The Compulsive Reader: June 2013

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

When Cath and her twin sister Wren get ready to head to college, Cath takes for granted that the sisters will room together. But Wren doesn't want Cath for a roommate. In fact, Wren thinks that it's time that Cath gets over her shyness, her obsession with the Simon Snow book series, the Simon Snow fan fiction that Cath writes, and the fact that their mother left them as kids. Cath's fan fiction has been her entire life for so many years—how is she supposed to get over the only thing that has been a refuge for so long?

Fangirl is possibly one of the best novels that presents an homage to nerdom of the early 21st century. Cath's story will resound with anyone who has ever preferred the company of books over people, and with those that willingly dressed up in costumes for midnight releases—multiple times. Cath's uncertainty throughout her first semester of college is palpable—she won't go to the dorm cafeteria because she doesn't know how it works—and her acerbic wit helps get her through all of the awkward moments. Roommate Reagan and her shadow Levi are endlessly entertaining and great friends, even though Cath is cautious of their kindness at first. The relationship between Cath and Wren is both complicated and simple; Wren isn't always very nice to her sister, but Cath loves her no matter what happens. Over the course of their first year of college their relationship changes a lot as each girl learns a lot about herself and each other before coming back to their shared love of Simon Snow. Rowell sprinkles excerpts from this fictitious series and Cath's own fan fiction throughout the novel to give a context to Cath's fandom, and they're a nice addition as long as they aren't taken too seriously. Complete with a tender, tentative romance that is just as memorable as the one in Eleanor & Park, Fangirl is an excellent coming of age story, hysterically funny and delightfully nerdy.

Cover Comments: This cover surprised me when I first saw it--it really reminds me of a graphic novel with the cartoon-like drawings and the speech bubbles. I don't think I'd ever seen anything quite like it on a YA cover (although it does resemble the cover for Eleanor & Park). I really like it, though! The colors are cool, but I hope it doesn't deter any male readers.

Fangirl will be released on September 10th, 2013. Start the countdown.

ARC picked up at BEA.

Oh, and when I picked up a copy of this at BEA, my nails just happened to look like this. Totally unintentional, but you better believe that I went out and bought the nail polish after this. Fangirl nail art FTW!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Cover Talk: The Raven Boys on the Cover of The Raven Boys

You all know how much I hate it when covers change mid-series...but I suppose that this is a change that I could be okay. The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater is getting an update for the paperback edition, but the new cover is staying within the design scheme. So, it went from this....

...to this:

So, not really a HUGE change. I like that the boys are on the cover, and that goes with the fact that Ronan is on the cover of The Dream Thieves (my review to come soon!). What do you think?

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Story of a Girl by Sara Zarr

When Deanne was thirteen, her father caught her having sex in the backseat of her brother's friend's car. Since then, Deanne's father won't look at her, or really talk to her, and she's been labeled the school slut. She wants to escape her house and her town, and she thinks she has found the perfect solution in helping her brother, his girlfriend, and their infant daughter move into their own place. But over the course of the summer, Deanne learns that running away from one bad situation doesn't fix the real problem, and that forgiveness can come in unexpected places.

Story of a Girl is a short novel that really packs an emotional punch. Deanne's struggles to not let her past decisions and mistakes define her and prove to everyone around her that she isn't the girl they believe her to be is full of many painfully awkward encounters and a few small, triumphant moments. Zarr explores the restlessness and urge to be independent that so many young people feel, making the point that while moving away may give you a new perspective, it won't solve your problems. Deanne's feelings of displacement and isolation—at home, with her friends, and at school and work—are so relatable, and her family dynamics extremely well-drawn and emotional, verging on painful to read about. This is a great novel about moving on, forgiving, taking second chances, and going your own way. Story of a Girl is a quick read that will demand to be read in one sitting.

Cover Comments: I really like the simplicity of this cover, and I like the cover model--she's a lot like how I pictured Deanne!

Book purchased.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Book Trailer for Entangled by Amy Rose Capetta!

Amy Rose Capetta is the author of Entangled, an awesome sci-fi adventure book that you NEED to put on your wishlists ASAP. This past weekend, her book trailer premiered on the MTV Hollywood Crush blog! Check it out!

Doesn't it look awesome? Click here to read my review of the book!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Proxy Excerpt + Insight from Alex London

Alex London is the author of many kids' books, and his first YA novel, Proxy, came out on Tuesday! To celebrate the release, Alex is touring the blogosphere, sharing mini excerpts of his book and giving readers extra insight into the characters.

More about Proxy:
"The adventure novel of the year! Inspired by The Whipping Boy and Feed, this adrenaline-fueled thriller will appeal to fans of The Hunger Games for its razor-sharp insights into the nature of human survival and its clever writing.

Knox was born into one of the City's wealthiest families. A Patron, he has everything a boy could possibly want—the latest tech, the coolest clothes, and a Proxy to take all his punishments. When Knox breaks a vase, Syd is beaten. When Knox plays a practical joke, Syd is forced to haul rocks. And when Knox crashes a car, killing one of his friends, Syd is branded and sentenced to death. 
Syd is a Proxy. His life is not his own. 
Then again, neither is Knox’s. Knox and Syd have more in common than either would guess. So when Knox and Syd realize that the only way to beat the system is to save each other, they flee. Yet Knox’s father is no ordinary Patron, and Syd is no ordinary Proxy. The ensuing cross-country chase will uncover a secret society of rebels, test both boys’ resolve, and shine a blinding light onto a world of those who owe and those who pay. Some debts, it turns out, cannot be repaid. 
A fast-paced, thrill-ride of novel full of non-stop action, heart-hammering suspense and true friendship—just as moving as it is exhilarating. Fans of Anthony Horowitz's Alex Rider series, James Dashner's Maze Runner, Patrick Ness's Chaos Walking series, and Marie Lu's Legend will be swept away by this story."
Here is the excerpt:
“’Watch the projection,’ his father commanded without even turning to look at him. ‘This is all pointless if you don’t watch the projection.’ 
So that’s what this was: proxy business. What a hassle.

Knox wanted to be left alone to heal. He needed his rest. He was injured. He was in pain. His punishment could wait, couldn’t it? It’s not like his proxy was going anywhere.” – page 51, PROXY
Alex says about Knox:
"I had the most fun writing Knox and struggled with him the most. He is not a terribly likable boy at first and is, I hate to admit it, a lot like me when I was a teenager. Like Knox, I grew up privileged. Like Knox, I was a trouble maker and like Knox, I rarely interacted with those less fortunate than me. I too nursed some hidden anger and built walls between myself and those around me. Of course, I wasn’t nearly as big a jerk as he is! Knox doesn’t care about the consequences of his actions because he isn’t the one who suffers for them. He has this amazing sense of entitlement and a complete lack of empathy for others. He doesn’t see his proxy as person in the beginning of the book, at least not as a person who matters to him. To Knox, Syd is just a product to be used as necessary. He has no more moral feeling about Syd’s suffering than he does about his robotic vacuum cleaner. 
Of course, he has his reasons for cutting himself off from feeling and the book explores those as he grows and expands his world view. I hope, by the end, readers can sympathize with him a little, or at least understand, if not forgive. The book is, in a way, his journey as much as it is his proxy’s. Knox isn’t seeking redemption, but I like to believe, to an extent, he finds it. But I also don’t want to tell readers what to think. Knox is a flawed kid, like most kids, with moments of cruelty and moments of grace. I’ll let the reader sort out where he lands for them, but I certainly grew to love him."

Sound good? You can learn more about Alex by following him on Twitter, and checking out his website. Learn more about Proxy by jumping over to Bookalicious tomorrow for the next tour stop!

And enter the form below for a chance to win a copy of the book!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

If You Could Be Mine by Sara Farizan

Sahar and Nasrin have been best friends since they were little girls, and they've been in love with each other for almost as long. Sahar dreams of a life with Nasrin, unrestricted by the laws that forbid them from being together. Then Nasrin's parents arrange for her to be married to a rich doctor, and Sahar is devastated. When Sahar discovers that a sex reassignment surgery is possible, and legal, she thinks she has found a perfect solution…but it might not be enough to be with Nasrin.

Sara Farizan's If You Could Be Mine is an intense book, full of equal parts danger and love. Each sentence is emotionally loaded and tantalizing, and Farizan writes so convincingly about an intense love that must be hidden in a dangerous environment. The relationship between the two girls isn't always very even, and Sahar struggles with seeing the flaws in her romance even as she desperately works to save it. Farizan does an excellent job at discussing the difference between being gay and transsexual, addressing important issues about body image and gender, and how they factor into sexuality. The setting is frightening and complex, but also completely fascinating in its seemingly contradictory laws and customs. Subplots that center around Sahar’s family and their own challenges in connecting with each other add to Sahar’s struggles in determining her own identity, but ultimately provide her with the support she desperately needs. The conclusion of this novel is painful and gut-wrenching, but ultimately hopeful as Sahar discovers her identity and the depth of her own strength. If You Could Be Mine is an excellent debut novel.

Cover Comments: I like the simplicity of those cover, and the attempt at hand-holding (the only legal form of affection that the girls can show towards each other). The design is very understated and pretty!

If You Could Be Mine will be out on August 20th, 2013!

ARC picked up at BEA.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Why I Love C.S. Lewis

Some true words from C.S. Lewis:

"You could never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me."

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Reading Rants: YA Dads

It's Father's Day, and to celebrate on the blog, I thought I'd spotlight the YA books that showcase some memorable YA dads and just how complicated and wonderful relationships with your dad can be.

This book has a lot going on in it, but I really love how King addresses the idea of how people assume that children are fated to end up like their parents, and how Vera struggled to open up to her father. 

The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen

Emmaline has a complicated relationship with her real father, and a not-so-complicated relationship with her step-father, whom she considers a "dad." When her biological father wants to become more involved in her life, Emmaline will have to make some important decisions about where she wants to go after high school.

Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson

This book features a heartfelt and heartbreaking relationship between the protagonist Taylor and her father, who has been diagnosed with a terminal illness. Make sure you have tissues on hand.

The father in this book won't be winning any Dad of the Year awards, but I like this book because Caletti explores how fathers, even absent ones, can have a large impact on your life. And in this case, the protagonist's father leads her to a sister she's never known.

Besides having a great title and a wonderful romance, this book is about a father-daughter relationship that has been rocky ever since the protagonist's father left her mother and moved to England. The book picks up with her father getting remarried, and deals with all of the emotional tumult that hasn't been addressed.

Girl Overboard by Justina Chen

This is arguably one of my favorite books by Chen, and I love how protagonist Syrah is forced to confront her parent's expectations and figure out her own needs and desires in a family that leaves little room for deviation. She ultimately finds a way to connect with her father (and mother) and make him proud while still staying true to herself.

What are some of your favorite books that have great dad relationships? (And go give your dad a hug!)

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

I'm pretty sure I'm the last person in the universe to get to this book, but it is AMAZING, so read it if you haven't already, okay?  It really does live up to the hype! (And so does Rainbow's next book, Fangirl...)

When Eleanor gets on the school bus her first day in a new school, no one wants to let her sit down. No one, that is, except Park, but he's not exactly happy about gaining a seat partner. They don't touch, they don't talk, and they hardly even look at each other at first...but then slowly they open up. They connect over comics and music, and begin to fall in love, despite all of the odds against them.

Eleanor & Park is one of the best YA romances I've read in ages, although defining the story as a "YA romance" seems awfully limiting. It's difficult to define just what this book is. It's a story about first love and misfits, about being brave and being afraid, about holding on and knowing when you have to let go. Eleanor is such a strong character, and is easily admired for her wit, integrity, and her resolve. Park is just as wonderful, with his capacity to love, his courage to stand up for Eleanor and their relationship, and his never-ending attempts to make sense out of a very messed up world. The chemistry between these two characters is incredible as they fall in love—Rowell makes hand holding and late-night conversations incredibly hot. Everything about this story is so magnetic, with an appropriate balance of life's harsh realities and all of the wonder and excitement of love. This near-perfect YA book will resonate with readers of all ages.

Cover Comments: I love the simplicity of this cover. It's pretty and eye-catching, but not overly girly. Perfect.

Book purchased at my local indie!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Reading Rants: Tears Keep Falling

This is going to sound weird and backward and perhaps even slightly messed up, but I LOVE books that make me cry. If I start tearing up while reading, there is a little voice in the back of my head saying, "Good! This is good! I am crying! What an excellent book!" 


For a long time, I thought that this was messed up and I probably should have something checked because really, who likes to cry? A lot of people, apparently...at least where stories are concerned. So, inspired by a Twitter conversation about sad books, here is a list of my favorite (i.e. most tear-inducing) sad but not all sad books:

Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

I was crying by the first chapter. Actually, I was crying by the first page. The first paragraph, I felt the tears welling up. It's just that good. But all crying and tears aside, I love this book because of Marchetta's use of language (she understands the duality of meanings and she can manipulate words like no other), and the amazing plot. It may take twenty or so pages to get into, but once you do...magic. And tears.

The Summer Trilogy by Jenny Han

The books include: The Summer I Turned Pretty, It's Not Summer Without You, and We'll Always Have Summer. This trilogy is beautiful. Imagine all of the coming of age and growing up feelings, and then add in a perfect beach setting, family and relationship complexities, and then...a character you love dies. And it kills you in every book, but the story is so beautiful, you can't help but keep reading, and then re-reading. This is the power Jenny Han wields.

Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson

Morgan Matson completely stole my heart with Amy & Roger's Epic Detour (and yeah, that one will make you cry baby tears, too), but Second Chance Summer...whoa. It's not that it deals with loss and grief and second chances, but also with finding your place and connecting (or reconnecting) with people in your life, and Matson writes it all so well.

How It Ends by Laura Wiess

I have never cried as hard as I did when I read the ending of this book. Not just tears, but huge, hacking sobs and then at one point, a huge gasp/cry/sob  of shock. Just, be warned.

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

This book is an intense read about two friends caught up in World War II. It is extremely tough to read about the torture and misery of this book, but at the heart of it is this amazing friendship between two girls, and the lengths at which they will go for each other. And it broke my heart and gave me hope at the same time. I sobbed.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

This book. I have never cried and laughed so much in one book. Equal parts funny, equal parts heartbreaking, and a great story on top of it all. 

What books have reduced you to tears?

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Whole Stupid Way We Are by N. Griffin

Dinah and Skint are close friends and they know a lot about each other. But lately it seems as if their friendship is slowly falling apart by all the things left unsaid. Skint can't tell Dinah about the anger that he is trying to contain over his father's illness, and Dinah just wants to help Skint, even if her methods don't always seem that effective. In Dinah and Skint's lives, it's hard to know when helping is hurting, and the consequences are devastating.

N. Griffin's novel is quirky and quick-witted, full of humor and heartbreak. Dinah is an energetic and passionate character, brimming with ideas and eagerness to help those in her community, and loyal to Skint and the Girls Friendly, an apathetic church group with dwindling members. Skint is just as passionate, but he is more reserved, choosing to keep quiet about his own troubles and to focus on helping others, no matter the means and consequences. Through Dinah and Skint's haphazard attempts to do right in their community, Griffin asks big questions such as, why do we ignore the problems in our own communities? Why do we allow ourselves to be so easily distracted from all of the need in our lives and our world? With sliding perspectives and a constant push and pull between Dinah and Skint, Griffin keeps readers wondering what will happen to these lovable and flawed characters in the end. The writing is unique and magnetic, and the conclusion haunting.

Cover Comments: This is one of the prettiest book packages I've seen in a long time. I love the partial dust jacket of the hardcover and the image on the cover. It fits the story so well!

Review copy provided by publisher.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Video Events with Your Favorite Simon & Schuster Authors!

If you're looking for something fun to do over summer break (and don't have the means to get to book events near you), then check out this cool series of events at Shindig featuring your favorite Simon & Schuster authors! Every Tuesday in June and July will bring a new author and a new event!

It starts tonight with Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian (authors of Burn for Burn and Fire with Fire) so RSVP here! But check out the cool line-up of authors for the rest of the month and next!

June 18 – Lisa McMann, author of Crash

(RSVP Here: http://www.shindig.com/event/crash)

June 25 – Andrew Smith, author of Winger

(RSVP Here: http://www.shindig.com/event/winger)

July 2 – Corey Ann Haydu, author of OCD Love Story

(RSVP Here: http://www.shindig.com/event/ocdlove)

July 9 – John Corey Whaley, author of Where Things Come Back

(RSVP Here: http://www.shindig.com/event/wherethingscomeback)

July 16 – Abbi Glines, author of Because of Low

(RSVP Here: http://www.shindig.com/event/becauseoflow)

July 23 – Neal Schusterman, author of Unwholly

(RSVP Here: http://www.shindig.com/event/unwholly)

July 30 – Carmen Rodrigues, author of 34 Pieces of You

(RSVP Here: http://www.shindig.com/event/34pieces)

Monday, June 10, 2013

Entangled by Amy Rose Capetta

Cade has always been alone in the universe, save for her guitar and the noise in her head. When she plays, she can almost forget the cacophony and her intense loneliness. Then a stranger named Mr. Niven tells Cade that she has been entangled at a sub-atomic level with another boy, Xan, and Cade experiences a special sort of connection she never thought possible. Determined to save Xan from those who would harm them both, Cade sets out to find him, and discovers that true connection is something far more exhilarating than she ever imagined.

Amy Rose Capetta's debut novel is intensely smart—full of heart-stopping action, a wide cast of eccentric and lovable characters, and plenty of sneaky humor. Cade's universe is vividly drawn through a fantastic use of language, rhythm, and beat and populated with a wide array of imaginative characters—human and otherwise. Cade is resourceful and a quick thinker, but interacting with others is not her strong suit, and her growth is sometimes awkward, but rewarding and triumphant as Cade ultimately discovers her purpose in the vast universe. The action and mystery of the novel are drawn out well, and balanced with each characters' own pasts and motivations, and readers will care about Rennik, Lee, Ayumi, and their living ship Renna as much as they care for Cade. Capetta throws in a few twists that leave readers with a nicely unexpected conclusion, thrumming with life and a universe full of possibility for every member of the unlikely and entertaining crew.

Cover Comments: This cover has changed a little bit since I revealed it earlier this year, but I really, really like the changes. The blue is a really cool shade, and I love the little details of the stars and the guitar in the title. The way that everything seems to be sucked into a black hole is also awesome, seeing as black holes are definitely important to the story. It's very cool and science fiction-esque--great cover!

Entangled will be available October 1st, 2013. A sequel is forthcoming!

ARC provided by author.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Tidal is Coming!

Who is getting excited for Amanda Hocking's next book? Keep checking back here for more fun surrounding the release of Tidal!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

BEA 2013 Recap: The Books

Photo Credit: Amy Rose Capetta
It’s hard not to let yourself go wild with all of the great books that are available at BEA. My advice? Remember that for every single book you pick up that you have to carry it around all day, and back to wherever you’re staying. And then you either need to carry it home, or pay to ship it. With that mindset, it’s easier to resist the temptation to be greedy or pick up books you’re not all that interested in. I ended up with 28 books, which is about 5-8 more than I usually end up with, but I also picked up a lot of Middle Grade this year.

I broke down my haul in various categories:

YA Editor’s Buzz Panel
  • Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
  • If You Could Be Mine by Sara Farizan
  • Entangled by Amy Rose Capetta
  • All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill
  • Tandem by Anna Jarzab
Penguin Luncheon Books 
  • Frozen by Melissa de la Cruz and Michael Johnstone (Dragons! Frozen Vegas!) 
  • The Indigo Spell (and we talked about The Fiery Heart, release day November 19th, 2013) by Richelle Mead 

Sequels/Second Novels I’m Excited About
Photo Credit: Amy Rose Capetta
  • The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater (EEEEE! After the confusing/crazy ending of Raven Boys, I can’t wait for this one!) 
  • The Shade of the Moon by Susan Beth Pfeffer (I had NO IDEA that she was continuing the Life As We Know It series! This book is from the perspective of Miranda’s little brother!) 
  • What We Lost in the Dark by Jacquelyn Mitchard (The sequel to the unique thriller What We Saw at Night! Extreme sports + a nighttime killer + three friends allergic to sunlight = AMAZING.) 
  • Hero by Alethea Kontis (I just read Alethea’s first book, Enchanted, which was a lot of fun! This one is about Sunday’s sister, Saturday! Stay tuned for my review of Enchanted!) 
  • Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas (The sequel to Throne of Glass! I’m very excited to see where this one takes Celaena Sardothien!) 
  • A Spark Unseen by Sharon Cameron (I really enjoyed The Dark Unwinding, a steampunk read I picked up at last year’s BEA!) 
VCFA Represent!

The following authors are either faculty members or graduates of my grad program at VCFA!
  • The Color of Rain by Cori McCarthy (Read my review here! Cori is a VCFA grad!) 
  • P.S. Be Eleven by Rita Williams-Garcia (Sequel to One Crazy Summer! Rita is a faculty member at VCFA!) 
  • Entangled by Amy Rose Capetta (My review is coming soon, but trust me when I say that this book rocks! Amy Rose is a VCFA grad!) 
  • All The Truth That’s In Me by Julie Berry (Julie is a VCFA grad!) 
  • The Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates: Magic Marks the Spot by Caroline Carlson (This middle grade book sounds fantastic! It was on the Middle Grade Editors Buzz Panel, and Caroline is a VCFA grad.) 
  • Reality Boy by A.S. King (I LOVE LOVE LOVE A.S. King’s novels, and she’ll be a visiting faculty member at VCFA next month!) 
Middle Grade Books

Because I am going to have to start reading a LOT more Middle Grade soon…
  • Seeing Red by Kathryn Erskine 
  • Sorrow’s Knot by Erin Bow 
  • Boy on the Porch by Sharon Creech 
  • Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloane
  • Twistrose Key by Tone Almhjell
YA Books Everyone was Talking About 
  • The Nazi Hunters by Neal Bascomb (Nonfiction that actually sounds really fascinating to me!) 
  • Dancer, Daughter, Traitor, Spy by Elizabeth Kiem (I LOVE the play on the title by John Le Carre, and this book sounds excellent!) 
  • The Boy on the Bridge by Natalie Standiford (I love Natalie Standiford’s How to say Goodbye in Robot and The Confessions of the Sullivan Sisters, and I am so excited about this book!) 
  • Just Like Fate by Suzanne Young  (Sliding Doors in a YA novel?) 
  • Marie Antoinette, Serial Killer by Katie Alendar (How could you not love this mash up of genres? I love it.) 
I;m excited to immerse myself in many happy hours of reading! What are you excited about?

BEA 2013 Recap: The Events

It’s a little overwhelming trying to describe what it’s like to walk into Javits Center for BEA. The convention center is just massive, and you’re constantly surrounded by people. Gigantic banners hang all over the place, and there are many confusing levels, stair cases, and escalators.

First, you must caffeinate:

Photo Credit: Amy Rose Capetta

So you can prepare for this:

Photo Credit: Amy Rose Capetta
First up on Thursday was the YA Editors Buzz Panel. The panel consisted of five editors who talked for about ten minutes each about the books they were excited about. There was an interesting mix of books—three sci-fi and two contemporary YA books:

  • Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell (I just finished this one and it was an excellent homage to nerdom everywhere, and an amazing story on top of that.) 
  • Tandem by Anna Jarzab (A parallel universe story by the author of All Unquiet Things and The Opposite of Hallelujah.) 
  • All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terril (Pitched as a time-bending “book for everyone” with romantic and thriller elements.) 
  • Entangled by Amy Rose Capetta (I had read this one before BEA, and so everything that the editor said about the book made me dance in my seat. If you have wondered what a YA book by Joss Whedon would look like—this is it, and so much more!) 
  • If You Could Be Mine by Sara Farizan (I read this on the plane home, and it is such a close, heart-rending page-turner. The relationship between the narrator and her best friend is vivid, and the setting is realistic and frightening.) 

The next day was Meet the Authors of the YA Editors Buzz Panel. We got to hear each author say a few words about their books, and then read aloud a passage. Rainbow read a hilarious scene and Amy Rose read a really tense one in which her protagonist realizes she can’t return home. Anna Jarzab read a pivotal scene in which her protagonist is taken from her own world, and Cristin and Sara read the beginnings of their books. It was really great to hear from each of these authors, and each scene made me want to read each book.

On Thursday evening, I attended a party to celebrate the release of The City of Bones movie! The venue was so perfect for this party—it looked like it might be a room in the Institute. There were tarot card readings and we all were able to get runes. I got “Heightened speed.” We also got a chance to watch an exclusive sneak peek of the movie, and I got chills while watching it. It seems like the movie really captures the danger, adventure, and action of the book, and it still had the little moments of surprising, sarcastic humor. I’m definitely excited to see the whole thing now, and I definitely think I’ll be attending a midnight release (or definitely go on opening weekend!). A HUGE thank you to Simon and Schuster for that excellent party, and a huge thank you to Sony for allowing the special screening! That was such a great party. Because there were some strict rules about pictures and recording, I’ll direct you to the official S&S Facebook album for more pictures from that event!

Friday was the Penguin Luncheon with Richelle Mead and Melissa de la Cruz. Anna Jarzab moderated a conversation with them about their books, writing, and the upcoming Hollywood adaptations of their books. Some highlights of the discussion were:
  • Richelle Mead said that The Fiery Heart (the upcoming Bloodlines book) will be “like the Shadow Kiss of the Bloodlines series.” Um. WHAT. NO. If you’ve read Shadow Kiss, you know that there is some serious heartbreak in that book, and it dramatically changes the course of the series, and of the characters’ lives. So…we have that to look forward to. 
  • Melissa de la Cruz and her husband (co-author of her new book Frozen) sound like the cutest nerdy couple EVER. She said that her husband was the only guy she has met that has read all six Dune books and is cute. Lucky lady! 
  • Character building is Richelle Mead’s favorite part of writing, and world building comes easiest to Melissa de la Cruz and Michael Johnstone. 
  • Richelle Mead has been thinking about writing Gameboard of the Gods for ten years! I’m excited to check it out. 
  • Regarding the adaptation of Witches of the East End, Melissa said, “I love working with Lifetinme! Really powerful women executives telling cute guys to take off their shirts!” 
  • Richelle said that she read the script to Vampire Academy: Blood Sisters and she thinks it’s really true to the characters, and she’s pleased with the casting. 
  • The release day for Blood Sisters is Valentine’s Day 2014! Shooting should wrap by the end of summer, and stills to follow in the fall! 
  • Regarding characters and plotting, Richelle said, “There’s only one boss in this show. If my characters have to die, they die.” 
All of the BEA events were so much fun, and they all made me want to jump out of my skin in excitement for all of the great books coming out this year. Stay tuned for more about the books that I’m excited about!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

BEA Recap: BEA Bloggers Conference 2013

I aware that I am woefully behind on this, and that other bloggers have posted a lot of really great posts already, but I wanted to throw in my perspective.

This year was my third BEA and BEA Bloggers Conference. I convinced I wouldn't come again (very expensive, great experiences, but my summer was already packed). My friends Cori McCarthy and Amy Rose Capetta convinced me to come along, and so I traveled with them, and that certainly made it an infinitely more enjoyable experience.

Day one, before the conference even started, was BEA Bloggers Conference. Now...I have a lot of respect for the bloggers who originally started this conference, and I am so pleased with what they did with it and all that they accomplished. Ever since the conference has been run by BEA though...I get the feeling that the organizers don't quite know what it is that bloggers do and what we want out of this conference. Maybe we're just hard to please? But...there were some good things this that came out this year, despite the few hiccups.

I missed the keynote speaker because I flew in that morning, but I got to Javits in time to listen to the YA Editors Insight Panel. This was more of a buzz panel with Cheryl Klein (Scholastic), Emily Meehan (Disney Hyperion), and Deb Noyes (Candelwick). I really enjoyed hearing about the books that they're excited about and some market trends (more on the books later!). Nothing too earth-shattering or new in this panel, though. Still, it was pleasant to listen to because we're all basically huge book nerds who just like to talk books.

The second panel I attended was the Book Blogging Pros panel with Thea from The Book Smugglers, Danielle from There's a Book, and Cindy from The Nerdy Book Club. I always find it interesting to listen to how others blog (we're all a unique bunch), and I really liked how they emphasized that consistency is key when it comes to blogging. I wholeheartedly agree, and I would add that consistency and quality are way better than quantity. I also liked how Thea touched on how the word "critical" when applied to book reviews doesn't mean "negative." My reviews are critical, but if I don't like a book, I don't waste my time reviewing it.

An Ethics Luncheon was lined up for lunchtime, but this is where BEA really failed this year. Instead of providing a boxed or catered lunch in the conference hall like in past years, we were given a meal voucher for the food court...at the other end of the convention center. The food court wasn't even completely open and they were completely unprepared for the masses of people coming from BBC. I stood in line for almost an hour and had to inhale my food (in line). So, I missed it. I will tell you my ideals when it comes to ethics in book blogging, which basically comes down to this: Tell us where you get your books to make everyone who is worried about the FTC happy, and treat your correspondence like you're talking to your mom or your boss (whichever is the more conservative) because even if you don't want to be a professional in the publishing industry, you ARE TALKING WITH PEOPLE WHO MAKE BOOKS THEIR CAREER. Okay? Okay.

After this was the panel that I spoke on, How to Take Your Online Presence Offline. I was really nervous for this because I wasn't given much direction on what to talk about...so I just ran with it. Jenn and I talked about all of the events and programs that we've been involved with in our communities, and Wanda talked about how bloggers can help independent bookstores. As an indie bookseller, I agree with this sentiment, but I have noticed that some people were a little upset or confused by this stance. Not everyone has an independent bookstore nearby, and that's okay! I blogged for a long time before I discovered my indie. Certainly independent bookstores are some of the best places for book lovers to come together, but there is so much you can do outside of them. As a blogger, you have to think about what's right for your and what YOU can do, because your blog, experiences, and community is going to be different from mine.

That being said, I really appreciate everyone who came up to me and talked to me afterwards. You were all wonderful to talk to, and I came home filled with so much energy, wanting to DO MORE. You're awesome. I actually missed the panel after this because I talked with so many people after my panel.

The Closing Keynote...oh, the closing keynote. By now it is probably legendary on Twitter. I will say this first: Randi Zuckerberg is clearly an intelligent woman, and she is one well-spoken lady. She knows a lot about social media, and not just because of who her brother is. However, it was obvious to me that she didn't seem to know where she was or who she was talking to, and therefore her keynote was ridiculous, bordering on insulting. You can go back and read my tweets about it...but know that I was very happy when happy hour came around. (Randi Zuckerberg drove me to drinking, and I'm sure I'm not the only one who experienced this.)

BEA Bloggers Conference is one of those events that I keep going back to every year with the hope that it will be better and continue to improve. I was very pleased to be a part of a panel that seemed to reach people and have a positive impact. I enjoyed meeting so many people, and that (for me) made the conference worth the trip. If you were more, I'd love to hear more about your perspective--comment or email me at thecompulsivereader@gmail.com if you'd prefer to talk privately.

Up next tomorrow: The Books and the Events of BEA!

The Secret Ingredient by Stewart Lewis

Olivia is happy with her life in Los Angeles, living with her dads and brother and cooking a weekly special at her dad Bell's restaurant. But lately Bell's restaurant is suffering, and Olivia finds a summer job in a desperate attempt to help alleviate her family's financial situation. When she does, she meets a psychic who offers some strange advice and sets Olivia on a path to be open to romance and finding her birth mother.

Stewart Lewis, author of You Have Seven Messages, has written another thoughtful and emotional book centering around family dynamics and the relationship between mothers and daughters. The Secret Ingredient has a lot of really neat elements to it; the vintage cookbook that Olivia finds offers an interesting side story that helps Olivia to grow as a person, and Olivia's best friend's issues with her own mother add to the conversation about the relationship between a mother and a child, and how that connection—or lack thereof—shapes us. The Secret Ingredient is an introspective family drama with flavors of friendship, romance, and a passion for food that makes for a quick, appealing read.

Cover Comments: I really like the vintage feel of this cover, which fits the story really well. And--the girl on the cover looks like how Olivia is described, which is really cool!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Blog Tour: Ashes by Amy Keen

Amy Keen is the author of Embers, and its recently released sequel Ashes. To celebrate the release, Amy Keen is on blog tour, and today I have an excerpt of Ashes and Amy is here to talk about the "secret" to writing! First up, here's Amy!

What’s the secret?

The first big secret is…there is no big secret. I have been writing since I could hold a pen and my childhood ambition was only ever to be an author. I didn’t waver on that (ever) and went to study Journalism at university just so I could try to find a job that would pay me to write. So maybe the first lesson was persistence and determination.

When I say there is no secret, I mean mainly that, there is only your way and the things that have helped other people create the books you love may not necessarily work for you (but, hey, they might – there are no rules). I spent a lot of time in the years before, during and after my education trying to force a book out of my brain. I couldn’t understand how I could love reading so much, love writing and seem to be reasonably good at it, but still not develop a story that worked. I wrote and wrote and wrote; resulting in many terrible stories and half novels which will never see the light of day – there is no fixing them as I didn’t yet understand what I do now, which is; write for yourself first. If you don’t enjoy writing about it and you are not passionate about the type of book you are creating, no-one else will be either as it will come across in your work. The inability for me to manage a coherent story didn’t put me off though. I just gave in to the realisation that I had to keep at it; loving words I mean and the rest would follow in due course. IT DID!

In 2009, I had the mental image of someone hiding something under floorboards and like magic, my brain started to tick over like I always hoped it would. Millions of thoughts and questions about whose hands were they and what was being hidden played out and I started to research ideas I liked and thought would answer them. I knew I wanted a supernatural or paranormal element to my books, but not a fantastical idea such as Vampires (for the record…I LOVE vampire books but I just knew it wasn’t the direction for me). So I went from Native American Legend to various other options, before I decided on The Salem Witch Trials.

I researched houses through real estate agents, looked back over photos from my own visit there and started to build a life for the red haired girl I wanted as my main character. Some of the decisions were conscious but most of Embers (Book One) was a stream of consciousness which changed constantly as I wrote. I don’t plan my books, I start with an idea and see where it takes me and I surprised myself with how the story developed. But it worked because I was excited about it and hopefully, as readers, you will agree that the idea is original.

The Foresight Series now exists outside of my head and it was the first real idea I ever had, so I have been very lucky. I now have a head full of ideas to work on once this trilogy is complete and I am so excited and honoured to have a chance to put them out there. The final (and somewhat terrifying task) is creating an end that satisfies not only my hopes and dreams for the series, but those of the loyal readers that have invested precious time into Scarlett and her friends.

If you are a reader, I hope you enjoy them. If you are a writer still waiting for that light bulb moment, keep waiting….it is coming!

Thanks, Amy! And here is an excerpt to Ashes!
"We took a sudden left down a path I hadn’t even noticed and I grew more painfully aware of how much deeper we were going, which meant I was losing track of how to get out. The air further down was damper and the putrid scent of the death housed in the rooms all around us was lingering, haunting the maze like a horde of ghosts.
Sutcliffe stopped at a large wooden door that ran flush with the stone wall. It was thick, old timber with heavy metal adornments and a huge door knob. He placed his hand over the handle and it split in two, one half separating from the other as the top slid to the right. Beneath what had appeared to be a normal handle was a small gray pad, not unlike what Elias had at his apartment. They had been making modifications. I guessed this is what he was referring to when he used the word sophisticated. The door came to life with a loud thunk. It moved back a few inches before sliding to the left and revealing a bright white laboratory style room. The luminescence of the clinical strip lights burned my eyes and I squinted to adjust. He dragged me forward and the room expanded before me into huge space that glowed white.

To my left there was a bank of steel work benches with complex looking machinery and microscopes. Straight ahead there was a large dentist style chair with restraints on the arms and legs; a huge brace hung above it which looked like some kind of futuristic helmet and a hospital gurney, just like the one I had experienced the last time I lay in wait, at the back of the room with unused IV machines lined up alongside. On the right hand side there was a bank of monitors mounted on the wall above a control panel of blinking lights and switches so vast it looked like it could have been lifted right out of air traffic control. The wall of blank screens stretched ten deep and three high. There was nothing to suggest at all where we were stood, not a single bone or trace of stone. I had been in hospitals less equipped than this.
If the circumstances were different I might have been impressed at what they had been able to achieve in these underground tombs, but the reality jolted me back into the moment and the darkness I had been fighting since I first learned about any of this twisted; we both knew that this room was set to bring about
some form of conclusion.

My eyes were greedily trying to take it all in, desperately searching for clues of a way out, what exactly they would do with me in this room. The door had long since closed behind us and a glance confirmed my worst fears; there wasn’t just a code to get in. There was one to get out."

Saturday, June 1, 2013

This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales

Elisa has never been popular, and she’s never had any close friends. She’s tried again and again, but she just doesn’t seem to fit in anywhere with her funky style and distaste for the popular music that her peers love. A few months after a drastic last-ditch attempt at connection, Elise finally finds what she’s been looking for in the most unexpected of places: an underground dance club. She makes new friends, discovers a talent for DJ-ing, and even has her first relationship every Thursday night at The Start. Elise is truly happy for the first time in her life, but she discovers just how hard it is to keep your secret night life out of the daylight.

This Song Will Save Your Life is a fun and energetic book, introspective and heartbreaking at times, but ultimately the type of book that makes you happy to be alive and excited about all of life’s possibilities. The first two chapters aren’t instantly magnetic as they detail a bit of backstory, but Elise’s voice is wry and clever, with sly, self-deprecating humor that draws the reader in. Once she discovers The Start and starts making friends, the book really takes off. Perhaps the best part about this novel is how realistic and straightforward Sales is with the reader at every turn; romance isn’t always the magical cure-all that lasts forever, friendship is messy and complicated and unexpected, and being able to do what makes you happy is rarely simple and easy. Despite all of these complications, Elise manages to find a balance and happiness in being honest with her friends and family. This Song Will Save Your Life is a vibrant book about finding your passion and connecting in the most unlikely of places.

Cover Comments: I have so much love for this cover. I like how the title is big, bold, and takes up the entire cover space. Normally I get frustrated when covers don't show faces, but this image is tastefully done. Very nice.

This Song Will Save Your Life will be out September 17th, 2013.

ARC provided by publisher.