Monday, November 19, 2018

Victoria Brooks Memorial Scholarship

Attention teens! Do you find yourself writing all the time? Need a way to focus your efforts? Or perhaps you have a collection of work, but no audience to share it with? TBF wants YOU to submit your work to the first annual Victoria Brooks Scholarship Award.

The Victoria Brooks Memorial Scholarship is awarded to a teen who demonstrates passion and shows promise as an emerging writer. It includes a one-year student membership to the Rochester's Writers & Books along with a $250 certificate to apply towards teen writing workshops at Writers & Books. Teens currently in middle school or high school are eligible to apply.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

A TBF Message

The Greater Rochester Teen Book Festival (TBF) lost our founder and dear friend this year. Stephanie Squicciarini passed away on March 1, 2018.

The Board of Directors of the Greater Rochester Teen Book Festival Inc. and the TBF Planning Committee have made the difficult decision to cancel the annual Greater Rochester Teen Book Festival event for 2019. All the organizers and volunteers need time to process and heal. But most importantly, we will use this time to rebuild, reorganize, and implement a strategic plan so that the festival will become a sustainable event that area teens can look forward to long into the future. TBF remains committed to fostering and promoting reading amongst young adults in our community and we want to thank you for your loyal support of TBF over the past 13 years. We will keep you informed of our progress and other teen-focused opportunities on our website, at

We appreciate your continued support of this very difficult decision and look forward to the future of the Greater Rochester Teen Book Festival.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

TBF Author Interview with Brigid Kemmerer

Hello TBF readers!


So, I lied. This is the last TBF author interview, and I am delighted to share it with all of you! I chatted with Brigid Kemmerer, author of MORE THAN WE CAN TELL. Take a look:

Miranda Reads: Your latest book, MORE THAN WE CAN TELL has been getting a lot of buzz. What is it about?

Brigid Kemmerer: MORE THAN WE CAN TELL is about a gamer girl named Emma who starts getting harassed in a game she designed -- but problems between her parents keep her from going to them for help. She meets Rev, a guy who was cruelly abused by his father when he was young, but has since been adopted by a loving couple -- except that he's just started receiving taunting letters from his abusive father and he doesn't know what to do about it. Rev and Emma confide in each other and help each other through their ongoing trauma, and a few sparks fly as well.
Miranda Reads: What was the inspiration behind MORE THAN WE CAN TELL?
Brigid Kemmerer: Rev was actually a side character in LETTERS TO THE LOST, my first YA Contemporary, and from the moment he arrived on the page, I wanted to tell his story. I came up with Emma because I kept thinking about how much hidden harassment girls go through online, especially in gaming communities. 

Miranda Reads: Out of all of your characters, which one resembled you the most as a teen?
Brigid Kemmerer: Oh wow, this is a hard question! Probably Nick Merrick, from my Elemental Series. Everyone assumes he has it all together because he's just a smart, capable, hard-to-ruffle kid -- while on the inside he's flailing all the time. He's just good at keeping that bottled up.
Miranda Reads: Do you outline a WIP or do you just dive right into it?
Brigid Kemmerer: I used to dive right into it, but now I loosely outline in advance. I used to think that outlining would rob my story of any chance to be creative, but that's not true.
Miranda Reads: Which TBF Author are you most excited to meet this year?

Brigid Kemmerer: Oh my goodness, ALL OF THEM! I'm excited to see old friends, but also for the chance to make new ones too. 

Thank you so much, Brigid! We can't wait to meet you THIS SATURDAY!

That is all for today, friends! See you all soon!


Tuesday, May 15, 2018

TBF Author Interview with Alisa Kwitney

Hello TBF readers!

FOUR MORE DAYS UNTIL TBF! I chatted with Alisia Kwitney, the author of CADAVER & QUEEN. Take a look:

Miranda Reads: Your first YA novel CADAVER & QUEEN will be released in February. What can readers expect with this book?

Alisa Kwitney: I call the book my “Feminist Frankenstein meets Grey’s Anatomy,” because it’s part reimagined Frankenstein and part medical school drama. My heroine, Elizabeth Lavenza, is the only female medical student at a school that manufactures Bio-Mechanicals—mechanized cadavers intended to serve in Queen Victoria’s army. Bio-Mechanicals aren’t supposed to have any thoughts or feelings, but Lizzie discovers one who seems to have self-awareness—and memories of his former life as Victor Frankenstein, a former student who died under mysterious circumstances.

As a reader, I enjoy reading about the kind of romantic conflict that challenges characters’ sense of themselves and the way they see the world. I also like it when a story has a range of emotional tones—moments of lightness and humor, moments of emotional intensity, and moments of horror or suspense. So when I write, I try to deliver the kind of story I like to read.

Miranda Reads: What was the inspiration behind CADAVER & QUEEN?

Alisa Kwitney:
I have been fascinated by Victorian death culture and medicine for ages. I first got the germ of the idea years ago and thought it might make a good YA graphic novel, but as the idea germinated I realized I wanted to explore it in prose first.

In terms of the inspiration, there were a few different elements that sparked my interest. First, there’s the setting. On the surface, the Victorian period appeals because of the dark glamor of the gothic architecture and clothes and jewelry, but underneath, the social issues are startlingly similar to the ones we face. Also, we tend to think of the Victorians as being melodramatic or sentimental, but teenagers and people in their twenties were perfectly capable of humor and snark. They talked about feeling down as “getting the morbs,” which is the perfect way to puncture a Heathcliffian hero’s boughts of brooding.

I was also intrigued by the question, “When are we our truest selves?” Are we most fully ourselves when we are at our best? What happens if we are injured or get sick or lose confidence and can no longer perform the way we once did?

Last but not least, I was inspired both by Mary Shelly’s novel and the stories of how she came up with the idea during a ghost story competition with her husband, the poet Shelly, and their friend Lord Byron. Two of the characters in the novel, Byram and Will Frankenstein, Victor’s younger brother, are loosely based on Byron and Shelly. And gender swapping the main role (in Shelly’s novel, Elizabeth Lavenza is Victor’s fiancee) felt like an important way to reconsider the themes of the original novel. I remember a friend of my mother’s coming up to me and suggesting that, when I had children, I would no longer have the same need to create stories—as if writing, for a woman, was just sublimated baby-making. I wanted to write a story that didn’t pit a woman’s ambition against her desire for love.

Miranda Reads: Is there a different writing process when writing for comic books versus writing a full-length novel?

Alisa Kwitney: Writing comics is collaborative, and even if I don’t know who the artist is while I’m working on the script, I try to keep him or her very much in mind. In a way, I’m writing for the artist, trying to use my words to spark their imagination but not make them feel overly directed. In writing for DC Comics, there’s also more editorial give and take based on which characters are available and what’s being done with them elsewhere. In a way, it’s a little more like writing for TV—these are not just your babies and your vision, although your take on them is the critical factor.

Also, the bulk of what I do in comics is invisible—it’s the structure of the story and the pacing and choice of scenes, and all the art direction to the artist. What goes into captions and word balloons is a tiny fraction of the work, but it’s the only part the reader sees.

That said, my comics writing has definitely influenced my prose. When I started out writing, I was definitely not a visual writer. The longer I worked in comics, the more I’ve learned how to visualize scenes, which has informed my prose writing.

Miranda Reads: Do you listen to music when you write? If so, what do you listen to? Do you have a playlist?

Alisa Kwitney: I listen to music when I’m walking around or driving and plotting, but not when I’m actually writing, because I’m a bit ADD and too distractible for outside stimuli when I’m trying to write. Some of the songs I listened to while plotting: Strange Music (ELO); Come Out of a Lady (Rubblebucket); Alison (Elvis Costello); Walpurgisnacht (Faun); Least Complicated (Indigo Girls); Wuthering Heights (Kate Bush); Walk Away from Love (Yaz).

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

Alisa Kwitney: I have met Tamora Pierce twice before, but am extremely excited to see her and hear more about her new book. I’ve also been hearing great things about The Belles, so I’m looking forward to meeting Dhonielle Clayton.

Thank you so much, Alisa! We can't wait to meet you this weekend! (My hands are shaking at the thought of meeting all of these authors this weekend!)

You can purchase CADAVER & QUEEN at Barnes and Noble or Amazon (Be sure to use Amazon Smile and make the Greater Rochester Teen Book Festival your charitable organization) or check out it out at your local library!

That's it for today! This is the last week of book reviews and fun posts before TBF so you do not want to miss it!


Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Book Review: I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga

Hello everyone! TBF is only a little over a week away! For my last book review this season I read I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga. It was a little different from what I normally read but it was a blast!

Jazz is a likable teenager. A charmer, some might say.

But he's also the son of the world's most infamous serial killer, and for Dear Old Dad, "Take Your Son to Work Day" was year-round. Jazz has witnessed crime scenes the way cops wish they could--from the criminals' point of view.

And now, even though Dad has been in jail for years, bodies are piling up in the sleepy town of Lobo's Nod. Again.

In an effort to prove murder doesn't run in the family, Jazz joins the police in the hunt for this new serial killer. But Jazz has a secret--could he be more like his father than anyone knows?

When you find out that a criminal had a difficult childhood, it’s kind of society’s reaction to think oh that’s why they grew up to be like that. In a way, this book challenges that quick assumption by giving us a character who's probably more susceptible to their mentally scarring childhood than anyone in real life- Jazz, son of the most prolific serial killer of his time. This story really imparts to us that a person is not necessarily the product of their upbringing, and that there is always a choice.

This story is on some level a struggle between nature and nurture. Jazz struggles with not knowing whether he is fundamentally good or bad, and morally gray characters like him are my favorite. There’s a lot of internal conflict as Jazz struggles to emerge out of his father’s shadow, and his moments of hopelessness and inner turmoil make him more human. He’s desperate to prove to others, and possibly to himself, that nature will triumph over nurture. His mentality as a “could-be” killer is fascinating, and I found he just drew me into the story (and it definitely helped that he has the type of dark and deadpan humor I really appreciate). And his friends too- I adored Howie and Connie. They were very much their own independent characters while still providing their unending support to Jazz.

I also love the attention to detail regarding crime in this novel, and how it’s not just from the side of the law. The advice that Jazz’s father used to give him provides us with an interesting perspective, however sick and twisted it is. And I think that’s what makes serial killers so morbidly fascinating- their mentalities, their motives, their thought processes are so twisted and different- and this book brings us along to discover them.

In all, this novel reminds me a little of Sherlock Holmes with a twist and I would recommend it to anyone who likes crime shows.

Wishing everyone an amazing time at TBF 2018!


Find I Hunt Killers at GoodreadsBarnes & Noble, and the Monroe County Library System

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

TBF Author Interview with Claire Legrand

Hello TBF readers!

TBF is 11 days away! Are you excited?! I chatted with Claire Legrand, author of  WINTERSPELL, FOXHEART, SOME KIND OF HAPPINESS, and FURYBORN. Take a look:

Miranda Reads: Your latest novel FURYBORN will be released in May. What is it about?

Claire Legrand: The official pitch: FURYBORN is about a centuries-long war between angels and humans, and the two young women--Rielle and Eliana--who must fight at the heart of this war. The choices they make, and the surprising connections between them, will ultimately determine the fate of their world, and of each other. The unofficial pitch: This is AVATAR: THE LAST AIRBENDER meets HIS DARK MATERIALS meets GAME OF THRONES (without the gratuitous violence against women). It's the story of two passionate, flawed, ferocious girls who make a lot of mistakes on the road to discovering who they really are and how best to use their tremendous power.

Miranda Reads: I understand that it took you 14 years to write FURYBORN and its sequels. That is some serious dedication! What was it about FURYBORN made you keep writing? What advice do you have for inspiring writers who are stuck on a WIP? 

Claire Legrand: Books 2 and 3 aren't written yet! I'm working on Book 2 right now, in fact. But I have indeed been planning this trilogy since I was 18 years old, and the thing that's kept me writing is my all-consuming love for Rielle and Eliana. I've lived with them for almost half my life; they are my heart and soul. To writers who are stuck on a WIP, my advice is this: Sometimes it's best to set aside a project that's giving you trouble, and work on another project instead. Or maybe, instead of working on another project, you could take some time to refill your creative well and gorge yourself on stories. Over the years, I've stepped away from this trilogy a few times to work on other books and improve my writing, and each break has made me a better writer--and better able to tackle this beast of a story.

Miranda Reads: What was your favorite novel as a teen? 

Claire Legrand: I didn't read a lot as a teen; I was so busy with school and extra-curricular activities that the bulk of my reading was assigned. But I of course loved the Harry Potter series, and when I was in middle school, my favorite book was A WRINKLE IN TIME.
Miranda Reads: Do you listen to music when you write? If so, what kind of music do you listen to? 

Claire Legrand: Music is an integral part of my creative process; I make playlists for each of my books, and I usually listen to music while I write. My favorite musical genre is film scores. Right now, I'm obsessed with the scores for the TV series THE CROWN, composed by Rupert Gregson-Williams and Lorne Balfe.

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

Claire Legrand: I adore Rachel Hartman's SERAPHINA duology and can't wait for her latest, TESS OF THE ROAD. I can't wait to meet her and tell her how much I admire her writing!

Thank you so much, Claire! We can't wait to meet you next week! (OMG, we can actually say that now!)

You can purchase Claire's books at Barnes and Noble or Amazon (Be sure to use Amazon Smile and make the Greater Rochester Teen Book Festival your charitable organization) or check out her books at your local library!

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


Saturday, May 5, 2018

TBF Author Interview with Jon McGoran

Hello TBF readers!

Happy Saturday! I am here to share a TBF author interview with all of you. I chatted with Jon McGoran, author of Spliced. Check it out:

Miranda Reads: Your first YA book Spliced came out in November. What is it about?

Jon McGoran: Spliced takes place a few decades from now, in a world slightly altered by climate change, flu epidemics and technological advancements. Biohackers have made a controversial gene splicing technology available on the street, and some young people modify themselves by splicing animal genes into their own, for all sorts of different reasons. They are called chimeras.

Sixteen-year-old Jimi Corcoran doesn’t think too much about chimeras, but when her best friend Del finally escapes his sadistic father, she is horrified to learn he intends to get spliced. As Jimi plunges into the world of chimeras to save Del, the rest of the world erupts in a backlash against them, and the group Humans for Humanity, or H4H, pushes through a new law that strips chimeras of their rights as people.

As Jimi learns to respect, understand and even love the chimeras she meets, she also learns a terrifying truth: Those behind the backlash have a hidden agenda more hateful and horrific than anything she could have imagined.

Miranda Reads:
What was the inspiration behind Spliced?

Jon McGoran: There were many inspirations behind Spliced. The first came while I was researching a series of biotech thrillers I wrote, Drift, Deadout and Dust Up. I read about some biohackers or DIY biologists, who are doing genetic engineering in garages and basements. Some of them are highly educated and trained and some know just enough to splice different genes together and see what happens. On the one hand I thought it was really cool—a democratizing force in science and part of a great tradition of amateur citizen-scientists. But I also thought it was really unsettling, because things could go very wrong. I knew immediately I wanted to write about it in some way.

Initially, I thought about some horrible plague that escapes from a garage somewhere, but then I wondered what would happen, given a little time, when today’s cutting-edge technology becomes so commonplace and so accessible that it’s available on the street. I knew that if it was possible to splice animal genes into your own, there were people who would do it—I was sure of it. But then I had to wonder why, and the answer was, for a whole lot of different reasons.

I figured it would take a few decades for gene splicing to become available on the street, and that meant a world in which climate change was having more and more of an impact, and that a lot of animals at risk of extinction now would be gone by then.

The idea of the chimeras resonated with me. Getting spliced is a big deal, and fraught in ways, but it is also really empowering in how these young people are proactively deciding who they want to be, which is part of what young adulthood is all about.

But I also wondered how the rest of society would react to the chimeras, and looking around at the world today, I knew it wouldn’t be easy. A lot of the book is about the bigotry and hatred and exploitation the chimeras face.

Miranda Reads: Do you have a favorite snack or drink when you write? If so, what is it?

Jon McGoran: I try not to snack too much when I write, partly because if I do, I just go on autopilot and snack until whatever I am eating is gone. But I am partial to a nice hot cup of strong, black coffee.

Miranda Reads: Latest favorite book that everyone should read?

Jon McGoran: Right now I’m reading Hello Universe by Erin Entrada Kelly, and I'm loving it. I finally just read Starters by Lissa Price and that was amazing, too. And I loved Scythe by Neal Shusterman and can’t wait to read Thunderhead (my wife, who is a librarian, just finished it and she keeps telling me to hurry and finish what I'm reading so we can compare notes on Thunderhead!)

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

Jon McGoran: I'm excited about a lot of them! I heard (and briefly met) Barry Lyga at a conference a few years ago when I was considering writing my first young adult novel, and he was part of what convinced me to give it a try, so I’d like to thank him for that. I’d love to meet Roshani Chokshi and Bruce Coville (and if I get a chance, I hope to tell Rachel Hartman how much my wife loves her books!).

Thank you so much, Jon! We can't wait to meet you later this month at TBF!

You can purchase Spliced at Barnes and Noble or Amazon (Be sure to use Amazon Smile and make the Greater Rochester Teen Book Festival your charitable organization) or check it out at your local library!

That's all for today! Be sure to check out the blog again for more author interviews, book reviews, and fun posts!


Friday, May 4, 2018

Friday Fun Post: Dear Rachel Hartman

Hey TBF readers! It seems that spring has finally sprung around here, an you know what that means. Flowers, allergies, and most of all, TBF! That's right, our big event is only a few weeks away! In the meantime, I have a great post for you today, so read on and get excited! TBF is almost here!

Dear Rachel Hartman,

I haven't been a fan of your books for very long now, but they captured my attention immediately. As I read Seraphina, I knew I was in love with your characters, your writing, and the world you had created. I have always been a big fan of dragons above many other topics within the realms of fantasy, and your take on the creatures and characters were truly fascinating. I loved how Seraphina and all the other half dragons were brought together and I really connected with each step of the journey she took to really find her place in the world, having always been an outcast. I found reading your books a great relief between doing schoolwork and sleeping. Sitting with a good book has always put me at ease and your's is easily one of the best. I haven't yet gotten a chance to read Tess of the Road, but I really am looking forward to another adventure in Goredd, with all new characters and dragons to get to know. You can't imagine how overjoyed I was to hear you'd be joining us at TBF this year. I hope you really enjoy TBF when you come. Rochester, and Nazareth College's campus, can be very beautiful in the springtime and you'll also have plenty of volunteers around on the day of TBF to help with anything you may need. Rochester has such a strong community of readers, and everyone is already so excited to meet you. TBF is coming up on us fast, so I hope to be able to meet you very soon!

Warm Regards,

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Book Review: Promise of Shadows

Hey readers! Can you believe TBF is this month? After all of the incredible books I've read and loved this year I'm beyond excited for the big event. For my last book review of the year I read the wonderful Promise of Shadows by Justina Ireland.

Zephyr Mourning has never been very good at being a Harpy. She’d rather watch reality TV than learn forty-seven ways to kill a man, and she pretty much sucks at wielding magic. Zephyr was ready for a future pretending to be a normal human instead of a half-god assassin. But all that changes when her sister is murdered—and she uses a forbidden dark power to save herself from the same fate.

Zephyr is on the run from a punishment worse than death when an unexpected reunion with a childhood friend (a surprisingly HOT friend) changes everything. Because it seems like Zephyr might just be the Nyx, a dark goddess made flesh that is prophesied to change the power balance. For hundreds of years the half-gods have lived in fear, and Zephyr is supposed to change that. But how is she supposed to save everyone when she can’t even save herself?

I've loved mythology novels ever since I read Percy Jackson as a small second grader, but I did not know what I was in for going into this novel. Promise of Shadows is a whole new realm of retelling. Much bleaker, much more gritty, but in that, much more accurate to the darkness of the original myths. Ireland's portrayal of the Ætheral were more unforgiving and terrifying than any of the Greek Gods I've read in the past, which is incredible. And so even though appearances of the 
Ætheral were occasional, I loved reading their scenes as well as all those in all of the other mythological places I've known for so long from the main setting of Tartarus, to places like the harsh River Styx.

But my other favorite part of this novel was the characters. The entire cast of characters was diverse, well written, and even the secondary characters were important and played their own parts to the story. Zephyr is the kind of protagonist I've been wanting to read about for so long. She's a heroine who is deeply flawed, and who acknowledges that fact, which is a breath of fresh air compared to some of the other protagonists I've read about. She remains rational and uses the skills she has for all the novel, even when standing face to face with the grim Hades.

In the end, from the incredible world-building to the authentic yet still fierce main character, this novel was a ride. 
Make sure to check out Promise of Shadows and go see Justina this month at TBF!


Tuesday, May 1, 2018

TBF Author Interview with Erin Spencer

Hello TBF readers!

Happy May! Do you know what that means? TBF is 18 days! Let the countdown begin! I chatted with Erin Spencer, the audiobook performer for Dana Mele's People Like Us. Take a look:

Miranda Reads: As an actress, what are the joys and challenges of being an audiobook narrator? An audiobook director?

Erin Spencer: The joys and challenges can be one and the same! It’s so FUN to embody a character that I can never be in real life - a curmudgeonly old man, a French shop owner, or an African American boy living in the deep south. But, at the same time, it’s challenging because I want to make sure I get it right. I want to get their voice right, their accent right and most importantly their essence right.

As a director, well, I love working with actors! I love co-creating the story and the characters together in the studio. It can be a challenge on the rare occasion when an actor is inflexible at first, but I’ve found that finding common ground and creating a personal connection can really open someone up so we can go on a creative journey together.

Miranda Reads: What was it about People Like Us that made you enjoy narrating the audiobook?

Erin Spencer: As someone who went to boarding school I understand the very unique relationships that are developed between teenagers in that environment. And, even though my own personal high school experience didn’t result in a scavenger hunt who-done-it, I loved that I got to narrate one that did! I also appreciated the diverse cast of characters I got to play with!

Miranda Reads: Do you have a routine or ritual before you perform?

Erin Spencer: If I’m working from home then my routine is to give my dog, Derby, a thorough petting and lots of kisses, put her on her bed OUTSIDE my booth (just in case she starts snoring) and then GO! If I’m working at someone else’s studio, like at Penguin Random House, I usually just socialize and get a bottle of room temp water before we start. There are lots of narrators that do lots of things before they go in the booth - I’m just not one of them!

Miranda Reads: What are some of your hobbies outside of performing and directing?

Erin Spencer: I am always up for an adventure! White water rafting, eating new foods, bungee jumping…you name it and I’ll probably do it. My goal this year is to do the Machu Picchu hike!

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

You can purchase the book or the audiobook of People Like Us at Barnes and Noble or Amazon (Be sure to use Amazon Smile and make the Greater Rochester Teen Book Festival your charitable organization) or check them out at your local library.

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


Tuesday, April 24, 2018

TBF Author Interview with Dhonielle Clayton

Hello TBF readers!

Happy Tuesday! May is right around the corner which means TBF will be here very soon! I chatted with Dhonielle Clayton, the co-author of Tiny Pretty Things and author of The Belles. Take a look:

Miranda Reads: You have a new book coming out called The Belles. What is it about? What can we expect from it? 

Dhonielle Clayton: I pitch the book as Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies meets Marie Antoinette’s court in a world where everyone is born looking degenerative, but there are women who can change you down to your bones for a price. You can expect that not everything that glitters in the world of Orléans is gold, and is most likely rotten to the core. 

Miranda Reads: What was the inspiration behind The Belles

Dhonielle Clayton: When I was a pimply, puffy-haired preteen in the mid-1990s, I overheard a conversation at my local suburban mall between several men about their respective girlfriends’ bodies. They were thumbing through a popular magazine as they discussed how much better their girlfriends might look if they had longer and leaner legs, bigger breasts, different hair textures, a more slender frame, softer skin, etc, and comparing then to the celebrity women voted the most beautiful women in the world that year. This conversation broke something deep down inside of me and made me ask a lot of questions: Why didn’t I look like the girls in those magazines? Were there ways I could achieve those looks? Was there a way to be the most beautiful woman in the world? All of this anxiety lead to the creation of the world of Orléans – a place where one could change yourself down to your bones – your skin color, your hair color, your hair texture, your body shape, your facial structure. I wanted to work out that obsession that my pre-teen self had, and let’s face it still my adult self: What would I do if I could change myself completely? How far would I go? How ugly could it get, and why? Is there a way to be the most beautiful person in the world?
Miranda Reads: Last book that made you laugh?

Dhonielle Clayton: Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi

Miranda Reads: What is your favorite snack or drink to have when you write? 

Dhonielle Clayton: Popcorn and hot chocolate (but not together)

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

Dhonielle Clayton: Margaret Peterson Haddix

Thank you so much, Dhonielle! We can't wait to meet you soon!

You can purchase Dhonielle's books at Barnes and Noble or Amazon (Be sure to use Amazon Smile and make the Greater Rochester Teen Book Festival your charitable organization) or check out her books at your local library!

That's all for today! Be sure to check out the blog again for more author interviews, book reviews, and fun posts!


Saturday, April 21, 2018

Letter to Alisa Kwitney

Hi everyone! I know that this April has been rather cold and rainy in Rochester. However, there is some good news, TBF is only one month away. I am so excited to get to meet all of the wonderful authors that are coming to TBF this year, but I am particularly excited to meet Alisa Kwitney, the author of Cadaver and Queen. I got lucky enough to get this fantastic book as an ARC and I knew from the first page that it was going to be one those books that gives me a warm fuzzy feeling. In a previous post I reviewed Cadaver and Queen so if you want to know more about the story you can check it out. I highly suggest that all of you read Cadaver and Queen as soon as possible because it truly is fantastic. Because of my intense love of Alisa Kwitney’s book, I decided to write her a letter to put my incredible excitement of meeting her into words.

Dear Alisa Kwitney,
First of all, how did you come up with this fantastic idea for a book? A romantic retelling of Frankenstein with themes of empowering women that is so well done I found myself wishing that there were ten more similar to it waiting on my bookshelf the second I finished? Sign me up! You will absolutely love TBF, one of the best events in Rochester. Trust me, us Rochestarians love to read and enthusiastically discuss books. Don’t be surprised if multiple people want to talk about the little details in Victor and Lizzie’s life. For example, what are Lizzie and Victor’s favorite books? (Perhaps Frankenstein?) Do they enjoy solving mysteries together as a pastime or was it just a one time thing? Are they still together, study in school and cutting up cadavers? Have the teachers finally started to respect Lizzie for the fantastic person she is? And the ever important question, will there be a sequel? I am hoping that the answer to this question is yes because I really want to read more about Victor and Lizzie. In fact, I will probably be one of the people eagerly asking these questions and a million more. When I found out about Cadaver and Queen, I was so insanely excited to read it. Of course, that was a few months before it came out so I had to grudgingly be patient (I will admit that patience is not my strong suit when it comes to books). When I got the book, I was so excited that I immediately had to begin reading it. From the first page, I knew that I would have a fantastic next few days immersing myself in Victorian England. I think that my favorite thing about the book was the theme of empowering women that you brought into the story and that the main character was a brainy and independent female inventor in Victorian England. I never thought that someone would attempt a feminist retelling of Frankenstein, mainly because the idea never occured to me, but I am so incredibly happy that you did. The story turned out truly fantastic and the characters were incredibly three dimensional. I wish that I was friends with Will and Aggie. I truly wish that I knew someone like Victor, who experienced fascinating character growth throughout the story. Of course, the star of the story was Lizzie with her fierce and stubborn intelligence. I thoroughly enjoyed watching Lizzie grow and learn about herself throughout the story. I cannot wait to get a chance to meet you and discuss all of these things with you in person. I am counting down the days until TBF (27 to be exact).
Best Wishes

I hope that all of you get a chance to read some amazing new books this April! Until next time!


Thursday, April 19, 2018

ARC Review: Aru Shah and the End of Time

Hey readers! TBF is only about a month away and I'm getting more and more excited each day. Over my spring break I had the joy of reading Roshani Chokshi's new middle grade adventure Aru Shah and the End of Time a few days before it was released, and it was an incredible adventure.

Twelve-year-old Aru Shah has a tendency to stretch the truth in order to fit in at school. While her classmates are jetting off to family vacations in exotic locales, she'll be spending her autumn break at home, in the Museum of Ancient Indian Art and Culture, waiting for her mom to return from her latest archeological trip. Is it any wonder that Aru makes up stories about being royalty, traveling to Paris, and having a chauffeur? One day, three schoolmates show up at Aru's doorstep to catch her in a lie. They don't believe her claim that the museum's Lamp of Bharata is cursed, and they dare Aru to prove it. Just a quick light, Aru thinks. Then she can get herself out of this mess and never ever fib again.
But lighting the lamp has dire consequences. She unwittingly frees the Sleeper, an ancient demon whose duty it is to awaken the God of Destruction. Her classmates and beloved mother are frozen in time, and it's up to Aru to save them. The only way to stop the demon is to find the reincarnations of the five legendary Pandava brothers, protagonists of the Hindu epic poem, the Mahabharata, and journey through the Kingdom of Death. But how is one girl in Spider-Man pajamas supposed to do all that?

I truly adored every part of this novel, and the adventure it took me on. Firstly, I absolutely loved loved loved the cast of characters. I've always loved Roshani's characters and this book did not disappoint. Aru is an incredible and hilarious narrator, Mini is an adorable best friend and Boo is one of the best animal sidekicks I've ever read about. While the writing in this story was different than the dazzling and picturesque writing found in Roshani's YA books, her descriptions of all the incredible places our heroes visited still left me wonderstruck. Going into this novel, I knew very little about Hindu Mythology, but I quickly learned about many of the gods, stories, and heroes of the mythology, leaving me wanting to know even more. Just like Rick Riordan taught me all I know about Greek mythology, I have the feeling my knowledge and appreciation of Hindu myths will only grow as the series progresses.

One of the main things I loved about this novel though, was how nostalgic it made me for about seven years ago, when I first read a Percy Jackson book and my love for reading took root in me. I have the feeling Aru Shah will be that series for a whole new generation of readers looking for a book full of adventure, humor, and a hero (or heroine as Aru would correct you) who succeeds against all odds.

I hope to see you all at TBF in a month, make sure you check out all the other great posts and author interviews our other bloggers have put out recently!


check the book out here!

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Tiny Pretty Things

Hey all I am back with another great book. This week I read Tiny Pretty Things by Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton. I am looking forward to meeting Dhonielle Clayton after reading this, and reading her other books. This book drew me in very quickly and kept me hooked the whole time.
Black Swan meets Pretty Little Liars in this soapy, drama-packed 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.
Image result for tiny pretty thingsWhen every dancer is both friend and foe, the girls will sacrifice, manipulate, and backstab to be the best of the best.

Once you pick this book up you will not be able to put it down. It is super addicting and a quick compelling read. I love a book that gives multiple perspectives, I think it really enhances the book and this is certainly the case with Tiny Pretty Things. Each character has such a good story line and unique personality, that allows all types of readers to feel connected to at least one of them. They each have their problems and their strengths and it is really fun to see the differences and the similarities between the charecters. It really feels real, and seems like something that could happen. I really liked that the image of ballerinas were not as gentle as it is often portrayed. I am super excited to read the sequel, which is out.

I am really horrible about coming up with other books like it, but I would just recommend it to anyone who wants to read a drama filled book, with really interesting charecters.

That's all for today. Hope everyone has a great day and I hope to see all of you at tbf!

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

TBF Author Interview with Gloria Chao

Hello TBF readers!

TBF is a month and TWO days away! Can you believe it?! I chatted with Gloria Chao, author of AMERICA PANDA. Take a look:

Miranda Reads: AMERICAN PANDA is your first YA novel. What is it about?

Gloria Chao:
AMERICAN PANDA follows a seventeen-year-old MIT freshman whose traditional Taiwanese parents want her to become a doctor and marry a preapproved Taiwanese Ivy Leaguer. Problem is, she hates germs, falls asleep in her biology classes, and has a crush on her Japanese classmate, who is decidedly not Taiwanese.

Miranda Reads: What was the inspiration behind AMERICAN PANDA?

Gloria Chao: I wrote this book when I switched careers from dentist to writer and was having a hard time communicating with my parents. I wanted to write the book that I needed in that moment and also the book I needed as a teen. Just like my protagonist, Mei, I had a different vision for my life than my parents, and I needed to find the strength to pursue my dreams and communicate with my parents.

I hope American Panda can show readers that they aren’t alone, that it’s okay to not feel wholly one thing or another, and that cultural gaps can be difficult. I wanted to capture the struggles I went through as a teen that were difficult to explain to my friends, and I wanted to write a character that was relatable to many but also specific enough to show a window into another world. I also wanted readers to know that things can get better, as they did for me in real life.

Miranda Reads: What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Gloria Chao: Write the story only you can tell. Write for yourself first, then let everyone else in during revisions. And find your writing community so you have the support you need.

And to improve craft, read as much as you can! The library is a wonderful resource, and reading across genres and age categories will help you learn what to do and what not to do.

Miranda Reads: What was your favorite book as a teen? Why?

Gloria Chao: In my teens, I unfortunately wasn’t reading very much. My family stressed math and science growing up, and by high school, my love for reading and writing had fallen by the wayside to make room for the likes of BC Calculus and AP chemistry. I found my way back to reading in dental school, where young adult books were my one escape from a tough environment in which I didn’t really fit. I started with the popular books: Harry Potter, Twilight, Hunger Games, and eventually discovered to my true love of YA contemporary. Angie Thomas, Nicola Yoon, David Arnold, Jenny Han, Adam Silvera, and Becky Albertalli are some of my favorite authors in this genre, and I highly recommend their books!

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

Gloria Chao: TBF has an all-star lineup that I’m honored to be a part of it, and really, I am excited to meet everyone. If I had to pick just one, I’m very excited to meet Dana Mele, who is a fellow Electric Eighteen and Class2K18 member, and her book, People Like Us, is one of my most anticipated! I already feel like I know Dana, and it will be so wonderful to finally meet in person!

Thank you so much, Gloria! We can't wait to meet you in May!

You can purchase AMERICAN PANDA at Barnes and Noble or Amazon (Be sure to use Amazon Smile and make the Greater Rochester Teen Book Festival your charitable event) or check it out at your local library!

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


Friday, April 13, 2018

Friday Fun Post: Dear Roshani Chokshi

Dear Roshani Chokshi,

Hi! Let me start out by saying I am incredibly excited to see you at TBF. I read your first novel, The Star-Touched Queen, when I was in middle school after a friend raved about it to me, and it was one of those books that I had to read a second time because it had gone by so quickly (I think I read it in a day!) and it had left my mind whirling. I can’t remember the story that well, but I can remember one specific moment- it was a forgiveness, and I remember thinking how powerful it was. Last year, I read your companion novel, A Crown of Wishes, and from that experience I remember staying up to midnight, stifling my laughter at Gauri and Vikram’s exchanges because everyone else was asleep. Their banter was so memorable, and they complemented each other perfectly. Your stories left feelings with me, even if I can’t remember everything that happened. It’s been a while, but I’ll definitely revisit them before TBF.

I’m also incredibly excited to read your newest book Aru Shah and the End of Time. I was absolutely thrilled to receive it, and even though I haven’t had the time to read it yet, it’s high on my list of priorities.

In all, thank you for your magical stories and I can’t wait to see you at TBF!

Best wishes,

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Book Review: Out of the Pocket by Bill Konigsberg

Hey guys! Katie C. here with my last book review for this TBF season. This week: Out of the Pocket by Bill Konigsberg

Bobby Framingham is the star quarterback at Durango High School and one of the most talented high school football players in California. He's waiting on scholarship offers from big schools and hopes he'll go pro after college. On the field, his teammates are like his brothers. But off the field, he knows he's different -Bobby is gay.

Image result for out of the pocketCan he still be one of the guys and be honest about who he is? And even more, if people knew, could he still get that scholarship? Bobby's not sure. After all, there are no openly gay male athletes in any of the major college or pro sports. Can he help change that? He doesn't want to be a hero or a poster boy for gay rights - he just wants to play football - but how he handles his situation will send a big message. 

Just like in football, once Bobby's forced out of the pocket he'll have to make a play. He'll have to deal with the changing dynamics of the team and his changing relationships with his friends and family, and accept that his path to success might be more difficult, and more public, than he'd hoped.

As soon as I heard Bill Konigsberg was gonna be at TBF, I jumped at the chance to read one of  his books. I'm not much of a sports fan myself (unless track counts), but despite that, this book hooked me from page one all the way to the very end!

One of the greatest things about this book is how well written the characters are. Bobby, and almost everyone else around him, weren't perfect and yet were still understandable. In this book, characters did some things that made me want to dance around my room, and some things that made me want to throw a chair. But in the end, no matter how they made me feel, no character was under written or didn't seem like someone I could stumble into walking though high school. And that's why I think this story is so important: because in the end, its capturing a piece of everyday life, everyday people, and spinning it into a something that's a bit more than your average football book that you'll find in the sports section of your local library.

Overall, this was more than just a football story and a gay story. Yes, the main focus was on bobby coming to terms with his homosexuality, but this book was also about family issues, friendship issues, and dealing with life when it turns completely upside down. Above all else, it was just an honest book about a kid going though the twists and turns of his life in high school. And that's a story almost all of us can relate to.

I think everyone in one way or another should read this book. If you're part of the LGBT community like I am, I 110% recommend it! But even if you're straight, it's a good story about life and might even make you see the world a bit differently once you've turned that last page. At least that's what it did for me.

That's all for today. make sure to say hi to Bill Konigsberg at TBF 2018 this year! this is Katie C., signing off!

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

TBF Author Interview with Justina Ireland

Hello TBF readers!

We are getting closer and closer to TBF! I chatted with Justina Ireland, author of Vengeance Bound, Promise of Shadows, and Dread Nation. Take a look:

Miranda Reads: Dread Nation, your latest novel was released last week! What can readers expect?

Justina Ireland: Danger! Drama! Intrigue! And old-timey zombies. People keep telling me it’s like nothing they’ve ever read before because no one expects zombies to appear during the Civil War, I guess. But it’s sort of like The Walking Dead meets Grownish, but set in 1880.

Miranda Reads: What was the inspiration behind Dread Nation?

Justina Ireland: I read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and I had a really hard time imagining well-to-do white women defending themselves from zombies. And then I rewatched Gone With The Wind and started thinking about how poor Mammy does just about everything and a half for Scarlet. And next thing you know, I started writing the first draft of Dread Nation. It’s gone through a lot of changes since then, but the core of the story is still there.

Miranda Reads: Do you outline a WIP (Work-in-progress) or do you just dive right into it?

Justina Ireland: I am a terrible outliner. I hate them so much, and even when I do them I end up just doing what I want. I prefer to just jump into things. That, of course, means I have to do a lot revising.

Sooooo much revising.

Miranda Reads: What was one of your favorite books as a teen?

Justina Ireland: I loved Christopher Pike books, and one of my favorites of his was Remember Me, about a dead teen who solves her own murder. I still have a copy of the book, and the cover just haunts me, it’s so good. His books were so weird and twisty, and one day I want to write books that stick with readers as much as his books stuck with me.

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

Justina Ireland: Bruce Coville. I read My Teacher is an Alien as a kid and it’s pretty surreal to be at a festival with an author whose name I remember from my school library.

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

You can purchase Justina's books at Barnes and Noble or Amazon (Be sure to use Amazon Smile and make the Greater Rochester Teen Book Festival your charitable organization) or you can check out her books at your local library.

That's all for today! Be sure to check out the blog again for more author interviews, book reviews, and fun posts!


Saturday, April 7, 2018

TBF Author Interview with Brendan Kiely

Hello TBF readers!

Happy Saturday! I have an author interview to share with you today! I chatted with Brendan Kiely, the co-author of All-American Boys, The Last True Love Story, The Gospel of Winter, and upcoming novel, Tradition. Check it out:

Miranda Reads: You co-wrote All-American Boys with TBF Alumni Author, Jason Reynolds. What are the strengths to co-writing a book?

Brendan Kiely: Co-writing All American Boys with Jason was an amazing experience. Not only was it fun to bounce ideas off each other and write with a sense of "hey what's he doing over there, and how can I work with that in my sections?", it was also vitally important to co-write this book from a race conscious perspective. We had two different stories to tell, but when woven together, they seemed like the fuller picture of what was going on in our country that sparked the Black Lives Matter movement.

Miranda Reads: You have a new book coming out called Tradition. What can readers expect with this novel?

Brendan Kiely: Tradition, like All American Boys, is a passionate call to arms, but in this case, I think of it like A Separate Peace for the #MeToo generation, and as a man writing this book, I particularly wanted to ask the question: "How can men be better feminists?"

Miranda Reads: What was the inspiration behind Tradition?

Brendan Kiely: I was already working on a book that took place at a boarding school steeped in old-boy traditions, but when I heard "locker room talk" used as an excuse for violent language and behavior in the presidential election, I knew I had to focus the book in a way to combat that excuse and expose it and the devastating behavior it perpetuates.

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

Brendan Kiely: The last book that made me cry was Elana K Arnold's What Girls Are Made Of; it's powerful, so real, and so true.

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

Brendan Kiely: There are so many amazing authors coming to ROCTBF this year and I've met so many of them; I just can't wait to hang out with Dhonielle Clayton more!!!

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

You can purchase Brendan's book at Barnes and Noble or Amazon (Be sure to use Amazon Smile and make the Greater Rochester Teen Book Festival your charitable organization) or you can check out his books at your local library!

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


Friday, April 6, 2018

Friday Fun Post: Dear Roshani Chokshi

Dear Roshani Chokshi,
When I heard you were coming to Teen Book Fest this year I completely freaked at the thought of meeting you. Ever since I read The Star Touched Queen I’ve fallen in love with your characters, your world building, and your vivid words that make your stories incredible.  I read Aru Shah and the End of Time this past week and I fell in love with Aru and her story very quickly. The little Percy Jackson nerd inside me was obsessed with seeing a heroine take on mythology this time and I can’t wait to read the rest of the series. I truly can’t wait to see you at TBF this year and I hope you love our city and our book festival as much as we do.


Thursday, April 5, 2018

ARC Book Review: Furyborn by Claire Legrand

Hi everyone! I’m so excited to share my ARC review today for Furyborn, a novel by Claire Legrand that is coming out on May 22, 2018. This book was on my “dying to read” list for a while and it was definitely worth the wait!

When assassins ambush her best friend, the crown prince, Rielle Dardenne risks everything to save him, exposing her ability to perform all seven kinds of elemental magic. The only people who should possess this extraordinary power are a pair of prophesied queens: a queen of light and salvation and a queen of blood and destruction. To prove she is the Sun Queen, Rielle must endure seven trials to test her magic. If she fails, she will be executed…unless the trials kill her first.

A thousand years later, the legend of Queen Rielle is a mere fairy tale to bounty hunter Eliana Ferracora. When the Undying Empire conquered her kingdom, she embraced violence to keep her family alive. Now, she believes herself untouchable until her mother vanishes without a trace, along with countless other women in their city. To find her, Eliana joins a rebel captain on a dangerous mission and discovers that the evil at the heart of the empire is more terrible than she ever imagined.

As Rielle and Eliana fight in a cosmic war that spans millennia, their stories intersect, and the shocking connections between them ultimately determine the fate of their world—and of each other.

Believe me when I say the synopsis only scratches the surface of this complex story. To start off, the world-building in Furyborn is incredible. Developing not only one world but technically two is a feat in itself, and the author does it so well. Everything is explored in depth: the trials, the religion, the world's history, the characters’ backgrounds, and more. Magic is constantly being pushed to its limits in Rielle’s story, and Eliana’s world is just as interesting with its vivid descriptions and sort of post-war setting. And the dual perspectives really work in this novel- it almost feels like reading two completely separate stories, but there's still a thread that connects the two, even if you don’t know what it is in the beginning. When reading multiple point-of-view stories I sometimes prefer reading one person over the other, but I felt equally engaged in both Rielle and Eliana’s stories, and they complement each other really well.

Which leads me to my next point- all the characters are memorable. And there are a lot. Secondary characters all have their time to shine, and I was rooting for all (ok, most) of them. Their personalities and motives are fleshed out, and no one fits into a stereotypical role or feels expendable. But let's focus on Rielle and Eliana, our gritty, resilient, and fierce protagonists. Both of them possess great strength, and while they falter and fall throughout the novel they never fail to pick themselves back up again. They are such admirable characters, and I feel we can all relate to their messy emotions, innate sense of duty, and inner fire. The author really succeeds in creating a fantasy world full of magic and otherworldly creatures while still keeping the characters, well, human. Furthermore, I truly enjoyed the relationships in this book, on both sides. Without spoiling anything, there's something refreshing about having friends and siblings in fantasy novels who aren’t out for each other’s blood while still being entirely realistic. There are genuine friendships and forgivenesses and I really appreciate that.

If you’re a fan of fantasy novels like Throne of Glass, Ember in the Ashes, Shadow and Bone, and The Burning Sky, this book is for you. There is so much to like about Furyborn and so much to look forward to in the rest of the series, so I hope you consider reading it!


Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Book Review: Winterspell by Claire Legrand

Hey TBF Readers! We're quickly nearing Teen Book Fest now so I hope you're ready! I've been preparing this month with Claire Legrand's Winterspell.

18475593The clock chimes midnight, a curse breaks, and a girl meets a prince…but what follows is not all sweetness and sugarplums.

New York City, 1899. Clara Stole, the mayor’s ever-proper daughter, leads a double life. Since her mother’s murder, she has secretly trained in self-defense with the mysterious Drosselmeyer. Then, on Christmas Eve, disaster strikes. Her home is destroyed, her father abducted—by beings distinctly not human. To find him, Clara journeys to the war-ravaged land of Cane. Her only companion is the dethroned prince Nicholas, bound by a wicked curse. If they’re to survive, Clara has no choice but to trust him, but his haunted eyes burn with secrets—and a need she can’t define. With the dangerous, seductive faery queen Anise hunting them, Clara soon realizes she won’t leave Cane unscathed—if she leaves at all.

Inspired by The NutcrackerWinterspell is a dark, timeless fairy tale about love and war, longing and loneliness, and a girl who must learn to live without fear.

Do you like stories inspired by classics? Do you like steampunk? Maybe magic, mystery, and journeying to other worlds? If you said yes to any of these this is the book for you. As I read Winterspell I was drawn in by it's unique plot, and refreshing characters. It wasn't as closely bound to the traditional Nutcracker tale as I expected, and I was okay with that. I wouldn't say it put a new twist on something old, I definitely think Clare Legrand took the story and made it completely her own. 

As I read I found our main character Clara to be a refreshing to read. So many of our heroes and heroins these days are just too ready to jump into the fray, strong and fearless. Clara's fears and flaws made her so much more real to read. I really felt like I got to see her grow and progress throughout the course of the book. She starts out shaking and shuddering with fear, despite her lessons in self defensem and grows into a young woman ready to lead Cane to peace. On top of this, her interactions with our "Nutcracker Prince" Nicholas were also very real. He was simultaneously her guide, her enemy, and her biggest temptation throughout the story. No one in this book came across as a flat character to me and it was nice to journey with these characters till the end.

I also enjoyed the land of Cane. It was so drastically different from the setting of New York City in the 1800s where we begin the tale. If I had expected a pretty and proper fairy land I was disappointed. Cane turned out to be war ravaged and broken, whirring and grinding with magical clockwork contraptions. I definitely thought everything about Winterspell was enchanting. It was a book that really sucked me in and made me want to abandon everything else until I was finished reading.

I'd definitely suggest Winterspell to anyone who's looking for a good stand alone fantasy adventure. It had a bit of everything intersperced within it's pages, so whether you like futuristic technology or good old fashoned magic then you'll like Clare Legrand's Winterspell. That's all for now! Happy reading!


Tuesday, April 3, 2018

TBF Author Interview with Roshani Chokshi

Hello TBF readers!

Happy April! You know what that means, don't you? We can officially say that TBF is NEXT MONTH! Who's excited?! I talked to Roshani Chokshi, the author of THE STAR-TOUCHED QUEEN, A CROWN OF WISHES, and ARU SHAH AND THE END OF TIME. Take a look:

Miranda Reads: What was it like to team up with Rick Riordan to bring ARU SHAH AND THE END OF TIME?

Roshani Chokshi: There are a host of metaphors I could use to describe this feeling. I'll give you a couple: "like having a tame dragon show up at your doorstep and say: 'I know you wanted a car, but I'm much better transport and we'll fight monsters! And I've got cupholders!" Or "guzzling moonlight." You get the idea . . . it's a dream. Aru's story has been itching at my brain for eons, and I'm honored that her story will launch the imprint.

Miranda Reads: Many readers, including myself, want to know more about Hindu myths and gods. Do you have any recommendations to get us started?

Roshani Chokshi: If you can, find all the Amar Chitra Katha comic books. Those got me hooked on Hindu myths! Otherwise, I really enjoyed the Ganguli translation of the Mahabharata.

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

Roshani Chokshi: I was recently rereading Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett which is an eternal favorite and always makes me giggle.

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

Roshani Chokshi: Sometimes? Depends on my mood. For drawn out action sequences, I like writing to film scores. I turned to Assassin's Creed *a lot* for my upcoming YA, THE GILDED WOLVES. For ARU, it was more songs to get me in the mood to write her . . . which meant the soundtrack of Legally Blonde and a couple of my favorite Bollywood songs Iike "Nashe Si Chadgh Gayi" from the movie Befikre.

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

Roshani Chokshi: Tamora Pierce!! I grew up reading her books. Otherwise, I'm so excited to hang out with my friends, like Dhonielle Clayton (author of the upcoming THE BELLES--which is fantastic)

Thank you so much, Roshani! We are absolutely excited to meet you in May!

You can purchase Roshani's books at Barnes and Noble or Amazon (Be sure to use Amazon Smile and make the Greater Rochester Teen Book Festival as your charitable organization) or check out her books at your local library!

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


Tuesday, March 27, 2018

TBF Author Interview with Cyndy Etler

Hello TBF readers!

TBF is a little more than a month and a half away! I am SO excited! What about you? I chatted with Cyndy Etler, the author of THE DEAD INSIDE. Take a look:

Miranda Reads: After reading THE DEAD INSIDE, readers are left speechless because everything in the novel is real--this is a memoir. What do you hope readers will take away from your experience?

Cyndy Etler: This is my favorite question ever, because it lets me put my life purpose on blast. My life purpose is this: to make everyone understand that the kids they think are “bad” are actually broken, and craving love. Show me a kid who’s always kicked out of class, who needs to smoke weed before school, who acts like a slut, and I’ll show you a kid who isn’t getting the love they need at home or amongst their peers. It’s that simple. But instead of caring and figuring out how to meet these kids’ needs, we judge and punish them. We see only the behavior, not what lies underneath it.

So, back to the question: I hope people who read The Dead Inside will have an experience of being that broken teen. That they’ll immerse themselves in my story to the point that they feel the fear of the abused child, the thrill of escape with “druggie friends” and risky behaviors, and the gut-wrenching, inescapable horror of being locked up in an abusive facility. My deepest hope is that, when readers experience that cause and effect for themselves, they’ll develop a deep empathy for struggling kids. End result? We’ll stop punishing “bad” kids, and start caring about them, instead.

Miranda Reads: What are the strengths to writing memoirs?

Cyndy Etler: Memoir writing is self-inflicted therapy. I’m serious. What do you do in therapy? You shell out a bunch of money, you sit down, and you barf out your most heinous memories. You get it all out of your brain, so you can start from scratch.

What do you do to write memoir? You shell out a little money for good pens and notebooks, you sit down, and you scrawl out your most heinous memories. You get it all out of your brain, so you can start from scratch.

That’s how it’s worked for me. When I’m writing, I go back in time and relive the scenes I’m writing about. I sob, I shake, my hair falls out in stress-clumps. Not kidding. But then? When I’m done? The scaries don’t live in my brain anymore. They live on the page. And then? When people read my books?

They write me emails to say they love and relate to my story. Which fills that need I talked about in question one, the need that makes kids act bad in the first place.

So to answer the question: the strength of writing memoir is that it earns you love from readers. And not even high-zoot, super-pricey therapy gets you that.

Miranda Reads: Do you have a favorite snack or drink when you write? If so, what is it?

Coffee, baby. Coffee, coffee, coffee. When I’m in writing mode, I’m also in get-up-at-4:30-in-the-morning mode. Because 4:30 A.M. is when the world doesn’t exist. It’s when there are no distracting dogs or husbands who say, “Come out and play.” It’s when the creative brain can scream down a deserted country road on its turbo Harley Davidson. But 4:30 A.M. is also 4:30 A.M. And so, coffee.

Cyndy Etler: What was the last book that made you cry?

The Panopticon, by Jenni Fagan. Have you people read that book? Oh, my God. It’s about this girl, Anais, who’s been in foster care since birth. Twenty-three placements before she turned seven. She’s accused of putting a policewoman in a coma, and though she’s pretty sure she didn’t do it, she can’t…quite…remember. Because the drugs, right?

The book takes place in Scotland, so there are all these luscious Scottish terms for you to figure out, like “didnae” (didn’t) and “cannae” (can’t) and “wee” (tiny). Anais is tough and broken and honest and hopeful. She sees the tiny glittery flecks in the concrete prison floor. She only has herself, but maybe that’s enough.

I’ve never loved a character harder than I love Anais, but damn. She’s a heartbreaker.

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

Cyndy Etler: I’m psyched to in-person meet Gloria Chao. She let me read part of American Panda before it was signed, and kid, let me tell you: this girl has funny, and she knows how to use it. Give me an author who mixes self-deprecating humor with social satire and cultural observation and an author’s note that goes, “I used the pinyin system for the Mandarin words because it is the most widely known Romanization system,” and I’m a ride-or-die fan. Funny + humble + brilliant = swoon.

Thank you so much, Cyndy! We can't wait to meet you in Rochester!

You can purchase Cyndy's book at Barnes and Noble or Amazon (Be sure to use Amazon Smile and make Greater Rochester Teen Book Festival your charitable organization) or you can check out her books at your local library.

That's it for today! Be sure to check out the blog again for more author interview, book reviews, and fun posts!