Picture drawn by Maggie Stiefvater, 2009. Header made by S.F. Robertson, 2010.
Click here for a list of mid-East Coast (PA/NJ/MD/DC/VA/NC) book events! (last update: 1/12/13)
Current Contests- Amity by Micol Ostow (ends 8/24), The Art of Lainey by Paula Stokes (ends 8/27), and The Sound of Letting Go by Stasia Ward Kehoe (ends 8/24)

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Blog Tour- Evil Librarian by Michelle Knudsen

Evil Librarian by Michelle Knudsen
"He’s young. He’s hot. He’s also evil. He’s . . . the librarian.

When Cynthia Rothschild’s best friend, Annie, falls head over heels for the new high-school librarian, Cyn can totally see why. He’s really young and super cute and thinks Annie would make an excellent library monitor. But after meeting Mr. Gabriel, Cyn realizes something isn’t quite right. Maybe it’s the creepy look in the librarian’s eyes, or the weird feeling Cyn gets whenever she’s around him. Before long Cyn realizes that Mr. Gabriel is, in fact . . . a demon. Now, in addition to saving the school musical from technical disaster and trying not to make a fool of herself with her own hopeless crush, Cyn has to save her best friend from the clutches of the evil librarian, who also seems to be slowly sucking the life force out of the entire student body!"- summary from publisher


About the author

Michelle Knudsen is the author of The Dragon of Trelian and The Princess of Trelian, as well as the best-selling picture book Library Lion, illustrated by Kevin Hawkes; Argus, illustrated by Andréa Wesson; and Big Mean Mike, illustrated by Scott Magoon. Michelle Knudsen lives in Brooklyn, New York.

and here's an interview with Michelle:

1) How did you get the idea for Evil Librarian?

This was one of those stories that I just sort of started writing, without any idea what it was about. I was taking a break from a different, heavier novel, and suddenly Cyn’s voice was just there in my head, and I started writing down what I heard. I liked what she had to say, and so I kept going, writing to find out what was going to happen next. Cyn’s not a high-school version of me, but she does love a lot of the same things that I do ... including musical theater and swoon-worthy guys. I had a lot of fun with her story. Plus it gave me an excuse to listen to Sweeney Todd (and rewatch the video of the 1982 Angela Lansbury/George Hearn production) over and over again, which was possibly my most favorite research ever.

2) You've written a lot of books for younger children. What brought you to the YA genre? Was it a genre you'd read a lot from before diving into it?

I started out in children’s books on the editorial side, at Random House Books for Young Readers. I worked on everything from board books to early chapter books, and read everything from board books to YA novels, and so from the start I always felt comfortable reading and eventually writing books for various age groups. I’m not sure why it took me until now to write a novel for teens ... for a while my ideas just mostly seemed to come for younger books, and so those were the books I wrote. I could tell as soon as I heard Cyn’s voice that she was in high school, though, and knew her story was going to be for an older audience than my earlier books.

When I was in high school, there wasn’t anything like the amazing variety of YA novels that are out there today. Mostly back then I was reading adult fantasy and science fiction, but many of those had main characters who were young adults (and some have since been repackaged for the YA section). So I think that also helped set the stage a little for writing fantasy and paranormal YA stories of my own.

3) What's your favorite Jelly Belly jelly bean flavor(s)? Or, if you don't like those, your favorite snack to have while writing or as a reward for writing?

I must admit, I’m not a huge jelly bean fan. If there are a bunch of jelly beans in a bowl, I tend to go for the green ones, but I know Jelly Bellies go far beyond the basic color/flavor spectrum. I would probably have to do some serious taste-testing to figure out my favorite. But as far as other candy-type rewards go, I really like Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. For a long time those were my #1 go-to choice at the end of a night’s work. (I tend not to snack too much while actually writing — it makes it hard to type!)

4) What are you currently reading, or are about to start?

As usual, I’m in the middle of a few different books. My current bedside novel is Elizabeth Wein’s Code Name Verity, which is amazingly good. I just started the audiobook of John Scalzi’s new novel Lock In (the version read by Wil Wheaton), and I’m liking that a lot so far, too. And I’m very slowly making my way through George R. R. Martin’s A Dance with Dragons. (I read the first few Song of Ice and Fire novels when they first came out, long before the HBO series, and LOVED them, but I’m not finding myself as helplessly sucked into this book as I was the earlier ones. Still working on it, but it’s definitely my back-burner book; I keep it on my Nook and my phone for when I’m stuck somewhere without something else to read.) Not sure what will be up next; I have so many books in my TBR piles, and they all look so good — it’s very hard to choose!

Check out all the previous stops on the tour!


Elizabeth O. Dulemba

Random Chalk Talk

Books 4 Your Kids

Green Bean Teen Queen

Katie's Book Blog

Word Spelunking

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Rumble by Ellen Hopkins

Rumble by Ellen Hopkins
"Matthew Turner doesn’t have faith in anything.

Not in family—his is a shambles after his younger brother was bullied into suicide. Not in so-called friends who turn their backs when things get tough. Not in some all-powerful creator who lets too much bad stuff happen. And certainly not in some “It Gets Better” psychobabble.

No matter what his girlfriend Hayden says about faith and forgiveness, there’s no way Matt’s letting go of blame. He’s decided to “live large and go out with a huge bang,” and whatever happens happens. But when a horrific event plunges Matt into a dark, silent place, he hears a rumble…a rumble that wakes him up, calling everything he’s ever disbelieved into question."- summary from Amazon

I am a huge fanboy of Ellen's books and have read every single one of them (including her two adult novels), so this review will be pretty much a bunch of gushing. What I love about her books is that each story is so different and focuses on such different characters, experiences, and settings. This is told from a boy's perspective, which she's done now a few times though I don't think she's done it for a whole book (the ones I'm thinking of are multiple POV books she's done, like Impulse, Tilt, and Smoke). She does a wonderful job with Matt's voice and his inner anger and turmoil toward most of the world and faith in general.

There's a lot of interesting arguments both for and against faith, as well as different applications of faith (Matt's girlfriend, her dad, and church youth group apply it the wrong way, lol). The most intriguing application deals with a book being challenged (The Perks of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky)- there's not a whole lot of page time given to this thing going on but Hopkins makes sure that it still packs a punch in the message behind it. Religion has no place in determining a school reading list.

The only thing that bothered me mainly had to do with the summary (which she didn't even write, so it's not really a problem with her at all, lol). I kept expecting this "horrific event" to happen for the longest time, so I kept being like "oh, maybe this is when it will happen." or "Oh, I bet will happen!" and it never happened. For the record, the event doesn't happen until well past page 400, which makes the "calling everything... into question" part very short and abrupt. It didn't feel like enough time was given to really getting into the aftermath of that event and Matt's questioning period.

Overall though, another great read from Hopkins and I am eager to read more of her books. If you haven't read her (and regardless of if you enjoy verse or not), please go out and do so now! And if you have read her before, be sure to check out this newly released book!

FTC: Received ARC from publisher (thanks to Ellen and Siena!). Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Review + Giveaway- The Art of Lainey by Paula Stokes

The Art of Lainey by Paula Stokes
"Soccer star Lainey Mitchell is gearing up to spend an epic summer with her amazing boyfriend, Jason, when he suddenly breaks up with her—no reasons, no warnings, and in public no less! Lainey is more than crushed, but with help from her friend Bianca, she resolves to do whatever it takes to get Jason back.

And that's when Lainey and Bianca stumble across a copy of The Art of War. With just one glance, the girls are sure they can use the book to lure Jason back into Lainey's arms. So Lainey channels her inner warlord, recruiting spies to gather intel and persuading her coworker Micah to pose as her new boyfriend to make Jason jealous.

After a few "dates," it looks like her plan is going to work! But now her relationship with Micah is starting to feel like more than just a game. Can fighting for what she wants help Lainey figure out what she really needs?"- summary from Amazon

I really enjoyed Stokes' debut novel, though some people may definitely balk at the heroine Lainey throughout the novel. I know I did a little bit, but what kept me going was the subtle changes I could see in Lainey's character as I read her story and following her along on her journey. She's not always likable but I feel like she's very realistic. People make bad decisions, they're stuck in their ways, and don't want to venture out of their comfort zone (or what they feel has become their comfort zone)- this is how Lainey is. She has the seemingly perfect life, but it just really isn't as perfect as she thought it was.

I really enjoyed a lot of the characters from this book, especially Lainey's friend Bianca and of course the wonderful sexual tension and chemistry between Lainey and Micah. Readers also get a great treat with the recently released prequel novella Infinite Repeat, which is from Micah's point of view.

Overall, a solid debut from Stokes and I'm excited for her next novel Liars Inc., out next March.

I also have a giveaway from Paula Stokes herself! Depending on your location, one winner will receive a signed Art of Lainey paperback and bookmarks (for US residents), or an order of Art of Lainey from The Book Depository and a signed bookplate and bookmarks (for international residents). All you have to do is leave a comment on this post by Wednesday, August 27 at 9pm EST and you're entered. For an extra entry, leave a comment on my interview with Paula from the other week.

FTC: Received e-galley from Edelweiss. Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Summer Blog Tour- The Sound of Letting Go by Stasia Ward Kehoe

For sixteen years, Daisy has been good. A good daughter, helping out with her autistic younger brother uncomplainingly. A good friend, even when her best friend makes her feel like a third wheel. When her parents announce they’re sending her brother to an institution—without consulting her—Daisy’s furious, and decides the best way to be a good sister is to start being bad. She quits jazz band and orchestra, slacks in school, and falls for bad-boy Dave.

But one person won’t let Daisy forget who she used to be: Irish exchange student and brilliant musician Cal. Does she want the bad boy or the prodigy? Should she side with her parents or protect her brother? How can she know when to hold on and when—and how—to let go?

Check out my review of The Sound of Letting Go here.

Author Stasia Ward Kehoe heads to sunny Southern California to visit two awesome YA authors, GRETCHEN McNEIL and CAROL TANZMAN.

After spending a happy summer week at NOVELNOVICE.COM, discussing the writing process, my over-expressive eyebrows and other vital topics, I’m thrilled to be taking THE SOUND OF LETTING GO Summer Blog Tour (click that, you know, ‘cuz there are giveaways) on a virtual summer road trip with some awesome writer pals.

Today, I’m here at Book Chic with two amazing Cali-Gals (er, women): Gretchen McNeil, author of TEN and the upcoming GET EVEN, and DANCERGIRL author Carol Tanzman

SWK: Where should we set up our fantasy beach chairs?
GRETCHEN: Laguna Beach
CAROL: Malibu Beach!

SWK: Hmmm. I’m sensing a pattern here. Will it continue? What are we drinking you Pacific beach beauties?

GRETCHEN: Champagne

CAROL: Other than the sight of all the cute guys surfing? Mango-strawberry smoothies.

SWK: Nope. No pattern on the beverage front. Anyone else wondering what would happen if you spiked a mango-strawberry smoothie with some nice California sparkling wine…? But I digress. What’s stealing the sunshine from your summer, writer-lasses?

GRETCHEN: Worrying about the next book contract I don't have yet.

CAROL: Wrestling with my secret work-in-progress (hint: a supernatural mystery).

SWK: Boy, book contracts and plot problems. Ugh! When you’re fighting those summer blues, what helps put joy back into your summer?

GRETCHEN: Clearance sales at ModCloth and Unique Vintage.

(SWK: Might I say that Gretchen has the most awesome taste in clothes and I want her to take me shopping right now!)

CAROL: Going back to the scene of the crime, so to speak. In a few weeks, I'll be visiting friends and family in Brooklyn, NY, which is the setting for both of my YA thrillers dancergirl and Circle of Silence. Here’s a picture I took in Brooklyn while researching my last novel.
(SWK (editorializing yet again): I LOVE NEW YORK!!!!)
Enter Gretchen’s amazing GET EVEN preorder giveaway HERE. (Giveaway deets: Pre-order your copy of GET EVEN from participating bookstores between now and September 15th and you'll get a signed, special edition booklet* with the first two chapters of GET DIRTY plus bonus material - FREE!)

Curious about Carol’s new thriller? Check out her website: www.caroltanzman.com

Stasia Ward Kehoe grew up dreaming of becoming a professional ballerina but she didn't grow quite enough (she is 5'4") or have sufficiently good knees (they are peppered with surgery scars) to achieve this goal. Instead, she went to Georgetown University from which she received a semi-unintentional BA in English. After working at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, and Random House Publishing in New York, City, and receiving her MA in Performance Studies from New York University, she married a dude who looks just like Clark Kent (the hot geek who turns into Superman), had four awesome sons, and moved to the Pacific Northwest where she now lives.

She then started writing with a vengeance, publishing her first young adult novel, AUDITION, in 2011. She advises not being too specific in your long-term goals however, if you decide to write a book, sit on your backside and don't get up until you have (a) died of starvation or (b) written the words "the end." THE SOUND OF LETTING GO is her second novel and her short-term plan is to write another so, as you read this bio, she's likely got her fingers glued to a keyboard.

Stasia also enjoys artichokes, chocolate (but, come on, who doesn't?), parentheticals (obviously) and turning on her car to an explosion of pop music because the last person to drive it was one of her teenagers--especially if the song is about heartache and healing and has a good dance beat.

You can find Stasia at her website, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Pinterest.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Blog Tour- Amity by Micol Ostow + Giveaway

Amity by Micol Ostow
Connor's family moves to Amity to escape shady business deals. Ten years later, Gwen's family moves to Amity for a fresh start after she's recovered from a psychotic break.

But something is not right about this secluded house. Connor's nights are plagued with gore-filled dreams of demons and destruction. Dreams he kind of likes. Gwen has lurid visions of corpses that aren't there and bleeding blisters that disappear in the blink of an eye. She knows Amity is evil and she must get her family out, but who would ever believe her?

Amity isn't just a house. She is a living force, bent on manipulating her inhabitants to her twisted will. She will use Connor and Gwen to bring about a bloody end as she's done before. As she'll do again.

The book will be out in stores on August 26. And courtesy of Egmont USA, I have a signed hardcover copy of Amity to give away. The contest is open to US/Canada residents and all you have to do is just leave a comment on this post by next Sunday, Sept 24 at 9pm EST. Here's an interview with Micol Ostow:

1) How did you get the idea for Amity?

It was coming time to pitch the second book for my contract with Egmont, and my first novel with them, family, had been a big departure for me tonally (it was much darker than my earlier work). So it felt important to me to try to write something that would serve as a companion to family, that the two might create their own little sub-genre. I was kicking around a few ideas but late one night, happened to come across the original “Amityville Horror” movie on tv (it was around Halloween). Something clicked in my head as I realized that I’ve always wanted to try my hand at pure horror – and what better subject than that classic trope, the haunted house? The original Amityville Horror story, too, fit nicely alongside family (based on the Manson family murders of 1969) as the inspiration for the movie came from a true crime.

Once that seed of an idea was planted, it was just a case of finding the right angle for a YA novel. I went back and forth as to whose story it would be – the boy who’d killed his family? His girlfriend? The sister who’d been killed? The house itself? I realized I really wanted to tell two sides of the same experience, which is how Connor and Gwen’s voices were born.

2) I've noticed that this book and your previous book for Egmont (Family) have been much darker than earlier novels of yours. What caused this transition? Do you still want to write lighter fare as well and move back and forth between the two? What are you currently working on?

I was finishing up my MFA in writing for children, and my then advisor suggested that since I’d already met all of my course requirements, I should try my hand at writing something “just for the heck of it.” I’ve been extremely blessed as a writer in that I came into publishing through the back door (as an editor) and therefore never had to write a whole novel on spec. So the idea of just sitting down to write without a contract or a deadline was completely novel and oddly liberating. The oddest thing about it, though, was what came out: two strange, dark short stories that would become the basis of family.

That said, I definitely go back and forth with what I like to read and write. I have a paranormal YA mystery coming out in 2015, but in the meantime, I’m working on a new, very young chapter book series about a seven-year-old girl in a traveling circus. I’m pretty lucky that my agent and editors (and readers!) allow me to be so diverse.

3) What is your favorite Jelly Belly jelly bean flavor(s)? Or, if you don't like those, what is your favorite food to snack on while writing or as a reward for writing?

I don’t have one particular favorite flavor but I love the jelly belly sours. Although I always eat them too quickly and basically burn all my taste buds off.

I love sweets: candy, chocolate, pastries... but believe it or not, I don’t eat while I’m writing. I tend to work in concentrated bursts and trying to maneuver between Red Vines and the keyboard means I can’t really concentrate on either. Usually I save candy binges for after a good writing session, usually in front of some DVR’d reality tv, or a streaming horror movie.

4) What are you currently reading, or are about to start? Any books you're excited for?

My fellow Egmont author, Jessica Verday, has a horror novel out this fall called Of Monsters and Madness which looks amazing! Also Nova Ren Suma’s The Walls Around Us, which we have to wait until spring to read. Boo.

In the meantime, I’m keeping busy with Adele Griffin’s The Unfinished life of Addison Stone, and Everything I Never Told You, by Celeste Ng.

Check out the next stops on the tour- Monday, August 18 will be at Actin' Up with Books and Tuesday, August 19 will be at A Dream Wihin A Dream.

Micol Ostow has written dozens of books for children, tweens, and teens, but Amity is her first foray into horror. I turns out, writing a ghost story is almost more terrifying than reading one. (In a good way.) Her novel family was called a “Favorite Book of 2011” by Liz Burns at School Library Journal, and her illustrated novel, So Punk Rock (and Other Ways to Disappoint Your Mother), was a Sydney Taylor Notable Book for Teens.

In her spare time, Ostow blogs with the National Book Award-winning literacy initiative readergirlz.com. She lives in Brooklyn, NY, with her husband, her (utterly fearless) daughter, and a finicky French bulldog named Bridget Jones. Visit her online at www.micolostow.com or follow her on Twitter @micolz.