Friday, June 28, 2013

Friday Five -- Summer Book Style

Happy Friday sweet readers!

One of my favorite parts of summer is reading. The extra down time tucked inside each day . . . reading on the beach as the ocean rumbles in the background . . . staying up late to finish a great book because you can sleep in--no school is calling. (Or in my case, no school for my boys, which means no getting up early to pack lunches! Woot! And sleeping in? Not so much. Not yet anyway. Maybe when my littles aren't so little.:D)

Back to the books. Oh, the books!

Today's Friday Five! It's a shout-out to my favorite YA books of the summer so far. To be honest, these are some of my favorite books of the year, too. I loved each for slightly different reasons.

So here we go, in no particular order:

5. THE FIFTH WAVE by Rick Yancey

After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.

Now, it’s the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth’s last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie’s only hope for rescuing her brother—or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up.

Pitched as THE PASSAGE (a book I enjoyed but didn't love) meets ENDER'S GAME (on of my all-time favorite books) this book had me at pre-order.

For me, THE FIFTH WAVE lived up to the hype. The premise was frighteningly realistic and Yancey executed it like a master. The twists were plentiful and unexpected. Plus, in a sci-fi setting, I love the exploration of the qualities that we, as humans, possess that both set us apart and hold the key to our survival. Well-done all around. It's the kind of book that will linger with you, long after you finish it.

I leave you with the quote Yancey chose to start the book: a snippet from the brilliant Stephen Hawking: "If aliens ever visit us, I think the outcome would be much as when Christopher Columbus first landed in America, which didn't turn out very well for the Native Americans."

Chilling, don't you think? So was THE FIFTH WAVE.:)

4. REBOOT by Amy Tintera

Five years ago, Wren Connolly was shot three times in the chest. After 178 minutes she came back as a Reboot: stronger, faster, able to heal, and less emotional. The longer Reboots are dead, the less human they are when they return. Wren 178 is the deadliest Reboot in the Republic of Texas. Now seventeen years old, she serves as a soldier for HARC (Human Advancement and Repopulation Corporation).

Wren’s favorite part of the job is training new Reboots, but her latest newbie is the worst she’s ever seen. As a 22, Callum Reyes is practically human. His reflexes are too slow, he’s always asking questions, and his ever-present smile is freaking her out. Yet there’s something about him she can’t ignore. When Callum refuses to follow an order, Wren is given one last chance to get him in line—or she’ll have to eliminate him. Wren has never disobeyed before and knows if she does, she’ll be eliminated, too. But she has also never felt as alive as she does around Callum.

The perfect soldier is done taking orders.

Another great sci-fi summer read for me. I went into REBOOT with high hopes, and like THE FIFTH WAVE, REBOOT delivered. Tintera never uses the word zombie, yet part of couldn't help thinking it was a fresh twist on the "died-and-came-back-to-life" thing that permeates most zombie books.

Because in Tintera's capable hands, no moaning, mindless walking dead here.

Instead, Tintera crafts lightning fast soldiers, and even better, she creates characters that have depth, internal conflict, and character arcs that keep you turning the pages late into the night. Wren and Callum were FANTASTIC, for different reasons. *sits on hands to not spoil a minute of your reading* I'd say more, but I want you to discover Tintera's brilliance for yourself. Read REBOOT and you'll see exactly what I mean. I just learned that Tintera has a sequel out next year, which makes me happy, happy, happy.:)

3. TORCHED by Andrea Lynn Colt

Cheerleader Rose Whitfield's senior year goes up in smoke when she's framed for arson. Sure that the culprit is her neighbor Paxton, with whom she's been feuding since middle school, she sets out to clear her name and take Paxton down hard--not necessarily in that order.

TORCHED was recommended to me by Caroline Richmond, and wow--what a great rec! A super fun, super fast YA contemporary, with interesting characters and a superbly-plotted mystery that will hook you from page one. Rose was well-crafted, same for Paxton, and I loved figuring out the villain along with Rose--as well as figuring out Rose herself. :)

If you loved Robin Mellum's DITCHED (which I did!), grab a copy of TORCHED. You'll love it, and I'm not blowing smoke.:)

2. TRANSPARENT by Natalie Whipple

An invisible girl is a priceless weapon. Fiona’s own father has been forcing her to do his dirty work for years—everything from spying on people to stealing cars to breaking into bank vaults.

After sixteen years, Fiona’s had enough. She and her mother flee to a small town, and for the first time in her life, Fiona feels like a normal life is within reach. But Fiona’s father isn’t giving up that easily.

Of course, he should know better than anyone: never underestimate an invisible girl.

Let me start by saying I love Natalie Whipple. I think she's amazing--kind and giving and talented, and she was a great CP for NIL. So of course I read TRANSPARENT as soon as I could get my grabby hands on it, and I prayed I loved it as much as I wanted to.

And you know what? I LOVED IT MORE. :)

Mutants, mobsters and an invisible girl that is fighting to see herself--including the girl she is inside, and the girl she wants to be. Fiona is a fascinating character, and I was blown away at how well how Natalie wove Fiona's story from page one, giving Fiona a fantastic cast of friends and family to reflect and encourage Fiona's own growth. There were also plenty of twists, both big and small, and reveals at the perfect moment--all constant reminders that I was in the hands of an excellent storyteller. :)

Last but not least, I also loved that, among the many YA series out there (and I'm a series girl, don't get me wrong), TRANSPARENT stands tall as a stand-alone. Take it to the beach, take it on your vacay--you're in for a treat!

1. ONE by Leigh Ann Kopans

When having two powers makes you a Super and having none makes you a Normal, having only one makes you a sad half-superpowered freak.

It makes you a One.

Sixteen-year-old Merrin Grey would love to be able to fly – too bad all she can do is hover.

If she could just land an internship at the Biotech Hub, she might finally figure out how to fix herself. She busts her butt in AP Chem and salivates over the Hub’s research on the manifestation of superpowers, all in hopes of boosting her chances.

Then she meets Elias VanDyne, another One, and all her carefully crafted plans fly out the window. Literally. When the two of them touch, their Ones combine to make them fly, and when they’re not soaring over the Nebraska cornfields, they’re busy falling for each other.

Merrin's mad chemistry skills land her a spot on the Hub's internship short list, but as she gets closer to the life she always wanted, she discovers that the Hub’s purpose is more sinister than it has always seemed. Now it’s up to her to decide if it's more important to fly solo, or to save everything - and everyone - she loves.

Oh how I loved this book. I ordered a copy of ONE based on the description (X-men vibes were strong for me) and in the meantime, I'd gotten to know Leigh Ann through Twitter. And I REALLY wanted to like ONE when I read it, just because I thought so much of Leigh Ann. Well, turns out I didn't just like ONE; I LOVED IT.

Here's why:



And the whole notion of only having one superpower when every other Super has two. How can you fit in when you don't seem to belong anywhere: Super, or Normal? Merrin's frustrations and hopes are so honest, and Merrin's growth was stellar. Her relationship with Elias was sweet and real, yet I loved how Merrin stood on her own as a character. The ending left me wanting more but not frustrated--the perfect way to end the first of a series. Well-done. The sequel, TWO, comes out in October and I'm all over it.:)

So there you have it. My five faves of summer so far. . . and to celebrate I'm giving two of them away!

Up for grabs? My own personal copy of TRANSPARENT *sniff* *so hard to part with* and a signed copy of ONE.

All you have to do is enter below! May the Rafflecopter odds be ever in your favor :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

What's your favorite summer read so far?

**Update: Thank you to the awesome Jay C. Spencer who pointed out that I , ahem, had numbering issues. Apparently I can't count. (I always DID like English better.:D) Thanks Spence for the heads up. :)

UPDATE (7/15): Contest is closed. Congratulations to the winner, Heather Nielsen, as picked by the Rafflecopter pixies.:) Heather, I'm emailing you now!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Cover Love for BURN OUT

Eeeep! Fellow Valentine Kristi Helvig's debut BURN OUT has a cover . . . and it's AMAZING!!!

But before I show you the awesomeness-that-is-Kristi's cover, here's BURN OUT's description:

Most people want to save the world; seventeen-year-old Tora Reynolds just wants to get the hell off of it. One of the last survivors in Earth's final years, Tora yearns to escape the wasteland her planet has become after the sun turns "red giant," but discovers her fellow survivors are even deadlier than the hostile environment.

Earth's last survivors? Hostile environment? And escape?


BURN OUT releases April 8, 2014.


I know, I know--the wait is l-o-n-g.:) But until then, you can swoon over Kristi's cover:

*stares at the pretty cover*

My favorite part? The tagline: The last girl on Earth . . . just got company.

Oh, snap. I can't wait for BURN OUT to hit the shelves. :)

To help held you over until then, the YA Valentines are sharing the YA book love and hosting another epic cover-reveal giveaway! Hop over to the YA Valentines blog, join the BURN OUT cover party, and you could win 2 sweet YA reads.

Happy Tuesday!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

NIL is available for pre-order! A timeline! And a contest alert...:)

I just learned a few days ago that NIL is available for pre-order on Amazon!

It's book birthday is March 4, 2014, so it's still almost nine months away. I know, nine months is forever, right? But it's not. Especially in publishing. So here's my sekrit: I can't help clicking this link now and then, because it makes the whole I'm-getting-published-thing so much more real.

That probably sounds weird. But here's the thing:

I began writing NIL in February 2010 . . .

drafted and revised . . .

went to a writer's conference in May 2011 . . .

revised even more . . .

queried NIL in the fall of 2011 . . .

signed with Jennifer in February 2012 . . .

Jennifer sold the book in May 2012 . . .

and NIL is coming out on March, 4, 2014.

That's essentially four years from the time the idea popped into my head to the day NIL hit shelves. And this is totally normal in traditional publishing.

Four years.

So can you see why I'm crazy-excited that NIL is available for pre-order, even though March 4 is almost nine months away? I can't wait for readers to discover Charley and Thad's story, and get swept up in the world of NIL. That's the dream every author has--to touch a reader, and make them feel.:) I hope y'all will love NIL as much as I do!

I'm so excited that I'm going to come up with some kind of giveaway for readers who pre-order the book. I haven't figured the giveaway out yet, but it'll be some kind of cool NIL swag.:)

So if you pre-order NIL (I will love you forever! :D), please check back for a pre-order contest announcement! :)

Happy Tuesday!

P.S. Little fun Tuesday fact--did you know that all books are released on Tuesdays? Yup, NIL releases on Tuesday, March 4, 2014. It's sekrit publishing stuff....and now you know.:)

Friday, June 14, 2013


Ok, y'all, I'm SO EXCITED. Like beyond-crazy excited.

Because Sara B. Larson's DEFY cover is just that awesome.

And today YOU get to see it.

Amazing, I know, right?!

But before I show you the gorgeous cover of DEFY, here's a little more about the book itself:

A warrior and a protector, the prince's best guard is also a girl in hiding. No one knows who she really is--or so she thought. But when her world suddenly changes, and two men begin vying for her heart, one girl must stand up against a terrible evil or risk losing everything.

DEFY will hit stores on January 1, 2014. That's right: January, 1, 2014.  New Years Day. It's be the first sweet YA release of 2014! :)

Ok, y'all have waited long enough.

So here it is...

the epic cover of DEFY...

wait for it...

wait for it...


The amazing cover of Sara B. Larson's novel DEFY:

Isn't it amazing?

To celebrate the epicness of DEFY's cover, the YA Valentines are hosting a sweet giveaway of two books that rock: GRACELING and SHADOW AND BONE. Why those books? Because if you love those books, you will swoon over DEFY.:)  To check out the The Valentines giveaway, go here.

And to make the DEFY-epic-cover-reveal-celebration even more fun, I'm giving away my copy of BITTERBLUE, the sequel to GRACELING. I figure that now that we've made you drool over DEFY and forced you to wait, I could send you something to ease the pain.:)

To enter to win BITTERBLUE, just leave a comment about the DEFY cover below. Using the random number generator, I'll pick a random comment to win.:)  Contest* closes Thursday, June 20 at midnight, EST. Winner announced next Friday (June 21st)

*Contest open to North American residents only. Sorry y'all. Got to keep my shipping costs's a hardback copy too.:)

***UPDATE: The contest is closed and WE HAVE A WINNER!!!! Thanks to the random number generator, lucky comment #3 was the winner! Congratulations Winterfaerie! Winterfaerie...shoot me an email or tweet or leave another comment to get your copy of BITTERBLUE. Thanks to all who stopped by to give Sara some cover love.:)