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Author Event With Alley Carter and Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Yesterday, I had the chance to go to Blue Willow to see Alley Carter and Jennifer Lynn Barnes speak. It was perfect timing because I'm flying out tomorrow and would have been crushed to miss them. While I have yet to read any of Jennifer's books, Alley was the author that helped me transition from the world of Middle Grade into YA. Her YA voice with more toned down content is the perfect first step into more teenage books.
Over the course of the speaking session, Jennifer shared about her new series featuring a group of debutants and their misadventures. She discussed how the book ended up being more personal than she first anticipated. In one scene, where a character is duct-taped to a chair, she pulled from her own personal life. In high school, when she was the only girl in physics C, she got left in the boys bathroom with all of her limbs bound to the chair. Luckily, a past of reading Nancy Drew books helped her work her way out of it, and the story earned a place in her …

Into YA with Gordon Jack

After I read the ARC of Your Own Worst Enemy, I got the chance to chat with author and high school librarian Gordon Jack about his sophomore novel, what he's learned, and how teens can get involved in politics both in their high school and their country.

1. Your Own Worst Enemy is full of diverse, humorous characters competing for the class president role. What inspired you to write a book about high school politics?
My editor suggested I write about a class election. At first, I didn’t want to because class elections, at least at my school, are kinda boring. Only a few people run and there’s never really much drama. So, I submitted a different novel to my editor and she hated it and that’s when I had an epiphany: I should write about a class election! The trick, I found, was to make the teens as competitive and immoral as some of our politicians. Once I did that, the writing got way more interesting. I had a lot of fun satirizing all the dirty tricks people play to get elected and…

Your Own Worst Enemy

Your Own Worst Enemy by Gordon Jack (448 pages)
Overview: Stacey is going to be class president. It doesn't matter that two more candidates just threw their hat into the ring. She's been in student government since freshman year. She's running on a recycling program, her best friend, Brian is running her campaign. Obviously, she's perfect for the job. But Julia, the new student from Canada, and Brians new crush, might pose a real threat. She's made powerful alliances as she advocates from the school's minorities, and she's running on a no homework platform. She's different. And then there's Tony who's swept the freshman vote. He doesn't even want to win. He just wants chocolate milk back in the classroom. Overall: 4 

Characters: 4 I enjoyed reading about all the characters. Like the plot, they're all a bit larger than life, but they're compelling as well. Stacy has a thirst for power because she thinks that's her destiny. Her paren…

Creativity and the Ed Sheeran Concert.

Last night, I had the chance to see Ed Sheeran perform. I've been a fan of Sheeran's since my mom started playing his first album around the house before he really cracked the radio. My mom isn't on the cutting edge of music, but she had the right feeling about Ed, and we've been waiting to see a show since.
I've watched the movie on Apple Music, and I know the albums backwards and forwards, so needless to say, I had high expectations. They were all met. He took the stage with a smile and explained his loop pedal and how he is able to achieve all of the layering in his songs completely live, completely alone. His stage is tiny, yet made for the way he moves around it. It's unbelievable that one man can entertain a stadium full of people as well as a massive artist with three backup singers and a squad of dancers. His vocals and instrumentals were on point, and he exploded with life as he flew around the stage jumping up and down the layers of his stage.
While I…

Discussion of NA + Mini Reviews

Today's post is a little bit of a mash up. At the end of the post, I'll be giving two short reviews, one for upcoming release, This Splintered Silence and one for the All The Bright Places audiobook.
But right now, I want to have a short discussion about an area of YA that's very small. It's college aged YA. Sometimes, it's called NA (for new adult), but the category isn't widely used, and, sadly, NA has come to mean sexy YA. This turn has started to destroy that market as its 18-25 year old intended audience tend to go for YA or adult reads instead.
What got me thinking about the need for more upper YA was an amazing post I came across on Twitter by Vicky Who Reads (you can check it out here) who discusses how YA is forgetting it's core audience... teens. She discusses how we need to serve all teens both younger (bridge from YA into MG) and older.
Off the top of my head, I can only think of two books that feature college protagonists (Fangirl, Emergency C…

Ultimate Halloween Book List

At the beginning of October, I unconsciously started reading murder-thriller books. It started with finally reading One of Us Is Lying and then I went to Lauren Oliver's book event for her new book, Broken Things, so I decided I would pick up a few more to read on the many plane rides I've taken recently and make a list for you. I've ranked them by the books I enjoyed most, but I'm also throwing a scariness ranking below too.

1. The Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas
I loved The Cheerleaders. Even if I wasn't narrowing this to just thrillers, this would still be up there. While there's no immediate threat, there's still a sinister feeling five years after five cheerleaders die in a year in three accidents. One of the girl's sister, who investigates, also has a complicated life of her own. Thomas did an awesome job of sprinkling the mystery clues and bringing us a story through such a strong voice. Here's my full Review Here (4.5 stars overall, 2 scare fact…

Little Monsters

Little Monsters by Kara Thomas (324 pages)
Overview: When the new girl comes to town, she makes the perfect prime suspect when her best friend goes missing. When Kacey Young moves in with her father she doesn't know, her step mom, step brother, and half sister, she doesn't know what to expect, but she knows it will be better than living with her mom. Soon enough, she's fallen into place with her new siblings, Andrew and Lauren, and her two best friends Jade and Bailey. Life is great until she stumbles upon the trail of her best friend's possible murder. Overall: 3.5

Characters: 3 What I loved about The Cheerleaders was how real the characters were. They had a weight and gravity that you see hints of in this book, but it isn't quite all the way there. Kacey is the best fleshed out of all the characters. She makes a great main character as she straddles the inside and outside of Broken Falls. While her family members don't have her sense of gravity, their plotted d…

How Do You Read?

Today, I'm talking a little bit about my favorite ways to read books. There are so many options now whether you're a digital reader or print reader! It's easier than ever to get your hands on a book! It seems like everyone has a strong opinion about which form is better, but, honestly, I end to love whatever I'm reading at the moment. I switch back and forth between wanting to read in each format, and that's actually one way I work through my TBR.

Hardcovers: 3 I have a serious love-hate relationship with this format. The truth of the matter, though, is that hardcovers are the best made print books you can get your hands on. The binding stays in tact as you read, the paper tends to be higher quality, and, if you're a book blogger like me, you can protect the dust jacket to get the perfect picture for your review. They sit nicely on shelves too.
But that's pretty much where my love for hard bound books end. They're awesome for every part of reading excep…

The Cheerleaders

The Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas (372 pages)
Overview: Five years ago, five cheerleaders on the same high school squad died in three separate incidents, but how separate were they? That's what Monica wants to know. Her sister, Jen, was the last teen to die in the tragedy when she died by suicide, but Monica isn't convinced it was simply survivors guilt at play. She's also not convinced that Jack Canning was truly at fault for two girls murders or that the car accident that took the final two girls was really an accident. With an unlikely friend by her side, Monica sets out to dig up the truth about what really happened to those five girls even if it jeopardizes her own life. Overall: 4.5

Characters: 5 I loved Monica's voice. Even though it's told in third person, her character really shined through. Despite making some poor choices and putting herself in dangerous situations, she does strive to do what she thinks will bring truth or justice. Ginny, a girl she connects…

There's Someone Inside Your House

There's Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins (287 pages)
Overview: High schoolers are getting murdered. That's the reality in Osborne, Nebraska one fall before Halloween. Each body is stabbed and mutilated. The star of the drama department falls first. The students that follow are the brightest and the ringleaders from their social clicks. The patterns appear and disappear, and the tiny police force can't make heads or tales of it, which is where recent arrival Makani and, her maybe boyfriend and brother of a police officer, Ollie come in. They're both dedicated to predicting the killer's next move before they, or anyone else, end up the next victims. Overall: 4 

Characters: 4 Overall, there was a good bunch of characters. The story is an omniscient third person,  but it mostly centers on Makani. She's recently moved in with her grandmother after a mysterious incident in her native Hawaii required her to move to Nebraska to start over. Ollie is her fema…

Imagine Us Happy

Imagine Us Happy by Jennifer Yu (October 23)
Overview: Stella Canvas knows that her love story is disappointing. That's why she tells you how it ends from the outset. The final fight is the opening chapter. From there, we learn about their tumultuous, unhealthy relationship that started in philosophy class and went up in flames when they realize that they're just two teenagers, and it's impossible to be the world for each other. While dealing with the scraps of her own relationship, Stella is also contending with her parents constant fighting and her two best friends who are slowly slipping away from her as she falls into Kevin. Most of all, Stella is fighting to get to a place of stability with her own depression. Overall: 5 

Characters: 5 Everyone in this book is so real. From her best friends Katie and Lin to her struggling parents and Kevin's best friend, Yago. Even passive characters have their own motivations and complexities.
I loved Stella. Her battle with depres…

Broken Things

Broken Things by Lauren Oliver (408 pages)
Overview: Brynn, Mia, and Owen have been living in exile since they were twelve and thirteen years old for a crime they did not commit. They were not involved in the Summer's murder. They were framed by their fan fiction and a clueless police force that needed a scapegoat. Mia has been forced to homeschool through high school, unable to leave her house. But it hasn't been all bad. Two years ago her now best friend Abby moved to town and joined her schooling group. Owen has been at boarding school in Scotland where he started over after being acquitted, and Brynn has been artificially extending her time in rehab since her accidental almost overdose after Summer's death. That's where the story begins with Mia coming to get Brynn out of rehab so they can clear their names once and for all. Overall: 4 

Characters: 4 I enjoyed the whole cast. Brynn was probably my favorite because she had the strongest identity of the group and also …

A Very Large Expanse of Sea

A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi (October 16)
Overview: Shirin has gone to twelve different schools. Jumping from city to city, state to state, and even country to country, Shirin's parents are always in search of a better life. But a new place didn't always mean better, and Shirin knows that well. Being a young woman who chooses to wear a hijab makes her both an object of crude fascination and, in 2002 post 9/11 world, an object of ridicule. No one around her understands her choices, and, worse, they don't bother to listen about how it makes her feel empowered. She's, sadly, come to expect the negativity, though at every new place she walks into. She lives her life constantly on guard against the abuse of the world which makes it hard for her to understand new boy Ocean's kindness and interest in her as a person. Can she learn to trust someone else enough to let him in? Overall: 5

Characters: 5 Wow. Shirin is an amazing character both in general and as a …