Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Welcome to the FFBC: Your Destination is on the Left by Lauren Spieller-- Interview + Giveaway

Your Destination is on the Left

by Lauren Spieller
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Release Date: June 26, 2018
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
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Dessa Rhodes is a modern day nomad. Her family travels in an RV, their lives defined by state lines, exit signs, and the small communal caravan they call home. Among them is Cyrus, her best friend and long-time crush, whom she knows she can never be with. When your families are perpetually linked, it’s too dangerous to take a risk on romance. 

Instead, Dessa looks to the future. She wants to be a real artist and going to art school is her ticket to success and a new life. There’s just one problem: she hasn’t been accepted…anywhere. Suddenly her future is wide open, and it looks like she’s going to be stuck traveling forever.

Then an unexpected opportunity presents itself: an internship working with a local artist in Santa Fe. Dessa struggles to prove to her boss—and herself—that she belongs there, but just as she finally hits her stride, her family suffers an unexpected blow. Faced with losing everything that she has worked for, Dessa has a difficult decision to make. Will she say goodbye to her nomadic lifestyle and the boy she loves? Or will she choose to never stop moving?

Hi Lauren!!  We’re so excited to have your book in our FFBC Tours, and can’t wait to ask you a couple of questions about your debut book, YOUR DESTINATION IS ON THE LEFT!


Favorite Book?

This is so hard, but right now I’m obsessed with BLOOD WATER PAINT by Joy McCullough. 

Favorite TV show?

I will always love Buffy the Vampire Slayer, forever and ever. 

Favorite movie?

Gah, it’s so hard to narrow this down to a favorite! I’m going to go with…Ratatouille! I’m a sucker for animated movies. 

Favorite Song?

I’ve had Shoshana Bean and Cynthia Erivo’s cover of Taylor Swift’s “I Did Something Bad” on repeat for months, so let’s go with that. 

Favorite Food?

I will always eat Cha siu bao. Anytime of day or night. 

Name 3 fictional places you would move to in a heartbeat.

Hogwarts, The Woodlands (from Laura Weymouth’s upcoming The Light Between Worlds), and the Shire. 

What were your favorite books growing up?

I absolutely loved Island of the Blue Dolphins and True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle when I was young, and then later I fell hard for the Harry Potter books (#GryffindorForLife, sorry haters). In high school I read a ton of Anne Rice and all those dark teen novels, like The Girl in the Box and Go Ask Alice. 

 Favorite Quote?

“Promise me you’ll always remember: You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” – Winnie the Pooh

What do you find yourself “Fangirling” over?

Anything with a badass lady in it. I’m particularly excited for the all female Oceans 8, because I will watch women in blockbuster movie franchises until the day I die. I’m also obsessed with Black Panther, obviously.  

 What recent book would you recommend to our YA fans?

Oh gosh, that’s a long list. I’ve already mentioned Blood Water Paint and The Light Between Worlds, so I’ll say Anger is a Gift by Mark Oshiro, The Brightsiders by Jen Wilde, and anything by Corey Ann Haydu. 


Could you tell our Book Addicts a little bit about YOUR DESTINATION IS ON THE LEFT?

Sure! Your Destination tells the story of Dessa Rhodes, a teen nomad who dreams of settling down and going to art school. But when she doesn’t get into college, she has to figure out: what do you do after you fail? Dessa’s also grappling with her feelings for Cyrus, the gorgeous guy she travels with….which was my favorite part of writing the book!

What 3 hashtags would you most associate with your book? (Could be a word or phrase or anything that would instantly make you think of YOUR DESTINATION IS ON THE LEFT.)

#nomad #art #swoonyromance

Besides reading, writing, and blogging, I love fashion!!  What is Dessa’s style like?

Dessa’s style is part hippie, part comfy-casual, mostly because she spends a lot of time on the road and she wants to stay comfortable (I actually used this adorable girl as style inspiration). Dessa also has a tiny closet since she lives in an RV, so she has to be very choosey about what she wears.

If you could go on an RV trip with any book character or author, who would you pick?

Oh gosh, that’s a great question. If I was traveling with a  character, I’d want to go with Gansy from The Raven Boys. He’d probably know a bunch of local legends about anywhere we traveled, and we’d definitely end up on some kind of hunt for a magical king or forest or something.  

Tell us your favorite quote from YOUR DESTINATION IS ON THE LEFT.

“You’re afraid. You’re afraid of failure, of not being good enough, of letting your family down. Right? But that’s the problem—you’re letting your fear of failure define you. That’s why you can’t pick up a paintbrush. You’re letting fear get in the way of your voice.” 

Is there a specific scene that you had the most fun to write?  Or which part was the most difficult to get through?

I loved writing every scene that involved Dessa and Cyrus falling for each other, but there’s this one scene in a pool that…well, let’s just say, it gets pretty sexy. 

Are there any recommendations you could give your readers to be in the “perfect mood” to read YOUR DESTINATION IS ON THE LEFT (specific music, snacks…)? 

This is a perfect “sit by the pool with a fruity drink” book! 

What’s next for you? 

My next book is called She’s the Worst. It’s about two sisters spending one last day together before the older sister goes to college, but when secrets come out, they have to decide if their relationship is going to continue…or fall apart. I cannot wait to share it with readers! 

Thanks so much for chatting with us!!

Thank you for having me!

Michelle's Notes: 1st thing: a roadtrip with Gansey??? Count me in!!!  2nd, I MUST read SHE'S THE WORST asap!!!!  It sounds amazing!!!  3rd, I was also a big DARK Contemporary fan in HS and still am!!!  I guess I never grew out of my angst stage???

Lauren Spieller is a literary agent who lives in New York with her husband. When she isn’t writing, she can be found drinking lattes, pining for every dog she sees, or visiting her native California. YOUR DESTINATION IS ON THE LEFT is her debut novel. Follow her on Twitter @laurenspieller.

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Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday-- 2018 Summer TBR

Top Ten Tuesday is a really cool original feature/weekly meme now hosted over at That Artsy Reader Girl. Each week they post a new Top Ten List that bloggers join in on answering... and today (June 19th) I'm one of them :)

Today's Topic

Top Ten Books On My Summer TBR

  • AKA-- books I hope I get at ALA :)

1.  Sadie by Courtney Summers- Oh I WILL be reading this soon.  When my fave author writes a book, I half want to read it right away & half want to CHERISH it.  Such dilemmas.

2.  Rabbit & Robot by Andrew Smith- This book sounds super weird, but IDGAF.  I love Andrew Smith's books.

3.  That's Not What Happened by Kody Keplinger- I haven't read a Kody Keplinger book since I didn't LOVE The DUFF, but this book seems like one I will like.

4.  A Room Away From the Wolves by Nova Ren Suma- I AM SO FREAKING EXCITED FOR THIS BOOK!!!  It's been way too long waiting for more Nova Ren Suma books!

5.  The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager- I loved FINAL GIRLS, so I've been eyeing this one.

6.  Campfire by Shawn Sarles- This sounds like the 90's thrillers I grew up with-- so, YES!!

7.  #Murdertrending by Gretchen McNeil- I enjoy this author and I like that it's futuristic.

8.  The Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas- Do you really need to ask?

9.  The Lies They Tell by Gillian French- This came out in May and I haven't found time to read it yet!!  I super loved GRIT last year, so I'm going to need to find time for this this summer.

10.  You May Now Kill the Bride by R.L. Stine- I mean....... well, considering I podcast about Mr. Stine, I think this is mandatory reading for me.

What books are on your Summer Reading Lists??

Monday, June 18, 2018

The Opposite of Here by Tara Altebrando-- She got me on this one

The Opposite of Here

Natalie is on a cruise for her 17th birthday with her parents and best girlfriends.  This "sail-a-bration" is meant to get her out of the sad state she's been in since losing her boyfriend in an accident a few months ago-- but Natalie is just going through the motions to make her friends and family happy.

Then on the first night of the cruise, she meets a guy!!  And she feels SOMETHING instead of the nothing she's been feeling for so long.  The problem(s):

--She doesn't even know his name.
--He's gone missing after saying cryptic things
--They're now doing a headcount on the boat
--Rumors are flying of a passenger overboard
--Her friends don't understand why she's getting involved

In the past few years, I've read The Leaving and The Possible-- and I thought both had interesting concepts and twisty reveals.  Reading this book, I could totally tell it was an Altebrando book.  There's just something about the way her books flow and the way the main character isn't exactly someone who you want to like, that makes her books stand out.

Natalie is on a cruise and meets a guy-- which is exciting because she's been very unfeeling since the death of her boyfriend.  Before she can even ask his name, he's gone.  He stood her up after saying odd things and taking an even odder selfie.  When the cruise ship starts doing a headcount, Natalie is convinced he jumped.  Her friends are more skeptical.  The mystery is too strong for Natalie to ignore, and as she gets deeper into the mysterious boy's life & family, things get complicated and romantic at the same time.

Natalie was one of those girls that I root for despite the fact that she got on my last nerve.  She really would rather believe that a dude jumped than think that maybe he just ditched her.  She was obsessed with the entire weirdo-dude thing to the point where she wasn't enjoying her vacation or being present with her friends in any way.  That alone made me want to shake her.  Snap out of it, mind your business, and actually BE IN THE MOMENT with your girls!!!

The friends were a whole other thing.  I went back and forth from being super annoyed at them for not being supportive (and pissed at them for hiding shit), to agreeing that I would've been annoyed at Natalie too.  I do think this book has some strong friendship & forgiveness messages that were heartwarming-- and I liked them!

What I loved: Holy Jesus Moly.  Every single time I started to get bored with the "missing" guy, the author would drop a bomb to get me back into it.  When the ending came, it felt like a completely normal ending-- better than normal even because it wasn't the typical "a guy fixed my life" ending-- but then I read the last page.  And !!!!!!!!!!  That last page made me remember why I love Tara Altebrando's books.  She GOES for it.  She made me read a whole book, feel good about it-- and then it got flipped turned upside down in 2 paragraphs making me question EVERYTHING!

OVERALL: I am in it for the twists!!  The author's books rarely have any characters in them that I like, but they make up for it with PLOT.  I love reading a book that tries for something different-- something shocking.  I totally 100% recommend this book.  It's so SUMMER and TWISTY and ADDICTING.

Date Published: 6/5/2018
How I got this book: Thanks for Bloomsbury for sending me an advanced copy to read and honestly review!
Publisher: Bloomsbury YA

Add this to your To-Read List!!

My Rating: 4.5/5

Character: Natalie
Book: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews

  • Maybe Natalie could get some insight on how to film their 2-line movies-- on second thought, maybe not.  But she probably would like reading about Greg and Earl making the worst movies of all-time.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda-- Adult Mystery w/ YA Crossover Appeal!!

All the Missing Girls

When Nic returns to her small town 10 years after her high school best friend disappeared, she finds herself caught in the center of another girl's disappearance.

In order to find out what happened to Annaliese, Nic needs to find out the truth about her friend Corrinne.  And this truth involves her family, her friends, and everything she's been running from for the last 10 years.

Nicolette comes to town to pack up her childhood home because her dad can't afford to have the house and pay for his care.  She rarely ever comes back because of the painful memories-- mainly due to her best friend going missing and it never being solved.  Within days of returning ANOTHER girl goes missing-- and it's once again tied to her friend/family group.  The girl that's missing is dating Nic's high school ex and it turns out she was obsessed with the Corrine disappearance.

Interesting thing about this book: It's told backward.  It starts out with a short introduction and then we jump to 2 weeks into the future and work our way back.  You would think that reading a Mystery backward would not work-- I mean, that's what I was thinking at first-- but I was wrong.  Apparently, you can totally start at the end and go backward and still somehow still feel like you are moving forward TOWARDS something???  Well, this author can do that for you anyway.

You know what will get me every time?  The enigmatic, addicting, charismatic, best friend.  Corrine is missing before the book starts, but she's larger than life on these pages.  Every time there is a Corrine in a book, I find myself drawn in.  Why do I like a character that is mysterious and equal parts alluring & dangerous??  I have no idea.  It's not like these characters are really ever likable.  They're the ones using the nice girl's secrets against her.  They're the ones pulling all the strings-- and when something bad happens to them, I think we're supposed to feel like they had it coming?  All I ever feel is that I wish I knew them too.

The other cast of characters in this book weren't bad either.  From the brother and his wife to the ex-boyfriends and the neighbor.  I liked getting to know and suspect them all.  The part that really threw me was the father.  He's in a nursing home and has some sort of dementia, but he KNOWS something.  That part of the mystery I loved trying to unravel.  It made the book all the more complicated and muddled.

Recently I've been reading a lot of Adult Mystery/Thrillers, and I have to say if I find more like this one, it may become a habit.  There are flashbacks to high school days, and that brought the YA aspects in that I personally like to read about.  Megan Miranda was already cemented as one of my fave authors-- and now she's proving me right every time!!

OVERALL: YES!!  I loved this backward mystery!!  It's told from Day 15 to Day 1 and it is done so well.  I will recommend this to both Adult and YA readers because I think it has some crossover appeal.  Put Megan Miranda on your auto-buy list and you won't be sorry.

Date Published: 6/26/2016
How I got this book: Library
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Add it to your To-Read List!!

My Rating: 5/5

Character: Nicolette Farrell
Book: What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen

  • Nicolette is a fan of "starting over" and I could totally see her using different variations of her name in the different towns she's lived in.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Welcome to the FFBC: Dive Smack by Demetra Brodsky-- Interview + Giveaway

Dive Smack

by Demetra Brodsky
Publisher: TorTeen
Release Date: June 19, 2018
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
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Theo Mackey only remembers one thing for certain about the fire that destroyed his home: he lit the match.

Sure, it was an accident. But the blaze killed his mom and set his dad on a path to self-destruction. Everything else about that fateful night is full of gaping holes in Theo’s mind, for good reason. Maybe it’s better that way. As captain of the Ellis Hollow Diving Team, with straight A's and solid friends, he's only one semester away from securing a scholarship, and leaving his past behind.

But when a family history project gets assigned at school, new memories come rushing to the surface, memories that make him question what he really knows about his family, the night of the fire, and if he can trust anyone—including himself.


The favorites are always the hardest. What is this thing called favorite that you speak of. Give me all the things! 

Favorite Book?

 If I were stranded on a deserted island, I'd want The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley. Strangely,  even though I write thrillers, I'm drawn to historical fiction. I think it's why I have a deep love for character backstory. My other favorites authors are Gillian Flynn, Megan Abbott, Jennifer McMahon, Jeffrey Eugenides, V.C. Andrews. Books about dark family secrets inspire me the most. 

Favorite TV show? 

Supernatural, but the early seasons when Sam and Dean were hunting demons. I love the dialogue between the brothers. I also loved Hannibal and Teen Wolf. If I had to pick TV Show comp titles for Dive Smack, Hannibal meets Teen Wolf would definitely be my picks. I studied the relationship between Will Graham and Dr. Lector religiously before I wrote Theo and Dr. Maddox. And with Teen Wolf, Dylan O'Brien is my perfect pick for an on-screen Chip Langford.  I also never miss Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. 

Favorite movie? 

JAWS! I watch it every year on my birthday unless something else comes up. We got to the beach, I get a Lobster roll, and we go home beaten by the sun and sea and watch Jaws. It feels like a really long vacation, even though it's only one day. A couple of years ago it rained and I we to the movies instead. It wasn't the same. I can't even remember what we watch. I grew up in Massachusetts and have spent time on Martha's Vineyard where the movie was filmed. I've always loved it and feel like it transports me back to my summers going to Cape Cod. In the winter, as soon as Thanksgiving is over, though, I'm begging everyone in my family to watch It's A Wonderful Life. I guess I have seasonal loves. 

Your Favorite Song? 

I guess Ramble On, but Led Zeppelin comes as close to a favorite as I can think, and Theo listens to it in Dive Smack while he's running toward the cemetery in the first act of the book. But truthfully, I'm a bit of an audiophile, not unlike Dr. Maddox in Dive Smack. I love everything from Jazz to Hip-Hop, but I'm most drawn to songs that tell stories rather than the ones that just hook and beat. 

Favorite Food? 

Donuts. A new place opened in my town and they make strawberry cheesecake donuts, and banana cream pie donuts. It's a dangerous place. 

Name 3 fictional places you would move to in a heartbeat. 

Wonderland, The Isle of Avalon, and Olympus. 

What were your favorite books when you were growing up (childhood or teen years)?

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton, V.C. Andrews Flowers in the Attic. I didn't grow up with a lot of books in my house, except for encyclopedias and some Greek Mythology coffee table books. My parents are immigrants and my mother can't read, so I had to get books from the school library. My parents definitely encouraged my sisters and I to read, though. They wanted us to love books and we all do. It's really special to my mom that I became a writer, and when I found out that Dive Smack was chosen as a Junior Library Guild Selection, I cried. If it weren’t for librarians, I wouldn't be a writer or a lover of books today. 

Favorite Quote?

My favorite quote is a Greek one that heard growing up, it translates into "If you want to eat fish, you have to get your butt wet." It makes me laugh, but also reminds me to work hard toward my goal. 

What do you find yourself “Fangirling” over? 

I fangirl pretty hard over Supernatural and Gillian Flynn books. 

What recent book would you recommend to our YA fans? 

I got to read an ARC of #MURDERTRENDING by Gretchen McNeil and I'm crazy for that book. It comes out in August and I hope everyone reads it and loves it as much as I do. 


Could you tell our Book Addicts a little bit about DIVE SMACK?

Dive Smack is about Theo Mackey, a springboard diver who gets assigned a family history project at school that forces him to dig into his mother’s past where he uncovers things that he shouldn’t. It’s as much about his mother’s story as his own, but telling you more would ruin all the fun twists and surprises I have in store for readers. Just know that the springboard diving is used as a metaphor for Theo’s life spiraling out of control. 

What 3 hashtags would you most associate with your book? (Could be a word or phrase or anything that would instantly make you think of DIVE SMACK.) 

This is such a fun question. 

Do you have any favorite books/movies/tv shows that feature swimming and/or diving? 

Staying Fat for Sarah Byrns and Period 8, both by Chris Crutcher feature swimmers uncovering dark secrets.  I love both of those books. He’s a phenomenal writing. Back On The Board is an incredible documentary about Greg Louganis. I’ve been a fan since I was young and he’s mention in Dive Smack. I highly recommend it. The two YA movies that I love, featuring swimmers, are Swimfan (2002) and The Covenant (2006) features a swim team, but isn’t about swimming, specifically, much like Dive Smack. 

Honestly, diving/swimming aside, I’ve always thought of Dive Smack as a mash up of Hannibal (the TV show) and Teen Wolf, so I’m including those for readers to think about, too. 

Can you tell us 5 random facts about Theo?

He would do anything for his friends.
He likes his best friend Chip’s house better than his own.
He’s afraid of failure.
His crush on Iris Fiorello is hardcore.
He does the right thing even when he doesn’t want to. 
He has two moles on his face.
He likes classic rock.
His car is named after Bumblebee the Transformer.
His teammates call him The Big Mack because he’s tall for a diver.

Oops, you only asked for five. I got carried away. 

Tell us your favorite quote from DIVE SMACK.

I don’t have a single favorite so I’ll share a short excerpt that doesn’t contain spoilers that still makes me laugh. 

“I stand on the board and take a deep breath. Some people like the smell of freshly mowed grass, barbecue, even gasoline. I swear this one kid in my English class loves the smell of his own armpits. But for me, it’s chlorine.”

Is there a specific scene that you had the most fun to write?  Or which part was the most difficult to get through?

The diving scenes were the hardest to write because I’m not a springboard diver and it took a lot of research. The title scene in Dive Smack was one of the hardest to write, but also the most fun. When a diver hits the water going 35 MPH there is definitely a lot of pain involved, but how that scene unfolds from that moment is one of my absolute favorites. I'd tell you more but there are too many spoilers and I want readers to see that unfold in their minds.

If you had to pick one song to be the Theme Song for DIVE SMACK– Which one would you pick?

Scumbag Blues by Them Crooked Vultures. It’s featured on the Dive Smack Spotify Playlist. 

Are there any recommendations you could give your readers to be in the “perfect mood” to read DIVE SMACK (specific music, snacks…)? 

I can do you one better and give you the link for the Dive Smack Spotify playlist that features songs that are mentioned in the book and that inspired me while writing:
French fries are the perfect snack while reading Dive Smack. You’ll see why when you start reading.  

What’s next for you? 
At the moment, my projects are slightly under wraps, but I can say I have a YA thriller about alien abduction out on submission at the moment, and I’m also working with my editor at Tor Teen on another thriller proposal about siblings, and maybe the end of the world as we know it. I’d tell you more, but . . . I’m a thriller writer and you know how that saying goes. But please, stay tuned for things to come
Thanks so much for chatting with us!!

Thank you so much for having it. These questions were a lot of fun!

Demetra Brodsky is an award-winning graphic designer & art director turned writer. She has a B.F.A from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design and lives in Southern California with her family of four and two lovable rescue dogs. Dive Smack, her debut novel, is dedicated to Pumpkin, the monarch butterfly she once saved from the brink of death. Once you read the book, you’ll understand why. She is a first generation Greek-American and a member of International Thriller Writers. Dive Smack is a 2018 Junior Library Guild Selection.

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