Thursday, May 14, 2015

Q&A with Author Corey Ann Haydu!

Hello, everyone!

Today, I'm lucky enough to have author Corey Ann Haydu on the blog, talking about her new book Making Pretty! I'm so pumped for this book, guys. It's got all my buzz words. Coming-of-age! New York City! Toxic friendships! Sibling dynamics! I cannot wait to read it. Here's the description and scroll farther down for the Q&A:

Montana and her sister, Arizona, are named after the mountainous states their mother left them for. But Montana is a New York City girl through and through, and as the city heats up, she’s stepping into the most intense summer of her life.

With Arizona wrapped up in her college world and their father distracted by yet another divorce, Montana’s been immersing herself in an intoxicating new friendship with a girl from her acting class. Karissa is bold, imperfectly beautiful, and unafraid of being vulnerable. She’s everything Montana would like to become. But the friendship with Karissa is driving a wedge between Montana and her sister, and the more of her own secrets Karissa reveals, the more Montana has to wonder if Karissa’s someone she can really trust.

In the midst of her uncertainty, Montana finds a heady distraction in Bernardo. He’s serious and spontaneous, and he looks at Montana in the way she wants to be seen. For the first time, Montana understands how you can become both lost and found in somebody else. But when that love becomes everything, where does it leave the rest of her imperfect life? (Summary from Goodreads)

Lost at Midnight: Before I start, I have to say how excited I am to read Making Pretty. It sounds like it has a lot of elements I look for in a book, with a fabulous cover to boot! What was your reaction when you first saw the cover?

Corey Ann Haydu: I first saw the cover when I was on vacation with my family in Portugal and I fell in love with it right away. I love that all my covers have these gorgeous colors - and this one might be my favorite color palate. I also love how arresting Montana's face on the cover is. And my favorite part is in the corner where there's a snippet of an image of a brick building in NYC. It looks EXACTLY like my very first NYC apartment in the East Village! I like to think it's the same building and it's a lovely coincidence.

LM: As an only child, I'm constantly intrigued by sibling relationships. How would you describe the sibling dynamic between Arizona and Montana? And what was your favourite part about it to write?

CAH: I'm intrigued by sister relationships, since I myself have a brother. I think sister relationships seem especially complicated. Arizona and Montana have been extremely close their whole lives - they've had a lot of though things to deal with in their family, and they've supported each other throughout. They even share a best friend. But MAKING PRETTY takes place the summer after Arizona's first year of college, and a lot has suddenly changed between them. I liked exploring how their closeness has shifted and how painful that shift can be. It's so hard when you're right on the same page with someone and then one day you simply aren't. Montana is struggling with that adjustment - realizing she and Arizona don't have all the same thoughts and feelings and lives anymore.

LM: Another element I'm so interested in is the maybe-possibly-not-so-solid friendship between Montana and Karissa. Why do you think it's important to have such a focus on the ups and downs of friendships?

CAH: I loved writing this relationship. I myself have often found myself in toxic friendships so I wanted to explore how and why someone ends up in one of these friendships, how sneakily they can occur. We spend a lot of time in literature examining love relationships, and in some ways I think friendship relationships can be even more complicated. There aren't so many rules or expectations in friendships, so they can take unlimited numbers of forms. Each friendships that we have is so unique, especially at younger ages. And in the case of Montana and Karissa, Karissa is an older friend - so power dynamics come into play a little bit, too.

LM: What are some of the similarities and some of the differences between Montana and your previous two protagonists, Bea and Tabitha?

CAH: I think all my characters share a self-awareness and honesty. But in some ways I think Montana is the most earnest, the one with the clearest desires and the most vulnerabilities. Montana is also the most uncertain, I think. She really isn't sure where she fits in, or even where she WANTS to fit in. I like that Montana is a city girl too -- Bea and Tabitha are both New Englanders, and this gives them a different flavor, I think.

LM: What is one thing you hope readers of Making Pretty will take away from the book?

CAH: I really want readers to think about how complicated our relationship with the word and idea of "pretty" can be, and the damage and the pressure to be perfect and pretty can be. I thought a lot about how painful our relationship with our physical self and other people's perception of us can be. I hope that resonates with readers.

I also hope readers fall in love with New York City! I've lived here for almost fifteen rears, and I really wanted to capture what made me first feel that this place was my true home. 

LM: Finally, Making Pretty is being described as a "coming-of-age" store (AKA, my favourite kind of story). What would you say is your favourite part about coming-of-age stories? And do you have favourite coming-of-age books?

CAH: I love coming of age stories too. There's so much to explore in the complicated transition from childhood to adulthood. I like that coming of age stories explore a character's relationship with him or herSELF, rather than just their relationships with other people. There's something so beautiful about that, I think! My favourite novels that I consider to be coming of age stories are The House on Mango Street; The Liar's Club; This One Summers; and The Catcher in the Rye and The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. To name only a few!! Those are all super, super special ones in my opinion. They should be on everyone's lists. :) 

Thank you SO MUCH for stopping by the blog, Corey! I didn't think I could be more excited for this book until I read your Q&A!

Making Pretty is OUT NOW! Run on over to your local bookstore and pick up a copy, or order from any of these fine retailers!

- Ciara (Lost at Midnight) 

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Waiting On Wednesday (76): Nowhere But Here by Katie McGarry

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine in which bloggers talk about the books they are most eager for!

Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Release Date: May 26th, 2015

An unforgettable new series from acclaimed author Katie McGarry about taking risks, opening your heart and ending up in a place you never imagined possible.

Seventeen-year-old Emily likes her life the way it is: doting parents, good friends, good school in a safe neighborhood. Sure, she's curious about her biological father—the one who chose life in a motorcycle club, the Reign of Terror, over being a parent—but that doesn't mean she wants to be a part of his world. But when a reluctant visit turns to an extended summer vacation among relatives she never knew she had, one thing becomes clear: nothing is what it seems. Not the club, not her secret-keeping father and not Oz, a guy with suck-me-in blue eyes who can help her understand them both.

Oz wants one thing: to join the Reign of Terror. They're the good guys. They protect people. They're…family. And while Emily—the gorgeous and sheltered daughter of the club's most respected member—is in town, he's gonna prove it to her. So when her father asks him to keep her safe from a rival club with a score to settle, Oz knows it's his shot at his dream. What he doesn't count on is that Emily just might turn that dream upside down.

No one wants them to be together. But sometimes the right person is the one you least expect, and the road you fear the most is the one that leads you home. (Summary from Goodreads)
When I first picked up Pushing the Limits, I didn't expect to find an author I would love obsessively. But, that's exactly what I found. I've read all the books in the series and loved every one of them. And I'm not usually a huge romance fan! I'm really excited to read a new Katie McGarry series, and fall in love all over again.

(Also, have you seen this cover? Cause this cover is gorgeous)

What are you waiting on this week?

- Ciara (Lost at Midnight)

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday (13): Top Ten Authors I REALLY Want to Meet

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish in which bloggers post their "Top Ten" of whatever that week's theme is! This week's theme:

*(I cheated. There's eleven)

Okay all, disclaimer here: there's a LOT of authors I want to meet. Like, A LOT. I've been lucky enough to have some opportunities to meet fabulous authors (and be super awkward around them) and am meeting more at BEA this year. So! I'm only feature authors I probably won't be meeting in the next little while (SAD FACE) even though there's a bunch going to BEA that I really want to meet! Here is my list in no particular order:

Jodi Meadows
- Besides being a fabulous author, Jodi Meadows seems like just an incredible human. We've Skyped a couple times for book club but I'd love to be able to chat in person!

Nova Ren Suma
- I absolutely admire Nova Ren Suma. She is such a phenomenal writer! It would be so great to meet her.

Kiersten White
- Kiersten White is one of the first writers I read when I first got into YA. And, all these books later, she continues to wow me. She also kind of seems like the most adorable human on the planet.

Rachel Vincent
- The Shifters series was my first foray into adult books and is still one of my favourites series around. I've wanted to meet Rachel Vincent since I was 15, and I hope one day I'll be able to!

John Green
- Oh man, if I ever met JG, it wouldn't be a pretty sight. There would be tears and attempts to tell him the impact Paper Towns had on me and more tears. So, I both want to meet him and question if I should ever be allowed to.

Gayle Forman
- Absolutely incredible author on so many levels! Also, she apparently knows how to pronounce my name properly (she signed it in my book last year at BEA) which makes me extra want to meet her.

Stephanie Perkins
- I love her books and I love how open she's been about discussing mental health. Seriously admire her for that.

Rachel Hawkins
- My best friend and I have deemed Rachel Hawkins "Sass Master" because her tweets are hilarious and sassy. I would LOVE to meet her to hear it in person!

Melina Marchetta
- Melina Marchetta is up there with Courtney Summers* as authors whose books have had a huge impact on me. I would probably cry if I ever met her. Like a lot.
*I have met Courtney Summers before and it was pretty hilarious (as in I was so awkward my friend cried laughing). I would love to meet her again so I could try and be less awkward (although I doubt that would happen).

Victoria Schwab
*as V.E. Schwab 
- Although I've only read The Archived (I KNOW), Victoria Schwab has seriously impressed me, both with her book and with her tweets. She tweets some really inspiring things and I'm just astounded by how she manages to do it all!

Sophie Kinsella
- I was 11 when I first read a Sophie Kinsella book. I wasn't a huge reader then, but I devoured her books. And I've been a fan ever since. I would love to meet the author that really got 11 year old me into reading!
What are the authors you'd most like to meet?
- Ciara (Lost at Midnight)

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Waiting On Wednesday (75): Hold Me Like a Breath by Tiffany Schmidt

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine in which bloggers talk about the books they are most eager for!

This Week's Pick: Hold Me Like a Breath (Once Upon A Crime Family #1) by Tiffany Schmidt
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Release Date: May 19th, 2015

Penelope Landlow has grown up with the knowledge that almost anything can be bought or sold—including body parts. She’s the daughter of one of the three crime families that control the black market for organ transplants.

Penelope’s surrounded by all the suffocating privilege and protection her family can provide, but they can't protect her from the autoimmune disorder that causes her to bruise so easily.

And in her family's line of work no one can be safe forever.

All Penelope has ever wanted is freedom and independence. But when she’s caught in the crossfire as rival families scramble for prominence, she learns that her wishes come with casualties, that betrayal hurts worse than bruises, that love is a risk worth taking . . . and maybe she’s not as fragile as everyone thinks. (Summary from Goodreads)

I love this cover. Also, this title. Also, the concept of this book. Basically, I'm just really excited about Hold Me Like a Breath. It sounds creepy and atmospheric and romantic and maybe a bit coming-of-age-like. Essentially, everything I look for in a book. 

I cannot wait to get my hands on this one and read the heck out of it. (I also can't wait to get it signed and probably fangirl all over the place).

What are you waiting on this week?

- Ciara (Lost at Midnight)

Friday, May 1, 2015

Review: Cody and the Fountain of Happiness by Tricia Springstubb

Title: Cody and the Fountain of Happiness
Series: Cody (#1)
Author: Tricia Springstubb
Illustrator: Eliza Wheeler
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Release Date: April 14th, 2015
Source: ARC received from publisher in exchange for an honest review

My Rating: 3/5

Middle-grade readers drawn to Judy Moody or Clementine will find a funny and charismatic companion in Cody.

For whimsical Cody, many things are beautiful, especially ants who say hello by rubbing feelers. But nothing is as beautiful as the first day of summer vacation, and Cody doesn’t want to waste one minute of it. Meanwhile, teenage brother Wyatt is moping over a girl, Mom is stressed about her new job as Head of Shoes, Dad is off hauling chairs in his long-distance truck, and even camp has been closed for the summer. What to do? Just when all seems lost, Cody bumps into a neighborhood boy named Spencer who is looking for a runaway cat. With a new friend and a soon-to-be-found cat, Cody is on her way to the fountain of happiness. (Summary from Goodreads)

I adore middle grade. Have I mentioned that recently? Because I do. Middle grade books are fun and sweet and magical and real. They excel in delight and adventure, and Cody and the Fountain of Happiness had that in spades. I hadn't heard of this one until it appeared in a package from the lovely peeps at Penguin Random House. I thought the cover was delightful and, when I had a spare afternoon, I decided to pick it up. The insides were just a delightful as the cover, and Cody was a star.

Cody is quirky. She's clever and friendly and determined. She loves summer and cats and her family. She's a little girl with a big heart. She may not always do the right thing, but she always has good intentions. And I really liked that about her. Her friend Spencer, the little boy next's door, was her perfect balance. He may not have been as adventurous, but he really believed in Cody. Add in a sweet old grandmother, an awkward older brother, a questioning babysitter, a loving mother, and an escape artist cat and you have quite the cast of characters. Each of them added something new and really helped Cody become that awesome little girl she is.

I think Cody is definitely targeted towards a younger audience (think more Ivy & Bean than Diary of a Wimpy Kid). That's not a bad thing but, on a personal level, I found it a bit harder to get into because of that. Now, I know I'm not the target audience so that doesn't really matter in the grand scheme of things. I think this book will be a lot of fun of for that age group. It's adventurous without ever leaving the confines of one neighbourhood street. It's charming with it's quirky cast of characters. It's sweet with it's message of becoming a family. It has a heck of a lot going for it and I think there's going to be a lot of little readers out there that love Cody. I just wanted a little something more. I wanted to connect to it more. On an outside level, I can look at all the positives. But I never fully connected to the story. Again, it's probably because an age thing. I don't normally read books targeted for younger middle grade so it was a bit harder to adjust to.

One of the big things I loved about this book was it's diversity! It's so nice to see such a diverse cast of characters in a middle grade book. I think it's so important kids read about diversity, so I was really happy that was a big element to the story. Another thing I adored was the illustrations. They were cute and quirky and perfectly matched the vibe of the story. There was one near the end of the book that took up almost both pages and I simply loved. 

Overall, I couldn't connect to Cody and the Fountain of Happiness enough to love it, but I definitely liked it. It's definitely one I would recommend to little girls and boys looking for book with heart and fun. It's a book that will remind you to notice all the little things that add to your fountain of happiness.

- Ciara (Lost at Midnight)   

Find This Book: Amazon | Chapters/Indigo | Goodreads | Penguin Random House's Website