Monday, March 31, 2014

This Side of Salvation by Jeri Smith-Ready RELEASES TOMORROW and Two Awesome Giveaways

This Side of Salvation

Everyone mourns differently. When his older brother was killed, David got angry. As in, fist-meets-someone-else’s-face furious. But his parents? They got religious. David’s still figuring out his relationship with a higher power, but there’s one thing he does know for sure:  The closer he gets to new-girl Bailey, the better, brighter, happier, more he feels.

Then his parents start cutting all their worldly ties in to prepare for the Rush, the divine moment when the faithful will be whisked off to Heaven…and they want David to do the same. David’s torn. There’s a big difference between living in the moment and giving up his best friend, varsity baseball, and Bailey—especially Bailey—in hope of salvation.

But when he comes home late from prom, and late for the Rush, to find that his parents have vanished, David is in more trouble than he ever could have imagined… 

What Others Are Saying:

“THIS SIDE OF SALVATION is impossible to pigeonhole. It’s a mystery, a love story, a tale of friendship, of prejudice, and of a family overcoming tragedy…Jeri Smith-Ready has her finger on the pulse of American youth.” — Printz Honor winner and NYT Bestseller Elizabeth Wein

“This is a frighteningly realistic story that delicately handles the issues of religion and family—an emotional mystery sure to be popular and perfect for discussion.” — VOYA, **Highlighted (Starred) Review**

“[A] smart, well-rounded, and unpredictable tale...bringing to light issues of belief versus free will, spirit versus body, and family versus self—while never being heavy-handed.” Booklist, **Starred Review**

“This book has some of the best written, strongest, and most satisfying character dynamics that I have read in a long time...There are no extreme moral rights and wrongs in this book. These people just are, and they work, and they make this story beautiful.” — Bibliopunkk

Giveaways Galore!

Jeri has two ongoing giveaways to celebrate the release of This Side of Salvation.

Join the Rush swag fest: free EXCLUSIVE swag for everyone who orders TSOS on or before Monday, April 7.

Superfan contest (March 31 – April 9): share the TSOS characters’ “trading cards”  on your social networks to earn points. Biggest Superfan wins the grand prize, but there’s a chance to win a book and a gift card every day you play!

Here's the first day's card, featuring the main character, David Cooper:

Cat blogging meets book birthday!

Meet Misha and Twinkle, the real-life inspiration for the cats of This Side of Salvation, on PulseIt, the official site of Jeri's publisher, Simon Pulse.

Order the hardcover:

Order the ebook:

Find Jeri

Visit Jeri's website, or follow her on one of these sites:

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Stacking the Shelves (13)

This week I'm joining Stacking the Shelves hosted by Tynga's Reviews and sharing the books that I acquired throughout the week.

Black Box by Cassia Leo (e-book; Purchased)
Music of the Heart by Katie Ashley (e-book; Purchased)
Sweet Little Thing by Renee Carlino (e-book; Purchased)
Love Drugged by James Klise (Paperback Swap)

Friday, March 28, 2014

My Books of Truth by Lisa Burstein

As part of the Entangled Embrace March Madness, their new adult authors are stopping by svarious blogs. Today I am hosting Lisa Burstein author of Sneaking Candy and young adult novels Pretty Amy and Dear Cassie. I am a huge fan of Lisa's writing and have reviewed a copy of her books here. As part of the March Madness, I've asked Lisa to share the books that made her fall in love with reading and writing.

Welcome Lisa!!!

My Books of Truth
I always knew I wanted to be a writer. Well not out of the womb, but ever since I was a little kid. Second grade little. But, I didn't know what kind of a writer I wanted to be until I read the books: Go Ask Alice & Lisa, Bright & Dark.
They were unlike books I'd ever read before. They seemed almost like I shouldn't be allowed to read them, like I was seeing the characters true, unedited, innermost usually scary thoughts. It felt incredible to know exactly how someone else felt—to know that people had those scary and sometimes uncomfortable feelings too.

I knew I wanted to be the kind of writer who wrote books like those. Who could give that feeling to readers.
I wanted to tell the truth.

Sometimes the truth can be beautiful, but a lot of times it can be ugly. My books have been called in positive reviews: raw, honest, sharp, and real. And, in negative reviews: depressing, angry, annoying, and too much.
I have been told my books have the ability to make you snot-laugh and snot-cry, but also have been told that some readers want to throw them across the room.

It's never easy to get negative reviews but what I've come to understand over time is that what people LOVE and HATE about my books are the exact same things. They are about real life and real problems and very real characters and for some people than can be: depressing, angry, annoying, and too much.

What attracted me to books of truth is the same thing that can repel some people. For some people books like the ones that inspired me can be UGLY. But for others, it can beautiful and exactly what they need.

Go Ask Alice and Lisa, Bright and Dark, books that ask tough questions that dare to discuss tough topics were what I needed when I was in high school. And that is why even with some negative reviews I will continue to write books that I hope can do the same for others.

Books with truth at their core made me feel normal when nothing else did. 

I know there are so many girls and women, who just want someone, anyone to understand them. Who try so hard to make sense of their lives that it hurts.

That is who I write for, why I write, because I know sometimes that just saying and reading the scary and hard things can make you feel better. I know that because it's what finally did it for me.

Lisa Burstein Author Photo 

Author Bio:
Lisa Burstein is a tea seller by day and a writer by night. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from the Inland Northwest Center for Writers at Eastern Washington University. She is the author of the YA Novels: Pretty Amy and Dear Cassie and the NA Novella: The Next Forever. Sneaking Candy is her first full-length new adult novel.        

Links: Website Blog Facebook Twitter Author Goodreads SNEAKING CANDY Goodreads


Thursday, March 27, 2014

Review: The Secret Side of Empty by Maria E. Andreu

The Secret Side of Empty
by Maria E. Andreu
Publication Date: March 11, 2014
Published by Running Press Kids
Pages 336
Source: Publisher
Add to Goodreads

from Goodreads

As a straight-A student with a budding romance and loyal best friend, M.T.’s life seems as apple-pie American as her blondish hair and pale skin. But M.T. hides two facts to the contrary: her full name of Monserrat Thalia and her status as an undocumented immigrant.

But it’s harder to hide now that M.T.’s a senior. Her school’s National Honor Society wants her to plan their trip abroad, her best friend won’t stop bugging her to get her driver’s license, and all everyone talks about is where they want to go to college. M.T. is pretty sure she can’t go to college, and with high school ending and her family life unraveling, she’s staring down a future that just seems empty. In the end, M.T. will need to trust herself and others to stake a claim in the life that she wants.

Author Maria E. Andreu draws from her personal experience as a (formerly) undocumented immigrant to explore an issue that affects over one million children in the U.S. But while the subject matter is timely, it is M.T.’s sharp, darkly funny voice and longing for a future that makes this story universally poignant.

My Thoughts

The Secret Side of Empty, Maria E. Andreu's debut novel, is a story that a reader can easily become swept up in. From the very beginning, I was interested in M.T. and her relationships with her friends. The opening scene (a car race/chase with a group of boys) was captivating, possibly because I experienced something very similar in high school, but also because it revealed existing relationships, set up the relationships M.T. would have, and exposed an overwhelming fear.

M.T. immigrant status affects every aspect of her life. She cannot completely confide in her best friend for fear of judgment. She cannot confide in her teachers for fear of deportation. She cannot confide in her boyfriend for fear of disgust. She cannot voice her opinions at home for fear of abuse because sometimes it comes her way unexpectedly and she never knows what will or won't set her father off. She doesn't have anyone to turn to.

As graduation approaches, and her future becomes more uncertain, M.T.'s relationships start to unravel, and everything seems to become hopeless. Just like M.T.'s fears exposure in almost every circumstance or relationship, I was always wondering what was going to be event that revealed that she was an undocumented immigrant. When would all of the evaded questions catch up with her? When would she be found out?

There was a lot more humor and wit that I expected and even with the seriousness of what M.T. experiences, she is a funny girl. We get to know this through her relationships with her friends, her bantering ways, and her inner dialogues.

The Secret Side of Empty is an incredible story with a premise different from any that I've read. It really does shed light on the concept that you can never really know what another person is going through. Admittedly, it might not be the first book I would pick up because of a preconceived idea of what I think it will be about. However, having read it, I now know that would be a complete disservice to me as a reader and to this book. This is a book that I will recommend and continue to recommend time and time again.

Disclaimer:  I received this book from Running Press Kids in exchange for my honest review.  I was not compensated in any way other than the book provided. Thoughts and opinions are my own.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday: Jessica Darling's It List 2 by Megan McCafferty

Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.
This week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection is:

Jessica Darling's It List 2
The (Totally Not) Guaranteed to Friends, Foes and Faux Friends
by Megan McCafferty
Published by
Publication Date: September 23, 2014
Add to Goodreads

Jessica Darling is getting the hang of seventh grade -- finally! While her old BFF, Bridget, is busy talking (nonstop) about her new boyfriend, Burke, Jessica tries to fit in with her new friends, Sara, Manda, and Hope. The IT List instructions from her sister, Bethany, and an epic slumber party may help Jessica secure her spot in the cool clique, but does she even want it?

Megan McCafferty's It List series introduces readers to Jessica Darling, an unabashedly brainy seventh grader who stays true to herself, even if it means being (totally not) cool.

Why I'm Waiting
  •  Jessica Darling is one of my favorite characters ever. I loved reading about Jessica during her older teen years and as an adult. Jessica as a pre-teen is just as funny.
  • I'm reading this series with my niece who is the same age/grade as Jessica. I hope that she will love this series as much as I do. 
  • I want to know more about Jessica's friendship with Hope. It was just beginning in book 1.
  • "An epic slumber party" - 7th grade slumber parties can make or break you!  

Monday, March 24, 2014

The Monster Thons - Sign-Up

header from The Books Monsters
I participate in a few read-a-thons a year,  but I've never participated in a review-a-thon. I am in desperate need for something like this - I have a number of back-logged review and want to crank them out. I can dedicate a week to reviews. No reading. That's right. OK, who am I kidding - limited reading, but more writing. 

Some books I plan to review:
Roomies by Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando
fml by Shaun Hutchison
Over You by Amy Reed
The Namesake by Steve Parlato
Arise by Tara Hudson

Book club discussions I need to write:
17 & Gone by Nova Ren Suma
Still Missing by Chevy Stevens
The Secret Ingredient by Stewart Lewis
Truly, Madly, Deadly by Hannah Jayne
Everneath by Brodi Ashton

If you like read-a-thons or need a review-a-thon, 
you should stop by The Book Monsters and join up.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Love My Indie Bookstore with Adam of Roof Beam Reader

I am really excited about hosting Adam of Roof Beam Reader for my Love My Indie Bookstore feature. I am a huge fan of Adam and have been following his blog since before starting Actin' Up with Books. When I put out a request for participants for this feature earlier this year, he was one of the first to sign up. Today Adam shares his favorite independent bookstore, Town House Books in Saint Charles, Illinois.

Welcome Adam!!!

Whenever I find a place that offers not only a great selection of books but also an incredible brunch (and lunch) menu, I know that it and I are soon to become fast friends.  Townhouse Books in Saint Charles, Illinois is more than just a book and brunch kind of place, although it does those things to perfection!  And in the warm months, you can eat along the walkway or in the courtyard, sipping a coffee and nibbling a scone, and it feels like Paris. I mean, just look at this:

What I love about Townhouse Books is that, of course, it is first and foremost an independent bookseller.  Their staff is small and dedicated, so the chances are good that –if you visit often—you will get to know most of them, and they will get to know you.  In addition, the people are friendly, too! 

I worked at a bookstore for a few years, and I can say without snark or cynicism that, well, sometimes bookstore salespeople can be a bit off-putting.  They can be snobbish or sarcastic or completely ineffectual (because they don’t read!).  But Townhouse Books has a staff of wonderful people who know their stuff or, in the off chance that they’re not sure what you’re talking about, will actually help you figure it out! 

Another thing I love about the bookstore side of the place (it is restaurant to the right, books to the left!) is its winding aisles and bookshelves of varied types and sizes.  Some people might find this style odd or “rummage” like, but that’s just what I love about it!  There’s plenty of sunlight, so you can explore around the genres (yes, they’re organized!) at a leisurely pace, strolling around one corner and the next. It feels much more like you’re in a museum of discovery than a clinical, cosmetically cold, corporate kind of place. 

Of course, they have great events, too: author appearances, reading, signings, group functions and more.  Educators (like me!) get 20% off books for use in the classroom, and they also offer a selection of hand-sewn letter press books by local authors, which can make for pretty awesome, unique gifts. Here’s Julia Glass (National Book Award winner, 2002) at a reading in the café:

Townhouse Books and Café has been around since 1974 and has managed to survive so many ups-and-downs in the economy, and so many brutal winters. How do they do this, even with corporate giants like Barnes & Noble and, now, Half Price Books fairly close by?  If I knew the answer to that, I’d perhaps have a successful recipe for my own bookstore! All I can say is, it is a local treasure and I can’t help but go back again and again!


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