#ReadADessen: Lock & Key + Giveaway


It’s Week 4 of the #ReadADessen campaign! We are counting down to the release of Sarah Dessen’s newest book Once and For All releasing June 6, 2017, which is my favorite so far! However that could change. Last week I covered This Lullaby, where I came up with a few songs that fit the characters.  This week I am featuring the book Lock & Key.

unnamed.jpg About the Book

Ruby, where is your mother?

Ruby knows that the game is up. For the past few months, she’s been on her own in the yellow house, managing somehow, knowing that her mother will probably never return.

That’s how she comes to live with Cora, the sister she hasn’t seen in ten years, and Cora’s husband Jamie, whose down-to-earth demeanor makes it hard for Ruby to believe he founded the most popular networking Web site around. A luxurious house, fancy private school, a new wardrobe, the promise of college and a future; it’s a dream come true. So why is Ruby such a reluctant Cinderella, wary and defensive? And why is Nate, the genial boy next door with some secrets of his own, unable to accept the help that Ruby is just learning to give?

Best-selling author Sarah Dessen explores the heart of a gutsy, complex girl dealing with unforeseen circumstances and learning to trust again.

Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Indiebound

In the book, for Ruby’s English project, she must discover what Family means to her and to other people.  If you think about all of Sarah Dessen’s books, the families featured aren’t your picture perfect “All-American family” living in the cute house with a white picket fence.  The idea of a “nuclear family” household has been challenged time and time again. Not all families are created equal and they aren’t without flaws.

The definition of “family” has changed so much and means different things to different people, that I thought it would be fun to recreate Ruby’s assignment. I asked fellow friends and bloggers to share their thoughts.  And before you ask I agree with all things said.

What is Family?

blamethebooksBlame It On the Books

Library of a Book Witch

By Ellie M

Book Munchies

Rec-it Rachel

A Reader Under the Sea

About Sarahsarahdessenjpg

Sarah Dessen is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of over a dozen novels for teens, which have received numerous awards and rave reviews. Her books have been published in over thirty countries and have sold millions of copies worldwide. She is the recipient of the 2017 Margaret A. Edwards Award from the American Library Association for outstanding contribution to young adult literature for her novels: Keeping the Moon, Dreamland, This Lullaby, The Truth about Forever, Just Listen, Along for the Ride, and What Happened to Goodbye. Her newest novel, Once and for All, will be released in June 2017. An NC native, she currently lives in Chapel Hill with her family.

Website | Goodreads | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook


Once and For All

As bubbly as champagne and delectable as wedding cake, Once and for All, Sarah Dessen’s thirteenth novel, is set in the world of wedding planning, where crises are routine.

Louna, daughter of famed wedding planner Natalie Barrett, has seen every sort of wedding: on the beach, at historic mansions, in fancy hotels and clubs. Perhaps that’s why she’s cynical about happily-ever-after endings, especially since her own first love ended tragically. When Louna meets charming, happy-go-lucky serial dater Ambrose, she holds him at arm’s length. But Ambrose isn’t about to be discouraged, now that he’s met the one girl he really wants.

Sarah Dessen’s many, many fans will adore her latest, a richly satisfying, enormously entertaining story that has everything—humor, romance, and an ending both happy and imperfect, just like life itself

Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Indiebound


Enter for a chance to win one (1) set of Sarah Dessen’s books in paperback (ARV: $132.00).
NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Enter between 12:00 AM Eastern Time on April 17, 2017 and 12:00 AM on May 29, 2017.  Open to residents of the fifty United States and the District of Columbia who are 13 and older. Winners will be selected at random on or about June 1, 2017. Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. Void where prohibited or restricted by law.

Sarah Dessen Giveaway!

Thank you so much to Chelsea Fought and Penguin Random House for letting me participate in #ReadADessen this year and sending me Lock & Key! Major thank you to all my lovely friends who sent in their thoughts about family! I love you guys so much!

I’d love to hear your thoughts on Family or thoughts about Lock & Key! Let me know in the comments below!

Be sure to check out the other blogs posting this week!

May 8 – YA Bibliophile
May 9 – Xingsings
May 10Paper Trail YA
May 11 – Dazzled by Books
May 12 – Dark Faerie Tales
May 8 – Bookmark Lit
May 8 – Dazzled by Books
May 10 – Peace Love Books
May 10Paper Trail YA
May 10 – Live Love Read
May 11 – Arctic Books
May 12 – Reader’s Candy


#ReadADessen: This Lullaby


I am so excited to be participating #ReadADessen campaign!! I’m a relatively new Sarah Dessen fan as of this year! I’ve always known Sarah’s been queen of contemporary, but I hadn’t been an avid contemporary romance reader until last year; starting with Jenny Han, Emery Lord, Morgan Matson, and Kasie West.

My curiosity about Sarah’s writing began with receiving the gorgeous ARC for Once and for All plus swag goodies at the book store I work at, Blue Bunny Books.  The plan was to take it home and give it to my friend and co-worker Kim, but I decided I’d give it a quick read. Well you could say I instantly fell in love with Sarah’s book!  I was then told I was “doing it all wrong” and I had to start from the beginning. Anyway long story short, reading Once and For All led me to requesting to participate in this campaign! I was ecstatic to receive This Lullaby, which I’ve been repeatedly told by several people is one of the best Dessen novels. I absolutely adored this novel!! Anyway you can always message me if you want to gush about this book!


About the Book

When it comes to relationships, Remy doesn’t mess around. After all, she’s learned all there is to know from her mother, who’s currently working on husband number five. But there’s something about Dexter that seems to defy all of Remy’s rules. He certainly doesn’t seem like Mr. Right. For some reason, however, Remy just can’t seem to shake him. Could it be that Remy’s starting to understand what those love songs are all about?


Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Indiebound

For this post, I am doing a playlist of sorts.  I really REALLY didn’t want to seem unoriginal with this idea, but there’s been a few songs I’ve come across on Google Play Music radio that reminded me of this book.  I’m going to do my best to choose a couple songs to match each character, however I am limiting myself to 5 characters so I don’t go too crazy.


(I give reasons why I chose these songs)


Goodness I love this boy so much! It’s weird to say that he reminds me of Ambrose in Once and For All, because no one know who I am talking about!! Ha! So sorry! This is what I get for reading book 13 and going backwards. I don’t want to say too much.

The first song I choose for Dexter is “Say You’ll Love Me” by Jessie Ware. Jessie’s voice is just captivating. She reminds me so much of Adele, Lana Del Rey, and Lorde. I picked this song because it represents how he must have felt right when Remy breaks his heart.

If Keith Urban’s The Fighter existed when This Lullaby was written, this should’ve been the song Dexter should have sung on Remy to convince her to trust in their relationship.

Last song I’m choosing for Dexter is Ed Sheeran’s Photograph, which I think is pretty self explanatory


I imagine that Lissa thought about her relationship with Adam would end up as a the the perfect married couple. The high school sweethearts like in Dan + Shay’s From the Ground Up

The song Fly by Maddie & Tae is the perfect song to help encourage a heartbroken Lissa, who needs to move on and start over in college.


Poor Chloe got so much crap from the other girls about her B-cups that I had to give her The Black Eyed Peas My Humps for her “anthem”.

I think Taylor Swift’s I Knew You Were Trouble sums up Chloe’s relationship with cheating college guys, but Ingrid Michaelson’s Girls Chase Boys also describes how she is now as she’s the only one who’s actively seeking a boyfriend.


Oh my goodness it took me so long to find the perfect song that encapsulates Remy as a person. She had always been wary of love and relationships, so she never allowed them to last for a long time, until Dexter.  Paramore’s The Only Exception fits her to a T.

Feist’s Bittersweet Melodies fits the moments when Remy can’t stop thinking about Dexter. But it could also fit for Dexter when he tries to be friends with Remy.

I love the acoustic version of I Choose You by Sara Barielles! It’s PERFECT for the end of the book!!


Jess was the hardest character to think of songs that fit her personality.  She’s the most responsible of all four girls plus she had to grow up faster to take care of her brothers. So finally I remembered I’m Not A Girl, Not Yet A Woman by Britney Spears.

Bonus songs for Remy + Chloe + Jess + Lissa:

Birdy’s Wings

The Ataris In This Diary

About Sarahsarahdessenjpg

Sarah Dessen is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of over a dozen novels for teens, which have received numerous awards and rave reviews. Her books have been published in over thirty countries and have sold millions of copies worldwide. She is the recipient of the 2017 Margaret A. Edwards Award from the American Library Association for outstanding contribution to young adult literature for her novels: Keeping the Moon, Dreamland, This Lullaby, The Truth about Forever, Just Listen, Along for the Ride, and What Happened to Goodbye. Her newest novel, Once and for All, will be released in June 2017. An NC native, she currently lives in Chapel Hill with her family.

Website | Goodreads | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook


Once and For All

As bubbly as champagne and delectable as wedding cake, Once and for All, Sarah Dessen’s thirteenth novel, is set in the world of wedding planning, where crises are routine.

Louna, daughter of famed wedding planner Natalie Barrett, has seen every sort of wedding: on the beach, at historic mansions, in fancy hotels and clubs. Perhaps that’s why she’s cynical about happily-ever-after endings, especially since her own first love ended tragically. When Louna meets charming, happy-go-lucky serial dater Ambrose, she holds him at arm’s length. But Ambrose isn’t about to be discouraged, now that he’s met the one girl he really wants.

Sarah Dessen’s many, many fans will adore her latest, a richly satisfying, enormously entertaining story that has everything—humor, romance, and an ending both happy and imperfect, just like life itself

Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Indiebound


Enter for a chance to win one (1) set of Sarah Dessen’s books in paperback (ARV: $132.00).
NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Enter between 12:00 AM Eastern Time on April 17, 2017 and 12:00 AM on May 29, 2017.  Open to residents of the fifty United States and the District of Columbia who are 13 and older. Winners will be selected at random on or about June 1, 2017. Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. Void where prohibited or restricted by law.

Sarah Dessen Giveaway!

Thank you so much to Chelsea Fought and Penguin Random House for letting me participate in #ReadADessen this year and sending me This Lullaby!

If you have read This Lullaby and have any suggestions for songs for characters I’ve mentioned or any other characters, let me know in the comments below!

Be sure to check out the other blogs posting this week!




TO CATCH A KILLER: Character Styles

HELLO! Welcome to the next stop on the blog tour for To Catch a Killer by Sheryl Scarborough.  Today we’ll take a look at some character styles. Erin Blake is always paying attention to details while thinking about where she was and whom she’s with, so it makes sense that she pays attention to what people are wearing.

We don’t know too much about Erin’s style other than a brief description of what she looks like.


I decided to focus on Erin’s two best friends Spam and Lysa, whose styles are complete opposites. While Spam sports an eclectic sense of style, which matches her outgoing, eccentric, and tech savvy disposition; Lysa has more fashionable outfits thus matching her calmer, logical, yet unyielding persona.


As I went back through descriptions I had marked with page flags, I noticed Sheryl would primarily describe 2 to 3 things Spam was wearing.  Most of the time it was the louder pieces of her wardrobe, so I enjoyed getting the chance to play around with her outfits. Below I highlight what items were actually in the book:

1. rainbow suspenders and matching over the knee socks
2. cowboy hat paired with light up disco ball earrings
3. everything was mentioned
4. black shorts jumper with sleeves rolled and red and black stripped leggings
5. bright red Wellington rain boots and matching red t-shirt
6. everything was mentioned
7. simple white full skirt prom dress and combat boots
*not pictured* clear vest made of bubble wrap held together by duct tape


Lysa’s style is more straight forward and she wears the same type of outfits that always color coordinate.  She’s just as bold as Spam, but in a different way.

“She always wears a pair of crisply pressed designer jeans paired with hoodies, tanks Vans sneakers, and socks that all color-coordinate.”

To Catch a Killer

Erin Blake has one of those names. A name that, like Natalee Holloway or Elizabeth Smart, is inextricably linked to a grisly crime. As a toddler, Erin survived for three days alongside the corpse of her murdered mother, and the case—which remains unsolved—fascinated a nation. Her father’s identity unknown, Erin was taken in by her mother’s best friend and has become a relatively normal teen in spite of the looming questions about her past.

Fourteen years later, Erin is once again at the center of a brutal homicide when she finds the body of her biology teacher. When questioned by the police, Erin tells almost the whole truth, but never voices her suspicions that her mother’s killer has struck again in order to protect the casework she’s secretly doing on her own.

Inspired by her uncle, an FBI agent, Erin has ramped up her forensic hobby into a full-blown cold-case investigation. This new murder makes her certain she’s close to the truth, but when all the evidence starts to point the authorities straight to Erin, she turns to her longtime crush (and fellow suspect) Journey Michaels to help her crack the case before it’s too late.

Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Indiebound | Book Depository | Indigo

Sheryl Scarborough.jpgAbout Sheryl

SHERYL SCARBOROUGH is an award-winning writer for children’s television. She holds an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts, lives in Washington state, and has always had an obsession with forensics. When she was twelve, her home was the target of a Peeping Tom. Sheryl diligently photographed his footprints and collected the candy wrappers he left behind. Unfortunately, he was never caught. But the desire to use evidence to solve a great mystery was sparked inside Scarborough all the same. To Catch a Killer is her debut.

Website | Twitter | Tumblr | Instagram | Goodreads

Major thanks to Lili and Diana over at Tor Teen!  Hope you all enjoyed seeing the different character styles!  Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!



Welcome to the next stop on the Fate of Flames tour hosted by Irish Banana Tours! We have a special post from Sarah Raughley discussing the inspiration behind her debut novel!




What inspired me to write Fate of Flames? Well, to be honest, I think Fate of Flames has been in the making for a couple of decades now. See, since I was a kid, I’ve always been creating “magical girl group” storylines, I guess because I wanted to be in one! Whenever my brothers would buy a Final Fantasy game I’d pretend to be the dark mage, like Rydia from Final Fantasy IV or Terra from Final Fantasy VI. I think every major story idea I’ve ever had starts out like, “there were these four/five girls and they each had different powers.” I’m not sure why. I think there’s something very empowering about these kinds of narratives. And considering how male-centric speculative fiction can be, I’ve always appreciated the idea of girls who have the power of the cosmos at their fingertips!



So when they announced Sailor Moon Crystal in 2012, I just had to go ahead with it and finally write a novel. I re-watched the anime and re-read the manga. And I started to imagine a whole world in which girls like the Sailor Scouts had to fight but without the comfort of secrecy. Stories like Sailor Moon were really formative for me as a young storyteller. That, Buffy, Avatar: The Last Airbender, are all stories that the book can be compared to and with good reason. Fate of Flames is basically my answer to the question: what if the Sailor Scouts had to fight evil in the public eye in an era of social media? I started to create the world around that very simple pitch. What would they fight against? Monsters of course. But if you’re going to go with monsters, you might as well go all out. That’s where the Pacific Rim part of the pitch comes in. Pacific Rim is like a lot of kaiju narratives out there. It’s got huge monsters and people have to band together to fight them off. So really, Fate of Flames is: four girls with magical powers come together to fight giant monsters. I couldn’t resist writing it!

It was difficult at first to get everything together, because the more I thought about the world, the bigger it got. I made sure to outline and plot everything out, always leaving room for surprises because that’s often where the magic happens. Flexibility is a big thing for me, but I couldn’t write this series without a bible that I could keep referring back to. There’s so much backstory and character stuff there’s no way I’d be able to keep it all in my head! From then on its writing. Writing, writing, editing, fixing, and more writing. But the one thing I had to keep in mind while writing was that no matter how hard the writing process got, I didn’t want to lose the spirit of that initial imaginative spark that created the idea in the first place. After all, we write because it’s fun. And magical girls kicking ass? Well, that’s always fun!



fate-of-flames-9781481466776_hr.jpgFate of Flames

Four girls with the power to control the elements and save the world from a terrible evil must come together in the first epic novel in a brand-new series.

When Phantoms—massive beasts made from nightmares and darkness—suddenly appeared and began terrorizing the world, four girls, the Effigies, each gained a unique power to control one of the classical elements: earth, air, fire, and water. Since then, four girls across the world have continually fought against the Phantoms, fulfilling their cosmic duty. And when one Effigy dies, another girl gains her power as a replacement.

But now, with technologies in place to protect the world’s major cities from Phantom attacks, the Effigies have stopped defending humanity and, instead, have become international celebrities, with their heroic feats ranked, televised, and talked about in online fandoms.

Until the day that New York City’s protection against the Phantoms fails, a man seems to be able to control them by sheer force of will, and Maia, a high school student, unexpectedly becomes the Fire Effigy.

Now Maia has been thrown into battle with three girls who want nothing to do with one another. But with the first human villain that the girls have ever faced, and an army of Phantoms preparing for attack, there isn’t much time for the Effigies to learn how to work together.

Can the girls take control of their destinies before the world is destroyed forever?

Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Indiebound | Book Depository

S.Raughley_credit Photo melaniegillis [dot] com .jpgAbout Sarah Raughley

Sarah Raughley grew up in Southern Ontario writing stories about freakish little girls with powers because she secretly wanted to be one. She is a huge fangirl of anything from manga to SF/F TV to Japanese Role Playing Games, but she will swear up and down that she was inspired by ~Jane Austin~ at book signings. On top of being a YA Writer, she is currently completing a PhD in English, because the sight of blood makes her queasy (which crossed Medical School off the list).

She is represented by The Bradford Literary Agency.

So far, you can also find her on Twitter, where work ethic goes to die.

Website | Twitter | Tumblr | Goodreads

Tour Schedule:

Week 1:
11/14: Such A Novel Idea – Review
11/15: The Irish Banana Review – Fast 5
11/16: Bookiemoji – Review
11/17: Swoony Boys Podcast – Dream Casting
11/18: Mundie Moms – Review

Week 2:
11/21: Alexa Loves Books – Bookish Style Files
11/22: The Story Sanctuary – Review
11/23: Live Love Read – Guest Post
11/24: Fiction Fare – Review
11/25: The Plot Bunny – Review



3 Finished Copies of FATE OF FLAMES (US Only)



Thank you Sarah for the lovely guest post! I am so excited to read this book inspired by my favorite Anime of all time! Also thank you Hannah for allowing me to participate in this blog tour


SST: Fear The Drowning Deep by Sarah Glenn Marsh

Sunday Street Team

Sunday Street Team is hosted and run by Nori over at ReadWriteLove28! Thank you Nori for the opportunity to be a part of this tour! We all adore this book!

Fear the Drowning Deep

Fear the Drowning Deep

Witch’s apprentice Bridey Corkill has hated the ocean ever since she watched her granddad dive in and drown with a smile on his face. So when a dead girl rolls in with the tide in the summer of 1913, sixteen-year-old Bridey suspects that whatever compelled her granddad to leap into the sea has made its return to the Isle of Man.

Soon, villagers are vanishing in the night, but no one shares Bridey’s suspicions about the sea. No one but the island’s witch, who isn’t as frightening as she first appears, and the handsome dark-haired lad Bridey rescues from a grim and watery fate. The cause of the deep gashes in Fynn’s stomach and his lost memories are, like the recent disappearances, a mystery well-guarded by the sea. In exchange for saving his life, Fynn teaches Bridey to master her fear of the water — stealing her heart in the process.

Now, Bridey must work with the Isle’s eccentric witch and the boy she isn’t sure she can trust — because if she can’t uncover the truth about the ancient evil in the water, everyone she loves will walk into the sea, never to return.

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository


What we liked:

The World Building
Fear the Drowning Deep takes place on the Isle of Man in 1913. The beautiful prose in this book definitely allows you, as a reader, to be transported there. Not only do you feel the creepy sense of mystery and darkness creeping in on a town where mythological creatures are very much alive, but you also can hear the waves crashing against the side of the cliffs and the mysterious creatures calling your name from the depths below. It’s so incredibly descriptive to the point where you feel as if you’re there once that book takes a hold of you.

The Family Support
This is something that you don’t see too often in YA books, but I believe it’s becoming more and more popular over time. She has a large family. A few sisters, a mother, and a father. All of these characters play a pretty vital role in this story and in supporting Bridey through her days working and as an outcast. Though they fight a lot, because what family doesn’t, they still have a beautiful underlying love for each other. I loved seeing this family’s strength throughout the novel!

The Mythology/Folklore
Eastern Europe is riddled with many folklore and mythological creatures of the sea. It was wonderful to see them really come alive and have the fear for this town really become yours. You not only hated the creatures and felt immobilized under the weight of this mystery, but you also found curiosity and a true fear of what was below the surface. The tension built around these creatures was real, folks! I also loved to see how Sarah really entwined the myths and folklore to make it work wonders for her novel. She created something all her own while basing it off of true told stories from a time long ago.

The Romance
Though Fynn and Bridey seemed a little rushed in their romance, I  guess that you can’t really have too many options on an island, can you? I can’t blame her! He’s hot, mysterious, and definitely needs her help. I do wish I could have known a little more about him earlier on, as you don’t really learn anything for a few chapters. I would have loved to be able to really see the character development for him come alive after a chapter or two. Overall, I think the romance in here is a definite shoe in for paranormal romance readers. You want a hot guy who has a bit of a damsel in distress situation mixed with a bit of hot alpha male with a purpose, you just found him. Obviously though, it’s a YA book, so don’t expect too much steam!

What could have been improved:

Tying Up Loose Ends
There were a few questions left open and a few loose ends I felt needed to be tied up by the end of the book. I can see how this might lead to a nice mysterious feel and continue the tension of the novel all the way to the end, but I also wish I was able to tie up the loose ends that are still hanging around in my brain. Sarah, I may be coming to you with some questions!

Overall, I think this was a wonderful YA paranormal with historical elements. Sarah’s lyrical prose is beautiful to read, and her world really comes alive for you. She knows how to build the tension and keep it there through the novel, even if it may take a little bit to really get you hooked in there. It’s a highly recommended book for readers of YA paranormal, mythology intellects, and fans of the sea alike! Four very full hearts!
funky-pink-heart funky-pink-heart funky-pink-heart funky-pink-heart

Sarah Glenn Marsh

About Sarah Glenn Marsh

Sarah Glenn Marsh writes young adult novels and children’s picture books. An avid fantasy reader from the day her dad handed her a copy of The Hobbit and promised it would change her life, she’s been making up words and worlds ever since. She lives in Virginia with her husband and four rescued greyhounds. When she’s not writing, she’s often painting, or engaged in pursuits of the nerd variety from video games to tabletop adventures and dungeon crawls. Her work is represented by Christa Heschke of McIntosh and Otis. Visit her online at http://www.sarahglennmarsh.com

Website | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | Goodreads

Sarah is just the sweetest person, and I’m so happy to have been able to meet her last year! It is always so much fun to chat with her! We’re ecstatic that your book has finally come out and we can’t wait to see more of your work. =)

We hope you all have a great Sunday!



A Darkly Beating Heart: Top Ten



Welcome to the next stop on the A Darkly Beating Heart blog tour hosted by Irish Banana.  Lindsay Smith provided us with her Top 10 things or places that reminded her of her book.




1.  A too-quiet forest as it starts to rain.

Reiko finds all kinds of secrets hidden in the mountainous woods outside the town of Kuramagi. I love that metallic wet scent on the air as the clouds just start to open up, and the dark gray sky contrasted with deep greenery, the way it goes eerily quiet and you can imagine all sorts of things tucked into the gaps between noises. Not that I particularly want to encounter what Reiko encounters!

2.  Crammed on the subway during rush hour.

I ride the Metro in Washington, DC as part of my daily commute, and it’s always fascinating to me that with so many people squeezing onto the trains, that for the most part, we all follow a social contract to keep to ourselves and shuffle about in our own little bubbles. Reiko dreams of smashing that contract to bits in parts of the book as she rides the Tokyo subway system.

3.  Onigiri (triangles of sticky rice wrapped in seaweed)

It’s better if I don’t explain why this common Japanese snack food reminds me of A Darkly Beating Heart. Trust me.

4.  The lightning-strike first instant after a rejection, betrayal, or loss.

For Reiko, that moment seems to stretch out forever. She has a hard time letting go of that initial fire of anger. She wants to let it burn and burn.

5.  Arts camp late at night.

Or any school/university/industrial building long after everyone’s left and it’s just you and the hum of the fluorescent lights and an eerie, distorted sense of time. Reiko fell in love with her first girlfriend at arts camp, and remembers striving and striving to impress her in one of those weird liminal hours by becoming a better artist than she really thinks she was.

6.  The Emperor Meiji shrine in Yoyogi Park.

This beautiful wooden Shinto shrine is embedded inside a lush forest right in the heart of Tokyo, though you’d never know it from the blanket of quiet that surrounds it. Reiko walks to the shrine after lurking around the Yoyogi Park bridge entrance, where all the cosplayers, gothic Lolitas, and aspiring aidoru hang out to be seen, and the contrast between the two settings overwhelms her.

7.  Traditional kimono, wooden geta, and tabi socks.

When Reiko finds herself dressed in historical Japanese clothing, she feels horribly out of place, but quickly accustoms to the wooden sandals and complex folds of the different styles of kimono.

8.  The glint of a blade.

Reiko sometimes feels that the only way to release her bundle of anger and frustration is against the edge of a razor. But there are many other sharp and dangerous things all around her the deeper she delves into the mysteries of Kuramagi.

9.  A photographic collage.

Before the incident that sends Reiko running to Japan, Reiko loves to make collages from her photography, creating strips of color and shapes that can put her thoughts and feelings on paper. Now, though, Reiko only picks up her camera to take publicity stills for her cousin, an aspiring aidoru.

10. The fog-shrouded streets of a historic Japanese village.

Reiko’s story came to me on a spooky Halloween walk through the historically preserved village of Tsumago. The only lights came from paper lanterns hanging in front of the low wooden structures that twisted around the hillside, bobbing like glowing eyes in the fog. It was too easy to conjure up all sorts of dark and sinister things that could lurk in the night between those lanterns.

27414389About A Darkly Beating Heart

A troubled girl confronts her personal demons in this time-travel thriller alternating between present day and 19th century Japan.No one knows how to handle Reiko. She is full of hatred; all she can think about is how to best hurt herself and those people closest to her. After a failed suicide attempt at her home in Seattle, Reiko’s parents send her to spend the summer with family in Japan, hoping she will learn to control her emotions. But while visiting Kuramagi, a historic village preserved to reflect the nineteenth-century Edo period, Reiko finds herself slipping backward in time into the nineteenth-century life of Miyu, a young woman even more vengeful than Reiko herself. Reiko loves escaping into Miyu’s life . . . until she discovers Kuramagi’s dark secret and must face down Miyu’s demons as well as her own.

Goodreads| Amazon | B&N | Indiebound | Book Depository

6420147About Lindsay

Lindsay Smith is the author of Cold War-era espionage novels Sekret and Skandal, as well as the fantasy novel Dreamstrider. She writes on foreign affairs and lives in Washington, DC. lindsaysmith.net



Website | Twitter | Tumblr | Instagram


3 Finished Copies of A DARKLY BEATING HEART (US Only)



Be sure to check out the other stops on the blog tour!

Tour Schedule:

Week 1:
Week 2:

SST: Bound By Blood and Sand (Interview)

Sunday Street Team




1.  What kinds of things did you have to research for Bound by Blood and Sand?

Most of my research focused on the desert world – I’m from the northeast, so it wasn’t something I was too familiar with. I started with the basics of what I wanted the temperature to be, then looked at real world deserts to start figuring out what kinds of plants and animals they’d have,  which led to deciding what kind of food they’d eat, the crops they’d grow, etc.


2. Where did the concept for the plot come from? Did it just hit you one day, or was it slowly developed?

It was definitely a slow process. It started with a conversation with my sister, who’s a global history teacher. She was putting together flashcards for her students to prepare them for multiple choice questions on the state test, and one of the things she told me was that her students should always link together the concepts of civilization and irrigation – irrigation was what allowed agriculture to develop and civilizations to begin to form.

Because I love fantasy, I started to wonder: if irrigation is one of the building blocks of civilization, then would a society with magic use that magic to create irrigation? The most interesting place to play with that idea would be a desert, so I knew it would be a story about a desert world that used magic to control its water. And of course, if you rely on magic, the most interesting story will be found in what happens when that magic vanishes. So that gave me the first seed of the plot.

But figuring out the rest of it – who the characters were, why the magic was vanishing, what they were going to do about it – came much, much more slowly. I toyed around with a ton of ideas and wrote and rewrote the book several times before it all finally came together.


3. How did you develop the depth of your world? How did you keep track of all of it?!

The depth of the world came from writing the story itself. I would draft a scene where the characters were eating and make an all-caps note to myself that said [WHAT FOOD?], or a scene where they were getting dressed and I’d note [WHAT DO THEY WEAR?]. After I finished drafting, I went through and started looking at those details and filling them out. It was based largely on the research I’d done already – what they eat is based on what kinds of plants and animals they have, which was based on what kind of plants and animals can survive in a harsh desert. Developing a stronger sense of their world’s culture came later, with a lot of help from my editor. She asked questions about what kind of art they’d have, how the different castes view one another, etc. She showed me a lot of places I could expand on what I’d started with. It was a huge learning process.

As for organizing, I wish I had a good system to keep track of it! But I don’t. I’m constantly scrolling up and down in the text looking for details I’m sure I included to make sure everything lines up.


4. Did you add a part of yourself or personal experiences to your characters/ in the book?

Yes and no – mostly no, honestly. I do think that any book is going to be shaped by the writer’s experiences. In my case, it came from a lot of eye-opening political events that happened during my 20s, which made me a lot more aware of inequalities in the real world. But none of the characters or events in BBB&S are based directly on anything that happened in the real world.


5. Was there any particular book that sparked your interest in writing, or interest in Bound by Blood and Sand in particular?

I’ve always been interested in writing – it’s been my hobby since middle school or earlier. So there wasn’t a specific influence. I’ve just always loved reading and writing.


6. Do you read outside your genre while writing?

Yep. I don’t read as widely as I probably should – most of what I read is concentrated in YA, especially Sci-Fiction/ Fantasy. But I do sometimes read books for grown ups, too. I also enjoy romance as a category, and science-related non-fiction. (For example, Jared Diamond’s non-fiction was actually pretty helpful when I was world building!)


7. Were you able to give any input to the cover design of Bound by Blood and Sand?

Only a little bit – but that’s okay with me. I’m not a very visual person or any kind of designer. The first version my editor shared with me was very close to the final, in a lot of ways – it had the desert, and Jae. (I was thrilled to see Jae on the cover! She looks just like I picture her.) The title was in a standard font and my editor let me know they wanted to have it hand-lettered, which was pretty cool – it’s definitely unique. I gave some minor feedback but overall loved it and think they did a fantastic job, and really couldn’t be more thrilled.

About Becky

Becky Allen grew up in a tiny town outside Ithaca, New York, and graduated from Brandeis University with a major in American studies and a minor in journalism. She is the website director of TheBody.com, an online HIV resource, and loves New York, brunch, and feminism. Becky lives in New York City.

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Bound by Blood and Sand

Jae is a slave in a dying desert world.

Once verdant with water from a magical Well, the land is drying up, and no one remembers the magic needed to keep the water flowing. If a new source isn’t found soon, the people will perish. Jae doesn’t mind, in a way. By law, she is bound by a curse to obey every order given her, no matter how vile. At least in death, she’ll be free.

Lord Elan’s family rules the fading realm. He comes to the estate where Jae works, searching for the hidden magic needed to replenish the Well, but it’s Jae who finds it, and she who must wield it. Desperate to save his realm, Elan begs her to use it to locate the Well.

But why would a slave—abused, beaten, and treated as less than human—want to save the system that shackles her? Jae would rather see the world burn.

Though revenge clouds her vision, she agrees to help if the kingdom’s slaves are freed. Then Elan’s father arrives. The ruler’s cruelty knows no limits. He is determined that the class system will not change—and that Jae will remain a slave forever.

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SST: A Shadow Bright & Burning (Interview)

Sunday Street Team


We’re kicking off this month’s Sunday Street Team featuring an interview with Jessica Cluess author of A Shadow Bright and Burning! Be sure to check out the other blogs putting up their posts today!




1. It seems like Henrietta will have to do a lot to prove herself as the first female sorcerer, can you talk a little bit about the stereotypes surrounding her and why you decided to make her such a powerful young woman?

Henrietta joins the sorcerers as a young, unmarried girl, which will naturally give her some problems. I thought about certain similarities between her and the young Queen Victoria. Both were young women with little experience, both had to find their way in a man’s world, both had to grow into their roles. I wanted Henrietta to be strong, but also vulnerable. She’s strong-minded, brave, and dedicated to those she loves, yes. But she’s also afraid of the Ancients, she’s never been in a physical battle and she doesn’t know how she’ll handle it, she doesn’t trust easily and she knows that working in this sorcerers’ world means some people will actively try to sabotage her. She feels like an impostor—because she is one—and she makes some very foolish decisions as a result, as well as some brave ones. In essence, I wanted her to be complex, sympathetic, and also a bit exasperating. She’s only sixteen, after all, and she makes her share of mistakes. In my opinion, creating female characters who are flawed as well as sympathetic is how you create well-rounded people we can all relate to.

2. Writing about actual sorcerers isn’t as common in today’s YA. What brought the idea for this book to you, and what made you choose to write about sorcerers?

I wanted a word everyone already knew. Wizards were out, obviously, and so were witches. I originally thought of calling them magicians, but the word sorcerer sounds majestic and a bit intimidating. So I thought that’d be appropriate. The idea of the story all came from a single image of a girl in Victorian dress shooting fire out of her hands, so I knew there’d be magic at play. I just didn’t know what everything would be called, and had to decide as I went along.

3. Can you tell us how your story of “The Chosen One” is different than others out there?

I’ve been pretty blatant in stating that Henrietta isn’t the Chosen One. It’s a case of mistaken identity. While that maybe spoils one of the surprises, I think it’s important to state up front. For one thing, if we just said everyone thinks she’s the chosen one, it doesn’t make the story stand out. For another, Henrietta not being the chosen one isn’t the primary focus of the book. It’s how does she react to that news, and what does she do when she isn’t the one. Also, can a person who isn’t anointed or chosen still be important?

4. Can you give us three characteristics that best describe Henrietta? How about your two male main characters as well?

Henrietta is intelligent, definitely, though it’s more book intelligence than life intelligence. She’s courageous, and she doesn’t trust easily.

As for the boys, well, there’re really three main boys, so I’ll mention them all. Rook, her childhood friend, is patient, loving, but also a bit quick to jump to conclusions. Magnus is charming, extroverted, and impulsive. Blackwood is withdrawn, deeply responsible, and a bit cold.

5. If you could be any character from your book, who would it be and why?

I don’t know, everyone in my book gets kind of a raw deal! I feel most like Hargrove, the sarcastic magician, but I’d prefer to be Magnus, at least for a short while. He’s easy going and always ready to laugh.

6. As a huge fan of Tamora Pierce, how did you feel when you found out she would blurb A Shadow Bright and Burning? It’s a huge honor!

When my editor sent me the blurb, I remember my entire body went numb. I just sat there, blinking at the screen, trying to breathe. She’s the queen of young adult fantasy in many ways, so it was stunning.

7. Writing Fantasy is a whole other ball field of creativity, writing, and selling. Do you have any advice on writing or publishing for other Fantasy writers?

Try to be emotionally invested in what you write. I’d give that advice to any writer, but especially for fantasy authors. Fantasy can be such an odd genre, full of talking swords, hobgoblins, assassins, you name it. If you can’t root all the weirdness in emotions and characters that resonate, it’s going to fall flat for the reader.

About Jessica

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A Shadow Bright and Burning

I am Henrietta Howel. The first female sorcerer. The prophesied one. Or am I?

Henrietta Howel can burst into flames. When she’s brought to London to train with Her Majesty’s sorcerers, she meets her fellow sorcerer trainees, young men eager to test her powers and her heart. One will challenge her. One will fight for her. One will betray her. As Henrietta discovers the secrets hiding behind the glamour of sorcerer life, she begins to doubt that she’s the true prophesied one. With battle looming, how much will she risk to save the city—and the one she loves?

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Praise for A Shadow Bright and Burning

“Cluess gamely turns the chosen-one trope upside down in this smashing dark fantasy.”Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

“Unputdownable. I loved the monsters, the magic, and the teen warriors who are their world’s best hope! Jessica Cluess is an awesome storyteller!”
—Tamora Pierce, New York Times bestselling author

“A fun, inventive fantasy. I totally have a book crush on Rook.”
—Sarah Rees Brennan, New York Times bestselling author

“Pure enchantment. I love how Cluess turned the ‘chosen one’ archetype on its head. With the emotional intensity of my favorite fantasy books, this is the kind of story that makes you
forget yourself.”

—Roshani Chokshi, New York Times bestselling author of The Star-Touched Queen

“A glorious, fast-paced romp of an adventure. Jessica Cluess has built her story out of my favorite ingredients: sorcery, demons, romance, and danger.”
—Kelly Link, author of Pretty Monsters


UNITED Launch Day Blitz


Hey there, booklovers!

I’m author Melissa Landers, and I’m thrilled to announce the release of UNITED, the final book in the Alienated trilogy. Our star-crossed lovers Aelyx and Cara have overcome some heavy obstacles to be together—riotous mobs, alien hybrids, and worst of all, high school on two planets. Now to stay together they’ll have to unite their people against a common enemy, a threat more deadly than they ever imagined. (NBD, right?) I’ve written an ending to this trilogy that makes my heart happy, and I hope you’ll love the conclusion as much as I do!
What do reviewers have to say about the series?

“The author’s storyline is out of this world.” –VOYA on Alienated
“The unusual plot and world building are ingenious.” –Library Media Connection on Alienated
“If [the third novel] is as entertaining as this tale, it can’t come soon enough.” –Kirkus Reviews on Invaded
“A fun genre-blending series that will only gain traction as it continues.” –Booklist on Invaded

If you love hot aliens, snarky humans, and wild sci-fi adventure, make sure to pick up a copy of UNITED today. It’s now available in stores and online.

Amazon | iBooksBarnes & Noble | Indie BoundBook Depository (free int’l shipping):

IMG_6532-1-smallAbout Melissa

Melissa Landers is a former teacher who left the classroom to pursue other worlds. A proud sci-fi geek, she isn’t afraid to wear her Princess Leia costume in public—just ask her husband and three kids. She lives outside Cincinnati in the small town of Loveland, “Sweetheart of Ohio.”

For more information or just to say hello, visit http://www.melissa-landers.com.

To celebrate my book birthday, I’m offering one lucky winner a set of all 3 mini-posters in the Alienated series—signed by me! The giveaway is open internationally.
Best of luck, and happy reading!




Spend May with Audrey + GIVEAWAY

finding audrey.png


The novel introduces readers to 14-year-old Audrey Turner, a teen in the throes of a severe social anxiety disorder after a bullying incident at school, and following her journey to rediscovering herself and her happiness. Receiving much critical acclaim from reviewers and fans, the book was hailed as “heartfelt,” “engaging,” and “relatable.”

Finding Audrey

Audrey spends most of her days hiding behind her dark sunglasses and in the safety of her own home, surrounded by her lovable but chaotic family. Interaction with non–family members has been almost impossible to master since the incident at school.

But then one day Linus arrives at her house. A friend of her brother’s, Linus makes an instant connection with Audrey and starts to chip away at her exterior, exposing the girl underneath—the girl Audrey herself has been searching for. What results is a tender love story that begins as a friendship and continues in the local Starbucks, where Audrey begins to heal the wounds that have threatened to hold her captive.

Filled with poignancy and laugh-out-loud moments, FINDING AUDREY gives readers a character they can relate to and a family to embrace. Kinsella’s story tackles serious topics with humor and heart and creates the next YA couple to root for in Audrey and Linus.

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Praise for Finding Audrey

A Publishers Weekly Summer 2015 Best YA Book

One of USA Today’s “25 Hottest Books of Summer”

A Kirkus Reviews 2015 Best Teen Book

“The Shopaholic scribe accurately weaves teenage insecurities with humor in her heartwarming YA debut.”—US Weekly

“An outstanding tragicomedy that gently explores mental illness, the lasting effects of bullying, and the power of friends and loving family to help in the healing.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred

“Sophie Kinsella’s YA debut is an insightful and deft handling of teen mental illness.” —Shelf Awareness, starred

“Kinsella’s knack for humor and sensitivity shine in a story that should easily expand her already substantial fan base.” —Publishers Weekly

“With her trademark wit and sass, Kinsella sensitively broaches the complexities of young adult mental health.” —Booklist

Kinsella Jacket Photo credit John SwannellAbout Sophie Kinsella

Sophie is the author of the bestselling Shopaholic series and the novels Can You Keep a Secret?, The Undomestic Goddess, Remember Me?, Twenties Girl, I’ve Got Your Number, and Wedding Night. Confessions of a Shopaholic was turned into a Hollywood movie. She lives in England.


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*Win 1 paperback copy of Finding Audrey*


Open to U.S Residents only
We have a right to disqualify anyone we deem to dishonest

Ends Wednesday June 1st!



Let us know if you’ve read Finding Audrey before or why you’re excited to read it! Be sure to check out the rest of the tour!

“Celebrate May with FINDING AUDREY!”

May 1: Bookhounds YA
May 2: The Reading Date
May 3: The Fandom
May 4: Here’s To Happy Endings
May 5: Love is Not a Triangle
May 6: Undeniably {Book} Nerdy
May 7: Novel Ink

May 8: Electively Paige
May 9: Into the Hall of Books
May 10: Eclectic Bookworms
May 11: Wall to Wall Books
May 12: Winterhaven Books
May 13: Once Upon A Twilight
May 14: A Midwife Life  

May 15: Book Syrup
May 16: Across the Words
May 17: Slow Reader’s Blog
May 18: Books Buying Beauty
May 19: In Wonderland
May 20: Fangirlish
May 21: YA Interrobang

May 22: Stories for Coffee
May 23: A Midsummer Night’s Read
May 24: Lost in Literature
May 25: Live, Love, Read
May 26: Bookish Lifestyle
May 27: Art Books Coffee

May 28: Luxury Reading
May 29: Peace Love Books
May 30: Swooney Boys Podcast
May 31: Fiction Fare