Free Friday: No Name Calling Week and CRACKED by KM Walton

Reading Song of the Day: “Skyscraper” by Demi Lovato

Confession: I feel guilty about two things. First, that I gave this post an incredibly wordy title. And second, that Quita and I failed to mention an important event last week. You see, January 23-27 was No Name-Calling Week, an event aimed at middle schoolers that encourages them to refrain from tossing insults at each other.

It’s rare that I collide my day job onto the blog, but I felt this one was worth mentioning. In honor of No Name-Calling Week, my students created their own inspiring poetry that I read over the morning announcements. Also, I asked them all to sign a No Name-Calling Week Pledge. Granted, not every student HAD to sign, so I was pretty impressed by the outcome:


During the week, I also finally read Cracked by KM Walton (which was on my 2012 Debut Author Challenge list), a story told in dual POVs–from the bully and his victim. Yes, KM’s my agent-sister (Team LaPolla rules!), but NO, I’m not recommending this book because I’m biased. I’m saying you should read this book:

Because it gives you an uncensored view of bullying and high school

Because it doesn’t condescend to the readers and stuff your face with morals

Because it makes you empathize for the victim AND the bully

Because despite all of the heartache, it’ll leave you with hope

And in perfect timing, I just won a grant in which I’ll be able to buy MORE books for my school that’ll take on bullying headfirst. In addition to Cracked, here are some other books that I’m considering:

What about you all? Read any powerful books about bullying? Has a book ever helped you out of a bad situation?

2012 Debut Author Challenge: Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Reading Song of the Day: “A Cinderella Story” by Mudvayne

Will you look at that? I’ve completed my first book of the New Year! Not only that, but it’s the second book I’ve read for the 2012 Debut Author Challenge. And this is one that I’m sure many of you will enjoy. First, let’s see what Goodreads has to say about Marissa Meyer’s Cinder:

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. . . .

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

In this thrilling debut young adult novel, the first of a quartet, Marissa Meyer introduces readers to an unforgettable heroine and a masterfully crafted new world that’s enthralling.

Interested yet? Well, let’s see if this will do it for you:

The Top 3 Reasons You Should Read Cinder:

1. Not Your Average Fairy Tale Retelling: Let’s be honest. Fairy tale retellings are pretty hot right now. I’m surprised that I’ve been so into ABC’s Once Upon a Time. And the new Snow White and the Huntsman movie? Quita and I will be in theaters opening night (and not just so Quita can drool over Chris Hemsworth). But Cinder is MORE than just a retelling. Meyer creates new characters, new legends…hell, a new story. Sure, I saw traces of Cinderella a few times, but I’m impressed with how much Meyer didn’t rely on the tale we all know and love. You better believe there is no fairy godmother to save the day.

2. Cinder is no Disney princess. Nothing against Disney. I mean, I still try to sing like Ariel in the shower. But Cinder isn’t some damsel waiting for the prince to notice her. If anything, she has a goal beyond falling in love with the prince. In fact, the prince comes to her for help. How kick ass is that? As Destiny’s Child would say: All the woman who are independent…

3. Likewise, there’s no Disney ending. Now, I don’t want to give anything away, but let’s just say that I was relieved that no one was riding off into the sunset. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good love story…but only when it fits with the story. Meyer created a layered character with Cinder. Sure, she’s charmed by the prince, but there are bigger issues at hand…and I’m curious to see how she’ll tackle them in the future.

If you like…

Book: Girl Parts by John M. Cusick, or

Movie: Ever After

then you’ll like Cinder!!

Have you read Cinder yet? What kind of fairy tale retellings would you like to see or read?

Note: Ahem, a contest MAY occur at the end of the month…and commenting on this post can increase your chances to win. 🙂

Gchat Review: Living Violet by Jaime Reed…AND a CONTEST

Reading Song of the Day: “Violet Hill” by Coldplay

So, I was fortunate enough to win an ARC of Jaime Reed’s debut paranormal novel: Living Violet (The Cambion Chronicles # 1). EEEK! Me and Pam were so excited to read this novel, and we must say it did not disappoint! We took turns reading the ARC and finished it in about a week and a half. BOTH of us read this ONE copy in no more than TEN days. That’s a testament to how engaging the story was.
Here is what Goodreads has to say:

He’s persuasive, charming, and way too mysterious. And for Samara Marshall, her co-worker is everything she wants most–and everything she most fears. . .

Samara Marshall is determined to make the summer before her senior year the best ever. Her plan: enjoy downtime with friends and work to save up cash for her dream car. Summer romance is not on her to-do list, but uncovering the truth about her flirtatious co-worker, Caleb Baker, is. From the peculiar glow to his eyes to the unfortunate events that befall the girls who pine after him, Samara is the only one to sense danger behind his smile.

But Caleb’s secrets are drawing Samara into a world where the laws of attraction are a means of survival. And as a sinister power closes in on those she loves, Samara must take a risk that will change her life forever. . .or consume it.

Sounds like good stuff, right? We know!
This time around with the DAC we’re doing things a little differently. We have two separate lists, which you can check out here. However, some of the books show up on both our lists. For those books, Pam and I are going to “chat” and then share our discussion about the book with you all–because we know you’re just DYING to know what we think.
So, without further adieu here was the chat we had about Reed’s Living Violet:
Did you read that, right? YEP! We’re giving away a copy of Jaime Reed’s debut novel Living Violet. What do you have to do to enter? You MUST be a follower of our blog, a US resident, and leave a comment on this post by MIDNIGHT on Tuesday December 20th, 2011. We will choose one winner at random and pre-order a copy of Living Violet for you. Need something to talk about in the comments??? Well, tell us your favorite baked good. That should be fun!
**DISCLAIMER: We did not have this chat in front of the Statue of Liberty. Instead, we used Gchat. We know, not very glamorous 😀 The picture is from our trip to NY last year.**

One More Time With Feeling: Debut Author Challenge 2012

Reading Song of the Day: “One More Time With Feeling” by Regina Spektor

Soooo, we just rejoiced from finishing the 2011 Debut Author Challenge last week. Yet, we’re ready to get back into it again. That’s right, The Story Siren is doing it again in 2012, and of course, we’re on board. You wanna participate, too? There’s only a few rules. Like to hear them? Here they go:

1.) Read and review at least twelve middle grade and young adult novels by January 31st, 2013.

2.) Review the books on your blog or using sites like Goodreads.com or Amazon.

3.) The book you read MUST be the author’s FIRST middle grade or young adult debut novel in the year 2012.

For more information on the rules and to sign up, click here. The Story Siren will tell you all about it 😀

This time, we’re doing things a little differently. We’re going to have OUR OWN SEPARATE LISTS *gasp*. Some books we BOTH want to read, so you’ll see them twice, but overall–we’re branching out and completing the challenge double time!

We’ll EACH read at least twelve new books from the peeps who have been dubbed “The Apocolpysies”. These are the lucky folks who are debuting as an author next year. And we couldn’t be more excited for them!!! We also couldn’t be more excited to read some of these outstanding novels. With that being said, here are the lists of books that we plan to read for the 2012 Debut Author Challenge:
Pams’s List:

1.) Cinder by Marissa Meyer– January 3rd, 2012


2.) Living Violet by Jaime Reed– January 2012
3.) Ditched: A Love Story by Robin Mellom–January 10th, 2012
4.) Black Boy, White School by Brian F. Walker–January 3rd, 2012
5.) Cracked by KM Walton-January 3rd, 2012
6.) Blood Born by Jamie Manning- April 24th, 2012
7.) What She Left Behind by Tracy Bilen– May 1st, 2012
8.) When You Were Mine by Rebecca Serle–May 1st, 2012
9.) The Other Life by Susan Winnacker- May 1st, 2012
10.) Something Like Normal by Trish Doller–June 19th, 2012
11.) The Classroom by Robin Mellom–June 19th, 2012
12.) All These Lives by Sarah Wylie–June 5th, 2012
13.) If I Lie by Corrine Jackson– September 4th, 2012
14.) Mila 2.0 by Debra Driza- Fall 2012
15.) Butter by Erin Lange–Fall 2012
16.) What’s Left of Me by Kat Zhang–Fall 2012
17.) Through to You by Emily Hainsworth- November 20th, 2012
Quita’s List:
1.) The Edumacation of Jay Baker by Jay Clark–January 31st, 2012
2.) Living Violet by Jaime Reed- January 2012
3.) The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth- February 7th, 2012
4.) The Nightmare Factory by Lucy Jones–Spring 2012
5.) Cross My Heart by Sasha Gould–March 13th, 2012
6.) Storybound by Marissa Burt–April 3rd, 2012
7.) Ripper by Amy Carol Reeves- April 8th, 2012
8.) Blood Born by Jamie Manning- April 24th, 2012
9.) What She Left Behind by Tracy Bilen– May 1st, 2012
10.) Hemlock by Kathleen Peacock- May 8th, 2012
11.) Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard–July 24th, 2012
12.) Between You and Me by Marisa Calin–August 7th, 2011
13.) The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy by Nikki Loftin–August 21st, 2012
14.) Venom by Fiona Paul–October 30th, 2012
15.) What’s Left of Me by Kat Zhang–Fall 2012
16.) Breathe by Sarah Crossan–Fall 2012
17.) Pivot Point by Kasie West–December 2012
That’s it! We sooooo can’t wait to start reading these books!!! We may read more or change our list as the year goes along. We shall see! In the meantime, are YOU going to participate? If so, which books are you really looking forward to reading??

Debut Author Challenge #12: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer…and a Future Giveaway!

Reading Song of the Day: “Coming Undone” by Korn

So, it took me a long time (what with NaNo, revising, and the day job), but I finally, FINALLY got to finish The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by the lovely Michelle Hodkin–the twelfth book in our 2011 Debut Author Challenge. And let me tell you, it was worth the wait. First, here is what Goodreads has to say:

Mara Dyer doesn’t think life can get any stranger than waking up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there.

It can.

She believes there must be more to the accident she can’t remember that killed her friends and left her mysteriously unharmed.

There is.

She doesn’t believe that after everything she’s been through, she can fall in love.

She’s wrong.

Ooh, intense. Want to read what I have to say? Well, it’s time to give you:

The Top Four Things You Need to Know About Mara Dyer


1. It doesn’t fit into just one genre. I didn’t really know what to expect when I first opened Mara Dyer. As you can tell from the Goodreads summary, the plot has been rather vague. And that cover? Beautiful, haunting–but I still had NO IDEA what it meant. One of the reasons why I thought Mara Dyer was so great is because she crossed boundaries. The love story was so raw and emotional that at times I was feeling like it was a romance. But then there were all of these shocking moments that made me jump–which had to make it a horror, right? But wait, there’s more–Mara also has to unravel a mystery, and the way the pieces all weave together make you think you might be reading a thriller. Again, I don’t know what category I’d place this novel. I just wish there was one for: PURE AWESOME.


2. Noah is, um, DROOL-WORTHY. Remember that romance I mentioned earlier? Well, this guy brings the heat. I know, I know–some of us may be a little tired of the whole “bad boy” image. But Noah is more than just the forbidden love interest. He’s dark and carefree and caring and sneaky and…just. JUST! As you can tell, he left me a bit tongue-tied.

3. The teens sound like teens. I tell you, Michelle Hodkin has a knack for witty dialogue. Not only did the rapport between Mara and her brothers feel natural, but the exchanges between Mara and Noah were just oozing with chemistry. Their lines meld with each other so well, and was so quickly paced, that I felt like I was reading something by Aaron Sorkin at times (just watch The Social Network then you’ll get what I’m talking about).


4. Umm, cliffhanger much? I’m usually not a fan of these, but the way this story ends…well, I don’t want to reveal anything, but I’ll definitely be purchasing the next volume the day it comes out.


Have I psyched you enough for this novel? If not, then check out these comparisons.

If You Like…


Books: Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk, Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane, Uninvited by Justine Musk…then you’ll like Mara Dyer


Movies: Heathers, Memento, High Tension…then you’ll like Mara Dyer

Have you all read Mara Dyer yet? What did you think? What other “trippy” YA novels would you recommend?

*BTW, followers that comment on this post as well as our LAST Debut Author Challenge post (which may be next Thursday), will be entered to win a $15 Amazon gift card. Just saying…. 🙂

RTW: The Best Book of September

Reading Song of the Day: “Forever” by Chris Brown
It’s WEDNESDAY! Another horrible week is almost over…atleast we got a one day break from our “baby” the puppy from hell early this week. Alas, the ladies of YA Highway are helping us think of happy things with Road Trip Wednesday! This week’s topic is:
What was the best book you read in September?
We’ve done minimal reading with it being the start of the school year, but Pam did manage to beta read a WIP. I FINALLY read and finished the book that I would’ve chosen even if I read a hundred books this month:
Forever by Maggie Stiefvater
Okay, so I read Shiver on a whim. The cover was pretty, people were buzzing about it, and I had to see how exactly this author pulled off having a human girl fall in love with a wolf. But, Oh. My. God. When Linger came out, I was hooked. Especially by the introduction of Cole (I LOVE Cole!) and the way that Stiefvater shifted between four POVs with ease. And the third and final book of the trilogy, Forever didn’t dissapoint. The story wraps up in a way that the reader is satisfied but is still itching for more. The characters are each given a purpose and the climax is breath stopping. Also, Stiefvater’s writing is pure genius!
What was the best book you read this month??

Debut Author Challenge # 11: The Near Witch…And Yep, A Giveaway!!!!


Reading Song of the Day: “Witchy Woman” by The Eagles

And the countdown commences…we are now TWO books away from being finished with the Debut Author Challenge 2011. It’s been so much fun, too–I think we might have to check out 2012 🙂

This time, I’ve read Victoria Schwab’s The Near Witch. Here is what Goodreads wants to tell ya:

The Near Witch is only an old story told to frighten children. If the wind calls at night, you must not listen. The wind is lonely, and always looking for company. And there are no strangers in the town of Near.
These are the truths that Lexi has heard all her life.

But when an actual stranger—a boy who seems to fade like smoke—appears outside her home on the moor at night, she knows that at least one of these sayings is no longer true.
The next night, the children of Near start disappearing from their beds, and the mysterious boy falls under suspicion. Still, he insists on helping Lexi search for them. Something tells her she can trust him.

As the hunt for the children intensifies, so does Lexi’s need to know—about the witch that just might be more than a bedtime story, about the wind that seems to speak through the walls at night, and about the history of this nameless boy.

Part fairy tale, part love story, Victoria Schwab’s debut novel is entirely original yet achingly familiar: a song you heard long ago, a whisper carried by the wind, and a dream you won’t soon forget.

If that’s not enough to make you wanna read it, then maybe this will help:

The Top Four Things You Need to Know About The Near Witch:

1. Lexi is strong but not too rough: She can hunt and track b/c her father taught her how, she knows if you want to get a tough boy off your back just kick him in the family jewels, and she will do anything to protect her family. But she also is soft enough to open her heart to a stranger. She embodies the perfect balance of a female protag.

2. The town of Near comes alive: Schwab is a BEAUTIFUL writer. There is not one character, one house, one branch that doesn’t pop out of the pages. When you’re reading this novel you’ll find yourself immersed in the moor, the wind, and the entire town of Near.

3. The characters are all distinct: There are no stereotypes in Near. Even witch sisters who might appear to be alike have their distinct ways of speaking and their own mannerisms. The children of Near have their own quirks, too. There is no way that you’ll get any of the townspeople confused–not even the three old men who serve on The Council.

4. The plots are twistier than a pretzel: As the Goodreads plot suggests, The Near Witch is part fairy tale. The story of witches and children goes back to Hansel and Gretel, but this book ain’t your normal fairy tale. You’ll find yourself going “wha…?” or “wait, but I thought this was happening…” Even when you think you know what’s coming–you don’t.

You wanna win this book, don’t cha? Well…keep reading and find out how!

If you like…

Books: Sweetly by Jackson Pearce, Ash by Malinda Lo, or The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare… then you’ll like The Near Witch.

Movies: The Brothers Grimm, Beastly, or Red Riding Hood …then you’ll like The Near Witch.

Okay, so you want to win a gently used copy of The Near Witch?? Well, all you have to do is leave a comment with your e-mail address, be a follower of this blog, and live in the U.S. (sorry but we’re writers/educators which equals broke!) by Tuesday September 27th, 2011 at midnight EST. We’ll announce the winner Thursday September 29th 🙂 Hope you all enter!

Oh…and we have a winner to announce, don’t we??? The winner of our last giveaway, Carrie Harris’ Bad Taste in Boys , is…
Georgia Summers!!!

YAY!!! Look out for an e-mail from us today 😀