Saturday, June 18, 2011

New This Week!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Before & After: Alissa Grosso

Alissa Grosso’s first novel, Popular, will be published in May 2011 by Flux. At various points in her working life she has been a tavern wench, a term paper writer, a newspaper editor and a children’s librarian. She owns very few garments that aren’t covered with cat or dog hair. She lives in New Jersey.

I feel incredibly behind on just about everything. There are emails I need to read, emails I need to answer and thank you cards I need to write. In fact, even as I am writing this, I feel a little bit guilty about all the other things I should be doing. I have to keep reminding myself that it will all get done.

So, you might wonder what I've been doing that has kept me so busy. I had a great launch party hosted by my local independent bookstore, The Clinton Book Shop. It was a perfect day from start to finish, and my parents did a great job of inviting (literally) everyone they knew. I think I had just recovered from the launch and gotten caught up on everything when BEA week arrived.

Since I live in New Jersey and since Book Expo America is such an awesome event, I try to go every year, but this year was extra special for me because I would be fulfilling a goal I set for myself the first time I attended BEA. When I first attended the event as a librarian a few years back, I decided that one day I wanted to attend as an author signing her own book, and guess what? This year that is exactly what I did. I have to say that the experience lived up to all my expectations. It was perfect!

This year's BEA was extra special for another reason. I am a member of the Class of 2K11 and many of our members were in town for the expo as well as a variety of events we had set up in and around the city. It was great to finally meet all these talented authors. We have all served as each other's cheerleaders and built-in support network through this crazy publication journey. I am so grateful to everyone in the Class of 2K11 for being such cool people and good friends. I had a great time with them. Of course, we tried to pack as many events as we could into a very short span of time, and I'm still feeling a bit exhausted.

So. to sum up the way I feel post-launch there is that overwhelming sense of being way behind on just about every single every day task, a feeling of exhaustion from all the recent events and, of course, a tremendous amount of gratitude to everyone who has been there to help me through this journey and to help me spread the word about my book. I feel so lucky to know so many awesome people. In short, it's a busy, crazy time, but I'm enjoying it!

Reviews For Popular
A Good Addiction
My Reading Room

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | IndieBound

Meet the clique that rules Fidelity High: Olivia, Zelda, Nordica, and Shelly, each one handpicked by ├╝ber-popular Hamilton Best. You know you're "in" when you make the guest list for one of Hamilton's parties. And in the thralls of senior year, everyone wants to get noticed by Hamilton.

But Hamilton's elite entourage is coming apart at the seams. Olivia fantasizes about finally having a boyfriend, Zelda dreams of ditching high school, Nordica wants to be alone with her photography, and Shelly's plotting to dethrone Hamilton. Lies and secrets are ripping away the careful ties that have kept them together for years. But Hamilton has the biggest secret of all, one that only her boyfriend Alex knows. If the truth got out, it would shock everyone and destroy Hamilton's fragile world—and she'll do anything to protect her secret and keep her clique together.

Blog Tour Playlist: Aurora Undefined

Today we have the incredibly talented author behind Aurora Undefined, Kate Hinderer, talking about songs that would be used in a playlist for Aurora Undefined.

To be honest I’m a little obsessed with music. My computer holds nearly 6,000 songs, most of which I know the words to. Crazy, I know!

The thing I love about music is its ability to evoke emotions from the person. It’s an instantaneous emotional high, or low. When it comes to writing I often use music to put me in the mood of the scene, especially if I am having a hard time crafting the particular moment.

For instance, if it is a scene I’m hoping will induce tears in the reader, I’ll listen to: Broken Vow by Josh Groban, Cry on Command by Gloriana, Every Time You Say Goodbye by Alison Krauss, Me Without You by Love & Theft, Falling Apart by Matt Nathanson, Winner at a Losing Game by Rascal Flatts, Cry on Demand by Ryan Adams, A Twist in My Story by Secondhand Serenade.

On the other hand if it is a love scene I opt for these types of songs: Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You by Frankie Vallie, My Life Story by Gladys Knight, You Belong To Me by Dean Martin, haven’t Met You Yet by Michael Buble….. huh, it looks like I’m really into the oldies when it comes to love.

When it comes to a general writing soundtrack I go with a combination of these artists: The Fray, Gavin DeGraw, Dierks Bentely, Dixie Chicks, David Gray, John Mayer, Matchbox20, Michael Buble, Parachute, Rufus Wainwright…. These artists have slightly mellow music that is the perfect background distraction to writing. I don’t get caught up with the beat and can focus on my words and the storyline.

You can catch Kate at more blogs during her tour for Aurora Undefined. Check out a list of dates here.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Kings & Queens Review

Kings & Queens
Courtney Vail

Publisher: Little Prince Publishing
Release Date:
July 16, 2011
YA, Mystery
Paperback, 316 pages
5/5 (Avg 4/5)
Seventeen-year-old Majesty Alistair wants police to look further into her father’s fatal car wreck, hopes the baseball team she manages can reclaim the state crown, aches for Derek…or, no…maybe Alec…maybe. And she mostly wishes to retract the hateful words she said to her dad right before slamming the door in his face, only to never see him again.

All her desires get sidelined, though, when she overhears two fellow students planning a church massacre. She doubts cops will follow up on her tip since they’re sick of her coming around with notions of possible crimes-in-the-works. And it’s not like she cries wolf. Not really. They’d be freaked too, but they’re not the ones suffering from bloody dreams that hint at disaster like some crazy, street guy forecasting the Apocalypse.

So, she does what any habitual winner with zero cred would do…try to I.D. the nutjobs before they act. But, when their agenda turns out to be far bigger than she ever assumed, and even friends start looking suspect, the truth and her actions threaten to haunt her forever, especially since she’s left with blood on her hands, the blood of someone she loves.

This book... was something else. I'll start with the outside and work my way in so I can form the right words for what I want to say about Kings & Queens. The cover is gorgeous. I love the colors, I love the slight grunge feel to it with the text and brushes. The lips and everything about the cover sums up what you'll get to look forward to in the book. Confused? You should be.

I think the best way for me to describe the book is quirky. "Beautifully unique" would be another term I'd use. I just.. I love this book, and I don't know how to review this book without giving away too much. Reading the book through will keep you frustratingly frazzled most of the time, and you will think you're more confused than you really are. Once I was done with the story, I sat it down and just thought about it for a few moments. To my absolute amazement, I understood everything that went on in the book in almost perfect detail. Brilliant!

Each character, especially Majesty, was like a 20-Layer Cake. There was so much dimension and character development that it was almost too much to take... almost. The book was both character-driven and plot-driven, which promises to be an exciting ride for every type of YA reader. Add to this Courtney's incredible writing style and you have a story that you want to devour in one sitting.

When the spindly finger of doom first poked Majesty five months ago, she’d shrugged it off with a “yeah, right,” only to have her father end up near-headless in a ditch under a blanket of safety glass.

Before & After: Amy Dominy

Amy Fellner Dominy worked as a copywriter in the advertising business for twenty years before leaving to earn her MFA in playwriting. Her plays for adults and children have been staged in various cities around the country. She lives in Phoenix, Arizona with her husband and two teenage children. OyMG is her first novel.

"You must be excited!"

I hear this all the time. I nod and I say yes. But I'm not excited.

I'm nervous. My launch party is one week from today.

What if no one comes? What if too many people come?

What if I can't remember my speech? What if it sounds too planned?

What if no one buys a book? What if they do and what will I sign?

I'm worrying about everything and nothing. A part of me knows I'm being silly. This is something I've been waiting to happen for YEARS. I should relax and enjoy.

My book will be out in the world and some people may not like it, but many people will. That's what it's all about. So, I just have to get past the expectations of a launch date and a perfect launch party.

And when people say, "You must be excited." I'll continue to nod but deep down I'll know the truth. I'm excited for launch day to be over! :-)

(6.1.11) For me, launch included two events in my hometown, followed by a week in New York doing signings and events with the Class of 2K11 authors. So, right now some of what I'm feeling is just pure exhaustion. I was so focused on organizing, arranging, hosting, logistics, details, where to go and how to get there, that I've hardly even thought about the fact that my book is out in the world. So now that I'm back home, let me take a second to do that.

(Pause...deep breath.)

Wow. Feels amazing, I gotta admit.:-) I didn't love the craziness of launch (and I wish I could have stopped myself from worrying), but I do LOVE having OyMG out there and knowing that people might be reading it right now.

So, all in all, a happy ending to this launch story. :-)

Reviews for OyMG
Read Now, Sleep Later
Dreaming In Books
An Avid Reader's Musings

Jewish girl. Christian camp. Holy moly.

Ellie Taylor loves nothing better than a good argument. So when she gets accepted to the Christian Society Speech and Performing Arts summer camp, she's sure that if she wins the final tournament, it'll be her ticket to a scholarship to the best speech school in the country. Unfortunately, the competition at CSSPA is hot-literally. His name is Devon and, whether she likes it or not, being near him makes her sizzle. Luckily she's confident enough to take on the challenge-until she begins to suspect that the private scholarship's benefactor has negative feelings toward Jews. Will hiding her true identity and heritage be worth a shot at her dream?

Debut author Amy Fellner Dominy mixes sweet romance, surprising secrets, and even some matzo ball soup to cook up a funny yet heartfelt story about an outspoken girl who must learn to speak out for herself.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Before & After: Kady Cross

Kady Cross is a pseudonym for USA Today bestselling author Kathryn Smith. She lives in Connecticut with her husband and a pride of cats. She likes singing with Rock Band on the 360, British guys, Vietnamese food, and makeup (she’s hopelessly addicted to YouTube makeup tutorials!). When she’s not writing Kady likes to catch up on her favorite TV shows, read a good book or make her own cosmetics.

I feel anxious, nervous. People are starting to talk about advance review copies, and the response has been pretty good. I want everyone to love it, but I know that's just not possible.

I'm a little overwhelmed. The response to The Girl in the Steel Corset has been amazing! Yes, there have been people who don't like it, but a lot of those people just don't seem to get the genre -- and most have admitted as much. I'm surprised by the amount of people who have no problem with automatons and 'powers' but are upset that Finley wears pants -- or that Emily has dreads. Still, I've been getting some wonderful emails and Tweets about it. I couldn't be happier!

Reviews for The Girl In The Steel Corset
Books With Bite
Candace's Book Blog
Shell's Stories

Waiting on Wednesday

September 6, 2011
Grace just moved to San Francisco and is excited to start over at a new school. The change is full of fresh possibilities, but it’s also a tiny bit scary. It gets scarier when a minotaur walks in the door. And even more shocking when a girl who looks just like her shows up to fight the monster.

Gretchen is tired of monsters pulling her out into the wee hours, especially on a school night, but what can she do? Sending the minotaur back to his bleak home is just another notch on her combat belt. She never expected to run into this girl who could be her double, though.

Greer has her life pretty well put together, thank you very much. But that all tilts sideways when two girls who look eerily like her appear on her doorstep and claim they're triplets, supernatural descendants of some hideous creature from Greek myth, destined to spend their lives hunting monsters.

These three teenage descendants of Medusa, the once-beautiful gorgon maligned by myth, must reunite and embrace their fates in this unique paranormal world where monsters lurk in plain sight.

Again: Greek mythology? I'm all in. Mythology seems to be the way to go these days, and I cannot think of a better story than that of Medusa. If it was anyone else writing it, I may be hesitant, but knowing Tera Lynn Childs has written it puts my mind at ease.

What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Bloodspell Review

Amalie Howard

Publisher: Langdon Street Press
Release Date:
June 1, 2011
YA, Paranormal
Paperback, 369 pages
5/5 (Avg 4/5)
The spell was simple...

Cruentus Protectum (Defend the Blood)

But what do you do if your blood is your enemy?

Victoria Warrick has always known she was different. An outcast at school, she is no stranger to adversity. But when she receives an old journal for her seventeenth birthday, nothing prepares her for the dark secrets it holds -- much less one that reveals she's a witch with unimaginable power.

What's more, when she meets the dazzling but enigmatic Christian Devereux, she has no idea how much her life is about to change. Enemies will hunt her. Friends will turn on her. The terrible curse that makes her blood run black will stop at nothing to control her. And Christian has a sinister secret of his own...

Without knowing whom to trust, can Victoria survive her blood's deadly desires? Or will she lose everything, including herself?
I'll start with the obvious: the cover. I don't comment much on covers but I think this one has to be one of the most beautiful covers I have come across in a while. As soon as I saw it, I had instant cover-lust. The cover does something that some covers forget to do, it describes a bit of the mood inside of the story. So, bravo to the person who designed this cover - they did an incredible job.

Moving on. You not only have a beautiful cover but you also have an equally beautiful main character between the covers of the book. Victoria immediately pops out as one of those characters that you can relate to and also empathize with. She hasn't exactly had the greatest life, losing her family members and being bullied. She also struggles with who she is and what she has done and can do. Aside from that, you can see through her actions that she is a very strong character with a very vibrant personality.

Christian Devereux is everything you want in the male lead that you can swoon over. He's handsome, brave and follows his heart instead of the rules given to him. But, like all good swoon-worthy guys, he comes with some baggage - in the form of an evil twin. I have to say it: Lucian is the perfect villain. He's vile, uncaring and relentless, only thinking about what he wants and he doesn't give two cents about what may happen to the people in his path between him and his wants. He made the read even more interesting, giving the story elements of drama and suspense that could have been missed had he not been there.

Bloodspell is dark and brooding with the perfect story of forbidden love intertwined into it, along with feuding families and a never-ending power struggle for supremacy. It's an incredible read that will keep you flipping until the very end, with a promise of more from its sequel that we will have to wait for until 2012. All in all, this is a read that I would definitely recommend to my YA paranormal fans - especially those that are fond of vampires and witches.

"Hey freak, you lost? The hobo section is on the other side of the cafeteria!"

Teaser Tuesday

What he'd done was unimaginable, unthinkable. He'd broken laws he was sworn to uphold under penalty of exile, or worse, death. And executing a vampire wasn't as simple or as neat as killing a person. It involved a great deal of pain, and a lot of fanfare designed only to serve the power of the Vampire Council. Punishing a blood traitor was always an event. Punishing Christian Devereux would be a spectacle.
- p. 134, Bloodspell

A Season of Eden Review

A Season of Eden
Jennifer Laurens

Publisher: Grove Creek Publishing
Release Date:
October 20, 2008
YA, Contemporary
Paperback, 248 pages
4/5 (Avg 3.5/5)
He's my teacher. I shouldn't be alone with him. But I can't help that he's irresistible.

I let the door silently close at my back. He stared at me, and a taut quiet stretched between us.

"I like hearing you play," I said, moving toward him.

He turned, in sync with my slow approach. He looked up at me but didn't say anything. I rested my clammy hand on the cold, slick body of the baby grand. "May I?"

The muscles in his throat shifted, then he swallowed. "Eden."

My knees weakened, like a soft tickling kiss had just been blown against the backs of them. "Is it okay?" I asked.

His gaze held mine like two hands joined. He understood what I was really asking.

"Let me stay," I said. "Please."

"You're going to get me in trouble," he said.

This book obviously touches on the very taboo relationship between a high school student and her music teacher. It's a subject that people are always very weary about, but one thing that makes it a little more tolerable in this book is that the age gap isn't THAT much - only four years, in fact. I'm not condoning these types of things, but that makes it a little easier to swallow than an 18-year-old girl falling for a 40-year-old man, wouldn't you agree?

There were many ups and downs for me in this book. Our main character, Eden, is your stereotypical rich, spoiled teenage type that acts very much as she was just described. She's used to getting her way and doesn't mind using people and situations to her advantage. However, she grew through the novel - realizing her mistakes and learning from them. The relationship with her boyfriend was one of convenience, and I wish we would have had a little more background on her relationship with her parents (stepmother included) to fully understand why it was the way it was. I think the best way to describe Eden overall would be to say that she is a very well-written typical teenage girl. I liked her, despite her more negative attributes.

As far as her relationship with her teacher, James Christian... I felt as though it was just one of those things where she was just very smitten with a teacher and made him more profound than what he really was. Maybe James Christian was as incredible as Eden made him out to be, but I didn't get that just from reading the book.

I liked this book. There was some pretty good symbolism in the book and beautifully written emotions. The ending wasn't as I was expecting it to be and it is left a little open, but it doesn't affect the overall appeal of the book as one might think. For the most part, it's a very clean read - minus a make-out scene and some very intense sexual tension. This is a good read for the more mature Young Adult audience.

"You sing?" Josh snickered.

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