Odds & Ends: A Little Hiatus and Other Things

Hi friends!! A few things:

 

1. As of today I’ll be away for the Book Expo of America in NYC. It’s my 5th year going (this year was a super last minute decision bc $$ and things) and it’s always a great time! The blog will be on a hiatus from now and until probably Monday?

If you are at BEA:

Say hi if you see me!! I want to meet y’all! The saddest thing about BEA is seeing someone whizzing past you headed for a line and never getting to say hi! I promise I will say hi…even if I’m speed walking to get somewhere. We can do an awkward hug even! I apologize in advance if you see me and I seem frazzled. The floor is overwhelming and my face probably looks bitchy.  3 places you will definitely be able to find me: the Truthwitch line, the Passenger line and the Six of Crows line. Here’s some of the other books I’m excited about and hope to get while at BEA. I pretty much look like my pictures that I’ve put on this blog — the only thing that may be tricky is you never know if I’ll wear my hair curly or straight!

2015-02-28 08.38.26-1

From the looks of the weather (hot, rain, humidity) it will just look straight up like a monstrous frizzball. Think that episode of Monica with her hair on Friends.

monica_humidity

If you aren’t going to BEA:

If you are interested I will be chronicling my trip on Twitter and & Instagram.

If you are looking for a recommendation while I’m not around, here are some of my favorite books that came out this year so far — this, this, this, this & this.

2. HOLY GIVEAWAYS, GUYS. I think I have more giveaways running in the past week or 2 than I have in a year of blogging. Easy to enter so check them out!

Throne of Glass Litographs giveaway
Saint Anything giveaway
The Summer of Chasing Mermaids giveaway
Every Last Word Giveaway

Exclusive Sneak Peek Of The Summer of Chasing Mermaids + Giveaway

I LOVE Sarah Ockler, you guys. Twenty Boy Summer and The Book of Broken Hearts are two of my favorite contemporary novels! She’s just so fantastic. I’ve been SUPER excited about her upcoming release, The Summer of Chasing Mermaids, and am ridiculously excited to partner up with Simon & Schuster to give you a sneak peek at the first two chapters for your reading pleasure! ENJOY!!

The Summer of Chasing Mermaids

(For ease in scrolling put your mouse in the text area and then scroll down)

The Beginning and the End

This is the part where I die.

Don’t panic; it isn’t unexpected. The sea is prideful, after all, and Death never goes back on a deal.
Granna always believed that the d’Abreau sisters were immortal, even after her daughter-in-law died delivering the last of us (me). But among our six bodies, she said, there were only five souls. Twins were special. A single soul dwelling in two bodies.

So Natalie and I—the twins, the babies—were blessed. Blessed by all who loved us. Blessed by the godsand goddesses, by the lore and the legends of Trinidad and Tobago, our islands in the sea.

Our connection was unbreakable, and from the first time we sang together in the bathtub, instinctively harmonizing at age three? Well. We were bright stars, Granna promised. Put on this earth to make music, to share it with the world. No matter that Natalie grew into a soft-spoken beauty with a voice as comforting as a warm breeze, and I became the raging storm, fearsome and bewitching. Our destiny tangled as our limbs in our mother’s womb. We were the first to know each other, the first to feel our matching heartbeats. Together, we made magic.

Two bodies, four lungs, one soul.
The beginning and the end. Completion.

Natalie and I sang for Granna and our father. We sang for our older sisters. We sang at Scarborough in Tobago, for fund-raisers and festivals. We sang in Trinidad, our mother’s homeland. We sang for the guests—always rich, often famous—at d’Abreau Cocoa Estates, Granna’s farm and eco-resort, the place we’d called home after my mother’s death. We sang for the men and women who harvested the cocoa pods, who came in for dinner covered in dirt and laughter, eager to listen. During Carnival we sang on top of the big music trucks that traveled through the streets of Port of Spain, as masqueraders jumped up around us dressed like angels and princesses and mermaids. We sang for home, Trinidad and Tobago, twin-island nation, the proud red, black, and white. For our mother’s memory—though for Natalie and me, she never existed.

We sang for fun. For our lives.
That’s what it felt like, the music. Like being alive.

So maybe I was a liar, and maybe I should’ve told her years ago, but I didn’t. Granna, I mean. It’s just that she was wrong about completion, so wrong about the connection and the stars.

The thing about souls was that Natalie really did have her own, like each of our four older sisters.
And mine belonged to the sea. Always.

I was born into the sea, born knowing this. Natalie had been born on the boat, but by the time my turn came, we’d been tipped. My first breath outside my mother’s body was salt water; the Caribbean Sea lay claim to my soul the moment it took hers.

I’ve never considered this soul more than a loaner, a broken-winged bird I’ve only nursed and borrowed. Granna might not believe it, but eventually, I knew I’d be called upon to return it.

One night last spring, just after Carnival, the moonlight sparkled on the waves not far from where our mother had delivered me, her last, and I came so, so, so close.

Then I escaped.
For a time.

Even a fool knows you don’t cheat Death more than once. And technically, after my watery birth, that night last spring already made it twice.

There’s peace in acceptance. Death in it, always. Inevitable. With the acceptance of one thing comes the dying of another: a new belief, a relationship. An ideal, a plan, a what-if. Assumptions. A path. A song.

Consider: Pregnancy dies upon birth. Plans die upon action. Dreams die upon waking.

Not to ruin the story, but if you’ve come this far, you should know how it happens.
The end begins, as all things must, in the water. Now.
Ropes of black hair twist before my eyes, swaying like reeds. One by one, red clips loosen from the braids, tiny jeweled starfish that
drip-drip-drop
into the deep.

My body is sinking, sinking, sinking. Cold . . . And a memory stirs. The warm sea pressing against me, leaking into my lungs. Stealing my voice.

No, wait. . . . That was then. The spring. That last time, when I came so, so close. Then was the Caribbean, my Caribbean. Now is the Pacific, and though it’s late summer here, the Pacific isn’t as patient, isn’t as warm. My limbs will soon turn as blue-blue-blue as my silk dress.

It’s midnight now, the in-between, and the only person who knows where I am is asleep above, in the berth of our boat, the Queen of Cups. He was dreaming when I left; I knew from his sleep sounds. Beautiful, he was, stretched out alone where moments earlier we’d been entwined.
When he realizes I’m gone, he’ll search the water, dive beneath the boat. Frantic. Desperate. But he won’t reach me.

There’s blood in my mouth now, blood in the water, black-not-red at these dark depths. My lungs burn.
I’m ready.

But as my heartbeat stalls, as my limbs give their final tremble, as all around me turns to darkness, I can’t help but wonder…

If the sea had offered me one last chance—if I could’ve bargained with Death to make this broken wing mine, a soul with all its beautiful imperfections—would I have taken it?

Even after everything I’d lost?

Chapter 1

After spending the day in Aunt Lemon’s gift shop with a sticky note in the shape of a crab stuck to my boomsie (and no one even told me until after I’d escorted a pair of surfers to our collection of mermaid dashboard ornaments, and then my cousin Kirby sent me the picture, all, u got crabs!), I decided a little alone time was in order.

If not for the crab incident, I probably would’ve just gone to Lemon’s Summer Solstice party tonight like I’d promised. Instead, I was slithering around the Chelsea Marina docks, hoping to reach my boat before Kirby ensnared me in her net.

“Elyse!” Kirby shouted. “The party’s starting!” In a gauzy white dress and fitted denim jacket, she stood like a beacon in the sand, hands cupped around her mouth. Her voice skipped across the waves. “Where are you? Elyse!”

She wasn’t my blood cousin—Her mother, Lemon, was Dad’s  best friend, all the way back from their graduate-school days in Miami—and before this summer I’d only seen Kirby twice: the first time five years ago when they’d visited the islands, and then again a year later when our two families met up at Disneyland, my first visit to America.

But I’d been in Oregon a month already now, living in her house, our toothbrushes cohabitating in the zebra cup in the bathroom, and still she couldn’t get my name right. Uh-leese, it was like.
Close enough, maybe. It just didn’t sound-feel-comfort like home.

Sing for us, Ay-leese. . . .
Ay-leese, stop drowning yourself in hot sauce. Give it to me!
Granna, you hear? Our Ay-leese, she got a boyfriend.
Ay-leese, breathe! Fucking breathe, Ay-leese. . . .

“But it’s the Solstice! And there’s . . . cake?” Kirby’s voice lacked conviction. She’d been searching the edges of the marina for twenty -minutes, and I felt a little thrill that she hadn’t found me.

Unseen in the shadows, I crept to the slip that held the old Albin Vega—last place on earth she’d check, since from a strictly “ownership” perspective the boat wasn’t mine. I waited until Kirby finally retreated, white dress vanishing like a sail in the mist, and then I climbed onto the deck and ducked through the companionway into the saloon.

Freedom.

For a holiday that was supposed to, according to Aunt Lemon, “honor the full strength of the Sun God,” the Oregon night was a bruise. I took in the blackness that seeped into the boat, the salty air, the mustiness that clung to torn seat cushions.

But for the damp suck of the sea, all was soundless.

The Vega rocked gently in the tumult, steadying herself, and my view of the sky—pink-purple-black through the starboard window—straightened.

Tipped.
Straightened again.

The ship was a castaway among the polished vessels surrounding us, a forgotten relic here in Atargatis Cove. I didn’t even know her proper name. Queen of was all it said on the hull, once-gold letters peeling from the aqua-blue fiberglass. Could’ve been the Queen of Hearts or the Queen of the Damned for all I knew. But there was something special about that emptiness,
the unknown,
the unsaid.
Potential undefined.
She was abandoned, a fate we shared, which made her the perfect hideaway.

The boat jostled as a wave hit, and I took a deep breath, fought a shiver. The sea can’t hurt me here…I repeated the mantra in my head until fear left my limbs. Until I could breathe again.

I lit the big candle I’d brought from Mermaid Tears—Lemon’s shop—to chase away the mustiness. OCEAN BREEZE, it said. It smelled like chemically enhanced coconut.

Soft yellow light flickered into the saloon.

Everything was as I’d left it. Straightened up, wiped down, cans of expired soup discarded. A fuzzy new blanket spread out in the V-berth, and another on top, for curling up. Scattered on the cushions, a few books Kirby had brought me from her volunteer job at the library. Some extra clothes, flip-flops, sunglasses I never seemed to need here in Oregon. My iPod. A box of crackers with the peanut butter already spread between them. A bundle of Sharpies, rubberbanded together, different thicknesses.
My shoulders relaxed. The Vega was still unclaimed.

I freed a mass of black curls from beneath the hood of my sweatshirt, and from a pocket in my denim cutoffs, fished out a handful of sea glass. Lemon was looking out for me this summer, so in addition to helping at Mermaid Tears, I tagged along on her morning beach combs. She collected glass to forge into sculptures, some for sale in the gift shop and others on display in the gallery above it. She valued each piece of glass like a gemstone, but she always let me keep some of the haul. I’d been saving it in an empty Costco jar that formerly contained a decade’s supply of pitted olives—my hourglass. Once the glass reached the top, things would be right again.

Repaired, renewed, recovered.
Rejuvenated.
Restored.
All the REs complete, and I’d be whole.
Fucking breathe, Ay-leese. . . .

My hand tipped into the jar, and I watched the colored bits clink and settle among the others, an inch of green-gray-blue rising like the tide.

Whole.

I didn’t really believe it, but it sounded nice, like a poem. Even if it were possible, what then? Where would I go? Not back. Not forward. I was here, drifting on the current, eighteen years old and totally unmoored.

I pushed the jar back along a shelf in the triangular V-berth, way at the front of the boat, and settled into my favorite spot. My iPod still had a little charge, so I popped in an earbud and scrolled to a new playlist. Lemon had plenty of instrumental on her laptop—Native American wood flutes, classical, wind chimes, dolphin calls, ambient weirdness. On my first night in the States I’d desperately replaced my soca and calypso with it, erased even the reggae—anything that reminded me of home. Of who I should have been. Tonight I was onto Bach’s unaccompanied cello suites, track one. Music hummed in my right ear as I cranked the volume, but I wasn’t fool enough to sit alone on a boat with both ears covered.

A calm ocean could change in an instant.
Sing for us, Ay-leese. . . .

By the time my screen read “Suite No. 4 in E-flat Major,” my heart rate finally mellowed, and I grabbed a Sharpie from the bundle. I found a clear spot among the tangle of words overhead—some nights my notebook wasn’t big enough—and pressed the tip to the low ceiling.

Words spin and spill
ink from a bottle of blood

Queen of lurched left, a game we nightly played, and I tightened my grip on the marker, waiting for her to settle. She perpetually lost. Her body was inked with the evidence.

A smudge, a smear, a shaky line of
black letters stands erect, marches
around my fingers, encouraging,

Back on the island of Tobago, 7,040 kilometers—no, make that 4,375 miles—off the coast of my heartbeat, Dad and Granna had an old Albin Vega in the resort fleet, the Atlantica, a twenty-seven footer like this, one of three boats reserved for our guest charters. They’d taken the fourth out of commission in March, part of a long string of before-and-after afters that ended with me leaving for the States, but as far as I knew, the Atlantica was still going strong. It was the ship my twin sister Natalie had been born on. The one I’d been born next to.

The last thing my mother saw.
It was a dark and stormy night, our birth story. So they say.

inspiring,
yet ever

Now, out here on these chilly summer nights, the pale scar of the moon cutting the Oregon haze, I wondered if Dad was out on the Vega too. Lying in the V-berth, staring at the same moon, thinking of me as I thought of him. Of my sisters and Granna. The cocoa pods, red-orange-yellow, stacked in pyramids after first harvest, spicing the air with their intoxicating plums-and-tobacco scent.

Home.
Do you miss me?

soundless.

“Keep your skirt on! Let me check it out, make sure she won’t sink.” A male voice accompanied shadows through the companionway and into the saloon. The boat bobbed under new weight, and I yanked out my earbud and bolted upright, narrowly avoiding a head injury.

His image flickered in the candlelight. When he spotted me, he put one hand on his head, as if he’d anticipated the crash that never came, and said in a tone much softer than what he’d used on his friend, “Well. Hello there.”

Unlike me, he was unalarmed, the ghost of a smile hovering on his lips. Something softened him around the edges—alcohol, probably—but his gaze was sharp and clear.

Toes to curls, a shiver shook me. This boy wore the ocean in his eyes, green-gray-blue, ever shifting, and I recognized him immediately. Knew before he said another word that he was as dangerous as he was beautiful.

Christian Kane. Official summer scoundrel of Atargatis Cove, fresh off his first year at Stanford. Aside from the upcoming Mermaid Festival and Pirate Regatta, the Kane family’s annual return was the talk of the town. And this son, the eldest? Kirby had him to thank for the cake tonight.

Christian Kane had his own mythology, his own devoted following, much like Lemon’s Sun God. Fitting that they shared a birthday.

I was frozen on the blanketed cushions as he scanned the scene: writing on the fiberglass walls and ceiling, damning black marker still clutched in my fingers. Somewhere beneath my elbow, two battered novels about the sea, ancient legends retold. A half-empty can of Coke on the shelf behind my head. A postcard from home, blank, tacked up on the wall. The yawning jar of sea glass, there next to the soda. Nautical charts and manuals once scattered throughout the saloon, now stacked neatly on the table beside the candle, held in place with a large rock carried in first by the tide, second by me.

This ship had belonged to no one. I’d been so certain. And rickety and neglected as she was, I’d called her my home away from my home away from home, my sacred space. Now Christian’s gaze swept back to me and skimmed the unfamiliar legs stretched across the V-berth, brown skin made lavender by the moonlight.

When he finally looked at me full on, his stormy eyes changed course.

Confusion.
Surprise.
Intrigue.

The last was the most worrisome.

I tugged the hood up over my head, tied the strings across my seashell necklace and the scar gouged into the hollow of my throat.

Breathe. . . .

“Christian?” someone said, flirty and singsong. The breeze shifted, carrying a whiff of spicy vanilla perfume, and a girl crashed into him from behind. Her silver-tipped talons curled over his shoulders.“What’s the deal? I’m freezin’ my ass off.”
Christian didn’t take his eyes off me, just raised a curious eyebrow that lit a spark in my chest.
The girlfriend noticed me then, and around a faint smile, still watching me, Christian spoke plainly.
“There’s a girl writing on my boat.”
I basically ran.

 

Oh man, such a tease, right?? Don’t worry…it’s out June 2 from Simon Pulse so not too much longer of a wait!! And for one of you lucky readers…you are going to win the copy I’m giving away, thanks to Simon & Schuster.

Giveaway

One lucky winner will win a finished copy of The Summer of Chasing Mermaids.

* Open to use US addresses only
* You must be 13 years or older to enter.
* Winner will be contacted via email and has 72 hours to respond or I will draw another winner.

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway Time!

Hello lovelies! I’m super excited to be able to offer this giveaway as it was on my list of 18 anticipated novels for 2015! The title is Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone and it’s a contemporary YA about a popular girl with OCD who fights really, really hard to hide it and whose life changes when she attends a secret poetry club. It’s coming up soon on my reading list and, thanks to Disney, I’m able to offer one lucky reader a copy!

If this one isn’t on your radar, check out the official summary:

Every Last Word Tamara Ireland stone

If you could read my mind, you wouldn’t be smiling.

Samantha McAllister looks just like the rest of the popular girls in her junior class. But hidden beneath the straightened hair and expertly applied makeup is a secret that her friends would never understand: Sam has Purely-Obsessional OCD and is consumed by a stream of dark thoughts and worries that she can’t turn off.

Second-guessing every move, thought, and word makes daily life a struggle, and it doesn’t help that her lifelong friends will turn toxic at the first sign of a wrong outfit, wrong lunch, or wrong crush. Yet Sam knows she’d be truly crazy to leave the protection of the most popular girls in school. So when Sam meets Caroline, she has to keep her new friend with a refreshing sense of humor and no style a secret, right up there with Sam’s weekly visits to her psychiatrist.

Caroline introduces Sam to Poet’s Corner, a hidden room and a tight-knit group of misfits who have been ignored by the school at large. Sam is drawn to them immediately, especially a guitar-playing guy with a talent for verse, and starts to discover a whole new side of herself. Slowly, she begins to feel more “normal” than she ever has as part of the popular crowd . . . until she finds a new reason to question her sanity and all she holds dear.

 

 About The Author

 

AuthorTamaraIrelandStone

Tamara Ireland Stone (www.TamaraIrelandStone.com) is the author of Time After Time and Time Between Us, which Melissa Marr praised as a “beautifully written, unique love story,” and has been published in over twenty countries. A former Silicon Valley marketing executive, Tamara enjoys skiing, hiking, and spending time with her husband and two children. She lives just outside of San Francisco.

READ AN EXCERPT

http://un-requiredreading.com/books/every-last-word

LEARN MORE

Learn more on HyperionTeens.com

Follow Disney-Hyperion on Twitter and Tumblr

Follow Tamara Ireland Stone on Twitter and Tumblr

#EveryLastWord

 Giveaway

WordsThroughTime

Prize:

One (1) winner receives the complete Tamara Ireland Stone collection:

  ~A copy of Every Last Word;

~Plus copies of Time Between Us and Time After Time.

 

Guidelines to enter:

Giveaway open to US addresses only.

 Prizing and samples provided by Disney Hyperion.
You must be 13 years or older to enter.
Winner will be contacted via email and has 72 hours to respond before a new winner is picked.

Please fill out the Rafflecopter below to enter.

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What I’ve Been Audiobooking Lately

I used to do audiobooks all the time (exhibit A) but then I stopped. Mostly it was due to the fact that I changed workouts and couldn’t listen to audiobooks anymore while doing it and also just having this feeling like I’d rather listen to music all the time. But I have found my way back to audiobooks when I feel like it in the second half of April and May I finished 3 audiobooks.

Also, side note THANK YOU SO MUCH for all your amazing recommendations in the comments of this post. I’m STILL going through them all and adding to my list! THANK YOU THANK YOU!

 

First up I did a reread of one of my favorite books:

If I Stay by Gayle Forman

I had been wanting to reread If I Stay for a while (it’s been YEARS since the first time I read it) so audio was the perfect way to get to it. It was a really solid audio performance. Really solid narrator. I will say I’m glad that I READ the book first as a physical book because I think I was way more connected to that. But as a REREAD…the audio was great. It was nice to revisit a story I know so well as a favorite but also experience all these details you’ve forgotten. It made me love this book one hundred times more. I really appreciated the details. Also, I realize how many details I “remembered” were actually things from the movie which I saw more recently than I read If I Stay obviously. Even knowing everything that happened this was just as emotional for me as it was the first time. I’ve talked before about why I’m afraid to reread books sometimes and I’m happy that this one held up for me…because it’s a major fear of mine.

 

Then I went on a little Dessen binge which I so enjoyed. As a general statement I find that her books make nice audiobooks (at least for me).

 

First up was Someone Like You:

Someone Like You by Sarah DessenSomeone Like You by Sarah Dessen

Rating

RATING-reallyliked

I really loved this one. Some of my friends say they didn’t like some of her early books but man did I love this one. I hadn’t read a ton of Dessen prior to this — a few books here and there — but this one was a little bit more serious or darker (I don’t even know if those are even the right words) than I remember the ones I had read a long time ago. I loved the friendship of Hayley and Scarlett in this one and how they were there for each other through some hard times — loss, day to day struggles, pregnancy, boy drama, etc.. The relationship between Hayley and her mom was an interesting one — I related with having a mom kind of similar to her — very overbearing and strict. I was actually REALLY surprised about the romance (he’s a bad boy type) and how it developed/where it went and even more shocked about how it all ended. I was REALLY happy with the ending — very refreshing and not something I see a whole lot. Regarding the audio, I had no qualms with the narration. Easy to follow.

And then I followed it with:

Lock & keyLock & Key by Sarah Dessen

Rating:

RATING-loved-it

Oh man did I love Lock & Key!! My heart was just so full and happy listening to this one. Teared up quite a bit. Dessen is just so damn talented in having complex and great relationships — romantic, family, friendships. Ruby’s home life is so sad to me and I was really excited to see her reunited with her sister Cora and how this sister relationship was explored — all the hurt of these years apart, the mistrust, the shared history as kids. It was so touching. And OH MY GOD I LOVED JAMIE. Jamie is Cora’s husband and he just made my heart so happy with his enthusiasm for holidays and family and his earnest welcoming of Ruby into their family. I just LOVED how much about family this book was. Like I’m tearing up thinking about it now — the family we have and the family we make out of friends and romances. And Nate. Oh man, Nate. Loved that dude. Such a great relationship between he and Ruby. I just really didn’t want the audio to end at all. I want more of all these characters. Again, I enjoyed the audio and found it engaging and easy to follow.

Have you read either of these Dessen books? I’m also curious if anyone has reread If I Stay &  if so how it held up for YOU.

Hey Throne of Glass Fans..Exciting Giveaway!

You all know my love for all things Sarah J. Maas — especially the Throne of Glass series! I was so excited when Litographs, a company that produces literary merchandise made entirely from the text of the work it represents, emailed me about how they teamed up with Sarah to produce a Throne of Glass collection with a t-shirt, tote and poster.

Oh and hey….do I want to host a giveaway for my readers? WHY YES I DO. So, thanks to Litographs, I have a giveaway for all you Throne of Glass fans!!!

But first can we just ogle these beauties???!

 

glass-featured glass-tote-featured glass-tee-zoom

 

GIVEAWAY

What will the winner will receive? A gift certificate to Litographs for $34 (the price of the t-shirt). You can pick your color and your size and shipping is FREE anywhere in the US. So, non-US people can totally enter but this won’t cover shipping!

 

*Guidelines*

-You must be 13 years or older to enter.
-Open internationally — but know that you’ll get the gift certificate for the shirt but have to pay for shipping.
– Winner will be contacted via email.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Whatcha In The Mood For?

I’ve talked a lot about being a mood reader and what it is LIKE to be a mood reader. An IRL friend of mine was at my apartment and wanted a new book and I was like “Whatcha in the mood for?” and I started spouting out like, “Do you want to cry? Do you want fun? Do you want fast-paced? Fantasy? Real life??” and she just laughed at me and said “you’ve got a book for every mood, huh?”

Then it dawned on me…HMM maybe this could be something new on the blog. I thought it would be fun to sporadically dole out recommendations according to what kind of mood you might be in — whether that be an actual mood or a specific type of book. The moods will probably change each time and be completely random but that’s how we do things around here. I would LOVE LOVE LOVE if you could also leave some recs for my categories in the comments to further help people looking for books that fit!

Check out past Whatcha In the Mood For Recs!

 

In need of a vacation?

wanderloveWanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard

Why? Oh man! This book will give you a serious case of wanderlust. It’s one of my all time favorite contemporary YA readers and is always one I recommend all these years later with even more contemporary YA under my belt! Traveling through Central America with Bria was amazing & I loved the romance!

Want a cute/sexy/fun romance?

Boomerang by Noelle August

Boomerang by Noelle August

Why? It’s just so much fun! It’s cute AND sexy in all the right places. I loved the premise…one night stand and then they realize they are competing for the same job at a dating website after a summer of interning. Oh and a no-dating policy at work? Sexual tension, HELLO! I just had so much fun reading it.

Want something sci-fi lite?

The Lost Girl by Sangu Mandanna - new dystopian book series

The Lost Girl by Sangu Mandanna

Why? I feel like this YA sci-fi standalone is so underrated and I really enjoyed it! The writing is beautiful and it’s a quieter “lighter” sci-fi book. I call it sci-fi lite just because sometimes sci-fi can scare people (I know I used to think I didn’t like sci-fi because of preconceived notions).  It’s just…not like intense science fiction if that makes sense?

Want An Offbeat, Underated Fantasy Series?

A Corner of White Jaclyn Moriarty

A Corner of White by Jaclyn Moriarty

Why? It’s so WEIRD and strange…but like in a good way? It’s not like most of the fantasy I’ve read. Full disclosure, it took me a bit to get into it but once I did I really enjoyed it. The writing is great and I love the collision of a contemporary world and a fantasy world. It’s a quieter type of fantasy for sure but pretty delightful.

Want a gritty survival story?

Not A Drop To Drink by Mindy McGinnis

Not A Drop To Drink by Mindy McGinnis

Why? I LOVED this book! So much. It’s set in a world where water is a scarce commodity and if you have it…you protect it. I just loved how gritty it was and how it really delves into some grey morality issues when one is in survival mode.

Have you read any of these? Agree/disagree with my recs? Have any to add?? Also, if you have a specific mood you think I should do next time….drop that in the comments!

Ten Books I Hope To Bring Home With Me From BEA This Year

Top Ten Tuesday, as  always, is hosted at my other blog — The Broke & the Bookish

This week’s topic: Top Ten Freebie

This week is a freebie and as per usual (I always schedule the freebie over at TBTB for before BEA for this reason) I will be doing my top ten books I hope to bring home with me from BEA this year.

If you aren’t familiar, BEA is the Book Expo of America. It’s a big ol’ industry event –teachers, librarians, book sellers, publishers, bloggers, reviewers — and there are author signings and you are able to get galleys of books that are typically Fall/Winter releases. It’s book nerd heaven, really. If you aren’t an “industry” person but think this sounds awesome there is 2 days of Book Con after it which is open to the public.

2015 BEA young adult books

Truthwitch by Susan Dennard: THIS IS LIKE MY #1. If I get this it will be a successful BEA trip. I love Susan and I love her Something Strange & Deadly trilogy so I cannot wait for this one.

Passenger by Alexandra Bracken: Another one of the 3 top priority books (the one below is the other). TIME TRAVEL WITH PIRATES. CAN I GET A HELL YEAH.

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo: New series from Leigh (set in the Grisha world) that looks awesome! Game of Thrones meets Ocean’s Eleven!

Soundless by Richelle Mead: I still have not read the Vampire Academy series outside of the first one. I KNOW I KNOW. But I’m super excited about this — fantasy + Chinese folklore.
Illuminae by Amie Kaufman + Jay Kristoff: High stakes science fiction set in the future!
Never Always Sometimes by Adi Alsaid: I loved Adi’s debut Let’s Get Lost so I cannot wait for a new one from him!
Another Day by David Levithan: I LOVED Every Day and this is a companion to this that I’m SO excited for!!
More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera: Love Adam and I’ve heard so much praise for this one!
Rules for Stealing the Stars by Corey Ann Haydu: I really don’t ever read Middle Grade but I will so I can read another book of Corey’s. Plus it sounds wonderful and THAT COVER THO.
A Thousand Nights by E.K. Johnston: 1001 Nights retelling!

 

So tell me…if you are going to BEA what is on your priority list? If you aren’t, did any of these books pique your interest? If you ARE going, let me know!!

New To The Queue {13}

New To the Queue is a sporadic thing around here wherein I give you a tiny glimpse into some of the books, movies, tv shows and bands I’ve recently added to my never ending queue of things to read/watch/listen to. For past posts, go here!

books-to-read

Truest jessica Lea sommers

 Truest by Jessica Lea Sommers  (Amazon // Goodreads)
Publication Date – September 1st 2015

Why I Added It To My To-Be-Read list: It showed up in the mail and it looks like a me book PLUS a long time reader of my blog is the author! I don’t know her all that well outside of comments here and there but I’m super proud of her so I definitely want to read it!

What It’s About:Silas Hart has seriously shaken up Westlin Beck’s small-town life. Brand new to town, Silas is different than the guys in Green Lake. He’s curious, poetic, philosophical, maddening– and really, really cute. But Silas has a sister– and she has a secret. And West has a boyfriend. And life in Green Lake is about to change forever.

 

 

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo ( Goodreads // Amazon)
Publication Date- 2014


Why I Added It To My To-Be-Read list:
I feel like I’m always battling clutter and piles of clothes and I heard people saying lots of good things about this one! SOOO..why not? It’s better than my current strategy which is to just stare at it overwhelmed.

What It’s About: It’s delves into a method of cleaning and tidying that is apparently revolutionary?

 

Uprooted Naomi Novik

Uprooted by Naomi Novik  (Amazon // Goodreads)
Release Date: May 19, 2015


Why I Added It To My To-Be-Read list:
My friend Kim was raving about it to me!

What It’s About: On the border of Agnieszk‘s home is the Woods where evil power lies. A wizard that they know as Dragon keeps the evil at bay. In exchange for his help he demands that they give him a woman every ten years to serve him which is a fate nobody wants at all. As the choosing comes near, Agnieszk‘s is afraid of the Dragon choosing her beautiful best friend but that isn’t who ends up being chosen…

 

Hold Tight Don't Let Go

Hold Tight Don’t Let Go by Laura Rose Wagner ( Amazon // Goodreads)

Release Date: January 2015

 


Why I Added It To My To-Be-Read list:
I randomly stumbled upon it but once I saw it was set in Haiti after the earthquake I knew I wanted to read it. One of my friends owns an organization that has been doing work in Haiti since the earthquake so I’m invested in their story. I really hope the author did her research.

What It’s About:  “Hold Tight, Don’t Let Go follows the vivid story of two teenage cousins, raised as sisters, who survive the devastating 2010 earthquake in Haiti. After losing the woman who raised them in the tragedy, Magdalie and Nadine must fend for themselves in the aftermath of the quake.

 

 

netflix-to-watch

Mad Men

Mad Men

Why I Added It To My Netflix Queue:  It seems like something I’d like and everyone raves about it from Will’s uncle to friends on Twitter. Now that it’s ending I figured I can start binging it.

What It Is About: “Set in 1960s New York, this series takes a peek inside an ad agency in an era when the cutthroat business had a glamorous lure. When the cigarette smoke clears and the martinis are set down, at the center of it all is womanizing ad man Don Draper”

 SelmaSelma

Why I Added It To My Netflix Queue: I had wanted to see it in theater but never got a chance to and I’ve just heard wonderful things about this portrayal of an important part of history.

What It Is About: “Commemorating the 50th anniversary of the 1965 civil rights march from Selma, Ala., to Montgomery, this stirring historical drama highlights the courage of the marchers as they withstand racist and violent attacks by the police.”

 

This Is Where I Leave You

This Is Where I Leave You

 

Why I Added It To My Netflix Queue: I’ve wanted to read this book but just haven’t yet. (Is it worth reading before I watch??). So I keep telling myself to read the book so I can watch this. I really like Jason Bateman and Tina Fey and I love movies about siblings.

What It Is About: “In accordance with Jewish custom, four siblings gather to sit shivah after their father’s death but are soon bickering and renewing old grudges. Brought together for the first time in years, the quarrelsome brood is in for a weeklong emotional duel.”

 music-to-listen-to

 Passion Pit — Kindred

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Why I Added It To My Musical Rotation:  I have loved Passion Pit for many, many years so I was just waiting and waiting for this one at the end of last month. It’s definitely been in my rotation a lot since it came out. Favorite songs so far: Lifted Up, All I Want, Until We Can’t (Let’s Go), Whole Life Story

Mighty Oaks — Howl
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Why I Added It To My Musical Rotation: Well, I came  across Mighty Oaks in 2013 with their Just One Day song and added it to my Monthly Playlist if you follow that. Then they came out with their single, “Brother” and I fell in love with that. Have been WAITING for a full album from them because I was digging their sound. Have been really enjoying the album!

Mumford & Sons — Wilder Mind

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Why I Added It To My Musical Rotation: Have been DYING for the new Mumford especially as their singles kept being released and I was really intrigued by the sound for this new album. I loved their stuff before but I’m really loving how they are letting themselves evolve. This has been on REPEAT!

If you want to catch what I’m listening to…follow me on Spotify! Let me know who you are so I can follow back and check out youuur music!

lets-talk

YOUR TURN! Tell me one book you added to your TBR list recently! Tell me a movie/tv show you added to your must watch list! Tell me a new band/singer you just added to your musical rotation! Also, have you read/watched/listened to anything on my recently added list? Or did I make you add something to YOUR queue? Tell me, tell me!

Interview With Sarah Dessen + Giveaway

Oh man, guys. I’m so excited about this interview!! I am so grateful to have gotten a chance to sit down with Sarah Dessen before her event here at Children’s Book World in Haverford, PA (my favorite indie in the area) and chat for a bit about writing and how YA has changed and more! She is SO SO lovely and I really enjoyed talking to her. The event itself was LOVELY and there was quite the crowd. One of the biggest I’ve scene there and I loved watching teens and adults alike fangirling over Sarah and telling her how much her books have meant to them. She’s a great speaker and is so engaging with her audience so it was just a great event all around!

 

Sarah Dessen

Question: There’s been a lot of discussion recently about “books for boys” and “books for girls”, and I’m sure you probably get pigeon-holed as the latter sometimes. What are your thoughts and experiences with that?

Sarah: I think what I’ve seen more of than necessarily books for girl or boys is, in the bigger chain bookstores (not the independents), they have teen fiction and teen romance and they have me shelved into teen romance.

Me: And your books are so much more than just a romance!

Sarah: I know! And not that I’m bashing romance, I think romance is great, but I feel like if I only had romance in my books than I’d be okay with that but I feel like, especially in Saint Anything, there’s so much else going on.

Me: *agrees furiously with specifics from Saint Anything*

Sarah: And I’ve talked to YA writer friends of mine who are like, “it stinks because I have that I’ve one book I’ve written in YA romance and one put in YA fiction and people can’t find them.” It’s like, if you love a book you go to the bookstore you go to find a book by that person. So it’s really frustrating. I just wish people would give them a chance. I understand when you have a cover like this with the beach and everything (Jamie note: she pointed to a copy of Someone Like You I believe) but I was really happy with this cover (Saint Anything). When they came back with it I thought, “Okay it’s a little bit darker and it’s a little bit deeper and so is the book so maybe it has a chance. It looks more adult even so it has the crossover potential. I am the first to say I don’t have a ton of boy fans but I do have some, ya know, and they come through and I don’t think books are male or female anything. Books are just universal. Books are for everybody. I understand the sales technique in these bigger bookstores trying to compartmentalize but I think it works against it and it’s frustrating.

QUESTION: So, along with this, what I love about your books is that are ALWAYS about more than just one thing. There are complicated relationships and dynamics of all types. I just love how you balance the friendships, the romance, the family and the individual journey. How do you balance all that in your books, especially because in YA the romance angle seems to be the big seller.

Sarah: Well, because high school’s never about one thing. Life isn’t about one thing to me. Even now, at my age, my daily life is my family, my friends, my work. I’m as tied up with my mom as I am with my daughter. And when I was in high school it was the same thing. It was never just about the boy I was involved with or just my friends. It was like my friends, my boyfriend, my work, school. It’s like, you are are cheating yourself if you aren’t giving yourself the opportunity to show the whole picture. Every day was never about just one thing. Nobody’s life was like that.

Me: I think that’s what makes your books so relatable. I was never just dealing with my crush. It was like trying to balance going out with my crush while trying to keep my grades up and deal with my overprotective, strict mom who I had to beg to let me go out with my friends let alone my crush My parents and home life were a huge part of my daily struggles outside boys and friends.

Sarah: Right! Exactly! I think also in YA, and this is something I’ve said before, I think a lot of times the parents are not there. And I know some YA writers just don’t really want to write adults. They just want to write the teens and the parents are like the Charlie Brown adults where they are just like MWA MWA MWA (Jamie note: her Charlie Brown adult impression is on point). For me, my parents were never one note characters in my life. My mom was just as complicated as I was if not more so. So for me I never felt like I could write about being a teen without bringing in the whole family and all that dynamic because it IS where you learn everything and then you kind of take what you learn dealing with your family into the rest of your life. And, for better or for worse, it shapes who you are.

*interlude where I gush all about Jamie & Cora in Lock & Key because I’m currently audiobooking that one and how Sarah, just in general writes amazing adult characters and how there is a lack of great adult characters in a lot of YA*

[Keep Reading]

On Books That Change Your Life

In my reading life I’ve had an abundance of reading experiences where I’ve felt extremely moved and even like something in me has shifted. Books that have challenged me. Books that made me think a lot. Books that have rocked me to the core.

But I’ve only had a handful of books that I could say ACTUALLY changed my life in a tangible way. Like caused me to take action and change something. Made things truly different.

One of the books in recent times was Just One Day by Gayle Forman (I know, I know…I talk about this book all the time but IT IS IMPORTANT TO ME and really damn good). I read this one in November 2012, as I was fortunate enough to receive a galley, and I remember just devouring it while Will and I were visiting my dad over Thanksgiving. I stayed up late. I sneaked in reading time while others were napping. It was just that book I think I was MEANT to read right then as some of my life was kind of mirroring where the main character was at in ways.

I was feeling stuck. Doing things because that’s the way they were even though I was unhappy. Devoting all my time to a group of friends that wasn’t reflective of who I was anymore (and were a little bit toxic for me) because I had ALWAYS been friends with them since high school & college. I wasn’t doing things *I* internally wanted to do because I was always doing what THEY wanted to do. I just felt like I was straddling this line between the person who I was (though internally and externally they seemed different) and the person who I wanted to be but I just really felt confused as to who I really was.

         “I don’t know who I am. Or maybe I do know who I am and I just don’t want to be her anymore.”  

 

Just One Day just kind of took me by the shoulders and shook me as I watched Allyson find herself. As I watched Allyson open herself up to all these new things and stop just living so passively. So much of my own life problems I was watching unfold in Allyson’s journey that I was like “DID GAYLE KNOW THAT I NEEDED THIS BOOK? MAYBE SHE WROTE IT FOR ME? UNLIKELY BUT THIS IS SCARILY HITTING CLOSE TO HOME HERE.” I kept reading, not only because I loved the story and the characters, but because I felt like I would find the answers to what I needed to do in Allyson’s journey. And I did.

            “And this is the truth. Because I may be only eighteen, but it already seems pretty obvious that the world is divided into two groups: the doers and the watchers. The people things happen to and the rest of us, who just sort of plod on with things. The Lulus and the Allysons.  It never occurred to me that by pretending to be Lulu, I might slip into that other column, even for just a day.”

 

I realized I, like Allyson, was being a watcher these days. I just was kind of existing in the status quo, unhappily, and was just letting life come and go rather than really LIVING and DOING. I kept hoping for better things or the things that I wanted to be true of my life….but I wasn’t doing anything to get them. At all. And I just kept plodding on. I wasn’t putting myself in the path of it — something that Allyson was finding out you needed to do if you wanted things to happen.

When I finished the book I was just weeping. Because it was a damn good book. But also because I knew what I had to do. I knew that I could not read these words and feel these things that mirrored my own life and just not do something about it. It was like I was being sent my own little message for my life and I would be stupid not to listen. It felt overwhelming. But then I remembered this quote from the book that put it into perspective:

            “We are born in one day. We die in one day. We can change in one day. And we can fall in love in one day. Anything can happen in just one day.”

 

So, in the days following my reading of that book, I decided that a break-up was in order for a friend group that was kind of toxic for me/wasn’t working for me anymore (I maybe didn’t go about it the right way but I kind of needed to quit them cold turkey because they were such a HUGE part of my life and the thing that I felt was holding me back from doing the things I wanted). I decided to start a book club and had one up and running by January (my book club story and tips for starting your own). I started saying yes to things. I let myself start saying NO to things I felt like I couldn’t prior to reading this book. And for the first time in a long time I actually felt like I was more ME than I had been in a long time.

Just One Day was the kick in the pants I needed to change things that I knew needed to be changed a while before it. I just didn’t have the courage to change them. Allyson’s story resonated so much, all that forward action, that it made me PHYSICALLY change things after reading them. It was liberating. It was a gift in a lot of ways but I think of my life how it is right now, totally not perfect but I’m ME and I’m living the way I want to, and how my life probably would have continued on had I not read this book and I’m so thankful for it that I don’t have adequate enough words.

          “Or maybe it’s not a miracle. Maybe this is just life. When you open yourself up to it. When you put yourself in the path of it. When you say yes.”

 

And that’s simple what I did. I opened myself up. Put myself in the path of the things I wanted. I said yes (but also realized that sometimes saying NO to one thing is also saying YES to other things).

That book changed my life. I mean, completely flipped it upside down and made it so it was impossible to continue on the way I was. And I am so, so thankful for the words that I needed to hear at exactly the right time in my life.

NOW. I would love to know about any books that changed YOUR LIFE. Please tell me!!!! Books are just magical like that and I need to know!

 

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