Friday, April 18, 2014

[Book Blast] Big Fat Disaster by Beth Fehlbaum + Trailer & Giveaway

Big Fat Disaster
by Beth Fehlbaum
Hardcover, 286 pages
Expected publication: April 18th 2014 by Merit Press
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Insecure, shy, and way overweight, Colby hates the limelight as much as her pageant-pretty mom and sisters love it. It's her life: Dad's a superstar, running for office on a family values platform. Then suddenly, he ditches his marriage for a younger woman and gets caught stealing money from the campaign. Everyone hates Colby for finding out and blowing the whistle on him. From a mansion, they end up in a poor relative's trailer, where her mom's contempt swells right along with Colby's supersized jeans. Then, a cruel video of Colby half-dressed, made by her cousin Ryan, finds its way onto the internet. Colby plans her own death. A tragic family accident intervenes, and Colby's role in it seems to paint her as a hero, but she's only a fraud. Finally, threatened with exposure, Colby must face facts about her selfish mother and her own shame. Harrowing and hopeful, proof that the truth that saves us can come with a fierce and terrible price, Big Fat Disaster is that rare thing, a story that is authentically new.



- Open to US Residents Only.
- Must be 13+ to Enter

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About the Author

In addition to writing Young Adult Contemporary Fiction, Beth Fehlbaum is an experienced English teacher who frequently draws on her experience as an educator to write her books. She has a B.A. in English, Minor in Secondary Education, and an M.Ed. in Reading.

Beth is the author of the forthcoming Big Fat Disaster (Merit Press/F+W Media, March 2014); Courage in Patience (Kunati Books, 2008); and Hope in Patience (WestSide Books, 2010). Hope in Patience was named a 2011 YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers. Truth in Patience, which rounds out The Patience Trilogy, is as yet unpublished.

Beth has a following in the young adult literature world and also among survivors of sexual abuse because of her work with victims' advocacy groups. She has been the keynote speaker at the National Crime Victims' Week Commemoration Ceremony at the Hall of State in Dallas, Texas and a presenter for Greater Texas Community Partners, where she addressed a group of social workers and foster children on the subject of "Hope".

Beth is a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, like Ashley in The Patience Trilogy, and the day-to-day manager of an eating disorder much like Colby's in Big Fat Disaster. These life experiences give her a unique perspective, and she writes her characters' stories in a way meant to inspire hope.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

[Blog Tour] Screaming Divas by Suzanne Kamata EXCERPT

Click the banner to see the full schedule and tour hosts.

The Screaming Divas
by Suzanne Kamata
Hardcover, 208 pages
Expected publication: May 18th 2014 by Merit Press
Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

At sixteen, Trudy Baxter is tired of her debutante mom, her deadbeat dad, and her standing reservation at the juvenile detention center. Changing her name to Trudy Sin, she cranks up her major chops as a singer and starts a band, gathering around other girls ill at ease in their own lives. Cassie Haywood, would-have-been beauty queen, was scarred in an accident in which her alcoholic mom was killed. But she can still sing and play her guitar, even though she seeks way too much relief from the pain in her body and her heart through drugs, and way too much relief from loneliness through casual sex. Still, it's Cassie who hears former child prodigy Harumi Yokoyama playing in a punk band at a party, and enlists her, outraging Harumi's overbearing first-generation Japanese parents. The fourth member is Esther Shealy, who joins as a drummer in order to be close to Cassie--the long-time object of her unrequited love--and Harumi, her estranged childhood friend. Together, they are Screaming Divas, and they're quickly swept up as a local sensation. Then, just as they are about to achieve their rock-girl dreams, a tragedy strikes.


from The Screaming Divas
By Suzanne Kamata

Trudy got her hands on a guitar. Actually, it was her father’s guitar, the one he’d played in his band. The instrument had a history of smoky bars, fields of wild flowers, park benches, Greyhound buses. It had been all over the place, probably even Dahomey.

She was going to ask to borrow it, but when she dropped by Jack’s apartment, he wasn’t home. Trudy decided to cart the guitar off anyhow. He never played it any more and besides, he might say no if she asked him to loan it to her. He didn’t trust her so much since all the trouble with Adam.

She’d practice and innovate and turn herself into a brilliant performer. And then she’d start a band. It would be the most exciting thing to hit the town since General Sherman. Yeah, these were good thoughts.

By day, she practiced. By night, she hung out at The Cave, playing records or slamming on the dance floor. During breaks, she looked for musicians in the Pink Room.

“Hey, Maddy. I’m starting a band. Wanna join up?”

Her roommate Madeline tossed a lock of black hair out of her eyes. “You must be out of your mind.”

Trudy shrugged. She asked Jeff, the David Bowie lookalike. She even asked Johnny Fad. People laughed, blew smoke in her face. Sometimes they just turned away as if they hadn’t heard her at all.

Why did everyone treat her proposition like some sort of joke? She was as serious as she’d ever been. The more she practiced, the more she knew that her dreams lay in music. She closed her eyes and saw herself on the stage, crooning into a mike while a huge crowd lit and lofted their Bics in tribute.

When people were drinking and dancing, they weren’t in the mood for serious talk. She had to find another way to put her band together.

Trudy made a flyer with scissors and magazines and Elmer’s glue. When she was finally satisfied with her work, she rode her housemate’s rickety bicycle to Kinko’s and made a hundred copies. Then she ran around Five Points with a staple gun and plastered them to every telephone pole in sight. When she was finished, she went back to the apartment, picked up her guitar, and waited for the phone to ring.

“Hey, what’s this?” Madeline barged into her room just after midnight, smelling of booze and smoke. She waved one of Trudy’s flyers in the air between them.

“I’m starting a band,” Trudy said. “I told you already.”

Madeline shrugged. “Yeah, whatever. I wish you hadn’t put our phone number down, though. We’ll get half a million calls from creeps.”

Trudy didn’t answer. Why was Madeline being such a bitch? She looked really cool with her tattooed shoulder and asymmetrical haircut, but sometimes she could be totally square.
“I’ll get my dad to buy us an answering machine,” Trudy said. “That way we can screen calls.”
Madeline nodded, seemingly consoled, and wandered off to her room.

Trudy giggled softly. Jack would never fork out cash for something like that, but the lie had worked.
The first call came at noon the next day.

“Hey, I’m calling about the band,” a gravelly voice said.

“What do you play?”

“Bass, drums, whatever. I’m versatile. Hey, wait. You sound really familiar. What’s your name?”
“Trudy Sin.”

“Hey, I know you. You’re that firestarter.” The line went dead.

Later, Southern Bell called about an overdue phone bill. The manager at Yesterday’s, where Madeline waited tables, called asking Madeline to report to work early. Someone dialed a wrong number.

Where were all the budding musicians, the soulmates in tune with her dreams? Trudy set aside her guitar and put on some music. She threw herself on the bed and let Patti Smith comfort her.

How was she ever going to start a band?

Maybe she could go solo – set up a drum machine and play the guitar herself. She wracked her brains trying to come up with someone who’d gotten famous without back-up. Her mind went blank.

Two nights later, when she came home from a trip to the Quick Mart down the street, Madeline greeted her with, “You got a phone call. Someone wants to join your band.”
“Great. Who?” She pictured a pale, black-haired guy in leather, a guitar strapped across his hard-muscled body.

“I dunno. She said she’d call back.”

She? Well, okay. This could be good. A girl group. Yeah, that’s the ticket. They’d be like the Supremes with instruments. The Gogo’s with attitude. It would be a good gimmick, something to get them started while they developed as a band.

About the Author

Five-time Pushcart Prize nominee Suzanne Kamata is the author of the novels Screaming Divas (Merit Press, 2014), Gadget Girl: The Art of Being Invisible (GemmaMedia, 2013) and Losing Kei (Leapfrog Press, 2008), and editor of three anthologies - The Broken Bridge: Fiction from Expatriates in Literary Ja
pan, Love You to Pieces: Creative Writers on Raising a Child with Special Needs, and Call Me Okaasan: Adventures in Multicultural Mothering (Wyatt-Mackenzie Publishing, 2009). Her short fiction and essays have appeared widely. She is the Fiction Co-editor of

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (48): The Young Elites

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly bookish meme hosted by Jill  @ Breaking the Spine.

My WoW:

The Young Elites (The Young Elites #1)
by Marie Lu
Expected publication: October 7th 2014 by Putnam Books for Young Readers

"Some hate us, think us criminals to hang at the gallows. Some fear us, think us demons to burn at the stake. Some worship us, think us divine children of the gods.

But all know us."
Adelina Amouteru is a survivor of the blood plague: marked by a jagged scar, snow-white hair and lashes. Cast out by her family, Adelina has finally found a place to belong within the secret society of Young Elites. To some, the Elites are heroes, here to save innocents in desperate situations. But to the Inquisition Axis, the white-robed soldiers of Kenettra, they are monsters with demonic powers who must be brought to justice. As Adelina learns more about this perilous world where politics and magic clash, she soon realizes that her own powers may be in danger of bringing on an era of panic such as the world has never seen.
The new series, set in what Putnam described as a “Renaissance-like world,” is called The Young Elites. It follows three rival societies with supernatural powers battling for supremacy.

The first book in the series is set for fall 2014.

I heard Marie Lu described this as like X-Men meets Assassins Creed meets Game of Thrones. I seem to always have issues with X-Men themed books so I try to avoid them as much as possible but since this is Marie Lu, there will be no avoiding to be done. By the way, does anyone know if that image above is the final cover image? It looks like it got cut short down there. 

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Book Review: The Taking (ARC)

The Taking (The Taking #1)
Hardcover, 368 pages
Expected publication: April 29th 2014 by Harper Teen
Source: Edelweiss

A flash of white light . . . and then . . . nothing.

When sixteen-year-old Kyra Agnew wakes up behind a Dumpster at the Gas ’n’ Sip, she has no memory of how she got there. With a terrible headache and a major case of déjà vu, she heads home only to discover that five years have passed . . . yet she hasn’t aged a day.

Everything else about Kyra’s old life is different. Her parents are divorced, her boyfriend, Austin, is in college and dating her best friend, and her dad has changed from an uptight neat-freak to a drunken conspiracy theorist who blames her five-year disappearance on little green men.

Confused and lost, Kyra isn’t sure how to move forward unless she uncovers the truth. With Austin gone, she turns to Tyler, Austin’s annoying kid brother, who is now seventeen and who she has a sudden undeniable attraction to. As Tyler and Kyra retrace her steps from the fateful night of her disappearance, they discover strange phenomena that no one can explain, and they begin to wonder if Kyra’s father is not as crazy as he seems. There are others like her who have been taken . . . and returned. Kyra races to find an explanation and reclaim the life she once had, but what if the life she wants back is not her own?

The gist: A girl suddenly falls unconscious only to wake up five years later wearing the same dirtied clothes and injuries with no signs of aging and no recollection of what happened in the last five years.

This is the promise that has recently dug its way into my plot weaknesses list so naturally the moment the chance to read The Taking presented itself, I immediately grabbed the opportunity. What made The Taking unputdownable from the beginning is that it has a mystery that grabs at its readers and what's more is that it starts about right off the bat.

As for the characters, I don’t really find Kyra to be a distinct one. She didn’t leave much impression on me and is easily forgettable in the world of YA heroines. She also annoyed me a couple of times. I understand that it’s hard for her to accept the changes that came her way, but what I didn’t like was how she reacted to these. Like with her younger brother who she’s often disgusted with. She also acts as if the world should revolve around her; like it owes her the five years she lost. Tyler, on the other hand, is one of the more likable characters. I love that he is very straightforward. He has feelings for Kyra and he makes sure she knew he was pursuing her. He flirts with her a lot and does so poorly at it (according to Kyra) but instead of becoming awkward, he remains extremely cute. He also talks loudly in his sleep about nonsensical things. He is adorbs!

The romance part developed too quickly for my liking though, but it’s definitely not a love at first sight. The events in the beginning of the book gave me the impression that Austin and Kyra had a really tight and solid relationship, so it beats me why Kyra moved on from Austin a tad too fast and even though she would often mention her heartbreaks about Austin and his new girlfriend, her reactions toward Tyler convey the opposite. I initially thought we were going to have a love triangle here, but it seems Austin was made annoying on purpose to lift the readers’ attention from him. But on the brighter side, I actually find the Tyler/Kyra tandem cute (if a little awkward) given their history together. Kyra has five years ahead of Tyler and as his older brother’s playmate, Kyra had too much time teasing and making Tyler cry a lot when they were younger. Now they’re the same age and both have thing for each other. Talk about awkward.

I love that the action started out early in the book and is kept at a steady pace all throughout. However, as I’m still not entirely used to the concept of aliens in books, I felt uncomfortable with some of the events here. But that aside, Kimberly still presented fascinating ideas in the world of The Taking. And I’m excited to know what happens after the last events in this book because gods, that lady is just cruel!

Rating: 3/5 stars!
Disclaimer: An e-copy was received from the publisher via Edelweiss for an honest review. No compensation of any kind was received in exchange for this.
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