Friday, May 28, 2010

Funday Friday! Featuring... Jen Nadol!

Hey guys! Sorry for the serious lack of reviews! I will have one for you Sunday, I promise! I've been working like crazy. Ahhh! Anyway, Today's author is Jen Nadol. She wrote The Mark, which I reviewed earlier. Hope you enjoy! :)

1. Where did you get the idea for The Mark?

"It just kind of came to me when I tossing around ideas for a story. I knew I needed something with enough interest, conflict and action-potential to carry 200+ pages. "What if you knew it was someone's day to die?" seemed like it might work, so I ran with it!"

2. Have you always been good at writing/wanted to be a writer?
"I've always really enjoyed writing, but it's definitely something that improves
with practice! And, yes, I've always wanted to be a writer, but I don't think I started believing I could be until I got an agent."

3. If you could work with any other author who would it be?

"Probably David Sedaris because I think comedic writing is so incredibly hard and he's the only writer who's ever made me laugh out loud repeatedly."

4. Are there any parts of your book that are based on events in your
own life?

"Only the small high school history teacher used to
quiz us from the Dictionary of Cultural Literacy like Cassie's (the MC's)
does, her school colors are orange & black which were mine too. Things like
that. It's kind of neat to see what people who knew me in high school find
that's borrowed from real life without my even realizing it."

5. How long did it take to find an agent/publish your book after
finishing the manuscript?

"The short answer is 15 months to find an agent, 3
weeks to sell it once we started submitting and it was in stores 14 months
later. For anyone who wants ALL the gruesome details, I did a post with the
full timeline for The Mark here:"

6. What advice would you give to people who "run out of creativity"
while writing?

"Step back and think about your story. Where will it end? What's a scene you know needs to happen? What has to take place in the story to get you there? Does your character need a hobby? Or an extra hurdle to overcome? Before starting, I generally know the beginning, end, a few key scenes or conflicts and any "second-layer" theme (like philosophy in The Mark). I do a lot of thinking before I start and in-between writing times and having these guideposts really helps get me from Point A to Point B without getting stuck."

7. What's your favorite part of a book?

"I love the beginning, when I'm just getting sucked in and can look forward to all the pages ahead, and the end when everything comes together or gets resolved, hopefully not too neatly."

8. Favorite song?

"Today? Probably anything by Lady Gaga. That'll change tomorrow."

9. If you were going to be stuck on a deserted island, which book, movie, food, person(s) would you take?

"Book: The Stand by Stephen King because it's really long and really good. Or
some kind of survival guide - yeah, that might be good.
Movie: The Hangover because I'd probably need a laugh and my husband says
it's hilarious.
Food: Maybe zucchini? They're nutritious, taste pretty good, you don't have
to cook them and they're easy to grow - we always get tons in the garden.
It might be too hot to grow zucchini in the tropics though. We are in the
tropics aren't we? It's not an arctic island, right?
Person: Barack Obama because they might not put much effort into finding me,
but people are gonna wonder where the heck HE is."

10. Five of your favorite things?

"My family, books, coffee, fresh air, clean white t-shirts."

Friday, May 21, 2010

Funday Friday! Featuring.... Deb Caletti!

Hey everyone! Today we have author Deb Caletti! She gets asked to do interviews a lot, so I didn't get to ask her my usual questions. But! Her publicist from Simon and Schuster sent me over a small interview that is not widely passed around. So as I am excited to present this lovely interview to you guys, I have to tell you I got this from Simon and Schuster. Here's the interview!

Q: Your main character, Scarlet, is deeply involved with everyone around her--her mother, her sister, her brother-in-law, and her neighbors. She says, “I thought it had worked for me, looking after everyone else. But it didn’t. Not anymore.” In your opinion, what is it about being a young adult that causes them to put others before their own wants and needs?

A: I think it isn’t so much a “young adult” thing as a human being one. Some of us just come with the “giver” gene, or else we develop it for a million complicated reasons. Scarlet, like most of us, starts this behavior waaay early. She’s the one who always gets paired up with the bad kid, and she’s the one who walks the sick girl to the office when no one else wants to. Sometimes it’s all about being kindhearted, but it can also spill over into being unassertive about what’s right for us. It’s an important balance--how much of our life is “other” and how much of our life is “self.” Often, too, the folks who are mostly takers are magnetically drawn to givers (huh, no wonder, right?). Givers don’t think too much about this until they are resentful and exhausted, as Scarlet finally becomes in SIX RULES.

Q: Scarlet discovers what she believes are The Five Rules of Maybe. It isn’t until later that she realizes there are actually Six Rules of Maybe. The sixth rule catches her off guard: “Most importantly, know when you’ve reached an end. Quit, give up, do it with courage. Giving up is not failing – it’s the chance to begin again.” Why is this an important rule or lesson?

A: I think giving up is a hugely important lesson, and an overlooked one. We’re so into the rah rah ideas that YOU CAN DO ANYTHING! YOU CAN BE ANYONE! That we forget that it’s often not true. Sometimes we can’t. I don’t think that’s bad news. Not at all. I think it’s important news. I worry that lately we’ve forgotten how critical it is to see ourselves realistically. Quitting, moving forward, being resilient about failure--those are all things that haven’t gotten much air time lately. And yet, this is perhaps the most important rule of all. It’s the way we can ride out the bumps without crashing.

Q: A common theme of self-discovery develops for all of the characters as they consider what they really want for their future. Did you draw upon any of your own experiences to create these realistic journeys?

A: Self-discovery, finding “home”, dealing with being a mostly good-hearted but flawed person in a complicated world--yep, those are all repeating themes in my work. And, yes, absolutely--I draw on my experiences for all of my books. I have never stolen an old lady from a rest home (like in Honey), or been given an enormous sum of money from a stranger (like in Indigo). But I HAVE lost faith in love and have felt my world turn upside down and have had to rethink and rethink my future. Writing is always my therapy, the attempt to work out particular events and questions I’m trying to understand. (Too bad no one actually gave me that fat sum of money, though. :) )

Q: Why do you write for young adults?

A: Becoming a YA author was actually a lucky accident. The first book that I published, The Queen of Everything, was written as an adult book. I thought it was an adult book, anyway. When it was picked up by Simon & Schuster for the young adult market, I found myself here. This is the route for many YA writers, but I think most of us will agree that it is a happy and fortunate detour. I found myself in a great place, with these readers I love for their honesty and true passion for books. Fate plucked me up, I’m sure, and set me down where I belonged. What’s cool, too, is that because I didn’t (and still don’t) know how to write a “young adult book” (whatever that is), I have an audience that varies in age from 11 to 91. I hope my readers can also feel that I don’t treat them as “teens” (a word that too often is used in some weird kind of quotation marks), but just as the fine people and kindred book lovers that they are to me.

Q: What were some of your favorite books growing up?

A: I was as much a book addict then as I am now. I think I’ve spent a great deal of my life so far lugging huge, unwieldy stacks of books home from the library. How to even choose favorites, you know? I loved Ramona the Pest. I loved Little Bear. From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. The Incredible Journey. The Chronicles of Narnia. Okay, I’ll stop there.

Q: Did you always know you wanted to be a writer?

A: Always. Since I was about seven years old. Except for that brief period of time when I wanted to be Nancy Drew.

There you have it everyone! Thanks so much to Deb and her publicist Taryn for letting me use this interview. These are such great questions/answers :)
And if you haven't yet, go get your hands on Deb's newest book, The Six Rules of Maybe! You won't be disappointed! Thanks for stopping by and Happy Reading! :)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Grace by Elizabeth Scott

Hey everyone! So, today I have an awesome review for you guys! I managed to snag myself an ARC of Elizabeth Scott's new book, Grace, which comes out September 10th! Here's the description:

A fable of a terrifying near future.
Grace was raised to be an Angel, a herald of death by suicide bomb. But she refuses to die for the cause, and now Grace is on the run, daring to dream of freedom.
In search of a border she may never reach, she travels among malevolent soldiers on a decrepit train crawling through the desert. Accompanied by the mysterious Kerr, Grace struggles to be invisible, but the fear of discovery looms large as she recalls the history and events that delivered her uncertain fate.

WOW. Just, wow. Elizabeth never ceases to amaze me. Part of me thought I might not like this one because it's about suicide bombing. The other half of me thought, It's a book by Elizabeth Scott, how could it not be good? If you guys couldn't tell by now, it was the latter. This book is so different from any other YA novel. It pulls you in, it makes you wonder, it makes you feel. This fictional "Country" is maddening. How could anybody let a man like Keran Berj rule? How could The People do the same, but still think Keran is worse? And Grace, poor Grace-- I am so proud of her. She is so brave. She gives us some insight I think everyone could use, really. This story was not what I was expecting. I didn't know what to expect, actually, but this was not it. Elizabeth has definitely done it again and I don't know how. She always pulls off writing a masterpiece, and for that, I thank her.
Make sure you guys pick this one up when it's released! Or pre-order! Just make sure you get it in your hands.
Happy Reading!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Shade by Jeri Smith-Ready & Stuff

Sorry guys, no author interview or Contest today. Those of you who won something from the past contest, I sincerely apologize for my slowness. I will email you with confirmation numbers ASAP, it's just been so hectic these weeks. I hope you all don't hate me :(
Also, one of you lovely readers commented on here before asking if I was ever going to do another spread the word contest and that you'd had an idea. I would LOVE to hear those! I'm always looking for ways to spread the word about this blog. So go ahead and send them in! :)
But I do have a review! I just read this book on Simon and Schuster's site, Pulse it, which I've mentioned here before. It's a site for YA readers where you can read books for free! You can also blog, comment, and even talk with authors. It's way awesome so make sure to check it out!
I have other reviews I need to post, but this book was just so great I had to post it today. The description of this book is:

Love ties them together. Death can't tear them apart.
Best. Birthday. Ever. At least, it was supposed to be. With Logan's band playing a critical gig and Aura's plans for an intimate after-party, Aura knows it will be the most memorable night of her boyfriend's life. She never thought it would be his last.
Logan's sudden death leaves Aura devastated. He's gone.
Well, sort of.
Like everyone born after the Shift, Aura can see and hear ghosts. This mysterious ability has always been annoying, and Aura had wanted nothing more than to figure out why the Shift happened so she can undo it. But not with Logan's violet-hued spirit still hanging around. Because dead Logan is almost as real as ever. Almost.
It doesn't help that Aura's new friend Zachary is so understanding—and so very alive. His support means more to Aura than she cares to admit.
As Aura's relationships with the dead and the living grow ever complicated, so do her feelings for Logan and Zachary. Each holds a piece of Aura's heart?and clues to the secret of the Shift.

This book was freaking awesome. Apparently, it's the paranormal books that make me cry. Beacuse this was the second book EVER to make me cry. It was the part where Logan sings his song he wrote for Aura to her, while she pretends to sleep. It was just so SAD. If you guys read it, you'll know what I'm talking about. And don't worry, it doesn't give anything away. Jeri's writing is awesome. She has some funny things in the book that I like, mostly more internal thinking. This book was very interesting and had a cool twist on ghost stories. I loved all of the different rules the ghosts have and how they're violet instead of in color. The only thing I don't like is how long I have to wait to read the sequel! I don't even know when it comes out! That kind of thing will probably drive me insane. Jeri's character development in this book was really good too. I've been thinking about Logan, like, all day today while I'm at work. That's probably sad on my part, but still. He's such a sweet guy I can't get his tragic self out of my head! You know me, I'm a sucker for romance. They always get me! Anyway, if you're looking for a paranormal, good, and somewhat sad book, this one's for you! You'll love it :)
Happy Reading!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Mark by Jen Nadol

Hey everyone! So I definitely thought I posted a review on Tuesday but I guess I didn't! Sorry! I've been swamped with work (8-5 all week!), which is where I am now. Sneaky, sneaky. Okay, not really because this is my lunch break. But still! I didn't think I would be able to get on this site. Anyway, today's post is The Mark by Jen Nadol. the description of this book is:

Cassandra Renfield has always seen the mark—a glow around certain people reminiscent of candlelight. But the one time she mentioned it, it was dismissed as a trick of the light. Until the day she watches a man awash in the mark die. After searching her memories, Cassie realizes she can see a person’s imminent death. Not how or where, only when: today.
Armed with a vague understanding of the light, Cassie begins to explore her “gift,” seeking those marked for death and probing the line between decision and destiny. Though she’s careful to hide her secret—even from her new philosophy-obsessed boyfriend—with each impending death comes the temptation to test fate. But so many questions remain. How does the mark work? Why is she the only one who sees it? And finally, the most important of all: If you know today is someone’s last, should you tell them?

I think I'm getting more into the paranormal books now. At least, the ones that sound really cool or interesting. Like, I think I'm on vampire and wizard overload, so I'm least likely to want to read those. But different and not too crazy books like The Mark, I will definitely read. This book was awesome! The author leaves you on such a cliffhanger though! I want to know MORE. There is a sequel coming out I believe but I'm sure it will be a while since this book was just released in January. Jen's writing is very compelling and she's very good with making her characters seem real. The book isn't very predictable either. You think one things going to happen, and then something else does. But it makes the story even better. I like this one almost as much as I liked The Body Finder, which was A LOT. I freaking love that book. So if you're looking for something paranormal, interesting, unique and a book that's not 5000 pages, this one's for you. Hope you guys enjoy! Happy Reading :)

Sunday, May 9, 2010

How Not to be Popular by Jennifer Ziegler

Hey everyone! Happy Mother's day to all the moms out there! :)
Today I have another review for you :) This book is called How Not to be Popular by Jennifer Ziegler. I absolutely love that cover! It's so adorable, right? The description of this book is:

Maggie Dempsey is tired of moving all over the country. Her parents are second-generation hippies who uproot her every year or so to move to a new city. When Maggie was younger, she thought it was fun and adventurous. Now that she’s a teenager, she hates it. When she moved after her freshman year, she left behind good friends, a great school, and a real feeling of belonging. When she moved her sophomore year, she left behind a boyfriend, too. Now that they’ve moved to Austin, she knows better. She’s not going to make friends. She’s not going to fit in. Anything to prevent her from liking this new place and them from liking her. Only . . . things don’t go exactly as planned.

I thought this book sounded so cute! I thought it sounded like a really cool twist to a story-- trying to NOT be popular. It turned out to be pretty good. I felt really bad for Maggie throughout this book because of how much she had to move. I would absolutely hate that. But I did really love Jack. At first, I thought he was kind of dorky and I didn't want him to be her love interest, but then he turned out to be a good guy. I loved all the cool ways Maggie tried to be unpopular. The weird outfits were probably my favorite element. This story is funny, unique, and unpredictable. I recommend this to anyone who's looking for a fun and interesting read. I'd say it's appropriate for most ages, like 11+. Hope you guys enjoy! Happy Reading :)

Friday, May 7, 2010

Funday Friday! Featuring.... Kimberly Derting!

Today's Funday Friday is featuring Debut author Kimberly Derting! She was so nice when I e-mailed her so I was really excited to post this interview! Her book, The Body Finder, was the only book that ever made me cry! EVER. So, go read her book if you haven't! It's amazing! Here's the interview:

1. Where did you get the idea for The Body Finder?

"It was actually my husband who first said: “What if there was a boy who could find dead bodies?” (In his head it would be this great middle-grade adventure!) Of course, I had a different vision, and decided it should be a teen girl finding the dead bodies. And then she needed to have a love interest because, well, I'm a girl!"

2. Have you always been good at writing/ wanted to be a writer?

"I wanted to be so many things before becoming a writer. Just like most little girls, I wanted to be a veterinarian, a doctor, Princess Leia, and a Lady Trucker. Doesn't every little girl go through their Princess Leia and Lady Trucker phases??? It wasn't until 7th grade when I took a Journalism class that I fell in love with writing."

3. If you could work with any other author, who would it be?

"JK Rowling! I love the way she took a character like Harry Potter and built not just a world but an entire universe around him that everyone so easily accepts. Just say the word “muggle” and probably 90% of the people you say it to will know what you mean. So if you're friends with her, just let her know that I'm available any time!"

4. Are there any parts of your books that are based on events in your own life?

"Not really, although I sometimes steal little conversations and mannerisms from people I know (mostly from my kids and their friends), which is helpful since they’re teens and I write YA. Actually, in the sequel to The Body Finder, I put in a funny story my oldest daughter told me about her and her boyfriend. The best part is that he has no idea it's in there!"

5. How long did it take to find an agent/publish your book after finishing the manuscript?

"Okay, so excluding my brief agent representation when I was in my early twenties, things actually happened pretty quickly with The Body Finder. I went to a writer’s conference right after I finished TBF and met the agent who would sign me a few weeks later. After that, my agent started submitting within a month, and within another month we had offers from two publishers."

6. What advice would you give to people who "run out of creativity" when writing?

"Put your nose to the grindstone and just write through it. I don’t know who penned the phrase “you can’t edit a blank page” but it’s so appropriate. It’s better to write crap and fix it later, than to write nothing and wait for inspiration to strike. Inspiration is far too fickle!"

7. What's your favorite part of a book?

"Of any book? I need a good beginning to draw me in, but I LOVE a great ending, something that makes me go: WHOA! Oh, and the middle is pretty important too. And the cover. :)"

(Now for a couple fun questions)
8. Favorite song?

"Anything by Stevie Wonder (Oops, is my age showing???)"

9. If you were going to be stuck on a deserted island, which book, movie, food, and person(s) would you take?

"That would be a real toss-up between any book explaining how to build a boat out of bamboo and palm leaves and any member of my family who actually knows how to build a boat!! Can you tell that I really REALLY want to get off this island?"

10. Five of your favorite things?

"Well, aside from the obvious (my children…not that there are five of them!), here goes:

My laptop (with wireless, of course)
Books (duh!)
Tea (preferably served hot)
Dental Floss (I’m a bit of freak when it comes to my teeth)
A good bathrobe (the fluffier the better)"

Yay! There you have it everyone. I like Kim's idea with the book explaining how to get off the island.. It's surprising that I never thought of that.. Anyway! Hope you guys enjoyed the interview. I will have a review up tomorrow for you guys so make sure you look out for that! Thanks for reading :)

Monday, May 3, 2010

It's Not Summer Without You by Jenny Han

Hey everyone! Today's book is Jenny Han's Sequel to The Summer I Turned Pretty, called It's Not Summer Without You. Here's the description:

Can summer be truly summer without Cousins Beach?

It used to be that Belly counted the days until summer, until she was back at Cousins Beach with Conrad and Jeremiah. But not this year. Not after Susannah got sick again and Conrad stopped caring. Everything that was right and good has fallen apart, leaving Belly wishing summer would never come.

But when Jeremiah calls saying Conrad has disappeared, Belly knows what she must do to make things right again. And it can only happen back at the beach house, the three of them together, the way things used to be. If this summer really and truly is the last summer, it should end the way it started-- at Cousins Beach.

So, I ordered this book with my Barnes and Noble giftcard I got for christmas recently and I got it in the mail yesterday. When I got home, instead of studying, I plowed through it. I finished it all in one sitting. This book was just as amazing as the first! As soon as I opened the book and started reading, I immediately fell into the story, unaware of pretty much everything around me. I really felt like I was in Belly's world. This book was a lot more serious than the first, but there were still a lot of light moments. I love this series because they're perfect for summer. I am completely done with school tomorrow, so reading it yesterday made me ready for summer! I wish I had an amazing beach house to go to every summer like Belly, Jeremiah and Conrad. This book will definitely make you feel like it's summer. If you haven't read the first book of the series, The Summer I Turned Pretty, then I advise reading that first. Otherwise, you won't know everything you should. But they're both amazing so I wouldn't see that as a bad thing! Plus, look at that beautiful cover! I am obsessed with it. Thanks for stopping by, Happy Reading! :)

Saturday, May 1, 2010

The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting

Hey Guys! I took a break from studying to review this book. It's The Body Finer by Kimberly Derting. Here's the description:

Violet Ambrose is grappling with two major issues: Jay Heaton and her morbid secret ability. While the sixteen-year-old is confused by her new feelings for her best friend since childhood, she is more disturbed by her "power" to sense dead bodies—or at least those that have been murdered. Since she was a little girl, she has felt the echoes the dead leave behind in the world . . . and the imprints that attach to their killers.

Violet has never considered her strange talent to be a gift; it mostly just led her to find dead birds her cat left for her. But now that a serial killer is terrorizing her small town, and the echoes of the local girls he's claimed haunt her daily, Violet realizes she might be the only person who can stop him.

Despite his fierce protectiveness over her, Jay reluctantly agrees to help Violet find the murderer—and Violet is unnerved by her hope that Jay's intentions are much more than friendly. But even as she's falling intensely in love, Violet is getting closer and closer to discovering a killer . . . and becoming his prey herself.

Sounds intense, right? Well, it is. I could not put this down before I finished it. Yeah, I know I say that a lot and it is me we're talking about, but I swear this book stands out from the rest. This book makes you feel so many emotions! I instantly fell in love with Jay (of course, I know) and could totally see why Violet was falling for him. I mean, I wish I had a best friend like that! You guys also know how I'm not too huge of a fan for crazy sci-fi books. This one is paranormal, but it's filled with so much real detail that the paranormal side doesn't even seem weird to me. Kimberly writes in such a way that I feel like it should be almost normal to do what Violet can do. This book is also coming out with a sequel next year and I absolutely cannot wait to get my hands on it. I'm sure you guys will think the same once you read The Body Finder. This is now one of my all time favorite books! Thanks for stopping by again :)
Happy Reading!