Thursday, December 27, 2012

Book Review: THE STATISTICAL PROBABILITY OF LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT by Jennifer E. Smith

The Statistical Probability of Love at First SightThe Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The chance meeting of Hadley and Oliver was at first amusing, then intriguing, and deepened into an endearing, quick read by Jennifer Smith. I loved how the story unfurled from the beginning and wove multiple storylines together. Hadley's parents are divorced and her father is getting remarried. Hadley is American, and her father (after moving to England to teach on a short term basis, eventually dissolves his marriage to Hadley's mother and intends to remarry a British woman he met while there.

Hadley must travel to England to close one chapter of her life by participating in her father's marriage, while she's not ready to face the fact her parent's marriage is over.

Oliver isn't traveling to a wedding. His travel plans are for a funeral.

When Hadley misses her flight, she ends up sitting next to Oliver, and from there a romantic interlude distracts both Hadley and Oliver from fully dealing with their own problems. As their time together continues, both realize they have a spark neither one expected, and both wonder if it's worth the risk to pursue a love that should never have happened. Clearly, it was all a mistake, an accident, a statistical improbability. Or, was it?

I found this story a great and enjoyable read. It reads very fast, and I look forward to seeing anything else Jennifer Smith comes out with. Highly recommended!

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Book Review: SEBASTIAN'S POET by Kevin Craig

Sebastian's PoetSebastian's Poet by Kevin Craig
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

You might experience flashbacks or nostalgia along the way through this quick read of a story, as I certainly experienced throughout Craig's second novel. The story and the characters draw you into the afterparty, the clean-up and the questions that reveal further questions and missing puzzle pieces.

Craig adeptly maneuvers the reader through the story that is one part a happy trip down memory lane interwoven with a heartbreaking tale of a family fractured, broken, and quite possibly beyond repair. Seb or Sebby is the main character, a boy forced to grow up far too young by a mother who quickly leaves, a vacant father ensnared by his own dark past, a younger brother who needs someone to be responsible, and a parade of party guests that come and go leaving Sebby juggling all the beer bottles and overflowing ashtrays.

Along the way, Sebby finds moments of respite when a famous visitor, Teal Landon, "Uncle" Teal to the boys, swoops in and takes some of the responsibility off Sebby's shoulders. But, why he chooses to be so gracious and what's behind the unspecified motives of Teal's and Tommy's (Sebby's father) personal and professional relationships are left hidden behind the smoke and marijuana clouds that permeate the neverending cavalcade of partying and strangers present. To Sebby, it's no gift, either. He's expected to make all the right choices, leaving everyone else to their own devices.

As the story peels back layers of hidden truth and twists along the way, Sebby battles his own heart to save his family.

If I were to compare this book with Craig's YA debut novel, SUMMER ON FIRE, I would choose it over SEBASTIAN'S POET, primarily as a matter of personal preference. Both stories are fantastic, worthy reads in their own way, but I found a stronger connection with Craig's debut. Still, there is much to be said in dusting off your vinyl records, revving up your turnstile and setting down the needle on the pages of Craig's sophomore novel, SEBASTIAN'S POET.

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Book Review: BURNING EMERALD by Jaime Reed

Burning Emerald (The Cambion Chronicles, #2)
Also see my review of Living Violet




Burning Emerald by Jaime Reed
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

So much happens in book 2 of the Cambion Chronicles it took me some time after reading to process and percolate on this one. a definitive and well planned cliffhanger rolling into book 3. Well played, Ms. Reed. I was punched in the gut.

If you haven't read this series yet, get ON IT.

If you haven't read book 1, there are spoilers, reading further. Be warned. Samara and Caleb are back and still working the kinks out to their relationship. This time, both Caleb and Samara have inner Cambion demons to satiate and keep happily fed. But what Samara isn't counting on is the new hot guy in school, Malik and the connection he shares with her inner demon. This creates a tangled love triangle that twists and turns through a gripping plot that will keep you turning pages and breathless all at the same time.

Often with second books in a series, the middle one is more of a doorstop than its own wonderful standalone story. You'll enjoy it more if you read book 1 first, but you could essentially pick this one up and read it without a problem. Most of the highlights of book 1 are touched on to refresh your memory if you've forgotten anything. I enjoyed both books equally well, if not even more so with book 2 and all the shocking revelations and surprises along the way. Many of these I did not see coming.

And, as I alluded to above, the ending is such a huge cliffhanger, I'm chomping at the bit to read FADING AMBER to find out how the story concludes. This is by far my favorite paranormal series, with a unique and hilarious voice that kept me reading and wanting more.

Highly, highly recommended. If you haven't read this series, you NEED to read it NOW.

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Book Review: TWIN SENSE by Lydia Sharp

Twin SenseTwin Sense by Lydia Sharp
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This novella debut by the incomparable Lydia Sharp is such a page turner. Okay, well, it's currently only in ebook format, so it's a clicky clicky...you get the picture. Suffice it to say you'll definitely read this one all in one sitting. It's too good to put down, and you'll want to get to the end of the story to find out what happens, so just keep scrolling, just keep scrolling...

Now that I've read it, I totally understand the cover, too. I love the yellow dresses and how similar they look and how their hands are *kissing* the way their arms do in the spring formal photo op.

I thoroughly loved Lydia's style of writing, the wit and the humor she uses. It seems effortless, but I know it's hours of careful crafting, of laying out each sentence perfectly. It's her signature writing style.

This isn't your typical love triangle thingy, way overdone in YA books, especially contemporary, which this one is. It is a new creature, all together, a love quadrangle, and by that, I mean, all four, all mixed up, and oh so delectable to read and unravel the twists and turns.

Sherri and Layna are dating the Taylor twins, but you'd think they were twins with their special TWIN SENSE ability to sense things the way twins can. And, let's just say, something is always up around these four. Kevin and Keith are the actual twin brothers, and each has their plusses and their drawbacks. Even in so short a space, Lydia crafts amazingly real characters you'll fall instantly for.

For a debut, this is an amazing read, and I hope it's the first of many more to come from this promising YA author.

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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Top 10+ YA Reads for 2012


2012 has gone by in a flurry of days. I can't believe it's nearly over. About this time last year, I started an amazing debut by Tahereh Mafi and finished it just as 2012 began. It has remained among my top reads of 2012 (even though it released November 15, 2011), although I don't count it in the top 10 since it was technically a 2011 book. Still, if you haven't read SHATTER ME, DESTROY ME, and aren't absolutely SALIVATING for UNRAVEL ME, what are you waiting for??? If my first read of 2012 was any indication, 2012 proved to be an amazing year in YA books.

Disclaimer: My list is my list, and probably missed at least one of your top picks for 2012. There are MANY books that came out this year I'm still kicking myself for not reading yet. See my next blog post for that.

To celebrate the awesome words, the shiny covers, the carefully crafted characters, the scintillating world-building (read: not info dumping), and the twisty plot twists that kept me gasping for more, I've compiled my list of the top reads of 2012. Let's get to the list:

10. A TEMPTATION OF ANGELS by Michelle Zink

9.  THE STATISTICAL PROBABILITY OF LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT by Jennifer E. Smith

8. BURNING EMERALD by Jaime Reed

7. DROWNING INSTINCT by Ilsa J. Bick

6. TOUCHING THE SURFACE by Kimberly Sabatini

5. SLIDE by Jill Hathaway

4. UNDER THE NEVER SKY by Veronica Rossi

3. CINDER by Marissa Meyer

1 & 2. TIE: STORMDANCER by Jay Kristoff

1 & 2. TIE: SHADOW AND BONE by Leigh Bardugo


Honorable Mentions (in no particular order):
  • SHATTER ME by Tahereh Mafi (this is a 2011 debut, but I read it over the cusp of 2011/2012).

  • LIVING VIOLET by Jaime Reed (published 12/27/11), although I read this in 2012 and loved it. Book 3 just came out, FADING AMBER and I can't wait to get to the end of this great paranormal series.

  • OF POSEIDON by Anna Banks (definitely in my top reads of 2012)

  • THE DUFF by Kody Keplinger (I'm SO very late to the party, released in 2010, but I don't care! It was TOTALLY worth the wait!)

  • INSURGENT by Veronica Rossi (definitely in my top reads of 2012)

  • BEASTLY by Alex Flinn (confessions of a slow reader, debut in 2007)

  • BEFORE I FALL by Lauren Oliver (released 10/2011) A fantastic read, I HIGHLY recommend.
  • TWIN SENSE by Lydia Sharp (amazingly quick read...I wish it was longer...it ended too soon). You might have noticed this one is also on my sidebar. Yep, it's that awesome.

 
 
So, there you have it. I'll do another blog soon on all the books I'm currently reading (slowly), and ones I SHOULD HAVE read in 2012, but I'm definitely reading in 2013. Also, books I'm dying to read that come out in 2013. That's all for me, so tell me in the comments what books you read in 2012 that you loved (especially if they're not on my list, but even if they are), and books you wished you read in 2012, but plan to read in 2013. Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Book Review: SHADOW AND BONE by Leigh Bardugo

Shadow and Bone (The Grisha, #1)
Also see my review of Siege and Storm




Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Ten out of ten shuddering stars would only be the tiniest flicker of light this book well deserves. I am in awe of the amazing world of Shadow and Light and Bone and Blood. Leigh Bardugo, there are no words. You've laid them down exquisitely, and I just want to sit in the dark space after closing the book, having read the last pages, and soak in all the wonderment you brought me through.

Wow.

"The woods were silent in their grief." One of my most favorite quotes from the book. I cannot elaborate where it comes into play or ruin a special moment for the reader. But I will say you must read this book with eyes and heart and soul opened to the whispered moments Bardugo has deftly woven together with the aid and skill of the Fabrikators and their ilk.

So many wonderful characters to get to know and fall in love with, some of whom do not survive throughout the pages herein. Still, this does not diminish where the light and darkness takes you, where Alina must ultimately go to find herself and her purpose and her strength.

I enjoyed the way Bardugo built her world from the beginning in an orphanage, through all the ranks and colors of the army, all the way up to the darkling and the royal family. The richness of the Russian-like culture seeps through the pages, and gives a wonderful vibe to the rest of the story. The way she wove these details into the story did not require a glossary or appendix of definitions, nor was it so complex as to flummox the reader. I thoroughly enjoyed Bardugo's world and can't wait to read what's next.

If you've any further doubt over whether you should or should not RUN IMMEDIATELY to your nearest locale and buy this book and do NOTHING ELSE until you've read every word, then trust me to tell you: this is the book worthy of your time. DO IT NOW. Sensational. Literally. Good and Evil, Darkness and Light, Shadow and Bone. It's all there. And kisses in the dark. Many kisses. Many dark places.

Read it quickly. You'll be holding your breath so much, you might pass out otherwise. Someone should attach a reader warning on the side, or else watch as readers everywhere pass out from too much amazement, tension, and wringing of hands.

View all my reviews

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Book Review: STORMDANCER by Jay Kristoff



If you've read my blog this year, then you know how much love I have for STORMDANCER by Jay Kristoff, and if you haven't seen my fanboying all over the place yet, then feast your eyes on the blog I posted to win the last ARC. Well, I lost, but I did eventually win a signed hardcover copy of Jay's amazing debut and swag as well. I even hosted a giveaway to share the love. Not that winning had anything to do with my review. I rated the book on the merit of the writing alone. But, receiving cool stuff for a book I adore, well, that's gravy.

Just so you know, STORMDANCER is among the top 5 books I've read in 2012, so when I get around to posting my end of the year blog about the best of 2012, you'll remember I told you it would be among the best of the best. As for what other books made it in my top 5 and top 10 book lists, you'll have to wait to find out. Feel free to share your own thoughts in the comments below.


Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I'm still struggling to come back down off the high that was a riveting, gripping ending, like the sweat beading beneath the fist clenched around the hilt of a sword. I am in awe. Wow. I must go to bed, but I will come back to update this review completely as it deserves all the words. Wow.

Yukiko doesn't see herself the way her father does. Instead she carries the shadow of her mother and brother and the stink of lotus. For her, life must be filtered like the air she breathes through a cloth. She's aged by the harsh world she lives in, pressed between the thumb and finger of the emporer, Shogun Yoritomo and the futile task to hunt the extinct thunder tiger, an arashitora, for his vainglorious plan to conquer the world of Shima.

And, then there's the Kenning, the ability to speak to animals, a power the guild finds blasphemous and impure. All who have revealed such power have been summarily executed in the public square. While Yukiko struggles to be all that her father wasn't, she doesn't realize how much she's like her old man. She can't get away from his shadow, even if it reeks of sake and failure.

The journey north in a skyship not only reveals more of Yukiko's struggle with her father and his mistress, but a strange boy of mystery who only later reveals where he comes from. Meanwhile, Yukiko's dreams are troubled by another boy with sea-green eyes. Below, the lotus crops corrupt the land and all who live there, a cancer, oppressing everyone and everything.

Yukiko also faces her past in the dark and lonely hours aboard the skyship as they travel toward the mountains where the ronin dwell.

When Buruu is found and captured, it comes with a great cost, and Yukiko and her father are separated. Alone again, Yukiko is forced to make a difficult choice and bargain with the arishitora who could kill her as soon as look at her. An uneasy alliance is formed and a bond is kindled.

After the battle with a horde of blue oni demons, Yukiko must make a choice if she is ever to return to her father and find her own place in a dying world.

This was an incredible read, visceral, and true to the Asian culture I lived in for more than a year after college. I loved all of the plot twists and surprises along the way and tried to savor every word of Kristoff's densely imagined world. It is richly appointed and fully realized.

You will not only root for Yukiko, but for Buruu as well.

I highly recommend this book, and look forward to book 2 and 3. This is among my top 5 reads for 2012. If you haven't read it yet, get this book and read it. You'll be glad you did.

View all my reviews

Friday, December 14, 2012

CINDER Paperback, SCARLET, and a Surprise Honoring My Blog

I dream of writing and publishing a book worthy of the many accolades Marissa Meyer's debut, CINDER has received. Well, today, I am one step closer to realizing that dream. How you ask? Well, stick around and you'll find out.

If you've forgotten my previous gushing about CINDER, Book One of the Lunar Chronicles, check out my review HERE. You might even recall during the Month of CINDER, I hosted a giveaway for a hardcover copy HERE. Well, Macmillan invited those of us who blogged about Marissa Meyer's New York Times Bestselling novel to participate in a secret event, and I was among those who responded.

Keep reading further to found out how I get to share pages with CINDER.

If you haven't read CINDER yet, you should. It would be a perfect addition to any Christmas (or other Winter Celebration) List. You can read an excerpt HERE. Also, recently the first chapter of SCARLET has been released and can be read HERE.

What are you waiting for? Oh, you're one of those who like to read everything in paperback? Well, don't worry. The paperback for CINDER is scheduled for release on January 8, 2013. That's just weeks away, people! Weeks away. The paperback will include the following bonus material:
 
-Special bonus story, entitled Glitches
-Q&A with author Marissa Meyer
-Reader’s Guide
-Sneak peek of Scarlet
 
SCARLET releases and will go on sale beginning February 5, 2013. This is another reason to get CINDER read before then. Obviously, you'll want to read Book 2 of the Lunar Chronicles the day it releases once you've come to your senses and caught up on reading CINDER.

If you have a Kindle, or Kindle for PC (I use this for my DROID, so I can read on the go), you can read the first 5 chapters of CINDER and SCARLET for FREE. Clicky. Clicky.
 
Now it's time to share how I came to my senses after checking my email and discovered that I hadn't fallen and hit my head really, really hard...okay, maybe that, but I still somehow live in a universe where MY NAME is going to be published inside the stunning novel I am voraciously studying (comparable title) as I prepare to write my very own fairytale retelling in YA format (My current WIP. You can see more about that here.) Can you believe it? Nobody pinch me. Ever. I'd hate to find the spell was broken. Oh, and I have proof. The marketing team sent me a blog button to PROVE I'm one of the featured blogs, and I've got a watermarked picture to show how the feature page might appear. Check it out below!
 

 
My blog name appears at the bottom of her calf, near the top of her ankle, CENTER STAGE!!!
 
...*feels faint* *passes out* *clunks head on the way down* *dies* *dies repeatedly*...
 
Now that you've had a sneak peek, what books have you added to your holiday wishlist? Please post your top picks in the comments below. Happy Holidays! Read lots of books.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Book Review: TOUCHING THE SURFACE by Kimberly Sabatini

Touching the SurfaceTouching the Surface by Kimberly Sabatini
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I'm amazed how well Kimberly Sabatini took me on a journey as a reader not unlike the journey Elliot, the MC of TOUCHING THE SURFACE is on as a third timer at the Obmil, a sort of afterlife sanctuary one must stop at when you're not done with the life you've abruptly left behind. For me, I reflected the loss of my mother, who passed away unexpectedly a year ago. Thus, this novel was a very personal journey for me. But, what I discovered about myself, and the loss of my mother was through the lense of Elliot.

As Elliot grew, so did I, in understanding and forgiveness of myself. Perhaps this is what Kimberly had in mind all along. TOUCHING THE SURFACE has a way of leading the reader, if you're willing, to a place of enlightenment drawn carefully and dangerously on the edge of a sharp blade, one you can dive off of into the depths, and come back up to the surface of a peace you've only imagined.

This sounds crazy if you haven't read this amazing debut, but I hope you'll take the risk and dive in. Trust me, it's worth the read. If you can survive all the twists and turns and surprises along the way.

My advice: Don't look back, you'll just see the road disappearing right behind you. Don't look too far forward down the road, it's not even there yet, it doesn't exist. Instead, be HERE. Be in the present. Be NOW.

This book is unlike anything you'll come across, and I hope you'll experience it along with me. This is one that will change your life. It changed mine. Thank you, Kimberly!


View all my reviews

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

TOUCHING THE SURFACE Author Interview and Personalized Giveaway

On the blog this week is an exciting interview I conducted with Kimberly Sabatini, debut author of Touching the Surface from Simon Pulse due for release on October 30th, 2012. Get your copy preordered at Amazon or B&N now! You may also add the book on Goodreads. This is one you don't want to miss!



Touching the Surface Interview Questions

 

Kim, thank you very much for joining me for this interview and giveaway as we draw closer to your debut novel’s release day on October 30th, 2012. Let’s cozy up with a homemade cup of hot chocolate, some chocolate chocolate zucchini bread, and a warm fireplace. Now that we’ve got the mood set, let’s discuss your first book with my blog viewers and followers. First of all, the cover is GORGEOUS!

 

Touching the Surface is a self-described heart-book, and one that started with a question. Can you walk us through how that journey started for you, and how it grew from a question to a full-blown book?

The biggest question at the heart of this book wasn’t completely clear to me until after I’d finished writing it. It began as an unconscious idea that began to surface after the death of my father. He’d died young, at fifty-seven, leaving too many stones unturned. Because his passing sparked my own self-examination and need to grow, it felt weird to me that death would be a free pass to enlightenment—especially when I was left behind to figure out so many of the same things that I knew we both needed to master. Rather than feel alone on this scary, epic journey of becoming a better person, I pictured him in some alternative place, working on the same types of things that I was—growing just like me. I didn’t realize it at the time of writing, but by creating the Obmil, I had built the place that I pictured my dad.

 

As I’ve read up on Touching the Surface, and your next book The Opposite of Gravity, I quickly realized you’re pretty deep when it comes to writing. Can you share about that? Why is depth important to you in a book, and what do you hope will resonate for your readers as a result of that depth?

Writing is a form of therapy and growth for me. In order to get anything worthwhile out of the process, the work has to resonate. I write lots of funny and light blog posts and I love that side of my personality, but so far it seems that when it comes to novels, I need to dig stuff up from a deeper place. I write to understand myself and my place in the world. I usually write about the things that scare me because they don’t seem so terrifying after I’ve addressed them. (I admire your bravery!)

 

I’ve learned you’re a runner, and I’m intrigued by the way that might parallel your writing journey, and Elliot’s journey (your main character), through Touching the Surface. How has the exercise of running informed the writing of, and essentially the journey Elliot must face at the heart of Touching the Surface?

Running is very similar to that feeling I get when I’m lying in bed, halfway between sleep and awareness. Ideas seem to shift around in different ways than when I’m looking at them head on. When my feet and breathing find a rhythm and I let my mind go—where ever the heck it wants to—things have a way of floating to the surface. Sometimes I’m so busy, I don’t give myself the time to daydream—running gives me the time and space to do that. I suspect that’s why Elliot is a hiker. :o) (Slipstream, right?)

 

If you haven’t already answered this above, what might Elliot run from? What must she run toward?

The only thing we ever really run away from is ourselves and ironically it’s really the same thing we run towards. We try to leave our less than favorite parts behind and if we’re motivated, we go searching to find a better version of who we are. Life is a very circular process—no matter how much we try to straighten it out.

 

I’m a state certified English teacher, so forgive me if I get a little book crazy. I am fascinated with the way many teen books and young adult books allude to famous works of literature. Can you think of an allusion for Touching the Surface, intentional or subconscious? You can also draw comparisons between other YA literature, if that’s easier.

I’m not sure I can say much more than I write with Lois Lowry’s THE GIVER sitting on my shoulder. (I love that book and only recently learned it’s now a quartet! To the TBR pile!)

 

Agents often make comparisons when pitching a book to a publisher. Was that the case for Touching the Surface? If so, can you share with us what books yours was compared to?

When I was on submission my book was compared to IF I STAY by Gayle Forman and BEFORE I FALL by Lauren Oliver. It’s an honor to have my book in the company of theirs. The wonderful thing about comparable books is that even though each one tells a very different story, it helps you to find an audience that has a proclivity to your type of writing. I’ve read both of these books and absolutely loved them. (I was going to mention Before I Fall, myself. Glad to know I wasn’t far off with the connection.)

 

What first drew you to Touching the Surface, the story or the characters?

They developed in tandem. That seems to be the way I like to write—characters on one side of the scale and plot on the other side. I can only start writing when they both have enough weight and balance.

 

I’ve alluded to this above, but will there be more to the story after Touching the Surface? If so, can you tell us anything about it (other than the title) such as what direction the story goes?

For all intents and purposes—no. There is a possibility of a companion book or two, but there won’t be clear continuation of Elliot’s story. When you get to the end of SURFACE I think you’ll understand why—even though you may want one.

 

What is the POV of Touching the Surface? If you could write more to the story from a different character’s perspective, who would you pick to write about (you may pick more than one) and why?

SURFACE is Elliot’s story and I could never have written it another way. She is the one who whispered it in my ear. (That gave me goose bumps. I love that!)

 

I understand there is a triangle of sorts in Touching the Surface. Sometimes, love triangles are overused or exploited, especially in YA. What makes Touching the Surface different and what can you tell us about these two boys and the excruciating choice Elliot must make between them?

Triangles can be over used, but in my opinion they were over used in my own life, very rarely were there only two people involved in any particular drama. *head thunk* In my humble opinion, they are just a form of tension and they can be well written or poorly written. I’m hoping mine hits the mark.

 

Might her choice be apart from both of them entirely? Do you enjoy “torturing” your readers?

Never for the sake of torture. What happens, happens because it’s what the story calls for. And don’t think I’m giving you any secrets to spill LOL! (Drat! Foiled again.)

 

I hope I’m not being unreasonably hard on you. I’m sure you’ll be able to answer these questions quite well. I’ve read a few of your other interviews.

 

What are your typical writing habits when coming up with new ideas for stories? Do you research? Write a few rough scenes? Play with dialogue or voice? Outline character traits and backstory? Please share a typical writing day.

I incubate ideas for a very long time. I read books that will inspire my brain to think outside the box about the topic I’m contemplating. I also begin to develop picture boards and playlists to help jog the story loose. I don’t outline and typically I’ve been a very slow, methodical first drafter, but I’m going to try to shake myself up with book 3 and draft it for NaNoWriMo this year...while revising book 2...and launching book 1. I'll let you know how that works out ROTFL! (Eeep!)

 

Where do you see yourself and your writing in 5 years from now? In 10 years? Will your books be movies by then? What else might we get to see from you? Would you switch genres?

This is a little bit daring to say, but what I’d like you to see is an author who has stayed true to herself. I’d like to see a me who has not lost the passion and purpose for her writing, despite the business and social medial side of publishing. I would like to be writing the books that I need to write, regardless of where that takes me. I want to do this until I’m gone, and I believe that the only way to make that happen is to follow my inner compass.

 

Bonus: would you like to share any ideas for a movie dream cast for Touching the Surface? What about an app or an interactive website/game, etc. could you envision for your stories?
For me, writing a book feels more like crafting a movie for my mind. I’ve collected images that have fed my imagination here on Pinterest, but if someone were making a real movie—I wouldn’t want to inhibit the possibilities. https://pinterest.com/kimsabatini/touching-the-surface/

 

Thank you very much for taking the time to answer these questions. I’m honored to share this giveaway with your fans and readers.

Thank you so much for having me and for asking such thoughtful question. I can’t wait for you to read TOUCHING THE SURFACE. <3

Kimberly Sabatini is super sweet and ultimately awesome, and not just because she's an author. She is a wonderful human being you should get to know better. You can follow her on her website, her blog, her Facebook, her Twitter, her Goodreads, her Google+, her Tumblr, her LinkedIn, and her Pinterest. Most of all, go get this book and read it and love it. If you enjoy it, please post a review online. Spread the love, people! 
 
If you'd like to enter the giveaway, use the Rafflecopter entry form below. Some entries require additional steps, such as going to Kimberly's blog and posting a comment, or submitting a poem, artwork, a vlog or sculpture of something related to Touching the Surface. Failure to complete a step after claiming the points for entering will disqualify you from the giveaway. I would rather not see that happen, so keep it fun and be honest. Good Luck to all who Enter.
This giveaway is for US and Canadian residents only. The winner will receive a personalized, signed hardcover copy of Touching the Surface from Kimberly Sabatini herself, who was gracious enough to offer such a deluxe prize for my readers and blog followers. Feel free to acknowledge this below in the comments. By the way, her swag is amazing. So, get to entering already!

Would you like a peek at what the prize might look like? Here's my copy and swag for an idea. Kimberly is such a genuine and giving person. The winner will feel spoiled. Take a look:


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
UPDATE: Winners have been selected and notified. Two of you have submitted poems for the additional 25 point entry, and not only has Kimberly received them, but she described them as "Amazing!"

In fact, one of the two ladies is our grand prize winner of the Personalized, Autographed Hardcover Copy of TOUCHING THE SURFACE. This will be sent directly from Kimberly Sabatini herself, and is already in the works. Congratulations to Alyssa!

A second surprise prize of a hardcover copy of TOUCHING THE SURFACE with an autographed bookmark will be sent out shortly. Congratulations to Vivien!

Finally, a third surprise prize of a signed bookmark of TOUCHING THE SURFACE swag will be sent shortly. Congratulations to Alicia!

To the rest of you, a hearty thank you for your entries. I hope you'll get a copy of TOUCHING THE SURFACE and post your reviews online. Thank you so much for your excitement over Kimberly's debut and I know she appreciates each and every one of you for your interest and your kind words. Feel free to chat with her on Twitter or Facebook. Look for the links on this blog post. Also, come back soon for a review of TOUCHING THE SURFACE and a giveaway or two in the next month.
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Saturday, September 8, 2012

GUTGAA Pitch Polish

Deana Barnhart


Continuing with the theme of Gearing Up to Get An Agent is a pitch and first words blog hop. Since I wasn't available on Friday to submit during Deana Barnhart's open window , I'm participating in the second part of the Pitch Polish, the blog hop. You can read more about that here. There are several blog hops throughout the six weeks of GUTGAA, so hopefully I've got the right one. I'll put the linky below, or you can find me under Number 30.

In order to get the most benefit out of the blog hop, I'm electing to keep the same formatting as if I submitted to Deana and was one of the lucky 100 finalists selected. For those of you who were selected, CONGRATULATIONS!!

Here is my entry. I will continue responding to all the lovely "Meet and Greets" from last week, and stop by if you're participating in this blog hop part of #GUTGAA as well. Let's sharpen our editing pens and slash and polish these pitches and first words to glittery shine, my writer peeps!

Write on!!

Pitch Polish Entry #30


Author's Name: G. Donald Cribbs
Title of Manuscript: The Packing House
Genre: YA Contemporary
Word Count: 77,000

Query:


THE PACKING HOUSE (YA Contemporary from a Male POV)
When sixteen-year-old Joel Scrivener has a raging nightmare in study hall and someone records it on their phone, Joel awakens to a living nightmare where everyone knows the secret he's avoided for ten years. Reeling from a series of bullying incidents posted on YouTube and an ill-timed mid-year move thanks to his mother's loser boyfriend, Joel must choose whether to stay where he's at with the chaos he knows, or leave and forge his own uncertain future as a runaway.

Once his choice is made, Joel's past meets up with his future and lands him back with his father's family, face to face with Amber Walker, the girl he's been "just friends" with since his parents divorce. But when the cops show up and bring Joel's hidden past front and center, Joel taps into toughness he never realized he had, in order to face the investigation. He needs to be tough if he's going to steer Amber Walker away from her current bad news boyfriend. She's made it clear to Joel she doesn't want a broken boy, a fa├žade she's hidden her true feelings behind. But unless Joel finds a way to confront his past and carve out a durable future for them both, he risks losing Amber forever.

THE PACKING HOUSE is a gritty YA contemporary stand-alone with duology potential, complete at 77,000 words. It can be described as SCARS meets BOY TOY and SOME KIND OF NORMAL, with a PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER vibe. In addition to being a proud member of YAlitchat.org, I have spent the last decade working at a boarding school for underprivileged teens, and am currently working as a Therapeutic Support Staff with clients of varying mental health needs. I am also a state certified English teacher.

Read an excerpt of the first chapter HERE.

Read a prelude to THE PACKING HOUSE HERE.



Contact me at: g.donaldcribbs@yahoo.com

 
 
 

First 150 Words:

 


1 | Lock-In


            It's late afternoon and not the time for sleep. I only manage to snag an hour or so before Jonathan's loud-ass banging wakes me from the only rest I'll get prior to the school lock-in. He crams contraband in his backpack and slams drawers. Still, he could be quieter if he expects me to help him pull off the elaborate score he's been lining up for weeks.

            Why'd I have to go and lose the bet? To settle up, I'm slave to my younger brother and his list of girls for the night. At his beck and call.

            I rub the remnants of sleep from my eyes and stretch out the aches in limbs that scream for more than an hour of closure. The shudder takes me by surprise. Maybe he won’t notice. With any luck, I'll find somewhere private to crash at the high school in case the nightmares come back.

________________________________________________________


 

I welcome your feedback in the comments below. As a writer, I am accustomed to constructive criticism focused on making the best possible version of this story. With that in mind, I encourage you to be bold and tell it like it is. I find hearing many perspectives helpful in revising and polishing my MS, and I promise not to be offended. If you comment, I appreciate you taking the time to read and say anything at all. If you'd like to read more, I have the entire first chapter posted on the upper right tab at the top of my blog. All comments are welcome.

 

I look forward to reading your entries and offering feedback as well!
 


Saturday, September 1, 2012

GUTGAA: Gearing Up To Get An Agent Author Bio

Deana Barnhart
 

BLOG HOP ENTRY #138

 

Fellow Blogger, Deana Barnhart has graciously hosted this GUTGAA event for aspiring writers like myself. Click the gear link above to visit the blog and learn more. Maybe you'll join me? There's still time!
 
Starting Monday, Sept 3rdFriday, Sept 7th visit other's blogs and get to know them. Have fun and visit as many as you can! Each blog will answer a series of questions and any additional things the author would like to share. My short author biography and questions are below. Enjoy!

Author Bio


G. Donald Cribbs has written and published poetry and short stories since high school. A graduate of Messiah College in English and Education, he and his wife and four boys reside in central Pennsylvania where the author is hard at work on his next book. Having lived and traveled abroad in England, France, Belgium, Germany, China and Thailand (you can guess where he lived and where he visited), the author loves languages and how they connect us all.

 

GUTGAA Q & A

 

-Where do you write?
Since I type 60wpm, I am either on a laptop or home computer when I write. I lurk in libraries, conspire in coffee shops, and type just about anywhere I can find time for writing. As a busy parent of four boys, that often means finding those "interstitial times" like during my oldest son's karate class each Sunday evening for reliable writing time.

-Quick. Go to your writing space, sit down and look to your left. What is the first thing you see?
The boys' laundry hamper in the small hallway by our stairs. We have an office set up across from my bedroom since we homeschool our oldest two boys. Their homeschooling desk and computer are directly behind me. To my right is a window out into our backyard where I often send my boys to play on the playground I built (big purchase from BJ's), while I write in short bursts.

-Favorite time to write?
Any time I can steal away and hammer down that 1000 or 2500 words I'd like to reach per day. Most often this occurs during my youngest son's naptime or after I put all four boys to bed each night, around 9:20.
-Drink of choice while writing?
Water. Although sometimes it's more likely coffee, Coke, or a mocha if I'm really fancy.
-When writing , do you listen to music or do you need complete silence?
If I put on music to drown out what's going on around me, I can tune it out. I just shuffle what's on Pandora, or my iPod. Silence is much more helpful for editing, and in particular the stage where I read every chapter aloud. You'd be amazed what this uncovers in the editing/revising process. I catch a lot of things I've missed on previous rounds of edits. Yikes! I highly recommend it. But it's hard to do with listening ears, especially with some of my books. My boys are not old enough to read/hear much about these stories. Therefore, it's when I have the house to myself or after everyone goes to bed.
-What was your inspiration for your latest manuscript and where did you find it?
Having been inspired by CINDER by Marissa Meyer, SHADOW AND BONE by  Leigh Bardugo, and STORMDANCER by Jay Kristoff, I imagined what the illegitimate love child of these three very different books would look like. It's actually a fairytale retelling in a French steampunk world of Beauty and the Beast, only the female MC is Beast, while the male MC is Beauty. There's also floating islands in the sky and submersible cities in the oceans below. I'm still in the research and rough outlining stage.

Also, it's totally different from my first novel, which I'm subbing here, a YA contemp with a male POV. That's your sneek peek posted above on the tabs or below via the link.
-What's your most valuable writing tip?
Look for inspiration all around you. Let your life inform your craft and your writing. If you've seen the show SMASH on NBC, you might understand what I mean here. If you're a writer, you've got to watch that show. If you listen closely, you'll see how each show has things going on in the lives of the characters that directly inform the craft and the creation of a broadway show from inception to birth on the stage. It's a great series to get your creative juices flowing and the music is superb. Add a musical about Marilyn Monroe and it's a WIN/WIN in my book. I don't watch much television, but that's one show I'll rewatch online. You can see all of season one here.

 

Excerpt from my novel, THE PACKING HOUSE

 
Click the far right tab at the top of this page to read the first chapter of my book. The first chapter is in two parts and I welcome all feedback good or bad. You are entitled to your own opinions. I use all feedback to better myself and my writing. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment.
 
 

That's it for me. If you have any other questions you'd like me to answer, feel free to post them below in the comments. Have a great week! Nice to meet all of you. Thank you very much for taking the time to stop by my blog for a visit!







Monday, July 16, 2012

SHATTER ME 2 Hot 2 Read Summer Reads Hardcover Giveaway


You know that moment when summer officially hits and you go to the beach and you get a tear in your eye sand in your eye when you try to crack open your favorite beach read? Yeah. All you can do is blinkblinkblink and try to convince everyone you weren't crying overwhelmed by allergies.

When was the last time you've found and read a book you truly wanted to marry could not put down?

For me, that book was SHATTER ME by Tahereh Mafi.

Since today is my birthday, I'd like to give a gift to all of you. Below, you'll find the rafflecopter entry form for a hardcover copy of SHATTER ME. This is the original cover. This is not the paperback of the new style/covers that were revealed recently on MTV's Hollywood Crush.

Speaking of the new lovelies, here are all three new covers:


This is the new cover for the paperback. I've got it featured on the sidebar, so blink twice (if you're seeing double) and click the link to preorder. It reminded me of the special eyelashes Effie Trinket wore in THE HUNGER GAMES movie. I love all the details, including the one hidden in the iris of the eye.


I also like how they link to the DESTROY ME cover which is like SHATTER ME 1.5, from Warner's perspective!! I cannot wait to read this. Seriously. Cannot. Wait.


And then there's the cherry on top jewel in the crown of these covers (so far)--UNRAVEL ME. I say that because I'm counting on Tahereh to write another "inbetween" story that lands somewhere between UNRAVEL ME and the final NAME ME book of the trilogy. I also say that, because I really love the first two covers as well. There's too much shiny all the things to stare at.

If you guessed correctly that this was the book giveaway I hinted at in my UNDER THE NEVER SKY giveaway, you were right pat yourself on the back, you smartypants! And, if you missed my review of SHATTER ME at the beginning of 2012, click the link for my gasquillion starred review (I wish I could give it that many stars! 5 stars just aren't enough.)

I did ask Tahereh to answer a few interview questions, but unfortunately, she's been on tour a TON recently, and just got back from South America. If she's able to answer my questions, I'll definitely post them here for you to see.

If you haven't seen the book trailer for SHATTER ME, click here now check it out here:


Also, Tahereh is a HOOT to follow, so be sure to follow her everywhere she lurks! She has a great blog called, GRAB A PEN, and can usually be found lurking on Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr. You should totally stalk her like a creeper engage in an ontological dialogue about Team Warner or Team Adam. Or cake.

If you didn't win a hardcover of UNDER THE NEVER SKY, you should totally enter to win a copy of SHATTER ME. I'll finish out the summer with another great giveaway in August, so please keep checking back for new and great book reviews, writerly blog posts, and giveaways. Let's celebrate!!

The contest runs for two weeks to give everyone a chance to enter, and once the winners confirm their addresses, the winners names will be posted right here, so keep checking back.
I wish you all a great summer with great vacation getaways, and good books to enjoy while you're there!

This giveaway is for US residents only. There will be International giveaways again soon.

Entries into the Giveaway will be checked for validity. Entries that have not completed requirements will be voided. To put it simply: please be honest.


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Sunday, July 8, 2012

Raiders of the Last ARC Official Entry for STORMDANCER by Jay Kristoff

*****UPDATE*****

I am giving away a hardcover copy of STORMDANCER over on my Facebook Author Page. By clicking the following link and posting a comment on that thread before October 20th, you will be entered to win. You may also choose to like my author page while you're there. Just sayin'.
GOOD LUCK!
 
*****UPDATE*****
 

I hope you are ready for the awesome and the epic. I hope, when you glanced at the title and the cover to your immediate right, you gasped and hurried over to GoodReads to add this to your TBR pile as the not-so-subliminal messaging suggests. DO EET!!

Okay, I see you need a little nudge, a bit more convincing. Well, I've got all the convincing you'll need. Let's start with the first 3 chapters preview posted on TOR. Go ahead and read it and tell me you're not salivating to read more, and why can't it be September already, and damnit, why'd you have to show me that and make me WANTS THE PRECIOUSSSSS?

I tried to warn you. I did. Never doubt me again.

You want more? I've got more. Go back to TOR and see the related article that shows how the artist and author and publisher dialogued back and forth to come up with the cover art. Warning: it's a bit *ahem* graphic in the "yep, he went there" kinda way. Just sayin'. Still, it's worth the read and you get to see all the gorgeous artwork of Jason Chan.

One of the things I loved about this article is how each element was carefully weighed and featured on the cover. For example, the title, STORMDANCER is given a "steampunk" feeling. Having lived in central China for a year teaching English after college (yes, I lived in Zhengzhou City, the capital of Henan Province, and I speak basic Mandarin), I'm down with all things Asian, and I noticed right away that the "M" in the title looks like the character, "Tian" (As in, Tian An Men, literally "sky safety gate", the famous square in the capital of Beijing.) I thought this was a cool easter egg to find, since the griffin is from the sky and the title is heavily related. Well done, Jason Chan!



So, now that I've whet your whistle, here's a peek at the full cover artwork, courtesy of Jay Kristoff and Jason Chan for your viewing pleasure. If you click on it, the link goes to all the other versions and sizes of this coverart. It's truly breathtaking. Seriously. I get way too fanboyish about this cover. Thankfully, it's the first of a SERIES, so we'll have more cover art to love and fan art, and other lovelies, which brings me to the reason for my post.

This post is my official submission to WIN the VERY LAST ARC of STORMDANCER by Jay Kristoff, Mr. Badass himself. The BAWWSSMAN threw down and said if we make something awesome for him, he might Quid Pro Quo and swap out the annotated, autographed and possibly doodled copy of STORMDANCER for our troubles.



Me Haz it? Please? (artwork submitted by @LunasLibrary here.

And, since the contest runs until the end of July, 2012, I guess you'd better get yourself a beret and a set of paints or some hotness to knock my entry off its shiny pedestal. Just kidding. Don't you dare, or I'll have to kill you. Sadly, I'm not kidding. Nor am I above bloodshed when it comes to a book, and Mr. Kristoff's is one that only comes around once in a very long time, and I am not going down without a fight. I will get out my Tanto if I need to. You've been warned.

Okay, so here's the deal: It's a YA Japanese style Steampunk blah blah blah blah blah blah blah....

What's that, you say? You stopped listening after you heard "Japanese" and "Steampunk" used together in the same sentence? Your jaw literally dropped to the floor, and you may have whacked your head on the underside of your desk/table/whathaveyou on the way back up, and you thought for a moment, why didn't I think of that???

Well. I've read the first three chapters repeatedly, and it got me all pumped up and stoked and I was all: I could do a picture of the moment when the griffin (Baruu) and Yukiko (the MC) first meet. Too bad there's two oni (Japanese blue skinned demon) lurking and one just threw Yukiko into a...go read it for yourself! Then come back here and finish reading.

Okay, so I did draw a sketch of this scene and it turned out okay. I know it's totally amateurish and there are problems with the sketch, but I spent a long time on it, and I knew I could clean it up more once it was in full color, too. But, without further ado, here's the first sketch:



Now, if you want to see that in different sizes, click on the "My Flickr Account" tab at the top of this page and you can click through all the sizes and see all the details. Enjoy! While you're there, you might have noticed the full color version, my final draft using colored pencils as my medium of choice. (read: because I totally suck at photoshop) You can see the color version here:


What motivated me to draw this was when I read the three chapter excerpt posted online and while I was reading, I visualized the moment Yukiko and Baruu first meet and their eyes catch one another. It's easier to see in the full sized version. What was powerful to me was the way that Yukiko had just been thrown against a tree trunk and had cracked her skull and was ragdoll tossed on the ground beneath the oni demon. Baruu swoops in and is all, "oh, no you dih-ent!" and attacks the oni. I had to draw this moment. I hope you like it.


I was especially pleased with the oni's loincloth being a tiger hide, which adds tension in the scene and motivates Baruu to more fiercely avenge Yakiko's injury. Read the first three chapters to see how he kicks oni demon ass. Here's a hint: his eagle beak and claws come in handy, coupled with his tiger fierceness...well, you should read it and see for yourself.

But, wait, there's more! I knew I'd have to do more than toss a friggin' bag of sand on the pedestal and snatch the ARC and beat a path out of the temple before the walls come crashing down all around me. I've got more STUFF to share with you. More things that might get you to thinking you might just be able to best me with a Tanto, given I'm only a white belt in karate, or you can totally rock photoshop, or you write poems and songs like a BAWWSS, or you can promote STORMDANCER like nobody's business, etc. etc. You get the idea. Right? Well, peruse the rest of this post and see if it doesn't inspire you to crack out a set of charcoal sticks and your favorite artpad or some such nonsense. After all, it's the LAST ARC and it's all MINE!!

At least, I sure hope it is. Please, please, Mr. Kristoff! I'm not beneath begging. Plus I'll totally review it and post reviews all around the internet and blogosphere and tell all my followers to do the same and click the like button on your Amazon preorder page right here, like I already did on both versions, too.

I thought a recipe would get us all in the mood to read a few poems of mine with strong connections to STORMDANCER, and traditional music for your listening pleasure. By the way, if you listen to the music while reading the first three chapters, it's like, BOOM! There it is. The music is the famous "Butterfly Lovers," A tragic story of ill-fated lovers. Check it out:



As for the recipe, I've scrounged jasmine tea and jasmine shortbread cookies to fill you while you read. And, afterward, let's discuss ideas for awesome Steampunk themed weaponry, shall we? Yes, we shall!


So, one of the great aspects of this novel has had my mind whirring with anticipation over the idea of weapons in feudal Japan (how I picture the setting of STORMDANCER) and the descriptions I found in the first three chapters. The one that springs to mind:


I practically ran to the store to buy out their entire supply of Depends Undergarments. So, it got me thinking. Perhaps Mr. Kristoff wants to use this for an upcoming giveaway. Design your own ideas for steampunk meets Japanese weaponry. And, GO!

I had a few ideas of my own. My top favorite is like a portable, hand held helicopter blade that looks vaguely similar to this, only motorized, of course:



Also, the handle would be at a 90 degree angle to the blades to make the motorized part functional. What, you're still here? You want to read my poems? Seriously? Wow. I'm flattered. Okay, so here they are:


Phaedrus Throws Stones

“For beauty is nothing but the beginning of terror.”  —Rainer Maria Rilke


In China, I busied myself with Tang Dynasty poems
writing no words to you in English for six months.


Now leaves in their death-brilliance blow cold against the door.
I hear you calling from the sky—the face of God—you with your clouds


carved in granite, volcano bursts in suspension over Praetorian eyes.
I am digging my toes in the last green grass before spring, thankful


for another chance to try and find what Phaedrus searched for in all
his travels—something about pleasure in the journey, not the destination.


You take steps which seek the dust shaken from the sandals of the apostles
while I read about the drunken state Li Bai sought before writing


his elegant bambooed verse. I can see him in his boat cursing at the moon
whose cycle refuses to turn the tide or fit itself neatly into dynastic poetry.


Of course you know how fickle a woman the moon is, her orb a granite breast
reclined across the sky. If you would listen to Phaedrus, you would hear


the word of his testimony bleeding like stones draped in moonlight.
I think of Stephen, the first martyr, who cried out crimson as stones


laid down prostrate before the sky, whose gentle kiss raised him to paradise.




The Root of Supplication


I wake with the taste of jade
in my mouth. The monk has returned
to his mountain, fingertips stained with questions.


In the countryside the lotus root grows,
rows of graves alongside vast fields of rice.
Echoes rise, prayers the root has spoken for centuries.


What is your reason for existing here and now?


I try to teach myself to speak
another tongue, drunkenly stumbling from
the mouth of this towering pagoda. When will you listen


for the wind passing through this shadowed
valley, bending each grain prostrate in the thickening mud?
I cannot find another sky or peak from which I may shout questions to God.


Perhaps you know His answer already.




And, for those of you who stuck with me to the end of my very long (read: desperate for this ARC) blog post, I think you deserve something truly mindblowingly awesome, and there's already been a lot of that, so I've got to really BRING IT here at the end:



Here's artwork done by the amazingly talented GENZOMAN. You can see more here.

Okay, so what did you think of the first three chapters? Are you hooked? Did you think "meh" and ran for the hills before I take you down? Share your thoughts in the comments below. Also, if you've got an entry, or an idea or inspiration, share it in the comments as well. I'd love to hear your thoughts, and I hope you'll all be just as blown away as I was by this amazingly fresh read I can't wait to get my hands on.

If you'd like to enter a challenge, click the link here and do so by the end of July. Good Luck!