Thursday, December 27, 2012

Blog Tour Stop: The End of the World as We Know It

Where’s the Funny? A Call for More Humor in Young Adult Books

Before I start this post, let me first say that I’m really excited to be making this tour stop at the Howling Turtle. I have never heard a turtle howl, so color me intrigued. Also, hi everyone, and thanks for reading!
I feel like I need to start this post with a joke, since I’m writing about humor in YA and all. Admittedly, I may have backed myself into a corner when I titled this post in a decidedly unfunny way. I might as well have called it, “Tut, Tut, Tut, Another Person Complaining About Those Pesky Young Adult Books.”
That’s not the case at all. I love young adult literature. (You would hope so, given that my first book is YA: The End of the World As We Know It, an e-book from Alloy Entertainment.) I’ve been reading Young Adult literature since long before it was called that on such a massive scale, back when it was still shelved in the children’s department of my library.
(No, I’m not an ancient being. I grew up in the '80s and came of [teen] age in the early '90s. So, maybe semi-ancient. But I still have all my original teeth.)
I was fortunate to enjoy one of the finest teen movie eras the world has ever seen, thanks to John Hughes, Back to the Future, The Goonies, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Clueless and a plethora of others. And in books as well I’ve always, always, gravitated to the funny. I can’t remember the title of every giggle-worthy paperback I checked out and gobbled up but I can remember vaguely that many featured heroes and heroines with unique voices, each of whom knew their way around a sharp observation or one-liner.  And who, let's face it, could fall funny. (Or get food in their teeth funny, or say the total wrong thing funny…you get the idea.)
Nowadays, I’m finding it harder to get my humor fix, as the books grow darker and darker. Even Meg Cabot, one of my favorite funny authors, has gone to the dark side. All these works are amazing, and I'm astonished by the skills of all the world-building authors out there, but rarely do I read a passage where I laugh so hard I worry about bladder control. (As I did with Cabot's works many a time. Thanks, Meg.. ..Oh, no, I didn’t get it checked out. I will.) I get it: who’s got time for a punchline or a pratfall in a dystopian landscape of squalor and oppression? But you can’t blame a girl for wanting.
I think the reason I find humor so important in young adult books is because being a young adult is so very HARD. Many details of my adolescence have faded but I quite clearly remember that it really could suck a lot. Think about all that's asked of a teenager:  School pressures. College pressures. Part-time job pressures. Puberty, both generally and specifically. Friends who like you. People who say they're friends but act kind of like, well, jerks. Teachers who act like jerks. Parents who act like jerks. Brain voices that act like jerks (or was that just me?) A lot of jerks, or at least jerk-esque behavior. Plus, possibly having no money, having no car, having the wrong jeans and maybe the wrong genes. If you make it through the teen years with none of these woes, or some other woes, then clearly you should be cast as the villain in my next novel.
Oh, and wait, I forgot about all the QUESTIONS. Questions like what to do with yourself, who to love, why who you love doesn't love you, what you believe, why you're not like your family, why you are like your family, why there’s nothing to do in this town, how you’re going to get out of this town... Not to mention raging hormones, the occasional surprise massive zit attack, and the myriad humiliations of high school dances. Some people dig the drama, even thrive on it. The rest of us equip ourselves with humor, and it stays with us for the rest of our lives. I did the second thing. (It seemed like my only option since my name got spelled “Ivan” in my eighth grade yearbook and appeared next to a photo of me flashing the shiniest, largest braces you can have without someone trying to recycle your mouth. And that was just eighth grade.)
In The End of the World As We Know It, my four characters are trapped in a basement at a party when they become the only survivors of an alien attack. Even when things seem at their darkest, though, they each crack wise. That is what I would be doing, too, if I were nearly peeing myself with fear. (Funny how fright and comedy both make you wet yourself.)
Is that wrong? Laughs amid the wreckage? I don't think so, but even if you do think so, I hope you still find it hilarious.
I realize now that I’ve reached the end of this post and haven’t exactly made my call for more humor in YA books, so I’ll cap it all off with this: Please, genius authors, do what you want – you’re clearly onto something because the world loves you and so do I. Plus, you all come up with so many hot guys. Yowza. But…if you happen to be writing along and someone takes a pratfall on the shattered remains of what once was earth, I’ll be there, nodding in comedic unity. (And, yes, practicing sphincter control.)
Iva-Marie Palmer is the author of The End of the World As We Know It, a sci-fi action comedy from Alloy Entertainment (creators of Pretty Little Liars, Gossip Girl, The Vampire Diaries). For a laugh, find her online on Twitter (@ivamarie), on Facebook ( and at her website (

Author Bio: 

Author of The End of the World as We Know It from Alloy Entertainment. It's currently available as a NOOK exclusive from Barnes and Noble. Look for it on Kindle and other e-readers on August 18. 

Palmer lives in Los Angeles with her husband and son and lots of (filled) bookshelves.

For more information, check out her bio on Alloy Entertainment's official site and keep up with her at

Author Links:
Iva-Marie Palmer's website:
Iva-Marie Palmer on Facebook:
Iva-Marie Palmer on Twitter:

Monday, December 24, 2012

Bias or Support?

A few days ago my father told me that his review of my mother's book, The Trauma Tool Kit, had disappeared off of both Amazon and Barnes &Noble. He thought this might be because reviews are taken off after six months, but as a book blogger who has been posting on Amazon for several years, I knew this wasn't the case. At the time I thought this was mysterious, but didn't put a lot of thought in it. The next day I saw the article on the front page of The New York Times, " Giving Mom's Book Five Stars? Amazon May Cull You Review" by David Stratfield. According to this article, Amazon is taking down reviews they think were written by people who know the author personally. Because of my father's reviews, I can only assume Barnes & Noble has taken up this practice too.

Apparently Amazon thinks people who know the author are too biased to write an honest review. And this may be true in many cases, but what is wrong with supporting people you care about? And while you are not aloud togive Uncle Arnold a five star review for his self-published poetry anthology, you are more than welcome to post a review of a thriller you haven't even read the synopsis of. Amazon may have fancy algorithms and data crunching computers to find out if you know the author, but they have no way to know if you've read the book or not. Even if you downloaded it yourself via Whispernet does not Garuntee you've cracked open your Kindle any time in the past years.

This leads to the even more creepy question: how can they tell you know the author? Even out of most people well versed in the Internet such as myself (and any other blogger for that matter) only a few have any real and complete answer to this question. As far as I'm concerned math, science, and magic all meld into the same thing here. Whatever the answer though, these companies are going to a lot of trouble to find these supposedly illegitimate reviewers.

The article suggests that this sudden crack down was spurred by the recent stories of people being paid to write positive reviews for a living and making good money at it. These stories frustrated me as much as the next honest reviewer who hates how tainted our reputation has become in some circles, and this was motivation enough for the major corporations as Amazon and Barnes & Noble to bring out the big guns (though GoodReads still allows authors to give their own works five stars - a major pet peeve of mine, but I digress).

These current developments are troubling to me, on top of reviews of friends and family of the author being taken down, authors reviewing other authors' work are being taken off because a "competitor" reviewing another's product would obviously be biased as well.

Perhaps the idea is pure-hearted and these big companies are just trying to eliminate bias and level the playing field, but they are silencing thousands if not tens of thousands of voices in the process. Ultimately though, the very idea of a level playing field in the world of reviews - and the Internet for that matter - is completely impossible. In the end there is nothing they can do about it, and nothing I can do about it except keeping my reviews as honest as possible. I don't see anything wrong with supporting a loved one, I advertise my mother's self-help book on my blog even though I only review Young Adult books. My only hope in all of this is that these drastic measures the big companies are taking will make people think about what they're doing before they give a five star review to a book just because it has a pretty cover or the hero shares their name. But I hope, at the same time, that people who have taken the time to stop, think, and write a review to support a loved one that while perhaps is biased, is honest as well to that person's opinion, do not feel belittled when they are given the message that their opinion doesn't count. People like my father writing to support his wife should have as much a right to give their two cents as anyone else.

What do you think? I'd love to hear in the comments!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Review: Goldilocks

Title: Goldilocks
Author: Anna Rose
Page Count: 149
My Rating: 4 TURTLES: A great read, I definitely recommend.


Katherine, who has grown up in the comfort and safety of her father’s palace, finds herself drawn to the cottage where her late grandmother grew up. Lured by the mysteries of the forest, and alarmed by talk of marriage between her sister and their cousin, she follows her Great-Aunt Rose into the unknown.

Although Katherine enjoys the simple life, she begins to fear for Rose’s sanity as the old woman recalls her childhood experiences, so fantastical they must surely have been imagined. She also fears the rumours of dangerous animals nearby, but an encounter with three bears leads her to discover that her aunt’s stories are true, and that the forest holds secrets even Rose never dreamed of.

A retelling of ‘Goldilocks and the Three Bears’.


Goldilocks by Anna Rose is a charming retelling of Goldilocks and the Three Bears and Snow White and Rose Red (not to be confused with Snow White and the Seven Dwarves). These two fairytales work very well intertwined and fun twists are added to both of them. It is a very fun, quick read for all ages.

The story was very much like a fairytale in that it took place in a fantastical land like Earth, but it was never specified if it was supposed to be. We never even learn the name of the kingdom or what lands are like outside of it. Most of the characters were not very complex, their challenges were very black and white. The most complicated character of all was Violet, Goldilocks’ aunt, who was a minor character. While I felt this was appropriate with the fairytale feel of the book, it did seem like somewhat of a missed opportunity.

Overall though, this was a great read. I love fairytale retellings and this one was very cleverly done. I am excited to read the next retellings Anna Rose has on the way. Goldilocks is not necessarily labeled as a children’s book, but the content is mild enough that I think younger children could enjoy this novel as well as adults. It is a sweet story definitely worth checking out.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Release announcement: Opal

New York, NY (December 18, 2012) – World Weaver Press (Eileen Wiedbrauk, Editor-in-Chief) has announced the digital and trade paperback release Opal, a novella by Kristina Wojtaszek today, Tuesday, December 18, 2012.

Opal is available in trade paperback via Amazon, and digital edition via Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, OmniLit, and other online retailers. You can also find Opal on Goodreads.

Praise for Opal:

“A fairy tale within a fairy tale within a fairy tale — the narratives fit together like interlocking pieces of a puzzle, beautifully told.”

— Zachary Petit, Editor, Writer’s Digest

“Twists and turns and surprises that kept me up well into the night. Fantasy and fairy tale lovers will eat this up and be left wanting more!”

— Kate Wolford, Editor and Publisher, Enchanted Conversation

White as snow, stained with blood, her talons black as ebony… In this retwisting of the classic Snow White tale, the daughter of an owl is forced into human shape by a wizard who’s come to guide her from her wintry tundra home down to the colorful world of men and Fae, and the father she’s never known. She struggles with her human shape and grieves for her dead mother — a mother whose past she must unravel if men and Fae are to live peacefully together.

Kristina Wojtaszek grew up as a woodland sprite and mermaid, playing around the shores of Lake Michigan. At any given time she could be found with live snakes tangled in her hair and worn out shoes filled with sand. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Wildlife Management as an excuse to spend her days lost in the woods with a book in hand. She currently resides in the high desert country of Wyoming with her husband and two small children. She is fascinated by fairy tales and fantasy and her favorite haunts are libraries and cemeteries. Follow her @KristinaWojtasz or on her blog, Twice Upon a Time.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Guest Post by Ally Malinenko

Five  Things You Might Not Know (Or Ever Want To Know) about Greek Mythology

Ally Malinenko
My novel, Lizzy Speare and the Cursed Tomb, has equal parts Shakespeare lore and Mythology. I’ve always been a big fan of mythology and when I was researching satyrs and cyclopses (cyclopsi?) and gryphons I learned a thing or two about the Old Gods. Be forewarned. Things are about to get weird.

Pandora was the first woman. Well, doesn’t that figure? Very first mortal woman to exist in the world and what do we do? Blame her for all the evil there is. Pandora was crafted out of water and earth, (basically mud) and used as tool by Zeus to punish Prometheus for stealing fire and creating creatures – a power only previously available to the gods. Just so we’re straight they created a woman, gave her curiosity and box full of evil and sent her out into the world. But hey, it’s all her fault right?  

Zeus became the ruler of Mt. Olympus by tricking his father into puking up his brothers and sisters. Ew. Cronos was the head honcho, the lead Titan, pre-Olympians. Cronos became the big man by killing his father Uranus with a sickle but not before cutting of his….ahem. Then, paranoid he would lose his ranking as Big Cheese, he ate all his kids. Each and every one of them. Wait, it gets better. So Rhea, his wife gets fed up with all the birthing and eating (it’s all so messy) and hides her next son Zeus, replacing him with a rock which Cronos also ate. Apparently he wasn’t a picky eater. So Zeus toddles off and grows up and comes back, whips up some ipecac and Cronos yaks up all his kids…and the rock… and a goat apparently. So the kids, surprisingly undigested after all these years, then kill him and take over. Happy Father’s Day!

Zeus, for all his daddy issues, is surprisingly just like his father, Kronos. Being the Lord of the Heavens is busy work. Sometimes a god gets stressed - paranoid if you will. Maybe he hears prophesy that his child will unseat him just like he did to his pop and like his pop did to his pappy. Maybe it starts to eat away at him. Maybe he worries about all the side effects of his dalliances. So what to do? Be like daddy and eat the kids? Oh no! That’s uncivilized. Instead, eat their mother. Now that nasty little problem is all gone until one day, about nine months later, he gets a splitting headache and convinces his son to chop his skull open and out of his head pops his daughter, all grown up in full armor. You have to admit, it’s a pretty good entrance. Zeus calls her Athena and she becomes Daddy’s little girl. (Note: There’s no further mention of the poor mother.)      

Family is complicated. Now that Athena is alive and well having popped out of her father’s head she goes about the busy work of making Gorgons. Hideous creatures, tusks of boars, batwings, dragon scales, beards, fangs, snake tongues. Real lookers, these guys. The most famous of which is Medusa. You all know her. Snake hair, likes to bore her dinner guests to stone. For some reason Athena’s uncle, Poseidon, lord of the sea, has a thing for charity cases and he and Medusa hit it off. Sort of gross since they were created by Athena and that might very well include birthed but hey, we won’t judge. And what are the spoils of Poseidon and Medusa’s little love affair? Pegasus. Yup, take a sea god and a monster and you get a beloved-by-all-six-year-old-girls-the-world-over magical flying horsey.

Zeus and Hera are brother and sister. And also husband and wife. I’ll just leave it at that. What? Like your family is perfect? 

Here is an Excerpt of Lizzy Speare and the Cursed Tomb:
 In the darkness Lizzy reached her hand out and whacked it against something hard, stinging her knuckles. Reaching out carefully this time, she felt around her. It was a wall, only inches from her face. She could feel her own breath on her face as she leaned forward. Her eyelids twitched nervously.
            She slid her foot out and it hit the same wall. She tried to turn around, but realized she couldn’t. There was a wall behind her too. Something was wrong. A heat raced through her body. Suddenly, Lizzy realized her orientation was off. In the dark and with the rush of the Traversing Quill it had been hard to tell.  She was not standing upright after all. She was lying down.  There was a wall in front of her and behind her.

            Trying to stay calm, she ran her hand along the wall’s edge until her fingers traced out a corner.  In a panic, her knee flew up and smacked painfully on the ceiling. It wasn’t a ceiling though, it was a lid.  She was trapped in some kind of box!
            In her mind, Lizzy could see the words “Shakespeare’s Tomb” light up in gold and then fade to black. She took deep breaths to try to control the spasms coursing through her body. The desire to move was overwhelming. All she wanted to do was kick, run, swing her arms. Her limbs strained against their confinement.  Lizzy turned her head to the side and something grainy brushed her cheeks.
            “What’s this?” Lizzy whispered in the darkness. Her fingers tried to pick up what felt like crumbs. Her other hand reached down her side and landed on some kind of stick. Like a blind person, Lizzy pulled it up toward her face and frantically ran her fingers over it.
            It’s a bone.
            Lizzy screamed and started kicking and pounding on the walls. It’s a coffin! It’s a coffin!
            The panic pressed down on her and she could feel every molecule of air leaving her body. I can’t die in here! I can’t die! Lizzy screamed. No words came out, no actual comprehendible words, but she screamed until her voice was hoarse. When she was done screaming, her breath came in quick short spurts. Focus. Focus. She told herself there had to be a way out. There was always a way out. Please, let there be a way out.

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