Friday, October 31, 2014

Books I'm Grateful I Read Blog Hop and Giveaway

WinterHaven Books is excited to join this recent Blog Hop hosted by the lovely Valerie from Stuck in Books.

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, this Blog Hop is meant to feature books we're grateful or thankful for reading because either they had an impact on us in some way or simply added to our growing list of great books we can easily recommend to other readers. 

Here at WinterHaven Books, I'd like to feature the following books that have (1) gotten me out of book slumps, (2) added to my list of favorite authors and (3) left an impact on me in some shape or form. 

And in the spirit of sharing our love of books, we'd like to offer a giveaway for our Bloglovin' and GFC followers. Simply fill out the rafflecopter.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Happy Halloween WinterHaven Style!

WinterHaven Books would like to wish our lovely followers a Happy Halloween! This is one of our favorite times of the year as we pull out our paranormal books to celebrate the festivities.   If you’re looking for a great paranormal series to keep you busy during this time, here’s a list of some of our favorites: 

Vampire Academy and Bloodlines by Richelle Mead 
Morganville Vampires by Rachel Caine 
Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr 
Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare 

 What are some of yours?? 
And… A little Halloween trivia… Do you know why Halloween colors are orange and black? Because orange represents the Fall harvest and black… well everyone knows black is associated with darkness and death. Creepy!! 

 Just one more treat in the form of books to fill your Halloween goodies bags… For one lucky Bloglovin’ and GFC WinterHaven follower, we are giving a goodie bag of books that includes: 
They All Fall Down Get Even (Don't Get Mad, #1) Mortal Gods (Goddess War, #2) Don't Touch
 A Finished Copy of They All Fall Down 
An ARC Copy of Get Even, Mortal Gods, Don’t Touch 
 Good Luck!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Review & Giveaway: Zodiac by Romina Russell

ZodiacZodiac by Romina Russell
Publisher: Razorbill
Release Date: December 9th, 2014
Purchase: Amazon
At the dawn of time, there were 13 Houses in the Zodiac Galaxy. Now only 12 remain….

Rhoma Grace is a 16-year-old student from House Cancer with an unusual way of reading the stars. While her classmates use measurements to make accurate astrological predictions, Rho can’t solve for ‘x’ to save her life—so instead, she looks up at the night sky and makes up stories.

When a violent blast strikes the moons of Cancer, sending its ocean planet off-kilter and killing thousands of citizens—including its beloved Guardian—Rho is more surprised than anyone when she is named the House’s new leader. But, a true Cancrian who loves her home fiercely and will protect her people no matter what, Rho accepts.

Then, when more Houses fall victim to freak weather catastrophes, Rho starts seeing a pattern in the stars. She suspects Ophiuchus—the exiled 13th Guardian of Zodiac legend—has returned to exact his revenge across the Galaxy. Now Rho—along with Hysan Dax, a young envoy from House Libra, and Mathias, her guide and a member of her Royal Guard—must travel through the Zodiac to warn the other Guardians.

But who will believe anything this young novice says? Whom can Rho trust in a universe defined by differences? And how can she convince twelve worlds to unite as one Zodiac?

Embark on a dazzling journey with ZODIAC, the first novel in an epic sci-fi-meets-high-fantasy series set in a galaxy inspired by the astrological signs.
My thoughts:
If you are a sci-fi lover this book is for you!  Zodiac is a high intensity sci-fi book that brings you into a unique world and makes you want to live among these amazing planets.

This might sound strange but just go with me for a minute.  When I first picked up Zodiac I knew I was going to like it.  It had everything I like in my sci-fi books and I was super excited to dive in.  The books I like I usually try and finish within a few days that way everything stays fresh in my mind, but with this book I just couldn't do that.  It took me a good two weeks to finish it and yes normally that means I am not feeling the book, but in this case it was because I wanted to ponder the world and really get to know it.  For the first time in a long time I didn't just want to skip over the parts I didn't understand, I wanted to make sure I got the world.  It was tough I won't lie. This book is heavy sci fi with psyenergy, different planets, a new caste system, and over the top technology.  I don't regret for one single second taking my time.  I am so glad that I slowed down with this one because it doing so I really felt something and I completely immersed myself in this world and man was it brilliant.

Romina Russell has crafted such a unique world.  I have read space sci-fi books before, but this one is beyond unique.  With the introduction of the Zodiac we get a fun spin on the planet system and I loved reading about the different houses.  It was also fun to see how each character acted when from a different house.  Our main character Rho was from Cancer and she surprised me by sticking to her Cancerian (not sure if that is a word but I am going with it) values.  I've noticed in a lot of books the main character will be forced to hide things and change their opinion, but Rho stayed strong.  Yes she had secrets, but not with her main goal.  She voiced her concern and stepped up to the plate every singe time even though she knew the outcome wouldn't be in her favor.  I really liked that about her and it made me respect her.  There were times of wishy washynesss and I was scared she would take the easy way out, but each and every time she stayed true to her morals.  Loved loved loved that.

The main story was an interesting one and this book really only scratches the surface.  I have a lot of questions that I think will come to light in the coming books and I am very excited to see how they play out.  Especially one particular one because I have a feeling Ms.Russell intends to shake this whole world up and I can't wait!  The addition of the thirteenth house was brilliant and I really liked how the author wove in the lore from each house.  Like I said this whole world is so unique and I really fell in love with it. 

The one and only thing I did not like about this book was the love triangle.  I always have a hard time with these and this one didn't work for me.  I don't like the inner struggle and I don't like all the heartbreak that comes with this type of romance.  Ms. Russell weaves the romance nicely into the story I just wish it would have been with only one guy.  I genuinely like both guys and I don't want either one of them to get hurt.  I also feel like a certain part of the story was pushed a little too far especially considering there is a love triangle.  It was Rho's decision to go that far and I didn't respect it.  She should have worked out her feelings first and dealt with them before she went down a certain path. I am very curious to see who she ends up with, but that is not why I will pick up the next book.  The world that was created can definitely stand on its own and I hope that the author chooses to show  more of that then the triangle.

I would have gone with 4 stars on this one, but the romance really hit a nerve with me so I have to go with 3.5.  The story and world though get a huge 5!

3.5 snowflakes

  Wait don't leave!  I want to give one lucky follower an ARC copy of Zodiac!  Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below to enter!
Open internationally
Good luck!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Review: Firebug by Lish McBride

Firebug by Lish McBride
Publisher-Henry Holt and Co.
Released- Sept 23rd 2014
Purchase- Amazon / B & N

Ava can start fires with her mind . . . but is it a blessing or a curse?Ava is a firebug—she can start fires with her mind. Which would all be well and good if she weren't caught in a deadly contract with the Coterie, a magical mafia. She's one of their main hit men . . . and she doesn't like it one bit. Not least because her mother's death was ordered by Venus—who is now her boss.When Venus asks Ava to kill a family friend, Ava rebels. She knows very well that you can't say no to the Coterie and expect to get away with it, though, so she and her friends hit the road, trying desperately to think of a way out of the mess they find themselves in. Preferably keeping the murder to a minimum.

My Thoughts:
Ava wishes she could be a normal girl who wasn't home schooled, who could be have normal friends and go on normal dates. But Ava isn't normal. She's a rare firebug who can create fire with just her mind. She hates her job, but she doesn't have a choice since she has a blood pact with Coterie and the women who killed her mother, Venus is now her boss. They own her and Ava has to hunt down any one they want. But when Ava is assigned to kill a close family friend, she refuses and take off with her team, but one simply doesn't run from the Corterier and if Ava want so have any kind of normalcy, she has to face them down.

I've read McBride's Necromancer series and simply loved her dark humor and laugh out loud characters. Firebug is in the same universe as her other series, but you can read them separate and not get lost. McBride is a seriously awesome writer, I love how fun and alive her stories feel. They have some of the best energy and flare. This is paranormal twisted with  perfectly timed comedic flavor  that is easily devoured. I was only a few chapter in and already in with love with the set-up and tone. It's just unbelievably fun entertainment. But I think my favorite part of any McBride escape is how she crafts these amazing character chemistry's. The moment I met Ava, Cade, Lock and Ezra I was already completely invested and connected.

Ava is a great protagonist, she's got spunk and has fierce skills, but also has a big fuzzy heart. You know she doesn't want to hurt anyone but doesn't have a choice since Venus threaten to kill everyone she knows. But when push comes to shove, Ava isn't afraid to stand her ground and fight back. Lock is my boy! He's a half-dryad, which means he can talk to trees, it may not sound like a cool skill, but I think it was pretty awesome the way he uses it. He's charming, alluring, not exactly mysterious but he's got something behind those smouldering eyes that makes you see something simmering. He's also a born leader and I love how assertive and protective he is with his team.
Ezra is also the best. He's a shape-shifting were-fox and a natural thief and he stole my heart from minute one. He's hilarious and his comical timing was pitch perfect. The three of them have some of the greatest chemistry I ever had the pleasure of reading. Fun filled banter, witty sarcasm, sharp zingers and amusing dialogue. I love how they work together and always have each others back. They are a force when united and completely owned every second of this escape. There isn't a huge spot for romance, but I did see a lot of tension-bubbles throughout the story and I'm hoping that McBride will add that for the next book. I need more Ava and Lock!!

All in all, I absolutely had a blast with this book. The writing is captivating, the plot is action packed, entertaining and thrilling and the characters are addicting and funny as hell. I can't wait for the next book, I need more!

Find the author:
Goodreads / Website                              4 Snowflakes 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Release Day Launch: Two Blue Lines by SC Montgomery

Two Blue Lines RDL Banner
I am so excited about this book by S.C. Montgomery!! Check out S.C.'s excerpt, and all the fun details about the book, and make sure you enter her fantastic giveaway!!
Blogs Taking Part in the Release Day Launch
Becky on Books
Zili in the Sky


Two Blue Lines Synopsis:
  His fear . . . Her secrets . . . Their choice. What if the only girl you’ve ever loved lied to you? Lied to everyone? Those two blue lines changed everything for Reed Young and Melissa Summers. In more ways than one. And now, he must decide for himself . . . Man up or walk away? SC Montgomery has created an emotional tale of first love, difficult choices, and impossible secrets. A deliciously angsty debut you need to read for yourself. ***Reader Warning*** Two Blue Lines is the emotional, honest story of two teenagers whose lives are about to change forever. While not glorified, or portrayed in detail, there are themes of sexual assault and teen pregnancy, as well as allusions to teenage drinking and some foul language. It is all meant to create an honest, relevant novel, but please be aware and read only if you’re comfortable. ***Note, while this novel is a standalone that deals with mature subject matter, it may be helpful to read Lines in the Sand first to understand what makes Reed Young tick and hear about the summer that changed his life forever. Well, before this one.
Amazon | Kobo | B&N | iTunes
Exclusive Excerpt:
89480010We were going to be Reed and Melissa again today. Not parents-to-be. Not the kids who screwed up. Not the scared idiots who didn’t know how they were going to raise a baby. Just us. My plan? To excavate the Melissa Summers who didn’t worry about being adopted. I wanted the girl back who loved horror movies and junk food and hot pink and koala bears and that boy band that made me gag and laughed at my dumb jokes. And who was my best friend who loved me. Selfish, maybe. Necessary, I thought so. I drove into the glowing horizon until we reached our destination with its signature arching sign and the slowly spinning Ferris wheel, and she sat up with a kid-like grin. “You’re kidding!” “Nope.” I hopped out and rounded to open her door. “My lady.” I helped her out then whisked her against me and pressed my lips to hers, swallowing her surprised squeak. It only took her a moment to melt against me, her arms circling my neck, her fingers threading through my hair. I tilted my head, deepening the kiss, tasting her unique sweetness, sliding my tongue along hers. She pressed against me, her little moans rippling down my flesh, riding my nerve endings like electrical shocks. I loved this. I loved her. Call me a sap, but I couldn’t help myself. S C Montgomery Bio: SC Montgomery is a self-proclaimed nerd and readaholic. She has dabbled in telling stories since she was very young by letting her imagination play out with her Barbie dolls and her bestie many a weekend. She also writes Contemporary adult romance under the pen name Shauna Allen, and it was in one of those novels that the YA bug bit when she wrote in a teenager loosely based on her own son. Her first story, Lines in the Sand, was penned as a gift for her mother, but was published with her blessing, and it’s just taken off from there. SC is married with three teenagers of her own, who give her plenty of inspiration and advice, and are a constant source of laughter and new terminology. Besides writing, she loves reading, movies, singing and dancing reality shows and going to the beach. You can sign up for her newsletter here:

Enter SC's amazing giveaway!!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Mega Giveawey! Forbidden by Kimberly Griffiths!!

On November 4th, HarperCollins unveils Forbidden, a seductive YA debut from award-winning middle grade author Kimberley Griffiths Little. Forbidden transports readers back in time to the deadly deserts and sweltering heat of Ancient Mesopotamia for a tale of danger, duty, and forbidden love. Jayden is on the brink of womanhood and betrothed to her tribe’s prince, cold-hearted Horeb. But when tragedy strikes, Jayden meets Kadesh, a mysterious visitor from the south who makes Jayden doubt everything she knows. Torn between loyalty to her tribe and the chance to escape her fate, Jayden must make a choice that will change her life forever.

Kimberley is also offering a HUGE preorder giveaway from October 6th to November 4th (release day!) to celebrate. See below for full details on how to enter.

  • You must preorder Forbidden through an online retailer or your local bookstore, then email a photo of your receipt to
  • Fill out the rafflecopter below
  • US/Canada Only
  • Ends at midnight EST on November 3, 2014
  • Optional entries: share the trailer on your own site or social media, follow Kimberley on twitter, and tweet about the giveaway (can be repeated daily for extra entries!)
  • Winners will be announced and contacted November 4th (release day!)
  • If the winner does not respond with their mailing address within one week, a new winner will be chosen.

1.NEWLY RELEASED Kindle Fire HD6 Tablet with 6" HD Display, Wi-Fi, Front and Rear Cameras, 8 GB -- choose your color! (Black, Magenta, White, Citron, or Cobalt)
3. CHAOS OF STARS by Kiersten White
4. Satin Belly Dance Skirt
5. Belly Dance 150-Coin Hip Scarf
6. Red Silk Veil not pictured
7. Red Middle Eastern Earrings
8. Belly dance DVD:Sensual Belly Dance with Blanca, a professional dancer (technique, choreography, and performances)
9. "Will YOU risk it all?" button not pictured
10. Set of 10 Book Club Cards
11. Jeweled bookmark not pictured


2. Red Middle Eastern Earrings
3. Red Silk Veil (not pictured)
4. Belly dance DVD: Sensual Belly Dance with Blanca, a professional dancer (technique, choreography, and performances)
5. "Will YOU risk it all?" button (not pictured)
6. Set of 10 Book Club Cards
7. Jeweled bookmark (not pictured)


1. Red Middle Eastern Earrings
2. "Will YOU risk it all?" button (not pictured)
3. Set of 10 Book Club Cards
4. Jeweled bookmark (not pictured)
Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

About Forbidden: 
In the unforgiving Mesopotamian desert where Jayden’s tribe lives, betrothal celebrations abound, and tonight it is Jayden’s turn to be honored. But while this union with Horeb, the son of her tribe’s leader, will bring a life of riches and restore her family’s position within the tribe, it will come at the price of Jayden’s heart.
Then a shadowy boy from the Southern Lands appears. Handsome and mysterious, Kadesh fills Jayden’s heart with a passion she never knew possible. But with Horeb’s increasingly violent threats haunting Jayden’s every move, she knows she must find a way to escape—or die trying.
With a forbidden romance blossoming in her heart and her family’s survival on the line, Jayden must embark on a deadly journey to save the ones she loves—and find a true love for herself.
Set against the brilliant backdrop of the sprawling desert, the story of Jayden and Kadesh will leave readers absolutely breathless as they defy the odds and risk it all to be together.

About Kimberley: 
Award-winning author Kimberley Griffiths Little was born in San Francisco, but now lives in New Mexico on the banks of the Rio Grande with her husband and their three sons. Her middle-grade novels, When the Butterflies Came, The Last Snake Runner, The Healing Spell, and Circle of Secrets, have been praised as “fast-paced and dramatic,” with “beautifully realized settings.” Kimberley adores anything old and musty with a secret story to tell. She’s stayed in the haunted tower room at Borthwick Castle in Scotland; sailed the Seine in Paris; ridden a camel in Petra, Jordan; shopped the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul; and spent the night in an old Communist hotel in Bulgaria. You can visit her online at
Follow Kimberley:

Share your thoughts on the trailer in the comments!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Blog Tour Review: Bleed Like Me by Christa Desir

Today on WinterHaven Books I am participating in the blog tour for Bleed Like Me by Christa Desir!

Bleed Like MeBleed Like Me by Christa Desir
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: October 7th, 2014
Purchase: Amazon / B&N
From the author of Fault Line comes an edgy and heartbreaking novel about two self-destructive teens in a Sid and Nancy-like romance full of passion, chaos, and dyed hair.

Seventeen-year-old Amelia Gannon (just "Gannon" to her friends) is invisible to almost everyone in her life. To her parents, to her teachers-even her best friend, who is more interested in bumming cigarettes than bonding. Some days the only way Gannon knows she is real is by carving bloody lines into the flesh of her stomach.

Then she meets Michael Brooks, and for the first time, she feels like she is being seen to the core of her being. Obnoxious, controlling, damaged, and addictive, he inserts himself into her life until all her scars are exposed. Each moment together is a passionate, painful relief.

But as the relationship deepens, Gannon starts to feel as if she's standing at the foot of a dam about to burst. She's given up everything and everyone in her life for him, but somehow nothing is enough for Brooks-until he poses the ultimate test.

Bleed Like Me is a piercing, intimate portrayal of the danger of a love so obsessive it becomes its own biggest threat.
My Thoughts:
This was a very tough read for me and not because of what you might think.  Yes it is sad and I hated that Gannon felt like she had to cut herself, but my issue was her parents and their lack of parenting.  I think this was a goal of the author, but for me this overshadowed Gannon and her own personal problems.

The story is tough like I said.  We have Gannon who cuts herself and then we have Brooks who becomes addicted to Gannon.  This is all a recipe for disaster with just those two simple characters, but then you throw in parents who haven't been their in five years, a foster kid who just doesn't know where he belongs, and a relationship that is built around hurt and you basically get an explosion.

Gannon wasn't tough for me to like.  She was really rough around the edges, but having to grow up with her parents I get why she was the way she was.  She didn't have anybody looking out for her because both her mom and her dad were too wrapped up in the three boys they adopted from Guatemala.  Yes that was a very heroic thing to do, but these boys were not disciplined at all and caused so much ruckus that both parents just basically forgot about Gannon unless they needed her to help wrangle the boys in.  When I say ruckus I mean down right mean, violent, and aggressive behavior.  They needed help and I was so irritated that her mom thought she could do it all on her own.  This whole adoption put a strain on her parents marriage and just made a happy home fall apart. I am not saying I wished the boys would have gone away, I am saying they needed help.

Gannon was left to figure life out on her own and when she meets Brooks her life turns upside down.  Their relationship was abusive in a different way then you would think and at first I thought Brooks would be good for her, but things happened and when a certain scene happened I knew she needed to get away.  Well as you would guess things went from bad to worse quickly and Gannon finds herself in a situation that she doesn't know how to get out of.  I was a little shocked at the lack of involvement from the adults around her, but I can see where the author was choosing to go with the story.  It wasn't pretty and sometimes people need to see what's beyond the rainbows and butterflies.

The ending left me with an unfinished feeling though.  I have a hard time grasping what happened and even though I know what happened was inevitable I just don't know how I feel about it.   I wish things could have been different for Gannon and even though I like the whole not wrapped up in a bow sometimes it is just hard for me to swallow and this is one of those times.  I wanted more for Gannon and I really wanted more from her parents.  With all that being said though I can accept where the story went and I can tie my own bow for Gannon in my heart.

3.5 snowflakes

About the Author
I’m Christa Desir and I write young adult novels. I am an avid reader and have been in love with YA books ever since reading Judy Blume’s FOREVER (while hiding between the stacks in the library).
My first success with writing came at the age of five when I wrote a story about my sister and our neighbor Andy “kissing in the dushes.” My parents were so proud of this work, they framed it and showed it to every visitor who came to our house. My sister still has not forgiven me.
I live outside of Chicago with my awesome husband, Julio, and our three children. When I'm not writing, I am an editor of romance novels. I am also a feminist, former rape victim advocate, lover of coffee and chocolate, and head of the PTA. It is a rare day when I don’t humiliate myself
somehow, and I frequently blog about my embarrassing life moments.

 Displaying Logo2.png

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Review: Sweet Unrest b y Lisa Maxwell

Sweet Unrest by Lisa Maxwell
Publisher- Flux
Released- Oct 8th 2014
Purchase- Amazon / B & N

Lucy Aimes has always been practical. But try as she might, she can’t come up with a logical explanation for the recurring dreams that have always haunted her. Dark dreams. Dreams of a long-ago place filled with people she shouldn’t know…but does.When her family moves to a New Orleans plantation, Lucy’s dreams become more intense, and her search for answers draws her reluctantly into the old city’s world of Voodoo and mysticism. There, Lucy finds Alex, a mysterious boy who behaves as if they’ve known each other forever. Lucy knows Alex is hiding something, and her rational side doesn’t want to be drawn to him. But she is.As she tries to uncover Alex’s secrets, a killer strikes close to home, and Lucy finds herself ensnared in a century-old vendetta. With the lives of everyone she loves in danger, Lucy will have to unravel the mystery of her dreams before it all comes to a deadly finish.
My Thoughts:
Wow, now this was an impressive debut! I'm really surprised how much I enjoyed  Sweet Unrest.  I always knew I wanted to read this, but I didn't think I'd be this mesmerized by everything this book had to offer.

Lisa Maxwell is a fantastic writer. The storyline has a little bit of everything I crave in a good escape. Voodoo magic, reincarnations, ghost stories, dreams, mystery, suspense and a fierce all consuming love. I also really loved all these characters and felt instantly connected to their stories. Past and present. I was instantly charmed by Maxwell's smooth writing style, absorbing plot and engaging characters. The writing is very smart and sharp and always kept me interested and invested chapter after chapter. To some, the pacing may seem a tad slow, but I rather enjoyed the steady rhythm of intrigue and suspense. I loved the way Maxwell connected us to the past and present by linking us through Lucy while bleeding her dreams into reality. I also really got a kick out of the voodoo element. I can't say that I've read this particular lore in other books before and I've learned that I quite enjoyed the readings, ceremony and dark magical history that comes with it, or at least in Maxwell's world. It was completely fascinating and hands down freak-worthy. Combine all that with the beauty of New Orleans and the mystery of the plantations and you have yourself an irresistible read.

Lucy is an amazing fiery protagonist. She's an ever practical person who doesn't exactly believe in all this voodoo business, but I like that she doesn't flat out reject the idea and keeps an open mind, especially considering  what she's been seeing in her dreams and then seeing it re-enact in her own life. I think that was one of my favorite parts, seeing the dreams, nightmares and visions unfold and watch the mystery play out with thrilling anticipation.
Alexandre is a very alluring character, he's definitely intense in that dark almost threatening mysterious way but also has a playful kindness and charm that you can't resist. His story is haunting and heartbreaking and I couldn't seem to get enough. I absolutely adored the love story. It's a beautiful fierce endless  love that you just want to squeeze and hold close. It may feel like insta-love to some, but I think given the circumstances between Lucy and Alex and their tortured past lives together, this felt more fated then instant and it definitely goes on the list of swoon-worthy goodness.
I also liked the rest of the character, everyone played their parts well and at one point of the story I wasn't sure who I could trust. One of my favorites though was Mama Legba. She gets a huge round of applause. She's the local Voodoo Queen and written with an otherworldly uniqueness that brought in such a perfect tone and flavor to the entire length of the story.  

All in all, I really enjoyed this book so much. It's been a long time since a story as captivated me in a way that I simply could not put the book down at any given point. It's the kind of story that you can just relax and sink into and let the escape take you way. The ending was pretty bittersweet and apart of me - the hopeless sap part - wished for something more, but in it's own way it was kinda perfect. I'm thinking this is a stand-alone, but you wouldn't hear me complain one bit if we get a sequel. I'm simply not ready to let this world go. An amazing and incredibly entertaining debut novel  by Maxwell.  I greatly look forward to see what she comes up with next! 

Find the author:
Goodreads / Website                               4.5 Snowflakes

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Spotligh & Excerpt: Writing Great Books for Young Adults by Regina L. Brooks

Writing Great Books for Young Adults
October 7, 2014
By Regina L. Brooks
ISBN: 9781402293528 ● Trade Paperback/$14.99
Praise for Writing Great Books for Young Adults
“Written from the perspective of an industry insider, the book shows budding authors how to edit their work with fresh eyes.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Brooks offers writers who are serious about attracting teen readers solid guidance through the creation process of writing YA fiction.” —Library Journal

“Brooks fills her book with clear examples that illustrate her points… If you’re looking for an A to Z guide on writing and publishing YA fiction, Regina Brooks’s how-to is the place to go.” —Writer Magazine

Break into the young adult market with this indispensable guide!

With an 87 percent increase in the number of young adult titles published in the last two years, the young adult market is one of the healthiest segments in the industry. Despite this fact, surprisingly little has been written to help authors hone their craft and truly connect with the young adult audience.

Writing Great Books for Young Adults gives writers all the advice they need to tap into this incredible and innovative market. Literary agent Regina L. Brooks shows writers how listening to young adults will help them create characters their audience can identify with.

Topics covered include meeting your protagonistengaging your readers,, trying on points of view, and many more.

About the Author: Regina L. Brooks is the founder of Serendipity Literary Agency and has been developing award-winning authors and books for over a decade. She has been highlighted in several national and international magazines and periodicals, including Poets and WritersEssenceWriter’s Digest, and Sister2SisterForbes, Media Bistro, Ebony, and Jet. She lives in New York City.

Connect with Regina:

Chapter 1
Five Rules for Engaging Readers of Young Adult Fiction
Before you even start putting pen to paper (or finger to keyboard), there are some issues that need to be addressed. A lot of writers out there think writing YA fiction is easy. It’s not. Some mistakes you might make will condemn your book to languish on the slush pile forever. So before we even talk about the nitty--gritty of how to shape your book—-character, plot, setting, point of view—-we need to talk about the five key elements that can make or break you as a YA writer.
The Holden Caulfield Rule—-Don’t Be a Phony!
Imagine traveling to a planet where your survival depends on hiding out among the inhabitants, where being recognized as a phony would mean instant annihilation. In that situation, you’d want to study the locals until you knew just how to look and sound and respond like them. It is the same in YA fiction. In this case, sudden death occurs when the reader, stumbling upon a false image, loses interest. The book closes with the splintering sound of a fatal bullet.
It’s no exaggeration.
Holden Caulfield, the protagonist of J. D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye, was always railing against the phoniness of other people, particularly adults. The enduring popularity of Catcher in the Rye demonstrates that teens today are the same way—-they despise fakes.
YA Fiction Rule #1: The life of the story depends on the writer’s ability to convince READERS that the protagonist is one of them.
The key to writing a successful YA novel means knowing kids well enough to channel their voices, thoughts, and emotions. (“Kids” is used as an operative word here. The official YA audience encompasses twelve-- to eighteen--year--olds, but it is expanding as children’s book publishers work to attract readers as young as ten and eleven, and adult publishers reach to capitalize on the growing market.) While some of your readers may be a little younger than the twelve--to--eighteen target—-children aged ten to twelve tend to read above their age—-and some may be a little older, keep in mind that you have to convince all segments of your audience that you know what it feels like to be a young person today. If you can’t convince your audience that you know how they feel about the world today and express yourself the same way, you will never reach them.
Avoid the Preach ‘n’ Teach
Whether YA readers attend elementary or secondary school isn’t an issue when it comes to the importance of YA Fiction Rule #2.
YA Fiction Rule #2: Don’t be condescending to your readers.
Young people won’t abide stories that suggest that their turmoil or idealism will pass when they “grow up.” Brent Hartinger, author of Geography Club, says, “I’m a big believer that kids are smarter than we think they are.…I think kids can handle complexity and nuances, and the advantage to writing that way is that the book appeals to both teenagers and adults.”
Many adults read fiction as an escape—-teens are no different. Imagine spending a long day in school, learning boring lessons ’cause you’re supposed to, having everyone from parents to teachers to employers telling you what to do, how to think, what to wear, then picking up a novel—-and having someone else trying to shove another lesson down your throat! I can’t imagine a bigger letdown.
Don’t deal with young people by trying to push them in one direction or another. Deal with them where they’re at now.
Soak It Up!
A word of caution: don’t emulate your favorite authors, but learn from them. You’ll want to create work that is truly your own. In the resource guide at the back of this book, along with details such as schools that offer writing degrees with a YA focus, you’ll find listings for websites that recommend great YA fiction.
YA Fiction Rule #3: Read, read, read today’s 
YA fiction.

The benefits to reading what’s already on the market are phenomenal. It will familiarize you with what’s selling, how kids today talk, what they wear, what issues concern them, and so on. If you don’t have easy access to a teen, reading books meant for teens is probably the next best thing to having a teen personally tell you what he or she would like to read.
Ideals First, Meals Later
Writing a successful book that aims to attract the widest possible audience should be every writer’s goal, shouldn’t it? The answer is yes and no. It helps to have a general audience age in mind, but you don’t want to be consumed with thoughts about how and whether you’ll sell your work.
YA Fiction Rule #4: Silence your worries about commercial considerations.
This allows you to concentrate on your primary objective, which is to tell your story. If a nagging inner voice surfaces or someone discourages you, rather than pulling on earphones and listening to music as a teenager might, transform the voices through the power of your imagination into “white noise.” This is the all--frequency sound emitted from machines that imparts a feeling of privacy, calming you and allowing you to focus on that world you’re creating. Keep your artistic integrity—-your ideals—-ahead of how commercially successful—-your meals—-you want your book to be. If you focus on writing the best possible book, commercial success will follow later.
As your manuscript develops while you work through the guidelines provided in the ensuing chapters, your audience will become as clear to you as if you were speaking on a stage and looking into an auditorium full of people. If you subsequently work with an agent, the two of you can determine whether the manuscript should be pitched to editors specializing in YA, adult fiction, or both. But the fate of your manuscript will still be up in the air. Editors, who are invested with the power to buy or decline a manuscript, will ultimately determine to whom the book will be marketed.
The significant rise in the success of YA novels has opened the way for a multiplicity of categories, and just to give you an idea, I’ve listed some alphabetically: adventure, chick lit, comical, fantasy, fantasy epics, futuristic, gay--themed, historical, multicultural, mystery, religious, romantic, science fiction, sports, and urban. If your story idea doesn’t fit into any of these categories, you may have to invent one. Consider it an opportunity.
The Undiscovered Country
From this point on, let your creative spirit be guided by YA Rule #5.
YA Rule #5: In your new world of YA fiction, erect no concrete barriers, wire fences, or one--way signs. Instead, forge new paths.
The YA field welcomes innovators. Encapsulating the newness of the time, YA novels are being published in nontraditional formats. Three YA authors banded together to compose a novel. Another entry is an interactive book with websites that combines reading with the world of Internet gaming. What will your contribution be? Think fresh.
Remember that young people are trendsetters—-they’re always looking to differentiate themselves from others. It’s how teens forge their own identities. Don’t be afraid to push the boat out as well. Coming up with a fresh idea will set you apart from the pack and might be the thing that sparks an editor’s interest in your work.
Okay, consider yourself warned. Now that you know what not to do, it’s time to learn how to craft the next YA bestseller. Step by step, this book will walk you through the mechanics of what makes a great YA novel.
Chapter 2 is about generating an idea, your story. It will talk about different ways to uncover stories that YA readers will want to read about. It will also help you discover new possibilities for stories within yourself that you may not have known you had.
Chapter 3 will discuss characters—-the heart of any manuscript. How to breathe life into interesting characters your reader will connect with is the main lesson of this chapter, but we’ll also discuss how to find the best characters for the story you want to tell.
Chapter 4 is all about plot, story, and how to tell the difference. Plot is like a machine that propels your manuscript forward, while story is the overall impression you want the plot to create in the reader’s mind.
Chapter 5 is about how to put together a believable plot. It’s all about action—-establishing the main conflict of your manuscript and putting it in motion. Of special concern will be integrating the events of the manuscript with the characters’ personalities, making sure that the characters react to events in believable ways.
Chapter 6 is about setting and timeline. Setting is the background of your story—-the when and where. This chapter is about understanding the atmosphere of your story and effectively manipulating the details of that atmosphere to influence your manuscript’s tone.
Chapter 7 is about point of view—-the perspective from which you tell your story. Point of view can be an extremely effective tool for connecting with character and clarifying or confusing the reader about events—-provided you use it correctly.
Chapter 8 is about the meat of your manuscript—-dialogue. Dialogue provides an opportunity for your characters to interact and opens up another way to build your characters.
Chapter 9 is about the theme of your manuscript. Theme is the overall impression you want your readers to take away. It’s a subtle but effective way for the author to express himself through the story.
Chapter 10 is about wrapping it all up, bringing your plot to a successful resolution. Endings can be very tricky, so there will be detailed discussion about what sorts of conclusions to avoid.
Chapter 11 is about how to find constructive feedback and incorporate it into your revisions. All authors need to edit and revise their manuscript, and this chapter will explain why the editing process is so necessary.
Chapter 12 is about getting published—what agents and editors do and how to get your work into their hands. This is the business chapter-—the one that details exactly how the publishing industry works.
Chapter 13 is about YA nonfiction and the emerging genre of New Adult. The YA market is constantly in flux, and this chapter will expose you to two recent developments in the market.
I hope all of these tools will be helpful to you as you begin the process of writing the next YA bestseller. Let’s begin exploring that magical new world.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Teaser Tuesday #77 Whatever Life Throws At You by Julie Cross

Welcome to Teaser Tuesdays! Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following: Grab your current read Open to a random page Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn't give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!) Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers! My Teaser Tuesday is for the following...

Whatever Life Throws at You

whatever LIFE throws AT YOU by Julie Cross
Publisher: Entangled: Teen
Publication Date: October 7, 2014

Life loves a good curveball…

Seventeen-year-old Annie Lucas's life is completely upended the moment her dad returns to the major leagues as the new pitching coach for the Kansas City Royals. Now she's living in Missouri (too cold), attending an all-girls school (no boys), and navigating the strange world of professional sports. But Annie has dreams of her own—most of which involve placing first at every track meet…and one starring the Royals' super-hot rookie pitcher.

But nineteen-year-old Jason Brody is completely, utterly, and totally off-limits. Besides, her dad would kill them both several times over. Not to mention Brody has something of a past, and his fan club is filled with C-cupped models, not smart-mouthed high school “brats” who can run the pants off every player on the team. Annie has enough on her plate without taking their friendship to the next level. The last thing she should be doing is falling in love.

But baseball isn't just a game. It's life. And sometimes, it can break your heart…

Teasers from ebook page: 132

We push our way toward the center of the dance floor. Pink and blue lights swirl around us. It's hard to see anything clearly and being this fake identity tonight allows me permission to let loose. There is something about high heels and a tight dress that gives you a certain level of confidence, like there's a power in feeling sexy. I hadn't really anticipated that when I agreed to put on Lenny's clothes. Of course, I've dressed cute for the ex-boyfriend before but never did it include a dress quite this short. Or shiny. After a good thirty minutes of dancing, I'm starting to sweat, and I pull my hair up off my neck. Lenny shoots me a glare and swats my hand. Don't you dare mess up your hair! It looks amazing!"
Just to piss her off, I turn my head upside down and shake out the long blond curls she carefully fixed for me. When I stand upright again, she grins. "Sexy."

PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT with either the link to your own Teaser Tuesdays post, or share your ‘teasers’ in a comment here if you don’t have a blog Thanks! 

Review: A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray

A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray
Publisher- Harper Teen
Released- Nov 4th 2014
Pre-Order- Amazon / B & N

Marguerite Caine’s physicist parents are known for their radical scientific achievements. Their most astonishing invention: the Firebird, which allows users to jump into parallel universes, some vastly altered from our own. But when Marguerite’s father is murdered, the killer—her parent’s handsome and enigmatic assistant Paul—escapes into another dimension before the law can touch him.Marguerite can’t let the man who destroyed her family go free, and she races after Paul through different universes, where their lives entangle in increasingly familiar ways. With each encounter she begins to question Paul’s guilt—and her own heart. Soon she discovers the truth behind her father’s death is more sinister than she ever could have imagined.A Thousand Pieces of You explores a reality where we witness the countless other lives we might lead in an amazingly intricate multiverse, and ask whether, amid infinite possibilities, one love can endure.
My Thoughts:
Already a huge fan of Gray, I couldn't wait to read her latest project, A Thousand Pieces of You, the first book in her new Firebird series. I admit, it did take a little bit to warm up to the pacing, but all in all this turned out to be an exciting and fascinating fun filled escape.

After the death of her father, Marguerite is out for revenge. With the help of her friend Theo, the two travel through dimension to chase down her fathers killer using the invention he built, called the Firebird.

I've read my share of time travel books and while some books don't bond well, I still adore this genre concept and always on the look out for more books about them. The story line was really very cool,  there is a lot of terminology and techy stuff that I don't always fully understand which is why it's hard to connect with the overall story, but I think Gray did well, even if I struggled at times between dimensions. I enjoyed all of the twist and turns that keep me guessing, half of which I never saw coming. I think the pacing and flow could have been pulled in a little tighter, but the concept is solid and the characters and romance really pulled the story along nicely. I liked all of the characters. Marguerite is brave and resilient, Theo has charm and charisma and Paul is the mystery that ties this first installment in a gripping and cunning way. Not everything is what it seems.

All in all, this turned out to be a decent read. It may not be my favourite Gray novel, but it's definitely a good start to a promising series that I look forward to continuing. 

Find the author:
Goodreads / Website                                3.5 Snowflakes