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Sunday, June 30, 2013

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea Giveaway

Release Date: August 15, 2013
Publisher: Dial

You stop fearing the devil when you’re holding his hand…

Nothing much exciting rolls through Violet White’s sleepy, seaside town…until River West comes along. River rents the guesthouse behind Violet’s crumbling estate, and as eerie, grim things start to happen, Violet begins to wonder about the boy living in her backyard. Is River just a crooked-smiling liar with pretty eyes and a mysterious past? Or could he be something more? Violet’s grandmother always warned her about the Devil, but she never said he could be a dark-haired boy who takes naps in the sun, who likes coffee, who kisses you in a cemetery...who makes you want to kiss back. Violet’s already so knee-deep in love, she can’t see straight. And that’s just how River likes it.

Friday, June 28, 2013

JIAM Interview: Sarah Lieberman with Simon & Schuster

Sarah Lieberman, a graduate of Bryn Mawr College and Director of Marketing for Simon & Schuster Audio, is here today to share her insights on audiobooks and She began her career in the audiobook industry in May of 2000 and has loved every minute of it.

What determines if an audiobook gets a physical format as well as a digital one?
As I mentioned last year – with retail space continuing to shrink deciding what to publish on CD has become a more selective process. All of our titles are published digitally and are available on CD in the library space. It’s worth noting that publishing a title digital only is not a measure of the quality of a title but instead where we believe the opportunity and audience exist. Our goal is always to give each title the best chance of success and some of the considerations involved in deciding whether to publish physically, digitally or both include the genre of the title, the length and therefor the potential cost of a CD edition.

Audio offers the opportunity to let readers hear directly from the author, but how do you select which books get bonus features? 
We love to offer bonus content to tie-in with our audiobooks and that includes going behind the scenes at our recording sessions with both the authors and the narrators to get interviews, photos and video content. Sometimes that content ends up on the audiobook itself, other times it is used as part of the marketing and publicity push that takes place leading up to and at on sale. Often we share this content on author platforms, social media and with bloggers as well as major media outlets. We make every effort to interview and photograph all authors and narrators that come through our studios, sometimes we aren’t able to get content for a variety of reasons but we are actively engaged in creating original content that fans can enjoy to make the audio experience unique. 

When it comes to audio samples, how do select a snippet that will entice  readers? 
It depends on what we are trying to accomplish. Sometimes the snippets come from the first portion of a program to avoid any spoilers or to engage fans the way reading the first few pages of a book would. Other times there might be a scene that is particularly dramatic or racy or exciting so we will choose that. Authors sometimes have strong feelings about what excerpt they want to share and we take that into account. Publicity opportunities like tying in with online serials also play a part so you can see there is no one answer!

What should readers be on the lookout for from Simon & Schuster Audio?
It’s really hard to choose – we have so much great content coming up in the next few months. There a few big names in audio narration that I am dying to share but I have to keep mum on them for now! I can tell you that just last week we announced that Grammy Award-winner Lyle Lovett will be narrating Kathi Appelt’s True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swampwhich is a fun pairing and also Lovette’s first turn as an audiobook narrator. In addition, we have cast a wonderful and beloved reader for Susan Cooper’s Ghost Hawk so stay tuned for that announcement! Next month will be huge with lots of terrific releases. Some of my favorites are Light of the World by James Lee Burke read by his longtime narrator Will Patton, Christina Lauren’s Beautiful Bitch which is fantastic fun, Hidden Order, the newest Scot Harvath thriller from Brad Thor and MacRieve by Kresley Cole (speaking of bonus features fans can get their own Kresley Cole audio widget here: http://kresleycole.com/kcaudiobooks/ ) As we head into fall I think listeners will be really excited for The White Princess by Philippa Gregory which will be available right around the time of the new Starz series The White Queen. For fans of nonfiction we will have The Bully Pulpit, the first presidential history from Doris Kearns Goodwin since Lincoln, the film adaptation of her book Team of Rivals. It will be read by the always stellar Edward Herrmann so that is one I’m really looking forward to. We are also very pleased to be publishing Wilson – a biography from Scott Berg, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Lindbergh. And last but certainly not least, we have a brand new Stephen King recording – called Doctor Sleep, the sequel to The Shining. It’s not cast yet but if you want a sneak peak you can download The Wind Through the Keyhole audiobook to hear King himself narrating the first chapter.
Clearly listeners have a lot to be excited about and I’m looking forward to getting the word out about these and our other great productions in 2013.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Neil Gaiman Signing Recap

An outing with good friends is always a good time, but when you're going to see Neil Gaiman it can only be described as epically awesome. 

The event was in Washington, D.C. so I took the day off and met up with Wes in the afternoon. He was running behind so we had to skip our plans for early dinner and head straight to the G.W. Lisner auditorium, where Jessica and Elizabeth were already waiting in line more than an hour ahead of time. The line was terrifying, nearly wrapping around the building, but it moved quickly. 

Inside was one of the biggest nerdfests ever. People of all ages, from all walks of life, packed the auditorium and waiting to see Neil. Among them was a muppet-style Neil puppet, which Gaiman later confessed he almost asked to join him on stage to read the audience's questions during the Q&A.

Gaiman explained that his latest novel, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, began as a short story that he couldn't seem to stop writing. By the time he spoke with his editor he said "Apparently, I've written a novel." 

After telling the story of how his first adult novel in years came to be, he read from The Ocean at the End of the Lane. I could listen to that man read all day. Even Wes admitted that anyone else reading the novel aloud would pale in comparison to Gaiman's reading. 

Once the Q&A was over, Gaiman said he would sign until his hand fell off. A fan cheered and Gaiman's face dropped a little. He replied, "You can't wooo my hand falling off!."

Then the folks from Politics & Prose explained how the signing would work. We would be called up in groups to get their books signed by ticket number. Naturally, this prompted a flurry of activity in the audience where everyone pulled out their ticket and looked at the number. The Wastepaper Prose team... We were in the 500s. Could've been worse. There were 1,200 people there.

Of course as the waiting dragged on we  began our descent into madness. In close quarters with people who are already weird, things just tend to get weirder. Discussions of what it looks like when Jessica's mouth cries, "negotiating the scooch", and how Jessica and I reading The Ocean at the End of the Lane aloud to Wes did not count as listening to an audiobook for June is Audiobook Month kept us amused in that "I no longer know what is going on" kind of way. Although, even event security thought Wes should have already finished the slim novel by the time our number was called. (Don't worry. He's done now and reviewing it soon.)

By the time we reached the stage it was after 11 p.m. and Elizabeth was the only one of our group still holding it together. Jessica was having a B52's style dance party, Wes was consumed by thoughts of pancake cheeseburgers (Yes, combined.), and I was wondering if, when it was all over, I would recognize the outside world. 

I sobered myself as we approached the signing table and choreographed an adult conversation with Neil Gaiman in my head. Just in front of me, Wes, who could write a dissertation on the collected works of Neil Gaiman, was getting his books signed. Yet in the brief window for interaction, Wes doesn't tell the author whose work he loves so dearly how much he appreciates his contributions to the world of literature. 

Instead, he leaves Gaiman with: "I feel like I should tell you your next book should be a cheeseburger." *facepalm* To his credit, Neil Gaiman wished Wes well in his quest for sustenance.What can I say? He's a class act.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

JIAM Interview: Melissa Coates with Brilliance Audio

In her 14 years in the audiobook industry, Melissa Coates has been involved in every aspect of audiobook production. She has been a proofer, recording engineer, post production engineer and director on hundreds of audiobooks in every genre, and is currently a producer and audio proofing supervisor at Brilliance Audio

What is your favorite thing about audiobooks?
Like most people today, I am constantly on the go.  Audiobooks are a great way for me to catch up on the reading that I don’t have time for. Audiobooks are also a great way to experience a book as a group, by listening together. You can discuss the plot and character's motives in real time.

What are some of your favorite books to experience on audio? What do you feel the audio adds to the story?
Two of my favorite audiobooks are the Audie Award winner The Watch That Ends the Night by Allan Wolf and The Luck of the Buttons by Anne Ylvisaker. The Watch That Ends the Night is a collection of poems about the sinking of the Titanic.  The production of the audiobook draws the listener even farther into the emotion of each poem through a variety of narrators and sound effects.  In one scene,  you can hear the people screaming for help in the background, making you feel like you are actually there.  In The Luck of the Buttons by Anne Ylvisaker, I found that narrator Laura Hamilton's performance made the characters really come to life off the page. With the number of characters in this book, Laura did a wonderful job interpreting the numerous quirky characters and the dynamics of both the Buttons family and townsfolk, giving them individuality through character voices. A good narrator performance can make a great story even greater.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

BEA 2013 Recap

Book Expo America was a bit of a whirlwind this year. Barely four days including travel, burning the candle at both ends as usual. Such is the life of a BEA-goer right?

Prior to my leaving Alex London, author of Proxy, described BEA best: "You go there for one panel, 6 weeks & 473 tote bags later, you emerge and still haven't found a way to get a cup of coffee." Yep, that's pretty accurate.

I retrieved one woefully under-caffeinated boy blogger AKA Wes after two hours of driving and a lot of traffic. We arrived in NYC around 1 p.m., parked the car with relative ease, and checked into the hotel before immediately heading out to Rockefeller Center to meet up with Emily at a lunch get together where I also got to see Katie from Katie's Book Blog, Bailey from IB Book Blogging and Lauren from 365 Days of Reading.

Afterwards Katie, Emily, Wes and I hopped the subway to Penn Station and made the walk to the Javits Center to get our badges in preparation for the opening of exhibits the following morning. We found Yara at the hotel and spent some time catching up before getting ready for the Harper Collins  Blogger Party.

Me and Jessica. 
This was the point at which we learned the only pants Wes had packed were khaki shorts and suit pants. Waaaah waaaaah! So naturally Yara offered him her sparkly pants. Very New York. Sadly, Wes turned them down.

Overwhelming doesn't even begin to cover the Harper shindig. It was packed to the brim and you could barely hear your own conversation at times, but we had a blast. I got to chat with number of authors, some I was already familiar with and others who I was meeting for the first time.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Guest Post: Julie Kagawa on the audiobook experience

Julie Kagawa, New York Times bestselling author of the Iron Fey and Blood of Eden series and all around superstar, is here today to celebrate audiobooks with us. Of course her books are amazing, but the audio is even more engaging. She has had some amazing luck when it comes to narrators! She's here to share her thoughts about the audio versions of her books and express her love for all things audiobook.

Find Julie online... 

Check out her audiobooks HERE!

Things I love about audiobooks:

1. They're great for when I'm too tired to actually pick up a book and read.

2. They're the best thing for long car/plane rides. Five hours on a plane zips right by when you're immersed in an audio book. It can even drown out the screaming infant sitting behind you.

3. If the narrator is James Marsters or Neil Gaiman, you get to listen to their (sexy) voice for the duration of the book.

Lol, okay okay. So this isn't the most logical list ever. Except maybe the screaming infant thing.  Regardless, I love audio books.  Maybe it goes back to my own mom reading me a story when I was a kid. I think that's where my love of reading began. And if the narrator is fabulous--as all of mine were--you get to hear the characters come to life in completely new and awesome ways.

For the audio versions of the Iron Fey and Blood of Eden series, I've had exactly five narrators.  One for Meghan, Puck, Ash, Ethan, and Allie. I've listened to them all, and I honestly can't say which I've enjoyed more. All the narrators were extraordinary and fascinating in their own way.  And for the record, hearing your own book read back to you is an odd experience; it's almost like you're listening to a different story. I must commend all of my narrators for what I know had to be several very emotional scenes. (The last chapter of The Eternity Cure comes to mind, and Therese Plummer nailed it.)     

I guess what I'm trying to say with this post is: if you haven't listened to an audio book yet, definitely try it out. Especially if you're going on a long car or plane trip. It really is a different experience. And grab a book read by Neil Gaiman or James Marsters. You'll thank me later.  ;)

YA Author Smackdown Final Round – KAPOW! (Giveaway)

It's release week for both Rush by Eve Silver and Another Little Piece by Kate Karyus Quinn! 


What is the SMACKDOWN all about? Kate Karyus Quinn's Another Little Piece and Eve Silver's Rush are release-date mates, June 11, 2013. When Kate and Eve realized their books come out on the same day, they decided to give a shout out to each other's titles. They discussed options including guest blogs, contests, tweets, status updates, and then things turned dark. Very, very dark. History will never know for sure who threw down first, but Kate and Eve's smacktalk ramped up with each email exchanged, until The Smackdown was born (in blood and fire and pain...well, not really, but you get the picture).

Week one:
Each day from June 10-14, there will be video/gif challenges posted on the following blogs listed below. Commenters vote for their winner. All comments are entered to WIN one of two awesome prize packs.

Week two (June 17-21):
Each day, there will be excerpts and more posted on the same blogs. Commenters are entered to WIN one of two awesome prize packs.

Check out what you've missed...
June 10th - Shortie Says... (Round 1)/Good Choice Reading (Highlight Post)
June 11th - Books With Bite (Round 2)
June 12th - ReadingTeen (Round 3)
June 13th - Once Upon A Twilight (Round 4 - Eve Silver)/Good Choice Reading (Round 4 - Kate Karyus Quinn)

The spine-tingling horror of Stephen King meets an eerie mystery worthy of Sara Shepard's Pretty Little Liars series in Kate Karyus Quinn's haunting debut.

On a cool autumn night, Annaliese Rose Gordon stumbled out of the woods and into a high school party. She was screaming. Drenched in blood. Then she vanished.

A year later, Annaliese is found wandering down a road hundreds of miles away. She doesn't know who she is. She doesn't know how she got there. She only knows one thing: She is not the real Annaliese Rose Gordon.

Now Annaliese is haunted by strange visions and broken memories. Memories of a reckless, desperate wish . . . a bloody razor . . . and the faces of other girls who disappeared. Piece by piece, Annaliese's fractured memories come together to reveal a violent, endless cycle that she will never escape—unless she can unlock the twisted secrets of her past.


So what’s the game now? This, or the life I used to know?

When Miki Jones is pulled from her life, pulled through time and space into some kind of game—her carefully controlled life spirals into chaos. In the game, she and a team of other teens are sent on missions to eliminate the Drau, terrifying and beautiful alien creatures. There are no practice runs, no training, and no way out. Miki has only the guidance of secretive but maddeningly attractive team leader Jackson Tate, who says the game isn’t really a game, that what Miki and her new teammates do now determines their survival, and the survival of every other person on this planet. She laughs. He doesn’t. And then the game takes a deadly and terrifying turn.


Kate Karyus Quinn has two college degrees - a BFA in Theatre from Niagara University and an MFA in Film and Television Production from Chapman University. In addition, her short romantic fiction pieces have been published in Woman’s World magazine.

After growing up in the suburbs of Buffalo, NY, Kate left her hometown for Southern California and film school. After finishing her degree, she moved with her husband to Knoxville, Tennessee. However, just recently she made the move back home, with her husband and two children in tow. She promised them wonderful people, amazing food, and weather that would... build character.

Kate is first and foremost an avid reader and unapologetic booknerd. Although, she mostly reads YA and romance, she often samples different genres in her constant search for the next great read.

Kate is represented by Alexandra Machinist of Janklow and Nesbit. Her book, Another Little Piece, will be published by HarperTeen in Summer 2013.


Eve Silver lives with her gamer husband and sons, sometimes in Canada, but often in worlds she dreams up. She loves kayaking and sunshine, dogs and desserts, and books, lots and lots of books. Watch for the first book in Eve’s new teen series, The Game: Rush, coming from Katherine Tegen Books, June 2013. She also writes books for adults.


Thursday, June 13, 2013

More Author Insight: Publishing Industry Notes ( and the giveaway winner!)

What notes have you taken from the publishing industry recently in hopes of reaching a broader audience and/or increasing your longevity as an author?

"You asked this same thing ten questions ago: successful authors diversify. Unless your plan is to write a single massive blockbuster series that never goes out of print and attracts perpetual attention for the rest of your life, you ned to keep writing and innovating and trying new things and testing new markets. Which isn't really a bad thing, because writing is what got you into this business in the first place, right? Turns out you get to do way more of it than you thought, in all kinds of cool little niches and venues and styles. I find it invigorating." - Dan Wells, author of Fragments. 

"I’ve actually taken fewer notes than I did when I first started trying to get published. For me, being away from the industry can be extremely rejuvenating. I think that plays a big role in how I write. So many smarter authors than me have said you have to live in order to write, and I’m taking that to heart lately. As far as I’ve seen, it’s excellent advice." - Natalie Whipple, author of Transparent

"That longevity as an author doesn’t stem from large numbers of friends or followers on online social media sites. It comes from sitting down every day to write, turning projects in to your agent or editor, and never giving up." - Page Morgan, author of The Beautiful and the Cursed

"I actually take away notes that might say kind of the opposite. There is no failsafe. There is no magic thing we can do. What may work for one book and one author may not work for me, and in fact everyone in the industry is often guessing as to what will grow an audience and increase a writer’s longevity in this business. I’m not saying I don’t welcome the advice of the professionals. My ears are open, and I listen. But at the end of the day, I do only what feels genuine to me. I write the books I want to write. And we’ll see." - Nova Ren Suma, author of 17 & Gone.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Cover reveal & giveaway: A Little Too Far by Lisa Desrochers

A Little Too Far
by Lisa Desrochers
Publisher: William Morrow
Release Date: Sept. 17,2013

Have you ever gone just a little too far?

Lexie Banks has.
Yep. She just had mind-blowing sex with her stepbrother.In her defense, she was on the rebound, and it’s more of a my-dad-happened-to-marry-a-woman-with-a-super-hot-son situation. But still, he’s been her best friend and confidant for better part of the last few years…and is so off limits. It’s a good thing she’s leaving in two days for a year abroad in Rome.But even thousands of miles away, Lexie can’t seem to escape trouble. Raised Catholic, she goes to Confession in hopes of alleviating some of her guilt…and maybe not burning in hell. Instead, she stumbles out of the confessional right into Alessandro Moretti, a young and very easy on the eyes deacon…only eight months away from becoming a priest. As Lexie and Alessandro grow closer, and when Alessandro’s signals start changing despite his vow of celibacy, she doesn’t know what to think. She’s torn between falling in love with the man she shouldn’t want and the man she can’t have. And she isn’t sure how she can live with herself either way.

Find Lisa Desrochers on the web...

Giveaway courtesy of Harper Collins.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Author Insight: Publishing Industry Notes

What notes have you taken from the publishing industry recently in hopes of reaching a broader audience and/or increasing your longevity as an author?

"Social media, all the time. I don’t enjoy it, but there is simply no way around having a robust social media presence." - Bill Konigsberg, author of Openly Straight

"It's the advice that everyone told me when I first started out, that I smiled and nodded at, and then disregarded. And that is to focus on my next book. That's really all I can do. Publicity, marketing, that's in the hands of my publishers. What I can do--what I have total control over--is writing my next book. And that's what I have learned to focus on." - Aprilynne Pike, author of Life After Theft and Earthbound.

"Given the crossover appeal of YA these days, it seems that readers are more accepting of an author bouncing from children’s literature to adult and back again. I’d like to do that." - Lex Hrabe , co-author of Quarantine: The Loners

"It's all about marketing. I read everything I can on it. An author’s job is 50% brand management, and every day publishers are putting more of that job into our hands. It’s not glamorous, but it is what it is." - Victoria Scott, author of The Collector.

Monday, June 10, 2013

A Matter of Days by Amber Kizer

Release Date: June 11, 2013
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Age Group: Young Adult
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Pages: 288
Buy: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / IndieBound
Description: Goodreads
On Day 56 of the pandemic called BluStar, sixteen-year-old Nadia's mother dies, leaving her responsible for her younger brother Rabbit. They secretly received antivirus vaccines from their uncle, but most people weren't as lucky. Their deceased father taught them to adapt and survive whatever comes their way. That's their plan as they trek from Seattle to their grandfather's survivalist compound in West Virginia. Using practical survival techniques, they make their way through a world of death and destruction until they encounter an injured dog; Zack, a street kid from Los Angeles; and other survivors who are seldom what they seem. Illness, infections, fatigue, and meager supplies have become a way of life. Still, it will be worth it once they arrive at the designated place on the map they have memorized. But what if no one is there to meet them?

Intense, realistic, and entirely believable, A Matter of Days took my breath away. Amber Kizer does post-apocalyptic in the most beautifully understated way and makes a disturbing pandemic and the world created in its aftermath feel absolutely plausible.

BluStar came on quickly, eliminating much of the world's population in a matter of weeks. Some people had a natural immunity, but Nadia and her younger brother Rabbit were vaccinated against the hemorrhagic virus. But surviving wasn't enough. They have to make a treacherous trip cross country from Seattle to West Virginia, confronting the new and hostile world formed in the wake of the disease in hopes of reaching a safe haven they hope will offer a new beginning.

So often post-apocalyptic novels are over-the-top, but I think the restraint is what impressed me most about A Matter of Days. Human nature and emotion are the focus of the story despite the fact that a virus sets everything in motion. After the journey begins, BluStar takes a back seat.

A story this clean and streamlined is refreshing. It's got an intriguing concept, good pacing, tight writing and engaging characters with voices all their own.

Nadia is frightened but unwavering in her quest to reach West Virginia, even though there's a chance there may be no one there to greet her and her brother. Rabbit doesn't have the luxury of being an 11-year-old boy and rises to the challenge; however, Kizer drops the occasional reminder that he's just a kid. Then there's Zack, a would-be delinquent L.A. street kid who's managed to put his less than savory skills to use for survival. The unlikely trio compliments each other incredibly well.

I was also happy to see that plot and the interaction between characters were the thrust of the book. No zombies showed up, there's no love triangle to cause problems and suspension of disbelief wasn't an issue because I didn't feel like any aspect of the story was overblown or unbelievable. For example, Nadia, Rabbit and Zack don't conveniently find a car whenever they need one. On more than one occasion they have to walk or find alternate transportation.

The trio meets a wide range of people along the way - both good and bad - and even picks up a dog and a bird they nurse back to health. They are witnesses to the kindness that endures and victims of the corruption and outlaw culture of their new world, showcasing the best and worst of human nature. One scene with an older man who shares his story and asks them to deliver word to his sister that he survived even got me choked up.

Given my rough history with post-apocalyptic fiction, I was afraid A Matter of Days might fall into the "enjoyable, but average" category. The truth is this novel impressed me in ways I didn't l know I needed to be impressed, namely making regular people shaped by tragedy and desperation the heroes, the victims and the villains of the same tale. It reminded me that telling a good story doesn't always mean telling a complicated one.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

The Secret Ingredient by Stewart Lewis

Release Date: June 11, 2013
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Age Group: Young Adult
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Pages: 256
Buy: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / IndieBound
Description: Goodreads
For fans of Sarah Dessen and Jay Asher's 13 Reasons Why comes a journey of family, food, romance, and self-discovery as Olivia, a teen chef living in L.A., finds a vintage cookbook and begins a search for her birthmother that will change her life forever.

Olivia doesn’t believe in psychics. But the summer before her senior year of high school, she meets one in an elevator.

This summer will be pivotal, the psychic warns. Please remember—all your choices are connected.

Olivia loves her life in Silverlake, Los Angeles, but lately, something’s been missing. And after getting this strange advice, her world begins to change. A new job leads Olivia to a gorgeous, mysterious boy named Theo. And as Olivia cooks the recipes from a vintage cookbook she stumbles upon, she begins to wonder if the mother she’s never known might be the secret ingredient she’s been lacking. 

But sometimes the things we search for are the things we’ve had all along.

Everyone has nagging thoughts, questions that get them wondering what life would be like if  things were different. For Olivia, an old cookbook will kick-start a summer of discovery that sends her on a search for the mother she's never known and teach her a lot about life, love, and family along the way.

Well-written and realistic, The Secret Ingredient was a fast read, but it didn't suck me in the way I'd hoped it would. Perhaps it was the comparison to 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher that made me find this novel wanting.

Adopted into a non-traditional family - two dads and an older brother - Olivia has worked in her father Bell's restaurant during the summer for the last few years, but this year he doesn't need the help because business isn't what it used to be. Knowing her family is struggling financially, she wants to find a job with a decent paycheck so she can help her family out, all the while continuing to cook the weekly special at the restaurant. Outside of the restaurant's dip in business, her brother is facing problems of his own, a friend's mom isn't doing well, and in the midst of everything Olivia is trying to navigate first love.

In a novel that covers so many of the issues people deal with day-to-day, I didn't feel an emotional connection. I anxiously waited for those heartrending moments when I'd be consumed by raw emotion. Sadly, they never came.

The broad plot was also a challenge for me. I felt like Stewart Lewis just took on too much and plot line never got pulled taught, leaving me with a sense that I'd wandered off the path somewhere. I hate to go back to expectations, but if something is compared to an edgy, emotional ride like 13 Reasons Why then I'm anticipating a tight plot that fits together like crisp new puzzle pieces and an emotional connection so deep I have trouble putting the book back on the shelf.

Olivia isn't the typical teenage girl. She comes off as very down-to-earth and aware of people's true motivations. She seems completely unconcerned with things like fashion, even quietly laughing at two girls looking for a modeling job because she knows it's not something she wants. It's rare that you find a character who shirks persona in favor of personality.

The Secret Ingredient is an endearing novel that overall makes for an enjoyable read. I found the cooking wisdom and one-liners amusing. However, the story didn't resonate with me. If you're in the mood to take a journey through the struggles of real life and you're okay with meandering a bit then I'd say this book is for you.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

More Author Insight: A Writer's Research (and the big giveaway!)

Do you approach research physically or virtually? Have you ever overlooked one of your findings to make a story work?

"Research is one of my favorite parts of writing, and I do it physically, virtually, and every other way you can think of. I just finished a book about cloning, and after some research and interviews found a way that my style of cloning would actually work...and then didn't use it, because it wasn't as flashy as I wanted it to be." - Dan Wells, author of Fragments. 

"Both. I bought some goldfish for my last novel, so I would know how to care for them. Sadly, I killed two before I got the hang of it. I’m big on food, and I always describe things I’ve actually eaten and enjoyed. I’ve set most of my contemporary novels in places I’ve actually been/lived.

But I also do a lot of research online. I live on Google Maps when writing in a real place. There’s always something you need to learn about as a writer, whether it be ninjas or the Cold War or the types of trees that grow in certain parts of the country." - Natalie Whipple, author of Transparent

"Mostly, I research virtually or through books. I did take a trip to Paris last fall though to research in person and it was so valuable. I have my limits to what I’ll overlook in order to make something in my story work. If it’s small enough, I don’t feel too guilty about smudging historical facts." - Page Morgan, author of The Beautiful and the Cursed

"I research and then let go. For me, the story comes first and if I have to squash and rearrange the truth a little, well, so be it. (I think it helps that my books often have a fantastical bent, so there’s always some excuse I can invent to service the story.) I do most of my story research online, but there is something so romantic and authorly about going to the Main Reading Room at the New York Public Library with the lions out front and paging through a rare book not allowed outside the building. I want to do more of that.." - Nova Ren Suma, author of 17 & Gone.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

June is Audiobook Month Kick-Off

Listen up people! June's here and that means audiobooks are taking center stage, so it's time sound off and share the love. 

We're partnering with Page Turners Blog and several publishers to celebrate June is Audiobook Month. For the rest of the month we'll be highlighting everything we love about audiobooks, sharing summer listening lists and interviewing authors, and industry professionals about what goes into creating the audio we adore.

I wasn't always a fan of audiobooks. I know, shocking but true. Who doesn't like having a good story read to them? It took a long time but a few good narrators paired with some awesome books and I eventually came around. 

When they're good, audiobooks can achieve the height of reader engagement. They add a whole new dimension to to books that you can't get when you're doing the page turning yourself. 

Be sure to check both blogs each week for new posts about everything audio. If you're anxious to get a jump on things, take a look back at last years JIAM posts

Stay tuned for all the information, giveaways, reviews, and festivity, and don't hesitate to join in on the fun!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Author Insight: A Writer's Research

Do you approach research physically or virtually? Have you ever overlooked one of your findings to make a story work?

"Facts are facts. Ignoring the facts to make a story work is the surest way to have a story that doesn’t work." - Bill Konigsberg, author of Openly Straight

"Mostly virtually. I have done some traveling to the area where the book I'm currently working on is set, but that's a privilege I've only had access to the last couple of years. For the most part, the internet is my library." - Aprilynne Pike, author of Life After Theft and Earthbound.

"In the future, I’d love to devote more time to physical research, but in the case of Quarantine, a lot of our research was online, looking at different floorplans and high school architecture. In the end though, our high school became its own creation, an amalgam of things we’d seen or experienced and things we simply needed for the story to work. There’s only so many settings in a locked high school, but the fun came when we got to re-imagine those places as gang turf." - Lex Hrabe , co-author of Quarantine: The Loners

"I do virtual research, and yes, all the time. At the end of the day, I believe readers want a good fiction story, not hard facts." - Victoria Scott, author of The Collector.