Playlist for the Dead Blog Tour: Guest Post + Contest

playlist for the dead blog tour
Today we are excited to be hosting a stop on the official blog tour for Playlist for the Dead by Michelle Falkoff. (See our review here!) Be sure to keep reading to learn more about the book, the author & a great contest. But first, here is our exclusive guest post from author Michelle Falkoff.

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On Patience, and Work
A Guest Post by Michelle Falkoff

playlist for the deadWhen I was a kid, I thought writers were people filled with magical ideas who just sat down whenever they felt like it and wrote them down. In one draft. With a pen. (This was a while ago.) Because that seemed impossible to me, I decided I would never be a proper writer; I’d have to settle for remaining a very committed reader who sometimes wrote for fun, on the side, just for myself.

In college, I focused mostly on the reading part, with an eye toward my future career, which was in a field I considered more practical than writing: law. I took some fiction workshop classes to keep the whole “on the side” thing going, and they were fun, but they made me realize that I still didn’t have it—there were no magical ideas, no sitting down at a computer and having the words just flow out (I updated my imagination here). So I headed off to law school.

Fast forward a few years, and being a lawyer was starting to wear on me. I missed writing, even if I didn’t think I was very good at it, even if it wasn’t effortless. I decided to take some night classes, just to give myself something to look forward to at the end of a long workday.

You know how they say that when the student is ready the teacher will appear? I introduced myself in my first night class as a lawyer who’d always wanted to be a writer, and my professor basically said, “Yeah, I did that too.” It turned out he’d gone to law school and decided he’d rather write, so he’d skipped practicing and went straight to get an MFA in fiction writing. Because writing was something you could study, and get better at, with work.

Work! I could do that. Was he sure magic wasn’t necessary, though? He was. As were my other teachers, one after the next, all of whom were all about work. With work, they said, the magic would come. Not the other way around.

With that, I quit my job and went back to grad school and worked. And worked and worked and worked. I realized quickly that I was too old to be a wunderkind—some of my colleagues had just graduated from college—but I could fix that, I thought. I’d just write a book while I was in school and get it published and it would still be fast! I could make up for lost time! No “novel in a drawer” for me.

Except that wasn’t how it went. There’s no skipping the work, and I needed more of it. Many years have passed, and there are a couple of novels in the drawer now, but I’m finally seeing the thing happen that I never even thought it was reasonable to dream about: pretty soon, I’ll be able to walk into a bookstore and see something I wrote. (If they carry it. Fingers crossed!) Because I kept working.

Which I need to go do now. I’ll let Axl have the last word: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ErvgV4P6Fzc

about the book
Playlist for the Dead by Michelle Falkoff
In stores January 27th

A teenage boy tries to understand his best friend’s suicide by listening to the playlist of songs he left behind in this smart, voice-driven debut novel.

Here’s what Sam knows: There was a party. There was a fight. The next morning, his best friend, Hayden, was dead. And all he left Sam was a playlist of songs, and a suicide note: For Sam—listen and you’ll understand.

As he listens to song after song, Sam tries to face up to what happened the night Hayden killed himself. But it’s only by taking out his earbuds and opening his eyes to the people around him that he will finally be able to piece together his best friend’s story. And maybe have a chance to change his own.

Part mystery, part love story, and part coming-of-age tale in the vein of Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower and Tim Tharp’s The Spectacular NowPlaylist for the Dead is an honest and gut-wrenching first novel about loss, rage, what it feels like to outgrow a friendship that’s always defined you—and the struggle to redefine yourself. But above all, it’s about finding hope when hope seems like the hardest thing to find.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Book Depository | IndieBound | HarperCollins | Goodreads

about the authorMichelle_FalkoffMichelle Falkoff’s fiction and reviews have been published in ZYZZYVA, DoubleTake, and the Harvard Review, among other places. She is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and currently serves as Director of Communication and Legal Reasoning at Northwestern University School of Law. This is her first novel.

Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

contest2
There is a tour-wide giveaway for 3 copies of PLAYLIST FOR THE DEAD (US/Canada ONLY)

Giveaway ends on February 10th at 11:59 p.m. Pacific

Enter using the Rafflecopter form HERE!

Here’s a look at the rest of the blog tour schedule:

Week One

Week Two

5-Year Anniversary: 2014 Grab Bag #2 Contest

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We’re celebrating our 5 Year Anniversary here at Novel Novice throughout the rest of January, and we’ve got a new prize pack every weekday for you to enter as the festivities continue.

Today’s prize pack features a 2014 Grab Bag #2, and includes:

  • LAILAH by Nikki Kelly
  • LOVE IS THE DRUG by Alaya Dawn Johnson
  • RUMBLE by Ellen Hopkins
  • THE VAULT OF DREAMERS by Caragh M. O’Brien

All prize packs also include a Novel Novice “Book Nerd” tote bag, a Novel Novice button (assorted colors) & a set of four Novel Novice bookmarks, plus a random assortment of other YA bookmarks & swag.

2014 grab bag2
To enter, fill out the Rafflecopter form here, and tell us in the comments below, the 2014 release you most want to read, but haven’t gotten around to quite yet.

Contest is open to the U.S. only, and runs through midnight (PT) on Monday, February 2nd.

Memory of Water Blog Tour Contest & Top Ten List

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Today, I’m excited to be hosting a stop on the official blog tour for Memory of Water by Emmi Itaranta. Be sure to keep reading to learn more about the book & enter to win a fabulous prize!

For today’s stop, Emmi join us with her top ten favorite types of water (in no particular order):

  1. A hot bath on a cold winter morning.
  2. The sound of rain against windows.
  3. A lake reflecting forest and sky.
  4. Light snow glittering in sunlight, before it lands on your palm and melts into water.
  5. Any water in moonlight.
  6. A waterfall, so near that you can feel the mist on your skin.
  7. Water turning into steam in a sauna as it hits the hot stones.
  8. Water seeping onto melting ice on a lake in spring.
  9. Steam rising from half-frozen rapids surrounded by frosty trees in midwinter.
  10. Hot water in a mug, slowly turning tea-coloured.

memory of waterHere’s more about Memory of Water:

An amazing, award-winning speculative fiction debut novel by a major new talent.Global warming has changed the world’s geography and its politics. Wars are waged over water, and China rules Europe, including the Scandinavian Union, which is occupied by the power state of New Qian. In this far north place, seventeen-year-old Noria Kaitio is learning to become a tea master like her father, a position that holds great responsibility and great secrets. Tea masters alone know the location of hidden water sources, including the natural spring that Noria’s father tends, which once provided water for her whole village.

But secrets do not stay hidden forever, and after her father’s death the army starts watching their town-and Noria. And as water becomes even scarcer, Noria must choose between safety and striking out, between knowledge and kinship.

Imaginative and engaging, lyrical and poignant, Memory of Water is an indelible novel that portrays a future that is all too possible.

contest2

Enter to win a copy of MEMORY OF WATER + a $25.00 Gift Card to the eTailer of your choice! Contest is U.S. only. Enter using the Rafflecopter form HERE!

Check out the rest of the blog tour here:

Another kind of anniversary today …

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We’re in the midst of celebrating our 5-year-anniversary here at Novel Novice right now, but today is another major milestone for me … it’s my one-year wedding anniversary!

049Photos by May Gunsul Photography

Exactly one year ago today, my husband & I tied the knot at Timberline Lodge on Oregon’s Mt. Hood, and what a dreamy day it was. Beautiful blue skies, mild temperatures (yes, in January! On a mountain!), and surrounded by our nearest and dearest friends and family members.

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The past year has been a big adventure, and we’ve come so far together in such a short amount of time. I truly believe I can do anything with Derek by my side. I can’t wait to see what else the future has in store for us!

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Candlewick TIME 100 Best YA Books Contest

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Recently, TIME named its picks for the 100 Best YA Books (of all time). And while I — and plenty of others — may have some issues with the list (namely its lack of diversity and the questionable categorization of many middle grade and non-YA books as “YA”), it’s hard to argue with at least some of the picks.

And six books on the list come from our friends at Candlewick Press — including one of my all-time favorite books, A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness. So thanks to our friends at Candlewick, we’re giving away ALL SIX of their books featured on the TIME 100 list!

What are those six books, you ask? They are:

  1. The Tiger Rising by Kate DiCamillo
  2. The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo
  3. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness and illustrated by Jim Kay
  4. The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
  5. Feed by M.T. Anderson
  6. Boy Proof by Cecil Castellucci

candlewick time 100 best books
The contest is open to anyone with a mailing address in the U.S. or Canada.

Enter by telling us a few of the titles YOU’D include in a “Best YA of All Time” list, and then fill out the Rafflecopter form HERE!

Contest is open through midnight (PT) on Saturday, January 31st.

Here’s more about the books in this prize pack: 

Feed by M. T. Anderson

Anderson takes on consumerism in this smart, savage satire that has captivated readers with its view of an imagined future that veers unnervingly close to the here and now.

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo , illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline

Kate DiCamillo takes us on an extraordinary journey, from the depths of the ocean to the net of a fisherman, from the bedside of an ailing child to the bustling streets of Memphis. Along the way, we are shown a miracle — that even a heart of the most breakable kind can learn to love, to lose, and to love again.

Tiger Rising by Kate DiCamillo

Rob, sickly and devastated by the death of his mother, moves to a hotel with his father for a new start. But after he comes across a caged tiger in the woods outside the motel, the unexpected find helps him overcome his sadness and open up to a new friend.

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness, illustrated by Jim Kay

An unflinching, darkly funny, and deeply moving story of a boy, his seriously ill mother, and an unexpected monstrous visitor.

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

A dystopian thriller follows a boy and girl on the run from a town where all thoughts can be heard — and the passage to manhood embodies a horrible secret.

Boy Proof by Cecil Castellucci

An unforgettable debut novel that follows an antisocial cinephile as she meets a quick-witted artist who’s savvy enough to see through her sci-fi disguise.

5-Year Anniversary: Science Fiction Contest

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We’re celebrating our 5 Year Anniversary here at Novel Novice throughout the rest of January, and we’ve got a new prize pack every weekday for you to enter as the festivities continue.

Today’s prize pack features Science Fiction, and includes:

  • DARK EDEN and EVE OF DESTRUCTION by Patrick Carman (both signed)
  • BLOOD RED ROAD by Moira Young (signed)
  • REBOOT and REBEL by Amy Tintera

All prize packs also include a Novel Novice “Book Nerd” tote bag, a Novel Novice button (assorted colors) & a set of four Novel Novice bookmarks, plus a random assortment of other YA bookmarks & swag.

sci fi prize pack
To enter, fill out the Rafflecopter form here, and tell us what your favorite science fiction YA novel is in the comments below.

Contest is open to the U.S. only, and runs through midnight (PT) on Friday, January 30th.

Book Review: We Can Work It Out by Elizabeth Eulberg

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Elizabeth Eulberg returns to the Beatles-inspired romantic comedy that launched her writing career, with We Can Work It Out, a charming and delightful follow-up to her debut novel, The Lonely Hearts Club.

we can work it outWhen Penny Lane started The Lonely Hearts Club, the goal was simple: to show that girls didn’t need to define themselves by how guys look at them, and didn’t have to value boyfriends over everything else. Penny thought she’d be an outcast for life…but then the club became far more popular than she ever imagined it would be.

But what happens when the girl who never thought she’d date a good guy suddenly finds herself dating a great one? She doesn’t need a boyfriend… but she wants it to work out with this particular boyfriend. And he wants it to work out with her.

Only, things keep getting in the way. Feelings keep getting hurt. Words keep getting misunderstood.

Penny Lane worked hard to declare her independence. Now she needs to figure out what to do with it — and how to balance what she wants with what everyone else wants. In We Can Work It Out, Elizabeth Eulberg returns to the world of her first novel, The Lonely Hearts Club, and gets to the heart of how hard relationships can be… and why they are sometimes worth all the drama and comedy they create.

Eulberg is the queen of the YA rom-com, and We Can Work It Out is a shining example of her mastery of this fun and light-hearted genre. She cleverly tackles the ups and downs of a relationship, spotlighting the struggle I think everyone has: balancing couple-time with friendships, family, and other responsibilities. (Lord knows, it’s something my husband and I are always working on!)

It’s hard to read We Can Work It Out (or any of Eulberg’s books, really) without a smile on your face — even as you cringe through some of Penny’s more embarrassing situations. She remains an instantly likeable, easily-relatable character — one who readers can root for, and learn from.

It was also easy to dive into We Can Work It Out, and reconnect with Penny and her friends — despite several years having passed since first reading The Lonely Hearts Club. Eulberg does an excellent job of orienting readers and making sure no one feels lost — whether you’ve read The Lonely Hearts Club recently, or ages ago.

We Can Work It Out is a delightful charmer that’s not to be missed. Look for it in stores, January 27th.

5-Year Anniversary: YA Swag Bag #2 Contest

5 Year Anniversary_Banner
We’re celebrating our 5 Year Anniversary here at Novel Novice throughout the rest of January, and we’ve got a new prize pack every weekday for you to enter as the festivities continue.

Today’s prize pack features YA Swag Bag #2, and includes:

  • St. Lucy t-shirt from The Blessed series by Tonya Hurley
  • The Hunger Games watch
  • Afterworlds chapter sampler
  • Matched series poster
  • Harper Teen audio book sampler
  • Eclipse stickers, pen, bracelets & button
  • New Moon trading cards
  • Messenger of Fear playing cards
  • Earbuds
  • The Body in the Woods rescue whistle
  • Defy the Dark bracelet
  • The Selection series keychain
  • Bookplate signed by Lisa Schroeder
  • Jenny Han signed postcard
  • Assorted YA bookmarks, stickers & temporary tattoos

All prize packs also include a Novel Novice “Book Nerd” tote bag, a Novel Novice button (assorted colors) & a set of four Novel Novice bookmarks.

Swag Bag Prize Pack2
To enter, fill out the Rafflecopter form here, and tell us what you use for a bookmark in the comments below.

Contest is open to the U.S. only, and runs through midnight (PT) on Thursday, January 29th.

Book Review: A Cold Legacy by Megan Shepherd

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Megan Shepherd’s twist on three classic Gothic novels comes to a chilling conclusion with A Cold Legacy, the third and final book in the Madman’s Daughter trilogy.

cold legacyAfter killing the men who tried to steal her father’s research, Juliet—along with Montgomery, Lucy, Balthazar, and a deathly ill Edward—has escaped to a remote estate on the Scottish moors. Owned by the enigmatic Elizabeth von Stein, the mansion is full of mysteries and unexplained oddities: dead bodies in the basement, secret passages, and fortune-tellers who seem to know Juliet’s secrets. Though it appears to be a safe haven, Juliet fears new dangers may be present within the manor’s own walls.

Then Juliet uncovers the truth about the manor’s long history of scientific experimentation—and her own intended role in it—forcing her to determine where the line falls between right and wrong, life and death, magic and science, and promises and secrets. And she must decide if she’ll follow her father’s dark footsteps or her mother’s tragic ones, or whether she’ll make her own.

With inspiration from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, this breathless conclusion to the Madman’s Daughter trilogy is about the things we’ll sacrifice to save those we love—even our own humanity.

In book 1 of this series, Shepherd offered her own twist on the classic novel The Island of Dr. Moreau, then followed it up with a twist on Dr. Jekyl & Mr. Hyde. Here, she concludes the trilogy with a daring take on Mary Shelley’s classic, Frankenstein — cleverly weaving together all the elements she has built up into on climactic finale.

A Cold Legacy sees Shepherd both pay tribute to Shelley’s novel, and give it her own unique spin — all while weaving together an ending for her characters, who have survived some insane situations. The madness deepens in A Cold Legacy, as Juliet struggles to decide who she is, and whether or not she can fight fate — or make her own.

As with the other books in this series, Shepherd displays a mastery of the Gothic style — writing clever, modern books that would fit in perfectly with other tomes written during Shelley’s time period. A Cold Legacy is an enticing, new way to approach the Frankenstein story — indeed, teachers would be wise to consider using this book as an entry point for readers hesitant to dive into Shelley’s novel.

A Cold Legacy is in stores January 27th.

5-Year Anniversary: Duologies Contest

5 Year Anniversary_Banner
We’re celebrating our 5 Year Anniversary here at Novel Novice throughout the rest of January, and we’ve got a new prize pack every weekday for you to enter as the festivities continue.

Today’s prize pack features Duologies, (that is, book series made up of only TWO books) and includes:

  • THE PROGRAM and THE TREATMENT by Suzanne Young (both signed)
  • STARTERS and ENDERS by Lissa Price

All prize packs also include a Novel Novice “Book Nerd” tote bag, a Novel Novice button (assorted colors) & a set of four Novel Novice bookmarks, plus a random assortment of other YA bookmarks & swag.

Duologies Prize Pack
To enter, fill out the Rafflecopter form here, and tell us in the comments below about your favorite duology.

Contest is open to the U.S. only, and runs through midnight (PT) on Wednesday, January 28th.