Cover Reveal: My Best Friend, Maybe by Caela Carter

Today I’m ridiculously excited to reveal the cover of Caela Carter’s sophomore novel, My Best Friend, Maybe! I completely adored her first book, Me, Him, Them, and It and I might be even more excited about this new book! Below, you’ll find more information about My Best Friend, Maybe and, even further down, you’ll see the cover! It is gorgeous! Simple with colors that pop, I seriously can’t wait to see this book in person!!


More about MY BEST FRIEND, MAYBE

Colette has been bored and lonely ever since her best friend, Sadie, dumped her the summer before they stared high school. She tries to be perfect for everyone left in her life: her parents, her younger brothers, her church youth group, even her boyfriend, Mark. But Colette is restless. And she misses Sadie.

 

When Sadie tells Colette that she needs her old friend to join her on a family vacation to the Greek Islands, one that leaves in only a few days, Colette is shocked to hear their old magic word: need. And she finds herself agreeing.

 

Colette tries to relax and enjoy her Grecian surroundings but it’s not easy to go on vacation with the person who hurt you most in the world. When the reason for the trip finally surfaces, Colette finds out this is not only a fun vacation. Sadie has kept an enormous secret from Colette for years…forever. It’s a summer full of surprises, but that might be what Colette needs.

And now for the cover reveal!!
 
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See what I mean?? Gorgeous!
 
What do you think? Let us know in the comments!
For more about Caela and her books, check our her website and follow her on Twitter! And don’t forget to add My Best Friend, Maybe on GoodReads!

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Review: Also Known As by Robin Benway

Being a 16-year-old safecracker and active-duty daughter of international spies has its moments, good and bad. Pros: Seeing the world one crime-solving adventure at a time. Having parents with super cool jobs. Cons: Never staying in one place long enough to have friends or a boyfriend. But for Maggie Silver, the biggest perk of all has been avoiding high school and the accompanying cliques, bad lunches, and frustratingly simple locker combinations.
Then Maggie and her parents are sent to New York for her first solo assignment, and all of that changes. She’ll need to attend a private school, avoid the temptation to hack the school’s security system, and befriend one aggravatingly cute Jesse Oliver to gain the essential information she needs to crack the case . . . all while trying not to blow her cover.

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I have so much respect for every one of Robin Benway’s novels. Each one has a totally unique premise and main character, but they’re all somehow easy to relate to and more fun than the last. 

The protagonist in Also Known As, Maggie, reminds me of a younger version of Stella, Charlize Theron’s character, from the movie The Italian Job, which is one of my absolute favorites. Maggie is a teenaged safecracker who travels the world with her parents and she’s the best at what she does. What Maggie isn’t so good at is being a “normal” 16-year old girl, which is a key element of her newest mission: Jesse Oliver. 

It’s Maggie’s job to gain Jesse’s trust in order to find out information about his father and gain access to the safe in their home. As one might imagine, things don’t go exactly as planned. Maggie quickly learns there’s a lot more to Jesse than she first assumed… and he’s more than a little interested in her as well.

While I loved Maggie, her friends, Angelo and Roux, often came close to upstaging her. Both were such interesting characters that I found myself wishing Benway would tell more about them. Angelo is a friend of Maggie’s family who also works for the same organization, but as a forger. He gives exceptionally good advice and has wonderful fashion sense. Roux is a strong individual who fully admits to creating her downfall from the popular crowd, but she never loses sight of who she is. I would love to see a future book about Roux, which some involvement from Angelo of course, since the two characters really seemed to be bonding by the end of Also Known As.

While Also Known As isn’t a terribly complicated thriller and mystery, as it focuses much more on the characters and their relationships than the actual mystery (I can’t actually remember exactly what Maggie is hoping to find when she picks the safe in the Oliver house), it still kept me guessing. I was never completely sure who Maggie could or should trust.

For me, Benway’s newest offering is in the same vein as Ally Carter’s Gallagher Girls and Heist Society books, but perhaps for a slightly older audience. I have a soft spot for Carter’s books and, while Also Known As has definitely similarities, both authors successfully bring something unique to the premise. I highly recommend Also Known As and am sincerely hoping for a sequel!

Bloomsbury Juvenile, February 2013, Hardcover, ISBN:  9780802733900, 320 pages.

Interview: Kirsten Miller (Author of The Darkness Dwellers)

I’m thrilled to welcome the very talented Kirsten Miller to The Hiding Spot to talk a little bit about her newest book, The Darkness Dwellers, the third installment in the Kiki Strike series! Keep reading to learn more and find out why – *gasp* – Kirsten’s favorite word might be of the four-letter variety.

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The Interview

Did you have trouble writing any of your characters or specific scenes within the novel? Or, were any characters or scenes particularly easy to write? 

Now that I’ve taken three crazy adventures with the Irregulars, my band of unruly girl geniuses, they all feel like old friends to me. I know their quirks, their pet-peeves—even their shampoo preferences. Starting a new Kiki Strike book is like going on a road trip with a bunch of people I’ve known since childhood. The Darkness Dwellers scenes set in Paris were probably the most challenging, since I had to rely on my memory (and Google maps) to describe the city and the catacombs beneath it. 

Has the title changed or stayed relatively the same as your novel journeyed towards publication?

Coming up with the title for book #1 (Kiki Strike: Inside the Shadow City) was a bit of a challenge. My editor and I spent a few weeks trying to figure out what it should be. But choosing titles for book #2 (The Empress’s Tomb) and book #3 (The Darkness Dwellers) was a piece of cake. 


What book or author has most influenced you as a writer or in general? 

It’s hard to say. I’ve been influenced by countless books and writers. But where the Kiki books are concerned, I’d have to say that one of my biggest influences was a picture book I read when I was small—Liza Lou and the Yeller Belly Swamp by Mercer Mayer. It’s about a little bayou girl who singlehandedly rids the Yeller Belly Swamp of haunts, ghosts and witches. I guess you could say that Liza Lou is Louisiana’s version of Kiki Strike. 


What jobs did you have on your way to becoming a writer/published author? Is there a certain work experience that has shaped your writing? 

I have always had a job of some sort. As a kid, I had to work for my parents. (They renovated old houses—that’s how I learned how to fix things.) As a teenager I held a few different jobs—waitress, cleaning lady, etc. Since then, I’ve worked as a dental assistant (awesome job), a publishing copywriter and an advertising strategist. The point is, I’ve been working my butt off since I was in grade school—and that experience has made all the difference. Because of all the jobs I’ve ever held, writing is by far the hardest. 


If you had to pick a favorite word, what would it be and why? 

It would probably be something you wouldn’t want to print. If you saw a picture of me, you might understand. I am blond and rather sweet looking. I’m also from the South, and when I speak you can still hear traces of an accent. These three things have led many people in New York (my hometown of 20+ years) to believe that I am dimwitted or naïve. A well-chosen four letter word can quickly set them straight. (In fact, this strategy worked wonders the other day when a woman was trying to pick my pocket in the Container Store.) 


My blog is dedicated to my personal hiding spot, books. Who, what, or where can be credited as your personal escape from reality? 

My hiding spot used to be books as well. That’s one of the things that has changed since I started writing. These days, I have two hiding spots. #1 is the gym. I jump on a machine, put This American Life on my iPhone and totally zone out. #2 is the outdoor café at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Surrounded by greenhouse domes, it’s weirdly magical—and almost never full. There’s nothing I love more than having lunch there on a spring/summer/autumn afternoon.

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Find out more about Kirsten and her books here

Review: Me, Him, Them, and It by Caela Carter

ME is Evelyn Jones, 16, a valedictorian hopeful who’s been playing bad girl to piss off THEM, her cold, distant parents. HIM is Todd, Evelyn’s secret un-boyfriend, who she thought she was just using for sex – until she accidentally fell in love with him. But before Evelyn gets a chance to tell Todd how she feels, something much more important comes up. IT. IT is a fetus. Evelyn is pregnant – and when Todd turns his back on her, Evelyn has no idea who to turn to. Can a cheating father, a stiff, cold mother, a pissed-off BFF, and a (thankfully!) loving aunt with adopted girls of her own help Evelyn make the heart-wrenching decisions that follow?

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Me, Him, Them and It is definitely one of the best books I’ve read that takes on teen pregnancy. Caela Carter tackles the subject with a careful hand, and while it can be said that she pushes her heroine, Evelyn, in some directions more than others, I felt that the novel presents a well-rounded and realistic portrayal of a teen faced with an unexpected pregnancy.

Evelyn is a smart girl who makes some reckless decisions in an attempt to both punish and draw the attention of her very absent parents. While she used to have a relatively strong relationship with her father and at least a passably good relationship with her mother, that all changed when her father had an affair. Instead of her parents splitting up, her mother decided to take her father back and stay together, but things are far from normal. The house is always tense and silent and Evelyn rarely see her parents who are so busy avoiding each other they forget she’s even around.

Evelyn takes what one might consider the stereotypical route and begins rebelling. She quits her extracurriculars, starts lying, distances herself from her friends, and decides to lose herself in meaningless sex. Except for what starts out as meaningless sex turns into more when Evelyn finds herself falling for Todd. And then finds herself pregnant.

One of my favorite aspects of Me, Him, Them and It is how real Evelyn felt. There are moments when she’s brave, moments of realization, and moments of undeniable immaturity. At first, she’s terrified of what will happen to her life and what people will think of her. Not only is she pregnant, but she doesn’t have a boyfriend, which she knows will create all kinds of gossip. Her aunt, who she looks up to and considers one of the only reliable adults in her life, lives far away and has no idea how much she’s changed and Evelyn fears disappointing her. Along with the fear of what others will think, come Evelyn’s fears about losing her freedom, gaining weight, her grades slipping, and her entire future. Overwhelmed, Evelyn shuts down and attempts to push all the decisions regarding the pregnancy and the baby onto her parents and every other adult she comes in contact with. But the author doesn’t let Evelyn off the hook that easily, which I feel is extremely important. Evelyn’s mother would be more than happy to make all the decisions, but she doesn’t. Instead, she stresses to Evelyn how important it is that she make the decisions because, ultimately, it is her life and no body can live it for her. This doesn’t mean that our heroine is left all alone to figure things out, after all, she’s only sixteen. There are many great secondary characters that form a support system for Evelyn that are integral to her decision making process.

In addition to Evelyn’s parents, she also gains insight from her aunt, her partner, a counselors, and doctors. Despite her negative view of her parents, it’s clear that they care a great deal for her and, though they’ve both made mistakes, are determined to be there for her no matter how she decides to proceed. Evelyn’s aunts, who she lives with during the decision making process, are a fantastic support system, as one provides much needed understanding and the other provides structure, while they both provide plenty of love. 

One character who is notably absent from the decision making process is the baby’s father, Todd. While he does have some input, more or less saying that the decision is completely Evelyn’s and that he doesn’t want to participate in the baby’s life if she chooses to keep it, he is otherwise absent when it comes to the pregnancy. I came to appreciate this detail as Evelyn struggled internally with her feelings for Todd and the idea of the baby being a catalyst for them to start a family. I’m so glad that Todd wasn’t physically near Evelyn as she sorted through her options because it would have been entirely too easy for her to succumb to that fantasy, but it was fantasy and his distance allowed her to see that.

I also appreciated that Me, Him, Them and It touched on every available option to consider when faced with an unexpected pregnancy and the pros and cons. Adoption, both open and closed, teen parenthood, alone and with help or the father, and abortion are all discussed and explored. Furthermore, Planned Parenthood, religion, and family opinion are all considered. I truly felt that all options were fairly represented.

In the end, I feel that Evelyn not only made an educated decision, she also made the decision that was best for her. Of course, I can’t say much more without spoiling the ending, but had come a long way by the conclusion of the novel. Her situation, though not ideal, forced her to think about her future, change her lifestyle, and her take some time away from a pretty unhealthy environment to figure things out. Though the novel did wrap up neatly, I wasn’t left feeling that things were too calm or perfect. The Evelyn at the end of  Me, Him, Them and It is clearly different than the one at the beginning and that, for me, allowed for a satisfying conclusion.

Bloomsbury, February 2013, Hardcover, ISBN: 9781599909585, 320 pages.

Review: Transcendence by C.J. Omololu

When a visit to the Tower of London triggers an overwhelmingly real vision of a beheading that occurred centuries before, Cole Ryan fears she is losing her mind. A mysterious boy, Griffon Hall, comes to her aid, but the intensity of their immediate connection seems to open the floodgate of memories even wider. 

As their feelings grow, Griffon reveals their common bond as members of the Akhet—an elite group of people who can remember past lives and use their collected wisdom for the good of the world. But not all Akhet are altruistic, and a rogue is after Cole to avenge their shared past. Now in extreme danger, Cole must piece together clues from many lifetimes. 

What she finds could ruin her chance at a future with Griffon, but risking his love may be the only way to save them both. 

Full of danger, romance, and intrigue, Transcendence breathes new life into a perpetually fascinating question: What would you do with another life to live?

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C.J. Omololu’s sophomore novel, Transcendence, has very little in common with her debut Dirty Little Secrets… except for the fact that they’re both captivating reads.


Omololu’s debut is about a girl dealing with her mother’s uncontrollable urge to hoard – think along the lines of the A&E’s Hoarders – and is very much a contemporary YA titles. In comparison, Transcendence is, at times, a contemporary novel and, at others, historically set. Some of the novel deals with very real issues, like crushes and familial relationships, while other scenes deal with the idea of reincarnation and a collection of people that can remember the past lives they’ve lived. In short, Omololu’s sophomore novel brings many different elements to the table.


Transcendence took awhile to fully capture my attention. It wasn’t until Cole and Griffon started interacting more regularly and Cole finally understood the reason for her visions that I felt fully invested in the novel’s events. Even then, there were times when I wasn’t sure what direction the novel was taking. I found the Akhet and the idea of reincarnation really interesting, but I didn’t really know what the novel was supposed to accomplish. Eventually, it was established that a villain was somewhere in the mix and things sped up. 


I sometimes took issue with Cole’s behavior. I understand that she was expected to accept a pretty big idea in a relatively short amount of time, but I wanted more from her at times… There is a point in the book where Cole refuses to speak to Griffon and acts like a complete child. In the end, Cole’s reaction is what set some other necessary events into motion, but I wish that Omololu could have achieved this another way. Griffon’s maturity and Cole’s immaturity just felt odd to me… Most of the time, I accepted that Griffon was falling for Cole, but, at times like this, it almost felt wrong… Like he was a man and she was just a child. Awkward…


Still, most of my issues with Transcendence took place near the middle of the novel and I was well-hooked by the end. In fact, after how this first book ended, I’m really looking forward to the next installment. I’m really interested to see what other things Cole will uncover about her past lives (has she ever been a parent or has she always died young??) and to see what other characters are Akhet… and if their lives have overlapped with Cole’s in the past as well!

Bloomsbury, June 2012, Hardcover, ISBN: 9780802723703, 336 pages.

This post is part of the Transcendence Blog Tour organized by Bloomsbury.

Interview with Burn Mark Author, Laura Powell!

Today, The Hiding Spot is visited by Laura Powell, author of the recently released Burn Mark! Check out the book trailer at the end of the interview to learn more about Burn Mark.

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Did you have trouble writing any of your characters or specific scenes within the novel? Or, were any characters or scenes particularly easy to write? 

My two main characters, posh-boy Lucas the Inquisitor’s son, and wild-child Glory the wannabe criminal, came to me quite fully-formed. From there, it was easy to build a picture of their different worlds. But I did struggle with the witch-ducking scene that happens towards the end of the book. Even though Burn Mark is a fantasy novel, I wanted it to be relevant to the here and now, and so the ducking was very much based on accounts of water-boarding I read. I wanted the violence to be shocking, but thought-provoking, not sensationalist. 



Has the title changed or stayed relatively the same as your novel journeyed towards publication? 

The title came to me relatively early on. Fire and the scars it leaves, both literally and metaphorically, plays a big part in the story. 



What book or author has most influenced you as a writer or in general? 

There’s no one person or book. But my favourite authors include Jane Austen, Maurice Sendak, E. Nesbitt, Mary Renault and Margaret Atwood. 



What jobs did you have on your way to becoming a writer/published author? Is there a certain work experience that has shaped your writing? 

I worked in publishing for five years before leaving to concentrate on my own books and there is no better apprenticeship for a wannabe author! I got to work with some fantastic writers, but learned most from the editors I worked under. Publishing is packed with interesting and creative people, but it’s also a hard-nosed commercial business. The more a writer understands what goes on behind the scenes, the easier their journey to publication will be. Now I have a part-time job at a ballet company, which fulfills all my childhood dreams of hanging out with ballerinas and playing dress-up with tutus. 



If you had to pick a favorite word, what would it be and why? 

I love “perhaps”. It’s full of promise and possibility, and can herald either disappointment or gratification. Doris Day sang it best! 



My blog is dedicated to my personal hiding spot, books. Who, what, or where can be credited as your personal escape from reality? 

Whenever grown-up life gets too much, I head back to my childhood home in rural Wales. It’s in a hidden valley, with a ruined castle across the way, and lots of ravens, wild ponies and waterfalls. Plus, there’s no mobile phone reception and a very dodgy internet connection, so it’s tricky for people to get hold of me there.

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To find out more about Laura and her writing, check out her website


Review: Dead Reckoning by Mercedes Lackey and Rosemary Edghill

Jett is a girl disguised as a boy, living as a gambler in the old West as she searches for her long-lost brother. Honoria Gibbons is a smart, self-sufficient young woman who also happens to be a fabulous inventor. Both young women travel the prairie alone – until they are brought together by a zombie invasion! As Jett and Honoria investigate, they soon learn that these zombies aren’t rising from the dead of their own accord … but who would want an undead army? And why? 

This gunslinging, hair-raising, zombie western mashup is perfect for fans of Cowboys vs. Aliens and Pride & Prejudice & Zombies.

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I didn’t think I was going to be able to finish this novel. It started out at an extremely slow pace and the characters were just… weird. So, I set Dead Reckoning aside. For weeks. And then I decided to give it another try… and I fell in love and couldn’t stop reading.


First off, I’m not a fan of the novel’s description. Not only does it make Dead Reckoning sound much more happy and girly than it really it, it doesn’t mention the third main character, White Fox, at all. I feel like the description is trying to promote some type of girl power vibe, which is somewhat present in the novel, but not to the extent implied. 


That said, Jett and Gibbons are definitely strong, unique women. Once I got used to Gibbons’ quirks and learns more about Jett, I kind of loved them. A lot. And, though we didn’t get to know White Fox quite as well, he grew on me as well. In fact, I’m actually very curious to see what happens to them next. When the characters finally started to grow on me and I became more invested in the story, I though to myself, I actually don’t mind this, but I don’t think I’d read a sequel… but now I take that back. 


For me, the best part of Dead Reckoning was the interactions and relationships between the three main characters. They are all ridiculously different that being together at the beginning is a mess, but, as they grew on me, they also grew on one another. At one point, White Fox notices that the two girls are bickering like sisters – and it was true! And then I realized, this odd little trio actually works together. Whoa.


Dead Reckoning combines many elements that really shouldn’t work together: westerns, zombies, steampunk, and cults, but Lackey and Edgehill make it work. I’m not sure how they came up with such a crazy idea for a novel, but it’s obvious they thought it through because I never found myself thinking “okay, that’s just too far-fetched”… as I read about zombies, westerns, cults, and steampunkery. 


I also found Dead Reckoning to be rather funny. And sometimes quite touching. And sometimes scary. And other times exciting. I was surprised by how much I felt as I read this novel, considering that I’d almost given up on it.


I’m so glad that I gave this novel a second chance, and I’m hoping that my review will convince you to give this crazy book a try. It won’t be for everyone, but there are readers out there who are going to love the hell out of it!

Bloomsbury, June 2012, Hardcover, ISBN: 9781599906843, 336 pages.

This post is part of the Dead Reckoning Blog Tour organized by Bloomsbury.