Ask Melissa de la Cruz & Margaret Stohl A Question

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Jo & Laurie Book Cover

1869, Concord, Massachusetts: After the publication of her first novel, Jo March is shocked to discover her book of scribbles has become a bestseller, and her publisher and fans demand a sequel. While pressured into coming up with a story, she goes to New York with her dear friend Laurie for a week of inspiration–museums, operas, and even a once-in-a-lifetime reading by Charles Dickens himself!

But Laurie has romance on his mind, and despite her growing feelings, Jo’s desire to remain independent leads her to turn down his heartfelt marriage proposal and sends the poor boy off to college heartbroken. When Laurie returns to Concord with a sophisticated new girlfriend, will Jo finally communicate her true heart’s desire or lose the love of her life forever?

Margaret Stohl

Margaret Stohl is a #1 New York Times bestselling nerd, world-builder, video game creator, comic book writer and festival founder.

As an award-winning young adult author, she has been published in fifty countries and thirty-two languages and has sold more than ten million books worldwide. Beautiful Creatures debuted as the Amazon #1 Teen book of the year; seven of Margaret’s books have reached bestseller lists around the world.

She has published fifteen novels and graphic novels, as well as contributed to several games and countless comics since her debut. Her last book, Cats Vs Robots: This is War, was a family affair, illustrated by her child, the artist Kay Peterson, and co-written with her husband, Lewis Peterson. It also starred three of her family’s five cats.

Melissa de la Cruz

Melissa de la Cruz is the #1 New York Times, #1 Publisher’s Weekly and #1 IndieBound bestselling author of many critically acclaimed and award-winning novels for readers of all ages. Her more than thirty books have also topped the USA TodayWall Street Journal and Los Angeles Times bestseller lists and have been published in over twenty countries.

In addition to her literary work, Melissa is the co-founder of YALLWEST, and the co-director of YALLFEST, two of the largest teen book festivals in the country. She is also on the Advisory Board of Facing History, which reaches five million school children nationwide with a curriculum devoted to teaching empathy and social justice.

She grew up in Manila and moved to San Francisco with her family, where she graduated high school salutatorian from The Convent of the Sacred Heart. At Columbia University, she majored in art history and English.

Melissa de la Cruz lives in West Hollywood, California with her husband and daughter.

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8 Awesome June Upcoming YA Titles

This was hard to put together because so many of the awesome titles I wanted to include got pushed back! Some you’ll see in July, some in August, and some have left me with a TBD. Hopefully it’s not long now before you can go browse the shelves in person, but until then have a few suggestions from us to order online.

Forest of Souls by Lori M. Lee

Danger lurks within the roots of Forest of Souls, an epic, unrelenting tale of destiny and sisterhood, perfect for fans of Naomi Novik and Susan Dennard.

Sirscha Ashwyn comes from nothing, but she’s intent on becoming something. After years of training to become the queen’s next royal spy, her plans are derailed when shamans attack and kill her best friend Saengo.

And then Sirscha, somehow, restores Saengo to life.

Unveiled as the first soulguide in living memory, Sirscha is summoned to the domain of the Spider King. For centuries, he has used his influence over the Dead Wood—an ancient forest possessed by souls—to enforce peace between the kingdoms. Now, with the trees growing wild and untamed, only a soulguide can restrain them. As war looms, Sirscha must master her newly awakened abilities before the trees shatter the brittle peace, or worse, claim Saengo, the friend she would die for.

Pub Date: June 23, 2020

Seasons of the Storm by Elle Cosimano

One cold, crisp night, Jack Sommers was faced with a choice—live forever according to the ancient, magical rules of Gaia, or die.

Jack chose to live, and in exchange, he became a Winter—an immortal physical embodiment of the season on Earth. Every year, he must hunt the Season who comes before him. Summer kills Spring. Autumn kills Summer. Winter kills Autumn. And Spring kills Winter.

Jack and Fleur, a Winter and a Spring, fall for each other against all odds. To be together, they’ll have to escape the cycle that’s been forcing them apart. But their creator won’t let them go without a fight.

Pub Date: June 23, 2020

My Calamity Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, & Jodi Meadows

Welcome ​to 1876 and a rootin’-tootin’ America bursting with gunslingers, outlaws, and garou.

JANE (a genuine hero-eene)

Calamity’s her name, and garou hunting’s her game—when she’s not starring in Wild Bill’s Traveling Show, that is. She reckons that if a girl wants to be a legend, she should just go ahead and be one.

FRANK (*wolf whistle*)
Frank “the Pistol Prince” Butler is the Wild West’s #1 bachelor. He’s also the best sharpshooter on
both sides of the Mississippi, but he’s about to meet his match. . . .

ANNIE (get your gun!)
Annie Oakley (yep, that Annie) is lookin’ for a job, not a romance, but she can’t deny there’s something about Frank she likes. Really likes. Still, she’s pretty sure that anything he can do,
she can do better.

A HAIRY SITUATION
After a garou hunt goes south and Jane finds a suspicious-like bite on her arm, she turns tail for Deadwood, where there’s been talk of a garou cure. But things ain’t always what they seem—meaning the gang better hightail it after her before they’re a day late and a Jane short.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

Goddess in the Machine by Lora Beth Johnson

When Andra wakes up, she’s drowning.

Not only that, but she’s in a hot, dirty cave, it’s the year 3102, and everyone keeps calling her Goddess. When Andra went into a cryonic sleep for a trip across the galaxy, she expected to wake up in a hundred years, not a thousand. Worst of all, the rest of the colonists–including her family and friends–are dead. They died centuries ago, and for some reason, their descendants think Andra’s a deity. She knows she’s nothing special, but she’ll play along if it means she can figure out why she was left in stasis and how to get back to Earth.

Zhade, the exiled bastard prince of Eerensed, has other plans. Four years ago, the sleeping Goddess’s glass coffin disappeared from the palace, and Zhade devoted himself to finding it. Now he’s hoping the Goddess will be the key to taking his rightful place on the throne–if he can get her to play her part, that is. Because if his people realize she doesn’t actually have the power to save their dying planet, they’ll kill her.

With a vicious monarch on the throne and a city tearing apart at the seams, Zhade and Andra might never be able to unlock the mystery of her fate, let alone find a way to unseat the king, especially since Zhade hasn’t exactly been forthcoming with Andra. And a thousand years from home, is there any way of knowing that Earth is better than the planet she’s woken to?

Pub Date: June 30, 2020

Sisters of Sword & Song by Rebecca Ross

From the author of The Queen’s Rising comes a thrilling YA stand-alone fantasy about the unbreakable bond between sisters. Perfect for fans of Ember in the Ashes, Sky in the Deep, and Court of Fives.

After eight long years, Evadne will finally be reunited with her older sister, Halcyon, who has been proudly serving in the queen’s army. But when Halcyon appears earlier than expected, Eva knows something has gone terribly wrong. Halcyon is on the run, hunted by her commander and charged with murder.

Though Halcyon’s life is spared during her trial, the punishment is heavy. And when Eva volunteers to serve part of Halcyon’s sentence, she’s determined to find out exactly what happened. But as Eva begins her sentence, she quickly learns that there are fates much worse than death.

Pub Date: June 23, 2020

A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown

The first in an fantasy duology inspired by West African folklore in which a grieving crown princess and a desperate refugee find themselves on a collision course to murder each other despite their growing attraction.

For Malik, the Solstasia festival is a chance to escape his war-stricken home and start a new life with his sisters in the prosperous desert city of Ziran. But when a vengeful spirit abducts Malik’s younger sister, Nadia, as payment into the city, Malik strikes a fatal deal—kill Karina, Crown Princess of Ziran, for Nadia’s freedom.

But Karina has deadly aspirations of her own. Her mother, the Sultana, has been assassinated; her court threatens mutiny; and Solstasia looms like a knife over her neck. Grief-stricken, Karina decides to resurrect her mother through ancient magic . . . requiring the beating heart of a king. And she knows just how to obtain one: by offering her hand in marriage to the victor of the Solstasia competition.

When Malik rigs his way into the contest, they are set on a course to destroy each other. But as attraction flares between them and ancient evils stir, will they be able to see their tasks to the death?

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

Agnes at the End of the World by Kelly McWilliams

The Handmaid’s Tale meets Wilder Girls in this unique, voice-driven novel from Kelly McWilliams.

Agnes loves her home of Red Creek–its quiet, sunny mornings, its dusty roads, and its God. There, she cares tirelessly for her younger siblings and follows the town’s strict laws. What she doesn’t know is that Red Creek is a cult, controlled by a madman who calls himself a prophet.

Then Agnes meets Danny, an Outsider boy, and begins to question what is and isn’t a sin. Her younger brother, Ezekiel, will die without the insulin she barters for once a month, even though medicine is considered outlawed. Is she a sinner for saving him? Is her sister, Beth, a sinner for dreaming of the world beyond Red Creek?

As the Prophet grows more dangerous, Agnes realizes she must escape with Ezekiel and leave everyone else, including Beth, behind. But it isn’t safe Outside, either: A viral pandemic is burning through the population at a terrifying rate. As Agnes ventures forth, a mysterious connection grows between her and the Virus. But in a world where faith, miracles, and cruelty have long been indistinguishable, will Agnes be able to choose between saving her family and saving the world?

Pub Date: June 9, 2020

The Falling in Love Montage by Ciara Smyth

Saoirse doesn’t believe in love at first sight or happy endings. If they were real, her mother would still be able to remember her name and not in a care home with early onset dementia. A condition that Saoirse may one day turn out to have inherited. So she’s not looking for a relationship. She doesn’t see the point in igniting any romantic sparks if she’s bound to burn out.

But after a chance encounter at an end-of-term house party, Saoirse is about to break her own rules. For a girl with one blue freckle, an irresistible sense of mischief, and a passion for rom-coms.

Unbothered by Saoirse’s no-relationships rulebook, Ruby proposes a loophole: They don’t need true love to have one summer of fun, complete with every cliché, rom-com montage-worthy date they can dream up—and a binding agreement to end their romance come fall. It would be the perfect plan, if they weren’t forgetting one thing about the Falling in Love Montage: when it’s over, the characters actually fall in love… for real.

Pub Date: June 9, 2020

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Seven Endless Forests

In this gorgeous standalone companion to the critically acclaimed fantasy, The Boneless Mercies, April Tucholke spins a bold and blood-hungry retelling of the King Arthur legend that is perfect for fans of Naomi Novik, Garth Nix, and Laini Taylor.

On the heels of a devastating plague, Torvi’s sister, Morgunn, is stolen from the family farm by Uther, a flame-loving Fremish wolf-priest who leads a pack of ragged, starving girls. Torvi leaves the only home she’s ever known, and joins a shaven-skulled druid and a band of roaming Elsh artists known as the Butcher Bards. They set out on a quest to rescue Torvi’s sister, and find a mythical sword.

On their travels, Torvi and her companions will encounter magical night wilds and mystical Drakes who trade in young men. They will sing rowdy Elshland ballads in a tree-town tavern, and find a mysterious black tower in an Endless Forest. They will fight alongside famous Vorseland archers and barter with Fremish wizards. They will feast with rogue Jade Fell children in a Skal Mountain cave, and seek the help of a Pig Witch. They will face wild, dangerous magic that leads to love, joy, tragedy, and death.

Torvi set out to rescue a sister, but she may find it’s merely the first step toward a life that is grander and more glorious than anything she could have imagined.

Seven Endless Forests, April Genevieve Tucholke
April 28, 2020

I love Arthurian retellings. I really enjoyed Amy Rose Capetta and Cory McCarthy’s Once & Future. But Tucholke’s Seven Endless Forests just didn’t do it for me.

Tucholke’s prose is something else. It’s brutal and wonderful to read. Her world building really is a masterpiece. I understood the world so well even in just the five chapters I did manage to finish reading. These factors alone could have carried the book well to someone who clicked with the book.

Unfortunately, I was not that someone.

I couldn’t connect to the characters and I felt like I was lost in whatever minor plot did show up in the early pages. It drawled one for a long time. Five chapters where the main character buries her family (not really a spoiler since it’s the opening scene) and then meets a wandering druid and a local town burns down took too dang long to establish. Maybe I’m used to a more fast paced writing style, but Seven Endless Forests meandered more than it moved forward, giving us flashbacks and long expositions of setting or character.

I wanted to love this one, but it just wasn’t for me.

My Rating:

Rating: 3 out of 5.

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Attack of the Stuff

In what is described as “an 8 year old’s fever dream,” New York Times bestselling author introduces us to Bill Waddler. Bill is a duck who dreams of being smothered by farting snakes. He also has a special gift. He is able to hear appliances complain. Imagine what toilets would complain about. Bill doesn’t need to imagine. While working as a cash-only hay seller (that doesn’t accept credit cards), Bill doesn’t know that he, and a very confused orange juice sales clerk, are about to save the world. If you could hear this book complain, it would be saying “where have you been all my life?”

Attack of the Stuff, Jim Benton
May 26, 2020

Yes, I would have to say that back copy perfectly describes this book. It is seriously one of the funniest graphic novels I’ve ever read. It’s one of the funniest books I’ve ever read. Sure, it may claim to be Middle Grade, but the humor and wit in this book is MacArthur Fellowship levels of genius.

This is a warning. This book will make you have to go to the bathroom at some point while reading it. If you buy this for a younger person that still has a “bed time” don’t get mad at them when you hear them cackling at three a.m. because they won’t put this book down. Also, don’t get mad at them when their sense of humor and comedic timing is better than yours.

This book has to be one of the most clever books I have ever read. Bill is the type of hero you root for, Kris is the type of friend you wish you had, and the fact that all stuff talks to Bill is literally the funniest things I have read all year. Every single speech bubble is funnier than the last one when it comes to the stuff. Now, I know what you’re thinking. The back copy describes this as “an 8 year old’s fever dream” so that must mean all the jokes are about poop, farts, and butts, right? WRONG! The jokes and complaints of the stuff are like miniature deep-dives into the potential psychological traumas and esires of every day household appliances. Not only that, but also, all the characters are anthropomorphic except for snakes for some reason. There are literally countless golden nuggets of humor and whit in this story.

I guess that’s why the fever dream description is so perfect. This story is a couple chapters of apparent absurdity that ultimately all makes perfect sense. The type of humor that relies on absurdity often falls flat narratively or in attempting to have a meaning. This story does not. Bill Waddler is such a good protagonist because he is all of us. He might be having a nervous breakdown at the start of the book, but by the end, he’s us. Attack of the Stuff is hopefully one of many Bill Waddler adventures. Right now, being surrounded by all your things, this book may be the perfect book to brighten your outlook on our current situation. If you need a laugh and you need to escape the absurdity of our world, take a dive into Bill Waddler’s world for a while. You won’t regret it, you’ll thank me for it, and you’ll laugh the entire time.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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S4 E10 Incendiary

Incendiary Booked All Night

  1. Incendiary

This widget shows the latest episode of Booked All Night and may not show the correct episode. Use the links below to find us wherever you get your podcast fix.

It’s time to talk about Zoraida Cordova’s latest title: INCENDIARY. Dan wasn’t a fan, Maggie is a stan, and Jess didn’t get far enough to have an opinion. Let’s get started!

I am Renata Convida. I have lived a hundred stolen lives. Now I live my own. Renata Convida was only a child when she was kidnapped by the King’s Justice and brought to the luxurious palace of Andalucia. As a Robari, the rarest and most feared of the magical Moria, Renata’s ability to steal memories from royal enemies enabled the King’s Wrath, a siege that resulted in the deaths of thousands of her own people. Now Renata is one of the Whispers, rebel spies working against the crown and helping the remaining Moria escape the kingdom bent on their destruction. The Whispers may have rescued Renata from the palace years ago, but she cannot escape their mistrust and hatred–or the overpowering memories of the hundreds of souls she turned “hollow” during her time in the palace. When Dez, the commander of her unit, is taken captive by the notorious Sangrado Prince, Renata will do anything to save the boy whose love makes her place among the Whispers bearable. But a disastrous rescue attempt means Renata must return to the palace under cover and complete Dez’s top secret mission. Can Renata convince her former captors that she remains loyal, even as she burns for vengeance against the brutal, enigmatic prince? Her life and the fate of the Moria depend on it. But returning to the palace stirs childhood memories long locked away. As Renata grows more deeply embedded in the politics of the royal court, she uncovers a secret in her past that could change the entire fate of the kingdom–and end the war that has cost her everything.

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An Interview with Rob Rufus

Incendiary Booked All Night

It's time to talk about Zoraida Cordova's latest title: INCENDIARY. Dan wasn't a fan, Maggie is a stan, and Jess didn't get far enough to have an opinion. Let's get started! Booked All Night: Twitter . Facebook . Instagram  Sign Up for the Newsletter and get a heads up on who's coming to join us so you can ask your own questions.    Visit Our TeeSpring  Visit BookedAllNight.blog    Follow Jess: Twitter . Facebook Follow Maggie: Twitter Follow Dan: Twitter I am Renata Convida. I have lived a hundred stolen lives. Now I live my own. Renata Convida was only a child when she was kidnapped by the King's Justice and brought to the luxurious palace of Andalucia. As a Robari, the rarest and most feared of the magical Moria, Renata's ability to steal memories from royal enemies enabled the King's Wrath, a siege that resulted in the deaths of thousands of her own people. Now Renata is one of the Whispers, rebel spies working against the crown and helping the remaining Moria escape the kingdom bent on their destruction. The Whispers may have rescued Renata from the palace years ago, but she cannot escape their mistrust and hatred–or the overpowering memories of the hundreds of souls she turned "hollow" during her time in the palace. When Dez, the commander of her unit, is taken captive by the notorious Sangrado Prince, Renata will do anything to save the boy whose love makes her place among the Whispers bearable. But a disastrous rescue attempt means Renata must return to the palace under cover and complete Dez's top secret mission. Can Renata convince her former captors that she remains loyal, even as she burns for vengeance against the brutal, enigmatic prince? Her life and the fate of the Moria depend on it. But returning to the palace stirs childhood memories long locked away. As Renata grows more deeply embedded in the politics of the royal court, she uncovers a secret in her past that could change the entire fate of the kingdom–and end the war that has cost her everything. — This episode is sponsored by · Anchor: The easiest way to make a podcast. https://anchor.fm/app — Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/bookedallnight/message Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/bookedallnight/support
  1. Incendiary

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It’s Dan’s first solo interview! He is joined by Rob Rufus, author of THE VINYL UNDERGROUND. 

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What Happens Next

Can a star be put back in the sky even after it’s fallen? In this heartfelt, entertaining, and accessible middle grade novel perfect for fans of The Truth About Jellyfish, one girl makes it her summer mission to find out.  

Astronomy-obsessed Abby McCourt should be thrilled about the solar eclipse her small town of Moose Junction is about to witness, but she’s not. After her older sister Blair was sent away for an eating disorder, Abby has been in a funk. Desperate to dull the pain her sister’s absence has left, she teams up with a visiting astronomer, Dr. Leo Lacamoire, to help track down his long-lost telescope. Though this is supposed to take Abby’s mind off the distance between her and Blair, what she finds may bring her closer to her sister than she ever thought possible.

What Happens Next, Claire Swinarski
May 19, 2020

What Happens Next is an amazing read. It explores so many dynamic relationships and sensitive, but important, topics: eating disorders, family estrangement, and loneliness.

I’m not normally a fan of anachronistic story telling but it works so well for What Happens Next. Swinarski jumps around to let us know Abby’s important and relevant memories when we need to see them. She sits on a dock alone behind a juxtaposed scene of her with her friends or her sisters, and it really drives the emotion of the scenes home.

The most powerful scenes revolve around Abby’s understanding of what anorexia is doing to her sister, Blaire. She imagines the disease as a person, slowly sucking the life from her sister. In each flashback, Abby notes that she should have known something was wrong. She should have been curious about the sweaters and said something sooner when she realized her sister wasn’t eating. But many of these moments are cut short when Abby allows herself to stubbornly get angry at her sister for her selfishness, noting that first the family had no money because Blaire was doing ballet, and now they have no money because Blaire’s not doing ballet.

Abby learns that the secrets we keep for each other can often cause more harm than good and sees the terrible consequences of lost goodbyes. What Happens Next is an important read for everyone and a reminder that when mental illness strikes, it’s often more than one person who needs to heal.

My Rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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When You Know What I Know

A sensitive, harrowing, and ultimately hopeful novel in verse about one girl’s journey in the aftermath of abuse.

One day after school, on the couch in the basement, Tori’s uncle did something bad. Afterward, Tori tells her mom. Even though telling was a brave thing to do, her mom still doesn’t believe her at first. Her grandma still takes his side. And Tori doesn’t want anyone else—even her best friend—to know what happened.

Now Tori finds herself battling mixed emotions—anger, shame, and sadness—as she deals with the trauma. But with the help of her mom, her little sister, her best friend, and others, can Tori find a way to have the last word

From debut author Sonja K. Solter comes a heartbreaking yet powerful novel that will strike a chord with readers of Jacqueline Woodson and Tony Abbott

When You Know What I Know, Sonja K. Solter
March 24, 2020

As it can be seen from the back copy of When You Know What I Know, Sonja K. Solter pulls no punches when it comes to discussing the topics of this amazing middle grade novel in verse. Tori’s story of her uncle’s sexual abuse is so beautifully crafted that you’re immediately lost in Solter’s poetry as Tori recovers from the single worst thing to ever happen to her. Not only is Tori strong, and senstitive, and emotional, and funny, but she is also brave in her year long recovery that amazingly only takes 204 pages to experience. As a former English teacher, I hope schools are caring and brave enough to include this book in their libraries and curriculum for middle graders to experience.

First off, major shout outs to Elliana Esquivel and Marcie Lawrence for creating an absolutely beautiful, yet simple, and by the end of the book unforgettable cover. Having Tori on the cover refusing to look at the reader, that old-ugly couch, the tambourine, the strawberry milkshakes, and the hamster cage on the back so that it is hidden is all absolutely amazing. As you read this book and you look at the cover you can tell this book is a true work of love and caring by all parties involved.

Tori’s story is so beautifully crafted that as a person who highlights “the good parts” as I go, I often found myself too lost in the words to even pick up my highlighter and pen. Solter’s use of verse to tell this story has such brevity that every page feels like the words on that page could not be replaced with any other. It’s rare that I find a book that I cannot point out a single thing I would change, but when it comes to When You Know What I Know that is exactly what Sonja K. Solter has done. She’s created a story so true and so loving towards its readers as well as it’s characters that you will find yourself emotionally sitting next to Tori wanting to ask her, “What can I do to help you, friend?”

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Now, why is it that Sonja K. Solter’s development of Tori and her story strikes such an emotional chord? It’s really something that is very simple. It’s honest and does not beat around the bush about words. Solter gives a voice to young children to know they are not alone. As Solter says herself in the Author’s Note, “Sexual abuse is —sadly, appallingly, unacceptably— a part of our world, and yet it can feel off-limits to speak about it.” In When You Know What I Know, Tori’s sexual abuse goes through all phases of discussion. Whether it is one-sided because her mother doesn’t believe her, unspoken because Tori feels such shame about what happened, internal because Tori is trying to deal with the trauma on her own, said without words when her mother finally listens, whispered by Tori’s teacher (or at least that’s what Tori believes to be true, and probably is), shouted by her mother at her father, repeated when Tori is seeing her therapist, and finally heard when Tori gets to have the Last Word. Solter truly took the idea of sexual abuse being an unspoken taboo and threw it out the window. And, honestly, I could not be happier that she did. Not since Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson or I Hadn’t Meant To Tell You This by Jacqueline Woodson have I felt like sexual abuse and the aftermath be so beautifully discussed in a book.

Genuinely, this book is a fast, sad, and hopeful read. I know that may sound impossible, but it truly is. Sonja K. Solter manages to walk an impossible thin line of beautifully poetic with truthfully heartbreaking without ever once becoming didactic. That is where and why Solter shines so bright in this amazing read. She writes for middle grade in the most true way possible. She is writing for them to have a voice and to be heard and to hear, not for them to sit down and learn. Solter’s care of Tori’s story is not only an act of true love it is a deeply necessary story for the middle grade canon

My Rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Spring Cover Wraps

We’re back at it again, Quarantine Style!

Well, Cover Wraps hasn’t really changed much. We’re mostly still going to be showing you some of the prettiest upcoming books and their covers, matched aesthetically to some super pretty nail wraps! Just, this time, we’re doing it at least six feet apart and mostly staying home.

Please stay home. Practice putting on your nail wraps at home, so that when the social distancing and stay at home is lifted in the future, you can wow all your friends with some beautiful nail art.

Note: These nail arts belong to BeneYou, formerly known as Jamberry. This is not an affiliation post, nor are we sponsored by them. You can find all of these wraps and more on their website.

Bonds of Brass

A young pilot risks everything to save his best friend–the man he trusts most and might even love–only to learn that he’s secretly the heir to a brutal galactic empire.

DaydreamNaya Solar Rush

Time of Our Lives

Time of Our Lives is a story of home and away, of the wonder and weight of memory, of outgrowing fears and growing into the future.

Supersonic Garden Oasis Epic Night

Clap When You Land

In a dual narrative novel in verse that brims with both grief and love, award-winning and bestselling author Elizabeth Acevedo writes about the devastation of loss, the difficulty of forgiveness, and the bittersweet bonds that shape our lives.

Stained On the SceneGrapefruit

A Song of Wraiths and Ruin

The first in an fantasy duology inspired by West African folklore in which a grieving crown princess and a desperate refugee find themselves on a collision course to murder each other despite their growing attraction.

Sloan Sweet SolitudeEra

Forest of Souls

Danger lurks within the roots of Forest of Souls, an epic, unrelenting tale of destiny and sisterhood, perfect for fans of Naomi Novik and Susan Dennard.

Fierce When & WearGolden Posies

The Court of Miracles

Les Misérables meets Six of Crows in this page-turning adventure as a young thief finds herself going head to head with leaders of Paris’s criminal underground in the wake of the French Revolution.

Wildwood Marble MeRazz Dazz

How To Make A TBR Jar

Spring is almost here! Or is here based on the weather in your area (it’s definitely nice out where we are). Which means it’s the perfect reading weather! Because all weather is the perfect reading weather. And you probably have a lot of books left over from all that awesome holiday money. And you probably still need supervision going to the bookstore because you can never have too many books. But now that TBR pile is growing. And you can’t decide what to read next off of it. It’s time to revive the TBR Jar.

Step 1: Get a jar

Any size will do! For this tutorial, I’m using a small 4oz jar.

Step 2: Decorate It!

Or don’t It’s up to you. I’ve seen some really pretty ones with lace and mod podge, but I went simple with some washi tape.

I used a stencil to right “To Be Read” on the jar and then again on the washi tape. To make sure the washi tape stays on the glass, its best to cover it in a layer of mod podge (may I suggest EXTREME GLITTER GLITTER or GLOW IN THE DARK).

Step 3: Add the titles.

Go to the papercraft section of any store and you’re bound to find some card stock. I went to AC MOORE (before the mass closing) and purchased a small stack of business card sized card stock. Pretty colors, already cut to size, and easily foldable.

Step 4: Drop them in the jar!

Place them in the jar and make sure to give it a good shake! To add to it you can add extra fun rewards for you pull out. I added:

  • Buy a new book
  • Buy a bookish tee-shirt
  • Rearrange your shelves
  • Listen to an audio book

TBR jars are also a great way to tackle your favorite challenges because you can use them to add bookish goals instead of titles. Just have fun!

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S4 E8 An Interview With Dallas Woodburn

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We’re joined by Dallas Woodburn, author of the recently released THE BEST WEEK THAT NEVER HAPPENED.

After her parents’ bitter divorce, family vacations to the Big Island in Hawaii ceased. But across the miles, eighteen-year-old Tegan Rossi remains connected to local Kai Kapule, her best friend from childhood. Now, Tegan finds herself alone and confused about how she got to the Big Island. With no wallet, no cell phone, purse, or plane ticket, Tegan struggles to piece together what happened. She must have come to surprise-visit Kai. Right?As the teens grow even closer, Tegan pushes aside her worries and gets swept away in the vacation of her dreams. But each morning, Tegan startles awake from nightmares that become more difficult to ignore. Something is eerily amiss. Why is there a strange gap in her memory? Why can’t she reach her parents or friends from home? And what’s with the mysterious hourglass tattoo over her heart?Kai promises to help Tegan figure out what is going on. But the answers they find only lead to more questions. As the week unfolds, Tegan will experience the magic of first love, the hope of second chances, and the bittersweet joy and grief of being human.

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Dallas Woodburn’s 11 Favorite YA Romance Books + A GIVEAWAY

Don’t worry if you can’t get enough of these book recs from Dallas Woodburns because she’ll be on the Booked All Night podcast on May 7th. Until then, enjoy her guest post and a GIVEAWAY of her upcoming title The Best Week That Never Happened.

Emerge by Tobie Easton 

Actually, I would recommend this whole series, The Mer Chronicles, of which Emerge is the first book. This romantic page-turner reimagines the world of The Little Mermaid, but takes it in entirely new directions. Main character Lia is a mermaid who lives on land with her family amidst a small, secret community of Mer people—ever since The Little Mermaid unleashed a curse, the Mer lost their immortality, and the ocean has been plagued with war. When Lia begins to fall for a human boy, everything she knows and loves is put to the test. If you’re into high-stakes, fantastical romance, you will fly through this book and promptly dive into the next two in the trilogy, Submerge and Immerse

Loveboat, Taipei by Abigail Hing Wen

When I was reading this book, I felt like I was having an affair. Loveboat, Taipei was all I could think about. I would grab it and flip it open any little chance I got throughout the day, eager to see what would happen next. I stayed up way too late reading, even though I knew I would have to get up early to take care of my baby daughter the next morning. This book centers around Ever Wong and her transformative summer experience in the Chien Tan educational summer program in Taipei. My favorite parts of the book were Ever’s path of self-discovery and her intensely satisfying romance with a fellow Loveboat student. (Not saying who, so I don’t give away the plot twists!) This was the perfect escapist read for these anxious days of quarantine: filled with romance, rebellion, and character-driven emotion.  

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10 Things I Can See From Here by Carrie Mac

It has been a couple years now since I first read this novel, but I still find myself thinking about it—which, to me, is a sure sign of a great book. The story centers around Maeve, a girl who struggles with severe anxiety and is sent to Vancouver to spend the summer with her dad and her stepfamily. The romance between Maeve and free spirit Salix is heartwarming and refreshingly realistic, and I love how Salix doesn’t try to “fix” Maeve’s anxiety. Instead, both characters find new layers of freedom and joy both in and outside their budding romance. Side note: I adore the relationship between Maeve and her stepmother in this book! We could use more books depicting close teen/stepparent relationships.

Dangerous Alliance: An Austentacious Romance by Jennieke Cohen

Calling all Jane Austen fans! You must get your hands on Dangerous Alliance immediately! This Regency-era historical romance is the perfect novel to sink into as you relax with a delicious baked good and a mug of tea. Lady Victoria Aston is on a time crunch to find a husband in order to secure her family’s estate. In addition to the romantic twists and turns, there is also a murder mystery woven into the plot that kept me riveted. The writing style is warm and witty, and I loved the way Vicky’s character develops through the course of the book. And as a writer myself, I was so impressed by the extensive research Cohen must have done—the world is so vividly portrayed with details and descriptions. I can’t wait for her next book!

The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen

I am a huge Sarah Dessen fan—her books were a true comfort to me during high school, and I have continued reading and loving her work ever since! It is difficult for me to pick just one Sarah Dessen book to include on a list like this, but I am going with The Truth About Forever because it is definitely one of my favorites, and the theme of letting go of perfection is really resonating with me these days. (You should see the disastrous state of my house; my 16-month-old daughter’s favorite game is to pull items down off shelves and dressers and scatter everything onto the floor.) While I love this book’s slow-building romance between Macy and Wes, perhaps even more satisfying is the way that Macy comes to terms with her grief, moves past her perfectionism, and takes control of her own future. 

The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

Nicola Yoon is another one of my favorite authors. I especially adore her nuanced, complex, multifaceted characters, and the way her love stories have high stakes. In The Sun is Also a Star we meet Natasha, a science-loving girl whose family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica, and Daniel, who has always been “the good son” and “the good student,” pushing aside his own dreams to please his parents. When Natasha and Daniel’s paths collide on a crowded street in New York City, we get to experience their quickly unfolding romance over the course of a single day through their alternating perspectives. I first listened to this novel as an audiobook, and I loved it so much that I bought a print copy when I finished listening so I could read it through again on the page. And every time I read this book, even though I now know how it ends, I cry the best kind of happy tears when I get to the final page. 

When The Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore

This is one of the most beautifully unique books I have ever read. I have a hard time capturing in words how this book made me feel and how much I adore it. McLemore writes with gorgeous ethereal prose about Miel and Sam, best friends who everyone else considers odd but who find solace and redemption in each other. If you are a fan of magical realism, emotionally resonant stories, and characters who are radiantly filled with light and life—you will fall in love with this book. It might even change your life.

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

I recently re-read this book after watching the movie on Netflix, and oh my heart. Violet and Finch have to be two of my all-time favorite characters, and their romance is so deeply felt. Reading this book is like falling in love for the first time… and getting your heart broken for the first time, but in a way that makes you hopeful about falling in love again. This is an intense, poignant novel about how the people we love simultaneously change us while also allows us to be our deepest, most authentic selves. And while I was captivated by the film version of this story—and highly recommend watching it on Netflix—I have to say that the book is even better.  

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The Love That Split the World by Emily Henry

This book drew me in with its stunning cover, and the evocative storytelling and lush prose had me hooked from the first page. Epic love story? Check. Mystery and suspense? Check. An ending that will knock your socks off? Check. As soon as I finished reading The Love That Split the World, I immediately wanted to turn back to page one and read the whole book all over again! I also have a fond spot in my heart for this book because I was reading it when I got the lightning-bolt idea for my novel The Best Week That Never Happened. I like to think that something about this story opened the floodgates for my own creativity!

The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan

I love all of David Levithan’s books—in fact, I almost put Boy Meets Boy on this list instead, but I ultimately went with The Lover’s Dictionary because it is so incredibly unique and thoughtfully done. I am a sucker for creative structure, which is perhaps why I was so blown away by this book. The narrator (who remains nameless, increasing the feeling that this is a book about anyone and everyone) has constructed the story of his relationship as a dictionary. Instead of a typical narrative structure, we get short entries organized alphabetically about the events, details and occurrences—both large and small—that come with being in love and being a couple. This is a book that could easily be read in one sitting, or doled out slowly over many days. I first read it years ago, before I met the man who would become my husband; rereading it recently, the entries only struck me as more true and beautiful and moving. 

Aristotle & Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

This is a book that gets under your skin and becomes part of you. It tells the story of two teenagers, Aristotle “Ari” Mendoza and Dante Quintana and takes place in Texas during the 1980s. The short, poetic chapters follow Ari and Dante over the course of two years as their tentative friendship evolves from a random meeting at the swimming pool into a powerful bond that will change them both forever. My favorite thing about this book is the lyrical prose—it is a quietly strong story that gently builds and builds into a force of nature. The ending initially took me by surprise, but after reflecting on it for a while, it seems like the only ending this book could have had. This is a stunning, heartrending narrative about the family we create for ourselves and how love can astonish us in the best possible way. 

Dallas Woodburn

Dallas Woodburn is the author of the YA novel The Best Week That Never Happened and the linked short story collection Woman, Running Late, in a Dress. A former John Steinbeck Fellow in Creative Writing and a current San Francisco Writers Grotto Fellow, her work has been honored with the Cypress & Pine Short Fiction Award, the international Glass Woman Prize, second place in the American Fiction Prize, and four Pushcart Prize nominations. She is also the host of the popular book-lovers podcast Overflowing Bookshelves and founder of the organization Write On! Books that empowers youth through reading and writing endeavors. Dallas lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her amazing husband and adorable daughter.

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May First Impressions

May brings flowers and we can go outside and…wait, what? We STILL have to stay inside? Well, crap. Okay… let me rethink this. May is a time to stay safe, healthy, and explore the world in these amazing books! (And no…I will not be giving a First Impression of Hunger Games Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes.) *EDITOR’S NOTE: Yes, he is.* Coming at you with TEN books publishing in May that everyone should be checking out.

Last Girls – Demetra Brodsky

Demetra Brodsky’s Last Girls is a twisting, suspenseful YA thriller about sisterhood, survival, and family secrets set in the world of doomsday prepping.

No one knows how the world will end.

On a secret compound in the Washington wilderness, Honey Juniper and her sisters are training to hunt, homestead, and protect their own.

Prepare for every situation.

But when danger strikes from within, putting her sisters at risk, training becomes real life, and only one thing is certain:

Nowhere is safe.

Last Girls, Demetra Brosky
May 5, 2020

Now, where better to start than a book about doomsday prepping? This book may not only be informational, but it will certainly be entertaining. Personally, I’m interested in the dynamic between the sisters. I mean, when one sister’s name is Honey Juniper you just know that this book is going to have some characters you want to either fight or love.

The cover instantly caught my eye, obviously. Just look at it! Plus, with a tagline like, “this is the way their world ends” I don’t know how anyone couldn’t be interested in this book. Plus, the depictions of the sisters on the cover have been dying to know, on a scale from me to Ronda Rousey, how badass these sisters are. I’m willing to bet that the scale will be further referenced as the Juniper Sisters scale because they look like they could take a grizzly bear, a pack of wolves, and anything else that challenges them on…and win.

Also,…it’s Last Girls. Can we just take that in for a second on what that means this book will tackle? It’s not Lost Girls or Last Girls (in this area). It is LAST! GIRLS! These sisters are going to probably fight for their lives, freedom, and happiness. A story like this is exactly what all of us need right now.

This is Demetra Brosky’s second book, but I’m sure one book of experience doesn’t prepare you for these unprecedented times. I know I will be picking this awesome looking read as soon as I can and hope our loyal readers and listeners will too. I can’t wait to read this and discuss it with anybody else that picks it up.

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The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea – Maggie Tokuda-Hall

A desperate orphan turned pirate and a rebellious imperial daughter find a connection on the high seas in a world divided by colonialism and threaded with magic.

Aboard the pirate ship Dove, Flora the girl takes on the identity of Florian the man to earn the respect and protection of the crew. For Flora, former starving urchin, the brutal life of a pirate is about survival: don’t trust, don’t stick out, and don’t feel. But on this voyage, as the pirates prepare to sell their unsuspecting passengers into slavery, Flora is drawn to the Lady Evelyn Hasegawa, who is en route to a dreaded arranged marriage with her own casket in tow. Flora doesn’t expect to be taken under Evelyn’s wing, and Evelyn doesn’t expect to find such a deep bond with the pirate Florian.

Soon the unlikely pair set in motion a wild escape that will free a captured mermaid (coveted for her blood, which causes men to have visions and lose memories) and involve the mysterious Pirate Supreme, an opportunistic witch, and the all-encompassing Sea itself.

The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea, Maggie Tokuda-Hall
May 5, 2020

Alright, am I a bit biased towards this book because I play a Ranger in Dungeons & Dragons with a Pirate background? Like, does that make me more likely to pick up, read, and love a book about pirates? Yes, to both those questions. And is this REALLY a first impression when I was watching a YALLWEST webinar that featured Maggie Tokuda-Hall that talked about “Suckage” that really resonated with me? No.

That being said, look at that cover. Scroll back up and check it out. Read that back cover again. How absolutely AWESOME does this book sound? I can’t wait! Colonialism? Heck yeah, burn it down. Pirates? Heck yes, get that booty! And before you even have to ask…yes, this book talks about two pirates becoming closer than expected because of some fun LGBT romance! What more do you need? This is one of those books that makes you self conscious about your own D&D character. I’m willing to bet that. I’ll bet a copy of this book on that.

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The Henna Wars – Adiba Jaigirdar

When Dimple Met Rishi meets Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda in this rom com about two teen girls with rival henna businesses.

When Nishat comes out to her parents, they say she can be anyone she wants—as long as she isn’t herself. Because Muslim girls aren’t lesbians. Nishat doesn’t want to hide who she is, but she also doesn’t want to lose her relationship with her family. And her life only gets harder once a childhood friend walks back into her life.

Flávia is beautiful and charismatic and Nishat falls for her instantly. But when a school competition invites students to create their own businesses, both Flávia and Nishat choose to do henna, even though Flávia is appropriating Nishat’s culture. Amidst sabotage and school stress, their lives get more tangled—but Nishat can’t quite get rid of her crush on Flávia, and realizes there might be more to her than she realized.

The Henna Wars, Adiba Jaigirdar
May 12, 2020

*Sorry, I’m supposed to be writing a First Impression of this book, but instead I ordered it and am now standing next to my mailbox waiting for it to arrive.*

Alright, I have to try to encapsulate my first impression here. Okay, as if this book doesn’t scream everything that everyone needs on their bookshelf… As if this cover alone doesn’t melt your heart… As if the fact that Adiba Jaigirbar is a debut author with a book that screams everything YOU want… As if, THERE’S A SPOTIFY PLAYLIST TO LISTEN TO WHILE YOU WAIT FOR THIS BOOK TO ARRIVE!

For real though, this book sounds wonderful. If this book list was a ranking from most excited to least excited, it would be impossible to finish. That being said, this book would easily take the number one spot. I don’t know how a book can sound so perfect in three paragraphs. I ordered it. I hope I can interview Adiba Jaigirbar. I hope I can meet Adiba Jaigibar. I hope I can become a uber fanboy of Adiba Jaigibar. Don’t be surprised if this shows up on my end of the year “Best Books List” and wins every single award in the Young Adult Literary world. Don’t be late to the party. Order it now.

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By the Book – Amanda Sellet

As a devotee of classic novels, Mary Porter-Malcolm knows all about Mistakes That Have Been Made, especially by impressionable young women. So when a girl at her new high school nearly succumbs to the wiles of a notorious cad, Mary starts compiling the Scoundrel Survival Guide, a rundown of literary types to be avoided at all costs.

Unfortunately, Mary is better at dishing out advice than taking it—and the number one bad boy on her list is terribly debonair. As her best intentions go up in flames, Mary discovers life doesn’t follow the same rules as fiction. If she wants a happy ending IRL, she’ll have to write it herself. 

By the Book, Amanda Sellet
May 12, 2020

It takes half-a-second of looking at Amanda Sellet’s author page to know how fun of a rom-com this book is going to be. Likewise, the stare between the two assumed lovers from the cover sends chills of glee down my spine. Any book about a bookworm falling in love I am going to be a sucker for. Nothing strums my heartstrings quite like bookworms finding love.

Also, Amanda Sellet’s story seems to have a genuine care to it. I’m not sure if it’s the cover, the back copy, or her author page, but there seems to be a deep true love that inspired this story. I mean, anyone that makes the pun on the cover of “prose and con” has to have a heart worth loving and enjoying. That pun alone makes me smile and I am sure it is not the first smile of many this book provides.

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The Life and (Medieval) Times of Kit Sweetly – Jamie Pacton

Kit Sweetly slays sexism, bad bosses, and bad luck to become a knight at a medieval-themed restaurant.

Working as a wench―i.e. waitress―at a cheesy medieval-themed restaurant in the Chicago suburbs, Kit Sweetly dreams of being a knight like her brother. She has the moves, is capable on a horse, and desperately needs the raise that comes with knighthood, so she can help her mom pay the mortgage and hold a spot at her dream college.

Company policy allows only guys to be knights. So when Kit takes her brother’s place and reveals her identity at the end of the show, she rockets into internet fame and a whole lot of trouble with the management. But the Girl Knight won’t go down without a fight. As other wenches join her quest, a protest forms. In a joust before Castle executives, they’ll prove that gender restrictions should stay medieval―if they don’t get fired first.

The Life and (Medieval) Times of Kit Sweetly, Jamie Pacton
May 5, 2020

A little behind the curtains moment. I requested the Advance Reader Copy of this book because I immediately fell in love with Kit Sweetly from the cover and title alone. Then, after reading the back copy, I became hungry for this story in my life. This book’s first impression felt like discovering a book you’ve been waiting for years to discover. I mean, A contemporary story set in medieval times? How can you not want to read that story?

Kit Sweetly sounds like the Lisa Lionheart (from The Simpsons episode where Lisa wants a strong, female role-model doll instead of Malibu Stacey), or a contemporary Katniss Everdeen, or a medieval times (minus the magic) version of Hermoine Granger. It won’t surprise me if young people look up to Kit Sweetly as a role model. It won’t surprise me if Kit Sweetly becomes a subject of adoration on Tumblr by artists. It won’t surprise me if Kit Sweetly takes on a life of her own from the pages written here by Jamie Pacton. This book could be one of those books that you talk about in thirty years to young kids about how you remember when it came out and how YES! Kit Sweetly is still as awesome as they were in 2020.

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Stay Gold – Tobly McSmith

Debut author Tobly McSmith delivers a coming-of-age teen love story about a transgender boy who’s going stealth at his new Texas high school and a cisgender girl who is drawn to him, even as she’s counting down the days until graduation. Perfect for fans of David Levithan, Becky Albertalli, and Jenny Han.

Pony just wants to fly under the radar during senior year. Tired from all the attention he got at his old school after coming out as transgender, he’s looking for a fresh start at Hillcrest High. But it’s hard to live your best life when the threat of exposure lurks down every hallway and in every bathroom.

Georgia is beginning to think there’s more to life than cheerleading. She plans on keeping a low profile until graduation…which is why she promised herself that dating was officially a no-go this year.

Then, on the very first day of school, the new guy and the cheerleader lock eyes. How is Pony supposed to stay stealth when he wants to get close to a girl like Georgia? How is Georgia supposed to keep her promise when sparks start flying with a boy like Pony?

Funny and poignant, clear-eyed and hopeful, Stay Gold is a story about finding love—and finding yourself.

Stay Gold, Tobly McSmith
May 26, 2020

This book has everything? Yeah, everything. I can’t think of a book I’d rather read than this one except for other ones on this list, obviously. I’m glad this comes out towards the end of the month that way I can end May with a book that looks absolutely amazing. Especially considering this is a story written by someone who is proudly trans, it should be acknowledged that this story will undoubtedly resound with the truth. Sure, it is a love story at the end of the day, with one of my favorite allusions clearly being made, but this book seems absolutely genuine, heartfelt, and gorgeous.

This cover does exactly what it says to do. Likewise, this book makes me want to stay cool, strong, and myself. The cover is stunning. Those colors, right? And then the way Stay Gold is popping on the cover will undoubtedly catch eyes. I can only assume that this book will keep readers hooked because if the entire book is as well written as the back cover, then it will undoubtedly connect with any reader. It is also important to mention that this book is connected to https://www.staygoldfund.org/ which is worth checking out and donating to via purchasing this book. I cannot be more excited for this book to come out and end May on a much deserved high note.

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The Boy in the Red Dress – Kristin Lambert

A Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue meets Miss Fisher’s Murder Mystery in this rollicking romp of truth, lies, and troubled pasts.

New Year’s Eve, 1929.

Millie is running the show at the Cloak & Dagger, a swinging speakeasy in the French Quarter, while her aunt is out of town. The new year is just around the corner, and all of New Orleans is out to celebrate, but even wealthy partiers’ diamond earrings can’t outshine the real star of the night: the boy in the red dress. Marion is the club’s star performer and his fans are legion–if mostly underground.

When a young socialite wielding a photograph of Marion starts asking questions, Millie wonders if she’s just another fan. But then her body is found crumpled in the courtyard, dead from an apparent fall off the club’s balcony, and all signs point to Marion as the murderer. Millie knows he’s innocent, but local detectives aren’t so easily convinced.

As she chases clues that lead to cemeteries and dead ends, Millie’s attention is divided between the wry and beautiful Olive, a waitress at the Cloak & Dagger, and Bennie, the charming bootlegger who’s offered to help her solve the case. The clock is ticking for the fugitive Marion, but the truth of who the killer is might be closer than Millie thinks.

The Boy in the Red Dress, Kristin Lambert
May 12, 2020

I think this book has one of those titles that makes you stop. Right? Am I wrong? Then you find out it’s set in 1929? Yes, that’s 91 years ago, alright. Then you find out it’s a murder mystery style story? How can you possibly say no to that, right? This book seems like such a wonderfully amazingly unique story. Plus, yet again, how can you not love that tagline, right? “He’s not a killer. She’s the only one who can prove it.” How is that book not one that you pick up? That cover, look at Millie’s smirk! LOOK AT IT! Millie is the type of character you hope Kristin Lambert will write a million novels so you can binge read them all the time.

It’s hard to write a murder mystery, it’s hard to write a historical fiction piece, and it can be hard to write a story involving LGBTQIA+ characters more involved in those two types of stories intended for young adult readers. I cannot wait to see how Kristin Lambert is able to combine all three of those narratives into one story that looks so fantastically promising. Likewise, I cannot wait to see the way this book effects and changes the expectations and acceptance of interesting, intersecting, and intelligent stories. I will not be surprised if Kristin Lambert becomes a very important name in the young adult literary canon.

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Wonderland – Juno Dawson

What happens when you fall down the rabbit hole? The compulsive must-have follow-up to CLEAN and MEAT MARKET from bestselling author Juno Dawson

Alice lives in a world of stifling privilege and luxury – but none of it means anything when your own head plays tricks on your reality. When her troubled friend Bunny goes missing, Alice becomes obsessed with finding her. On the trail of her last movements, Alice discovers a mysterious invitation to ‘Wonderland’: the party to end all parties – three days of hedonistic excess to which only the elite are welcome.

Will she find Bunny there? Or is this really a case of finding herself? Because Alice has secrets of her own, and ruthless socialite queen Paisley Hart is determined to uncover them, whatever it takes.

Alice is all alone, miles from home and without her essential medication. She can trust no-one, least of all herself, and now she has a new enemy who wants her head…

A searing exploration of mental health, gender and privilege, from the most addictive YA novelist in the UK today.

Wonderland, Juno Dawson

Wonderland is undoubtedly going to be another amazing story by the acclaimed Juno Dawson. The cover alone pulls you in, right? The neon-lit bunny does exactly what it means to do. It catches your eye and makes you want to know more about this story. Then give that back cover a glance? Yeah, it’s okay. I know. Look, we’re all in quarantine right now and this is another one that will undoubtedly let you feel like you are escaping not only your house but also this world!

I don’t know about you, but this book gives me a sort of Black Mirror vibe to it. I mean that in the most absolutely kind and interesting way. I won’t be surprised if this book finds itself on banned book lists and I won’t be surprised if this book is hard for American readers to get their hands on. BUT based on the author being Juno Dawson and the concept of the story as well, I have to believe that this book will be one constantly on the tip of your tongue to ready to answer the question, “Read any good books lately?”

The Fascinators – Andrew Eliopulos

A magic-infused YA novel about friendship, first love, and feeling out of place that will bewitch fans of Rainbow Rowell and Maggie Stiefvater.

Living in a small town where magic is frowned upon, Sam needs his friends James and Delia—and their time together in their school’s magic club—to see him through to graduation.

But as soon as senior year starts, little cracks in their group begin to show. Sam may or may not be in love with James. Delia is growing more frustrated with their amateur magic club. And James reveals that he got mixed up with some sketchy magickers over the summer, putting a target on all their backs.

With so many fault lines threatening to derail his hopes for the year, Sam is forced to face the fact that the very love of magic that brought his group together is now tearing them apart—and there are some problems that no amount of magic can fix. 

The Fascinators, Andrew Eliopulos
May 12, 2020

This book has some amazing things going for it, right? Let’s count them. Magic. Check! Friendship. Check! A beautiful cover. Check! An intriguing plot. Check! Apparently, being book one of a series? Wait…Yeah, that’s right! Sam, Delia, and James seem to be primed to be the new magical trio we all fall in love with. I know I am excited to see how their friendship will bend or break, mend or magically dissipate.

Andrew Eliopulos has something great right here. I don’t doubt that for a single second. The Fascinators will, like any great story featuring magic, make me wish I was playing Sam, Delia, or James in a Dungeons & Dragons campaign or video game. The closeness of the characters on the cover definitely show how close these friends will be in this book. There is undoubted love in their eyes. There is a longing to be together. This book undoubtedly has heart, soul, and magic.

Get it Here

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes – Suzanne Collins

It is the morning of the reaping that will kick off the 10th annual Hunger Games. In the Capitol, 18-year-old Coriolanus Snow is preparing for his one shot at glory as a mentor in the Games. The once-mighty house of Snow has fallen on hard times, its fate hanging on the slender chance that Coriolanus will be able to out charm, outwit, and outmaneuver his fellow students to mentor the winning tribute.

The odds are against him. He’s been given the humiliating assignment of mentoring the female tribute from District 12, the lowest of the low. Their fates are now completely intertwined – every choice Coriolanus makes could lead to favor or failure, triumph or ruin. Inside the arena, it will be a fight to the death. Outside the arena, Coriolanus starts to feel for his doomed tribute… and must weigh his need to follow the rules against his desire to survive no matter what it takes.

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, Suzanne Collins
May 19, 2020

Yes, this book is on this list and I said it wouldn’t be. No, I am not going to talk about it. What I am going to say is there are nine books that came before this one on this list. Nine authors that deserve all the pomp and circumstance that this book has received. Instead, those authors, many of them, debut authors have been robbed of book tours and meeting future fans. The debut authors on this list have had to turn to social media and the awkwardness of asking people to give their book a chance during times of uncertainty. Even worse, those authors above now have to potentially compete on the market with something that is, honestly, unasked for.

Don’t forget, President Snow in The Hunger Games is a maniacal, power-hungry, wealthy, tyrant that puts his face on everything and uses misinformation to lie to his people. The best thing about President Snow is that he gets taken down by Katniss Everdeen. Now, who wants to hear, or read, some alleged sob-story about when Coriolanus was eighteen? He is a rich kid, a ridiculously rich kid, whose problem is that somebody he doesn’t care about will die. What? Why would anyone want to read that story? Coriolanus is the character with the absolute least reason to hear his backstory.

Sure, are we going to read it and review it for an episode? Probably. Take whatever we say about it and talk about that with your friends and then introduce them to any of the nine other books on this list. This book does not need you to clamor for it and order it immediately. It will get its proper recognition. The other nine books on this list deserve your attention and love. The same love and attention you gave The Hunger Games so many years ago. And yes, if this book is Suzanne Collins giving us 624 pages of a tyrannical billionaire getting emotionally destroyed maybe I’ll recommend it.

Maybe.

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Havenfall

A safe haven between four realms. The girl sworn to protect it — at any cost.

Hidden deep in the mountains of Colorado lies the Inn at Havenfall, a sanctuary that connects ancient worlds — each with their own magic — together. For generations, the inn has protected all who seek refuge within its walls, and any who disrupt the peace can never return.

For Maddie Morrow, summers at the inn are more than a chance to experience this magic first-hand. Havenfall is an escape from reality, where her mother sits on death row accused of murdering Maddie’s brother. It’s where Maddie fell in love with handsome Fiorden soldier Brekken. And it’s where one day she hopes to inherit the role of Innkeeper from her beloved uncle.

But this summer, the impossible happens–a dead body is found, shattering everything the inn stands for. With Brekken missing, her uncle gravely injured, and a dangerous creature on the loose, Maddie suddenly finds herself responsible for the safety of everyone in Havenfall. She’ll do anything to uncover the truth, even if it means working together with an alluring new staffer Taya, who seems to know more than she’s letting on. As dark secrets are revealed about the inn itself, one thing becomes clear to Maddie–no one can be trusted, and no one is safe… 

Havenfall, Sara Holland
March 3, 2020

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This book really has everything I could have ever wanted: portal fantasy, queer characters, magic and mystery! A pretty cover! An author I’ve loved before!

And yet, I couldn’t get into it. At all.

There was something about the pacing, something about the characters that I just couldn’t get into. I loved Sara Holland’s Everless duology. That one pulled me in from the veryfirst line. But Havenfall just… didn’t.

I had to DNF it at like, chapter 2 because I just couldn’t see myself enjoying it going forward. I’m trying to not lose myself to forcing a way through a book if I’m not going to like it. It’s never an easy decision to put down a book. I want to love everything that comes across my path, especially books that tick off all the boxes.

And Havenfall, despite promising everything I could ever want, wasn’t for me.

My Rating:
DNF

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May Upcoming Titles

Summer’s coming, the pandemic is still going, but we’ve got some pretty awesome books on their way!

Aurora Burning by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Our heroes are back… kind of. From the bestselling co-authors of the Illuminae Files comes the second book in the epic series about a squad of misfits, losers, and discipline cases who just might be the galaxy’s best hope for survival.

First, the bad news: an ancient evil—you know, your standard consume-all-life-in-the-galaxy deal—is about to be unleashed. The good news? Squad 312 is standing by to save the day. They’ve just got to take care of a few small distractions first.

Like the clan of gremps who’d like to rearrange their favorite faces.

And the cadre of illegit GIA agents with creepy flowers where their eyes used to be, who’ll stop at nothing to get their hands on Auri.

Then there’s Kal’s long-lost sister, who’s not exactly happy to see her baby brother, and has a Syldrathi army at her back. With half the known galaxy on their tails, Squad 312 has never felt so wanted.

When they learn the Hadfield has been found, it’s time to come out of hiding. Two centuries ago, the colony ship vanished, leaving Auri as its sole survivor. Now, its black box might be what saves them. But time is short, and if Auri can’t learn to master her powers as a Trigger, the squad and all their admirers are going to be deader than the Great Ultrasaur of Abraaxis IV.

Shocking revelations, bank heists, mysterious gifts, inappropriately tight bodysuits, and an epic firefight will determine the fate of the Aurora Legion’s most unforgettable heroes—and maybe the rest of the galaxy as well.

Pub Date: May 2, 2020

The Betrothed by Kiera Cass

When King Jameson declares his love for Lady Hollis Brite, Hollis is shocked—and thrilled. After all, she’s grown up at Keresken Castle, vying for the king’s attention alongside other daughters of the nobility. Capturing his heart is a dream come true.

But Hollis soon realizes that falling in love with a king and being crowned queen may not be the happily ever after she thought it would be. And when she meets a commoner with the mysterious power to see right into her heart, she finds that the future she really wants is one that she never thought to imagine.

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

Camino Rios lives for the summers when her father visits her in the Dominican Republic. But this time, on the day when his plane is supposed to land, Camino arrives at the airport to see crowds of crying people…

In New York City, Yahaira Rios is called to the principal’s office, where her mother is waiting to tell her that her father, her hero, has died in a plane crash.

Separated by distance – and Papi’s secrets – the two girls are forced to face a new reality in which their father is dead and their lives are forever altered. And then, when it seems like they’ve lost everything of their father, they learn of each other.

Papi’s death uncovers all the painful truths he kept hidden, and the love he divided across an ocean. And now, Camino and Yahaira are both left to grapple with what this new sister means to them, and what it will now take to keep their dreams alive.

In a dual narrative novel in verse that brims with both grief and love, award-winning and bestselling author Elizabeth Acevedo writes about the devastation of loss, the difficulty of forgiveness, and the bittersweet bonds that shape our lives.

Pub Date: May 5, 2020
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Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust

A captivating and utterly original fairy tale about a girl cursed to be poisonous to the touch, and who discovers what power might lie in such a curse…

There was and there was not, as all stories begin, a princess cursed to be poisonous to the touch. But for Soraya, who has lived her life hidden away, apart from her family, safe only in her gardens, it’s not just a story.

As the day of her twin brother’s wedding approaches, Soraya must decide if she’s willing to step outside of the shadows for the first time. Below in the dungeon is a demon who holds knowledge that she craves, the answer to her freedom. And above is a young man who isn’t afraid of her, whose eyes linger not with fear, but with an understanding of who she is beneath the poison.

Soraya thought she knew her place in the world, but when her choices lead to consequences she never imagined, she begins to question who she is and who she is becoming…human or demon. Princess or monster.

Pub Date: May 12, 2020

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins

It is the morning of the reaping that will kick off the 10th annual Hunger Games. In the Capitol, 18-year-old Coriolanus Snow is preparing for his one shot at glory as a mentor in the Games. The once-mighty house of Snow has fallen on hard times, its fate hanging on the slender chance that Coriolanus will be able to out charm, outwit, and outmaneuver his fellow students to mentor the winning tribute.

The odds are against him. He’s been given the humiliating assignment of mentoring the female tribute from District 12, the lowest of the low. Their fates are now completely intertwined – every choice Coriolanus makes could lead to favor or failure, triumph or ruin. Inside the arena, it will be a fight to the death. Outside the arena, Coriolanus starts to feel for his doomed tribute… and must weigh his need to follow the rules against his desire to survive no matter what it takes.

Pub Date: May 19, 2020

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S4 E7 Aurora Rising

This widget shows our latest episode and may not match up to the title of the post. Use the links below to subscribe to us whereever you get your podcast fix.

Jess is a gearhead with both eyebrows, Dan is a stunningly attractive Ace, and Maggie finds herself with newfound responsibilities on this episode of Booked All Night when we discuss Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff.

From the internationally bestselling authors of THE ILLUMINAE FILES comes an epic new science fiction adventure.

The year is 2380, and the graduating cadets of Aurora Academy are being assigned their first missions. Star pupil Tyler Jones is ready to recruit the squad of his dreams, but his own boneheaded heroism sees him stuck with the dregs nobody else in the Academy would touch…

A cocky diplomat with a black belt in sarcasm
A sociopath scientist with a fondness for shooting her bunkmates
A smart-ass techwiz with the galaxy’s biggest chip on his shoulder
An alien warrior with anger management issues
A tomboy pilot who’s totally not into him, in case you were wondering

And Ty’s squad isn’t even his biggest problem—that’d be Aurora Jie-Lin O’Malley, the girl he’s just rescued from interdimensional space. Trapped in cryo-sleep for two centuries, Auri is a girl out of time and out of her depth. But she could be the catalyst that starts a war millions of years in the making, and Tyler’s squad of losers, discipline-cases and misfits might just be the last hope for the entire galaxy.

They’re not the heroes we deserve. They’re just the ones we could find. Nobody panic.

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10 Awesome Authors To Checkout

So you’re still stuck at home. So are we. So is everyone. But the good news is that books exist and you have plenty of time to discover some authors

Cameron Lund

Cameron Lund is a young adult author, singer/songwriter, and cheese enthusiast.

Originally from the middle of the New Hampshire woods, she moved to the beach to study film at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and has stayed out west ever since. Her love of travel has taken her to more than 25 countries–there’s nothing she loves more than writing while on an adventure somewhere, preferably with a view of a waterfall.

Cameron’s debut novel, The Best Laid Plans, will be released with Razorbill (Penguin/Randomhouse) on April 7th, 2020.

June Hur

JUNE HUR (‘Hur’ as in ‘her’) was born in South Korea and raised in Canada, except for the time when she moved back to Korea and attended high school there. Most of her work is inspired by her journey through life as an individual, a dreamer, and a Christian, with all its confusions, doubts, absurdities and magnificence. She studied History and Literature at the University of Toronto, and currently works for the public library. She lives in Toronto with her husband and daughter.

Her debut novel The Silence of Bones (Feiwel & Friends/Macmillan, April 2020) is a murder mystery set in Joseon Dynasty Korea (early 1800s), and also a coming-of-age tale about a girl searching for home. It was recently selected the American Booksellers Association as one of the top debuts of Winter/Spring 2020.

Maragarita Montimore

After receiving a BFA in Creative Writing from Emerson College, Margarita Montimore worked for over a decade in publishing and social media before deciding to focus on the writing dream full-time. She’s blogged for Marvel, Google, Quirk Books, and XOJane.com. When not writing, she freelances as a book coach and editor. Born in Soviet Ukraine and raised in Brooklyn, she currently lives in New Jersey with her husband and dog.

Margarita writes upmarket fiction that tends to be left of center and flirt with multiple genres. She loves all things dark, strange, and surreal, but is also optimistic—verging on quixotic—and a pop culture geek, so her work tends to incorporate all those elements to varying degrees.

In 2018, she self-published Asleep from Day. Her proper debut, Oona Out of Order is forthcoming from Flatiron Books on February 25, 2020.

Rex Ogle

Rex Ogle began his editorial career at DC Comics, working on flagship titles like Justice LeagueTeen Titans, and Superman/Batman. From there, he moved to Scholastic where he helmed New York Times bestselling series like Star Wars: Jedi Academy and Study Hall of Justice, and later, Little Brown for Young Readers, where he developed titles such as the Classroom 13 series and Neil Patrick Harris’s Magic Misfits. Rex Ogle has more than 100 published titles in the children’s space under various pen names, but is most proud of the ones he writes under his own name. Free Lunch is the story of Rex Ogle’s first semester in sixth grade when he was on his school’s free lunch program. Grounded in the immediacy of physical hunger and the humiliation of having to announce it every day in the school lunch line, Rex’s is a compelling story of a more profound hunger–that of a child for his parents’ love and care.

Leah Johnson

Leah Johnson was born and raised in Indianapolis, Indiana—a tried and true, lifelong Hoosier (and as you can perhaps imagine, much of her work now features more cornfields and soybeans than any one human has business writing about). She began her writing career with a spiral notebook full of short stories in Mrs. Peacock’s fifth-grade class and could never quite bring herself to stop.

She went on to major in Journalism and African American Studies at Indiana University and while there; worked as a reporter covering race and class for an NPR affiliate, as an audio initiatives intern at the Wall Street Journal, and won a Roy W. Howard National Collegiate Reporting Competition Fellowship, which took her to Japan to study international reporting. Eventually, Leah shifted her storytelling vehicle to fiction (and the occasional personal essay) and pursued her MFA in writing at Sarah Lawrence College. 

This summer, Leah will be a visiting writer at New England College and is currently a staff contributing editor at Catapult. When she’s not writing or ranting about pop culture and politics on Twitter, Leah teaches creative writing and composition to undergraduate students in and around New York City. Her YA novels You Should See Me in a Crown(June 2020) and Rise to the Sun (2021) are forthcoming from Scholastic.

Jennifer Moffett

Jennifer Moffett has published short stories, poems, essays, travel articles, and reviews in various magazines and literary journals. Her debut YA novel, Those Who Prey, will be published by Atheneum, Simon & Schuster on November 10, 2020.

An Arkansas native, Jennifer spent her childhood playing in creeks and climbing trees while dreaming up outlandish stories and occasionally writing them down. After working in the children’s television industry in New York City, she completed her master’s degree in Creative Writing at The University of Mississippi. She started publishing her work as a journalist and books editor, writing numerous book reviews and author profiles for regional publications. 

Her fiction and poetry have appeared in the New Orleans ReviewHartskill ReviewRevolution House, Sundress Publications’ book Not Somewhere Else But Here: A Contemporary Anthology of Women and Place, as well as in other publications. She is the recipient of The Gary Wilson Short Fiction Award for a story published in the literary journal descant, where she is an associate editor.

She teaches creative writing at a community college on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, where she enjoys kayaking, gardening, reading outdoors, and planning trips to new places (preferably with great local yarn shops and bookstores).

Chelsea Ichaso

Chelsea Ichaso writes twisty thrillers for young adults, including LITTLE CREEPING THINGS (Sourcebooks Fire, 2020). A former high school English teacher, she currently resides in southern California with her husband and children. When she’s not reading or writing, Chelsea can be found on the soccer field.

Jennifer Gruenke

She’s a graduate of UC Santa Barbara, where she studied communication and writing. She grew up among the redwoods of Northern California, and now lives in Charlotte with her books and the houseplants she hasn’t killed yet. If she is not writing or reading, you’re most likely to find her in a cafe, music venue, or the aisles of Trader Joe’s. Of Silver and Shadow is her debut novel.

Candice Marley Conner

Candice Marley Conner lives with her husband, two children—Mermaid Girl and Dinosaur Boy—and two tiny-but-ferocious tiger-cats at the bottom of Alabama where the antebellum lady rests her feet in the Gulf of Mexico. Her debut picture book, Sassafras and Her Teeny Tiny Tail, releases with MacLaren-Cochrane Publishing in 2019.

A book nerd at a haunted indie bookstore and a Local Liaison for SCBWI, her work is found in Babybug Magazine, collections such asPieces: Mardi Gras, A Mobile Writers’ Guild AnthologyFireflies & Fairy Dust: A Fantasy AnthologyChicken Soup for the Soul, and online at Mothers Always WriteMamalode, and The Good Mother Project.

S. A. Patel

S.A. Patel was born in vibrant India and raised in the heart of Texas, surrounded by a lot of delicious food and plenty of diversity. She draws on personal experiences, cultural expectations, and southern flair to create worlds that center around strong Indian women. Once in MMA, she’s now all about puppies and rainbows and tortured love stories.

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YALLSTAYHOME

YALLWEST 2020 REBRANDED AS YALLSTAYHOME: OVER 70
BESTSELLING & AWARD-WINNING AUTHORS CREATE A VIRTUAL BOOK FESTIVAL

YOUR TOWN, YOUR STATE: YALLWEST returns for its sixth year with more than 70 authors presenting on April 25-26, 2020. The annual gathering typically draws over 20,000 readers to Santa Monica High School, but this year’s event will be entirely virtual. The biggest teen and middle grade book festival in the country is going worldwide (web). Rebranded as YALLSTAYHOME, this free event will feature a weekend of online panel discussions, giveaways, games and more. Special events will surround the festival, with promotions across social media platforms. Additionally, the festival is connecting participating authors with twenty underserved Los Angeles schools for virtual visits via Zoom and providing e-books to their students. Festival founders and #1 New York Times Bestselling authors Margaret Stohl (Beautiful Creatures) and Melissa de la Cruz (The Queen’s Assassin) open the event at 10:00 AM (PDT) by discussing their decade-long collaboration culminating in their upcoming novel, Jo & Laurie. Starsight and Mistborn series author Brandon Sanderson will lead the afternoon keynote at 4:00 PM (PDT).

Saturday closes as Angie Thomas, author of the #1 New York Times bestselling blockbusters On the Come Up and The Hate U Give, host the annual YALLWEST SMACKDOWN variety show with Nic Stone (Dear Martin). Pseudonymous Bosch and Shane Pangburn host a Middle Grade Storyball on Sunday at 10:00 AM (PDT). The entire YALLSTAYHOME experience will end with a star-studded lineup of authors reading their earliest writing on Sunday, April 26th at 5:00 PM (PDT).

Additional YALLSTAYHOME attending authors include Cassandra Clare, Rainbow Rowell,
Karen McManus, Maureen Johnson, Ransom Riggs, Victoria Aveyard, Marie Lu, Roshani Chokshi, Mariko Tamaki and many others (see next page for full line-up). Multiple bestselling authors will appear on the virtual stage for the festival’s Saturday opening and
closing events.

Full event schedule and panel registration can be found at yallwest.com/schedule.

2020 FESTIVAL LINEUP YALLSTAYHOME • April 25-26, 2020

Renée Ahdieh
Melissa Albert
Becky Albertalli
Elise Allen
Janella Angeles
Victoria Aveyard
Gwenda Bond
Pseudonymous Bosch
Alexandra Bracken
Julie Buxbaum
Cecil Castellucci
Traci Chee
Soman Chainani
Roshani Chokshi
Dhonielle Clayton
Ally Condie
Mintie Das
Charlotte Nicole Davis
Melissa de la Cruz
Jennifer De Leon
Natasha Díaz
Hafsah Faizal
Jennifer Donnelly
Simone Elkeles
Sarah Enni
Francesca Flores
Romina Garber
Stephanie Garber
Kami Garcia
Stuart Gibbs
Holly Goldberg Sloan
Adalyn Grace
Shannon Hale
Frances Hardinge
Carlos Hernandez
Isabel Ibañez
Jordan Ifueko
George M Johnson
Leah Johnson
Maureen Johnson
Mike Johnston
Marisa Kanter
Amie Kaufman
Bill Konigsberg
Jay Kristoff
Victoria Lee
David Levithan
Alex London
Marie Lu
Tahereh Mafi
Sam Maggs
Karen M. McManus
Tehlor Kay Mejia
Shannon Messenger
Samuel Miller
Bethany C. Morrow
Sarah Mlynowski
Lauren Myracle
Danielle Paige
Shane Pangburn
Lewis Peterson
Rory Power
Brendan Reichs
Ransom Riggs
Lilliam Rivera
Margaret Rogerson
Zan Romanoff
Rainbow Rowell
Brandon Sanderson
Adam Silvera
Rachel Lynn Solomon
Tara Sim
Margaret Stohl
Nic Stone
Mariko Tamaki
Angie Thomas
Maggie Tokuda-Hall
Sarah Watson
David Yoon
F.C. Yee
Abigail Hing Wen
Tracy Wolff
Nicola Yoon

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The Vinyl Underground

Dig it.

During the tumultuous year of 1968, four teens are drawn together: Ronnie Bingham, who is grieving his brother’s death in Vietnam; Milo, Ronnie’s bookish best friend; “Ramrod,” a star athlete who is secretly avoiding the draft; and Hana, the new girl, a half-Japanese badass rock-n-roller whose presence doesn’t sit well with their segregated high school.

The four outcasts find sanctuary in “The Vinyl Underground,” a record club where they spin music, joke, debate, and escape the stifling norms of their small southern town. But Ronnie’s eighteenth birthday is looming. Together, they hatch a plan to keep Ronnie from being drafted. But when a horrific act of racial-charged violence rocks the gang to their core, they decide it’s time for an epic act of rebellion.

The Vinyl Underground, Rob Rufus
March 3rd, 2020

This story is one of four parts, or sides rather. The Vinyl Underground is broken into four sides like a traditional double LP. Side A introduces the four teens and the foundation of their club The Vinyl Underground, Side B is the club’s plan to get Ronnie out of the draft and the execution of it, Side C is the awful hate crime against one of them, and Side D is the completely outrageous, wholesomely awesome, fantastically incredible, and wonderfully badass act of rock-n-roll rebellion. Reading this book to completion was like discovering a concept album that changes the way you hear music.

Now, sure, I have been guilty of shoving favorite records at friends, or monopolizing the AUX cord to blast albums I insist everyone needs to listen to, and I like to think my playlists are utter perfection. That being said, reading this book to completion is one of those experiences that make you want to reread it. The use of repetition throughout the book of certain phrases reminds me a lot of concept albums that tell complex stories. Likewise, every chapter and section of this book has some of the most rockstar lines I’ve ever read in a book. Sure, do people really talk like that? No, but the effect created by Ronnie, Milo, Ramrod, and Hana having constant zingers of lines at each other, or even better when targeted at the world, makes them seem like the coolest kids you could ever hangout with.

I have to be honest, Side A and Side B do a real disservice to the build of the story. I think it is because the back novel makes it sounds like the “horrific act of racial-charged violence” sound like it’s the catalyst for the novel. Or that when Hana is first assaulted by the racist bullies, that it is the considered horrific. I’m in no way saying that when the racist bullies assault Hana that it isn’t “that bad” or, God forbid, okay. That being said, as a reader, because of how stories normally flow, it does fall right about at where a normal story’s catalyst happens; the call to action if you will. Because of the placement, it makes the novel feel almost like two books combined.

The Vinyl Underground is organized like a double LP. Meaning, an album that comes on two different records. Side A and Side B feel like one book. Side C and Side D feel like another. But it’s all one book. The story of these four’s senior year is unmistakably one unforgettable story. I especially believe that this novel would be excellent to use in a senior classroom when teaching about the Vietnam War. Since this book is set in 1968, it does an excellent job of capturing that time period and what it was like to be a young person then.

Unfortunately, too many of the issues being discussed and the incredibly hateful beliefs held by the antagonists of this story are still real today. The Vinyl Underground shows that these issues can be overcome and fought against. Young people deserve to know that their voices matter and the possible acts they can take to rebel against a government they do not approve of. Sure, being young can feel like you have no power and I am not necessarily saying “the completely outrageous, wholesomely awesome, fantastically incredible, and wonderfully badass act of rock-n-roll rebellion” is something that every kid should do. But, I do want it to be clear that acts of civil disobedience or protests can absolutely be effective when done by young people and young adults. This book shows more than just what life was like for teenagers in 1968; it shows how young people can change the world.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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Just Some Awesome Bookish Things To Put A Smile On Your Face

Maybe you knew, but maybe you didn’t–WE HAVE A STORE! Queue us crying for you to make a purchase. We have all sort of book nerd goodies: stickers, totes, tee shirts, hooooooodies. All great things! If you need more convincing, here’s a totally awesome list!

Not sure where to start, you can always grab one of our logo shirts. A cute owl, a cute cat, a cute fox, and all of them on books. (And you’re looking at this blog so we know you love books).


I mean, we’re all just here for the books. Why else would you leave the house?

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Like, duh? Books. Are. Life. End of statement.

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Read books fast, drink coffee slow.

BUY IT HERE

And if tea’s not your thaaaang you can also get it with coffee!

BUY “BOOKS, TEA, MUSIC, & NAPS”

BUY “BOOKS, COFFEE, MUSIC, & NAPS”

By the time we’re allowed to go back out, you’re going to need new books on your TBR. So get a bag to put them in. (Or get it on a tee-shirt)

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S4 E6: An Interview with Claire Swinarski

This embed shows the latest episode of Booked All Night. Please visit us on Anchor.fm and subscribe wherever you get your podcast fix.

We’re joined by Claire Swinarski, author of the upcoming middle-grade novel WHAT HAPPENS NEXT, which comes out on May 19th (no push backs here according to her editor). We discuss her work, just how many lakes Wisconsin and Minnesota have, and Claire’s disturbing lack of authored fanfiction.

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT
pub date: May 19th, 2020

In this heartfelt and accessible middle grade novel perfect for fans of The Thing About Jellyfish, a young girl throws herself into solving a local mystery to keep from missing her older sister, who has been sent to an eating disorder treatment facility. Astronomy-obsessed Abby McCourt should be thrilled about the solar eclipse her small town of Moose Junction is about to witness, but she’s not. After her older sister Blair was sent away for an eating disorder, Abby has been in a funk. Desperate to dull the pain her sister’s absence has left, she teams up with a visiting astronomer to help track down his long-lost telescope. Though this is supposed to take Abby’s mind off the distance between her and Blair, what she finds may bring her closer to her sister than she ever thought possible.

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15 Recommendations for Reading in Quarantine

Book Nerds are no strangers to self-isolation. We’ve been preparing for this our whole lives! Don’t go out. Don’t be around people. No touching, no sharing, no crowds. We’ve got this. And our books have got this too, to be honest. Just look at all these titles (new and old) that feature their own reasons for a quarantine.

BOOKED ALL NIGHT URGES YOU TO STAY HOME WHEN POSSIBLE! WASH YOUR HANDS! AVOID TOUCHING YOUR FACE! AND CONTINUE SOCIAL DISTANCING!

Bumped by Megan McCafferty

When a virus makes everyone over the age of eighteen infertile, would-be parents pay teen girls to conceive and give birth to their children, making teens the most prized members of society. Girls sport fake baby bumps and the school cafeteria stocks folic-acid-infused food.

Sixteen-year-old identical twins Melody and Harmony were separated at birth and have never met until the day Harmony shows up on Melody’s doorstep. Up to now, the twins have followed completely opposite paths. Melody has scored an enviable conception contract with a couple called the Jaydens. While they are searching for the perfect partner for Melody to bump with, she is fighting her attraction to her best friend, Zen, who is way too short for the job.

Harmony has spent her whole life in Goodside, a religious community, preparing to be a wife and mother. She believes her calling is to convince Melody that pregging for profit is a sin. But Harmony has secrets of her own that she is running from.

When Melody is finally matched with the world-famous, genetically flawless Jondoe, both girls’ lives are changed forever. A case of mistaken identity takes them on a journey neither could have ever imagined, one that makes Melody and Harmony realize they have so much more than just DNA in common.

Divergent by Veronica Roth

In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can’t have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them all, Tris must determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes exasperating boy fits into the life she’s chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she’s kept hidden from everyone because she’s been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers unrest and growing conflict that threaten to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her. 

Hungry by H. A. Swain

In the future, food is no longer necessary—until Thalia begins to feel something unfamiliar and uncomfortable. She’s hungry.

In Thalia’s world, there is no need for food—everyone takes medication (or “inocs”) to ward off hunger. It should mean there is no more famine, no more obesity, no more food-related illnesses, and no more war. At least that’s what her parents, who work for the company that developed the inocs, say. But when Thalia meets a boy who is part of an underground movement to bring food back, she realizes that most people live a life much different from hers. Worse, Thalia is starting to feel hunger, and so is he—the inocs aren’t working. Together they set out to find the only thing that will quell their hunger: real food.

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the worst thing she’d ever been through. That was before her planet was invaded. Now, with enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra are forced to fight their way onto one of the evacuating craft, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.
But the warship could be the least of their problems. 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 biggest threat; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady plunges into a web of data hacking to get to the truth, it’s clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: Ezra.
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.

Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Moving to a space station at the edge of the galaxy was always going to be the death of Hanna’s social life. Nobody said it might actually get her killed.

The sci-fi saga that began with the breakout bestseller Illuminae continues on board the Jump Station Heimdall, where two new characters will confront the next wave of the BeiTech assault.

Hanna is the station captain’s pampered daughter; Nik the reluctant member of a notorious crime family. But while the pair are struggling with the realities of life aboard the galaxy’s most boring space station, little do they know that Kady Grant and the Hypatia are headed right toward Heimdall, carrying news of the Kerenza invasion.

When an elite BeiTech strike team invades the station, Hanna and Nik are thrown together to defend their home. But alien predators are picking off the station residents one by one, and a malfunction in the station’s wormhole means the space-time continuum might be ripped in two before dinner. Soon Hanna and Nik aren’t just fighting for their own survival; the fate of everyone on the Hypatia—and possibly the known universe—is in their hands.

But relax. They’ve totally got this. They hope.

Obsidio by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Kady, Ezra, Hanna, and Nik narrowly escaped with their lives from the attacks on Heimdall station and now find themselves crammed with 2,000 refugees on the container ship, Mao. With the jump station destroyed and their resources scarce, the only option is to return to Kerenza–but who knows what they’ll find seven months after the invasion? Meanwhile, Kady’s cousin, Asha, survived the initial BeiTech assault and has joined Kerenza’s ragtag underground resistance. When Rhys–an old flame from Asha’s past–reappears on Kerenza, the two find themselves on opposite sides of the conflict. With time running out, a final battle will be waged on land and in space, heros will fall, and hearts will be broken.

Love Is The Drug by Alaya Dawn Johnson

Emily Bird was raised not to ask questions. She has perfect hair, the perfect boyfriend, and a perfect Ivy-League future. But a chance meeting with Roosevelt David, a homeland security agent, at a party for Washington DC’s elite leads to Bird waking up in a hospital, days later, with no memory of the end of the night.

Meanwhile, the world has fallen apart: A deadly flu virus is sweeping the nation, forcing quarantines, curfews, even martial law. And Roosevelt is certain that Bird knows something. Something about the virus–something about her parents’ top secret scientific work–something she shouldn’t know.

The only one Bird can trust is Coffee, a quiet, outsider genius who deals drugs to their classmates and is a firm believer in conspiracy theories. And he believes in Bird. But as Bird and Coffee dig deeper into what really happened that night, Bird finds that she might know more than she remembers. And what she knows could unleash the biggest government scandal in US history.

Orleans by Sherri L. Smith

First came the storms.
Then came the Fever.
And the Wall.


After a string of devastating hurricanes and a severe outbreak of Delta Fever, the Gulf Coast has been quarantined. Years later, residents of the Outer States are under the assumption that life in the Delta is all but extinct… but in reality, a new primitive society has been born.

Fen de la Guerre is living with the O-Positive blood tribe in the Delta when they are ambushed. Left with her tribe leader’s newborn, Fen is determined to get the baby to a better life over the wall before her blood becomes tainted. Fen meets Daniel, a scientist from the Outer States who has snuck into the Delta illegally. Brought together by chance, kept together by danger, Fen and Daniel navigate the wasteland of Orleans. In the end, they are each other’s last hope for survival.

Sherri L. Smith delivers an expertly crafted story about a fierce heroine whose powerful voice and firm determination will stay with you long after you’ve turned the last page. 

The 100 by Kass Morgan

No one has set foot on Earth in centuries—until now.

Ever since a devastating nuclear war, humanity has lived on spaceships far above Earth’s radioactive surface. Now, one hundred juvenile delinquents—considered expendable by society—are being sent on a dangerous mission: to recolonize the planet. It could be their second chance at life…or it could be a suicide mission.

CLARKE was arrested for treason, though she’s haunted by the memory of what she really did. WELLS, the chancellor’s son, came to Earth for the girl he loves—but will she ever forgive him? Reckless BELLAMY fought his way onto the transport pod to protect his sister, the other half of the only pair of siblings in the universe. And GLASS managed to escape back onto the ship, only to find that life there is just as dangerous as she feared it would be on Earth.

Confronted with a savage land and haunted by secrets from their pasts, the hundred must fight to survive. They were never meant to be heroes, but they may be mankind’s last hope.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. Long ago the districts waged war on the Capitol and were defeated. As part of the surrender terms, each district agreed to send one boy and one girl to appear in an annual televised event called, “The Hunger Games,” a fight to the death on live TV. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she is forced to represent her district in the Games. The terrain, rules, and level of audience participation may change but one thing is constant: kill or be killed.

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. . . .

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

With high-stakes action and a smart, resourceful heroine, Cinder is a Cinderella retelling that is at once classic and strikingly original.

The Rain by Virginia Bergin

It’s in the rain…and just one drop will kill you.

They don’t believe it at first. Crowded in Zach’s kitchen, Ruby and the rest of the partygoers laugh at Zach’s parents’ frenzied push to get them all inside as it starts to drizzle. But then the radio comes on with the warning, “It’s in the rain! It’s fatal, it’s contagious, and there’s no cure.”

Two weeks later, Ruby is alone. Anyone who’s been touched by rain or washed their hands with tap water is dead. The only drinkable water is quickly running out. Ruby’s only chance for survival is a treacherous hike across the country to find her father-if he’s even still alive.

The Maze Runner by James Dashner

If you ain’t scared, you ain’t human.

When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his name. He’s surrounded by strangers—boys whose memories are also gone.

Nice to meet ya, shank. Welcome to the Glade.

Outside the towering stone walls that surround the Glade is a limitless, ever-changing maze. It’s the only way out—and no one’s ever made it through alive.

Everything is going to change.

Then a girl arrives. The first girl ever. And the message she delivers is terrifying.

Remember. Survive. Run.

The Kill Order by James Dashner

Before WICKED was formed, before the Glade was built, before Thomas entered the Maze, sun flares hit the earth and mankind fell to disease.

Mark and Trina were there when it happened, and they survived. But surviving the sun flares was easy compared to what came next. Now a disease of rage and lunacy races across the eastern United States, and there’s something suspicious about its origin. Worse yet, it’s mutating, and all evidence suggests that it will bring humanity to its knees.

Mark and Trina are convinced there’s a way to save those left living from descending into madness. And they’re determined to find it—if they can stay alive. Because in this new, devastated world, every life has a price. And to some, you’re worth more dead than alive. 

Wilder Girls by Rory Power

It’s been eighteen months since the Raxter School for Girls was put under quarantine. Since the Tox hit and pulled Hetty’s life out from under her.

It started slow. First the teachers died one by one. Then it began to infect the students, turning their bodies strange and foreign. Now, cut off from the rest of the world and left to fend for themselves on their island home, the girls don’t dare wander outside the school’s fence, where the Tox has made the woods wild and dangerous. They wait for the cure they were promised as the Tox seeps into everything.

But when Byatt goes missing, Hetty will do anything to find her, even if it means breaking quarantine and braving the horrors that lie beyond the fence. And when she does, Hetty learns that there’s more to their story, to their life at Raxter, than she could have ever thought true. 

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When We Were Magic

A moving, darkly funny novel about six teens whose magic goes wildly awry from Magic for Liars author Sarah Gailey, who Chuck Wendig calls an “author to watch.”

Keeping your magic a secret is hard. Being in love with your best friend is harder.

Alexis has always been able to rely on two things: her best friends, and the magic powers they all share. Their secret is what brought them together, and their love for each other is unshakeable—even when that love is complicated. Complicated by problems like jealousy, or insecurity, or lust. Or love.

That unshakeable, complicated love is one of the only things that doesn’t change on prom night.

When accidental magic goes sideways and a boy winds up dead, Alexis and her friends come together to try to right a terrible wrong. Their first attempt fails—and their second attempt fails even harder. Left with the remains of their failed spells and more consequences than anyone could have predicted, each of them must find a way to live with their part of the story.

When We Were Magic, Sarah Gailey
March 3, 2020

Well, this book certain started off with a bang.

Well, near bang.

Well, a boy’s genitals were exploded by accident.

So… technically?

This book had a lot of things I loved (not the genital explosion. Should I stop saying genitals? I’m going to.) like queer teens, teen witches, wild and unknown magic, the best ride or die squad you could ever hope to see. There’s a death and Alexis and her BFFs have to race to hide the body parts before the town and the police figure out what happened.

It’s got all the things I loved, but I didn’t really love it enough. We’re introduced to SIX people right off the bat (not including Dead Boy) and we’re expected to remember each and every one of them and their particular magic. It got real confusing, real fast. If we were slowly introduced to them instead of all at once, I may have been able to better understand them all. But as it stands, I can’t even tell you all their names right now because they all just get jumbled in my head.

I also feel like we don’t really spend that much time understanding the world and the tension Gailey is attempting to nurture. Why are these girls magic? Where did that magic come from? Who else is magic? What does it mean when the cop who gets assigned to the high school to question everyone keeps lingering her eyes on Alexis? We don’t really get answers to a lot of stuff and it’s frustrating.

It tends to feel like we end up getting snippets and vignettes of the characters burying each body part before it all comes to a convenient close.

BUT. There are loads of great things, as always. Gailey is a master of queer rep and Alexis has two dads, at least three of the girls are openly queer, one is heavily suggested to be nonbinary/genderfluid (it’s never stated explicitly on the page, but the characters do have a conversation about them wanting to move to the Big City and cut their hair and go by different pronouns). Alexis ends up coming out to her friends as bi (Heck. Yeah. On screen bisexuality) and there’s so much queer rep my cup overfloweth and thank you Sarah Gailey, you’re the Reagent of Queer in my life, bless you.

I loved the squad’s connection, how they used their magic in little ways, how each time they buried a body part, they lost something vital to themselves. It was heavy and I loved it. Their friendships were stellar and really the greatest part of this book.

All in all, a good book, a great tale of friendship and queerness, but left me wanting for more. I feel like that’s a usual thing for me and Gailey’s books–I just want so much more, I want to bury myself in 600 pages of their writing.

My Rating:

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

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April First Impressions

Stay inside. Order books. Watch your author visits get canceled. Cry. Rage. Tea. We get it. These are trying times. But it’s a new month, one that hopefully brings us closer to lifted quarantines. Without much further ado, let’s jump into some first impressions.

BOOKED ALL NIGHT URGES YOU TO STAY HOME WHEN POSSIBLE! WASH YOUR HANDS! AVOID TOUCHING YOUR FACE! AND CONTINUE SOCIAL DISTANCING!

The Best Week That Never Happened by Dallas Woodburn

Pub: April 21, 2020

What if, when you died, you got to relive The Best Week of Your Life—but you died too soon, and The Best Week of Your Life hadn’t happened yet?

After her parents’ bitter divorce, family vacations to the Big Island in Hawaii ceased. But across the miles, eighteen-year-old Tegan Rossi remains connected to local Kai Kapule, her best friend from childhood. Now, Tegan finds herself alone and confused about how she got to the Big Island. With no wallet, no cell phone, purse, or plane ticket, Tegan struggles to piece together what happened. She must have come to surprise-visit Kai. Right? As the teens grow even closer, Tegan pushes aside her worries and gets swept away in the vacation of her dreams.

But each morning, Tegan startles awake from nightmares that become more difficult to ignore. Something is eerily amiss. Why is there a strange gap in her memory? Why can’t she reach her parents or friends from home? And what’s with the mysterious hourglass tattoo over her heart?

Kai promises to help Tegan figure out what is going on. But the answers they find only lead to more questions. As the week unfolds, Tegan will experience the magic of first love, the hope of second chances, and the bittersweet joy and grief of being human. 


Thoughts

I love the “woke up and have no idea what’s going on,” trope. I’m most intrigued to see how the relationships pan out. It sounds like there will be as much pain as there was when I read They Both Die at the End. So I think I will add this one to my TBR.


The Loop by Ben Oliver

Life inside The Loop-the futuristic death row for teens under eighteen-is one long repetitive purgatory. But when news of the encroaching chaos in the outside world reaches the inmates and disorder begins to strike, the prison becomes the least of their worries.

It’s Luka Kane’s sixteenth birthday and he’s been inside The Loop for over two years. Every inmate is serving a death sentence with the option to push back their execution date by six months if they opt into “Delays”, scientific and medical experiments for the benefit of the elite in the outside world. But rumors of a war on the outside are spreading amongst the inmates, and before they know it, their tortuous routine becomes disrupted. The government issued rain stops falling. Strange things are happening to the guards. And it’s not long until the inmates are left alone inside the prison.

Were the chains that shackled Luka to his cell the only instruments left to keep him safe? He must overcome fellow prisoners hell-bent on killing him, the warden losing her mind, the rabid rats in the train tunnels, and a population turned into murderous monsters to try and break out of The Loop, save his family, and discover who is responsible for the chaos that has been inflicted upon the world.


Thoughts

It sounds very Hunger Gamesy to me. And I loved The Hunger Games. Specifically the Delays sound like adding your name for extra meals and such. But believe me when I say I perked up at “experiments for the benefit of the elite.” I know, it’s tropey, but I love it. Okay? Love it. And did I see GOVERNMENT SANCTIONED RAIN!? Because that’s awesome. Excuse me. Mama needs to put this on her TBR.


Incendiary by Zoraida Cordova

I am Renata Convida.
I have lived a hundred stolen lives.
Now I live my own.

Renata Convida was only a child when she was kidnapped by the King’s Justice and brought to the luxurious palace of Andalucia. As a Robari, the rarest and most feared of the magical Moria, Renata’s ability to steal memories from royal enemies enabled the King’s Wrath, a siege that resulted in the deaths of thousands of her own people.

Now Renata is one of the Whispers, rebel spies working against the crown and helping the remaining Moria escape the kingdom bent on their destruction. The Whispers may have rescued Renata from the palace years ago, but she cannot escape their mistrust and hatred–or the overpowering memories of the hundreds of souls she turned “hollow” during her time in the palace.

When Dez, the commander of her unit, is taken captive by the notorious Sangrado Prince, Renata will do anything to save the boy whose love makes her place among the Whispers bearable. But a disastrous rescue attempt means Renata must return to the palace under cover and complete Dez’s top secret mission. Can Renata convince her former captors that she remains loyal, even as she burns for vengeance against the brutal, enigmatic prince? Her life and the fate of the Moria depend on it.

But returning to the palace stirs childhood memories long locked away. As Renata grows more deeply embedded in the politics of the royal court, she uncovers a secret in her past that could change the entire fate of the kingdom–and end the war that has cost her everything. 


Thoughts

I wonder how the stolen lives work. Like, will there be a bleeding effect that gets in the way of her normal every day life? I hope so.


Queen of Coin and Whispers by Helen Corcran

‘She loved me as I loved her, fierce as a bloodied blade.’

When teenage queen Lia inherits her corrupt uncle’s bankrupt kingdom, she brings a new spymaster into the fold … Xania, who takes the job to avenge her murdered father.

Faced with dangerous plots and hidden enemies, can Lia and Xania learn to rely on each another, as they discover that all is not fair in love and treason?

In a world where the throne means both power and duty, they must decide what to sacrifice for their country – and for each other … 


Thoughts

The back copy is… confusing? Teenage ruler. Got it. Corrupt uncle. Yep. Bankrupt kingdom. Uh huh. Who is Xania’s father exactly? Because if Xania is Lia’s cousin and she’s there to kill family then that’s a big draw for me! But everything else… sounds like books I’ve read before. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m a sucker for some cliches and tropes. But this just doesn’t feel original enough to stand without them.


So This Is Love by Elizabeth Lim

What if Cinderella never tried on the glass slipper? Unable to prove that she’s the missing princess, and unable to bear life under Lady Tremaine any longer, Cinderella attempts a fresh start, looking for work at the palace as a seamstress. But when the Grand Duke appoints her to serve under the king’s visiting sister, Cinderella becomes witness to a grand conspiracy to take the king-and the prince-out of power, as well as a longstanding prejudice against fairies, including Cinderella’s own Fairy Godmother. Faced with questions of love and loyalty to the kingdom, Cinderella must find a way to stop the villains of past and present . . . before it’s too late.


Thoughts

So the other Twisted Tales all start the same way as the movies, minus the opening Disney logo, of course. I do like the idea behind them: what if that one key point in the story doesn’t happen? I especially love dark re-tellings of the classics and I really want to know who the villains of the past and present are (other than Lady Tremaine and her ugly children). I think this one deserves a chance.


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The Shadows Between Us

Alessandra is tired of being overlooked, but she has a plan to gain power:

1) Woo the Shadow King.
2) Marry him.
3) Kill him and take his kingdom for herself.

No one knows the extent of the freshly crowned Shadow King’s power. Some say he can command the shadows that swirl around him to do his bidding. Others say they speak to him, whispering the thoughts of his enemies. Regardless, Alessandra knows what she deserves, and she’s going to do everything within her power to get it.

But Alessandra’s not the only one trying to kill the king. As attempts on his life are made, she finds herself trying to keep him alive long enough for him to make her his queen—all while struggling not to lose her heart. After all, who better for a Shadow King than a cunning, villainous queen?

The Shadows Between Us, Tricia Levenseller
February 25th, 2020

So I wasn’t quite sure if I’d like The Shadows Between Us when I first started it. It was slow going and I found it hard to connect to Alessandra and the other characters.

But I just couldn’t put it down and boy, am I glad I kept going.

A lot like Serpent & Dove, the beginning of The Shadows Between Us was slow. But the middle made me weak in the knees. I sold TSBU to Jess as Serpent & Dove meets The Selected, but if America was trying to kill Maxon the whole time.

The Shadow King’s magic makes it so that no one can get close to him. Alessandra has killed before, and she’s ready to do it again to gain the power she needs to take over the kingdom. She gains his favor; he wants a friend and needs a fiance to throw the council off his back.

Shenanigans: ensued.

They get closer over the course of the book, there’s some skinny dipping, some betrayal, scheming and assassination attempts. I think I have a weakness for idiots that don’t know they’re in love. Alessandra is the perfect Slytherin heroine who goes just a little soft when it comes to her Shadow King. The Shadow King is a hard-hearted man that goes soft for his little heathen.

My Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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S4 E5: The Vinyl Underground

This week we discuss The Vinyl Underground by Rob Rufus and Maggie’s strange phobia of all things quadrilateral. Also, Jess has a meltdown about the music and Dan spoils the third act.

Dig it. During the tumultuous year of 1968, four teens are drawn together: Ronnie Bingham, who is grieving his brother’s death in Vietnam; Milo, Ronnie’s bookish best friend; “Ramrod,” a star athlete who is secretly avoiding the draft; and Hana, the new girl, a half-Japanese badass rock-n-roller whose presence doesn’t sit well with their segregated high school. The four outcasts find sanctuary in “The Vinyl Underground,” a record club where they spin music, joke, debate, and escape the stifling norms of their small southern town. But Ronnie’s eighteenth birthday is looming. Together, they hatch a plan to keep Ronnie from being drafted. But when a horrific act of racial-charged violence rocks the gang to their core, they decide it’s time for an epic act of rebellion.

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