Google+ YA Romantics: March 2013

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Be a Better Blogger: Set Up Text Expander

Be A Better Blogger is a periodic blog feature in which I share ideas on how to make blogging easier and/or more fun. You can check out my past features like "Manage Your Goodreads Notifications So They Don't Drive You Crazy."

Bloggers log a LOT of keyboard time. Are your hands tired of typing? Here's an easy way to say more with fewer keystrokes. I'd heard about text expander, but it seemed like too much work to set up. And I thought I had to pay for it. And blah-blah-blah.  Okay, I was wrong. It's easy.

With text expander, I tell my computer that certain keystrokes should be changed into a phrase. Then that phrase types itself like magic. So when I comment on someone's blog or post a review on Goodreads and then end it with my command phrase and hit return, text expander automatically converts that phrase into a live link to my blog. Excellent!

I use a Mac, so here's how I set it up on Mac OS Lion* If you use a PC, scroll down for PC instructions.

First, click on the apple icon in the top left corner of your screen.
Select System Preferences.
Select Language and Text on the top row.
Select Text.  A box will pop up with a bunch of secret code. Like, did you ever wonder why your computer changes a "c" with brackets around it into a copyright symbol? Because it's set up that way right here. Scroll down to the bottom of the chart. Under "replace" enter the keystrokes that will be your short command phrase. Under "with" enter the long phrase you want it to be changed into.

Let's say you participate in Top Ten Tuesday every week and want to set up a standard phrase to enter after you comment on someone else's post, like "Here's my Top Ten Tuesday Post. Come Take a Look!"

Tip #1: make sure the command phrase is something you can remember, but also something that you don't normally type. So for my example above, maybe you'd use ,TTT as your command phrase. So you'd type that in the "replace" field

Tip #2: The replacement phrase can also include HTML code. How cool is that? If want to end every comment you leave on another blog with a link to your blog, you can do that with a few keystrokes instead of cutting and pasting.

To add a link, in the "with" field you'd type this, replacing my blog address (in red) with yours and my phrase with whatever you prefer.

Be sure to hit return after typing the command. Then, one last step so that this nifty trick will actually work: turn on text expansion on Safari.

How do you do that? Easy:

Open Safari.
Right click (or control click) anywhere on an open Safari window you can type text. Like a search box or a comment box.
Choose Substitutions/Show Substitutions.
Enable Text Replacement.

PC Instructions: Thanks to Lifehacker for these instructions :)

Download and install a text expander like PhraseExpress. Start it up to see your current list of snippets—it'll usually come with a few to start you off, but should probably delete them and set up your own.

Click the "new" button and type the text you want to end up with in the big content box. Give the snippet a label (like "Top Ten Tuesday") and an abbreviation (the short command text you'll type to insert your snippet, like ,TTT.)  If you don't know the HTML code to link to your blog, look above at the red and black text between the < and the >. Save your snippet. Open up a text editor and try your command snippet out. If it works, you've done it correctly.

You're set.

Okay, just please don't use your new powers for evil. No spamming us all with the same generic comment repeated on every single blog. Because we notice stuff like that.

If you already use Text Expander, let us know in comments what you use it for!

*Not using OS Lion? I feel your pain. For the longest time, I was running on OS Woolly Mammoth. Not sure if other Apple OS will support this, but you can try :)

I'm on vacation and probably won't be able to respond to comments, but I look forward to visiting your blog as soon as I get back on Monday! I won't be posting tomorrow. To those of you who celebrate Easter, I hope you have a happy one!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Freebie Friday 35: Happy Spring!

Happy Friday!

I'm still on vacation, but I'm also looking forward to doing a little spring cleaning.  I have three books up for grabs:

Let the Sky Fall by Shannon Messenger
Unremembered by Jessica Brody
Revel by Maurissa Guibord

Since I will be way behind on comments when I get home, I'll keep it simple. If you're interested in any of these, please fill out the Google Doc and let me know which ones. I'll draw and notify the winners on Monday, April 1.

International readers, I'm sorry that these are hardcovers and prohibitively expensive to mail outside the US, but you can enter to win a book of your choice here.

This Freebie Friday is over, but please check back on future Fridays!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Just Finished Reading … Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers

Dark Triumph (His Fair Assassin #2)
by Robin LaFevers
To be published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
on April 2, 2013

Source: e-ARC via NetGalley from the publisher for possible review. See my full FTC disclosure on right sidebar.

Buzzwords: assassins, nuns, Anne of Brittany, historical romance

Connect with the author: website : Twitter :  Facebook.

Summary (adapted from Goodreads:) Sybella arrives at the convent’s doorstep half mad with grief and despair. Those that serve Death are only too happy to offer her refuge—but at a price. Naturally skilled in both the arts of death and seduction, the convent views Sybella as one of their most dangerous weapons. But those assassin’s skills are little comfort when the convent returns her to a life that nearly drove her mad. And while Sybella is a weapon of justice wrought by the god of Death himself, He must give her a reason to live. When she discovers an unexpected ally imprisoned in the dungeons, will a daughter of Death find something other than vengeance to live for?

My take:  I love historical fiction. And I really enjoyed the companion book to this one, Grave Mercy. You can read my review of that here.  But here's what I loved about Dark Triumph. It doesn't matter if you've read Grave Mercy or not, or if you liked Grave Mercy or not, or even if you love historical fiction or not. While the two books are separate parts of a larger story, they are really completely different in structure and tone.

I loved Grave Mercy, but can see that it might appeal more to the diehard fan of historical fiction. Grave Mercy spent much more time on set-up and scene-setting, and on the assassins' training. The romance is (as I said in my review) of the very slow-burn variety.

Dark Triumph jumps right into action, just giving you the historical information you need to know to understand the story. Assassin nun Sybella has been sent to live in the home of d'Albret, a noble who is eager to wed young Anne of Brittany and gain control over her father's extensive holdings. Sybella knows d'Albret to be a cruel and evil man, and is desperately hoping that she will see the "marque" on him, a sign from St. Mortain, god of Death, that Sybella can kill him.

When Sybella receives instructions from the convent that she must rescue a prisoner in d'Albret's dungeon, the book becomes a nail-biting tale of suspense, filled with fight scenes and action. This is interwoven with the Sybella's story -- the slow revelation of the sad family situation that drove her to seek refuge in the convent.

Dark Triumph is an intensely emotional book, the story of Sybella's traumatic past. I usually don't read reviews before writing my own, but I broke my rule this time and did see that a few reviewers complained about insta-love in this story. I disagree. Yes, Sybella becomes obsessed with the mysterious prisoner who has survived so much. Her desire to keep him alive feels very personal; it seems that by saving him she feels that she can also save herself.

But it seems that every possible obstacle -- both literal and emotional -- stand between Sybella and "the Beast" ever coming together. Dark Triumph weaves a well-known Breton fairy tale into this story in a way that made me SO happy. Well done!

I highly recommend this book to fans of historical fiction and historical romance, as well as anyone who likes books with lots of action and emotion. I'd also recommend it to fans of fantasy like Game of Thrones -- this book takes place in 1487, right after the War of the Roses, which reportedly was a major inspiration for Game of Thrones. Not only does Dark Triumph have a similarly dark and suspenseful feel, it gives you a glimpse into a real-life game of thrones.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday: Revenge Version

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

I'm not linking up today because I'm on vacation!  But if you want to leave a comment, I'll try to visit you back while I'm doing my laundry after I get back...

I really want to read:

by Josin McQuein
To be published by Delacorte
on October 8. 2013

Months ago, I put this on my "Books to Read if You Like the TV Show Revenge" list. 
I've grown tired of Revenge (the show) but I never get tired of a good revenge story.

Then Blythe of Finding Bliss in Books put up a pre-review on Goodreads.

Now I really want this book!

Here's the Goodreads summary:

A week ago, Dinah’s cousin Claire cut her wrists. Five days ago, Dinah found Claire’s diary and discovered why. Three days ago, Dinah stopped crying and came up with a plan. Two days ago, she ditched her piercings and bleached the black dye from her hair. Yesterday, knee socks and uniform plaid became a predator’s camouflage. Today, she’ll find the boy who broke Claire. By tomorrow, he’ll wish he were dead.

Interested? You can add it to Goodreads here:

My original WoW image from:

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Hot Off the Presses: New YA March 26-April 1

Hot Off the Presses -- brand new YA releases!

Welcome to Hot Off the Presses! Every Tuesday, I tell you about all the great new YA books releasing that week, then give you a chance to win one. If you're a reviewer, you can also link your blog or Goodreads reviews of any YA book publishing this week so we can all check them out! Clicking on the photos or highlighted titles will take you to Goodreads.

As there aren't as many new releases during the last two weeks of March, you can link any March release anytime between now and April 1.  I'll announce new releases each week, but the giveaway will extend through April 1. The winner can choose anything they want that is priced up to $15 US at either Amazon or the Book Depository. Open internationally.

So, what YA is releasing March 26-April 1? 

Impostor by Jill Hathaway Going Vintage by Lindsey Leavittt With All My Soul by Rachel Vincent

Impostor by Jill Hathaway (Balzer + Bray)

Going Vintage by Lindsey Leavitt (Bloomsbury)

With All My Soul by Rachel Vincent (Harlequin)

If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch Money Run by Jack Heath Rotten by Michael Northrop

If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch (St Martin's Griffin)

Money Run by Jack Heath (Scholastic -- reissue from 2008)

Rotten by Michael Northrop (Scholastic)

A Corner of White by Jaclyn Moriarty That Time I Joined the Circus by JJ Howard Period 8

A Corner of White by Jaclyn Moriarty (Arthur A Levine)

That Time I Joined the Circus by J. J. Howard (Point)

Period 8 by Chris Crutcher (Greenwillow)

Also releasing this week:
Shadow on the Sun (Black Hole Sun #3) by David Macinnis Gill (Greenwillow)

Wasteland by Susan Kim and Laurence Klavan (HarperTeen)

Black Helicopters by Blythe Woolston (Candlewick)

Avenger (Halflings #3) by Heather Burch (Zondervan)

Get Ready for War (Hollywood High #2)  by Ni-Ni Simone and Amir Abrams (KTeen)

Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass by Meg Medina (Candlewick)

Hot Off the Presses aims to include every traditionally pubbed YA, small publisher or large. If I missed something, feel free to link it up and please let me know! a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, March 25, 2013

Fairy Tale Giveaway Hop!

Welcome to my stop on the Fairy Tale Hop, hosted by I Am a Reader Not A Writer, The Book Rat and A Backwards Story.

What am I giving away? Well, I love the classic fairy tales, and...
I LOVED these two books:

Which one did I like better? I'm not sure. So I'm going to send you both! 
Winner will receive a paperback of Cinder and a hardcover of Scarlet, both by Marissa Meyer. These companion books are futuristic retellings of Cinderella and Little Red Riding Hood. 

US only, sorry. But if you live outside the US, you can enter to win a book of your choice here!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Extra! Extra! 49

Extra! Extra!

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

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


Giveaways you can SHOULD enter: 

Link any March YA reviews for a chance to win a book of your choice of us to $15 from TBD or Amazon -- open internationally!

Enter to win a copy of the fantastic YA contemporary If You Find Me! US/Canada.

New Books!
I don't get sent ARCs that often. I'm not complaining, because I get a lot to read from NetGalley and Edelweiss. But the other day, these two came in the mail.

Thanks SO much to Penguin Teen and Macmillan Children's Books for these two!

Reviews you might have missed:

If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch -- see my take on this unflinching coming of age story.

Clockwork Princess -- spoiler free review -- by Cassandra Clare  -- did you really think I was going to tell you the ending?

This Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith -- which chick flicks did this book remind me of?

Coming Up Next Week:

Reviews of two amazing historical YAs: Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers and The Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters.

I'll be a stop on the Fairy Tale Giveaway Hop!

A Be A Better Blogger Feature.

Plus, I'm trying out new readers Feedly and Bloglovin' and will be doing a comparison soon.

Recent winners:

Freebie Friday March 8: Sara of Forever 17 Books and Inky of Book Haven Extraordinaire

Clockwork Princess giveaway #1: Shubhi S. 

Clockwork Princess surprise giveaway from yesterday: Jen R from Book Exhibitionism!

That's all my news. What's new with you? Let me know in comments and leave a link so I can visit you back! 

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Just Finished Reading … This is What Happy Looks Like

This Is What Happy Looks Like
by Jennifer E. Smith
To be published by Poppy
on April 2, 2013

Source: e-ARC via Netgalley. My full FTC disclosure is on the right sidebar.

Buzzwords: chick lit, summer romance, meeting cute, pigs as pets, whoopie pies

Connect with the author: Twitter : website.

Summary from Goodreads: When teenage movie star Graham Larkin accidentally sends small town girl Ellie O'Neill an email about his pet pig, the two seventeen-year-olds strike up a witty and unforgettable correspondence, discussing everything under the sun, except for their names or backgrounds. Then Graham finds out that Ellie's Maine hometown is the perfect location for his latest film, and he decides to take their relationship from online to in-person. But can a star as famous as Graham really start a relationship with an ordinary girl like Ellie? And why does Ellie want to avoid the media's spotlight at all costs? 

My take: This Is What Happy Looks Like is a book that reminded me…. hang on just a second. I have an idea.

Do you speak fluent Chick Flick?  Then I can explain this book to you in ten seconds.

This Is What Happy Looks Like is a YA mash-up of:

Notting Hill -- ordinary person who finds love with a famous actor
What A Girl Wants -- character who isn't close to his/her biological father
You've Got Mail -- two unlikely people meet cute through email, never exchanging their real names

pic name What a Girl Wants You've Got Mail

Like a chick flick, This Is What Happy Looks Like is a charming, feel-good story that requires a bit of suspension of disbelief. First, the statistical probability that two teenagers would email each other over an extended period of time without also Googling, Facebooking, Skyping or Instagramming the other is …. almost zero. The idea that a seventeen-year-old male movie star would be interested in a ordinary girl who loves poetry and scoops ice cream over the summer as more than just a fling is also somewhat unlikely.

If you can get past that (and I could!) This Is What Happy Looks Like is a fun, heart-warming story. I didn't love it quite as much as The Statistical Probability of Love At First Sight, which I thought had more of a necessary dark side to contrast with all the cute. But This Is What Happy Looks Like did a lot that made me … happy. 

I liked the fact that This Is What Happy Looks Like used a dual POV, alternating chapters from Ellie and Graham's viewpoint. The setting -- a coastal Maine town in which tourist and locals uncomfortably co-exist over the summer -- felt so realistic that I could feel the sand between my toes and smell the sea air. I liked the relationship between Ellie and her friend Quinn, which strained over the fact that Ellie didn't ever tell her friend about the mysterious guy she was emailing. There are some minor subplots -- about a pig and whoopee pies -- that added a nice dose of quirk to the mix.

While Ellie -- with her ice cream store job and her love of poetry -- felt realistic to me, I can't say the same of Graham. I wasn't completely buying the fact that he was already weary of fame at seventeen, especially since he'd only been discovered two years earlier in a high school production of Guys and Dolls. If he'd been a child star or had crazy stage parents, I might have bought the fact that he was tired of being famous. Same goes for Ellie's Big Secret. I don't want to spoil it, but again, in the age of Google and the dirt-digging media, the whole thing didn't add up for me.

But such is the burden of the romantic. To enjoy chick flicks and books about true love at seventeen, you must suspend disbelief. Does a Jake ever really fall for a Samantha in high school? Can Bridget Jones really land a gorgeous and successful barrister using nothing but wacky mishaps and adorable squinting? In order to fend off existential despair, we must believe these things to be true.

I'd recommend This Is What Happy Looks Like to fans of romantic comedy and to readers of contemporary YA who like their books sweet and light, like a scoop of sherbet on a hot summer day.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Spoiler-Free Review and Pop-Up Giveaway: Clockwork Princess

Clockwork Princess
by Cassandra Clare
Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books
on March 19, 2013

Source: bought

Summary (adapted from Goodreads:) A net begins to tighten around the Shadowhunters of the London Institute. Mortmain plans to use his Infernal Devices, an army of pitiless automatons, to destroy the Shadowhunters. He needs only one last item to complete his plan: he needs Tessa Gray. Charlotte Branwell, head of the London Institute, is desperate to find Mortmain before he strikes. But when Mortmain abducts Tessa, the boys who lay equal claim to her heart, Jem and Will, will do anything to save her. For though Tessa and Jem are now engaged, Will is as much in love with her as ever. As those who love Tessa rally to rescue her from Mortmain’s clutches, Tessa realizes that the only person who can save her is herself. But can a single girl, even one who can command the power of angels, face down an entire army?

NONE of those spoilers here. 

My take: I have enjoyed this trilogy so much. I love the London setting, love the literary references to Dickens and Tennyson and Scott, love all the intrigue and mystery. Most of all, I LOVE these characters. Cassie Clare has a wonderful way of writing characters that practically leap off the page and make you fall in love with them, root for them, worry for them. And Clockwork Princess was no exception. There was a LOT of worry involved.

Many of us had thought so much and worried so much that we'd thought up every possible outcome to the story: Will dies, Jem dies, Will and Jem die, Tessa makes some sacrifice to save Will and Jem. Tessa ends up with Will or Jem. Or neither. To me, it felt like anything might happen.

So I started reading feeling like I was ready for anything. While that was true in a way, I was not ready for the way that reading the ending to this trilogy would actually make me feel.

There are some great moments here. Incredibly poignant moments. Incredibly sad moments. Suspenseful moments. And even funny moments. I think that all my questions were answered: who or what is Tessa, what is Tessa's clockwork necklace, what is Mortmain up to, who is Brother Zachariah, and even, yes… what happens between Tessa, Jem and Will.

Was I happy with the outcome?

The funny thing about love triangles is that the ones that seem believable and realistic are the ones that can't end well. I honestly couldn't think of any outcome to this triangle that I could be 100% happy about. There was one thing that happened that was a huge shock to me, another thing that surprised and charmed me, and a couple of other things that were incredibly moving and bittersweet. Sorry to be so mysterious, but I promised no spoilers!

And … because the winner of my prior giveaway was international, I have an extra copy of Clockwork Princess that I'd love to share it with one of my US readers. This is going to be a fast giveaway -- I'm leaving on a trip and I'm sure you don't want to wait a day longer than necessary to get reading. I'll draw the winner tomorrow morning and mail the book out tomorrow, provided that I get the winner's mailing info before the post office closes.

US only this time, because my other winner was international!

If you are entering, please check the email you use for Rafflecopter tomorrow. If I don't hear from the winner by 3pm EST, the book will be mailed on April 1.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Blog Tour: INTERVIEW with If You Find Me author Emily Murdoch

If You Find Me
by Emily Murdoch
To be published by St. Martin's Griffin
on March 26, 2013

Yesterday, I reviewed a fantastic new contemporary YA, If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch. Today, I'm so excited that, as part of the book's blog tour, hosted by The Midnight Garden, Emily is able to stop by and answer a few of the questions I had after reading her book.  St. Martin's Griffin is also offering up a copy of the book -- you can enter in the Rafflecopter at the bottom of the post.

Emily Murdoch is a writer, a poet, and a lover of books. There's never a time she's without a book. When she's not reading or writing, you'll find her caring for her horses, dogs and family on a ranch in rural Arizona, where the desert's tranquil beauty and rich wildlife often enter into her poetry and writing. 

Jen: Welcome to my blog, Emily! I loved If You Find Me and am so excited that you could stop by and tell us more about your book.

Emily: I’m so glad you loved the novel. That’s always the hope, and when many people love your book, it’s the most amazing feeling. I’m honored to be here! Thank you for the warm welcome.

Jen: If You Find Me opens as Carey and her younger sister are found after years of hiding in the woods with their mother. The Hundred Acre Wood is a huge part of your story. How did you go about conceptualizing this place as both a setting and as a source of memory and emotion for Carey?

Emily: I wanted this novel to be a study in opposites. A kind of this versus that.  In the case of Winnie the Pooh, such a “normal” part of many peoples’ childhoods, versus the abnormality of Carey and Jenessa’s upbringing. Innocence versus experience. Pooh’s wisdom versus the thought processes of a mentally ill, drug-addicted mother.

Regarding the woods, I was surprised to find out after the fact that trees symbolize the good mother. So, add in Carey’s trees versus Carey’s mother. Also, I thought of Carey’s woods as being Carey’s church. So, God and nature, versus man’s (sometimes darker) nature. 

Jen: I read If You Find Me immediately after finishing another fantastic St. Martin’s YA book, Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell. In that book, Eleanor is bullied for her unconventional looks. In contrast, Carey’s beauty eases her acceptance at a new school, though her time in the woods prevents her from believing that she’s beautiful inside and out. Can you talk a little bit about your choice to make Carey beautiful, and about beauty in general as a theme in your book?

Emily: I’d love to – because it was a deliberate, pre-pondered decision. Carey’s beauty is again a case of this versus that, another study in opposites. It posits the question, would you choose to be thin and beautiful like Carey, if it meant having to inhabit her life? Her horrors? Her lacks?

What makes a person beautiful? If you feel ugly on the inside, can you even feel or see your own beauty, whether physical or otherwise? Can the inside cancel out the outside? Can the outside cancel out the inside? And is beauty all it’s cracked up to be? Is it really the key to the city?

Perhaps it’s time “beauty” became synonymous with love, kindness, charity. The warm glow we kindle inside ourselves and others after extending our hands and hearts and pledging our tolerance. In the countenance of those moments lives an almost unbearable beauty unmarred by time or age. An inclusive beauty, where everyone is welcome.

 Jen: Melissa – Carey’s new stepmother – seems like one of those people who just quietly holds everything around her together.  Your bio says that you care for family and horses and dogs. I wonder if you see some of yourself in Melissa, or if you have a Melissa figure in your own life?

Emily: Unfortunately, I don’t have a Melissa figure in my own life, but I wanted to see what would happen if Carey did. How such a maternal figure would impact her or heal her or change her.

As for me, whenever I need some mothering, I flip on the radio to 94.9 and listen to the Delilah show. (You can find out all about her at She’s on each night from seven pm to midnight, and she’s very much like the world’s mother. She fills a person up in the best ways, which is why I modeled Melissa after her. 

Jen: A lot of YA books have edged into the 400+ page range. At 256 pages, If You Find Me feels both compelling and complete. Did the length of the book change much during editing? Do you think the fact that you’re also a poet encourages you to be more succinct in your storytelling?

Emily: What smart questions!

If You Find Me’s length remained consistent throughout the process. I like my writing tight; at least, as tight as I can make it, once I accept that perfection is impossible.

I do think my poetry background renders me more succinct. With poetry, words are a precious resource and specific combinations are used to evoke the most potent emotions or paint the most vivid pictures within the space allowed. It’s one of the things I love about poetry; the puzzle of specific words and beats.

I also think a more self-conscious use of space is intrinsic to literary novels. So much of what is said resides between the lines, in the subtext. Off the page. 

Jen:  In middle school, I chose Spring and Fall: To A Young Child by Gerard Manley Hopkins as a poem to memorize and recite. It’s still one of my favorites, and I was excited to see it as the epigraph for your book. Can you tell us a little bit about the relationship between you, this poem and your book?

Emily: Oh, this haunting, universal, emotionally-evocative poem. It’s lovely to find another who loves it like I do.

To me, this poem symbolizes every truth in life we rail against, whatever those may be, because we just can’t bear for x to be true.   

That things end. Seasons. Relationships. Love. Life.  

It’s human nature to rail. To dig in our heels and say no! And if there’s any balm to be found in the truths we’d rather not embrace, it’s that we get better at acceptance with time and experience. With wisdom comes the bigger picture, which can bring comfort. With endings come new beginnings; the hardest part is letting go. Only an empty hand can be filled.

Jen: I’ve read in an interview you did with your critique partner that you recently finished a new novel, D22go. If you’re not superstitious, will you tell us a little bit about that one – that title is super-cryptic!

Emily: I’m not superstitious in that way, but I’d like to keep this idea close, because original ideas are hard to come by.

However, I think it’s going to be the novel I wrote directly before If You Find Me that I’ll be publishing next. But there will be a next novel, and I’m so excited to be able to continue to do what I love, and as an extension, continue to find beauty in the unlikeliest of places and share it with everyone.

Jen: Thanks again for taking the time to answer my questions, Emily. I can’t wait to read your new book!

Emily: Thanks for having me, truly. You really put my brain cells to work, and I had a wonderful time chatting with you! 

 Be sure to check out all the other stops on the tour, which include Emily's very moving kick-off post, plus other guest posts, interviews and more!

If You Find Me Tour Stops:

3/18  The Midnight Garden
3/19  Alluring Reads
3/20  Live to Read 
3/21  YA Romantics
3/22  Winterhaven Books
3/23  Once Upon a Prologue
3/24  Hobbitsies
3/25  ExLibris Kate
3/26  Xpresso Reads
3/27  Bookish
3/28  Great Imaginations
3/29  Good Books and Good Wine

Now, enter to win a copy of this amazing book. I'll draw the winner on Monday, April 1.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Just Finished Reading … If You Find Me

 photo IYFMbanner_zps74cee63f.jpg

If You Find Me
by Emily Murdoch
to be published by St Martin's Griffin
on March 26, 2013

Connect with the author: blog : Twitter : website.

Heads up on content: There is some potentially disturbing subject matter here. Nothing is gratuitous or extremely explicit and, as you will see from my review, I highly recommend this book. As always, email me if you have any questions!

Summary (adapted from Goodreads:) A broken-down camper hidden deep in a national forest is the only home fifteen year-old Carey can remember. The trees keep guard over her threadbare existence, with the one bright spot being Carey’s younger sister, Jenessa, who depends on Carey for her very survival. All they have is each other, as their mother comes and goes with greater frequency. Until that one fateful day their mother disappears for good, and two strangers arrive. Suddenly, the girls are taken from the woods and thrust into a bright and perplexing new world of high school, clothes and boys. Now, Carey must face the truth of why her mother abducted her ten years ago, while haunted by a past that won’t let her go… a dark past that hides many a secret, including the reason Jenessa hasn’t spoken a word in over a year. Carey knows she must keep her sister close, and her secrets even closer, or risk watching her new life come crashing down.

My take:  If You Find Me combines the suspense of a thriller and the beautiful writing of a literary novel with the intense emotional experience of a unflinching coming of age story. If You Find Me is unique and unforgettable book, a book that will stay with you long after you've turned the final page.

There were so many things I loved about the book. First, the writing. Emily Murdoch's bio says she's a poet as well as a writer, and it shows. The book is filled with beautiful phrases and descriptions, and Carey's voice is distinct and engaging. Carey's spent years living in the woods with her mother and younger sister. With no television and no peers, Carey's speech patterns reflect her mother's -- complete with dropped G's and anachronistic expressions. While I love accents in real life, I was concerned that the whole book would be written in misspelled dialect, which is something that tends to result in me throwin' up my hands in annoyance. Not to worry -- as Carey transitions from the woods to the real world, she makes an effort to speak "properly," but her dialogue and internal monologue still retain some of her quirky phrasings and unique take on the world.

I loved the intense emotional journey that reading If You Find Me entails, a journey that was at times frightening, heartbreaking, and inspiring. As the story opens, Carey and Jenessa are being ripped from the only home they've even known. Since I was reading on a kindle, I hadn't seen the book's blurb and wasn't sure if the people "rescuing" the girls were even to be trusted.

As Carey adapts to her new life, she's haunted by her old one. She can't face her future until she comes to terms with her past. For me, this part of the book was incredibly suspenseful. Carey drops a few hints as the book progresses, and my apprehension increased. I actually had to stop reading a couple times, because I had a feeling about the revelations that were to come, and I was afraid. I don't want to say too much about what happens, because Carey's emotional journey is full of surprises for the reader and I wouldn't want to spoil even one.

I also enjoyed the themes of family, nature and beauty that I noticed in If You Find Me. Family bonds are broken and remade. The Hundred Acre Wood -- where Carey lived for years with her mother and sister in a broken-down camper -- is a source of beauty and comfort to Carey, and also a source of unease and fear.

I'm always curious about writers' influences, and I noticed on Emily's Goodreads bio that she listed these authors as some of her favorites: Laura Ingalls Wilder, Frances Hodgson Burnett, and Lucy Maud Montgomery. Not only are these some of my favorites as well, but having read many books by these authors, I can actually see the way that If You Find Me fits into this list.  The kinship that Mary Lennox of The Secret Garden feels with the natural world, the way Anne Shirley of Anne of Green Gables slowly and fearfully integrates herself into her new family, Laura Ingalls' sometimes awkward adjustment from prairie to town -- I see Carey as in fitting right into this trio of tough, resilient literary heroines who get knocked down hard by life but discover that the world is still filled with magic and beauty and people who care.

I have an interview scheduled with Emily Murdoch tomorrow as part of the blog tour, and I look forward to asking her about some of these aspects of her story. St. Martin's Press is also letting me give away a copy of the book as part of this tour. I hope you can stop by!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Hot Off the Presses: New YA March 19-25

Hot Off the Presses -- brand new YA releases!

Welcome to Hot Off the Presses! Every Tuesday, I tell you about all the great new YA books releasing that week, then give you a chance to win one. If you're a reviewer, you can also link your blog or Goodreads reviews of any YA book publishing this week so we can all check them out! Clicking on the photos or highlighted titles will take you to Goodreads.

As there aren't as many new releases during the last two weeks of March, you can link any March release anytime between now and April 1.  I'll announce new releases each week, but the giveaway will extend through April 1. The winner can choose anything they want that is priced up to $15 US at either Amazon or the Book Depository. Open internationally.

So, what YA is releasing March 19-25th?

Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare Fox Forever by Mary Pearson Tiger by William Richter

Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare (Margaret McElderry)

Fox Forever (Fox Chronicles #3) by Mary E. Pearson (Henry Holt BYR)

Tiger (Dark Eyes #2) by William Richter (Razorbill)

My Life in Pink and Green by Lisa Greenwald 17 & Gone by Nova Ren Suma Pretty Girl 13 by Liz Coley

My Summer of Pink & Green by Lisa Greenwald (Amulet)

17 & Gone by Nova Ren Suma (Dutton)

Pretty Girl-13 by Liz Coley (Katherine Tegen)

Also releasing:

OCD, The Dude, and Me by Lauren Roedy Vaughn (Dial)

Everafter (Kissed by An Angel #6) by Elizabeth Chandler (Simon Pulse)

The Art of Wishing by Lindsay Ribar (Dial)

Hot Off the Presses aims to include every traditionally pubbed YA, small publisher or large. If I missed something, feel free to link it up and please let me know! a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, March 18, 2013

Just Finished Reading … Impostor by Jill Hathaway

by Jill Hathaway
To be published by Balzer + Bray

Source: ARC sent by publisher for review

Connect with the author: Blog : Twitter.

Summary (adapted from Goodreads:) Vee Bell’s gift (or curse) of “sliding”—slipping into the mind of another person and experiencing life, briefly, through his or her eyes—has been somewhat under control since she unwillingly witnessed the horrific deaths of her classmates six months ago. But just as things are getting back to normal, Vee finds herself in stranger and stranger situations with no memory of getting there, she begins to suspect that someone she knows has the ability to slide—and that this “slider” is using Vee to exact revenge on his or her enemies.
My take: I've always loved mysteries. As a kid, I watched Scooby Doo and read Nancy Drew. In the summers, I worked my way through shelves of my mom's old Agatha Christie books. I'm always looking for great new YA mysteries.

I really enjoyed Slide, the first book in this series. You can read my review here.

While Slide was definitely a mystery -- with main character Vee convinced that mysterious "suicides" at her school are actually murders and trying to solve the crimes by sliding into the consciousness of the suspects, Impostor starts out as more of a creepy suspense story.  When Vee finds herself at the side of a road in her father's wrecked car with no memory of how she got there, she's convinced that there's another "Slider" out there -- someone who is sliding into Vee's consciousness and making her do his or her bidding. Creepy! Problem is, Vee doesn't know who the person is or what their agenda could be. But then, when a seemingly harmless revenge prank against a fellow student does turn to murder, Vee's unsure who's to blame. Could she have been the killer when she was being controlled by this other slider?

As in Slide, Impostor features plenty of suspects and tons of weird happenings. Jill Hathaway excels at fast-paced plotting and twisty writing. In Impostor, I was never sure what was going to happen or who to suspect. There are also a few romantic complications for poor Vee, which had me chewing my nails, as Rollins - with his leather jacket and his zine -- is one of my favorite YA book guys.  As in Slide, the killer seemed to come a bit out of nowhere. But I liked the fact that the mean cheerleaders in Slide were given a lot more emotional depth in this book, and I loved the new developments in the relationship between Vee and her sister Mattie.

I have really enjoyed this series and am excited to see what happens next. There's a revelation near the end of Impostor that suggests that things might get even more interesting for Vee in books to come.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Extra! Extra! 48

Extra! Extra!

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

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


Happy St. Patrick's Day!

I'm very excited about the fact that The Clockwork Princess comes out in only two days. If you haven't entered my giveaway for a signed copy (open internationally, but international winner will receive an unsigned copy from TBD) then click here to enter!

I did not buy any new books this week! I'm really trying to get my TBR pile under control. I did read some amazing books over the weekend, including Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers. It was great!

I also was approved for this on Edelweiss --thanks to MTV Books/Gallery Books!

Dirty Little Secret
by Jennifer Echols
Coming out July 23, 2013

Reviews this week:

Deep Betrayal by Anne Greenwood Brown -- what did I think of this mermaid book?

Special Blog Features:

What are you up to this weekend? What's new in your reading? Leave me a link so I can visit you back!
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