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1. Micro Reviews: Demons, Race Horses, Assassins and Majors

And here’s another catch up post of long overdue mini reviews.

The Shadow Ellysium by Django Wexler

B / B+

This short novella served its purpose as a teaser to generate interest in the Shadow Campaigns series. I loaded The Thousand Names on my Kindle – now I just need time to read it!

 

To Win Her Favor by Tamera Alexander

B / B+

This inspirational romance caught my eye because of the horse on the cover.  Maggie is dismayed when her father arranges her marriage to Cullen, an Irish immigrant.  She’s reluctant to marry a complete stranger, and an Irishman at that.  She’s also fearful that he’ll object to her training her mare to run in an upcoming race. 

I enjoyed the development of the romance, as well as the details of daily life on a farm in post Civil War Tennessee.  The author doesn’t shy away from describing the prejudices and terrible treatment of the Irish and African Americans.  At first I had a hard time with Maggie because her thoughts and views mirrored those of her neighbors, but as she got to know Cullen and the farm hands working for them, she began to finally see them as individuals deserving respect.  And the horsey bits were entertaining. 

 

 

Hit! by Deliah S Dawson

C-

This just did not work for me. I can’t help but think that a huge banking conglomerate would have a better solution for deadweight borrowers than having them assassinated, or forcing them to be assassins. Meh, I didn’t care for HIT.

Mad About the Major by Elizabeth Boyle

B

Fun read with a Ferris Bueller’s Day Off vibe. Lady Arabella escapes the suffocating confines of her father’s estate to grab a small taste of freedom before she’s forced to marry a stodgy old bachelor. Her father is furious with her because a handsome stranger made a spectacle of her at a ball, and now he’s adamant that she marry before she’s completely ruined. She runs into the rakish Kingsley, the stranger from the ball, after he almost runs her down with his carriage. Arabella convinces him to accompany her on her day of freedom, arguing that he owes her three favors for his behavior at the ball. What follows is an enjoyable romp through London, as Arabella and Kingsley fall for each other during their unusual adventures. I really enjoyed this.

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2. Friday Feature: Trail of Secrets Cover Reveal


This week the cover of Trail of Secrets by Laura Wolfe was revealed. Check it out:

Trail of Secrets, by Laura Wolfe
Fire and Ice YA (Coming August/September 2015)

Spending three weeks of her summer at the elite Foxwoode Riding Academy in northern Michigan should have been one of the happiest times of sixteen year-old Brynlei’s life. But from the moment Brynlei arrives at Foxwoode, she can’t shake the feeling she’s being watched. Then she hears the story of a girl who vanished on a trail ride four years earlier. While the other girls laugh over the story of the dead girl who haunts Foxwoode, Brynlei senses that the girl—or her ghost—may be lurking in the shadows.

Brynlei’s quest to reveal the truth interferes with her plan to keep her head down and win Foxwoode’s coveted “Top Rider” award. To make things worse, someone discovers Brynlei’s search for answers and will go to any length to stop her. As Brynlei begins to unravel the facts surrounding the missing girl’s disappearance, she is faced with an impossible choice. Will she protect a valuable secret? Or save a life?

Age level:  13-18
www.AuthorLauraWolfe.com

Check out the trailer:


Want your YA, NA, or MG book featured on my blog? Contact me here and we'll set it up.

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3. Micro Reviews: Pop Stars, Cowgirls, Zombies, and Beasties!

 

I have been reading up a storm, but I’ve been lax on writing reviews.  Here’s a quick catch up post with short reviews.

Hello, I Love You by Katie M Stout

C-

This dragged for me, and I didn’t think there was any chemistry between Grace and Jason. I read this mainly for the setting, but the school might as well have been anywhere, which was a big disappointment. Cultural details were sparse and shallow.  I didn’t get a feeling that Grace was in a foreign country, and the fact that everyone she interacted with spoke English didn’t help make this unique or different. It also bugged me that Jason and his sister were the only Koreans to use Korean names.

 

The Surgeon and the Cowgirl by Heidi Hormel

C / C+

Both protagonists were all about “Me, me, me!” and it felt like it took forever for them to mature. I’m not completely convinced that they will ever effectively communicate, which made the ending rushed and not completely believable.

What Once We Feared by Carrie Ryan

Not enough here to even call this a short story. Lots of potential, but it fell flat because it felt so incomplete. This should have been called a teaser, not a short story.

 

Discount Armageddon by Seanan McGuire

B/ B-

Fun, quirky read that somehow combines ballroom dance with mythological critters.

Verity comes from a long line of cryptozoologists, but her true passion is for competitive dance. She’s spending a year in Manhattan to pursue her dance career, as well as to keep an eye on the beasties living in the big city. When Dominic, a member of Covenant, arrives in town, his kill all non-humans before even asking them how their day is going attitude gets on Very’s nerves. Both Dominic and the sudden appearance of a snake cult in the sewers under the city have made her life extremely complicated.

Though it got a little draggy in places, and was over the top in others, overall Discount Armageddon was a fun adventure.

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4. On Scaring Children

Hello from Julie! I am so excited to share a guest post today from Kali Wallace, a fellow 2016 debut author, whose YA horror novel, SHALLOW GRAVES, will be published by Katherine Tegen Books/HarperCollins in January 2016. I was so fascinated by everything Kali had to say about writing YA horror, I asked her to share her insights with all of us here at PubCrawl. I’m so happy she said yes! So here’s Kali, with everything you want to know about writing horror!

DSC01472The funny thing about writing a horror novel is that approximately 87% of the people you meet will tell you to your face they don’t want to read it.

Oh, there’s rarely anything malicious in this declaration. Sure, there are always a few “I only read serious books about serious topics” types with tiny minds who can’t fathom how a book about horror things can also be about other things, but nobody cares what they think. I ignore them.

For the most part the reaction from future non-readers is more along the lines of, “Oh, I don’t know if I could read that. It sounds–” And this added in an apologetic, almost conspiratorial tone, as though imparting a terrible secret from which I could have been protected, had circumstances differed: “–too upsetting.”

*

I fell into writing horror backwards, much the same way the unwary first-act hanger-on in a horror movie falls Shallow Graves by Kali Wallacebackwards into a vat of mysterious glugging liquid the remaining cast will assure themselves is simply oddly chunky water until the third act. I don’t really think of myself as a horror writer, because I write all kinds of other things too, some (a few) of which are not (very) horrifying at all (mostly). But I did write a horror novel.

It happened like this. One time I went to a garage sale and found ninety-nine Stephen King paperbacks on sale for a penny each, so I borrowed a crinkled dollar bill from my mom, took the books home, and retreated to a dark corner of my bedroom where I spent three weeks constructing a paper nest using only the shredded pages of Misery and my own spittle, and I lived there for five years, eating nothing but peanut butter sandwiches and anxiety. When I emerged I could never write anything again without ominous symbolic settings and existential dread and rotting corpses.

Or maybe it happened like this. When I wrote my first novel, I didn’t sit down at my computer and think, “I want to scare somebody’s pants off today!” I sat down and I thought:

  1. wouldn’t it be funny if monsters were teenagers
  2. i mean like really angsty teenagers the kind who feel bad a lot
  3. and they’re gross monsters not sexy monsters nobody likes them
  4. SPOOKY STUFF
  5. everybody has feelings
  6. feelings
  7. feeeeeeeeeeeeeelings
  8. dead things
  9. feelings

One of those anecdotes is the 100% true story of how I accidentally wrote a YA horror novel.

*

There are a thousand different kinds of horror stories, but the kind I wrote is a contemporary teen fantasy story covered with blood. It’s all monsters and dark magic and dark evil monster magic and teenagers encountering and/or using dark evil monster magic. It’s full of death and pain and terrible things happening. Claws, too. There are claws. Did I mention the blood? It is a bit scary in places–at least, I hope it is. It would be disappointing if I deployed that many carefully chosen adjectives and it didn’t give people at least a bit of a spine-tingle.

It isn’t too upsetting as an accidental by-product, the unintended consequence of a writer meddling with forces she cannot control. Being upsetting is, in fact, the entire point. I wrote it that way on purpose. I have my reasons, and it’s not entirely because I am a ravenous creature of shadow and darkness who survives by consuming the nightmares of my young readers. Not entirely.

There’s an oft-misquoted-but-rarely-quoted-correctly passage about fairy tales from English writer G.K. Chesterton (from Tremendous Trifles, 1909):

“Fairy tales, then, are not responsible for producing in children fear, or any of the shapes of fear; fairy tales do not give the child the idea of the evil or the ugly; that is in the child already, because it is in the world already. Fairy tales do not give the child his first idea of bogey. What fairy tales give the child is his first clear idea of the possible defeat of bogey. The baby has known the dragon intimately ever since he had an imagination. What the fairy tale provides for him is a St. George to kill the dragon.”

We know this to be true, no matter how many misguided parents and school boards try to deny it: Children and teenagers don’t need books to tell them that there is evil in the world. They know that before they crack open any book. Children and teenagers don’t need books to tell them the world is scary and unfair and that bad things happen all the time. They already know all of this. There are adults in their lives who wish them harm. Kids know this. There are monsters who wear friendly faces and are enabled by the people and institutions who ought to be protecting the helpless instead. They know.

Children and teenagers aren’t separate from the world. They are part of the world, right in the middle of it, right in the middle of all the violence and unfairness and cruelty it has to offer. For young readers, just like adult readers, stories can be both an escape from the world and a way of connecting to and understanding the world, both a shield and a lens, often at the same time.

That’s no small thing. It is the exact opposite of a small thing. It is the entire reason literature exists, and it isn’t less true or less important because the intended audience is under eighteen. I would even argue–if anybody ever wanted to argue with me about this, which nobody does–that it is even more true and more important for children’s and young adult literature. You never know who is going to pick up your stories and find something that resonates, and you never know what it will mean to them, and you never know if that reader on that particular day will need the escape or the understanding or both.

Okay, let’s be honest: It’s usually both.

*

I can’t write stories so steeped in the grit and struggle of realism they are indistinguishable from real life. I also can’t write stories that imagine life to be fantasies of summer kisses and bosom friendships. Those are all perfectly wonderful types of stories, and I love to read them and am thankful they exist in the world, but they are stories for other people to write.

Me, well, I can do ominous thunderstorms and branches scraping on dark windows. I can do the metallic taste of fear at the back of the throat. I can do people who aren’t really people and monsters who aren’t really monsters. I’m really good at describing spooky graveyards. In fact that’s my #1 life skill, ranked even higher than my formidable talent at making up silly nicknames for cats: describing spooky graveyards.

Blood and guts, monsters and magic, murderers under the floorboards and ghosts in the walls, shocking scares and sleepless nights–the trappings of horror are what makes it vivid, visceral, and oh so very fun, but it is, after all, spectacle. It’s stage-setting strung up around what really matters: a story about life and death. A story that offers a spark of life in a world where life is unwelcome and makes you think, “Oh. Oh. Everything is terrible. There is no hope. What now? What the hell do we even do now?”

Horror stories, when done well, aren’t powerful because life is cheap, but because life is precious. And because life is precious, we get carried right along when characters faced with monsters and mayhem have to fight for it, for themselves and their families and maybe people they’ve never met, against horrors and nightmares and impossible odds, as they feel fear and despair and hope and anger and grief and every human emotion in between. The fantasy is in the details, but the realism is in the emotion, and it’s the emotional realism that leaves a mark long after the story is over.

Stories are how we make sense of the world, and the world is terrible and wonderful, frightening and hopeful, beautiful and ugly, and it is, alas, full of monsters. Lucky for us, it’s also full of people who know, or want to believe, even if they aren’t quite convinced, that monsters can be faced and fought and sometimes, maybe, maybe, they can also be defeated.

Kali, thank you so much for being our guest here today on PubCrawl! Readers, now it’s your turn–do you like to read horror? Do you like to write scary stories? Please share your thoughts in the comments!

For most of her life Kali Wallace was going to be a scientist when she grew up. She studied geology in college, partly because she could get course credit for hiking and camping, and eventually earned a PhD in geophysics. Only after she had her shiny new doctorate in hand did she admit that she loved inventing imaginary worlds as much as she liked exploring the real one. Her short fiction has appeared in Clarkesworld, F&SF, Asimov’s, Lightspeed, and Tor.com. She was born in Colorado and spent most of her life there, but now lives in southern California. Shallow Graves, her first novel, will be published by Katherine Tegen Books/HarperCollins in January 2016.

You can visit Kali on her website, follow her on Twitter, and add SHALLOW GRAVES on GoodReads!

 

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5. Monday Mishmash 7/27/15


Happy Monday! Monday Mishmash is a weekly meme dedicated to sharing what's on your mind. Feel free to grab the button and post your own Mishmash.

Here's what's on my mind today:
  1. I'm the New Acquisitions Editor For Leap Books Seek  In case you missed my announcement last week, I'm the new acquisitions editor for Leap Books' middle grade line, Seek. I'm so happy about this. I've also decided to open to unagented submissions for a brief time in August, so stay tuned for that announcement.
  2. Our Little Secret Has a Cover  I got to see the cover for Our Little Secret (releasing September 15 through Limitless Publishing). I'm SO happy with it. Can't wait to share it soon.
  3. Pepe Maurice Pierre, Poodle Extraordinaire is Now Available!  You can grab your copy of my newest picture book here
  4. Falling For You is Available and FREE!  My secret Ashelyn Drake title isn't a secret anymore, and it's doing really well on Amazon. Check this out. 
  5. Signing at Books-A-Million  I want to thank everyone who came out to see me this past Saturday for my book signing. I had an amazing time and got to see returning fans, which is always great.
That's it for me. What's on your mind today?

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6. Friday Feature: A Whispered Darkness



When Claire Mallory's father leaves, her mom moves them to a new town and into a dilapidated Victorian house. 

The old house creaks and whistles, and smells well -- like it's been abandoned for years. But as the nights grow longer and the shadows take on substance, Claire wonders if the strange sounds and occurrences might be more than the house showing its age. 

Just as things start to pick up in Claire's love life, her mother becomes possessed. In an attempt to save her mother and their new home, Claire enlists the help of two boys, each of whom is interested in Claire for different reasons. As she chooses one boy over the other, something dangerous is unleashed, and the spirits make their move. 

They aren’t content to moan and scream inside Claire’s house, or even control her mom. They want a taste of freedom, and she’s their key to getting it. But is Claire strong enough to fight off the evil spirits, or will they claim her and her mom before it's all over?


Want your YA, NA, or MG book featured on my blog? Contact me here and we'll set it up.

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7. 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.

TrollhuntersIll01.jpg
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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

0 Comments on Trollhunters Giveaway as of 1/1/1900
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8. Monday Mishmash 7/20/15


Happy Monday! Monday Mishmash is a weekly meme dedicated to sharing what's on your mind. Feel free to grab the button and post your own Mishmash.

Here's what's on my mind today:
  1. Signing at Books-A-Million  I'll be at Books-A-Million in the Stroud Mall in Stroudsburg, PA on Saturday from noon to 3:00 p.m. If you're in the area, come see me. I'll be signing copies of The Monster Within and The Darkness Within.
  2. News!  I'm most likely going to have news to share with you this week. Stay tuned!
  3. Pepe Maurice Pierre, Poodle Extraordinaire  I got to see the cover and illustrations for my upcoming picture book, Pepe Maurice Pierre, Poodle Extraordinaire this past weekend. Wow! I was blown away. I can't wait to share this book with you soon. (My street team, Kelly's Coven, has already seen it.)
  4. Our Little Secret  I've been busy with edits for my upcoming Ashelyn Drake title, Our Little Secret. I love this story and can't wait for the release, which is happening in September! Tomorrow, I'll be sharing the blurb and tag line all over social media, so stay tuned for that.
  5. Hot Pink in the City Cover Reveal  Check out the cover of Medeia Sharif's upcoming YA title, Hot Pink in the City:
    HOT PINK IN THE CITY, Prizm Books, 2015
Release date: August 19, 2015

Asma Bashir wants two things: a summer fling and her favorite '80s songs. During a trip to New York City to stay with relatives, she messes up in her pursuit of both. She loses track of the hunk she met on her airplane ride, and she does the most terrible thing she could possibly do to her strict uncle…ruin his most prized possession, a rare cassette tape. A wild goose chase around Manhattan and Brooklyn to find a replacement tape yields many adventures—blackmail, theft, a chance to be a TV star, and so much more. Amid all this turmoil, Asma just might be able to find her crush in the busiest, most exciting city in the world.

Find Medeia – YA and MG Author

Blog   |   Twitter   |   Goodreads   |   Instagram   |   Amazon

That's it for me. What's on your mind today?

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9. Friday Feature: Avian



Avian Blurb:
What kind of power is lurking inside him?

After a year of training to become a dragonrider, Jaevid Broadfeather has been sent home to rest during a three-month interlude. But when he returns to find the king drake has chosen Beckah Derrick as his new rider, Jaevid realizes something big is about to happen. Every fiber of his being is pushed to the breaking point as Jaevid battles through his avian year, preparing for the final graduation test of the battle scenario. But there is more standing in his way than a few pushups and fancy sword moves.

Jaevid must face a new fear as he is tormented by a gruesome nightmare of a mysterious gray elf warrior murdering the royal family of Maldobar. It seems obvious to him that this is some kind of message about how the war started long ago—until Felix assures him the king is very much alive. With his strange powers growing stronger by the day, and that violent dream replaying in his mind every night, Jaevid no longer wonders if he will pass his avian year or not . . . he wonders if he will even survive it.

The truth will soon be set loose.


Buy Links:

FLEDGLING: http://www.amazon.com/Fledgling-The-Dragonrider-Chronicles-Volume/dp/1939765684

AVIAN: http://www.amazon.com/Avian-Dragonrider-Chronicles-Nicole-Conway/dp/1939765714

Nicole is sharing her playlist for book three in the series with us all today, so please welcome her.

My TRAITOR Playlist

I have to have music when I write. It is a must. It’s not that I necessarily am listening to it, but rather that it blocks out everything else going on around me. It drives my husband bonkers because I will listen to the same song on repeat for hours without even realizing it. Although, there are some songs that inspire me more than others, so here is a list of the songs I listened to while working on the next installment of the Dragonrider Chronicles, TRAITOR:

I Will Show You by From Ashes to New
Shadows by Red
Shatter Me (feat. Lzzy Hale) by Lindsey Stirling
Shut Up and Dance by Walk the Moon
Soldiers by Otherwise
Bad Company by Five Finger Death Punch
Good Feeling by Flo Rida
Panama by Van Halen
Who I Am by Blanca
Juke Box Hero by Foreigner
Centuries by Fallout Boy
… and pretty much every track on the Pacific Rim and Tron Soundtrack.


Want your YA, NA, or MG book featured on my blog? Contact me here and we'll set it up.

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10. Why You Should Be Reading YA Author, Derek Landy’s, Books

If you haven’t read any books by YA author, Derek Landy, then you’re missing out. He’s written a whole conglomeration of books centred around a living skeleton (it’s awesome, trust me) and now his latest book Demon Road is releasing in August. Which is exciting. Are you excited? I AM EXCITED. But in case you’re staring at […]

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11. Review: Every Breath by Ellie Marney

I absolutely loved and adored Every Breath by Ellie Marney. I DID! I put off reading it for a few stupid reasons and yes I am ashamed. But I was nervous to try it because: I totally adore Sherlock Holmes and I didn’t want to read a bad retelling, The cover is not pretty. I’m […]

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12. Friday Feature: Travelers by Meradeth Houston Cover Reveal


Today, I'm excited to share the cover of Travelers by Meradeth Houston! It's gorgeous!


Sienna Crenshaw knows the rules: 1) no time traveling beyond your natural lifetime, 2) no screwing with death, and 3) no changing the past. Ever. Sienna doesn’t love being stuck in the present, but she’s not the type to break the rules. That is, she wasn’t the type until her best friend broke every one of those rules to keep Henry, her twin brother and Sienna’s ex-boyfriend, alive.

Suddenly, Sienna is caught in an unfamiliar reality. The upside? Henry is still alive. The downside? Sienna’s old life, including the people in it, has been erased. Now, Sienna and Henry must untangle the giant knot in time, or her parents and all the rest of the Travelers, will be lost forever. One problem: the only way to be successful is for Henry to die.

Release Date: August 4th, 2015

About Meradeth:

I’ve never been a big fan of talking about myself, but if you really want to know, here are some random tidbits about me:

I'm a California girl. This generally means I talk too fast and use "like" a lot. Since I now live in Montana, sometimes this is a problem.

I have my doctorate in molecular anthropology. Translation: I sequence dead people's DNA and spend a whole lot of time in a lab, which I love.

I've been writing since I was 11 years old. It's my hobby, my passion, and I'm so happy to get to share my work!

My other passion is teaching. There's nothing more fun than getting a classroom of college kids fired up about anthropology! This is probably a good thing, since my day job requires me to teach at the local university.

If I could have a super-power, it would totally be flying. Which is a little strange, because I'm terrified of heights.


Find Meradeth Houston online at: www.MeradethHouston.com

FacebookTwitterInstagramTumblrAmazonGoodreads, and of course her blog!

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13. 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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14. Review: All Fall Down (Embassy Row #1) by Ally Carter

I am quite pleased with Ally Carter‘s latest book All Fall Down. I had high expectations since her NYT bestselling series, Gallagher Girls, is such an excellently hilarious series, but All Fall Down definitely stands on it’s own! It features Grace, snarky and bitter, and granddaughter of a powerful ambassador. Oh and she’s looking for her mother’s […]

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15. Friday Feature: My Tethered Soul





It’s been months since Zadie faced her sister’s Reaper, months during which she’s been under her mentor’s magical protection. But now that she’s turning seventeen, that protection is about to run out.

When dark forces lure Zadie to wander at night, she’s manipulated into committing unspeakable acts. With her friends and family at risk, Zadie must try to use her powers to break free from the Reaper’s grasp, or surrender to the Reaper’s Rite, which can only lead to death.

Excerpt:

Swinging the door open, I held my breath. A few wire hangers hung on a rod, but otherwise it was empty.
Gavin stood and tapped his foot on the floor. “This floorboard is loose. Maybe there’s something under here. You know, like in The Tell-Tale Heart?”
I glanced at him over my shoulder. “Great, Gavin. That’s just what I need: a little scare to get me motivated.”
He let out a small laugh as he bent down to inspect the floorboard. While he prodded at it, I turned my attention back to the closet. It was deeper than mine was. More square than rectangular. Big enough to fit a large desk in. Stepping into the closet, I found a door to the right. Inside the closet.
That’s a strange place for a door.
This door didn’t have a knob, but a rotating handle. I ran my hand over the smooth metal of the handle, working up the courage to press down on it. The closet lit up as lighting flashed in the sky. I needed to find out what was behind the door, but I couldn’t seem to move my hand.
Just open it, Zadie. Swallowing my fear, I pressed the handle down and pulled on the door.
When my eyes adjusted to the lack of light, a set of stairs stood before me. Up to an attic, I presumed. Dull drywall flanked it, and a window at the top of the stairs let in a small amount of light.
I was about to turn around and get Gavin when another flash of lightning lit up the stairwell. Something glinted in the short blaze of light. A small, thin item halfway up the stairs.
My bracelet.
Was I here? I must have been. Why else would the bracelet be on the floor? What did I do here? Up here in the attic?
“Zadie?” Gavin called.
For a moment, I couldn’t speak. Swallowing hard, I forced sound to break free from my throat. “Just a second.”
“Where are you?”
Instead of answering him, I climbed the first step, focused on the bracelet. Was that what it really was? Or was my mind playing tricks on me again? The second my foot grazed the next step, the door slammed shut behind me.
“Zadie!” Gavin’s voice was muffled, and the handle jiggled. But the door remained closed.
I flew to the door, fighting with the handle and trying not to hyperventilate. Lightning flashed through the window above me. I banged on the door as Gavin called my name. And then, all at once, the temperature dropped.
My breath came out in a frosty mist. I spun and backed up against the door, my eyes searching. But the storm outside played with my senses. My thumb moved over my phone, and I held it up to light the stairwell. But as the next crash of thunder vibrated through the house, I started and dropped my phone.
The light from the window disappeared. Plunged into darkness, I crouched down and searched for my phone. Something moved at the top of the stairs.
It’s here.

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16. Martha Brockenbrough Summer Bulletin

As writers and illustrators of children’s books, we have the cutest fantasies. Who else dreams that their work will someday be decorated by a sticker?

And then there’s the conference fantasy, where the agent or editor of your dreams holds your manuscript overhead and says, “This is brilliant!” and she just happens to have a contract in her pocket, which you sign on the spot. It’s almost better than the sticker.

But here’s the thing. People are sometimes asked to send off stories or art, and there are similarly wonderful career-transforming moments. Usually, though, nothing quite so dramatic happens.

And yet… conferences are magic. Truly. Every picture book I’ve ever sold has come directly from my time at an SCBWI conference, specifically the one in Los Angeles. I’ve sold four picture books and have interest in a fifth; each one sprang from an idea or conversation I had at that summer conference, starting with my first one in 2008.

My future editor, Arthur A. Levine, had been in Seattle that spring for a conference, and through a happy accident of seating, we’d chatted through the evening, and he invited me to submit something to him someday. At the time, I was writing an epic novel about a pirate in part because I’d given up on picture books, and in part because, well, I can’t really remember why, which was ultimately the problem with that novel.

At our local spring conference, Arthur had offered sage advice from his then four-year-old son. “When in doubt, write about dinosaurs.” At the time, this didn’t strike me as anything other than adorable. (Who was I to write about dinosaurs, anyway? At the time, I was merely thirty-seven.)

When registration opened for the summer conference in Los Angeles, I really wanted to go. But I couldn’t. We had a family reunion that weekend. And what kind of jerk puts anything in front of family? As it turns out, I am that kind of jerk.

In Los Angeles, Arthur reassured us about the picture book market, which at the time was feeling kind of battered. On the flight home, I resolved to send him a thank-you note for being so encouraging. I looked out the window, and I thought about dinosaurs, and specifically their teeth, and even more fantastically, about who might love their teeth most of all.

Arthur ended up publishing the answer to that question—The Dinosaur Tooth Fairy—five years later. A year or two after I sold The DTF, I mentioned to Arthur at another Los Angeles conference a letter I’d written to my daughter when she asked for the truth about Santa. He said he thought it sounded like a picture book as well. A dear friend I’d met at the Los Angeles conference, Samantha Berger, gave me an idea for how it might be done. I wrote it. Arthur bought it.

Last summer, Samantha and I came up with an idea at the conference while we were eating pizza poolside. So far that has turned into a two picture book deal with Arthur.

These aren’t the sort of things you can predict when you’re thinking about going to a conference. The standard fantasy—that someone might love your work and buy it on the spot—pales in comparison to what really can happen. You go to these conferences and meet people who inspire you. You make friends. You hear words you didn’t know you needed to hear, things that make you laugh and cry, things that feed your mind in ways your everyday routine might not. All of this becomes the fuel of story.

I’d never thought to dream about what comes from inspiration and connection and friendship. And yet this combination is so much better than any contract, and why I’ll go to every SCBWI conference I can.

Fantasies are great and all. But real life? It’s better.

 

Martha Brockenbrough is the author of the YA novels The Game of Love and Death and Devine Intervention, and The Dinosaur Tooth Fairy, a picture book. Both are with Arthur A. Levine at Scholastic, as is her forthcoming picture book, Love, Santa, as well as two Bigfoot picture books written jointly with Samantha Berger. Martha also wrote the nonfiction middle grade Finding Bigfoot for Feiwel & Friends. In addition to her work on SCBWI's Team Blog, she is the founder of National Grammar Day and author of Things That Make Us [Sic]. Visit www.marthabrockenbrough.squarespace.com and on Twitter @mbrockenbrough.

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17. The Best of Australian YA

I’m an avid chewer of books but, surprisingly, I don’t read a lot of literature from my own country. Oh horror! Gasp with me! It’s an abominable shame. The reason for this is, a) I read mostly YA, b) most famous YA books are by American authors, and c) it seems much easier to get […]

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18. Monday Mishmash 6/29/15


Happy Monday! Monday Mishmash is a weekly meme dedicated to sharing what's on your mind. Feel free to grab the button and post your own Mishmash.

Here's what's on my mind today:
  1. Signing at Books-A-Million  I'll be at Books-A-Million in the Stroud Mall (Stroudsburg, PA) this Saturday (July 4th) from noon until 3:00 p.m. signing copies of The Monster Within and The Darkness Within. If you're in the area, come see me.
  2. Fading Into the Shadows Edits  I'm getting edits today for my 2016 title Fading Into the Shadows. I can't wait to dive back into this book.
  3. Fading Into the Shadows Cover  So, my cover is finalized and can I just say WOW? It's awesome guys. The cover reveal probably won't be until September, but I'll keep you posted.
  4. Beth Fred's Blurb Writing Class  Beth is teaching The Art of Blurb Writing again. This time the course will run from July 6 to July 24. For details and to sign up, click here.
  5. Secret Goodness in the Works  I have some things up my sleeve that I'll be sharing soon. Stay tuned.
That's it for me. What's on your mind today?

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19. Review: Me And Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews

I’m the kind of bookworm that subscribes to “READ THE BOOK FIRST” when it comes to movie adaptions. Do I love movie adaptions? Oh definitely yes. But the original is first priority. So I had to read Me And Earl, and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews before the movie hit cinemas (which, actually, was just yesterday). The thing […]

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20. Monday Mishmash 6/15/15


Happy Monday! Monday Mishmash is a weekly meme dedicated to sharing what's on your mind. Feel free to grab the button and post your own Mishmash.

Here's what's on my mind today:
  1. News!  Okay, I know I've been hinting at news, and I'm seriously bursting to share. I did tell my street team, Kelly's Coven, because they get to know everything first. Ah! I'm so hoping to be able to tell you all this week or next at the latest.
  2. Grandfather's 94th Birthday  Over the weekend, I went to see my grandfather to celebrate his 94th birthday. He really is an amazing man, who served in WWII and is a very compassionate person. It was great to be there with him on his birthday.
  3. Editing  I'm editing for clients again this week. :)
  4. Revising a Secret Project  I have a secret project in the works, and I'm finishing up revisions before sending it to a trusted beta reader.
  5. Summer Break!  My daughter finished second grade last Thursday. This is her first full week of summer vacation. We have big plans to swim, play tennis, play baseball, read, and of course play with Monster High dolls.
That's it for me. What's on your mind today?

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21. 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.
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22. Friday Feature: I Heart Robot




Sixteen-year-old Tyri wants to be a musician and wants to be with someone who won't belittle her musical aspirations.


Q-I-99 aka 'Quinn' lives in a scrap metal sanctuary with other rogue droids. While some use violence to make their voices heard, demanding equal rights for AI enhanced robots, Quinn just wants a moment on stage with his violin to show the humans that androids like him have more to offer than their processing power.

Tyri and Quinn's worlds collide when they're accepted by the Baldur Junior Philharmonic Orchestra. As the rift between robots and humans deepens, Tyri and Quinn's love of music brings them closer together, making Tyri question where her loyalties lie and Quinn question his place in the world. With the city on the brink of civil war, Tyri and Quinn make a shocking discovery that turns their world inside out. Will their passion for music be enough to hold them together while everything else crumbles down around them, or will the truth of who they are tear them apart?



Praise for I Heart Robot:

"The tension between the groups, the obvious attraction between the main characters, the ticking time bomb of Quinn’s real identity and the secrets surrounding Tyri’s birth makes for compelling reading. The world building was exceptional and the characters well developed."~ The Australia Times Books






Suzanne is a tattooed storyteller from South Africa. She currently lives in Sweden and is busy making friends with the ghosts of her Viking ancestors. Although she has a Master’s degree in music, Suzanne prefers conjuring strange worlds and creating quirky characters. When she grows up, she wants to be an elf – until then, she spends her time (when not writing) wall climbing, buying far too many books, and entertaining her shiba inu, Lego.

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23. Review: When You Leave by Monica Ropal

Okay, wow, this book took me by surprise. It did look delicious, of course (I’m notorious for picking up books based on extreme cover love) and the promise of muuuurder (I’m normal, I swear) added an extra hook. But the first 30% was so much teen angst, cheating relationships, lying, and general meanness all round that […]

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24. Friday Feature: Nobody's Goddess




In a village of masked men, magic compels each man to love only one woman and to follow the commands of his “goddess” without question. A woman may reject the only man who will love her if she pleases, but she will be alone forever. And a man must stay masked until his goddess returns his love—and if she can’t or won’t, he remains masked forever.

Seventeen-year-old Noll isn't in the mood to celebrate. Her childhood friends have paired off and her closest companion, Jurij, found his goddess in Noll’s own sister. Desperate to find a way to break this ancient spell, Noll instead discovers why no man has ever chosen her.

Thus begins a dangerous game between the choice of woman versus the magic of man. And the stakes are no less than freedom and happiness, life and death—and neither is willing to lose.

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25. How Losing Your Purse Can Improve Your Writing

If you’ve ever visited the DEPARTURES area of the airport, you probably know that it is not exactly an oasis of tranquility. There are cars trying to park; cars trying to double park, cars trying to squeeze out of where they’ve double-parked, orange cones, orange vests, whistles, and general chaos.

I was being dropped off at Burbank Bob Hope Airport by my mom and dad, 74 and 80 respectively, and wanted to debark as efficiently as possible so they could be on their way. Adjusting my new felt hat, I strapped my laptop bag across my chest, hauled out my suitcase, and hugged my parents a quick goodbye.

Approaching the Southwest counter, I reached for my purse.

And felt air.

My stomach dropped to my knees. I had made a big mistake. I left my purse in my parents’ car.

Stacey's troublesome vessel of all things crucial, circa 2004, Anthropologie.

Stacey’s troublesome vessel of all things crucial, circa 2004, Anthropologie.

Frantically, I searched my laptop bag, hoping I had jammed it in without realizing. But, no. My purse was in the carpool lane of the Five freeway, headed down to the OC. How the heck was I getting on a plane without my ID?

I couldn’t make a phone call, as I didn’t have a cell phone. I couldn’t even use a pay phone, as I had no money. (And btw, the sudden absence of money tends to amplify one’s hunger pains).

I could ask someone to loan me change, but would they think I was a panhandler? And my hat, which I thought was stylish, suddenly cast a shadow of suspicion upon me. Suspicious people always wear hats.

I might have started to hyperventilate. My flight was leaving in an hour.

A petite Japanese security guard asked if everything was alright.

“I left my purse in my parents’ car!” I blubbered.

She tsked her tongue, but then fished out a dollar’s worth in coins so I could use a payphone. After profusely thanking her, I dropped two quarters into the first phone. A metallic crunching and gargling followed, which I believe was the sound of the phone eating my change.

Trying not to panic, I moved onto the next phone. This time, the call went through.

But no one picked up. Remember how I mentioned the age of my parents? Well, with old age comes certain …realities, such as, hearing loss. Mom’s voicemail answered, but that didn’t help me because even if she heard the ding of voicemail, she doesn’t know how to check it (another age-related reality). I tried calling my husband collect, like, a billion times. But it turns out, since his company pays for his cell phone, its collect call feature is disabled.

I explained my situation to Southwest. I must have looked honest, as they issued me the ticket, with the caution that security still might refuse me. Shame-faced, I stepped to the security counter and tried to explain why I wasn’t carrying my ID.

He frowned, and I grew smaller. “Where do you work?”

“At home. I mean, I’m self-employed.”

Another frown, another inch shorter. “Occupation?”

“Writer.”

Another frown, this one with an upward flick of his pupils that says, isn’t everyone?

If only I had one of my books on me. I could show him my author picture.

Then it occurred to me, I could show him my author website.

After perusing the site, then conducting a thorough search of myself and my luggage, security finally did let me through.

Stephanie: When Stacey first told me this story, I felt horrible. But since I’m a teacher, I also thought this would make an awesome writing lesson.

The thing I loved about this story (from a writing perspective, because obviously I felt terrible that my friend went through so much stress) was that everything that could go wrong did go wrong. As Stacey said, everyone knows you can’t get on a plane without an ID. And this situation was so much worse because on top of not having her ID:

The hat of suspicion and lawlessness.

The hat of suspicion and lawlessness.

  1. Stacey did not have her phone.
  2. Or money.
  3. The only people who could help her (Stacey’s parents) were impaired, and therefore unable to come to her rescue.
  4. She was hungry.
  5. Her husband wasn’t answering the phone.
  6. On top of not having an ID, she was also wearing a hat, which made her highly suspicious to airport personnel.
  7. And the clock was rapidly ticking. Stacey only had one hour.

Now, imagine you’re writing a character and you’ve put them in this same situation. It could be really tempting to have another character (maybe the husband) make a miraculous appearance and save the day. Perhaps this husband calls in a favor with the head of security. And not only does your character get onto the plane, but they are upgraded to first class and handed a glass of champagne.

Unfortunately that did not happen to Stacey. But I believe what happened was even better. Stacey used her smarts to save herself, by directing the security to her author website, where her photo was able to confirm her identity.

Now if Stacey were a character, not only would readers think, wow this woman is smart! They would also know a little more about her character, because not only did this action save the day, it revealed more about her background, mainly, her profession.

People are always saying, put your characters in the worst situations possible, but then, too often, characters don’t use their intelligence to get out of those miserable scenarios. Because of this, writers often miss great opportunities to deepen their characters, and make their stories richer.

Think about whatever story you’re working on. Are there any scenes where you can pile on more conflicts? Are there scenes where you can show off your character’s strengths, instead of having someone else save the day?

Also, if any of you have stories similar to Stacey’s, we’d love to hear them:

 

 

 

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