Tag Archives: The Selective Collective

The Selective Collective features A Little Something Different

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The Selective Collective reads A LITTLE SOMETHING DIFFERENT by SANDY HALL

The Selective Collective features A LITTLE SOMETHING DIFFERENT by SANDY HALL provided to us by Macmillan & Swoon Reads for review and use in The Selective Collective feature!

For my part in this Selective Collective post, I wanted to do… well, a little something different! Throughout the book, I felt like Gabe and Lea had trouble expressing themselves and maybe needed a little bit of help to do so. What better way to do that than through music? Music can be so powerful and say everything you need to say! Music was also a huge part of my college career so I think it’s the perfect thing to incorporate into this month’s Selective Collective post for A LITTLE SOMETHING DIFFERENT! Without further ado, here is my soundtrack for the book!

A LITTLE SOMETHING DIFFERENT soundtrack:
Listen to the full collection of songs at 8tracks.com!

Now, 8tracks doesn’t let you see the full listing of songs but I’m going to cheat and let you see the whole listing of songs! Unfortunately with 8tracks you can only skip three songs on one mix so I wanted to share the entire collection with you so you can see what’s on it even if you end up skipping a few!

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The soundtrack has a very “chill” feel. Gabe and Lea get a little tongue-tied around each other (hence song #3), but for the most part, they seem like pretty relaxed sort of people! They’re just a bit shy and both seem like they’d listen to a lot of mellow, easy-listening alt rock and indie rock.

I think “Tongue Tied” and “Something to Talk About” are two of my favorite selections because they sum up the book pretty well according to my reading experience! Gabe and Lea connected on a level past words since they had a hard time talking to each other and putting themselves out there… And yet everyone (and even everyTHING (squirrels and benches included)) were talking about their chemistry and how obvious it was that these two lovebirds should just get together already! The lyrics obviously don’t EXACTLY line up with the story, but I really like the idea and the sentiment behind them and the titles work REALLY well!

Don’t forget to check out the mix on 8tracks.com and you can listen to it in full!

So what do you think? Which songs would YOU put on the soundtrack for A LITTLE SOMETHING DIFFERENT? What do you think best sums up Gabe and Lea?

And please don’t forget to check out the features from the other ladies in The Selective Collective! We each have a post to feature a different side of A LITTLE SOMETHING DIFFERENT so please go visit their take on the book as well!

Tee @ YA Crush  From Page to Screen
Candice @ The Grown-Up YA  A Little Something Different: Candice’s Choice
Diana & Sandie @ Teen Lit Rocks  Round Table: A Little Something Different
Daphne & Kristina @ Gone Pecan  Interview with Sandy Hall + Giveaway!

 

 

The Selective Collective features On the Fence

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The Selective Collective reads ON THE FENCE by KASIE WEST

The Selective Collective features ON THE FENCE by KASIE WEST provided to us by Harper Teen for review and use in The Selective Collective feature!

For my part in this Selective Collective post, I got to write a bout a topic of my choosing and one of my favorite things about the book (obviously) was the relationship between Charlie and Braden. I loved the athletic aspect of the book because I’m more of a tomboy at heart than a girly girl and it was fun to see some more interactions between the two characters involving sports (hello, sports ARE romantic. CONTACT SPORTS. Don’t pretend like that little touch between you and your crush never sent sparks) so I came up with a sort of “perfect day” scenario for Charlie and Braden and what I think they would have a blast with!

ACTIVITY #1: SUNRISE

Charlie and Braden both have trouble sleeping, so why not start the day with the sunrise and take it from there? Hopefully (ya know, since I’m making this whole thing up anyway) this would be a day where they’re awake more towards the 4-5 o’clock hour and not the 2 o’clock hour so they could meet at the fence and talk until the sun rises. Some sunrises can be even better than sunsets and there’s just something so much more calm and quiet about a sunrise… Not too many people awake yet, the day hasn’t started yet. I think it can be utterly romantic with the perfect setting!

ACTIVITY #2: GOLDEN GATE PARK

Source: Time.com

I’m not exactly sure where they live, but I DO know it’s within driving distance of Oakland… So I’m sending these two to Golden Gate Park! There’s tons to do (not like I’ve been there, but still) and they can go for a nice hike, check out scenery, even hop over to a great view of the Golden Gate Bridge! It’s a great place to explore and spend time together before their next activity…

ACTIVITY #3: A’S GAME

Source: The Week

Braden LOVES the A’s so what better activity than going to see a game? Maybe alone, on a real date this time without any friend drama in the mix! It’s the perfect activity for both of these sports nuts. They can sit back and relax, watching the game and still talk about anything and everything!

ACTIVITY #4: FUN CENTER NIGHT

There’s a “fun center” near my house so I’m sure there’s one somewhere close to Charlie and Braden! They have all sorts of great things to do there — from go-karts to bumper boats to mini-golf. Honestly, what better place for two competitive people? Depending on their energy levels after a busy day, they can keep the momentum going with go-karts or wind down with a casual game of mini-golf. (My money’s on Charlie!) Round out the night with some ice cream nearby. (There’s ice cream at this fictional fun center. What fun center DOESN’T have ice cream? That would be a crime.)

So what do you think? Great set-up for Charlie and Braden? Anything else you would throw in or change? I think they’d have a blast on this mega-date day!

 

And please don’t forget to check out the features from the other ladies in The Selective Collective! We each have a post to feature a different side of ON THE FENCE so please go visit their take on the book as well!

Tee @ YA Crush  Interview with Kasie West + Giveaway
Candice @ The Grown-Up YA  Review: On the Fence
Diana & Sandie @ Teen Lit Rocks  From Page to Screen
Daphne & Kristina @ Gone Pecan  Roundtable: On the Fence

 

 

Interview with WE WERE LIARS author, E. Lockhart

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INTERVIEW WITH E. LOCKHART, AUTHOR OF WE WERE LIARS

This May, The Selective Collective featured WE WERE LIARS and we had so much fun featuring the book and sharing it with everyone! Usually we have a Q&A that goes along with our feature but with a few of our members attending BEA and E. Lockhart herself attending the conference and other fabulous events, we had a hard time coordinating our schedules for a Q&A. We did still want to feature the Q&A and share the fantastic interview so voila! A whole post dedicated to do just that. We all really still wanted to share this with everyone so we thought better late than never!

WE WERE LIARS takes place over several summers so we think it’s a great book to pick up this summer (or any, for that matter!) — Here’s a little more info about the book to help clue you in:

We Were LiarsPublishing Info: May 13th 2014 by Delacorte Press
Source: Copies provided to us by Random House for review and use for the Selective Collective promotions!

Book Synopsis: A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.
We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from National Book Award finalist and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart.
Read it.
And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE
.
 — From Goodreads.com

INTERVIEW WITH E. LOCKHART

Without further ado, let’s get on with the interview! 🙂

Selective Collective: We Were Liars is a very different book than your previous works.  How did you end up with the inspiration to write Cady’s story?  Was it a long time coming or a random inspiration?
E. Lockhart: We Were Liars is different from my other novels because it’s more dramatic than comic, and because there’s a twisty mystery element to it — but it’s the same in that all my books are about the inside of someone’s head. I write fiction, in part, to understand the human mind a little better.

SC: Cadence suffers memory loss from after the “incident” during her fifteenth summer and we the readers only figure out the pieces bit by bit as she does.  Was it hard to arrange the timing of the reveals?
EL: Absolutely. A suspense novel requires a lot more careful structuring than a comedy. I used the word-processing program Scrivener, which allows a writer to see a kind-of birds-eye view of a book’s plot. I rearranged the story many times before I found a structure that worked well.

SC: The Sinclair family dynamic is a rocky one even for the blood relatives, but ever since he was first introduced to the family, Gat had a terrible time being accepted as the outsider in many different ways.  Was there a deeper meaning to the way the Sinclairs reacted to Gat’s recurring presence every summer?
EL: Racism and class prejudice run deep beneath the surface sometimes. People believe themselves unprejudiced, but that’s just a story they tell themselves. Eventually, the truth outs. I was interested in Gat as a love interest and as a catalyst for the stuff that happens on the island. He is such a strong character, so ambitious and ardent and still so conflicted.

SC: We Were Liars features several literary references, including Shakespeare’s King Lear.  What motivated you to pay tribute to the classic tragedy?
EL: There are only so many plots in the world. “A quest.” “A monster.” “A stranger comes to town.” Then there’s:   “Once upon a time there were three sisters, but only one of them was good.” That’s a familiar one, yes? King Lear, Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast. I was interested in that plot, and the many ways it gets told and retold.   Family is a universal. Competition between siblings is a universal, too.
Of course, We Were Liars is also a variation on “a stranger comes to town.”

SC: We appreciated the multicultural romance in the book, because it’s not always handled in such an authentic, mature manner.  What are your thoughts on diversity in YA, and how to you approach writing characters that come from different cultures than your own?
EL: I have written characters whose race and gender and cultural background differ from my own in every book I have ever written. I must, because I am locked into only my own single existence and the books have multiple characters.
Gat in We Were Liars is unlike me because he is an Indian-American young man, but he is very much like me in his New York City home life, his middle-class upbringing, his intellectual curiosity, his anger and his position as an outsider in a privileged environment.
Cadence in We Were Liars is unlike me because she is rich and entitled and suffers chronic pain of a type I have never experienced, but she is like me in being an only child of a single mother, an ardent reader of fairy tales, and a white woman. It is, you see, not so very different to write Gat than to write Cadence.
It is important that books for young readers reflect the world in all its diversity, because one of the jobs that books do is to validate and reflect human experience. It is powerful and empowering to see oneself represented. But that is not all books do: they encourage empathy with people very different from ourselves, they encourage critical thinking, they are inspiring, they are entertaining, they are, sometimes, nothing more than a pleasant way to escape one’s everyday life.

SC: Your book is difficult to discuss without giving important plot points away — how wary are you of spoilers with this book compared to your others?
EL: The readers of We Were Liars have been amazing. Everyone keeps the secret and just shoves the book at other people, saying: “take my word for it — just read it. I won’t tell you any more about it.”
I think that kind of sharing is part of the pleasure of reading and filmgoing — and of doing so in a community. No one spoiled Allegiant for me. No one spoiled Shutter Island. Or Memento. Or The Sixth Sense or The Hunger Games. Everyone knows the fun is in the discovery.

A huge thanks to E. Lockhart for the interview and her participation in this Selective Collective feature! The answers were amazing and I always love how an interview really brings a book to life even more!

And don’t forget to check out the features from when we featured WE WERE LIARS back in May!

Tee @ YA Crush  Roundtable
Candice @ The Grown-Up YA  From Page to Screen
Diana & Sandie @ Teen Lit Rocks  Review
Daphne & Kristina @ Gone Pecan  “The Long Con” 

 

 

The Selective Collective features #scandal: Round Table

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The Selective Collective reads #SCANDAL by SARAH OCKLER

The Selective Collective features #SCANDAL by SARAH OCKLER provided to us by SimonTeen for review and use in The Selective Collective feature!

For my part in this Selective Collective post, I got to ask some questions to the ladies of the Selective Collective and we had a lot to say regarding some of the major themes in #SCANDAL! This book sure raised a lot of questions about a lot of things, and we really had a great time digging into some serious topics!

Before we jump in, here’s a little info on the book:

#scandal sarah ocklerPublishing Info: June 17th 2014 by Simon Pulse
Source: Physical ARC provided to us by Simon Teen for review and use for the Selective Collective promotions

Book Synopsis: Lucy’s learned some important lessons from tabloid darling Jayla Heart’s all-too-public blunders: Avoid the spotlight, don’t feed the Internet trolls, and keep your secrets secret. The policy has served Lucy well all through high school, so when her best friend Ellie gets sick before prom and begs her to step in as Cole’s date, she accepts with a smile, silencing about ten different reservations. Like the one where she’d rather stay home shredding online zombies. And the one where she hates playing dress-up. And especially the one where she’s been secretly in love with Cole since the dawn of time.
When Cole surprises her at the after party with a kiss under the stars, it’s everything Lucy has ever dreamed of… and the biggest BFF deal-breaker ever. Despite Cole’s lingering sweetness, Lucy knows they’ll have to ’fess up to Ellie. But before they get the chance, Lucy’s own Facebook profile mysteriously explodes with compromising pics of her and Cole, along with tons of other students’ party indiscretions. Tagged. Liked. And furiously viral.
By Monday morning, Lucy’s been branded a slut, a backstabber, and a narc, mired in a tabloid-worthy scandal just weeks before graduation.
Lucy’s been battling undead masses online long enough to know there’s only one way to survive a disaster of this magnitude: Stand up and fight. Game plan? Uncover and expose the Facebook hacker, win back her best friend’s trust, and graduate with a clean slate.
There’s just one snag—Cole. Turns out Lucy’s not the only one who’s been harboring unrequited love…
From Goodreads

ROUND TABLE: Chatting with The Selective Collective about #SCANDAL!

One of the things that really shaped #scandal was how each character reacted to the rumors and gossip both about themselves and involving others. If you were in Lucy’s shoes, how would you have handled the situation?
[Daphne // Gone Pecan] In a way, I understand and appreciate the way that Lucy handled the situation, but I was frustrated that she never defended herself. However, I do think that her defending herself may have made the situation worse.  I would have had to defend myself, however futile it would be.  I would also probably have written a long email or letter to Ellie explaining myself so that she would have my side of the story.  There would probably be a lot of flipping off involved, too, to her (my) classmates.  At the stage they were in the school year, right before graduation, I would not have felt the need to lay low and take the abuse.  I will probably not have to see these people again after graduation, so I would not feel the need to play nice.
[Candice // The Grown-Up YA] I’ve never really been the subject of major gossip mongering like this, so I can’t say that I would 100% react this way… but it just seems to me that if I had been a teenager who was basically labeled the school slut because of this situation, I’d probably go to my mom. Yeah, maybe that’s lame, but I think after a while the pressure and insults would be entirely too much for me to handle and I’d eventually break down and go to my mom. Now, as an adult in the situation? I’d probably still go to my mom, ha! But I don’t think the situation can be experienced the same way. As a teenager, it’s a lot harder to escape your situation. You HAVE to go to school Sure, you can change schools, but unless you can go to a private school or convince your school board to let you go to another school, you’re pretty much stuck. As an adult though… you can escape. You aren’t legally required to stay at your job, your church, your neighborhood, your social groups… I think that if I was facing as an adult what Lucy faced, I’d probably just leave. People will believe what they want, no matter what the truth is.

Do you think the strong presence of social media today shares the blame for the rapid spread of not only news but gossip? Should we blame social media or do you think it’s all about how people choose to use it?
[Brittany // The Book Addict’s Guide] Social media is always about how you use it but I do think people need to be careful how much they share. We’re just more in tune to technology nowadays — people always on their phones, always on the internet — and I think it’s only human nature to be drawn to the shocking and the surprising so gossip easily spreads like wild fire. I wouldn’t say social media’s to blame but I think it does help things easily get carried away and it easily fuels rumors or gossip — gossip that isn’t always true as we see in #SCANDAL too. It’s great for sharing with many people at once, keeping in touch with people without always having to directly be in contact with them, and getting general news from the public as well… But with anything, it has its downfalls!
[Candice // The Grown-Up YA] Absofreakinglutely. I don’t think you can put blame on social media because it’s basically like blaming a pen for writing a letter. The pen is not enchanted to write words; you have to pick it up and use it. Same with social media. Social media doesn’t start rumors. People do. I feel like over the recent past we’ve started saying how people are meaner, crueler, more gossiping… I don’t think that’s true at all. I think there are just increasing outlets (ie social media) for hateful and cruel thoughts to be spread. Until we change how we utilize social media, the spread of gossip will only increase.

Have you ever distanced yourself from social media because of drama?
[Sandie // Teen Lit Rocks] Definitely! I was involved pretty heavily in an online group that would often devolve into heated debates and angry “battles” about everything from midwifery to breastfeeding to sleep training to disposable diapers. Many of us were first-time moms who were militant and defensive about every aspect of motherhood, and it seemed every day brought a new round of ugly or passive-aggressive missives. Some of us, 12 years later, are still close or at the very least Facebook friends, but many relationships fractured or ended completely. I stopped posting as much in the mid 2000s after my second child was born, and I no longer had the tolerance or the need for the drama.

In times of crises, people’s true colors can really start to show. What do you think Lucy learned about herself? Her family? Her friends?
[Brittany // The Book Addict’s Guide] I was actually kind of upset with how Lucy handled the situation! I mean, I’m not the kind of person who usually stands up for myself or tackles confrontation and issues head on — let’s be honest. But I expected Lucy to really take action and not just be okay with taking the blame for things. I really wanted her to make sure that people knew she wasn’t really responsible for everything that happened. I also felt like her sister could have helped way more. I was thinking she would grow out of her TV star/spoiled brat phase with Lucy’s crisis and really act like a big sister should and stand up for her little sister… She DID but it wasn’t really the way I was expecting and I guess I just expected her to be more protective. I really was upset with her friends too. If I was Lucy, I’d be dumping some friends supersuperfast. Few people seemed to have her back BUT we also saw some whose true colors really shined when Lucy really needed someone to lean on.

Were you surprised by how Lucy’s friends and peers handled the scandal situation? Do you think the amount of bullying is on the rise?
[Daphne // Gone Pecan] I didn’t understand how the best friend reacted.  If I were in her shoes, I would have wanted to have Lucy’s side of the story.  Sure, the photos were damning evidence, but I wouldn’t have been able to cut her off.  I would have had to have a discussion with Lucy, especially considering what I know about Ellie & Cole’s relationship.  It breaks my heart that the girls were so hard on Lucy and contributed to the gossip & bullying of her.  The whole mob mentality of bullying is most worrying.  People going along with out any real notion of the truth just to join in on the fun of collective bullying.  I don’t know if bullying is on the rise or that it’s just more visible because of social media and the unfortunate rise of bullying-induced suicide.  I do remember bullying being pretty common when I was going to school, but social media does play a part.  It’s very frightening.  My 7 yo is very well versed in bullying because it has become an important cause that the school system has taken up, but I honestly don’t know if it is helping the situation.

Is there anything you think children, parents, or public can do to try to prevent events like this from occurring? (Educating your kids on bullying? Restricting/monitoring social media/phone/internet usage? Staying more active in a child’s life? Stepping in when things go too far?) 
[Sandie // Teen Lit Rocks] I think parents need to take an active role in managing the way their children/teens engage in social media. Parents should be “silent friends” on all of their kids’ social media accounts — monitoring but not necessarily outing or posting or embarrassing their children. Parents should also make sure to explain their family “rules” about sharing photos and personal information online. Parents need to have these uncomfortable but necessary conversations with their kids. Personally, I’m keeping my kids off of social media for as long as I can. I’ve known or read about too many avoidable situations, all because parents weren’t really aware of what their teens (or even tweens!) were doing online or on various social media site or apps.
[Candice // The Grown-Up YA] I’m not a parent, so I can’t say “Well if parents would do this…” in response to this question. However, I think we as a society place too much emphasis on social media/modern technology and less emphasis on healthy relationship building; relationships are more than Twitter and texting and Facebook, especially during our formative years. Even children at extremely young ages have Facebook pages – my younger cousin had one in 3rd grade! Very young kids are made aware of things (Hollywood scandals, scathing online discussions, etc.) that are way too adult for them. I don’t believe it’s a lack of parenting, as so many people are quick to say, but that our generation – the generation that is raising kids right now – has been brought up in a similar society where online bullying, social media, Internet, etc. is the norm. I don’t believe it was QUITE as bad 10-15 years ago (mostly because there weren’t as many platforms and AOL charged by the minute), but it still existed. I think it’s only in recent years that we’re seeing the full effects. I think we, as adults, should do all we can to educate younger generations on how to treat others and how to have healthy relationships with others. We shouldn’t be afraid to step in and be the bad guy if it has a positive outcome – the principal in this book comes to mind (who I felt was terrible, btw). We should be active in kids’ lives, whether through parenting, as older relatives, coaches, teachers, mentors, whatever. Times are changing, yes, but there’s no reason we as a society have to let everything go to pot. Reading #scandal as an adult was hard for me because my first thought was “Where are the parents?! Where are the teachers?! What is with this principal?!” I give young people quite a lot of credit because I know they are capable of so many amazing things, but I think we sometimes forget that they’re still children who NEED to be monitored and supervised. Yes, give them freedom, but there needs to be boundaries.

And please don’t forget to check out the features from the other ladies in The Selective Collective! We each have a post to feature a different side of #SCANDAL so please go visit their take on the book as well!

Tee @ YA Crush  Review: #scandal
Candice @ The Grown-Up YA  Author profile + giveaway!
Diana & Sandie @ Teen Lit Rocks  #scandal & Unrequited Love
Daphne & Kristina @ Gone Pecan  From Page to Screen

 

 

The Selective Collective features WE WERE LIARS: Two Truths and a Lie + Giveaway

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The Selective Collective reads WE WERE LIARS by E. LOCKHART!

The Selective Collective features WE WERE LIARS by E. LOCKHART provided to us by Random House for review and use in The Selective Collective feature!

Before we jump in, here’s a little info on the book:

We Were LiarsPublishing Info: May 13th 2014 by Delacorte Press
Source: Copies provided to us by Random House for review and use for the Selective Collective promotions!

Book Synopsis: A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.
We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from National Book Award finalist and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart.
Read it.
And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE
.
 — From Goodreads.com

TWO TRUTHS AND ONE LIE

For today’s post, I thought it would be fun to play a little game of “two truths and a lie”! Don’t worry, these questions are all for fun. There IS a giveaway later but your answers have no bearing on your entries in the giveaway!

#1: I live in Illinois. // I’ve never lived out of state. // I moved to Illinois when I was two years old.

#2: I’m afraid of snakes. // I’m afraid of heights. // I’m afraid of letting people down.

#3: I have a large extended family. // I have an older brother. // I have an older sister.

#4: In high school I… was in choir // was in plays & musicals // was in band.

#5: I’ve never been to… Maine // California // Washington

#6: I got engaged in… August // my new house // a restaurant

#7: My favorite genres to read are… horror // fantasy // contemporary

#8: I started my blog because… I wanted a place to review books // I already had a base of people who said they’d read it // I became obsessed with Goodreads

#9: I’ve been able to cross-off meeting ____ from my bookish bucket list: Marissa Meyer // Leigh Bardugo // Gayle Forman

#10: I still dream to… write a book // go back to school // open an Etsy store

Want to see how you did? Check out the answer guide & let me know!

 

GIVEAWAY

We also have a giveaway! One lucky winner will win a copy of WE WERE LIARS!
Sorry, this is for US entries only. Please use the Rafflecopter form below to enter! The giveaway will be open for one week.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

And please don’t forget to check out the features from the other ladies in The Selective Collective! We each have a post to feature a different side of WE WERE LIARS so please go visit their take on the book as well!

Tee @ YA Crush  Roundtable
Candice @ The Grown-Up YA  From Page to Screen
Diana & Sandie @ Teen Lit Rocks  Review
Daphne & Kristina @ Gone Pecan  “The Long Con” 

 

 

The Selective Collective features THE CHAPEL WARS: Page to Screen

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The Selective Collective reads THE CHAPEL WARS by LINDSEY LEAVITT

The Selective Collective features THE CHAPEL WARS by LINDSEY LEAVITT provided to us by Bloomsbury for review and use in The Selective Collective feature!

For my part in this Selective Collective post, I’m bringing the book to life on the big screen! Well, how I envision it at least. My part today is FROM PAGE TO SCREEN — I’m bringing to life the characters, the setting, and the visual aspects of how it could be adapted into a movie all straight from my imagination!

Before we start fan casting, let’s learn a bit more about the book!

The Chapel WarsPublishing Info: May 6th 2014 by Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Source: Physical ARC provided by Bloomsbury – Thank you!!
Genre: Contemporary (YA)
POV: First Person (Holly)
Find It Online: Goodreads || Amazon || B&N

Sixteen-year-old Holly wants to remember her Grandpa forever, but she’d rather forget what he left her in his will: his wedding chapel on the Las Vegas strip. Whatever happened to gold watches, savings bonds, or some normal inheritance?
And then there’s Grandpa’s letter. Not only is she running the business with her recently divorced parents, but she needs to make some serious money–fast. Grandpa also insists Holly reach out to Dax, the grandson of her family’s mortal enemy and owner of the cheesy chapel next door. No matter how cute Dax is, Holly needs to stay focused: on her group of guy friends, her disjointed family, work, school and… Dax. No wait, not Dax.
Holly’s chapel represents everything she’s ever loved in her past. Dax might be everything she could ever love in the future. But as for right now, there’s a wedding chapel to save.” — From Goodreads

Bringing THE CHAPEL WARS from PAGE TO SCREEN…

What would be the best adaptation? I think this would definitely be a great movie! It has all of the fun of a movie adaptation and would be a blast to see on the big screen! Definitely in the realm of “chick flicks” but for a younger audience as well.

ON THE SET: LAS VEGAS

Fortunately, I’ve been to Las Vegas so I had a ton of fun placing myself on-set (so to speak)! There are a ton of great places mentioned in the novel!

THE FOUNTAINS AT THE BELLAGIO
Mention of the fountains + a bonus Ocean’s 11 reference = one happy Brittany!

No where else but in Vegas can you get this view of the fountains and the Bellagio! In order to shoot these scenes, we must be on site! (These are also my personal photos from my Vegas trip! Enjoy!)

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Bonus picture of my friend Kristin and me in front of the fountains!

STRATOSPHERE HOTEL

We never made it to the Stratosphere Hotel (and I didn’t take a photo from a far) but it comes into play in THE CHAPEL WARS! Definitely visually dynamic and a really interesting and exciting place!

Source: Trip Advisor

THE ROSE OF SHARON CHAPEL

The Rose of Sharon is Holly’s family’s wedding chapel. It’s a little bit off the strip, and across the street from another chapel (also the rival!) — I pictured it being more elegant and less flashy… something like this!

Source: www.weddingslasvegas.com-

CASTING CALL: THE CHAPEL WARS

Holly: Sami Gayle
You may have seen her in… Vampire Academy, Blue Bloods, Noah
Holly is rockin’ the pixie cut in The Chapel Wars and I can totally see Sami Gayle in the role of Holly! Of course, I didn’t have to pick someone with a pixie cut for her role, but it does just kind of go well! She’s a cute girl and sometimes ends up hanging out with the boys (she has an AWESOME group of guy friends) so that tends to intimidate some of her potential love interests. She’s also really smart (another intimidation factor)! Pixie or not, I can totally see Sami pulling this role off! What do you think? Battle of the pixies? Do you like Sami for a good Holly or do you prefer a different gal rockin’ the pixie cut?

Kai: Diego Boneta
You may have seen him in… Pretty Little Liars, 90210, Mean Girls 2, Rock of Ages
Thanks to Kristina from Gone Pecan for helping me out on this one! I haven’t seen anything Diego Boneta is in but maaaybe I will make a point to. He fits perfectly for Dax’s half-Hispanic heritage and also carries that swagger that Dax seems to exude! Love this choice for Holly’s new forbidden romance!

And please don’t forget to check out the features from the other ladies in The Selective Collective! We each have a post to feature a different side of THE CHAPEL WARS so please go visit their take on the book as well!

Tee @ YA Crush  Freebie
Candice @ The Grown-Up YA  Round Table: The Chapel Wars
Diana & Sandie @ Teen Lit Rocks  Author Q&A with Lindsey Leavitt + Giveaway
Daphne & Kristina @ Gone Pecan  Review: The Chapel Wars

 

 

The Winner’s Curse (The Winner’s Curse #1) by Marie Rutkoski

The Winner’s Curse (The Winner’s Curse #1) by Marie RutkoskiTitle: The Winner's Curse (The Winner's Curse #1) by Marie Rutkoski
Publishing Info: March 4, 2014 by Macmillan
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: February 13, 2014
Related Posts: The Winner's Crime (The Winner's Curse #2), The Winner's Kiss (The Winner's Trilogy #3)

    As a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions.
    One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction. Arin’s eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him—with unexpected consequences. It’s not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin.
    But he, too, has a secret, and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for a fellow human is much higher than she ever could have imagined. 
    Set in a richly imagined new world, The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski is a story of deadly games where everything is at stake, and the gamble is whether you will keep your head or lose your heart.

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THE WINNER’S CURSE is easily one of the most-anticipated reads of 2014 so far… And it’s only March! I have to say, I can easily see why there was so much excitement for the new fantasy series from Marie Rutkoski. Just nine pages in and I was already getting a feel for this colorful and history-rich fantasy world (and had a few things feel reminiscent of A Song of Ice and Fire!) so I knew I was going to easily fall into the setting of this book.

This book TOYED with my emotions but definitely in a good way. I was intrigued right off the bat, but admittedly, with all of the hype I found myself waiting all-too anxiously to see where this story would go. I wanted to blame hype for that, which it really did factor in to my nervous anticipation a little bit, but sometimes with fantasy I just find myself too impatient in the beginning when everything is getting laid out because I KNOW things are about to go down and I just cannot wait to see what they are. I feel like their was a fair amount of world-building towards the beginning as we get to know Kestrel and Arin as well as the fantastic world created here, but I was so hungry for more information that it was hard to push all my questions and theories aside!

The beginning was definitely captivating, but the middle and the end just simply blew me away. I felt like every time a situation presented itself, I totally got knocked over with the directions the story took. Each conflict had so many possible outcomes and I was never quite sure in which direction the story would go and somehow it always ended up being the thing I least expected! I was truly impressed with Marie Rutkoski’s ability employ plot twists and keep the reader on their toes because I felt like I never knew exactly what was going to happen — and as soon as we hit that roller coaster, the book was on an unstoppable path of back-to-back-to-back surprises!

I really came to love both of the main characters. I loved Kestrel’s ferocity and of course I can’t resist Arin’s strong, silent, smoldering personality. I felt like they both played off of each other really well too. It took me a while to fall into the groove of the romance but there came a certain point where I was totally hooked. A forbidden romance… It just kills me every time. I really loved the relationship that Kestrel and Arin ended up building but in a way, I wish it had been built up just a bit more.  I still loved their romance and it broke my heart and put it back together many times, but sometimes in a non-contemporary setting (even in contemporary too), I need just a tiiiiny bit more of establishing that relationship before I fall in love with. That’s just the most minor of concerns though because I really did fall in love with this romance too!

Marie Rutkoski’s writing was just beautiful. She has a fantastic knack for stringing words and sentences together so melodically that the prose just sang to me (which intentional or not for the music theme throughout the book, I don’t know but it totally seemed to fit perfectly). The book was just such a pleasure to read and as well as the prose, the plot seemed to flow incredibly well too. I think one of the only other (minor) qualms that I had was that I was so, so anxious to learn so much more about this amazing world that Marie Rutkoski had created and I felt like I didn’t see a lot of the history until much closer to the end when we got more into the war games and politics. Then again, often times world-building is something I can never get enough of!

THE WINNER’S CURSE was a fantastic first installment in this new fantasy series from Marie Rutkoski. As soon as I finished, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on book two…. Which was a shame since technically book one wasn’t even out yet!! This is definitely a thrilling and captivating read and you can bet I’m in this series for the long haul!

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Kestrel // Character Obsessions: War, fighting, love, honor, piano.
I loved Kestrel’s strength, courage, and determination. When forced with the decision to either fight in her father’s army or choose a man to marry, Kestrel wants to do neither and is (not quite hopelessly) caught in the middle. This story starts off with Kestrel purchasing Arin as a slave at the auction in town and… she’s really not 100% sure why she did it. She was quite a puzzle to figure out and I really enjoyed getting to know her character as the story progressed.
Arin // Character Obsessions: Obeying Kestrel, war, strategy, motives.
Arin was even harder to figure out than Kestrel… and I LOVED that. There were so many different things going on with Arin at all times and it took a while for the reader to also be clued in as to what those things were. I loved his air of mystery as well as his passion which usually lingered beneath the surface.

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Kept Me Hooked On: High fantasy. Sigh. I just love high fantasy. I love the setting, I love the character development, I love the world building. I love the war, the fighting, the history. I love the romance, betrayal, deception. IT’S JUST SO GOOD.
Left Me Wanting More: Early reveals. I didn’t want everything to be given away in the beginning of the book, but I always appreciate a few little clues or reveals or MOMENTS in the beginning. I won’t say it was a “slow” ending, but it did take a while to pick up for me.

Addiction Rating
Read it!

I think this is going to be a fantastic series and I am so excited to keep reading it. From start to finish I was definitely captivated and with that ending… I honestly just need book two as soon as humanly possible. (No pressure, Marie.)

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BOOKS LIKE THE WINNER’S CURSE

(Click the cover to see my review!)

A Game of Thrones     Graceling


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I read this book along with my other friends in The Selective Collective for our monthly read along! Check out their posts featuring the book below!

Tee @ YA Crush  Casting Call: The Winner’s Curse
Candice @ The Grown-Up YA  Freebie
Diana & Sandie @ Teen Lit Rocks  Roundtable: The Winner’s Curse
Daphne & Kristina @ Gone Pecan  Interview with Marie Rutkoski + Giveaway!

 

 

The Selective Collective features BETTER OFF FRIENDS: “Boy Friend” vs Boyfriend

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The Selective Collective reads BETTER OFF FRIENDS by ELIZABETH EULBERG!

The Selective Collective features BETTER OFF FRIENDS by ELIZABETH EULBERG provided to us by Scholastic for review and use in The Selective Collective feature!

For my part in this Selective Collective post, I had the fun freebie post and instantly, I knew I could relate to BETTER OFF FRIENDS! The story takes place in Wisconsin, not too far from Milwaukee and although I’m not from Wisconsin (I’m a Chicago suburbanite… probably much to Macallan’s dismay!), the Midwest charm of the book absolutely pulled me in and I could see little pieces of my own childhood and high school life in the book.

Before we jump in, here’s a little info on the book:

Better Off FriendsPublishing Info: February 25th 2014 by Point
Source: Physical ARC provided to us by Scholastic for review and use for the Selective Collective promotions

Book Synopsis: For Macallan and Levi, it was friends at first sight. Everyone says guys and girls can’t be just friends, but these two are. They hang out after school, share tons of inside jokes, their families are super close, and Levi even starts dating one of Macallan’s friends. They are platonic and happy that way.
    Eventually they realize they’re best friends — which wouldn’t be so bad if they didn’t keep getting in each other’s way. Guys won’t ask Macallan out because they think she’s with Levi, and Levi spends too much time joking around with Macallan, and maybe not enough time with his date. They can’t help but wonder . . . are they more than friends or are they better off without making it even more complicated?
    From romantic comedy superstar Elizabeth Eulberg comes a fresh, fun examination of a question for the ages: Can guys and girls ever really be just friends? Or are they always one fight away from not speaking again — and one kiss away from true love? — From Goodreads.com

BETTER OFF FRIENDS: “BOY FRIEND” VS BOYFRIEND

Freshman year Homecoming (2001)

Like Macallan, I had a male best friend growing up. It was my next door neighbor Steve which was pretty perfect that we were the same age because it was a great way to assimilate into the neighborhood when we moved there the summer before third (or was it fourth?) grade. I was pretty shy at first but before long, we were hanging out all the time, year round, sun, rain, or snow.

There were a lot of things that were cool about Steve. He knew all the guys in the neighborhood and it was the first time I really hung out with the boys. I went to a Catholic grade school so my class consisted of anywhere between 20-30 kids, usually hovering somewhere around 25 from pre-school all the way to eighth grade so getting to hang out with the public school kids was kind of a silly little thrill! I got to brag and said I knew kids from the public school (that was always something to be jealous of!) and we had a group of boys to hang around and bother when we wanted to be silly girls. But most importantly, Steve was my best friend.

There’s always that awkward best friend/more-than-friends zone. For us, it happened early on in our friendship (well, I guess as early as it can when you meet when you’re eight years old) and we started that awkward “I think we like each other” phase in sixth grade. We started “dating” when we were twelve and nothing much really changed except for the fact that we got little butterflies, held hands when we went on our walks around the block (and got teased by a random passer-by in the neighborhood), and Valentine’s Day became an actual event. (He got me a necklace with my birthstone which I actually still have today.) I even got to go to his Bar Mitzvah as his girlfriend which was a pretty awesome thing! (And again, hang out with the public school kids!) We even had “our song” that we danced to at the Bar Mitzvah. (It was “Back at One” by Brian McKnight in case you were wondering.)

High school graduation (2005)

We finally had our first kiss after months of dating. It was New Year’s Eve 1999 and probably sometime around 8pm. I came out in my pajama pants and we just hung out for a while outside (Yes, we often hung out outside in the winter. It was just what we did. As an adult, I don’t know how we could stand the cold!) and I think we had even talked about what was going to go down that night (In my head, I picture us texting which obviously isn’t right. We must have talked on the phone.) because I remember being so nervous going outside to meet him. We kissed on the side of his house very quickly, both of us extremely nervous and history was made. My first kiss!

The relationship lasted eleven months which seems like a really long time for a couple of twelve and thirteen-year-olds but I guess when your relationship consists of hand-holding and one kiss, there’s not much at risk! We broke up in seventh grade (which I think was my doing… oops) and it was really hard to be around each other for a while. I avoided him for probably a week and then eventually got over myself and we resumed our care-free friendship.

My 21st birthday

We hung out all the time and he was my sort of transition from Catholic school to public school when I started at the local public high school freshman year. I relied on him heavily and pretty much the only people I knew were kids from the neighborhood! It didn’t take long to make friends in high school but I always had Steve to hang out with and it was a special bonus when we had classes together. It was a relief to have him in my Honors English class freshman year so I already knew a friendly face and again when we had Geometry together sophomore year!

Like Macallan and Levi, we actually went to Homecoming together freshman year! We were both single and I barely knew anyone when we started high school so it was kind of perfect for us to go together. I really can’t remember how the dance went but I think I was a bad date! Half of the high school dances run together, but I think that was a time where I spent more time with my friends than my date.

We had a couple run-ins where the “feelings” started to come back which made for some awkward note-passing times in Geometry but I tried to pretend that didn’t happen because I loved my best friend but I didn’t have the “feelings” back! Ever since then, we still stayed friends. We’ve always had our own inside jokes, nicknames for each other, and hung out all the time — both at school and at home — so like Macallan and Levi, we also had those moments where people would say, “Why don’t you just date already?” The thing was in our situation, we could actually say, “Been there! Done that!” We were good friends all throughout high school although we drifted just a bit since we developed our own interests, had different extra curriculars and formed friend groups outside of our neighborhood gang. I even visited Steve a few times when we were both in college and we’re still friends today, although we don’t really talk as much. He’s in graduate school in West Virginia so we rarely talk anymore but we still hang out when he has the rare opportunity to come back home!

My story isn’t exactly like Macallan and Levi’s but I could surely relate and it was fun having that kind of connection to BETTER OFF FRIENDS! Do you have a “best boy friend”? Did that ever turn into a relationship or were you truly “better off friends?” I’d love to hear your own stories in the comments!!

And please don’t forget to check out the features from the other ladies in The Selective Collective! We each have a post to feature a different side of BETTER OFF FRIENDS so please go visit their take on the book as well!

Tee @ YA Crush  Author Q&A and Giveaway!
Candice @ The Grown-Up YA  Review: Better Off Friends
Diana & Sandie @ Teen Lit Rocks  Casting Call: Better Off Friends
Daphne & Kristina @ Gone Pecan  Round Table: Better Off Friends

 

 

The Selective Collective features Being Sloane Jacobs: Round Table

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The Selective Collective reads BEING SLOANE JACOBS by LAUREN MORRILL

The Selective Collective features BEING SLOANE JACOBS by LAUREN MORRILL provided to us by Random House for review and use in The Selective Collective feature!

For my part in this Selective Collective post, I got to ask some questions to the ladies of the Selective Collective and we talked about some main themes of BEING SLOANE JACOBS!

Before we jump in, here’s a little info on the book:

Being Sloane JacobsPublishing Info: January 7th 2014 by Delacorte
Source: Physical ARC provided to us by Random House for review and use for the Selective Collective promotions

Book Synopsis: Meet Sloane Emily Jacobs: a seriously stressed-out figure-skater from Washington, D.C., who choked during junior nationals and isn’t sure she’s ready for a comeback. What she does know is that she’d give anything to escape the mass of misery that is her life.
    Now meet Sloane Devon Jacobs, a spunky ice hockey player from Philly who’s been suspended from her team for too many aggressive hip checks. Her punishment? Hockey camp, now, when she’s playing the worst she’s ever played. If she messes up? Her life will be over.
    When the two Sloanes meet by chance in Montreal and decide to trade places for the summer, each girl thinks she’s the lucky one: no strangers to judge or laugh at Sloane Emily, no scouts expecting Sloane Devon to be a hero. But it didn’t occur to Sloane E. that while avoiding sequins and axels she might meet a hockey hottie—and Sloane D. never expected to run into a familiar (and very good-looking) face from home. It’s not long before the Sloanes discover that convincing people you’re someone else might be more difficult than being yourself. — From Goodreads.com

ROUND TABLE: Chatting with The Selective Collective about BEING SLOANE JACOBS!

If you were to choose one of the Sloane’s sports to attempt to learn for the first time, which would you choose? Figure skating or ice hockey?
[Kristina – Gone Pecan] Ice hockey without a doubt.  I absolutely love to watch figure skating but ice hockey is like roller derby, a sport where you can hit your opponents and sometimes get away with it.  Not only that but I love when people go against the norm.  Girls don’t generally play ice hockey and if someone ever tells me I can’t do something because I’m a girl, etc I usually set our to prove them wrong.  (I mean if I REALLY don’t want to do it I don’t care what they say ya know?) I know its just a game and all but when you are losing or not performing at your peak I get that frustration so I understand the want to body check someone. 😛
[Candice – The Grown-Up YA] Oh, hands down ice skating! I’ve loved it every since I was little and, even though I can barely stand up in ice skates, always imagined how awesome it would be to be a figure skater. As a little girl I remember watching it and thinking how cool the skaters were, doing jumps and twirls and flips. And there’s always so much DRAMA – Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding were THE STORY when I was younger. But I think what I love most about it isn’t just that it’s pretty; it’s that there’s real training involved. I love that it combines so many different aspects and that everything has to be spot on to win. One tiny misstep can destroy a career. And while I don’t know if I could handle that amount of pressure, I certainly would love to try!
[Daphne – Gone Pecan] I am very much not athletic.  Plus I’m a klutz.  So, if I had to choose, I would definitely choose hockey, since there’s all the padding and there are teammates who would take the heat and pressure off.

Both girls have issues with nerves when it comes down to the wire in their respective sports. What types of things do you do to get your nerves under control in a high-stress situation?  
[Candice – The Grown-Up YA] Does having a total melt down in a stall in the ladies’ room count? No? Hm… cause that’s typically what I do. Maybe not the BEST, but I feel that going to a secluded spot – be it the stall in the ladies’ room, a storage closet, under my desk, wherever – and letting myself have the meltdown is the best way for me to gain control in a high stress situation. Sometimes I feel that I don’t let myself acknowledge my feelings or stress and try to push them down. It just ends up exploding all over the place and that’s not cool my friends. So for me, I think letting myself acknowledge the fact that I’m stressed does wonders to help calm my nerves and let me take control of the situation before those nerves cause me to completely lose it.

Sloane Emily has some tough family issues, mostly surrounding her parents, but she also has her brother who is the most supportive of her in her family. Do you have a relative or family member that you have a special relationship with?  
[Sandie – Teen Lit Rocks] I love both of my brothers and consider all four of us to be really close siblings, but my sister and I have a special sisterly bond. She’s 12 years older than I, so we never had that awkward fighting and competitive relationship that’s so common among close-in-age siblings. When I was little, she was like a second, much cooler mom, and then when I got older, she transitioned to becoming my very best friend. Although we have both been blessed with fabulous female friends, she is the one person I would call (sometimes, depending on the topic and situation, even before my husband) to share a joy or hurt with or to discuss something important. She’s unconditionally supportive and encouraging of my career, my parenting, and my personhood. I know she wishes the best for me, and in the absence of living parents, she is my steadfast, most secure connection to our extended family. I don’t think I would be the woman I am without my sister’s guiding and loving presence.
[Tee – YA Crush] I don’t have siblings, and as much as I longed for a brother or sister and believed that my life would be perfect with that addition, I have two people in my family who I tend to go to, overall, with everything (I think I talk with each of them about different things). The most obvious is my husband, of course, who was a dear, closer than close friend to me long before we ever dated and whose opinion and point of view I have complete faith in and total respect for. But of course, he’s a boy. Even if he’s a man, he’s a boy and boys just see the world differently. The person I go to for pretty much everything (sometimes it seems it would be more often than my hubby) is my mom. She is a rock, a loving, funny, insurmountable force in my life, as much now as she was when I was a child–not because she’s a meddler or anything like that (quite the opposite), but because now, as an adult, as a wife, and as a mom, I get it. I see what a wealth of knowledge she has about life and love and I finally understand that the information she gives, the wisdom she shares, is all given freely from the perspective of someone who has my best interests at heart. That’s always been the case, yes, but I guess that didn’t really sink in until I grew up.

Have you ever had a mix-up with someone who had the same name as you? Or if not, have you ever had an encounter with a look-alike?
[Kristina – Gone Pecan] I actually went to middle and high school with a girl a grade below me that ALMOST had the same name.  We were both Kristinas (mine with a K obvs, her’s with a Ch) and our last names were one letter off.  Every now and then if we were both at the same place we might do a double take when our names where called out but not actual mix ups.  Some people say my sister and I look pretty close minus the hair color.  In fact once she went darker with her hair and someone called her by my name and that wasn’t pretty.  Everyone wants to be themselves and stand out in their own way so I tried to not be too offended. (Just kidding if you are reading this sis!!!)
[Brittany – The Book Addict’s Guide] I actually haven’t met my own look-alike, but my sister SWORE she saw someone who looked just like me at Six Flags and then at one of my old apartments, the maintenance guy was freaked out because he said I looked just like his niece! I would love to meet my doppelgangers because I need to compare and see if I agree! My last name is pretty unique and Italian so I haven’t met anyone with the same name as me, but I did just get an email from a Brittney Smith which made me realize that WOULD be my name once I get married in the fall (well, minus the different spelling) and for some reason that totally weirded me out!
[Sandie – Teen Lit Rocks] Yes! I don’t have a very common maiden name (in terms of Latino last names, it’s not nearly as widespread as Lopez or Rodriguez or Garcia — http://names.mongabay.com/data/hispanic.html), so I was extremely surprised to find out that there was another woman with my exact birth name — roughly around the same age — living in the United States. I found out, because a private investigator and then an attorney called me about 8 years ago asking me all these questions and accusing me of being involved in a very unsavory case about a woman (with my name, unfortunately), who had allegedly had illegal sexual contact with a teenage boy at a summer camp where she was a counselor. While very serious, it was all a bit hilarious to my husband and me, because the alleged events happened in a state I had never been to, and obviously I was not the person in question. I was, however, the first person with my name who popped up when the investigator put the name in search engines. I never did find out what happened to the real person who was being accused, and I’m not sure I want to!
[Daphne – Gone Pecan] Not really, but when googling yourself became a thing, I succumbed to the (nonexistent) peer pressure and googled my name.  My maiden name is very distinctive German name that can be spelled a dozen different ways (and is) and of course, Daphne is not a very popular name.  I did find a woman in New Orleans with the exact same name (and spelling) as me, and she ran marathons.  I loved that.  So if anyone googles my maiden name, they would think I ran marathons.  I’m thinking of having it put on my tombstone.

 

And please don’t forget to check out the features from the other ladies in The Selective Collective! We each have a post to feature a different side of BEING SLOANE JACOBS so please go visit their take on the book as well!

Tee @ YA Crush  Review: Being Sloane Jacobs
Candice @ The Grown-Up YA  Author Q&A + Giveaway!
Diana & Sandie @ Teen Lit Rocks  Identity Swapping
Daphne & Kristina @ Gone Pecan  Being Sloane Jacobs: From Page to Screen

 

 

The Selective Collective features THE PROMISE OF AMAZING: Author Interview & Giveaway!

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The Selective Collective reads THE PROMISE OF AMAZING by ROBIN CONSTANTINE!

The Selective Collective features THE PROMISE OF AMAZING by ROBIN CONSTANTINE provided to us by Harper Teen for review and use in The Selective Collective feature!

For my part in this Selective Collective post, I was fortunate enough to interview author Robin Constantine about her debut novel, THE PROMISE OF AMAZING!

Before we jump in, here’s a little info on the book:

The Promise of AmazingPublishing Info: December 31st 2013 by Balzer + Bray
Source: Physical ARC provided to us by Harper Teen for review and use for the Selective Collective promotions

Book Synopsis: Wren Caswell is average. Ranked in the middle of her class at Sacred Heart, she’s not popular, but not a social misfit. Wren is the quiet, “good” girl who’s always done what she’s supposed to—only now in her junior year, this passive strategy is backfiring. She wants to change, but doesn’t know how.
    Grayson Barrett was the king of St. Gabe’s. Star of the lacrosse team, top of his class, on a fast track to a brilliant future—until he was expelled for being a “term paper pimp.” Now Gray is in a downward spiral and needs to change, but doesn’t know how.
    One fateful night their paths cross when Wren, working at her family’s Arthurian-themed catering hall, performs the Heimlich on Gray as he chokes on a cocktail weenie, saving his life literally and figuratively. What follows is the complicated, awkward, hilarious, and tender tale of two teens shedding their pasts, figuring out who they are—and falling in love. — From Goodreads.com

INTERVIEW WITH ROBIN CONSTANTINE!

Brittany: I’ve heard you have a special “New Jersey Playlist” for the book! How important was the setting to you when writing and forming your characters? 
Robin Constantine: When I began The Promise of Amazing I struggled with what could set it apart.  That old adage – write what you know – kept going through my head.  Well, I know Jersey and wondered what it would be like to write through that filter. So I decided to write the story as if it all took place in my hometown – with little liberties here and there, of course.  It definitely shaped the characters!
Bayonne is the kind of town where generations of people live, so it’s not out of the ordinary to have friends with parents who went to school together.  The high school football game that takes place on Thanksgiving in the book is real too, although I believe its importance has faded over the years and it wasn’t particularly a class struggle as depicted in the book, but it was a social event to “see and be seen” at.  I think the urban setting gives the characters a more street savvy attitude than they would have if say, they lived in a development in the suburbs – especially the boys and the way they talk to each other. It’s also easy to travel by foot in the city and I think the ease with which the characters can get around also gives them freedoms they might not have elsewhere.  All of these factors definitely influenced my writing.
 

B: Wren and Grayson both went to private high schools. Was this an experience you had in your own life? If so, do you think that experience formed you as a person? 
RC: Yes, I went to a small, all-girl Catholic high school – there were a hundred and two girls in my graduating class. I railed against going, but it was tradition in my family and as it turned out many of my friends from elementary school went there too.  I couldn’t stand the idea of being in a school without boys though, but I think ultimately it was a liberating experience.  A part of your brain could just shut off and relax, even though there were still a lot of pressures to fit in, be popular, do well, there was also a lot of camaraderie.   It made me focus on schoolwork more (at least during the school day) and I forged such strong relationships with my friends that continue even today.
I don’t think I was ever really aware of how much my time in high school influenced me as an adult, until I went back this past summer for a multi year reunion.  Graduation was so exciting for me – I wasn’t sad to leave high school, I was psyched to face the future.  I didn’t expect to feel so nostalgic at the reunion, but I did. I even welled up during the alma mater!  Walking down the halls as an adult was such an odd experience – so many memories came flooding back to me.  Some of what I took away from my high school experience was a love of learning (especially English), a sense of discipline and to expect nothing less than the best of myself.
I also realized how much I envisioned The Promise of Amazing taking place in that particular private school setting.  I’d see a certain place in the hallway or cafeteria and think “This is where Wren fights with Ava” “This is where the girls eat lunch” “That’s where Grayson parked when he picked up Wren for the first time”.   It was weird!!
 

B: Alternate ending! (Or beginning I guess!!) Do you think Wren and Grayson would have gotten together had Wren not saved Grayson’s life?  Would Wren have gone on her planned path of trying to work at the Camelot?
RC: Wow, this is a really interesting question!  I would like to think that yes, Wren and Grayson would have gotten together somehow, maybe at a party, or maybe Grayson would have answered a help wanted ad for cater waiters at The Camelot or something.  If they had met under more normal circumstances, their relationship would have evolved at a much slower pace. Maybe an awkward first date (although vomiting on someone’s shoes is pretty awkward) or a trip to the movies, or even going ice skating like they do in the book.  I think the fact that they meet so dramatically, makes everything seem more urgent – they already have a shared intimacy that makes them feel closer.  Wren also has this underlying feeling of responsibility toward Grayson because she saved his life. Without that, I’m not sure she would be so forgiving.  For that matter, if Grayson and Wren met further down the road, I think Grayson’s past wouldn’t be an issue at all.  Hmmm, might have saved them both some pain!
I don’t think Wren would have taken over the family business. She truly only considered it a fallback. If she had taken that path, I think it ultimately would have been unfulfilling for her.
 

B: I loved the Camelot, by the way! How did you come up with the idea for Wren’s family to own an Arthurian-themed restaurant/banquet hall? Was there any special meaning behind King Arthur versus another theme?
RC: Thank you! It’s one of my favorite parts of the story! In the earliest scribbles – Wren worked in a coffee shop.  I think this would have been limiting with what I wanted to do with the story, so when I really starting hashing it out, I changed it to a catering hall.   I worked as a waitress, so I knew the potential for a cast of characters and funny situations was there.  I also liked that The Camelot was a family business, this brought yet another dimension to the story.
I definitely thought about the theme and picked The Camelot for a number of reasons.   First, I picked it for the pure kitsch factor of having a catering hall that could have ballrooms with character names like Lancelot and Guinevere.  I made a timeline of when I thought the Camelot would have originated, I imagined Wren’s great grandfather being totally enamored with the ideals of Camelot – a nod to the Kennedy generation and also to the Arthurian legend itself, and the fact that it represents unlimited potential and tradition.  I really like that by the end of the novel, The Camelot gets reimagined as well. 

B: There’s a lot of focus on academics in The Promise of Amazing, both with Wren and her stress over struggling for the first time and the drama surrounding the reason that Grayson got kicked out of his old school. Was the pressure of academics an intentional theme of the book?
RC: Yes.  I think teenagers face such pressure to succeed and have a well-rounded resume that sometimes the fact that they are still kids gets forgotten. Having gone through it and come out on the other side – you have more of a perspective that you really can ‘bloom where you’re planted’, that not getting into an Ivy League school isn’t going to make or break you, but tell that to a teenager who is going through those pressures and you’d be met with an eye roll for sure.  Everything is monumental.  At that time when you’re trying to figure out what you want to do with the rest of your life, every decision seems paramount.  On the other hand you’re worried about that party on Friday night, or the football game or prom or just that guy or girl you like in your Economics class who hardly knows you exist.  It’s such a volatile time of life and I did want to show that even if your plan isn’t perfect – whatever path you take has potential to be great. 

B: The Promise of Amazing is your debut novel. Had you been working on anything prior to this book or was this the book you always knew you wanted to write?
RC: The Promise of Amazing is the third novel I’ve written.  My first one is collecting dust on my hard drive.  My second novel connected me with my agent and made it as far as an acquisitions meeting but ultimately didn’t sell because it didn’t have a strong enough hook.  When I started writing TPofA, I really did have a “this is it” mindset. Not that I would have stopped writing, but I might have stopped taking it so seriously for a while.  I poured everything into this book – I went though a few rounds of revision with my agent alone – and oddly enough, it’s the most personal book of the three I’ve written, so maybe that had something to do with it getting published.   I adore this story and all the characters (yes, even Luke and Ava), and in many ways it’s a love letter to my sixteen-year old self but I have my eye on this other story…that feels important…now that’s the one I want to write, but I’m still not ready for it yet.  One day! 

Thank you so much for having me on your blog!!!

Thank you SO MUCH, Robin!!! Those were amazingly fantastic answers and it definitely made the book that much more special 🙂 I loved learning more about the book and about your writing process for the story as well!

GIVEAWAY

We also have a giveaway! One lucky winner will win a copy of THE PROMISE OF AMAZING! 
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And please don’t forget to check out the features from the other ladies in The Selective Collective! We each have a post to feature a different side of THE PROMISE OF AMAZING so please go visit their take on the book as well!

Tee @ YA Crush  Roundtable: The Promise of Amazing
Candice @ The Grown-Up YA  Page to Screen: The Promise of Amazing
Diana & Sandie @ Teen Lit Rocks  Review: The Promise of Amazing
Daphne & Kristina @ Gone Pecan  “Ultimate Movie Moments”