Tuesday, March 25, 2014

A Magical Release Day!


“Energy is never good or evil; it just is.”

I’ve always been a sucker for magic. I blame a childhood filled with


And an adolescence/adulthood obsessed with

But Daughter of Chaos is something unique. Jen McConnel weaves a madly creative web of mythology, goddesses, love, death, the underworld, and even Shakespeare.

Teaser: My favorite scene from Daughter of Chaos has a little something to do with this guy:

What (or who) causes chaos and horrors in our world? Find out. Daughter of Chaos is a magical read that releases TODAY!

Congrats to our Valentine, Jen McConnel!!!!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Cupid's Sweet Six Arrow Thingamajig: Book Rave/Interview With Victoria Scott, Author of FIRE & FLOOD

Guyyyyyyyyyys! It's Paula! Today I'm going to squee about The Crow, Iron Man, Cadbury Creme Eggs, Victoria Scott's awesome new book FIRE & FLOOD!! Aren't you proud of me? Look how bookish my priorities are. I am a professional writer!

Let me start off by saying that thanks to some sort of voodoo mind meld I put on Victoria, I actually got to read this book 8 months ago. I read it in one night when I was supposed to be revising something--I don't even remember what. But yeah. I about died of awesome. And then I had to keep one hand clasped across my mouth going 'Mmmmph' until some of my friends read it too.

Here are just a few reasons why I <3 Fire & Flood

1. THAT COVER. I love how stark and yet totally alive the cover is. I love the raindrops in the letters.

2. Tella feels like a REAL TEEN GIRL. Not all of us would become Katniss Everdeen if we got in over our heads in some creepy survival race. It's okay that at certain points Tella longs for her makeup and wonders if the guy walking behind her is looking at her butt. Girls think these things. Not ALL girls, of course, but this is the character Victoria wanted to write and I for one dig how different she is from the normal knife-throwing, rock-climbing, suddenly-good-at-all things YA heroine (though I like those girls too :D)

3. The Pandoras. Oh my sweet Jesus! I need like 6 or 7 of these immediately. I would buy them all in plush, but I really want them in REAL. 

4. The tone of the story. This book could have gotten grim really quickly, but Victoria keeps it from treading into super-dark territory by blending humor into a narrative that's already brimming with romance, mystery, and action.

Okay, enough blabbering on my part. Now let's hear what Victoria has to say about her masterpiece :)

1. Tell us about your book.
FIRE & FLOOD is a YA thriller set in modern day. The main character, Tella, enters a race across Jungle, Mountain, Desert, Sea to try and win the cure for her brother's illness. Each Contender in the race receives a Pandora--a genetically engineered animal--to help them try and win. I had a ton of fun writing this adventure book!

2. What scene in your book do you LOVE the most?
Probably the scene where Tella's Pandora hatches. I can't wait to see what animal readers think it will be. 

3. If you had to pick a YA character you LOVE (and not your own!) who would you pick and why?
I'm going to choose a fan favorite--Hermione Granger. She's smart, sassy, loyal, courageous, and grows as a person across the series. Win! 

4. What's the craziest/most memorable Valentine you've ever received?
It was in fourth grade from a boy I was mad crushing on. I was sure it meant he loved me...even though he gave everyone else one, also. I spent hours reading between those pre-printed lines. 

5. If you were a Brach's candy heart, what phrase would be written on you?
Poisonous. [Paula: Ugh. My least-favorite flavor of candy.]

6. And finally, the all-important choice: flowers or candy?
Flowers, all the way. Specifically, Peonies. 

I don't even know what peonies are, but they sound fun...like PONIES! Thanks for hanging out with us YA Valentines, Victoria! :) *activates mind meld in order to receive book #2* Also, if you guys haven't read THE COLLECTOR, that is one of the most hilarious books ever, and you should read that too--for the bad boy who totally is a bad boy who maybe is a little bit of a good guy but still deliciously bad throughout :) Basically, I am obsessed with everything Victoria writes.

Victoria Scott writes teen fiction and is represented by Sarah Crowe. She’s the author of the Fire & Flood series published by Scholastic, and the Dante Walker trilogy published by Entangled Teen. Her books have been bought and translated in nine foreign markets including the UK, Germany, Turkey, Poland, Australia, China, Brazil, New Zealand, and The Netherlands. Victoria lives in Dallas with her husband and adores cotton candy. Visit her online at VictoriaScottYA.com. 

Saturday, March 15, 2014

The Valentine Files: Book Sekrits!

Hi everyone!

It's the 14th of the month . . . which means it's time for another edition of the Valentine files! *screams with ALL THE EXCITEMENT* ;)

(Yes I realize that today is the fifteenth but bear with me. Some weeks --and days!--sneak by like that! It was drafted…andI didn't hit "publish." Ugh.  #ValFail BUT WE HAD TO OPEN THE FILES.:D IT HAD TO BE DONE. PREPARE FOR EPICNESS.)

We've cracked open the files . . . searching for secrets. ALL THE SECRETS. But today we will share one: each Valentine is sharing their favorite line or passage from their debut!

Some lines might already be your favorite; others might be sneak peeks, because the books haven't hit the shelves yet. But all are INSIGHT INTO YOUR FAVORITE VALENTINE'S BRAIN.

So here we go.

But first, to all of our readers we give THIS:

We love you too Robert Downey, Jr! So glad you pulled it together to be our Ironman!

We LURRVVVEEE our readers . . . and we love all the feels. It's why we write YA.

On to the files! Here we go!

1. Jen's pick from DAUGHTER OF CHAOS:

There was silence in the cavern, and I was afraid I had gone too far. Then, all of a sudden, Hades threw back his head and laughed. His eyes crinkled up and his laughter echoed in the throne room. Suddenly, Hades seemed like a badly dressed version of Santa Claus.

And here's why Jen loves it: "So, without any spoilers, I love this simply because...come on. Hades and Santa Claus? Maybe the god of death isn't so harsh after all!" ;)


2. Anne's pick from PRISONER OF NIGHT AND FOG:

Then he cradled her face, touching her so tenderly she could scarcely breathe, and brought his face to hers in a kiss that burned her mouth.

Anne's take? "It's probably obvious why I picked this sentence--after all, it's about Gretchen and Daniel's first kiss!"


3. Sara R's pick from SNOW LIKE ASHES:

I called him Father once. In the wake of his stories about my real parents dying in the streets of Winter’s capital, Jannuari, as Spring overtook it, and how he scooped baby-me up and rescued me, it seemed logical to an eight-year-old that the man raising her should be called Father. But he turned such a shade of red that I feared he’d start spitting blood, and he growled at me like he’d never done before. He was not my father and I was never, ever to call him that again. I was only ever to call him by his name, or a title, or something to show respect. But not Father. Never Father.

So from then on, I called him Sir. Yes, Sir. No, Sir. You are not my father and I will never be your daughter and I hate that you’re all I have, Sir.

Sara's reasons for picking this passage: "It deals with Meira's strenuous father-daughter relationship with the man who raised her, whom she calls Sir. It's in the second chapter of SLA, when Meira is explaining the parameters that Sir early on established about their relationship."

WANT. MORE. NOW!!!!!!!!! This is NOT enough. SLA is EPIC and LAYERED and GORGEOUS and AWESOME. The only bad part? You have to wait until October to read it. *super sad face*

4. Paula's pick from THE ART OF LAINEY:

The music pitches and swells, violin and guitars, drumbeats and thudding bass. As I sway back and forth in front of the stage, it feels like being in the eye of a tornado, where it’s calm, but everything is going crazy whirling around me. I can’t stop looking at Micah, at the way the lights reflect off his mohawk, at the way he’s completely lost in the storm of overlapping chords.

I see every part of him, tiny pieces I never knew existed. The slight bend in his nose, the wedge-shaped scar on his right temple, the outline of his bicep hiding beneath the pyramid tattoo. His lips part, just barely, when he exhales. As I imagine the invisible mist of his breath hanging in the air, I inch closer to him. Here, in the strange blue light, while the bass pulses and pounds, all I can think about is touching him.

In Paula's words: "There's an unstated truth in The Art of Lainey--it's hard not to fall for a person when you see him or her immersed in something he or she loves. Before this point, Lainey finds Micah kind of funny and intriguing, but when she sees the way he's moved by music, that speaks to her on an unconscious level. Later, Micah watches her play soccer and is similarly affected."

SO MUCH SWOON HERE I CAN'T STAND IT. I want more Lainey & Micah RIGHT THIS MINUTE.:) <333 LOVE THIS BOOK SO HARD! READ IT. It will make you happy.:) #allthefeesls

5. Bethany H's pick from LANDRY PARK:

He bent his head down, and—as the summer wind blew silken petals and the scent of fresh crisp fruit around us—he lightly brushed his lips against mine, so lightly that I wondered if it had been a stray petal and not David. But as I was about to part my lips, as I was about to lean forward and press myself against the expensive suit and the sun-warmed body beneath it, he jerked back, staring at me as if my lips had been covered in poison.
Why did Bethany pick this scene? "Perhaps it's cheesy to pick the first kiss, but it's one of my favorite scenes because it encapsulates the beauty of the estate and the push and pull of Madeline and David's relationship. Plus…kissing!"

YES. KISSING. MORE KISSING. ALL THE KISSING. <3333333 And LANDRY PARK is out now…this was just a tidbit of the LP awesomeness.:) AND IT IS AWESOME. #promise

6. Kristi's pick from BURN OUT:
Our lips were so close that I felt his breath in my mouth as his fingers continued to caress my body. My body shuddered under his hand. "How 'bout here? Does it hurt when I touch here?" he asked in a professional tone, but both his hands slid down toward my hips and his lips almost touched mine. I was no doctor but this was definitely not part of any medical exam I'd ever seen. My legs turned to jelly and I trembled. I sighed, and James raised a finger to his lips. Oh yeah, the com system.

In Kristi's words: "Since my main characters never even kiss in the book (minor spoiler), I wanted to include the scene where the ship's medic James uses his uh, profession, to express his feelings for Tora."

Well-played, Kristi, well-played. THIS BOOK IS AMAZING!!!! Hit that sci-fi sweet spot and never lets you go…I read it in one sitting. ONE SITTING. And James is a hottie.:)

7. Amy's pick from OF BREAKABLE THINGS:

"All you are is a memory, and memories never stay in one place."
Amy said: "I don't know if I have one favorite line, but this one popped into my head immediately. People have been asking about my concept of death (because most of my characters in OBT are dead), and I think the above quote sums it up pretty well. All the emotions in a mind - love, hate, passion- and the intelligence acquired during a lifetime ... when the body dies, sometimes the energy in the mind still exists in the form of a memory."

I WANT TO READ THIS BOOK SO BADLY I CAN BARELY TAKE IT. And that line?! So amazing. Robert Downey Jr is waving to Amy RIGHT NOW. Thank goodness OBT is out next month. PHEW.

8. JRo's pick from NO PLACE TO FALL:

"It's funny, I've been running so hard from my family's reputation, and here I am, about to ruin my own where it still counts. Right here at this kitchen table."

In JRo's words: "I picked this line because it's stayed through countless edits and really speaks to the heart and soul of who Amber is, and what her family, no matter how flawed, means to her. It's a big moment of realization for her and is the catalyst for an even bigger decision."

THIS BOOK. Oh, THE FEELS. You are in for such a treat…add it to your TBR its RIGHT THIS MINUTE. I know, you have to wait until December but  it's oh so worth it.:) #feels #amazingfeels

9. My pick from NIL:

This was Nil's playground, where Nil watched and cackled and called every last shot . . . Nil flashed gates where she pleased, using gates to change the game, bringing new contestants and threats to add to her fun. 

Why I picked it: This line is so Thad, full of his bitterness and insight born of too many months on the island. For Thad, Nil is a living, breathing--and highly manipulative--adversary to outsmart. Thad made Nil come alive for me.

Shameless plug: NIL IS OUT NOW! You can read it this minute!:) Running! Death! All the feels! If you were a fan of LOST, I think you'll totally get NIL.:)

10. Phil's pick from THE BREAK UP ARTIST:
"Why am I congratulating her for giving birth? She probably had an epidural."
"He's about to turn one, and you haven't even acknowledged him."
"I don't think it's right to congratulate someone for having an ugly baby. It will only encourage her to have another one."
Why did Phil pick this exchange? "This exchange is between Becca's sister Diane and her mom. I love that Diane is a character who isn't afraid to call 'em like she sees 'em, and this exchange still makes me chuckle."

I have read this book and YOU SHOULD TOO. It's so witty and heartbreakingly fun . . . YA contemporary at it's best, channeling Lucille Ball and John Hughes both at once. <33333 THIS BOOK.:) And Phil's voice is kick-butt awesome.

11. Bethany C's pick from SUMMER ON THE SHORT BUS:

I suddenly feel like I’m playing the lead in a bad ABC Family movie where I’m the pretty rich girl whose parents die, and forced to live with foster parents in the inner city. Their biological daughter hates me because her gangster boyfriend, who’s actually smart and misunderstood, likes me more than her, so she challenges me to a dance-off or cheer competition.

In Bethany's words: "This paragraph summarizes Cricket perfectly: Snarky, self-absorbed and completely out of touch with reality."


These lines stand on their own:

12. From Lindsay's THE MURDER COMPLEX:

I will be fearless.

Action-packed, blood-soaked, futuristic thriller….with a fearless MC?! YES PLEASE!!! DYING FOR THIS BOOK. NEED THIS BOOK RIGHT NOW!!!!! And in June, IT WILL BE MINE. and yours.:) *wills June to be here now*

13. From Sara L.'s DEFY:

But now the traits that I'd always been frustrated with would hopefully save me. 
EXACTLY. So Alex--hopeful, brave, and determined--GO READ DEFY RIGHT THIS SECOND IF YOU HAVEN''T. You won't be able to put it down…THE FEELS! The ending!!!!! <333333

14.  From Kristen's TABULA RASA:

The drill starts up again, but I don’t care. I don’t care about anything. I feel like my body is a wagon and my mind is a horse, and somebody just unhitched the two.
A high-stakes thriller featuring a non-stop race for survival and a smart heroine who will risk everything? The Bourne Identity meets Divergent?! WHERE DO I SIGN UP?! Another Val book I have to wait for.,..but I know the wait will be oh-so-worth it!!!! I can't wait o get my grabby hands on this one too.:) *stalks UPS man after I get my pre-order shipping notice*

That's it. The Valentine files are now closed.

What do y'all think? Which Val book do you want most…or have you already read? Be a #ValPal and leave a comment below!:)


Tuesday, March 4, 2014

It's a bird! It's a plane! It's...NIL

I am super excited to welcome another Valentine book into the world. Today, the wait is over. You can get your grubby little YA-lovin' hands on NIL by the wonderful Lynne Matson

How awesome is this cover? Seriously. 
So here's the book in a nutshell: On the mysterious island of Nil, the rules are set. You have exactly 365 days to escape—or you die. 

What a book, you guys. Equal parts tense, thrilling, and romantic. I'm going to break down NIL's awesomeness acrostic style:

N - need answers? You'll get 'em. My biggest pet peeve with sci-fi stories, be them books or movies or TV shows, is when things aren't explained. We just have to accept some plot points as is. LOST was a prime culprit, bringing up questions it didn't answer. Teens wake up on the mysterious island of Nil with no understanding how they got there, nor do they understand how to leave. You need to catch a gate of light, but they don't know what it is or why it works. I was all set to just accept these "facts." Oh, there's no way Lynne can explain anything on Nil logically. Oh yes she did. If you want answers to this creepy island, you will get them. You'll get why Nil ticks, and you will appreciate having a clever author at the helm of this story.

I - island conflicts. You can't just stick a bunch of teens on an island and have everything be hunky dory. That would be like putting 7 famewhores  people in a house and not having them fight. NIL amps up the tension as the teens face life with a potential expiration date. I'll just say you were warned about Rory and leave it at that.

L - Love romance? Well, wait until you meet Charley and Thad, the main characters and star coconut shell-crossed lovers at the heart of the story. Thad is a swoonworthy love interest for Charley -- tan, athletic, smart. Watching their relationship bloom with Nil's lingering deadline -- you only have 365 days -- will have you racing through the pages. I said NIL was romantic, and I am like Shakira's hips. I do not lie. 

So there you go. NIL has intrigue, terror, and flirting. It plays with logic and faith the same way that LOST did before it got terrible. And for those of us suffering through this unending winter, it has PALM TREES and WARM WEATHER. 

via wikipedia

Best of all, if you read NIL, know that you're supporting a fantastic writer and person. But it's not like you need another reason to read this book. 

NIL is available at these fine outlets: