Saturday, September 28, 2013

An Interview with Trish Doller, author of Where the Star’s Still Shine

Today I have the amazing Trish Doller here for an interview. She wrote the recently released novel, Where the Star’s Still Shine. It’s fabulous, and you can find my review of it here. Without further to do, here is the interview-

  1. Where the Stars Still ShineWhich character in Where The Stars Still Shine can you relate to the most, and why?

I think I most relate to Callie’s dad, Greg. While I’ve never had a child go missing, I am a parent and to write Greg I had to put myself in his shoes. Callie is frustrating and I can imagine that sometimes he wants to lash out at her and be angry, but at the same time he’s fearful that he’ll push her away. Greg and I both had to coax Callie slowly out of her shell.

  1. Did you have to do any research before/while writing Where The Stars Still Shine? If so, what was your favorite and least favorite things to research?

The most fun research was visiting Tarpon Springs--the town in which the book is set--where I ate a lot of Greek food, visited gift shops, and took a ride on the dive tour boat that was inspiration for the boat in the book. It was much more difficult to research sexual abuse and mental illness. But I wanted to make sure that Callie’s mother’s illness was handled with sensitivity--and accuracy--and that Callie’s responses to sexual situations rang true.

  1. Both your first book, Something Like Normal and Where The Stars Still Shine deal with really intense topics. What do you think draws you to write such intense novels?

The easy part of my answer is that I like reading intense books. The harder part is the why...and I guess it’s because I find the darker parts of life more interesting. That’s not to say I’d never write a light-hearted romance, but I’m fascinated with finding out what my characters will do when life is hard.

  1. Where The Stars Still Shine has a wildly swoon-worthy love interest. Can you recommend some YA books (besides your own, of course) that have some swoon-worthy boy characters?

I swoon so hard for Ryan in Raw Blue, an Australian YA novel by Kirsty Eagar. He’s my hands-down favorite book boy. Followed a close second by Jonah Griggs from Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta and I really love Brigan from Kristen Cashore’s Fire.

    5. Can you tell us anything about what you have coming up next?

My next book is tentatively titled Arcadia Falls, but that will be changing soon, and it’s due in April 2015. It’s about Arcadia Wells, a small town Florida girl who impulsively joins a couple of good-looking boys on a road trip through Florida. Except one of the boys is not what he seems. The trip goes tragically wrong and Arcadia hopes she’ll make it home alive. It’s a little bit of a departure from Something Like Normal and Where the Stars Still Shine because it’s kind of a psychological thriller, but I’m really excited about it!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Wild Cards by Simone Elkeles

Wild Cards (Wild Cards, #1)After getting kicked out of boarding school, bad boy Derek Fitzpatrick has no choice but to live with his ditzy stepmother while his military dad is deployed. Things quickly go from bad to worse when he finds out she plans to move them back to her childhood home in Illinois. Derek’s counting the days before he can be on his own, and the last thing he needs is to get involved with someone else’s family drama.
Ashtyn Parker knows one thing for certain--people you care about leave without a backward glance. A football scholarship would finally give her the chance to leave. So she pours everything into winning a state championship, until her boyfriend and star quarterback betrays them all by joining their rival team. Ashtyn needs a new game plan, but it requires trusting Derek—someone she barely knows, someone born to break the rules. Is she willing to put her heart on the line to try and win it all?

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of Simone Elkeles’s books. I loved her Perfect Chemistry series. Naturally, I was excited to read Wild Cards. Though I appreciated that this book had less “boy from the slums falls for the good girl” than the usual Elkeles books, it did still have a little bit of that vibe. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE those stories. but after awhile, it gets old. That being said, Elkeles’s writing is still as amazing as usual. Overall, I think I liked this plot better than her other novels, but it also seemed less steamy (and I love steamy).

Though Derek puts on the front of being a “bad boy”, it’s evident to see that there’s more to him. It was easy to get annoyed with Derek. He made confusing decisions that didn’t take anybody into consideration other than himself. A lot of the times, he didn’t treat people fairly, and was quick to judge. However, he did have his moments. Derek was also sweet to Ashtyn and ultimately was driven to do the right thing. Ashtyn is tough. She wasn’t afraid to go out and get what she wanted. At times, she got a little weak- but that’s what makes her more realistic. Though the relationship between Derek and Ashtyn is a rocky one, it is a signature Simone Elkeles romance. It makes you swoon and go weak in the knees.

Though I had problems with some aspects of Wild Cards, I ultimately liked it. The book was addicting, and the romance was to die for. Elkeles stays true to her writing style, and produces unforgettable characters.

FTC- Received for review.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Where the Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller

Where the Stars Still ShineStolen as a child from her large and loving family, and on the run with her mom for more than ten years, Callie has only the barest idea of what normal life might be like. She's never had a home, never gone to school, and has gotten most of her meals from laundromat vending machines. Her dreams are haunted by memories she’d like to forget completely. But when Callie’s mom is finally arrested for kidnapping her, and Callie’s real dad whisks her back to what would have been her life, in a small town in Florida, Callie must find a way to leave the past behind. She must learn to be part of a family. And she must believe that love--even with someone who seems an improbable choice--is more than just a possibility.

Words cannot even attempt to describe how much I love this book. Trish Doller is such a talented writer. Her debut novel, Something Like Normal, was one of my favorite books of 2012. Where the Stars Still Shine is one of my favorite books of this year, and it is unforgettable. I keep wanting to talk about it and shout my love of it from the roof tops. This book is beautiful.

Callie’s story isn’t an easy one. It’s hard to process, and even harder to read about. However, she’s an extremely strong character, who is able to overcome the difficulties she faces- and ultimately succeed. It was nice seeing Callie take hold of her own life. The boy in Where the Stars Still Shine is the best. He is one of my favorite YA boys of 2013, and totally swoon-worthy. Trish Doller excels at writing good, unforgettable characters. These ones are still stuck in my head, and I finished the novel awhile ago.

Trish Doller is an amazing writer. Her writing is lyrical, fast-paced, and genuine. These characters are the best. I didn’t think I could love Where the Stars Still Shine as much as I loved Doller’s debut, but I do. Her writing just gets better and better, and I can’t wait to see what she writes next.

FTC- Received for review.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Truth About You and Me by Amanda Grace

The Truth About You and Me

Smart girls aren't supposed to do stupid things.

Madelyn Hawkins is super smart. At sixteen, she's so gifted that she can attend college through a special program at her high school. On her first day, she meets Bennet. He's cute, funny, and kind. He understands Madelyn and what she's endured - and missed out on - in order to excel academically and please her parents. Now, for the first time in her life, she's falling in love.

There's only one problem. Bennet is Madelyn's college professor, and he thinks she's eighteen - because she hasn't told him the truth.

The story of their forbidden romance is told in letters that Madelyn writes to Bennet - both a heart-searing ode to their ill-fated love and an apology.

This book is a whirlwind of a novel. Amanda Grace (the pseudonym of Mandy Hubbard) consistently writes beautiful novels that are shockingly honest. The Truth About You and Me captured me from the very beginning. Grace’s writing is beautiful and lyrical. I always look forward to reading her novels, because they never cease to amaze me.

Madelyn isn’t the easiest character to empathize with, but she is still a well written character. Her emotions come across beautifully in this narrative, and I honestly wanted the best for her. I hate to admit it (because of what this book deals with), but I really liked Bennet. Part of Amanda Grace’s writing style is making you see both sides of the story. Yes, student/teacher relationships are bad, and everyone knows this- however, in The Truth About You and Me, Grace brings to light the fact that things aren’t always how people perceive them. Despite Madelyn and Bennet’s relationship being illegal and socially unacceptable, reader’s are still able to see how much Madelyn cares for Bennet. This is probably my favorite part about this novel, along with all of Amanda Grace’s other novels. They make it easy to see that there are multiple sides to every story.

The Truth About You and Me gave me so many emotions. I was laughing, swooning, and crying with the turn of a page. Amanda Grace/Mandy Hubbard is a wonderfully talented writer. I can’t wait to read her next book, because it’s sure to be fantastic.

FTC- Received via Netgalley.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

FangirlA coming-of-age tale of fan fiction, family and first love.
Cath is a Simon Snow fan.
Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan . . .
But for Cath, being a fan is her life — and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.
Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.
Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.
Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.
For Cath, the question is: Can she do this?
Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?
And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow beehind?

I love Rainbow Rowell SO MUCH. I love her writing so much that I used all caps. I never use all caps. I was a little late on to the Rainbow Rowell fandom, but once I read Eleanor and Park I was completely hooked on her writing. I couldn’t wait to read Fangirl. I wasn’t even worried if it would live up to my expectations. I knew it would. I read this a few weeks ago, and I’m still ecstatic about it. Rainbow is a writing genius. Fangirl is addicting, thought-provoking, and awe-inspiring.

The characters in Fangirl are impeccably real. I would gladly sit down with them over coffee any day. Cath was so relatable. Her love of Simon Snow was adorable and one of the best things about the story. Fangirl had fan fiction. I mean, do I need to say more? Though the bits of fan fiction that were included in the story distracted a bit from the actual story, I liked it. I just loved all the characters in Fangirl. I honestly have no complaints about the story. This book is one of the ones that you read when you need a friend, or if you feel like curling up with a good, unforgettable novel.

Rainbow Rowell is one of the best young adult authors of today. Her writing eclipses that of other novels. I can honestly say that Fangirl was one of my favorite novels of this year (along with Rainbow’s YA debut, Eleanor & Park). This review isn’t so much a review, as a huge fangirly post about how much I love Rainbow and her writing. But, everything in this is totally true. Fangirl is SO GOOD. You should all go read it, because I’m sure that you will love it.

FTC- Received for review via Edelweiss.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Guest Post- Daisy Whitney, author of Starry Nights

Today I have a guest post by the fantastic Daisy Whitney to share with you all. Her new book Starry Nights was recently released, and it’s about pictures that come to life in a Paris museum (it is such a good book, you should all go read it pronto). Since the novel takes place in Paris, I asked Daisy what her all time favorite thing to experience in Paris is.

My favorite thing to experience in Paris is, quite simply, all of it!

But if you’re going to force me to specify - I’d have to say my favorite part is simply wandering through the city. I’d start along the River Seine, watching the water as it winds through the city, and enjoying the people-watching along the bridge. Then I’d cut through the sixth arrondissement and gaze upon the gorgeous homes, admiring the windows and flower pots and courtyards and all the cool doorways because Paris rocks when it comes to pretty doors - orange, green, purple, blue, gleaming chrome and massively tall and high doors too! Then, I’d catch the metro to Montmartre and meander along the curvy cobblestoned streets, checking out the adorable little homes and flats and cafes, and stopping in a fantastic bakery or two, finding the best apricot tarte and nibbling on that as I then made my way to the Marais for a falafel that’s the best in the world.

In a nutshell - walking, looking and eating. That’s what I love to do most in Paris.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Starry Nights by Daisy Whitney

Starry NightsSeventeen-year-old Julien is a romantic—he loves spending his free time at the museum poring over the great works of the Impressionists. But one night, a peach falls out of a Cezanne, Degas ballerinas dance across the floor, and Julien is not hallucinating.
The art is reacting to a curse that trapped a beautiful girl, Clio, in a painting forever. Julien has a chance to free Clio and he can't help but fall in love with her. But love is a curse in its own right. And soon paintings begin to bleed and disappear. Together Julien and Clio must save the world's greatest art . . . at the expense of the greatest love they've ever known.

I’m a huge fan of Daisy’s writing. However, I totally wasn’t expecting Starry Nights to end up the way it did. I went in to the novel without reading the summary, so I didn’t really have a full understanding of the plot before going into it. This lead me to be pleasantly surprised when I realized that Starry Nights isn’t just a Contemporary YA novel. It has this really cool thing going on, where the main character (Julien) can see paintings come to life after the museum closes. I love this idea so much. It’s super original and overall really fun to read.

Julien was *so* fantastic. I loved how much he loved art and how passionate he was about the museum. Clio was equally as great. The relationship between her and Julien was adorable, and I’m still not over it. I love how, despite the way things end up playing out, they still fight for each other. Starry Nights explores how far two people from (literally) different worlds will go to stay with each other. It is beautiful.

Daisy Whitney has always been one of my favorite writers, and Starry Nights just reinforces my love of her writing. Julien and Clio’s story will capture your heart and won’t let go. Starry Nights is the type of novel that, once you’ve finished reading it, you have to sit back and process the enormity of what you have just read. Whitney has written an original novel that I hope everyone will be talking about.

FTC- Received from publisher.