Ontario Teen Book Fest Blog Tour: Author Spotlight on Robin Reul

Hi, guys! I'm back for the last day of the OTBF Blog Tour! I'm so glad I got to participate in the tour this year because I love Teen Book Fest. Thanks to the lovely Sara Santana for having me on board! 

This year's OTBF is on Saturday March 25th at Colony High School (3850 E. Riverside Drive, Ontario, CA 91761)  from 9 am to 5 pm. It is a completely free and unticketed event that is a full day of fun to hang out with authors and make new friends! The event is also sponsored by Once Upon a Time Bookstore. They will have books available for purchase at the event. There will also be t-shirts and posters available for purchase as well. 

This year's blog tour follows all 21 of the participating OTBF authors, and I'll be spotlighting two of them. My interview with Jeff Garvin went live earlier this week, and you can check that out here. Today's author spotlight is on Robin Reul, another 2016 debut author.  Be sure to follow the rest of the blog tour, including today's stops and all previous stops, for other interviews; the schedule - with blog links - will be included at the bottom of the post. Now it's time to get to know Robin Reul! 

About Robin Reul: 

Robin Reul has been writing since she was in early elementary school, when she used to make her own book club flyers for her classmates and then pen them original stories. Though she grew up on movie sets and after graduating Boston University she worked for many years in the film and television industry both as an actress and in motion picture development, she ultimately decided to focus her attention on writing young adult novels. She likes to write the same kinds of stories she loved as a teen: the ones that give her with butterflies in her stomach and are filled with quirky, memorable characters who stay with the reader long after the story ends. When she’s not writing, Robin can be found singlehandedly driving up the profit margin of her local Starbucks and indulging her love of baked goods, particularly those in the key of pumpkin. She lives in Los Angeles suburbia with her husband, son and daughter.  


About My Kind of Crazy

Despite the best of intentions, seventeen-year old, wisecracking Hank Kirby can’t quite seem to catch a break. It’s not that he means to screw things up all the time, it just happens. A lot. Case in point: his attempt to ask out the girl he likes literally goes up in flames when he spells “Prom” in sparklers on her lawn…and nearly burns down her house. 

As if that wasn’t bad enough, Peyton Breedlove, a brooding loner and budding pyromaniac, witnesses the whole thing. Much to Hank’s dismay, Peyton takes an interest in him—and his “work.” The two are thrust into an unusual friendship, but their boundaries are tested when Hank learns that Peyton is hiding some dark secrets, secrets that may change everything he thought he knew about Peyton.  



A Conversation with Robin Reul (my questions will be bolded and Robin's answers will be in normal type): 

1.    Describe My Kind of Crazy in seven words or less.

Failed fiery promposal leads to unusual friendship

2.    My Kind of Crazy is your debut novel. Did you always know you wanted to be a writer?

Yes, I have wanted to be a writer since I was three years old. By the time I was thirteen I’d written seven novels and had the good fortune of meeting with an Executive Editor at Putnam about one of them. However, it wasn’t until much later in my life that I would have the time and the focus to be able to pursue writing full-time.

3.    Where did your inspiration come from?

When I was a teenager, I felt like I was always on the outside of things and was dealing with a lot of stuff. I had a friend who saw that I was struggling and she reached out to me and was there for me. She never tried to minimize what I was feeling or fix me - she just listened. She was killed by a drunk driver when we were both seventeen, and I’ve carried the story of that friendship connection and the layers of loss and grief and the stories we tell ourselves to get by in my heart but never knew quite how to tell it. Then one day while I was working on an entirely different project, the complete first chapter of the book showed up in my head and I switched gears and wrote it. And by the end of Chapter Two I knew I’d found the story’s voice through Hank and Peyton.

4.    Which of your characters do you believe is the most like yourself?

There are aspects of myself in both Hank and Peyton but if I had to pick one I would say Hank. We both tend to hide behind humor and undervalue ourselves more than we should. We both believe that there is good in this world and that it often lies in unexpected places and sources. We’ve both known what it feels like to be broken and to discover that we are stronger than we realized.

5.    Which scene in My Kind of Crazy would you Iike to see translated on screen?

Without question the opening scene where Hank’s promposal goes south quickly. From the setting up of the sparklers to the escalating situation with the fire as things go awry lends itself to so much fun imagery and humor.

6.    Sort your characters into Hogwarts houses.

Hank is definitely a Hufflepuff – loyal, hard-working, modest about his accomplishments, friendly. I would say Peyton is a Slytherin – she’s all about self-preservation, cunning, resourcefulness. Nick seems like a Gryffindor to me – courageous, daring, chivalrous. And lastly, I would say Monica is probably a Ravenclaw – she’s pure wit, wisdom, creativity and individuality.

7.    What, if anything, can you tell us about your upcoming books or current writing projects?

I have another book tentatively slated to come out Spring 2018 with Sourcebooks but I’m not at liberty to say much about it at this point other than it will be another contemporary YA stand alone with humor and heart that takes place over the course of one night with a ticking clock in the background about two semi-strangers who decide to not leave their destinies entirely up to destiny.

8.   Finally, this won't be your first year at OTBF. What is the aspect of the event that you most enjoyed last year, and what are you excited about this year?

Honestly, last year’s OTBF was my favorite event of last year, and not just because it was my first one ever and my book debuted there three weeks before it went on sale, which was really exciting. Courtney Saldana and her team that puts on the OTBF are the best. It’s a really well-coordinated event and the love and thought put into it shows, both for the authors and the attendees. Everyone is enthusiastic and excited to be there, and the panels are so interesting and fun. Last year, I was a moderator but this year I’m excited and honored to be on two panels alongside some of my favorite authors.

Thanks so much for being on the blog, Robin! I hope you have a great time at #OntarioTBF! And I hope all you fellow SoCal readers can make it to the event! 

Blog Tour Schedule

March 15th:
Spotlight on Romina Russell - The Consummate Reader
Spotlight on E. Katherine Kottaras - 
Book You Very Much 

March 16th:
Spotlight on Catherine Linka - What A Nerd Girl Says
Spotlight on BT Gottfred - 
My Fangirl Chronicles 

March 17th:
Spotlight on Elana K Arnold - Read Now Sleep Later
Spotlight on Sara Elizabeth Santana - 
Starkiller Readers

March 18th:
Spotlight on Gretchen McNeil - Adventures of a Book Junkie
Spotlight on Charlotte Huang - 
A Traveling Book 

March 19th:
Spotlight on KM Walton - Recently Acquired Obsessions
Spotlight on Jeff Garvin - 
Reading Over Sleeping 

March 20th:
Spotlight on Jessica Brody - A Reader's Antidote
Spotlight on Aditi Khorana - 
Read Now Sleep Later

March 21st:
Spotlight on Ann Stampler - Movies, Shows and Books
Spotlight on Nicole Maggi - 
My Fangirl Chronicles

March 22nd:
Spotlight on Julie Buxbaum - A Traveling Book
Spotlight on Cindy Pon - 
Book You Very Much 

March 23rd:
Spotlight on Martina Boone - Movies, Shows and Books
Spotlight on Mary Weber - 
What A Nerd Girl Says

March 24th:
Spotlight on Jessica Love - Nite Lite Books
Spotlight on Lilliam Rivera - 
Starkiller Reads
Spotlight on Robin Reul - 
Reading Over Sleeping



Ontario Teen Book Fest Blog Tour: Author Spotlight on Jeff Garvin

Hey, all! Long time no see. Sorry I've been MIA - life has been crazy lately. But I'm back for spring break, and I'm so excited to announce that I'm a blogger for this year's Ontario Teen Book Fest Blog Tour! I've been attending this event for the past two years, and though I can't attend this year, I'm glad to participate in this way. 

This year's OTBF is on Saturday March 25th at Colony High School (3850 E. Riverside Drive, Ontario, CA 91761)  from 9 am to 5 pm. It is a completely free and unticketed event that is a full day of fun to hang out with authors and make new friends! The event is also sponsored by Once Upon a Time Bookstore. They will have books available for purchase at the event. There will also be t-shirts and posters available for purchase as well. 

This year's blog tour follows all 21 of the participating OTBF authors, and I'll be spotlighting two of them. Today's author spotlight is on Jeff Garvin, a 2016 debut author whose book I adored. Be sure to follow the rest of the blog tour, including previous stops, for other interviews; the schedule will be included at the bottom of the post. Now it's time to get to know Jeff Garvin!

About Jeff Garvin:

Jeff Garvin grew up in Orange County, California, the son of a banker and a magician. He started acting in high school, and enjoyed a fifteen-year career including guest-starring roles in network television series ranging from The Wonder Years to Roseanne to Caroline and the City, as well as several independent features.

While studying at Chapman University, Jeff won awards for classical guitar and visual storytelling before graduating with a BFA in Film. As the front man of his rock band, 7k, Garvin released three albums and toured the United States. When the band dissolved in 2011, Jeff, who had always written short stories and lyrics, found his passion in full-length fiction.

His debut novel, SYMPTOMS OF BEING HUMAN, tells the story of Riley, a 16-year-old gender fluid teen who starts an anonymous blog to deal with hostility from classmates and tension at home. But when the blog goes viral, a storm of media attention threatens Riley’s anonymity. Coming February 2, 2016 from Balzer + Bray / HarperCollins.

Jeff lives in Southern California with his music teacher wife, their menagerie, and a respectable collection of books and guitars. 

About Symptoms of Being Human

The first thing you’re going to want to know about me is: Am I a boy, or am I a girl?

Riley Cavanaugh is many things: Punk rock. Snarky. Rebellious. And gender fluid. Some days Riley identifies as a boy, and others as a girl. The thing is…Riley isn’t exactly out yet. And between starting a new school and having a congressman father running for reelection in uber-conservative Orange County, the pressure—media and otherwise—is building up in Riley’s so-called “normal” life.

On the advice of a therapist, Riley starts an anonymous blog to vent those pent-up feelings and tell the truth of what it’s REALLY like to be a gender fluid teenager. But just as Riley’s starting to settle in at school—even developing feelings for a mysterious outcast—the blog goes viral, and an unnamed commenter discovers Riley’s real identity, threatening exposure. Riley must make a choice: walk away from what the blog has created—a lifeline, new friends, a cause to believe in—or stand up, come out, and risk everything. 

A Conversation with Jeff Garvin (my questions will be bolded, and Jeff's answers will be in regular type):

1.    You were very actively involved in the music scene before you were published. What made you want to make the switch to writing books instead of songs? And how does writing music compare to writing novels?

I loved being in a band, but touring kept me away from home for months at a time, and I missed my wife. So I decided to reinvent myself. I went back to my first diary and found the list of things I’d wanted to be when I grew up: Singer (did that,) Actor (did that,) Astronaut—I Googled it and decided there was too much math involved—and Novelist. I realized I could write a book without any equipment and without driving anywhere. The idea was very appealing. I roped a friend into doing NaNoWriMo with me, and I’ve never looked back.

For me, writing songs was more difficult than writing books. Song structure is less forgiving. You have to create a complete ride in three and half minutes, and while people might read ten pages of a book before they decide to stop or read on, you have about seven seconds to get people to fall in love with a song.

2.    Describe Symptoms of Being Human in seven words or less.

Secretly gender fluid teen blogger faces exposure

3.    Do you usually write to music? If so, what was on your playlist for Symptoms, and, if not, what would you put on a playlist about the book?

These days, I mostly write to a recording of a rainstorm. Sometimes I listen to ambient music like Moby, Boards of Canada, Random Rab, etc.

So much great music influenced the writing of Symptoms of Being Human; there’s a playlist of all the songs mentioned (or implied) in the book here.

4.    Riley is a genderfluid rockstar of an individual (and probably one of my favorite characters in YA ever). Where did you draw your inspiration to write about them from and what was your research process like?

Thanks so much for saying so! I’d describe Riley as the person I wish I’d been in high school. I think most of my main characters are parts of me, inflated with extra courage and disfigured by deeper flaws.

The inspiration to write Riley came from a court case in my county—a transgender student was suing the school district for the right to use the girls’ restroom at her high school. The response of some of my peers surprised me. One person actually said “Ew, it’s probably just some pervy boy who wants to see boobs.” I was flabbergasted by her reaction. To me, that transgender student was one of the bravest people I’d ever heard of.

I kept waking up thinking about that student. When I sat down to write, Riley’s first blog post came out: The first thing you’re going to want to know about me is: Am I a boy, or am I a girl? I thought it would be a challenge to write a character whose birth-assigned gender even I didn’t know. Fifty pages in, my writing group encouraged me to continue. Somehow, I got through the whole book. Along the way, I fell in love with Riley. I don’t know what it says on Riley’s birth certificate, and I don’t care. Hopefully, readers won’t either.

For research, I read as many scholarly articles as I could find—unfortunately, during the time I wrote the book, there was very little academic writing published about gender fluidity. Mostly I read about transgender demographic info and hate crime statistics. I did my most valuable research online, reading and watching first-person accounts by non-binary people struggling with gender dysphoria and lack of acceptance by their communities.

5.    What Hogwarts houses would your characters be sorted into and why?

Riley is obviously a Gryffindor because of their courage.
Bec is probably a Slytherin because she’s crafty and socially flexible.
Solo would likely be in Hufflepuff. He gets along with everybody.

6.    What, if anything, can you tell us about your future writing projects?

I’m working on another contemporary YA novel for Balzer + Bray. It’s not a Symptoms sequel, but there are threads between the two. It should be out sometime in 2018.

7.    And finally, you’re an Ontario TBF newbie. What are you most looking forward to about the event?

My favorite part of festivals is meeting readers. And since I’m a local, I hope to meet some folks who grew up in the area I wrote about in Symptoms and hear their stories.

Thanks so much for being here on Reading Over Sleeping, Jeff! I hope you have a wonderful time at OTBF! 

Blog Tour Schedule

March 15th:
Spotlight on Romina Russell - The Consummate Reader
Spotlight on E. Katherine Kottaras - 
Book You Very Much 

March 16th:
Spotlight on Catherine Linka - What A Nerd Girl Says
Spotlight on BT Gottfred - 
My Fangirl Chronicles 

March 17th:
Spotlight on Elana K Arnold - Read Now Sleep Later
Spotlight on Sara Elizabeth Santana - 
Starkiller Readers

March 18th:
Spotlight on Gretchen McNeil - Adventures of a Book Junkie
Spotlight on Charlotte Huang - 
A Traveling Book 

March 19th:
Spotlight on KM Walton - Recently Acquired Obsessions
Spotlight on Jeff Garvin - 
Reading Over Sleeping 

March 20th:
Spotlight on Jessica Brody - A Reader's Antidote
Spotlight on Aditi Khorana - 
Read Now Sleep Later

March 21st:
Spotlight on Ann Stampler - Movies, Shows and Books
Spotlight on Nicole Maggi - 
My Fangirl Chronicles

March 22nd:
Spotlight on Julie Buxbaum - A Traveling Book
Spotlight on Cindy Pon - 
Book You Very Much 

March 23rd:
Spotlight on Martina Boone - Movies, Shows and Books
Spotlight on Mary Weber - 
What A Nerd Girl Says

March 24th:
Spotlight on Jessica Love - Nite Lite Books
Spotlight on Lilliam Rivera - 
Starkiller Reads
Spotlight on Robin Reul - 
Reading Over Sleeping




Backlist Broadcast: Better off Friends

Backlist Broadcast is an original feature here at Reading Over Sleeping that is used to bring awareness back to books that have been out for awhile that don't get as much love as they used to. 

For this post, I'm highlighting Better off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg.

About Better off Friends (February 25th, 2014): 

For Macallan and Levi, it was friends at first sight. Everyone says guys and girls can’t be just friends, but these two are. They hang out after school, share tons of inside jokes, their families are super close, and Levi even starts dating one of Macallan’s friends. They are platonic and happy that way.

Eventually they realize they’re best friends — which wouldn’t be so bad if they didn’t keep getting in each other’s way. Guys won’t ask Macallan out because they think she’s with Levi, and Levi spends too much time joking around with Macallan, and maybe not enough time with his date. They can’t help but wonder . . . are they more than friends or are they better off without making it even more complicated?
  


I bought this at a Scholastic Warehouse Sale ages ago, and like so many of my books, it sat on my shelf for many moons before I got around to reading it, but oh my GOODNESS, once I got around to reading it, it was a one-sitting read for me because it was just so dang cute. I LOVE the friends to more trope, so I ate this up. I especially liked the bantering commentary between chapters and the fact that this takes place over the course of a few years instead of the standard few months or even days. Macallan and Levi are adorable. If you're ever in the mood for a cute, quick contemporary, check this out!

Have you read Better off Friends? Let me know what you thought!





2016 Best 16 Books


So 2016 has been quite the year. In the past almost 365 days, our world has dealt with a great many tragic losses, but I've also seen people band together and show love in the most amazing ways throughout the year. People show compassion and empathy in times of trouble, and that continues to amaze me.

This year has been full of both personal trials and triumphs. The most notable of those triumphs being that I committed to a college! I'll be attending Arizona State University at Tempe starting in August, and I'll be working towards my bachelors in Speech and Hearing Sciences. But, of course, while I struggled through the year, I turned to books to lift my spirits. I read a lot more than I anticipated this year. I surpassed by Goodreads goal, and I've read 106 books and I'm still going!

I've read so many incredible books this year, and here are my 16 favorites. (Books that were also published in 2016 are starred*, and all books are linked to Goodreads.)

In no particular order...



















16. Walk the Edge by Katie McGarry*


So that's all for this year! I'd love to know what books are on your lists. Feel free to let me know in the comments or tweet me @serenareads13! I'll see y'all in the new year!



Waiting on Wednesday: The Hate U Give

Waiting on Wednesday is a feature, hosted by Breaking the Spine, for bloggers to share upcoming releases they're eagerly anticipating. 

This week I'm waiting on:
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Expected Publication Date: February 28th, 2017

Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, Angie Thomas’s searing debut about an ordinary girl in extraordinary circumstances addresses issues of racism and police violence with intelligence, heart, and unflinching honesty.

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does—or does not—say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life. 

Angie Thomas is already such an important voice in the YA community, and her book isn't even out yet, so I honestly can't wait for The Hate U Give. Hers is a voice that needs listening to. This is a book the world needs right now. 

What are you waiting on this Wednesday? Let me know!


A Holiday Giveaway from Reading Over Sleeping

HELLO, WONDERFUL LOVELY BLOG FRIENDS. It's been a hot minute, but I'm feeling better than I have in forever. I needed a bit of a break because it wasn't as fun for me anymore, but now I'm back and excited to be here.

I hope you all had a lovely Thankgiving! As much as I love Thanksgiving (the food, the break from school, spending time with family), my absolute favorite holiday is Christmas. I love everything about Christmas time. I love the chill in the air and the music and the decorations and especially the gifts - both given and received. 

So in the interest of spreading holiday cheer, I'm having myself a merry little giveaway! 


This is both a fun Christmas giveaway and a hey-thank-you-for-still-following-my-blog-even-though-I-suck-sometimes-giveaway. I seriously am so thankful to this community and the friends I've made here, so I want to give back by giving away books I love. I'm giving away a paperback of Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson and a signed paperback of Pivot Point by Kasie West. Both of these are books I adore by authors that are some of my favorites in the YA scene, so I am more than happy to spread all the love for them. 


So here are the giveaway rules:
  • -Entrants must be 13 or older and/or have a parent's permission.
  • -Winner(s) will be chosen randomly using Rafflecopter.
  • -Entries that do not comply with the rules will be disqualified without notice, so don't try to cheat the system. 
  • The rest of my giveaway policies can be found in my Policies/Disclaimer tab

Enter below, and may the odds be ever in your favor! The giveaway ends December 17th. Wishing everyone the happiest of holiday seasons! And if the holidays are rough for you, I'm sending all the love your way.