Category Archives: Featured Book

The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler: Mermaid Monday Exclusive Quote Graphics & Contest

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Today, we’re excited to be hosting a stop on “Mermaid Monday” –– celebrating the upcoming release on June 2nd of The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler. It’s all leading up to the reveal of the first two chapters of the book later today!

For our post, we have a fantastic contest — AND some exclusive quote graphics I created with some lovely passages from the book. Much of The Summer of Chasing Mermaids takes place on the Oregon coast — and as most of you know, I live in the Portland, Oregon area — so visiting the Oregon coast is not only easy, it’s one of my favorite things to do.

So I used some of my own photos from recent trips to the Oregon coast as the backgrounds for all three of our quote graphics. Feel free to share these on various social media websites, using the hashtag #MermaidMonday:

Chasing Mermaids_Quote1 Chasing Mermaids_Quote2 Chasing Mermaids_Quote3
summer of chasing mermaidsHere’s more about The Summer of Chasing Mermaids:

The youngest of six talented sisters, Elyse d’Abreau was destined for stardom—until a boating accident took everything from her. Now, the most beautiful singer in Tobago can’t sing. She can’t even speak.

Seeking quiet solitude, Elyse accepts a friend’s invitation to Atargatis Cove. Named for the mythical first mermaid, the Oregon seaside town is everything Elyse’s home in the Caribbean isn’t: An ocean too cold for swimming, parties too tame for singing, and people too polite to pry—except for one.

Christian Kane is a notorious playboy—insolent, arrogant, and completely charming. He’s also the only person in Atargatis Cove who doesn’t treat Elyse like a glass statue. He challenges her to express herself, and he admires the way she treats his younger brother Sebastian, who believes Elyse is the legendary mermaid come to life.

When Christian needs a first mate for the Cove’s high-stakes Pirate Regatta, Elyse reluctantly stows her fear of the sea and climbs aboard. The ocean isn’t the only thing making waves, though—swept up in Christian’s seductive tide and entranced by the Cove’s charms, Elyse begins to wonder if a life of solitude isn’t what she needs. But changing course again means facing her past. It means finding her inner voice. And scariest of all, it means opening her heart to a boy who’s best known for breaking them . . .

under the sea earringsThanks to our friends at Simon & Schuster, we are giving away a finished copy of The Summer of Chasing Mermaids and a set of “Under the Sea” post earrings from Urban Outfitters (pictured, right).

Earn entries by sharing one or more of the above quote graphics on Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #MermaidMonday. Submit your links & complete your entry by filling out the Rafflecopter form HERE.

You must share AT LEAST one graphic on either Twitter OR Instagram. But the more you share, the more chances you have to win!

Contest is open to the U.S. only. Runs through midnight (PT) on Tuesday, June 2nd.

Be sure to check out the other posts from Mermaid Monday throughout the day for more content, contests & a preview of the first two chapters of The Summer of Chasing Mermaids:


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

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

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

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

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

straysHere’s more about Strays:

Sometimes, life becomes unleashed.

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

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

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

Connect with Jennifer online:

Exclusive Q&A with Strays author Jennifer Caloyeras

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Favorite villain?


Pen or pencil?


Favorite piece of clothing?


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

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

Most recent vacation?

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

5 things that are always in your purse?

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

Connect with Jennifer online:

Exclusive Classroom Material: Strays by Jennifer Caloyeras

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

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

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

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

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

Strays author Jennifer Caloyeras Guest Post: Creative Inspiration

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

For now, here is Jennifer’s guest post:

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Creative Inspiration for My Novel, Strays
by Jennifer Caloyeras

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Connect with Jennifer online:

Giveaway Celebrating The President’s Shadow by Brad Meltzer

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Today, we’re excited to be hosting a fun giveaway for The President’s Shadow, the third installment in #1 bestselling author Brad Meltzer’s thrilling Culper Ring series. (Prizing provided courtesy of Grand Central Publishing.)




President's Shadow Prize Pack

One (1) winner receives:

  • A National Archives tumbler;
  • Plus copies of The Inner Circle, The Fifth Assassin, and The President’s Shadow.

Giveaway open to US addresses only. Contest runs through midnight (PT) on Monday, May 26th.

Prizing and samples provided by Grand Central Publishing.

Enter by filling out the Rafflecopter form HERE.

about the book
By Brad Meltzer
In stores June 16th

Following The Inner Circle and The Fifth Assassin, #1 bestselling author Brad Meltzer returns with The President’s Shadow.

A severed arm, found buried in the White House Rose Garden.

A lethal message with terrible consequences for the Presidency.

And a hidden secret in one family’s past that will have repercussions for the entire nation.

There are stories no one knows. Hidden stories. I find those stories for a living.

To most, it looks like Beecher White has an ordinary job. A young staffer with the National Archives in Washington, D.C., he’s responsible for safekeeping the government’s most important documents . . . and, sometimes, its most closely held secrets.

But there are a powerful few who know his other role. Beecher is a member of the Culper Ring, a 200-year-old secret society founded by George Washington and charged with protecting the Presidency.

Now the current occupant of the White House needs the Culper Ring’s help. The alarming discovery of the buried arm has the President’s team in a rightful panic. Who buried the arm? How did they get past White House security? And most important: What’s the message hidden in the arm’s closed fist? Indeed, the puzzle inside has a clear intended recipient, and it isn’t the President. It’s Beecher, himself.

Beecher’s investigation will take him back to one of our country’s greatest secrets and point him toward the long, carefully hidden truth about the most shocking history of all: family history.

culper series

about the author
BradMeltzerPhotoBrad Meltzer is the author of the #1 New York Times bestsellers The Inner Circle, The Book of Fate, and six other bestselling thrillers. His nonfiction books, Heroes for My Son and Heroes for My Daughter, were also New York Times bestsellers. He is the host of the History Channel series Brad Meltzer’s Decoded and the Eisner Award-winning writer of Justice League of America. A graduate of the University of Michigan and Columbia Law School, he currently lives in Florida. You can find much more about him at You can also see what he’s doing right now at and




Book Review: Strays by Jennifer Caloyeras

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Today, I am pleased to be kicking off a new week-long feature for a really remarkable new YA novel — in stores now — about the unique relationship between an outcast teen girl and an unwanted dog. Be sure to tune in every day this week for more unique content about the book, plus your chance to win a copy.

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A touching story about the unlikely bond between a troubled teen and an unwanted dog, Strays by Jennifer Caloyeras embodies the spirit and power of second chances.

straysSometimes, life becomes unleashed…

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

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

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

With sparkling prose and delightful humor, Jennifer Caloyeras’s novel beautifully portrays the human-animal bond.

Strays is a quietly moving story about starting over, and the powerful bond that can form between animals and humans. Caloyeras’ prose is instantly captivating, and readers will feel for Iris’s agony and her pain. Iris is a multi-faceted character — as are the others we are introduced to throughout the story. These fully-realized individuals — both people and dogs — who populate the story are what really bring Strays to life.

It’s also refreshing to find a more mature story about the human-animal bond. So often, stories about animals are geared towards younger readers (or they are traumatizingly heartbreaking, thank you very much, Marley & Me, ahem). Strays is an ultimately uplifting and hopeful story — but certainly deals with tough subjects in a mature fashion that both teens and adult readers will appreciate.

Beyond the bond between animal and human, Strays is also about the bond between individuals — friends, family, teachers, partners. And the parallels between Iris and Roman help show that everybody — whether you walk on two legs or four — sometimes needs a hand up, and a second chance.

Strays is in stores now.


Book Scavenger: 50 Books to 50 States Contest

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This afternoon, I wanted to tell you about a really fun contest from Mac Kids Books to celebrate the upcoming June 2nd release of Book Scavenger by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman. The book features a scavenger hunt, riddles, adventure, and – best of all – BOOKS!

BookScavenger3d-635x979Jennifer announced the 50 Books to 50 States promotion this morning at Mac Kids Books; basically, she’s created a real-life version of the Book Scavenger game in the novel — and here’s what it entails:


Step 1: Read the Book!

Step 2: Hide the book in a public place for another reader to discover. Report the hidden book on so others know to seek it out.

Step 3: Help spread the word that a book has been hidden by sharing on social media using #BookScavenger

HOW TO WIN AN ARC [through February 25th]

  1. Share the following on Twitter and/or Facebook: Win an arc of #BookScavenger in the 50 Books to 50 States Giveaway! Plus help launch a book hunting game! #YourState
  2. “Like” Jennifer Chambliss Bertman’s Facebook Author Page and comment or private message with your state.
  3. Visit and comment on the “50 Books to 50 States” post. Make sure to leave your state and a way to be contacted if you are the winner. (Email, Twitter handle.) Or check back at the end of February for the list of winners.
  4. Send an email to with “50 Books to 50 States” as the subject and your state in the text of the email.

Here’s more information about Book Scavenger:

Twelve-year-old Emily is on the move again. Her family is relocating to San Francisco, home of her literary idol: Garrison Griswold, creator of the online sensation Book Scavenger, a game where books are hidden all over the country and clues to find them are revealed through puzzles. But Emily soon learns that Griswold has been attacked and is in a coma, and no one knows anything about the epic new game he had been poised to launch. Then Emily and her new friend James discover an odd book, which they come to believe is from Griswold and leads to a valuable prize. But there are others on the hunt for this book, and Emily and James must race to solve the puzzles Griswold left behind before Griswold’s attackers make them their next target.

Court by Cat Patrick: Q&A + Contest

featured books
Today, we’ve got a really cool featured book to share with you — Court by Cat Patrick, a really original novel about a hidden monarchy within the United States!

court_150[2]Here’s more:

For more than 300 years, a secret monarchy has survived and thrived within the borders of the US, hiding in plain sight as the state known as Wyoming. But when the king is shot and his seventeen-year-old son, Haakon McHale, is told he will take the throne, becoming the eleventh ruler of the Kingdom of Eurus, the community that’s survived for centuries is pushed to the limit. Told through four perspectives, Court transplants us to a world that looks like ours, but isn’t. Gwendolyn Rose, daughter of the Duke of Coal, is grudgingly betrothed to Haakon — and just wants a way out. Alexander Oxendine, son of the Duke of Wind and Haakon’s lifelong best friend, already grapples with internal struggles when he’s assigned to guard Haakon after the king dies. And commoner Mary Doyle finds whispers in the woods that may solve — or destroy — everything, depending on your bloodline.

Money. Love. Power. Community. What’s your motivation?

Order Court here!

And now, here’s a quick Q&A with Cat Patrick:

cat patrick picIs this a start of a series?

I hope to write at least one more book, yes.

Do you think that the cover plays an important part in the buying process?

I do: I definitely pick up books in the store or library with covers that appeal to me. With the male lead in Court, I felt it was really important not to do the typical girl-on-the-cover thing that happens in a lot of YA books today.

Advice for aspiring authors

From one of my six-year-old daughters: “Think of something that happened to you. Touch and tell across pages. Write a quick sketch so you don’t forget. Then write the words.”

I’m not kidding. She just said that.

For me, I think the most important thing is to just do it. I hear from people all the time: “I want to publish a book.” And they haven’t written the book yet. Also, unlike my kiddo, I purposely don’t write down book ideas—or sketch them. If I forget them before it’s time to write then you’ll forget them before it’s time to read.

If you could trade places with anyone for just one day, who would you be?

Forgetting that I have a wild imagination and am now dreaming up scenarios where I get permanently stuck in someone else’s body, I’d choose someone with a very different life from mine for a new perspective, like Coco Chanel or the head of NASA or a plumber.

Favorite holiday?

Halloween. I love dressing up and fall is my favorite time of year.

About Cat Patrick:

Raised in a house that was struck by lightning–twice–Cat Patrick is the author of young adult books ForgottenRevived, and The Originals, and the co-author of Just Like Fate.

As a child, Cat could be found making up stories like her first book, Dolly the Purple Spotted Dolphin; growing corn in the backyard; or performing with a traveling sign-language troupe. She earned a journalism degree from the University of Wyoming and a master’s degree from Boston University, and worked in public relations for fifteen years. She lives outside of Seattle with her husband and twin daughters, and is on Twitter @seecatwrite, or Facebook at authorcatpatrick.

Cat once…

  • Interrupted Warren Beatty’s lunch to snap a picture with him.
    • Appeared on a game show, but not as a competitor.
    • Climbed a 50 foot tower and rappelled back down. (At least she thinks it was 50 feet.)
    • Met Muhammad Ali.
    • Was on the high school golf team.
    • Got a tattoo.
    • Was pooped on by a dolphin.
    • Performed a high kick routine to Personal Jesus.
    • Interviewed Carmen Electra.
    • Worked as a “concessionist” at a movie theater.
    • Met the guy who created Sonic the Hedgehog.

Cat likes… Crunchy snacks, decaf nonfat lattes, mint chip ice cream, Alan Rickman, zombies from afar, traveling, reading, easy hikes, challenging plotlines, stargazing, silly hats, and boots.

Cat dislikes… Talking on the phone, socks with holes, zombies close up, the flu, mean people, touching ice, copyedits, flying, spiders, squeaky windshield wipers, black licorice, and salmon.

Enter to win one of two sets of signed copies of ALL of Cat’s previous books (4 in all)!

Fill out the Rafflecopter form HERE to get started.

Enter to win Sublime by Christina Lauren

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To wrap-up our week-long feature on Sublime by Christina Lauren, we’re giving you a chance to win a copy of your very own. But first, don’t miss any of sublimethis week’s posts:

Here’s all the ways you can enter to win Sublime:

  • Comment below & tell us why you want to read it!
  • Follow Christina Lauren on Twitter
  • Follow Novel Novice on Twitter
  • Tweet about the contest

Fill out the Rafflecopter form HERE to start earning entries!

Contest is open to the U.S. only, and ends at midnight (PT) on Friday, October 17th.