Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Apocalypsies Love! Book Review: Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally

Apocalypsies Love is all about me telling you what I loved about a 2012 debut book written by one of the amazing Apocalypsies.  I also chat with the author to gain insight into their very favorite parts of their creation.

Today, I kick-off this feature with CATCHING JORDAN, a contemporary YA about a girl quarterback (Jordan Woods) who longs to play college ball, and doesn't want to let anything distract her from that goal - not even a chance for romance with the hot new boy quarterback in town. 

So what did I love about CATCHING JORDAN?  First of all, Jordan herself. She's a strong character, talented, aching for her famous football player father's affirmation, and very committed to her goals, her teammates, and her family.  There's a lot of inherent tension in a girl being the star quarterback of her high school team, but Kenneally raises the stakes with the possibly opposed goals of getting accepted to the Alabama NCAA team and letting loose a bit to pave the way for experiencing first love.

Relationships - between Jordan and hot new guy Ty, her brother, father, girls at school, teammates, and especially best friend (Sam) Henry - are well drawn and believable.  

And the football! I'm not a big football fan, but I know the basics.  This novel made me want to learn more.  It made me want to go back in time and put more effort into my 7th grade football unit. The camaraderie on the team was amazing and sounded like so much fun.  Jordan's a lucky girl to have such great friends. 

And the romance - did NOT see that coming. It was sweet and satisfying in the best possible way - and totally left me wanting more. (An aside: sensitive readers might want to note that there's mention of casual sex - this is a high school football team after all!). 

Now let's chat with Miranda!

What is your favorite scene in the book?
The scene where Jordan and Henry are forced to get "married' and "raise" an electronic baby for home ec class.

I loved that scene too - it shows the dynamics of the Jordan/Henry relationship so well! How about your favorite line in the book?

"Our first kiss explodes like mixing soda and pop rocks."

YES! That line stood out to me too, because it fits perfectly with Jordan's voice. What setting was most fun to write?

Probably "Joe's All-You-Can-Eat Pasta Shack." I loved how Jordan could never stop playing with the salt and pepper shakers.

It definitely made me very hungry for pasta! Who is your favorite supporting character - one you could see getting a spin-off book - and why?

I wouldn't mind writing a prequel about Jordan's older brother, Mike. You know, when he was in high school! Right now I am writing two companion novels to CATCHING JORDAN. Certain characters are in all three books.

That's awesome news! I'm excited to spend more time with these characters.  And I do want to know so much more about Mike. What has been your favorite part of your publishing journey so far?

Seeing my cover for the first time. Or maybe smelling my book for the first time. Is that weird? :)

Not weird at all. As long as it doesn't smell like a football player after a game ;)  Thanks Miranda! 


Intrigued by CATCHING JORDAN?  It comes out tomorrow in paperback.  Find out more about it at the author's website and add it to GoodReads.

In the interest of full disclosure, you should know that I once drank awesome malted chocolate cocktails with Miranda - and I fully hope to do so again.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Return of Cat Tuesday (53)

Our cats tend to like to be in the same room as we are.  So when evening comes and we feel like watching a bit of TV, the cats join us.  Most of the time, they're more entertaining than what's on the tube.

Monday, November 28, 2011

On Authors Reviewing Books

Not every book is for everyone, but every book is for someone.

This mantra is always what’s in the back of my head when I sit down to write a book review.  How can I write a review in such a way that the people who are going to love this book will consider reading it (even if I personally didn’t especially like it)?  I’ve tried to be honest in a generally positive way.  I’ve resisted the snark. I encourage my readers to make up their own minds.

Via my reviewing, I’ve both learned a lot about writing as well as built up a platform with an engaged book-loving audience. But now, I may have to give it up.

You might recall the brouhaha earlier this year concerning aspiring authors vs the YA mafia. Supposedly, the YA mafia had the power to blacklist a writer who dared to write critical reviews. Not only that, mafia members could singlehandedly quash writers’ dreams of ever getting traditionally published. 

When I got my book deal this spring, lots of people used me as an example against the myth of the YA mafia, and I didn’t hear much about it on the web after that.  My publisher didn’t suggest I should stop reviewing. Most of my fellow bloggers saw no reason for me to quit. For a time, I thought maybe I could do both.

However, over the past few months, I have gotten a lot of conflicting advice from fellow authors about my reviewing:

“Stop reviewing immediately. You have to choose whether you want to be an author or a book reviewer.”

“You write constructive, thoughtful reviews, and if you want to continue, you should.”

“Authors will hold a grudge against you – some already do.”

“It would be a loss for the whole YA community if you gave up book reviewing, but I can totally understand why you would.”

I’ve kind of been agonizing over this.  Is there a way to keep reviewing without alienating authors/peers/people I might sit on panels with in the future? What if I only write positive reviews? But if I do that, will I lose my credibility with my audience – readers who expect me to be honest with them?  Maybe I should only review books whose authors are dead/technologically illiterate/too famous to care?!

Phoebe North gave me a lot of food for thought in her post On Honest Reviewing. She writes about the "utter subjectiveness of opinion" and that a "good review will be thorough enough that you should be able to get an inkling of where the reviewer’s tastes lie in relation to your own."  Many readers (and authors) extol the virtues of a well-reasoned critical review. Beth Revis even said on Twitter that there's a certain reviewer whose tastes run exactly opposite of hers, and she knows if the reviewer pans a book, she'll love it. (And no, it's not me. I asked.)

When I brought up these points with an author friend, she said she agrees that honesty and critical examination of books is 100% necessary - but that it doesn't need to come from me

One thing is certain. This blog WILL be going through some changes over the next year as I transition to being a published author.  You’ll definitely be hearing more about LEVEL 2 and CHICK-O-SAURUS REX.  I will continue to interview authors, offer giveaways, join blog tours, and spotlight books (maybe even under the heading of book reviews).

I am also starting a new feature to highlight 2012 debut books from my fellow Apocalypsies.  It’s called Apocalypsies Love and both the author and I will let you know what we think there is to love about his/her novel.

Because even if you don’t love everything about a book, there is something to love in every book.  Or at least, something that somebody will love. 

I'd love to hear what you think about authors reviewing books. Should they do it? Not? Do you as a reader put any stock in a reviewer (author or not) who never has anything critical to say about books? Do you as an author still rate books less than 5 stars - or do you feel the pressure to be publicly positive all the time?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Return of Cat Tuesday (52)

Daniel's brother Florian (aka Wossi) came over this week and wanted to hug all the cats at once.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Thankful! I have reading time this week!

I turned in my revision of LEVEL 2 today.  So you know what that means? Readathon! Yep, I have a lot of reading to catch up on, and Jenn of Jenn's Bookshelves clued me into the event Thankfully Reading which is happening over the upcoming holiday weekend.  Since it has no strict rules ... I am starting now!

Here's what's on my list to read:

CINDER by Marissa Meyer
ABOVE by Leah Bobet
BORN WICKED by Jessica Spotswood
SCARLET by AC Gaughen
ARTICLE 5 by Kristen Simmons
FEVER by Lauren DeStefano
FRACTURE by Megan Miranda
A BEAUTIFUL DARK by Jocelyn Davies
OTHER WORDS FOR LOVE by Lorraine Zago Rosenthal
BETWEEN by Jessica Warman
HERE LIES BRIDGET by Paige Harbison

and way, way more.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Book Review: Wherever You Go by Heather Davis

Holly doesn't have it easy - not only did her boyfriend Rob recently die in a tragic accident, but she also becomes the caretaker of her grandfather after he's been diagnosed with Alzheimer's.  Rob's friend Jason takes a romantic interest in Holly, and just as she starts to open her heart to him, she discovers that Rob's ghost has been communicating with her grandfather.

There is so much about this story set-up I love:
- the totally realistic situation that Holly is forced to grow-up before her time and take charge of her sister and ailing grandfather while her single mother works many jobs to make ends meet
- the socioeconomic divide that conspires to keep Holly and Jason apart
- the sensitive portrayal of an alzheimer's patient (Aldo, Holly's grandfather) and his desire to really be seen
- the confusion and sadness Rob feels as his childhood comes to an end
- the fact that ghost Rob can communicate with Aldo
- Aldo's list of favorites and Jason's desire to recreate them for him as a gift to Holly

Also noteworthy is Davis use of POV.  Holly is written in first person, Rob in second and Jason in third. It's a pretty risky narrative choice, but I thought it worked really well.

While this wasn't as romantic as Davis' THE CLEARING (which I adored), it's very open and honest about the realities of life and love.

WHEREVER YOU GO came out this week.  Find out more about it at the author's website.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Return of Cat Tuesday (51)

It's the circle of cats.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Book Review: Don't Expect Magic by Kathy McCullough

I had the pleasure of interviewing Kathy for the Apocalypsies website this week, so I thought I'd point you that way and say a bit more about the book as well.

When Delaney's mother dies, Delaney has to move across the country to live with her dad, a self-help guru who is also a fairy godmother/father. Delaney finds out the f.g. gene is hereditary and starts trying to help new classmate Flynn get what he wants - which turns out to be something much different than what she thinks it is.

My heart went out to Delaney. It's tough dealing with the death of your mother, a big move, and a new school.  And then on top of all that to discover a life-changing secret?  The girl definitely had reason to be standoffish at the outset.  But as the story progresses, and Delaney gets to know her father and her new classmates better, we start to see more of the sweet, gooey center hidden under her tart exterior (she's like a SweeTart!)

DON'T EXPECT MAGIC is primarily a character study, so don't expect magic to play a huge part when you read this (see - the title even warns you!).  But if you enjoy stories of transformation and inner growth as well as a good father/daughter relationship, you'll find this very satisfying read.

DON'T EXPECT MAGIC came out his week.  Find out more about it at the author's website.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Return of Cat Tuesday (50)

My, what big paws you have Lu!

All the better catch toys with ...

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Harbinger Art Tour

Follow the Path! Go to to find art inspired by HARBINGER by Sara Wilson Etienne. Once you're there, click on the key and enter the username and password to see this week's HARBINGER extra.

I haven't gotten to read HARBINGER yet, but doesn't it look so tempting?  This debut novel comes out February 2, 2012.  Here's the summary:

When sixteen-year-old Faye arrives at Holbrook Academy, she doesn’t expect to find herself exactly where she needs to be. After years of strange waking visions and nightmares, her only comfort the bones of dead animals, Faye is afraid she’s going crazy. Fast.

But her first night at Holbrook, she feels strangely connected to the school and the island it sits on, like she’s come home. She’s even made her first real friends, but odd things keep happening to them. Every morning they wake on the floors of their dorm rooms with their hands stained red.

Faye knows she’s the reason, but what does it all mean? The handsome Kel tries to help her unravel the mystery, but Faye is certain she can’t trust him; in fact, he may be trying to kill her—and the rest of the world too.
And the cover in all its gorgeousness:

Add to GoodReads
Visit the author's website

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Return of Cat Tuesday (49)

Lu likes it when I don't make the bed.  Daniel doesn't.

In other news, Emmy got her stitches taken out today so hopefully we won't have to go to the vet again for a long, long time.