Google+ YA Romantics: October 2012

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Transform Yourself Into a YA Character for Halloween!

Wishing my American readers a safe and fun Halloween!  My thoughts are with anyone affected by Hurricane Sandy. Photos of the damage and rescue efforts are just heartbreaking. Though we were right in the path of the storm, we kept power and are safe and dry.

If you are celebrating and need a last minute costume, I'm here to help! I always made my own Halloween costumes when I was growing up. That way, you don't show up at a party as Slutty Witch Number Three.

Here's how to make four quick, easy and cheap YA book character costumes. Most of the stuff you need is probably sitting around your house right now!

Costume One: Sydney Sage from the Bloodlines series by Richelle Mead (Razorbill)

The Golden Lily by Richelle Mead

What you'll need -- total cost: $5-10

1. Drab clothes -- throw on khaki pants or skirt with a plain white blouse. Sydney's known for being an understated dresser.
2. Gold face paint and a brush. 

You'll use that to paint this design on your cheek:

Golden lily tattoo
Tattoo pattern from VA Wikia

3. A can of Diet Coke or a Starbucks coffee cup to carry around

4. Optional: blond wig and a hot, dark-haired guy with green eyes to follow you around and make snarky comments.

Costume Two: Anna from Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake (Tor Teen)

What you'll need -- total cost: free to $15

1. Long white (or light colored) dress that you don't mind splattering with red paint or fake blood (see below.)

2. Makeup: use purple eyeliner to make "purply veins" all over your face, neck and arms. Then put on some black lipstick. 

3. Buy fake blood to splatter the dress with or make your own here with corn syrup, food coloring, and chocolate syrup. Yum!

4. Don't forget those crazy eyes!

Costume Three: Karou from Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor (Little, Brown BYR)

What you'll need -- total cost: $5-10

1. Blue wig or temporary blue hair paint. Once your hair's all blue, you can twist it up and stick a paintbrush into it. Or make a braid. 

2. Tie a wishbone on a cord around your neck. Eat the chicken first, or make your own wishbone out of Model Magic.

3. Make yourself some hamsa tattoos. You can find a temporary tattoo tutorial here.

5. Carry around a sketchpad and pencil. You can also tote around a little bag of teeth. Raid your kids' tooth fairy pillow, or get out that Model Magic!

Costume Four: Sexy Steampunk

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What you'll need -- cost: free to $20

1. Victorian-inspired clothing -- think high heeled lace-up boots paired with a black skirt, plus a corset or a lacy blouse or cami. Don't sweat the outfit, because we'll dazzle them with gadgetry!

2. Metallic spray paint and superglue

3. Now for the fun part. Raid your junk drawer, craft drawer, jewelry box, toolbox, and garage. (Or just hit the hardware store.) Here's what you're looking for: gears, washers, brooches and pins -- any old costume jewelry you can take apart, fake gems, metallic buttons -- any interesting little bits of shiny stuff. Think like a magpie!

Superglue all your finds into a fabulous necklace and spray the whole thing with gold or silver spray paint.  You'll get something like this:

Or this:

There are some great tutorials at, which is where I got the photo above.

Warning: it is entirely possible that people won't "get" who you're dressed as.  Just see it as a chance to talk up your favorite book.

Have fun, don't take candy from strangers and don't forget to email me a picture!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Hot Off the Presses: New YA Releases Oct 30-Nov 5

Hot Off the Presses -- brand new YA releases!

Hot Off The Presses highlights great new YA releases for the coming week.

Wondering what new YA books are coming out October 30-November 5?
Check out the new releases and comment to enter to win Venom!

Click on the covers to get to Goodreads!

Venom by Fiona Paul Rebel Heart by Moira Young Rockoholic by C. J. Skuse

Venom by Fiona Paul -- my review is here!

Rebel Heart (Dustlands #2) by Moira Young (Margaret McElderry)

Rockoholic by C. J. Skuse (Chicken House)

Sapphire Blue (Ruby Red Chronicles #2 by Kersten Tracy Rootless by Chris Howard Touching the Surface by Kimberly Sabatini

Sapphire Blue (Ruby Red Chronicles #2) by Kerstin Gier (Henry Holt BYR)

Rootless by Chris Howard (Scholastic)

Touching the Surface by Kimberly Sabatini (Simon Pulse)

But wait, there are more:

Death of a Kleptomaniac by Kristen Tracy (Hyperion)

No Second Chances (Border Town #4) by Malin Alegria (Scholastic)

The Bar Code Prophecy (Bar Code #3) by Suzanne Weyn (Scholastic)

Dead Girl Moon by Charlie Price (Farrar Straus and Giroux)

Midnight City by J. Barton Mitchell (St Martin's)

Dear Teen Me edited by E. Kristin Anderson and Miranda Kenneally (Zest)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, October 29, 2012

Just Finished Reading ... Venom by Fiona Paul

by Fiona Paul
To be published by Philomel
on October 30, 2012

Source: ARC swap with another blogger

My summary: Cassandra "Cass" Caravello is sixteen years old and betrothed to a boy she barely remembers. An orphan, she lives quietly with her aunt in a villa on San Domenico, an island near Venice. Cass visits the town graveyard one night after the funeral of her friend Livi, and is drawn into both a murder mystery and a secret romance. While in the graveyard, she meets cute (or scary-cute?) with Falco, an aspiring artist. The two of them decide to investigate the death of a girl whose body Cass found in Livi's crypt, a decision that will lead Cass everywhere from artists' studios to a masked ball. When more murdered girls turn up, Cass begins to realize that while she's been hiding something from her aunt and her fiance, other people she thought she could trust have been hiding things from her too.

My take: My favorite part of Venom was -- without question -- the book's setting. I've never been to Venice, so I loved the contrast of the quiet (fictional) island of San Domenico with the all that Venetian glamour and decadence.

Decadence. This book is filled with it, as we watch a sheltered, naive girl explore Venice by night. Much of the plot involves Cass sneaking out of the house so that she and Falco can pursue the mysterious killer, chasing clues from an upscale whorehouse to a masked ball to the studio of a real Renaissance artist, Tommaso Vecellio. (This leads to an artist's model scene that's reminiscent of Jack and Rose in Titanic.)

Yes, Falco is clearly up to something and anyone who has studied any art history will probably figure out what that is. Still, it was lots of fun to wait and see if Cass would catch on or if Falco would 'fess up. And, yes, anyone who has read much historical romance will also know that a girl who is betrothed to an absentee suitor can expect a knock on the door before the book is over! But again, it was pretty fun to sit back and wait for the fireworks. Even after I finished Venom, I wasn't sure exactly where this love triangle was headed. I'm totally #TeamLuca, BTW. Falco seems kind of sketchy, and I think Luca has hidden qualities we haven't even seen yet!

While Cass and Falco think they have found the person responsible for the girls' murders, there are still plenty of unanswered questions to be tackled in Belladonna, the next book in this series.

Recommended for fans of historical fiction, readers who don't mind love triangles, and Italiophiles!

If you've already read and loved Venom, try Poison by Sara Poole while you're waiting for book two. This (non-YA) book also takes place during the Renaissance and follows Francesca Giordano, a young Roman girl whose father mixed poisons for the Borgias. She seeks to avenge his death by taking over his position.  It's Venom meets Grave Mercy -- good stuff!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Extra! Extra! 28

Extra! Extra!

Extra! Extra! is my weekly post featuring any and all exciting blog news.

This weekend I'm linking up to Sunday Post hosted by Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer

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What's on my TBR pile this week? Click the covers to get to Goodreads in a new page!

Okay, I have officially declared November and December as I'm Going to Read Whatever I Want months. So far, so good. Right now, I'm reading this:

Thanks, Little, Brown BYR -- you're the best!

Loving it so far. I'll try to get my review up next week, unless I'm washed away by Hurricane Sandy. I'm ready to read. I'm charging up the Kindle in case we lose power and I have a headlamp so I can turn the pages...

Also on my nightstand:

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What happened on the blog this week?

I reviewed a great ghost story -- Break My Heart 1,000 Times.

I interviewed Laura Bickle, author of The Hallowed Ones -- if you didn't see that, it includes a hilarious story from Laura that prompted all these funny stories in comments about childhood phobias. Check it out!

My friend Heather @ The Flyleaf Review and I discussed YA Bad Girls

Contests you can STILL ENTER!

What's coming up on the blog next week?
A reviews of Venom and -- I hope --  Days of Blood and Starlight and Ask the Passengers!

A brand-new Hot Off the Presses with a giveaway of Venom :) :) :)

This week's winners:

Kristilyn of Reading in Winter won the 90s themed Freebie Friday. Drain You is on its way to her...

Lexi of won the Hot Off the Presses giveaway for October 23. She chose Crewel.

Enjoy your books, ladies :)

Ellice won the Halloween Freebie Friday -- emailing her right now!

Searches that led to my blog:

A lot of "90s and I Love the 90s" searches led to me this week. But guys, I am so excited about this one:

TWO people got to my blog by Googling "overalls 90s girls." I hope they enjoyed all our 90s nostalgia!

Hope you had a great week too! Tell me what's new with you and if you leave a link, I'll visit you back :)

Friday, October 26, 2012

Freebie Friday 22: Halloween Edition

Welcome to Freebie Friday: Halloween Edition!

I love Halloween. The chance to pretend you're someone else for a night is so much fun. 

Then there's the candy! I buy mine at the very last minute so I don't eat all of it. And my kids know that I sneak into their rooms when they're asleep and steal the Almond Joys out of their little plastic pumpkins. In my defense, they don't even like coconut! 

I also love scary books and movies. Well, those that aren't TOO scary. My preference is for ghosts and witches. 

My perfect Halloween movie marathon:

Halloween (1978) Yes, this is technically a horror movie. But because it's so old-school, I can handle it.

perfect not too scary movie marathon

Ghost Busters (1984) A little comic interlude. This one is such a classic! Symmetrical book stacking! Ghosts with OCD -- that's the kind of ghost I'll be.

Silence of the Lambs (1991) This is also borderline too scary for me, but it's such a great movie. Usually, when a movie is made from a book, I think the book is better, but in this case I think the movie might be! Clariiiiiice!  I get chills just thinking about it! 

So, for a chance to win your choice of one these scary books AND a zombie finger puppet:

Dearly Departed by Lia Habel (zombies!)
This Is Not a Test by Courtney Summers (even more zombies!)
Haunting Violet by Alexandra Harvey (ghosts and seances!)
Velveteen by Daniel Marks (a vengeful goth ghost girl!)
Break My Heart 1000 Times by Daniel Waters (ghosts and a serial killer!)

... give me your favorite Halloween confession in comments. Tell me about:
  • the best costume you ever wore OR
  • what candy you can't get enough of OR
  • what movie/book scares the pants off you!
Open internationally. Accepting entries until Sunday at 8 am EST.

And don't miss the chance to enter my Halloween Spooktacular Blog Hop Giveaway!  MORE scary books to win and more finger puppets up for grabs....

Here's the Google Doc so you can leave an email -- if your comment links to an account/blog/page that has an email link, the zombies and I will find you. Heh heh heh....

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Bad Girls of YA

Here's what Rizzo from Grease has to say...

"There are worse things I could do than go with a boy or two.
Even though the neighborhood thinks I'm trashy and no good.
I suppose it could be true, but there are worse things I could do."

From There Are Worse Things I Could Do, written by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey

When I saw that one of my favorite blogger friends, Heather @ The Flyleaf Review, was planning to do a Bad Girls of YA post, I asked if I could join in.

I did a Bad Boys of YA post a while back. In that post, I talked about the difference between a Bad Boy (a charming rogue) and a Bad Guy (a villain).  The best part about the discussion in comments were the real differences of opinion about what made a Bad Boy. It was fun!

I think the idea of a "Bad Girl" is even more complicated. Being a Bad Boy is mostly seen as a positive thing. But when we call someone a Bad Girl, there are a whole lot of moral judgments that go along with the label. 
I think one of the main characteristics of a so-called Bad Girl is that she doesn't care what anyone thinks -- which is, of course, exactly what gets people talking about her. Here's to the bold, fearless girls of YA -- they're not afraid to lose their tempers, tell it like it is, or follow their hearts... 

1. The Girls Who Get Around 

Nothing gets a girl slapped with the Bad Girl label faster than treating romantic relationships the same way a guy would. Guys who play the field are admired, while girls who do the same get whispered about. 

Midsummer's Nightmare This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen pic name

Whitley from A Midsummer's Nightmare loves parties and doesn't have a problem with one-night-stands. 

In This Lullaby, Remy's relationships all have an expiration date, like a carton of milk. 

Audrey from Good Girls doesn't know she's being photographed in a consensual moment with a guy, and when the photo goes viral, she has to deal with the fact that her friends, family and teachers now see her in a completely different way.

2. The Angry Girls

Anna Dressed in Blood pic name pic name

Death -- their own or that of a loved one -- has made these girls pretty pissed off. Anna from Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake,  Velveteen from Velveteen by Daniel Marks, and Harper From Saving June by Hannah Harrington are all really angry, and they don't care who has a problem with that...

3. The Guilty Girls

Chime by Frannie Billingsley pic name If I Lie by Corinne Jackson

Good Girls are supposed to be perfect. In Chime, Briony insistently tells the reader that she's evil and deserves to die. Chelsea in If I Lie makes a terrible mistake and tries to make amends. Everyone thinks that Quinn from If I Lie cheated on her Marine boyfriend while he was stationed in Afghanistan.

Give me your thoughts about the Bad Girl label or tell me about your favorite YA Bad Girls in comments. And then be sure to head over and check out Heather's post - I loved it!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Interview with Laura Bickle -- author of The Hallowed Ones!

My regular blog readers know that I loved The Hallowed Ones. 

Here's what I said -- you can find my complete review here....

"The Hallowed Ones is a thinking person's thriller, a post-apocalyptic horror story that's both truly scary and deeply thoughtful. Katie is a great heroine -- she feels safe in her small, conservative group of Plain folk, but she's also deeply curious about life outside. When an apocalyptic disaster strikes, the Amish elders preach that tragedy is God's will and obedience is required. Katie tries to follow the rules, but she just can't help but question them. And break them. Will her rebellious ways lead to her salvation or her downfall? I was on the edge of my seat waiting to find out."

I was so excited that Laura agreed to let me interview her...

Jen: Hi, Laura! I’m such a fan of The Hallowed Ones! Thanks so much for agreeing to stop by and answer a few questions…

Laura: Thanks so much for inviting me to come by! I’m thrilled that you enjoyed THE HALLOWED ONES, and I really appreciate the chance to “meet” your readers!

Jen: You’ve said said in other interviews that the idea for writing about a girl in an Amish community facing cataclysmic disaster came about as you thought about who might be best-equipped to survive an apocalyptic event.  If you could give yourself one (non-magical) skill that would help you survive the apocalypse, what would it be?

Laura: Hmm. I think that I’d most like to have a better understanding of native plants. I have some idea of what things are edible around here and which aren’t, but I’d love to know more about what can be used for medicine. I have a terrible black thumb, so I’d be pretty dependent on what I could find and not cultivate on my own! 

Jen: Katie, the main character in The Hallowed Ones, has led a sheltered life but is also curious and independent. Amish thriller heroines are few and far between and yet, Katie’s also familiar. She’s that “Final Girl” in the horror movie who’s smart and cool-headed in the face of danger.

What were some of your ideas about Katie as you were conceptualizing your story? Did she change at all as you wrote the book?

Laura: I wanted Katie to be a strong girl, but not in an in-your-face kind of way. I wanted her to have a really quiet perseverance and strong pragmatism that would carry her through some really awful things that are asked of her.  

The thing that changed the most about Katie as I wrote was her age. I originally intended for her to be an adult woman. But she came out young, as a teenager. She was more na├»ve, more questioning. She struggled with individuating from her family and felt wanderlust more intensely than an adult would. Her challenges ultimately came to define who she was. 

Jen: Between your book and Adaptation by Malinda Lo, I’m becoming suspicious of large gatherings of birds. Are the bird images in your book a Hitchcock thing or is there some kind of avian ESP I should know about?

Laura: In THE HALLOWED ONES, the ravens flee the coming disaster before humans really have an inkling that something terrible has happened. Ravens get a lot of credit for predicting the future. There’s a myth about the Tower of London in our world…that if the ravens that live in the Tower flee, the whole kingdom will fall. As a result, there are several kept in the Tower with their wings clipped today. 

Jen: Okay, so I'm keeping my eye on those birds!
I think that The Hallowed Ones is the perfect scary Halloween read. What kind of things (real or fictional creatures, books, movies) do you find scary?

Laura: Thank you! 

There are actually a whole lot of things that I find scary. 

When I was a really little girl, my grandmother gave me a pair of slippers with plastic clown heads on them. They terrified the daylights out of me, staring at me from the floor near my bed.  I couldn’t sleep – I was a shrieking, teary mess.

My mom, thinking she needed to get those clown slippers out of my sight, shoved them under my bed. And all I could think after that was that the clowns were under my bed. Who knows what terrible things they were doing in total darkness? Eeek!  

Jen: That story is hilarious!  But clowns can be scary. I remember this Scooby Doo episode that had me sleeping with the lights on when I was a kid...

Thanks to Laura for taking the time to stop by. I know she's busy writing The Outside, which is the sequel to The Hallowed Ones. I can't wait to read it!

You can find more about Laura and her books on her website, You can also find her on Twitter or on her blog!

Laura also has a great reading list on her website for those of us who are fascinated with Amish culture.

If you haven't entered my stop on the Spooktacular Halloween Hop -- I'm giving away Laura's book AND zombie finger puppets -- I you can click here to enter to win it!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Spooktacular Blog Hop and Giveaway

If you're looking for Hot Off the Presses, just scroll down to read about new YA releases and enter the giveaway!

I LOVE Halloween and I'm so excited to be participating in the Spooktacular Giveaway Hop, hosted by I Am a Reader, Not a Writer and The Diary of a Bookworm.

What am I giving away? I'm so glad you asked! I picked out two scary YA books that I think you'll enjoy:

The Hallowed Ones by Laura Bickle (published September 2012)

My summary: It's late September -- nearly time for Rumspringa, a tradition in which young Amish men and women are encouraged to leave the fold and experience secular life before returning to undergo baptism. Katie can't wait -- she's looking forward to wearing jeans and going to the movies. But when strange things start happen -- a helicopter crash, abandoned cars -- it becomes apparent that something's gone terribly wrong in the world. The Amish close their gates to the danger and Katie will have to decide if the greatest threat to her life lies outside her safe, familiar community ... or within it.
This book is awesome -- read my complete review here!  And ... click here to check out my interview with Laura!

Possess by Gretchen McNeil (published August 2011)

My summary: Fifteen year-old Bridget Liu is still reeling from the death of father, a police psychologist, the year before. She can't believe her mother is already dating again. Since her dad's death, she's discovered a strange new talent: banishing demons. The Monsignor at her Catholic school has secretly enlisted her help with a few exorcisms around the neighborhood. How can she possibly manage all this, plus the cute guy at school who has a thing for her -- a guy who also happens to be the son of the police chief. As Bridget comes to terms with her new abilities, she'll also discover new and disturbing facts about her father's murder. Loved this one -- read my review of it here!

And -- if that weren't exciting enough... there's even more. 

Two zombie finger puppets!

This giveaway is US only -- sorry -- but... if you're an international reader....

I'll also be giving away the winner's choice of an assortment of scary books this week on Freebie Friday, which is open internationally (I just had an international winner last week) so don't forget to stop by for that too!

To enter this giveaway, just fill out the Rafflecopter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway Now be sure to check out the HUNDREDS of other blogs participating!
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