Monthly Wrap-up: May

List of May reads. Lots of really great books this month! Which is not quite over just yet so I may have a book or two to add before midnight...

Josephine Angelini - Goddess (Starcrossed #3)
Elana K. Arnold - Burning.
Jen Calonita - Sleepaway Girls
Abbi Glines -  Twisted Perfection (Perfection #1)
                   - Because of Low (Sea Breeze #2)
                   - While It Lasts (Sea Breeze #3)
                   - Just for Now (Sea Breeze #4)
                   - Fallen Too Far (Too Far #1)
                   - Never Too Far (Too Far #2)
Tara Hudson: Elegy (Hereafter #3)
Stephenie Meyer & Young Kim - New Moon: The Graphic Novel, Volume 1
Sarah Ockler - The Book of Broken Hearts
Amy Plum - If I Should Die (Revenants #3)
Kristen Simmons - Breaking Point (Article 5 #2)
Andrew Smith - Winger
Nancy Werlin - The Killer's Cousin

Event recap: Heather L. Reid's debut party + giveaway

Last Wednesday, I had the pleasure of attending local DFW author Heather Reid's debut party for her novel Pretty Dark Nothing. It was so much fun meeting Heather and the whole slew of DFW area authors & bloggers, most of whom I'd already met at TLA, at least in passing. I had no idea when I moved to Dallas how amazing the reading community is here, but I'm so thankful for it!

Heather started off the night by saying a few words about her journey to becoming an author:

          "It's been a dream of mine ever since I can remember. My best friend used to edit my
           stories. Sometimes dreams fade away when you get older because of the daily grind.
           You forget what you're passionate about. There wer when I didn't focus on writing,
            but 7 or 8 years ago, I sent a manuscript for query. An editor at the big six wanted
            my book, and asked for a full manuscript, then passed. It was the best thing that
            could have happened. Don't give up on your dreams. It may take time, it may take
            years, lots of work, but you can do it."

She followed up these inspirational words by reading the locker room scene from Pretty Dark Nothing, and then took some questions from the audience.

Q1. (from ya author Mary Gray) I love the tangible presence of the demons, it makes the story relatable. As a writer, I love first person pov. Why did you choose third person and multi pov?
A. Quinn and Aaron's voices came at the same time. Aaron's voice is so interesting! I prefer to read third so I always wrote in third. Right now I'm working on a story in first person.

Q2. How do you feel first and third person compare?
A. I just spent more time writing in third person, but it's a close third, not omni. Third allows more leeway for description.

Q3. Pretty Dark Nothing is your first published book, but what was the first thing you ever wrote?
A. It was a picture book that was a mishmash of my favorite picture stories. I was four or five years old, and my mom helped spell the words. No one will ever see it. In seventh grade I would be in spelling class, sneaking a pad and pen, writing my first novel, which will also never be seen. I wanted to be published by 16.

Q4. Could you describe the creative process for the title?
A. When Darkness Whispers was the first title, but it was too similar to several other novels. My publisher picked a title that I hated so they went back to the drawing board. They came back with a couple titles, and I loved Pretty Dark Nothing.

Q5. During the journey from aspiring writer to where you are now, you encountered challenges. At what point did you decide, "No matter what, this is," like a moment of conviction. How hard was it to make modifications and not feel like you were selling out?
A. That turning point came around 21 or 22. I had a magazine on my desk with an ad for the Institute for Children's Literature. It was a correspondence course to write for kids. It taught me a lot about storytelling. I started writing picture books and for magazines. I decided to try young adult. Pretty Dark Nothing came from my experience with insecurity and depression. I went to confressences and networked to figure out where to go. Networking won't always get you where you want to go, but it helps. Meet people, be genuine. Write what you love. Be who you are, do what you love. Don't write to a market. Editors are there to help, not tear your work apart like some people believe. It's a partnership. Criticism? It's there. It's not about having thick skin. Be realistic that some people love it and they get it; that's who you're writing for. Keep that in your head. Focus on the people who are interested. It does hurt because it's personal; writing is personal.

Q6. What was the last book you read that you liked?
A. Grave Mercy. Love Robin LaFevers. Divergent. Hemlock by Kathleen Peacock.

Q7. Me: Goodreads has your book listed as Pretty Dark Nothing #1. Will there be sequels?
A. I'm writing book two now. It'll be out April 2014. There's a cliffhanger in Pretty Dark Nothing, be warned! There's an option for book three, but it's not contracted. I'd love to do a third book, though!

Q8. Do you have lots of ideas?
A. Yes! Living in Scotland, I was sitting by the sea, writing in a journal, when a character seemingly exploded from the sea. I wrote three pages worth, then told that character I was too busy to write for her just then. I put her on the back burner. I've been trying to work out Pretty Dark Nothing #2 when that character just came back.

Q9. How much back and forth is there when your editor insists on a change?
A. For Pretty Dark Nothing, there weren't many structural or character changes, just pacing and some motivations. I don't know if it was luck or just what happened to me. I agreed with 98% of the cuts, but the 2% that I put my food down for, that's what's in the book.

Q10. Did you consider self-publishing?
A. There's nothing wrong with self-publishing. I just wanted to go traditional or small press. I wanted to knock on all the doors, more that traditional route. What I'd always dreamed about was holding a paperback, having a marketing plan. Self-publishing is amazing, but not was I saw for me. There are hybrids now, depending on what works, so never say never!

Heather finished out the night with a small signing with the remaining stock of first editions for Pretty Dark Nothing and I snagged a copy for a giveaway!

Details: One winner will win a signed copy of Pretty Dark Nothing and two others will win a signed bookplate. Open to US/CA only. Ends midnight June 6 EST. All entries will be verified!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Review: Burning by Elana K. Arnold + Giveaway

Check HERE for open giveaways
Rating: 5/5 stars
Pub Date: June 11, 2013
Publisher: Delacorte Press (imprint of Random House)
Genre: young adult contemporary
Format/Source: DRC, Netgalley
Status: Standalone

Ben: Having just graduated from high school, Ben is set to leave Gypsum, Nevada. It's good timing since the gypsum mine that is the lifeblood of the area is closing, shutting the whole town down with it. Ben is lucky: he's headed to San Diego, where he's got a track scholarship at the University of California. But his best friends, Pete and Hog Boy, don't have college to look forward to, so to make them happy, Ben goes with them to check out the hot chick parked on the side of Highway 447. 

Lala: She and her Gypsy family earn money by telling fortunes. Some customers choose Tarot cards; others have their palms read. The thousands of people attending the nearby Burning Man festival spend lots of cash--especially as Lala gives uncanny readings. But lately Lala's been questioning whether there might be more to life than her upcoming arranged marriage. And the day she reads Ben's cards is the day that everything changes for her. . . and for him.

Disclaimer: I obtained a copy of Burning from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I was intrigued by the cover and description for Burning when I found it on Netgalley so I gave it a shot and was approved for a copy. I read the first couple pages and was completely hooked. If it weren't for work, I would have read the entire thing in one sitting. Right now, I'm really drawn in by novels featuring split perspective. It's like two novels in one when you experience two characters.

ARC giveaway: The Moon and More

Check HERE for open giveaways

How much have you missed having a new Sarah Dessen book in your life? The good news is that the wait is almost over, and for one of you lucky readers, it'll be over even sooner because I'm giving away an arc of The Moon and More!

"Luke is the perfect boyfriend: handsome, kind, fun. He and Emaline have been together all through high school in Colby, the beach town where they both grew up. But now, in the summer before college, Emaline wonders if perfect is good enough.

Enter Theo, a super-ambitious outsider, a New Yorker assisting on a documentary film about a reclusive local artist. Theo's sophisticated, exciting, and, best of all, he thinks Emaline is much too smart for Colby.

Emaline's mostly-absentee father, too, thinks Emaline should have a bigger life, and he's convinced that an Ivy League education is the only route to realizing her potential. Emaline is attracted to the bright future that Theo and her father promise. But she also clings to the deep roots of her loving mother, stepfather, and sisters. Can she ignore the pull of the happily familiar world of Colby?

Emaline wants the moon and more, but how can she balance where she comes from with where she's going?"

Details: Runs from today until midnight Friday (EST). Open to US/Canada only. All entries will be verified!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Weekly Wrap-Up: May 19-25

The Killer's Cousin - Nancy Werlin. 3 stars. Weird. Interesting concept, but...weird.
Breaking Point (Article 5 #2) - Kristen Simmons. 4 stars. Definitely will review.
Twisted Perfection (Perfection #1) - Abbi Glines. 3 stars. Woods is one of my favorites of Abbi's boys, but I wasn't impressed with the story. Kinda typical Abbi Glines.
Sleepaway Girls - Jen Calonita: 4 stars. Very cute. Jen's books are darling.

Currently Reading:
Burning - Elana K. Arnold
Winger - Andrew Smith
Levitating Las Vegas - Jennifer Echols
Beauty Queens audiotape - written and narrated by Libba Bray. Definitely will review this one!

New to my bookshelf this week:
School Spirits - Rachel Hawkins: total impulse buy. Saw it at Half Price Books and had to have it. The library is being rather slow with its copies.
Burning - Elana K. Arnold: Finally took the plunge and joined netgalley. This is my first title and I'm really liking it so far!
Pretty Dark Nothing - Heather L. Reid: went to Heather's debut party on Wednesday so expect recap and giveaway this week!

I'm really trying to clear out my shelves. I have so many library books and arcs from TLA that I'm still trying to get through!

Review: The Book of Broken Hearts by Sarah Ockler

Rating: 4/5 stars
Pub Date: May 21, 2013
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Genre: young adult contemporary romance
Format/Source: ARC obtained at TLA 2013 conference
Status: Standalone

Jude has learned a lot from her older sisters, but the most important thing is this: The Vargas brothers are notorious heartbreakers. She’s seen the tears and disasters that dating a Vargas boy can cause, and she swore an oath—with candles and a contract and everything—to never have anything to do with one.

Now Jude is the only sister still living at home, and she’s spending the summer helping her ailing father restore his vintage motorcycle—which means hiring a mechanic to help out. Is it Jude’s fault he happens to be cute? And surprisingly sweet? And a Vargas?

Jude tells herself it’s strictly bike business with Emilio. Her sisters will never find out, and Jude can spot those flirty little Vargas tricks a mile away—no way would she fall for them. But Jude’s defenses are crumbling, and if history is destined to repeat itself, she’s speeding toward some serious heartbreak…unless her sisters were wrong?

Jude may have taken an oath, but she’s beginning to think that when it comes to love, some promises might be worth breaking.

I really have to hand it to Sarah Ockler. She practices what she preaches. I was surprised when I realized that Broken Hearts's heroine Jude is from an Argentinian family and love interest Emilio is Puerto Rican. Why the surprise? Well, honestly, because the majority ya fiction is about white kids, to be completely honest. Then a few months ago, I stumbled on Sarah's beautifully written blog post Race in YA Lit: Wake Up & Smell the Coffee-Colored Skin, White Authors!, which is completely inspired and brilliant as it scolds us all to include more racial diversity in our reading and writing without just throwing in a stereotypical flat character to break up the monotony and appease the masses. Brava, Sarah!

Weekly Wrap-Up: May 12-18

It's summer so I just wanted to read some light summer-y contemporaries. Also, Abbi Glines's books were on sale.

Because of Low (Sea Breeze #2) - Abbi Glines: 4 stars
While It Lasts (Sea Breeze #3) - Abbi Glines: 4 stars
Just for Now (Sea Breeze #4) - Abbi Glines: 3 stars
The Book of Broken Hearts - Sarah Ockler: 4 stars
Fallen Too Far (Too Far #1) - Abbi Glines: 3 stars
Never Too Far (Too Far #2) - Abbi Glines: 3 stars

Currently Reading:
Levitating Las Vegas (Levitating Las Vegas #1) - Jennifer Echols
Winger - Andrew Smith
Breaking Point (Article 5 #2) - Kristen Simmons
House of Night: Legacy - PC & Kristen Cast

New to my bookshelf this week:
Eleanor & Park - Rainbow Rowell
Sleepover Girls - Jen Calonita

Listmania Monday: Collaboration

Anyone else notice the sudden growth spurt of author collaborations? Not anthologies or things like that, but regular novels written by two or more authors, usually very well known/best-selling authors at that. Personally, I dig it as long as it doesn't cut into any solo writing projects (I'm talking to you, Cassie Clare! You've promised me a full decade of shadowhunter novels in addition to the Magisterium!). After beloved childhood authors Ann M. Martin and Paula Danziger pulled together to create the oh-so-relatable P.S. Longer Letter Later and Snail Mail No More (I'll never look at cheetos the same again), I was hooked on co-authored books. When I met David Levithan at TLA, he told me that doing co-authored projects is a way that he can find time to write and edit as he still maintains his publisher/editor position with Scholastic. However, I know there must be plenty of cynics who believe this is a publisher-pushed ploy to empty our wallets faster. What do you think? Cool creative venture or money-making scheme? Do you have any author duos you'd love to write a book together? Let me know in the comments!

The Bane Chronicles - Cassandra Clare, Sarah Rees Brennan, Maureen Johnson
The Blackwell Pages - Kelley Armstrong & Melissa Marr (using pen names K.L. Armstrong and M.A. Marr to not confuse different readership demographics)
Caster Chronicles series - Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl
Dash & Lily's Book of Dares - Rachel Cohn & David Levithan
Invisibility - Andrea Cremer & David Levithan
Magisterium Series - Holly Black & Cassandra Clare
Naomi & Ely's No-Kiss List - Rachel Cohn & David Levithan
Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist - Rachel Cohn & David Levithan
P.S. Longer Letter Later/Snail Mail No More - Ann M. Martin & Paula Danziger
Will Grayson, Will Grayson - John Green & David Levithan

Weekly Wrap-Up: May 5-11

A couple days late in posting this as I was distracted by both paintballing and Mothers' Day this weekend.

Elegy (Hereafter #1) - Tara Hudson: 4 stars. I cried. You probably will too. Review forthcoming.

Currently Reading:
Levitating Las Vegas (Levitating Las Vegas #1) - Jennifer Echols. This ebook-only new adult debut really is a perfect cross between Jennifer's ya dramas and her adult novel Star Crossed.
Winger - Andrew Smith. Ryan Dean reminds me SO MUCH of John Green's protagonists.
Breaking Point (Article 5 #2) - Kristen Simmons.

New to my bookshelf this week:
Awaken (Abandon #3) - Meg Cabot. EEEK! Scholastic sent me a lovely arc of the finale of John & Pearce's story. Can't wait to start this one!
Mila 2.0 (Mila 2.0 #1) - Debra Driza. I've heard such great things!
Spellcaster (Spellcaster #1) - Claudia Gray
True (Elixir #3) - Hilary Duff
all of Abbi Glines's published Sea Breeze novels, except Breathe, which isn't out in the format I want until June

Spring Into the Future tour: Dallas stop recap + Giveaway

Check HERE for open giveaways

A few weeks ago, I was delighted to discover that Veronica Rossi, Cynthia Hand, and Tahereh Mafi were going on tour again and adding Eve trilogy author Anna Carey to the lineup. Plus, this coincided nicely with the end of TLA as I had an hour to make the short drive from the Ft. Worth convention center to the Hurst Barnes & Noble, eat, and generally relax after such a tiring but exhilerating conference. The ladies did a nice long Q&A session (with plenty of mentions of Chapter 62) followed by a signing. Since I already met Veronica, Cynthia, and Tahereh and had them sign my personal copies of their books, I had plenty of time to have them sign giveaway copies!

Q&A + contest details under the cut! Let me just say that this Q&A was AMAZING. The authors were a little late and kind of flustered from traffic, but they didn't let it faze them at all. They were so warm and friendly and chock full of great stories and advice. This is definitely worth a read.

Review: If I Should Die by Amy Plum

Check HERE for open giveaways
Rating: 4 stars
Pub Date: May 7, 2013
Publisher: HarperTeen
Genre: Young adult paranormal romance (sub genre: zombies)
Format/Source: ARC, obtained at TLA
Status: Book 3 of the Revenants trilogy (aka The End)

I will not lose another person I love. I will not let history repeat itself.

Vincent waited lifetimes to find me, but in an instant our future together was shattered. He was betrayed by someone we both called a friend, and I lost him. Now our enemy is determined to rule over France’s immortals, and willing to wage a war to get what they want.

It shouldn’t be possible, none of it should be, but this is my reality. I know Vincent is somewhere out there, I know he’s not completely gone, and I will do anything to save him.

After what we’ve already fought to achieve, a life without Vincent is unimaginable. He once swore to avoid dying—to go against his nature and forsake sacrificing himself for others—so that we could be together. How can I not risk everything to bring my love back to me?

First, let me state that I was given an advanced copy of If I Should Die by the publisher at TLA last week, and in exchange, I'm reviewing it.

Second, if you have not already, get your butt over to Epic Reads ASAP. Why? Well, duh, they posted the first 84 pages, of course! And yeah, there's some squishy-feeling-inducing-squee-worthy moments in that excerpt. Come back when you're finished and have sufficiently cooled down. I'll wait.


Welcome back! Now, since this is the final book in the Revenants trilogy, and I'm going to mention moments from the first two books and the shorts, I'm just going to stick the whole thing under the cut so as to not spoil moments for anyone who has been living under a rock and hasn't read any of the books yet. IISD spoilers will be at a minimum.

Weekly Wrap-Up: April 28 - May 4

Not a lot of reading done this week. Mostly sleeping. :)

If I Should Die (Revenants #3) - Amy Plum: 4 stars
The Lightning Thief: The Graphic Novel (Percy Jackson Graphic Novels #1) - Rick Riordan: 2 stars. I just don't really like the art. There's something off about the human faces that I don't enjoy

Currently Reading:
Elegy (Hereafter #3) - Tara Hudson

New to my bookshelf this week:
NONE! I'm trying to clear out my bookshelf since I just picked up so many new reads at TLA.

Monthly Wrap-up: April

List of April reads

Jen Calonita - Broadway Lights (Secrets of My Hollywod Life #5)
Cassandra Clare & Sarah Rees Brennan - "What Really Happened in Peru" (Bane Chronicles #1)
Eoin Colfer - The Supernaturalist: The Graphic Novel
Lauren DeStefano - Sever (Chemical Garden #3)
Abbi Glines - The Vincent Brothers (Vincent Boys #2)
Miranda Kenneally - Things I Can't Forget (Hundred Oaks #3)
Tahereh Mafi - Unravel Me (Shatter Me #2)
Erin McCahan - I Now Pronounce You Someone Else
Marissa Meyer - Cinder (Lunar Chronicles #1)
Stephenie Meyer - The Host (The Host #1)
Amy Plum - "Die for Her" (Revenants #2.5) 
                  - If I Should Die (Revenants #3)
Rick Riordan - The Lightning Thief: The Graphic Novel (Percy Jackson Graphic Novels #1)
Kristen Simmons - Article 5 (Article 5 #1)
Joss, Zack & Jed Whedon, Maurissa Tancharoen -  Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog Book
Brenna Yovanoff - Paper Valentine