Monday, June 28, 2010

An Interview with Holly Schindler

An Interview with the lovely Holly Schindler, author of A BLUE SO DARK, in stores now!


5 things readers would be surprised to know about you:

1) I will never, never, never pierce my ears.

2) I’m completely blind—my vision’s 20/700!—and while I really do love my glasses these days (I chucked my contacts a few years ago), I’m rarely photographed wearing them.

3) My favorite non-writing gig was working as a model for a floral show—I wore a hideous blue bridesmaid’s dress, but I got to be with some super-cool florists whose bouquets were WAY artistic.

4) I far prefer vintage to new—costume jewelry, instruments, hats—anything that’s already lived a life or two before I acquired it.

5) I really, honestly think dandelions are beautiful.

4 things you wish you knew in high school:

1) Parallel parking never gets any easier. NEVER.

2) Anything in life is bearable if you just keep your sense of humor.

3) Latin will come in handy. Seriously.

4) Those notebooks I doodled poetry and character sketches in throughout high school would turn out to be INVALUABLE as I wrote that first YA novel. (If I could, I’d go back to high school and kiss me for keeping all those notebooks—really helped me reconnect with my teen voice. Might’ve written even MORE back then, if I’d had a way to see into the future…)

3 things you are embarrassed to own / love / have done.

1) Spiral perm, circa ’88.

2) When I was younger, I HATED wearing my glasses. Mom wanted me to be in high school before I started wearing contacts, so I used to pick out the most HIDEOUS frames on the planet, in order to try to guilt my mom into buying me contacts a few years early. Yeah. That didn’t work so well.

3) My brother and I used to make up stories and act them out on cassette tapes when we were kids…My mom has them all in a drawer. It was great fun, but think I might be kind of embarrassed to listen to myself play-act when I was so young…

2 careers you might have chosen if you weren’t an author:

1) Literature professor

2) Lawyer

1 thing you can’t live without:

Coffee, coffee, coffee…


5 words to describe your book:

Does art free or cripple? Okay—that’s vague. I’ll explain:

In A BLUE SO DARK, Aura Ambrose is terrified that her mother, a schizophrenic and an artist, is a mirror that reflects her own future. As the novel progresses, we find Aura struggling with her overwhelming desires to both chase artistic pursuits and keep madness at bay.

As her mother sinks deeper in the darkness of mental illness, the hunger for a creative outlet keeps drawing Aura toward the depths of her imagination—the shadows of make-believe that she finds frighteningly similar to her mother’s hallucinations.

Convinced that creative equals crazy, Aura shuns her art, and her life unravels in the process….

Essentially, for Aura, art and madness are inextricably linked. And there’s no denying that many of our great artists have been both creative AND mad…so, for her, the central question is, DOES ART FREE OR CRIPPLE?

4 reasons you love writing YA:

1) YA literature still respects plot, in a way a lot of literary adult fiction doesn’t.

2) I still feel seventeen—so close to my own teenage experiences.

3) YA encompasses SO many genres—it can be almost anything.

4) YA has the best fans going!

3 reasons everyone should read your book:

1) It’s lyrically written.

2) It’s brimming with realistic characters you will fall in love with and root for.

3) It’ll make you feel…well, everything. You’ll laugh and you’ll think and you’ll cry. I guarantee.

2 YA books you adore:

1 (contemporary) ELSEWHERE, Gabrielle Zevin

2 (classic) CATCHER IN THE RYE , JD Salinger

1 tip for aspiring YA writers:

Don’t take criticism personally, but don’t ignore it, either. Think of it the same way you would if you were, say, trying to fix your lawnmower. I mean, if you spent all afternoon working on it, and it STILL refused to start after you got it put back together, you wouldn’t think the lawnmower was attacking you personally, or telling you that you were stupid or completely inept, right? You’d just think you’d screwed up somewhere. Time to take it apart and start again—no biggie.

Same with a manuscript. Nobody gets it right the first time. And nobody’s born knowing how to write a novel. You learn by doing…and by listening. If an editor (or agent) has taken time out of his / her day to give you advice, that’s a real compliment. Listen. Internalize it. Revise accordingly. And be grateful that someone sees potential in your work!

Every writer gets there eventually…the only way you DON’T is by giving up


Thank you so much Holly for stopping by!

Be sure to check out her new novel A BLUE SO DARK in stores now!

And find out more about Holly and all her latest projects at

Happy Summer!


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Survey Time!

As I work to improve my blog, I would love to hear feedback from y'all so please follow the link below and take a short survey about how I can better this blog. It is completely anonymous unless you choose otherwise so please feel free to voice any opinions or criticisms you have (be that they are constructive and not just plain mean). I promise that I will try my hardest to implement every constructive comment into my blog the best way I can :)


Thanks for all the help and happy summer!


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Lifted Review

Title: Lifted
Author: Wendy Toliver
Release Date: June 8, 2010

Summary (from www.barnesand :

Being bad never felt so good.

Poppy Browne never stole anything in her life before moving to Pleasant Acres and meeting Mary Jane and Whitney. But when Poppy walks out of the mall with her two new friends and her first pair of stolen jeans, she's hooked.

Before long, Poppy is lifting whenever she gets the urge—it's never about the merchandise, it's always about the thrill. But when her secret gets out, Poppy's clique turns on each other. As she watches her life collapse around her, Poppy must decide where her loyalties lie...and how far she'll go to protect herself.

Outlined Review:
Character Development: 10/10
Originality: 9/10
Hookability: 9/10
Ending: 8/10
Voice: 8/10
Recommendation: 10/10
Total Score: 54
Grade: A

Age Appropriate Rating:
Cussing: 4/10
Drugs, alcohol, etc.: 1/10
Sexual Content: 4/10
Violence/Disturbing Images: 2/10

Written Review:

From the original and intriguing storyline to the insanely awesome chemistry between David and Poppy, from the friendship and family issues to the completely satisfying ending, from the questions it raises to the lesson it brings, there was definitely a lot to love about LIFTED. I read this whole 300 page book in two sittings. I just couldn’t stop.

Friendship was a main theme in this novel. Whitney and Mary Jane very quickly became Poppy’s best friends. I was wary of them from the beginning. Especially with Mary Jane’s ex-best friend Bridgette’s horror stories of Mary Jane’s bitter betrayal. But they did eventually grow on me. They were genuinely nice, popular girls who shared a very disturbing habit. But that habit heavily influenced Poppy and what started out as a little bit of peer pressure from them turned into a full blown addiction within a matter of weeks. The same people who Poppy needed to help pull her out of this mess pulled her in to it in the first place.

Poppy’s shoplifting addiction developed realistically and her thoughts appropriately became stronger as the addiction became harder to break. It was much easier to identify with Poppy seeing the habit develop from the simple start to the obsessive need that it became. She never liked herself for stealing. She knew it was wrong. She knew not to do it. But it’s a gray area between what makes a person ‘good’ and what makes a person ‘bad’. And sometimes making the right choice isn’t as easy as it should be.

Poppy was a great main character. The way her shoplifting habit affected her wasn’t lost on her either and she knew it needed to be stopped after each lift but the high was too much. The pressure she felt from her mother, the relief she felt when she lifted, and the inability to trust anyone with such a heavy burden were all issues she faced and voiced clearly. Her sense of humor and the way she connected with David was great too. He had such a charm about him that was a nice step back from the weightiness of Poppy’s habit.

The ending satisfied me though I can also see how some may view it as too happy for such a complex read. Consequences were doled out but relationships that almost seemed torn beyond repair were mended. And there was a somewhat happily ever after feel to the whole thing. I personally loved it though. I like books to end happy J

Another thing I loved (it was minor and maybe only related to me but still) was the tiny Texas Baptist town of Pleasant Acres. I do not live in a small Texas town but you can trace my roots back to one. One that may even be tinier than the one described in this book if you can imagine. But instead of the Baptist nature of Pleasant Acres, mine is a completely Catholic town with few of any other faith mixed in. How easy it was to gain information, the reputations you try to keep, the gossip that gets spread, the insults you can get away with as long as it is directly followed by or preceded with “bless her heart”, the faith driven community, the friendliness of the town, and overall the fact that almost every house has a porch swing, all reminded me of where my family is from and made that town seem so much more real and relatable to me which was nice. The main difference is I wouldn’t see our town as hick as Poppy made it seem to be in the very beginning. But who knows maybe it is and I just don’t know it?

With a topic that makes you think about the power of addiction, characters who make you question the lines between good people and bad choices, and writing that captures you and brings you deeper into the story with each page, LIFTED should be the next book you pick up. But please don’t steal it. (:



And the Winners are....

Thank you so much for your participation and Congrats to all the winners!
*Winners were found using*

of the copy of PURGE...
1. Pat Z.M.
2. Jessica L.
of the signed bookmarks...
1. Robby A.
2. Leslie G.
3. Mike J.
4. Melina C.
5. Beth M.

of the ARC of DECEPTION...

1.Erica H.

Thank you so much to all who entered! Your prizes should be on their way soon. Please email me at if you have any questions or concerns. Thanks again!

Monday, June 7, 2010

My Double Life Review

Title: My  Double Life
Author: Janette Rallison
Release Date: May 2010

Summary (from ):
Her whole life, Alexia Garcia has been told that she looks just like pop star Kari Kingsley, and one day when Alexia’s photo filters through the Internet, she’s offered a job to be Kari’s double. This would seem like the opportunity of a lifetime, but Alexia’s mother has always warned her against celebrities.

Rebelliously, Alexia flies off to L.A. and gets immersed in a celebrity life. Not only does she have to get used to getting anything she wants, she romances the hottest lead singer on the charts, and finds out that her own father is a singing legend. Through it all, Alexia must stay true to herself, which is hard to do when you are pretending to be somebody else!

Character Development: 10/10pts
Originality: 6/10pts
Plot/Story Line: 8/10pts
Ending: 10/10pts
Voice: 10/10pts
Recommendation: 10/10pts
Total Score: 54/60
Grade: A

Age Appropriate Rating:
Cussing: 1/10
Drugs, alcohol, etc.: 1/10
Sexual Content: 1/10
Violence/Disturbing Images: 0/10

Written Review:I LOVED this book! It was a fast read but it kept me hooked from the very first page.
Alexia’s voice was so funny in ways I didn’t expect. I laughed a lot through this entire book and I don’t even know exactly why. It just kept me entertained and turning pages with her so typical-teen-girl voice but with an added something that made me love her entire attitude and personality so so so much and not just see her as some cliched character.  She was someone I would want to be friends with!
The story was great too. It was just light-hearted enough to be a perfect summer read but it also had just the right amount of depth with the family issues and the completely adorable romance with Grant to make the otherwise shallow story a very enjoyable read.
Also, Alexia and Grant’s chemistry was undeniable and I loved every bit of it. I want a Grant just for me! He was just so perfect! I wish they had more page space but this wasn’t a romance driven novel so I understand why they didn’t.
I couldn’t have read a better book to not only get be out of my reviewing slump but to kick the summer off with!  I recommend everyone grab up this book as soon as you can! Then find a pool to lay out by and read while you tan! With a completely relatable main character, a great plot line for the season, and an adorable romance that makes you say aww, it won’t take more than one day to completely devour this book. Which means you’ll have plenty of time to jump in the pool and cool off after you finish J (Can y’all guys tell I’m loving summer right now?)
Thanks so much for bearing with me everyone as I worked through my slump. I’m back now though and I have plenty of time to read this summer so we should be back to an active blog now.
Also don’t forget about my TWO contests going on right now. Links are at the top of the page if you are interested in entering.
Love, Jil

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Deception Blog Tour: An Interview with Lee Nichols

Deception Blog Tour

About the Book:

When Emma Vaile’s parents disappear, her brother’s cute best friend, Bennett Stern, whisks her away to New England. There, Emma settles into his family’s museum-like mansion and enrolls in a posh prep school. But the eerie visions she’s been hiding from everyone get worse. Emma confides in Bennett and learns she is a ghostkeeper, a person who can communicate with ghosts. Bennett needs Emma’s help tracking an other-worldly murderer. Private by Katie Brian meets Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl in this tale of tradition, mystery, and forbidden romance. The shocking ending will leave readers desperate for book two.

And now an interview with Lee Nichols, author of Deception, hitting the shelves on June 8th (that’s tomorrow!)

5 things readers would be surprised to know about you

I cannot make it through the day without caffeine and sugar.

How much I love David Tennant as Dr. Who, and how worried I am I won't like the new guy.

I'm actually a very good classical singer, but couldn't sing a pop song to save my life.

Despite my sugar addiction, I don't like chocolate nearly as much as people think I do.

I'm highly competitive at board games.

4 things you wish you knew in high school

That high school really is the best time of popular people's lives. Then they have another 6o year to fill.

That Spanish comes in handy, and you should work harder at learning it.

That being an adult kinda sucks more than you think it will.

That your body will never look hotter and you should enjoy it more.

3 things you are embarrassed to own/love/have done

A pink cruiser bike with white Aloha flower decals. I just bought it.

I passed out one day in high school, in a room full of 60 people. That wasn't fun.

The kind of Parmesan cheese that comes in a can. I think it's all sodium, but taste delicious on tomato sauce.

2 careers you might have chosen if you weren't an author

Music teacher


1 thing you can't live without

My family.


5 words to describe your book

Fun, funny, romantic, scary, sad.

4 reasons you love writing YA

I love reading it.

Awesome camaraderie among YA authors.

Hope to inspire reluctant readers.

It's fun.

3 reasons everyone should read your book

Emma is a kick-butt, loyal, lovable character.

Ghosts are the new vampires.

It's good.

- 2 YA books you adore

Hunger Games, By Suzanne Collins

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, By E. Lockhart

1 tip for aspiring YA writers

Don't follow trends and write from your heart.

Enter below for a chance to win your own ARC of Deception. The contest ends June 15th so spread the word!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Summer Kickoff with Sarah Darer Littman (and a contest!!)

Let’s Kick off Summer right with a chance to win a great new book and a terrific interview with a terrific author! And a new trailer to watch for that great new book by that terrific author and made by yours truly J Enjoy.


5 things readers would be surprised to know about you

1) I’m named after my great grandmothers Sarah and Esther, but I had another great grandmother called Clara and my parents seriously considered calling me Sarah Clara Darer. Is it any wonder I grew up with deep psychological problems - and a sense of humor?

2) After having lived ten years on a farm in South West England, I’m probably one of the few women living in Greenwich, CT who could have a reasonably intelligent conversation about the lactation yield curve of a dairy cow. Unfortunately it’s not a topic that ever comes up at cocktail parties.

3) The all-girls school I attending in England from the ages of 7 to 12 didn’t just have a school uniform. We had to wear regulation UNDERWEAR. Synthetic granny pants, just like

these but in maroon. Really attractive – NOT!

4) My older brother and I used to recite entire Monty Python skits from memory, complete with silly accents.

5) I have a large collection of “Bad Mummy Awards” from my kids, which I have displayed on my bulletin board. The first one, drawn by my son, has a delightfully unflattering picture of me complete with devil horns, a trident and a whippy tail with a little speech bubble saying: “I AM EVIL!” It’s really awesome.

4 things you wish you knew in high school

1) Get help for those eating and food issues because why waste so much time and emotional energy hating your body when it can be spent on more productive and interesting things?

2) The best is yet to come - and all of this will be material for your books someday.

3) Be glad that you didn’t peak in high school. It’s much better to be a late bloomer, even though it might not feel like it when you’re a teen.

4) If you can survive the humiliation of high school gym class, you can survive pretty much anything.

3 things you are embarrassed to own/love/have done

1. I own a Hanson CD. Mmm-Bop, baby!

2. I let my cousin visiting form California apply an overdose of Sun-In. Instead of blonde highlights, I ended up with brazen, brassy hooker hair.

3. In college, I did a summer program at New College, Oxford. When it was my turn to eat at the High Table with the professors, I was told there were very strict rules about passing the port wine served at the end of the meal. It had to be passed to the left, and must not be allowed to stand on the table. Oh, and you had to empty your glass before the decanter came round again. Alas, I obeyed the rules to the letter. Apparently, I was the life of the party that evening, but paid for it dearly the next day when we had a bus excursion to Bath. I haven’t touched a drop since.

2 careers you might have chosen if you weren't an author

· Librarian

· Editor

I would definitely still want books to be a part of my life!

1 thing you can't live without

My iPhone. For many reasons, but the most important is because it’s what my kids refer to as “Mummy’s Electronic Brain.” Without it I have no idea who is supposed to be where, when. I also love that I can set audible alarms, because I have been known to get so caught up in my writing that I’ve forgotten to drive the carpool, thereby earning myself yet another “Bad Mummy Award”.


5 words to describe your book

· Raw

· Funny

· Authentic

· Moving

· Hopeful

4 reasons you love writing YA

1) The teens who read my books are Just. So. Incredible. They inspire me every day.

2) YA is the best of grown-up literature but without the…er… pretentiousness. (I was going to say something else, but I’m trying to watch my language.)

3) I get to live through high school again the way I wish it had happened instead of the way it did.

4) Other YA authors are seriously fun to hang with. Just sayin’.

3 reasons everyone should read your book

1) Jill liked it enough to make an awesome book trailer. That’s got to tell you something.

2) How many of us have looked in the mirror and given ourselves unflattering self-talk about how we look? Even if we don’t have a full-blown eating disorder, it helps to understand the issues around distorted body image and why food, eating and diet have such a grip our lives.

3) Because if you don’t I’ll feel like a loser and it’ll be like high school all over again. And you wouldn’t want that to happen, would you?

2 YA books you adore

· The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

· A Bottle in the Gaza Sea by Valerie Zenatti

1 tip for aspiring YA writers

· Stock up with dark chocolate and coffee, get your rear end in the chair and write. Then revise. Repeat as necessary. There are no shortcuts.


I have 2 copies or Purge and 5 bookmarks to give away so enter away!

This “Kick off to Summer” Contest starts today and ends June 15th so hurry and enter and spread the word!

Want bonus entries?

+1 follow Sarah on Twitter @sarahdarerlitt

+1 Become a fan of her page on Facebook

+1 post about this contest somewhere and include a link (Facebook, Twitter, Your blog, etc.)

Or go HERE to enter

Thank you so much for stopping by Sarah! I’m so glad you were the first author for me to host to kick off the start of summer! It has truly been a blessing getting to talk to you so much! You are fantastic! Sorry for the delay in posting this though……

And to everyone else……….don’t hesitate to buy Purge! It’s now available in a wonderful paperback too so you have no excuse J And also don’t forget to check out Life, After hitting stores in July!

Love, Jill