Wednesday, May 29, 2013

For Your TBR Pile - Wild Awake

WILD AWAKE by Hilary T Smith

When it will be published: out now, by HarperCollins / Katherine Tegen

From GoodReadsThings you earnestly believe will happen while your parents are away:
1. You will remember to water the azaleas.
2. You will take detailed, accurate messages.
3. You will call your older brother, Denny, if even the slightest thing goes wrong.
4. You and your best friend/bandmate Lukas will win Battle of the Bands.
5. Amid the thrill of victory, Lukas will finally realize you are the girl of his dreams.

Things that actually happen:
1. A stranger calls who says he knew your sister.
2. He says he has her stuff.
3. What stuff? Her stuff.
4. You tell him your parents won’t be able to—
5. Sukey died five years ago; can’t he—
6. You pick up a pen.
7. You scribble down the address.
8. You get on your bike and go.
9. Things . . . get a little crazy after that.*
*also, you fall in love, but not with Lukas.

What I liked most: Holy crap, I loved this book. It's hard to put into words but the best I can come up with is I feel like I just got off a roller coaster and snapped back into reality. Kiri's spiraling mania is intense and powerful and I found myself being pulled right along on this dizzy descent. There were points in the book where I had to actually pull back and say, "you know. She's acting really crazy. She probably needs some help" and in the same breath I wanted to defend her actions and make everyone leave her alone. Let her ride her bike all night in the rain and play the piano until her fingers are nubs and eat fifteen guava fruits and drink tea and listen to radios with Skunk! Leave Kiri alone!

Why you should have it in your TBR pile: I hate to say "the writing" because whenever someone says that I feel like it's a cop out. Sure, it's always about "the writing," but Hilary crafted gorgeous sentences full of mania and humor and raw emotion.

The one scene I'm dying for you to read: Oh love bison, you. 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Writers Like Us - Hélène Boudreau

Continuing my mermaid book binge, I was thrilled when mermaid middle grade writer and agency sister, Hélène Boudreau wanted to participate! Every mermaid book is different and Helene's is a little bit Are You There God, It's Me Margaret meets splishy splashy.

Her answers are below in bold. Let us know what makes Hélène like you in the comments.

Hélène on Writing
  • I've written 40+ books, and 14 have seen the light of day.
  • My favorite type of scene to write is funny, smirky dialogue. 
  • No matter how long I've been writing, I still have issues with punctuation; like using semicolons: instead of colons—or em-dashes instead of – whatever en-dashes are. 
  • A typical comment from my critique partner is you keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means. 
  • The book I wished I wrote is The Princess Bride (of course!).

Hélène on Getting Published
  • If my editor really knew how damaged I was, she would find out that I was under the influence of copious amounts of Diet Coke when I wrote most of my manuscripts. I’ve now, thankfully, replaced that vice with a Perrier addiction. 
  • When I was querying, I felt equal parts hopefulness and despair. 
  • The biggest mistake I ever made querying was sending queries in too-large batches when I should have sent 4-6 at a time to see if the query or pages still needed tweaking. Live and learn! 
  • The craziest thought I've ever had while being published is what if they made a grave mistake? What if they meant another Hélène Boudreau (like there are millions of us…)? 
  • When I saw my book sale in Publishers Marketplace, I cried. 

Hélène on Life Outside Writing 
  • If I weren't a writer, I'd probably be a mail carrier because I love to go on long walks. But I’d only work on nice days. None of this ‘rain, snow, sleet, hail’ stuff. 
  • Secretly, I'm terrified of mice, heights and cotton balls (if I were holding a mouse, chewing on a cotton ball, while looking down from a great height—I’d be done for). 
  • My secret boyfriend is greying Richard Gere or greying George Clooney. I bet Matt Damon will look great with grey hair, too. 
  • Sometimes, when no one is around, I compose imaginary Facebook statuses as I narrate my way through my day.

Hélène Boudreau writes fiction and non-fiction for children and young adults. She is also a compulsive walker, a chicklet wrangler and a lover of cheese and cheap chocolate. Her tween novel REAL MERMAIDS DON'T WEAR TOE RINGS is a 2011 Crystal Kite Member Choice Award Finalist

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Writers Like Us - Zoraida Cordova

I'm so excited to have Zoraida Cordova on the blog today to share her Writers Like Us answers. I just started reading THE VICIOUS DEEP to kick off my mermaid reading binge and I absolutely love it. Tristan is a fantastic main character and I love reading a mermaid story from a guy's POV.

Her answers are below in bold. Let us know what makes Zoraida like you in the comments.

Zoraida on Writing
  • I've written 5 books, and 2 have seen the light of day.
  • My favorite type of scene/character/setting to write is quirky.
  • No matter how long I've been writing, I still have issues with love.
  • A typical comment from my critique partner is WHY?!
  • The book I wished I wrote is WHITE CAT.

Zoraida on Getting Published
  • If my agent really knew how crazy I was, she would find out she already knows, and yet she still keeps me around! 
  • The craziest thought I've ever had while writing is "How do I blow shit up underwater?"
  • When I got "The Call," my first thought was "Really?"
  • When I saw my book sale in Publishers Marketplace, I smiled like the Joker.

Zoraida on Life Outside Publishing
  • If I weren't a writer, I'd probably be Indiana Jones.
  • (not so) Secretly, I'm terrified of falling.
  • My secret boyfriend is DAVID BOUDIA.
  • Sometimes, when no one is around, I DANCE.

Zoraida Córdova was born in Guayaquil, Ecuador. She made her way up north and now works in the glittering New York City nightlife. She likes shiny things like Christmas, merdudes, and the skyline at night. 

Thursday, May 16, 2013

For your TBR pile - Things I Can't Forget

Things I Can't Forget by Miranda Kenneally
When it will be published: out now, by Sourcebooks Fire

From GoodReads: Kate has always been the good girl. Too good, according to some people at school—although they have no idea the guilty secret she carries. But this summer, everything is different…
This summer she’s a counselor at Cumberland Creek summer camp, and she wants to put the past behind her. This summer Matt is back as a counselor too. He’s the first guy she ever kissed, and he’s gone from a geeky songwriter who loved The Hardy Boys to a buff lifeguard who loves to flirt--with her. Kate used to think the world was black and white, right and wrong. Turns out, life isn’t that easy…

What I liked most: There's nothing quite like opening a young adult romance with the expectation that you'll get a sweet, innocent summer camp story--and then getting walloped with a romance that makes you go WOAH BABY!

Although CATCHING JORDAN and STEALING PARKER have been at the top of my TBR pile for quite some while, THINGS I CAN'T FORGET was my first Miranda Kenneally book and I was not disappointed. I really loved these characters. Kate was so set in her beliefs at the start of camp and it only took Mini Poodle Matt to break down her walls and make her see the world differently.

I thought a lot about how Miranda challenged her main character by sending her to work as a camp counselor at a church camp. One thing I thought was very interesting was the range of beliefs and spirituality featured. While Kate was the extreme with a strict, conservative ideas, she ended up befriending Parker whose more liberal views helped soften Kate's views. Even though I'm not religious myself, I was really intrigued of how Kate held onto her beliefs but still grew to be more accepting of the world around her.

Why you should have it in your TBR pile: But of course, we haven't gotten to the romance yet. I was really surprised at how Miranda wove Kate and Matt's relationship together in a way that made sense with their opposing beliefs. Matt was a solid love interest who was interesting without being a stereotype. He had a core set of values and freewill to bend the rules. A lifeguard frat boy who drives a jeep without doors and is good with kids and can't stand to have his heart broken again? This is the reason you need to have this book in your TBR pile.

The one scene I'm dying for you to read: Hmm...oh man. There's too many. Any date Matt and Kate go on is adorable. Especially the one night he takes her home to meet his family.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Currently Reading - May 2013

So last month, I tackled everything in my April TBR pile with the exception of THE RAVEN BOYS. You know how there's always that one book that keeps getting shuffled to the bottom of your stack? That one's mine.

So to recap, last month I read:
  • TIGER LILY (Omg, swoon. Hardcore. Loved this book!)
  • EVERNEATH (did not expect to like something based on greek myth that much. Team Jack!)
  • And I'm finishing up NOBODY BUT US now (which I love, love, love. It's a modern day YA Bonnie and Clyde)
But I also read a lot of other stuff:
  • DARE YOU TO: McGary's companion novel to PUSHING THE LIMITS
  • THINGS I CAN'T FORGET: Swooooon! Review will be up tomorrow
  • WAIT FOR YOU: Cam is super cute and this story is super hot. I just had issues with the ending
  • HOW I LOST YOU: Really awesome story and my first Janet Gurtler book. I can't wait to read more of hers
  • THE TRUTH ABOUT YOU AND ME: My first Amanda Grace book, and let's just say I'm a HUGE fan now
So here's what I have in the stack for the rest of May into June:

I'm hoping to finally read some mermaid stories, so I have Anna Bank's OF POSEIDON, Sarah Porter's LOST VOICES, and Elizabeth Fama's MONSTROUS BEAUTY. Also, I went to this awesome signing here in Philadelphia last week and picked up Sara Zarr's new book, THE LUCY VARIATIONS, and Jennifer E. Smith's THIS IS WHAT HAPPY LOOKS LIKE.

So that's what I'm reading this month. What about you?

2013 Reading Challenge

2013 Reading Challenge
Valerie has read 11 books toward her goal of 50 books.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Writers Like Us - Janet Gurtler

I'm thrilled to have Janet Gurtler on the blog today and be a part of the HOW I LOST YOU blog tour. Janet wrote an amazing contemporary about how best friends stick together and how sometimes they break apart. I really liked HOW I LOST YOU and thought it was awesome to see girl paintballers featured.

Her answers are below in bold. Let us know what makes Janet like you in the comments.

Janet on Writing

  • I've written 12 books, and 6 have seen the light of day.
  • My favorite type of scene to write is the really emotional sad parts of a story.
  • No matter how long I've been writing, I still have issues with repetition of my favorite words or using “just”. Thank goodness for revisions. And editors. And crit partners.
  • A typical comment from my critique partner is this character isn’t acting very likeable.
  • The book I wished I wrote is Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret.

Janet on Getting Published
  • If my editor really knew how damaged I was, she would find out that I write what I write for a reason.
  • When I was querying, I felt impatient.
  • The biggest mistake I ever made querying was sending work before it was ready to be sent.
  • The craziest thought I've ever had while being published is WHY DO I DO THIS TO MYSELF?
  • When I got "The Call," my first thought was SUH-WEET.
  • When I saw my book sale in Publishers Marketplace, I did a little dance and song around the living room.

Janet on Life Outside Writing
  • If I weren't a writer, I'd probably be a Sales Rep, which I have been on and off for many years.
  • Secretly, I'm terrified of good-looking men (used to be good-looking boys but I got old).
  • My secret boyfriend is Robert Downey Jr.
  • Sometimes, when no one is around, I sing at the top of my lungs.

RITA ® Finalist Janet Gurtler lives in Calgary Alberta, near the Canadian Rockies, with her husband and son and a chubby Chihuahua named Bruce. She does not live in an Igloo or play hockey, but she does love maple syrup and says "eh" a lot.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Get Your Channing Friday On

I know. I's been too long. And you know what? This was one of those weeks that we just need to...


Because I don't know about you guys, but I was STRESSED this week. Like, really, really stressed.

Because writing is hard, and sometimes putting our work out there feels a little like this...

No matter if it's a contest or an agent request or a submission, sending our manuscripts off into the world is SUPER scary.

And we'll spend hours hovering our cursors over that SEND button.

Because rejection feels horrible, like agents and editors want nothing to do with what we have to offer.

It makes us jumpy. So every time we hear our inbox ding, we feel like this...

And then, after we read it, this...

Things like that rough us up. Really, they do.
Because the thought of enough to make us want to vomit.

And the idea of shelving the book of your heart and starting something new is devestating.

Sometimes it's not even you. Sometimes it's our critique partner who gets roughed up and even though we try, there's nothing we could do to help.

It's hard dodging writer stress, and it happens to us all.

I may have even pulled one of these around Tuesday. (Because, yes, I AM A FRAGILE FLOWER!)

But seriously, we can't wallow. Good things happen, and we have things to celebrate this week! 

Let's do this, Channing! 

Because I heard there were some book sales this week (*ahem* Megan Miranda, Dahlia Adler, Nikki Urang, Victoria Aveyard, and Krista Van Dozer)!

Okay, yeah, and Dahlia? You know you get one all for yourself. (CP Love!)

And The Writers Voice started this week and I just know some of you are about to be paired with an awesome coach! (I am SO a fan. #TeamMonicaFTW)

And I hear that some awesome kissing scenes were written (FINALLY!)

And there were some birthdays this week (Oh hey, Jodi Meadows, Rachel Simon, Jessica Shea, Barbara Ellingson, and Erin Harris!)

And I hear Jodi Meadows is giving away an ARC of the last book in the Incarnate Trilogy.

And some lucky people got to go to RT13 to frolic with all their favorite writer friends.

The point is we have to celebrate all the things, big or small. Because otherwise you'll drown in the stress...

Anna Banks is right. Good or bad, no matter how hard it gets, we're in this together...

Because eventually someone's going to want our work and take us home.

And until then, we've got Channing Fridays.

 Now and forever (or just on Fridays. Whatever).

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

For Your TBR Pile - The Truth About You and Me

The Truth About You and Me by Amanda Grace / Mandy Hubbard
When it will be published: September 8th, by Flux

From GoodReads: Smart girls aren't supposed to do stupid things. Madelyn Hawkins is super smart. At sixteen, she's so gifted that she can attend college through a special program at her high school. On her first day, she meets Bennet. He's cute, funny, and kind. He understands Madelyn and what she's endured—and missed out on—in order to excel academically and please her parents. Now, for the first time in her life, she's falling in love.

There's only one problem. Bennet is Madelyn's college professor, and he thinks she's eighteen—because she hasn't told him the truth.The story of their forbidden romance is told in letters that Madelyn writes to Bennet—both a heart-searing ode to their ill-fated love and an apology.

What I liked most: Truthfully, I had no idea what to expect going into this book. I knew Mandy Hubbard is a well respected literary agent, that she has some of my favorite writers on her roster (hey, Jessica Martinez!), and that she's written a lot of contemporaries that I've had in my TBR pile for a long time. So I was excited when Flux provided me a galley of her newest, THE TRUTH ABOUT YOU AND ME.

Mandy's pages don't pull you in, they RIP you in. I couldn't put this book down and the story read so easily that I barely noticed when I passed through the 50% mark in my first sitting. This is one of those books I craved to read more and thought about when I had to set it down. I think, going in, the premise seems like it would be dark or creepy or wrong. It's not. I mean, it is because the love interest is so much older, but this story isn't so much about the romance as it is the coming of age. Madelyn falls in love and finds herself. 

I've seen a few reviews that pointed out the format is hard to get into--the story is told through the main characters letters to Bennet, explaining her side of their story and why she made the choices she did. There are no chapters. That stream of consciousness-type of writing isn't something I read often, and Mandy does an amazing job executing it so that it feels intimate so you want to keep turning the pages.

Why you should have it in your TBR: I think when we talk about romance in books we get lost in the cliches. Sure, there's sweaty palms and awkward kisses. There's funny, flirty banter and obstacles in the way (friends, parents, feelings), but rarely do authors focus on how that romance shakes the character down at the core and changes them forever. This book made me rethink everything I know about a love story. And I loved it. I absolutely loved it.

The one scene I'm dying for you to read: This quote. Just this. 
"It's not easy for anyone to break away from what they are used to...But that's where you find yourself." 
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