Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Teen Book Scene: Guest Post with W. Bruce Cameron

Introducing author of A Dog's Purpose, W. Bruce Cameron...

I’ve been a writer my whole life, but never have I ever written anything as important as A Dog’s Purpose.

I can’t promise you that A Dog’s Purpose will make you love your dog more—how could it do that? But I’ll tell you what a lot of people have told me: after reading A Dog’s Purpose, you’ll never look at your dog the same way again.
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Onto the guest post...

"His First Dog and Inspiration for A Dogs Purpose"

When I was eight years old, my parents would watch me go off to school each day hoping I would get lost on the way back. Well, not really, but looking back on it I can see just how exhausting I was for them. My father was just starting his career as a doctor and was working double shifts at the hospital. My mother had ignored my petition to remain an only child and had cranked out two sisters; Amy, who was five, and Julie, who was three. They were, as young parents often are, tired all the time, working all the time, questioning their choices all the time.

And then there was Bruce. What little energy my parents possessed went into trying to control and contain this creature they had brought into the world, the boy who did everything in the world at a dead run. If I wasn’t trying to climb into the clothes chute I was throwing rocks at the side of the house or spraying the hose at passing cars. I rolled hedge apples down the street and into traffic, occasioning a visit by the police department. I was just trouble, pure and simple.

They couldn’t afford boarding school so, in a burst of genius, they bought me a puppy.

I was in the back yard, trying to open a can of paint so I could permanently place my handprints on the back patio, when the gate swung open and my father walked in with a 10 week old puppy. It was a little black Labrador we named Cammie, and we ran to each other and rolled together in the grass.

From that moment on, Cammie and I were inseparable. Where I went, Cammie went, a true and real companion. I was so involved in the life of that dog that I didn’t have time to throw my sister’s shoes on the roof anymore, didn’t have time to do pudding art on the refrigerator. Cammie and I explored, and fought against imaginary invaders, and hunted for crocodiles.

She had this way of looking at me, sort of tilting her head.

Years and years later, I was riding my mountain bike in Colorado and I met a spotted dog along a dirt road. I love dogs, so I stopped to say hello, and the way the dog reacted—excited to see me, even overjoyed—and the way she tilted her head, made me feel as if I were meeting my old friend Cammie again after all these years.

It made me wonder, what if?

What if I had really just encountered Cammie, my best friend from boyhood? What if dogs never die, but rather are reborn, remembering their lives? What would that look like from the dog’s perspective?

That’s how I came up with the idea for A Dog’s Purpose, the story of a dog who is reincarnated. That dog, that day, gave me a real gift, and now I’ve shared that gift with the world.

This is the remarkable story of one endearing dog’s search for his purpose over the course of several lives. More than just another charming dog story, A Dog’s Purpose touches on the universal quest for an answer to life's most basic question: Why are we here?

Surprised to find himself reborn as a rambunctious golden-haired puppy after a tragically short life as a stray mutt, Bailey’s search for his new life’s meaning leads him into the loving arms of 8-year-old Ethan. During their countless adventures Bailey joyously discovers how to be a good dog.

But this life as a beloved family pet is not the end of Bailey’s journey. Reborn as a puppy yet again, Bailey wonders—will he ever find his purpose?

Heartwarming, insightful, and often laugh-out-loud funny, A Dog's Purpose is not only the emotional and hilarious story of a dog's many lives, but also a dog's-eye commentary on human relationships and the unbreakable bonds between man and man's best friend. This moving and beautifully crafted story teaches us that love never dies, that our true friends are always with us, and that every creature on earth is born with a purpose.
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Thanks to Bruce and Teen Book Scene!


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

There You'll Find Me by Jenny B. Jones

Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson (October 4, 2011)
ISBN-10: 1595545409
ISBN-13: 978-1595545404

In a small cottage house in rural Ireland, Finley discovers she can no longer outrun the past. When Finley travels to Ireland as a foreign exchange student, she hopes to create a new identity and get some answers from the God who took her brother away and seems to have left her high and dry.

But from the moment she boards the plane and sits by Beckett Rush, teen star of the hottest vampire flicks, nothing goes according to Finley's plan. When she gets too close to Beckett, a classmate goes on a mission to make sure Finley packs her bags, departs Ireland-and leaves Beckett alone.

Finley feels the pressure all around. As things start to fall apart, she begins to rely on a not-so-healthy method of taking control of her life. Finley tries to balance it all-disasters on the set of Beckett's new movie, the demands of school, and her growing romance with one actor who is not what he seems. Yet Finley is also not who she portrays to Beckett and her friends.

For the first time in her life, Finley must get honest with herself to get right with God.

Finley Sinclair is trying to outrun her not-so-distant reputation of being the party girl with a grief-stricken persona in disguise. When she follow's in her brother's footsteps and goes to Abbeyglen, Ireland for a student exchange program, she hopes to find a relaxing and invigorating town that has the essence of God--and her brother--that's she's been desperately looking for. Off to a rocky start right from the get-go, Finley encounters teen celebrity Beckett Rush not just on the plane but in the B and B her host family runs in Abbeyglen. Add to that a power-crazed, actress-wannabe, Catholic school girl and a project in a nursing home with a crabby old lady already destined to die, and Finley's stress level goes through the roof. Her search for her God gets cloudy and skewed when she is not ready to admit to imperfections that have been staring right in the face the entire time.

I have to say, right off the bat, I'm not one that likes to dote on Christian Fiction that often; if ever. Even when I started There You'll Find Me, I didn't know it had any elements of Christianity in it. Honestly, I was raised on this stuff since I was small but it still gets a kick out of shocking me every so often. I must break this review down into sections in order to explain cohesively how much this book affected me.

Characters: First off, we have Finley. Down-to-earth, heart-broken perfectionist Finley Sinclair. I felt so defensive whenever someone said one bad thing about this girl but she did an unhealthy amount of self-loathing that I just wanted to smack. In a way, this built her up to be the strong but vulnerable person she grew to be throughout There You'll Find Me. Beckett had his own flaws too, and at times I almost believed they were too flawed for each other. Beckett Rush was a conundrum waiting to confuse the heck out of me whenever he was in a scene. I loved his Irish accent and reassurances of his love for Finley, but I hated his corny lines and double life.

Plot: I have to begin with the romance. It truly starts from the very beginning and lasts till the very end. Like I mentioned before, both Finley and Beckett had so many unresolved issues that I almost believed it impossible for them to be together. But then the author inserts something the two have in common and that can no doubt help mend any rough patch they encounter, and that would be God in his almighty power. The other side plots that the author added to make this a whole story and not just a romantic tale, served their purpose in relying on the reader's sense of empathy and compassion. Mrs. Sweeney was a story on her own but I would have also liked to have seen more of a balance between that and Finley's passion for the violin.

Writing: I had no problems with the evenly-paced writing and the melodic tones instilled in the book. Honestly, if I had to guess, I'd say the book followed the flow Finley's composition for Will, her deceased brother. The short and sweet quotes in the beginning of each chapter really added to the book's appeal. Overall, it was the scenery described during Finley's stay in Ireland that took my breath away. I wanted nothing more than to see the beauty of Abbeyglen and its majestic ruins.

How unsuspecting this novel starts out to be...only to transform any opinion or expectation I had going into the book. I've never really experienced any other novel on such a soul-deep level before and it definitely captured my heart till the very last sentence.

Grade: A

e-galley Source: Netgalley


Monday, November 21, 2011

Teen Book Scene: Of Light and Darkness Character Interview

Introducing author of Of Light and Darkness, Shayne Leighton...

Shayne's first year out of high school (after meeting mentor, friend, and executive producer, Marcie Gorman), she penned, co-directed, and starred in the feature-length film, The Incubus a paranormal romance, which obtained distribution and opened in over fifteen theaters across South Florida among popular chains like Regal, AMC, and Cinemark. The Incubus has obtained a fan-base of over 60,000 girls online, and has garnered the attention of reporters from the Miami Herald, CBS News, and NPR Radio. Leighton also starred alongside Scream Queen, Tara Cardinal in the film, Legend of the Red Reaper. Now, 20-year-old Leighton is excited to release her debut young adult novel series, Of Light and Darkness, set in contemporary Prague as well as penning several other screenplays, a novel adaptation for Legend of the Red Reaper, an original pop/rock album, and acting in various film roles.

Onto Charlotte's Character Interview...

What was your first memory when you began living with Valek?

It's funny, but I have this really hazy memory of just walking around the house, being carried by his large hangs. I'm not sure how young I was. All I can recall, was that the house was dark, except for the golden glow of the kitchen light, and his hands were a little cold. But I do remember the distinct feeling of being safe. That might be the memory from the night he found me, and we entered our house for the first time together, but I was a baby...and who can remember that far back, anyway?

What were some of the reasons you liked staying with Valek and having his attention focused solely on you?

Well, Valek is my family. I couldn't imagine living anywhere else. He's the only family in this world that I have. But what's more, is that Valek is extremely attentive and protective. There's just something about the way that he looks at me. I guess I just love that secure feeling, knowing that he'll never leave me. We'll always be together and that I'm always safe. He's a bit distracted with so many vampires living in one space now, and I do miss that one on one attention from him.

How did you find out Valek was a vampire?

It was never really something I "found out". It was just something I've always known. I grew up from infancy with Valek as my guardian, so the surprise of what he was never really came. In fact, for the beginning years, I thought we were the exact same. What I did need to find out was that I wasn't like him. He let me know when I was about five years old how different we were, and then I understood as much as a five year old can understand. That's when, in the back of my mind, he became the slightest bit scary. Just the slightest.

What kept you from running away?

I never really wanted to run away. As I stated before, Valek is my family. I'd never want to leave that for anything. Valek is the one I treasure most in life and I couldn't imagine where I'd be without him. Of course, growing up, there was a couple of times when I threatened to run away, as any angst-ridden teenager does, I suppose. But they were all just empty threats.

What surprised you the most while you were living with a vampire?

Living with a Vampire, life lacks surprises. You begin to expect the unexpected. But I suppose the best answer to this question, was when I discovered the freezer-room in his office at the back of the house with all of his "left-over" meals. I had nightmares for weeks while he tried to explain to me that he would use the left-over human parts for the good of medicine. I just couldn't seem to get past the fact that...everyone in that room was just like me. The human. The meal. The prey.

When one human stands before an army of impossible obstacles, the likelihood of overcoming them in this coming-of-age modern fairytale may result in war between light and darkness.
Abandoned as an infant in Prague, naive and strong-willed Charlotte Ruzikova was raised by one of the last Vampires left alive. As a human, she knows no other home than the one nestled deep in the woods of Eastern Europe, where Witches drew spells of enchantment, Phasers threw tea parties, and Elves are the closest in kin. Charlotte has lived her life in the dark with her Guardian, content to having him to herself and reveling in his attention, until she's realizes she wants more...

Resident medical doctor and Vampire, Valek Ruzik fears the day his ward would come of age and blossom into a fine woman, and he is forced to confront his own motives as time is of the essence once his past catches up to him, and their lives become endangered...

As genocide and war threatens their secret society, the dictator in power is ready to wipe out Valek's race, but Charlotte will not allow that to happen. Fighting for the only one she's ever loved and truly believed in, she will do whatever it takes to save their love...before the sun comes up and light takes over.

Thanks to both Shayne and Teen Book Scene!


Friday, November 18, 2011

Kismet Tour: Why I Dance by Carol Tanzman

Introducing the author of dancergirl, Carol M. Tanzman...

Carol M. Tanzman's performing arts career is eclectic. She was a dancing poppy in a production of the Wizard of Oz that toured to the Soviet Union, an abstract chicken in a New England mime company, and the assistant director for a play in Germany where her major responsibility was making sure the sheep entered and exited on cue. She's directed regional and Off-Broadway productions of new plays, was the artistic director of a children’s theatre company in upstate NY and has been honored (twice!) by the Bravo Awards for her work with the Los Angeles Unified School District.

Her first YA novel, The Shadow Place, was on YALSA's Quick Pick List of Recommended Books, the National Council of Teachers of English ALAN List of Best Books, and the CA Collection for Middle & Senior High Schools.

Onto the guest post...

"Why I Dance"

There’s a scene in my new YA thriller, DANCERGIRL, in which Ali, the sixteen year old main character, tries to explain why she dances. After struggling with the question, she finally comes to understand her motivation, exclaiming, “This is why I dance!” But Ali’s reasons for dancing, and mine, are not the same.

Unlike other writers who’ve written a dance-themed book, I’ve never been a professional dancer. I did, however, take tap lessons when I was five. I adored those shiny, patent leather shoes with the metal taps on the soles. I learned the Time step, Shuffle Ball-Change, the Shim Sham. I was making noise—and it was fun!

Soon after, my family moved from NYC to the suburbs and—shades of Footloose––there were no dance lessons. One happy day, Miss Maria moved into the neighborhood and turned her basement into a studio. Mom agreed to let me take tap again. Seeing how much I loved it, Miss Maria gave me a “scholarship” so I could also start ballet. Just like when I was five, I was sort of good at it. More importantly, dancing was fun!

When the teacher got divorced and moved away, my “dance career” went with her. But the lessons I learned about rhythm and moving to the beat stayed.

In college I took Beginning Modern to satisfy the physical education requirement (a very good option). Once again, I loved being in class, loved the moment when I “got” the day’s combination and could just let it flow. The closest I came to any type of “professional” dancing was in the university’s production of The Wizard of Oz that toured to the Soviet Union. I was cast as a dancing poppy who “dances” Dorothy to sleep before she gets to the Emerald City. Performing in Moscow was a transformative experience. It showed me that the arts cross boundaries and countries and ideology, bringing people together in so many ways.

After college, I became a professional theatre director. I used dance, movement, and music in many of my productions as a way of exploring “total theatre.” I worked with tap dancers, dancers who studied modern at Alvin Ailey, mimes and new vaudevillians who used the body in exciting ways. Together we created unique pieces that we hoped would bridge the gap between spoken word and movement, that which is seen and heard, and that which is felt.

That’s why I dance. I dance because it feels great to move to the beat, not thinking, just being. I dance because dance communicates with all kinds of people on so many levels. And I dance because, like the five year old that’s still inside of me, it’s a whole lot of fun.

Ali Ruffino loves to dance. When her friend posts videos of her online and they go viral, she thinks her unexpected fame might propel her straight to center stage. But along with some real admirers she gets some nasty detractors—and a stalker who isn't content to watch from afar.

Contest Info: Carol and Harlequin are offering two give-aways for this tour!

1.) The first give-away is copy of dancergirl. Enter by leaving a comment on this Tour Stop (and then confirm that you left a comment via Rafflecopter)

2.)The second give-away is an iPod nano, skinned in the dancergirl artwork!
Simply enter via the Rafflecoper widget and get extra entries for tweeting (once per Tour Stop), following Carol on twitter,"Like" her on facebook, leaving your mailing address (for faster shipment of the prize) and for leaving a comment at each Tour Stops (one extra entry for each Tour Stop).
See full contest rules here.

Make sure to stop by the rest of the tour stops:
Monday, November 14th - The Unread Reader
Wednesday, November 16st - YA Liberian Tales
Friday, November 18rd - ChicaReader

Monday, November 21st - Musings of a Reader Happy
Wednesday, November 23th - Alice Marvels
Friday, November 25th - A Cupcake and A Latte

Monday, November 28th - Fire and Ice Reviews
Wednesday, November 30th - Books with Bite
Friday, December 2nd - Well Read Wife

Thanks to both Carol and Heather & Danny!


Monday, November 14, 2011

Teen Book Scene: Saving June's Jake This or That List

Introducing author of Saving June, Hannah Harrington...

Hannah Harrington resides in Michigan with one dog and too many cats. When she isn't busy writing like a crazy person, she enjoys arguing about politics, watching documentaries, playing guitar (very badly) and speaking about herself in the third person.

Onto the Jake's This or That List...

Fiction or Non-fiction?

Musical biographies are his favorite books.

Mystery or Horror?

Jake will never admit it, but he’s kind of a baby about horror movies. He loves watching true life crime shows, though!

James Patterson or Neil Gaiman?

Jake stole Good Omens from his brother one day when he was bored and ended up loving it.

Sweet or Sour candy?

Sour Patch Kids are Jake’s favorite!

Mac-n-cheese or Pasta?

Mac-n-cheese, because it’s a holdover from his childhood when he made it for himself all the time.

Comics or Manga?

I don’t think Jake is big into either but I bet he went through an X-Men loving phase in middle school.

Music or Movies?

Music, no question! Music > life for Jake.

Concert or Sports game?

Since he’s obsessed with music, it has to be concerts.

Texting or Calling?

Jake prefers calling to texting; he thinks texts are too impersonal. And he’s not the greatest with technology.

Hot summers or Cold winters?

Cold winters give him more reason to wear his leather jacket all the time!

Big city or Small town?

I think Jake would be happiest in a big city, where there all more people and things to do.

‘If she’d waited less than two weeks, she’d be June who died in June. But I guess my sister didn’t consider that.’

Harper Scott’s older sister has always been the perfect one so when June takes her own life a week before her high school graduation, sixteen-year-old Harper is devastated. Everyone’s sorry, but no one can explain why.

When her divorcing parents decide to split her sister’s ashes into his-and-her urns, Harper takes matters into her own hands. She’ll steal the ashes and drive cross-country with her best friend, Laney, to the one place June always dreamed of going California.

Enter Jake Tolan. He’s a boy with a bad attitude, a classic-rock obsession and nothing in common with Harper’s sister. But Jake had a connection with June, and when he insists on joining them, Harper’s just desperate enough to let him. With his alternately charming and infuriating demeanour and his belief that music can see you through anything, he might be exactly what she needs.

Except June wasn’t the only one hiding something. Jake’s keeping a secret that has the power to turn Harper’s life upside down again.
Thanks to Hannah and Teen Book Scene!


Saturday, November 12, 2011

Winner: The Pledge Swag

Factoids: 5 entrants



Thanks to the people who entered! I know the giveaway didn't have an ending date but I'm stopping it now because it hit a stag so I decided to cut it short.


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Teen Book Scene: The Sharp Time Playlist

Introducing the author of The Sharp Time, Mary O' Connell...

Mary O'Connell is a graduate of the University of Kansas and the Iowa's Writer's Workshop. Her stories have been published in literary magazines including The Sun and Mid-American Review. She teaches at the Lawrence Arts Center and lives in Lawrence, Kansas, with her husband and two children.

Onto the playlist...

I listened to The Clash obsessively while I was writing The Sharp Time. My main character’s mother was a Clash fanatic, who just so happened to name her daughter after the seminal Clash album Sandinista! My favorite song off this album,” The Street Parade”, has lyrics that were particularly meaningful and resonant to me as I was writing:

When I was waiting for your phone call
The one that never came
Like a man about to burst
I was dying of thirst

Though I will never fade
Or get lost in this daze
Though I will disappear
Into the street parade

It's not too hard to cry
In these crying times
I'll take a broken heart
And take it home in parts
But I will never fade

I was in this place
By the first church of the city
I saw tears on the face
The face of a visionary

Though I will disappear
To join the street parade
Disappear and fade
Into the street parade

I tried my best to bring a bit of the Clash—their punk rock aesthetic juxtaposed with Joe Strummer’s tender lyrics—to The Sharp Time. Here are some other songs I was listening to while I wrote.

Redemption Song—Bob Marley
Johnny Appleseed—Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros
Ring of Fire—Johnny Cash
Fight the Power—Public Enemy
Boys Don’t Cry—The Cure
Supernatural Superserious-- REM
Something Beautiful—Sinead O’Connor
William, It Was Really Nothing—The Smiths
The Man In the Corner Shop—The Jam
Children Go Where I send you—Nina Simone

There was something beautiful, something hopeful, in each of these songs that inspired me or pushed me forward when I was stuck in a scene. The iPod is my cure for Writer’s Block.

Rock on, and thanks so much for hosting me!

Sandinista Jones is a high school senior with a punk rock name and a broken heart. The death of her single mother has left Sandinista alone in the world, subject to the random vulnerability of everyday life. When the school system lets her down, her grief and instability intensify, and she ponders a violent act of revenge.

Still, in the midst of her crisis, she gets a job at The Pale Circus, a funky vintage clothing shop, and finds friendship and camaraderie with her coworker, a boy struggling with his own secrets.

Even as Sandinista sees the failures of those with power and authority, she's offered the chance to survive through the redemptive power of friendship. Now she must choose between faith and forgiveness or violence and vengeance.

Thanks to Mary and Teen Book Scene!


Sunday, November 6, 2011

I'm part of Panem now!

Thanks to Tynga for posting this on her blog! I'm part of District 12 just like Katniss. :) Here's the link where you can get your own District ID Pass!

Let me know in the comments what district you were assigned to.


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Winner: The Faerie Ring by Kiki Hamilton

Factoids: 24 entries and entrants!

Congrats goes to...

Stacy W.

I've sent you an email and await your reply. Thank you all for entering and showing your support for the novel!


The Pledge by Kimberly Derting Review and Swag Giveaway

Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books (November 15, 2011)
ISBN-10: 1442422017
ISBN-13: 978-1442422018

In the violent country of Ludania, the classes are strictly divided by the language they speak. The smallest transgression, like looking a member of a higher class in the eye while they are speaking their native tongue, results in immediate execution. Seventeen-year-old Charlaina has always been able to understand the languages of all classes, and she's spent her life trying to hide her secret. The only place she can really be free is the drug-fueled underground clubs where people go to shake off the oppressive rules of the world they live in. It's there that she meets a beautiful and mysterious boy named Max who speaks a language she's never heard before . . . and her secret is almost exposed.

Charlie is intensely attracted to Max, even though she can't be sure where his real loyalties lie. As the emergency drills give way to real crisis and the violence escalates, it becomes clear that Charlie is the key to something much bigger: her country's only chance for freedom from the terrible power of a deadly regime.

Everyone knows a smile is universal. When you can understand all the languages known to man, how is it that you incorporate smiling in your vocabulary? Kimberly Derting's The Pledge follows a working school girl with a unique talent living in a dystopian class system that's on the verge of its own societal apocalypse. The four sectors of Ludania's class system: Counsel, Vendor, Serving, Outcast, is all Charlie has ever known. She pledges everyday to a disembodied queen, a loyalty she blindly believes in to keep her safe. Thoughts and murmurs of the resistance and revolutionaries have been trickling down the grapevine. It's not until Charlie and Brook--Charlie's best friend--revisit a night club that is bound to close shop soon--for the night clubs can never stay long, not without being caught--that Charlie encounters her brief glimpse into the underground's underbelly. Even then she never quite suspected that all the secrets that's she's all her life would manifest into something completely unthinkable.

I'd have to give Derting points right off the bat for her originality and the whole premise of The Pledge. Creating this unique dystopian world took some imaginative doing and she definitely flexed that muscle. With only brief glimpses into the world as it used to be ordinarily, the things kept from "back then" is names of long-lost cities; Brooklyn, Charlie's friend's name. The writing and descriptive prose accentuated the novels rural and industrial cities and towns. It vividly painted the picture of all the places Charlie encounters and segments of other locations when the book was broken up by brief chapters with other narrators.

The main character's interactions with other friends could have been more profound but it did not fail to reveal some of Charlie's naivete and self-consciousness. The interactions enhanced her character and helped develop her to see the constructive views other had on what Ludania's downfall will be and process them to make her own opinion. The sparking romance between Max and Charlie was sweet to watch grow, reading about how they both tested each in their own subtle ways. Their connection was built upon their reactions toward one another, reactions that the other couldn't always visibly see.

The plot that carried the story line to its climax and unwinding was evenly paced and smoothly executed. The Pledge vowed to be about a dictator-ruled country divided by the languages they speak and how that determines their values as human beings. It delivered that way of thinking into a constituted reality reinforced by visible executions and constant security checks if anything were to attempt discord to the pledge.

Grade: B

ARC Source: S&S Galley Grab + Publicist


In order to enter to win some "Pledge" swag, just leave a comment below with your email address.