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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Review: The Infinite Moment of Us by Lauren Myracle

For as long as she can remember, Wren Gray’s goal has been to please her parents. But as high school graduation nears, so does an uncomfortable realization: Pleasing her parents once overlapped with pleasing herself, but now... not so much. Wren needs to honor her own desires, but how can she if she doesn’t even know what they are?

Charlie Parker, on the other hand, is painfully aware of his heart’s desire. A gentle boy with a troubled past, Charlie has loved Wren since the day he first saw her. But a girl like Wren would never fall for a guy like Charlie—at least not the sort of guy Charlie believes himself to be.

And yet certain things are written in the stars. And in the summer after high school, Wren and Charlie’s souls will collide. But souls are complicated, as are the bodies that house them...

Sexy, romantic, and oh-so-true to life, this is an unforgettable look at first love from one of young adult fiction’s greatest writers.

My feelings regarding Lauren Myracle's newest novel, The Infinite Moment of Us, are conflicted. While the novel realistically portrayed aspects of the a teen life and romance, I also felt that it glossed over and simplified other important aspects of the story and I felt little connection to the novel's main characters, Wren and Charlie.

Told in alternating point-of-view, The Infinite Moment of Us introduces readers to two teens who are entering into their first serious relationship. Charlie has been interested in the reserved Wren since he's seen her around school, but it isn't until graduation that Wren really notices Charlie. After a chance meeting at the hospital, where Wren volunteers, the two chat and their interest deepens. Later, at a party, Charlie asks Wren out and their romance quickly flourishes. This is a summer of endings before Wren, Charlie, and their friends set off from their hometown to embrace whatever their futures hold, but in many ways, it's also a summer of firsts. Both Wren and Charlie are experiencing fear of leaving and disappointing their families as they venture out into the world. They're trying to figure out who they are as individuals and as a couple. And, of course, they're experiencing all-consuming, heartbreaking, life-changing love for the first time.

There are definitely good things about The Infinite Moment of Us. In many respects, it offers a realistic portrayal of a teenaged couple's first sexual experience and the thoughts that often accompany it. I found the details about sex in this novel to be refreshingly honest and frank. I never felt that Myracle went too far into detail, but I wouldn't say she ever faded to black either. It felt more like she was trying to do the emotions behind the actions and choices justice, rather than the physical aspects, and she achieved her goal.

As difficult as it was to read and stomach, I felt that Wren's jealously about Charlie and his dedication to his family was also realistically done. Charlie grew up in the foster system and saw his fair share of bad homes and foster parents, but he finally has a real, supportive family when he meets Wren. His little brother, who has been in a wheelchair for his whole life after being abused by his biological father, is often bullied at school and Charlie is extremely protective of him. As one might expect, Charlie has a strong bond with his family and is always willing to drop everything to be with them when necessary. Wren, has a difficult time accepting this. She often feels that Charlie is choosing his family over her, though she realizes that this is mostly in her head and that it is unfair and selfish of her to feel this way. While I'm no stranger to this "choosing your family over me" jealousy, I really wish it weren't used in this situation because it makes Wren looks so immature and spoiled! I could not forgive Wren for even considering making Charlie feel bad for being there for his brother, who clearly needs him much more than she does! Still, I know there are girls like this - heck, I had my selfish, spoiled days like this, just ask my high school boyfriend! - so, again, I have to applaud Myracle's realism here.

As mentioned, Myracle does bring up many different big, tough topics in this novel. Bullying, foster care, emotional damage, controlling and emotionally destructive parenting styles, etc, etc. There's a lot going on in The Infinite Moment of Us... it's actually quite ambitious. The problem is, at least for me, that it's all secondary to the romantic plot line. If you can call it that... it's actually just a lot of really sappy, over-blown "I love yous" and "Please don't leave mes." Which, again, it pretty darn realistic, but I'm not sure it's a message that I support. It'd be one thing if this relationship didn't work out or if Charlie and Wren decided to pursue their individual plans and try for long distance, but things take a nosedive. They do not keep being individuals who have happen to have dated for three months, Charlie changes his plans and decides to follow Wren. NO, NO, NO. I heartily dislike this decision. Because I have been in the same position as Wren and Charlie... I have been there and I clearly remember how I was feeling and I made the choice to follow someone else's plans and I should have stuck to my guns and followed my path. You do not follow anyone when you are eighteen and you are in your first relationship that has lasted a summer. I admit that maybe I'm a bit jaded in the love department, but I would never tell any eighteen year old I know to change their plans, even vacation plans, for a three month relationship! 

Okay, rant over, I promise! 

Unfortunately, I never felt any huge connection to Charlie and Wren. They were both a bit flat and, honestly, not very likeable, which is an issue in a novel like The Infinite Moment of Us, which is very character driven. As discussed previously, Wren is quite selfish and I didn't find her very appealing. I couldn't tell you why Charlie was so hung up on her, except that she's, apparently, attractive. The reader is told she's a fantastic person, but we never really see any evidence of this. Charlie, on the other hand, has the potential to be a compelling character, but he's too distracted by Wren and busy saying cheesy things to do anything interesting. 

In many ways, The Infinite Moment of Us reminded me of Judy Blume's Forever. So, if you're a fan of that novel, I think you'll find plenty to like here. I will give credit where it's do and say that Myracle created a very realistic situation with Wren and Charlie. My issue, however, comes from the way these characters were handled. The events in this novel could definitely happen - in fact, they're probably happening right this moment - but these characters could have been so much more! I felt like they'd already been used as an example and, in some ways, as a cautionary tale, so why not follow through and skip the rose-colored glasses in the final scene?

Amulet Books, August 2013, Hardcover, ISBN:9781419707933, 336 pgs.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Review: Famous Last Words by Jennifer Salvato Doktorski

In Famous Last Words by Jennifer Salvato Doktorski, sixteen-year-old Samantha D’Angelo has death on the brain. Her summer internship at the local newspaper has her writing obituaries instead of soaking up the sun at the beach. Between Shelby, Sam’s boy-crazy best friend; her boss Harry, a true-blue newspaper man; and AJ, her fellow “intern scum” (aka the cute drummer for a band called Love Gas), Sam has her hands full. But once she figures out what—or who—is the best part of her summer, will she mess it all up?

As Sam learns her way around both the news room and the real world, she starts to make some momentous realizations about politics, ethics, her family, romance, and most important—herself.

Jennifer Salvato Doktorski's young adult novel Famous Last Words is one of those novels that makes you suddenly laugh aloud in a quiet room and leaves you with a warm, satisfied feeling upon finishing.

The novel follows 16-year old Sam, a summer intern at a local newspaper, the Herald Tribune. Among her other "intern scum" duties, Sam shares obituary duty with fellow intern AJ, a sarcastic college intern. The newspaper office is filled with quirky characters, from Harry, her armadillo-loving  boss, to Tony, known as Coma Boy to the rest of the newspaper staff and summer crush to Sam. This summer is the beginning of something different for Sam... There's no lazing around the pool with her best friend Shelby, who just doesn't seem to understand why Sam works so much and has no interest in their usual summer activities. And Sam, usually reserved and shy, is finding her niche and her previously small social circle is expanding. This summer, she's breaking rules, keeping secrets, and learning, little by little, that a summer of writing obituaries might just teach her how to live.

I easily identified with the main character of Famous Last Words, Sam. She's a hard worker, rarely gets into trouble, is protective of her much wilder and social best friend, Shelby, and is generally shy and awkward in the situations Shelby thrives in. When Sam finds something that both challenges and suits her - writing for the Herald Tribune - she flourishes. I cringed when Sam embarrassed herself, got herself reprimanded, or something so obvious to the reader went right over her head (especially in the romance department!), but that also means I couldn't help but cheer for her when she was congratulated, loved, and finally, finally realized that everything she needed (romantically and otherwise) was right there for her to grab on to.

I highly recommend this sophomore offering from Jennifer Salvato Doktorski. I'm kicking myself for overlooking her first novel, How My Summer Went Up in Flames, which I will definitely be reading. Laugh-out-loud funny, briskly paced, and filled with memorable and quirky characters, Famous Last Words is fantastic pleasure read.

Henry Holt & Co, July 2013, Hardcover, ISBN:9780805093674, 288 pgs.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Review: Bellman & Black by Diane Setterfield

As a boy, William Bellman commits one small, cruel act: killing a bird with his slingshot. Little does he know the unforeseen and terrible consequences of the deed, which is soon forgotten amidst the riot of boyhood games. By the time he is grown, with a wife and children of his own, William seems to be a man blessed by fortune—until tragedy strikes and the stranger in black comes. Then he starts to wonder if all his happiness is about to be eclipsed. Desperate to save the one precious thing he has left, William enters into a rather strange bargain, with an even stranger partner, to found a decidedly macabre business.

And Bellman & Black is born.

Deftly written with gorgeous language and phrasing, Diane Setterfield's newest novel, Bellman & Black, is sure to resonate with readers. Subtitled A Ghost Story, the novel fulfills the role in an unexpected manner: it isn't a specter or monster that haunts the main character Bellman and the reader, it's everyday actions, intentional and otherwise.

Bellman & Black tells the tale of William Bellman, a man blessed with good health, good fortune, and happiness. No one would dispute that Bellman works hard what he has. Smart, attractive, and successful, Bellman leads a charmed life. But what is his happiness worth? Because, as Bellman comes to realize, all actions have a consequences and time always comes at a price.

Bellman's story is interspersed with information and anecdotes about the rook, which plays both a literal and symbolic role in Bellman's life. These short chapters are beautifully written and are sometimes factual, sometimes anecdotal. The rook itself becomes a central character in the novel, who, if not mentioned for a period time, becomes, curiously, almost missed.

It's hard to describe the premise of Bellman & Black. What struck me most after completing the novel was how little actual action was contained in its pages compared to the amount of thought and contemplation spurred by the story. This may come as a surprise to some who see the subtitle A Ghost Story and expect the typical scary story. To be clear, Bellman & Black is most definitely a ghost story - and I would say it is, in many ways, much scarier than any paranormal story might be. Bellman's story forces readers to consider the price of their own lives... To consider the happiness and fortune they've been blessed with in their lives and how much payment might be owned to the figurative man in black that haunts Bellman's every conscious - and often unconscious - thought.

I haven't read Setterfield's first, and immensely popular novel, The Thirteenth Tale, but, after Bellman & Black, I feel I need to. Setterfield is a powerful storyteller who leads readers with a light hand to thoughts and feelings that, even if we might now acknowledge them often, have a steady weight that influences our lives and choices. Bellman & Black is not to be missed.

Atria/Emily Bestler Books, November 2013,Hardcover, ISBN:9781476711959, 336 pgs.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Review: The Time Fetch by Amy Herrick

Edward picks up what he thinks is a rock. He doesn’t know it is a sleeping Time Fetch—and touching it will release its foragers too soon and alter the entire fabric of time and space. Soon the bell rings to end class just as it has begun. Buses race down streets, too far behind schedule to stop for passengers. Buildings and sidewalks begin to disappear as the whole fabric of the universe starts to unravel. To try to stop the foragers, Edward must depend on the help of his classmates Feenix, Danton, and Brigit—whether he likes it or not. They all have touched the Fetch, and it has drawn them together in a strange and thrilling adventure. The boundaries between worlds and dimensions are blurred, and places and creatures on the other side are much like the ones they've always known—but slightly twisted, a little darker, and much more dangerous.

A fast-paced tale filled with mythology, danger, friendship, and a shocking centuries-old secret, The Time Fetch is sure to delight fans of fantasy adventure with its tale of ordinary kids who tumble into a magical situation.

The Time Fetch by Amy Herrick features a unique premise and a diverse group of main characters. The novel follows a group of four classmates who, though they interact daily, know very little about one another. This changes after the students are tasked with bringing a rock to school for their science class. Edward, waiting to the last minute to finish the assignment, grabs the only rock he can find on his way to school, but this isn't any ordinary rock. The rock is actually a Time Fetch, the resting place for foragers who do just that: fetch - or collect - time. Soon, with time disappearing all over the place and some particularly nasty witches on the hunt for the time fetch, their whole world is thrown off course. And it's up to these four unlikely allies to band together to set things right!

I enjoyed the premise of the Time Fetch. Adults and young readers will relate to, and have no problem envisioning, the minuscule foragers eating up minutes, hours, and days in the blink of an eye. We've all had those days where we just can't believe how quickly the time flies... those are the days the foragers are out and about, eating up time and making the days fly by.

I loved how different the four main characters are. This novel clearly illustrates the power of individuals banding together in friendship. Alone, none of the characters could have achieved the goal of capturing the foragers and returning the fetch to its rightful destination. Together, each were armed with specific skills, they were a formidable and effective team. The Time Fetch sends a positive and powerful message about embracing differences and individuality.

I'm hoping that there will be another adventure featuring Edward, Feenix, Danton, and Brigit. Throughout the book, the characters come to appreciate each others' strengths and they just started to feel like true friends by the end of the novel. I'd really like to see how those relationships develop and how the characters' interactions change and grow. Hopefully Herrick will give readers another adventure with this fun group!

I recommend The Time Fetch for its fresh concept and well-developed and engaging characters.

Algonquin Books, August 2013,Hardcover, ISBN:9781616202200, 320 pgs.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Review: A Matter of Days by Amber Kizer

 On Day 56 of the pandemic called BluStar, sixteen-year-old Nadia's mother dies, leaving her responsible for her younger brother Rabbit. They secretly received antivirus vaccines from their uncle, but most people weren't as lucky. Their deceased father taught them to adapt and survive whatever comes their way. That's their plan as they trek from Seattle to their grandfather's survivalist compound in West Virginia. Using practical survival techniques, they make their way through a world of death and destruction until they encounter an injured dog; Zack, a street kid from Los Angeles; and other survivors who are seldom what they seem. Illness, infections, fatigue, and meager supplies have become a way of life. Still, it will be worth it once they arrive at the designated place on the map they have memorized. But what if no one is there to meet them?

Amber Kizer's A Matter of Days has a deceptively simple plot: a virus has swept the country, leaving the majority of the population dead, and a small number of shell-shocked survivors in its wake. Nadia and Rabbit, who watched their mother die a painful death from the virus, called BluStar because of the blue bruising that forms as the victim's blood hemorrhages beneath the skins surface, are two of those survivors. They're survival had very little to do with luck. Before the virus took hold, Nadia's uncle sent her a cryptic messages urging that she, Rabbit, and her mother administer shots he sent, with no explanation other than a mysterious and chilling insistence of importance. Nadia and Rabbit immediately followed through, but, by the time their mother complied it was too late. Now, left alone, the siblings set out to fulfill their uncles command that they make their way across the country to their estranged grandfather's well-stocked bunker in West Virginia. Thus begins a journey filled with danger, chance encounters, and a chilling look at the destruction BluStar has wrought in only a matter of days.

One of the things that sets A Matter of Days apart from other post-apocalyptic literature is how little introduction the plot requires. The premise set forth by this novel is one of the most realistic in that it was far to easy to imagine events actually occurring. There is no long, drawn out downfall from the time BluStar strikes to their decimation of most of the human population. As the title implies, it really is only a matter of days until the entire world is forever changed. Because the effects are so immediate, it was terrifying how easily the reader could put themselves in Nadia and Rabbit's shoes. Just imagine if next week, your entire family had died in front of you. Your classmates? Dead. Your neighbors? Gone. Electricity? Running water? Fresh food? Gone, gone, gone. 

The main characters are what can only be described as typical. Nadia and Rabbit weren't especially close before BluStar, but nothing creates a bond like living through the near annihilation of the human race. The fact that the main characters are siblings adds a compelling and fresh dynamic within post-apocalyptic genre: the two can trust one another. There is no doubt that they have each others' backs... So, while they definitely encounter survivors that are scary and untrustworthy, as long as they're together, they always have someone to trust. Comparing Nadia and Rabbit's experience to the other survivors they encounter during their cross-country (family) road trip(from hell) was exceedingly interesting. One sad soul they encounter appeared to have literally lost her mind, left alone and completely unable to cope, she'd suffered a complete break from reality.

While Nadia and Rabbit are in many ways typical of people their age, they have unique advantage: Be the cockroach. Their grandfather, an intense conspiracy theorist, had been convinced for years that they end of days was approaching. If anyone was prepared for something like BluStar, it was him. Their father, in addition to being raised by a man obsessed with preparing for such an event, was in the armed forces, and impressed upon Nadia and Rabbit the importance of being able to adapt. To be survivors instead of statistics. Armed with the advice of their father, the siblings are as prepared as they'll ever be to survive.

Fans of post-apocalyptic stories will appreciate the straight-forward nature of Kizer's A Matter of Days and the intelligence and common sense of Nadia and Rabbit. Action, introspection, and haunting encounters fill the pages of this well-executed tale.

Delacorte BFYR, June 2013,Hardcover, ISBN:9780385739733, 276 pgs.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Celebrate the Civil Rights Movement Blog Tour!

August 28 marks the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s famous "I Have a Dream" speech. Marked as a "watershed moment in the struggle for civil rights," this speech represents a huge moment in US history. One of my favorite books commemorating Martin Luther King Jr., his speech, and his beliefs is Kadir Nelson's gorgeously illustrated book I Have a Dream.

Random House has put together a fantastic website with lots of great content and information for those interested in Nelson's I Have a Dream. One of my favorite parts of the site is the video in which Nelson talks about the story behind the book. This video is great because it not only gives readers a look at Nelson and his thought process as he designed the book, but also shows images from the book and features clips from the "I Have a Dream" speech! You can check out the site here and watch the video of Nelson below!

Nelson's I Have a Dream is a great book to add to your personal collection, to share with the young readers in your life, and is essential for all classrooms! While I can't provide every child with a copy of this fantastic tribute to Martin Luther King Jr. and his landmark speech, I do have one copy to giveaway to a lucky winner! Enter for your chance to win below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Book Trailer: Flicker & Burn by T.M. Goeglein

Flicker & Burn, the sequel to Cold Fury, by T.M. Goeglein releases TODAY! Don't miss the book trailer for the action-packed sequel.

Official Flicker & Burn Book Trailer from T.M. Goeglein. Subscribe to the Cold Fury channel on Vimeo.

You can also view the trailer here.

More about the book:
Sara Jane Rispoli is still searching for her missing family, but instead of fighting off a turncoat uncle and crooked cops, this time she finds herself on the run from creepy beings with red, pulsing eyes and pale white skin chasing her through the streets in ice cream trucks; they can only be described as Ice Cream Creatures. They're terrifying and hell bent on killing her, but they're also a link to her family, a clue to where they might be and who has them. While she battles these new pursuers, she's also discovering more about her own cold fury and more about the Chicago Outfit, how the past misdeeds--old murders and vendettas--might just be connected to her present and the disappearance of her family. But connecting the dots is tough and time-consuming and may finally be the undoing of her relationship with the handsome Max--who's now her boyfriend. But for his own safety, Sara Jane may have to end this relationship before it even really starts. Her pursuers who've shown her her mother's amputated finger and the head of the Chicago Outfit who's just whistled her in for a sit-down make a romance unthinkable. The only thing that matters is finding her family and keeping everyone she loves alive.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Fall Festival Blog Hop Info & Sign-ups!

Hello everyone! Lizzy at Cornucopia of Reviews and I have joined forces to host what we're calling Fall Festival. 

What is it?

Fall Fest is a chance for book bloggers to come together to host contests, interviews, guest posts, and to post about their favorite books/upcoming fall and winter releases. It's also a great way to spread the word about your blog and to find new blogs to follow! Lizzy and I will both be hosting contests and we hope you will too!

When is it?

September 14 - 21! 

How do I participate? 

Add your blog to the linky below. We will email you with a form to help figure out what you'd like to post during the fest! Grab the button below and display it somewhere on your blog :)

Do I need to be in the US?

Not at all! You can participate from anywhere in the world!

I'm an author and I would be willing to donate my time to give an interview or a guest post!

Hurrah!! Please send one of us an email at or, and we'll let you know about the process - it's super simple!

Review: Arclight by Josin L. McQuein

No one crosses the wall of light . . . except for one girl who doesn’t remember who she is, where she came from, or how she survived. A harrowing, powerful debut thriller about finding yourself and protecting your future—no matter how short and uncertain it may be. The Arclight is the last defense. The Fade can’t get in. Outside the Arclight’s border of high-powered beams is the Dark. And between the Light and the Dark is the Grey, a narrow, barren no-man’s-land. That’s where the rescue team finds Marina, a lone teenage girl with no memory of the horrors she faced or the family she lost. Marina is the only person who has ever survived an encounter with the Fade. She’s the first hope humanity has had in generations, but she could also be the catalyst for their final destruction. Because the Fade will stop at nothing to get her back. Marina knows it. Tobin, who’s determined to take his revenge on the Fade, knows it. Anne-Marie, who just wishes it were all over, knows it. When one of the Fade infiltrates the Arclight and Marina recognizes it, she will begin to unlock secrets she didn’t even know she had. Who will Marina become? Who can she never be again?

I enjoyed Josin L. McQuein's Arclight, but it took some time before it really grabbed me and there were many times throughout the novel when I just wanted answers instead of so much confusion! Arclight is a dystopian novel with strong hints of horror. 

Set in a future where, as far the reader knows, the remaining small population of humans live together in an enclosed settlement, which is appropriately named Arclight, as it is surrounded at all times by strong lights which create a protective arc meant to keep the darkness - and the monsters within it - at bay. These monsters, referred to collectively and individually as "the Fade" are said to be impossible to survive an encounter with... with one exception. The novel's main character, Marina, was rescued from outside the settlement and, therefore, survived the Fade. This feat, which may seem impressive in its singularity, is met, for the most part, with fear, distrust, and anger regarding those lost during her rescue mission. Marina, who has no memory of her past, is left unsure of just where she fits in within the settlement and within the world as a whole. 

Overall, I liked the mysterious quality of Arclight. I was never quite sure what would happen next and the novel's pace had a consistent ebb and flow. Things would be quite calm within the novel, then, without warning, everything would start happening at once. Alarms would sound, characters would panic, and the creepy Fade would attempt to breach Arclight. 

Things really started getting interesting when the Fade transitioned from strictly monsters to actual characters. This, however, is where the novel fell flat for me. It almost took too long for the Fade to become characters and, when they finally did, I wanted to know MORE about them. They stay a mystery throughout most of the novel and even the answers readers are finally given are very quick and without depth. I'm hoping McQuein has plans for a second novel that will answer some of my many questions! 

I do recommend Arclight - it has a unique enemy and protagonist - but I feel it requires a patient reader. The plot is slow to unfold and readers must be able to stick with the plot during the ebb between action scenes.

Greenwillow Books, April 2013,Hardcover, ISBN:9780062130143, 400 pgs.

The Morning Star release and a chat with Robin Bridges

The final volume in Robin Bridges' Katerina trilogy releases August 27th, which is both exciting and disappointing for fans of the books! Read on to find out more about the author, Robin Bridges, and her upcoming release, The Morning Star!

What book or author has most influenced you as a writer or in general? 
Before I start a new story, I love to reread Stephen King’s book On Writing. It’s kinda like getting a pep talk before the big game." 
What jobs did you have on your way to becoming a writer/published author? Is there a certain work experience that has shaped your writing? 
I’ve been a grocery store cashier, a concession stand cashier, a secretary, a reading teacher, a nursing assistant, and a nurse. I think I’ve written characters who have held each of these positions at some point or another. Except the concession stand cashier. Hmmm. 
If you had to pick a favorite word, what would it be and why? 
Thaumaturgic. It means “performing miracles.” I also like the word “shigella”. More for the sound of it though, than for its meaning. 
My blog is dedicated to my personal hiding spot, books. Who, what, or where can be credited as your personal escape from reality? 
I love to escape into books too! I have a paperback or my Ipad in my purse at all times. (More than likely both.)
This interview was originally posted at The Hiding Spot in 2012, here

About the book
St. Petersburg, Russia, 1890
Katerina Alexandrovna, Duchess of Oldenburg, wants to be known as a doctor, not a necromancer. But Tsar Alexander III forbids women to attend medical school; his interest in Katerina extends only to her ability to raise the dead. Twice now, Katerina has helped him by using her power to thwart the forces of darkness—vampires bent on resurrecting the lich tsar Konstantin Pavlovich so that he can take what he sees as his rightful place on the throne. Katerina thought she had bound Konstantin to the Greylands, the realm of the dead, but he has found a way out. Now he is searching for the Morning Star, a sword that will allow him to command a legion of supernatural warriors.
Katerina must find the sword before Konstantin does—and she must travel to Egypt to do so. Along the way, she puts up with unwanted attention from her former fiancĂ©, the nefarious Prince Danilo, and struggles with her feelings for her true love, George Alexandrovich. But with the looming threat from Konstantin, Katerina's focus remains on the sword. Russia's fate will be determined by whoever wields the Morning Star—and delivers the final blow.
Find out more about Robin and her books here and at the blogs below!

August 19thYA Bibliophile
August 21stCandace’s Book Blog
August 22ndMom Reads My Books
August 23rdMarmalade Libby
August 24thMy Life is a Notebook
August 26thImaginary Reads
August 26thReader Girls
August 27thKimba Caffeinated
August 28thPage Turners Blog
August 29thBook Rook Reviews

Friday, August 16, 2013

Interview: Patty Blount, author of TMI

Today Patty Blount, author of TMI, visits the blog to chat about her book, her difficulty with writing "best friend" characters, her favorite (four-letter) word, and more! 

The Interview

Did you have trouble writing any of your characters or specific scenes within the novel? Or, were any characters or scenes particularly easy to write?
Bailey was challenging to write. I knew I wanted her to be more easy-going and fun-loving than Meg but in my first draft, she was flat and um…well, kind of boring. I had to give her some interests, some drive, some reason for getting out of bed in the morning. Once I found that, she burst off the page for me. One of the other aspects that was challenging for me to write is the concept of ‘best friends.’ I don’t have a life-long best friend. My friends tend to be situational and as a result, often transient. Trying to write girls who had been and will be friends forever was hard for me to imagine. 
Has the title changed or stayed relatively the same as your novel journeyed towards publication?
TMI was always the title for this story. It never changed. I love when that happens. :)
What book or author has most influenced you as a writer or in general?
The Harry Potter series influenced me from the moment I learned JK Rowling wrote that story while her daughter napped. It was then that I learned you don’t need to have an MFA to be good at this. 
What jobs did you have on your way to becoming a writer/published author? Is there a certain work experience that has shaped your writing?
I’ve worked as an executive secretary, a marketing coordinator, and even sold lingerie in home parties. But it’s my current job as a technical writer that shaped my writing. In fact, I wasn’t able to complete a novel, no matter how hard I tried, until I approached a novel as I approached a writing assignment at work. 
 If you had to pick a favorite word, what would it be and why?
Oh, this is easy. It’s a four-letter word. It’s the thing I’ve loved since I was little and reached for when I was lonely, sad, heartbroken or just bored. B O O K. :)
My blog is dedicated to my personal hiding spot, books. Who, what, or where can be credited as your personal escape from reality?
See my response to #5. My escape from reality is to read anything I can get my hands on. I always read romance but as I got more active online and met other authors, I’ve branched out into genres like fantasy, sci-fi, and paranormal. 
Find out more about Patty and her books here! 

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Interview: Elisabeth Wolf, author of Lulu in LA LA Land

Today MG author Elisabeth Wolf stops by The Hiding Spot to chat about her first book, Lulu in LA LA Land! Elisabeth discusses which book inspired her to become a writer, why her favorite word is marshmallow, and her own, various, hiding spots!

The Interview

Did you have trouble writing any of your characters or specific scenes within the novel? Or, were any characters or scenes particularly easy to write?
Most of the characters and scenes I wrote weren’t too hard because I chose to write about types of people and places that I knew.  Years ago I wanted to write a thriller about a sister sneaking into India to save her kidnapped brother who was working clandestinely to persuade India to protect England from a Chinese invasion.  Having never been to India or China nor having never pursued advanced study of geo-political power struggles, I decided to scrap the whole project.  
The hardest part of Lulu to write was about the mean girls.  The idea of children being unkind to other children just to make themselves feel important or cool really bums me out.  I had to pull back when writing about the “Pop Girls” and remind myself that at least one of them was going to turn nice at the end.  

Has the title changed or stayed relatively the same as your novel journeyed towards publication?
The title, Lulu in LA LA Land always stayed the same.  It sounded so good and represented the story so well no one ever suggested changing it. 
What book or author has most influenced you as a writer or in general?
To Kill a Mocking Bird by Harper Lee.  Ms. Lee crafted and wrote one perfect book.  It shows real childhood.  It explains American weaknesses and fears and American strength and bravery.  It is simple and complicated at the same time.  Reading it for the first time in middle school was the exact moment I decided my dream was to become a writer.
What jobs did you have on your way to becoming a writer/published author? Is there a certain work experience that has shaped your writing?
After leaving graduate school at Stanford, I needed a job.   I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do beyond read and write.  A friend offered me a position as an assistant communications director on a California political campaign.  After that, I fell into jobs on the press, messaging, media side of government and politics.  The experience of writing short, clean, simple sentences to explain complex policy was invaluable to becoming a writer for children.  Also, needing to write quickly and on deadlines made me able to manage the requests made by my agents and editor.  
 If you had to pick a favorite word, what would it be and why?
Marshmallow.  And, I’m not kidding!  I have always loved this word.  The way it sounds and the memories and feelings that go along with it.  Marshmallows telegraph childhood, softness, sweetness, and versatility.  I mean, really, who couldn’t love this word, with all its consonants plus the “sh,” that is the glue that holds a s’more together?!
My blog is dedicated to my personal hiding spot, books. Who, what, or where can be credited as your personal escape from reality?
Hiding spot.  So great.  Love that it’s the name of your blog.  Reality escapism is among my character strengths.  Actually, the interests of Lulu, my main character, represent ways I find inner calm.   Here’s my list:  gardening, walking beaches, baking, looking into my dog’s dark brown eyes, and doing something that I suspect will make someone else happy.  
Find out more about Elisabeth and her books here!