Thursday, March 8, 2012

Let Me Explain Why WANDERLOVE Is Now One of My All-Time Favorite Books (+ Giveaway)

As soon as I wrote that title, I realized I wasn't entirely sure how I would go about this explanation, any more than I could fully explain why I really love a fresh-out-of-the-fryer cheese empanada rolled in sugar. Everything about it just makes me...happy.

But I know. That's a lame answer. So I'll do my best. Bear with me.

Also, scroll down below the review to enter to win a SIGNED Hardcover of WANDERLOVE.

WANDERLOVE by Kirsten Hubbard

Goodreads summaryIt all begins with a stupid question: 

Are you a Global Vagabond? 

No, but 18-year-old Bria Sandoval wants to be. In a quest for independence, her neglected art, and no-strings-attached hookups, she signs up for a guided tour of Central America—the wrong one. Middle-aged tourists with fanny packs are hardly the key to self-rediscovery. When Bria meets Rowan, devoted backpacker and dive instructor, and his outspokenly humanitarian sister Starling, she seizes the chance to ditch her group and join them off the beaten path. 

Bria's a good girl trying to go bad. Rowan's a bad boy trying to stay good. As they travel across a panorama of Mayan villages, remote Belizean islands, and hostels plagued with jungle beasties, they discover what they've got in common: both seek to leave behind the old versions of themselves. And the secret to escaping the past, Rowan’s found, is to keep moving forward. 

But Bria comes to realize she can't run forever, no matter what Rowan says. If she ever wants the courage to fall for someone worthwhile, she has to start looking back. 

Kirsten Hubbard lends her artistry to this ultimate backpacker novel, weaving her drawings into the text. Her career as a travel writer and her experiences as a real-life vagabond backpacking Central America are deeply seeded in this inspiring story.


Do you remember when you first fell in love with reading? The book that did that for you? And then how every time you went to the library or to the book store, you tried to find more books just like that, to reproduce that feeling you had while reading THE book?

WANDERLOVE was like that for me. It gave me that same little thrill, the one that makes you forget it's just a book and that the characters and the places, while they may be real somewhere, are not, in fact, real real. It's the kind of book that you dive into and can't quite put down even though the number of pages are quickly dwindling, meaning your story is going to come to an end soon so it's making you crazy. There's just something about Kirsten Hubbard's books--I don't know what it is exactly--but it's a certain kind of magic, I think, that makes you forget the rest of the world while you're reading. Her LIKE MANDARIN was like this, too, although in a very different way. WANDERLOVE is..I don't know, lighter, I think. 

Romantic? Funny? Sweet?

Yes. All of these things. And yet WANDERLOVE doesn't feel like a rom com. While I cracked up at Bria and Rowan's brilliant banter and curled my toes and grinned like an idiot at the developing romance, there was a depth of emotion beneath it all that makes the story feel rather profound. Bria and Rowan are two lost souls, though they don't really think they are. It's not until they come together in the process of escaping their demons that they realize the past is not something that can be so easily shed simply by ignoring it--that they have to stop running from it in order to truly leave it behind and find themselves in the process.

Bria and Rowan are the type of characters that just jump off the page. Such distinct and vivid personalities, so easy to envision. Rowan is the kind of person that others gravitate to, confident in his own skin, content without outside validation; while Bria is the kind of person so many of us are, just waiting for the right moment and a degree of strength to discover the Rowan within ourselves. And yet as different as Bria and Rowan are, they play off of one another so beautifully--they just click, bonding over a similar (hilarious) sense of humor. I wish I could post a few lines from the ARC just so you could see for yourself.

And the setting...dang. Such lush, vivid imagery, it's like watching a movie unfold within the printed text of WANDERLOVE. Hubbard somehow seems to know exactly which details to insert that will have you feeling by the end of a chapter as if you have just visited a place. As if you have just touched, tasted, smelled, and soaked in the sights and sounds of Central America--and through Bria's eyes, it makes you feel as if you, too, have been transformed. After reading WANDERLOVE, I was ready to book tickets to Guatemala and Belize. Oddly enough, I even felt like I could go with nothing but a backpack and sandals and no itinerary.

Like I said, it makes you feel transformed.

WANDERLOVE is filled with hope and redemption and longing and heartbreak. But also with spirit and passion and beauty and joy. It is more than just a novel of unforgettable adventures. It is an unforgettable adventure in itself. WANDERLOVE is a book I know I will return to.

WANDERLOVE will be available March 13, 2012.


And because I loved WANDERLOVE so much, I'm offering you a chance to win a SIGNED Hardcover copy. Just click on the link below to enter!


This giveaway is international and ends Thursday, March 15, midnight EST. You must be 14 years old to enter. If you win, you will need to provide an address for shipment. Under 18's must have parent/guardian permission to enter.




Be sure to check out what the other Bookanistas are raving about today:

Christine Fonseca  interviews PIECES OF US author Margie Gelbwasser

Carolina M Valdez adores WANDERLOVE - with giveaway

Megan Miranda celebrates SLIDE – with giveaway

Jen Hayley takes a shine to STARTERS


Tracy Banghart  gives a shout-out to SHUT OUT

Jessica Love wonders at WANDERLOVE


The winner of the signed Hardcover of WANDERLOVE by Kirsten Hubbard is:

Bookish in a Box

Congratulations on your win! Please email me an address to which I can send your awesome signed hardcover. Thanks so much to all who entered! I'll try to post a new giveaway soon.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Challenge Me, Baby

I have twenty-two tabs up on my Chrome browser, seven nonfiction books spread out around me on my bed, five Word documents open, an empty box of Honey Combs at my feet, and eleven cans of Coke Zero on my nightstand.

And this means? (*curls toes* *squeals*) I've started writing a new book.

So don't send in the Hoarders crew just yet. I'll clean up in a few weeks.

But oh man. What an amazing feeling to start a new project. Yeah, I'm still revising/rewriting a manuscript I wrote before my last project, but there comes a point where your brain struggles to absorb what you're looking at. And your old book's playlist starts to grate on your nerves like corduroy on dry hands (maybe this is just me?) As much as I love my oldish story, I really struggle to deny myself shiny, new things. But this new story isn't just a shiny, new plaything.

It's like...okay, so the last few weeks, numerous people have asked me, "So whatcha you working on now?" And then I would say, "Well...I have this new idea," and so on, which would lead to me giving a sort of one sentence pitch, and then their eyes would widen and their mouths would kind of round out into O's, sometimes they would drool and squeak and stuff, and after enough times of this, I got to thinking, maybe...I should start writing this thing.

But this idea is freaking hard to execute. If I manage to pull it off, it will be the most challenging story I've ever written. I've put so many hours just into the research--most of which won't actually make it into the story itself, but which is so essential for me to understand this character and establish a strong voice. And the research is ongoing (hence the twenty-two Chrome tabs and seven nonfiction books [and five more books on order]). It's also a story that will involve some experimental writing methods for me. Don't get me wrong, it might turn into crapsnot. But those widening eyes and squeaks of "OhmygodIwanttoreadthatrightnow" are rather encouraging. I have to at least give it a shot.

But, also? I need to keep pushing myself as a writer. I've been writing for nearly twenty years now. I know, shoot me. So, by now, I've got a good handle on the mechanics of writing. I've got a good sense of my authorial voice. It's not that I've learned HOW TO WRITE PERIOD. It's that I've learned HOW I WRITE PERIOD. I mean, writing is still mad hard, you know? Drains me to tears sometimes. And I still need other people to tell me how schnitty my drafts are and what needs rewritten and/or flushed down the toilet before someone pukes reading it. But I've learned craptons about drafting and revision--and most importantly, what methods work best for me. It's sort of like when you hit your thirties, in that you begin to have a sense of who you are. Well, after so many years of practicing and changing things up and testing myself, I now have a pretty good sense of who I am as a writer. And holycrap that's an awesome realization.

But it's also kind of...stifling. Because 1. I get bored easily. 2. I work best under pressure. 3. I am the greatest me when I'm being challenged. Because of this, I have an obligation as an (*quote fingers*) artiste to challenge myself constantly lest I get swallowed up by the fugging slimy Kraken of Artistic Apathy. It is too easy to get lost in the whoredom of commerce, my friends (and I mean this in the Biblical sense*). Too easy to forget the art behind the sale, the story behind the book, the beauty in creating anew. Yadda yadda. The point is when I first started writing, it was because I It was not to publish or make money or friends--or to write the same old schnit. The only way to remind myself of this--to not get lost in the swirling abyss (and potential trauma) of publication--is to make sure that every new book I write outdoes the last one. There's no guarantee this will happen, but just the attempt keeps my head on straight--i.e. makes me forget to stop refreshing my email and nagging my agent to no end and dreaming about my own theme park. Also, it helps me forget about Snooki procreating.

*as in idolatry, yeah?

P.S. The winner of the signed hardcover of UNDER THE NEVER SKY by Veronica Rossi has been posted HERE.