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Summer Giveaway Hop

Sunday, July 31, 2011

We're participating in the Summer Giveaway Hop hosted by I Am A Reader Not a Writer and Book HoundsOne lucky international winner will be winning a signed ARC of Dark Inside. Much thanks to the author Jeyn Roberts for donating one of her precious few advanced copies.


How do you enter? Fill out the Rafflecopter form according to the following guidelines:

Mandatory entry: We would love a comment on why you want to read Dark Inside (optional). We're not asking you to follow us, but we'd love if you do!


We also prefer that you fill out our address in the form, but you can always give your address afterwards if you're selected as the winner. It just lets us ship out the ARC to you faster. Don't worry. We'll only use the address to send out the ARC if you win. The form and your addresses will be deleted as soon as the winner has been determined.


Extra entries:

Help spread the Dark Inside love:
  • Tweet about this giveaway using the given tweet:
#Win a copy of #DARKINSIDE by @JeynRoberts, #YA #giveaway @ImaginaryReads http://t.co/FReNgcF


** GFC is Google Friend Connect. You can join this site via GFC under the heading "Imaginary Followers" on the right sidebar.

Click here to check out the full list of blogs participating in this giveaway hop!


P.S. We have another International giveaway going on right now. Click here to enter for a chance to win Divergent by Veronica Roth!

Birthday Palooza: Day 1 Challenge

iLive, iLaugh, iLove Books

Today is the kickoff day for Lucia's Birthday Palooza at iLive iLaugh iLove Books. Don't forget to drop by her blog and wish her a happy birthday palooza!!




Day 1 Challenge
ARC is my favorite acronym. We all know it stands for "advanced reading copy," but can you think of more things it can stand for?


Yes, I can! (It doesn't mean they all make sense, but hey. My mind words in weird ways.)

ARC: A Real Character (you know there are false ones, like Tasha. Oh, Tasha. Why couldn't you accept Rose and Dimitri's relationship? Vampire Academy reference)

ARC: Amy is a Righteous Character (Who's Amy? I don't know!)

ARC: Acronyms! Really! Cool! (Yes, they are! But Kris. Why are you talking like a caveman? Err... I mean cavewoman?)

I have no idea. I guess I'll call it a day for now, or you'll all think I'm a lunatic. I mean. What kind of person has a conversation with herself and parentheses?

Author Interview: Jeyn Roberts

Today, I am delighted to be interviewing with Jeyn Roberts, author of Dark Inside.


Since the beginning of mankind, civilizations have fallen: the Romans, the Greeks, the Aztecs...and now us. Huge earthquakes rock the world. Cities are destroyed. But something even more awful is happening: An ancient evil has been unleashed, and it's turning everyday people into hunters, killers, and crazies. This is the world Mason, Aries, Clementine, and Michael are living in--or rather, trying to survive. Each is fleeing unspeakable horror, from murderous chaos to brutal natural disasters, and each is traveling the same road in a world gone mad. Amid the throes of the apocalypse and clinging to love and meaning wherever it can be found, these four teens are on a journey into the heart of darkness--and to find each other and a place of safety.

Thanks for joining us here today, Jeyn. To start, please tell us about the week following your finding out that you would be published. Was there anything that surprised you about the process of publication?
It was pretty crazy and hard at the same time. I was in South Korea and the time zone was crazy.  I had to stay up till two in the morning to make sure I was on time with chatting in New York.  Nothing really surprised me, I knew a lot about publishing from school.

Nothing can be as crazy as your brilliant imagination in coming up with the world of Dark Inside! What inspired you to write Dark Inside and the fall of human civilization?
Dark Inside is based on reoccurring dreams I’ve been having since I was a teenager. I’m also a big fan of end-of-the-world books and movies. I always knew I wanted to write one.

Both of your dreams have come true, literally! One in print and one because the other is in print. Tell us a little about your writing process.
I try to write about 2,000 words a day. I don’t always succeed, but I try. Sometimes I work from home, other times I hide out in a coffee shop.

Wow. That's a lot of writing per day. How long did it take you to write Dark Inside? To query and publish it?
It took me about three months to write the first draft. The query process went quicker, I was signed within twenty-four hours and it’s taking a year and a half to publish.

How did you decide on the title?
My agent actually came up with the title. We were working through a list of dozens of title ideas and she came up with it. I loved it and it stuck.

I love the title!! Your agent's a genius. We've heard a bit about your agent; now how about your editor? What was the most fun part about editing it with an editor? The hardest?
Just working with an editor is amazing. My editors are incredibly talented and there were several times where I thought “Wow, why didn’t I think about that? That’s a great idea!” The hardest part was working with two editors (one in the UK and one in America). They didn’t always 100% agree with each other.

It sounds like a lot of negotiations take place behind the scene, which brings us to cover-making. I feel that despite the saying, "Don't judge a book by its cover," we all tend to go for the pretty covers. And you have two gorgeous covers so far. How do you feel the US and UK covers represent your story?
I love them both! The US cover really gets the eyes right. The Baggers have a distinguishing feature that includes having black veins in their eyes. The UK cover I felt really represents the four main characters.

The UK cover looks forbidding to me. Just what are you putting your characters through? Speaking of characters... did you ever have any trouble getting into the characters’ minds with Dark Inside being set in a dystopian world?
Not really. I personally think people will behave like people, no matter what setting you place them in. My characters are still human and still having the same problems that they would in any situation.

Your characters are very relatable. I know from my personal reading experience. Dystopian lovers will enjoy reading your book, as will apocalyptic fans! Can you tell us a little about the future of Dark Inside, including the sequel you have planned?
I’m planning on three books. The second book so far is titled Sanctuary (but that might change). It will take place three months after book one and it’s basically the same characters continuing to survive while they start to learn a lot more about each other and the world they’re placed in.

Any tips for aspiring writers?
Do what you do because you love doing it. Be open to criticism because we don’t always see things that others see. Be patient. Dream big.


Quickshot Questions:
In honor of the passing summer, what would be your ideal vacation spot?
Buntzen Lake in Vancouver. I love spending the afternoon there.

What would you grab if the end of civilization seemed in sight?
My cats. They go where I go.

What paranormal/ fantastical/ post-apocalypse creature would you be?
Immortal?

Dark Inside playlist?
I listened a lot to Ryan Adams and Bright Eyes when I wrote Dark Inside. But my taste is always changing. I'm pretty open to anything with a lot of guitar.


Thanks again for joining us, Jeyn! I know all fans will be as excited as I am for Dark Inside!



Jeyn Roberts  graduated from the University of British Columbia with a degree in Writing and Psychology and from Bath Spa University with her MA Creative Writing. Jeyn is a former singer, songwriter, actress, bicycle courier and tree planter. An avid traveler, she’s been around the world, most recently, teaching high school in South Korea. A lover of animals, Jeyn volunteers regularly with helping abandoned and abused animals, especially cats.


Related Posts
My review of Dark Inside

Imagine My Mailbox (9)


Kris's Mailbox

I received for review: 
        
(Click on the images to view their summaries on Goodreads)


Hikari... just got back from camp. Is catching up on her Zzzz's...

Review: Dark Inside by Jeyn Roberts

Saturday, July 30, 2011
5 Stars: An Incredible Read
Series: Dark Inside #1
Hardcover: 329 Pages
Publication: November 1, 2011 by Simon and Schuster

Four teenagers on the same road in a world gone mad. Struggling to survive, clinging on to love and meaning wherever it can be found.

Since mankind began, civilizations have always fallen: the Romans, the Greeks, the Aztecs…Now it’s our turn. Huge earthquakes rock the world. Cities are destroyed. But something even more awful is happening. An ancient evil has been unleashed, turning everday people into hunters, killers, crazies.

Mason's mother is dying after a terrible car accident. As he endures a last vigil at her hospital bed, his school is bombed and razed to the ground, and everyone he knows is killed. Aries survives an earthquake aftershock on a bus, and thinks the worst is over when a mysterious stranger pulls her out of the wreckage, but she’s about to discover a world changed forever. Clementine, the only survivor of an emergency town hall meeting that descends into murderous chaos, is on the run from savage strangers who used to be her friends and neighbors. And Michael witnesses a brutal road rage incident that is made much worse by the arrival of the police--who gun down the guilty party and then turn on the bystanding crowd.

Where do you go for justice when even the lawmakers have turned bad? These four teens are on the same road in a world gone mad. Struggling to survive, clinging on to love and meaning wherever it can be found, this is a journey into the heart of darkness – but also a journey to find each other and a place of safety.

I was afraid to go to sleep Thursday night after finishing Dark Inside (it was also the day that I read most of it). The scary part isn't the apocalypse or gruesome deaths, however. It's the Baggers. It's the 'disease' of sorts floating around, turning humans turning on their own kind. That this is such a plausible demise for civilization.

Humans have been progressing rapidly for the past century, so quickly that it's become evident that our worst enemy is ourselves. Our enemy in the apocalyptic world of Dark Inside is the Darkness Inside humans. It's been inside of us: festering, infecting, waiting for the time to strike. When 9.5+ magnitude earthquakes strike across the world simultaneously, the largest genocide known to mankind initiates. Strangers turn on strangers, friends turn on friends, and family turns on family. You don't know who to trust, who will turn next. The only clue is the black veins that lines the white of their eyes, and by the time you're close enough to see the signs, you're within their grasp.

Can you imaging living in that kind of world? It takes a huge amount of luck to escape their initial strike, and I don't have it. Even if I did, you need endurance and intuition to survive. Could I do that? I don't know. Mason, Michael, Clementine, and Aries are four teenagers who have had family and/or friends turn on them, and some will even betray in turn, seeking to protect themselves and survive... not knowing when--if-- they'll ever find safety.

The events start off slow, before the earthquake happens. You watch as the world falls apart, unable to do anything. There are books that you race through in order to finish it. Dark Inside isn't one of those books. It's the kind that you read with dread, the kind whose pages you want to turn and yet can't. The kind that you have to put down and run away from before returning, unable to stop reading until you learn the fates of the four teens. That was what Dark Inside was like for me.

Because the story is told from the perspective of four teens, it took me a while to get to know them, but it's okay. The story is already drawn out at the start as the story leads up to the apocalypse, so there's time to acclimate to the four voices. It's when the apocalypse starts that the story really takes off, and even then the action only takes place between the teenager's frequent, suspense-filled attempts to stay off the Baggers' radar. (In other words, when they bump into the Baggers.)

Then there's the mysterious fifth narrator... Nothing. Nothing knows what's happening, but Nothing won't tell you. All you learn is the turmoil that Nothing suffers... Nothing's desire for this sickening game to end. Nothing will keep you questioning what is happening to the world. If all of humanity won't die out this time. And there's nothing you can do but read and read as the lives of the four teens draw closer and closer to each other until the events of this book comes to a head. If there's one word that describes how I felt reading this book, it's powerless. Powerless to prevent the apocalypse, to stop the darkness from spreading, or to save the teens.

Best (or worst because I have to wait another year for it) of all? The events don't close with Dark Inside. It's only the beginning....

Come back on Monday to read my author interview with Jeyn Roberts and the chance to win a signed ARC of Dark Inside.

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An ARC was provided by the author for review purposes.

Book Blogger Hop (13)

Friday, July 29, 2011
Book Blogger Hop

“Highlight one book you have received this week (for review, from the library, purchased at the store, etc.) that you can’t wait to dig into!”

Easy.



I actually received The Iron Knight last week, but I haven't had the chance to read (and review) it yet because I already had a couple of books lined up before it for review. However. However. I am working hard at tying up loose ends so that I can get reading The Iron Knight. I've already started it, and I have a taste of what's to come.

I can't wait to devote myself--I mean *cough* my reading time --to The Iron Knight.

Follow Friday (13)



Let's step away from books for a second and get personal. What T-Shirt slogan best describes you?
This T-shirt from Cafe press so describes me.

I have two goals in life. One is to write a book that inspires people (something that's describe by another t-shirt slogan that I found at Cafe Press):

You know those big-name authors that we all know and love? Well, don't underestimate them. They're geniuses. Pure geniuses.


My other goal in life is to be a ninja. By ninja, I mean super-awesome kick-ass person that everyone can depend on (cheesy, huh? But I'm not the kind of person that goes around like Batman and takes down shady villains in the name of dark justice). Of course... it wouldn't hurt to have real ninja skills. It'd save me from being the klutz that I really am.

And it'd give me the chance to wear this shirt...
In black with white lettering

Cue mad ninja skills.

Review: This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen

Thursday, July 28, 2011
5 Stars: Incredible
Hardback: 304 Pages
Publication: May 27, 2002 by Viking Children's

When it comes to relationships, Remy doesn't mess around. After all, she's learned all there is to know from her mother, who's currently working on husband number five. But there's something about Dexter that seems to defy all of Remy's rules. He certainly doesn't seem like Mr. Right. For some reason, however, Remy just can't seem to shake him. Could it be that Remy's starting to understand what those love songs are all about?

Remy is a control freak. She likes to organize everything from clothes to her car to relationships. She wants to know where everything stands so that she knows where to go to fix something if a problem arises. Her stoicism comes from having to take care of her whimsical mother and watching said mother go through several failed marriages. That’s why Dexter perplexes her so much from the beginning. He’s her polar opposite—chaotic and optimistic—past guys.

Dessen builds Remy three-dimensionally as with her other main characters. While we know that Dexter is going to change Remy’s pessimistic view on love, Remy doesn’t hang around with him all the time or spend her time day-dreaming about him. She has a life away from Dexter, and Dessen details it just as much as her time with Dexter, if not more. As such, we really get a feel for her as a person throughout the book. We learn that Remy isn’t as much of a bitch as she thinks she is; sure, she’s pessimistic about love, but it’s because she hasn’t had a stable familial life. She has motivation for acting the way she does.

I really like Dexter. If it were another guy, the whole instant attraction deal would have seemed absurd. With Dexter, his easygoing attitude and optimistic take on life and love made it sweet and adorable. I can’t imagine how he’s forever tripping all over the place, but considering how it’s Dexter I find it believable—and endearing. He may have had a hard time making his way into Remy’s heart, but he won me from day one.

Remy’s friends and family are a delightful cast of characters. Her friends are very realistic and engaging people that suit Remy’s character. Her brother’s a cool guy with an interesting hobby of raising monitor lizards, and her mom is a whimsical woman that you can’t help liking. I love how big Remy is on family and how protective she is of them. As for Dexter’s band, they’re pretty cool guys, though it’s pretty obvious that Remy isn’t too fond of them, especially Ted and his strong opinions on his craft.

I also love how Dessen starts off each section telling us which month it is. Not only does it reflect how time passes in Remy’s mind, it shows us just how long it takes Remy to change. It shows us that it takes time for Remy to open up to Dexter, to finally open herself to love. Such changes don’t take place in a couple weeks. It takes timing, an important concept that Remy grows to recognize over the course of the book.

If it was any other writer, perhaps I would have liked the book. Perhaps I wouldn’t have. But with Dessen behind the book, I can relate to Remy. I don’t hate her. I love her and her down-to-earth attitude. This Lullaby is about learning how to open yourself to the goods and bads of a relationship. It is about learning to let go of your fears and to learn how to love. I recommend this story to those look for a contemporary read filled with laughs and tears.

View my favorite quotations from This Lullaby.

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Review: Skipping Stones at the Center of the Earth by Andy Hueller

Wednesday, July 27, 2011
5 Stars: An Incredible Read
Paperback: 241 Pages
Publication: August 8, 2011 by Cedar Fort

Calvin Comet Cobble lives at Hidden Shores Orphanage. Location: the very center of the earth. Cal's life is full of the school bully and mean teachers, but when he meets Mr. E, who can skip a stone clear across Lake Arctic, everything about Cal's life changes. Told with wit and charm, Skipping Stones at the Center of the Earth is guaranteed to excite and inspire readers of all ages.

Cal is no hero. He regrets not taking action in the past, and he suffers form discrimination because of his hair color. He's learned not to talk back to adults because he's always dealt swift and horrible punishments. What he wants is not to attract attention. Then he meets Mr. E., and he learns to see another side of the world, one where one tween can make a difference. From there, the story quickly progresses, sweeping you into a story very similar to Cal's and which took place twelve years ago.

Twelve years. This number plays a significant role in the book. Twelve years ago, Bart's Screw was discovered. Twelve years ago, Cal was born. Twelve years ago, two brothers' lives changed. Twelves years into the future (aka. present day), Cal is in an orphanage in the middle of the Earth, and he spies on Mr. E. early in the mornings. The switching perspectives develops the backstory of the novel while furthering the plot. These shifts take place just as you reach the climax in one story, leaving you hanging until the last few pages of the book when it all comes together.

Skipping Stones at the Center of the Earth brings to you a child's worst fears (cue: evil teacher, bad cafeteria food, and oversized bullies). On the brighter side, it expresses the importance of speaking out and being yourself. It tells of relationships: friend-friend, student-mentor, and child-parent. It brings to you the best friend who isn't afraid to tell you off and who is too smart for her own good, the quirky teacher who has a big heart under his scary exterior, and the no-good father who's never been around but who also has a story to tell.

This book would make a good novel for a middle-grade reader book club. It has the bad and the funny of tween life and will entertain readers while keeping them engrossed in life at the center of the Earth. At the same time, it instigates the reader to raise questions such as the justice of judging people based on looks, how the city of Robert came to be forgotten, and the role that Mr E. plays in Calvin's lives. There are more thought-provoking questions provided in the back of the book that will generate great discussions.

Related Posts
Interview with author Andy Hueller


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An ARC was provided for review purposes by the publisher

Review: Supernaturally by Kiersten White

Tuesday, July 26, 2011
4.5 Stars: A Great Read
Series: Paranormalcy #2
Hardback: 336 Pages
Publication: July 5, 2011 by Harper Teen

Evie finally has the normal life she’s always longed for. But she’s shocked to discover that being ordinary can be . . . kind of boring. Just when Evie starts to long for her days at the International Paranormal Containment Agency, she’s given a chance to work for them again. Desperate for a break from all the normalcy, she agrees.

But as one disastrous mission leads to another, Evie starts to wonder if she made the right choice. And when Evie’s faerie ex-boyfriend Reth appears with devastating revelations about her past, she discovers that there’s a battle brewing between the faerie courts that could throw the whole supernatural world into chaos. The prize in question? Evie herself.

So much for normal.


HAPPY RELEASE DAY FOR SUPERNATURALLY!!
(Look, Evie, I used bright, bold pink just for you!)


No, I didn't get my hands on an ARC, but I did receive my pre-order a day early. I read it quickly so that I could have my review up bright and early on release day (and because I've been pining for this book for months now and partook of a little self-indulgence) My brother was astounded by how quickly I read this book, and he already knows just how big of a book nerd I am.


Kiersten White is a genius. A cute bright (not-so-little) don't-mess-with-me dazzling flash of genius. From the first pages of Paranormalcy, I have been a huge fan of hers, and I knew that I would love Supernaturally as much as Paranormalcy, even though it didn't quite exist at the time. You know how seconds and thirds often disappointment? Well, I have a feeling that the Paranormalcy trilogy won't disappoint. Supernaturally was just as awesome as Paranormalcy in its own awesome way. Sure, we don't have the attraction of the boring old Center minus Lend stuck in a cell, but we have school and its boring ordinariness plus (gasp) college Lend and college apps... and wait for it... more makeout scenes! What's not to like?

Paranormalcy wraps its events nicely while leaving us with a bit of intrigue, such as what Reth is now up to (oh how I'm dying to know his new real name. What name could be better than Lorethan? Lorethan is a lovely name, isn't it?) and whether or not Evie will be able to escape the Faeries' grasp while maintaining some semblance of normalcy. However, as always with abilities unusual even among the para-normal, Evie finds it hard to escape the grasp of the paranormal world. And frankly? She's looking for some escape from ordinary life. This is where Supernaturally starts.

Kiersten White brings back a cast of wonderful, quirky characters, including Reth, Lend, Raquel,  and Ariana, and Evie (I think the last one was a given); and she brings in new faces, most prominently among them: Jack. The wild, mysterious boy that will bring so much trouble--and action--to Evie's life. Don't worry, Lend will defend his position as Evie's boyfriend gallantly, but you're in for a world of mischief. You will learn things about characters that have the potential to break hearts. You will find yourself wondering who you can trust and who's out to get Evie. You will question how Evie will ever make it out of the mess that her life is in. And you will demand to know what part Reth plays in all of this and what choices Evie will make.

I'm not surprised that Kiersten's so attached to Supernaturally (referring to her post on second books)--that she loves it even more than Paranormalcy. Bleep, I have a hard time deciding which one I love more! In the end I have to say that I love the both of them. Initially, I wasn't sure what I'd think about another guy playing a prominent role in this book, but I like Jack as crazy as he is. I like who Evie has grown to be. Bleep, but how Reth still enchants me with his charm as much as he tries to compel Evie into following him and leaving Lend behind. And bleep, will Kiersten never fail to amuse me with her depictions of "widely known" no-so-mythical (according to the IPCA) creatures?

I love them, and I love the brilliant cast of characters in the Paranormalcy trilogy. If I wasn't so sure they would do something evil to me in retaliation, I'd try to take one of them home with me. I'd have tried to take one home with me long ago. Sigh... I'll have to satisfy myself with rereading books one and two until Endlessly finds its way home to me.

Back to Supernaturally.

You will cry. You will rage. Above all, you will laugh. Kiersten White never fails to entertain (I said it!) you with her wickedly awesome sense of humor. (Wickedly awesome? Webster really needs to think up a new word to describe Kiersten White. Maybe we should slip her name into the dictionary. Words always fail me when I try to describe her!)

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Skipping Stones at the Center of the Earth Tour: Interview with Andy Hueller

Monday, July 25, 2011
Today, as part of the Skipping Stones at the Center of the Earth Virtual Book Tour, I am excited to be hosting an interview with author Andy Hueller!

Welcome, Andy. First, tell us a little about you.
I have a wonderful life. My wife, Debbie, rocks my socks off every day with her energy and intelligence. Our dog, a beagle, matches my wife’s energy though certainly not her intelligence. And I teach English for a living, which means I work with talented, interesting, funny teenagers and adults every day. My house is close enough to my school and to Target Field that I can bike to both places. Who can ask for anything more?

The only thing I can think of is super powers! I noticed that your first book Dizzy Fantastic and her Flying Bicycle also contains fantastical elements. Is this a central part of your writing style? What draws you to include these phenomena in your writings?
I read everything as a kid—from the funnies in the newspaper (including Calvin and Hobbes, one of the greatest stories ever told) to sports and action books to . . . well, to whatever I saw in the library that looked interesting, and that was most everything. But I adored, above all other storytellers, Roald Dahl. You know, Matilda, The BFG, Danny the Champion of the World. I read his books again and again. He’s fantasy-lite: No dungeons or wizards, but anything’s possible. When I began writing for children and teenagers, I just felt at home with this kind of fantasy.

Roald  Dahl is a genius. He was all I checked out from my Elementary school's library until I found Nancy Drew. What did you enjoy most writing Skipping Stones?
A couple things. First: It was the first children’s novel manuscript I ever began or finished, so I feel awfully attached to it. Second: I loved watching the storylines come together. For a few years, I wasn’t sure how this would happen. I knew the stories were related in some way(s), but each one built separately in my imagination until they were ready to converge. When I write something worth reading (I hope), it’s always the same sensation: I’m more conduit than creator. I sit down to write every day, and when I’m lucky these stories or scenes find their ways to my fingers. I do a lot of writing off the page—that is, free hand, and very messily, on lined paper. When I type up my off-the page writing, sometimes the writing develops in ways I never expected. It’s not that I don’t see my life in my writing—it’s always there, inspiring each setting and character—but I often don’t know how any of it relates until it shows up on the computer screen. That’s exciting.

Read is magical in itself. To be the connection between two worlds... I can begin to imagine it! At your website, you have a lot of ways for readers to interact with you, such as publishing their stories on your website, starting a Super Club, providing a list of books you're reading, and talking about author visits. What do you enjoy most as an author interacting with your readers?
It’s very, very cool to get e-mails from readers. I remember being my readers’ age and thinking that every author I read was one of the coolest people in the world. Now that I’m an author—me!—I know this isn’t true, of course. Trust me: my wife is laughing somewhere at the thought of me being one of the coolest people in the world. I used to think authors were rich, too, and let me tell you, that certainly isn’t the case!

I have all of those ways for readers to interact with me on my website because, as a teacher, I know just how interesting and insightful many young readers are. I want to hear what they think about my stories and other stories.

You hear that, readers? Email Andy Hueller as soon as you finish reading any of his books. He wants to hear from you! (Back to Andy) I noticed that you started Dizzy's Super Club for your first book. What inspired you to start it? 
Really, this club hasn’t taken off as I hoped it would (which means Dizzy remains lonely . . .). I started it because I’ll take any chance I can get to interact with readers. Readers of all ages tend to be interesting, thoughtful people. People who love stories, after all, generally are curious. They ask great questions, and they have dazzling imaginations.

After meeting Mr. E, Calvin's life changes. Did you have a Mr. E of your own?
I’ll try to keep this answer short, because it’s complicated. Mr. E the stone skipper is inspired by a man I watched skip stones in northern Minnesota when I was a kid. He was a lefty, like Mr. E, and he was far and away the best stone skipper I’ve ever seen. He was so smooth, and every throw skipped and skipped and skipped.

I suppose, emotionally, I have had lots of Mr. Es in my life. My dad was a college athlete and later an English teacher (though he’d moved into a new career by the time I came along). I played a lot of catch and shot a lot of hoops with him growing up. He also taught me how to skip a stone. And yet he also sat around the house many evenings reading a book. So I guess he taught me a lot about being a man (as old-fashioned as that sounds): that a love of stories and words doesn’t come at the expense of afternoons with friends playing pick-up sports. He’s a patient man who often takes a step back and reassesses his situation. I think Mr. E’s kinda like that. I’ve had terrific teachers (male and female) and coaches, too, who probably helped shape Mr. E, as well.

That's really cool. I love how chance encounters and can inspire such prominent characters in literature.  My Mr. E is a Mrs. E: my mom. What would you like readers to get out of reading Skipping Stones?
More than anything, I want it to be fun. In a lot of ways, I write to myself as a younger reader. I write the books I would have loved (and still do love). I also always loved books that played with language. I do that a lot in Skipping Stones, and I hope readers enjoy that kind of playing as much as I always have.

Thanks for interviewing with us!

Andy's Website
Andy Hueller is the author of Dizzy Fantastic and Her Flying Bicycle (Cedar Fort, 2010) and Skipping Stones at the Center of the Earth (Cedar Fort, 2011). He writes every day--sometimes the work is a thrilling adventure, and other times it's a slog. He always feels better, however, after he's given it a go. Mr. Hueller teaches at St. Paul Academy and Summit School. He lives in Minneapolis, MN with his wife and their dog.

Related Posts
My Review of Skipping Stones

I {heart} YA Giveaway

Sunday, July 24, 2011
For our super-awesome followers and fellow YA lovers (we love you guys!)



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Review: The Beginning of After by Jennifer Castle

Saturday, July 23, 2011
5 Stars: An Incredible Read
Hardback: 432 Pages
Publication: September 6, 2011 by Harper Teen

Sixteen-year-old Laurel's world changes instantly when her parents and brother are killed in a terrible car accident. Behind the wheel is the father of her bad-boy neighbor, David Kaufman, whose mother is also killed. In the aftermath of the tragedy, Laurel navigates a new reality in which she and her best friend grow apart, boys may or may not be approaching her out of pity, overpowering memories lurk everywhere, and Mr. Kaufman is comatose but still very much alive. Through it all, there is David, who swoops in and out of Laurel's life and to whom she finds herself attracted against her better judgment. She will forever be connected to him by their mutual loss, a connection that will change them both in unexpected ways.

Fans of emotionally true and heartfelt stories, such as Sarah Dessen's THE TRUTH ABOUT FOREVER and IF I STAY by Gayle Forman, will fall in love with Jennifer Castle’s incandescent debut novel...a heart wrenching, surprisingly witty testament to how drastically life can change in the span of a single moment.

I don't want to imagine what it's like to lose your entire family in an accident. To see them laughing and joking around one day and have it taken away from me the next. It's impossible to imagine life without them. Laurel has to go through this last. Scariest of all, she's so relatable. I've stayed home many times (sometimes to study, sometimes to finish a book) while my family went out. Any one of those times, something could have happened, and I would have ended up in Laurel's position, which is one of the many reasons I was so fascinated with her story.

There are books that I rush through the first time I read them, eager to find out what happens next. There are books that I read at a slow pace, maybe a chapter or two a day over a wide time frame because I'm so (sometimes grossly) fascinated by them that I need time away from the book. Then there are books like The Beginning of After that I stayed up reading because I had to know what was going to happen to Laurel, but I didn't want to rush myself either.

Castle has chosen a difficult subject to write about. There is so much emotion wrought into The Beginning of After that there is a fine line between portraying Laurel's depression with accuracy and alienating the reader. Castle has succeeded in conveying Laurel's grief over her family members' deaths without losing the reader's interest.

Laurel is a good girl. She works hard at her studies and strives to meet her parents' expectations even after their death. It's all she has left besides her grandma, and it's perfectly understandable, so understandable that my heart ached along with Laurel's. I was so happy when Laurel found the Ashland animal hospital. It gives her a place where she could act normal; more than that, it gives her a place where she feels like she is doing something. She is helping animals. I love animals myself and can relate with how Masher and the cats play a role in cheering Laurel in her otherwise bleak life.

The romance was beautifully wrought as well. It took its time playing out: it didn't take place spontaneously; it was real. I understand Laurel's desire for the safe relationship she sees in Joe, the one that her best friend wants her to take. At the same time, we see Laurel's dangerous attraction to David, the one who knows what she's going through. The one that doesn't regard her as a superhero or someone to be pitied.

In The Beginning of After Jennifer Castle delivers a powerful, emotion-charged debut novel on a difficult topic, giving us insight into life after losing one's family. More than a story of loss, The Beginning of After is about picking up the pieces of your life after a tragedy; it is about friendship and love; it is about finding your place in life. I laughed and I cried. There was so much voice and character in this novel. I really enjoyed reading The Beginning of After, and I look forward to more works by Jennifer Castle!

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An ARC was provided by the publisher for review purposes.

Book Blogger Hop (12)

Friday, July 22, 2011
Book Blogger Hop

What’s the ONE GENRE that you wish you could get into, but just can’t?

Horror/thriller.

I know that I haven't read many great books by not reading this genre. I haven't read any Stephen King books, and from what my friends and teachers have said, I'm missing out on a goldmine of great books. I wish I could read them, but it's too easy for me to imagine what it'd be like to be in the protagonist's position, in the antagonist's mind (no, I'm not bouncing off walls in there. Promise!).

So... horrors and thrillers have been on my to-avoid list for a long, long time. Maybe around the time I read Dracula in elementary school and had nightmares for months. (Nowadays, I can read Dracula. I just try and avoid horrors and thrillers as much as possible, which is pretty easy as long as my English teachers don't assign me another Agatha Christie book to read. Yeah... I'm missing out on quite a lot of good books here, aren't I?)

Follow Friday (12)



Q. Name 3 authors that you would love to sit down and spend an hour or a meal with just talking about either their books or get advice on writing from?



1. Kiersten White
She has an awesome, awesome, awesome, wicked sense of humor. Sure, Twilight brought in the paranormal craze, and I'm grateful that it did because it's thanks to Twilight that there are so many great paranormal books out there. However, I honestly didn't think to pick up paranormal books because of Twilight. It wasn't until I read Paranormalcy that I really got into the genre. It's light, flirty, and yet has that underlying current of darkness familiar to most paranormal books out there nowadays. It's funny, and it's dark. I love it. With Kiersten at the table, there's sure to be a fun atmosphere.

2. Sarah Dessen
I LOVE Sarah Dessen's books. If I had to list my top ten favorite contemporary novels, her novels will top the list. There aren't many out there that can compare to hers. (If you know of any, please tell me. I'm afraid that I'm going to run out of Dessen books to read soon!!) I'd love to have an hour to talk with her and how she comes up with her plots and writes so realistically!

3. Cassandra Clare
I love the Mortal Instruments series. I love Clockwork Angel, and I'm looking forward to Clockwork Prince. I need to ask her where she comes up with such awesome people (read: such hot guys) and ask her where I can find some of my own. On a more realistic scale, I want to thank her for writing such stunning books (they shine like book angels) and for continuing the series without making it overdone.

Pre-Birthday Palooza Celebration

Thursday, July 21, 2011
In celebration of Lucia's forthcoming Birthday Palooza week, in which I'm participating, I have invited her to Imaginary Reads to talk a little about herself!


Before we start the interview, tell us a little bit about yourself.
Hey, guys! I’m Lucia from iLive, iLaugh, iLove Books, a MG/YA fiction blog. I started off earlier this year, so I still consider myself a newbie. :) Other than reading, I love chocolate, sushi, music, playing tennis, and my kidneys, Martha and George. If you understand the reference to a popular MG series, brownie points to you! :D  I don’t know how long I can go introducing myself, but I’d love for you to visit me at my blog!

Tell us how you started blogging.
Hm, well… I’ve always been the outsider with my obsession with YA books amongst my circle of friends. I was just Googling around, looking up some of my favorite authors, and I discovered some blogs, the first of which were Lisa Desrochers’ and Mundie Moms. It wasn’t until a month or so later that I decided to create a blog myself for connecting with other book lovers and my favorite authors.

What do you enjoy most about blogging?
Being able to learn inside information about authors/books and being able to SQUEEEE about it with friends I’ve made. :D

What are your favorite books of all time?
The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

Name the top five hottest characters in your opinion.
HEEHEEHEE. I love this question. :) I might have fainted (from over-swooning) by the end of answering it, though.

IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER:


  • Jace from The Mortal Instruments (Cassandra Clare)
  • Prince Ash from Iron Fey (Julie Kagawa)
  • Etienne St. Clair from Anna and the French Kiss (Stephanie Perkins)
  • Fang from Maximum Ride (James Patterson)
  • Aiden from Half-Blood (Jennifer L. Armentrout)

  • Those are some swoon-worthy guys!! Now name five authors are you dying to meet. What would you tell them?
    1. J.K. Rowling. “You’re totally awesome.”
    2. Christopher Paolini. “Okay, seriously? It’s about time we heard about Inheritance #4! I was about to show up at your door with a flaming torch.”
    3. James Patterson. “Please don’t kill off Fang. Please don’t separate Max and Fang. Or else I may have to kill you.”
    4. Cassandra Clare. “Will you invent a perfect boy for me, too? I’ll pay you in cookies.”
    5. Rick Riordan. “You need to write faster. I want to find out what happens to Percy. Now.”

    Haha... I bet a lot of us would like to say the same things you want to say. I know I do. Especially the perfect boy one to Cassandra Clare. You can't make them in real life like she can.

    Now... if you could arrange a dinner party with characters and authors, who would you invite and why?
    I did something like this for speech class, only I had a limit of 11 people. *digs it up because I’m too lazy to start all over*
    1. Jesus. He’s an author and a character in the Bible. Also one of the most influential people ever. One of the most influential people in my life. Automatic invite!
    2. C.S. Lewis. Author of my favorite books of all-time. No brainer.
    3. J.K. Rowling. Ditto.
    4. Hermione Granger. She’s only one of my most favorite female protagonists ever.
    5. Voldemort. He would make for some interesting conversation.
    6. William Shakespeare. Ditto. Gotta love that old English speech
    7. Athena (does she count?). One of my most favorite Greek goddesses.
    8. Fa Mulan. She can kick some Hun butt. Plus she’s Asian.
    9. The rest of the people were Mozart, Harry Shum, Jr. and Rachel Ray (who’s cooking!).

    If you could have a book-themed birthday party, which book would you choose? Why?
    HA. Harry Potter. Methinks this is an obvious one.

    If you weren’t blogging or reading, what would you be doing?
    Eating or sleeping. See what an active lifestyle I have?

    Quick shot questions:
    If you could be a superhero for a day, who would you be?
    I’m not one for comic superheroes, so can I just go with a book character? (Yes, call me a nerd.) Annabeth Chase? She was the first person that popped into my head. And I already used Hermione up there.

    What girl wouldn't want to be smart and gorgeous like Hermione?

    Favorite quotation?
    “Right now I’m having amnesia and déjà vu at the same time – I think I’ve forgotten this before.” Wait, what?

    You have amnesia, but then you meet your destined one and it feels like you should know him but you can't since you don't have your memories? If you could invade a bookstore for a day and read all the books you wanted, which books would you read?
    Well if I only get to stay there for a day, I won’t get much reading done. So can I just steal all the books?

    If only. What's your favorite snack?
    Chocolate. Omnomnom.

    If I stole your iPod, what would I find on it?
    I don’t have an iPod. But my music ranges from Dvorak to The Phantom of the Opera to Glee.

    Thanks for interviewing with us, Lucia!


    Remember to check out her...
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