Blog Tour: The Inevitable Collision of Birdie & Bash Book Excerpt

 

It’s our day on the Birdie & Bash blog tour and we are here to introduce you to a bit of the narrative!  Check out the synopsis, a bit about the author, and an exclusive excerpt below!

Birdie never meant to be at the party. Bash should have been long gone. But when they meet, a collision course is set off they may never recover from.

Sebastian Alvaréz is just trying to hold the pieces together: to not flunk out, to keep his sort-of-best friend Wild Kyle from doing something really bad, and to see his beloved Ma through chemo. But when he meets Birdie Paxton, a near-Valedictorian who doesn’t realize she’s smoking hot in her science pun T-shirt, at a party, an undeniable attraction sparks. And suddenly he’s not worried about anything. But before they are able to exchange numbers, they are pulled apart. A horrifying tragedy soon links Birdie and Bash together—but neither knows it. When they finally reconnect, and are starting to fall—hard—the events of the tragedy unfold, changing both their lives in ways they can never undo. 

Release Date: July 25, 2017

 

 

 

Candace Ganger is a young adult author, contributing writer for Hello Giggles, and obsesswive marathoner. Aside from having past lives as a singer, nanotechnology website editor, and the world’s worst vacuum sales rep, she’s also ghostwritten hundreds of projects for companies, best-selling fiction and award-winning nonfiction authors alike. Candace – aka – Candyland – has a severe Milky Way latter addiction + eats way too many donuts/doughnuts but all things in excess, amiright? FYI: She’s TOTALLY awkward in person (#sorrynotsorry). She lives in Ohio with her family.

 

 

 

Blog Tour Review: The Whole Thing Together by Ann Brashares

Summer for Sasha and Ray means the sprawling old house on Long Island. Since they were children, they’ve shared almost everything—reading the same books, running down the same sandy footpaths to the beach, eating peaches from the same market, laughing around the same sun-soaked dining table. Even sleeping in the same bed, on the very same worn cotton sheets. But they’ve never met.

Sasha’s dad was once married to Ray’s mom, and together they had three daughters: Emma, the perfectionist; Mattie, the beauty; and Quinn, the favorite. But the marriage crumbled and the bitterness lingered. Now there are two new families—and neither one will give up the beach house that holds the memories, happy and sad, of summers past.

The choices we make come back to haunt us; the effect on our destinies ripples out of our control…or does it? This summer, the lives of Sasha, Ray, and their siblings intersect in ways none of them ever dreamed, in a novel about family relationships, keeping secrets, and most of all, love.

Release Date: April 25, 2017

When I started The Whole Thing Together, I immediately fell for Sasha and Ray.  I loved the way they spoke about each other.  Almost reverent tones reflected the lovely thoughts they each held for the other.  Ray reminisced about the summer they built a Lego city together and talked about the safety he found in their shared bed. Sasha mused about his stubble in the sink and their shared copy of To Kill a Mockingbird.  I was hooked from the start on the beautiful things they thought about the other and the fact that while they didn’t know each other, they had feelings beyond fondness.

As we stepped into the lives of the rest of the family, however, I had less love.  I felt disinterested in Emma’s perfection, irritated by Quinn’s sage thoughtfulness and downright hated Mattie’s bratty behavior.  I pressed on through the drama and the hardship though.  It was worth it for the beauty and simplicity of Ray and Sasha and their sweetness.  I rolled my eyes at the arrogant Robert, the timid Jamie & Evie and the flighty Lila.  Adam and Jonathan were barely on my radar.  Overwhelmed by character names? I was too, at first.  I often wondered, why did she include all these other character’s stories, why not just focus on Ray and Sasha and their perspective.

However, as I read on I began to relate to Emma and it hit me, this family was a lot like my own.  My parents were divorced when I was young and growing up I often wondered if they would ever be able to be in the same room without a brawl breaking out.  I have five younger brothers and sisters in total and I don’t bother with explaining the halves of any siblings.  As Ann Brashares newest book came to its conclusion, the answer to my question became clear.  Brashares included the stories of each character and the perspective of each kid because that’s how a family works.  If something happens in a family that seems small to one person, it can ripple its way to another and they can get hit by wave.  I used to think about this a lot as a kid.  Worry about how my life choices could hurt my mom or drive away my dad.  Eventually, thankfully, I discovered that our lives can’t be lived that way.  Everything we do can affect those we love but that doesn’t mean we should make choices for everyone else. It is the opposite actually. Choose love, kindness and goodness and it will give you the strength to ride out the waves that can be created.  This book reminded me of the importance of family, the good, the bad and the ugly.

It is a beautiful picture of love in its purest form and its darkest (also known as hate).  Life is not as two dimensional as it can seem; sometimes we are an Emma- overachieving our hearts out, occasionally we are a Mattie- misbehaving for attention or to hide a truth unspoken and maybe a few of you are lucky enough to be a Quinn- wise and thoughtful.  I strive to be a Sasha- modest, brave and overcoming my anxieties with love and beautiful thoughts.

This is a great story for teens and adults and just to top it off, it’s set at the beach, bringing the concept of ripple to wave full circle.

4.5 bards

 

 

Special thanks to contributor Lesley for reading and reviewing this book for A Midsummer Night’s Read.

 

 

 

Author & Event Spotlight

The Event: Nemesis Book Launch

Where: Barnes and Noble at the Arboretum, Charlotte NC
When: Tuesday, March 21
Who: Brendan Reichs and Renée Ahdieh

This was by far one of the most original panel discussions I’ve ever attended for a book launch, and it might be one of my favorites!  Brendan came prepared with a list of random questions for him and Renée to start off the event.  Those in attendance were treated to a lively conversation where we learned that Brendan’s least favorite word is Pamphlet and Renée’s is one that rhymes with “oist,” although I think everyone dislikes that word (not just you, Brad!).  Both authors told about their Hogwarts houses, Brendan apparently tried to rig the quiz to get Gryffindor, but still ended up a Ravenclaw (Yaaaaas!) with an Eagle Owl patronus (#Same).  Renée is a proud Slytherin, who used to lie about being a Gryffindor, apparently a very Slytherin thing to do and the patronus of a rat, which she is fine with because Ratatouille.

My favorite part of this part was that after asking the audience to choose a number between 1 and 50, they took turns reading a small snippet from each other’s newest releases to the crowd. Someone hollered out 23, so I got this part on video for everyone! They then followed up with a brief summary of their inspiration for these books and what they are about. You can definitely tell these two are good friends and are hilarious together.

After asking each other a few rounds of questions about their books, Brendan was equipped with a Polar Express Conductors hat full of random rapid fire questions for himself and Renée, and coincidentally, those of us in the front row. Some of these conductor questions included Magic Wand or Light Saber, Hogwarts Headmaster or Starfleet Captian, Ghost or Ghostbuster, Prehistoric Times or the year 3010, and on and on.  It was pretty fun and I think it allowed the audience to feel more engaged, although I’m a bit partial since I was able to do the participating.

Brendan and Renée then signed books for the crowd (and there was an impressive one!).  Check out more photos below sprinkled between my interview with the star of the evening, Brendan Reichs!

Midsummer Reads (MSNR): Thanks so much for sitting down with me, are you excited?

Brendan Reichs (BR): I’ve very excited, tonight is the first night I’ve ever done a book event for Nemesis, so it’s a big deal.

MSNR: Yes! And it’s in your hometown.

BR: It is, it’s fun to do it at home. It’s actually a little nerve wracking to do it at home just because you know a lot of people in the audience, so it’s not like having that distance you have with a normal crowd, but it’ll be great.

MSNR: Are a lot of people you know coming?

BR: Uh, they better.

MSNR: That’s how I would be; Uh, I’d better see you or someone’s going to get hurt.

BR: I’m taking names.

MSNR: So this book is super complex.

BR: It is.

MSNR: I was reading it and I was like, SO MANY THINGS HAPPENING. Could you describe it in one sentence to a reader?

BR: I actually try. That’s why it was so hard to actually sell the idea because trying to describe it was too crazy to get it into one sentence. Basically…

MSNR (interrupting because I’m rude): You can describe it in a run-on sentence

BR: I would describe Nemesis as Min is a girl at 16 years old and every two years on her birthday she is murdered by the same person except she doesnt die like a normal person, instead she wakes up about a half a mile away without a scratch on her every single time. So on her 16th birthday after she’s been murdered for the 5th time she’s finally had enough and decides she needs to figure this out.  No one is really paying attention to her because there’s this world wide calamity going on where there’s an asteroid heading towards the planet and no one knows when it’s going to hit. And there’s this bit national/international human existence story going on. So there’s very little attention being paid to the trials of a teenager in Idaho.

MSNR (Interrupting, again, because I’m the worst): Right, because no one pays attention to teenagers.

BR: Right, exactly. And there’s another character, and this book has been fun because it’s the first time I’ve written a male point of view in my career, so Noah is having the same things happen to him except that he’s a little bit less stable than Min.  He’s a – kind of one of those guys that on the outside he – he’s a rich kid and she’s a poor kid – he’s trying to keep everything together but really he is a mess. Because he’s been having the same thing happen to him but he doesn’t trust himself to know that it’s even real. So these two things are happening and they eventually decide and they start to investigate that everyone around them starts to be suddenly implicated and you can’t trust anyone. And they find out that they might be at the center of a vast government conspiracy that may implicate all life on Earth.

MSNR: That is a big run on sentence. I’m okay with it.

BR: Yes, it is.

MSNR: So when I was reading it, I found it to be kind of a commentary on human emotion and the way that human nature really plays into the certain aspects of the two characters, specifically, and how they react to this outside force that’s coming onto them.  Very much like Lord of the Flies, like, they are put in this situation, how are they going to react?

BR: That is an essential influence, and I think the publisher likes to use the tagline of “Orphan Black meets Lord of the Flies,” which is an interesting combination, but there’s no good parallel anyway. But that’s what you want and I appreciate that you say that, because you want the story to be about the characters. Ultimately there’s a lot of plot going on in this book and if you stick with it it will all unwind itself, but it winds up pretty heavily at the beginning where you’re not really supposed to know what the hell is going on for a large portion of the book, and then it’s really good that it’s supposed to be centered on the characters because ultimately that’s where every story either fails or survives is on how good the characters are, because the best plot in the world doesn’t survive if you don’t care what happens. So I spent a lot of time trying to put the characters together, I hate the term strong female protagonist because that implies that your female antagonist has to be masculine or different in a way, you know, I just like to think of her as a strong person, and it shouldn’t be noteworthy that she is female, and it was interesting to get to write a male character’s perspective, although I’ve not read the entire breadth of YA, but I’d never read a YA where the male lead was basically kind of a mess.

(Literally this whole time I’m nodding my head and agreeing, because Brendan has taken over the interview **in a good way**) 

BR (continued): So i thought that would be fun because that’s normally assigned to a female character, so you get to overcome their internal difficulties, which can be boring, but what if this is a 15 to 16 year old boy who is putting the good face out there but doesn’t really have an idea of what he is doing with his life. I mean what is happening to him and stuff. So that was the motivation for that. If you like the characters then that’s exactly what I’m about.

MSNR: I actually assigned them songs: Um, I put Min as being very much like Titanium by David Guetta and Sia.

BR: That’s very good.

MSNR: And then I put Noah as more of the Bleachers, I don’t know if you’ve heard of them, um, Jack Antonoff, and it’s called I Wanna Get Better. It’s about mental health and screaming at himself “I wanna get better,” I want to be better than this, and that’s kind of exactly how I see Noah.

BR: Somewhere in the blogosphere (*waves* hey everyone!) there’s a, and I believe it’s for YA Highway, I’d have to look it up, but I did make two playlists. On the Min Playlist, the first song is a Halsey song, because when I listened to her album that just clicked to me, I was like, this is that kind of angry but not a pushover type vibe that I was getting. Like she was pissed off and isolated, but she’s also not asking for favors.

MSNR: Which I really like. Because sometimes girls are perceived as being, you know, weak and asking for help a lot. At least in the South, which is what I grew up with.

BR: And there’s some great YA being written right now with female lead characters, so this is in no way sort of any genre defining effort, just that in the beginning the came fully formed to me, and that she would be isolated and damaged by what had happened to her, but NEVER broken by it. Just that she’s a fighter and she stays that way even though it does have it’s affects. YOu know she acts like she has no friends..

MSNR: Awe, but I like Tack though. Even though he never knows when to shut up.

BR: No, he doesn’t And Tack is sort of my character, and every one of my books that I write, there’s basically one character that’s sort of me talking through the book, you know what I would say in each situation, because I’m kind of a smart ass that doesn’t know when to be quiet either, and that’s sort of Tack in this book.  He’s basically saying the things that I would be saying when I shouldn’t be, you know, running my mouth.

MSNR: Honestly there’s a little bit of all of us in Tack, probably, especially when we were teenagers and never knowing quite when to be quiet.

THIS IS THE SPOT WHERE WE TALK ABOUT SPOILERY THINGS. 

PROMISED BRENDAN IT WOULD BE OFF THE RECORD *SINGS* LALALALALALA

BR: This was the last piece that fell into place for the book. I’m a big planner and when you write books like this that are so plot oriented they have to make sense and you have to keep track of what’s happening.

Matchy-matchy!

MSNR: So let’s just refer to it as “The Twist,” so where you plotting the book and then “the twist,” fell in or you were influenced by outside research?

BR: Most of the time the best ideas that come to me when I’m writing come to me about 2/3rds of the way through the first draft. This is when I’ve been living with the idea for about two months, and I’ll wake up one day, and typically in the shower, it will come to me and will have connected overnight. And this was one of the last pieces to come in and it was really three book ideas that all really came together in this crazy boo, which is why it’s so overbaked in terms of that there’s so much in it and because I had all this stuff and I managed to slot it all in together.

MSNR: I know, but I like that it has so much in it because it keeps you on your toes. I literally had to put it down to go to sleep, and I was so concerned about trying to figure out what was happening!

BR: And this is the stuff that I like to read…

Renée Ahdieh (RA)  shows up being adorable: Totally crashing!

MSNR: Hi, how are you!

RA: Good, how are you?

MSNR: Good!

RA (to BR): What’s up, how are you feeling?

BR: Good, good.

MSNR: This is weird, but you smell really good. (I still think this is weird but I had to keep this in haha)

BR: She always smells good, it’s a signature.

RA (wanders away, being fabulous): *laughing at us* I do like that.

MSNR: So, I’m not going to lie. The guy in the black suit? I totally pictured him as Agent Smith from the Matrix the whole time, and maybe that’s because I grew up with the Matrix, but yeah.

BR: No, that’s fair. And for our generation it would be an Agent Smith type- I mean- for me he looks a little different. Although for me, and this is probably not something I should admit to an audience, but I find the way the character looks, and in the book I’m consistent in the way the character looks but in my head that’s never how the character looks.  it’s just a weird dissonance that no one’s ever called out before because no one knows what things look like in my head.

MSNR: In my head he looked like Agent Smith.

BR: Right, for me he’s more of a Guy Pierce, but yeah you know it’s like a flat hair, flat face individual. And I just finished drafting the second draft of the sequel…

MSNR: So we are going to learn more about the project?

BR: It gets darker and deeper and a lot of the Lord of the Flies aspects are really going to come to the fore, because one of the questions I was dealing with was, the main premise, which was that I wanted to fight the finality of death, and what if death was not final; but not in like a zombie way or a ghost way or a resurrection way, but legitimately if it just didn’t work. Like, you died but you didn’t.

MSNR: As long as Tack isn’t Piggy the whole time.

BR: Right. Well, there’s a lot of, and you know I read Lord of the Flies, and you realize only two people die in that.

MSNR: Yes, but you get it.

BR: But they played it and it’s so beautifully written and you get their dissent. And with my book, I’m hoping to get that same thing, but also that a lot of people die. Because you know with Min’s experience in this book, death has not been permanent and that is such a central question. How would you deal with that? How do you deal with the idea that something that you know should be the end of something isnt? And you can’t really control it?

MSNR: I think the last question I have for you, because I don’t want to keep you too long, is that why you decided to do it on their birthdays, and you know not on…

BR: That is a question that will be revealed, and there’s a lot of little detail strings that are still out there and that’s because you don’t really know at the end of Nemesis, what is next. This book leads you to a point, but it doesn’t take you past that.  And a careful reader would ask themselves, “wait, why was this happening,” but I haven’t gotten to that yet.  That’s a great answer. You know if I didn’t answer it, “Oh, it’s in book 2!” And then I’m like, will you write that down and send it to me? Just in case I made a mistake.

MSNR: When can we expect book two?

BR: Uh, it should be a year. I mean I’m putting in the drafts now so I expect roughly the same time next year.  You know, we don’t have much say. I really like Spring releases, which you never know, but I assume it would be next spring.

MSNR: Well, thank you so much for talking with me!

BR: No, thank you so much.

MSNR: It was so good to meet you in person!

BR: Good to meet you too, and I’ll see you..

MSNR: Yep, you’ll see me in a few minutes!

 

A huge and special thanks to Brendan Reichs, Penguin Teen, and Renée Ahdieh for the event on March 21.

Nemesis is available NOW! Go pick up a copy.

 

 

Blog Tour: A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi


The Author: 

Roshani Chokshi is a fabulous human.  (Okay I added that part of this bio)

Roshani Chokshi is the New York Times bestselling author of THE STAR-TOUCHED QUEEN. Her work has appeared in Strange Horizons, Shimmer, and Book Smugglers. Her short story, “The Star Maiden,” was longlisted for the British Fantasy Science Award.

The Book: 

Gauri, the princess of Bharata, has been taken as a prisoner of war by her kingdom’s enemies. Faced with a future of exile and scorn, Gauri has nothing left to lose. Hope unexpectedly comes in the form of Vikram, the cunning prince of a neighboring land and her sworn enemy kingdom. Unsatisfied with becoming a mere puppet king, Vikram offers Gauri a chance to win back her kingdom in exchange for her battle prowess. Together, they’ll have to set aside their differences and team up to win the Tournament of Wishes – a competition held in a mythical city where the Lord of Wealth promises a wish to the victor.

Reaching the tournament is just the beginning. Once they arrive, danger takes on new shapes: poisonous courtesans and mischievous story birds, a feast of fears and twisted fairy revels. Every which way they turn new trials will test their wit and strength. But what Gauri and Vikram will soon discover is that there’s nothing more dangerous than what they most desire.

Release Date: March 28, 2017 

As much as I loved the lush and floral narrative descriptions in The Star-Touched Queen, I’d have to say that I find A Crown of Wishes to be my favorite of the two.  Not only has Chokshi one-upped herself, but she has created two snarky characters that leaped off the page and into my heart. Seriously, the banter in this book is spot on.  I’ve always wanted to be around people who could give me a verbal sparring match much like Vikram and Gauri have.  Plus, who doesn’t love a slow burn romance where the two characters start off with a rocky relationship and end up having feelings for one another? Seriously, that is one of my favorite book tropes and it will never cease to make me happy.

I’d love to pick Chokshi’s brain about all the glorious settings and where she got the idea for the Tournament of Wishes, well, if I’m being honest, the whole story here.  It’s delightfully complex and it unfolds in such an organic way that it keeps the reader on their toes.  Chokshi also does an excellent job of tying Guari’s story to her sister Maya’s without it being too heavy handed.  We are reminded of Maya frequently and how Guari’s sense of self-preservation and determination comes from her relationship with her “lost” sister.  Guari is a fierce female bad ass.  In a culture where women resided in harams and were regarded largely as property or things to be bartered, it is so awesome that Guari has carved her own lot in life and has grown to be a warrior who loves her country fiercely, she grows so much as a character throughout the novel that I’d have to say she’s my absolute favorite aspect of this story.

Be prepared to have a new book boyfriend, everyone, because Vikram is dreamy, witty, a bit of a hopeless romantic, and loves his kingdom as much as Guari loves Bharata. He has a tragic past but has persevered to become a strong person in his own right. Also, his father has a soft spot for injured and damaged animals, which I think is adorable and such a wonderful detail.

I could continue to gush, but let me leave you with some of my favorite quotes:

“A story could break its bones, grow wings, soar out of reach and dive out of sight in the time it took just to draw breath.  It meant we were’t walking a cut path. We carved it into existence with every step.”

“Fear was a key that fit every person’s hollow spaces – those things that kept us cold at night and that place where we retreated when no one was looking – and all it could do was unlock what was already there.”

“You could carry a story inside you and hold it up to the light when you needed it the most. You could peer through it, like a fram, and see how it changed your view when you looked out onto the world.”

4.5 Bards to Roshani Chokshi’s sophomore novel, A Crown of Wishes.

 

 

 

Blog Tour: Q & A with Carrie Mac

Welcome to the Midsummer Reads day on the 10 Things I Can See From Here Blog Tour!

I had the pleasure of interviewing the lovely Carrie Mac about her new book and about some of the content!

You can keep an eye our for review of 10 Things I Can See From Here, coming soon!

Interview Key: Italics= Midsummer, Bold = Carrie Mac

  1. Carrie, as someone who struggles with anxiety, it is so great to read a book that depicts the spiraling thoughts that come along with it.  Did you do a lot of research to show this accurately?

Anxiety is a very unwelcome houseguest in my own imagination.

It’s always there, and even when I kindly—or very unkindly—suggest that it’s time to go, it hangs around. Sometimes when I’ve tried to get rid of it, it hides and I think it’s finally gone, but then it burns a piece of toast in the kitchen and starts a small fire and before you know it there are sirens and then the fire trucks are outside and the house has burnt down. Or no, wait, it hasn’t. Just the smoke alarm went off.

That little shit Anxiety never left. It just hid in a closet until I was finally calming down. Oh, I know Anxiety well. I don’t like it, but we are close.

Same for a couple other dear members of my family, so it was all too easy to write. And all too easy to give to Maeve.

Sorry Maeve. Love you, hon.

 

2. What was your thought process of not having Maeve attend therapy while staying with her family in Canada?

There are a couple of reasons.

As much as Maeve’s dad and stepmom are on board with whatever Deena wants to do to support Maeve, they have their own ideas and beliefs about mental health and truth be told, they’re not that into formal supports, if at all avoidable. Maeve’s dad doesn’t give much thought to any particular ‘approach’ to Maeve’s mental health at all, other than to love her for who she is and support in any given moment to calm down or take it easy or change the subject. Claire is big into anything supporting Maeve’s mental health, but only if it rings as true and helpful. Claire—having experience with it herself — is not that into talk therapy, so that’s not something she wouldn’t leap at. But hikes and sleep and diet and homeopathy? Knitting? You bet!

Now that things have settled down, Maeve will sort herself out and find a therapist. Unless she’s going to use the six months to try other things.

Not knitting though.

Or marimba lessons.

 

3. I think I’ve only read one or two books that were explicit about being based in Canada! It was so nice to read about Vancouver. Since you live in Canada was this a natural choice, or was it a secret plot to make us all want to visit? (But seriously, I want to go to Vancouver now.) 

            This story lives in East Van. I’m sitting in my usual coffee shop writing now, looking out on the neighborhood where Maeve’s parents live. Most of my novels don’t need to be set anywhere in particular, but Maeve’s story is an East Vancouver story. This neighborhood is special, and it is exactly what I needed for Maeve. Her community needed to be healthy and vibrant and supportive and delightfully weird because she was already dealing with her anxiety and a very real mess at home, and then the added flurry that comes with falling in love. This neighborhood is an anchor in the book.

Absolutely come visit! This is a charmed city in so many ways, even if our dark underbelly can be exceptionally dark at times.

 

4. On your Twitter you mentioned that the bus beheading was a real story that inspired one of Maeve’s spirals, are the others she references real as well? 

Most of them are, yes. To name a few, the bus beheading, the women taken from the Downtown Eastside and murdered at a pig farm, the young women shot by a gunman while at college, the man who drove off the ferry dock, bedbug infestations, the suicide pact, cholera, the woman driving the ‘school bus’ van, and then others are more general, like someone jumping in front of a train, earthquakes (very real threat here), or being kidnapped from a city park. Real or not, though, I bent each one to make it fit. Like Emily Dickinson wrote, “Tell all the truth, but tell it slant.”

 5. Speaking of, how much of your research for this novel was on disastrous statistics? 

            I only dipped into actual statistics when absolutely necessary because they freak me out. So much that I’m getting anxious just answering this question. Maeve needs facts. They both fuel her anxiety and set limits to it, so I researched for her. If it were up to me, I’d never ever look that shit up.

Now, what are ten things I can see from here …?

 

6. What is the most exciting thing about having 10 Things I Can See From Here being published with such a large advertising campaign? I swear most bloggers I talk to have either read your book or have had it pre-ordered for a long time! 

            I love actually seeing it everywhere. The cover just pops right out of websites and news releases and tweets sings “Hi! Look at me! I am so beautiful and you should read me and we will be such good friends!” And when I see the book pop up I think, “Oh! There’s my super famous friend!” and then I remember that 10 Things is my baby. It’s really exciting. I can’t wait for everyone to read it. And I cannot wait for people to send selfies of them reading it all over the place, with that gorgeous cover doing a song and dance on a dreary subway train or a dark bedroom on a rainy day.

 

7. What advice do you have to young writers who struggle to sit down and finish a story?

            Write all the way to the end. Don’t look back. Don’t re-read, don’t revise, don’t do spellcheck, just keep going all the way to the end. That’s when you can start to be precious about it. Wait until you have a first draft, and then you can worry, and revise, and change things around.

First drafts suck.

They should.

Write the damn thing, and then you get to move on to the second draft, which is so much better.

Don’t believe in writers’ block. It’s a myth. It doesn’t exist. Just because you can’t write the thing you want to write doesn’t mean you can’t work on something else.

Write.

Just write.

Imagine if you wrote only one single page a day, you’d have a 365-page novel at the end of the year.

Yay, you!

 

8. If you had to say one thing to a young reader after they read 10 Things I Can See From Here, what would you say? 

“What did you think of it?”

And then we’d get to talking because of their answer. Maybe they want to talk about Maeve, and how they identified with her anxiety, or maybe they loved how being queer was no big deal because it’s a huge taboo in their community. Or maybe they want to critique me on the book, because they’re a writer and would’ve done it differently.

I don’t have any one thing to say, but I would love to hear what readers have to say.

 

 

Thanks so much to Carrie Mac for stopping by A Midsummer Night’s Read!  You can pick up 10 Things I Can See From Here now!

 

 

 

Blog Tour: And I Darken by Kiersten White

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New from Kiersten White, the author of the Paranormalcy series and the Mind Games duology, comes a novel reimaging the immensely cruel Vlad the Impaler.

Whit_9780553522310_jkt_all_r1.inddNO ONE EXPECTS A PRINCESS TO BE BRUTAL.

And Lada Dragwlya likes it that way. Ever since she and her gentle younger brother, Radu, were wrenched from their homeland of Wallachia and abandoned by their father to be raised in the Ottoman courts, Lada has known that being ruthless is the key to survival. She and Radu are doomed to act as pawns in a vicious game, an unseen sword hovering over their every move. For the lineage that makes them special also makes them targets.

Lada despises the Ottomans and bides her time, planning her vengeance for the day when she can return to Wallachia and claim her birthright. Radu longs only for a place where he feels safe. And when they meet Mehmed, the defiant and lonely son of the sultan, who’s expected to rule a nation, Radu feels that he’s made a true friend—and Lada wonders if she’s finally found someone worthy of her passion.

But Mehmed is heir to the very empire that Lada has sworn to fight against—and that Radu now considers home. Together, Lada, Radu, and Mehmed form a toxic triangle that strains the bonds of love and loyalty to the breaking point.

Release Date: June 28, 2016

Holy Crap.

This novel has so much going on and so much detail.  Now, unlike some novels that seem bogged down by seemingly useless details and flowery language (looking at you, Charles Dickens), And I Darken seems to be carved from a rich mahogany and it is done purposefully and necessarily.  Side note: it can be a little overwhelming to take in so much so quickly, but push through!

Not only does White immediately establish the tense atmosphere of this ruling family, but she properly exhibits the dichotomy between Lada and Radu.  It is definitely my favorite part of the novel, the sibling love and devotion despite their differences.  As someone who doesn’t always get along with my sibling, I even envied it a bit.  Which is odd considering this is a story about Vlad the Impaler….

Anyway, I find the dual point of view format to be ridiculously helpful in this story, even if Radu’s parts in this are significantly shorter and more to the point.  I sort of wish that there was more of a first person narrative here, but third person limited is always a good alternative to this.

White did such an excellent job portraying the absolute brutal attitude of Lada and the Ottoman empire at this time.  I found it difficult to read at times, but in a challenging way not in a un-entertaining way.  It is something wholly unique to the young adult genre and I have a feeling it is going to inspire many more works not only from White (since this is a series), but from other authors as well.  I sincerely hope it challenges authors to look to new types of storytelling.  Plus, gender-bending classic stories is a huge thing on tumblr, so it isn’t like it would be unaccepted by the readers.

Unlike many heroines in young adult novels, Lada is set up almost immediately as an anti-heroine since we know exactly what the future holds for this brutal teen.  However, it is impossible to not sympathize with this leader born into such a patriarchal and backwards society.  (Does anyone else kind of think Lada would work really well alongside Amarantha and the King of Hybern in the Court of Thorns and Roses Series? )

This book will please you, make you uncomfortable, and make you root for the ultimate bad girl.

4.5 Bards

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Book Review: Julia Vanishes by Catherine Egan

Julia has the unusual ability to be . . . unseen. Not invisible, exactly. Just beyond most people’s senses.

It’s a dangerous trait in a city that has banned all forms of magic and drowns witches in public Cleansings. But it’s a useful trait for a thief and a spy. And Julia has learned–crime pays.

Her latest job is paying very well indeed. Julia is posing as a housemaid in the grand house of Mrs. Och, where an odd assortment of characters live and work: A disgraced professor who sends her to fetch parcels containing bullets, spiders, and poison. An aristocratic houseguest who is locked in the basement each night. And a mysterious young woman who is clearly in hiding–though from what or whom?

Worse, Julia suspects that there’s a connection between these people and the killer leaving a trail of bodies across the frozen city.

The more she learns, the more she wants to be done with this unnatural job. To go back to the safety of her friends and fellow thieves. But Julia is entangled in a struggle between forces more powerful than she’d ever imagined. Escape will come at a terrible price. 

Release Date: June 7, 2016

I will be the first to tell you that the first novel I read after the absolutely amazing second installment of Sarah J Maas’ A Court of Thorns and Roses series was going to have a hard time catching my attention. However, Catherine Egan’s Julia Vanishes was up to the task.

The novel is set in some time period/fantasy world amalgamation of the Gaslight era with a bit of magical Steampunk thrown in.  It’s still a world where there is the clear proletariat/working class and a bourgeois that suppress the continued existence of magic and magical beings.  In fact, within the first third, the main character discusses and witnesses the murder of women who are accused of witchcraft.

Narratively speaking, the plot starts as a very slow burn and advances in a very natural way toward the climax and the culmination of the story.  I really enjoy Julia (also known as Ella) as a character and I found her no-nonsense, straight-forward first person narration to be rather indicative of her personality and it made me like her and connect with her much more on a personal level.

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, I really love when an author acknowledges and puts sexually active teens into their stories.  It is realistic and befitting of characters, like Julia and Wyn, who are in love to be sexual with one another.  It isn’t blatant and it isn’t smutty, but it is respectful scenes that indicate the act, rather than show it.  Which is still the common practice in YA, but it still gets the point across.  It is okay to be sexually active and safe.  I mean, Wyn isn’t exactly the best of male characters and I’d caution anyone to selecting him as a book boyfriend, but he really is relegated to the background.

This story is Julia’s story of knowledge and coming to find out who she is and what she is willing to do for money versus those she cares about.

I think this is a good first installment, and I have high hopes for the next installment, as this one is billed as Witch’s Child, #1.

The book is already available for pre-order and you can click on the links below my Bard selection!

I’m giving Julia Vanishes a solid 3.5 Bard rating.

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Blog Tour: Scarlett Epstein Hates it Here

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It is Midsummer’s stop on the Scarlett Epstein Hates it Here blog tour hosted by Penguin Teen!

Be sure to check out the information on the novel, listen to the playlist for Ashley, and order a copy of this unforgettable novel.  My review will be up next week, so stay tuned!

Meet Scarlett Epstein, BNF (Big Name Fan) in her online community of fanfiction writers, world-class nobody at Melville High. Her best (read: only) IRL friends are Avery, a painfully shy and annoyingly attractive bookworm, and Ruth, her weed-smoking, possibly insane seventy-three-year-old neighbor.

When Scarlett’s beloved TV show is canceled and her longtime crush, Gideon, is sucked out of her orbit and into the dark and distant world of Populars, Scarlett turns to the fanfic message boards for comfort. This time, though, her subjects aren’t the swoon-worthy stars of her fave series—they’re the real-life kids from her high school. And if they ever find out what Scarlett truly thinks about them, she’ll be thrust into a situation far more dramatic than anything she’s ever seen on TV…

 

“Hands To Myself,” Selena Gomez
She’s choreographing a cheer set to this song, so she listens to it like a zillion times a day.

“Fancy,” Iggy Azalea
The song she listens to when she’s driving to school (which her twin sister Avery hates, but too freaking bad).

“In The Night,” The Weeknd
She listens to this when she’s taking an evening drive by herself, just to CVS or something. It’s her time to be alone.

“Story of My Life,” One Direction
She and Avery sing along with this song in the car on the way home (assuming Ave’s not hanging out with that pretentious d-bag Scarlett).

“Hello,” Adele
When she’s sad about Gideon.

“Chichester Psalms,” Leonard Bernstein
She first listened to these to impress this college guy she was dating, but wound up loving them herself. She always cries at the end of III.

“Trap Queen,” Fetty Wap
The summer song that seems to play at all the block parties in the neighborhood that her family goes to.

“How Deep Is Your Love,” Calvin Harris & Disciples
Sexy shower-singing song.

“Let It Go,” Idina Menzel
Empowering shower-singing song.

“Work,” Rihanna
On in the background as she and her friends pregame for a house party.

“Ultralight Beam,” Kanye West
On in the background if she’s pregaming alone for a house party.

“Elastic Heart,” Sia
To remind herself she’s stronger than people think she is.

“All Of Me,” John Legend
She imagines this being her first dance as prom queen.

“Bad Blood,” Taylor Swift
Sometimes, remembering some diss Scarlett shot in her direction, she blasts this in the car and scream-sings it.

Swan Lake, Op.20, Act I: 2. Waltz (Tempo di valse)
She remembers this from ballet class—she quit because she wasn’t the best student there, and misses it sometimes—and listens to it often.

 

Buy the book:

Scarlett Epstein Hates It Here

Blog Tour: In Real Life by Jessica Love

Welcome to Midsummer’s stop on the In Real Life blog tour! Below you will find an excerpt from the novel AND the spotify playlist provided by the author.

First, let me tell you a little bit about the book:

Hannah Cho and Nick Cooper have been best friends since 8th grade. They talk for hours on the phone, regularly shower each other with presents, and know everything there is to know about one another.

There’s just one problem: Hannah and Nick have never actually met.

Hannah has spent her entire life doing what she’s supposed to, but when her senior year spring break plans get ruined by a rule-breaker, she decides to break a rule or two herself. She impulsively decides to road trip to Las Vegas, her older sister and BFF in tow, to surprise Nick and finally declare her more-than-friend feelings for him.

Hannah’s surprise romantic gesture backfires when she gets to Vegas and finds out that Nick has been keeping some major secrets. Hannah knows the real Nick can’t be that different from the online Nick she knows and loves, but now she only has night in Sin City to figure out what her feelings for Nick really are, all while discovering how life can change when you break the rules every now and then.

Release Date: March 1, 2016 **Hot off the press**

Check out a short excerpt!

CREDIT: In Real Life by Jessica Love; Courtesy of Thomas Dunne Books

 

Did you love the excerpt? Well, be sure to listen to the author’s spotify playlist that was created especially for you.

(My personal favorites from the playlist: Edge of Desire by John Mayer, Ghost Under Rocks by Ra Ra Riot, You and I by Ingrid Michaelson)

 

 

My copy is already on the way, get yours now!

Book Trailer Release

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arrowsA modern cupid story set in present-day Wisconsin combining the fantastical elements
of Greek mythology with the contemporary drama of MTV’s Teen Mom. 

People don’t understand love. If they did, they’d get why dance prodigy Karma Clark just can’t say goodbye to her boyfriend, Danny. No matter what he says or does or how he hurts her, she can’t stay angry with him . . . and can’t stop loving him. But there’s a reason why Karma is helpless to break things off: she’s been shot with a love arrow.

Aaryn, son of Cupid, was supposed to shoot both Karma and Danny but found out too late that the other arrow in his pack was useless. And with that, Karma’s life changed forever. One pregnancy confirmed. One ballet scholarship lost. And dream after dream tossed to the wind.

A clueless Karma doesn’t know that her toxic relationship is Aaryn’s fault . . . but he’s going to get a chance to make things right. He’s here to convince Danny to man up and be there for Karma. But what if this god from Mount Olympus finds himself falling in love with a beautiful dancer from Wisconsin who can never love him in return?

Release Date: January 26, 2016 from Delacorte Press

“This tale of Cupid meets teen mom is unique . . . for fans of fantasy fiction and mythology, such as Aimee Carter’s ‘The Goddess Test’ series or Rick Riordan.”—SLJ

“A sweet high-school twist on Greek mythology with added substance about teen parenting and breaking out of a bad relationship.”—Booklist

“A great mythological take on love, heartache, and teen pregnancy.”—VOYA

You can buy this novel here:

Amazon : Barnes & Noble

melissaauthor

Melissa Gorzelanczyk is a former magazine editor and columnist who believes love is everything. She is a proud member of the SCBWI, The Sweet Sixteens and the Class of 2k16.

She lives in Green Bay, Wisconsin, with her husband and family.

Follow Melissa on social media!

Website : Twitter : Instagram : Facebook

 

Here’s the book trailer!

 

 

Giveaway!

Must be 13+ To Enter | Ships in US only.

Please see terms and conditions for full contest rules. Some restrictions apply.

1 Winner will get an amazing Arrows Valentine includes:
– Signed hardcover of the book
– Stella & Dot arrow wishing bracelet – “Adventure awaits. This Arrow bracelet is the perfect reminder to fulfill your dreams.”
– The official Arrows makeup bag by Gracie Designs
– A Valentine from the author

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