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Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Waiting on Wednesday #75: No Place to Fall by Jaye Robin Brown

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly feature created by Jill at Breaking the Spine. This is where you showcase an upcoming release you're anxiously awaiting!

This week, I'm waiting on:
No Place to Fall by Jaye Robin Brown.

Expected Publication: December 9, 2014.
by: HarperTeen.

Goodreads Synopsis:
Amber Vaughn is a good girl. She sings solos at church, babysits her nephew after school, and spends every Friday night hanging out at her best friend Devon’s house. It’s only when Amber goes exploring in the woods near her home, singing camp songs with the hikers she meets on the Appalachian Trail, that she feels free—and when the bigger world feels just a little bit more in reach.

When Amber learns about an audition at the North Carolina School of the Arts, she decides that her dream—to sing on bigger stages—could also be her ticket to a new life. Devon’s older (and unavailable) brother, Will, helps Amber prepare for her one chance to try out for the hypercompetitive arts school. But the more time Will and Amber spend together, the more complicated their relationship becomes . . . and Amber starts to wonder if she’s such a good girl, after all.

Then, in an afternoon, the bottom drops out of her family’s world—and Amber is faced with an impossible choice between her promise as an artist and the people she loves. Amber always thought she knew what a good girl would do. But between “right” and “wrong,” there’s a whole world of possibilities.

Why I'm excited:
Darn it, Harper! December! That's still pretty far off. I'm not always one for contemp; usually the synopsis really has to catch my attention for me to get excited. Between this synopsis - which sounds like it questions all kinds of interesting things - and hearing about the book through the YA Valentines and the author's Twitter, I'm in. Fingers crossed it's a great one!

What are you waiting on this week?

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Top Ten Authors I Own the Most Books By

This week's TTT seemed like a good opportunity to go back and explore my shelves a bit so here are some (not quite accurate but close enough) stats from my bookcases. I've decided to omit my children's books in this count because otherwise Mary Pope Osborne would pretty much dominate (Magic Tree House forever).

#1. Robert Muchamore with 22.
His novels about teen spies - some set in the present day, some in the 1940s - are like my book crack. Fast-paced and exciting, British, so incredibly likeable... I love them.

#2. Cecily von Ziegesar with 17.
Yes, I admit it, I totally got sucked into the Gossip Girl books and I own them all plus the three from her spin-off series The Carlyles. They were just so... dramatic. I couldn't get enough.

#3. (tie) Margaret Peterson Haddix with 10.
I've read her books from around grade 5 or 6 through high school, so is it any wonder I own plenty of them?

#3. (tie) Sara Shepherd with 10.
Yes, much like Gossip Girl, I totally bought into the Pretty Little Liars series.... but only for a while. I may own 10 of the books but I've actually only read 5. They ended up getting to be too much crazy for me and while I thought I'd continue the series (hence my buying them), I found so many books that are more worth my time.

#5. (tie) Ellen Hopkins with 9.
Something about her verse books really pulls me in. Not sure if it's the style or the dark subject matter, but I'm hooked!

#5. (tie) Anthony Horowitz with 9.
More teen spy book crack. While I didn't like his Alex Rider books as much as I like Muchamore's books, they're in the same vein and still totally addictive. High school me read so many of these kinds of books.

#7. (tie) Anna Godbersen with 7.
More book crack, this time with dramatic girls in pretty dresses in the past. Tell me that doesn't sound like the perfect kind of book crack for me!

#7. (tie) Laura Ingalls Wilder with 7.
Okay, so I know I said I'd leave childhood books out but this and the next two are ones that I couldn't in my right mind ignore. I loved these books so much as a kid. They totally made me want to be Laura and live like that myself. Until I remembered all the great things we have now that they didn't. But still, what an escape.

#7. (tie) C.S. Lewis with 7.
I do indeed own all 7 Chronicles of Narnia books, though I don't think I ever finished them all. If memory serves, I stopped partway through either #6 or #7. I guess these might be due for a reread and to finish the series!

#10. J.K. Rowling with 6.
Because duh, Harry Potter. And my pretty Bloomsbury UK/Canada hardbacks, too. But sadly yes, this number is one short because I apparently do not own a copy of The Half-Blood Prince. I was sure I did, but I can't find it. This must be remedied. And shall be.

Plus one that doesn't exactly count but might as well:
Jim Butcher with 15.
These technically aren't my books, they're my dad's. But I have been slowly making my way through them and since they're so readily accessible, I just help myself. So they're close enough to count for this list!

Sunday, 27 July 2014

ReReadathon and Shelf Sweeper Week Four Update

Seems like one book a week for this ReReadathon is the best I'm getting. Life has been in the way again this week but at least I got something in. And considering which one it was, I knew it'd be a good, distracting read.

Of course this was a great read and, like the first one, a little harder to get through knowing everything that comes. I also found that after having seen the movie, I wish we had gotten to spend more time in the arena this time for the Quarter Quell than we did. Ah well, still a great read the second time around.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Sophomore Spotlight: Una LaMarche

I'm very excited today to welcome Una LaMarche to the blog! She's here to talk a bit about her sophomore novel, Like No Other. 

About the book:
Like No Other by Una LaMarche.

Published July 24, 2014.
Published by: Razrobill.

Goodreads Synopsis:
**Publishers Weekly Best Book of Summer 2014**
**A Summer 2014 Indie Next List Pick**
**A 2014 Junior Library Guild Selection**
**Los Angeles Times Summer Reading Guide Selection**
**An Entertainment Weekly YA Novel to Watch Out For**

Fate brought them together. Will life tear them apart? 

Devorah is a consummate good girl who has never challenged the ways of her strict Hasidic upbringing. 

Jaxon is a fun-loving, book-smart nerd who has never been comfortable around girls (unless you count his four younger sisters). 

They've spent their entire lives in Brooklyn, on opposite sides of the same street. Their paths never crossed . . . until one day, they did. 

When a hurricane strikes the Northeast, the pair becomes stranded in an elevator together, where fate leaves them no choice but to make an otherwise risky connection. 

Though their relation is strictly forbidden, Devorah and Jax arrange secret meetings and risk everything to be together. But how far can they go? Just how much are they willing to give up? 

In the timeless tradition of West Side Story and Crossing Delancey, this thoroughly modern take on romance will inspire laughter, tears, and the belief that love can happen when and where you least expect it. 

Now please welcome Una!

J: Thanks for joining me, Una! Describe your sophomore novel, Like No Other, in a haiku (yes, I've noticed your fun Twitter promo :)).

U: Meet cute with a twist—
Her faith forbids connection,
His love risks it all.

[Cue dramatic music]

J: Ooh, dramatic indeed. I like! Which of the characters from Like No Other are you most excited for readers to meet?

U: That is such a hard question to answer, because I’m so attached to both of them, but if I had to choose, I’d pick Devorah, because her inner voice and outside world are so at odds, and it makes her story so much more complex.

J: If you could introduce one of the characters from Like No Other to any character from another book, who would it be and why?

U: I’d introduce Devorah to Jo March from Little Women. I think they’d have a lot to talk about…

J: Do you listen to music while you write/edit? If so, can you share one song you listened to a lot while working on this novel?

U: Annoyingly for me, I can’t listen to music while I write because it’s too distracting. That said, I did write a lot of the book in coffee shops, because I don’t have an office and I have a toddler at home, so I heard a lot of slow-jam singer-songwriter stuff that probably seeped into my subconscious. I specifically remember listening to Norah Jones’ “Come Away With Me,” which sticks in my head because it encapsulates the kind of blissful infatuation I was trying to put on paper.

J: I usually find it very distracting too, but I do love that Come Away With Me snuck its way in there. How did the journey for Like No Other differ from that for your debut?

U: It was so different, it’s kind of insane. For those who don’t know, my first novel, Five Summers, is about four friends from summer camp who have a falling out and work through a lot of drama at a camp reunion three years later. The themes were so much lighter and more beach-read-y, and while it wasn’t easy to write (no book is!), it was easier to access, because I went to camp as a kid and I’ve had those types of close but fraught female friendships that can vacillate between devotion and animosity. So I didn’t really do any research, I just drew from my own experiences.

With Like No Other, I wanted to tackle a deeper and more dramatic story, and I wanted to write characters who weren’t just versions of me or people I knew. There are aspects of Jax and Devorah’s personalities that I share and can relate to, but I had to do a lot of research and preparation before I could develop their voices. Devorah especially required a lot of research, just to get the details of her daily life close to what they would be in reality (I humbly admit that I’m sure there are errors, since short of actually living in a Hasidic household, which obviously wasn’t going to happen, I had to fill in holes in my research with creative license).

J: Sounds like you worked a more intense process for this new one. I'm looking forward to seeing how that plays out in the story in comparison! Did you change anything else about your writing process for this novel after having written your debut, Five Summers?

U: Apart from the research, which was a big change, I also learned to be more disciplined about my pacing. Both of these books were written fast—I wrote THREE drafts of Five Summers in four months, and the first draft of Like No Other was written in about two and a half. As I mentioned, I have a young son who I stay home with most of the time, so I generally only had about 20 hours a week to write, and a lot of that was after 8 pm. I usually had to hit at least 1500 words a day to get the work done on time, and I so I had to learn how to focus (I’m still working on that—I had to install an app that blocks the internet on my laptop) and make the most of my time. I also ate a lot of chocolate-frosted mini donuts while writing Like No Other. That’s probably why it felt like a smoother process.

J: Mmm, donuts. Donuts make everything smoother. Well, except maybe the exercise it later takes to work them off. What is the best part of already having a book out in the world when you're going into releasing another?

U: Breaking into publishing—or any creative field—is so tough, because you have to have made a name for yourself for people to notice you, but in order to make a name for yourself you have to get noticed. It’s the definition of a Catch-22. I was so lucky that Razorbill took a chance on me with Five Summers, but with that novel, since I was a total newbie, I didn’t have a lot going for me. One of the parts of promoting a book is getting better-known authors to “blurb” it, which means they provide a quote you can stick on the cover that recommends your book to potential readers. With Five Summers, I sent letters to half a dozen people asking them to blurb it, and only one person (bless you, Jodi Lynn Anderson!) did.

Having already written a book put me in a much better position to promote Like No Other. I got about five blurbs and a lot more press, including reviews in The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly! (A big part of the reason for this, I should mention, is that I think Like No Other is just a better book, but even that might not be the case if I hadn’t had the practice of writing Five Summers!)

J: Can you share a favourite quote from Like No Other?

U: My favorite quote is when Jaxon first gets a good look at Devorah, when they get stuck together in an elevator:

“She stands up and takes a step toward me, and as the light filters down through the hole above us, like artificial moonlight on a movie set, I can really see her eyes for the first time, big and gray flecked with shimmering hints of sky blue, like someone bottled that moment when Dorothy steps out of her black-and-white farmhouse and into Oz. That’s the moment I know I’m in trouble.”

J: Una, I love that. That is just wonderful. In keeping with our theme here, are there any other sophomore releases you've either loved recently or are looking forward to?

U: I loved Eleanor & Park so much that I was a little afraid to read Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl, because I thought there was no way it could live up to my expectations, but damn she’s amazing. I’m so jealous of her skills. And I think If I Stay was Gayle Forman’s second YA novel. Let’s just pretend it is, even if I’m wrong, for the sake of the theme :)

J: You know, I think you are right about that one, so you're safe ;) Can you share anything about your next project?

U: I have a book of comic essays called Unabrow coming out next March, which is a huge departure from YA fiction, but relevant in that it deals with my real teen years, as well as going to college, stumbling through the work force, getting married, getting published, and having a baby. I’m also currently writing a third, so far untitled young adult contemporary for Razorbill, which centers on a girl doing everything she can to hold it together for her siblings when both of her parents go AWOL for various dramatic and dysfunctional reasons. Since Five Summers was about friendship and Like No Other was a romance, I wanted to delve into what I think is the third and probably most important player in the love trifecta: family. We learn how to love from our parents, so when they let you down, how do you figure it out on your own? (I should mention, by the way, that my own parents were and are awesome, and that this is fiction. Hear that, mom?)

J: Sounds fantastic! I'm definitely looking forward to both. Thanks Una! 

Una was kind enough to offer up a finished hardcover copy of Like No Other to one lucky winner!

Some Rules (aka the not so fun but important part):
~ This giveaway is open internationally (void where prohibited).
~ No P.O. boxes.
~ Must be 13 or older to enter.
~ Winner will be chosen randomly and contacted via email. The winner has 48 hours to respond to my email, otherwise they forfeit their prize and I will choose another winner, who must abide by the same rules.
~ Una and I are not responsible for lost or damaged packages.
No cheating! In this case, I have the right to disqualify entries as I see fit.
~ By entering the giveaway, you are agreeing to these rules.

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Waiting on Wednesday #74: Salt & Storm by Kendall Kulper

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly feature created by Jill at Breaking the Spine. This is where you showcase an upcoming release you're anxiously awaiting!

This week, I'm waiting on:
Salt & Storm by Kendall Kulper.

Expected Publication: September 23, 2014.
by: Little, Brown BYR.

Goodreads Synopsis:
Sixteen-year-old Avery Roe wants only to take her rightful place as the witch of Prince Island, making the charms that keep the island’s whale men safe and prosperous at sea. But before she could learn how to control her power, her mother, the first Roe woman in centuries to turn her back on magic, stole Avery away from her grandmother. Avery must escape from her mother before her grandmother dies, taking with her the secrets of the Roes’ power.

When Avery awakens from a dream foretelling her own murder, she realizes time is running short—for her and for the people of her island, who, without the Roes, will lose their ships and the only life they know.

With the help of Tane, a tattooed harpoon boy from the Pacific Islands, Avery plots her escape from her mother and unravels the mysteries of her mother’s and grandmother’s pasts. Becoming a witch may prevent her murder and save her island from ruin, but Avery discovers it will also require a sacrifice she never expected—one she might not be able to make.

Why I'm excited:
I'm not always one for witches but I'm just so darn intrigued by this... historical fantasy? Maybe? I really want to get to know this island and all the charms and whatnot and I am so curious about the mystery. Curiosity is my weakness, it seems, and this one definitely has my attention!

What are you waiting on this week?

Sunday, 20 July 2014

ReReadathon and Shelf Sweeper Week Three Update

Another week down. July, you are moving too fast for my taste. Too soon it'll be September again. But I'd rather not linger on that thought.

Again this week I only got through one book. At least it was another excellent one.

I'm so glad that I understand Sybella so much better now. It's really fantastic. I'm really getting excited for Mortal Heart and Annith's story after reading both Grave Mercy and Dark Triumph. SOON.

I also want to note that I know posting has been less frequent these past couple weeks. I think that's going to continue for a bit as I'm dealing with some personal stuff right now. When I'm 100% back in the game, you'll know it. Thanks for hanging around, though.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Waiting on Wednesday #73: Winterkill by Kate A. Boorman

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly feature created by Jill at Breaking the Spine. This is where you showcase an upcoming release you're anxiously awaiting!

This week, I'm waiting on:
Winterkill by Kate A. Boorman.

Expected Publication: September 9, 2014.
by: Abrams/Amulet.

Goodreads Synopsis:
Emmeline knows the woods outside her settlement are forbidden. The mysterious enemy that wiped out half her people lurks there, keeping them isolated in an unfamiliar land with merciless winters. 

Living with the shame of her grandmother's insubordination, Emmeline has learned to keep her head down and her quick tongue silent. When the settlement leader asks for her hand in marriage, it's a rare opportunity to wash the family stain clean--even if she has eyes for another. But before she is forced into an impossible decision, her dreams urge her out to the woods, where she finds a path she can't help but follow. The trail leads to a secret that someone in the settlement will kill to protect. Her grandmother went down that path and paid the price.

If Emmeline isn't careful, she will be next.

Why I'm excited:
This one sounds so mysterious! What is in those woods? What will happen if Emmeline goes in there? Will we get any actual answers? I must know! Can't wait to start in on this one!

What are you waiting on this week?