Blog Tour: Poison by Bridget Zinn (#POISON @HyperionTeens)

Today I am so excited to participate in the blog tour for Poison by Bridget Zinn. Poison is Bridget’s debut, but she passed away before she could see her book on shelves and in readers’ hands. This tour is being organized by her husband in her memory, and over 100 bloggers and authors are participating. To see the full list of blogs on the tour, check out this post.

Now, I have not finished reading Poison yet (although I’ve started it!), but so far I can tell you that it’s a fresh and fun fantasy adventure. And there’s an enchanted piglet, which means it’s pretty much guaranteed to be worthwhile. I’ll put up a full review once I’ve finished.

But today, for the tour, we’re supposed to talk about firsts. Any first, within the realm of information suitable for the Internet (which, despite what one might deduce from watching Twitter or Tumblr or Facebook, is not EVERYTHING).

So. Because it is late and this is the only semi-interesting “first” story I can think of, you’re going to get the story of the first time I went water skiing. I shall call it:

The River Wild, But Without Kevin Bacon, Meryl Streep, or Rapids

When I was in high school, I had a small but awesome group of friends in my church youth group. And one of these friends had a dad who owned a boat. One beautiful summer day, he took a group of us out on the Schuylkill River (which is not known for its sparkling clarity, but whatever) to learn how to water ski.

His daughter went first, to demonstrate the proper technique. She was a year older than me and about a thousand times more coordinated. She made it look easy. She even dropped one ski and glided around on one leg for a while. Piece of cake, right?


When it was my turn, I jumped in the water, bobbing in my life jacket like a misshapen apple in a barrel, and slipped the skis on. And by “slipped,” I mean fought desperately for several minutes. The skis wanted to be on top of the water. My body did not. This was a problem. The boat circled lazily around me as I flopped and floundered like a dying fish, until finally I had the skis on my feet.

Then came the task of grabbing the rope. The boat circled again, and the rope slithered across the top of the water behind my back. I grabbed at it, but couldn’t seem to maneuver my ski-addled body close enough. So the boat came around again. And again. And again. I flailed and flushed and considered stripping off the life jacket and skis and calling it quits (never mind that I wasn’t sure if I could get them off after the amount of effort it took to get them on, and I would most likely drown trying).

But my stubborn nature took over, and I refused to give up before I’d even attempted the actual skiing part. So after half a dozen boat passes, I finally grabbed the handle at the end of the rope.

Then I was supposed to prop my feet up in front of me, birthing style, and grip the handle between my knees. In case you have never tried to do this while wearing a life jacket and large wooden planks strapped to your feet, while floating in a semi-viscous river and watched by a group of teenage friends who are all at least three levels cooler than you, this is not as easy as it sounds. Oh, also, the rope was attached to the boat, and the boat was still moving. Which means I’m attempting to do this while being dragged slowly down the river.

Not awesome, people. Not. Awesome.

Finally — finally — I was in position. “Ready?” my friend’s dad called, and I gave a thumbs-up like everything I had done was totally cool and not at all painfully awkward. The motor grumbled and the boat surged, and I lifted up out of the water — HUZZAH! — and then pitched forward and fell flat on my face. I was upright for maybe half a second. Maybe.

That’s no problem, my friends called. That’s totally normal. No one gets up the first time. So I tried again. More flailing, more near-drowning, more stubborn pride, more face-planting. This went on for upwards of an hour.

Finally, I dragged myself back onto the boat, all spaghetti-armed and pathetic, having never actually water skied during my turn to water ski.

Other friends took turns, to varying degrees of success. We took a break for lunch. I ate a sandwich that tasted like failure. “You know,” my friend’s dad said, “you should try again after lunch. Sometimes it just takes your subconscious a little while to process what went wrong.  I’ll bet if you try again, you’ll be able to do it.”

Yes. Because if at first you fail miserably at a water sport, you should try it again immediately after eating. This sounds like excellent logic.

But even though I was sure I could never do it, I agreed to try again. Never mind that I was fairly certain my subconscious had been focused mostly on how to create a portal through the dock back to my bedroom at home, where I could hide forever until everyone forgot I had ever attempted this, and not on what went wrong water skiing. I was 100% certain I was about to fall on my face again, make a fool of myself, and possibly die.

But then something miraculous happened.

I did it.

I did it.

I pulled myself up out of the water…and I didn’t fall. I rode the wake behind the boat, the wind whipped through my hair, and I was water skiing.

And in that moment, I didn’t care about all the failures and embarrassments of the morning. I didn’t care that I snorted water up my nose. I didn’t care that the force of the water around my body as I was pulled out of the water did very uncomfortable things to the back of my bathing suit. And I didn’t care that my form was probably less water sprite and a little more hippo ballerina. I had done it. I had accomplished the thing I was sure I would never accomplish, and what’s more — I loved it.

After that, I didn’t go water skiing often, but when I did, getting up out of the water was never a problem. My brain had conquered whatever that mystical thing is that brains do, and had figured out a way around my glitch. And every time I went, I felt exhilarated, empowered, and proud. My family went to Aruba a couple years later and my brother and I went water skiing in the ocean. The guys on the boat were impressed that the waves didn’t trip us up.

The truth is, those waves couldn’t come close to competing with that first obstacle: the part of me that was sure I couldn’t do it, ever, no matter how hard I tried. Once I was able to overcome that, the Atlantic Ocean didn’t seem like such a big deal.

So, there’s my “first” story. What about you? Any big “firsts” in your life that you’d like to share?

And congratulations to Bridget, and her friends and family, on this momentous “first.”

About Poison

Sixteen-year-old Kyra, a highly-skilled potions master, is the only one who knows her kingdom is on the verge of destruction—which means she’s the only one who can save it. Faced with no other choice, Kyra decides to do what she does best: poison the kingdom’s future ruler, who also happens to be her former best friend. But, for the first time ever, her poisoned dart…misses.

Now a fugitive instead of a hero, Kyra is caught in a game of hide-and-seek with the king’s army and her potioner ex-boyfriend, Hal. At least she’s not alone. She’s armed with her vital potions, a too-cute pig, and Fred, the charming adventurer she can’t stop thinking about. Kyra is determined to get herself a second chance (at murder), but will she be able to find and defeat the princess before Hal and the army find her?About Bridget Zinn

Bridget grew up in Wisconsin. She went to the county fair where she met the love of her life, Barrett Dowell. They got married right before she went in for exploratory surgery which revealed she had colon cancer. They christened that summer the “summer of love” and the two celebrated with several more weddings. Bridget continued to read and write until the day she died. Her last tweet was “Sunshine and a brand new book. Perfect.”

Bridget wanted to make people laugh and hoped readers would enjoy spending time with the characters she created. As a librarian/writer she loved books with strong young women with aspirations. She also felt teens needed more humorous reads. She really wanted to write a book with pockets of warmth and happiness and hoped that her readers’ copies would show the watermarks of many bath time reads.

Purchase your copy of Poison


Barnes & Noble


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Powell’s Books

Add Poison to your Goodreads pile!

Blog Tour: The Dark Unwinding – Interview with author Sharon Cameron (@CameronSharonE @Scholastic)

I’m excited to be participating in the blog tour, hosted by The Book Vortex, to help launch debut author Sharon Cameron’s new book, The Dark Unwinding! Sharon is a lovely person who I had the pleasure to meet earlier this week at her launch party. Sadly, she was the only person I “knew” at the party, and she was — understandably — completely swamped with adoring fans, so I wound up wallflowering it up in the YA section most of the evening. (Fortunately, I spotted Kat Zhang — who I hadn’t met before, but who is also a lovely person — doing pretty much the same thing, so we wallflowered together.)

But in my few precious moments with Sharon, she ingratiated herself to me permanently by being the only other person I have ever met (who is not related to me) to have seen and loved the movie Raising Arizona. We are now BFFs.

So today, I am excited to bring you an interview with Sharon! I kind of got carried away with my questions and sent her quadruple the amount I was supposed to. Oops. But she was, again, awesome and picked her favorites to answer. I think her answers are pretty spiffy, myself.

Oh, and at the end, there’s a chance to win pretty and shiny swag!

1) How long did it take to write The Dark Unwinding?

From first word to sale to final copy edits, almost three years. To get my first completed
draft, about thirteen months.

2) Is The Dark Unwinding the first novel you’ve written? And if not, what was the first
one about?

Oh, my beloved first novel! It’s about a young man’s sacrifice and impossible choice
when his adopted Scottish clan commits treason against the King of England in 1745. I
hope to shake the dust off it someday!

3) Avoiding spoilers (so you can be really vague if you need to be), what is your
favorite scene in The Dark Unwinding?

I have such a soft spot for the scene where Katharine spends the afternoon sliding down
the hill. It’s a glimpse at everything she would want from her life, and yet believes she
will never have. It was also one of the most difficult scenes to write, probably because I
loved it so much!

4) What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?

This came from my agent, Kelly Sonnack, at Andrea Brown Literary. She told me that
whenever she suggested a change in my manuscript, that instead of thinking about the
exact change she suggested, I should focus on why she felt there needed to be a change
in the first place. By focusing on “what” was making a reader feel a certain way, rather
than “how” I was being asked to revise, I think I’ve been able to get to the heart of
the problem during the revision process, rather than focusing on specific changes that
weren’t resonating with me. It made me much more perceptive as a writer.

5) What’s next for you as an author?

The Dark Unwinding the sequel! Look for more info coming soon!

6) Top 5 favorite villains (movies, TV or books – anything goes)

Moriarty in Sherlock Holmes (especially in the new BBC Sherlock television series, SO
Gollum in Lord of the Rings (poor Gollum!)
The Winter in The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Snape in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Mrs. Danvers in Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier

7) Top 5 favorite heroes (same as above)

Sam in Lord of the Rings and Eowyn in Lord of the Rings (I can’t possibly choose
between them)
Eugenides in The Queen of Atollia and The King of Atollia (Sigh!)
Jane in Jane Eyre
Snape in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
The Luggage in The Light Fantastic by Terry Pratchett

8) Best book you’ve read in the past 12 months.

Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys

9) Most recent movie, TV show or book that made you cry.

Oh, gee. The unfortunate truth is, they all do. Happy or sad. It’s humiliating, really.

THCW: I pressed her on Twitter for a REAL answer to this one, and turns out it was a Publix commercial. I feel ya, Sharon. Those things are brutal. Seriously.

10) Reality show you’d have the best chance of winning.

The Amazing Race. I am positive I would rock that and win a million bucks.

11) Ideal vacation spot.

The West Highlands of Scotland. THE most beautiful place on the planet and where I feel
incredibly at home.

Thanks so much for joining me on my blog today, Sharon! I’m so happy I could be part of your tour, and I wish you and The Dark Unwinding oodles of success!

More about Sharon:

Sharon Cameron was awarded the 2009 Sue Alexander Most Promising New Work Award by the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators for her debut novel, The Dark Unwinding. When not writing Sharon can be found thumbing dusty tomes, shooting her longbow, or indulging in her lifelong search for secret passages.

More about The Dark Unwinding:

The Dark Unwinding begins when seventeen year old Katharine Tulman is sent to her uncle’s remote and bizarre estate to have him committed to an asylum. But instead of a lunatic, she finds a child-like, genius inventor with his own set of rules, employing a village of nine hundred people rescued from the workhouses of London. Katharine is torn between protecting her own inheritance and preserving her uncle’s peculiar world that she has come to care for deeply, a choice made even more complicated by a gray-eyed apprentice, and the strange visions and nightmares that have her secretly fearing for her own sanity.

Find Sharon on the Interwebs:

Her website




Visit the other stops on the Blog Tour!

Buy The Dark Unwinding (releasing September 1)

Amazon               Barns & Noble              The Book Depository

And now for some fun swag! Sharon is going to send 10 lucky winners a beautiful ribbon bookmark, perfectly tailored to match your copy of The Dark Unwinding. There’s a key at one end and a metal disk with the title and gears at the other, tied with either a satin or organdy ribbon in light blue (to match the cover model’s dress, of course).

I used my copy of the book to model the bookmark for you. But don’t get excited. It’s my book. You can get your own.

The ribbon is light blue. I swear.

It fits the book perfectly! You know you want one.

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Blog Tour: Battlefield by J.F. Jenkins + GIVEAWAY!

Book Blurb: 

Cadence, JD, and Orlando couldn’t be more different from one another. Under normal circumstances, the three wouldn’t so much as say hi to each other if they could get away with it. Then an alien crashes through the roof of their local mall, and everything changes. Not only do the three teens gain new abilities, but they’re also chosen to help fight in an intergalactic war where the next chosen battlefield is Earth.

Reluctant at first, they change their minds when the fight hits close to home. Teenagers from school start to go missing, and some are dead. Together they must learn to work together and solve the mystery behind these disappearances before more lives are lost.

Author Info:

J.F. Jenkins lives in Minneapolis where she spends most of her time creating and plotting world domination – something that has been in the works for roughly 13 years.

In her free time she works as the local coffee wench and dominates the minions of the pixilated world on her PS3.

She’s also got a little man (J Walk) and a little man trapped in a big man’s body (J Dawg) to take care of along with her two fur babies Ushi and Tibu.

She is currently unrepresented by an agency. Email with questions and comments.

Links :

Blog | Twitter  | Amazon

My Review:

Battlefield had a lot of things going for it. First, the premise of an alien war coming to Earth, asking regular kids to help them fight it, and then giving them superpowers. All of this is awesome. I would totally see the movie.

Second, the characters are fun. My favorite was probably the dark and guarded Orlando, but I also liked JD and Cadence. They each had their own personalities and quirks and struggles, and I liked reading their interactions (although the dialogue was a little hard to follow at times).

It was a quick and fairly easy read, and the pacing kept me engaged. I was able to easily follow the plot and the shifts in POV between the three teens and Alan, their alien mentor.

From the cover and the blurb, I got the impression that Battlefield would be full of crazy sci-fi action and battles, and while there was some of that, most of the book was character exploration as we got to know the three teens and Alan, and as they played around with their new abilities and learned to play nice with each other. There’s nothing wrong with that; you just need to adjust your expectations accordingly.

That said, Battlefield did have a few issues that I struggled with. The first was just realism in the lives of the teens. At the beginning of the book, before they receive their powers, it is established that Cadence is not, shall we say, the sharpest tool in the shed. However, as we meet Cadence she is puzzling through her math homework, specifically this problem: x+4=6. She must solve for x.

This is kindergarten math. Literally. I have a child just starting first grade, and this sort of math is what she was doing in school last year. I don’t care how remedial Cadence’s classes are, I doubt they sent her back to elementary school.

Or then there’s Orlando and his abundant wealth. He lives in a mansion roughly the size of Buckingham Palace (okay, I made up the comparison, but to hear it described, that’s about right), complete with an entire secret wing thousands of square feet and multiple stories in size, that his sister has never noticed. Apparently she has never walked completely around the outside of their house.

Then he decides to furnish said secret wing with furniture and appliances from IKEA, and he buys two of everything so that he can tell his sister the bill was so he could decorate a different area of the house, and the bill to completely outfit the equivalent of two modest-size apartments with brand-new IKEA everything is $5,000.

Trust me, I’ve spent long enough browsing the IKEA catalog to have a decent idea of what it would cost to furnish an entire house/apartment. Twice. And it’s a lot more than $5,000, even when you are doing it with sleek but cheap Swedish furniture.

BTW: The IKEA shopping spree? Totally my dream. I’m still in mourning that I moved from a place with an IKEA to a place without an IKEA.

So those are just a couple examples of unrealistic elements that left me scratching my head, saying, “well that’s not right,” which in turn took me out of the story.

And yes, I realize I’m talking about a book with alien superpowers and complaining that math problems and IKEA prices took me out of the story. But as always, the fantastic stuff I can buy. I’ve never been to Alan’s homeworld. I don’t know what’s possible there, or what possibilities he brings to Earth with him. It’s the stuff that I’m familiar with, the stuff that’s based here that I need to feel real. And there’s a bunch of little stuff scattered throughout the story that just didn’t ring true for me. Not enough to ruin the book. But enough to take me out of the story, and I think the goal of any story is to immerse the reader from beginning to end.

Aside from the little details not ringing true, the other main problem I have with the book is that it seems to end in the middle of the story. I was actually shocked the book ended where it did. It’s not a cliffhanger, it’s not a resolution, it doesn’t follow a big action scene. It just…stops. I felt like I had just read half a book, and then it was over. It’s good that there’s a sequel, Control, because otherwise we’ll never get answers to any of the big questions raised in Battlefield.

Overall, Battlefield was a fun concept and a quick read with likable characters. No, the execution wasn’t up to the standards of some of the best YA sci-fi I’ve read (and keep in mind, I tend to be pretty nit-picky in my reading), but it was still entertaining.

Also, I had this song stuck in my head the entire time I was reading it. Now you can too. Just pretend it’s JD and Cadence dancing (not that JD and Cadence look like this, or can dance…or can they?).


Enter below for a chance to win a digital copy of Battlefield from J.F. Jenkins!

This giveaway is author-sponsored and open internationally. Entrants must be 13 years old or older. I WILL be checking IP addresses, and people entering under multiple usernames WILL be disqualified.

Winners will be drawn on 8/16 and notified by email. They will have up to 48 hours to respond before a new winner is chosen.

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Thanks to J.F. Jenkins and Heather from SupaGurl Tours for letting me be part of the blog tour!

Blog Tour: Circus Summer by Kailin Gow – Dream Cast (@kailingow)

Today I’m happy to be part of the blog tour promoting Kailin Gow’s newest book, the circus dystopian Circus Summer! I’ll be putting up a review at a later date, but today I have something that I always find rather fun. Kailin is guest posting and letting us know her dream cast if there were ever a movie version of Circus Summer!

And seriously, if there was ever a movie version, it would be super-awesome, because this book has crazy action, monsters, romance, and circus funtimes. Honestly, who wouldn’t want to see that?

So now you’ll know who Kailin had in mind as she was writing Circus Summer, and that’ll make your life easier when you read it. Or at least, it should. That’s how my brain works, at any rate.

As a bonus, if you want to go buy the Kindle version of Circus Summer, there’s a contest/giveaway for the chance to win a $100 Amazon Gift Card hidden in the pages!

Say what?

*Looks ruefully at paperback*

*Considers buying Kindle version in spite of already owning signed paperback*


Oh, also, if you are intrigued and would like to purchase a copy of Circus Summer, email your receipt to info(at) theEDGEbooks(dot)com, along with a comment saying that you heard about the book from me. Whichever tour host generates the most sales gets goodies. And I like goodies. Obviously.

So without further ado, here’s Kailin!

Guest Post  – Kailin Gow

Dream Cast

Circus Summer (Circus of Curiosities #1)

When I thought up the idea of the Circus of Curiosities Series, I pictured a world in sepia and red.  A world that has been devastated by war and poverty, but where people still have the willpower to survive and love despite all the devastation.

Out of the ashes from the devastation in this post-apocalyptic world, emerge the champions of humankind.  Everything is cryptic in Book 1 (Circus Summer), as seen through the eyes of Leela Sinclair, who is kept innocent and ignorant of the Invaders, the War, and the mysteries behind the Capitol.  Like most citizens in the United, this is intentional, as is the Circus’ purpose to entertain and distract while displaying the height of human capabilities as well as faults.  However to those who know a bit more about the War and the Circus, such as Zachary Niles, the Circus presents an opportunity to change things, an opportunity he must keep secret.

Dex Hightower (Dr. Dex)

Dex Hightower is the mysterious and charismatic, handsome, quirky,  and charming ringmaster of the Circus of Curiosities.  He can be cruel yet kind at the same time.  He has a connection to Niles and Leela’s mother, as well as an intriguing bad boy past in Sea Cliff, the little town the Circus of Curiosities have stopped at to perform this summer.  Somewhere in the beginning of writing, Johnny Depp kept popping up in my mind as a strong contender for the role of Dr. Dex.  He has the smoky and sexy quality that gives him an allure that allows him command the attention of all those in the crowd, as well as the circus performers.  He’s also charming, smart, and mysterious.  He can be a villain as well as a hero, which Dr. Dex walks the fine line with in his Circus.

Zachary Niles (Zach)

Zachary Niles is the gorgeous, popular and charming boy in Sea Cliff, whom Leela Sinclair had always had a crush.  His parents own the only marketplace in Sea Cliff, which makes Zachary the richest boy in school.  He volunteers to be in the Circus, although no one can figure why, since he doesn’t need the opportunities, food, and money as the others who enter.

Thomas Tattenbaum


Thomas is Leela’s best friend and family friend.  He’s handsome in an All-American boy next door who’s a hunky hottie way.  He and Leela have always been done things together like dive for oysters and go rock climbing together.  He’s Captain of their school’s swim team, and very much in love with Leela.

For some reason, I didn’t picture an actor specifically to play Thomas.  But from reading Circus Summer and about Thomas, who would you cast?

THCW vote: 

or maybe…

(And yes, I realize I cast Matt Lauria last time I did a dream cast too. What can I say, I want to see FNL actors in EVERYTHING.)

Leela Sinclair


Leela Sinclair is a hard-working teen living in Sea Cliff with her ailing mother and little brother.  Her older brother has been drafted to the War and her father, who used to be a doctor, was sent to the War to help.  Leela is the provider of her family, which means she couldn’t have time for anything other than school, work, and taking care of her family.  When the Circus of Curiosities rolls into town, she finds the Circus, as morbid and dangerous as it is, a way to help her family and a way for her to do more with her life.   She’s a natural beauty, who is athletic  yet feminine at the same time.

Again, I’m leaving the character of Leela Sinclair open.  Who would you cast after reading Circus Summer and getting to know Leela?

THCW vote:

(Again with my great love for FNL.)

Well, there you have it – the main cast of Circus Summer.

Thank you for letting me share Circus Summer with you!


About the book:

In post-apocalypse America, every season, the Circus of Curiosities visits the city, bringing with it the most fantastic circus acts that are beautiful, majestic, curious, and death-defying. Every season performers for these acts are chosen from the young men and women in each town, trained, and sent to perform in a live grand performance, performed literally to the death. Two performers from Sea Cliff, a beach town at the outskirts of The Center find themselves chosen to be in this Summer’s Circus Act. Both must win at any cost, but could they ignore their feelings for each other? Leela Sinclair needs to win in order to get to The Center where she can get medical help from the best physicians for her ailing mother, plague with a condition no one have heard of. For Zachary Nile, his reasons for becoming a performer at the Circus is more mysterious. Only the ringmaster and the Circus of Curiosities owner Dex Hightower (Dr. Dex) knows what the touring Circus is really about amidst the magic and splendor. Despite the Great War and the poverty surrounding the land except for the towns fortunate enough to be near the Center, Dr. Dex and the Circus performers all know, “The show must go on.”

About the author:

Kailin Gow is the author of over 100 books, with the majority of them for young adults. Her most popular series are:  The Frost Series, PULSE Series, Desire Series, Wicked Woods, Steampunk Scarlett Novels, and more.  A full-time author, she is also a producer, having worked in radio, television, and film.  She grew up in Southern California, lived in Texas and England, and had traveled extensively around the world.