Saturday, April 25, 2015

BLOG TOUR + GIVEAWAY: Still Waters by Ash Parsons

Still WatersAuthor: Ash Parson
Publication: April 21, 2015
By: Philomel Books
Amazon | B&N | Goodreads 

A gritty, powerful debut that evokes The Outsiders. You won't be able to look away.

High school senior Jason knows how to take a punch. Living with an abusive father will teach a kid that. But he’s also learned how to hit back, earning a reputation at school that ensures no one will mess with him. Even so, all Jason truly wants is to survive his father long enough to turn eighteen, take his younger sister, Janie, and run away.

Then one day, the leader of the in crowd at school, Michael, offers to pay Jason to hang out with him. Jason figures Michael simply wants to be seen with someone with a tough rep and that the money will add up fast, making Jason’s escape plan a reality. Plus, there’s Michael’s girl, Cyndra, who looks at Jason as if she sees something behind his false smile. As Jason gets drawn deeper into Michael’s game, the money keeps flowing, but the stakes grow ever more dangerous. Soon, even Jason’s fists and his ability to think on his feet aren’t enough to keep his head above water.

Still Waters is an intense, gritty thriller that pulls no punches—yet leaves you rooting for the tough guy. A powerful, dynamic debut.




* I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*


Dark, gritty, and captivating. I wasn't sure I was going to like STILL WATERS, but I'm glad a gave it a shot! It's different from my usual YA reads, but that's okay.

It's hard NOT to champion a character like Jason, even when you know he's going to make the wrong choice, repeatedly. For him, life is about survival and doing whatever necessary to protect his sister, Janie.

His relationship with Cyndra was complicated and often times extremely frustrating, but I got it. The last 1/4 of this book messed with my head in the best way possible, and I didn't see the twist coming at all. 


Praise for STILL WATERS

A dark, fast-paced, and violent crime drama about desperation and revenge that explores a complex moral dynamic… his narrative is stark and compelling.”
Publishers Weekly

STILL WATERS features well-drawn characters, realistic dialogue, and ethical dilemmas that many readers have already faced or might have to face in the future. A great choice for reluctant readers, fans of books with male protagonists, and lovers of survivor stories.”
School Library Journal

 

 

 

~ Author Interview ~

Thanks for joining me on the blog, Ash!

What have been your Top 10 Book Influences? 

I decided to focus on books I read in high-school and which stay with me to this day.  :D


    •    S.E. Hinton – I was constantly stealing my older sister’s books. Anything she read, I would usually draft behind her and pick up the minute she finished. The Outsiders was one of those books but she wanted to reread it before I was done. As I recall, there were arguments, and we each ended up with our own copies. I read and re-read everything I could find by Hinton. Tex was my second favorite. I loved her characters, I loved in The Outsiders, especially, the Greasers. I loved Ponyboy Curtis. I loved the introduction to Robert Frost. When I became a teacher, I saved The Outsiders for the hardest, most-tiring time of year (January and testing season) because the book did my work for me. It was a joy to teach.


    •    The Burke Series by Andrew Vachss. I read them out of order, and loved them all. They were Law and Order: SVU before that show existed.  Except Burke and the rest of his family-of-choice worked outside of the law – it’s gritty noir.  I wish someone would make a TV series of this. Blue Belle and Sacrifice were the first two I read. Amazing.

    •    I am the Cheese by Robert Cormier. The first “that messed with my mind….I want to read it AGAIN!” book. I don’t want to spoil anything but I’ve had this conversation with writer friends…I don’t think anyone is doing this kind of work in YA anymore. Maybe The Bunker Diary? Haven’t read that yet. Not sure how Cormier got away with it, his stuff is soooooo dark. I would LOVE to write a Cormier ending, is what I’m saying.

    •    After Dark, My Sweet – Jim Thompson. The king of noir. I found his books through the movie, so in my mind they’re intertwined.  Collie will always be Jason Patrick. The movie is very faithful to the book, which is a plus. The ending of this book is perfect.  It’s perfect.  It’s perfect, perfect, perfect.

    •    The Vampire Lestat – This might seem like a left turn at Albuquerque, but I found this in the band room my freshman year of HS – what a cover! - and few of my reader-experiences have been as rapt. It was spell work, pure magic. Lestat’s voice is wonderful.

    •    The Count of Monte Christo by Alexander Dumas and ---

    •    Lorna Doone by R. D. Blackmore.   I have lumped these two books together because the same thing happened with each of them. I first found an abbreviated, illustrated “children’s edition” of each book in elementary school, and read and re read and re read them. Then as I grew older, I discovered other, longer editions intended for older readers. It was the best present ever, to realize that there was more to the story! Finally I topped out at the full, unabridged versions of each. I reread both of these every few years. They are flat-out amazing.

    •    The Harper Hall series by Anne McCaffrey. Went through a tremendous fantasy phase. Just inhaled the stuff. McCaffrey is the best going. Love her dragons, too, but Menolly’s journey is my favorite. I wrote a LOT of fanfic for this series, back in the day.

    •    The Belgariad series by David Eddings. Ditto above. I wanted to bleach a white lock in my hair so I could be like Polgara, the supreme badass.

    •     I have to stop at 10. It’s not fair. I will choose one I had to read for school. The Great Gatsby. I enjoyed it as a high schooler, but man. If you haven’t read it since high school, go read it again. It’s the best writing. The ending is the best ending in American Literature, IMO. Beautiful, beautiful writing. Just makes me want to knock over lamps and break crockery.

This has been fun to think about and remember all these books I love. Thanks for having me on the blog! 
 




~ About the Author ~

Ash Parsons teaches creative writing for Troy University's ACCESS program. Ash has performed at the Wolf Trap Center for Performing Arts, The Sarasota Opera House (Sarasota, FL), and in Auburn University Theater’s production of her play, Freakspiel. She lives in Alabama with her family.





~ GIVEAWAY ~

One copy of STILL WATERS by Ash Parsons
U.S./Canada Only
Must be 13 years old to enter

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

RT TEEN Day Giveaway!


The Romantic Times (RT) Booklovers Convention is just around the corner, and a ton of YA authors will be there! Saturday, May 16th, is TEEN DAY at RT, and in addition to the Giant Book Fair, there will panels, games, and parties! If that's not enough, 100 Young Adult authors will be signing in YA alley at the Giant Book Fair! Trust us, you don't want to miss this year's amazing lineup. 

Some of the authors attending TEEN DAY include:
  •  Meg Cabot
  • Kiera Cass
  • Scott Westerfeld
  • Tamora Pierce
  • Lauren Oliver
  • Kami Garcia
  • Margaret Stohl
  • Richelle Mead
  • Jennifer L. Armentrout 
  • Melissa de la Cruz
  • Alyson Noel
  • Becca Fitzpatrick
  • And many more!
Fans will be able to purchase autographed copies of the author's latest books at the Book Fair. To attend this event, purchase a Teen Day pass. The cost of the ticket is $30. Check out the Full Teen Day workshop scheduleFor more information on Teen Day, please go hereDon't forget to register! Be sure to follow the Teen Day Instagram @RTTeenDay & Facebook page www.facebook.com/RTTeenDay for photos, giveaways & interviews with your favorite authors!

ENTER TO WIN!



To gear up for Teen Day at RT (Romantic Times Booklovers Convention) in Dallas, on Saturday, May 16th, I have a huge Teen Day prize pack to give away! One lucky winner will win everything you see in the photo above. This prize pack features over 19 books, signed bookmarks and posters, ARC (Advanced Reader Copies) & a ton of swag! Most of the books are signed by the authors. US entrees only.

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BLOG TOUR: Jack: The True Story of Jack & the Beanstalk by Liesl Shurtliff





~ About the Book ~

Author: Liesl Shurtliff
Publication: April 14th 2015 
By: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Amazon | B&N | Goodreads 
 

Jack has always been told that giants are not real. But if that’s the case, how do you explain the huge, foot shaped pond in the yard, or the occurrence of strange and sudden storms in which the earth quakes and dirt rains from the sky? When his father is carried away in such a storm, Jack gives chase in the only logical way: by trading the family cow for some magic beans that will give him access to a land beyond the clouds. He arrives to find that the giants themselves have giant-sized troubles. With the help of an overachieving little sister, a magic goose and a chatty cook (who is not interested in grinding human bones into bread, thank you very much!) Jack sets out to save his dad and save the day.



~ My Thoughts ~

Very well done! I loved the characters, the setting, the subtle changes (ex. not all giants are evil), and how it ties into the original story while still having it's own unique vibe.

The audiobook is also a fun time!




~ Book Trailer ~

 

~ Author Q + A ~

 

Hi Liesl,

Thank you for joining me today!

What made you want to write a story about Jack and the Beanstalk?
My motivations for writing any given fairytale are generally two-fold. I have to have an affinity for the original tale, but it also has to have a certain element that doesn’t completely satisfy me. With Jack and the Beanstalk, I love the magic beans, the giant adventure, and the hen that lays golden eggs, but I wondered about young Jack. Here’s a boy who disobeys/ignores his mother, steals from an unsuspecting giant three times, and then when the giant comes after him, Jack takes him out. And he’s a hero because….? Though I didn’t have any interest in making Jack the villain of the story, I did feel compelled to explain and justify his behavior a bit more. 

Which character was the most difficult to write and why?
Jack was quite difficult. At first he came off as a little too naughty and unlikeable. I think I was channeling my memories of growing up with my older brother and the tortures he inflicted on me, but I forgot to include the good things, too. Though I knew Jack had to have a rascally sense of adventure, that needed to be balanced with honest, tender motivations in order for him to be a character readers could relate to and want to spend time with. It took several revisions to find that balance.

What is the last book you read and loved?
Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli. 

The best piece of writing advice you've been given is....
 “Don’t listen to advice. Not even mine.” —Karen Cushman 

I ask all of my blog guests this one: Brownies, cupcakes or pie?
Brownies! My best friend makes the best in the world, which is why she’s my best friend.


 

~ About the Author ~ 

Liesl Shurtliff was born and raised in Salt Lake City, Utah, with the mountains for her playground. Just like Rump, Liesl was shy about her name, growing up. Not only did it rhyme with weasel, she could never find it on any of those personalized key chains in gift shops. But over the years she’s grown to love having an unusual name—and today she wouldn’t change it for the world!
 
Before she became a writer, Liesl graduated from Brigham Young University with a degree in music, dance, and theater. She now lives in Chicago with her husband and three young children, where she still dreams of the mountains. Rump is her first novel. 

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads 

 

 


~ Giveaway ~ 

U.S./Canada Only
One copy of Jack: The True Story of Jack and the Beanstalk.
Must be 13 years old to enter. 
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Monday, April 20, 2015

BLOG TOUR: Need Me by Tessa Bailey





~ About the Book~

Author: Tessa Bailey
Publication: April 21, 2015
By: Avon Impulse
Amazon | B&N | Goodreads 
4.5 Stars!
 
When Honey Perribow traded in her cowboy boots for stilettos and left her small Kentucky town to attend Columbia University, she never expected to find a dirt-cheap apartment or two new best friends. No stranger to hard work, Honey’s sole focus is a medical degree...until she sees newly-minted Professor, Ben Dawson, and her concentration is hijacked. Honey is fascinated by her gorgeous, young English professor and vows to find a crack his tweed-wearing, glasses-clad exterior. 

While at an off campus party, an accident lands Ben in a dark, locked closet with a sexy-sounding southern belle...and their chemistry is explosive. But when he discovers that the girl in his arms is the same beautiful student he can’t stop thinking about, he is stunned. Student-teacher relationships are strictly forbidden…yet no matter how hard he tries, Ben can’t stay away from Honey. 

And when his attempts to fight their attraction nearly ruin the best thing that ever happened to him, Ben will do anything to prove how much he needs her. 


  **Due to content, this book is recommended for readers ages 18+**  

~ My thoughts ~

I now have The Police's, "Don't Stand So Close To Me" playing on a loop in my head. And I want to be a member of the Supergroup. I blame Tessa Bailey. :P

One of the reasons I enjoy the <i>Broke and Beautiful</i> series so much is because it makes me laugh while reading. So much so, I often have to stop and try to explain to the whoever is staring at me (mainly my husband) WHAT is so funny. And also why my face is so red. Because steaminess like whoa.

Seriously though, the characters, the settings (both NYC and small town Kentucky in this one), the romance, the writing, and especially the humor. I love it all!

I'm excited to read Abby and Russell's story next!


~ Excerpt ~


When choosing the perfect panties for a seduction, one couldn’t be too selective. Careful consideration had to be given to the cut, the style, and, most importantly, the almighty color. Honey Perribow rifled through her underwear drawer from her position on the rug, picking up and discarding undies with the efficiency required of premed students the world over. Red silk was a little too on the nose. It didn’t give the guy any credit. Blue? Hinted at mood swings. Yellow with a strawberry pattern…what am I, five?
There was no help for her. She had to call in the big guns. “Roxy!”
Her roommate of one month propped a hip on the inside of Honey’s door a moment later, biting into a piece of toast. “Did you lose your indoor voice in that pile of underpants?”
“What color would you wear if you wanted to seduce your English teacher?”
The toast paused halfway to Roxy’s mouth. “Aw, sh*t. Today is the day?”
Honey took a deep breath and nodded. “I’ve finally worked up the nerve. No more hiding under my hoodie in the back row. Professor Dawson is going down to Honey town.”
“How long have you been waiting to say that?”
“A while. How was my delivery?”
“Not too shabby.” Roxy shoved the remainder of the toast in her mouth and plopped down onto the floor, cross-legged, eyeballing the mountain of panties. In the month since they’d become roommates in one of the oddest interview processes of all time, they’d formed a friendship that sometimes seemed as if they were feeling their way in the dark. Honey could still sense some hesitancy on Roxy’s part to open up completely, but Roxy’s new boyfriend, Louis, seemed to be unlocking a new part of her. Considering Roxy had hidden out in her room at the outset, commiserating over panties was a vast improvement. “All right. So, we know he’s studious. He teaches Intro to Literary Theory. How does he dress?”
Honey hid her swoon by turning and pressing her face into the rug. “He has this tweed jacket. It’s like a greenish-brown, which should be ugly, but it looks so dang amazing on him. If I got up close, I bet it would smell like honest-to-goodness man mixed up with old book leather. He keeps candy in the pockets, too. I can’t tell from the back of the room which kind of candy he always pops into his mouth, but if I had to guess, I’d say butterscotch. So the jacket might have a hint of butterscotch smell going on, too.”
“Are you telling me tweed inspired all that?”
“It’s crazy, right? I know it. I can hear myself.” Honey rolled back over and stared up at the ceiling. In the few weeks since she’d started courses at Columbia University, Professor Dawson had wiggled his way under her skin like a splinter from a yellow poplar tree. No one back home in Bloomfield, Kentucky, would ever have accused her of being shy. In fact, they would have laughed over the very suggestion. She’d won first prize two years in a row for mud wrestling a pig at the county fair, after all. Shyness and pig wrestling simply didn’t add up. But the day she’d walked into the lecture hall, a mixture of confidence and nerves, and seen Professor Dawson, quietly gorgeous, in his tweed jacket and black-rimmed glasses, she’d slunk into the back row like a scolded basset hound.
Then. Then he’d spoken. Good Lord, she still remembered the shift of energy in the room. Each and every female student had leaned forward and propped their chin on their hands. Spellbound. There was no other word for it. His voice filled the room like sexy fog, rich and nuanced. It held a subtle hint of New England, not an all-out Boston accent, but occasionally he would drop an R in a way that made her shiver. It wasn’t just the sound of his voice, either. His passion about the subject material came across in every word, every endearing head scratch or thoughtful chin rub. She’d been more of a science girl in high school. Give her physics or chemistry any day of the week, but English had become her favorite subject with enough speed to inflict whiplash.
Since she’d been bitten by the shyness bug, talking to the object of her nightly fantasies directly hadn’t been an option. Yet. Oh, and there was that teensy little issue of college professors not being allowed to fraternize with students. But she’d cross that rickety bridge when she came to it.
All her life, she’d lived in a small town where the most exciting thing to happen was a fistfight between two grannies at the Dairy Queen. She’d purposely applied for universities with strong premed programs in New York City because she wanted, needed, excitement. Needed to take life by the short and curlies and tell it who was boss. She loved her parents and her hometown dearly, but she wanted more. Starting small wasn’t an option, either. She wanted to start with something so far outside her wheelhouse she needed binoculars to see it. This was her life, and it was time to live it.
Starting today, she would seduce Professor Dawson. Just the thought of it raised goose bumps all over her arms. From the back of the room, he looked like a movie star. Something she watched on a screen from a safe distance. What would he be like up close?
“If you rub your thighs together any harder,” Roxy broke into her thoughts, “this pile of panties is going to turn into a bonfire.”
“Sorry.” Honey pushed some unbrushed blond hair out of her face. “Let’s focus on the matter at hand.”
Abby, their third roommate, breezed into the room. “What are we focusing on?”
“I was focusing. She was fantasizing about tweed.”
“Tweed is still in style, but elbow patches are out,” Abby stated offhandedly, taking a spot on the floor. Of the three of them, Abby was the one gainfully employed in a corporate gig downtown, which explained her tailored black pantsuit at eight in the morning while Honey and Roxy, an aspiring actress, were still in pajamas. “What’s with the panty mountain?”
“I’m beginning the seduction process this morning.”
    
Roxy rolled her eyes. “Try not to make it sound so sexy, Perribow.”
Honey threw a pair of plaid panties at Roxy. “I’m not you. I can’t just flash a little leg and leave a trail of man-drool in my path.”
“Have you tried?” Roxy asked, looking smug when Honey stumbled over a reply. “Look, you’re not going to flash him your panties in class. That’s not your style. Worry about the top layer first, drag him back to your cave later. Worry about the panties then.”
“I agree.” Abby nodded. “This is premature panty picking.”
“Of course I’m not going to flash him.” Honey shrugged. “I was thinking it might boost my confidence a little if I had something sexy underneath my jeans. Might give me an extra boost so I won’t chicken out.”
Abby gave her a warm, encouraging look. She fished through the pile with one manicured hand and picked out a silky, mint-green thong with lace detail. Still with the tags on. “Wear these. They’re unique and subtly brilliant, just like you. You won’t chicken out.”
“And you’re not wearing jeans,” Roxy added, standing and dragging Honey to her feet. “To my closet, Batgirl. Where you will behold the wonder of humankind’s finest invention.”
Honey shot a nervous look over her shoulder toward an amused Abby. The brunette practically skipped along behind them down the hallway. “What would that invention be?”
“The strapless maxi dress,” Roxy breathed. 


 

~ About the Author ~ 

Tessa lives in Brooklyn, New York with her husband and young daughter. When she isn't writing or reading romance, Tessa enjoys a good argument and thirty-minute recipes.

 

 

 

~ Giveaway ~

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Friday, April 17, 2015

The Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie West

The Fill-In BoyfriendAuthor: Kasie West
Publication: May 5, 2015
By: Harper Teen 
Amazon | B&N | Goodreads
4 STARS

When Gia Montgomery's boyfriend, Bradley, dumps her in the parking lot of her high school prom, she has to think fast. After all, she'd been telling her friends about him for months now. This was supposed to be the night she proved he existed. So when she sees a cute guy waiting to pick up his sister, she enlists his help. The task is simple: be her fill-in boyfriend— two hours, zero commitment, a few white lies. After that, she can win back the real Bradley.

The problem is that days after prom, it's not the real Bradley she's thinking about, but the stand-in. The one whose name she doesn't even know. But tracking him down doesn't mean they're done faking a relationship. Gia owes him a favor and his sister intends to see that he collects: his ex-girlfriend's graduation party — three hours, zero commitment, a few white lies.

Just when Gia begins to wonder if she could turn her fake boyfriend into a real one, Bradley comes waltzing back into her life, exposing her lie, and threatening to destroy her friendships and her new-found relationship.


*I received this from the publisher (at NCTE) in exchange for an honest review*


~ My Thoughts ~

Kasie West books always make me smile and this one was no different! 

I loved the characters, the witty banter and the romance that blossoms with Fill-In Bradley. :D 

The friendship aspect felt unresolved but overall, I was happy with how it ended. The issue of social media and the need for validation a lot of people (not just teens) have was so very relevant too. 

Read it.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

COVER REVEAL: Bounce (Boomerang #3) by Noelle August


Bounce: A Boomerang Novel

By Noelle August
Coming to you August 25th, 2015!

William Morrow Trade Paperback; August 25, 2015; $13.99; ISBN: 9780062331106

Image Map  
Following in the bestselling tradition of Molly McAdams and J. Lynn, this final chapter in the fun and steamy New Adult trilogy by Noelle August (authors Veronica Rossi and Lorin Oberweger) features two aspiring musicians who must choose between their careers…and their sizzling attraction for each other.

Playing the occasional club gig just isn’t cutting it for twenty-two-year-old cellist Skyler Canby, who’s trying to support herself and her mother back home in Kentucky. Persuaded by her best friend Beth to accompany her on an audition for the first feature film launched by Blackwood Entertainment, she figures why not? Beth’s a shoe-in for the lead, but maybe Skyler’s newly dyed pink hair will help her stand out enough to score a small speaking part.

Never in her wildest dreams does Skyler imagine she’ll land the lead role or that she’ll have her shoes knocked off her feet by the kiss her audition partner, Grey Blackwood, plants on her—a kiss that feels very real and not at all “acted. ”

After throwing a party that causes thousands of dollars of damage to his older brother’s home, reckless musician Grey Blackwood gets roped into working off his debt on the set of his CEO brother’s newest project. Grey spends his days fetching coffee and doing odd jobs around the studio, but he lives for nights when he performs with his band. He knows if he can stay focused, success as a singer is just around the corner. But that’s tough with a distracting pink-haired girl occupying his every waking thought.

Skyler and Grey have every reason to resist each other. But, like a song neither of them can get out of their minds, they have no choice but to go where the music takes them.


~ About the Author ~

Question: What do you get when friends pen a story with heart, plenty of laughs, and toe-curling kissing scenes?  

Answer: Noelle August, the pseudonym for renowned editor and award-winning writer Lorin Oberweger and New York Times bestselling YA author Veronica Rossi, the masterminds behind the Boomerang series.  

You can visit them at NoelleAugust.com, @Noelle_August, and facebook.com/NoelleAugustBooks.





Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Sophomore Year Is Greek To Me by Meredith Zeitlin

Sophomore Year Is Greek to MeAuthor: Meredith Zeitlin
Publication: April 21, 2015 
By: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
Amazon | B&N | Goodreads

A laugh-out-loud high school adventure set in Greece, perfect for fans of Meg Cabot 

High school sophomore Zona Lowell has lived in New York City her whole life, and plans to follow in the footsteps of her renowned-journalist father. But when he announces they’re moving to Athens for six months so he can work on an important new story, she's devastated— he must have an ulterior motive. See, when Zona's mother married an American, her huge Greek family cut off contact. But Zona never knew her mom, and now she’s supposed to uproot her entire life and meet possibly hostile relatives on their turf? Thanks... but no thanks.

In the vein of Anna and the French Kiss, Zona navigates a series of hilarious escapades, eye-opening revelations, and unexpected reunions in a foreign country—all while documenting the trip through one-of-a-kind commentary.


*I received a copy of this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review* 

Thank you, Lauren Donovan for sending me a copy of this book, it was so much fun to read!

I enjoyed the setting, the characters and especially the relationships. The story-telling was done in a unique and clever way and while there is a sweet romance that develops, the main focus of the story was on Zona and her family. 

This makes for a great summer read!