Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Goodbye, 2013! And a great Booklist review!

I'm a little nostalgic about saying goodbye to 2013. It's been a good one for me, in many ways. As a writer, I got to announce my first book deal, see that book come to life with a fabulous cover, and have some exciting new experiences like signing ARCs at BEA in May. I got to see my book translated and published in Spain. And I wrote a second book, both an accomplishment and a huge learning experience. Hey kids, writing books is hard!

On a personal level, it was a rewarding if somewhat stressful year. In April my husband and I moved to a new home, and while we're still just renting for now, it was a great change to go from the tourist-packed Venice boardwalk to a clean, quiet neighborhood just a mile down the road. We took two big trips, one to Israel and Turkey to visit friends and family, and one vacation driving from Budapest to Rome with friends. We just closed out the year with a weeklong stay in Wisconsin and Michigan, visiting my family and getting our fill of snow for the coming year or two...or five.

2014 is going to be a big year. Big. Huge. For one, it's my debut year! I know I only get one of these, so I hope to enjoy it as much as possible. I'll be announcing my launch party shortly, along with some tour info. But besides writing, there are some potential big changes brewing on the horizon, hinting that 2014 might be one heck of a year. I'm excited (and not a little nervous) to see what all happens in the next twelve months.

And now I'm thrilled to close out the year on a happy note, as THE LOST PLANET just got a wonderful Booklist review, calling it "perfect for younger teen sci-fi fans." I'll post the full review below. Have a safe and happy New Year's Eve, and all best in 2014!

The Lost Planet.
Searles, Rachel (Author)
Jan 2014. 384 p. Feiwel and Friends, hardcover. (9781250038791).
Terrifying monsters, cold androids, and intriguing mysteries abound in Searles’ first novel. Chase Garrety awakens on a planet he doesn’t know and with a face he doesn’t recognize, his life up to now a complete blank. But his amnesia is far from his biggest problem: the only thing he can remember is a secret message, but what does it mean? Who is it for? His adventure across the planets of the Federation garners him new friends, old enemies, and more problems than he knows what to do with. Even though Chase is confused from the second he wakes up, his need to find out his history makes him easy to cheer on. Comparisons to Star Wars are not out of bounds, as this intergalactic escapade races on at an exciting pace. This fun, adrenaline-filled story is perfect for younger teen sci-fi fans. There could certainly be another installment to this story since Chase’s exploits aren’t easily put to bed, but The Lost Planet has a solid, satisfying conclusion. Let’s hope Searles has more up her sleeve.
— Stacey Comfort

Friday, December 20, 2013

2013 Rewind: My Top 10 YA/MG Reads

As the year winds down, the YA Buccaneers are taking a look at our favorite YA and MG reads of 2013, both new releases and old. You can see everyone's #1 pick listed here: http://www.yabuccaneers.com/blog/2013/12/19/2013-rewind-our-top-reads

I read 30 YA and MG books in 2013, along with a handful of adult books like Gone Girl, The Twelve, and several of the Song of Ice & Fire books. My top ten YA/MG list for 2013 is:

1. SIX INNINGS - As I said over on the YA Bucs, I was not expecting a MG baseball story to take top billing, but this lovely story about a Little League team and the championship game really stole my heart.
2. DAYS OF BLOOD & STARLIGHT - Laini Taylor. Do I need to say anything else? She weaves magic. 
3. MORE THAN THIS - I wrote a post on this book back on YA Buccaneers a while back--a very unique story that kept me guessing. 
4. WONDER - If you haven't read this one yet, do so. My nephew sent it to me and said it was one of his favorites. 
5. THE DREAM THIEVES - I have to admit, this book left me a little unfulfilled--I had that "I want the whole series NOW" feeling at the end. But the writing was absolutely lovely and I'm looking forward to the rest of the books. 
6. THESE BROKEN STARS - Thriller, romantic, space, done. For me, it was worth reading for the spaceship crash scene alone. I love huge action scenes!
7. TTHE CAVENDISH HOME FOR BOYS AND GIRLS - This one sat at the top of my TBR pile for a long time, and I finally got to it this fall--a wonderfully creepy and atmospheric MG read. 
8. THE PLANET THIEVES - I may have a weakness for space adventure, and this book is the real deal. Breathtaking action, inventive descriptions, and bold heroics--loved it!
9. WINGER - Andrew Smith is another favorite, and this book is a standout. Loved the voice so much.
10. UNDER THE NEVER SKY - I started out not sure what to think of this one--dystopian burnout, maybe? But the story grabbed me, and the characters were terrific, and by the end I was a fan. Looking forward to reading the rest of the trilogy!