Author Archives: Sara | Novel Novice

New YA Releases: July 7, 2015

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

forever for a yearForever for a Year by B. T. Gottfred

When Carolina and Trevor meet on their first day of school, something draws them to each other.  They gradually share first kisses, first touches, first sexual experiences.  When they’re together, nothing else matters. But one of them will make a choice, and the other a mistake, that will break what they thought was unbreakable. Both will wish that they could fall in love again for the first time . . . but first love, by definition, can’t happen twice.

Told in Carolina and Trevor’s alternating voices, this is an up-close-and-personal story of two teenagers falling in love for the first time, and discovering it might not last forever.

nakedNaked by Stacey Trombley

The best place to hide is in a lie…

I could never fit in to the life my parents demanded. By the time I was thirteen, it was too much. I ran away to New York City…and found a nightmare that lasted three years. A nightmare that began and ended with a pimp named Luis. Now I am Dirty Anna. Broken, like everything inside me has gone bad.

Except that for the first time, I have a chance to start over. Not just with my parents but at school. Still, the rumors follow me everywhere. Down the hall. In classes. And the only hope I can see is in the wide, brightly lit smile of Jackson, the boy next door. So I lie to him. I lie to protect him from my past. I lie so that I don’t have to be The Girl Who Went Bad.

The only problem is that someone in my school knows about New York.

Someone knows who I really am.

And it’s just a matter of time before the real Anna is exposed…

a million miles awayA Million Miles Away by Lara Avery

When high school senior Kelsey’s identical twin sister, Michelle, dies in a car crash, Kelsey is left without her other half. The only person who doesn’t know about the tragedy is Michelle’s boyfriend, Peter, recently deployed to Afghanistan. But when Kelsey finally connects with Peter online, she can’t bear to tell him the truth. Active duty has taken its toll, and Peter, thinking that Kelsey is Michelle, says that seeing her is the one thing keeping him alive. Caught up in the moment, Kelsey has no choice: She lets Peter believe that she is her sister.

As Kelsey keeps up the act, she crosses the line from pretend to real. Soon, Kelsey can’t deny that she’s falling, hard, for the one boy she shouldn’t want.

survive the nightSurvive the Night by Danielle Vega

We’re all gonna die down here. . . .

Julie lies dead and disemboweled in a dank, black subway tunnel, red-eyed rats nibbling at her fingers. Her friends think she’s just off with some guy—no one could hear her getting torn apart over the sound of pulsing music.

In a tunnel nearby, Casey regrets coming to Survive the Night, the all-night underground rave in the New York City subway. Her best friend Shana talked her into it, even though Casey just got out of rehab. Alone and lost in the dark, creepy tunnels, Casey doesn’t think Survive the Night could get any worse . . .

. . . until she comes across Julie’s body, and the party turns deadly.

Desperate for help, Casey and her friends find themselves running through the putrid subway system, searching for a way out. But every manhole is sealed shut, and every noise echoes eerily in the dark, reminding them they’re not alone.

They’re being hunted.

Trapped underground with someone—or something—out to get them, Casey can’t help but listen to her friend’s terrified refrain: “We’re all gonna die down here. . . .” in this bone-chilling sophmore novel by the acclaimed author of The Merciless.

you and me and himYou and Me and Him by Kris Dinnison

“Do not ignore a call from me when you know I am feeling neurotic about a boy. That is Best Friend 101.” —Nash

        Maggie and Nash are outsiders. She’s overweight. He’s out of the closet. The best of friends, they have seen each other through thick and thin, but when Tom moves to town at the start of the school year, they have something unexpected in common: feelings for the same guy. This warm, witty novel—with a clear, true voice and a clever soundtrack of musical references—sings a song of love and forgiveness.

paperweightPaperweight by Meg Haston

Seventeen-year-old Stevie is trapped. In her life. In her body. And now in an eating-disorder treatment center on the dusty outskirts of the New Mexico desert.

Life in the center is regimented and intrusive, a nightmare come true. Nurses and therapists watch Stevie at mealtime, accompany her to the bathroom, and challenge her to eat the foods she’s worked so hard to avoid.

Her dad has signed her up for sixty days of treatment. But what no one knows is that Stevie doesn’t plan to stay that long. There are only twenty-seven days until the anniversary of her brother Josh’s death—the death she caused. And if Stevie gets her way, there are only twenty-seven days until she too will end her life.

In this emotionally haunting and beautifully written young adult debut, Meg Haston delves into the devastating impact of trauma and loss, while posing the question: Why are some consumed by their illness while others embark on a path toward recovery?

hallowedHallowed by Tonya Hurley

Three lost girls, one mysterious boy. They battle for his heart while he struggles for their souls in this gripping conclusion to The Blessed trilogy, from the New York Times bestselling author of the ghostgirl series.

Lucy, Cecelia, and Agnes have sacrificed everything for their belief in a boy who stole their hearts. First in Precious Blood and then in Passionaries, the girls have struggled to reconcile with their destinies. Now, as the world turns against them, will they be able to hold steadfast? Will they survive the final test?

don't ever changeDon’t Ever Change by M. Beth Bloom

Eva has always wanted to write a modern classic—one that actually appeals to her generation. The only problem is that she has realized she can’t “write what she knows” because she hasn’t yet begun to live. So before heading off to college, Eva is determined to get a life worth writing about.

Soon Eva’s life encounters a few unexpected plot twists. She becomes a counselor at a nearby summer camp—a job she is completely unqualified for. She starts growing apart from her best friends before they’ve even left for school. And most surprising of all, she begins to fall for the last guy she would have ever imagined. But no matter the roadblocks, or writer’s blocks, it is all up to Eva to figure out how she wants this chapter in her story to end.

Perfect for fans of E. Lockhart, David Levithan, and Rainbow Rowell, Don’t Ever Change is a witty, snarky, and thought-provoking coming-of-age young adult novel about a teen who sets out to write better fiction and, ultimately, discovers the truth about herself.

suicide notes from beautiful girlsSuicide Notes from Beautiful Girls by Lynn Weingarten

Gone Girl meets 13 Reasons Why in this stylish, sexy, and atmospheric story about friendship packed with twists and turns that will leave you breathless.

They say Delia burned herself to death in her stepfather’s shed. They say it was suicide.

But June doesn’t believe it.

June and Delia used to be closer than anything. Best friends in that way that comes before everyone else-before guys, before family. It was like being in love, but more. They had a billion secrets, tying them together like thin silk cords.

But one night a year ago, everything changed. June, Delia, and June’s boyfriend Ryan were just having a little fun. Their good time got out of hand. And in the cold blue light of morning, June knew only this-things would never be the same again.

And now, a year later, Delia is dead. June is certain she was murdered. And she owes it to her to find out the truth…which is far more complicated than she ever could have imagined.

Sexy, dark, and atmospheric, Suicide Notes from Beautiful Girls will keep you guessing until the very last page.

seeing off the johnsSeeing Off the Johns by Rene S. Perez II

People in the small town of Greenton mark their lives from that day in late summer when crowds lined the streets to see off high school athletic stars John Robison and John Mijias. That was the day the Johns, as they were known by adoring fans in Greenton, left for state college, and never made it there—or back. The Johns had spent their high school years putting that nowhere losing town on the map with playoff runs in football and state championship bids in baseball. For Concepcion “Chon” Gonzales, the days that the Johns headed out and didn’t return was the first day of his new life. He had waited all his growing up years for a shot at Araceli when one of the Johns, John Mejia, stole her away. Now, while Greenton mourns, while the Johns’ families become actors in a spectacle of grief, while Johns memorabilia is sold in every gas station and convenience store in town, while Araceli has to endure a senior year in the watchful gaze of the whole town, Chon Gonzales makes his slow methodical move on the only girl he’s ever loved, hoping maybe that she won’t notice what he wants.

our song_Our Song by Elizabeth Lenhard & A. Destiny

First crush, first love, first kiss—Nell finds summer romance and rediscovers her passion for music in this addition to the sweet and clean Flirt series.

Shipped off to camp for the summer, Nell isn’t looking forward to campfires, (too many) sing-alongs, and a WiFi-free existence. And no matter how much she wants to keep a low profile, Nell knows it’ll be impossible. Her family is folk music royalty, and she’s the best fiddle player at the camp. With no other option, Nell jumps feet first into a world of music lessons, craft classes, and countless renditions of Kumbaya—exactly what she was hoping to escape.

But Jacob—a fellow musician at the camp—decides to remind Nell of her folk music–loving roots. He sees her talent and can’t understand why she’s pushing music and her family away. Jacob convinces Nell to go with him on a series of cliché camp adventures, in the hopes that she’ll begin to see herself through his eyes.

As his plan starts to work, Nell slowly beings to fall back in love with music—and fall for Jacob—but is he falling for her, too?

silver in the bloodSilver in the Blood by Jessica Day George

Society girls from New York City circa 1890, Dacia and Lou never desired to know more about their lineage, instead preferring to gossip about the mysterious Romanian family that they barely knew. But upon turning seventeen, the girls must return to their homeland to meet their relatives, find proper husbands, and—most terrifyingly—learn the deep family secrets of The Claw, The Wing, and The Smoke. The Florescus, after all, are shape-shifters, and it is time for Dacia and Lou to fulfill the prophecy that demands their acceptance of this fate . . . or fight against this cruel inheritance with all their might.

With a gorgeous Romanian setting, stunning Parisian gowns, and dark brooding young men, readers will be swept up by this epic adventure of two girls in a battle for their lives.

escape, theThe Escape by Hannah Jayne

When two boys walk into the woods, and one comes out covered in blood, what would you believe?
Fletcher and Adam venture into the woods for an afternoon hike, but when day turns into night and neither boy returns, their town is thrown into turmoil. Avery, the detective’s daughter, is the one to find Fletcher—dishelved, disoriented, and covered in blood. He has no memory of what happened, but Avery can’t shake the feeling that something’s off.

When Adam’s body is finally found, Avery is determined to uncover the truth. But if she stands by her gut, and Fletcher, is she standing by a friend, or a murderer? The answer might cost her her life.

fixer, theThe Fixer by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

When sixteen-year-old Tess Kendrick is sent to live with her older sister, Ivy, she has no idea that the infamous Ivy Kendrick is Washington D.C.’s #1 “fixer,” known for making politicians’ scandals go away for a price. No sooner does Tess enroll at Hardwicke Academy than she unwittingly follows in her sister’s footsteps and becomes D.C.’s premier high school fixer, solving problems for elite teens.

Secrets pile up as each sister lives a double life. . . . until their worlds come crashing together and Tess finds herself in the middle of a conspiracy with one of her classmates and a client of Ivy’s. Suddenly, there is much more on the line than good grades, money, or politics, and the price for this fix might be more than Tess is willing to pay.

Perfect for fans of Pretty Little Liars and Heist Society, readers will be clamoring for more in this exciting new series.

jesse's girlJesse’s Girl by Miranda Kenneally

Everyone at Hundred Oaks High knows that career mentoring day is a joke. So when Maya Henry said she wanted to be a rock star, she never imagined she’d get to shadow *the* Jesse Scott, Nashville’s teen idol.

But spending the day with Jesse is far from a dream come true. He’s as gorgeous as his music, but seeing all that he’s accomplished is just a reminder of everything Maya’s lost: her trust, her boyfriend, their band, and any chance to play the music she craves. Not to mention that Jesse’s pushy and opinionated. He made it on his own, and he thinks Maya’s playing back up to other people’s dreams. Does she have what it takes to follow her heart—and go solo?

heart of betrayalThe Heart of Betrayal by Mary E. Pearson

Intrigue abounds in this hotly anticipated sequel to The Kiss of Deception!

Held captive in the barbarian kingdom of Venda, Lia and Rafe have little chance of escape. Desperate to save her life, Lia’s erstwhile assassin, Kaden, has told the Vendan Komizar that she has the gift, and the Komizar’s interest in Lia is greater than anyone could have foreseen.

Meanwhile, nothing is straightforward: there’s Rafe, who lied to Lia, but has sacrificed his freedom to protect her; Kaden, who meant to assassinate her but has now saved her life; and the Vendans, whom Lia always believed to be barbarians. Now that she lives amongst them, however, she realizes that may be far from the truth. Wrestling with her upbringing, her gift, and her sense of self, Lia must make powerful choices that will affect her country… and her own destiny.

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

 

Blog Tour Guest Post & Contest: You & Me & Him by Kris Dinnison

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Today, we are excited to share an exclusive guest post from You & Me & Him author Kris Dinnison as part of the official blog tour. AND we’ve got a chance for you to win a copy of the book, too – so be sure to keep reading all the way through today’s post for details!

guest postThe Book that Most Impacted Your Life
by Kris Dinnison

 

KrisThis has got to be one of the toughest questions for a book lover to answer. How do you pick just one? When someone asked him what his favorite book was, Charlie, the main character in “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” said, “The last one I read.” And I really do feel that way sometimes.

But there are some books that I go back to again and again for various reasons. Jane Austen is a favorite of mine for her wry wit and social criticism. Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger is one of my favorite stories of family disfunction and growing up. And I am in love with the novels of E.M. Forster, which I discovered when I was a senior in high school and have re-read ever since. But when I think about impact on my life, I have to say Chris Crutcher’s novels stand out as being immensely important to the path I have taken.

You and Me and Him Cover_hres            I was first introduced to Chris’ novels as a teacher at an alternative high school in 1995. He was already more than a decade into his career writing for young adults, basically inventing the young adult novel as he wrote each book. The only other thing I remember reading at the time that even came close was Francesca Lia Block’s Weetzie Bat. Anyway, the school I was working at was using Staying Fat For Sarah Byrnes in the curriculum.

I read the story, which broke my heart, in one night. Watching this friendship between Sarah, disfigured by burns when she was three, and Moby, who was overweight and outcast growing up, was a revelation. Chris never shies away from violence and controversy, choosing instead to portray humanity at it’s best and worst through the wrenching, complex interactions of his characters. And seeing the way he allows his characters and their relationships to grow and evolve as they navigate high school and the world’s cruelty brought into stark relief for me the idea that these stories about teenagers had magnitude and sharp edges and deep heart.

The power of Chris’s writing became even more evident as I worked with students around the novel. The alternative school kids I taught saw themselves in the characters. For many of them it was the first time they had ever recognized their own lives in a story. It helped them see that there might be strength and hope in places they hadn’t considered before. And it made them want to read other stories about people like them. That was so powerful, and it made me see not only the impact but the importance of stories for young adults.

By the time I started writing my book, a decade and a half after first reading Chris Crutcher’s work, young adult literature had already taken root as a powerhouse in publishing. Chris’s books forged a trail through the publishing industry, acting as a beacon for writers like myself who wanted to find those stories that would feel true and important to teen readers and anyone else who found them. And he’s still writing and speaking truth to power in a voice that resonates with readers of all ages. I am immensely grateful for his books, and for his work as a pioneer in the world of young adult stories. Without first having read his books, I might never have written mine.

about the book“Do not ignore a call from me when you know I am feeling neurotic about a boy. That is Best Friend 101.” —Nash

Maggie and Nash are outsiders. She’s overweight. He’s out of the closet. The best of friends, they have seen each other through thick and thin, but when Tom moves to town at the start of the school year, they have something unexpected in common: feelings for the same guy. This warm, witty novel—with a clear, true voice and a clever soundtrack of musical references—sings a song of love and forgiveness.

In stores July 7th.

Find it: AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksGoodreads

about the authorKris Dinnison learned to read when she was five years old. She grew up reading books nobody else had read and listening to music nobody else had heard of and thinking she was weird, which she kind of was. She spent nearly two decades as a teacher and librarian working with students from kindergarten to graduate school. The bulk of that time she spent teaching High School English while dreaming of becoming a writer. Nowadays, when she’s not writing, she helps run her family’s retail and café businesses. She lives and writes in Spokane, Washington.

Where you can fine Kris: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Tumblr | Instagram | Goodreads

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3 winners will receive a finished copy of YOU AND ME AND HIM. US Only.

Enter by filling out the Rafflecopter form HERE!

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Become the Hero of Your Own Percy Jackson-Style Adventure!

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As part of the Percy Pack, today I am thrilled to help share the exclusive news with you, fellow Percy Jackson fans, about a brand-new e-book coming from author Rick Riordan, which gives readers the chance to experience their own Percy-like adventure! Check out the deets:

The Demigods of Olympus: An Interactive Adventure

DemigodseBookPrice: $8.99 / $7.99
On-Sale: July 14, 2015

Your quest begins! Use your demigod skills in this interactive and customizable adventure story written by New York Times #1 best-selling author Rick Riordan. Combining four short stories, The Two-Headed Guidance Counselor, The Library of Deadly Weapons, My Demon Satyr Tea Party, and My Personal Zombie Apocalypse, your choices will have consequences in this first interactive demigod adventure.

Of course, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There are TWO MORE books coming from Riordan later this year that Percy fans will adore. Here’s the scoop on both of them:

Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard
On-Sale: October 6, 2015

MagnusChaseCoverMagnus Chase has always been a troubled kid. Since his mother’s mysterious death, he’s lived alone on the streets of Boston, surviving by his wits, keeping one step ahead of the police and the truant officers. One day, he’s tracked down by an uncle he’s never met—a man his mother claimed was dangerous. His uncle tells him an impossible secret: Magnus is the son of a Norse god. The Viking myths are true. The gods of Asgard are preparing for war. Trolls, giants, and worse monsters are stirring for doomsday. To prevent Ragnarök, Magnus must search the Nine Worlds for a weapon that has been lost for thousands of years. When an attack by fire giants forces him to choose between his own safety and the lives of hundreds of innocents, Magnus makes a fatal decision. Sometimes, the only way to start a new life is to die . . .

Read a sneak peek HERE!

Percy Jackson’s Greek Heroes
On-Sale: August 18, 2015

GreekHeroesWho cut off Medusa’s head? Who was raised by a she-bear? Who tamed Pegasus? It takes a demigod to know, and Percy Jackson can fill you in on the all the daring deeds of Perseus, Atalanta, Bellerophon, and the rest of the major Greek heroes. Told in the funny, irreverent style readers have come to expect from Percy, ( I’ve had some bad experiences in my time, but the heroes I’m going to tell you about were the original old school hard luck cases. They boldly screwed up where no one had screwed up before. . .) and enhanced with vibrant artwork by Caldecott Honoree John Rocco, this story collection will become the new must-have classic for Rick Riordan’s legions of devoted fans–and for anyone who needs a hero. So get your flaming spear. Put on your lion skin cape. Polish your shield and make sure you’ve got arrows in your quiver. We’re going back about four thousand years to decapitate monsters, save some kingdoms, shoot a few gods in the butt, raid the Underworld, and steal loot from evil people. Then, for dessert, we’ll die painful tragic deaths. Ready? Sweet. Let’s do this.

Pre-order Greek Heroes:

RICK RIORDAN ONLINE

Visit the Official Website

Follow Rick Riordan on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter

#ReadRiordan

Thanks to Disney-Hyperion for providing all this great content — with more goodies on the way throughout the rest of this year, including more chances for you to win cool prizes!

New YA Releases: June 30, 2015

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

shadowshaperShadowshaper by Daniel Jose Older

Cassandra Clare meets Caribbean legend in SHADOWSHAPER, an action-packed urban fantasy from a bold new talent.

Sierra Santiago was looking forward to a fun summer of making art, hanging out with her friends, and skating around Brooklyn. But then a weird zombie guy crashes the first party of the season. Sierra’s near-comatose abuelo begins to say “No importa” over and over. And when the graffiti murals in Bed-Stuy start to weep…. Well, something stranger than the usual New York mayhem is going on.

Sierra soon discovers a supernatural order called the Shadowshapers, who connect with spirits via paintings, music, and stories. Her grandfather once shared the order’s secrets with an anthropologist, Dr. Jonathan Wick, who turned the Caribbean magic to his own foul ends. Now Wick wants to become the ultimate Shadowshaper by killing all the others, one by one. With the help of her friends and the hot graffiti artist Robbie, Sierra must dodge Wick’s supernatural creations, harness her own Shadowshaping abilities, and save her family’s past, present, and future.

between us and the moonBetween Us and the Moon by Rebecca Maizel

Ever since Sarah was born, she’s lived in the shadow of her beautiful older sister, Scarlett. But this summer on Cape Cod, she’s determined to finally grow up. Then she meets gorgeous college boy Andrew. He sees her as the girl she wants to be. A girl who’s older than she is. A girl like Scarlett.

Before she knows what’s happened, one little lie has transformed into something real. And by the end of August, she might have to choose between falling in love, and finding herself.

Fans of Jenny Han and Stephanie Perkins are destined to fall for this story about how life and love are impossible to predict.

faking perfectFaking Perfect by Rebecca Phillips

When Lexi Shaw seduced Oakfield High’s resident bad boy Tyler Flynn at the beginning of senior year, he seemed perfectly okay with her rules:

1. Avoid her at school.
2. Keep his mouth shut about what they do together.
3. Never tease her about her friend (and unrequited crush) Ben.

Because with his integrity and values and golden boy looks, Ben can never find out about what she’s been doing behind closed doors with Tyler. Or that her mom’s too busy drinking and chasing losers to pay the bills. Or that Lexi’s dad hasn’t been a part of her life for the last thirteen years. But with Tyler suddenly breaking the rules, Ben asking her out, and her dad back in the picture, how long will she be able to go on faking perfect?

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

Book Review: The Wrath & the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

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A stunning and seductive story about love, betrayal, and sacrifice, The Wrath & the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh will leave readers gutted and begging for more.

wrath and the dawnEvery dawn brings horror to a different family in a land ruled by a killer. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, takes a new bride each night only to have her executed at sunrise. So it is a suspicious surprise when sixteen-year-old Shahrzad volunteers to marry Khalid. But she does so with a clever plan to stay alive and exact revenge on the Caliph for the murder of her best friend and countless other girls. Shazi’s wit and will, indeed, get her through to the dawn that no others have seen, but with a catch . . . she’s falling in love with the very boy who killed her dearest friend.

She discovers that the murderous boy-king is not all that he seems and neither are the deaths of so many girls. Shazi is determined to uncover the reason for the murders and to break the cycle once and for all.

Let’s start with the wonderful characters. It is easy to see why Khalid is so intrigued by Shahrzad — as readers, we are as pulled into her charisma and verve as the Caliph is. Likewise, we are intrigued by this “monster boy-king” and the mysterious torment that plagues him; clearly there is more to his story than he lets his people believe — and, like Shahrzad, we are drawn to him and to the desire to know why he has done these monstrous things.

And while Shahrzad and Khalid are at the center of the story, Ahdieh has filled The Wrath & the Dawn with a bevy of supporting characters who really bring the story into vivid detail. This book would not be so richly rewarding to read were it not for ALL of these characters; Jalal and Despina and Tariq and the Rajput and the General and more. These are the characters that give meaning and purpose to everything that Shahrzad and Khalid must face.

Of course, it doesn’t hurt that The Wrath & the Dawn is just beautifully written. Each description is so sumptuous, readers will be transported to Khorasan — and will see this fictional world come to life before them. (And if you’re anything like me, you’ll also be craving some delicious Middle Eastern feasts — the FOOD in this book! I was so hungry while reading this!!!)

But what really clinched my love of this book is the chapter titled, “Oblivion.” It falls on page 342 in the hardcover, and it’s the point where The Wrath & the Dawn becomes a truly extraordinary book; where every expectation you might have had about where things were going will be shattered. I literally cried out, out loud (sorry, sleeping husband!) at one point — and fought back tears as I continued reading. This chapter changes everything. And the book was already fantastic to begin with — but this is the major turning point, where in any other writer’s hands, the book could have gone one of several predictable routes and become mundane, even ruining what had already been written to this point. But no, Ahdieh shifts her players and her characters in unlikely ways, and the result is a gut-wrenching and achingly beautiful portrayal of what true love really means.

This book — and this chapter in particular — left me gutted in the best possible way, and I’m still not over it (nor do I wish to be). The Wrath & the Dawn is in stores now.

The Vanishing Island Blog Tour: Flash Questions with Barry Wolverton

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Today, we are so pleased to be hosting a stop — the FINAL stop — on the official blog tour for The Vanishing Island by Barry Wolverton.

For today’s stop, Barry stopped by with his responses to some of our favorite FLASH QUESTIONS! Check out his answers below, then keep reading to learn more about The Vanishing Island, in stores September 1st.

Barry Wolverton Author PhotoFavorite villain?

Montgomery Burns, The Simpsons

Pen or pencil?

Pen

Favorite piece of clothing?

A vintage-thrift-store-find Schott NYC leather jacket

Song you can’t get out of your head right now? Autumn Leaves (the Miles Davis recording)

Most recent vacation?

New York, in February, for my girlfriend’s birthday

5 things that are always on your desk or in your backpack?

On my desk: Paper & Clay handmade ceramics; Macbook; Peterson Field Guide to Birds of the Eastern U.S. + binoculars (my office looks out into my wooded backyard); books; Charlie, aka Mr. Grey, my cat who helpfully keeps papers and whatnot from flying off my desk by sprawling all over them.

about the bookvanishing islandDoes  the Vanishing Island really exist? And if so, what treasure—or terrible secret—was hidden by its disappearance?

It’s 1599, the Age of Discovery in Europe. But for Bren Owen, growing up in the small town of Map on the coast of Britannia has meant anything but adventure. Enticed by the tales sailors have brought through Map’s port, and inspired by the arcane maps his father creates as a cartographer for the cruel and charismatic map mogul named Rand McNally, Bren is convinced that fame and fortune await him elsewhere. That is, until his repeated attempts to run away land him a punishment worse than death—cleaning up the town vomitorium.

It is there that Bren meets a dying sailor, who gives him a strange gift that hides a hidden message. Cracking the code could lead Bren to a fabled lost treasure that could change his life forever, and that of his widowed father. But to get there he will have to tie his fate to a mysterious Dutch admiral obsessed with a Chinese legend about an island that long ago disappeared from any map.

Before long, Bren is in greater danger than he ever imagined, and will need the help of an unusual friend named Mouse to survive. Barry Wolverton’s thrilling adventure spans oceans and cultures, brings together the folklore of East and West, and proves that fortune is always a double-edged sword.

about the authorbarry wolvertonBarry Wolverton is the author of Neversink. He has more than fifteen years’ experience creating books, documentary television scripts, and website content for international networks and publishers, including National Geographic, Scholastic.com, the Library of Congress, and the Discovery Networks. He lives in Memphis, Tennessee. You can visit him online at www.barrywolverton.com.

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Be sure to visit the rest of the blog tour stops for more great content & chances to win a signed advanced copy of The Vanishing Island:

6/15/2015 Blue Stocking Thinking                  bluestockingthinking.blogspot.com
6/16/2015 The Haunting of Orchid Forsythia    hauntedorchid.blogspot.com
6/17/2015 Small Review                               smallreview.blogspot.com
6/18/2015 Maria’s Melange                         www.mariaselke.com/
6/19/2015 Unleashing Readers                    unleashingreaders.com
6/19/2015 The Hiding Spot                             ​thehidingspot.blogspot.com
6/22/2015 This Kid Reviews Books              thiskidreviewsbooks.com
6/23/2015 Mundie Kids                                http://mundiekids.blogspot.com/
6/24/2015 Page in Training                        https://pageintraining.wordpress.com
6/25/2015 Novel Novice                              novelnovice.com

Book Review: The Heart of Betrayal by Mary E. Pearson

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The highly-anticipated sequel to The Kiss of Deception, The Heart of Betrayal by Mary E. Pearson will leave readers anxious for the next installment in Lia’s epic story.

heart of betrayalIntrigue abounds in this hotly anticipated sequel to The Kiss of Deception!

Held captive in the barbarian kingdom of Venda, Lia and Rafe have little chance of escape. Desperate to save her life, Lia’s erstwhile assassin, Kaden, has told the Vendan Komizar that she has the gift, and the Komizar’s interest in Lia is greater than anyone could have foreseen.

Meanwhile, nothing is straightforward: there’s Rafe, who lied to Lia, but has sacrificed his freedom to protect her; Kaden, who meant to assassinate her but has now saved her life; and the Vendans, whom Lia always believed to be barbarians. Now that she lives amongst them, however, she realizes that may be far from the truth. Wrestling with her upbringing, her gift, and her sense of self, Lia must make powerful choices that will affect her country… and her own destiny.

The Heart of Betrayal  was not as easily captivating to me as The Kiss of Deception (perhaps because there was no big mystery reveal to anticipate?) — and the story was slow for much of the book. (It also probably didn’t help that the book does very little to jog the reader’s mind about things that took place in Book 1. Having been a year since reading Kiss of Deception — and being old — I had a hard time remember a lot that happened.) That being said, I’m still eager for the third book in The Remnant Chronicles.

Despite a relatively slow pace, the book reveals many new layers to Lia’s world — including a secret conspiracy that will change everything to come next. And when it comes to a climactic ending, The Heart of Betrayal does not disappoint. The action really culminates in the book’s final scenes — and BOY HOWDY, is it intense … right up to a very cruel cliffhanger of an ending.

The Heart of Betrayal is in stores July 7th.

New YA Releases: June 23, 2015

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

emmy and oliverEmmy & Oliver by Robin Benway

Emmy just wants to be in charge of her own life.

She wants to stay out late, surf her favorite beach—go anywhere without her parents’ relentless worrying. But Emmy’s parents can’t seem to let her grow up—not since the day Oliver disappeared.

Oliver needs a moment to figure out his heart.

He’d thought, all these years, that his dad was the good guy. He never knew that it was his father who kidnapped him and kept him on the run. Discovering it, and finding himself returned to his old hometown, all at once, has his heart racing and his thoughts swirling.

Emmy and Oliver were going to be best friends forever, or maybe even more, before their futures were ripped apart. In Emmy’s soul, despite the space and time between them, their connection has never been severed. But is their story still written in the stars? Or are their hearts like the pieces of two different puzzles—impossible to fit together?

Readers who love Sarah Dessen will tear through these pages with hearts in throats as Emmy and Oliver struggle to face the messy, confusing consequences of Oliver’s father’s crime. Full of romance, coming-of-age emotion, and heartache, these two equally compelling characters create an unforgettable story.

rules, theThe Rules by Debbie Viguie & Nancy Holder

Narrated by alternating unreliable narrators, this dark thriller will have readers on the edge of their seats. No one is safe and everyone is a suspect. It’s Saw meets I Know What You Did Last Summer.

Junior Robin Brisset has no idea what she’s in for when she accepts an invitation to one of Callabrese High’s most exclusive parties. And when the trademark scavenger hunt begins, Robin must go against every rule she’s lived by to survive.

rise and fall of a theater geekThe Rise and Fall of a Theater Geek by Seth Rudetsky

Broadway, New York.

The shows, the neon lights . . . the cute chorus boys! It’s where Justin has always wanted to be–and now, with a winter internship for a famous actor, he finally has his chance to shine. If only he could ditch his kind, virtuous, upright, and–dare he say it?—uptight boyfriend, Spencer. But once the internship begins, Justin has more to worry about than a cramped single-guy-in-the-city style. Instead of having his moment in the spotlight, he’s a not-so-glorified errand boy. Plus, Spencer is hanging out with a celebra-hottie, Justin’s best friend Becky isn’t speaking to him, and his famous actor boss seems headed for flopdom. Justin’s tap-dancing as fast as he can, but all his wit and sass might not be enough to switch his time in New York from nightmare-terrible to dream-come-true terrific.

Seth Rudetsky’s second YA novel is endearingly human, laugh-out-loud funny, and for any kid who’s ever aspired to Broadway but can only sneak in through the stage door.

calling maggie mayCalling Maggie May by Anonymous

A dark and edgy first-person cautionary tale about how one girl’s seemingly minor choices quickly spiraled into a life as a sex worker in the tradition of Go Ask Alice and Lucy in the Sky.

She had a normal life, until one small decision changed everything. Suddenly, there were new possibilities and new experiences.

But not all of those experiences were good.

Read her shocking story in the diary she left behind.

book of spirits and thievesA Book of Spirits and Thieves by Morgan Rhodes

Modern-day sisters discover deadly ancient magic in book 1 of this Falling Kingdoms spin-off series!

Worlds collide in this suspenseful, page-turning Falling Kingdoms spin-off series, which explores a whole new side of Mytica—and an even darker version of its magic.

Crystal Hatcher, Modern-day Toronto: It’s a normal afternoon in her father’s antique bookshop when Crys witnesses the unthinkable: her little sister Becca collapses into a coma after becoming mesmerized by a mysterious book written in an unrecognizable language.

Maddox Corso, Ancient Mytica: Maddox Corso doesn’t think much of it when he spots an unfamiliar girl in his small village. Until, that is, he realizes that she is a spirit, and he is the only one who can see or hear her. Her name is Becca Hatcher, and she needs Maddox to help get her home.

Farrell Grayson, Modern-day Toronto: Rich and aimless Farrell Grayson is thrilled when the mysterious leader of the ultra-secret Hawkspeare Society invites him into the fold. But when he learns exactly what he has to do to prove himself, Farrell starts to question everything he thought he knew about family, loyalty, and himself….

Fate has brought these young people together, but ancient magic threatens to rip them apart.

girl undone, aA Girl Undone by Catherine Linka

On the run with deadly government secrets, Avie must decide if she can live up to her name and truly become fearless for the cause or if it’s better to just give in.

The sequel and explosive conclusion to A Girl Called Fearless.

Having survived a violent confrontation with the US government, Avie is not out of danger. Both she and the young man she loves, Yates, have been declared terrorists, and Yates is hospitalized in critical condition, leaving Avie with the perilous task of carrying information that can bring down the Paternalist party, if she can get it into the right hands.

Forced on the run with handsome, enigmatic woodsman Luke, Avie struggles when every turn becomes a choice between keeping the two of them alive or completing their mission. With her face on every news channel and a quarter million dollar reward from the man who still owns her marriage Contract, Avie’s worst fears are about to come true.

Equal parts thrilling and romantic, A Girl Undone is sure to keep your heart racing right until the very end.

tangled websTangled Webs by Lee Bross

London, 1725. Everybody has a secret. Lady A will keep yours—for a price. This sumptuous, scandalous YA novel is wickedly addictive.

Lady A is the most notorious blackmailer in the city. With just a mask and a gown to disguise her, she sweeps into lavish balls and exclusive events collecting the most valuable currency in 1725 London—secrets.

But leading a double life isn’t easy. By day Lady A is just a sixteen-year-old girl named Arista who lives in fear of her abusive master, Bones, and passes herself off as a boy to move safely through the squalor of London’s slums. When Bones attempts to dispose of his pawn forever, Arista is rescued by the last person she expects: Jonathan Wild, the infamous Thief Taker General who moves seamlessly between the city’s criminal underworld and its most elite upper circles. Arista partners with Wild on her own terms in the hopes of saving enough money to buy passage out of London.

Everything changes when she meets Graeden Sinclair, the son of a wealthy merchant. Grae has traveled the world, has seen the exotic lands Arista has longed to escape to her whole life, and he loves Arista for who she is—not for what she can do for him. Being with Grae gives something Arista something precious that she swore off long ago: hope. He has promised to help Arista escape the life of crime that has claimed her since she was a child. But can you ever truly escape the past?

leveller, theThe Leveller by Julia Durango

Nixy Bauer is a self-made Leveller. Her job? Dragging kids out of virtual reality and back to their parents in the real world. It’s normally easy cash, but Nixy’s latest mission is fraught with real danger, intrigue, and romance.

Nixy Bauer is used to her classmates being very, very unhappy to see her. After all, she’s a bounty hunter in a virtual reality gaming world. Kids in the MEEP, as they call it, play entirely with their minds, while their bodies languish in a sleeplike state on the couch. Irritated parents, looking to wrench their kids back to reality, hire Nixy to jump into the game and retrieve them.

But when the game’s billionaire developer loses track of his own son in the MEEP, Nixy is in for the biggest challenge of her bounty-hunting career. Wyn Salvador isn’t some lazy kid looking to escape his homework: Wyn does not want to be found. And he’s left behind a suicide note. Nixy takes the job but quickly discovers that Wyn’s not hiding—he’s being held inside the game against his will. But who is holding him captive, and why?

Nixy and Wyn attempt to fight their way out of a mind game unlike any they’ve encountered, and the battle brings them closer than either could have imagined. But when the whole world is virtual, how can Nixy possibly know if her feelings are real?

Gamers and action fans of all types will dive straight into the MEEP, thanks to Julia Durango’s cinematic storytelling. A touch of romance adds some heart to Nixy’s vivid, multidimensional journey through Wyn’s tricked-out virtual city, and constant twists keep readers flying through to the breathtaking end.

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

Book Review: Survival Strategies of the Almost Brave by Jen White

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A story about what courage really means, Survival Strategies of the Almost Brave by Jen White is the heartfelt story of two sisters facing tragedy upon tragedy — and the strength they must find to persist in the face of overwhelming odds.

survival strategies of the almost braveAfter their mother’s recent death, twelve-year-old Liberty and her eight-year-old sister, Billie, are sent to live with their father, who they haven’t seen since they were very young. Things are great at first; the girls are so excited to get to know their father – a traveling photographer who rides around in an RV. But soon, the pressure becomes too much for him, and he abandons them at the Jiffy Company Gas Station.

Instead of moping around and being scared, Liberty takes matters into her own hands. On their journey to get home, they encounter a shady, bald-headed gas station attendant, a full-body tattooed trucker, free Continental breakfast, a kid obsessed with Star Wars, a woman who lives with rats, and a host of other situations.

When all seems lost, they get some help from an unlikely source, and end up learning that sometimes you have to get a little bit lost to be found.

Survival Strategies of the Almost Brave is a beautiful story about the unique bond between sisters — and the lengths they will go to protect each other. Liberty and Billie’s situation is heartbreaking, but it is empowering to see the girls come together against the odds and continue fighting to find their way home.

The girls’ circumstances make the story difficult to read at times, but those hardships make the book’s ultimately uplifting ending all the more powerful and empowering. Because this truly is a story about being brave, and finding the inner strength you didn’t know you had. It’s also about how you can find love and family and hope in the most unlikely of places.

Survival Strategies of the Almost Brave is in stores now.

Book Review: The Dungeoneers by John David Anderson

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A fantasy adventure filled with heart and humor, The Dungeoneers by John David Anderson introduces a charming cast of characters and sets the stage for many more hijinks to come.

Dungeoneers cThe world is not a fair place, and Colm Candorly knows it. While his parents and eight sisters seem content living on a lowly cobbler’s earnings, Colm can’t help but feel that everyone has the right to a more comfortable life. It’s just a question of how far you’re willing to go to get it.

In an effort to help make ends meet, Colm uses his natural gift for pickpocketing to pilfer a pile of gold from the richer residents of town, but his actions place him at the mercy of a mysterious man named Finn Argos, a gilded-toothed, smooth-tongued rogue who gives Colm a choice: he can be punished for his thievery, or he can become a member of Thwodin’s Legions, a guild of dungeoneers who take what they want and live as they will. Colm soon finds himself part of a family of warriors, mages, and hunters, learning to work together in their quest for endless treasure. But not all families are perfect, and even as Colm hones his skills with fellow recruits, it becomes clear that something from outside threatens the dungeoneers–and perhaps something from inside as well.

Indeed, Thwodin’s Castle is reminiscent of a more criminally-minded Hogwarts — wherein students learn “dungeoneering” — that is, how to raid dungeons for gold and other assorted treasure. And while Colm focuses his lessons on being a “rogue,” his fellow students study the likes of magic, hunting, and more. Not so noble as the school for witchcraft and wizardry, but certainly filled with colorful teachers and dangerous situations.

The story is quite slow to unfold — and this is, perhaps, I think where my adult taste kept me from fully enjoying this book as much as a younger reader would — with lots of time spent developing characters, establishing the world, and following Colm and his friends as they learn the ropes at Thowdin’s Castle.

That said, the action really does pick up towards the end — and shows promise for more adventures for Colm and his friends in possible future books in the series. And these characters are what really make The Dunegoneers so delightful — they give the story meaning, purpose, and heart.

Look for The Dungeoneers in stores June 23rd.