Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (31)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases and books we can't wait to read.

My pick is Vitro by Jessica Khoury!

Goodreads summary:

A death-defying tropical adventure delivers a frightening message about dabbling with creation from the talented author of Origin.

On a remote island in the Pacific, Corpus scientists have taken test tube embryos and given them life. These beings—the Vitros—have knowledge and abilities most humans can only dream of. But they also have one enormous flaw.

Sophie Crue is determined to get to Skin Island and find her mother, a scientist who left Sophie behind years ago. She enlists hunky charter pilot Jim Julien to take her there. But once on the island, Sophie and Jim encounter more than they bargained for, including a charming, brilliant Vitro named Nicholas and an innocent, newly awoken one named Lux.

In a race for their lives, Sophie and Jim are about to discover what happens when science stretches too far beyond its reach.

My thoughts:

I'm so excited for Vitro!  I really enjoyed Origin, and I like the idea of Vitro being a companion novel rather than a sequel.  It'll be nice to read about new, different characters.  I can't wait to pick up a copy of Vitro when it releases on Jan. 14, 2014.

What book are you waiting on this Wednesday?  Comment with a link to your WoW. :)

~ Kaitlyn

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

ARC Review: Olivia Twisted by Vivi Barnes

Goodreads summary:


He tilts my chin up so my eyes meet his, his thumb brushing lightly across my lips. I close my eyes. I know Z is trouble. I know that being with him is going to get me into trouble. I don’t care.

At least at this moment, I don’t care.

Tossed from foster home to foster home, Olivia’s seen a lot in her sixteen years. She’s hardened, sure, though mostly just wants to fly under the radar until graduation. But her natural ability with computers catches the eye of Z, a mysterious guy at her new school. Soon, Z has brought Liv into his team of hacker elite—break into a few bank accounts, and voila, he drives a motorcycle. Follow his lead, and Olivia might even be able to escape from her oppressive foster parents. As Olivia and Z grow closer, though, so does the watchful eye of Bill Sykes, Z’s boss. And he’s got bigger plans for Liv…


I can picture Liv’s face: wide-eyed, trusting. Her smooth lips that taste like strawberry Fanta.

It was just a kiss. That’s all. She’s just like any other girl.

Except that she’s not.

Thanks to Z, Olivia’s about to get twisted.

My review:

Although I've never read Dickens' Oliver Twist, I've read and seen enough movie adaptations of his other books to expect a rather twisted and depressing story.  And in this, Olivia Twisted does not fail; it's very realistic and at times quite sad.

The story starts out strong with its admirably tough protagonist, Olivia.  I definitely felt empathy for her at first and admired how she had stood strong through all that she'd been through.  I was hooked from the beginning.  However, I feel that, although the book started on a good note, I never really felt drawn into it after the first few chapters.  It turned into a slow read.

Of course, Olivia's questionable new friends present many puzzling questions to the plot, which I did enjoy.  And I do think the dual points of view add plenty of intrigue.  I definitely wanted to know what Z's motives were, even though the pace felt sluggish.  And Barnes doesn't let up on her poor characters - the characters suffer a lot and the plot got progressively more and more intricate.  I felt very drawn into the whole world of hackers and the kind of life Z lives.

A few things I didn't like: Um, I didn't really care for the name Z.  It's explained later on, but it still seems kind of weird.  And the fact that one of Olivia's friends convinces her to steal a shirt from a store?  That felt out of character for Olivia.  Even though she's been treated poorly her whole life, I still felt that she had enough common sense not to do something like that.  I didn't like how Olivia's behavior and choices spiral down more and more as the story continues.  Z was too much of a bad influence to her, even though he definitely had good reasons for being the way he is.  And since I wasn't crazy about the characters, I wasn't a fan of the romance; it felt too forced.

But honestly, besides these problems, Olivia Twisted is not a bad read at all.  Its realism really makes it stand out, and it does offer a pretty bleak view of life, as is only truly fitting for a Dickens retelling.  I think it's just one of those "not my cup of tea" cases for me.  However, I'd absolutely recommend Olivia Twisted for diehard Dickens fans or people who enjoy realistic contemporary.

* I received a free copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  Thanks!

My rating:  3 out of 5 stars

~ Kaitlyn

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Stacking the Shelves (8)

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga at Tynga's Reviews.

Here's a picture of my books:

Books I bought:
- Allegiant by Veronica Roth

Books I received:
- Vengeance Bound by Justina Ireland
- Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholke
- Unraveling by Elizabeth Norris
- The Liberator by Victoria Scott
- The Twisted Tragedy of Miss Natalie Stewart by Leanna Renee Hieber  Talk about some exciting books!  (I haven't read any yet except for Allegiant, which I'm currently reading.)  I was lucky enough to win the prize for the gold team in the YA scavenger hunt, so it's been fun to receive lots of new books in the mail!  I can't wait to dive into these new books.

What new books have you gotten?  Leave a link to your StS in the comments! :)

~ Kaitlyn

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Mini-Reviews: The Darkest Minds, The Beginning of Everything, and Just Like Fate

Goodreads summary:
When Ruby woke up on her tenth birthday, something about her had changed. Something alarming enough to make her parents lock her in the garage and call the police. Something that gets her sent to Thurmond, a brutal government “rehabilitation camp.” She might have survived the mysterious disease that’s killed most of America’s children, but she and the others have emerged with something far worse: frightening abilities they cannot control.

Now sixteen, Ruby is one of the dangerous ones.

When the truth comes out, Ruby barely escapes Thurmond with her life. Now she’s on the run, desperate to find the one safe haven left for kids like her—East River. She joins a group of kids who escaped their own camp. Liam, their brave leader, is falling hard for Ruby. But no matter how much she aches for him, Ruby can’t risk getting close. Not after what happened to her parents.

When they arrive at East River, nothing is as it seems, least of all its mysterious leader. But there are other forces at work, people who will stop at nothing to use Ruby in their fight against the government. Ruby will be faced with a terrible choice, one that may mean giving up her only chance at a life worth living.
This book has gotten rave reviews; I'm pretty sure all my Goodreads friends have given it 4- or 5-star reviews.  And The Darkest Minds definitely lives up to all the buzz.  It's a great balance of action, world-building, character development, and strong writing.
What made this sci-fi/dystopian world even more creepy for me is the fact that it's set where I live: Virginia.  I knew many of the places the characters traveled and talked about, so I definitely felt very immersed in the world.  Not only is the world-building fantastic, I loved the strong characters.  Bracken really excels in writing characters who are original and ring true, and I fell in love with all of them.  A certain flashback scene with Ruby, the main character, nearly made me cry.
The only thing that felt a little off was the pacing.  This book is just so long, and I felt like some of it could have been chopped off to make it slightly shorter.  Still, I appreciate how thorough Bracken is with her storytelling; it's quite obvious that the plot was carefully and expertly crafted.  I definitely can't wait to get my hands on the sequel!
My rating:  4 out of 5 stars

Goodreads summary:

Golden boy Ezra Faulkner believes everyone has a tragedy waiting for them—a single encounter after which everything that really matters will happen. His particular tragedy waited until he was primed to lose it all: in one spectacular night, a reckless driver shatters Ezra’s knee, his athletic career, and his social life.

No longer a front-runner for Homecoming King, Ezra finds himself at the table of misfits, where he encounters new girl Cassidy Thorpe. Cassidy is unlike anyone Ezra’s ever met, achingly effortless, fiercely intelligent, and determined to bring Ezra along on her endless adventures.

But as Ezra dives into his new studies, new friendships, and new love, he learns that some people, like books, are easy to misread. And now he must consider: if one’s singular tragedy has already hit and everything after it has mattered quite a bit, what happens when more misfortune strikes?

Robyn Schneider’s The Beginning of Everything is a lyrical, witty, and heart-wrenching novel about how difficult it is to play the part that people expect, and how new beginnings can stem from abrupt and tragic endings.

I have so many reviews I need to write, I honestly didn't intend on writing one for this book, but it left such an impact on me that I can't help myself.  This book made it onto my all-time favorites, which, according to Goodreads, only consists of 69 of the nearly 900 books I've read.  I really can't recommend it enough.
This book is perfect for fans of John Green.  The quirky writing style reminded me of him, as well as the nerdy characters and the heartbreaking ending.  Oh, the writing.  Sometimes, books have these rare and perfect quotes that just relate so much to what you're going through at the time you read it.  That's how this book was for me.  There are so many fantastical lessons to be learned from this book; like how to make choices for yourself and to not let other people tell you how to live your life.  I know that may sound corny and obvious, but it's true.  This book just struck a chord with me.
Plus, the Doctor Who references just made it even more awesome.  And the characters and romance?  Don't even get me started.  The romance is so real and bittersweet, it will break your heart.  And the characters' stories completely resonated with me.  I could go on all day about how wonderful and relatable they were, but this is supposed to be a mini-review, so I'll keep it short and sweet.  Basically: whether you're a contemporary fan or not, The Beginning of Everything is a must-read.
My rating:  5 out of 5 stars

Goodreads summary:
Caroline is at a crossroads. Her grandmother is sick, maybe dying. Like the rest of her family, Caroline's been at Gram's bedside since her stroke. With the pressure building, all Caroline wants to do is escape--both her family and the reality of Gram's failing health. So when Caroline's best friend offers to take her to a party one fateful Friday night, she must choose: stay by Gram's side, or go to the party and live her life.

The consequence of this one decision will split Caroline's fate into two separate paths--and she's about to live them both.

Friendships are tested and family drama hits an all-new high as Caroline attempts to rebuild old relationships, and even make a few new ones. If she stays, her longtime crush, Joel, might finally notice her, but if she goes, Chris, the charming college boy, might prove to be everything she's ever wanted.

Though there are two distinct ways for her fate to unfold, there is only one happy ending...
Hmm, I didn't care for Just Like Fate very much.  Although it's a fast read and there are a few moments where I empathized with the characters, overall this book left a mediocre impression.  I just wasn't crazy about many of the choices Caroline makes.
First off, who on earth leaves their dying grandmother in a hospital to go to a party?  Just...what?  The summary claims Caroline goes to a party to "live her life," but to me, going to a party while her grandmother is close to death proves nothing but Caroline's stupidity and immaturity.  This was the first moment that seriously irked me (along with Caroline's insensitive and clichéd best friend), and I couldn't get over it throughout the whole book.  Then the "other" Caroline gets together with her crush Joel, who is a complete jerk, except she's too blind to see it.  So yeah, I couldn't really stand either of the Carolines.
There were a couple stuff I liked - Chris (the other love interest) is very sweet and funny, and his character was the one that really seemed to stick out to me.  And I did like the unsteady relationships between Caroline and her dad, as well as Caroline and her sister, and how they developed throughout the book.  Unfortunately, it wasn't enough to make me like this book.  I'd had high hopes since the premise is similar to Pivot Point by Kasie West, but sadly, Just Like Fate didn't wow me as much as I'd hoped.
My rating:  2 out of 5 stars
~ Kaitlyn

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Interview with Author Ichabod Temperance

Today I have an interview with author Ichabod Temperance to share!  First, you can find his author bio, information about his books, and links to purchase his books below.

Author Bio:

Ichabod Temperance is a silly little fellow residing in beautiful Irondale, Alabama, along with his lovely muse, Miss Persephone Plumtartt, and their furry pack family.

In a past that never was...

The year is 1869. Earth experiences the close pass of a comet never before seen. In its wake, many of Terra's inhabitants find themselves changed. Among men, prodigies rise in unprecedented numbers, while many ordinary adults suddenly find themselves possessed of preternatural genius. Likewise, non-hominid animals become self-aware and intelligent.

Fast forward to 1875. A young “comet prodigy” from humble beginnings, Ichabod Temperance, has become the world's foremost inventor. He travels to England to deliver his latest brilliant invention to a famous explorer, until Fate intervenes. Meanwhile, a lovely young Bluestocking, Miss Persephone Plumtartt, survives an experimental accident only to find herself imbued with a power she can neither understand nor control, while dark forces and malevolent creatures pursue her, leaving a gruesome wake of death.

Yet, worse is to come. The naïve young inventor and the lovely intellectual find themselves fighting not only to save their own lives, but to prevent the destruction of all life on Earth.


It is New Year's Eve, 1875. In this humorously told Steampunk tale, adventure-prone Ichabod Temperance and his lovely sweetheart, Miss Persephone Plumtartt, once again find themselves swept up into a whirlwind of misadventure and international catastrophe. The entire world totters on the brink of war, as various nations develop arsenals of dreadful power. It seems as though every nation on Earth lusts for Empire. A sinister plot boils to change the course of human history. Along with a remarkable cast of characters, including sapient animals and clockwork men, our heroes find themselves plunged into unimaginable peril!

Purchase links:

A Matter of Temperance

A World of Intemperance


1. What made you choose to write about steampunk?

     I was introduced to the idea of steampunk when I landed an opportunity to do some stunt work on an independent film. "Engines of Destiny" is a sweeping, no-budget, steampunk epic. The impression I got of steampunk from the movie was a charming retelling of science fictions roots. From my wonderful castmates, and the fantastic things I have had the opportunity to do in the film, I decided to embrace the concept of steampunk. My house was halfway steampunk anyway. I was directed to the website "The Steampunk Empire". Here, an individual is encouraged to develop a wildly imaginative steampunk persona. With a persona, it is only natural to develop a backstory. Thus, Ichabod Temperance was born.

2. Whe did you decide to become a writer?

    One of my castmates, a wonderful gentleman by the name of Arthur Hinds, had a long standing profile on the Steampunk Empire site. His home page contained a blog entry adventure. It was fantastic! Reading his story gave me the inspiration to give it a try myself. Please understand, I have never desired to write before. But I talked over a few ideas with my lovely companion, Miss Persephone Plumtartt, and we decided to give it a go. We joined the Steampunk Empire at the first of February, 2013. I started on my blog adventure in the last week of February. So as of this writing, I have been a writer for nine months.
   I am still knocking off some of my amateurish ways! I started just to amuse myself and my friends. I have a tendency to play as I write. Sometimes, what I may perceive as charming, that is, inappropriate capitalizations, sentence fragments, and imaginative spellings, might be perceived as an annoyance to a practiced reviewer. I am remedying that situation as we speak!

3. How did you get the idea for "A Matter of Temperance"?

    While developing my steampunk persona, the weaponry used fascinated me. The unusual weapon my character develops in the adventure is actually the catalyst for the whole premise. But I really did not think I could put two words together until I had my opening line. "The rumbling purr of an impossibly big cat thrums through my body." I thought, Hey, that's not a bad line. I have not stopped since. It took a little over three weeks to write the blog adventure. Miss Plumtartt and I thought we had a pretty good novel on our hands. We put the blog together into a novel and formatted it for kindle.

4. What is your solution for writer's block?

    I have not really been a writer long enough to have suffered from this malady yet. At this time, I have plenty of ideas. I have been involved with a side writing project, though. It is almost over, and I intend to kick butt in my next book.

5. What are some of your favorite books you've read this year?

    I have always enjoyed perfect eyesight. Until the last few years, that is, when I found my arms growing shorter! Reading had become more and more difficult. But the discovery of e-readers has saved reading for me. It makes reading so much easier. My normal fare in reading is of the thriller style, but I have found myself gravitating towards my favorites of when I was young. I've been rereading a lot of Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes of late, and H. G. Wells' "War of the Worlds".

Be sure to check out Ichabod's books on Amazon and Goodreads!

~ Kaitlyn

Monday, October 21, 2013

Book Review: Stir Me Up by Sabrina Elkins

Goodreads summary:

Cami Broussard has her future all figured out. She'll finish her senior year of high school, then go to work full-time as an apprentice chef in her father's French restaurant, alongside her boyfriend, Luke. But then twenty-year-old ex-Marine Julian Wyatt comes to live with Cami's family while recovering from serious injuries. And suddenly Cami finds herself questioning everything she thought she wanted.

Julian's all attitude, challenges and intense green-brown eyes. But beneath that abrasive exterior is a man who just might be as lost as Cami's starting to feel. And Cami can't stop thinking about him. Talking to him. Wanting to kiss him. He's got her seriously stirred up. Her senior year has just gotten a lot more complicated….

My review:

This book was so much more than I thought it would be.  When I started it, I was hoping for a cute, quick contemporary read, and while yes, it is TOTALLY cute and adorable, there's so much more to it than that.  Stir Me Up was so good I stayed up late to finish it despite having to get up early for school the next day. :) I can say with certainty that I'll definitely be reading this author's future work!

While the romance is swoon-worthy, that's not all the story is about.  There's a big focus on Cami and her decisions about her future - planning her career and figuring out whether or not she should go to college.  I really love how Elkins stressed the importance of being responsible and thinking about your future.

Which brings me to my next point: Cami.  What I loved about her is how she's so responsible and mature, a refreshing change from most main characters.  She puts others first, spends time studying, and takes her job seriously.  And she does all this without ever seeming stuffy or too perfect.  I could really relate to her and admired what a strong character she was.  And Julian?  Major swoon, y'all.  I loved how the relationship between him and Cami slowly developed from dislike to hesitant friendship to love.  There aren't enough adjectives to describe how cute and swoony and romantic their love story is!

I also loved the theme of how important family is.  Cami cares deeply about pleasing her dad, and she's patient with her stepmom when she's stressed out.  (By the way, I love how the stepmom is so genuinely kind; that seems so rare in most books!)  It was very sweet to see how much the whole family had grown closer by the end of the book.

Stir Me Up is more than a love story; it's also a story about the importance of family and deciding your future.  This book was both adorable and thought-provoking, and I can't wait for more books by Sabrina Elkins!

* Thanks to Netgalley for sending me a free copy in exchange for an honest review!

My rating:  5 out of 5 stars

~ Kaitlyn

Monday, October 14, 2013

Book Review: Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis

Goodreads summary:

Regret was for people with nothing to defend, people who had no water.
Lynn knows every threat to her pond: drought, a snowless winter, coyotes, and, most importantly, people looking for a drink. She makes sure anyone who comes near the pond leaves thirsty, or doesn't leave at all.

Confident in her own abilities, Lynn has no use for the world beyond the nearby fields and forest. Having a life means dedicating it to survival, and the constant work of gathering wood and water. Having a pond requires the fortitude to protect it, something Mother taught her well during their quiet hours on the rooftop, rifles in hand.

But wisps of smoke on the horizon mean one thing: strangers. The mysterious footprints by the pond, nighttime threats, and gunshots make it all too clear Lynn has exactly what they want, and they won’t stop until they get it….

With evocative, spare language and incredible drama, danger, and romance, debut author Mindy McGinnis depicts one girl’s journey in a barren world not so different than our own.

My review:

I haven't read many dystopians this year, mainly because I'm a bit bored with them after the flood of dystopians following the success of The Hunger Games.  Not a Drop to Drink, however, is a dystopian that is well worth reading, with a remarkably tough heroine and a refreshingly different world. 

First off: I love the idea of this dystopian world!  A world where water is scarce and protected at all costs?  It's scary and real, and I couldn't stop envisioning it actually happening.  Let's just say that, after finishing this book, I had an incredible urge to start stocking up on water.  And the world-building is subtly slipped in as the book moves along, so that we learn more about the world without it ever feeling like an info-dump.

Oh, I just adored all the characters.  I loved Lynn as a heroine.  I don't know why, but I tend to gravitate toward tough, emotionless heroines like her.  Others might find her character too cold and distrustful, but personally I loved the grittiness of it.  It's easy to see how the way Lynn was raised has made her into such a tough girl.  I loved the secondary characters, such as Lucy, Stebbs, Eli, and Mother.  It was very sweet to see how people such as Stebbs and Lucy - strangers to Lynn - eventually worked their way into her heart as she started to open up.

The plot is pure brilliance; it's a wonderful mixture of action and character development.  I read this book in a day because I was so desperate to find out how it all ended.  The drama and tension rises with each chapter.  And this author is clearly not afraid to kill off characters.  *sniffle*

It's been a couple weeks now since I've finished Not a Drop to Drink, and I still catch myself thinking about this book.  What stands out most about it is the realism: from the world-building to the characters to the plot, it was all done very realistically, and the author does not hold back in any way.  I loved this.  If you're looking for a realistic dystopian novel with a serious tone and smart heroine, then this book should be first on your to-read list.  (And hey - it's not another dreaded trilogy!  Yay!)  I know for sure that I'll be reading more of McGinnis's future work.

My rating:  4.5 out of 5 stars


Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Book Review: Invisibility by Andrea Cremer and David Levithan

Goodreads summary:

Stephen has been invisible for practically his whole life — because of a curse his grandfather, a powerful cursecaster, bestowed on Stephen’s mother before Stephen was born. So when Elizabeth moves to Stephen’s NYC apartment building from Minnesota, no one is more surprised than he is that she can see him. A budding romance ensues, and when Stephen confides in Elizabeth about his predicament, the two of them decide to dive headfirst into the secret world of cursecasters and spellseekers to figure out a way to break the curse. But things don’t go as planned, especially when Stephen’s grandfather arrives in town, taking his anger out on everyone he sees. In the end, Elizabeth and Stephen must decide how big of a sacrifice they’re willing to make for Stephen to become visible — because the answer could mean the difference between life and death. At least for Elizabeth.

My review:

To be honest, I wasn't really expecting to like Invisibility when I started it.  I disliked both Cremer's and Levithan's previous work that I had read.  But I liked the unique premise of Invisibility so much that I had to give it a try.  Sadly, it didn't work out for me.

My major problem with Invisibility is the characters.  Stephen is gloomy and has zero self-esteem.  It always felt like he was having a pity party.  Sure, being invisible all your life is tough, but couldn't he at least have a personality?  And when he wasn't being sad and depressing, he was talking in this poetic style that didn't feel like a teenage guy's voice at all.  I hoped I would like Elizabeth, and although she was definitely better than Stephen, I ultimately didn't care about her.  It didn't make sense for her to be so in love with Stephen.

Which brings me to my next problem: the insta-love.  Really?  They see each other and fall in love in less than a hundred pages?  By the end, Elizabeth is willing to sacrifice pretty much everything to save Stephen and be with him.  Um...she barely knows him!

Lastly, I didn't like the plot.  It felt like Invisiblity had no idea what genre it is - contemporary, or paranormal?  The first third was all sappy romance and poetic ramblings, and then it turned into a big jumble of magic and curses.  First insta-love, then a clichéd paranormal storyline. *sigh* I really didn't care for this at all and I don't think I'll be reading any more books by either of these authors.  I'd only recommend Invisibility if you're a fan of Cremer or Levithan.

My rating:  2 out of 5 stars

~ Kaitlyn

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Stacking the Shelves (7)

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews.

Here's my haul - it's a big one this week!  Sorry for the crappy picture, I was kinda running out of space in my room to set out all these books, LOL.

Books I got from the library:

- The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider
- Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
- The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson
- Rush by Eve Silver
- Just Like Fate by Cat Patrick and Suzanne Young
- The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken
- The Elementals by Saundra Mitchell
- Belladonna by Fiona Paul
- Last Sacrifice by Richelle Mead

Books I bought/received:
- Wentworth Hall by Abby Grahame
- Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis
- Eramane by Frankie Ash

Um, whoa.  I was not expecting to have so many books this week.  But what can I say?  My library got tons of new books in.  A girl can't resist the call of those gloriously beautiful book covers. ;) So far I've only read Not a Drop to Drink, but I can't wait to read the rest!

What should I read first?  I really need some help deciding...there are WAY too many books for me to choose from by myself!

What books did you get this week?  Leave a link to your StS in the comments!

~ Kaitlyn

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Book Signing Recap: Authors Brodi Ashton, Jodi Meadows, and Cynthia Hand + Big Announcement!

I don't know about y'all, but this is totally true for me.  I'd much rather meet an author any day than what's considered an "actual celebrity."  Which is why I was so thrilled to get to meet three of my favorite authors today! :D

Brodi Ashton (author of Everneath), Jodi Meadows (author of Incarnate), me, and Cynthia Hand (author of Unearthly)
I'm SO glad I found out about this signing last week.  It was about an hour away from me at a library in Harrisonburg, VA.  I was thrilled.  I've been wanting to meet Brodi Ashton and Cynthia Hand for years.  I already met Jodi Meadows at a Baltimore writing workshop back in June, but it was wonderful to see her again!  All three of these authors had tons of wonderful advice about writing and publishing. 
I really should've taken notes, but I was too busy enjoying myself.  So...this is all from memory.
Fun facts:
The event started with a power point talking about odds: the odds of getting in Olympic gold medal, getting struck by lightning, getting a hole in one in golf, etc., and all these numbers were in the hundred thousands.  The last one listed was the odds of getting your book published: 100 to one. :)
It was so encouraging to hear these authors talk about how long it took them to get published.  Brodi wrote for 10 years before she finally got a book deal with HarperTeen for Everneath.  And Jodi started writing in 2003, and she had 17 complete manuscripts written before Incarnate was published.  17, you guys.  That's amazing.  Jodi also brought a stack of her rejections she'd printed out - she said it was somewhere between 350 and 400!
The power point also included early versions of the authors' covers.  Brodi pointed out that a section of smoke/clouds on the cover of Everbound looks like the shape of a dog's face.  Look at it...once you see it, it can never be unseen. ;) Jodi talked about how she never wanted a cover with a close-up of a girl's face, but when she saw Incarnate's cover, she fell in love and knew it was perfect for her book.  Cynthia showed us the model for Unearthly's cover, as well as some interesting foreign covers.


Wow, there was so much great advice about writing.  One thing Cynthia mentioned really stuck out to me: one difference between professional and amateur writers is that professional writers revise like crazy!  Revision is such an important part of the writing-a-book process.

Jodi said she struggled with world-building for years.  She figured it out by reading books that were known for their world-building, and it really helped her to improve.  The first time an agent complimented her on her world-building, she was thrilled.  I kinda have to agree - her world-building is amazing! :)

Brodi told us that her favorite part of writing is dialogue.  Most of her first drafts, she said, are practically like screenplays because there's so much dialogue!  She said writing descriptions and transitions are more difficult to her.  She also mentioned that in the first draft of Everbound that she turned in, her editor told her the first 30 pages and the last 30 were great, but the middle needed to be completely rewritten.  Wow - that's a LOT of revising.

 Eep!  Brodi signed my book, and I got an Everbound bookmark!

I learned a lot more about the publishing process, like how important it is to find agents.  Brodi said that when you email an agent your manuscript, it can take anywhere from two weeks to forever for them to reply!  For example, I believe it took Jodi 2 years to find an agent and get Incarnate published.

Cynthia told us this fun story about Unearthly.  When she sent it to her agent, her agent was actually having lunch with an editor who was talking about trying to find books about angels!  Cynthia's agent immediately mentioned Unearthly, and the editor was interested right away.  As Cynthia said, though, getting published also depends heavily on what the current trends are - angels, steampunk, aliens, etc.

 It's a little hard to see, but there's a tiny white butterfly I set on the left page.  Jodi crocheted them and was giving them out to everyone who asked questions. :)
Final note:
I had an amazing time and really learned a lot.  I've been writing ever since I was little and I want to get my books published someday, so it was such an encouragement to hear about how these authors were rejected and just kept writing and revising and eventually got published.  They were hilarious and yet full of great advice! :)

 GAH.  Look.  Cynthia signed Unearthly.  I'm such a Cynthia Hand fangirl, I can't even.  She was so sweet!
Lastly, I included a picture of Eramane by Frankie Ash.  She was attending the signing and I was chatting with her before the event started, not even aware that she was also an author.  When she mentioned that her first book had come out recently, I asked what it was called.  She replied by offering me a free copy she had with her!  She even signed it for me!  How cool is that?  I'll be reading it soon, so there will be a review up sometime this month!  In the meantime, be sure to look it up on Goodreads.

Big Announcement:

I'm going to be having my very first giveaway this week!  Yeah, I've never done a giveaway before.  I know, I know, I'm lame.  The reason why is probably because I'm a poor high school student who is also a book-buying addict - kinda makes your money go fast. ;) So, since shipping is so expensive, I thought, why not just have a swag giveaway? 

The giveaway will feature lots of fun swag, including some signed bookmarks, from authors such as Fiona Paul, Elizabeth Richards, Jennifer L. Armentrout, Bethany Griffin, and more!  Keep an eye out as I'll be posting it later this week.

~ Kaitlyn

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Cover Reveal: Don't Look Back by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Don’t Look Back release date: 04/15/2014
Don’t Look Back synopsis:
Samantha is a stranger in her own life. Until the night she disappeared with her best friend, Cassie, everyone said Sam had it all-popularity, wealth, and a dream boyfriend.
Sam has resurfaced, but she has no recollection of who she was or what happened to her that night. As she tries to piece together her life from before, she realizes it’s one she no longer wants any part of. The old Sam took “mean girl” to a whole new level, and it’s clear she and Cassie were more like best enemies. Sam is pretty sure that losing her memories is like winning the lottery. She’s getting a second chance at being a better daughter, sister, and friend, and she’s falling hard for Carson Ortiz, a boy who has always looked out for her-even if the old Sam treated him like trash.
But Cassie is still missing, and the facts about what happened to her that night isn’t just buried deep inside of Sam’s memory-someone else knows, someone who wants to make sure Sam stays quiet. All Sam wants is the truth, and if she can unlock her clouded memories of that fateful night, she can finally move on. But what if not remembering is the only thing keeping Sam alive?
Author Bio:
# 1 NEW YORK TIMES Bestselling author Jennifer lives in Martinsburg, West Virginia. All the rumors you’ve heard about her state aren’t true. When she’s not hard at work writing. she spends her time reading, working out, watching really bad zombie movies, pretending to write, and hanging out with her husband and her Jack Russell Loki.
Her dreams of becoming an author started in algebra class, where she spent most of her time writing short stories….which explains her dismal grades in math. Jennifer writes young adult paranormal, science fiction, fantasy, and contemporary romance. She is published with Spencer Hill Press, Entangled Teen and Brazen, Disney/Hyperion and Harlequin Teen. Her book Obsidian has been optioned for a major motion picture.
She also writes adult and New Adult romance under the name J. Lynn. She is published by Entangled Brazen and HarperCollins.

Social Media sites:

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (30)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases we can't wait to read.

My pick is Crash Into You by Katie McGarry!

Goodreads summary:

From acclaimed author Katie McGarry comes an explosive new tale of a good girl with a reckless streak, a street-smart guy with nothing to lose, and a romance forged in the fast lane

The girl with straight As, designer clothes and the perfect life-that's who people expect Rachel Young to be. So the private-school junior keeps secrets from her wealthy parents and overbearing brothers...and she's just added two more to the list. One involves racing strangers down dark country roads in her Mustang GT. The other? Seventeen-year-old Isaiah Walker-a guy she has no business even talking to. But when the foster kid with the tattoos and intense gray eyes comes to her rescue, she can't get him out of her mind.

Isaiah has secrets, too. About where he lives, and how he really feels about Rachel. The last thing he needs is to get tangled up with a rich girl who wants to slum it on the south side for kicks-no matter how angelic she might look.

But when their shared love of street racing puts both their lives in jeopardy, they have six weeks to come up with a way out. Six weeks to discover just how far they'll go to save each other.

My thoughts:

Katie McGarry is one of my favorite authors.  I'm pretty sure she writes some of the best contemporary romances EVER.  She's extremely talented and I can't wait to read about Isaiah and Rachel!  Crash Into You releases on November 26.

What are you waiting on this week?  If you'd like, comment with a link to your blog so I can stop by! :)

~ Kaitlyn

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

My Top 5 Books of September 2013

Wow, how has September already gone by?  I can't believe it's October!  Well, here's my monthly round-up, with a list of all the books I read in September and then a list of my top five favorites:

- A Darkness Strange and Lovely by Susan Dennard
- The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
- Deception by C. J. Redwine
- Perfect Scoundrels by Ally Carter
- Gorgeous by Paul Rudnick
- Blood Promise by Richelle Mead
- The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen
- The Trouble With Flirting by Claire LaZebnik
- The Distance Between Us by Kasie West
- Rouge by Leigh T. Moore
- Death and the Girl Next Door by Darynda Jones
- Touch by Jus Accardo
- The Book of Broken Hearts by Sarah Ockler
- A Spark Unseen by Sharon Cameron
- Starstruck by Rachel Shukert
- You Look Different in Real Life by Jennifer Castle
- The Iron Traitor by Julie Kagawa
- Spirit Bound by Richelle Mead
- Invisibility by Andrea Cremer and David Levithan
- Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis

My top five favorites:

1. Deception by C. J. Redwine.  This sequel totally blew me away with its twisty plot and complex characters.  It was so action-packed and impossible to put down.  And I love the inventive fantasy/dystopian elements in this book.  Oh, and you'll be an emotional wreck after all the character deaths and cliffhanger ending.

2. The Distance Between Us by Kasie West.  This is one of my favorite contemporaries ever; I love the adorable romance and hilarious main character.  There was so much sarcasm and snark in this book, and it was awesome.  I laughed out loud multiple times.  If you're looking for a read full of sass and heart, this is it.

3. Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis.  I thought I was over the dystopian/post-apocalyptic genre, but this book proved me wrong.  I read it in a single day and couldn't get over how thought-provoking and scary it was.  The main character is tough and smart, which I loved.  Oh, and this is another author who's not afraid to kill off characters.  *sob*

4. The Book of Broken Hearts by Sarah Ockler.  I've loved Ockler's previous books, so it was no surprise that I fell in love with this one.  The romance is so bittersweet and realistic, and I was swept away by the unique cast of characters.  There's many funny moments, and yet surprising depth.  This is a contemporary story to savor.

5. The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen.  Another contemporary!  I've had lots of luck with them this month, apparently.  I can't believe it's taken me so long to read Dessen's work, but I'm so glad I started!  This one might be my favorite of hers yet.  I can't express how much I loved the characters and wonderful storyline.  Dessen is definitely among my favorite authors of all time.

Honorable mentions go to The Great Gatsby and The Iron Traitor!

What were some of your favorite reads this past month?

~ Kaitlyn