Saturday, June 24, 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

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Author Spotlight: In a Perfect World by Trish Doller + Interview

Posted by Jenn Christensen at 4:30 PM 0 comments

I have been writing for as long as I can remember, but didn't try to be a published author until more recently, something for which everyone should be thankful.

I was born in Berlin, Germany (when there was still a wall), but grew up in Ohio and graduated with a degree in journalism from Ohio State University. I've worked as a radio personality on a morning show and as a journalist for my hometown newspaper. Along the way, I married someone really awesome and followed him around the country from Maine to Michigan and back to Ohio. We also had a couple of kids who have grown into outstanding human beings.
These days I live, work, and sail in Florida with a relentlessly optimist border collie and an ex-pirate, but have dreams of running away to Grenada and never coming back.

For more information, or to follow any of her social media accounts please check out her website here.

Title: In a Perfect World
Genre: Contemporary YA
Author: Trish Doller
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication: May 23rd 2017
Cover Rating: 5/5

Contemporary books are the one genre that I am ruthless with when it comes to rating. There are just so many books and it's hard to find any that truly stand out among the ranks. It's not that any of the books are bad or the authors are horrible, no, it's because there are only so many ways you can twist a contemporary story before it becomes impossible to tell a story that hasn't been told. Going in to In A Perfect World, I was afraid I wouldn't love the book. I know the author is amazing but I always go into contemporary books with a little apprehension. The book is set in Egypt so that was another thing that worried me. Would it be written well? Would I even like reading about someone's life after moving to Egypt? Turns out, I liked the book a whole lot and the author did an amazing job, at least I think she did, on this book.

Her mom - An Opthamologist
Her dad - A tug boat driver
Hannah - Best Friend
Adam - Romantic Interest
Owen - Ex BF

The overall plot of the book is pretty simplistic. Caroline's mother gets offered her dream job for a company that provides eye care in places where medical facilities aren't very common or affordable. Caroline will spend her summer and her senior year in Egypt learning a new culture and getting to know new people. The last thing she expected to find in Egypt is love. Especially in a place where women are treated so horribly and it is forbidden to love outside of your religion/belief system. So, you better bet your butt I was rooting for this relationship to work out. The love interest was such a great guy. He introduced Caroline to all the wonderful parts of his life and he showed her that even though there is so much violence, there is also beauty.

There is a lot of violence and unrest amoung the Islamic population so things like suicide bombings and car bombings are very common things that happen to American health facilities. Events like this are what end up putting Caroline's future at risk.

I feel like the author definitely did her homework with this book. I, personally, knew nothing about Muslin and Islamic culture or their beliefs other than what the media has told me. I am not very big on news so I take everything with a grain of salt. But the way the author wrote this book helped me to understand things a little bit better. Example being; I had no idea Egyptian's were Muslim. I also had no idea Islam was as old as it is(this part coming more from the fact that I did some history googling while reading the book). My ignorance has become a tad bit smaller after reading this book and I truly appreciate the author doing such a good job bringing the culture to life. This book definitely opened my eyes up to the horrible things that happened every day in this world. It has left a lasting impression in my mind and I am grateful for that. 

World Building:
I never thought I would want to visit Egypt. When I was young I had an Egyptian Sunday School teacher. Her name was Mrs. Mona and I loved her so very much. I think growing up with her helped me be more accepting of different cultures and just people in general. Reading this book and having the author describe everything so vividly made me remember the stories Ms. Mona used to tell me and it made me miss her dearly. The author really brought Egypt to life for me and I felt like I was there when Caroline and her mother went to the pyramids for the first time. When the author spoke of the heat and smells I felt the heat and smelled the scents. 

In the end, this book broke my heart and then put it back together. It also educated me

Overall, I gave the book 4.5/5 stars.

1) What are 5 random facts about you?

1. I eat my m&ms by color preference, least to best: blue, brown, red, yellow, green, orange.
2. My favorite movie is "In America".
3. If I had to eat only one thing for the rest of my life, it would be sushi.
4. The only other language I can speak is German. Not well, but I'm practicing.
5. I am INFP on the Myers-Briggs and most people are surprised to find out that I am an introvert.

2) If you weren't an author, what would your dream job be?

I think I'd like to be a docent in a natural history or an art museum. There's not much, if any, money in that, but money's never been my primary objective anyway.

3) Have you been to Egypt?

I haven't, but it's on my list of travel destinations. 

4) What is your favorite book in the entire world?

 My favorite book is Raw Blue by Kirsty Eagar. I own both the US and UK versions, as well as the ebook version, and I read it at least once a year.

5) How many books have you written in total and which one was you favorite to write? 

I've written six books in total, four of which have been published. The first was trunked after it didn't sell, making Something Like Normal my debut. Between The Devil You Know and In a Perfect World, I wrote an adult novel, which has been my favorite (so far) to write. I don't know if it will ever be published, but I hope so.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

REVIEW: The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher - Valeria

Posted by Jenn Christensen at 12:00 PM 0 comments

Goodreads Description:
The Princess Diarist is Carrie Fisher’s intimate, hilarious and revealing recollection of what happened behind the scenes on one of the most famous film sets of all time, the first Star Wars movie. 

When Carrie Fisher recently discovered the journals she kept during the filming of the first Star Wars movie, she was astonished to see what they had preserved—plaintive love poems, unbridled musings with youthful naiveté, and a vulnerability that she barely recognized. Today, her fame as an author, actress, and pop-culture icon is indisputable, but in 1977, Carrie Fisher was just a (sort-of) regular teenager. 

With these excerpts from her handwritten notebooks, The Princess Diarist is Fisher’s intimate and revealing recollection of what happened on one of the most famous film sets of all time—and what developed behind the scenes. And today, as she reprises her most iconic role for the latest Star Wars trilogy, Fisher also ponders the joys and insanity of celebrity, and the absurdity of a life spawned by Hollywood royalty, only to be surpassed by her own outer-space royalty. Laugh-out-loud hilarious and endlessly quotable, The Princess Diarist brims with the candor and introspection of a diary while offering shrewd insight into the type of stardom that few will ever experience.

It is creepy to see Carrie writing about the worth of her autographs posts death and how people would treat her things. She was so right, but that is to be expected, how many times have people not seen this happen, but the fact that this was published so close to her death. THAT is creepy. 
It shocked me to read her interactions with fans, she was never rude, but it makes me question how were you NOT ever rude. The things some people do. 
The famous metal bikini of COURSE is talked about and the effect it had in her life, or rather what effect Leia had in her life all together.

The book goes a great deal into Carrison and her inner thoughts about Carrison. 

Not going to lie, when I first watched Star Wars, and had no internet access, it was Han and Leia forever, even in real life, to me, they were married. When I found the cold hard truth, I wished so much that they were secretly in love with each other. I would see their pictures and get a little sad that they weren't. They then became friendship goals. 

But that is also a whole nother issue that Carrie sets straight.
The Princess Diarist starts off with her previous work before Star Wars as well as her audition and her first days on set, of course, talking about the buns. 

Carrie then goes into how the affair started, the first night, how she got to that point and her inner thoughts as well as how their relationship was handled on set and her inner conflicts and confusions about what had happened and what would happen afterwards.

A good portion of the book is just about her and Harrison, about the affair, but more importantly how that affected her as the affair went on, she knew that the affair wouldnt go any further than the initial 3 months, and that they weren't going to be together afterwards, that it was all fleeting. Yet a small part of her still dreamed and wished, and that is what affected her so much about it. 
She talks a lot about how his personality was, even when it wasn't directed towards her and particularly when he was and her theories on that aspect, her friendship with his afterwards was never a question, and wondered how their friendship would've been different if they HADN'T been together. Or if they HAD but for good. 

Lastly, she briefly mentions how life wouldve been different, had it been Mark all along.

The book gives the perfect closure to fans that we didn't know we would need, it was sad to read the final pages, it had a bitter sweet ending that is even more bitter now more than ever.

Recommend it?

Monday, June 19, 2017

REVIEW: Twisted by Hannah Jayne - 3.5 stars

Posted by Jenn Christensen at 10:00 AM 0 comments
Title: Twisted
Genre: YA Thriller
Author: Hannah Jayne
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Publication: July 5th 2016
Cover Rating: 5/5

I LOVE murder/mystery books. Before I got into the whole Young Adult book scene all I read was crime novels. Patricia Cornwall was my favorite. I originally picked up Hannah Jaynes books because she was supposed to be at a big book signing I go to each yeah. She ended up not being there so I kind of pushed her books to the back burner. Then a few days ago I decided to read Twisted. Problem was, I didn't own the physical book, I was going to read the ebook from my library but I would still need a physical copy for my collection. So yesterday, I bought a copy. I sat down today and the book was done in three hours.

Bex used to be Beth Anne, the daughter of an accused serial killer, The Wife Collector. She was sent to live with her grandmother for ten years and everything was fine. Until her grandmother died. Bex was still a minor so she was put in the system and she ended up being adopted by a really nice couple from KillDevilHills. But her father was never caught and now women are dying around her and they all have her fathers signature. Bex needs to decide whether she thinks her dad is guilty or if he was framed. Sometimes, the love between a father and daughter is beyond comprehension. But will that love cause Bex to forfeit the new life she has? Or will she step up and protect her new friends and family? Blood ties are very strange thing.

Bex/Beth Anne
Adoptive Parents(Denise+Michael)
Detective Schuster
The Wife Collector
School friends
Tyler - boyfriend

I was okay with all of the characters in the book. They all had their purpose and all seemed to be developed enough to have different personalities. The two female friends of Bex, Chelsea and Lauren were the only characters that just seemed like your every day, copy and paste, teenage girls.

Bex was a pretty straightforward character. She wanted to get on with her life but a big part of her still loved her father and thought he might be innocent. She was a bit naive but by the end of the book I don't think she will even be naive again.

The couple that adopted Bex were pretty awesome. Bex got extremely lucky to find parents that wanted her despite her being seventeen.

Tyler was one of those perfect boyfriends and Bex seriously deserve that. He was just so sweet and there was even a lettermans jacket involved. Very old school but still holds romantic value.

I feel like the detective and the serial killer had a pretty close personality. I actually could have believed the plot twist that was handed to us right before the end of the book. But they say you have to think like a killer to catch one. Kind of creepy but at least the good guy was who he was supposed to be.

World Building:
None was needed as the book took place in the present day in North Carolina.

In the end, I felt rather let down. This really awesome story and build up climaxed within five pages and I was just caught off guard. How could this amazing book just end in five pages? No information about how Chelsea was. No information about what happened to the Wife Collector. Just wam-bam-thank-you-ma'am. The book was still good but that ending docked an entire star. No I am kind of weary about reading her other books. I will probably pick up one and if that ends as quickly as Twisted did then I will probably not read her books again.

Also... what happened with Lauren? There were just way too many loose ends and unanswered questions.

Overall, I gave the book 3.5/5 stars.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Old, Unposted Review: Thicker Than Water by Kelly Fiore

Posted by Jenn Christensen at 11:00 AM 0 comments
Title: Thicker Than Water
Author: Kelly Fiore
Publisher: Harper Teen
Publication: January 5th 2016
Cover Rating: 5/5

Going into Thicker Than Water, I knew it was going to be a little hard. I grew up knowing I had an older brother that wasn't such a good person. I always wanted to have a relationship with him but after reading this book I am kind of glad he wasn't a big part of my life. This book would probably be hard for anyone to read but it is definitely worth it.

Cici is a very strong character. She wasn't strong before all of this crap happened but she became strong by the end of the book. She changed and it was a good change. It is sad that it took THIS kind of event to change everything though. She was a product of her brothers addiction. The entire family was. I just wish she could have gotten out of that life in a different way than how she did. She was a good student, good daughter and overall, a good person. It is sad to see what someone else's actions can do to another person.

Cyrus was horrible. Some of the flash backs Cici had with him were okay, he was a good brother sometimes. It just seemed like he was a bad brother more, even before the knee injury and the drugs. He just didn't see right to me. Cici wanted to believe he had been a good brother but the things we were told about Cyrus just didn't portray a good brother. 

Cici got lucky with being sent to the "hospital" instead of the actual jail portion. She got a chance to change her life and try to get over this entire situation. At first she was a bitch about everything. She would push people away and treat everyone terribly. She had pretty much given up on life and said, multiple times, that she has no future so why try to get better? It was so sad to see just how far Cici fell into the hole. 

The father was blind. He had lost one wife and the other one was becoming distant. He was losing his farm and just couldn't believe that his precious son could be screwing everyone over. I also can't believe he didn't go to visit Cici and just pretty much told her that he had no more children. Who does that?! 

There was actually romance in the book. I found that to be kind of strange. But the fact that the guy was a lot like her brother made some sort of sense. I just hope it doesn't have the same outcome. 

I can't believe the trial. The Lawyer, I can't remember his name but it was douchey, tried to paint a picture where Cici was this horrendous person who murdered her brother. He made it seem like she held a gun to Cyrus's head and just shot him and walked away without a care. It was horrible and I wanted to jump through the book and slap that guy. I know its his job, I know... But the perfect picture he painted for Cyrus was so sickening. I would have refused the case if I had to make a dead drug addict look like an angel.

In the end, I don't think the ruling was fair, at all. Yes, she was dealing drugs. But she didn't kill her brother. She TRUSTED him and that is what ultimately got her into the position she was in. She trusted Cyrus and she trusted her father. 

Overall, I gave the book 4.5/5 stars.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

RE-READ REVIEW: This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab - 5 stars

Posted by Jenn Christensen at 11:00 AM 0 comments
Title: This Savage Song
Genre: Dystopian Paranormal YA
Author: Victoria Schwab
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Publication: July 5th 2016
Cover Rating: 5/5

I read This Savage Song in 2016 right around Christmastime. It was weird, unique, gory and so many other things. I loved it! Loved it so very, very much. I was honestly scared that it wouldn't live up to my love of The Archived, by the same author, but it did. It's not better. I like them on the same level for what they are and I was so excited to have another series from Victoria Schwab that I could love.

Kate Harker
Father Harker
August Flynn
Father and mother Flynn
Brother and sister Flynn
A bunch of high school kids
Monsters, monsters, everywhere

My favorite character would have to be Ilsa Flynn. She wasn't all there in the head it seemed but she was such a mystery and I just loved her presence. Plus she is fantastic at naming cats.

The world has been reduced to almost rubble but from the rubble, monsters rise. Monsters are born when a violent act occurs. Some monsters are born from a shooting, others from mass bombings. The type of monster depends on the severity of the act. The are 3 tiers:

Corsai - They will eat you
Malchai - They are some form of Vampire
Sunai- They can steal your soul and leave you dead with just a simple melody

Each monster has its own way of killing its victims. The Sunai being the most inventive. They play a certain melody and it allows for your soul to be taken. It is such an interesting concept. The other two monsters just seemed like a basic monster mode. Each of these monsters hate each other and with the humans involved, war is just around the corner.

After reading this book for a second time I finally realized that it is, somewhat, a Romeo and a Juliet retelling. It is extremely obvious to me now, but how did I read this book the first time without noticing that? There wasn't anything romance related in the book but Harker and Flynn are from opposite sides of a world where war is inevitable. The story is told in a back and forth form from August to Kate and I really enjoyed being able to view the story from both of their view points.

World Building:
Victoria Schwab is a genius when it comes to making a world for her characters to live in. The place used in the book is real but it was turned into a dystopian wasteland where monsters and men worse than monsters ruled everything. I can't wait to see where she takes us in the next book, which happens to be the final book and I'm not sure if I want it to end!

In the end, Victoria Schwab(my iPad keeps changing her last name to Schwartz) has now earned a place on my favorites shelf along with a place in my heart and on my auto-buy authors list. Now I just need to find the courage to attempt to read her adult books. I am afraid that her adult writing will be vastly different from her YA writing and I really don't want my love of her to be altered in any way. Such a tough decision will need to be made.

Overall, I gave the book 5/5 stars.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

REVIEW: Wires and Nerve by Marissa Meyer - Valeria

Posted by Jenn Christensen at 12:00 PM 0 comments

Goodreads Description:
The first graphic novel from #1 NewYork Times and USA Today bestseller Marissa Meyer!
In her first graphic novel, bestselling author Marissa Meyer extends the world of the Lunar Chronicles with a brand-new,action-packed story about Iko, the android with a heart of (mechanized) gold.When rogue packs of wolf-hybrid soldiers threaten the tenuous peace alliance between Earth and Luna, Iko takes it upon herself to hunt down the soldiers' leader. She is soon working with a handsome royal guard who forces her to question everything she knows about love, loyalty, and her own humanity. With appearances by Cinder, Cress, Scarlet, Winter, and the rest of the Rampion crew, this is a must-have for fans of the bestselling series.

It is the perfect thing to move on to after finishing the series, it is exactly what all fans needed to continue on with these characters. I was scared that this series would feel different than The Lunar Chronicles but fans will be relieved to find that it is not. 
It has been a while since I read the original series but this one reminded me why I loved the series much and I of course have the need to read the original series once again and dive head first into the world. This book reminded me why I love Marissa Meyer so much. I could see the book as if it was a TV show, what with Ikos commentary on the characters and such. I just.. I still cant. I loved the book, that is all I can say.

Recommend it?

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