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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: contemporary, Most Recent at Top [Help]
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1. 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

0 Comments on Review: Kissing Ted Callahan as of 11/25/2015 5:03:00 AM
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2. 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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3. 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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4. 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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5. 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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6. 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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7. 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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8. 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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Want your YA, NA, or MG book featured on my blog? Contact me here and we'll set it up.

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9. 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

0 Comments on Review: Corset Diaries as of 9/17/2015 5:09:00 AM
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10. 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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11. 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.

The auditorium doors won't open.

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

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


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?

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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13. 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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14. Friday Feature: Hot Pink in the City

HOT PINK IN THE CITY, Prizm Books/Torquere Press
Release Date: August 19, 2015
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

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15. 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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16. 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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17. 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

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18. 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 »

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19. Friday Feature: Don't Call Me Kit Kat

Junior high is where things really start to happen. Cliques form and break apart. Couples are made and destroyed. And a reputation is solidified that you won’t ever be able to escape. Everything you do and say, and everyone you spend your time with, matters. 

Katie Mills knows that. She gets it. That’s why she tried so hard to get in with the cool girls at school. And why she was so devastated when those efforts found her detained for shoplifting and laughed out of cheer squad tryouts. 

But Katie has more to worry about than just fitting in. Her parents are divorced and always fighting. Her sister never has time for her. And her friends all seem to be drifting apart. Even worse? The boy she has a crush on is dating the mean girl at school. 

Everything is a mess, and Katie doesn’t feel like she has control over any of it. Certainly not over her weight, which has always topped out at slightly pudgier than normal—at least, according to her mother. 

So when she happens to catch one of the popular girls throwing up in the bathroom one day, it sparks an idea. A match that quickly engulfs her life in flames. 

Is there any going back once she gets started down this path? 

And would she even want to if she could?

Find it on Amazon.

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20. Friday Feature: Decree of Hope

When insecure eighteen-year-old Kailee Hill gets caught tagging Iraq war refugee, Abrahem Yohanna’s garage, she’s not expecting him to act as her designated driver, hold her hair back when she pukes, or offer to be a shoulder to cry on. But she’s failing chemistry and her life is falling apart, so she uses the number Abe leaves her and finds herself with a new tutor.

The two quickly find themselves falling hard for each other. Kailee attacks a local grunt when he calls Abe a “sand nigger” and fights with her veteran brother to be with him. When she learns Abe hasn’t told his family about her, she’s heartbroken and the couple risks losing everything they’ve worked to build. To make matters worse, Kailee’s previous acts make her the prime suspect in a serious crime. With Kailee behind bars and doubting his feelings for her, Abe must find a way to rescue the girl he loves and win back her affection. And to do that he’ll have to catch a crook… 

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About the Author
I’m a full time ELF keeper and part time writer/blogger/writing instructor. I like my tea hot, my romance sweet, and my guys chivalrous. Real men hold open doors, refer to you as ma’am, make promises they keep, and aren’t afraid to profess their undying love. It’s not breakfast if there aren’t carbs (at least, not in the South). Fajitas, carnitas, and churros are just few of my favorite things. Bet you can’t guess where I’m from ;)
Author Links:
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21. Trade Me: Review

Hey, y’all, I have a recent New Adult book to recommend: Courtney Milan’s Trade Me. This is one I’ve been meaning to review forever, but I love Courtney Milan so much, it’s hard for me to put my feelings about her books into words sometimes. But they’re basically this: only Courtney Milan could make me love a New Adult book about billionaires. And have me anxiously making grabby hands towards the next book in the series, which I am even more excited about. End of 2015, why are you not here yet?! To be totally fair, Trade Me is about much more than billionaires and/or their secret pain, and that is probably one of the reasons that I liked it so much. When I read a book by Courtney Milan – and I have read them all, because she is one of my favorite authors and I love her, and if... Read more »

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22. Book Review- I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

Title:   I’ll Give You the Sun by
Author:  Jandy Nelson
Series:   N/A
Published:   2 April 2015 by Walker
Length:  416 pages
Source: library
Other info:  Nelson has also written The Sky is Everywhere
Summary : Jude and her twin brother, Noah, are incredibly close. At thirteen, isolated Noah draws constantly and is falling in love with the charismatic boy next door, while daredevil Jude cliff-dives and wears red-red lipstick and does the talking for both of them. But three years later, Jude and Noah are barely speaking. Something has happened to wreck the twins in different and dramatic ways . . . until Jude meets a cocky, broken, beautiful boy, as well as someone else—an even more unpredictable new force in her life. The early years are Noah's story to tell. The later years are Jude's. What the twins don't realize is that they each have only half the story, and if they could just find their way back to one another, they’d have a chance to remake their world.
Review: Jude and Noah are close twins, both aiming to get into art school, both falling in love. Then their mum dies, and the bond breaks.
From everyone else's reviews, I was hoping I'd liked this. The first chapter starts well, introducing us to a thirteen year old artist who frequently envisions paintings in his head. We learn of his aim to get into art school, an aim shared by his twin sister. The second chapter is narrated by said twin, age 16, frustrated with her art projects, and frequently referring to the advice her grandmother gave her. From then, I don't really know.
It's hard to get in to. Literary-wise, I appreciate the character consistency of painting titles and advice. Reader-wise, I found it annoying. It also took me time to work out  the  thing with Grandma and ghosts. Was it supernatural? Was it Jude's personal beliefs? I knew nothing about this book before I started beyond the near universal love from bloggers. It was quite confusing.
I didn't connect properly to the characters. This  then had a knock on effect on my overall experience of the book.
I didn't mind reading about all the interactions between Jude, Guillermo, and Oscar, and Noah and Brian. But I just didn't really care. Also, if you asked me to describe chronologically what happened, I would be totally unable to do so.
To be honest, I only had three reasons to keep reading this. One: because so many people enjoyed it, and I felt I needed to persevere. Two: I really wanted to know why Noah hadn't made it into the art school, when from the (admittedly biased because it's narrated by him) first chapter. Three (when we found out why): It was so far in to the book I may as well finish it.

Overall:  Strength two tea to a book I was hoping to enjoy, but sadly couldn't.

0 Comments on Book Review- I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson as of 6/11/2015 5:07:00 PM
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23. More Happy Than Not: Review

Adam Silvera’s More Happy Than Not hit me right in the feels. I checked this one out from the library on an impulse: I wanted to read a book with LGBTQI content, particularly one that considered intersectionality; I don’t tend to look for stories about LGBTQI-identified young men enough and I’d like to amend that; there was the hint of a sci-fi premise with the Leteo Institute’s mind-altering technology; and last, but not least, I liked the unsettling half smiley face on the color. (Hey world, if you are trying to get me to read a book here are some pro-tips on how to do it: make it queer, make it sci-fi, make me feel vaguely creeped out by the cover. I will read that book in a heartbeat.) And this impulse paid off. I read More Happy Than Not in one sitting (thank you, coffee, for making this possible) and was... Read more »

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24. Interview and Giveaway: Second Chance Summer by Jill Shalvis

Jill Shalvis dropped by the virtual offices to answer a few questions in celebration of her upcoming release, Second Chance Summer.

What’s one thing you won’t leave home without?

My Kindle!!!!!  I’m always on the run and when there’s any downtime at all, I whip that baby out and have my choice of hundreds of books right in my purse.  Smile

Name three things on your desk right now.

I don’t have a desk.  I work on a laptop.  So I’ll tell you three things on my “desk top”.  A hot guy file full of pics for writing inspiration.  A pics of my kids wrestling on the couch.  And the manuscript I’m writing…

What’s your favorite snack when you’re working on a deadline?

COOKIES. Any kind. All kinds.

If you could trade places with anyone for just one day, who would you be?

My cat.  She has the life…

You have been granted the use of one superpower for one week. Which power would you choose, and what would you do with it?

I’d want to be able to transport.  I’d go to a deserted island with my Kindle.  And cookies.

SECOND CHANCE SUMMER by Jill Shalvis (June 30, 2015; Grand Central Publishing Mass Market; Cedar Ridge #1)

Cedar Ridge, Colorado, is famous for crisp mountain air, clear blue skies, and pine-scented breezes. And it’s the last place Lily Danville wants to be. But she needs a job, and there’s an opening at the hottest resort in her hometown. What has her concerned is the other hot property in Cedar Ridge: Aidan Kincaid-firefighter, rescue worker, and heartbreaker. She never could resist that devastating smile . . .

The Kincaid brothers are as rough and rugged as the Rocky Mountains they call home. Aidan has always done things his own way, by his own rules. And never has he regretted anything more than letting Lily walk out of his life ten years ago. If anyone has ever been in need of rescuing, she has. What she needs more than anything are long hikes, slow dances, and sizzling kisses. But that can only happen if he can get her to give Cedar Ridge-and this bad boy-a second chance . . .

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About the author:

New York Times bestselling author Jill Shalvis lives in a small town in the Sierras full of quirky characters. Any resemblance to the quirky characters in her books is, um, mostly coincidental. Look for Jill’s bestselling, award-winning books wherever romances are sold and visit her website for a complete book list and daily blog detailing her city-girl-living-in-the-mountains adventures.

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“So you going to tell me what’s wrong?”

“Other than I hate snakes and you saw me in my PJs? Nothing.” She lifted her chin and defied him to contradict her.

She should have known better. Like Ashley, he’d never met a challenge he didn’t face head-on.

He moved toward her, right into her personal space.

She took a step back and came up against the wall.

This didn’t stop him. He kept his forward momentum until they were toe to toe. And then while she was still standing there a little dumbfounded and also something else, something that felt uncomfortably close to sheer, unadulterated lust, he put his hands on the wall on either side of her head.

This both escalated her heart rate and stopped her lungs from operating. “Um—”

“You had your chance to tell me what’s wrong with you,” he said. “You passed. Now I’m going to tell you what’s wrong with me.”

Oh, God. Talking would be a bad idea. As for a good idea, she had only one, and before she could consider the consequences, she gripped his shirt, hauled him down, and kissed him.

He stilled for a single beat and then got on board quick, pulling her in, sinking a hand into her hair to tilt her head to the angle he wanted, and taking over the kiss.

The next thing she was aware of was the sound of her own aroused moan, and she jerked free.

The corner of his mouth quirked. “Did you just kiss me to shut me up?” he asked.

She blew out a sigh. “It made a lot more sense in my head.”

He grinned, one of those really great grins that made something low in her belly quiver. Needing some space, she pushed him, even though her instincts were telling her

to pull him in tighter instead of pushing him away.

“Back to what’s wrong with me,” he said, still looking amused. “It’s you.”

She opened her mouth to say something, but he set a finger against her lips. “My turn,” he said, and lowered his head and kissed her.

And oh. Oh, damn… There were some men who just knew how to kiss, the kind of kiss that could send a woman reeling. The kind of kiss that could take away problems and awareness and…and everything. The kind of kiss that could shatter her into a trillion little pieces. The kind of kiss that somehow both calmed her body and soul even as it wound her up for more.

Aidan was that kind of kisser. Shocking, really, to also realize that in between their first kiss all those years ago and now, that there’d been nothing like it for her.

Aidan pulled back a fraction of an inch, opened his eyes, and stared into hers.

She stared back because wow. Good. So damn good, and for one glorious moment there she’d let her lips cling to his, let the memories of him and all that he’d meant to

her wash over her.

And those memories had all been…epic.

Until the end.

Finding her sanity, she pushed him again. For a beat he didn’t move, just looked into her eyes.

And then, on his own terms, he stepped back.

She pointed at him. “That was…”

He arched a brow.

“Never mind what it was,” she said. “We aren’t going there.”

His smile was grim and utterly without mockery.

“Agreed.” But then he hauled her up to her toes and kissed her again.

And again.

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25. Monday Mishmash 7/6/15

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. Book Deal! You know that news I've been hinting at? Well, it's that I signed another book deal! Yay!!! OUR LITTLE SECRET, my YA contemporary romance (written as Ashelyn Drake) will be published by Limitless Publishing. Here's the PM announcement:
    Ashelyn Drake's OUR LITTLE SECRET, when a girl falls for her best friend's twin brother, she'll have to decide what she's willing to risk to keep the guy of her dreams, to Jessica Gunhammer at Limitless, by Sarah Negovetich at Corvisiero Literary Agency.
  2. Signing Postponed  I was supposed to have a signing on July 4th for The Monster Within and The Darkness Within at Books-A-Million in the Stroud Mall in Stroudsburg, PA, but it had to be postponed. It's now scheduled for July 25th from noon to 3:00 p.m. If you'll be in the area, I hope you'll come see me.
  3. Editing  This is the summer of edits for me. Last week I tackled edits on two of my own books as well as edits for clients. My poor eyes are going to hate me soon—if they don't already.
  4. Free Monthly Newsletter  Today my newsletter goes out. In it is a sneak peek at the cover of the secret project I've been hinting about. The cover has already been revealed in my street team (Kelly's Coven) FB group, and now it's time for my newsletter subscribers to see it. I won't be doing a cover reveal, which means no one else will see the cover until the book is released, which will also be a surprise! If you aren't signed up to receive my newsletter, but would like to, click here.
  5. Slow Response Time  I have funeral services to attend this week because there was a death in my family. So if I'm slow to respond to comments, that's why.
That's it for me. What's on your mind today?

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