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This series is proof that even if the first volume doesn’t work for you, maybe the rest will. I couldn’t get through The Farm – I’m not sure why. I don’t know if I just wasn’t in the mood, or the pacing left me feeling impatient, or if it was just the wrong day of the week to start reading it. I set it aside and moved on, forgetting about it, until I was given the opportunity to review The Lair. Now there was a book I couldn’t put down!
I really enjoyed creepy darkness of Emily McKay’s nightmarish world. A virus has ravaged America, turning its victims into mindless, violent monsters with a never-ending craving for blood. To stave off the annihilation of humans, young Americans have been quarantined onto Farms, their blood collected and fed to the starving Ticks. After forming an uneasy alliance with a vampire, Lily and Carter, two teens, are determined to save the world. Their little rebellion faces one challenge after another, and Lily lies in a coma at the end of The Lair, victim to the virus.
The Vault picks up right where The Lair left off. Carter is desperate to obtain the cure for virus, which Sebastian claimed is hidden in his territory. Carter and Mel, Lily’s twin sister, can’t enter the lab where they think the cure is secured because of the security measures the vampire left in place to guard his domain. They need Sebastian, or at least parts of Sebastian, to get inside. The problem? Mel left Sebastian staked to the ground after the battle with Roberto. While she goes back to see if he’s still alive or salvageable, Carter heads to Sabrina’s territory. The cruel vampire is rumored to have some vials of the cure, and a desperate Carter will do anything to get his hands on them if it means saving Lily’s life.
The Vault kept me on the edge of my seat as Mel and Carter attempt to save Lily from turning into a monster. Told from all three characters’ POV, they all struggle to survive in their new deadly world. Lily wakes from her coma, and she knows that it won’t be long before she turns into a Tick. She can already feel her humanity and her reasoning skills slipping away. Together with Marcus, Ely’s brother, she heads for a Farm, where she thinks she’ll find safety and medical assistance. I enjoyed her POV the most, and was a bit disappointed when her voice went silent for part of the book. I would have loved a first hand account of her experiences, instead of relying on Carter to narrate that part of the story.
There’s a lot of action in The Vault, which made it a rollercoaster read. My biggest nit-picks? Sabrina was such a one-dimensional character I had a hard time taking her seriously, and Carter got a little (okay, a LOT whiny) near the end. I just didn’t have the patience to deal with his sudden hang-ups about his relationship with Lily. They both survived the end of the world, for goodness sake! Just cherish the love that somehow flourished amid so much death! Lily did, and even Mel got a HEA, so Carter’s reluctance to take things at face value grated on me.
Review copy provided by publisher
There is no rest for the damned in this thrilling follow-up to Emily McKay’s The Lair and The Farm, in a series New York Times bestselling author Chloe Neill calls, “Equal parts Resident Evil and Hunger Games.”
In a world where vampires rule and teenaged humans are quarantined as a food source, there is only one choice—resist or die. But fighting the vampires comes at a terrible cost to twin sisters Mel and Lily and their best friend Carter . . .
With Lily exposed to the vampire virus and lying in a coma, it’s up to Mel and Carter to search for the cure. Time is not on their side. With every passing heartbeat, Mel is becoming more and more purely vampire.
Desperate, Carter and Mel decide to split up. Carter will recruit human rebels from the Farm in San Angelo to infiltrate the guarded kingdom of the vampire Sabrina and steal the cure. Mel will go back to her mentor, her friend, her betrayer, Sebastian, who is the only one who can access an underground vault that may house the secret to the cure.
That is, if he’s still alive after she staked him to the ground. Now her worst enemy may be their best hope for curing Lily—and saving the human race.
Purchase from Prizm, Amazon– Vendor sites will be updated on the author’s site.
Deidra Battle wants nothing more than to be invisible. After her mother, a public school teacher, engages in an embarrassing teacher-student affair at Lincoln High, they relocate to a different neighborhood and school. Being her mother's briefcase, Deidra joins her mother at her new workplace, Hodge High. Since her mother has reverted to her maiden name and changed her appearance, she thinks no one will figure out they're the Battles from recent news and that they're safe. Neither of them is. Hodge brings a fresh set of bullies who discover details about the scandal that changed Deidra's life. Feeling trapped at home with an emotionally abusive, pill-addicted mother and at school with hostile classmates who attempt to assault and blackmail her, Deidra yearns for freedom, even if she has to act out of character and hurt others in the process. Freedom comes at a price.
2. Reading I'm trying to get in a lot of reading this week. I've gotten behind on the books I need to read and review, and now it's time to catch up. 3. Editing Another week of editing for clients. :) 4. Renovations I finally have a kitchen! Okay, it's not 100% finished. We still need to finish the backsplash, but my new countertop and new sink are both in! Yay! The den is also finished. The floor is down and the walls and window casings are painted. Unfortunately, my carpet for the upstairs won't be installed until the 29th though, so not in time for Christmas. 5. Getting Ready for the Holidays Did I mention I'm hosting Christmas and the house is still a mess? Yup, it is. Furniture everywhere. Unwrapped presents everywhere. I feel like I could be on an episode of Hoarders. *sigh* The good news is that it HAS to get cleaned up before Christmas, so this can't last much longer. That's it for me. What's on your mind today? Add a Comment
Holiday season is upon us, and with it comes some wicked-awesome deals! Anyone who has an ereader or tablet will benefit from this wonderful opportunity to score 40 fabulous reads for the holidays. Musa Publishingis offering 13 Days of Free Ebooks starting December 13th—whoa that’s TODAY folks! Below is a list of ebooks and authors on board with this promotion, but you better act fast, as their ebooks are available for free download for only ONE day. BTW—I’m on the list too, and anyone who gets an ereader or tablet for Christmas will benefit from my free download day! Ho Ho Ho…
I hope you take advantage of this wonderful offer from Musa Publishing. There’s a book for every taste on the list from romance, science fiction, horror, thrillers, paranormal, fantasy, speculative fiction, and young adult, so please help yourself to this buffet of ebooks! Wishing you, and your family, a safe and happy holiday season! Cheers and happy reading!
When their car breaks down in the middle of nowhere, Dee, her boyfriend Luke, and Luke’s brother, Mike, seek help in the nearby town of Purity Springs. But as they walk the vacant streets, the teens make some disturbing discoveries. The seemingly deserted homes each contain a sinister book with violent instructions on disciplining children. The graveyard is full of unmarked crosses. Worst of all, there’s no way to contact the outside world.
When Purity Springs’ inhabitants suddenly appear, Dee, Luke, and Mike find themselves at the mercy of Elijah Hawkins, the town’s charismatic leader who has his own plans for the three of them. Their only hope for survival is Elijah’s enigmatic son, Joseph. And his game may be just as deadly as his father’s . . .
Advance Praise for CREED:
“Debut authors Leaver and Currie make an auspicious foray into YA horror...creating a believably desperate and terrifying situation for their characters"~Publishers Weekly
"Welcome to a town that makes "Children of the Corn" look like child's play." ~ MTV News
"This is: a straight-ahead, cover-your-ears tale of terror that grows more nihilistic and grueling by the page." ~Booklist
A small beam of light suddenly illuminated the dark room. “Gas can, gas can…there’s gotta be something useful in here,” Luke muttered to himself.
I flipped open my cell phone and used the light from my home screen to navigate the edges of the room. Hooks lined the walls, most of them supporting yard tools. Hedge trimmers, weed whacker, leaf blower. Pick axe. “Pick axe? What would somebody need a pick axe for?” I asked.
“I don’t know. Maybe they use it in the winter when people die and the ground is frozen,” Luke offered up. I turned to glare at him, not even remotely thankful for his insight.Mike ignored us and continued rifling through some large plastic bins lining the wall, cursing as a large cardboard box toppled over onto his feet.
Papers spilled out and Luke bent down, casting the beam of light across the mess. Dozens of names handwritten in pencil lined the sheets. Next to each name was a date. I reached down and picked up the first sheet I touched. It was dated November fifth … two days ago.
“James McDonald, age six. Margaret Elizabeth Cunningham, age fifty-four. Sadie Calbert, age twenty-two,” Luke read aloud. He inhaled sharply and began stuffing the papers back into the box. “These are…I think these are death records.”
“I can beat that,” Mike chimed in. “Check this out.”
Luke turned his light in Mike’s direction, slowly scanning it upwards until a sign came into view. ‘Purity Springs. Population 152’it read. He moved the sign aside, another one, nearly identical, was behind it. “Purity Springs, Population 151,” Luke read, before shuffling yet another sign aside.
“And looky here,” Mike said. “This one looks pretty new, not a scratch on it. Says population 149. That’s messed up.”
Luke shook his head, grumbling something incoherent under his breath. I stepped aside, forcing myself to focus on the search for gas as opposed to the archaic death records scattered across the floor.
My mind flashed back to the grave we’d passed on the way here. It was new, and I couldn’t help but wonder if there was a sign hanging on the side of the road somewhere that now read ‘Purity Springs. Population 148.’
About the Authors:
Trisha Leaver: Trisha Leaver graduated from the University of Vermont with a degree in Social Work. She lives on Cape Cod with her husband, three kids and one rather irreverent black lab. She is a member of the SCBWI, the Horror Writers Association, the International Thrillers Writers, and the YA Scream Queens-- a group of nine women who take their horror deathly serious!
About Lindsay Currie: Lindsay Currie graduated from Knox College in Galesburg, IL with an English Literature degree. She is a member of the SCBWI, the Horror Writers Association and a contributor to the YA Scream Queens.
The Blackwell Family Secret: THE GUARDIANS OF SINS by Jonathan L. Ferrara URBAN FANTASY, Young Adult 5.5x8.5, 224 pages Publication date: December 5, 2014 $15.95 trade paperback, ISBN 978-1-940076-19-5 $5.95 E-book, ISBN 978-1-940076-20-1 Publisher: Dragonwell Publishing Distribution: Ingram Book Company www.dragonwellpublishing.com / AMAZON
Nicholas Blackwell has no idea he is supposed to fulfill a destiny. All he knows is that he draws trouble like a magnet. Orphaned at eleven when two demonic men killed his parents, he copes with the strict rules of his new home, St. Christopher’s academy, unaware that he has been the real target for the killers and that his guardian angel has saved him in the nick of time. And now, his problems are only beginning when a mysterious serpent lures him into the woods and tricks him into a demonic ritual that will unleash the Seven Deadly Sins to destroy the humankind. Nicholas has no choice but to correct his mistake--or die trying. Aided by Amy, a shy but determined girl who seems to know more about his task than she should, Nicholas's quest is to travel into the City of Demonio and defeat the Seven Guardians of Sin. To succeed, he must confront demons, monsters, and lost souls, learn the mysteries of the Chapel of Dreams, discover the true meaning of friendship and love, and face the darkest secret of all: the Blackwell Family Secret.
“The Blackwell Family Secret: the Guardians of Sin” is a debut young adult urban fantasy adventure with a Christian theme. About the author: Jonathan L. Ferrara was born in San Pedro, California to an Italian fisherman and a mother from New York. Growing up with one older brother, Jonathan had several hobbies: finding the best hiding spots to jump out and scare his mother, discovering new fantasy book series, and imagining outrageous, whimsical worlds full of magic. He is now happily married, residing in California in the City of Angels. He has two wonderful children-his dog Koda and cat Merlin.Add a Comment
"... a darkly romantic beginning to what promises to be an unusual contemporary YA fantasy series." - Serena Chase, USA Today
When Cora’s mother whisks the family away for the summer, Cora must decide between forging her future in the glimmering world of second homes where her parents belong, or getting lost in the bewitching world of the locals and the mystery surrounding a lonely old woman who claims to be a selkie creature—and who probably needs Cora more than anyone else.
Through the fantastical tales and anguished stories of the batty Mrs. O’Leary, as well as the company of a particularly gorgeous local boy called Ronan, Cora finds an escape from the reality of planning her life after high school. But will it come at the cost of alienating Cora’s mother, who struggles with her own tragic memories?
As the summer wanes, it becomes apparent that Ronan just may hold the answer to Mrs. O’Leary’s tragic past—and Cora’s future.
The protagonist of Cynthia Leitich Smith's Feral Curse is named Kayla. Her parents are white. She is black. She was adopted. From Ethiopia.
There's more. Lots more. And though it might seem like a lot for any story to take on, Smith pulls it off.
Kayla is a senior in high school. She is dating a guy named Ben. He's white, and deeply religious.
A bit more about Kayla. She's a werecat. A shapeshifter. For those who might be weirded out by that, Smith bats it down, making space for the existence of shapeshifters, with this:
Shifters aren't magical or demonic. Many of the Lord's creatures can transform. Frogs can change their gender. Snakes can change their skins. So what if we can change on the cellular level? Creation is ever the more glorious for its variety. Ever more miraculous.
Isn't that cool? People in the world Kayla lives in know about shapeshifters. She's going to meet other shapeshifters in this story. That's cool, too. Some people don't like them. Others don't know what to do about them. And others don't care. But that's changing, and not in a good way for the shapeshifters.
Early on in the story, Kayla decides to reveal her shifter self to Ben. He is glad for her having trusted him enough to do that but he's also unsettled by it and tells her that he will help her find a cure for her condition. They argue. He takes off. The things he does next unleash the story. That carousel you see on the cover? Woah! I'll leave you to read it yourself to get why I said 'woah.'
Among Kayla's friends is a girl named Jess Bigheart. Jess is Osage. The two girls were best friends for awhile. Kayla went to powwows with Jess and her family, had sleepovers, all that good stuff. That was before Kayla knew she was a shapeshifter. She was thirteen when she first experienced a shift in her body. It scared her and she withdrew from friendships, becoming somewhat of a loner. Jess, though, remains a steadfast friend. That's going to matter. A lot.
Reviews note that the end of the book is a cliffhanger. It is. And it makes me want to read the next one right away, but I'll have to wait. I will say this about that ending. I like anything--well-written, of course--that takes me to Indian Country, because it reflects a segment of society that isn't often seen out there in the land of children's and young adult books.
Published in 2014 by Candlewick Press, Feral Curse is the second book in Smith's "Feral" series. Here's the cover of the first one. I wonder what the third will be?! Can't wait!
With so many strong novels on this list, everything remains the same on our hand-picked list from the Best Selling Young Adult list—including The Children's Book Review's number one best selling young adult book is The Children's Homer: The Adventures of Odysseus and the Tale of Troy—a classic must-read for all Greek mythology fans.
I, Susan, am a huge time travel dork. Like, I grew up on a steady diet of both time travel fiction and just straight science time travel books, so when I say that The Eighth Guardian is one of the BEST time travel books out there, I think I’m pretty qualified to make that assertion.
Now, imagine my ABSOLUTE delight when the author of The Eighth Guardian, Meredith McCardle,asked if she could do a guest post + cover reveal on Pub(lishing) Crawl? Cue FREAK OUT!
And as if that wasn’t awesome enough, Meredith and Amazon have been kind enough to donate a Kindle Paperwhite!!! So scroll down to enter that giveaway–and to check out the Blackout cover!
Now, onto Meredith’s guest post!
5 Tips for Researching Your Novel
1.Wikipedia is a great place to start, but it probably shouldn’t be your only source.
Wikipedia is great for the small things—like figuring out who the candidates were in a gubernatorial election in the 1870s. But for the really big stuff, definitely branch outside of Wikipedia. In BLACKOUT, one of the biggest missions that Iris goes on is to Washington during the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Wikipedia was great for giving me a basic timeline of the crisis—when the US discovered the missiles on Cuba, when President Kennedy addressed the nation, that sort of thing. But Wikipedia can’t give you a feel for how terrifying it must have been to be living on the eastern seaboard of the United States in October 1962. It won’t let you experience the protests that built outside of the White House every day. For that, you have to go deeper. These are some of my favorite sources for further research:
Museums and museum websites. There are museums for everything. Many times, you’ll find they maintain really excellent websites with a lot of information and videos readily available.
Books! Good ole’ fashioned history books, to be exact. I’ve made fast friends with my local librarians who are always willing to escort me to the right shelf or track down a book through inter-library loan if I need it.
There’s a reason 90% of my Netflix suggestions are documentaries.
2. YouTube is a godsend.
You really can learn to do just about anything on YouTube. It’s taught me how to pick a lock. It’s taught me how to defend myself against both a knife attack and a gun in my face. You can also find a lot of documentaries on YouTube that aren’t available on Netflix or Amazon Prime. Google Image Search is also a godsend. Not quite sure what a civil war-era rifle looks like? Want to know what a well-heeled Colonial woman wore? Google images! (But brace yourself because you never quite know what you’re going to get. And do me a favor and never, ever, ever do an image search for gangrene. Trust me on that.)
3. For settings, primary research is best, but it’s not a total necessity.
I set both THE EIGHTH GUARDIAN and BLACKOUT primarily in Boston because I know that city very well. I lived there for several years. But there are scenes in the books that take place in New York City, Washington D.C., and Vermont, places I’m far less familiar with. And as much as I would love to research all the places I mention in my books specifically, it’s not always logistically (or financially!) feasible. But I have friends who live in those places. I have Google Earth. I have access to all sorts of historic maps. As long as you spend the time researching the setting, you can skate by without buying a plane ticket.
4. When is it time to stop researching?
Have you ever fallen down a research hole? I know I have. The Kennedy assassination plays a huge role in THE EIGHTH GUARDIAN, and I’m sure you can imagine the sheer volume of information out there on it. I turned THE EIGHTH GUARDIAN in to my editor nearly two years ago, and had I attempted to read everything I could find on the assassination and all of its various conspiracy theories, there’d probably still be a stack of library books on my nightstand. And by probably, I mean definitely. So here’s a good rule of thumb that I learned from my days as a lawyer: When you’re running into the same information over and over again in different sources, you probably have a good enough base knowledge. Move on!
5. Keep your notes.
You’ll need them when you revise. I am a huge fan of printing out every tiny little thing I find on the internet that might be useful. (I’m currently leaning over a full copy of the Geneva Convention in order to get to my keyboard). The papers will pile up on my desk, I’ll scribble notes directly on them, and then once I have a complete first draft, I punch holes in the papers and stick them in a three-ring binder. It’s kind of a pain to organize everything at once, but it makes life so much easier later on. And trust me, you’ll use them later!
Oh my gosh, having written historical with LOADS of research, I (Sooz) cannot emphasize #5 enough! I was so disorganized with all my research in book 1, and it made copyedits as well as sequel-writing a giant pain in the butt! So be organized and be fastidious!! Meredith’s right that it will make life easier later on.
Now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for ;)–the cover for the second Anum Guard book, Blackout!
Seventeen-year-old Amanda Obermann (code name: Iris) has more on her mind than usual. As a member of a covert government organization called the Annum Guard, which travels through time to keep history on track, Iris has been getting some particularly stressful assignments. Plus, Jane Bonner, the Guard’s iron-fisted new leader, seems determined to make life as hard as possible. Thankfully, Iris has Abe (code name: Blue), her boyfriend and fellow Guardian, who listens to her vent—and helps her cope with her mentally ill mother’s increasingly erratic behavior.
When Guardians start to disappear on their assignments, Iris makes a terrifying discovery: a “blackout” squad is targeting anyone who gets in the way of a corrupt force that’s selling out both the Annum Guard’s missions and Guardian lives. Together, Iris and Blue must go undercover to untangle the Guard’s elaborate web of secrets and lies. But when Iris discovers that the terrible truth may involve her own father, a former Guardian undone by his own greed, she must decide how much she’s willing to risk to rescue her friends…and how dangerous the consequences will be for all of humanity.
A thrilling time-traveling adventure that spans from Abraham Lincoln’s assassination to the Cuban Missile Crisis and back to the present day, this pulse-pounding sequel to The Eighth Guardian reveals that playing with time can turn into a deadly game.
I have read Blackout, and I can honestly say it is just as good as The Eighth Guardian, if not more so. Meredith really takes the stakes up a notch, and aaah! SO much tension!! (I really love this series, if you can’t tell.)
So, if you’re interested in starting the series or reading an early copy of Blackout OR just getting a shiny new Kindle Paperwhite, be sure to fill out the Rafflecopter form below!
Meredith McCardle is a recovered lawyer who lives in South Florida with her husband and two young daughters. Like her main character, she has a fondness for strong coffee, comfortable pants, and jumping to the wrong conclusions. Unlike her main character, she cannot travel through time. Sadly. The first book in the Annum Guard series, THE EIGHTH GUARDIAN, was released in May of 2014 by Skyscape. The second title, BLACKOUT, releases January 13, 2015. Learn more about Meredith on her website, Twitter, Facebook, or Tumblr.
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:
Editing I'm working on copy edits for The Darkness Within and then editing for clients this week.
Thanksgiving I'll be heading to my grandfather's apartment complex for Thanksgiving. It's always good to see him, so I don't even mind the two-hour drive.
November's been a tough month I've had a rough November. Most recently a friend passed away, but my luck went south before that too. I'm ready to move on to December and hopefully put the bad parts of November behind me.
School Visits I have two school visits (three presentations) next Monday, December 1st, so I'm getting set for those this week.
Signing The Monster Within at Moravian Book Shop on Saturday I'm heading back to Moravian Book Shop with Jennifer Murgia for the final stop on my book tour for The Monster Within. It's been a great tour, and I'm sad to see it end. I'll be there from 1-3pm, so if you're in the Bethlehem area, I'd love to see you.
Award-winning Australian author, Archimede Fusillo delves deep into what it is to be a man in his latest coming-of-age novel for young adults, Dead Dog In The Still Of The Night. The story follows the journey of Primo as he attempts to navigate his way though his final year of school with an emotionally brittle […]
Lainey Bloom’s high school senior year is a complete disaster. The popular clique, led by mean girl Wynter Woods, bullies her constantly. The principal threatens not to let her graduate with the class of 1997 unless she completes a major research project. And everyone blames her for the death of Wynter’s boyfriend, Danny Obregon.
Danny, a gorgeous musician, stole Lainey’s heart when he stole a kiss at a concert. But a week later, he was run down on a dangerous stretch of road. When he dies in her arms, she fears she’ll never know if he really would have broken up with Wynter to be with her.
Then his ghost shows up, begging her to solve his murder. Horrified by the dismal fate that awaits him if he never crosses over, Lainey seeks the dark truth amidst small town secrets, family strife, and divided loyalties. But every step she takes toward discovering what really happened the night Danny died pulls her further away from the beautiful boy she can never touch again.
*In this scene Lainey runs into Danny at a party at her best friend's house.*
I headed up the narrow staircase just as Danny descended. We did that weird dance where we moved to the side in order to let the other person go by, except we kept moving to the same side. Danny laughed and made a grand gesture with his hand. “After you, chiquita.” I laughed and shimmied past him. As I slid past, my boobs grazed the buttons on his shirt. I felt embarrassed and tingly. Danny coughed and sputtered. “See you later, right?”
“Right.” I hurried upstairs to Wilder’s bedroom. I didn’t want him to see my blush.
I darted inside Wilder’s messy room, shut the door, and leaned against it. The bras were gone, presumably flung inside her closet. Wilder opened a bag of potato chips and offered me one, but I shook my head. I climbed onto her bed and pressed my face into a pillow. “Why didn’t you tell me?” I groaned.
“I had no freakin’ clue she was throwing a party. She had been all secretive, but I thought it had more to do with this senior soccer player she’s been sweating.”
“No. She likes Danny. Did you see how she looked at me when he helped me with my bag?”
Potato chip crumbs sprinkled Wilder’s chest, and she brushed them off, not even caring if crumbs got inside her bed sheets. “I try to pay as little attention to her as possible. Besides, you’re not her competition. Why would she be jealous?”
“You know what I mean. She shouldn’t be threatened by you.”
“Again. Thank you.” I knew I wasn’t pretty enough to compete with Wynter, but having Wilder imply the same sentiment kind of hurt.
“Uh...” She shoved another chip in her mouth.
Wilder swallowed. “So, how’s your mom?”
“The same. Awful. Liz barely lets me in to see her.”
I shrugged. “I think she wants Mom all to herself while she’s still ali—you know what? Let’s talk about something else.”
Wilder stood up and wiped her greasy hands on her jeans. “I don’t feel like The Real World tonight. How about an X-Files marathon?”
“That sounds awesome.”
Before she could dig out our favorite tape and pop it in the VCR, someone knocked on the door. “Enter.”
Danny poked his head inside. “Are you girls holing up in here the whole night? You should come down.”
Wilder waved him off. “Hell, no. I don’t want to deal with a bunch of drunken douches in my house. No offense.”
“None taken. I don’t often become a drunken douche.” He smiled, and I felt a rush of warmth spread through my body. “Would you be willing to lend us some tunes? Craig’s threatening to play some horrendous country songs, and your sister has an inexhaustible amount of 80s dance music.”
Before Wilder could answer him, I jumped from the bed and opened my duffel bag. “Here.” I handed him a stack of CDs and cassettes.
“Whoa. Just so you know, I’m totally going to judge you by your taste in music.”
I flipped my hair over my shoulder, a move I had seen Wynter do countless times in gym class. “Well, in that case, you’re going to think very highly of me. I have awesome taste in music.”
He laughed as he juggled the music in his hands. “Tori Amos. Green Day. Radiohead.” He lowered his voice. “You pass.” He looked at me, and without meaning to, I bit my bottom lip. “There’s this band you should listen to called—”
“Danny!” Wynter’s shrill voice cut the air. I deflated.
Danny held up the music. “Thanks for this.” He walked backward and stumbled on Wilder’s boots next to the door. His cheeks reddened. “I brought my guitar. Nutley and I are going to play later. At least come down for that.”
One winner will be randomly selected from the comment section to receive a signed copy of Grunge Gods and Graveyards. Comment to enter! *Want your YA, NA, or MG book featured on my blog? Contact me here and we'll set it up.*
Enter to win a hardcover copy of Skink—No Surrender, by New York Times bestselling author Carl Hiassen.
Giveaway begins November 19, 2014, at 12:01 A.M. PST and ends December 18, 2014, at 11:59 P.M. PST.
There’s nothing better than a crowd of librarians and authors to remind me how lucky I am to be in this line of work, and to inspire me to keep on writing and earning my place among this bunch.
This past weekend, Austin hosted the annual YA symposium of the Young Adult Library Services Association. I participated in the Saturday evening Book Blitz — in which authors seated behind stacks of publisher-donated books get blitzed by librarians snagging their share of signed copies — as well as a Sunday-morning panel discussion including (left-to-right in Paula Gallagher’s photo above) Jonathan Auxier, Lisa Yee, Andrew Smith, moderator/organizer/wrangler Kelly Milner Halls, Bruce Coville, and Laurie Ann Thompson.
If you’re interested in hearing me talk for, oh, 27 minutes and 59 seconds, but won’t be making it to either of those events, I’m happy to offer a third option: this podcast interview that author Jason Henderson recorded with me last week. Enjoy!
Oh my… I just finished reading Jandy Nelson’s I’ll Give You the Sun, an incredible new YA novel, and I just have to talk with someone about it. I’m sitting on an airplane, all by myself, and my mind, my heart is bursting. This post is NOT what I normally write here, but life must be about taking chances. That I know.
My family and friends know that I come alive when I can talk about books with friends who live and breathe stories the same way as I do—I sparkle in a way that I rarely do in my real world. I’m heading home from a terrific book conference (YALSA’s YA Lit Symposium) where I spent time with a new friend, Rob Bittner.
As soon as I mentioned I’ll Give You the Sun, he lit up with joy (honestly, it was a little more like a yelp and jump of excitement that someone is reading a book you love). So today I just need to write Rob about all the thoughts swimming around inside of me. [Sprinkled throughout are quotes from the book. Because, you know, I’m that sort of ex-English teacher nerd.]
“Because who knows? Who knows anything? Who knows who’s pulling the strings? Or what it is? Or how? Who knows if destiny is just how you tell yourself the story of your life?”—Jude, age 16 (chapter 8)
Nelson tells the story of Noah-and-Jude, twins who are incredibly close yet pull apart—each hiding, wrapped in their own secrets that they’re sure no one will understand. Brother and sister, Noah and Jude grapple with their relationships with their mother and father as well as with each other—so there are many times I reflected on how each responded as a boy and as a girl. And yet both are fully nuanced characters, never reduced to gendered reactions.
Chapters alternate from each twin’s perspective, and Nelson carefully draws the reader inside each person. Both teens are artists, and it was fascinating hearing, feeling, seeing, thinking the world through their eyes.
Nelson not only crafts the story from two points of view, she tells it from two points in time. Noah’s chapters take place when the twins are thirteen and fourteen. Jude, his twin sister, is an integral part of his story, but it is all from Noah’s perspective. Jude’s chapters take place when they are sixteen, by which point the twins have become completely estranged, an invisible wall dividing them. But they have started building the wall long before.
“She’s trying to get in my mind, so I close the shutters… This secret is like having hot burning coals under my bare feet all the time. I rise up from the couch to get away from any potential telepathy—when the yelling reaches us.”—Noah, ages 13 (chapter 1)
As a teen, I totally understood that idea of building walls, of closing the shutters so that my family stayed out of my thoughts. Yep, my mom may read this (Hi, Mom!), and I’m guessing she remembers oh too well how there were about two years where we basically didn’t talk. I’m guessing that as a teen, there were times when I just had to pull inside myself to try to figure things out, to feel the intense feelings, to wrestle with my own uncertainties. I was stunned by the way Nelson made me think about this.
But then—oh wow, how Nelson brings so much more into this story. I did not grapple with physical feelings as a teen the way that Noah does—I just wasn’t as aware of them, and couldn’t process them until I was much older. But I could relate to his confusion, his passion, his intensity. But then, perhaps it’s that I don’t hold onto those physical memories the same way…
Jandy Nelson writes about both Noah and Jude’s physical, sexual feelings with incredible sensitivity, passion and honesty. I raved to Rob how much I loved the way she described Brian through Noah’s eyes—both how Brian looked, but also how it made Noah feel.
“Our eyes lock and electricity rides up my spine.”—Noah, age 13 ½ (chapter 3)
But I’m fascinated, now that I’m rereading it (plane ride, remember?), how slowly their connection developed. I mean, right from the beginning Noah had this electric reaction, but as I reread it, I see that they’re just stumbling through those early conversations as their friendship develops. It isn’t until Noah sees two guys passionately kissing at a party that everything started clicking in place for me as a reader.
Jude’s struggles especially resonated with me. She meets a guy (English, yep) who makes her feel, intensely feel—even though she’s doing everything she can to close herself down from her feelings.
“This guy makes me feel like I’m actually here, unhidden, seen. And this is not just because of his camera. I do not know what this is because of.”—Jude, age 16 (chapter 4)
And I think that’s an essential part of what I remember about intense friendships from my teen years and from falling in love. That sense that someone sees you for you, someone gets you. But I also had such a visceral reaction to Jude’s description of Oscar.
“There’s something in his (Oscar’s) voice, in his gaze, in his whole being, something hungry and insistent and it’s untethering me.”—Jude, age 16 (chapter 2)
Okay, Rob, so full confession time here. I’ve just spent the last hour (plane ride, right?) rereading Jude’s chapter when she starts working in Guillermo’s studio and falling head over heals for Oscar. Highlighting every description of Oscar. In pink. And I’m pretty sure that I’ve been transported back to my 20 year old self when I first met Ed. English? Check. Banter? Check. Tall, muscular? Check. Irresistable? Check. So I can’t include all the parts that I’ve highlighted (definitely TMI), but I can tell you that Jandy Nelson captured Oscar exactly right.
And then the ending… which I won’t say too much about. Except that it’s filled with hope and family and so many layered ideas that I’ll be thinking about it for weeks to come. I’ll be thinking about how people I love still live inside of me, even though they have passed away (Molly, Nana, GrandTom). And how important it is to take a chance.
So I’ll quickly put on my librarian shoes to say hand this book to a teen who loves realistic fiction, likes complicated stories because life is complicated. And when I say teen, I really mean teen – I would not put this in an 8th grader’s classroom. Some 8th graders might connect, but most will get much more out of it in a few years.
Are you looking for more professional, library-type reviews? Check out these:
I know this post has gone on forever. But maybe, kind readers, your interest has been piqued. So here's a preview of I'll Give You the Sun from Google Books.
I purchased the review copy through iBooks (plane ride, remember?). I can assure you that I'll be purchasing several more copies to give to friends. If you're dying for a copy, leave a comment. Persuade me, and I might just purchase an extra one for you. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.
I'm so thrilled to be on the 100 Sideways Miles blog tour for Andrew Smith! Read on for more about the book, my review, and a giveaway. Check out the tour schedule for more reviews.
About the book
100 Sideways Miles by Andrew Smith Publisher: Simon & Schuster Pages: 277 Published: 2 Sept, 2014
Finn Easton sees the world through miles instead of minutes. It’s how he makes sense of the world, and how he tries to convince himself that he’s a real boy and not just a character in his father’s bestselling cult-classic book. Finn has two things going for him: his best friend, the possibly-insane-but-definitely-excellent Cade Hernandez, and Julia Bishop, the first girl he’s ever loved.
Then Julia moves away, and Finn is heartbroken. Feeling restless and trapped in the book, Finn embarks on a road trip with Cade to visit their college of choice in Oklahoma. When an unexpected accident happens and the boys become unlikely heroes, they take an eye-opening detour away from everything they thought they had planned—and learn how to write their own destiny.
Andrew Smith is the award-winning author of several Young Adult novels, including the critically acclaimed Winger (Starred reviews in Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, Booklist, and Shelf Awareness—an Amazon “Best of the Year”) and The Marbury Lens (A YALSA BFYA, and Starred reviews and Best of the Year in both Publishers Weekly and Booklist).
Smith is a native-born Californian who spent most of his formative years traveling the world. His university studies focused on Political Science, Journalism, and Literature. He has published numerous short stories and articles. Stand Off, the sequel to Winger, coming in January 2015, is his ninth novel. He lives in Southern California.
To begin, I should tell you I know Andrew Smith. I met him in 2011, right after a Wall Street Journal article on YA books basically shat all over him and a few other terrific authors for writing children's literature that was "too dark". He's a great guy and an amazing writer. While the content of his novels are usually brutal, violent, darkly and scatologically humorous, which might make you think the author is some rough, tough ne'er-do-well, he's actually quite sensitive. Anyone who understands his writing understands that, just as he understands us and our feelings. (All the feels!)
While it would probably behoove me to tell you that I am giving the book an honest review regardless of how I think of Andrew, that wouldn't be quite true. I would be even less truthful to say I'm giving it a good review because I like him a lot, and want to spare his feelings. I want you to know I'm giving 100 Sideways Miles the most honest review that I can, given that I already presupposed it to be brilliant because it's written by Andrew Smith. I'm not sugar-coating it, because I don't have to.
Finn Easton's view of life, from his stance as an epileptic, uncertain, eventually heart-broken teenaged boy tilts the reader's perspective in unexpected ways. Whenever Finn has a seizure, all is beauty, and words cease to have meaning as the connections between them unravel in his brain. He marks time in miles instead of minutes, thinks of people in terms of their molecules, and how much or how little the microscopic bits of matter want to stay together or rejoin the universe.His best friend Cade, crass and a little insane, makes a great foil. Finn's crush, Julia Bishop, is a girl I'd fall in love with, myself. She's forthright and real. Their story unfolds like history rather than fiction.
Strange plot and lovable characters aside--I won't spoil anything for you--the real star of the show is Smith's prose. He has a penchant for taking normal, everyday words and stringing them together in unforgettable ways, like "the planet of humans and dogs", or "the knackery never shuts down", simple but lyrical to the point where I find myself thinking them throughout the day, when I think about politics and people, when I am planting seeds in the garden, when I'm shampooing my hair. "Twenty miles. Twenty miles." It's how many miles the earth travels per second. When he's not busy blowing your mind, Smith sneaks in relevant tidbits of history, like carrots in the meatloaf. I probably knew, but didn't remember, anything about the St. Francis dam disaster of 1928, and now I feel like I'll never forget it.
People who don't like Andrew Smith point and pick at his use of profanity as weakness. To me, they're the weak ones. His frank voice helps me feel understood; it echoes the way I think, speak, and feel. It makes us, his readers, feel like we're not alone. Not just that, but Smith's detractors are missing the point; they're missing the words and ideas that matter. "Twenty miles. Twenty miles." Every moment we stand still, we're moving.
100 Sideways Miles is darkly funny, deeply thoughtful, and a worthy addition to Andrew Smith's bildungsroman novels.
Middle Grade Historical and Fantasy, Featherweight Press, November 2014
Lily, a learning disabled girl, attempts to unravel the mystery of her abducted mother using supernatural clues from an ancient stranger, even when it means posing a danger to herself.
Learning-disabled Lily desires to prove herself, although her mind freezes when presented with big problems - such as her mother's abduction. With a French father and Egyptian mother, Lily worries that her mother hid her ethnicity from her French in-laws. However, there's something deeper going on. Lily finds a way into an attic that's normally locked and encounters a mysterious, moonlit Egyptian night world. There she finds Khadijah, an ancient stranger who guides her to finding clues about her mother's whereabouts. Lily becomes a sleuth in both the real world and magical desert, endangering herself as she gets closer to the kidnapper.
2. Revisions This week I'm revising one of my manuscripts I put aside for a while. It's always fun to go back and read a first draft I've stepped away from. 3. Some Fine Day by Kat Ross Kat Ross has a new release and a giveaway for you.
What if everything you've been taught is a lie?
Sixteen-year-old Jansin Nordqvist knows that when the world flooded and civilization retreated deep underground, there was no one left on the surface.
She knows that the only species to thrive there is the toads, a primate/amphibian hybrid with a serious mean streak.
Most of all, she knows there's no place where you can hide from the hypercanes, continent-sized storms that have raged for decades.
4. Reading/Reviewing I'm reading a bunch of books that I need to review. It's nice to have to find time to read. Usually reading gets pushed aside for other things, but when I promise to review, I can't do that. ;)
5. Promo My crazy month of events every week (some weeks more than one event) is over, but I do still have a signing set up for this month and two school visits coming up. This week I'll be trying to book another signing for the holidays.
The Plot: Lea and Gabe meet in creative writing class. It's going to take more than sharing a college class to get these two together, even though they sit side by side.
What's keeping them apart? And what will it take to get them together? Well, Lea and Gabe won't tell you, but their friends, family, and others around them, from the bus drive to the waitress, will.
The Good: I just loved the narrative device of fourteen people (including those who don't like Lea and Gabe, as well as a squirrel and a bench) telling the romance of Lea and Gabe.
I loved this -- both because I've always been a fan of large casts and multiple viewpoints, and because it strengthens this particular story. While we don't see what Lea sees or Gabe sees, we see what those around them do, and it's like putting together a jigsaw puzzle. We see more of their world than they do.
Admittedly, fourteen voices is a lot to keep track of, as a reader, even when some are as unique as 'Squirrel!" The book design helps make this easier for those who, unlike me, don't keep a notebook with a running list of characters as they read. Instead of simply saying "Casey" or "Danny" or "Bob," it always says "Casey (Gabe's friend)" or "Danny (Lea's friend)" or "Bob (a bus driver)". It's just that little bit extra to help keep track of who is who.
I've written before (both when talking about NewAdult and just in general) that when I was in high school I looked for books set in college out of curiosity about what college would be like; and when I was in college, I wanted books with a college setting to reflect the reality I was living. A Little Something Different meets that reading need, because it's not just about Lea and Gabe's slow road to romance; it's also about the things, small and big, that make up college life: parties, cafeteria food, overlapping friends, ordering take-out.
I would call this New Adult; but -- in part because of who is telling the story, and because it does take a while for Lea and Gabe together -- this isn't a sexytimes romance. What it is a sweet, funny glimpse into the lives of Lea and Gabe and those around them. This is more for those whose search for New Adult is more about setting than romance -- but the romance is so great! It's just not a hot and heavy romance, it's a slow burn of missed opportunities by two of the shyest people on the planet.
Another thing I liked about A Little Something Different is how Hall wove in diversity into the narrative. For example, Lea's friend Danny is gay; the creative writing professor is a woman married to another woman; Lea is Chinese-American. Gabe had been in a car accident the year before, and it -- and the physical after effects of the accident -- are something he doesn't easily share (it's a bit of a spoiler even saying that here), and those things have an effect on how he interacts with others and how others see him.
Note: Sandy Hall is a fellow New Jersey librarian.
In Wicked Path: Book Two of the Daath Chronicles brother and sister are forced to opposite sides of Tarrtainya on a fast-paced adventure where the wildlife isn’t the only thing trying to kill them.
Three months have passed since Avikar defeated the Reptilian Prince, and he still can’t remember his battle with Lucino. On the hunt for answers, he returns to the scene of the fight and discovers a strange connection between his family’s dagger and the mysterious kingdom of Daath, and it seems only his distant father can reveal the truth behind it all.
Before Avikar can travel back home, Lucy assaults him in the market and forces him to flee to Nod Mountains—a place few dare to enter, and even less return from. With Raven and her childhood friend by his side, they must survive the treacherous journey through the pass with a vengeful Lucy hunting them. If they don’t, they’ll never see home again.
Jeslyn’s new life in Luna Harbor is the perfect remedy for her confused and broken heart. But when a group of mercenaries kidnap her beloved Grandfather, interrupting her daily routine as his jewelry apprentice, she's forced to join forces with the one person from her past she tried to forget.
And his assistance comes with a price.
About The Author:
Eliza graduated from Dowling College with a BS in Visual Communications. When she’s not arguing with excel at her day job, or playing Dragon Age 2, again, she’s writing.
Her YA stories hold a bit of the fantastical and there’s always a hot romance. She resides on Long Island with her husband, two kids and one very snuggly pit bull.
This morning I have a giveaway for C. C. Hunter’s Eternal (Shadow Falls: After Dark)! Open to US addresses only, please.
Just when Della feels like she’s starting to figure out her life, she finds herself
reborn…and her new existence comes with a whole different rulebook.
Della’s secret powers always made her feel like an outsider in the human world. Now, just when she’s starting to feel like she belongs—at Shadow Falls, a camp for teens with paranormal powers—her life is turned upside down all over again. Attacked by a deadly virus, she must make the difficult choice to be reborn. It’s her only chance at survival, but it comes with a price: It irreparably bonds her to Chase, a tall, dark and mesmerizing vampire who makes her laugh one minute and infuriates her the next.
Chase already knows too many of Della’s secrets, and being eternally bonded to him is the last thing she wants. Even worse, she doesn’t fully understand what their bond means. Is the attraction she’s started feeling for Chase real—or does fate have something else in store? And what does that mean for Steve, the hot shapeshifter whose kisses make her weak in the knees? Now Della’s battered heart is about to take another hit. While investigating her latest case, she discovers shocking evidence about her father’s dark past, making her question everything she believes to be true…and her place in the world she loves.
I’m putting the following books on my to-read list. I chose these particular books of the many the above authors have written because either these particular characters or the genres (fantasy, adventure, and historical fiction) are the most different from my own work.