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Book Review: Fire and Flood by Victoria Scott

Tella and her family have moved to the middle of nowhere because of her sick brother.  Tella is bored, and sometimes resentful, but then she remembers why they are there and she manages to keep it in perspective.  One day, a blue box arrives with very obscure instructions.  She sees her father try to destroy it but it appears indestructible. There is a secret in that box . . .

Tella has been invited to participate in a race known as The Brimstone Bleed.  One winner will win a cure to any disease.  So of course Tella signs up, she loves her brother and who could resist an opportunity to save someone you love?  The race takes place over 4 terrains, with the first two being covered in Fire and Flood.  Their is thrilling action, character growth, a little bit of romance, deception and backstabbing, peril and death, and so much more.  It’s a little bit of Hunger Games with some His Dark Materials thrown in as each contestant is paired with a genetic enhanced Pandora that has special powers that may help them during the course of the race.

Tella is an interesting main character.  She is girly (she sometimes really laments the inability to get a nice manicure in the midst of the race) and yet strong and formidable when she needs to be, well mostly.  In fact, Tella is a very realistic depiction of an ordinary girl plucked from her every day life and thrown into a life or death race:  sometimes she whines, sometimes she is overwhelmed, but ultimately she keeps pressing on and rises to the occasion because what choice does she have. This, for me, was one of the best parts of the entire thing: Tella.  In her complexity and contradictions she is real, relatable, and you can’t help but root for her.

F&F is also really cool because although there is a guy – whose name is conveniently Guy – and they do have an attraction to one another, even Tella periodically questions whether or not the attraction is because of the dire circumstances they find themselves in or if they would still be attracted in their real life.  And this is not the driving force of the narrative, but an additional element.  In fact, Tella forms an alliance with several members of the race who are pretty fully fleshed out and they all have meaningful interactions and back story.  Plus, there are the Pandoras, which are pretty cool.

One of the elements that initially bothered me about F&F was the fact that Guy seemed too good at the race, which was very convenient and sometimes took me out of the story, but eventually there is a good discussion about that which reveals important things and everything is golden.

The bad guys are epically bad, there is an interesting reveal about the race itself, and the action is intense and engaging.  There are some uniquely new approaches to some familiar themes in current ya, the main character is uniquely realistic and relatable, and the action is nonstop – readers will be very engaged and satisfied, chomping at the bit for the next book. Highly recommended, I seriously enjoyed this book.

Coming February 25th from Scholastic.  ISBN: 9780545537469
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

10 Titles to Look for in 2014 – Karen’s Most Coveted

Fire and Flood by Victoria Scott

Victoria Scott is awesomesauce.  The real deal.  She totally floored me with her turn around in The Collector, which I thought I was going to hate because at first it seems shallow and superficial and bad female messaging, but then she pulled a 180 with her sexy, snarky demon and proved that she had mad skillz.  Fire and Flood is an epic race for a cure to save a beloved brother: “A modern day thrill ride, where a teen girl and her animal companion must participate in a breathtaking race to save her brother’s life—and her own.”


 

Plus One by Elizabeth Fama

I feel like all I really need to say is PLAGUE and those of you who know me will understand why this is on my list.  I don’t know what is wrong with me, I really don’t but I love a good epidemic book.  Also, this is set during the 1918 flu pandemic so it allows me a chance to read about an epidemic AND try to fulfill my personal quest to read more historical fiction. Boom. Okay, technically it is alternate history with a dystopian sounding twist, but I’m going to go with it.  It should make an interesting companion study to read A Death Struck Year, also about the flu epidemic of 1918, and compare.

 

Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Delaria

Laurel writes letters to the dead, like Kurt Cobain and Janis Joplin, as she explores what happened to her and her sister May in a journal of speaking the truth and trying to heal.  Intriguing cover and title. Check.  Epistolary novel. Check. Looks like something teens will be drawn to. Check.  It goes on my TBR pile.

 

The Murder Complex by Lindsey Cummings

I feel like all I need to share is this brief description: “An action-packed, blood-soaked, futuristic debut thriller set in a world where the murder rate is higher than the birthrate. For fans of Moira Young’s Dust Lands series, La Femme Nikita, and the movie Hanna.”  I’m not a huge fan of this cover which seems a little “muddy” to me, but the concept is killer (see what I just did there) and I have been waiting for this one for a while.

 

Noggin by John Corey Whaley

Technically, I have already read this book.  BUT IT WAS SO GOOD. So very, very good. It was such a rich emotional portrait of a fish out of water.  Travis Coates was dying, so he had his head removed and preserved until now, where it has been attached to a new body.  It’s been 5 years since he was frozen, waiting for science to catch up, and the world went on without him.  Which is kind of a problem because to him, it’s like he just went to bed for the night and woke up the next day.  So he’s still a teenager while his girlfriend (wait, is she still his girlfriend?) and his best friend are now adults.  Such a great tone and writing style, an interesting way to explore traditional ya lit themes like finding yourself, and just really amazing.  Highly recommended.

Panic by Lauren Oliver

Um, so, yeah – I already read this one too.  It was actually probably one of my favorite books I read in 2013.  In small towns, you get creative trying to figure out how to pass the time.  So years ago the game of Panic was started.  Only seniors can compete for the cash prize, and they do so by participating in a variety of daring challenges.  This is a compulsively readable thrill ride, but it also poignantly depicts the stark desperation that teens feel to escape both small town life and poverty.  There is intrigue, backstabbing and some nail biting involved here.

Servants of the Storm by Delilah S. Dawson

Look, I was so struck by this cover that I thought, “I really am interested in this.”  And then, there it was on Edelweiss, so I downloaded it.  And then I started reading it, even though it doesn’t come out until August of 2014.  And then I couldn’t stop.  So, that is the story of how I read this book super early instead of doing things I was supposed to do.  Here’s a basic rundown: a hurricane roars through Georgia, one best friend, Dovey, survives and one dies.  A year later, everything changes when Dovey thinks she sees Carly.  Then it is like she falls down the rabbit hole as she learns the truth about what happened to Carly, what teems beneath the surface of her town, and the next big storm coming.  This is a unique, twisted look at demons.  It is obviously at times disturbing, but very interesting. 

Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy

Here’s what I know about this book: A girl is diagnosed with cancer so she makes a list of everyone she wants to get revenge on.  Then, when she checks the last person off of her bucket list of vengeance, she goes into remission.  Oops.  Now she has to deal with the blowback.  This just sounds so compelling.  Plus, I have met Julie Murphy and she has awesome style and voice and I think it will translate well to the page and resonate with teen readers.  Also, Printz Winner John Corey Whaley says this book is good and who can argue with him.

White Space by Ilsa J. Bick

Because this: “Ilsa Bick’s WHITE SPACE, pitched as The Matrix meets Inkheart, about a seventeen-year-old girl who jumps between the lines of books and into the white space where realities are created and destroyed – but who may herself be nothing more than a character written into being from an alternative universe, to Greg Ferguson at Egmont, in a two-book deal, by Jennifer Laughran at Andrea Brown Literary Agency”  Bolding mine.

Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige

Dorthy. Must. Die.  Great title. Great cover.  And here’s a small snippet from the blurb:  
“My name is Amy Gumm—and I’m the other girl from Kansas.
I’ve been recruited by the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked.
I’ve been trained to fight.
And I have a mission:
Remove the Tin Woodman’s heart.
Steal the Scarecrow’s brain.
Take the Lion’s courage.
Then and only then—Dorothy must die!”

Yep, sign me up. 

Speaking of Covers . . . The Warrior by Victoria Scott (aka, How I Can Scratch Off 1 of the Items on My Bucket List)

Yesterday the cover for the third and final book in The Dante Walker trilogy by Victoria Scott debuted on Hypable.  If you have not been reading this series, you are doing yourself a huge disservice.

The war between heaven and hell is coming.  Dante was sent to collect one important soul in The Collector (book 1), Charlie’s.  The question is, why is this one girl so important?  With a lot of snark and swagger, Dante is determined to find out.

Here’s the cover . . .

Supernatural fans, you should be reading this.  Buffy fans, you should be reading this.
All people, you should be reading this.
And thank you Victoria Scott and Entangled Teen for allowing one of my dreams to come true!

Talking Teen Fiction with Victoria Scott

This week many libraries across the nation will be celebrating Teen Read Week, a YALSA initiative designed to remind teens to read for the fun of it – even in the middle of the school year.  Yesterday we announced that this week we were doing a fun contest sponsored by YA author Victoria Scott.  Don’t know what I am talking about, check it out here!  Since Victoria is our host for the week, let’s ask her what she thinks about the state of teen fiction today and its future.

Why do you think having teen fiction is important?
I think it’s important because it eliminates reading gaps during formative years. I read a lot when I was younger, but when I reached my teenage years, I strayed from books. Adult books seemed too distant from what I was going through, and middle grade books were too childish. Teen fiction gives teens a category so their literature can grow along with them.
Do you have any lines you won’t cross while writing for teens?

Yes, only one. If I include sex scenes, I always have them fade to black. There’s no need to be graphic. Everything else: cursing, drugs, alcohol, light sexual content—I’m not afraid to include those things. I don’t believe in sugar-coating the choices teens face.
Do you read YA? It seems a lot of adults buy books packaged for teens.
Yes, I read YA almost exclusively. I think adults enjoy them because many times the pacing is faster, and some of the more mundane subjects—mortgages, children, keeping a marriage healthy—aren’t visible. It’s just about reliving raw emotions at a critical time in your life.
Why would you say to adults who think YA has gotten too “heavy.”
I’d say if it’s gotten heavy, it’s because that’s what’s selling, which means that is what teens want to read. Sometimes it’s difficult for teens to speak with parents or teachers about what they’re dealing with, and in literature they can explore these heavier subjects in a safe place. 
What do you think lies ahead for teen fiction?
I think we’ll see the cost of ebooks fall. I think you’ll see fewer divisions at bookstores (paranormal romance, teen thriller, teen science fiction), and a more generic teen fiction area. And I think we’ll see more GLBT and racial minorities as lead characters, which is great! 
About Victoria Scott:
I’m a YA writer with a die-hard affection for dark and humorous books. My work is represented by Sara Crowe of Harvey Klinger literary agency. I have a master’s degree in marketing, and currently live in Dallas with my husband, Ryan.
 
My first YA book, THE COLLECTOR, will be published by Entangled Teen, April 2013. It is the first book in a trilogy. My second YA series will begin with FIRE & FLOOD and is being published by Scholastic in spring 2014.

Victoria is deathly afraid of monkeys.  Find out more at her webpage.  


Take a Second Look, books that send empowering messages to teens about body image

At TLT, we have an ongoing discussion about books and pop culture and how it affects the body image of our kids.  We are all constantly being bombarded with subtle – and sometimes not so subtle – messages about the way we look, or should look.  Sometimes, as I start to read a book, alarm bells will start going off in the back of mind: Warning, Danger Will Robinson!  Subtle messages include the propensity to have beautiful, white girls in flowy dresses on the cover of every book, repeatedly sending the message that this is the standard, the ideal for beauty.  Today I want to discuss with you a couple of books that seemed to be one thing, but turned out being something altogether different, reminding me, as a reader, that the beauty of a book can be more than skin deep – just like a person. 

Don’t judge a book by its cover! And yes, we all do it.  But let’s remember to look into the heart of things.  Here are a couple of books that remind us all to do that, to dig deeper.


The Collector is about a boy named Dante Walker who has died and become a demon, a collector.  His job is to collect souls for the big guy downstairs, some call him Satan.  He is given an order and has 10 days to collect the soul of Charlie.  Charlie is where our body image discussion comes in.  When we first meet Charlie she is an average teenage girl, described as being homely almost.  She sits off to the side in the cafeteria with her two besties, at times ridiculed.  Dante can’t figure out why the big guy below wants her soul, but he figures the way to get it is to make her wish that she was beautiful, which she starts to do in baby steps.  Better hair maybe, better teeth, clearer skin.  These are the things that many of us have wished for at various times at our life.  Some people spend hundreds of dollars on products to help transform the way that they look.

As I read The Collector, I was worried at times about the message the book was sending about physical appearance.  But in the end, there is a really positive spin on the message.  I can’t tell you what it is, but you’ll have to trust me. Better yet, read it for yourself and see if you agree with me. Of course this is only book 1 in the series, so we’ll have to see where it ends up going.  My wish? That in the end Charlie would choose to truly be herself.  I think that would send the most amazing message to readers.  I’ll keep reading to find out what happens, but also because it is a fun read.

Gorgeous by Paul Rudnick is another example of book that appears to be sending one message, but is in fact sending a completely different one.  In Gorgeous, Becky makes a deal with a world renowned fashion designer: he will make her 3 dresses and she will be turned into the most beautiful woman in the world.  Becky is soon transformed into Rebecca and is thrown into a life greater than you could ever imagine.  But she also knows that in many ways, she is betraying herself and there is kind of a shallowness to her life that she begins to recognize.  Gorgeous is an absurd twisted fairy tale; funny, but in the end, a fairy tale with a really good message.  In fact, with a starred review, Publisher’s Weekly proclaimed: “With writing that’s hilarious, profane, and profound (often within a single sentence), Rudnick casts a knowing eye on our obsession with fame, brand names, and royalty to create a feel-good story about getting what you want without letting beauty blind you to what’s real.” (May 2013)

Both of these books start out seeming like one thing, but when you read them all the way to the end, they end up saying something completely different about appearances.  A look at the covers would make you think they are something different than what they are, something we do with people every day.  Once you get past the shiny, glitzy covers, there is a fun reminder that what you see is not always what you get, and that we shouldn’t judge books – or people – by their appearance.

What other books do you feel send a positive message to teens about self acceptance and body image? Help us build a list by leaving your favorites in the comments. Thank you.

Texas Debut Authors Panel Recap

Last night I had the honor of hosting 6 up and coming debut authors from the DFW area at my library branch in Grand Prairie, Texas.  2012 Printz and Morris winning author John Corey Whaley was our host for the evening moderating the panel, and he is a very funny guy.  In fact, everyone on the panel was informative, entertaining, and great to spend an evening with.  If you have a chance, I highly recommend inviting them to your school or library to talk.  We talked books, both writing them and reading them, fears, guilty pleasures and more.

So, let’s begin our recap shall we . . .

John Corey Whaley

  • Was once a middle school teacher, though he claims he wasn’t a very good one.
  • He absolutely does not like Faulkner. At all.
  • He just turned in his next book, which he can’t talk about.  But the theme is apparently “absurdity”.
  • Has recently moved and is getting ready to make another move and teach a class on writing.
  • Is currently reading The Shining because he wanted a book that would creep him out.
  • Is a gentleman and really wanted to make the evening about the debut authors.

Lindsay Cummings

  • Is the author of the upcoming The Murder Complex, set in a future where the murder rate is higher than the birth rate.
  • She absolutely loves Twilight and doesn’t care who knows, she says she owns it.
  • She is afraid of “those creepy men who hit on you.” And you know, that is a legitimate fear.
  • While writing she asks herself, “What would Angelina Jolie do?”
  • She says that The Hunger Games is her “guilty pleasure”. 
  • Has 3 dogs
  • Is only 21 years old and is about to get published. She wrote her book when she was in her teens.


Mary Gray

  • Is the author of the upcoming The Dollhouse Asylum, where teens are forced to reenact the lives of tragic literary couples or die.  Such an intriguing concept.
  • Although I begged, she would not say which literary couples appear in the book.  I am intrigued.  Which couples do you think have to make an appearance?
  • Mary Gray is the mother of 3, so finding writing time can be a challenge.
  • Her favorite book series is His Fair Assassin series by Robin LaFevers, book 1 is Grave Mercy and book 2 is Dark Triumph.
  • Is also a huge fan of The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan, which inspired her to write a creepy book.
  • She is afraid of strawberries.  I’m not making that part up.
  • Does not like Dickens.

Jenny Martin

  • Is the author of the upcoming book Tracked, a science fiction space race with deadly consequences.
  • Is afraid of “jerks”
  • Does not like James Joyce
  • Can write anywhere with any type of background noise
  • Is a librarian (Woohoo for librarians!)
  • Says her guilty pleasure is Supernatural (how is that a guilty pleasure I ask!) and if you visit her on Twitter, you can see a picture of her with Sam, played by Jared Padelecki.
  • Is reading House of Leaves and Eleanor and Park at the moment.

Julie Murphy

  • Is the author of the upcoming Side Effects May Vary, a story about a girl who his diagnosed with cancer, goes and gets retribution on all the people she doesn’t like or has hurt her in life, and then finds out she has gone into remission.  Again, such an interesting concept for a book.  When discussing writing Murphy said she was interested in knowing what kind of girl she would be, what would her family be like, etc.
  • Hates Jane Austen but loves Degrassi, Blue Valentine and British TV Shows.
  • Told the funniest story about being severely sunburned when she received the call that her book had been sold and how she could barely hold the phone because of the pain.
  • Is afraid of Cicadas because bugs just shouldn’t be that big, it’s scientifically incorrect.
  • Is an academic librarian.
  • Thinks the most beautiful couple ever appears in the book The God Shaped Hole 
  • Says everyone should read Eleanor and Park RIGHT NOW.



Heather L. Reid

  • Is the author of the recently released Pretty Dark Nothing from Month9Books, a story about a girl who sees demons in her sleep and doesn’t know if they are real or if there is something wrong with her.
  • She recently moved back to Texas from Scotland.
  • Is a gamer.
  • Says it took over 7 years to get her book sold and published.
  • She knew she wanted to be a writer as a kid. (Many others on the panel did not. Mary Gray was the only other panel member who said she has known for a long time, since childhood, that she wanted to be a writer.)
  • Is afraid of roaches. She said this is weird, we all assured her it was not, perfectly reasonable fear if you ask me.
  • Says the Shining is the creepiest book she ever read.

Victoria Scott

  • Is the author of The Dante Walker series, a book about a teenage boy who dies, becomes a soul collector for the devil, and is then given 10 days to collect the soul of a girl named Charlie.Book 1 is The Collector, already out.  Book 2 is The Liberator, coming out in August I believe.
  • Is terribly afraid of monkeys. Animals should not have thumbs – she believes this strongly.
  • Watches Teen Mom as her guilty pleasure.
  • Listens to hard rock like Korn.
  • Is more organized than others on the panel in her writing process. She has outlines, character profiles, etc. in a series of folders and subfolders on her computer. Most of the other panel members said they did not outline and wished they were more organized.
  • Is reading and recommends Scorched by Mari Mancusi, she says her excellent writing makes her feel so inadequate as a writer.
  • Says The Hot Zone freaked her out and then tried to freak us all out about the Ebola virus.  Corey Whaley talked about the movie Contagion, which I am actually obsessed with and watch almost nightly in the background when I read (something about it makes good background noise).  I was very upset when I accidentally erased it – and everything else – off of my DVR.

I want to give a heartfelt thanks to everyone on the panel for their time and such a wonderful library program and discussion. Everyone in attendance gave lots of compliments on the night.  I was encouraged to hear how all the various writers came to write ya books and that they had both an appreciation for teens and teen literature.  One of the panel members said they actually liked being a teenager.  I think that means they were doing it wrong. I am loo kingforward to reading all the books, they sound so good.

Texas Debut Authors: Victoria Scott, author of The Collector

Author Introduction

Victoria Scott
Today I am going to use my personal website to promote an upcoming event at my library, but you’ll want to be there so you can meet 6 debut authors – and the 2012 Printz Award Winning author John Corey Whaley.
Victoria Scott is one of the authors we’ll be featuring at our Texas Debut Authors event, May 9, 2013 at 6:30 pm at the Betty Warmack Branch Library in Grand Prarie, TX. She is the author is THE COLLECTOR Trilogy (Entangled Teen) and the FLOOD AND FIRE Trilogy (Scholastic). Victoria lives in Dallas with her husband and loves all things dark and creepy. 
Victoria, here are your three questions:
 
1)   If you met the main character from your book, Dante Walker, in real life, do you think you’d fall for him? 
I think my seventeen-year-old self would, absolutely. Today, maybe not. Not saying I wouldn’t eye stalk him, but I like to think I’m past falling for a hot guy who only wants to seduce me. Then again… 😉 
Christie and I both just read and reviewed The Collector for Entangled Teen week
 2)   What’s your favorite city? 
I’m going to go with New Orleans. There’s something about that atmosphere that’s just addicting. It’s got this electricity and this gloom that’s so beautiful.
3)   What are you eating for dinner tonight?
Ha! Um, it’s Friday so it’s definitely going to include a slice of cheesecake from The Cheesecake Factory. Not saying I’m going to actually eat there, but that thing will be in my belly by the end of the night. True story.  

I’m a YA writer with a die-hard affection for dark and humorous books. My work is represented by Sara Crowe of Harvey Klinger literary agency. I have a master’s degree in marketing, and currently live in Dallas with my husband, Ryan.

My first YA book, THE COLLECTOR, will be published by Entangled Teen, April 2013. It is the first book in a trilogy. My second YA series will begin with FIRE & FLOOD and is being published by Scholastic in spring 2014.

Victoria is deathly afraid of monkeys.  Find out more at her webpage.

Book Review: The Collector by Victoria Scott

“As you know, it’ll be held in the gymnasium. We’ll be selling tickets during lunch all week. So don’t forget to buy yours or you’ll be left dateless like me.”

Charlie stops. Her smile falters, but she quickly recovers. “I would know…only ugly losers…” She stops reading the cue cards. Then she gazes right into the camera and freezes.
People in the classroom laugh nervously.


Taylor. She messed with the cue cards. I should have known. I should’ve known!


I bolt from my desk and run for the door.


Behind me, I hear the teacher yelling my name, but there’s no way I’m stopping this time. My sneakers thump against the floor as I run down the hallway, into the cafeteria, and down another longer corridor. I’m heading to the journalism room, but I stop suddenly when I hear the sound of quick footsteps coming from the closest bathroom. Somehow, I know it’s her.


The bathroom doesn’t have a door, just an entrance that turns sharply so you can’t see inside. I don’t even check to see if anyone’s watching. I just go halfway in, knock on the wall, and say, “Charlie? You in here?”


The footsteps stop briefly.


Yep. It’s gotta be her.


I go the rest of the way inside and find her pacing in front of the restroom stalls. Her back is to me as she says, “You can go, Dante. I’m fine.” But when she turns to pace in the opposite direction, I see the truth. Her face is pink and blotchy and her eyes hold so much pain, it rips something apart inside of my chest.


My hands curl and uncurl, and my breathing comes harder and faster. Who do these people think they’re messing with? This girl has been assigned to me. Boss Man wants her soul, which means anyone messing with her—is messing with me. And they’re about to find out exactly what that’s like.


I turn abruptly from Charlie and storm toward the hall.


“Dante,” she says. Her voice becomes urgent. “Dante, don’t.”


I head down the hallway, gaining speed, unstoppable.


As I round the corner, I see Taylor and one of her boy-toys laughing. They’re having a grand ol’ time mocking my girl. The guy sees me and his mouth turns up on one side. “Oh, here comes the boyfriend. Did you catch our show, boyfriend?”


I don’t stop. I keep moving. One second, Dick Head is standing upright and the next my fist slams into his jaw. He hits the floor with a hard thud. I jump on his chest and throw my fist over and over into his face. I’m a big guy, there’s no denying that, but what’s more—I’m a mother fucking demon. And now the guy below me knows what it’s like to piss one off. When the guy’s eyes roll back in his head, I stand up and wipe blood from my knuckles.


Then I look at Taylor.


Fear screams in her eyes. I approach her slowly. She backs up until her shoulder blades hit the lockers behind her. “Dante, I—”


I cover her mouth with my hand. “Shut up.”


I step so close I can practically feel her heart beating. The hand not covering her mouth flicks, and her soul light flips on. Just as I expected, she’s coated in sin seals.


What I don’t expect are the two sparkly, pink seals. What the hell? Did Charlie do this?
Right now, I don’t care. All I care about is delivering what this girl deserves. Usually, the size seal I can assign is based on the sin. But this time—just this once—I’m going to take a little liberty.


I close my eyes and pull as much as I can out of my core, then I let go. A seal the size of Canada attaches to her soul light. And oh, sweet mercy, I can tell Taylor feels it. Actually feels that I just took something sacred from her.


My mouth curls into a smile.

“Pow, bitch.”


Dante Walker is the personification of bad.  A collector of souls for the Bad Guy himself, set free to walk upon the Earth, Dante’s good looks, killer charm, and stellar confidence have made him one of Hell’s best, and he knows it. Sealing souls isn’t personal- it’s just the job. Until Charlie, that is, because the Boss wants Charlie bad, and is willing to promote Dante if he can seal her soul in 10 days. Dante doesn’t know why the Boss Man wants her so bad. and doesn’t care; it’s a permanent ticket out of hell for him. However, Charlie becomes more than an assignment- and Dante discovers that he’s not as distant as he seems.

As the TOP collector of souls for the Devil, Dante has been working on passing judgement for the Boss Man since he died at the age of 17. Released on Earth only for short sprints to seal souls of sinners, Dante leaps at the chance to be promoted to head reaper, and the assignment seems simple- deliver the soul of Charlie Cooper in 10 days. Yet, Charlie is as innocent as they come, and her soul shines. She ends up making Dante believe in himself in ways he never believed he could, and as his heart changes, the stakes only rise. Can he save himself and Charlie before she’s cursed to Hell? 

Dante can be hit or miss with some readers, and his attitude can miss the mark at times and make a reader want to cringe. However, his change throughout the book is dramatic, as well as Charlie’s transformation, and through that he is redeemed (in more ways than one). The world Scott builds is very detailed (how they seal the souls, why they’re doing it, etc.) and the ideas build upon the next so that the reader is left waiting for the second in the series, The Liberator to know what happens in the struggle that is coming.  Very good paranormal romance, and alluring to readers that it’s in a guy’s voice.  I’m not sure that male readers will pick it up as much as female ones (with the *ewwww kissing* factor) but that remains to be seen.  3.5 stars.  Would pair it with books like Jennifer L. Armentrout’s Obsidian or Wendy Higgins Sweet Evil for the romance, or Kim Harrison’s Madison Avery series for the paranormal aspect.  Goodreads lists The Collector at 3.82 stars as of April 23, 2013.

Karen’s 2 Cents: I also read The Collector and seriously ended up enjoying it.  Dante is a bad boy, kind of a version of Spike-lite, and I loved his snark and wit and confidence.  I also loved the effect that Charlie had on all of the above (Yay for Charlie by the way!).  I was curious as to how it would work to write such a smug character and still get the reader to like him, but Scott epically pulls it off.  I also love the discussion of inner versus outer beauty.  In fact, although this could appear to be a fun, surface type of read, there is some real substance here and I really appreciated that.  Yes, it was a seriously fun read, but I think it also drives home some of my favorite life lessons in completely non-obvious, non-teachy ways: people are more than what they look like on the outside and people can be redeemed.  I really liked the characters and the dialogue, they are pitch perfect, and would give it 4 stars (maybe even 4.5).  This one could be (and should be) huge and popular. (edited 4/30/2013 so Karen could add her 2 cents)

Cover Reveal: The Collector by Victoria Scott

It’s official, Dante Walker has arrived! And trust us when we say, being bad has never looked so good. You’ll need him, you’ll want him…and we’ll let you in on a little secret:
He wants you too.

About The Collector

Dante Walker is flippin’ awesome, and he knows it. His good looks, killer charm, and stellar confidence have made him one of hell’s best—a soul collector. His job is simple, weed through humanity and label those round rears with a big red good or bad stamp. Old Saint Nick gets the good guys, and he gets the fun ones. Bag-and-tag.

Sealing souls is nothing personal. Dante’s an equal opportunity collector and doesn’t want it any other way. But he’ll have to adjust, because Boss Man has given him a new assignment:
Collect Charlie Cooper’s soul within 10 days.

Dante doesn’t know why Boss Man wants Charlie, nor does he care. This assignment means only one thing to him, and that’s a permanent ticket out of hell. But after Dante meets the quirky, Nerd Alert chick he’s come to collect—he realizes this assignment will test his abilities as a collector, and uncover emotions deeply buried.

Find out more at www.DanteWalker.com

Meet Victoria Scott
Victoria Scott is a YA writer with a die-hard affection for dark and humorous books. Her work is represented by the fabulous Laurie McLean of Larsen-Pomada literary agency. She has a master’s degree in marketing, and is a member of the Writers’ League of Texas and Teen Shiver.

Her first YA book, THE COLLECTOR, will be published by Entangled Teen in 2013. And her short story, FOUR HOUSES, is available now through Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

She currently lives in Dallas with her husband, Ryan.

Connect with Victoria:Website l Twitter l Facebook
Add The Collector to your TBR pile on Goodreads!
You can read Victoria’s Why YA? post to find out more about her.
The Collector Series is coming from Entangled Publishing in March 2013.

Why YA? Victoria Scott invites you to dive into YA with Between Shades of Gray

Some of the greatest war stories have been told from the point of view of teens.  Anne Frank was a teenager when she hid her diary.  Devon recalls his teenage years when he returns to the place that haunts him in A Separate Peace by John Knowles.  And just this past week Stephanie and I rejoiced in the splendor that is Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein.  Today, debut author Victoria Scott invites you to dive into the pages of Between Shades of Gray with her as part of our ongoing Why YA? series.
BETWEEN SHADES OF GREY, THE PERFECT EXCUSE TO DIVE INTO YA

I think the most accepted idea about the YA genre is that it’s meant for teens alone.

I beg to differ.

Most books that end up in the teen section are categorized there for one reason: the main character is a teen. When I explain this to non-readers, or casual readers, the response is always the same, “That makes sense.” And while it does make sense, I’m not sure everyone actually knows this. Many of my non-writing friends believe books are read by some great Lord of the Tomes. Naturally, said lord sits down each morning with a cup of Jasmine tea and the newest soon-to-be-released book, and gives it a read. After doing so, Lord of the Tomes stands, fills his broad chests, and exclaims something along the lines of “I hereby announce this book to be teen in nature. Shelve it as so. I have spoken.”

Because so many people believe YA books are meant only for teens, they miss out on spectacular stories. Stories everyone should read. Stories like BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY by Ruta Sepetys. Here’s the description I pulled from Amazon for this brilliant book:

Lina is just like any other fifteen-year-old Lithuanian girl in 1941. She paints, she draws, she gets crushes on boys. Until one night when Soviet officers barge into her home, tearing her family from the comfortable life they’ve known. Separated from her father, forced onto a crowded and dirty train car, Lina, her mother, and her young brother slowly make their way north, crossing the Arctic Circle, to a work camp in the coldest reaches of Siberia. Here they are forced, under Stalin’s orders, to dig for beets and fight for their lives under the cruelest of conditions.

Lina finds solace in her art, meticulously – and at great risk – documenting events by drawing, hoping these messages will make their way to her father’s prison camp to let him know they are still alive.  It is a long and harrowing journey, spanning years and covering 6,500 miles, but it is through incredible strength, love, and hope that Lina ultimately survives.  Between Shades of Gray is a novel that will steal your breath and capture your heart.




At the heart of this book, Author Sepetys is telling about imprisonment, about the human condition…about the will to survive. And I believe the reason she chose to tell the story from a teen’s point of view is the same reason many YA authors do: because teen emotions are beautiful and virginal and raw.

Sometimes, YA books are written for teens. To the point where adults may have trouble enjoying them the way a teen might. But other times, in cases like BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY, books are written using a teen lead because it makes sense for the story. This is why readers should never shy away from YA. Because there are stories on those shelves you can’t find anywhere else. Because the characters experience life in fresh, exhilarating ways.

And because YA is where it’s at, baby.

Victoria Scott has a deep-rooted obsession for all things creepy. Her favorite place to brainstorm story ideas is inside a grandiose graveyard founded in the 1800s. Victoria’s passion for books is inexhaustible, and she dreams of owning a colossal library complete with spiral staircase. When not writing, Victoria can be found snapping pics of gnarled trees, scouting cotton candy, and snuggling obese cats. Victoria has a master’s degree in marketing, and lives in Dallas with her husband in an appropriately-creepy house. THE COLLECTOR: A DANTE WALKER NOVEL (Entangled Teen, 2013) will be Victoria’s first novel. Visit her online haunt at www.VictoriaScottYA.com, or learn more about THE COLLECTOR at http://www.victoriascottya.com/work/thecollector