Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Interview and Giveaway with Jen Calonita

Today I'm talking to Jen Calonita about SUMMER STATE OF MINE. I'm a big fan of Jen's earlier books like Secrets of my Hollywood Life and SLEEPAWAY GIRLS. I loved SUMMER STATE OF MIND and actually read it in about two days when I should have been doing homework. Review coming soon!

Where did the inspiration for SUMMER STATE OF MIND come from?
I always thought the character people would want more of was Kaitlin Burke (from Secrets of My Hollywood Life), but it was actually not a character, but a camp that people would write me about! I got so many emails about Whispering Pines —is it a real camp? How do I apply to be a CIT? Would you recommend going away to sleepaway camp? I couldn’t believe how much readers enjoyed Whispering Pines and all its activities. Whispering Pines is a camp I made up for the book, but it’s based on a number of camps I visited as well as a day camp I worked at as a teen. I didn’t get to go to sleepaway camp as a teen, but when I was researching SLEEPAWAY GIRLS, all I could think was “why didn’t I go to camp?” It seemed so fun. Being away from family and friends, getting to be a whole new person and meet new friends, going to campfires, doing camp pranks, spending my days swimming or doing camp activities—what a way to spend the summer! I couldn’t wait to get back to camp so I was thrilled when Poppy said I could have another spin at Whispering Pines. We decided on a companion rather than a sequel so that we could meet all campers and still hang with some of the older ones readers remembered.

Can we agree that being 15 is hard enough? Now Harper goes from normal girl to being wealthy and starting a whole new life. What are some of her methods for coping?
I KNOW, RIGHT? Harper is actually based on a family I know that this happened to. To go from a regular home and a normal life to a mansion in a wealthy neighborhood and a new private school seems amazing, but also difficult--especially when you’re 15! I kept wondering how the girl I knew survived. I watched her change from this sweet, good-natured person to someone who cared more about labels and money than her friends and I kept thinking, if I were one of her old friends, how would I talk some sense into her? That’s how Harper was born. Shipping a girl like Harper off to sleepaway camp without any luxuries from home seemed both fitting and hilarious!

In YA we always hear about the stereotypical bad parents. What are Harper’s parents like?
I love Harper’s parents. I’ve written about a momager (Kaitlin’s mom from SECRETS), a girl who was raised by her grandmother (Izzie in BELLES) and a single mom (Sam’s in SLEEPAWAY GIRLS). What’s so funny about that is my parents have been happily married for over 35 years! It seemed time to have a character who has two very involved parents and what I love about Harper’s dad is that he’s been in Harper’s shoes—he came from no money and then came into money and he didn’t change. So when he sees Harper becoming someone she shouldn’t be, he immediately wants to help her with that. He’s a camp guy himself so he loves the idea of her going and Harper’s mom is pretty cool too so she’s on board with it as well. I like them being a united front!

I love that there is always a bit of fashion in your book. Tell me what are some of Harper’s favorite looks or designers?
I can picture Harper tearing pages out of Harper’s Bazaar and Teen Vogue and hanging them up in her room! She is a fashion plate so she loves all designers and is always up for trying new ones. I see her in a lot of Stella McCartney and Chloe.

What are Harper’s thoughts when a boy pretty much sees her as superficial?
That really bothers her because it’s the first time that she realizes her life has become this bubble of money, fashion, and friends who, well, only care about money too! She was not that person in the past and in her own mind she’s still not. Him seeing her differently makes her realize she might have changed…not that she’s ready to admit that yet!

Harper has a twin brother. What were some of the funniest moments between the two?
I always wanted a twin brother! Always! I thought it would be so fun to have a guy’s point of view on things and to have my back. There’s a lot of teasing that goes on to, I assume, and that’s what I do to Harper and her twin—let them constantly

About Jen:

Favorite genre that you like read?
Realistic, contemporary YA. Chick lit for adult. These are the genres I gravitate towards the most.

What is the one fashion item you could not live without?
I’m not sure it’s a fashion item, but I live in ballet flats. I tend to write about my characters wearing them too!

Since your book is called SUMMER STATE OF MIND I want to know if you have any fun summer plans?
This summer, for the first summer ever, we are joining friends in getting a cabana at a beach on Long Island. We’re so excited because it means we can leave our gear at the beach and we also have a pool there, our own shower and area for a fridge and a table. I’ve always wanted to live at the beach—this may be the closest I get to doing that!

A few things caught my attention. First I think Little Brown did an amazing job with the cover. Second the Dedication is really sweet. When you are writing do you think “My family is going to read this” someday?
Thank you! I LOVE the cover too. I think they really captured the beauty of summer and camp in that shot. I love the designer too—it’s the same designer who has done Jen E. Smith’s covers (a fellow Poppy girl). I love doing dedications and always think a lot about who they are going to be for. I look forward to the day I can read my books with my nieces and my boys (if they’ll read anything this girly!)

To learn more about Jen Calonita visit: http://jencalonitaonline.com/

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014


If you have been a long time follower of my blog, then you know that one of my all time favorite authors is Kimberly Derting. I was beyond excited when I was contacted to be part of Kim's blog tour.

About the Book:
The Taking Coming April 29, 2014 from HarperTeen

A flash of white light . . . and then . . . nothing.

When sixteen-year-old Kyra Agnew wakes up behind a Dumpster at the Gas 'n' Sip, she has no memory of how she got there. With a terrible headache and a major case of déjà vu, she heads home only to discover that five years have passed . . . yet she hasn't aged a day.

Everything else about Kyra's old life is different. Her parents are divorced, her boyfriend, Austin, is in college and dating her best friend, and her dad has changed from an uptight neat-freak to a drunken conspiracy theorist who blames her five-year disappearance on little green men.

Confused and lost, Kyra isn't sure how to move forward unless she uncovers the truth. With Austin gone, she turns to Tyler, Austin's annoying kid brother, who is now seventeen and who she has a sudden undeniable attraction to. As Tyler and Kyra retrace her steps from the fateful night of her disappearance, they discover strange phenomena that no one can explain, and they begin to wonder if Kyra's father is not as crazy as he seems. There are others like her who have been taken . . . and returned. Kyra races to find an explanation and reclaim the life she once had, but what if the life she wants back is not her own?

The Taking Excerpt

I’d only made it one step before the man had ahold of my arms and was dragging me back out the door. I heard his phone fall, clattering on the tile floor. He wasn’t gentle, and my heart was racing, slamming against my ribs, bruising them. I didn’t know what he planned to do to me. The little boy was crying, but the man didn’t release me as he hauled me down the steps. I tripped over my own feet as he pulled me along the walkway until we were standing on the sidewalk out in front.
“I don’t know what you’re problem is,” he hissed, trying to keep his voice low, his eyes shifting back and forth from me to the screaming boy with no pants at the front door. “But this is my house, and you’re scaring my son. If you need help, then call 9-1-1. I can’t do anything for you.” He released my arm but didn’t leave right away. He just stood there looking at me, waiting for some sort of acknowledgment that I’d heard what he’d said.
I had. I’d heard him. I just couldn’t make sense of it.
His house?
Is that what he’d said? His house?
But that wasn’t right. This was my house.
My house.
I tried to find something in all of it to cling to, something that would clear things up. I replayed the last few minutes, when I’d burst through the front door, and tried to recall what I’d seen.
It was the same house I remembered. The same, but different.
How could that be?
Tears burned my eyes as I looked, too, not at the boy, but at the house in front of us. The house I’d grown up in.
The man gave me one last piteous look before shaking his head and going back to his son. The boy raised his arms to his father, who scooped him up and carried him back inside, closing the door without looking back at me.
I wanted to explain what I was going through, to tell him who I was and who my parents were, but all I could manage was “But I . . . I live here.”

Please make sure to check out the next excerpt at http://www.fangirlish.com. If you want to read all the excerpts on the tour you can start at LushBudgetProductions.

The following stores are doing a pre-order campaign so call and order a signed copy:
Blue Willow Bookshop
The King's English
Books of Wonder
Mysterious Galaxy

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Review: Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith

Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith

Holy cow I had no idea what in the world I was getting myself into. I told myself I wouldn’t look at any reviews or press beforehand, because I wanted to experience Grasshopper Jungle for myself. When I first started Grasshopper Jungle I thought oh I’m going inside a guy’s head that lives in a small town that is slowly dying out. Little did I know, that is exactly what I was getting, and so much more! I will admit that when it comes to male point of views I expect the best. You see I have fallen in love with male point of views like Felton Reinstein and Nick Gardner.

Austin Szerba is different, from other male point of view books I have read, but just as important! See Austin is a typical teenage boy who can’t stop thinking about sex and shit like that. (His words not mine) I believe it’s important to point out that Austin is dealing with a lot of insecurity about the possibility that he is either gay or bisexual. I look around my book shelves and I don’t think I have another book that deals with this topic from the main male point of view. Teens need to know that they can pick up a book and feel they can relate to the main character.

When I found out about the struggles that Austin was having with his sexuality I thought well this is what the book is about. Right? Well wrong! One night a group of teens accidentally break a globe with a plague that can potentially destroy the world.  Austin and his best friend Robby discover what happens and try to fix it. Austin loves his girlfriend Shann who he and Robby spend all their time with and who helps him find the truth about the plague. Austin is obsessed with keeping a history of his life. He writes everything down as he goes about his day and connects the pieces of history.  When Austin is lost he spends his time with his dog, Ingrid, who loves him regardless of who he chooses to love.

Grasshopper Jungle is a book that you have to experience. It’s funny saying this as a book reviewer, but block out what everyone is saying! Read Grasshopper Jungle with an open mind and live the life that Austin Szerba lives. Andrew Smith’s writing style is completely unique and a voice that is needed in young adult literature.

Note: There is sex and violence in the book, but would you expect anything less in an “end of the world” type of book?

To learn more about Andrew Smith visit: http://www.authorandrewsmith.com

I want to give a big thanks to Penguin Books and Lady Reader's Bookstuff Blog Tours for including me in the blog tour. Penguin is also giving one lucky US winner a copy of Grasshopper Jungle and a very cool shirt! So fill out the rafflecopter form below:

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Friday, February 14, 2014

Giveaway: White Space: Book One of The Dark Passages

I want to thank Egmont for providing a giveaway copy of White Space: Book One of The Dark Passages by Ilsa Bick! I love this cover and can't wait to read it! Good luck all!

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White Space: Book One of The Dark Passages
From Ilsa J. Bick--the critically acclaimed author of The Ashes Trilogy--comes the first title in a two-book, young adult series about blurred reality in the tradition of Memento and Inception. This thrilling and scary young adult novel is about blurred reality where characters in a story find that a deadly and horrifying world exists in the space between the written lines.

Seventeen-year-old Emma Lindsay has problems: a head full of metal, no parents, a crazy artist for a guardian whom a stroke has turned into a vegetable, and all those times when she blinks away, dropping into other lives so ghostly and surreal it's as if the story of her life bleeds into theirs. But one thing Emma has never doubted is that she's real.

Then she writes "White Space," a story about these kids stranded in a spooky house during a blizzard. Unfortunately, "White Space" turns out to be a dead ringer for part of an unfinished novel by a long-dead writer. The manuscript, which she's never seen, is a loopy Matrix meets Inkheart story in which characters fall out of different books and jump off the page. When Emma blinks, she might be doing the same and, before long, she's dropped into the very story she thought she'd written. Trapped in a weird, snow-choked valley, Emma meets other kids with dark secrets and strange abilities: Eric, Casey, Bode, Rima, and a very special little girl, Lizzie. What they discover is that they--and Emma--may be nothing more than characters written into being from an alternative universe for a very specific purpose.

Now what they must uncover is why they've been brought to this place--a world between the lines where parallel realities are created and destroyed and nightmares are written--before someone pens their end.

This is the first in a two-book, young adult series from Ilsa J. Bick about blurred reality where characters in a story find that a deadly and horrifying world exists in the space between the written lines. From Wisconsin to an alternate Victorian London, Bick combines elements of thriller, horror, and speculative fiction into a heart-racing story that will leave readers eager to turn the page. Book Two will publish in Spring 2015.

About Ilsa J. Bick
Ilsa J. Bick is a child psychiatrist, film scholar, former Air Force major, and now a full-time author. Her critically acclaimed, award-winning YA novels include The Ashes Trilogy, Draw the Dark, Drowning Instinct, and The Sin-Eater's Confession. Ilsa currently lives in rural Wisconsin, near a Hebrew cemetery. One thing she loves about the neighbors: they're very quiet and only come around for sugar once in a blue moon. You can find her online at www.ilsajbick.com.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

February - What I'm Reading Now

When did we start February? I feel like I blinked and January is gone! Now that I know what month I'm in I can tell you that I think I'm doing a little better juggling work, school and blogging. I will admit that audio books save me sometimes. I have an hour commute each way to work so I can get an extra book in during the drive. So here is my schedule. Feel free to join me and then we can discuss. Also I am always up for taking recommendations. If you check my blog often you will find I add and remove books just depending on my moods. What are you reading or looking forward to reading this month?

Listening to:

Just Finished:

Next up:

Monday, January 27, 2014

Audio Review: Bang by Lisa McMann

Bang by Lisa McMann

Book 2 in the Visions Series

If I’m honest I’m not always a fan of the second book in a series. I think book one makes you fall in love while in most second books things start to fall apart. Well I’m surprised to say that Bang was as good as Crash. I will warn you though, that the book centers on stopping a vision of a school shooting. We live in a world where school shootings are very real and very tragic, so to see it set in a novel is a little surprising. Lisa doesn’t take the subject lightly, but be warned that it is the center of the story.

In Crash Jules was having a vision of a truck hitting a building and killing nine people. When Jules solved the case she finds out that her vision goes away. In Bang Sawyer has started having a vision very much like Jules. Jules feels helpless not being able to see the vision, but tries to help Sawyer solve it. Sawyer finds the visions to be harder and even considers doing nothing, but in the end he doesn’t feel he has any other option, but to try and stop the vision.

Jules’ relationship with her father isn’t any better since Crash. Jules is actually starting to wonder if the visions have ever affected her hoarding father. I really enjoyed that Jules opens up to her brother and sister about the visions and both are willing to help.

If you can look past the touchy subject of a school shooting you will find a great story and I suggest reading or listening to Bang. I enjoyed it and look forward to Gasp, the third book in the series.

Notes on the audio: Joy Osmanski did a great job narrating the story from Jules’ point of view.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Book Hype

Recently I got to thinking about "book hype". Some authors I follow were raving about We Were Liars, then my Blue Willow Bookshop co-worker and boss told me how much they loved We Were Liars. What really made me jump at the chance to read We Were Liars was that my boss doesn't read a lot of YA and for her to say she loved it was a good sign. I'm not going to go into a full review, but I'll just say read WE WERE LIARS!

What is your initial reaction to book hype?

For me book hype scares me. I sometimes feel like finding out that the book is amazing, while I'm reading it, is part of the fun. I will admit, that while I worry about book hype, there were very few times when I didn’t like a book that people raved about.

Books that lived up to the hype:

Love/Hate Book: 
(Hated everyone but love that it was so twisted)

Failed For Me:

Look for my review of We Were Liars in May, closer to the review date. So tell me, what books lived up to the hype for you and what books flopped?

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Review: Manor of Secrets

Manor of Secrets by Katherine Longshore

Release Date: January 28, 2014

About the book:

Lady Charlotte Edmonds: Beautiful, wealthy and sheltered, Charlotte feels suffocated by the strictures of upper-crust society. She longs to see the world beyond The Manor, to seek out high adventure—and most of all, romance.

Janie Seward: Fiery, hardworking, and clever, Janie knows she can be more than just a kitchen maid. But she isn't sure she possesses the courage—or the means—to break free and follow her passions.

Both Charlotte and Janie are ready for change. As their paths overlap in the gilded hallways and dark corridors of The Manor, rules are broken and secrets are revealed. Secrets that will alter the course of their lives...forever.

What first drew me to Manor of Secrets was the gorgeous cover. I mean hello someone tell me where I can order this dress! I had also read Katherine Longshore's debut novel GILT and it was full of juicy scandal. I must say that I was surprised by Manor of Secrets, because for some reason I thought it would be overly dramatic. Instead it's a story of a girl who daydreams of adventure and becoming a writer in a time when an aristocratic woman's lot in life was simply to marry well and usually to a man her parents have chosen for her and for whom she has no feels for whatsoever. I admire that Longshore starts with a simple story and then later unravels it into a world of hidden secrets.

Longshore also does a fantastic job of describing the lavish gowns and the Manor which sounds more like a palace. I felt like I could picture it all without it having to be overly explained. I also like that even the characters you think must be the villain and one dimensional are more complex. I never really hated one character or felt like they needed to slink off into the night with their tail tucked between their legs.

If I could complain about one thing its that I felt everything happened in the last few chapters. I would have liked to have seen the ending drawn out a bit more. I really liked that while Manor of Secrets is a YA novel it can really be read by anyone of most ages. I have heard that Manor of Secrets has been compared to Downton Abbey, but I can't say for sure, because I think I'm the only person in the world who doesn't watch the show. If you have read the book and watch the show let me know what you think in the comments. Manor of Secrets is a stand alone novel, but if you enjoy it I would also suggest picking up GILT, Katherine Longshore's first novel, which is one of my favorites.

To learn more about Katherine Longshore visit: http://www.katherinelongshore.com/

Review copy provided by Point/Scholastic

Sunday, January 12, 2014

January What I'm Reading Now

Hi All!

I have been a little MIA and if you follow me on twitter then you know I returned to school to finish my undergrad. I have been out of school for a few years so finding time to read for fun has been difficult. Now that I have a semester under my belt I have a better idea of what to expect and hope to blog most. So here is my schedule. Feel free to join me and then we can discuss. Also I am always up for taking recommendations. If you check my blog often you will find I add and remove books just depending on my moods. What are you reading or looking forward to reading this month?

Currently Reading:

Listening to:


Next up: