Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Flash Giveaway: AGAIN and SNEAKING CANDY by Lisa Burstein


What's Up for Grabs:

Lisa Burstein write stories that I love.
 You can read my reviews to find out why.

I want more readers to know about her books, so I'm giving away some copies. 
Enter for a chance to win a kindle e-copy. 

Giveaway Details 
Prize: choice of e-book of Sneaking Candy or Again by Lisa Burstein
Must be 18 years or older
Must be able to accept e-book from Amazon (US)
Enter via Rafflecopter below 
 3 winners will be selected


Don't want to wait to see if you win?
You can purchase these now for only $0.99!!


Waiting on Wednesday: EMANCIPATED by M.G. Reyes

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection is:


by M. G. Reyes
Publication Date: May 26, 2015
Published by Katherine Tegen Books
Pages: 400
Add to Goodreads

(from Goodreads)
The good girl, the bad boy, the diva, the hustler, the rock star, and the nerd. Six teens legally liberated from parental control for six different reasons, all with one thing in common: something to hide.

Now they’re sharing a house in Venice Beach, acting like a family, and living their lies. No parents. No limits. No alibis. One witnessed a crime, another might be a murderer—and one’s been spying on them all.

As they cling to a fantasy of freedom and slowly let down their guards, the past creeps up on them. And when one of them gets arrested, everyone’s carefully constructed facade comes crumbling down.

In this steamy, drama-filled series, relationships are tested and secrets revealed as lies threaten to destroy their perfect setup.

Why I'm Waiting
  •  Set in Venice Beach
  • Idea of teens living on their own - each for different reasons and each with their own story to tell
  • Story is told in multiple points of view
  • It's contemporary YA
  • And I like the cover
What are you waiting on this week?

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday: JOYRIDE by Anna Banks

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection is:

by Anna Banks
Publication Date: June 2, 2015
Published by Feiwel and Friends
Pages: 288
Add to Goodreads

A popular guy and a shy girl with a secret become unlikely accomplices for midnight pranking, and are soon in over their heads—with the law and with each other—in this sparkling standalone from NYT-bestselling author Anna Banks.

It’s been years since Carly Vega’s parents were deported. She lives with her brother, studies hard, and works at a convenience store to contribute to getting her parents back from Mexico.

Arden Moss used to be the star quarterback at school. He dated popular blondes and had fun with his older sister, Amber. But now Amber’s dead, and Arden blames his father, the town sheriff who wouldn’t acknowledge Amber's mental illness. Arden refuses to fulfill whatever his conservative father expects.

All Carly wants is to stay under the radar and do what her family expects. All Arden wants is to NOT do what his family expects. When their paths cross, they each realize they’ve been living according to others. Carly and Arden’s journey toward their true hearts—and one another—is funny, romantic, and sometimes harsh.

  • Anna Banks is a new to me author. A friend recommended her previous books to me and this one sounds like one that I would love to read.
  • These are characters that I want to get to know. On the surface, they seem completely different, but digging deeper, they probably have more in common than they think.
  • I want to know about the midnight pranks that got them in trouble - a bet they had some fun!
  • It's a stand-alone and I'm plan to read more of those. 

What are you waiting on this week?

Friday, November 14, 2014

#MELT Blog Tour: The Books along my Literary Path by Selene Castrovilla

I received an early review copy of MELT back in June and shared my thoughts about this powerful novel.
"I loved the stylistic writing used to distinguish Joey and Dorothy's perspectives . . .  The styles shift and change as their perspectives and situations change and this was completely organic to the story."

"Melt is a moving book that I couldn't stop reading until the very end. And when I did finish those last pages, all I could think was - Wow, that happened."
Today I am hosting Selene Castrovilla as part of the MELT blog tour. I've asked her to share the books that made her fall in love with reading.

Welcome Selene!!!

The Books along my Literary Path
by Selene Castrovilla

I’ve always been drawn to darkness in literature.

When I was in grade school my aunt shared Agatha Christie mysteries with me. So much blood! I loved the psychology behind the murders. What would drive someone to take another life? I always found the crime-solving process to be revealing about humanity, and Christie was a master of this genre. 

Many years later, when I brainstormed ideas to write Saved by the Music, I tried to make it a mystery. It was the obvious go-to for me, especially because my relationship with my aunt was a major part of the story, and she and I shared so many moments discussing mysteries.  But I realized it was the darkness of humanity and the tension of life that I wanted to explore, from a coming of age perspective. An actual mystery was beside the point to me. (And out of my element! I was literally clueless.)

On my own, I also read The Hardy Boys mysteries. Definitely not as deep and dark as Agatha Christie. They were my “junk food” reading. I think I learned about story arc from these, because they were pretty simplistic to follow – and yet they did the job. They were no great works of literature, but like M&M’s I couldn’t read just one.  I read them all – and even searched for the older ones which were no longer available in bookstores. I have a bunch of them still - saved from Hurricane Sandy because I carried the truck containing them to my second floor.

Perhaps The Hardy Boys used up all my tolerance for series – or perhaps I learned that a formula only goes so far, generally stopping short at literature. I don’t care for series – with a few exceptions. Harry Potter was not a formula – it was a story that came to J.K. Rowling in its entirety. Though I don’t care for fantasy, I still read three and a half of the Potter books before I stopped (the most fantasy I’ve ever read.) I admire these books, their characterization and their story arcs (as well as the overall arc) greatly. The other series I love is A Series of Unfortunate Events. Hysterical!

I enjoyed the passion of Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights, even though I found the plot a bit convoluted. I think I learned about tortured love affairs through Cathy and Heathcliff.

“It would degrade me to marry Heathcliff now; so he shall never know how I love him: and that, not because he's handsome, Nelly, but because he's more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same; and Linton's is as different as a moonbeam from lightning, or frost from fire.”
― Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights

And Heathcliff himself is fascinating. It’s hard to understand how someone so filled with love and devotion could also be so atrocious. Maybe Heathcliff’s love for Cathy is so intense that it takes every ounce of the humanity inside him¸ leaving none for anyone else – even Cathy’s own daughter, and his own son. 

But the question I pondered above all was whether Heathcliff is pure evil. I think not. He’s pretty close, though.

        Is there such a thing as “pure evil?” Are “bad” people “born” or are they “raised?”

The thing about literature is that is raises questions, and it expects the reader to come up with his own answers. I think readers aren’t doing their part as much, and that makes me so sad. It’s the deterioration of society, because books are what make us think!

I had a writing teacher at The New School who told us, “TV says ‘Go to sleep! Books say, ‘Wake up!’” So true. 

Incidentally, his name is Stephen Wright, and he’s a brilliant novelist whose descriptions are stunning. 

A book that brought me to new emotional depths is As I Lay Dying. Told in multiple points of view, it describes a woman dying, and the subsequent disposal of her body.

One of her sons is particularly distraught as he listens to his brother sawing and sawing beneath his mother’s window – building her coffin while she’s still alive. I can still feel his anguish, so many years after I read the book. 

(I apologize – I couldn’t find that quote on-line to share with you. Thinking of it makes me want to read As I Lay Dying again!)

Here’s a different quote I found, which I think is quite provocative:

“In a strange room you must empty yourself for sleep. And before you are emptied for sleep, what are you. And when you are emptied for sleep, what are you. And when you are emptied for sleep you are not. And when you are filled with sleep, you never were. I don't know what I am. I don't know if I am or not.”
― William Faulkner, As I Lay Dying

This book taught me about raw, base humanity. And it opened my eyes to the possibilities of writing in more than one voice.

And finally, I must include my god: William Shakespeare. In eleventh grade Mrs. Israel, my English teacher, assigned us to memorize this soliloquy from Macbeth:

“Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
 Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
 To the last syllable of recorded time;
 And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
 The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
 Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
 That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
 And then is heard no more. It is a tale
 Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury
 Signifying nothing.”

I could go on and on about what this passage – and the entire play – means to me. Suffice to say that Shakespeare set the stage for studying humanity and emotions – and the rest of us are following his lead as best as we can. 

If you are only going to read one more book ever – read Macbeth. It shaped me as a reader and as a writer, and affected me forever.

I recommend all things Shakespeare! Twice, I’ve made pilgrimages to Stratford-upon-Avon, his birthplace, to pay my respects. (Thanks to my kids, who accompanied me without complaint!)

Thanks for having me on your blog, Joli!! I hope this has been of interest to you and your writers – and that it has illuminated something of the literary path that led me to write Melt.

Publication Date: November 6, 2014
Published by Last Syllable Books
Pages: 328

Selene Castrovilla 

About Selene Castrovilla  Website | Facebook | Twitter | Tumblr | Goodreads
Selene Castrovilla is an award-winning teen and children’s author who believes that through all trends, humanity remains at the core of literature. She is the author of Saved By the Music and The Girl Next Door, teen novels originally published by WestSide Books and now available digitally through ASD Publishing. Her third children’s book with Calkins Creek Books, Revolutionary Friends, was released in April. She is also a contributing author to UncommonYA. Selene holds an MFA in creative writing from New School University and a BA in English from New York University. She lives on Long Island with her two sons. Visit her website for book excerpts and more information!


Thursday, November 13, 2014

True Stories Blog Tour: Daisy to the Rescue by Jeff Campbell

Daisy to the Rescue: True Stories of Daring Dogs, Paramedic Parrots, and Other Animal Heroes
by Jeff Campbell
Publication Date: October 7, 2014
Published by ZestBooks
Pages: 336
Source: Publisher
Purchase Amazon / B&N / Indiebound 

from Goodreads

Who rescued who? This popular animal-shelter bumper sticker captures an enduring emotional truth: With their love and companionship, animals of all species save our lives every day. But sometimes, to our utter amazement and everlasting gratitude, animals literally save our lives, and this heartwarming book collects over 50 real-life stories of animals rescuing people, in which the actions of animals have meant the difference between life and death. Today, scientists vigorously debate questions regarding the sentience, intelligence, and emotions of animals. In particular, they want to know whether animals share with humans the highest emotions of empathy, compassion, and altruism. This book also poses these questions for readers to consider, and using current research on animal minds and emotions, it examines these extreme life-saving situations for possible evidence. Where appropriate, skepticism and doubt surrounding particular stories is included, but gathered together, these anecdotes make a compelling case for the presence of altruism in animals. Thus, this book provides dramatic, thrilling, and moving stories that convey a hopeful message about our world. But these stories also provide startling evidence of the mental and emotional capacities of animals, those being we share the world with.

My Thoughts

I wanted to read this book because I thought it would be a great book to read with my animal loving niece. We haven't had a chance to read it together yet, but I know that she will love the stories of how the animals were heroes and the connections between humans and animals.

The introduction raises the questions that we all may have, can animals really save lives? Are their actions intentional, instinctual, or coincidental? Are there other explanations for their behavior? How is this all possible?

I liked how the book is set up - stories of domestic animals, trained animals, animals in the wild, and animal legend and folktales. It is possible to read these stories in sequence or in random order. I decided to pick and choose which stories I wanted to read. Stories of a variety of animals are shared from all over the world. Some stories are touching, inspiring, and pulled at my hearts-strings with the lengths that the animals went to in an effort to protect humans and keep them safe.

Daisy to the Rescue is a great book for animal lovers young and old. It is easy to read, educational, and the illustrations throughout the book are wonderful. It is a perfect addition to any personal library collection.

Disclaimer:  I received this promotional finished copy from Zest Books  in exchange for my honest review.  I was not compensated in any way other than the book provided. Thoughts and opinions are my own.
hosted by Zest Books

 As part of the True Stories Blog Tour, I am giving away a copy of Daisy to the Rescue.

Giveaway Details
Prize donated by Zest Books
Must be 16 years or Older to enter
U.S. addresses only
To enter, fill out Rafflecopter below
Giveaway ends November 22, 2014 
If I cannot verify an entry, that entry will not count.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Spotlight on POPULATTI by Jackie Nastri Bardenwerper

by Jackie Nastri Bardenwerper
Publication Date: October 7, 2014
Published by Taotug Press
Pages: 340


 Getting in is hard. Staying in is harder...

Joining social network let sixteen-year-old Livi Stanley trade her awkward middle school past for the social life of her dreams. Because Populatti isn't just a social network. It's a club, providing access to friends. Parties. And Livi's crush, star baseball player Brandon Dash. Yet lately, online rumors have been threatening Livi's place in the group. And not even her friends are doing much to stop them. Leaving Livi to prove them wrong, and fast.

Before her life as a popster is over.

 Q & A with Jackie Nastri Bardenwerper

Where did you get the idea for Populatti?
This story came to me when I learned about the dating website back in 2010. It was about how you had to be voted into the site and could be voted out if your looks changed and the community decided you were no longer beautiful. It sounded terrible – and very much like something high school kids might do! So I adapted the concept to work in a high school setting. I also really wanted to take a look at both the overt and more subtle types of bullying that often occur in high school settings. We hear a lot about the more overt incidents, but a lot of bullying really is more subtle and can often come from kids’ so-called friends!

How did you come up with the name for the book and the social media site,
I tried to put myself in my characters’ shoes and think about what they would want in a name if
they were creating a site. I figured they’d want something that spoke to the site’s exclusiveness,
sounded unique and had a URL that was actually available. After some serious brainstorm sessions
with friends and family, Populatti was the clear winner.

The main character Livi is easy to root for. How did you shape her character?
Shaping Livi into a likeable character was probably one of my biggest challenges throughout the writing and revising process. Because while has many elements that are cruel, I
wanted it to be clear that Livi herself was not a mean person. I tried to accomplish this by showing that Livi was a well-rounded girl who cared about academics, her family and her friends, yet struggled with insecurities stemming from bullying she experienced in middle school which she attended in another town.

I found Livi’s insecurities to be a very important part of her character as they helped explained
why she cared so deeply about Populatti, while also demonstrating the subjectivity – and irrationality – of popularity. Nothing about Livi changed when she moved towns except for the people, yet in one town she was popular and in the other she was bullied. I found this was an important point to make, and one Livi herself didn’t really understand until the conclusion of the book.

Why after a career in public relations did you decide to start writing young adult fiction?
I actually first started writing young adult fiction during my free time in college and spent many
years after writing manuscripts and improving my craft. Both On the Line and Populatti were written at night while I was working full time. After the birth of my daughter, I knew there were not enough hours in the day to work full time, write at night, and be the type of mom I wanted to be. So I had to make a choice – continue in marketing and put my writing on hold, or take a risk and keep writing. I decided it was finally time to pursue my passion, and every day I wake up feeling incredibly lucky that I get to be with my daughter while pursuing my dream.

Has your daughter influenced your writing?
Definitely! While I have always shied away from profanity and explicit material in my writing,
having my daughter has really solidified my stance on this issue. Now whenever I sit down to write, I
think about whether it’s something I’d want her to read in 10 or 15 years. And if the thought of her
reading makes me feel a little queasy, then I know I need to reconsider. Because while I want my
stories to be realistic and truthful, I also want them to help girls feel good about being themselves.
Finding the right balance can be challenging, but I believe it is important, especially as I hear from
more preteen and tween readers.

What advice do you have for parents (or their teens) in making social media decisions?
  • Accept that social media is here to stay, but recognize that it shouldn’t be all-consuming.
  • Create a social media policy together with your teen. Whether it’s limiting time spent on sites, agreeing to parent-monitored profile pages, or avoiding certain sites altogether, make sure you have their buy-in.
  • Begin the conversation way before the teen years. Make sure kids know about the permanence of what is posted online, and how online anonymity can make bullying much easier and more painful. Teach kids that you are there to help, not judge, if a difficult situation ever arises.
  • Work to create an open dialogue with your teen about all facets of their lives, not just their online profiles.
  • Encourage participation in real-world activities such as sports, clubs and other extracurriculars that can help teens build confidence and relationships based on more than just social status.
  • Let your teen know you are their biggest cheerleader, and you will always support them no matter what.
Are you planning to write more young adult fiction?
Yes! I am currently hard at work on a new novel about a high school sailing champion living in
another small beach community in Connecticut. Right now I am researching some local legends and
working on tying them into the plot. I am really excited about this new novel and can’t wait to share
more details soon!

Find Jackie Online

Win a Digital Copy of Populatti and a $10 Amazon gift card


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