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!!!

Biggest Flirts by Jennifer Echols

biggest flirts

 

It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Jennifer Echols. She has a way of creating characters you’d want to hang out with in real life – they’re not perfect by any means – they’re full of flaws and rocky lives, which is probably part of their appeal. They’re realistic without being negative jerks. Anyway, Jennifer also has a way of writing a romance that makes it seem more real-life possible than most romance stories.

Biggest Flirts kicks off a new series for Echols, the Superlatives, which will go through other superlatives like perfect couple and more. I can’t say that Biggest Flirts was my favorite of Echols’ books (I think, for me, that will forever be Dirty Little Secret), but I did enjoy it thoroughly and look forward to reading the rest of the series!

Quick content reminder – Echols’ writing is definitely for the upper high school and beyond audience. I think she’s a great storyteller and I always find value in lessons taken from the lives of her characters, but I wouldn’t really want to see them in the hands of my middle school students.

Biggest Flirts came out last month, and the rest of the books in the series look like they’ll follow pretty quickly (January 2015 and August 2015 so far), so we won’t have to wait too long in-between books! Yay for that. :)

Another side note – if you’ve ever had to actually take superlatives pictures for the yearbook (I did my time as yearbook advisor for four years), you can truly appreciate these clovers. I absolutely love them!

Click here to find Biggest Flirts (The Superlatives) on Amazon

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!

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:

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.

 

The Geography of You and Me by Jen. E. Smith

geography of you and me

I’ve been a big fan of Jen E. Smith’s previous books, The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight and This is What Happy Looks Like, so when I saw the cover (LOVE) and the blurb for this one, I couldn’t wait.

In The Geography of You and Me, Lucy and Owen meet when they’re stuck together in an elevator during the New York City blackout a few years ago. The story, told in the alternating points of view that Smith is an absolute master of, follows Lucy and Owen on that blackout day and then throughout the next few years as they both end up all over the world but still manage to keep in touch.

Now, I liked this – I really did – but I have to say up front that it didn’t grab me quite the same way that her previous books did. Actually, it’s much more like Statistical Probability in feeling, with a lot of emotional depth and sadness to the characters’ lives, but my absolute favorite of hers is Happy which is, well, happy. For me, while I enjoyed Lucy and Owen as characters and liked the way their stories ultimately played out, there just wasn’t enough at the end to fully lift my spirits and leave me feeling upbeat. I’m still recommending it, of course, or else I wouldn’t post it here, but be prepared for an emotional journey rather than a light, summery fling of a read!

You can find The Geography of You and Me at your favorite local bookseller, or here on Amazon.

Cassie Mae’s Newest Book in her “How to” series!

I’ve been in contact with Cassie since last summer when I read Friday Night Alibi. She’s a great young author who has grown quickly in the publishing industry. She’s super sweet and writes great YA romances featuring smart girls and swoon-worthy, geeky guys. It’s an honor to turn this post over to her now to celebrate the release of her newest, How to Seduce a Band Geek!

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Big THANK YOU to Pimples, Popularity, and Protagonists for letting me crash for the HOW TO SEDUCE A BAND GEEK tour!

I’m lucky to have had several people make some adorable teasers for this book, so I’m just going to display some of the awesome art that was made. Details, links, etc. below!

By Lenore
By Lisa

 

By Lenore

 

By Lenore

 

By Tiffany
By Lenore

 

By Lisa

 

By Tiffany

 

By Tiffany

 

By Tiffany

 

Sierra Livingston’s got it bad for her sister’s best friend, Levi Mason—the boy who carries his drumsticks in his pocket, marches with the school’s band, and taps his feet to whatever beat runs through his head. Sierra racks her brain for ways to impress the sexy drummer, but the short skirts and bursting cleavage don’t seem to cut it.

When Sierra gets paired with Levi’s sister, Brea, for a mentorship program, they strike a deal. In exchange for Sierra keeping her mouth shut about Brea ditching the program, Brea lets Sierra dig for more info on Levi to help get the guy of her dreams.

But when Sierra discovers Levi no longer plays the drums, his family has moved into a trailer, and he’s traded in his Range Rover for a baby blue moped, Sierra’s not sure if she can go through with violating his privacy. She’ll have to find the courage to ask him straight out—if he’s willing to let her in—and explore other ways to seduce the school’s band geek.

Cassie Mae is a nerd to the core from Utah, who likes to write about other nerds who find love. She’s the author of the Amazon Bestsellers REASONS I FELL FOR THE FUNNY FAT FRIEND and HOW TO DATE A NERD, and is the debut author for the Random House FLIRT line with her New Adult novels FRIDAY NIGHT ALIBI and SWITCHED. She spends time with her angel children and perfect husband who fan her and feed her grapes while she clacks away on the keyboard. Then she wakes up from that dream world and manages to get a few words on the computer while the house explodes around her. When she’s not writing, she’s spending time with the youth in her community as a volleyball and basketball coach, or searching the house desperately for chocolate.

 

Author Links:
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The Book Thief, the book and the movie

book thief

 

I’m usually fascinated by and really connect with Holocaust literature, but when I tried to read The Book Thief a while back I just couldn’t get into it. I don’t know why, and many people would think that’s insane, but I just didn’t like it.

When the movie came out, though, I was intrigued… and just got around to watching it recently. And, while the book didn’t hold my interest, I found that the movie really did. It was well done, and the casting/acting was superb. If you didn’t get into the book, like me, you should definitely check out this movie!

 

book_thief movie

The Maze Runner by James Dashner

maze runner

 

With the movie version of The Maze Runner coming out in September, which looks amazing based on all I’ve seen so far, I wanted to get started with actually reading the series.

In The Maze Runner, a teenaged boy named Thomas suddenly wakes up in a sort of elevator. He has amnesia – he doesn’t remember anything about who he is or how he got there, but he remembers basic things about how to live, the names of things, and feels like he recognizes stuff but doesn’t know why. At the end of the lift, the doors open to reveal a group of other teenaged boys stuck in a maze. Just as Thomas starts to figure out how the maze society works, another unexpected thing happens: a girl is delivered in the box the very next day, the first girl ever to be sent to the maze, and she has a scary message to deliver. Throughout the course of the book, Thomas tries to remember anything that would explain why they’re there and how they could possibly make it out of the maze.

I don’t even really know how to classify this book – it’s not dystopian as there’s nothing seemingly “perfect” about the society Thomas suddenly finds himself in, and Dashner doesn’t reveal much to us about life outside of the maze until the very end so I hesitate to call it a post-apocolytic novel, but it’s pretty clear that something big is happening. As the reader tries to figure it out along with Thomas and the other kids trapped in the maze, we’re a part of and adventure that is definitely thrilling.

Fans of books like the Divergent and Hunger Games series’ will find The Maze Runner interesting, though it doesn’t have the romantic element found in those. I’ll definitely be adding this title to my 8th grade summer reading list – it’s a great option for students probably 7th grade and up.

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

 

we were liars

 

Mark my words… this will be the next YA title to take the world by storm, like The Fault In Our Stars did last year. I so hope they make a movie out of this.

All I can really say about this without giving anything away is that it was really, really beautifully written and masterfully crafted. I started this thinking I was getting into a typical summery beach YA title, but what I found was something that consumed my entire Sunday because I just could not put it down. This is the first E. Lockhart title I’ve read, and it has single-handedly turned me into a fan.

The characters are intriguing, and the style with which Lockhart builds this story is effortlessly suspenseful and mysterious.

I can’t even tell you what it reminds me of without getting into spoilers, so I won’t. But you should definitely read it when it comes out next week! Preorder, reserve, send to kindle… whatever. Get it.

With a twist I didn’t see coming, Liars shocked me in the most delightful way… but the best part about that was I could go back and see the clues Lockhart left along the way, and though I never would have seen the end coming, it made perfect sense once I got there.