Synchronized Reading: Roomies: Bonus Content (Part 2)

Hello Readers!

True story, when I reached out to author Tara Altebrando in regards to answering a few questions to participate in mine and Miss Print’s synchronized reading posts of Roomies, Tara asked if I would be interested in featuring some extra bonus content.  Obviously, I said yes!

Both Tara Altebrando and Sara Zarr have compiled a list of tips that will help with any Roomie-type situation.

“7 Ways to Not TURN Your ROOMIE INTO YOUR ENEMY

Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando, authors of ROOMIES, a new YA novel about two girls who are about to become freshman year college roommates, have some advice for peaceable cohabitation.

Be a Never Nude
Take a lesson from Tobias on Arrested Development and cover yourself. It’s great to be comfortable with your glorious, naked body, but don’t assume everyone else is. Keep a bathrobe handy, and sleep in something besides your birthday suit. (This also helps prevent awkward moments with floormates who might walk in without remembering to knock.)—SZ

Keep Your Sh*t Together
Literally. Like don’t think of the whole room as your kingdom. You should have an area/side that’s sort of “yours” and you should try to keep your stuff there. See the cover of Roomies as a model for living.—TA

The Nose Knows
You know what doesn’t smell good? Banana peels, the five-day-old last inch of your pumpkin spice latte, and Jean Nate body splash. Okay, probably no one wears Jean Nate body splash anymore, but science says that what smells amazing to one person (in perfume, lotions, hair products) can smell like “here comes my migraine” to another. Check in with your roomie about each other’s olfactory dealbreakers, and keep the room’s trash can clear of old food.—SZ

Me Talk Pretty One Day
Do not make fun of your new roommate’s accent, y’all! Newsflash: You have one, too!—TA

Baby You’re a Firework. Or ARE YOU?
I personally find this hard to believe, but not everyone loves Katy Perry. Or Macklemore. Or show tunes. Maybe you and your roommate can introduce each other to new exciting musical vistas, and wind up rocking out together to early 80s David Bowie and that experimental accordion group you love. Or maybe you can invest in a good pair of noise-cancelling headphones or earbuds.—SZ

You Snooze You Lose
I once had a roommate who would set her alarm for some ungodly hour and then hit snooze like ten times. Sometimes, actually, I’d be the one to walk in there and hit snooze. It wasn’t even waking her up! Respect sleep is what I’m saying. It’s all powerful.—TA

Don’t Get Even, Get Mad
A lot of us grow up learning to avoid conflict at all costs. This doesn’t actually work in creating healthy human relationships. If you’re mad at your roommate about something, go calm down, then say so directly when it’s a good time for both of you to talk. If you suppress it, it’s going to eventually come out in passive aggression or an epic blow-up. Productive conflict resolution is a great skill to start practicing now; you’ll need it your whole life, assuming you choose continue to interact with other human beings post-college.—SZ”

Thank You so much to Tara Altebrando for giving me the chance to, not only feature such an awesome piece of content here on the blog, but for also taking the time to answer a few questions.  Tara, seriously, you are AWESOME!!

 

 

Synchronized Reading: Roomies: Bonus Content (Part 1)

Hello Readers!

As you know Miss Print and I are wrapping up our synchronized reading – which is a semi-regular feature on both of our blogs – of Tara Altebrando and Sara Zarr’s co-authored novel Roomies.

Today is an exciting day on the blog. Why? Because I get to reveal part one of the bonus content I mentioned a few days ago.

Since I knew I would love Roomies, I thought it would be fun to feature (once again) Tara Altebrando here on The BookBandit Blog! And fortunately for us, Tara was so kind and so awesome to take time out of her busy schedule to answer a few questions.

As if that wasn’t enough, Tara also gave me the opportunity share some exclusive Roomies content with all of my readers.

So without further adieu ….

BookBandit Blog (BB): What was the inspiration behind Roomies?

Tara Altebrando (TA): Sara and I were already friends and fans of each others’ work when a few YA collaborations were announced in the trades. We thought it sounded like fun and talked about a few vague ideas. Then one day Sara said, “Just send me something.” So I sat down and thought about ideas that would work well for two voices and shot off an email to Sara. The content of that email was my character Elizabeth’s first email to a girl named Lauren, who was going to be her freshman year roommate at college. Sara wrote back with a scene about Lauren that ended with an email back to Elizabeth, and we were off and running.  I’m not sure if I’d been in touch with one of my college roommates right around then—we’re all still friends—but I’d been thinking that the summer before college was interesting territory to explore.

BB: You wrote Roomies by e-mailing chapters back and forth. What was it like writing without really knowing how half of the story would turn out? How did writing in collaboration compare to your usual writing process? With that, how did co-writing change your writing process?

TA: It was really fun to get Sara’s chapters and be surprised by what she was doing with the Lauren character’s arc. Because we were basically writing independent, parallel stories, we didn’t have to talk much (or at all) about where we were taking our stories, so it was a really fun, relaxed process. I am definitely less relaxed about my solo books! Writing with Sara was just way more fun than writing alone. I am not sure it has changed my typical process, but I genuinely loved collaborating. Being a novelist can be lonely!

BB: Did any real locations in New Jersey or San Francisco inspire the places you mentioned in your part of the story?

TA: My character lives in Point Pleasant, which is a real town on the Jersey Shore. But as is often the case, I found that it was easier to fictionalize specific places on the shore instead of trying to document the specific town. I wanted to capture the flavor of the area, not get bogged down in details.

BB: What was your favorite scene in Roomies to write? What scene of Sara’s did you enjoy reading most?

TA: I especially loved writing the scene where Elizabeth and Mark go to the boardwalk amusement park, right before she leaves for college. Anyone who has read my novels The Pursuit of Happiness or Dreamland Social Club knows that I’m a sucker for boardwalk amusement parks. I also enjoyed writing the scene where Elizabeth does a Zumba class with her mom, because it felt like a big turning point for them both. As for Sara’s scenes, I loved the scene where Lauren and her mother talk about what life might have been like if Lauren had been their only child, if they hadn’t gone on to have such a big family. It’s a tough, lovely conversation.

BB: Where do you see Lauren and Elizabeth at the end of freshman year together?

TA: Good question! We’re THINKING about writing another book that would answer that question. Not sure yet, though. So stay tuned!

BB: Can you tell us about any upcoming projects? Are there any other collaborations in your future?

TA: I’m really excited about my middle-grade debut, The Battle of Darcy Lane, which comes out in Mary. It’s about toxic tween friendships. I’m also really excited about a new YA I’m working on, which is sort of a memory thriller.

BB: What advice can you offer aspiring writers?

TA: Write write write. Read read read. And learn the craft so that your stories are never bogged down by amateurishness.

THANK YOU! To Tara Altebrando – not only for such an awesome read – but for taking the time out of her busy schedule to answer a few questions for The BookBandit Blog and for being a part of mine and Miss Print’s synchronized reading!

For more information about Tara Altebrando and Sara Zarr, check out their websites here and here!

 

Stacking the Shelves (2)

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(Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews. The above photo was taken and altered by me. Please do not take or “borrow” it.)

Hello Readers!

And welcome to my second Stacking the Shelves post! This week I’m going to be talking about some books that I received from the publisher Scholastic.

theboyproblem

The Boy Problem by Kami Kinard (Publishes April 2014)

swiftboys

The Swift Boys & Me by Kody Keplinger (Publishes May 2014)


starringjules

Starring Jules (Super-Secret Spy Girl) by Beth Ain (Published February 2014)

everydayangel

New Beginnings (Everyday Angel #1) by Victoria Schwab (Publishes May 2014)

I don’t know too much about these books. Wait! I’m lying I know a bit about New Beginnings since I’m a big Victoria Schwab fan. But either way, I’m excited to read all of these books!

Thank You Scholastic for being AWESOME and for sending me these books! I can’t wait to read them.

Synchronized Reading: Roomies: Vacation Memories

Hello Readers!

As you know Miss Print and I are in the midst of our synchronized reading of Roomies by Tara Altebrando and Sara Zarr.

At this point we’ve talking about our Last Summers & First Steps into college life. Yesterday we’ve posted our reviews, sharing our thoughts and feelings about this (awesome) book. And today, since both main characters Elizabeth and Lauren live in popular vacation spots, we thought it would be a lot of fun to talk about some of our favorite vacation memories.

I am not a world traveler, even though I have dreams of being one. But I have taken some awesome vacations. Today I’m going to talk about one of the funniest memories from a previous vacation.

One of the first vacations I went on – without my family that is – was when one of my most closest friend’s Danielle and I loaded into my car and drove twenty-five hours South. We drove straight through to Louisiana from New Jersey. It was a long ride, but ultimately a memorable one. We listened to Libba Bray’s Going Bovine (on audiobook obviously), we blasted our favorite music while the windows were rolled down and our hair was whipping around our faces. It was an extremely long ride – probably one I would never, ever do again – but it was a lot of fun.

After so many hours sitting in my roller skate of a car we finally pulled into our “hotel”* parked, swiftly unpacked, and collapsed into bed.  And the next day, when we woke, that’s when the fun began. We were in St. Francisville Louisiana for one reason: Myrtle’s Plantation – an antebellum plantation turned into B&B that has been named on of the most haunted places in America. Well, we were there for Myrtles and all of the other antebellum plantations this small Southern town had to offer.

But this part of the post isn’t going to be about those plantations. It’s going to be about a very specific memory from that vacation. But in case you were wonder, the plantations that St. Francisville offered were amazing! And if you have an interest, I would most definitely would recommend going. It was such a great experience.

So, before Danielle and I actually set out to tour some of the above mentioned plantations, we were getting ready to set out for the day. While Dee was busy getting ready I was busy reading Jon Skovron’s Misfit. When, out of the corner of my eye I spy some movement on the window. I ignore it with the hopes that it would crawl back out of whatever hole in the screen it came in by. I ignore it because I am not good with insects in general. Especially ones that appear to be on steroids and ones that can sting and/or bite. I ignore it still with the hopes that if I don’t draw attention to it, Dee will not notice it.

Well, Dee noticed it … and FREAKED! Her freaking out, lead to me freaking out. Which isn’t a really good combination. At this point I’m going to switch gears into the dialog that was exchanged between myself and closest friend Dee.

Dee: It’s a bitey bug! It’s a bitey bug! Kill it! I don’t know if I’m allergic to wasps (she yells as she tosses a bottle of Off Spray to me)

Me: Well, I don’t know if I’m allergic to it either!

Dee: Kill it! Kill it! Spray it with the Off!

(Seriously, Dee! What did you think I was doing with the Off Spray?!?)

Me: I am! But all is seems to be doing is disabling it from flying about. (And now that I think about it, I’m royally ticking it off.)

Dee: Here! (she says as she pelts a flip-flop at me. For the record Dee, that really hurt!) Kill it!

Me: I’m trying to!

Now at this point you need to remember I am not a tall person. I’m just a five foot tall girl whose arms are proportionate to my height. And I’m stretching as far as I possibly could trying to swat the wasp dead. When Dee noticed I was failing (miserably) at this our conversation took a different turn.

Dee: Call Kevin!

(Kevin, for the record, was either the hotel  manager and/or owner. It’s been several years since this trip and I’m still not one hundred percent sure of his role. But Kevin and I became fast friends after the bitey bug incident.)

Me: I’m not calling Kevin.

Dee: Call Kevin!

Me: I am NOT calling Kevin!  (yes, I’m still struggling to kill the giant wasp – and again I’m failing miserably. At this point it was crawling to the farthest corner of the window.)

Dee: Call Kevin!

Me: Fine! I’ll call Kevin. (I hate admitting defeat.)

Beep – boop – bop – beep- beep-boop-bop (that’s me dialing Kevin’s phone number if you couldn’t guess)

Kevin: Nicole in bungalow 5, how are you?

Me: Hi Kevin, there’s a wasp in our room. It won’t leave. Could you come over and take care of it?

Kevin: Sure.

Within a matter of seconds Kevin was knocking on our door.

Me: Hi Kevin. It’s on the window.  We tried killing it with Off Spray but it really didn’t do anything.

Kevin: ::laughs::

Dee: shuddering with fear next to me.

Kevin kills the bitey bug with ease. The bitey bug was dead, and was removed from our room within seconds. Kevin was our hero! And with the bitey bug out of room and out of our lives we were left to enjoy all that St. Francisville had to offer!

(* We really didn’t stay in a hotel. We stayed in a modernized 1950s bungalow. They were inexpensive and awesome! I’d stay there in a heart beat.)

Synchronized Reading: Roomies Review

 Roomies by Tara Altebrando & Sara Zarr

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Elizabeth:

As an only child living with her single mother at the Jersey Shore, Elizabeth has dreamed of he day when she can finally pack her bags and move clear across the country. So when she graduates high school, she realizes that her dreams are just a few months shy of becoming a reality. She’s been accepted into the University of Southern California.

No one understands why Elizabeth wants – needs – to do this, and she can’t quite articulate the reasons why either. All she knows is this: she needs a new start. One where there are no nagging mothers, no routine plans with the same routine friends she’s had since grade school, no familiarities. And college will give her just that.

There’s only one thing Elizabeth isn’t so sure about: her soon to be roommate.

Lauren:

Lauren, a recent high school graduate, cannot remember the last time she had a moment to herself. She’s can’t remember a time when she didn’t have to share her space, her bedroom, with one of her many siblings. But now that she’s been accepted into the University of Southern California all of her dreams of peace and relaxation are about to come true.

Going to the University of Southern California is Lauren’s chance to step away from … well, everything. College is Lauren’s chance to step away from her large family, her chance to examine her role within that family, and an even bigger chance to discover who she really when she isn’t standing in her family’s shadow.

So when she receives an e-mail from the school informing her that her single room request has been declined, Lauren is more than deflated.

But then Elizabeth, Lauren’s soon to be roommate e-mails her. And the more they e-mail the more excited both Lauren and Elizabeth become about sharing a living space and being Roomies.

Roomies is a realistic read co-written by authors Tara Altebrando and Sara Zarr.

Written by e-mailing chapters back and forth, the writing is strong and seamless. Judging from the writing along, readers will not necessarily know this – that just how fluid this book is. Each chapter, told from each character’s perspective flows gracefully from one to another.

Roomies is the kind of book that, not only captures readers attention, but it also will captures all of the reader’s emotions surrounding college and college life. Readers who are gearing up for the first college experience will easily relate to both Elizabeth and Lauren even though their own perspectives of college is vastly different. On the flip side, older readers who have already experienced college will be transported back in time.

When I first went away to college, I lived in the dorm. Like Elizabeth, as an only child I was a mixed bag of emotions – I was really excited to get to know my roommate – to be lifelong friends. But, like Lauren, I was terrified of sharing my personal space, terrifying to not having a peaceful moment to myself, what with sharing such a small space with a complete stranger. Relating to Roomies was easy.

Like authors Altebrando and Zarr, main characters Elizabeth and Lauren mainly communicate via e-mail. Readers will thoroughly enjoy their e-mail exchanges. Not just because they get the chance to witness the blossoming friendship between the two, but readers will also get the chance to fully understand who these two characters are by giving a closer glance at their individual live and feelings.

Altebrando and Zarr’s co-written novel Roomies is a great read. It’s one that readers will easily relate to, will laugh out loud to, and one that’s filled with characters that readers will connect to on a deeper, personal level. Do yourself a favor: pick up Roomies and read it!

Synchronized Reading: Roomies Post # 1 – Last Summers & First Steps

Hello Readers!

If you read my post last Friday than you already know that all this week both Miss Print and I will be posting about Tara Altebrando and Sara Zarr’s latest book Roomies. Today, on both blogs we will be discussing last summers and our first steps into college.

I had several college experiences. But my first one will always stand out to me.  I decided that I wanted to go away for college but not so far where I couldn’t get home in a pinch. So I decided to go to school in Virginia. Why? In short, it was far enough away from home, but still close to family.

With having decided on a college prior to leaving high school I thought my last summer home would be a breeze. I would work and spend as much time with my friends and family as humanly possible. And for the most part that’s what I did.

Since I was sixteen I worked every summer with the company in which my mother works for. There I was able to, not only gain job experience, but also had the chance to earn some extra money. At the time it was important to me to save as much as I could because I knew, for at least my first year, I didn’t want an on campus job. My first year at college I wanted to spend solely focusing on my education, and situating myself to this new college life. That summer  job gave me the chance to do exactly that.

Besides working, I spent as much time with my friends and my family – that meant going to a few concerts, and spending time at my families shore house at the Jersey shore with some of the most important people of my life.

Everything was as I planned, so when it was really time to leave, I didn’t think I would have a hard time.  Leaving my friends was hard, but leaving my family proved to be more difficult.

That last week before my mother and I packed the car and headed South I spent with my family at our shore house. I relaxed, I enjoyed being with the people who ultimately made me the person I was and still am, and I pushed all the emotions attached to leaving aside. Out of sight, out of mind, right?!

Well the week didn’t last long.  And I couldn’t push those feelings aside anymore. I was happy – happy to have been accepted into a college, happy to start this new chapter of my life. I was scared – scared to leave behind the familiar and step into the unfamiliar. I was scared of how my life would change, of how I would change. I was overwhelmed. Overwhelmed by the packing and the preparing, overwhelmed by all the feelings.  Ultimately, I was sad. Sad to say goodbye to all the people who matter most to me. I was sad even though I knew that I would see them again, even though I knew they were only a simple phone call away. I was sad because I knew it wasn’t going to be the same. And honestly,not only did it make me sad, it made me second guess my decision. Was going away the right choice?

But I pushed on because ultimately I knew that I was making the right choice for myself. And I knew, even though I was saying “goodbye” it really wasn’t goodbye at all. With all my feelings I realized that goodbye wasn’t goodbye. It was “see you later.” But still, I cried – big ugly tears – when I left. After all, not only was I leaving behind friends and family, I was leaving behind a whole life. I didn’t get to take that whole life with me, instead I had to pick and choose the important pieces to take with me.

Looking back, I realize now that I took those “first steps” before actually reaching the college gates. Those first steps were me, not physically, but mentally preparing myself for the next step in my life.  And if I didn’t mentally prepare myself, I honestly do not think I would have been physically ready to leave my hometown, my friends and my family, ultimately my life before college.

Going to college wasn’t easy, but it was step that I conquered.

 

 

 

Stacking The Shelves (1)

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(Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews. The above photo was taken and altered by me. Please do not take or “borrow” it.)

Hello Readers!

I decided to participate in another meme, and one that I am really excited for. I’m excited about it for several reasons. One: it’s new to me. I discovered this meme via another blog I follow (Alexa Loves Books), and once I read her post, I knew I had to get in on this action. Second: You know me, I just LOVE talking about all things books. And third: I figured why not? There is no good, logical reason why I wouldn’t participate in such a meme.

So, what is stacking the shelves? Basically, it’s a meme where participants talk about the books they have added to their bookshelves – physical and electronic. I have a lot of books, and I review them, but I never actually tell you why I buy them, or download them, etc.. This gives me a chance to do just that.

So this week, I’m going to be talking about a few books I bought recently for my shiny new Kindle Fire.  Now, I’m going to be honest: I bought these books a few weeks ago. But better share now rather than later, right?!?

thepromiseofamazing

The Promise of Amazing by Robin Constantine

This was a complete impulse buy. I’ve heard about The Promise of Amazing here and there, read a few reviews in various review journals, and have even seen in on my own library’s shelf. But I wasn’t sure. So what changed my mind? What made me impulsively purchase a book I was on the fence about? Well, I was flipping through my local newspaper and I came across an article about author Robin Constantine and her debut. Turns out Robin Constantine was born and raised in the same city I was born, raised, and currently reside in. And as if that wasn’t cool enough, turns out she’s a graduate of the same exact high school I graduated from. So, after finding this out, I knew I just had to support my town and my high school.

scintillate

Scintillate by Tracy Clark

Last November one of my bestest friends and I hopped into my car and drove to Charleston, South Carolina full of excitement over Yall Fest 2013. While at the actual event, while on-line to meet author Pseudonymous Bosch we met a very friendly lady named Tracy Clark. While chit-chatting about this and that she mentioned that her first book Scintillate was coming out. So when I saw that it was out, and it was only ninety-nine cents on Amazon I figured I would give it a whirl and support a new author.

whereninalies

Where Nina Lies by Lynn Weingarten

This book has been on my to read list since … forever. Where Nina Lies has Nicole written all over it.  Because of I wanted to read this for such a long time I thought it would be best to buy it and have it on deck for whenever I’m ready to sit down and read it.

mylifenextdoor

My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick

I’ve been curious about this book since it came out. But I’ve never got around to checking it out. So when it was Kindle Daily Deal for only $1.99 I figured what a perfect chance to give this book a whirl and satisfy my curiosity.

stealingheaven

Stealing Heaven by Elizabeth Scott

This is another book that has been on my to read list since forever. I first heard about this book when I was in grad school. I heard about it, and stored it in my memory banks for a later time since I had little to no time for pleasure reading while in grad school. Since I have more time on my hands, and I promised myself that I would get around to all those books I’ve been meaning to get around to, I bought it.

That’s all I have for this week, readers. But please, stay tuned for more Stacking the Shelves posts.