Ontario Teen Book Fest Blog Tour: Spotlight on Andrew Smith

I am so pleased to, visit web yet again, approved bring the official Ontario Teen Book Fest blog tour to What A Nerd Girl Says and other amazing Southern California bloggers! This event is one of my absolute favorite events of the year and I’m sure this one is going to be just as great, even not better, than previous years!

When:

Saturday, March 12th, 2016

9:30 am to 5 pm

Where:

Colony High School Branch Library
3850 E. Riverside Drive
Ontario, CA 91761

This event is a completely free and un-ticketed event! Priority seating WILL be given to teens, but come one, come all! There will also be giveaways and raffles at the Fest, also free! Also, keep scrolling to find a giveaway held by us bloggers!

You can visit the website, to see the full schedule of the day by visiting the official Ontario Teen Book Fest website.

Books WILL be available for purchase at the event, available from Once Upon a Time Bookstore :) They are an amazing company so definitely bring your books from home, but try and support Once Upon a Time by purchasing a book!

Its going to be an incredible event and I’m honestly counting down the days! I hope you can come along for the ride, in the days leading up to the event.  Check out the full blog tour here!

Official Blog Tour Schedule

February 22nd – Spotlight on Andrew SmithWhat A Nerd Girl Says

February 23rd – Spotlight on Alexandra MonirThe Consummate Reader

February 24th – Spotlight on April TucholkeAdventures of a Book Junkie

February 25th – Spotlight on Alexis BassA Traveling Book

February 26th – Spotlight on Marissa MeyerRead Now Sleep Later

February 27th – Spotlight on Sara Elizabeth SantanaMovies, Shows and Books

February 28th – Spotlight on Robin ReulRecently Acquired Obsessions

February 29th – Spotlight on Katherine KottarasiFandoms Collide

March 1st – Spotlight on Stephanie DiazMy Fangirl Chronicles

March 2nd – Spotlight on Virginia BoeckerThe Reader’s Antidote

March 3rd – Spotlight on Mary McCoyBook You Very Much

March 4th – Spotlight on Brad GottfredSeeking Bazinga

March 5th – Spotlight on Michelle LevyMy Fangirl Chronicles

March 6th – Spotlight on Elana K ArnoldRead Now Sleep Later

March 7th – Spotlight on Kristin HalbrookWhat A Nerd Girl Says

March 8th – Spotlight on Jessica BrodyThe Windy Pages

March 9th – Spotlight on Nicole MaggiNite Lite Book Reviews

March 10th – Spotlight on Jay AsherA Bookish Escape

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Today’s Spotlight Is:

ANDREW SMITH 

Andrew Smith is the award-winning author of several Young Adult novels, including the critically acclaimed Grasshopper Jungle (2015 Michael L. Printz Honor, 2014 Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, Carnegie Medal Longlist) and Winger. He is a native-born Californian who spent most of his formative years traveling the world. His university studies focused on Political Science, Journalism, and Literature. He has published numerous short stories and articles. The Alex Crow, a starred novel by Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, and Booklist, is his ninth novel. He lives in Southern California.

His Website / His Facebook / His GoodReads / His Twitter / His Instagram

His Books

There are actually so many that he’s written, and all of them are absolutely fabulous. I encourage you to follow him on GoodReads and add ALL of the books. However, I am spotlighting Stand-Off since its his most recent release :)

It’s his last year at Pine Mountain, and Ryan Dean should be focused on his future, but instead, he’s haunted by his past. His rugby coach expects him to fill the roles once played by his lost friend, Joey, as the rugby team’s stand-off and new captain. And somehow he’s stuck rooming with twelve-year-old freshman Sam Abernathy, a cooking whiz with extreme claustrophobia and a serious crush on Annie Altman—aka Ryan Dean’s girlfriend, for now, anyway.

Equally distressing, Ryan Dean’s doodles and drawings don’t offer the relief they used to. He’s convinced N.A.T.E. (the Next Accidental Terrible Experience) is lurking around every corner—and then he runs into Joey’s younger brother Nico, who makes Ryan Dean feel paranoid that he’s avoiding him. Will Ryan Dean ever regain his sanity?

Find His Books at Your Local Bookstore of the Following Links:

Amazon / Barnes and Noble / iBooks / Book Depository

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The Interview

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Nerd Girl: Tell us about your current work in progress. What can we expect from you in the future? 

Andrew: I just submitted a novel to my editor, and I’m not really allowed to give specific details about it at this time, but I can say it’s a crazy speculative futuristic space opera-ish kind of thing. With a giraffe in it. I put the giraffe character in the book as a nod to my friend Jandy Nelson.

 

Nerd Girl: Your most recent release is STAND OFF, the sequel to Winger: what made you decide to continue Ryan Dean’s story?

 

Andrew: Probably it was pressure from readers. I still get emails every day from people of all ages, all over the world, about WINGER. Also, I really missed those characters, and writing STAND-OFF was so fun.

 

Nerd Girl: Ryan Dean struggles a lot with anxiety and PTSD in the second book in STAND OFF, after what he experienced in WINGER. As someone who struggles with similar mental issues, it felt very realistic and relatable. Was it hard to write him with this change in his personality, and did you have to do any research in order to write it the way you did?

 

Andrew: Ha ha! Been there, done that, too. Also, I never actually used terms like PTSD or anxiety in the book, I only wanted to key in on the feelings Ryan Dean was going through, and I think that made those experiences more relatable on a broad level for readers.

Nerd Girl: What is your writing process like? How do you balance writing full length novels with working your job as a teacher? How do you keep yourself motivated?

 

Andrew: Whenever I teach writers, I stress that self-discipline is an invisible but perhaps most important ingredient in what we produce. It’s easy to talk about craft, mechanics, and technique, but if you don’t get off your butt and hit the keyboard, absolutely none of that matters. It’s very difficult at times, and time exists in finite quantities, so you just have to make sure what you’re doing is going to get you where you most want to be. But as far as my personal writing is concerned, I motivate myself by building puzzles into my stories, and by always trying to do something I’ve never tried, and something that nobody else is doing. At least, I try.

 

Nerd Girl: Seeing as this is a teen book fest, I’d like to ask what were some of your favorite books as a teenager? Also, what are some of your favorite current teen reads?

 

Andrew: I read a wide range of thick, weird books when I was a teen. I remember reading–on my own–books like MOBY DICK by Herman Melville, THE IDIOT by Fyodor Dostoevsky, and FOUNDATION by Isaac Asimov.

Current YA that I’ve enjoyed (and I hope you know my favorite author is A.S. King, so I’ll spare you the expected list of all her titles): THE GREAT AMERICAN WHATEVER by Tim Federle and THE MEMORY OF THINGS by Gae Polisner. But I don’t think those are out yet.

 

Nerd Girl: What is one thing you learned about writing that you didn’t learn until after you got published?

 

Andrew: Like most people who get published, I didn’t know ANYTHING about the publishing industry when I got published. But, as far as writing goes, I think that working with the amazing editors I’ve had the opportunity to work with has taught me to recognize some of the common mistakes that young writers make in terms of craft, and this has definitely helped me to be a better, more efficient, writer.

 

Nerd Girl: You get the phone call that you’re getting published: what is your reaction? How did you celebrate?

 

Andrew: I kind of passed out, I think. And nobody in my family knew I’d been writing all those years. So I took my wife and kids out to dinner and told them what was going to happen.

 

Nerd Girl: You’ve often said that you don’t necessarily write books FOR teens but ABOUT teens…so why did you choose to write about teens? And why do you think its important to make the point that your books aren’t necessarily just for teens?
Andrew: Some of my favorite books ever have adolescent protagonists: THE ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN by Mark Twain, ‘SALEM’S LOT by Stephen King, and Cormac McCarthy’s ALL THE PRETTY HORSES and THE CROSSING. I’ve always liked writing about the adolescent experience for two main reasons: First, adolescence is universal; it’s something we’ve all gone through, and second, I think we all look back on our teenage years as being some of the most significant, shaping years in our lives; times we tend to think about every day.

 

Nerd Girl: What is one of your favorite moments from when you were a teen?
Andrew: Stealing my dad’s car, ditching school, and driving to the beach.

 

Nerd Girl: Last question, who is your fictional crush?
Andrew: Oh gosh. I’d have to say Buffalo Bill from SILENCE OF THE LAMBS.

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The Giveaway!

One winner will receive an official Ontario Teen Book Fest poster signed by ALL attending authors!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Book Review: Stand-Off by Andrew Smith

Genre: 

Young Adult, see Contemporary

Pages: 

416 pages

Part of a Series?:

2nd book in the Winger series

Release Date: 

September 8th, more about 2015

You Can Find the Book At:

GoodReads

Barnes and Noble

Book Depository

iBooks

Author Website

GoodReads Summary: 

Ryan Dean West is back to his boarding school antics in this bitingly funny sequel to Winger, information pills which Publishers Weekly called “alternately hilarious and painful, awkward and enlightening” (Publishers Weekly, starred review).

It’s his last year at Pine Mountain, and Ryan Dean should be focused on his future, but instead, he’s haunted by his past. His rugby coach expects him to fill the roles once played by his lost friend, Joey, as the rugby team’s stand-off and new captain. And somehow he’s stuck rooming with twelve-year-old freshman Sam Abernathy, a cooking whiz with extreme claustrophobia and a serious crush on Annie Altman—aka Ryan Dean’s girlfriend, for now, anyway.

Equally distressing, Ryan Dean’s doodles and drawings don’t offer the relief they used to. He’s convinced N.A.T.E. (the Next Accidental Terrible Experience) is lurking around every corner—and then he runs into Joey’s younger brother Nico, who makes Ryan Dean feel paranoid that he’s avoiding him. Will Ryan Dean ever regain his sanity?

My Review:

 

I can’t believe that it has taken me so long to review this novel! I literally picked this up ON release day and READ it on that day and I still haven’t reviewed it. So much disappointment in myself right now.

But I’m here now! Reviewing. Talking. Doing my thing. You know, the whole point of this blog haha.

Straight up…Andrew Smith writes another amazing novel. Seriously. I spent so much of this book just laughing my ass off. The character Ryan Dean…he’s just amazing. I love everything about him because he seems SO damn real. Sometimes I forget that he’s not real. The way he narrates the story, and tells you what is going on in his life feels like a text message from your best friend and you alternately want to laugh and also punch in the face at the same.

I love that we see some of the same people from the previous book like Annie and those guys but I also absolutely love the new ones we meet too. Even the smaller ones from the last book that become more important, more prominent were great too. Sam Abernathy? I can’t…I can’t even begin to explain how much I absolutely adore him and how much it made me laugh when Sam drove Ryan Dean insane.

But I also love how Andrew Smith is able to write such a great, amazing, funny book about something so serious. Ryan Dean is going through some serious stuff in this book. Dealing with Joey’s death from the previous book and taking his place on the rugby team, and being afraid of losing his friends, of not being able to talk to Joey’s brother, of losing Annie, all of that..it felt so real and raw and while you’re laughing, you’re also incredibly emotional as hell and the fact that Andrew can do that, just blows my mind. There’s also the fact that Andrew writes panic attacks so well…when Ryan Dean wakes up, paralyzed in bed, having a hard time breathing…it hurt. As someone who struggles with that, its a visceral feeling to read a scene written so well like that.

Straight up, another amazing book by Andrew Smith. I could go on and on and I’m, like, the unofficial president of the unofficial Andrew Smith fan club and I love everything he does and Winger is one of my favorite books ever, and I was very excited for this book and I wasn’t disappointed in the slightest.

Plus Andrew said that we are getting more books, with Sam Abernathy, so I’m just stoked on life ;)

Rating: 

5 out of 5 Stars

Let’s Talk About…Andrew Smith and Sexism

Today, patient an interview came to my attention, ambulance an interview concerning one of my favorite authors, more about Andrew Smith, who just released his newest book, The Alex Crow, yesterday. The interview seemed to be going quite well until the last question. And then things seemed to sort of…implode. Take a look.

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So basically what happened is this: Andrew Smith answers this question in the same way that he writes his books: with complete honesty. And what emerged was a ton of outrage and claims that Andrew Smith is sexist. He doesn’t write female characters, he doesn’t write books that females can read, and he doesn’t want to try.

One particular response that I read (which I refuse to link because honestly she doesn’t deserve the views), points out Andrew writes science fiction and fantasy. How is it that he can write about horny grasshoppers and that sort of thing but he can’t contemplate writing about girls? “The fact that he can do this — because he has a great imagination — suggests that women are more alien to him and to the context of white men in America than are giant bugs and pedophiles”.

And I fumed up. About this response and the many responses to this.

One, I think this was taking completely out of context.

Two, the lady who wrote that above. She’s only read one of Andrew’s books and she admits it was years ago. Good one. Keep writing about things you don’t know, honey.

Three, this question is already negative. It says right in that first sentence “there isn’t much of a way into your books for female readers”. They’re calling Andrew out already before he’s even had a chance to respond, and they’re completely wrong too.

There isn’t much of a way into his books for female readers? Says who? Because the main characters are male? Sorry to be so ineloquent about this but seriously, that’s complete and utter bullshit. I don’t care about the gender of the main characters when I read novels. I care about how well the book is written, how good the storytelling is, and how well I connect with the main character. When I read Ryan Dean’s story or Austin’s or Finn’s or Ariel’s, I’m not sitting there, thinking, “I can’t connect with them because they’re boys”. Of course not! I’m sitting there and going, I’m so Ryan Dean because I get his obsessed with rugby (baseball for me), and I get Austin because he’s struggling with his sexuality. And so forth. To suggest that females need female characters in order to read a book is the sexist remark here. I actually frequently enjoy reading male characters in YA because its so rare that we get to anymore.

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This picture (credit to Katie Ferguson) was taken at the Pasadena Teen Book Fest last April. This is Andrew Smith, signing his books, and yes, that’s me in the background. But let’s see…there’s no way for females to get into his books and yet…this entire line is female. Every. Single. One. You still wanna tell me that its impossible for girls to read his book? Really? Tell me more…

Four, Andrew’s answers. He immediately says: I spent my life around boys, I am a boy, I don’t have a lot of experience with girls, not until my daughter, so I write about boys. Yeah, he’s saying “I don’t really get girls”. Not “I don’t want to understand girls” or any of that. I’m a writer and one of the biggest writing things we’re told over and over and over again is to write what we know and what Andrew Smith knows is teenage boys. Makes sense to me. One thing that has always stood out as a major reason that I love Andrew’s books so much is that his character’s voices are SO real and raw and genuine, more so than any other characters I’ve read before.

But people take this out of context, like he has no desire to learn about females, because they’re so complex when compared to grasshoppers, etc. That’s not what he meant at all.

Look, I’m a writer. I write 100% female protagonists. Why? Because that’s what I feel comfortable with. The very last chapter of my science fiction novel is told from the male lead’s point of view and a few time in my current work in progress has some point of view insight from that male lead. And even though both of those are so small, I don’t feel 100% comfortable with it. I don’t know that my voices for those characters are authentic enough. I don’t think I’ll ever write a novel with a male protagonist. I don’t feel comfortable with it, I won’t feel like I’m writing a strong enough character.

Look I don’t know exactly what was going on when Andrew answered this question. I can only read it. Maybe if I had been in the room, I could have read his facial expression or read his tone. Perhaps he was being serious and is saying, look I write what I know. I know teen boys and I know their voices and that’s what I’m going to do. Perhaps he thought it was a stupid question (which straight up, it is) and he gave a stupid answer. I don’t know. I do know that he said he was “trying to be better” and he even talks about how a core thing in The Alex Crow is about the failure of male societies. Doesn’t sound that sexist to me…

I do know this. I’ve met Andrew Smith on several occasions. I’ve interviewed him, and read several of his books, and feel confident enough to call him a friend. We’re not super close or anything but we’re on first name basis, and I know him well enough to say this…he’s the last person I would call sexist. He’s the last person that I would lump in with white American males, bla bla bla. He’s one of the kindest and funniest people I’ve met, and I’m always happy to talk to him. He’s an incredible writer and storyteller. He has shown nothing but absolute respect for me, and has done nothing but encourage me in my own endeavors to become a writer.

In fact, once I wrote a FB status, saying that I wasn’t sure if I was going to write a baseball novel, because I wasn’t sure if it was going to work and honestly I didn’t know if people would even care to read about it, especially in YA. But Andrew basically commented on my status and was like, I’d read it, just write it, screw everyone else, just write it. And I took that to heart. He’s a great person, who loves his family (his wife, his son and his daughter), he’s great with his students and he’s always available to his fans and bloggers and aspiring authors. I would never, even for a moment, think of him as sexist. I read that answer above, and it just made sense to me. He creates natural, relatable, genuine teenage boys in his stories and I can’t really imagine him writing as a girl. Doesn’t seem to fit to me.

Look, I’ve written more than I meant to. Basically, it comes down to this: Andrew is one of most genuine and kindest people I’ve ever met. He’s a kickass storyteller and he’s honest as he can be and today that bit him in the ass in a way that he doesn’t deserve. His comment is taken out of context, and frankly, by someone who doesn’t have much say in it anyway, having only read one of his books. It seems to me as another avenue to attack someone in the name of “feminism”, but the sort of feminism that is more male-hating, less about equality.

Andrew writes male characters. No big deal. No one is getting in Cassandra Clare’s face or Veronica Roth’s face or Suzanne Collin’s or any other popular YA author who writes female characters and demands to know why they aren’t writing male voices. It only happens because its switched. Andrew doesn’t write females….well, must mean he’s sexist. Um. No. He writes what he knows and well, he does it pretty damn well. And most of the people that I know who have read and loved his books and are huge fans of his…yup, you guessed it right, they’re female.

It hurts me to see this happening, especially when its so unwarranted. He’s a talented writer, and an awesome guy. He’s deleted his social medias, whether in response or not, I’m not sure, and I already miss him for sure. He doesn’t deserve any of that. I wasn’t going to read this stuff, I wasn’t going to get involved but I honestly had to. When I saw fellow YA authors ganging up against him as well, I just couldn’t handle it. Yeah, maybe it should have been worded differently. Maybe you had to be there. Maybe, maybe, maybe. But anyone who KNOWS Andrew Smith knows that this is NOT the person he is nor is he the person that puts females below males at all. Sometimes I think these people are also forgetting the high regard that he has for fellow authors like AS King and Laurie Halse Anderson, etc. He’s honestly the last person I would even think this of, and I can’t believe the incredibly ridiculous response to it.

I don’t much want to write anything else, mostly because I’m still fuming and I just can’t understand how people can jump to this sort of conclusion. I can only assume that they don’t know Andrew Smith, haven’t read his books, or are the sort of person that loves to make quick judgements about men in general, assuming that they’re all anti-feminist. But meh, what do I know? What I do know is that I adore Andrew, I support him and his books and I hope that my fans and friends will do the same.

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Tuesday Top Ten – Favorite New Releases of 2014!

I seriously hate writing these lists. Seriously. Because the segment is called the Tuesday Top Ten. I’ve read 120-something books this year and, sale yeah, sick sure, a good number of them were either re-reads or books that were released previous to the year 2014. But I would say a majority of those books were brand new releases.

And I’m just supposed to narrow them down to the ones that I liked the most. I mean, come on. That’s just mean. And hard. I’ve read so MANY great and fantastic books this year. It just blows my mind how authors can just continue to write amazing stories over and over and over again.

And yes, I’m the brains of this operation which means, technically, I could make a whole huge list of books that came out this year that I loved but they legit would all make the list and the point of this is to highlight the ones that really stood out to me this year.

So that’s just what I’m going to do! Check it out :)

10. All Lined Up by Cora Carmack

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I was looking forward to this book because it has three of my favorite things in the world: romance, hot boys with abs and football. I hadn’t been massively impressed with Cora so far but this book completely changed my mind and I loved the second one as well. I definitely could use more Rusk boys in my life.

9. Cress by Marissa Meyer

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I was DYING for this book and when I finally got my hands on it, I was in the worst slump ever. Took me about a week and a half to read this book, but when I finally did, I was just blown away. Cress is an incredible character and I absolutely love this book. I couldn’t believe how long I had to wait (and am still waiting) for the final book.

8. Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson

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Oh Morgan  Matson. Please never stop writing. The closeness I felt to this book, the inability to remember how to do things, live life, make friends, have fun without your best friend…I totally understand that. Plus she’s just such a fun writer. Reading her books is easy, you just get sucked in and suddenly you realized hours have passed and you haven’t even moved.

7. Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch

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This book completely blew my mind. I needed a really good fantasy book in my life and this one completely and totally delivered. I was just blown away by the incredible world building that Sara created in this novel and I loved every character that we meet, even the villains because I can appreciate a really well written villain. And I loved the surprises. I love when I’m reading and I feel like I have a handle on the story and something completely throws me off. Its beautiful and I absolutely love it. Get this book.

6. Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

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I LOVE Anna and the French Kiss. I LOVE Lola and the Boy Next Door. I literally ADORE and am OBSESSED with Isla and Josh and this story. I read this just a week before I broke up with my boyfriend and when I knew things weren’t good, and that’s kind of why I like this novel. This book is about romance, about how we get caught up in it and we forget that it can be hard work and that things aren’t always easy and they aren’t always sunshine and rainbows. That hit me hard, and the beautiful reality of love in this story just broke my heart. I love love love this book. It has a happy ending, which is fantastic, but I loved seeing the struggle to get there.

5. Alienated by Melissa Landers

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I am sure you are all so tired of me putting this in your face but guess what? Nope. Not at all. Because I truly love this book. I seriously seriously love this book. I am so glad I ran into Melissa at ALA and brought this book into my life! Its so beautiful. Great science fiction, awesome humor and the romance is just…ugh, I’m fangirling.

4. Silver Shadows by Richelle Mead

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Dear Richelle Mead, Can I be your daughter? Love, Sara. I really liked The Fiery Heart but The Indigo Spell is my favorite so it was hard to follow that. Silver Shadows is now just below The Indigo Spell, because it just blew my mind. I loved the dual point of view and I loved the build up to the incredible climax and omg that cliffhanger broke my heart. A month until the end of it all!

3. The One by Kiera Cass

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I am so glad I got into Kiera Cass this year. I read The Selection at the very beginning of the year, at the urging of…someone. I can’t remember who. But I hadn’t really had a desire to. And now, I’m just stoked that I did because its such a good book. The Elite is a bit of a struggle to get through BUT The One was just a beautiful book. I was so emotional and I cried and when I met Kiera, I fangirled way too hard.

2. Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

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Dear Leigh Bardugo, please teach everyone in the world how to end a series. Seriously. So many series enders have been so disappointing, so lacking but this book just blew my mind. I sat down and just consumed it. It was absolutely fantastic. Everything came to an end, and it was heartbreaking, utterly heartbreaking and surprising and just…ugh. It made me so happy. I wish I could have even just a fraction of the talent that Leigh has.

1. Grasshopper Jungle and 100 Sideways Miles by Andrew Smith

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I cheated ;) I put two books for my number one but that’s just because I legit could not choose between these two. They are both so different but so unique and just brilliant. Andrew Smith is such a one of a kind author that just blows my mind. 100 Sideways Miles was incredible and Grasshopper Jungle was unlike anything I’ve ever read in my life. I literally have never read a book like GJ and it just was….it was about everything and it was bizarre and funny and all of that. He’s truly brilliant. He might just end up on my top ten at the end of every year haha!

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What were some of your favorite new releases of 2014? Share in the comments

Tuesday Top Ten-Best Books I’ve Read So Far This Year

Today I have stolen my topic idea from The Broke and Bookish blog, sales which hosts the Top Ten Tuesday meme. I usually get ideas from them, tadalafil but I call mine something different…honestly because I didn’t know theirs existed when I started mine haha. And I do more than books, physician so there is that.

Today’s topic though…its June, near half way June, so we are basically at the halfway mark for the year of 2014. So what a perfect time to talk about the best books that I have read so far this year.

Let’s get to it.

And yes, I did a top 15…don’t attack me haha. It was SO hard to narrow it down!

Remember, clicking the title will take you to the book’s GoodReads page and clicking the author name will take you to their webpage!

15. Rebel by Amy Tintera

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Amy’s conclusion to her novel, Reboot, was incredible. I was so excited that I managed to get my hands on an e-galley of it, and I whipped through it so fast. Reboot is a major influence for The Awakened. Though they’re totally different spectrums of sci-fi, I love her writing, her style and the fact that she accomplished it in two books. I LOVED this book and my friend Mina just got me a signed copy so yay!

14. All Lined Up by Cora Carmack  

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I was massively impressed by this release of Cora Carmack. I think she’s a great writer but her stories honestly haven’t caught me quite yet but this one totally did. Football, hot boys and romance? You have me totally sold on that one. I can’t wait to read more in the Rusk University series.

13. Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins 

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This book kept popping up on my radar and the cover was so pretty that I am so glad I finally buckled down and bought this and read it. Harper is such a fun main character, all sass and attitude and hilarity, with these new, almost superhero like powers, and its just a great book. I loved every single bit of this novel.

12. Don’t Look Back by Jennifer L. Armentrout 

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I honestly don’t think that there has been a book yet that I’ve been disappointed in when it comes to Jennifer L. Armentrout. This book was so different from others that I’ve read from her in the past but it was just so good. It was scary! Every time the main character saw something in the mirror or got a note tucked into her backpack or something like that, I was just so scared. Such a great book.

11. Broken Hearts, Fences and Other Things to Mend by Katie Finn 

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Katie Finn is awesome, basically because its a lighter version of Morgan Matson, who I love…and its the same person. LOL. But I absolutely loved seeing a lighter, summer-y version of Morgan as Katie Finn and this book was SO much fun, and so delicious and…it just literally made me so excited for summer. Its the perfect summer read.

10. A Girl Called Fearless by Catherine Linka 

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What a beautiful, beautiful debut novel. I love it for so many reasons. Catherine Linka is SUCH a doll, and I love that its set in Los Angeles and Las Vegas. I love the main character, and I love the bad guys for being so creepy and scary. I love what she brings up in this novel. I love that it reminds you that girls have to fight for their rights, every day, in every single country. Its just SUCH a great book.

9. City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare

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Look, yes, I was massively disappointed in the end of this book. I honestly thought it was way too incredibly safe and that Cassie could have made much bigger sacrifices than she did. That being said…I still liked the book a lot. I wasn’t a fan of the “second” trilogy of TMI to be honest, but this book really brought it to a close and I was pleased with many parts of it. So it definitely makes the list.

8. Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira 

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YES! This book is so absolutely beautiful. Thank you Stephen Chbosky and Emma Watson for talking this book up, because then I got my hands on it and loved it. And I’ve met Ava several times, and become friends with her and she’s just the sweetest. This book is beautiful and wonderfully written and just heartbreaking. I absolutely love this book. Its a MUST read. And its going to be a movie, penned by Ava herself!

7. Cress by Marissa Meyer 

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The Lunar Chronicles blows my mind and they honestly get better with every single book. I LOVED CRESS. I feel bad because it took me so long to read it but I was in a massive slump back then and it was awful. But when I got caught up in this book, I couldn’t put it down and I just love it so much. I even wear a “Thorne is my captain” pin on my apron at work every single day. Such a great book and leaves me panting for Winter!

6. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

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Jenny Han is awesome. And yes, it took me reading this book to figure that out, but that’s okay. This is the book that made me a fan of Jenny Han. It was fun, and written so well, and I love the main character, and I love all the boys that make an appearance in this novel and I’m so excited for the sequel because this book was just so good. Jenny Han has contemporary YA romance in the palm of her hand, and she does it so well.

5. The One by Kiera Cass

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Oh, Kiera Cass. Only you can take something like this and make it so wonderful. She creates basically a story that puts The Hunger Games with the Bachelor, and a bunch of girls fighting over the hand of one prince, and a love triangle (a big one), and just makes it work. It sounds like something I would never read in a million years but this is SUCH a great trilogy and The One is an amazing ending to it. I am so glad I got to meet her and tell her how this blew my mind.

4. Unforgotten by Jessica Brody

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I was SO excited to finally get my hands on the sequel to Unremembered because I had questions that needed to be answered and then…and then! Jessica goes and leaves it on the biggest cliffhanger since Unremembered (haha), and leaves me literally dying for Unchanged. I can’t handle it. But being back with Sera and Zen, and in so many different time periods, and the action and the tension and the kissing…all of it was just so great and I am not kidding when I say I literally can’t wait to get my hands on Unchanged :)

3. Fire and Flood by Victoria Scott  

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Okay, talk about a book that literally came out of left field, and just knocked me down. I watched a live cast of Jessica Brody and Victoria Scott, and I thought Victoria was super cool so I had to get my hands on her book, and I did. I read it in literally about 2 hours. I LOVED it. I seriously…oh, god, don’t get me started. I just loved the whole thing of it. It has this epic survival story going on, and a race full of action and tension, and a hot guy (because we need hot guys and kissing, duh!) and the Pandoras. I won’t reveal what those are but the Pandoras are the coolest things in the entire world. I’m just saying.

2. Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson 

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Great summer book. Great book about friendship and breaking out of your shell and going out of the norm and falling in love and making new friends. Just such an amazing, great book. It reminds me that Morgan Matson has yet to disappoint me, and that she remains one of my favorite authors, period. She is just SO great, and I loved this book. I felt so close to the main character, and she felt so familiar. I could re-read this book again and again and again.

1. Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith 

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I have never read a book like this in my life before GJ and I doubt I’ll ever read a book like this again. Its literally a book about everything, and it made me laugh and it made me shake my head and raise my eyebrows and so many other things. This book is absolutely incredible because it takes so many bits and pieces and manages to fit them together in such a crazy good book. Every time I see it, I just shake my head and smile because I’m  just reminded of how much it blew my mind, and just…its amazing. Its the weirdest book I’ve ever read but its so good. You need to read this book. You just have to.

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Well, there you have it, folks. The top 15 books I’ve read so far this year. What are some of the best books you’ve read this year? Share in the comments!

L.A. Times Festival of Books 2014: Day One and Day Two Recap Vlogs!

Guys, doctor I just had SUCH an amazing weekend. This weekend was the annual Los Angeles Times Festival of Books at U.S.C., where the entire weekend is dedicated to the amazing culture of reading. It’s one of my favorite weekends of this year, and this year was no disappointment.

There was a team of five us: me, Sylvia from Fangirl Feeels, our friends Cassandra and Alexandra and my sister, Jessica. We had our game plans, and despite minor hiccups along the way, we managed to do everything that we wanted to do.

I met (and met again, for some) amazing authors this weekend: John Green (OHMYGOD), Rainbow Rowell, Lauren Oliver, Marissa Meyer, Sarah J Maas, Robin Benway, Veronica Roth, Lauren Myracle, Leigh Bardugo, Deb Caletti, Kiersten White, Andrew Smith and Stephanie Perkins.

But I won’t keep you from seeing my awesome vlogs. I vlogged while at the Fest so you get some pretty awkward and hilarious moments from me, a short video of my conversation with John Green and…lots of awkwardness haha.

Check it out!

Day One!

Day Two!

Yay! I hope you enjoyed seeing the awesomeness that was my weekend!

I managed to grab extra copies of Cinder, Anna and the French Kiss and Fangirl for a giveaway. There will NOT be a giveaway for the month of April (as of now), but there is a HUGE giveaway coming for my Blog Birthday in May so keep an eye out to see how you can get your hands on these books!

Oh! And don’t forget you can check out ALL the pictures on the What A Nerd Girl Says Facebook page here!

Happy Reading Everyone!

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