Friday, August 28, 2015

New Release and Giveaway: RESTLESS WATERS by Jessica Park





Restless Waters
Left Drowning #2
by Jessica Park
Published: August 26, 2015

From New York Times bestselling author Jessica Park comes the long-anticipated sequel to Left Drowning. 

A storm is coming, and with storms come restless waters. 

Pulled from the depths of catastrophe and depression, Blythe McGuire has learned to escape from her past while embracing the future. A future now entwined with the Shepherd siblings. 

With Chris, she shares a staggering romance that kicks heartbreak’s ass. 

With Sabin, she shares an intense friendship, one that’s becoming more complicated than either had expected. A friendship now being put to the test because Sabin’s brutal past still haunts him. Because trauma is the gift that keeps on giving without mercy. 

Now Sabin is the one left drowning and struggling to breathe, and his turmoil threatens to send all three into dark currents they cannot escape. Even after going through her own hell, saving Sabin will take much more than Blythe had anticipated. Their connection and their love could help, but getting him to reach for her hand could be Blythe’s biggest challenge ever. 

(Music by Troy)

I'm so happy for Jessica and want to celebrate

$5.00 Amazon Giftcard 
(You can get Restless Waters, Left Drowning, or any book of your choice, but I hope that it is one of Jessica's books)

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Monday, August 24, 2015

YOUR VOICE IS ALL I HEAR by Leah Scheier - Excerpt and Giveaway

Your Voice is All I Hear
by Leah Scheier
Publication Date: September 1st, 2015
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
ISBN: 9781492614418
Tradepaper/$9.99 ● Ages 14+

“I was the one he trusted. I was the one he loved, the only one who believed him, even when his own mother had locked him up and thrown away the key. And now, I was going to pass down the white tiled hallway, knock on his doctor’s office door, slam his secret notebook on her desk and make her read it, make her understand what he was hiding, make her see what only I had seen.”

April won't let Jonah go without a fight. He’s her boyfriend—her best friend. She’ll do anything to keep him safe. But as Jonah slips into a dark depression, trying to escape the traumatic past that haunts him, April is torn. To protect Jonah, she risks losing everything: family, friends, an opportunity to attend a prestigious music school. How much must she sacrifice? And will her voice be loud enough to drown out the dissenters—and the ones in his head?

Leah Scheier works as a pediatrician and pens stories of romance and adventure. Her first novel, Secret Letters, was published in June 2012 (Hyperion/Disney) and received a starred review from School Library Journal, as well as glowing reviews from Booklist, VOYA, and Publishers Weekly. She lives in Maryland. Learn more at

An Excerpt:

I KNOW MY WAY AROUND THE MENTAL HOSPITAL. I doubt most of the girls in my neighborhood could claim that, even though many of us lived just a few minutes from its leafy, sterile grounds, and some of us picnicked on the lawn outside its gate during summer break.
By the end of tenth grade, I knew Shady Grove Hospital better than I knew my school. I knew that the security guard’s name was Carla and that she’d worked at her depressing post since the place was built. I knew the quiet path behind the topiary garden where I could wait until visiting hours began and she let me in. I’d memorized the shape and color of his shadow behind the dark-red curtains, and I knew where I had to stand so he could see me from his eleventh-story window. From that distant spot, I could even guess how well the medicine was working for him that day; I could tell what kind of visit it would be by counting the paces of his shadow.
I had the place mapped out, his daily routine memorized, the doctors’ names and call schedule, every pointless detail carefully recorded in his special little book. He’d given me those notes as if they were classified secrets, the papers wrapped in strips of hospital linen sealed together with bubble gum, long wads of partially chewed Wrigley’s tied into a crisscrossed mesh. That tat- tered spiral notebook was crammed with data he’d gathered over months: patients’ names and histories, nurses’ phone numbers, the cleaning crew’s shift hours. I would never know how these bits of information came together for him or how he even found them out. But somewhere in these random nothings, he’d put together a story for me, a clue of how to get to him, a coded message that, for some reason, he believed only I could read. I was the one he trusted, the only one who had not betrayed him. I was the one he loved, the only one who believed him, even when his own mother had locked him up and thrown away the key.
And now, nearly three months after they’d taken him away, I was finally ready. I was going to march up to the security window, look into the tired guard’s blurry eyes, state my name and the name of the patient I was visiting, and hear the buzz and click of the locked gate sliding open. I was going to walk down the white- tiled hallway, knock on his doctor’s office door, slam his secret notebook on her desk, and make her read it, make her understand what he was hiding, make her see what only I had seen.
I was finally going to do it. I was going to betray him.


Friday, August 21, 2015

Cover Reveal: SECRETS IN THE GRAVE by Karen Ann Hopkins

It's the Cover Reveal Day for the new book in the SERENITY'S PLAIN SECRETS Series
by Karen Ann Hopkins

Book 3: The Serenity's Plain Secrets
By Karen Ann Hopkins

Available September 2015

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Some Amish communities aren’t so cozy.

Just when Sheriff Serenity Adams thinks life is getting back to normal, the death of a young, pregnant Amish woman rocks the community. Is it circumstance…or murder? It’s up to Serenity and her ex-Amish boyfriend, Daniel Bachman, to discover the truth about the new shaman-type medicine man who’s brought his dark secrets to Blood Rock.

But Serenity has secrets of her own, and if she and Daniel don’t work it out, the reappearance of a woman from his past could threaten to ruin their relationship.

The deeper Serenity delves into the magical world of Amish herbal medicine, the phenomenon of laying of the hands and other cultural healing oddities, the more she wonders if miracles are real. What she witnesses with her own eyes may be too fantastical for her to believe.

In this riveting third installment of Serenity’s Plain Secrets, beliefs are challenged, a way of life is questioned and family skeletons are unearthed, leaving no one untouched.

Other Books in the SERENITY'S PLAIN SECRETS Series

Book 1: My Review
Book 2: My Review

Enter for a chance to win a Signed set of all 3 Books in the Series:

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Review: PLACID GIRL by Brenna Ehrlich

by Brenna Ehrlich
Publication Date: August 25, 2015
Published by All Ages Press
Pages: 206
Source: Publisher via Netgalley
Purchase Amazon

from Goodreads

Punk was created for the malcontents, something that loner and aspiring drummer Hallie understands all too well. Trapped in a boring suburban life – dysfunctional parents included! – Hallie drowns her angst in the angry songs of Haze, a masked musician who has not been heard from in five years. So naturally she’s surprised – and more than a little skeptical – when someone who seems to be Haze starts flirting with her via her favorite photo-sharing app. Is he who he says he is? What does he want from her? The questions only multiply when Hallie — along with bandmate Sarah and aspiring music journalist Steve — roadtrip to Haze's comeback gig to unmask the reclusive musician once and for all.

My Thoughts

I first heard about Placid Girl when I received a publicist review request. Initially I didn't accept the request even though it sounded like kind of book I would LOVE. I'd committed to too many reviews lately and I'd read a lot of books about musicians. (I have a weakness for them.) It was after I read some high praise blurbs and a few more promotional posts for Placid Girl, and that oh so tempting Read Now option on Netgalley that I decided to read it. I figured that I'd get to it when I got to it. Well, I got to it sooner that I expected and realized that I shouldn't have been so blasé about it, because it is a really compelling story. It was humorous and mysterious, and it taps into the complexities of social media and celebrity worship.

This book had me from the opening scene where Hallie is in a state of terror from stage fright. While the story and the characters hooked me, no doubt about it, I have to admit, it took a while to get used to the writing style. I can't pinpoint why it seemed different, but I would notice that I'd reread a few passages over to grasp the rhythm and get into the flow. Eventually I became used to the style and wasn't distracted from the story. 

I loved reading about Hallie and discovering the different facets of her personality. She's a badass drummer with enviable talent, who loves her place behind the drum kit, but not necessarily on stage. She is confident when playing the drums, but she has many doubts in most all other aspects of her life. She's not always the best of a friend to Sarah, and you don't immediately know why. They have some stuff that they need to work out, but her current stance is to avoid conflict, which, of course, builds tension between them and puts even more strain on their friendship. 

What I loved:

  • How the story portrays the connection of music and emotion, and sometimes, obsession 
  • The song lyrics at the beginning of each chapter
  • Hallie's explanation of a crush and how, for her, it's more about admiration and wanting to be the person than actually being with the person 
  • A perfectly timed pun
  • Hallie as she begins to empathize with other people (through her new friendship with Steve). Her obsession with Haze makes her very narrow-sighted creating a tunnel vision and she doesn't always realized what is going on around her. More often though, she obsesses over Haze so she doesn't have to deal with the heavy stuff going on in her life.
  • Creepy moments that kept me guessing - there are too many of these (not really, I loved them)

Some favorite quotes:

Early on in the book:
" . . . every time I sit down to write lyrics I feel like a liar. Like I don't know anything about living at all so who the hell am I to make some kind of grand statement about it that people can also dance to?"

Near the end of the book:
"We're too young to look this sad. We should try to do all this living five years from now when we're ready."

The second quote is very telling. The characters go through a lot and in just a few days she's changed and feel like she's aged. (She got the experience, "living", she was looking for in the previous quote.)

More favorite quotes:

"My use of innuendo is painfully obvious. I blame my chronic virginity."

"It's funny what a little dirt will do to your image."

"But you don't need me to tell you who you are. You know it."

I highlighted a bunch more quotes throuhout, but these are my favorite.

Placid Girl will entertain readers and keep them on edge until the very end. Anyone who loves music deep in their soul will see a piece of themselves in Hallie. I know I did. I enjoyed reading this book and look forward to more books by Brenna Ehrlich.

Disclaimer:  I received this e-ARC from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.  I was not compensated in any way other than the e-ARC provided. Quotes used are from the e-ARC and may differ from the final published version. Thoughts and opinions are my own.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Blog Tour: A HISTORY OF GLITTER AND BLOOD by Hannah Moskowitz

Today I'm hosting author Hannah Moskowitz as part of the A History of Glitter and Blood bog tour. I became a fan of Hannah's books when I first read her YA contemporary Invincible Summer and then Gone, Gone, Gone. I have several of her books in my TBR pile and I've just added A History of Glitter and Blood to it. Check out my interview with Hannah, read an excerpt from her new book, and then enter for a chance to win a copy.

Welcome Hannah!!

What are some of the books that made you fall in love with reading and writing?

I read Tuck Everlasting when I was eight, and I remember reading the first few pages over and over again, particularly the line about how the dog days of summer were like being paused on top of a Ferris wheel, and just really having a love affair with words for the first time. I also have a huge amount of affection for Andrew Clements's The School Story, which taught me all about how publishing works. I read it in fifth grade and my best friend (who's still my best friend!) and I immediately started scheming about how we were going to get our books published.

And I have to give a shout out to Bears on Wheels, because that's the first book I read on my own, after my sister taught me to read.

What is the best piece of writing advice you ever received?

Get distance from your book. Sometimes this means actually putting time between yourself and the last draft, but for me a lot of the time it just means being able to take a figurative step back and try to see the book as a whole and not as a bunch of paragraphs, or scenes, or chapters. You have to get a sense of what the whole book looks like in its current form before you can tell what needs to be changed.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Stop calling yourself "aspiring." You're writing. You're a writer.

Tell me 5 things about yourself.
  • I'm an ex-opera singer.
  • I always have bruises on me because I think walls and corners are suggestions.
  • I run a pretty popular chronic illness humor tumblr
  • I'm a redhead, as of yesterday.
  • I am unbelievable at pig latin.
Thanks for sharing!

A History of Glitter and Blood
By  Hannah Moskowitz
Ages 14 and up
August 2015

Sixteen-year-old Beckan and her friends are the only fairies brave enough to stay in Ferrum when war breaks out. Now there is tension between the immortal fairies, the subterranean gnomes, and the mysterious tightropers who arrived to liberate the fairies. But when Beckan's clan is forced to venture into the gnome underworld to survive, they find themselves tentatively forming unlikely friendships and making sacrifices they couldn't have imagined. As danger mounts, Beckan finds herself caught between her loyalty to her friends, her desire for peace, and a love she never expected. This stunning, lyrical fantasy is a powerful exploration of what makes a family, what justifies a war, and what it means to truly love.

(link to Scribd.)

About Hannah Moskowitz

Hannah Moskowitz wrote her first story, about a kitten named Lilly on the run from cat hunters, for a contest when she was seven years old. It was disqualified for violence. First published at sixteen, she is the author of two middle grade and six young adult novels. Her books have received starred reviews, landed a spot on the ALA’s Rainbow Book List, and received a Stonewall Honor. Hannah lives in New York City.

Win a copy of A History of Glitter and Blood
(provided by Chronicle Books)

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Monday, August 17, 2015

Out of Darkness Blog Tour: Guest Post w/Ashley Hope Perez

It's my pleasure to host author Ashley Hope Perez on my blog today. She's appeared on the blog several times over the past few years with guest posts and interviews, and I've shared my reviews of her young adult novels What Can't Wait and The Knife and the Butterfly. She's back again discussing the the cover art of her new novel Out of Darkness and sharing an excerpt.

Out of Darkness Book Description:

New London, Texas. 1937. Naomi Vargas and Wash Fuller know about the lines in East Texas as well as anyone. They know the signs that mark them. 

“No Negroes, Mexicans, or dogs.”

They know the people who enforce them. 

“They all decided they’d ride out in their sheets and pay Blue a visit.”

But sometimes the attraction between two people is so powerful it breaks through even the most entrenched color lines. And the consequences can be explosive. 

“More than grief, more than anger, there is a need. Someone to blame. Someone to make pay."

Ashley Hope Pérez takes the facts of the 1937 New London school explosion—the worst school disaster in American history— as a backdrop for a riveting novel about segregation, love, family, and the forces that destroy people. 

Why and How Cover Art Matters

When we first got married, my husband and I got into a fight over book covers. While cleaning, he decided to remove all the dust jackets on the hardback books we own.

“Why would you do that to our books?” I asked the minute I walked in the door.

He shrugged. “They just look better this way, don’t you think?”

No, I did not think so. I spent the rest of the day fuming while I put the dust jackets back on, carefully restoring the cover art that, in some cases, had initially attracted me to the books.

We might all aspire to follow the old adage, “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” but anyone who’s set foot inside a bookstore or library knows that we do it all the time. There’s a reason why books displayed with their cover art out get picked up more than their companions sitting on the shelf with only their spines showing.

I’ve been lucky to have beautiful covers on all three of my novels. I wasn’t part of the selection process for my debut novel, What Can’t Wait, but the result was fantastic. For The Knife and the Butterfly and Out of Darkness, I got to weigh in on drafts of cover art by Laura Otto Rinne. In both cases, there were many fascinating possibilities. As Laura puts it, both books “provide so many intriguing motifs and imagery that I found it very easy to concept compelling cover ideas.” (Laura was kind enough to share her thoughts about her design work via email.) Back in 2012, I talked about the process of selecting and refining a design for The Knife and the Butterfly here.

So how did the cover art for Out of Darkness come about? In an email to me, Laura described some of the images she had in mind after reading Out of Darkness:

Many things came to me: a single shoe in a pile of rubble, the smoke and fire of the explosion and the ruins of the school, the historical connection of the town to this real event, the landscape of the Texas oil field and, paradoxically, Wash and Naomi’s river oasis and oak tree refuge.

Given these possibilities, some of the cover drafts played up the historical dimension of the novel by incorporating a black and white photograph from the 1937 school explosion. Others incorporated images that highlighted the setting in the East Texas oil field. Another concept for the cover had a clean, bright look similar to the cover of Margaret Wiley’s Four Secrets, although with an oak leaf silhouette that alludes to the importance of the tree where Naomi and Wash meet in secret.

These cover ideas were wonderful, but in Laura’s estimation, and mine as well, this was “ultimately Naomi’s story,and the cover needed to reflect that. Laura describes Out of Darkness as “the story of Naomi’s displacement in a community where she can neither be black nor white, of her struggle to not lose herself and her origins, and of the violence she confronts as she becomes a woman.For Out of Darkness, then, we all agreed that the cover needed to underscore Naomi’s centrality in the story.

Book covers that feature a close up of a girl’s face or a swirly image of her body have had a long run in YA, but it’s less common to see an image of a girl’s back. In the case of the top contender for the Out of Darkness cover—the one we ultimately chose—the focus is not so much on Naomi’s body as on her long braid. Here’s what Laura had to say about the image of the braid:
The striking description of her long, dark braid kept coming back to me. [The braid] connects her longing for the child she once was and the allure of sexuality and love that she begins to experience. I wanted Naomi's braid to jump off of the cover—I wanted it to break the darkness of her story and make her feel immediate and alive.

The cover of Out of Darkness is stunning, but more important than its beauty is the fact that it so fully captures the feel of the story. The sepia-toned background hints at the historical setting; the braid marks Naomi’s centrality, and the flame-colored letters hint at the explosion and, more broadly, at the possibility of destruction and suffering. Speaking of destruction, fire, and smoke, here’s what Elizabeth Wein said about the cover: “ I looked at that braid and thought it was SMOKE. I thought it was a plume of black smoke rising.” Together, these elements of Laura’s design for Out of Darkness do a fine job of setting readers up with the right set of expectations for what they will find between the covers.

To finish, here’s an excerpt from Out of Darkness that shows one of the ways that Naomi’s braid is important to the story.

For Naomi, to touch her braid was to remember her mother. The code was simple: when her mother had a braid, she belonged to Naomi. When Estella fixed her hair in swirls and curls and combs, she belonged to her dancing and to the men she danced with (and, later, to Henry) and she did not come home for hours and hours and the bed Naomi shared with her was wide and lonely. On this particular evening, Naomi was six; her father was dead; she and Estella still lived in the back bedroom of the nice house Abuelito and Abuelita owned before the stock market crash.

“Like this?” Estella asked, spinning to show the curls pinned in swirls over the nape of her neck. Her mother’s yellow dress rode up around her slim brown legs as she moved.

Naomi shrugged and traced the pattern of the lace coverlet on the bed. Snowflake, snowflake, flower. Snowflake, snowflake, flower. She was the snowflake, pointy and awkward. Her mother was the flower.

“Well?” Estella reached out a slender finger and lifted Naomi’s chin.

“I like it best in una trenza,” Naomi mumbled.

“A braid! But why is that?” Estella studied her. “Don’t you like Mami to be elegant?”

Naomi shook her head. Tears began to fall onto the lace.

“Do you want me to stay in tonight?” Estella unpinned her hair and let it fall over Naomi’s face. “Here, you braid it for me.”

Later, they draped the ends of their braids over their mouths like mustaches and pretended to be mariachi singers.

That was one of the good memories. The bad ones were edged with silence and blood. Estella’s eyes gone glassy, her face gray. And between the good and the bad there were others, moments colored not so much by fear or danger but by tiny heartbreaks, thimblefuls of betrayal. Estella was a woman, not a saint.

But at least Naomi had her braid.

To read another excerpt and have a chance to win a copy of Out of Darkness, check out the next blog tour stop at Forever YA on 8/21.

About the Author:

In addition to Out of Darkness (September 2015), Ashley Hope Pérez is the author of two other YA novels: What Can’t Wait and The Knife and the Butterfly. Out of Darkness has earned starred reviews from Kirkus and School Library Journal, and both What Can’t Wait and The Knife and the Butterfly appear on ALA reading lists. Ashley is currently a visiting assistant professor of comparative studies at The Ohio State University and teaches topics from global youth narratives to Latin American and Latina/o fiction. She lives in Ohio with her husband, Arnulfo, and their sons, Liam Miguel and Ethan Andrés. Visit her online at

Out of Darkness Blog Tour Schedule:

8/9: Q&A - Shelf Life @ Texas 

8/10: review - Finding Wonderland (

8/12: interview and giveaway - YA Outside the Lines (

8/17: guest post on cover art - Actin’ Up With Books (

8/21: excerpt and giveaway - Forever Young Adult

8/28: review - Forever Young Adult

8/26: the why behind a historical topic - Sarah Laurence blog (

8/31: guest post (“Words that Wake Us”) - Diversity in YA (


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