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Interview + Giveaway: Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda Blog Tour

I'm so excited to be a part of #SimonVs blog tour because it's one of my favorite books that I'll be pushing everyone to read. Harry Potter and Elliot Smith obsessed Oreo-fiend, Simon Spier is my favorite this year. He's also a hopeless romantic who can't help his hilarious typos in flirty emails to Blue. I'm plan to reread it forever and ever and cannot wait to hold the beautiful hardcover in my hands.

ABOUT THE BOOK

young adult lgbtq contemporary romance published by Balzer + Bray on 7 April 2015

Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn't play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone's business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he's been emailing, will be compromised.

With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he's pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he's never met.


THE INTERVIEW


I'm so incredibly happy to have Becky on the blog today because I adore her! Case in point, we both had one day to get this post ready and she was so fast with her replies to my emails despite being so busy. Basically, she's such an amazing person.

It says in your bio that you write 'very nerdy contemporary young adult fiction.' How did the very nerdy part came to be?

I LOVE this question, because the fact that you even have to ask is extremely flattering. I think I will always write about nerds, because I can’t even begin to imagine what goes inside the brains of cool people. Fact: Simon and his friends are nerds, but my own nerdiness reaches a whole other level.

As a clinical psychologist, how has your experience of working with teenagers influenced you as a writer?

I think it’s a mixed bag! Being a psychologist gave me the opportunity to get to know so many incredible teens, and I think it helped re-acclimate me to how teens talk, think, and interact. That being said, balancing the two roles has been challenging at times. I went from having basically no online footprint to being a public figure, and that alone has been a huge transition. Furthermore, in my role as a psychologist, teens have trusted me with really precious information, and it’s critically important that I never mine that for my fiction. Beyond that, I try to do everything within my power to make sure my former clients never feel vulnerable that their confidentiality could be breached. I won’t let it happen – that’s nonnegotiable – but I still worry that they think it might!


Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda is about so many things so this might be very hard for you to answer, but what's your favorite part about it?

Hmm…I think my favorite part of this book is the love story. I loved writing the email chapters. I think I got a little lost in Simon and Blue’s relationship at times! And I feel like I’ve gotten to know them both so well over the past two years that it’s really special to see them get their happy ending. I truly believe that every Simon deserves to eat infinite Oreos and make out with the grammar nerd of his dreams.


Drunk Simon or Oreo eater Simon?

That is, in fact, a trick question, because Simon is ALWAYS Oreo eater Simon (and Drunk Simon is especially Oreo eater Simon). I will resolve this dilemma by linking to this very informative Buzzfeed. Why, yes, I will be making these for my launch party.


Do you know you probably gave us all a heart attack with Martin's involvement in Simon's life?

My work here is done!!! :-D


It's awesome to see so many diverse YA coming out this year! What's your take on that?

I’m completely thrilled by it. It’s incredibly inspiring to see editors acquiring such a range of diverse titles, and especially to see the reading community responding to them with such enthusiasm and positivity. In my imprint (Harper’s Balzer + Bray), I can name four 2015 debuts off the top of my head that star LGBTQIA+ characters, and one of their huge contemporary titles this year stars a Turkish-American girl. I think this shift is so incredibly important and so desperately needed – and, thanks to influencers like the We Need Diverse Books team, I expect it will only continue to improve. Of course, it’s also important to acknowledge how much work there is left to do in challenging our tendency to default to white, straight, cis, male, non-disabled characters and authors. Nonetheless, I’m excited to be a part of that work.


Are you currently working on anything?

I am working on something! I’ve been in edits and rewrites for the second book of my two-book deal with Balzer + Bray, which I would describe as a loose companion book to SIMON. I’m hesitant to reveal much about it, since I keep making such dramatic changes as I rewrite. I’m hopeful that we can expect to see it on shelves in 2016.


Lastly, everyone should know that you are - ?

Beyond excited to launch this book. Incredibly, ridiculously grateful to all of those who have supported me along the way. Thrilled to be a part of this community. Looking forward to what comes next!

Becky Albertalli can be found at
Website | BlogTwitter | Goodreads | Instagram |

THE GIVEAWAY

We may never now what the emboss on an Oreo cookie means but that surely isn't stopping Simon or us from enjoying one or a whole pack of it. One lucky person will win a copy of Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda along with a package of Oreos. (Please do visit my policies page before entering!)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Additionally, you can also win a personalized hardcover of Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda if you tweet how you eat your Oreos or Instagram a picture using the hashtag #SimonVs by April 6th. Yes, today's the last day so get going!

2

Review: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater


ABOUT THE BOOK

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
young adult paranormal published by Scholastic on 18 September 2012 
first book in The Raven Cycle series

Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.

His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.

But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.

For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.

THE RATING



THE REVIEW

Even before I knew that stories could be driven by either their plots or characters, I had a habit of falling in love with all kinds of character driven ones. For me, stories have always been why I got into reading in the first place, but the characters are why I read. Characters are why I also want to stay in the world of the story and never leave. The Raven Boys is such a story; a story that made me love the characters who are so human and complex because life, in one way or another, hasn't really been easy for any one of them.

The Raven Boys begins with the story of how Blue Sargent have always been told that if she were to kiss her true love, he'd die. It's such an ordinary prediction to come from a family of psychics that Blue thinks nothing of it. Until her half-aunt, Neeve, declares that Blue will fall in love that year. That, coupled with Blue seeing a future ghost of an Aglionby student on St. Mark's Eve, unnerves her in true Blue Sargent fashion.

Enrolled in Aglionby, a private school for soft rich fucks rich kids, the Raven boys are a privileged bunch of troublemakers; exactly the sort of brats Blue stays away from. But there's nothing spoiled or bratty about Adam Parrish, poor and enrolled in Aglionby on a partial scholarship. That's what gets Blue to consider the possibility that the four boys could be just boys rather than a single unapproachable and domineering unit. Thus, begins the tale of how Blue gets tangled up with four Raven boys committed to finding the sleeping Welsh king, which legend says will grant a favor to the person that wakes him.

Judgmental and unfriendly, Blue Sargent had been brought up in a house full of females and in the best way possible. She tries hard to look as eccentric as possible and owns it. Self-assured and sarcastic, Blue Sargent is a sensible teenager who values education and the environment. As a non-psychic who only makes things louder who other psychics, Blue wants believes that life has much to offer her if she looks hard enough. Which is why Gansey's belief in the supernatural interests Blue and she can't seem to stay away from them when there's a king to find.

Richard Gansey's belief in the supernatural is undeterred and solid, but his remarks can be offhandedly condescending. He comes from old money and so the struggle that comes attached with having little money is unbeknownst to him. However, he constantly questions himself and values the opinion of his friends. Adam Parrish is desperately trying to live a better life on his own terms and it's heartbreaking to see him go through the wringer time and again. Ronan Lynch is the owner of an angry soul who snarls and punches anything that pisses him off as he tries to come to terms with issues that run deep. He practices disinterest, feels lost, and fights a losing battle with himself every day. I just can't help but love him the most. Noah Czerny knows more about them all than he lets on, but prefers to stay quiet and observe. He's the gossiper of the group and extremely adorable.

The eerie and quiet ambiance attached to The Raven Boys perfectly compliments the elements of the story involving the clairvoyants, the ley line, and the hunt for the sleeping Welsh king, Owen Glendower. But that's not all. The Raven Boys is one of those books that are full of subtle mysteries oh-so-carefully placed until the reader knows to look for them. There's also a lot of foreshadowing; which makes The Raven Boys is a captivating book that one can reread over and over and still come across something they haven't before. A true storyteller, Stiefvater penned a masterpiece in The Raven Boys specked with little wonders, magic, and breathtaking words.

THE QUOTES

'And everywhere, everywhere, there were books. Not the tidy stacks of an intellectual attempting to impress, but the slumping piles of a scholar obsessed.'
'He was full of so many wants, too many to prioritize, and so they all felt desperate.'
'We have to be back in three hours,' Ronan said. 'I just fed Chainsaw but she'll need it again.'
'This,' Gansey replied 'is precisely why I didn't want to have a baby with you.' 
'From the passenger seat, Ronan began to swear at Adam. It was a long, involved swear, using every forbidden word possible, often in compound-word form. As Adam stared at his lap, penitent, he mused that there was something musical about Ronan when he swore, a careful and loving precision to the way he fit the words together, a black-painted poetry. It was far less hateful sounding than when he didn't swear.'

5

Monthly Recap: March


I honestly have no idea where March went. I felt like I did nothing but was busy anyway and also the other way around? Sigh. Ignore me.

LIST OF NEWSWORTHY

March was the month where I actually became a feels troll because everyone hates my tumblr. Damn you, tumblr.
Caaaaake // It rained and was lovely // I went to a park // Almost birthday selfie
Transplant Update
We finally got approval to go ahead with for my mother's kidney transplant and now we're just waiting for her to have the surgery in a week or so. So nervous!

Quarter Century Club
I've always loved March because spring finally arrives and then it's my birthday month, too. I still don't know what I'm doing with my life so I keep having these little panics but mainly, I think I'm okay. I mean I got to have this divine strawberry gâteau cake so I can't complain.

TV WATCH

Nothing matters now that The 100 is on break.

I WILL NEVER BE OKAY T____T //The 100
I can't believe that it's hardly been a little over two weeks since The 100 went on a break. LIKE HOW. Also, that ending smashed my heart into million little pieces and I'll never be okay.
The season finale of Suits killed me.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine is the best comedy show out there and I don't care what you say.
Fresh Off the Boat is still going hilariously well.
I also finished watching season one of Hindsight and have mixed feelings about it.
I basically watched one episode each of Arrow, The Originals, The Big Bang Theory, The Vampire Diaries and Daria and then wasn't in the mood for anymore TV for the rest of March.

MOVIE WATCH


I think I should just stop including this section ha ha.

APP WATCH

I didn't try out any new apps this month except one.

Trying my hand at organization.
Wunderlist - I actually tried it once before but I downloaded it again because they updated it with folders which is so much better. I still like Google Keep better, but I'm planning to use Wunderlist for blogging stuff.

LIST OF READS

Every single book that I read in March made me break down with the exception of one that was just a mindfuck.

I don't know how I survived reading these.
A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab
The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma
Mistborn: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson
Red Rising by Pierce Brown
The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater (reread)

LIST OF BLOGPOSTS

I was in sort of a blogging slump for the whole month of March. It mainly involved me being too busy to blog and when I had the time to blog, I preferred reading over it. Also, I may have blanked out on how to write reviews.

I posted my review of The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma

LIST OF BOOK BUYS

Wow, look at my book curing restraint! I'm honestly trying to cut out on requesting any review copies but I couldn't hold back when I saw volume one of The Fade Out up on NetGalley because I've been anticipating it pretty darn much.

I hope it's as awesome as its cover suggests.
The Falconer by Elizabeth May
The Fade Out, Vol 1 by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips (thank you, Image Comics!)

PLAYLIST

A slow month for music hmm.

Forever in love with purity ring // Sacrifice is the only song I love from the soundtrack // Hypnotise: The Pynch song
How was your March?

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Review: The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma


ABOUT THE BOOK

The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma
young adult paranormal thriller published by Algonquin Young Readers on 24 March 2015

“Ori's dead because of what happened out behind the theater, in the tunnel made out of trees. She's dead because she got sent to that place upstate, locked up with those monsters. And she got sent there because of me.”

On the outside, there's Violet, an eighteen-year-old dancer days away from the life of her dreams when something threatens to expose the shocking truth of her achievement.

On the inside, within the walls of the Aurora Hills juvenile detention center, there's Amber, locked up for so long she can't imagine freedom.

Tying their two worlds together is Orianna, who holds the key to unlocking all the girls' darkest mysteries . . .

What really happened on the night Orianna stepped between Violet and her tormentors? What really happened on two strange nights at Aurora Hills? Will Amber and Violet and Orianna ever get the justice they deserve—in this life or in another one?

In prose that sings from line to line, Nova Ren Suma tells a supernatural tale of guilt and of innocence, and of what happens when one is mistaken for the other.

THE RATING



THE REVIEW

The Walls Around Us is a very peculiar story that builds to a crescendo—then shudders to a halt before starting up again to tie up all the loose ends. In other words, it reads like two different stories are on a collision course and when they crash, all hell breaks loose. Suma paints a very grim picture of a female juvenile detention center located in the middle of nowhere with no way out, but death. Yet that's not all; coming from a small town with nothing out of the ordinary parents is Violet, a star ballerina whose claim to fame is built on the foundation of guilt.

The Wall Around Us begins with an odd glimpse into what happens when a bunch of girls, locked up in tiny prison-like cells, are set free. These are girls, some barely into their teenage years, with blood on their hands. Locked up in a juvenile detention center, Amber committed a crime none would expect a thirteen-year-old to commit. An expert at minimizing disturbances as best as a detente can, one strange night Amber is thrown in for a loop that forever alters the course of her sentence.

In stark contrast is Violet, living her dream of being enrolled into Julliard, which makes her an object of absolute envy in a town filled with narrow-minded and highly judgmental people. She's pretentious, she's unbelievable, and she's wired to only make sure that nothing comes in the way of her future. She's one of those friends Ori wished she had only to realize how wrong she turned out to be. Ori is the only common link between Amber and Violet; the kind of link that only gets stronger as secrets come to light, complicating things further even as they simplify.

Suma tells the story of what it does to girls locked up at such young ages with nothing but crappy food and savage personalities for company. It's horrifying, it's terrible, and it's nothing to be proud of. Taking away freedom does strange things to a human being and stranger still to teenagers who are unable to understand the extent of their crimes. The life they could have had is replaced by years of resentment that stems from being ordered around in limited space. It's self-destructive to an extreme especially when not all the juvenile detentes are guilty.

Gradual, pulsating and incredibly ominous, The Wall Around Us is a book that completely boggles the mind. Suma isn't afraid to pose uncomfortable questions about human beings that are so far-gone that there could be no saving them, but who still hunger for justice, for freedom. If you ever wondered if teenage girls are capable of doing the unthinkable, look no further than the oddly psychological and incredibly thrilling, The Walls Around Us.

THE QUOTES

'When people decide there's ugliness inside you, they'll be looking to find it on your face.' 
'She didn't look like a killer at all to us, and this the opinion of killers.' 
'I knew that just because people on the outside were free and clean, it didn't mean they were the good ones. They were the worst kind of liars. They were total assholes. They were traitors. They were bitches. They were snitches. They were cowards. They claimed they had your best interests at heart, but really they were in it for themselves. They said what they wanted about us. They threw us under buses, and then they walked away. Not everything said about us by those on the outside was the truth, not even close.'

7

Monthly Recap: February


I would say that February needed to not be so emotionally overwhelming, but I'm used to that state of being now.

LIST OF NEWSWORTHY

January was 100uary and February is now Marchettuary because Melina Marchetta.
Travelling woes // Hello spring // Bookstore adventures // Harry Potter for life
Living in Between
In the middle of the month, I had to travel with my mother to another state for her kidney transplant. It's still in the process of being approved (hopefully) and they ran some more tests so we're all just sitting tight right now. And oh, my mother met the donor and we're all so grateful.

TV Shows Be My End
This month, The 100, Suits, and How to Get Away with Murder crippled me with feelings. Clarke Griffin owned everyone, that Darvey moment, and all those twists in the How to Get Away with Murder season finale meant mindfuckery upon mindfuckery.

Two Weeks of Marchetta
I know everyone already knows, but I read and loved the hell out of Lumatere Chronicles by Melina Marchetta. I made Ellis die so many times with all my updates and I'm still crying over the perfection that is my latest OTP: Froi and Quintana.

Turkish Food
I had a döner platter for the first time ever and it was a strange experience. It was good but a little too bland for my taste? Also, I didn't like how the beef tasted. Still, I'm glad that I'm all for trying out new food because food is important.

TV WATCH

Why do TV shows make me feel so much?

THIS SCENE ASDFGHJKL // Suits
The Flash keeps getting better with every new episode that airs and I want more. The ending of the latest episode, though.
Still need to watch the latest episode of Arrow but
Loving Brooklyn Nine-Nine whereas, New Girl and The Big Bang Theory are going okay.
I watched a few episodes of Daria and it's the best.
Oh, I also watched a couple episodes of Criminal Minds and damn, mind is blown. I need to continue bad.
Fresh Off the Boat is hilarious and so freaking relateable. Us Asians, man.
Okay, I loved how emotional the Sheriff Forbes scene was in The Vampire Diaries but still, the show mainly sucks.
Revenge should just call it off after this season. Please.
I caught up on The Originals and it's going pretty intense.
The 100 knows how to do intense and rock at it in. Every. Single. Episode.
Suits got so good! Loving the Harvey-Mike-Loius trio and all the Darvey moments but Jeff Malone can go suck it.
The first season of How to Get Away with Murder ended and HOW COULD THEY DO WHAT THEY DID WHY. ALSO, LEAVE COLIVER ALONE.

MOVIE WATCH


What are those again?

APP WATCH

I didn't try out any new apps this month except one.


Dreamdays
Dreamdays - I wanted a minimalistic countdown app and Dreamdays it is.

LIST OF READS

The more fantasy I read, the more fantasy I love.

Lumatere Chronicles, everyone!
Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta
Froi of the Exiles by Melina Marchetta
Quintana of Charyn by Melina Marchetta

LIST OF BLOGPOSTS

I wrote so many reviews this month, I feel proud of myself. I even scheduled a few, woot!

I posted my review of Rebound by Noelle August.
I posted my review Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard.
I posted my review of A Wicked Thing by Rhiannon Thomas.
I posted a top ten Tuesday list of favorite heroines in books and TV.
I posted my review of Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta.

LIST OF BOOK BUYS

Only bought an eBook which tells me that December is book buying month. Yay!

Pretty cover is pretty.
Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta
Froi of the Exiles by Melina Marchetta
Quintana of Charyn by Melina Marchetta
A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

PLAYLIST

A slow month for music hmm.

Marina is back! // RAIGN is whoa // New music by CHVRCHES is always good
How was your February?