Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Character Interview and Giveaway: Maggie Mae and Bridger from Shifting by Bethany Wiggins

Today we're shifting (oh yeah, I went there) gears as I hand over the reigns of the blog to two of my favorite characters from 2011. If you haven't read Shifting by Bethany Wiggins, I promise (cross my heart and hope to die) that you are missing out. You can check out my review of this killer debut here. So stick around and read a little bit about how Bridger and Maggie Mae are fairing in a rousing game of This or That!

Just a quick explanation, I'm asking the question and one character is answering for the other. So Maggie Mae is guessing what she thinks Bridger would pick and vice a versa!

I'd like to think Maggie Mae and Bridger for taking the time to answer questions and a big thanks to Bethany Wiggins for being so awesome!


1) Skittles or M&Ms?

Maggie: I don't think he cares as long as he doesn't have to cook it himself. If it comes ready-to-eat, Bridger eats it. You know, he ate rotting horse flesh that was crawling with maggots once (Yes, he was an eagle at the time) so I think he can eat pretty much anything palatable.

Bridger: She loves chocolate cake, so I'm guessing chocolate. Then again, I don't think there is a food that Maggie doesn't like! Have you seen her wolf down fish tacos? She can eat.

2) Now or then?

Maggie: I don't think it matters to Bridger because his life has been good, both now and then.

Bridger: Maggie likes now for *clears throat* obvious reasons. But seriously, she's been through a lot of crap. Now she's happy. So now.

3) Night or day?

Maggie: I'd have to say Bridger likes the night better because he can be himself, as in turn into an eagle whenever he wants and no one will see him. And he's almost always with me at night, like it's our time together.

Bridger: I like the day! I can see what's around during the day, which means I can keep Maggie safe (and it is whole lot easier to fly when I can see well). I worry about her when it's night--dark things come out when the sun's not shining. But I bet she prefers night because she's so used to hiding, and that's easier to do in the dark.

4) Books or movies?

Maggie: Bridger absolutely likes movies over books. Have you seen the huge flatscreen TV in his bedroom? And in their kitchen? Seriously, who would put a TV in the kitchen unless they're die-hard movie fans?

Bridger: Books--she likes books. The few times we've actually sat down to watch a movie, if we're not making out (did I seriously just write that?) she's falling asleep before it's half way over (so I help her stay awake). But she reads a lot.


Maggie: This question is totally and completely unfair, Amber! Bridger can do both, if you really think about it. SO not fair.

Bridger: I will say fly. Can you imagine? She'd be flying with me. I could show her my world, my second love in life. I think of her flying with me all of the time. Maybe one day it will happen. No, one day it will happen. Just wait and see.

6) Recorded or live?

Maggie: Um, recorded? He has tons of music and movies. Those aren't live.

Bridger: Wow. I just had a huge revelation. I don't think Maggie has ever been to anything live--sporting events, plays, symphonies, concerts. I think I'm going to surprise her and take her to a Phoenix Suns game. Or maybe the symphony. I bet once she experiences something like that live, she'll be hooked.

7) Pencil or pen?

Maggie: I like pencils because I can go back and fix my mistakes. Bridger would say pens because he's always so sure of himself, I don't think he makes mistakes. Or if he does, he just scribbles them out and has no problem with that.

Bridger: Maggie is totally a pen girl. She's smart, strong, stubborn, and tough. She knows what needs to be done and then goes for it. No wimpy pencils for her. Give her a pen, and she just might change the world with her words.

8) Being alone or being stuck with someone you hate?

Maggie: Hmmm, that would be like putting me on an island with Danni Williams (before she apologised). No thank you! I like being alone. So much more peaceful. I'd say Bridger would pick alone, too, but I've never seen him with someone he hates.

Bridger: She thinks I'd pick alone? Actually, I'd pick someone I hate. If we could stop hating each other, we could figure out why we were alone together and then fix the problem. Maggie would pick alone, though. She likes her space. She's never been afraid of solitude.

9) Black, white or gray?

Maggie: Bridger sees everything in black and white. There is no gray for him. I mean, he shot me! ME! Like, five minutes after speaking about his undying love for me--bam! Sure he had a really, REALLY good reason, but that's about as black and white as it comes. But he says when you're dealing with evil, there is no middle ground.

Bridger: Maggie sees most everything in gray. She's been through so much, she's had to find ways to justify things.

10) Love, money or fame?

Maggie: Bridger already has those three, so I don't know. I've been poor my whole life and it makes life difficult. Really difficult at times. So maybe he'd say money because he wouldn't know how to live without it.

Bridger: What the . . . I can't believe she said that about me! *gnashes teeth* Yeah, I've grown up with money, and yeah, I was popular in high school, if that is what she means by fame. So I know the true worth of both. Love is so much more important than either of those things. I would trade everything I own, everything my father owns, for the chance to be with Maggie forever--for the chance at love.

11) All or nothing?

Maggie: All. Bridger gives it all, everything he's got, for what he knows is right. It all goes back to that black and white question.

Bridger: Maggie is a nothing girl. She will risk her life even when she has nothing to gain. She will work her butt off for next-to-nothing. She has lived her entire life expecting nothing. Which is why I want to give her everything. I will give her everything I have--and I'm not talking about possessions. I'm talking about me, life, everything.

13) Answer or question?

Maggie: Bridger likes answers. He already knows the answers. He has an answer for everything!

Bridger: Maggie is a questioner. She questions everything. If you think about it, that would make her an answer girl, because the whole reason she has so many questions is because she wants to know all the answers. Everything. Now. And she's right about me. I have the answers.

14) Fact or fiction?

Maggie: Bridger is all about facts. Yes, the recurring black and white thing again!

Bridger: Isn't there fact in all fiction? Maggie is both fact and fiction. Because she's lived her entire life believing that what is really fact (Skinwalkers) to be fiction, the two are intertwined. She is a creature of fiction living in a world of fact.

15) What is the other's biggest fear?

Maggie: Bridger's biggest fear is so easy that I can't believe you're asking. Skinwalkers! He's grown up his entire life being taught that they're lurking in the shadows and shown how to fight them. Think of what that would do to a person.

Bridger: She's wrong again, at least in part. My biggest fear is not Skinwalkers. It is that the Skinwalkers will find Maggie again and I won't be there to protect her. What if she can't protect herself? Mental note to self: teach Maggie how to protect herself . . . and buy her a cell phone.

What is something you see in the other that they don't see in themselves? *HUGE SPOILER ALERT- DON'T READ IF YOU DON'T WANT TO KNOW*

Maggie: Bridger is so spiritual. I have never met anyone as spiritual as Bridger O'Connell in my life. His total, yet simple belief in good being stronger than evil is changing the way I look at the world. He has faith, too. Faith in me. He mentioned earlier that he wants to see me fly. Because of him, I already do. He lifts me higher than anyone ever has in my life.

Bridger: Maggie is a rare, preiceless blend of selflessness and power. But, if you think about it, being selfless is possibly the most powerful thing a person can be beecause they never put themselves first. They do everything in their power to keep those who they love safe. That scares me. She's already risked her life for the people she loves, like Mrs. Carpenter. And me. *hangs head in shame* I mean, she let me . . . shoot her . . . instead of attacking me . . . *Bridger is unable to go on. He's wracked with guilt, anguish, and the realization that he's possibly the luckiest guy alive*

Bethany Wiggins has always been an avid reader, but not an avid student. Seriously!!! She failed ninth grade English because she read novels instead of doing her homework. In high school, she sat alone at lunch and read massive hardback fantasy novels (Tad Williams and Robert Jordan anyone?). It wasn't until the end of her senior year that the other students realized she was reading fiction--not the Bible

Seven years ago, Bethany's sister dared her to start writing an hour a day until she completed a novel. Bethany wrote a seven-hundred page fantasy novel that she wisely let no one read--but it taught her how to write. Since then she has completed six more novels, each one a little better than the one before.

Giveaway Time!

I loved this novel so much that I want to share it with you guys. So one lucky winner is going to get their own copy of Shifting from The Book Depository!
-International Giveaway (if The Book Depository ships to you, you are eligible)
-Must be 13 years or older
-Must fill out the form below
-May only enter once
-Giveaway ends 2/16

Book Review: Everneath by Brodi Ashton

Everneath by Brodi Ashton

Reading Level: Young adult
Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0062071130
ISBN-13: 978-0062071132
Series: Everneath #1
Source: ARC provided by publisher
Cover: Hello Clarice! Seriously, this cover is so envy worthy it's sickening. From the second I saw this cover I knew it was going to be Greek mythology and I also knew I had to have it. The red is sort of romantic and the smoke adds an element of mystery. Yes, Balzer + Bray. A thousand times yes.
First Sentence: "I was picturing his face-- a boy with floppy brown hair and brown eyes--when the feed ended."

Mini-Review: Going under has never looked so tempting.

Last spring, Nikki Beckett vanished, sucked into an underworld known as the Everneath, where immortals Feed on the emotions of despairing humans. Now she's returned- to her old life, her family, her friends- before being banished back to the underworld... this time forever. 
She has six months before the Everneath comes to claim her, six months for good-byes she can't find the words for, six months to find redemption, if it exists. 
Nikki longs to spend these months reconnecting with her boyfriend, Jack, the one person she loves more than anything. But there's a problem: Cole, the smoldering immortal who first enticed her to the Everneath, has followed Nikki to the mortal world. And he'll do whatever it takes to bring her back- this time as his queen. 
As Nikki's time grows short and her relationships begin slipping from her grasp, she's forced to make the hardest decision of her life: find a way to cheat fate and remain on the Surface with Jack or return to the Everneath and become Cole's...

Equal parts passion and pain, Everneath is a bittersweet re-telling of the Persephone myth like you haven't read before. Weaving complex mythology, awesome characters and intense emotions effortlessly together, Everneath sets itself apart from the crowd. Merging both the past and present with a ticking time line adds plenty of tension and it's hard not to get sucked up into the story where the stakes are laid out from the beginning.

Nikki Beckett has had a tough year. Dealing with the loss of her mother is something she isn't really ready to face. So when a chance comes to get out, she takes it (there are other factors but I don't want to reveal too much). Dealing with a character that is so upset, I worried Nikki might be mopey but the author sets that straight quickly. What I loved about Nikki is that she is willing to accept responsibility for her mistakes and wants to do whatever she can to make what little time she has left right. Sometimes this makes her a pushover but she's already done enough damage and right now, her only goal is to make things right and the people she loves happy. I liked Nikki's voice and how soulful she was. Her observations felt deep and unique on to her own. Though I did get a bit annoyed that she was keeping things from people, I loved that she decided to trust those she loves too.

Going into this novel, I really thought I was going to get another love triangle and this is not the case. While I can understand why Nikki went with Cole to the Everneath, there is really no competition. Jack had me from the get go. I'm a sucker for best friends falling for each other and Jack and Nikki are are great example of this. For me, they echoed Jay and Violet from The Body Finder series by Kimberly Derting and Decker and Delaney from Fracture by Megan Miranda. Their friendship felt whole and like it existed before we came along to this story. Jack was always thoughtful and sexy and sweet. It's hard not to fall for him. Which makes Cole's attempts seem shallow. I will say that I could see Cole's appeal and I believed that he cared for Nikki. I'm interested to see where his character is going in the next book.

What set Everneath apart for me was the unique world and history the author set up for this well known and often imulated myth. Re-imaging the river Styx, how the Underworld works and what it looks like are just some of the things the author has thought of to change. I liked the back history to Everneath and what Cole and his band are. I did get confused in the middle as to Nikki's role and if she was something supernatural herself, but Ashton is able to clarify. I was also really impressed with the beauty of Ashton's writing. I felt like I was marking every page because of something gorgeous or funny or meaningful. It's inventive and emotional and exciting. Everything I could ask for in a read.

At first, I found the switch in time between the present and past a little jolting. But after a couple times, I started to realize that the author was utilizing important pieces of the past to show us the entire story and it started to flow a lot easier. Plus, Ashton did an awesome job of portraying Nikki's voice pre-Feed (that is, in the past) as very different from the girl she is now. This helped the transitions to be smoother and I felt the bits in the past also added to tension rather than detracting. The ending of this novel is so bittersweet and beautiful it has me dying for the next book. I'm just saying that if Cole offered me the next one in exchange for going to the Everneath, I'd seriously have to consider the offer...

Everneath reinvites the mythology its telling with creativity and complexity.With characters your going to fall in love with and an intensely passionate and realistic romance, it's hard to put down. Even though you are told the outcome from the beginning, your heart will be racing to the last seconds to see if Nikki and Jack can find a way to beat fate. Either way, going under has never looked so good.


Favorite Lines:
I startled. It was him. Jack. The boy who had gotten me through Hell.
--Pg. 11 of "Everneath" by Brodi Ashton
I knew the smell of mowed grass and mud, and the chill of icy rain on my skin, and the sound of Jules screaming in my ear, would be grafted onto my soul and become part of the irremovable things about me. The stuff that memories are made of.
--Pg. 21 of "Everneath" by Brodi Ashton
"I remember what boys in high school were like. Especially the kind like Jack Caputo."/"What kind is that?"/"The kind that doesn't even walk a girl to the door."/I rolled my eyes. "Well, he would have, but he had to go drop off his other dates. There were three of us."
--Pg. 59 of "Everneath" by Brodi Ashton
"You don't give my job enough credit. It's really hard to convince a girl to follow me. The average pickup lines don't work so well. 'Hey, wanna get coffee? And then spend an eternity getting the life force sucked out of you?'"
--Pg. 62 of "Everneath" by Brodi Ashton
He smiled widely. "Sorry. I always feel like this after a set."/"Like what? Like you have the sudden urge to pick up teenage girls and throw them around?"
--Pg. 121 of "Everneath" by Brodi Ashton
"Okay. Friends talk. Friends help each other."/ I nodded./ "Friends don't eat friends' souls."/ I smiled. "Got it."
--Pg. 223 of "Everneath" by Brodi Ashton
But as I watched him drive away, the front end of his car still twisted from the wreck, I knew that there were no perfect moments left. When Jack found out the truth, it would be too late.
--Pg. 258 of "Everneath" by Brodi Ashton
Cole just smirked at me. "Hate. Such a strong feeling. A next door neighbor to love."
--Pg. 282 of "Everneath" by Brodi Ashton
I am as much of a ghost to him as he is to me. We are a breath away--and a world apart--from each other.
--Pg.370  of "Everneath" by Brodi Ashton

Monday, January 30, 2012

The "Write" Facts Interview: Lori Strongin

The “Write” Facts is a new weekly post where I’m chatting with a different author every week about everything to do with writing. Here we’ll be discussing the writing process, editing, working with an agent, publishing houses and talking about some of the logistics of book you either already love or will soon be a new favorite!

This week, I have author Lori Strongin on the blog. An author of many novels, Lori's first YA novel entitled Bite Me is out this week!

Lori Strongin
Novel: Bite Me
Agent: none
Publisher: Mundania Press (http://www.mundania.com/)
Word Count: 101,000
Describe your novel in five words: Vegetarian Vampire meets Surferboy Werewolf
Favorite Word: Spork
Writing is like (fill in the blank): running around naked in public.

1) What do you think is the hardest part about writing? The easiest?

Easiest for me is the plotting. When I come up with an idea, I'll sit down and plot the whole thing out in what's called a treatment, which is basically like an extended outline. It details the major plot points and motivations for each chapter. The benefit is, when I go to actually write that chapter, I already have a roadmap and so I don't waste page time, meandering around, trying to find my way.

The hardest part is when my characters don't let me do what I'd originally wanted to do. Sometimes they'll want to drop certain bombshells chapters earlier than I'd planned, so they force me to rework the treatment around them being difficult little buggers.

2) Are you a plotter or a pantser (write without a plot to see where the story takes you)?

Definitely a plotter now (see above). I used to be a pantser though, and never thought about doing the treatment until an agent wanted to see one for the as-yet unwritten 3rd book of a series.

One huge benefit of being a plotter, I've found, is looking for plot holes. With the whole plot laid out in front of me, I can do a seek and destroy mission for motivations that don't make sense or places where I bend reality to my whims (which unfortunatley never works out well).

One of Lori's main characters from Bite Me
3) Do you think reading through the slush pile has helpped you in your own writing? Any tips or tricks you can share?

Oh God, yes! Beyond just learning the Do's and Don'ts of querying, I've seen so many repeated, play-out tropes come across my inbox. One batch, I think there were 35 half-vamps falling in love with half-weres. So when an agent says "This one's not for me" or "This doesn't fit my needs at this time," that likely means they already have clients writing these types of stories and don't need to add another one, or it also might mean the market is so oversaturated with these types of stories that they already know the publishers aren't buying any more books with that plotline at the moment.

In terms of querying, I can't stress enough the importance of specifically addressing your letter to a specific person rather than a "Whom it May Concern" or "Dear Sir or Madam." If you can't be bothered to take the 30 seconds to read the agent's website, why should that agent take 30 seconds out of their incredibly busy schedule to read your letter? Also, make sure you check your pronouns and that the Mr. really *is* a Mister.

Another tip--keep your query to ONE PAGE ONLY and focus on no more than two characters. And don't Tell me who they are, but Show that to me by condensing the entire plot into 3-4 sentences that highlight what's at risk for these characters and why I should care about them.

(As a sub-note, if anyone is going to the Romantic Times convention in Chicago this April, I'll be teaching the Query Letter Bootcamp class and will be giving attendees an in-depth crash course on how to perfect their query letters.)

4) What is the difference between editting someone else's work and editting your own?

For me, editing someone else's work is both harder and easier than doing my own. It's harder, because I really have to restrain from rewriting things to how I would have said it. I've learned the hard way to respect the author's voice and realize that their way of writing, while different to mine, isn't bad. Just different. And obviously their publisher loved their authorial voice enough to publish them, so I just focus on grammar and sentence construction, plot, pacing, characterizations, and overall storytelling. It's my job as an editor to make someone's work better, not rewrite it in my own voice.

As for editing my own work, I actually rewrite/edit each chapter twice (not including my first draft) before giving it to my critique group. Then I'll edit again as the critiques come in, and the final pass will be as a unified whole once the novel is complete and all chapters have been up for inspection.

Another of Lori's characters from Bite Me
5) What common mistake do you often see in either editting or reading slush?

Focusing too much on why the person chose to write this book. Once, someone wrote in their query that dolphinstold them to write this book, and angels helped the author translate the tale into English. Seriously! This actually happened!

So, no, as a slush reader, neither I nor the agent I work for care about where the idea for the book came about or who's already read and loved it. Awesome that your mom, 3rd grade teacher, next door neighbor, and family dog all loved your book. But that's not going to help you sell your idea to an agent.

Think of the query letter like a job interview. You've got less than one minute to impress your prospective employer (i.e., the agent who will be "hiring" you as a writer), so don't scare them off with a bunch of crazy. Be professional, be concise, tell me about the plot elements of the story, and what makes your story different from all the other ones in the same genre.

6) What surprised you the most after you started working with a publisher?

How much work is involved *after* the editing! Whether you're self-published, going through a small press, or writing for a large house, you NEED to get your name out there. Thankfully, social media outlets help immensely. But man, I didn't realize how many hours I'd have to schedule for things like twitter, tumblr, goodreads, and blogging. It's a tightrope to balance marketing, my freelance work, my ever-growing slush pile, and still finding time for my own writing.

7) Can you show us your favorite place to write (could be your desk, a favorite café, the most comfy couch in the world)?

I love writing in cafes and coffee shops. Twice a week, I camp out at the local Panera's Bread for about 5 hours after work with my writing group, and then on Saturdays, I go to the Barnies Coffee and Tea shop and do an all-day writing marathon from 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. It sounds like a lot, but I see my writing a job--I schedule set times to devote to it. But there's nothing wrong with spreading out on a comfy couch with a chai latte to keep me company!

8) How do you deal with rejection?

Ben and Jerry's Phish Food. :)

haha, I've actually been at this so long, rejection doesn't really sting me for long any more. One author friend of mine got over 500 rejection letters before selling her romance series. She keeps all those letters in a suitcase and looks at them when things get rough to remind herself of how long she's been fighting and that giving up now would just be a waste after all those years of working so hard.

Another character from Bite Me
9) What do you think the advantage is to working with a smaller publisher vs. a bigger one?

I only have experiences with small and mid-sized houses, so I really couldn't say much about the Big Seven. But with Mundania for example, I love my editor and my acquistions editor. I know them as People now, not just employees of a large company assigned to help me make the parent organization money. Any time I have a question or concern, someone usually gets back to me within a day. Plus, Mundania has really welcomed me into the fold with open arms and made it feel like a personal experience. I'm not so sure that one of the larger houses would be able to provide such a sense of community.

10) What is your best piece of advice for aspiring authors?

Love what you write. If you don't love your characters, your world, your plot, readers are going to notice. It's smart to think about your prospective audience as you write, but you can't only think about the business side of publishing. Writing is also about art, about expression, and if you don't love what's flowing out of your fingers, then you're only Producing, not Writing.

Linnea Sinclair, an author who I have a ridiculous amount of respect for, once told me, re: writing, "If you're not opening a vein over your keyboard, you're doing it wrong." It was some of the best advice I've ever gotten.

That is really good advice! While I've got Lori here, I had to ask a question about her brand new YA novel.

Bonus Question: Tell us something we could know about BITE ME. Prehaps how one would get into Hedgehill University?

Oh, I LOVE this question. Well, Hedgehill University is located in Woodstock., NY, not too far from where the concert took place in 1969. One thing I love most about the town are all the old hippies who never left, still wearing their tye-died shirts and leather fringe vests and driving around in their psychedelic green and pink vans. Where better to place a school full of paranormal creatures than in the middle of Hippie Central where the flower children are more interested in certain...pasttimes than the fact a werewolf is running down the street after a pub crawl gone bad?!

Thanks so much for stopping by today and sharing your insight. It was awesome to get some questions answered by someone who has experienced a lot of different aspects of the writing and publishing world! Next week, Lauren DeStefano is talking about writing!

Incarnate Theater Treasure Hunt

Welcome to the INCARNATE Theater Treasure Hunt! 

This week, 48 bloggers are celebrating the release of INCARNATE by Jodi Meadows by participating in a treasure hunt with clues, activities, and lots of prizes including signed books and handknit fingerless mitts. You've reached an ACTIVITY blog, which means on this page, you can gain extra entries for Jodi's grand prize drawing by completing my activity and filling out the accompanying form. Then head to the next activity for more INCARNATE fun! There are 22 INCARNATE activities around. The more you do, the better your chances of winning the grand prize.

For more information on the INCARNATE Theater Treasure Hunt, check out Jodi's post.

I'm an activity blog. My activity is fairly simple, all you have to do is choose one of these sentences and fill in the blank. Dazzle me with the beauty of your words or make me snort with laughter. Remember, you only have to choose one!
  1. I want INCARNATE so badly, I would [fill in the blank].
  2. INCARNATE is to butterfly as [blank] is to [blank]
Make sure you answer the question in the comments!

Here's the form you can fill out to get points towards the main giveaway:

Don't forget to check out more activities. Here are three more people on the list:
Libri Ago: Book Lives
The Mod Podge Bookshelf
Scattered Pages

But wait! I love this book so much, I want to giveaway a copy of my own. So if you've answered one of my questions, fill out my form for a finished copy of INCARNATE from the Book Depository. If The Book Depository ships to you, then you are eligible!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, January 29, 2012

In My Mailbox 70

In my mailbox is a weekly meme created by The Story Siren that encourages other book bloggers to share what they bought, won, begged for or borrowed. It is usually held on Sundays!

Here's what I got in my mailbox this week:
A closer look, Shelf #1:

From HarperTeen:
From Penguin:
Closer look at Shelf #2:
From Books-A-Million:
Closer look at Shelf #3:
Here's a look at the spines:

I want to thank Rochelle from Books Like Stars and both publishing houses for making my week awesome! That's it for me this week. What did you get in your mailbox?

Also, you have got to check out the event Books!!!! & I are hosting in February. 

Want to meet your match? Want to match someone else up on a blind book date? You've got to participate in My Fair Book Date! Check out this post here to see more details, read the prizes and sign up!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

My Fair Book Date Event

Looking for that perfect read for February but have no idea what to read in that HUGE to be read pile? Why not let someone choose your perfect match for you?

If this sounds like a good idea to you, then sign up for our My Fair Book Date event going on for the entire month of February!

Where?: Right here on Down the Rabbit Hole and over at Books!!!!!

When?: The entire month of February

When you fill out the form, you will become matchmaker to someone and will also become set up with a matchmaker of your own!

As a matchmaker, you will research from the list of books provided for you on the form and pick out your perfect match by checking up on reviews and/or recommending one that you read and loved from the list! Then, you will send us your book choice to set up your friend on a blind date with and a short description as to why you choose that match for them. You'll also provide a short paragraph as to why you choose that book for your friend which will be used later. The catch is that your friend won't know it's you till the end of the month!

Your secret matchmaker will pick a book and we'll email you with the title. Then you'll go on a blind date with that book through the entire month of February. At the end of the month, you'll fill out a survey rating your date (it will be about 10 questions) to see if your matchmaker did a good job. We'll send over the identity of your matchmaker and the reason why they choose your match to include in your post.

Then you link up your survey and are entered into a giveaway where two random picks will win a book of their choice from The Book Depository!

To sign up, all you need to do is fill out this form. *Sign-ups will be open until February 4th and you will receive the information for your matchmaking February 5th.*

Also, if you'd like, snag a button:

This month is all about current reads. But we need people to guest post about past blind dates they had with books. If you'd like to write up a one or two paragraph guest post on a YA book someone recommended that you ended up loving, please sign up below. If you could do it for the earlier dates, please specify. The sooner we get these posts, the better!

This February...Come meet your match!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Book Review: The Way We Fall by Megan Crewe

The Way We Fall by Megan Crewe

Reading Level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Hyperion Books CH (January 24, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1423146166
ISBN-13: 978-1423146462
Series: The Way We Fall #1
Source: ARC provided by publisher
Cover: I think this cover is interesting. It's not beautiful because that isn't what this book is about. It does jump out like a warning though with it's big bold yellow (like yellow tape the police use) and the silhouette of the girl running is quite striking.
First Sentence: Leo, it's been six hours since you left the island.

Mini-ReviewThe Way We Fall is contagious.

It starts with an itch you just can't shake. Then comes a fever and a tickle in your throat. A few days later, you'll be blabbing your secrets and chatting with strangers like they’re old friends. Three more, and the paranoid hallucinations kick in. 
And then you're dead. 
When a deadly virus begins to sweep through sixteen-year-old Kaelyn’s community, the government quarantines her island—no one can leave, and no one can come back.
Those still healthy must fight for dwindling supplies, or lose all chance of survival. As everything familiar comes crashing down, Kaelyn joins forces with a former rival and discovers a new love in the midst of heartbreak. When the virus starts to rob her of friends and family, she clings to the belief that there must be a way to save the people she holds dearest.
Because how will she go on if there isn't? 
Megan Crewe crafts a powerful and gripping exploration of self-preservation, first love, and hope. Poignant and dizzying, this heart-wrenching story of one girl’s bravery and unbeatable spirit will leave readers fervently awaiting the next book in this standout new series.

Like the virus the novel is written about, The Way We Fall is contagious. Killer characters, a dire situation, a terrifying plot and a general feeling of paranoia run rampant through the novel creating an exciting read. It's like your favorite zombie novel minus the slow shuffling feet. But this virus is a killer and it takes over your mind right before it stops your heart.

Written in a journal as a series of letters, we get to see Kaelyn's thoughts as she sees them. And she's trying to be brutally honest. A situation like this, where so many people are dying, already lends itself to forcing the reader to feel sorry for the characters. The fact that I generally worried for Kaelyn's well being despite of the circumstances is an added bonus. The thing about Kaelyn that I really liked was that she was really trying to better herself before the virus struck. She constantly struggled with how to make herself into the person she wanted to be instead of the person she was. This carried through when the disaster struck and made her question her actions, thinking deeper than just surviving. I loved that she actually cared and was willing to admit it. Plus, I thought it was fascinating that she was so in to animals and would look at the world through the eyes of someone knowledgeable in the wildlife hierarchy. This shaped her view point in a pleasant, unique way.

As well-developed as Kaelyn was, you'd think the other characters would be lacking. Yet, they were all real too. You got the sense that the characters were doing something before Kaelyn walked into the room. They had their own interests and let things shape them in their own ways. Meredith survived perfectly as Kaelyn's motivation and Kaelyn's tenuous relationship with her family made for plenty of tension as people started dying. The fact her father was a lead doctor in disease research and was responsible for finding the cure made it all the more interesting. Kaelyn's budding friendship with Tess and starting a relationship with Gav at one of the most dangerous times to grow close to someone was sweet. What I loved about this story was that everyone was into their own things and they all felt whole. It was almost as if any of these characters could be the one writing the journal.

The journal form helped to grasp the enclosed feeling of being trapped on the quarantined island. Having Kaelyn write about each day and the gradual changes in her behavior was a really effective way to see how the island was changing and slowly unraveling. Then, to see Kaelyn slowly lose her mind as the virus spreads and fight to find her wa yback is both awesome and terrifying.

Terrifying is truly the word to define this novel. I was left with a feeling of dread at the horrible circumstances that the island faced in just a few short weeks. I picked up this story not realizing that what I was going to read was a horror but this disease truly is a killer and it's hard not to feel scared as everything we know from normal society begins to break down. All of a sudden Internet and phone lines are down, power is going out, gas is running low and people are starting to take the law into their own hands. Ms. Crewe is masterful at showing how people begin to crack under pressure and how disasters can truly pull out the very worst in people. But though the world is bleak, Crewe still manages to sprinkle little rays of light, Through her character's actions we see bravery in an entirely new way and we see how always questing to better oneself can lead to accomplishments far beyond one's expectations.

Blending the awesomely terrible and horribly amazing into one heartbreaking story is successful in The Way We Fall. The characters feel real so real that they will grip onto your heart and the illiness seems so plausible you'll find yourself wincing at every cough and sneeze. But should The Way We Fall become a virus, I'd suggest you catch it. Because like the virus contained within the pages it will take over you mind and make you want to spread it around to all your friends.

Favorite Lines:
...I can imagine what it's like to fly. At least, I usually can. Right then I felt as if I had a weight strapped around my waist, holding me down, made up of all the things I should have said to you before you left.
--Pg.4 of an ARC of "The Way We Fall" by Megan Crewe
So I tried. If your girlfriend wants to risk her life for fertilizer or a spade or whatever, that's up to her.
-- Pg. 53 of an ARC of "The Way We Fall" by Megan Crewe
"...This is all I can say right now. The government's decided the area's too high risk. They're closing off the island."
--Pg. 57 of an ARC of "The Way We Fall" by Megan Crewe
His forearms were wiry with muscle. Possibly from pummeling his friends on a regular basis.
--Pg. 78 of an ARC of "The Way We Fall" by Megan Crewe
It doesn't make its victims stagger around slobbering and moaning so anyone in their right mind would run the other way. It gets you cozying up to people...
--Pg. 93 of an ARC of "The Way We Fall" by Megan Crewe
"You're always threatening me with violence," he said, his breath warm against my ear. "What's that all about?"/"You're the one teaching me how to hit people," I pointed out./"You're saying I'm the bad influence then?" he asked. I could feel his grin./"Oh definitely," I said.
--Pg. 223 of an ARC of "The Way We Fall" by Megan Crewe
This is what we do. We make tea and read books and watch people die.
--Pg. 279 of an ARC of "The Way We Fall" by Megan Crewe

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Young Adult Giveaway Hop!

I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and I have teamed up to host an awesome giveaway hop for YA books only! I'm so pleased to be a part of this hop. So now, I'm sure you are all wondering what I'm giving away!

There will be one winner that can choose a pre-order for the following titles:

As you can see, those are some wonderful prizes!

All you have to do is fill out the form and you're entered! You may only fill out the form once.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
*let me know if the form isn't working please*

Good luck and thanks so much for stopping by my blog! It's all YA here all the time!

Also, if I reach 2000 followers this time, I'll be doing a HUGE 2000 Follower giveaway. We're talking at least 12 books!

Why not check out some of the other amazing giveaways?

The Time Will Come (30): Warm Bodies by Issac Marion

The Time Will Come is a weekly meme started by Books for Company which spotlights books that have been sitting unread on our shelves for too long.

Want to join in?:
- Pick a book you have been meaning to read
- Do a post telling us about the book
- Link the post up in the linky at Books for Company
- Visit the other blogs!

Warm Bodies by Issac Marion
A zombie who yearns for a better life ends up falling in love—with a human—in this astonishingly original debut novel.

R is a zombie. He has no memories, no identity, and no pulse, but he has dreams. He doesn’t enjoy killing people; he enjoys riding escalators and listening to Frank Sinatra. He is a little different from his fellow Dead.

Not just another zombie novel, Warm Bodies is funny, scary, and deeply moving.
I picked this novel up while I was at YAllfest because the author was supposed to be there. He never showed (plane delays I think) but I still got the book. I'd see it around a lot and also heard it was being turned into a movie. So I snagged myself a copy. I will read this one before the movie comes out, I just need to have the time.

What about you? Have you read it? Or what's been sitting on your shelf too long?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Author Interview: S.R. Wells, author of On the Bright Side

Today I have S.R. Wells on the blog, chatting up her up and coming tween novel On the Bright Side. I've got to tell you guys, this novel looks adorable! Thanks for stopping by!

1) Describe ON THE BRIGHT SIDE in 140 characters or less.

OTBS is about a tween angel assigned to protect her school nemesis who's now dating her crush. Intead, Gabby starts pranking her mortal & unleashes a dark side.

2) So Gabby dies at 14 and is in a sort of limbo. What three things does she miss the most about Earth?

1) her best friend (and crush) Michael
2) her mom
3) her jeans because now she's stuck in white fat pants for eternity

3) Gabby's put in charge of looking after her enemy. What advice do you think she'd give someone who is paired with someone they don't like or put in a similar situation?

Well, at first she would say: pssst, have you tried the Prickly Dead Arm Charm OR did you know if you blow on their neck, they get the chills. But in the end, Gabby would tell someone that things are not always when they seem on the outside. That you never know what someone is going through or how your actions can ripple into something worse than you wanted or expected. And sometimes doing the things you think will make you feel better about yourself, actually make you feel worse.

   4) Can you tell me your reaction when you saw your cover?

I love it. Vania at VLC Photo does a great job of taking my vision and capturing it in a way I did not expect.   This cover captures the spirit of Gabby to the core. It think its cute and fun. There are not many paranormal tween books (true tween) and most of the middle grace paranormals are illustrated. I love that she captured the age and spirit in a real photo.

5) What is the difference between writing for teens and writing for tweens?

Well, teens are a little bit more insightful than tweens. Tweens have that kid side where they want to hug their moms yet that teen side where they want independence. They are inbetween which describes Gabby exactly. The romance is different in tweens. They are more light and border on a crush. Whereas teens are usually full blown love.

6) Have you read anything lately that you'd recommend?

For tweens? I love Alyson Noel's Riley Series - the spinoff of Evermore. I think Riley and Gabby would be great friends and have lots of fun.

7) Can you tell us anything about any future projects you have in the works?

I have an Anthology (In His Eyes) coming out with some other indie authors on Feb 14th. It is comprised of short stories that are all from the perspective of the hot guys in our books. Also, the sequel to Untraceable (my YA wilderness thriller) comes out sometime late summer 2012.

As if the devil’s food cake at her wake and the white fat pants she’s stuck wearing for eternity weren’t bad enough, fourteen year-old Gabby is quick to discover that Cirrus, the main rung of Heaven, is a far cry from the Pearly Gates. Here, Skyphones and InnerNets are all the rage. At her first Bright ceremony, G.O.D., the automated assignment system, spits out Angela Black, Gabby’s arch nemesis and longtime fencing rival. As a Bright, Gabby has to protect Angela, her assigned mortal, in order to move up through the training levels of heaven. 
Back on earth, Angela starts hitting on Michael, Gabby’s crush and should-have-been boyfriend. Gabby’s pranks to quell the love are harmless at first until the school dance sabotage gets completely out of control. Then, Celestial Sky Agent, Clarence, who happens to have anger management issues of his own, steps into reveal that Angela has big problems, and what she really needs is Gabby’s help. Determined to right her wrong and ease her mother’s grief, Gabby steals an ancient artifact that allows her to return to earth for just one day. But if Gabby’s not careful, her well-meaning mission just might shift the very foundation of Heaven, Earth, and every place in between, causing the danger of the dark side to roam free.
Here' what people are saying about On the Bright Side:
"S.R. Johannes delivers a cute sci-fi thrill ride for middle graders! Even in death there is a BRIGHT SIDE!" - Addison Moore, author of the bestselling Celestra series

Clever and charming, ON THE BRIGHT SIDE is the story of a reluctant guardian angel, her still-breathing crush, and the frenemy she’s assigned to protect. A great read! -Suzanne Young, author of A Need So Beautiful, A Want So Wicket (6/12), and The Program (2013)

“ON THE BRIGHT SIDE is both hilarious and heart-warming – a tale that’ll have you hoping that there really *are* spunky and determined angels like Gabby who’ve got our backs.” - Kristin O’Donnell Tubb, author of Selling Hope & The 13th Sign (2013) (Feiwel & Friends)

"With a smart, snappy heroine and a heart-warming crush, ON THE BRIGHT SIDE is a page-turning new take on guardian angels that left me begging for a sequel!" - Gretchen McNeil, author of Possess and Ten (9/12) (Balzar + Bray)
Thanks a million time to S.R. Wells for stopping by!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Teaser Tuesday (71) and Top Ten Tuesday (17)

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along, just do as following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
Share two (2) "teaser" sentences from somewhere on that pageBe careful not to include any spoilers so as not to ruin the book for others!Make sure to share the title and the author so other TT participants can add the book to their TBR piles!

Incarnate by Jodi Meadows
"You won't have me." I spun and leaped off the cliff. Death would be fast and cold; I wouldn't feel a thing.
--Pg. 13 of an ARC of "Incarnate" by Jodi Meadows

I haven't read much of this novel yet but it is already starting out as something I didn't expect. This is way more fantasy than I originally thought which is a great thing. I'm looking forward to where this story will take me!

What's your teaser?

Top Ten Tuesday is a 10's list meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. There is a different question every week and all you have to do is answer their question with your top ten results!

Top Ten Underrated Books
This week is a freebie where we can pick any of the prompts from the past. I've been meaning to do something like this on my blog anyway so this is a perfect excuse! Check out my top ten underrated books
1) Shifting by Bethany Wiggins- Without a doubt, this is my top underrated book. I haven't read too many reviews but every one that I do read raves about this book. And there is a good reason. Complex characters, a plot filled with tough choices and interesting Native American legend fill every fast paced page. If you haven't rad this book, do yourself a favor and pick it up!

2) Bad Girls Don't Die by Katie Alender- This novel is one that got a little more popular around Halloween this year which I was pleased to see. Written as a horror, the author is a master at creating scary situations with the atmosphere in the first installment and psychologically with the second. Strong characters and a gripping plot make this one book you need to read.

3) Give Up The Ghost by Megan Crewe- I went in not expecting a lot from this book and the complex characters and strong relationships blew me away. The writing flows naturally, the story is interesting and I loved the main character!

4) Hold Still by Nina LaCour- This novel is literally perfect for fans of If I Stay. Deeply emotional, Hold Still explores the healing process of what comes after someone kills themselves and has a cast of characters that will stay with you. I think back on Taylor and Caitlin, I still smile.

5) How To Say Goodbye In Robot by Natalie Standiford- This novel literally tore my heart in two in the best way possible. Every time I think back on this book, I smile at the odd radio station and get a little emotional about the ending. It's stuck with me even though I've read it a year ago.

6) The Demon Trapper's Daughter by Jana Oliver- It seems like so many people have heard of this series but too few have read it. I love tough-as-nails Riley and her southern guy who looks after her Beck. This series is such a fun, exciting read with an entirely new world. You have to check it out!

7) Cold Kiss by Amy Garvey- I love how this book combined the paranormal and contemporary genre. So many times when someone dies, it still feels like they are there because we carry them with us. I'm really glad  to see someone take this to a new place and give us an emotionally complex story bursting with beauty.

8) Deadly Cool by Gemma Halliday- This novel is just a good time. Hartley is so funny and her relationship with her best friend/partner in crime really makes this novel special. I loved Hartley's unique voice. From page one, it feels like something special because it is. 

What's your top ten list this week? Have you read any of my choices?
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