Tuesday, June 29, 2010


I have heard it said that the most compelling book recommendations are word-of-mouth, from friends, librarians or trusted reviewers who tell you, “OMG, you HAVE to read this book!”

That’s how I fell upon Split by Swati Avasthi earlier this year. And from the first page, I took a header into the tumultuous life of sixteen year-old Jace Witherspoon, and found it so edge-of-my seat intense, and so real that I simply couldn’t put it down.

Here’s the blurb:

Sixteen-Year-Old Jace Witherspoon arrives at the doorstep of his estranged brother Christian with a re-landscaped face (courtesy of his father’s fist), $3.84, and a secret.

He tries to move on, going for new friends, a new school, and a new job, but all his changes can’t make him forget what he left behind—his mother, who is still trapped with his dad, and his ex-girlfriend, who is keeping his secret.

At least so far.

Worst of all, Jace realizes that if he really wants to move forward, he may first have to do what scares him most: He may have to go back.

Publishers’ Weekly calls it “…gripping and heartbreaking.”

Library School Journal went with “…raw and intimate, dramatic and poetic.”

Booklist said, “A nuanced and mournful work.”

By a happy coincidence, I happened to "see" Swati on the Facebook page of our YA Fresh author friend, Holly Cupala and have been enjoying chatting with her. She's agreed to be a guest here soon...so look for that in the future.

Meanwhile, I urge you all to check out Split. Or maybe I should say, "OMG, you HAVE to read this book!”

Friday, June 25, 2010

A Cool New Book!

Hello YA Freshers!

I just wanted to give a shout out to Jennifer Lynn Barnes for her latest release Raised By Wolves!! Have you heard about it? Here's the blurb:

At the age of four, Bryn watched a rogue werewolf brutally murder her parents. Alone in the world, she was rescued and taken in by the mysterious Callum, the alpha of the local werewolf pack. Now fifteen, Bryn's been raised as a human among werewolves, adhering to pack rule (mostly). Little fazes her.

But the pack's been keeping a secret, and when Bryn ges exploring against Callum's direct orders, she finds Chase, a newly turned teen WEre locked in a cage. Terrifying memories of the attack on her mom and dad come flooding back. Bryn needs answers, and she needs Chase to get them. Suddenly, all allegiances to the pack no longer matter. It's Bryn and Chase against the werewolf world, whatever the consequences.

An exciting new paranormal adventure with a heroine who rivals Buffy, Raised By Wolves will leave you howling for more.

Sounds like my kind of book! Raised by Wolves is on bookshelves now. I'm excited to check it out!

Jennifer Lynn Barnes (who mostly goes by Jen) was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She has been, in turn, a competitive cheerleader, a volleyball player, a dancer, a debutante, a primate cognition researcher, a teen model, a comic book geek, and a lemur aficionado. She's been writing for as long as she can remember, finished her first full book (which she now refers to as a "practice book" and which none of you will ever see) when she was still in high school, and then wrote Golden the summer after her freshman year in college, when she was nineteen.

Jen graduated high school in 2002, and from Yale University with a degree in cognitive science (the study of the brain and thought) in May of 2006. She'll be spending the 2006-2007 school year abroad, doing autism research at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom. Visit Jennifer's website www.jenniferlynnbarnes.com.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Yearbook Pics!

Summer conjures up images of relaxation and vacation to most people, but if you happen to work in a photography studio, it also means the peak period for getting next year's senior class photos rolling. Appointments are often worked in back-to-back, especially at studios that accommodate a number of high schools.

So with a tip of our YA Fresh hat to all those who are in the process of having their senior yearbook photos taken or who work in one of these studios, I am offering up three yearbook photos of myself.

All are bad.

Two are photoshopped, one is real.

Can you tell which one is real? And want to share with us any stories about your own yearbook photos?

Monday, June 21, 2010

Announcing Our Winner...

The winner of this weekend's giveaway, a copy of Holly Cupala's TELL ME A SECRET is...


Congrats, Ann, and please e-mail me at admin@tinaferraro.com with your contact information so I can get the book in the mail to you!

Thanks to all who entered and keep checking back for more of our cool giveaways!

Friday, June 18, 2010

The Tell Me a Secret Giveaway!

We welcome our YA Fresh friend, Holly Cupala, to our blog today, to talk about her writing and her debut novel, Tell Me a Secret , releasing June 22 from Harper Teen!

Hi, Holly! Could you please tell us a little about your writing background and how you made your first sale?

I have been an SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) groupie for years! When I started out, I thought I wanted to write picture books. I’d written this (ok, don’t laugh, I was just starting out!) 1,600 word rhyming epic picture book poem and was working on illustrations for it…I’m an artist but have since discovered that I am definitely not an illustrator. Anyway, I kept writing and took classes and went to conferences and formed critique groups and wrote a lot of awful stuff, then actually started writing some publishable stuff. But all of it was a little bit at arms’ length.

Then everything sort of fell apart. We lost our first daughter at birth, and the stories I’d been writing just didn’t have any meaning for me. I almost gave up writing. A few months later, I went to an SCBWI conference, and my friend Justina Chen asked if I was thinking of writing about it. All of a sudden, it was like she gave me permission. Moments later, we went to Libba Bray’s session on getting to the heart of your writing, and there it was. In my lap. I started writing.

About a year later, I received an SCBWI Work-In-Progress Grant, so I kept on writing. As I revised, I realized I would probably need an agent. Out of the blue, I met my amazing agent, Edward Necarsulmer IV, who fell in love with the project and was really passionate about it. I’ve been incredibly lucky to work with him. He ended up selling it in a pre-empt to our first choice!

Holly, please accept my condolences on your painful loss, and so glad you could fall back on your craft and get support from helpful writer-friends.

Please tell us about your novel, Tell Me a Secret, and what we can expect from your characters.

It’s been five years since Miranda’s bad-girl sister disappeared into the night and died in a mysterious crash. Five years of holding her family together – her drama-obsessed mother, her disappearing father. In just one year, she will escape to college on the arm of her boyfriend, Kamran, and disappear herself. Until then, she has a new best friend with the keys to unlock her sister’s secret world. But now Miranda has a secret of her own…two lines on the pregnancy test that will shatter everything she hopes for.

Expect secrets, mystery, betrayal, forgiveness, truth, a bit of suspense…and a superhot sci-fi guy.

I can’t wait! Now, what’s up next?

My editor just accepted my second YA novel, STREET CREED (tentative title) for release in Fall 2011. It’s about a girl who trades her suburban life to live on the streets of Seattle. She meets up with a group of homeless kids and the one she is looking for – a boy who calls himself Creed. There are secret reasons why she’s left home, and every one of the kids has a story and secrets of their own. Ultimately she has to make a terrible choice, and she learns a lot about what it means to love.

Would you like to close with a writing tip?

My favorite writing tip is to write as honestly as you possibly can the first time, because it’s really difficult to recapture that rawness and truth when you go back to revise. Each project’s process is a little different for me – the first novel was slow and sometimes painful. I worked through it little by little when our second daughter was a baby, one day a week. Now that I have more time to devote to writing, I try to make the most of it. For the second novel, I discovered the timer, set in 15minute increments, is a wonderful device for outrunning the internal critic. Then I reward myself – with candy or tea or something. I got through most of STREET CREED that way!

Many thanks for visiting with us, Holly!

And I know our readers will be thrilled to learn we’re giving away a signed copy of TELL ME A SECRET. All you need to do to be entered is tell us, in the comments, is why you want to win! The winner will be announced on Monday!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Mall of America!

As I said last week, I was taking a short vacation to Minnesota. And among the good times with friends, family (and yes, young adult books), I got to spend some time at the world’s largest shopping mall, Mall of America.

With over 400 stores and a 7 acre indoor park, millions of people from all over the world visit each year. And I could sure see why! In the couple of hours I spent there, I made it into maybe a dozen stores and gawked at as many amusement park rides, and the overall atmosphere is really fun and pleasant.

Best of all, I ended up buying my dress for the Rita® Award ceremony! It happened so unexpectedly. I was telling my cousin that while last year, I wanted my look to say “romantic,” that this year, I had a whole different style in mind. And I pointed to a display of dresses as an example of what I meant. And the next thing I knew, I was trying one on--and then going for the wallet. How easy was that? (Specifics of the dress not to be revealed yet!)

And amusing to me is the Minnesota connection: The ABC’s of Kissing Boys takes place in Minnesota, and now I’ve purchased the dress there, too! Yes, I am silly and sentimental about things like that!

Has anyone else been to or heard about the Mall of America?

Monday, June 14, 2010

What's Fresh with Wendy Toliver's Lifted!

Being bad never felt so good.

Poppy Browne never stole anything in her life before moving to Pleasant Acres and meeting Mary Jane and Whitney. But when Poppy walks out of the mall with her two new friends and her first pair of stolen jeans, she's hooked.

Before long, Poppy is lifting whenever she gets the urge—it's never about the merchandise, it's always about the thrill. But when her secret gets out, Poppy's clique turns on each other. As she watches her life collapse around her, Poppy must decide where her loyalties lie...and how far she'll go to protect herself.

Hello Wendy, always a pleasure to chat with you! Please tell us about your latest novel Lifted.

Wendy: Hi Kelly! Thanks so much for having me today! My book is called Lifted. June 8, 2010 was its release date and it’s published by Simon Pulse. It’s about a girl who moves to a very religious Texas town and gets involved in a shoplifting clique.

Sounds very cool! What was the most difficult part of writing this novel?

Wendy: I think the most difficult part was transitioning from writing funny, romantic stories and taking on a story that’s more complicated, edgy, and emotional. Poppy is a very deep, complex character and it took a lot of research and thinking on my part to bring her to life.

Could you tell us what type of promotion you or your publisher are doing for your novel?

Wendy: We made a fun little trailer and I’m making purse-sized hand sanitizer gels (my friend Anna came up with the idea, “sticky fingers” – get it?) to hand out at book signings or whatever. Speaking of book signings, I have lots of trips planned for this summer so I’ll be doing lots of them in various states. Other than those things, I’m just playing it by ear!

haha, how fun! Please list one similarity and one difference between yourself and your main character.

Wendy: We both have had a supposed friend who did something terrible to us. One difference is Poppy and her mom have a very strained relationship whereas my mom and I are the best of friends.

Thank you again for sharing, Wendy, could you please tell us one of your favorite lines from the book?

Wendy: Sure! “If He forgives people for murdering their own kids or burning down entire villages or creating ghastly computer viruses, He’ll forgive you.”

Born in Texas, raised in Colorado, and now living in Utah, Wendy Toliver has successfully eliminated “y’all” from her vocabulary. However, she still managed to marry a pickup man. They have three young sons and an assortment of furry, scaly, and slimy pets. She is the author of three novels for teens: The Secret Life of a Teenage Siren, Miss Match, and Lifted. Visit her website www.wendytoliver.com.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Off on a Short Vacay!

I am off on a five day vacation--with one of the pluses being nice uninterrupted reading time!

In my purse for the outbound flight will be Jennifer Echols’ GOING TOO FAR, because a) I’ve been wanting to read it forever, and b); it will complete my read of all the books that are up for the 2010 Rita® for Young Adult Romance. (And FYI, they have been all great fun...and I am so excited to see/meet the authors in Orlando at the national conference next month!)

So what I need is a book or two for the rest of the trip. I'd love it if you'd shout out some titles of some YA novels that you’ve recently enjoyed!

Monday, June 07, 2010

Randomly Fresh Winner!!

Many thanks to our returning readers and for those of you who keep chatting with us. :) And the winner for the latest Randomly Fresh Giveaway is....


Jessica has chosen Cyn Balog's Fairy Tale!

Congrats, Jessica! Please contact me with your mailing address and I'll get your book out to you!

Happy Reading!


Friday, June 04, 2010

Randomly Fresh Giveaway Time!!

It's Random.
It's Fresh.
It's a Giveaway.
For visitors who comment on YA Fresh.
With a choice from 3 books.
Did I mention it's random?

For visitors...who have commented anytime from May 1st to June 3rd, 2010. Leave a comment to win one of these fresh books...

Winner will be chosen Monday, June 7th, 2010!!

Happy Commenting!!

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Mexican Ice Cream

A couple of weeks ago we celebrated Ice Cream Week here at YA Fresh...just 'cuz we love ice cream!

Well, this past weekend, among my celebrations of Memorial Day was a party that included a super-yummy treat, Mexican Ice Cream, something I've had in Mexican restaurants as Fried Ice Cream.

When I got to asking the teenage girl about how she'd made it, I was delighted to learn that there was no frying involved in her version. In fact, it was easy. Which is a very good thing since not only do I like to keep my frying to a minimum, but my cooking, too!

Mexican Ice Cream

a tub of vanilla ice cream
2 cups cornflakes
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 white sugar
3 tablespoons cinnamon

Scoop ice cream into 12 balls and put on cookie sheet. Freeze for at least an hour.

Crush corn flakes; set aside.

Mix brown sugar with white sugar, add tablespoons cinnamon.

Roll ice cream balls in cornflakes, then in sugar mixture.

Freeze for at least another hour.

Retrieve from freezer, serve and enjoy! We definitely did!