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!


Monday, March 26, 2018

ARC Review of Dread Nation

Hello everyone! Happy monday! About a month ago, I got an ARC (advanced reader’s copy) of Dread Nation by Justina Ireland.
Jane McKeene was born two days before the dead began to walk the battlefields of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania—derailing the War Between the States and changing the nation forever.
In this new America, safety for all depends on the work of a few, and laws like the Native and Negro Education Act require certain children attend combat schools to learn to put down the dead.
But there are also opportunities—and Jane is studying to become an Attendant, trained in both weaponry and etiquette to protect the well-to-do. It's a chance for a better life for Negro girls like Jane. After all, not even being the daughter of a wealthy white Southern woman could save her from society’s expectations.
But that’s not a life Jane wants. Almost finished with her education at Miss Preston's School of Combat in Baltimore, Jane is set on returning to her Kentucky home and doesn’t pay much mind to the politics of the eastern cities, with their talk of returning America to the glory of its days before the dead rose.
But when families around Baltimore County begin to go missing, Jane is caught in the middle of a conspiracy, one that finds her in a desperate fight for her life against some powerful enemies.
And the restless dead, it would seem, are the least of her problems.

To start with: wow. The story is so incredibly powerful in its subtle social commentary. The story provides a deep look at the horrible treatment of African Americans during and after the civil war and asks a simple question “Why?”. Jane is a heroine who does not see herself as a heroine. She sees herself as flawed and broken. However, that never stops Jane from fighting for her rights and standing up for herself and others. The cast of characters is something that makes Dread Nation truly memorable. Jane’s quick witted remarks and tendency to make elaborate plans that take many risks to achieve her intended goal makes her a character that you want to be friends with and have on your side during any battle of words or wits. Katherine is a friend of Jane and a remarkable character in her own right. Katherine’s past is questionable and her manners are impeccable but the real strength of  her character is in her unwavering loyalty and tremendous bravery. One of my favorite aspects of Dread Nation was that every chapter started with either an excerpt from a letter that Jane wrote to her mother or an excerpt of a letter that her mother  wrote back to her. This is an incredibly sweet and nostalgic way to set the stage for what is going to happen in that chapter. Although Jane’s mother is not a main character in the book, it is through these letters that she really comes alive and becomes one of the most notable characters. These letters also help that reader to get inside of Jane’s head and learn about who she truly is. Whenever a piece of Jane’s history is revealed, another aspect of her character is explained and the way her history all fits together is especially fascinating.
A second thing that I enjoyed about Dread Nation was the setting. The idea of post civil war apocalyptic America fascinated me. I will admit that I was slightly skeptical when I saw the attempt to mix American history with zombies, but I am very pleased to report that it worked out very well. The idea of a zombie apocalypse in the middle of the war was executed well. I thought that the story managed to stay true to the time period despite the addition of zombies. The novel manages to incorporate shamblers into everyday life and still retain some of the social customs and quirks of the time period. Dread Nation is incredibly well written and I encourage everyone to go out and read it the second it comes out on April 3. In fact, I will make it even easier for all of you and include the link to amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Dread-Nation-Justina-Ireland/dp/0062570609
I hope that all of you bookworms are having a wonderful first few days of spring. Remember, only a month and a half until TBF!
Until next time!


Friday, March 23, 2018

My experience as a TBF volunteer- Anica

I absolutely love TBF, I went two years just as an attendee and two years as a volunteer. Although I have amazing experiences all four years last year was my favorite. I was an author assataint to Renee Ahdieh, who presented with Sarah J Maas. Both authors write books I absolutely love, and are so inspiring. To get to spend the whole day with these two amazing ladies was such a special experience. They were both so sweet and funny, and I learned a ton from them.

Being an author assistant is something I would highly recommend,-even if you don't have  a specific author you want to help. The authors are always so sweet, and you can really learn a ton from them. It isn't overly hard, and the authors are not scary. Below I am going to put a link the application page so you guys can go sign up to be volunteers.


Hope to see you all there

Thursday, March 22, 2018

TBF Author Interview with Jennifer Castle

Hello TBF readers,

I have another TBF author interview for you on this happy Thursday! I chatted with Jennifer Castle, author THE BEGINNING OF AFTER, TOGETHER AT MIDNIGHT, WHAT HAPPENS NOW, and YOU LOOK DIFFERENT IN REAL LIFE. Check it out:

Miranda Reads: TOGETHER AT MIDNIGHT came out recently. What is it about?

Jennifer Castle: The book is about two teens, Kendall and Max, who witness a tragedy on the streets of New York City during the holidays and feel consumed with guilt that they didn’t do anything to try and stop it. They bond over this, and accept a dare to commit seven meaningful acts of kindness to strangers. The dare brings them closer to each other — they have a history from back home — and to themselves, as they’re both kind of lost and trying to figure out the next step in their paths. The story’s told from their alternating points of view, but also from the POV’s of the other people they encounter. Along the way there’s some romance and a lot of snow. A snowmance!

Miranda Reads: What was the inspiration behind TOGETHER AT MIDNIGHT?

Jennifer Castle: I knew I wanted to write a story about two supporting characters from my previous book, WHAT HAPPENS NOW, and to set it in New York City during that weird, surreal time between Christmas and New Year’s. I liked the idea of a romance between people who had made a mistake together in the past and were hoping to never see each other again. But I was really stuck finding the heart of the book. Then, a tragedy happened in my town. A 15-year-old girl took her own life, and at her memorial, her family’s rabbi delivered a eulogy that really resonated with me. This is what he said: “Look out for each other. Be brave. Risk losing a friend in order to help them. Share your deepest fears with each other, and your biggest dreams. Loving one another is wonderful and life-giving, but also very risky and challenging work. And it is the best thing you will ever do. Be bold, take a deep breath, and reach out.” That’s when I knew this was going to be a story about kindness, and discovering how hard it can be, and how it doesn’t always look the way we think it should. I had a writing professor in college who liked to say, “If you want to send a message, use Western Union,” so I was worried about this story being too message-y. Then I thought, how else am I going to be bold and reach out if not through my writing? I went for it. I hope this is a book that makes readers laugh, fall in love, think, and feel inspired.

Miranda Reads: Which one of your characters resembled you as a teen?

Jennifer Castle: All of my books’ main characters are a version of teen-Jennifer, but I would say that Laurel from THE BEGINNING OF AFTER is hands-down the closest resemblance to who I was (and still am, in many ways). I was bottled-up and quiet and nerdy, and struggled to find my voice and strength. Laurel’s neighborhood and town was my neighborhood and town. Fortunately, I never experienced a trauma even close to Laurel losing her family, but I’m glad i was able to honor, through her, the best parts of me from back then.

Miranda Reads: Top three favorite Broadway musicals?

Jennifer Castle: Hamilton. RENT. For the third…hmmm, that would be a tie between Hairspray and Jesus Christ Superstar (because when I was 15 I was in a production of JCS at performing arts camp and it was the best three weeks of my teenage years).

Miranda Reads: Which TBF Author are you most excited to meet this year?
Jennifer Castle: Robin Benway! I just read FAR FROM THE TREE and absolutely loved it.

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

You can purchase Jennifer's books at Barnes and Noble or Amazon or you can check out her books at your local library.

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


Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Book Review on Cadaver and Queen by Alisa Kwitney

When Lizzie Lavenza enrolled at Ingold as its first female medical student, she knew she wouldn't have an easy time. From class demands to being an outsider among her male cohorts, she'll have to go above and beyond to prove herself. So when she stumbles across what appears to be a faulty Bio-mechanical--one of the mechanized cadavers created to service the school--she jumps at the chance to fix it and get ahead in the program.
Image result for cadaver and queen
Only this Bio-mechanical isn't like the others. Where they are usually empty-minded and perfectly obedient, this one seems to have thoughts, feelings...and self-awareness.

Soon Lizzie realizes that it is Victor Frankenstein--a former student who died under mysterious circumstances. Victor, it seems, still has a spark of human intelligence inside him, along with memories of things he discovered before his untimely death...and a suspicion that he was murdered to keep that information from getting out.Suddenly Lizzie finds herself intertwined in dark secrets and sabotage that put her life, and the lives of Victor and their friends, in danger. But Lizzie's determined to succeed--even if that means fighting an enemy who threatens the entire British Empire.

Hi bookworms!  I hope you all have time for a trip to Barnes and Noble because I have just read a book that you all have to read. Cadaver and Queen by Alisa Kwitney is a quick but incredibly enjoyable and powerful read. I loved the idea of a Frankenstein retelling but it was the empowering women undertone that really had me hooked on the story. Lizzie is the first female medical student at Ingold and has to withstand gender stereotyping and all of the double standards present. Not only does Lizzie handle the misogyny with grace but she proved that she could hold her own and excel at medical school. Throughout the story, Lizzie manages to remain true to herself and proud of her wonderfully quirky intelligent nature. I loved that Lizzie was a bold female who was unafraid to speak her mind despite some of her male peers implying that they didn’t care about what she had to say. Lizzie quickly proved that her words were more than worthwhile to listen to. Lizzie was curious and quick witted, which made all of her banter with the other characters particularly delightful. Most of all, Lizzie was determined. She knew that she wanted to become a doctor and she wasn’t going to let the stereotypes believed by other people get in the way of that. Lizzie wanted to be educated at the finest medical school there was, so she went to that medical school even though she was the only female medical student to go to that college. Lizzie a very human character with flaws and strong points who I found to be very relatable. I felt that Lizzie was the type of character that you just want to have a study session with.
All of the characters were lovable (except for certain unethical scientists- read the book) and the plot was entrancing, although the ending was much too abrupt for my liking because I loved the book so much I didn’t want it to end. The romance between Lizzie and Victor is sweet and fluffy, perfect for curling up by the fire on a cold day (by the way: happy first full day of spring guys! Maybe winter is over but considering it is a balmy 33°F outside, we probably still have some more cold to go). The story is engrossing and I was wishing that there was another book by the end (I hope there will be a sequel). Alisa Kwitney’s Cadaver and Queen was a beautifully written novel with a romance that was absolutely adorable and had me wishing I could find my Victor Frankenstein. I strongly advise all of you to immediately go to your nearest bookstore and buy this book so you can experience the trials and triumphs of Lizzie Lavenza- I assure you that this book does not disappoint.
I hope you all have a wonderful spring break that is relaxing and filled with books! Until next time!


Monday, March 19, 2018

Book Review: People Like Us

Hey guys! Long time no see am I right? (ha ha that's funny cuz my last post was three days ago). Anyway, Katie C. here back again, but this time with another amazing book to tell you all about: People Like Us by Dana Mele!
Image result for people like us dana mele publishKay 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 private school with effortless popularity and acerbic 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 back 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

(this book was published on February 27th, however the book that I read and will be reviewing was the ARC copy I received)

Wow guys, I don't even know where to start with this book. The story really took off right from the first page and wouldn't let me put it down until the final chapter. There are so many things I could talk about with People Like Us...so I guess I'll start with the characters

The best thing about reading a mystery novel is that, in the end, there's no one you can trust. That's why with every interaction between Kay and someone else, whether it be her best friend, her ex, her enemy, etc. there was always something hidden between the lines. Everyone in the novel always acted like they were hiding something, including Kay herself! And with every character being a fully fleshed out person with different backstories and motivations, it truly felt like I was involved in the mystery itself while reading this book!

And can we just talk about the plot itself! No spoilers here, I promise, but this story was so much more than a mystery. There was blackmail, lying, and soooo many secrets (ok, I guess that's what you would expect to find in a mystery novel but just trust me! This book didn't feel at all like your every day mystery story!). Its hard to say more without reveling anything, but with every flip of the page I felt like I was diving deeper and deeper into something a little more than the average dead girl found in a lake.

Anyway, while I reviewed the arc, this book is already out so be sure to find it at you local library, bookstore, or wherever else you get all your fantastic reads. While I love these back to back posts, I'm afraid you guys won't see me until April. But until then, happy reading! Katie C. signing off!

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 or Amazon or 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,