Wednesday, September 30, 2015

YASH Fall 2015


I am Jessica Khoury, author of the Corpus trilogy (Origin, Vitro, and Kalahari
and upcoming Aladdin retelling, The Forbidden Wish.

I'm your host on this YASH stop! WELCOME! 


YOU: What's the YA Scavenger Hunt and why are people losing their minds over it like fangirls at a One Direction concert?

ME: Because, beautiful reader, on this hunt, you not only get to read exclusive content from your favorite YA authors--you also get a chance to win a major fantastic prizes (like over 160 signed books yes you heard that right ONE HUNDRED AND SIXTY SIGNED BOOKS) and that's not even counting the extra giveaways you'll find on many of our blogs!!

YOU: But Jess, how do I win this glorious readers' booty?

ME: By hopping from blog to blog and collecting the secret numbers! You'll find each author's favorite number hidden in their YASH blog post, highlighted in BLUECollect all the numbers for my team (I'm on Team Blue!) and submit the total sum here on this nifty entry form, and hey presto! you're officially entered to win a year or two's worth of reading!

YOU: But what if I don't win?

ME: Lucky for you--there are eight simultaneous hunts going on (yes, you heard me--EIGHT!) and you can participate in either one, two, or if you're super-hardcore--ALL OF THE HUNTS! Collect the numbers from each hunt and submit them, and multiply your chances of winning!

YOU: OMG, JESS. LIKE SRSLY. Can this hunt get any more awesome?

ME: Dear hunter, it can. Each author has the option of hosting their own giveaway on their blog, so keep an eye out for extra chances to win extra books and swag! (PS. At the bottom of this post I am giving away some bedazzlement of my own--so be sure to enter!)

YOU: Okay, I'm in. Where do I start?

ME: Right here! You can begin your hunt on any participating blog, but for the full list of rules and authors and blogs and prizes, check out the YASH website here! The contest runs from Oct. 1 at noon to Oct. 4 at noon, PST. Small window of opportunity, my dear--you must be swift!

YOU: Is there any fine print to this? Cuz it seems too good to be true.

ME: Just this: Open internationally, and anyone under the age of 16 must have a parent or guardian's permission to enter. To be eligible for the grand prize, you must submit the completed entry form by Oct. 4 at noon PST. Entries sent without the correct number or without contact information will not be considered. Duplicate/multiple entries per team will be deleted and result in disqualification--so YES we are watching and YES cheaters will be eliminated!

YOU: Jess, these rules and info are a drag. Can I just start already?

ME: Jumpy little thing, aren't you? But YES. Enough talk. LET'S SCAVENGE! Scroll down to meet the author I am hosting, read her bonus content, find my secret number, and to get on your merry way! For more info on the hunt, check out the YASH homepage!


I am thrilled to be hosting Anne Heltzel, author of Charlie, Presumed Dead. 

(Wait... "presumed" dead? There's definitely a story here...)

(speaking of dead, that's what I felt like when I saw this gorgeous cover, y'all...)

The charming, jet-setting Charlie Price is presumed dead following a tragic plane crash. At his funeral, Charlie’s double life is exposed when his two girlfriends—Lena and Aubrey—collide. 
Reckless and glamorous, Lena Whitney believes Charlie is still alive, and she won’t rest until she’s found him. She and Aubrey Boroughs—a sheltered aspiring artist—team up on a journey across Europe and Asia to uncover the full extent of Charlie’s deception.
As a trail of Charlie’s lies carries them across continents, it’s the girls’ unlikely friendship that keeps them strong…until they each discover that the other has been harboring a destructive secret of her own. Can their fledgling bond survive Charlie’s final—and most insidious—betrayal?
This page-turning psychological mystery will engulf teen fans of Gillian Flynn and We Were Liars. 

HOT DAMN this sounds AMAZING, and not just because I loved Gone Girl. I love that this book features girl friendship, and you know I'm a sucker for globe-trotting stories! No wonder Kirkus said of Charlie: "Reminiscent of Gone Girl with its elaborate twists and edgy thriller that keeps the guesses coming until the last word."

And here is lovely Anne!

ANNE HELTZEL is a Brooklyn-based author and editor of children's books. Anne was born in Ohio, has been a voracious reader since the age of three, and credits her careers in publishing and writing (both lifelong dreams--just ask to see her childhood journal) to a serendipitous coffee shop conversation during her senior year of college. Anne was on a law school track until the aforementioned fateful conversation prompted her to switch gears and move to New York City, where she entered an M.F.A. program. In 2007 she began her first job in publishing. In 2008 she graduated from The New School with a master's degree in Writing for Children. Anne has since lived in India and Paris, and has taught writing and reading workshops in each of her former homes. More recently, she participated as a mentor in NYC's Girls Write Now program. When she is not writing, Anne is furiously (and passionately) editing novels for a Manhattan publishing house. She is represented by Stephen Barbara at InkWell Management. Anne also writes under the pseudonym Anna Collomore.

You can find Charlie, Presumed Dead for sale here!

Happy reading, Hunters!

And now for some BONUS CONTENT!! Woot woot!
Anne has for you a deleted scene from Charlie, Presumed Dead!

Charlie, Presumed Dead: Alternate Ending

For my personal giveaway, I am giving away this prize pack of four books: signed paperbacks of Origin and Vitro, plus ARCs of The Forbidden Wish and upcoming (amazing) fantasy Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton!

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Thursday, September 11, 2014

Vitro Paperback Cover

Vitro will be released in paperback on January 22nd, 2015--and here's a gorgeous new cover to go with it!!!!

I love the colors in this artwork and think it's such a perfect fit for the book, with the test tube in the title, the exotic setting, and a super cool new tagline! And it goes beautifully with the cover for Kalahari!

Pre-Order Vitro in Paperback!
barnes & noble | amazon | indiebound | book depository

On Skin Island, even the laws of creation can be broken.

On a remote island in the Pacific, Corpus scientists have taken test tube embryos and given them life. These beings—the Vitros—have knowledge and abilities most humans can only dream of. But they also have one enormous flaw.

Sophie Crue is determined to get to Skin Island and find her mother, a scientist who left Sophie behind years ago. With the help of Jim Julien, a young charter pilot, she arrives--and discovers a terrifying secret she never imagined: she has a Vitro twin, Lux, who is the culmination of Corpus's dangerous research.

Now Sophie is torn between reuniting with the mother who betrayed her and protecting the genetically enhanced twin she never knew existed. But untangling the twisted strands of these relationships will have to wait, for Sophie and Jim are about to find out what happens when science stretches too far beyond its reach.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Book Four Announcement!!!

Hi Everyone!!

I am SO SO SO SOOOOO EXCITED right now!! Because I get to announce something incredibly new and different and very very dear to me—my fourth book, which is currently UNTITLED (but I am working hard on changing that!!) It's with Razorbill/Penguin, like the last three books (hurray!! Penguin!! <3 <3 <3) and AHHHH let me tell you MOOOOORE!!

If you’ve read any of my previous books—Origin, Vitro, or Kalahari—the first thing you’ll need to know is: this book is nothing like those ones. It’s a complete departure from my earlier Sci-Fi, as I take a turn, well nose-dive really, into fantasy.

I ADORE high fantasy. It’s my favorite genre. I’ve been DYING to share my fantasy with you for years, guys, YEARS. And it’s finally happening and I CAN’T EVEN.

HANG ON A SEC. *Catches breath*

Where were we?

Right. So Book 4 is a retelling of the story of Aladdin told from the perspective of the genie--a girl named Zahra--who falls in love with Aladdin even as she is bound to grant his wishes to win the heart of a princess.

(I love love love this gif since it almost perfectly captures Zahra (except for the eye color), but can't find what it's from!! If you know, please tell me!)

It’s set in a Middle Eastern-esque world based on ancient Persian and Arabic culture, which is UBER EXCITING for me, because I got to delve into some of my heritage for research. For years my Syrian grandfather has been urging me to write something inspired by his homeland, and it's such a honor to finally get to do just that! Ancient Near Eastern culture is incredibly rich, fascinating, and complex, and I'm totally obsessed. And at the same time I'm thrilled to revisit one of my favorite stories from a completely new and exciting perspective.

 I've been working on this story as a pet project for a few years now, and Zahra has become very dear and real to me. I've never felt a character's voice so strongly, and to get to finally share her with you is A WISH COME TRUE. 

You’ll meet some familiar faces: the princess, the vizier, of course Aladdin. But they’ll be a little darker, a little grittier, and totally re-imagined, so you can live this beautiful story all over again in a new way. I’ve tried hard to maintain a balance between the familiar and the totally new in this story, so whether you’re looking for a faithful retelling or a reinvented fairytale, hopefully this will satisfy either!

But when will the book be out,? Well, no idea yet. I’m still very early in the writing process, but as SOON as I have an idea of a release time and title, you will be the first to know! =) Until then, all I can really leave you with is my Pinterest board of inspiration, a link to add the book to your Goodreads list, and a promise of more to come soon!

Monday, July 14, 2014

KALAHARI--Cover Reveal!

Hi guys! I'm so thrilled to share with you the cover for my upcoming book, KALAHARI! The book is scheduled to hit shelves next February, but one lucky winner will receive an early copy in the giveaway below!

Why this cover?

We threw around a LOT of ideas for this book, but kept coming back to the idea of this incredible place--the Kalahari region of southern Africa--where the book is set. While I was in Botswana doing research last summer for the book, I spent every evening marveling at the incredible colors and silhouettes created by the sunsets over the grasslands, and felt that this image was a truthful, evocative representation of the scenery that so inspired me (and which made pictures super fun!)

What I love...

... about this cover is that it immediately conjures the beauty and the drama of the Kalahari setting, and the models representing the characters of Sam and Sarah are spot on! Adventure, survival, and romance are all important aspects of this story, and this image captures that so well. I was so thrilled when I first saw it--I instantly saw my story! The vibrant colors, the weathered texture, and the cool fonts were just icing on the cake.

About the Book

KALAHARI tells the story of Sarah Carmichael, a girl who has lived in one remote location after the next with her zoologist parents. Sarah is an expert on animals, speaks multiple languages, and is well versed in survival skills--but when it comes to talking to teens her own age, she's awkward and shy. Now, just six months after her mother was killed in an auto accident, Sarah and her dad are hosting a two-week safari for five city kids. Sarah dreads the trip, but when one of their guests turns out to be handsome, friendly Sam Quartermain, she wonders if it might be so bad after all.

But things quickly take a turn toward disastrous after Sarah's father disappears and the kids are left on their own. After fleeing from an attack by murderous poachers, they discover a ruined Corpus laboratory deep in the Kalahari--where a lethal engineered virus has escaped and turned the local animals into crazed, bloodthirsty monsters. Desperate to cover up the terrible pathogen they created, Corpus is determined to eliminate all witnesses to their catastrophic experiment--and Sarah, Sam, and the other kids are first on their list. Hunted by mercenaries, hit men, and an infected lion, Sarah must summon the strength and wits to stay alive in one of the world's most deadly deserts...but in the ruthless wilderness of the Kalahari, there is no water, no safety, and no place to hide.

Pre-Order the Book

KALAHARI is available for pre-order in e-book or hardcover from these sellers!


I've got signed copies of my previous books ORIGIN and VITRO up for grabs, along with an advance copy of KALAHARI (to come as soon I have it!) All these go to one lucky winner, so complete as many entries as you can below for the best chances of claiming these prizes!

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Friday, March 7, 2014

New Book Deal!

At last! I can FINALLY tell you!! I signed my second book contract with Razorbill/Penguin Random House, starting with KALAHARI, coming winter 2015. Guys, I LOVE LOVE LOVE this book so much! It's very close to my heart and I've been on absolute pins and needles these past six months as I've kept it secret.

It feels SO GOOD to finally just--

But anyway, enough dramatics, here's the announcement from PW:


Here's a bit of a longer synopsis:

Sarah Carmichael has lived all over the world, from dense jungles to scalding deserts, with her zoologist parents. Six months after her mother is killed in a automobile accident in Africa, Sarah and her dad find themselves in need of research funds--and in return for them, agree to host a group of high school students from the States at their remote camp in the Kalahari Desert in Botswana. But things go quickly wrong when reports of poachers in the area call Sarah's dad away to investigate. When he doesn't return, Sarah finds herself alone in charge of a group of city kids she doesn't understand or relate to, in one of the world's most deadly wildernesses. She sets out to find her dad and instead runs across a secret research facility that has been left mysteriously in ruins. There, she and the students become witnesses to a horror that a certain biotech company will do anything to hide--a deadly virus created out of living metal that consumes everything it touches.

Curious to know more? Follow my KALAHARI Pinterest board to explore some of the inspiration behind the story!

A lot of people have asked me if this is another story from the same world as ORIGIN and VITRO--and yes, it is! But it's a lot different from my first two books in many ways, and one of my favorite things about it is that it's set in the Kalahari Desert in Bostwana, Africa! I was lucky enough to spend a few weeks there last summer doing research for KALAHARI, and can't wait to share more about that and the book in the months to come!

The speedy folks over at Goodreads have already got KALAHARI up for you to check out--and add to your to-read shelf! =)

hurray, Africa!!! 

believe it or not, playing with lion cubs was TOTALLY research for this book...

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Review: The Warrior's Apprentice

The Warrior's Apprentice
The Warrior's Apprentice by Lois McMaster Bujold

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Second time through TWA--first time on audio, this time reading. Even better the second time around, and still one of my all-time favorites!

I stumbled on this series entirely by accident while I was writing a book with an MC named Miles and decided to see if there were any Mileses in other SFF. Turns out, there was one, and while the sound of this story didn't impress me much at first, I decided to check it out, and downloaded the audio version. Best. Decision. EVER.

Imagine a character that's part Tyrion Lannister, part Ferris Bueller--in space, and you've got a pretty good idea of what to expect from Lois McMaster Bujold's addictive Miles Vorkosigan. It doesn't hurt that Bujold is one of the most highly decorated SFF writers there is with multiple Hugos, Nebulas, and other awards under her belt. While reading the Vorkosigan books, I went from peals of laughter to bated breath to tears as this quirky, brilliant character leaped from one escapade to the next alongside a host of terrifying, hilarious, and fully dimensional side characters.

These books are literary Pringles. You can't read just one. And with 16 novels and 6 novellas, this is one series to keep you busy for a while.

View all my reviews

Friday, February 21, 2014

Four Addictive Series to Binge Read

It's the literary equivalent of a weekend Netflix session--book bingeing. With so many current publications leaving us cliffhanging for a year before the second or third book comes out, it's nice every now and then to pick up a complete, addictive series to consume our lives for a few weeks.

As a habitual literary binge reader, I am always searching for my next fix, whether its YA, Sci-Fi, or Fantasy. The top things I look for in a literary binge are:

  • compelling, three-dimensional characters
  • unpredictable plots
  • strong emotional twists
  • original, believable world building
  • the more books, the better!

Here are my top four go-to binge series. Most of these I've read over and over again, and they get better every time. If you're looking for something not only to read, but to be completely, wholly absorbed in, here's where you start:

1. The Vorkosigan Saga by Lois McMaster Bujold

I stumbled on this series entirely by accident while I was writing a book with an MC named Miles and decided to see if there were any Mileses in other SFF. Turns out, there was one, and while the sound of this story didn't impress me much at first, I decided to check it out, and downloaded the audio version. Best. Decision. EVER.

Imagine Tyrion Lannister in space, and you've got a pretty good idea of what to expect from Lois McMaster Bujold's addictive character Miles Vorkosigan. It doesn't hurt that Bujold is one of the most highly decorated SFF writers there is with multiple Hugos, Nebulas, and other awards under her belt. While reading the Vorkosigan books, I went from peals of laughter to bated breath to tears as this quirky, brilliant character leaped from one escapade to the next alongside a host of terrifying, hilarious, and fully dimensional side characters.

These books are literary Pringles. You can't read just one. And with 16 novels and 6 novellas, this is one series to keep you busy for a while.

2. Tomorrow When the War Began by John Marsden

This Australian series remains one of my favorite YA stories out there. It's a huge hit Down Under, even spawning a pretty good movie starring Caitlin Stasey (CW's Reign) and Pheobe Tonkin (CW's The Originals). The movie is available on Netflix under the same name, but I HIGHLY recommend reading the book before you watch. There are six books in the series and each installment is short enough to finish in a day or two--perfect binge material!

The story is convincingly narrated by Ellie, a teen in rural Australia. She and her friends set out on a camping expedition, and while they're gone, Australia is invaded by a foreign army. Ellie and her friends transform from normal teens into guerrilla fighters with heart-wrenching believability and emotion.

It's like Red Dawn: Outback Edition, but so much better. Oh, and bring a box of tissues. Um. Make that two boxes.

3. The Farseer/Tawny Man sextet by Robin Hobb

For the high fantasy lovers out there, if you haven't discovered Robin Hobb yet, then you're doing it wrong. She's right up there with Lois McMaster Bujold as Writers I Most Admire And Want To Be When I Grow Up. I had the immense pleasure of meeting her at the Decatur Book Festival (she is all kinds of classy) in 2012, and when she came to my signing and got a copy of Origin, I couldn't even handle it--I cried.

I picked up the first Farseer book, Assassin's Apprentice, off the shelf of the antique store I worked at part time after college, and sneaked chapters in between my boss coming in and out of the shop (hey, I never said I was a model employee). The series is broken into two trilogies: the Farseer Trilogy and the Tawny Man Trilogy. The two flow seamlessly together, and contain my all-time favorite literary bromance. Expect no fantasy cliches here! The originality and unpredictability of these books is stunning. But the tears, man. I've read the series through twice now, and I think I wept even more then second time around. The worldbuilding is superb, but it's the characters in these books that rip your heart out and put your emotions through the wash.

And the best part? The last book came out a decade ago, but Hobb just announced that a new trilogy featuring the same characters is in the works--so that's three more books to look forward to! And if you, like me, get to the end of these six and still need more--don't worry. Hobb has 11 other books, most of which are set in the same world as these ones, and 11 more books under pen name Megan Lindholm. Talk about a binge.

4. Dark Tower series by Stephen King

Though I'm not a big fan of his horror, I adore Stephen King's weird, grotesque, unpredictable fantasy epic about The Dark Tower. King has called it his magnum opus and his homage to Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. It's dark, odd, and completely King, and if you're a fan of his larger body of works, you're in for a special treat--Easter eggs are hidden all throughout the books. You'll meet characters, objects, and hints from many of his other books dropped all over Midworld.

With his usual skill, King creates fully real characters inhabiting a world both familiar and bizarre. He combines medieval quest lines with Wild Western settings and sci-fi time-space bending in a strange goulash that shouldn't work, but somehow does.

There's no predicting what will happen in this epic that spans worlds, times, and genres--so the best thing to do is sit back, open your mind, and let the story take over.


I love these book so much, am so confident you will love them too, that I'm going to put my money where my mouth is by giving away the first book in each of these series to one lucky winner! Use the form below to enter. Warning: prizes may be addictive and prone to CONSUMING YOUR LIFE. Contest open to USA/Canada only!

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