Thursday, January 30, 2014

Superlatives Giveaway Winners!

Oh my goodness...how has 2014 managed to get off to such a quick start? The first month is almost completely over, and we never announced our winners for the 2013 YA Superlatives giveaway!

But, we didn't forget about you guys. I promise. We drew some names at random from the people who participated every day in the blogfest, and the following people are the big winners of any 2013 release their little heart desires!



Rachel @ Beauty and the Bookshelf

Rebekah Faubion

Sophia L.

Stephanie Allen

Winners, please email Katy at katy.upperman at live.com with the 2013 release you would like to receive as your prize. You can choose any 2013 release and we'll send it your way!

Thank you all for participating in the blogfest! And start reading those 2014 books now!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Happy Book Birthday to THE LOST PLANET!

I am so thrilled to celebrate the release of THE LOST PLANET by Rachel Searles today!



This is what the boy is told:

• He woke up on planet Trucon, inside a fence he shouldn't have been able to pass.
• He has an annirad blaster wound to the back of his head.
• He has no memory.
• He is now under the protection of a mysterious benefactor.
• His name is Chase Garrety.

This is what Chase Garrety knows:

• He has a message: "Guide the star."
• Time is running out.


Sounds awesome, right? It is. This book is so action packed, I had a hard time finding a good place to put it down so I could go to sleep. I have a review coming up, but I'll spoil it a little for you...it's awesome.

Rachel is one of my nearest and dearest writing friends, and you may remember when I celebrated her agent signing and her book deal here on the blog. I'm thrilled that her book is out there in the world, so thrilled, actually, that I actually squealed out loud when I saw it on the bookstore shelves early this past weekend. (And ran to the register with it, of course.)

Due to some of the most ridiculous circumstances ever, I missed Rachel's launch party last night, and I am so sad about it. But that doesn't mean I can't celebrate here on the blog. Especially since Dana Elmendorf made this awesome book cover in honor of Rachel's release, featuring all of the lovely faces of the awesome ladies in our little group on her book cover.


Go give Rachel some love today on Twitter (@RachelSearles) and tell her Happy Book Birthday! And be sure to check out THE LOST PLANET, an exciting upper-MG space adventure that will have you holding your breath the entire way through.

HAPPY BOOK BIRTHDAY, RACHEL! I am so excited for you!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

BOOKANISTAS: Untold

Free from bonds, but not each other

It’s time to choose sides… On the surface, Sorry-in-the-Vale is a sleepy English town. But Kami Glass knows the truth. Sorry-in-the-Vale is full of magic. In the old days, the Lynburn family ruled with fear, terrifying the people into submission in order to kill for blood and power. Now the Lynburns are back, and Rob Lynburn is gathering sorcerers so that the town can return to the old ways.

But Rob and his followers aren’t the only sorcerers in town. A decision must be made: pay the blood sacrifice, or fight. For Kami, this means more than just choosing between good and evil. With her link to Jared Lynburn severed, she’s now free to love anyone she chooses. But who should that be?


I loved the first book in the Lynburn Legacy, Unspoken, more than is probably healthy. On the surface these don't seem like books I would become obsessed with. I mean, I'll read fantasy books about magic and sorcerers and stuff, but I don't really seek them out and I certainly don't lose my mind over them. But Unspoken really spoke to me (heh), and I was chomping at the bit for this second installment. 

I hate when an awesome book one is followed by a lackluster book two, but that was not the case with this series. I was especially worried after the shocking ending of the first book, but this one was just as awesome! There are two things I love about this series, and they were both shining in Untold: The humor and the Kami/Jared relationship. (And by relationship, I just mean the friendship/banter/conflict/drama.) This book is just as laugh-out-loud funny as the first one...there is seriously a comment or line or situation to laugh about on almost every page, and I love that. Especially when things start to get a little sense with all the magic stuff. It's so great to have comic relief. Constant comic relief. 

And oh that Kami and Jared friendship. I love these two crazy kids and I love that they have the most complicated relationship / friendship / whatever it is known to man. I love all of their drama and angst, but I also love how much they care about each other, rely on each other, and help each other. Seriously, you could get rid of the actual plots in the books for all I care...I just want to read about Kami and Jared hanging out forever. 

I can't wait for the final book in the series. Although, I may cry when this one is over. It won't be easy to say goodbye to these characters.

Check out what the other Bookanistas are up to...

Thursday, January 9, 2014

BOOKANISTAS: The Promise of Amazing

Wren Caswell is average. Ranked in the middle of her class at Sacred Heart, she’s not popular, but not a social misfit. Wren is the quiet, “good” girl who's always done what she's supposed to—only now in her junior year, this passive strategy is backfiring. She wants to change, but doesn’t know how.

Grayson Barrett was the king of St. Gabe’s. Star of the lacrosse team, top of his class, on a fast track to a brilliant future—until he was expelled for being a “term paper pimp.” Now Gray is in a downward spiral and needs to change, but doesn’t know how. 

One fateful night their paths cross when Wren, working at her family’s Arthurian-themed catering hall, performs the Heimlich on Gray as he chokes on a cocktail weenie, saving his life literally and figuratively. What follows is the complicated, awkward, hilarious, and tender tale of two teens shedding their pasts, figuring out who they are—and falling in love.


It's no surprise that I enjoyed the heck out of this book. I mean, did you read that description? It pretty much screams JESS BOOK! I love me a good romance between an unlikely guy and girl!

I think my favorite part of this book is Grayson. And not because he's so swoonworthy. It's sort of the opposite, actually. I mean, he's hot and all, but the boy is a wreck. Not only did he get kicked out of school for selling term papers, but he has an even worse secret he's hiding and BOY is it despicable. I loved that about him, though! I love flawed characters and characters who have made huge mistakes and characters who do terrible things over and over again. That's why I liked Grayson...I thought, dang, this guy is real, and I like that.

(I did recently read a book with a very flawed boy and I pretty much hated him...that's another story, and I have a theory as to why that is.)

There's a lot of humor in this book (cocktail weenie choking! Arthurian-themed catering hall!) and there's also a lot of swoon. Plus there are boys behaving (oh so) badly in the mix, just to keep you on your toes. 

Check out what the other Bookanistas are up to today... 

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Happy New Year, Happy New Goals! Part 2

Yesterday I blogged about my 2013 goals and how those worked out for me. Today I want to focus on the year ahead and set some goals for 2014.

They say you should spend the first day of the year how you want to spend the entire year. Yesterday I started the day laughing with one of my best friends, then I napped, I spent time with my husband (and even watched my wedding video, which I never watch), I took my dogs out for a long walk and loved on them like crazy, I blogged, I thought about my goals, I spent some time alone listening to good music, I did some writing, I did some reading, and I did some cleaning. The only thing I wished I would have fit in was a workout, but it was either that or the nap and, let's face it, the nap is always going to win. So, yeah, aside from the working out, I spent the day exactly how I'd like to spend the year ahead.

2014 goals

1. Write one entire book and plot another one
Now that I know I can be a more efficient writer, thanks to 2013, I want to try to write one entire book this year. I know I probably won't be able to do more than that right now, so I'd also like to plot out another book. I'm hoping this isn't too ambitious, because I have no idea what this year has in store for me, but right now I think it's pretty do-able.

2. Read 52 books in 2014
So, this book reading goal has been the same for the past few years, but I think it's a good one and I feel no need to change it. One book a week is a good challenge with everything else that's on my plate. It reminds me to make time for reading even when I feel like I'm too busy for it, and that's really what I need sometimes. If I get in more, that's great, but I want to end the year having read at least one book a week.

3. Do what I can
I've been struggling to come up with a 3rd goal, and I'm totally at a loss here. Since 2013 ended up being such a surprise, and because there are so many things in the air this coming year that I have no control over, I'm struggling to come up with a goal I know I can complete. I'm just going to try to do what I can when I can. I think I'm going to make small goals for every few months, because looking at the year as a whole is like looking out into the abyss.

Last year I picked a word to focus on, and I think that was really helpful, so I'm going to do it again. My focus word for 2014 is
BALANCE

This past year really threw a lot at me, and, I'm not going to lie, managing everything was a total struggle for me. Especially toward the end of the year. I just got so overwhelmed by all of my responsibilities - teaching, my MFA, writing PUSH GIRL, revising IRL, and my real life - working out, being a good wife / friend / dog mom, and having a bit of a social life. I had to give some things up (like blogging...as I'm sure you noticed), but it's difficult for me to abandon things I really love. And I can't afford to give a half-ass effort to any of these things, really. Not the teaching or the writing or the MFA-ing, anyway. So, I sorta collapsed under the weight of it all at the end of the year, and had a little bit of a breakdown.

Just because a calendar page is turning doesn't mean that things are suddenly going to get easier for me. In fact, 2014 brings the release of PUSH GIRL into the world and that's going to bring stress and pressure and other baggage that I can't even really wrap my head around right now. So, in the coming year I'm really going to put a special focus on keeping all of the parts of my life in balance. It's not going to be easy, and it's definitely going to involve saying no to some things or cutting out some things in favor of my sanity.

I put a major focus on positivity this past year, and it really did work for me. Hoping a focus on balance in 2014 will have the same result.

What goals do you have for 2014?

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year! Happy New Goals! Part 1

See you later, 2013! You were okay in some ways and awesome in others, but I'm definitely ready to move on. And YAY 2014! This is going to be a big one! I always love the new year because I love the idea of a fresh start. I love making goals and figuring out how to meet them, and I love the excuse to make some changes to my life.

Last year I set some goals for myself, so I wanted to revisit them (I outlined them here) and see how I did before I move on to 2014's goals.

2013 Goals

1. Start and finish a new project in 2013

I totally did this! I had no idea how this was going to work out when I wrote this goal last year. All I wanted was to try to become a more efficient writer. Well, that's one thing that working on PUSH GIRL this year was really useful for! I went from first word to final editor revision in a little over six months, which was way faster than I ever thought I could write! I'm so glad that circumstances worked out the way they did to show me that I CAN be an efficient writer. I learned so much about my writing process through working on this book this year. 

2. Try something new in my writing life
Again, I had no idea what this was going to be when I wrote this goal, I only knew I wanted to shake things up in my writing life. Again, PUSH GIRL provided me this opportunity! To write under a deadline, to write a book I knew would be published, to work with an editor, to work with a co-author...all of this stuff was brand new to me, and super fun! It's not the "something new" I had even imagined when I wrote out this goal in January. It ended up being even better!

3. Read 52 books
I finished the year with 56 books - 53 new books and 3 re-reads. I'm so glad I still managed to stay with my book-a-week pace even with everything I had going on this year!

2013's word: POSITIVITY
After 2012 was so terrible for me, I really wanted to keep a focus in 2013 on staying positive and not letting the bad stuff in life get me down. I have to say that this focus really served me well this year! I did have some very rough patches in 2013, but I tried to keep my eyes trained on the good stuff, and I found that I was rewarded with some good things at my very lowest points. I believe a lot in the power of attraction, so making a thoughtful effort to think about the good really did bring good things into my life this year. (It didn't bring me everything I wanted, but  I'm really convinced that the universe has me dealing with certain things for very specific reasons.)

Tomorrow I'm going to share my goals for 2014. 

How did you do with your goals for 2013? Did you accomplish everything you wanted to accomplish this past year?