Kiss Kill Vanish by Jessica Martinez

kiss kill vanish

First, here’s the official blurb:

Love. Betrayal. Murder.

Valentina is living a charmed, glittering life in Miami—falling in love for the first time, showered with gifts and affection by her father, surrounded by friends—when one shocking moment shatters everything she thought she knew about herself, her boyfriend, and her world. With no one left to trust, Valentina sheds her identity and flees to Montreal, where she finds work posing for a series of portraits by a pompous young artist. Valentina has always been at home in the art world, but she’s never felt quite so alone.

Valentina’s carefully constructed new life comes crashing down when someone from her past resurfaces, putting her safety in question and her heart on the line. With betrayal at every turn, Valentina must untangle the deceptions of those she once loved and race to find her own truth—before it’s too late.

This book shocked and amazed me in so many ways, the most important of which is that IT ACTUALLY SURPRISED ME. I kept thinking I knew how it would end, or guessing Martinez would put one plot twist too many in there, but nope. She didn’t. It ends perfectly, with a protagonist who is strong and kicks butt, and left me a highly satisfied reader.

Kudos to Martinez on a true, gritty but not gross, hot but not crude or pornish, suspense thriller that literally had me guessing all the way through. This is one YA thriller that I would actually love to see in the hands of my students!

Find Kiss Kill Vanish here on Amazon or at your favorite book store!

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Of Scars and Stardust by Andrea Hannah

of scars and stardust

I went back and forth on how I felt about this book. I absolutely loved the cover, which I why I requested it several months ago, and I stand by that. I think it’s really beautiful. The story, though, had me confused for most of the book. The writing was both intricate and intriguing while also disjointed and disorienting. I had a feeling that it was intentional, and came to find out it was. It made the whole feeling of the book ominously unstable, which worked for this story.

Because of casually rampant drinking and some other content (all of which actually works into the plot line but still is excessive), this isn’t one I’d want to see in the hands of my middle schoolers. For upper high school, though, it’ll feel much like a PG-13 or higher scary movie.

Of Scars and Stardust just came out this month – find it here on Amazon or at your favorite bookseller!

Horrorstor by Grady Hendrix… Get into the Halloween mood!

horrorstor

 

This is a fun, campy horror story made into something really special by the packaging, which is a work of genius, frankly. When my husband brought it home, I thought he’d gotten an Ikea catalog out of the mail. From an order form to the shopping process to pages out of the employee manual to product drawings, Horrorstor expertly mimics the feel of Ikea (though of course it’s Orsk, a cheaper version of Ikea, much like K-Mart is to Target).

I found the characters interesting, but not groundbreaking, and the plot intriguing, but not revolutionary. When put all together, though, with Orsk and employee loyalty and the packaging, it becomes a creepy, sometimes laugh out loud funny, gem of a way to spend a few hours on a fall day. This is too tongue in cheek, like Army of Darkness or something, to be taken too seriously. What it’s meant to be, I’m sure, is a good cheesy scare. Mission accomplished, Hendrix.

Also, because I read and review mostly YA titles, I have to say that while this is not a Young Adult book it is completely appropriate for that audience. I didn’t see anything that made me hesitate from recommending it to teenagers (there were a few expletives, but they were few, and they came at high-intensity moments when you’d wonder what was wrong with someone for NOT letting one fly). Content-wise, I was very pleasantly surprised!

To find it on Amazon, click here, or request it at your favorite local bookseller!

How to Fall by Jane Casey

how to fall

 

Jane Casey’s How to Fall is a great story all around – I loved the characters, the setting, and the eerie mystery surrounding Freya’s death. Jess makes an intriguing protagonist and amateur detective which made the story even more likable. While this novel felt complete and satisfying, it also left room for sequels, which I’m very much looking forward to! If you’re looking for something to usher in the fall season and compliment the Halloween candy already showing up in stores, this is definitely it! Find How to Fall: A Novel (Jess Tennant Mysteries) here on Amazon or grab it at your favorite local bookstore.

Golden by Jessi Kirby

golden

 

I’m a sucker for a good YA novel with a pretty cover, but a book with a pretty cover (even gold foil on the paperback! too gorgeous) AND Robert Frost poetry woven in? I’m so there. Golden by Jessi Kirby is a really beautifully written story full of romance, mystery, and adventure. The story is compelling and the characters are realistically flawed with plenty of redeeming value. Parker, the main character, is a protagonist that I rooted for all the way through, and I couldn’t have been more pleased with the way her story turned out. You’ll love this one!  Click here to find Golden on Amazon!

GIVEAWAY CONTINUED!!! Dream Boy Blog Tour: Madelyn Rosenberg Takes Over!

 

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When I found out that Madelyn would be willing to do a guest post for me, I sent her a long string of rambling questions and thoughts I had after finishing Dream Boy a few months ago. I’m excited to turn the blog over to her today so she can give you more insight into where the idea for Dream Boy came from and how the characters were developed! (AND you still have time to enter the GIVEAWAY for a copy of Dream Boy! Click for a Rafflecopter giveaway! ————————————————————————–

Nothing could hurt you when the world smelled like cotton candy—at least that’s what Chance Bell thought as she inhaled its pink spun sweetness.
 
That’s the first sentence for a novel Mary and I started together years and years and years ago, before either of us knew what novel-writing really was. We got about six chapters in, and we sent off a query to Harlequin, and they wrote us a lovely I’m-sorry note about why it wasn’t perfect for them. Then Mary moved forward with her poetry career and I moved forward in the world of kidlit. Fast forward about 10 years, maybe more, to the day Mary asked me if I wanted to write about a boy from a dream that came to life. I said yes right away. I don’t remember if she asked via e-mail or phone (I saved most of our e-mails and couldn’t find the first of them, but there were well over a thousand between then and now.)
The original spark, Mary said, came after she watched a Ginger Rogers movie at 4 a.m. She was half asleep while the movie (It Had to Be You) was playing but in it, a guy dressed like a Native American seems to pop out of Ginger’s dream. So what if we did a story where that happened in a girl’s dream? Then, the negotiations started. Mary wanted it to be romantic. I told her I wouldn’t do it unless it could be funny, too. And both of us loved stories that were grounded in reality but had fantastic elements to them. We started writing. I wish we could tell you there was a great plan or outline, but really we figured out almost everything as we went along. Which may have lengthened our writing process a little. Mary would write a chapter. Then she’d pass it off to me and I’d pick up where she left off (changing some of her chapter as I went) and so on. I’m not sure we knew where we were going until we got there.
We definitely changed the plot as we went. We debated who Annabelle would end up with, in part because we ended up liking our characters so much. Even the jerks. And we added and deleted some spooky elements and then added others.
(Actual conversation:
Mad: We can’t use that. I just think it sounds too much like The Exorcist.
Mary: But I’ve never even SEEN The Exorcist.
Mad: How can you have never seen The Exorcist?)
We gave Annabelle’s mom an obsession with old movies as a tribute to Ginger. Annabelle remains fairly grounded in the story (something Melissa asked me about because, as she said, “I’d be freaking.”) I think there are two reasons for this. One: pre-emptive hormones. In that I think the idea of love and what she has to do for it keeps her moving forward and too much panic would get in the way of that. I don’t want to get into any spoilers, so I’ll just say that she’s stronger than she knows. Plus, she’s dealt with some real-life things that have made her feel crazy, and I think she learned from those that panic and craziness don’t get you anywhere. (Or help move the story forward as much as we needed it to move =)
Melissa also asked about a sequel or companion book. We wrote Dream Boy as a standalone, so there’s nothing in the works. But that doesn’t mean we haven’t thought about it, as neither of us feels finished with these characters. As a reader, one of my favorite things when I finish a book is to imagine what happens next. And as a writer, it’s pretty much the same thing. If the story were to continue, I think we’d both be interested in exploring Dream World a little bit more. And we’ve been doing a little matchmaking, too, which I won’t go into – no spoilers, not even for a story that may never be written. But for now, what happens next is really up to readers’ imaginations.

Dream Boy is available on Amazon and in your favorite local bookstores, and you still have until this Sunday to enter the DREAM BOY GIVEAWAY through Rafflecopter!

GIVEAWAY! Dream Boy by Mary Crockett and Madelyn Rosenberg

dream boy

 

You know the feeling you have when you wake up after a particularly vivid dream? Struggling to decipher between dream and reality because it just seems so real, maybe trying to go back to sleep and enter that dream again, but eventually losing the details as it fades from your memory?

In Dream Boy, Annabelle is having a series of those very vivid dreams all featuring the same guy – she can hardly wait to get back to sleep and see him again – until he walks into her Science class as a new student… And he knows who Annabelle is as if they’ve met before! Talk about blurring the lines between real and imaginary. Of course,

I really enjoyed Dream Boy and loved the way that the authors wove paranormal elements into an otherwise contemporary realistic piece of fiction. It reminded me of Lisa McMann’s books, which I also think are wonderful, in that it’s a very accessible YA form of magical realism. They’ve also done a great job of creating characters with enough depth to handle the twists and turns they throw into the plot as the story goes from a simple “oh hey, my dream came true” to a “oh crap, does that mean nightmares can too?” kind of suspense.

I totally recommend getting a copy and reading right now… and then stopping back by here in a few days, when one of the authors, Madelyn Rosenberg, will be here to answer some questions about how Dream Boy came to be after I sent the following long, rambly e-mail to her:

  • I’d love to know more about where the idea came from – it felt familiar in that there are books out there that sort of dance all over that boundary between realistic fiction and paranormal, but it also felt refreshingly new.
  • It was impossible to read, too, without thinking of how much I’d be freaking out if I were in Annabelle’s shoes. So where did the idea of a literal dream come true come from? And from the spark of the idea, how did the whole story develop?
  • I’d love to hear, too, about the possibility of a sequel or companion novel. What’s next for Annabelle, Will, Martin, and the rest?

Click here to find it on Amazon, or ask about it at your favorite local bookseller, and enter for a chance to WIN A COPY through a Rafflecopter giveaway!!!