Talking Fandoms and “Worse” with Lily Anderson! *Guest Post*

The Only Thing Worse than Me is You guest post with Lily Anderson!

I’m SO excited to have Lily Anderson here today to talk about her new book The Only Thing Worse Than Me is You.

 Before I go further, I learned in her bio that she is an elementary librarian, so from one school librarian to another: THANK YOU for all you do to promote reading to kids!

The book is incredibly fun with it’s mention of different fandoms and nerd talk, so I loved reading it because it was JUST my language! The main character, Trixie, is just trying work hard to beat a classmate in rank who she has had a long-standing feud with, but she runs into a rollercoaster of a journey along the way.

Lily was kind enough to talk some about how she formed Trixie’s character and the  comparisons between her and the character.

Enjoy and be on the lookout for her book as it just released on the 17th!

-Melanie

Lily Anderson on Trixie and Fandoms:

Trixie Watson and I disagree about Spider-Man. Trixie loves Spider-Man in every incarnation. She’ll read anything that takes place in the Spider-Verse (except for Spider-Ham comics—even her love has its limits). She has Spider-Man stationery and Spider-Man t-shirts and Spider-Man pajamas and Spider-Man underpants. She’s seen every Spider-Man movie and every episode of every Spider-Man cartoon made in this century.

I have not. I really like Miles Morales’ Spider-Man and I’m down with Spider-Gwen, but I really, truly don’t care about Peter Parker. In fact, my favorite comic book character is Peter Parker’s opposite—Deadpool. (Not Ryan Reynolds, ya’ll. Deadpool.) ***PREACH…LOVE Deadpool!***

 

I think it’s important to disagree with your main character. As a writer, I always want to have some key differences between myself and my book’s narrator because those differences make me look closer at why they are the way they are. Trixie’s love of Peter Parker directly correlates to the similarities in their world view—quipping brunette nerds, high school outcasts, great power and great responsibility and all that.

 

There are a lot of things that Trixie and I agree on: the Whedonverse, Doctor Who, BBC’s Sherlock, the genius of Douglas Adams—but we have to come at those things from different perspectives because we’ve led very different lives. Even in the things we agree on, I had to figure out why she would like it, rather than just assigning her things that I already knew about. And in figuring out why she liked something, I started to get a fuller picture as to who she was as a person.

The Only Thing Worse Than Me Is You

Hope you’ve enjoyed learning more about Trixie…now go pick up the book and read her story!

 

Those Summer days and Summer Nights: Interview with Stephanie Perkins

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Summer is upon us, friends!

How fun is this .GIF of the Summer Days and Summer Nights cover? I love that!

I really enjoyed Stephanie Perkins first anthology My True Love Gave to Me, so I’m excited to share a little from Stephanie about this new book.

I’ve had the pleasure to meet Stephanie twice and she is SO sweet. I like her books and also enjoy her anthologies, so be on the lookout for this one because there is surely an author that you like!

-Melanie


Interview:

This is the second anthology you’ve edited. What was the inspiration? What did you give your contributing authors in the way of guidance or prompting as they began their stories?

 

The inspiration for the second anthology was . . . the first anthology. Working with my friends was such a joy, and I relished the opportunity to work with eleven new authors. All of them had so much to teach me both as an author and an editor. I’m always looking for opportunities to become better at my craft. Pulling apart these stories, inspecting their seams, digging in deeper—it’s a brilliant way to learn new tricks. And I’m a good editor, so I think/hope that my work was helpful for them, too.

I gave the authors only three guidelines: Their story had to take place during the summer, romantic love had to be involved, and—no matter how dark the situation got—it had to end on a note of hope.

 

Why did you decide to bring these particular authors together for this anthology?

I reached out to authors who are writing stories that I love. All of them have strong voices and—whether or not they primarily write romance—a kind and romantic heart.

The crazy and fantastic thing is that there are literally dozens of other YA authors who also fit this description. There are so many talented, inspiring writers in this industry! I had to make some tough decisions, and a lot of it just came down to keeping a balance between the genres.

 

How does editing a short story collection compare to writing a full-length novel? Did your process as an author influence your process as an editor?

It’s easier. A lot easier. I only had to come up with original content for 1/12th of the 400 pages! My writing process is slow and generally agonizing, so . . . yeah. It’s just not even close.

 

But it’s a huge part of the reason why I love to edit. I’m a slow drafter, and I prefer the tinkering, shimmering stages of editing and revising. It’s where a good story becomes great. My nitpicky brain loves working on that level—finding a better word, a tighter theme, a more developed character, a more textured setting. And I absolutely love helping other authors to find their own deeper, truer stories.

 

I think most authors become a better editor as they become a better writer. I’m the opposite. I started off with stronger editorial skills, and, as they improve, they’re helping me to become a better writer.

 

But, being an author, I will say that when I’m wearing my editorial hat, I heap a LOT of praise onto the other authors. I leave tons of notes for them in the margins and mark every single passage or phrase that I love. Writing is difficult work, and I always appreciate it when my own editors take the time to mark their favorite bits. Praise also shows me how to revise my work! It teaches me which parts are the good parts! And that’s revising in a nutshell: adding more good parts, removing the bad parts.

 

How did you choose what stories to include in this anthology?

 

I asked eleven other authors to contribute. Whatever story they turned in was the story that I edited, and they revised. I trusted that they would know their own best idea.

 

What can we expect to see from you next? Are there any plans of releasing a new full-length novel soon?

 

My next novel is a teen slasher, which hopefully (if I finish it on time!) will be published next year. I’m having such a blast writing in the horror genre. And it’s honestly not as big of a departure as it seems. There’s still an attractive boy, an intriguing setting, and quippy friends. It just also contains a lot of murder.

Waiting on Wednesday: You Know Me Well

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Summary:

Who knows you well? Your best friend? Your boyfriend or girlfriend? A stranger you meet on a crazy night? No one, really?

Mark and Kate have sat next to each other for an entire year, but have never spoken. For whatever reason, their paths outside of class have never crossed.

That is until Kate spots Mark miles away from home, out in the city for a wild, unexpected night. Kate is lost, having just run away from a chance to finally meet the girl she has been in love with from afar. Mark, meanwhile, is in love with his best friend Ryan, who may or may not feel the same way.

When Kate and Mark meet up, little do they know how important they will become to each other — and how, in a very short time, they will know each other better than any of the people who are supposed to know them more.

A book told in alternating points of view by Nina LaCour, the award-winning author of Hold Still and The Disenchantments, and David Levithan, the best-selling author of Every Day and co-author of Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist (with Rachel Cohn) and Will Grayson, Will Grayson (with John Green), You Know Me Well is a deeply honest story about navigating the joys and heartaches of first love, one truth at a time.

My Thoughts:

JUNE 7!

I’m so excited for this book. I’m excited anytime there is new David Levithan material.

I had the opportunity to meet David last year and he briefly mentioned this book and I’ve been looking forward to it since then.

Plus, alternating point of views are always fun to me!

Be on the lookout for a review next month!

-Melanie

Making Reading More Fun!

Ask any of my close friends and family and they’ll tell you that I have the shortest attention span of anyone they know.

In fact, it often makes me struggle to finish books in a timely manner because I JUST CAN’T FOCUS.

Well…Friday I had an idea that made reading much easier to focus on.

I wrote notes to the next reader.

No, not IN the book, I put them on sticky notes…I hate writing on the actual pages- negative.

Last year at RT convention, my friend who went with me was SO EXCITED about Kasie West. I’d never read any of her books, but she assured me that I would like her books.

As luck would have it- I ended up with a copy of one of her books from the day and got to meet her and get it signed at the same party.

…That conference was a year ago yesterday and I still haven’t gotten around to reading that book.

So I kept seeing that Kasie has a new book coming out, PS I Like You. I requested it from Scholastic awhile back and got an ARC.

I promised that friend she could read it since she’s who told me about Kasie and decided to start it last Friday. I decided to write the notes originally just because it was my first Kasie West book and I knew she’d think it was funny.

 I finished and got the book to her Saturday and earlier I got a notification on Instagram that she has finished and added notes.

It looks like this  now with many more notes not hanging out of the sides where they are visible.

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This was such a FUN way to pay attention to what I was reading and still also be able to share my thoughts with the next reader as they read it.

Plus, I just find it hilarious that she added her own notes too!

A review is coming for this book SOON, but if you’re a Kasie West fan, or even just love a cute contemporary romance, order it ASAP!

-M

Now what can I decorate with sticky notes next…

Monday Musings: It happened again.

Welp. I hit another lull in books.

I’m loving everything I’m reading, but I just can’t sit down and focus.

SO- what are some topics that I could talk about for discussion? I don’t want to just not post!

Tell me what you want to hear!

In other news, I zoomed through a GREAT book over the weekend that I’m excited to talk about soon!

Even then, my attention kept wandering.

I won’t get too upset over this pause in my reading with the end of the school year being here and all. I’ll soon have TONS of time to read!

But really…any and all suggestions are welcome!

-Melanie

ALSO!!! Some fun (I hope?) changes are in the works. I was hoping to have them ready by June 1, but it’s looking like it *MIGHT* have to be July. We’ll see 🙂

Blog Tour: Hippopotamister by John Patrick Green

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Summary:

The zoo isn’t what it used to be. It’s run-down and falling apart. Hippo hardly ever gets any visitors. So he decides to set off for the outside with his friend Red Panda. To make it in the human world, Hippo will have to become a Hippopotamister: he’ll have to act like a human, get a job, and wear a hat as a disguise. He’s a good employee, whether he’s a construction worker, a hair stylist, or a sous chef. But what he really needs is a job where he can be himself.

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My Thoughts:

I was SO excited to be offered Hippopotamister!

It is adorable and teaches SUCH a good lesson to readers to be yourself.

The artwork is adorable, and the book is actually longer than I anticipated, so it would be great to ease your younger readers into reading “bigger” books because I know that kids sometimes get intimidated by size even though they may be perfectly capable of reading beyond picture books.

Further still, this is a wonderful introduction to graphic novels! It would make for a fun lesson in a classroom on how to read graphic novels while still teaching a wonderful character ed lesson.

Beyond character education, teachers and librarians (or parents!) can use Hippo and Red Panda’s adventures to teach about different animals and jobs.

There are so many things that this book could be used for in different lesson, but overall…it is FUN!

Hippopotamister released Tuesday, so go pick up a copy now for a child that you know- they will love it!

-Melanie

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Review: The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner

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Summary:

“The Serpent King is a book you won’t be able to resist or forget. The Southern boy in me savored every syllable and the reader in me fell in love with every page.” —John Corey Whaley, National Book Award finalist and Printz Award winner

Dill has had to wrestle with vipers his whole life—at home, as the only son of a Pentecostal minister who urges him to handle poisonous rattlesnakes, and at school, where he faces down bullies who target him for his father’s extreme faith and very public fall from grace.

He and his fellow outcast friends must try to make it through their senior year of high school without letting the small-town culture destroy their creative spirits and sense of self. Graduation will lead to new beginnings for Lydia, whose edgy fashion blog is her ticket out of their rural Tennessee town. And Travis is content where he is thanks to his obsession with an epic book series and the fangirl turning his reality into real-life fantasy.

Their diverging paths could mean the end of their friendship. But not before Dill confronts his dark legacy to attempt to find a way into the light of a future worth living.


My Thoughts:

First off—I did really enjoy Serpent King!

Second—I feel like the hype got me way too excited.

Don’t get me wrong, it was great–but I don’t think it’s what I thought it was going to be.

I kept hearing people say they were sobbing and I just didn’t have that reaction at all.

Sure. There was a time or two that hurt my heart, but nothing that full on major.

However…it was still great! Don’t get me wrong there! I’m looking forward to what Zentner releases next because I do think he’ll do some great things.

This one did have the vibe of a debut novel to me. That’s hard to explain really without it sounding bad, but it does.

But the MOST IMPORTANT THING!!!

Are you ready?

These character ARE relatable. I think that’s WHY I didn’t have a “sobbing” reaction. I felt like the three characters actually could be people that I know. That completely made the book for me! Amazing characters and setting!

The only thing I wish is that Dill’s family would’ve had a more concrete resolution. I have questions about what happened next. I honestly want MORE! Again…these characters were AMAZING!

I do suggest Serpent King, especially if you’re in the mood for a contemporary.

Let me know what you think if you’ve read it!

-Melanie

Review: Summer of Sloane by Erin L. Schneider

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Summary:

Warm Hawaiian sun. Lazy beach days. Flirty texts with her boyfriend back in Seattle.

These are the things seventeen-year-old Sloane McIntyre pictured when she imagined the summer she’d be spending at her mom’s home in Hawaii with her twin brother, Penn. Instead, after learning an unthinkable secret about her boyfriend, Tyler, and best friend, Mick, all she has is a fractured hand and a completely shattered heart.

Once she arrives in Honolulu, though, Sloane hopes that Hawaii might just be the escape she needs. With beach bonfires, old friends, exotic food, and the wonders of a waterproof cast, there’s no reason Sloane shouldn’t enjoy her summer. And when she meets Finn McAllister, the handsome son of a hotel magnate who doesn’t always play by the rules, she knows he’s the perfect distraction from everything that’s so wrong back home.

But it turns out a measly ocean isn’t nearly enough to stop all the emails, texts, and voicemails from her ex-boyfriend and ex-best friend, desperate to explain away their betrayal. And as her casual connection with Finn grows deeper, Sloane’s carefree summer might not be as easy to come by as she’d hoped. Weighing years of history with Mick and Tyler against their deception, and the delicate possibility of new love, Sloane must decide when to forgive, and when to live for herself.


My Thoughts:

I got an arc of this from Netgalley and actually let it sit on my kindle for several months before I gave it a try and I hate that I let it sit for so long.

Summer of Sloane just released on Tuesday and I’m SO excited about this book!

Sloane was EXACTLY what I needed when I read it!

At the time, I was in a bit of a reading slump, but decided to give it a try and ended up flying through it.

It has the perfect atmosphere to get you in the summertime mood and is an excellent late spring read.

Sloane had tons of drama going on in her life, but she was determined to spend time on herself rather than wallow in what happened to her.

That is exactly the message that teens need!

I loved seeing how she responded to different instances that happened and was always cheering her on.

Aside from Sloane and her main storyline, I even found myself wanting  more from the side characters and that isn’t something that happens often for me, but everyone had such interesting things going on.

If you’re in the mood for a fun, contemporary to get ready for Summer then Summer of Sloane is exactly what you need to pick up!

What summery reads are your go-to?

-Melanie

Waiting on Wednesday: Smash and Grab by Amy Christene Parker

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Summary:

Ocean’s Eleven meets the star-crossed lovers of West Side Story. Grab some popcorn and get ready for an adrenaline-filled heist!

LEXI is a rich girl who loves a good rush. Whether it’s motorcycle racing or BASE jumping off a building in downtown Los Angeles, the only times she feels alive are when she and her friends are executing one of their dares. After her father’s arrest, Lexi doesn’t think twice about going undercover at his bank to steal the evidence that might clear his name. She enlists her hacker brother and her daredevil friends to plan a clever heist.

CHRISTIAN is a boy from the wrong side of the tracks. The local gang has blackmailed him and his friends into robbing banks, and he is desperate for a way out. When the boss promises that one really big job will be the last he ever has to do, Christian jumps at the chance for freedom. In fact, he’s just met a girl at the bank who might even prove useful. . . .

Two heists. One score. The only thing standing in their way is each other.

Told in alternating points of view, this caper is full of romance and fast-paced fun. Hand to fans of Perfect Chemistry, The Conspiracy of Us, and Heist Society.

Why:

I absolutely LOVED Parker’s Gated books a couple years back. I still recommend it to people all the time actually. So when I hard about this one I was naturally intrigued!

This seems like it’ll have a good Romeo and Juliet vibe going to it and that is always a fun time in books. Plus, Amy is just a fun writer as it is.

I can’t wait to read this! While you wait, pick up a copy of Gated and give it a try!

-Melanie

Blog Tour: The Star-Touched Queen

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Released last week from St. Martin’s Griffin Teen, The Star Touched Queen is an exciting and beautifully written story that I can’t suggest enough.

See the excerpt below to get a feel for the novel and then go get a copy today!


Excerpt:

The archives were cut like honeycombs and golden light clung to them, dousing every tome, painting, treatise and poem the soft gold of ghee freshly skimmed from boiling butter. I was only allowed to visit once a week—to meet with my weekly tutor before I inevitably scared him away. Every time I left the archival room, my arms brimmed with parchment paper. I loved the feeling of discovery, of not knowing how much I wanted something until I had discovered its absence. The week before, I had lost myself in the folktales of Bharata. Stories of elephants who spun clouds, shaking tremors loose from ancient trunks gnarled with the rime of lost cyclones, whirlwinds and thunderstorms. Myths of frank- eyed naga women twisting serpentine, fl ashing smiles full of uncut gemstones. Legends of a world beneath, above, beside the one I knew— where trees bore edible gems and no one would think twice about a girl with dark skin and a darker horoscope. I wanted it to be real so badly that sometimes I thought I could see the Otherworld. Sometimes, if I closed my eyes and pressed my toes into the ground, I could almost sense them sinking into the loam of some other land, a dream demesne where the sky cleaved in two and the earth was sutured with a magic that could heal hearts, mend bones, change lives. It was a dream I didn’t want to part with, but I had to settle for what magic I could create on my own. I could read more. Learn more. Make new dreams. But the best part wasn’t hoarding those wishes to myself. It was sharing every thing I learned with Gauri, my half- sister. She was the only one I couldn’t scare away . . . the only one I didn’t want to. Thinking of Gauri always made me smile. But as soon as I caught sight of my tutor of the week, the smile dis appeared. He stood between two pillars of the archive section marking the kingdom’s history. Beyond the sheer number of things to read in the archive room, what I loved most was its ceiling. It was empty, wide enough to crawl through and conveniently linked to my father’s inner sanctum. The tutor, as luck would have it, stood directly below my hiding spot. At least Father’s announcement hadn’t started. The courtiers still murmured and the footfall of tardiness fell on my ears like music. But if I was ever going to get to hear that meeting, I had to get rid of the tutor first. “Punctuality is a prize among women,” said the tutor. I bit back a cringe. His voice was sticky. The words drawn out like they would morph into a noose and slip around you in the dark. I stepped back, only to see his eyes sharpen into a glare. He was heavyset and tall. Soft- rounded jowls faded into a nonchin and thick neck. Greasy black eyes dragged across my body. In the past, my tutors had all been the same— a little doughy, a little nervous. Always superstitious. This new tutor held my gaze evenly. That was unexpected. None of my other tutors had ever met my eye. Sometimes the tutors sidled against the dark of the archival chambers, hands trembling as they pushed a set of notes toward me. History lessons, they said. Why did they always start with history? Show me a dream unrealized. Don’t show me unchangeable paths. The tutor cleared his throat. “I have no intention to teach you history or letters or speech. I intend to teach you silence. Stillness.” This time I didn’t even try to hide my scowl. I did not like this replacement. Tutors generally left me alone. I never had to raise my voice. I never had to scowl. I didn’t even need words. What scared them most was much simpler and sweeter than that— a smile. The moment I smiled— not a real one, of course, but a slow, crocodile reveal of teeth and a practiced manic gleam— the tutor would make an excuse, edge along the wall and flee out of the archive rooms. Who wanted to be smiled at by the girl that trailed shadows like pets, conjured snakes and waited for Death, her bridegroom, to steal her from these walls? Never mind that none of it was true. Never mind that the closest I had come to real magic was making off with an entire tray of desserts without anyone noticing. The shadow of me always loomed larger than the person who cast it. And sometimes that had its benefits. This tutor, however, was not as easily cowed. I strained my ears, listening for the footfall of more courtiers, but it was silent. The meeting would start any minute now and here I was, stuck with some fool who wanted to teach me the virtue of silence. I grinned at him . . . . . . and he grinned back. “It is unseemly to smile at strangers, Princess.” He took a step closer to me. Shadows glommed around him, choking off the honey light of the room. He smelled wrong. Like he had borrowed the scent of another person. Sweat slicked his skin and when he walked closer, red shimmered in his eyes— like coal smoldering in each socket. “Let me teach you, lovely thing,” he said, taking another step closer. “Humans always get it wrong, don’t they? They think a bowl of rice at the front door is strong enough to keep a demon away. Wrong. What you know is a false promise of strength. Let me show you weakness.” The room had never felt this empty, like I was trapped between the space of an echo and a scream. I couldn’t hear anything. Not the parrots scuttling on their branches or the court notary droning his list of the after noon’s agenda. Silence was a silhouette, something I could trace. The tutor’s voice transcended sound, muddying my thoughts. “Let me teach you the ways of demons and men.”