ARC Review: Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley

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Release Date: June 6, 2017

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Years ago, Rachel had a crush on Henry Jones. The day before she moved away, she tucked a love letter into his favorite book in his family’s bookshop. She waited. But Henry never came.

Now Rachel has returned to the city—and to the bookshop—to work alongside the boy she’d rather not see, if at all possible, for the rest of her life. But Rachel needs the distraction. Her brother drowned months ago, and she can’t feel anything anymore.

As Henry and Rachel work side by side—surrounded by books, watching love stories unfold, exchanging letters between the pages—they find hope in each other. Because life may be uncontrollable, even unbearable sometimes. But it’s possible that words, and love, and second chances are enough.

review4.5/5 Stars 

***I received this eARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley & Knopf Books for Young Readers

This book is beautiful.  

It’s haunting and aching, gut-wrenching and bittersweet. Full of hope, loss, and memories. 

This book will make you laugh. It will also make you cry. But more importantly, it will make you feel. 

I finished this book over an hour ago and I’m still reeling. It’s the kind of book that sticks and leaves an impression. That makes you feel inspired. Those are the best kind. I’ve never felt so compelled to write in the margins. To explore a used bookshop. To confess everything I’ve ever felt about everything to a stranger. 

This book is about what’s lost and what you find when you lose someone and about how you find yourself again when you feel like you’ve been ripped in half. The emotions are poignant, honest, and raw. If you’ve ever lost someone, you will understand this on a soul level. 

This book is beautiful not only for content, but for the words. 

It’s a love letter to books. To words. To how words make you feel and the journey taken on the wings of a story. It’s poetry. The descriptions, the casual and offhand way that things are written about in an entirely new way. You might find yourself seeing the world differently.

Slowly falling in love. Rachel and Henry. The passion. The friendship. The angst. It’s a sweet and funny realization that happens in a blink for one, and has been building for the other. 

There are so many things in this book that are important and cathartic. That will bring comfort to those who are numb or bleeding or lost in memory. 

But mostly, the love just pours off these pages. Those of you who follow my reviews know that I am not a fan of contemporary, but this book makes my heart happy.

My only, only critique is the pacing.  Occasionally the plot is a little slow for my taste and Henry’s obsession with Amy makes you want to shake him. I mean come on, that vapid twit. But he’s mooning, he’s in lust, and it’s incredibly believable. 

I didn’t know how much I needed this book and I can only imagine how much others will appreciate this. So thank you, Cath Crowley. Your letter moved me. Your book is fantastic. 

If you like any of the following, you’ll enjoy this:

Read this, 

Jordan

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Guest Post: On Writing Strong Female Characters and Other Musings by Jennifer Siddoway

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As Rory Gilmore once said, “I live in two worlds, one is a world of books.” I have never felt more connected to a character than in that moment, because I too, have lived a hundred different lives through the beautifully crafted pages of a novel. An author’s ability to paint a world with words is something that amazes me to this day, and will continue to do so for years to come.

I never thought that I would become an author, not even in my wildest dreams. Sometimes it still feels like I’m an imposter who has infiltrated this community and has not yet been discovered for the fraud she is. Yet, here I am about to release book two in the Earthwalker Trillogy and it finally feels like I’m treading water.

The heroine in this series, Wynn Hendricks, is a headstrong, fiery redhead who desperately wants to finish high school when a Demon Lord shows up in her bedroom and declares her soul his property. To regain her freedom, she must conquer the seven deadly sins. In doing so, she finds herself caught between the realms of Heaven, Hell, and Earth, with the angel Caleb as her only ally.

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I’m a big fan of strong female characters, and in Wynn’s story I really wanted to show her rising above this terrible situation and coming out on top. She doesn’t need a knight in shining armor to protect her, but would rather have someone love and support her while she rescues herself. Her journey covers a three-book arc that I’m hoping will show growth and depth of character over time. Each of the Demon Lords are unique and come at her in different ways, which I found fascinating to write about. I didn’t want the straightforward, hand over fist, showdown that you’d expect. They’re clever and come at her sideways, hoping that Wynn will become overconfident or make some fatal mistake. One of the things I like about them is that they do not make idle threats. Aidan and the other Demon Lords follow through on what they promise and that is terrifying, especially when they don’t play by the rules – nothing is off the table.

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After tragedy strikes the Hendricks family, Wynn leaves for college, hoping the Demon Lords follow her. She is reunited with Caleb after his fall from grace. Now, they no longer have to hide their feelings for one another. Together, they prepare for Wynn’s three remaining trials and encounter another demon who has infiltrated the Mortal Realm. Charlene is strong and beautiful, with complete control of her demonic powers – everything Wynn hopes to achieve one day.

The Demon Lords aren’t holding back, but they’re not the only ones who are conspiring against her. Maya is on the warpath and blames Wynn for Caleb’s decision to leave. Wynn learns that to defeat Aidan once and for all will come at a terrible price, taking her away from the ones she loves most.

With the help of some unlikely allies, can Wynn defeat the Demon Lords and finally make Aidan pay?

ExcerptHis lips broke from mine and left a trail of kisses down my neck, sending a jolt of hot confusion coursing through my body. Electric tingles ran up and down along my spine in a delicious need to hold him and have his body pressed against me. I tilted my head to give him better access and let out an involuntary sigh. “Caleb …” l breathed out dreamily.

“I love you.”

He cradled my face in his hands and pulled away briefly so that he could whisper, “You have no idea how long I’ve been waiting to hear you say that.”

I breathed out a ragged laugh before kissing him again and losing myself completely in his touch. My body ignited beneath his hands and I all I could think about was this magnificent creature had pledged himself to me. His lips were on me once again, and I wrapped myself around him like a snake in another one of his passionate kisses. A moment later, I felt myself being lifted off the ground as he carried me back into the apartment.

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authorJennifer SiddowayWebsite/Facebook/Instagram/Twitter

Jennifer is an author from Tallahassee, Florida who writes paranormal romance and fantasy novels for young adults. She is a member of both Gulf Coast Authors and the Florida Writers Association.

After receiving a degree in theatre and working as a scenic artist for twelve years, she changed careers to do what she really loves—writing. Jennifer believes that part of her job as an artist and story teller is to create a narrative that explores a fresh perspective and leaves the audience thinking.

Even as a child, she has always been intrigued by Grimm’s Fairy Tales and particularly enjoys a twist on an established plot. When she’s not busy writing or burying her nose in a book, Jennifer enjoys doing medieval reenactment with her husband and two children.

 

 

ARC Review & Giveaway: One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus

ONE OF US IS LYING (1)One Of Us Is LyingAmazon/B&N/TBD/iBooks/Audible/Goodreads

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The Breakfast Club meets Pretty Little Liars, & One of Us Is Lying is the story of what happens when five strangers walk into detention and only four walk out alive. Everyone is a suspect, and everyone has something to hide.

Pay close attention and you might solve this.

On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention.

Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule.

Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess.

Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing.

Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher.

And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High s notorious gossip app.

Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention Simon’s dead. And according to investigators, his death wasn’t an accident. On Monday, he died. But on Tuesday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they the perfect patsies for a killer who’s still on the loose?

Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them.

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***I received this eARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley & Delacorte Press

If you’re a sucker for true crime TV shows, this book will be your version of YA heaven.

Told from four alternating POVs (the murder suspects), One of Us Is Lying features fully fleshed out, complex, and interesting characters whose plots all stand on their own. So often when there are a number of characters, their stories tend to get a little lost, but this is certainly not the case here. Everything is suspect and because of that, every lie, every aspect of these four unlucky teens’ lives are sifted through and exploited. All of the characters are flawed and real. They’ve made mistakes and the worst (best?) part is that they might be paying for it. Seemingly small incidents become incendiary and inciting. The catty, pettiness of high school is on full display and motives are everywhere.

The premise is awesome. It’s simple, yet completely enthralling. You won’t stop until you know the truth.

There are tons of clues. And it’s the readers challenge to sort through and figure out what’s important. If you are even remotely into sleuthing, you’ll enjoy this story exponentially.

Twists, red herrings, romance, revenge. There’s a little bit of everything.

Because the characters are so real, it’s compelling to want to know about them. Everything from their heartaches, their fibs, their crimes, to what they’re hiding even from themselves. This unlikely foursome becomes something unexpected-friends-in the face of tragedy.

The mystery is a good one. Even if you make the right guess about what happened, odds are you’re missing some finer details that are totally unexpected and hit fast.

Occasionally, because the characters are so dimensional, the pacing is a little stunted and the story a tad sidetracked, but it always comes back around relatively quickly.

There were a handful of clichés that might bug the reader, like the catty cheerleader, the blatant sexism (at points this is called out though, which, thumbs up), but the other characters certainly redeemed themselves and the story.

authorKMcManus ColorWebsite | Twitter | Goodreads | Instagram

As a kid I used to write books when I was supposed to be playing outside, and not much has changed. I’m a marketing and communications professional who also writes Young Adult contemporary and fantasy fiction in Cambridge, MA.

When not writing or working I love to travel, and along with my nine-year old son I’ve ridden horses in Colombia and bicycles through Paris. A member of SCBWI, I hold a bachelor’s degree in English from the College of the Holy Cross and a master’s degree in Journalism from Northeastern University. Which I have never, ever used professionally.

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3 winners will receive a finished copy of ONE OF US IS LYING, US Only.

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OTHER  STOPS ON THE TOUR

5/29/2017- YA Books Central- Interview

5/30/2017- YA Book Madness- Review

5/31/2017- Novel Novice- Guest Post

6/1/2017- Literary Meanderings- Review

6/2/2017- BookHounds YA– Interview

Week Two:

6/5/2017- Storybook Slayers- Review

6/6/2017- Book Princess Reviews- Review

6/7/2017- The Cover Contessa- Interview

6/8/2017- Book Briefs- Review

6/9/2017- Pretty Deadly Reviews- Guest Post

Week Three:

6/12/2017- Eli to the nth- Review

6/13/2017- YA and Wine- Interview

6/14/2017- Smada’s Book Smack- Review

6/15/2017- The O.W.L.- Guest Post

6/16/2017- Zach’s YA Reviews- Review

Read on, 

Jordan

Guest Post: Querying for Dummies by V.E. Hust

They say (although who they are exactly is a mystery) that everyone has a novel in them. Recently I’ve been informed by a fairly trusted source that some of those books should not in fact come out. However, for the brave few who do put fingers to keyboard and finish a novel there will come a time that you must query.

Now, there are a few hard and fast rules of the query:

  • It should be three paragraphs in length and not over 300 words.
  • It should be written in the third person.
  • It should cover the first half of your story arc and end with your mid-plot inciting incident and STAKES.
  • It should be professional, proof read, and contain more information about the plot than your credentials.
  • Please, dear god, spell the agent’s name right.

magikarp-169-envia Pokemon.com

Querying is kind of like being the best magikarp jumper in Magikarp Jump. You have to write(catch) a query(magikarp) and send it on its rounds to your beta readers (train it) all the while stressing over it’s perfect name something punchy and eye-catching (like dinosaur erotica).

Magikarp-Jump-is-the-addictive-new-Pokemon-mobile-game-thats-sweeping-the-globevia Daily Mirror

Once you’ve edited (leveled up) your query (magikarp) by taking criticism and applying it (feeding it berries) you have to send it out to your first round of agents (aka to battle.)

magikarp-jump-4via Time Magazine

Now, on the way your query (magikarp) might get destroyed by a critique (pidgeotto) this just means it wasn’t ready for agents to see (to battle) and you need to start fresh with a new query (magikarp) and maybe a new name (like plz no die).

trainingvia Google Play

Once you have a successful query you should make a list of agents who represent your genre and with whom you would like to be signed. Querytracker.com and Absolutewrite.com are super useful when building your list. Then you send your query, make sure to personalize it to the specific agent’s specifications. READ the entire submission page twice before sending so as not to miss anything important.

It’s generally considered prudent to send your queries out in batches of no more than ten but no less than five. If you have a particularly well received query you could perhaps stretch that to fifteen. A well-received query is one that garners a request rate of more than twenty percent. A good query will garner fifteen, a serviceable one will bring in ten and anything under ten should be sent back to training.

I’m going to go in depth here for a moment about query structure. Technically there are no hard and fast rules about where most information should be, but in general your query should look something like this:

1st paragraph – Includes pertinent background and setting information, includes the main character’s name and their first problem – in YA it includes the character’s age.

2nd paragraph – Includes love interest and inciting incident, keep this fast paced and don’t bog it down with adjectives.

3rd paragraph – make us feel for the main character what is going to happen to her if she isn’t accepted to college/ doesn’t escape from her magical prison/can’t be with her true love. Make it personal and relatable.

After that there should be a small paragraph about the manuscript stats; word count (not page count), genre, comp titles, and sub-genre. Followed by a sentence or two about who you are and any credits you might have.

Close it out with a thank you for your time and attention, your name, e-mail address and any social media that’s applicable.

That’s it, don’t try to wow them with presents, don’t rave out how your book is the next Harry Potter, DON’T threaten/harass/be mean to the agent. I know most people would never but apparently there are enough crazies out there that this is becoming a trend.

So now there’s another how to query article out there, filled with tried and true approaches and some awesome Pokémon references. Hopefully it was helpful and at least a little amusing. Go, query, you are amazing!

magikarp-jump3via Forbes

Happy query writing and if you have questions, feel free to ask!

Guest Post: On Writing & Doing What You Love by Megan Cutler

iolf-current-1000Goodreads/Amazon

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When a mysterious island appears off the coast of San Francisco, two intrepid academics risk everything to discover its secrets. Literature professor Catilen Taylor has struggled all her life with the ability to sense others’ emotions. The only person comfortable with her eccentricities is Damian Cooke, who studies an ancient art he calls ‘magic.’

Beyond the military barricade they discover a paradise unspoiled by modern advances, ruled by the enigmatic Sentomoru, who invites them to share the wonders of his bathhouse. But as the travelers strive to unravel the island’s secrets, Catilen senses danger stalking their every step.

Neither Catilen nor Damian can guess how long the island will remain on Earth. If they can’t solve its riddles, and untangle themselves from a growing web of strife quickly, they may be trapped wherever the island goes when it vanishes. Is the island the paradise it promises? Or does a nightmare lurk beneath the surface?

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People always want to know when you discovered you were a writer. Maybe some people have a giant ah-ha moment where it all clicks for them, but for me it was a slow process of discovery. In a way, writing was always a part of my life. People used to talk constantly about how much I wrote for assignments in elementary school. Like it was an expectation that any story I wrote would be twice as long as the rest – and, of course, I was eager to deliver.

Sometime in middle school, I was invited to partake in a special class centered around writing. It got me out of other classes I liked less, which was the main reason I liked it at the time. That and the teacher was incredibly laid back. He encouraged us to do whatever made us comfortable during writing time, which meant lying on the floor, sitting under tables, and sometimes being able to sit in the hall if we were quiet. All the things usually forbidden to school kids that age. Sometimes he would sit at the front of the room, play his guitar and sing us his songs while we wrote. Some of my fondest school memories came from that class.

I learned many of the basic principles of writing in that class. Always write in pen, our teacher told us, so that the words are permanent, concrete. Never cross them out so darkly you can’t see what you originally wrote (a single line through will do). Never delete, always save. Always date your work. Our teacher encouraged us to let words flow without judgment, to write whatever we felt like that day, whatever came into our minds or felt right. We didn’t talk much about editing in that class – those were lessons I learned later – but I did learn to let go, to write words without worrying about who would be looking over my shoulder in the days to come (a lesson I would have to re-learn in my adult years).

We shared our stories with the class. Mine was about a girl named V (or perhaps her name only started with a V and I can no longer remember it). She built a time machine. I can’t remember why she wanted to travel through time, but I do remember her parents were totally cool with it. As each person read their story aloud, we wrote comments on little slips of paper to share what we thought. I kept all the ones people wrote for me. I still have them tucked away in a folder.

By high school I was hiding writing notebooks underneath the notebooks I took my class notes in (not that it stopped me from getting into trouble). I had characters I turned to when I was angry and characters who comforted me when I was sad. Snow days were a great boon; a chance to write all day without interruption. I had grand plans by then, dreams of being a bestselling author by the time I was twenty-five.

Of course, life never works out the way you plan. I was closer to thirty when I published my first novel in 2015. But no matter what else I did with my life (college, working in IT), writing was always lurking in the background. Always the ultimate goal.

My first book, Island of Lost Forevers, is a tale about two college professors exploring a mysterious island that appears off the coast of San Francisco. They want to know where it came from and where it will go when it leaves. But though the island appears to be paradise, a nightmare may be lurking just beneath the surface. It has nothing to do with my high school scribbles but, without them, I never would have made it this far.

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You can find my work at megancutler.net. I post random musings every Monday and free short fiction every Friday. You can also hang out with me on Twitter and on Facebook. Island of Lost Forevers, and its two sequels, are available on Amazon and Kindle Unlimited; plus Island of Lost Forevers is getting a paperback in July!

Exciting reading, 

Jordan

 

 

Open Forum/Guest Post Free For All

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Are you a writer? Reader? Author? Blogger? Maybe you’re in the process of or want to become an author?

For the month of June, I am hosting an open forum/ free for all. If you have something YA that you want to talk about, anything having to do with writing, the publishing world, this industry, something you’d love to see in YA, something you’d like to see less of, you name it, I am giving you the opportunity to voice your thoughts. HERE. On the blog. For free. 

I’m giving you an open mic in blog form. 

You want to be heard, you have something to say, feel free to schedule a date. Just keep it PG-13 because some young kids read this blog. 

I want to hear from you. I would love for you to share your thoughts and put your opinions out there. 

If you’re interested in a spot, feel free to shoot an email to yabookmadness@gmail.com and we’ll schedule you a date!!!

Tell everyone. Let’s make this happen.

As always, keep reading,

Jordan

Cover Reveal & Giveaway: Kingdom of Darkness by Tricia Copeland

Release Date: June 21, 2017
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“… the previous night’s vision, or whatever it was, ended with a name I heard clear as day, as if the people were in my room. Ivy, the girl and boy recited together.”

– Camille

Could her dreams be real? Is she the key to freeing witches from their curse? Of course not, right? Thinking that her only chance at a normal life lay in a new treatment, Camille joins Dr. Antos and a group of teens for a month long camping trip in Iceland. There she meets Jude, a fellow schizophrenic. Dr. Antos invites Camille and Jude to extend their work with him on the island of Sardinia. Camille is suspicious of Dr. Antos’s intentions but her dad goes missing, leaving her no choice but to travel to Italy. Is she walking into a lion’s den or has her illness invaded her reality?

 OTHER BOOKS IN THE SERIES

  
 author
Tricia Copeland grew up in Georgia and now lives in Colorado with her family. Her books include the clean new adult Being Me Series, Is This Me?, If I Could Fly, Thinking You Know Me, and the final installment, Being Me, as well as a young adult novellas, Drops of Sunshine and the Lovelock Chronicles, Lovelock Ones: Native One, published in The Butterfly Box. If she’s not out running, you can find Tricia at www.triciacopeland.com or your favorite social media.
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Enter for your chance to win a Kingdom of Embers ebook. 3 winners.

 

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Read on,
Jordan