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My Summer 2015 Reading List + ARC Giveaway

image (5)Summer is upon us! Well, not exactly. I still have a few days left before school ends but hey, that’s not the point. Summer is the perfect time to catch up on reading and I’m definitely planning to plow through a few books in the next several months.

I am generally a mood reader, but I’ve been experimenting with monthly TBRs recently, and I’ve decided to make myself one for the summer. It is pretty loose (only 10 books) and I won’t be partaking in any specific reading challenges. These are just a few books that I’d like to read over the summer.

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1. Legacy of Kings by Eleanor Herman

I’m a huge fan of Alexander the Great, and I love the idea of a story about his life. The author had also written lots of historical non-fiction as well, so I am expecting Legacy of Kings to be very detail-oriented as well, which should be cool! I also met the author during BEA, and she is super sweet.

2. Girl of Fire And Thorns by Rae Carson

I bought this one at the Strand bookstore in NYC a few days before BEA, hoping I could read it in time for the Rae Carson’s signing of her upcoming book on Friday. That didn’t happen, but I can still read it now! Also, the cover is really pretty.

3. The White Rose by Amy Ewing

I didn’t love The Jewel, but I still enjoyed it enough to pick up the sequel! I’m a series-finisher, I confess. I’m excited to get back into this series, and hopefully learn more about the world it is set it (one of my favorite parts of The Jewel).

4. The Rest Of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness

I confess, I haven’t read anything by Patrick Ness before, although I know people who are absolutely love his work. I’ve heard this one involves a character with anxiety (is this true?) and I cannot wait to read it!

5. Nowhere by Here by Katie McGarry

I have been told that I need to have Katie McGarry’s books in my life, so I’m finally going to read my first one! I met the author at BEA, and she was lovely as well.

image (6)6. Nil by Lynne Matson

The tagline on Nil is what initially caught my eye: “How do you escape from an island that doesn’t exist?” First of all, what does that mean? Second of all, how soon can I read it?

7. Walk On Earth A Stranger by Rae Carson

Yes! Another Rae Carson novel! I can’t wait. I love the concept of a girl with the ability to sense gold, and that it is set during the Gold Rush just makes it even more appealing.

8. Tonight The Streets Are Ours by Leila Sales

I haven’t read Leila’s debut, This Song Will Save Your Life, but I’ve heard enough about her writing to be almost certain I will love this book. Plus, it is about a blogger! How cool is that?

9. Never Always Sometimes by Adi Alsaid

Again, I haven’t read this author’s debut, but I am still very excited for Never Always Sometimes. I’ve been trying to read more contemporary novels, and this look like a perfect summer read.

10. The Diviners by Libba Bray

I have a copy of Lair of Dreams sitting on my bookshelf, but I need to read the first book in the series before I read the sequel! I love that it is set in the 1920s as well.

Giveaway:

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Up for grabs: The Accident Season by Moira Fowley Doyle, The Witch Hunter by Virginia Boecker, Daughter of Deep Silence by Carrie Ryan, and Tiny Pretty Things by Sona Chaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton.

What better way to kick off summer than to win some free books? I’m offering up a summer prize pack of 4 YA novels. All are in ARC format, and are either already released, or will be out within the next few weeks. I’ve already read (and adored) all of them, and I would love for a lucky reader to have the opportunity to read them as well. 🙂

Here are the rules:

  • Open to US/ Canada readers ONLY.
  • I reserve the right to disqualify any entry.
  • Winners must reply to my email within 72 hours, or the prize will be given to someone else.
  • No cheating!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

{Contest} Tiny Pretty Things

Today I have a very special giveaway for you from the publisher: ARCs of Tiny Pretty Things by Dhonielle Clayton and Sona Charaipotra. It releases May 28th 2015 from Harperteen, and is fantastic. I will have a full review up later.

About the book:

tinyAuthors: Dhonielle Clayton, Sona Charaipotra

Publisher: Harperteen

Release Date: May 28th, 2015

Black Swan meets Pretty Little Liars in this soapy, drama-packed debut novel featuring diverse characters who will do anything to be the prima at their elite ballet school.

Gigi, Bette, and June, three top students at an exclusive Manhattan ballet school, have seen their fair share of drama. Free-spirited new girl Gigi just wants to dance—but the very act might kill her. Privileged New Yorker Bette’s desire to escape the shadow of her ballet star sister brings out a dangerous edge in her. And perfectionist June needs to land a lead role this year or her controlling mother will put an end to her dancing dreams forever. When every dancer is both friend and foe, the girls will sacrifice, manipulate, and backstab to be the best of the best.

Goodreads | B&N | Indiebound | Amazon

Why was I excited to read Tiny Pretty Things?

1. I really like the cover of Tiny Pretty Things! It’s very simplistic, and the font is absolutely beautiful.

2. Diversity isn’t super common in fiction (although I’ve noticed it is becoming more and more common!) and Tiny Pretty Things has characters who come from a variety of backgrounds and ethnicities. June is Korean, and Gigi is African-American, which is fantastic!

3.  I love the concept of an “elite ballet academy.” I am a huge fan of boarding school novels, and I think TPT is a great twist on that.

4. The characters sound very interesting! It’s told from the perspectives of 3 girls: June, Bette, and Gigi. Multiple perspectives are super cool, when done well, and I was very excited for this element!

Want to win?

Here’s your chance! Enter using the Rafflecopter below. This giveaway is US only, please! Thanks so much to the publisher for hosting, and to Kate for organizing.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Hey! It’s My Blogoversary! (+ Giveaway)

hey

As of today, I’ve officially been blogging for 2 years! 2 years, PEOPLE! Today’s post is likely to be quite long, because there are so many people I want to thank and lots of things I want to talk about. Let’s get this party started!

When I started blogging, I had absolutely no clue what I was getting into. My first blog was called Young Writers Café, and it was dedicated to my writing. I definitely wasn’t a pro (and I’m still not!) but I’m glad I had that experience. I learned a lot about things that, looking back, should have been pretty basic, like scheduling posts and replying to comments. YWC also helped me develop a blogging schedule that works for me! Eventually though, my blogging focus changed and I started talking more about books and less about writing. The book blogging community grew to suit me more and so last year, for my 1st blogoversary, I moved my blog to WordPress self-hosted and changed its name to Bookish Serendipity.

And so, Bookish Serendipity has been my online home for the past year. I love it here! Over the past year, I got a custom blog design (courtesy of the amazing Zoe), learned some coding, and made some great new friends, as well as learned a lot about how to run a good blog. I’ve really enjoyed the blogging experience, and hopefully I will be able to celebrate my 3rd blogoversary next year in 2016!

Blogging milestones/ other awesome things

I wanted to take the chance to highlight a few of the amazing things that have happened to me because of blogging. Be it meeting an author, or attending an industry event, or just hitting a certain stats milestone, I am so incredibly happy that all these things have happened.

1. OLA! In January, I attended the OLA Superconference to help out at the booth of author Cheryl Skory Suma! This was such a fun event, and it was great to go home with some newfound knowledge about the publishing industry. Cheryl is so kind for allowing me to come, and I can’t thank her enough!

2. 200+ posts! According to my stats, I’ve published 238 posts here at Bookish Serendipity (this number is likely to be higher by the time this post goes up, because I’m writing it ahead of time!). Since my posts tend to be between 600-700 words each, that means I’ve written 154,700 words in total, or 3 entire novels! That’s quite impressive for me. 🙂

3. Quotes! My reviews have been quoted several places (although not inside an actual book), such as pamphlets, on author websites, and even in the Editorial section of a book’s Amazon page, in the same section as Booklist and Quill & Quire.

4. 1000+ Comments! According to my stats, I’ve received a thousand and seventy-two (1072) comments! Wow! I never expected to receive that many comments on my little corner of the Internet, and I am so thankful to everyone who has taken the time to read my posts and share their thoughts.

Most Popular Posts:

Here are a few of my most popular posts from the past two years…

  • My review of Loot by Jude Watson is my most popular post ever! I’m not sure why since this wasn’t necessarily an outstanding review, and it was published pretty far back, but it still gets quite a few hits a month.
  • In December, I interviewed several ’15 debuts about their upcoming novels. I’m so happy that this post is one of my most popular!
  • My guide to ARCs also received quite a few hits, which I’m not entirely surprised about. I had had several people ask me about it, and it does seem to be a popular topic!

Shout-Outs

If you’ve taken the time to read my posts, to talk about them, to tell someone about Bookish Serendipity, to reply to my comments on your blog, to chat with me on Goodreads, or to recommend a book to me–thank you! YOU ARE AWESOME. There are a few people I’d like to thank in particular for a) taking the time to chat with me b) being a role model, or c) just being plain awesome. I’m probably going to totally miss someone so if I forget you, don’t worry!

In no particular order…

Ana @ Butterflies Of The Imagination. Ana, you are so awesome. You’ve commented on pretty much every post I’ve written, so THANK YOU. Besides your amazing commenting skills, you’re also an all-around nice person and I love your blog. Thank you so much!

Claire @ Cover To Cover. Go Neon Popcorn Kernels (I think?)! I’ve only known your for a few months, but I am so glad that I got to know you, and I cannot wait to meet you at BEA (hopefully). I promise, I will read Harry Potter soon!

Maisha @ Books Equal Awesomeness. I don’t read your posts often enough but your posts are always so fun, and you always manage to have great content. We don’t chat too often, but I do love talking with you about books!

Fari @ My Little Corner For Books. You are such a great person to fangirl with! ALL THE CAPS, PEOPLE! You also have impeccable taste in books, and your reviews are always super fun.

Chloe @ The Book Hugger. Chloe, we’ve known each other for ages, and I’m so glad I met you! Not only are you an awesome person, but we also have similar tastes in books, and I can always trust you for an honest review. I always love hearing about what you’re writing as well!

Emily @ For The Bookish. Emily! I adore your blog design, and I always love reading your blog! Your posts are always so thoughtful, and I love waking up and seeing another FTB post in my feed. 🙂

Nova @ Out Of Time. You’re the first blogger I met in real life, and thank you for such a fun experience! You’re awesome, and I love your hair as well!

There are so many other people I want to thank! Here are a few other people I wanted to mention but then realized halfway through that this post was already super long: Cynthia @ Book Binges, Ally @ The Scribbling Sprite,  Kara @ Diary Of A Teen Writer, Daisy @ A Bookish Flower, Emily @ Loony Literate, and Cait @ Paper Fury. I’d also like to thank all the lovely writers and publicists who have put up with me for the past two years! I’m probably forgetting someone…

Giveaway:

Because y’all are so awesome, I’ve decided to do a little giveaway for one (1) book off your wishlist. To enter, just fill out the Rafflecopter form below and include a link to your Goodreads to-reads shelf/ wishlist, or a few books that you’re interested in, and we’re all ready to go! This giveaway is US/ Canada only. No cheating, please!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 That’s a wrap! Thank you to everyone who has supported me over these past 2 years, and I can’t wait to talk to you more in the future!

Interview With Sarah McGuire, author of Valiant (+ Giveaway)

I’m participating in the Egmont Last List hop hosted by Cuddlebuggery. Learn more about it here. I’m a huge fan of many of their books, and I’m so sad that Egmont is closing.

I am however, thrilled to bring you an interview with Sarah McGuire, author of Valiant, a retelling of The Brave Little Tailor. I’ve already read (and LOVED) this book, and it is definitely one to pre-order. Keep your eyes peeled for a review closer to the pub. date in April!

About Valiant:

valiantA debut fairy tale retelling featuring a strong female character and a daring quest just right for fans of Shannon Hale, Jessica Day George, and Gail Carson Levine.

Saville despises the bolts of velvet and silk that her father loves- he’s always prized them more than he’s ever loved her. Yet when he’s struck ill, she’ll do anything for him to survive, even donning boys’ clothes and begging a commission to sew for the king.

Piecing together a fine coat is far simpler than unknotting court gossip about an army of giants led by a man who cannot be defeated. And they’re marching toward Reggen to seize the throne. But Saville knows giants are just stories, and no man is immortal.

Then she meets them, two scouts as tall as trees. She tricks them into leaving, but tales of the daring tailor’s triumph quickly spin into impossible feats of giant-slaying. And mere stories won’t deter the Duke and his larger-than-life army. Now only a courageous and clever tailor girl can see beyond the rumors to save the kingdom again.

Valiant richly reimagines “The Brave Little Tailor,” transforming it into a story of understanding, identity, and fighting to protect those you love most.

About Sarah:

sarSarah McGuire lives within sight of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, where she teaches high school creative writing and math classes with interesting word problems. Her debut novel, Valiant, will release from Egmont USA in April 2015. Find her on Twitter, Goodreads, or on her website.

Interview:

  •  Valiant is a retelling of The Brave Little Tailor. What inspired you to retell this story, and write Valiant?

I was getting ready to start a new novel for a workshop, and I knew I wanted it to be a retelling. So I pulled Grimm’s from the bookshelf and started looking through it. I reread many tales that I liked, but kept thinking about the Brave Little Tailor (which I had skipped over) because it was one of my least favorite stories. I never liked how the tailor tricked the stupid giants. It seemed kind of cruel to me- like a calculus teacher taunting kindergarteners about not knowing all their math facts. Then, I started wondering what would happen if the tailor was a girl. Because suddenly I knew she’d be girl … and then I knew I had to write this story.

•Could you share a little bit about your path to publication?

I decided in 2006 that I wanted to take writing seriously. So I joined SCBWI, found a critique group, and got to work. I spent years working on a story- a retelling of Cinderella. Every time I learned some new aspect of writing– scenes, characterization, etc– I’d go back through the entire novel and revise. After a while, I felt confident that I could craft good individual chapters, but I was still struggling with how to structure a novel. So I applied to the Nevada SCBWI Mentor Program, and Harold Underdown chose me as one of his mentees! Over the next months, I learned a lot about how to fix the sagging middle. But after I’d done everything I could, I realized it was time to move on and apply everything I’d learned to something new. It wasn’t a traumatic decision– I was ready to move on. To keep my resolve to leave the old story behind, I joined a fantasy workshop with Patti Gauch in May 2012.

I wrote VALIANT over the summer, revised it based on Patti’s feedback, and sent it out to two wonderful agents on the deadline I’d given myself: Valentine’s Day 2013. In the end, both agents offered representation, and I signed with Tracey Adams at Adams Literary two months later. I did yet another round of revision on VALIANT, and then Tracey sent it out for submission. The lovely Alison Weiss (then at Egmont USA) bought VALIANT the first day of the school. (I might have been a slightly distracted teacher that day!)

If you only look at VALIANT, the road seems easy, but I’m absolutely convinced that all the work from the earlier novel made VALIANT possible. And this road isn’t finished! As you know, Egmont USA closed, so I’ll be finding a new home for my writing all over again- there is yet another bend in this road to publication.

• Saville is a great main character! How do you think you are similar to/ different from her? What would you do in her situation?

Oh, I’m so glad you liked Saville!

Saville typically says the things she wants to the first time around- which isn’t a bit like me! (I think that’s one reason I became a writer. It was a chance to “fix” all those conversations where I couldn’t figure out what to say until 3 hours later.) But one characteristic we DO share is that we take care of our own: our families and the people we love. I’m the oldest of four siblings, so maybe it’s the older sister issues on steroids. In fact, I loosely based one scene in the book on a time my siblings and I were outside playing baseball on the street in front of our house. I was fourteen, and I looked over and saw a seventeen year old raise a baseball bat over my six year old little brother. I still don’t remember charging across the road or what I said– I was that furious– but it never happened again.

What would I do in Saville’s situation? I’d definitely take care of Will, and I’d try to save the city, but I doubt I’d be half so witty or self-possessed. 🙂

• Do you have a specific place you like to write? What does your writing routine look like?

I’m a high school teacher with a busy schedule, so I write whenever I can. If there is any constant in it, it’s coffee. And that I try to draft new work over the summer when I have more time to immerse myself in the story. Much of VALIANT was written over the summer of 2012–I’d plant myself on my little sofa and just write. (There’s actually a dent in the sofa cushion.)

During the school year, I like to write at the local Barnes and Noble cafe. It’s a place where I can step away from everything else I need to do and just work. Besides, it’s a bit inspiring to write and wonder if your book will ever be on those shelves. When I have a deadline, I might take a nap when I get home from work, then take care of grading and lesson plans. After that, I write or revise– and I might work on that till well after midnight.

Giveaway:

If you want to win a signed ARC of Valiant, then you can enter the following giveaway. Thanks for much to Sarah for offering up the prize! It is open to all North American residents. Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Thanks to Sarah for coming by, and to Cuddlebuggery for hosting this!

The Book Scavenger is launched!

I recently received (courtesy of the author) and read Book Scavenger by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman, which is an AMAZING middle grade novel coming in June 2015. I don’t think I can adequately describe it myself, so I’ll just let the description speak for itself:

About The Book:

scaA hidden book. A found cipher. A game begins . . . .

Twelve-year-old Emily is on the move again. Her family is relocating to San Francisco, home of her literary idol: Garrison Griswold, creator of the online sensation Book Scavenger, a game where books are hidden all over the country and clues to find them are revealed through puzzles. But Emily soon learns that Griswold has been attacked and is in a coma, and no one knows anything about the epic new game he had been poised to launch.

Then Emily and her new friend James discover an odd book, which they come to believe is from Griswold and leads to a valuable prize. But there are others on the hunt for this book, and Emily and James must race to solve the puzzles Griswold left behind before Griswold’s attackers make them their next target.

My Thoughts:

I’ll be writing a full review closer to the pub. date (in June) but trust me, this is definitely a book that you want to pre-order! The idea of a book scavenger hunt was what initially hooked me on this novel. I’ve read plenty of books about people who obsess over celebrities, etc. In Book Scavenger, it was similar to that, but with authors and publishers and books instead of movie stars. It really is a bookworm’s dream come true!

The main character, Emily, is great and it was very easy to relate to her (we’re both book lovers, after all). I wasn’t nearly as brave as her when I was 12, though, but I wish! Emily loves ciphers, since they play a major role in finding and hiding books on the Book Scavenger website. There are several messages and puzzles hidden around the book and it was very neat seeing them solved and finding out where the next clue would lead.

The author’s writing is wonderful, and the storyline is definitely easy to follow. There are so many elements to love about this book: the concept, the characters, the writing, the humor, the suspense, the concept (oops! Did I already say that? Not my fault–I want to be a book scavenger too!) and more. I think one of the things that makes this book great is that not only will it appeal to middle grade readers (8-12 year olds), but I can also see older bookworms picking it up too. So…sequel, please?

Get Involved with Book Scavenger:

I received this book courtesy of the author (thanks!) and she has several great ways for readers to get involved with Book Scavenger and maybe even win a copy before it releases in June!

  1. Firstly, you can visit the Book Scavenger website at http://www.bookscavenger.com to learn more about the book and the author. It was launched this week, and here are some great resources for readers on there.
  2. You can also join the book scavenger game yourself. If you live in the United States, you can hide a book anywhere in the country and upload its location to the Book Scavenger website by filling out a form. You can also hunt for other books using the map on the “Hide & Find Books” page.
  3. Promote it and spread the word on social media. You can like Jennifer Chambliss Bertman’s author page on Facebook, tweet about it, and more! Remember to use the hashtag #BookScavenger
  4. Win a copy! The Book Scavenger site launched this week, and one ARC will be given out to one winner in each state (US only). The only condition is that once you read the book, you hide it to allow other readers to hunt for it! Details here.

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