The Most Important Book Ever: A Guest Post by Liz Coley

Today I'm happy to welcome author Liz Coley to the blog to talk about what book is the most important book ever for her! Here's Liz:

The Most Important Book Ever – HOP ON POP
By Liz Coley

The most important book in my life was Hop on Pop by Dr. Suess. My mom brought it home one day—I think I was four—sat me down at bedtime, and started helping me sound it out. We’d done letters and letter sounds on signs, on cereal boxes, on doors and light switches, on refrigerator magnets. Animals made noises, so it made perfect sense to me that letters did too. A cat says meow, a dog says woof, a cow says moo, and a P says Puh. An H says Huh. And O says ahhh.

Put them all together: Huh-ahhh-puh HOP!!! HOP!!! Ahhh-nuh ON!!! Puh-ahhh-pop POP!!!

It was an epiphany moment. The world was suddenly bright and full of possibilities. I knew I could read anything now. Thanks to phonics and my mom’s perfect Julie Andrews British diction I could tell the difference between POP and PUP, between SIT, SAT, and SET. The important words in the book were spelled in capital letters—no b, d, p, q confusion possible—then the little letters were repeated underneath. Genius.

Each little vignette told a simple story, often with humorous conflict: “We play all day. We fight all night” was completely recognizable sibling behavior. I was the big sister. I got it. There was psychological support for kids; a less than patient parent at dinner could be explained by reference to “Dad is sad. Very, very sad. He had a bad day. What a day Dad had!” The big words, “Constantinople and Timbuktu,” became recognizable and fun to say. They promised great things ahead—the idea that as you grew up you’d learn new and wonderful words.

Mom and I worked through the book night after night. I went back to it by myself over and over again. It was the most powerful tool I had ever held in my hands.

Thanks, Liz! I remember reading Dr. Seuss with my dad and those books really got me going on reading. It's always great to hear about a fellow childhood Dr. Seuss lover!

Everyone: Do you remember reading Dr. Seuss as a child? What is the most important book ever for you?

About Liz:
Liz Coley has been writing short and long fiction for teens and adults for more than ten years. Her short fiction has appeared in Cosmos Magazine and several speculative fiction anthologies: The Last Man, More Scary Kisses, and Strange Worlds.

In 2011, she self-published the YA novel Out of Xibalba, a story that begins when the world ends. The same week Out of Xibalba launched, Liz sold the dark contemporary thriller Pretty Girl-13 to HarperCollins for international publication. Liz is happy to speak on comparing these two experiences.

Liz started out in hospital administration after majoring in biochemistry at Yale and pursuing a management degree at MIT. She put this paid career on hold to raise three children --- her happiest accomplishment was teaching each of them to read at age three.

Now she lives in Cincinnati, Ohio with her husband, her teenaged daughter, a snoring dog and a limping old cat. The two older boys have flown the nest. Her passions beyond reading and writing include singing, photography, and baking. She plays competitive tennis to keep herself fit and humble.

Taped to her computer are her "lucky charms" --- the 15 Chinese cookie fortunes collected over the years which spoke to her writing aspirations and encouraged her along her journey.

Find her at any of the following online venues:

lizcoley.com     LCTeen.com

Twitter     Facebook

phlography.blogspot.com     thelucky13s.blogspot.com

Check out the book trailer for the recently-released Pretty Girl-13http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HHiHYZ4eglo


Haunted at 17: My Story

In honour of the release of 17 & Gone by Nova Ren Suma, she has been running a series-type thing on her blog, Distraction no. 99, where she and other authors have been discussing what haunted them when they were 17 years old.

I know that I'm a little slow on the uptake here, but I saw so many of the wonderful posts that Nova Ren Suma has been tweeting and blogging and I wanted to write one. I knew I had something to say. I could feel it inside me. The reason this took me a while to get out, though, is primarily because I couldn't think of something that really haunted me at 17. 

Warning: Long, personal post ahead. 

See, I'm only going on 19 this spring, so I didn't think I was far enough removed yet from 17 to really know the connection between feelings or events that would be what haunted me. And then I was aimlessly scrolling through Twitter, watching conversations and comments flow by when it hit me. I know what haunted me at 17 because it still haunts me today. I'm not haunted by ghosts. I am the ghost. 

At 17 I was, and still today I am absolutely an introvert. Don't get me wrong, I love having friends and spending time with them. Companionship feels wonderful. But I am simply too shy and too self-conscious to put myself out there. I stop myself from joining in conversations all the time because I feel like either I'll be interrupting and bothering the people having it, or else I'll have nothing of value to say and that these people will then look down on me. I am afraid to approach people because I so often don't know what to say without making a fool of myself. And I am TERRIFIED of making a fool of myself. I have missed out on a lot because I was afraid. Afraid of looking stupid. Afraid of being the one person in the group who doesn't "get it", or has the wrong opinion. I have felt like this for years now. And this fear pushes me directly to the background.

 When I was 17, I was in high school. All throughout high school I was slowly retreating into my shell of self-consciousness. I had already drifted apart from both of my childhood best friends (though not completely at my own fault), which I find myself regretting all the time. At 17, I could count the number of people I truly considered my friends on one hand. I wanted to make more. I TRIED to make more. But nobody ever really responded to my efforts. Probably because by 17, I had already established myself as a bit of a recluse. In senior year, I showed up with my best friend at a Halloween house party that I had been off-handedly invited to. People were genuinely surprised to see me there. That same best friend told me one say that someone at school had asked her "Does Jessica even go here anymore?" I remember thinking to myself, "How did it go this far, that people don't expect to ever see me outside of school? That people don't even know I still go to this school? How did I become so invisible?" Because I wasn't friends with the "party/popular/fun people" before 17, and I was too afraid at 17 to even try to become a friend of theirs. They each had a friend group already. Why would they want me in it? I had convinced myself that I had nothing to contribute to any of those groups.

 Now, at almost 19, not much has changed. I rarely make friends in my classes because I'm so afraid of introducing myself to someone and having them think I am a complete idiot, or any other number of terrible things I could be. I have had 10 university classes so far. I have made one friend. She was the one to start the conversation. She was the one who first suggested we do something together outside of class. I was surprised when she did, because I still feel like "Why would she want to spend more time with me?" I cannot tell you how many things I've changed, how many times I've kept my mouth shut, how many tweets or Facebook updates I've typed out only to never post them. All because I am terrified of being THAT person that everyone talks about with disgust or in mocking. I often feel lonely or left out and wish I had more friends to spend time with, but the ironic part is I am pushing so many potential friends away by willingly fading out of their line of sight. It's my own fault. I don't want to say something wrong, so I say nothing at all. And saying nothing means never getting noticed. It means nobody gets to know you. And it is something I struggle with.

 Every time I send off a tweet (I use Twitter as my example because it is so relevant nowadays as an easy form of communication with pretty much anyone) to someone or as a response that then doesn't get an answer, I feel awful about myself and think "Why did I even bother? They don't care about my opinion anyway. Why should I or my useless thoughts matter to them?" And this is not the fault of the person I tweet at. They don't have any obligation to respond to me. Tweets get lost in the craziness of Twitter. People are BUSY. I KNOW that most of the time, they're not purposely avoiding my message to them. But it feels like they are, because the part of me that thinks I'm not worth it tells me so. And every time it happens, I feel more and more invisible in my own world. This invisibility has not just come from Twitter. This feeling has been with me for years, and at 17 it made me turn my back on the "social world" of high school. Junior year I was still trying. I tried to talk to people in class. I tried to take part in events. I went to my boyfriend's senior prom. And then, in my senior year, I stopped trying because I felt like I wasn't getting anywhere. I went to that one Halloween party, and that's it all year. I spent every one of my spare periods in the library. I skipped my prom. On graduation day, I got photos with, count 'em, three classmates. That was how far back I had pulled myself. Because I was scared and I was insecure. I still am, and today it dictates every move I make.  

That little voice inside me speaks to me still, saying "Don't say that, it's dumb," or "Nobody cares about _____. Shut up," or even, "They're only inviting you because you're bothering them and they want you to stop." Every day I deal with that voice telling me what is okay for me to do and what is not. And right now, the voice is telling me not to post this because you'll all think I'm begging for attention. But I will post it. And honestly, knowing that I will indeed post it has my stomach in a knot, because I am genuinely afraid that people will read this and think "She just wants us to feel bad for her." But I don't want that. That is not my intention here, and please believe that. I'm just being honest about why I hold back. Why I don't appear to be as friendly as I want to -- as I truly am, deep down inside. I want to be your friend. I am just scared to show it because I don't think I know how to.  


Waiting on Wednesday #22: If He Had Been With Me

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly feature created by Jill at Breaking the Spine. This is where you showcase an upcoming release you're anxiously awaiting!
This week, I'm waiting on:

If He Had Been With Me by Laura Nowlin.

Expected Publication: April 1, 2013
by Sourcebooks Fire.

Goodreads Blurb:
If he had been with me, he wouldn't have died.

Throughout their whole childhood, Finn and Autumn were inseparable—they finished each other's sentences, they knew just what to say when the other person was hurting. But one incident in middle school puts them in separate social worlds come high school, and Autumn has been happily dating James for the last 2 years. But she's always wondered what if...

The night she's about to get the answer is also one of terrible tragedy.

Why I'm excited: Similar to last week, I picked a contemporary that sounds emotional and is coming out soon. I'm really curious to see how this one plays out. I hope it doesn't hurt too much!

What are you waiting on this week?


Review: The Colossus Rises by Peter Lerangis

The Colossus Rises by Peter Lerangis.

Published: February 5, 2013.
Published by: HarperCollins.
Source: ARC received from the publisher via the Ottawa Blogger Meetup. Thank you HarperCollins and Kathy!

Goodreads Blurb:
One Boy

Jack McKinley is an ordinary kid with an extraordinary problem. In a few months, he’s going to die.

One Mission

Jack needs to find seven magic loculi that, when combined, have the power to cure him.

One Problem

The loculi are the relics of a lost civilization and haven’t been seen in thousands of years.

Seven Wonders

Because they’re hidden in the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

My Review:

For the first middle grade novel to be reviewed on my blog, this was a fantastic choice! It clearly had promise, and on that it absolutely delivered. I was definitely pleasantly surprised by this one.

This is a wonderfully written novel. With middle grade, I think it's very important to have a narrative voice that a younger reader can connect to. This was absolutely present with the main character and narrator, Jack. His narrative voice is so friendly and easy to follow, especially at the beginning, and I think it is perfect for younger readers. At the same time though, it did not feel juvenile at all. As an older teenager reading an MG novel, I did not feel spoken down to, or like it was too young for me. That can be a hard balance for MG authors to find, but I think Peter Lerangis has done an excellent job writing in a voice that can appeal to people of any age.

If I had to describe this novel in two words, I'd say action-packed. There is always something happening. This is the perfect book for a reader who gets bored quickly because there is no time to get bored. It jumps from some wild event to a daring escape to an unbelievable rescue, and so on. This was done extremely well because while it is definitely exciting and always moving, the transition is still there. It moves at a fast pace but not at the expense of important information. This is another area in which I feel Lerangis' experience in this field really comes through. You cannot dispute that he knows how to write for his audience.

While the plot was certainly the highlight of the novel, you can't forget the characters. The main character, Jack, is smart, entertaining, and, what I especially enjoyed: skeptical. When he is told a bunch of wild, unimaginable things about himself, he doesn't just accept them; he thinks the man who told him is absolutely nuts and tries to run away. He thinks logically, which in a story with such wild happenings, helps make a lot of things more understandable. As for the friends he makes, Cass, Marco, and Aly; they're all a little strange and they each have their quirks that sometimes make you want to grab them by the shoulders and shake them, but these things make them feel like real 13 year olds. What real 13 year old doesn't have some annoying quirk or habit? You really grow to enjoy them despite the occasionally irritating behaviour, because really, it's normal.

Overall this was a fun, exciting novel for my first foray into middle grade fiction on the blog and I loved the mythology/history aspect! Can't wait to see which wonder they tackle next! I will absolutely be keeping my eye out for the next novel in the series.
4 stars!


Waiting on Wednesday #21: My Life After Now

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly feature created by Jill at Breaking the Spine. This is where you showcase an upcoming release you're anxiously awaiting!
This week, I'm waiting on:

My Life After Now by Jessica Verdi.

Expected Publication: April 1, 2013
by Sourcebooks Fire.

Goodreads Blurb:
Sixteen-year-old Lucy never thought it would happen to her. She planned on becoming a Broadway star, living out her days with her leading man, Ty. Instead, a new girl walks off with her role and her guy. Lucy flies off the rails and does something completely out of character. Something with consequences she'll have to live with the rest of her life...

What will she tell her family? Her friends? Off script and without the comforts of her simple high school problems, Lucy must figure out how to live and even embrace a life she thought was all but over.

Why I'm excited: This sounds like a really emotional and powerful contemporary, and sometimes you just really need one of those. I'm glad I don't have to wait too much longer!

What are you waiting on this week?

Follow my blog with Bloglovin


Review: The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson

The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson.

Published on February 26, 2013.
Published by Putnam Juvenile.
Source: Won ARC from Razorbill Canada. Thank you!

Goodreads Blurb:
After her near-fatal run-in with the Jack the Ripper copycat, Rory Devereaux has been living in Bristol under the close watch of her parents. So when her therapist suddenly suggests she return to Wexford, Rory jumps at the chance. But Rory's brush with the Ripper touched her more than she thought possible: she's become a human terminus, with the power to eliminate ghosts on contact. She soon finds out that the Shades—the city's secret ghost-fighting police—are responsible for her return. The Ripper may be gone, but now there is a string of new inexplicable deaths threatening London. Rory has evidence that the deaths are no coincidence. Something much more sinister is going on, and now she must convince the squad to listen to her before it's too late.

In this follow-up to the Edgar Award-nominated The Name of the Star, Maureen Johnson adds another layer of spectacularly gruesome details to the streets of London that will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very end.

My Review:

I was really looking forward to this one after enjoying The Name of the Star when I read it last year. I have to say, I had mixed feelings about it. I can basically split these feelings along the halves of the book.

The first half:
I hate to say it, but... *snore*. This half of the novel moved very slowly, wasn't all that exciting, and really was just a great example of the second-book slump. Rory goes back to school. Tries to re-adjust. Falls behind and feels left out. Etcetera. Nothing especially stimulating. She also seems to go back on so many things from the last novel, which is somewhat confusing. Plus she goes around and ruins things left and right, which made me frustrated with her. I just felt like nothing was accomplished in the first half. Yes, there was a "ghost mystery" but it was done and over with quickly and didn't seem to contribute all that much. And her ghost-busting pals; Stephen, Boo, and Callum... they were there but it didn't really feel like it. I missed them the way they were in The Name of the Star. So that was kind of disappointing, because they can be great characters, they just... weren't. Also, I tended to get a little annoyed by Rory's complete inability to do anything useful for basically the entire first half. That's probably why I felt so bored.

The second half:
This is where the novel really picked up and got interesting. This is where I had trouble putting the book down. This is where I finally started to care about the characters again. There was mystery and there were some shady characters that you're never really sure of. There was suspense and really bad situations that had me saying "No Rory! Don't! What are you thinking?" And then, at the end, there was THE THING. I can't spoil it because that would be awful of me but trust me, it's a big deal. Things started going my way and I was happy and thought "okay, it can end there, I'm all right with that." Then BAM! I didn't see it coming and honestly, it kind of hurt. In that bad-but-good bookish way. But it was a huge factor in amping up my interest for the next novel, especially after the slow beginning to this one, so that's a bonus!

I am happy to say that the latter half of the novel was enough to interest me in reading the next book, so good job, Maureen! I also have to mention that I definitely saw a lot of Maureen in this novel. Her quirk and somewhat off-beat humour were very present and while that was so much fun, it occasionally brought me out of the story because I was reminded so much of the author. Still enjoyable to read, though!
3 stars.


Review & Giveaway: The Lives We Lost by Megan Crewe

The Lives We Lost by Megan Crewe.

Published on February 12, 2013.
Published by Disney Hyperion.
Source: Purchased.

Goodreads Blurb:
First, the virus took Kaelyn’s friends. Then, her family. Now it’s taken away her home.

But she can't look back—the life she once had is gone forever.

A deadly virus has destroyed Kaelyn’s small island community and spread beyond the quarantine. No one is safe. But when Kaelyn finds samples of a vaccine in her father's abandoned lab, she knows there must be someone, somewhere, who can replicate it. As Kaelyn and her friends head to the mainland, they encounter a world beyond recognition. It’s not only the “friendly flu” that’s a killer—there are people who will stop at nothing to get their hands on the vaccine. How much will Kaelyn risk for an unproven cure, when the search could either destroy those she loves or save the human race?

Megan Crewe's second volume in the Fallen World trilogy is an action-packed journey that explores the resilience of friendship, the ache of lost love, and Kaelyn’s enduring hope in the face of the sacrifices she must make to stay alive.

My Review:

Another fantastic novel from Megan Crewe. There was certainly no second-book slump for this series as it was just as exciting as the first!

One thing I really loved about this novel was that it is a journey story. It's an excellent follow-up to the more stationary beginning of the trilogy because now Kaelyn and her group of friends are on the move across a mainland ravaged by the same virus that struck their island. The constant movement meant things were constantly changing and new problems were arising, which kept the excitement level up all the way along.

The atmosphere of this novel was extremely well done. There is a major sense of emptiness and desolation both on the island and across the mainland, which served to heighten the feeling of danger when it arose. There was also a lot of tension in this instalment of the series, especially with the introduction of a new character who clearly doesn't think before he acts and risks their lives on more than one occasion.

Speaking of characters, it was great to finally see Leo in person as opposed to just hearing about him through Kaelyn. I also really enjoyed seeing his relationship with Kae for the first time, even when they struggled with where they stand with one another. It was great development for the story. Kaelyn was, as in the first novel, brave, strong and determined, which makes her a fantastic leader for the group. It was also great to continue having Gav around though, especially when Kaelyn loses her head. Gav is a wonderful guy, but he frustrated me on occasion because he was just so darn selfless. It's a great quality for him to have, especially in the kind of world they're now faced with, but the boy needs a stronger sense of self-preservation!

All in all I loved the direction the storyline went in The Lives We Lost, and I appreciated how the environment and situations really tested the group so we get to see more of their character. It was an excellent example of how to avoid an underwhelming middle book in a trilogy.
4.5 stars!

I have an extra hardcover copy of The Lives We Lost to give away to one lucky US/CAN follower! Continue your journey with Kaelyn and the gang, courtesy of yours truly :)

Some Rules (aka the not so fun but important part):
~ This giveaway is open to residents of the US and Canada only.
~ No P.O. boxes.
~ Must be 13 or older to enter.
~ Winner will be chosen randomly and contacted via email. The winner has 48 hours to respond to my email, otherwise they forfeit their prize and I will choose another winner, who must abide by the same rules.
~ Neither Megan nor I are not responsible for lost or damaged packages.
No cheating! In this case, I have the right to disqualify entries as I see fit.
~ By entering the giveaway, you are agreeing to these rules.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Character Interview & Giveaway: Kaelyn from The Way We Fall

Today for Megan Crewe Week, I'd like to welcome Kaelyn from The Lives We Lost to my blog for an interview!

This is Kaelyn speaking from the perspective of the beginning of THE LIVES WE LOST (so, no spoilers for that book or book 3).

Jessica: Hi Kaelyn, thank you for joining me! I have a few questions about you, to start.
Where did your love of animals come from?

Kaelyn: I don't really know. I've found animals fascinating for as long as I can remember--trying to figure out what goes on in their heads, watching them relate to each other and the natural world, the way they can seem so much like people and yet be different in so many ways. I guess it's the differences that I enjoy the most. Animals as so straight-forward compared to people. Once you spend a little time watching them, you can figure out what they're after in any given situation without a whole lot of trouble. People, on the other hand--I don't know if I'm ever going to figure another human being out completely! So maybe it's also that I always felt comfortable with animals, like I knew what to expect. People can turn around and hurt you when you least expect it.

J: I have to ask: how did you come up with the names Fossey and Mowat for your ferrets?

K: Fossey is named after Dian Fossey, who devoted her life to studying gorillas, and Mowat is named after Farley Mowat, the nature writer who's spent a lot of time in the wild observing different species. They're two of the people I most admire--I'd love to have a career like theirs. So I named the ferrets in their honor. :)

J: How did you feel about your move from Toronto back to the island?

K: Oh, wow, I felt so many things! I mean, I was relieved, because I never really felt like I fit in, in the city. I'd had so much trouble making friends, and I didn't even like going out on my own that much. It was so overwhelming, having so many people around all the time. But at the same time, coming back to the island was scary. It might have been easier to go to a totally different small town where I'd be starting fresh. Because I knew that everyone back home had been sharing experiences and grouping off in ways I wasn't a part of, so I wouldn't really fit in there anymore either, and at the same time they'd have expectations based on the me they remembered, who'd only been eleven, and who'd been through a bunch of stuff myself since then.
And also I was pretty nervous about seeing Leo again. It's easy to let yourself not talk to someone and confront a problem when they're far away. But when you're going to be seeing them face to face… I had no idea how he was going to react. Or how I was going to react!

J: Now, when did you start to realize something was wrong?

K: Really, the first sign was how weird Rachel's dad was acting that time. Not that I had any idea *what* was wrong, but clearly something was. I was so uncomfortable when I left her house that day. And then when I heard he'd been taken to the hospital, I knew it was something big. I still don't think I was prepared when Dad told us how serious the situation was. I wasn't prepared for anyone to die, not really.

J: You wrote about everything that happened in journal entries to your best friend Leo. Did you ever plan on showing your journal letters to him?

K: Well, the original plan was to use the journal to practice saying things to him that I wouldn't need to show him, because I'd just say them when I saw him again. And then… After things got bad, I was pretty sure I wasn't ever going to see him again. I guess I hoped he might find the journal someday, if something happened to me, so that he'd know what we went through on the island.
Now that he's back, I could maybe see letting him read it sometime in the future. Not right now, though. Some of the things I wrote there--some of them were embarrassing. And some of them I'm not ready for him to know.

J: Do you have any suspicions as to what Drew was doing when he kept sneaking out?

K: I figured he had to be working on some sort of plan of action that he thought would help us. That's Drew. He's always crusading for one cause or another, so of course he'd be the first to champion our rights when the island was quarantined. I didn't expect him to be so focused on saving just our family, though. Obviously we were even more important to him than all his ideas about justice and fair treatment. I wish I'd made it more clear to him how important he was to me, before he left.

J: What was your first reaction when your mom got sick?

K: I want to say terror, but denial is probably more accurate. I just couldn't believe it. She was the most careful out of all of us--she hardly left the house. But all it takes is one bad moment… It wasn't right. If there was one of us who should have survived, it was her. 

J: Before any of this happened, would you have ever imagined yourself being able to survive such an ordeal?

K: I think I'd have had trouble imagining that a situation like this could happen at all! Even after the epidemic started, I never imagined that the government would quarantine us like that, or that so many people would end up dying. I probably would have wanted to believe I'd survive, but I'm not sure I'd have been convinced. For a while there, in Toronto and after we came back, I didn't feel strong at all.

J: Well Kaelyn, thank you very much for coming by and chatting with me!

K: Thank you for taking the time to listen to my story!

I'm so glad she was able to answer some questions! It's always great to be able to delve a little deeper into a main character's mind. 
Do you have any questions about The Way We Fall, or about The Lives We Lost? No spoilers though, for those who haven't read them!

Make sure you check out the Fallen World trilogy.
The Way We Fall and The Lives We Lost out now!

I have a special treat for one lucky US/CAN follower: A THE WAY WE FALL Journal and Pen, so you can keep track of your thoughts just like Kaelyn does (although hopefully minus the dangerous virus).

Some Rules (aka the not so fun but important part):
~ This giveaway is open to residents of the US and Canada only.
~ No P.O. boxes.
~ Must be 13 or older to enter.
~ Winner will be chosen randomly and contacted via email. The winner has 48 hours to respond to my email, otherwise they forfeit their prize and I will choose another winner, who must abide by the same rules.
~ Neither Megan nor I are not responsible for lost or damaged packages.
No cheating! In this case, I have the right to disqualify entries as I see fit.
~ By entering the giveaway, you are agreeing to these rules.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Exclusive Info & WoW #20: The Worlds We Make

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly feature created by Jill at Breaking the Spine. This is where you showcase an upcoming release you're anxiously awaiting!
This week, I'm waiting on:

The Worlds We Make by Megan Crewe.
Fallen World #3.

To be published in 2014
by Hyperion.

This week, since it's Megan Crewe week on the blog, I have a very special Waiting on Wednesday post.

There is no official blurb yet for this one, but I have spoken with Megan and she has given me some exciting tidbits about this novel to share with all of you!

So, without further ado, your first look at the final Fallen World novel, The Worlds We Make, right from Megan herself!

~ Originally, there were only supposed to be two Fallen World novels. The title for this last one, The Worlds We Make, was Megan's original title for the second (and final) book.

~ "Two important characters who are mentioned but not seen in Book 2 will appear in Book 3."

~ "Like The Lives We Lost, Book 3 is essentially a journey story, but Kaelyn's group will learn something early on that makes this journey significantly different from before."

~ "Helicopters will continue to cause problems."

~ "A cat will play a small but critical role in Kaelyn's survival."

~ "This is the final part of the story, and the journey ahead is a dangerous one. I'm not pulling any punches. Not everyone makes it out alive."

So. Wow. Does that sound exciting or what? And not everyone makes it out alive? Holy smokes! I don't know if I can wait until 2014 for this one! Looks like it will be an amazing end to the trilogy!

What do you think of the trilogy so far? Are you excited for the final novel? I know I certainly am!


Review & Giveaway: The Way We Fall by Megan Crewe

To begin Megan Crewe week, I'm going to review the first book in the Fallen World trilogy.

The Way We Fall by Megan Crewe.

Published January 24, 2012.
Published by Disney-Hyperion.
Source: Won from Megan Crewe.

Goodreads Blurb:
It starts with an itch you just can't shake. Then comes a fever and a tickle in your throat. A few days later, you'll be blabbing your secrets and chatting with strangers like they’re old friends. Three more, and the paranoid hallucinations kick in.

And then you're dead.

When sixteen-year-old Kaelyn lets her best friend leave for school without saying goodbye, she never dreams that she might not see him again. But then a strange virus begins to sweep through her small island community, infecting young and old alike. As the dead pile up, the government quarantines the island: no one can leave, and no one can come back.

Those still healthy must fight for the island’s dwindling supplies, or lose all chance of survival. As everything familiar comes crashing down, Kaelyn joins forces with a former rival and discovers a new love in the midst of heartbreak. When the virus starts to rob her of friends and family, she clings to the belief that there must be a way to save the people she holds dearest.

Because how will she go on if there isn't?

Poignant and dizzying, The Way We Fall is the heart-wrenching story of one girl's bravery and unbeatable spirit as she challenges not just her fears, but her sense of what makes life worth living.

My Review:

The first novel in the Fallen World trilogy is an excellent beginning to the story of a truly frightening possibility faced by our world today. When a small island is infected with a mysterious illness, one of the residents, Kaelyn, begins to fear for the safety of those she loves. Megan Crewe has created a scenario that is scary because it is a completely plausible threat. It is one thing to read about aliens attacking Earth, but quite another to read about a killer virus that could just be a mutant strain of something out in the world right this moment.

Megan has written a fantastic story. It is told through a series of journal entries to Kaelyn's friend, Leo, who has moved off the island. The journal entry format was used well to express the deep fears of Kaelyn, which are likely reflected in all of the residents. It also serves to make the story much more personal. With viruses it is so easy for the story to become about symptoms and statistics, but this format makes it about the people stuck in this situation and their families. It really helped me to connect with Kaelyn, as well, because it felt so honest.

I thought the characters overall were well fleshed out and mostly likeable. Even the characters that didn't play as big a role, like Kaelyn's dad, were very realistic. His concern and his frustration felt genuine. Megan does really well at using the little things to make her characters come alive. There was a little romance included as well, which added a great element but didn't interfere with the real purpose of the story. I also loved the mystery that surrounded some of the characters, like Kaelyn's brother, Drew. There were many different aspects to the story which were meshed together extremely well.

The way the illness was written was gripping and mysterious. I loved how little things were revealed bit by bit. I had so many questions about what was going on and they were answered one by one, keeping me constantly intrigued and in suspense. It was very well thought out! The reaction to the illness was also interesting - not only that of the islanders but also of the people on the mainland and the government. Conflicting views, misunderstandings, knee-jerk reactions... there was so much realism to the scenario which only accentuated how entirely possible this whole idea is.

In all, this was a really great novel. Well written, suspenseful, and mysterious. There was great atmosphere and tension, and the feeling of alienation that takes over was great. In the end, I was left with many unanswered questions that I can't wait to see solved in the sequel, The Lives We Lost.
4 stars!

I have a signed copy of The Way We Fall to give away to one lucky US/CAN follower! If you haven't started this fantastic series yet, here's your chance!

Some Rules (aka the not so fun but important part):
~ This giveaway is open to residents of the US and Canada only.
~ No P.O. boxes.
~ Must be 13 or older to enter.
~ Winner will be chosen randomly and contacted via email. The winner has 48 hours to respond to my email, otherwise they forfeit their prize and I will choose another winner, who must abide by the same rules.
~ Neither Megan nor I are not responsible for lost or damaged packages.
No cheating! In this case, I have the right to disqualify entries as I see fit.
~ By entering the giveaway, you are agreeing to these rules.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Welcome to Megan Crewe Week!

This whole week on the blog, I will be featuring a wonderful Canadian author, Megan Crewe, and her Fallen World series!

Make sure you check back all week for reviews of the first two Fallen World novels, a character interview with the MC, Kaelyn, and some exclusive info about book three in the trilogy! Oh, and some fun Fallen World giveaways might just show up as well :)

About Megan:

Like many authors, Megan Crewe finds writing about herself much more difficult than making things up. A few definite facts: she lives in Toronto, Canada with her husband and three cats (and does on occasion say "eh"), she works as a behavioral therapist for children and teens with special needs, and she's spent the last four years studying kung fu, so you should probably be nice to her. She has been making up stories about magic and spirits and other what ifs since before she knew how to write words on paper. These days the stories are just a lot longer.

Megan's first novel, the young adult paranormal Give Up the Ghost, was published by Henry Holt & Co. in 2009. She is now working on the young adult post-apocalyptic Fallen World trilogy, published by Disney-Hyperion.  The first book in the trilogy, The Way We Fall, was released in 2012, and the second book, The Lives We Lost, was released in February 2013. She has also published short stories in magazines such as On Spec and Brutarian Quarterly.

Find her on Twitter, on Facebook, on Tumblr, on her blog, or on her website. Also check out the Fallen World website and Facebook page.


Review: 17 & Gone by Nova Ren Suma

17 & Gone by Nova Ren Suma.

Release Date: March 21, 2013.
Published by Dutton Juvenile.
Source: Borrowed from Kathy at A Glass of Wine.

Goodreads Blurb:
Seventeen-year-old Lauren is having visions of girls who have gone missing. And all these girls have just one thing in common—they are 17 and gone without a trace. As Lauren struggles to shake these waking nightmares, impossible questions demand urgent answers: Why are the girls speaking to Lauren? How can she help them? And… is she next? As Lauren searches for clues, everything begins to unravel, and when a brush with death lands her in the hospital, a shocking truth emerges, changing everything.

With complexity and richness, Nova Ren Suma serves up a beautiful, visual, fresh interpretation of what it means to be lost.

My Review:

Holy. Smokes. Nova Ren Suma is a genius. This novel was everything I hoped it would be and so much more. I could not put it down. It played with my mind in a way I absolutely loved. I think this is going to be a hard review to write simply because I cannot express my love for and amazement at this work in words. Please bear with me while I try.

The story was fantastic. It was twisted and insane but for all the right reasons. It was completely entrancing. Just as Lauren gets pulled into Abby (the first of the missing girls, and the most important to the story)'s memories, so did I. I followed Lauren every step of the way, seeing just what she saw only to have to pulled out from under our feet. It was so clear that something was wrong, but I felt locked into Lauren's mind, viewing everything from her perspective. It was mesmerizing and really helped pull me into the story. Come the end, when the "shocking truth emerges," it all fell into place. The ending was not something I would have called early on, but looking back, I see it. Once I was no longer stuck seeing through Lauren's eyes, I understand so much more. What amazed me about this novel is how both being in Lauren's mind and being outside of it helped me truly understand her as a person.

I just want to add in here a little note I made while I was reading the novel: I respect Ms. Suma immensely. She makes a point in the story about women being taken away no matter what they are wearing when it happens. I thought this was a very important point, even though it is only maybe two sentences in the entire novel. Not only just that she says it, but she makes the point it so well. She doesn't shove it in your face, she simply states it calmly and moves on. It was perfect and I felt it not only fit in with the story, but is an important, if subtlety made statement.

Anyway, I have one more thing to compliment Ms. Suma on: her incredible writing. Honestly, I got two chapters in and was already blown away. Her writing had me right from the beginning. She is poetic and original and it is absolutely beautiful. She describes shadows and shimmering outlines; she brings you right inside Lauren's mind and plays with it in front of you, and she does it all without loss of style. It is a haunting novel and I loved every minute of it.

Nova Ren Suma has done an amazing thing with this novel. She has combined stirring language, mind games and illusions, and many very lost girls to give us Lauren's story. I think it is one you will not soon forget.
Without a doubt, 5 stars.


Waiting on Wednesday #19: Of Beast and Beauty

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly feature created by Jill at Breaking the Spine. This is where you showcase an upcoming release you're anxiously awaiting!
This week, I'm waiting on:

Of Beast and Beauty by Stacey Jay.

Expected Publication: July 23, 2013
by Delacorte BYR.

Goodreads Blurb:
In the beginning was the darkness, and in the darkness was a girl, and in the girl was a secret...

In the domed city of Yuan, the blind Princess Isra, a Smooth Skin, is raised to be a human sacrifice whose death will ensure her city’s vitality. In the desert outside Yuan, Gem, a mutant beast, fights to save his people, the Monstrous, from starvation. Neither dreams that together, they could return balance to both their worlds.

Isra wants to help the city’s Banished people, second-class citizens despised for possessing Monstrous traits. But after she enlists the aid of her prisoner, Gem, who has been captured while trying to steal Yuan’s enchanted roses, she begins to care for him, and to question everything she has been brought up to believe.

As secrets are revealed and Isra’s sight, which vanished during her childhood, returned, Isra will have to choose between duty to her people and the beast she has come to love.

Why I'm excited: A retelling of Beauty and the Beast? That's all you needed to say to get me on board. But that blurb just adds to the excitement. It sounds very promising!

What are you waiting on this week?


Review: Fane Forest by Tahlea Eastwood

Fane Forest by Tahlea Eastwood.

Published 2012.
Published by Roly Road Books.
Source: Received ecopy from the author in exchange for a fair, unbiased review.

Goodreads Blurb:
“I chance a quick look at Myles and Ric before I pick up the tray and walk towards certain death. I say this because it’s certain. I’m offering myself to a group of people that would happily shoot me in the head, given the chance. I decide I really have gone insane.”

Andie lives on the border of a forest that is prohibited to humans. Only thing is, Andie isn’t human. For centuries her kind has been hunted and after spending her entire life in fear and hiding, it’s no wonder she yearns for freedom. But freedom is a fickle thing. 
When Andie’s father falls ill, she is forced to break the borders of Fane Forest in pursuit of the one creature who can save his life. What she discovers along the way is a magic that has the power to turn blood against blood, throat against throat. Can she protect the biggest secret on earth, and save her father’s life?

My Review:

Fane Forest sounds, from the blurb on Goodreads, like a wonderful novel about a young girl's journey that is filled with magic. On this, it absolutely delivers.

When Andie's father gets fatally ill, she sets out with her brother, Ric, and her best friend, Myles, on a journey through the Fane Forest to find a cure. This becomes a long trek that tests their relationships with each other, as well as their faith in themselves. It begins with a fast, exciting prologue and while the story itself is slower, it kept me interested the whole time. It really was a great adventure story with elements of a past fantasy world and a modern world combined for an interesting result. Not only is the story fantastic, but Tahlea's writing is also wonderful. The imagery was beautiful, and the settings, especially the forest, really came alive in front of me.

Andie is an excellent character. She is very easy to relate to, especially for young adults. She finds herself feeling very stuck in her life, craving more freedom, which her parents refuse her. She has huge ambitions and just wants a chance to prove herself, which, combined with her unwavering love for her family, is what gives her the courage to to take this task on. Readers get to experience a lot of her internal conflict as she struggles with who she knows herself to be and who she wants to be, as well as the responsibilities she finds thrust upon her. As she goes through the draining journey, she really comes into her own and grows as a character, which was great to see.

My only issues with the novel were, first, that it could have used more editing, even just for spelling and grammar. It's not a huge issue but it can distract from the story. I also wish there had been more division between scenes. When there is not a chapter division, it often felt like I was thrust into a new scene without any indication that any time has passed or that the characters have moved. A little more clarity would have helped this story reach its full potential.

Overall, this was a really great novel that I'm so pleased to have had the chance to read!
4 stars!