Author Interview – Jesse Haynes

Happy Tuesday, TSR readers!

Today we’re here with a brand-new interview with TSR fave, Jesse Haynes, who will be returning to our shelves soon with a firey new trilogy! (I’ve got to tell you, it sounds AMAZING and I can’t wait to get my hands on it.) So without further ado, here we go!

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You’d Be Mine by Erin Hahn – Book Review

Aaaand welcome to our first review of 2019! (Yes, I realize we’re 4 months in. I’ll try to do better at this blogging thing, I promise.)

Today I’ll be talking about a brand-new YA book from a debut author – You’d Be Mine by Erin Hahn.

You'd Be Mine - Erin Hahn

Annie Mathers is America’s sweetheart and heir to a country music legacy full of all the things her Gran warned her about. Superstar Clay Coolidge is most definitely going to end up one of those things.

But unfortunately for Clay, if he can’t convince Annie to join his summer tour, his music label is going to drop him. That’s what happens when your bad boy image turns into bad boy reality. Annie has been avoiding the spotlight after her parents’ tragic death, except on her skyrocketing YouTube channel. Clay’s label wants to land Annie, and Clay has to make it happen.

Swayed by Clay’s undeniable charm and good looks, Annie and her band agree to join the tour. From the start fans want them to be more than just tour mates, and Annie and Clay can’t help but wonder if the fans are right. But if there’s one part of fame Annie wants nothing to do with, it’s a high-profile relationship. She had a front row seat to her parents’ volatile marriage and isn’t interested in repeating history. If only she could convince her heart that Clay, with his painful past and head over heels inducing tenor, isn’t worth the risk.

This book was one of my most highly anticipated YA novels of 2019, so did it meet my expectations? Find out below the cut (SPOILERS abound)!

Continue reading “You’d Be Mine by Erin Hahn – Book Review”

Upcoming 2019 YA Books I’m Excited About

With 2018 winding down, I figured it was time to dust the ole blog off (I’ve really been terrible at this blogging thing, haven’t I?) and talk about some 2019 book releases that I’m super excited about, listed in order of release date. These are all either standalones or the first in a series — I’m not including sequels in this list for the sake of my sanity (because this would be like 100 titles instead of just 20).

So without further ado, here is The Spork Review’s list of anticipated 2019 titles:

Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus (1/8/2019) – I absolutely LOVED One of Us Is Lying and was thrilled to snag an ARC of this one.

Death Prefers Blondes by Caleb Roehrig (1/29/2019) – Socialite by day, cat burglar by night? Sign me up.

We Told Six Lies by Victoria Scott (2/5/2019) – Ok so obviously I have a thing for mysteries. The description sounds SO intriguing though and I’ve loved all of Victoria’s other books.

Rayne & Delilah’s Midnite Matinee by Jeff Zentner (2/26/2019) – If you’re familiar with TSR you know that Jeff Zentner is on my auto-buy list. I was lucky enough to get an ARC of this one too!

Opposite of Always by Justin Reynolds (3/5/2019) – Boy meets girl. Boy falls in love with girl. Girl dies. ‘The End’, right? Nope. Has Butterfly Effect vibes that I’m down for.

When the Sky Fell on Splendor by Emily Henry (3/12/19) – It’s pitched as The Serpent King (one of my FAVORITE BOOKS EVER WRITTEN) meets Stranger Things, of course I’m excited for it.

Internment by Samira Ahmed (3/19/2019) – Timely considering the current political climate. I’m intrigued.

Eyes on Me by Rachel Harris (3/26/19) – I love ‘popular person is forced to work with the nerd and they bond’ books so this is right up my alley.

The Princess and the Fangirl by Ashley Poston (4/2/2019) – Ok so technically I lied, BUT this isn’t a sequel, it’s a companion novel. I loved Geekerella so dang much that this immediately went on my ‘Gimmie gimmie’ list the second I heard about it. Thanks to Quirk I have an E-ARC of this so I can’t wait to dive in!

You’d be Mine by Erin Han (4/2/2019) – I’m a sucker for YA novels with famous people and this sounds SO cute.

Somewhere Only We Know by Maurene Goo (5/7/2019) – I absolutely ADORED I Believe in a Thing Called Love and The Way You Make Me Feel so this is another auto-read.

Keep This to Yourself by Tom Ryan (5/7/2019) – Again, I LOVE a good twisty mystery and this promises to deliver.

Fake It till You Break It by Jenn Nguyen ( 5/28/2019) – Fake dating turns into real feelings. Be still my heart.

I Wish You all the Best by Mason Deaver (5/28/2019) –This is the first novel I’ve come across with a nonbinary MC so I’m super intrigued.

I Wanna Be Where You Are by Kristina Forest (6/4/2019) – Road trip with the boy next door? Yes please.

Swipe Right for Murder by Derek Milman (8/6/2019) – I LOOOOOOOVED Scream All Night, Derek’s debut, and was super thrilled when I heard he had another book coming out. Reading the first chapter’s excerpt just solidified my need for this RIGHT NOW.

EDIT: I’VE GOT AN ARC!!!! Thank you so so much to Jimmy Patterson Books.

His Hideous Heart, edited by Dahlia Adler (9/24/2019) – Edgar Allan Poe retellings. ‘Nuff said.

Gifted by Jesse Haynes ( Fall 2019) – X-Men meets Star Wars meets The Hunger Games with a twist. I’ve already read an early draft of this, and I’m so excited for everyone to meet Marx & the gang.

When You Were Everything by Ashley Woodfolk (No Release Date Available) – I heard Ashley talk about this one at the American Library Association Annual conference in New Orleans in June 2018, and I’m down for it. You rarely see a friendship breakup happen in a book where the friendship takes center stage.

Ten Blind Dates by Ashley Elston (No Release Date Available) – Ashley is another auto-buy for me for her AMAZINGLY twisty mysteries. (Seriously, do yourself a favor and pick up her books.) This, however, is the total opposite of what Ashley normally writes – pitched as The Holiday meets My Big Fat Greek Wedding, a girl goes through a breakup during the holidays and her family all set her up on a blind date – 10 total over 10 days. Publication is scheduled for Fall 2019 so I’m reallllly hoping there’s ARCs available soon.

And there you have it – The Spork Review’s anticipated 2019 YA reads! Any others that should be on my radar? Sound off in the comments!

A Short History of the Girl Next Door by Jared Reck – Book Review

I’ve finally got some free time, so today we’ll be diving into a new book review – A Short History of the Girl Next Door by Jared Reck.

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Here’s the description of the book from Goodreads, which mind you is the ONLY description I read before actually reading the book:

The unrequited love of the girl next door is the centerpiece of this fiercely funny, yet heart-breaking debut novel.
Fifteen-year-old Matt Wainwright is in turmoil. He can’t tell his lifelong best friend, Tabby, how he really feels about her; his promising basketball skills are being overshadowed by his attitude on the court, and the only place he feels normal is in English class, where he can express his inner thoughts in quirky poems and essays. Matt is desperately hoping that Tabby will reciprocate his feelings; but then Tabby starts dating Liam Branson, senior basketball star and all-around great guy. Losing Tabby to Branson is bad enough; but, as Matt soon discovers, he’s close to losing everything that matters most to him.

This review contains MAJOR spoilers under the cut, so if you want to read the book not knowing what happens, I suggest you bow out right about now.

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Where I’ve Been/ Announcement!

Hi everyone!

Long time, no blog post — but I’ve got a good reason!

I’ve been hard at work planning the Teen HQ at the Louisiana Book Festival, and boy do we have an amazing lineup of authors & panelists this year. On the MG & YA front, we have:

  • Lauren Allbright, author of Exit Strategy
  • Alys Arden, author of The Romeo Catchers
  • Alton Carter, author of Aging Out
  • Judy Christie, author of Wreath, in College
  • Neil Connelly, author of Into the Hurricane
  • Heather Demetrios, author of Bad Romance
  • Laurie Devore, author of How to Break a Boy
  • Michael Fry, author of How to be a Supervillain
  • Frye Gaillard, author of Go South to Freedom
  • Claudia Gray, author of Defy the Stars
  • Jesse Haynes, author of Special
  • S.F. Henson, author of Devils Within
  • Linda Williams Jackson, author of Midnight without a Moon
  • Brendan Kiely, author of The Last True Love Story
  • Laurent Linn, author of Draw the Line
  • Joanne O’Sullivan, author of Between Two Skies
  • Richard Peck, author of The Best Man
  • Caleb Roehrig, author of Last Seen Leaving
  • Michelle Schusterman, author of Olive and the Backstage Ghost
  • Corabel Shofner, author of Almost Paradise
  • Ronald L. Smith, author of The Mesmerist
  • Sarah Tolcser, author of Song of the Current
  • Jasmine Warga, author of Here We Are Now
  • Jeff Zentner, author of Goodbye Days

We’ll also have a podcasting panel featuring Kassiah Faul of the Swoony Boys Podcast, Jesse Haynes of the Mazie Meadows Morning Show, and Nicole Jorge of the Alexandria Archives, moderated by Katherine Downey of the Swoony Boys Podcast. Finally, we’ll have an #OwnVoices  panel featuring Laurent Linn, Caleb Roehrig, and Jasmine Warga, moderated by Brendan Kiely.

LBF Books

Just a few of the amazing books we’re featuring this year.

Join us on October 28th in downtown Baton Rouge! For more information and to check out the full schedule, go to http://www.louisianabookfestival.org.

LBF Wall

The “Wall of Awesome”. See how many MG & YA titles you can spot!

In other news, I’m very excited and pleased to announce that I’m starting a podcast on youth services in libraries with the amazingly awesome Nicole Jorge! We’ll be discussing programs and services for kids and teens, featuring tips and tricks on how to score various goodies such as ARCs and even author visits, as well as featuring the occasional author interview! The show won’t premiere until mid or late November, but we’ve already hard at work and will be announcing the title soon. If children & teen librarianship floats your boat, keep an eye on this blog for more information and also follow Nicole over at That Girl Jorge!

 

Till next time!

Interview – Jesse Haynes

Hello readers!

Today we’ll be bringing you an interview with Jesse Haynes, YA novelist and podcaster extraordinare.

The Spork Review: You got your creative start as a young adult author – how did you get into podcasting?

Jesse Haynes: Hmm… great question. A lots of little parts working together, I suppose. I’ve been listening to podcasts for a good while. Since 2011, I believe. That being said, I never actually considered creating one until my high school principal started one and I saw the potential that iTunes and free content offered.

TSR: You’re also a full-time college student – how do you find the time for everything? Your schedule must be very busy!

JH: It really is quite a busy schedule, but I try to pick classes that help me with my writing and podcasting, so occasionally I can kill two birds with one stone. For example, I actually made an “independent study” class with one of my professors last semester, and that is how we created The Others. It was actually worth 3 hours credit! Whoo!

TSR: Can you tell us a bit about your writing process?

JH: Definitely. I’m a very methodical writer. Too much so, I will be the first to admit. My mother and I were talking last week about how she doesn’t think I’m “flexible” enough. Whether I am writing books or podcasts, I like to create a very detailed outline with all the major plot elements before I ever write a word of the actually work. Many argue that isn’t creative, but I’ve never been one to just sit in front of a blank screen and begin typing out super creative stuff while aimlessly pecking away at a keyboard, y’know?

TSR: Where is your favorite place to write?

JH: I try to find silence. I used to write in a chair in the corner of my living room by choice, but I have gravitated to a quieter chair in a back room of my house now. That said, I have also typed in a high school basketball stadium before a game, on long car/bus rides, or even during a slow lecture. (Shhh, don’t tell.)

TSR: Your newest book, Special, releases in August. Can you tell us a little bit about it?

JH: Special is a book that I never thought I would write but I’m very glad I did. It’s a story about an unlikely friendship between a cheerleader and boy with Downs Syndrome, and it teaches about bullying and why we should respect others who are different from us. It’s a story that needed to be told, and I’m happy to be the one to tell it.

TSR: Who has been your favorite character to write so far?

JH: Oh goodness. I have two. For novels, my favorite character is Shafer McCartney. He’s a little bit of all of us—the good and the bad. The sassiness, the bravery, the love—everything that makes us human has gone into Shafer. His story is a long one that I recently finished telling (at least the first part), but the world has not met him yet though, so that’s all I will say for now.

For podcasting, my favorite character is Uncle Rick. He’s the stereotype of “that crazy guy who is nobody’s biological uncle, yet claimed by all.” Is that even a stereotype? Uncle Rick was the product of actually my friend Mitchell’s imagination at about 1:30 AM, and a 3 page short story has blossomed into a full-fledged character that slowly is building a fandom. (I’ve had a 12-year-old write a letter to Rick.) Mitchell says some of the wildest things, and many of Rick’s lines are actually things that have come out of Mitchell’s mouth, so there are a decent amount of inside jokes with that character, but everybody can laugh with and at him.

TSR: I hear that The Others has been a huge success – congratulations! What can we expect from season 2?

JH: The Others was 100 percent intended to be a standalone series of one season, but I had a company approach me about buying a second season. That being said, if a second season does turn up it will probably be in late 2018 or early ’19 and will explore the backstory of the island a little more thoroughly while offering an escape.

TSR: Which other podcasts would you recommend to listeners who are all caught up on Cryptid Creatures, The Others, and Mazie Meadows?

JH: Oh goodness. These are hard questions, ha! My personal favorite is the Thrilling Adventure Hour, which is no longer being produced. But there are about 250 episodes that follow four or five common storylines (my personal favorites are “Sparks Nevada” and “Beyond Belief”), and they are brilliantly written and performed. I started podcast listening with WTNV for a while but can only handle so much absurdity, and I have followed a few other shows for a while but eventually lost interest in most of them as well. I tend to favor the cleaner shows, and that’s hard to find—so I’m making them myself.

I like radio drama like the Alexandria Archives and King Falls, but I’m not even caught up on the latter because I eventually just got tired of the storyline. I will occasionally listen every now and then though, for sure. The production is great. I’m not sure how TAH has kept my attention for so many episodes.

TSR: What’s up next for you?

JH: I’m going to study carpentry.

Joking, of course. I have a new series of books I am writing—YA Action and Adventure—and I foresee a good amount of Mazie Meadows in the future. When I first created a podcast, a show like MMMS was my goal, but I didn’t think I could get there with my first attempt at podcasting. I knew nothing about it, so I took the unconventional route of both a historical series studying myths followed by a short audio-drama series to learn enough to pull off a fictional radio show.

TSR: What piece of advice would you give an aspiring writer?

JH: “Never stop chasing your dreams.” Then I would wince because I am super cliché. Maybe I would actually say something like “Don’t feel like you have to stick to the industry standards.” That just doesn’t sound as good when you’re talking to an eight-year-old.

Here’s the deal: none of my books have been traditionally published, but they are doing well enough to create a little word of mouth buzz, at least in this general geographical reason, and I’m very blessed for that. But I’ve learned that maybe the ideal way to make a living writing is to sign a million dollar contract and turn your work over to a publisher, but that is not the only way.

And this is sad, but I foresee a near future when fiction books are nearly obsolete. There just aren’t as many people willing to put down a tablet or phone and read, and most of the people that are willing to do so are older than me. That being said, no way do I feel bound to print and binding fiction now. I’m a story-teller more than a novelist, and through ads and downloads I think I might be able to support myself just as well with (free) podcasts than by selling books. Crazy how the digital world works.

But at the end of the day, if I’m telling stories and people have eyes (or ears) on them, then I’m happy. That’s what it’s all about—enjoying what you do. I’d tell the aspiring writer all of that and hope he/she is not in a big hurry.

Lightning round:

TSR: Do you have any hidden talents?

JH: I actually am not the super stereotypical sci-fi novelist, or at least I hope not. I was an all-state basketball player in HS along with winning several visual art awards (a Scholastic Gold Key, if that means anything to anybody). Oh, I also can eat a lot in one sitting. Like a lot.

TSR: What is something no one else knows about you?

JH: I have a mixed relationship with golf. I love it but it frustrates me to no end. Also, I have five cats and wear a size seventeen shoe. Only a few people know that.

TSR: What is one thing you never leave home without?

JH: Clothes.

But also my computer. I typically have my laptop on me, or at least in my car, at most times.

TSR: Favorite thing to do to relax?

JH: I loooooooooooooove hot tubs. Just don’t have one. Yet. That’s a future goal. I also really enjoy typing to relax—surprise!—and occasionally I will watch TV.

TSR: If you were stranded on an island with The Others, what 3 things would you like to have with you?

JH: Duct tape, sunscreen, and LeBron James.

You can do anything with the duct tape, I’m snow white and would die of sunburn in 3 minutes and 12 seconds without sunscreen, and it would be really great to meet LeBron. Plus, he could probably fight off the Others if need be. 

Thank you Jesse for that sporkeriffic interview! I must say that I’m thoroughly enjoying the MMMS. Looking forward to the new broadcast!

My Seventh-Grade Life in Tights by Brooks Benjamin – Book Review

​Buenos Dias from sunny Progreso, Mexico, folks!

As part of my amazing job, I get the pleasure and privilege of selecting middle grade & young adult books to be featured at the Louisiana Book Festival every year. This past January,  while researching recently published and upcoming books for the 2016 LBF, I ran across a book called My Seventh Grade Life in Tights by Brooks Benjamin. Intrigued by the description, I added it to my list of books to check out.

A wonderful, moving story about being true to yourself, My Seventh Grade Life in Tights is about a boy named Dillon who is part of a dance crew called the Dizzee Freeks.  Unlike his two friends in his crew who have been classically trained in dance, Dilion has had no formal training. His dance style is what’s known among his friends as ‘ninja freestyle’, featuring a series of kicks and punches. (I can’t help but imagine he looks a bit like he’s having a seizure when he dances.)  Dillon is desperate to learn how to ‘properly’ dance so he discovers an opportunity to earn a scholarship to a prestigious dance academy. There’s just one small hitch – dance studios are for sell-outs, at least, according to the rest of his crew.  

Through an ingenious plan (cause you know those always work), Dillon’s crew hatches a plan for Dillon to try out for the scholarship, win, then tell the studio to stick their scholarship where the sun doesn’t shine.

Well you know that’s going to go off without a hitch, right? 😉

Very well-written and perfectly paced, My Seventh Grade Life in Tights  is an encouraging story about ‘finding the moves that fit’.  With a diverse set of characters (yay for diversity!), all with their own struggles and issues, this book will dance its way into the hearts of both kids and adults alike.

Final rating: 5 Sporks

PS: Stay tuned for another author interview!