Book Review: The Grace Year by Kim Liggett

The Grace Year is another of those rare books that has left me speechless. This is what I knew about this book going in…

“Survive the year.

No one speaks of the grace year. It’s forbidden.

In Garner County, girls are told they have the power to lure grown men from their beds, to drive women mad with jealousy. They believe their very skin emits a powerful aphrodisiac, the potent essence of youth, of a girl on the edge of womanhood. That’s why they’re banished for their sixteenth year, to release their magic into the wild so they can return purified and ready for marriage. But not all of them will make it home alive.

Sixteen-year-old Tierney James dreams of a better life—a society that doesn’t pit friend against friend or woman against woman, but as her own grace year draws near, she quickly realizes that it’s not just the brutal elements they must fear. It’s not even the poachers in the woods, men who are waiting for a chance to grab one of the girls in order to make a fortune on the black market. Their greatest threat may very well be each other.

With sharp prose and gritty realism, The Grace Year examines the complex and sometimes twisted relationships between girls, the women they eventually become, and the difficult decisions they make in-between.”

I was immediately lured into this world that was at once so bizarre and so familiar in theme. It has all the feels of The Handmaid’s Tale (a dystopian patriarchal society). The Hunger Games (sending away teens who may, or may not, return) and Lord of the Flies (the psychology of people existing under duress and away from the confines of society).

Tierney has just been sent to a remote location for her grace year, and survival against the elements isn’t the only thing she’ll have to endure. Almost immediately the power structure among the thirty-three girls is established and the cruelty of some of them becomes evident, with simmering grudges boiling over into vengeance. Danger also lurks outside the compound as poachers are waiting for the opportunity to kill the grace girls in order to sell their body parts to people looking to capture some of their magic.

From the start to the end my heart was pounding and my mind reeling at every turn of the storyline. Kim Liggett has done an amazing job of building this shocking world and weaving tension and hope amid world that seems so bleak. The Grace Year is available October 8, 2019 and I highly recommend it.  

*I received a copy of The Grace Year from NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press in exchange for an honest review

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Book Review: All Boy by Mia Kerick

Callie is attending Beaufort Hills Academy in an effort to put a humiliating high school experience behind her. But, as much as she wants to be her own person, she can’t get past her desire to fit in.

Jayden is also looking for a new start at Beaufort Hills Academy, one that involves living—for the first time—as a boy. With his strict religious upbringing, Jayden has never had the freedom to live the life he feels is true to his inner self.

Callie and Jayden are drawn to each other, and soon discover that keeping secrets isn’t so easy. But love is love–right?

All Boy is an achingly raw story about two teenagers who are looking for the freedom to live their lives, and to be accepted for who they are in a world that isn’t always receptive to the unique spirit of individuals. Mia Kerick has done a flawless job in presenting the pain and isolation of these two characters. The emotions are palpable, the writing is smooth and the story completely compelling.

**I received a copy of All Boy in exchange for an honest review.

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Author Interview: Emily Shore

Name: Emily Shore
Author of: The Uncaged Series (The Aviary, The Garden, The Temple, The Temple Twins, The Aquarium) and The Ruby Trilogy (Ruby in the Rough, Ruby in the Ruins).

Excerpt from the Uncaged series:

My cage used to be the hotels where I grew up. There, I knew what to do and how to act. Now, I would choose to spend an eternity inside those walls, just being Serenity instead of a caged bird. At least in the hotel, I always had one constant. Sky. Who will I become here? Girls have adopted their feathers, seemingly as easy as zipping up a jacket. But I wear my lightning on my sleeve, and I always will. After Dove departs, I thumb my silver tattoo. Like flames and frost, it taunts my skin. Somehow, I must keep the Aviary from conquering me.


From: Rochester, NY

Can you tell me about the first piece you remember writing? Honestly, I can’t. I was an extremely early budding author and began writing stories from the time I knew how to string sentences together. But my earliest memories were writing fairy tales from classic books I was raised on like Chronicles of Narnia, Arabian Nights, Hans Christian Anderson and of course…Disney.

When did you first realize you wanted to pursue writing as a profession? From a young age, it was always acting or writing. Dolphin therapy, for a time but I couldn’t hack the science. And since I never got into any high school or community college plays but still loved to write with straight A-s…

Is there anyone who went out of their way to help or advise you during your journey to become a published author? You mean other than fictional characters who doubled as my friends in a lonely childhood? No. I faced a lot of challenges and pressure to NOT write. As I was pursuing my creative writing degree, my fiancé now husband, was my only encourager.

Do you exclusively write young adult? Which genres do you prefer to write? I have exclusively written YA but in the fall, I would love to tackle my first NA novel and turn one of my old YA longer works into a NA short series. Someday, I will write a children’s book but not quite there.

What is your schedule like when you’re writing a book? Is it difficult to achieve a work, life, write balance? Let’s see…mommy of two little girls + international adoption + home buying/selling + anti trafficking presentations + babysitting a single moms kids during the week + promoting my recently published Uncaged Series = I cant wait till the fall (school for both my girls!)

How long does it generally take you to write a first draft? How long do you spend on revisions? Pre-children=1-4 months. Post-children=3-6 months with three self line edits.

Can you describe the preparation/research you do for each book? Depends on the book. With my Uncaged Series, I spent upwards of ten years researching as I wrote and I still learn more about trafficking every day. I love my paranormal books because I don’t research too much. But when I do…vampire species and wolf behavior and everything undead oh my!

Do you have any quirky writing habits (the things you’d never want anyone to know)? Not really. I’m pretty much one of those stereotypical authors with her cats and her headphones clicking away on my laptop while wearing pajamas and drinking tea…and occasionally some vodka!

Have you ever done a literary pilgrimage—or any interesting research—for your novels? If not, do you have a research destination bucket list? I’ve loved traveling in the past pre-children and it was a thrill to take in as much as I could so I could use it for world building and location fodder. Germany is in my paranormal series releasing this fall! #1 on my bucket list is Paris.

Inspiration comes in many forms. Can you recall the exact moment of inspiration for each of your projects? Every book is different! For one, it was a dream. For another, it was literally one photo. For The Uncaged Series, it happened when I went to Germany and overheard a conversation in an underground pub about the Red Light District. More inspiration came from Taken starting Liam Nelson – not the norm for sex trafficking – but I’ve written about that whole journey in a couple blog posts on my site.

Do you have a specific genre you prefer to read? YA any genre, but I am selective regarding the books in whichever particular genre. What are your favorites? A Clean Teen Publishing Classic: Lauren Nicolle Taylor. I love every single book she’s written and it’s very difficult for me to choose a favorite. Laini Taylor is the Queen of Paranormal fantasy and I could read all of her books on repeat. Yes, I’m aware they share similar names. Coincidence? You decide.

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find or know the real inspiration for? Little hints in my books parallel to modern day issues that someone with more awareness might recognize. But that’s why I also have discussion questions. More humor hints and a prominent theme will be in my paranormal series this fall.

Are your characters inspired—in part or whole—by people in your real life? Absolutely! Yes, I’ve also tried very hard to model some of my characters opposite of people in my life and real life, too.

Name one book you think is entirely underappreciated. My over-appreciated list is longer. Ballad by Maggie Stievfater. Dark urban fantasy. The MC makes me laugh every time. A Northern Light, ya historical, is another

Name one book that was a guilty pleasure. The Thousandth Floor. It’s cheesy, its soap opera-y, it’s easy reading, colorful cast of characters, and high tech I drool over.

Be honest: Do you Google yourself? Once or twice. My husband googles me more.

As a writer, which animal would you choose as your mascot/avatar/patronus? You think me a damsel in distress? No, I am the DRAGON and I will swallow you whole!

Is there one thing you think you, as a writer, should be better at, but secretly struggle with? Characterization. Perhaps this is me speaking from a place of having written 25 books in ten years. Hopefully, in another ten years, I’ll have more to offer with growth.

What is one word of advice you’d give to an aspiring writer? For potential self publishing or small press authors: #1. You might not like to hear this, but work full time at a good paying job for awhile, accumulate a Publishing fund, and hire a professional, accredited editor. They are worth their weight in gold. Listen to them. Don’t listen to your professor. They know craft. Not necessarily publishing. #2 I don’t have to tell you not to give up. If you’re a real writer, you won’t.

What is one word of advice you’d give to a newly published author? Depends. Are they Big Five or small press or self published? If they’re Big Five: fangirling followed by begging them to read my book, small press: twinsies!, self published: successful? Loudly congratulating you outside and silently jealous inside, especially if you are a mom but self published when your kids were in grade school or older.

In what ways do you “pay it forward” to help other aspiring writers? I’m a social media and word of mouth praiser and excellent reviewer. For the authors I love, I can’t sing their praises enough!

Where can people find more about you?
• Website: Www.emilybethshore.com
• Facebook: Facebook.com/authoremilyshore
• Twitter: @emilybethshore
• Instagram: @emilybshore

The Uncaged Series:

The Aviary

“Gentlemen, we have a special treat for you today. Feast your eyes on this pure-blooded beauty!”

Sixteen-year-old Serenity has spent her entire life in hiding to protect her from this exact moment. In a world where beauty is bought and sold on the streets like a corporate commodity, Serenity’s natural assets are more like liabilities. Despite her parents’ best efforts, she’s been taken―ripped from her home and the only life she’s ever known―to find herself on sale to the highest bidder. And that bidder? Enigmatic and dangerous, Luc is the director of The Aviary―an elite museum where girls are displayed as living art by day…and cater to the lascivious whims of the highest bidder by night. In this elaborate and competitive world, girls go by names like Raven and Nightingale, and will stop at nothing to become top Bird.

Luc comes to idolize Serenity’s purity and aims to turn her into his grandest exhibit of all time―The Swan. In no time, she becomes one of the most coveted exhibits in Aviary history. When she discovers Luc holds the key to finding her parents, she must learn to play The Swan to perfection…to win his heart and earn his trust. But she doesn’t anticipate falling for him in the process. Now she faces an impossible choice: escape The Aviary and lose her only chance at finding her parents―or become Luc’s Swan for good and lose her identity forever.

The Garden

Serenity is willing to do anything to find her sister, the twin Force has raised in the Temple since birth. But when Sky refuses to help, Serenity has no choice but to go to Luc—whose plan is to use Serenity as bait. Together, they embark to Force’s island vacation spot—the Garden, an exotic Museum that displays girls as Flowers. When their plan takes a turn for the worse, Jade, the Garden Director, captures Luc and Serenity. With both their lives in the balance, Serenity has no choice but to bow to Jade, who may be even more ruthless and determined than Luc. Serenity will become the Skeleton Flower.

The Ruby Series:

Ruby in the Rough

For four years, Ruby has escaped the gangs and sweepers hunting her. Until now…
For the past four years, Ruby has lived in what was once a sprawling city of business and commerce. Now, it is the Ghetto; its main commerce exists in the form of females. Whether breeders, laborers, gang girls, or sex slaves, the Ghetto features any and every service with the Hotel as its central area of business. Thanks to her roof-topping skills and street smarts, which have made her impossible to catch, Ruby has made the Ghetto’s most-wanted list. Fortunately, she has one ally: a young man named Ink, the one man determined not to sell her. Unlike Ruby, Ink has no desire to leave the Ghetto, but she owes him a life debt and is trapped as much by her honor as by the soldiers patrolling the only exits out of the city.
Whether scavenging for food or holing up in an abandoned clock tower, Ruby and Ink remain unlikely partners until their home in an abandoned train yard is discovered. While Ink escapes, Ruby is captured by the roughest gang in the Ghetto. All too soon, Ruby learns she is bound for the Hotel where she will be used up piece by piece until there is nothing left. Unless she can escape and get the target off her back once and for all.

Ruby in the Ruins

“Ruby!” I hear my father calling out to me, and I try to contain my giggles, keep them hiding behind the thick bush that is my hiding spot. My giggles poke through the leaves but not enough for him to hear.

Or so I thought.

“Aww, you found me!” I protest, puckering my lower lip into a pout when my father sweeps away some of the branches. “I was really trying to be quiet.”

“You did very well,” my father assures me and scoops me into his arms.

“I’m nine years old now. I’m getting better at hiding,” I tell him proudly while winding my arms around his neck.

“That you are.” He beams and swings me around before setting me on the ground.

“So how did you find me?” I follow him back to the barn, eager to see the new goat kid that was born yesterday. Playing hide-and-seek was the only thing that could keep me distracted until Daddy was ready to let me in.

Daddy rubs my head, playing with some of my hair. “This right here.” He tugs on a cluster. “Could see your red hair through the brush. If you ever need to really hide, you’ll have to make sure you cover it up.”

“Or I could just cut it like Mal’s.”

Sighing, my father squats down next to me, his big palm cupping the side of my face, strong blue eyes insistent as an oncoming wave. “Never cut your hair, Ruby. Don’t ever change anything. Don’t let this world dictate how you look or even how you survive. Just survive. On your terms.”

And it has been on my terms all these years. Until now.

Ink

The worst of it isn’t the jump from the train.

The worst is the landing.

It’s the second time I’ve been tossed from a moving vehicle in less than twenty-four hours. Except this time, it was voluntary. As soon as I heard the gunshots and saw Ruby fall off the back of the train through the window, it didn’t take me long to follow.

Only now I’m regretting it because I won’t be any help to Ruby if I’m dead.

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Book Review: Wicked Saints (Something Dark and Holy #1) by Emily Duncan

Wicked Saints (Something Dark and Holy, Book 1) by Emily Duncan

For a century Tranavia and Kalyazia have been at war.

Hidden in a mountain-top monastery, Nadya—a Kalyazi cleric with the ability to communicate with the gods, all the gods—has been living and training. When the Travanian forces breach the walls of the monastery, she is forced to flee into the snow covered lands that have—until now—kept invaders at bay. After fleeing, Nadya encounters a small band of rebels with plans to infiltrate the Travanian palace and kill the king in an effort to end the war. One of the rebels is Malachiasz, an escaped Travanian Vulture with a treasonous plan and a dark secret of his own.  

Serefin, the High Prince of Tranavia and a blood mage, has accomplished a victory that no other military leader has, he’s conquered the mountain monastery that hides the Kalyazi cleric. Even though she’s just barely slipped from his grasp, he can feel that her power is far greater than anyone had guessed. And now, with her so close to capture, he’s been called back to Tranavia by his father—for a betrothal ceremony. But Serefin will find that his betrothal isn’t the only danger that lies in waiting.  

Wicked Saints is a dark and tantalizing fantasy that balances politics, magic and religion. Everything about the setting and characters seems to exist in the gray area between good and evil. The descriptions are vivid and the monstrous creatures are so well-described that they are easily visualized and horrific to imagine.  Although I wasn’t as compelled by the romance as I’d hoped, and felt some of the secondary characters could have been better represented, I still found Wicked Saints to be an enjoyable read and look forward to the sequel.  

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Book Review: Demons Lie (A Girl’s Guide to Witchcraft and Demon Hunting, #1) by Sherry D. Ficklin

Demons Lie by Sherry D. Ficklin

Aria Dupree is a bad-ass demon hunter whose senior year could be her greatest challenge yet.
Aria is traveling the world, closing gateways to the demon realm while on the hunt for the demon who killed her mother. In Red Prairie, TX she has two goals: end the demon she senses there and graduate high school. Both prove a challenge as high school is…well, high school, and the demon is a bit different than the ones she’s used to. But, Aria can’t let surprising alliances and cute boys distract her from getting revenge for her mother’s death.
Demons Lie (A Girl’s Guide to Witchcraft and Demon Hunting) is a witty, fast-paced action. It’s easy to relate to the main character–or, I imagine I could relate if I were a demon hunter with a bone to pick. Aria is clever and sassy, I love the banter between the characters. Can’t wait to read the next in the series.

I received an ARC of Demons Lie in exchange for an honest review

Get Demons Lie (A Girl’s Guide to Witchcraft and Demon Hunting #1) from Amazon 

 

Sherry D. Ficklin Sherry is the author of over a dozen novels for teens and young adults including the best selling Stolen Empire series. She can often be found browsing her local bookstore with a large white hot chocolate in one hand and a towering stack of books in the other. That is, unless she’s on deadline at which time she, like the Loch Ness monster, is only seen in blurry photographs.
Sherry also writes contemporary romance under the pen name SJ Noble. You can find her at her official website, or stalk her on her Facebook page

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Book Review: Watch You Burn by Amanda Searcy

Watch You Burn by [Searcy, Amanda]

WATCH YOU BURN is about Jenny, a teen with a bad history related to fires–as in she has a tendency to start them. Jenny has just been sent to live with her dad, a contractor who is renovating an old motel in New Mexico, because there’s an arson investigation back home in Ohio, and things have gotten a bit, er…hot.

Even though she has the best of intentions, Jenny can’t fight the “itch” to start fires. One little fire, what could it hurt? Unless someone saw her. And now, that someone is lurking outside her room at night and Jenny is sure it’s just a matter of time until she’s turned in.

But then the man she’s certain witnessed her starting a fire is murdered. And another murder follows, and soon Jenny realizes she’s surrounded by people she doesn’t really know and everyone is a suspect…including her dad.

WATCH YOU BURN is a deep, dark descent into the world of girl who is deeply troubled and finds herself in a bad situation. There were so many red herrings that, even when I was certain who the “bad guy” was, I kept doubting myself. It was an intriguing book that kept me turning the pages, anxious to find out what would happen next. I can’t say I liked Jenny, but I empathized with her enough that I wanted to know what would happen.

Overall, a good read.

Thank you to NetGalley and Delacorte Press for the opportunity to read WATCH YOU BURN

I received an ARC of WATCH YOU BURN in exchange for an honest review of the book

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Author Spotlight: Happy LaShelle

Name:   Happy LaShelle 

Author of:   According to Audrey (Clean Teen Publishing)

 

Can you tell me about the first piece you remember writing?

Well, like a lot of writers I stapled and taped my own books together when I was a kid. My mom saved a bunch of them and they’re kind of precious to me. One of my favorites is The Donkey Advensher wherein a girl takes her donkey on a ride through the forest and finds a rabbit, a frog, and a silver dollar (ha!). But my first serious project as an aspiring author was a little historical chapter book about a young girl enamored with the London stage in the early 20th century.

Is there anyone who went out of their way to help or advise you during your journey to becoming a published author?

Yes, and I’m so grateful forever to her! I happened to start following author Susan Dennard on Twitter back when she had just received her first book deal on her first series. She had tweeted about how to write a query letter, and when I followed her advice I started getting requests for my manuscript. I emailed her to say thank you, and it began a lovely friendship/mentorship for me. She would check in every few months to see how things were going for me and offer advice. She’s an incredibly generous person who gives back to the writing community in every way. She now has a whole following of writers who learn from her posts and newsletters.

How long does it generally take you to write a first draft? How long do you spend on revisions?

Honestly that’s a great question I wish I knew the answer to. According to Audrey took me years of writing, rewriting and revision, but there was a big learning curve there, so now that I’m diving into writing the sequel I’m hoping for the best. I think every book is different. If I’m guessing I would say 6-9 months to write it and 3-4 months of revision, so… 9 months to a year, maybe.

Can you describe the preparation/research you do for each book?

I like to have a general outline in my head of the plot, but it’s amazing how it takes on a life of its own and starts twisting and turning, and then (sometimes) serendipitously comes together in ways I could never have planned. I have a YA historical project that I’ve only written a bit of, but I’ve done weeks of research on the details of the time period. A historical calls for that, though. For my contemporaries I’ll just stop sometimes in the middle of writing and look up questions that arise.

Do you have any quirky writing habits? (The things you’d never want anyone to know?)

I don’t think so? I was at a writing conference once and for fun you were supposed to share if you had, say, a lucky pen or a superstitious quirk in your writing routine. And I was thinking… no… not me. And then later I realized – yes! – I totally do have a favorite pen that I use for everything. Something about it feels happy and magical to me, and it makes my writing look pretty. It’s this special light blue color and I used to be able to order it in bulk. Now I have to buy a pack of 10 colors just to get one of my special pens! I do love the act of actually writing my drafts with a pen, though. I find my ideas and thoughts flow more fluidly than they do when I’m typing.

Have you ever done a literary pilgrimage-or any interesting research-for your novels? If not, do you have a research destination bucket list?

Last summer we visited Great Britain and I was bombarded with so many fun ideas for my next book. History is my passion so I love to travel and learn and soak in the stories of the past. My great-grandparents on my mom’s side came from Scotland and my dad’s grandparents emigrated from England so I feel this close connection to the culture. Let’s just say that it’s not a coincidence that the sequel to According to Audrey is set in England and France.

Do you have a specific genre you prefer to read? What are your favorites?

I enjoy reading most categories and genres but… no surprise here… historical fiction is at the top of my list.

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find or know the real inspiration for?

No secrets really, but in According to Audrey I did include some symbolism for myself that I didn’t think anyone would necessarily pick up on. For example, on the opening page Dove is sketching a tethered sailboat in the harbor, then in the last pages she admires a painting of a sailboat bobbing freely on the open sea. Also some foreshadowing – like in Chapter 4, Leo tells Dove that if she gets too close to the fire the flames could burn her. Little things like that.

As a writer, which animal would you choose as your mascot/avatar/patronus?

 I cast a St. Bernard in Pottermore and I really love my patronus! It’s described as warm, bright, playful, thoughtful, positive, adventurous, sensitive, and offering a ray of light in a dark world. I’d like to think that innately my best self is these things.

Is there one thing you, as a writer, should be better at, but secretly struggle with?

Yes, I wish I were way better at deep POV. I’m making progress but I feel like I’m always relearning how to delve deeper into the point of view of the character in order to better immerse the reader into the story experience. I’ve leaned a lot from Susan Dennard’s written teachings on this subject, actually.

What is one word of advice you’d give to an aspiring writer?

Keep going. The process can take a long time, but let your passion propel you forward. Let the rejections (and there will be many) make your work better, and don’t take no for an answer. Do something for your writing everyday – for me, reading about writing and the writing life is hugely inspiring. One of my favorite writing mentor books is Page After Page by Heather Sellers. Her funny, straightforward style is charming, and her wisdom is so encouraging to everyone on the author path.

In what ways do you pay it forward to help other aspiring writers?

I read and critique works-in-progress for fellow writers trying to get published. I also chime in on writing blogs and websites where people post their work for review. I think it’s so important for us all to support each other. If we’re further along on the path, it’s our duty and honor to turn around and offer a hand up to the person right behind us.

Want to know more about Happy?

Visit her at her website

Visit and like her Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/happylashelle/

Follow her on Twitter

Check out the pics on Happy’s Instagram

See what Happy is reading—and writing—on Goodreads

 

According to Audrey

What would Audrey do?

Cautious and introverted, seventeen-year-old Dove spends most of her free time pursuing her one true passion: painting. The twinkling lights of Balboa Island, the ferryboat to the peninsula, the fire pits on Big Corona Beach…these have long been the subjects of her canvases as she daydreams about finding an Audrey Hepburn-film kind of romance.

A hotshot jock is exactly not the type of guy she’s been looking for—but when Leo Donovan drops his cool act to show his vulnerable side, Dove begins to question everything. But first she’ll have to navigate her way through claim-staking mean girls and disapproving parents—and still keep her focus on attending the art school of her dreams.

Being in love turns out to be more complex than the average silver-screen classic. Can Dove follow her heart (and Audrey’s cues) to create her own perfect Hollywood ending?

Fans of Audrey Hepburn and the movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s will love this fun coming of age story.

Get According to Audrey from Amazon or Barnes & Noble 

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Blog Tour: I Do Not Trust You by Laura J. Burns and Melinda Metz

 

Laura J. Burns and Melinda Metz, authors of Sanctuary Bay and the Edgar-nominated mystery series Wright and Wong, are back with a story that features their signature plot twists and uneasy ever-changing alliances. I DO NOT TRUST YOU (Wednesday Books; September 11, 2018) is a thrilling journey at every turn that asks – what would you do to save the
ones you love?
Memphis “M” Engel is stubborn to a fault, graced with an almost absurd knowledge of long lost languages and cultures, and a heck of an opponent in a fight. In short: she’s awesome.
Ashwin “Ash” Sood is a little too posh for M’s tastes, a little too good looking, and has way too many secrets. He desperately wants the ancient map M inherited from her archeologist father, believing it will lead him to a relic with the power to destroy the world. M obviously can’t trust
him.
Equally desperate to find the relic for reasons of her own, M forms an uneasy partnership with Ash. From the catacombs of Paris, to a sacred forest in Norway, to the ruins of a submerged temple in Egypt, together they crisscross the globe in their search. But through it all, M can never be sure: Is she
traveling with a friend or enemy?

In their latest collaboration, Burns and Metz prove once again the magic that happens when two talented mystery authors work together. Going on M’s journey will have readers’ hearts race with every page. With its dangerous secrets and dark mythology, I DO NOT TRUST YOU is irresistible to any fan of YA thrillers.

Excerpt from I Do Not Trust You:

“You should’ve seen Miss Memphis here get into it with Nick last period,” Brianna said, squeezing in between M and Inez at their usual spot in the cafeteria. “She shut him down with her crazy ancient cultures voodoo.”

“He’s an ass. He’s lucky he’s hot,” their friend Ayana commented, waving her spork in Nick’s direction.

M shrugged. “I wouldn’t try to debate him in Physics. I just know more about Rome than he does.”

“What about AP Chem? Would you debate him in that?” Inez asked in a fake-serious voice. “Would you debate him in German class?”

“She’d debate him in German, in German,” Brianna joked. “And if he tried to fight back, she’d switch to Greek.”

M threw a French fry at her. “I can’t help it. I grew up speaking different languages.”

“And learning about pharaohs. And becoming well versed in the history of the Etruscan people,” Ayana said, putting on a fake accent that was probably supposed to be British. “Oh, and setting broken bones in the bush.”

“That only happened once,” M muttered. Her friends laughed.

“Anyway, it was epic. Thanks,” Brianna said. “I can’t stand fighting with people, and Nick always goes after me.”

“He knows you hate it,” M pointed out. “That’s why he does it.”

“An ass, like I said.” Ayana shrugged.

“You think he’s coming to the party tonight?” Brianna asked.

“Probably. Everyone else is,” Inez replied. “Even Memphis.” M made a face. “Anything to get out of the house. Bob and Liza would expect me to play board games with them otherwise.” Her friends exchanged a glance. M winced. “No offense.”

“Oh, were you offending someone?” Nick piped up from behind her. “Good girl.”

Immediately Bri looked down, while Ayana rolled her eyes. Inez just smirked, glancing back and forth between M and Nick.

“I was not offending anyone. I only meant I don’t like parties,” M said. She didn’t bother to turn toward him. It didn’t matter; he inserted himself onto the bench next to her anyway. A little tingle ran up her spine as the scent of his co- logne hit her nostrils, spicy and warm.

“Mmm, they’re boring. Everyone talking about the prom or the senior trip or whatever. I’m over it,” Nick said.

Me too, thought M, wishing she didn’t agree with him. She loved her friends, but even they were all about high school. M just didn’t care. High school was nothing more than what she had to get through before she could leave. After the crash, after the shock of Bob and Liza becoming her guardians, she’d asked if she could go off to college early, either Boston University or the University of Sheffield in England. Both had the kind of archeology program she wanted and would’ve let her in with no questions. They knew her father. They knew high school was a waste of time for someone like her.

But her guardians said no. They said she needed stabil- ity and normalcy after losing her dad. Never mind that traveling the world and taking care of herself was normal for her. While she and Dad technically lived in Boston, she’d never spent more than a few months there during the school year. They traveled. Half the year spent on digs. She missed it.

“What’s with this thing, anyway? Is it to fight off bad guys?” Nick teased, finding an excuse to touch her. He reached for M’s collapsible bo staff, tucked in the inside pocket of her jacket like always. But before he touched it, be- fore his flirty smile registered in her mind, M had already grabbed his hand, twisted it back to the breaking point, and used the pain to push him off the cafeteria bench and onto the floor. With her other hand, she whipped out the stick and shoved it up against his throat.

M froze. Hes just hitting on you. Her friends were aghast, and everyone nearby watched, openmouthed. Nick’s eyes were wide with panic.

“Sorry.” M stood up, leaving Nick on the floor. “I’m really sorry.”

“Freak,” he muttered, climbing to his feet. He glanced around, noticing the barely concealed laughter from onlook- ers. “Jeez, I just wanted a fry,” he joked, as if he hadn’t been humiliated, then hurried out of the cafeteria.

“What. The. Hell?” Inez asked. “He was flirting with you and you beat him up!”

“I know.” M groaned, shoving her staff back into her pocket. “I didn’t mean to. It was just reflex.”

Her friends were silent. She’d freaked them out. Should she explain the years of self-defense and martial arts training? That she and Dad ended up in some rough places? Her friends lived in a city, they understood danger. Sort of. In a nice, upscale Boston kind of way.

M sighed. There was no point in trying to explain. No- body understood her life.

“You kinda push all the guys away,” Brianna pointed out quietly. “Maybe not like that, but still . . .”

“I don’t do romance,” M replied. She was done with love, period. She’d loved her parents, and they were both gone. Love hurt too much. It was better to steer clear of it.

They all ate in silence for a minute.

“I mean, he is an ass,” Ayana said finally. And everybody laughed.

M: You up?

MIKE: It’s a 12 hr time difference. Of course I’m up.

M: Like you never sleep in on weekends.

MIKE: Fine, your text woke me.

M: I don’t think that glyph is a lotus. It’s bending the wrong way.

MIKE: It has to be a lotus. If it’s not, the whole phrase is wrong.

M: The rest of the phrase never sat well with Nefertum anyway.

MIKE: Your dad said it was a lotus.

 

About the Authors
LAURA J. BURNS and MELINDA METZ have written many books for teens and middle-grade readers, including Sanctuary
Bay, Crave, and Sacrifice, as well as the Edgar-nominated mystery series Wright and Wong. They have also written for
the TV shows ROSWELL, 1-800-MISSING, and THE DEAD ZONE. Laura lives in New York and Melinda lives in North
Carolina, but really they mostly live on email, where they do most of their work together.

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Book Blitz: Hiro Loves Kite by Lauren Nicolle Taylor

 

Hiro Loves Kite
Lauren Nicolle Taylor
(Paper Stars #2)
Published by: Clean Teen Publishing
Publication date: August 27th 2018
Genres: Historical, Young Adult

We offer our wounds and scars. Understanding that’s part of what makes us beautiful.

Nora finally has her beloved sister Frankie back but that’s just the beginning of their struggles. She must now become Kite. A stronger, more independent version of herself. A King. A guardian.

And Kettle has Kite’s heart. She gives it freely. But as he holds it, dear and close like a lost treasure, something holds him back: A feeling that he doesn’t deserve good things. A looming shadow that threatens to separate them. Kettle must accept that he is also Hiro: A Japanese American with every right to happiness and freedom.

Because Hiro loves Kite. And Kite won’t wait forever for him to tell her.

But they’re standing on icy ground. As the leverage they had on Kite’s abusive father wavers and life on the street affects Frankie’s health, the challenges threaten to break their bond.

Snow is gathering at the station doors and doubts are piling high. They must rely on each other. Believe in the magic that got them this far. If they don’t, it’s not just their future in jeopardy but the fates of all the street kids in their care. All the Kings.

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EXCERPT:

Frankie Comes Home…

Paying for a hot dog in pennies and dimes is embarrassing. Being two pennies short and having the hot dog stand guy take pity on us was completely humiliating. We’re skinny. I just hope the Kings haven’t eaten everything we had stored away.

Without Kin and Keeps, there’s been a little more to go around. My shoulders sag. Now there are more mouths to feed. My fingers scrape the insides of my pockets, searching for a coin that maybe got snagged in the seams. If I turn them inside out, I really will look like a street urchin. I’m the pirate who opens the treasure chest, finds he’s been beat, and opens it again just to rub it in. I snort.

We wait for a large crowd to head for the subway and melt in. Frankie’s eyes are as wide as a sliced moon as we weave and duck. Eyes on each other, hands gripped tightly.

Kite pushes Frankie’s head under the turnstile as I pay with our last coin. She presses her back into me. The smell of faint perfume, the last of her old life, and salt, the new, coming from her hair. As I reach around her to push the stile, a two for one, her breath catches. I let my hand rest on her waist for a second. Let myself imagine we’re a couple on our way home from a shopping trip, and then it falls like so many un-granted wishes into a fountain.

Leaning close to her ear so she can hear me, I hold my breath, thinking inhaling any more of her sweetness may actually kill me. “Ready?”

She nods. Her cheek brushing my lips.

We take our route to the secret door. To the home we now share like kids playing house, only far too real.

Frankie, to her credit, rolls with the punches. Punch one: Hot dogs instead of roast beef and gravy for dinner. Punch Two: Cheating our way through the subway. Punch Three… I knock on the King’s door, and Krow answers. He looks us up and down, slick and distrustful for a moment, then breaks into a grin. “Kettle! Kite!” he shouts. “Kettle and Kite are home.” He stares at my hands. When he sees there’s no food—only a suitcase—he quickly looks away. But there’s no hiding his disappointment.

Frankie squeezes her way through the doorway into the vast, abandoned subway tunnel. My home. My refuge. And now hers. Blinking, she stands on her tiptoes. Lip in teeth. “Holy hell!” she shouts, and several Kings look her way.

Kite flushes pink, then taps her sister’s shoulder. “Frankie!” she chastises. “Language.”

We step inside, and Frankie swings her head from side to side. “I mean tank you, holy hell.”

We both chuckle, eyes connecting over the top of her head.

Punch three: “This is where we’re going to be staying for a while,” Kite’s voice chases after a galloping Frankie as she jumps from bed to bed. She is the spokes of a traveling star. She is the light you can’t catch.

Frankie doesn’t hear her, and Kite runs to catch her sister. I drag the case inside, plonk it on Kin’s bed. Now Kite’s to share with her sister.

Finally, Frankie stops running and presses a palm to her chest as she wheezes. Kite rushes to her, and she puts both hands on her sister’s shoulders. “Are you okay?”

Punch four is for me, and I feel it sock me right in the guts. As I watch them, I know. Like really know that I would do anything to help them. They are instantly and permanently part of this family. And it scares me.

Author Bio:

Lauren is the bestselling author of THE WOODLANDS SERIES and the award-winning YA novel NORA & KETTLE (Gold medal Winner for Multicultural fiction, Independent Publishers Book Awards 2017).

She has a Health Science degree and an honors degree in Obstetrics and Gynecology. A full time writer, hapa and artist, Lauren lives in the tucked away, Adelaide hills with her husband and three children.

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Author Spotlight: Rebecca Carpenter

Name: Rebecca Carpenter  

Author of: The Metamorphosis Series: Butterfly Bones (Book 1), Butterfly Blood (Book 2, Available 8/28/18, Lakewater Press)

From: Fruita, Colorado

 

Can you tell me about the first piece you remember writing?

I began writing as soon as I could form a sentence on paper. But the first piece that brought attention to my writing was a poem I wrote in the third grade entitled, “Love Is…” My poem won a contest, and I was placed in a creative writing course with other winners. That’s when I knew my words had power.

When did you first realize you wanted to pursue writing as a profession?

I think I have always wanted to pursue writing as a profession, but until my kids were raised, I just didn’t have the time. But I didn’t begin with novels. After watching one-too-many poorly written movies, I told my husband I could write a better script than that, and so I did. I bought the software needed for screenwriting and went to town. My first two screenplays won Honorable Mention in the Colorado Screenplay Awards. But after realizing how hard it is to break into screenwriting, I decided to switch to novels.

Is there anyone who went out of their way to help or advise you during your journey to become a published author?

My SCBWI critique group was amazing. And after I used a professional editor, she hooked me up with a local writer to help me learn the “craft” of writing. We have been weekly critique partners ever since, and she has taught me a wealth of writing tips.

Do you exclusively write young adult or have you written in other genres?

I write screenplays, drama and Rom-coms, and I also dabble in picture books and middle grade.

What is your schedule like when you’re writing a book? Is it difficult to achieve a work, life, write balance?

I write any chance I can: at work during rest time for the children in my prekindergarten class; in the evenings after supper; early mornings on weekends, and sometimes all day in my pajamas on weekends.  It is quite difficult to balance my writing and family time. My husband complains often of my lack on involvement with him. So I try to shut off the computer and give him quality time as much as possible. This is a challenge when I work sixty hours a week, copyedit part time, and copyedit for Lakewater Press as well.

How long does it generally take you to write a first draft? How long do you spend on revisions?

A first draft can take me anywhere from six months to a year, depending on how much time I have to devote to writing and how much research I have to perform.

Can you describe the preparation/research you do for each book?

I use a general plotline, as well as write my premise and goals for my point-of-view characters. I use characterization sheets in the beginning to make sure I stay true to facts and personality traits unique to each character. I typically research as it comes up in the script. This way I can be writing and putting my ideas onto paper as they come to me instead of finding myself bogged down in research.

Do you have any quirky writing habits (the things you’d never want anyone to know)?

Not that I know of. I do have to be surrounded with noise, so I write in the front room with the television on. And if I talk to my hubby on occasion, I can usually get away with it.

Have you ever done a literary pilgrimage—or any interesting research—for your novels? If not, do you have a research destination bucket list?

I wouldn’t call it a pilgrimage since I only traveled a few miles. But I visited our local butterfly house and asked lots of questions about raising butterflies and the laws surrounding that. Interesting to find out butterflies are categorized by the government as a pest, and special permits must be obtained to keep and breed them.

Inspiration comes in many forms. Can you recall the exact moment of inspiration for each of your projects?

Inspiration comes in spurts for me. Either feast or famine. So I’ll be flooded with fifty ideas, and I write them all down, or I can go months with nothing. But Butterfly Bones came from a song by The Cure, called “Caterpillar Girl.” It started as a horror, but ended up being a soft science fiction. Darn characters think they know the story better than the writer. J

Do you have a specific genre you prefer to read? What are your favorites?

I love to read thrillers, but I also will read anything that’s well-written. Don’t care the genre. Since I work with children, I also love picture books.

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find or know the real inspiration for? I use family names as well lots of foreshadowing, but nothing all “cloak and daggery.”

Are your characters inspired—in part or whole—by people in your real life?

Sometimes, but not always. I try to give each one a distinct personality by drawing off people I know, but sometimes they are purely made up from my imagination.

Name one book you think is entirely underappreciated.

I loved Defending Jacob by William Landay. The twists and turns in that book and then the climax were so unexpected that I still think about them, even after years of reading the story. I hope to see it made into a major motion picture someday.

Name one book that was a guilty pleasure.

Twilight series.

Be honest: Do you Google yourself?

Nope. But my hubby does.

As a writer, which animal would you choose as your mascot/avatar/patronus?

A butterfly, of course.

Is there one thing you think you, as a writer, should be better at, but secretly struggle with?

Promotion. Promotion. Promotion.

What is one word of advice you’d give to an aspiring writer?

Never. Give. Up. Keep reading. Keep writing. Join a critique group.

What is one word of advice you’d give to a newly published author? It takes time to write the story, and it takes time to build your audience. Keep at it. Keep at it. Keep at it.

In what ways do you “pay it forward” to help other aspiring writers?

I offer free critiques, Beta reading, and give as much advice as I can on my blog. I am always open for questions or general writing advice.

Do you want more information on Rebecca and her books?

 

 Butterfly Bones (Metamorphosis, Book 1)

HER BONES. HER FUTURE. HER SACRIFICE.

“I wish I was a normal fifteen-year-old. I have dreams that I am.”

Fifteen-year-old Bethany Keatley’s life is anything but perfect. Yet despite a rare bone disorder cursing her with the body of a ten year old, a dead mom, and being a target for the school bullies, things could be worse.

She owes her life to her scientist father and the butterfly hormone racing through her blood.

But the discovery of unexpected and horrifying side effects means her dreams of leaving the small-minded town of Springs, Georgia to become a scientist have all but shattered.

Her world becomes a prison and her existence a life sentence.

The only thing keeping Bethany fighting is her true love, football star Jeremiah Wright—if only he felt the same way. And now, with the clock ticking and her future uncertain, courage and the determination to survive must drive her decisions.

But nature has other plans, a sacrifice for Bethany’s life.

In this award-winning incredible debut, Rebecca Carpenter brings to life the “haunting and twisted story” of one girl and an ending that will blow your mind.

 

Get Butterfly Bones on Amazon or Barnes & Noble 

 

 

 Butterfly Blood (Metamorphosis, Book 2)

HER BLOOD. HER LOVE. HER FREEDOM.

“How many of my sins will have to be paid for in blood?”

Sixteen-year-old Bethany Keatley finally has the healthy body and looks she’s always desired. But the price she’s had to pay has left her traumatized.

The only thing making her battle on is the memory of that kiss with Jeremiah.

Now miles from him and living in Florida with an aunt she’s never met, shocking revelations about her parents are too much to bear. After collapsing from exhaustion and shock, Bethany wakes in a hospital bed awaiting test results—results that might lead to the discovery of her unusual butterfly blood.

But that’s the least of Bethany’s concerns when the doctor informs her she’s infected with a parasite and without immediate treatment she’ll die.

Too young to refuse and too weak to fight back, Bethany’s life once again hangs in the balance. Yet her scientific knowledge and suspicious nature lead her to unravel a horrifying web of lies.

Will nature intervene again, demanding another payment?

In this stunning sequel to the award-winning BUTTERFLY BONES, Rebecca Carpenter raises the stakes and offers up an intense and heartbreaking ride that will leave you shocked to the core.

 

Get Butterfly Blood from Amazon or Barnes & Noble 

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