Hello, Goodbye, and Everything Inbetween


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Hello, Goodbye, and Everything Inbetween is classic Jennifer E. Smith, which means I loved it just because. Great character building (as always), spot-on dialogue, interesting and relatable premise… I laughed and I ugly cried and I fell in love a little.

Check out the official blurb, then click here to see it on Amazon or get it from your favorite bookseller!

On the night before they leave for college, Clare and Aidan have only one thing left to do: figure out whether they should stay together or break up. Over the course of twelve hours, they retrace the steps of their relationship, trying to find something in their past that might help them decide what their future should be. The night leads them to family and friends, familiar landmarks and unexpected places, hard truths and surprising revelations. But as the clock winds down and morning approaches, so does their inevitable goodbye. The question is, will it be goodbye for now or goodbye forever?

Charming, bittersweet, and full of wisdom and heart, this irresistible novel from Jennifer E. Smith, author of The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, explores the difficult choices that arise when life and love lead in different directions.

The Sound of Us by Julie Hammerle

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The Sound of Us is one of those books that does a great job of encouraging readers to stick with their dreams and stay true to who they are. That’s enough to make me love it – I just don’t think that message can be given to teenagers (or adults, frankly) too much. 

Kiki Nichols is a fun, introverted fan of a popular geeky sic-fi show who also happens to be an aspiring opera singer. She heads off to an exclusive summer camp at a college known for its music program. She has two main goals for the summer: one, be cool and make friends, and two, be one of the top students at the end of camp, which would earn her a scholarship to study opera at the university. But, of course, stuff happens and Kiki’s derailed from her goals a few times… and one big distraction comes in the form of a hot drummer (and fellow sic-fi show fan) she’d like to spend more time with. 

Kiki is a great character, and I love her growth throughout the story. The supporting characters are all really well written and they definitely make the book richer, with the exception of Kiki’s parents and brother who seem sort of one dimensional and annoying (until one conversation at the very end, I guess). A little bit of language and some content would make me uncomfortable with having this in my middle school classroom, but it’s fine for high school. Overall, there are some great messages here for teenage girls (and guys) about being happy with who you are and going after your dreams instead of settling, and I enjoyed reading this one. 

Find The Sound of Us here on Amazon or order it through your favorite bookseller!

The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson

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As summer winds down and back to school sales take over the stores, I find myself wanting to cling to summer for as long as possible.

One great YA title that might help us all hold fast to summer days is Morgan Matson’s The Unexpected Everything, a seriously cute and heartwarming novel that showcases everything there is to love about YA literature.

In it, Andie is a teenage girl with a very clear plan for her summer, for college, and for life in general. She’s the daughter of a politician, so her childhood has been lived under public scrutiny, and she strives for perfection. She hardly sees her dad, and since her mom passed away when she was young, she has basically raised herself. She’s fiercely independent and has very little relationship with her father, but somehow she’s satisfied with the way things are. She has her plans for the future, she has her friends, and she knows where she’s going.

But what will Andie do when a very public political scandal sends those plans sailing out the window? How will she deal with her lost summer internship? What will her unexpected summer be like when she had so many clear expectations that just won’t happen?

After she answers a help wanted ad that turns out to be for a dog walking service, all kinds of unexpected things pop up: a dad who’s suddenly in town a whole lot more than usual, a part time job without the prestige of a medical internship, a seriously great group of friends, a cute boy who keeps popping up, and so much more. What I love about The Unexpected Everything is that it’s fun and authentic (the text conversations, complete with emojis, are fantastic), but it still has strong themes of family and friendship and the power of change. We, along with Andie, get to see that sometimes beautiful things happen when life veers off the path we’ve decided it should stay on.

This novel is perfect for teenage girls and grown up women alike, and it’s especially fitting for these days when we’re still sort of in our summer state of mind but also making plans and looking ahead to the fresh opportunities that a new school year brings. Check it out, and enjoy!

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A Little Harry Potter Fun

Just because the whole world seems to be reading this new Harry Potter story and I’m curious to know what people think…

Have you read the Cursed Child yet? What did you think?

What Hogwarts House would you be sorted into?

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

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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.

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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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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.