Thursday, June 30, 2011

Meet the Characters of Lisa Schroeder!

Instead of just taking one or two characters... or heck, even characters from one book, I snagged a few of Lisa Schroeder's (wonderful) characters to do a quick interview. I have to admit, I always find it interesting what characters authors use for my questions, but they always seem to make me grin and Lisa is no different. So with that, and in celebration of her latest release The Day Before, I bring you guys another multicharacter interview!

Describe your perfect first date.

Ava from I Heart You, You Haunt Me: Oh, that’s easy. Because my first date with Jackson was just that.

First we went out for dinner (Chinese), and it was great because we both liked the same things - cashew chicken and beef with broccoli. When we opened our fortune cookies, I couldn’t believe what it said. “Someone is about to sweep you off your feet.” Jackson asked me to read it to him and when my cheeks turned pink, and I said no, he grabbed it out of my hands and read it himself. When we left the restaurant, he scooped me up into his arms in the parking lot and carried me to the car. “I guess fortunes really do come true,” he said while I laughed my head off.

After that, he took me out for frozen yogurt, and since it was next to a bookstore, of course we went there too. He bought me two novels I’d been dying to read plus a little bag of candy.

See? Perfect.

You find Narnia in your closet! What do you do?

Blaze from Far From You: I find that white witch and tell her where to go, you know? She is like seriously effed up. Then I go in search of Aslan, because Alice loves him and she’d be pissed if I went to Narnia and didn’t find Aslan. Talk to him. Although I’m not quite sure what I’d say to a talking lion. He seems like so much more, you know? God-like almost.

You're dropped into a room full of Death Eaters! What do you do?

Nico from Chasing Brooklyn: I’d do what I always do. Run. I would run the hell away from there as fast as I possibly could.

If you could become any paranormal creature, what would it be?

Amber from The Day Before: If you know me at all, you know I love books and movies, but I’m all about realistic fiction. I’ve just never been able to get into the paranormal stuff. I mean, I know a lot of people love it, and that’s fine. But me, not so much. So this is a really hard question to answer.

Let’s see. Vampire? No way. I hate the sight of blood. Werewolf? Ew. Stinky. Um, fairy? Maybe. Could I be a cool fairy? Like, a fairy in a band? Carries her drum sticks around in a little satchel when she flies?

Yeah, I’ll go with that. A cool fairy. 

What kind of cake/confection would you describe yourself as? 

Cade from The Day Before: Come on. What kind of question is that? You seriously want me to describe myself as a confection?

Let’s see. I just met Amber. Amber likes jelly beans. I dig Amber.

So… I’m gonna go with jelly beans. I think she said one of her favorites is lemon. A little sweet, a little sour. Yep. That’s totally me.

So there you have it! From dates to Death Eaters, there's a glimpse at the true personalities of some of Lisa's fantastic characters. Now be sure you guys all pick up The Day Before, out this week, along with Lisa's other books! You do not want to miss any of them.

Book Review: A Scary Scene in a Scary Movie by Matt Blackstone

SUMMARY: Rene, an obsessive-compulsive fourteen year old, smells his hands and wears a Batman cape when he’s nervous. If he picks up a face-down coin, moves a muscle when the time adds up to thirteen (7:42 is bad luck because 7 + 4 + 2 = 13), or washes his body parts in the wrong order, Rene or someone close to him will break a bone, contract a deadly virus, and/or die a slow and painful death like someone in a scary scene in scary movie. Rene’s new and only friend tutors him in the art of playing it cool, but that’s not as easy as Gio makes it sound.


The Short Version:
Exhausting yet real, A Scary Scene in a Scary Movie throws the reader straight into a boy's OCD mind without hesitation. Highly distinct in voice, but a little too narrated with not quite enough action and dialogue to break things up, the OCD focus of this one has a unique way of building not only Rene has a character but the world as he sees it and experiences it. Though falling into a lull at times, the overall plot has a steady pace that centers on a few specific aspects that are well tied together.

The Extended Version:
Rene is that kid who is a little off, but not in a way that anyone can specifically pinpoint. Having no friends, a home life that isn't the best, and a very hard time truly relating to people, Rene has plenty against him yet his desire to overcome that is strong and admirable from the start. His mind is a truly exhausting place, repetitive in regards to not only some actions but phrases as well, and it adds both a sympathetic note to him as well as understanding to what he truly goes through. His overall character development has a good progression, not just in regards to the OCD but his social skills as well, making this a coming of age type novel hidden within something bigger.

Gio is the friend he does make, a cracker jack himself that has his own unique way of seeing the world but also carries himself in a way that exudes his confidence. Quirky in a way nearly as extreme as Rene, but friendly with most everything, Gio plays a large role in the story without overshadowing or sidestepping Rene. Even the forming friendship between these two added a great element to the book

The plot overall has a pretty steady pace, slowing in only a few places. Though centered very much on Rene and his circuitous thoughts, especially in the first chunk of the book, it is well worth it to barrel through the heavy narration to keep with the depth of the book. Mixing in normal teen problems with Rene's OCD, and even his lower maturity that is intimately tied into the disorder, Blackstone has definitely made a boy book that will hit with a female readership as well.

The writing is solid and absolutely spectacular in voice. Rambling and often falling off on tangents, yet not letting them last too long to completely confuse or lose the reader, Blackstone has built not only Rene's mindset and personality but the nature of OCD in a realistic and fantastic way. Rene is blunt and honest in that way which is almost humorous, saying the things that you want to say or even just blatantly missing something that someone is really saying. This is all pitched in a very smooth way, letting the reader see both the external reactions and Rene's inner thoughts and responses to things. Full of life, laughs, and emotion, the writing carries this book strongly.

Overall, this one is well worth the read. Though hefty in concept, this one is humorous more than anything while still getting its points and messages across. Casting light on not only the way people with OCD live, but driving the point home that not every case is the same, A Scary Scene in a Scary Movie is a good debut that is worth the read. 

Source: ARC received from author/publisher in exchange for an honest review 
Reading level: Young Adult 
Hardcover: 256 pages 
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Publication Date: July 5, 2011

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Author Interview: Julie Halpern

Stopping in today is Don't Stop Now author Julie Halpern! This book is a great summer read, with a fun road trip, a little mystery, and a little romance.

What was the most challenging aspect of writing in something like testing love over a friendship on the backdrop of something serious like finding a friend?

I don’t think of my writing as a challenge. It’s more like a discovery.

If you could pair Lili and Josh with any character from any book, what would be your pick for them?

I rarely remember book characters when needed. I read too much and have a terrible memory. Bad answer, I know.

What is the one song that always takes you back to the high school years every time you hear it?

Kokomo by The Beach Boys. I thought it was godawful

What god/goddess would be your nemesis?

Hades. I hate what he did to Persephone.

What kind of cookie would you describe yourself as?

An M&M cookie topped with sprinkles.

Thank you, Julie, for answering my questions and congrats on another release!

Don't Stop Now is already on shelves, so be sure you guys pick it, and Julie's other titles, up today!

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine.

This week's pick is The Rivals by Daisy Whitney, set to hit shelves February 6, 2012 from Little, Brown.

Summary: When Alex Patrick was assaulted by another student last year, her elite boarding school wouldn’t do anything about it. This year Alex is head of the Mockingbirds, a secret society of students who police and protect the student body. While she desperately wants to live up to the legacy that’s been given to her, she’s now dealing with a case unlike any the Mockingbirds have seen before.

It isn’t rape. It isn’t bullying. It isn’t hate speech. A far-reaching prescription drug ring has sprung up, and students are using the drugs to cheat. But how do you try a case with no obvious victim? Especially when the facts don’t add up, and each new clue drives a wedge between Alex and the people she loves most: her friends, her boyfriend, and her fellow Mockingbirds.

As Alex unravels the layers of deceit within the school, the administration, and even the student body the Mockingbirds protect, her struggle to navigate the murky waters of vigilante justice may reveal more about herself than she ever expected.

My Thoughts: I loved The Mockingbirds, and I adore Daisy's writing. This is one I absolutely cannot wait for this one. Even more? I love that a more intangible crime is being used for the focus of this one, and it's going to build up what is already set up without taking away from the huge messages set forth in the first book. And adding to all this even more is the fact that at least going by the summary, it will still focus very much on Alex, her development, and who she really is, even with everything else going on. I expect this book to be fantastic! As for the cover... I love that it fits with the first book's, and has that same simplicity while still being appealing. The dog makes me think too, especially about loyalty. All in all, I need this book. February is WAY too far away.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Character Introduction: Luc from Torn

This time, we're doing something a little different. Instead of me asking questions to today's character of honor, this guy is just going to introduce himself to you. Something short and sweet, but definitely full of intensity. And with that, I bring you Luc from Erica O'Rourke's Torn!

It was never supposed to be Mo Fitzgerald. Never. It was supposed to be Verity, and there’s not a man alive who would complain about that fate. But now Vee is dead, and in her place is a quiet girl with secrets of her own, trying to figure out all of mine. Back in New Orleans, there’s a war brewing, and I can’t stop it on my own.

Plenty of people are hoping she’ll take Verity’s place and save us all. If she does, she’ll have to leave her old life behind. Forever. And as much as I’m warming to the idea, Mo’s not convinced.

It’s my job to change her mind.

Thank you, Luc, for giving us a little insight into you, and congrats Erica on the release! Torn hit shelves today, so be sure you guys pick it up!

Character Tweets: The Land of Corn Chips

It's character tweet time again! Today, we've got some of the characters from Angela Carlie's MG adventure The Land of Corn Chips sharing their tweets!

Taylor11: @ChstrRulz I’ll meet ya downstairs in 2 sec

9 seconds ago

ChstrRulz: @Taylor11 uh, I guess.

21 seconds ago

Taylor11: @ChstrRulz U wanna play outside?

52 seconds ago

ChstrRulz: @Taylor11 now what?

1 minute ago

Taylor11: @ChstrRulz Hello? Sre

2 minutes ago

Taylor11: @ChstrRulz I no u r there. I can c u on the laptop on Nate’s bed.

4 minutes ago

Taylor11: @ChstrRulz u still there?

4 minutes ago

Taylor11: @ChstrRulz shut it

5 minutes ago

ChstrRulz: @Taylor11 Duh u think?

7 minutes ago

Taylor11: @ChstrRulz nvm I bet they all went outside

7 minutes ago

ChstrRulz: @Taylor11 y shd I tell u?

7 minutes ago

Taylor11: @ChstrRulz where is every1?

8 minutes ago

ChstrRulz: @Taylor11 whatevz. u asked

8 minutes ago

Taylor11: @ChstrRulz Oh… hi

9 minutes ago

ChstrRulz: @Taylor11 Im here

9 minutes ago

Taylor11: @Malevolent u guyz wrestling again? I cant find u anywhere

10 minutes ago

Taylor11: @1LgTim where r u guyz?

12 minutes ago

Taylor11: @NateGrt u there?

15 minutes ago

Thank you, Angela, for sharing the inner thoughts and tweets of your characters!

Make sure you guys all check out this MG, available now!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Author Interview: Karyn Henley

Here today is Breath of Angel author Karyn Henley to answer a few of my usually quirky questions!

You're dropped into a horror movie with your characters! What happens, and does anyone die?

If characters in Breath of Angel were in a horror movie, the draks (birds with human hands) would attack violently with much spine-tingling screeching when least expected. And everyone would die shocking and unexpected deaths – everyone, that is, except my protagonist and her romantic interest, both of whom would barely escape.

What would be the hardest part for you to be in Melaia's position?

I have always found it difficult to be interrupted and change what I’m doing at a moment’s notice, so I think the hardest part of being in Melaia’s position would be changing my plans. She thinks she knows how her life is going to play out, but time and again, she has to reconsider, sometimes on a moment’s notice, and change direction.

If you could pair Melaia with any character from any book, who would you pick for her?

If I were to pair Melaia with a girl who would be her friend, I would choose Aly from Tamora Pierce’s Trickster’s Choice. Aly has a family background that gives her a level of experience and insight that Melaia would find tremendously helpful. I think she would like Aly. Melaia develops a romantic relationship during Breath of Angel that grows in the sequels, but if I were to pair her with a guy who might rival that affection, it might be North from Alexandra Bracken’s Brightly Woven. He’s powerful but not flawless, and I think they would make each other richer for the relationship.

You're turned into a mythical creature! What are you?

Ah, this one is easy. I’m a winged horse. I think it would be fantastic to be able to both fly and gallop wild and free – and be as beautiful as a horse with wings.

What kind of cell phone would you describe yourself as?

I’m a very common cell phone that doesn’t do anything else but phone calls. I would connect with other phones only when it’s absolutely necessary. (I love people, but I’m very shy.)

Thank you, Karyn, for answering my questions and congrats on the release!

Breath of Angel is out now so make sure you guys all check it out!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Character Tweets: Sharks & Boys by Kristen Tracy

It's time for some more character tweets, this time featuring the cast of Kirsten Tracy's soon to be released Sharks & Boys! This one is a little different, though, since Kristen's characters don't actually have access to Twitter what with the whole adrift at sea in a life raft thing. In it's place, Kristen has given them mental Twitter accounts, so to speak, and I have to say, even just this small section definitely gives you some good personality vibes. And yes, that is indeed one girl and seven guys. Lucky? Maybe. You'll have to read the book to find out!

Enid: I am so thirsty. I miss water.

Landon: I miss more than that.

Dale: Son of a bitch! This sucks!

Munny: I can tell by the sun that it’s noon.

Sov: I think I’m entering the first stage of hypothermia.

Skate: My head hurts.

Burr: The Coast Guard will be here soon.

Wick: This can’t last forever.

Enid: What if it does?

Thank you, Kristen, for the awesome post and congrats on another fun release!

This one hits shelves Tuesday so make sure you check it out!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Character Interview: Curtis from Fairy Bad Day

Yep, it's that time again: in which I get to interview a hot YA boy! Today's charmer is Curtis, a dragon slayer from Amanda Ashby's Fairy Bad Day. So check out the interview, and find out the answers to some of my most burning hot boy dragon slayer questions.

When you were designated as the dragon slayer, what was your first thought?

I actually felt really bad because I knew how much Emma wanted to slay dragons (and don’t tell her that I said this, but the girl is wicked with a sword in her hand). So I tried to talk Kessler out of the idea. Unfortunately, I quickly learnt that trying to tell the principal of your slaying academy how to do their job is NOT a good idea and so I didn’t feel like I had much of a choice. Especially since my only other alternative would’ve been to leave Burtonwood. Not something that I wanted to do.

What was your first impression of Emma?

My first impression of Emma was that she was focused, hard-working and could kick some major ass. Unfortunately, it wasn’t until I inadvertently took her dragon slaying spot that it turned out the only ass she wanted to kick was mine. Which meant that my secondimpression of her was a little bit different and she suddenly became belligerent, annoying and determined to give me a hard time. In truth I probably should’ve hated her for it, but the thing I could totally see how she was feeling (oh, and I wasn’t joking about the ass-kicking. She can be fierce when she wants to be).

Who is your celebrity crush?

Sam from iCarly. She’s almost as tough as Emma is, plus she makes me laugh!!!!

Describe your perfect first kiss.

My perfect first kiss would be with someone I really like. I don’t mind where we are as long as we’re together, but you know it would be nice if there was no blood, no injuries and definitely no elemental creatures trying to kill us.

What kind of cookie would you describe yourself as?

I’m an Oreo. From the outside I look like all together but sometimes I think there are two parts of me, one that I don’t like to talk about and the other one that most people see. Plus you know, I’m sweet and . . . ouch! Emma just punched me and told me not to be so cheesy. She would also like you all to know that apparently I’m not an Oreo I’m a Ritz cracker. Oh, please. I’m so not a Ritz cracker. I mean they are boring and I bet you would never see a Ritz cracker trying to slay a rogue dragon with only a sword and a dagger and . . . ouch! Seriously, enough with the punching. Anyway, Emma has just informed me that okay, so maybe I’m not a Ritz cracker but I’m definitely a chocolate-chip cookie. Okay, that sounds good to me. Er, what was the question again?

Thank you, Curtis, for taking the time out to answer my questions, and congrats, Amanda, on another release!

And now for this tour stop's scavenger hunt letter: E

Check out each of the stops on the tour and collect all the letters, then stop by Amanda's blog June 25 to unscramble the letters and enter for a fun prize pack!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Mini Reviews: Shatter Me and Bloodlines

Why yes, yes it is mini review time again! This episode's books are ones that both have a lot of buzz, and definitely did not disappoint... so let's get right to it!

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi: I have to admit, this is a book that I had to really mull over for a good while after I finished to truly appreciate it's depth and brilliance. My initial reaction was that it wasn't as engaging and grabbing as a lot of my omfg 5 star reads and yet, I could barely put it down, I wanted to know more... I was completely and utterly invested in these characters. This one is very character driven, which is what I love in most all books. Sure, the story isn't necessarily the most unique, but it is still fantastic. Even better? The writing in this one is just astounding. Yes, it's very different. Yes, it's choppy and a little bit insane. But it works because it just screams Juliette. She is one of the most distinct characters out there, in voice and personality, and her character development from start to finish is astoundingly well done, amazingly handled, and just all around phenomenal. This is a book that made me think, that pulled me in without me realizing it, and made me feel every single thing that Juliette did. Maybe she "falls too fast" for Adam to some, but I didn't see it that way. When you've gone your entire life without ever being touched, without ever even having a friend, then spent the better part of a year locked away in isolation... well, wouldn't you go insane for the first person who not only can and does touch you, but wants to? I would. And add in the holy hormones batman hot hot hot kisses and the tension that is more than sexual and lust, and this one is definitely a must read.

Bloodlines by Richelle Mead: Anyone that knows me knows that Vampire Academy is pretty much my favorite series ever. So was I both excited and scared about this spin off? Yes. But was it well worth the hype and the read? Absolutely. Richelle has such an incredible talent with story telling, with plot building, with pitching things in a way that maybe you did predict some of it, but when that reveal happens, you still feel it, you still stare wide eyed and eat up the pages. But most amazingly about this book is the voice. Vampire Academy was very sarcastic and spry, filled with Rose's take on the world attitude. Now we're in the head of Sydney, who is much quieter, much more used to being bound by rules, and very, very different from Rose. And yet, I fell right into her mentality and mindset, I was found myself right there alongside her. I didn't miss being in Rose's head. And to make it even better is the fact that Sydney's been trained to despise vampires... so now readers are going from a very pro-vampire mind to one that is instantly repulsed at even being in a room with them... and Richelle did this perfectly and amazingly, but still kept it sensitive to both sides and didn't just do away with everything she built in the Vampire Academy series. So was this book amazing and awesome? Yes. Were some of my favorite characters in it, fleshed out even more from the original series? Yes (and rawr, and yay, and yum on some...). Was I engaged from start to finish, and already begging for more? Absolutely. This is how a spin off should be done and this fangirl couldn't be happier. I loved the characters, the plot, the story, the new look at a similar world... just all of it. Fantastic.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Character Tweets and Author Interview: Jennifer Jabaley

This time I have a double feature for you guys, spotlighting Crush Control author Jennifer Jabaley! Not only is she going to answer a few of my interview questions, but she also did some characters tweets! You know, if some of her characters had twitter accounts, what the feed would look like? So here it is, the tweets then the interview!

Mia: OMG! Just got THE CALL from the head cheerleading coach at UGA! #scholarshipnews

Willow: @Mia Congrats!! That's amazing!

Georgia: @Mia You rock!

Georgia: Am bored. Watching Pretty Little Liars. Who's coming over?

Willow: @Georgia Be right there!

Max: @Willow I thought you were coming HERE!

Willow: @Max After!

Max: @Willow Not too late. I want to play my newest song and Mom complains if it's too loud after 10.

Georgia: @Max Buy her earplugs #solutions

Quinton: @Max Trent jammed the rifts for me #totallyrocks

Max: @Quinton thx. still working on it

Max: Just sitting here waiting on my girl.....

Mia: @Georgia I'm coming! Bringing English report. Did u finish?

Willow: @Mia Oh, good idea #grouphomework

Quinton: Just remembered English assignment #outahere

Willow: @Georgia I'll be there in five. Bringing Oompa #thedogisneedytonight

So there's a look at her characters, and now a look at Jennifer!

You can hypnotise any one person, for one hour. Who do you pick and what do you make them do

Well, my first instinct is to hypnotize my kids to make them into perfect little angels. No crying, no complaining, no fighting! Ahh, such a lovely dream :) But I guess I've learned from Willow and realize that hypnotizing someone for your own needs/desires is not a great idea.

Willow makes the front page (for some other than hypnotism)! What does the headline read?

Willow Grey's dog, Oompa, a fiesty Boston Terrier, wins Best Overall in the Worthington Annual Bark in the Park Contest

Emily and Willow meet up for the day. What do they do?

They get Emily's aunt Jolie and Willow's mom, Vicky together too and they all get make-overs by Jolie and Trent. Then they order in food and watch videos of Vicky's old hypnosis show.

What was the biggest difference for you between writing Lipstick Apology and Crush Control?

I wrote Lipstick Apology on my own, got agent representation then sold it to Razorbill. Then I went through rounds of revisions with my editor. With Crush Control, I was contracted based on a synopsis so my editor and I worked from the ground up building the plot points together. Having editorial guidance from the earliest stages made the entire writing experience much quicker and laser focused.

If you could pair Willow, Max and Quinton with any character from any book, what would be your picks for each?

Willow - Peeta from the Hunger Games - b/c Peeta is a romantic and I think he would take care of Willow even when she gets herself into trouble

Max - Anna from Anna and the French Kiss - they're both from Georgia so they have that southern connection and I think Anna would appreciate the musician and creativity in Max

Quinton - Belly from Jenny Han's Summer Series - Quinton is a bit preppy, loves sports and the beach and I think he and Belly would hit it off

If you were a demigod, what god/goddess would be your parent?

I would love if Athena was my Goddess mother. She was the goddess of wisdom but also the Greeks worshipped her as a patroness of arts and crafts because she was skilled at spinning and weaving. I love the idea of being from a bloodline that has strengths both in intellectual abilities as well as creativity. The perfect balance.

What kind of cake/confection would you describe yourself as?

One time in an interview for a local cable news channel, the interviewer asked if my writing style was like my personality. I answered, 'Yes, both are light and fluffy." While I was mortified at the time, it IS kind of true :) So I think a light and fluffy maybe an angel cake?

Thank you, Jennifer, for those answers, and congrats on another great release!

Crush Control is out now, so make sure you guys all go pick it up! And don't you love the colors on that cover?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Celebrating A Need so Beautiful with Random Acts of Kindness

Out today is a book that is not only a favorite of mine, but a powerful and poignant one that will resonate with many. To celebrate this book, I've teamed up with several other authors, writers and bloggers to bring you guys some amazing stories and awesome giveaways.

So what book is all this for? A Need so Beautiful by Suzanne Young.

But this isn't just any celebration. Nope. To keep in line with the most notable element of the book, we're all making a post about how someone's self sacrifice or random act of kindness has changed our life.

And I have to admit, this is actually really hard to think of. Yes, there are people who have had an impact on me, but to have truly changed my life? That one took more thought, because yes, my parents have made plenty of sacrifices, and some friends have had some big roles in my life... but some of the bigger life changing events for me weren't born from self sacrifice of others or kindness, but bad events that ended up maybe not so bad down the road. Someone came to mind, often, but I just didn't know who to write about. Maybe the main reason why I debated so hard is because the most notable person right now truly is the very person this entire celebrating is about: Suzanne.

My friendship with Suzanne started because she was kind enough to donate a 15 page critique and the first copy of So Many Boys for charity after the Nashville flood last year. I bid on it, and won, but had absolutely no idea I was getting one of my closest friends out of it. Yet the kindness Suzanne has shown me didn't end there. Even just in emails, she can know when I'm not doing so okay, when life is kicking me a little too hard, and when maybe all I need is an email with a funky subject line and nothing more than a "thinking about you." And knowing you have someone like that, someone you can talk to any time, even when life is kicking them too, is amazing, and has honestly done so much for me.

But it didn't stop there, because out of this came the person who is my biggest supporter outside of the obligated friends in my own writing aspirations. And not just "oh you can do it," but you will do it, and you have the talent for it, and knows just when to give me that friendly kick in the pants without forcing me to keep pushing along. Maybe it's because I don't want all she's done for me writing wise to go to waste, but no matter how much I might put it off and procrastinate, I can't imagine just giving up completely on wanting to eventually be a published authors. And I know without a doubt that Suzanne is the number one reason for that. She has put me on a new playing field, given me so much more insight into my own writing, my revisions, everything... and my biggest passion right now is writing, and I owe so much of that to Suzanne.

So this post, and this entire celebration and everything set up for it, is not only my way of saying a very big, gracious thank you to Suzanne, but to show how easily one of the biggest concepts of Suzanne's book fits right into real life.

And with that in mind, there is absolutely more to this post-- it is a celebration after all! Because we all want to pay it forward on the kindness, both for Suzanne and other authors, as well as for readers and aspiring writers, we are bringing you a multitude of prizes that you can win. Before I get to the prize list, however, here are all the different ways you can earn entry into the contest.

Earn one extra entry for each of the following:
Take a picture of any author's book in the wild and tweet it to me and the author
Post a positive Amazon review for a book you loved
Donate a book to a library or classroom
Tweet a good deed you plan to do this week, using the #ANeedSoBeautiful hashtag

Earn 10 extra entries for each of the following:
Take a picture of A NEED SO BEAUTIFUL in the wild and tweet it to me and Suzanne Young
Post an Amazon review for A NEED SO BEAUTIFUL
Donate a copy of A NEED SO BEAUTIFUL to a library or classroom

To enter, just fill out THIS form! Note: This is the same form no matter what blog you enter from, so please only enter once, and please wait until you have all your links, etc to enter.

Contest starts today, and ends June 28.

Now, what can you win?

Three lucky winners will get a signed copy of A Need so Beautiful, in addition to one of the following (US Only for the signed copies). The remaining prizes from below will go to one winner each. And because every participant has a different story for who has changed their life, definitely be sure you check out every one's post, then be sure to spread the kindness.

*First Chapter Critique from Lisa and Laura Roecker
*Query Letter Critique from Shannon Messenger
*Signed copy of Invincible Summer from Hannah Moskowitz
*First Chapter Critique and a Skype Chat from Keri Mikulski
*Signed copy of Tell Me a Secret with signed art print from Holly Cupala
*Signed copy of Chasing Brooklyn from Lisa Schroeder
*The Pledge Swag Pack including ARC from Kimberly Derting
*First 3 chapter critique from Jessica at Confessions of a Bookaholic
*Hourglass by Myra McEntire from Corrine at Lost for Words
*ARC of Wolfsbane from Jessi at The Elliott Review
*2 Header/Button Packs from Jessica at Hopelessly Devoted Bibliophile
*First 3 chapters Critique from Cindy at Books Complete Me
*YA Lit Swag Bag from Sara at Novel Novice
*First 15 pages Critique from me
*Signed ARC of Hereafter (to a different winner) from me
*Daisy Whitney is also giving away five copies of the book on her facebook page and blog!

So tell me, guys, what single act of kindness or self sacrifice has changed your life? And how do you plan to try to change someone else's life?

Monday, June 20, 2011

Character Tweets: A Need so Beautiful

Instead of my usual character interview, Suzanne Young has shared a little of what her characters would tweet about if they had accounts. It's hilarious, and fun and gives you a great idea about these characters. And for the record, I still so love Harlin. So hot!

CharlotteCassidy @sexahSarah Seriously???

SexahSarah @CharlotteCassidy SORRY!!!!!! My nail appointment ran late. On my way!

JustHarlin @CharlotteCassidy Told you so. @SexahSarah

SexahSarah Hey, @justHarlin! Bite me!

JustHarlin @SexahSarah Uh… no thanks. I haven’t been properly vaccinated for that.

CharlotteCassidy @SexahSarah @JustHarlin This is cute and all. But I’m standing at St. V’s freezing my ass off. Can SOMEONE pick me up? Or at least call my house!

AlextheGreat Don’t look at me. You crazy fools can figure out your own way home. @charlottecassidy

CharlotteCassidy @Alexthegreat, don’t make me beat you upside the head. Call Mercy!

AlextheGreat You smokin’ that wacky tabaccy again, sister? I have a DATE. Something you’d know more about if your boyfriend did more than drive around looking hot.

JustHarlin @alexthegreat First, thanks for the hot. Second, I’m on my way @charlotteCassidy

CharlotteCassidy Thank you, Harlin. Love you.

JustHarlin I love you, too. Forever. Forever.

SexahSarah GAG!

AlextheGreat *Pukes on @SexahSarah’s new knock-off shoes.

SexahSarah @alexthegreat THEY ARE NOT!!!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Author Interview: Jamie Lynn Braziel

Here today is Jamie Lynn Braziel, author of Declaring Spinsterhood!

Describe your main character, Emma Bailey, in four words.

Spunky, adventurous, outgoing, and empathetic

How much of yourself is in Emma?

About the only things Emma and I have in common are our love for old movies and books. She's much more empathetic than I am and is much better at flirting. I tend to clam up around guys I really like.

What's the most frustrating thing you've been told or craziest advice you've received about being single?

The most frustrating thing for me about being single is the constant questioning about why I don't have a boyfriend, when I'm going to get one, etc. A lot of people seem to think a woman can't be happy if she doesn't always have a man in her life. I had more important things to focus on besides dating such as graduate school. Homework and studying didn't leave much free time for anything else.

If you were a demigod, what god/goddess would be your parent?

Athena, the goddess of wisdom, strength, strategy, and female arts/crafts. We share a lot of similar traits. I am a very strong person, and I plan/research everything. I also love to knit, crochet, etc.

What kind of cookie would you describe yourself as?

A deliciously sweet sugar cookie with just a splash of amaretto to liven things up and frosting to make it beautiful, of course.

Thank you, Jamie, for taking the time out to answer my questions!

Make sure you guys check out Declaring Spinsterhood, especially those of you who are perfectly happy being unmarried!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Author Video Interview: Elana Johnson

Today's special blog guest is Possession author Elana Johnson, but instead of the usual written interviews, Elana was kind enough to answer in video format!

Woot! Thank you, Elana! And I think you and Percy could totally be siblings.

Now make sure you guys all check out Possession, out now!

Cover Reveal: Breaking Beautiful by Jennifer Shaw Wolf

Today, I'm lucky enough to get the chance to help 2012 debut author Jennifer Shaw Wolf reveal the cover for her book, Breaking Beautiful. This one looks fantastic, and I absolutely cannot wait to read it, but before I share the summary and what not with you, I give you the cover, since I know its what you really want too:

Is it not gorgeous? I am in love with this cover, especially the red heels contrasted against the rusting guard rail. 

This one actually has a really awesome cover story behind it, so hop over to Jennifer's blog to get the inside scoop including who the photographer was (hint: someone she knows!)!

So now for those of you who aren't sure what this amazing looking back is about, here's the summary:

Allie lost everything the night her boyfriend, Trip, died in a tragic car accident—including her memory of the event. All she has left are the scars and a sneaking suspicion that the crash wasn’t an accident after all. When the police reopen the investigation, it quickly turns on Allie and her best friend, Blake, especially as their budding romance raises eyebrows around their small town. As the threats begin and the survivor’s guilt sets in, Allie’s memories collide with a dark secret about Trip she’s kept for too long. Caught somewhere between her past and her future, Allie knows she must tell the truth. Can she reach deep enough to remember that night so she can finally break free?

Now go add it to your Goodreads shelf, and join me in waiting for this book! Also be sure to leave a comment to let Jennifer know what you think of her cover, and be sure to check her out on Twitter as well!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Character Interview: Cole from Bitter End

As much as I love interviewing hot boys, I recently had the chance to interview a guy who, while hot, is also a little harder to get behind. Why? Because despite the fact that there are good things about him, this particular boy also has a habit of hitting his girlfriend. I have to admit, this was a more challenging, but really interesting interview to do. And with that, I bring you Cole from Jennifer Brown's Bitter End.

What was it about Alex that first drew her to you, out of all the girls at your new school?

There was a certain shyness about Alex that I really liked. Not to say she was an easy mark or anything so sinister, but just that I'd been with some girls in the past who were kind of all about wanting to be with the "hot athlete," and that gets old really fast. There's always this pressure to perform, perform, perform. I was getting it at home, I got it at school, I got it from my coaches, I got it from everywhere. But I didn't get it from Alex. Plus we had a similar sense of humor, and with her being a poet, I knew I could talk to her about my songs and she wouldn't think it was stupid. She brought out a side of me I was afraid to show other people in my life. Alex, is something special.

While many readers can understand your dislike of Zack, the male best friend of your girlfriend, what is it about Bethany that sets you so on edge?

It's impossible to separate those two, Bethany and Zack. She may have seemed like she was just innocently hanging out in the background, but she was fueling things behind the scenes. She was talking to Zack, talking to Alex, trying to convince everyone that I was bad for Alex from the very beginning. She didn't like me. It was a vibe I got. And the feeling was mutual. The three of them...they're like an steel triangle. You can't penetrate it, and if you try, they try all the harder to hold you out. I just wanted to be with Alex. They kept me from that, every chance they got. They tried to turn Alex against me every chance they got. If Bethany would have just left us alone, I would have had no problem with her.

How much of your home life do you think contributes to your actions?

I guess I don't have the best home life. I don't really have much of a mom. My dad's kind of always in our faces. But I'm not going to go around crying into my beer about it. Nobody has a so-called perfect home life. This wasn't about my home life. This was about my relationship with Alex and it's complicated and I can't just point to Brenda and say, "Oh, she's the reason I am the way I am." I'm not some little wimp who always needs to blame someone for their mistakes. My home life is fine. Let's just leave it at that.

Who is your role model?

Wow, that's a tough question. I'm not sure I have one. I never really thought about that before now.

If you could say one thing to Alex, what would it be?

I'm so, so sorry. But I've said it before. She doesn't believe me anymore. I guess I can't really blame her at this point. But that doesn't make it any less true.

Knowing the impression of you readers will likely leave with, considering your role in the book, what would you want to say to them?

I know it sounds impossible, but I really do love Alex. I always will.

Thank you, Cole, for taking your time out, and thanks for Jennifer sharing!

Make sure you guys all check out Bitter End, out now. It's powerful but fantastically well done, and definitely a must

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Meet the Characters of Sarah Darer Littman

What do you do when an author has written more than one great book? Steal more than one character! Sarah Darer Littman, author of the upcoming Want to Go Private? has not only let me steal Abby for a little bit, but also been kind enough to lend over Dani, the protagonist in her great book Life, After. So check it out, then make sure you get to know both girls because their stories are good ones!

Describe your perfect first kiss.

Dani: Roberto’s warm lips in the dappled sunlight under the branches of the ombu tree.

What is your favorite childhood memory?

Dani: Taking walks with Papa to the end of the long wooden pier by the Club de Pescadores to watch the fishermen try their luck in the Rio de la Plata. Papa always convinced them to let me “help”.

If you could say one thing about the most trying time in your life, what would it be?

Dani: With joy, we overcome the terror. With love, strength and hope, we prevail.

Who is your celebrity crush? 

Abby: The guy who played Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings. Except when he’s not in the LOTR he looks kind of old. I think he’s almost as old as my Dad.

What kind of cake would you describe yourself as?

Abby: After…you know…people at school would probably say “fruitcake.” But my therapist would say I have to think I’m more than that if I’m ever going to be able to move on. So…I don’t know. I guess maybe a chocolate cake with vanilla buttercream filling? Like everything thinks I’m dark and bad for you but really I’m not. I just made a mistake. A really bad one.

Thank you, Sarah, for lending your characters on congrats on another release!

Make sure you guys all check out Life, After which is out now, and Want to Go Private? which hits shelves August 1!

Teenage Garage Sale with Kate Hinderer

You know how we all have those random things we collected, intentionally or not, as teens? Some more embarrassing than others? Well today, Aurora Undefined author Kate Hinderer has been kind enough to share her teen things, in the form of what we'd find in a garage sale of items from her teenage years.

Assortment of scented candles – for a while I loved to come home from school after a long day and light every single candle in the room, sit in the dark glowing room and relax.

A dozen used notebooks – kept under my bed in a plastic bin, I saved every note book I ever penned a story in since 7th grade. The collection was huge by the time I went to college.

The Kensington Chronicles by Lori Wick – This is the first historic book series that I read cover to cover in a four-day time span. I devoured those books and fell in love with the characters.

Roller skates with pink wheels and laces – My best friend in grade school and I used to create entire dance routines on our skates. I broke my arm racing her in them. It was hard to pry them off my feet for dinner.

Oversized green wind-breaker – For some reason I wore my mother’s spring coat for almost an entire year, zipping it all the way up to my chin and almost drowning in the mounds of extra material.

CD collection – My first musical selections included I’m mortified to admit I had, and loved, such as Ace of Base, Boyz II Men, Amy Grant, Blues Traveler, Joshua Kadison, Hansen, Savage Garden and REM. Later CDs included Matchbox20, Bon Jovi, Dixie Chicks, Garth Brooks, Back Street Boys, N’Sync and No Doubt.

Hand-painted bird house – One summer my dad cut a bunch of wood to create bird houses and I went to town nailing the pieces together and then painting them to hang in our backyard.

Old issues of Beyond the Tracks – this was the little newspaper I wrote and put out for my friends and neighbors.

Nearly new Barbie Doll – As teenagers, my two sisters and I went through a moment of panic when we realized we were growing up and no longer played with dolls. We went right out and each bought a new Barbie Doll, which we played with for about a week and promptly abandoned.

Coca-Cola paraphernalia – I had a slight addiction to Coca-Cola by the time I hit high school, that was kindly fueled by the generous kids I drove to school. Before long I was collecting old bottles, glasses, tins… pretty much anything with Coca-Cola written on it.

Tacky Tourist memorabilia – As a teenager I went to both Mexico and Italy for several weeks. Upon returning I brought home ridiculous amounts of key chains, fake purses, magnets, picture frames, postcards, pens and t-shirts.

Thank you, Kate, for that look into your teenage years and habits!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Character This or That: Kaleb from Hourglass

It's no secret to a lot of you how much I love Kaleb from Myra McEntire's debut Hourglass. Completely sexy and hot and just that right mix of cocky, witty, sarcastic, sweet and broken to make me melt faster than ice cream in the Texas heat, Kaleb is definitely one of my favorite YA boys. Thus, it's no surprise that when I got the chance to get to know him a little better by way of a fun this or that list, I jumped right on it. So I bring you: Kaleb.

Beach or Pool Pool:  It's the only place I can think. (But I enjoy being shirtless either place.)

Looks or Brains:  I used to be a straight up looks guy, but things are changing.

Book or Movie:  Believe it or not, I'm a big reader. But it's way easier to make out in the back of a movie theater.

Tall or Short:  Yes.

Tigers or Polar Bears:  Tigers. Definitely.

Action or Drama:  All action, all the time. Drama makes me tired.

Dragon or Pegasus:  I have a dragon tattoo - so definitely dragon.

Hermione or Ginny:  Hermione. Total package.

Blonde or Brunette:  Again, yes.

Steak or Lobster:  Lobster. With lots of melted butter.

Boxers or Briefs:  Neither.

Plane or Train:  Plane. When I go, I like to go far.

Rock or Pop:  Rock

Opera or Ballet:  Ballet. Leotards are hot.

Smoothie or Milkshake:  Milkshake. My milkshake brings all the girls to the yard, you know.

Thank you, Kaleb, for those awesome answers. As if I didn't already love and want you....

Ahem. So there you have it! A little glimpse into the awesomeness that is Kaleb! Hourglass is out today so make sure you guys all pick it up! You definitely do not want to miss this one!

Author Guest Post: Katie Alender

Katie Alender, author of Bad Girls Don't Die and the follow up From Bad to Cursed (out today!) has been kind enough to stop by with something a little different, but definitely well worth the read. An author's writing journey, from idea to release, is often a popular question so here's Katie's with a little extra mixed in.

The Long Wait (a.k.a., Go Ahead and Live For Today)

I started working on my first book in 2002. I distinctly remember sitting in the airport, headed to my brother’s wedding in Istanbul, Turkey, reading Stephen King’s memoir On Writing. There, in the international terminal at JFK, it occurred to me: I could actually finish a book. It wasn’t just something that magic people did. If I wanted to do it, I could.

So I went home, finished my draft by the end of the year, and obeyed Stephen King’s directive to let it sit for a while before coming back to it. The problem is, by the time I came back to it, I had found a job. A very demanding job. So the book went onto the back burner as I toiled away at the office. Still, I found or made time to work on it—getting to work early or staying late, revising and rewriting again an again. As I worked, I made connections between characters and situations, I gave my characters backstories, personalities, and a true place in the book.

That took years. By the time I got an agent, it was May of 2006. By November of 2006, the book sold.

When they told me the publication date was “Spring 2008,” I was like, “What is WRONG with these people?” I had this vague sense of worry that my whole life was going to pass me by in the meantime. Hadn’t I waited long enough? Everyone else, it seemed, wished a book into existence, and then *poof!* it appeared on a shelf. But my agent and editor assured me that 18 months was a normal amount of time for the sale-to-published turnaround.

Imagine my extreme delight when, just as the book was going into copyedits, my editor left the industry! Terrified, I got a new editor—and a new pub date: Spring 2009.

Um, excuse me? Suddenly I found myself in the awkward position of having to tell people that it would be two more years before my book would be in stores. I halfheartedly started trying to market myself, wondering all the while why anyone would bother paying attention to someone whose book was two long years away. Honestly, I was embarrassed. I felt like I was second-rate, and that people would think I was kind of pathetic.

But time has a way of passing. And so, practically before I knew it, April 21, 2009 was upon me. And the funny thing about the people I’d been meeting online—they were all too friendly, kind, and grounded to worry if my book was coming out in the “normal” timeframe (which, I later learned, doesn’t really exist).

After the book came out, Hyperion approached me about doing two sequels. The first would come out… (drum roll)… two years after the first book! At this point, I groaned inwardly, but I didn’t protest. Putting a book together isn’t the easiest business, especially if you want a little time to obsess over your edits and every last bit of language and twist of plot.

But secretly, my heart sank a little. Remember those phantom meanies I’d imagined were judging me before? They popped back into my head, haunting my vision of the next few years. With YA series popping up like popcorn, who would have the time or patience to wait two years for my book?

But ah! Time, she passes. And suddenly here I am. The day my second book officially goes out into the world. And the phantom meanies have dried up, to be replaced by the usual cheer squad of friendly people, too pleasantly occupied with their own business to judge me for mine.

You can blink and twenty years are gone. When I used to walk home from school in ninth grade, when it was hot and I was sweaty but knew I had a mile and a half between myself and air conditioning, I would think, “I’m already home. I’m standing in front of the VCR, setting it to record Star Trek: The Next Generation.” (What the hey, as long as I’m being honest…) And sure enough, every day, I would suddenly find myself standing in front of the VCR.

Now I remember thinking, “I’m not here. I’m in the future already. This slow time is over,” and I want to shake myself. Little fool! Life can’t just be made of air conditioning and book launch days. Life is not just the hills but the valleys and the flatlands. And what I’ve learned is that when you crave for time to pass quickly, it does. And then you will miss the time you wished away.

So enjoy the highlights. Enjoy the milestones. But also enjoy the quiet minutes. The waiting. Find something to love every step of the way, and don’t you dare wish yourself ahead. Because time will get you whether you want it to or not.

Whether I meant to or not, getting to this day in my writing career took a while. But now I’ve learned to let the days linger and not wish “now” away for the fleeting moments. Because they’ll come—and they’ll go.

There’s a phrase: take your sweet time. And that’s my advice to you.

Thank you, Katie, for that message and glimpse into your own writing journey, and congrats on the release!

Make sure all of you pick up From Bad to Cursed, out today! And if you haven't yet read Bad Girls Don't Die, you are definitely missing out and need to get on that!

Book Birthday Top Fives: Imaginary Girls and Hourglass

A huge happy book birthday to the authors of two of my favorite books this year: Nova Run Suma and Myra McEntire. Seriously, if you guys haven't already preordered, go pick these books up today! They are amazing and awesome and brilliant! And to entice you a little more, here is my Top Five Reasons You Have to Buy Them!

Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma:

5. There's this boy and... and while there is a boy, a few actually, none of them have this huge presence that steals readers and makes them swoon. And as much as I love my hot boys, it so works in this one, and Nova has pulled it off so freaking well. But I will admit, I do have a soft spot for Pete, but the fact that the boy is at the bottom off the list and not the top should say something right there about how great this book actually is.

4. Awesome setting. No lie, the setting is important in this one, and man does Nova know how to write it in a way that makes it it's own character, without washing out the meat of her story or her other characters.

3. Ruby and Chloe's relationship. If you want a sisters book, this is the one to get. From the intensity that comes with it to the frustration and confusion, Nova has put all of it into these two girls, and done it flawlessly. While I admit that I love boy books, this one makes me love girl books just as much.

2. Absolutely gorgeous, stunning writing. From building the entire atmosphere and creepy air of things to empowering then emotional then fulfilling, Nova has a way with words that cannot be taught, cannot be faked, and is just astoundingly beautiful. Noticeable from the start and never backing down, the writing has just as strong am impact as everything else.

1. Amazing and perfectly pitched story. With a mystery that builds from the start yet has plenty of clues left along the way, Nova doesn't go to leaps and bounds to hide things from her readers, yet even if things are figured out, those reveals are still breathtaking because this book is done that incredibly well. Hints of the supernatural and something otherworldly amidst an otherwise contemporary type setting add to everything even more, making this book worm its way into your head and keep hold for days after you're done.

Hourglass by Myra McEntire:

5. The main character, Emerson, is awesome. A little spunky, a little damaged, and a lot awesome. She has an interesting view of the world, some fantastic sayings all her own, and is just a very great character to get behind

4. There's this hot boy who Emerson falls for named Michael. If you're into the sweet, overly kind, sauve kind of guy, then Michael's for you. Waiting in the pages of this book. Saying please find me. I'm shocking.

3. Emerson lives with her older brother and his wife, and seriously, you want to read this relationship. It's such a great mix of parent and sibling, and gives a really unique element to the story overall. And not only that, but Thomas and Dru have actual roles, an actual presence, that is more than just the fill in parents.

2. There's this other hot(ter) boy named Kaleb. Who is mine. But we'll talk about him anyhow. Cocky and witty, one of the best first meetings for both Emerson and readers ever, sexy and sardonic and yet... mushy in just the right ways and oh so delectable and enticing.

1. This story is brilliant. Absolutely, positively, so well put together, mindblowingly brilliant. So intricate and in depth and I kind of wonder how Myra's brain didn't break writing this book because yes it is just that good.