The Cage Contest + Blog Tour Q&A with Megan Shepherd

the cage blog tour
Today, we are thrilled to be hosting a stop on the official blog tour for The Cage by Megan Shepherd, in stores next Tuesday. We have an exclusive Q&A with Megan, plus keep reading to learn more about the book & enter for your chance to win!

Megan ShepherdFor readers unfamiliar with the premise, give us your 140-character “Twitter pitch” for THE CAGE.

Six teenagers from around the world are abducted by an all-powerful species and caged in a “human zoo”

This sounds like a major deviation from THE MADMAN’S DAUGHTER trilogy. What drew you away from Gothic horror to science fiction?

I will always love Gothic horror, but when I had the idea for THE CAGE, I knew I had to pursue it. It was a challenge to write about contemporary teenagers in a more traditional science fiction setting, but it was really fun.

Each book in THE MADMAN’S DAUGHTER trilogy took inspiration from a different classic novel. What inspired THE CAGE?

An author friend was telling me about her spouse’s job as a wildlife biologist at a writing retreat, and that got me thinking about zoos. I knew the “human zoo” concept had been done a little in fiction (like in the TWILIGHT ZONE and SLAUGHTERHOUSE FIVE), but I didn’t know of anyone who had done it yet in young adult literature.

cage, theWhere do you find the most inspiration for all of your writing, in general?

From day dreaming. It’s tough these days, since we’re all tied to our phones and computers constantly. But I look for those moments of mental silence, like walks with my dog or drives in the car with the radio off, to think.

What are some human “oddities” that you think would confuse and/or fascinate an alien race observing us in a zoo, like in THE CAGE?

I had a lot of fun with this in the book. The alien race in THE CAGE, the Kindred, are able to “cloak” their emotions in public, releasing them only in private. So they’re fascinated by humanity’s wild emotional outbursts: love, anger, but also concepts like forgiveness. They’re interested in human music and art, though they don’t quite understand it. And they think we can be satisfied with distractions like candy, toys, and games, and don’t understand that we have deeper needs.


Favorite villain?


Pen or pencil?


Favorite piece of clothing?

A cozy sweater I wear to write in

Song you can’t get out of your head right now?

CENTURIES by Fall Out Boy

Most recent vacation?

Sailing along the Turkish coast—a lifelong dream!

5 things that are always in your purse?

Phone, book to read, CAGE bookmarks, pen & notebook in case I get inspired, laptop

1 winner will receive a signed ARC of THE CAGE with a CAGE bookmark and sticker sheet. US Only.

Enter by filling out the Rafflecopter form HERE

about the book
The Maze Runner meets Scott Westerfeld in this gripping new series about teens held captive in a human zoo by an otherworldly race. From Megan Shepherd, the acclaimed author of The Madman’s Daughter trilogy.

When Cora Mason wakes in a desert, she doesn’t know where she is or who put her there. As she explores, she finds an impossible mix of environments—tundra next to desert, farm next to jungle, and a strangely empty town cobbled together from different cultures—all watched over by eerie black windows. And she isn’t alone.

Four other teenagers have also been taken: a beautiful model, a tattooed smuggler, a secretive genius, and an army brat who seems to know too much about Cora’s past. None of them have a clue as to what happened, and all of them have secrets. As the unlikely group struggles for leadership, they slowly start to trust each other. But when their mysterious jailer—a handsome young guard called Cassian—appears, they realize that their captivity is more terrifying than they could ever imagine: Their captors aren’t from Earth. And they have taken the five teenagers for an otherworldly zoo—where the exhibits are humans.

As a forbidden attraction develops between Cora and Cassian, she realizes that her best chance of escape might be in the arms of her own jailer—though that would mean leaving the others behind. Can Cora manage to save herself and her companions? And if so . . . what world lies beyond the walls of their cage?

Find it: AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooks, Goodreads

about the author
Megan Shepherd grew up in the mountains of Western North Carolina, where her family has owned and operated an independent bookstore for over 35 years. Shepherd attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she majored in international studies and went on to live and work in Costa Rica, Senegal, Scotland, Spain, and many other countries. Now, Shepherd has returned to Western North Carolina and is a full-time writer of young adult novels.

She is represented by Josh Adams of Adams Literary.

Author Photo by Kristi Hedberg Photography


Tour Schedule:

Week One:

Week Two:

Enter to win Strays by Jennifer Caloyeras (Open Int’l!)

Strays Feature Banner
All week, we’ve been featuring the new YA novel Strays by Jennifer Caloyeras — and today, we’ve got your chance to win. And as a bonus … this contest is open INTERNATIONALLY!

Yes, we are giving away one finished print copy of Strays (U.S. only) and one e-book version of Strays in the format of your choice (open Internationally).

To enter, tell us in the comments below about an animal that you’ve shared a special bond with — then fill out the Rafflecopter form here to make it official, and earn extra entries.

Contest is open through midnight (PT) on Friday, May 29th.

straysHere’s more about Strays:

Sometimes, life becomes unleashed.

Sixteen-year-old Iris Moody has a problem controlling her temper, but then, she has a lot to be angry about. Dead mother. Workaholic father. Dumped by her boyfriend. Failing English.

When a note in Iris’s journal is mistaken as a threat against her English teacher, she finds herself in trouble not only with school authorities but with the law.

In addition to summer school, dog-phobic Iris is sentenced to an entire summer of community service, rehabilitating troubled dogs. Iris believes she is nothing like Roman, the three-legged pit bull who is struggling to overcome his own dark past, not to mention the other humans in the program. But when Roman’s life is on the line, Iris learns that counting on the help of others may be the only way to save him.

Connect with Jennifer online:

Beyond The Game of Love & Death: Hoovervilles

Some significant scenes in The Game of Love & Death take place in one of Seattle’s largest Hoovervilles — shanty towns built by homeless people during the Great Depression of the 1930s. Today, we explore a little more about these encampments.

Why Hooverville?

herbert hooverThe shanty towns that arose during the Great Depression were called “Hoovervilles” after President Herbert Hoover, who was in office when the Great Depression hit and was largely blamed for the economic downturn.

There’s a great little ditty from the original Broadway musical version of “Annie,” in which citizens of an NYC Hooverville sing about “thanking” Herbert Hoover:

Hoovervilles weren’t the only thing named for the President during this time. Here are a few other gems:

  • “Hoover Blanket” – newspapers used for blankets
  • “Hoover Flag” – an empty pocket turned inside out
  • “Hoover Leather” – cardboard used to line a shoe with worn soles
  • “Hoover Wagon” – a car with horses hitched to it because the driver couldn’t afford fuel

Nationwide Locations

hooverville shacksAt the peak of the Great Depression, there were hundreds of Hoovervilles across the United States, which were home to thousands of men and women.

The Hoovervilles arose when demand for municipal housing for homeless people surpassed their capacity due to the rapidly rising numbers of homeless and jobless individuals. Most Hoovervilles popped up near soup kitchens and other places where food could be found.

The Hoovervilles were eventually dismantled thanks to “shanty eradication” programs following the economic recovery in the 1940s.

 Washington State Hoovervilles

Washington state had one of the largest numbers of Hoovervilles in the United States. Seattle, alone, boasted eight of them — including one of the single largest Hoovervilles in the country, located adjacent to the Port of Seattle.

The Game of Love & Death takes place in Seattle in 1937, when this photo of a Hooverville near the shipyards was taken:

Seattle Hooverville circa 1937

Exclusive Q&A with Strays author Jennifer Caloyeras

Strays Feature Banner
Today, I’m pleased to bring you our exclusive Q&A with Strays author Jennifer Caloyeras. Enjoy!

jennifer_caloyeras_high2You write about dogs regularly, but tell us what inspired the story behind STRAYS?

I have been the dog columnist for the Los Feliz Ledger for the past ten years. Many years ago, I wrote a column about an organization in Santa Monica called K9 connection that matches teens in continuation high school with homeless dogs. Through the program, the teens train and bond with the dogs. As I was writing this column, I thought, this would be a great idea for a young adult novel!

STRAYS really highlights the unique bond that can form between people and animals. Tell us about any such bonds in your life.

My home is full of animals! We have our beloved twelve year old rescue mutt named Reba and our new rescue puppy, Dingo. We also have two guinea pigs, Gunther and Cleo and a host of fish and a turtle. All of our animals are family, but none more than our dogs. We love taking them hiking and on walks around the neighborhood. Dogs are such amazing and intuitive creatures and can really sense if you’re having a bad day. I think until you’ve had a bond with an animal, you can’t imagine how special it is.

straysThere are so many great messages in STRAYS — what do you hope readers take away from it the most?

I think the idea that reaching out and helping others, whether it be a person or an animal, is the key to happiness and community. While Iris is “forced” into this animal program, it is she that ends up being on the receiving end of so much growth and love.

You’re a columnist, short story writer, and novelist. What are some of the challenges of writing in these different mediums? What never changes, regardless of what you’re writing?

I love working in different genres. I’ve also written screenplays, plays and I’m working on my first middle grade chapter novel. I think I like serving the story in whatever medium is best to tell my story. I know I’d get restless working in the same genre again and again. What never changes is the importance of what is at the heart of a story.


Favorite villain?


Pen or pencil?


Favorite piece of clothing?


Song you can’t get out of your head right now?

“Just Give Me A Reason” by Pink (and Nate Ruess from F.U.N.) I can’t stop singing it but I need to find someone to sing Nate Ruess’s part.

Most recent vacation?

I had a great girls weekend to San Diego a few weeks ago.

5 things that are always in your purse?

Sunglasses, sunscreen (this is L.A. after all), Chapstick, dog treats, and a book (right now it’s May We Be Forgiven by A.M. Homes.)

Connect with Jennifer online:

Book Review: The Cage by Megan Shepherd

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A science fiction thriller, The Cage by Megan Shepherd will keep readers guessing with its twists and turns, and unexpected romance.

cage, theThe Maze Runner meets Scott Westerfeld in this gripping new series about teens held captive in a human zoo by an otherworldly race. From Megan Shepherd, the acclaimed author of The Madman’s Daughter trilogy.

When Cora Mason wakes in a desert, she doesn’t know where she is or who put her there. As she explores, she finds an impossible mix of environments—tundra next to desert, farm next to jungle, and a strangely empty town cobbled together from different cultures—all watched over by eerie black windows. And she isn’t alone.

Four other teenagers have also been taken: a beautiful model, a tattooed smuggler, a secretive genius, and an army brat who seems to know too much about Cora’s past. None of them have a clue as to what happened, and all of them have secrets. As the unlikely group struggles for leadership, they slowly start to trust each other. But when their mysterious jailer—a handsome young guard called Cassian—appears, they realize that their captivity is more terrifying than they could ever imagine: Their captors aren’t from Earth. And they have taken the five teenagers for an otherworldly zoo—where the exhibits are humans.

As a forbidden attraction develops between Cora and Cassian, she realizes that her best chance of escape might be in the arms of her own jailer—though that would mean leaving the others behind. Can Cora manage to save herself and her companions? And if so . . . what world lies beyond the walls of their cage?

Forbidden romance gets a whole new spin, as Shepherd crafts a story of an unlikely love between a teen girl and the alien who has imprisoned her (along with four others) in a bizarre human zoo. Mysteries abound within the pages of The Cage: who imprisoned the teens, why were they taken, what lies beyond their prison walls, and what do their captors really want with the teens. These are just a few of the questions that pop up as Shepherd’s story unfolds.

And while we find some of the (supposed) answers by the end of The Cage, a whole host of new mysteries unfold — which will leave readers wanting more. (The Cage is the first in a new series — so more is certainly coming.)

The Cage is a thrilling new entry in teen science fiction, with a fresh new twist on the classic genre. It perhaps leaves a few too many unanswered questions by the book’s end, but there is certainly plenty of room for more to be resolved as the series progresses.

The Cage is in stores May 26th.

Exclusive Classroom Material: Strays by Jennifer Caloyeras

Strays Feature Banner
When Jennifer Caloyeras first reached out to me about the possibility of reviewing her new book Strays on Novel Novice, I was intrigued – of course – by the premise of the book. But what really stood out to me was, when I perused her website, I noticed she had already put together classroom materials for the novel. (You can download discussion questions HERE!)

straysAnd if there’s anything you know about Novel Novice, we LOVE incorporating YA novels into the classroom. So when Jennifer & I started plotting this week’s features, she generously offered to put together some additional classroom materials exclusively for us. Of course I said yes! So, without further ado …

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Today, I’ll be sharing a writing prompt that will hopefully get you thinking more deeply about our connection to the animal world. You can start by writing a first-hand account of your experience below. Perhaps later, you can fill it in with made up details or even write about it in the third person.

PROMPT: Write about a memorable interaction with an animal. (off the top of my head I can think of a bird’s nest filled with eggs that I claimed and the mother bird came back looking for her babies. Or the time I saw a rattlesnake on a hike and instead of being afraid I was in awe of its beauty) Describe the animal using all five senses. How did this interaction make you feel? What did you learn from the experience? The more details you can add the better! Why not throw a metaphor or simile in there. What do you think the animal was thinking? In what ways were you similar to that animal? In what ways were you different?

Animal Outreach:
Do some research in your community and see if there are any programs similar to Ruff Rehabilitation in my novel, Strays. What are the options for participating with animals in your community? How can you get involved? What do you think you can gain by these sorts of experiences? Why is it important to help animals?

Beyond The Game of Love & Death: Women in Early Aviation


In Martha Brockenbrough’s The Game of Love & Death, Flora dreams of being a famous pilot. But in the 1930s, women — especially African-American women — faced a lot of uphill battles to take to the skies. There were, however, some early female pioneers in aviation — including a few who inspired our Flora. So for today’s post, we look at women in early aviation.

Bessie Coleman

Bessie_Coleman_and_her_plane_(1922)Perhaps Flora’s biggest influence, Bessie Coleman was the first African-American female pilot, and the first African-American to hold an international pilot license.

Coleman was inspired to become a pilot after hearing stories about the pilots who flew in World War I. However, being a woman and black, she was unable to get into any U.S. aviation schools. Thanks to the financial backing of the Chicago Defender and banker Jesse Binga, Coleman went abroad and studied aviation in Paris.

It was in Paris in 1921 that Coleman earned her international aviation license — the first American of ANY gender or ethnicity to do so.

Notable Women in Early Aviation

From aviation’s earliest days, women have been pioneers in the field. Women in Aviation International highlights some of the earliest significant women in flight:

  • 1906 E. Lillian Todd (USA)
    First Woman to Design and Build an Aircraft
  • Thérèse Peltier, First Woman to Pilot an Aircraft

    Thérèse Peltier, First Woman to Pilot an Aircraft

    1908 Therese Peltier (France)
    First Woman to Pilot an Aircraft

  • 1910 Blanche Stuart Scott (USA)
    First Woman to Solo an Airplane
  • 1910 Raymonde de Laroche (France)
    First Woman in the World to Receive Pilot License
  • 1911 Melli Beese (Germany)
    First Woman in Germany to Receive a Pilot License
  • 1911 Harriet Quimby (USA)
    First U.S. Woman to Earn a Pilot Certificate and to Cross the English Channel
  • 1915 Katherine Stinson (USA)
    First Female Aerobatic Pilot
  • 1918 Marjorie Stinson (USA)
    First Woman Airmail Pilot
  • 1921 Bessie Coleman (USA)
    First African-American (male or female) to Receive a Pilot License
  • 1922 Tadashi Hyodo (Japan)
    First Woman in Japan to Receive a Pilot License
  • 1927 Phoebe Fairgrave Omlie (USA)
    First Woman to Obtain an Aircraft Mechanics License
  • 1929 Louise Thaden (USA)
    First Winner of All Women’s Air Race
  • 1929 Florence “Pancho” Barnes (USA)
    First Woman Stunt Pilot in Motion Pictures
  • 1929 Bobbi Trout (USA)
    First Woman to Perform In-flight Aerial Refueling
  • Amelia Earhart

    Amelia Earhart

    1930 Amy Johnson (UK)
    First Woman to Fly from England to Australia

  • 1931 Anne Morrow Lindbergh (USA)
    First U.S. Woman Glider Pilot
  • 1932 Ruthy Tu (China)
    First Woman Pilot in the Chinese Army
  • 1932 Amelia Earhart (USA)
    First Woman to Cross the Atlantic Solo
  • 1934 Helen Richey (USA)
    First Woman to be Hired as a Pilot for a U.S. Commercial Airline (Central Airlines)

A Timeline of Women in Aviation

From the organization Women in Aviation International, here is a timeline of women’s role in aviation:

  • Sally Ride, First U.S. Woman in Space

    Sally Ride, First U.S. Woman in Space

    1903 The Wright Brothers’ powered flight

  • 1910 First woman to receive pilot license
  • 1911 First U.S. woman to receive pilot license
  • 1927 First woman to obtain aircraft mechanics license
  • 1932 First woman to cross Atlantic Ocean solo
  • 1934 First woman pilot hired for U.S. commercial airline
  • 1942 First women hired as air traffic control specialists
  • 1942 First U.S. women pilots to fly military aircraft
  • 1943 First U.S. women navigators for the military
  • 1953 First woman to break sound barrier
  • 1963 First woman in space
  • 1964 First woman to successfully fly around the world
  • 1973 First woman hired as ATP for modern, jet-equipped scheduled airline
  • 1980 First woman to win the World Aerobatics Championship
  • 1984 First woman walks in space
  • 1993 U.S. Department of Defense opens combat aviation to women
  • 1999 First woman space shuttle commander

Read more here.


Strays author Jennifer Caloyeras Guest Post: Creative Inspiration

Strays Feature Banner
Today, I’m excited to share an exclusive guest post from Strays author Jennifer Caloyeras. We’re featuring Strays all this week on the blog, so tune in every day for new features, including your chance to win a copy of the book!

For now, here is Jennifer’s guest post:

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Creative Inspiration for My Novel, Strays
by Jennifer Caloyeras

straysA story isn’t born out of thin air, there’s always some sort of inspiration. I’ve written stories inspired by dreams. And I’ve also written stories that have been inspired by real life.

For my latest young adult novel, Strays, a few different experiences converged.

The idea initially occurred when I was doing some research for a dog column years ago. I was writing an article on an organization called K-9 connection based in Santa Monica. Here, teens in continuation school are paired up with homeless dogs. They learn how to train and trust these dogs and in turn gain confidence themselves. As I was writing this column, I put this idea in my back pocket (and into my writing journal) thinking, “this would be a great premise for a story!”

jennifer_caloyeras_high2Roman, the three-legged Pit bull in the story, was inspired by my own challenging experience adopting an aggressive pit mix. Willie, our puppy, had redirected aggressive issues (same as the fictitious Roman). This means that when Willie couldn’t attack the thing he wanted (another dog, for example) he would redirect his aggression to whomever was at the end of his leash (yours truly). I learned a lot about dog psychology while training Willie.

Iris, the sixteen year old protagonist in my novel, ends up in summer school for English. English was always my favorite subject in school and I was lucky to have so many wonderful and supportive English teachers. Perry, the kind and compassionate summer school teacher in my novel, is an amalgam of all my amazing English teachers.

jennifer caloyeras2I have always had a fascination with fairy tales, especially ones that are inverted or told from a different point of view. I discovered Angela Carter’s short story collection, “The Bloody Chamber” when I was in graduate school. I loved Carter’s feminist twist on beloved tales so I worked her novel into my story. These fairy tales always deal with recurring tropes and for Iris, it’s the story of both the missing mother and the wild child that she really finds a connection.

Finally, I needed a setting for my story. In the story, the ocean reminds Iris of her late mother, who loved to swim in the waves, so I knew I needed a beachside community and I settled on Santa Cruz, California. I know Santa Cruz well because I went to college there. Santa Cruz is such a serene and beautiful place, I thought it would be a good juxtaposition of Iris and Roman’s anger issues.

So, as you can see, this novel was inspired by an intersection of many different ideas and experiences!

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Connect with Jennifer online:

New YA Releases: May 19, 2015

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Here’s a look at today’s new YA releases:

chantress furyChantress Fury by Amy Butler Greenfield

The sea is coming. We are coming. And we will drown you all.

With a song, Lucy can control the wind and the water; she can bring castles and kingdoms to their feet. Since Lucy mastered her powers, King Henry has kept her close as he’s rebuilt England. She’s his best ally—and his workhorse. And now he’s called her to investigate attempted murder: His men claim they were almost killed on the Thames…by a mermaid. All Lucy can glean from the creature they’ve captured is a warning: The sea is coming. We are coming. And we will drown you all.

And then the floods begin. Swaths of London are submerged as the people scramble to defend themselves against the water—and the monsters—that are flooding their streets. As mistrust of Lucy’s magic grows, the king relies on Nat, Lucy’s great love, to guide them through the storm. But Nat is cold and distant to Lucy. He swore his love only a year before, and now he calls her “stranger.”

Lucy is determined to defeat this powerful new magic alone if she must. But then she hears an eerie song within the water…can it mean that she’s not the last Chantress after all?

Sweepingly romantic and crackling with magic, Chantress Fury triumphantly concludes the powerful Chantress trilogy.

convictionConviction by Kelly Loy Gilbert

Ten years ago, God gave Braden a sign, a promise that his family wouldn’t fall apart the way he feared.

But Braden got it wrong: his older brother, Trey, has been estranged from the family for almost as long, and his father, the only parent Braden has ever known, has been accused of murder. The arrest of Braden’s father, a well-known Christian radio host, has sparked national media attention. His fate lies in his son’s hands; Braden is the key witness in the upcoming trial.

Braden has always measured himself through baseball. He is the star pitcher in his small town of Ornette, and his ninety-four-mile-per-hour pitch al- ready has minor league scouts buzzing in his junior year. Now the rules of the sport that has always been Braden’s saving grace are blurred in ways he never realized, and the prospect of playing against Alex Reyes, the nephew of the police officer his father is accused of killing, is haunting his every pitch.

Braden faces an impossible choice, one that will define him for the rest of his life, in this brutally honest debut novel about family, faith, and the ultimate test of conviction.

eternity's wheelEternity’s Wheel by Mallory Reaves, Michael Reaves & Neil Gaiman

The conclusion to the bestselling InterWorld series, from Neil Gaiman, Michael Reaves, and Mallory Reaves!

Joey Harker never wanted to be a leader. But he’s the one everyone is looking to now that FrostNight looms, and he’ll have to step up if he has any hope of saving InterWorld, the Multiverse, and everything in between.

Eternity’s Wheel is the heart-pounding conclusion to the InterWorld series, full of time and space travel, magic, science, and the bravery of a young boy who must now face his destiny as a young man.

improbably theory of ana and zakThe Improbable Theory of Ana and Zak by Brian Katcher

The Improbable Theory of Ana and Zak is Stonewall Book Award-winning author Brian Katcher’s hilarious he said/she said romance about two teens recovering from heartbreak and discovering themselves on an out-of-this-world accidental first date.

It all begins when Ana Watson’s little brother, Clayton, secretly ditches the quiz bowl semifinals to go to the Washingcon sci-fi convention on what should have been a normal, résumé-building school trip.

If slacker Zak Duquette hadn’t talked up the geek fan fest so much, maybe Clayton wouldn’t have broken nearly every school rule or jeopardized Ana’s last shot at freedom from her uptight parents.

Now, teaming up with Duquette is the only way for Ana to chase down Clayton in the sea of orcs, zombies, bikini-clad princesses, Trekkies, and Smurfs. After all, one does not simply walk into Washingcon.

But in spite of Zak’s devil-may-care attitude, he has his own reasons for being as lost as Ana-and Ana may have more in common with him than she thinks. Ana and Zak certainly don’t expect the long crazy night, which begins as a nerdfighter manhunt, to transform into so much more…

off the pageOff the Page by Samantha van Leer & Jodi Picoult

From #1 New York Times bestselling authors Jodi Picoult and her daughter and co-writer, Samantha van Leer, comes OFF THE PAGE, a tender and appealing romantic YA novel filled with humor, adventure, and magical relationships.

Sixteen-year-old Delilah is finally united with Oliver—a prince literally taken from the pages of a fairy tale. There are, however, complications now that Oliver has been able to enter the real world. To exist in Delilah’s world, Oliver must take the place of a regular boy. Enter Edgar, who agrees to take Oliver’s role in Delilah’s favorite book. In this multilayered universe, the line between what is on the page and what is possible is blurred, but all must be resolved for the characters to live happily ever after. Includes twelve full-color illustrations, and black-and-white decorations throughout.

Full of humor and witty commentary about life, OFF THE PAGE is a stand-alone novel as well as a companion to the authors’ bestseller Between the Lines, and is perfect for readers looking for a fairytale ending. Fans of Sarah Dessen and Meg Cabot are sure to appreciate this novel about love, romance, and relationships.

sense of the infiniteA Sense of the Infinite by Hilary T. Smith

By the author of the critically acclaimed Wild Awake, a beautiful coming-of-age story about deep friendship, the weight of secrets, and the healing power of nature.

It’s senior year of high school, and Annabeth is ready—ready for everything she and her best friend, Noe, have been planning and dreaming. But there are some things Annabeth isn’t prepared for, like the constant presence of Noe’s new boyfriend. Like how her relationship with her mom is wearing and fraying. And like the way the secret she’s been keeping hidden deep inside her for years has started clawing at her insides, making it hard to eat or even breathe.

But most especially, she isn’t prepared to lose Noe.

For years, Noe has anchored Annabeth and set their joint path. Now Noe is drifting in another direction, making new plans and dreams that don’t involve Annabeth. Without Noe’s constant companionship, Annabeth’s world begins to crumble. But as a chain of events pulls Annabeth further and further away from Noe, she finds herself closer and closer to discovering who she’s really meant to be—with her best friend or without.

Hilary T. Smith’s second novel is a gorgeously written meditation on identity, loss, and the bonds of friendship.

three day summerThree Day Summer by Sarvenaz Tash

Michael is unsure about most things. Go to college? Enlist in the military? Break up with his girlfriend? All big question marks. He is living for the moment and all he wants is a few days at the biggest concert of the summer.

Cora lives in the town hosting the music festival. She’s volunteering in the medical tent. She’s like that, always the good girl. But there is something in the air at this concert and suddenly Cora finds herself wanting to push her own boundaries.

When Michael and Cora meet, sparks fly, hearts race, and all the things songs are written about come true. And all the while, three days of the most epic summer await them…

illusionariumIllusionarium by Heather Dixon

What if the world holds more dangers—and more wonders—than we have ever known? And what if there is more than one world? From Heather Dixon, author of the acclaimed Entwined, comes a brilliantly conceived adventure that sweeps us from the inner workings of our souls to the far reaches of our imaginations.

Jonathan is perfectly ordinary. But then—as every good adventure begins—the king swoops into port, and Jonathan and his father are enlisted to find the cure to a deadly plague. Jonathan discovers that he’s a prodigy at working with a new chemical called fantillium, which creates shared hallucinations—or illusions. And just like that, Jonathan is knocked off his path. Through richly developed parallel worlds, vivid action, a healthy dose of humor, and gorgeous writing, Heather Dixon spins a story that calls to mind The Night Circus and Pixar movies, but is wholly its own.

killer withinKiller Within by S.E. Green

In the heart-pounding sequel, teen vigilante Lane must face the secrets and unexpected consequences that arise in the wake of her first kill.

It’s been three months since the sadistic Decapitator’s demise, and Lane feels both closer to and more alienated than ever from her united, grieving family. Haunted by conflicting memories, she resumes the role of Masked Savior vigilante—but her heart just isn’t in it. For Lane now knows the rush of deeper thrills. Darker thrills. And a growing part of her wants to revisit its seductive power.

To Lane’s chagrin, the Masked Savior inspires its own fan site, where groupies gather online to praise, document, and debate each delivered act of justice. But then one of Lane’s secret admirers becomes a cunning copycat, assaulting the defenseless with escalating violence. And Lane suspects someone is spying on her, edging closer to making contact-someone who knows her secrets.

Will Lane be able to stop the copycat and keep her identity protected? Or will she give in to the thrills that tempt her? Because as her life continues to unravel, the revelations shake Lane to her core.

made you upMade You Up by Francesca Zappia

Reality, it turns out, is often not what you perceive it to be—sometimes, there really is someone out to get you. Made You Up tells the story of Alex, a high school senior unable to tell the difference between real life and delusion. This is a compelling and provoking literary debut that will appeal to fans of Wes Anderson, Silver Linings Playbook, and Liar.

Alex fights a daily battle to figure out the difference between reality and delusion. Armed with a take-no-prisoners attitude, her camera, a Magic 8-Ball, and her only ally (her little sister), Alex wages a war against her schizophrenia, determined to stay sane long enough to get into college. She’s pretty optimistic about her chances until classes begin, and she runs into Miles. Didn’t she imagine him? Before she knows it, Alex is making friends, going to parties, falling in love, and experiencing all the usual rites of passage for teenagers. But Alex is used to being crazy. She’s not prepared for normal.

Funny, provoking, and ultimately moving, this debut novel featuring the quintessential unreliable narrator will have readers turning the pages and trying to figure out what is real and what is made up.

sparks in scotlandSparks in Scotland by Rhonda Helms & A. Destiny

First crush, first love, first kiss—Ava learns about more than her heritage while vacationing in Scotland in this addition to the sweet and clean Flirt series!

Ava is going on vacation to Scotland, where she’s supposed to learn more about her Scottish heritage. She’s excited to see the castles, abbeys, and coastal hills—and maybe even catch a glimpse of Nessie herself—but Ava doesn’t expect to meet Graham.

He’s cute, sweet, and has the perfect Scottish accent…but does he like her as much as she likes him?

And if there is something of a mutual attraction there, Ava wonders, is it worth pursuing a crush when she’ll be on the other side of the Atlantic in just two weeks?

dangerous deceptionDangerous Deception by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

From the world of Beautiful Creatures–a dangerous new tale of love and magic continues in the sequel to Dangerous Creatures.

Love is ten kinds a crazy, right?
Let me put it to you this way: If you can get away, run. Don’t walk.
Because once you’re exposed, you’ll never get a Siren outta your head.

Some loves are cursed. Others are…dangerous. Especially the love between wannabe rocker and quarter Incubus, Wesley “Link” Lincoln, and Dark Caster, Siren, and bonafide bad girl, Ridley Duchannes.

But now Ridley is missing, and Link was with her-right up until she vanished. Determined to find her, Link reunites with his New York bandmates and the mysterious Lennox Gates, who wants Rid for himself. Together they travel to the deep south, find the crossroads where blues guitarist Robert Johnson made his deal with the devil, discover a menagerie of Casters locked in cages, and uncover an evil in New Orleans that threatens to destroy them all.

This time, love might not be enough.

school for unusual girlsA School for Unusual Girls by Kathleen Baldwin

It’s 1814. Napoleon is exiled on Elba. Europe is in shambles. Britain is at war on four fronts. And Stranje House, a School for Unusual Girls, has become one of Regency England’s dark little secrets. The daughters of the beau monde who don’t fit high society’s constrictive mold are banished to Stranje House to be reformed into marriageable young ladies. Or so their parents think. In truth, Headmistress Emma Stranje, the original unusual girl, has plans for the young ladies—plans that entangle the girls in the dangerous world of spies, diplomacy, and war.

After accidentally setting her father’s stables on fire while performing a scientific experiment, Miss Georgiana Fitzwilliam is sent to Stranje House. But Georgie has no intention of being turned into a simpering, pudding-headed, marriageable miss. She plans to escape as soon as possible—until she meets Lord Sebastian Wyatt. Thrust together in a desperate mission to invent a new invisible ink for the English war effort, Georgie and Sebastian must find a way to work together without losing their heads—or their hearts…

last good day of the yearThe Last Good Day of the Year by Jessica Warman

Ten years ago, in the early hours of New Year’s Day, seven-year-old Samantha and her next door neighbor, Remy, watched as a man broke into Sam’s home and took her younger sister, Turtle, from her sleeping bag. Remy and Sam, too afraid to intervene at the time, later identified the man as Sam’s sister Gretchen’s much older ex-boyfriend, Steven, who was sent to prison for Turtle’s murder.

Now, Sam’s shattered family is returning to her childhood home in an effort to heal. As long-buried memories begin to surface, Sam wonders if she and Remy accurately registered everything they saw. The more they re-examine the events of that fateful night, the more questions they discover about what really happened to Turtle.

Master storyteller Jessica Warman keeps readers guessing in this arresting page-turner.

hold me like a breathHold Me Like a Breath by Tiffany Schmidt

Penelope Landlow has grown up with the knowledge that almost anything can be bought or sold—including body parts. She’s the daughter of one of the three crime families that control the black market for organ transplants.

Penelope’s surrounded by all the suffocating privilege and protection her family can provide, but they can’t protect her from the autoimmune disorder that causes her to bruise so easily.

And in her family’s line of work no one can be safe forever.

All Penelope has ever wanted is freedom and independence. But when she’s caught in the crossfire as rival families scramble for prominence, she learns that her wishes come with casualties, that betrayal hurts worse than bruises, that love is a risk worth taking . . . and maybe she’s not as fragile as everyone thinks.

lion heartLion Heart by A.C. Gaughen

Scarlet has captured the hearts of readers as well as the heart of Robin Hood, and after ceaseless obstacles and countless threats, readers will finally find out the fate of the Lady Thief.

Imprisoned by Prince John for months, Scarlet finds herself a long way from Nottinghamshire. After a daring escape from the Prince’s clutches, she learns that King Richard’s life is in jeopardy, and Eleanor of Aquitaine demands a service Scarlet can’t refuse: spy for her and help bring Richard home safe. But fate—and her heart—won’t allow her to stay away from Nottinghamshire for long, and together, Scarlet and Rob must stop Prince John from going through with his dark plans for England. They can not rest until he’s stopped, but will their love be enough to save them once and for all?

scarlett undercoverScarlett Undercover by Jennifer Latham

Meet Scarlett, a smart, sarcastic, kick-butt, Muslim American heroine, ready to take on crime in her hometown of Las Almas. When a new case finds the private eye caught up in a centuries-old battle of evil genies and ancient curses, Scarlett discovers that her own family secrets may have more to do with the situation than she thinks — and that cracking the case could lead to solving her father’s murder.

Jennifer Latham delivers a compelling story and a character to remember in this one-of-a-kind debut novel.

For the comments: Which of today’s new releases are you most excited about?

March & April 2015 Contest Winners

contests giveaways banner
Well, I was doing SO GOOD for a while there — being on top of contest winners regularly each month. Then we started planning a move, and that all went away … alas. ANYWAY, I’m here now with a catch-up on contest winners from March & April. Thanks for your patience, and now … the winners!


lies i told

One winner receives a LIES I TOLD prize pack. Another winner receives a Harper Teen ARC prize pack.

The winner of the LIES I TOLD prize pack is: Kimberly V.

The winner of the Harper Teen ARC prize pack is: Cindy K.

ZEROBOXER Poster Contest


The winner of this contest receives a copy of ZEROBOXER by Fonda Lee, plus two fight posters inspired by the book.

The winner is: Shannon Quinn Nicole

THE REMEDY Prize Pack Contest

The Remedy_CleanserPrizePack

The winner of this contest receives a Philosophy Purity facial cleanser set and a copy of The Remedy.

The winner is: Autumn Wrought


Finding Mr. Brightside

The winner of this contest receives a copy of Finding Mr. Brightside by Jay Clark.

The winner is: Tayte


winner's crime

We asked you, what would you pay too much for? The winner of this contest receives a copy of The Winner’s Crime.

The winner is: Rachelle Hayes


tight rope walkers

Two winners will each receive a copy of The Tightrope Walkers by David Almond.

The winners are: Danielle Degis and bn100


The Walls Around Us_BotM_banner

The winner of this contest will receive a finished copy of The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma. We asked you to submit a 250-500 word piece, describing a teen penitentiary in some way.

The winner is Stephanie Parke and here is their entry:

The cold gray light of dawn filters slowly through my bars. They are spaced wide enough that my skeletal body might fit through, too bad they re electrified. One touch and I would be cooked like bacon.  I search blindly with my hands  wincing at the blunted bloody tips.  Scrabbling on the hard scratchy surface of the cement blocks of my cell stripped the skin right off but I had to find a way to mark the time. I find what i am looking for scratched deep into the unforgiving surface, and I begin to count them, just as I do every morning.

The numbers roll around in my head like bees buzzy angrily and I try to catch them but they flitter away into the darkness. I shiver as I scratch the stubble on my shaved head and wonder how much longer they will really keep me here. My crime was a joke, a made up distraction to force me here because I am one of the Gifted.

The government started rounding us up a year ago, identifying us as”Gifted”.  Those of us who are able to control nature or others were quickly labeled. Those labels quickly became our inmate numbers as Gifted crime sprees began popping up overnight. We were imprisoned, reconditioned.

The coughing starts again and I wonder if it will kill me this time. Ever since the day they dragged us in here the cough has been coming more and more frequently . I don’t know if it’s the damp of the cells or something more sinister, but I cannot breathe as my lungs begin to close over once more. I gasp and reach for my twin sister’s still form under the blanket, hoping she can help. I pull her blanket as I hit my knees and pull it off her.

The shock is so sudden as I stare into her sightless eyes that my coughing actually stops. I stare at her,, my mirror image and shake harder. I know Tali a didn’t want to die any more than I do, but here she is, cold and dead before her time . I feel the tears on my cheeks as i reach to close her eyes. .

I study the marks scratched above her bed, identical ]to mine and count them. She had seventy five. We had lived through it, just for her to die like this.  Tali a and I have the same gift, the ability to control the weather,. Not that I can use it thanks to the inhibitor collars we are forced to wear.  I feel desolation sink in and try to fight it as I pull myself up on the cot with her and cry harder.  Her skin is cold and her body thin beneath it. I know I look just as bad. I wonder if I will die too, I wonder if anyone will care.

Congrats again to all our winners! See our latest contests HERE!