Monthly Archives: December 2012

Books of 2013


You will not be surprised to know that I have a towering pile of books to read. You will also not be surprised to know that I plan to add to it.

These are some of the books I’m highly anticipating come 2013!


Just One Day by Gayle Forman (release date: Jan. 8, 2013)


Return To Me by Justina Chen (release date: Jan. 15, 2013)


Perfect Scoundrels: A Heist Society Novel by Ally Carter (release date: Feb. 5, 2013)


Also Known As by Robin Benway (release date: Feb. 26, 2013)


The Madness Underneath Book 2 of The Shades of London by Maureen Johnson

(release date: Feb. 26, 2013)


Unremembered by Jessica Brody(release date: March 5, 2013)


Fox Forever: The Jenna Fox Chronicles by Mary Pearson (release date: March 19, 2013)


This Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith (release date: April 2, 2013)


The Lucy Variation by Sara Zarr (release date: May 7, 2013)


Isla and The Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins (release date: May 7, 2013)


The Book of Broken Hearts by Sarah Ockler (release date: May 21, 2013)


The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen (release date: June 4, 2013)

Oh and there will be more to add as I learn of other release dates – and more for the second half of the year! I’d better get reading!

Happy holidays to all of you! Thank you so much for joining me, here! I’ll see you in 2013!

Wild Reads!


As a former raptor rehabber and zoo educator with a degree in Zoology, I love reading books about wildlife. Finding good nonfiction isn’t a problem. Earlier this year I read and loved


Life, Love, and Elephants by Dame Daphne Sheldrick, a memoir about Dame Sheldrick’s life growing up in Kenya and about her elephant orphanage.

But, finding good fiction that balances the amazing facts of wildlife and/or environment with great story is a bigger challenge. In some cases, I find the facts are at the forefront, making me feel like I’m reading a textbook. In other cases, the story is too weak to be entertaining or the characters cardboard, not making me care about their plights. I recently read two outstanding books that wove both story and wildlife/environmental issues seamlessly.


Endangered by Eliot Schrefer (YA fiction)

When 14-year-old Sophie flies to her former home, the Democratic Republic of Congo, to spend the summer with her mother at her mother’s bonobo sanctuary, she is unprepared for what follows when she “rescues” an orphaned and suffering bonobo from the streets. She falls in love with the dependent Otto, caring for him while her mother keeps busy with the sanctuary. As summer comes to a close and her mother leaves to do a release of bonobos, rebel war breaks out and Sophie must survive on her own and care for Otto. A truly gripping and fascinating tale focusing on Sophie’s survival and highlighting the plight of endangered bonobos.


Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver (adult fiction)

When Dellarobia was 17, she got pregnant and all her plans and dreams flew out the window. She married Cub Turnbow, moving into the house his parents built for them on their family farm, and two children and ten years later, she feels like the perpetual outsider. One day, after making a decision she starts to reconsider that takes her up the mountainside behind her house, she is greeted by a dazzling display of only what she can call a lake of fire. This leads to a series of many changes in her life. The vision was actually wintering (and displaced) monarch butterflies This brings a flood of news-journalists, scientists, and activists. And as the months turn, so do Dellarobia’s thoughts which lead her to some hard decisions regarding her life choices, her dreams and hopes, and her marriage.  This story is half science journal and half story and perfectly blended, dealing with broken dreams and climate change, God and politics, disparate views and the differences in life, learning, and thought when it comes to the haves and  have-nots.

I highly recommend all of the above books! Happy reading!

And The Winner Is…


I used Random.Org to randomly generate the winner for a signed copy of The Girl In The Wall by Daphne Bendis-Grab. Thank you to everyone for stopping by to read the interview and to those of you who entered the drawing.


The lucky winner of this exciting YA thriller is….drum roll please….

Mona Pease!!!! Congratulations!!!

Please email me at just kid ink at yahoo dot com (no spaces) and send me your mailing address and I’ll get your prize to you in the mail as soon as possible!

Stay tuned for more fabulous author interviews, book buzz, and contests in 2013! Thanks for reading!

Peace, Love, Understanding


I have no words for what happened in Newtown, CT.  I am heartsick. I weep for the lost lives, the loss of innocence. I’m struggling to find a way to comprehend, and am failing. I will continue to use this blog to share my love of authors, of books, particularly for young people. My way of celebrating life, reading, love.

Peace, Love, and Understanding.

Holiday Book Gifts


I love giving books as gifts and to all the young people on my list, I always give books. I’ve been giving my daughter books as gifts for her entire life. In fact, when she was much younger, she became slightly jaded about signed copies, because she received them from me almost all the time.

Ever since she became old enough to read the same (YA) books as I read, I’ve loved even more picking out books for her. It’s not only a book I loved, but one that I think she will love, too (as our tastes sometimes diverge). I love it when she insists that I read a book she loved, too. One of the highest compliments my teen gave me recently was after she bought a book I hadn’t read (so I couldn’t recommend it). She started it and didn’t like it and didn’t finish it. She said, “I should have known better than to buy a book you didn’t recommend.”

I won’t share what book I’m getting her this year because I don’t want to give away the surprise (for her). Here are a few books I gave my (now 17 year old) daughter that were hits:


The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

When Rory’s parents take a sabbatical to teach in England, Rory leaves behind her small bayou town in Louisiana and attends a boarding school in London. Just as she starts her first day, Jack the Ripper murders start taking place. She makes quick friends with her roommate Jaz and her group of friends, including the cute but shy Jerome, who is rather obsessed with the murders.

I don’t want to go into more of the book because I hate spoilers and I would hate to give anything away. I didn’t get this book for my daughter for Christmas but for summer right before she was going to London. 😉 She’s greatly looking forward to the next book coming out in early 2013!


Plain Kate by Erin Bow

Plain Kate is going to be a master carver, like her father, until a strange plague sweeps through her town and leaves her an orphan.  With only her cat as her companion, Kate tries to survive on the streets.  When a strange man shows up, she suspects him a witch and her fears are confirmed when he tricks her out of her shadow. He gives her a gift in exchange, but because of this (and the lack of a shadow) Kate knows she must flee before being burned as a witch.

I loved this book so much! I still recommend it to others. And I love it also because right after my daughter finished reading it? She came over to me and gave me a huge hug, thanking me for getting her the book. It was THAT good.

Finally, I got this book for her last year:


The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

On the island of Thisby, the Scorpio Races are held every November. And every November men die. These are not ordinary horse races on the beach. The horses are the capilll uisce, mysterious man-eating horses from the sea. Thisby men capture and train them for the race, both man and horse in danger as the capill uisce long to be back in the sea. Nobody knows this better than Sean Kendrick, who trains and works for the successful stable on the island. He and the beloved capill uisce Corr have won the race four times over – and he longs to be able to own Corr – the two belong together. Puck (Kate) Connolly has never wanted anything to do with the races (having lost her parents to the capill uisce), but when circumstances force her, she decides to break all unspoken rules and enter the race.

My daughter who has been super busy with AP classes, SAT/ACT tests, extra curricular activities, and college applications has not had much time this year for pleasure reading. I’m anxious for her to read this book, and I know she will when she has the chance (maybe this break). I want her to love it as much as I did!

Stayed tuned for my 2012 Reading List – all the books I read and loved this year.

And don’t forget to enter for a chance to win a signed copy of The Girl in the Wall by Daphne Bendis-Grab.

Welcome to the Spotlight: Daphne Bendis-Grab and The Girl In The Wall!


I’m so thrilled to put the spotlight on Daphne Bendis-Grab and her new novel, The Girl in the Wall! Stayed tuned below to find out how you can win a free signed copy of this book!


The Girl In The Wall by Daphne Bendis-Grab (Merit Press, 2012)

Sera isn’t happy about having to go to her ex-best friend’s 17th birthday party, but her father insisted. After being shunned by Ariel and the popular crowd for something she did, Sera knows the weekend long extravaganza at Ariel’s family estate will not be fun, but she is looking forward to the private concert by superstar Hudson Winters. Just as the party is getting started, armed mercenaries crash the party and hold the party hostage. As the body count rises, the gunmen demand to know to where Ariel has disappeared. Only Sera knows that the house has secret tunnels behind the walls. Will Sera and Ariel work together or against each other as they and their classmates fight for their lives?

What was the initial spark behind THE GIRL IN THE WALL and what was the journey to publication like?

My book ideas tend to start as what-ifs, like in the case of GIRL, what would happen if a posh birthday party, complete with private rock concert and best friend feud, was taken hostage.  I’ll be walking to yoga or waiting for the subway and a what-if will pop into my mind.  Sometimes it’s triggered by something I see, an outfit, a news headline, or a conversation snippet I overhear.  Other times it’s just the direction my thoughts go.  I’m always excited about a what-if but I have learned they aren’t always good story ideas; sometimes they are a fun premise that can’t really go anywhere interesting.  But in the case of GIRL, the more I thought it through, the more places I could see it going.  And that’s how it started!

When I was about halfway through the first draft my agent emailed and said she’d had a publisher request for a thriller and could I send her what I had written so far (she always knows what I am working on).  I did, we polished it up, I wrote up a synopsis of where it was going and we sent it off.  It got a few rejections (always so hard!) but there was positive response too and in the end we chose to go with Merit Press.  It’s been a great ride- I feel very lucky to be with my editor and the whole team at Merit!

Whew! This was a definite heart-stopping page-turner! Hostage situation, danger and death, mystery and intrigue! What was it like writing a thriller compared to the  your first novel, a YA contemporary? Any surprises while writing THE GIRL IN THE WALL?

ALIVE AND WELL IN PRAGUE, NEW YORK was a more personal story.  It was inspired by my dad’s battle with ALS and it drew from my own places of grief.  GIRL was very different- an idea that drew me in, that I couldn’t stop thinking about.  The emotions are real- fear, anger, helplessness, a crush in an inappropriate moment- but the circumstances aren’t anything I’ve ever actually experienced. It was an awfully fun book to write!

I think what surprised me was how hard it was to revise.  I wrote the first draft with joyful abandon but then had this manuscript of things that didn’t quite fit together as tightly as they needed to.  Lucky for me I have some awesome reader friends who helped get it in shape for my editor, who then helped turn it into a fully cohesive story.

Sera and Ariel had a long shared history before their falling out – the hidden walls being part of it. When you were a child, did you have a special secret hide-out? What was it and what made it special?

My first choice hideout was books- as a kid I spent half my time buried in a story.  But then in junior high my friend Lani and came up with an unusual secret hideout where we would go to read books together- my mother’s car.  It was parked at the end of our driveway, hidden from both street and the house by trees and bushes so it felt like our own little world.  We’d go in with snacks and books, turn it on so we could hear the radio and have the heat, crack the window so we weren’t poisoned and read for hours.  It wasn’t until the day we drained the car battery that my mom discovered what we were doing and out a quick stop to it.  We had to settle for my bedroom after that.

Debbi, thank you so much for having me on your fabulous blog!

Thank YOU, Daphne for stopping by!

Daphne Benedis-Grab earned an MFA from The New School in creative writing and her thesis became her first book for teens, Alive and Well in Prague, New York.  She has worked a number of jobs including buildings houses for Habitat for Humanity and teaching adult literacy classes.  She lives in New York City with her husband, two kids and a very spoiled cat.

For more about Daphne and her books, check out her web site and her Facebook page.

Win a signed copy of THE GIRL IN THE WALL!

Please follow the directions below (most of you know the drill)!

1. Comment on this post, and for fun, tell me where your childhood “secret” hide-out was. Mine was in my next door neighbor’s garage (she knew this). It was filled with old furniture and her childhood toys and clothes. I could spend hours in there, playing.

2. Leave your comment (and email address) by midnight EST Saturday, December 15th. The lucky winner will be announced on this blog and will be contacted by email on Tuesday, December 18th. Late entries will not be included in the drawing (sorry).

3. Entrants must have a U.S. or Canada mailing address.

Good luck and thanks for stopping by!

Teen and Kid Favorites, Part 3


Welcome to part 3, the final installment, in this year’s series of Teen and Kid Favorites, just in time for the holiday shopping season. Here are links to part 1 and part 2 in case you missed them. Thank you to all the kids and teens who participated in this year’s survey.

The question: What is your favorite book this year and why?

Laurel, age 4 (almost 5):

The Duckling Gets a Cookie!? by Mo Willems


Why is this your favorite book this year? Because Mommy and I love Mo Willems!

Riley, age 17:

Into The Wild by Jon Krakauer


Why is this your favorite book this year?  It reflects on the difficulties of getting by in life with as few material possessions as possible, and shows a struggle of a man trying to find his place in society.

Ava, age 6:

Mr. Putter and Tabby books by Cynthia Rylant (illus. by Arthur Howard)


Why is this your favorite book this year?  I love Mr. Putter & Tabby. Especially Mr. Putter & Tabby Paint the Porch. It is really funny. You laugh a lot. Tabby and Zeke the dog are always getting into trouble.

Pearl, age 13:

Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan


Why is this your favorite book of the year? Because I love anything to do with Greek mythology.

Zachary, age 7-1/2:

Bad Kitty for President by Nick Bruel


Why is this your favorite book this year? I liked that it was between Bad Kitty and Big Kitty for President and Strange Kitty was the judge. Then, it was hilarious because Strange Kitty was the judge and he won!

Thanks again to all the participants! It’s fun to see what kids and teens are reading! Be sure to check out the comments to see what everyone else picked as favorites. Happy reading!

Stay tuned for some of my past Christmas picks for my daughter, and for a Spotlight interview and give-away!

Teen and Kid Favorites, Pt 2


Welcome back to part 2 of Teen and Kid Favorites – just in time for holiday shopping! Thank you to all the kids and teens who participated! I greatly appreciate it!

The question this year: What was your favorite book of the year and why?

Daegen, age 12:

The Warriors series by Erin Hunter

Why is this your favorite book this year? I’m reading the series for the third time. I own all the books.

Caitlin, age 17:

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

Why is this your favorite book this year?  I’m usually not one for the classics–the old writing is always so hard to follow–but this was the exception to the rule. It was a fantastic story with a whole bunch of tragic backstory, and characters that I kind of loved to hate (or maybe I hated that I loved them). It was just really edgy and cool, for 19th century England.

Kalani, age 4:

Because Your Daddy Loves You by Andrew Clements

Why is this your favorite book this year? Because my daddy loves me.

Sofi, age 11:

The Evolution of Calpernia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly

Why is this your favorite book this year?  I loved this book because it was about a girl like me and I can easily relate to her which made it fun. Also, I loved the adventures the main character has with her Grandpa. There were quotes at each chapter that I loved!!!

Samantha, age 17:

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

Why is this your favorite book this year? Because it’s brilliant. Just absolutely, breathtakingly brilliant.

Amanda, age 14:

Hush, Hush (and sequels) by Becca Fitzpatrick

Why is this your favorite book this year?  Because they’re creepy.

Erlan and Ainyr, ages 8

Starry River of the Sky by Grace Lin


Why is this your favorite book this year?  Because we love everything Grace Lin writes! (And our mom loved reading it out loud to us.)

Stayed tuned for part 3, coming Thursday! Let me know what you’re favorite read was this year! Thanks for coming by!