Monday, December 14, 2015

Come Back To Me Blog Tour: Review + Giveaway (It's INT!)


Welcome, welcome to the next stop in the Come Back To Me Blog Tour. I'm your host Lena, and I will be walking you through my journey with this fantastic novel. First up, a little background information.


Come Back to Me by Mila Gray
(Come Back to Me, #1)
Published by: Simon Pulse
Publication date: December 8th 2015
Genres: New Adult, Romance
Source: eARC courtesy of the author in exchange for an honest review
Goodreads


"In this heart-wrenching tale of love and loss, a young Marine and his best friend’s sister plunge into a forbidden love affair while he’s home on leave.

When a Marine Chaplain knocks on her door, Jessa’s heart breaks—someone she loves is dead. Killed in action, but is it Riley or Kit? Her brother or her boyfriend…

Three months earlier, Marine Kit Ryan finds himself back home on leave and dangerously drawn to his best friend Riley’s sister, Jessa—the one girl he can’t have. Exhausted from fighting his feelings, Kit finally gives in, and Jessa isn’t strong enough to resist diving headfirst into a passionate relationship.

But what was just supposed to be a summer romance develops into something far greater than either of them expected. Jessa’s finally found the man of her dreams and Kit’s finally discovered there’s someone he’d sacrifice everything for.

When it’s time for Kit to redeploy, neither one is ready to say goodbye. Jessa vows to wait for him and Kit promises to come home to her. No matter what.

But as Jessa stands waiting for the Marine Chaplain to break her heart, she can’t help but feel that Kit has broken his promise…

Riley or Kit? Kit or Riley? Her brother or her boyfriend? Who’s coming home to her?"

Thoughts: You guys, I cannot tell you enough how much I absolutely adored this novel. It has everything I look for in a New Adult novel- raw emotions, romance, realism, and yes, the undeniable heartache that comes with any kind of Marine-PTSD novel. I swooned, I cried, I got angry, I cried some more. All in all, it was an incredibly emotional journey, one I'd highly recommend taking.

Jessa and Kit have known each other for practically their whole lives. Kit is actually Riley (Jessa's older brother)'s best friend, and the three spent a great deal of time together. It's only natural that Kit started developing feelings for Jessa, but how is that suppose to work out? She's his best friend's little sister, and on top of that, their father pretty much hates him. Even alienates him at times. Yikes.

Kit and Riley eventually decide to join the Marines. What Jessa wasn't expecting is how much she ends up missing Kit. It's only until he's home on leave that things start to become something more. The only catch is, like with everyone that serves our country, his time home is limited. It has an expiration date, and what are the two suppose to do once he leaves again?

I absolutely loved watching Jessa and Kit's relationship grow into something I can only describe as beautiful yet real. The novel is told through both of their points of views, so you get to see their affections and feelings at every angle. Really, when it comes to NA books, I truly think this is usually the best path to take. Of the two, I have to admit I probably liked Jessa's POV more. She's just the type of girl you'd want to know, the kind that would have your back. She's also the kind of girl who has a totally swoon-worthy brother, one that's both protective yet still has a lightness to him. Can you tell that I adored these three characters? Probably because I did. I fell in love with each of them and kept praying that please, please let all of this end well.

What I found interesting in this novel is how different the fathers were. I really liked Kit's father. He's the type of guy anyone would be honored to call dad. Then you have Jessa and Riley's dad who, let's just say has a lot of issues and doesn't deal with them well. Towards the end, I found myself understanding why he is the way he is and why he treats people, especially his own children, the way he does, but I honestly didn't think it justified his actions.

Overall, I recommend this novel to fans of IN HONOR and SOMETHING LIKE NORMAL. I've had my eye on this book for a while and am glad it was finally released in the states. Definitely worth the wait!


Rating:

5 Stars




About The Author:

Mila Gray is the pen name for Sarah Alderson, author of Hunting Lila, Losing Lila, The Sound, Fated and Out of Control. Originally from London she has lived in Bali for the last four years with her husband and daughter. As well as writing young adult fiction under the name Sarah Alderson and adult fiction under the name Mila Gray, she also writes screenplays. You can find out more at www.milagray.com and on facebook: www.facebook.com/sarahjalderson

Author links:

https://www.facebook.com/MilaGrayBooks
https://twitter.com/MilaGrayBooks
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7910288.Mila_Gray


Giveaway: 3 winners for an exclusive copy of the UK edition of the second Mila Gray book, THIS IS ONE MOMENT. This giveaway is INTERNATIONAL so enter! You've got nothing to lose (but loads of chances to win).

Be sure to follow the rest of the tour for more chances to win!



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Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Review: How To Lose a Bachelor


Title: How To Lose A Bachelor
Author: Anna Banks
Published: November 9th 2015 by Entangled Publishing, LLC (Bliss)
Source: eARC courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review
Goodreads / Amazon

"When Rochelle Ransom auditioned for the dating show Luring Love, she had big plans for winning the prize money to help her favorite charity–and if she won the hot bachelor's heart, even better. But at the last minute she finds out the hot bachelor is her ex-boyfriend, Grant Drake. Desperate to keep her distance from him, she'll do anything–and everything–to get voted off.

Years ago, Rochelle broke Grant’s heart, and he's out for revenge. There's no way he'll vote her off.

After all, vengeance is a dish best served red-hot...and on live television.

When her hilarious antics to get kicked off the show escalate, Grant’s reminded why he fell in love with her the first time. Now he isn't sure which might be more fun... Seeing how far Rochelle is willing to go to get away or how far he will to keep her forever."

Thoughts: If you're looking for a boring, blah read, this is definitely NOT the book for you. Now, if you're looking for a fun, clever, and addicting novel, HOW TO LOSE A BACHELOR is the one. I can't say it took me by surprise, since I adore the author and her previous books. What I can say is, if you follow Anna on Twitter then you know how funny and witty she is, and HOW TO LOSE A BACHELOR further proves this.

After reading the summary, this novel sounded like a funny version of UnReal (GREAT show!). Guess what? That's exactly what it is! Rochelle (Don't call her Chelle) is a prestigious lawyer who decided to be a contestant on Luring Love (which is basically The Bachelor) in the hopes of winning the prize money for her charity, Helping Hands. What she wasn't expect was her ex, the guy who completely shattered her heart into a million pieces, to be the bachelor on the show. Though she wants to just quit and call it a loss, she can't help but think of all the good that prize money will do.

Then you have Grant. He is equally as crushed to see Rochelle there. After all, it wasn't just her heart that was broken all those years ago. Also, he can't help but question why she's on this show to begin with, Is there a chance for them to get back together? I guess we shall see!

The novel is told from both of their point of views. I swear, I'm not sure which is more comical: Rochelle living these humiliating moments or Grant recapping them and vice versa. Their chemistry is off the charts, but Rochelle is still so mad at Grant. They both playout these little revenge situations that end up blowing up in both of their faces. I almost cried from laughing so hard and picturing all of this in my head! It's clear they're meant to be together, but you still wonder if they're both willing to let go of the past in order to start a new future together.

There's also some interesting characters outside the main two. You have Maya, one of the other contestants on the show, who is just so easy to love. Had Rochelle and Grant not have been a match made for each other, I would've rooted for Maya. The other girls, with the exception of Ellie, are just off the charts, and not in a good way. They're so outrageous, and you can't help but love to hate them. Then you have Chris, the host and Grant's kind of friend friend from college. What are his real motives? Does he care about these two or is he mainly in it for the ratings? If you watched UnReal, Chris is kind of like a Rachel and Ricki (the producer) is very much like Julia. There's fun, there's adventure, there's TONS of drama, and of course, there's romance.

I know I've gone on and on about this novel, but it's only because I truly loved it and had such a blast reading it. More? Please?



Rating:

5 Stars

Friday, November 20, 2015

Design The Life You Love Blog Tour: Review + Giveaway


LINKS: Goodreads | Amazon | Facebook

"A joyful, inspirational guide to building the life you've always dreamed of, using the principles and creative process of an award-winning product designer.

Life, just like a design problem, is full of constraints-time, money, age, location, and circumstances. You can’t have everything, so you have to be creative to make what you want and what you need co-exist. Design the Life You Love is a joyful, inspirational guide to building the life you’ve always wanted, using the principles and creative process of an award-winning product designer. Through four steps that reveal hidden skills and wisdom, anyone can design a life they love!"



Review: I've never really review nor read any sort of guide or life planner, so whenever the opportunity to do so arose, I thought why not? This book ended up being a lot more fun and inspiring than I thought. From fun drawings to wonderful advice, I overall really enjoyed every minute of this one.

One thing I really loved (and it's such a silly thing to love) is the fact that it comes with a book marker. I know that seems random, but I loved that if I found something particularly inspiring, I could mark it with the bookmark and look reflect on it later. The whole concept of the book is to look at life differently, to be inspired and showing techniques on how to do so. I liked the fact that it discussed using a sketchbook and suggests you draw something everyday. Be creative and remember to be playful. Do you know how many semi-used sketchbooks I own? Too many, and I think it's time to bust them out, wake up my brain, be the me I was meant to be!!!

Okay, it got a little intense there, but you get the idea.

"Because an original life is a life well-lived."

Best. Quote. Ever.

All and all, I really enjoyed this one. In fact, I may purchase a couple of these as gifts for some of my favorite people. Will one be you? Do I even know you? Maybe we should change that! ANYWAY, I highly recommend this one for people looking to be inspired or add more light into their life.

Rating:

4 Stars



Tour Schedule:

11/13: The Irish Banana Review - Excerpt
11/14: Kimberly Faye Reads - Review
11/15: Reading Teen - Excerpt
11/16: Don't Fold the Page - Review
11/17: Seeing Double in Neverland - Excerpt
11/18: Good Books & Good Wine - Review
11/19: Reads All the Books - Excerpt
11/20: Addicted 2 Novels - Review
11/21: No BS Book Reviews - Excerpt
11/22: Resch Reads & Reviews - Review
11/23: Lost In Lit - Excerpt
11/24: Avid Reader - Review
11/25: Rattle the Pages - Excerpt
11/26: Novel Ink - Review


Giveaway: 2 Finished Copies of DESIGN THE LIFE YOU LOVE (US Only)


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Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Lies About The Truth Blog Tour

Title: Lies About The Truth
Author: Courtney C. Stevens
Published: November 3rd 2015 by HarperTeen
Goodreads / Amazon / B&N / IndieBound / The Book Depository

"Sadie Kingston, is a girl living in the aftermath. A year after surviving a car accident that killed her friend Trent and left her body and face scarred, she can’t move forward. The only person who seems to understand her is Trent’s brother, Max.

As Sadie begins to fall for Max, she's unsure if she is truly healed enough to be with him — even if Max is able to look at her scars and not shy away. But when the truth about the accident and subsequent events comes to light, Sadie has to decide if she can embrace the future or if she'll always be trapped in the past. "

Thoughts: THE LIES ABOUT THE TRUTH completely caught me off-guard in the best possible ways. The emotions, so raw and pure, and the characters...I simply cannot find the right words to describe how truly remarkable this novel really is. I have goosebumps just thinking about it!

From the summary, you can see that this isn't a lighthearted novel. Sadie survived a car accident that took the life of her best friend. Though she survived the accident, she is left with scars on her face and body as well as ones on her soul and heart. It's not until her and Max (Trent's brother) start emailing each other and seeing each other again that she starts to really heal inside.

First off, I really adored Sadie. Though I've never had to deal with something so tragic and heartbreaking, I could experience what she was going to and relate. She has this strength inside of her that I really admired. I enjoyed reading about her journey and the mystery being the accident.

While I liked Max, I don't know if I really loved him. The romance between the two was sweet, and I really enjoyed it. I just didn't find Max swoon-worthy for some reason, and I honestly think it's me (not the book). Maybe I've been reading too many "adult" novels or something. He's more of a best friend type, but I do think he's perfect for Sadie.

Overall, I really enjoyed THE LIES ABOUT THE TRUTH and look forward to the author's next novels. She's definitely on my radar now, and I've got my eye on her. I loved this book so much, I ended up purchasing the ebook for FAKING NORMAL (How could I not?). If you're a fan of SAVING JUNE of FALLING INTO PLACE, you'll easily fall in love with THE LIES ABOUT THE TRUTH.

Rating:

4.5 Stars



About COURTNEY C. STEVENS:
Courtney C. Stevens grew up in Kentucky and lives in Nashville, Tennessee. She is an adjunct professor and a former youth minister. Her other skills include playing hide-and-seek, climbing trees, and being an Olympic torch bearer. She is also the author of Faking Normal, which Kirkus Reviews called "a story that resonates" and Publishers Weekly called a "rich debut," as well as the e-novellaThe Blue-Haired Boy.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Tumblr

Giveaway:
3 Finished Copies of THE LIES ABOUT TRUTH

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Be sure to check out the rest of the tour for exclusive interviews and more reviews!

Week 1:

Nov. 9: Such A Novel Idea - Review
Nov. 10: Jenuine Cupcakes - Q&A
Nov. 11: Addicted 2 Novels - Review (You're here! Yay! Come back soon!)
Nov. 12: Kimberly Faye Reads - Q&A
Nov. 13: Next Page Please - Review

Week 2:

Nov. 16: Katie's Blok Blog - Q&A
Nov. 17: A Perfection Called Books - Review
Nov. 18: Chapter By Chapter - Q&A
Nov. 19: The Reading Date - Review
Nov. 20: Andi's ABCs - Q&A

Sunday, November 8, 2015

How To Be Brave Blog Tour


How To Be Brave: A Novel
By: E. Katherine Kottaras
St. Martin’s Griffin
Publication Date: November 3, 2015
Hardcover: 9781250072801 / $18.99 USD
eBook: 9781466884670 / $9.99 USD

"An emotional contemporary YA novel about love, loss, and having the courage to chase the life you truly want.

Reeling from her mother's death, Georgia has a choice: become lost in her own pain, or enjoy life right now, while she still can. She decides to start really living for the first time and makes a list of fifteen ways to be brave - all the things she's wanted to do but never had the courage to try. As she begins doing the things she's always been afraid to do - including pursuing her secret crush, she discovers that life doesn't always go according to plan. Sometimes friendships fall apart and love breaks your heart. But once in a while, the right person shows up just when you need them most - and you learn that you're stronger and braver than you ever imagined. "

Excerpt:


This is what it was like:

I didn’t want you to come. I didn’t want you there.
The day before school, the very first year,
we waited in line for my schedule.

They stared. Those in line around us—
the other girls and their moms,
the ones who were my year,
who were never my friends—
They saw how you were big, planetary, next to them.
Next to me.

The girl in pigtails, someone’s sister,
asked: Is there a baby inside?
Her mother, red now, whispered in her ear.

But the girl didn’t mind:
Oh, so she’s fat.

The other girls, the ones who were my year
who were never my friends—they laughed at you, quietly.
At me.

Her mother said she was sorry, so sorry,
And you said: It’s fine. It’s fine.
But it wasn’t.

You squeezed my hand, and then to the girl in pigtails,
you said: I am big, yes. But I am beautiful, too.
And so are you.

Her mother pulled her child away.
She left the line and let us go first.
I didn’t say: You shouldn’t have come.
I didn’t say: I don’t want you here.

But I also didn’t say: I love you.
Or: Thank you for being brave.

Later that night, I cried:
I don’t want to go. I don’t want to face them.
And every year after.

You’d look at me like I was that girl,
and you’d say, as though it were true:
You are possibility and change and beauty.
One day, you will have a life, a beautiful life.
You will shine.

I didn’t see it. I couldn’t see it,
not in myself,
not in you.

Now, it’s not like that anymore.
This is what it’s like:
It’s quiet in our house. Too quiet. Especially tonight. The day before my first day of
senior year.

The A/C hums, the fridge hums, the traffic hums.
I’m standing at my closet door, those old knots churning inside my stomach again.
I don’t want to go tomorrow. I need to talk to her.
Instead, I’ve done what she always did for me the night before the first day of the school
year. I’ve picked out three complete outfits, hung them on my closet door.

It’s a good start, I guess.

Outfit #1: Dark indigo skinny jeans (are they still considered skinny if they’re a size 16?),
drapey black shirt, long gold chain necklace that Liss gave me, and cheap ballet flats that hurt
my feet because they’re way too flat and I hate wearing shoes with no socks.

Outfit #2: Black leggings, dark blue drapey knee- length dress (draping is my thing), gold
hoop earrings that belonged to my mom, and open-toed black sandals, but that would mean a
last-minute half-assed pedicure tonight. A spedicure, if you will.

Outfit #3: A dress my mom bought for me two years ago. The Orange Dress. Well, really
more like coral. With embroidered ribbons etched in angular lines that camouflage my flab.
Knee-length (not too short/not too long). Three-quarter-length sleeves (to hide the sagging). It’s
perfectly retro. And just so beautiful. Especially with this utterly uncomfortable pair of canary-
colored peep-toe pumps that belonged to my mom.

I begged her for the dress. I made her pay the $125 for it. I knew my parents didn’t have
the money, but I couldn’t help crying when I saw myself in the mirror. It fit (it’s a size 14), and I
think she saw how pretty I felt because I did feel pretty for the first time, so she charged it.

But I’ve never worn it.
The day after, she went into the ER, her heart acting up again. She needed another
emergency stent, which meant more dye through her kidneys, which meant dialysis a few weeks
later, which meant the beginning of the end of everything.

I never put it on after that.
It’s just so bright. So unlike everything else I wear.
I could wear it tomorrow.
I could. And if she were here, she would tell me to.
I really need to talk to her.
It’s just so quiet in this house.



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

E. Katherine Kottaras is originally from Chicago, but now she writes and teaches in the Los Angeles area. She holds an M.A. in English from the University of California, Irvine and teaches writing and literature at Pasadena City College. She is at her happiest when she is either 1) at the playground with her husband and daughter and their wonderful community of friends, 2) breathing deeply in a full handstand, or 3) writing. She now lives in Los Angeles where she's hard at work on her next book.

Giveaway: Thanks to the amazing people at St. Martin's Press, I am giving away a copy of HOW TO BE BRAVE. This giveaway is only open to US participants and ends 11/30. Good luck, and may the odds be ever in your favor.

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Links:

*Interactive trailer
*Add How To Be Grave on Goodreads
*St. Martin's Website
*Griffin Teen Facebook
*Griffin Teen Twitter
*Griffin Teen Tumblr

Author links:

*Author's website
*Facebook
*Twitter
'*Tumblr
*Instagram

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

What We Left Behind Blog Tour

Title: What We Left Behind
Author: Robin Talley
Published: October 27th 2015 by Harlequin Teen
Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / IndieBound


"From the critically acclaimed author of Lies We Tell Ourselves comes an emotional, empowering story of what happens when love isn't enough to conquer all.

Toni and Gretchen are the couple everyone envied in high school. They've been together forever. They never fight. They're deeply, hopelessly in love. When they separate for their first year at college—Toni to Harvard and Gretchen to NYU—they're sure they'll be fine. Where other long-distance relationships have fallen apart, their relationship will surely thrive.

The reality of being apart, however, is a lot different than they expected. As Toni, who identifies as genderqueer, falls in with a group of transgender upperclassmen and immediately finds a sense of belonging that has always been missing, Gretchen struggles to remember who she is outside their relationship.

While Toni worries that Gretchen, who is not trans, just won't understand what is going on, Gretchen begins to wonder where she fits in Toni's life. As distance and Toni's shifting gender identity begins to wear on their relationship, the couple must decide—have they grown apart for good, or is love enough to keep them together? "


Thoughts: WHAT WE LEFT BEHIND is a diverse coming of age novel about two people trying to figure out where they belong in this crazy world. This novel brought back so many nostalgic moments for me- What's it like leaving for college and home for the first time, what it was like being on my own, and how scary that can be. Not everyone, but I feel like most people change and start beginning to piece together who they are and will ultimately become those first two years of college. Imagine doing all those things and on top of that, being confused about whether you're meant to be who you were or someone different.

Now, I must admit, I have mixed emotions about this novel. It was a very difficult read for me, and not because of the subject matter. No, the gender identity-genderqueer theme was what originally drew me to WHAT WE LEFT BEHIND. I love diverse books and wish there were more out there. No, what irritated me, if I'm being honest, is Toni as an overall person.

The novel is split between both her and Gretchen's point of view. Toni came off as pretentious, and I felt like she spent the majority of the novel preaching and educating us, the reader, about what it's like being genderqueer. That's great, and yes, more people should enlighten others, help them understand what it's like. The only thing is, when Toni did this, it felt like being in a classroom listening to a monotone professor go on and on, and even though you're interested in the subject matter, you can't help but feel slightly bored at the way it's being explained. Toni's point of view started feeling like I was reading a non-fiction documentary instead of a fictional novel. Top all of the off with a somewhat narcissistic character, and that pretty much rounds up Toni. I understand that she's confused and that she's going through a lot, but gosh...she was just kind of a jerk sometimes, right? She's just too judgmental for my taste, and yes everyone has flaws, but I simply did not like her as a person. I can't be alone in thinking this.

Maybe my feelings for Toni are clouded, because I continually felt bad for Gretchen. She deserved better than her. You, the reader, know going in that this isn't a love story that would end well. There will be heartache, and it will most certainly be a difficult read. It's sad, yet you have to accept that people change and grow apart. Sometimes high school sweethearts last, but it's rare (and beautiful when it does). Towards the end, I kept prepping myself for the ultimate break-up, waiting for them to just tear the band-aid off. Are they really going to try to make it work or will they call a quits? When the defining scene came, instead of grief or bitterness, I felt incredibly touched. Weirdly enough, that was my favorite scene in this novel. It was wonderfully written, and I truly felt touched by both of these characters.

These are two people I will not be forgetting anytime soon.



Rating:

3 Stars


About the author: Robin Talley, author of Lies We Tell Ourselves (September 2014) and What We Left Behind (October 2015), grew up in Roanoke, Virginia. A Lambda Literary Fellow, Robin now lives in Washington, D.C., with her wife, plus an antisocial cat and a goofy hound dog. When Robin’s not writing, she’s often planning communication strategies at organizations fighting for equal rights and social justice. You can find her on the web at www.robintalley.com or on Twitter at @robin_talley.


Giveaway: The fabulous people at Harlequin Teen are giving away 3 finished copies of WHAT WE LEFT BEHIND. To enter, all you have to do is fill out the Rafflecopter form below. Special thanks to the fabulous Hannah from Irish Banana Tours for organizing this amazing tour.

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Friday, October 23, 2015

Harper Teen Winter 2016 Tour


Welcome, welcome, to The Isle aka the next stop in the Harper Winter 2016 Blog Tour. This will come in handy later, but today's daily word (or safe word, whatever you'd like to call it) is: HAVE. Anywho, let's get the show started!


"The heart-racing and thrilling sequel to The Ward about a teenage female drag racer who will do anything to save her sister—and a flooded futuristic Manhattan.


Drought season is coming....

The Ward is in trouble—its streets filled with seawater after a devastating flood and its impoverished inhabitants suffering from a deadly disease called the Blight.

Ren, with the help of her scientist friend, Callum, and her racing buddy, Derek, has discovered a cure—miraculous spring water—administering it to her sick sister, Aven. But when Aven is kidnapped by Governor Voss, the malevolent dictator of the United Metro Isles (UMI), Ren must go on a dangerous mission to save her sister, again.

The mysterious healing water is the only source of freshwater throughout the entire UMI—water that Ren had been tasked by the government to discover. Although she refuses to give up the water’s location, Governor Voss has his own selfish reasons for wanting it. And he will do anything to satisfy his thirst for unquenchable power.

But Ren and Aven have more enemies than the governor. An ancient order, the Tètai, has been guarding the magical water for hundreds of years. And they will kill to protect it. With the Ward in desperate need of freshwater and wracked by disease—and deadly enemies at every turn—the sisters face a dangerous journey, marred by mysterious secrets and horrifying truths, to save their friends and neighbors, and a city. "


About the Author: Jordana Frankel is a Jersey native and does not enjoy nonsense in the least (please refer to exhibit A). She is fluent in procrastination, has a deep and abiding respect for dogwalkers, and was once fearful of fire. She pretends she is invisible from time to time, pretends she is visible from time to time, likes to spin things (fire, her wheels, stories, her keychain when poi are inappropriate), and she lies for a living, but can't lie to save her face.

(This stuff is true though, she promises.)

She's been a camp counselor, a salesperson of diamonds, a hostess at a southwestern grill, an archivist of rare books, a yoga instructor, and a reading teacher, but her shining moment was when she got to hang out in Walmart for 12 hours a day as the AXE girl. (Does your man have hard, spiky hair? DOES HE?!? No, but really, ewww. That's gross.)

Etcetera, etcetera, she received her B.A. in English from Goucher College, graduated, ate lots of pasta, accumulated much laundry, and then went to live in Italy for a year. (You see, Jordana hoped to be an artiste someday. Le sigh.) But then she decided that poetry was more practical, what with poetry reality TV shows becoming all the rage, and those poetry dance clubs with the smarmy, handlebar moustached bouncers. Those guys are awesome. So she went for her MFA in Poetry at Hollins University. Naturally.

But then she graduated, as all students must one day let go of the safe hands of academia, and she moved back to NYC. Which eats people. But hallelujah! She got her first big-girl job at The Literary Group International (bless their hearts for taking a chance on a poetry grad), a literary agency, where she'd started as an intern reading queries and then assisted editorially. At Linn Prentis Literary, also a literary agency, she handled foreign sales, picked up gems from unsolicited mail, and helped authors through the publishing process. And then it was onto The Book Report Network where she handled ads and promos for features on Teenreads.com, Kidsreads.com, and GraphicNovelReporter.com.

Jordana's debut novel, THE WARD, (KT Books/HarperCollins) is in stores now.

She hopes never to have to write in third person again.

It was weird.

Add The Isle on Goodreads

Preorder The Isle From...

*Amazon
*Barnes and Noble
*IndieBound
*Book Depository


Giveaway and rules: There are actually TWO giveaways going on. Let's start with the first one. The crazy awesome people at Harper Teen are giving away a copy of each title on this tour. That's right, that's the entire Harper Teen Winter 2016 catalog which is well over 30 books (I lost count after 30). Be sure to check out all of the other stops (listed below) to see all of the other books coming out and what you can possibly win!

How to enter: Simple fill out the Rafflecopter form listed below. The more authors you follow, the higher your chances are in winning.

The second giveaway. You can win 5 Finished Copies from the Harper Teen Fall 2015 Catalog. Those 5 books are: The Lies About Truth, Walk on Earth A Stranger, Dreamland, Dumplin’, and Da Vinci’s Tiger

How to enter:

Collect the daily word from each blog stop during the Harper Winter 2016 Tour (a total of 45). Once you’ve collected them all, email the complete saying to: HarperTeenTour@gmail.com



1.) Winner must have a valid US mailing address to receive the prize

2.) Winner must be over 13

3.) Only one (1) entry per person for Prize #2 – duplicates will be deleted.

4.) Only a completed phrase will be accepted as an entry – do not email each word/phrase daily. Wait until you have the complete saying and then email in.

5.) All email submissions must be received by 11:59 PM EST 11/30/2015.

6.) Winners will be selected 12/1/2015 and will have 48 hours to claim their prize before another is selected.

7.) Participating blogs and bloggers are not responsible for unsent, damaged, and/or stolen prizes offered by the publisher.



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This is the Harper Winter 2016 Tour!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Not After Everything Giveaway


"A gritty but hopeful love story about two struggling teens—
great for fans of The Spectacular Now, Willow, and Eleanor and Park

Tyler has a football scholarship to Stanford, a hot girlfriend, and a reliable army of friends to party with. Then his mom kills herself. And Tyler lets it all go. Now he needs to dodge what his dad is offering (verbal tirades and abuse) and earn what his dad isn’t (money). Tyler finds a job that crashes him into Jordyn, his former childhood friend turned angry-loner goth-girl. She brings Tyler an unexpected reprieve from the never-ending pity party his life has become. How could he not fall for her? But with his dad more brutally unpredictable than ever, Tyler knows he can’t risk bringing Jordyn too deeply into the chaos. So when violence rocks his world again, will it be Jordyn who shows him the way to a hopeful future? Or after everything, will Tyler have to find it in himself."

If you guys didn't see my review for NOT AFTER EVERYTHING back in August, just know that I LOOOOOVED this novel. It's the first novel this year that brought multiple tears to my eyes. Heck, I'm still reeling from the emotional damage it did to be back then. Like I said before, please, please, to all the book gods out there, please let there be a sequel or a follow-up of some sort!

Thus, thanks to the fabulous people at Penguin Random House, I am hosting a giveaway! One of you lucky folks will win a copy of NOT AFTER EVERYTHING (eek!). This giveaway is only open to US participants and ends November 1st.


Good luck, and may the odds be ever in your favor.

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We Are All Made of Molecules Review + Giveaway


Title: We Are All Made of Molecules
Author: Susin Nielsen
Published: May 12th 2015 by Wendy Lamb Books
Goodreads


"Thirteen-year-old Stewart is academically brilliant but socially clueless.
Fourteen-year-old Ashley is the undisputed “It” girl in her class, but her grades stink.

Their worlds are about to collide when Stewart and his dad move in with Ashley and her mom. Stewart is trying to be 89.9 percent happy about it, but Ashley is 110 percent horrified. She already has to hide the real reason her dad moved out; “Spewart” could further threaten her position at the top of the social ladder.

They are complete opposites. And yet, they have one thing in common: they—like everyone else—are made of molecules."


Review: You guys, this a beautifully written, wonderfully crafted coming of age novel about loss, love, family, hope, and more. . It says something when a book brings tears to your eyes, and you're only in the first chapter. WE ARE ALL MADE OF MOLECULES is an incredibly touching novel, and though I knew it was going to be good, I wasn't expecting how crazy good it really is. Thank you, Susin, for exceeding my expectations!

First off, I absolutely loved that the novel was told in dual points of views and how the author depicted them. Both Ashley and Stewart were realistic (flaws and all!), and so were the situations they dealt with (death of a parent, a gay father, etc.). Poor Ashley is stuck between being who everyone wants her to be and yearning to be herself. In the beginning, I wasn't sure if I'd like Ashley. There were times where I thought she was downright cruel to Stewart and became increasingly irritated with her overall bratty nature. Once I started realizing her own struggles, I began opening my heart out to her and am glad I did.

Then you have Stewart, Sweet Stewart, who lost his mother and is coping with being the smart yet "dorky" kid at school. He's brilliant but doesn't know how to talk or really be around another people. He's going through this awkward time period, and life just keeps handing him lemons.

Together, I felt like the both of them, even though they had a rocky start, grew so much in such a short period of time. I honestly didn't know if they'd make their new family situation work, and believe me, it was work for them. It's amazing certain circumstances can completely change the course of someone's life.

Would I recommend this novel? Of course! It's heartfelt and just overall extraordinary book about the different types of families out there and adapting as you go.

Rating:

5 Stars


Giveaway: Thanks to the amazing people at Penguin Random House, I am giving away one copy of WE ARE ALL MADE OF MOLECULES. This giveaway is only open to US participants and ends November 1st.


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Monday, October 12, 2015

Can't Live With 'Em: Favorite Character That's A Sibling


Welcome, welcome, to the next stop in the First & Then Superlatives Blog Tour. I'm so excited to be a part of this tour, because (to be honest) FIRST & THEN is probably my favorite Swoons book thus far. Expect a glowing review soon.

In the mean time, I have the very awesome Emma Mills, author of FIRST & THEN, to discuss Devon and a certain fictional character.

If Devon could pick anyone in literature to be her sibling, who would it be and why?

I would love for Devon to have a sister! If I could pick anyone in literature, I’d have to go with Jane from Pride and Prejudice. Jane has such a naturally sweet disposition that might help to ground Devon a bit. Devon is pragmatic, and can be a bit negative, while Jane is so loving and inclined to see the best in people; I think they’d balance each other out very well!

GREAT answer! I, too, think they'd balance each other out well!


"Devon Tennyson wouldn't change a thing. She's happy watching Friday night games from the bleachers, silently crushing on best friend Cas, and blissfully ignoring the future after high school. But the universe has other plans. It delivers Devon's cousin Foster, an unrepentant social outlier with a surprising talent for football, and the obnoxiously superior and maddeningly attractive star running back, Ezra, right where she doesn't want them first into her P.E. class and then into every other aspect of her life.

Pride and Prejudice meets Friday Night Lights in this contemporary novel about falling in love with the unexpected boy, with a new brother, and with yourself. "



Giveaway: Thanks to the fabulous people at Swoon Reads, I am giving away one copy of FIRST & THEN. This giveaway is only open to US participants and ends October 31st (boo, muhahahaha, etc.). Good luck, and may the odds be ever in your favor.


*Add FIRST & THEN on Goodreads
*Emma's Twitter
*Emma on YouTube
*Amazon
*Barnes & Noble
*IndieBound

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Friday, October 9, 2015

A Madness So Discreet Blog Tour: Mindy's Top 10 Favorite Horror Books/Movies


Welcome, welcome, to the next stop in the A Madness So Discreet Blog Tour. I actually met Mindy a year or so ago during one of Harper's fall tours. Let me tell you guys, she is both brilliant and hilarious, and her books reflect both of these things (maybe more brilliant and not as much hilarious). Anywho, let's talk about the book!


Grace Mae knows madness.

She keeps it locked away, along with her voice, trapped deep inside a brilliant mind that cannot forget horrific family secrets. Those secrets, along with the bulge in her belly, land her in a Boston insane asylum.

When her voice returns in a burst of violence, Grace is banished to the dark cellars, where her mind is discovered by a visiting doctor who dabbles in the new study of criminal psychology. With her keen eyes and sharp memory, Grace will make the perfect assistant at crime scenes. Escaping from Boston to the safety of an ethical Ohio asylum, Grace finds friendship and hope, hints of a life she should have had. But gruesome nights bring Grace and the doctor into the circle of a killer who stalks young women. Grace, continuing to operate under the cloak of madness, must hunt a murderer while she confronts the demons in her own past.

Now, it's time for Mindy's Top 10 Horror Flicks/Books. It is, after all, that time of year, oui?


1) Book: The Stand by Stephen King

2) Movie: Event Horizon (1997)

3) Book: In The End by Demitria Lunetta

4) Movie: Paranormal Activity (2007)

5) Book: Another Little Piece by Kate Karyus Quinn

6) Movie: Vertigo (1958)

7) Book: Project Cain by Geoffrey Girard

8) Movie: The Woman in Black (2012)

9) Book: The Passage by Justin Cronin

10) Movie: The Mothman Prophecies (2002)


Great list, Mindy, and thank you so much for sharing this with us! I've personally have seen Event Horizon, and it was definitely the scariest movie I have ever seen. No, all of the noes, haha.



LINKS: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBook | The Book Depository


ABOUT MINDY McGINNIS:
Mindy McGinnis is a YA author who has worked in a high school library for thirteen years. Her debut, NOT A DROP TO DRINK, a post-apocalyptic survival story set in a world with very little freshwater, has been optioned for film my Stephanie Meyer's Fickle Fish Films. The companion novel, IN A HANDFUL OF DUST was released in 2014. Look for her Gothic historical thriller, A MADNESS SO DISCREET in October of 2015 from Katherine Tegen Books. Mindy is represented by Adriann Ranta of Wolf Literary.

LINKS: Website | Twitter | Facebook

TOUR SCHEDULE:

Week 1:
10/5 - My Guilty Obsession: Top 10 Reasons Mindy Would be Committed to an Asylum in the 1800's
10/6 - Reads All the Books: Review
10/7 - The Book Addict's Guide: Q&A with Mindy McGinnis
10/8 - Paperback Princess - Review
10/9 - Addicted 2 Novels (you're here, duh!)

Week 2:
10/12 - Words We Heart: Review
10/13 - Winterhaven Books: 10 Scariest Sounds
10/14 - A Perfection Called Books: Review
10/15 - Across the Words: Top 5 Creepiest Asylums
10/16 - Adventures in Reading: Review


GIVEAWAY: One winner will receive a Harper Teen horror themed prize pack! This giveaway is only open to US participants.

Good luck, and don't let the bed bugs bite!


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Saturday, October 3, 2015

Illuminae Blog Tour: Giveaway


Greetings, beautiful bookish people! Happy Saturday, and welcome to the next stop in the ILLUMINAE blog tour. Thanks to the fabulous people at Penguin Random House, I am giving away a copy of this special book to one lucky winner. Haven't heard of it? Have you been living under a rock? Just kidding, but seriously, let's remedy this!


"This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do.

This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet's AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it's clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she'd never speak to again.

Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes."

Giveaway time! To enter all you have to do is fill the Rafflecopter form below. This giveaway is only open to US and CA participants and ends October 25th. Good luck, and may the odds be ever in your favor.

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Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Blog Tour: The Weight of Feathers (With Giveaway!)


Hey everyone! I'm really excited to be part of THE WEIGHT OF FEATHERS tour. Today, I'll be sharing an excerpt and quote from this novel as well as hosting a giveaway. First, for those who haven't heard of THE WEIGHT OF FEATHERS yet...

"For twenty years, the Palomas and the Corbeaus have been rivals and enemies, locked in an escalating feud for over a generation. Both families make their living as traveling performers in competing shows—the Palomas swimming in mermaid exhibitions, the Corbeaus, former tightrope walkers, performing in the tallest trees they can find.

Lace Paloma may be new to her family’s show, but she knows as well as anyone that the Corbeaus are pure magia negra, black magic from the devil himself. Simply touching one could mean death, and she's been taught from birth to keep away. But when disaster strikes the small town where both families are performing, it’s a Corbeau boy, Cluck, who saves Lace’s life. And his touch immerses her in the world of the Corbeaus, where falling for him could turn his own family against him, and one misstep can be just as dangerous on the ground as it is in the trees.

Beautifully written, and richly imaginative, The Weight of Feathers is an utterly captivating young adult novel by a talented new voice."

Published: September 15th 2015 by Thomas Dunne
Add it on Goodreads



Excerpt: THE WEIGHT OF FEATHERS by Anna-Marie McLemore. Copyright © 2015 by the author and reprinted by permission of Thomas Dunne Books / St. Martin’s Griffin.

The feathers were Lace’s first warning. They showed up between suitcases, in the trunk
of her father’s station wagon, on the handles of came-with-the-car first-aid kits so old the gauze
had yellowed. They snagged on antennas, turning the local stations to static.

Lace’s mother found a feather in with the family’s costumes the day they crossed into
Almendro, a town named for almond fields that once filled the air with the scent of sugary
blossoms and bitter wood. But over the last few decades an adhesive plant had bought out the
farms that could not survive the droughts, and the acres of almonds dwindled to a couple of
orchards on the edge of town.

The wisp of that black feather caught on a cluster of sequins. Lace knew from the set to
her mother’s eyes that she’d throw the whole mermaid tail in a bucket and burn it, elastane and
all.

Lace grabbed the tail and held on. If her mother burned it, it would take Lace and her
great-aunt at least a week to remake it. Tía Lora’s hands were growing stiff, and Lace’s were
new and slow.

Her mother tried to pull the tail from her grip, but Lace balled the fabric in her hands.

“Let go,” her mother warned.

“It’s one feather.” Lace dug in her fingers. “It’s not them.” Lace knew the danger of
touching a Corbeau. Her abuela said she’d be better off petting a rattlesnake. But these feathers
were not the Corbeaus’ skin. They didn’t hold the same poison as a Corbeau’s body.

“It’s cursed,” her mother said. One hard tug, and she won. She threw the costume tail into
a bucket and lit it. The metal pail grew hot as a stove. The fumes off the melting sequins stung
Lace’s throat.

“Did you have to burn the whole thing?” she asked.

“Better safe, mija,” her mother said, wetting down the undergrowth with day-old aguas
frescas so the brush wouldn’t catch.

They could have cleaned the tail, blessed it, stripped away the feather’s touch. Burning it
only gave the Corbeaus more power. Those feathers already had such weight. The fire in the pail
was an admission that, against them, Lace’s family had no guard.

Before Lace was born, the Palomas and the Corbeaus had just been competing acts, two
of the only shows left that bothered with the Central Valley’s smallest towns. Back then it was
just business, not hate. Even now Lace’s family sometimes ended up in the same town with a
band of traveling singers or acrobats, and there were no fights, no blood. Only the wordless
agreement that each of them were there to survive, and no grudges after. Every fall when the
show season ended, Lace’s aunts swapped hot-plate recipes with a trio of trapeze artists. Her
father traded homeschooling lesson plans with a troupe of Georgian folk dancers.

The Corbeaus never traded anything with anyone. They shared nothing, took nothing.

They kept to themselves, only straying from the cheapest motel in town to give one of Lace’s
cousins a black eye, or leave a dead fish at the riverbank. Lace and Martha found the last one, its
eye shining like a wet marble.

Before Lace was born, these were bloodless threats, ways the Corbeaus tried to rattle her
family before their shows. Now every Paloma knew there was nothing the Corbeaus wouldn’t
do.

Lace’s mother watched the elastane threads curl inside a shell of flame. “They’re
coming,” she said.

“Did you think they wouldn’t?” Lace asked. Her mother smiled. “I can hope, can’t I?”

She could hope all she wanted. The Corbeaus wouldn’t give up the crowds that came
with Almendro’s annual festival. So many tourists, all so eager to fill their scrapbooks. That
meant two weeks in Almendro. Two weeks when the younger Paloma men hardened their fists,
and their mothers prayed they didn’t come home with broken ribs.

Lace’s grandmother set the schedule each year, and no one spoke up against Abuela. If
they ever did, she’d pack their bags for them. Lace had watched Abuela cram her cousin Licha’s
things into a suitcase, clearing her perfumes and lipsticks off the motel dresser with one sweep of
her arm. When Lace visited her in Visalia and they went swimming, Licha’s two-piece showed
that her escamas, the birthmarks that branded her a Paloma, had disappeared.

Lace’s mother taught her that those birthmarks kept them safe from the Corbeaus’
feathers. That family was el Diablo on earth, with dark wings strapped to their bodies, French on
their tongues, a sprinkling of gypsy blood. When Lace slept, they went with her, living in
nightmares made of a thousand wings.

Another black feather swirled on a downdraft. Lace watched it spin and fall. It settled in
her hair, its slight weight like a moth’s feet.

Her mother snatched it off Lace’s head. “¡Madre mía!” she cried, and threw it into the
flames.

Lace’s cousins said the Corbeaus grew black feathers right out of their heads, like hair.

She never believed it. It was another rumor that strengthened the Corbeaus’ place in their
nightmares. But the truth, that wind pulled feathers off the wings they wore as costumes, wasn’t
a strong enough warning to keep Paloma children from the woods.

“La magia negra,” her mother said. She always called those feathers black magic.

The fire dimmed to embers. Lace’s mother gave the pail a hard kick. It tumbled down the
bank and into the river, the hot metal hissing and sinking.

“Let them drown,” her mother said, and the last of the rim vanished.




ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Anna-Marie McLemore was born in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains and grew up in a Mexican-American family. She attended University of Southern California on a Trustee Scholarship. A Lambda Literary Fellow, she has had work featured by the Huntington-USC Institute on California and the West, CRATE Literary Magazine's cratelit, Camera Obscura's Bridge the Gap Series, and The Portland Review. The Weight of Feathers is her first novel.

Giveaway: Thanks to the fabulous people at Thomas Dunne, I am giving away one copy of THE WEIGHT OF FEATHERS. This giveaway is only open to US and CA participants and ends October 3rd. Good luck, and may the odds be ever in your favor.

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Monday, September 21, 2015

Blog Tour: Dream Things True (With Giveaway)


Title: Dream Things True
Author: Marie Marquardt
Published: September 1st 2015 by St. Martin's Griffin
Goodreads
Source: eARC courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review

"A modern-day Romeo and Juliet story in which a wealthy Southern boy falls in love with an undocumented Mexican girl and together they face perils in their hostile Georgia town.

Evan, a soccer star and the nephew of a conservative Southern Senator, has never wanted for much -- except a functional family. Alma has lived in Georgia since she was two-years-old, excels in school, and has a large, warm Mexican family. Never mind their differences, the two fall in love, and they fall hard. But when ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) begins raids on their town, Alma knows that she needs to tell Evan her secret. There's too much at stake. But how to tell her country-club boyfriend that she’s an undocumented immigrant? That her whole family and most of her friends live in the country without permission. What follows is a beautiful, nuanced, well-paced exploration of the complications of immigration, young love, defying one’s family, and facing a tangled bureaucracy that threatens to completely upend two young lives."

Review: Two things I'm constantly seeking nowadays, in terms of YA novels, are originality and diversity. DREAM THINGS TRUE fits that bill. This is a novel that deals with current issues that will touch many hearts and leave readers wondering how many people must be going through this.

First off, this is a novel about Alma and Evan- two every people with incredibly different backgrounds. While Alma must keep her family and situation a secret, Evan's life is all about fulfilling expectations. Both characters are incredibly flawed yet somehow blend well together into what I can only describe as this sort of awry perfection. Evan lives a life of privileged and as he gets to know Alma, he begins questioning his beliefs and thoughts. His upbringing is nothing like hers. While this is occurring, Alma is dealing with her own struggles, one of which being how to become close to Evan without revealing that she's an undocumented immigrant.

What I loved about the novel is how it explored to very different classes and cultures. The Spanish included in the novel was a nice touch, though I often found myself google translating half of the dialogue (Hablo muy poco espanol- I think that's how you say it.). The writing was also another thing I adored. It felt flawless, so I found myself easily getting into the story and sticking with it. I actually finished this in one day.

Now, the romance itself can be categorized in the insta-love category. It felt all-consuming, which gave me mixed feelings. Typically, I prefer relationships to build, but I also think teenagers are very much all or nothing when it comes to romance. I understood it from that perspective. The downfall is I do think the story line took a backseat to the romance. I would've liked the novel to focus more on Alma's family and situation and slightly less on her relationship with Evan.

Overall, I really enjoyed this novel and recommend it to fans of Simone Elkeles. It's one I won't be forgetting anytime soon. I'm definitely look forward to seeing what the author has in store for us next.

Rating:

3.5 Stars



ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Marie Marquardt is a Scholar-in-Residence at Emory University's Candler School of Theology and the author of Living Illegal: The Human Face of Unauthorized Immigration. She is widely published on issues of Mexican immigrants in the U.S. South. Marquardt has also worked as an advocate among immigrants in Atlanta. She is a founder and co-chair of El Refugio, a hospitality house near the Stewart Detention Center in Georgia. Dream Things True is Marie's first young adult novel.

From Dream Things True (St. Martin's Griffin) by Marie Marquardt

Evan led her onto the dock, where a dozen people she didn’t know were climbing into ski boats. She watched as all of these strangers, presumably students at her new school, casually distributed themselves into boats.

Do teenagers own boats? Alma wondered. Evan led her onto his boat, where two other people were already rummaging around under the seats for life jackets. An athletic-looking girl with long brown hair threw her one.

“I’m Caroline,” she said, “and that’s Logan.” She motioned toward a short, muscular guy with a shaved head. He had his back to Alma, and was untying ropes from the boat. Hearing his name, he turned and grinned.

“¡Bienvenidos!” he said in terrible, Southern-accented Spanish.

“Just ignore him when he acts like an idiot,” Caroline said. “That’s what I do.”

Evan got behind the wheel and started the engine. Just as he was backing out, an amazingly beautiful girl came running down the dock.

“Evan, hon! Wait for me!” she called out.

The girl reached the edge of the dock and, without hesitating, leapt gracefully across the water and toward the boat. She was wearing nothing but a bright-red string bikini. Her sandy-blond hair bounced and shone like a model’s in a shampoo commercial.

Evan pulled her safely onto the boat, and she collapsed into the passenger seat.

“Thanks, sweetheart,” she said to Evan.

“This is Alma,” Evan said, nodding in Alma’s direction. “She’ll be starting at Gilberton next week. And this is Mary Catherine,” he said, grabbing onto the beautiful girl’s shoulder and squeezing hard. “She’s my perpetually late neighbor.”

“But he loves me anyway!” Mary Catherine proclaimed. Then she smiled, revealing perfect teeth to match her perfect body. Were they flirting? Alma felt a tightness in her chest, knowing that she was no competition for this girl.

The engine rumbled, and the boat lurched forward from the dock. Evan grasped Alma’s arm to steady her and then pulled her toward him. “Ready to learn how to drive?”

“You’re mocking me,” she called out above the noise of the engine. “I don’t think you even need a license to drive a boat,” Evan said.

“Plus, no brakes, so we’re safe.”

Keeping one hand on the steering wheel, he wedged her body in front of his and guided her hand to the throttle. “Do you want to go faster?”

“No.” The wind pressed her back against him, and she felt the heat of his chest through the T-shirt.

“Are you scared?” His lip brushed her ear as he spoke.

“Yes,” she said. Her body was off balance, as if the floor of the boat were shifting under her.

“Get over it,” he replied, lifting her hand gently and placing it on the throttle.

Together, their hands guided the throttle forward. She tried looking across the lake, in the direction that he was steering, but all she noticed was his hand on hers. The floor kept shifting. She wondered if this was what it felt like to be drunk. He slipped out from behind her.

“I’m gonna dig out the skis. Just keep going straight, Alma. It’s easy.”

She grasped the wheel hard to avoid falling back. The boat skittered over the water, and the wind fused Evan’s T-shirt to her practically bare skin. Alma tried hard to ignore the dull ache spreading at the pit of her stomach.

After a few minutes, Evan took the wheel. Caroline and Logan both dived into the water and began to swim fast as Evan tossed a ski rope in their direction.

“This should be entertaining,” he said as they wrestled with their slalom skis.

“Entertaining?” Alma asked. “Yeah, they’ll both show off.” “Are they, uh, a couple?”

“Most of the time. They fight all the time and break up every couple of months.”

Evan shoved the throttle forward and the boat lurched.

“Logan gets bored easily,” he said. “He’s always looking for a rush.” Logan and Caroline both popped out of the water, crisscrossing each other as they leapt and dived over the wake. “So they just break up for fun?”

“Yeah, I think it runs in his blood. Everybody says his dad was the same, back in the day. He stole boats and stuff, just for the hell of it.” He shrugged and continued, “Which is weird, since he’s the sheriff now.” The sheriff. Evan said it like it was nothing, like he was describing the color of Logan’s dad’s car, or his height—not like he knew this man had the power to throw people in jail and keep them there.

Evan gestured toward Logan and Caroline and winced. “That’s gotta hurt.”

Caroline was spinning in rapid circles as Logan did strange contortions with his arm.

Maybe, Alma thought, they were all so used to being around powerful people that they didn’t even notice it anymore. Maybe they never had.

“Come back here, Alma!” Mary Catherine called from the back of the boat. “I can’t hear what y’all are saying and I’m lonely.”

Alma glanced at Evan and shrugged. She made her way back and settled into a bucket seat next to Mary Catherine.

Alma wasn’t sure how to make conversation with Mary Catherine. She seemed so unapproachable—this girl who wore a bikini confidently, like she was hanging in comfy sweats. But within moments, it became clear that Mary
Catherine—or M.C., as Evan called her—was not your typical Southern belle.

“So, when did you and Evan start hooking up?” she asked. For starters, she was excruciatingly blunt.

“Uh, we’re just sort of friends,” Alma replied, shrugging.

“Alma, honey,” she said, “I’ve known that boy forever, and the way he looks at you, he doesn’t wanna be your friend.”

M.C. let out a deep, bellowing howl that sounded like it should come from a balding white guy with a beer gut. Alma was so surprised by M.C.’s laugh that she forgot to be embarrassed.

“OK.” Alma shrugged. “Maybe we’re not exactly friends. But we’re not hooking up.”

“Makes sense,” Mary Catherine responded, sort of talking to herself. “Evan doesn’t really hook up. Plus, I would have known.”

Confused and desperate to change the subject, Alma asked, “So how did you two meet?”

“Meet?” M.C. asked. “We’ve been neighbors for as long as either of us can remember. I mean, we used to play doctor together! I was the doctor. I always made Evan be the nurse.”
Mary Catherine bellowed again.

“So when you and Evan do hook up,” she said, “you can thank me for his gentle, nurturing touch.”

Now Alma was blushing.

“You mean, you and Evan were, uh . . .”

“Together? Lord, no. He’s like a baby brother to me, Alma. I think I went through puberty something like four years before he did.”

Alma and Mary Catherine turned to look at Evan, his perfectly toned arms casually gripping the steering wheel, his broad shoulders gleaming in the sun.

“My baby’s all grown up,” Mary Catherine continued. “Now, he’s what my grandmomma calls a ‘tall drink of water.’ ”

They both laughed, catching Evan’s attention.

“What are you ladies talking about back there?” he asked.

“Nothing that concerns you, Ev, sweetheart,” Mary Catherine re- plied. “You just drive the boat.”

“Not unless Alma gets back up here to finish her driving lesson,” Evan said, reaching his arm out toward her.

Mary Catherine laughed and nudged her out of the seat.

“You heard him,” she called out. “You better get on up there, darlin’, because I’m sure as hell not driving.”

Alma closed her eyes and stood up slowly, her head spinning and her legs quivering.

He took her hand and pulled her body back toward the wheel, and she realized, finally, the meaning of the word “swoon.”



Giveaway: Thanks to the amazing team at St. Martin's Griffin, I am giving away one copy of DREAM THINGS TRUE. This giveaway is only open to US participants and ends September 30th. Good luck, and may the odds be ever in your favor.

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