What’s Your Kid Reading (Plus cover reveal bonus!)

October 14-20 is Teen Read Week™, a national literacy initiative from the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) aimed at inspiring teens to read for fun–on paper, online, on an e-reader–and to use their library to find great reading materials. I thought I’d share some recommendations for your teen (or if you’re a teen stopping by my blog today, even better *waves*). But I’m not gonna stop at teens! I’m gonna give you some suggestions for the younger kids too, b/c encouraging reading in our kids is important at every age (and some people were asking on my FB page so why not kill two birds with one stone, right? And b/c I love all books and since it’s my blog, I can share whatever I want to, muhahaha)!

*Also, in honor of Teen Read Week, I’m giving away a copy of If I Stay. Out of all the ones I listed below, it’s probably the most like my  novel, 18 Things, in the respect that it’s about 90% contemporary and 10% paranormal. Just leave a comment if you’re interested in winning a copy and I’ll randomly pick a winner on Wednesday:-)


Historical Fiction:

Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool. Set during the Great Depression, Abilene Tucker is sent to Manifest, Kansas, where she searches to find her father’s footprint in the town.


Turtle in Paradise by Jennifer L. Holm. Turtle is sent to live with her aunt Minnie in Key West, where she and her cousins experience adventures that are both thrilling and terrifying. (set in the year 1935)

The Watsons Go to Birmingham–1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis. A hilarious, touching, and tragic novel about the civil rights movement and its impact on one African American family.

Lily’s Crossing by Patricia Reilly Giff. Lily learns that true friendship is a treasure that crosses cultural boundaries in this novel set during WWII at the home front.

Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson. Alone in the world, teenaged Hattie is driven to prove up on her uncle’s homesteading claim in 1917 Montana.  

Dear America series by various authors. The books are written in diary form, and each chronicles a young woman’s life during an important event or time period in American History.


Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank. In 1942, with Nazis occupying Holland, a thirteen-year-old Jewish girl and her family fled their home in Amsterdam and went into hiding. For the next two years, until their whereabouts were betrayed to the Gestapo, they and another family lived cloistered in the “Secret Annex” of an old office building. Cut off from the outside world, they faced hunger, boredom, the constant cruelties of living in confined quarters, and the ever-present threat of discovery and death.

Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos. Set in Norvelt, Pennsylvania, Gantos uses his own childhood experiences and his vivid imagination to create the story of 12-year-old Jack Gantos in the summer of 1962. Gantos combines appealing characters, mysteries, small town adventures, humor, history and life lessons to create a novel that will appeal to kids 10-14.

Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai. This novel by Thanhha Lai is based on her life, leaving Vietnam in the mid-’70s when she was 10 and the difficult adjustment to life in the United States.

Today’s Buzz-Worthy YA Novels

Divergentby Veronica Roth *voted #1 by teens in a recent online poll* In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue–Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is–she can’t have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself


The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. Diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer at 13, Hazel was prepared to die until, at 14, a medical miracle shrunk the tumours in her lungs… for now. Two years post-miracle, sixteen-year-old Hazel is post-everything else, too; post-high school, post-friends and post-normalcy. And even though she could live for a long time (whatever that means), Hazel lives tethered to an oxygen tank, the tumours tenuously kept at bay with a constant chemical assault. Enter Augustus Waters. A match made at cancer kid support group, Augustus is gorgeous, in remission, and shockingly to her, interested in Hazel. Being with Augustus is both an unexpected destination and a long-needed journey, pushing Hazel to re-examine how sickness and health, life and death, will define her and the legacy that everyone leaves behind.

ThIRTEEN R3ASONS WHY by Jay Asher. Clay Jensen doesn’t want anything to do with the tapes Hannah Baker made. Hannah is dead, he reasons. Her secrets should be buried with her. Then Hannah’s voice tells Clay that his name is on her tapes–and that he is, in some way, responsible for her death. Clay spends the night crisscrossing his town with Hannah as his guide. He becomes a first-hand witness to Hannah’s pain, and learns the truth about himself–a truth he never wanted to face.

Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson. Lia knows she isn’t the prettiest girl in school. She’s not the smartest or the most athletic or the most popular. But there’s one thing she can be–the skinniest. Unless her best friend, Cassie, beats her to it.

If I Stay by Gayle Forman. Seventeen-year-old Mia has no memory of the accident; but in a blink, she finds herself watching as her own damaged body is taken from the wreck . . . Through real-time narration and flashbacks, readers will come to know Mia and the people in her life. More than a love story, more than a story about living or dying, it’s  a story about how we transform our lives.

Matched by Ally Condie. In the Society, officials decide. Who you love. Where you work. When you die. Cassia has always trusted their choices. It’s hardly any price to pay for a long life, the perfect job, the ideal mate. So when her best friend appears on the Matching screen, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is the one . . . until she sees another face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black. Now Cassia is faced with impossible choices: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she’s known and a path no one else has ever dared follow–between perfection and passion.

Impossible by Nancy Werlin. Lucy Scarborough is seventeen when she discovers that the women of her family have been cursed through the generations, forced to attempt three seemingly impossible tasks or fall into madness upon their child’s birth. Unless she can complete these tasks, Lucy will go mad, just like her mother and all the Scarborough women before  her.

Delirium by Lauren Oliver. Before scientists found the cure, people thought love was a good thing. They didn’t understand that once love — the deliria — blooms in your blood, there is no escaping its hold. Things are different now. Scientists are able to eradicate love, and the government demands that all citizens receive the cure upon turning eighteen. Lena Holoway has always looked forward to the day when she’ll be cured. A life without love is a life without pain: safe, measured, predictable, and happy. But with ninety-five days left until her treatment, Lena does the unthinkable: She falls in love.

*And now here’s a special bonus! My CQ sista, Thea Gregory, writes zombie stories and science fiction, and today I get to debut her new book cover:

Sanity Vacuum Synopsis:

Vivian Skye just finished university, and qualified for her first-choice internship. Not many would consider the distant and isolated Extra-Galactic Observatory cushy, but it’s a dream come true for Vivian. Hailing from the low-tech planet of Aurora, she studied hard for this opportunity—and to leave her old life, and planet behind.

Her assignment is simple: perform a routine upgrade for the station’s supercomputer, quIRK. Her reception isn’t a friendly one, and eccentric quIRK becomes her only friend. However, the station’s administrator, Bryce Zimmer is obsessed with quIRK—he suspects that the station’s computer may have achieved sentience, something explicitly prohibited by the ABACUS Protocol. Compounding their issues, Bryce’s traumatic and privileged past makes him distrust Vivian from the beginning. Desperate to keep control, he sabotages quIRK in order to eliminate Vivian. But, his plan threatens to consume the entire station and send them into the unknown void of intergalactic space.

Vivian must struggle to survive not only Bryce’s megalomania, but also the emerging artificial super intelligence that is quIRK. Can Vivian and quIRK learn to trust each other and work together, before it’s too late?

Author Bio:

 Thea Gregory is a farm girl from English Western Quebec, a total nerd, and she loves science fiction, zombies and physics. Between marathon cooking sessions, her clerktastic day job, and part-time studies, she manages to find time to write. Author of the Zombie Bedtime Stories, her debut sci-fi novel, Sanity Vacuum releases December 6. Thea’s blog can be found at http://nerdygnome.wordpress.com

*Hey, Thea, can I bunk with you during the zombie apocalypse? I’ll bring the coffee and cake pops! See ya’ll next week . . . if, God willing, the flesh-hungry undead don’t take over the world by then;-)

Tag Team Cover Reveal

It’s another big cover reveal for one of my buddies! YAY! Don’t beautiful covers make you smile:-) And what’s uber cool is Victoria and I had the same artist designing our covers–double yay (Thanks, Michelle Johnson!)
The Crimson Hunt (Eldaen Light Chronicles, #1) by: Victoria H. Smith
Release Date: November 12, 2012
Genre: New Adult Science Fiction Romance
Book Description:
College junior Ariel Richmond is working on year three of Project Normalcy.Her house reeks of keggers past and her bestie is just a slight bit vulgar. But the thing is—they both aid in making life refreshingly uneventful.

So much for hard-earned mediocrity when Luca Grinaldi appears on the scene.

Luca’s sudden presence on campus is hard to ignore. Those bright eyes act like a beacon to unsuspecting females, and with features like his, he’s got to be moonlighting for GQ. Luca hopelessly captivates Ariel with his confidence and charisma, but the mysteries surrounding him make him nearly untouchable. And just when Ariel grows close enough to unlock his secrets, a tragic event sends her life in a downward spiral.

That steady life is no longer an option and allies quickly become scarce. The mysterious Luca seems to be the only one willing to help her—but with that trust comes the burden of his secrets. He has a dark mission of otherworldly proportions, and is willing to sacrifice as many lives as it takes to see it completed.

Gone are the days of simply maintaining normalcy, and if Ariel isn’t cautious with her trust, so soon may be her future.

About the Author:
Victoria H. Smith has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. She puts it to good use writing romance all day. She resides in the Midwest with her Macbook on her lap and a cornfield to her right. She often draws inspiration for her stories from her own life experiences, and the twenty-something characters she writes give her an earful about it.In her free time, she enjoys extreme couponing, blogging, reading, and sending off a few tweets on Twitter when she can. She writes new adult fiction romance in the sub-genres of science fiction, urban fantasy, and contemporary, but really, anywhere her pen takes her she goes.

Victoria H. Smith Links: Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads
*If you stopped by my blog the day of my big cover reveal 2 weeks ago and missed it because of technical difficulties, you can see it here. See ya soon:-)

What Draws You to Read and Write YA/NA?

Today I’m kicking off my sandals (yes, I’m wearing sandals . . . it’s still 85 degrees where I live . . . POLO!  Oh sorry, just blogging pool side)–anyway, where were we? Oh yes! Jessa Russo, my CQ sister who like me, reads, writes and breathes paranormal YA, is here to tell us what drew her to read and write in this kick butt genre.

Woot, woot!! Take it away, Jessa.

I started reading at an early age – as I believe we all did – and when I was in middle school I became obsessed with Christopher Pike and R.L. Stine. (Me too! Love R.L. Met  him at a reading festival 2 yrs ago and he made up an AWESOME story right there on the spot with the kiddos suggestions!) But I feel like we didn’t have much along the lines of young adult back then, and honestly, I can’t remember anything after my Christopher Pike obsession. I think I just quickly followed in my mom’s footsteps and began devouring Steven King and Dean Koontz (I have gotten weak in my 30s. Used to read these guys, but now they just freak me the eff out!) when I’d been ready to move past Christopher Pike.

As an adult, I continued feeding my love of mystery and paranormal with Sandra Brown, more Dean Koontz, Heather Graham …

And then I had a baby, and decided I didn’t have time to read. So I didn’t read for a lot of years. (Ohmigosh, are we sistas from another mother? Me tooooooo!)

One day, everything changed. My friends were suddenly obsessed with this new teeny-bopper book called Twilight. And I mean REALLY obsessed. Yes, I made fun of them. Yes, I made a LOT of fun of them. They were claiming ‘Team Edward’ and ‘Team Jacob,’ and all I could think was ‘Team Get A Life.’ So then the movie came out, and I had friends going to midnight showings with their teen cousins/sisters/daughters/etc. And they were as excited if not more so than the teens! I was amazed. (Now YOU are freaking me the eff out–I’m putting on my cool foil hat now so you can stop reading my mind and stealing my memories!)

Eventually, one of my uber-obsessed friends brought over a pirated DVD of Twilight (Yes, it was still in theaters/No, I don’t condone pirating/Yes, I watched it. The shame! lol) And I almost enjoyed it, but I felt like something was missing. So, she convinced me to read the book, leaving me with her well-worn, prized copy. (*takes foil hat off* phew! I read the books before the movie, back in the summer of 2009 when my sisters dragged me to Target and told me I had to read it)

{Insert reluctant me: Fine. I’ll read it.}

Fast forward twenty-four hours, and I was like a drug addict searching for a fix. I was calling libraries and friends, posting on MySpace, doing whatever I could to locate the next installment. (Apparently I was too cheap to buy it at the time, though I am now the proud owner of the boxed set.) *grin* (Hey, you have to save money for Starbucks coffee and cake pops, right?!)

I read the entire set in under two weeks – which would have been less time had I not had to locate each one and borrow it from friends. (Which should have driven me to fork up the cash to buy the set, but whatever!)

Well, the point of that story is to tell you that after that, I was hooked. It was like suddenly, someone had opened my eyes and said, “Jessa! Wake up! You DO have time to read, you silly goose!”

{Insert happy me: “OMG I HAVE TIME TO READ! And I am happy! YAY!”}

*Big thanks to Stephenie Meyer.*

Now you know what got me started in YA, but what is it exactly that draws me to read and write YA?  

Well, for starters, there’s so much more room for creativity in YA. So much more innocence, growth, and exploration. But aside from that, I already know what it’s like to be a grown up. I have a mortgage. I have bills I worry about paying. I have debt. I have a marriage to nurture. I have a daughter who depends on me to make all the right choices for her life. I have all of the stuff that comes with adulthood. (I hear ya! Being “mature” sure sucks sometimes, which is why I so rarely act my age.)

So yeah, maybe I want to read about that young adult innocence that I left behind a long time ago. Maybe I want to read about that first kiss I will never have again. Or that first love that makes you feel like you’re going to crumble in on yourself and combust into a million pieces all at the same time. Or even that first heartbreak that you swear you will never ever recover from. (Well, I recovered just fine, but the guys didn’t;-) Kidding, kidding–I met my hubby when I was 14 so I’m kinda a spoiled brat)

I will never have those feelings again. And I’m not complaining – I wouldn’t trade my happily ever after for any of that – but I do miss those first feelings, that innocence that comes with adolescence. The mistakes and regrets, the joys and the triumphs … even the pain.

THAT is why I love YA.

THAT is why I write YA.

There’s something so special, and so unique about that time in our lives, and it is over in the blink of an eye. Pretty soon you’re facing down your thirties and wondering what happened to the hot seventeen-year-old you used to see in the mirror. (For me it was 28, IDK why but 28 was my hot year. Maybe there’s something to that “golden birthday” thing b/c I was born Aug. 28th. I’ll spare you the year!)

Well, I can tell you – she has gray hairs, wrinkles, and goes to bed at nine because she’s too tired to stay up late anymore, and when she does, it takes days to recover.

She’s also staring down into gorgeous blue eyes that believe she hung the moon, and loving the husband she always dreamed she’d have. So it’s a good thing. But every so often, she likes to be reminded that youth is an amazing thing too.

Well said, Jessa! I hope you didn’t mind me randomly commenting on your post . . . it’s what I do! If you haven’t read Jessa’s new book, check out the blurb below. It’s next on my TBR list *squee*

Seventeen-year-old Ever’s love life has been on hold for the past two years. She’s secretly in love with her best friend Frankie, and he’s completely oblivious.
Of course, it doesn’t help that he’s dead, and waking up to his ghost every day has made moving on nearly impossible.
Frustrated and desperate for something real, Ever finds herself falling for her hot new neighbor Toby. His relaxed confidence is irresistible, and not just Ever knows it. But falling for Toby comes with a price that throws Ever’s life into a whirlwind of chaos and drama. More than hearts are on the line, and more than Ever will suffer.
Some girls lose their hearts to love.
Some girls lose their minds.
Ever Van Ruysdael could lose her soul.

To learn more about Jessa and Ever, visit her website.

18 Things Cover Reveal and IWSG

The day you’ve all been waiting for is here!!! Merry Christmas . . . I mean . . . Happy Halloween? Hahaha, that was my editor’s joke to me, the awesome Krystal Wade, because it sure feels like a holiday to us. We can finally share my cover for my YA paranormal, 18 Things . . .

And here’s the blurb incase you have no idea what that cover is supposed to represent:

Can eighteen things save a life? 

Olga Gay Worontzoff thinks her biggest problems are an awful name (after her grandmothers of course) and not attending prom with Conner, her best friend and secret crush since kindergarten.

Then Conner is killed in a freak boating accident and Olga feels responsible. When she downs an entire bottle of pills to deal with the emotional pain, her parents force her into counseling. There, her therapist writes a prescription in the form of a life list titled 18 Things. Eighteen quests to complete the year of her eighteenth birthday.

Alls she has to do is fire-walk, try out for the cheerleading squad, break a world record, and err . . . go on her first date. Good thing Nate, a new hottie in town, enters her life with perfect timing. He brings the fun factor to her list and helps her discover the beauty and strength inside herself, then complicates things by falling in love with her.

 Just as she’s finally embracing the joys of YOLO, her therapist reveals a big secret and Olga’s world is shaken. In the past year it took eighteen remarkable things to change a life, but nothing she believed about her mission is true.

 Now she doesn’t just risk losing her true soul-mate forever, she risks losing her very soul.

*Squee* I’m so excited about this I’m about to squeeeee like a little piggy all over this page. Shout out to artist Michelle for doing an A*W*E*S*O*M*E  job on my cover!! Of course all of this leads perfectly into the second part of my post for . . .



I have a book coming out in roughly two months! TWO months! I should be excited, right? Right. So why do I feel terrified, ya’ll? To be honest, I kinda only dreamed of this dream happening. I never really expected to fulfill this one. I mean, I wasn’t giving up. Giving up writing is akin to giving up breathing. But still, I would’ve been content to just write and query and . . . hide. With publication, I can’t hide from those inevitable bad reviews. And I’m wondering what to do about that, because I seriously don’t have time to waste and worry about bad reviews.

So I’m thinking, should I even read the reviews at all? Do you think head ninja captain Alex J. Cavanaugh can scare the bad reviews away for me? It is, after all, his support group, and I’m pretty sure his skills are equal to or greater than Chuck Norris.

P.S. Shout out to my whole Curiosity Quills family for their support: Krystal Wade, Sharon Bayliss, Courtney Worth Young, Dawna Raver, Thea Gregory, Jade Hart, Lisa Moran Collicutt; as well as my friends Marisa Cleveland and Tonya Kuper for their help in revealing my cover! I’d link back to all of you, but WordPress isn’t cooperating tonight and making me angrier than a bird right now so I’m going to bed *sighs*