Category Archives: Blog tour

Exclusive Excerpt: The Tragic Age by Stephen Metcalfe

exclusive
Today, we are thrilled to be hosting the final stop on the pre-publication blog tour for The Tragic Age by Stephen Metcalfe, a thought-provoking new contemporary coming-of-age story in the vein of The Catcher in the Rye and King Dork.

tragic ageAs part of the blog tour, we’re excited to bring you an exclusive excerpt from the book — but first, catch up on all of the previous excerpts released so-far:

And now, here is the final excerpt from The Tragic Age:

excerpt

11

It’s twenty minutes later and I’m moving down the hall- way past the school office when I glance through the open door and see that Willard Twomey is sitting on a bench.

It’s postbell but I’m in no real rush. After lunch it’s fourth period calculus and I always take some time get- ting there because I know the teacher, Mr. Thurmond, is still in the faculty lounge sucking down his umpteenth cancer stick of the day.

Mr. Thurmond, who is heavy and sad faced, is an aspiring stand-up comedian who puts flyers of his open-mike nights on the classroom bulletin board, never realizing none of us are old enough to get in. He also uses the class to try out his material, which means he tries to make calculus funny. Calculus, which studies the limits, functions, derivatives, and integrals of numbers, is about as funny as an abscessed tooth and so is Mr. Thurmond.

“What did the zero say to the eight?” he’ll say. “Nice belt!”

“What is the first derivative of a cow?” he’ll says. “Prime rib.”

No one laughs.

Which confuses and disappoints Mr. Thurmond. And makes him anxious. Which makes him want a cigarette. Which makes him excuse himself and run down the hall to the teacher’s lounge. The class is pretty much Mr. Thurmond’s only good joke.

I stop and look around to see if anyone is coming, and when I see that no one is, I turn back and go into the school office. Except for Willard Twomey and some secretary, there’s nobody else there. I clear my throat. The secretary looks up from whatever it is she’s doing. Unprepared for the port-wine hemangioma on my face, she flinches.

“Shouldn’t you be in class?” she says. No hello, no may I help you.

“I need to see the nurse,” I say.

“For what?” she says. She seems alarmed. Like maybe a birthmark is possibly contagious.

“For a brain tumor,” I say.

Actually, I don’t say that.

“My stomach hurts,” I say. “I think I ate something at lunch.” Which is true. It was something.

The secretary sighs as if she’s besieged on a daily basis by disfigured people who have gotten sick from eating something at lunch and it’s exhausted her.

“Have a seat,” the secretary says. “I’ll see if she’s in.” She gets up and she leaves, probably down the hall to join Mr. Thurmond and the school nurse in the faculty lounge for a quick smoke.

Willard Twomey is still sitting on the long wooden bench, acting as if I’m not even there. I go over and sit down next to him, leaving room between us. Now both of us are acting as if the other isn’t there. I realize I can hear Mr. Esposito, the principal, talking on the phone in the inner office. He has a surprisingly strong, authoritative voice.

“Yes, I understand . . . No, but I do want to know who’s responsible for him . . .”

Obviously he’s talking about Willard Twomey.

“Very impressive,” I say, not looking at Willard Twomey. Willard Twomey doesn’t say anything.

“What you did in the cafeteria today.” Willard Twomey doesn’t so much as blink. “Montebello’s an idiot.”

“What are you?” says Willard Twomey. He stares straight ahead. I notice that on the back of his right hand Willard Twomey has another tattoo.

Chaos.

And on the back of his left hand yet another.

Change.

“. . . yes, well, I think we should have been informed that the young man has a juvenile record and a history of physical assault,” says Principal Esposito in his surprisingly strong voice.

“Who’s he talking to?” I say.

I don’t think Willard Twomey is going to answer. But then he does.

“My grandmother. Like she’s going to do anything but make herself another drink.” Willard Twomey sounds disgusted.

“I understand. Yes, I’m sure it is difficult for you,” says Principal Esposito’s voice, full of authority.

I don’t remember the last time I’ve done this. Maybe I never have. But I do now. I stick out my right hand.

Fact.

A handshake is a ritual in which two people grasp one another’s hands. It is thought by some to have originated as a way of saying, There is no weapon in my hand. I’m not going to cut your head off. This, of course, is unless it’s the left hand, which in many parts of the world is a way of saying, I’m going to use your head to wipe my ass.

“Billy Kinsey,” I say.

Willard Twomey looks at my outstretched right hand. And now he looks at me. At me. Willard Twomey doesn’t flinch, he doesn’t waver. He studies my face. It is rude and disconcerting to the point of panic inducing and I have to force myself not to look away. His eyes trace the periphery of my right cheek and all of a sudden that side of my face begins to burn.

Point of reference.

Dorie used to say that my birthmark lightened or darkened, ebbed and flowed in shade and intensity, according to my emotions, and that a person could tell what I was feeling just by looking at it. Which is just another reason why I always try to feel nothing at all.

Sidebar.

Dorie thought my port-wine hemangioma was beautiful.

Willard Twomey reaches out and lightly taps my open hand with a closed fist. “Twom,” he whispers. He repeats himself, says it louder. “Twom Twomey.”

“Not Willard?” I say. I make sure I sort of smile as I say it.

“Not unless you want a tray in your head.” He’s sort of smiling too. The tap with the fist, I decide, is an original way of saying, I’m not going to kill you yet.

“I look forward to meeting you as well,” we hear Esposito’s voice say. It sounds like he’s wrapping things up which means it’s time to get out of there. I stand.

“See you around,” I say.

“I thought you were sick,” says Twom Twomey.

“Miraculously cured,” I say.

I beat it out of the office into the hall. When I look back I can see Esposito standing over Twom Twomey, lecturing. Twom Twomey, looking bored to stone, is staring at Mr. Esposito’s navel. Esposito might as well be talking to the wall.

Twom. Twom as in “tomb.” A mausoleum. A place for the dead. Dad thinks I should have a new friend. I wonder what he’ll think about one who’s now baptized my open palm with the right hand of chaos.

The Tragic Age is in stores March 3rd. Here is the official synopsis:

This is the story of Billy Kinsey, heir to a lottery fortune, part genius, part philosopher and social critic, full time insomniac and closeted rock drummer. Billy has decided that the best way to deal with an absurd world is to stay away from it. Do not volunteer. Do not join in. Billy will be the first to tell you it doesn’t always work— not when your twin sister, Dorie, has died, not when your unhappy parents are at war with one another, not when frazzled soccer moms in two ton SUVs are more dangerous than atom bombs, and not when your guidance counselor keeps asking why you haven’t applied to college.

Billy’s life changes when two people enter his life. Twom Twomey is a charismatic renegade who believes that truly living means going a little outlaw. Twom and Billy become one another’s mutual benefactor and friend. At the same time, Billy is reintroduced to Gretchen Quinn, an old and adored friend of Dorie’s. It is Gretchen who suggests to Billy that the world can be transformed by creative acts of the soul.

With Twom, Billy visits the dark side. And with Gretchen, Billy experiences possibilities.Billy knows that one path is leading him toward disaster and the other toward happiness. The problem is—Billy doesn’t trust happiness. It’s the age he’s at.  The tragic age.

Stephen Metcalfe’s brilliant, debut coming-of-age novel, The Tragic Age, will teach you to learn to love, trust and truly be alive in an absurd world.

My Best Everything by Sarah Tomp Blog Tour: Guest Post & Contest

mybesteverything
Today, we are excited to be hosting a stop on the official blog tour for My Best Everything by Sarah Tomp. We’ve got a guest post from Sarah about the first time she saw her book’s cover, plus more about her book & your chance to win a copy! So keep reading for all of these goodies …

guest postI love my cover!

MyBestEverything_HCFrom the start of the process, I knew I was in good hands. My editor, Bethany Strout, had shared some stunning covers created by Tracy Shaw, the designer for my book. They’d also mentioned that the talented Joel Holland was working on the art and lettering. I had faith in their talents, and yet had no idea what to expect.

Early on, I received a couple of cover comps that were lovely in their own ways, but not quite right for my book. We all thought the moonshine element should be part of it, but we didn’t want to be too obvious either. The use of a mason jar was one option.

Mason jars are attractive and evocative, but I felt like I had seen them used quite a bit on covers—and really well. I wasn’t sure how we could make mine feel unique to My Best Everything.

Another image used in those initial comps was one of a truck. A lot of the story happens in, and because of, Mason’s truck. He fixes it for Lulu, teaches her to drive, and they use it to sell their moonshine. It causes trouble with his cousin, Seth. His truck is crucial! And yet, it hadn’t occurred to me that it might be included in the cover.

I received the news on the new cover design in a backward fashion. As I was leaving work one day I saw an email from my agent, Catherine Drayton, saying “My reaction is gorgeous! What about you?” before I read the email from my editor. I was too nervous to open it then, so I drove straight home, a little too fast, but not quite bootlegger style.

They were right! It was gorgeous. And perfect for my story.

It’s a simple design that looks hand-crafted and rustic—elements that would appeal to Lulu and Mason. The title, in its big loopy pink letters, is bursting with hope—and is a nod to Lulu’s best friend, Roni, who I adore.

The woods in the background are shadowed and look simultaneously ominous and romantic. And then, in the sky, that glorious gorgeous moon looms over everything, all bright and shining. And the two figures—Lulu and Mason—sitting close together on the truck, are lit up in the moonshine too.

It’s all about the moonshine, but in the most subtle of ways.

Thanks so much for helping me to celebrate on your blog!

about the bookYou say it was all meant to be. You and me. The way we met. Our secrets in the woods. Even the way it all exploded. It was simply a matter of fate.

Maybe if you were here to tell me again, to explain it one more time, then maybe I wouldn’t feel so uncertain. But I’m going back to the beginning on my own. To see what happened and why.

Luisa “Lulu” Mendez has just finished her final year of high school in a small Virginia town, determined to move on and leave her job at the local junkyard behind. So when her father loses her college tuition money, Lulu needs a new ticket out.

Desperate for funds, she cooks up the (definitely illegal) plan to make and sell moonshine with her friends, Roni and Bucky. Quickly realizing they’re out of their depth, Lulu turns to Mason: a local boy who’s always seemed like a dead end. As Mason guides Lulu through the secret world of moonshine, it looks like her plan might actually work. But can she leave town before she loses everything – including her heart?

The summer walks the line between toxic and intoxicating. My Best Everything is Lulu’s letter to Mason – though is it an apology, a good-bye, or a love letter?

In stores March 3rd
Find it: AmazonBarnes & NobleGoodreads

about the author

Photo by Roxyanne Young

Photo by Roxyanne Young

Sarah Tomp has a MFA in writing for children and young adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts.

My Best Everything, a novel for young adults, will be published March 2015 byLittle, Brown Books.

She is also the author of a picture book; Red, White, and Blue Good-bye   (Walker Books for Young Readers).

Sarah teaches creative writing for University of California San Diego Extension. She reviews books for Bookbrowse.com and co-authors the blog, Writing on the Sidewalk.

Website | Twitter | Goodreads

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Enter to win one of 10 Finished Copies of MY BEST EVERYTHING – US Only

Enter using the Rafflecopter form HERE!

Blog Tour Schedule

Week One:

Week Two:

Blog Tour Interview & Contest: The Sin Eater’s Daughter by Melinda Salisbury

sineater
Today, we’re pleased to be hosting a stop on the official blog tour for The Sin Eater’s Daughter by Melinda Salisbury. Be sure to read all the way through for a great contest — but first we’ve got an exclusive Q&A with Melinda!

DaughterFrom the description, it sounds like THE SIN-EATER’S DAUGHTER has a lot of excellent fairy tale-like qualities. Where there any fairy tales or stories that inspired the book? How did the story evolve?

Yes! Little Red Riding hood, Sleeping Beauty and the Pied Piper of Hamelin particularly influenced The Sin Eater’s Daughter. I love fairy tales, I’ve always been drawn to them – especially the oldest, darkest ones. Initially I saw The Sin Eater’s Daughter as a kind of re-telling of Little Red Riding Hood, with the castle replacing the forest, and the queen replacing the wolf. But as the world expanded, that motif started to be lost in favour of my own inventions, like the religion and the Telling. The other aspects came because I realized I wanted my world to have its own fairytales – stories are the way people make sense of the world around them, the basis for morals and beliefs, and so I thought about my favourites and what the core messages in them were After a lot of playing around, I pulled out the parts I thought were creepiest and began to build my own stories around those. I find it fascinating that pretty much every culture in the world has their own fairytales and that they are surprisingly similar, despite the geographical distance. To me that shows how fundamental the fears and hopes of humans are, and I wanted to bring that out in my world.

With fantasy, you get to create your own world and your own settings. What inspired the setting for THE SIN-EATER’S DAUGHTER?

A lot of the ideas came from my two big loves, medieval history and travel. I knew it would be set in a pseudo-medieval time because I love that era, everything about it appeals to me, the hold religion had over the people, the way a ruler’s word was absolute law, the injustice, the customs, the beliefs, the food. I couldn’t explain why, but that time period has such an allure, and I wanted very much for that to be the base of The Sin Eater’s Daughter. Other elements were pulled in from my travels, particularly to Eastern Europe. There’s such a density of superstition and mythology and folklore, still in parts there today, and as I said above, fairytales have always called to me. So really it was a case of me creating a story I wanted to read!

The UK and US covers for THE SIN-EATER’S DAUGHTER are very similar, but they do have some differences. Do you prefer one over the other? What do you like about the two covers?

I cried like a child when I saw my UK one because I never ever thought I’d get that lucky. I thought I’d used all of my luck up getting an agent and then signing with Scholastic, so seeing the amazing, powerful cover Jamie Gregory had created sent me over the edge. It was largely the same reaction to the US one. I love them both, I couldn’t pick a favourite – it would be like trying to pick a favourite child. I just think it’s the most incredible thing that I have two covers!

Twylla is cursed with a deadly power that leaves her very isolated. What “super power” do you think she’d rather possess?

I think she’d want flight. For her, the concept of being free seems so far away, so unlikely that I think if she was given the chance to change it, she would. I think she’d love to be able to fly, and just takes to the skies when things got too much.

For readers unsure whether they want to read THE SIN-EATER’S DAUGHTER, give us your 140-character “Twitter” pitch!

Twylla is, and has always been, an agent of death. Both feted and hated, she’s painfully lonely. Until her new guard tries to befriend her…

In the kingdom of Lormere Twylla is, and always has been, an agent of death.

FLASH QUESTIONS:

Favorite decade?

1482-1485

Must-have writing snack?

Cadbury Twirl

Favorite Disney movie?

Mulan

The beach or the mountains?

Beach

Song that can always get you dancing?

“500 Miles (I Would Walk)”

Name 5 things currently on your desk (or in your writing space)

Pillows, quilt, red furry throw, computer, me.

about the book

Seventeen-year-old Twylla lives in the castle. But although she’s engaged to the prince, Twylla isn’t exactly a member of the court.

She’s the executioner.

As the Goddess embodied, Twylla instantly kills anyone she touches. Each month she’s taken to the prison and forced to lay her hands on those accused of treason. No one will ever love a girl with murder in her veins. Even the prince, whose royal blood supposedly makes him immune to Twylla’s fatal touch, avoids her company.

But then a new guard arrives, a boy whose easy smile belies his deadly swordsmanship. And unlike the others, he’s able to look past Twylla’s executioner robes and see the girl, not the Goddess. Yet Twylla’s been promised to the prince, and knows what happens to people who cross the queen.

However, a treasonous secret is the least of Twylla’s problems. The queen has a plan to destroy her enemies, a plan that requires a stomach-churning, unthinkable sacrifice. Will Twylla do what it takes to protect her kingdom? Or will she abandon her duty in favor of a doomed love?

Available February 24th. Find it: AmazonBarnes & NobleGoodreads

about the author

MelindaMelinda Salisbury lives by the sea, somewhere in the south of England. As a child she genuinely thought Roald Dahl’s Matilda was her biography, in part helped by her grandfather often mistakenly calling her Matilda, and the local library having a pretty cavalier attitude to the books she borrowed. Sadly she never manifested telekinetic powers. She likes to travel, and have adventures. She also likes medieval castles, non-medieval aquariums, Richard III, and all things Scandinavian. The Sin Eater’s Daughter is her first novel, and will be published by Scholastic in 2015. She is represented by the amazing Claire Wilson at Rogers, Coleridge and White.

She tweets. A lot.

Website | Twitter | Goodreads | Tumblr | Instagram | Pinterest

contest2

Enter to win one of 5 finished copies of THE SIN EATER’S DAUGHTER. US Only.

Fill out the Rafflecopter form HERE to get started.

BLOG TOUR SCHEDULE:

Week One:

Week Two:

Blog Tour Book Review & Contest: The Third Twin by C.J. Omololu

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Today, I am so thrilled & so honored to be part of the official blog tour for The Third Twin by C.J. Omololu.

You may have heard CJ’s story. She’s an amazing author with amazing friends who are supporting her as she battles Stage 4 colon cancer that has spread to her brain, hips, spinal cord, and several organs. Until recently we weren’t sure if CJ would make it to the release date of The Third Twin, but with the help of some modern medicine, and a whole lot of good thoughts and prayers – it looks like things are good to go for the big day.

That’s why I’m so pleased today to be able to do just a small part to help support this book and the amazing, strong woman who wrote it. Cancer sucks. CJ ROCKS!

Be sure to check out our review, then keep reading for your chance to win one of several AMAZING prize packs!!!

BOOK REVIEWOmol_9780385744522_jkt_all_r1.inddAn edge of your seat thriller awaits readers within the pages of The Third Twin by C.J. Omololu, which follows sisters Lexi and Ava, as they face the terrifying consequences of a childhood prank taken too far. As kids, they blamed a fake “third twin” – Alicia – for any trouble they got into. As teens, they use “Alicia” to date boys they’re not serious about. But when one of those boys turns up dead, the sisters begin to suspect each other … or wonder whether “Alicia” is actually real.

Omololu builds a realistic mystery, that is gripping and engaging. Readers will race through the pages, as eager as Lexi is to solve the puzzle of “Alicia” and the murder. And though she places clues throughout the book, the ultimate twist is a good one and not easy to guess (I didn’t). Readers will have their suspicions, but it’s not until all is finally revealed that the full picture becomes clear.

Suspense and intrigue keep the pages turning, but it’s the relationship between the sisters that gives the story heart. An engaging and thoughtful read, The Third Twin is in stores February 24th.

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PRE-ORDER a SIGNED copy of THE THIRD TWIN from A Great Good Place for Books
By calling: (510) 339-8210 or e-mailing them at: books@ggpbooks.com

about the bookIdentical twins. Identical DNA. Identical suspects. It’s Pretty Little Liarsmeets Revenge in this edge-of-your-seat thriller with a shocking twist.

When they were little, Lexi and her identical twin, Ava, made up a third sister, Alicia. If something broke? Alicia did it. Cookies got eaten? Alicia’s guilty. Alicia was always to blame for everything. The game is all grown up now that the girls are seniors. They use Alicia as their cover to go out with boys who are hot but not exactly dating material. Boys they’d never, ever be with in real life.

Now one of the guys Alicia went out with has turned up dead, and Lexi wants to stop the game for good. As coincidences start piling up, Ava insists that if they follow the rules for being Alicia, everything will be fine. But when another boy is killed, the DNA evidence and surveillance photos point to only one suspect: Alicia. The girl who doesn’t exist. As she runs from the cops, Lexi has to find the truth before another boy is murdered. Because either Ava is a killer…or Alicia is real.

Amazon |B&N | Kobo | Goodreads

about the authorcynthia Photo Robin Mellom 2-24-11CJ OMOLOLU is the author of the ALA-YALSA Quick Pick Dirty Little Secrets and several other YA novels. She loved to read but never thought to write until she discovered that the voices in her head often have interesting things to say. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and their two sons. Visit her online at www.cjomololu.com and follow her on Twitter @cjomololu.

contest2
25 Prizes. 16 Winners. One Huge Giveaway filled with signed books, gift cards + more!

Must be 13 + To Enter. Shipping restrictions are listed after each prize in the form, All open to US, some open INTL. | One entry per person, per household.

Fill out the Rafflecopter form HERE to enter.

Countdown Zero Blog Tour Giveaway

Countdown Zero Blog Tour Banner
Today, we are so thrilled to be hosting a stop on the official blog tour for Countdown Zero by Chris Rylander, the second book in the Codename Conspiracy series. We’ve got lots of great info about the book, plus your chance to win a signed copy of Countdown Zero. So let’s get started …

VIDEO GOES HERE

Countdown ZeroAbout COUNTDOWN ZERO by Chris Rylander:

There are people in this world who live secret lives. There are people who fight the evil that lurks in the shadows so that the rest of us can live free from tyranny and fear. There are people—perhaps the person who is sitting across from you on the bus or waiting tables at your favorite restaurant—who put it all on the line for us, every day, whose names we’ll never know.

None of these people is Carson Fender.

At least, not since he was let go by the secret agency that enlisted his services to help foil a nefarious plot perpetrated by one of their former agents. Carson is back to hanging out with his friends, pulling pranks, and not having to lie to everyone about how he’s spending his days. And that’s for the best. Isn’t it?

Of course, this was all before a note showed up in his school lunch, informing him that Agent Nineteen has three days left to live, and that there might still be someone inside the Agency working against them. Carson has always been able to rely on his friends—but what happens when there’s no one left to trust?

Chris Rylander - Author PhotoFind Chris on Twitter and his website.

ISBN/ISBN13: 0062120115/9780062120113

About Chris Rylander: 

Chris Rylander is the author of the Fourth Stall Saga and the Codename Conspiracy series.  A fan of brown shipping boxes turned on their sides, dance-offs to win a girl’s heart, and rice, he lives in Chicago.  You can visit him online at www.chrisrylander.com.

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We’re giving away a signed copy of Countdown Zero thanks to the folks at Walden Pond Press. Contest is open to the U.S. only and runs through midnight (PT) on Thursday, February 26th.

Comment below & tell us why you want to read Countdown Zero to get started, then fill out the Rafflecopter form here to officially enter the contest & find more chances to win.

Blog Tour Book Review: Vendetta by Catherine Doyle

vendetta blog tour banner
A new YA book about the mafia has arrived, and it is glorious. I’m talking about Vendetta by Cahterine Doyle, and I’m so excited to be posting today’s book review as part of the official blog tour! Be sure to keep reading for your chance to win a copy, too!

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vendettaA dangerous romance stirs, amidst an unfolding family conspiracy — and readers will find themselves swept away by the forbidden romance between the son of a crime family, and the girl who is inextricably linked to them.

Blood Will Spill, Hearts Will Break: With a fierce rivalry raging between two warring families, falling in love is the deadliest thing Sophie could do. An epic debut set outside modern-day Chicago.

For Sophie, it feels like another slow, hot summer in Cedar Hill, waitressing at her family’s diner and hanging out with her best friend Millie. But then someone moves into the long-abandoned mansion up the block–a family of five Italian brothers, each one hotter than the last. Unable to resist caramel-eyed Nicoli, Sophie finds herself falling for him — and willfully ignoring the warning signs. Why are Nic’s knuckles cut and bruised? Why does he carry an engraved switchblade? And why does his arrogant and infuriating older brother, Luca, refuse to let her see him? As the boys’ dark secrets begin to come to light, Sophie is confronted with stinging truths about her own family, too. Suddenly, she’s torn between two warring dynasties: the one she’s related to and the one she’s now in love with. She’ll have to choose between loyalty and passione. When she does, blood will spill, hearts will break. Because in this twisted underworld, dishonor can be the difference between life and death.

The first in a fantastic new series, Vendetta is a seductive read that will leave readers eager for more forbidden romance and more dangerous encounters. Even as Sophie learns the horrifying truth about Nic — and her own family — she is drawn to him, and drawn into his world.

What I love about Sophie is that, despite her initial naiveté, she comes to hold a pretty solid understanding about Nic’s world — and chooses to enter it willingly. I couldn’t help drawing comparisons to Kay, Diane Keaton’s character in The Godfather movies, who for so long, was so naive and oblivious to the reality of Michael Corleone’s world. In Vendetta, I feel as if Sophie chooses to be with Nic with her eyes wide open, even realizing that there is still much she doesn’t yet know.

And Nic. So dangerous, but so seductive — both to Sophie, and to the reader. With Sophie, we are drawn into his world and want to know more about him; want to spend more time with him. But it’s not just Nic — it’s the rest of his family, too — his brothers, who are also intriguing, and it’s fascinating to see how the different characters unfold and grow throughout the story.

I have always said I love YA books that feature the crime world, and I am so thrilled that this latest addition is so flipping fantastic. Vendetta is in stores February 24th.

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Want more YA books about the mafia or organized crime? Here are some of my favorites:

  • Arcadia Awakens Trilogy by Kai Meyer
  • Curse Workers Trilogy by Holly Black
  • Firebug by Lish McBride
  • Kiss Kill Vanish by Jessica Martinez

For the comments: What are some of your favorite YA books that feature organized crime?

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Catherine Doyle 2About the Author:

Catherine Doyle lives in the west of Ireland. She holds a bachelor’s degrees in psychology and a master’s degree in English from the National University of Ireland, Galway. Vendetta is her first novel. Catherine lives in Galway, Ireland. Follower Catherine on Twitter @Doyle_cat and on Tumblr at www.Catherine-Doyle.tumblr.com.

Visit Catherine via: her Website | Twitter | Tumblr | Goodreads

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Enter to win one of ten copies of VENDETTA! US residents only. You must be 14 years or older to enter. Prizes are provided by Scholastic

Just fill out the Rafflecopter form here to get started!

Follow the blog tour on Twitter with the hashtag #bloodforblood for more content & more chances to win!

Billy Bobble Makes a Magic Wand by R.S. Mellette: Official Blog Tour Q&A + Contest

billy bobble blog tour
Today, we are excited to be hosting a stop on the blog tour for Billy Bobble Makes a Magic Wand by R.S. Mellette — a magical story perfect for both middle grade and YA readers. We’ve got an exclusive interview with the author, plus a great contest. So be sure to keep reading for all the details!

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Billy Bobble Version 4What inspired you to bring together science and magic for this story?

A big part of that was walking through the Science-Fiction section of bookstores and seeing all of the vampires, werewolves, witches & wizards. Those are all fun, and I love them as much as the next reader, but they aren’t science-fiction. At the time I was shopping around a manuscript called “My Adventures With Hannah In Space” and a sci-fi element of that story, with just a little tweaking, would create scientific magic. Some of the editors looking at Hannah couldn’t wrap their heads around it not being set on earth, and none of the characters being human, (I guess they’ve never seen Star Wars!), so in mashing several other ideas up in my head, I came up with Billy, Suzy, and a quantum mechanical magic wand.

The book description states, “E = mc2 is no longer the most powerful force in the universe. Your wand is.” What do YOU think is the most powerful force in the universe?

That depends on how you define power, doesn’t it? A young girl’s pout can turn an adult’s resolve into nothing. A single vote, when joined with millions of others, can change the world. If you want to blow things up, or boil water, E=mc2 is as powerful as you’re going to get. If you want a My Little Pony for Christmas, go with the pout.

Love, of course, is the most powerful force in the Universe. It’s what makes the pout work. It’s what unites voters – unless the politicians use the flipside of Love, Hate. Love makes us do great, and sometimes horrible, things. That’s the paradox of Power. It is soulless, but having it can test the soul within you.

You’ve worked a lot in film, TV and theater. How did your experience in these areas help you while writing BILLY BOBBLE?

In my blogs, From the Write Angle and for the Dances With Films Festival, I talk a lot about Artistic Cross Training. Any artist can learn a ton about one discipline by working in another.

When an actor trains in a university for theatre, they are really studying writers. If you hang around enough, you’ll hear an actor say, “I’ve done Simon. I love his dialogue, you don’t even have to memorize, it just comes naturally.” Or, “Mamet is a trip. Sometimes the audience laughs, sometimes they get pissed.” Or something about Moliere, Sorkin, Shakespeare, Pinter, etc. Those writers become a tangible experience to an actor who has embodied the characters they wrote down.

The other great thing about theatre is the immediacy of lessons learned. You say a line that is supposed to be funny, and you hear crickets, you learn very quickly. If you get stuck in a scene where the character’s objectives are not clear, or their obstacles are not big enough, you instantly feel the audience shift in their seats. I remember talking to an old-school Hollywood producer about doing Shakespeare in the Philip Morris Tobacco plant as part of the Virginia Shakespeare Festival. I was saying that, waiting to go on for my scenes, I’d hear the audience cough and I knew we were in trouble. He didn’t get it. He didn’t understand that: 1) a bored audience will often cough a lot, (The joke being that people who made cigarettes for a living ALWAYS cough) and 2) a slow scene will affect the scene that follows it. In movies, each scene is a separate piece. It was a revelation to him that a problem in one scene might really be the result of a problem in the scene before it.

Film and television have taught me the importance of the little details. If a scene feels slow in a movie, an editor might tighten it up by simply making sure each cut comes on motion. This could possibly only cut a few seconds from the whole scene, but make it feel shorter by half. There is also so much that goes into recreating for the camera and the microphone what we take for granted in reality. If the tiniest little sound is missing, everything falls flat. Film and TV are an exercise in the mastery of deception. Some call them the invisible art, since when it’s done right, the audience will not notice. The pace and flow of a novel should be like that. While we artists are obsessed with “voice,” the reader should only feel it without knowing what makes them like it.

How do you think people could bring a little more “magic” into the world?

I think if we all stay in the moment and don’t sweat the small stuff we can appreciate the magic that is already there. Right now the Santa Ana Winds are blowing outside so it’s a T-shirt weather day in January. I’m choosing to enjoy the swaying trees outside my window, and not the jackhammer that’s pounding away on my neighbor’s hardscape backyard. If you’re protesting in Ferguson Missouri or waiting for your first child to be born, live in those moments. They are beautiful. If you are in pain for one reason or another, there is even joy there. Life is pain, as they say. I think, we can all illuminate these little magic moments in the space that’s around us… well, there are a lot of us. We take up a lot of space. Imagine how great it would be to find magic around everyone in every moment.

What do you hope readers take away most from BILLY BOBBLE?

I just hope they have fun. Sure, there are a lot of themes and some doctoral student could certainly write a thesis on aspects of the book, and that’s great. But, mostly, I want the reader to think they got $20’s worth of entertainment from a $3.49 download.

FLASH QUESTIONS:

Favorite decade?

The next one – though, the 1970’s were fun.

Must-have writing snack?

Do drinks count? One shot of Tuaca, sipped slowly. I don’t always have that, but it’s nice when I do. Anything chocolate.

Favorite Disney movie?

Off the top of my head, the first Pirates of the Caribbean. I love a good swash & buckle and the sword fights in that are some of the best in cinema.

The beach or the mountains?

I live in LA, we have both! But, I like the beach.

Song that can always get you dancing?

Moondance or just about anything from Bill Withers.

Name 5 things currently on your desk (or in your writing space)

  1. An empty can of Cherry Coke Zero (I’m surprised there’s just one).
  2. A remote thermometer for my grill that reads 171 degrees. (I’ve got a turkey on the rotisserie).
  3. A program from Stan Lee’s Comikaze Con.
  4. 2 Smoke detectors (I am trying to figure out which one is beeping).
  5. The first draft of the second book in the series, Billy Bobble and the Witch Hunt, on page 142 with “fix” written next to the first paragraph.That last one reminds me… back to work!

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And now here’s your chance to win some great prizes!

1st Prize- *signed* copy of Billy Bobble Makes a Magic Wand
2nd Prize- Season two of Xena: Warrior Princess

Open to US only. Contest ends 2/25/15

Enter to win by filling out the Rafflecopter form HERE!

about the book“E = mc2 is no longer the most powerful force in the universe. Your wand is.”

Twelve-year-old Billy and his best friend Suzy Quinofski didn’t mean to change the universe. Billy, a quantum physics prodigy, just wanted to find a way to help his hoarding, schizophrenic mother – and maybe impress a coven of older girls in high school. Suzy, his intellectual equal, wanted to help her friend and cling to her last remnant of childhood, a belief in magic. Together they made Billy a real, working, magic wand, and opened a door to the Quantum World where thoughts create reality, and all things – good and bad – are possible.

Amazon | Goodreads

about the authorR.S. Mellette has written, directed, designed and acted in theatre, film, television, and publishing for over 30 years. His credits in various jobs include XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS, NUTTY PROFESSOR II: THE KLUMPS, BLUE CRUSH, and his own JACKS OR BETTER, which won Dances With Films Best Screenplay award in 2000. He has been working with the festival ever since.

His novel, Billy Bobble Makes a Magic Wand, released in December 2014 from Elephant’s Bookshelf Press. For novelists, Mellette blogs for From The Write Angle. For filmmakers, he writes for Dances With Films.

Also find him on Amazon, Goodreads, Twitter and Facebook.

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Be sure to check out the whole blog tour here for more great content & chances to win!

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard: Book Review, Blog Tour Contest + “10 Random Things”

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Today, we’re hosting a stop on the official blog tour for Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard — and we’ve got some great content in store for you. Below, you will find:

  • Our review of Red Queen
  • A “Ten Random Things” post from Victoria Aveyard
  • Contest to win Red Queen & other goodies

So keep reading for all these goodies, plus more about Red Queen.

BOOK REVIEW

red queenWhen a book is as hyped as Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard has been ahead of publication, I tend to be a little wary. Is the hype worth it? Are the publishers over-compensating for something? I’ve been burned before by over-hyped books.

Such is NOT the case with Red Queen, which blew me away with how fantastic it was! Though I’m not normally a fantasy reader, I was swept away by this world of Reds and Silvers, of power, corruption, rebellion, betrayal, and romance. I was sucked into Mare’s world and I couldn’t get it out of my head long after finishing the last page. As much as I loved reading Red Queen, I still want more. Which is probably a good thing, since this is the first book in a new series.

Aveyard does a masterful job of world-building, without slowing down the pace of the plot. She is able to introduce this universe while still moving the story forward — and it was easy to slip into the world of Red Queen. That made it all the more enjoyable to dive into the story and the characters, who are the heart of the book. Mare, the princes, her friends and her family, the leaders of the rebellion, the other members of court … each character, big or small, plays a key role in the plot of Red Queen, and Aveyard does an excellent job of making sure each individual feels fully realized, no matter how often they appear within the pages.

Red Queen is a masterful new entry into the fantasy genre, lush with power, betrayal, and love. Look for it in stores February 10th.

feature10 Random Things from Victoria Aveyard

  1. I wrote the entire first draft of Red Queen without a desk. I hunched over a coffee table and probably have permanent back damage from it.
  2. The two things I promised myself I would get if I sold a manuscript were a desk and a new pair of glasses.
  3. I hate movie/TV show tie-in book covers.
  4. I love drawing fictional maps.
  5. I could eat cheese pizza for every meal for the rest of my life.
  6. I own two copies (reading copy and fancy copy) of The Lord of the Rings, The Silmarillion, and The Hobbit.
  7. I spent my 21st birthday waiting in line for George RR Martin to sign my copy of A Dance With Dragons.
  8. I’m double-jointed on my both my index fingers.
  9. I bought and filled out a Frozen coloring/puzzle book.
  10. My favorite Disney ride is Star Tours.

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One Winner will get Finished Copies of: RED QUEEN by Victoria Aveyard, THE LAST TIME WE SAY GOODBYE by Cynthia Hand and MY HEART AND OTHER BLACK HOLES by Jasmine Warga

Enter by filling out the Rafflecopter form HERE.

Ships in US only | Must be 13+ To enter

About the Book:

The poverty stricken Reds are commoners, living under the rule of the Silvers, elite warriors with god-like powers.

To Mare Barrow, a 17-year-old Red girl from The Stilts, it looks like nothing will ever change.

Mare finds herself working in the Silver Palace, at the centre of
those she hates the most. She quickly discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy Silver control.

But power is a dangerous game. And in this world divided by blood, who will win?

In stores February 10th from HarperTeen.

Amazon | B&N | Goodreads |Kobo

Victoria-Aveyard_author-photo-copy-5About the Author:

Victoria Aveyard is a screenwriter/YA author who likes books and lists. This site is the nexus of my universe. Her book RED QUEEN will be published Winter 2015 from HarperTeen at HarperCollins. She’s repped by the incomparable Suzie Townsend at New Leaf Literary & Media, Inc. The genres she’s into include YA, Fantasy, Historical, Adventure, Apocalyptic – if people are dying, she’s buying.  TWITTER | WEBSITE

The Originals: The Rise Exclusive Sneak Peek & Blog Tour Contest

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Today, I’m super excited to be hosting a stop on the official blog tour for The Originals: The Rise created by Julie Plec.

From the creator of The Originals, the hit spin-off television show of The Vampire Diaries, come three never-before-released prequel stories featuring The Original vampire family.

Today is the LAST STOP on the blog tour, but check out the tour page to see all the other fabulous content about The Originals: The Rise. Today, we’ve got an exclusive quote from the book just for you — but be sure to keep reading to learn more & enter to win a fabulous prize pack!!!

Originals Quote Image 20 - Jan.30

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The Originals: The Rise
Author: Julie Plec
Series: The Originals, book 1/3
Release date: Tuesday, January 27
See it on GoodReads

The Originals_The Rise_book 1_coverAbout the Book:

Family is power. The Original vampire family swore it to each other a thousand years ago. They pledged to remain together always and forever. But even when you’re immortal, promises are hard to keep.

Arriving in New Orleans in 1722, Original vampire siblings Klaus, Elijah and Rebekah Mikaelson believe they’ve escaped their dangerous past. But the city is lawless, a haven for witches and werewolves unwilling to share territory. The siblings are at their mercy…especially after Klaus meets the beautiful and mysterious Vivianne. Her impending marriage is key to ending the war between the supernatural factions—and Klaus’s attraction to her could destroy the uneasy alliance. As Elijah works toward securing a piece of the city for his family, and Rebekah fights her unexpected feelings for a French captain, will Klaus’s volatile desires bring their world crashing down—and tear them apart for good?

JuliePlec_AuthorPhotoAbout the Author:

Julie Plec is the co-creator & executive producer of The Vampire Diaries & the creator of The Vampire Diaries spin-off, The Originals. Plec got her start as a writer and producer on the ABC Family series Kyle XY. She also collaborated on the CW drama The Tomorrow People. Her screenplay adaptation The Tiger’s Curse is in development at Paramount, and she will produce the feature @emma with Darko Entertainment. Past feature production credits include Scream 2 and Scream 3.

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Enter to win one of 15 prize packs including: A copy of The Originals: The Rise and a copy of The Originals season 1 on DVD. US/Canada only. Ends Feb. 4, 2015.

Enter by filling out the Rafflecopter form HERE!

This event was organized by CBB Book Promotions.

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Playlist for the Dead Blog Tour: Guest Post + Contest

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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

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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