Monday, February 29, 2016

Blog Tour + Giveaway: In Real Life by Jessica Love

In Real Life
by Jessica Love
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Release Date: March 1st 2016
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Hannah Cho and Nick Cooper have been best friends since 8th grade. They talk for hours on the phone, regularly shower each other with presents, and know everything there is to know about one another. 

There's just one problem: Hannah and Nick have never actually met.

Hannah has spent her entire life doing what she's supposed to, but when her senior year spring break plans get ruined by a rule-breaker, she decides to break a rule or two herself. She impulsively decides to road trip to Las Vegas, her older sister and BFF in tow, to surprise Nick and finally declare her more-than-friend feelings for him.

Hannah's surprise romantic gesture backfires when she gets to Vegas and finds out that Nick has been keeping some major secrets. Hannah knows the real Nick can't be that different from the online Nick she knows and loves, but now she only has night in Sin City to figure out what her feelings for Nick really are, all while discovering how life can change when you break the rules every now and then.

by Jessica Love

The drive from Orange County, CA to Las Vegas, NV is one that I have done more times than I can count. It’s about a 4 hour drive and it’s a straight shot - just one freeway the entire way. I’m now at the point where I can afford to fly to Vegas when I want to go, but even though I don’t make that drive anymore, I still have some fond memories of cruising through the desert on the 15 freeway.

The drive there is never that bad. You’re excited for your trip. You’re pumped up. You made a new playlist full of party songs, and you and your friends talk excitedly the entire time about all the fun plans you have for when you arrive. It doesn’t matter that the drive is dusty and boring, you focus on the landmarks that let you know you’re getting closer to your destination. Barstow, CA, home of the McDonald’s on an old train car. Baker, CA home of the World’s Tallest Thermometer and Alien Jerky, whatever that is. The Zzyzx Rd. exit. Then you cross the state line into Nevada, passing the huge roller coaster at Buffalo Bill’s in Primm, NV and you know Vegas is close. The 4 hour drive went by so quickly, you hardly even noticed.

Driving back to Orange County from Las Vegas is another story entirely. Number one, you’re always tired. You had too much fun and partied too hard, so there is none of the exuberance and excitement that you had on the way there. Number two, people come in to Vegas at all different times, but everyone leaves on Sunday morning, so the traffic is a mess. That two lane freeway that you sped in on? Now it’s at a dead stop. If there’s an accident, it’s even worse. That 4 hour drive? It now takes 6 or sometimes even 8 hours. Now, the landmarks don’t matter. It’s just you and the car and the desert, and, trust me, you all become best friends.

The worst drive I had home from Las Vegas involved both number one and number two above. And it also involved me, my future husband, and his three friends (so five of us total, four large men and me...I’m 6 feet tall) all smooshed into a tiny Toyota Tercel. Seriously, the smallest person in the car was 5’10”. All of us had our knees up in our chins. And there was traffic. And and accident. By the time we got home, 7 hours after we left, I pretty much never wanted to speak to any of them again, my future husband included.

Oh, and someone also threw up on the World’s Tallest Thermometer. But I’m not naming names.

This is why I always fly to Vegas now. The drive there is no problem, but the drive home? I’ll pass.

Jessica Love is a high school English teacher in Los Angeles, California, where she met her husband and her two tiny dogs online. She is the co-writer of Push Girl with Chelsie Hill.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

FFBC: Welcome to the club, Bluescreen (Mirador #1) by Dan Wells

Bluescreen (Mirador #1)
by Dan Wells
Publisher: Balzer & Bray
Release Date: February 16th 2016
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Dystopia, Fantasy, Action, Teen
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Los Angeles in 2050 is a city of open doors, as long as you have the right connections. That connection is a djinni—a smart device implanted right in a person’s head. In a world where virtually everyone is online twenty-four hours a day, this connection is like oxygen—and a world like that presents plenty of opportunities for someone who knows how to manipulate it.

Marisa Carneseca is one of those people. She might spend her days in Mirador, the small, vibrant LA neighborhood where her family owns a restaurant, but she lives on the net—going to school, playing games, hanging out, or doing things of more questionable legality with her friends Sahara and Anja. And it’s Anja who first gets her hands on Bluescreen—a virtual drug that plugs right into a person’s djinni and delivers a massive, non-chemical, completely safe high. But in this city, when something sounds too good to be true, it usually is, and Mari and her friends soon find themselves in the middle of a conspiracy that is much bigger than they ever suspected.

Dan Wells, author of the New York Times bestselling Partials Sequence, returns with a stunning new vision of the near future—a breathless cyber-thriller where privacy is the world’s most rare resource and nothing, not even the thoughts in our heads, is safe.

Hello Dan! We are super excited to have you in our FFBC tours.

Thank you! I'm super excited to be here.

Favorite Book?

Favorite TV show?

Current: Person of Interest

All-time: Breaking Bad

Favorite movie?


Your Favorite Song?

Ever long, by the Foo Fighters

Favorite Food?

Chiles Rellenos

Name 3 fictional places you would move to in a heartbeat.

Rohan, The USS Enterprise, Omelas

Favorite Quote? 

"All of humanity's problems stem from man inability to sit quietly in a room alone." --Blaise Pascal

If you could meet one author, dead or alive, who would it be?

Victor Hugo

Could you tell our Book Addicts a little bit about Bluescreen?

BLUESCREEN is the first book in an awesome new SF series about gamers, hackers, and all the problems that technology can solve and cause, all at the same time. In the first book they find a digital drug--just plug it into your head, get a rush, and crash with no side effects--that turns out to have more secrets than they're ready for.

Can you describe Marisa? Which are her best qualities?

Marisa is one of my favorite characters, because she has so many layers and sides to her personality. She's a good person--she always wants to help people, especially her family--but her ideas about "good and evil" are not necessarily connected to "legal and illegal," so she's totally willing to break the law now and then when the situation calls for it. As long as she's not hurting anybody, where's the harm? Often, she knows, hacking into a computer system here and there might actually help her to do more good for the world, especially if she can stick it to some pompous, heartless megacorp in the process.

How did you come up with the story? Did you find inspiration in any other story/movie/show and how has this affected your writing?

A few years ago I was living in Germany, and while I was looking up something about travel visas I ran across an announcement that video game players were now officially eligible for athletic visas, just like swimmers and basketball players and any other athlete. The real world and the digital world have been blending more and more for years now, but for some reason this thing about eSports visas struck a chord with me, and I started researching eSports and professional gamers and everything else I could find on the topic. I started connecting it to ideas about virtual reality and cyberpunk--an awesome branch of science fiction I've always been a fan of, and before I knew it I had a whole world worked out in my head, and a team of near-future teen girl gamers just begging me to write some stories about them. I've always wanted to write cyberpunk--check out Snow Crash or Count Zero for some awesome examples of the genre--so I dug through my trusty Idea Notebook and found a little scrawled line about digital drugs, and BLUESCREEN was born.

Tell us your favorite quote from Bluescreen.

There's a conversation in the book, between Marisa and her brother Sandro, where she's looking at another mess she's gotten herself into and thinking out loud about the direction of her life. He asks why she doesn't just toe the line and do what she's told and get a real job and be a normal person, and she says something that comes straight from the roots of my own soul: "I don’t think I could ever be happy dedicating my life to someone else’s ideas—to making somebody else’s product, or telling someone else’s story." I love creating things, but I was never happy doing it for some big company; if I'm going to tell a story, I want it to be mine. I want to add something new to the world, and I want to know that I'm the only one who could possibly have done it. Marisa shares that with me--she's a maker. A creator. And we're both just idealistic enough about it to cause all kinds of problems :)

Is there a specific scene that you had the most fun to write?

There's a scene in the middle where Marisa gets caught in a turf war between two rival gangs. She tries to just hunker down and hope it passes by, but then realizes her sisters are caught outside in it--and nobody messes with Marisa's sisters. This was a blast for me to write because I got her into this mess with literally no idea how I was going to get her out again. I usually outline my books pretty extensively, but this was a problem with no solution. I had to think on the fly, and come up with something that was awesome and heroic but still true to Marisa's character: she's not a fighter, and she's not an action hero, she's a thinker. How could she think herself out of this mess? It was exhilarating, and I'm very pleased with the solution that Marisa (and I!) came up with.

If you had to pick one song to be the Theme Song for Bluescreen – Which one would you pick? 

Nu-ABO, by the Korean group f(x). It's kind of a power anthem for a group of young girls, which is a perfect fit for Marisa and her friends, and I listened to it all the time while writing the book.

Imagine that we get to see your book on the big screen (how awesome would that be?). Who would you pick to play your characters?

I want a BLUESCREEN TV series more than almost anything in the world, but I have no idea how to cast it. I'll give you a million stories to tell about the characters, and let the readers give suggestions on who should play them :) 

Is there any recommendations you could give your readers to be in the “perfect mood” to read Bluescreen (specific music, snacks…)? 

I listened to a steady diet of Korean pop and Mexican rock music while I wrote this, with a fair amount of Cuban and reggaeton thrown in for good measure. Turn down the lights, crank up something you can't understand the words to, and let 'er rip.

What’s next for you? 

In addition to SF I also write horror, and one of my books (called I AM NOT A SERIAL KILLER) has just been made into a movie! It debuts in March at the SXSW film festival, so I'm gearing up for that, getting ready to show it to everyone and see what we can do to get the movie into theaters. And if some big producer wants to talk about BLUESCREEN or the PARTIALS series while I'm there, all the better!

Something to say to our Book Addicts?

I love you! Book addicts are the best addicts :)

Thank you so much for everything, Dan!

Thank you!

Follow the Bluescreen by Dan Wells Blog Tour and don't miss anything! Click on the banner to see the tour schedule.

Dan Wells is a thriller and science fiction writer. Born in Utah, he spent his early years reading and writing. He is he author of the Partials series (Partials, Isolation, Fragments, and Ruins), the John Cleaver series (I Am Not a Serial Killer, Mr. Monster, and I Don't Want To Kill You), and a few others (The Hollow City, A Night of Blacker Darkness, etc). He was a Campbell nomine for best new writer, and has won a Hugo award for his work on the podcast Writing Excuses; the podcast is also a multiple winner of the Parsec Award.

Monday, February 22, 2016

FFBC: Welcome to the club, Rise of the Wolf (Mark of the Thief #2) by Jennifer A. Nielsen

Rise of the Wolf (Mark of the Thief #2)
by Jennifer A. Nielsen
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Release Date: January 26th 2016
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Historical, Fiction, Mythology, Magic, Adventure, Action, Juvenile
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Nic may have escaped enslavement in the mines outside of Rome, but his troubles are far from over. The Praetor War--the battle to destroy Rome from within--is in full force, and Nic is caught in the crossfire. The secretive Praetors are determined to unlock a powerful amulet--one sure to bring the empire to its knees. Worse, the Praetors believe Nic holds the key to finding this amulet, and they will stop at nothing to steal it, even if that means harming the people Nic holds most dear.

When the Praetors capture Nic's mother, Nic knows he must do anything to save her. He challenges the Praetors to a chariot race. If he wins, they will release his mother. But if he loses, he must hand over a magic that will certainly destroy Rome and end his own life. Can Nic once again harness his magic and gather the strength to defeat his enemies? Or will he lose his mother and bear witness to Rome's destruction?

Follow the Rise of the Wolf by Jennifer Nielsen Blog Tour and don't miss anything! Click on the banner to see the tour schedule.

Jennifer lives at the base of a very tall mountain in Northern Utah with her husband, three children, and a naughty puppy. She loves the smell of rainy days, hot chocolate, and old books, preferably all at once. She is a former speech teacher, theater director, and enjoyed a brief but disastrous career as a door-to-door pollster. In her spare time, Jennifer tends to panic, wondering what she has forgotten to do that has allowed her any spare time.