Thursday, August 17, 2017

Are you interested in becoming a YA book reviewer?

Posted by Jenn Christensen at 4:26 PM 3 comments
Hey guys! I am currently looking to expand my reviewing team. I am looking for 2 qualified reviewers that are okay with making deadlines but also will review the books they read on their own. Please copy and paste the section of text below and follow the instructions if you wish to apply! I am looking for US residents only unless you are international and wish to only review books that you own. 

Hello! So I have had A LOT of interest in the 2 positions I currently have available and I decided to have an interview type process. Below, you will find information areas to fill out. Please complete these questions and attach a copy of a review you have done in an email and send it to Thank you!

1) How many books can you read in a month?
2) Do you have any book related social media accounts right now? A book blog?
3) Why do you want to join my reviewing team?
4) Are you willing to be on a deadline when it comes to certain books needing to be reviewed?
5) Tell me 5 facts about you.

This entire process, on my part, is a big game of trust. I have been blogging for years and have gone through a lot of reviewers. I need to know that I can trust whoever I pick. So there will be a month long probation period where I send you books that are older and monitor your progress just to make sure you aren't in this for the free books. I currently still have 1 reviewer and she has become my best friend. I would like that my team be kind to each other and I would love if we became close. 

The books each month will vary. Sometimes I will give you a choice of what you would like to review but most of the time I will just be sending at random. It will be a mixture of ARC's and Finished Copies. Some from authors/publishers and some from my personal review collection I keep. I will expect at least 4 reviews a month as you will have a certain day of the week for your reviews on the blog. If you read on your own or have your own personal blog I would love to post any new or old reviews you have as long as they are YA. You would be sending me your reviews through email and I will be posting them with a custom rating and signature layout that I make just for you. 

This position is a very serious one as you will be carrying my blogs name around with you. I am trusting that whomever gets the position understands that this is not a game. Yes, it is meant for fun most of the time but there are moments where it must be taken seriously. There are deadlines that must be met and a level of professionalism that must be upheld. Once you are with me for a few months I will give you permission to use my blog when requesting review copies from publishers. But you must let me know what you've requested and if you get approved so I can keep a list. I am pretty well known with the publishers and need to make sure you uphold your promise to review anything you get from them. 

If you have any other questions about the position please feel free to ask away.

Thank you for applying and I will get back you you soon!



Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Author Spotlight: Just a Normal Tuesday by Kim Turriso + Interview

Posted by Jenn Christensen at 12:00 PM 0 comments
A graduate of Florida State University, Kim Turrisi began her career in film and television. After a year of on-set production (getting coffee, wrangling actors and taking lunch orders) Kim segued to the development side of the business. First working as a development executive at Columbia-Tri-Star and eventually shepherding many projects in family entertainment for Disney, Viacom and Hallmark.
Kim created and wrote an online web series for which she won a Daytime Emmy. She wrote for ABC Family's webisode series, PRETTY DIRTY SECRETS, an internet companion piece to smash hit PRETTY LITTLE LIARS. 
While she’s always been a voracious reader and writer, she never thought about writing for teens until she immersed herself in the children’s publishing world as the Director of Special Projects for the Society of Book writers and Illustrators. There, reading children’s literature is a big part of her job. 
Her debut Young Adult novel JUST A NORMAL TUESDAY is loosely based on the author's own experience, the debut YA novel follows 16-year-old Kai as she struggles through the emotional aftermath of her sister's suicide. Kai spends a month at grief camp, discovering a roadmap to piecing her broken heart back together.
One of Kim’s favorite parts of the writing process is to create playlists for her characters that she listens to when she writes. When she revises her manuscripts, she’s generally in mismatched plaid and her desk is riddled with junk food. She collects Chuck Taylor’s, Van’s, and has a killer sock collection. 
Born in Hawaii, she credits her love of travel to her life as an Air Force brat moving every two years. When she isn’t writing or reading, she can be found obsessing over her dogs, Riley and Rocco.
Represented by Tricia Lawrence at EMLA
Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @kimmyt22 

Title: Just a Normal Tuesday
Genre: YA Contemporary Mental Health
Author: Kim Turrisi
Publisher: KCP Loft - Kids Can Press
Publication: May 2nd 2017
Cover Rating: 4/5
Just a Normal Tuesday is about suicide. More so about the horrible aftermath that follows a suicide of an older sister. This book shows us just how horribly a family can be destroyed when a loved one is lost in such a tragic and painful way. At times, this book was very hard to read. I have a personal history with suicide and the people I love. I have lost many friends to various forms of suicide and for various reasons. During a time when mental health issues seem to be at a high, this book is very important and I really think everyone should read this.

Our main character is Kai. I find her name to be rather interesting because her parents and sisters names are very, very common. But Kai is a very complex character. Even before the suicide turned her life upside-down, she was interesting. Her best guy friend is her gay ex-boyfriend. She was quirky and just overall an interesting teenager. Then the drugs and drinking came after her sisters suicide and everything spiraled down the drain. She was so angry and self-destructive. Her parents enrolling her in a Grief Camp was definitely the right thing to do. And her friends telling her parents was also the right thing to do and I am glad Kai realized both of these things.

Before reading this book, I had no idea Grief Camps were actually a thing. While, I do have some certain opinions about such a thing, I do think it is a very helpful idea. I do not think Grief Camp is for everyone because every person grieves differently, but with our youth, they tend to react to loss in destructive ways and I think sending them to a camp rather than them getting in trouble with the law or ruining their grades at school. But the bonds these kids formed in this book that helped each other get through their pair was very beautiful. Pain is one of the few things that actually strips us down to the bone and shows who we really are on the inside. 

This book left me with an overall feeling of just wanting to hug the ever loving  crap out of people. Have tissues near by when you read this book. You will more than likely need them a few times. 

In the end, this book was VERY impactful and I really think everyone should pick this up and red it. Also, needless to say, my sister got a lot of random gushy text messages from me while I was reading this book and she may or may not think I've gone insane. But, she thought I was insane prior to reading this book so that is nothing new. 

Overall, I gave the book 4.5/5 stars.

1) How did you become an author?
I've always been a writer but I made the transition to author recently. I work at the Society of Children's Bookwriter's and Illustrators so I'm surrounded by kid lit and talented authors. I fell in love with YA and dove in. I love the solitude that writing brings. My first book was awful and the rejection pile was vast. Just A Normal Tuesday was born when a dear friend and incredibly talented writer,Aaron Hartzler, was brainstorming with me. Honestly, I'm not sure I would have written it if it wasn't for him. 

2) Have any of your characters ever been influenced by someone you know in real life?
All of them in some way. I pick qualities that I love or don't of people I've met and thread them into my characters.

3) Do you have any pets?
I have two dogs, Riley (An Australian Shepard) and Rocco ( A Golden Retriever) along with a god dog, Stormy ( A golden doodle) who visits often.

4) Are you currently working on any other books?
I am. I'm working on a series that I'm in love with and a stand alone with another writer that I'm so excited to see come to life. 

5) What is your favorite book?
I have way too many but my go to is On The Road by Jack Kerouac. Anything Maya Angelou

Monday, August 14, 2017

REVIEW: When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon - 4.5 stars

Posted by Jenn Christensen at 10:00 AM 0 comments
Title: When Dimple Met Rishi
Genre: YA Contemporary OwnVoices?
Author: Sandhya Menon
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication: May 30th 2017
Cover Rating: 5/5

First, I would like to state that the synopsis for this book is very misleading. It says that Dimple and Rishi both signed up for this summer program before anything was known. That was no the case and it really bothers me that this synopsis is so wrong. But, that aside, this book was so cute. Think Anna and the French Kiss, cute.

I adored Dimple. She was a headstrong young woman and she knew what she wanted in life. I have read so many reviews where people are bashing her for her attitude and her way of thinking and it just annoyed me. Why do people need to fit into a category in order for you to like them? Dimple was amazing from start to finish. Yes, she ended up a little bit changed at the end of the book but, once again, why does she have to fit into some category just to make you happy? I do, however, think that Dimple had a lot of misplaced anger. But once you read further into the book you sort of see where that comes from. When you lead a life of defending yourself or tucking tail and running, it tends to have some form of negative repercussions.

Rishi. Oh man, Rishi. He was... not at all what I was expecting. He was so sweet and funny and smart. I expected him to be all arrogant and uptight. I love the way he stood up for Dimple's honor and none of his actions had any form of ulterior motives. Rishi was a genuinely awesome guy and Dimple is one lucky girl.

Dimple and Rishi ended up forming a friendship in order to win the App contest that their summer program is hosting. This friendship leads to so many beautiful and cute moments that is was hard to NOT fall for both of them. Along with these cute moments these two did the most amazing things for each other. When you love someone you want to make them happy and try to help them achieve their goals. BOTH Dimple and Rishi reached out and did things like this for each other and it was so heartwarming.

Aside from the cute little friendship/romance, this book also contained a good amount of racism. Since there were other kids at this summer program there was bound to be some form of drama. This drama was just horrible. The things the Aberzombies sad to Dimple without thinking twice was unbelievable. They were kids who had their peers and teachers in their fathers pockets so they were beyond privileged. It just sucks that these type of people exist and it sucks even more when there is no one to stand up to them.

In the end, this book was so cute and I was scared it wasn't going to end the way it did. It NEEDED to end the way it did. I am glad egos were pushed aside and both parties finally saw the light of day. I know the end result wasn't what Dimple had planned for her life but life doesn't follow a straight line and sometimes detours are necessary in order to survive and get to our end goal. Yes, that was cryptic as crap in order to avoid spoilers. You can thank me later.

In addition, this book was actually not what I was expecting at all. I was thinking there was going to be some VERY harsh cultural rules and forced marriage but it was nothing like that and I made me happy to see that some parents truly just want their kids to be happy.

Overall, I gave the book 4.5/5 stars.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Author Spotlight: Into the Hurricane by Neil Connelly + Interview

Posted by Jenn Christensen at 10:00 AM 0 comments

Before returning to his home state of Pennsylvania, where he teaches at Shippensburg University, Connelly was director of the MFA program at McNeese State University. He has published five books and numerous short stories.

Title: Into the Hurricane
Genre: YA Contemporary-ish
Author: Neil Connelly
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books
Publication: June 27th 2017
Cover Rating: 4/5

Hurricanes are one of natures wonders, albeit a deadly one. I have only experienced maybe 5 hurricanes in my entire life. Hurricane Floyd tossed a tree onto my parents brand new cars and we didn't have power for two weeks and everything was flooded, including our basement that ten year old me thought was cool because, hello, indoor swimming pool, right? We lived off of Burger King croissants. Then there was Hurricane Isabel, that hoebag took my basketball hoop and destroyed it. Once again no power for a long time. And then, the last big storm I can remember was Hurricane Sandy. That one left my back yard a swamp and caused a tree to break off and rub the power lines which caused a small fire, which was pretty scary. So, as you can read, hurricanes are nasty. So why would a boy stay when his entire town was evacuated? And why would a girl drive into the storm territory right before it hit? Well, you'll just have to read the book to find out. Or, my review, but hey, read the book, too, okay?

We start off with Max. Her father just died and she made him a promise that she might have to break the law in order to uphold. Okay, might is a lie. She WILL have to break laws. Max is a very angry person. She is extremely volatile towards everything and very reckless

Then we move on to Eli. There is a category 5 hurricane coming and Eli refuses to evacuate for reasons you learn almost immediately. He lost someone very close to him and that has taken its toll on him. Not to mention this person isn't exactly gone.

Max and Eli end up meeting in an old lighthouse right before the hurricane is about to hit. Both have their own reasons for being at that lighthouse it neither wants to share or budge. Then, a group of holy-rollers show up and crap goes down. This leads Max and Eli into the belly of the monster and straight into the mouth of the storm. But Max needs to get something that was stolen whether it means living or dying. Eli goes along because he is just a nice guy with no sense of self preservation.

So, after trying to get her lost possession back, that is where the meat and potatoes of the story really starts and it gets pretty good. They have to try and escape with their lives and it's not as easy as you might thing when crazies and a storm are chasing you.

The only thing that I disliked about the book was the duel perspectives.  Normally I love those types of books but this duel perspective actually switched from first person to third person and it tripped me up a couple times.

In the end, this book was very enjoyable but very different from what I was expecting. I guess I wasn't expecting the whole religious experience/cult insanity. It wasn't bad, don't get me wrong, just wasn't prepared for that level of nutcrackers.

Overall, I gave the book 4/5 stars.

1) What was your inspiration for writing Into the Hurricane?
Between 1993 and 2010, I lived in Louisiana and North Carolina.  During those years, I had to evacuate a half dozen times because of hurricanes. On those cramped highways heading out of town, every now and then I’d see a single car going in the opposite direction, and I always wondered what would compel someone to head into a natural disaster.  That idea incubated a long time till it came to life in the characters in this book.

2) Do you own any pets? If yes, what kind and what are their names?
I live with my wife, our two sons, and a cute white dog named Muffin.  She’s a cockapoo we think (as a rescued dog, we’re not sure).  Muffin likes to keep me company when I write.

3) If you were given the chance to live on Mars, but you could never come back to Earth, would you do it?
While I like the notion of a grand adventure, I think I’ll leave that to my characters.  Besides, I’d miss too many of the things I love, like coffee and air.

4) What are five random facts about you?
1.      I’m the last of ten children.  (8 older sisters!)
2.      I still like playing with Legos.
3.      As a teen, I worked at a comic book shop.
4.      I do yoga (badly, yes).
5.      I still love teaching after 24 years in the classroom.

5) If you could pick any of your characters to bring to life, who would you pick and why?
That’s a hard question.  All of my main characters still have lives, so far as I know.  Like old friends I’ve lost track of, in my mind they have continued to age and change and grow.  But in my first book, there was a character named Nathan Looby who committed suicide.  When I wrote and rewrote that scene, he looked at me with such pleading and desperate eyes.  I guess, if given such a power, I’d bring Nathan to life, mostly because I feel so guilty about killing him in the first place.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

REVIEW: The Secret History of Us by Jessi Kirby - 3.5 stars

Posted by Jenn Christensen at 10:00 AM 0 comments
Title: The Secret History of Us
Genre: YA Contemporary
Author: Jessi Kirby
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication: August 1st 2017
Cover Rating: 3/5

When we are little, we are taught right from wrong, or at least most of us are. It is right to tell someone the truth. It is wrong to make someone believe things that aren't true. The Secret History of Us is a perfect example of right and wrong. 

Liv was in a bad car accident. Her car ended up at the bottom of a body of water and she couldn't get out. Someone saved her, barely. She ends up in the hospital and is in a coma. When she wakes up, everything is different. Her last few years are missing and she doesn't recognize her boyfriend or understand what happened with her other best friend. It's scary but Liv has to figure out how to accept this and go back to living her life. But it's kind of hard to accept things when the people you trust the most are deceiving you.

Matt was a *beep* and a coward. Then we have Paige, Liv's 'best' friend. The fact that she could be in cahoots with Matt and KNEW the horrible truth about him and Liv just makes her scum in my eyes. I have no idea what the two of them were even trying to accomplish aside from Matt getting a fresh start when he screwed everything up. He didn't deserve a second chance let alone a fresh start with Liv. 

We get a good bit of backstory with this book considering Liv is actually, in a sense, living in the past.  One thing I was really hoping to learn was what happened with Walker when him and Liv were younger and how that connects to him seeming like a drifter living on a boat. I feel like his story and their connections were not touched on enough even though it was a pretty large part of the story line. 

In the end, I was pissed that Liv's 'best friend' and 'boyfriend' did what they did to her but I was happy she found her own place in the world and her own happiness without other people trying to tell her who she was. It sure is scary to think that you have no idea who you can trust and who will take advantage of a situation like the one Liv was in. 

Overall, I gave the book 3.5/5 stars.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Upcoming Release: Wicked Like a Wildfire by Lana Popovic - August 15th

Posted by Jenn Christensen at 11:34 PM 0 comments

REVIEW: The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman - Valeria

Posted by Jenn Christensen at 10:00 AM 0 comments

Goodreads Description:
Sussex, England. A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother. He hasn't thought of Lettie in decades, and yet as he sits by the pond (a pond that she'd claimed was an ocean) behind the ramshackle old farmhouse, the unremembered past comes flooding back. And it is a past too strange, too frightening, too dangerous to have happened to anyone, let alone a small boy.

Forty years earlier, a man committed suicide in a stolen car at this farm at the end of the road. Like a fuse on a firework, his death lit a touchpaper and resonated in unimaginable ways. The darkness was unleashed, something scary and thoroughly incomprehensible to a little boy. And Lettie—magical, comforting, wise beyond her years—promised to protect him, no matter what.

A groundbreaking work from a master, The Ocean at the End of the Lane is told with a rare understanding of all that makes us human, and shows the power of stories to reveal and shelter us from the darkness inside and out. It is a stirring, terrifying, and elegiac fable as delicate as a butterfly's wing and as menacing as a knife in the dark.

The book reminded me a bit of Coraline in the aspect of creepiness surrounding kids. Not kid s themselves but things happening to them.

The things happening him as child were just so harsh but that is just the reality of things at times, and THAT is what pissed me off, that some parents would actually do things like that. The story could be a bit hard to follow at times and I don't know if this was because as a young kid he couldn't understand them himself or if this had to do with the writing in the book itself. This was my first Neil Gaiman book so I have nothing to compare it to yet, there is a long waiting list for his books so I will have to get back to you all on that. 
After a while I had actually forgot that there was a present and that there was a funeral which added to my confusion. 
The book was creepy in the part that this is a fear targeted more towards adults, things that if kids read it they wouldnt be as creeped out by it as we would be. Like Coraline, which by the way is also written by Gaiman, its has the aspect of your family not being your family, and as soon as you don't accept that, shit will go wrong.

Recommend it?
Yeah, it was enjoyable, a tad creepy and even though I was a tad confused at like 3 parts of the book, I still really dug it

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