The Half Life of Molly Pierce by Katrina Leno

half life of molly pierce

 

You guys… WOW. I was not prepared for this book to suck me in immediately and hold my attention hostage until I’d finished the whole thing.

The Half Life of Molly Pierce is told from Molly’s point of view as she tries to make sense of some strange things that have happened to her over the past year, culminating in a tragic motorcycle accident she witnesses and is somehow linked to, though she doesn’t understand how at first. t don’t want to say too much beyond what you can find in the official blurb; part of the fun in this for me was trying to figure out what was going on at the same time Molly was trying to figure it out.

I can tell you, though, that issues of mental health arise in this book. The way Katrina Leno handles these topics left me absolutely speechless – those who have ever struggled with any form of depression and emanational lows will find Molly’s voice both hauntingly real and breathtakingly hopeful.

And then there’s the character of Molly herself… I can’t remember the last time a character’s voice has so vividly popped off the page and lodged itself into my head. The whole book is a fascinating study in characterization and effectively establishing a unique character voice. A quick note here about the voice for parents: there is what I consider a good bit of cussing in this, but it isn’t without reason. Even for me, as a fairly sensitive reader to content and how it will impact teenagers, I wasn’t bothered by it because it served a purpose in highlighting issues Molly dealt with.

The Half Life of Molly Pierce is Katrina Leno’s first novel and, frankly, it makes her one to watch. I believe she’ll be hugely successful, and I’m so glad I got to read this! It comes out on July 8th – preorder it now so it’s waiting for you!

Click here to find it on Amazon or find it at your favorite local bookseller!

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Road to Somewhere by Kelley Lynn & Jenny S. Morris

road to somewhere

 

I really enjoyed this story of Charlie and Lucy. Told in alternating POV between the two sisters: Charlie is the older sister in reckless pursuit of her musical career, and Lucy is the quiet, cautious younger sister just trying not to rock the boat. They don’t really get along, mostly because they don’t understand each other.

When Charlie and her friends have a chance to participate in an exclusive music competition with a recording contract prize for the winner, they decide to go for it… but then Charlie’s parents make her take Lucy with them, and they have to stop in Texas and visit their grandparents along the way.

Enter hot cowboys and more sister drama, misunderstandings and country home cooking, and the story heats up and settles in for what ultimately is a story of sisterhood more than a quick little romance.

I really enjoyed Road to Somewhere, and I hope you’ll check it out, too. Click here to find it on Amazon!

 

Behind the Scenes with Me, in honor of Dalhia Adler’s Book Birthday! #BtSWeek

BehindtheScenesBlogTour3

 

I’m so excited for Dahlia’s book release and honored to be a part of her book blitz for release week! So, for the release of her Behind the Scenes, here’s a behind the scenes with me…

I want to give you a glimpse into where it all begins for me: Inspiration. Where do ideas come from? How do little sparks of inspiration turn into entire novels and stories worth being told? There are lots of ways ideas come to me, but I’d say these three are the main ones that really set me off when it comes to a new project:

  •  Music. I love music with smart, descriptive lyrics. Nothing gets my imagination off and running like clever phrasing in a catchy song – it basically begs for a story to be written. Once I actually start thinking about that story, creating characters in my head and visualizing their stories, I build a playlist of songs and artists reflective of the feeling I’m going for with that particular story. Throughout the writing process, the playlist changes depending on the course the plot takes until, by the end, it finally becomes a finished list of songs that match up with the plot arch – it’s pretty cool. This is a small sampling of the playlist for the book I’m working on now:

playlist 1playlist2

  • Teenagers. As an English teacher, I spend a ridiculous amount of time with teenagers, and I never seem to get tired of them. They’re fun. Hearing their stories, their hopes and dreams, their struggles… They’re smart and they care about life and the world in general way more than most adults realize.I’m never at a loss for ideas because of them, and writing dialogue is as simple as listening to my students.
  • Pinterest. What did we do before Pinterest existed? I can tell you that I am definitely a visual thinker, so having a virtual bulletin board to organize what things are going to look like is such a huge help to me. I love that I can search for just about anything in the world and find a related pin. For example, for my current work in progress, one of the main characters is a Latino senior in high school who talks about her quinceanera… and, because Pinterest is awesome, I found a picture of a girl I’ll use as inspiration for my character. My boards for this WIP is still private, but here’s a small glimpse just for you:

pinterest 2

 

So what inspires you? What gets your creativity going? I’d love to hear it!

Make sure you also check out Dahlia’s book, Behind the Scenes. I really, really enjoyed it and highly recommend it for high school readers and up! All the links you could possibly need are pasted below:

Sunday Inspiration: Querying is Painful

The dream of becoming an author through traditional publishing is just not for those with a low tolerance for rejection. As I continue to seek literary agent representation because I just don’t want to give up on it yet, I’m clinging to this:

“I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name” (Revelations 3:8).

I believe that my desire to do this is firmly rooted in all the right places. I refuse to give up in finding that open door and walking through it. The journey to find it might take longer than I hoped. The door itself might not look like what I envisioned. But I will not give up.

Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

isla and the happily ever after

 

It seems like I’ve been waiting for this book forever since discovering the beauty that is Anna and the French Kiss a while back, and, well… I’m STILL waiting. But, the good news is that I got a sneak peek of Isla last week and it’s just as amazing as I hoped it would be.

Isla and the Happily Ever After comes out in August, so get started with Anna and the French Kiss… NOW! You’ll love it.

Behind the Scenes by Dahlia Adler

behind the scenes

 

 

Summary from Goodreads:

High school senior Ally Duncan’s best friend may be the Vanessa Park – star of TV’s hottest new teen drama – but Ally’s not interested in following in her BFF’s Hollywood footsteps. In fact, the only thing Ally’s ever really wanted is to go to Columbia and study abroad in Paris. But when her father’s mounting medical bills threaten to stop her dream in its tracks, Ally nabs a position as Van’s on-set assistant to get the cash she needs.

Spending the extra time with Van turns out to be fun, and getting to know her sexy co-star Liam is an added bonus. But when the actors’ publicist arranges for Van and Liam to “date” for the tabloids just after he and Ally share their first kiss, Ally will have to decide exactly what role she’s capable of playing in their world of make believe. If she can’t play by Hollywood’s rules, she may lose her best friend, her dream future, and her first shot at love.

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I’ve been following Dahlia on twitter for a while now, and I knew from the books she recommends that I’d enjoy her writing.

I was right.

Ally is a sweet, fun, totally relatable protagonist who is easy to root for. When she meets and develops a crush on Liam, we’re not jealous of her very lucky situation… we’re hoping she realizes she’s every bit as worthy of his attention as anyone else. I loved that Ally and Liam met through Van, but that it wasn’t anything “Hollywood” related that made them connect; it was a similar family situation that made them open up to each other.  The romance between Ally and Liam is beautifully and, though the situation is more dream-like than reality-based, realistically written. They aren’t perfect people, but their romance is one that any girl would love to live out.

There are plenty of other great characters here, too, with a lot of depth and full of their own stories to tell. I’d love to see Dahlia write more books involving these characters!

My only reservation here is the language and some of the sexual content, both of which would make me cringe to see in the hands of my 8th grade students,  but for more mature readers it’s a really great choice, especially for the summer. Behind the Scenes comes out on June 24th; you can find it here on Barnes and Noble’s website, or look for it at your favorite book store.

 

One to preorder… like, NOW! Crazy by Linda Vigen Phillips

crazy

Crazy is a beautifully written account of how mental illness affected one family in the 1960’s, and of the hope that comes from art, open communication, and the road to healing. Written in verse, Crazy is a collection of thoughts, snippets of conversations, observations, and artwork from Laura, the book’s protagonist, over the course of a year. Her mother suffers from a mental illness that Laura tries to hide from her friends, both because she’s ashamed to have a mom who’s not normal and because she’s afraid she’ll turn out just like her. Laura’s journey from fear and not-knowing to hope and understanding is a pretty one to watch, and I absolutely LOVED how the author incorporated Laura’s artwork throughout the novel.