Noggin by John Corey Whaley: Official Playlist

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In case you didn’t know, Noggin by John Corey Whaley is actually in development to (possibly, hopefully) become a movie. And if/when that happens, the studio will no doubt release some fancy soundtrack.

NOGGIN playlistBut until that day comes, we still have a pretty kick-ass soundtrack to Noggin, courtesy of author Corey himself — who shared this playlist with us:

1.) ‘Head Over Heels’ –Tears for Fears

2.) ‘Girls Like You’ –The Naked and the Famous

3.) ‘Forever’—Haim

4.) ‘Pop Music of the Future’ –Say Hi To Your Mom

5.) ‘Dead Heart’ –Stars

6.) ‘True Romance’ –Citizens!

7.) ‘Timeless’ –The Airborne Toxic Event

8.) ‘Power Hungry Animals’ –The Apache Relay

9.) ‘Best of Friends’ –Palma Violets

10.) ‘Forever Young’ –Youth Group

For the comments: What do you think of Corey’s playlist? Any songs you’d add?

Book Review: The Boundless by Kenneth Oppel

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Journeys – both physical and mental – abound within the pages of Kenneth Oppel’s The Boundless, a stunning new middle grade saga that combines action, adventure, and magic into one thrilling story.

boundless, theAll aboard for an action-packed escapade from the internationally bestselling author of Airborne and the Silverwing trilogy.

The Boundless, the greatest train ever built, is on its maiden voyage across the country, and first-class passenger Will Everett is about to embark on the adventure of his life!

When Will ends up in possession of the key to a train car containing priceless treasures, he becomes the target of sinister figures from his past.

In order to survive, Will must join a traveling circus, enlisting the aid of Mr. Dorian, the ringmaster and leader of the troupe, and Maren, a girl his age who is an expert escape artist. With villains fast on their heels, can Will and Maren reach Will’s father and save The Boundless before someone winds up dead?

Though intended for a middle grade audience, The Boundless contains plenty of content to entertain and engage readers of just about any age. Woven into the story are themes about family, love, friendship, coming of age, and courage. Oppel brings these themes together seamlessly with a story that is packed with action, intrigue, and a touch of magic and whimsy.

As captivating as The Boundless (the train) is to its passengers, so is The Boundless (the book) captivating to Oppel’s readers. The writing is just lovely, and the storytelling engaging. It’s easy to get swept up in the extravagance and adventure of Oppel’s story.

The Boundless is in stores April 22nd.

Read an exclusive sneak peek from The Taking by Kimberly Derting

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Today, we are super excited to share an exclusive sneak peek at The Taking by Kimberly Derting. We’re one of several blogs revealing an excerpt from Kim’s new book, which hits store shelves on April 29th.

taking, theCheck out the excerpt below, then keep reading to learn more about The Taking, where you can pre-order it, and where you’ll find the next excerpt tomorrow!

I popped the candies into my mouth, letting the sour jolt of them awaken my saliva glands and wash away the tang of dirt that seemed to cling to my tongue.

As always, I got impatient and bit down on one of the candies. Despite their gooey outer shell, inside they were rock hard, something I discovered the moment I felt a chunk of my right-side molar chip away.

Cursing, I spit the rest of the candies in a messy wad onto the ground and ran my tongue over the new, rough edge of my tooth. I’d just been to the dentist last week, something I hated doing, and now this would mean I’d be forced to see him again.

Fishing my cell phone from the front pocket of my uniform pants, I decided it was time to call for backup. I still couldn’t believe I’d ended up behind the Dumpster of a gas station last night. My parents were probably freaking the hell out. I was freaking the hell out.

Not to mention Austin . . .

I dialed him first, not caring that my decision was sure to set off another round of arguments when I got home.

I held the phone to my ear and waited. After a moment I pulled the phone away and inspected it.

no service, the screen read.

No service—how was that even possible? I knew exactly where I was. I’d been at this gas station hundreds of times; it was maybe a mile from my house—well within our coverage map.

Whatever, I thought, getting tentatively to my feet and waiting till my legs felt steady. I did my best to ignore the headache that continued to pulse behind my eyes. The walk would probably do me good.

Read more from The Takingtomorrow at Paranormal Book Club!

Here is the full synopsis for The Taking:

A flash of white light . . . and then . . . nothing.

When sixteen-year-old Kyra Agnew wakes up behind a Dumpster at the Gas ’n’ Sip, she has no memory of how she got there. With a terrible headache and a major case of déjà vu, she heads home only to discover that five years have passed . . . yet she hasn’t aged a day.

Everything else about Kyra’s old life is different. Her parents are divorced, her boyfriend, Austin, is in college and dating her best friend, and her dad has changed from an uptight neat-freak to a drunken conspiracy theorist who blames her five-year disappearance on little green men.

Confused and lost, Kyra isn’t sure how to move forward unless she uncovers the truth. With Austin gone, she turns to Tyler, Austin’s annoying kid brother, who is now seventeen and who she has a sudden undeniable attraction to. As Tyler and Kyra retrace her steps from the fateful night of her disappearance, they discover strange phenomena that no one can explain, and they begin to wonder if Kyra’s father is not as crazy as he seems. There are others like her who have been taken . . . and returned. Kyra races to find an explanation and reclaim the life she once had, but what if the life she wants back is not her own?

Pre-Order The Taking:

Or call one of the following stores to request a signed copy:

  • Books of Wonder
  • Mysterious Galaxy
  • The King’s English
  • Blue Willow

Book Trailer Spotlight: Noggin by John Corey Whaley

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Today we’re featuring the fantastic book trailer for Noggin by John Corey Whaley, our April Book of the Month. The book hit stores just yesterday, but if you haven’t picked up your copy yet (DO IT!), this trailer will definitely pique your interest:

Fun fact! The same people also produced the trailer for Whaley’s first book, Where Things Come Back.

Blog Tour & Contest: The Red Lily Crown by Elizabeth Loupas

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Today, I’m excited to be featuring an exclusive guest post as part of the blog tour for The Red Lily Crown by Elizabeth Loupas, an exciting new historical fiction novel that is in stores now! Here’s more about it:

THE RED LILY CROWN coverFlorence Italy, 1574; Chiara Nerini, the troubled daughter of an anti-Medici bookseller, sets out to save her starving family by selling her dead father’s rare alchemical equipment to the prince. Instead she is trapped in his household—imprisoned and forcibly initiated as a virgin acolyte in Francesco’s quest for power and immortality. Undaunted, she seizes her chance to pursue undreamed-of power of her own.

The court of Francesco de Medici, his rise to power and mysterious death, has fascinated historians for centuries. Loupas gives a fresh interpretation of the royal intrigue and power-hungry characters that ruled Italy while weaving a compelling story that “Effortlessly evokes the dangerous glamour of Renaissance Italy…” (The Chicago Tribune)

Sounds awesome, right? Today, Elizabeth stops by with a guest post about what life would be like in 16th-century Florence for her character, Chiara, growing up. Keep reading below for your chance to win a copy of The Red Lily Crown,too!

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“It’s a Long Story…”
By Elizabeth Loupas

One tricky thing about world-building in historical fiction is that your world is, well, historical. Certain things happened on certain dates. As an author you have all kinds of latitude in working out why people might have done things, what their private thoughts were, what motivated them, what happened behind the scenes—and that’s the wonderful thing about historical fiction, really—but when it comes to dates, you’re pretty well stuck.

Elizabeth Loupas headshotIn my first book, the whole story happened over the course of about three and a half months. Easy to keep up the pace and the suspense without skipping over any time. My second book, although not much longer in word count, covered a little over five years. A longer timeline, but still manageable.

When I started on my third book, though, I found myself facing a timeline of fifteen years. There was no way I could show everything that happened in fifteen years! And I couldn’t pick a shorter capsule of time because if I did, I would lose some of the dramatic and exciting historical events that I wanted to incorporate into the story. This time I had to plan much more carefully in order to maintain the pace and the suspense over the much longer timeline.

(As an aside, this challenge of telling a story that covers a long period of time isn’t exclusive to historical fiction. A writer can have any number of reasons for needing or wanting a story to start here and end there, in any kind of setting.)

So what did I do?

Well, first of all I had to start with my main character young—fifteen years old. Of course, in the Florence of the sixteenth century Medici, fifteen wasn’t quite as young as it is today. Fifteen-year-old girls were routinely married off, sometimes to much older men, in a way that would make us shudder with distaste today. My fifteen-year-old heroine wasn’t married off—in fact, she was coerced into taking a vow of virginity—but for all her youth she was able to interact with other characters more or less as an adult. The story was off to a good start.

An important thing to do when you’re skipping over weeks or months or even years of time, is to use date-and-place headers at the beginnings of chapters, particularly chapters that mark a jump forward. I think readers subconsciously think, “oh, we’re skipping forward a bit,” when they see a new date heading to a chapter. Instead of a specific date, sometimes I would head a chapter with something like, “The silver mine at Bottino, northwest of Florence—Ten days later.”

Another technique I used to skip over the less-than-thrilling periods in my timeline was setting up the story in sections—“books”—with each book focused on a different female character in the story. This gave me a smooth way to skip forward to events featuring that character, and move on to another book when that character’s main story arc ended or changed. When I needed to skip over a year or more, starting a new “book” within the book was a way to help readers acclimate to the change.

If you’re going to skip over chunks of time, you do have to fill the reader in a bit on what’s been going on. My favorite way to do this was to start a chapter with action and/or dialogue in the new time, just enough to get the reader well-ground. Then I used a stream-of-consciousness-style narration (yes, telling—but telling does have its place sometimes) to fill in the gaps and bring the reader up to date. Although the story is told in third-person points of view, I worked to weave definite “voice” into these narrations, so not only does the reader learn what’s happened, but what the point-of-view character thinks about it. They turned out to be fun to write, as well as a way to smooth the time transitions.

Another challenge when writing a story that takes place over a significant span of time is showing how your characters change. No one stays the same over fifteen years! My fifteen-year-old main character starts out as a defiant and deeply troubled shopkeeper’s daughter, and as the story continues and she matures, she passes through several stages: a prideful and materialistic young woman on the fringes of the court, a wounded and terrified casualty of power politics, a focused professional in the alchemical science of the day, and ultimately a strong woman capable of trust, self-sacrifice, and great love. The other characters in the book change as well—some for the better, some for the worse, just as people do in real life.

It was a considerable challenge to map out my story over a fifteen-year time span, and many times I banged my head against my desk and swore I’d never do it again. But for all the technical difficulties, it was worth it—it offered wonderful scope for richness of story and characterization.

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You can visit Elizabeth’s website to learn more about The Red Lily Crown and her other books!

Meanwhile, we’re giving away one copy of The Red Lily Crown – and all you have to do is check out this Rafflecopter for all the entry details.

Entries are limited to U.S. only. Contest is open through April 15th.

For the comments: Tell us why you want to read The Red Lily Crown.

New YA Releases: April 8, 2014

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

dreams of gods and monstersDreams of Gods & Monsters by Laini Taylor

By way of a staggering deception, Karou has taken control of the chimaera rebellion and is intent on steering its course away from dead-end vengeance. The future rests on her, if there can even be a future for the chimaera in war-ravaged Eretz.

Common enemy, common cause.

When Jael’s brutal seraph army trespasses into the human world, the unthinkable becomes essential, and Karou and Akiva must ally their enemy armies against the threat. It is a twisted version of their long-ago dream, and they begin to hope that it might forge a way forward for their people.

And, perhaps, for themselves. Toward a new way of living, and maybe even love.

But there are bigger threats than Jael in the offing. A vicious queen is hunting Akiva, and, in the skies of Eretz … something is happening. Massive stains are spreading like bruises from horizon to horizon; the great winged stormhunters are gathering as if summoned, ceaselessly circling, and a deep sense of wrong pervades the world.

What power can bruise the sky?

From the streets of Rome to the caves of the Kirin and beyond, humans, chimaera and seraphim will fight, strive, love, and die in an epic theater that transcends good and evil, right and wrong, friend and enemy.

At the very barriers of space and time, what do gods and monsters dream of? And does anything else matter?

nogginNoggin by John Corey Whaley

Listen — Travis Coates was alive once and then he wasn’t.

Now he’s alive again.

Simple as that.

The in between part is still a little fuzzy, but he can tell you that, at some point or another, his head got chopped off and shoved into a freezer in Denver, Colorado. Five years later, it was reattached to some other guy’s body, and well, here he is. Despite all logic, he’s still 16 and everything and everyone around him has changed. That includes his bedroom, his parents, his best friend, and his girlfriend. Or maybe she’s not his girlfriend anymore? That’s a bit fuzzy too.

Looks like if the new Travis and the old Travis are ever going to find a way to exist together, then there are going to be a few more scars.

Oh well, you only live twice.

ask meAsk Me by Kimberly Pauley

Ask Aria Morse anything, and she must answer with the truth. Yet she rarely understands the cryptic words she‘s compelled to utter. Blessed—or cursed—with the power of an Oracle who cannot decipher her own predictions, she does her best to avoid anyone and everyone.

But Aria can no longer hide when Jade, one of the few girls at school who ever showed her any kindness, disappears. Any time Aria overhears a question about Jade, she inadvertently reveals something new, a clue or hint as to why Jade vanished. But like stray pieces from different puzzles, her words never present a clear picture.

Then there’s Alex, damaged and dangerous, but the first person other than Jade to stand up for her. And Will, who offers a bond that seems impossible for a girl who’s always been alone. Both were involved with Jade. Aria may be the only one who can find out what happened, but the closer she gets to solving the crime, the more she becomes a target. Not everyone wants the truth to come out.

between two worldsBetween Two Worlds by Katherine Kirkpatrick

On the treeless shores of Itta, Greenland, as far north as humans can settle, sixteen-year-old Inuit Billy Bah spots a ship far out among the icebergs on the bay–a sight both welcome and feared. Explorers have already left their indelible mark on her land and its people, and a ship full of white men can mean trouble.
The ship carries provisions for Robert E. Peary, who is making an expidition to the North Pole. As a child, Billy Bah spent a year in America with Peary’s family. When her parents went to America years later, they died in a tragic scandal. Now, Peary’s wife, daughter, and crew are in Itta to bring him supplies. Winter comes on fast, and when the ship gets caught in the ice, Billy Bah sets out to find Peary. The journey will imperil her life, and that of the man she loves.
By turns lyrical and gripping, Between Two Worlds is an impassioned coming-of-age novel set in a land of breathtaking beauty and danger, where nature and love are powerful and unpredictable forces.

here and now, theThe Here and Now by Ann Brashares

Follow the rules. Remember what happened. Never fall in love.

This is the story of seventeen-year-old Prenna James, who immigrated to New York when she was twelve. Except Prenna didn’t come from a different country. She came from a different time—a future where a mosquito-borne illness has mutated into a pandemic, killing millions and leaving the world in ruins.

Prenna and the others who escaped to the present day must follow a strict set of rules: never reveal where they’re from, never interfere with history, and never, ever be intimate with anyone outside their community. Prenna does as she’s told, believing she can help prevent the plague that will one day ravage the earth.

But everything changes when Prenna falls for Ethan Jarves.

incineratorIncinerator by Niall Leonard

Incinerator is the pulse-pounding sequel to Crusher, Niall Leonard’s debut YA novel and an Edgar Award finalist for Best Young Adult Novel.

Following the bloody deaths of his mother and father, Finn Maguire is determined to make a fresh start, running a boxing gym in the bruised and bitter heart of the city. But when loan sharks target his business partner and his lawyer vanishes with all his money, Finn is dragged down into London’s underworld once more, with only his fists and his wits to keep him alive.

toxic heartToxic Heart by Theo Lawrence

A city in flames. A trust betrayed. A perfect love destroyed.

Has Aria lost Hunter, her one true love?

Ever since rebellion broke out in Mystic City, pitting the ruling elite against the magic-wielding mystics, Aria has barely seen her boyfriend. Not surprising, since Hunter is the leader of the mystic uprising, and he’ll do whatever it takes to win freedom for his people—even if that means using Aria.

But Aria is no one’s pawn. She believes she can bring the two warring sides together, save the city, and win back the Hunter she fell in love with.

Before she can play peacemaker, though, Aria will need to find the missing heart of a dead mystic. The heart gives untold powers to whoever possesses it, but finding it means seeking out a fierce enemy whose deepest desire is for Aria to be gone—forever.

vigilante poetsThe Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy by Kate Hattemer

Witty, sarcastic Ethan and his three friends decide to take down the reality TV show, For Art’s Sake, that is being filmed at their high school, the esteemed Selwyn Arts Academy, where each student is more talented than the next. While studying Ezra Pound in English class, the friends are inspired to write a vigilante long poem and distribute it to the student body, detailing the evils of For Art’s Sake. But then Luke—the creative force behind the poem and leader of the anti-show movement—becomes a contestant on the nefarious show. It’s up to Ethan, his two remaining best friends, and a heroic gerbil named Baconnaise to save their school. Along the way, they’ll discover a web of secrets and corruption involving the principal, vice principal, and even their favorite teacher.

what we hideWhat We Hide by Marthe Jocelyn

Americans Jenny and her brother, Tom, are off to England: Tom to university, to dodge the Vietnam draft, Jenny to be the new girl at a boarding school, Illington Hall. This is Jenny’s chance to finally stand out, so accidentally, on purpose, she tells a lie. But in the small world of Ill Hall, everyone has something to hide. Jenny pretends she has a boyfriend. Robbie and Luke both pretend they don’t. Brenda won’t tell what happened with the school doctor. Nico wants to hide his mother’s memoir. Percy keeps his famous dad a secret. Oona lies to everyone. Penelope lies only to herself.
Deftly told from multiple points of view in various narrative styles, including letters and movie screenplays, What We Hide is provocative, honest, often funny, and always intriguing.

burn outBurn Out by Kristi Helvig

Holed up in an underground shelter, Tora is alone–her brilliant scientist father murdered, her mother and sister burned to death. She dreams of living on a planet with oceans, plants, and animals. Unfortunately, the oceans dried out ages ago, the only plants are giant cacti with deadly spines, and her pet, Trigger, is a gun–one of the bio-energetic weapons her father created for the government before his conscience kicked in.

When family friend, Markus, arrives with mercenaries to take the weapons by force, Tora’s fury turns to fear when government ships descend in an attempt to kill them all. She forges an unlikely alliance with Markus and his rag-tag group of raiders, including a smart but quiet soldier named James. Tora must quickly figure out who she can trust, as she must choose between saving herself by giving up the guns or honoring her father’s request to save humanity from the most lethal weapons in existence.

world outsideThe World Outside by Eva Wiseman

Seventeen-year-old Chanie Altman lives the protected life of a Lubavitcher Hasidic girl in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, New York, in 1991. Religion is the most important aspect of her life, and, like other Lubavitcher girls, she is expected to attend a seminary and to marry as soon as she graduates from high school. But Chanie has a beautiful voice and dreams of becoming an opera singer – a profession forbidden to a Hasidic girl. When she meets David, a non-Hasidic Jewish boy, he opens the portals to the world outside her fundamentalist community. The Crown Heights riots break out, and the Lubavitchers are put under siege by their African-American neighbors. A tragedy occurs. Will Chanie stay in the fundamentalist community she has always known in a life that has been prescribed for her, or will she leave it behind to follow her dreams?

sea of shadowsSea of Shadows by Kelley Armstrong

In the Forest of the Dead, where the empire’s worst criminals are exiled, twin sisters Moria and Ashyn are charged with a dangerous task. For they are the Keeper and the Seeker, and each year they must quiet the enraged souls of the damned.

Only this year, the souls will not be quieted.

Ambushed and separated by an ancient evil, the sisters’ journey to find each other sends them far from the only home they’ve ever known. Accompanied by a stubborn imperial guard and a dashing condemned thief, the girls cross a once-empty wasteland, now filled with reawakened monsters of legend, as they travel to warn the emperor. But a terrible secret awaits them at court—one that will alter the balance of their world forever.

greatGreat by Sara Benincasa

Everyone loves a good scandal.

Naomi Rye usually dreads spending the summer with her socialite mother in East Hampton. This year is no different. She sticks out like a sore thumb among the teenagers who have been summering (a verb only the very rich use) together for years. But Naomi finds herself captivated by her mysterious next-door neighbor, Jacinta. Jacinta has her own reason for drawing close to Naomi-to meet the beautiful and untouchable Delilah Fairweather. But Jacinta’s carefully constructed world is hiding something huge, a secret that could undo everything. And Naomi must decide how far she is willing to be pulled into this web of lies and deception before she is unable to escape.

Based on a beloved classic and steeped in Sara Benincasa’s darkly comic voice, Great has all the drama, glitz, and romance with a terrific modern (and scandalous) twist to enthrall readers.

plus onePlus One by Elizabeth Fama

Divided by day and night and on the run from authorities, star-crossed young lovers unearth a sinister conspiracy in this compelling romantic thriller.

Seventeen-year-old Soleil Le Coeur is a Smudge—a night dweller prohibited by law from going out during the day. When she fakes an injury in order to get access to and kidnap her newborn niece—a day dweller, or Ray—she sets in motion a fast-paced adventure that will bring her into conflict with the powerful lawmakers who order her world, and draw her together with the boy she was destined to fall in love with, but who is also a Ray.

Set in a vivid alternate reality and peopled with complex, deeply human characters on both sides of the day-night divide, Plus One is a brilliantly imagined drama of individual liberty and civil rights, and a fast-paced romantic adventure story.

dirt bikes, drones, and other ways to flyDirt Bikes, Drones and Other Ways to Fly by Conrad Wesselhoeft

Seventeen year-old dirt-bike daredevil Arlo Santiago catches the eye of the U.S. military with his first-place ranking on a video game featuring drone warfare, and must reconcile the work they want him to do with the emotional scars he has suffered following a violent death in his family. ADIOS, NIRVANA author Conrad Wesselhoeft takes readers from the dusty arroyos of New Mexcio to the skies over war-torn Pakistan in this young adult novel about daring to live in the wake of unbearable loss.

far from youFar From You by Tess Sharpe

Sophie Winters nearly died. Twice.

The first time, she’s fourteen, and escapes a near-fatal car accident with scars, a bum leg, and an addiction to Oxy that’ll take years to kick.

The second time, she’s seventeen, and it’s no accident. Sophie and her best friend Mina are confronted by a masked man in the woods. Sophie survives, but Mina is not so lucky. When the cops deem Mina’s murder a drug deal gone wrong, casting partial blame on Sophie, no one will believe the truth: Sophie has been clean for months, and it was Mina who led her into the woods that night for a meeting shrouded in mystery.

After a forced stint in rehab, Sophie returns home to a chilly new reality. Mina’s brother won’t speak to her, her parents fear she’ll relapse, old friends have become enemies, and Sophie has to learn how to live without her other half. To make matters worse, no one is looking in the right places and Sophie must search for Mina’s murderer on her own. But with every step, Sophie comes closer to revealing all: about herself, about Mina and about the secret they shared

swim that rockSwim That Rock by Jay Primiano & John Rocco

When his dad goes missing in a fishing-boat accident, fourteen-year-old Jake refuses to think he may have lost his father forever. But suddenly, nothing seems certain in Jake’s future, and now his family’s diner may be repossessed by loan sharks. In Narragansett Bay, scrabbling out a living as a quahogger isn’t easy, but with the help of some local clammers, Jake is determined to work hard and earn enough money to ensure his family’s security and save the diner in time. Told with cinematic suspense and a true compassion for the characters, Swim That Rock is a fast-paced coming-of-age story that beautifully and evocatively captures the essence of coastal Rhode Island life, the struggles of blue-collar family dynamics, and the dreams of one boy to come into his own.

breakfast served anytimeBreakfast Served Anytime by Sarah Combs

When Gloria sets out to spend the summer before her senior year at a camp for gifted and talented students, she doesn’t know quite what to expect. Fresh from the heartache of losing her grandmother and missing her best friend, Gloria resolves to make the best of her new circumstances. But some things are proving to be more challenging than she expected. Like the series of mysterious clues left by a certain Professor X before he even shows up to teach his class, Secrets of the Written Word. Or the very sweet, but very conservative, roommate whose coal-industry family champions mountaintop removal. Not to mention the obnoxious Mason, who dresses like the Mad Hatter and immediately gets on Gloria’s nerves — but somehow won’t escape her thoughts. Beautifully told by debut author Sarah Combs, this honest and touching story of growing up is imbued with the serene atmosphere of Kentucky’s natural landscape.

interrogation of ashala wolfThe Interrogation of Ashala Wolf by Ambelin Kwaymullina

They’re known as Firestarters. Boomers. Skychangers. The government calls them Illegals — children with inexplicable abilities — and detains them in menacing facilities so that society is kept out of harm’s way. Ashala Wolf and her Tribe of fellow Illegals have taken refuge in the Firstwood, a forest eerily conscious of its inhabitants, where they do their best to survive and where they are free to practice their abilities. But when Ashala is compelled to venture outside her territory, she is betrayed by a friend and captured by an enemy. Injured and vulnerable, with her own Sleepwalker ability blocked, Ashala is forced to succumb to a machine that will pull secrets from her mind. It’s only a matter of time before the machine ferrets out the location of the Tribe. Her betrayer, Justin Connor, is ever-present, saving her life when she wishes to die and watching her every move. Will the Tribe survive the interrogation of Ashala Wolf?

klaatu terminusThe Klaatu Terminus by Pete Hautman

In a far distant future, Tucker Feye and the inscrutable Lia find themselves atop a crumbling pyramid in an abandoned city. In present-day Hopewell, Tucker’s uncle Kosh faces armed resistance and painful memories as he attempts to help a terrorized woman named Emma, who is being held captive by a violent man. And on a train platform in 1997, a seventeen-year-old Kosh is given an instruction that will change his life, and the lives of others, forever. Tucker, Lia, and Kosh must evade the pursuit of maggot-like Timesweeps, battle Master Gheen’s cult of Lambs, all while they puzzle out the enigmatic Boggsians as they search for one another and the secrets of the diskos. Who built them? Who is destroying them? Where — and when — will it all end?

zom-b missionZom-B Mission by Darren Shan

B Smith and the other Angels are relieved to finally receive their first mission – to safely escort a group of human survivors from the zombie-infested streets of London to New Kirkham, a barricaded safe haven in the country. But after battling through crowds of undead monsters, B discovers that the survivors of the town don’t necessarily represent the best of humanity. And when evil influences make their way to New Kirkham, unearthing demons from B’s past, the humans will be forced to choose between being honorable and being safe.

Darren Shan continues his adventures of a teenage zombie trying to right the wrongs of a flawed human life, exploring the morality and ills of society through the lens of an apocalypse gone wrong–and a terrifying hell on earth reigning.

lonesome young, theThe Lonesome Young by Lucy Connors

Get swept away in the first book of the sensational romantic drama that is Romeo & Juliet meets Justified.

WHAT HAPPENS when the teenage heirs of two bitterly FEUDING FAMILIES can’t stay away from each other?

The Rhodales and the Whitfields have been sworn enemies for close on a hundred years, with a whole slew of adulterous affairs, financial backstabbing, and blackmailing that’s escalated the rivalry to its current state of tense ceasefire.

IT’S TIME TO LIGHT THE FUSE . . .

And now a meth lab explosion in rural Whitfield County is set to reignite the feud more viciously than ever before. Especially when the toxic fire that results throws together two unlikely spectators—proper good girl Victoria Whitfield, exiled from boarding school after her father’s real estate business melts down in disgrace, and town motorcycle rebel Mickey Rhodale, too late as always to thwart his older brothers’ dangerous drug deals.

Victoria and Mickey are about to find out the most passionate romances are the forbidden ones.

. . . ON A POWDER KEG FULL OF PENT-UP DESIRE, risk-taking daredevilry, and the desperate actions that erupt when a generation of teens inherits nothing but hate.

rebel belleRebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins

Harper Price, peerless Southern belle, was born ready for a Homecoming tiara. But after a strange run-in at the dance imbues her with incredible abilities, Harper’s destiny takes a turn for the seriously weird. She becomes a Paladin, one of an ancient line of guardians with agility, super strength and lethal fighting instincts.

Just when life can’t get any more disastrously crazy, Harper finds out who she’s charged to protect: David Stark, school reporter, subject of a mysterious prophecy and possibly Harper’s least favorite person. But things get complicated when Harper starts falling for him–and discovers that David’s own fate could very well be to destroy Earth.

With snappy banter, cotillion dresses, non-stop action and a touch of magic, this new young adult series from bestseller Rachel Hawkins is going to make y’all beg for more.

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

Book Review: Noggin by John Corey Whaley

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If I could tell you only one thing about Noggin by John Corey Whaley, it would be this: YOU MUST READ THIS BOOK.

But since that’s not the only thing I can tell you, I should also mention that Noggin is funny, smart, irreverent, thoughtful, thought-provoking, and absolutely crazy, insane, and just perfect.

nogginListen — Travis Coates was alive once and then he wasn’t.

Now he’s alive again.

Simple as that.

The in between part is still a little fuzzy, but he can tell you that, at some point or another, his head got chopped off and shoved into a freezer in Denver, Colorado. Five years later, it was reattached to some other guy’s body, and well, here he is. Despite all logic, he’s still 16 and everything and everyone around him has changed. That includes his bedroom, his parents, his best friend, and his girlfriend. Or maybe she’s not his girlfriend anymore? That’s a bit fuzzy too.

Looks like if the new Travis and the old Travis are ever going to find a way to exist together, then there are going to be a few more scars.

Oh well, you only live twice.

Noggin has everything I look for in a book: it is funny, but also sad. Unique, yet offers a refreshing perspective on universal experiences. Beautifully written and it sticks with you long after finishing the last page. Noggin bears all the earmarks of a beloved coming of age story, while still remaining wholly unique.

Whaley’s insightful and casual writing lends the story the perfect tone, delicately balancing the absurd with the emotional. Noggin rings with nostalgia, as Travis reflects longingly on the life he left behind five years earlier — while also illustrating the importance of accepting what is, and moving forward, rather than living in the past.

It’s this theme, more than anything else, I think, that sets Noggin apart. Because these feelings, and the challenge of moving forward rather than living in the past, are not something unique to Travis and his situation. This is something everyone experiences throughout their lives not just as teenagers, but continuously throughout adulthood, as well. We all have those moments when we look fondly back on the past and long for those days, which often seem far better than they probably, actually were.

And Noggin perfectly captures this struggle: the struggle to look back fondly, while moving on — and finding peace and joy and happiness in the path ahead.

Noggin is in stores tomorrow.

Book Review: Dreams of Gods & Monsters by Laini Taylor

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Dreams of Gods & Monsters by Laini Taylor is the perfectly epic conclusion to an already epic trilogy – a fitting finale, to be sure.

dreams of gods and monstersBy way of a staggering deception, Karou has taken control of the chimaera rebellion and is intent on steering its course away from dead-end vengeance. The future rests on her, if there can even be a future for the chimaera in war-ravaged Eretz.

Common enemy, common cause.

When Jael’s brutal seraph army trespasses into the human world, the unthinkable becomes essential, and Karou and Akiva must ally their enemy armies against the threat. It is a twisted version of their long-ago dream, and they begin to hope that it might forge a way forward for their people.

And, perhaps, for themselves. Toward a new way of living, and maybe even love.

But there are bigger threats than Jael in the offing. A vicious queen is hunting Akiva, and, in the skies of Eretz … something is happening. Massive stains are spreading like bruises from horizon to horizon; the great winged stormhunters are gathering as if summoned, ceaselessly circling, and a deep sense of wrong pervades the world.

What power can bruise the sky?

From the streets of Rome to the caves of the Kirin and beyond, humans, chimaera and seraphim will fight, strive, love, and die in an epic theater that transcends good and evil, right and wrong, friend and enemy.

At the very barriers of space and time, what do gods and monsters dream of? And does anything else matter?

Dreams of Gods & Monsters kept me up late at night, in a delicious, delightful, magical, (sleep-deprived) way — and not just for reading. Yes, I had to know what would unfold next. I had to know what fate awaited Karou, Akiva, Kiri, Mik, Zuzana, and all the rest. Even in this final book, Taylor set up and revealed new layers of her magical world — and I wanted to witness each one being peeled back and revealed.

But even when I stopped reading for the night, I found myself lying awake, thinking about these characters and these worlds and the struggles ahead of them. The very essence of Dreams of Gods & Monsters stuck with me, far beyond the page.

With Dreams of Gods & Monsters, Taylor has crafted an elegant and magnificent finale to her masterful trilogy. Beautifully written and masterfully plotted, Dreams of Gods & Monsters is the perfect ending to an incomparable series.

It is in stores tomorrow.

Steadfast by Claudia Gray – Witchy Writing Contest Winner

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To celebrate our March Book of the Month, we asked you to write a short 250-500 word story that involved witches or witchcraft. The winner will receive a copy of Steadfast and a Steadfast bookmark from Claudia Gray.

The winner is Rachelle Hayes and here is her winning story:

Kissing Frogs

“Hibbity, ribbity, bibbity, doy,
Change this frog back into a boy!”

I then threw my severed pig’s tongue – which I totally bought. I’d never cut out Wilbur’s tongue. Ick – into the gooey, slimy concoction I’d created in order for this spell to work.

I looked up from the nasty mess, which had begun to sparkle, and watched the hilariously ugly brown-speckled frog, turn into a shimmering mass of blue glitter. Either my spell officially worked, or I was going to have to explain my swirly-cloud prom date to my high school principal.

Thankfully the glitter died a quick and pretty death, leaving me with a very angry looking boy. I could tell he was extremely ticked off. And not just his-girlfriend-accidentally-set-fire-to-his-homework-again-while-trying-to-light-a-candle-with-her-mind angry, but more of a his-girlfriend-accidentally-slash-on-purpose-turned-him-into-a-frog-for-three-days kind of angry. His eyebrows were scrunched together so hard that they’d become one entity. His normally full and sexy lips were so pinched I couldn’t even see them, his eyes were sizzling, and his fists were clenched. It all totally contrasted with his normal good-guy persona.

Impressively, even with his jaw ticking he managed to talk. “Jess, I’m trying really hard right now not to yell at you,” he paused to let his nostrils flare, which in turn caused his dark hair to puff up a little where it hung down in front of his eyes, “but you turned me into a frog and I really don’t think I can stop it from coming out.”

“Umm…” Oh good job, Jess. Way to express all of your sincerest apologies. Take a deep breath. Let it out. Then talk.

“You know I didn’t mean it, Devin. I’m sorry. You just made me so angry and I wasn’t thinking and then I didn’t know how to change you back. And I had a frog as a boyfriend for THREE DAYS!” I totally hadn’t meant to bring out the waterworks. I knew that doing so was a huge relationship cheat. Devin couldn’t stand it when I cried. To be fair I’d only cried in front of him once, when Sasha the Cat died from being used as an impromptu sacrifice by a psycho warlock, but to cheer me up, and thus get me to stop crying, he’d taken me to Disneyland. It kind of worked, until I’d seen a stuffed Cheshire Cat and used my powers to unintentionally blow it up.

I heard him mutter, “Dammit, Jess,” while I was having my own pity-party behind my hands, inefficiently trying to hide my inappropriate tears. But Devin, being the sweet, loving, amazing boy that he is, came over and hugged me. Being wrapped up in his warmth again, instead of sleeping next to a frog, was more magical than any spell.

To lighten the mood a little I said, “You were such an ugly frog, too.”

Devin pulled back a little, to say what, I’d never know, because what came out of his mouth next had me seriously flabbergasted.

“Really, Jess? That’s what – Ribbit!”

Recent Contest Winners

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It’s time to catch up on recent contest winners … and I’m going all the way back to January for some of these. (You know, back before I was married? What!) Thanks, as always, for your patience. And for any prizes I’ll be mailing out myself, expect them to go out in May. Now, on with the winners!

Starters Giveaway

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To celebrate the release of Enders by Lissa Price, we gave away a copy of Starters, the first book in this two-book series — and asked you to tell us whose body would you want to take over for a day and why. The winner is: Paola Benavides and here is her entry:

If I had to take over anyone’s body for one day, I would choose my grandmother. This sounds a little bizarre but I think it would be really interesting. I would not only understand her better but I would also have an idea of what it feels like to get to that age. I think being aware of the toll age takes on your body is priceless. I also feel like we rarely think of getting old and what the future is going to be like so I couldn’t pass this one up. It would be such an eye-opening experience that I can’t even think about choosing someone else.

Novel Novice’s 4-Year Anniversary Contest

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To celebrate our blog-o-versary, we gave away an assortment of fun prize packs and books. Here are all of the prizes and their winners:

A Need So Beautiful and A Want So Wicked by Suzanne Young – signed copies
Winner: Christina Sapyta

Origin by Jessica Khoury – signed copy
Winner: Alison Stover

Paper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff – signed copy
Winner: Amy Cokenour

Pulse by Patrick Carman – signed copy
Winner: Emily Thiel

The winners of assorted YA swag packs are:

  • Diane Johnson
  • Maria Touet
  • Brittany Burton

Sara’s Wedding Contest

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To celebrate my January 25th wedding, I put together a fun book-ish, wedding-themed prize pack. We asked you to tell us your favorite wedding traditions as part of your contest entries. The winner is: Chris Bails, whose favorite wedding tradition is:

I love the first dance with father and bride and also the Groom & Bride. I love any of the special dancing with the Bridle Party. It just shows how much they care and love each others.

And the following runners-up will each receive a Once Upon a Time bookmark:

  1. Natasha Donohoo
  2. Angela Sanders
  3. Brook DeCost
  4. Kori Watkins
  5. Alison Stover

OutNerdMe Posters

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We teamed up with indie fan artist OutNerdMe to give away two of Stephen’s amazing designs featuring YA novels.

The Katniss/Hunger Games poster goes to Crystal Glasgow

The Harry Potter poster goes to William Cennamo

Congrats to both! If you didn’t win, be sure to check out OutNerdMe on Etsy to purchase your own print.

The Ring & the Crown Giveaway

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One lucky winner receives copies of The Ring and the Crown, Blue Bloods and Masquerade, all by Melissa de la Cruz. The winner is: Becca Fowler. Congrats!

Be sure to check out our other on-going contests for more chances to win fun prizes!