Friday, March 16, 2018

Friday Fun Post: My Experience as a TBF Attendee

Hey guys! Katie C. here to bring you the weekly Friday fun post. Today I'm going to talk about my experience as a TBF attendee!

I've been attending TBF since 2014, making this year my fifth year being at the festival! While each year brought on new adventures and new experiences, I'm going to talk about my first time ever attending, back in 2014.

One of the reasons this year stays close to my heart was because of the fact that I had never gone before. I had no idea what to expect, and any of my few previous expectations were blown out the door from what was waiting for seventh grade me at Nazareth College.

While the opening session has changed a bit in the past year, it was truth or talent when I first attended. This game involved each author stepping up the the mic and either telling some wild truth about themselves, or preforming some obscure talent they had. While I can't remember each and every one, I do remember Neal Shusterman's one hand clap, one author (i wanna say Laurie Halse Anderson) swearing in danish, and one author beat-boxing while another sang Selena Gomez's Come and Get it. It was really cool!!!

After the opening session, I started out by attending a panel with Neal Shusterman, Paolo Bacigalupi, and Alex London. Unfortunately, because of flight issues, Alex London couldn't make it that day...or so we thought! In the middle of the panel, the door burst open, and Alex London came running in. He probably said something like "sorry i'm late!" but no one could hear him over the unforgettable laughter and applause that followed his dramatic entrance.

My next two panels I went two were a caricature workshop and lunch, where I met up with the rest of the group I attended with that day. At this point, I already knew that TBF was one of the greatest days of my life, even though I hadn't reached the best part of my day: the fourth panel.

For my fourth panel, I went to see Jonathan Auxier and Aaron Starmer. While I wouldn't read Starmer's The Riverman for another month or two, I had read and fallen in love with Auxier's Peter Nimble and couldn't wait to meet the author behind it. And I was not disappointed!

Auxier was FANTASTIC!!!! Not only did he talk about his book and other things in the works, he also brought a yo-yo and was doing different tricks in between the times he was talking. Every word that came out of his mouth was filled with passion and excitement, especially when he talked about his characters and the different things that inspired them. After meeting Auxier, I quickly read his new release, The Night Gardener, and eventually the sequel to Peter Nimble, Sophie Quire, when it came out years later. To this day, Auxier is still one of my favorite author of all time!

And of course, I ended my very first festival the same way I do every other year then after: meet and greet and autographs.

While this was just my first experience at TBF, each year after never was just as amazing and gave me even more cherished memories that I will hold onto forever. If you're thinking about attending this year (and I highly recommend that you do!!!) remember to save the date of May 19th 2018!!!! I know I'll be there for another fantastic year of authors, fun, and memories!

I'll see you all later. this is Katie C. signing off!

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Book Review: People Like Us by Dana Mele

Hello everyone and Happy Pi Day! Today I’m sharing with you People Like Us by Dana Mele. If you like psychological thrillers, this is your book.

35356380Kay Donovan may have skeletons in her closet, but the past is past, and she's reinvented herself entirely. Now she's a star soccer player whose group of gorgeous friends run their exclusive private school with effortless popularity and wit. But when a girl's body is found in the lake, Kay's carefully constructed life begins to topple. The dead girl has left Kay a computer-coded scavenger hunt, which, as it unravels, begins to implicate suspect after suspect, until Kay herself is in the crosshairs of a murder investigation. But if Kay's finally backed into a corner, she'll do what it takes to survive. Because at Bates Academy, the truth is something you make…not something that happened.

People Like Us accomplishes all that a psychological thriller should- there's sharp writing, intriguing characters, a sense of urgency, just enough information concealed, and of course, a gripping mystery. It made me view every single character with suspicion; had me thinking I knew the entire story, and then I would learn more… and more. It genuinely felt like I was the one tangled in a plot of murder and revenge, and the secondhand paranoia was real. As revelation piled on revelation, it got more and more twisted. And the entire set-up- the riddles encoded in a website, the flashbacks, the long line of suspects... believe me when I say you do not want to miss this book.

On top of all that, there are also little things here and there that truly make this novel stand out- how representative it is of society today, the amazing characterization, and the incredible attention to detail. The author really fleshes out her characters, even the secondary ones, which gives the story so much depth. Watching Kay and her friends interact is so interesting since they’re all morally gray characters, and no one more so than Kay. They all have their own complicated motives and secrets, and they are all cutthroat and daring, so the dynamic among them (as well as the one at Bates Academy in general) is just fascinating. The line between right and wrong is so blurred that it’s uncertain who’s truly at fault, or if there’s even one singular person to blame. And finally, I loved the underlying theme that even unintentional, seemingly insignificant actions and words can come back to haunt you, and the question the novel asks of just how far you can set yourself up to fall until you do. In short, People Like Us is the type of thriller that will leave your mind whirling and force you to go back and hunt through the pages for every sign you missed.

People Like Us was published recently so be sure to check it out! 


Friday, March 9, 2018

Friday Fun Post: My Experience as a TBF Volunteer

Happy Friday readers! This week I get to share my TBF experiences as a volunteer with you!

So, I have been volunteering for the Teen Book Festival for six years this year, so my first year was 2012. Every year except the first I have been an author assistant so I think it's fair to say that I have the most experience in that area. That's what I'll focus on today.

Over these six years I could tell you a vast many of stories about being an author assistant but that could be a book in itself so I'll keep it brief. I think what I've come to value the most over time is the sense that I get to meet these out of this world amazing people on common ground. When thinking about people you look up to and idolize it's hard to imagine ever getting the chance to meet them. For me it might felt like I would be just a blip on the radar for them, one more fan in a crowd, but TBF allows it to be so much more than that, especially for volunteers. As an author assistant you get to talk with them, get advice, and share experiences. TBF has allowed them to stop being larger then life and start seeming like real people you can know. As an author assistant our job is to essentially wait on our author hand and foot for a day but it's absolutely a privilege to do so.

Among some of the authors I've worked with so far, I can proudly say that I've befriended Zoraida Cordova, discussed upcoming books with Janet B. Taylor, received writing advice from Cinda Williams Chima, and been dazzled by Lisa McMann. Without a doubt I've loved every minute of it.

If you get the chance, I would strongly suggest volunteering at TBF. It's a rewarding experience and without volunteers there wouldn't be such an amazing day for us to enjoy. Even if you can't lend your whole day you can still volunteer since each job is equally important. No matter what you choose, keep coming to TBF each year, and if you haven't been, it's so so worth it.

That's all for now!

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Book Review: American Panda

35297380Hello readers! With TBF 2018 just a few short months away I'm getting more excited with every great book I read. This month I read American Panda by Gloria Chao, and absolutely adored it. This was Gloria's debut novel and she has already announced her second, titled Misaligned, which is set for release in the fall of 2019

At seventeen, Mei should be in high school, but skipping fourth grade was part of her parents' master plan. Now a freshman at MIT, she is on track to fulfill the rest of this predetermined future: become a doctor, marry a pre-approved Taiwanese Ivy Leaguer, produce a litter of babies.
With everything her parents have sacrificed to make her cushy life a reality, Mei can't bring herself to tell them the truth - that she (1) hates germs, (2) falls asleep in biology lectures, and (3) has a crush on her classmate Darren Takahashi, who is decidedly not Taiwanese.
But when Mei reconnects with her brother, Xing, who is estranged from the family for dating the wrong woman, Mei starts to wonder if all the secrets are truly worth it. Can she find a way to be herself, whoever that is, before her web of lies unravels?

Before we get to what I loved about the story itself I need to mention the incredible writing. Gloria Chao could make me laugh at loud than practically wreck me emotionally all within one chapter which is truly an amazing feat. I have the feeling Gloria is going to be one of those authors who I love every single one of their books. The ability to mix incredible comedic moments with heart wrenching emotional scenes is something that truly sells a book for me, and Gloria has that down for sure.

But the characters of this novel are what truly make it shine. Mei is one of my favorite protagonists I've read about in a long time. Often I am not the biggest fan of first person narratives, but reading Mei's thoughts on everything that happened to her was so well done and it made the novel a hundred percent better. The journey Mei, as well as the rest of the characters took through this novel struck me hard, and left me incredibly emotional.

Overall this novel hit me in so many places, and I strongly recommend it to anyone and everyone, who loves a story thats a mix of humor, emotional journeys and characters you'll want to root for. Look forward to another great post this Friday!

Check the book out here!

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

TBF Author Interview with Eric Devine

Happy Tuesday!

Today, I have another TBF author interview. I chatted with Eric Devine, author of Tap Out, Dare Me, Press Play, and Look Past. Check it out:

Miranda Reads: What inspired you to write Look Past?

Eric Devine: I had a host of inspirations for Look Past, mostly because the novel has various threads. To start, I was inspired to write a transgender protagonist because of my experience with one of my daughter’s friends, who happens to also be the child of two of my friends for the past 25 years. My daughter’s friend, is gender fluid, and this was obvious from the time birthday parties were arranged with “boys over here and girls over there,” and my daughter’s friend was utterly lost. As years progressed and it became obvious that gender conformity would never occur, my wife, my friends, and I, had many conversations about their thoughts, their child’s thoughts, and how they wanted to handle things.

Simply, anything with children is a delicate situation, and we wanted to support everyone involved, including our daughter, who needed assistance in understanding the situation. Which is why children are so great. My daughter loves her friend, but at the time, needed knowledge. This was a novel situation, and I am so glad that we successfully navigated it. So many situations where parents get things wrong is when they are not open-minded. Then, as serendipity would have it, I had a conversation with one of my colleagues (I’m a high school English teacher), whose cousin was, at that very time, transitioning from female to male. Thus began a string of emails and face-to-face conversations, because I was curious, and because he was so willing to help, and because it felt like there was a story to be told.

Additionally, so much of the religious aspects to the story are drawn from my experience with the Christian faith. The hypocrisy of preaching about love and then hating various groups never sat well with me. Nor did the strict lines of thinking when it came to gender and one’s right to one’s own body. Therefore, I knew if I was writing a story with a transgender main character, I would have to tie in some of the conversations I had encountered by people whose faith is paramount to individual rights.

Lastly, I have always wanted to write a murder mystery. However, in no way did I want to write a cliche and have a transgender individual be the victim. All of my main characters are tough, either from the outset or by the end, and Avery--the protagonist in Look Past--could be no different. In that vein, Avery had to suffer, as do all my protagonists, and the ways in which I torture Avery are all connected to the issues he would face as a boy in transition, staring into the horror of the murder of his first-time love.

Miranda Reads:
Out of all of your characters, which one resembled you as a teen?

Eric Devine: I am most like Ben Candido from Dare Me. I often begin presentations with the line, “I’m not that smart, and I’ve made a lot of bad choices.” This is the truth for me and for Ben. Something about my makeup forces me to push the envelope, test the limits, and often end up broken or paying some terrible price for my actions. This is probably why I relate to my students so well, and will probably never be able to write Adult fiction. I still feel that desire to go too far.

Miranda Reads: Do you listen to music when you write? If so, what kind of music?

Eric Devine: No music, but white noise. I write from 4am to 6am, and so I’d wake the house if I was cranking music. Therefore, I have found the beauty of white noise to deaden the silence, while helping me ignore the creaks of my home or the padding of my dogs outside the office.

Miranda Reads: What was the last book that made you laugh?

Eric Devine: I don’t read a lot of stories, fiction or nonfiction, that are humorous, which is strange, because in real life, I crack jokes all the time. But the last book that made me laugh out loud, was Jenny Lawson’s Furiously Happy. I like dark, twisted humor, which is probably why if I want a laugh, I know I can always turn to David Sedaris.

Miranda Reads:
Which TBF Author are you most excited to meet this year?

Eric Devine: I can’t answer that with just one author. I attended last year’s TBF as a teacher, with a book group from my area (what’s up Albany HIgh!), and I was hell bent on seeing A.S. King, again, as well as catching up with my pal, A.G. Howard. This year, I’m just thrilled to be in such good company. That may sound cheesy and like a cop-out, but it’s true. However, pressed for one, Barry Lyga--whether he remembers or not--owes me a certain adult beverage ;) I’m hoping to keep him to his word.

Thank you so much, Eric! We can't wait to meet you at TBF!

You can purchase Eric's books at Barnes and Noble andAmazon. Better, you can check out Eric's books at your local library, here.

That's it for today! Be sure to check out the blog for more book reviews, author interviews, and TBF-related fun posts!


Monday, March 5, 2018

ARC review- April Henry

Hi everyone it is Anica. I am here to kick off a new series of ARC( advanced reader copy) reviews.. I read an arc the quite possibly is my favorite read of 2018 so far. It is Run, Hide, Fight Back by April Henry. The release date so far is May 8th, but of course that subject to change.

Six teens must band together to survive after a shooting breaks out in this high-stakes thriller by New York Times-bestselling author April Henry.
When a deadly shooting breaks out in a Portland shopping mall, a diverse group of teens ends up trapped behind a store’s security shutter. To her own surprise, seventeen-year-old Miranda finds the others looking to her as their leader. But she’s hiding a big secret―and she’s not the only one. The group has only three choices―run, hide, or fight back. The wrong decision will have fatal consequences.

I had never even heard of April Henry, which is one of my favorite things about TBF, I always find some new favorite authors. I could not set this book down, I kept reading it in between classes at school because I had to know what was going to happen, and I finished it within 24 hours. This book is told from multiple perspectives, which is something I always enjoy. It was super timely with when I read it, because the shooting in Florida happened only two day prior. April made me think about what I would do if I was in these teen's position. One of things I loved most was that each of the teens had a compelling story about what is going on in their lives.

I have never read anything like it, but I would say if you like suspense this would be the prefect book for you.
 Keep reading,

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Book Review: The Girl I Used to Be by April Henry

Greetings fellow TBF readers,
If you’re like me, then there are few things that seem more appealing than a good mystery novel on a cold Rochesterian evening. Thankfully, April Henry, who will be arriving this May for TBF, has written several books that fit this description. One of her more recent works: The Girl I Used to Be, a roller coaster ride of a story about a girl who is the sole survivor of a killing when she was three, a killing that claimed both of her parents’ lives… a killing that she might just be beginning to remember.

When Olivia's mother was killed, everyone suspected her father of murder. But his whereabouts remained a mystery. Fast forward fourteen years. New evidence now proves Olivia's father was actually murdered on the same fateful day her mother died. That means there's a killer still at large. It's up to Olivia to uncover who that may be. But can she do that before the killer tracks her down first?
Sounds exciting, doesn’t it?
One of my favorite parts of reading The Girl I Used to Be was the main character, Olivia Reinhart. She’s quite the interesting character, looking for both revenge and a connection to her past life. Both tasks are fraught with peril, especially since anyone from before could, in fact, be her parents’ killer (no spoilers, of course!). However, Olivia is more than up to the tasks that await her, a driven and clever protagonist that is enjoyable to watch. Also quite fascinating is her description of the world around her. The town of Medford, where she grew up and is now returning, is revealed to her both as it is in the present and how it appeared years ago in her youth. Memories of how it once was could hold clues to what really happened to her parents. Its many inhabitants, each with their own stories and relations to the victims, hold secrets awaiting to be unravelled.
So , then, who did it?
You’ll just have to read the book to find out!
Happy reading,
Kate Giugno