Monday, April 20, 2015

Opening Up Book Riot's First YA Quaterly Box


Last week my Book Riot YA Quarterly Box came in the mail ! This is quarterly bookish subscription box from Bookriot.com. Each box comes with two YA books and some book related items. Let's open up and see what's inside.

Spoilers Ahoy !

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Audiobook Review : Reboot by Amy Tintera


  • Release Date: May 7th, 2013
  • Pages: 365 
  • Genre: Dystopian/Thriller
  • Publisher: HarperTeen

I've been in a bit of a fictional hangover. Which is to say I binged watched Nickelodeon's The Legend of Korra series and was searching for a book to fill this void. I wanted adventure, world building and action girls so I immediately started browsing YA dystopians. I settled on Reboot after getting a rec from a regular reader.

Wren Conolloy is a Reboot. A person who has died of the KDHD virus but rises from the dead as a faster and stronger creature. The longer a Reboot is dead before rising, the stronger they are. Having been dead for a record breaking 178 minutes, Wren is the best Reboot there is.

Reboots aren't free, they are the red shirt henchmen army of HARC, the mega-corporation/government entity that ended the war (you know how there is always a War) and keeps people "safe". Wren has no issues following HARC and their shady orders, some of which have included killing. She makes no excuses about it and I this attitude makes her a bit of an anti-hero, which I liked.

As a character Wren knows she is the best and she never expects to fail. Her cocky attitude and status as a 178 was very reminiscent of Korra in Legend of Korra. Wren has a pretty dark past, that's based more on reality that I expected from a dystopian.

The story told in Reboot is from a perspective we don't typically see in YA dystopians.  I feel like this story could  have easily been a Divergent-esque "girl in new environment storyline", but instead Wren is the experienced character and it doesn't feel like we are being introduced to everything. The naive ingenue storyline was handed over to our male protagonist, Callum Reyes.

Callum is a new Reboot, he was only dead for 22 minutes before rising making him more human than cold hard Reboot. As he and Wren begin to train together the usual YA dystopian tropes began to fall into place; evil-corporation-is-extra-evil, secret rebels, secret safe house, class divide. But I liked the characters enough to want to see how this played out.

The world building in this book was a little rocky at times. It seemed like the book was breaking and over explaining its rules. The big one being the explanation behind why only teen Reboots are kept and adults are killed. The explanation didn't work for me, the adults just go "crazy."

The audiobook is narrated and directed  by Khristine Hvam who I liked in the Daughter of Smoke and Bone series. I'd never heard Hvam do first person before and I picked up on some ky differences in her performance. She has to not only find the character's voice but carry it for every sentence as opposed to third person where there can be use more storytelling inflection.

Reboot is a clever send up of the zombie mythology.While this novel did dive into some cliche territory this was exactly what I  was looking for at the time; an action packed book with an unapologetic main character.







Wednesday, April 8, 2015

So You Want To Review A Galley: The Basics For Beginners

At Books and Sensibility we like to do things we probably aren't qualified for. Like judging book covers or attending the largest publishing event in North America after blogging for all of 9 months. Now we want to to talk about galley or  Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) requests. Getting advanced copies isn't everything in blogging, but  it can be fun to be apart of the promotion for a book you're excited about !

We want to share our tips on how we request ARCs. We don't have many chances to network with publisher connections, so our ARC request are basically like cold calls, which if you are a new book blogger you will be doing.

1. Build Your Content 

Before contacting publishers spend at least 2-3 months building your blog with reviews and other content. That way you have something to show off when you send requests. Take this time to find out what you like to review and what upcoming releases you really want to request.

2.  Discover NetGalley and Edelweiss

These websites are the top two places to go for browsing upcoming releases and requesting e-ARCs from the Big Five and small publishers. Signing up is free and easy.

Edelweiss is best for browsing publisher's catalogs. I use this to get the scoop on what's  coming up next year. For tips on browsing Edelweiss check out this post from River City Reading.

 NetGalley is great for professional readers and bloggers to request e-ARCs. It's user friendly and has tips and advice on how to request titles. You'll find all the Big 5 publishers plus smaller and independent presses. When you sign up make sure your profile includes as much information as possible. Show them what you can do for them ! Include stats and accomplishments.


3. Contest/Social Media 

While you are building up your content, entering ARC contests are a great way to get another blogger's extra review copies and to meet new bloggers. Check out giveaway hops hosted by I Am A Reader Not A Writer or Stuck in Books.

 Follow authors and publisher you're interested in on Twitter because many of them hold Twitter contests. If you win/receive an ARC be sure to send your review to the contact person listed in the ARC, it's a great way to get your name out there.


4. Know The Difference Among Publishers

Using Netgalley and Edelweiss can help you figure out who publishes your favorite books. Do some homework ! Get to know the imprints. If you wanted an HarperTeen book you don't want to contact Harper Perennial. Do some research and  browse each imprint's social media or websites to figure out their publicity e-mail or if they have a newsletter.

5. Send a Request E-mail

Once you've done your research it's time to send an e-mail. Keep it short and highlight why you want to review the book and what they can expect from you. If they have to scroll to read all your e-mail, it's to long. If you want to more info add it at the end after a broiler plate (###).


Quick Don'ts

- Don't buy or sell galleys. They are for promotional purposes only and  cost the publishers money.

- Don't contact the author for an ARC request unless they mention you can on social media. Most authors are not in charge of ARC distribution

- Don't upload e-ARCs online for distribution.

- Don't get caught up in getting ARCs. Sometimes reviewing old favorites can get you more hits than reviewing the hottest newest book before it's released.

Have we missed anything ? Have any questions ? Let us know below !

Next Up : Writing That Request E-mail.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Now and Forever by Susane Colasanti



  •  Release Date: May 20, 2014
  •  Pages: 273
  •  Genre: Contemporary YA
  •  Publisher: Viking Juvenile (Penguin)

So, I'm starting to realize I may have a new book kryptonite and it's the what I like to call "I'm with the band" stories.  These  are the books were either a friend, parent, or the love interest is a rock star. I haven't read many of them, but if I see one it instantly goes on to my TBR pile. I'm not sure why I'm so interested in this.  Maybe its because my guilty pleasure movie is the Disney Channel Original Movie Starstruck or that Sarah Dessen's This Lullaby was my favorite book as a teen. Either way, pair this knowledge with the fact that I've been meaning to read Susane Colasanti for years and Now and Forever was the perfect choice.

High school senior Sterling is just one month into her relationship with classmate Ethan Cross and she feels like the luckiest girl in the world. They have the same sense of humor, are both passionate about their interests and intend to make senior year there best year ever. But when Ethan's band is discovered and he becomes a teen idol, Sterling isn't sure their relationship will withstand the pressure of the spotlight.

 I don't want to say this book disappointed me because  Now and Forever wasn't terrible or anything it was just kind of... meh. It lacked the characterization and depth that really invest me in a contemporary YA. I kept reading because the low the low stakes  linear storytelling meant  that I could read a chapter or two of on my phone while I was waiting in a long line. I read 90% of this book on my phone.

What really interested me was the culture around popstar celebrity. I've always found the phenomenon of young male singers becoming idols seemingly overnight interesting. I've seen documentaries and watched YouTube videos about  the Justin Bieber and One Direction fans of the world and I think Colasanti captured the "bandom" aspect well.

There is a section where Sterling eavesdrops on a group of Ethan fans bragging to each other about how big of fans they are and Sterling remarks on how they all want to take ownership of Ethan. I see that all the time in any fandom and even have thought it myself (*cough* Darren Criss, Starkid *cough*). I also liked the way she portrayed the online fans of Ethan's as not just being jealous and hating Sterling, a lot of them start to "ship" them and  make online collages and stuff.

I could be wrong, but I don’t think this is the typical Colasanti book. I looked at her website and  her other novels seem more issue based than this one. I may try some of her earlier stuff.









Nitpick to end all nitpicks: the title refers to a song in the book, but the song in the book doesn't have an ampersand and neither does the book title  when you look up it's ISBN so why is there an ampersand on the cover ??? It makes it so hard to search for this book in the library.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

NOVA TEEN BOOK FESTIVAL 2015

Arrival

After attending the inaugural event last year I was excited to head back to my hometown of Northern Virginia for the NoVa Teen Book Festival !


via novateenbookfestival.tumblr.com
The morning started out a little rough because I left Richmond much later than I planned plus there was an accident on I-95. I made it to NoVaTeen at 11:00 am just in time for the second main author panel with Jason Reynolds, Shaun Hutchinson, Kat Spears, Jennifer Niven and Jasmine Warga. I wasn't there for any specific author this year and stuck in the main auditorium so I could chillax in the comfortable chairs.

This year NTBF had a dedicated lunch hour, which I think  was a great improvement because last year you had to choose between attending a panel or going to lunch. I hope they keep this for next year !  I tried Mac's Donuts Truck . . . because donuts and Kat was able to drive up the street and get something.

Family Feud 

Family Feud was fun to watch !
During lunch they hosted a YA Family Feud where two teens from the audience got to compete with authors teams. It was great because one of the teens was a big fan of Snow Like Ashes and got to be on a team with Sara Raasch. I think it's great when authors get to interact with their audience in a fun way. Both the host and tech people where on point ! I don't know how they did it but it was really fun to watch.


The Keynote

Matt De La Peña gave the keynote and I was excited to see him since I've been reading his book The Living. De Le Peña was a pro and he had so many funny stories from his early life and career. I never realized his relationship with books and that he didn't start reading until college.

The Signings

I was really decisive about what I wanted to buy and by the time I was ready most of the books were gone. But I did get When I Was The Greatest signed and asked Jason about what he thought of Virginia since his next book is set in South Hill, VA.

Last year the signings portion was at the Arlington Public Library and attendees walked over, but this year they were in the school cafeteria which was convenient considering NoVa had been pummeled with snow that week and there were still ice patches. I liked the set up and they are really organized about handling books.

With so many authors in one room it could get chaotic, but their staff of volunteers kept it organized.The longest line was for Marie Rutkoski and even then Kat was able to get in and out under  20 minutes. I think NTBF does a good job looking out for readers who can't afford to buy all the books day of.  They offer signing sheets you could buy for $1 and bookplates that can be signed and stuck in the books later.

I see nothing but more bright things for this festival in the future !



Sunday, March 15, 2015

We Heart Diverse Book Covers !

We love diverse books and we love pretty covers so it makes us extra happy  when there is diversity loud and clear on the covers in the YA section. Here is a collection of some of our favorite covers that clearly show LGBT or characters of color right on the cover. Tell us which ones are your fave or ones you love that we don't have. 





From left to right:

The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson
Boy 21 by Matthew Quick
Not Otherwise Specified by Hannah Moskowitz
No One Needs To Know by Amanda Grace
Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older
Two Boys Kissing by  David Levithan
The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler
This Side of Home by Renée Watson
The Boy In The Black Suit by Jason Reynolds
One Man Guy by Michael Barakiva
Scarlett Undercover by Jennifer Lanthan
Me, Earl, and The Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews
Hooked by Liz Fichera
Bombay Blues by Tanuja Desai Hidiers
About A Girl by Sarah McCarry
Endangered by Lamar Giles
Of Metal Wishes by Sarah Fine
Bleeding Violet by Dia Reeves
Biggest Flirt by Jennifer Echols
Hollow Girl by Sean Williams
Sound by Alexandra Duncan
Most Likely To Succeed by Jennifer Echols
Ashes To Ashes by Jenny Han and Sibohan Vivian
To All The Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han




Sunday, March 8, 2015

A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray


  • Release Date: November 14th, 2014
  • Pages: 368
  • Genre: Science Fiction
  • Publisher: HarperTeen 


Marguerite Caine's parents are geniuses. Literally. They've invented the Firebird, a device that allows a person to travel into alternate universes. Just as they are about to go public their graduate assistant, Paul Markov steals the technology, kills Maugerite's father and escapes into another dimension. Now, with the help of their other assistant, Theo, Marguerite is going after Paul to figure out what his plans are and avenge her father's death.

 I don’t typically read the trendy science fiction YA books, but this cover is so unique and I always liked Gray's 'I'm not like the other girls' blogpost and I needed to break my contemporary kick.

Jess is always telling me how time travel books can always be hard to understand and as I started this I imagined alternate universes traveling would be even more confusing. I hand waved most of the science stuff, but  basically the book  says that all around us multiple alternate universes exist where different choices have created different timelines. When you travel you are put into the consciousness of yourself in that dimensions and when you leave the version of yourself has no memory of you being there.

 The book gets very twisty, and turny what with all the different people in different dimensions so I won't talk about the plot to much. I will say there are a lot of big reveals and for the most part it's a fun ride as  they travel from place to place.  Despite the initial main drive of  this book being finding Paul Markov and his secrets, this quickly becomes less Dan Brown and more of a  romance complete with the typical YA love triangle.

 This book  hinges on a YA trope I really hate where the (typically) male characters don't tell the female protagonist things for 'their own good' and causes a series of misunderstandings. I hate this because it makes the female character look stupid. I think there still could have been a story if she had known all the secrets that were being kept from her.

 I didn't realize this was a series when I picked it up, but I found out midway through the book so I expected this book to end on a cliffhanger, but it actually wraps up most of the plot and I think you could read this one as a standalone. Although I will probably read the next one to see what dimensions Gray has next.


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