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Results 1 - 25 of 829
1. Review: How It Went Down

How It Went Down by Kekla Magoon. Henry Holt. 2014. Review copy.


How It Went DownThe Plot: Tariq Johnson, sixteen, dies from two gunshots fired by by Jack Franklin. Tariq is black; Jack is white.

There are many people who know Tariq, who know Jack. Who saw them before the shooting and after. Each has a their own story to tell, about what they know.

The Good: There is an old saying, that for every two people there are three sides to their story. Their versions, and the truth.

The problem, of course, is figuring out what that truth is and is not.

Here, there are those who say that Tariq was just a teen with a chocolate bar. And others who say he had a weapon. And some that say that Jack was justified. And others who say it was murder.

How It Went Down is told in many voices, friends, family, acquaintances. It's the story of Tariq's life and death and the aftermath, but we also find out about the lives of those who in telling Tariq's story tell their own. What I like about these multiple narratives is it doesn't give any answers of what really happened. It's up to the reader to decide who is right -- but the thing is, it's clear that everyone is right. Or, rather, everyone believes that they are right in what they know, what they saw, and what they believed.

And it's not just the shooting of Tariq, and whether or not it's the self defense that Jack claims. It's also whether, as the story unfolds, Jack's claim of self defense is made in part not because of anything that Tariq did or did not do but because Tariq was a black teenager and so Jack assumed and believed things about Tariq. And along with that is how the others react to Jack's claims, including the police who release him. And then the community reaction, because a black teenager is dead and the white shooter is released.

From the start, the reader knows that Tariq is dead. Knowing that doesn't lessen the impact of this death, or feeling the sorrow and grief of his family and friends. It does make one wish "if only, if only." And while this will be a good book discussion book because it allows for the readers to say what they believe happened, it's also a good book discussion book because it allows the reader to take a closer look at their own beliefs. Who do they believe? And why?

How does one's own perspective influence their memory? What they see? And what they believe?








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© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy

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2. Review: Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli. Balzer + Bray an imprint of HarperCollins 2015. Review copy from publisher. YALSA Morris Award Finalist.



The Plot: Simon, sixteen, is being blackmailed by Martin. See, Simon didn't totally log out of his email account on a school computer so when Martin sat down he saw them. And read them. And made copies.

So, Martin is threatening to tell everyone that Simon is gay. Simon hasn't even told his closest friends. The only person who knows is the person on the other end of Martin's email conversations, someone named Blue. Who Simon knows better than anyone else -- the only thing Simon doesn't know about Blue is what his real name is.

The Good: This is one of those books where I started off not liking Simon that much. No, really. About page thirty I put this down and eye-rolled because I found him just too self absorbed and immature and annoying.

And then I picked it up again, because I'd committed myself to YALSA's Morris challenge to read all the finalists before Midwinter, and something clicked. And instead of having no patience with Simon I instead began laughing with him, and seeing his insecurities, and loving his loyalty, and shaking my head in sympathy at his self-absorption.

Simon is about Simon, of course -- he's the one telling the story, and it's his emails with Blue that are shared. It's not just being blackmailed by Martin - oh, by the way, Martin's purpose of the blackmail? Martin likes Abby, and Simon is friends with Abby, so Martin wants Simon to help things along with Abby. Except that Simon doesn't like being blackmailed by Martin, and Abby is a good friend, and he thinks Abby likes Nick. Nick has been Simon's friend since forever, along with Leah, and Leah and Abby do not get along.

And then there is Blue, and all Simon knows is that Blue goes to his school, but other than that no details to know who Blue is. Blue, like Simon, is gay; and Blue, like Simon, hasn't told anyone. Not yet. As Simon says early on, "maybe it would be different if we lived in New York, but I don't know how to be gay in Georgia. We're right outside Atlanta, so I know it could be worse. But Shady Creek isn't exactly a progressive paradise."

Later, Simon thinks about coming out and how it's this big thing and how he doesn't want to say anything, at least not yet, not because he is afraid or worried about how his family and friends will react, but because it's a thing. "Don't you think everyone should come out? Why is straight the default? Everyone should declare one way or another, and it should be this big awkward thing whether you're straight, gay, bi, or whatever."

Of course, Simon is trying to figure out who Blue really is. And thinking about the cute boys at his school. And dealing with his friends' drama (Nick and Leah and Abby). And then there are his parents, which at first I worried about because of the gay jokes his Dad makes, but what is wonderful about Simon is it shows that all his dad is doing is making dumb Dad jokes and while it bothers Simon it small-b bothers him, not big-B bothers him. His family is supportive and close, and at times too close and overbearing, but at all times loving. It's a great book family.

I'm glad I didn't let my initial irritation with Simon turn this into a do-not-finish; I'm glad that I gave the whole book, and the whole Simon, a chance. Because both Simon and Simon are terrific, and thanks to the Morris committee for selecting this title and the YALSA Hub challenge for making me read it.

Oh, and my favorite scene is the one where Simon gets drunk. That's all I'm saying, but it's so cute and delightful and funny.






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© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy

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3. Review: Everything, Everything

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon. Delacorte Press, 2015. Reviewed from ARC.

book_cover.jpgThe Plot: Maddy, 18, is a girl who hasn't left home in years. She has Severe Combined Immunodeficiency, which is a fancy way of saying she is allergic to everything. Her house has to be kept a sterile, few people are allowed in, and all she knows of the world is what she read or what she watches.

One of the things she watches is the house next door and the new family, including a boy, Olly, her age. A friendship develops, and maybe something more, as Maddy has to decide what her future will be and whether she will always be afraid of the world.

The Good: Maddy's father and brother died while she was still an infant, before her illness was diagnosed. For years, it's only been her mother, a doctor, and a nurse who also her friend and confidant.

Olly. Olly is a fresh breath and their relationship is slow and sweet (though Olly would probably hate that!). It begins with handwritten signs and progresses to texts and emails until Maddy begs her nurse to please, please, please let Olly visit her. He'll follow all the rules, they both promise.

One thing leads to another, and Maddy is tempted to do the unthinkable. To kiss Olly. To leave her home. To venture into a world that may kill her.

This is a terrific story of a girl get wrapped up and safe; it's a story of a mother and daughter who are close and loving, whose past tragedies have made them dependent on each other and close. It's a story of a girl who has to take a chance with life and love. It's about whether what is safe is the best; about when it's OK to take a chance. And it's also a book with a diverse main character (half African American, half Japanese American) in a type of book that is usually all white main characters with, at best, diverse side kicks/best friends.

SPOILERS.

It's also about how tragedy can shape a person, both mother and daughter. And how far a mother will go to protect someone she loves, to protect her child. All I'll say is that, Maddy's life is not what she thinks. That secret, that spoiler, meant that some people really did not like the book (see the Disability in Kidlit review). That spoiler didn't change how I viewed the book, it simply shifted it for me -- that the book was not about one thing, but was actually about another.

And that other thing, it's disturbing. It shifts how Maddy sees and interacts with the world. And it also makes one think about what causes hurt and what causes harm.









Amazon Affiliate. If you click from here to Amazon and buy something, I receive a percentage of the purchase price.

© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy

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4. Review: The Great Greene Heist

The Great Greene Heist by Varian Johnson. Arthur A. Levine Books, 2014. Review from library copy.

Great Greene Heist, TheThe Plot: Jackson Green has a reputation for cons and schemes, like his brother and grandfather before him. His father has taken the family talent to work on the side of good. But after getting caught in the principal's office, kissing a girl -- well.

That's all behind him. Eighth grade will be different.

Until he finds out that the Gaby de la Cruz, the girl he likes, is running for school president. And that the election may be rigged -- against her. And that the person running against her may be doing it to get rid of most of the school clubs.

What's a guy to do?

Oh, and the girl he was caught kssing? Wasn't Gaby.

The Good: I love a good con! Movies like Ocean's 11 and TV shows like Leverage, and book series like Heist Society.

The Great Greene Heist is set in middle school, and at it's heart the interests of Jackson and his friends (and enemies) are those of other eighth graders: school elections, clubs, friends, family. It's familiar, in the best possible way.

One thing that makes a good con story, for me, at least, is that the people pulling off the con are on the side of good. Or, at least, against the bad. Here, Jackson wants Gaby to win the election and it's pretty clear from page one that a, Gaby is the better person, and b, forces are against her to manipulate her opponent winning.

Also, while Jackson has a well-earned reputation, it's also -- well, things done for the greater good. Things done because they are fun. And it's not about cheating - even though the accusation is made. I say that not as a spoiler, but because to me, it matters whether or not Jackson's cons are things like cheating on tests or engaging in illegal acts. Often, it's just about doing things because they are fun, or because it's a clever puzzle, or because Jackson is the type who thinks a few steps ahead of those around him.

Other things that are good: while this is Jackson's story, it's also about an ensemble. He gathers a group of friends around him to pull of his latest caper, and they're a diverse bunch of kids. It's a reflection of the real-life classrooms of the kids who will be reading, and loving, this book.

And yes, it's a Favorite Book Read in 2015.


Amazon Affiliate. If you click from here to Amazon and buy something, I receive a percentage of the purchase price.

© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy

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5. Not If I See You First: Review

This is the sort of book where it would have received a higher rating if this was my sort of book. It’s a quality book. It’s very well written and well paced, the characters are fully fleshed out, believable, and flawed, and there are lessons to be learned and hearts to be broken and mended. It’s just not really a Kim book, and I didn’t really know that going into it. I can like contemporaries when they’re romantic and mostly cutesy (with some gravity thrown in for balance). I am saying this so you know to take my rating with a grain of salt. I think usual fans of contemporaries will really like this one! In actuality, this is a lot different than I thought it would be. I thought this was going to be a book about broken hearts and second chances and slowly learning to come back together.... Read more »

The post Not If I See You First: Review appeared first on The Midnight Garden.

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6. Review: Read Between the Lines

Read Between the Lines by Jo Knowles. Candlewick Press. 2015. Reviewed from ARC.

Read Between the LinesThe Plot: Ten chapters takes us to one day in the life of a high school, told through voices of past and present students and one teacher.

In each, a raised middle finger is part of the story. It gives power to the person giving someone the finger; it hurts the person who it's aimed at.

And in each, we see how a person looks at others and judges them; or how they look at themselves.

OK for those who want more of a plot: a group of boys think it's smart and clever to fake car accidents to get people to give them cash instead of calling the police -- until it backfires.

The Good; I love this type of book! I love that each chapter is told by someone different, and it's their own story, and that the thread connecting them is sometimes obvious and strong, and other times takes a bit to figure out.

And I love that there are ten chapters; one for each finger.

I love that a bullied boy becomes empowered by his broken finger that means he is constantly giving the finger; but before we embrace the idea that hey, it's not so bad, a girl is disturbed and upset when an angry man gives her the finger. The finger means rage, anger, hatred, rebellion. It's like a word: context matters.

I love that sometimes someone is viewed as a bully and then it turns out they have their own inner demons or frustrations that others don't see. If there were a moral to this story, it's that everyone is fighting their own internal battles, and be a bit less quick to judge.

Also, if your teenage son has a lot of spending money and his old car keeps getting dinged and battered, you may want to ask a few questions.

A Favorite Book for 2015.

 Amazon Affiliate. If you click from here to Amazon and buy something, I receive a percentage of the purchase price.

© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy

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7. Review: The Boy in the Black Suit

The Boy in the Black Suit by Jason Reynolds. Atheneum Books for Young Readers. 2015. Reviewed from ARC.

Boy-in-the-black-suit-9781442459502_hr
The Plot: Everything has been different since Matt's mom died. It's his senior year of high school, but her loss makes him feel like a stranger. His father isn't coping.

Matt's done well in school, so he has half-days. He was supposed to do a work-study program, but, well, with his mom dying he wasn't in school so he lost his place. Still, he needs a job to fill up his time and to earn money to help his dad out.

At first when his neighbor Mr. Ray offers a job in his funeral home, Matt thinks "no way." He finds a strange sort of comfort in seeing the sorrow of others. Then he meets Lovey, who has lost her mother and now her grandmother, and it makes him rethink how he's been living, and how he's been grieving.

The Good: What is so frustrating about The Boy in the Black Suit is it sounds like a dead parent book. And, I guess, it is. Matt's mom has just died, and he that loss, her loss, is shattering, and part of this book is how he lives through that. But it's so much more than that, including funny and romantic.

Matt is an only child, and his parents were very much still in love, and his father takes his wife's loss badly. He starts drinking and ends up in the hospital, leaving Matt alone. Matt isn't really alone: there is his best friend, Chris, who proves to be a good friend by not treating Matt any different. And there is Mr. Ray, who Matt thought of as the old guy neighbor and who now becomes a mentor. And then there is Lovey....

I don't want to say Matt is happy when he sees others cry and break at a loved one's funeral. Instead, it makes him feel less alone in his own loss. It's cathartic. And Mr. Ray understands; he's had his own losses. Matt's dad and Mr. Ray show Matt ways of grieving, and then Lovey shows him another -- a way that mourns while celebrating. Matt falls for Lovey, but also sees another way forward.

Also good: The Boy in the Black Suit is set in Brooklyn, and there's a mix of people, from Matt's family and their brownstone to Chris's family in an apartment building. Matt describes his family as "I went from a not-so-fancy version of the Cosbys to a one-man family." Chris is being raised by a single mother; Lovey, by her grandmother. It's a variety of people and backgrounds, all in one same neighborhood.

Chris's mother is dead before the book begins, but her spirit and love is on every page. One thing his mom had done (even before she knew she had cancer) was to create a notebook of recipes, which she called "The Secret of Getting Girls, for Matty." It's partly a family joke, that girls like guys who cook. And it's partly her love for her son. And it's partly her saying Matty, yes, you need to know how to cook, for you. This notebook is lurking around, and part of the sweetness of this book is how Matt moves from living off fast food and take out, even though he knows how to cook and his this book, to being able to open the notebook without his heart breaking.



 Amazon Affiliate. If you click from here to Amazon and buy something, I receive a percentage of the purchase price.

© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy

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8. Review: Kissing Ted Callahan

Kissing Ted Callahan (and Other Guys) by Amy Spalding. Poppy. 2015. Reviewed from ARC.

Kissing Ted Callahan (and Other Guys)The Plot: Riley and Reid walk in on our their band mates Lucy and Nathan -- to their surprise, Lucy and Nathan are together. Together-together.

Riley is stunned, especially because Lucy is her best friend and Lucy never said a word. Riley and Reid both resolve to pursue love (and kissing and maybe even sex), and to share each detail, and to help each other out.

The top of Riley's list is her crush, Ted Callahan; Reid's is Jane.

How successful is their plan? Well, there will be kissing. Of Ted Callahan, and other guys.

The Good: This is primarily Riley's story, but because Riley and Reid share notes and progress reports and suggestions in a Passenger Manifest journal, and part of that is written by Reid, it's both their stories.

Kissing Ted Callahan is about Riley shaking herself into action. Oh, she's hardly passive. Her goal is rock star, so her time has been taken up with the band. And her best friend is Lucy, and she's friends with Reid and Nathan, but she's been satisfied, kind of, with that.

Riley isn't satisfied anymore. And confiding in Reid, instead of her usual Lucy, helps push her to do things like offer Ted Callahan a ride home. Or kiss Garrick. Or call the number of the cute boy she met at the CD store. Riley goes from zero love interests to three. Kissing Ted Callahan is about Riley (and Reid) navigating teen age dating, figuring out the difference between like and love and lust and love, wondering just what is right to tell someone if there isn't any real commitment yet.

Reid's story in some ways mirrors Riley's The first girl he pursues turns out to already have a boyfriend, and Riley doesn't really make the connection to her own situation. The next girl is -- well, it's a bit funny, because Reid makes a list of potential girls. Ones who talk to him, ones he likes, who has potential? Unlike Riley, he's not acting on a crush. It's more that he wants someone, and there is something very sweet and likable in how he keeps himself open to any possibility rather than requiring a crush first. It's also very honorable that he pursues a girl he likes being with, ignoring that his friends don't really like her.

At one point, rather late in the story, their Passenger Manifest goes missing and Riley and Reid have to deal with the consequences. For Riley, that ends up being the consequences of not having conversations and not talking. Kissing and sex may create a connection but it doesn't replace talking. Yes, there is a sex scene,  butwhile Riley may be kissing three boys there is only one that she really likes. No, I won't say who.

What's nice about the emphasis on communication is that it is clear from the beginning that Riley's failure at spoken honesty, and desire to not confront, isn't something that just happens with boys. Remember Lucy? Part of what drives the whole book is Riley's continuing inability to talk with her best friend, Lucy. Part of Riley's growth is realizing she has to have the tough conversations, whether it's about the status of a friendship or of a relationship.

I also like how this explores attraction and relationships (both friendship and more), and that Riley (and Tom and Garrick and Milo) is not just about who she is dating or kissing but is about creating real friendships and how those friendships are made. Lucy, Riley, and Reid have known each other since kindergarten and those types of friendships sometimes means someone has a hard time making new friends -- they don't have the skills. Riley is developing those skills, though admittedly mainly because she is seeking a boy. And mainly because she assumes that Lucy's changed relationship with Nathan means that Lucy's friendship with Riley is different.

Finally! It's also about a band, and I loved how being part of the band is used for the story, from being what ties Riley and her friends together, to her passions and interests, and also the time it takes outside of school. Their dedication is clear.

One final thing: this may be a spoiler, so stop reading if any type of spoiler bothers you. This is not the type of book where Riley looks at her good friend Reid and sees him in a different light while he has an unrequited crush. This is about two people who are friends, whose friendship grows stronger but whose friendship remains a friendship.




Amazon Affiliate. If you click from here to Amazon and buy something, I receive a percentage of the purchase price.

© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy

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9. Review: Infandous

Infandousby Elana K. Arnold. Carolrhoda LAB. 2015. Review from ARC.


The Plot: It's the summer before senior year, and Sephora Golding is 17. She lives in a one bedroom apartment with her mother, still model beautiful, and young -- only 35.

Seph is figuring out her way to adulthood. She's going to summer school because she failed geometry. She's considering her well off aunt's offer to move across the country for her final year of school. She's working on her art, and has a few pieces around Venice Beach. She's resisting her mother's suggestion that she get a part time job. And she's trying not to think about Felix, the older man she met earlier this year --

Felix. Who she is trying not to think about. Older, handsome, and it was her choice to spend the night with him....

The Good: A terrific book, with so much packed into it.

Sephora is telling us her story, but is also telling us fairy tales and myths, stories of lost girls and terrible things. She is telling us her own story, warning us that in real life fairy tales don't have happy-ever-after endings. She is telling us her own story  . . . . eventually.

Seph's story is of a girl born to a beautiful, single, teen mother who has made her own way in the world. Her own way is this rundown one bedroom apartment, going to night school. But here is one of the great things about Infandous: yes, it's the story of a girl with a beautiful mother. And a family that is living paycheck to paycheck. And it's also the story of a parent and child who love each other very much. There is no jealousy or hatred. And Seph doesn't complain, isn't bitter about where they live or how they make do.

But Seph is trying to figure out herself, her sexuality, her desire, and the person she has to measure herself against is a beautiful mother who still turns heads. And while she loves her aunt and her cousins, she sees what they have and thinks about how, when her mother was pregnant and unwed and disowned by her parents, her aunt picked her parents and didn't fight for her sister or her sister's child.

And meeting Felix -- meeting Felix was a chance for Seph to try out a different persona. So she said her name was Annie and that she was nineteen and a college student, adding years to her age. And she went to bed with him, willing and eager. "No one held a knife to my rib cage," she assures us. "I put myself in that room." And at the time, she thinks how different it is with Felix than with the other boys she'd been with, that there was warmth, that "I was a flower and I opened, I softened, and I ripened and warmed. I felt, I thought, like a woman rather than a girl, and as he found his way inside me, I wondered -- fleetingly -- if this was what sex was like for my mother." But now, with distance and knowledge, she is cold. And wonders about fault.

Seph is figuring out her life, and her friendships, and her own needs and feelings. Things happen, in life, like in fairy tales -- and you can decide what to do with that, with what happens to you. A person can be damaged, but a person can remain whole. And this perhaps is what I liked best about Infandous: that love cannot save one. And that bad things happen, or people do bad things, but one can still have that love that while it doesn't save, it keeps one whole.









Amazon Affiliate. If you click from here to Amazon and buy something, I receive a percentage of the purchase price.

© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy

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10. The Rest of Us Just Live Here: Review

It finally happened. A book was special enough, funny enough, heartfelt enough, and just downright good enough to break the spell. My awful slump might be officially over; and it’s all thanks to Patrick Ness’ sly, hilarious, wry, and absolutely on point observations on growing up and what it means to move on. What is this book even about? It’s hard to pigeonhole this one into a genre! It’s sort of fantasy, sort of paranormal, sort of sci-fi…but it’s not really any of those things. There are definite supernatural happenings going on in the background. But this is very purposefully a book that is not about those happenings. The point is that there are regular, ordinary (well,for the most part) citizens who are just trying to continue going about their lives, even in the midst of very obvious supernatural turmoil. This book is about the ordinary people who just keep... Read more »

The post The Rest of Us Just Live Here: Review appeared first on The Midnight Garden.

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11. What We Left Behind: Review

What We Left Behind was one of my most anticipated reads of 2015. Ever since I heard more about Robin Talley’s latest book back at BEA in May, I’d been incredibly excited to get my hands on it. I thought Talley’s debut novel – about an interracial teen couple during the Civil Rights Movement – was beautifully written, even if I had some issues with the way the relationship between the two women played out. What We Left Behind – about how the relationship between a self-identified lesbian and her genderqueer partner changes once they both make the shift from high school to college – sounded great to me. Books with queer characters! Relationship feels! A protagonist who IDs as genderqueer! I love all of it; bring it on. But … now that I’ve finished? If there were more novels (young adult and adult alike) that dealt amazingly with non-binary gender identities, I think I’d... Read more »

The post What We Left Behind: Review appeared first on The Midnight Garden.

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12. Monday Mishmash 10/19/15


Happy Monday! Monday Mishmash is a weekly meme dedicated to sharing what's on your mind. Feel free to grab the button and post your own Mishmash.

Here's what's on my mind today:
  1. My Bio Couldn't Be More True  The first line of my bio reads that I fully admit to being the most accident-prone person in the world. I truly am. Let me recap last week for you. Saturday evening (after YA Fest) I cut my hand on the rounded edge of my countertop. Yes, rounded edge. Sunday, I got hit in the head with the mega-sized plug from our giant air conditioning unit as my husband carried it up to the attic. I now have a bump on my forehead. Friday night I fell down the stairs and hurt my arm. The X-rays didn't show a break but because of the amount of swelling, the doctor thinks I may have a hairline fracture that only an MRI would see. Still, no need for a cast. So yeah, my bio is spot-on.
  2. Good News I Can't Share Yet  In the midst of my awful week, I got good news. I can't share yet, but I'm very excited. :)
  3. Editing  I have three books on my plate to edit over the next two weeks. And I'm typing one-handed because of my arm. Eek!
  4. New Adult Scavenger Hunt  I'm (as Ashelyn Drake) on Team Blue for the New Adult Scavenger Hunt. Yay! These are always a lot of fun.
  5. Alien MG Submissions for Seek  I got some great alien MG submissions during my open Twitter pitch last week. It's going to be tough picking just one out of these.
That's it for me. What's on your mind today?

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13. Monday Mishmash 10/5/15


Happy Monday! Monday Mishmash is a weekly meme dedicated to sharing what's on your mind. Feel free to grab the button and post your own Mishmash.

Here's what's on my mind today:
  1. Our Little Secret Feature and Review Opportunity  Limitless Books is organizing a feature and review opportunity for bloggers. We're looking for people to feature the book and possibly review it on November 6th. If that's you, sign up here.
  2. Editing  I'm editing for Seek this week. I have two books on my plate and both are amazing.
  3. Revising  I have an emotional hangover from revising an Ashelyn Drake new adult title last week. Seriously all the feels! This week, I'll be revising another Ashelyn title, and it's adult. I'm still getting used to the fact that I wrote for adults.
  4. Reminder to All Readers  I want to remind everyone to please, please, pretty please review the books you read. I'm so grateful for every review that pops up on Amazon. Yes, even the not-so-stellar ones. Why? Because reviews get Amazon's attention and then Amazon makes the book more visible to readers. So please, if you love books, help the book community by posting a review.
  5. The Case of the Washed-Up Warlock  I'm so excited to announce that the first book I edited for Leap will releases today! It's a great middle grade book by Patrice Lyle and it's absolutely gorgeous too. up tomorrow. Order it here.

    That's it for me. What's on your mind today?

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14. Monday Mishmash 9/21/15


Happy Monday! Monday Mishmash is a weekly meme dedicated to sharing what's on your mind. Feel free to grab the button and post your own Mishmash.

Here's what's on my mind today:
  1. Revisions  This weekend I finished revisions on one of my YA titles. It was fun to revisit a book I haven't looked at in a while.
  2. Editing  I have client edits to work on this week. No surprise there. ;)
  3. School Pictures  I'm helping out with school pictures tomorrow. It's always fun to see the kids all dressed up.
  4. Leap Submissions  I'm hoping to get through some Leap submissions this week. With upcoming releases, they've been getting pushed to the back burner.
  5. Our Little Secret Blog Tour  This week is the blog tour through Inkslinger PR. So far, my little book is holding its own out there. I'm hoping the tour will help spread the word even more.
That's it for me. What's on your mind today?

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15. Friday Feature: Our Little Secret



“Is there a difference between a secret and a lie?”

Now you can find out!

Our Little Secret released on Tuesday and is now available in both print and ebook!



“Is there a difference between a secret and a lie?”

Becca Daniels needs a passing math grade…but what she wants is to spend more time with Toby Michaels. 

The only problem is Toby is her best friend’s twin, and Tori has a very firm “no dating the brother” policy. 

But Becca’s grade has hit rock bottom and she needs a tutor. It just so happens that Toby is a math genius and more than happy to help—lucky her! Working so closely with the handsome, popular Toby, Becca can’t hide her attraction, and it soon becomes obvious he feels the same way. 

Becca doesn’t want to lose her best friend, but she isn’t willing to give up Toby either. 

At first, sneaking around is fun, stealing kisses right under Tori’s nose. But things take an ugly turn when Toby’s ex-girlfriend Meredith catches them together. Meredith demands Toby take her back and restore her reputation, or she’ll tell Tori their secret. Do they dare tell Tori the truth? Or would that just make things worse? 

Surrounded by secrets and knee-deep in deception, something has to give… 

How far is Meredith willing to go to keep Toby and Becca apart? 

And how much is Becca willing to risk to keep… 

Our Little Secret?





Add the book on Goodreads and order it on Amazon or B&N.





And to celebrate, I'm giving away an Our Little Secret SWAG pack, complete with pencils, stickers, an Our Little Secret folder, and trading cards. Enter on the rafflecopter below. Good luck!

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16. Review: Corset Diaries

The Corset Diariesby Katie MacAlister. NAL. 2004. Library Copy.

The Corset DiariesThe Plot: Tessa gets a weird call from a good friend -- an opportunity to make a lot of money. Is your hair still long? Do you have a valid passport?

Thanks to an old friend, she has the chance to be in a historical reality TV show, A Month in the Life of a Victorian Duke. She'll play the American heiress wife.

What could possibly go wrong?

The Good: What could possibly go wrong?

Tessa is doubtful that she is really the ideal person to play the role of Duchess: she's 39, she's not skinny (do not tell anyone she is a size 18) and corsets, really? But the money would help give her chance to pay debts occurred from her late husband's medical bills. Plus, it may be kind of fun, right?

But who can have fun in a corset?

I laughed a lot at The Corset Diaries, at Tessa's trying to stay on-script while having a hard time with eighteenth century manners, servants, and, yes, clothes.

Plus, romance! Max is the man playing the Duke. He's five years younger than Tessa, which Tessa thinks is too big a difference ("when I was a ripe, womanly twenty, . . . he was a spotty, adolescent fifteen. . . . In dog years, our age difference is thirty-five years.") And she may have accidently thrown up on his shoes when they first met.

Bottom line: a funny, hot romance with an older man and younger woman? And a story where they actually give a size to her shape? (No, seriously, usually body may be talked about with words like "curves" and "voluptuous" but it's refreshing to have an actual number mentioned). Plus tons of historical clothes and manners, with a modern attitude?

Yes, please!




Amazon Affiliate. If you click from here to Amazon and buy something, I receive a percentage of the purchase price.

© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy

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17. Monday Mishmash 9/14/15


Happy Monday! Monday Mishmash is a weekly meme dedicated to sharing what's on your mind. Feel free to grab the button and post your own Mishmash.

Here's what's on my mind today:
  1. Our Little Secret Releases Tomorrow!!!  I can't believe tomorrow is release day. I'm SO excited. I love this book so much, and it's so incredibly beautiful in person. You can order it on Amazon or B&N.
  2. Scholastic Book Fair  I'll be helping out with the Scholastic Book Fair today through Thursday at my daughter's school. I always have fun doing these because…well, books!
  3. Drafting  As of last Friday, I'm officially drafting again. Woo hoo! Let me say that again. Woo hoo! I couldn't be happier after having to take a few months off due to my packed editing schedule. Writing feels so good!
  4. Back-to-School Night  My daughter's open house is Thursday night. I'm looking forward to meeting her teacher and learning more about third grade, which has already been killer as far as testing goes. Crazy!
  5. Our Little Secret Swag Giveaway  Stay tuned this Friday for a SWAG giveaway for Our Little Secret. The giveaway will also appear on my Ashelyn Drake blog tomorrow for release day.
That's it for me. What's on your mind today?

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18. Book Review- This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp

Title:   This is Where It Ends

Author:  Marieke Nijkamp
Series:   N/A
Published:    5th January 2016
Length:  292 pages
Source: The #TIWIEUKTour organised by Luna of Luna’s Little Library
Summary :  10:00 a.m.
The principal of Opportunity, Alabama's high school finishes her speech, welcoming the entire student body to a new semester and encouraging them to excel and achieve.

10:02 a.m.
The students get up to leave the auditorium for their next class.

10:03
The auditorium doors won't open.

10:05
Someone starts shooting.

Told over the span of 54 harrowing minutes from four different perspectives, terror reigns as one student's calculated revenge turns into the ultimate game of survival.

Review: This is the story of a school shooting, told as it happens from the perspectives of the shooter's sister Autumn, Autumn's girlfriend Sylv, Sylv's brother Tomás, and the shooter's ex-girlfriend, Claire. 
I wanted to read this because it's an amazing setup, and Marieke is brilliant on Twitter.
This was a would-be-one-sitting-if-life-didnt-get-in-the-way book.  It starts normally, setting up friendships and relationships (quite a few, and it’s a little confusing   because there’s lots of people introduced at the same time but you pick it up as you carry on)  to start with it’s just a normal school day  but after 10.05 it's full on until the end. There's books where you can't stop reading, then there's this.
I liked the multimedia approach, showing tweets, blogs, and texts from those involved and on the outside. The helplessness of everyone on the outside comes through, and I liked the way Marieke showed how tragedy doesn’t just affect those there.
Emotions. All the emotions for everyone. Particularly on page 212 of the proof, where one character slips into the conditional and that’s one of the most heartbreaking parts in the book (there's a few). But everywhere you see characters you know and don't know and fear for them and need to know what's going to happen.
I think the biggest thing about this book for me is how immediate it is. I’m  someone who’s grown up in the UK, where the last school shooting happened in 1996, before I was born, and was followed by pressure groups and the banning of handguns. As a result, when we hear of things like this happening, it’s horrifying and upsetting but you still feel distanced because, despite knowing that this could happen anywhere, living in the UK with its strict gun control laws makes it  harder to imagine a society where there’s the possibility of something like this happening and you practise what to do if it does, despite knowing that this is some people’s reality.
 TIWIE does one of the things I like most about reading contemporary/realistic fiction: make different situations real. The fully diverse cast of victims, survivors, and shooter is developed, and we see their dreams, their experiences, and lives. We see the people involved as people, not just names in a news report, which is, I think, why TIWIE is so hard hitting.


Overall:  Strength 5 tea to one of the most intense books I've ever read.


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19. Review: Goodbye Stranger

Goodbye Stranger affectingly and realistically tells the intertwining stories of three young teenagers navigating the confusing and tumultuous time of early adolescence. Bridge, an accident survivor is looking for meaning on why she’s still here. Sherm is dealing with the aftershock of a family betrayal. And an unnamed 9th grader (written in a surprisingly effective second person) is grappling with a potentially friendship-ending mistake. The story is about how life gets so suddenly and shockingly complicated in middle school. And it is about how teens deal with the newness, rawness, and intensity of their emotions. Best friends can suddenly betray. A beloved grandparent can walk out on his family. A boy can text you asking for “a picture ;)” but what does it mean? Throughout reading this book I couldn’t help pausing repeatedly to think, “Man, it is so stressful to be a teenager.” The narrative seamlessly intertwines to show... Read more »

The post Review: Goodbye Stranger appeared first on The Midnight Garden.

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20. Friday Feature: Trail of Secrets Cover Reveal


This week the cover of Trail of Secrets by Laura Wolfe was revealed. Check it out:

Trail of Secrets, by Laura Wolfe
Fire and Ice YA (Coming August/September 2015)

Spending three weeks of her summer at the elite Foxwoode Riding Academy in northern Michigan should have been one of the happiest times of sixteen year-old Brynlei’s life. But from the moment Brynlei arrives at Foxwoode, she can’t shake the feeling she’s being watched. Then she hears the story of a girl who vanished on a trail ride four years earlier. While the other girls laugh over the story of the dead girl who haunts Foxwoode, Brynlei senses that the girl—or her ghost—may be lurking in the shadows.

Brynlei’s quest to reveal the truth interferes with her plan to keep her head down and win Foxwoode’s coveted “Top Rider” award. To make things worse, someone discovers Brynlei’s search for answers and will go to any length to stop her. As Brynlei begins to unravel the facts surrounding the missing girl’s disappearance, she is faced with an impossible choice. Will she protect a valuable secret? Or save a life?

Age level:  13-18
www.AuthorLauraWolfe.com

Check out the trailer:


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21. Monday Mishmash 8/17/15


Happy Monday! Monday Mishmash is a weekly meme dedicated to sharing what's on your mind. Feel free to grab the button and post your own Mishmash.

Here's what's on my mind today:
  1. Our Little Secret Is Up for Pre-Order!  Guys, I'm SO excited for this book. You have no idea. The pre-order went up last Friday and it's only $3.99, which makes me happy. You can pre-order your copy here
  2. Seek's Open Submissions Period Is Over  My open submissions period has ended. I want to thank everyone who queried me. I have two acquisitions I'll be sharing soon and I have four full manuscripts on my Kindle waiting for me to make decisions on. On Wednesday, I'll share some tips from what I saw in my query inbox. Be sure to come back for that.
  3. Editing  With life getting back to normal after open submissions, I'll be editing for clients again this week.
  4. Writing  Finding writing time has been tricky lately. I had to stop working on a novella, but I'm hoping to get back to it by the end of the week. Fingers crossed.
  5. Vacations  This summer we didn't get to go on the vacation we wanted, so we are planning a trip to Aruba for next summer. I know it's a long time from now, but I'm already excited.
That's it for me. What's on your mind today?

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22. What We Saw: Review

If What We Saw isn’t already on your radar for September 2015 releases, it should be. I can’t say that I enjoyed it – the book, for the most part, centers on the rape of a high school student by a group of her peers and its effect on her community – but it’s a good book and an important one, and you should read it. If you’ve ever wanted a book that unpacks and critiques rape culture, What We Saw is here and it’s a good start. Here’s the premise of What We Saw: high school junior Kate Weston wakes up the morning after a party with little memory of what happened the night before. While Kate’s concerns are initially about herself (did she drive herself home? Is her car across town? Does Ben Cody, longtime good friend and fellow scholar-athlete, like her?), her focus quickly shifts. The next day at... Read more »

The post What We Saw: Review appeared first on The Midnight Garden.

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23. Friday Feature: Hot Pink in the City


HOT PINK IN THE CITY, Prizm Books/Torquere Press
Release Date: August 19, 2015
Ebook
Purchase from PrizmAmazon (vendor links will be updated on the author's site)

Asma Bashir wants two things: a summer fling and her favorite '80s songs. During a trip to New York City to stay with relatives, she messes up in her pursuit of both. She loses track of the hunk she met on her airplane ride, and she does the most terrible thing she could possibly do to her strict uncle... ruin his most prized possession, a rare cassette tape.

A wild goose chase around Manhattan and Brooklyn to find a replacement tape yields many adventures -- blackmail, theft, a chance to be a TV star, and so much more. Amid all this turmoil, Asma just might be able to find her crush in the busiest, most exciting city in the world.

Find Medeia – YA and MG Author

Blog   |   Twitter   |   Goodreads   |   Instagram   |   Amazon

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24. Monday Mishmash: 8/31/15


Happy Monday! Monday Mishmash is a weekly meme dedicated to sharing what's on your mind. Feel free to grab the button and post your own Mishmash.

Here's what's on my mind today:
  1. First Day of School  My daughter went back to school today. :( I miss her already.
  2. Editing  It's probably no shock that my plate is full with edits this week.
  3. Recovering From Knee Injury  In case you didn't see my posts on FB and Twitter last week, I fell on the treadmill and now both knees look like I'm trying to audition for The Walking Dead—as a zombie of course. They're healing now, but ouch!
  4. Our Little Secret  I'm SO excited for this release on September 15. Like SO excited. I love this book, and it's gorgeous thanks to the amazing team at Limitless Publishing. I have a lot planned for the month of September to celebrate, so stay tuned.
  5. Writer Wednesday Topics  My posts from the other side of the submissions desk seem to be popular, so I thought I'd ask you if there's anything you'd like me to talk about in my Wednesday posts. What do you want to know about as far as submitting to editors?
That's it for me. What's on your mind today?

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25. Friday Feature: Next Door to a Star by Krysten Lindsay Hager


NEXT DOOR TO A STAR by Krysten Lindsay Hager
Genre: Young Adult



★ SYNOPSIS ★

Hadley Daniels is tired of feeling invisible.

After Hadley’s best friend moves away and she gets on the bad side of some girls at school, she goes to spend the summer with her grandparents in the Lake Michigan resort town of Grand Haven. Her next door neighbor is none other than teen TV star Simone Hendrickson, who is everything Hadley longs to be—pretty, popular, and famous—and she’s thrilled when Simone treats her like a friend.

Being popular is a lot harder than it looks.

It’s fun and flattering when Simone includes her in her circle, though Hadley is puzzled about why her new friend refuses to discuss her former Hollywood life. Caught up with Simone, Hadley finds herself ignoring her quiet, steadfast friend, Charlotte.

To make things even more complicated, along comes Nick Jenkins…

He’s sweet, good-looking, and Hadley can be herself around him without all the fake drama. However, the mean girls have other ideas and they fill Nick’s head with lies about Hadley, sending him running back to his ex-girlfriend and leaving Hadley heartbroken.

So when her parents decide to relocate to Grand Haven, Hadley hopes things will change when school starts…only to be disappointed once again.
Cliques. Back-stabbing. Love gone bad.

Is this really what it’s like to live…Next Door To A Star?


Excerpt:
The school year should end right after spring break, because all anyone can focus on is summer vacation. You can’t learn anything new, because all you can think about is all the fun stuff you’re going to do once you don’t have to get up at the butt crack of dawn. Summer always seems full of possibilities.

Nothing exciting ever happens during the school year, but maybe, during summer vacation, you could run into a hot celebrity and he’d decide to put you in his next music video. Okay, it wasn’t like I knew anybody that happened to, but my grandparents did live next door to a former TV star, Simone Hendrickson, and Simone was discovered in an ice cream parlor one summer. Of course, she lived in L.A. at the time and was already doing plays and commercials, so the guy who discovered her had already seen her perform. But hey, it was summer, she got discovered, and that was all that mattered.

Amazing stuff didn’t happen to me. You know what happened to me last summer? I stepped on a bee and had to go to the emergency room. They’re not going to make an E! True Hollywood Story out of my life. I didn’t go on exotic vacations—like today, I was being dragged along with my parents to my cousin’s graduation party. Most people waited until at least the end of May before having a grad party, but Charisma was having hers early because she was leaving on a trip to Spain. I was dreading this party because I didn’t want to listen to everybody talk about how smart and talented Charisma was—making me feel like a blob in comparison—but my mom RSVP’d even though I said I’d rather die than go. My death threats meant nothing. But still, for some strange reason, I had a feeling this summer was going to be different.


Krysten Lindsay Hager is an obsessive reader and has never met a bookstore she didn’t like. She’s worked as a journalist and humor essayist, and writes for teens, tweens, and adults. She is the author of the Landry’s True Colors Series and her work has been featured in USA Today and named as Amazon’s #1 Hot New Releases in Teen & Young Adult Values and Virtues Fiction and Amazon’s #1 Hot New Releases in Children’s Books on Values. She’s originally from Michigan and has lived in South Dakota, Portugal, and southwestern Ohio. She received her master’s degree from the University of Michigan-Flint.

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