeth Wein (Bolinda Publishing)

UNDER A WAR-TORN SKY by L.M. Elliott (Tantor Audio)

 

SYNC Classic Audiobooks

 

THE ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN by Mark Twain (Mission Audio)

ANNE FRANK REMEMBERED by Miep Gies & Alison Leslie Gold (Oasis Audio)

AROUND THE WORLD IN EIGHTY DAYS by Jules Verne (Tantor Audio)

BUDDHA BOY by Kathe Koja (Full Cast Audio)

DRACULA by Bram Stoker (Naxos AudioBooks)

GREAT EXPECTATIONS by Charles Dickens (Naxos AudioBooks)

HERE IN HARLEM by Walter Dean Myers (Live Oak Media)

JOHN BALL’S IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT Adapted by Matt Pelfrey (L.A. Theatre Works)

LITTLE WOMEN by Louisa May Alcott (Listening Library)

LORD OF THE FLIES by William Golding (Listening Library)

THE OLD BROWN SUITCASE by Lillian Boraks-Nemetz (Post Hypnotic Press)

THE PERFECT STORM: A TRUE STORY OF MEN AGAINST THE SEA by Sebastian Junger (Recorded Books, Inc.)

REBECCA by Daphne du Maurier (Hachette Audio)

SEA HEARTS by Margo Lanagan (Bolinda Publishing)

Happy listening!

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15. The Shadow Cabinet - Review and Giveaway

Thanks to Putnam Juvenile for sending a review copy of Maureen Johnson's The Shadow Cabinet. I'm actually 1 book behind in the series (listening to The Madness Underneath), so my friend Kate reviewed the 3rd book in the series for me.

The Shadow Cabinet (Shades of London, Book 3) by Maureen Johnson

Publication date: 10 February 2015 by Putnam Juvenile

Category: Young Adult Paranormal

Keywords: Ghosts, Murder, Mystery

Format: Hardcover, ebook, audiobook

Source: ARC from publisher for review

This review is a hard one to write because I don’t want to give away any of the fun surprises that I got to experience in reading this third installment of the Shades of London series by Maureen Johnson.

I really liked this book. I was attracted to the original book, The Name of The Star, because of its connection to the Jack the Ripper lore and history. The strange thing is, as I have read the follow-up books, I see that the first book was constrained by some of the Jack the Ripper references. Though it did draw some of us readers in, it also added limitations to the world that Maureen Johnson has set up since then; a world I love to visit. With each book, we get a deeper glimpse into the darker side of London’s history--both normal and paranormal--making London a full-fledged character in the books.

In The Shadow Cabinet, the squad must come back from a shattering upset to continue the search for Charlotte and to stop Jane’s evil plans. A few odd bookshop keepers and a set of twins that don’t seem to play by any rules give Rory a run for her money. However, the “bad guys” aren’t the only ones to receive a boost in their roister. Rory’s additional backup arrives from an unusual and unlikely source.

For those readers looking for romance, there isn’t much I can give away except to say that this book does a good job of staying away from the love triangle push and pull that can be found in a lot of Young Adult titles. Though the romance may be seen as a bit lacking to some, the development of the team’s relationships and the supernatural lore more than makes up for it. There are references not just to the old world lore of the English Isles, but Greek mythology as well. As the story continues to unfold, we see just how psychedelic London got in the early '70s as well as glimpse the ghostly culture of its past and present.

Faced with ancient rites and modern day codes, Rory must wade through the fog and haze wherever it may lead, to save her friends, herself, and the whole of England. What is a girl to do when the odds are against her, but there is no way to turn back?

While I enjoyed the twists and surprises of The Shadow Cabinet, it is also a nice set-up to the fourth and final book in the series. I can’t wait to see how this one ends.

-KATE-

Find the book: Goodreads | IndieBound | Barnes & NobleAmazon

Find the author: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Tumblr


I'm giving away either THE SHADOW CABINET in hardcover OR THE NAME OF THE STAR and THE MADNESS UNDERNEATH in paperback or audiobook (winner's choice). 

  • Open to US and Canada only, ends 5/1/2015.
  • No purchase is necessary to enter a giveaway. Void where prohibited.
  • We and the publisher are not responsible for lost, stolen, or damaged items.
  • One set of entries per household please.
  • If you are under 13, please get a parent or guardian's permission to enter, as you will be sharing personal info such as an email address.
  • Winner will be chosen randomly via Rafflecopter widget a day or two after the contest ends.
  • Winner will have 48 hours to respond to to the email, otherwise we will pick a new winner.
  • If you have any questions, feel free to email us atreadnowsleeplater@gmail.com
  • PLEASE DO NOT LEAVE ANY PERSONAL INFO IN THE COMMENTS. Sorry for the caps, but we always get people leaving their email in the comments. Rafflecopter will collect all that without having personal info in the comments for all the world (and spambots) to find.
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16. Shadow Scale Blog Tour - Review and Giveaway

Thanks to Random House for including us on the Shadow Scale blog tour! Read on for my review of the second Seraphina book by Rachel Hartman, and a giveaway. Please note there may be spoilers for Seraphina that I cannot avoid mentioning.

Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman

Publication date: 10 March 2015 by Random House

Category: Young Adult Sci-Fi Fantasy

Keywords: Dragons, Conspiracy, War

Format: Hardcover, ebook, audiobook

Source: ARC from publisher for review, audiobook purchased with credits from Audible.com

About the book:

The kingdom of Goredd: a world where humans and dragons share life with an uneasy balance, and those few who are both human and dragon must hide the truth. Seraphina is one of these, part girl, part dragon, who is reluctantly drawn into the politics of her world. When war breaks out between the dragons and humans, she must travel the lands to find those like herself—for she has an inexplicable connection to all of them, and together they will be able to fight the dragons in powerful, magical ways. 

As Seraphina gathers this motley crew, she is pursued by humans who want to stop her. But the most terrifying is another half dragon, who can creep into people’s minds and take them over. Until now, Seraphina has kept her mind safe from intruders, but that also means she’s held back her own gift. It is time to make a choice: Cling to the safety of her old life, or embrace a powerful new destiny?

Rachel Hartman returns with even more beautiful prose in Shadow Scale, detailing Seraphina's travels to find and unite the ityasaari, formerly only known to her as the grotesques in her mind's garden. Together with her fellow half-dragon/half-human friend, the acrobatic Abdo, she sets off with a mission that soon goes awry. Jannoula, the ityasaari she had locked out of her thoughts, seems to be one step ahead of her all the way, and while she professes to want what Seraphina does--the reunion and acceptance of the ityasaari as a family of powerful beings--Seraphina cannot trust her. With her support system falling apart, either falling prey to Jannoula's machinations or, out of necessity, far away (Queen Glisselda and Prince Lucian Kiggs remaining in Goredd, Seraphina's dragon uncle Orma hiding in exile), Seraphina's wits and will are stretched thin.

At every turn, new questions crop up: how will she find the ityasaari without being able to see their mind-fire, the magical aura that only trained Porphyrian priests can see? What makes them the way they are? And what will she do with them when she finds them?

Hartman's expert world-building unfurls into gorgeous, deep, and detailed life as Seraphina and Abdo travel from Goredd to Ninys, from there to mountainous Samsam, then exotic Porphyry. Expertly weaving in snippets of information about everything from the lives of the saints to the customs and linguistics of Porphyry (which we learn has 6 genders), the author creates an immersive and intriguing experience for the reader, peopled with a diverse cast.

Seraphina's cleverness and loyalty can only carry her so far. As she is exposed to new cultures, she learns to accept her limitations and gain insights into other people and ideas. Her visions may not hold a candle to the great powers displayed by other ityasaari, like Lars's technical genius, Dame Okra's powers of premonition, and Abdo's agility, but her tenacity and compassion make her more than worthy as a protagonist. The love between her and Kiggs is heart-breaking, both valiantly striving to do what's right, since Kiggs is engaged to his cousin, Queen Glisselda, whom both care for as dear friends. Meanwhile, there is much to fear: war rages in the Tanamoot, an enemy ascends as regent of Samsam (under dubious circumstances), and Jannoula dogs every step from within the minds of Seraphina's most trusted and loved friends.

Fantasy readers who love Kristin Cashore's captivating Graceling, Leigh Bardugo's epic Grisha Trilogy, and Robin LaFevers's sweeping His Fair Assassin series will devour Shadow Scale like a dragon would an auroch. With a tightly-woven plot, compelling characters, and an intricately embellished history, there's a lot to love, and almost nothing is forgettable. Here's hoping that the poetry, mystery, and depth of Seraphina's world is one we can return to again and again in future journeys and books. 

Find the book: Goodreads | IndieBound | Barnes & Noble | Amazon

Find the author: Website | Facebook | Twitter

  • Open to US and Canada only, ends 4/19/2015.
  • No purchase is necessary to enter a giveaway. Void where prohibited.
  • We and the publisher are not responsible for lost, stolen, or damaged items.
  • One set of entries per household please.
  • If you are under 13, please get a parent or guardian's permission to enter, as you will be sharing personal info such as an email address.
  • Winner will be chosen randomly via Rafflecopter widget a day or two after the contest ends.
  • Winner will have 48 hours to respond to to the email, otherwise we will pick a new winner.
  • If you have any questions, feel free to email us atreadnowsleeplater@gmail.com
  • PLEASE DO NOT LEAVE ANY PERSONAL INFO IN THE COMMENTS. Sorry for the caps, but we always get people leaving their email in the comments. Rafflecopter will collect all that without having personal info in the comments for all the world (and spambots) to find.
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17. Luck of the Irish $250 Cash Group Giveaway

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Hosted by I am a Reader

Need a little extra luck this year?  Here is your chance to win some cash!

1 lucky winner will receive $250 in Paypal Cash!

I'm not Irish, but I love corned beef, and now's the time to find it. I usually get it at Trader Joe's so it isn't riddled with nitrates. To tell the truth, it's the only luck I'm hoping for today--a nice big corned beef roast and a side of cabbage. Mmm-mm!

Sponsor List

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{A Leisure Moment} A Casual Conversation About Our Love For Literature
Author Deb Atwood
YA Author Fabio Bueno
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Kim’s Cozy Book Nook
Aubrey Wynne: Romantasy Through The Ages
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Author Georgina Young-Ellis

Giveaway Details

$250 Paypal Cash

Starts 03/17/15 - Ends 3/31/15

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use money sent via Paypal. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author, bloggers and publishers on the sponsor list. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

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18. Public School Superhero Giveaway

Enter today for a chance to win PUBLIC SCHOOL SUPERHERO and more funny middle grade books from James Patterson. I'm a fan of Patterson not just for his adult mystery novels, but for his generosity to book people of all ages. Just today Scholastic Reading Club announced his pledge to help school libraries with $1.25 MILLION in grants! Sadly, we're not giving away millions in cash today, but for your resident middle grade humor/adventure/graphic novel lover, this book might be priceless anyway. Read on for a synopsis and sample art, as well as the Rafflecopter widget to enter the giveaway (US only, ends 3/16/2015)

PUBLIC SCHOOL SUPERHERO
by James Patterson and Chris Tebbetts
Illustrated by Cory Thomas

In stores March 16, 2015

About the Book:

In this story about a good kid with a great imagination struggling in a less-than-ideal world, James Patterson brings his bestselling "Middle School"-style humor and sensibility to an urban setting.

Kenny Wright is a kid with a secret identity. In his mind, he's Stainlezz Steel, super-powered defender of the weak. In reality, he's a chess club devotee known as a "Grandma's Boy," a label that makes him an easy target for bullies. Kenny wants to bring a little more Steel to the real world, but the question is: can he recognize his own true strength before peer pressure forces him to make the worst choice of his life?

James Patterson's newest illustrated novel is a genuinely funny yet poignant look at middle school in a challenging urban setting, where a kid's life can depend on the everyday decisions he makes.

SampleArt.jpg
SampleArt2.jpg
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JAMES PATTERSON. Photo credit: David Burnett

JAMES PATTERSON. Photo credit: David Burnett

About James Patterson:

James Patterson was selected by readers across America as the Children's Choice Book Awards Author of the Year in 2010. He is the internationally bestselling author of the highly praised Middle School books, I FunnyConfessions of a Murder Suspect, and the Maximum RideWitch & WizardDaniel X, and Alex Cross series. His books have sold over 275 million copies worldwide, making him one of the bestselling authors of all time.

 

 


LEARN MORE

Learn More at PublicSchoolSuperhero.com

Visit the Author Site at JamesPatterson.com

Follow James Patterson on Twitter and Facebook

#PublicSchoolSuperhero

Giveaway

Make it through middle school with James Patterson! Enter for a chance to win copies of:

·         Public School Superhero

·         I Funny

·         Treasure Hunters

·         House of Robots

Prizing & samples courtesy of Little, Brown. Giveaway open to US addresses only.

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19. Twilight Special Edition Giveaway

Do I even really need to explain this? Special edition hardcovers of Twilight, New Moon, and Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer are up for grabs! Happy Valentine's Day, loyal followers! We love you.

US only (sorry, they're heavy!) Winner will be announced on February 14, 2015.

Giveaway Rules:

  1. Open to US residents only. Ends 02/13/2015.
  2. We are not responsible for items lost, stolen, or damaged in the mail. 
  3. One set of entries per household please. 
  4. If you are under 13, please get a parent or guardian's permission to enter, as you will be sharing personal info such as an email address. 
  5. Winner will be chosen randomly via Rafflecopter widget a day or two after the contest ends. 
  6. Winner will have 48 hours to respond to to the email, otherwise we will pick a new winner. 
  7. If you have any questions, feel free to email us. You can review our full contest policy here
  8. PLEASE DO NOT LEAVE ANY PERSONAL INFO IN THE COMMENTS. Sorry for the caps but we always get people leaving their email in the comments. Rafflecopter will collect all that without having personal info in the comments for all the world (and spambots) to find. Thanks!
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20. The New Indian Slow Cooker

The New Indian Slow Cooker: Recipes for Curries, Dals, Chutneys, Masalas, Biryani, and more by Neela Paniz

Publication date: 2 September 2014 by Ten Speed Press (reprint)

Category: Cooking, Indian Cuisine

Keywords: Cookbook, Slow Cooker

Format: Paperback, ebook

Source: Blogging for Books, ARC from publisher for review

4 STARS - STAY UP LATE

Photos from @readnowsleeplater and @frootjoos on Instagram

So I've been sitting on this book review for a while. I've had really mixed feelings about The New Indian Slow Cooker. The book is pretty gorgeous, with delectable photography and easy-to-follow layouts. Recipe introductions, instructions, and descriptions of ingredients used in this cuisine are helpfully clear and concise for helping the home cook navigate unfamiliar territory, making this a great intro to Indian food. The structure of most of the recipes also reduces the intimidation factor quite a bit, though slow cooker aficionados should note that there is more prep involved than you would expect from a normal slow cooker manual. Onions, for example, need to be cooked through on the stove before adding them into the mix; spices need to be roasted and ground (I've done this by hand and also in a spice grinder).

Lamb vindaloo @frootjoos

Lamb vindaloo @frootjoos

The variety of dishes is as I expected--staples like chicken tikka masala and my favorite butter chicken--are featured alongside everything you need for a meal, including rice dishes, paneer, raita, and chutneys. Simmering them for a long time at a low heat made a lot of sense, and the recipes were easy to prepare. However, while my test batches of curry were pretty successful (I'm looking at you, lamb vindaloo), one of the recipes I wanted to master the most (baingan bharta, a spicy eggplant curry) didn't come out nearly as I expected. Stewing the vegetables (mostly eggplant and potato) in the slow cooker didn't produce the smoky flavor I'd come to associate with the dish, nevermind that my usual exposure to it was through the Trader Joe's frozen food aisle (and the item is now, sadly, discontinued). I think I'll actually roast the eggplants next time.

Chopping up chilis @frootjoos

Chopping up chilis @frootjoos

Additionally, some of the recipes struck me as pretty Westernized, not authentic, but then I also think it makes acquiring or substituting ingredients somewhat easier, especially if you don't happen to live near a good Indian supermarket.

The size and soft binding of the book is great for leaving it open while you cook. Get a splatter-shield, though--I learned that lesson the hard way while frying onions. It's worth reading cover to cover, if for nothing else than to get a better idea of which spices combine to make a particular flavor. There are also little tips sprinkled throughout that I'd only expect to learn while learning from an experienced cook (like adding ice to a sauce pan before adding milk to make the yogurt). And actually, I got the cookbook right around the time my slow cooker broke--I have been preparing most of the recipes on a very low flame on the stove top, so you don't even really need a slow cooker if you get the principles of how heat affects your ingredients. 

I'd recommend this to adventurous cooks getting ready to venture into Indian cuisine, but not to slow-cookers expecting a quick fix-and-forget meal.

- ALETHEA -

I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for review purposes. 

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21. One Witch at a Time Blog Tour

Thanks to Simon & Schuster for including us on the blog tour for One Witch at a Time by Stacy DeKeyser! Check out the other blogs on the tour, as well as a guest post from the author and a giveaway of both books (The Brixen Witch in paperback and its sequel in hardcover).

   

One Witch at a Time Blog Tour Schedule

Mon, Feb 9 - Cracking the Cover
Tues, Feb 10 - Haunting of Orchid Forsythia
Wed, Feb 11 - Mother Daughter Book Club
Thurs, Feb 12 - GreenBeanTeenQueen
Fri, Feb 13 - The Book Monsters
Mon, Feb 16 - Word Spelunking
Tues, Feb 17 - Read Now, Sleep Later
Wed, Feb 18 - Small Review
Thurs, Feb 19 - Kid Lit Frenzy
Fri, Feb 20 - The Flashlight Reader

About the book

Misplaced magic is trouble.

The day had started so well. But now here was Rudi, racing home to intercept a thief. All because of a foolish bargain made by a nine-year-old girl.

Trouble has returned to Brixen, and once again, Rudi is the one who must make things right. Can he undo the disaster caused when an unsuspecting stranger brings a foreign witch’s magic into the Brixen Witch’s province? 

Guest Post

Alethea asked me to write about the books that keep me reading past bedtime, but I have a confession to make: I’m a terrible bedtime reader. Five pages and I’m drifting off, no matter how awesome the book is!

Maybe that’s why I love to travel: There’s nothing better than a long flight or a day under a beach umbrella, because then I can devour a good book in one long sitting.

I have a few absolute favorite books. If I could stay awake past bedtime, these would be the ones to keep me reading:

The White Darkness by Geraldine McCaughrean: This book is haunting and horrifying, and unfolds so relentlessly that it gives me chills just thinking about it!

Nation by Terry Pratchett: I’m a huge Pratchett fan, and this is his masterpiece. Not as wildly fantastical as his Discworld books, it’s heartbreaking in parts, and laugh-out-loud funny in other places. (And if you’re a writer, and want to study a master of the omniscient point of view, Pratchett is your guy.)

Anything by Jonathan Stroud: Currently I’m reading The Whispering Skull, the second book in his new Lockwood & Co. series, about young ghost hunters in London. And his four Bartimaeus books are among my favorites of all time.

binnyforshort.jpg

Anything by Hilary McKay: Her Casson family series (Saffy’s Angel and sequels) are some of the funniest books ever. I’m eagerly anticipating Binny in Secret, the sequel to Binny for Short, which is hilarious and sweet. Plus, there’s a dog.

Just thinking about all these wonderful books makes me think I should take another long trip soon!

 

About the author

Stacy DeKeyser is the author of The Brixen Witch, which received two starred reviews and was a Chicago Public Library Best of the Best Pick, and its sequel, One Witch at a Time, as well as the young adult novel, Jump the Cracks and two nonfiction books for young readers. She lives in Connecticut with her family. To learn more and to download a free, CCSS-aligned discussion guide, visit StacyDeKeyser.com.

 

Giveaway

One lucky winner will receive The Brixen Witch in paperback and One Witch at a Time in hardcover. US addresses only, please!

Giveaway Rules:

  1. Open to US residents only. Ends 02/23/2015.
  2. We and the publisher are not responsible for items lost, stolen, or damaged in the mail. 
  3. One set of entries per household please. 
  4. If you are under 13, please get a parent or guardian's permission to enter, as you will be sharing personal info such as an email address. 
  5. Winner will be chosen randomly via Rafflecopter widget a day or two after the contest ends. 
  6. Winner will have 48 hours to respond to to the email, otherwise we will pick a new winner. 
  7. If you have any questions, feel free to email us. You can review our full contest policy here
  8. PLEASE DO NOT LEAVE ANY PERSONAL INFO IN THE COMMENTS. Sorry for the caps but we always get people leaving their email in the comments. Rafflecopter will collect all that without having personal info in the comments for all the world (and spambots) to find. Thanks!
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22. Shadow Study

The Shadow Study Blog Tour

Feb 16th-20th and 23rd-27th

Hosted by Rockstar Book Tours

   

You guys! I am so excited. You can't even imagine. 

I remember the first time the name "Maria V. Snyder" registered in my brain. All these calls had been coming in to the store (formerly Borders Glendale, may it rest in peace) for a book called Fire Study. Well, all our copies sold out the first Tuesday they were on sale, and it just made me wonder--what the heck? It was the third book in a fantasy trilogy and I'd never heard of it before, which was unusual because I was usually all over the sci-fi/fantasy section.

I went home with the first book that night, read through to morning, went to work, bought the second book (the third book was sold out at that point, so I had to order it), then went home "sick" because at that point I had been awake for two days, read some more, and I don't even remember what happened the next day because I probably blacked out, haha! (And yes, this is the origin story of my blog name).

So I'm happy to be part of the blog tour for the 4th Study book--technically, the first book of the Soulfinders series--Shadow Study. Read on for a description, my review, and an international giveaway (there will be 10 winners! you don't want to miss this!)


Review

Shadow Study by Maria V. Snyder

Publication date: 24 February 2015 by MIRA

Category: Adult Fantasy/Romance

Keywords: Magic, Conspiracy, Spies

Format: Paperback, ebook, audiobook

Source: ARC from publisher for review

5 Stars - Stay Up All Night

Note: No spoilers in this review, but if you haven't read the original trilogy starting with Poison Study, you may be a little confused. I'll be revealing things that sound like they might be spoilers, but they happen in the first few chapters of Shadow Study and are mentioned in the synopsis. So read at your own risk!

Okay, okay--truth. This was not a true Stay-Up-All-Night rating, in that I read Shadow Study over a couple of weeks in little fits and starts, instead of a night-long binge-read resulting in calling out sick the next day. This happened because I have a day job, and I'd like to keep that day job. There are also little things like chores, errands, general hygiene (why does proper dental care take so long?), classes, and commuting that take up my time. I would sneak little bits of it here and there. So yeah, I did put it down for many hours at a time. But I really didn't want to.

Maria V. Snyder fans had been clamoring for a continuation to the Study series set in Ixia/Sitia for years. And boy, did we get it. Yelena, everyone's favorite Soulfinder and ex-poison taster, is back--except someone has poisoned her and somehow taken away her magic. Uh-oh.

True to form, Snyder's story splits Yelena from her heartmate, Valek, as he returns to Ixia to sort out some shady business--smuggling, skullduggery, and a young upstart assassin who's after his job. Yelena, meanwhile, tries to find a cure for her condition, made extra tricky by the need to keep the loss of her powers a secret. If Study Series fans know anything, it's that everything will get much, much worse before they get any better.

At least, neither of our protagonists is truly alone in their endeavors: fan favorites Ari and Janco from Valek's elite forces are back, as well as the intrepid, street-smart Fisk and Yelena's brother, Leif, to provide support and the usual shenanigans. Opal from the Glass Series plays a part as well--as do many, many other characters from previous books. Halfway through, I was wishing for a dramatis personae since it's been a few years since I read the Study books over again.

As the unknown villains continue to evade them, more questions than answers crop up: why did the Sitian Council not warn Yelena that a powerful magician escaped from prison? Would the Commander welcome Yelena back to Ixia if he found out she no longer had magical abilities? How are smugglers getting past Valek's usually whip-smart security forces?

Hardcore fans are in for a treat with the beginning of the Soulfinders series, but new readers should probably go back and read the first three books (completionists will also want to read Opal's series and all of the free novellas before attempting Shadow Study). Those who've persevered will be rewarded with an action-packed spinoff series including--gasp!--flashbacks to Valek's training days, when people would call him "Kingkiller" only in jest.

Once again, Snyder leaves readers on the edge of their seats, and will leave them craving more.


Goodreads Amazon Barnes & Noble

Synopsis

New York Times bestselling author Maria V. Snyder wowed readers with Poison Study, the unforgettable story of poison taster Yelena. Now she's back with a new tale of intrigue. 

Once, only her own life hung in the balance… 

Oddly enough, when Yelena was a poison taster, her life was simpler. But she'd survived to become a vital part of the balance of power between rival countries Ixia and Sitia. Now she uses her magic to keep the peace in both lands—and protect her relationship with Valek. 

Suddenly, though, they are beset on all sides by those vying for power through politics and intrigue. Valek's job and his life are in danger. As Yelena tries to uncover the scope of these plots, she faces a new challenge: her magic is blocked. She must keep that a secret—or her enemies will discover just how vulnerable she really is—while searching for who or what is responsible for neutralizing her powers. 

Yes, the days of tasting poisons were much simpler. And certainly not as dangerous…


Praise

"After years of clamoring, fans of Snyder's awesome Study series are about to be rewarded with a new adventure featuring former poison taster turned Soulfinder Yelena Zaltana. Snyder's complex world and rich characterization are what have made this series so unforgettable, and she doesn't miss a beat in this new installment. Having Yelena, Valek, Ari, Janco and the rest back is pure reading pleasure!"
4.5 stars, March 2015
~ RT Book Reviews on Shadow Study

"Doing full justice to the plot of this original and entertaining epic fantasy is impossible. Suffice it to say that the action is nonstop. The many characters leap to life, particularly Yelena, whose first-person narrative is riveting."
~ RT Book Reviews on Fire Study


About the author

Maria V. Snyder changed from being a meteorologist to a novelist in 1995, when she began writing to keep her sanity while raising two children. Since then, she has published numerous freelance articles in magazines and newspapers, and teaches fiction-writing classes at the local college and area libraries. The classes give her the wonderful opportunity to encourage fellow writers, and to keep improving her craft.

Born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Maria always had a fascination with big storms. Dreaming of chasing tornados, Maria earned a bachelors of science degree in meteorology at Penn State University. But she discovered, much to her chagrin, that forecasting the weather wasn't one of her skills. In order to chase tornados you had to predict where they might form. Creating fantasy worlds where she has complete control of the weather was more agreeable to her.

Writing proved to be more enjoyable than meteorology, and Maria returned to school to earn a Master of Arts degree in fiction writing from Seton Hill University. Unable to part company with Seton Hill and its wonderful writing program, Maria is currently a teacher and mentor for the MFA program.

Maria's research on food-tasting methods with an expert chocolate taster, her husband, turned out to be a delicious bonus while writing Poison Study.

Maria has a brown belt in Isshinryu Karate, and enjoys playing volleyball and the cello. Traveling in general and via cruise ship in particular are her biggest distractions from writing. Maria has traveled to Belize, Canada, China, Costa Rica, Europe, Mexico, the Caribbean and through the Panama Canal.

Maria lives with her family and a black cat name Valek (a.k.a. the bug assassin!) in Pennsylvania where she is at work on NIGHT STUDY, the second book of the NEW set of three Study books with Yelena and Valek!

Readers are welcome to contact Maria at the following email address: maria@mariavsnyder.com.

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Tour Schedule

Week One:

2/16/2015 - a GREAT read - Guest Post
2/17/2015 - Alice Marvels - Review
2/18/2015 - Reading YA Rocks - Guest Post
2/19/2015 - Tales of the Ravenous Reader - Interview
2/20/2015 - Read Now Sleep Later - Review                          

Week Two:

2/23/2015 - Two Chicks on Books - Guest Post
2/24/2015 - Seeing Double In Neverland - Review
2/25/2015 - Magical Urban Fantasy Reads - Guest Post
2/26/2015 - Mundie Moms - Review
2/27/2015 - Parajunkee - Interview


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The blog tour is giving away 10 finished copies of SHADOW STUDY! Open Internationally. Enter using the Rafflecopter below! Don't forget to leave some comment love (no, it's not mandatory, it's just nice!) for all of the blog tour hosts.

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23. SCIBA Children's Literacy Day 2015

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On Saturday, February 21, 2015, the inaugural SCIBA Children's Literacy Day took place at the Hilton Long Beach conference rooms. A diverse group of speakers including authors and publisher representatives addressed an audience of teachers, librarians, and other supporters of children's literacy, alongside a host of children's book experts from our local independent bookstores. I carpooled down with my friend Alyson from Kid Lit Frenzy, excited about seeing old friends from the our bookloving community, and seeing all the great new books coming out for the season.

The day began at 9 am with a continental breakfast and a special guest, former teacher and Mexican-American author Pam Muñoz Ryan, who presented about her career as a children's author and provided background about her latest novel, Echo, which all of the breakfast attendees received. The book grew from her research into the school desegregation case commonly known as the Lemon Grove Incident (Roberto Alvarez vs. Lemon Grove School District) and evolved into a story of several children from different times and places connected by an unlikely item: a harmonica.

Pam Muñoz Ryan and the children's booksellers of Vroman's Bookstore (Pasadena, CA) show off Echo

Pam Muñoz Ryan and the children's booksellers of Vroman's Bookstore (Pasadena, CA) show off Echo

After breakfast, the children's representatives from several publishers--Penguin, Random House, Simon & Schuster, and Scholastic--recommended their best picks from the new spring/summer crop of books. I won't go into that in too much depth during this post, as I'll be posting throughout the week about books from each publisher in a separate post.

Our luncheon speakers included 5th grade teacher and debut author Dan Gemeinhart (The Honest Truth), YA author and screenwriter Andrea Portes (Anatomy of a Misfit), and living legend Jane O'Connor--yes, the author of Fancy Nancy herself--who spoke mostly in her capacity as an editor of children's nonfiction at Random House. Attendees received the aforementioned books, along with intermediate nonfiction title Who Was King Tut?, penned by O'Connor under one of her pseudonyms, Roberta Edwards. This was followed by two talks, one with Ingram representative Beverly Fisher talking about services to libraries. Author Stacey Lee (Under a Painted Sky), one of the founding members of the We Need Diverse Books movement, moderated a Diversity in YA panel with Ayize Jama-Everett (The Liminal People, The Entropy of Bones), Cynthia Kadohata (Half a World Away), and Sherri L. Smith (Orleans).

To round out the panels for the day, attendees chose between one on children's nonfiction with Jane O'Connor and our friend Alyson Beecher from Kid Lit Frenzy, and another featuring debut YA authors Leah Thomas (Because You'll Never Meet Me), Sarah Tomp (My Best Everything), and Henry Turner (Ask the Dark). Courtney Saldana, the librarian behind the Ontario Teen Book Fest, moderated. I really wish I could have been in two places at once, as I was interested in the nonfiction panel too, but I'd signed up for the YA one. I also wish I could have brought a photographer along, as I was having issues with my phone that day (so many blurry, dark photos!). Maybe next year. (You can search for other people's photos on Twitter and Instagram with the hashtags #scibakidlit and #scibakidlit2015.)

Clockwise from top left: Simon & Schuster, Scholastic, Penguin, Random House exhibits showed new and upcoming releases from each publisher

Clockwise from top left: Simon & Schuster, Scholastic, Penguin, Random House exhibits showed new and upcoming releases from each publisher

The exhibits area featured our children's publishing representatives, Roz Hilden from Scholastic, Kelly Stidham from Simon & Schuster, Nicole White from Penguin, and Nicole DuFort from Random House, as well as booksellers Mrs. Nelson's Book Fair and Library Services (Pomona, CA) and Once Upon a Time Bookstore (Montrose, CA). Rounding out the event was a cocktail hour including signings and book with yet still more authors, including MG/YA author Shannon Messenger with Keeper of the Lost Cities: Everblaze, YA author Elana K. Arnold with her middle grade debut The Question of Miracles, debut YA author Elissa Sussman, and author/illustrator Dan Krall with his new picture book Sick Simon. I'll be featuring more of these titles later in the week!

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I can't decide which of the books I picked up yesterday is the most exciting, but also I feel like it's going to take me a solid year to work through all of these titles. Do you know what I was even more excited about though? The people! It was wall-to-wall book people, my favorite kind. Author Salina Yoon (Stormy Night) attended, and I really have to remember to get my photo taken with her next time. I love her so much! I had breakfast with Book Beastie (you should follow her on Tumblr :) Teachers and librarians were everywhere, including my teaching idol and Nerdy Book Club member Cathy Blackler and my book club buddy Emily Aaronson. I also met Lana and Erin from Chaucer's Bookstore in Santa Barbara (where my good friend Colleen worked during college), and Susie from Once Upon a Storybook in Tustin. I had a chance to catch up with Kim and her daughters (who run a school book club in Upland) while waiting in line for author signings. I even carpooled home with Carolyn, the YA reviewer from Kid Lit Frenzy. I'm probably forgetting a ton of names... some I'm not entirely sure if they want to be mentioned, so if I met you yesterday and you want to be mentioned by name, hey, leave a comment!

I really had a ton of fun at the first SCIBA Children's Literacy Day! I was so tired afterwards, but happy, too. If you are a teacher, librarian, or other school or literacy professional, you can sign up for annual membership in SCIBA on their website, www.scibabooks.org (though at this point, I'd wait until the end of the school year so your membership is valid for the next big children's events--fall and spring). The way the event is priced usually varies (I purchased tickets for every meal of the day, plus membership, which totaled $170), but trust me, it's completely worth it, whether your goal is to network, meet authors, learn about upcoming releases, or gather up books for your classroom or library. I also hope educators and librarians will continue to come and interact with their book industry representatives, to find out the ways in which publishers and independent bookstores can support literacy and programming in classrooms and libraries.

Thanks to the Andrea Vuleta and the rest of the awesome folks at SCIBA for welcoming us to their event, and may there be many more!

Follow SCIBA on Facebook and Twitter. For more info, go to www.scibabooks.org.

Find your local indie bookseller at www.indiebound.org.
Bookstore Links:
Once Upon a Time
Vroman's Bookstore
Mrs. Nelson's Book Fair
Chaucer's Bookstore
Once Upon a Storybook

More info on featured books and authors coming soon!

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24. Ontario Teen Book Fest - Author Spotlight - Catherine Linka

What: Ontario Teen Book Fest

When: Saturday March 21st , 9 am to 5 pm

Where: Colony High School, 3850 E. Riverside Drive, Ontario, CA 91761

The Ontario Teen Book Fest is a FREE AND UNTICKETED EVENT! Meet 20 YA authors, hear them speak about their books and writing, and meet other book lovers like you. Books will be available for purchase on-site from Once Upon a Time. There will also be t-shirts and posters available for purchase.

Official Blog Tour Schedule

February 28th: Spotlight on Kasie West -- Adventures of a Book Junkie

March 1st: Spotlight on Melissa Landers -- What A Nerd Girl Says

March 2nd: Spotlight on Brad Gottfred -- Recently Acquired Obsessions

March 3rd: Spotlight on Catherine Linka -- Read Now Sleep Later

March 4th: Spotlight on Debra Driza -- Read Now Sleep Later

March 5th: Spotlight on Katie Finn -- Fearless Kurt Reads YA

March 6th: Spotlight on Claudia Gray -- A Bookish Escape

March 7th: Spotlight on Shannon Messenger -- People Like Books

March 8th: Spotlight on Lauren Miller -- The Thousand Lives

March 9th: Spotlight on Elizabeth Ross -- Kid Lit Frenzy

March 10th: Spotlight on Anna Carey -- The Reader's Antidote

March 11th: Spotlight on Sherri Smith -- Movies, Shows and Books

March 12th: Spotlight on Mary Elizabeth Summer -- What A Nerd Girl Says

March 13th: Spotlight on Jessica Khoury -- The Consummate Reader

March 14th: Spotlight on Maurene Goo -- The Windy Pages

March 15th: Spotlight on Cecil Castellucci -- Nite Lite Book Reviews

March 16th: Spotlight on Jessica Brody -- The Romance Bookie

March 17th: Spotlight on Gretchen McNeil -- Movies, Shows and Books

March 18th: Spotlight on Aaron Hartzler -- Fangirl Feeels

March 19th: Spotlight on Michelle Levy -- The Consummate Reader

Spotlight on Catherine Linka

Today's stop on the tour is a spotlight on Catherine Linka, author of A Girl Called Fearless.

About A Girl Called Fearless

Avie knows her life is over when her dad “Contracts” her in marriage to millionaire Jessop Hawkins. Hawkins has bought Avie to be his first lady as he runs for governor of California on the Paternalist ticket. But Avie’s lifelong friend, Yates, believes she  has the strength to flee to freedom in Canada. As Yates draws her into the secret world of Exodus, their friendship turns to passion, and freedom means leaving Yates and hoping they can reunite over the border.

This romantic spec fiction/political thriller is set in a contemporary America upended by the deaths of millions of women from a hormone in meat. Teenage girls are a valuable and restricted commodity “protected” by guards, gates and Paternal Controls on phones, internet and media. After Avie leaves the mansions of LA and Malibu, she learns dangerous truths about who controls the US government. Pursued by federal agents as she heads for the border, Avie must find the courage Yates always believed she possessed.

About Catherine Linka

Catherine Linka was almost thrown out of boarding school for being “too verbal.” Fortunately, she learned to channel her outspokenness and creative energy into writing. She is the author of the romantic spec fiction thriller, A Girl Called Fearless. Catherine has traveled to such out of the way places as the Arctic circle, Iceland, and the Amazon and her personal goals include seeing penguins and orcas in the wild.  She doesn’t believe in fate, but she did fall in love with her husband on their first date when he laced up her boots after she broke her hand. 

Q&A with Catherine Linka

RNSL: When you started writing A Girl Called Fearless, did you think your book was going to be a YA novel, or did that develop later on the road to publication?

Catherine Linka: Avie is sixteen, almost seventeen, and she tells her story as she’s experiencing it. She’s dreaming of going to college and falling in love, and bam!--universities shut out women and her dad signs a contract for her to marry a guy twice her age. Avie has to choose whether to be fearless and run for freedom, or submit to a marriage she doesn’t want. I knew when I heard her voice in my head that this was YA, but I didn’t know that older readers would love her story, too. What’s been great is that some readers get swept away by the action and romance, while others dig deeper for the political undercurrent. 

RNSL: What project are you actively working on at the moment?

CL: We’re finishing the final copy on A Girl Undone which is the sequel and conclusion to A Girl Called Fearless, and that comes out in June. Plus, I am super excited to be working with St. Martin’s Press and Wattpad.com to feature my novella, A Girl Called Defiant: Sparrow’s Story. Everybody loved Sparrow in A Girl Called Fearless, and so I wanted to share her story. It’s sexy and tragic, and you don’t have to read A Girl Called Fearless to enjoy it, but you might want to later. 

RNSL: You have worked in the book industry apart from being an author. How has that influenced your writing life (or not)?

CL: Buying YA books for an indie bookstore is an amazing education if you want to be a writer. You’re reading all the time, seeing what books sell, and learning about different publishers. And I was really lucky I ran a teen board for 7 years because it was like watching a focus group every month about what teen readers love and hate.  The one thing I had to learn was to not let what I know about the business keep me from writing what I need to write. I have to say, “Shut up!” to my evil inner voice that tortures me by saying, “Oh, that will never sell.”

RNSL: Are you able to read other books while writing your own? Why or why not?

CL: I read every night even when I’m writing. I had to read constantly for my job at the bookstore, and it was easy, because I had tons of advance copies. When I was writing A Girl Called Fearless, I avoided reading dystopian, because I didn’t want to accidentally steal from someone else. It’s funny, but readers tell me that the characters in A Girl Called Fearless express much more emotion than they do in most spec fiction and I think that might be because I read a lot of contemporary fiction. 

RNSL: Your series is rather frightening to me in that Margaret Atwood sort of, something-like-this-could-possibly-happen-within-our-lifetimes kind of way. What makes you the most afraid? (Or are you fearless?)

CL: I wanted to write a story that when a reader put it down, they would say, “Oh my God, I could totally see that happening.” As I wrote A Girl Called Fearless, I kept thinking about how people act when a country has been through a horrible loss, and how fear or anger can be manipulated for political gain. We saw the Tea Party soar to power, and I don’t care what your political beliefs are--that was an amazing display of how emotion can be turned into political might.  One teen reviewer talked about how the rise Paternalists reminded her of the rise of Hitler--which shocked me, because that had been in the back of my mind, too.

RNSL: Cake or pie (or both)?

CL: Pie, absolutely. And when it comes to ranking pie: berry (any kind!!), lemon meringue, pecan--oh wait, did I forget chocolate pecan pie!!!


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25. Ontario Teen Book Fest - Author Spotlight - Debra Driza

What: Ontario Teen Book Fest

When: Saturday March 21st , 9 am to 5 pm

Where: Colony High School, 3850 E. Riverside Drive, Ontario, CA 91761

The Ontario Teen Book Fest is a FREE AND UNTICKETED EVENT! Meet 20 YA authors, hear them speak about their books and writing, and meet other book lovers like you. Books will be available for purchase on-site from Once Upon a Time. There will also be t-shirts and posters available for purchase.

Official Blog Tour Schedule

February 28th: Spotlight on Kasie West -- Adventures of a Book Junkie

March 1st: Spotlight on Melissa Landers -- What A Nerd Girl Says

March 2nd: Spotlight on Brad Gottfred -- Recently Acquired Obsessions

March 3rd: Spotlight on Catherine Linka -- Read Now Sleep Later

March 4th: Spotlight on Debra Driza -- Read Now Sleep Later

March 5th: Spotlight on Katie Finn -- Fearless Kurt Reads YA

March 6th: Spotlight on Claudia Gray -- A Bookish Escape

March 7th: Spotlight on Shannon Messenger -- People Like Books

March 8th: Spotlight on Lauren Miller -- The Thousand Lives

March 9th: Spotlight on Elizabeth Ross -- Kid Lit Frenzy

March 10th: Spotlight on Anna Carey -- The Reader's Antidote

March 11th: Spotlight on Sherri Smith -- Movies, Shows and Books

March 12th: Spotlight on Mary Elizabeth Summer -- What A Nerd Girl Says

March 13th: Spotlight on Jessica Khoury -- The Consummate Reader

March 14th: Spotlight on Maurene Goo -- The Windy Pages

March 15th: Spotlight on Cecil Castellucci -- Nite Lite Book Reviews

March 16th: Spotlight on Jessica Brody -- The Romance Bookie

March 17th: Spotlight on Gretchen McNeil -- Movies, Shows and Books

March 18th: Spotlight on Aaron Hartzler -- Fangirl Feeels

March 19th: Spotlight on Michelle Levy -- The Consummate Reader

Spotlight on Debra Driza

Today's stop on the tour is a spotlight on Debra Driza, author of MILA 2.0 and MILA 2.0: Renegade.

About MILA 2.0

Mila 2.0 is the first book in an electrifying sci-fi thriller series about a teenage girl who discovers that she is an experiment in artificial intelligence.

Mila was never meant to learn the truth about her identity. She was a girl living with her mother in a small Minnesota town. She was supposed to forget her past—that she was built in a secret computer science lab and programmed to do things real people would never do.

Now she has no choice but to run—from the dangerous operatives who want her terminated because she knows too much and from a mysterious group that wants to capture her alive and unlock her advanced technology. However, what Mila’s becoming is beyond anyone’s imagination, including her own, and it just might save her life.

About Debra Driza

Debra Driza is a member of the teen lit blogging groups The Bookanistas and The League of Extraordinary Writers, and a former practicing physical therapist who discovered tormenting her characters was infinitely more enjoyable. These days you can find her at home in California, adding random colors to her hair and wrangling one husband, two kids, and an assortment of Rhodesian Ridgebacks (most of them naughty).

MILA 2.0 is her first YA novel in a planned trilogy from Katherine Tegen Books/HarperCollins. It's currently in development with Shondaland production company (Grey's Anatomy) to become a TV series for ABC.


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Q&A with Debra Driza

RNSL: Writing aside, what hobbies or interests take up your time?

Debra Driza: Children!  Are children a hobby?  No?  Because they sure take up a lot of time! If they don't count, then I guess I'd say working out (I like lifting weights), dogs (we own 3 Rhodesian Ridgebacks, and I occasionally entertain crowds by attempting to show them in conformation and agility myself), and reading. 

RNSL: Out of all the advice you've ever been given about getting published, what's the first piece of advice that comes to mind, and why?

DD: Never give up--often, the only difference between a published writer and an unpublished writer is perseverance.

RNSL: Are you a plotter or a pantser?

DD: Definitely a pantser by nature. The MILA books required outlining though, which was REALLY challenging for me. 

RNSL: When you were a teen, what did you like to read?

DD: Not Stephen King, like tons of my friends did--I was too much of a scaredy-cat for horror. I remember reading Dune several times, Jeffrey Archer books, thrillers, and romances "borrowed" from my mom's closet. I guess I was always more of a genre girl!

RNSL: I'm a messy purse girl too. My mother keeps pens, paper, and tools in her bag-of-doom (she's an architect). What 3 things are you most likely to pull out of your purse if you just reached in and grabbed things at random?

DD: Oh gosh, this is kind of embarrassing, but I'd have to say a crumpled, year-old receipt, a stray credit card (I seem to have a wallet phobia), and a petrified clementine (my daughter loves them, and I can't tell you how many times I've reached for a pen and instead grabbed a shriveled up little orange ball. Oops).


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