Skip to content

First Encounters of an Illuminae Kind!

August 1, 2015
Illuminae (The Illuminae Files, #1)
So this past June I attended the ALA Annual and was walking down Howard Street in San Francisco and you won’t believe what was laying on sidewalk!!  Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff!  I literally stood in the middle of the sidewalk and stared dumbfoundedly.  Why?  Because I couldn’t believe someone dropped it and didn’t pick it back up!  OMG!  The publishers had ran out of copies and here it was grabbing at my ankles saying, “It’s about time you got here!  You don’t know how hard it is for a hardcover YA ARC to remained untouched at a convention of book crazed librarians!  Pick me up!  I belong in your school library’s STEM collection!” So I picked it up and low and behold,  it did!  A perfect book for readers in my library that geek on technology!

Filled with tech intrique, Illuminae’s main protagonists, Kady and Ezra, live in the year 2575 and are not talking to each other because they are exes, but now they need each other to hack into the databanks of their futuristic society in order to what else?!!! Save the world! There’s military files, medical files, email, IMs…and more that gets leaked in their efforts to untangle the web of deception that is causing chaos and death in their world, all presented in mixed formats that include dialogue, narrative, and graphic form! Male and female will both enjoy this book’s fast pace, ankle grabbing action.

Illuminae has an expected publication date of October 20, 2015 from Knopf Books for Young Readers.

Illuminae sneak peak

Amie KaufmanAmie Kaufman is a New York Times bestselling author and co-author of Illuminae, the first in a new series starting in 2015. She writes science fiction and fantasy for teens, and lives in Melbourne, Australia with her husband, their rescue dog, and a considerable home library.  Visit her website at  

Jay KristoffJay Kristoff  is the other co-author of Illuminae. He has also authored 3 other books.  Jay also lives in Australia.  You can read more about Jay at his website

What if…You Put it Down, Flipped it and Reversed It?

March 6, 2015

Everything That Makes You by Moriah McStay.  March 17, 2015.  Katherine Tegan Books.  hb $17.99. 329pp. 9780062295484.  Grades 7 and Up.

Is it worth it, let me work it
I put my thing down, flip it and reverse it21795576
– Missy Elliott’s “Work It”

…that’s all I kept hearing while reading this ARC.  The story, however has NOTHING to do with what Missy is talking about…it’s just the concept of “what if” for the main character that falls into the “flip it and reverse it mold”  and the grittiness is exactly the attitude needed in some instances that’s needed by our protagonist to pull through her issues….

  • What if Fiona never had an accident that scarred her for life?

flip it and reverse it…

  • What if the surgery never happened?

is it worth it?

  • What if someone heard my music?

let me work it…

  • What if…?
  • What if I’d never…?
  • What if I did…?

Told in alteranating POVs this contemporary fiction turns out to be a more mellow version of what the cover would lead you to believe.  This is definitely a Girls’ Read: a little humor, some tragedy, a huge pinch of self-esteem issues, the heart throb…and there you have it…

I will put this in my library for all my girls who love that romantic tear jerker in which life crashes down in the middle of “forever after.”  Coming out March 17, 2015.

headshot croppedMoriah McStay lives in Memphis, TN with her husband and 3 daughters.  This is her first novel.  She’s currently working on a second.

Another Day by David Levithan is Coming to a Shelf Near You Late Summer!

February 20, 2015

Levithan, David.  Another Day.  Knopf Books for Young Readers.  August 25, 2015.  $17.99hb, 300pp.  ISBN:  9780385756204.  Ages 12 Up.  OMG!  The companion to Levithan’s Every Day us coming this August and he’s telling Rhiannon’s side of the situation in Every Day!  Another Day

I can’t get a download from NetGalley yet but I’m chomping it to bits waiting!  Remember Rhi Rhi was the love interest of A who inhabits her BF Justin.  After A hits Justin’s body, there’s a totally different interaction between him and Rhi.  It’s not because of Justin.  It’s because of A, who knows all that’s going on between Justin and Rhi because A can download the memories…Remember?.  Justin is Mr. Hard Boy, Mr. Don’t-Hang-on-Me-It-You-Want-Me, and Mr. Don’t-Hold-Your-Breath. The day that A was inside Justin, Rhiannon’s relationship were almost at fairy tale proportions. The next day however Justin has no memory of what happened. Rhi’s reaction to this information turns to desparation and then depression until  a stranger walks up to her and informs her  that the Justin she spent that perfect day with, the one who made her feel like a fairy tale princess . . . wasn’t Justin at all.

You know Ms. Marie’s librarian is gonna get this book! Woot! Woot! Genius in our midst, Baby!

David Levithan
DAVID LEVITHAN is a children’s book editor in New York City and the author of several books for young adults, including Lambda Literary Award winner Two Boys Kissing; Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist, Naomi and Ely’s No Kiss List, and Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares (co-authored with Rachel Cohn); Will Grayson, Will Grayson (co-authored with John Green); andEvery You, Every Me (with photographs from Jonathan Farmer). He lives in Hoboken, New Jersey.

Blog Tour!! Rebels by Accident”s Patricia Dunn is Here, today!

December 11, 2014

Meet Patricia Dunn and her new book “Rebels by Accident” which is has made a blog stop today at Brichi’s Lit Spot!

Take a Chance w/the raffle below to Win a Copy of this new book!  a Rafflecopter giveaway Vote for Rebels by Accident on the 2015 Teen Choice Book Awards!  It just made the long list! 

rebelsDunn, Patricia.  Rebels by Accident.  Sourcebooks. December 2, 2014.  320pp.  $9.99pb. 9781492601388.  Grades 7 & Up.   Miriam is 16 years old and the only Egyptian American at her school. Her best friend Deanna has a physical diability that prohibits her from smiling.  Both girls are teased and bullied.  Deanna, however is able to maneuver through the bullying  and is better equipped at defending herself.  In an attempt to fit in with the crowd, the girls decide to go to a party, but have to do it on the sneak.  When drugs are reported and the girls are arrested simply for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, the girls are sent off the Miriam’s grandmother in Egypt for a cooling off period by her parents.  Unbeknownst to Miriam’s parents, they had just sent their daughter and her best friend into the midst of the most significant movement in modern day Egyptian society, the tumultuous uprisings of the Egyptian Spring protests in January of 2011! In a storyline that covers a mere five days, the girls literally experience the events of a lifetime.  Dunn, drawing on personal experience, truly knows what it is to be a teenager in the Islamic world. She has spent most of her adult life in Egypt and takes the reader on the ride of their life through the modern Egyptian malls,  past the ancient wonders, through romantic interludes, past issues of diversity and through the ups and downs of friendships.  Using Rebels, an originally self-published novel,  as the perfect literary object to help  teens deal with how to become a part of the changing world, Dinn chooses to handle this through the eyes of young Egygtian  Moslems who are struggling with the contradictions of today’s society.

I believe diversity is important in all literature, but especially in YA. I come from a small town called The Bronx. Everyone in my neighborhood was originally from Italy, but we, my family, were the “Americans” on the block. I grew up knowing that I was different, but it was from the stories I read, the books recommended to me by my school and public librarians, that I learned there was a whole world full of people who were “different,” and different was not bad, it was good, very good. – quote from I Am a Reader Blog’s  published interview of author  

                     Patricia Dunn, author of “Rebels by Accident.”

REBELS BY ACCIDENT can be enjoyed by anyone who is interested in current and past events in the Middle East or anyone interested in reading a book about a teenager coming of age.  To win a free copy of Rebels by Accident, take a chance and enter a Rafflecopter giveaway !!!

“Rebel by Accident” Blog Tour Soon Approaching – December 11!

November 24, 2014

When my first party ends in jail, I think things can’t possibly get worse. But then my parents send me to my grandmother in Cairo, and I’m sure my life is over. My sittu is Darth Vader’s evil sister, and I’m sure the only sites I’ll get to see in Egypt are the rooms in her apartment.

Turns out she’s not so bad. We ride camels by the pyramids and ice skate at a mall.

As Sittu says, “Sometimes a moment can change your life.” But it can change the life of a country too. When a girl named Asmaa calls the people of Egypt to protest, I find myself in the middle of a revolution, running from tear gas and guns.

 Oh yeah, and I meet the cutest guy I’ve ever seen. Fall in love for the first time. And have my first kiss.

                                     – “Rebel by Accident”  synopsis (excerpt from Brandi’s @Goodreads

[Review] Mr. Samuel’s Penny by Treva Hall Melvin

October 23, 2014

Mr. Samuel's Penny: An Elizabeth Parrot Landers MysteryMelvin, Treva Hall.  Mr. Samuel’s Penny.  264pp.  $10.95pb.  Poisoned Pen.  November 9, 2014.  9781929345045.   Grades 7 and Up.

 This book reminded so much of my experiences growing up, except it was the opposite in nature.  I lived in a small town in the South with my grandparents and at the age of 14 I started spending summers with my mother who lived in New York City.  In the summer of 1972 I was 15 going on 16 and anxious to make it through the summer to start my junior year in high school.  Elisabeth, on the other hand was a New Yorker who annually visited relatives Down South.  I hand to quickly adapt to the ways of a NYC teen and blend in with my 2 girlfriends who lived in Hamilton Grange housing projects, while Elizabeth who witnessed the horrible recovery of a father and child’s drawning, was learning to develop a relationship of empathy with the community of Ahoskie, North Carolina. I never experienced a death, shooting, or really any form of violence back in those days so I guess I was lucky.     – Brichimt

Elisabeth grew up in more ways than one as she quickly realized her summer in the sleepy town of Ahoskie was not going to be as boring as she expected, especially when the sheriff released evidence that the deaths of the father and daughter were not intentional.  There were skid marks on the bridge where the car slide off and there were bullet holes. The victims were Mr. Samuels, the owner of the lumber yard in town, and his daughter Emma.  The big question raised from the scene was that Mr. Samuels died clutching a collector’s 1909 wheat penny that was included in the sheriff’s crime scene evidence.  So what makes this so interesting?  Well, the penny ends up missing from the sheriff’s office and no one knows why!  

Elizabeth takes it upon herself to help find the missing penny, which causes her to cross over racial lines to do it. She decides, deductively, to go to sources in town that harbor pennies such as Mr. Jake’s grocery store.  Mr. Jake’s store sees loads of pennies, but Mr. Jake doesn’t like blacks too much which might cause a little difficulty.  Then there’s the church collection plate and the coin jars of Aunt Ode.  Next up for investigation are suspects such as Ms. Neely, whom everyone refers to as Ms. MsMeanie.  She wants to grab control of the lumber yard away from Mr. Samuel’s brother and widow. 

This is the first installment for “The Elizabeth Parrot Mystery Series.”

Read an excerpt and see if you like it:


It is peculiarly bright this evening. Will not be dark for another hour or so. The headlights of the ’68 station wagon are on, but their worth cannot be seen until the fog seeps between the slats of wood. The sweet smell of honeysuckle floats through the air on a blanket of steam rising up from the river as the car makes its way across the threshold.

The old bridge aches aloud, for its back has carried many a passenger the last hundred years to and from Ahoskie, North Carolina. Known as “The Only One,” Ahoskie has existed as a settlers’ town and with the Indian name since 1719. . .

Chapter 1

For seven hours, I’d done nothing but unpack and eat. I was ready for something to happen.

But I wasn’t ready for anything like this.

I was standing at the front door that mid-June evening, waiting for Aunt Alice to come home from the grocery store, when I heard the piercing sound of horns and sirens unleashing their fury, synchronized to the flashing red and white lights leading the way south, away from town. The pimples that ran down my spine hurt from the screeching noise. At least five vehicles rushed down the narrow road, leaving great clouds of dirt as though dragged by invisible ropes behind them. Heading for a place where something God awful was happening. . .

. . . the crane pulled the car up, with a solemn grinding motion, something burst free from one of the car’s open windows. Shocked me so bad I nearly fell over into the deep, so shaken from the sight.

A man’s hand had set itself free from the car.

At first glance, the hand seemed to be riding the surface of the water, waving happily without care. But then the ashen skin with its grotesque wormy veins made it clear it was not.

Something glistened in rhythm with the ripples of water flowing over his fingers. . .

Author Bio:

Treva Hall Melvin, has been a practicing attorney in all levels of government as a prosecutor and criminal defense attorney. A native New Yorker, she graduated from Villanova Law School in Pennsylvania and now lives in the Philadelphia area with her husband, their two children, and their dog Audrey.


The Blog Tour is Here for Feral by Holly Schindler

September 5, 2014

Read and Enjoy my interview with Holly Schindler, author of Feral which just came to shelves August 26. Oh, and don’t forget to take part in the raffle (below)  for a free book giveaway!

1. What came first, the PTSD, the feral cats, the murder, or the discovery of Peculiar?

Honestly, I’d known about Missouri having a town called Peculiar for quite some time. It’s just such a great, great town name—I instantly filed it away, because I knew I’d use it at some point. (Also, though I fictionalized thelocation, WHERE THE “ODDS” ARE WITH YOU is actually the town motto.)

It’s probably hard to imagine, but the book started out as an MG mystery. When it began to get gritty during revision, I knew it probably needed to become a YA. But I couldn’t keep my protagonist. She was truly thirteen. She didn’t fit in the high school setting at all. I needed a new main character.

As I brainstormed, I began to put together pieces of Claire’s character. When I uncovered her backstory—that she had been beaten in Chicago—I also knew that the book could no longer be a straight mystery (or even a YA horror novel, as I’d once considered). It needed to become a psychological thriller.

FERAL Trailer 1:

2.  The death scene in Peculiar and the street attack in Chicago were so gripping, I couldn’t imagine how you were able to describe both heinous acts in such detail. What type of research did it take to enable such authentic realism in your narrative of those scenes?

Research for this book included looking into psychotic PTSD symptoms. I also did some digging to pick the town where Claire’s beating would take place. I chose Chicago because it’s considered the alley capital of the country—it has more alleys than any other city in America, which gives credence to her decision to take an alley home the night of her attack. The rest of it is the work of my imagination.

I will say that I think nailing the POV was maybe the most important aspect of revision—and was more important than research when it came to giving the book authenticity. My editor and I had several discussions and went through several rounds of rewrites trying to nail the POV. In the end, I think third person was essential to giving the book a “creep-factor.” And really, the limited narration (we’re seeing primarily from Claire’s eyes, with Serena stepping in at a few points) is essential. If we were to hear from too many other outside voices, see through too many eyes other than Claire’s, the book would fall apart.

My editor really loved Serena’s chapters, and I have to admit, I’m fond of them, too. In the beginning, though, I was concerned that Serena’s perspective might outweigh or overpower Claire’s (especially at the novel’s opening). That’s a big part of the reason why I gave so much detail to Claire’s beating in Chicago—I wanted her story to carry every bit as much weight.

In the end, what I most love about Serena’s character in the final version of FERAL is that she highlights or illuminates Claire’s story. In the first chapter, Serena is trapped inside a broken body, unable to move yet still able to feel everything. This is reflective of where Claire is, too—though she swears she’s moved on from the beating, she hasn’t. She’s stuck—and afraid. Just like Serena.
Serena’s spirit also helps to portray the struggle to untangle what’s real from what isn’t real. There are physical events in the book that are undeniably real: Serena goes missing and is found dead. Her spirit is forced to let go of the earthly world, make its journey to the afterlife. The town police do overlook clues regarding her death. A former Peculiar High student has died in the basement. A car malfunctions. A feral cat follows Claire.
But there are also what I would call malicious paranormal events: angry ghosts, spirits in cats, soul-filled fog. Claire believes these events are real throughout most of the book, but during a scene at the school dance toward the end, these malicious events are revealed to be something else—namely, a horrifying truth about herself.
Serena’s POV at the end of book offers a sense of closure, but also emphasizes what has been real and what hasn’t: while Serena is a spirit, she denounces one last time any possibility of her having haunted Claire, claiming the story Claire tells her at the cemetery about seeing her inside a cat is “strange”—outside of her own experiences.
Each book is a learning process, and after FERAL, I know that when I’m drafting future projects, I’ll give considerations regarding POV far greater weight than ever.

FERAL Trailer 2

3.  I really connected with the spirit of Mr. Hitchcock in your new psychological thriller. In my Goodreads review, I mention how your opening scene along with a town infested with feral cats brought a chill to me the same manner as THE BIRDS did back in the sixties…eerily delicious! How much of Hitchcock did you consciously channel?

I’m a big fan of vintage movies—and of Hitchcock in particular. When I realized the book needed to be a psychological thriller, I wanted it to be one in the classic black-and-white sense: in this book, the emphasis is on the “psychological” rather than thriller / action. The novel features a Hitchcockian pace and focus on character development; here, we’re exploring the inner workings ofthe main character, Claire Cain. (Those cats really did wind up being a nod to Hitchcock’s BIRDS.)
Essentially, every aspect of FERAL is used to explore Claire’s inner workings—that even includes the wintry Ozarks setting. The water metaphor is employed frequently in psychological thrillers to represent the subconscious, and here is incorporated in the form of a brutal ice storm (that represents Claire’s “frozen” inner state). The attempt to untangle what is real from what is unreal (I mentioned it before—and it’s another frequently-used aspect of the psychological thriller) also begins to highlight the extent to which Claire was hurt in that Chicago alley. Even the explanation of the odd occurrences in the town of Peculiar offers an exploration into and portrait of Claire’s psyche.
Ultimately, FERAL is a book about recovering from violence. We often hear that recovering is a hard or lengthy process. But I think addressing a violent act head-on is also a terrifying process. I wanted to depict the frightening aspect of recovery in a dramatic, scenic way—the classic psychological thriller allowed me to explore that frightening process in detail.


Quotes from FERAL jacket copy:
The Lovely Bones meets Black Swan in this haunting psychological thriller with twists and turns that will make you question everything you think you know.

It’s too late for you. You’re dead. Those words continue to haunt Claire Cain months after she barely survived a brutal beating in Chicago. So when her father is offered a job in another state, Claire is hopeful that getting out will offer her a way to start anew.

But when she arrives in Peculiar, Missouri, Claire feels an overwhelming sense of danger, and her fears are confirmed when she discovers the body of a popular high school student in the icy woods behind the school, surrounded by the town’s feral cats. While everyone is quick to say it was an accident, Claire knows there’s more to it, and vows to learn the truth about what happened.

But the closer she gets to uncovering the mystery, the closer she also gets to realizing a frightening reality about herself and the damage she truly sustained in that Chicago alley….

Holly Schindler’s gripping story is filled with heart-stopping twists and turns that will keep readers guessing until the very last page.
Holly Schindler is the author of the critically acclaimed A BLUE SO DARK (Booklist starred review, ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year silver medal recipient, IPPY Awards gold medal recipient) as well as PLAYING HURT (both YAs).

Her debut MG, THE JUNCTION OF SUNSHINE AND LUCKY, also released in ’14, and became a favorite of teachers and librarians, who used the book as a read-aloud. KirkusReviews called THE JUNCTION “…a heartwarming and uplifting story…[that] shines…with vibrant themes of community, self-empowerment and artistic vision delivered with a satisfying verve.”

FERAL is Schindler’s third YA and first psychological thriller. Publishers Weekly gave FERAL a starred review, stating,“Opening with back-to-back scenes of exquisitely imagined yet very real horror, Schindler’s third YA novel hearkens to the uncompromising demands of her debut, A BLUE SO DARK…This time, the focus is on women’s voices and the consequences they suffer for speaking…This is a story about reclaiming and healing, a process that is scary, imperfect, and carries no guarantees.”

Schindler encourages readers to get in touch. Booksellers, librarians, and teachers can also contact her directly regarding Skype visits. She can be reached at hollyschindlerbooks (at) gmail (dot) com, and can also be found at,, @holly_schindler,,

Holly Schindler is an author, musician and coffee lover who writes for middle grades and young adult audiences. Her two YA novels are A BLUE SO DARK (2010) and PLAYING HURT (2011). Her middle grade title, THE JUNCTION OF SUNSHINE AND LUCKY, was released with Dial / Penguin, and her new up and coming YA book, FERAL, will release with HarperCollins August 26, 2014.


Rafflecopter form for a giveaway of a signed hardcover of FERAL (running from September 3 – September 17):

a Rafflecopter giveaway