Traci Chee’s The Reader (available September 13th) is a book about books, which is basically a win-win. In The Reader, Sefia’s world isn’t supposed to have books – but when Sefia discovers one, it could be the key to her saving one person she loves and avenging the death of another. Check out the details:
One of the best combinations in life is that of the beach and a good book. With a background soundtrack consisting of gull cries and waves slapping the shore, it’s beyond easy to get lost within the pages of a story. While there are tons of lists about what the best books of the summer are circulating, we worked to compile a short list of five that we found to be knockouts. Check out our picks below!
Like the rest of the Harry Potter generation, I spent my 11th birthday hoping for a Hogwarts letter that never came. I contented myself with the fact that Hogwarts is in the United Kingdom and I’m not, so maybe I was just too far away for them. But now, J.K. Rowling has ruined my life by releasing Pottermore information on a North American school.
Regardless of how upset I am (hint: very) that I didn’t get to go to a wizarding school for middle and high school, I am determined to embrace Ilvermorny just like eight-year-old me first embraced Hogwarts. But so far, it’s been hard to do that.
In Aditi Khorsan’s Mirror in the Sky, Tara, who has always felt like something of an outcast at her private school full of students both richer and whiter than her, has her life flipped upside-down when Terra Nova, an “alternate” Earth is discovered. Tara’s social life changes drastically, and the existence of Terra Nova causes shifts in her relationships with friends and family.
I’m going to present you with a conundrum: You want to check out Hollie Overton’s new thriller, Baby Doll, available July 12th, but you’re worried that it might be a little too creepy for your summer poolside reading. Fear not, So Fetch Daily has the fix! Enter to win the Safe and Sound prize pack, which contains a copy of Baby Doll as well as a cozy throw and a corkscrew so you can curl up safely on the couch to read the book’s twists and turns.
I received my review copy of Eliza Wass’s The Cresswell Plot buried in a wooden box full of dirt. Needless to say, it piqued my attention. Everything about the book, from the unsettling cover to the eerie blurb makes you think you’re in for an extremely creepy read. And yeah, The Cresswell Plot is definitely creepy, although it may not be creepy enough to satiate readers hoping to be truly unsettled. Continue reading “Book Review: ‘The Cresswell Plot’ by Eliza Wass”→
I read Lauren Gibaldi’s debut novel, The Night We Said Yes, earlier this year and I couldn’t put it down. A YA novel about young love lost and found and it was exactly what I needed. Lauren’s next YA novel, Autofocus, comes out this summer and I can’t wait to pick it up.
Pulled from Goodreads, the brief synopsis sums it up without giving too much away:
It’s always been a loaded word for Maude. And when she is given a senior photography assignment—to create a portfolio that shows the meaning of family—she doesn’t quite know where to begin. But she knows one thing: without the story of her birth mother, who died when Maude was born, her project will be incomplete.
So Maude decides to visit her best friend, Treena, at college in Tallahassee, Florida, where Maude’s birth mother once lived. But when Maude arrives, she quickly discovers that Treena has changed. With a new boyfriend and a packed social calendar, Treena doesn’t seem to have time for Maude—or helping Maude in her search.
Enter Bennett, a cute guy who lives in Treena’s dorm. He understands Maude’s need to find her mother. And as Bennett helps Maude in her search, she starts to find that her mother’s past doesn’t have to define her own future.
Lauren was kind enough to answer a few questions about her new book, her life as an author, and what’s next:
What inspired you to start writing?
Lauren Gibaldi: I’ve kept a journal since I was in 4th grade, so I kind of always wrote. (Obviously it wasn’t very interesting back then; I mostly wrote about how annoying my younger brother was.) I’d write short stories as a kid, mostly putting myself in Grave Danger where I’d have to leave the haunted forest or something. They lasted for about two paragraphs. I stopped writing for fun, and more for school, and ended up majoring in English in college. I wrote articles for newspapers and magazines and eventually wanted to try fiction again. And quickly I learned, for me at least, that fiction is way more fun!
Tell us a little bit about your next book, Autofocus.
LG: When Maude is given a school photography assignment to capture what it means to be “family,” she decides to search for information on her deceased birth mother, whom she’s never known. She goes to Tallahassee, Florida, where she was born, and stays with her best friend Treena. While there, she learns more about her mom (and her best friend’s new social life) and wonders if who we are is determined at birth, or if we can change as we grow.
Do you write characters based on anyone you know?
LG: Nope, everyone is fictional, though there are bits and pieces of my real life I thrown in. For instance, I went to college in Tallahassee, so many of the landmarks are places I enjoyed. In my first book, The Night We Said Yes, the guys in the band The Pepperpots are fictional, but I stole the name from my friends’ high school band. It’s a little shout out to them. They came to my release party to celebrate, too!
Have any of them been based on you? Would you base a character on yourself?
LG: Nope, but I think there’s part of me in the characters. Ella in The Night We Said Yes is very much like me, but she’s not based on me. We have some similar perceptions on friendship; on standing out. In Autofocus, Maude and I are different, but I can still find pieces of myself in her.
Would you ever write a series?
LG: I don’t know about a series, but I’d be happy doing a related story. After The Night We Said Yes came out, I wrote Matt’s Story, a novella told from the main guy’s point of view. I loved re-visiting the characters in a new way. Honestly, if I could write an entire book about Jake, I would. That said, I wouldn’t want to do a sequel to TNWSY. Ella’s story is done there. So I’ll never say never! But right now I like doing stand-alone books.
Who is your favorite author? Or multiple if you can’t choose?
LG: Aside from being a writer, I’m a librarian, so this is a very hard question! Let’s go by categories. In picture books, I (and my daughter) love Mo Willems, Dan Santat, and Tammi Sauer. In middle grade, I adore Rebecca Stead (her newest book is fantastic), Lois Lowry (my childhood favorite!), and of course JK Rowling. In adult fiction, I enjoy Nick Hornby, Nicole Krauss, Lauren Groff, Curtis Sittenfeld, and J Courtney Sullivan. Also David Sedaris. In classics, F Scott Fitzgerald and Charlotte Bronte. And in YA, EVERYONE. I can’t choose favorites. They’re all fantastic. (My writer heroes are Sarah Dessen, Stephanie Perkins, and Stephen Chbosky.)
What was the last book you were really obsessed with and couldn’t put down?
LG: I have a toddler, so I don’t read much (sad!). I read The Rosie Project for my library’s book club, and really enjoyed it. And Outrun the Moon, a YA novel about the San Francisco earthquake and a girl left in the wake, is tremendously good.
Follow Lauren on Twitter and make sure to check out The Night We Said Yes and pick up Autofocus when it hits shelves June 14th.
You know that feeling of anticipation you get when the final book in a beloved series finally comes out? It’s that feeling where you’re partially super excited because you really want to know how it ends, but you’re also kind of anxious that it’s not going to meet your high expectations? So yeah, that’s where I was at when I picked up the final book in Rick Yancey’s The 5th Wave series, The Last Star.
I loved The 5th Wave. It had a lot going for it – a unique spin on the oft-rehashed post-apocalyptic scenario, a strong female lead, a survival story, and aliens. The story felt immediate and engaging, making it one of my favorite reads of the year. When the sequel, The Infinite Sea, came out, I wasn’t disappointed, exactly…just cautious. I liked the book fine, but something about it just felt different. That x factor I loved about the first book was missing, replaced with a bit too much philosophy and metaphor for the likes of me. But perhaps it was a bridge book issue. Maybe I’d find that thing I was looking for in the final book, The Last Star.
Did I? Yes and no. A large portion of the book did feel a bit truer to the original vibe of the series than The Infinite Sea – a fast-paced survival story that just happens to include aliens. I was really interested to see how Yancey could possibly tie up this epic story. To his credit, he manages to both provide a satisfying conclusion without wrapping things up too neatly for a story of this magnitude.
I appreciated that Yancey had a clear plan for his story progression; there are some confusing bits here and there but for the most part The Last Star helped me make more sense of what was happening in The Infinite Sea, and everything seemed to tie together fairly well. I tend to prefer sci-fi stories that are at least somewhat reality-based, in that I can imagine them being within the realm of possibility and not complete fantasy. This series stays in that realm quite well for the first couple of books, but some of the events at the end, in particular, strayed a bit too far into the unbelievable for my taste. And on that note…
I kind of hated the ending. I understand why it ended the way it did, and I would even go so far as to say it makes more sense than any other ending. I think the problem I had was that I was expecting some sort of major revelation or twist. Throughout the series, there’s this sense of secrecy and conspiracy and I just kept waiting for something new to come to light that really changed my understanding of this story. It just didn’t happen, and that left me disappointed.
And, without getting too spoilery, there’s a super cliche and unnecessary story thread in The Last Star that feels like an afterthought throughout the entire book, until it gets forced down your throat at the end. It’s a common storytelling device; it’s symbolic, whatever…I was just hoping for something a little more original when the series had so much promise of being unique from the get go.
What’s really disappointing is that overall, The Last Star is a fantastic book. Aside from playing a little fast and loose with its core group of characters, the story is cohesive, suspenseful, and exciting. Leading up to the final section of the book, I was feeling pretty darn optimistic. Unfortunately there’s no way for me to talk about this book as a series ender without dwelling heavily on the actual ending, and sadly that piece was a major letdown for me. Still, I’m glad I read The Last Star and, had I not had several years’ worth of series ending expectations built up, it’s very likely my overall impression, ending included, would have been better.
I’d also like to mention how grateful I am for the existence of this series, because I do think it has opened the door for more YA sci-fi books to see the light of day, and encouraged interested authors to pursue the genre more. Oh, and I’m just one person – there are plenty of readers out there who absolutely loved The Last Star and thought the ending was perfect. So I say – take your chances. Regardless of your thoughts on the ending, it’s an exciting ride.
Do you know what you’ll be doing May 24th? Because I know I, for one, will be wishing that I could spend the entire day reading the final book in Rick Yancey’s The 5th Wave series, The Last Star. Probably sitting at my desk at work, trying not to scroll through Goodreads reviews for fear of potential spoilers, waiting impatiently for my chance to pick up The Last Star and dive right in.
If you’ve read The 5th Wave and its follow-up, The Infinite Sea, you understand why I’m antsy. This is a high stakes series. Aliens are taking over the earth, but a small group of survivors remains, and no one knows why the aliens haven’t just wiped out the whole planet. The stakes are high, and there are still so many questions about these aliens’ intentions and the fate of our lovely band of main characters, Cassie, Zombie, Ringer and Evan.
I’m honestly at a bit of a loss in terms of guessing how this series will play out. I have all the faith in the world in Yancey’s planning abilities and have no doubt that he will wrap up the series wonderfully, but man…how does a band of teenagers (albeit super tough ones) save the earth from aliens? I don’t expect a convenient happy ending where these kids convince the aliens to leave them alone by proving how wonderful humanity truly can be.
But I also don’t see this series ending on a tragedy either. The message throughout the first two books was hope, so I do think one way or another there will be a resolution that doesn’t end in the decimation of the human race. So far there have been a considerable amount of plot twists in the series, so I expect there to be a major one in The Last Star, but what will it be? My running theory is that maybe these aliens who we thought were responsible for all the terrible things in the first couple of books either aren’t truly the ringmaster of the destruction. But then who is?
Let us know your theories in the comments, and be sure to check out The Last Star when it hits stores (and e-readers) on May 24th!
If you’re a YA fan, you’re probably familiar with Jesse Andrews’ debut novel, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, a book which is far funnier than its title might initially suggest. I had a chance to check out Andrews’ second novel, The Haters (In stores now!), and I can assure you that he keeps the laughs coming. The Haters tells the story of a couple of friends attending jazz camp whose lives are turned upside-down by a mysterious girl who suggests ditching jazz camp for a cross-country tour for the group’s brand new band.
We all know road trip stories are perfect for summer, so listen up: you can enter below to win your very own copy of The Haters to put at the top of your summer to-read pile! You’ll also win a Spotify premium 3-month subscription gift card to make sure your own summer road trip tunes are on point!
One (1) winner receives:
a copy of The Haters and branded bumper sticker;
plus a Spotify premium 3-month subscription gift card.
Open to US addresses only.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jesse Andrews’s debut novel, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, a New York Times and USA Today bestseller, was published to critical acclaim and starred reviews. His adaptation of the book for the big screen won both the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival. Jesse is also a musician and screenwriter. He lives in Boston, Massachusetts. Visit Jesse at www.jesseandrews.com.
Last year, Renee Adieh’s The Wrath and the Dawn was the book that finally managed to pull me out of my annual late winter reading slump. It’s such an interesting mix of fantasy, romance, folklore and action – it feels different and interesting even if you’re already familiar with the inspiration, One Thousand and One Nights. I’ve been looking forward to the sequel, The Rose and the Dagger, which is available now.
Interestingly, One Thousand and One Nights is sort of trendy right now in fiction – between reading The Wrath and the Dawn and The Rose and the Dagger, I actually read a different YA novel inspired by it – A Thousand Nights. As a result, I’d kind of mixed up some of the things from The Wrath and the Dawn with things from A Thousand Nights, and it took me a while to remember exactly who some of the characters were and what role they played in the story. No biggie, though – you could actually jump into The Rose and the Daggerwithout having read the first book and have it make sense. But please don’t do that, because you’d be missing out!
Last time I tried to recap the story leading into a series book my paragraphs got out of hand quickly, so if you want a reminder, check out my review of The Wrath and the Dawn. The Rose and the Dagger starts a bit slowly. Sharzad and Khalid are separated, with Khalid attempting to clean up his kingdom after the magical disaster brought by Sharzad’s father, and Sharzad seeking solace in the desert. Sharzad is attempting to understand her magic, and in doing so realizes that she may be able to help Khalid break his curse with help from the right people. Complicating things are Sharzad’s father’s misguided attempts to use his own magical power to make up for the havoc he wreaked across the kingdom, as well as ongoing political upheaval threatening war at any moment.
For me, there was a clear separation in the overall tone of The Rose and the Dagger compared to The Wrath and the Dawn. The first book was a story of world-building, character and relationship evolution, and ongoing suspense as Sharzad simply tried to stay alive. The Wrath and the Dawn focuses on the political (and magical!) repercussions of all that – the results of what was set up in the first book. It felt a little less suspense & romance and a little more fantasy & strategy. That’s not to say the books aren’t cohesive, though. All of the beautiful world-building from the first book continues, and the characters readers grew to know and love (or hate, as the case may be) return true to form in The Rose and the Dagger.
I’m not quite sure how Adieh pulls it off, but she manages to make Sharzad dangerously close to a Mary Sue, yet Sharzad is still extremely likable due to the dimension Adieh is able to give her. Other characters (Sharzad’s power-hungry father, for example), aren’t always afforded the time for such depth, but I really only found this troubling in one regard – the mysterious GENIE, who is initially introduced in such a way that I expected to become very familiar with him, but on the last page of the story I felt like he had never really been explored effectively.
I love how Adieh is able to present an epic story without going overboard on page count…or amount of books. It allows the story to move along swiftly and makes it easier to keep up with the wide array of characters, clans, kingdoms, and the politics between them. I’m not terribly familiar with One Thousand and One Nights beyond things that have been adapted from it, so I can’t speak to how closely Adieh followed its stories for inspiration, but I can say there were at least a couple fairly major plot twists that were executed really nicely. Set up with subtlety, withheld for just the right amount of time to make you forget the setup and then…bam!
The one thing I struggled with in the first book was Sharzad’s father’s use of magic. The short chapters following Jahander just did not interest me, and having the climax of the first book so influenced by him was a disappointment for me. I was nervous about how that plot thread would carry over into The Rose and the Dagger. Fortunately, although there are chapters that focus on Jahander and his story is followed up on, I had absolutely no trouble with how it was executed. The chapters were more engaging and less frequent, and plot thread itself made much more sense to me in the context of this book.
Ever wonder what a normal day is like for an author? I know I do. Usually my imagination conjures up one of two scenarios: They hole up in a cozy office drinking coffee and writing maniacally without stopping for human interaction or sustenance…or they spend half the day writing extremely productively, then get to hang out by the pool or snuggle with a dog the rest of the day.
Romance writer Lauren Smith, author of The League of Rogues, The Surrender andHer British Stepbrotherseries, volunteered to give TDQ a peek at the reality of being an author. But Lauren’s not just any author – she splits her time between writing and working part time as an attorney! Keep reading to get a peek at what a normal day looks like for Lauren as she balances her careers.
I used to be a part time writer, full-time attorney. Let me just say…I don’t know how I survived four years of that. Intense is the best way to describe it. I used to write my novels in the most random and occasionally awkward of places. Think of me perched over a desk in a lounge of a courthouse bathroom basement, or instead, acrobatically using one arm to guard my notebook as I scribbled away in the middle of a long docket waiting for the judge to call my case. Lauren Smith, undercover author and attorney extraordinaire.
Well, those days behind me. I’m now a full time writer, part-time attorney. It’s a bit of a switch-up but, technically speaking (or maybe just in my heart), I have been a full-time writer all this time. When you love something and you think about it about 97% of the day – what’s more full time than that? Now I just have more hours to actively work on what I love. So what does a day in the life of romance writer look like? Follow me…
5am: I’m up and wide awake, downing my first Diet Dr. Pepper and walking the dogs. I am a total animal person. My pet crew includes a chinchilla (Churro), a betta fish (Neptune), a long-haired prissy cat (Tiki) and two dogs: a black schnauzer named (Fritz) and a wheaten terrier (Evangeline, or Evie for short).
6am: Laundry. You know those shirts don’t fold themselves….nor do those pesky socks pair up on their own. For every author, there is a special get-up they prefer to wear on a day-to-day basis while working. Much to my fashionista mother’s dismay, my writing uniform is jeans, a comfy tee and my lucky white Converse sneakers. It’s all about the comfort. If you’re thinking about what you wear, you forget to write. No Dior gowns for this girl.
7am: Hit the gym for a long run and meditate on the future of the characters in my current work in progress. Once I start running, my mind goes into a trance; you forget how much you don’t want to be, and lose yourself in the story as it unfolds in your head. Let’s face it, I love to play God. Today I’m picturing six Regency era rogues grouped in the woods just outside a Scottish castle, discussing how one goes about laying siege to a castle in order to rescue a damsel (who doesn’t in fact need rescuing). You can expect some giggles from me while I run and plan this out.
8am: Shower and eye my pajama pants wistfully. I should put on “real clothes” before ten in the morning.
10am to Noon: Work on day job assignments. It’s fun to dive into my legal work for part of the day. It helps me balance my creative side by using my logical side for a few hours. But after that work is over, I’m rip-roaring and ready to go back to the characters.
Lunch: But first, lunch and some fresh air – which means another dog walk.
1pm to 4pm: This is it. Magic time. I peer deep into my well of inspiration and drag my muse out from the bottom by her hair and force her to work with me. Picture me with a stack of verb books, Scottish Country Houses, Character Trait books, and music! Music is pivotal. I’ve got my noise cancellation headphones and my playlist loaded with Florence + The Machine, Hans Zimmer and Sia. I need just the right songs to help me imagine how those six rogues will go about seizing a castle to rescue one of their lady loves. Sometimes I have a rough day where the words don’t want to come and it feels like the characters are just standing there waiting for me to push them in a genius direction. On days like those, I have to take a step back, go on an extra walk with the dogs, listen to more music and allow the pieces to fall together themselves. As Terry Brooks, a fav author of mine, says: “Sometimes the magic works, sometimes it doesn’t.”
4pm to 5pm: Share steamy scenes with a friend and giggle over her reactions. Then dive into my research materials to make some notes on less steamy but historically interesting topics like where men would go boxing during the regency, what sort of coach a bachelor would drive when escorting a lady to the park and what roads a rogue might use to whisk a lady away to Scotland to marry her without her family’s consent.
5pm: Stare at the stove in my house and wish it could magically make something delicious for dinner. I’m a passable cook, but I really hate it. I usually end up calling my mom and asking her what I can whip up in half an hour with minimal effort. Tonight it’s a homemade meatloaf recipe from the Molly section of my American Girl cookbook. Yes, I’ve had this cookbook for twenty years, and every recipe is fabulous.
6pm to 9pm: Turn on some TV. It feels so good to indulge in someone else’s fantasy world. But my laptop is still out so I can work on some much needed edits or check in with my friends and my readers on social media.
9pm to 10pm: I’m settling down in my bed and perusing my ever growing to-be-read pile which includes the latest Karen Robard’s book, The Meaning of Night, and The Mummy by Anne Rice.
10pm: Time for some shut-eye. The best nights end with dreams about scenes that will unfold tomorrow in my notebook. Tonight I’m imagining a super sexy blond-haired baron and how he’ll win over a fiery Scottish business woman. Man, I love being a writer!
Lauren Smith is a romance author, living in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Her series include The League of Rogues from Samhain Publishing, and The Surrender and Her British Stepbrother series from Grand Central Publishing. She has also written for Heroes & Heartbreakers and Bustle. For more (including cute animal photos), follow Lauren on Twitter @LSmithAuthor or laurensmithbooks.com.
As an English major, books are my everything. Becoming completely enthralled in a world and reading until the sun comes up is one of my biggest hobbies. But every now and then, a world and characters I have grown to love disappoint me in the end. As a writer I can sympathize. Endings are so hard. No ending will satisfy every single reader. But here are a few books that have massive dissatisfaction. Spoilers ahead, obviously.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
As a book lover, I can guarantee to if you go poll a bunch of readers and ask what novel ending disappointed them the most at least half will say the final Harry Potterbook, The Deathly Hallows. I love Harry Potter, I really do. It shaped my entire childhood. I even have a Deathly Hallows tattoo! But I will always admit how much the epilogue sucked. Pairing every single living character up and having kids seems like such an easy way out. And don’t even get me started on the children’s awful names. I suppose with 7 books worth of death and destruction J.K. Rowling just wanted some happiness, but who really wants that? Happy endings just seem cheesy and disatisfying.
Allegiantis the final book of the Divergenttrilogy. Throughout the whole series, we follow Tris and see her world of factions. It was a very interesting dynamic for a series and definitely caught my attention. I read the first two books in a matter of days, then I had to wait a year for the final book. And then Allegiant came out and Tris got away from the factions all together by leaving her city. The idea of pure and damaged genes are introduced when they go to the Bureau of Genetic Welfare, and it is all mostly uninteresting. Then at the end of the book, Tris dies, sacrificing herself to save her awful brother. Allegiant fast forwards two years and shows Chicago at peace and factionless. All in all, I was devastated that this strong female character ended up needlessly sacrificing herself. The movie comes out this month and is being split into two parts. Maybe the movie will do it better?
I read The Hunger Games in high school and I was obsessed. I was absolutely enthralled in this post-apocalyptic chaotic society. After I read the first two novels, I had to wait a couple months for the final book to come out. During that time, I spent a lot of time on Tumblr and was introduced to the idea that Katniss was asexual and that’s why she was kind of indifferent to both Peeta and Gale when it came to anything more than friendship. Her kissing them was just a way to make them happy and stay in her life when she didn’t know what else to do. I absolutely loved this theory because it put a spin on the classic love triangle and also put the spotlight on a sexuality that doesn’t get talked about much. However, in the end, Katniss ends up having children with Peeta and I was very, very disappointed.
As I said before, endings are hard. I understand I’m not always going to enjoy the endings the author chooses to write. The fact I was disappointed with these three novels doesn’t mean I renounce them all together. I still reread the Harry Potterseries every summer! Disappointment happens but it makes us realize that these very talented people wanted to share their creation and we should appreciate them for creating these worlds for us to get lost in.