Friday, October 24, 2014

{Interview + Event Giveaway} Emery Lord, Author of OPEN ROAD SUMMER

Return to the Schedule of Events!
Don't miss a second of all the great stuff in store for you!
Grab a promotional banner for your blog
and stop back for exciting author visits, fantastic giveaways, 
fun reviews, and more!
Twitter | Tumblr | Pinterest

Check out my review of 
OPEN ROAD SUMMER!

OPEN ROAD SUMMER is the first book I read in the genre being featured during A Week of Shooting Stars. I absolutely adored it, and have been chasing after books I can love as much ever since, starting the summer-reading binge that created this event concept! So thank you, Emery Lord!

An interview with
Emery Lord

Emery Lord is a 20-something Midwestern girl who writes stories about high school and best friends and weird families and the crushes that make you feel combustibly alive and also more awkward than you thought was possible. If you're not sure how to pronounce Emery, try slurring the name "Emily," and that will get you really close.     

She lives in Cincinnati in a 100 year-old pink row house with her BFF/husband, a closet full of dresses, and lots of books. If karaoke-ing in grocery store aisles or guzzling coffee while impulse shopping were illegal, Emery would be writing her overemotional YA books from jail. Also, she makes up words sometimes. Like combustibly.
Follow Emery on her website, Twitter,  
Pinterest, and Tumblr!



What inspired you to write OPEN ROAD SUMMER?


On three different occasions, I passed country music summer tours on the stretch of highway between Columbus and Cincinnati, Ohio. The last time, it was while listening to the Mike Posner song Cooler Than Me. I never would have guessed I'd write something relating to country music because...I've actually never even been to a country concert. But I wanted to write about Middle America, so it was a natural fit. Other inspirations were my own lifelong best friendship, grief, and wanting to see a female narrator who pushes back at the reader a little. 

In your head, what singers come closest to bringing the sound of singers Dee and Matt into reality?

I know a lot of readers reference Taylor Swift, which I totally see- she's a 17 year-old country singer. But the singer/songerwriter I listened to most by FAR while writing Dee was Nicolle Galyon. Her music has this folk and country blend, both earnest and articulate. In the years since I wrote ORS, she's had big hits with "Automatic" and "When We Were Us," plus a bunch of tracks on Miranda Lambert's new record. I root for her so much...her music was such a personal part of my writing experience and how I see Dee as a character. 

Matt's voice sounds, in my head, most like Ben Rector, who's also a Nashville artist but not a country singer. His song "When a Heart Breaks" has the tone I'd imagine "Human" would have ^_^ But the rest of his kind of musical vibe is Mat Kearney, with some Matt Wertz and Matt Nathanson thrown in. Can you guess why he's Matt Finch? ^.~ (Also because of Matt Lauria.)

Did you ever want to be a “star” growing up? What was your dream?

Definitely not a star, no. I play the piano and the saxophone, and I sang in choir, and did theater too. But the weird thing is: I love musical, creative pursuits, but I don't like performing. I love playing the piano, but I only do it when no one else is home. I love singing, hated solos. I loved acting; preferred dress rehearsals to actual performances. This is why writing suits me. That was my dream. I get to hone my craft in private, and I don't have to perform! ^.^ 

Who is your celebrity crush?
Celebrity crushes come and go. Book boyfriends (PRINCE CHAR) are forever.

Do you have a favorite movie or book about a star encounter?
I'm such a sucker for Notting Hill. In hindsight, I think it was probably a subconscious inspiration for ORS...friendship, a hesitant love story, and a narrative that is intentionally showing a celebrity as a human being violated by the media.

If there was a soundtrack to your life, what would be on the playlist?

Oh gosh, I could NEVER narrow that down. It would be hundreds-long- songs tied to specific time periods, specific people.

Do you have a personal theme song?

I have lots! Some are permanent and always a few current. Permanent: "American Girl" by Tom Petty,  "Modern Love" by David Bowie, I could go on and on...^.~

Did you listen to anything in particular while writing OPEN ROAD SUMMER?

I have playlists for everything I write, organized by scene or chapter or, sometimes, by character. They're my reference point for the tone of what I'm writing and where my characters are, mentally. For ORS, you can find all the characters' playlists (in chronological order of each of their emotional arcs because I am an insane person) here!

  ~*~
O F F I C I A   I N F O:

Title: OPEN ROAD SUMMER
Author: Emery Lord
Release Date: April 15, 2014
Publisher: Walker / Bloomsbury
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18042393-wish-you-were-italian
SUMMARY:

After breaking up with her bad-news boyfriend, Reagan O’Neill is ready to leave her rebellious ways behind. . . and her best friend, country superstar Lilah Montgomery, is nursing a broken heart of her own. Fortunately, Lilah’s 24-city tour is about to kick off, offering a perfect opportunity for a girls-only summer of break-up ballads and healing hearts. 

But when Matt Finch joins the tour as its opening act, his boy-next-door charm proves difficult for Reagan to resist, despite her vow to live a drama-free existence. This summer, Reagan and Lilah will navigate the ups and downs of fame and friendship as they come to see that giving your heart to the right person is always a risk worth taking. 

A fresh new voice in contemporary romance, Emery Lord’s gorgeous writing hits all the right notes.

****Giveaway*****

During A Week of Shooting Stars,
I'm giving away a book of YOUR CHOICE
from the event!

It could be OPEN ROAD SUMMER!

Enter now!


This giveaway is INTERNATIONAL to any country that Book Depository ships to.  You can also claim an e-book as a prize; it doesn't have to be a physical copy!

You must be at least 13 years old to enter or have a parent's permission!

Enter now!

{Review + Event Giveaway} OPEN ROAD SUMMER by Emery Lord

Return to the Schedule of Events!
Don't miss a second of all the great stuff in store for you!
Grab a promotional banner for your blog
and stop back for exciting author visits, fantastic giveaways, 
fun reviews, and more!
Twitter | Tumblr | Pinterest



I previously did a mini-interview with Emery Lord and four other Bloomsbury First Loves Authors on their Best First Date Ever.
Check it out!!!
OPEN ROAD SUMMER is the first book I read in the genre being featured during A Week of Shooting Stars. I absolutely adored it, and have been chasing after books I can love as much ever since, starting the summer-reading binge that created this event concept! So thank you, Emery Lord!
O P E N I N G   H O O K:

    THE FANS SCREAM FOR HER, but they don't really know the girl on the magazine covers--the girl with the guitar and the easy smile. Her given name is Delilah, and they think she goes by Lilah. But anyone who really knows my best friend calls her Dee. They think she's seventeen, and she is. But she never acts seventeen. She acts either thirty years old, like a composed professional, in record-label meetings and interviews, or twelve years old, with me--giggling like we did back when she still had braces, back when our summer plans were nothing more than sleepovers and swimming at the pool. They think she wrote the songs on this album while getting over a breakup. But they're wrong. She's not over it. Not even close.
(Page 1,  US ARC Edition)
This review first posted at A Backwards Story on May 21, 2014,
though one paragraph is new to the review, and some things have been modified for tense..


You might want to grab a poncho, bookworms. I'm about to drool all over you today. I loved OPEN ROAD SUMMER by Emery Lord. Loved, loved, loved. And you know I don't say that lightly! Contemporary novels--and especially contemporary YA--are not my favorite thing to read. I can't tell you what it was about OPEN ROAD SUMMER, but I absolutely adored it. In March, I was going through a really bad reading slump, and this book plus Kasie West's THE DISTANCE BETWEEN US pulled me out of the slump (When no fantasy could!). If you haven't read it, you should. No, really, I don't care what genre you read. You should! This reminds me of ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS by Stephanie Perkins, a book I never thought I'd love, but I'm constantly re-reading various parts and I just love it and the characters so much. OPEN ROAD SUMMER has that same emotion for me, albeit in very different ways.

Reagan and her best friend Dee are both nursing broken hearts. Reagan broke up with her boyfriend after he cheated on her and contributed to the fact that her arm is now in a sling. Dee is a singing superstar, and had to break up with her true love due to the ugly side of fame. Dee is on tour this summer, and brings her bestie along for the ride. After a made-up scandal hits the tabloids, Dee's label adds former child sensation Matt Finch to the tour as an opening act. Dee and Matt are supposed to pretend they're in a relationship, but Reagan is falling for him for real. And that's a problem. Reagan isn't willing to destroy her friendship with Dee over a boy, especially now that she's turned over a new leaf. This summer will change Reagan and Dee in so many ways, bringing them closer together even as it tears them further apart.

This book. This book! I can't even explain what made it leave an imprint on my heart. It just made me happy. I hated putting it down, and just wanted to keep coming back and reading more. I loved Emery Lord's character development, and was sad there weren't more books by her to read right away. (Is it Spring 2015 yet??) I would love to see this picked up as a movie because I want to hear some of the songs from the book for real, especially the ones from Matt. They're just the sort of thing I'd have on my iPod (Some creative person needs to record "Human" on YouTube and share it as a fan project!). I really, really wish he was real! Dee reminds me of a cross between Taylor Swift and Jennifer Lawrence. Her story resembles Swift's, and her personality (and the way she brings her besties to the best places!) remind me strongly of Lawrence. I sort of would love to see another book in this world just to see what happens to Dee, though I also don't think such a book is necessary. Reagan isn't just a tag-along, either. She has her photography, and a summer away from home is exactly what she needs to clean up the mess her life has become. At times, she can be unlikable, but she's also so easy to root for and care about. I just wanted her to be happy, to heal and move on. The friendship between Reagan and Dee was strong, too. I want more YA novels that have a good, solid friendship. Sure, there are bad situations that can tear friends apart, but if your friendship is strong enough, it can overcome anything. To me, the heart of this novel is the way these two girls support one another and grow together, even as life is moving them in different directions.

After re-reading the novel, I love it even more this time around. That's saying a lot. I loved many of the same moments that I did the first time around and had many of the same thoughts. But this time, I think I understood more of this book's heart. Yes, Reagan can be unlikeable and prickly. I get why some people have said that since the book came out and more people have read it. But she's REAL. In some ways, she's also a lot like me. She's as stubborn and bullish as I can be when I really stick to my guns, right or wrong. At times, I dig my heels in, too. There's a scene with Matt toward the end, when he's being cute and endearing and obnoxious and self-righteous all at once, and completely pissing Reagan off. I completely understood her crazy reaction, because that would so be  me. As different as we are from one another, I completely "get" some of Reagan's jagged corners and embrace her, flaws and all. Honestly, it's more that she's a very private person at her core. She doesn't reveal her dysfunctional interior. She doesn't even like letting in the people around her, lest they can hurt her with that "knowledge" later. If you take the time to understand where Reagan's coming from, it's so much easier to completely love her.

If you're looking for a book that captures summer to read outside on a warm, sunny day, let it be OPEN ROAD SUMMER. It has that sense of "Wish Fulfillment," because who hasn't dreamed of being a famous actor or singer and going around being a superstar...or being the best friend of one and going along for the ride? It has a summer romance where the characters have to work for it rather than experiencing a rash case of insta-love. It has a beautiful friendship at its core. It has so much to offer, and it's just what the doctor ordered for you while you're on summer vacation!

C O N T E N T R A T I N G S

Content Ratings: highlight between ( ) for details

Romance: PG15 ( kissing; sexual references but nothing explicit; Reagan isn't a virgin, but there isn't sex in this book )
Language: PG13 ( mild language, sexual references.  )
Violence: none
Other: PG13 ( underage drinking and smoking )

***
This is a new system I'm trying out, since I never know how to bring up the fact that younger readers may not be ready for a book without talking about the reasons WHY. This makes it harder to accidentally stumble on that information.

What are your thoughts? Keep it/Alter it/Get rid of it? 
~*~
C O V E R   D E S I G N:

It's a pretty standard contemporary cover imo, but again...I'm not a contemporary girl. It takes more than a kissing couple for me to take a second glance. While it doesn't capture the magic of being on the road and touring, it does capture a scene from the book. That gets extra points from me, because I hate when covers feature scenes that are meaningless!
~*~
O F F I C I A   I N F O:

Title: OPEN ROAD SUMMER
Author: Emery Lord
Release Date: April 15, 2014
Publisher: Walker / Bloomsbury
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18042393-wish-you-were-italian
SUMMARY:

After breaking up with her bad-news boyfriend, Reagan O’Neill is ready to leave her rebellious ways behind. . . and her best friend, country superstar Lilah Montgomery, is nursing a broken heart of her own. Fortunately, Lilah’s 24-city tour is about to kick off, offering a perfect opportunity for a girls-only summer of break-up ballads and healing hearts. 

But when Matt Finch joins the tour as its opening act, his boy-next-door charm proves difficult for Reagan to resist, despite her vow to live a drama-free existence. This summer, Reagan and Lilah will navigate the ups and downs of fame and friendship as they come to see that giving your heart to the right person is always a risk worth taking. 

A fresh new voice in contemporary romance, Emery Lord’s gorgeous writing hits all the right notes.
****Giveaway*****

During A Week of Shooting Stars,
I'm giving away a book of YOUR CHOICE
from the event!

It could be OPEN ROAD SUMMER!

Enter now!


This giveaway is INTERNATIONAL to any country that Book Depository ships to.  You can also claim an e-book as a prize; it doesn't have to be a physical copy!

You must be at least 13 years old to enter or have a parent's permission!

Enter now!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, October 23, 2014

{Interview + Event Giveaway} Kenley Conrad, Author of HOLLY HEARTS HOLLYWOOD

Return to the Schedule of Events!
Don't miss a second of all the great stuff in store for you!
Grab a promotional banner for your blog
and stop back for exciting author visits, fantastic giveaways, 
fun reviews, and more!
Twitter | Tumblr | Pinterest


An interview with
Kenley Conrad

I'm the author of the upcoming YA series Holly Hearts Hollywood, coming September 2014 by Swoon Romance. I'm a twenty-something cat lady who lives in Phoenix, Arizona. When I'm not working my office day job or writing books, you can find me either singing and dancing or binge-watching TV shows on Netflix.
Follow Kenley on her website, Twitter, and Facebook!


What inspired you to write HOLLY HEARTS HOLLYWOOD?


At the time, I was all about modern day fairy tale stories. I was trying to think of the most underused fairy tale and The Little Mermaid is what came to mind. I couldn't figure out how to translate the concept of The Little Mermaid into a modern tale, and then suddenly, the idea of a girl who sells her voice to a record studio popped into my head and the rest was history.

HOLLY HEARTS HOLLYWOOD is the first in series. How many books are you anticipating? What's in store for Holly in future titles?

I'm anticipating at least three. I say "at least" because I believe that there are many possibilities in the Holly Hart universe, including prequels and spin-off series.

In your head, what actors come closest to bringing the sound of singers Holly Hart and Grayson Frost into reality? What stars would bring Serena Salazar and Lacey Bennett to life?

When I first saw Megan Trainor's music video "All About that Bass" I nearly cried because she embodied my image of an older, more grown up Holly. 

Grayson is definitely Hunter Hayes. 

Lacey is easy: Taylor Swift. A much meaner Taylor, that is. 

Serena is kind of a special girl, and it is harder for me to think of musical inspiration for her. She does what she wants and she isn't like anyone else.

Did you ever want to be a “star” growing up? What was your dream?

 I flip flopped between wanting to be a teacher and a writer when I was growing up. I'm seriously obsessed with Broadway musicals and I participate in local theatre in my community, so there was totally a point when I was younger where I dreamed about living in New York and performing. But I knew that my talents didn't lie there, so now I dream about telling stories to lots of people and hopefully inspiring others.

Who is your celebrity crush?

I can only have one? Um, I'll give a short list. Ryan Gosling (who's a dad now and is totally off the market), Dane DeHaan (he looks like a young, fashion photoshoot version of Leo DiCaprio), and Michael Fassbender, who is just an all-around flawless human being.

Do you have a favorite movie or book about a star encounter?
Meg Cabot's book TEEN IDOL about a teenage heartthrob going to a local high school undercover for research is an old favorite. Meg Cabot anything is an old favorite of mine.

If there was a soundtrack to your life, what would be on the playlist?

It is hilarious to me that I wrote a book about music when I'm so terrible about music. Literally, I'm the worst ever. Never ask me for recommendations because I pretty much listen to only Broadway showtunes. I'll listen to the original cast recording of Ragtime and cry my eyes out in traffic over certain songs. I'm a total dork. But the good thing about showtunes is that there's a song for every occasion. So I wouldn't say there's a playlist, but you can just turn my showtunes albums on shuffle and we'll be good.

Do you have a personal theme song?

When I'm not listening to showtunes, I'm listening to country music. There's this new song called "Girl in a Country Song" by Maddie and Tae and it gives me life. You should go listen to it or watch the music video right now because those girls are awesome.

Did you listen to anything in particular while writing HOLLY HEARTS HOLLYWOOD?

I'm probably the only author I know who not only doesn't listen to music while writing but literally can't listen to music while writing. It distracts me. I can have the TV on or have a hundred people over for a barbeque and write just fine. But I can't and don't write with music on. I told you, I'm awful when it comes to music. That's the definition of irony, I guess.

  ~*~
O F F I C I A   I N F O:

Title: HOLLY HEARTS HOLLYWOOD
Author: Kenley Conrad
Release Date: Sept. 23, 2014
Publisher: Swoon Romance / Macmillan


SUMMARY:

Seventeen-year-old Holly Hart wants to be a star. She moves to Los Angeles from the small town of Cedar Junction, only to hear she’s too fat and ugly to be a famous singer.

But when Shell Shocked Records looks past Holly’s plus-size and less-than-graceful-personality to offer her a recording contract, Holly cannot believe her good fortune. On closer inspection, however, the record execs want Holly to do all the singing, and a thinner and more beautiful girl, Lacey, would lip-sync and get all the credit. Holly goes for it because after all, she wanted to sing.

Contractually bound to secrecy, Holly is more than happy to sit backstage while Lacey shimmies in the limelight and basks in the fame. Before she knows it, Holly is friends with Serena, the pop-star daughter of a music-mogul, flirting with an intern, and developing a strange half-friendship with Lacey.

When Grayson Frost, the biggest country star in America, and coincidentally, a former school bully begins dating Lacey, Holly hopes that he won’t recognize or torment her.

Through a series of embarrassing and weird events, Holly gets to know Grayson and learns that he is much nicer and more mature than he was four years ago. Holly is horrified when she starts falling for him. When Grayson admits he fell for Lacey's voice, what is a girl to do when she can’t legally tell the truth at the moment when the truth matters the most?

****Giveaway*****

During A Week of Shooting Stars,
I'm giving away a book of YOUR CHOICE
from the event!

It could be HOLLY HEARTS HOLLYWOOD!

Enter now!


This giveaway is INTERNATIONAL to any country that Book Depository ships to.  You can also claim an e-book as a prize; it doesn't have to be a physical copy!

You must be at least 13 years old to enter or have a parent's permission!

Enter now!

{Spotlight + Event Giveaway} TEEN IDOL by Meg Cabot

Return to the Schedule of Events!
Don't miss a second of all the great stuff in store for you!
Grab a promotional banner for your blog
and stop back for exciting author visits, fantastic giveaways, 
fun reviews, and more!
Twitter | Tumblr | Pinterest



I've always enjoyed reading books by Meg Cabot. When I started putting together a list of titles I wanted to feature during A Week of Shooting Stars, I remembered a book I once read by her about an actor who goes undercover at a high school in order to research a role and get into character. I did a little digging around to rediscover the book's title, TEEN IDOL.

TEEN IDOL works in the opposite direction from most of the books being featured this week. They're all either from the celebrity's POV or the view of the "ordinary" person falling for the celebrity. In TEEN IDOL, Jenny's heart isn't up for grabs; she's already given it to the editor of her school paper, even though she doesn't know it yet. She's trying to keep Luke Striker's identity secret and pass him off as a normal teenage boy the way her school principal asked. When word gets out about the truth, however, Jenny's life turns upside down and she becomes stronger than she knows!

If you're a fan of Meg Cabot (And if you're not, you should be!), or want a different take on the "celebrity genre" check out TEEN IDOL, appropriate for tweens and teens alike!

~*~
O F F I C I A   I N F O:

Title: TEEN IDOL
Author: Meg Cabot
Release Date: July 26, 2005
Publisher: HarperTeen

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18365279-the-castle-behind-thorns
SUMMARY:

High school junior Jenny Greenley is so good at keeping secrets that she's the school newspaper's anonymous advice columnist. She's so good at it that, when hotter-than-hot Hollywood star Luke Striker comes to her small town to research a role, Jenny is the one in charge of keeping his identity under wraps. But Luke doesn't make it easy, and soon everyone—the town, the paparazzi, and the tabloids alike—know his secret...and Jenny is caught right in the middle of all the chaos.

*****Giveaway*****

During A Week of Shooting Stars,
I'm giving away a book of YOUR CHOICE
from the event!

It could be TEEN IDOL!

Enter now!


This giveaway is INTERNATIONAL to any country that Book Depository ships to.  You can also claim an e-book as a prize; it doesn't have to be a physical copy!

You must be at least 13 years old to enter or have a parent's permission!

Enter now!
d