Monday, October 28, 2013

THE LIAR SOCIETY Book 3 Pre-Order Giveaway

I love THE LIAR SOCIETY books, and Sourcebooks has an awesome giveaway opportunity for pre-ordering book 3, coming in December. 

A Gift for You, for Pre-Ordering Third Lie’s the Charm by YA rock stars Lisa and Laura Roecker

For US and Canadian Liar Society Lovers!

We have a special offer going on for the release of Third Lie’s the Charm by YA rock stars Lisa and Laura Roecker—in stores in a little over one month! If you pre-order the book:

·       ALL pre-orders will receive an original bookmark signed by the Roeckers themselves
·       FIVE lucky winners will win the first TWO books in the series! This is a great way to discover this series—one that Publishers Weekly and Booklist have called “chilling, suspenseful and smart” and “smartly plotted, full of twists, clues and sleuthing.”
·       ONE lucky winner will receive the GRAND PRIZE:  an EXCLUSIVE, TOP SECRET afterword of the Liar Society series for YOU to post and share.

You have until December 2 or until quantities run out. Here’s how to get your bookmark and a chance to win the first two books in the Liar Society series, or the exclusive afterword:

1. Pre-order the book (print or eBook) through any retailer (Barnes & Noble, Amazon, your local independent bookseller/Indiebound, Books-A-Million, Hastings, etc.)

2. Email your proof of purchase (receipt or picture of the receipt) to Don’t forget to include your home address (US & Canada only please) so we can send you the bookmark (and possibility the books!) If you’ve already pre-ordered this book—not a problem! Send us your receipt!

3. You will get an email back confirming when the items have been sent out. 

4. Enjoy Third Lie’s the Charm when it arrives in December—just in time for some chilly holiday reading!

Optional: Make like the Roeckers and KATE and take a pic of you with your hair dyed—(or you can cheat and use Photoshop J) and share with us on Twitter and Facebook! Find the Roeckers @LandLroecker and Sourcebooks Fire @sourcebooksfire and

Friday, October 25, 2013

CRASH INTO YOU by Katie McGarry

Author: Katie McGarry
Publisher: Harelequin Teen
Release Date: November 26, 2013
Number of Pages: 474
Source of Book: eARC from publisher at NetGalley
From acclaimed author Katie McGarry comes an explosive new tale of a good girl with a reckless streak, a street-smart guy with nothing to lose, and a romance forged in the fast lane
        The girl with straight As, designer clothes and the perfect life-that's who people expect Rachel Young to be. So the private-school junior keeps secrets from her wealthy parents and overbearing brothers...and she's just added two more to the list. One involves racing strangers down dark country roads in her Mustang GT. The other? Seventeen-year-old Isaiah Walker-a guy she has no business even talking to. But when the foster kid with the tattoos and intense gray eyes comes to her rescue, she can't get him out of her mind.

        Isaiah has secrets, too. About where he lives, and how he really feels about Rachel. The last thing he needs is to get tangled up with a rich girl who wants to slum it on the south side for kicks-no matter how angelic she might look. But when their shared love of street racing puts both their lives in jeopardy, they have six weeks to come up with a way out. Six weeks to discover just how far they'll go to save each other.

First Thought: I seriously adore all of Katie McGarry's books! Once I start, I can't stop reading them.

There's something so addictive about Katie McGarry's writing style...I'm drawn into these stories immediately and lose sleep staying up too late reading them. McGarry has a way of writing wounded characters who are finding their first love in such a real way that you are rooting for them to work through their issues and find happiness. Her books are mature in the themes that they deal with, and her characters' home lives are nowhere near perfect, and the way in which they struggle with their issues, feelings, and relationships feels very real. The books deal with serious issues without being preachy. They have romance. They have friendships. They have major family issues. They have excitement (especially this one with the drag racing that occurs). Most of all, they have heart. That heart comes through more clearly because of the way McGarry writes the multiple perspectives of her characters. Once again, true to her style, we get the male voice and female voice in alternating chapters. And there are some chapters that are so deftly connected in the place one ends and the next begins that it led to gasp-worthy moments. Getting that first person voice of each main character as they delve into the relationship, and seeing how damaged they are, allows the reader to connect even more.

One of the really fun parts of reading CRASH INTO YOU, the third book in the series, is that the main characters from the first two books (PUSHING THE LIMITS and DARE YOU TO) are brought in as major secondary characters as Isaiah gets his turn to tell his story. And Isaiah is not what you may have thought from the parts of him we saw from other characters' perspectives in the first two books. I loved that Isaiah was different than expected, and getting to know more about him made my heart break for him. He is so much more than I thought, and that's a wonderful surprise. Then we get to meet Rachel, a girl with a dysfunctional family on the inside who tries to make all appearances on the outside seem perfect. These two, from different sides of town, as opposite as they may seem at first, connect in a way that is what both of them need. But things are never easy in situations such as this.

I hope we keep getting more stories in this world with these characters. I'm excited Rachel's brother West gets to tell his story next (which means he'll be finding someone special) in TAKE ME ON, but I really hope we get more from Logan sometime soon, too! Whatever it is, whoever the characters are, I know I'll read whatever Katie McGarry writes next!

Final Thoughts: If you've read and enjoyed the first two books, you'll definitely want to read this one when it comes out! And if you haven't, what are you waiting for?! If you like a good romance with layered characters who need to find the right one to support them, check out Katie McGarry's books.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Student Recommendation: PERFECT CHEMISTRY by Simone Elkeles

I'm excited to share this student recommendation/book response with you today. For one thing, it's a book I loved that has always been very popular with my students - once one reads it, it gets passed hand-to-hand through the rest. For another, I was so impressed with some of the thoughts Jessica, a seventh-grader, had about this book and the way in which she expressed them. She was happy when I asked to post it on my blog since it is one of her favorite books.

Author: Simone Elkeles
Publisher: Walker Books for Young Readers
Release Date: December 23, 2008
Number of Pages: 357

A fresh, urban twist on the classic tale of star-crossed lovers.
When Brittany Ellis walks into chemistry class on the first day of senior year, she has no clue that her carefully created 'perfect' life is about to unravel before her eyes. She's forced to be lab partners with Alex Fuentes, a gang member from the other side of town, and he is about to threaten everything she's worked so hard for: her flawless reputation, her relationship with her boyfriend, and the secret that her home life is anything but perfect.

Alex is a bad boy and he knows it. So when he makes a bet with his friends to lure Brittany into his life, he thinks nothing of it. But soon Alex realizes Brittany is a real person with real problems, and suddenly the bet he made in arrogance turns into something much more.
In a passionate story about looking beneath the surface, Simone Elkeles breaks through the stereotypes and barriers that threaten to keep Brittany and Alex apart.
Simone Elkeles’ Perfect Chemistry is a story of suspenseful events and romantic chemistry. When the main character, Alex, is faced with a choice to leave for love or stay for power, the decision determines his whole future and even affects the lives of others. My opinion is that it was an awesome book; it had so much detail and was so descriptive. Every part, every paragraph, and every chapter felt like I was living the book. I really had strong feelings about this book because some of the events in the book I’d compare to real life situations that I know of or I went through. I loved this novel so much I’ve even read the rest of the books, Rules of Attraction and Chain Reaction, too. I’d recommend this novel for very mature people who love a page-turner (‘because this book is!) You won’t be able to put this book down once you start; every person that I know who has read this book said they loved it and never wanted to put it down. Guaranteed you’ll love this bestseller.

*The space for the advertisement statement at the top of this post, for a web-based service, was provided in exchange for compensation.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Happy Book Birthday, ALLEGIANT & My Farewell to the DIVERGENT Series

Disclaimer: Yes, I've finished reading the whole book today. No, there are no spoilers here, and it's not a review, but if you don't want to have any hint of an idea of what your emotions might be like at the end of the book, you might want to wait to read this. 
I feel like I've been with this series for a long time. Back in early 2011, there was a ton of buzz about this debut book called DIVERGENT coming out in May. And the author, Veronica Roth, had an ARC contest on her blog. And I won it! I got to read it in March 2011, and I knew then that it was going to be big. I shared the book with students and we all agreed it was going to be a really, really long wait for the next book (one of the downsides of being lucky enough to get an advanced reader copy).
So I spent the next year anxiously awaiting the May 2012 release of INSURGENT. I was extremely lucky that a kindhearted and generous editor let me know she was sending me a hotly anticipated ARC of the second book - and that it would be sent out a month before the release to avoid spoilers. So I got my copy of DIVERGENT out knowing that I would want to reread it before getting book two since it had been so long since I read it, and I was again drawn right back into that world. And then a package came in the mail addressed in this way.
I set to reading it right away, and as I was reading INSURGENT, I couldn't help but think this was really something special I got to be a part of, and what a feeling that is to have as a reader. I loved book two also and with the big reveal at the end I knew something crazy was coming. And then began the long wait for book three. What would be the title? What would happen? Who will be cast as Four in the movie? Why has the release date been pushed from spring to fall?! (Well, obviously because the author wanted to make sure it was the right book).

I've been eagerly anticipating October 22nd since it was announced as the release date for ALLEGIANT. I even preordered the ebook so I would have it right away since there were no midnight releases in my area (and I knew I'd have to teach). I've been reading DIVERGENT aloud to my 8th graders (in anticipation of a field trip to see the movie in March), and we weren't done as of Friday, so I brought the book home and finished reading ahead myself because I knew that I wanted to reread the first two books because it has been so long since I read them. I wanted to really wrap up my experience with this series in the best way I could without being confused about details. This weekend, I reread INSURGENT for the first time (was I ever glad I did - there was so much I had forgotten!). And as I talked to my students on Monday, I shared my excitement for the release of ALLEGIANT with them.
I told them I wasn't sure if I was going to stay up past midnight so I could start reading or just get up extra early in the morning, but that while they were on the computers typing first drafts of papers today in the library computer lab (an inadvertent lesson planning win), I would of course be available for help/questions, but I would also be reading every spare moment I had. Well, I ended up getting up at 4am (How appropriate. Ha!) to start reading because I was so excited I couldn't sleep any longer. After 2 1/2 years, I was finally going to find out how this journey would end. I read for awhile, got ready for school, and headed in. My librarian also got the ebook, so we talked back and forth in our excitement all day. Every class that came in, students asked me if I had it, if I was reading it, and how far I was. By the end of the day, I was only 80 pages from the end, so I decided to just stay in my classroom to finish it.

*I'm going to talk about ALLEGIANT, and it's spoiler-free, but if you don't even want a hint of an idea about my feelings, you might want to skip this part.
At 4:30 this afternoon I finally did, and there were many tears. I was so grateful that a couple of my students who have read DIVERGENT and INSURGENT were in after-school activities in classrooms near mine so I could go talk to them right away. I was an emotional wreck after the events in the story, and I needed someone to talk to (without spoiling anything) who would understand how I could be crying over a book, and they did.

I know some people may not like events that happen in this book, and as devastated as I may be about certain things, I know that I trust authors to do what's right by the characters and the stories they create. I've loved their books and writing for a reason, so even if it's not what I might have hoped for, I know that it's being true to what has to happen to tell the story completely. Especially in dystopian books, these are harsh times and bad/sad things have to happen. I think this book will require some processing time and stepping back to appreciate it for what it is, without gut reactions of not understanding why certain choices were made. But here's the thing: If I didn't care so much, I wouldn't be upset or in tears or in disbelief, and it's because of what the author has written that I care so much. I've always thought: I may not always get a happy ending in a book, but it's the hopeful ending I really want so I can feel comfortable leaving these characters behind and knowing they're going to be okay. After this long with these characters and this world, I'm so glad I got to finish my time with them in one big stretch like this, and that I was left with some hope at the end.

Happy Book Birthday ALLEGIANT and Veronica Roth! Thank you for the memories and emotions and experience I got to have reading your books, and especially for the connections I've been able to make with students through your words and stories.

Cover Reveal: EMBERS & ASH by T.M. Goeglein

EMBERS & ASH by T.M. Goeglein, 
the final installment in the COLD FURY trilogy from Penguin Books, 
coming in August 2014! 
(Book II, FLICKER & BURN, is out now!) 
Check out the Cold Fury series website.

Cover Reveal 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Blog Tour: THE SNATCHABOOK Author & Illustrator Guest Post

THE SNATCHABOOK is a cute picture book about a small town where all of the animals' books and bedtime stories are disappearing. Today I get to share a guest post from the author and illustrator in response to my question: Where did you come up with the idea for this picture book, and if/how did it change through the revision/illustration process? You can read their responses below (with early sketches of the artwork and what the main character might have looked like as a different animal...or even human!)


Author: Helen Docherty
Illustrator: Thomas Docherty
Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
Release Date: October 1, 2013
Number of Pages: 32
Source of Book: eARC from Publisher

Where have all the bedtime stories gone?
          One dark, dark night in Burrow Down, a rabbit named Eliza Brown found a book and settled down...when a Snatchabook flew into town.
          It's bedtime in the woods of Burrow Down, and all the animals are ready for their bedtime story. But books are mysteriously disappearing. Eliza Brown decides to stay awake and catch the book thief. It turns out to be a little creature called the Snatchabook who has no one to read him a bedtime story. All turns out well when the books are returned and the animals take turns reading bedtime stories to the Snatchabook.
Helen:  The idea of a book thief who steals children’s bedtime stories popped into my head at the end of a long day of trying (and failing) to think up interesting storylines. At first I wasn’t sure what this book thief would be like, or what to call him, so I played around with names; the book cruncher? The book snatcher? These seemed to suggest quite a menacing character, which wasn’t at all what I wanted, so I tried inverting the words - and that’s when the Snatchabook was born. As soon as I had named him, an image started to form in my mind of a pitiful, lonely little creature who just needs someone to read to him. Once I had established his character, I soon saw the potential to develop the story as a mystery with plenty of suspense and a brave heroine to confront the thief.

In my original version, Eliza was going to be a human girl (called Eliza Jones) and Burrow Down a village. However, our UK publisher, Alison Green, was very keen for Eliza and the other inhabitants of Burrow Down to be woodland animals, as she felt this would have more universal appeal. Looking back, it’s hard to imagine it any other way now! Apart from this, the changes to the text were very minor (by the time I sent it to the publisher I had already worked through several drafts myself), but it was great to have such an experienced editor to help guide the story gently in the right direction.

Tom:  As occasionally happens, my idea for the Snatchabook as a creature came very easily and hardly changed at all. However, since Helen originally imagined Eliza as a girl, my first sketches of her were very different from how she eventually turned out. It soon became clear that she was going to be an animal and I tried her out various creatures (my favourite being a Badger) before we arrived at a rabbit. How Eliza was going to look was probably the biggest change that took place for me working on this project and it all happened quite early on.  So once that had been decided, it was a question of working through the possibilities of a woodland community and designing all the houses and their inhabitants. This was loads of fun as I grew up in the countryside and had always loved playing in the woods near our house. I also really enjoyed adding the visual stories to the amimals that run independently to Helen’s text, like when they are all accusing each other of stealing the books. I did make quite a lot of tests to work out how exactly I was going to paint the twisty trees, falling leaves and windswept skys and these all helped me add the suspense to the illustrations without making them scary.

Monday, October 14, 2013

MMGM: THE REAL BOY Blog Tour & Author Interview

Author: Anne Ursu
Publisher: Walden Pond Press
Release Date: September 24, 2013
Number of Pages: 288
Source of Book: ARC & finished copy from publisher in exchange for honest review
          On an island on the edge of an immense sea there is a city, a forest, and a boy. The city is called Asteri, a perfect city that was saved by the magic woven into its walls from a devastating plague that swept through the world over a hundred years before. The forest is called the Barrow, a vast wood of ancient trees that encircles the city and feeds the earth with magic. And the boy is called Oscar, a shop boy for the most powerful magician in the Barrow. Oscar spends his days in a small room in the dark cellar of his master's shop, grinding herbs and dreaming of the wizards who once lived on the island generations ago. Oscar's world is small, but he likes it that way. The real world is vast, strange, and unpredictable. And Oscar does not quite fit in it.
          But it's been a long time since anyone who could call himself a wizard walked the world, and now that world is changing. Children in the city are falling ill, and something sinister lurks in the forest. Oscar has long been content to stay in his small room in the cellar, comforted in the knowledge that the magic that flows from the trees will keep his island safe. Now, even magic may not be enough to save it.

I am so thrilled to be participating in The Real Boy Blog Tour today! 
THE REAL BOY was a joy to read and is, without a doubt, one of my all time favorite middle grades books. It is so beautifully written. I'm extra excited today because I get to welcome Anne Ursu to my blog with an interview conducted by her editor, Jordan Brown. 
I enjoyed reading their conversation and hope you will, too.
JORDANIt’s interesting to me that this is the first book you’ve written that takes place in a completely invented world – your previous fantasy books have all had some sort of significant tether to our world (America, specifically), and feature characters from the present day. 
ANNE: A few months before starting this book, I thought confidently to myself that I was most interested in contemporary fantasy--that is taking characters from our world and putting them in fantastical situations--and I probably would never write a true fantasy. It was a convenient decision because I've always thought writing a fantasy like that would be impossible. 
I've noticed that the instant you proclaim anything confidently about your writing, the writing gods smite you. And so naturally the idea I became enraptured with could only be told as a high fantasy. So to say I wanted to try something new would not be quite accurate. I was dragged kicking and screaming. 

JORDAN: Always the best way to start a new manuscript. What inspired the story, and inspired you to make such a shift in how you write?
ANNE: The entire idea for the book came to me while I was watching a marionette show, and so by the time I walked out of the show I knew a few things. I knew I was in a magical forest where the trees were the spirits of old wizards, I knew magical goods would be a commodity, I knew Oscar, my protagonist, was servant to a magician and worked with herbs. I tend to make a few decisions and then just start writing and see what happens. It's not a particularly clean or efficient process! 

JORDAN: And yet, at the same time, the world still manages to feel “real,” and did even in your first draft. 
ANNE: Well, good. I wanted to have a few unifying principles so everything felt coherent. This involved making some decisions that wouldn't end up in the book, but would help me as I went along. I placed the island in an alternate universe eastern Mediterranean--and I put the book in time so I could keep the technology consistent. I chose the year 1675--I knew I wanted an early modern society--and so when I needed to put in some detail I would figure out, say, what a carriage might have looked like then. I also tried to account for those pesky human needs like food and shelter, making sure there were resources on the island as well as a history of trade with other countries. I'm not a detail person, so I needed some things to ground me.
I'm glad the world held together in the first draft. I felt like I was handing you a drawer full of unmatched socks.

JORDAN: Oh, it was a huge mess, generally. But the world, at least, was baseline consistent.  When I first started to dig into the editing work, the first thing I started making notes on was the wizard trees, and the long history of this world that we’re only given brief glimpses of in the book itself.
ANNE: It was a small mess. 
One of the many reasons writers need editors, aside from editors' obvious charm and gentle attention to their writers' psyches, is we might not have put all of the things in our head actually on the page. So if you're not living in our head, which few people are, things that are perfectly clear to the writer are not clear at all to the reader. I needed you to tell me what you weren't getting--even if I maybe didn't seem so grateful at the time.
Sometimes we'd spend a long time trying to discuss a plot point and eventually realize there was some baseline thing about the world I hadn't communicated--like you assumed the Shining City was rather small, speaking in terms of geography and population, and so a lot of what happened didn't make sense to you. Maybe because I never gave any sense of how big it was in the book. But mostly we ended up needing to get on the same page in terms of ideas--what I was going for with some of the plot elements.  We'd talk back and forth about details of the world and its history, and sometimes in that conversation it would become clear that we'd need to go back and talk about the fundamental themes of the book--how people react to fear, etc--before we could do anything else.  You needed to know what the heck I was trying to do.

JORDAN: Exactly.  I think it was when we were talking about the backstory of the wizard trees that we realized the important thing at issue wasn’t the backstory itself, or even the way in which the backstory had been twisted into a lie – but rather why the people of the Shining City needed the lie. 
ANNE: Right. And I'd start babbling about master narratives and Puritans and making things even more confused. I knew what I was trying to do on an instinctive level, but that wasn't quite enough to put all the pieces together on the page.  And then there was a time when I was working on the last draft I called my mom over and she and I sat down at the dining room table and talked back and forth for an hour only about the backstory, the things that happened hundreds of years before the book opens, before we got it solidified. Sometimes you need your mom. 
Of course, little of this backstory we generated actually shows up in the book. But I needed to know it so the book itself made sense. 
Which gets back to the first point: fantasy is hard.

JORDAN: True words.  Do you ever see yourself writing another fantasy set in an invented world?
ANNE: There you are again with your Can we talk about the next book? You should live in the moment.

Click Here to enter

Check out the other stops on The Real Boy Blog Tour
Monday, 9/30 - Maria's Melange - Maria's Take on The Real Boy + Giveaway
Tuesday, 10/1 - There's a Book - Danielle's Take on The Real Boy + Giveaway
Wednesday, 10/2 - sharpread - Colby Interviews Anne
Thursday, 10/3 - Novel Sounds - Elena's Take on The Real Boy + Giveaway
Friday, 10/4 - Word Spelunking - Aeicha Interviews Anne
Saturday, 10/5 - The Hiding Spot - Sara's Take on The Real Boy + Giveaway
Sunday, 10/6 - The Brain Lair - Kathy's Take on The Real Boy + Giveaway
Monday, 10/7 - Read, Write, Reflect - Anne Talks Oscar with Katherine
Tuesday, 10/8 - Librarian's Quest - Margie's Take on The Real Boy + Giveaway
Wednesday, 10/9 - Buried in Books - Heather's Take on The Real Boy + Giveaway
Thursday, 10/10 - The Book Monsters - Kristen's Take on The Real Boy + Giveaway
Friday, 10/11 - Cari's Book Blog - Cari's Take on The Real Boy + An Interview with Anne
Saturday, 10/12 - Unleashing Readers - Kellee Interviews Illustrator Erin McGuire
Sunday, 10/13 - Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers - Gina's Take on The Real Boy + Giveaway
Monday, 10/14 - Heise Reads and Recommends - Editor Jordan Brown Interviews Anne

Tuesday, 10/15 - Bulldog Readers Blog - The Bulldog Readers Debut Their Book Trailer