Giveaway winner…

I have randomly selected a winner for my 5 Year Blog-iversary Giveaway, and that lucky person is…

*** Alexa Kirk ***

Congratulations, Alexa! Your package is headed to the post office today. :-)

Lots of love to all who entered and helped spread the word about this giveaway, and thanks so much for reading! <3

Currently…

(I plan to do a “Currently” post every other Tuesday, and I think y’all should join me… Find the origins of the idea HERE.)

Currently

Loving

This (incredibly easy) Chocolate Cake recipe. My favorite (free!) yoga videos: Yoga With Adriene. Washi tape — I am officially obsessed. Pura Vida bracelets. This fantastic “beYOUtiful raglan t-shirt,” of which 1/4 of the price is donated to First Descents, providing free adventure experiences for cancer fighters and survivors. And a recent Pub(lishing) Crawl post by Erin Bowman, all about how to support authors before, during, and after release day.

Reading

Jessica Park’s Flat-Out Love (NA at its most adorable), and Laura Ruby’s Bone Gap (one of the weirdest, most beautifully written books I’ve read in a long time). These two stories couldn’t be more different, but I loved them both, particularly Bone Gap — pure magic. Now, I’ve started All the Rage by one of my favorite authors, Courtney Summers. More about this recent release soon!

   

Watching

Guys, I finished Gossip Girl! I thought the series finale was quite satisfying — though I wanted more Chuck and Blair (always). I’ve just finished watching the first season of The CW’s The 100 which, as promised by many, has drastically improved since its fist few episodes. It definitely has its cheese-tastic moments, but it also has enough twists and romance to hold my attention. So far, so good. Hurry up and make season 2 available, Netflix!

Listening To

Echosmith‘s Bright, which is so damn cute. It’s the perfect theme song for my WiP, Stars Like Dust, too.

Thinking About

My Shiny New Idea! It’s in its very earliest brainstorming stages, but I’m *really* excited about it. I was at the dentist a few weeks ago and during my cleaning, two songs from the same movie soundtrack played — one of my favorite movies. I was suddenly super inspired, and I’ve been stewing over plot-ish things ever since. I’ve named my main characters, and I’ve made a mood board that’s now my computer’s desktop –> progress!

Anticipating

I can’t wait to randomly select the winner of my 5 Year Blog-iversary Giveaway! I’ve got YA books, notecards, a travel mug and Jelly Bellies up for grabs. If you haven’t already, enter HERE. The giveaway closes this Thursday, April 23rd at midnight, and is open internationally. Good luck!

Wishing

That the people who picked up the novels my daughter and I left around our community during last week’s Rock the Drop will love the stories they scored!

Making Me Happy

My family, always. <3

What’s currently making YOU happy?

5 Years & Counting

{BLOG-IVERSARY GIVEAWAY!}

Today, my little blog turns five. When I started blogging, I’d just finished drafting my first manuscript (it was awful), and my daughter was still napping twice a day (giving me plenty of time to figure out how Wordpress works). Over the years, I’ve posted about writing and books and life, and I’ve met dozens of wonderful people who’ve showered me with support and friendship.

I appreciate you all so much, and to demonstrate my gratitude, I’ve assembled a prize package to send to one lucky reader!

This giveaway is open internationally, and will close on Thursday, April 23rd, at midnight EST. The winner will be selected randomly. He or she will be notified Friday, April 24th.

Here’s what’s up for grabs…

Giveaway

Novels by a few of my favorite authors (Jandy Nelson’s I’ll Give You the Sun, Gayle Forman’s If I Stay, Morgan Matson’s Since You’ve Been Gone), plus a Tervis travel mug, a bookmark and book-ish pin, a poppy notepad and package of thank-you cards, and Jelly Bellies — yum!

How To Gain Giveaway Entries

1. One easy automatic entry for all who comment on this post.

2. Follow me on Twitter for an additional entry. (Please note that you’ve followed or are already following in your comment.)

3. Tweet about the giveaway for an additional entry. (Please include a link back to this post and mention of me [@katyupperman] in your tweet. Don’t forget to note that you’ve done so in your comment on this post!)

4. Share about this giveaway via any other form of social media — Facebook, Pinterest, Tumblr, Instagram, or your personal blog. (Please mention where you’ve shared in your comment, including appropriate links. Earn one additional entry for each and every share.)

There you have it!
Thank you for reading.
Thank you for commenting.
Thank you for being generally awesome.
And good luck!

#RockTheDrop

I participated in Rock the Drop, a celebration of Support Teen Literature Day sponsored by ReaderGirlz, in 2012, 2013, and 2014. It’s been so much fun in the past, I couldn’t wait to drop books around my community this year, too.

This time around, I chose first books in dystopian and/or fantastical series — Strands of Bronze and Gold, Starters, Red Queen, and Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea. My little book elf and I dropped them at eateries around our town, and consumed a lot of calories in the process. :-) Hopefully the teens who picked these stories up will love them, and won’t be able to resist tracking down subsequent novels in these series.

Did you #RockTheDrop? 

Currently…

(Since I’m not What’s-Up-Wednesday-ing anymore, I thought I might go back to an old favorite –> “Currently…” I originally got the idea from Kate Hart, who snagged the idea from Amy Lukavics, who picked it up here. I’m planning to post every other Tuesday, and I think y’all should join me!)

Loving

Jelly Bellies (duh). Quilting. Florida’s warm, sunny spring. My planner. Emails with writing buddies and book besties. This milk frothing gadget. Sirious XM Radio. Uppercase book subscriptions. My emerging tan. This homemade mac-n-cheese recipe. Those times a person contacts me to let me know they’ve just read a book they think I’ll love. Chai tea. Essie’s spring colors. Fresh donuts.

Reading

Yesterday I finished recently-released Vanishing Girls, and I liked it quite a lot. I consider Lauren Oliver an insta-buy author and, as usual, her prose is enviable. I figured out what was going on in the story fairly early on (I’ve read a few other books in the last couple of years that have a comparable premise), so I wasn’t exactly surprised by the last 100 pages. That said, I recommend this one for its gorgeous writing and super complex characters.

Watching

Gossip Girl. Still. It literally takes me three days to get through an episode because I pretty much only watch while I’m folding laundry, or on the rare occasions I put on makeup. I’m nearing the end of season 5, though, and it’s the best sort of bizarre. **Spoiler Alert** –> Dan and Blair together? No way! Chuck ♡ Blair forever!

Listening To

The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill — totally random, I know. I bought the CD my senior year of high school and listened to it constantly for months. I’ve just now rediscovered it, and I’m falling in love all over again. (Favorite: Tell Him)

Thinking About

Our summer move, and hoping it will be easy, easy, easy. House-hunting from afar sucks. Packing sucks. Leaving a state you love sucks. Moving sucks. BUT. I am incredibly excited to live near some of my favorite writerly friends, and in a place with a thriving YA community. Plus, it’ll be nice to be in a city with plenty of educational and culturally diverse things to do and see.

Anticipating

Notes from my agent regarding my latest manuscript, Stars Like Dust. This project was such a stretch, guys. Writing it was a challenge and a joy and I love the (sort of) finished product deeply, but I’m nervous about what others will think. Some days this story makes me feel excited and confident; some days it makes me feel insecure, like a complete hack. Aah, writerly angst… Something else I’m anticipating? Rock the Drop!

Wishing

That I’d made Daphne a quilt earlier! She loves hers, and we had a blast putting it together. My daughter picked out all the fabrics, and I did the sewing. Now that it’s done, I’m checking off another of my Thirty Before 35 goals — yay!

Making Me Happy

Beach days with my favorite girl. There are few things better than sitting back, sinking my toes in the sand, and watching my kiddo play in the surf.

 

What’s currently making YOU happy?

March Reading Wrap-Up

I only read books with blue covers in March. ;-)
As always, cover images link to Goodreads pages.

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins – This is a story about unlikeable people who find themselves in some incredibly unlucky situations, then proceed to do idiotic/drunken/terrible things to one another. There’s not a lot of light or hope in The Girl on the Train, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t an engrossing story. It’s a mystery told from the perspective of multiple female narrators who are bizarrely linked and lack major reliability points (alcoholic, liar, adulteress). The men of this novel, too, are shady characters. I wasn’t sure who I was supposed to root for and who I was supposed to hate — even at the story’s conclusion, my feelings regarding Rachel, Anna, and Scott were particularly muddled, though that didn’t make me less fond of this novel as a whole. All in all, The Girl on the Train is a twisty, smartly plotted adult debut, one I had trouble putting down.

The Distance Between Lost and Found by Kathryn Holmes – Another strong debut, this a contemporary YA. MC Hallelujah (Hallie, Hal) has had a rough several months thanks to this ass, Luke, who’s been harassing her for reasons we don’t discover until midway through the novel. Through a serious of unfortunate choices at a youth retreat, Hallie finds herself lost in the woods with her estranged friend, Jonah, and new girl, Rachel. The Distance Between Lost and Found is a captivating survival story. These kids are legitimately lost and suffering terribly; they’re injured, starving, freezing, and fighting off wild animals — it sort of reminded me of Hatchet at times. It’s also a tale about Hallelujah reclaiming her voice and autonomy after the Luke “incident.” It’s a joy to watch Hallie change and grow and toughen up. Her newly formed friendship with Rachel is authentic and fun (despite their whole lost-in-the-woods situation), and her slow-build romance with Jonah is adorable and kind of perfect. I’m very much looking forward to Kathryn Holmes’ future books.

The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski – I could rave about this novel for days. I’m a self-professed Contemporary Girl, but I love this fantasy series SO MUCH. I recently read a review that commented on how (and I’m paraphrasing) this follow-up book is packed with tension even though the plot itself is rather slow. And yes — exactly. I mean, things definitely happen in this second installment of The Winner’s Trilogy, but Marie Rutkoski takes plenty of time to build a rich, compelling world, plus tons of suspense. Arin and Kestrel are some of my favorite YA characters. They’re incredibly smart and courageous. They make difficult decisions with selflessness and poise. They make sacrifices for love. And, they have aMaZiNg chemistry — even when they’re hating on each other. The Winner’s Crime includes some new and compelling characters, and it’s full of twists and surprises. My only complaint? Its brutal cliffhanger ending. I need The Winner’s Kiss, like, yesterday!


Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard – Read my thoughts on this debut HERE, in yesterday’s YA Book Club post.


Drowning Instinct by Isla J. Bick – This story’s voice took some getting used to. Its tone is very conversational, and there are times when protagonist, Jenna, slips into 2nd person narration because she’s telling her tale to a police officer (readers don’t find out why she’s talking to this officer until the story’s climax). Once I read a few chapters, though, I was hooked. Poor Jenna. She basically has the worst luck ever; everyone she meets seems to be out to break her. Even her apparently altruistic chemistry teacher, Mr. Anderson, crosses some decidedly fixed barriers. While he was entirely inappropriate, I’m still on the fence about whether he’s truly a “bad guy.” Honestly, there are no real heroes or villains in Drowning Instinct. It’s hard to find any one character to root for because they’re all layered and flawed and just… sad. And for me, that’s this novel’s greatest strength — its characters, and its unflinching delivery. If you’re a fan of dark contemporary written in shades of gray, check this book out.

What’s the best book you read in March?

YA Book Club :: RED QUEEN


{YA Book Club is headed up by writer/blogger Tracey Neithercott.
For guidelines and additional info, click the image above.}

This month’s YA Book Club selection is
Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

From Goodreads ~ The poverty stricken Reds are commoners, living under the rule of the Silvers, elite warriors with god-like powers. To Mare Barrow, a 17-year-old Red girl from The Stilts, it looks like nothing will ever change. Mare finds herself working in the Silver Palace, at the centre of those she hates the most. She quickly discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy Silver control. But power is a dangerous game. And in this world divided by blood, who will win?

This was a tough one for me, friends. Red Queen is a good book. It’s skillfully-written, well-paced, and full of interesting characters. It’s set in a world that felt fresh (though, after finishing, I saw it compared to The Selection and Red Rising, neither of which I’ve read), and there were plenty of twists I didn’t see coming.

Like I said, Red Queen is a good book.

I suspect I might be in the minority here, but… It’s not a Katy Book.

I can’t even pinpoint what my issue with it is, other than the fact that it simply did not make me feel anything. The characters are engaging enough, but I didn’t empathize with them and (forgive me) I didn’t care much about what happened to them. For me, there’s too much going on in Red Queen. The social tiers, the Silvers (with literal silver blood) and Reds (who’ve got red blood, obvs), the X-Men-like magical powers, the war-torn dystopian setting, the oddly set-up romantic entanglements, the family strife, the resistance… It was a lot for me to take in, and a lot to attempt to latch onto.

When I bought this book, I took my cue from its cover and its title. I was expecting fantasy, but what I got was rather jumbled dystopian/fantasy fusion. Admittedly, I’m sort of over dystopian, and when it comes to fantasy, I like my stories dark and gritty and super intense. Think The Winner’s Curse and Graceling and Finnikin of the Rock. I like touches of magic, and I like an organic, slow-burn romance. I prefer MCs who are not Chosen Ones. Red Queen’s MC, Mare, is definitely a Chosen One (though, I’ve gotta say, she handled the crazy turn of events with grace). Additionally, her story (particularly the romantic aspects) was just too light for me. Mare’s voice can be humorous, sarcastic at times, which is probably a good thing for other readers — she truly is amusing in certain scenes — but the overall tone of the story was not my taste.

I can certainly see Red Queen‘s merits, and I understand why it’s garnered the buzz it has. I’ve decided to drop my gently-read copy during next month’s Rock the Drop because I’d love to see it find its way into the hands of a teen reader who might fall in love with its positive qualities.

What did you think of this month’s YA Book Club selection?

(Book Clubbers: Don’t forget to drop by Tracey’s blog to add your link!)