Sunday, May 31, 2015

Sunday Street Team Promo: Making Pretty

Title: Making Pretty
Author: Corey Ann Haydu
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Publication Date: May 12, 2015
Source: eARC Provided by Publisher
Montana and her sister, Arizona, are named after the mountainous states their mother left them for. But Montana is a New York City girl through and through, and as the city heats up, she’s stepping into the most intense summer of her life.

With Arizona wrapped up in her college world and their father distracted by yet another divorce, Montana’s been immersing herself in an intoxicating new friendship with a girl from her acting class. Karissa is bold, imperfectly beautiful, and unafraid of being vulnerable. She’s everything Montana would like to become. But the friendship with Karissa is driving a wedge between Montana and her sister, and the more of her own secrets Karissa reveals, the more Montana has to wonder if Karissa’s someone she can really trust.

In the midst of her uncertainty, Montana finds a heady distraction in Bernardo. He’s serious and spontaneous, and he looks at Montana in the way she wants to be seen. For the first time, Montana understands how you can become both lost and found in somebody else. But when that love becomes everything, where does it leave the rest of her imperfect life?

Friday, May 29, 2015

Hardcover Lover Confessions (9)

Hello there, Hardcover Lovers! I'm sure many of you have now become a little more acquainted with my discussion feature, HCL Confessions. In case you're not familiar with it, I'll briefly explain it. Basically, every few weeks or so, I take a bookish subject and write about it. I'll confess my thoughts or worries, ergo Hardcover Lover Confessions.

I'm encouraging all of my followers to join in and discuss your thoughts on each topic with me and with the other bloggers/people who leave comments. Seriously... we'd all love to hear what you have to say because everyone has an opinion! It's all about kindly expressing ourselves and making connections with other bloggers and readers while forming blogging friendships.  Don't be afraid to reply to a comment made by someone you've never spoken to! I can promise you that all of my followers are kind and outgoing.

HCL Confession on Assigned School Reading

I'm sure you all had a feeling this this one was coming when you consider the fact that I'm an English teacher. Right? Okay, okay. Even if you didn't know this post was coming, it's here.

We've all been there... even though we love reading for fun, sometimes the thought of reading a book for school can be daunting or drive you crazy. I'll be the first to admit that I didn't like everything that I read in English classes. Sometimes the books are good and keep you interested, but other times... not so much.

Today, I'm here to share some of my favorite and least favorite assigned readings.

Least Favorite School Reads:

  • Up a Road Slowly by Irene Hunt - This was a book that was assigned to me in eighth grade, and I just remember dreading class when we were reading it. I felt like it was boring back then. 
  • Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson - GASP! I guess I should tell you that eighth grade was a bad year for me, and it really affected who I was as a student. I didn't enjoy reading this one either. I do plan on revisiting this book in the future because I don't understand how I didn't like it.

Favorite School Reads:

  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald - I loved reading this book during my junior year of high school, even though we had to rush it. It's just one of those books that I'll treasure forever because I loved the setting, plot, and the characters. It was magical the first time around, and then years later, in college, it was even more magical.
  • The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne - I didn't think I'd like this book when it was assigned during my junior year of high school, but I loved it for showing me that all people have flaws, and that it's okay. The story had me on the edge of my seat, and I'd love to teach this book in the future.
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee - Umm, can you say best assigned reading ever!? There's just so much symbolism in this one, and it's beautiful and comical. I loved reading it, and I am currently loving re-reading and teaching it.
  • The Crucible by Arthur Miller - Okay, technically this one is a play, but it's probably my favorite thing I ever read while I was in school. (It's also another book from my junior year.) It's also my favorite work that I've taught in my short teaching experience. I'd love to have a chance to teach this if I ever get a full time job because there is just so much to do with this stunning play.
  • The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan - During my senior year, we had a new teacher, and while we didn't read the whole thing (we read bits and pieces), I remember loving this book. I am definitely going to make sure that I reread this one before I die.
  • Hamlet by William Shakespeare - I don't know why, but this was my favorite Shakespeare play back in high school. It was just fun to read, and I remember reading ahead of everyone because I was just loving it.
  • The Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare - This was a play that I read during my Shakespeare class in college, and I loved it. It's my all-time favorite Shakespeare play because it's just realistically hilarious, and I recommend this one to everyone!

Your Confessions

Now I want to hear from you! The school year is almost over, so I'm sure many of you who are in school probably have a lot to say about what you read this year. And for those of you who are no longer in school, I'm sure some titles from your teenage years stick out as being great reads or ones that made you want to skip school.

Let me know about your favorite and least favorite assigned readings in the comments. We can even keep track of how many times people respond with the same books!

Oh, and happy summer vacation!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

ARC Review: Devoted

22718682Title: Devoted
Author: Jennifer Mathieu
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
Publication Date: June 2, 2015
Goodreads | Amazon 
Source: eARC from Macmillan 
Goodreads | Amazon
A godly girl keeps a cheerful countenance.
A godly girl never tempts a boy.
A godly girl always keeps sweet.

Rachel Walker is devoted to God. She prays every day, attends Calvary Christian Church with her family, helps care for her five younger siblings, dresses modestly, and prepares herself to be a wife and mother who serves the Lord with joy.

But Rachel is curious about the world her family has turned away from. What is she to make of the boy recently returned from camp Journey of Faith with newfound piety? Or of her mother’s miscarriage and resulting depression? And how should she respond to Lauren, the girl who left the church several years ago and who has recently returned to town?

Rachel knows she should find solace in her beliefs, but she can’t shake the feeling that her devotion might destroy her soul.

  My Review

It's only been a few short months since I've read Mathieu's stunning debut, The Truth About Alice, but I can tell you that the synopsis for this book, Devoted, is what really pushed me to read Alice. I don't know why - because I'm not a fan of books about religion - I had to read this book, but I did. I am one hundred percent glad that I read it because it's eye-opening and beautifully troubling. 

Upon meeting Rachel Walker, I just knew I was going to like her. There was just something about her easy-going disposition that drew me in, and then I got to know her and realize that she's not a simple character. She's a complex character, but for reasons that are beyond her control. What I really liked about her was her determination. She's going to be a character that will serve as a role models for the teens who will read this book because she's determined to change her own life, even if it means hurting the people she loves and the people who are trying to help her. She's independent, but not too fiercely independent, and I think kids, especially the shy ones, will really be able to relate to her.

Ms. Mathieu's writing is wonderful in this book because she really lets her characters tell the story. It's beautiful because she doesn't try hard to make the words pop. They just flow from one word to the next, one paragraph to the next, and one chapter to the next. I felt like I was watching everything develop on screen as it was happening because it's just detailed enough to really provide the backdrop and the actions of the characters.

Another thing that I loved about this book was the lack of romance. It's hard to find that in contemporary YA these days.  While Mathieu touches on first crushes and secondary characters' love lives, she really lets the familial and friendships shine. It's a breath of fresh air, and if you're looking for a contemporary sans romance, reach for this book.

Honestly, I'd recommend this book to everyone who reads YA. I'm sure it will be challenged, but hey... good books are often challenged because they make people think. And trust me, you're really going to think about this one. It really helps readers see that sometimes what people perceive as good can really be a terrible situation, and this book will let readers see that and help them to form their own opinions.

Jennifer Mathieu

Jennifer Mathieu is an English teacher, writer, wife, and mom who writes books for and about young adults. Her debut novel, THE TRUTH ABOUT ALICE, was published by Roaring Brook Press on June 3, and her second book, DEVOTED, will be out June 2, 2015.

Her favorite things include chocolate, pepperoni pizza, and this super hilarious 1980s sitcom about four retired women called The Golden Girls. She can basically quote every episode. 

Jennifer lives with her husband, son, one rescue dog, one fat cat, and another cat that is even fatter than the fat cat.

When it comes to what she reads, Jennifer loves realistic young adult fiction, creative nonfiction, super scandalous tell-all memoirs and unauthorized biographies, and basically anything that hooks her on the first page.

  Website  Twitter  Tumblr

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Blog Tour: The Last Good Day of the Year + GIVEAWAY


Hey, everyone, and welcome to my stop on the blog tour for The Last Good Day of the Year by Jessica Warman. I'm thrilled to have Jessica on my blog today because I read and absolutely loved her latest book. So sit back, relax, and enjoy this guest post from Jessica on life in small towns.

Title: The Last Good Day of the Year
Author: Jessica Warman
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Publication Date: May 19, 2015 
My Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
A new powerful thriller from the globally-embraced author of Between.

Ten years ago, in the early hours of New Year’s Day, seven-year-old Samantha and her next door neighbor, Remy, watched as a man broke into Sam’s home and took her younger sister, Turtle, from her sleeping bag. Remy and Sam, too afraid to intervene at the time, later identified the man as Sam’s sister Gretchen’s much older ex-boyfriend, Steven, who was sent to prison for Turtle’s murder.

Now, Sam’s shattered family is returning to her childhood home in an effort to heal. As long-buried memories begin to surface, Sam wonders if she and Remy accurately registered everything they saw. The more they re-examine the events of that fateful night, the more questions they discover about what really happened to Turtle.

Master storyteller Jessica Warman keeps readers guessing in this arresting page-turner.

Guest Post Featuring Jessica Warman

Erin: Jessica, I see that the book is about a murder in a small town. I also live in a small town. It's one square mile, and I literally have no clue how many people live there, but it's more than you think would fit in such a small area. Regardless, everyone knows everyone, and everyone knows everything. How do you feel about life in small towns?

Jessica Warman:
I grew up in a small town; the internet tells me it currently has 845 residents.  You know how people talk about spending all day, every day outside in the summer as kids?  It was like that.  There was a penny candy store down the street from my house.  The owner was an elderly woman named Amy; the store was called Amy’s Candy, and none of the kids ever made fun of Amy or stole from her as far as I knew, because our mothers would have heard about it before we got home.   My friends and I made daily bicycle trips to Amy’s for dip-its, jawbreakers, and  those fake candy cigarettes.  It was as wholesome and innocent as it sounds, and then as I got older, the shine began to peel away little by little.  People in small communities will try so hard to seem good, perfect, pious, etc.  It’s hard to blame them when there’s so much scrutiny – because when the nearest city is an hour away, and even the nearest Wal-Mart is a 30 minute drive, there’s nothing else to do besides talk about your friends and neighbors.

Now that I’m older, I realize things weren’t as wholesome as they seemed.  But boy, they sure did seem that way.  And that impression, the illusion of innocence, is what makes it great fun to poke at the fa├žade of small-town life and let the nastiness ooze from the cracks.  Ugliness sometimes bubbles up from the places you’d least expect.  That’s what makes the reveal so delicious – like opening a fresh pack of candy cigarettes from Amy’s Candy and finding a severed finger.  So wrong, yet so great.   

Erin: Oh, wow! It seems like we had a similar upbringing - there was a candy store down the hill from me, and it was a big deal when all the neighborhood parents let all of us kids go down there together. We'd bring back enough candy and jumbo Freeze Pops to last us until our next trip, but it never lasted more than two or three days.
But... I live in the suburbs - a small borough  north of Pittsburgh. Even though the Interstate was two minutes away, it felt like we lived in our own little world, in our own little town. Now I'm older, and I see more and more of the flaws, but I still love my hometown. It was a wonderful place to grow up, and I had a great childhood, unlike Sam.

Jessica Warman is the author of Breathless, which received three starred reviews and was an ALA Best Book for Young Adults, and Where the Truth Lies. The idea for Between came from an incident in her childhood, when a local boy went missing after a party on a yacht (he was eventually found, alive).

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Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday (22)

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created and hosted by the awesome ladies at The Broke and the Bookish. They created the feature because they love making and sharing bookish lists. Well it just so happens that I am also a fan of list making, so I try to participate in Top Ten Tuesday as much as possible.

Okay... I know I promised to do more Top Ten Tuesday posts this year, but I've failed miserably. I'm trying, but I either run out of time or I have a reviews already scheduled for Tuesdays. I'm working on reworking my entire blog, so more TTT posts should be a thing in the future.

Top Ten Books I Plan To Have In My Beach Bag This Summer or Ten Books I Think Make Great Beach Reads

Okay... I've already read a few new releases or soon-to-be-released books that I think will make amazing beach reads this summer. I also have a few on my list that I want to read while I'm at the beach, so here it goes.

  1. The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler - Ummm, first of all, DIVERSE BOOK ALERT! Secondly, the book is set at the beach, but a non-traditional beach because it's set in the Pacific Northwest. The story is amazing, and you won't want to miss out on this book. (Publishes June 2, 2015)
  2.  Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler - I read Sarah's debut years ago, but I feel like a reread is in order. It's also set at the beach, and I remember learning so much more about a hobby of mine - beach glass collecting - by reading this book.
  3. Open Road Summer by Emery Lord - I read Emery's debut back in January (or was it February), and I just kept thinking that it would be the perfect book to read at the beach because it's summery and it's adorable.
  4. The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord - Of course I'm including another Emery Lord book in my list of beach reads. While this one's not as summery as her debut, it's full of heart, and would definitely make for a heart-warming summer read.
  5. How to Love by Katie Cotugno - I read this one last May, and I loved it! It's a wonderful contemporary YA with mature themes, and it's one of those books that you'll want to finish in one sitting.
  6. Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway - I read this one a while ago, and I loved it. No, I adored it. I can't even think of what to really say because it's adorable, but a book that will leave YA readers thinking. It's set in sunny California, and even features some surfing.
  7. What I Thought Was True by Huntley Fitzpatrick - Now we're starting to get into the books I want to read at the beach, and this one will be a book I'll definitely read this summer. Hello! The cover is two teens on the beach. I'll review it as soon as I read it.
  8. 99 Days by Katie Cotugno - While I haven't read this one yet, I can see myself reading it while I'm at the lake this summer. From what I've read about it, it's got a summery feel, but it also has substance with some heavier-weighted issues.
  9. Emancipated by M.G. Reyes - This is another book I plan on reading this summer (probably while at the lake). The cover features five teens on a beach, and a few of them are even carrying surfboards.
  10. Let's Get Lost by Adi Alsaid - Road trip books are another beach staple for me because they are usually summery. I'm looking forward to finally reading Mr. Alsaid's debut to see why people love this book.
So what do you think? Are any of these on your TTT list this week? Have you ever read any of these books at the beach? If so, let me know in the comments. Oh, and feel free to link me to your Top Ten Tuesday posts so I can add some more wonderful beach reads to my bag this summer!

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Sunday Street Team Interview: Kissing in America

Title: Kissing in America
Author: Margo Rabb
Publisher: Harper
Publication Date: May 26, 2015
Acclaimed writer Margo Rabb’s Kissing in America is “a wonderful novel about friendship, love, travel, life, hope, poetry, intelligence, and the inner lives of girls,” raves internationally bestselling author Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love).

In the two years since her father died, sixteen-year-old Eva has found comfort in reading romance novels—118 of them, to be exact—to dull the pain of her loss that’s still so present. Her romantic fantasies become a reality when she meets Will, who seems to truly understand Eva’s grief. Unfortunately, after Eva falls head-over-heels for him, he picks up and moves to California without any warning. Not wanting to lose the only person who has been able to pull her out of sadness—and, perhaps, her shot at real love—Eva and her best friend, Annie, concoct a plan to travel to the west coast to see Will again. As they road trip across America, Eva and Annie confront the complex truth about love.

In this honest and emotional journey that National Book Award finalist Sara Zarr calls “gorgeous, funny, and joyous,” readers will experience the highs of infatuation and the lows of heartache as Eva contends with love in all of its forms.

An Interview with Margo Rabb: 

1. Kissing in America is labeled as a YA romance (among other awesome genres). Who are some of your favorite YA couples?
Despite its title, Kissing in America is actually not a romance novel--it’s really a coming of age novel about love. My favorite YA couple of all time is Anne Shirley and Gilbert Blythe from Anne of Green Gables. It doesn’t get any better than Anne and Gil!
I definitely sensed the coming-of-age aspect for Eva while I was reading. I don't want to ruin it for readers who haven't read it, but I liked how you plotted Eva's growth.

V-J Day Kiss
2. How did you come up with the title of the book?
In the book, the title is partly in reference to the iconic photo from V-J day of a sailor kissing a nurse--it’s about the fantasies we have of love and romance and freedom and starting over.
I love that photo! It's such an iconic moment in American history.
3. Kissing in America is a road trip novel. How did you plot out where Eva and Annie would travel to/through in the book?
Eva and Annie stop in Ohio, Tennessee, Texas, Arizona, and L.A.--all places where I’ve lived or spent a lot of time, so I was familiar with them. I loved writing the Texas and Tucson sections most of all--I lived in both places for many years, and I loved re-visiting them in the book.
Okay! The Texas and Tuscon scenes were among my favorites. They had their differences, but I love the warm feelings that I got while reading through those parts of the novel!

4. What inspired you to write the Eva/Annie friendship? A certain best friend? A longing for a friendship like that?
Their friendship is based on my friendship with two of my closest female friends--a couple of Annie’s lines (especially the one about manroots) are actually direct quotes from my friend Dika.
That's awesome! I love knowing when authors put pieces of their friends in books. It's such a sweet way to thank them.

5. Are there any plans for a sequel to Kissing in America?
I wrote it as a stand alone novel, but who knows? Maybe Eva will demand a sequel at some point!

6. I read that both of your parents passed away when you were young, and I’m very sorry for your loss. What advice do you have for kids/teens who have lost a parent?
The thing that helped me most was reading books, and fiction was actually more helpful to me than traditional “self help” books about grief, because fiction often portrays experiences with more honesty and complexity. After my father died, I devoured both Judy Blume’s Tiger Eyes and Alice Munro’s short stories--extremely different writers, but their work was enormously comforting.
I completely understand. While I've never lost a parent, my cousin died when we were both in eight grade. Self-help and counseling books never helped, but reading about characters going through similar events really helped me feel like I wasn't the only one going through something bad.

A Pinterest-Inspired Collage Based on Kissing in America


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Sunday Street Team

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Soundtrack Saturday Link Up

No comments :

Happy Saturday to all of you Hardcover Lovers! My meme, Soundtrack Saturday, is a feature original to The Hardcover Lover that I developed after thinking of ELA projects. It helps readers and bloggers showcase the songs that they think of when they are reading by creating bookish soundtracks.
As with all bookish memes, there are a few steps to follow to help you create your own Soundtrack Saturday post:
  • Choose a book that you've read or are currently reading
  • Create a mini (four songs) or full soundtrack (ten-fifteen songs) for that book based on characters and plot details
    • For more detailed instructions, please visit the meme's homepage.
  • Please credit me somewhere in your post
    • It can be as simple as "Soundtrack Saturday was created by Erin at The Hardcover Lover."
  • Leave a comment on my blog post if you enjoy the feature
  • Add your name to the link-up tool at the bottom of the post
Bloggers are also encouraged to create their own album art (if they can). I sometimes do, but other times, I just use the book's cover picture because it's easier.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Poll: E-Readers

I posted a poll about ARC reviews and when people like seeing them not too long ago on the blog, and I found that I really enjoyed the experience. It was fun to look at the statistics, but also to read everyone's comments on the original post and on the results post.

As a result, I'm introducing polls as an every-once-in-a-while feature. It's always fun to interact with other bloggers, and it's even more fun for me to interact with my followers and listen to what they have to say.

This poll is all about e-readers. Many of you might remember that I bought my first e-reader (Kindle Fire HD 7) in December, and I really like it. I use it to read my e-ARCs, but I also love that I'm able to use it on the go to check email or check in with my blog.

So now I want to hear from you! I'm sure that many of you have some sort of an e-reading device, so now's the chance to let the world know what one you like the most. I tried to include as many options as I could because I realize that each company makes different e-readers. I also included an other option in case I didn't list your favorite. Feel free to leave a comment to let me and everyone else why you prefer your chosen device.

I'll check in on the poll (and the comments) every now and then, and then I will give everyone an update.

What e-reader do you prefer?

Kindle Paperwhite
Kindle Fire HD
Kindle Voyage
Other Kindle e-reader
Nook GlowLight
Samsung Galaxy Tab Nook
Other Nook e-reader
iPad/iPad Air/iPad Mini
Smart Phone
Other E-Reader
Poll Maker

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Blog Tour and ARC Review: Kissing in America


Title: Kissing in America
Author: Margo Rabb
Publisher: Harper
Publication Date: May 26, 2015
Source: eARC via Edelweiss 
Purchase it Here:
|| Barnes & Noble || iBooks || The Book Depository || Kobo
I loved romances because when you opened the first page, you knew the story would end well. Your heart wouldn't be broken. I loved that security, that guaranteed love.

In real life, you never knew the ending. I hated that.

Sixteen-year-old Eva has never been in love. But when she meets Will, everything changes. With him, her grief over her father's death fades, and she can escape from her difficult relationship with her mother. Then, without any warning, Will picks up and moves to California. So Eva—with the help of her best friend, Annie—concocts a plan to travel across the country to see him again. As they leave New York City for the first time and road-trip across America, they encounter cowboys, kudzu, and tiny towns without stoplights. Along the way, Eva and Annie learn the truth about love and all its complexities.

My Review

I'm not going to lie to you... When I first saw the book cover and title for Kissing in America, I honestly thought it was going to be a really cheesy YA novel that would come and go quickly. Then I read the synopsis, and I knew that I had to at least give it a chance because it seemed like it would be an extremely emotional read with a lot going on. There is a lot going on, but it's definitely not a cheesy read, but a wonderful tale of a fatherless daughter trying to find herself.

The first thing that you need to know about Kissing in America by Margo Rabb isn't the love of romance novels. It's that the book is a beautifully written novel with a diverse cast of characters. The book's narrator, Eva, is a Jewish-American teenager growing up in New York City, and her best friend is a Korean immigrant. They aren't the only diverse characters in the book, but I loved how both main characters didn't fit into the typical character mold.

Another great piece of the puzzle in this book is that Rabb focuses on other people that have come before Eva and her mother. The stories in the novel give readers Eva's family history that goes back to World War II that you won't want to miss. Yes, they are sad, but they are touching because Ms. Rabb makes them feel extremely personal to her readers. Some of these stories, especially the ones about Eva's grandmother, made me want to climb in my Kindle and give Eva, her mother, and her aunt hugs.

I also love how the book doesn't exactly read like the YA romance I expected it to be, even though there are a lot of allusions to the genre and many romance novels included within the text. There is some heartbreak, but I wasn't too concerned about it because Kissing in America actually reads more like a coming-of-age novel because of many of the themes that Ms. Rabb includes. Eva and Annie do a lot of growing up on their road trip, and it was enjoyable to see them leave home to travel the country, discover new things, lose things, fight, and reconcile. If you want to read a book about discovering yourself and finding your inner-strength, read this book!

About Margo Rabb

Margo Rabb is the author of the novels Kissing in America and Cures for Heartbreak. Her essays, journalism, book reviews, and short stories have been published in The New York Times, The New York Times Book Review, The Atlantic, Slate, The Rumpus, Zoetrope: All-Story, Seventeen, Best New American Voices, New Stories from the South, One Story, and elsewhere, and have been broadcast on NPR. She received the grand prize in the Zoetrope short story contest, first prize in the Atlantic fiction contest, first prize in the American Fiction contest, and a PEN Syndicated Fiction Project Award. Margo grew up in Queens, New York, and has lived in Texas, Arizona, and the Midwest; she now lives in the Philadelphia area with her husband and children.

The Fantastic Flying Book Club

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

I'll Be Away...

Hey, everyone! In case you don't know, I'll be away for the next two days to chaperone a field trip to Washington D.C. and the surrounding areas with one of the school districts that I work for! I'm letting you know now because I'm leaving super early in the morning, and I don't know if I'll actually have the chance to check in with everyone tomorrow morning.

I went to D.C. with two different schools last year, and I had so much fun with both of them, but this school's trip is more intensive because the kids and us old chaperones actually get to spend the night and explore the nation's capital for two days. It's always fun to see the kids learn outside of the classroom and get to experience a trip that's actually away from the comforts of home.

As you know, I don't have a smart phone, so it'll be like I'm off the grid during these two days, but I do have some scheduled posts for you. I might have access to the Internet in the hotel to reply to any comments that I get on some of those posts, but after walking all day, I'll probably just check my email and go to bed. But, I will get to read on the bus, and I'll take my Kindle and iPod to possibly post some pictures on Instagram and Twitter if I get the chance. I'll be sure to take pictures with my digital camera and post a few of those, too!

Waiting on Wednesday (27)


Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly bookish meme created and hosted by Jill at her blog, Breaking the Spine. The meme helps bloggers and readers spotlight the upcoming releases that we are dying to read.

It's pretty simple to participate in Waiting on Wednesday:
  • Create your own Waiting on Wednesday post that features an upcoming title (or titles)
  • Be sure to credit Jill in your post
  • Link up to the Linky on Jill's blog

What I'm Waiting On...

Title: Everything But the Truth
Series: If Only . . . 
Author: Mandy Hubbard
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Publication Date: November 17, 2015
If Only . . . she wasn't pretending to be someone else! The If Only romance line continues in this fun rags-to-riches romance.

Holly Mathews' mom is the new manager of a ritzy retirement home, and they just moved in. But having super-rich retirees as her only neighbors isn't a total bust, because the gorgeous, notorious Malik Buchannan is the grandson of a resident. Just one problem: when they meet, Malik assumes Holly is there to visit her own rich relative. She doesn't correct him, and it probably doesn't matter, because their flirtation could never turn into more than a superficial fling . . . right? But the longer she lives in his privileged world, the deeper Holly falls for Malik, and the harder it is to tell the truth . . . because coming clean might mean losing him.

For anyone who has dreamed of their own Cinderella story, this romance shows that when it comes to true love, the best person to be is yourself!

Why I'm Waiting...

Rags to riches stories make up some of my favorite stories, books, and movies. Honestly... what little girl wasn't obsessed with Cinderella when she was younger, right? This book just seems like it's going to be quirky enough with the big lie to make for an entertaining read. And besides... just look at that cover! It looks like Bloomsbury is throwing some diversity in the If Only . . . line!

What Are You Waiting On?

It's time for you to let me know what book or books you're waiting on! As always, feel free to link me to your Waiting on Wednesday posts. And if you aren't a blogger, feel free just to leave a comment and let me know! I'd love to see what books everyone wants to read!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

ARC Review: Immaculate & Author Interview

Title: Immaculate
Author: Katelyn Detweiler
Publisher: Viking
Publication Date: May 26, 2015
Source: ARC Provided by Viking
Goodreads | Amazon
“Even if everyone thought I was lying, why couldn’t they just leave me alone? I hadn’t asked for any of them to believe me. I hadn’t asked for them to worship me.

I hadn’t asked them for anything.”

Mina is top of her class, girlfriend to the most ambitious guy in school, able to reason and study her way through anything. But when she finds herself pregnant—despite having never had sex—her orderly world collapses. Almost nobody believes Mina’s claims of virginity. Her father assumes that her boyfriend is responsible; her boyfriend thinks she must have cheated on him. As news of Mina’s story spreads, there are those who brand her a liar. There are those who brand her a heretic. And there are those who believe that miracles are possible—and that Mina’s unborn child could be the greatest miracle of all.

My Review

When I first came across Immaculate, I made up my mind that it would probably be a book that I would borrow from the library. I'm not a huge fan of books with religious themes, so it seemed like a good idea to save some money rather than buy it and risk not enjoying it. However, Viking/Penguin contacted me for a review, and I gladly accepted. And I am so glad that I did because it's a rather interesting and unique book that covers a lot of genres - contemporary, retellings, religious fiction, and even a bit of realistic fantasy.

Like I said earlier, I'm not really a fan of religious fiction or books that are heavy on it. I don't really know what it is, but I think it dates back to the time when my mom told me that the Catholic priest from our church didn't want to baptize me because I was born out of wedlock. But, I still do give some religious books a fan because I like to read from all genres.

Immaculate by Katelyn Detweiler is a beautiful book that wasn't too pushy when it came to religion and religious aspects, even though it is a biblical retelling. I found myself enjoying Ms. Detweiler's writing, and I loved that she even included a few references to the Bible and other religious texts in the book. It made understanding the history behind Mina's story a bit easier for me. (Because if I'm being honest, I don't know absolutely everything about the birth of Jesus - just the basics.) The brief inclusion of the religious aspects also makes the book feel more graspable than I thought it would be, and I felt like Detweiler was reaching out to readers who aren't Christians.

The characters in the book were realistically flawed, despite this being a book that seems unrealistic. I loved getting to know Mina and her friends, and I loved the fact that Detweiler's characters of choice were the smart, popular kids. I feel like sometimes smart kids get put on the back burner in YA, she she brings them to the front. Mina's characterization was done very well. She is this tough, little thing who is the Mary of the story, and her strength only grew throughout the novel. Her best friends, Hannah and Izzy, are different than Mina but still similar. Together, this trio was well-balanced. There are struggles with their friendship, but I loved how Detweiler characterized them and used them within the plot. It felt like a real friendship. Jesse is also a wonderful character. He's very likeable, but he's so helpful. Together, Mina is definitely covered in the friends department.

I did feel like the ending was a bit rushed and that we lacked a little bit of an explanation, so I more or less think this book is a 3.5 star rating for me. But... now that I know something (check the interview!), I'm looking forward to seeing the reasons behind Mina's pregnancy.

If you're looking for a unique book this summer, definitely grab a copy of Immaculate. It really surprised me, and I'm sure that it will surprise other readers and just make them feel good about life. There might be a lot of bad in the world, but this book teaches readers that there is always a little bit of hope.

An Interview with Katelyn Detweiler

  1. You’re an agent. How does it feel to be on the other side of the door and have a book out?
Surreal. Still very surreal. Going in, I thought I’d be more mentally prepared for each step of the journey, but there was so much I couldn’t know—not really, not until I was going through it all for myself. In some ways, I’ve maybe been a bit calmer than I would have thought—probably because I have mostly realistic expectations, I know the process, I know more or less what’s coming up through the long (very long) journey.  But at the end of the day, this book is still my baby, and I’d be a bad mom if I wasn’t biting my nails with anxiety sometimes, too.

  1. Upon first look, the book appears to have a bit in common with the hit TV show Jane the Virgin. Have you seen the show? If so, are you a fan?
YES. I was planning on watching just a few episodes—“homework,” I called it, to justify the extra TV time—to see how similar it really was. I was hooked immediately, and binge-watched. After the first episode, it was clear that IMMACULATE took the idea of a “pregnant virgin” on a very different path, but it was still so fascinating to see how it played out. I absolutely adore the show—the great acting, the hilariously over-the-top and totally refreshing drama—and am so pained by the fact that I’ll have to wait another few months for a new episode. Hooray for a second season!

  1. I see the book is set in Pennsylvania and that you grew up in that state. (I did too!) What part of PA are you from? Will readers familiar with PA be able to recognize some places and towns?
    Hello, my fellow PA native! : ) I’m from a small town about an hour northwest of Philly. Suburban in some stretches, rural in others. My house was in the more rural area of town, an old farmhouse with fields and woods on every side of it, rather than actual neighbors. Green Hill is very much a reflection of my childhood there, all the best and the worst bits about growing up in a small town.

  1. How did you come up with the idea to write this book?
    The idea had been buried in me for a long time—ever since, as a teenager, I’d asked my mom if she would have believed me if I claimed to be a pregnant virgin. She thought about it for a few seconds maybe, and then she said yes. I filed it away at the time, laughing probably and moving on to my next obnoxious hypothetical question (they’re my absolute favorite form of entertainment). But a few years ago, it very suddenly and mysteriously came back to me. I started wondering what people would really say if someone were to make this claim—and stand behind it, no matter what the consequences—in our world today. I was amazed, given all the other re-tellings and twists out on the market now—fairytales, myths, Shakespeare, Austen—that this old story hadn’t been touched yet, at least not for teens. From there, I couldn’t not write it. It felt meant to be, a story that just had to be retold.

  1. Why is one thing that you admire about Mina?
    Her ability to shift the way she defines “success.” At the beginning of the story, it’s all about grades, straight A’s, a 100% at the top of every exam or essay. It’s about getting into the dream college, always working toward the dream career. And it’s also about walking down the halls with her perfect, athletic, brainy, handsome boyfriend, the clear marker that she’s made it socially as well as academically. Mina had a shiny reputation. She had shiny goals. With the discovery of her pregnancy, everything instantly changes. She has to find a different way to value her life; she has to accept that happiness isn’t the same as achieving perfection. Real life isn’t perfect. Happiness isn’t a grade—it’s trying your best, and being proud of the struggle.

  1. Do you have anything in common with Mina or any of the other characters in the book?
    I poured a lot of my own life into Mina, mostly because I was so curious thinking about how the people in my life would have responded to me if I’d made this claim at seventeen. I was the valedictorian of my class, hyper-focused on getting straight A’s, constantly thinking about getting into the best college, having the best career. I was on a very rigidly set path, a path that didn’t leave much room for any unexpected variables—variables like… becoming a pregnant virgin, for example.

  1. The book is broken up into sections based on Mina’s life and pregnancy. Did you set out to write it that way or did it just feel like the right way as you were drafting and writing?
This was more or less in place from the very beginning. I wanted to make sure that I was giving equal weight to the challenges that would come up in the different stages of pregnancy, and then reflect how those challenges played out in Mina’s life, both with herself, and with the people around her—spreading from her family and friends to the town, the country, the world. I wanted to make sure I didn’t brush past any key moments a new mom would be facing. And I worked hard to be accurate about this part of the novel—I read a lot of pregnancy books / articles / websites to prep for it. What to Expect When Your Expecting was front and center on my desk for months.

  1. Readers are often drawn to books based on similar titles or themes. Are there any books that you think readers of Immaculate would like or vice versa?
    Yes, absolutely. I love similar books with hypothetical twists—contemporary novels with that added “what if” perspective to play around with the concept of our everyday realities. Books that are all still very grounded in a world that we can understand, even if the impossible vs. the possible have dramatically shifted. David Levithan’s EVERYDAY, Gayle Foreman’s IF I STAY, and Lauren Oliver’s BEFORE I FALL all immediately come to mind.

  2. Who are some of your favorite authors? Did their books inspire this story in any way?
    I’d say the above list all certainly make the cut. I love contemporary and I love fantasy, and I really love the stories where elements from both of those worlds meet.  Oh, and J.K. Rowling. Always J.K. Rowling.

  1. We all have to read books in school. What was your favorite school read?
    The Scarlet Letter, maybe? Which, now that I think about it, probably explains where some of the ideas for IMMACULATE first began…

  1. Do you have any plans for future books? (Don’t worry… I won’t make you spill any details about them.)
I do! I can’t say too much yet, but there will be a follow-up novel coming out next year. It’s the story of what happens seventeen years after IMMACULATE ends, when Mina’s baby is now a teenager, discovering the truth of his/her past, and what it means for the present (and future). There’s been a massive tragedy that the world is still reeling from; it definitely goes a bit deeper and darker in this second book, but it is still very much grounded in the big questions that drive IMMACULATE.

About Katelyn Detweiler

Katelyn Detweiler was born and raised in Pennsylvania—in a small town much like Mina’s—living in a centuries-old farmhouse surrounded by fields and woods. After graduating from Penn State University, she made the move to New York City, where she is a literary agent representing books for all ages and across all genres. Katelyn currently lives, agents, and writes in Brooklyn. 

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