Book Review: The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler

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The perfect summer book, The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler is a story about life, love, family, and courage. It’s about finding your voice, and the strength to use it. And it’s also a shining example of what makes the Oregon coast so spectacularly magical.

summer of chasing mermaidsThe 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 . . .

I’ll be honest — though I was already intrigued by the premise of The Summer of Chasing Mermaids, when I found out it was set on the Oregon coast (one of my favorite places on earth), I HAD to read it immediately. And I’m so glad I did. The book is like a manifesto about why the Oregon coast is such a magnificent place, and Ockler’s descriptions brings the sometimes-sunny, sometimes-overcast seaside setting to life in brilliant technicolor. I was actually on the Oregon coast just recently, and it made me want to read The Summer of Chasing Mermaids all over again.

Of course, beyond its seductive setting, The Summer of Chasing Mermaids is filled with everything you’d expect from Sarah Ockler, and the perfect summer reading experience: romance, drama, and beautifully written characters. It’s not just Elyse and Christian who are so captivating; a very strong cast of supporting characters really heighten the story and bring it to life. They are fully realized, and brilliantly written — and I’d happily spend time reading about their stories, as well. (Hint, hint.)

Whether you can hit the beach or not, The Summer of Chasing Mermaids should be the one summer-themed book you read this year. It’s magical, romantic, and honestly raw. It’s in stores now.

New YA Releases: June 16, 2015

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

every last wordEvery Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone

If you could read my mind, you wouldn’t be smiling.

Samantha McAllister looks just like the rest of the popular girls in her junior class. But hidden beneath the straightened hair and expertly applied makeup is a secret that her friends would never understand: Sam has Purely-Obsessional OCD and is consumed by a stream of dark thoughts and worries that she can’t turn off.

Second-guessing every move, thought, and word makes daily life a struggle, and it doesn’t help that her lifelong friends will turn toxic at the first sign of a wrong outfit, wrong lunch, or wrong crush. Yet Sam knows she’d be truly crazy to leave the protection of the most popular girls in school. So when Sam meets Caroline, she has to keep her new friend with a refreshing sense of humor and no style a secret, right up there with Sam’s weekly visits to her psychiatrist.

Caroline introduces Sam to Poet’s Corner, a hidden room and a tight-knit group of misfits who have been ignored by the school at large. Sam is drawn to them immediately, especially a guitar-playing guy with a talent for verse, and starts to discover a whole new side of herself. Slowly, she begins to feel more “normal” than she ever has as part of the popular crowd . . . until she finds a new reason to question her sanity and all she holds dear.

glittering shadowsGlittering Shadows by Jaclyn Dolamore

The revolution is here.

Bodies line the streets of Urobrun; a great pyre burns in Republic Square. The rebels grow anxious behind closed doors while Marlis watches as the politicians search for answers—and excuses—inside the Chancellery.

Thea, Freddy, Nan, and Sigi are caught in the crossfire, taking refuge with a vibrant, young revolutionary and a mysterious healer from Irminau. As the battle lines are drawn, a greater threat casts a dark shadow over the land. Magic might be lost—forever.

This action-packed sequel to Dark Metropolis weaves political intrigue, haunting magic, and heartbreaking romance into an unforgettable narrative. Dolamore’s lyrical writing and masterfully crafted plot deliver a powerful conclusion.

deadfallDeadfall by Anna Carey

In the compelling sequel to Blackbird, Anna Carey delivers a gritty and adrenaline-filled story of a girl desperate to escape her mysterious and terrifying assailants. Told in second person, this heart-pounding thriller puts the reader in front of the target.

A week ago, you woke up in Los Angeles with no memory of who you are. The only thing you knew: people are trying to kill you. You put your trust in Ben, but he betrayed you and broke your heart. Now you’ve escaped to New York City with a boy named Rafe, who says he remembers you from before. But the two of you are not safe. The same people who are after you are tailing Rafe as well. As the chase heats up, your memory starts to return, but your past cannot save you from the terrifying circumstances of your present, or the fact that one wrong move could end this game forever.

With enemies on every side, and not a reprieve in sight, Deadfall will grab readers and refuse to let go. Perfect for fans of the Maze Runner series and the Legend series.

Untitled-4The Night We Said Yes by Lauren Gibaldi

A fun, romantic read, perfect for fans of Sarah Dessen and Susane Colasanti!

Before Matt, Ella had a plan. Get over a no-good ex-boyfriend. Graduate from high school without any more distractions. Move away from Orlando, Florida, where she’s lived her entire life.

But Matt—the cute, shy, bespectacled bass player who just moved to town—was never part of that plan.

And neither was attending a party that was crashed by the cops just minutes after they arrived. Or spending an entire night saying “yes” to every crazy, fun thing they could think of.

Then Matt abruptly left town, and he broke not only Ella’s heart but those of their best friends, too. So when he shows up a year later with a plan of his own—to relive the night that brought them together—Ella isn’t sure whether Matt’s worth a second chance. Or if re-creating the past can help them create a different future.

In alternating then and now chapters, debut author Lauren Gibaldi crafts a charming, romantic story of first loves, lifelong friendships, uncovered secrets, and, ultimately, finding out how to be brave.

between the notesBetween the Notes by Sharon Huss Roat

When Ivy Emerson’s family loses their house—complete with her beloved piano—the fear of what’s to come seizes her like a bad case of stage fright. Only this isn’t one of her single, terrifying performances. It’s her life.

And it isn’t pretty.

Ivy is forced to move with her family out of their affluent neighborhood to Lakeside, also known as “the wrong side of the tracks.” Hiding the truth from her friends—and the cute new guy in school, who may have secrets of his own—seems like a good idea at first. But when a bad boy next door threatens to ruin everything, Ivy’s carefully crafted lies begin to unravel . . . and there is no way to stop them.

As things get to the breaking point, Ivy turns to her music, some unlikely new friends, and the trusting heart of her disabled little brother. She may be surprised that not everyone is who she thought they were . . . including herself.

Debut author Sharon Huss Roat crafts a charming and timely story of what happens when life as you know it flips completely upside down.

after hoursAfter Hours by Claire Kennedy

Isa, Xavi, Peter, and Finn know that a job at the high-end Waterside Cafe isn’t just about waiting tables. It’s about the gossip, the hook-ups, the after-hours parties and, most of all, it’s about Tips.

Tips–the high-stakes game based on dares. Whoever completes the most dares wins the collected money. A sum that could change a wasted summer into a Summer to Remember.

Isa is the new girl with an embarrassing secret, and as long as she stays on top of her game, she sees no reason why anyone could ever find out.

Xavi will do anything for the money…absolutely anything.

Peter, Xavi’s stepbrother, has been in love with her for years, and he thinks the game is the perfect time to confess his feelings.

Finn is in the game just for the thrill. He has enough tips coming in to keep him happy…even if those tips come with some conditions.

From seduction to stealing to threats, the dares are a complete free-for-all, and only the best can win.

The sophisticated Waterside Cafe is anything but classy behind the scenes…and things are about to get dirty.

last of the spiritsThe Last of the Spirits by Chris Priestley

Sam and Lizzie are freezing and hungry on the streets of Victorian London. When Sam asks a wealthy man for some coins, he is rudely turned away. Months of struggle suddenly find their focus, and Sam resolves to kill the man. Huddling in a graveyard for warmth, Sam and Lizzie are horrified to see the earth around one of the tombs begin to shift, shortly followed by the wraithlike figure of a ghostly man. He warns Sam about the future which awaits such a bitter heart, and so begins Sam’s journey led by terrifying spirits through the past, present and future, after which Sam must decide whether to take the man, Scrooge’s, life or not.

A perfectly layered, tense and supremely satisfying twist on one of Dickens’ most popular books, cleverly reinvented to entice a younger readership.

blood will tellBlood Will Tell by April Henry

When a woman’s body is found in a Portland park, suspicion falls on an awkward kid who lives only a hundred feet away, a teen who collects knives, loves first-person shooter video games, and obsessively doodles violent scenes in his school notebooks. Nick Walker goes from being a member of Portland’s Search and Rescue team to the prime suspect in a murder, his very interest in SAR seen as proof of his fascination with violence. How is this even possible? And can Alexis and Ruby find a way to help clear Nick’s name before it’s too late?

April Henry weaves another page-turning, high stakes mystery in Book 2 of the Point Last Seen series.

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

Percy Pack: 10th Anniversary Kick-Off Contest

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Today, we are thrilled to be kicking off a six-month celebration for the 10th anniversary of The Lightning Thief, Book 1 in the Percy Jackson & the Olympians series by Rick Riordan.

PercyPackBADGEAs part of the official “Percy Pack,” we’ll be bringing you fun posts, exclusive content, and fabulous contests throughout the next six months.

And it all starts TODAY!

SUMMER SPECIAL

Starting today, through June 22nd, The Lightning Thief has been discounted to $0.99 across ALL e-book platforms. It even includes a sneak peek excerpt from Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, Book One: The Sword of Summer.

You can also catch a sneak peek of Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, Book One: The Sword of Summer online at ReadRiordan.com!

 BARNES & NOBLE COLLECTOR’S EDITION

The perfect gift for new and faithful Percy fans: Barnes & Noble offers customers an exclusive Collector’s Edition of The Lightning Thief to celebrate the 10th anniversary. This version includes extra content from both author and illustrator as well as a specially designed jacket and endpapers. Purchase here.

10TH ANNIVERSARY ACTIVITY KIT

Available starting June 12th, visit ReadRiordan.com to download a special 10th anniversary Percy Pack Activity Kit.

ABOUT THE SERIES

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Percy Jackson is a good kid, but he can’t seem to focus on his schoolwork or control his temper. And lately, being away at boarding school is only getting worse–Percy could have sworn his pre-algebra teacher turned into a monster and tried to kill him. When Percy’s mom finds out, she knows it’s time that he knew the truth about where he came from, and that he go to the one place he’ll be safe. She sends Percy to Camp Half Blood, a summer camp for demigods (on Long Island), where he learns that the father he never knew is Poseidon, God of the Sea. Soon a mystery unfolds and together with his friends–one a satyr and the other the demigod daughter of Athena–Percy sets out on a quest across the United States to reach the gates of the Underworld (located in a recording studio in Hollywood) and prevent a catastrophic war between the gods.

CELEBRATE PERCY’S 10TH ANNIVERSARY with The Lightning Thief, the book that started the internationally best-selling Percy Jackson and the Olympians series.

THE LIGHTNING THIEF has sold millions of copies worldwide, appears on school reading lists nationwide, and inspired a major motion picture. Accolades include:

  • Included in Time Magazine’s 2014 List of 100 best Young-Adult Books of All Times
  • A New York Times Notable Book of 20015
  • A Child Magazine Best Book of the Year
  • A School Library Journal Best Book of 2005
  • More than 6 year on the New York Times Best Sellers List (and counting!)

RICK RIORDAN ONLINE

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Celebrate the 10th Anniversary of The Lightning Thief with today’s giveaway — a chance to win the complete boxed set of Percy Jackson & the Olympians.

PercyBoxSetTo enter, tell us in the comments which Greek God is your favorite (and why), then fill out the Rafflecopter form here to complete your entry & earn more chances to win.

Contest is open to U.S. mailing addresses only. Prizing provided by Disney-Hyperion.

Contest runs through midnight (PT) on Monday, June 22nd.

 

Blog Tour Ten Random Things + Contest: Amber Smoke by Kristin Cast

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Today, we’re thrilled to be participating in the official blog tour for Amber Smoke by Kristin Cast. If that name sounds familiar to you, it should: Kristin is one-half of the mother-daughter author team behind the best-selling House of Night series (along with Kristin’s mom, P.C. Cast).

For today’s post, we have ten random things about Kristin, from Kristin herself:

  1. I have 4 tattoos.
  2. I’m vegan.
  3. I twirl my hair when I’m tired or daydreaming.
  4. In middle school, I thought it would be super cool to have a retainer, so I begged my mom to take me to the dentist to get one. She did not.
  5. I can’t parallel park.
  6. I love pickles, but hate cucumbers.
  7. I have a hard time falling asleep if the TV isn’t on.
  8. Matt Smith is my favorite Doctor. (It may have something to do with my love for River, Amy, and Rory.)
  9. I jump on a mini trampoline for at least 10 minutes everyday.
  10. I’m always surprised by how beautiful the sky is.

Amber smoke_approved_hi resAmber Smoke is the first book in Kristin’s new solo series, The Escaped, which was released in stores this week. Here’s more about it:

There is a world that runs parallel to our own, a world in which the souls of the damned are caged, where they are looked over by the Furies, and where they spend eternity in torment, mirroring the devastation and mayhem they created when alive.

Someone has opened the cage.

The worst of terrors has crossed the barrier that separates our world from theirs, and the Furies send a great, albeit untested warrior—their only son, Alek—to try to bring those souls back.  He is young and handsome, headstrong and impulsive, and he won’t be able to do it alone.

Eva has grown up, beautiful and beloved, but surrounded by secrets.  First, she will be hunted in an ancient feud that will threaten her life.  Then, she will become the hunter.

With the police closing in and two worlds on the verge of crumbling around them, Alek and Eva must find each other, discover the limits of their powers, and work together to save everything they hold dear, including one another.  Blending elements of mythology with the dazzling storytelling that her fans have devoured through the House of Night series, Kristin Cast weaves a spellbinding and passionate tale that starts a thrilling new series with an explosive charge.

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PRAISE

Amber Smoke is thrilling and funny with just the right amount of magic. Brilliant job, Kristin Cast!” —Kresley Cole, #1 New York Times bestselling author

“I love Kristin Cast! In Amber Smoke, Cast’s wit, creativity and talent shine!  I turned the pages at lightning speed, ready for more! What a tasty treat!” —Gena Showalter, New York Times & USA Today bestselling author

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kristin Cast is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author who teamed with her mother to write the wildly successful House of Night series. She has editorial credits, a thriving t-shirt line, and a passion for all things paranormal. When away from her writing desk, Kristin loves relaxing with her significant other and their dogs, and discovering new hobbies. This year she’ll work on swimming, yoga, and adding to her Doctor Who collection.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | YouTube

GIVEAWAY

One winner will get: (One) signed copy of the book (print), $50 Nook gift card,  temporary tattoo metallic (book inspired object). US only.

Enter by filling out the Rafflecopter form HERE!

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Book Review: Blood Will Tell by April Henry

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The latest crime-thriller from April Henry, Blood Will Tell will leave her fans delighted by its twists and turns.

blood will tellWhen a woman’s body is found in a Portland park, suspicion falls on an awkward kid who lives only a hundred feet away, a teen who collects knives, loves first-person shooter video games, and obsessively doodles violent scenes in his school notebooks. Nick Walker goes from being a member of Portland’s Search and Rescue team to the prime suspect in a murder, his very interest in SAR seen as proof of his fascination with violence. How is this even possible? And can Alexis and Ruby find a way to help clear Nick’s name before it’s too late?

April Henry weaves another page-turning, high stakes mystery in Book 2 of the Point Last Seen series.

Based on the real teen volunteers in Portland, Oregon’s Multnomah County Search and Rescue (SAR), Henry’s fictional version is injected with loads of real-life inspiration. Part of the appeal reading Blood Will Tell is finding the nuggets of fact within the fictional story.

Henry also has a knack for keeping readers on their toes, and she does so expertly within the pages of Blood Will Tell, which sees the return of her young search & rescue volunteers first introduced in The Body in the Woods. With the second book in her Point Last Seen series, we get to learn more about Nick, Alexis, and Ruby — as they work together to solve the crime, clear Nick’s name, and become stronger friends.

And of course, Blood Will Tell is filled with mystery, tension, and high-stakes — with a killer on the loose, and one of the teen’s falsely accused of the brutal crime.

Blood Will Tell hits store shelves on June 16th.

New YA Releases: June 9, 2015

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

stars never riseThe Stars Never Rise by Rachel Vincent

Sixteen-year-old Nina Kane should be worrying about her immortal soul, but she’s too busy trying to actually survive. Her town’s population has been decimated by soul-consuming demons, and souls are in short supply. Watching over her younger sister, Mellie, and scraping together food and money are all that matters. The two of them are a family. They gave up on their deadbeat mom a long time ago.

When Nina discovers that Mellie is keeping a secret that threatens their very existence, she’ll do anything to protect her. Because in New Temperance, sins are prosecuted as crimes by the brutal Church and its army of black-robed exorcists. And Mellie’s sin has put her in serious trouble.

To keep them both alive, Nina will need to trust Finn, a fugitive with deep green eyes who has already saved her life once and who might just be an exorcist. But what kind of exorcist wears a hoodie?

Wanted by the Church and hunted by dark forces, Nina knows she can’t survive on her own. She needs Finn and his group of rogue friends just as much as they need her.

our brothers at the bottom of the bottom of the seaOur Brothers at the Bottom of the Bottom of the Sea by Jonathan David Kranz

Don’t fall, Ethan scrawls in red permanent marker across the rides and signs of Sea Town. Since his brother Jason’s death, Ethan can’t let go of his big brother.

Don’t fall, Rachel reads as she prepares to dump back into the ocean the shells her brother Curtis collected. Curtis had Down syndrome, but that isn’t why he plummeted to his death from the Rock-It Roll-It Coaster.

Together, Ethan and Rachel are about to discover just how far a man will go to protect his kingdom.With lyrical storytelling, Jonathan Kranz spins an irresistible tale of mystery and grief, guilt and culpability.

mindwalkerMindwalker by A.J. Steiger

At seventeen, Lain Fisher has already aced the Institute’s elite training program for Mindwalkers, therapists who use a direct neural link to erase a patient’s traumatic memories. A prodigy and the daughter of a renowned scientist-whose unexplained death left her alone in the world-Lain is driven by the need to save others.

When Steven, a troubled classmate, asks her to wipe a horrific childhood experience from his mind, Lain’s superiors warn her to stay away. Steven’s scars are too deep, they say; the risk too great. Yet the more time Lain spends with him, the more she begins to question everything about her society. As she defies the warnings and explores Steven’s memories, it becomes clear that he’s connected to something much bigger…something the Institute doesn’t want the world to discover.

Lain never expected to be a rule breaker. She certainly didn’t plan on falling in love with a boy she’s been forbidden to help. But then, she never expected to stumble into a conspiracy that could ignite a revolution.

last year's mistakeLast Year’s Mistake by Gina Ciocca

Before:
Kelsey and David became best friends the summer before freshman year and were inseparable ever after. Until the night a misunderstanding turned Kelsey into the school joke, and everything around her crumbled—including her friendship with David. So when Kelsey’s parents decided to move away, she couldn’t wait to start over and leave the past behind. Except, David wasn’t ready to let her go…

After:
Now it’s senior year and Kelsey has a new group of friends, genuine popularity, and a hot boyfriend. Her life is perfect. That is, until David’s family moves to town and he shakes up everything. Soon old feelings bubble to the surface and threaten to destroy Kelsey’s second chance at happiness. The more time she spends with David, the more she realizes she never truly let him go. And maybe she never wants to.

Told in alternating sections, LAST YEAR’S MISTAKE is a charming and romantic debut about loving, leaving, and letting go.

truth about my successThe Truth About My Success by Dyan Sheldon

Paloma Rose is sixteen and already a major TV star. She has money, franchises, adoring fans—and an agent and parents who are dependent on her success to sustain their very comfortable lives. But all that could come to an end when Paloma becomes more famous for her bad behavior than for her acting and her show’s sponsors threaten to cancel the upcoming season if things don’t improve. Meanwhile, Paloma’s worried agent happens upon Oona Ginness working in a coffee shop. Maybe she’s not as tall or as blond as Paloma, but details aside, they really might be twins. So a plan is born: What if they send Paloma to a brat camp to become a better person and put the malleable and much nicer Oona in her place? Oona thinks it’s a stupid idea, but the money is hard to resist, given her family’s dire circumstances. What does she have to lose? Of course, plans don’t always work out the way they’re supposed to. . . .

i am the traitorI Am the Traitor by Allen Zadoff

In the third and final installment in the Unknown Assassin trilogy, Boy Nobody is on the run from The Program and uncovers a secret about his past that forces him to decide where his loyalties lie.

The Program has sent Boy Nobody on countless missions, instructed to kill whichever target he was given. But now, after going rogue, he is on his own mission to rescue his friend Howard who was captured by The Program. Boy Nobody manages to free Howard as well as Tanya, a mysterious girl who was being held with him. Howard and Tanya help Boy Nobody collect information about his father, eventually revealing a dangerous secret that teaches Boy Nobody a valuable lesson — he can’t trust anyone.

Allen Zadoff packs the third book of the Unknown Assassin series with even more action, higher stakes, and mind-blowing reveals that will leave readers riveted.

finding audreyFinding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Shopaholic series comes a terrific blend of comedy, romance, and psychological recovery in a contemporary YA novel sure to inspire and entertain.

An anxiety disorder disrupts fourteen-year-old Audrey’s daily life. She has been making slow but steady progress with Dr. Sarah, but when Audrey meets Linus, her brother’s gaming teammate, she is energized. She connects with him. Audrey can talk through her fears with Linus in a way she’s never been able to do with anyone before. As their friendship deepens and her recovery gains momentum, a sweet romantic connection develops, one that helps not just Audrey but also her entire family.

those girlsThose Girls by Lauren Saft

Junior year, the suburbs of Philadelphia. Alex, Mollie and Veronica are those girls: they’re the best of friends and the party girls of the school. But how well does everybody know them–and really, how well do they know one another? Alex is secretly in love with the boy next door and has joined a band–without telling anyone. Mollie suffers from a popular (and possibly sociopathic) boyfriend, as well as a serious mean streak. And Veronica just wants to be loved–literally, figuratively, physically….she’s not particular. Will this be the year that bonds them forever….or tears them apart for good?

Lauren Saft masterfully conveys what goes on in the mind of a teenage girl, and her debut novel is raw, honest, hilarious, and thought-provoking, with a healthy dose of heart.

aliveAlive by Chandler Baker

Stella Cross’s heart is poisoned.

After years on the transplant waiting list, she’s running out of hope that she’ll ever see her eighteenth birthday. Then, miraculously, Stella receives the transplant she needs to survive.

Determined to embrace everything she came so close to losing, Stella throws herself into her new life. But her recovery is marred by strange side effects: Nightmares. Hallucinations. A recurring pain that flares every day at the exact same moment. Then Stella meets Levi Zin, the new boy on everyone’s radar at her Seattle prep school. Stella has never felt more drawn to anyone in her life, and soon she and Levi are inseparable.

Stella is convinced that Levi is her soul mate. Why else would she literally ache for him when they are apart?

After all, the heart never lies…does it?

sacred lies of minnow blyThe Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly by Stephanie Oakes

The Kevinian cult has taken everything from seventeen-year-old Minnow: twelve years of her life, her family, her ability to trust.

And when she rebelled, they took away her hands, too.

Now their Prophet has been murdered and their camp set aflame, and it’s clear that Minnow knows something—but she’s not talking. As she languishes in juvenile detention, she struggles to un-learn everything she has been taught to believe, adjusting to a life behind bars and recounting the events that led up to her incarceration. But when an FBI detective approaches her about making a deal, Minnow sees she can have the freedom she always dreamed of—if she’s willing to part with the terrible secrets of her past.

The Sacred Lies of Minnow By is a hard-hitting and hopeful story about the dangers of blind faith—and the power of having faith in oneself.

to hold the bridgeTo Hold the Bridge by Garth Nix

Far to the north of the magical Old Kingdom, the Greenwash Bridge Company has been building a bridge for almost a hundred years. It is not an easy task, for many dangers threaten the bridge builders, from nomad raiders to Free Magic sorcerers. Despite the danger, Morghan wants nothing more than to join the Bridge Company as a cadet. But the company takes only the best, the most skillful Charter mages, and trains them hard, for the night might come when only a single young cadet must hold the bridge against many foes. Will Morghan be that cadet?

Also included in this remarkable collection are eighteen short stories that showcase Nix’s versatility as he adds a fantastical twist on an array of genres including science fiction, paranormal, realistic fiction, mystery, and adventure.

crash_eve silverCrash by Eve Silver

A thrilling action/suspense novel for fans of The Fifth Wave about contemporary teens pulled in and out of an alternate reality where battling aliens is more than a game—it’s life and death.

Miki’s life is falling apart around her. Her dad and best friend are lying in the hospital. The Game is glitching, making missions more frequent and more deadly. And someone close to her is waiting for the right moment to betray her.

Miki feels like she’s hanging on by a thread and the only thing keeping her tethered is Jackson’s hand in hers. Yet telling him how much she needs him, how much she loves him, feels like the biggest challenge of all. And if Miki really wants the missions to end for everyone, she’ll have to let go and be ready to fight when the walls between the Game and reality come crashing down. Because if there’s one thing she’s learned, it’s that she’s got a whole lot left to lose.

Crash is the pulse-pounding conclusion to the Game trilogy fans won’t want to miss.

delicate monstersDelicate Monsters by Stephanie Kuehn

From the Morris-Award winning author of Charm & Strange, comes a twisted and haunting tale about three teens uncovering dark secrets and even darker truths about themselves.

When nearly killing a classmate gets seventeen-year-old Sadie Su kicked out of her third boarding school in four years, she returns to her family’s California vineyard estate. Here, she’s meant to stay out of trouble. Here, she’s meant to do a lot of things. But it’s hard. She’s bored. And when Sadie’s bored, the only thing she likes is trouble.

Emerson Tate’s a poor boy living in a rich town, with his widowed mother and strange, haunted little brother. All he wants his senior year is to play basketball and make something happen with the girl of his dreams. That’s why Emerson’s not happy Sadie’s back. An old childhood friend, she knows his worst secrets. The things he longs to forget. The things she won’t ever let him.

Haunted is a good word for fifteen-year-old Miles Tate. Miles can see the future, after all. And he knows his vision of tragic violence at his school will come true, because his visions always do. That’s what he tells the new girl in town. The one who listens to him. The one who recognizes the darkness in his past.

But can Miles stop the violence? Or has the future already been written? Maybe tragedy is his destiny. Maybe it’s all of theirs.

tell the story to its endTell the Story to Its End by Simon P. Clark

In this beautiful, haunting debut, a boy is whisked away to the country in the wake of a scandal, and finds a captivating creature in the attic whose attention comes at a sinister price.

“Tell the story to its end,” says Eren with a grin.
His yellow eyes are glowing like embers in the night.
“When I reach the end,” I say, “what happens? You’ll have the whole story.”
“Hmm,” he says, looking at me and licking his lips with a dry, grey tongue. “What happens then? Why don’t we find out?”

People are keeping secrets from Oli. His mum has brought him to stay with his aunt and uncle in the countryside, but nobody will tell him why his dad where his father is. Why isn’t he with them? Has something happened? Oli has a hundred questions, and only an old, empty house in the middle of an ancient forest for answers. But then he finds a secret of his own: there is a creature that lives in the attic…

Eren is not human.
Eren is hungry for stories.
Eren has been waiting for him.

Sharing his stories with Eren, Oli starts to make sense of what’s happening downstairs with his family. But what if it’s a trap? Soon, Oli must make a choice: learn the truth—or abandon himself to Eren’s world, forever.

Reminiscent of SKELLIG by David Almond and A MONSTER CALLS by Patrick Ness, EREN is richly atmospheric, moving, unsettleing, and told in gorgeous prose. A modern classic in the making.

hello i love youHello, I Love You by Katie M. Stout

A teen escapes to a boarding school abroad and falls for a Korean pop star in this fun and fresh romantic novel in the vein of Anna and the French Kiss.

Grace Wilde is running—from the multi-million dollar mansion her record producer father bought, the famous older brother who’s topped the country music charts five years in a row, and the mother who blames her for her brother’s breakdown. Grace escapes to the farthest place from home she can think of, a boarding school in Korea, hoping for a fresh start.

She wants nothing to do with music, but when her roommate Sophie’s twin brother Jason turns out to be the newest Korean pop music superstar, Grace is thrust back into the world of fame. She can’t stand Jason, whose celebrity status is only outmatched by his oversized ego, but they form a tenuous alliance for the sake of her friendship with Sophie. As the months go by and Grace adjusts to her new life in Korea, even she can’t deny the sparks flying between her and the KPOP idol.

Soon, Grace realizes that her feelings for Jason threaten her promise to herself that she’ll leave behind the music industry that destroyed her family. But can Grace ignore her attraction to Jason and her undeniable pull of the music she was born to write? Sweet, fun, and romantic, this young adult novel explores what it means to experience first love and discover who you really are in the process.

even when you lie to meEven When You Lie to Me by Jessica Alcott

Charlie, a senior, isn’t looking forward to her last year of high school. Another year of living in the shadow of her best friend, Lila. Another year of hiding behind the covers of her favorite novels. Another year of navigating her tense relationship with her perfectionist mom.

But everything changes when she meets her new English teacher. Mr. Drummond is smart. Irreverent. Funny. Hot. Everyone loves him. And Charlie thinks he’s the only one who gets her.

She also thinks she might not be the only one with a crush.

In this stunning debut, Jessica Alcott explores relationships-and their boundaries-in a way that is both searingly honest and sympathetic.

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

 

Novel Novice Junior Picture Book Review: Little Bird’s Bad Word by Jacob Grant

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It’s something every parent dreads: when your kiddo learns a bad word from you, and proceeds to share that word with everyone they meet. That’s the charming premise behind Jacob Grant’s adorable new picture book, Little Bird’s Bad Word.

little bird's bad wordLittle Bird is excited to share a new word with his friends. But as he finds out, that word isn’t so nice.

Little Bird learned a new word! He loves it so much that he’s bursting to share it with all of his friends.

BLARK! BLARK! BLARK!

The only problem is, this isn’t a very nice word. Little Bird doesn’t realize it, but this word might even hurt someone’s feelings. What word will Little Bird learn to make things better?

The story is simple enough — but entirely relatable. Not only will parents get a good chuckle out of the situation, but it’s a good book to use to teach kids that sometimes grown-ups say bad words, and that those words can be hurtful. It’s a sweet way to get that message across before kids pick up those bad words … and a good way to open up a discussion about the topic in the event your kid does repeat some four-letter words in public.

And though Grant’s story is simple — it’s his charming illustrations that really bring the emotions to life, as you can see and feel the expressions on each character’s face as they react to Little Bird’s expletive.

Little Bird’s Bad Word is in stores July 21st.

May 2015 Contest Winners

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Here’s a look at the winners from our May contests!

The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler

To celebrate #MermaidMonday, we offered up one copy of The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler, plus a set of “Under the Sea” post earrings from Urban Outfitters, all courtesy of Simon & Schuster.

The winner is: Maria E. Martin

Strays by Jennifer Caloyeras

For this contest, we offered up one print copy of Strays to a U.S. winner, and an e-copy to any int’l winner.

The winner of a print copy is: Carl Scott

The winner of an e-copy is: Kira Budge

The President’s Shadow by Brad Meltzer

For this contest, we offered up a National Archives tumbler, plus copies of The Inner Circle, The Fifth Assassin, and The President’s Shadow.

The winner is: Maria Touet

The Descendants by Melissa de la Cruz

For this contest, we offered up an amazing prize pack featuring goodies from The Descendants, all about the children of classic Disney villains.

The winner is: Stacey Grantham

Book Review: Sweet by Emmy Laybourne

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A dream vacation turns hilariously — and then seriously — dangerous when a miraculous weight-loss supplement turns out to possess deadly side effects in Sweet by Emmy Laybourne.

sweet*People would kill to be thin.*

Solu’s luxurious celebrity-filled “Cruise to Lose” is billed as “the biggest cruise since the Titanic,” and if the new diet sweetener works as promised—dropping five percent of a person’s body weight in just days—it really could be the answer to the world’s obesity problem. But Laurel is starting to regret accepting her friend Viv’s invitation. She’s already completely embarrassed herself in front of celebrity host, Tom Forelli (otherwise known as the hottest guy ever!) and she’s too seasick to even try the sweetener. And that’s before Viv and all the other passengers start acting really strange.

*But will they die for it, too?*

Tom Forelli knows that he should be grateful for this job and the opportunity to shed his childhood “Baby Tom-Tom” image. His publicists have even set up a ‘romance’ with a sexy reality star. But as things on the ship start to get a bit wild, he finds himself drawn to a different girl. And when his celebrity hosting gig turns into an expose on the shocking side effects of Solu, it’s Laurel that he’s determined to save.

Emmy Laybourne, author of the Monument 14 trilogy, takes readers on a dream vacation that goes first comically, then tragically, then horrifyingly, wrong.

Laybourne’s story takes some interesting turns. It starts out as a fun cruise ship adventure, with two teen girls rubbing elbows with famous celebrities — and even a blossoming romance. But then, things take a scary, but humorous turn, when the weight-loss drug turns out to have some … interesting … side effects.

But what starts out comical soon turns dark and deadly, and Laybourne’s story turns from sweet and humorous, to intensely action-packed and horrifying.

Sweet is a captivating story from start to finish — but what is really engaging is the frightening realistic aspect of the book. The idea that some people — a lot of people, perhaps — will go to extreme lengths to be thin. And quietly protesting the desire to be skinny, skinnier, and skinniest, Laybourne gives both her main characters a decidedly healthy, body-positive attitude. (Thank goodness!)

Sweet is unlike anything on store shelves now: humor, horror, and social commentary rolled into one, with a dash of romance. Look for it in stores now.

Release Day Blitz: Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley

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Today, I am so excited to help celebrate the release of Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley. I’m just one of many bloggers participating in today’s release day blitz — thanks to Word Spelunking for organizing the fun.

circus mirandusBe sure to check out a very special letter from Cassie about the publication of her book — below — along with more details about Circus Mirandus, and your chance to win some fantastic goodies from Penguin Young Readers!

Dear Readers,

Ages ago I hung a poster in my room with the words “The Circus Opens Summer 2015” in bold letters across the top. At the time, it seemed that Summer 2015 would never come. Now, miraculously, June 2 is here, and Circus Mirandus is springing up in bookshops all over the country.

In the story, those called to Circus Mirandus feel a change in the wind. They hear music on the air, pipes and drums leading them toward magic and hope and heart’s desires. Eventually they find themselves before the gates, standing, as I am now, on the threshold of somewhere both wonderful and unknowable.

As people read the pages into which I’ve poured so much time and self, I wonder what they’ll think of the world I’ve created. I wonder if they will love it as much as I do. It’s an exciting moment, stepping through these gates into a place I’ve imagined but never seen.

Thank you so much for making this journey with me. Thank you for supporting the book. Thank you, most of all, for believing.

Cassie Beasley

About The Book:

Micah Tuttle believes in magic, even though his awful Great-Aunt Gertrudis doesn’t approve. Micah believes in the stories his dying Grandpa Ephraim tells him of the magical Circus Mirandus: the invisible tiger guarding the gates, the beautiful flying birdwoman, and the magician more powerful than any other—the Man Who Bends Light. Finally, Grandpa Ephraim offers proof. The Circus is real—and the Lightbender owes Ephraim a miracle. With his friend Jenny Mendoza in tow, Micah sets out to find the Circus and the man he believes will save his grandfather. The only problem is, the Lightbender doesn’t want to keep his promise. And now it’s up to Micah to get the miracle he came for. Readers will fall in love with CIRCUS MIRANDUS, which celebrates the power of seeing magic in the world.

Amazon | B&N | IndieBound | Goodreads

cassie beasleyAbout The Author:

CASSIE BEASLEY is from rural Georgia, where, when she’s not writing, she helps out on the family pecan farm. She earned her MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults at the Vermont College of Fine Arts. CIRCUS MIRANDUS is her first novel.

Twitter | Website | Goodreads

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There will be 5 winners, and the Giveaway will run from June 2nd until June 16th. Winners will receive:

  • Signed hardcover of CIRCUS MIRANDUS
  • Audio sampler
  • Animal crackers
  • Bookmarks (pack of 10)
  • Poster

Enter by filling out the Rafflecopter form HERE!

Advance Praise for Circus Mirandus:

“On one level, the book is a fantastical circus romp… On another, it’s both serious and thick with longing… A delicious confection and much more: it shows that the human heart is delicate, that it matters, and that it must be handled with care.
Kirkus Reviews, starred review

Circus Mirandus is not a simple story, but readers will be rewarded for delving into its intricacies. This gripping fantasy tale will have readers hooked from the opening scene to the breathtaking—and unexpected—conclusion.”
School Library Journal, starred review

“Beasley’s debut is a bit of its own three-ring circus, masterfully diverting readers’ attention among the pressing matter of Ephraim’s illness, the inventive descriptions of Circus Mirandus in Ephraim’s flashbacks and Micah’s visits, and the larger, more serious tragedy of those who refuse to believe…Readers will be left with…the hope…that those who still believe will always have magic in their lives.”                                                                                                      Publishers Weekly, starred review