Monday, May 19, 2014

Binge Reading, Part II

Yes, I am still aggressively avoiding my WIP. Although my preferred form of distraction is reading, I have branched out into de-cluttering various closets, cabinets, and even a portion of attic space. The results on that front is substantial, but less interesting than the books I've read, so, let's chat about those. . .

To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han

Lara Jean has a hidden stash of letters that she's written to all the boy's she's ever crushed on. They were never meant to be mailed, but when somehow, they are, the consequences are unexpected. This book made me happy inside. I loved the strong family bonds between Lara Jean, her father and two sisters, the strong personalities of each of the characters, and that even though Lara Jean isn't part of the in crowd, she's completely comfortable being who she is - staying in to bake homemade cupcakes for her sister's class bake sale when her classmates are out partying. I loved that I wasn't sure what I was hoping for until halfway through the book.  And I love that there's a sequel in the works so I can experience more of Lara Jean and her story.

The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson 

When Lennie Walker's older sister dies unexpectedly, Lennie finds that grief changes everything -- the way she can't seem to talk to her grandmother anymore, the way her clarinet playing isn't what it used to be, the way she has to write down her memories, and the way she looks at her sister's boyfriend, Toby, who seems to share her grief in a way no one else does. And then there's Joe, the new boy in town whose smiles make Lennie want to experience life in whole new ways. This story is full of strong emotions, a mix of sheer joy and utter loss and writing that is lyrical, full of imagery, and makes me think I would read anything by this author.

Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

Okay, the beginning of this book was confusing.There are these territory wars between the cadets, the townies, and the boarders of the Jellicoe School. I wasn't sure what to make of all of it for a long while (maybe 100 pages?) but I had been told by numerous people that it was worth sticking with and that everything would come together and it would be worth it. IT WAS! I usually don't read the full blurb of a book. I like to be surprised by a story, and often the blurbs just give too much away, IMO. But in this case, I wish I had read the blurb. I think it would have saved me undue confusion. A lot of characters are introduced at the outset and I had trouble keeping them straight. Plus there are flashbacks introduced by way of a manuscript from one of the characters, that I just wasn't sure how they connected with the main story line for a while. But when everything comes together, every last piece falls into place. As a writer, I'm in awe of Ms. Marchetta and her ability to pull it off so beautifully. When I finished the last page, I immediately went back and re-read all of the flashbacks to make sure I fully appreciated every intricacy.

The Dirt Diary by Anna Staniszewski

When you're in junior high, scrubbing toilets with your mother for extra cash is not the kind of job you brag about to your friends. It also makes encountering your classmates, and even your enemies even more uncomfortable when you're picking up their dirty underwear and dusting off their crazy zombie figurine collection. But, when Rachel's parents split up, her plan to get them back together involves paying off a plane ticket to Florida, so she puts on a smile, grabs a toilet brush and gets to work. This was a fast, fun, lighthearted read full of lively writing and mouth-watering talk of sweets. (Rachel is also a baker looking for the perfect recipe for the school bake-off.). I found it shelved as YA, although it had more of a MG feel to it.

This is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith

This is a sweet contemporary romance that starts out with a misdirected email and ends up with a real-life encounter between a teenage movie star and maybe the one girl on earth who doesn't swoon over him. It's hard for 17-year-old Ellie to think of THE Graham Larkin as the boy she's been corresponding with for the past few months, but when he shows up in her small town to shoot scenes for his latest movie, she has to decide if being part of his life is worth the risk, especially since there's a secret in her past that, if the paparazzi uncovers, could change her life forever.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Binge Reading

I've been on a bit of a reading binge lately. Some might say this is because I'm avoiding my WIP. Those people would be correct. I'm in that dreaded (but familiar) my writing is crap phase. I hate that phase. But until it passes, I'm making a sizable dent in my TBR list. Here are some of the books I've enjoyed lately:

The Living by Matt de la Pena

I got hooked on Matt de la Pena's books a few months back after reading I Will Save You and We Were Here. His characters just feel so real. I decided I better ration the remaining of his YA books, but then my daughter came home with The Living, and of course I had to read it, probably too soon, because now I have to wait along with everyone else for the next book in the series. On the upside he has two other YA titles I can read in the meantime ;)

Some Quiet Place by Kelsey Sutton

This was one I picked up at the library having never heard of it before, mostly because the cover and the book's small size caught my attention. This story was unlike anything I've read before, with a main character who cannot feel emotion, yet she sees them hovering around in human form as physical beings. I can't wait for the companion novel Where Silence Gathers, coming out in July from Flux.

Leap of Faith by Jamie Blair

From page one you can't help but feel for the main character, Faith, growing up with a drug addicted, prostituting mother who has recently let herself get pregnant so she can sell the baby. When Faith sees the drug dealing couple who are going to buy the child, she decides she's going to run off with the child to save it from the life she's had to suffer through for sixteen years; but also, to get back at her mother, because depriving her of that paycheck seems like the best way to make her suffer.

How to Love by Katie Cotugno

I fell completely head over heels for this book and carried the characters in my heart for weeks after I'd finished. I loved the before and after way the story unfolds. You get to discover Reena and Sawyer's past relationship alongside their current when Sawyer appears back in town after an almost three year absence during which Reena has had his baby. Aside from the age of the main character, this book didn't feel particularly YA. (I think it's marketed as a crossover.) But it didn't matter.  I'm sure I'll be reading this one again!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Blood of a Mermaid Cover Reveal

Today I'm participating in a cover reveal for the second book in Katie O'Sullivan's Mermaid trilogy set on Cape Cod. Blood of a Mermaid releases next month from Crescent Moon Press.  

About the Book:

Mermaid blood.
When Shea MacNamara fell into the ocean for the first time, he found he could breathe underwater. The son of a mermaid, the sea is in his blood. Literally. The best part of Shea’s new life? His girlfriend Kae, who also happens to be a beautiful mermaid.
But darkness lurks under the sea. When evil mermen kidnap Kae, the king reminds Shea that having royal blood means making tough choices. 
An Arctic dungeon, a fiery plane crash, the legendary halls of Atlantis…and narwhals?
Having mermaid blood just got a lot more complicated.

About the Author:

Katie O’Sullivan lives with her family and big dogs next to the ocean on Cape Cod, drinking way too much coffee and inventing new excuses not to dust. A recovering English major, she earned her degree at Colgate University and writes romance for young adults and the young at heart. Her editing column, “The Write Way,” appears in the Literary Women section of CapeWomenOnline magazine.

Living next to the Atlantic influences everything she writes. Her YA mermaid series begins in Nantucket Sound with SON OF A MERMAID, and continues the undersea adventures with BLOOD OF A MERMAID, coming from Crescent Moon Press in May 2014. Her latest contemporary romance from The Wild Rose Press is MY KIND OF CRAZY, a Cape Cod story of second chances and starting over.

Excerpt from BLOOD OF A MERMAID, by Katie O’Sullivan
Shea grimaced. He knew firsthand the damage wind could cause. He’d witnessed tornado destruction back in Oklahoma, when he’d lost his dad and their farm. Wind could be devastating. And deadly. He needed to focus on something else. Maybe curtains and wallpaper weren’t such a bad thing to talk about after all. “Tell me again about this lady who hired your mom to decorate? Why is it she can’t pick out her own curtains?”
Hailey laughed. “Decorating is about more than curtains, you troglodyte. It’s about creating a whole look and feel for a home.”
A deep male voice crackled through the overhead speakers in rapid Greek, followed by English. “Attention, passengers. This is your captain. Please keep seatbelts fastened as we try to steer clear of this turbulence and find a pocket of better air.”
“A pocket of better air?” Hailey shook her head. “What does that even mean?”
Chip leaned back across the aisle and grinned. “Maybe this air is broken?” The light streaming through Hailey’s window shifted as the plane changed direction and Chip’s grin faded. “It looks like he made a ninety degree turn. That seems kind of drastic.”
“I’m sure the pilot’s done this a million times,” Hailey snapped, looking out her window again. “Ooh, look at that lightning over there! It’s like a fireworks display!”
Shea resisted the temptation to look out the window. His stomach already felt queasy enough, and now a storm? A slow tingling sensation engulfed his toes. “How close?”
“Oh, look out there now,” Hailey interrupted. “Water spouts!”
Shea felt the blood drain from his face. “Water spouts? Like, tornadoes on the ocean?”
Hailey glanced back at him and gently patted his knee. “This isn’t Oklahoma. I’m sure everything’s going to be fine,” she said as she pulled the plane’s information card out of the seat pocket in front of her. “But I guess it never hurts to review a plane’s emergency procedures.”
As she removed her hand from his knee to point at the diagram, Shea felt the tingling course through his legs, zinging from his toes up into his stomach. It was as if some switch in his body had flipped into high gear. Sweat beaded on his forehead and dripped down his back. The air inside the airplane cabin suddenly felt like it was clinging heavily around him, as if it were charged with electricity and Shea was the only magnet on board. He’d felt this exact sensation before, back at Plainville High School.
On the day of the tornado.