Ask the Author: Nicola Yoon (Everything, Everything)

Samstag, 25. Juli 2015

   Hey guys!
   For this weeks Ask the Author I'm bringing you the amazing Nicola Yoon, the author of Everything, Everything, a very unique and brilliant read that I've loved and reviewed. She took a bit of her time and gave me a few A's to my Q's.
   Here's her book and her A's:

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
Published: September 1st 2015 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Number of Pages: 320 Pages (Hardcover)
Series: No

   My disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically, I’m allergic to the world. I don’t leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla.
   But then one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He’s tall, lean and wearing all black—black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly.
   Maybe we can’t predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster. (

Interview with Nicola Yoon

   1 – Describe Everything, Everything in form of a haiku (or twitter pitch).
   Girl who is so allergic to the world that she can never leave her house falls madly in love with the new boy who moves in next door.

   2 – What inspired you to write a story about a girl that is literally allergic to the outside world? It sounds like such a unique idea so I’m wondering if there is a unique story behind it.
   I started writing EE when my daughter was just 4 months old. I was still a brand new mom and I worried about everything. I worried about her getting sick, accidentally eating dirt, falling down, bumping her head or getting hurt in a million different ways. The instinct to protect her and keep her safe was sometimes overwhelming. It got me thinking about a mother's need to protect her child and that led to thoughts about what if there was a child that needed constant protection not just as a baby but for her whole life. What would that situation do to the relationship between the mother and daughter? What would happen when that daughter wanted to branch out and see the world?

   3 – How hard was it to write a story so unlike any other? What was the most challenging about the story and the writing process?
   Imagining the world through the eyes of someone who had never seen any of it was the most challenging. I tried to imagine what my daughter was feeling & thinking when she saw things for the first time. One of the most challenging scenes to write was when Maddy sees the ocean for the first time. I grew up in Jamaica and I live in Southern California so I've seen the ocean thousands of times but now I had pretend that I never had. Before I wrote that scene I took my daughter to the beach and played with her all day and just watched how she reacted to the sand and the wind and the water. She was totally delighted and awed by it.

   4 – What, besides the obvious, makes Madeline stand out in the sea of female contemporary main characters?
   I like to think that Maddy is a part of a great tradition of wonderful female main characters (like Melinda from Speak, Ruby from The Boyfriend List). She has a personality and a drive. She has strong opinions and she makes mistakes. She loves, she learns, she forgives.

   5 – How and why did you decide on this particular narrative style of Everything, Everything?
   I write really early in the morning from 4 to 6 AM. One morning at 4 AM it occurred to me that Maddy would draw her world as a way to feel like she's a part of it. At the beginning of the book she's obsessed with the Hawaiian state fish — the Humuhumunukunukuapua'a — so a I drew a very terrible version of the fish in my notebook. My husband is a terrific illustrator so I woke him up at 4 AM and asked him a draw me a fish. He is just the sweetest because instead of telling me just to let him go back to sleep, he got out of bed, kissed me, made himself a coffee and drew the version of the fish that's now in the book. So the narrative style all started with that fish.

   6 - How long did it take you from first idea until publishing deal? And how many queries did it take until you found 'the one'?
   I had kind of a non-traditional publishing process. We sold the book on a partial manuscript. It took just under a year from first idea to publishing deal.

   7 – How does it feel like to know that your story is soon (September 1st) going to be out there for everyone to pick it up and read it? What did you feel when the first ARC reader reviews rolled in?
   It's amazing and terrifying at the same time! Amazing because publishing a book is my biggest and wildest dream and I can't believe it's actually happening but I'm so happy and grateful that it is. It's terrifying because I put my whole heart into the book and I really want people to like it but what if they don't?

   8 – What do you think about the cover? Is it like anything you imagined it might look like?
   I looooooooove the cover! I think it's so beautiful and I couldn't have asked for more. It was done by two women artists who own a company called Good Wives and Warriors. They're usually known for doing large scale murals and art installations. I was thrilled when they agreed to do the cover for EE.

   9 – What were the last three books you’ve read?
   Not including the three picture books I read to my daughter last night, I read: Another Day by David Levithan, The Boyfriend List by E. Lockhart and Illuminae by Amie Kaufmann and Jay Kristoff.

   10 – Cats or dogs?
   Cats. Definitely.

   11 – If you were forced to participate in The Hunger Games, as female from District 12, what would be your strategy? Fight or flight?
   Fight. Definitely.

About the Author

   Nicola Yoon grew up in Jamaica (the island) and Brooklyn (part of Long Island). She currently resides in Los Angeles, CA with her husband and daughter, both of whom she loves beyond all reason. Everything, Everything is her first novel.

Ask the Author: Rebecca Phillips (Faking Perfect)

Samstag, 11. Juli 2015

   Hey guys!
   For this weeks Ask the Author I'm bringing you Rebecca Phillips and her novel Faking Perfect. I've started reading Faking Perfect a couple of weeks ago and enjoyed it quite a lot so of course I had to e-mail Rebecca about an interview. Luckily, she agreed.
   Here's her novel and her Q's for my A's:

Faking Perfect by Rebecca Phillips
Published: June 30th 2015 by Kensington
Number of Pages: 272 Pages (Paperback)
Series: No

   When Lexi Shaw seduced Oakfield High's resident bad boy Tyler Flynn at the beginning of senior year, he seemed perfectly okay with her rules:
   1. Avoid her at school.
   2. Keep his mouth shut about what they do together.
   3. Never tease her about her friend (and unrequited crush) Ben.
   Because with his integrity and values and golden boy looks, Ben can never find out about what she’s been doing behind closed doors with Tyler. Or that her mom’s too busy drinking and chasing losers to pay the bills. Or that Lexi’s dad hasn’t been a part of her life for the last thirteen years. But with Tyler suddenly breaking the rules, Ben asking her out, and her dad back in the picture, how long will she be able to go on faking perfect? (

Interview with Rebecca Phillips

   1 – Describe Faking Perfect with a haiku.
   A girl with a snake
   Is pretending to be real
   But she's telling lies

   2 – What sparked the idea for Faking Perfect? Was it the simple idea of a girl doing what many girls do in High School, pretend to lead a perfect life most don’t really have or was it something entirely different?
   I don't really remember how I came up with the plot. Basically, I just liked the idea of a girl pretending to be perfect and normal but feeling like the exact opposite inside. The rest of the story branched out from there.

   3 – Was there a scene in the book you specifically remember writing because it stuck out to you, either in a positive or negative way?
   There's a scene near the end of the book, with Lexi's father, that I especially labored over because I really wanted to get it right.

   4 – What made you come up with the idea of giving Lexi a corn snake as pet? It’s quite an unusual choice, as most teenage girls rather prefer cute dogs or cats.
   The snake has a specific meaning and is tied to other things in the book. I can't say too much without giving spoilers, but it has to do with a tattoo, and certain types of people probably wouldn't have tattoos of cute dogs and cats. :)

   5 – In retrospective, is there anything that you’d change about Faking Perfect or are you happy with the way it turned out in the end?
   If I had to do it over, I'd probably include more Tyler. He was so much fun to write. He's the first and only "bad boy" I've ever written and I loved creating all the Tyler/Lexi scenes.

   6 - How long did it take you from first idea until publishing deal?
   More than two years. I started writing FAKING PERFECT at the end of 2012. I finished it in April 2013. I got a book deal in April 2014. Traditional publishing takes a long time.

   7 - How do you feel about the fact that in only a few more weeks (June 30th) thousands of readers will be able to hold and read your novel? How nervous were you when the first reviews rolled in?
   It's crazy. I'm both excited and terrified. I get so nervous about reviews. This isn't my first book so my skin is already pretty thick to criticism, but it's still nerve-racking. I have to keep reminding myself that books aren't like hundred dollar bills--not everyone is going to love them. I appreciate any and all reviews. Just that fact that someone took the time to read my book and write about it is amazing to me.

   8 – What do you think about the cover? Is it anything like you imagined it being?
   I love the cover, and it's almost exactly the way I imaged it being. It's so contemporary YA.

   9 – High heels or flats?
   Flats, for sure. I can barely walk a straight line in heels.

   10 – What advice could you give aspiring authors?
   Read, read, read. You can't be a good writer if you're not a big reader. Also, learn patience. Publishing is a long, sometimes frustrating process.

   11 – If you were forced to participate in The Hunger Games, as female from District 12, what would be your strategy? Fight or flight?
   I'd probably hide in a cave and cry like a baby until someone finds me and kills me. So I guess my strategy would be...cowardice?

About the Author

   Rebecca Phillips has been a fan of contemporary young adult fiction ever since she first discovered Judy Blume at the age of twelve. She's the author of the JUST YOU series, OUT OF NOWHERE (2012 ABNA finalist), FAKING PERFECT (Kensington), and ANY OTHER GIRL (January 26, Kensington).
   Rebecca lives just outside the beautiful city of Halifax, Nova Scotia, with her husband, two children, and one spoiled rotten cat. She absolutely loves living so close to the ocean. Visit Rebecca on her website and on Twitter @RebeccaWritesYA

Review: Extraordinary Means by Robyn Schneider

Dienstag, 7. Juli 2015

Extraordinary Means by Robyn Schneider
May 26th 2015 by Katherine Tegen Books

Pages: 336 Pages (Hardcover)
Series: No

   At seventeen, overachieving Lane finds himself at Latham House, a sanatorium for teens suffering from an incurable strain of tuberculosis. Part hospital and part boarding school, Latham is a place of endless rules and confusing rituals, where it's easier to fail breakfast than it is to flunk French.
   There, Lane encounters a girl he knew years ago. Instead of the shy loner he remembers, Sadie has transformed. At Latham, she is sarcastic, fearless, and utterly compelling. Her friends, a group of eccentric troublemakers, fascinate Lane, who has never stepped out of bounds his whole life. And as he gradually becomes one of them, Sadie shows him their secrets: how to steal internet, how to sneak into town, and how to disable the med sensors they must wear at all times.
   But there are consequences to having secrets, particularly at Latham House. And as Lane and Sadie begin to fall in love and their group begins to fall sicker, their insular world threatens to come crashing down. (

“Being temporary doesn't make something matter any less, 
because the point isn't for how long, the point is that it happened.”

   Extraordinary Means is extraordinary, gripping, beautiful and honest. I loved it from page one on.
   I have a thing for stories which feature teens with diseases, physical or mental, so when I first heard of this one I knew I had to have it and read it. The gorgeous cover sealed the deal. Robyn Schneider's voices for Lane and Sadie were amazing, very distinct and truly interesting. Whereas Lane started out as this laser beam like focused student who only thought of getting the best grades, getting into collage and the career he planned on having, Sadie was a free mind. She was creative, a photographer and happy in her own way despite being in a place like Latham House.

   The idea of a new stem of TB (tuberculosis) which is immune to drugs is truly interesting and the portrayal of this camp like place for teens, far away from everyone, was both terrifying and captivating. The way those who were healthy looked at those with TB was very honest, no sugarcoat, which is always good to see. I loved the fact that the question of "what will happen once we'll he healthy and left back into the world?" was quite present and dealt with in a very good way. I also liked it a lot that the thought that they might never leave Latham House, except in a bodybag, was always present, not in speech or thought, but you could still feel it. It's always good to see that the author doesn't forget about details like that halfway through the novel, but rather that they come up again and again, just like they would come up in a real life situation.

“There’s a difference between being dead and dying. We’re all dying. 
Some of us die for ninety years, and some of us die for nineteen. 
But each morning everyone on this planet wakes up one day closer to their death. 
Everyone. So living and dying are actually different words for the same thing, 
if you think about it.”

  Besides our two main characters, Lane and Sadie, I loved their friend group. All of them had very distinct personalities and a life even outside of interactions with our main characters. The twists and turns were very smooth and natural and, what kind of surprised me, was just how funny some of the dialogues and scenes were. The humor was on point, filled with references to, for example, Harry Potter which, let's face it, most of us love. I loved seeing them have fun, laugh and have a good time even when all odds were against them, even when they were stuck at Latham House.

   Something that, although it didn't surprise me, creeped up on me was the ending which was heart wrenching but extremely honest and true. I love that, even though the author could have chosen the easy path of writing a book with a cotton candy happy fluffy ending, she decided to stay real because in life, not all endings are happy and fluffy. So, even though I was really sad, I was also happy that everything happened the way it did, which sounds really weird and twisted, I'm aware of that.

“And the thing about trying to cheat death is that, in the end, you still lose.”

   All in all I enjoyed reading Extraordinary Means a lot. The tone was very honest and sometimes heartbreaking, but also a lot of fun, laughs and giggles. Robyn Schneider created a amazing story filled with realistic characters and a situation which felt very real and wasn't sugarcoated even in the hardest of times.
I give Extraordinary Means by Robyn Schneider 5 out of 5 Stars.