Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday-- Books I'm No Longer Interested In

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 (February 20th) I'm one of them :)

Today's Topic

Top Ten Books I've Decided I'm No Longer Interested In Reading

  • Ahh, this is a tough one.  I hate admitting that I'm not interested in books I was once really excited about.  It feels like a fail for some reason.  BUT there's no point in wasting time reading books that just don't sound like ME.  And after reading so many reviews, sometimes aspects of the books come out that make me take pause.  Also, sometimes I read one book by an author and realize their writing might not be for me.  These are those books:

1.  The Graces (#1) by Laure Eve- I was attracted to this by the beautiful cover, but MEH.  I've definitely read a lot of uninspired reviews about this book saying it was just OK.  It's made me feel kind of BLAH about it.

2.  All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater- I super love Maggie, but this book just doesn't sound like a ME book.

3.  The Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie West- I haven't been in the mood to read a YA Romance in FOREVER, so I don't think I'm going to be down to read any of Kasie West's stuff anytime soon.  Adding to that, I don't think I'm much a fan of the "fake boyfriend" trope.

4.  At the Edge of the Universe by Shaun David Hutchinson- I started reading this, but it's almost 500 pages and I didn't really care for how it started off.

5.  Say You'll Remember Me by Katie McGarry- I quit the Pushing the Limits series because the over-the-top romance got on my nerves.  This one sort of sounds like the same trope of GOOD GIRL/BAD BOY :(

6.  Given to the Sea by Mindy McGinnis- I really love the writing in the Mindy McGinnis books I have read so far, but that isn't enough to keep me interested in this Fantasy about sea magic.

7.  Easy by Tammara Weber- I don't think NA is ever going to be for me.  I had heard good things about this one, but it just sounds cringey now.

8.  The Way it Hurts by Patty Blount- This book and the next one are a case of me reading one of the author's books and not being impressed.  Maybe I'm wrong, but it seems like these 2 authors' writing are not for me.

9.  How Zoe (Mostly) Made Her Dreams Come True by Sarah Strohmeyer

10.  Carry On by Rainbow Rowell- MEH.  I still don't understand what this book is. Is it Cath's fanfic?  Is it the Simon Snow books that her fanfic was based on?  Is it just Rainbow Rowell writing about characters from Fangirl??  And why is it not from the beginning of the Simon Snow story?

Which books are you pulling off your TBR??

Monday, February 19, 2018

Welcome to the Club: I Stop Somewhere by T.E. Carter-- Interview w/ the Editor + Giveaway

I Stop Somewhere

by T.E. Carter
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Release Date: February 27, 2018
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
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Ellie Frias disappeared long before she vanished.

Tormented throughout middle school, Ellie begins her freshman year with a new look: she doesn't need to be popular; she just needs to blend in with the wallpaper.

But when the unthinkable happens, Ellie finds herself trapped after a brutal assault. She wasn't the first victim, and now she watches it happen again and again. She tries to hold on to her happier memories in order to get past the cold days, waiting for someone to find her.

The problem is, no one searches for a girl they never noticed in the first place.

TE Carter's stirring and visceral debut not only discusses and dismantles rape culture, but it also reminds us what it is to be human.

I was super happy to get the chance to interview the editor of this book.  I've never had a chance to talk to an editor about the process, so this was exciting!!  So, okay everyone-- meet Anna Roberto, editor at Feiwel and Friends:

You can follow her on Twitter: @anna_roberto



I think we can all agree, choosing ONE favorite book is impossible. But if I had to pick something, it would be Down a Dark Hall by Lois Duncan. It was the book that showed me reading was fun, and that is invaluable to me. 


Meet Me in St. Louis and While You Were Sleeping. Great casts, great dialogue. Also, great holiday movies!


I eat a lot of cereal. But, like, for dessert. Is that something anyone else does?

TV Show?

30 Rock and Arrested Development and now—THE GOOD PLACE. It’s utterly hilarious, everyone. GO WATCH IT!

Fave books from childhood?

Oh, where do I even begin?! Blubber by Judy Blume, Down a Dark Hall (and ALL Lois Duncan books), Catherine, Called Birdy by Karen Cushman, Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls, Muggie Maggie by Beverly Cleary, and pretty much any picture book my school librarian read (she was Brinkerhoff Elementary’s finest!).


What is your favorite part about your job?

I am definitely a more collaborative editor, so working with the author to get everything where it needs to be can be such a fun experience. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a lot of work, but it’s super rewarding. To see that spark of an idea jump into an author’s mind is the best! When that happens, I feel I’ve done my job. 

Also, reading was a HUGE part of my life when I was a teen. It was my space--where I was the most happy. So to be putting out books that could be that for another reader—that means a lot. 

Can you tell us about some of the projects you’ve been a part of?

I work on all genres and age ranges, so I’ve had my hands on many exciting things. Some highlights are (obviously I Stop Somewhere!) Staying Strong by Demi Lovato, Boys Don’t Knit by T.S. Easton, Cat Knit by Jacob Grant, Words and Your Heart by Kate Jane Neal—to name just a few. 

What kind of things do you look for in submissions?  Do you have a certain type of book you like to edit?

I’m all over the place in terms of types of books I edit, so I’m not really occupying just one lane. That would get pretty boring for an editor! I think in one month I bought a dark thriller and then a picture book about a goat, so it’s a mixed bag over here. 

I do look for strong commercial voice and a hook that will set it apart for other books in the market. At the end of the day, this is a business, so we have to put books out there that will engage a broad range of readers. 

Can you tell us a fun/funny publishing story?

My entire hiring story is pretty entertaining. Beginning with getting stuck in an elevator and yelling for help, curtsying to Jean Feiwel, and ending with getting back in an elevator with Ted Danson. I got the job, so I like to think he’s my good luck charm. It’s one of my biggest regrets that I didn’t tell him the Cheers theme song is top 3 TV theme songs in my book.  

Are you a writer, or would you ever consider writing something in the future?

 I am 100% NOT a writer. I can write flap copy and that’s about it. I like talking about what I’ve read and giving it some deep thought. But if I ever had to write a book, I would fall over and die. I don’t have the discipline to be like, “Time to write 100,000 words!” I respect writers who not only sit down and write—but write something so deep and raw that you feel it in your bones. That is magic to me. 

When reading through potential books, what is one thing you would consider a deal breaker?

I never shy away from a fixer-upper if the voice is there and the author is willing to dig in and get to work. However, the one thing I can’t get past is an inorganic teen or middle grade voice. Plot you can fix. Voice—you either have it or you don’t. 

Can you tell us a little about I STOP SOMEWHERE?

I will let our copy speak for itself

Tormented throughout middle school, Ellie begins her freshman year with a new look: she doesn’t need to be popular; she just needs to blend in with the wallpaper.

But when the unthinkable happens, Ellie finds herself trapped after a brutal assault. She wasn't the first victim and now she watches it happen again and again. She tries to hold on to her happier memories in order to get past the cold days, waiting for someone to find her.

The problem is, no one searches for a girl they never noticed in the first place.

I Stop Somewhere is many things: heartbreaking, raw, haunting, gripping, lyrical, powerful, important. I think one of the most compelling piece of this novel (for me, at least) is that TE Carter writes so cuttingly about what it is to be human. Who we are, what we’re doing. Why we act the ways we do. What people expect from us. It’s a real character study but told in such a beautiful way that it feels like poetry. 

What about I STOP SOMEWHERE drew you in?

 Hands-down, the voice and the writing. 

If you could give I STOP SOMEWHERE a theme song, what would you pick?

To me, it feels like “Twentytwofourteen” by The Album Leaf. I don’t think a song with vocals could really capture what this novel is. 

Is it more challenging to work on a book that’s as emotional as I STOP SOMEWHERE than it would be a book with a light-hearted theme?

Every single book comes with its own challenges. No matter what I’m working on, when I finish an edit, I’m completely drained. I then run away, watch TV, and eat 4 bowls of cereal to recharge. Critical thinking uses up a lot of brain power! I think this particular type of project definitely comes with a sense of seriousness that maybe editing a lighter book doesn’t. I’m definitely not chuckling through this book as I work. I’m circling sentences and passages that deeply move me and touch my soul (that sounds cheesey,  but it’s true!!). The way TE Carter wrote this, it’s so satisfying in a way that’s different than something light-hearted. My brain was probably lighting up in different areas because I was feeling moved and sad and SO MANY EMOTIONS. When you close a book that has truly touched you, you know it’ll stay with you for a very long time. 
With I Stop Somewhere, there’s a lot more to take care of editorially, in some respects. You feel a heavier sense of responsibility, for sure. I wanted to make sure everything was approached thoughtfully and respectfully. And honestly, TE Carter initially submitted such a tight manuscript that we didn’t even do that much overall work. It was fine-tuning throughout and that’s it. She wrote a powerful author note, we put out heads together for a discussion guide—a lot of work went into this book to make it a complete package. I feel very honored and proud to have worked on this with TE Carter—she has a way with expression that I couldn’t even dream of before I read this.  

Thanks so much Anna!!!  I'm a big Lois Duncan fan too :)  And cereal is my GO-TO when I need a snack.  I can't wait to read I STOP SOMEWHERE and feel all the emotions for myself!

TE Carter was born in New England and has lived in New England for pretty much her entire life. Throughout her career, she’s done a lot of things, although her passion has always been writing. When she’s not writing, she can generally be found reading classic literature, playing Xbox, organizing her comic collection, or binge watching baking competitions. She continues to live in New England with her husband and their two cats.

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Thursday, February 15, 2018

Blog Tour Review: Payback on Poplar Lane by Margaret Mincks

Payback on Poplar Lane

by Margaret Mincks
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
Release Date: January 30, 2018
Genre: Middle Grade, Humor
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ABC's Shark Tank meets The Terrible Two when a pair of sixth grade entrepreneurs compete to become top mogul on their block.

Twelve-year-old Peter Gronkowski prides himself on being a professional businessman. Tired of the clichéd lemonade stands that line his block, he decides to start a better business with the help of an intern. But his intern of choice, the quiet and writerly Rachel Chambers, turns out to be more than he bargained for. Rachel is innovative, resourceful, driven--and when she's had enough of Peter's overbearing management style, she decides to start a competing empire next door. As their rivalry and sabotage tactics become more outrageous--Slander! Espionage! Lemonade threats!--Peter and Rachel ultimately learn the hard way that "nothing gold can stay" and that friendship is more important than money.

Alternating perspectives reveal what really motivates each character to win. And Peter's memos and "business tips" as well as excerpts from Rachel's melodramatic novel-in-progress generate fresh hilarity and tension at every page turn. Payback on Poplar Lane is a pitch-perfect comedy with heart, reminiscent of your favorite classic middle-grade series.

If you didn't know, I secretly read a lot of Middle Grade.  Having a 10 year old who loves to read will do that to you.  We read a lot of books together, including this one.

The book is set on a culdesac where neighbors Peter and Rachel are about to go head-to-head.  Peter is obsessed with being the next great entrpreneur.  Rachel wants to break out of her shell, but when your nickname is Puppet (due to an embarrassing incident where she froze onstage and her best friend sang her audition for her), it's easier said than done.  When she hears that Peter is looking for an intern to help with his "businesses", she thinks this could be the opportunity she's looking for.  Unfortunately, Peter is so business focused that he's not very nice or ethical.  After a falling out, Rachel decides to get her voice and her revenge by giving Peter the one thing that will hurt the most: COMPETITION.

I thought this book was super fun.  It's a younger Middle Grade-- I'd say for 5-6 graders, but it covers some pretty deep issues.  While Peter comes off as a jerk, the pressure he puts on himself because of his dad's recent unemployment was kind of heartbreaking.  We as parents don't want our kids to carry our financial burden, but that's exactly what Peter feels he has to do.  I also FELT Rachel's journey.  How can you not root for the shy girl who wants to be seen??  As a shy girl from way back, I wanted Rachel to get her glory.

There were a lot of life lessons, friendship lessons, and a overall funniness that permeated through the book.  If you can make it through halfway without wanting to punch Peter in the face, I'd say you're in for a good read.

BONUS: It's a series!!

OVERALL: I definitely recommend this to boys and girls in 5th or 6th grade.  It's co-narrated by 2 kids with unique viewpoints, and has some awesome lessons without being lessony or preachy.

Rating: 4/5

Margaret Mincks grew up the second oldest of eight kids. When she wasn't swimming, acting, making up slightly disturbing songs, or filming B-movie parodies with siblings and friends, she was writing and illustrating stories. After graduating from the University of Virginia, she moved to Chicago to perform improvisational comedy with the iO Theater. She later worked at Spider, a literary magazine for six- to nine-year-olds, as an editor. Margaret has also written for children's nonfiction series like Ripley's Believe It or Not. She now lives in Florida with her husband, young daughter, and her Staffordshire bull terrier named Reesie.

February 5 – Hermit Librarian – Playlist
February 6 – The Reading Nook Reviews – Review
February 7 – Crafty Moms Share – Review
February 8 – Hazel’s Blog – Review
February 9 – Librariel Book Reviews – Review 
February 12 – Dazzled by Books – Review
February 13 – Elegancess – Review
February 14 – Gypsy Road – Review
February 15 – Pink Polka Dot Books – Review

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday-- TV & Movie SHIPS

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 (February 13th) I'm one of them :)

Today's Topic

Top Ten Ultimate SHIPS In TV & Movies

  • I'm not a HUGE romance gal.  I don't read that many romance-centric books, and I don't go out of my way to watch swoony movies and TV shows.  BUT that hasn't stopped me from hardcore shipping certain couples.  I'm not completely a robot!!

1.  Joey & Pacey from Dawson's Creek
  • This is my number 1 OTP forever ever.  It was the OTP I didn't think I was going get, and when I got it, it was SO DAMN SATISFYING.
  • PS-- the gif below is from the K-Mart lock-in episode which is one of my very faves of the whole series.

2.  Brenda & Dylan from Beverly Hills, 90210
  • Brenda & Dylan FOREVER.  I won't entertain the Dylan/Kelly shippers.
  • They were the OTP of that show, and if Shannen Dougherty wasn't such a biotch wouldn't have gotten fired, they would've ended up together.

3.  Jughead & Betty from Riverdale
  • I've only watched season 1 so far, but OMG these 2 are adorable.

4.  Brooke & Luke from One Tree Hill
  • Unpopular ship but I don't care.
  • Brooke Davis is so much cooler than Peyton.

5.  Buffy & Pike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer (the movie) was my JAM as a kid.  And okay, maybe I'm obsessed with Luke Perry, but I love Buffy & Pike!!

6.  Felicity & Ben from Felicity
  • Asides from the whole stalking thing, I'm a Ben/Felicity shipper.
  • Seriously, who likes Noel? TEAM BEN FOREVER.

7.  Landon & Jamie from A Walk to Remember
  • Maybe it's because I LOVE Shane West & I've always really liked Mandy Moore....
  • Also, I read an article that tried to make a case that Jamie didn't really die, and it KILLED me.  I mean, yes I wish that didn't happen, but also thanks for breaking my heart all over again.

8.  Kat & Patrick from 10 Things I Hate About You
  • I love how he always has a comeback for her insults, and they soften each other out.  Plus, he did sing that song for her in public.  How can you not root for a couple when someone does that???
  • RIP Heath Ledger 😫

9.  Mattie & Jenna from 13 Going on 30
  • A movie I've seen SO many times, and it never gets old.  I love Jennifer Garner's ability to channel her inner 13 year old.
  • Plus, is there anything sweeter than loving the boy-next-door??

10.  Jody & Charlie from Center Stage
  • Cooper was SUCH a douche-- and Charlie was just waiting in the wings.  They're both sweethearts, so I'm glad she stopped being dumb about it.

Who are your fave pop culture (or bookish) couples??

Monday, February 12, 2018

Welcome Back to the Club: The Sweetest Kind of Fate by Crystal Cestari-- Interview & Giveaway

The Sweetest Kind of Fate

(Windy City Magic #2)
by Crystal Cestari
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Release Date: February 13, 2018
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Fantasy
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GREAT. I’ve somehow found myself tangled up with a siren, a mermaid, and a homicidal wicked witch who once tried to strangle me to death. Way to go, Amber!

Amber Sand, legendary matchmaker, couldn’t be more surprised when her arch nemesis, Ivy, comes asking for her help. Ivy’s sister, Iris, is getting married, and Ivy wants to prove her sister is making a huge mistake. But as Amber looks into Iris's eyes, there doesn’t seem to be a problem—Iris has clearly found her match.

It seems happily ever after is in the cards, but when Iris seeks out a dangerous, life-altering spell, it’s up to Amber and Ivy to set aside their rivalry and save the day.

While Iris is willing to put everything on the line for love, Amber continues to wrestle with her own romantic future. Her boyfriend, Charlie, is still destined for another, and no matter how hard she clings to him, fear over their inevitable breakup shakes her belief system to the core.

Because the Fates are never wrong—right?

Crystal! We are so excited to have you back!!  We loved your first book and can’t wait to catch back up with you and Amber!

Thank you so much!

What 3 recent books would you recommend to our YA fans?

Three of my most recent reads that really stuck out are Satellite by Nick Lake, Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesa Zappia, and Love, Hate & Other Filters by Samira Ahmed. Each of these touched me in a different way, but they all featured brave, heartfelt storytelling that has stayed with me past “the end”. 

What books/authors have most made an impact on you/inspired you to write?

I feel like every time I read a book, I’m always in awe of that author’s style and ability to craft a tale that’s so uniquely their own. Stories that weave magic into the everyday peak my interest more than anything else. Growing up, I was obsessed with Roald Dahl, because his stories always put seemingly ordinary characters in extraordinary circumstances. As an adult, some standout magical twist stories have included the Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer and My Lady Jane by Brodi Ashton, Cynthia Hand, and Jodi Meadows. 

 Could you tell our readers a little bit about THE SWEETEST KIND OF FATE?

I’d love to! In this sequel to The Best Kind of Magic, magical matchmaker Amber Sand faces a new romantic quandary. The sister of her nemesis is in love with a mermaid, and is willing to go to dangerous lengths to be with her girlfriend. While Amber tries to keep her safe, her own relationship with Charlie is struggling, since every time she looks into his eyes, she sees another girl. Both of these journeys really challenge Amber’s beliefs in love and whether or not the Fates are always right. 

Tell us your favorite quote from THE SWEETEST KIND OF FATE.

“Love is a surrender, giving in to the unknown and hoping for the best. But no matter how much we stumble and fall, we eventually find our way.” 

What 3 hashtags would you most associate with THE SWEETEST KIND OF FATE? (Could be a word or phrase or anything that would instantly make you think of THE SWEETEST KIND OF FATE.)

Any and all things mermaid have been catching my eye!

Since the series is set in Chicago— can you tell us 3 cool must-see stops in Chicago that we might not know about?

The Chicago Riverwalk is not top secret, but it’s become a nice spot to go for a walk, grab a bite, or paddle a kayak, plus it offers really unique views of the city. I also love going to indie boutiques and bookstores, like the Book Cellar in Lincoln Square. But most importantly, there is a bakery in Lincoln Park called Sweet Mandy B’s; they make the most drool-worthy desserts ever, and was the inspiration for Amber’s favorite bakery, MarshmElla’s! 

If you could have one magical talent, what would it be?

Teleportation! I’ve set a goal for myself to see more of the world, and that would help me do it much faster!

Hogwarts House (for you and/or your book characters)??

Hmm, I feel pretty confident that I’d fit in nicely in Hufflepuff, and I think sweet little Charlie would be there with me.  Amber and her bestie Amani are very brave and have no trouble standing up for what they believe in, so Gryffindor feels like their home. And Ivy, well, it may be cliché to place a villain in Slytherin, but hey, if the shoe fits! 

If you had to pick one song to be the Theme Song for THE SWEETEST KIND OF FATE (or the series in general) – Which one would you pick?

When I first starting writing The Best Kind of Magic, Justin Timberlake’s “Not a Bad Thing” felt like the perfect song from Charlie to Amber. She is such an advocate for love, yet has such a hard time accepting it for herself. I think the themes of that song—allowing yourself to let good things into your life—apply to several of the characters in this story too.  

What’s next for you?

I am currently scribbling away on several ideas that I hope to share soon! 

With rainbows in my hair and stories in my head, I am a writer drawn to magic in the everyday world.

My debut novel, The Best Kind of Magic, arrives May 16, 2017 from Hyperion. Follow Amber Sand, a magical matchmaker who can actually see true love, as she takes off on a fun and romantic adventure toward happily ever after.

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