A Season for Fireflies by Rebecca Maizel

season for fireflies

I loved Between Us and the Moon, Maizel’s first YA contemporary, so I took the chance to read this one without even reading the synopsis fully (and because look at the pretty cover!)… Which is how I was completely shocked by the whole lightning strike thing. I was afraid for what that would do to the rest of the story – I didn’t want it to turn supernatural or super cheesy or weird – but I needn’t have been afraid. It somehow stayed realistic and contemporary despite having far-fetched circumstances, and the overall story was fascinating.

The book starts out at the end of Penny’s sophomore year, where she’s a star in her school’s theater department and is surrounded by great friends. Her home life, though, is in turmoil as her mom struggles with depression and alcoholism and her dad deals with it by retreating into his work, leaving Penny pretty much alone. Rather than turning to her friends for support, Penny closes herself off to them, quits theater because she doesn’t want to be in the spotlight anymore, and sort of accidentally falls in with the popular crowd where she’s able to be a shadow of her new BFF. At a party a little over a year later, Penny is struck by lightning, which affects her memory. When she wakes up in the hospital, she can’t remember anything from before she quit theater… which means she has to work through the way she hurt her theater friends in sophomore year, the popular crowd who she doesn’t remember being friends with at all, and all the changes in her family.

Penny’s a great and sincerely honest protagonist. Any real teenage girl who found herself in Penny’s situation would be whiny and confused and worried, as Penny was, but she wasn’t overly pitiful. She came through her ordeal as a strong girl and allowed the difficulty in her life to make her even stronger in the end.

I absolutely loved the cast of supporting characters, too. Wes, May, Panda, Richard, and Kylie were all very real and relatable. And Wes? Well, he was downright swoon worthy despite his sometimes awkwardness. I do wish that there had been a little more resolution with Penny’s parents in the end, but I suppose not every part of a story necessarily gets a neat and clean ending.

Also, I kept trying to figure out if I was supposed to read more into the fireflies – what they were symbolic of, if they were connected to Midsummer, how they related to Penny, if they were from the lightning Storm that struck Penny – I eventually gave up and tried to ignore the creepy crawly feeling I got when the characters talked about being outside with so many bugs. I do wish their purpose had been a little more clearly connected to the rest of the story.

All in all, though, A Season for Fireflies was sweet and fun and interesting. I started and finished it in one day because I was so caught up in Penny’s story. Definitely recommended! Find it here on Amazon or at your local bookseller.

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2016 Debut Authors Bash: K.C. Held and HOLDING COURT!

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holding court

I should start out by telling you all that, when I read the blurb for HOLDING COURT, I e-mailed the publisher immediately and begged for a review copy because it sounded just that perfect. When I got the review copy in the mail, it came with one of the coolest swag packs I’ve gotten, and you get a chance to win one! You can see what it looked like, and why I love this book SO MUCH, here. Also, here’s the link to purchase HOLDING COURT on Amazon.

Now, I’m happy to turn this post over to K.C. as she tells us about her favorite mystery influences and how they helped shape HOLDING COURT!

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Hi Melissa! Thanks so much for hosting me!

I’ve always been a huge mystery fan, and my taste runs the gamut, but in crafting HOLDING COURT I was definitely influenced by Janet Evanovich’s STEPHANIE PLUM series. I wanted to see if I could take this wacky idea I had about a character who blurts out random statements that turn out to be premonitions and mold it into a YA mystery featuring colorful characters involved in potentially ridiculous hijinks.

Rounding out my top five favorite mystery influences are:

Elizabeth Peters and her ability to “mingle intelligent whodunits with sheer lunatic hilarity.” I’m fascinated with art history and have a background in historic costume (which came into play in HOLDING COURT) so her art historian sleuth Vicky Bliss is a particular favorite.

Agatha Christie, the grand dame of mystery fiction. I devoured her books as a kid. I’d be hard pressed to pick a favorite but I’ll always have a soft spot for Miss Marple, who gets a shout-out in HOLDING COURT.

Meg Cabot and her MEDIATOR series. Much like Suze, Jules has a special ability that leads to unusual challenges and hilarious situations. Meg also wrote a blog post on the anniversary of 9/11 that had a huge impact on me. “Why I Write Funny Books” transformed the way I saw myself as a writer and validated my natural instinct to write things that make people laugh.

Ally Carter for writing funny “clean teen” books like the GALLAGHER GIRLS series that fill a niche for in-between readers and anyone who likes to read funny/and or sweet YA, like me!

Thanks again for letting me visit Pimples, Popularity, and Protagonists!

I hope you have a killer summer! ;)

K.C.

kc held

CHECK IT OUT: a Rafflecopter giveaway for a HOLDING COURT swag pack (magnetic prophecy kit, signed bookplate, bookmark, coloring postcard w/multi-colored pencil, and castle pin), open to US & CAN.
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2016 Debut Authors Bash: Jenna Evans Welch and Love & Gelato!

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love & gelato

I have SO MUCH LOVE for Jenna Evans Welch’s debut, Love & Gelato! Go read my previous review if you want, or just trust me that it’s awesome. (And make sure you read through to the bottom of this post for a chance to win a copy!)

One of my very favorite things about this book, though, was the Italian setting, which is downright magical in the way that Jenna brings it to life on the page. I asked her to share a bit about the process of writing a book with an American teen in a foreign setting, and about her inspiration for the setting. So, without further ado, here’s Jenna!

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Hello YA Blog World, and thank you Melissa for spotlighting me on your blog!

On May 3 I had a lifelong dream come true–my first YA novel LOVE & GELATO was released. After working on it for years (I wrote the first draft over seven years ago) it has been thrilling to hear from people who are actually reading it!

Here is a little bit about my book: LOVE & GELATO is a contemporary YA novel about a 16 year old girl named Lina who loses her mother to a fast moving illness. Before she dies, Lina’s mother makes her promise to spend some time with Howard, a man she met on a study abroad in Italy many years before. When Lina arrives in Florence she learns two things about Howard: one, he happens to be the caretaker for an American cemetery, and two, he’s her father. Of course this brings up a whole world of questions for Lina, namely: why didn’t her mom tell her who Howard was? Why did she keep her from him? And perhaps most troubling, why is she with him now? With the help of her mother’s journal, Lina starts exploring the city and piecing together her parents’ love story while (of course) getting entangled in her own.

The inspiration for this story was definitely personal. When I was 15-years old, my adventurous parents packed up me and my four younger siblings (plus about 300 duffel bags) and moved us to Florence for a year. We lived in a little house in Tuscany, and I attended high school in a tiny international school housed in an old villa. During that first year I drove a scooter, ate mass quantities of gelato, and made friends from all over the world. It was absolutely magical. When that first year was up I begged my parents to let me stay for a second year on my own–and amazingly, they did.

Those two years a very big deal to me. Leaving my comfort zone for a place with people from all over the world expanded my world exponentially and I have thought about that experience on a daily basis ever since. So when I decided I was going to go for it–fulfill my lifelong dream of writing a YA novel–it only made sense to write about a teenage girl discovering Italy.

My goal during this whole process was to write the book that I was looking for as a teenager. I wanted adventure, humor, romance and mystery–but most of all I wanted to be transported somewhere magic, and my hope is that LOVE & GELATO does just that.

Thank you for spotlighting my book!

With lots of love (and gelato), Jenna

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Now, ENTER TO WIN a copy of LOVE & GELATO (US only): Rafflecopter giveaway

AND go buy yourself a copy, because when we’re talking about love and gelato, who wants to wait and see if they win? Go get it!

Check out Jenna’s author page on Goodreads, too, where you can ask her questions and stay connected with her latest news.

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GREAT opportunity for Charlotte area teens!

crazyCharlotte, NC based author, Linda Phillips, is leading a writing workshop for teen and adults with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg library system this summer. For any students ages 12 and up who have expressed an interest in poetry and stories told in verse, this is an amazing opportunity! Click here to register (space is limited!), and click here to check out Linda’s beautifully written novel in verse, Crazy. You can purchase Crazy here on Amazon or at your favorite book retailer.

2016 Debut Authors Bash: R.S. Grey and CHASING SPRING!

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R.S. Grey is no stranger to the adult romance market, but this February she published Chasing Spring, her first YA novel. I snatched it up as soon as it was out and devoured it in a day, and I couldn’t have loved it more. I had to put it in the library at school… and quickly got additional copies because the teenage girls loved it so much that it had a pretty long waiting list.

On Instagram and twitter and everywhere else, Rachel’s fun and smart and adorable, and Chasing Spring made me love her writing so much. The way she flawlessly built the story, with deep and intriguing characters who are passionate and romantic, is really something. I also love how Chasing Spring serves as a reminder that, even though parents make mistakes, teenagers are not defined by their parents’ actions or doomed to repeat them. As you can tell, I really like this book (and its gorgeous cover, which Rachel made herself).

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So, I’m happy to get to host Rachel with a quick interview about Chasing Spring. Make sure you read through to the bottom for a chance to win a signed paperback of Chasing Spring! And, of course, go buy it! Don’t even wait for the giveaway.

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  1. Welcome, Rachel! For any readers who haven’t read Chasing Spring yet, can you introduce us to Lilah and Chase by telling us five words they’d use to describe each other?

5 words Lilah would use to describe Chase: loyal, kind, stubborn, talented, and bright (as in blindin)
5 words Chase would use to describe Lilah: head-strong, intelligent, beautiful, mysterious, and intriguing
  1. Chasing Spring was a big departure for you when compared to your other adult titles. What made this story one that just had to be told, even though it was so different?

This story was in my head for two years before I finally published it. I worked on it in between my adult novels, and I used it as a sort of buffer between stories. Often times between writing romantic comedies, I feel the need to write something with a little more depth and emotion.
  1. Please share a favorite quote from Chasing Spring – one that you think really represents what the book is all about.

“Does the ending even matter? Shouldn’t the middle be the happy part? It’s the biggest chunk of our life, and yet no one ever asks if two people had a happy middle. They care too much about the ending.” R.S. Grey, Chasing Spring

  1. I absolutely love the cover for Chasing Spring. It’s beautiful. Can you talk about the process of creating that cover?

Creating the cover for a book is a long process for me because I don’t settle on a finished product until it feels right. The cover for Chasing Spring took multiple attempts. I tried out covers that featured models and then finally settled on one that looked sweet, but on closer inspection had a touch of darkness to it.
  1. Where do you see Chase and Lilah now, post-Chasing Spring? How about in 10 years? Is there anything they’d want to say to their potential future readers?

I purposely left this open for the reader. With YA books, I don’t like to outline what will happen to the characters in ten years, because they’re still teenagers with so much growing up to do. I wanted there to be a happy ending without anything too explicit tied in.

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Now, GO ENTER TO WIN a signed, paperback copy of CHASING SPRING: a Rafflecopter giveaway! (US addresses only.)

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