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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Bloomsbury, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 97
1. Animal Atlas Featured in The Guardian Summer 2014 Best New Children's Books Supplement

The book I illustrated for Bloomsbury written by Anna Claybourne was in a supplement for The Guardian featuring the Best New Children's Books Summer 2014.

Here is a scan of the page. They used one of my favorite spreads.

0 Comments on Animal Atlas Featured in The Guardian Summer 2014 Best New Children's Books Supplement as of 7/18/2014 6:33:00 AM
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2. Free Fall Friday – Results – Jenna Pocius

CALL For: May/June Illustrations – 500 pixels wide

Jenna Pocius

I want to thank Jenna Porcius from Bloomsbury for sharing her expertise and donating her time to help all of us.

Below are the results for the four first pages critiqued by editor Jenna Porcius from Bloomsbury.

Next Friday May 16th Agent Marie Lamba from Jennifer DeChiara Literary Agency will critique 4 first pages.

QUINLAN LEE, Agent, Adams Literary  will end MAY with her four critiques posted on May 30th. Deadline to submit: May 22nd.

Here are the Results:


Tiny Mitchell of 18 Hummingbird Lane was the only one in her family with any sense of magic and wonder. Her parents were scientists, and they only believed in things they could see, touch, and count.

No matter how much they insisted magic didn’t exist, Tiny knew they were wrong. She knew that her great-great-great grandmother Petunia Wilson put spells on people and animals to make them behave. Once, she even worked for the President of the United States and helped him catch thieves trying to steal all the gold in Ft. Knox. Tiny admired her great-great-great grandmother and wanted to be just like her, maybe even help the President. She just didn’t know how to go about it.

Tiny’s older brother, Jamie, didn’t believe in magic either, although he did believe he ran the universe, especially her small corner of it. She knew that wasn’t true either, despite the fact he kept trying to prove he did.

“Okay, shrimp, where do you think you’re going?” Jeans full of holes and covered with ballpoint pen drawings of everything from cars to trees and flowers, Jamie stood in the front doorway, sneakered feet ready to pounce. He grabbed for her arm, but missed when she ducked around him.

Being fast and small helped Tiny a lot in the big brother department.” None of your beeswax where I’m going, toad breath, and my name’s Tiny.” Well, her name wasn’t really Tiny. Her parents named her Theresa, but Tiny suited her just fine.
She raced down the steps, jumped on her bike, and pedaled as fast as her legs could go, because she knew Jamie didn’t give up that easily. And, she was right. Paper clips bounced off the thick rubber band in his fingers and whirred around her head, but she couldn’t let them stop her.


I love the idea of this little girl who believes in magic even though no one else does—it’s a sweet notion that feels perfect for young middle grade. I also really like the family element, and the mention of her great-great-great grandmother has me curious to find out more about the nature of this family magic. But the introduction of her brother and their fighting shifts the focus a bit in a way that is not quite as engaging. I’d love to see more focus on Tiny in these first pages to help set up the plot and give the reader a better sense of where the story is going.


The Edge, By Angela Larson – Middle Grade

“…Our final announcement this Monday morning comes from Mr. Bennett. All science fair forms are due today by noon. A reminder to all scientists: There is a strict ban on explosive demonstrations this year.” My face grows so hot I’m sure I’m turning red. The announcer didn’t need to say, “We’re talking to you Felix Mathew,” for the whole school knows those last few words are aimed at me. We all just know it. You’d think that they’d be over it — that I’d be over it –I mean, it’s been a year already. Come on, my right eyebrow grew back three months ago.

I should probably tell you what happened. Last year, specifically, on the one day a year that the athletic teams of Einstein Scientific Junior Academy give up their precious gym for the school science fair I, Felix Mathews, rocketed a potato across the gym at 236 miles per hour. I imagined it would be one of those awesome moments where everyone would stop and be wowed by my brilliance. I was even prepared. I had practiced outside once before the fair.

It was a stunning moment at the fair last year. Everyone was stopped by my demonstration. It was just the screams that I hadn’t expected.

My launch pad was stable and strong, my practice run went well, and my confidence was high. But a small nudge by one of the judges a split-second before lift off changed the projectile. With a loud bang, the potato shot out its adjusted path at stunning speed and completely destroyed the gymnasium’s scoreboard. While everyone else watched the scoreboard shatter and fall, I smacked my right eyebrow, extinguishing the flaming hairs lit by the launch.

After the shower of plexiglass stopped, the judges showed no interest in my poster explaining combustion theory. I had labored over it for hours. And standing alone with my poster, at rocket speed I was hit with the certainty that I wasn’t going to be invited to the Monday morning school assembly to show off my prize-winning demonstration. Another attempt at greatness dashed – by just one potato.


I really like the classic boy middle-grade humor here, and I laughed out loud when I read “Come on, my right eyebrow grew back three months ago.” But I do think the opener would be stronger if it didn’t lead with the announcement. Situating Felix in the school first (maybe he’s walking to class, sitting at his desk, etc. doing something characteristically Felix) and then bringing in the announcement, for example, could help with pacing and build. Also, there’s some repetition here of information about the fair and what happened last year, so tightening that up will help make sure that the story is packing a tight, funny punch.


THE RIGHT STUFFING by Margo Sorenson - Picture Book

Jared picked up Carrots and his baseball glove.

Jared’s big sister Sarah frowned. “Don’t take that old stuffed bunny outside,” she said. “Aren’t you too old for him, anyway?”

Jared whisked Carrots out the door quick as a bunny.

“Good catch, Carrots!” he shouted.

Next, it was time to go to the grocery store. Jared sneaked Carrots into his car seat in the car.

“You shouldn’t bring that old stuffed bunny inside,” Sarah scolded. “Ick!”

But Jared raced up and down the aisles with Carrots tucked safely under his arm.

He stopped in front of the vegetables bin. “Look, Carrots!” he said, pointing. “There’s your name!”

At dinner, Jared squeezed Carrots next to him in his booster seat at the table.

“You’re not bringing that old stuffed bunny to dinner again, are you?” asked Sarah. “If you really have to have a bunny around, I’m going to tell Mom and Dad to get you a nice, new one.”

Jared scrunched Carrots down behind him. Only Carrots’ ears stuck up.

“Lettuce decide what dressing you want,” Jared whispered.

Next, Jared got in his pajamas, grabbing Carrots’ paw.

Sarah sighed, “You can’t take that old, dirty bunny to bed! Oh, my gosh. You’re too old for this bunny stuff.”

Jared snuggled Carrots under the covers next to him.


Myself and my stuffed animal dog, Doggy (who I’ve had since I was three) thank this author for understanding the importance of the child-stuffed animal relationship. J In all seriousness, though, this is definitely something kids and parents can relate to, and Jared and Carrots are an adorable pair. But the action here feels rushed, and the arc not fully fleshed out. I’d love to get to know Jared and Carrots a little more, and it’d be great to see them have a moment where they do something that gets them a positive response from the people around them to make the story a little more dynamic.


Eye on the Fly by Shiela Fuller  -  Picture Book

Bentley spied the fly.

It was on the screen door as Mom left the house.

The fly took off.


Bentley had his eye on the fly.

It landed on the rocking chair.

Bentley jumped.

The fly took flight.


Bentley kept his eye on the fly.

It landed on the trash can.

Bentley pounced.

Off went the fly.


Bentley saw the fly.

It landed on the blueberry pie.

Bentley darted.

Away went the fly.


Bentley had his eye on the fly


I think this is a creative idea, but the repetition is making it hard for me to get into the story. I’m not sure where the story’s going, and more importantly I’m not sure why I should care about Bentley and this fly. Widening the focus beyond following the fly—maybe establishing why Bentley is so focused on following the fly, for example—could help to develop the story.


Here are the submission guidelines for submitting a First Page in May: Please “May First Page Critique” or “May First Page Picture Prompt Critique” in the subject line. Please make sure you include your name, the title of the piece, and whether it is as picture book, middle grade, or young adult, etc. at the top.

Attach your first page submission using one inch margins and 12 point font – double spaced, no more than 23 lines to an e-mail and send it to: kathy(dot)temean(at)gmail(dot)com. Also cut and paste it into the body of the e-mail and then also attach it in a Word document to the email.

DEADLINE: May 22nd.

RESULTS: May 30th.

Use inch margins – double space your text – 12 pt. New Times Roman font – no more than 23 lines – paste into body of the email and attach.

Talk tomorrow,



Filed under: Advice, demystify, Editors, inspiration, opportunity, revisions Tagged: Bloomsbury, Editor, First Page Critiques, Free Fall Friday - Results, Jenna Pocius

1 Comments on Free Fall Friday – Results – Jenna Pocius, last added: 5/9/2014
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3. A Whole Lot of Lucky: Behind the scenes look at title development

Titles--heartache city! The title must do everything a synopsis or query does: grab the reader, provide a summary, and hint at the action yet to come. A lot of time goes into working up a good title, and it's not just the author's work, either. The editor, the editor's coworkers, and sales and marketing all have their say; everyone's input must be considered.

Titles cooked up and rejected for A WHOLE LOT OF LUCKY:

  • Two Flavors of Lucky
  • The Year of My Magnificent Luckiness
  • Three Million Dollar Girl
  • The Duplicitous Luckiness of Hailee Richardson
  • Serendippitydoo
  • Lucky Me
  • Impossibly Possibly Lucky
  • Hailee Richardson, Girl Millionaire
My editor and I brainstormed pages of titles and promptly rejected most of them. The problem lies in the word "lucky:" phrases involving "getting lucky" are imbued with the wrong kind of nuance! Also, we wanted to avoid words like jackpot or other buzzwords that are too close too gambling. (This was hard, because even the buying of a lottery ticket is gambling.)

My sister suggested "A Whole Lotto Lucky," and the powers that be loved her suggestion! With a bit of morphing, my sister's words became A WHOLE LOT OF LUCKY.

Now you can try your luck without all the heartache my editor and I went through! For a free, signed hardcover of A WHOLE LOT OF LUCKY, just enter the Goodreads contest!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

A Whole Lot of Lucky by Danette Haworth

A Whole Lot of Lucky

by Danette Haworth

Giveaway ends March 31, 2014.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

0 Comments on A Whole Lot of Lucky: Behind the scenes look at title development as of 3/18/2014 1:41:00 PM
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4. Review of the Day: The Water Castle by Megan Frazer Blakemore

WaterCastle 332x500 Review of the Day: The Water Castle by Megan Frazer BlakemoreThe Water Castle
By Megan Frazer Blakemore
Illustrated by Jim Kay
Walker Books for Young Readers (an imprint of Bloomsbury)
ISBN: 978-0-8027-2839-5
Ages 9-12
On shelves now

Where does fantasy stop and science fiction begin? Is it possible to ever draw a distinct line in the sand between the two? A book with a name like The Water Castle (mistakenly read by my library’s security guard as “White Castle”) could fall on either side of the equation, though castles generally are the stuff of fantastical fare. In this particular case, however, what we have here is a smart little bit of middle grade chapter book science fiction, complete with arson, obsession, genetic mutation, and a house any kid would kill to live in. Smarter than your average bear, this is one book that rewards its curious readers. It’s a pleasure through and through.

Welcome to Crystal Springs, Maine where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average. That last part seems to be true, anyway. When Ephraim Appledore, his two siblings, his mom, and his father (suffering from the after effects of a stroke) move to town he’s shocked to find that not only does everyone seem to know more about his family history than he does, they’re all geniuses to boot. The Appledores have taken over the old Water Castle built by their ancestors and harboring untold secrets. When he’s not exploring it with his siblings Ephraim finds two unlikely friends in fellow outcast Mallory Green and would-be family feuder Will Wylie. Together they discover that the regional obsession with the fountain of youth may have some basis in reality. A reality that the three of them are having trouble facing, for individual reasons.

When one encounters an old dusty castle hiding trapdoors and secret passageways around every corner, that usually means your feet are planted firm in fantasy soil. All the elements are in place with Ephraim akin to Edwin in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and a dusty old wardrobe even making a cheeky cameo at one point. What surprised me particularly was the book’s grounding instead in science fiction. That said, how far away from fantasy is science fiction in children’s literature? In both cases the fantastical is toyed with. In this particular case, eternal life finds its basis in discussions of mutant genes, electricity, radiation, and any number of other science-based theories. Interestingly, it’s actually hard to come up with many children’s books that even dwell on the fountain of youth. There’s Tuck Everlasting of course, but that’s about as far as it goes. One gets the impression that Babbitt did such a good job with the idea that no one’s had the guts to take it any farther since. Kudos to Blakemore then for rising to the challenge.

I’m very partial to children’s books that are magical if you want them to be and realistic if that’s what you’d prefer. This year’s Doll Bones by Holly Black, for example, could be an uber-creepy horror story or it could just be a tale of letting your imagination run away with you. Similarly The Water Castle could be about the true ramifications of eternal life, or it could be explained with logic and reason every step of the way. I was also rather interested in how Ms. Blakemore tackled that age-old question of how to allow your child heroes the freedom to come and go as they please without a droplet of parental supervision. In this case her solution (father with a stroke and a mother as his sole caretaker) not only worked effectively but also tied in swimmingly into our hero’s personal motivations.

In the midst of a review like this I sometimes have a bad habit of failing to praise the writing of a book. That would be a particular pity in this case since Ms. Blakemore sucked me in fairly early on. When Ephraim and his family drive into town for the first time we get some beautiful descriptions of the small town itself. “They rolled past the Wylie Five and Dime, which was advertising a sale on gourds, Ouija boards, and pumpkin-pie filling.” She also has a fine ear for antiquated formal speech, though the physical appearances of various characters are not of particular importance to her (example: we don’t learn that Ephraim’s little sister Brynn is blond until page 183).

An interesting aspect of the writing is its tackling of race, racism, and historical figures done wrong by their times. I was happy from the get-go that Ms. Blakemore chose to make her cast a multi-cultural one. Mallory is African-American, one of the few in town, and is constantly being offered subjects like Matthew Henson for class reports because . . . y’know. Henson himself plays nicely into a little subplot in the book. Deftly Ms. Blakemore draws some similarities between his work with Robert Peary and Tesla’s attitude towards Edison. Nothing too direct. Just enough information where kids can connect the dots themselves. For all this, I was a bit disappointed that when we read some flashbacks into the past there doesn’t seem to be ANY racism in sight. We follow the day-to-day activities of an African-American girl and the various rich white people she encounters and yet only ONE mention is made of their different races in a vague reference to the fact that our heroine’s family has never been slaves. This seemed well-intentioned but hugely misleading. Strange to discuss Henson and Peary in one breath and then ignore everyday realities on the other.

If the book has any other problems there is the fact that the author leaves the essential question about the mysterious water everyone searches for in this story just that. Mysterious. There are also some pretty heady clues dropped about Mallory’s own parents that remain unanswered by the tale’s end. Personally, I am of the opinion that Ms. Blakemore did this on purpose for the more intelligent of her child readers. I can already envision children’s bookgroups discussing this title at length, getting into arguments about what exactly it means that Mallory’s mom had that key around her neck.

In the end, The Water Castle is less about the search for eternal life and youth than it is about letting go of childhood and stories. Age can come when you put those things away. As Ephraim ponders late in the game, “No one back in Cambridge would believe that he’d been crawling around in dark tunnels, or climbing up steps with no destination. Maybe, he decided, growing up meant letting go of the stories, letting go in general, letting yourself fall just to see if you could catch yourself. And he had.” Whether or not Ms. Blakemore chooses to continue this book with the further adventures of Ephraim, Mallory and Will, she’s come up with a heckuva smart little creation. Equally pleasing to science fiction and fantasy fans alike, there’s enough meat in this puppy for any smart child reader or bored kid bookgroup. I hope whole droves of them find it on their own. And I hope they enjoy it thoroughly. A book that deserves love.

On shelves now.

Source: Final copy sent from publisher for review.

Like This? Then Try:
Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt
The House of Dies Drear by Virginia Hamilton
When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

Notes on the Cover: Is that or is that not a fantasy cover? The ivy strangled stone gargoyles and castle in the background all hint at it. I wasn’t overly in love with this jacket at first, but in time I’ve discovered that kids are actually quite drawn to it. Whether or not they find it misleading, time will tell. Not having read the bookflap description of this title, I spent an embarrassingly long amount of time trying to turn the kids on the cover into Ephraim and his siblings. It was quite a while before I realized my mistake.

Professional Reviews:

Other Blog Reviews: Cracking the Cover

Interviews: Portland Press Herald

Misc: Check out the Teacher’s Guide for this book.

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5 Comments on Review of the Day: The Water Castle by Megan Frazer Blakemore, last added: 4/8/2013
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5. Take a Vacation…with PENGUIN ON VACATION (and get a beach ball, too)

It’s finally May—the flowers are pushing through the dirt, the sun is ablaze with warm promises…and, well, it’s time to take a break!

I thought I’d consult with someone who knows vacationing very well. No, not my Aunt Myrna, the Long Island travel agent queen. Salina Yoon’s Penguin!

He’s a cute, chubby fellow with an itch for adventure. Let’s scratch it, shall we?


Penguin, thanks so much for joining me today. Tell me, what’s been happening at home that you decided a vacation was in order?

Hi Ms. Tara! I was just bored of the snow and ice. I can only count to 99, and after I counted my 99th snowball, I didn’t know what else to do.

You could make 33 miniature snowmen, but ya know, I like the vacation idea better.

What did Grandpa say when you packed your bag?

33 miniature snowmen…I never thought of that!

Grandpa always says to me that I should go and explore the world—and I will come back a wiser penguin. I think he is right. Grandpa is very wise, and he has traveled very far. In fact, he has been to the beach once long ago. He gave me his old swim suit for my trip. It fit perfectly.

I hope you sent him a postcard. He probably missed you very much.

I did better than that, Ms. Tara! I met a lovely seagull on the beach, and she had a camera. It went, “click! click! click!” and pretty pictures came out of a box. She took some photos of me and Crab, and Seagull delivered the photos to Grandpa because she can fly! It was very nice of Seagull. It turns out that we are distant relatives!

penguin1 penguin2penguin3

Speaking of Crab, you did some fun things together. What other places did you two visit on your vacation?

Crab took me caving, snorkeling, and even cliff diving on the island! I am a very good swimmer, so it was very fun. But the caves were nothing like the ice caves back at home. It was fun to see and try new things.

What advice do you have for kids heading away on vacation to someplace new and different?

My advice is to make new friends on vacation, because they will know how to have fun there even if you don’t! Also, I would say to be open to trying new things because you can do what you always do and eat the foods you always eat when you get back home. And take sunscreen…if you are going someplace sunny!

Where would you like to vacation next?

I would love to visit the Grand Canyon one day, even though I would have to pack a lot of ice with me to stay comfortable. I would also like to visit Mount Everest and see the world from the highest point on Earth! And then of course, Disneyland!

That sounds perfect. I can hear the television announcer booming, “Penguin, you just had your book published, what are you going to do now?!”

Thanks for waddling by today, Penguin. And thanks for leaving behind your adorable book signed by Salina, plus a beach ball to boot! Or throw. Or float in the pool with. Whatever the winner prefers!

Thank you for inviting me to talk with you, Ms. Tara. And happy vacationing, friends!


salinabeachPlease leave a comment below telling Penguin about your favorite vacation spot.

A winner of the book and ball will be randomly selected in one week!

Good luck!

12 Comments on Take a Vacation…with PENGUIN ON VACATION (and get a beach ball, too), last added: 5/3/2013
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6. Bloomsbury New Digital Imprint – Accepting Submissions

bbsparklogo235Bloomsbury Spark is a one-of-a-kind, global, digital imprint from Bloomsbury Publishing dedicated to publishing a wide array of exciting fiction eBooks to teen, YA, and new adult readers. 

Our outstanding list will feature multiple genres: romance, contemporary, dystopian, paranormal, sci-fi, mystery, thriller, and more. 

Bloomsbury Spark is a one-of-a-kind, global, digital imprint from Bloomsbury Publishing dedicated to publishing a wide array of exciting fiction eBooks to teen, YA and new adult readers. 

Launching in Autumn 2013 our outstanding list will feature multiple genres: romance, contemporary, dystopian, paranormal, sci-fi, mystery, thriller, and more. 

If you’re an author, Bloomsbury Spark is the premiere place to publish your work. 

Why? Because we are a hands-on, full-service publishing house. We will publish you globally  but market you locally. We are not just interested in publishing your book; we want to help craft your career.

If you have a manuscript between 25 and 60k words long, then send it to us at one of the following emails: 

For submissions in the United States and Canada: BloomsburySparkUS@bloomsbury.com
For submissions in the United Kingdom, Europe and ROW: BloomsburySparkUK@bloomsbury.com
For submissions in Australia: BloomsburySparkAUS@bloomsbury.com
For submissions in India: BloomsburySparkINDIA@bloomsbury.com

Good luck!

Talk tomorrow,


Filed under: authors and illustrators, need to know, New Imprint, opportunity, Places to sumit, Publishing Industry, Young Adult Novel Tagged: Bloomsbury, Bloomsbury Spark, Digital Imprint, YA and New Adult Novels

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7. Wednesdays in the Tower, by Jessica Day George

I was scrolling through my blogposts on this here blog because I was SURE that I had blogged Tuesdays at the Castle back when I read it.  No dice.  I really enjoyed that one, and you can get Jen Robinson's take on it over here.

Wednesdays in the Tower starts with an egg.  Celie is surprised because Castle Glower doesn't change on Wednesdays, but all of a sudden the school room isn't at the top of the spiral staircase.  Celie follows all the way up to a new outdoor room that slopes toward the center where there is a nest with a huge orange egg.  Celie cannot believe her eyes, and quickly heads over and lays her hands on the egg. She is surprised to find it hot to the touch.  When Celie runs down the stairs to spread the news of the egg, she finds she can't.  Nobody is listening to her, and what's more, only she can find that extra staircase!

The nest room isn't the only change that is coming over Castle Glower.  There is that mysterious armor gallery that appeared along with its magical tendencies.  The fabric room is another new one.  Before this, Celie and her family just accepted the castle's changes without really thinking about them, but some of these new changes have them thinking more deeply.  Where do the rooms go when they disappear?  Why is the castle suddenly becoming more fortress like?

In this installment, readers are treated to the real history of Castle Glower and Sleyne.  We learn in real time just as Celie and her family are learning.  Maybe some of the tapestries in the castle are more than just decorative.  Perhaps they are telling the stories of the castle.

Wednesdays in the Tower really should be read after reading Tuesdays at the Castle.  Jessica Day George doesn't  fill in the blanks with backstory, and if you haven't read the first book, you will be slightly off kilter.  That said, I really enjoyed the character and world building - Prince Lulath is a favorite of mine.  The cliff hanger ending will have readers clamoring for more.

2 Comments on Wednesdays in the Tower, by Jessica Day George, last added: 8/28/2013
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8. Interview with Kelly Fiore, Author of Taste Test

[Manga Maniac Café] Please welcome Kelly Fiore to the virtual offices this morning!

[Kelly Fiore] Thanks so much for having me!

[Manga Maniac Café] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Kelly Fiore] I’m an author, mother & former high school teacher. I love Hair Metal (think Def Leppard) & baking. I’m obsessed w/my Fiat 500 & I’m a sucker for movies with James McAvoy.

[Manga Maniac Café] Can you tell us a little about Taste Test?

[Kelly Fiore] Sure – TASTE TEST is about a high school senior named Nora who applies to be a contestant on Taste Test, which is a show like Top Chef but for teenagers. Nora gets on the show, but has to leave her best-friend-and-maybe-more, Billy, behind, along with her dad and the barbecue business she loves. When she gets to the set of the show, Nora’s faced with a snotty roommate named Joy and an infuriating fellow contestant named Christian. Christian is super-competitive and, of course, super-hot – and that only makes Nora dislike him even more. As Nora gets further into the competition, secrets and mysteries begin to surface – there is a huge scandal bubbling just below the surface, a scandal that could bring down another contestant and maybe even a judge. Nora is determined to reveal this dramatic twist to the producers of the show, but when accidents start happening in the kitchen, she realizes she’s got bigger problems after all. Nora needs to dig a little deeper to find out the truth about what’s happening on the Taste Test set – before she becomes a victim, too.

[Manga Maniac Café] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Kelly Fiore] There are certain shows that have characters with great chemistry and sexual tension – the Pacey/Joey factor is what I like to call it (for those of you who don’t know, Pacey and Joey were two of the characters on the 1990’s show Dawson’s Creek.) Blair and Chuck from Gossip Girl are another great example. I really tried to emulate that frustrating but satisfying relationship between Nora and Christian.

[Manga Maniac Café] What three words best describe Nora?

[Kelly Fiore] Competitive, Sassy, and Loyal

[Manga Maniac Café] If Christian had a theme song, what would it be?

[Kelly Fiore] That is a GREAT question! That might be the best one I’ve been asked!

I think Christian is the type of guy who would have a playlist, like in the locker room – how athletes play certain songs to psych themselves up. I feel like AC/DC “Back in Black” would be a good bet, but also something like “Can’t Deny It” by Fabolous. Something with a lot of “smack talk” to it.

[Manga Maniac Café] Name one thing Nora is never without.

[Kelly Fiore] She has two pictures that she brings with her from home – one of her and her dad and one of her with her best friend, Billy. In some ways, she’s never without those two people, even though they’re far away from her. She learns to respect her roots and the culture she grew up in – I know that’s not really a tangible thing, but it’s definitely something she carries with her.

[Manga Maniac Café] What three things will you never find in Nora’s kitchen?

[Kelly Fiore] Another fantastic question! In Nora’s kitchen, you’ll never find something fancy taking the place of something simple. No lobster, no caviar, no fois gras – she’d much rather cook ribs, potatoes, and corn on the cob!

[Manga Maniac Café] What are your greatest creative influences?

[Kelly Fiore] In terms of YA, my greatest writing influences are YA authors I admire – there are so many great writers out there. Some of the books that I find most inspiring are Liar by Justine Larbeleister, Please Ignore Vera Dietz by AS King, and Teach Me by RA Nelson. As a writer in general, poetry is what helped me establish my writing style and my voice. I have an MFA in poetry and it was my first love – I feel like poetry taught me how to tighten my prose and be more expressive in an abbreviated space.

[Manga Maniac Café] What three things do you need in order to write?

[Kelly Fiore] Coffee, noise in the background (usually the TV), and natural light. I work best around lots of windows!

[Manga Maniac Café] What was your biggest distraction while working on Taste Test?

[Kelly Fiore] The internet. Ugh – social networking is SO my downfall. It’s far too easy to get sucked into the lives of other people instead of creating the lives on the page.

[Manga Maniac Café] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?

[Kelly Fiore] The Fault of our Stars by John Green is absolutely as good as everyone says it is, and it was probably the last book I read that really blew me away.

[Manga Maniac Café] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

[Kelly Fiore] The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster. It was such a clever, magical world and I was totally enamored with the way Juster described his characters and settings. It’s such a great story – so creative.

[Manga Maniac Café] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Kelly Fiore] I spend most of my time with my husband and son – we love going on road trips and going hiking. I love to cook and try to do it as much as possible, although it’s admittedly less often when I’m working on a book!

[Manga Maniac Café] How can readers connect with you?

[Kelly Fiore] Follow me on Twitter! I’m @kellyannfiore – I would love to talk to readers! You can also find me on Facebook @ www.facebook.com/KellyFioreYAAuthor or at my website, www.kellyfiorewrites.com.

[Manga Maniac Café] Thank you!

About the book:

If you can grill it, smoke it, or fry it, Nora Henderson knows all about it. She’s been basting baby back ribs and pulling pork at her father’s barbeque joint since she was tall enough to reach the counter. When she’s accepted to Taste Test, a reality-television teen cooking competition, Nora can’t wait to leave her humble hometown behind, even if it means saying good-bye to her dad and her best friend, Billy. Once she’s on set, run-ins with her high-society roommate and the maddeningly handsome—not to mention talented—son of a famous chef, Christian Van Lorten, mean Nora must work even harder to prove herself. But as mysterious accidents plague the kitchen arena, protecting her heart from one annoyingly charming fellow contestant in particular becomes the least of her concerns. Someone is conducting real-life eliminations, and if Nora doesn’t figure out who, she could be next to get chopped for good.

With romance and intrigue as delectable as the winning recipes included in the story, this debut novel will be devoured by all.

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9. Sunny Sweet Is So NOT Sorry: Jennifer Ann Mann

Book: Sunny Sweet Is So NOT Sorry
Author: Jennifer Ann Mann (@jenannmann)
Pages: 208
Age Range: 8-12

Sunny Sweet Is So NOT Sorry by Jennifer Ann Mann is the start of a new series featuring an older sister (5th grade) and a younger sister (1st grade), with an amped-up level of sibling rivarly. There are Beezus and Ramona references on the cover, and I can see the comparison, but I found Sunny Sweet Is So NOT Sorry to be more over-the-top than Cleary's books. Fun, to be sure, but not the most realistic of realistic fiction. 

Sunny Sweet Is So NOT Sorry begins as older sister Masha (the first-person narrator) wakes up to find her head glued to the pillow, and a bunch of plastic flowers glued to her head/hair. Way up at the root, where they can't be cut out. She learns that her genius of a younger sister, Sunny, has invented a new, and basicallly impossible to unstick, glue. Needless to say, Masha is not happy. What follows are a series of escapades over the course of the day involving Masha and Sunny, their elderly Chinese neighbor, the local hospital, and Masha's problematic hair. 

Things I liked about this book:

  • Sunny Sweet Is So NOT Sorry could actually work for a fairly broad age range. Masha is in 5th grade, but she's kind of a young fifth grader, and this book is accessible to 7 and 8 year olds. There are a few illustrations, perhaps one per chapter, but not so many as you would find in Clementine or the like. Masha does have social problems fitting in at school, too. This means that Sunny Sweet Is So NOT Sorry is ok for younger kids, but should also work for 10 year old readers who want something light. 
  • Although there are modern touches, like cell phones, Sunny Sweet Is So NOT Sorry has an old-fashioned feel, particularly in the relative freedom that Masha and Sunny experience throughout the day (though it's not that their mother intended this freedom). Sunny is a particularly competent (if annoying to her sister) six-year-old. 
  • Sunny and Masha live with their single mother, but any mentions of their dad indicate that he's an upstanding member of society, not some deadbeat. It's apparently not clear to Masha why her mother divorced her father, but I thought it was a realistic single-parent situation. 
  • Later in the book, Masha meets a number of hospitalized children, and becomes friends with one of them. The descriptions of the children's ailments are realistic, but not overly scary. It's nice to see disabled or sick children as regular kids.

I did, knowing a bit about hospitals, find some of the hospital dynamics a bit implausible. For instance, the hospital staff goes to quite a bit of trouble to try to remove the plastic flowers from Masha's head, when it's not really clear that there's any medical issue (let alone discussion of insurance or payment). Actually, this all added to the old-fashioned feel of the book for me. I can imagine a community hospital of years gone by working this way, perhaps... This didn't really take away from my enjoyment of the book, but it certainly contributed to my impression of it as over-the-top vs. strictly realistic fiction.

Anyway, I did like Masha. She's plausible as the put-upon older sibling of a child who is not normal (Sunny's over-sized IQ). Here's Masha's voice:

"Sunny had to go to school, and my mom had to go to work. She had some huge meeting that she was stressed about. She always had some huge meeting she was stressed about. you could never say this to her, though. If you did, she'd remind you about how she's got a lot on her plate, blah, blah, blah, and make you feel all guilty--like it was my big idea to divorce my dad and move to another state." (Page 24, ARC)

"An ER waiting room is such a weird place. All the people are quiet, as if they're in a library, but they aren't working or reading, they're just slumped in chairs. It's like some kind of misery library." (Page 47, ARC)

Masha is not popular. She's actually pretty much invisible at school. But she maintains a healthy sense of self. And Sunny... Sunny is an "evil genius", but she's also a six year old who cries if her sister hurts her feelings. She figures things out, and has reasons (even if they are unusual) for the things that she does. I look forward to seeing what she's going to come up with next. Book 2 is due out in May, and appears to take up immediately where Sunny Sweet Is So NOT Sorry leaves off. 

I think that Sunny Sweet Is So NOT Sorry will be a welcome addition to the ranks of early chapter books, bridging the gap between Clementine and The Penderwicks. Masha and Sunny's adventures are funny, and they are both strong-willed and independent. Recommended in particular for elementary school libraries. 

Publisher:  Bloomsbury USA Children's (@BWKids)
Publication Date: October 1, 2013
Source of Book: Advanced review copy from the publisher, picked up at KidLitCon

FTC Required Disclosure:

This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).

© 2013 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook

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10. Interview with Melissa Walker, Author of Unbreak My Heart

Melissa Walker is the author of the enjoyable summer read Unbreak My Heart.  She also penned Small Town Sinners.   Recently, I asked Melissa a few questions about her latest book.  See what she has to say about Unbreak My Heart.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Melissa Walker] Author of teen books, magazine writer and editor, lover of iced-coffee, mix tapes, Friday Night Lights and Tarheel Basketball.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about Unbreak My Heart?

[Melissa Walker] Sure! It’s the story of a girl named Clem who is spending the summer with her parents and little sister on the family sailboat. She starts out heartbroken because of an incident that happened last year, and she slowly works through her pain (with the help of the fam and a sweet guy she meets on the river).

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Melissa Walker] I broke up with a best friend once, and it was (and is) truly painful. I wanted a way to get at that feeling, and these characters came to me as I thought about that situation.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What was the most challenging aspect of writing the book?

[Melissa Walker] The story alternates between past and present (the year that broke Clem’s heart and the summer that heals it), so getting that balance right was tough. I rearranged chapters a LOT, and that can get confusing!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Clem?

[Melissa Walker] Introspective, regretful, hopeful

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are three things James would never have in his pocket?

[Melissa Walker] Ha! Love this question. He would never have: a banana (too smelly), a hole (he’s very put together) or a cigarette (he’s too into fresh air).

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is Clem’s single most prized possession?

[Melissa Walker] Probably her iPod. She needs her life to have a soundtrack.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?

[Melissa Walker] I do watch a lot of TV and movies, and I read a lot, but I think "real life" is my greatest influence. Walking around, I catch snatches of conversation, see people act a certain way, watch how someone moves. That inspires me to sit down with new characters the most.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?

[Melissa Walker] Laptop, iced coffee, and at least two hours of uninterrupted time.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?

[Melissa Walker] The Difference Between You an Me, by Madeleine George. Best kissing scenes ever.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

[Melissa Walker] It would likely be Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume. I could not get enough of Fudge.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Melissa Walker] Read! Yoga. Park walks. Baby snuggles.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Melissa Walker] On melissacwalker.com, on twitter @melissacwalker, on

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11. Review: Unbreak My Heart by Melissa Walker



Title: Unbreak My Heart

Author:  Melissa Walker

Publisher: Bloomsbury

ISBN: 978-1599905280


May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Sophomore year broke Clementine Williams’ heart. She fell for her best friend’s boyfriend and long story short: he’s excused, but Clem is vilified and she heads into summer with zero social life.

Enter her parents’ plan to spend the summer on their sailboat. Normally the idea of being stuck on a tiny boat with her parents and little sister would make Clem break out in hives, but floating away sounds pretty good right now.

Then she meets James at one of their first stops along the river. He and his dad are sailing for the summer and he’s just the distraction Clem needs. Can he break down Clem’s walls and heal her broken heart?

Told in alternating chapters that chronicle the year that broke Clem’s heart and the summer that healed it, Unbreak My Heart is a wonderful dual love story that fans of Sarah Dessen, Deb Caletti, and Susane Colasanti will flock to.



I read and enjoyed, with a few reservations, Melissa Walker’s Small Town Sinners.  The religious framework occasionally frustrated me, but Lacey’s coming of age was compelling.  I was curious to read Unbreak My Heart, to see if I would have similar reservations with this story about a high school student who betrays her BFF.  I did not.  I was immediately engaged in this book, and couldn’t put it down. This is a great summer read with compelling characters and rapid-fire pacing.

The book begins with a very sad, very depressed Clem.  She has made herself a social outcast, and worse, she has betrayed her best friend.  A school year of forbidden attraction and inappropriate flirting has alienated her from all of her friends.  She thinks that the world has ended, as she suffers from soul-shaking sighs of regret and beats herself up over selling out Amanda.  She is the star of her own pity-party, and this is one party that seems as though it is never going to end.

To make matters worse, she is going to be stuck on her parents’ sailboat with her younger sister all summer long.  The thought is enough to send her over the deep end.  All Clem wants to do is mope around and relive every lapse of judgment she exhibited the entire school year.  She doesn’t like herself, and she now believes that she deserves to be a universally despised.  Poor Clem!

Thankfully, Clem has a run-in with James and a basket of bananas early in the book, a scene that actually had me laughing out loud.  For all of Clem’s angsty dramatics, her younger sister, Olive, and the always smiling James, lighten the tone of the story and kept Unbreak My Heart from being a

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12. Interview with Laura Powell, Author of Burn Mark

Our special guest today is Laura Powell, the author of Burn Mark.  This new Bloomsbury release features one of my favorite romance tropes – forbidden love!  Let’s see what Laura has to say about her new book.

[Manga Maniac Café] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Laura Powell] I’m half-Welsh, half-American, and live in a London attic. I can read fortunes in tea leaves and Tarot cards, and like to bake cakes and binge-sleep in between books.

[Manga Maniac Café] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for Burn Mark?

[Laura Powell] It struck me that a witches’ coven is quite like the Mafia: they’re both secret criminal organizations, hunted by the law, a source of fear and loathing to many, but seen as quite cool and glamorous by some.

Since modern-day witches would make great gangsters, I thought there would need to be a specialist police force to protect people from black magic – the Inquisition. Once I’d got these two opposing forces, I decided that my heroine, Glory, should come from a famous crime coven, while my hero, Lucas, should belong to an equally famous family of inquisitors. When their worlds collide, sparks fly!

[Manga Maniac Café] What three words best describe Glory?

[Laura Powell] Stroppy, ambitious, brave

[Manga Maniac Café]  What are three things Lucas would never have in his pocket?

[Laura Powell] Any kind of discount voucher, a lock-picking set, lint

[Manga Maniac Café] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?

[Laura Powell] The Robber Bride by Margaret Atwood. She’s probably my favourite contemporary novelist. Now that I’ve finished that, I’m on to her post-apocalyptic thriller, The Year of the Flood.

[Manga Maniac Café] Thank you!

You can learn more about Laura by visiting her website.

Check out the trailer!

You can purchase Burn Mark from your favorite bookseller or by clicking the widget below.

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13. Cover Shot! Dance of Shadows by Yelena Black

Cover Shot! is a regular feature here at the Café. I love discovering new covers, and when I find them, I like to share. More than anything else, I am consumed with the mystery that each new discovery represents. There is an allure to a beautiful cover. Will the story contained under the pages live up to promise of the gorgeous cover art?

Bloomsbury revealed the cover for Dance of Shadows by Yelena Black yesterday.  I like the how the lack of background distractions draws your eye to the model and her weird, red, flower petal imploding costume.  At least, I think they are flower petals.  The book sounds interesting, so I’m curious about whether or not it will live up to my expectations, which are, admittedly, high.  Are you looking forward to Dance of Shadows?

In stores December 2012.


Curtains up on a deliciously dark new YA trilogy!

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

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

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14. Review – Florentine and Pig Have a Very Lovely Lunch

The sun is sparkling in that lovely way it sometimes does, and Florentine suggests some fun outdoors. A picnic sounds wonderful and Pig agrees. Florentine begins taking comprehensive notes and Pig’s eyes boggle at her picnic schedule – apple and carrot muffins, rainbow sprinkle cookies, green pea tarts and pink lemonade, just to name a few delectable treats.

But there’s a problem. Pig has eaten the last of the apples – how on earth will Florentine make those apple and carrot muffins? Pig has an idea. He runs for his telescope and spies not one but three juicy apples at the tippety top of their apple tree. But how will they reach them? Pig – the clever solver of all problems – knows how.

Very soon, with apples in hand, Pig and Florentine are whipping up their picnic feast, which they enjoy on a blanket under the apple tree.

This is a basic plot in terms of storytelling. Its strengths are in the striking artwork and the author’s lovely ‘voice’ and creative use of words. I particularly enjoyed the use of onomatopoeia, especially when it came to whipping up that menu.

Kids will adore the galloping, super sweet illustrations, not to mention the recipes at the end of the book, and instructions on how to make Pig’s very pretty picnic bunting.

Florentine and Pig Have a Very Lovely Lunch is published by Bloomsbury.

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15. Review: Blood Moon by Alyxandra Harvey

Title: Blood Moon (The Drake Chronicles)

Author:  Alyxandra Harvey

Drake Chronicles #5

Digital – Blood Moon (The Drake Chronicles)

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

When the vampire tribes convene for the rare Blood Moon ceremonies, Solange’s fight with her feral nature, a mysterious stranger, family secrets and forbidden magic put all of the Drakes in danger.
The POVs are: Solange, Lucy and Nicholas.


I love the Drake Chronicles, and if you had told me a few years ago that I would be eating up a YA series about vampires, I would have wondered what you had been smoking.  The vampire craze never made sense to me, and I find other paranormal beings much more compelling.  Give me a good zombie story, with lots of screaming and running for your life, and I’m happy. Give me a vampire story where the vamps aren’t romantic leads but terrifying, ruthless killers, and I might have been interested.  But a story about a large brood of single, sexy vampire brothers (and one very confused sister), and I’m, like, yawn, so I have to thank Bloomsbury for sending the first book in this series to me, because they got me totally hooked.  Thanks, Bloomsbury!!

Blood Moon picks up right were the previous installment, Bleeding Hearts, left off.  Solange is losing her battle against her feral nature, and not even her BFF, Lucy, is safe in her presence.  Solange is so unstable that  her strong family doesn’t know what to do or how to control her.  She lashes out at everyone, and she falls under the sway of Constantine, a powerful vampire with hidden goals of his own.  When Nicholas goes missing, not even his sudden disappearance can mend Solange’s broken relationships long enough to find her brother.

I loved this installment, right up until the non-ending.  That is non-ending number two for the series, and it’s something that tries my patience.  While I am happy that there will be another book in the series, stopping this one almost in mid-sentence is disappointing.  Even when a book is part of a series, I still expect each installment to have a beginning and an ending.  I expect minor story arcs to get wrapped up, leaving the bigger plot thread for another day.  It’s hard to recommend a book to my friends that just slams into a brick wall and ends with a “Well, see ya next time!”  The momentum is lost by the time I pick up the next book in a series, and there’s an awkward period of adjustment as I struggle to remember who everyone is and what everything is about.  I would rather wait until all of the pieces are released before wading into the thick of things, and I usually advise my friends to wait until a series is complete.  Sorry, that’s just the way I roll.  I refuse to read another George R R Martin book until A Song Ice and Fire is finished, because I hate the years and years gaps between his books, and that is probably my favorite series.

Blood Moon examines the relationship between Lucy and Solange, returning to the series’ roots.  The action starts off with Lucy having to taser an ever more unstable Solange.  It seems that even being her best friend is no guarantee of her safety.   With  Kieran bleeding to death after a ravenous Solange can’t resist feasting on his rich, enticing blood, Lucy is desperate to get him the medical attention he needs, as well as keeping herself from becoming a vampire snack.  The constant push and pull between the girls was compelling; Solange doesn’t want to keep striking out at Lucy, but she just can’t help herself.  With Constantine there to encourage her drinking fresh from the vein blood, she is spiraling ever faster out of control.  Her hunger drives her, and she can’t quench it.  And, oh, yeah, she’s hearing a voice in her head, one that urges her to think of no one but herself and to hell with the consequences.

I wish that Nicholas and Lucy had more page time together, because they are my favorite couple.  Alas, he’s abducted, making  cuddle time impossible.  Lucy’s frantic efforts to find him are in vain, and I loved the scene on the school roof, which has her screaming out her fear, rage, and helplessness into the night air.  Poor Lucy!  I could feel her emotional pain, and I think I, too, would have felt so frustrated that I would have screamed uncontrollably until my eyes bled.  For a girl who is accustomed to taking charge, to acting to save her friends, her helplessness was agonizing.  For the first time in the series, she gives in to her fear.  There is nothing she can do to save Nicholas except wait for him to be found, and that does not agree with her heart, or her personality, one little bit.

I enjoyed this outing with the Drakes right up until the non-ending, and if I had known about it, I would have held off until January, when Blood Prophesy hits stores.   I am by nature impatient, so I hate these waits to see how all of the cliffhangers will play out.  I’d rather hold off until the final book is released, especially for a series that I love, instead of getting annoyed by these dreaded non-endings.  How do you feel about cliffhangers?  Love ‘em? Hate ‘em?  Leave a comment and share your thoughts about them.

Grade:   B- (minor deduction for the cliffhanger ending)

Review copy purchased from Amazon  (I also received a finished copy from Bloomsbury after I purchased a digital version from Amazon.  I will be giving this away soon, so check back if you’re interested!)

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16. Interview with Susan Vaught, Author of Freaks Like Us


Susan Vaught’s latest release, Freaks Like Us, recently hit store shelves.  Susan stopped by the virtual offices for a chat.  Check out what she has to say!

[Manga Maniac Cafe]  Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Susan Vaught] Long hair, pacifist, likes chocolate, reads a lot, has parrot, too many dogs, three cats, loves writing, likes football, works in an asylum.

[Manga Maniac Cafe]  Can you tell us a little about Freaks Like Us?

[Susan Vaught] Freaks Like Us is a fast-paced mystery, with most of the story taking place in the 24 hours after Jason Milwaukee’s best friend and sort-of girlfriend disappears. To find her, Jason has to battle his mental illness, his self-doubt, and prejudice from other people involved in the search.

[Manga Maniac Cafe]  How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Susan Vaught] I have been wanting to write through the eyes and voice of a character with schizophrenia for many years, but it took me a long time to develop just the right personality so readers could relate to Jason. The other characters came more naturally, and they all contend with issues I have either faced in my own life/family, or treated in my years of practice as a psychologist. The mystery element of the story unfolded as the story moved along, surprising me at the end of the first chapter!

[Manga Maniac Cafe]  What three words best describe Jason?

[Susan Vaught] Brave, Loving, Determined

[Manga Maniac Cafe]  What three things will Jason leave the house without?

[Susan Vaught] Three things he wouldn’t leave the house without would be Sunshine’s locket, his house key, and Agent Mercer’s private telephone number. If it’s really supposed to be what he WOULD leave the house without, then the answer would be . . . just about everything else. Jason can get pretty distracted and forgetful. Lunch money, his phone, his homework—all of that might get accidentally abandoned on any given day.

[ED – oops, yes it was a typo.  Thank you for the wonderful answer Smile]

[Manga Maniac Cafe]  If Jason had a theme song, what would it be?

[Susan Vaught] Possibility, by Lykke Li. I think the haunting sound and the words/emotions have real meaning for him.

[Manga Maniac Cafe]  What is Jason’s most prized possession?

[Susan Vaught] Sunshine’s gold locket. It means more to him than anything other than Sunshine herself.

[Manga Maniac Cafe]  What are your greatest creative influences?

[Susan Vaught] Life, music, and other people’s brilliant art. Whenever I read a great book, hear a wonderful song, look at an amazing painting or sculpture, watch a good film, or encounter good art in any other format, it inspires me to make more of my own—not copy what I experienced or encountered, but try to come up with something brilliant, beautiful, and lasting, to pass on that gift of inspiration.

[Manga Maniac Cafe]  What three things do you need in order to write?

[Susan Vaught] A clean house or writing cabin, no distractions, and the exact right song. I absolutely cannot write without good music.

[Manga Maniac Cafe]  What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?

[Susan Vaught] Daughter of Smoke and Bone, by Laini Taylor. I reviewed it on my website. I love the originality of the writing, and the flesh-and-blood feel of the characters…even those that don’t exactly have flesh and blood.

[Manga Maniac Cafe]  If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

[Susan Vaught] John Christopher’s Tripod series. The first book in the series was The White Mountains. I remember falling deeply into that world, into the struggles of those characters. I believe it was the first set of books I read where kids were in real jeopardy, and made a difference.

[Manga Maniac Cafe]  What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Susan Vaught] When I’m not writing, I’m usually working. My day job is at an inpatient psychiatric hospital. I also help tend the many birds and animals on our farm. What I’d like to do—ha. Be at the beach!

[Manga Maniac Cafe]   How can readers connect with you?

[Susan Vaught] Through my website, at www.susanvaught.com . I enjoy hearing from my readers!

[Manga Maniac Cafe]  Thank you!

You can purchase Freaks Like Us from your favorite bookseller or by clicking the widget below.

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17. Interview with Erin Jade Lange, Author of Butter

Erin Jade Lange is the author of the recently released BUTTER.  She recently dropped by the virtual offices to discuss her new book, so check out what she has to say.

[Manga Maniac Café]   Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Erin Jade Lange] I’m a shy girl pretending to be outgoing. I’m more “one of the guys” than a girly girl. And I love loud music and surprises.

[Manga Maniac Café]  Can you tell us a little about BUTTER?

[Erin Jade Lange] BUTTER is the story of an obese teenager who announces a plan to eat himself to death live on the internet with one epic “last meal.” When his plan makes him suddenly popular, he no longer wants to go through with it. But can he keep that popularity if he doesn’t do what he promised?

[Manga Maniac Café]  How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Erin Jade Lange] My stories always start with characters and evolve from there. Butter came to me with his morbid plan already in place, but I had no idea whether he would go through with it until I started writing.

[Manga Maniac Café]  What three words best describe Butter?

[Erin Jade Lange] Sarcastic, talented, angry

[Manga Maniac Café]  If Butter had a theme song, what would it be?

[Erin Jade Lange] “Should I Stay or Should I Go” by The Clash.

[Manga Maniac Café]  What is Butter’s most prized possession?

[Erin Jade Lange] His saxophone. For sure.

[Manga Maniac Café]  What are your greatest creative influences?

[Erin Jade Lange] Reality is probably my biggest influence. I absorb and internalize a lot of the stories I write as a TV news producer, and those stories tend to inform my writing in some way. It can be as obvious as the headline topics of internet bullying and teen suicide in BUTTER or as subtle as the poor economic climate in next year’s book.

[Manga Maniac Café]  What three things do you need in order to write?

[Erin Jade Lange] A cup of coffee, a comfortable chair and a nice big chunk of time.

[Manga Maniac Café]  What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?

[Erin Jade Lange] A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

[Manga Maniac Café]   If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

[Erin Jade Lange] Charlotte’s Web was my first “big girl” book. After that, I just never stopped reading.

[Manga Maniac Café]  What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Erin Jade Lange] I snowboard (though I’m not very good at it); I play guitar (though I’m very VERY bad at it); and lately, when I’m not reading or writing, I’m planning my wedding.  Smile

[Manga Maniac Café]  How can readers connect with you?

[Erin Jade Lange] Website: erinlange.com + blog: butterslastmeal.com + facebook: facebook.com/erinjadelange + twitter: @erinjadelange

[Manga Maniac Café]  Thank you!

You can order BUTTER from your favorite bookseller or by clicking the widget below

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18. Interview with Tiffany Schmidt, Author of Send Me A Sign

Tiffany Schmidt is the author of the recently released  Send Me A Sign.  I’m delighted to have her as a guest in the virtual offices today!

[Manga Maniac Café] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Tiffany Schmidt] Former wild-child who blamed all hijinks on imaginary friends. Now: pretends to be a grown up, makes up stories, plays with impish twin sons

[Manga Maniac Café] Can you tell us a little about Send Me A Sign?

[Tiffany Schmidt] Send Me A Sign is about Mia, a superstitious high school senior who is diagnosed with leukemia. It’s about the ways Mia struggles with keeping her illness a secret because she doesn’t want it to change how people perceive her—and because she’s not ready to handle the ways it will change her life. In three words, it’s about: Love, Life & Luck.

[Manga Maniac Café] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Tiffany Schmidt] My stories always start with a character – I came up with ultra-superstitious Mia first, then looked for scenarios that would challenge her. Mia is terrified by situations where she’s not in control or there aren’t set guidelines for how she should act—cancer breaks all the rules for expectations. Mia loses control of her own body, and she struggles so much with not being able to predict or shape the way other people react to her cancer. The tension between Mia’s denial of her illness and her paralyzing fear of letting down everyone else drive the story. Throw in the normal, everyday pressures of being a teenager—because a cancer diagnosis doesn’t stop a person from falling in love, fighting with friends, or worrying about disappointing her parents—and you’ve got SEND ME A SIGN.

[Manga Maniac Café] What three words best describe Mia?

[Tiffany Schmidt] Superstitious. Over-achiever. Anxious.

[Manga Maniac Café] What are three things Mia would never have in her purse?

[Tiffany Schmidt] 1) A compact with a broken mirror. (Though she would always have an unbroken one).

2) A hospital bracelet, medication, or anything that would reveal she’s sick.

3) A penny found laying tails-side-up.

[Manga Maniac Café]  If Mia had a theme song, what would it be?

[Tiffany Schmidt] “Superstition” by Stevie Wonder. Also “Girls Like You” by The Naked And Famous

[Manga Maniac Café]  What is Gyver’s most prized possession?

[Tiffany Schmidt] His guitar

[Manga Maniac Café]   What are your greatest creative influences?

[Tiffany Schmidt] This changes quite a bit depending on what I’m working on. For Send Me A Sign, I was heavily influenced by music. Gyver’s playlists are woven throughout the book and Mia looks for signs in the lyrics of songs. One of my greatest sources of creative influence was Jack’s Mannequin’s “Glass Passenger” album, particularly the songs that chronicle the lead singer, Andrew McMahon’s, own battle with leukemia.

[Manga Maniac Café]  What three things do you need in order to write?

[Tiffany Schmidt] 1) The book’s playlist while I’m writing and silence for revisions.

2) Colored pens. My favorites are Staedtler triplus fineliners. I revise & edit on print outs. By the time I’m done it looks like Rainbow Brite exploded on my pages.

3) Revision Skittles (the rest of the world calls these Crazy Core Skittles). I’ve got a serious addiction, but only allow myself to eat them while revising. The rule is: One Skittle for every page revised.

[Manga Maniac Café]  What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?

[Tiffany Schmidt] Every Day by David Levithan. I’m always in awe of the ways David reinvents himself and challenges a reader’s preconceptions with each of his novels and Every Day did not disappoint. I pre-ordered a copy for my sister before I read it because I fully anticipated needing to discuss it when I finished… of course I finished and she’s off in Europe. So now I’m hounding St.Matt to READ IT NOW and making lists of topics I want talk about when he’s done.

[Manga Maniac Café]  If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

[Tiffany Schmidt] I was a very early reader, so the honest answer is probably The Poky Little Puppy or something by Seuss.

The first time I really remember reading a book and thinking That’s ME – was Super Fudge. I didn’t identify with Peter, I related to Fudge, the kid who managed to find trouble even when he wasn’t looking. I had similar reactions to Ramona and Matilda. My long-suffering mother was thrilled that reading kept me in one place and out of trouble… at least until I finished a book and tried re-creating the characters’ antics.

[Manga Maniac Café]  What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Tiffany Schmidt] I love to run, kayak, and play tennis, but I’m equally content to curl up in a hammock with a good book and either a Schmidtlet or a puggle (never both at the same time or we’ll all end up overturned). I go through way too much sugar and butter each week, because I’m constantly baking—then mailing out all sorts of cookie & cake care packages.

Oh, and Twitter. I’m pretty darn addicted to that too.

[Manga Maniac Café]  How can readers connect with you?

[Tiffany Schmidt] · Website: www.TiffanySchmidt.com

· Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TiffanySchmidtBooks

· Twitter: @TiffanySchmidt

· Pinterest: https://pinterest.com/tiffanyaschmidt/send-me-a-sign/

· E-mail: TiffanyASchmidt@gmail.com

· Mail: Tiffany Schmidt

PO Box 119

Fountainville, PA 18923

[Manga Maniac Café] Thank you!

You can order Send Me A Sign from your favorite bookseller or by clicking the widget below

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19. Waiting on Wednesday–Blood Prophecy

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

Though the series has had its ups and down, I still love the Drakes and all of their friends.  I’ll be sad when the series wraps up with Blood Prophecy by Alyxandra Harvey

In stores January 2013


In the thrilling conclusion of the Drake Chronicles, love and loyalties will be tested … and proven once and for all.

Can Solange find her way back home again? And can she do it in time to save everyone she loves from the vampire civil war, hunter attack, and each other?

Because not everyone can survive the prophecy… maybe not even her.

What are you waiting on?

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20. Review: Also Known As by Robin Benway



Title: Also Known As

Author: Robin Benway

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Being a 16-year-old safecracker and active-duty daughter of international spies has its moments, good and bad. Pros: Seeing the world one crime-solving adventure at a time. Having parents with super cool jobs. Cons: Never staying in one place long enough to have friends or a boyfriend. But for Maggie Silver, the biggest perk of all has been avoiding high school and the accompanying cliques, bad lunches, and frustratingly simple locker combinations. Then Maggie and her parents are sent to New York for her first solo assignment, and all of that changes. She’ll need to attend a private school, avoid the temptation to hack the school’s security system, and befriend one aggravatingly cute Jesse Oliver to gain the essential information she needs to crack the case . . . all while trying not to blow her cover.


When I saw Also Known As on Netgalley, I immediately requested a copy.  I love YA books featuring spies, espionage, and danger, and this title looked like it had all of that in spades.  Plus, as an added bonus, protagonist Maggie is a gifted safe-cracker.  Seriously, it just doesn’t get any more fun than that!  The first chapter kind of bogged me down, but once I hit my stride, I gobbled Also Known As in just an afternoon.  I didn’t want to put it down, and it had me so engaged in the story that I was able to overlook a few inconsistences that would have driven me crazy otherwise.  This is a fun read, with a confident though in over her head heroine, and an engaging cast of supporting characters.  I really hope Maggie will return for more adventures.

Maggie has been living the life of a spy forever.  Both of her parents are employed by the Collective, and they spend their days trying to make the world a safer place by putting the brakes on gun runners, human traffickers, and other nefarious plots designed to shake up the world order.  Maggie has been cracking locks since she was a toddler, and she fully expects to follow in her parents’ spy footsteps, cracking locks and stealing away with evil doers’ plans to destroy peace and stability.  When she’s given her first solo assignment in NYC, she couldn’t be more thrilled.  All she has to do is befriend Jesse Oliver.  Jesse’s father runs a powerful publishing empire, and he’s planning to run an expose outing Maggie, her family, and the Collective.  If she can’t steal the documents that threaten to ruin her family, they will be in big, big danger.

Now, I’m not even going to wonder why the Collective, a super secret spy organization, is putting an inexperienced spy in charge of saving everyone’s bacon.  Instead, I allowed myself to get sucked into Maggie’s upbeat and very entertaining narrative.  She has all of the confidence in the world, and she is going to make everyone proud of her.  She is going to live up to her legacy and steal those damaging documents!  All she has to do is pretend to be friends with Jesse, and she’s in like Flynn!

Only that’s not how things work out.  As Maggie embraces her assignment, she’s determined to do everything in her power to be successful.  But as she makes friends with a social outcast, and gets caught up in going to school and hanging out with kids her own age, she starts to see that it’s more difficult to pretend that she ever had thought.  And after she and Jesse connect on a personal level, she realizes, to her dismay, that she’s not pretending anymore.  She really likes him, and she really likes her new friend Roux, and she knows her parents are never going to understand her lapse in judgment.  They’ve trained her better than that, haven’t they?

I loved Maggie’s anxiety about hurting her new friends.  Now that she actually has some, she is loathe to lose them.  She is lying to everyone, though, and it’s making her miserable.  Being a teen spy is just not as easy as it sounds!  She can’t let her parents know that she kissed Jesse (and that she’d do it again in a second), or that her friendship with Roux isn’t just for cover.  She is dealing with so many issues that she never considered, it’s no wonder she can’t get a decent night’s sleep!

Also Known As lived up to all of my expectations, and even exceeded them.  The pacing is spot on, the plot never lagged, and Maggie is a fun, likable character, even if she did need to be knocked down a peg or two.  Recommended for fans of Ally Carter.  Check back later today for your chance to win a copy of Also Known As!

Grade:  B/B+

Review copy provided by publisher

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21. Review: Me, Him, Them, & It by Caela Carter


Title: Me, Him, Them, and It

Author:  Caela Carter

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

ME is Evelyn Jones, 16, a valedictorian hopeful who’s been playing bad girl to piss off THEM, her cold, distant parents. HIM is Todd, Evelyn’s secret un-boyfriend, who she thought she was just using for sex – until she accidentally fell in love with him. But before Evelyn gets a chance to tell Todd how she feels, something much more important comes up. IT. IT is a fetus. Evelyn is pregnant – and when Todd turns his back on her, Evelyn has no idea who to turn to. Can a cheating father, a stiff, cold mother, a pissed-off BFF, and a (thankfully!) loving aunt with adopted girls of her own help Evelyn make the heart-wrenching decisions that follow?


Wow, at times Me, Him, Them, And It is a hard book to read.  Evelyn is a self-destructive teen, who is crying out for attention from her parents.  Because her home life is so dysfunctional, nothing she does makes them bat an eye.  Her mother is emotionally stunted, unable to communicate her feelings, and her father has been caught cheating, so he is struggling with guilt.  He leaves for a time, but then comes back home, and everything is changed.  The house is silent, nobody talks, and Evelyn is spiraling in a black depression she can’t escape.  She is like her mother; unable to adequately communicate her feelings, even to her best friend.  The words she longs to speak stick in her throat, trapped and suffocating her.  There are times I was so frustrated with her, because if she would only SAY something, anything, she wouldn’t have to feel as though she’s carrying the burden of the world on her shoulders.

Evelyn has set a high bar for herself.  She wants to be the class valedictorian, and  she wants to attend an Ivy League university.  It is so sad that neither of her parents has any clue how well she’s doing in school, or what her college ambitions are.  Then she decides to punish her parents.  She doesn’t want to be Good Evelyn anymore, and who can blame her.  She received no credit at all from her distant parents, and she desperately wants their attention.  Any kind of attention.  The sad thing is, even as she begins indulging in dangerous behavior, they still don’t acknowledge her desperate cries for help.  Then she discovers that the risks she has been taking have come home to roost.  She’s pregnant, and she doesn’t know what to do.

This book is all about consequences.  Evelyn has made a mistake, and now she has to face it.  She has to decide what to do about the bean growing in her belly. Todd, the father, turns his back on her, and no matter how hard she tries, she just can’t tell her BFF what’s wrong with her.  The only compassionate adult in her life is Mary, a counselor at the local planned parenthood.  Because she can’t have a discussion with her mother, Evelyn makes Mary tell her mom that she’s pregnant.  Ouch!

I didn’t want to like any of the characters in this book.  Everyone is so absorbed in their own drama and agendas that nobody seems to care about anybody else.  Evelyn irritated me at times, but then I stopped and realized that there were so many grown up decisions that she had to make, without much input from the adults in her life, and that she had every reason to be confused, angry, and hurt.  Overwhelmed.  Few of the adults in her life gave her any credit, yet they all demanded that she make a plan. Now.   It’s not even like she had a good example of what a real family should be like to base her decisions on.

When she’s sent to live with her Aunt Linda and her family in Chicago, Evelyn is understandably upset.  In her hour of need, her parents send her away.  Once she falls into a routine at Linda’s, though, she does start to feel like she belongs.  She slowly begins to learn how to express herself, though it is a painful and awkward process.  And just when I think she is beginning to heal, and she will make a rational decision about what to do about the bean that she blames for ruining her life, she makes yet another impulsive, life altering choice.  While the ending is upbeat, Me, Him, Them, and It had me feeling a bit out of sorts.  The magnitude of Evelyn’s problem is staggering and her rage at her parents is all-consuming.  The choice she must make will alter the lives of almost everyone she knows, and yet all of them leave her to make it on her own.  The thought of an angry, resentful, and scared teen making of decision like this on her own just left me depressed.

Grade:  B/B+

Check back later today for a chance to win a copy of Me, Him, Them, and It!

Review copy provided by publisher

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22. Review: The Assassin and the Pirate Lord by Sarah J Maas


Title: The Assassin and the Pirate Lord

Author: Sarah J Maas

Publisher: Bloomsbury



May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

On a remote island in a tropical sea, Celaena Sardothien, feared assassin, has come for retribution. She’s been sent by the Assassin’s Guild to collect on a debt they are owed by the Lord of the Pirates. But when Celaena learns that the agreed payment is not in money, but in slaves, her mission suddenly changes – and she will risk everything to right the wrong she’s been sent to bring about.


I was disappointed with this Throne of Glass prequel novella.  While the first chapter set a hard-edged tone for protagonist Celaena, the rest of the story failed to deliver on a tough, ruthless heroine.  I found it hard to believe that Celaena could ever possibly be strong enough to take over the leadership of the assassins guild.   She is a complete bad a$$ in the opening pages, threatening to take out a fellow assassin for failing to retrieve the corpse of her weapons master, and then she vows to get it herself, come hell or high water.  I loved that about her.  She oozed confidence in her skills and wasn’t afraid to tackle a dangerous, almost impossible task.   Right after that chapter, though, her character softens up, and she loses that ruthless streak that I found so intriguing.

Sent to negotiate with the pirate lord, Celaena is dismayed to learn that she and fellow assassin Sam are not there to collect payment for the untimely demise of some assassins, rumored to have been killed by pirates.  No, they are there to bring back a ship full of slaves.  Prior to discovering the real reason for their trip to the pirates’ island, Celaena comes across as an arrogant, pompous jerk.  Worse, she enjoys coming across as an arrogant, pompous jerk.  She likes the thought of people being afraid of her, with her mask and concealing garb, and this only made her seem like a bully to me.  She hasn’t earned the respect that would have made her truly intimidating.

Appalled at the thought of transporting her new charges into a life of slavery, she decides that she isn’t going to go along with the plan.  She is going to abort the mission. She is going to free the slaves, because most of them are spoils of war; they aren’t soldiers or warriors, they are just innocent people who are the victims of terrible circumstances.  Now, being a compassionate person myself, I don’t see anything wrong with wanting to rescue a ship full of innocent people.  What I didn’t get was that Celaena would actually set a plan into motion to do this.  She is supposed to be a harden killer, soon to be the leader of a group of hardened killers.  It is also her duty to carry out her mission.  Will she not complete a hit because she feels sorry for the target of the contract?  I must have been missing something with this storyline, because it didn’t make sense to me, in the context of Celaena’s profession.  Remember, she likes being frightening and intimidating.  Why would she act so out of character and save a bunch of strangers?

At one point during her covert operation to rescue the slaves, Celaena points out that she is not a murderer.  This struck me as an odd opinion for her to have, as money is accepted on her behalf for her to assassinate people, and she has ambitions to be the lea

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23. Bloomsbury editor on new imprint, Bloomsbury Circus



New on Tales From The Reading Room:

Bloomsbury editor Alexandra Pringle discusses the publisher's new literary imprint, Bloomsbury Circus. An excerpt:

When we look back in a year’s time I hope we will have a prize shortlist or two under our belts, a sense of having broken some established authors out of the ‘midlist’ as well as having launched some exciting new talent into the world.  What more could a publisher wish for?

You can follow Bloomsbury Circus on Twitter at @circusbooks as well as on Facebook. Here's the official announcement about the new imprint.

For those who want to find out more about Alexandra Pringle, here's the bio from the Bloomsbury UK site:


Editor-in-Chief of Bloomsbury Adult Books. She began her career in publishing at Virago Press in 1978 where she edited the famous Virago Modern Classics series. In 1984 she was made Editorial Director, later becoming part of the management team to steer Virago through their management buy-out from Cape, Chatto & Bodley Head. In 1990 she joined Hamish Hamilton as Editorial Director and four years later left publishing to become a literary agent with Toby Eady Associates. She joined Bloomsbury in 1999. Her list of authors includes Donna Tartt, Barbara Trapido, Richard Ford, Esther Freud, William Boyd, Ronan Bennett and Susanna Clarke. She is a Director of the Management Board, Bloomsbury Book Publishing Company Limited which also includes the Plc Directors.

0 Comments on Bloomsbury editor on new imprint, Bloomsbury Circus as of 4/26/2012 5:43:00 AM
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24. Review: Endure by Carrie Jones


Title: Endure

Author: Carrie Jones

Publisher:  Bloomsbury USA

ISBN: 978-1599905549


May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

It’s all-out war (and no-holds-barred romance) in the climactic conclusion to Carrie Jones’s bestselling series.

Zara is at the center of an impending apocalypse. True, she’s successfully rescued Nick from Valhalla, but it simply isn’t enough. Evil pixies are ravaging Bedford, and they need much more than one great warrior; they need an army. Zara isn’t sure what her role is anymore. She’s not just fighting for her friends; she’s also a pixie queen. And to align her team of pixies with the humans she loves will be one of her greatest battles yet. Especially since she can’t even reconcile her growing feelings for her pixie king . . .

Unexpected turns, surprising revelations, and one utterly satisfying romantic finale make Endure a thrilling end to this series of bestsellers.


I have mixed feelings about the final volume of Carrie Jones’ NEED series.  Endure is a page turner, but despite the rapid pacing, there was something missing for me.  The earlier books in the series introduced a scary new paranormal creature to me – Pixies.  Prior to reading Need, when I conjured pixies in my mind, they were little impish creatures, hardly worthy of concern.  This series charged that vision into a nightmare.  Large, powerful pixies, ruled by an all consuming need, turned out to be pretty frightening after all, especially when paired with an isolated, snowy landscape.  I loved the Maine setting, and the pixies,whispering enticingly from the shelter of the woods, freaked me out.

In Endure, Zara has sacrificed her humanity to save Nick from Valhalla, and here is my major dislike of this story.  Nick has turned his back on Zara, and now considers her a monster.  I just wanted him to get over himself!  Dude, Zara gave up everything to bring your sorry butt back to life, so the least you could have done was thank her.  Geez!  Instead, Nick puts on a pout, tells Zara he doesn’t know who she is anymore, and treats her like…well, a pixie.  Really?  This is how you display your love to the brave young woman who was willing to give up everything for you?  Who was willing to face her nightmare opponents head on, to save you? So disappointing!

I liked Astley better than Nick, and that surprised me.  Up until this volume, I loved Nick.  He is so bad ass.  He’s a werewolf, and until his visit to Valhalla, he would have done anything to protect Zara and his friends.  Just like she was willing to do for him.  Until all of that turned out to be a lie.  Then Zara was left with Astley, a kind and good pixie.  A kind and g

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25. Interview with Carrie Jones, Author of Endure

I’m delighted to have Carrie Jones, author of the NEED series, back for another round of interrogation.  NEED is one of the first YA paranormal series that I picked up, and it showed me how scary pixies can be.  I mean, really – pixies?!  Yes, pixies!  They are evil, and scary, and dangerous, and Carrie’s vision of pixies totally rocks out.  I am sad that one of my favorite series has come to an end, but I am looking forward to future projects from Carrie.  Let’s see what she has to say about Endure, the series finale for NEED.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about Endure?

[Carrie Jones] Endure is about a group of friends trying to save the world from evil pixies who are trying to start the Norse version of an apocalypse.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What was the most challenging aspect of writing this book?

[Carrie Jones] It was hard to let go. It’s the last book and I am terribly in love with all the characters – even the bad ones – so it was hard to stop writing, to stop revising, to let it go free. Hold on. I have to go get a tissue.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Zara?

[Carrie Jones] Kick-ass former pacifist

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are three things Nick would never have in his pocket?

[Carrie Jones] Ha! That’s such a funny question.

Strudel – far too gooey

Dog whistle – far too annoying

Wolfsbane – far too lethal

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is Zara’s single most prized possession?

[Carrie Jones] Her Amnesty International Membership pin. Woot! She may kill pixies, but she is still pro human rights.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?

[Carrie Jones] I am heavily influenced by music, by Doctor Who (Should I admit that?), and I tend to troll around the woods where I live, which is by a national park. Oh… and eavesdropping. I am always always eavesdropping. Someone will eventually notice and beat me up I am sure.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?

[Carrie Jones] My brain.

My fingers.


That’s really it. I will write anywhere on anything – even skin. My own skin! Do NOT imagine some horrible Hannibal Lechter scenario here.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?

[Carrie Jones] I wear mismatched socks and they are hard to knock off, but…. Hm…. I loved Sherman Alexie’s FIRST INDIAN ON THE MOON, which I just reread. I think my socks pretty much fell off on their own accord during that one. They sort of slinked really.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

[Carrie Jones] I’ve been reading since I was two, so I don’t actually remember. I am so sorry! I feel like such a failure for not being able to answer this. I read all the time when I was little because we were poor and lived in the woods and didn’t have cable. So, I would read absolutely everything. I think the books that made me the happiest back then were A WRINKLE IN TIME and embarrassingly enough this book called ILLUSIONS, which was about a reluctant messiah and very New Agey. I think it was because those books both made me believe that there could

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