Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Teen Author Boot Camp (Guest Post + Giveaway)

Today, co-founder of Writers Cubed, Margie Jordan, is here to talk about a really cool opportunity for teen writers far and near. Check out what she has to say below!
There is a famous line from a movie that says, “I was always a band geek. I just never joined the band.” I could relate. When I was in high school I was a president of the dance team, a singer in the choir, a hang-out-with-my-boyfriend-until-mom-and-dad-forced-me-home kind of person. But in my heart, I was a writer. This is why I tell people all the time, “I was always a writer. I just always hated English.”
Because I was a closet writer, I didn’t have anyone to bounce ideas off of, no one to tell me when I stank, no one to teach me how to craft a really great story. My teachers were the millions of books I read (not in a closet—but hidden away when my friends were around).  And I WISHED I could have had someone to talk to about my hidden obsession.
If this sounds like you…. Then I’m happy to say there is a solution.
The Teen Author Boot Camp, founded by the Utah-based group Writers Cubed and sponsored by Utah Valley University is one of only a few writing conferences nationwide geared solely for teenagers who have a love for the written word.  For the first time ever, Writers Cubed is offering the conference to anyone who wants to attend through Live Stream.
Interested? Here are the deets!

When: Saturday, March 16, 2013
From: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (MST)
Where: Worldwide via the internet
Who: Teens, teachers, librarians, book lovers
Cost: $4.99 for the Live Broadcast; $9.99 for the All Pass

The keynote address by Newbery Honor Winning Author Shannon Hale will be free for anyone to watch. It will be on March, 16th, 2013 at 9 a.m. MST. A subscription to the Live Broadcast costs $4.99 and includes the following:
9 a.m. to 9:15 a.m.—Writers Cubed: Welcome
9:15 a.m. to 9:55 a.m.—Keynote by Newbery Honor winner Shannon Hale (Princess Academy)
10 a.m to 10:45 a.m.—Tyler Whitesides (Janitors)  Class: Imagine and Create. 
10:55 a.m. to 11:40 a.m.—Janette Rallison (My Fair Godmother)  Class: Bad dialogue can kill a story.
12:50 a.m. to 1:35 p.m.—NYT bestseller Kiersten White (Paranormalcy)  Class: Plot Like a Villain.
1:45 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.—J. Scott Savage (Farworld)  Class: Finding Your Voice.
2:50 p.m. to 3:25 p.m.—Journey to Publication Panel:      Agent Amy Jameson & authors Chad Morris, Tess Hilmo, J. Scott Savage, Cindy Bennett
3:35 p.m. to 4:20 p.m.—NYT bestseller Aprilynne Pike (Wings)   Class: World-building is the invisible foundation to your book.
4:30 p.m. to 4:45 p.m.—Writers Cubed: Winner of the First Chapter Contest and closing remarks.
If you just can’t get enough of TABC, there is also an All Pass Subscription to the rest of the conference (including more than fifteen awesome presentations, including mine--haha). That only costs $9.99 and, as if it wasn’t a sweet enough deal already, you can watch the whole conference whenever you want for an entire year.
To register to watch Shannon Hale’s Keynote for free, visit and click on Livestream. It only takes a minute. While you’re there, check out the other presenters who will be teaching at the conference under the tab “Drill Sergeants.”
Stay tuned for details on how to win a subscription to the TABC Live Broadcast for FREE on this blog!
Margie Jordan is a co-founder of Writers Cubed, a group of Utah writing activists who created the Teen Author Boot Camp in 2010. In her spare time, like when she isn’t writing, she is a Literacy specialist for her local school district. Please visit her website at

Enter the contest below for a chance to win a free subscription to the Teen Author Boot Camp Live Broadcast. (Value $4.99) If the winner decides he or she would like to upgrade to the All-Pass subscription, then they will receive a $5 off coupon to go towards the cost of an all-pass (normally $10). And, good news, since this content doesn’t require shipping, I’m happy to announce that it’s INTERNATIONAL! Winner must respond to winner email within 48 hours.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Review: Altered by Jennifer Rush

Published: January 1st, 2013 (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)
Pages: 336

Rating: 5/5
When you can’t trust yourself, who can you believe?

Everything about Anna’s life is a secret. Her father works for the Branch at the helm of its latest project: monitoring and administering treatments to the four genetically altered boys in the lab below their farmhouse. There’s Nick, Cas, Trev . . . and Sam, who’s stolen Anna’s heart. When the Branch decides it’s time to take the boys, Sam stages an escape, killing the agents sent to retrieve them.

Anna is torn between following Sam or staying behind in the safety of her everyday life. But her father pushes her to flee, making Sam promise to keep her away from the Branch, at all costs. There’s just one problem. Sam and the boys don’t remember anything before living in the lab—not even their true identities.

Now on the run, Anna soon discovers that she and Sam are connected in more ways than either of them expected. And if they’re both going to survive, they must piece together the clues of their past before the Branch catches up to them and steals it all away. [Description from Goodreads]
Um, wow.
I totally…I can’t even… *gives up on being coherent, runs off*
*comes back*
Loved it. I loved it. Absolutely and completely. And I really want more, NOW.
Anna’s always helped her Dad unquestionably with the project taking place in the basement. His work. The four genetically-altered boys. She’s never wondered why they’re there, or how they got there, or how long they’ll be there. They’ve always lived in her basement, and as far as she’s concerned, they always will. Sam {insert Anna’s dreamy sigh here}, Nick, Trev, and Cas. Her boys.
Until one day. The day the big guys, Riley and Connor, come from the Branch. The day the boys break out. The day her life changes.
 Realizing she’s been living a lie, Anna leaves home on a whirlwind road trip/adventure with the boys as they uncover their forgotten pasts. Little does she know that she’s more a part of this than she ever could have imagined.
Let me just say that Altered will most likely be one of the best YA novels of 2013. At least on my list, that is. The action is non-stop, in your face, shocking. In fact, the action is almost too much. Almost. The romance was less than I expected, but I wasn’t sorely disappointed. Which leads me to what did disappoint me…
Throughout the whole book, Anna pined for Sam. Just like she always had. But gosh, she really pined for him. No matter what; no matter if he was completely indifferent (he was) or if he was as romantic as a stone statue (most of the time he was) or if he didn’t reciprocate her undying affections in the least (he didn’t). He could have violently killed all the joy in her life and she still would have run after him like a lost puppy. I think the term is needy. Girls, please avoid ever being like this.
Also, I would have liked to see Sam be a little more emotional. He seemed very…stiff. Protective, yes. Bold, yes. Expressive? No.
*sigh* Ok, so I might have gotten a little, teensy bit tired of Anna. And I might have wished Sam could be more outwardly expressive. But man, otherwise? I was totally obsessed. This is not one you want to miss. I liked it enough to want to buy one to keep on my shelf. I liked it enough that I’m already dreaming of the day it becomes a movie (though I do that with a lot of books). I liked it enough that I wish I could make this review five hundred words longer just so I could continue gushing about it. But alas, I think you get my point.
P.S. - Um, that cover? I totally had to lay the book facedown wherever I went to avoid getting those funny stares. “No, it’s not like that! It’s not one of those books! It’s actually pretty good!”
Quick Content Review: *may contain spoilers*
Language: Heavy (a variety of words, ranging from the “d” word to the “f” word, scattered throughout the book, mainly coming from Nick…)
Violence: Heavy (lots of shooting, blood, etc. Very descriptive.)
Sexual: Mild (some kissing; the boys run around shirtless pretty often)

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Book Blast: Forever My Girl by Heidi McLaughlin

Forever My Girl
I was never supposed to be a rock star. I had my life all planned out for me. Play football in college. Go to the NFL. Marry my high school sweetheart and live happily ever after.

I broke both our hearts that day when I told her I was leaving. I was young. I made the right decision for me, but the wrong decision for us. I’ve poured my soul into my music, but I’ve never forgotten her. Her smell, her smile.
And now I’m going back. After ten years. I hope I can explain that after all this time. I still want her to be my forever girl.

USA Today Best Selling Novel
"Seeing both sides of the story helped connect me to both main characters and given the complicated situation they were in, it was really well done."
"I enjoyed reading this book and I finished it in one sitting ."
"Loved this book, loved all the characters, they were very relatable, and really enjoyed the story line."

Author Heidi McLaughlin
My grandma once told me that I can do anything I want, so I am.
Originally from the Pacific Northwest, I now live in picturesque Vermont, with my husband and two daughters. Also renting space in our home is an overhyper Beagle/Jack Russell and two Parakeets.
During the day you’ll find me behind a desk talking about Land Use. At night, I’m writing one of the many stories I plan to release or sitting courtside during either daughter’s basketball games.
I’m also an active reviewer on The Readiacs.

Book Blast $50 Giveaway

Ends 2/24/13
Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Blog Tour: Manipulation (Shadows #2) by Jolene Perry (Review + Giveaway)

The Manipulation Blog Tour is hosted by YA Bound. Find the rest of the tour stops here.
About Insight (Shadows #1)…
Published: September 3rd, 2012 (Next Door Books)
Pages: 367
Micah hates her ability to “see” things when she touches people. She’s terrified of relationships, holds on to guilt over the death of her classmate, Lacey, and has no idea what to do with a vision from Landon, a boy from her school. She feels him falling for her, but Micah doesn’t do friends, much less relationships.

Enter a spooky history project about a tragedy from three hundred years ago, and voodoo dolls that Micah somehow feels has to do with her gift. Suddenly she’s sure the shadows in the woods are following her every move—without Landon’s relaxed attitude about what’s happening in her life, Micah would be sure she’s going crazy.

With no ideas on timing or specifics, the visions of both herself and the people she cares about are turning dark—and it appears the shadows around her house do move on their own. But as Micah and Landon try to prevent Micah’s visions of the future, the shadows close in, and they’re now afraid they’ve become the cause…

Micah's story is the first of three girls, with unique talents, who are part of a 300 year old tragedy that follows them in the shadows. [Description from Goodreads]

Published: January 13th, 2013 (Next Door Books)
Pages: 260
Rating: 3/5

Addison Prince has almost always gotten what she wants.

Dean Courser only wants to find his brother, but it's the one thing he’s failed at... Even with his unusual ability.

Dean and Addison share the gift of Manipulation—a brief touch that forces others to do what they wish. But when they meet and realize their connection, they find more questions than answers. Suddenly Dean is seeing shadows move on their own, and Addison is learning her father’s mysterious group may know more about her abilities than he’s ever let on.

As Dean and Addison second-guess every decision about who they are and why they're wanted, time is running out. With shadows following their every move, they're losing hope they’ll ever get to safety—if such a thing exists.
{Description from Goodreads}
Having not read the first book in the series, Insight, I wasn’t sure what to expect prior to reading Manipulation. I’ve heard people rave about Jolene Perry books, so I thought it was time for me to try it out myself. Upon finishing, I’d have to say that despite a few qualms here and there, I thoroughly enjoyed the book.
I was kind of out of the loop since I didn’t read Shadows #1, but I picked up on the gist of things pretty well. I do wish there had been more of a refresher at the beginning, for the sake of odd people like me who choose to read books out of order. Once I figured out what was going on (ok, so they see shadows? But the shadows are people… that follow them everywhere…um, freaky much?), I began enjoying the storyline. I liked the rich-girl-plus-poor-boy romance theme going on, though I had trouble getting past my irritation with Addison. That was one of my biggest qualms. The whole snotty, spoiled, girl thing seemed overdone. Even after the [traumatic incident which I will not mention at this time], when she was supposed to have developed some admirable qualities (or at least realize her weaknesses), she failed to do so. Her character felt spoiled and indifferent before she fell for Dean, and after she fell for him she seemed needy and weak. I really wanted to like her, but I couldn’t. I just couldn’t.
Thankfully, I liked Dean a bit more than I liked Addie. A small part of me wishes that he could have been a little stronger as the male MC, but that’s just because I’m hard to please, especially when it comes to characters. *hehe* Like the author said in her Goodreads review, I liked that the story kind of morphed into a road trip book because I may or may not have a road trip book fetish. I liked Jolene’s voice and how she wove other issues (such as Addie’s relationship with her dad and Dean’s relationship with his brother) into the main climatic issue. I also like where she leaves us- not on too much of a cliffhanger, but enough of one to make us want to read the third book, Seeker.
All in all, Manipulation was definitely good. Maybe not fantastic, but definitely good. There were a few things that bugged me, like Addie, but that’s not to say it’ll bother every other reader. I wasn’t too impressed with the romance, though I was impressed with Dean’s respect for Addie, despite their many ardent make-out sessions. This being my first taste of Jolene’s work, I have to say that I liked her voice enough to want to read more of her books. And isn’t that one of the one things all writers strive for? J
Quick Content Review: *may contain spoilers*
Language: Mild (a few words scattered throughout)
Violence: None
Sexual: Mild-Moderate (Two characters kiss often, sometimes passionately. Clothing is removed while the two are drunk, but they go no farther. Sex is discussed inexplicitly.)
About the author…
Jolene kissed a boy on her high school graduation night. One she’d wanted to kiss for a long time. They got married two years later, have built two homes together, survived military deployments, law school, student loan debt, and two children.

Jolene plays the guitar, takes pictures, and loves to hike. She doesn’t like rivers, but loves the ocean. She loves to fly, but gets motion sick. Her ultimate vacation would be to sail through the deserted islands in The Bahamas. Two years ago, she got that wish when her parents retired on a sailboat.

She taught high school French when she was only a few years older than her students, and then taught middle school math with her degree in political science and French.
She spends grocery money on designer fabric, shoes, and books.

Jolene cannot express how many times she wished she could write a whole novel. And now she has. Several times. Life is good.

Prize #1:  (1) Paperback copies of Insight and Manipulation (International)
Prize #2:  (1)Paperback copy of Manipulation (US only)
Prize #3:  (3) e-book copies of Manipulation.  Kindle or Nook (International)

Friday, February 1, 2013

Cover Reveal: Forty Days by Stephanie Parent

Today we're revealing the cover of author Stephanie Parent's new book, Forty Days! Check out the awesome new cover below.

Forty Days
(Neima’s Ark, Book One)
By Stephanie
Release Date:
Genre: YA
Cover Artist: Najla Qamber

Summary from
The entire
village knows Neima’s grandfather is a madman.
For years the old man has prophesied that a great flood is coming, a
flood disastrous enough to blot out the entire earth.  He’s even built an enormous ark that he
claims will allow his family to survive the deluge.  But no one believes the ravings of a lunatic…

…until the rain
starts.  And doesn’t stop. 

sixteen-year-old Neima finds her entire world transformed, her life and those
of the people she loves in peril.
Trapped on the ark with her grandfather Noah, the rest of her family,
and a noisy, filthy, and hungry assortment of wild animals, will Neima find a
way to survive?

With lions,
tigers, and bears oh my, elephants and flamingos too, along with rivalries and
betrayals, a mysterious stowaway, and perhaps even an unexpected romance, Forty Days is not your grandfather’s
Noah’s Ark story.

Forty Days is approximately 45000 words, the length of
a shorter novel, and is the first installment in a two-part epic story.  It does contain a cliffhanger ending.
Readers looking for a traditional, religiously
oriented version of the Noah’s Ark story should be warned that
Forty Days may
not appeal to them.  The novel will,
however, appeal to lovers of apocalyptic fiction, historical fiction, and
romance, as well as anyone who’s ever dreamed of having a baby elephant as a

About the Author:
Stephanie Parent
is a graduate of the Master of Professional Writing program at USC and attended
the Baltimore School for the Arts as a piano major. She moved to Los Angeles
because of Francesca Lia Block's WEETZIE BAT books, which might give you some
idea of how much books mean to her. She also loves dogs, books about dogs, and
sugary coffee drinks both hot and cold.

Author Links: