Friday, April 27, 2012

Author's Playlist-Spectral by Shannon Duffy

I asked Spectral author, Shannon Duffy, to share the playlist for the I love songs that fit books. You can find that below. Doesn't the novel sound great? I think the Witness Protection Program is interesting to begin with, so to learn you aren't actually in it when you thought you were? Curious!!

Breakaway~ Kelly Clarkson
Sparks Fly~ Taylor Swift
Beautiful eyes~ Taylor Swift
Whatever it takes~ Lifehouse
Skyscraper~ Demi Lovato
Your guardian angel~ The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus
Don’t you forget about me~ Enrique Iglesias
Wish you were here~ Avril Lavrigne
She’s a butterfly~ Martina Mcbride
Firework~ Katy Perry
Love you like a love song~ Selena Gomez
Just the way you are~ Bruno Mars
Unwritten~ Natasha Bedingfield

What do you think about the book and/or song picks?

Spectral Summary
Convinced she’s a part of the witness protection program, sixteen-year-old Jewel Rose is shuffled around the globe with her family like a pack of traveling gypsies. After arriving at lucky home twenty-seven, she stumbles upon a mysterious boy with magical powers claiming to be her guardian . . . and warning of imminent danger. Despite the obvious sparks between them, Jewel discovers a relationship is forbidden, and the more she learns about dark, brooding Roman, she begins to question who she can even believe — the family who raised her, or the supposed sworn protector who claims they’ve been lying to her all along.

As she struggles to uncover who her family has really been running from, she is forced to hide her birthmark that reveals who she is. With new realities surfacing, unexplained powers appearing, and two tempting boys vying for her heart, Jewel battles to learn who she can trust in an ever growing sea of lies, hoping she’ll make it through her seventeenth birthday alive.

Shannon Duffy's Bio:
Shannon Duffy writes young adult and middle grade fiction. She grew up on the beautiful east coast of Canada and now lives in Ontario, Canada. She is the mom of one boy, Gabriel, her angel. She loves writing, reading, working out, soccer, and the sport of champions-shopping. She is the author of the young adult paranormal romance, SPECTRAL. Her upcoming middle grade fantasy novel, GABRIEL STONE AND THE DIVINITY OF VALTA is scheduled for a January 2013 release.

For More Information or to Buy Spectral-
Shannon Duffy's Website:

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Review: Play Baby Play! By Marilyn Janovitz

Play Baby Play! by Marilyn Janovitz

Review by: Lauren

Copy from Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, All Opinions are Our Own (and I do not own any of the pictures in this post)

Review: This is a really fun board book for little kids. The baby (no name is given) is brought along to what seems to be a playdate with a group of other little kids. They kick balls, ride a wooden pony, and even play some drums. At the end of the day, baby is ready for nap time!

The whole book rhymes and makes it a fun read-aloud, especially with the repitition of words. For example, when the babies are drumming, the page ends with DRUM DRUM DRUM!

One of my favorite pages is where two little babies are looking at a book:

We like to hear a story
We like to read a book
There are lots of pictures

Each page has a fun, brightly-colored picture on the right side, with the words on the left side. However, there are a couple parts in the book where the picture spans both pages and the words are written on top. It makes a great book to show off to kids and for children that are a bit older, it would be fun to point out the toys that they recognize or play with themselves!

One of the things that I did like is that not all the babies look alike. They are black, asian, white, boys, girls. You get the idea. So it's a nice pick for pretty much anyone, even if the main baby (and the cover) depicts a white girl. It's also gender-neutral as well so you can pick up a copy now and save it for the arrival of a boy or girl!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Interview/Giveaway with Queer Greer Author, A.J. Walkley

Interview and Giveaway with author A.J. Walkley

By: Lauren

1. Greer is such a unique name. How did you come up with it?

I actually knew a girl named Greer back in summer camp when I was a kid. Funny story - she, too, was a swimmer and actually had webbed-toes! I didn't make my character have that quirk, but her name is Greer and she is a swimmer. I thought it was a pretty distinctive name. Plus, it rhymes with "queer" so, it worked well!

2. I think it's great when characters have a particular passion that comes across in the book. Are you a swimmer like Greer? Whether you are or not, is there a particular reason you made that Greer's hobby?

I am not a swimmer, though I was the captain of my ice hockey team back in high school. I loved being involved in a varsity sport and I have wonderful memories looking back on those days. You get a sense of camaraderie from a sports team you can't find many other places, especially in your teenage years. I thought it would be interesting to place Greer on a team, where she might feel that sense of belonging, at the same time that she was coming to terms with her identity and feeling like she didn't belong anywhere.

As far as choosing the swim team specifically, I personally felt I could have been a swimmer myself if I hadn't gotten into ice hockey and lacrosse (among other sports) first. I wanted to explore that sport with Greer.

3. The summary of the book states that Greer is coming to terms with her sexuality. If it doesn't spoil anything, did she have an idea she may like girls before the big move?

Well not to give anything away, but let's just say that Greer has had experiences with at least one girl in the past that she puts out of her mind until she's ready to confront her sexuality after moving to a new state and a new school.

4. Speaking of the move, does the state of Arizona play a large part in the book...and what inspired you to set the story here?

It's kind of ironic that I had Greer move to Arizona and wound up moving here myself some four years after I actually wroteQueer Greer. In the book, Greer's father decides he wants to become a coyote, helping people across the border from Mexico. There is background here - he has a very personal reason for chasing this bizarre dream that you'll find out when you read it. South Carolina is pretty far from Mexico to make that happen, which is why he moves the family to Arizona to be closer to the border. I simply chose Arizona for its proximity to Mexico.

5. What would you like people to know about the book that maybe the summary wouldn't tell them, or if it does, an aspect you really want to make clear?

I'd like potential readers to know that this is a story about more than a teen figuring out who they are attracted to - it's about family, societal assumptions and pressures, the pains of high school, and finding yourself when everyone around you is doing their best to make you into whatever they think you should be. I think it speaks to many aspects of growing up, sexuality aside.

6. What other LGBT novels are you a fan of or would recommend to readers?

I honestly wrote Queer Greer because I felt there was a true lacking of LGBT literature out there, especially for bisexuals. Recently I read Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult, which tackles the coming out process from an older perspective. I think it does a great job of commenting a lot of the legal implications and religiously-based discrimination surrounding LGBT people. I personally haven't found or read anything else recently that jumps out at me, but I'm open to suggestions!


To Enter: Leave a comment about something in the interview. Please make sure I can find your email should you win.

Open To: Everyone

Prize: a digital copy of Queer Greer, donated by the author

Ends: May 5, 2012

A.J. Walkley is the author of Queer Greer and Choice. She is currently writing her third novel, Vuto, inspired by her experience as a U.S. Peace Corps health volunteer in Malawi, Africa. Follow her on Twitter @AJWalkley and Facebook at

Link to buy Queer Greer:

Thursday, April 12, 2012

J.K. Rowling's New Book - Title and Release Date

I don't own this photo. If I actually did, you would never hear the end of me meeting J.K. Rowling. Alas, did not happen, so again, photo not mine.

I'm sure you all know by now but J.K. Rowling is working on her first adult book (and first post-Potter novel too of course) to be published by Little, Brown.

However, now the title and the release date have been announced and I'm so excited!!

Book: The Casual Vacancy

Out: September 27. Yeah, this year!! Can you say awesome?!

This is what the publisher posted about the book-

When Barry Fairweather dies unexpectedly in his early forties, the little town of Pagford is left in shock. Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty facade is a town at war. Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils…Pagford is not what it first seems. And the empty seat left by Barry on the parish council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen. Who will triumph in an election fraught with passion, duplicity and unexpected revelations?

I was on Tumblr, I believe, and someone pointed out the whole Harry and Barry thing. Too funny!! Didn't even think of that. At any rate, I really love adult books so I'm excited that J.K. is venturing into that age level, especially since the original kid fans of Harry Potter are now grown up, like myself! The publisher also says that the book is "blackly comic." NICE!!

What do you all think? Excited for the book? Not so much? Share your thoughts! 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Review: Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard

Guest review by Kari
Copy from Publisher, All Opinions are Our Own

            Wanderlove is about eighteen-year-old Bria Sandoval and her travels to Central America. Bria is your average high school graduate who wants to get out of Southern California and see the world. At first, Bria and her two best friends planned to go to Europe the summer after their senior year in high school, but they both bailed on her. Bria never thought about going to Central America until she saw a pamphlet advertising a group tour to Central America. Bria wants to prove to herself, and her ex-boyfriend, that she is capable of taking a risk and traveling, so she books the trip. This is the beginning of a life changing adventure.

            Not long after she gets to Guatemala, she discovers that her travel group is not what she expected. It’s a bunch of middle-aged men and women. Bria is determined to have a good time and to be the independent and adventurous girl she wants to be, so when she meets backpackers Skylar and Rowan, she jumps at the chance to leave her group behind and follow the siblings across Central America.

            Bria’s adventures and experiences with Rowan and Skylar help her realize who she really is. Wanderlove is a story about finding yourself and realizing that the past makes you who are today. Bria and Rowan learn about themselves and what it takes to be satisfied with their lives in the present and future.

            Wanderlove is a great book to read. You don’t have to be familiar with Central America to enjoy this book. It may be a good idea to learn a little geography, but Kirsten Hubbard does a great job at describing the landscape. Whether she’s describing the crowded Mayan marketplace or the waterfalls in the jungle, the reader will definitely feel like they are traveling alongside Bria.

One of the most unique aspects of the book is that the author uses her own artistic talent to draw pictures within the text. Bria is an artist trying to discover herself and it is great to see some of her artwork within the text. It makes the character feel more real. Kirsten does an amazing job creating these unique characters and she makes the reader fall in love with them.

Readers will enjoy this fast and exciting read. They will appreciate the culture and maybe even want to go backpacking themselves. And as to what wanderlove means, you’ll have to read to find out!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (8)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases people are excited for.

Title: Wrecked
Author: Anna Davies
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
Release Date: May 1


Secrets of the sea have never been sexier than this.

Ever since the death of her parents, Miranda has lived on Whym Island, taking comfort in the local folklore, which claims a mysterious sea witch controls the fate of all on the island and in its surrounding waters. Sometimes it’s just easier to believe things are out of your control.

But then a terrible boating accident takes the lives of several of her friends, and Miranda is rescued by a mysterious boy who haunts her dreams. Consumed by guilt from the accident, she finds refuge in late-night swims—and meets Christian, a boy who seems eerily familiar, but who is full of mystery: He won’t tell her where he is from, or why they can only meet at the beach. But Miranda falls for him anyway…and discovers that Christian’s secrets, though meant to protect her, may bring her nothing but harm.

Seductive and compelling, Wrecked brings a contemporary, paranormal twist to a classic enchanting tale.

Why I want it:

It just sounds amazing! It has to do with the ocean, a mysterious sea witch and a boy that can only meet her on the beach? Sign me up! I’m totally counting down the days until I can read it! Also, the cover is pretty hot.

What are you waiting on?


Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Make it a Gift: Baby's in Black by Arne Bellstorf + Song Pick

Baby's In Black: Astrid Kirchherr, Stuart Sutcliffe, and The Beatles by Arne Bellstorf

Review by: Lauren

Out: May 8, 2012

Copy from: First Second Publishing, All Opinions are My Own

Official Summary: Meet the Beatles . . . right at the beginning of their careers. This gorgeous, high-energy graphic novel is an intimate peek into the early years of the world’s greatest rock band.

The heart of Baby’s In Black is a love story. The “fifth Beatle,” Stuart Sutcliffe, falls in love with the beautiful Astrid Kirchherr when she recruits the Beatles for a sensational (and famous) photography session during their time in Hamburg. When the band returns to the UK, Sutcliffe quits, becomes engaged to Kirchherr, and stays in Hamburg. A year later, his meteoric career as a modern artist is cut short when he dies unexpectedly.

The book ends as it begins, with Astrid, alone and adrift; but with a note of hope: her life is incomparably richer and more directed thanks to her friendship with the Beatles and her love affair with Sutcliffe. This tender story is rendered in lush, romantic black-and-white artwork.

Review: I really enjoyed this graphic biography. I'd known about Stuart Sutcliffe being in The Beatles, but I was not aware of his love for Astrid, who he met in Germany when the band was just starting to get more notice. I didn't even realize that he died, which was a sad ending to the book...but this story is mainly about Astrid and how she relates to the band and to Stuart himself.

Bellstorf gives a nice look into how Astrid was just a normal girl, working in photography, whose friend begged her to go to a bar in order to see a band play. This happened to be The Beatles. Both Astrid and her friend, Klaus, got to know the band on a more personal level. Astrid was immediately attracted to Stuart, as was Stuart to Astrid.

This book is perfect for fans of The Beatles and wanting to get a deeper look into the "fifth" member, but it's not just for them. It is, after all, a love story. Astrid and Stuart fell madly in love, got engaged, and Stuart even moved in with Astrid and her mother. He focused more of his time on his paintings, getting into an art school in Germany, and living the life he really being in the band was really more of a favor to John Lennon, a good friend.

As stated in the summary, this book is done entirely in black and white drawings. I thought it worked really well though. The simple drawings and lack of colors draws your attention to what's happening within the story. You have to pay attention and feel the love and pain that Astrid and Stuart must go through. One of my only complaints about the style, though, is that it's often hard to distinguish the men from one another. You have Stuart, Klaus, and the rest of the band...and it took me awhile to realize how the drawings varied and be able to pinpoint who was who. It's not a huge annoyance though, and I still think the black/white works better for this type of story than color.

Thank you to First Second for allowing me the chance to read this novel. I would highly recommend it! It was great to get an insider's look into the lost Beatle and his great love...and don't worry, Astrid gave the author a lot of input, which I think is fantastic and makes the book even better!

Make it a Gift

All of the characters in Baby's In Black smoke...a lot. I'm not telling you to go out and buy a pack with the book, but you can get some candy cigarettes and make it a gift!! Old Time Candy sells 24 packs of these for only $5.99. I believe you can order less if you want though.

Song Pick

Normally with a book review, I'd have either a song pick or a make it a gift option. However, I have both for this book! My song pick is actually "Baby's in Black" by The Beatles. I looked it up and apparently the song is actually about Astrid after Stuart died, co-written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney (who were, of course, both in the band when Stuart and Astrid met and fell in love). At any rate, the book even mentions how black is Astrid's favorite it's fitting for a few reasons!