Showing posts with label gina damico. Show all posts
Showing posts with label gina damico. Show all posts

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

2014's Best Book Covers (#amonthoffaves)

The Month of Favorites continues!

Today we're chatting about our 10 favorite book covers.  I couldn't tell from the prompt if we were supposed to keep this to books that we read in 2014 (or if it even has to be books that we've read...perhaps book covers we've admired but not yet picked up?), but since it's the end of the year and we're wrapping up, I decided to limit this to books I read in 2014.

However...I've only read 43 books so far this year, and choosing 10 would mean nearly a quarter of the books I read this year would have to have eye-catching covers.  Which is not the case, unfortunately.  So instead, this is my top 5 book covers of books I read in 2014, because I was only honestly able to pick out 5 that seemed exceptional!

In no particular order...

1. Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult  (review)

It's just so pretty and calming.  Sometimes simplicity is all I want from a book cover.

2. The Blonde by Anna Godbersen  (review)

As much as I disliked the book itself, the cover is fairly dramatic.

3. Croak by Gina Damico  (review)

If you've read this book, you'll know that the main character (Lex) is fairly sassy and bad-ass, and this picture sums her up so well.  Plus, you know, scythe.  Kind of disarming.

4. What I Had Before I Had You by Sarah Cornwell  (review)

Makes me want summer and roller coasters and slurpees.

5. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman  (review)

The image of the girl in the water is beautiful, but also rather haunting.  A perfect fit for this novel.

What say you, readers?  Did you read anything with an especially lovely cover this year?

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Rochester Teen Book Festival RECAP!

Those of you that follow me on Twitter know that I spent this past Saturday at the Rochester Teen Book Festival in lovely Rochester, NY.  (Twitter followers know it best because I totally GOT MY LIVE-TWEET ON.  Woo wooooooo!)

To say that I had a good time would be an understatement.  This was my first time at this event, and I will totally be there again next year.  WITH a bigger book bag.  Let's recap.

I showed up around 10am for the opening ceremony.  The festival was at Nazareth College, and the opener was in their big gym.  It basically turned into a giant pep rally for the authors, which was pretty cool.  They played a little "Truth or Talent" game, where each author had to come up to the microphone and share a truth, or a random talent.  Please enjoy this photo of Jay Asher impersonating seaweed while Alethea Kontis and Amber Lough sing along:

And Joelle Charbonneau singing opera:

Also, let it be noted that at this point, I realized that the only people older than me in the audience were probably parents who brought their teens, and the authors themselves.  (Even that is debatable though, there were a bunch of teen authors there...)  LOL.  #sorrynotsorry

After the pep rally, the breakout sessions began.  It was SO HARD to choose between sessions, since there were so many good ones, but here are the four I attended with a small recap of each:

1. Laurie Halse Anderson

Irreverent, funny, outspoken.  Those are the three words I wrote down after Anderson's talk.  She discussed many questions that people had about her books, but more importantly, she wasn't afraid to make impassioned statements about touchy subjects like feminism, racism, alcoholism, and sexual abuse.  This was a very empowering session, especially for the teens in the audience.  So awesome.

Laurie Halse Anderson and moi.  Wish I knew she was making a crazy face so I could have gotten in on the action.  NO FAIR, LAURIE.
*Also: at this session I met up with the illustrious Katie from Doing Dewey!  My first time meeting a blog friend in real life!  We attended a few sessions together throughout the day and had a great time connecting in person.  Also, you should all know that she apologizes profusely for getting her Bout of Books post up late.  I witnessed her contrition as she was trying to post it via her smartphone.  LOL.
Book bloggers unite!
2. Ellen Hopkins

Another wonderful session.  Hopkins started with a reading from her upcoming book, Rumble (excellent!), and then gave updates about her daughter (who the Crank trilogy is based upon).  Wow, what disheartening stuff.  Her daughter is in prison yet again, and pregnant with her seventh baby.  She's now been battling addiction for 18 years.  Hopkins has custody of her daughter's oldest son (now 17) and her three youngest children (ages 4, 5, and 10).  Many have accused her of exploiting her daughter's story for her books, but Hopkins said this is not just her daughter's story--it is her story, her husband's story, her grandchildrens' story, etc. and she feels it is important to share that in order to keep young readers away from this life.

Afterwards, she asked the teens in the audience to share some concerns that they are dealing with in their own lives.  I was blown away by some of the situations these kids shared.  Sickness, abuse, etc...there was a lot of strength in that room.  A very heavy session indeed.

3. Gina Damico

After two discussions that were pretty serious and issue-based, I needed something a little lighter.  I knew Gina Damico would be just the ticket, since I loved the humor in Croak.  Gina was friendly, funny, and down-to-earth.  You can tell she's newer to the publishing world than the previous two authors I visited, and I don't mean that in a bad way.  She had a more carefree attitude that I imagine was inspiring for the aspiring teen writers in the audience.  She talked about her road to authorship, and then took questions about the book.  Lots of laughs and overall a good session for fans of her work.

4. A.S. King and Andrew Smith

For my last sessions, I was really torn between this one, and Jay Asher's.  I decided to go here because I adored King's Ask The Passengers, and I hadn't read anything of Smith's yet, so I figured it would open me up to some new material.  I'm so glad I made this choice!  Kind and Smith based their session on the idea of boxes--that is, how NOT to use them.  They discussed how to avoid "boxing people in", by things like race, gender, sexuality, etc.  They also argued that the same should be done for books.  For example, they both expressed frustration about the fact that they've published books that have gay characters, and then those book are automatically grouped as "gay literature" when really, the main themes of those novels had little to do with sexuality.  They encouraged readers to go into any book with an open mind, regardless of the genre you've been told the book falls into.  Great advice for any reader!  I was really impressed by their session and ended up buying Andrew Smith's Winger at the book sale later.

After the breakouts, it was book signing time!  I had my big ol' bag with me, and spent the full two hours waiting in lines.  In the end, this was my haul:

All of the authors I met were incredibly nice.  I am very socially awkward at signings (please refer to the embarrassment of my Dennis Lehane signing), so I didn't say much, other than a "how are you?" and "thanks so much!".  They were all very gracious though, and Laurie Halse Anderson was especially chatty (her line was AGES long as a result, but worth it!!).  However, I did ask Andrew Smith for training tips for my half marathon (he's completed a whole bunch of marathons and runs every day).  He seemed happy to share, saying that 13.1 miles is nothing (I suppose that's true when you run 26.2!) and that I should just enjoy the run.  Points well taken.  Now when I start getting tired and whiny at mile 5, I'll just imagine Andrew Smith in my mind yelling, "THIS IS NOTHING!!"  (I'm sure that's exactly what he intended.)
A.S. King during signings
There you have it, reader friends!  My first major book event, and I loved every minute.  You know what one of the best parts of the day was?  Seeing all these teenagers who were TOTALLY STOKED about reading!  The teens in the audience asked all the best questions during every session.  I saw one girl break into tears when she met Jay Asher in person for the first time.  Neal Shusterman had a pack of groupies with him every time I saw him walking between sessions.  The book love was EVERYWHERE.  These kids give me hope for the future of the literary world.

So, who's coming with me next year??

Friday, April 18, 2014

Book Review: Croak by Gina Damico


Title: Croak
Author: Gina Damico
Publisher: Graphia Books
Publication Date: March 20, 2012
Source: personal purchase

Summary from Goodreads

Fed up with her wild behavior, sixteen-year-old Lex's parents ship her off to upstate New York to live with her Uncle Mort for the summer, hoping that a few months of dirty farm work will whip her back into shape.

But Uncle Mort's true occupation is much dirtier than shoveling manure. He's a Grim Reaper. And he's going to teach Lex the family business.

She quickly assimilates into the peculiar world of Croak, a town populated by reapers who deliver souls from this life to the next. But Lex can't stop her desire for justice - or is it vengeance? - whenever she encounters a murder victim, craving to stop the attackers before they can strike again.

Will she ditch Croak and go rogue with her reaper skills?


My Review:

Yet another great young adult read in preparation for the Rochester Teen Book Festival!  So far I have really lucked out with the awesome authors I've been introduced to as I work my way through books for the event.

I saw Croak doing the blog rounds back when I started my little webspace here in 2012.  I remember seeing a lot of good reviews, but at the time I wasn't in much of a YA mood, so I skipped it.  However, when I saw that Gina Damico was going to be at TBF, I figured it was time to give this book a try.  Admittedly, I was a little skeptical at first...this is borderline with the YA paranormal genre, which I have been HIGHLY leery of since Twilight.  But I'm happy to report that my reservations were unfounded.

Croak gave me so much to love.  First you have Lex, your highly volatile, rude, humorous, and smart protagonist.  She has a harder core than most other teenage main characters, which is probably why I liked her so much.  Plus, she does have a love interest in this novel, but thankfully it's not all schmoopy-doopy, which I cannot stand in YA books (OMG, Bella and Edward, give me a BREAK).

But the very best thing about Croak is the world-building.  Damico has come up with one of the most interesting interpretations of the afterlife that I've ever encountered.  It does make me laugh a little--the idea of a tiny town in the Adirondacks where Grim Reapers live, quietly storing the souls of all the dead as unassuming hikers and tourists live around them.  But Damico gives it such a clear backstory that it's hard not to find it believable.

The only bummer about this book?  I had no idea (until the end) that it's part of a TRILOGY!  GAHHHHH.  Here I was, expecting a nice wrapped-up ending, and instead I earned myself a cliffhanger and two more books on my TBR list.  Ah well.  Given how much I liked Croak, I'm definitely going to have to track down Scorch and Rogue (books 2 and 3) ASAP.

Don't fear the reaper, readers!  Have you read any books that have interesting interpretations of the afterlife?
 
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