I am off to BEA!

Hello everyone both new and old, thank you for visiting my blog!

This is just a quick post to announce that I'll mostly be out of touch during the next few days because...

I will be off at BEA through Saturday and I am so so excited! I am hoping to be able to post some updates before I get to a huge BEA haul next weekend, but I don't know if I will have Internet or not over the next few days.

I'm sorry for the brief hiatus, but it is so so worth it in my opinion.

I will be staying with Gillian and we'll hopefully have some awesome videos for you upon our return!

Hope everyone has an amazing week <3


Review: Perfect Scoundrels by Ally Carter

Series: Heist Society #3
Publication Date: February 5, 2013
Publisher: Hyperion Books for Children
Reading Level: Young Adult
Pages: 328 (Hardcover)
Source: Gifted

Katarina Bishop and W.W. Hale the fifth were born to lead completely different lives: Kat comes from a long, proud line of loveable criminal masterminds, while Hale is the scion of one of the most seemingly perfect dynasties in the world. If their families have one thing in common, it's that they both know how to stay under the radar while getting-or stealing-whatever they want. No matter the risk, the Bishops can always be counted on, but in Hale's family, all bets are off when money is on the line. When Hale unexpectedly inherits his grandmother's billion dollar corporation, he quickly learns that there's no place for Kat and their old heists in his new role. But Kat won't let him go that easily, especially after she gets tipped off that his grandmother's will might have been altered in an elaborate con to steal the company's fortune. So instead of being the heir-this time, Hale might be the mark. Forced to keep a level head as she and her crew fight for one of their own, Kat comes up with an ambitious and far-reaching plan that only the Bishop family would dare attempt. To pull it off, Kat is prepared to do the impossible, but first, she has to decide if she's willing to save her boyfriend's company if it means losing the boy.
~*~Lili's Reflections~*~

Ally Carter has proved once again why I have yet to find a young adult espionage book that even begins to rival any of hers. My, my, how I love the Heist Society. Let me just take a moment to marvel in its glory surpassed by none.

Clearly, this book blew me away. I'd go as far as to admit that it's the best in the Heist Society series to date. And I'm hoping each book that follows this one will just keep getting better and better because that's the expectation that Ally Carter has rightfully earned in my eyes. I keep eating her books up like of hot piece of apple pie coupled with vanilla ice cream and caramel drizzle. Yeah, they're just that sweet and amazing. And of course, we have to throw a little brownie in there for all the brownie points that Carter is famous for earning via her clever lines and humorous plots.

The focus of this novel was the enigma known as W. W. Hale the Fifth. Because of this, we learned a great many things about him, his family, how he first met Kat, and his grandmother--whose unfortunate, untimely, and unexpected death started this whirlwind story. I have to admit that learning about Hale was both insightful and intimidating. I didn't know much about him prior to this novel, so it was beyond awesome to learn more, but at the same time it became increasingly apparent that he truly did live in a world completely unlike Kat's. However, with that in mind, he has the heart of a spy and the brain of a con-man. I couldn't ask for a better story to truly describe the parallels of his life as a wealthy heir and his hidden life with Kat. But this boy begins to become vulnerable in this book. We see his familial flaws, his worst fears come to light, his pain at losing his loved one and what little respect he had from his parents and all other relatives vanishing due to their great envy of his new inheritance. While his full name is still unknown to us--despite how much I wish it was revealed in this one--he himself became known to us. We finally know enough about him to know why he is the way he is because Carter decided to make him the star of this novel. He was our focus, everything evolved around him, and this was a huge change from the previous novels in this series.


We began the story with the legitimate mention that Kat and Hale are in a relationship. Of course, how can nobody love this? However, almost immediately after we're giving a quick sequence of events that shattered the perfection we were all hoping for for so long. See, Hale and Kat were on a heist when, completely unexpectedly, Hale left her hanging (literally--from a bathroom window in a harness). Their relationship after that was rather downhill. Soon, Kat finds out that he left because his beloved grandmother died. She was the only person in his illustrious family that he really connected with, so it's safe to say that Hale is completely and utterly heartbroken. However, it quickly becomes obvious to Kat that Hale is the mark in one of the most elaborate cons she's ever seen when he inherits the entire Hale fortune as a minor and the guardian of the industry until he can legally inherit it is the creepy, scheming family lawyer, Garett, whose job was terminated days before Hale's grandmother's passing. As you can tell, this is one huge plot that required multiple cons within the overall con to pull it off. There was a lot of close calls and constant scheming, scamming, and planning of missions and back-up scenarios. I loved every minute of it and while this book was more than satisfying, I felt a sense of sadness when I turned the last page because I didn't want it to end.

In the end, I loved this book. With an amazing cast of side characters like the amazingly intelligent Uncle Eddie and the easily lovable twins Hamish and Angus, I couldn't get enough. Swept up between vile villains, the crew from book two, and the addition of an aging scientist who helped make the Hale family fortune come to life, this book will sweep you off your feet compared to all the rest. I recommend this series to literally everyone because it's a light, incredibly humorous read for all age groups that I have no criticisms about. And, by gosh, will I be distraught if this series doesn't continue for two reasons:

1. Gallagher Girls is ending and I need me my daily dose of Ally Carter.

...and 2. WE STILL DON'T KNOW HALE'S NAME! WHAT!?!?

 
5 stars


~*~Links~*~

Top Ten Books I Hope To Grab at BEA


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and Bookish.

This week's topic was a freebie, so I chose to list the top ten books I hope to grab at BEA. Making this list was very hard because I'm dying for so many books. But I narrowed it down to these 10. In no particular order...

1. The Coldest Girl in Cold Town by Holly Black
2. Antigoddess by Kendare Blake
3. Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas
4. Teardrop by Lauren Kate
5. Frigid by Jennifer L. Armentrout
6. Unbreakable by Kami Garcia
7. The Brokenhearted by Amelia Kahaney
8. Reboot by Amy Tintera
9. Wild Cards by Simone Elkeles
10. Vicious by V.E. Schwab

This is a wide array of books spanning all genres, one of which is even an adult novel. Some of these are books by authors I love, a few are books by authors I have yet to read, and several are books by authors I've heard amazing things about and have yet to check out for myself. Either way, every book on this list has me pining. BAD.

Review: The Summer I Became a Nerd by Leah Rae Miller

Publication Date: May 7, 2013
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Reading Level: Young Adult
Pages: 267 (eARC)
Source: From Publisher for Review
On the outside, seventeen-year-old Madelyne Summers looks like your typical blond cheerleader—perky, popular, and dating the star quarterback. But inside, Maddie spends more time agonizing over what will happen in the next issue of her favorite comic book than planning pep rallies with her squad. That she’s a nerd hiding in a popular girl's body isn’t just unknown, it's anti-known. And she needs to keep it that way.

Summer is the only time Maddie lets her real self out to play, but when she slips up and the adorkable guy behind the local comic shop’s counter uncovers her secret, she’s busted. Before she can shake a pom-pom, Maddie’s whisked into Logan’s world of comic conventions, live-action role-playing, and first-person-shooter video games. And she loves it. But the more she denies who she really is, the deeper her lies become…and the more she risks losing Logan forever.
~*~Lili's Reflections~*~

 I was in desperate need for a fun, light pick-me-up and this novel is now one of my go-to pick-me-up's. I loved every second of this fantastic nerdy experience and I can't wait to see what else Miller has in store for us. It was quick, it was entertaining, and it was sweet--in other words, it was literary gold.

I think that the overall concept of the novel is something that should be applauded. I can honestly say that I've never read a book that dealt with comics. I've read books that have the idea of superheroes or superhuman abilities, but never one that centered around an actual comic book and the concept of Live Action Role Playing (LARPing). So, to go out there with such a thing being the basis of your novel is definitely ballsy, and it totally paid off. Miller created a fresh new voice in young adult contemporary literature that I will forever be on the lookout for.

When it comes to summarizing the book, the synopses above is dead on. Maddie's world was immediately turned upside down upon meeting Logan, the adorkable soccer goalie whose family owns the local comic book shop, The Phoenix. I have to say that he's one of the sweetest love interests I've encountered in a while because he's himself. He's Awesome Logan and his personality shines through on everything he does. In Maddie's world everything is fake, so his true self and lack of lies was like a beacon of hope that she easily got drawn to. When she was with Logan she could be herself. And I really enjoyed this aspect of the plot-line because I think this is an important message to be shared in young adult lit. I recently read a book that seemingly emphasized the need to change to impress guys, so it was refreshing to encounter Logan, a nice boy who encouraged Maddie to not only be true to herself, but not to be ashamed of what she is either. It was a long journey, but one that would not have happened if not for him. Can you tell that I loved him?

And then there's Maddie. Did I like her? Of course! Her love of comics and closet obsession with something she holds so dear to her heart was adorable and something I can easily respect. As a book junkie I totally understand the itching anxiety one can experience with the upcoming release of an installment or standalone that is heavily anticipated. Us bloggers? We're not all that different from her. This relation to her and her easy banter and thought processes made her easily likable.

But when I took a step back from the story and took a deep breath, I realized that our MC did have some major flaws. To put it simply, she's oblivious and selfish which leads her to weave a tangled web of lies that she simply cannot get out of unscathed. This entire story, while admittedly adorkable and cute, could have avoided literally every aspect of drama if she just owned up to who she was and what she likes instead of embracing the cheerleader stereotype and fearing the worst. My biggest pet peeve is stereotypes and Maddie pretty much admits to going for one on purpose, going as far as to date the quarterback because she's a cheerleader and it's simply expected of her even though she doesn't really like him. She was scared and resorted to falsities and negative outward appearances to solve all of her problems. I wish that she had more common sense to avoid it all, you know?

I want to give a shout out to the great cast of side characters, specifically Dan who supplied 95% of the hilarious laugh out loud moments in the book with his creatively foul mouth. Logan's mother was also amazing because she's not your stereotypical mother or ex-cheerleader and she's very maternal and awesome--we need more people like her in young adult literature. When it came to character, aside from the few issues above, Miller really banged her debut out of the park. The sub-characters really contributed greatly to the overall plot.

All in all, I suggest this book to literally anyone looking for something truly unique and light that can be read in a single sitting. It'll constantly put a smile on your face and will have you laughing out loud at the awesome absurdity of it all. What more could you ask for?

To put it simply, this is an amazingly adorkable summer read that cannot be missed!

 
 4 stars

~*~Links~*~

Disclaimer: I received this novel from the publisher in exchange for an honest review and received no compensation in return for the review whatsoever.

Stacking The Shelves #31

 
 Stacking The Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews.

This is two weeks worth of amazing books!


For Review
Addicted to You by Becca and Krista Richie (indie NA, thanks to the amazing authors!)
The Summer I Became A Nerd by Leah Rae Miller (Thank you for the eARC, Entangled)
Spirit by Brigid Kemmerer (Thank you to Kensington for the ARC!)

 

Bought
The Vincent Brothers by Abbi Glines (ebook on sale for $1.99)
Everblue by Brenda Pandos (free ebook on Amazon, who doesn't love mermaids?)
Lonely Souls by Karice Bolton (free ebook on Amazon) 


Netgalley
Spies and Prejudice by Talia Vance



Library
The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healy
Tuesday's at the Castle by Jessica Day George
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne (school assignment)



Gifted
This is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith (Thank you so much, Jennifer!)


 What did everyone else add to their shelves this week?

Note: I will not be posting an STS next week because I will be attending BEA, so the week after will be a HUGE STS BEA haul! <3  

Review: Wait For You by J. Lynn

Series: Wait For You #1
Publication Date: February 26, 2013
Reading Level: New Adult/18+/Mature
Pages: 332 (eBook)
Source: Bought
Some things are worth waiting for…

Traveling thousands of miles from home to enter college is the only way nineteen-year-old Avery Morgansten can escape what happened at the Halloween party five years ago—an event that forever changed her life. All she needs to do is make it to her classes on time, make sure the bracelet on her left wrist stays in place, not draw any attention to herself, and maybe—please God—make a few friends, because surely that would be a nice change of pace. The one thing she didn’t need and never planned on was capturing the attention of the one guy who could shatter the precarious future she’s building for herself.

Some things are worth experiencing…

Cameron Hamilton is six feet and three inches of swoon-worthy hotness, complete with a pair of striking blue eyes and a remarkable ability to make her want things she believed were irrevocably stolen from her. She knows she needs to stay away from him, but Cam is freaking everywhere, with his charm, his witty banter, and that damn dimple that’s just so… so lickable. Getting involved with him is dangerous, but when ignoring the simmering tension that sparks whenever they are around each other becomes impossible, he brings out a side of her she never knew existed.

Some things should never be kept quiet…

But when Avery starts receiving threatening emails and phone calls forcing her to face a past she wants silenced, she’s has no other choice but to acknowledge that someone is refusing to allow her to let go of that night when everything changed. When the devastating truth comes out, will she resurface this time with one less scar? And can Cam be there to help her or will he be dragged down with her?

And some things are worth fighting for…
 
~*~Lili's Reflections~*~

It is true, whether Jennifer L. Armentrout is writing as J Lynn or JLA, she can deliver a story. This story was an easy book to breeze through. I started it at 11 thinking I could read myself to sleep and continue in the morning, but I read this one and stayed up to write my review immediately even though it was past two AM. I can't say this one was disappointing.

However, as an avid reader and extreme lover of JLA's Covenant series and Lux series, I have to say that I found a few flaws in this one that kept it from measuring up to two of my favorite series ever. The main point being the secondary characters. Like all of her other books, her secondary characters were absolutely amazing to be around. Jacob and Brit were absolute highlights of the story alongside the main characters of Cam and Avery. Jacob is a flamboyant gay guy and has the stereotypical loud and out there personality of a gay guy. In truth, I really hate when homosexual characters are characterized this way because I feel as if it is feeding into a stereotype, but I enjoyed his characterization nonetheless because of his ability to diffuse tension. Brit was the best friend a girl could ever ask for and was always there for Avery. I also want to throw out a shout-out to Cam's roommate Ollie. He was hilarious and wanted to have a good time, which mostly meant doing crazy things to Cam's beloved pet turtle Raphael by putting him on leashes or leaving him in the hallway and bringing him everywhere. I thought he was highly entertaining though he wasn't as strong as a secondary character as Brit and Jacob were.

And Cam and Avery deserve their own recognition. Cam alone is a reason to read this book. He is truly over six feet tall of swoonyness and I loved every second of it. In the beginning of the novel, we meet Cam because Avery literally runs into him. And let's just say it was love at first sight. A reformed playboy, he's immediately interested in Avery's slight nerdiness and hidden attractiveness. It was refreshing to see him around. Incredibly persistent, he wouldn't rest until Avery could begin the slow process of letting go of her past and beginning to start anew with Cam. This boy will literally change her life, despite the fact that he has secrets of his own.

With that being said, I think the secrets could have been revealed a lot differently. There were small clues dropped regarding Cam's secret when he took Avery home to meet his parents, so the big reveal wasn't that surprising in the end. He's a concerned older brother and despite his actions I'd kill to have someone like him in my life. However, Avery's secret was sort of obvious with all of the context clues. As horrible as it was, I figured it out within the first few chapters because of how she referred to it. This was a bummer for me because it took away from the plot, in my opinion, since the secret's reveal was such a big deal. Her desire to keep it to herself almost broke her and Cam up forever several different times.

I also want to mention another point of the story that bugged me. The beginning of Cam and Avery's relationship was very sweet. Sure, there was kissing, they loved each other, but it was sweet and nice. Too soon did it turn purely physical. I almost felt like the second half of the book was every sexual situation you can think of, thrown in there for the hell of it. There's a way a relationship can be totally sweet and sexual, but it turned into one that was dominantly sexual to me. There was something going on almost every chapter. Literally, every sexual situation you can think of was described in immense detail and if it wasn't, it was mentioned in conversation to prove that it happened. There was an entire chapter dedicated to Avery explaining how she sets her alarm and hour early so she can have some morning sex before she heads to class all the time. I get it, yeah, but I missed the sweetness of the two of them. It suddenly was all about the physicalities of a relationship and while this led to some emotional vulnerability for her first time, I felt all of the beautiful descriptions and emphasis that there was surrounding their emotions in the beginning of their relationship was gone so that another sex scene could fit into the story.

While ths novel has some original aspects to it, it unfortunately does follow the general new adult plot line where girl and boy go to a college to escape their past, meet, fall in love in their first year after undergoing many trials and tribulations, and predictably live happily ever after. This book will be good for fans of EASY by Tammara Webber if they'd prefer a story with more sex in it. While I loved both of them, I prefer EASY more due to the substance and amazing plot that it outlined as opposed to the eventual focus on sex. Either way, both authors know how to tell a story, and I am anxiously awaiting book two in this series. Despite how it seems that Cam will turn into a secondary character to focus on someone else, I still need a healthy dosing of Cam!

Warning: There is a lot of cussing and a lot of detailed sexual situations in this one. If any of this makes you uncomfortable, this really is not a book for you.

 
4.5 stars

~*~Links~*~

Blogoversary Day 7: Gina Damico

And last but not least...Gina Damico. Gina Damico taught me something really valuable: authors can make you laugh. They can make you so hysterical that there are tears rolling down your cheeks. And the sad thing is that I never knew this until I came across her writing. I was a safe reader before blogging, never taking a chance on new books, so I never really experienced a novel that literally left me rolling around with tears in my eyes the way that Gina Damico leaves me. I'm so thankful that she introduced me to this new side of books that leaves me begging for more. I eagerly anticipate whatever she has coming next because I know, without a doubt, that she will make my day. Thank you for stopping by, Gina! I think your guest post is perhaps one of the most entertaining and unique ones I've ever seen.

~*~

I grew up under four feet of snow in Syracuse, New York. I received a degree in theater and sociology from Boston College, where I was active with the Committee for Creative Enactments, a murder mystery improv comedy troupe, which may or may not have sparked an interest in wildly improbable bloodshed. I have since worked as a tour guide, transcriptionist, theater house manager, scenic artist, movie extra, office troll, retail monkey, yarn hawker and breadmonger. Croak was my first novel, Scorch is my second, and the third and final book in the trilogy will be out in Fall 2013. I live in Boston with my husband, two cats, one dog, and a closet full of black hoodies.

~*~Guest Post on the Reality of Writing~*~

Sometimes it's easy to romanticize the act of writing. You think of an author hard at work in a warm, wood-stove cabin at the top of a mountain, lovingly writing long, loopy calligraphy into a journal made of paper that was handcrafted by Tibetan monks from endangered silkworm fibers.

But here's the hard truth: there's hardly ever a cabin. There's hardly ever Tibetan monks. And that journal? It's a Five Star notebook from Staples.

It is for me, at least. I love, love, love office supplies. When I was a kid, school supply shopping was better than Christmas. I'd walk into that store and get that heady whiff of PAPER and PRODUCTIVITY and ADMINISTRATIVE DETAILS and I'd practically fall to the floor in a fit of ecstasy. The pens! The binders! The opportunities for color coding!

So it's no surprise that this obsession spilled over into my writing career. I keep notes. I doodle all over dry erase boards. I plot things out using index cards, like I did when I was writing ROGUE. Just the other day, in fact, I bought a five-subject notebook for something new that I'm working on. Things have already been written in all five subjects. I may have to go buy another one by the end of the day.

I love those five-subject notebooks. They come with folders! That have pockets! To hold all of the loose notes I take! (You'd think I'd learn to write solely in the friggin' notebook, but nope, got a stack of scrap paper next to my desk that somehow manages to keep crawling into my lap like a cat, begging to be paid attention to.) Are they meant to keep things organized? Of course. Do they stay organized? That's a cute theory.

The point, because I do have one (I know because I wrote it in my notebook), is that you don't need fancy stuff to be a fancy writer. You need a writing implement--charcoal from a dying fire will do, or your own blood in a pinch--and something to write on. It doesn't have to be a Five Star notebook, though there is a reason that they have those five stars. (Out of how many, though? What is the going notebook quality rating system these days?) Pen and paper. It's that simple. You don't even need to go to an office supply store to get started.

But if you do, I'm totally coming with.

~*~Giveaway~*~

1. One winner to get a copy of SCORCH - second book in th CROAK trilogy
2. Open to the US and Canada
3. 13 years or older
4. One entry per household
5. Cheaters will be disqualified from and and all of my giveaways
6. Winner has 24 hours to respond before I pick a new one.
7. Giveaway ends at midnight on June 22nd

Blogoversary Day 6: Jessica Spotswood

Jessica taught me so much. She taught me that criticism is a necessity and it can do nothing but help, even if it doesn't seem that way in the moment. She helped teach me the importance of writing by simply sending me a journal to give to impoverished children. She gave me a newfound respect for an industry I love by sharing her experiences with me, befriending me, and helping to give me a desire to write as well. This is someone who I respect greatly and whose books I eagerly anticipate. She is among the kindest, giggliest (in the best possible way) people I've ever met and meeting her was a privilege.

~*~

I grew up in a tiny one-stoplight town in Pennsylvania, where I could be found swimming, playing clarinet, memorizing lines for the school play, or—most often—with my nose in a book. I've been writing since I was little but studied theatre in college and grad school. Now I live in Washington, DC with my brilliant playwright husband and a cuddly cat named Monkey.

~*~Guest Post on Writing a Sequel~*~

I love STAR CURSED. It's full of intense sisterly rivalry, swoony kissing scenes, and growing tension as the battle between the witches and the Brotherhood - the priests who outlawed magic - heats up. There are book burnings and protests and visits to an insane asylum, and we find out for certain which of the Cahill sisters is the most powerful.

But writing it was one of the hardest things I've ever done.

STAR CURSED was the first book I wrote under contract. I had four months to write it - just as the advanced copies of BORN WICKED were going out into the world and I was nervously receiving my first reviews. I was adjusting to writing full time, which was a dream come true but came with its own set of challenges. What happens when you take the thing that has always been your passion, your hobby, the thing that you look forward to when you get home from work - and make it your work? If you're me, you spend a lot of time procrastinating. Worrying that it won't be good enough. That whatever magic happened when I wrote BORN WICKED could not possibly be duplicated.

It sounds a little melodramatic, in retrospect.

But the pressure was overwhelming. I had never expected a major deal, in PW terms, or to be able to quit my day job. I was terribly grateful. But I was also terrified that my editor would read this messy first draft of STAR CURSED - so different from the highly polished draft of BORN WICKED that had sold, which had taken me a year to write and had gone through multiple revisions with my agent and critique partners - and realize she'd made a mistake. That the entire dream - this thing I'd wanted so desperately since I was a little girl - would be over before it even started.

I have learned since then that this fear is not at all uncommon. Basically, every writer worries about this. We're a neurotic bunch.

So, I wrote a draft. It was difficult to go from a finished, copyedited ms back to a fledgling first draft; my inner editor was super-critical. And then...the worst seemed to happen. My editor read it and we talked. We came to the conclusion that the plot was all wrong. I had to throw out 75% of it and start over. I cried. I was devastated. Four months of work - gone. I felt like a failure. I knew the book was broken but I didn't know how to fix it. I spent four more months rewriting it, doubting myself every step of the way - and then the entire summer editing. 

It was actually the best thing that could have happened. I pushed myself - well, ok, my fabulous editor (Ari Lewin at Putnam) pushed me, kicking and screaming and crying and eating too many cookies along the way - to work harder than I'd ever worked before. The thing is, I'd never written a sequel. They're tricksy. Writers have to step up their games with sequels - make them more romantic and thrilling and fast-paced than the first book. The stakes have to be higher. The book has to serve as a bridge between books one and three, while also possessing its own plot and character arcs. How often do readers complain about a middle book that feels like a placeholder - like nothing happens?

In the end, all writers can do is work as hard as we possibly can and then let the book go, content in the knowledge that we did our absolute best.   I can't imagine settling for anything less - not when it's something as important as a dream-turned-career at stake. I am really, really proud of this book, and I can't wait to hear what readers think!


~*~Giveaway~*~

1. Three winners
2. US only
3. 13 years or older
4. One entry per household
5. Cheaters will be disqualified from and and all of my giveaways
6. Winner has 24 hours to respond before I pick a new one.
7. Giveaway ends at midnight on June 22nd

Blogoversary Day 5: Jennifer L. Armentrout

I don't really know where to begin with JLA. I would not have discovered her without becoming a blogger and she is easily one of my favorite authors ever. The worst rating one of her books has ever received from me is 4 stars. Yes, really. That's how much I love her. And she's very dedicated to her fans. She pretty much taught me that not only do authors realize how important we are and appreciate what we do for them, but there is such thing as a true favorite author. I've never really found one that continuously surprised me the way JLA does until JLA came along. Even my Dad laughs at me because I have a small section on my bookcase just for her books.

~*~
 
# 1 NEW YORK TIMES and USA TODAY Bestselling author Jennifer lives in Martinsburg, West Virginia. All the rumors you’ve heard about her state aren’t true. When she’s not hard at work writing. she spends her time reading, working out, watching really bad zombie movies, pretending to write, and hanging out with her husband and her Jack Russel Loki.
Her dreams of becoming an author started in algebra class, where she spent most of her time writing short stories….which explains her dismal grades in math. Jennifer writes young adult paranormal, science fiction, fantasy, and contemporary romance. She is published with Spencer Hill Press, Entangled Teen and Brazen, Disney/Hyperion and Harlequin Teen.
She also writes adult and New Adult romance under the name J. Lynn. She is published by Entangled Brazen and HarperCollins.



~*~Interview About Her New Book, OBSESSION~*~

What caused you to decide to take the world of your YA series and turn it into an adult novel? 
I decided to write Obsession because so many readers asked for an adult version of the Lux series.  I didn’t want to rewrite that series, but I did like the idea of writing an adult book set in the same world.

Will we see any of our favorite characters from the Lux series in OBSESSION or any parallels between the two worlds?  
You will definitely see some characters from the Lux series in Obsession.  But, I can’t tell you who you will find because that’s too spoilery!

Would you recommend reading the Lux series prior to reading OBSESSION?  
Since Obsession is an adult novel, it’s written so it can be read without reading the Lux series first.  However, I think that Obsession is more fun if you’ve read the Lux series and you’re familiar with the characters and the world.

Will OBSESSION turn into a promising series as well?   
Obsession is a standalone novel.  I don’t have any plans to write a sequel right now.

Obviously, you live in West Virginia and this series takes place in West Virginia. Do you take any important aspects of your own life and where you live and somehow incorporate them into your novels?
  
Since I live in West Virginia, I’m familiar with the state and the surrounding areas.  For me, it makes it easier and more realistic if I have some firsthand knowledge of the setting in my books.

Do you see any aspects of yourself in characters in OBSESSION or the Lux series?  
 I tend to be a little snarky, and I think this comes out in some of my characters.  Aside from that characteristic, most of my characters have personalities all their own.

Can you tell us about anything else we should expect from you soon?
  
The final book of the Covenant series is being released this fall, and I have a new YA paranormal series with Harlequin Teen coming out in 2014.  I also have Trust in Me which is Wait for You in Cam’s POV releasing on October 22, 2013 and Be With Me which features Jase and Teresa from Wait for You that is releasing on February 4, 2014.

~*~Giveaway~*~

1. 13 years or older
2. One entry per household
3. Open to US only
4. Any cheaters will be disqualified from any or all giveaways
5. The winner has 24 hours to respond before a new winner is chosen
6. Giveaway ends at midnight on June 22nd 


~*~JLA's Books~*~

The Lux Series: ObsidianOnyxOpalOrigin

The Covenant Series: Half-BloodPureDeityApollyon | Sentinel

Wait For You Series: Wait For YouTrust In Me | Be With Me

Nephilim Rising Series: Unchained



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Blogoversary Day 4: Ellen Oh

I'm really proud to call Ellen a friend. She's taught me a lot about myself, authors, and the industry itself. But, really, she taught me that reviewers should never be afraid to speak their mind as long as such a thing is done in a respectful manner. I don't tweet my reviews at authors unless I give them 4.5 to 5 stars. I understand how it can be a put down. But somehow my review of her debut got into her hands and she tweeted me THANKING me for my criticism. This meant a lot to me because while it was a positive review, it did highly criticize several parts of her novel. And she made me realize that authors really do appreciate constructive criticism and take it to heart. She taught me to always speak my mind and not to fear the consequences of hurting someone (as long as such a thing is done so in a respectful manner). She taught me that the honest truth, even if it's not what you want to hear, is appreciated. Which is one of the many reasons that I am eagerly awaiting her sequel.

~*~

Ello is short for Ellen Oh. Transplanted from Brooklyn, NY, I'm a lawyer, a writer, and a college instructor now living near the nations capital. I have three smart, beautiful little girls and an ultra-supportive husband who tells me to write every day so that maybe, one day, I'll actually get a book published. I'm repped by the amazing Joe Monti of Barry Goldblatt Literary. And what do you know, Da Man was right! My first book, Prophecy,Prophecy Series Bk 1, is being published by HarperTeen for release in Winter 2013! Life is very good.

~*~Guest Post on Asian Mythology~*~

One of my strongest memories of being young is reading all about Greek, Roman and Norse mythology, along with practically every fairytale book every printed. I have a special fondness for the Andrew Lang's Fairy Books of Many Colors. I remember rereading the blue, red, yellow and pink books over and over again. I never got tired of them. It wasn’t until I was older that I realized that these books I loved were not very diverse. In fact, it began to dawn on me just how underrepresented my culture was in children’s literature.

This became an issue for me when I had my three girls. Trying to find multi-cultural books became my mission. It was easier in picture books, but as my girls got older, I began to notice that something was missing.

Right around when my first daughter was born, I’d begun what has now become a lifelong love affair with Asian history. I read everything I could about Asia, specifically Korea, and I was fascinated by everything I’d learned. Asian myths and legends are just as fascinating as European ones, but not as well known. For example, there’s the Korean myth of the Kumiho – a nine-tailed fox demon who takes the form of a beautiful woman and lures men into marriage in the hopes that they can become human. But just as the kumiho sees her goal within her grasp, the man becomes aware of her demon nature and she is forced to kill him and eat his heart and liver. Or what about the Japanese kami? A kami is a water sprite monster that has a crater on the top of its head that is filled with water. Kami’s are famous for lurking in pools of water and trying to drown people. But they are known for being so polite that if you bow to them, they will immediately bow back, which spills out the water from their crater heads and renders them immobile. There are still signs in front of some ponds in Japan that say “Beware of the Kami!”

Many myths and legends of Asia are completely unknown in the west. Even my children had no idea of what Asian mythology was like. And this is why I wrote Prophecy. I wrote it for my daughters who loved to sit by my side and hear about all those long ago stories. I wrote it so they could be exposed to a side of their heritage they don’t get to read a lot about. And I wanted them to be able to point to a strong Asian girl hero instead of the smart, quiet, nerdy, Asian side-kick. I wanted to destroy the Asian woman stereotype once and for all and give my daughters their own Katniss or Katsa to root for. Now I say this now, but I actually wrote Prophecy way before Graceling and Hunger Games ever came out. And it is interesting to me that the year my first agent went on editorial submission for Prophecy was the year that Graceling and Hunger Games were both published. I’ve always thought of it as a wonderful coincidence of women authors who were ready to write about strong female heroes. We even all gave them names starting with K for kickass!

I admit that I worried about how people would react to the Asian mythology in my book. When I first tried to get published, I came across so many people who told me that “no one wants to read about ancient Korea” and “these names are too strange and too hard to pronounce, nobody wants to deal with it” and “it’s just too foreign.” I have to admit that it hurt a lot. Because it felt like they were telling me no one cared about my culture. But here’s the thing, like all things in life, these naysayers are not everyone. For every one person who might hate reading a book about another culture, there’s at least one who wants to read it. And that’s who I focused on, my true audience—kids.

Because diversity is such an important issue for me, it was a natural decision to write a book for kids and give them exposure to another culture. And the reaction has been all that I could have hoped for and more. I’ve been overwhelmed at the amazing response I’ve gotten from kids. It made me realize that kids are eager for exposure to new and different things. They aren’t close-minded or hyper-critical. What they want is to be entertained, and if in the process they are exposed to diversity, so much the better! And the more diversity our kids are exposed to, the more we can hope that one day, diversity isn’t something we have to go hunting for. That diversity in literature will become the norm.

~*~Giveaway~*~

1. Both books to one winner
2. Open to US and CA
3. Must be 13 years or older
4. One entry per household
5. Anyone caught cheating will be disqualified from any and all giveaways

6. The winner will have 24 hours to respond to my e-mail or a new winner will be chosen.

Blogoversary Day 3: Sarah Fine

It was a no-brainer for me to invite Sarah to my blogoversary. Sarah's taught me many things, the most important being that author's aren't untouchable, they can be considered friends. And I have to say that Sarah was the first author friend I have ever made, and one that I still communicate with often today. Her debut novel, SANCTUM, is among my favorites ever, and anything written by her is pretty much pure brilliance. Thank you so much for stopping by, Sarah!

~*~

 I'm a child psychologist with an unapologetically empirical orientation. I'm also an author who writes unapologetically fantastical YA fiction. In that venture, I am repped by Kathleen Ortiz of New Leaf Literary and Media. SANCTUM, the first in my YA urban fantasy series, GUARDS OF THE SHADOWLANDS, is available now (Amazon Children's Publishing). FRACTURED, Book 2 in the series, comes out 10/29/13. My co-authored (with Walter Jury) YA thriller, SCAN, comes out in May 2014 (Putnam & Sons/Penguin). FACTORY GHOST, my gothic YA, comes out in summer 2014 (McElderry/Simon & Schuster). I like to stay busy.

~*~Guest Post On Why Her Novels are Darker~*~


Recently, I did a workshop at a writers’ conference, called “Writing the Teen.” In fact, Lili helped me a lot with that talk [THANK YOU, LILI! Also, HAPPY BLOGOVERSARY, LILI!]. During the presentation, I discussed some research about how teens think and used lots of examples from YA books.
At the end of it, someone said, “Hey. All your examples are pretty intense and gritty.”
I looked up at my slideshow. I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga. Enclave by Ann Aguirre. The Marbury Lens by Andrew Smith. That person was completely correct! That’s what I like to read. Dark, scary, full of broken characters.
It’s also what I like to write. Sanctum is the story of a traumatized, wary girl named Lela who gives her all to save the soul of her best friend, but it’s as much about her own redemption as it is about her rescue mission.
I’ve always been drawn to the darker aspects of human experience and the human mind (I am a clinical psychologist, after all), but it’s not about reveling in depressing stuff. What fascinates me is people’s ability to overcome all sorts of heartbreak, miserable luck, abuse, genetic vulnerability, grief … and emerge scarred, sometimes terribly so, but still able to love, and to sacrifice, and to kick ass. 
In Sanctum, nearly every character is like that. They’ve endured terrible tragedies and been completely destroyed, and they’re in the process of putting themselves back together. The setting of the book—a vast, walled city that serves as the afterlife for millions of people who have taken their own lives—is essentially the giant crucible in which they do that. And despite it being a terrible place, there are moments of beauty and hope. I think they’re more startling because they occur in such a dark place, and I believe they’re more satisfying because they happen to characters who haven’t experienced much kindness, who are more shocked by the miracle of a gentle touch than they are by an assault.  
In Fractured, the second book in the series, the setting is completely different. It takes place in Rhode Island! The characters are in high school! They can do things like … go to movies! Parties! PROM! Wheeee! And yet, the process of creating the story was quite similar to Sanctum. I once again found myself looking under rocks, exploring places where people are lost and forgotten and abandoned. I couldn’t help it! Thank goodness there are readers who can love characters with a few scars on their bodies and souls, and who enjoy a bit of grit on the page (and if you are one of those readers, hello. I <3 you)

~*~Giveaway~*~

1. Must be 14 years or older
2. One entry per household
3. All cheaters will be disqualified from any and all giveaways
4. Open to US and CA
5. The winner has 24 hours to respond before I pick a new winner
6. The giveaway ends at midnight on June 22nd

Check out Sarah's books: SanctumFractured | Factory Ghost
 

Blogoversary Day 2: Elizabeth Norris

As I said in my launch post, all authors I asked to contribute to my blogoversary were asked to join because they impacted me greatly. Elizabeth Norris was the first author to ever make me realize that authors and their love of books is equivalent to ours--so much so that they are willing to go above and beyond with their generosity in regards to others. This woman single-handedly donated over 100 books to my charity to help change children's lives, and I have an unlimited amount of respect for her because of it. I'm happy to call her a friend. Thank you so much for stopping by, Elizabeth!

~*~

Elizabeth Norris briefly taught high school English and history before trading the southern California beaches and sunshine for Manhattan's recent snowpocalyptic winter.

She harbors dangerous addictions to guacamole, red velvet cupcakes, sushi, and Argo Tea, fortunately not all together.

Her first novel, UNRAVELING (Balzer+Bray, April 2012), is the story of one girl’s fight to save her family, her world, and the one boy she never saw coming.



~*~Guest Post On Writing a Sequel~*~


One of the questions I’ve gotten most ever since Unbreakable was released is this: 

Which was harder, writing Unraveling or writing Unbreakable?

I don’t even need to hesitate to answer this question. Hands down, Unbreakable was the tougher book to write.

In fact, it was so tough, that during the few months where I was drafting, I referred to it as, “That Stupid Book.” When a friend would invite me to see a movie or hang out or when a colleague would ask what my plans for the weekend were, my response was, “I have to go home and write that stupid book.”


Now, I am prone to exaggeration and melodramatics so it’s possible I didn’t actually feel that terrible about it, but writing a sequel (and a second book) was a very different process for me.

Here’s why:

With Unraveling, I wrote when I felt inspired. The days that I couldn’t stop thinking about the characters, I wrote. I didn’t write in order—I just wrote the scenes that felt like they needed writing.

I also had no pressure. Then writing was a hobby, it was something I did for fun to take my mind off of work. There was no deadline. In fact there was no expectation. Other than the six people in my writing group, I didn’t think anyone was actually going to read it.

With Unbreakable, everything changed. First, it was a sequel. To a book I had envisioned more as a stand alone. I had to come up with a plot from scratch and somehow raise the stakes. I had to stick to a schedule. I had to learn how to force myself to write even if I didn’t feel inspired. I had a deadline looming over me.

And while I was writing, readers were posting early reviews of the first book, and suddenly I had to learn how to handle what people liked and didn’t like about my writing. The glowing reviews were fantastic, but it made writing Unbreakable even harder because I kept worrying about how to “outdo myself and the first book.”

Here’s how I handled it:

1. I outlined. I started with a concept. (to the right).


Then I expanded it into a summary that was about three pages. From there I elaborated until it was over twenty pages, and then I started breaking those plot points into beats—scenes that would turn into chapters. Again I wrote out of order sometimes if I felt more inspired about a later scene in the book.

2. I wrote every day. No matter how tired I was or whether I felt like writing or not, I kept the TV off, I sat down at my kitchen table and I wrote for at least an hour every day. I told myself I need to just get the words out of my head and into a document, that I would be able to throw out and rewrite or revise anything I didn’t like later. I just had to get to the end.

And half the time, 15 or 30 minutes into that hour of writing, I got inspired again. I wasn’t forcing it—in fact, most of those hours turned into two or three hours before I went to bed.

3. I stopped reading reviews. I mean, they’re not really for me anyway. If people tweeted them at me, I told myself I’d read them when Unbreakable was finished. I just wanted to write the best story that I could and stay true to the characters and the plot as I envisioned it. I focused on why I love writing instead of anything else.

Suddenly, the words came more easily. The characters and the worlds and the plot came to life, and I stopped complaining about how hard it was.

Then I finished.

Sure it needed edits and there were things I threw out and rewrote or added and changed, but when I reread Unbreakable for the first time, I realized that this was a book I was proud of, maybe even more proud of than Unraveling. 

And here’s the question people haven’t asked: 
 
Which was more rewarding, the release of Unraveling or the release of Unbreakable?

The truth is, Unbreakable.

I wrote a book that was hard. I spent so much time agonizing over it. I worried a lot about whether it would have higher stakes and not feel like the same story I told in Unraveling. I stressed over whether it would be good enough for fans of my first book. And then I wrote something I didn’t know I had in me, something that I love. 

So when I got the finished copies of Unbreakable and I flipped through it and saw my words staring back at me, I felt giddy and light headed and wonderful all at the same time as the fact that I’m a published author really sank in.  

~*~Giveaway~*~

1. 13 years or older
2. One entry per household
3. Open to US/CA
4. Two winners (1 for each book)
5. Any cheaters will be disqualified from any or all giveaways
6. The winner has 24 hours to respond before a new winner is chosen
7. Giveaway ends at midnight on June 22nd 


Check out Elizabeth's books: Unraveling | Unbreakable