Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Interview with Katie Kennedy!

About the book:
Title: Learning to Swear in America
Author: Katie Kennedy
Release Date: July 5, 2016 
Publisher: Bloomsbury 

Brimming with humor and one-of-a-kind characters, this end-of-the world novel will grab hold of Andrew Smith and Rainbow Rowell fans.

An asteroid is hurtling toward Earth. A big, bad one. Yuri, a physicist prodigy from Russia, has been called to NASA as they calculate a plan to avoid disaster. He knows how to stop the asteroid: his research in antimatter will probably win him a Nobel prize--if there's ever another Nobel prize awarded. But Yuri's 17, and having a hard time making older, stodgy physicists listen to him. Then he meets Dovie, who lives like a normal teenager, oblivious to the impending doom. Being with her, on the adventures she plans when he's not at NASA, Yuri catches a glimpse of what it means to save the world and save a life worth living.

Prepare to laugh, cry, cringe, and have your mind burst open with questions of the universe.

Now let's get on to the interview! Brimming with humor and one-of-a-kind characters, this end-of-the world novel will grab hold of Andrew Smith and Rainbow Rowell fans.

An asteroid is hurtling toward Earth. A big, bad one. Yuri, a physicist prodigy from Russia, has been called to NASA as they calculate a plan to avoid disaster. He knows how to stop the asteroid: his research in antimatter will probably win him a Nobel prize--if there's ever another Nobel prize awarded. But Yuri's 17, and having a hard time making older, stodgy physicists listen to him. Then he meets Dovie, who lives like a normal teenager, oblivious to the impending doom. Being with her, on the adventures she plans when he's not at NASA, Yuri catches a glimpse of what it means to save the world and save a life worth living.

Prepare to laugh, cry, cringe, and have your mind burst open with questions of the universe.

Now let's get on to the interview!

  1. Why did you aspire to be a writer?
For me it’s about story, and the need to tell stories. I don’t need to wear black turtlenecks and haunt coffee shops, or whatever the popular perception of a writer is. But I do perceive the world in narrative form—stories are how I make sense of the world, and how I communicate. So writing novels is a natural outgrowth of that.

  1. Do you plan to write more books?
Yes! I have a second book set for release in 2017, also from Bloomsbury. It’s called WHAT GOES UP. It has different characters than LEARNING TO SWEAR IN AMERICA, but it’s also a contemp/sci fi mash up and is fairly similar in tone.

  1. What was your favorite part of the writing process?
I don’t like starting books, but there’s a sweet spot at about 70-100 pages when you realize you know your characters now, and with any luck you’ve figured out what your book is about. And then the drafting gets easier and maybe faster.

  1. Did you get to help design the book cover?
No, thank goodness! I would be the world’s worst cover artist, both for lack of artistry and lack of sense. My publisher was great about conferring with me, but the artist is entirely responsible for the cover—and did a great job!

  1. What was your favorite snack while writing the book?
I have developed an addiction to Hershey’s dark chocolate kisses. I have a bag hidden in my desk.

  1. Did you base any of the characters off people you know in real life, or off literary characters?
Yes. My MC, Yuri, bears some resemblance to the MC of the first book I wrote, which was an adult thriller. And Dovie’s parents are based on my aunt and uncle. They’re even wackier in real life! Oh, and the high school principal is real.

  1. What’s your favorite book?
That’s an impossible question! The answer to that will change constantly, but today it’s P.D. Eastman’s GO, DOG, GO!

  1. If you could have dinner with three favorite literary characters, who would you have dinner with?
I’d like to have dinner with Rapunzel, because she’s lonely, Oliver Twist, because he’s hungry, and Gandalf, because Gandalf.  

  1. Which character in a novel most resembles you, and why?
Probably Lennon from LEARNING TO SWEAR IN AMERICA, because he’s a real smart aleck.

  1. If there was a book about your life, what would it be called and why?


About the author:
Katie Kennedy
Katie Kennedy is a college history instructor. She used to teach in a fire station. When the alarm rang, the entire class jumped up and ran out of the room. She became an LPN in order to write more accurate medical scenes. She has been lost in Moscow, and rousted by the KGB for sitting in Red Square to eat her ice cream. She has been bitten by a fish.

Katie lives in Michigan's Upper Peninsula with her husband, daughter, and son, in a town with a million bats. LEARNING TO SWEAR IN AMERICA comes out July 5, 2016, from Bloomsbury.

1 fun swag pack, open INT!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Unplugged Blog Tour!

15751616Title: Unplugged
Author: Donna Freitas
Publisher: Harper Children's
Release Date: June 21, 2016
Genre: Science Fiction

The first book in a provocative new series from acclaimed author Donna Freitas-Feed for a new generation.
Humanity is split into the App World and the Real World-an extravagant virtual world for the wealthy and a dying physical world for the poor. Years ago, Skylar Cruz's family sent her to the App World for a chance at a better life.

Now Skye is a nobody, a virtual sixteen-year-old girl without any glamorous effects or expensive downloads to make her stand out in the App World. Yet none of that matters to Skye. All she wants is a chance to unplug and see her mother and sister again.
But when the borders between worlds suddenly close, Skye loses that chance. Desperate to reach her family, Skye risks everything to get back to the physical world. Once she arrives, however, she discovers a much larger, darker reality than the one she remembers.
In the tradition of M.T. Anderson's Feed and Scott Westerfeld's Uglies, Unplugged kicks off a thrilling and timely sci-fi series for teens from an award winning writer. 

There's something about science fiction novels that always get me excited. They're just so otherworldly and interesting to the point where I always get totally immersed in the world. Unplugged was absolutely in this same category!

The story follows a girl named Skye who lives in the App World. It's basically a virtual version of the real world, though everyone is pretty much the same. Skye has no idea what she looks like and hasn't seen her family since she was five years old. That's why she's always been looking forward to leaving for Service, which every child is allowed to do in the App World. It basically means that they are unplugged and are allowed to finally see the real world. However, all of this is thrown astray when the link between the App World and the Real World is broken. '

I think my most favorite part of this story was the world that Freitas created. An App World where basically only the rich live and thrive was extremely intriguing. There are many people there called Singles who are the only people in their family that are in the App World like Skye, too. Basically everyone can just buy apps that do absolutely anything. They could suddenly have longer legs or even have wings to fly. It was just so cool! 

Skye was a very interesting character. I especially liked how the reader learned more about her. Her family basically put her into the world when she was too young to really understand what was going on. They wanted a better life for her and became Keepers, which means that they are in charge of the plugs. I also really liked how Skye evolved as a character as the story went on. 

Unplugged was one of my most anticipated reads of the year and I honestly have to say that it did not let me down. I'm even more pumped that the book is the first in the series. I can't wait for book two!

Donna Freitas is the author of both fiction and nonfiction, and she lectures at universities across the United States on her work about college students, most recently at Colby, Pepperdine, Harvard, and Yale. Over the years, she has written for national newspapers and magazines, including The Wall Street JournalThe New York TimesThe Boston Globe, and The Washington Post, and she’s currently a non-resident research associate at the Center for Religion and Society at Notre Dame. Donna has been a professor at Boston University in the Department of Religion and also at Hofstra University in their Honors College.

In 2008, Donna published Sex and the Soul: Juggling Sexuality, Spirituality, Romance and Religion on America’s College Campuses with Oxford University Press, based on her national study about sex on campus. Her latest book is called The Happiness Effect: How Social Media is Driving a Generation to Appear Perfect at Any Cost (Oxford, October 2016), and it is based on her research for a new study about social media and how it is effecting the ways we construct identity and sense of self, how we make meaning in the world, and navigate our relationships during college. In 2014 and 2015, Freitas conducted approximately 200 in-person interviews with college students at thirteen different colleges and universities, and collected nearly1000 online surveys about these subjects. 

Donna is also the author of six novels for children and young adults, including The Survival Kit (FSG, 2011), named an ALA Best Books for Young Adults and the winner of the Bookstar Award in Switzerland, and This Gorgeous Game (FSG, 2010), also named an ALA Best Books for Young Adults, a winner of the CCBC Choice Award, and a Chicago Public Library Best of the Best winner. Her novel, The Possibilities of Sainthood (FSG, 2008), received five starred reviews and many accolades, including: an Indie Next Kids' List Great Read, Society of School Librarians International Book Award Honor Book, VOYA Top Shelf Fiction for Middle School Readers, and the Texas Lone Star Reading List. Donna has also published two middle grade companion novels with Scholastic, Gold Medal Summer (about a gymnast) and Gold Medal Winter (about an ice skater), which just won a CCBC Choice Award. In June, Unplugged the first novel in her sci-fi trilogy about two competing worlds, one real, one virtual, will be out in June from HarperTeen. She lives in Brooklyn.

LINKS: Website | Twitter | Facebook

Tour Schedule:

Week 2:

3 Finished Copies of UNPLUGGED (US Only)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, June 19, 2016

The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson | Review

Title: The Unexpected Everything
Author: Morgan Matson
Release Date: May 3, 2016
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Source: Netgalley

Andie had it all planned out.
When you are a politician's daughter who's pretty much raised yourself, you learn everything can be planned or spun, or both. Especially your future.
Important internship? Check.
Amazing friends? Check.
Guys? Check (as long as we're talking no more than three weeks).
But that was before the scandal. Before having to be in the same house with her dad. Before walking an insane number of dogs. That was before Clark and those few months that might change her whole life.
Because here's the thing-if everything's planned out, you can never find the unexpected.
And where's the fun in that?

**Thank you so much to the publisher for allowing me to read this in exchange for an honest review!**

Before picking up this book, I had never read a Morgan Matson novel. Sure, I've heard so many people rave about her wonderful novels, but I just never got around to finally picking one up. That all changed when I finally started reading The Unexpected Everything. 

The novel follows a girl named Andie who ends up staying home for the summer after her summer plans fell apart right before her very eyes. Now she walks dogs and ends up meeting Clark, who she happens to run into all the time. Before long, the two of them are falling for each other.
Andie was such a strong character. I loved how intelligent she was. She also wasn't afraid to speak her mind, which was wonderful. Clark was also very awesome. The romance between the two of them was spectacular. As a reader, I could tell that they were slowly falling for each other throughout the pages and I was honestly rooting for them until the very end. They really helped each other through tough situations and were just so adorable together. 

Another great thing about this book is that Clark was a writer himself. He wrote a super popular series in the world that Matson created which honestly just made me love him even more! 
I know for sure that I'll be picking up more of Matson's novels in the future. The Unexpected Everything was one novel that I know I'll never forget. 

Stacking the Shelves (100)

I haven't done a stacking the shelves in a while, so these are the books I got over the past few weeks!

For Review:
Unplugged by Donna Freitas
How to Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather

Thank you to Irish Banana Book Tours, HarperCollins, and Penguin Random House!

I received both of these books for tours.

What did you get this week?

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

2016 Debut Author Bash: Christian Heidicker

Hey everyone! Today I have an awesome post for you guys which features 2016 debut author Christian Heidicker. His book actually is released today! Here is a bit about Christian's book:

23656453Title: Cure for the Common Universe
Author: Christian McKay Heidicker
Release Date: June 14, 2016
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Sixteen-year-old Jaxon is being committed to video game rehab...
ten minutes after he met a girl. A living, breathing girl named Serena, who not only laughed at his jokes but actually kinda sorta seemed excited when she agreed to go out with him.
Jason's first date. Ever.
In rehab, he can't blast his way through galaxies to reach her. He can't slash through armies to kiss her sweet lips. Instead, he has just four days to earn one million points by learning real-life skills. And he'll do whatever it takes-lie, cheat, steal, even learn how to cross-stitch-in order to make it to his date.
If all else fails, Jaxon will have to bare his soul to the other teens in treatment, confront his mother's absence, and maybe admit that it's more than video games that stand in the way of a real connection.
Prepare to be cured. 


Without further ado, let's get on with the post! It's told in a series of emails. Christian's messages are green, mine are blue.


Krystianna! Pleasure to meet you. I love your blog. It's so splashy and full of nice lovely spaces in which to ruminate. I'm prepared to get downright dystopian with you. (That sounded like a threat; it was not.) Just lead the way.

Hi Christian!
Sorry for the late response as I've been pretty busy this week. Thanks so much for the compliment! I'm up for anything when it comes to our post. Did you have anything specific in mind?

That depends. Have you ever thrown a book across the room? Like, literally hurled it at a wall because you were so mad? If so, which one and why?

Yes actually. I threw Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins because I was upset that my favorite character was killed off. 

Rose was your favorite character?! That's rad. I've heard so many people complain that she wasn't present enough in the books to feel the impact of her death. I want to hear more about this. In retrospect did it seem like the right move on Collins' part? Or are you still angry? Any other books you've thrown?

I ask this question because someone shelved CURE FOR THE COMMON UNIVERSE under 'books-ive-thrown-across-the-room' on Goodreads. At first I was deflated. Then, after talking to friends, I realized, hey, at least she's feeling feelings. And in the end isn't that kind of my job? I mean, if I were in the business of making people feel all kittens and roses every day, then I'd work in an animal shelter or garden. (I guess in this instance, Collins was in the business of killing roses. Eh? Eh?)

This Goodreads reviewer had a specific grudge about CURE's ending. But here's the thing. She had read an ARC (advanced reading copy). I was in the unique position of having an extremely flexible editor who said he'd let me change it if I really wanted to. This left me wondering if I should try to appease this reader so my book wouldn't end up a fluttery mess in the corner of many homes. Or would it be wiser to stick to my guns?


Actually it was Finnick! I was pretty mad because he was such a unique character. I didn't want to say the character's name in the original email in case you hadn't read/watched Mockingjay, because I know that not everybody has. I actually didn't like Primrose that much, though it was upsetting because Katniss went into the games originally in place of Prim only for her to be killed off later on. I haven't thrown any other books (yet).

I guess it is good that the reader at least felt something. I mean, a book can be thrown for both good and bad reasons. Even though Finnick was killed off in Mockingjay, I love going back to the story just to read more about him. It didn't make me like the story any less, it just made me upset at the time. In fact, since I had such strong feelings from that book, it's become my favorite book of the series.

I don't think you should try to appease a specific reader. You should stick to your guns! At the end of the day, it is up to you to write what you feel is right. If you are proud of what you've written and feel that what happened in the story is what you wanted to happen, then I'd leave it exactly how it is!

I just read a whole bunch of Finnick memes, trying to refresh my memory. President Snow forced him to become a sex worker?! But he traded himself for secrets instead of money?! He wielded a trident?! Man, I read that book WAY too quickly. Now I'm upset about Finnick's death too . . . I'm going to try and refrain from throwing my computer across the room.

Yeah, sticking to guns is important. (Unless they're aimed at Finnick--mumblegrumble.) But I cannot begin to describe the temptation of swaying to the audience's desires. Alan Moore has this great quote. "Don't give them what they want. Give them what they need." When I read this, I was like, "THAT WILL BE ME FOREVER." This has been infinitely more difficult to accomplish than I imagined.

As an author, you work hard on bringing your characters to life. You hang out with them every day for YEARS. You ask them every question you can think of, especially the humiliating ones. And you get to know them as living breathing people. For someone to hate them . . . well, it's tough not to take it personally. (Although, in that reviewer's defense, I will say that my MC represents my more despicable teen years.)

So, it turned out Ms. Throwsalot wasn't the only dissatisfied reader. I started to notice a trend. A few people felt robbed by CURE's ending. I didn't want to lie to appease these readers just for appeasing's sake, but I realized I could offer more info. I went back and had a conversation with the offending character, and he (grudgingly) gave me a bit more information. (That is, I bounced ideas off of the character as he existed within the book, testing whether they felt genuine or not. Finally, something stuck.) I felt like I was still true to the story but that I wasn't obscuring any information. 

I ended up doing what no author should ever do and messaged any reviewers who had this particular grudge, providing those additional sentences. I was basically like a parent saying, "He's not such a bad kid! See? He, uh, he does good things . . . sometimes." They all responded, claiming those lines made all the difference, and they all changed their reviews. I'm really hoping they didn't do it out of guilt . . . My editor told me to stay away from Goodreads after that.

What I'd like now is to list all of the books I've thrown across the room, but I can't. I know way too many authors now, and I'm afraid I'll say something terrible, and they'll just happen to read this, and then I'll meet them some day, and my skin will crawl off of my body in shame. I used to have a nom de plume on Goodreads so I could go to town on everything I read, but now that feels disingenuous and backstabby. I will say I tend to throw books where authors don't follow their own rules or allow their characters to be stupid enough not to get themselves out of easy situations. How many times have you read something and thought, 'Duh. Just go to the cops.'? I suppose this is the difference between a book you throw because you care and a book you throw because you couldn't care less. We should probably come up with terms for each before this conversation is finished.

Finnick was quite the character... that's why I couldn't help but get mad!

I can definitely see why it's tempting to try to please the audience. That relates to a lot of decisions that people make in life... is it right to choose the path that you want or the path that others want you to take? I myself always like to try to please others, but as I've been growing up I've been doing my best to do the things that make me happy while also making people happy at the same time. I don't think it was a bad thing to add in some more lines as long as it made sense and I'm sure that those reviewers did not fix their reviews out of guilt. 

I hate it when characters do dumb things! Your reason for throwing book basically made me think of every horror movie ever. I'm that person that's constantly yelling at the screen even though I know the characters can't hear me. That's why I tend to stick to horror movie spoofs now instead of watching actual horror movies.

Regarding terms for caring and throwing a book, I immediately thought of candy bars. A candy bar that you like (for me, that would be Twix) and a candy bar that you don't like (I hate Butterfingers) would work perfectly. So a Twix could be a book I'd throw because I care while a book I throw because I couldn't care less could be a Butterfingers. I'm sure that there are better ideas out there but I'm a sucker for chocolates and candy!

That idea terrifies me! What if I take someone else's advice and end up ruining the ending? What if I make the character too sexist, or conversely, not realistic enough? In a broader sense, this is really about life choices. You're in more danger of having a boring life if it's dictated by others. At least if you make a decision and screw it up grandly then you get to learn from it. You'll do better next time. You'll HAVE to. It's way scarier putting yourself in a position where you take the blame for everything . . . but it also puts you in control. As Neil Gaiman said, "I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes. Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You're doing things you've never done before, and more importantly, you're Doing Something."

(We haven't reached total Gaiman quote saturation yet, have we? No? Okay, good.)

I assume you've seen Cabin in the Woods? If you haven't, stop what you're doing and watch it immediately. It's on Netflix, and it will make you feel better about every stupid decision a person in a horror movie has ever made.

I'm starting to get your candy bar analogy. You mean, like, Twix is so good you can't stop eating it, so you throw it because you have to get it away from you? But you don't like Butterfingers so they just . . . slip from your fingers, as if they were covered with . . . oh, I dunno . . . some slippery substance? Yeah, I'm hoping CURE is a Twix. People may have the opposite taste in candy though . . . and I'm hoping for higher stakes when people read this. So here's hoping my book's more boomerang than hand grenade.

I actually have not seen Cabin in the Woods! I'll have to check it out now, because my interest is piqued. 

That's exactly what I meant with my analogy! 

Let me know what you think. :)

Thanks for hosting me!


Thanks so much to Christian for being a pleasure to work with and thanks so much to you for taking the time to read this post! Don't forget to check out Christian's book as well as his social media links down below!

Christian's social media links: 

Friday, June 10, 2016

Places No One Knows by Brenna Yovanoff | Review

26067507Title: Places No One Knows
Author: Brenna Yovanoff
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Release Date: May 17, 2016
Source: Publisher

For fans of Lauren Oliver and E. Lockhart, here is a dreamy love story set in the dark halls of contemporary high school, from New York Times bestselling author Brenna Yovanoff.
Waverly Camdenmar spends  her nights running until she can't even think. Then the sun comes up, life goes on, and Waverly goes back to her perfectly hateful best friend, her perfectly dull class, and the tiny, nagging suspicion that there's more to life than student council and GPAs.
Marshall Holt is a loser. He drinks on school nights and gets stoned in the park. He is at risk of not graduating, he does not care, he is no one. He is not even close to being in Waverly's world.
But then one night Waverly falls asleep and dreams herself into Marshall's bedroom-and when the sun comes up, nothing in her life can ever be the same. In Waverly's dreams, the rules have changed. But in her days, she'll have to decide if it's worth losing everything for a boy who barely exists. 

**Thank you so much to the publisher for allowing me to read this in exchange for an honest review!**

As soon as I heard about this book, I knew that I'd have to check it out because I read and loved Brenna Yovanoff's The Replacement in the past. It was the perfect twist of confusing and contemporary, just like Places No One Knows. 

The story follows Waverly who is one of the more popular girls in school along with her best friend. The thing is, Waverly is too smart to be part of the popular crowd. She knows how messed up and dumb it can be, yet she stays a part of it just for fun. She just goes along with whatever her best friend tells her to do. However, that all starts to change after she meets Marshall who is one of the people that Waverly never thought she'd ever talk to. He drinks all the time and doesn't try hard in school. Yet, as the two hang out a lot, things begin to change. 

I really liked Waverly as a character. She was interesting because even though she was really popular, she was super smart and saw through a lot of what people were doing. I also just liked the way that she handled herself on a day to day basis. I didn't like Marshall at first, though the more that I got to know him, the more I liked him. He was going through a lot in his life which just made me appreciate him as a character more. He also began to change a lot through the book which was very wonderful to see. 

I know that a lot of people might finish this book and say that it's confusing, which it definitely was at times. I think that's just part of Brenna Yovanoff's signature. You get confused but you're still so intrigued so the book is still amazing because the concept is kind of hard to wrap your head around. However, I'm here to tell you that this book is still worth reading despite that. The characters are just so interesting and lovable that you won't want to put the book down. Plus, the writing was impeccable. 

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Golem by Lorenzo Ceccotti | Review

29369109Title: Golem
Author: Lorenzo Ceccotti
Publisher: Magnetic Press
Release Date: July 12, 2016
Source: Netgalley

Set in a future, post-Eurozone Italy, entrenched in a culture of hyper-capitalism, GOLEM follows young Steno Critone as he is kidnapped during a political protest gone sour. Taken in by the band of labeled "terrorists," he learns that things are not as they seem in society, and that he has the power to not only change the city, but reality itself.
This intensely imaginative political-sci-fi graphic novel is a visual tour de force, created by contemporary design icon Lorenzo Ceccotti, better known as LRNZ, whose design-influenced illustration provides a lush, fluid backdrop of manga-like dynamism with the cinematic scope of western comics, creating a style that is wholly unique and absolutely breathtaking. 

**Thanks so much to the publisher for allowing me to read this in exchange for an honest review!**

Ever since last year, I've been the biggest fan of graphic novels. Of course, that's what drew me into Golem. 

Golem follows a young boy named Steno who is good friends with a girl named Rosabella, whose father is very important. The society that Steno lives in is overly capitalistic as it is a futuristic Italy. One day, during a terrorist attack, Rosabella's car is getting attacked and her father tells her to escape and hide. She does that but Steno sees her run by and follows her, which leads to him being taken by the terrorists. Before long, he begins to see the world differently. 

The artwork in Golem was absolutely outstanding. As far as artwork in graphic novels goes, this artwork was literally my favorite by far. It was so beautiful and breathtaking. There was so much detail on every single page and it just added to the storyline so much. 

I also really liked the world that was created in this book. It's scary because honestly it seems like the world is getting pretty capitalistic, especially with so many advertisements getting thrown at us all the time no matter what we are doing. Another great thing about this book is that it took place in Italy. I've never actually read a book that takes place there! I know for sure that I'll be recommending this book to others!

Monday, June 6, 2016

Interview with Jeff Garvin & GIVEAWAY!

Hey guys! Today I'm hosting the awesome Jeff Garvin for part of the 2016 Debut Authors Bash. 
Here's a bit about Jeff's debut, Symptoms of Being Human. 

22692740Title: Symptoms of Being Human
Author: Jeff Garvin
Release Date: February 2, 2016
Publisher: Balzer + Bray

The first thing you're going to want to know about me is: Am I a boy, or am I a girl?
Riley Cavanaugh is many things: Punk rock. Snarky. Rebellious. And gender fluid. Some days Riley identifies as a boy, and others as a girl. The thing is... Riley isn't exactly out yet. And between starting a new school and having a congressman father running for reelection in uber-conservative Orange County, the pressure-media and otherwise-is building up in Riley's so-called "normal" life.
On the advice of a therapist, Riley starts an anonymous blog to vent those pent-up feelings and tell the truth of what it's REALLY like to be a gender fluid teenager. But just as Riley's starting to settle in at school-even developing feelings for a mysterious outcast-the blog goes viral, and an unnamed commenter discovers Riley's real identity, threatening exposure. Riley must make a choice: walk away from what the blog has created-a lifeline, new friends, a cause to believe in-or stand up, come out, and risk everything. 

Now, onto the interview!

1. When did you decide you wanted to write books?

“Author” was always on my “things I want to be when I grow up” list; I wrote short stories and poetry in high school, screenplays in college, then lyrics (and melodies) in my band, 7k. But touring became hard on my life, so in early 2011, I retired from the band-on-a-bus life. However, my artistic pilot light was still burning bright, and I knew I wanted a creative life—so I revisited my list and decided to try my hand at writing books. I started with NaNoWriMo, then wrote two other full-length manuscripts before Symptoms of Being Human came along.

2. What is the writing process like for you? Did you plan out your novel before you started or did you just see where your writing took you? 

It happens like this (at least, it does so far): I have an idea for a story. I poke around, make random notes, do a little research, see what’s out there. I’m simultaneously developing the story, testing it to see if it might support the weight of a novel, and checking to see whether it might find a place on bookstore shelves. Then, at some point, I abandon all that and type “CHAPTER 1.” Characters appear and proceed to make a mockery of all my plans. I watch them and write down what they do. I try to finish a first draft in 90-120 days, then let it sit for a few weeks, then dive back and see what kind of mess I’ve made. Usually, it’s quite big and tangled.

3. If you could have a meal with one book character of your choosing, who would you choose and why?

Albus Dumbledore. I could use some of his advice and reassurance just about now. Also, I’m dying to know if they make vegan lemon drops.

4. What are your thoughts on book to movie adaptations? 

I love them. I think of stories as living, fluid things. Books are one window to look at a story. Movies are another. They can be as different as a photograph and an x-ray of the same arm. For maximum enjoyment, it’s best not to compare them too much.

5. Did you have a favorite snack that you munched on while you were writing? 

I’m fond of apples with almond butter. Or, just almond butter on a spoon if I’m too lazy to cut up an apple. There’s a store two towns over where you can grind it fresh. It’s amazing.

6. If you could choose three songs to describe your new book, what three songs would you choose and why? 

“Rebel, Rebel” by David Bowie. Bowie was a gender-norm smashing musical pioneer, and the lyrics of that particular song fit Riley’s journey beautifully.

“Where is My Mind?” by the Pixies is among my favorite songs of all time. That searing, eerie guitar lick at the top, the droning, incessant bass, the smack-smack-THUMP beat…it captures something deep and indescribable about the isolation of being a teenager.

“Transgender Dysphoria Blues” by Against Me! Because Laura Jane Grace sings those brilliant lyrics with such tenderness and rage. She really helped me get a grip on the displacing, alienating force that is dysphoria.

7. Who was your favorite character to write and why? 

Solo. He just showed up in chapter two and made me laugh and smile and like myself better. Also, he starts out with some fairly typical views about gender identity that seem harmless at first but demand reconsideration when things start to get serious. I’m proud of how he responds. It was a surprise during the writing, and it made me love him even more.

8. Will you be writing more books in the future? 

Absolutely. I’m currently working on my next contemporary YA novel (coming sometime in 2018) and I have a stable of ideas competing for the book after that. I’ve enjoyed quite a variety of careers, but writing novels seems to be the one that makes my heart sing the loudest.

About Jeff Garvin: 
Jeff GarvinJeff Garvin grew up in Orange County, California, the son of a banker and a magician. He started acting in high school, and enjoyed a fifteen-year career including guest-starring roles in network television series ranging from The Wonder Years to Roseanne to Caroline and the City, as well as several independent features.

While studying at Chapman University, Jeff won awards for classical guitar and visual storytelling before graduating with a BFA in Film. As the front man of his rock band, 7k, Garvin released three albums and toured the United States. When the band dissolved in 2011, Jeff, who had always written short stories and lyrics, found his passion in full-length fiction.

His debut novel, SYMPTOMS OF BEING HUMAN, tells the story of Riley, a 16-year-old gender fluid teen who starts an anonymous blog to deal with hostility from classmates and tension at home. But when the blog goes viral, a storm of media attention threatens Riley’s anonymity. Coming February 2, 2016 from Balzer + Bray / HarperCollins.

Jeff lives in Southern California with his music teacher wife, their menagerie, and a respectable collection of books and guitars.

Find Jeff on Twitter, his website, and Goodreads!

Don't forget to enter this awesome giveaway!

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Ivory and Bone Blog Tour

Ivory and Bone (Ivory and Bone #1)
by Julie Eshbaugh
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: June 7th 2016
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Romance, Retellings, Fiction

A prehistoric fantasy—with allusions to Pride and Prejudice.
Hunting, gathering, and keeping his family safe—that’s the life seventeen-year-old Kol knows. Then bold, enigmatic Mya arrives from the south with her family, and Kol is captivated. He wants her to like and trust him, but any hopes of impressing her are ruined when he makes a careless—and nearly grave—mistake. However, there’s something more to Mya’s cool disdain…a history wrought with loss that comes to light when another clan arrives. With them is Lo, an enemy from Mya’s past who Mya swears has ulterior motives.
As Kol gets to know Lo, tensions between Mya and Lo escalate until violence erupts. Faced with shattering losses, Kol is forced to question every person he’s trusted. One thing is for sure: this was a war that Mya or Lo—Kol doesn’t know which—had been planning all along.

Ivory and Bone was one of my most anticipated releases of 2016 and I definitely was not disappointed!

The novel takes place way back in the prehistoric age of clans. Kol is part of one of these clans, though his is wondering if perhaps it's time to start moving because they are running low on food.  His mother is also pushing him to find a wife. However, one day Kol meets Mya, and the story really picks up from there, even though Mya starts off hating Kol!

I thought I'd begin with why I really wanted to check this book out. Well, the main reason was that it took place in an era that I never really read about! I've never walked into a bookstore and found a fictional novel that takes place during the prehistoric age with clans that also featured romance. I mean, come on! It's such a unique and intriguing premise, isn't it?!

I loved Kol and Mya as characters and definitely got the Pride and Prejudice vibes, which was awesome, especially having just learned so much about Pride and Prejudice in one of my classes at school. I feel like most of the story revolves only around their relationship though, so it was kind of like a prehistoric romance. If you've not read Pride and Prejudice, that's completely okay! I think this story will be enjoyable for everyone.

One of the coolest things about this book is that it's part of a duology. I've never actually read a duology, though I know for sure that I'll be checking out the second book after that ending!


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Follow the Ivory And Bone by Julie Eshbaugh Blog Tour and don't miss anything! Click on the banner to see the tour schedule.

Julie Eshbaugh is the author of the upcoming Ivory and Bone (HarperCollins, 2016). She used to have trouble staying in one spot, having lived in places as varied as Utah, France, and New York City. Julie eventually returned home to the Philadelphia area, where she now lives with her husband, son, cat and dog. Her favorite moments are when the unexpected happens and she cheers loudest when the pitcher gets a hit.

Also, check out this other awesome giveaway!
Everyone who pre-orders the book before June 7, 2016 and submits a valid proof of purchase will receive the Pre-Order Gift as a THANK YOU from me! (You will also receive my appreciation and affection!!!) This gift is for ALL PRE-ORDERS--print and e-book--international included!
In addition to the Pre-Order Gift, everyone who pre-orders will be entered to win a PRIZE!!! There will be THREE levels of prizes:
  • FIVE Second-Place Prizes,
  • FIVE First-Place Prizes, and
The prizes include tote bags, posters, and even an American Express gift card worth at least $60 US dollars! (The value of the gift card has been increasing as the number of pre-orders increases.)
For all the details on the Pre-order Gift and Giveaway, please visit http://www.julieeshbaugh.com/preorder-gift/.