Monthly Archives: July 2013

Review of Insurgent by Veronica Roth


One choice can transform you—or it can destroy you. But every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves—and herself—while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love.

Tris’s initiation day should have been marked by celebration and victory with her chosen faction; instead, the day ended with unspeakable horrors. War now looms as conflict between the factions and their ideologies grows. And in times of war, sides must be chosen, secrets will emerge, and choices will become even more irrevocable—and even more powerful. Transformed by her own decisions but also by haunting grief and guilt, radical new discoveries, and shifting relationships, Tris must fully embrace her Divergence, even if she does not know what she may lose by doing so. Continue reading


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New Poll: Upcoming YA movie adaptations! Which are you most excited for?


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Why Richard Swier’s Attack on Speak is Detrimental to Society

Parents at Laurel Nokomis Middle School in Sarasota, Florida became outraged when they learned their children were reading the child pornography book Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. Speak is about a 13-year old being raped. –Dr. Richard Swier

I made a vow to myself when I started this blog that no matter what the temptation might be, I will not stray from the purpose this blog was original set up for. I have personal blogs to discuss politics, movies, and education outside of the reading spectrum, and as such I wanted to keep Bray and Books strictly about fostering the love of reading through interviews, book reviews, and video blogs all centered around books. It’s a relatively simple task for somebody such as myself, as I am very passionate about my reading (and hope to one day invoke a passion for reading in my students once I have students). Unfortunately, that resilience has been tested today, and I’ve allowed myself a pass into the world of politics on this blog because, in this case, the world of literacy and politics have clashed horrifically. Continue reading


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Review of Another Year or Two by Robin Stephen!


Lara lives in the small town of Turnpost, South Dakota. She’s not sure why she started writing a blog. In 2002, it’s just the thing to do. She’s not the only one blogging. Follow five characters in different walks of life as their paths overlap (or just miss each other) in a variety of ways. A story about unexpected connections and the difficulty of change, “Another Year or Two” is a charming, multilayered glimpse into the thoughts of people who have no idea who is reading what they post.

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Interview with Author Robin Stephen!


Robin Stephen is the author of Another Year or Two. Look for the review of the book coming soon!

Let’s start by getting to know you a bit. What can you tell us about who Robin Stephen is?

My mom jokes I was born fully formed. I was obsessed with reading and writing and horses as a kid. That’s never really changed. I’m a highly self-motivated person, and I guess I’ve always been pretty focused on doing the things I think are worth doing and avoiding the rest. I’m married to a wonderful man who supports all my passions and shares them with me. I’ve been able to build a life around the things I love. I feel really lucky about that.

What was it like publishing your book as a relatively new author? Was it difficult to break out into the world of the published?
I had my obligatory years of form rejections gradually morphing into asks for pages. It is tiring and draining, of course, but I am so glad my first novel got rejected repeatedly. That’s what pushed me to focus on craft for so many years. I thought my books were ready to see the light of day long, long, long before they really were.
Being a new author is definitely difficult. The part I didn’t understand is how much work it is to promote a new book. I should have started building my platform years ago, but I never felt comfortable telling people I was a writer until I had something to show for it. So far my book has received a fair bit of positive feedback, which is gratifying, but I still have a small reach. It’s a journey… I’m learning the ropes as I go.
What do you do to get yourself writing?
I give myself a schedule, and rules. I write first thing in the morning, and I have a required word count (which varies depending on what I’m writing). Currently I’m writing the third book in a fantasy trilogy. This means I get to hang out with characters I know pretty well, so the writing goes fast. My daily quota is 1500 words for this kind of work. When I’m rewriting or refining I spend the same amount of time on less words.
Another Year or Two is unique in its set-up. What made you want to tell this story through blog entries?
I started this work as an exercise in voice. I don’t really remember how I came up with the idea. I wanted to practice writing in the first person, and challenge myself to do it as many different people. I didn’t even know how long I would keep it up, but I got really sucked in and attached to the town and my characters. I never thought this would be my first published novel, but it all came together in a way that surprised even me.
How difficult was it to write from so many characters’ perspective?
It was harder for some characters than others. Madison, for instance, wrote herself. Casey was the hardest. Getting him to come through consistently and in a way that felt realistic was definitely a challenge. I spent a lot of time developing their little tics. I had a short list of rules for each of them – what kind of sentences they use, how they punctuate, any words they consistently misuse or grammatical errors they make repeatedly. After I wrote each post I’d go back and refine it as much as possible for that character.

There’s a lot of heart in this book, and it’s so interesting to see the same town from the lenses of different ages and genders. Which character was your favorite to write?

Madison was my favorite, because she was so fun and easy. I also enjoyed working on Kyle’s posts, because those were always an exercise in saying as much as possible with the fewest words. The other thing I had a lot of fun with was the comments sections, and the way the characters interacted with each other directly on the page.
Lastly, what’s some advice you’d like to give some of our future writers reading this?
I wish I’d known sooner how important it is to spend time rewriting, and to take revisions seriously. I had written quite a few full-length novels before I ever rewrote one, and it wasn’t until I did so that I started to understand what separates something anyone can bang out given enough time from a well-crafted story.
And don’t forget reading. I am careful about what I read when I’m writing. Having a good writer in your head will elevate your craft, but the opposite is also true.


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Graphic Novels are a go! Why YOU should be reading graphic novels

Amanda and I talk about our favorite graphic novels, the different kinds of graphic novels, what books we’d love to see as graphic novels, and why you should read graphic novels (and why they aren’t just for kids!). We had some technical difficulties with the camera switching back and forth, but it’s still worth a watch!


July 7, 2013 · 10:33 pm

Review of Ascendant by Rebecca Taylor



When I was twelve, my mother disappeared. I was the first person to never find her.

I’m sixteen now and she has never been found, alive or dead. I’m not the girl I should have been.

When Charlotte Stevens, bright but failing, is sent to stay at her mother’s childhood home in Somerset England her life is changed forever. While exploring the lavish family manor, Gaersum Aern, Charlotte discovers a stone puzzle box that contains apentagram necklace and a note from her mother-clues to her family’s strange past and her mother’s disappearance. Charlotte must try to solve the puzzle box, decipher her mother’s old journals, and figure out who is working to derail her efforts-and why. The family manor contains many secrets and hidden histories, keys to the elegant mystery Charlotte called mom and hopefully, a trail to finding her. Continue reading

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We’re YA and We’re OK.

We’re YA and We’re OK..


Amanda (from Amanda’s Nose in a Book), Sarah and I did a post on our love for Young Adult literature. Check it out on her blog, and come back here for Sunday Night Chats! Also, check out Sarah’s cool YouTube video Read Me Maybe! It’s linked on Amanda’s post and it’s great!

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Character Shipping

Amanda (from Amanda’s Nose in a Book) and I talk about shipping at your request!

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July 1, 2013 · 8:43 pm

Google Hangout

Sign in with google+ and join a video chat with me and Amanda! The topic is about shipping.

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July 1, 2013 · 7:57 pm