Sunday, February 28, 2010

Interview: CJ Omololu, author of Dirty Little Secrets

Today I have Cynthia (or CJ) Omololu here to talk about her newest novel, Dirty Little Secrets (out now). And I also attempt to learn her dirty little secrets, but fail ;)

1. What's your new novel Dirty Little Secrets about?
Dirty Little Secrets is about Lucy, a sixteen-year-old girl who comes home one morning to find her mother dead under a stack of National Geographics in their hoarded home. As she starts to dial 911, she looks around at the piles of garbage that scrape the ceiling. She doesn't notice the mountains of junk or the rotting smell anymore, but the fireman will. And after that will come the news cameras. No longer will they be the nice oncology nurse with the lovely children, but that freaky garbage family on Collier Avenue. Having spent her life keeping people out of their garbage-filled home, Lucy finally has a normal life - and maybe even a boyfriend - within reach, and she realizes that all of that will come crashing down around her as soon as the world learns the truth.

With no way to save her mother and no one to help her, Lucy has to decide - how far will she go to keep the family secrets safe?

2. Where did the inspiration to write this novel come from?
I got the idea from a magazine article that was written by the adult child of a hoarder. She talked about growing up with no friends and having to hide how they lived from everyone. I started to wonder what it would be like to grow up in a hoarded home and the idea just took off from there. It did take awhile to find the right voice and format for the book.

3. What was the hardest part to write in Dirty Little Secrets? Was it difficult to know what it's like living in a hoarded home when you did not grow up in in?
The hardest part for me to write was the ending. I originally went in a completely different direction, but I had some fantastic help from some people who grew up in a situation like Lucy's and they very strongly suggested the ending we ultimately used. After I finished it in one mammoth writing session, I realized that no matter how difficult or controversial, it was really the only possible way for Lucy's story to end.

It's true, I didn't grow up in a hoarded home, but I have known several hoarders over my lifetime so it wasn't very difficult to put myself into Lucy's situation. I also had help from several people associated with teh website Children of Hoarders who were amazing. They shared their experiences and read bits and pieces of the book - and weren't afraid to tell me when I got details wrong. There has been a lot of coverage of hoarding in the media lately - A&E has an entire series called Hoarders, so I think that people are more familiar with the disorder now than when I wrote the book a little over a year ago.

4. Do you have any dirty little secrets?
Of course - doesn't everyone?

5. What's next for you?
I love writing YA and I have several possible "next books" up my sleeve. I'm currently revising another manuscript that I love with a race as a central theme, so we'll see if that one finds a good home.

6. Is there anything else you'd like to add?
One thing I'd like people to take away from Lucy's story is that no matter how lonely you feel, you are never truly alone. You may think that nobody understands what you are going through, but the amazing thing is that once you open up and start talking about it, you find that so many other people have had similar experiences. Once I started talking about hoarding, it seemed like everyone had a friend or relative who suffered from the disorder and had a story to tell. I hope that DLS can get a few people talking about their situations and allow them to reach out for help if they need it.

Thank you for the fabulous interview, Cynthia!

Review will be posted tomorrow, but I have to say, Dirty Little Secrets was awesome!


Saturday, February 27, 2010

In My Mailbox 20

IMM is hosted weekly by The Story Siren.

For Review:

White Tiger by Kylie Chan (arc)

Won from Jillian Cantor:

The Life of Glass by Jillian Cantor (signed to me!)

That's it! Hope everyone had an amazing week, and an equally fantastic weekend!



The contest winner for a copy of My Ridiculous, Romantic Obsessions by Becca Wilhite is....

Congrats Christina! You have 48 hours to email me back with your mailing address or a new winner will be chosen.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Affiliate News (2)

I now have a third affiliate, and they are none other than the amazing trio that runs Teens Read and Write. I'm so thrilled to call Alyssa, Jake and Gregory my affiliates, I adore their blog!

In case you didn't know, they're having a MegaBook Giveaway - The Sequel, so click the link to start participating!

Jenn's got a great discussion going about Why Are There Bad Covers over at Books At Midnight!

And Melissa from I Swim For Oceans has a Friday Fix interview with herself! It is very entertaining :)

That's it, so I hope everyone had a great week, and you all have a fantastic weekend!


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Contest Reminder!!

Just a reminder that the contest for a copy of My Ridiculous, Romantic Obsessions by Becca Wilhite ends tomorrow (February 25th) at Midnight!!!

Enter here!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Waiting On Wednesday (10)

WOW is presented by Jill of Breaking The Spine.

Release date: May 11, 2010
Summary & picture from Goodreads:

The Red Umbrella is the moving tale of a 14-year-old girl's journey from Cuba to America as part of Operation Pedro Pan--an organized exodus of more than 14,000 unaccompanied children, whose parents sent them away to escape Fidel Castro's revolution.

In 1961, two years after the Communist revolution, Lucia Alvarez still leads a carefree life, dreaming of parties and her first crush. But when the soldiers come to her sleepy Cuban town, everything begins to change. Freedoms are stripped away. Neighbors disappear. Her friends feel like strangers. And her family is being watched.

As the revolution's impact becomes more oppressive, Lucia's parents make the heart-wrenching decision to send her and her little brother to the United States--on their own.

Suddenly plunked down in Nebraska with well-meaning strangers, Lucia struggles to adapt to a new country, a new language, a new way of life. But what of her old life? Will she ever see her home or her parents again? And if she does, will she still be the same girl?

The Red Umbrella is a moving story of country, culture, family, and the true meaning of home.

Something about this book just really draws me in, and the plot definitely sounds like it's going to be amazing. :)


Monday, February 22, 2010

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver Review

March 2nd, 2010
480 pages
Source - Publicist/Purchased
Summary(from goodreads):
What if you had only one day to live? What would you do? Who would you kiss? And how far would you go to save your own life?

Samantha Kingston has it all -- looks, popularity, the perfect boyfriend. Friday, February 12th should be just another day in her charmed life. Instead, it's her last. The catch: Samantha still wakes up the next morning. In fact, she re-lives the last day of her life seven times, until she realizes that by making even the slightest changes, she may hold more power than she had ever imagined.
Before I Fall is a stunning debut, and I'm excited to see Oliver's work in the future.

To put it simply, Sam is not a nice girl. She's mean, and follows her friends' examples, no matter how immoral it is. At the beginning, I was rolling my eyes, because I've seen her type before. Yet, somehow, I ended up liking her. At times, I even related to her. By halfway (maybe even earlier), I was rooting for her. Sam's character development is amazing, and it surprised me how quickly I began to enjoy her narrative.

The story is amazing. At first, I was worried that Oliver wouldn't be able to make each day fresh, new, but she managed it expertly. I could hardly bring myself to put the novel down. Everyday, Sam wakes up and it's still February 12th. But each day she tries to do something different in hopes of saving her life, and maybe another. With each new shocking secret Sam learns, I couldn't help but to keep reading. I laughed so many times, I was shocked, surprised, happy, sad, and angry. Before I Fall takes you on an emotional ride, and it's one I'll never forget.

Highlights: This novel made me think about myself, and my actions. Whether we think about it or not, we affect one another, perhaps more than we realize. This novel scared me, because it was so honest, and so true. Oliver's writing was also excellent, and it seemed up to par with some of my favorite YA authors. And what about that ending...spectacular. Before I Fall is definitely one of my top favorite novels now. I know I'll be happily rushing off to the bookstore, because I want a hard copy to read over and over again. This one is a definite must-read.

Lowlights: Nothing comes to mind, and I've been thinking about this novel for quite some time.



Sunday, February 21, 2010

Interview: Lauren Oliver -- Before I Fall

Today I've got the fabulous Lauren Oliver here to answer some questions. She is author of the incredible debut novel, Before I Fall (which comes out March 2nd!).

1. Tell us a little (okay, a lot) about your debut novel, Before I Fall?
The premise of 
Before I Fall is fairly simple. Samantha Kingston, the main character, seemingly has the world at her fingertips: she is pretty, popular, and she is dating one of the hottest guys in school. In other words, she has the world at her fingertips. But in the very first chapter (the prologue, actually), Samantha is in a fatal car accident. But Sam continues to wake up and relive the day of her death over and over, and the book follows her attempts both to figure out why she is caught in a continual time loop, and to try and save her own life. On a deeper level, it is about a girl who is given the chance to reevaluate her choices, actions, and desires in the context of her death. In that way it's kind of like a YA modern version of It's A Wonderful Life, I guess.

2. What is your protagonist Samantha like?
There's just no other way to say it: at the beginning of the book, she's a b%$ch. She is self-involved; she is petty; she is casually cruel; she doesn't take responsibility for the things she does. One of my biggest concerns when I was writing was that people would be so turned off by her character (and her character's lack of character) at the start of the book that they would be unmotivated to continue reading. At the same time, she needed to have a place to grow from. The real heart of the novel is Sam's development as a person, and her reconnection to things that matter. So she definitely transforms hugely from the first chapter to the last. In other ways, I think Sam is a very typical high school girl. She conceals insecurity behind a veneer of indifference; she is ambivalent about sex and whether or not to have it; she craves love but isn't quite sure she knows how to identify it; her friends mean everything to her and her parents annoy her a lot. She wants the freedom of growing up but not necessarily the problems or realities attached to it.

3. Where did the inspiration come from to write this novel?
To be honest, a lot of my book ideas kind of "come to me" when a character just pipes up and starts speaking in my head. (This just provides further evidence for E.L. Doctorow's claim that writing is a "socially accepted form of schizophrenia.") I began hearing Sam narrate her story to me, and I couldn't get her voice out of my head -- so I decided to write it down.
But the book deals with a lot of themes that have always interested me. For example, for years I've tried to imagine what a perfect day and a perfect moment would look like; I also have a habit of kind of obsessively re-imagining the best moments of my life, particularly when I'm stressed out or unhappy. It's a way of thinking myself back to good places, I guess. Sam deals with similar questions in the book.

Additionally, right before brainstorming Before I Fall I recently ran into, and befriended, someone I'd gone to school with for about a decade earlier in my life. He turned out to be the exact opposite of the person I'd always assumed he was when we were in school together, and it occurred to me how strange it is that you can go through elementary school, middle school, and high school with someone, and assume you "know" them because you know their type, and you've heard stories about them, and just be completely wrong. That's also something Sam discovers in the book. So I kind of pulled from a variety of places for inspiration.

4. What were your favorite parts to write?
Oof. That's a really tough question. Of course it's always thrilling to begin a book, when it's all about possibilities and you haven't actually spoiled anything by making concrete choices! And it's an incredible, wonderful feeling to be able to bring a book to a conclusion; it's such a tremendous relief, in a way, but also this huge anticlimax. Often after I finish a book I'll be in a daze for a day or two.

I can definitely say what my least favorite part of the book was to write: the first half of Day Four (when Sam relives her last day the fourth time) was pretty difficult. By that point Sam is angry and miserable and desperate and essentially at her rock bottom, and she makes a lot of bad and reckless choices as a result. So that was hard, because I really did care about her by then, and I kind of had to keep her in this space where she was so lost and unhappy. At the same time, that's the turning point for her in the novel, the moment when she begins to realize that she might be able to find a different way. So I knew I just had to push through those pages and things would get better!

5. How does it feel to be a debut novelist? Are you working on anything new at the moment (or planning to)?
How does it feel? Um...awesome! I mean, it's such a cliche to say, but there really is no better feeling than getting paid to do what you love, and being able to build my days freely around the activity that gives my life meaning and depth is just an incredible blessing. I will say that I'm continually surprised by how happy and grateful I feel. I keep waiting for it all to blow up in my face. Maybe that's my cynical New York side!

And yes, I am currently revising my second book, which will be coming out with Harper in March 2011. I can't say too much about it because we're trying to keep it hush-hush for a while, but I will say it's kind of a Romeo-and-Juliet story with a dystopian twist. Basically it takes place in a world in which love has been diagnosed as a virulent, contagious disease. At eighteen, everyone is forced to undergo a cure that will rid them forever of love (and, by association, most passionate feelings).

6. Anything else you'd like to share?
I think that's all I got! Oh...well, that and the fact that I'm making my first baby steps into the big bad world of the blogosphere and people should come visit me there ( And also, if anyone is looking for ways to avoid working/doing homework (not that I endorse procrastination...too much), check out my shiny, shiny website:

Thank you so much for the interview Lauren! I'm so incredibly excited for Before I Fall's release (and the novel you're working on right now has me intrigued)!


Saturday, February 20, 2010


I just wanted to announce that I have two affiliates now! You can also see their buttons in my left sidebar under My Awesome Affiliates.

First one is Jenn from Books At Midnight. Today is her Saturday Network feature, so run on over to participate! Also enter her contests for A Match Made in High School Swag Pack and her other contest for a copy of Light Beneath Ferns!

My second affiliate is the lovely Melissa from
I Swim For Oceans. She has a Birthday Bash Contest that's ending on the 23rd, so go enter now! Also check out her fun interview with Robby (Once Upon a Book Blog) here!

I'm so proud to call both of these fabulous bloggers my affiliates, especially because I love and enjoy both of their blogs! Every Friday from now on, I'll be posting affiliate-related news (contests, interesting posts, et cetera).

Anyone else interested in being affiliates? Send me an email!


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Bleeding Violet by Dia Reeves Review

Book: Bleeding Violet 
Author: Dia Reeves
Age: Young Adult (I would recommend 14+)
Pages: 464
Love can be a dangerous thing....

Hanna simply wants to be loved. With a head plagued by hallucinations, a medicine cabinet full of pills, and a closet stuffed with frilly, violet dresses, Hanna's tired of being the outcast, the weird girl, the freak. So she runs away to Portero, Texas in search of a new home.

But Portero is a stranger town than Hanna expects. As she tries to make a place for herself, she discovers dark secrets that would terrify any normal soul. Good thing for Hanna, she's far from normal. As this crazy girl meets an even crazier town, only two things are certain: Anything can happen and no one is safe.
Review: Bleeding Violet was intense, unique, and completely crazy (in the best way possible).

The tagline Crazy never looked so beautiful is definitely right. I've never read a novel quite like Bleeding Violet, and now I want more. Initially, I was afraid I wouldn't be able to connect with Hanna, because let's face it, she's got a few loose screws in her head. Yet, I found her to be a very enjoyable narrator, one who's tough and not afraid to take risks. She's crazy, but she's also sweet at times, and all she really wants is her mother to love her back.

The plot goes from normal, to weird, to insane, to WTF, to completely shocking and surprising. Be prepared for some serious description every now and then about blood, killing, sex (which is done tastefully). Reeves kept me guessing and completely absorbed in the story.

Highlights: The characters in this novel were amazing, as well as the description. I also really enjoyed how imperfect the relationships all were. Each character really seemed to be their own person, and truly unique. I loved how Reeves really took a chance with doing something crazy and something different when it comes to Bleeding Violet.

Lowlights: There were a few moments where I was going "Wait, I don't understand", so I had to back it up a few paragraphs to reread again. Other than that, it was awesome.



Waiting On Wednesday (9)

WOW is hosted by Jill of Breaking the Spine

Novel: Before I Fall
Release Date: March 2nd, 2010
Summary (From Goodreads):

What is you had only one day to live? What would you do? Who would you kiss? And how far would you go to save your own life?

Samantha Kingston has it all -- looks, popularity, the perfect boyfriend. Friday, February 12th should be just another day in her charmed life. Instead, it's her last. The catch: Samantha still wakes up the next morning. In fact, she re-lives the last day of her life seven times, until she realizes that by making even the slightest changes, she may hold more power than she had ever imagined.

I was lucky enough to get a review copy, and let me just say, whoa. Expect a review next week, when I've had more time to pull my thoughts together (but I can honestly say, this is a must read--I'm definitely buying a copy as quickly as possible after the release date!).


Monday, February 15, 2010

Forget-Her-Nots by Amy Brecount White Review

Book: Forget-Her-Nots
Author: Amy Brecount White
Age: 12 & up

Release Date: March 2nd, 2010
Pages: 384
Source: borrowed from Zoe
When someone leaves three mystery flowers outside her dorm door, Laurel thinks that maybe the Avondale School isn't so awful after all - until her own body starts to freak out. In the middle of her English presentation on the Victorian Language of Flowers, strange words pop into her head, and her body seems to tingle and hum. Impulsively, Laurel gives the love bouquet she made to demonstrate the language to her spinster English teacher. When that teacher unexpectedly and immediately finds romance, Laurel suspects that something - something magical - is up. With her new friend, Kate, she sets out to discover the origins and breadth of her powers by experimenting on herself and others. But she can't seem to find any living experts in the field of flower powers to guide her. And her bouquets don't always do her bidding, especially when it comes to her own crush, Justin. Rumors about Laurel and her flowers fly across campus, and she's soon besieged by requests from girls - both friends and enemies - who want their lives magically transformed - just in time for prom. 

Review: Forget-Her-Nots is a fresh and fun debut novel. 

At the beginning of the novel, I didn't quite know what to expect. As soon as Laurel began her Language of Flowers presentation for one of her classes, however, my curiosity took hold of me and the pages kept turning. The characters in this story were lively, and fun. Rose, Laurel's cousin, was my favorite because she was just so honest and kind. Laurel came across as sweet, while she did have her moments of being not-so-nice (which I thought really added to her being realistic). Her pain over her mother's death is very real, and heartbreaking. Same with her distant feelings towards her father. 

Once Laurel's gift spreads around the campus, more and more girls want their own flowers to work some magic in their lives. Laurel being Laurel, she wants to help out everyone and learn more about her gift at the same time. It was amusing to see all of the great moments Laurel had with her gift, as well as the ones gone awry. The story is completely cute, and it's very easy to relate to Laurel. This is one of those novels that is easy to enjoy, and it just makes you grin like a fool.

Highlights: I loved the author's use of the flower language, and just her overall creativity. I learned so much about the Victorian Language of Flowers, and I enjoyed learning all of the different meanings flowers hold (and the glossary in the back helped when I forgot). I also really loved the description of the flowers and their scents.

Lowlights: There were some blah moments where I wanted the pace to pick up a bit, and times where I just wanted to shake some sense into Laurel. But overall, it was an entirely adorable debut.