Friday, April 29, 2011

Giveaway: 4 Books = 4 Winners

I have had a blast getting to know the Class of 2K11 so I want to give you a chance to read some of the books from these great authors.

4 Books = 4 Winners

ARC Pub 5.10.11
Signed Finished Copy
Finished Copy Pub 5.8.11
ARC Pub 5.10.11

  • Giveaway ends 05/05/11
  • 4 Books = 4 Winners
  • US and Canada Only due to shipping expense (sorry)
  • Following is always appreciated but not required
  • Must be 13 years or older to enter. 
  • If you win and are under 18 must be mailed to your parent or legal guardian  
  • Winner will be notified by email and has 48 hours to reply
  • For an extra entry tweet about the giveaway. Must provide direct link.

Giveaway closed

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Review: Divergent by Veronica Roth

Divergent by Veronica Roth

Rating: 5 of 5 Stars x 100

Release Date: 05/03/11

I will say that Divergent is the best dystopian novel since Hunger Games! You know I’m not one to compare books to Twilight or Hunger Games because let’s face it very few books match up, but Divergent deserves a spot next to Hunger Games! Another fascinating fact is Divergent is Veronica Roth’s debut novel!

Divergent is set in Chicago sometime in the future where everyone is divided into factions and at sixteen each person takes an aptitude test with a recommendation of what faction you should go into. Most stay in the faction they were born into but on rare occasions people will be transferred. If you decide to transfer you choose to leave your family behind and start a new life. The motto is faction before blood.

Beatrice shortly finds out that choosing a faction is only the beginning of a hard journey and while going through initiation she discovers how ruthless people can be to get to the top. She wonders who is really a friend and whether she can really trust anyone especially as she starts to excel. Something Beatrice never expected was to find a connection with a guy who challenges her, protects her, and yet sends her all sorts of mixed signals.

To tell you I loved this book is an understatement! I finished Divergent the same day I started it and am looking forward to re-reading it many times over. I'm excited to see that Goodreads list Divergent as one in a series of at least three books. Veronica Roth will be on the HarperTeen Dark Days tour and will be stopping in Texas so I’m looking forward to meeting her. Trust me when I say this is one book you don’t want to miss!

To learn more about Veronica Roth visit:

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Review: OyMG by Amy Fellner Dominy

OYMG by Amy Fellner Dominy

Rating: 5 of 5 Stars

I went into OyMG not sure what to expect and what I got was fun, cute and a fresh voice. OyMG is about a Jewish girl named Ellie who attends a summer program at Christian Society Speech and Performing Arts (CSSP). Ellie goes in determined to be the best and get a scholarship to stay in CSSP.

Ellie’s father is Lutheran but mother is Jewish and they are both supportive of Ellie’s choice to attend CSSP. Ellie’s grandfather who is very sweet but speaks his mind about making sure that Ellie doesn’t lose her way at CSSP. Zeydeh (grandfather in Yiddish) lives a few houses down and is usually the one who cooks dinner every night. He jokes that if the Christian school tries to sprinkle water on her to run. Zeydeh is currently obsessed with winning a cooking contest with his matzo ball soup and while Ellie doesn’t understand why she fully supports him.

While Ellie finds some of the Christian traditions strange she hopes to fit in when it comes to the speech tournament. Ellie can normally argue anything but she manages to freeze when she is paired up with Devon. Devon is not only hot but connected to the donor who gives out the scholarships. Ellie hasn’t had the best luck with guys so she isn’t sure if she’s more annoyed with the fact that Devon wins the first few debates or smitten with his sparkling blue eyes. To make life even more complicated Ellie finds out that the donor dislikes Jewish people and makes a quick decision to hide who she really is. Ellie finds herself in a web of lies and finally her grandfather decides to out her. Ellie must decide if giving up so much of herself is worth winning the scholarship.

OyMG is Amy Fellner Dominy’s debut novel which is out May 11, 2011. Dominy breaks the YA stereotypes with great families who are involved in their children’s lives and will leave you smiling. I see movie potential written all over OyMG so pre-order your copy because this is one you won’t want to miss.

You can find Amy Fellner Dominy online at:

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Want to win a copy of Haunted by Joy Preble?

The answer is yes! Check out Joy's blog where she is talking about TLA and giving away a copy of her book! Hurry contest ends in two days!

Review: Blood Magic by Tessa Gratton

Blood Magic by Tessa Gratton

Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

Release Date: 5/24/11

Going into Blood Magic I had really high expectations. See Maggie Stiefvater blurbed the book and Tessa is part of Merry Sister's of Fate so I figured a book with Maggie's seal of approval had to be a great book and Tessa Gratton delivered. Blood Magic is told from two points of views and a third if you include a journal.

Magic like any other substance can be addictive and sometimes is to powerful to contain. Most spells either wear out the person casting the spell or give them an incredible high. Some will kill for it and others want it gone because they can't control it. One afternoon Silla comes home to find both her parents dead. Her father murdered her mother then killed himself. They live in a small town where this is the most gruesome crime ever committed. Silla is certain there has to be some other explanation and then a book arrives. The book is a spell book with a note from someone who was friends with her father. He claims that her father studied magic and Silla believes this might be the answer she is looking for.

The journal is by a woman named Josephine in 1904 and continues until present time. Josephine learned magic from a man named Philip. Josephine at first just wanted to learn from Philip but the more magic she experienced the more she realized that she and Philip were perfect together. Philip on the other hand did not feel the same way. Over time Josephine's feelings manifested into insanity and that only grew as the years went on. She started possessing a girl Philip was interested in and had no remorse in stalking him. She even went as far as to put potions in his food. I know this sounds weird but I love how crazy Josephine was and couldn't wait to see what she would do next.

Silla takes the book to her parents grave to test out a spell and see if it's a real spell or simply a sick joke. While at the gravesite she realizes that she is able to perform magic and at the same time she discovers she has a new neighbor. Nick sees Silla perform magic, but instead of freaking out and running away it triggers a lost memory in him. Together they will discover how to use the magic and what really happened to Silla's parents. The love story is simply divine but everything comes with a price. Blood Magic captured me from the start and I kept thinking what is beyond the next page, which I believe is the key to any good story. Blood Magic is Tessa Gratton's debut novel and comes out later this month.

Monday, April 18, 2011

If You Were Here by Jen Lancaster

One of my favorite authors Jen Lancaster is coming out with her first fiction novel titled If You Were Here and in typical Jen fashion here is a great video about her new book. If You Were Here will be released May 3rd.

About the book:

Told in the uproariously entertaining voice readers have come to expect from Jen Lancaster, If You Were Here follows Amish-zombie-teen- romance author Mia and her husband Mac (and their pets) through the alternately frustrating, exciting, terrifying-but always funny-process of buying and renovating their first home in the Chicago suburbs that John hughes's movies made famous. Along their harrowing renovation journey, Mia and Mac get caught up in various wars with the homeowners' association, meet some less-than-friendly neighbors, and are joined by a hilarious cast of supporting characters, including a celebutard ex- landlady. As they struggle to adapt to their new surroundings- with Mac taking on the renovations himself- Mia and Mac will discover if their marriage is strong enough to survive months of DIY renovations.

Previous Works:

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Book Trailer: Enclave by Ann Aguirre

Hi Readers,

Take a look at this amazing trailer for Enclave by Ann Aguirre. I am dying to read Enclave and have heard nothing but great things about it. Enclave is in stores today so go out and get your copy! What are your thoughts?

Description from goodreads:
New York City has been decimated by war and plague, and most of civilization has migrated to underground enclaves, where life expectancy is no more than the early 20's. When Deuce turns 15, she takes on her role as a Huntress, and is paired with Fade, a teenage Hunter who lived Topside as a young boy. When she and Fade discover that the neighboring enclave has been decimated by the tunnel monsters—or Freaks—who seem to be growing more organized, the elders refuse to listen to warnings. And when Deuce and Fade are exiled from the enclave, the girl born in darkness must survive in daylight, in the ruins of a city whose population has dwindled to a few dangerous gangs. As the two are guided by Fade’s long-ago memories, they face dangers, and feelings, unlike any they’ve ever known.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Class of 2K11 Winner

Sorry I have taken so long to post this but the winner of the 2K11 giveaway is Onge!  Onge has won their choice of book published by Class of 2K11.  Thank you to all 89 people who entered and remember to check back soon for the next giveaway!

The winner has 48 hours to reply with mailing address and book choice if not a new winner will be selected.

Thanks again,

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Interview with Amy Holder

I would like to welcome author Amy Holder. Amy wrote the super funny novel The Lipstick Laws and is also part of the Class of 2K11. I was dying to ask Amy questions about her and all things Lipstick Laws.

Can you tell us a little about Lipstick Laws?
THE LIPSTICK LAWS is a humorous coming-of-age story about popularity gone wrong. It also delves into issues such as bullying, body image and peer pressure. April, the main character and narrator, is a quirky, curly-haired, flat-as-a-board sophomore who has a peculiar addiction to Kleenex… but you’ll have to read the book to find out more.

How did you come up with so many slang terms?
Most people don’t know this, but I’m actually certified in Slang Come-uppery. Slang Come-uppery is a phonetic science that comes in useful in certain situations… like when I want to confuse the heck out of someone in a serious conversation. I believe the knack for creating random words was probably passed down by my grandfather who coined the terms finorken, frapner, and weboflitz, among other things. My family is filled with crazy word lovers, so it’s probably in my genes.

What was your inspiration for this book?
My inspiration came from the trauma of my own teen years. Okay, they weren’t that bad. Really, most of the inspiration came from April, my main character. I started free-writing in her voice and the whole story evolved from there. I knew I wanted to write a humorous story about the ups and downs of high school and the social hierarchies within it, and April’s character really helped make that happen.

If you were in high school would you be Team Britney or Team April and why?
I’d be Team April all the way! That’s mostly because I like chocolate and sweatpants too much to ever be able to follow the Lipstick Laws. Also, I could picture myself being friends with April much more than Britney.

There are Seven Lipstick Laws. Which one would you have broken?
Oh boy, I’m sure I’d break all of them at some point or another…. but I’d probably break Lipstick Law 2 (the fashion law) pretty quickly because although I love fashion and dressing up, I also love my cozy sweats. Lipstick Law 3 (the weight law) would also be pretty difficult to follow because my weight fluctuates like the weather. Sad but true.

If you had to get back at a mean girl what would you do?
Although I’d love to say something ultra clever and scheme-worthy here, I really think success is the best revenge! There’s nothing more satisfying than succeeding at something and leaving your naysayers or bullies in the dust behind you.

If you were in High School which of the two guys would you have dated Matt or Delvin?
I confess, I probably would have gone for Matt as a teen because I would have been much more interested in his looks and suaveness over Delvin’s geek-factor. However, as an adult looking back, Delvin would be my guy! Delvin is sweet, smart, and respectful, which are all qualities that are so much more important than looks in the long run.

What is your next project and where can people find you?
I’m finishing up another humorous YA story with a bit of a paranormal twist. I’ve also been considering a Lipstick Laws sequel. We’ll see… If you’d like to learn more about me, my book(s), or upcoming events, please visit my author website at

Lipstick Laws is in stores now so pick up a copy. I would like to thank Amy for taking time to visit! Click giveaways for details on how to win one of the Class of 2K11 novels including The Lipstick Laws.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Teen Book Con 2011

Houston TeenBookcon April 9, 2011

Booklovers all over Houston have a reason to celebrate! Librarians in the greater Houston area who want to celebrate and promote reading by connecting teens with authors have organized TeenBookcon.

Author Deb Caletti will be the keynote speaker at the event. Also speaking and signing Brent Crawford, Andrea Cremer, Gail Giles, Rachel Hawkins, Ellen Hopkins, Stacey Kade, Lindsey Leavitt, Saundra Mitchell, Lauren Myracle, Blake Nelson, R. A. Nelson, Stephanie Perkins, Joy Preble, Elizabeth Scott, Kristen Tracy, and Brian Yansky. Graphic novelists Mark Crilley, Misako Rocks, Raina Telgemeier, and Doug TenNapel will also be at the event.

Greater Houston TeenBookCon, to be held at Alief Taylor High School, 7555 Howell‐Sugar Land Rd, Houston, TX 77083 from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, April 9th. The event is free and will be promoted throughout the Greater Houston area and across several counties.

Blue Willow Bookshop is the official bookseller of TeenBookCon. All featured authors’ books will be available for purchase. Buy books at the festival and have them signed by your favorite authors at the end of the day!

For more information visit:

Monday, April 4, 2011

Interview with Carole Estby Dagg

I would like to welcome the lovely Carole Estby Dagg to my blog.  Carole is part of the Class of 2K11 and has written The Year We Were Famous which is out today.  I hope you enjoy the interview and remember to pick up a copy.  Thank you Carole for visiting!

Can you tell us a little about your book:

The Year We Were Famous is based on the true story of Clara Estby and her suffragist mother who packed satchels with compass, maps, first-aid supplies, journals, pistol, and curling iron. Their goals: to walk four thousand miles from Washington State to New York City by November 30, 1896 to win a $10,000 wager that would save the family’s farm – and to prove women could do it.

What genre would you say your book is and how did you choose it?

I started out to write a non-fiction book about the walk, but even as a librarian I couldn't find enough information. The facts were sparse, but what fodder for the imagination! One-liners from newspaper articles included reference to having to shoot a man who threatened them, hanging onto bushes to avoid being swept away in a flash flood, meeting president-elect McKinley in his home, and demonstrating their curling iron to Indians they camped with. I went to plan B: historical fiction.

Did you find it difficult to write about your family? Will the reaction to audience feel even more personal than characters you make up?

 I could have my made-up people do or say anything, but I was much more circumspect with Great-aunt Clara and Great-grandmother Helga, especially in my early drafts. I finally pushed through the reluctance to attach dialog and feelings to them by thinking of them as more than just Helga and Clara – they were iconic representatives of the New American Woman.

How much of the book is fiction?

Clara and Helga were real. The walk was real. All the adventures were inspired by brief references in newspaper articles, but I made up the details. I also made up people such as Clara’s suitors, reporters, people they stayed with, and Miss Waterson to bridge plot gaps and connect the dots between known facts.

You did a lot of research hoping that one day you would write a book. Did you ever feel like giving up or think you should stop collecting? How much of that research became useful?

I put off writing for several years while I collected more and more information, and finally faced the truth: I was afraid to write. That’s why I became a librarian instead of setting to be a writer fifty years ago. But just
because I didn’t know how to write a book from the beginning didn’t mean I couldn’t learn, so I took classes, joined SCBWI, attended workshops, and began to fill spiral notebooks with doodles and drafts.

I was rejected 29 times over a period of eleven years, but I considered each rejection as a sign that I needed more practice. Sometimes I put the manuscript away for a month or two before tackling it again, but I was always thinking about it. What kept me going besides my inherited Norwegian stubbornness was the thought that because of the way their trip ended, all the notes for the book Clara and her mother intended to write were destroyed. I was obsessed with reconstructing the book they never wrote.

Carole's writing space
Ninety-five, maybe ninety-nine per-cent of the research is still in my head or in the filing cabinet and never made it to the book. It was still worth it, though, because it helped draw me into Clara’s world and influenced my writing in subtle ways.

Which part would you say you enjoy more? (Reading, Writing, Research)

Background reading is the most reliably fun. Research can play out like a treasure hunt and is also fun. On a good day when the muse is with me, writing is beyond fun—like a runner’s high, perhaps? Unfortunately there are more plodding days than muse-inspired days, but you don’t know which days are going to lift you to the clouds until you make yourself sit down and write.

From all the research how did you narrow down what would go into the book?

During my early drafts when I had all that research in the front of my brain, I scattered big clumps of it everywhere. Periodically I would review the research that pertained to a scene and revised until I was using the research to enter the scene with Clara but writing in only the bits I needed to move her through the action.

If you had to convince someone to pick up your book what would you say to them?

Back in 1896, Clara Estby and her mother were so desperate to save their farm that they walked an average of 25 miles a day for 232 days, stopping only to earn money to replace their shoes or the clothes on their backs. The traveled with just what would fit in small satchels—not even a change of clothes or a blanket—and depended on Providence, the kindness of strangers, and each other to survive.

Carole's website with more historical background:

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Review: Here Lies Bridget

Here Lies Bridget by Paige Harbison

Rating: 3 of 5 Stars

This is the first book I have ever read where the mean girl is the main character and Bridget makes most mean girls seem tame. There were so many times where I wanted to call her on her crap or just reach through the book and smack her. I know, I know, violence doesn't solve anything but if you met Bridget you might reconsider. See, Bridget never felt remorse for any of her evil ways like when she spread a rumor that her teacher and step-mom were having an affair to explain why she was always late to class. The rumor gets her teacher fired and Bridget doesn't worry what it would do to her step-mother's reputation. Seems like when anything bad happens she makes an excuse for her bad behavior and blames it on everyone else.

For about half of the book it's all about Britney the tyrant and then she does the unthinkable. Bridget is hurtful to everyone in her life and when she realizes her friends and family along with the rest of the school is sick of her she decides to leave school and figures if she crashes and dies they will all be sorry for how they treated her. Bridget thinks about the media coverage she would get, what her funeral would be like, who will feel bad about what led her to her death.....SELFISH!!! How about an apology! How about taking credit for the horrible acts you have done!

Bridget does learn that life and death aren't easy and that you must own up to all the things you do in life. Paige Harbison does a great job of making Bridget hateful but not so much so where you want to quit the book. I really enjoyed the concept of this book but only wish the second part of the book had been more emotional and drawn out. For those who have read it you will understand and for those who haven't well it would be a major spoiler. I look forward to more books from Paige Harrison in the future.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Interview with Angie Smibert

I'm very excited to introduce Angie Smibert author of Memento Nora. Memento Nora is the first book I gave a five star in 2011. Angie is part of the Class of 2K11 and her novel is dystopian with a science fiction twist. Please welcome Angie!

How did you come up with the concept for Memento Nora?
The idea came from current research in the area of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. I read a few articles about researchers using drugs to lessen the impact of traumatic memories on PTSD sufferers. (The idea looks promising, btw.) I took it a step further. My drug would erase the memory—and be available at little Starbuck’s / frozen yogurt-style places on every corner.

How did this evolve from a short story?
I wrote the short story, “Memento Nora,” for Odyssey magazine (June 2008 issue). The short story is about Nora’s first trip to TFC. After the story appeared, I started thinking about what Nora would have done after spitting out the pill. I did have to frame the novel a little differently than the short story (as well as introduce other points of view), but the first two chapters are essentially the same as the short story.

Did you find it difficult to tell such a powerful story in less than 200 pages?
I think I’m a naturally lean writer. I don’t like huge chunks of exposition unless it’s really, really interesting or told in a great voice. So, most of my world-building is woven in among the dialogue and action. Also, since I framed the book as a series of confessions (or therapeutic statements), I gave myself a built-in limitation. If you’re confessing something, you don’t necessarily do much exposition.

Micah isn’t your typical moody guy but his actions can be dangerous. How did you decide what he would be like?
Micah is (very) loosely inspired by someone I know. Micah is how I imagined this friend might have been as teenager—if he’d been homeless and living in the future. At least that’s where I started with Micah. He grew as the story did.

Nora makes the first move which is interesting. How does this go against her character from before she met Micah and how does she differ from other girls in YA?
You’re right. Before she saw what she saw and heard what she heard, Nora wouldn’t have dreamed of making the first move, especially toward Micah. The old Nora was concerned about appearances and belonging to the right crowd. The new Nora, which is only in part due to her association with Micah and Winter, takes things more into own hands.

In Memento Nora you pay tribute to MLK why did you choose him?
Some of the landmarks in the book are based on real places (like the MLK pedestrian bridge, Black Dog Salvage, and the street names) in Roanoke. I imagined Hamilton, the city Nora lives in, to be a much bigger version of Roanoke and much closer to Washington, DC.

Who is your favorite side character that you hope readers relate to or really love?
I’m pretty fond of Koji Yamada—Winter’s grandfather-- too. Who wouldn’t want a ninja grandpa?

What made you choose the word Glossy?
I wanted a slang word that captured Nora’s and her world’s fascination with shiny newness and feeling good. Glossy seemed to work. Everything needs to glossy like a magazine or a news anchor’s hair. Also, when we gloss over something, we’re putting a pretty shine on something to make it deceptively attractive.

Is there an inspiration behind Winter’s art?
Several. I have some of Winter’s inspirations on my book site ( They include actual kinetic sculptures and a Honda Accord ad. Also, my great uncle was an artist. I only met him a few times, but I have this distinct memory of a Rube Goldberg device he’d built in his basement (or maybe it was his garden). A Rube Goldberg device is one of those machines that takes 55 steps to do something really simple like make toast. (The Honda ad, btw, is a Rube Goldberg device.) That’s what gave me the idea to make all of her kinetic sculptures work together to achieve something.

Why do people keep going back to TFC to forget? Is it easier to forget?
Yes. Sometimes, it’s easier to forget the bad than deal with it. And sometimes you do need to forget to be able to move on with your life. Plus, in this world, you can earn frequent forgetting points every time you do forget.

Can you tell us a little about what you have planned for the next book?
Right now, the title of book 2 is the Forgetting Curve. It’s scheduled to come out in Spring 2012. This one will be more Winter-centric, and I’m introducing a new character. And a minor character from book 1 will take a more prominent role.

How many books do you see in this series?
I’m not sure yet.

As a teen

With the Class of 2k11 we are going back to high school. So I have a few questions for you.

What was high school like for you?
Oh, I was a bit of nerd—with some streaks of the inner rebel. I was in dorky things like the Latin Club and the National Honor society. I was also an editor of the school newspaper. I listened to punk and new wave music. I didn’t really fit neatly into one clique, but I had friends in most of them.

Would you have taken the pill to forget?
Probably not. I might have put anything juicy I remembered or found out in the school newspaper, though.

Were you a reader in High School? If so what book was your favorite?
I’ve always been a big reader. I discovered science fiction and fantasy in early high school. One of my favorites at the time was Dune by Frank Herbert. I probably read it a few times. Also, I loved the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

In Memento Nora commercials customize to you. What commercials would be shown for you?
Food. Coffee. (I’m actually writing this in a coffee shop.) Gadgets. And, of course, books.

I want to thank Angie for visiting and Memento Nora is in stores today so make sure to get a copy!

For more on Angie visit: