Planet Earth is Blue: Sneak Peek + Blog Tour Contest

Today we’ve got a sneak peek at a beautiful new middle grade book, plus your chance to win a copy. Keep reading for all the details.

Planet Earth Excerpt

“Tender and illuminating. A beautiful debut.” –Rebecca Stead, Newbery Medal-winning author of When You Reach Me 

A heartrending and hopeful debut novel about a nonverbal girl and her passion for space exploration, for fans of See You in the CosmosMockingbird, and The Thing About Jellyfish.

Twelve-year-old Nova is eagerly awaiting the launch of the space shuttle Challenger–it’s the first time a teacher is going into space, and kids across America will watch the event on live TV in their classrooms. Nova and her big sister, Bridget, share a love of astronomy and the space program. They planned to watch the launch together. But Bridget has disappeared, and Nova is in a new foster home.

While foster families and teachers dismiss Nova as severely autistic and nonverbal, Bridget understands how intelligent and special Nova is, and all that she can’t express. As the liftoff draws closer, Nova’s new foster family and teachers begin to see her potential, and for the first time, she is making friends without Bridget. But every day, she’s counting down to the launch, and to the moment when she’ll see Bridget again. Because Bridget said, “No matter what, I’ll be there. I promise.”

Available Now: GoodreadsAmazonKindleB&NiBooksKoboTBD

Nicole Panteleakos is an author, playwright, thespian, and Ravenclaw. Her debut novel PLANET EARTH IS BLUE (Wendy Lamb Books, Penguin Random House) will be out in bookstores nationwide on May 14, 2019, with a second middle grade novel to follow in 2020. She is represented by agent Katie Grimm at Don Congdon Associates and belongs to the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators: Metro NY. She is also a Lifetime Member of the VFW Auxiliary and National Home for Children, a godmother of three, and a regular contributor to Nanny Magazine. When not writing, she can usually be found reading fanfiction, playing board games, doing community theatre, or adding to her Alice in Wonderland coffee cup collection.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Goodreads

3 winners will receive a finished copy of PLANET EARTH IS BLUE, US Only.

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Sara | Novel Novice

The Rogue of Fifth Avenue by Joanna Shupe

It’s time for another rapid-fire review from my sister-in-law for a new, upcoming historical romance. Today, we’re talking about The Rogue of Fifth Avenue by Joanna Shupe.

Here’s what Heather had to say about it:

If you can’t know who you’re sleeping next to, how could you possibly know the man your father has arranged for you to marry since birth? An overly handsome rogue with a past and a mind dark enough to put color in your cheeks is a much better time.

This delightful romantic romp comes out May28th! Here is the official synopsis:

Silver-tongued lawyer.
Keeper of secrets.
Breaker of hearts.

He can solve any problem…

In serving the wealthy power brokers of New York society, Frank Tripp has finally gained the respectability and security his own upbringing lacked. There’s no issue he cannot fix…except for one: the beautiful and reckless daughter of an important client who doesn’t seem to understand the word danger.

She’s not looking for a hero…

Excitement lay just below Forty-Second Street and Mamie Greene is determined to explore all of it—while playing a modern-day Robin Hood along the way. What she doesn’t need is her father’s lawyer dogging her every step and threatening her efforts to help struggling families in the tenements.

However, she doesn’t count on Frank’s persistence…or the sparks that fly between them. When fate upends all her plans, Mamie must decide if she’s willing to risk it all on a rogue…


Sara | Novel Novice

Cover Reveal: Coldhearted Boss by R.S. Grey

2019 is the year I finally started reading R.S. Grey’s absolutely charming romantic comedies (thanks to the recommendation of Kelly at Wild & Wonderful Reads) — and I’ve been binging her backlist ever since January, while eagerly anticipating each new release.

Her latest, Coldhearted Boss, comes out June 6th, and I’m excited to help the cover reveal & full synopsis today:

I’m desperate and destitute when Lockwood Construction rolls into my small town with an offer too good to pass up: high wages to any able-bodied man willing to join their crew.

Say no more. I throw on baggy clothes, tuck my long hair under a baseball hat, and apply for a job. Unfortunately, my half-baked idea of disguising myself as a guy is flawed from the beginning. As Shakira says, these hips don’t lie.

Still, I like to think I might have pulled the whole thing off save for one thing:

I know my boss.

Last month, we met at a bar, and after a fiery first encounter, it seems we’re destined to be sworn enemies.

Ethan Stone is ruthless and arrogant, a man I never would have crossed had I known how much he likes to toy with his prey.

He should just fire me and be done with it. Instead, he decides to make me his personal slave. Oh right, I think they’re calling it personal “assistant” these days.

It’s torture, all of it—his bad attitude, his ruggedly chiseled face, his desire to grind me into dust.

Every one of our friction-filled battles burns hotter than the last.

A girl can only hold out for so long. Soon, I’m bound to go up in flames.

My objective? Survive the heat long enough to send home a paycheck.

My real objective? Stop having X-rated fantasies about my coldhearted boss.

And check out the full paperback cover:

Gorgeous, no? I’m super excited for this fun, enemies-to-lovers story. You can pre-order it for only $0.99 starting June 3rd. Be sure to follow R.S. Grey’s Facebook page for the link when it goes live!

R.S. Grey is the USA Today bestselling author of thirteen novels, including THE FOXE & THE HOUND. She lives in Texas with her husband and two dogs, and can be found reading, binge-watching reality TV, or practicing yoga! Visit her at


Newsletter | RS Grey’s Little Reds Facebook Group | Website | Instagram | Facebook | Twitter

Sara | Novel Novice

We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal: In Stores Now!

The day has finally arrived!!! We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal is in stores TODAY & I couldn’t be more excited about it!

I was lucky enough to read an early copy of this book, and it was actually the FIRST book I read in 2019, and I’ve been buzzing about it ever since. So I’m particularly excited that everyone can read it now & we can all fangirl together!

In case you’ve been living under a rock (or you aren’t a regular reader of my blog), here’s what We Hunt the Flame is all about:

People lived because she killed.
People died because he lived.

Zafira is the Hunter, disguising herself as a man when she braves the cursed forest of the Arz to feed her people. Nasir is the Prince of Death, assassinating those foolish enough to defy his autocratic father, the king. If Zafira was exposed as a girl, all of her achievements would be rejected; if Nasir displayed his compassion, his father would punish him in the most brutal of ways.

Both are legends in the kingdom of Arawiya—but neither wants to be.

War is brewing, and the Arz sweeps closer with each passing day, engulfing the land in shadow. When Zafira embarks on a quest to uncover a lost artifact that can restore magic to her suffering world and stop the Arz, Nasir is sent by the king on a similar mission: retrieve the artifact and kill the Hunter. But an ancient evil stirs as their journey unfolds—and the prize they seek may pose a threat greater than either can imagine.

Set in a richly detailed world inspired by ancient Arabia, We Hunt the Flame is a gripping debut of discovery, conquering fear, and taking identity into your own hands.

Website | Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | IndieBound

And as I mentioned, I’ve been buzzing about this book for months now. Here’s a peek back at everything I’ve featured here on the blog:

Can’t get enough? Hafsah herself has created some gorgeous WHTF merch for her small business Icey Designs:

You can grab the Sands of Ariwaya candle and the WHTF enamel pin now — and use NOVEL10 to save 10% on your order when you check-out!

Hafsah Faizal is an American Muslim and brand designer. She’s the founder of IceyDesigns, where she creates websites for authors and beauteous goodies for everyone else. When she’s not writing, she can be found dreaming up her next design, deciding between Assassin’s Creed and Skyrim, or traversing the world. Born in Florida and raised in California, she now resides in Texas with her family and a library of books waiting to be devoured. WE HUNT THE FLAME is her first novel.

Website | Twitter | Instagram

Sara | Novel Novice

Kirstin Cronn-Mills: “Tobin & Her People”

Today, author Kirstin Cronn-Mills, the author of Wreck, stops by with a guest post about naming her characters. Read on for a great post & to learn more about Wreck.

When I write a book, I start with a character and a thing to do, and that character needs a name as soon as possible. Sometimes the names are there right away. Frankie is Frankie (Original Fakebecause I wanted to write about a kid who was related to Frank N. Furter, the character from Rocky Horror Picture Show(odd choice, sure, but it worked well). Gabe is Gabriel (Beautiful Musicbecause I was visited by the Archangel Gabriel (I knowso weird!). Gabe’s dead name is Elizabeth because Gabriel was the angel who came to Elizabeth, in the Bible, to tell her she was pregnant in her old age. Frankie and Gabe were easy.

(Random side note: nobody ever notices Gabe’s parents are named Mary and Joseph, since the angel Gabriel was the one to tell Mary about Jesus. It would make me really happy to have someone email me and say “Hey! Did you name Gabe’s parents Mary and Joseph for Biblical reasons?” LOL.)

Tobin was nameless for a few weeks, which kind of freaked me out. She became Tobin when I was watching the 2015 US women’s national soccer team play the final game of the World Cup. All of a sudden, the announcer said, “Tobin Heath” (she’s a midfielder), and I thought “Yup, Tobin it is.” My girl’s full nameis Tobin Mariette Oliver—her other two names have significance as well, but I won’t spoil it here.

Tobin, of course, has to have people in her world. Her dad is Stephen Tobin Oliver, and I don’t know why he’s Steve, he just is. Her aunt Allison, Steve’s sister, is Allison for the same reason—it just sounded right, as Steve did. Gracie, her BFF (mostly) was named Gracie as a thank you to my niece, Lexi, who helped me understand paramedics (Lexi’s in a scene, too!). Gracie is her beloved puppy. Sid is just Sid—same as Allison and Steve, just a name that fit him.

Ike is Ike because he’s always been Ike. His full name is Isaac Richard NavarroRichard is after his dad, Rich, Steve’s ambulance rig partner who appears in various places in the bookNavarro is a last name loaned to me from a kind former student. Ike is modeled a bit after my high school boyfriend and another former student—big, Mexican American, and sweet as the day is long. 

Paul is Paul because one of the first people to help me understand the loss and devastation of ALS was a friend named Paul. When I started the book in the summer of 2015, Paul’s dad Bob had just been diagnosed with ALS a few months prior. Bob passed away in February 2019, so he bested the disease for about four years—which is a really long time, actually. Paul was kind enough to share Bob’s struggles, and his own sadness about his dad’s diagnosis, so Tobin’s uncle Paul is a tribute to the real Paul. It’s hard to talk about losing your dad in this way, and he was the first person to help me see into Tobin’s heart.

There are three other women in the book that are named: Elena, Ike’s mom and Rich’s spouse; Meredith, Tobin’s mom; and Mariette, the woman who gave Tobin her middle name. Mariettehad to be a French name, for reasons that will make sense when you read the novel.

Maybe it’s this way for other writers, too, I don’t knowsometimes book character names are significant, and their names have backstories, and sometimes they don’t. The end result is the same each time, however—these imaginary people feel as real to me as the people I see every day.

Sometimes loss has its own timetable.

Set on the shores of Lake Superior, Wreck follows high school junior Tobin Oliver as she navigates her father’s diagnosis of ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease).

Steve’s life as a paramedic and a runner comes to an abrupt halt just as Tobin is preparing her application for a scholarship to art school. With the help of Steve’s personal care assistant (and family friend) Ike, Tobin attends to both her photography and to Steve as his brain unexpectedly fails right along with his body.

Tobin struggles to find a “normal” life, especially as Steve makes choices about how his own will end, and though she fights hard, Tobin comes to realize that respecting her father’s decision is the ultimate act of love.

Available Now: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | IndieBound

Kirstin Cronn-Mills is a writer and teacher. Her novel Beautiful Music for Ugly Children won the 2014 Stonewall Award from the American Library Association, and several of her books have received both state and national recognition. She lives with her family and her goofball animals in southern Minnesota, which is entirely too far from Lake Superior. Her website is:

Sara | Novel Novice