Giveaway: Blood And Salt by Kim Liggett

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It’s all about debut releases for friends lately in my world! And I am thrilled to help my friend Kim Liggett celebrate the release of her YA romantic horror (or hor-mance as she calls it!), Blood And Salt. I heard Kim read just the first paragraph at our Djerassi retreat more than two years ago and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. Luckily I was able to read an advanced copy and the whole thing is just as gorgeous and eerie as the beginning. But before we get to the giveaway entry, here’s a little about the book:

Romeo and Juliet meets Children of the Corn in this one-of-a-kind romantic horror.

“When you fall in love, you will carve out your heart and throw it into the deepest ocean. You will be all in—blood and salt.”

These are the last words Ash Larkin hears before her mother returns to the spiritual commune she escaped long ago. But when Ash follows her to Quivira, Kansas, something sinister and ancient waits among the rustling cornstalks of this village lost to time.

Ash is plagued by memories of her ancestor, Katia, which harken back to the town’s history of unrequited love and murder, alchemy and immortality. Charming traditions soon give way to a string of gruesome deaths, and Ash feels drawn to Dane, a forbidden boy with secrets of his own.

As the community prepares for a ceremony five hundred years in the making, Ash must fight not only to save her mother, but herself—and discover the truth about Quivira before it’s too late. Before she’s all in—blood and salt.

This book, y’all. It’s so deliciously creepy and swoony. Now, go enter the Rafflecopter giveaway!

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Giveaway: The Weight of Feathers by Anna-Marie McLemore

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I’ve got another giveaway for you, this time from my amazingly talented friend and editor-sister Anna-Marie McLemore. I’m giving away a signed copy of THE WEIGHT OF FEATHERS (which comes out on Sept. 15!) and a fun mermaid necklace. This book is a stunning YA magical realism novel that has rightfully taken its place as one of my favorite books of the year. Before we get to the giveaway entry, here’s a little about the book:

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

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

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

I promise you that you NEED this book in your life. Now, go enter the Rafflecopter giveaway!

Giveaway: Come Away With Me by Karma Brown

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I am beyond excited that my uber-talented friend and Pitch Wars mentor Karma Brown’s debut women’s fiction book COME AWAY WITH ME releases in just a few weeks (Aug 25 to be exact). I was lucky enough to read the book early and, y’all, this book made me sob in all the right ways. To celebrate, I’m hosting a giveaway of the book (with a signed bookplate) and a handmade travel journal. But before we get to the giveaway entry, here’s a little about the book:

One minute, Tegan Lawson has everything she could hope for: an adoring husband, Gabe, and a baby on the way. The next, a patch of black ice causes a devastating accident that will change her life in ways she never could have imagined.

Tegan is consumed by grief, not to mention her anger toward Gabe, who was driving on the night of the crash. But just when she thinks she’s hit rock bottom, Gabe reminds her of their Jar of Spontaneity, a collection of their dream destinations and experiences, and so begins an adventure of a lifetime.

From the bustling markets of Thailand to the flavors of Italy to the ocean waves in Hawaii, Tegan and Gabe embark on a journey to escape the tragedy and search for forgiveness. But they soon learn that grief follows you no matter how far away you run, and that acceptance comes when you least expect it.

Heartbreaking, hopeful and utterly transporting, Come Away with Me is an unforgettable debut and a luminous celebration of the strength of the human spirit.

See how fantastic that sounds? Now, go enter the Rafflecopter giveaway!

Reading Rewind: Belzhar and Nightbird

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This week I’ve been binge-watching Haven on Netflix (such a great, Fringe-type show), but I also managed to get in two books…

Belzhar

Goodreads Summary:

If life were fair, Jam Gallahue would still be  at home in New Jersey with her sweet British  boyfriend, Reeve Maxfield. She’d be watching  old comedy sketches with him. She’d be kissing  him in the library stacks.

She certainly wouldn’t be at The Wooden Barn, a therapeutic boarding school in rural Vermont, living with a weird roommate, and signed up for an exclusive, mysterious class called Special Topics in English.

But life isn’t fair, and Reeve Maxfield is dead.

Until a journal-writing assignment leads Jam to Belzhar, where the untainted past is restored, and Jam can feel Reeve’s arms around her once again. But there are hidden truths on Jam’s path to reclaim her loss.

From New York Times bestselling author Meg Wolitzer comes a breathtaking and surprising story about first love, deep sorrow, and the power of acceptance.

My Thoughts:

Belzhar is very cool and trippy book. Both the voice and writing are is strong and the premise of a magical/imaginary world based on a book is such a brilliant idea. It took me a little bit to get into the characters and really care about Jam and her breakdown. But the closer she grew to the other students in Special Topics English, the more I wanted them all to come to terms with their respective losses and find a way to be okay again. And then when I finally learned what happened to Jam, I thought it was a very smart plot choice. I enjoyed it, but didn’t love it like I thought I might.

Nightbird

Goodreads Summary:

In her first novel for middle-grade readers , bestselling author Alice Hoffman tells a bewitching story of love and friendship that is truly magical.

Twig lives in Sidwell, where people whisper that fairy tales are real. After all, her town is rumored to hide a monster. And two hundred years ago, a witch placed a curse on Twig’s family that was meant to last forever. But this summer, everything will change when the red moon rises. It’s time to break the spell.

My Thoughts:

Nightbird is magical, sweet read about the power of friendship and the unconditional love of family. Twig is a loner, but not by choice. Her desperation for friendship and a normal life in general is such a universal theme, but the magical curse on her family gives it a fun new twist. The friendship between Twig and Julia was delightful, and the other side characters added a quirkiness to the overall mystery of the town and the curse. I loved how all the sub plots tied together and gave the story such emotional depth. I will be buying this for my niece when it publishes in March.

*I received and ARC from Random House Children’s/Wendy Lamb Books and NetGalley for an honest review.

Reading Rewind: Come Away With Me

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This week I got to read an ARC by my fabulous Pitch Wars mentor, Karma Brown. Her debut novel, COME AWAY WITH ME, comes out in August, and I’m really sorry y’all have to wait that long to read it. It’s so damn good. Even when it rips your heart out and makes you sob.

Goodreads Summary:

One minute, Tegan Lawson has everything she could hope for: an adoring husband, Gabe, and a baby on the way. The next, a patch of black ice causes a devastating accident that will change her life in ways she never could have imagined.

Tegan is consumed by grief, not to mention her anger toward Gabe, who was driving on the night of the crash. But just when she thinks she’s hit rock bottom, Gabe reminds her of their Jar of Spontaneity, a collection of their dream destinations and experiences, and so begins an adventure of a lifetime.

From the bustling markets of Thailand to the flavors of Italy to the ocean waves in Hawaii, Tegan and Gabe embark on a journey to escape the tragedy and search for forgiveness. But they soon learn that grief follows you no matter how far away you run, and that acceptance comes when you least expect it.

Heartbreaking, hopeful and utterly transporting, Come Away with Me is an unforgettable debut and a luminous celebration of the strength of the human spirit.

My Thoughts:

Come Away With Me is a beautifully written, heart-wrenching story of love and loss and being brave enough to face what life throws at you. I worried at the beginning of this book that I wouldn’t connect with Tegan and her grief over losing her baby (full disclosure, I do not have a single mothering bone in my body so while I felt awful for her, it didn’t get me the way it will most women). But then her journey—both emotional and physical—began, and I was so caught up in it that it swept me right along with her to experience the painting elephants and fried crickets in Thailand, the gorgeous views and decadent pasta (and wine!) in Italy, and the rolling swells of Hawaiian waves. Everything in this book is vibrant, from the people Tegan meets in each country to her love story with Gabe—and her heartbreaking fighting with Gabe over the accident—to her depression that is so all-consuming at times that it feels like it’s happening to the reader too. And the story is so delicately woven together that when you’re done you want to go back and reread it in a whole new light.

*I received an ARC from Mira/Harlequin and NetGalley for an honest review.

Reading Rewind: Mr. Kiss and Tell

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This week I’ve been revising one of my manuscripts, but I took a break to read the newest Veronica Mars book, because LoVe.

KissTell

Goodreads Summary:

In the second book in the New York Times bestselling mystery series, Veronica Mars is back with a case that will expose the hidden workings of one of Neptune’s most murderous locations.

The Neptune Grand has always been the seaside town’s ritziest hotel, despite the shady dealings and high-profile scandals that seem to follow its elite guests. When a woman claims that she was brutally assaulted in one of its rooms and left for dead by a staff member, the owners know that they have a potential powder keg on their hands. They turn to Veronica to disprove—or prove—the woman’s story.

The case is a complicated mix of hard facts, mysterious occurrences, and uncooperative witnesses. The hotel refuses to turn over its reservation list and the victim won’t divulge who she was meeting that night. Add in the facts that the attack happened months ago, the victim’s memory is fuzzy, and there are holes in the hotel’s surveillance system, and Veronica has a convoluted mess on her hands. As she works to fill in the missing pieces, it becomes clear that someone is lying—but who? And why?

My Thoughts:

Mr. Kiss and Tell is a fun mystery wrapped up in the wonderful world of Veronica Mars. The story has the same tenacity and snark and relationship drama of the TV show, which is exactly what I want from these books. I know these characters so well, it’s like watching them in my head with the actors’ faces and voices playing out each scene. It seems like the writers tried a little too hard in places to use characters/familiar names from the series and bring up events from the show as a nod to the fans, which wasn’t necessary (at least for me!). As long as I’m getting my core characters, I don’t need all the extra stuff to keep me around. As long as they keep writing these books, I will keep reading.

Reading Rewind: First Frost and Alice in Wonderland High

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This week brought a new book by my favorite author, Sarah Addison Allen. I’ve been waiting for this book for a year when she first mentioned working on it at a reading for Lost Lake (well, to be honest, since I read Garden Spells and fell in love with the Waverleys), and everything got put on hold so I could devour it. I also got to read an ARC for an upcoming debut for one of my Twitter friends.

Frost

Goodreads Summary:

From the New York Times bestselling author of Garden Spells comes a story of the Waverley family, in a novel as sparkling as the first dusting of frost on new-fallen leaves…

It’s October in Bascom, North Carolina, and autumn will not go quietly. As temperatures drop and leaves begin to turn, the Waverley women are made restless by the whims of their mischievous apple tree… and all the magic that swirls around it. But this year, first frost has much more in store.

Claire Waverley has started a successful new venture, Waverley’s Candies. Though her handcrafted confections—rose to recall lost love, lavender to promote happiness and lemon verbena to soothe throats and minds—are singularly effective, the business of selling them is costing her the everyday joys of her family, and her belief in her own precious gifts.

Sydney Waverley, too, is losing her balance. With each passing day she longs more for a baby— a namesake for her wonderful Henry. Yet the longer she tries, the more her desire becomes an unquenchable thirst, stealing the pleasure out of the life she already has.

Sydney’s daughter, Bay, has lost her heart to the boy she knows it belongs to…if only he could see it, too. But how can he, when he is so far outside her grasp that he appears to her as little more than a puff of smoke?

When a mysterious stranger shows up and challenges the very heart of their family, each of them must make choices they have never confronted before. And through it all, the Waverley sisters must search for a way to hold their family together through their troublesome season of change, waiting for that extraordinary event that is First Frost.

Lose yourself in Sarah Addison Allen’s enchanting world and fall for her charmed characters in this captivating story that proves that a happily-ever-after is never the real ending to a story. It’s where the real story begins.

My Thoughts:

First Frost is utterly delicious. And charming. And absolute perfection. Taking me back to characters I first fell in love with in Garden Spells, this story weaves together the heartaches and hopes, deepest fears and desires for the Waverley sisters and daughters, revealing new facets of these ladies while still holding true to who the characters are deep down in their cores. They’ve changed, grown up, grown more loveable. And their flaws and insecurities provide both plot and emotional undercurrent that will tug at your heart in all the best ways. And the way Sarah Addison Allen writes teenagers makes me crave a full-on YA from her (*fingers crossed for one day*). Bay was my absolute favorite part of this story and I’m so glad she got her own story as a Waverley.

Alice in Wonderland High (no cover available)

Goodreads Summary:

Sixteen-year-old Alice suppresses her need for rebellion after a petition to start a farmer’s market receives more snickers than signatures. That is until Whitney Lapin, a girl who speaks in cryptic riddles and spends her free time turning abandoned warehouses into beautiful gardens, leads her on a rabbit trail into the underground–aka secret society–of Wonderland High. Curiouser and curiouser.

Even though Whitney’s group of teenage environmental vigilantes operates on the wrong side of the law, Alice has never felt more free to be herself. Soon she stomps on her good girl image by completing a series of environmental pranks to impress them: flooding the school and disguising a pig as a baby in order to smuggle it out of a testing facility. But the group refuses to help with the farmer’s market or reveal their hidden agenda. She wants to trust them, and she especially wants to trust (or maybe kiss) Chester Katz, a boy with a killer smile, a penchant for disappearing, and a secret that will really turn Alice‘s world backwards. When one group member tries to frame Alice for all the pranks, she must figure out their secret before she ends up in front of a jury that’s screaming, “Off with her head!”

My Thoughts:

Alice In Wonderland High is a fun, trippy contemporary retelling with numerous nods to the original story. With quirky characters who talk in riddles, intriguing mysteries, and crazy eco-missions involving covering houses with plants and freeing animals from a lab, there’s never a dull moment. The dialogue is a little confusing at times (though a lot of that is done on purpose, I think), and the insta-love between Alice and Chess could’ve been more of a slow burn to really make me get behind the relationship. But overall, a seriously unique take on a classic.

*I received an ARC from Merit Press and Edelweiss for an honest review.