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Sunday, September 28, 2014

Assassins, Thieves, and Spies, oh my!

I feel like every reader has a topic a topic or theme that, without fail, guarantees they'll add a book to their to-be-read pile. For me, I can't pass up a YA novel featuring a teen criminal. Assassins and thieves are my weakness, but I love a good spy novel too. Below I've compiled a list of YA novels featuring assassins, thieves, and spies - I'm always looking for more, so, please, share more titles in the comments!


The Assassin's Curse by Cassandra Rose Clarke
City of a Thousand Dolls by Miriam Forster
Dualed by Elsie Chapman

Poison by Bridget Zinn
Mind Games by Kiersten White
Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder

I Am the Mission by Allen Zadoff
Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga

Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers
Au Revoir, Crazy European Chick by Joe Schreiber
The Reluctant Assassin by Eoin Colfer


Trust Me, I'm Lying by Mary Elizabeth Summer
Illusive by Emily Lloyd-Jones
Heist Society by Ally Carter

Loot by Jude Watson
Midnight Thief by Livia Blackburne
How to Live a Life of Crime by Kirsten Miller


Also Known As by Robin Benway
I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You by Ally Carter
The Agency: A Spy in the House by Y.S. Lee

Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger
Maid of Secrets by Jennifer McGowan
Palace of Spies by Sarah Zettel

Notice any glaring omissions? Let me know in the comments!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Review: Chasers of the Light: Poems from the Typewriter Series by Tyler Knott Gregson

Title: Chasers of the Light
Author: Tyler Knott Gregson
Publisher: Perigee
Pub. Date: September 2, 2014
Genre: Poetry
Rec. Age Level: 18+
Pages: 144
More by this author: N/A

Goodreads / Buy It

For the past year I've been stumbling across gorgeous little poems written by Tyler Knott Gregson, so imagine my surprise when I discovered Chasers of the Light, an entire collection of his work. 

Typed on scraps of paper, old receipts, and other random bits and pieces, the majority of Gregson's poems are only a handful of lines long, but they resonate. Gregson is clearly a romantic... His words slip past the defenses of even the most bitter, with boarded-up hearts and cynical minds, reminding readers why we love, yearn for connection, and bare our souls. Many of his poems stray towards the philosophical and address insecurities, including depression. I'm drawn to the honesty in Gregson's poems. I know that, technically, he could type something, throw it away, and start again, but these poems, written with an old fashioned type writer and no convenient backspace, leave me with an impression of permanence and transparency. I find myself trusting Gregson's words.

For a taste of Gregson's work, check out some of my favorites below:

Friday, September 19, 2014

Review & Giveaway: Tabula Rasa by Kristen Lippert-Martin

Title: Tabula Rasa
Author: Kristen Lippert-Martin
Publisher: EgmontUSA
Pub. Date: September 23, 2014
Genre: Young Adult
Rec. Age Level: 12+
Pages: 352
More by this author: n/a

Goodreads / Buy It

In a hospital where teens undergo a procedure in which their memories are wiped, one patient must fight for her life and the truth about her past. 

Sarah’s final surgery is cut short when the hospital is invaded by unknown forces. Confused and afraid, she teams up with a hacker who covertly breached the hospital prior to the attack. As she navigates her way through the danger at hand, she must also wade through an onslaught of returning memories. Who is she? Is the tabula rasa surgery truly meant to protect her? Or is something far more sinister taking places in the secluded hospital? A non-stop thrill ride, Tabula Rasa is an explosive debut.

I have to admit, it shocked me when I realized Tabula Rasa is 350 pages long - this book is so jam packed with action that it felt much, much shorter. Lippert-Martin's writing has a cinematic quality that I really enjoyed too. I'm usually not much for action movies, but I could see this adapting well for the screen. I'd even go see it!

Verdict: Read it!

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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Recent Cover Reveals (That Made Me Swoon) Part II

Breaking Sky by Cori McCarthy

Devoted by Jennifer Mathieu

All the Rage by Courtney Summers

Conviction by Kelly Loy Gilbert

Sweet by Emmy Laybourne

The Witch Hunter by Virginia Boecker

I love all of these covers for very lots of different reasons...
In all honesty, I'm probably most excited about All the Rage, simply because I've been waiting WAY TOO LONG for a new book from Courtney Summers. You know how some authors just write the books you didn't even know you wanted to read? Yep. That's the deal here. The publisher could have covered that book with a brown paper bag and I would have been fine with it, but, luckily, the actual cover is gorgeous!

The cover of Sweet makes me dizzy every time I look at it.

I'm so pumped about new books from Jennifer Mathieu and Cori McCarthy - I loved both of their debuts!

Conviction and Witch Hunter are both from debut authors, but, with covers like those, how could you not want to read them?

Which new covers are your favorites? Any that you dislike? Let me know in the comments!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Review & Giveaway: Be a Changemaker: How to Start Something That Matters

Title: Be a Changemaker: How to Start Something That Matters
Author: Laurie Ann Thompson
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Pub. Date: September 16, 2014
Genre: YA Nonfiction
Rec. Age Level: 12+

Pages: 240
More by this author: Emmanuel's Dream, My Dog is the Best

Goodreads / Buy It

When I was in fifth grade my close friends and I started a lunch time popcorn sale to raise money for our library. Motivated by our desire for more books, especially those with corresponding accelerated reader tests, we came up with a plan. We approached our teachers and principal with our idea: with the help of parent volunteers, we would resurrect the old popcorn machine that had been sitting in a storage closet, create a budget for the supplies, make announcements and posters advertising the lunch time popcorn sales, learn how to (safely) use the machine and package the popcorn, then spend our lunches selling the bag of popcorn to our eager peers.

It's been years and years since that fifth grade year, but I remember helping pick out the books that were added to our collection. I also remember using the popcorn sale as a way to raise $1000 for those affected by the September 11th bombing, which happened my 5th grade year. We were sure that, even though we felt a world away in Michigan, that we could help those in New York. Now, in my 20s, it's so great to look back on that elementary school experience - I'm really proud of my friends and fifth grade self.

Which brings me to Laurie Ann Thompson's Be a Changemaker: How to Start Something That Matters. This wonderful resource is not only filled with tips and guidance about how to start something as small as a lunch time to popcorn sale to improve the library collection to something much, much bigger with an even further reach. Thompson also includes inspiring quotes at the beginning and end of each chapter, as well as profiles on youths who have succeeded in affecting social change.

Though this book might be a bit much to read all in one sitting - there is a lot of information here - it's a great resource to explore a bit at a time and/or refer back to. 

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Monday, September 15, 2014

Interview & Giveaway with Yona Zeldis McDonough, author of Little Author in the Big Woods

Yona Zeldis McDonough is at The Hiding Spot today, answering questions about her newest nonfiction book for kids, Little Author in the Big Woods: A Biography of Laura Ingalls Wilder. I was obsessed with the Little House books and television show in elementary school, so I found Yona's novel, which explores the ways in which Wilder's real life informed and inspired her Little House novels, fascinating. Check out my interview with Yona below, in which she discusses what qualities drew her to Laura's story, her writing process, and upcoming projects.
Were there specific details about Laura Ingalls Wilder (or her Little House books) that inspired you to tell her story?

I wanted to tell Laura’s story because I saw a powerful feminist message in it.  Despite the hardships of her life, Laura’s mother, Caroline, was committed to the education of her daughters, even that of Mary, who went blind.  It was this fierce insistence on “book learning” that distinguished Laura’s family from so many others and it was something that she in turn passed down to her own daughter Rose.  I loved that mother-daughter connection as it played out in the succeeding generations and wanted to emphasize that in my telling of the story. 
Tell me a little bit about your writing process: Do you outline? Start at the beginning? The middle? The end?
I write in several different genres, including fiction and non-fiction, so my process is a bit different with each.  To write Little Author in the Big Woods, I did not adhere to a strict outline but I did begin at the beginning and worked my way through my subject’s life. I wanted to grow along with her and this method seemed to me the best way to accomplish that.
What kind of research did you do while writing Little Author in the Big Woods
I read several biographies of Laura, and consulted her own letters and diaries.  And I re-read all of her Little House books, so that I could understand the correspondences between the stories and the life. 
At the end of the book, readers will find fun extras, like recipes and games that were popular when Laura was a child. Have you tried any of these recipes or games? Which were your favorites?
I tried all the recipes and the craft project too. Because I am a doll lover, I’d have to say that the cornhusk doll was my favorite though I sure enjoyed that homemade butter—yum!
What jobs did you have on your way to becoming a published author? Is there a certain work experience that has shaped your writing or provided inspiration?
I had many jobs along the way and most of them I did not like!  I worked as a secretary, and I worked in the public relations office of a large government agency. I also edited and wrote a newsletter for another government agency.  But it was the freelance writing that I did—the dozens of essays, articles, reviews etc.—that honed my skills and made me understand that writing was a craft I needed to work at to perfect. 
If you had to pick a favorite word, what would it be and why?
Pamplemousse, which means grapefruit in French.  It’s such a cheery, happy sounding word. 
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 rummage through thrift stores, yard/garage sales and the like.  I can lose myself in sifting through the things other people have discarded or given away; it’s like entering another world for me and I become very absorbed when doing it. 
What can readers look forward to next?
My sixth novel, You Were Meant for Me, is coming out from New American Library in October and my children’s biography of Sojourner Truth will be out next year.  I’ve also been working on a middle grade historical novel that takes place in France in 1940, and a picture book about a little girl named Bea and a very special doll…

Learn more about Yona and her novels, here.
Purchase Little Author in the Big Woods, here

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