Guest Post: Stefanie Gaither, Author of Into the Abyss

I am super excited to have Stefanie on the blog today, but before we get to the post, feast your eyes on this beautiful cover!

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Series: Fall the Shadows #2
Publication Date: August 30, 2016
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers
Reading Level: Young Adult
Pages: 352
Violet has lost her memory, and her sense of self—but can she decide who she wants to be in time to save the world? Find out in this sequel to Falls the Shadow, which Kirkus Reviews called perfect “for fans of Divergent and The Hunger Games.

Violet Benson used to know who she was: a dead girl’s clone, with a dead girl’s memories. But after Huxley’s attempt to take over the government left her memories and personality wiped, all she has left is a mission: help the CCA fight back against the rest of Huxley’s deadly clones that are still at large.

But when a group of clones infiltrate CCA headquarters, Violet is blamed. Already unsure of where her loyalties should lie, Violet finds herself running away with an unlikely ally: Seth, Jaxon’s unpredictable foster brother. With Seth at her side, Violet begins to learn about a whole new side of her city’s history—and her own.

But when she learns the shocking truth about cloning, Violet will have to make a choice—and it may be one that takes her away from everyone she ever loved.
~*~Stefanie's Thoughts About Characters~*~
There’s that old saying when it comes to writing: Write what you know. And in a lot of ways, I took that advice when writing my debut novel, Falls the Shadow. Catelyn (the protagonist of that story) and I have a lot in common; from small things, like our love of theatre, to the big things, like personality traits and how we handled losing part of our family at a young age, and then watching that family rearrange itself in the days that followed. In my case, the rearranging was the addition of a regular stepsister (not a clone, as far as I know!)—but still, I felt I could relate to Catelyn’s situation because I had dealt with major loss and change the way she had. So it was relatively easy to get into her head, to understand where she was coming from with her decisions and actions, and then it was just a matter of translating them to the page. There weren’t a whole lot of surprises for me when writing her. And then I decided that book two had to be from Violet’s—the cloned sister’s—perspective, and things got considerably trickier.

Not only is Violet a clone, but she’s a clone with a complicated history. A history of being unpredictable. A bit unstable. Then, to further complicate things, she wakes up at the beginning of Into the Abyss with no memory of that problematic history of hers still intact. She is essentially a blank slate. At first, all she has is her computer of a brain, which gives her facts and figures, but little else to help her fit in with all of the ‘normal’ humans she finds herself surrounded by.

This ‘newly-awake Violet’ was probably the most difficult part to write, because she was detached, cold, and calculating in nearly every sense. Keeping this part of her character consistent (and believable, given her background), while also making her someone that readers would connect with, was no simple task. Heck, I had a hard time completely understanding her during the first few drafts—because for a long time she was to me who she was to Catelyn in Falls the Shadow: an interesting character who I loved very much, of course I did, but who was also incredibly frustrating and who I kind of wanted to smack sometimes.

As the book progressed, though, a different side of Violet began to reveal itself. She had fears and needs and desires too, however deeply they might have been buried beneath her cold exterior, and digging them up was a process in and of itself—one I could almost feel her resisting, because that’s just the sort of character she is.

Even as I managed to understand her better, though, she still kept me guessing all the way until the end about a lot of things. In general, it was a much different process than writing Falls because I had to stop and think about nearly every decision Violet made and try to understand it. I was constantly asking myself: Did I get it right? Was it believable from a clone’s perspective? Was it believable from the perspective of someone who was essentially starting a completely new, blank-slate life at age eighteen? Was it believable from the perspective and personality of the ‘Old Violet’, parts of whom were slowly resurfacing as she learned bits and pieces of her lost past? Then, of course, there were the decisions she made that just sort of wrote themselves—things I didn’t see coming, even though I knew how unpredictable she could be. 

In the end, though, both protagonists were driven by those very human things I mentioned above. Fear, love, a desire to belong, that sort of thing—so, clone or human, I still found similar ways to connect to them, and hopefully readers will do the same!

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This post was so fascinating! Humans are obviously easy to relate to, but clones are a different arena. To build such a complex character that can be related to is an amazing feat! Thank you for stopping by, Stefanie!

Blog Tour: Beast by Brie Spangler

Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: October 11, 2016
Age Level: Young Adult
Pages: 305 (ARC)
Source: From Publisher For Review
Tall, meaty, muscle-bound, and hairier than most throw rugs, Dylan doesn’t look like your average fifteen-year-old, so, naturally, high school has not been kind to him. To make matters worse, on the day his school bans hats (his preferred camouflage), Dylan goes up on his roof only to fall and wake up in the hospital with a broken leg—and a mandate to attend group therapy for self-harmers.

Dylan vows to say nothing and zones out at therapy—until he meets Jamie. She’s funny, smart, and so stunning, even his womanizing best friend, JP, would be jealous. She’s also the first person to ever call Dylan out on his self-pitying and superficiality. As Jamie’s humanity and wisdom begin to rub off on Dylan, they become more than just friends. But there is something Dylan doesn’t know about Jamie, something she shared with the group the day he wasn’t listening. Something that shouldn’t change a thing. She is who she’s always been—an amazing photographer and devoted friend, who also happens to be transgender. But will Dylan see it that way?

~*~Lili's Reflections~*~

When I was first invited to be part of this tour, I jumped at the chance because I love me a good retelling. Diversify it with the LGBTQ community and I knew I'd enjoy this book. Happily, I admit that I am very well satisfied.

What makes this book is the characterization. Let's start with Dylan. Dylan is a very intelligent young man that is abnormally large--so large that he may have gigantism. He's the school thug, rattling people who steal money from his best friend, who he's really only friends with because of the popularity that comes with it. Girls aren't interested in him because he's hairy and a bit scary, and he refuses to bow to stereotypes people like him are put into--like playing football (even though he secretly loves it). When he falls off his roof and breaks his leg, causing people to think he may have been attempting to take his own life, he is put into group therapy where he meets Jamie.

Jamie is trans, though Dylan doesn't realize it for a long time. She enjoys taking pictures and finding the beauty in everything. She will always stand up for herself, even if those around her do not support her, and she just wants to be loved for who she is. Jamie is a beautiful character that is aware of the realities of being trans, but does not allow them to ruin the life that she is choosing to live.

Dylan and Jamie embark on a very sweet romance that is quickly brought to a standstill when Dylan realizes Jamie is trans. He freaks out, and even seems slightly disgusted because he was so surprising. It was a terrible response, but it seemed natural. The beauty of their relationship is that Dylan respects Jamie as a person so much he grows to just accept Jamie as female and comes to terms with the fact that he is just a boy that likes a girl. This is something I respect so much.

Along the way there is the exploration of crappy best friends--I am choosing not to go into a lot of detail because I hated Dylan's best friend and could rant about it for days. Transphobia, bullying, peer pressure, and learning to love yourself are also themes explored in the novel. It's all around really solid and enjoyable, my one complaint being that, at times, it seemed a bit too childish for high school students.

Read this Beauty and the Beast retelling featuring a transgender main character. It is utterly enjoyable with endearing characters I want only the best for.

4 stars

~*~Links~*~

FTC Disclaimer: I received no compensation of any kind in exchange for my honest review.

Top Ten Books on my Fall TBR

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

Another season...another group of killer books to look forward to!

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1. Heartless by Marissa Meyer- I think this one is self-explanatory.
2. Caraval by Stephanie Garber- This is a Lili book if I've ever seen one.
3. Holding Up The Universe by Jennifer Niven- Although I haven't read Niven's debut yet, I am so excited to be on the huge blog tour for this one!

4. The Goal by Elle Kennedy- I am so ready for the last book in this series! That cover is something to look at for sure. ;)
5. The Edge of Everything by Jeff Giles- Bounty hunting in YA? What? Yes please!

6. Glitter by Aprilynne Pike- I have read everything Pike has written since her Wings series and I plan on staying true to that!
7. The Sun Is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon- Yoon's debut rocked my world and I am so psyched for the movie adaptation of it, so I have high expectations for her sophomore novel.
8. History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera- It's Adam! I don't think I really need to say anything else.

9. Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter- Russian fairytale retellings? SIGN ME THE HECK UP! Plus, it helps that I've encountered the author in office and she's amazingly kind.
10. Nowhere Near You by Leah Thomas- Thomas's debut flew under the radar, but was one of my favorite books ever. I can't wait to read her sophomore novel!

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Are you as excited to read any of these as I am? Leave your TTT posts below so I can add more books to my TBR! As always, every comment is appreciated. <3

Stacking the Shelves #119

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

This has been a great week for me because I got the rest of my trades in and a few surprises!

For Review From Publicist (Thank you!)
The Goal by Elle Kennedy

From Bloomsbury for Review (Thank you!)
The Secrets of Wishtide by Kate Saunders 

Gifted From Friend (Thank you!)
You Know Me Well by David Levithan and Nina LaCour

 Trades (Thank you everyone!)
 Bright Smoke, Cold Fire by Rosammund Hodge
The Reader by Traci Chee
Captive Prince by CS Pacat
The Crown's Game by Evelyn Skye

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Have you read any of these? What were your thoughts? Comment below with them!

I need YOUR help with my Honors Thesis!!!!



Hello, everyone!

If you've followed me for a while, you may have noticed that here and there I've been dropping hints about my Honors Thesis for Pace University. At my college, every Honors student is required to complete a thesis in order to graduate with honors. As an English major, I had two options: I could write a creative piece or do a research paper on a topic of my choosing. I chose the research paper because, yikes, I am no writer.

And what is that topic, you may ask?

Public Perception of Young Adult Literature

I'm not going to say anymore on the topic as I do not want to influence responses. I will say that all opinions are welcome, and I'm sure that this is something we all have an opinion about!

So, how can you help with my thesis? That's simple...answer a survey! A large portion of my actual thesis will be the analysis of survey results because my thesis is dealing with public perception, after all.

A few things I'd like to make clear before I give you the link:
  • This is an anonymous survey. I never once ask for your name, income, or any other very personal details aside from your gender and age. I will know you by nothing more than a respondent number, and if I quote you directly in my thesis it will go something like, "Respondent 74 believes..."
  • The first step of the survey is to indicate your age to take you to a proper consent form. Because this survey is for the general public, including minors, I had to create consent forms for adults and minors because it has the potential to be published and is required by the IRB board. After agreeing to the form, the survey's second part will build a simple profile of you (gender, age, industry, education level) and then the final part is all about reading habits and opinions about reading habits.
  • As of now, I DO NOT plan on publishing my thesis. This is for personal reasons, though we never know what the future holds.
  • This survey is for the general public. If you know anyone who has thoughts about young adult literature, be they good or bad, please take the link and share it with them! I am using my blog purely as a launching point. In fact, I'd love as many non-blogger responses as I can get to keep things as relevant to the general public as possible. 
  • As I am predicting most respondents to be above the age of 18, if you are a parent or guardian of a minor, please consider also giving them permission to take the survey as they are the "traditional" age range of young adult literature!
  • The survey is about 20 questions long and should take no more than 10 minutes.
  • ALL OPINIONS ARE WELCOME! This is a judgment free zone because, to be honest, I want the brutal truth. That's what will make my thesis most interesting and the results less skewed. 
Alright, I think that's everything. If you have any questions, please comment or tweet me or shoot an email to lf88358p@pace.edu.

An advance thank you for taking the time out of your day to help me with this exploration. I think it's going to be really interesting!

Throwing it Back with Music

While in London, there was a night where my fellow American friends and I took it upon ourselves to introduce our new European friends to all the music that made our childhood's so amazing. It was interesting just because a lot of music didn't make it across the bomb when we were freaking out about it in nostalgia. I mean, Sk8er Boi, anyone?!

Recently, while reminiscing with those friends, we started talking about this topic (and the craziness that later ensued that night) again. The nostalgia is real. So real, in fact, that I made a small compilation of some of these songs because I couldn't resist. Part of the reason we miss them is because the bands just aren't around anymore, you know? We don't really miss those that are still killin' the game. haha

Anyone else having major flash backs right now? Anyone else cringing while they look at all the outfits in these videos?


1. Just The Girl by The Click Five
I was just the girl they were looking for, obviously.

2. Fireflies by Owl City
I loved this song for being so weird, then I saw him live at a Z100 concert and he creeped me out after that.

3. Girl Next Door by Saving Jane
Guys. This is the original "You Belong With Me" and Taylor Swift totally took some inspo from this masterpiece.

4. Lips of an Angel by Hinder
We were all such rebels for loving this band and having no idea what this song was about, and then we started freaking out when Kellan Lutz was in one of their music videos because Twilight.

5. Bad Day by Daniel Powter
Doesn't this still apply today though?

6. Shake It by Metro Station 
Let's be real, we loved it because it was Miley Cyrus's and Mitchell Musso's older brothers and Hannah Montana was amazing and their hair was terrible.

7. Who Let The Dogs Out by The Baha Men
All I can remember is vacationing in the Bahamas and my sister asking every gift shop why they didn't carry this CD.

8. Collide - Howie Day
Remember, even the best fall down sometimes.

9. The Ketchup Song by Las Ketchup
We couldn't understand a single world and loved every minute of it. Is this song about ketchup? I actually just learned this title when I was googling "je ja hebe jebe" trying to figure out what it was. I have no idea how that worked, tbh.

10. Absolutely (Story of a Girl) by Nine Days
Not gonna lie, this song is still in my iTunes.

11. Stacey's Mom by Fountains of Wayne
Do I really need to say anything about this one? It couldn't not be on this list.

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Sorry not sorry that I had way too much fun putting together this post because I had nothing else to do. I am just taking a serious stroll down memory lane right now, people! What are some of your favorite musical throwbacks?

Stacking the Shelves #118

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

This has been a crazy two weeks and I am all over it. I recently did a major shelf purge, thus inspiring me to do a few trades to complete some series on my shelves that were previously incomplete. Lots and lots and lots of books.

Gifted From a Friend
Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas

From Penguin Random House as Part of Blog Tour
The Twits by Roald Dahl 
 
Bought with a Gift Card from B&N
My Lady Jane by Brodi Ashton, Cynthia Hand, and Jodi Meadows
The Problem with Forever by Jennifer L. Armentrout
PS I Like You by Kasie West

Traded on #BooksForTrade (Thank you, everyone!)
PS I Still Love You by Jenny Han
Into the Still Blue by Veronica Rossi
Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare
Breathe, Annie, Breathe by Miranda Kenneally
Things I Can't Forget by Miranda Kenneally
Defending Taylor by Miranda Kenneally
The Mirror King by Jodi Meadows
A Darkness Strange and Lovely by Susan Dennard
The Winner's Kiss by Marie Rutkoski
The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson
Prince's Gambit by C.S. Pacat
Kings Rising by C.S. Pacat
Never Never by Colleen Hoover and Tarryn Fisher
The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater
Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater

Bought for School
To the Lighthouse by Virgina Woolf
To be honest, I am not looking forward to reading this one. 

 
Taken from Work
Game of Shadows by Erika Lewis

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I've hadded a lot to my shelves this week. Have you read any of these? I have LOVED some, I look forward to loving others, and in the case of Virginia Woolf, I see myself slogging through it ever so slowly. But that's what school reading is for anyway? Ack

The Intern Diaries: A Bad Case of the Fangirls


After my first internship at a literary agency, I put together a free-flowing post about what I learned and my audience really enjoyed it! Well, now that I am on what is technically internship #8, I want to do the same thing as I go, but share it with my readers since I'm quickly discovering that many of you aspire to do the same thing that I am doing now! This post series is sporadic whenever I think something is relatively interesting!

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HELLLOOOOOOO! It's been a while since I've done one of these. Almost a year, actually. I ended this series saying my goodbye to Penguin back in December 2015. Since I've studied abroad in the Spring, I didn't even start working again until this summer. Now that things have finally calmed down, I thought it was time to re-introduce this series. Also because someone recently asked about it, and it's an awesome feeling to know someone wants to read your posts.

Anywho, one of the hardest part of interning, I've noticed, is holding in a bad case of the fangirls. Authors are people, too, and when they're visiting the office they expect a level of professionalism to go with it. That's fine and all, but inside I'm just squeeing in excitement. I'm sure that as a full-time salaried employee you're reaction is different because you communicate with your authors on a consistent basis, but for a general reader who happens to find herself in a publishing house, this is a crazy fun opportunity that makes you just want to freak out in excitement.

Growing up I perceived authors as untouchable. It took entering the blogging community, interacting with authors on social media, and even realizing a New York Times bestseller lives in my hometown to realize they're everyday people. It's hard to reconcile that with the fact that these everyday people write stories that blow my mind, entertain me to no end, and, in some instances, change my life. With this in mind, it's natural to want to fangirl. Hardcore. Even if you can't. 


I've learned to just fangirl on the inside and have normal conversations with authors as I get to know them.

There are times, however, where it's hard to hold it in because I wasn't expecting the author to come. One of the publicist's can attest to my shock when my mouth dropped as I watched Victoria Schwab wander by my office one random day. To everyone else it was just another day in the office.

And though that sounds really crazy to me in the moment because I was so excited, it's something to look forward to. Being able to create a professional partnership/friendship where you can tell your authors how much you enjoyed their books without squeeing like a child because it becomes routine. 

I remember telling one of my older bosses just how excited I was to be acknowledged in two books, to which she said it's an amazing feeling even when you become acknowledged in many. I went on to say I keep every book I am acknowledged in, to which she responded she could never do that because she'd have no room on her shelves. 


It's a sobering thought.

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Now that this meme is resurrected from the dead, do you have any thoughts on what you'd like to see talked about here? Thoughts and questions are always welcome!