2014 Nutmeg Nominees

Each year a list of books is nominated for the Nutmeg Award. What’s really fantastic about this award is that the winners are chosen by students around the state, who read the books and vote for their favorite!

The winners of the 2013 Nutmeg Award are as follows:

Because of Mr. Terupt by Rob Buyea for Intermediate and Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry for Teens. I’m thrilled that Rot & Ruin won because it was such a fantastic novel. My students and I enjoyed it thoroughly!

This year is a little different because there are three categories. A new one was added for High School readers, and the books are great. It’s my hope to read many of them, and will included my reviews here. I did already read one, a graphic novel, and will post the review soon. I’ll also include a picture of the fun board I put up for students to challenge themselves with the novels.

FANTASTIC DEALS!

Hey everyone! You do NOT want to miss out on this at all. For some reason, maybe for Pride Month, Amazon is running a sale on a ton of Bold Strokes Books titles. Many of them are the incredible young adult novels that are NOT to be missed. I’ve included the titles and links in the following list so you can take advantage of the sale now while they’re only $.99 cents! YES. 99 CENTS. Can you even believe it?!

Mesmerized by David-Matthew Barnes: http://amzn.com/B007HBKZLO
In Stone by Jeremy Jordan King: http://amzn.com/B00A10E5LO
Father Knows Best by Lynda Sandoval? http://amzn.com/B0046REOMS
me@you.com by K.E. Payne: http://amzn.com/B0073YTUNE
Speaking Out edited by Steve Berman: http://amzn.com/B006F9FM44
365 Days by KE Payne: http://amzn.com/B005KCKYQS
Cursebusters! by Julie Smith: http://amzn.com/B007QPBRTK
Street Dreams by Tama Wise: http://amzn.com/B007FURBVO
ONLY $.99 CENTS GUYS! Get them while you can!

I have officially held a chipmunk…

And it only took going to Colorado to do it!

Hi everyone! Been too long since I updated. I figured I’d do it because I’m supposed to be working on edits for Meeting Chance. No better time than the present, eh?

So over Memorial Day Weekend I was in Estes Park, Colorado for a wedding. I fell in love with the place. Just a few days there and I can’t wait to go back. I’m seriously considering moving out there someday in the future. Maybe if everything works out and the stars align…

Anyway, I wanted to share a post I made on Facebook, in case there are any YA authors, or authors with YA appropriate books, who read this and are interested in participating.

ATTENTION YA AUTHORS! I had this great idea. My coworker has a board in her classroom that features teachers and students each month, their picture, and their favorite books. I would LOVE to do a featured author board in my classroom. I have giant boards and currently don’t really use them.
Would any of you like to be on my feature author board? ūüėÄ I would post your picture, a copy of your book, your top five favorite books appropriate for teens (or adult books that teens can read with no inappropriate content) and a few short questions for you to answer for the kids to learn more about you.
I really want to expose them to as many authors as possible. If you know someone who would be interested, please share this with them as well. If I don’t already have your YA book for my classroom, I will by it and add it to the collection.
I would likely start this next year as the school year is almost over, but I would love to get a head start so I can start preparing.

Book Review: Swans & Klons by Nora Olsen

What does it take to survive in a world built on lies?

Sixteen-year-old Rubric loves her pampered life in the Academy dormitory. She’s dating Salmon Jo, a brilliant and unpredictable   girl.   In their all-female world, non-human slaves called Klons do all the work. But when Rubric and Salmon Jo break into the laboratory where human and Klon babies   are   grown in vats, they uncover a terrifying secret that tears their idyllic world apart.

Their friends won’t believe them, and their teachers won’t help them. The Doctors who rule Society want to silence Rubric and   Salmon   Jo. The two girls must flee for their lives. As they face the unthinkable, the only thing they have left to believe in is their love for each other.

Imagine a world where men do not exist. Women not only run society, but they ARE society. As in the only members. In the distant future, male children are born with something wrong with them that ultimately causes them to become what the women call “Cretinous Males.” They are physically and mentally weaker to a large degree, making them giant children essentially. In this future society, women do not even give birth anymore. All children are created and raised in giant tubes until they are able to be born. And in order for humans to have a more meaningful life free from menial labor, Klons are created.

This book has a wonderful plot that takes readers on a journey of self-discovery, and shows what happens when the basic principal you have been taught all your life turns out to be a lie. Rubric and Salmon Jo do not find anything wrong with their world until they see something that makes them question just how Klons and Humans are created. They begin to wonder, what makes someone human? Even though this book is set in the distant future, it is a plausible world and when you consider genetic engineering that is done, and the creation of highly advanced AI, you have to wonder what DOES make someone human? What does it mean to be human?

I can easily see this as the first in a series, because the book leaves off at a place that could be the end, but also the beginning of another grand adventure. I’d love to see more of Rubric, Dream, Salmon Jo, and everyone else. There is a lot of potential here with what the author could do.

This book will be available from Bold Strokes Books on May 1, 2013. You can preorder your copy here.

Book Review: Tapestry by Hallie Burton

In Ollas, anything that stirs the emotions is forbidden by the governors‚ÄĒespecially music. So when Tallie Tarmelin, a farm boy from a lower-tier guild, is offered a scholarship for his talent in design, he keeps his head down and follows the rules. He’s terrified of breaking one of his society‚Äôs many laws and ruining his future. But feeling lost and alone in an unfamiliar city takes its toll, and Tallie accepts sympathy from a guildless social outcast even though he knows it could destroy his reputation.


Despite the rules against casual touching and fraternizing in public, Jonis Sinter offers Tallie comfort instead of denouncing him for an excessive emotional display, and they fast become friends. Secret friends, though, because Worran, the respectable son of a governor, has asked Tallie to be his partner.


When Worran‚Äôs mother learns of Tallie‚Äôs association with an outcast, she dispatches the militia. Worran sends Tallie a warning, and Tallie flees the city and civilization with Jonis. Surviving the wilds will take every ounce of perseverance they can muster, and the rediscovery of music might be their only solace‚ÄĒ unless they recognize the love that’s growing between them.

First of all, I adore the cover. But aside from that, here is my real review:

Wow. Where do I even begin with a book like this? I’m not even sure what genre it would be categorized under. It has some elements of fantasy, but not like in major fantasy novels, as the magic is not real, just assumed. It’s epic in scope, and features a utopian society. Parts of me feel like it takes place in our future where a section of our country is partitioned off by some method and then they seem to regress in some ways. So… historical at the same time? I even felt a bit of steampunk in there at times. Overall it’s a wonderfully disorienting experience when you read something so refreshingly new.

Tallie and Jonis are wonderful characters that I loved throughout the novel. At many parts they tugged at my heart and I needed a few moments to compose myself before reading on. I wanted to rush through the story to get at the end, and yet at the same time I forced myself to slow down and enjoy it. I didn’t want it to end. I want more from Tallie and Jonis, yet it feels like their adventure is over at the end of the book, especially given the last line. Another story in that world would be great, and yet I don’t think it would be as enjoyable without Tallie and Jonis present.

What a wonderful experience this book was, and that’s just what it is. An experience. Hallie Burton fully immerses readers in the world she created where loving someone of the same gender is so completely normal that it’s not questioned in the slightest. No one objects to it. The things that are objected to, the things that are forbidden, are elements we take for granted, such as music and dancing. And affection. Can you imagine living in a world without those things? I can’t.

Review: Kings of Ruin by Sam Cameron

Danny Kelly cares only for rock ‘n’ roll and fast cars. Too bad he’s stuck in the capital of country music and he’s banned from driving until he turns twenty-one. Plus he likes other boys, a secret that he’s vowed to keep until he graduates high school. When his stepdad’s new truck roars off on its own, Danny discovers a secret that is endangering cars and drivers across America. It almost kills Danny, too, until he’s saved by seventeen-year-old Kevin Clark. Kevin’s gay, handsome, and confident, but working with his dad’s secret government organization has left him lonely. It’s going to take a weekend of car chases, fiery explosions, and country-western singing to save the citizens of Nashville from certain death‚ÄĒbut can Danny protect his heart and secrets as well?

Okay, so this book doesn’t come out until March, but I received a copy to review from NetGalley. I love Sam Cameron’s YA series Fisher Key Adventures, and just like those books, this one does not disappoint.

This book has definite science fiction elements. The Ruins are a sort of alien being that come and enter engines to take over them. The Kings are the biggest Ruins and are set on having fun and do not care about destruction.

I loved the characters, both human and Ruin. Danny is a great character because he’s flawed but trying to do his best. He is gay, but he so desperately wants to hide that part of him. When things get strange and he meets Kevin, who is open about his sexuality, he almost blows his chance at something.

The author included great non-human characters. Even though they didn’t speak and weren’t on the page for long, I completely fell for FIREBUG, 2KEWLE, and CHOPR. These Ruins were tiny and had very human reactions to what went on around them. I hope this series is going to be a sequel because I want to see them again.

The book is filled with action and drama, both real and science fiction based. It might be the book that bridges the gap for some kids who aren’t sure if they like science fiction novels. This is definitely a book worth having on your YA shelf!

The book will be released on March 18, 2013. You can preorder your copy from Bold Strokes Books. 

Book Review: Wonderland by David-Matthew Barnes

From Bold Strokes Books:

After her mother loses her battle to cancer, fifteen-year-old Destiny Moore moves from Chicago to Avalon Cove, a mysterious island in South Carolina. There, she starts a new life working part-time as a magician’s assistant and living with her eccentric uncle Fred and his hottie husband, Clark. Destiny is soon befriended by two outcasts, Tasha Gordon and Topher McGentry. She accepts their invitation to accompany them to a place called Wonderland, a former boarding house owned by the enigmatic Adrianna Marveaux. It’s there that Destiny meets and falls in love with Dominic, Tasha becomes enamored with Juliet, and Topher gives his heart to Pablo. When Destiny uncovers the reason she and her friends have really been brought to Wonderland, she’s faced with the most crucial choice of her life.

I have been waiting for this book since the author announced it would be coming out. I was intrigued by the concept and it did not disappoint. There are moments when there are Alice in Wonderland elements, however, it is not that at all. There is more romance and magic involved. Quite a few twists and turns as well.

The character I enjoyed the most was Topher. Not only is his name interesting, but I liked his character and how he begins to stand up for himself in the face of his bullies. I would have liked to have seen more of the story but from his point of view.

The only issue I had with the book was towards the end. I felt that it wrapped up so quickly! I wanted more! Adrianna tells Topher and Tasha what to expect, but I didn’t want that at all. I wanted to see, from their perspectives, what happens in order for them to save their soul mates. I wish it had been more difficult for Destiny, too. I felt that it was almost too easy for her at the end.

Aside from this, I did enjoy the novel. Perhaps a sequel with Topher in the lead roll?

This book will be release in February from Bold Strokes Books. You can purchase the book at Amazon or Bold Strokes Books.

Book Review: Timothy by Greg Herren

Blurb from Bold Strokes Books website: ‚ÄúI shall always be in his shadow, unable to live up to the standard he set at Spindrift, hoping that someday Carlo might love me the way he loved his lost Timothy‚Ķ”

The memory of Timothy haunts every corner of Spindrift, the beautiful mansion on the Atlantic shore. His face was flawless, his body breathtaking perfection. Everyone who saw him loved him, desired him, wanted him‚ÄĒwhether they first laid eyes on him in a magazine ad, on a billboard, or on a box of underwear. No one ever forgot him, once they had passed through his orbit. They remember his wit, intelligence, and sense of style. He was the perfect match for wealthy Carlo Romaniello. Spindrift was the perfect backdrop for the glamorous couple, and the unforgettable, fabulous parties they hosted there. But then tragedy took Timothy, and darkness descended on the beautiful house on the beach. Carlo closed the house, and its secrets remained hidden within.

When Carlo reopens the house as a home for himself and his new young husband, those old secrets begin to creep out into the light. And those secrets might just prove deadly for his new spouse, a young man who has to compete with the memory of the unforgettable Timothy…

Okay, give me a moment to recover before attempting to write this review…………….

Greg Herren has pulled off a wonderful young adult gothic romance in his new novel, Timothy. Fans of the genre will surely love this one, as it takes you to a world of the elite through the eyes of the young main character whose name is never revealed.

Told through his point of view, the narrator, called “Mouse” by his husband, is swept away from his life of work and loneliness into society as we know it today. As readers get to know his new world along with him, their hearts will break as he comes to believe his husband, Carlo, is still in love with his deceased husband, Timothy, who was perfection to all¬†who knew him.

But there is a mystery here, and readers are pulled into it as the narrator’s world starts to unravel. I truly felt for him and at one point had to stop reading because I felt his despair so strongly.

I found it interesting that the narrator is never given his own name. He is so overshadowed throughout a majority of the novel by the dead Timothy that it is like his existence isn’t as important. Clearly it is as he is the narrator, but others are so enamored by the memory that they can’t even speak to him by his given name. And not even he uses his name.¬†This technique¬†reminded me of Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison, which was another novel I loved, but¬†for very different reasons. I was also reminded of Sarah Water’s The Little Stranger because of the presence of the house, Spindrift. It is¬†one of the driving elements of the novel, just as Hundreds Hall is in Water’s novel.

In short, I loved this novel. I could write a paper on it, discussing the wonderful qualities it has, comparing it to wonderful works of classic and contemporary literature. I can only hope that Greg Herren writes more novels like this.

Timothy can be purchased from Bold Strokes Books and Amazon.

Book Review: In Stone: A Grotesque Faerie Tale by Jeremy Jordan King

I’ve always loved Faerie Tales (Fairy Tales, however you want to spell it) whether they were the original Grimm stories are watered down Disney versions. I’ve also been on a kick recently with buying retellings of fairy tales for my classroom, as there seems to be a surgence in popularity with them. There is one particular series of books that features amazing stories that takes tales like Sleeping Beauty or The Frog Prince and twists them into other stories.

In Stone: A Grotesque Faerie Tale is not a retelling. It is the authors own story, and he has done a marvelous job. Throughout the novel, readers are given two stories – that of Jeremy, the narrator, from his perspective, and that of Garth from the beginning of his existence, told as if he is telling it to Jeremy.

I will admit, the first time I read the synopsis I was intrigued but upset at the same time. My reason? The narrator’s name is the same as the author’s name. To me it spoke of self-insertion and reminded me of my fanfic days and reading Mary Sue and Gary Stu stories. However, before everyone bristles, let me tell you this: it WORKS. Especially when you read to the end. Like me, you may end up wanting to harass the author to find out if this is true, and he has really experienced all of these things because… well it’s that well written.

From the Bold Strokes Books website:

Jeremy is stuck, like most young New Yorkers, in a world between adolescence and adulthood. Just when he thought that he was an average, blend-in-with-the-crowd gay kid, he becomes the victim of a terrible act of homophobia. Thankfully, a mysterious something comes to his aid. Garth is a gargoyle, trapped in stone and cursed to live an immortal life. Human and monster must become friends and confront the mysterious and magical events of the past that have brought them together.

I loved the story. Jeremy’s tale is a unique one that blends the modern world with that of faerie tales and makes them feel real, as if they are happening around us. It also speaks of a love that traverses time and multiple forms of existence. Each character brings something fantastic to the story. Jeremy is very much your modern young adult living in New York with the same fears about job security as the rest of us. Then you have Garth, who takes his job very seriously and is willing to sacrifice it all for those he cares the most about. And Bryant. I want more of him. I was torn throughout the story between wanting Jeremy to end up with Garth or Bryant, and then when Robbie mentions loving multiple people, I was like yes! That! Awesome!

I really hope that this is not the last story by author Jeremy Jordan King set in this world of his. I want to know more. What happens to Garth, Jeremy and Bryant? What other Immortals are around, and what are their stories? Is the evil cousin truly gone?

This book can be purchased from Bold Strokes Books in their Soliloquy line, or ordered from Amazon.

 

Book Review: The Culling by Steven dos Santos

I love a lot of books, so when people ask me what my favorite is, it is incredibly difficult for me to come up with a title. However, I think now I might finally be able to come up with an easy answer.

In The Culling by Steven dos Santos:

Lucian ‚ÄúLucky‚ÄĚ Spark has been recruited for training by the totalitarian government known as The Establishment. According to Establishment rules, if a recruit fails any level of the violent training competitions, a family member is brutally killed . . . and the recruit has to choose which one.

 

As the five recruits form uneasy alliances in the hellish wasteland that is the training ground, an undeniable attraction develops between Lucky and the rebellious Digory Tycho. But the rules of the training ensure that only one will survive‚ÄĒthe strongest recruits receive accolades, wealth, and power while the weakest receive death.

 

With Cole‚ÄĒLucky‚Äôs four-year-old brother‚ÄĒbeing held as ‚Äúincentive,‚ÄĚ Lucky must marshal all his skills and use his wits to keep himself alive, no matter what the cost.

The Culling portrays a bleak future after an apocalypse that has covered what seems to remain of the world in an Ash that causes many to die at an early age from a terrible coughing disease.

It is clear that Lucian cares very deeply for his little brother, Cole. After losing both parents, Cole is all he has left. When Cassius returns from his training, Lucian is eager to reconnect with his old friend in the hopes the he will help them.

Digory and Lucian are amazing characters who are strongly motivated for their own reasons. Their connection was deep and nearly instant, though it might not be clear to all readers what the connection might be until much later.

Though it is never stated implicitly, Lucian is indeed gay and has feelings for Digory. Their attraction towards each other grows throughout the novel, and despite the horror around them and the bleak outlook for their lives, there are moments¬†of such heart breaking tenderness that I stopped and reread the scenes over to myself many times before moving on.¬†Their shared moment under the stars,¬†the dancing before their¬†graduation ceremony… my heart still aches at the beautiful way the author portrayed these scenes.

I am glad this is the first book in a series, because I am in love. I want more from this author, and my only regret is that I can’t have more right now.

The Culling will be available for purchase on March 8, 2013, but it can be preordered now from Amazon.