Category Archives: Young Adult
I’m so pleased to welcome Tonya Hurley to the blog today to introduce Lucy from Precious Blood. (Hey, that’s my name too!) There’s also a very cool giveaway that you won’t want to miss.
Saints and Sinners Tour – Post 5
By Tonya Hurley
During my research for Precious Blood, it became clear to me that many of the saint stories of the ancient past are some of the earliest YA stories we have, pious romances full of teenage rebellion, gruesome death and supernatural love – albeit of a particular kind. These girls, these martyrs, have been revered for centuries. There is no fifteen minutes of fleeting fame in their cases, not only are they household names in many instances, but they are worshipped. Their legends handed down from generation to generation. Schools and churches stand in their names. They are a part of our everyday lives in some way or another. In a very deep way, one that will never have their names on a denim line on the discount rack at Kmart. The legend of Saint Lucy is a perfect example of this.
LUCY of THE BLESSED Trilogy
In Precious Blood, Lucy Ambrose is a social climbing scenster on the edge and on a mission. Brash, vain and self-centered, Lucy pursues fame and being seen as a career move, tipping off columnists and photographers, walking red carpets citywide for the latest movie premiere, fashion show or product launch, monetizing her visibility with little regard to who she steps on or over in the process. She dresses to kill and has an attitude to match. Lucy’s sharp elbows and sharper tongue are survival skills she has developed to succeed in the high stakes celebrity shark tank. She finds herself feeling increasingly guilty as she sinks in the flood of gossip and lies she has unleashed. Her namesake is Saint Lucy, the patron saint of vision, and Lucy Ambrose is all about looks – her own and the ones she craves from others.
Today the Saints and Sinner tour also stops by All Things Urban Fantasy to introduce the other Lucy!
Precious Blood by Tonya Hurley is new to paperback from Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers:
What if martyrs and saints lived among us? And what if you were told you were one of them?
Meet Agnes, Cecilia, and Lucy. Three lost girls, each searching for something. But what they find is Beyond Belief.
The story begins in PRECIOUS BLOOD and continues in PASSIONARIES, available 1/7/14.
About the Author
Tonya Hurley is the New York Times best-selling author of the highly acclaimed “ghostgirl“ book series; creator, writer and producer of animated and live action hit television series; writer and director of independent films; writer and director of commercials for Playstation, Gameboy and Warner Home Video; and creator of groundbreaking videogames. Her new young adult trilogy, THE BLESSED, begins with Precious Blood.
Praise for Precious Blood:
“Our new favorite dark, sexy rock-n-roll thriller.” (SugarScape.com)
“Intriguing premise, fiery dialogue, and digs about celebrity-obsessed culture that moves at the speed of Twitter…” (Publishers Weekly)
“…Hurley brings her deadpan wit and blackest humor to the first tale in this trilogy about spirituality, sacrifice and supernatural romance.” (MTV Hollywood Crush)
One (1) winner will receive:
· Earbuds (courtesy of Cecilia, Patron Saint of Music)
· Sunglasses (courtesy of Lucy, Patron Saint of Sight)
· Essie Chastity Nail Polish (courtesy of Agnes, Patron Saint of Chastity)
· Copy of Precious Blood
· AND a Lucy t-shirt
Giveaway open to U.S. addresses only.
Prizing & samples courtesy of Simon & Schuster.
You must be at least 13 years old to enter and have a U.S. address.
Winner will be chosen through Random.org on July 3.
To enter the giveaway, please fill out the form:
Visit Tonya and find out more about Precious Blood:
Follow along with all the stops on the Saints and Sinners Blog Tour:
Wednesday, June 19: Meet Lucy the girl at The Reading Date and Lucy the Saint at All Things Urban Fantasy.
Friday, June 21: In Bed With Books has a Q&A with Tonya.
Book: The Secret Ingredient by Stewart Lewis, Delacorte/Random House, On Sale Now
Book Info: Young Adult Contemporary, Review copy provided by the publisher, Available in HC 256 pages
Rating: 4 / 5 Stars
The Secret Ingredient is a sweet quiet read about family, love, and finding that secret ingredient that holds it all together. Olivia is a promising young chef who lives in the Silverlake district of Los Angeles with her two adoring dads. But she can’t help but wonder about her birth mom. A chance meeting with a psychic and the discovery of a vintage cookbook help bring her closer to discovering the secrets of the past.
I like to cook so I’m always intrigued when food is woven into the narrative of the story. Olivia is still in high school, but her dad Bell owns the restaurant FOOD and she gets to take over the kitchen on Saturday nights. Ollie is very creative with her recipes and has learned to put her own signature stamp on her dishes. The restaurant is in financial trouble though, so Olivia takes a job at a casting agency to help out.
Olivia loves her dad’s but at times she feels that she’s missing out by not having a mom. For instance, she reflects back on getting her first period and having her dad Enrique taking her to the neighbor lady for assistance. She wouldn’t change her situation for the world but she naturally is curious about her birth mom. Ollie’s British friend Lola is her partner in crime in this adventure, and she’s spurred on by a psychic’s uncanny reading in an elevator, and the story-within-a-story found in a used cookbook.
With the names Lola and Bell, and Ollie’s two dads I couldn’t help but think of another great read, Lola and The Boy Next Door. And in fact, I think Stephanie Perkins fans will like this one since it has a city setting, family theme, and romance. The romance doesn’t take center stage in this book, but there is a boy named Theo in Olivia’s life. The love story angle wasn’t my favorite part, though, and I think I preferred Ollie’s more introspective moments in the kitchen.
This was my first experience with Stewart Lewis’ writing. He’s also a singer-songwriter and wrote You Have Seven Messages. Lewis does a nice job with the female POV, and I forgot that the author was male actually. I liked that the characters are a little quirky and creative, and that the workplace and city settings are used to full advantage. The story is light and engaging and held my interest. Since food is such a central theme, it would be great if recipes were included too, but maybe they are in the finished copy.
The Secret Ingredient is a cute, lazy day summer coming-of-age story, and I’m interested in reading more from this author. There’s actually an indie movie in the works, and the setting was changed to Birmingham, Alabama. Read more about it here.
- The Secret Ingredient by Stewart Lewis: Review and Giveaway (Sponsored) (rainydayramblings.com)
- Review: The Secret Ingredient by Stewart Lewis (booksetceterablog.wordpress.com)
Amazon has a nice kindle book sale going on now: Summer Sun, Reading Fun. You’ve probably seen these already, but just in case these are the books that caught my eye.
Title links below take you directly to the Amazon kindle page. Prices are accurate as of today but could go up anytime so hurry to snag these deals!
Obsession by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Painted Faces by L.H. Cosway
Sanctum by Sarah Fine
The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: The Mysterious Howling by Maryrose Wood
Mind Games by Kiersten White
The Trouble With Flirting by Claire LaZebnick
Stupid Fast by Geoff Herbach
Summer of Skinny Dipping by Amanda Howells
Liar Society by Lisa Roecker and Laura Roecker
Stealing Parker by Miranda Kenneally
The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare
Article 5 by Kristen Simmons
Also Known As by Robin Benway
The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake
Bossypants by Tina Fey
Partials by Dan Wells
Mila 2.0 by Debra Driza
Going Vintage by Lindsey Leavitt
The Carrie Diaries by Candace Bushnell
Stung by Bethany Wiggins
Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins
Rules of Attraction by Simone Elkeles
Something Like Normal by Trish Doller
The Last Princess by Galaxy Craze
Glitch by Heather Anastasiu
Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers
Summer of Fear by Lois Duncan
Beta by Rachel Cohn
False Memory by Dan Krokos
Butter by Erin Jade Lange
Me, Him, Them, and It by Caela Carter
Doomed by Tracy Deebs
Hysteria by Megan Miranda
Bad Girls Don’t Die by Katie Alender
Boy21 by Matthew Quick
In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters
Crewel by Gennifer Albin
Welcome, Caller, This is Chloe by Shelley Coriell
Bruised by Sarah Skilton
Happy summer reading!
Audiobook: The Lucy Variations by Sara Zarr, published by Hachette Audio, May 7, 2013
Book Info: YA contemporary, audiobook purchased via Audible and hardcover won from DEBtastic Reads. Audiobook run time: 8 hrs, 20 mins. Read by: Sara Zarr. Hardcover is 304 pages from Little, Brown
Rating: 4 / 5 Stars
The Lucy Variations called out to me for a couple reasons. Obviously I share my name with the title character, but I can also relate to her struggles with her musician identity very much. I have never shared this with you guys but I played the flute for about 13 years. Orchestra, band, rehearsals, daily practices, the works. I wasn’t a famous child prodigy of course like book-Lucy but it did take up a lot of my free time, and yeah, sometimes I resented it, even though I loved the music too.
Sara Zarr’s How To Save a Life is one of my favorite books and I’m slowly making my way through her catalog. I was lucky enough to win a signed copy of The Lucy Variations from Debbi @ DEBtastic Reads, and I also have a copy of the audiobook so I alternated between reading and listening.
In The Lucy Variations, sixteen-year-old piano virtuoso Lucy walks out on an important competition in Prague and abruptly quits playing altogether. Her family keeps a family tragedy secret from her so she doesn’t lose focus on the competition, and this is the last straw for Lucy. Her grandfather and mother totally micro-manage her career and she’s had enough. Eight months later, Lucy hasn’t played a note and now she’s passed the piano bench on to her younger brother Gus. When Gus’s elderly tutor dies during a piano lesson, a new instructor named Will is brought in.
Lucy didn’t think her days of playing the piano were over exactly but since her controlling grandfather washed his hands of her she feels cut off from the piano. Now she has time to explore San Francisco with her friends, hang out with Gus, and decide what else she wants to do with her life. The new piano tutor Will is familiar with Lucy’s career and wants to help her rediscover her love for music on her own terms. And things get a little messy between them.
The Beck-Moreau family is very wealthy and Lucy has a lot of options available to her. I felt for her that it was all or nothing with the piano and I wanted her to get her mojo back. But on the other hand, she’s a little infuriating at times. She can be a pretty bad friend, and her morals are sketchy as well. I cut her some slack due to her horrible parental role models- her grandfather is truly awful and her parents don’t do anything about it. Her mother even gives her the third degree about the elderly piano teachers death as if she was somehow to blame. So in terms of the characters it wasn’t always easy to connect though the story is compelling.
The author, Sara Zarr herself, narrates the audiobook. She’s actually read a few of her books though this is the first one I’ve listened to. One thing that’s very cool about the audiobook production is that short snippets of music are included in the story. So when Lucy is talking about performing a piece of music, the piano parts are overlaid in the story. I get nervous when authors narrate their books since usually their forte is writing, not voice acting. But on the other hand, they know the story inside and out so sometimes it works out. Zarr’s reading is low-key and her voice is pleasant to listen to. She’s subtle with the character voices, but I was actually impressed with how much personality she puts into the characters without overdoing it. She makes the characters come alive but doesn’t sound unnatural doing it, so kudos to Zarr. I think I’ll check out her narration on Story of a Girl next.
The hardcover is really pretty and the different parts of the book are labeled with musical terms like Tempo Regato, and Con Brio, Con Fuoco, as well as their translations. Also, when there are flashbacks in the book they are clearly marked as Intermezzo chapters. This transition is easier to follow in the book than the audiobook. The book is also artfully decorated with musical notes to carry the theme throughout. I was glad to have the book to refer to when I was listening.
I think if you have an interest in contemporary YA with a musical theme you’ll especially appreciate this book. I didn’t love it as much as How to Save a Life, though it did help me work through my own feelings about my musician past and I could relate to Lucy’s struggle for balance.
Check out some behind-the-scenes pictures and background info on the audiobook production of The Lucy Variations from Sara Zarr here.
Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature from The Broke and the Bookish. This week we’re counting down our Top Ten Beach Reads. I’d probably waterproof my kindle and bring that to the beach for the most reading options, but it’s fun to narrow it down to ten choices. Some of these are recent favorites and some I hope to read under the sun this summer.
Hit the beach with these books:
1. The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen - Sarah Dessen books and the beach go together like a lock and key (another Dessen book!) All the books take place in the beach town Colby and it’s fun to spot the characters from previous books.
2. Nantucket Blue by Leila Howland – This debut novel is about family, love and friendship and is more of a heavier summer read, but it also has a picturesque setting.
4. Faking It by Cora Carmack – This series is so witty, engaging, and romantic. I think I liked the sequel/companion book Faking It better than the first book Losing It, though both would make excellent beach reading material.
5. A Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams – Shake it up with a little historical adult fiction. This book is set in 1931 and 1938 in Seaview, Rhode Island and is about friendships, secrets and love. I’m doing the audio of this one, which I guess might give you a sunburn if you fall asleep while listening in the sand.
6. Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight – This summer’s Gone Girl? If it is I need to set aside the time to read it straight through, since I couldn’t put down Gone Girl. It sounds very twisty turny and mysterious to me.
7. Down London Road by Samantha Young - Like Faking It above, I think I liked this sequel even better than the original (On Dublin Street), but both are fantastic. Well-written romances, great setting and characters, good book boyfriends, and fast reads.
8.The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp – The Spectacular Now movie is coming out in August, and I hope to sneak in the book first. Gosh, there’s so many book adaptations coming out- I hope this one is as good as it looks!
9. Dirty Little Secret by Jennifer Echols – If you’re going through Nashville withdrawal like I am, maybe this country music- themed romance will distract you. Like Sarah Dessen, Jennifer Echols books go with the beach like the moon and the stars.
10. Tidal by Emily Snow – I read this one back when it was first self-published but now it has a shiny new Touchstone paperback release. This New Adult romance is set in Hawaii and Los Angeles and features a romance between a troubled Hollywood actress and her Australian surfing instructor. If that doesn’t scream beach read I don’t know what does.
What books will you be bringing to the beach?
Audiobook: Out of This Place by Emma Cameron, published by Candlewick on Brilliance Audio, May 14, 2013
Book Info: YA contemporary verse novel, purchased via Audible, and received for review via NetGalley. Run time: 3 hrs, 17 mins. Read by: Candice Moll, Leonardo Nam, and David Atlas. Also available in HC from Candlewick.
Rating: 4 / 5 Stars
Out of This Place was originally released last year under the title Cinnamon Rain by Australian author Emma Cameron. I’m a fan of verse novels so was so excited to see this one was getting a US release. This book is short but packs an emotional punch, and the verse format makes the story that much more meaningful. Out of This Place chronicles the tale of three high school teens: Luke, Casey, and Bongo. All three have difficulties at home and long for a better future.
The book has three parts, with Luke, Casey and Bongo sharing their stories in turn. It’s interesting reading about the characters through one person’s eyes and then gleaning more insight into the others when it’s their turn to share. The trio is in Year 10 in school, which I think is the same as sophomore year in the US. We follow them in their post high school years so you could almost consider this new adult I guess.
Luke kicks off the book and right away we learn about his crush on Casey. Casey’s father is really tough on her and Luke worries about her home situation. He also looks out for Bongo, who self-medicates to get through his difficult family life. Casey has the middle story. She thinks she was an unwanted child and that her dad still resents her. She wants something more out of life, and knows she has to make it happen for herself. Bongo also has a thing for Casey, and he wants to get his little brother back from foster care. He seems like he has the toughest uphill battle to climb.
I liked the multi POV and how it was used to get us up to speed on all the characters lives. It also goes to show that we don’t know everything there is to know about our good friends, because things are not always what they seem on the outside.
One of the messages that spoke to me was the idea of shaping your own family, letting people in, and accepting help. The friendships formed in the book really made a difference in their lives.
I picked up the audiobook of Out of This Place, which is maybe an unconventional choice for a novel in verse. I was sold on the audio though when I saw that there were three separate narrators for each character’s part. Also, the narrators are Australian and since the book is set there I thought that would give just the right flavor to the story. I also have a review copy of the book so I would refer to it as well from time to time to see the verse on the page. The narrators do a good job of making you feel the characters emotions, but perhaps some of the verse feeling wasn’t as strong as it is in print. I thought Casey’s part was where the verse shined through the most, interestingly. I did think I understood the slang a little better with Australian narrators and it did bring the setting more to life. Many verse novels are fast reads, and in fact this audiobook is just over three hours long, but it manages to convey quite a powerful story in that time.
I can see why the title was changed from Cinnamon Rain, but I think that title was kind of perfect as well. Here is a verse sample from the book that gives some context to the original (and new) title.
“I want out of this place.
With no reminders.”
“ It stings -
sulphur tears in cinnamon rain.”
This is a really fast read that I think fans of verse novels and contemporary YA will enjoy. Hope you seek this one out!