Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch

love and gelato

I have all the love in the world for well-written YA books involving an American teen travelling to a place I’d love to go, and Love & Gelato absolutely did NOT disappoint.

When Lina’s mom dies as a result of a quick-moving cancer, she feels obligated to fulfill one of her mom’s final wishes: that Lina would go to Italy and spend some time getting to know the country and the man who Lina has been told is her father, though she’s never actually met him. Obviously, because she’s grieving her mom’s death and in a foreign country and surrounded by people she doesn’t really know, there’s a huge adjustment period for Lina.

But, of course, Italy works its magic (the architecture, the pizza, and the gelato) and Lina meets a cute foreign boy, Ren, and his group of friends that she starts to explore the country with. She’s also given a journal that belonged to her mom while she studied abroad in Italy, and as she gets into it she realizes it’s the story of her mom and dad’s romance. With the help of Ren, she tracks down and finds answers for the mysteries contained in her mom’s journal, including the truth about her dad.

Lina finds love and adventure along the way, and the story is really just beautiful. It also left me really, really wanting to go to Italy… But I had to settle for making some Italian food. Love & Gelato comes out next week, so make sure you check it out! Find it here on Amazon or at your favorite bookstore.

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Sunday Inspiration: Book Procrastination.

[ File # csp10595760, License # 2355382 ] Licensed through http://www.canstockphoto.com in accordance with the End User License Agreement (http://www.canstockphoto.com/legal.php) (c) Can Stock Photo Inc. / BackyardProduct

[ File # csp10595760, License # 2355382 ]
Licensed through http://www.canstockphoto.com in accordance with the End User License Agreement (http://www.canstockphoto.com/legal.php)
(c) Can Stock Photo Inc. / BackyardProduct

Tone Deaf by Olivia Rivers

tone deaf

For this one, let me start with the official blurb:

Ali Collins was a child prodigy destined to become one of the greatest musicians of the twenty-first century—until she was diagnosed with a life-changing brain tumor. Now, at seventeen, Ali lives in a soundless world where she gets by with American Sign Language and lip-reading. She’s a constant disappointment to her father, a retired cop fighting his own demons, and the bruises are getting harder to hide.

When Ali accidentally wins a backstage tour with the chart-topping band Tone Deaf, she’s swept back into the world of music. Jace Beckett, the nineteen-year-old lead singer of the band, has a reputation. He’s a jerk and a player, and Ali wants nothing to do with him. But there’s more to Jace than the tabloids let on. When Jace notices Ali’s bruises and offers to help her escape to New York, Ali can’t turn down the chance at freedom and a fresh start. Soon she’s traveling cross-country, hidden away in Jace’s RV as the band finishes their nationwide tour. With the help of Jace, Ali sets out to reboot her life and rediscover the music she once loved.

I can’t say that I’ve ever read anything quite like this before, and I loved it. Ali and Jace and their experiences both with music and the Deaf culture were absolutely fascinating. I loved their connection with each other through music, even though Ali couldn’t technically hear Jace’s music.

I also love that Ali is a great, strong, smart protagonist. Despite not having much in common with her life situations, I immediately identified with her as a reader and couldn’t help but cheer for her all the way through. I’m also a fan of how skillfully Rivers brought in the topic of abuse and how beautifully it was woven into the story.

All in all, this book is highly recommended! CHeck it out here on Amazon or at your favorite bookseller.

Guest Post: Jaye Robin Brown on Will’s Story

Will's Story cover

In the fall of 2014, I was honored to get to help Jaye Robin Brown (JRo!) with the release of her beautifully written YA debut, No Place to Fall. I was a real fan of that book’s protagonist, Amber Vaughn, and of JRo’s storytelling… including her use of music, which became almost like a living, breathing character in her book. When I was contacted about hosting JRo again for a new novella based on Will, the swoon-worthy love interest from No Place to Fall, I was all in. And, of course, I had to ask her to talk about the music, which again comes alive through her story.

So, here’s JRo on the music of Will’s Story! (And make sure you get all the way down to the end of this post for an awesome GIVEAWAY.)

Five Hot and Fresh Banjo Players (Not including Will McKinney):

In Will’s Story: A No Place to Fall Novella, the reader meets Will McKinney: naughty boy, banjo player, and the love interest in No Place To Fall. Though the novella follows some of the same story line as the novel, in this story the reader gets a little more about the man behind the music and how he fell into playing the banjo. Because really, the banjo hasn’t always had the sexiest history. Most people’s minds go to the movie Deliverance and the banjo-guitar scene on the porch of that river cabin. Banjos have long been equated with a hillbilly, backwoods stereotype. So to dispel that myth, I want to introduce you to five banjo players who are lighting it on fire, playing a variety of genres.

  1. Scott Avett from the Avett Brothers. https://youtu.be/O-TI1RbQHlg

  2. Rhiannon Giddons from the Carolina Chocolate Drops. https://youtu.be/50lQ5IHW74c

  3. Winston Marshall from Mumford and Sons. https://youtu.be/pM7m0y9d3zQ

  4. Eleanor Underhill from Underhill Rose. https://youtu.be/itkV6CGou1M

  5. Eric Church. https://youtu.be/nqTHjulKIfE

 

No Place to Fall by Jaye Robin Brown {goodreads} no place to fall
Published December 9th 2014 by HarperTeen

Summary: Amber Vaughn is a good girl. She sings solos at church, babysits her nephew after school, and spends every Friday night hanging out at her best friend Devon’s house. It’s only when Amber goes exploring in the woods near her home, singing camp songs with the hikers she meets on the Appalachian Trail, that she feels free—and when the bigger world feels just a little bit more in reach.

When Amber learns about an audition at the North Carolina School of the Arts, she decides that her dream—to sing on bigger stages—could also be her ticket to a new life. Devon’s older (and unavailable) brother, Will, helps Amber prepare for her one chance to try out for the hypercompetitive arts school. But the more time Will and Amber spend together, the more complicated their relationship becomes . . . and Amber starts to wonder if she’s such a good girl, after all.

Then, in an afternoon, the bottom drops out of her family’s world—and Amber is faced with an impossible choice between her promise as an artist and the people she loves. Amber always thought she knew what a good girl would do. But between “right” and “wrong,” there’s a whole world of possibilities.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble

 

Will’s Story: A No Place to Fall Novella by Jaye Robin Brown {goodreads} Will's Story cover
Published April 5th 2016 by Epic Reads Impulse

Summary: Will McKinney is a bad boy. At least, he used to be. After nearly getting arrested for some poor decisions involving prescription drugs, Will has been trying to turn over a new leaf. Well, it’s that or suffer the wrath of his father, the judge. Will’s starting to get his life in Sevenmile, North Carolina, in order. He’s applying to colleges. He’s dating the most popular girl at school. And he recently discovered a love of playing the banjo and performing in front of a crowd. But it’s that same love of music that draws him to Amber Vaughn, his younger teenage brother’s best friend. Now Will finds himself wondering if he just might really be a bad guy because even though he’s got a girlfriend, he can’t stop thinking about Amber.

Will’s Story is a companion novella to Jaye Robin Brown’s young adult debut, No Place to Fall, and perfect for fans of her novel and newcomers alike.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble

 

JRoAbout the Author
Jaye Robin Brown, or Jro to her friends, lives and writes in the mountains north of Asheville, North Carolina. She’s in awe of magic and beauty, and is a stalwart champion for the underdog, both human and other. When she’s not writing, you can find her in the art room of the high school where she teaches, or on her small farm hanging out with her dogs, cats, and horses.

Goodreads | website | Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest

 

Giveaway(s)

(please note that one is specifically US ONLY and the other INTL ONLY)

– US ONLY-
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-INTL ONLY-
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Between Us and the Moon by Rebecca Maizel

between us and the moon

I loved this book.

The setting, the storytelling, the swoon-worthy boy… All magical. And talk about a way to get ready for summer! I mean, just LOOK at that cover.

What makes it even better than your typical summer beachy read, though, is the protagonist. Sarah/Bean has her life together in the beginning, but slowly things unravel and her scientific brain has to deal with emotions and feelings and desires that don’t simply compute (think Sheldon from Big Bang Theory as a teenage girl). She does a lot of lying and letting people walk all over her, creating a huge mess. While I wanted to shout at her and strangle her for not being truthful and straightening out the mess earlier than she did, I also totally understood and thought she was a truly realistic portrayal of a teenage girl just trying to figure herself out. Ultimately the mess turned into some beautiful stuff – still messy, still real, not cliched, but a beautiful mess reminiscent of all our teen years.

Rebecca has a new book coming out in June, so snatch this one up now and then come back for more this summer! Find it here on Amazon or at your favorite bookseller. :)

In the Library This Month: April ’16

I’m excited to add the following new release titles to our school library this month!

  • Star Wars: the Force Awakens storybook
  • Booked by Kwame Alexander
  • Red by Liesl Shurtiff
  • Ramie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo
  • Maybe Something Beautiful (picture book) by F. Isabel Campoy and Theresa Howell
  • Scarlett Epstein Hates It Here by Anna Breslaw
  • Change Up by Derek Jeter
  • Night at the Stadium (picture book) by Derek Jeter
  • Arf: a Bowser & Birdie novel by Spencer Quinn
  • Whatever After #9: Genie in a Bottle by Sarah Mlynowski