Friday, July 31, 2015

Thoughts from a First Timer at RWA Nationals

Last week, I attended the national conference at RWS.
I was So happy to attend (And to check it off my bucket list).

I come from a different background - I have the blogger hat, the professional reviewer hat (VOYA), and the former YA Librarian hat (10 years). So I feel like I had a different experience than other newbie RAW attendees.
While I'm not new to writing, I am new to writing organizations/conferences.

New to Me:
  • So much support from strangers
  • Newbie ribbon
  • Everyone wants you to succeed
  • Not YA focused* 
  • Packed schedule (not much time for coffee breaks)
  • Volunteers ran things
  • More writers than I anticipated
* I write YA. In library conferences, they have tracks set up by age groups: Kids, YA, Adult. The set-up here was very different. 

Not New:
  • Everyone was happy to talk about books/authors
The Workshops:
  • SO many wonderful workshops
  • I took pages and pages and pages of notes
  • Inspiring
  • Several favorite authors presenting - learning from the best
  • Love sharing knowledge - from workshops to chatting in the halls
  • Fascinating and funny presenters
  • Lots of tips and tricks to test out
  • Knowing more rules (And when to break them)
  • Great for the soul - everyone is amazingly nice
  • Knowledge that no two paths are the same (what works for one person won't work for someone else)
What was Fantastic:
  • Workshops
  • Meeting so many authors I admire
  • Hearing the struggles and successes of authors
What was Hard for me:
  • I grabbed way too many books (mostly good, but carrying them was hard and now I need to find space for them in my house)
  • I had a hard time putting myself out there
  • Exploring the area
  • Having a food adventure
Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go write.
 I have so many new tips and tricks to add to my WIPs!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

More Spy Books

I'm over at the YALSA Hub Blog today talking about Spy Books with the release of Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation this weekend. Here are a few favorites that I didn't include because they were previously on the HUB or not part of a series or not temporary.
The Recruit (Cherub, #1)Stormbreaker (Alex Rider, #1)Alibi Junior High
I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You (Gallagher Girls, #1)Two Lies and a Spy (Two Lies and a Spy, #1)Also Known As (Also Known As, #1)Perfect Cover (The Squad, #1)

And some historical:

Maid of Secrets (Maids of Honor, #1)A Spy in the House (The Agency, #1)

Check out the YALSA blog post here
And be sure to tell me your favorite MG/YA spy book

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Blog Tour: The Veil

Seven years ago, the Veil that separates us from what lies beyond was torn apart, and New Orleans was engulfed in a supernatural war. Now, those with paranormal powers have been confined in a walled community that humans call the District. Those who live there call it Devil’s Isle.
Claire Connolly is a good girl with a dangerous secret: she’s a Sensitive, a human endowed with magic that seeped through the Veil. Claire knows that revealing her skills would mean being confined to Devil’s Isle. Unfortunately, hiding her power has left her untrained and unfocused…
Liam Quinn knows from experience that magic makes monsters of the weak, and he has no time for a Sensitive with no control of her own strength. But when he sees Claire using her powers to save a human under attack — in full view of the French Quarter — Liam decides to bring her to Devil’s Isle and the teacher she needs—even though getting her out of his way isn’t the same as keeping her out of his head.
As more and more Sensitives fall prey to their magic, and unleash their hunger on the city, Claire and Liam must work together to save New Orleans, or else the city will burn…
Good to Know:
About this series: There will be at least three books in the series
Tips on Writing: Getting published requires a great story AND execution. Your writing needs to be polished–and practice definitely helps. So does editing. Lots and lots of editing.
Favorite SeriesI love Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series, Rachel Caine’s Weather Warden series, Kim Harrison’s Hollows series, and J.D. Robb’s In Death series
Chloe's Reading List: This year's books
Check out the Trailer:

Sounds good right? Then check out the giveaways:
The fun doesn’t stop here. Want more chances to win? You can also enter THE VEIL Grand Prize Giveaway, which runs July 27 through August 7 on Chloe’s web site.
What is the Grand Prize Giveaway prize?
Fleur de Lis Amulet Pendant Necklace from New Orleans jewelry designer Mignon Faget
$50 Amazon Gift Card
THE VEIL 5″x5″ cloth screenwipe
THE VEIL tote bag
THE VEIL bookmark, sticker, and pen
Chicagoland Vampires bookmark, sticker, pen, keychain, and lanyard
Mini Giveaway from This Blog: 
The packet will include:
  • THE VEIL tote bag
  • THE VEIL 5″x5″ cloth screenwipe
  • THE VEIL bookmark, sticker, and pen
  • SWAG items

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Bookish Characters

This week's topic is the top book characters Who Are Fellow Book Nerds - heck yes! I love books with readers or characters who love to write. Here are a few of my favorites. 

 Celaena Sardothien 

Princess Mia

Tina Hakim Baba 

Anne of Green Gables 

Emily Byrd Starr 

Jo March 

Elizabeth Bennett 

Picture Book:

 Bonus: Rory Gilmore

I can't wait to read your favorites!

Tween Tuesday Review: Forget Me Not Summer

Three sisters visit their aunt for a few weeks in Cape Cod. When they arrive, they realize they won't have the distraction of either the internet or cable. Plus, they have to share a room.

Marigold can't believe it. She's finally got her big break with an agent and now she's shipped off for a month without being able to audition for a blockbuster movie.

Zinnia and Lily adjust a little better. Soon the three of them find their way. The two older girls spend their mornings at the beach, discovering new things the island has to offer. It might not have been the summer they had in mind, but it's still a fantastic summer.
My Thoughts: I loved this book. It's perfect for summer with spending time at the beach, eating seafood, and hanging out in the sun.

The sisters are wildly different, but sweet in their own ways. Lily is hilarious and charming as she always finds herself in trouble. Zinnia gets lost in the shadow of her older sister, but I love how she break free. Marigold gets caught up in the world of Hollywood and doesn't behave in the nicest manner. Even through their differences, these girls have a tight sisterly bond that nothing can break.

I love the freedom and sense of peace that comes over their days; it seems like the perfect summer vacation to me especially since the girls have to unplug and go exploring to find adventure. I love that the girls take chances and dream big.

Cover Thoughts: Charming
Source: The Library
 Fun Fact: Leila Howland also wrote the two YA books Nantucket Blue and Nantucket Red
Final Thoughts: Gobble this one up in the sun, you won't regret it! 

Monday, July 27, 2015

Mini Review: Guide to Photography

A beginning book of photography for kids for taking photos with both cameras and smart phones.
The Good:
Colorful photos
Tips and Tricks
Tons of information- set up in an easy to read manner
Interviews with famous photographers
Information on photography careers

The Bad:
Nothing - I enjoyed everything about this book

Overall Thoughts: Grab this one for the budding photographers in your life! It's a fantastic book to help get them started and excited.

I enjoyed this book so much that I took a few pictures after reading this book. Check them out:

* Book sent for review

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Where I am: Romance Writers of America

So, this week, I'm checking an item off my bucket list. For the first time in 11 years, I'm not running a library summer reading program. Instead, I'm going to RWA. 

It's close by, being in New York and I've always wanted to go. 

I'm terrified and excited all at the same time. I'm hoping to see friends there and of course meet new people if I can break out of my shell. 

Of course, I'm hoping to talk about some of the things I've been working on the past six months. I'll let you know how it goes when I return sometime next week - until then, I'm on a blogging vacation. 

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Review: The Heir

Twenty years after her parents met during The Selection, the kingdom changed. Now the caste system is obsolete, but the problems haven't gone away.

Princess Eadlyn has been preparing to take her father's place on the trone her whole life. With the political unrest, the people could use a distraction. So, she agrees to her own Selection.

A group of young men comes to the palace all vying for her hand in marriage. Princess Eadlyn is convinced she'll never fall in love.  She doesn't need the grand love that her parents have, but it would be nice to have a partner she can respect who will support and respect her. Will she find herself a prince consort among the contestants?
My Thoughts: I loved the Section trilogy, so I was SO happy to hear about the spin-off trilogy. And it didn't disappoint!

I loved the princess. I liked how Princess Eadlyn was torn between her duty of finding a mate and understanding her heart. I loved how she enjoyed politics and helping to run the country, even though at times it can seem like a burden. She's smart, determined, and blunt at times. I love how she began to understand her people and not see them only as a duty. She started to question  the idea of perfection and finding her self-worth outside her primary role. 

I loved learning more about the characters from the previous series and how their lives turned out. I really liked the blossoming friendship between the princess and Kile. I enjoyed her twin brother and his quirks. 

My only concern is why didn't the guys in the selection have to jump through hoops like the girls did? They didn't seem to have to plan or create anything to prove their worth.

I can't wait to see what happens next, especially after that ending!

Cover Thoughts: This one might be my favorite yet.
Source: My Library
Final Thoughts: If you haven't read this one yet, what are you waiting for? It's got everything: friendship, family drama, romance, kissing, political unrest, and a smart heroine you want to root for. 

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Diverse Characters

This week's topic is diverse characters. So here's my list of 10 books featuring diverse characters that I'm hoping to read soon!

Soundless SerpentineDon't Fail Me NowHollywood Witch HunterAna of California
Scarlett UndercoverThe Wrath and the Dawn (The Wrath and the Dawn, #1)Written in the StarsUntitled (An Ember in the Ashes, #2)P.S. I Still Love You (To All the Boys I've Loved Before, #2)

A bit younger:

Lola Levine Is Not Mean!Lillian's Right to Vote: A Celebration of the Voting Rights Act of 1965The Tiara on the TerraceDrama

Tween Tuesday Review: Blackthorne Key

Christopher works for his master, preparing medicinal items for the neighborhood. But with murders happening throughout the apothecary guild, his master's acting suspicious.

Then one afternoon after wrecking havoc in the shop, Christopher's mast beats him and sends him on a useless errand. When he returns, his master is lying on the floor - murdered. The the apothecary shop trashed. Someone was looking for something.

As Christopher puts the store back together, he finds a clue. Someone is desperately looking for something. And the police are looking for him. With the help of his best friend, Christopher manages to hide from the police who certainly have more questions for him.

Christopher follows the clues his master left behind in hopes of figuring out what really happened that night.
My Thoughts: I really enjoyed this middle grade debut - it was entertaining and mysterious. I loved learning about Christopher's life as an apprentice. I really loved his friendship with Tom - how they were mischievous, daring, and how they had each other's backs.

I loved this historical pieces of this book, I wanted to soak it all in.

I loved the secrets, the clues, the puzzles, the ciphers, the danger, the mystery, and the alchemy of this book. I turned the pages quickly on this because I wanted to know how it all worked out!

Cover Thoughts: LOVE
Source: BEA arc
Release date: September 1st
Final Thoughts: This book sucked me in and never let go. A fantastic debut novel.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Monday Matinee: The Duff

When Bianca's neighbor opens her eyes to the fact that she's a DUFF (designated ugly fat friend), she enlists his help on becoming date-able in exchange for her chemistry notes. 
My Thoughts*:
I really really enjoyed this movie.

I loved Bianca: she was sassy, smart, weird, relatable, and entertaining. I loved Bianca acting like a goof-ball during the clothing montage.

I Loved her mother - from her professional life to her dating sites to her advice at the end.

I liked Wesley - he was entertaining even though he was cocky. I liked the moments he had with Bianca.

I liked how classic mean girl assumed she was going to be famous and had one of her friends film everything about her life - just in case. 

I liked her Bianca's two friends - they both had talents and not just a pretty face.

I love it when the book author has a cameo in the movie!

*I fully admit that I haven't read the book this movie was based on yet. So I'll ask you, how closely did this match?
Final Thoughts: Buy this one for the Teen Dept in your library - but watch it yourself first!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Fall Programs (4)

 I know that Summer Reading is in full swing, but planning doesn't always take a back seat just because it's the busy season. So I thought I'd attempt to help and toss out a few ideas for fall - all from pinterest. Here are some fun looking craft ideas for Teen Read Week! 
Check out the official page for more info!

Transportation Ideas:
DIY Paper Airplanes (and test them)
DIY Boat

Tropical Ideas:
Recycled Fish
Wind Spirals