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Thursday, April 30, 2015

Undertow Blog Tour {review and giveaway}


I'm thrilled to have the Undertow Blog Tour stopping by today...

Undertow
(Undertow #1)
by Michael Buckley
5/5/15
HMH Books for Young Readers
384 pages
Sixteen-year-old Lyric Walker’s life is forever changed when she witnesses the arrival of 30,000 Alpha, a five-nation race of ocean-dwelling warriors, on her beach in Coney Island. The world’s initial wonder and awe over the Alpha quickly turns ugly and paranoid and violent, and Lyric’s small town transforms into a military zone with humans on one side and Alpha on the other. When Lyric is recruited to help the crown prince, a boy named Fathom, assimilate, she begins to fall for him. But their love is a dangerous one, and there are forces on both sides working to keep them apart. Only, what if the Alpha are not actually the enemy? What if they are in fact humanity’s only hope of survival? Because the real enemy is coming. And it’s more terrifying than anything the world has ever seen.

Action, suspense, and romance whirlpool dangerously in this cinematic saga, a blend of District 9 and The Outsiders.



Praise for Undertow

"Readers will find themselves immersed in this semi-edgy, race-against-the-clock world that's waiting to implode."—Kirkus

"Buckley packs this propulsive novel with one walloping scene after another, and there's enough action, romance, and high-stakes drama to keep a wide array of readers interested."—Booklist
"Buckley draws clear parallels between the vicious anti-Alpha attitudes and existing racial and ethnic prejudices...A fascinating, engaging, and tense tale, and a strong start to the series."—Publishers Weekly

“A gritty, turbulent novel as sweeping and deep as the ocean itself. UNDERTOW will pull you in and hold you down.”—Rebecca Serle, author of When You Were Mine, and The Edge of Falling 


“Lyric is a girl’s girl—as savvy as she is soulful, as sharp as she is tender. Lyric’s fierce, distinctive voice is the core magnetic force of UNDERTOW, and why we will all be stampeding for more.—Adele Griffin, author of All You Never Wanted and The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone


Until the Alpha came, all teenage Lyric Walker had to worry about were her migraines, keeping up with her BFF, Bex, and whether or not super hot Gabriel would stick around. But then 30,000 Alphas came out of the ocean and divided Lyric’s city into a war zone. The five-nation Alphas live in a massive tent-city on the beach, but many of the humans in Lyric’s world want them gone or worse. When several Alpha young are chosen to attend the local high school, Lyric is assigned to the Alpha Prince, Fathom. Reluctantly, Lyric and Fathom spend time together slowly building a friendship that quickly turns into more. But Lyric’s family is hiding a big secret and it turns out there may be something even more dangerous than the Alphas in the ocean.

Michael Buckley’s Undertow is a complex, multi-faceted, smartly written YA novel that is as enthralling as it is thought-provoking. On the surface Undertow seems to have an over-used and predictable premise- a hostile nonhuman species comes to Earth, spurring an epic love story between a human and nonhuman- and, while this may be a small part of Undertow’s premise, Buckley offers readers so much more. Yes, the smoldering tension between the humans and Alphas is intensely thrilling and the star-crossed love story between Lyric and Fathom is entertaining, but it’s the provocative, insightful exploration of human nature that kept me truly captivated and impressed. There are a lot of hot topics interwoven in Undertow- racism, poverty, abuse, drug use, sexuality, government control, etc- and Buckley does an exceptional job of exploring these topics realistically and in ways that never feels preachy or judgemental. There’s much in Undertow that will stimulate great discussion and leave readers very thoughtful.

Of course, the less serious side of Undertow (romance, action, humor, etc) kept me amused from beginning to end. Buckley fills Undertow with an eclectic cast of characters. I love that our heroine, Lyric, feels like a real, flawed teenager, and I enjoyed getting to know her. With his aloofness and hard exterior, Fathom is a bit harder to warm up to, but I appreciated his character growth throughout the book. While their romance moves a bit too fast for my liking, I genuinely liked Lyric and Fathom as a pair and I’m eager to see where their relationship goes in future books. I think my favorite character in Undertow is Lyric’s BFF, Bex, who has some of the best funny, snarky lines.

Undertow concludes with a helluva splash and definitely has me wanting more!

my final thoughts: Michael Buckley offers readers engaging characters, an exciting premise, and plenty of thought-provoking material. Undertow is a smart, refreshing, and wildly entertaining addition to the world of YA!

MY RATING
4/5 yummy cupcakes

New York Times bestselling author Michael Buckley was born in Akron, Ohio. He tried his hand as a stand-up comic and lead singer for a punk rock back before attending Ohio University. After graduating with honors he moved to New York City to be an intern on the Late Show with David Letterman which led to stints developing programming for Discovery Networks, MTV, MTV Animation and Klasky Csupo (producers of Nickelodeon’s Rugrats). Today he lives in Brooklyn, New York with his wife, Alison, and their son Finn. 
5 winners will receive a prize pack that contains an Undertow beach towel, beach bag, bookmark, a finished book.
US Only
(this is a blog tour wide giveaway and not run by Word Spelunking)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

FULL BLOG TOUR SCHEDULE
Week One:
4/27/2015- Melissa's Eclectic BookshelfInterview
4/28/2015Mom With A KindleInterview
4/29/2015Moonlight Gleam ReviewsBook Trailer Post
4/30/2015Word SpelunkingReview
5/1/2015Bewitched BookwormsBook Excerpt

Week Two:
5/4/2015For the Love of WordsReview
5/5/2015Novel Novice - Guest Post
5/6/2015The O.W.L.Review
5/7/2015- Library of a Book Witch- Review
5/8/2015Literary Meanderings  - Sneak Peek of Book 2 Post

All The Rage Blog Tour {review and giveaway}


I'm honored and thrilled to have the All The Rage Blog Tour stopping by today...


All The Rage
by Courtney Summers
4/15/15
St. Martin's Griffin
The sheriff’s son, Kellan Turner, is not the golden boy everyone thinks he is, and Romy Grey knows that for a fact. Because no one wants to believe a girl from the wrong side of town, the truth about him has cost her everything—friends, family, and her community. Branded a liar and bullied relentlessly by a group of kids she used to hang out with, Romy’s only refuge is the diner where she works outside of town. No one knows her name or her past there; she can finally be anonymous. But when a girl with ties to both Romy and Kellan goes missing after a party, and news of him assaulting another girl in a town close by gets out, Romy must decide whether she wants to fight or carry the burden of knowing more girls could get hurt if she doesn’t speak up. Nobody believed her the first time—and they certainly won’t now — but the cost of her silence might be more than she can bear. 

With a shocking conclusion and writing that will absolutely knock you out,All the Rage examines the shame and silence inflicted upon young women after an act of sexual violence, forcing us to ask ourselves: In a culture that refuses to protect its young girls, how can they survive?

Praise for All The Rage

The narrative never shies from its charged subject, and Summers (This Is Not a Test) portrays the unforgiving mind-set of Grebe's citizens with grim realism. Through its resolution is neither tidy nor simple, Romy's powerful story creates a space for change. (Publishers Weekly (starred review))

With a plot that will leave you breathless and characters that will sink into your heart and stay there, it is Summers' ability to take on a painful subject with both nuance and stinging clarity that is the devastating genius of this narrative. All the Rage is full-on astonishing--and will be critical to future conversations about young adult literature. (Adele Griffin, author of The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone)

Powerful and heartbreaking - Romy and her story will stay with you long after you've turned the last page. (Kody Keplinger, author of The DUFF (Designated Ugly Fat Friend))

There are good books. There are great books. And then there are books like All The Rage, which take a piece of your heart and won't let go. (Elizabeth Scott, author of Living Dead Girl)

Smart, brutal, heartbreaking--Courtney Summers is at her unflinching best. (Brenna Yovanoff, New York Times Bestselling author of The Replacement and Fiendish)

All The Rage is a visceral indictment of rape culture and its far-reaching consequences and Romy is an incredibly strong and compelling character. Her story should be shared with both our daughters and our sons. (Rachel Vincent, New York Times bestselling author of The Unbound series and The Stars Never Rise)

The kind of novel that breaks you apart, and doesn't care if it puts you back together again. It's a story about hard choices and about the tumult of being a teenager. Sharp writing shot through with a soft vein of sadness. Courtney Summers doesn't flinch, and neither should you. Read this book. (Chuck Wendig, author of Blackbirds and Mockingbird)



Romy Grey is raped by the beloved Kellan Turner, the sheriff's son, and when she tells this horrific truth, she is met with hostility, disbelief, and torment by her peers and community. This is not a spoiler or a surprise. If you read the blurb for All The Rage you can easily figure out that this is a book about rape and its aftermath...but, it’s also so much more.


Courtney Summers’ explosive and provocative All The Rage is aptly titled. This book will make you feel ALL the rage and every emotion imaginable. The writing in All The Rage isn’t beautiful, it isn’t lyrical or full of dazzling passages you want to drown in. It doesn’t need to be because this isn’t a beautiful story being told. Yet, Summers’ writing is utterly captivating and every sentence, every word weaves an immensely raw, honest, powerful story that is felt soul-deep. Summers creates such an emotional atmosphere that burns and aches so palpably. All The Rage has a disjointed and, at times, messy and even disconnected narrative, but this narrative works for the story and proves to be exceptionally effective.

The aftermath of Romy’s rape is, in many ways, catastrophic. Romy’s world is torn apart, she’s branded a liar and slut, and is endlessly bullied and tormented by her peers...this is where all the rage comes in. With every insult thrown Romy’s way and every moment of fear and panic experienced by her, readers will feel more and more enraged and heartbroken...which means the author did her job incredibly well. This is a book full of gritty, brutal, painful stuff and Summers lays it all out in gripping, thought-provoking ways.

One of the things I love best about All The Rage, is how very little page time is given to Kellan Turner, Romy’s rapist, because he doesn’t deserve it. We aren’t forced to hear his side of the story and he isn’t given complex character development in hopes that, while readers won’t like him, maybe we’ll understand his actions and see him as more than just a villain...he’s a monster, pure and simple, and we are allowed to hate him for it. But, on the flip side, we aren’t forced or manipulated to care for Romy simply because she is the victim. The story doesn’t ask us to like Romy or hate her former BFF, Penny, or blame the community or the inaction of Romy’s parents, etc. The story just wants to be heard, needs to be heard. As a character, Romy doesn’t need to be loved or praised or found interesting by readers, she just wants to be heard.

my final thoughts: This isn’t any easy book, it isn’t something you pick up for a few hours of pleasure reading, and it certainly won’t be for everyone...but, it is a powerful, unforgettable, important book that will definitely leave a mark upon readers. I found All The Rage impossible to put down and highly recommend it!

MY RATING
5/5 yummy cupcakes

Courtney Summers lives and writes in Canada, where she divides most of her time between a camera, a piano and a word processing program. She is also the author of What Goes Around, This is Not a Test, Fall for Anything, Some Girls Are, Cracked Up to Be, and Please Remain Calm. 
Win a new copy of All The Rage!
St. Martin's Press has generously offered one brand new copy for one winner.
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-ends 5/10
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Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The Mad Apprentice Blog Tour



I'm so excited to have The Mad Apprentice Blog Tour stopping by today...


The Mad Apprentice
(The Forbidden Library #2)
by Django Wexler
4/2/15
Penguin
When Alice's mysterious Uncle Geryon sends her to help capture a rogue apprentice--a boy who has the same ability Alice has to Read himself intostories--she knows to expect a wild and unpredictable trip. But even though Alice has visited the magical realms inside libraries before, this adventure is far more dangerous. Because Torment, the magic creature holding this library together, has gone mad.

But he might also have information about Alice's missing father.



The Forbidden Library (#1)
by Django Wexler
4/15/14
Penguin
Alice always thought fairy tales had happy endings. That--along with everything else--changed the day she met her first fairy

When Alice's father goes down in a shipwreck, she is sent to live with her uncle Geryon--an uncle she's never heard of and knows nothing about. He lives in an enormous manor with a massive library that is off-limits to Alice. But then she meets a talking cat. And even for a rule-follower, when a talking cat sneaks you into a forbidden library and introduces you to an arrogant boy who dares you to open a book, it's hard to resist. Especially if you're a reader to begin with. Soon Alice finds herself INSIDE the book, and the only way out is to defeat the creature imprisoned within.
It seems her uncle is more than he says he is. But then so is Alice.

Praise for The Forbidden Library Series

"Will gratify book lovers and fantasy experts alike." --The Horn Book

"Fans of Harry Potter and Cornelia Funke's Inkheart (2003) will relish that the library houses magical books . . . It's a joy to watch the dutiful Alice develop her innate curiosity and become a proactive, resourceful heroine, matching wits with snarky cats, dangerous beasts, and a certain smug boy. This is a charming, adventuresome fantasy from a promising new author." --Booklist

"Reminiscent of Cornelia Funke's Inkheart (Scholastic, 2003) and Neil Gaiman's Coraline (HarperCollins, 2002). Wexler ingeniously creates an inventive world with interesting creatures and frightening situations." --School Library Journal

"Wexler is an able builder of magical worlds and creatures, with labyrinths, an enchanted library, and a feisty, swashbuckling heroine at the center. A story rich in action and allegory—fantasy fans will want to hang on for what comes next."—Kirkus

"Full of action and adventure, this tale will enthrall fans of the first novel."—School Library Journal





What three words best describe The Mad Apprentice?
Dangerous, Heroic, Bittersweet.

Can you give us your best one sentence pitch to convince readers, especially reluctant readers, to give your The Forbidden Library Series a try?
The Forbidden Library is about a girl named Alice who has the power to go into books, fight monsters, and then use the powers of those monsters to help her; she uses this magic to search for his missing father with the aid of a talking cat.

Grab a copy of The Mad Apprentice and answer the following:
favorite chapter? I like Chapter 29 because the title let me sneak a Shakespeare reference into an MG book.  Chapter 19 is probably my favorite, though, because the characters stop to catch their breath and we learn a bit more about them.

favorite page? Page 129, where Torment (the master of the labyrinth, a giant wolf) threatens Alice, is a favorite.  I can just hear him roaring.  It's also where things start to go wrong!

favorite place/setting?  I like the tower of hands (where disembodied arms stretch out from the wall to snatch at Alice as she goes past) because it's super creepy!

flip to a random page and give us a 1-2 sentences teaser:
"It was like someone had taken a well-maintained park and rolled it into a tube, like a cigar.  It was obvious that the direction of down changed with the floor, since the shrubs halfway up the curve of the wall stood just as straight as the grass under Alice's feet."

Can you tell us a bit about your heroine, Alice? What makes her special and sets her apart from other middle-grade heroines?
In a weird way, it's that she doesn't really know what she's doing.  She doesn't have a wise mentor to tell her who the good guys and bad guys are -- or, more accurately, she has several, and they all disagree.  So she's picking her way through this strange world without much of a map, which makes her a bit more thoughtful and empathic, even for "bad guys".  It also makes her more like all of us in real life!

If you could Read yourself into any story, which would you choose? What would you do there?
It's a hard choice, because the stories I LIKE best usually aren't very safe!  I wouldn't want to be in A Game of Thrones, for example.  I'd probably choose a far-future story, like one of Iain Banks' Culture books, and then spend my time catching up on the thousands of years of stuff between then and now.  The trouble with the present is that you have to wait a long time to find out what happens next!

As a middle-grade author, why do you think MG is so important and popular?
For starters, because it's fun!  This seems really obvious, but when I was a kid a lot of the books I was given to read were real downers.  (I like to joke that it was all Newbery Award-winning books about dead dogs.)  Sometimes between then and now, people remembered that books should be fun -- not that they can be dark or scary (Mad Apprentice is both, I think) but that they should be exciting and adventurous as well.  Unsurprisingly, the rediscovery of fun pretty much corresponds with the wild popularity of MG books today!

Fill in the blanks:
I’m really awesome at Mario Kart?  I'm not really awesome, by world standards, but I played an awful lot of it.

I’m really embarrassed to admit I talk to my cats, and then make little voices for them so they can talk back.

The last great book I read was The Mechanical, by Ian Tregillis.  Just fantastic.

If you were to create and bake a cupcake inspired by The Mad Apprentice, what would it look and taste like and what would you call it?
I had to ask my girlfriend for help with this one, because I'm not a baker!  She suggested a dark chocolate cupcake inspired by the Swarmers, the little black kiwi birds that are the first thing Alice tames.  Each cupcake could have little eyes and a beak, so when you put them on a plate there's a swarm of them!

Thank you so much for stopping by, Django! That cupcake sounds awesome!!

Django Wexler graduated from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh with degrees in creative writing and computer science, and worked for the university in artificial intelligence research.  Eventually he migrated to Microsoft in Seattle, where he now lives with two cats and a teetering mountain of books.  When not writing, he wrangles computers, paints tiny soldiers, and plays games of all sorts.




The Stars of Summer Blog Tour


I'm thrilled to have The Stars of Summer Blog Tour stopping by today...

The Stars of Summer
(All Four Stars #2)
by Tara Dairman
5/5/15
Penguin
It’s not easy being an undercover restaurant critic—especially when you’re only twelve years old!

After successfully completing her first restaurant review for the New York Standard newspaper, Gladys Gatsby is looking forward to a quiet summer of cooking and eating. But her plans quickly go awry when her friend Charissa Bentley delivers Gladys’s birthday gift: a free summer at Camp Bentley.

As Gladys feared, camp life is not easy; she struggles to pass her swim test, can’t keep the other campers happy while planning lunches, and cannot seem to get away from the annoying new “celebrity” camper. The worst part is she’s not able to find a moment to sneak away for her latest reviewing assignment: finding the best hot dog in New York City. But when Gladys learns that her hot dog assignment might actually be a dirty trick made up by a jealous fellow critic, she fears her reviewing career could be over forever.

This perfectly plotted sequel brings readers on a rollicking summertime adventure through New York City with all of the charm of All Four Stars—and even more foodie flavor!


All Four Stars (#1)
by Tara Dairman
6/10/14
Penguin
Meet Gladys Gatsby: New York’s toughest restaurant critic. (Just don’t tell anyone that she’s in sixth grade.)

Gladys Gatsby has been cooking gourmet dishes since the age of seven, only her fast-food-loving parents have no idea! Now she’s eleven, and after a crème brûlée accident (just a small fire), Gladys is cut off from the kitchen (and her allowance). She’s devastated but soon finds just the right opportunity to pay her parents back when she’s mistakenly contacted to write a restaurant review for one of the largest newspapers in the world.
But in order to meet her deadline and keep her dream job, Gladys must cook her way into the heart of her sixth-grade archenemy and sneak into New York City—all while keeping her identity a secret! Easy as pie, right?

Praise for the All Four Stars Series

“Absolutely delicious storytelling! This is a delightful novel full of lively characters, beautiful language, humor, and creativity.”CHILDREN’S LITERATURE AND SPECIAL INTEREST GROUP/IRA

“This debut novel dishes up a descriptive story… Like comfort food, this story is homey and goes down easily.”
LIBRARY MEDIA CONNECTION

“A quest for an outstanding hot dog that blossoms into a family bonding experience, the real sense of understanding felt between old and new friends, plus plenty of humorous mishaps along the way should appeal to younger middle school students looking for a quick read during summer break. A truly entertaining story.VOYA

Hilarious.Though a sequel to All Four Stars (2014), this book stands on its own. The main characters are maturing and becoming multidimensional. The author delivers the subtle message that people are not always what they seem at first.Give this one to foodies as well as readers looking for a fun summer tale.
SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL

Last year, Tara Dairman wowed me with her deliciously fun middle-grade debut, All Four Stars...well, Dairman returns to Gladys’s world of food and fun in the summery sequel, The Stars of Summer.

Twelve year old foodie and inspiring chef, Gladys Gatsby has been able to keep a very big secret from her parents, friends, and the world: she writes restaurant reviews for a New York City newspaper. Gladys is excited to spend the summer cooking and continuing her food critic job, but her kinda-friend, the very popular Charissa, has other plans and gifts Gladys a summer at Camp Bentley. Soon Gladys finds herself taking swimming lessons with little kids, stuck in the dingy camp kitchen trying to introduce campers to real food, and avoiding the new camp “celebrity”. Plus, the newspaper gives Gladys the assignment of finding the best hot dog in the city, which proves to be harder than you’d think.

Tara Dairman has once again spun a sweet, charming story full of laughs, yummy food, and endearing characters. With pitch-perfect middle-grade writing, age appropriate humor, exciting settings, and a clever premise, The Stars of Summer will keep young readers entertained and enthralled from beginning to end. In this sequel, Gladys finds herself split between two worlds and two fun settings: Camp Bentley and sprawling NYC. Dairman authentically captures that summer camp life with Camp Bentley with its outdoorsy vibe, counselors and staff with larger than life personalities, and fun activities, while NYC is vividly brought to life through all its sights, sounds, smells, people, cultures, etc. Young readers will have a blast exploring both of these worlds with Gladys.

Dairman fills The Stars of Summer with a fun mix of young and adult characters. Gladys continues to be such a relatable, likable character, while Charissa and Sandy continue to surprise and charm me. We are introduced to some intriguing new characters as well. And of course, we can’t forget about one very important character: FOOD! Food and all its yummy gloriousness play such an important part in this book, and Dairman does such a wonderful job describing, capturing, and exploring all the kinds of food Gladys encounters. Young readers will be fascinated by all the new kinds of food they discover and be inspired to try new things, and maybe even try their hand at cooking.

My Final Thoughts: Sweet, determined Gladys and her ever-surprising adventures full of laughs, excitement, and relatable moments in The Stars of Summer, will delight readers and have them begging for more!


MY RATING
5/5 yummy cupcakes

Tara Dairman is the author of ALL FOUR STARS, which was named an Amazon Best Book of the Month and a Mighty Girl Top Book of 2014 for Teens and Tweens. She is also a playwright and recovering world traveler. She grew up in New York and received a B.A. in Creative Writing from Dartmouth College. After surviving the world's longest honeymoon (two years, seventy-four countries!), she now lives in Colorado with her husband and their trusty waffle iron.
author photo by Tiffany Crowder @ Crowded Studios: http://www.crowdedstudiosphoto.com/


In The Stars of Summer, Gladys goes in search of the best hot dog in NYC and discovers an amazing world of hot dogs! Tara asked us to share a favorite hot dog recipe and I just had to share this fun Double Stuffed Pizza Dog recipe video (there is no sound) I saw on Buzzfeed.com --