The Compulsive Reader: February 2014

Monday, February 24, 2014

The Well's End Blog Tour + Giveaway

The Well's End is Seth Fishman's debut novel and it is out tomorrow! I have Seth here on the blog to talk about his inspiration for the book--plus a giveaway!
"The Inspiration for The Well’s End"
I remember the night, the dark interior of the car. We were, for some reason or another, on the road between the small towns of Midland and Odessa, Texas (now you see where she gets her name) and suddenly cars began to honk all around us. I remember dad turning on the radio, and hearing that Baby Jessica was free. She'd been stuck for days, and maybe it was the fact that the whole nation was watching something that was going on in my city, or maybe it was because she was around my age, but I was rapt, glued to the TV, watching the drillers and the floodlights and the reporters drone on about the songs she sang to herself. When I knew I wanted to write a book, two things came to my mind. Poisons, for some reason, and Baby Jessica, stuck down the well, unable to move. The poison thing evolved to something else, but I wrote The Well's End partially in answer to my own question: what would something like that do to you? How would you adjust to the nickname, the spotlight, the injuries, the fear? Would you ever forget what it was like, how it smelled? Would you grow with the trauma or be blunted? Or both. I still don't know, but I don't think Mia is defined by her fall. Instead, she learned who she was.
About The Well's End:

Half a world away, the Chinese military has a target list of ten US cities in case of war. Most are obvious (DC, NY, LA) and some a little less so (Atlanta for instance has the CDC) . . . but one is an absolute mystery: Fenton, Colorado. Unfortunately for her, sixteen-year-old Mia Kish is about to find out what makes Fenton so special when emergency sirens start blaring and ritzy Westbrook Academy is put on lockdown. No students in or out until otherwise notified. For the rich boarders whose homes are safely states away, their concerns are missed vacations and trips home, but for the handful of townies, like Mia and her friends Jo and Rob, there’s no escaping the danger.

The situation becomes dire when students and faculty are stricken with a strange illness that ages them years in a matter of hours, the end result death, seemingly from old age. No one knows what to do, but Mia and her friends are not just going to sit there while their parents might be in mortal danger. They escape the school grounds in search of a cure and answers; answers they hope to find in the sealed off mountain bunker where her father supposedly runs Fenton Tech. But along the way, they discover that the military presence is not what it seems, and that the long buried secret of Fenton is a fabled object of myth and legend that may actually exist deep within the earth below.

About Seth Fishman:

Seth Fishman is best known as a New York literary agent at the Gernert Company whose client roster includes ingenue National Book Award Finalist, Tea Obreht. Seth is also the recipient of an MFA from the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England. The Well's End is his first novel.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Shadows by Robin McKinley

When Maggie’s new stepfather Val moves in, he brings with him dozens of dark shadows that no one except Maggie can see. Val is from Old World, where dangerous magic is rampant, but this is New World, and magic is illegal and has been eradicated—or so Maggie thought. Val’s shadows spell trouble for not only Maggie’s family, but for her entire way of life.

In classic McKinley style, Shadows is a mysterious, absorbing book with multiple plot layers and an inviting world much like our own, but with fascinating differences. Maggie tells her story in a very personable, conspiratorial tone, not holding back on her sarcasm, vulnerabilities, and fears as she recounts how she first met Val and as she deals with the shadows that drape her once-mundane life. McKinley’s world-building is slow and steady, punctuated by humorous accounts of Maggie’s friends and her beloved dog Mongo’s antics. Shadows is the sort of book that readers will want to take their time with, wading through Maggie’s richly-drawn world, getting to know her family, friends, and community, and following along on her high-stakes journey to uncover the truth about her world and her own capabilities.

Cover Comments: I really like this cover. I love the use of color and the way the title fades into the water. The outdoor image is really great, and I think it;s a unique look that will appeal to a wide range of readers.

ARC provided by publisher.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Cover Reveal: Unmade by Amy Rose Capetta

Entangled by Amy Rose Capetta was one of my favorite books of 2013 (Space outlaws! Guitars! Girls who kick butt!) and I am so excited that the second book in this fun space duet is coming out at the end of the year. And today I am revealing the cover!

First, here's what Amy Rose has to say about the cover:
"This is my dream cover for UNMADE. It's the end of Cade's story and everything's about to collide, so I love that they incorporated Cade herself, the war she's caught in, and the central importance of her music. There is an immediate visual impact that I hope will stand out on the shelves--just how EPIC this cover is--but there are also beautiful details that will be noticeable to readers. And the "Rock on" in the corner? Cheeky AND badass! Scott Magoon (who designs for HMH and is an amazing picture book author) did a first-class job. I could not love it more."


Here it is!

I have to agree with Amy Rose on this cover--very badass and very awesome! I love how this cover is so active and, like the cover of Entangled, has a depth to the cover with some fun angles and awesome images. I can't wait to see this one in person!

More about Unmade:
"Cadence is in a race against time and space to save her family and friends from the Unmakers, who are tracking the last vestiges of humanity across the cosmos. As the epic battle begins, Cade learns that letting people in also means letting them go. The universe spins out of control and Cade alone must face the music in the page-turning conclusion to Entangled."
Hooray! Be sure to add the book to your wishlists or Goodreads shelves, visit Amy Rose's website for some more fun Entangled extras, and check out my review of Entangled if you haven't read it already!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Landry Park Blog Tour + a Giveaway

Today I have Bethany Hagen on the blog to talk about her new release, Landry Park! Landry Park was released earlier this month and it being pitched as a science fiction Downton Abbey. Got your attention yet?

Here's Bethany!
"Landry Park follows a seventeen-year-old girl named Madeline Landry, who is the heir to one of the largest estates in the country and is the scion of the most important and influential family among the gentry. She’s been raised to be proud, intelligent and determined, but she’s also very reserved and ambivalent about her place on the estate. More than anything, she wants to go to the university to further her education, but in her world, heirs are expected to marry and have children right away to ensure the family line, and so her father forbids it. A lot of her struggle comes from learning to fight for what she wants—and also learning what is worth fighting for.

Madeline really came about as a sort of cross between Fanny Price and Scarlett O’Hara. I wanted a heroine who was brainy and shy, but also capable of fierce pride and of making difficult decisions. I also wanted the Landry Park estate to be as much a part of Madeline as any other trait or quality. I have farmers in my family, and when you have an intergenerational plot of land that's been passed down from parent to child, the land takes on this whole other element. It’s not just a resource, it’s a necessity, a definition of self. I wanted that symbiotic relationship for Madeline and Landry Park."
Here's more about Landry Park:

In a fragmented future United States ruled by the lavish Gentry, sixteen year old Madeline Landry dreams of going off to the University. Gentry decorum and her domineering father won’t allow that. Madeline must marry, like a good Landry woman, and run the family estate. But her world is turned upside down when her childhood friend is attacked and she witnesses Gentry golden boy David Dana secretly helping a Rootless girl, in spite of the fact that the Rootless, who maintain the nuclear power the country relies on, are exposed to dangerous radiation. As Madeline begins to question everything she has been taught her whole life, rumors of war and rebellion begin to swirl amidst Gentry courtships and extravagant debuts. Soon Madeline finds herself and David at the center of it all. Ultimately, she is forced to make a choice: to stay with the Gentry—her family, her charmed life, and the estate she loves dearly—or to join David in the fight for Rootless equality.

About Bethany: 

Bethany Hagen was born and raised in Kansas City, meaning she can tolerate jazz for brief amounts of time and is offended by dry rub barbecue. She grew up reading Charlotte Bronte, Jane Austen, and all things King Arthur. When she's not working at the library or running around with her kids and husband, she's writing or thinking about writing. Landry Park is her debut book.

Want to read it? Enter below for a chance to win a copy!


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Conjured by Sarah Beth Durst

Eve doesn’t have any family, any connections, or any memories beyond entering the witness protection agency hiding her from a magic-wielding serial killer. Eve passes her days working at a library and trying to understand her own magical abilities and her visions of a nightmarish circus. The visions become more and more tangible, until Eve is positive that they are memories that the witness protection agency is desperate to access.

Conjured is an eerie, dark book that blends the real world with the magical in a strangely believable fashion. Much of the first half of the book is concerned with Eve’s growing awareness of her surroundings and her own self. Her convenient memory lapses and black outs serve to move the timeline along, but also make the pacing slightly uneven at first. The story picks up once Eve takes control of her life and begins actively investigating her own past, uncovering the shocking secrets about her life. Durst’s use of point of view is subtle and extremely skillful in helping define Eve’s character as she confronts issues of morality and what it means to be human. Conjured is a thoroughly unique and creative book, full of magic, mystery, and danger. It is unlike any other YA fantasy book currently published.

Cover Comments: I really like how this cover looks like something you might expect to see on a tarot card. It's really evocative of the magical circus without being too cheesy, and it has a nice edge to it.

Book provided by publisher.

Check out this awesome interview I did with Sarah Beth Durst last fall. And then check out my favorite book by her, Ice!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Don't Touch Cover Reveal + a Giveaway!

I'm excited to be a part of the cover reveal of Don't Touch, Rachel Wilson's debut novel! When I first heard what Rachel's book was about, it was one of those immediately-add-to-the-wishlist books. I love the premise and I loved the possibilities for the cover. I couldn't wait to see what HarperTeen would come up with.

First, about the book:
"Step on a crack, break your mother’s back.

Touch another person’s skin, and Dad’s gone for good… 
Caddie has a history of magical thinking—of playing games in her head to cope with her surroundings—but it’s never been this bad before. 
When her parents split up, don’t touch becomes Caddie’s mantra. Maybe if she keeps from touching another person’s skin, Dad will come home. She knows it doesn’t make sense, but her games have never been logical. Soon, despite Alabama’s humidity, she’s covering every inch of skin and wearing evening gloves to school. 
And that’s where things get tricky. Even though Caddie’s the new girl, it’s hard to play off her compulsions as artistic quirks. Friends notice things. Her drama class is all about interacting with her scene partners, especially Peter, who’s auditioning for the role of Hamlet. Caddie desperately wants to play Ophelia, but if she does, she’ll have to touch Peter…and kiss him. Part of Caddie would love nothing more than to kiss Peter—but the other part isn’t sure she’s brave enough to let herself fall.

From rising star Rachel M. Wilson comes a powerful, moving debut novel of the friendship and love that are there for us, if only we’ll let them in."
Are you ready?

I love the black gloves and the way the model is looking down in this image. It's very beautiful, a bit mysterious, and it makes me lean in closer.

Here's what Rachel has to say about the cover:
"I’m so excited to share the cover for Don’t Touch. When it was time to talk covers, I had a better idea of what I didn’t want than what I did. I dreamed of a cover that would be visually arresting and provoke some emotion, which is like saying, “Make it good, please.” I hoped to avoid a photo of a girl looking pensive or giving a come-hither stare for no clear reason. Caddie puts all her energy into acting as if everything’s okay, and she’s afraid to touch people, so I couldn’t imagine her in unguarded reverie or putting on a sexy face for the camera. Instead, my editors and designers had something in mind that would highlight Caddie’s vulnerability as well as her conflict between wanting to be able to touch but fearing it. I love how this image captures that struggle. Caddie might be barely holding herself together—the tagline says it all—or she might be gathering her powers for the performance of her life."
And here are a few words from Don't Touch:

“I lift my gloved hand to catch his wrist. It feels strong in my hand, and his fingers, his palm, burn an inch away from my already hot cheek. It would be a choice to let him touch me. I almost want to pull his hand to my face, close the gap and let go.”
Sounds (and looks!) awesome!

You can pre-order and add this book to your Goodreads shelf!

And enter the Rafflecopter contest for a chance to win an ARC!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Grasshopper Jungle Blog Tour + Giveaway

Author: Andrew Smith
Genre: Fiction | YA | LBGT
Release Date: 2/11/14
Sixteen-year-old Austin Szerba interweaves the story of his Polish legacy with the story of how he and his best friend , Robby, brought about the end of humanity and the rise of an army of unstoppable, six-foot tall praying mantises in small-town Iowa. To make matters worse, Austin's hormones are totally oblivious; they don't care that the world is in utter chaos: Austin is in love with his girlfriend, Shann, but remains confused about his sexual orientation. He is stewing in a self-professed constant state of maximum horniness, directed at both Robby and Shann. 
Ultimately, it is up to Austin to save the world and propagate the species in this sci-fright journey of survival, sex, and the complex realities of the human condition.

B&N  | IndieBound Goodreads | 
| Amazon
This is the truth. This is history. It’s the end of the world. And nobody knows anything about it. You know what I mean.
February 3rd – The Midnight Garden
February 3rd – The Story Siren
February 4th – Good Choice Reading
February 4th Bookish
February 5th – I Read Banned Books
February 5th – Jenna Does Books
February 6th – Bibliophilia, Please
February 6th – Escaping One Book At A Time
February 7th – Scott Reads It
February 7th – Live to Read
February 10th Alice Marvels
February 10th The Society
February 11th Lexi Swoons
February 11th A Reader of Fictions
February 12th Roof Beam Reader
February 12th Forever Young Adult
February 13th The Compulsive Reader
February 13th Books and Bling
February 14th Book Chic Club
February 14th The QQQE
February 17th JeanBookNerd
February 17th Ticket to Anywhere
February 18th Sleep Eat Read Books
February 18th Read Now Sleep Later
February 19th Anna Reads
February 19th Word Spelunking
February 20th Books With Bite
February 20th What A Nerd Girl Says
February 21st Wastepaper Prose
February 21st LRB – Guest
February 24th We Are Word Nerds
February 24th Cabin Goddes
February 25th Ex Libris 
February 25th Cari's Book Blog
February 25th A Good Addiction
February 26th YA Reads
February 26th The Young Folks
February 27th Novel Thoughts
February 27th Fangirlish
February 28th Once Upon a Twilight 
February 28th Naughty Book Kitties

Andrew Smith is the award-winning author of several Young Adult novels, including the critically acclaimedWinger (Starred reviews in Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, Booklist, and Shelf Awareness—an Amazon “Best of the Year”) and The Marbury Lens (A YALSA BFYA, and Starred reviews and Best of the Year in both Publishers Weekly and Booklist). 

He is a native- born Californian who spent most of his formative years traveling the world. His university studies focused on Political Science, Journalism, and Literature. He has published numerous short stories and articles. Grasshopper Jungle, coming February 11, 2014, is his seventh novel. He lives in Southern California.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Noggin by John Corey Whaley

When Travis Coates was sixteen, he technically died. His healthy head was cut off his cancer-ridden body and frozen until medical science could develop the technology to bring him back. What Travis doesn’t expect is that science will give him a new body only five years later. Everyone in his life is grateful to have him back, but Travis is caught in a weird limbo where everything is familiar but not the same. If he can just show everyone he is back and ready to pick up where he left off, maybe things can go back to normal.

Whaley’s high concept story provides an interesting framework in which to explore how relationships with our loved ones can change and evolve as we move through life. Travis is obsessed with winning back his first girlfriend, Cate, who mourned him and is now engaged to someone else, and the lengths he goes to prove his love drive much of the plot. Whaley rolls with the ridiculous and unbelievable scenarios that unfold in the novel, laying the groundwork to interesting and complicated relationships with each of his friends and his parents. Travis is slow to accept his new life and sometimes Whaley back away from pivotal conversations and confrontations, choosing to recount them out of scene, which jars the pacing at times. However, Noggin is a very funny, very clever book with a strong voice and important insights about love, relationships, death, and second chances.

Cover Comments: I like how bright and simple this cover is. I'm not sure what sort of message the doll on the cover will send, but I think it makes for an eye-catching cover nonetheless. (Related...the doll looks like someone I think I should know.)

Noggin will be released on April 8th, 2014!

ARC picked up at the Heartland Fall Forum.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Interview with Laurie Boyle Crompton

Blaze, Or Love in the Time of Supervillains. Just...take a moment and let that title sink in. Awesome, right? And the cover...completely kick butt, right? The writing and the story totally live up to this awesome cover and title, which is why this book landed on my Favorite Books of 2013 list. Luckily for us, author Laurie Boyle Crompton has a new book out just this week called The Real Prom Queens of Westfield High:

"It's no surprise to Shannon when she is voted least likely to be prom queen at Westfield High. That is until she's selected to co-star in a hidden-camera reality show, The Prom Queen Wannabes, and undergoes a complete makeover.
Now the social hierarchy of the entire senior class is about to be turned upside down. But when Shannon uncovers proof that the beauty business can be awfully ugly, she must find a way to show her BFF and one true crush that underneath the fabulous makeover, she really hasn't changed. 
This prom night is about to shock everyone's corsages off."
I cannot wait to read it (I was all ready to snag the copy that arrived this week at my bookstore, but I sold it before I could even put it on the shelf), but to tide us all over, here is an interview with Laurie!

TCR: What was the hardest part about writing The Real Prom Queens of Westfield High? The easiest?

LBC: As with any book, one of the hardest parts was finding the time to sit down and write it! This is why it’s important to be excited about whatever you’re working on. Life has a way of getting in the way of creative pursuits and writing a novel can be a battle. Once I’m immersed in the world of my characters things definitely get easier but writing is never really easy.

TCR: If you could be behind the scenes of any reality TV show, which one would you choose?

LBC: I think one of the survival ones where all of the contestants are starving and fighting each other would be fun. Of course, I’m talking about America’s Next Top Model! Ha! If I was on that set I think I’d be tempted to order the girls a pizza each night because most of them could really stand to gain a few pounds.

TCR: I loved Blaze, Or Love in the Time of Supervillains. To that end, if you could have any superpower, what would it be?

LBC: Thank you so much! My superpower choice would absolutely be the ability to fly, hands down, final answer. I suppose manipulating time in order to make all of my deadlines would be more useful, but I’d still choose being able to fly.

TCR: I love the humor in your books. Are you influenced by any particular brand of humor or humorous books?

LBC: I love humor and still remember the first time I read a funny essay I’d written to my high school English class. They all laughed and it made me feel invincible. I grew up sneak-watching Saturday Night Live whenever I could and I preferred MAD magazine to the fashion rags most of my friends were reading. I even considered going to clown college for a while, even though I don’t find clowns particularly funny. It just sounded like a really fun school to go to. I ended up going to St. John’s University instead and had a pretty good time with those clowns anyway.

TCR: Can you give us any hints about what's up next from you?

LBC: My next book is titled ADRENALINE CRUSH and it’s being released with FSG in the fall. It’s about a thrill-seeking girl who pushes things too far one fateful day and must deal with the consequences. The quirky cross-section of people she meets in her physical therapy group help her dare to take risks again – including one with her heart. Beyond that, I’m working on a few new projects I’m excited about, but I can’t really share anything just yet. ;)

Thanks so much to Laurie! Be sure to check out The Real Prom Queens of Westfield High, and if you haven't already, Blaze, Or Love in the Time of Supervillains!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Cover Talk: Out of the Easy

One of my favorite books of 2013 was Ruta Sepetys's second novel, Out of the Easy. It's a beautifully told, richly detailed story set in 1950 New Orleans about a girl trying to break out of her strictly confined life and go to college. I adored this book, and you can read my review here.

I also really loved the cover of the hardcover edition:

There is so much to love about this cover. The richness of the green is very eye-catching, and the birdcage is a really great object to have front and center. I love the significance of the cover model being partially obscured by the birdcage and all of emotional heft that the cover conveys.

Of course, for the paperback release next months, the cover received an update:

My reaction to this cover is--well, pretty. It still coveys the time period well, and I really like the purple, the pop of yellow, and the significance of the suitcase. It actually really reminds me of an adult fiction cover, and I wonder if that isn't part of the reasoning behind this cover update. In fact, I know that as a bookseller I could shelve this in General Fiction and probably get a ton of adults who would look down on YA to buy this.

I am a huge fan of pretty covers, but a bigger fan of pretty covers that work for their books on more than just the aesthetic level...which I think the original cover does. On the other hand, this new paperback cover will now match the paperback cover of Between Shades of Gray!

What do you think of the covers?