August & September Contest Winners

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I am remiss in announcing contest winners from the past two months. Apologies for the delay — it’s been rather hectic lately, both in real life and on the blog. Without further ado, here are the winners from our August and (most of our) September contests:

The Devil You Know Cover Reveal Contest

devil you knowWe were SO excited to be part of the cover reveal for Trish Doller’s new book. The winner of this contest receives an ARC of The Devil You Know, plus copies of Trish’s other books. The winner is: Kira Budge

If I Stay Movie Contest

if_i_stay_xlgo celebrate the theatrical release of the If I Stay movie, we offered up an AMAZING prize pack. The winner is: Dinorah Gonzalez

The Maze Runner Movie Contest

maze runner posterTo celebrate the release of The Maze Runner in theaters, we offered up an exciting prize pack for all you Gladers. The winner is: Wild Orchid

The Bridge from Me to You Poetry + Prose Writing Contest

bridge from me to you, the - large For this contest, we asked you to write a 250-500 word piece of flash fiction that combined poetry and prose. The winner receives a copy of The Bridge from Me to You by Lisa Schroeder. Two runners-up each receive a bookmark & signed bookplate from Lisa.

The winner is Kelsey Leigh Kicklighter and here is her winning entry:

Peter holds my arm down, working the ink through my skin. I let out a sigh that makes the little curls around my forehead dance. I want a cigarette. I don’t smoke, I just feel restless. My fingers twitch. Peter pulls the tattoo gun back from my arm for a moment. “Be still. We almost halfway through. All downhill from here.” His voice is soft and lyrical despite the heavy German accent.
He’s lying. This is just the outline. The outline doesn’t hurt much, doesn’t show much. It’s just a glimpse. It’s the shading that matters, that defines it. The shading is a bitch though.

The needle burns,
but my favorite things
always do.
Sunlight, bonfires,
tattoos, whiskey.
And you.

This isn’t the first time
You’ve left your mark on me. The first
Was in the summer after I turned seventeen
And my mother told us not to stay out too late.
We didn’t,
But I came home with my hair down
So she wouldn’t see exactly
Where your lips had been.

The second was the ring you put on my finger,
A promise.
And after I took it off again
It was the white band
That whispered to me about you.

The third was more of an absence,
The empty space I had saved for you,
The hole in my plans, in my heart.

Now this
Although admittedly self-inflicted
(or Peter-inflicted, really)
I can only hope that it will remind me
Not to answer your calls again.

Listing it all out like that, it doesn’t seem like much. But that’s only the outline. The meaning, the depth, and the reasons are all in the shading. Shading can be a bitch, though.

Our runners-up are Stephanie Parke and Sophia Hu.

Congrats to all our winners!


In the Afterlight: Yellow Psi Contest

Today, we are pleased to host a giveaway in support of The Darkest Minds series and the upcoming release of the third book, In the Afterlight by Alexandra Bracken.

There are several contests going on throughout September and October to celebrate In the Afterlight, with different bloggers featuring different prize packs based on the 5 Psi groups featured in The Darkest Minds series:

isolated on white bright yellow sparks

At the bottom of this post, you’ll find a list of all participating bloggers for all five Psi groups — though not all contests are live yet. The campaign will continue throughout October!


Read on into the afterlight! Enter for your chance to win a book light for bedtime reading plus The Darkest Minds series & tote bag.


Prizing & samples courtesy of Disney-Hyperion
Giveaway open to US addresses only

Complete the Rafflecopter form HERE for your chance to win. Contest ends at midnight (PT) on Monday, October 6th.

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by Alexandra Bracken
In stores October 28th  

InTheAfterlight_FinalCoverRuby can’t look back. Fractured by an unbearable loss, she and the kids who survived the government’s attack on Los Angeles travel north to regroup. Only Ruby can keep their highly dangerous prisoner in check. But with Clancy Gray, there’s no guarantee you’re fully in control, and everything comes with a price.

When the Children’s League disbands, Ruby rises up as a leader and forms an unlikely allegiance with Liam’s brother, Cole, who has a volatile secret of his own. There are still thousands of other Psi kids suffering in government “rehabilitation camps” all over the country. Freeing them–revealing the governments unspeakable abuses in the process–is the mission Ruby has claimed since her own escape from Thurmond, the worst camp in the country.

But not everyone is supportive of the plan Ruby and Cole craft to free the camps. As tensions rise, competing ideals threaten the mission to uncover the cause of IANN, the disease that killed most of America’s children and left Ruby and others with powers the government will kill to keep contained. With the fate of a generation in their hands, there is no room for error. One wrong move could be the spark that sets the world on fire.

ABOUT SPARKS RISE (The Darkest Minds: 2.5 e-Book release)
Available online now

SparksRise_FinalCoverThis New eBook Novella connects the last two novels in The Darkest Minds trilogy.

Sam didn’t think things could get worse at Thurmand rehabilitation camp. Then the Reds arrive. Everyone assumed the kids with firepower had been killed years ago. Instead they were taken away, brainwashed, and returned as terrifyingly effective guards. To her horror, Sam recognizes one of them: Lucas, the one spark of light in Sam’s dark childhood.

Lucas has a deadly secret–he beat the brutal training that turned his fellow Reds into mindless drones. When Sam defends herself against an attack by a vile PSF guard and faces a harrowing punishment, Lucas must risk his everything to save her.

AlexBrackenAuthorPhotoABOUT THE AUTHOR

Alexandra Bracken was born and raised in Arizona, but moved east to study at the College of William & Mary in Virginia.  She recently relocated to New York City, where she worked in publishing and lives in a charming apartment overflowing with books.



Telekinesis (Blue) Prize Pack

Intelligence (Green) Prize Pack

Mind Control (Orange) Prize Pack

Pyrokinesis (Red) Prize Pack

Electrokinesis (Yellow) Prize Pack

Get ready for Nick & Tesla’s Super-Cyborg Gadget Glove

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Today, I have the pleasure of sharing a really fun middle grade series with you — just in time for the release of the FOURTH book! I’m talking about Nick & Tesla, 11-year-old sibling super-sleuths.

The books are charmingly-written adventure mysteries, and each one includes a variety of interactive how-to projects. It’s the perfect way to show young readers that there is more to reading than just the words on the page — that reading can open the doors to new activities, new knowledge, new skills, and more.

Nick & Tesla’s Super-Cyborg Gadget Glove comes out October 7th — but here’s a refresher on the first three books, in case you’re new to this fantastic series.

nick tesla 1Nick & Tesla’s High-Voltage Danger Lab

Nick and Tesla are bright 11-year-old siblings with a knack for science, electronics, and getting into trouble.

When their parents mysteriously vanish, they’re sent to live with their Uncle Newt, a brilliant inventor who engineers top-secret gadgets for a classified government agency. It’s not long before Nick and Tesla are embarking on adventures of their own—engineering all kinds of outrageous MacGyverish contraptions to save their skin: 9-volt burglar alarms, electromagnets, mobile tracking devices, and more.

Readers are invited to join in the fun as each story contains instructions and blueprints for five different projects.

In Nick and Tesla’s High-Voltage Danger Lab, we meet the characters and learn how to make everything from rocket launchers to soda-powered vehicles. Learning about science has never been so dangerous—or so much fun!

nick tesla 2Nick & Tesla’s Robot Army Rampage

Nick and Tesla are bright 11-year-old siblings with a knack for science, electronics, and getting into trouble.

When their parents mysteriously vanish, they’re sent to live with their Uncle Newt, a brilliant inventor who engineers top-secret gadgets for a classified government agency. It’s not long before Nick and Tesla are embarking on adventures of their own—engineering all kinds of outrageous MacGyverish contraptions to save their skin: 9-volt burglar alarms, electromagnets, mobile tracking devices, and more. Readers are invited to join in the fun as each story contains instructions and blueprints for five different projects.

In Nick and Tesla’s Robot Army Rampage, the brother-and-sister duo unleash a swarm of battery-powered gizmos (which readers can make at home). Learning about science has never been so dangerous—or so much fun!

nick tesla 3Nick & Tesla’s Secret Agent Gadget Battle

After foiling a gang of kidnappers and fending off an army of robots, 11-year-old siblings Nick and Tesla Holt could use a little rest! But as their third mystery opens, they discover there’s a spy in their midst, searching for secrets in the home of their beloved (and slightly crazy) Uncle Newt.

Is it the new laboratory assistant? The exterminator? The housekeepers? Or someone completely unexpected? To expose the mystery agent, Nick and Tesla must engineer all kinds of outrageous contraptions, from code wheels and fingerprint powder to spy cameras and burglar detectors. Best of all, instructions are included throughout the story, so you can build the projects, too!

nick tesla 4Nick & Tesla’s Super-Cyborg Gadget Glove

Bright siblings—and amateur inventors—Nick and Tesla Holt are back in this fourth installment of their whiz-bang middle-grade series. This time, the twins are out to save science itself, as they race against the clock to figure out why a robotic assortment of history’s greatest scientists and inventors keeps going haywire. Is this sabotage, robo-geddon…or something more sinister? To unravel the mystery, they’ll have to keep adding all-new gadgets to their cyborg glove as they stay one step ahead of a hidden adversary.

Together with zany scientist Uncle Newt and their friends Silas and DeMarco, Nick and Tesla won’t give up until an answer is found…but can they do it before time runs out? In this book, readers will learn how to construct a super-cyborg gadget glove that has four incredible functions: LED signal light, ultra-loud emergency alarm, handy sound recorder, and UV secret message revealer. Science and electronics have never been so much fun!



Best of Salt & Storm by Kendall Kulper

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Today, we wrap-up our September 2014 Book of the Month featuring Salt & Storm by Kendall Kulper. It is still amazing to me that Kendall was able to contribute so much, through Q&As and a guest post, all while handling a NEWBORN BABY! Thanks again to Kendall and the folks at Little Brown who made this month’s features possible. Now, onto the highlights:

Kulper_Salt&Storm_HCSalt & Storm Seaside Writing Contest

For this month’s contest, we asked you to write a 250-500 word piece of flash fiction that takes place in a seaside locale. Entries are due by midnight (PT) tomorrow! See the complete rules & details here first.

Beyond Salt & Storm: Classroom Ideas & More

We explored some really fun topics featured in Salt & Storm that took us beyond the book:

More from Kendall Kulper & Her Characters

Salt & Storm Extras

And of course, be sure to check out our review of Salt & Storm here!


Beyond Salt & Storm: Sequel/Prequel News

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If you’re finding yourself as enchanted by Salt & Storm by Kendall Kulper as I was, then you’ll be eager to know if there are more books to come in this world.

Kulper_Salt&Storm_HCFirst things first: Salt & Storm is a standalone novel.

BUT … Kulper has announced that she is working on a prequel! She shares:

It will be set roughly 18 years before the events of SALT & STORM and will include some familiar faces and settings (as well as new characters I hope you’ll love as much as I do).

In her Q&A with us earlier this month, Kulper also talked more about her Kulper_Headshot_Small2decision to write a prequel and NOT a sequel:

I have to give the credit to my editor, Bethany Strout, for suggesting writing another book in this world. I don’t think there will ever be a sequel—I always knew that Avery’s story would begin and end with SALT & STORM—but I had been kicking around a couple of ideas for a prequel, focusing on some of the other Roe witches. Writing SALT & STORM, I had to come up with a lot of backstory that ended up not being used in the book, so this was a great opportunity to delve into some of that.

The prequel was also a chance to see this world beyond just the island where SALT & STORM takes place. Avery mentions other magical people out in the world, and with the prequel, I’m able to show more of those people and how the rest of the world treats them.

No release date has been announced yet for the prequel, but we will certainly be waiting eagerly!

Book Review: Winterspell by Claire Legrand

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The Sugar Plum Fairy is not coming to the rescue in this darkly reimagined version of a holiday classic. Claire Legrand’s Winterspell is a luscious and seductive twist on The Nutcracker, which will enchant readers from the very beginning.

winterspellNew York City, 1899. Clara Stole, the mayor’s ever-proper daughter, leads a double life. Since her mother’s murder, she has secretly trained in self-defense with the mysterious Drosselmeyer.

Then, on Christmas Eve, disaster strikes.

Her home is destroyed, her father abducted–by beings distinctly not human. To find him, Clara journeys to the war-ravaged land of Cane. Her only companion is the dethroned prince Nicholas, bound by a wicked curse. If they’re to survive, Clara has no choice but to trust him, but his haunted eyes burn with secrets–and a need she can’t define. With the dangerous, seductive faery queen Anise hunting them, Clara soon realizes she won’t leave Cane unscathed–if she leaves at all.

Inspired by The Nutcracker, Winterspell is a dark, timeless fairy tale about love and war, longing and loneliness, and a girl who must learn to live without fear.

Winterspell is a mesmerizing read, with a richly imagined world, enchanting characters, and unexpected twists at every turn. The Nutcracker is a brilliant source of inspiration, and the story’s influence is sprinkled throughout the book — and yet Winterspell does not rely on this source material. Legrand has crafted her own plot, her own mythology, and her own dark turns for the story and her characters.

Most of my memories of The Nutcracker come from the Tchaikovsky ballet — and I remember a growing Christmas tree, a dancing teddy bear, and Clara being whisked off to the land of the Sugar Plum Fairy, where delicious treats dance for her delight. But Legrand has tapped into the story’s darkest elements for Winterspell: the kindly but mysterious (and sometimes sinister) Heir Drosselmeyer; the battle between the rats and the Nutcracker; a young girl’s disappearance from her home on Christmas Eve.

Winterspell is an intoxicating blend of fairy tale romance and darkness; there is beauty and evil interwoven throughout the book, from start to finish. The result is a mesmerizing story, and the inability to ever think of The Nutcracker in the same way again.

Winterspell is in stores September 30th.

Book Review: Love is the Drug by Alaya Dawn Johnson

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A political thriller full of social commentary about race and class are the focus of Alaya Dawn Johnson’s newest YA novel, Love is the Drug.

love is the drugFrom the author of THE SUMMER PRINCE, a novel that’s John Grisham’s THE PELICAN BRIEF meets Michael Crichton’s THE ANDROMEDA STRAIN set at an elite Washington D.C. prep school.

Emily Bird was raised not to ask questions. She has perfect hair, the perfect boyfriend, and a perfect Ivy-League future. But a chance meeting with Roosevelt David, a homeland security agent, at a party for Washington DC’s elite leads to Bird waking up in a hospital, days later, with no memory of the end of the night.

Meanwhile, the world has fallen apart: A deadly flu virus is sweeping the nation, forcing quarantines, curfews, even martial law. And Roosevelt is certain that Bird knows something. Something about the virus–something about her parents’ top secret scientific work–something she shouldn’t know.

The only one Bird can trust is Coffee, a quiet, outsider genius who deals drugs to their classmates and is a firm believer in conspiracy theories. And he believes in Bird. But as Bird and Coffee dig deeper into what really happened that night, Bird finds that she might know more than she remembers. And what she knows could unleash the biggest government scandal in US history.

The mystery behind what is truly going on in Love is the Drug is compelling, and is a driving force behind moving the plot forward. But sometimes a book tries to be too much, and tries to address too many subjects — and I think that is ultimately the downfall of Love is the Drug, which often became bogged down by too many elements.

Johnson clearly has a lot to say about race and class — but with a political and medical thriller unfolding alongside these issues, Love is the Drug felt like a book with split personalities. Johnson’s decision to tackle so much within this one book is admirable, but ultimately I think it was a mistake that made the book difficult to read.

I wanted to know what happened, and was compelled to keep reading — but at the same time, I felt frustrated that the mystery did not unfold more smoothly. It felt like the medical/political thriller aspect of the plot was repeatedly put on hold for the social/race aspect of the plot — and the latter was definitely more about social commentary than it was about moving the story forward.

The issues Johnson bring up in Love is the Drug are certainly worth discussing, and worth writing about — especially in YA lit. I just don’t think the combination works in this case, given how much the quality of the book itself suffers for it.

Love is the Drug is in stores September 30th.

Salt & Storm by Kendall Kulper: Classroom Ideas

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Salt & Storm by Kendall Kulper hit store shelves yesterday (yay!!!) and as part of our Book of the Month feature, today we want to offer some ideas for using the book in the classroom. Here are some discussion & essay topic ideas to get you started:

  • JonahspermStudy the impact whaling had as an industry on the islands and coast of new England during the 18th and 19th centuries. Explore how the rise and fall of the whaling industry impacted those communities.
  • Research different types of superstitions that sailors believed in during the 18th and 19th centuries. What sort of talismans or spells would a sailor likely buy into? Compare your findings to the spells mentioned in Salt & Storm.
  • Look into the types of tattoos sailors would have gotten during the 18th and 19th centuries. What were the purposes of these tattoos? Compare your research to what the characters believed about tattoos in Salt & Storm.
  • Kulper_Salt&Storm_HCResearch how and why whaling was such an important industry during its prime, and what lead to its downfall. Use your findings to discuss signs of the industry’s demise in Salt & Storm.
  • Look into the lives of the women and children left behind when whalers went to sea. What kind of life did they face, while their husbands and fathers were away for years at a time, and facing the possibility of death?
  • Research the lives of whalers during the 18th and 19th century. Look into how they were hired and paid for their work, the dangers of whaling, and the details of their day-to-day lives at sea.

For the comments: What other ideas do you have for using Salt & Storm in the classroom?

Book Review: Brutal Youth by Anthony Breznican

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An “un-coming of age” story told with gruesome honesty, Brutal Youth by Anthony Breznican is a dismal but truthful look at the worst parts of adolescence.

brutal youthThree freshmen must join forces to survive at a troubled, working-class Catholic high school with a student body full of bullies and zealots, and a faculty that’s even worse in Anthony Breznican’s Brutal Youth

With a plunging reputation and enrollment rate, Saint Michael’s has become a crumbling dumping ground for expelled delinquents and a haven for the stridently religious when incoming freshman Peter Davidek signs up. On his first day, tensions are clearly on the rise as a picked-upon upperclassmen finally snaps, unleashing a violent attack on both the students who tormented him for so long, and the corrupt, petty faculty that let it happen. But within this desperate place, Peter befriends fellow freshmen Noah Stein, a volatile classmate whose face bears the scars of a hard-fighting past, and the beautiful but lonely Lorelei Paskal —so eager to become popular, she makes only enemies.

To even stand a chance at surviving their freshmen year, the trio must join forces as they navigate a bullying culture dominated by administrators like the once popular Ms. Bromine, their embittered guidance counselor, and Father Mercedes, the parish priest who plans to scapegoat the students as he makes off with church finances. A coming-of-age tale reversed, Brutal Youth follows these students as they discover that instead of growing older and wiser, going bad may be the only way to survive.

Though written for adults, Brutal Youth ‘s main characters are all teenagers — and their journey is not what most YA readers would come to expect. They are all optimistic, hopeful individuals — who, through the course of one torturous freshmen year of high school, come undone in the worst ways possible. It’s a blessing that Breznican has injected his story with so much dark humor; I can’t imagine getting through such horrific events without each little dose of laughter.

It’s sad that Breznican’s story is so honest. After all, the lesson these kids learn is one most of us have learned: that honesty and goodness is rarely rewarded; that deceitfulness and lies are often necessary to survive and to get ahead. Brutal Youth is not an uplifting story, but instead a raw reflection of society today. The optimistic side of me hopes it can serve as a wake-up call to the world that we have to do better; the pessimistic side wonders if that’s even possible.

Called “a Rebel Without a Cause for the twenty-first century” by Stephen King, Brutal Youth is in stores now.

Firebug by Lish McBride Blog Tour Guest Post & Contest: Why Write Paranormal

Firebug BlogTour
Today, I am pleased to be hosting a stop on the official blog tour for Firebug by Lish McBride — which is in stores TODAY, and is one of my favorite books of the year.

Today, we have an exclusive guest blog from Lish, as well as your chance to win a copy of Firebug. So check out Lish’s post below, then keep reading for more on the contest!

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Why Write Paranormal
By Lish McBride

firebugMy thesis advisor asked me a similar question when I was in graduate school. Oh, it was phrased differently and her question was laced with concern, but it was there. She couldn’t understand why I wanted to write fantasy and horror and whatever and not literary fiction. Why else would I be in such a program? Why wouldn’t I see that anything less than literary fiction would be a waste of my time and talent? She was—and is—a wonderful teacher, and very straight forward, which I appreciated. To her the literary novel was the pinnacle, the brass ring, that thing that we should all grasp for. She loves it, and she couldn’t quite understand why I didn’t.

I think, and this is purely speculation, that genre fiction is all the same to her. It doesn’t fire her passion like literary fiction does. What she didn’t get was that was how I felt about literary fiction. I’m not saying it’s terrible or anything. I have no problems with it, just that when I sit down to write, those aren’t the kinds of stories I want to tell. Often, when I read, it’s the same thing. If you give me two stories, and one has a sea monster or a cyborg in it and the other is a coming of age tale with no magic whatsoever, guess which one I’m going to pick? I didn’t read Jane Austen until after I read Pride & Prejudice & Zombies and Sense & Sensibility & Sea Monsters. Usually I need the lure of magic to spark my interest. Only when I read those stories did the source material intrigue me. Regular fiction just doesn’t interest me. So when I wrote “serious” stories in class, I often wrote them as straight and kept the paranormal elements to myself. “This story appears to be about three women who killed an abusive husband, but they’re all secretly witches.”

I write paranormal because those are the stories that come out when I reach for my laptop and when I reach inside my mind for characters. Those are the stories my brain likes to create. Those are also the stories I like to read. I have always loved mythology and fairy tales. Why wouldn’t my writing reflect that? Stories are often sparked by our interests and what we absorb of the outside world. What we read, see, eat, smell—the people we meet, the relationships we have, all of this blends together and becomes fodder for the worlds we create.

I love the way magical worlds can interweave with the everyday, how sometimes it takes seeing something through the eyes of a monster to really understand it, to process it. Frankenstein is an excellent example of this. Mary Shelley used the monster to reveal truth and beauty, to expose certain unsavory things about humanity. Good writing—paranormal or literary or whatever the flavor may be—can do this. I just seem to like my truth with a little bit of magic.

This is not to say that I don’t ever read anything that isn’t paranormal. I read all kinds of things. Fantasy is just the most common genre I read. I have written stories without any magical elements in them. So I know it’s possible for me to do so, but to be honest, they don’t feel finished to me. They don’t feel full. I guess magic, or the paranormal, is the catalyst I need to bring a story to life. And I’m okay with that. There are a lot of writers out there to handle all the other kinds of books. People who really like literary fiction. People who are great at writing it. More power to them. They will spin their tales while I spend my time with gnomes, werewolves, faeries and other beasties. Nothing would make me happier.

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More Firebug Goodies:

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Want to win a copy of Firebug? Just tell us in the comments below why you want to read it, and then fill out the Rafflecopter form here.

Contest is open to mailing addresses in the U.S. or Canada only. Contest ends at midnight (PT) on Tuesday, September 30th.