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1. Interview: Meet Rachelle Dekker, Author of The Choosing

[Manga Maniac Café] Good morning, Rachelle!  Describe yourself in five words or less.

[Rachelle Dekker] Curious, goofy, free-spirited, and fearful (I hide the last one well, but I’m working on it).

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

[Rachelle Dekker] The Choosing is a story about identity. Carrington Hale is a girl that lives in a society where worth is based on your ability to be picked as a bride. We find Carrington at the beginning of the story having failed to be picked and the turmoil that follows. Is a person’s worth based on the titles and roles society places on them, or can they discover their true worth, given to them by their Father. That is the journey Carrington will go on.

[Manga Maniac Café] Can you share your favorite scene?

[Rachelle Dekker] There is a scene between Aaron and Carrington that comes towards the end of the novel that I love. They talk about being a bird, being able to fly. It’s a dream sequence that’s half nightmare, half hopeful and I identify because I’m a dreamer myself. I think dreams give us incredible insight and can show us things about ourselves we may have forgotten. It was a fun scene to write.

[Manga Maniac Café] What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

[Rachelle Dekker] The lessons learned. I write to discover, to explore an idea that I think is intriguing or terrifying, or both. I have told my husband several times, if nothing ever came from writing this novel other than the physical words on paper it would still have been worth it because of the personal journey it took me on.

[Manga Maniac Café] What’s one thing you won’t leave home without?

[Rachelle Dekker] My cell phone, it’s sad but how will I play Trivia Crack, or FarmVille without it?

[Manga Maniac Café] Name three things on your desk right now.

[Rachelle Dekker] Harry Potter pen, pickle duct tape, and the outline for my next project

[Manga Maniac Café] What’s your favorite snack when you’re working on a deadline?

[Rachelle Dekker] Apples and peanut butter, or Cheez-It’s.

[Manga Maniac Café] If you could trade places with anyone for just one day, who would you be?

[Rachelle Dekker] Anna Kendrick: she’s beautiful, can sing, quirky, funny, and she got to be in Pitch Perfect, Into The Woods, and ParaNorman

[Manga Maniac Café] You have been granted the use of one superpower for one week. Which power would you choose, and what would you do with it?

[Rachelle Dekker] I feel like the ability to fly would be pretty awesome, but I wonder if after a couple of days I would get board. I’m also not a huge fan of heights, so maybe Telepathy would be better. Then I could go into random coffee shops and freak everybody out by moving things with my mind. Clearly I’m really mature.

[Manga Maniac Café] What are some books that you enjoyed recently?

[Rachelle Dekker] Looking for Alaska – John Green, Shadow and Bone – Leigh Bardugo, And The Mountains Echo – Khaled Hosseini, and Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children – Ransom Riggs… I would recommend them all!

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

[Rachelle Dekker] My Website: www.rachelledeker.com

Twitter: www.twitter.com/rachelledekker

FaceBook: www.facebook.com/rachelledekkerauthor

Instagram: www.instagram.com/rachelle_dekker

Like all citizens since the Ruining, Carrington Hale knows the importance of this day. But she never expected the moment she’d spent a lifetime preparing for—her Choosing ceremony—to end in disaster. Ripped from her family, she’ll spend her days serving as a Lint, the lowest level of society. She knows it’s her duty to follow the true way of the Authority.

But as Carrington begins this nightmare, rumors of rebellion rattle her beliefs. Though the whispers contradict everything she’s been told, they resonate deep within.

Then Carrington is offered an unprecedented chance at the life she’s always dreamed of, yet she can’t shake the feeling that it may be an illusion. With a killer targeting Lints and corruption threatening the highest levels of the Authority, Carrington must uncover the truth before it destroys her.

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2. Lumberjanes: Review Haiku

Kicka$$ girls go camping,
fight monsters, and set up
for new adventures.

Lumberjanes Vol. 1: Beware the Kitten Holy by Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, and Brooke Allen. BOOM! Box, 2015, 128 pages.

0 Comments on Lumberjanes: Review Haiku as of 4/24/2015 8:07:00 AM
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3. Friday Feature: Prodigal/Raven Blog Tour


Please welcome Tyler Jolley and Sherry Ficklin to the blog today! Tyler and Sherry are amazing people as well as amazing writers, and they have a video for you all today. But first, check out their books.


Two journeys. One inescapable outcome. No time to lose.


What should be a routine mission leaves Ethan with a serious problem. He's fractured—a break between mind and body that leaves him at the mercy of his Rifter abilities, which are quickly tearing him apart. He will have to trust the only person who might know how to fix him, a mysterious Rifter named Stewart Stills, who seems to have a special connection with the time stream.

Forced to face his dark past and a decision he may never forgive himself for, he will be trained unlike any of the others, to become a true guardian for time. If he accepts, it will mean leaving everyone he loves behind. If he refuses, time itself could unravel. After a glimpse of the dark future awaiting them all, he will have to choose between destiny and desire. Will he rise up and take his place as a defender of the natural order, or will he watch as all of time burns at the hands of the girl he loves?
Welcome to the time war.

Stein has been with the Hollows for as long as she can remember. Taken as a child, she has no memories of her past—and that's always been fine by her. Until the day she stumbles across a hidden journal containing the devastating truth about her paternity. Now everything she thought she knew—and everyone she thought she could trust—has changed. The truth about who she is and where she came from is a secret so deep, it will rock the Hollows and the Tesla Institute alike.
During a test to verify her bloodlines, Stein makes a terrible discovery. She is carrying a rare genetic mutation that is slowly killing her. Unsure who to turn to and running out of time, she has no choice but to turn to Tesla—her most hated enemy—for help. But can she trust the man who she's been fighting against her whole life, or will she end up another piece in his deadly game of cat and mouse with the people who betrayed her so long ago?

Tyler H. Jolley is a sci-fi/fantasy author and full-time orthodontist, periodontist (see: Overachiever). He divides his spare time between writing, reading, mountain biking, and camping with his family.
Sherry D. Ficklin is a full-time writer and internet radio show host with more mouth then good sense. She has a serious book addiction, but continually refuses treatment, much to her husband’s chagrin.
Tyler and Sherry met one fateful day and bonded over their love for books, science fiction, and donuts. Their first co-written novel came shortly after. Now, they still do all those other things, but also go to various steampunk conventions and events under the guise of ‘research’. They can often be found lurking on the Lost Imperials Facebook page or over on the official website, www.thelostimperials.com.

Preorder link B&N exclusive FLIPBOOK: http://bit.ly/1ICxcCI

Tyler and Sherry have some GREAT tips for you about what to bring to writing conferences. Seriously, this is a great list. Check it out:

Thanks Tyler and Sherry! For those of you who have attended conferences, is there anything you'd add to Tyler and Sherry's list?

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

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4. Hold Me Closer: Review Haiku

I really need to
see someone put this show on
for real. Curtain up!

Hold Me Closer: The Tiny Cooper Story by David Levithan. Dutton, 2015, 208 pages.

0 Comments on Hold Me Closer: Review Haiku as of 4/22/2015 7:07:00 AM
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5. New YA author on the scene


The Chimes by Anna Smaill (Sceptre, Hodder & Stoughton)
The first thing to say about this stunning story is that it’s a classic crossover novel, ie. it can be enjoyed by both adults and older teenagers. It’s a debut novel by the author, whose previous publication is a book of poetry. However when you read that she also has an MA in Creative Writing from the International Institute of Modern Letters (Wellington) you begin to understand why readers and reviewers are full of praise for this unusual and challenging book.

The basic tenets of the futuristic, dystopian London in which the story is set are these: the written word has been forbidden and forgotten; personal memory has also been destroyed so that the past is a mystery to most people; and both memory and the written word have been replaced by music. Music is used for communication, directions, identification, social interaction and societal control.

The story is challenging because the reader initially has little idea how this society operates – when we read on the first page about the main character (a teenage boy called Simon) standing by the side of the road we share his bewilderment and fear because none of us has any idea what is going on. Simon is eventually given a ride to London where he joins a gang who make a living by scavenging a precious metal called palladium.

From this point the story unrolls both backwards and forwards so we eventually understand why Simon’s abilities are so special, and what has to happen to mend this broken society. It’s not an easy read but once you relax and put yourself in the author’s hands you appreciate the poetic delicacy of the style and the originality of the story concept. Recommended for older secondary students, especially those with an interest in writing.

ISBN 978 1 444 794533 $34.99 Pb

Reviewer: L. Orman        

0 Comments on New YA author on the scene as of 4/21/2015 5:55:00 PM
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6. Read Between the Lines: Review Haiku

Everyone you meet
is fighting a battle you
know nothing about.

Read Between the Lines by Jo Knowles. Candlewick, 2015, 336 pages.

0 Comments on Read Between the Lines: Review Haiku as of 4/20/2015 7:25:00 AM
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7. My Writing and Reading Life: Paige McKenzie, Author of The Haunting of Sunshine Girl

PAIGE MCKENZIE, the face of The Haunting of Sunshine Girl, is thrilled to have the chance to bring her unique voice to life in a book series.

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8. Friday Feature: The Prophecy and The Outlanders by Erin Rhew


Today I'm featuring two books by Erin Rhew!

Growing up on a small farm in the kingdom of Vanguard, seventeen-year-old Layla Givens lives a deceptively tranquil existence. But her carefully constructed life quickly falls apart when she’s abducted by a religious zealot who proclaims her The Fulfillment of an ancient peace prophecy and whisks her away to marry her greatest enemy.

Wilhelm, Prince of the Ethereals, is reluctant to meet his new bride. He's grown up believing Vanguards are evil, an enemy to fight and fear...not love. Can he set aside his prejudices and work alongside Layla to bring lasting peace after centuries of war?

Nash, a loner who has never fit in, carries a huge secret, one big enough to destroy both kingdoms. When he accidently meets Layla, he’s no longer content to live in the shadows, but he must resist his growing attraction—for her safety and for the longevity of the two kingdoms.

When Nash's secret is revealed, a firestorm sweeps through both realms, with Layla at the center. Now she must choose between duty and desire while the fate of two nations hangs in the balance.


Buy links for THE PROPHECY:  




With King Jesper dead and Prince Wilhelm mortally wounded, Halfling prince, Nash, and the Fulfilment, Layla, assume the throne of Etherea. They must contend with a new Prophecy Candidate who asserts her position, and Layla is surprised to find her fate intertwined with this challenger. Facing a myriad of choices, Nash and Layla’s decisions affect not only their own futures but that of two kingdoms.

Unbeknownst to the Ethereals or the Vanguards, a slumbering menace stirs in the south, awakened after centuries. The mysterious Outlanders, a force shadowed in mystery, sit poised to tip the balance of power, sending ripples of fear throughout both warring kingdoms.

Elder Werrick proved a formidable foe, but Layla may yet meet her match in the monstrous Outlander queen. This mistress of the dark’s plans, rooted in revenge and ancient lore, now threaten the livelihood of all three kingdoms.
Racing against time, Layla travels to the Borderlands—home of the Voltons and Ecclesiastics—to discover as much as she can about the war, the First Ones, and the prophecy itself. Lives teeter in the balance, kingdoms sit on the cusp of ruin, and a beast, greater than any she’s ever faced before, plots a catastrophic attack.


Buy links for THE OUTLANDERS 



  


Erin Rhew is an editor, a running coach, and the author of The Fulfillment Series. Since she picked up Morris the Moose Goes to School at age four, she has been infatuated with the written word. She went on to work as a grammar and writing tutor in college and is still teased by her family and friends for being a member of the "Grammar Police." A Southern girl by blood and birth, Erin now lives in a rainy pocket of the Pacific Northwest with the amazingly talented (and totally handsome) writer Deek Rhew and their “overly fluffy,” patient-as-a-saint writing assistant, a tabby cat named Trinity. She and Deek enjoy reading aloud to one another, running, lifting, boxing, eating chocolate, and writing side-by-side.   

Find me online:

Twitter: @ErinRhewBooks
           




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

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9. Review: Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

Under a Painted Sky was such a fun read!  The time period is unusual – 1849 America.  The adventurous protagonists, Samantha, a young woman of Chinese descent, and Annamae, a runaway slave, disguise themselves as boys and head west from Missouri, hitting the Oregon Trail and pretending to be prospectors.  I love anything to do with the Oregon Trail, and this book is exciting, suspenseful, and completely engaging.  All I know is that I would never have had the courage to do the things both Samantha and Annamae are forced to do to save themselves after an accident forces them to run for their lives.

Samantha is having a terrible day.  First, she loses everything in a terrible fire that claims the life of her father, then she’s tricked and almost forced to work in a brothel.  Annamae saves her, and they both head west, looking for Sammy’s father’s friend, who headed to California on an unknown errand for Sammy’s father.  The girls run into a group of cowboys, and the boys agree to let them travel with them for a while.  The girls must hide their true identities, learn to survive in the wilderness, and protect themselves from unwanted attention.  Sammy knows that the law is looking for her, and she’s terrified to show her face to fellow travelers on the Oregon Trail.  Andy’s going to be in just as much trouble after running away, but she’s determined to find her older brother, who is somewhere out west.

I loved this book so much.  The details of life on the trail are fascinating and compelling.  Any little mistake can spell disaster or death, and Sammy is like a fish out of water.  At least she can ride, a huge help now that they are traveling with Cay, West, and Peety and their horses.  Andy is given the least well behaved mare, and she can’t ride a lick.  Talk about learning on the fly!  I’ve been riding for years, and I don’t think I could ride all day long, for months on end.  Wouldn’t it be fun to try, though? The  lack of running water or flush toilets gives me pause, though. I like my conveniences too much to reenact a journey on the Oregon Trail.

The fast pace of Samantha and Annamae’s adventures will keep readers on the edge of their seat.  Deep down, though, Under the Painted Sky is really the tale of friendship and grit; both girls face seemingly insurmountable challenges, but they refuse to give up their dreams or each other.  Highly Recommended 

Grade:  B+ / A-

Review copy borrowed from my local library

From Amazon:

A powerful story of friendship and sacrifice, for fans of Code Name Verity

Missouri, 1849: Samantha dreams of moving back to New York to be a professional musician—not an easy thing if you’re a girl, and harder still if you’re Chinese. But a tragic accident dashes any hopes of fulfilling her dream, and instead, leaves her fearing for her life. With the help of a runaway slave named Annamae, Samantha flees town for the unknown frontier. But life on the Oregon Trail is unsafe for two girls, so they disguise themselves as Sammy and Andy, two boys headed for the California gold rush. Sammy and Andy forge a powerful bond as they each search for a link to their past, and struggle to avoid any unwanted attention. But when they cross paths with a band of cowboys, the light-hearted troupe turn out to be unexpected allies. With the law closing in on them and new setbacks coming each day, the girls quickly learn that there are not many places to hide on the open trail.

This beautifully written debut is an exciting adventure and heart-wrenching survival tale. But above all else, it’s a story about perseverance and trust that will restore your faith in the power of friendship.

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10. The Shadow Cabinet - Review and Giveaway

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

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

Publication date: 10 February 2015 by Putnam Juvenile

Category: Young Adult Paranormal

Keywords: Ghosts, Murder, Mystery

Format: Hardcover, ebook, audiobook

Source: ARC from publisher for review

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

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

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

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

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

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

-KATE-

Find the book: Goodreads | IndieBound | Barnes & NobleAmazon

Find the author: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Tumblr


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

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

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11. Review: Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

Written in the Stars is an emotionally compelling story, and man, did it make me angry!  To think that there are still cultures that value the lives and dreams of girls so little that they would sell them into marriage when they are still basically children makes me so frustrated for the future of all of us.  The protagonist Naila is a hard-working honor student with one goal in life – going to med school and becoming a doctor.  When she lies to her parents and sneaks off to prom, she’s punished in the most demeaning way.  She’s taken to Pakistan, lied to by her parents, and married off against her will.  Good-bye, intelligent, science-minded young woman. You are going to be a cloistered housewife for the rest of your life, and all of those endless possibilities that were once open to you?  Gone.  All of those people your medical skills could have saved?  Nope, your parents thought being barefoot and pregnant at seventeen was a more worthy pursuit for your keen mind.  Sigh.

Naila’s always been an obedient child, but when she enters her senior year in high school, she and Saif, also of Pakistani descent, can no longer deny their feelings for each other.  Saif’s sister, however, brought shame on their family by marrying an American, and Naila’s parents and their friends won’t have anything to do with the family anymore.  They gossip mercilessly about them, and no longer invite them for parties or gatherings.  Saif’s parents, they whisper to each other, did a terrible job raising them, and both Saif and his sister are disgraceful.  Naila must keep her feelings for Saif a secret.  She knows her parents would never understand or approve of her feelings for him, so their relationship is confined within the school walls.  Naila is just waiting to graduate, so that she can get out of her parents house, move into the dorm on campus, and have a little bit of freedom with she studies to be a doctor.

Her world shatters when she’s caught with Saif at senior prom.  Her parents promptly book the next plane to Pakistan, not even allowing her to attend her graduation.  Once at her uncle’s home, she starts to think that things will be okay.  Her parents are happy being back home with their families, and Naila is enjoying getting to know her cousins and her aunts and uncles.  She’s annoyed with all of the gatherings her mother keeps dragging her to, expecting her to dress up and answer bewildering questions about herself. After a month, it  all gets very tiring, and she just wants to get back to Florida so she can attend orientation.

Then she learns, to her horror, that her parents are searching for a husband for her.  She’s basically trapped, and has no one to turn to.  Her parents have taken her visa, her passport, and her spending money.  She’s in a rural village, and has no way to get to the airport.  Her parents are suddenly strangers to her, and she despairs at ever going back home to Florida.

Written in the Stars is hard to put down.  Naila’s narrative is so engaging that you don’t want to leave her world, as hopeless as it is at times.  She’s an intelligent young woman, though, and she doesn’t give up hope of getting the future she dreams of.  Just when she thinks she’s out of options, a new door opens, if only she has the courage to step through it. 

The details of life in rural Pakistan are colorful and vivid. The reader explores Naila’s  fascinating new world with her, and her daily activities come to life.  Most compelling, I think, is how powerless and how inconsequential she was to her family.  Her parents really thought they were doing what was best for her, but I had a very hard time understanding them, especially her father, who had to give up his own dreams of becoming a doctor to run the family dry cleaning business.  Family honor is of utmost importance, but being an American, the concept of doing everything your parents tell you, even into adulthood, is incomprehensible to me.   Though Written in the Stars ends on an upbeat note, it’s sobering to think of all of the girls in situations where there is no happily ever after.

Grade:  B+/A-

Review copy borrowed from my local library

From Amazon:

This heart-wrenching novel explores what it is like to be thrust into an unwanted marriage. Has Naila’s fate been written in the stars? Or can she still make her own destiny?

Naila’s conservative immigrant parents have always said the same thing: She may choose what to study, how to wear her hair, and what to be when she grows up—but they will choose her husband. Following their cultural tradition, they will plan an arranged marriage for her. And until then, dating—even friendship with a boy—is forbidden. When Naila breaks their rule by falling in love with Saif, her parents are livid. Convinced she has forgotten who she truly is, they travel to Pakistan to visit relatives and explore their roots. But Naila’s vacation turns into a nightmare when she learns that plans have changed—her parents have found her a husband and they want her to marry him, now! Despite her greatest efforts, Naila is aghast to find herself cut off from everything and everyone she once knew. Her only hope of escape is Saif . . . if he can find her before it’s too late.

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12. Mini Review: Dust & Decay by Jonathan Maberry

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

I read Rot & Ruin last year and loved it.  It was one of my top 10 reads for the year.  I loved how Benny and Tom’s relationship changed as they faced one life-threatening adventure after another, and how Benny grew from an angry, petulant teen in to a courageous young man.  When he learned the truth about First Night, when the zombie plague wiped out most of human population, he finally saw his brother in a new light and forgave him for abandoning his mother.  It’s one best bonding moments in young adult fiction, but really, the whole book is about Benny learning how to come to terms with his feelings for his brother.

Dust & Decay didn’t work as well for me.  It’s still a page turner, with loads of pulse-pounding action, but the deeper emotions from Rot & Ruin are lacking until the very end.  After seeing the plane at the end of the previous book, Nix and Tom want to go and find it.  Where there is a functioning plane, there must be an enclave of survivors with more technology than they have.  Lilah doesn’t like being in town, and Benny’s just along for the ride.  The closer it comes time for them to leave, the less certain he is that he really wants to go.  Nix, however, has nothing left in town since her mother died, and she wants to see what’s out beyond the fence.  She’s tired of being afraid and she’s tired of living with a bunch of people who are terrified at the thought of expanding out into the Ruin.

Things go wrong almost from the moment they step into the Ruin.  They are attacked by wild animals, keep stumbling upon zombies, and run into creepy individuals that make even Tom uneasy.  The predicaments they find themselves in are exciting, and I constantly wondered how they were going to get out of them unscathed.  It really was hard to put the book down.

The disconnect for me is with the villains.  They are one-dimensional, and that made them boring.  They are all bad, for no reason.  They don’t have an interesting backstory to explain their brutal ways, and because they are defined only by their evil deeds, with no real reason why they are committing these atrocities, there was nothing compelling about them.  I love a bad guy that has some depth, that I can feel even a twinge of compassion for, because something happened to turn them into monsters.  The only thing that happened to these guys is the same thing that happened to everyone else, but most of the surviving humans don’t run around killing children and anyone else weaker than them. 

There is a terrible, horrible thing that happens near the end that also spoiled some of my enjoyment, but after reading George RR Martin, the demise of favorite characters doesn’t pack quite the same punch as it used to.  Until that moment, there wasn’t much emotional connection to the story for me, and that’s why Dust & Decay fell a bit flat for me.  That being said, it’s still an adrenaline rush, and I’m looking forward to reading the next book in the series, Flesh & Bone.

Grade:  B-

Review copy read at Scribd

From Amazon:

Six months have passed since the terrifying battle with Charlie Pink-eye and the Motor City Hammer in the zombie-infested mountains of the Rot & Ruin. It’s also six months since Benny Imura and Nix Riley saw something in the air that changed their lives. Now, after months of rigorous training with Benny’s zombie-hunter brother Tom, Benny and Nix are ready to leave their home forever and search for a better future. Lilah the Lost Girl and Benny’s best friend Lou Chong are going with them.

Sounds easy. Sounds wonderful. Except that everything that can go wrong does. Before they can even leave there is a shocking zombie attack in town. But as soon as they step into the Rot & Ruin they are pursued by the living dead, wild animals, insane murderers and the horrors of Gameland –where teenagers are forced to fight for their lives in the zombie pits. Worst of all…could the evil Charlie Pink-eye still be alive?

In the great Rot & Ruin everything wants to kill you. Everything…and not everyone in Benny’s small band of travelers will make it out alive.

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13. Shadow Scale Blog Tour - Review and Giveaway

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

Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman

Publication date: 10 March 2015 by Random House

Category: Young Adult Sci-Fi Fantasy

Keywords: Dragons, Conspiracy, War

Format: Hardcover, ebook, audiobook

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

About the book:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Find the author: Website | Facebook | Twitter

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

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14. None of the Above – 2015 Diversity Reading Challenge

Today’s diversity read is one I had been looking forward to since meeting the author at one of the biannual SCBWI conference LGBTQ meetings a year ago. It doesn’t exactly fall into any of my categories, but boy, is it … Continue reading

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15. The Shadow Cabinet: Review Haiku

CRAZY HOT GHOST ACTION!
Or, Why You Might Not Want
to Visit UK.

The Shadow Cabinet (Shades of London #3) by Maureen Johnson. Putnam, 2015, 400 pages.

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16. Monday Mishmash 4/6/15


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. The Darkness Within Blog Tour  Spencer Hill Press and I are looking for people to take part in the blog tour for The Darkness Within. ARCs are available for review too. Interested? Sign up here
  2. Holidays/Spring Break  I hope everyone enjoyed Easter and/or Passover, whichever you celebrate in your family. We are also on spring break here, if you can call it that since most of it was taken back to make up snow days. ;)
  3. YASH  The YA Scavenger Hunt is officially over as of yesterday. As always, it was a lot of fun. :) Congrats to all the winners!
  4. Free Monthly Newsletter  My free monthly newsletter goes out today. If you aren't signed up to receive it, but would like to stay up-to-date on my books and writing tips, sign up here.
  5. Perfect For You  This Friday, I'll be sharing more info about my YA contemporary romance Perfect For You. Long story short, I took my rights back from the publisher and I'm relaunching the book this month. It's now available as an ebook AND as a paperback. Yay! And it got a new cover. Check it out. If you're interested in reading the book, you can find it on Amazon or B&N.
That's it for me. What's on your mind today?

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17. Poisoned Apples: Review Haiku

A little repetitive,yes,
but a powerful
read nonetheless.


Poisoned Apples: Poems for You, My Pretty by Christine Heppernan. Greenwillow, 2014, 128 pages.

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18. YA Scavenger Hunt


Welcome to YA Scavenger Hunt! This bi-annual event was first organized by author Colleen Houck as a way to give readers a chance to gain access to exclusive bonus material from their favorite authors...and a chance to win some awesome prizes! At this hunt, you not only get access to exclusive content from each author, you also get a clue for the hunt. Add up the clues, and you can enter for our prize—one lucky winner will receive one signed book from each author on the hunt in my team! But play fast: this contest (and all the exclusive bonus material) will only be online for 72 hours!

Go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page to find out all about the hunt. There are EIGHT contests going on simultaneously, and you can enter one or all! I am a part of the GOLD TEAMbut don't forget about all of the other teams and the chance to win a whole different set of signed books!
If you'd like to find out more about the hunt, see links to all the authors participating, and see the full list of prizes up for grabs, go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page.

SCAVENGER HUNT PUZZLE

Directions: Below, you'll notice that I've listed my favorite number in gold. Collect the favorite numbers of all the authors on the GOLD TEAM, and then add them up (don't worry, you can use a calculator!). 

Entry Form: Once you've added up all the numbers, make sure you fill out the form here to officially qualify for the grand prize. Only entries that have the correct number will qualify.

Rules: Open internationally, anyone below the age of 18 should have a parent or guardian's permission to enter. To be eligible for the grand prize, you must submit the completed entry form by April 5th, at noon Pacific Time. Entries sent without the correct number or without contact information will not be considered.

Today, I'm hosting Julie Cross! JULIE CROSS is the author of the international bestselling Tempest series. Julie lives in Champaign, Illinois.

Find out more information by checking out her author website or find more about Julie's book here!

Now time for some EXCLUSIVE CONTENT!

Bestselling author Julie Cross teams up with Ford model Mark Perini to pen a poignant and gritty YA novel about love and the dark side of modeling and the fashion industry Eve's time as a fashion model nearly destroyed her-now she's determined to build a career behind the camera lens. But landing a coveted photography internship brings her face to face with her dark past-and her ex. While Eve is snapping pictures, up-and-coming male model Alex is launching his career-which, for him, involves maintaining a fake relationship with his (secretly) underage co-star, Elana. But Alex is falling for Eve, and Eve won't let herself get hurt again. If Alex can pull off a fake love with Elana, can he convince Eve to risk a secret affair with him?

Spotlight Excerpt

And then I see me. The pictures Eve took and pretended to be capturing shots of the view out the window. It’s just my profile and there’s a shadow over my face so you can’t really tell it’s me. I’m also hunched over like I’ve forgotten to stand up straight. Eve catches me staring at myself. She’s now wearing jeans and the pink shirt she yanked from the closet a minute ago. She’s morphed back into College Eve. “Is it weird that I have pictures of you on my wall?”

“You can’t really tell it’s me,” I say, but it is a little surprising. Not weird, just surprising. I don’t have pictures of anyone, including myself, in my room or in my shared apartment at all. 

Eve moves beside me and taps the picture I’m looking at. “I like this one a lot. You look human.”

I laugh. “As opposed to alien?”

“As opposed to supermodel.”

“I get it. You’re against Photoshopped models and all that,” I say. It’s a tired argument—though I’d willingly have it with Eve—but it’s not like I can change the world or anything. It’s not like I have any say in what’s done to my pictures.

She pulls two rubber bands out of her long wavy hair, letting it fall loose from the tight bun. I immediately smell her shampoo. “It’s not Photoshop that makes me hate fashion pictures. I edit too. I’m just not as intrigued by images where the subject knows they’re being photographed. It’s like being on trial. You’re going to hide all your vulnerability, all the raw emotion that you get in a real image.”

“So what you’re saying is, if I were to replicate this pose…” I tap the picture in question. “But this time I knew you were taking a picture, I couldn’t make it look the same?”

She’s still staring at the image. “I don’t know. Maybe I’m too biased to answer that since I’m the one who took the photo. Maybe it would only look different to me.”

Just hearing her say that makes me realize how much of her goes into her pictures, and how little of me is actually in a photo from any professional shoot I’ve ever done.

“I think I get it.” I scan all her photos again. “If you don’t include the entire subject in the picture, then people are free to fill in their own blanks.”

I’m not even sure where that came from. It sounded like a Freudian analysis or something. The air must be different on a college campus than in the rest of New York City, and it’s gone to my head.

Eve turns her eyes from the picture and stares at me. “Maybe.”

Her proximity to me becomes the only thing my mind is able to focus on. I didn’t come on this date just so I could kiss her, and I didn’t come into her room for that reason either. Which is why I know for sure, the second her head turns and her eyes meet mine, that it’s exactly what I should do.

I only have to lean in a few inches before my mouth is on hers and her eyes are closing. And there’s nothing to look at or think about, nobody watching us or taking our picture. It’s as easy and natural as taking my next breath, and I know I’m already addicted to kissing Eve before my tongue has even moved past her lips. My hands are going to insist on living in her hair forever, even if it’s really hard to walk around anywhere. And I’m pretty sure my heart is going to beat at this much faster pace for good.

I should have done this five days ago. And every day since.


And don't forget to enter the contest for a chance to win a ton of signed books by me, Kelly Hashway, and more! To enter, you need to know that my favorite number is 8. Add up all the favorite numbers of the authors on the GOLD TEAM and you'll have the secret code to enter for the grand prize!

CONTINUE THE HUNT

To keep going on your quest for the hunt, you need to check out the next author, LAURISA WHITE REYES!

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19. How It Went Down: Review Haiku

Raises tons of questions,
answers almost none -- and
does so beautifully.

How It Went Down by Kekla Magoon. Holt, 2014, 352 pages.

0 Comments on How It Went Down: Review Haiku as of 3/16/2015 7:20:00 AM
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20. #Zombies! Novella Review: Please Remain Calm by Courtney Summers

 

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

Please Remain Calm picks up right where This is Not a Test left off, but from Rhys’ POV.  At first I wasn’t sure how I felt about that, but I actually liked his narration better than Sloane’s.  Rhys is a straight forward kind of guy, and while he is torn up over what he had to do to his parents on the first awful night of the zombie apocalypse, he has done a fairly good job of moving past the ordeal.  While he does suffer from nightmares, he counts himself lucky to be alive, and he is determined to stay that way, so that his parents’ deaths will mean something.  Unlike Sloane, he is not suicidal, and he strives to find some sort of normal in the new horror of his existence.

Rhys and Sloane are headed to Rayfield, where a refugee camp has supposedly been established.  They make a major blunder, though, and are soon running desperately away from a group of zombies.  They are separated, and Rhys is saved by Jesse and Lisa, a couple who are making their way to their safe house in the woods.  They also have their four year old daughter with them, and Jesse is understandably suspicious of Rhys.  He doesn’t trust him, and he doesn’t want to put his small family in danger.  He warns Rhys that if he messes up, he won’t hesitate to eliminate him.

Please Remain Calm has a lot more action than This is Not a Test.  Because Rhys and his new companions are outside, with no shelter, they are tempting targets for roaming zombies.  Regardless of how careful they are, it’s inevitable that there will be encounters with the undead.  They are adrenaline fueled battles for survival, against foes that just don’t stop.  The zombies don’t ever quit, and where there is one, there are usually many more.  Every shadow, every boulder, every tree is a possible hiding place, and the tension kept me flipping the pages.  I gobbled this novella up in short order, and immediately hoped that there will be more in the future.  The ending is ambiguous, leaving everything up in the air, so be forewarned.

Grade:  B / B+

Review copy obtained from my local library

From Amazon:

In Please Remain Calm, the gripping sequel to Courtney Summers’ This is Not a Test, Rhys and Sloane are headed for a safe haven when they get separated along the way. Rhys is determined to reunite with Sloane until he discovers people who might need him more–people who offer him the closest he’ll get to everything he’s lost, if they can just hold on long enough. Rhys thinks he has what it takes to survive and find Sloane, but in a world overrun by the dead, there are no guarantees and the next leg of his journey will test him in unimaginable ways…

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21. Friday Feature: YA Scavenger Hunt Spring 2015



Hello Everyone! I'm so happy to introduce to you the Spring 2015 YA Scavenger Hunt Authors! We have eight outstanding teams this season. I am going to be a part of #TeamGold! The Scavenger Hunt runs from April 2nd through April 5th beginning and ending at noon Pacific time on those days. 

If you've never been a part of the hunt before you should give it a try. It runs like a giant blog hop, introducing you to new YA authors and books along the way. There are tons of prizes including a grand prize for each team. If you win one of the grand prizes you will get a book from each author on that team! For more information and to make sure you get hunt updates, sign up for news on the #YASH website. During the hunt, I'll be sharing an exclusive never-before-revealed sneak peek of THE DARKNESS WITHIN. 

You don't want to miss out on this fabulous and fun event, but play fast because the hunt is only live for three days. And now, here are the teams! (Hint: If you click on the image you can get a close up.)

Blue Team 1 Pink TeamTeam Gold (2)Team Purple 1Team GreenTeam Red 1Team Teal (2)Team Orange  
I hope you are all as excited as I am!
THE HUNT BEGINS 4/2/15!

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22. Monday Mishmash 3/30/15


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. Drafting  I'm 60K into my WIP, so that means I'll be finishing the draft this week. Yay! My street team, Kelly's Coven, also helped me decide on a title for this book, which I'm very grateful for.
  2. Different Blog Schedule This Week  The YA Scavenger Hunt is this Thursday, so that means my blog schedule will be a little off. I will still be posting my Writer Wednesday, but since the YA Scavenger Hunt needs to stay up as my main post for a few days, I will not be posting a Friday Feature this week. Make sure you stop by to join in the scavenger hunt fun and enter to win a bunch of amazing prizes.
  3. Editing  I have some openings in my editing schedule, which is rare. So if you have anything you need edited, feel free to contact me (khashway@hotmail.com) and we can discuss what you need and get your scheduled.
  4. Beta Reading  I'll also be working on a beta read for a writer friend this week. :) I always enjoy beta reading, but I've have limited time for it this year.
  5. Conventions/Conferences  I'm really bummed that I have no conventions planned. I won't be at BEA this year. :( I'm SO sad about that. I'm trying to figure out if there's another convention I can get to instead. Any suggestions? I'd love to do one where I can also sign my books.
That's it for me. What's on your mind today?

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23. Review – First Daughter: Extreme American Makeover by Mitali Perkins

 

First Daughter: White House Rules, by Mitali Perkins (Dutton Children’s Books, 2008)

 

First Daughter: Extreme American Makeover
by Mitali Perkins
(Dutton Children’s Books, 2007)

 

Sameera, known as Sparrow, is the adopted daughter of diplomatic parents. She has lived … Continue reading ...

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24. Review – First Daughter: White House Rules by Mitali Perkins

First Daughter: White House Rules, by Mitali Perkins (Dutton Children’s Books, 2008)

 

First Daughter: White House Rules
by Mitali Perkins
(Dutton Children’s Books, 2008)

 
Following on from First Daughter: Extreme American Makeover, First Daughter: White House Rules picks up … Continue reading ...

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25. Cover Reveal and Giveaway: Rachel’s Deception by Karen Ann Hopkins

This morning I have a cover reveal and giveaway for Rachel’s Deception by Karen Ann Hopkins.  I enjoyed the Temptation series, and I’m looking forward to reading the continuation.  Noah’s sister Rachel and Rose’s younger brother take center stage, and I can’t wait to find out what happens.  Check out the cover, revealed below, and then enter the giveaway!

 

Growing up Amish is difficult…but leaving it behind is even harder.

Noah was Amish…Rose wasn’t. Being together should have been impossible. But somehow they found a way to make it work. They are finally a family, but their happily-ever-after is still a long off. Will Rose and her friends be able to force real change?

Karen Ann Hopkins returns with a gripping new book in the YA Temptation series. The powerful family saga continues with Rachel’s Deception, as events spiral out of control in the sleepy farming community of Meadowview. And Rachel Miller has her own secrets to hide. Noah’s younger sister has been living a double life. That is, until Justin Cameron, Rose’s little brother, catches her in the act. Rachel is not the obedient Amish girl that her sister was, and her rebelliousness takes her to a very dangerous world. A world that only her true friends can help her escape from.

As Rachel questions all she has been taught about love, family, and commitment, Rose discovers what it really means to be shunned. And an evil shadow looms on the horizon, threatening not only Rose, but everyone she holds dear.

The Temptation Series:

Temptation (Book 1)   onGoodreads |Get a Copy  Amazon | B&N | Indiebound

Belonging (Book 2)  on Goodreads | Get a Copy Amazon | B&N | Indiebound

Forever  (Book 3)  on Goodreads | Get a Copy Amazon |B&N |Indiebound

The Temptation Series is now on Audible!


Here is some exciting news for all those audiobook lovers out there: The Temptation Series will be available April 21st and you can Pre-Oder your copy right now! Listen to a sample on audible.

 

A native of New York State, Karen Ann Hopkins now lives with her family on a farm in northern Kentucky, where her neighbors in all directions are members of a strict Amish community. Her unique perspective became the inspiration for the story of star-crossed lovers Rose and Noah. When she’s not homeschooling her kids, giving riding lessons or tending to a menagerie of horses, goats, peacocks, chickens, ducks, rabbits, dogs and cats, she is dreaming up her next romantic novel.

Karen is generously offering up a $25 gift card (Amazon or B&N) as well as a copy of TEMPTATION (book 1) to one lucky winner! To enter, please fill out the Rafflecopter form

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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