Category Archives: Debut Author Challenge 2013

Book Trailer Thursday (10): Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis

I have to say, I love the cover. When I watched the book trailer, I thought the imagery reflected the image on the cover. I can’t wait to read Not a Drop to Drink.

Not a Drop to DrinkTitle: Not a Drop to Drink

Author: Mindy McGinnis

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books

Published: September 24, 2013

Summary (from Goodreads)Regret was for people with nothing to defend, people who had no water. 

Lynn knows every threat to her pond: drought, a snowless winter, coyotes, and, most importantly, people looking for a drink. She makes sure anyone who comes near the pond leaves thirsty, or doesn’t leave at all.

Confident in her own abilities, Lynn has no use for the world beyond the nearby fields and forest. Having a life means dedicating it to survival, and the constant work of gathering wood and water. Having a pond requires the fortitude to protect it, something Mother taught her well during their quiet hours on the rooftop, rifles in hand.

But wisps of smoke on the horizon mean one thing: strangers. The mysterious footprints by the pond, nighttime threats, and gunshots make it all too clear Lynn has exactly what they want, and they won’t stop until they get it….

With evocative, spare language and incredible drama, danger, and romance, debut author Mindy McGinnis depicts one girl’s journey in a barren world not so different than our own.

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Review: 45 Pounds (More or Less) by K.A. Barson

45 PoundsTitle: 45 Pounds (More or Less)

Author: K.A. Barson

Publisher:Viking Juvenile

Publishing Date: July 11th 2013

Source: Netgalley

Summary (from Goodreads): Here are the numbers of Ann Galardi’s life:

She is 16.
And a size 17.
Her perfect mother is a size 6.
Her Aunt Jackie is getting married in 10 weeks, and wants Ann to be her bridesmaid.
So Ann makes up her mind: Time to lose 45 pounds (more or less) in 2 1/2 months.

Welcome to the world of informercial diet plans, wedding dance lessons, embarrassing run-ins with the cutest guy Ann’s ever seen—-and some surprises about her NOT-so-perfect mother.

And there’s one more thing. It’s all about feeling comfortable in your own skin-—no matter how you add it up!

Review: 45 Pounds is a book every woman (young adult or adult) should read. The message about body image is impactful and yet light. There were several times that I was laughing out loud. Ann has a great voice that feels real and not forced. If I were still in high school, I would want Ann and especially Regina to be my friend.  Barson did an excellent job developing each character. Even the characters who were mean and awful people, were characters I loved to hate. She captured the insecurity of so many women but did it in a way that you could laugh at yourself, Ann and her crazy family.

Not only is this about the woes of body image but it also shows the imperfections of families, no matter how perfect they seem on the outside. From the crazy grandma to the absent brother, there is a family member that I’m sure everybody can compare to their own imperfect families.

I especially liked that there was a love interest but it wasn’t the main plot line. In fact, that plot line takes a back seat for much of the book until Ann is capable of really handeling it. I like that she is more interested in herself, her family and her friends than a boy.

I loved these characters so much I would love to see a sequel of some sort  Maybe a book written from Regina’s point of view.

The pacing of the book is perfect and the ending brought tears to my eyes.

I can’t wait to put this book on the Bookshelves of Room 918!

About the Author

K.A. Barson graduated from Vermont College of Fine Arts with an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults. She and her husband live in Jackson, Michigan, surrounded by kids, grandkids, unruly dogs, and too many pairs of shoes. 45 Pounds (More or Less) is her debut YA novel.

Want to know more about the author? Visit her website.

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Review: The Waiting Tree by Lindsay Moynihan

The Waiting TreeTitle: The Waiting Tree
Author: Linday Moynihan

Publisher: Amazon Children’s Publishing

Publishing Date: May 14, 2013

Source: Netgalley

Summary (from Goodreads): Eighteen-year-old Simon Peters wants to stand up for the truth about who he is. His love for Stephen is unwavering, but does he have the courage to defend it when his entire church community, including his eldest brother has ostracized him? Trapped in a cashier’s job he hates, struggling to maintain peace with his brothers after their parents have died, and determined to look after his mute brother, Simon puts everyone else’s needs before his own. It takes a courageous act of self-sacrifice on Jude’s part to change both of their lives forever. Jude, who knew that when the fig tree in their yard began to bloom, it was his time to finally be heard and to set Simon free.

Review: Simon’s situation is heartbreaking and almost too much to handle. If you’re looking for a pick-me-up, this is not the book for you. I was surprised to find that this was not really a story about a gay relationship. It is, however,a story about family struggles, coming of age and overcoming obstacles. Simon’s thrown every curveball that one could imagine and then some curveballs that one wouldn’t even fathom could happen to one young man. I liked that Simon was a strong character who didn’t whine about his situation but was constantly thinking of others’ needs and what he could do to help them. His big heart and unselfishness makes him a likable character. I was instantly drawn into his world and invested in his future. In fact, all of the characters were well developed.  The only issue I had with the characters was the halfhearted attempt at southern dialect. It seemed that the dialect was randomly sprinkled in with a few “ya’lls” and “yers.” Otherwise, I sometimes forgot that this was taking place in the South. 

I was somewhat disappointed that Simon and Stephen’s conflicts and issues weren’t more of the story. It seemed, as you start to read that that is going to be the major plot line, but then it just takes a back seat for a majority of the story. I initially had a group of students who I thought would really identify with this story but as it ebbed so did my confidence in the intended audience. While I think that group of students would still be interested in the story, I don’t think they would identify completely with Simon’s issues.

My biggest issue with the plot was the ending. I was extremely disappointed. Without spoiling the story, the ending feels wide open. I was hoping there was at least one more page or even an epilogue, but I was left empty handed. Maybe I’ve been reading too many series books but this ending seemed to leave the door open for a sequel.

About the Author: Lindsay has had a passion for storytelling since her early childhood in Toronto, Canada. At eighteen, she moved to upstate New York to study at the Culinary Institute of America where she penned the text to Cake Art for the school’s publishing division. Moynihan currently lives in Orlando, Florida, where she attends the University of Central Florida, volunteers with local LGBTQ organizations, and continues to write about the struggles and successes of today’s young adults. The Waiting Tree is her first novel.

Want to find out more? Check out the The Waiting Tree’s Facebook page or follow Moynihan on Twitter.


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Review: The Rules for Disappearing by Ashley Elston

The Rules for DisappearingTitle: The Rules for Disappearing

Author: Ashely Elston

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Release Date: May 14, 2013

Source: NetGalley

Summary (from Goodreads): She’s been six different people in six different places: Madeline in Ohio, Isabelle in Missouri, Olivia in Kentucky . . . But now that she’s been transplanted to rural Louisiana, she has decided that this fake identity will be her last.

Witness Protection has taken nearly everything from her. But for now, they’ve given her a new name, Megan Rose Jones, and a horrible hair color. For the past eight months, Meg has begged her father to answer one question: What on earth did he do – or see – that landed them in this god-awful mess? Meg has just about had it with all the Suits’ rules — and her dad’s silence. If he won’t help, it’s time she got some answers for herself.

But Meg isn’t counting on Ethan Landry, an adorable Louisiana farm boy who’s too smart for his own good. He knows Meg is hiding something big. And it just might get both of them killed. As they embark on a perilous journey to free her family once and for all, Meg discovers that there’s only one rule that really matters — survival.

Review: Elston’s debut novel is must read. It is packed full of mystery, romance and danger. And who can resist a story about a teenager in Witness Protection ? I’ve always wondered what Witness Protection would be like–not that I want to join the program anytime soon. The Rules for Disappearing gives you an inside look and doesn’t gloss over the hardships that Protection costs families. I was immediately whisked away to Louisiana with Meg and still can’t get her, Ethan and Teeny out of mind.  Disappearing  really is a page turner. I’m looking forward to adding to Room 918’s bookshelves in May.

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Book Trailer Thursday (1): Taken by Erin Bowman

This is a new meme I’m trying out thanks to YALove. I’ve enjoyed watching the book trailers she puts up and thought you might want to see a few trailers too.

I’ve been hearing buzz about Taken since NCTE. This is Bowman’s debut novel and I can’t wait to read it.  In fact, I’m going out today to pick it up. It looks like a real thriller. My hope is to add to the shelves on Monday (assuming I get the time to read this weekend.

Summary (from Goodreads): There are no

men in Claysoot. There are boys—but every one of them vanishes at midnight on his eighteenth birthday. The ground shakes, the wind howls, a blinding light descends…and he’s gone.

They call it the Heist.

Gray Weathersby’s eighteenth birthday is mere months away, and he’s prepared to meet his fate–until he finds a strange note from his mother and starts to question everything he’s been raised to accept: the Council leaders and their obvious secrets. The Heist itself. And what lies beyond the Wall that surrounds Claysoot–a structure that no one can cross and survive.

Climbing the Wall is suicide, but what comes after the Heist could be worse. Should he sit back and wait to be taken–or risk everything on the hope of the other side?

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Waiting on Wednesday: The Symptoms of My Insanity by Mindy Raf

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine.  It’s designed for bloggers to spotlight the upcoming releases that they simply can’t wait to read.

The Symptoms of My Insanity

Title: The Symptoms of My Insanity

Author: Mindy Raf

Publisher: Dial Books for Young Readers

Release Date: April 18, 2013

Summary (from Goodreads): A laugh-out-loud, bittersweet debut full of wit, wisdom, heart, and a hilarious, unforgettable heroine.

When you’re a hypochondriac, there are a million different things that could be wrong with you, but for Izzy, focusing on what could be wrong might be keeping her from dealing with what’s really wrong.

I almost raised my hand, but what would I say? “Mr. Bayer, may I please be excused? I’m not totally positive, but I think I might have cancer.” No way. Then everyone at school would know, and they would treat me differently, and I would be known as “Izzy, that poor girl who diagnosed herself with breast cancer during biology.”

But Izzy’s sense of humor can only get her so far when suddenly her best friend appears to have undergone a personality transplant, her mother’s health takes a turn for the worse, and her beautiful maybe-boyfriend is going all hot and cold. Izzy thinks she’s preparing for the worst-case scenario, but when the worst-case scenario actually hits, it’s a different story altogether—and there’s no tidy list of symptoms to help her through the insanity.

I love supporting and discovering new authors. Mindy Raf is a writer, comedian, and musician. You can learn more about her at her website.

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Review: The Tragedy Paper by Elizabeth LaBan

The Tragedy PaperTitle: The Tragedy Paper

Author: Elizabeth LaBan

Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers

Published: January 8, 2013

Source: NetGalley

Summary (Goodreads): Tim Macbeth, a seventeen-year-old albino and a recent transfer to the prestigious Irving School, where the motto is “Enter here to be and find a friend.” A friend is the last thing Tim expects or wants—he just hopes to get through his senior year unnoticed. Yet, despite his efforts to blend into the background, he finds himself falling for the quintessential “It” girl, Vanessa Sheller, girlfriend of Irving’s most popular boy. To Tim’s surprise, Vanessa is into him, too, but she can kiss her social status goodbye if anyone ever finds out. Tim and Vanessa begin a clandestine romance, but looming over them is the Tragedy Paper, Irving’s version of a senior year thesis, assigned by the school’s least forgiving teacher.

Review: The Tragedy Paper is an amazing debut novel. Told from two view-points (Duncan & Tim), this novel pulls you in from the very first page. I enjoyed the fact that the two main characters were males since so many YA books have been female dominant lately (not that I don’t enjoy those books, but this was a nice change from what I’ve been reading lately). What I enjoyed even more is that there is) a love story (two, in fact) told from the male perspective. The plot is revealed by jumping from the past to present back to the past and it gets so twisted that reader can’t possibly escape from it. The ending felt a little open, which has me hoping for a sequel but sometimes that’s just the way life goes.

I love that YA literature is so smart; the characters are intelligent and value school and still are very much teenagers. I think that sometimes people forget how smart young adults are and LaBan did an excellent job capturing real teenagers. I like the reference to Shakespeare and the fact that the whole story stems from an epic assignment given to all seniors. LaBlan’s writing style and plot points reminded me of John Green (who I love) and I look forward to more of her writing.

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