Book Blog Detour: Wedding Photos!

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As most of you probably already know, I got married earlier this year (!!!!) — and my husband and I just recently received all of our wedding photos back from our photographer, the amazing May Gunsul Photography. So I wanted to take a brief detour from book blogging today to share some of our favorite images from our wedding day.

Our wedding took place on January 25, 2014 at Timberline Lodge on Mt. Hood, Oregon. Despite being late January, we were blessed with blue skies, mild temperatures, and dry roads. It was a magical day filled with love, joy, and laughter. Enjoy!

My dress, bouquet & shoes!

My dress, bouquet & shoes!

My handsome groom putting on his cufflinks!

My handsome groom putting on his cufflinks!

My mom and bridesmaid doing up LOTS of little buttons on the back of my dress.

My mom and bridesmaid doing up LOTS of little buttons on the back of my dress.

Adding a little sparkle

Adding a little sparkle

Getting the tiara just so

Getting the tiara just so

We're getting married!

We’re getting married!

Stop to smell the roses (and ranunculus and billy balls)

Stop to smell the roses (and ranunculus and billy balls)

Fancy Feet!

Fancy Feet!

The BEST girls ever!

The BEST girls ever!

Breezy bridal party portraits

Breezy bridal party portraits

It was windy on Mt. Hood that day, but also sunny and gorgeous!

It was windy on Mt. Hood that day, but also sunny and gorgeous!

I love this guy!

I love this guy!

Another gust of wind!

Another gust of wind!

Breezy bride

Breezy bride

Dad walking me down the aisle

Dad walking me down the aisle

Flower girls!

Flower girls!

Man & wife!

Man & wife!

My parents celebrating!

My parents celebrating!

Visiting with guests during cocktail hour

Visiting with guests during cocktail hour

Everyone (well, most everyone) at the wedding!

Everyone (well, most everyone) at the wedding!

First dance - he twirled me around the dance floor to "Hey Soul Sister" by Train

First dance – he twirled me around the dance floor to “Hey Soul Sister” by Train

My dad and I busted out a surprise father-daughter dance to The Blues Brothers "Gimme Some Lovin'" -- Check out the video at the bottom of this post!

My dad and I busted out a surprise father-daughter dance to The Blues Brothers “Gimme Some Lovin’” — Check out the video at the bottom of this post!

Then everyone got on the dance floor with us!

Then everyone got on the dance floor with us!

Cake - yummy!

Cake – yummy!

Sneaking another kiss as the sun sets on Mt. Hood.

Sneaking another kiss as the sun sets on Mt. Hood.

And here’s the video from our surprise father-daughter dance:

Exclusive Q&A with Noggin author John Corey Whaley: Part 3

Today, we conclude our three-part interview with Noggin author John Corey Whaley with a round of flash questions! (See part 1 and part 2 here, in case you missed them.)

john corey whaley2Favorite decade?

1980s. In the 1980s you could sit on your mom’s lap while she drove and smoked cigarettes.

Favorite writing snack?

Mike and Ike’s.

Favorite Disney movie?

The Lion King.

The beach or the mountains?

Mountains. I live at the beach, but I’m obsessed with mountains.

Song that can always get you dancing?

Kids by MGMT.

Name five things on your desk (or in your writing space) right now. Send a picture, if possible.

I am literally sitting in a cabin in the mountains with bed head using a pillow as a desk. You get no photo. haha.

 Thanks again for taking the time to do this Q&A, Corey!



#RockTheDrop 2014: Some Thoughts

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So today was #RockTheDrop – an annual effort organized by readergirlz and partners to promote Teen Reads Day, by encouraging people to leave YA books out in the wild for teen readers to discover them.

tbd2014I’ve participated for several years now, and I discovered something this year: teachers and librarians have no idea what this is.

It was raining something wicked today here in Portland, OR, so I decided to leave most of my books inside at a couple of local high schools. I’ve left books at high schools before, but usually I darted in during quiet parts of the day and never encountered any school staff. I snuck in, left books, and snuck out.

This year I ventured out during lunchtime. (A mistake, perhaps?) At both high schools I visited, I checked in with the front desk, since it was so crowded, and I didn’t want security giving me the stink eye.

And at both schools, I was met by the most confused reactions. At one school, the woman I spoke to actually seemed cranky that I wanted to leave free books for students to find — and the security guard thought I was wasting my time. (I kindly told him to give the students more credit; not all of them may be readers, but I promised him there were readers at his school, and the right students would find the books).

At another school, I spent probably 20 minutes trying to explain the concept to the school librarian, who just seemed baffled by the entire thing. “But how do they find the books?” she asked. I tried to explain, the book was for anyone who walked by and discovered it. The administrator at this school was at least kinder than the first — but she also seemed sort of baffled.

So readergirlz and future #RockTheDrop organizers, here is my suggestion:

Every year, you give us a fantastic book plate to print out and affix to our books before we drop them out in the world. Maybe give us a pamphlet or brochure we can print at home and hand out to the teachers, librarians, etc. we encounter while trying to execute these book drops.

And maybe, you know, work to expand awareness of what #RockTheDrop is all about.

Meanwhile, here’s a look at all the books I dropped off this year:

rtd1 rtd2 rtd3 rtd4 rtd5For the comments: How do you think we can increase awareness of #RockTheDrop?

Book Review: The Treatment by Suzanne Young

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The horrifying imagined world in which teen suicide has become an epidemic, and the only cure is erasing memories, comes to a thrilling conclusion in Suzanne Young’s The Treatment.

treatment, theCan Sloane and James survive the lies and secrets surrounding them, or will The Program claim them in the end? Find out in this sequel to The Program, which Publishers Weekly called “chilling and suspenseful.”

How do you stop an epidemic?

Sloane and James are on the run after barely surviving the suicide epidemic and The Program. But they’re not out of danger. Huge pieces of their memories are still missing, and although Sloane and James have found their way back to each other, The Program isn’t ready to let them go.

Escaping with a group of troubled rebels, Sloane and James will have to figure out who they can trust, and how to take down The Program. But for as far as they’ve come, there’s still a lot Sloane and James can’t remember. The key to unlocking their past lies with the Treatment—a pill that can bring back forgotten memories, but at a high cost. And there’s only one dose.

Ultimately when the stakes are at their highest, can Sloane and James survive the many lies and secrets surrounding them, or will The Program claim them in the end?

When I first read The Program, I remember asking myself: is it possible that just the idea of the Program itself is perpetuating the suicides? This very idea is at the heart of The Treatment and is thoroughly and satisfactorily addressed — all while Young also expands on the saga of her characters (both those familiar to readers and those new to this second book).

The Treatment is an emotional ride, and Young deftly balances the action and drama of her story, with the gut-wrenching emotions that propel her characters forward. There is loss and grief, but also a push to survive and thrive — and these dueling feelings play out delicately throughout the novel.

As always, Young balances out the drama and tension of her story with just the right dose of romance and humor — giving readers a chance to catch their breath whenever the weight of the story becomes too heavy. It’s a careful balancing act, and The Treatment pulls it off with aplomb, even as the story builds to its climactic ending.

The Treatment is a gripping and emotionally satisfying conclusion to The Program, rich with depth and passion on every page. It is in stores April 29th.

Coming Soon: Novel Novice Junior (For Younger Readers)

Young Adult lit may be our bread and butter (so to speak) here at Novel Novice – but we’ve never been afraid to branch out before. We love featuring some of our favorite middle grade books, and have been known to spotlight adult or New Adult titles, as well.

junior-sidebarSo it only seemed natural that we’d extend the same liberties to our younger readers, with the upcoming launch of a new monthly feature, Novel Novice Junior.

With these features, we’ll spotlight some of our favorite or new books for children, primarily focusing on picture books. After all, these youngest readers may not be browsing the Internet just yet — but I’ll bet you guys have younger siblings, cousins, or kids of your own who are just learning to love books as much as you do. And what better way to foster that love than with some fabulous picture books written with them in mind!

We’ll officially kick-off our Novel Novice Junior features during the first week of May, but in the meantime, here are some of my personal favorite picture books:

Peg Leg Peke by Brie Spangler

peg leg peke

Baby Can’t Sleep by Lisa Schroeder, illus. by Viviana Garofoli

Baby Can't Sleep

This is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen

this is not my hat

The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt, illus. by Oliver Jeffers

day the crayons quit

Roxaboxen by Alice McLerran, illus. by Barbara Cooney


The Mysteries of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg

mysteries of harris burdick

(Also check out The Chronicles of Harris Burdick, in which famous authors write short stories to accompany the illustration from Van Allsburg’s original book!)

No, David! by David Shannon

no david

Dillweed’s Revenge by Florence Parry Heide, illus. by Carson Ellis

dillweed's revenge

Chloe and the Lion by Mac Barnett, illus. by Adam Rex

chloe and the lion

And I pretty much adore any of the Cozy Classics series:

cozy - moby dick cozy emma cozy huck finn cozy jane eyre cozy les mis cozy oliver twist cozy pride and prejudice cozy tom sawyer cozy war and peace

For the comments: What are some of your favorite picture books?

Book Review: The Dyerville Tales by M.P. Kozlowsky

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M.P. Kozlowsky’s new middle grade adventure, The Dyerville Tales, is a beautiful story about hope, magic, and love.

dyerville talesVince Elgin is an orphan, having lost his mother and his father in a fire when he was young, but beyond that, his life hasn’t been much of a fairy tale. With only a senile grandfather he barely knows to call family, Vince was remanded to a group home, where he spun fantastical stories, dreaming of the possibility that his father, whose body was never found, might one day return for him. But it’s been a long time since the fire, a long time since Vince has told himself a story worth believing in.

That’s when a letter arrives, telling Vince his grandfather has passed away. Vince cannot explain it, but he’s convinced that if his father is somehow still alive, he’ll find him at the funeral. He strikes out for his grandfather’s small hometown of Dyerville carrying only one thing with him: his grandfather’s journal. The journal tells a story that could not possibly be true, a story of his grandfather’s young life involving witches, giants, magical books, and evil spirits. But as Vince reads on and gets closer to Dyerville, fact and fiction begin to intertwine, and Vince finds that his very real adventure may have more in common with his grandfather’s than he ever could have known.

M. P. Kozlowsky, the author of Juniper Berry, has crafted a powerfully imaginative novel of the spaces in life where fantasy and reality intersect, a touching story of the things we give up to recover the things we’ve lost.

Kozlowsky elegantly captures the battle between hope and belief and magic we feel as a child, and the brutal onslaught of reality and disappointment that we face as we mature. Left orphaned at a young age, Vince is even more susceptible to this depression — and yet, armed with the waning belief that his father is still alive, and the stories his grandfather has left for him, Vince soldiers on. He faces his fears and anxieties, and embarks on an incredible journey.

Along the way, Vince learns that hope and belief and magic are not something he has to give up in order to grow up. He learns that sometimes hope is the most powerful magic of all.

The Dyerville Tales is in stores April 22nd.

Exclusive Q&A with Noggin author John Corey Whaley: Part 2


Today, I am pleased to bring you part 2 of our exclusive Q&A with Noggin author John Corey Whaley. If you missed it, here’s part 1!

john corey whaleyYou have an amazing book trailer for NOGGIN. Were you involved in making this trailer? Tell us about it!

I am super lucky to have met and befriended Ben Jenkins a few years back. He and I actually grew up a few miles down the road from one another, but were separated by just enough years of age that we never met until we were adults. Anyway, he filmed the trailer for WHERE THINGS COME BACK in and around our hometown in Louisiana in 2011, and I got to help a lot with that one. With the NOGGIN trailer, Ben had his own vision from start to finish and filmed it in Colorado, where he currently lives. I just got to sit back and laugh and be in awe of the clips he would email my way.

NOGGIN has been optioned for a movie, and a screenplay is being written. Have you been at all involved in this process so-far? What sort of involvement do you hope to have if/when the movie moves forward?

I’m still in shock over this one. I was involved a little in the process of choosing the writer/director–I met with him and we discussed his vision for the film. I knew instantly that he had to make this movie. From here on out, I won’t be too heavily involved (as most authors aren’t), but I hope to be able to visit the set and such if the movie gets green lit. Basically, they’ll have to put out a restraining order to keep me away. ha.

where things come backWHERE THINGS COME BACK was such an amazing book, and it had huge critical acclaim when it was released. Did you feel any sort of pressure when working on NOGGIN? How did you respond?

Did I feel any pressure? HECK YES. But, my editor and agent are so great and they really helped me when I thought I was lost a few times–when I thought WTCB was a fluke and that I was a phony. I think there will always be pressure with every new book, but I hope that I’ve now learned enough about how to use that pressure positively to make it less insane next time.

Can you give us any insight into what you’re working on next?

I’m still in the early stages, but I can tell you that’s it’s about a psychic, her son, a small town, and a movie. That’s all you get.

Tune in on Friday for part 3 of our Q&A!

Blog Tour: Ask Me by Kimberly Pauley Official Playlist

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Today, I am thrilled to be hosting a stop on the official blog tour for Ask Me by Kimberly Pauley - easily one of my favorite new books of the year!

As part of our stop on the blog tour, we bring you the Official Ask Me Playlist (which you can listen to on Spotify, except for one song which you can find here.) Plus, Kimberly shares some commentary on the playlist, as well!

*          *          *

ask meMy writing playlist for ASK ME was actually pretty much the same playlist that makes up the chapter titles. I seriously did listen to every one of those songs on repeat. But, there are a few songs I would add to that as my “get myself going” songs, so those are the ones I’m going to list here. Do note, however, that there are other songs I hold near and dear but wouldn’t, for various reasons, work for ASK ME. So this is just a small list of some of my favs. In Spotify, these are saved to my “Random Songs I Like” list.

  • The Lazy Song by Bruno Mars
  • Johnny Got a Boom Boom by Imelda May
  • Home by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros
  • Extraordinary Machine by Fiona Apple
  • L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N. by Noah and the Whale
  • In the Cold, Cold Night by the White Stripes
  • Jockey Full of Bourbon by Tom Waits
  • Human Fly by Nouvelle Vague
  • Her Morning Elegance by Oren Lavie
  • Somebody that I Used to Know by Goyte
  • Dirty Boulevard by Lou Reed
  • If I Knew You Were Coming I would Have Baked You a Cake by The Fontane Sisters

And that truly is a random list, isn’t it? Music was huge to me for this book. I can’t always listen and write, but for this one, I *had* to listen while I wrote.

New YA Releases: April 15, 2014

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Here’s a look at some of today’s new YA releases:

frozenFrozen by Erin Bowman

The Heists were only the beginning.

Gray Weathersby escaped from the primitive town of Claysoot expecting to find answers, but what he discovered shook him to the core: A ruthless dictator with absolute power. An army of young soldiers blinded by lies. And a growing rebellion determined to fight back.

Now Gray has joined a team of rebels on a harsh, icy journey in search of allies who can help them set things right. But in a world built on lies, Gray must constantly question whether any ally—or enemy—is truly what they seem…

house of ivy and sorrowHouse of Ivy & Sorrow by Natalie Whipple

Josephine Hemlock has spent the last 10 years hiding from the Curse that killed her mother. But when a mysterious man arrives at her ivy-covered, magic-fortified home, it’s clear her mother’s killer has finally come to destroy the rest of the Hemlock bloodline. Before Jo can even think about fighting back, she must figure out who she’s fighting in the first place. The more truth Jo uncovers, the deeper she falls into witchcraft darker than she ever imagined. Trapped and running out of time, she begins to wonder if the very Curse that killed her mother is the only way to save everyone she loves.

fury of the seventh sonFury of the Seventh Son by Joseph Delaney

The thirteenth—and final—book in the internationally best-selling fantasy adventure series that inspired the forthcoming major motion picture Seventh Son. Finally, Tom Ward, the spook’s last apprentice, will confront the Fiend for the last time.

Tom Ward has battled boggarts, ghasts, witches, dark gods, and the most terrifying creatures to roam the earth. He’s allied with the witch assassin Grimalkin, with a powerful boggart, and with Alice . . . the young witch who is also his true love. And he has kept one step ahead of the Fiend, the most evil being in the world. Now, he will vanquish the Fiend once and for all. But it will require a terrible sacrifice: not everyone Tom cares about will survive the final battle. The Last Apprentice series is soon to be a major motion picture, Seventh Son, starring Jeff Bridges, Ben Barnes, Alicia Vikander, Kit Harington, Olivia Williams, Antje Traue, Djimon Hounsou, and Julianne Moore as Mother Malkin. It’s a suspenseful thrill ride that’s “spine-tingling” (Publishers Weekly) and “anything but tame” (Horn Book). But don’t read it after dark!

you only live onceYou Only Live Once by Bridie Clark

You survived your freshman year at Kings Academy, the prestigious prep school in the New Hampshire hills, but hold the slow clap—turns out sophomore year’s the real grinder. You’ll have to deal with the stress of keeping up with the soul-crushing homework. Not to mention your glam classmates are throwing glitzy sweet sixteen parties this year and you’ll need a job if you want to join.

Will you take that babysitting job in town (and pretend not to notice Hot Dad’s flirtatious ways)? Will you bribe your way to a New York Times internship and land a college guy? Filled to the brim with twisting paths and turns, this may end up being the best year of your life . . . or it may send you home to Hope Falls in tears. Whatever snap decisions you make, it’s going to be an unforgettable year.

don't look backDon’t Look Back by Jennifer Armentrout

Samantha is a stranger in her own life. Until the night she disappeared with her best friend, Cassie, everyone said Sam had it all-popularity, wealth, and a dream boyfriend.

Sam has resurfaced, but she has no recollection of who she was or what happened to her that night. As she tries to piece together her life from before, she realizes it’s one she no longer wants any part of. The old Sam took “mean girl” to a whole new level, and it’s clear she and Cassie were more like best enemies. Sam is pretty sure that losing her memories is like winning the lottery. She’s getting a second chance at being a better daughter, sister, and friend, and she’s falling hard for Carson Ortiz, a boy who has always looked out for her-even if the old Sam treated him like trash.

But Cassie is still missing, and the facts about what happened to her that night isn’t just buried deep inside of Sam’s memory-someone else knows, someone who wants to make sure Sam stays quiet. All Sam wants is the truth, and if she can unlock her clouded memories of that fateful night, she can finally move on. But what if not remembering is the only thing keeping Sam alive?

geography of you and meThe Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith

Lucy and Owen meet somewhere between the tenth and eleventh floors of a New York City apartment building, on an elevator rendered useless by a citywide blackout. After they’re rescued, they spend a single night together, wandering the darkened streets and marveling at the rare appearance of stars above Manhattan. But once the power is restored, so is reality. Lucy soon moves to Edinburgh with her parents, while Owen heads out west with his father.

Lucy and Owen’s relationship plays out across the globe as they stay in touch through postcards, occasional e-mails, and — finally — a reunion in the city where they first met.

A carefully charted map of a long-distance relationship, Jennifer E. Smith’s new novel shows that the center of the world isn’t necessarily a place. It can be a person, too.

what i thought was trueWhat I Thought Was True by Huntley Fitzpatrick

From the author of My Life Next Door comes a swoony summertime romance full of expectation and regret, humor and hard questions.

Gwen Castle’s Biggest Mistake Ever, Cassidy Somers, is slumming it as a yard boy on her Nantucket-esque island this summer. He’s a rich kid from across the bridge in Stony Bay, and she hails from a family of fishermen and housecleaners who keep the island’s summer people happy. Gwen worries a life of cleaning houses will be her fate too, but just when it looks like she’ll never escape her past—or the island—Gwen’s dad gives her some shocking advice. Sparks fly and secret histories unspool as Gwen spends a gorgeous, restless summer struggling to resolve what she thought was true—about the place she lives, the people she loves, and even herself—with what really is.

A magnetic, push-me-pull-me romance with depth, this is for fans of Sarah Dessen, Jenny Han, and Deb Caletti.

also known as elvisAlso Known as Elvis by James Howe

Skeezie Tookis navigates a pivotal summer of first crushes and tough choices in this conclusion to the bestselling and acclaimed quartet that began with The Misfits.

Skeezie Tookis, also known as Elvis, isn’t looking forward to this summer in Paintbrush Falls. While his best friends Bobby, Joe, and Addie are off on exciting adventures, he’s stuck at home, taking care of his sisters and working five days a week to help out his mom. True, he gets to hang out at the Candy Kitchen with the awesome HellomynameisSteffi, but he also has to contend with Kevin Hennessey’s never-ending bullying. And then there’s the confusing world of girls, especially hot-and-cold Becca, his maybe-crush. And the dog that he misses terribly. And the dad who left two years before, whom Skeezie is convinced is the cause of all his troubles. In the words of the King, Skeezie Tookis is All Shook Up.

Skeezie’s got the leather jacket of a tough guy, but a heart of gold—and his story, the fourth and final chapter of the beloved Misfits series, is brimming with life’s tough choices, love in all directions, and enough sweet potato fries to go around.

to all the boys i've loved beforeTo All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

Lara Jean’s love life goes from imaginary to out of control in this heartfelt novel from the New York Times bestselling author of The Summer I Turned Pretty series.

What if all the crushes you ever had found out how you felt about them — all at once?

Lara Jean Song keeps her love letters in a hatbox her mother gave her. They aren’t love letters that anyone else wrote for her; these are ones she’s written. One for every boy she’s ever loved— five in all.

When she writes, she pours out her heart and soul and says all the things she would never say in real life, because her letters are for her eyes only. Until the day her secret letters are mailed, and suddenly, Lara Jean’s love life goes from imaginary to out of control.

For the comments: Which of today’s new YA releases are you most excited about?

Exclusive Q&A with Noggin author John Corey Whaley: Part 1

Today, I am pleased to present the first of our three-part exclusive Q&A with Noggin author John Corey Whaley.

john corey whaley2So tell the truth: did you decapitate a lot of action figures as a child? Okay, I’m kidding. But please tell us about the inspiration for such an outrageous premise!

I always wanted to write something with an absurd premise–a la Vonnegut–and just a few days after chunking the second version of a book I had decided not to publish, this weird idea just sort of popped into my head (pun intended).

I love how, despite the crazy premise, NOGGIN is so deeply rooted in reality. How did you balance the outrageous with the realistic while writing this book?

It definitely took a lot of thought and fine-tuning. I wanted the tone and meaning of the story to be as relatable as any other contemporary realist story, but I always wanted to use the outrageousness of the premise to heighten those things—I think sometimes the most authentic, universally felt moments happen in spite of the absurd events surrounding them.

What (if any) type of research did you do for NOGGIN? (And if you did not do any research, what was your reason for that choice?)

There wasn’t a lot of research involved with writing this particular book. I did some reading about leukemia, so I could describe Travis’ illness/symptoms accurately, but I mostly used my own pop cultural knowledge of cryogenics to deal with those parts of the story. I set the book in Kansas City, MO, where I’ve only been once, so I did some geographical research at one point too.

Tune in on Wednesday for Part 2 of our Q&A!