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Monday, September 30, 2013

Just One Year by Gayle Forman

Release Date: Oct. 10, 2013
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile
Age Group: Young Adult
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Pages: 323
Buy: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / IndieBound
Description: Goodreads
The heartrending conclusion—from Willem’s POV—to the romantic duet of novels that began with Allyson’s story in Just One Day

After spending an amazing day and night together in Paris, Just One Year is Willem’s story, picking up where Just One Day ended. His story of their year of quiet longing and near misses is a perfect counterpoint to Allyson’s own as Willem undergoes a transformative journey, questioning his path, finding love, and ultimately, redefining himself.

In my review of Just One Day, you may remember that I was essentially straight-up in all the ways dying to read Just One Year like right now Gayle Forman you give me this book and you put it in my hands omg WHY.  In other more word-like words, I was desperate to know Willem’s side of things as soon as humanly possible.  By some manner of magic and/or witchcraft, I managed to snag an advance copy of Just One Year, and I was over the moon about it!  However, I committed the cardinal sin of reading—in a fever to answer my questions, I skipped to the end.  I KNOW; I am a terrible person.  While I’ll try my best to be NO SPOILERS about this, my original feeling was, oddly enough, disappointment.  Over the past few months, I wondered and figured and hypothesized and decided exactly what I wanted from Willem’s point of view.  This no-context, just-the-destination ending wasn’t the book I wanted.

Thankfully, it ended up being the book I needed instead, and we all know that is SO much better.

Upon finishing the entire novel, I had this incredible urge to cry.  Or laugh.  Possibly both.  Together.  I felt sated in a way I didn't think I would be when I began.  The journey itself is the important part, and the destination isn’t nearly the endpoint.  Books—or rather, good books-- teach that in theory, but this duet of stories does that more than anything else I’ve read before.  It is its own double happiness.  It's very nearly overwhelming, so many times over.  Gayle Forman is a spectacular storyteller; she continues to blow me away with each and every novel.  

There are many who won’t agree with me, but while I found him to be an interesting character, Willem de Ruiter wasn’t one of my Book Boyfriends.  He was a little too sure, a little too sad, a little too… something I couldn’t place.  I could see why Allyson was drawn to him, though.  While I read, my previous feeling still applied, but (obviously) it’s clearly understandable why he is the way he is.  Willem and I both learned the power of perspective, almost simultaneously.  Willem is a runner, all in the name of keeping his thoughts on the move rather than standing still.  We soon discover why Willem wants to travel to every nook and cranny of the globe, and I can’t say I blame him.  However, whenever he stops, he sees Lulu’s face.  He enlists a cast of hilarious characters to help him on what he thinks is an impossible quest—find Lulu, the only girl who has stained him.  It’s in the movement and the journey that he discovers what he’s really looking for, and I wouldn’t dare spoil that for you.

In case it isn’t clear, I adored this book just as much, if not more, than its predecessor.  I can see many rereads of this in my future, including a dueling POV reread that will most likely enamor me even more to Allyson and Willem.  If the cover says Gayle Forman, then it’s going to be a life-changing read.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Where the Stars Still Shine Blog Tour & Giveaway

We're very excited to have Trish Doller, author of Where the Stars Still Shine, here today to tell us about how kidnapping became part of this story and how she researched it. Be sure to check out Jessica' review of this fantastic novel HERE.

Where the Stars Still Shine
by Trish Doller

Release date: Sept. 24, 2013
Publisher: Bloomsbury Children's

Stolen as a child from her large and loving family, and on the run with her mom for more than ten years, Callie has only the barest idea of what normal life might be like. She's never had a home, never gone to school, and has gotten most of her meals from laundromat vending machines. Her dreams are haunted by memories she’d like to forget completely. But when Callie’s mom is finally arrested for kidnapping her, and Callie’s real dad whisks her back to what would have been her life, in a small town in Florida, Callie must find a way to leave the past behind. She must learn to be part of a family. And she must believe that love--even with someone who seems an improbable choice--is more than just a possibility.

Trish Doller writes incredibly real teens, and this searing story of love, betrayal, and how not to lose your mind will resonate with readers who want their stories gritty and utterly true.

                     About the Author
Trish Doller has been a writer as long as she's been able to write, but didn't make a conscious decision to "be" a writer until fairly recently. For that you should probably be thankful.

She was born in Germany, grew up in Ohio, went to college at Ohio State University, got married to someone really excellent, bounced from Maine to Michigan and back to Ohio for awhile. She now lives in Florida with her two mostly grown kids, two dogs, and a pirate. For real.

She has worked as a morning radio personality, a newspaper reporter, and spent all my summers in college working at an amusement park. There she gained valuable life skills, including counting money really fast, directing traffic, jumping off a moving train, and making cheese-on-a-stick. Also, she can still welcome you to Frontier Town. Ask me sometime.

These days she works as a bookseller at a Very Big Bookstore. And she writes.

Find Trish online... 

Callie’s character started taking shape after a visit to Tarpon Springs, which is the setting for Where the Stars Still Shine. It’s a small town on the gulf coast of Florida that boasts a significant Greek-American population and a really fun little tourist district called the Sponge Docks. I was walking through the Sponge Docks, surrounded by Greek restaurants, gift shops, and attractions highlighting the sponge diving trade that’s been a mainstay of the area for more than a century. I passed little old men with white beards and Greek fisherman’s caps and elderly women who spoke the language as if they’d just arrived in the United States from Greece. And I knew that I had to write something in this interesting little place.

    So I started thinking about what it might feel like to be dropped into that little pocket of Greek life and be expected to function. And then I started wondering who. I had already started developing a local boy as the male lead, so I knew she would be a girl, but I didn’t know who. I thought maybe she was a stranger. Maybe she just moved there. But what would draw someone to Tarpon Springs? A family job? Would she be the new girl at school? None of that felt terribly compelling to me, so I started thinking about someone who had once lived there and perhaps moved away. Maybe Callie’s parents had gotten divorced and she moved away...but no, what if her mom took her away? That was the light bulb moment and the idea took off.

    From there I researched kidnapping laws, particularly what happens when the non-custodial parent crosses state lines. Would her mother, Veronica, go to prison if she was caught? Would she go to prison in the state she was caught or in the state from which she abducted Callie? I have an uncle who was the former chief of police in my hometown in Ohio and he was very helpful when it came to matters of extradition and which offenses take priority over others. I researched the Florida prison system to find out to which prison Veronica might be sent and what Callie would have to do to visit her there.

    I also spent a lot of time reading about borderline personality disorder. While Veronica’s mental illness isn’t main focus of the book, it certainly had a hand in Callie’s abduction and touches every part of Callie’s story, so I wanted to be sure I treated her mother’s disorder with accuracy and respect, and that borderline personality disorder wasn’t villainized.

    I tend to be one of those writers who learns way more than she needs to know about anything she might need to know about––just in case. I hope with Where the Stars Still Shine that I’ve done it justice.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (51)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine 
that highlights eagerly anticipated books.

Red by Alison Cherry

Release Date: Oct. 8, 2013
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Pre-order: Amazon / IndieBound / Barnes & Noble

Felicity St. John has it all—loyal best friends, a hot guy, and artistic talent. And she’s right on track to win the Miss Scarlet pageant. Her perfect life is possible because of just one thing: her long, wavy, coppery red hair.

Having red hair is all that matters in Scarletville. Redheads hold all the power—and everybody knows it. That’s why Felicity is scared down to her roots when she receives an anonymous note:

I know your secret.

Because Felicity is a big fake. Her hair color comes straight out of a bottle. And if anyone discovered the truth, she’d be a social outcast faster than she could say "strawberry blond." Her mother would disown her, her friends would shun her, and her boyfriend would dump her. And forget about winning that pageant crown and the prize money that comes with it—money that would allow her to fulfill her dream of going to art school.

Felicity isn’t about to let someone blackmail her life away. But just how far is she willing to go to protect her red cred?

Why can't I wait?
Any book  that includes the phrase "Redheads hold all the power" in its jacket copy is a must-read in my book.  This sounds ridiculously entertaining.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Chasing Shadows Blog Tour & Interview with Swati Avasthi

Chasing Shadows 
by Swati Avasthi

Release date: Sept. 24, 2013
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Buy: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / IndieBound

Before: Corey, Holly, and Savitri are one unit—fast, strong, inseparable. Together they turn Chicago concrete and asphalt into a freerunner’s jungle gym, ricocheting off walls, scaling buildings, leaping from rooftops to rooftop.

But acting like a superhero doesn’t make you bulletproof…

After: Holly and Savitri are coming unglued. Holly says she’s chasing Corey’s killer, chasing revenge. Savitri fears Holly’s just running wild—and leaving her behind. Friends should stand by each other in times of crisis. But can you hold on too tight? Too long?

In this intense novel, Swati Avasthi creates a gripping portrait of two girls teetering on the edge of grief and insanity. Two girls who will find out just how many ways there are to lose a friend…and how many ways to be lost.

About the Author
Swati Avasthi has been writing fiction since she read Little House in the Big Woods at age five.
Emily Bronte, Harper Lee, and others furthered her addiction. She institutionalized her habit at the University of Chicago, where she received her B.A., and at the University of Minnesota, where received her M.F.A. Her writing has received numerous honors including a Minnesota State Arts Board Fellowship, the Thomas H. Shevlin Fellowship, Loft's Mentor Series Award, and a nomination for the Pushcart Prize. She is a creative writing professor at Hamline University and lives in the Twin Cities with her two large-ish dogs, two small-ish kids, and one husband (though he is worth two).

Find Swati online...
Website / Twitter

When the idea first came to you, what compelled you to write Savitri, Holly and Corey's story?
A deadline.

Joking aside, Chasing Shadows originated for me as a response to a moment in my life when I was first confronted with the notion that safety is an illusion and that we are all vulnerable.  When I was 18, a girl that I had been friends with in middle school, was shot and killed in what was called a drive-by shooting. (The case is still unsolved).  In the moment I found out, I couldn't respond.  Not at all. All my words -- that which I loved best in the world -- abandoned me.  I didn't know how to mourn her and, because we hadn't spoken in four years, I wasn't even sure I had the right to mourn her. I never sent her family any good wishes or flowers or anything until, on the 20th anniversary of her death, I wrote to her mother.  When I finally did mourn her when I was in college (and even now when I think about how much more life I've lived than she ever got to), I mourned her alone.  No one who knew me at the time had met her.

What I know now about violence is how severely it isolates its victims, its witnesses, and its expanding ripples of collateral damage.  What I know now is that after any kind of emergency, people you called friends step away and others, who become friends, step up.  Friendship in the face of violence is a very powerful thing -- perhaps even more important than the violence itself. I've lost and made a number of friends because of violence.

Was the plan always to make Chasing Shadows a blend of novel and graphic novel? How did the concept evolve?
No,  I had thought I'd write another straight prose novel.  But a confluence of things brought me to the hybrid approach.  When I read The Invention of Hugo Cabret, I was so pleased to see how time worked differently when you told stories using images.  (In that case, the affect of the train bearing down on Hugo and flipping the pages as it came closer and closer astonished me.  I thought: yes, I can slow down time in prose, but I can't get that effect because it takes longer to read the words.  The visceral effect gets lost in prose.)  And then I became interested in what else worked differently.  So the cerebral part of my brain was chewing on that.

At the same time, I was writing a story in which a girl who was obsessed with comics lost her mother (at the time it was her mother) and who, in response, was starting to lose herself while her friend tried to keep her steady. I didn't know how to bring across such a visceral shift.  As I followed Holly's love of comics, I realized that I should let her narrate part of the story in graphics because that is how she thought and talked and showed how her refuge into graphics could also accentuate her isolation and decline.  Her love of comics and how she thought/talked translated in the prose sections into Holly's seemingly Strange Capitalizations of Words Mid-sentence, which is rather like the boldface of comics.

Comics and superheroes seem to be a bridge throughout the novel both for the characters and the readers. Did you realize that culture would run so deeply in the book?
Well, yes. This one I actually did know once I decided on the form.  If you make a choice to do something unusual with form then the story has to support it.  I didn't know that the discrepancy between the comics that I grew up on (the Indian stories) were so wholly different than the American stories, so that then became a great way to explore the facets of interracial friendships.

How did the importance of relationships in Chasing Shadows factor into having a deeply intertwined trio (as opposed a single main character) at the center of the story?
Chasing Shadows was always about friends for me -- about how violence creates and breaks friendships. But Corey came late to the story. I realized that Sav didn't really have a relationship with the victim and it was really hampering her arc, so I switched things around.

What scene means the most to you personally or which was your favorite to write?
My favorite scene to write was between Savitri and Josh just after the funeral when Sav finally breaks.  The first time I wrote it, I wrote it between a character who is long since gone, who was a friend of Sav's and the scene was so flat. It was Sav crying and the friend comforting her. There was no tension.  I threw Josh into the mix and the scene just popped. It was the first time I felt like I had a handle on Sav, whose narration had remained unnaturally calm and somewhat closed off to me.  Whether it is true or not, I feel like I've hardly revised that scene since because every time I went to do it, it was just such a pleasure.

Describe your next project in five words. 
Too early to talk about. (Five words).

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Starry Nights Blog Tour & Guest Post

Daisy Whitney is here today to celebrate the release of her latest novel, Starry Nights. As a special treat, she's giving readers some insight into herself, with a guest post titled "Seven things you don't know about Daisy Whitney."

About the Author

Daisy Whitney is the author of the award-winning novel The Mockingbirds and its sequel The Rivals. When she's not inventing fictional worlds, she writes and reports on new media, TV and advertising for a range of publications and news outlets. She graduated from Brown University and lives in San Francisco, California, with her fabulous husband, fantastic kids, and adorable dogs. Her third novel, When You Were Here, is a standalone YA and was released in June by Little, Brown. In addition, her young adult modern fantasy novel Starry Nights releases in September 2013 from Bloomsbury.

Find Daisy online...

Seven Things You Don't Know About Daisy Whitney 

1. I read US magazine cover to cover each week.

2. Then my husband and I discuss the most vital, fascinating
and bizarre stories from the magazine.

3. Grilled sandwiches are my favorite food.

4. I love fashion, quirky clothes and vintage shops.

5. I am like Bonheur in that I abhor surprises.

6. My daughter and I are in Starry Nights.

7. I have fresh flowers on my kitchen table all the time.

Starry Nights

by Daisy Whitney 

Release Date: Sept. 3. 2013 

Publisher: Bloomsbury
Buy: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / IndieBound

Seventeen-year-old Julien is a romantic—he loves spending his free time at the museum poring over the great works of the Impressionists. But one night, a peach falls out of a Cezanne, Degas ballerinas dance across the floor, and Julien is not hallucinating.

The art is reacting to a curse that trapped a beautiful girl, Clio, in a painting forever. Julien has a chance to free Clio and he can't help but fall in love with her. But love is a curse in its own right. And soon paintings begin to bleed and disappear. Together Julien and Clio must save the world's greatest art . . . at the expense of the greatest love they've ever known.

Like a master painter herself, Daisy Whitney brings inordinate talent and ingenuity to this romantic, suspenseful, and sophisticated new novel. A beautifully decorated package makes it a must-own in print.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Infinite Moment of Us by Lauren Myracle

Release Date: Aug. 27, 2013
Publisher: Amulet Books
Age Group: Young Adult
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Pages: 336
Buy: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / IndieBound
Description: Goodreads
For as long as she can remember, Wren Gray’s goal has been to please her parents. But as high school graduation nears, so does an uncomfortable realization: Pleasing her parents once overlapped with pleasing herself, but now... not so much. Wren needs to honor her own desires, but how can she if she doesn’t even know what they are?

Charlie Parker, on the other hand, is painfully aware of his heart’s desire. A gentle boy with a troubled past, Charlie has loved Wren since the day he first saw her. But a girl like Wren would never fall for a guy like Charlie—at least not the sort of guy Charlie believes himself to be.

And yet certain things are written in the stars. And in the summer after high school, Wren and Charlie’s souls will collide. But souls are complicated, as are the bodies that house them...

Sexy, romantic, and oh-so-true to life, this is an unforgettable look at first love from one of young adult fiction’s greatest writers.

Sometimes, you wake up before it's even fully light outside, and your stupid nose is running from a stupid summer cold, and you can't get back to sleep even though it's 6 am on a Saturday (SATURDAY!).  If you're a book lover like me (which, clearly you are because you're here reading this review!), you make the best of a bad situation and scan your shelves.  Turns out, my morning needed a Myracle.  It's been a hot minute since I read a book in just one sitting, but The Infinite Moment of Us was just what I needed.  It's not perfect, but it certainly made up for the morning’s dreary start.

The misunderstood-bad-boy-admiring-the-girl-far-above-his-presumed-status is not a new trope in the slightest, but it seems I will never get enough of it.  The misunderstood bad boy here is Charlie Parker, and he has red hair and the same name as an awesome jazz musician so you know I already love him.  The girl he admires from afar is Wren Gray, who is of course misunderstood in her own right.  They share a charged moment on one of the last days of senior year and a chance meeting in a hospital, but it isn’t until the graduation party where they share more than charged moments that last for the rest of the summer.  They’re on a deadline, though, because Wren’s either going to Emory like her parents have decided or she’s going to Guatemala with Project Unity like she’s decided.  Or, is there a magic third option that might keep our lovers together?  

There’s a lot to like in this book, but if I’m being honest, my favorite relationship wasn’t Wren and Charlie, but Wren and Tessa.  I love to see a real, supportive friendship written in an honest way.  They didn’t always agree, but that didn’t take away from the fact that they wanted the best for one another.  As for Wren and Charlie, while they did make some teenage decisions that didn’t sit well with me as a not-teenager, I did very much enjoy their chemistry and their open discussion about having sex.  Note to teens—words are sexy; use them.  Myracle’s honest style of writing complemented their relationship perfectly.  She lays it all out there—the good and the bad—and it keeps those pages turning.

As I kept reading and the conclusion wasn’t becoming obvious, I started to get nervous.  The big “event” through to the ending left much to be desired in my opinion.  For spoiler reasons, I won’t go into what the big event is, but I felt it was overdramatic and overdone.  Alternately, the ending felt too chaotic and rushed.  After spending so much time with Wren and Charlie, I felt that each of their separate family resolutions deserved more time than they got.  The literal ending is also ambiguous, but I have less of a problem with that.  It’s the build-up (or, in some cases, lack thereof) that disappointed me.

All in all, I enjoyed The Infinite Moment of Us, and I knew I would.  It didn’t cure my summer cold, but it gave me a reason to smile. 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (50)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine 
that highlights eagerly anticipated books.

Fault Line by C. Desir

Release Date: Oct. 1, 2013
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Author Website: http://christadesir.com/
Pre-order: Amazon / IndieBound / Barnes & Noble

Ben could date anyone he wants, but he only has eyes for the new girl — sarcastic free-spirit, Ani. Luckily for Ben, Ani wants him too. She’s everything Ben could ever imagine. Everything he could ever want.

But that all changes after the party. The one Ben misses. The one Ani goes to alone.

Now Ani isn’t the girl she used to be, and Ben can’t sort out the truth from the lies. What really happened, and who is to blame?

Ben wants to help her, but she refuses to be helped. The more she pushes Ben away, the more he wonders if there’s anything he can do to save the girl he loves.

Why can't I wait?
I've heard so much praise for this, which only makes me want it more.  Everything about the summary sounds right up my alley, and I look forward to diving into Ben and Ani's world.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Blog Tour: This Song Will Save Your Life Guest Post & Giveaway

We're very excited to host the kick-off of Leila Sale's blog tour for her newest novel This Song Will Save Your Life. Leila's here today with a special guest post for our readers. Also, be sure to check out Jessica's review here.

This Song Will Save
Your Life

by Leila Sales

Release Date: Sept. 17, 2013
Publisher: Farrar, Straus, & Giroux BFYR

Making friends has never been Elise Dembowski’s strong suit. All throughout her life, she’s been the butt of every joke and the outsider in every conversation. When a final attempt at popularity fails, Elise nearly gives up. Then she stumbles upon a warehouse party where she meets Vicky, a girl in a band who accepts her; Char, a cute, yet mysterious disc jockey; Pippa, a carefree spirit from England; and most importantly, a love for DJing.

Told in a refreshingly genuine and laugh-out-loud funny voice, This Song Will Save Your Life is an exuberant novel about identity, friendship, and the power of music to bring people together.

About the Author

Leila Sales is the author of This Song Will Save Your Life (September 17, 2013, Farrar Straus & Giroux Books for Young Readers), as well as Past Perfect and Mostly Good Girls. 

Find Leila online... 

In my new novel, This Song Will Save Your Life, 16-year-old Elise stumbles across an underground dance club where she makes friends for the first time ever, discovers a passion for DJing, and finds a reason to go on living after a failed suicide attempt. The club she finds is an indie rock party called Start. What you probably don’t know, unless you lived in Boston in the early ‘00s, is that Start! was once a real indie rock dance party.

I have fallen in love with many dance parties in my life, and you can see a number of them listed in the acknowledgements at the back of This Song Will Save Your Life. But Start! will always hold a special place in my heart because it was the first party I ever felt that way about.

My friends and I started going to Start! in the spring of 2002, as soon as we could legally get in. I don’t remember how we heard about it, though I know for sure that I was not the one who discovered it. I didn’t exactly have my “ear to the ground” for cool indie/electro nightclubs. In fact, I had never even been to a nightclub. I had been to some school dances but, as a general rule, I hated them; school dances made me anxious.