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.

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To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

to all the boys

 

In this, the latest title from the  incredible Jenny Han, protagonist Lara Jean has dealt with the end of each crush she’s had on a boy by writing a letter to him detailing the reasons she loved him and the reasons she’s done loving him… like a break up letter, but without every having an actual relationship. The problem, of course, is that when you write things down they can be discovered by others, and her letters actually get mailed to these boys she had crushes on in the past. Some of them she currently goes to school with and knows, some of them have moved on and live elsewhere, but regardless it’s awkward for all of them. Where I can picture myself completely freaking out and panicking, Lara Jean holds it together remarkably well and by the time you get to the end you’re so deeply invested in her and so completely rooting for her that you don’t want it to be over.

Jenny Han has a kind of quiet, understated way of developing really amazing characters that stick with you well after the book is over. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is reminiscent of her style with the Summer I Turned Pretty trilogy, which is great news for me – I absolutely adore those books. There are going to be more books to follow, but this one resolved well enough to satisfy while leaving just enough curiosity to make me look forward to the next one!

Find To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before on Amazon or at your favorite local bookseller!

The Distance Between Us by Kasie West

the distance between us

 

I’ve been wanting to read this for forever because of its adorable cover and because I’ve heard so many good things about Kasie West, but for some reason I just got around to it recently. It was so much more than I could have hoped for! Kasie West has sealed herself solidly onto my must-read list, which means I have more books to read!

In The Distance Between Us, Caymen is a girl taught to be weary of the wealthy – she helps her mom run the doll shop that they own and live above, and money is always tight. When Xander comes in to pick up a doll for his grandma, it doesn’t take Caymen long to recognize him as one of the wealthy elite and write him off. Xander doesn’t give up. He’s instantly taken with Caymen and just starts showing up all the time. Just as Caymen starts to recognize her own feelings for Xander, things get super complicated.

This story is a sweet realistic fairytale of a romance mixed with some intriguing family drama that ultimately ends beautifully. I can’t wait to read everything else Kasie has already published, and I’m looking forward to her future works as well.

Some Boys by Patty Blount

some boys

Mostly I want to say that Some Boys handles the topic of rape with intelligence and great storytelling, which is so often the most effective way to teach on such a sensitive subject. In the vein of Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak, Some Boys tackles the difficult issues of rape, bullying, slut shaming, etc. which are all incredibly important topics for teens (and parents, teachers, and more) to be aware of and discuss openly.

I was troubled, though, by how teachers and school administration were portrayed in this. I am a teacher. I have worked in several schools and with plenty of different types of teachers so far in my career. I can’t speak for all schools, obviously, and it saddens me to know that there probably are some teachers and administrators who would choose to look the other way rather than get involved, but I can say with certainty that it’s not the norm. Teachers teach because they care. Administrators too. In that way, I felt like that aspect of this book was unfairly represented. There would have been more than just the Coach who tried to help, and it would have been before he finally actually stepped in. Also, schools do have the ability to intervene and discipline students based on social media harassment when it impacts what’s happening at school, as this obviously does. Grace may not have felt like there were caring adults around her, but I want to urge all of my teenage readers to seek out help at school – we’re there because we want to help, not to shame you.

All of that aside, I do think there’s a valuable message here, and I’d encourage high school girls, especially, and parents of teenagers to read it. And, I think the most valuable lesson here is to urge students and parents to communicate with authorities, whether police or school based, when they know minors are being harassed. Most of the adults in this earn a giant F from me in how they handled Grace’s situation.

Grace’s story is immediately compelling and engrossing, and ultimately is a sweet story of healing and love. Find it here on Amazon.

Just Like the Movies by Kelly Fiore

just like the movies

 

I really enjoyed Kelly Fiore’s debut, Taste Test, so when I saw this being talked about on twitter I knew I had to read it.

Fiore does a great job of writing realistic characters. One of the strongest attributes of Just Like the Movies is that the two main characters, Marijke and Lily, truly come from two very different high school worlds – one very popular and the other nearly invisible – but they forge a friendship that becomes one of the main focal points for the book. I think romantic elements in YA are great (and, honestly, what we girls want to see), but it’s nice when that’s not the ONLY big focus int the story, and Fiore did a great job of balancing two sweet romantic elements with this important friendship.

Just Like the Movies is a fun book that only took a few hours to read, and it’s full of references to classic romantic comedy movies. Opening with a scene straight out of Say Anything definitely got me hooked on the story immediately!

Click here to find it on Amazon, or ask about it at your favorite local bookseller!

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!