Posted on Sep 17th, 2013 by audra
In these categories Ally Condie

In Ally Condie’s latest blog post she writes:

I am writing something new. Newer even than this project, which will be my next, out in Fall 2014. I love writing something new in every season but I think maybe especially in the fall.

What do you think? Something new that isn’t MATCHED or the Rio book? What are you hoping for? We can’t wait to find out more about this!

Posted on Sep 17th, 2013 by audra
In these categories Ally Condie

Ally Condie Author Photo
Ally Condie wrote a new blog post and announced that she will be at the 2013 Youth Literature Seminar at the Kalamazoo Public Library on Friday November 8, 2013. Visit the event page for additional registration information.

Posted on Sep 17th, 2013 by audra
In these categories book review, Review, Society's Bookshelf

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Book Title: The Disenchantments
Author: Nina LaCour
Release Date: February 16, 2012
Publisher: Speak

Colby and Bev have a long-standing pact: graduate, hit the road with Bev’s band, and then spend the year wandering around Europe. But moments after the tour kicks off, Bev makes a shocking announcement: she’s abandoning their plans – and Colby – to start college in the fall.

But the show must go on and The Disenchantments weave through the Pacific Northwest, playing in small towns and dingy venues, while roadie- Colby struggles to deal with Bev’s already-growing distance and the most important question of all: what’s next?

Morris Award–finalist Nina LaCour draws together the beauty and influences of music and art to brilliantly capture a group of friends on the brink of the rest of their lives.

I’m almost apologetic with how much I disliked The Disenchatments. This was a book that had been on my to-read list for quite a long time, and finally purchased it on a whim when I saw it was out in paperback. I liked the idea of the storyline, but in execution I really had a hard time with it. I wouldn’t say it was a bad book, but it wasn’t something I was absolutely in love with.

I enjoyed that this book has a strong set of female characters, and it’s also narrated by a guy. In a world of what seems like female dominated YA narration, it was refreshing to have Colby as our narrator and main character. However, I almost feel a bit duped by this book. I was expected a light, fun, road trip read. While the book wasn’t insanely dark by any means, it wasn’t a single bit what I thought it would be like. While that can also be refreshing, it just didn’t work for me with this book.

The adventure the artsy rebel kids go on inside Melinda was intensely fun. It reminded me of the only road trip I’ve been on with friends before. We decided it would be really fun to drive from Virginia to New York City. What I thought would be full of action and adventure ended up being just really touristy and exhausting. I felt Colby’s issues came across as pretty cliche, which stuck with me through a lot of the situations he ends up in.

I’m glad I had the chance to finally read The Disenchantments. It wasn’t what I expected, and I probably wouldn’t read it again, but overall the story pulled me in and for the most part I couldn’t put it down.

Order: Amazon|Barnes & Noble|Indiebound

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Posted on Sep 16th, 2013 by audra
In these categories Society's Bookshelf

YALLFest is a one day event of panels, presentations and signings in Charleston, SC featuring 50 of the country’s top YA authors on November 9, 2013. We’re able to bring you another interview with one of these amazing authors, CJ Lyons!

Describe your book in 5 words:
Girl dying of broken heart (literally)

What is the hardest line to write- the first or the last?
The first. I’ll often return to it over and over again until I’ve sliced and diced and fine-honed it to that perfect combination of intrigue, visceral reaction, and emotional connection with the reader.

What one young adult novel do you wish you had when you were a teen? Why?
Code Name Verity because it is so emotionally honest and inspiring, empowering, not to mention gut-wrenching. Really brings the era to life as well as the sacrifices made in the name of freedom.

Tell us 5 random facts about yourself.
When I was a kid I worked summer stock theatre and was actually a theatre major undergrad before switching to pre-med.
I’ve had two hard landings in helicopters while working as a flight doc.
I survived rampaging Cape Horn Buffalo and a pack of wild baboons, not to mention a leopard (he’s already eaten) while hiking in Hells Gate Park in Kenya.
I’m a Capricorn.
I diagnosed my niece with the heart condition that’s at the center of my YA thriller, BROKEN.

What are you working on now?
DAMAGED, my next YA thriller, due out in 2014. It deals with the really tough topic of abuse and coercion and is the most difficult book I’ve ever tackled—there have been times while writing when I was literally in tears as I typed.

What is your favorite genre to write in? To Read?
I created my own genre of Thrillers with Heart—I love writing fast paced stories with raising stakes but centered on the emotional heart of an evolving relationship. As for reading, I read almost every genre but especially love YA, magical realism, and thrillers. As long as a story grabs me by the throat and won’t let me go because I’m too worried about what the characters are going through, I’ll read it and love it.

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New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of eighteen novels, former pediatric ER doctor CJ Lyons has lived the life she writes about in her cutting edge Thrillers with Heart.

CJ has been called a “master within the genre” (Pittsburgh Magazine) and her work has been praised as “breathtakingly fast-paced” and “riveting” (Publishers Weekly) with “characters with beating hearts and three dimensions” (Newsday).

You can find CJ on her websitetwittertumblr and facebook.
Check out more information on the YALLFest website and twitter.

Posted on Sep 14th, 2013 by audra
In these categories Book Blitz

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Sia by Josh Grayson
Release Date: November 20, 2013

Summary from Goodreads:
When seventeen-year-old Sia wakes up on a park bench, she has no idea who or where she is. Yet after a week of being homeless, she’s reunited with her family. At school, she’s powerful and popular. At home, she’s wealthy beyond her dreams. But she quickly realizes her perfect life is a lie. Her family is falling apart and her friends are snobby, cruel and plastic. Worse yet, she discovers she was the cruelest one. Mortified by her past, she embarks on a journey of redemption and falls for Kyle, the “geek” she once tormented. Yet all the time she wonders if, when her memories return, she’ll become the bully she was before…and if she’ll lose Kyle.

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Q&A with Author Josh Grayson

What is your favorite genre to read/write?
Young adult (YA), because those stories carry universal themes we can all relate to, a peek into the lives of characters who are more intriguing, real, and raw.

What got you started on your writing journey?
My move from Massachusetts (where I’d lived most of my life) to Virginia. The first year here was difficult. I was alone, depressed, and in completely new surroundings. But it was here in the South that I began seeing all these stories in my head, and that my “writing gene” got activated. So it seems the old saying is true, everything does happens for a reason.

Why do you choose to write clean/sweet romance?
I don’t choose, per se. I just write whatever I see in my head. And so far, all the romantic parts have been sweet and clean, which is fine with me.

What other things do you have planned with your writing for the rest of the year 2013?
I’m working on another YA novel that Sia fans should enjoy as well. If things go according to plan, I’ll publish that in the summer of 2014.

Where do your ideas come from?
I find muses everywhere! In books, magazines, poems, movies, YouTube videos, and so much more. I always try to be receptive. You never know what might trigger your next story.

What inspired you to write Sia?
Initially? Oprah. (laughs). I saw an interview she did on a man with fugue amnesia that impacted me. Fugue amnesia occurs when someone, usually in response to excessive stress, takes off on some unexpected travel. And during the travels, that person assumes either a partial or complete new identity. I found it both fascinating and frightening to think that stress alone can cause the human brain to demand a reset like that. I often wonder why I haven’t gotten fugue amnesia yet!

Is it true you wrote the screenplay adaption as well?
Yes! I wrote it as soon as the book was finished. I’m about to hire a seasoned Hollywood screenwriter to polish it. When it is up to industry standards, we’ll submit it to film companies and cross our fingers. I think Sia would translate wonderfully to film.

If you could sum your main character into five words, what would they be?
Determined. Compassionate. Humble. Kind. Brave.

Use no more than two sentences. Why should we read your book?
Because I believe it will leave you touched, encouraged, and—of course—entertained.

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Josh Grayson was born in Mexico, raised in Massachusetts, and now lives in Martinsville, Virginia.  It was his move to the South that stirred his imagination and gave him the courage to start writing.  During his free time, Josh enjoys reading, jogging, swimming, and watching YouTube videos.

Josh currently works as a medical driver, shutting people all over Virginia and North Carolina.  He has also worked as a machinist, film sales rep, administrative assistant, and telemarketer (he apologizes if he called you).

Sia is his debut YA novel.

You can find Josh on his website, twitter and facebook.

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Posted on Sep 12th, 2013 by audra
In these categories Review, Society's Bookshelf

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Book Title: Just One Day
Author: Gayle Forman
Release Date: January 8, 2013
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile

A breathtaking journey toward self-discovery and true love, from the author of If I Stay

When sheltered American good girl Allyson “LuLu” Healey first meets laid-back Dutch actor Willem De Ruiter at an underground performance ofTwelfth Night in England, there’s an undeniable spark. After just one day together, that spark bursts into a flame, or so it seems to Allyson, until the following morning, when she wakes up after a whirlwind day in Paris to discover that Willem has left. Over the next year, Allyson embarks on a journey to come to terms with the narrow confines of her life, and through Shakespeare, travel, and a quest for her almost-true-love, to break free of those confines.

Just One Day is the first in a sweepingly romantic duet of novels. Willem’s story—Just One Year—is coming soon!

I was drawn into Just One Day right away from the cover. The expression of our main character, wearing her almost signature watch, gazing outwards mirrors the Allyson we first meet so well. Allyson is on a trip with other recent graduates and her best friend Melanie, traveling through Europe. Allyson usually plays things by the book, so she takes something Melanie says about her to heart and goes off on a whirlwind adventure with Willem, the dashing young man she meets as part of a traveling Shakespeare troupe.

The idea of running off with a boy for just one day in Paris makes even my lesbian heart go all fluttery. Willem has a bit of a bohemian soul to him, and shares his ideologies with Allyson, who he has now named LuLu. My absolute favorite idea in this book is the stain. The idea of love and experience being a stain on your being was so beautifully described and experienced in the pages of this book and I still can’t shake it. I can’t remember a time when a theme from a book stuck with me so long after reading a book. It’s really made me think back on my, somewhat limited, life experiences to see what stains I have.

Allyson’s story is so brutal and heartbreaking and also completely joyous, adventurous and heartwarming. I can’t remember the last time my emotions were this all over the place while reading a book. I had no idea the book was going to take such a turn for the worse and wasn’t prepared for that at all. Honestly, a lot of LuLu and Willem’s Parisian adventure was a bit hard to believe which took me out of the story a bit. It didn’t stay that way for long though and I was sucked back in as soon as her insane day in Paris was over.

A lot of this story really spoke to me. It took me a while to find myself, and it really wasn’t until college that I grew into who I am. I really struggled with who I was versus who my parents wanted me to be.  I was really able to relate to Allyson during her very low points. She was juggling a lot more than you realize and it all comes to a head for her, and it isn’t pretty. At the same time, I felt that her relationship with her mother was a bit cliche and didn’t end up feeling like anything special. On the other hand I really did appreciate her relationship with Melanie. It was interested to see how things played out for the two of them, which mirrored a friendship I had with a girl I’d known since first grade.

I’m so glad I finally read this, and I’m almost glad I waited so long to read it. It just makes my wait time for Just One Year, releasing October 10, 2013 and told from Willem’s point of view, that much shorter!

Order: Amazon|Barnes & Noble|Indiebound

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Posted on Sep 11th, 2013 by audra
In these categories Interviews

YALLFest is a one day event of panels, presentations and signings in Charleston, SC featuring 50 of the country’s top YA authors on November 9, 2013. We’re one of lucky blogs that get to bring you an interview with one of these amazing authors, Lauren Oliver!

What one thing do you need to have when you write?
Coffee!

What is the hardest line to write- the first or the last?
Honestly, neither. It’s just every single line in between that feels impossible.

Best writing tip you ever received?
Aim for truth and beauty will follow.

Tell us 5 random facts about yourself.
I have fourteen tattoos.
I can fall asleep any time, any place.
I have a phobia of worms.
I hate fruit.
I wrote my first novel largely on my Blackberry.

Where’s your favorite place to write?
In my sunroom in upstate New York.

What are you working on now?
Two different middle grade books and an untitled young adult novel that my agent described as “the most disturbing thing he’s ever read.” Oops!

What is your favorite genre to write in? To Read?
I love realistic books that include just a hint of fantasy.

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Lauren Oliver comes from a family of writers and so has always (mistakenly) believed that spending hours in front of the computer every day, mulling over the difference between “chortling” and “chuckling,” is normal. She has always been an avid reader.

She attended the University of Chicago, where she continued to be as impractical as possible by majoring in philosophy and literature. After college, she attended the MFA program at NYU and worked briefly as the world’s worst editorial assistant, and only marginally better assistant editor, at a major publishing house in New York. Her major career contributions during this time were flouting the corporate dress code at every possible turn and repeatedly breaking the printer. Before I Fall is her first published novel.

She is deeply grateful for the chance to continue writing, as she has never been particularly good at anything else.

You can find Lauren on her website, twitter, tumblr and facebook.

Posted on Sep 11th, 2013 by audra
In these categories Review, Society's Bookshelf

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Waiting on Wednesday was started by Jill at Breaking the Spine, and gives us a chance to feature a book we’re waiting to read.

This week I’m nervously chewing my nails waiting for Just One Year by Gayle Forman.

The heartrending conclusion—from Willem’s POV—to the romantic duet of novels that began with Allyson’s story in Just One Day

After spending an amazing day and night together in Paris, Just One Year is Willem’s story, picking up where Just One Day ended. His story of their year of quiet longing and near misses is a perfect counterpoint to Allyson’s own as Willem undergoes a transformative journey, questioning his path, finding love, and ultimately, redefining himself.

I really enjoyed the first two books in the Newsoul series, and I’m eager to read the final book in this series.

What book are you waiting on this week?

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Posted on Sep 10th, 2013 by audra
In these categories book review, Society's Bookshelf

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Book Title: The Chaos of Stars
Author: Kiersten White
Release Date: September 10, 2013
Publisher: HarperTeen

Isadora’s family is seriously screwed up.

Of course, as the human daughter of Egyptian gods, that pretty much comes with the territory. She’s also stuck with parents who barely notice her, and a house full of relatives who can’t be bothered to remember her name. After all, they are going to be around forever—and she’s a mere mortal.

Isadora’s sick of living a life where she’s only worthy of a passing glance, and when she has the chance to move to San Diego with her brother, she jumps on it. But Isadora’s quickly finding that a “normal” life comes with plenty of its own epic complications—and that there’s no such thing as a clean break when it comes to family. Much as she wants to leave her past behind, she can’t shake the ominous dreams that foretell destruction for her entire family. When it turns out there may be truth in her nightmares, Isadora has to decide whether she can abandon her divine heritage after all.

Floods! Amun-Re! Insert Egyptian related word turned curse word here! I was intrigued by this book first off from the absolutely beautiful cover. The font, color scheme, design and even  is eye catching and really drew me in to the story. I used to be fairly into Egyptian history in high school so the The Chaos of Stars was a very unique twist on Egyptian history set in a modern time. Isadora was a fairly irritating main character, and the supporting cast of folks felt underdeveloped and underused in the story.

After a worrying series of dreams Isadora is off (on her first plane ride ever!) to San Diego, CA to stay with her brother. She’s expected to work so she puts in some time at a local museum helping out with an upcoming exhibit thanks to a donation from her Mother. She has a flair for design so of course she has a ton of opportunities to work on her hobby. She gets to help with the museum, her brother’s upcoming nursery and of course the local hot boy Orion needs interior design help at his house.

I was thankful that there wasn’t a love triangle involved in the book, but the one love interest came across as insanely obvious and very forced. Isadora’s relationship with her new friend Tyler feels weird and uncomfortable. It feels forced and disingenuous. Her interest with Ry was also just really weird and I found myself reading more and more only so I could figure out what their deal was. Isadora’s brooding got old for me fast and I found the ending of the book a warm welcome.

The Chaos of Stars had an interesting premise that just really came off flat and disappointing.

Order: Amazon|Barnes & Noble|Indiebound

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Posted on Sep 9th, 2013 by audra
In these categories Interviews

YALLFest is a one day event of panels, presentations and signings in Charleston, SC featuring 50 of the country’s top YA authors on November 9, 2013. We’re one of lucky blogs that get to bring you an interview with one of these amazing authors, Cinda Williams Chima.

What one thing do you need to have when you write?
A computer

Describe your book in 5 words
Wizards misbehave, magic goes mutant.

What is the hardest line to write- the first or the last?
Usually the lines in between.

Best writing tip you ever received?
Give yourself permission to write badly.

Tell us 5 random facts about yourself.
1.I am a twin.
2.I am named after a character in a novel.
3.I didn’t really start driving until I was 27.
4.I am descended from Puritans and scoundrels.
5.I used to be in a folk music band.

Where’s your favorite place to write?
On a balcony overlooking the ocean.

What are you working on now?
I’m writing The Sorcerer Heir, the fifth book in a trilogy.

At what point in the development of an idea do you know that it will become a full-length novel?
When I’m finished with a full-length novel.

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New York Times bestselling author Cinda Williams Chima comes from a long line of fortune-tellers, musicians and spinners of tales. She began writing romance novels in middle school, which were often confiscated by her teachers.

The Warrior Heir was named to Voya’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy 2005-2006, is a 2006 Booksense Summer Reading Pick, was named to the 2007-2008 Lone Star Reading List, and was a finalist for the 2006 Great Lakes Book Award. Warrior Heir received a starred review in the Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books and a “Perfect Ten” (5Q, 5P) in Voya. The Wizard Heir also received a “Perfect Ten” from Voya and appears on Voya’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy 2007. The Dragon Heir received a starred review in Kirkus, was named to Kirkus’s Best YA 2008 list, was a VOYA Perfect Ten, and is a USA Today, Indie Next, and NYT bestseller.

Chima’s Seven Realms series launched with The Demon King in October, 2009.It received a starred review in the Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, was a Voya Perfect Ten and was named to the 2009 Voya Best Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror List. The Exiled Queen followed in September, 2010. It received a starred review from Kirkus, was a Voya Perfect Ten, and a New York Times bestseller. The Gray Wolf Throne follows in September, 2011.

Find more of Cinda on her official websitetwitter, and Facebook.