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    Review: BAD GIRL GONE

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    Title: BAD GIRL GONE
    Author: Temple Mathews
    Release date: August 8, 2017
    Publisher: A Thomas Dunne Book for St. Martin’s Griffin
    Pages: 272
    Formats: Hardcover, audio, eBook

    Description…

    Sixteen year-old Echo Stone awakens in a cold sweat in a dark room, having no idea where she is or how she got there. But she soon finds out she’s in Middle House, an orphanage filled with mysteriously troubled kids.

    There’s just one problem: she’s not an orphan. Her parents are very much alive.

    She explains this to everyone, but no one will listen. After befriending a sympathetic (and handsome) boy, Echo is able to escape Middle House and rush home, only to discover it sealed off by crime scene tape and covered in the evidence of a terrible and violent crime. As Echo grapples with this world-shattering information, she spots her parents driving by and rushes to flag them down. Standing in the middle of street, waving her arms to get their attention, her parents’ car drives right through her.

    She was right. Her parents are alive—but she’s not.

    She’s a ghost, just like all the other denizens of Middle House. Desperate to somehow get her life back and reconnect with her still-alive boyfriend, Echo embarks on a quest to solve her own murder. As the list of suspects grows, the quest evolves into a journey of self-discovery in which she learns she wasn’t quite the girl she thought she was. In a twist of fate, she’s presented with one last chance to reclaim her life and must make a decision which will either haunt her or bless her forever.­­­­

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    NOTE: This review is based on an eARC via NetGalley received from the publisher in exchange for my honest thoughts about the book.


    The Review

    BAD GIRL GONE is a a paranormal murder mystery where the ghosts are the detectives serving up justice and revenge. It’s the story of a girl who must come to grips with what happened to her, discover what kind of person she really was and what kind of person she wants to be, and find out who is to blame for her demise.

    It is a story with an interesting premise – ghostly sleuths trapped in a sort of purgatory who must solve their murders in order to move on – but suffers from a number of problems with its execution, making for a read that is at times fun and entertaining and at others difficult to stay connected to.

    Echo Stone thought she was a nice person, well-liked, a perfect girlfriend. But her murder revealed that she might not have been exactly who she thought she was. Even Andy, the love of her life, had suspicions about her.

    With no idea who could have wanted her dead, she’ll have to find a way to fill the gaps in her memory in order to solve her murder and exact vengeance. And she’ll need help from the other residents of Middle House to do so. Including the pranksters, the bully, and the boy who seems determined to win her heart.

    At under 300 pages, BAD GIRL GONE is a quick read, although the beginning dragged somewhat due to a bit too much telling and not enough showing. While the character was in the dark about her circumstances, the reader wasn’t, and so Echo’s slow recall of who she was and her discovery of where she was, told in staccato bursts of thoughts and actions, didn’t have the intended impact. But once Echo became aware of what was going on, the pace picked up and the story became easier to engage with.

    The murder mystery offered up several suspects and Echo’s actions made many of them real possibilities, keeping readers in suspense for quite some time about the who and the why. The other inhabitants of Middle House with stories of their own added excitement, even if some deviations felt unnecessary to the plot. And the choices Echo was forced to make at the story’s end turned her from a not very likable character into someone with whom readers could sympathize.

    But there wasn’t enough detail or depth to make Echo a truly likable character. And with some rather odd and unrealistic phrasing the author used for her thoughts and dialogue, it was a challenge to relate to her.

    Another detractor was the romance between Echo and Cole, which felt forced and didn’t flow with the story as it developed. Echo’s struggle with her undying love for her boyfriend and her growing feelings for Cole wasn’t sufficiently established to make it believable. There was also a bit more language used in BAD GIRL GONE than is typical in YA novels, as well as some off-putting behavior by most of the adult male characters introduced, making the read uncomfortable at times.

    The strengths of this story lie in its mystery, its concept, and its conclusion. There are also moments that are achingly sad and those that are hopelessly sweet. But its uneven pace and flow, lack of depth and development, and inconsistent voice, make for a read that doesn’t quite live up to all that it promised.

    The Rating


    About Temple Mathews

    Photo credit: Matt Misisco

    TEMPLE MATHEWS is an author and screenwriter with several films to his credit, including Disney’s Return to Neverland, The Little Mermaid 2: Return to the Sea, and Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas. He wrote Aloha Scooby Doo for Warner Brothers and Picture This for MGM. He is also the author of the The New Kid trilogy.

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    BAD GIRL GONE Blog Tour: Excerpt

    I am thrilled to be a stop on the BAD GIRL GONE Blog Tour and to share an excerpt of the first chapter, “Awakening.”

    BAD GIRL GONE by Temple Mathews releases tomorrow so it’s not too late to grab a copy on its release day. And in case you haven’t yet read the description, in brief, it’s a paranormal murder mystery, where the ghosts are the detectives, that offers up a side of romance with the sleuthing and vengeance and ghostly hijinks.

    Author Temple Mathews has some awesome screenwriting credits to his name. Just visit his website (linked below) to check out what he’s done.

    Also, Iggy Azalea (who loved BAD GIRL GONE) and her production company optioned the novel for film. So you might get to see it on the big screen one of these days.

    So if you’d like to get a peek at Chapter One and you want to know more about BAD GIRL GONE, scroll down for all the info.


    About BAD GIRL GONE

    Add to Goodreads

    Title: BAD GIRL GONE
    Author: Temple Mathews
    Release date: August 8, 2017
    Publisher: A Thomas Dunne Book for St. Martin’s Griffin
    Pages: 272
    Formats: Hardcover, audio, eBook

    Description…

    Sixteen year-old Echo Stone awakens in a cold sweat in a dark room, having no idea where she is or how she got there. But she soon finds out she’s in Middle House, an orphanage filled with mysteriously troubled kids.

    There’s just one problem: she’s not an orphan. Her parents are very much alive.

    She explains this to everyone, but no one will listen. After befriending a sympathetic (and handsome) boy, Echo is able to escape Middle House and rush home, only to discover it sealed off by crime scene tape and covered in the evidence of a terrible and violent crime. As Echo grapples with this world-shattering information, she spots her parents driving by and rushes to flag them down. Standing in the middle of street, waving her arms to get their attention, her parents’ car drives right through her.

    She was right. Her parents are alive—but she’s not.

    She’s a ghost, just like all the other denizens of Middle House. Desperate to somehow get her life back and reconnect with her still-alive boyfriend, Echo embarks on a quest to solve her own murder. As the list of suspects grows, the quest evolves into a journey of self-discovery in which she learns she wasn’t quite the girl she thought she was. In a twist of fate, she’s presented with one last chance to reclaim her life and must make a decision which will either haunt her or bless her forever.­­­­

    AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | iTUNES | INDIEBOUND | MACMILLAN | GOODREADS


    The Excerpt

    Download (PDF, 639KB)


    About Temple Mathews

    Photo credit: Matt Misisco

    TEMPLE MATHEWS is an author and screenwriter with several films to his credit, including Disney’s Return to Neverland, The Little Mermaid 2: Return to the Sea, and Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas. He wrote Aloha Scooby Doo for Warner Brothers and Picture This for MGM. He is also the author of the The New Kid trilogy.

    WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK | INSTAGRAM | YOUTUBEGOODREADS

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    THE INEVITABLE COLLISION OF BIRDIE & BASH Blog Tour: Review

    I am absolutely thrilled to be a part of the blog tour for THE INEVITABLE COLLISION OF BIRDIE & BASH by Candace Ganger. It may have been a book that made me want to read it based on title alone. But it was an incredible and completely unexpected read in all the best ways and it completely blew me away.

    If you’d like to know what I thought about this amazing story, my review follows below. But on a personal note I have to admit that I may have sobbed my way through much of the book but was left smiling at the story’s end.


    About THE INEVITABLE COLLISION OF BIRDIE & BASH

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    Title: THE INEVITABLE COLLISION OF BIRDIE & BASH
    Author: Candace Ganger
    Release date: July 25, 2017
    Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
    Pages: 320
    Formats: Hardcover, eBook

    Read an EXCERPT

    Description…

    Sebastian Alvaréz is just trying to hold the pieces together, to not flunk out, to keep his sort-of-best friend Wild Kyle from doing something really bad. And to see his beloved Ma through chemo. But when he meets Birdie Paxton, a near-Valedictorian who doesn’t realize she’s smoking hot in her science pun T-shirt, at a party, an undeniable attraction sparks. And suddenly he’s not worried about anything.

    But before they are able to exchange numbers, they are pulled apart. A horrifying tragedy links Birdie and Bash together – yet neither knows it. When they finally reconnect, and are starting to fall – hard – the events of the tragedy unfold, changing both their lives in ways they can never undo.

    Told in alternating perspectives full of the best nerdy banter this side of Ohio, some seriously awesome skate moves, and the promise of a kiss destined to make the world stop turning, The Inevitable Collision of Birdie & Bash will break your heart and put it back together again.

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    NOTE: This review is based on an eARC received by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest thoughts about the book. A Kindle eCopy was purchased for my collection.


    The Review

    From its title, THE INEVITABLE COLLISION OF BIRDIE & BASH may lead one to believe it’s a lighthearted story about two young people who are destined to meet. Perhaps in some chaotic or bizarrely funny way. But while destiny and chaos may play a part in this story, the events that bring Birdie and Bash together are anything but light or fun.

    Theirs is a story that is devastatingly heartbreaking, incredibly moving, achingly hopeful. Their lives are consumed by pain, tragedy and loss. But their connection is more than one based on shared sorrow. And their love story, while bittersweet, cannot be called tragic.

    If Birdie hadn’t been so upset about the news she received about her scholarship, she never would have gone to the party. She never would have met Bash that night. She never would have felt the need to try and confess to her mother, setting in motion the events that led to the worst thing to ever happen to her family.

    If Bash had listened to his mother, he never would have stayed friends with Kyle. He never would have been at the party where he met Couch Girl, a.k.a. Birdie. He never would have witnessed Kyle doing the stupidest thing in his life, setting in motion the events that led to Bash making the worst mistake of his.

    If either had done just one thing differently, it might have been enough to alter both outcomes. So many things had to come together just right for them to meet, for their lives to become inextricably interwoven, and for their worlds to be forever changed.

    Candace Ganger created a story about love and family and friendship that is unexpected and beautiful and heartrending. She introduces two characters who are interesting, kind, strong, sympathetic, and immensely likable. And she challenges them to find their way through their anguish and to each other.

    Told in alternating points of view, THE INEVITABLE COLLISION OF BIRDIE & BASH promises to put readers and characters alike through an emotional wringer. It invites them to question destiny, fate, and scientific theory. It is sad but not dark. It is sweet but not saccharine. It is gorgeous and intense and absolutely unforgettable.

    The Rating

    Like In-N-Out Burger‘s infamous secret menu this one deserves my off-the-menu 6 star rating.


    About Candace Ganger

    CANDACE GANGER is a young adult author, contributing writer for Hello Giggles, and obsessive marathoner. Aside from having past lives as a singer, nanotechnology website editor, and world’s worst vacuum sales rep, she’s also ghostwritten hundreds of projects for companies, best-selling fiction and award-winning nonfiction authors alike. Candace—aka—Candyland—has a severe Milky Way latter addiction + eats way too many donuts/doughnuts but all things in excess, amiright? FYI: She’s TOTALLY awkward in person (#sorrynotsorry). She lives in Ohio with her family.

    WEBSITE | BLOG | TWITTER | FACEBOOK | INSTAGRAM | MACMILLAN | GOODREADS

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    A CROWN OF WISHES Blog Tour Review

    I am super excited to be a part of the A CROWN OF WISHES Blog Tour. Author Roshani Chokshi has created a series that is so beautifully written and magical that I can’t wait for everyone to discover it and fall in love with her writing and her characters.

    If you haven’t yet read THE STAR-TOUCHED QUEEN I would definitely recommend reading it prior to A CROWN OF WISHES. And because A CROWN OF WISHES releases today you can read both books back-to-back without having to wait.

    For my stop today I’m sharing my thoughts about this amazing sequel. If you’d like to know what I thought, scroll down for my review. There’s also information on both full-length books in the series, and a few excerpts if you want to get a sneak-peek. And if you’d like to know more about the author, her details and places to find her online are at the end of the post.

    Oh… and a prequel novella, DEATH AND NIGHT, is releasing on May 2nd. If you’d like to add it to your Goodreads TBR pile, just click HERE.


    About A CROWN OF WISHES

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    Title & Series: A CROWN OF WISHES (The Star-Touched Queen #2)
    Author: Roshani Chokshi
    Release date: March 28, 2017
    Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffn
    Pages: 384
    Formats: Hardcover, audio, eBook

    Read an EXCERPT

    Listen to an EXCERPT of the Audiobook

    Description…

    Gauri, the princess of Bharata, has been taken as a prisoner of war by her kingdom’s enemies. Faced with a future of exile and scorn, Gauri has nothing left to lose. Hope unexpectedly comes in the form of Vikram, the cunning prince of a neighboring land and her sworn enemy kingdom. Unsatisfied with becoming a mere puppet king, Vikram offers Gauri a chance to win back her kingdom in exchange for her battle prowess. Together, they’ll have to set aside their differences and team up to win the Tournament of Wishes – a competition held in a mythical city where the Lord of Wealth promises a wish to the victor.

    Reaching the tournament is just the beginning. Once they arrive, danger takes on new shapes: poisonous courtesans and mischievous story birds, a feast of fears and twisted fairy revels. Every which way they turn new trials will test their wit and strength. But what Gauri and Vikram will soon discover is that there’s nothing more dangerous than what they most desire.

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    NOTE: This review is based on an eARC received by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest thoughts about the book. A Kindle eCopy was purchased for my collection.


    The Review

    A CROWN OF WISHES is the epic, action-packed, magical, and completely captivating second book in Roshani Chokshi’s The Star-Touched Queen series. With writing that is gorgeous and poetic, a setting that is enchanting and dreamlike, characters who are dynamic and whose personalities balance one another, and a journey that offers the promise of a wish, this sequel is certain to keep the pages turning.

    Vikram wanted to be seen as more than just a figurehead for the Council of Ujijain to control. But not having royal blood running through his veins meant that they would always deem him unworthy and never give him the power to rule.

    Gauri cared deeply for the people of Bharata. She couldn’t stand idly by while her brother’s callousness, selfishness, and indifference destroyed her home. But when her attempt to overthrow him and take the throne failed, she was banished, imprisoned, and sentenced to death.

    Being a champion in the Tournament of Wishes is their only hope of becoming more than their empty titles – the Fox Prince and the Jewel of Bharata. It is the only way they believe they can achieve their dreams. They just need to find a way to trust each other, to pass whatever tests they’re given, and to figure out how to circumvent the rule that says only one of them can leave when the contest is over – that is if they both survive that long.

    Roshani Chokshi brought to life a story that is myth and adventure and romance and magic. She imagined a world of injustice and cruelty and one of hopes and dreams and desires and vengeance. She introduced beings of terrifying beauty, those with a deadly touch, those who are cursed, those who long for something they don’t have – fantastical and interesting and bizarre creatures who make this tale fascinating and exciting and absolutely wonderful.

    A CROWN OF WISHES will transport readers, with its beautifully written passages and stunning imagery, into both its human and mythical worlds. It will keep them transfixed as Gauri and Vikram confront their fears and put their lives on the line in their attempt to become champions and earn their wishes. And it will make them hope for each character’s happy ending and for the possibility that their happy endings will entwine.

    A quick pace, intriguing Hindu mythology, and a riveting storyline make this sophomore novel a must.

    [Note: A reading of the first book in the series is not required to enjoy this sequel, but it is strongly recommended.]

    The Rating


    Praise

    Named “One of the Most Anticipated YA Novels of 2017” by Entertainment Weekly, Teen Vogue, Bustle, BookRiot and B&N Teen Blog

    “Careful plotting, multiple viewpoints, high-stakes action, and a slow-burn relationship make this heady fantasy completely engrossing. A first pick for YA collections.” —School Library Journal, STARRED review

    “Chokshi’s debut, The Star-Touched Queen (2016), was lush and gorgeously written, and Chokshi has only improved; this lovely companion tale boasts a stronger narrative structure in addition to the delightful prose.” —Booklist

    “With a happily-ever-after reminiscent of beloved fairy tales, this is a great pick for voracious readers who like their bejeweled princesses to have hard edges.” —Kirkus Reviews

    “Set against this vivid backdrop is a story with two skill- fully drawn protagonists…this gem will likely send those new to Alaka back to the companion story as its fans wait for another invitation to Chokshi’s luminous world.” — The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

    “Lush and ornate ribbons of language… rich and dizzying.” —The New York Times Book Review on The Star-Touched Queen

    “The sentence-level beauty of this book often stunned me: There’s a smooth, understated loveliness to the writing that kept catching me off guard. In Chokshi’s prose, voices have substance and texture while light has color and flavor; never have I wanted to munch on books so much as after reading…Solidly crafted and very engaging, this is a smooth, lovely and assured debut.” —NPR.org on The Star-Touched Queen


    Read an Excerpt

    Download (PDF, 51KB)


    Listen to an Excerpt

    About Roshani Chokshi

    Credit: Aman Sharma

    Roshani Chokshi is the New York Times bestselling author of THE STAR-TOUCHED QUEEN. Her work has appeared in Strange Horizons, Shimmer, and Book Smugglers. Her short story, “The Star Maiden,” was longlisted for the British Fantasy Science Award.

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    Other Books in the Series

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    Title & Series: THE STAR-TOUCHED QUEEN (The Star-Touched Queen #1)
    Author: Roshani Chokshi
    Release date: April 26, 2016
    Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
    Pages: 352
    Formats: Hardcover, paperback, audio, eBook

    Read an EXCERPT

    Description…

    Fate and fortune. Power and passion. What does it take to be the queen of a kingdom when you’re only seventeen?

    Maya is cursed. With a horoscope that promises a marriage of Death and Destruction, she has earned only the scorn and fear of her father’s kingdom. Content to follow more scholarly pursuits, her whole world is torn apart when her father, the Raja, arranges a wedding of political convenience to quell outside rebellions. Soon Maya becomes the queen of Akaran and wife of Amar. Neither roles are what she expected: As Akaran’s queen, she finds her voice and power. As Amar’s wife, she finds something else entirely: Compassion. Protection. Desire…

    But Akaran has its own secrets — thousands of locked doors, gardens of glass, and a tree that bears memories instead of fruit. Soon, Maya suspects her life is in danger. Yet who, besides her husband, can she trust? With the fate of the human and Otherworldly realms hanging in the balance, Maya must unravel an ancient mystery that spans reincarnated lives to save those she loves the most. . .including herself.

    A lush and vivid story that is steeped in Indian folklore and mythology. Roshani Chokshi’s The Star-touched Queen is a novel that no reader will soon forget.

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    Review: IN REAL LIFE

    In_Real_Life_Cover

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    Title: IN REAL LIFE
    Author: Jessica Love
    Release date: March 1, 2016
    Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
    Pages: 240
    Formats: Hardcover, eBook

    Description…

    Hannah Cho and Nick Cooper have been best friends since 8th grade. They talk for hours on the phone, regularly shower each other with presents, and know everything there is to know about one another.

    There’s just one problem: Hannah and Nick have never actually met.

    Hannah has spent her entire life doing what she’s supposed to, but when her senior year spring break plans get ruined by a rule-breaker, she decides to break a rule or two herself. She impulsively decides to road trip to Las Vegas, her older sister and BFF in tow, to surprise Nick and finally declare her more-than-friend feelings for him.

    Hannah’s surprise romantic gesture backfires when she gets to Vegas and finds out that Nick has been keeping some major secrets. Hannah knows the real Nick can’t be that different from the online Nick she knows and loves, but now she only has night in Sin City to figure out what her feelings for Nick really are, all while discovering how life can change when you break the rules every now and then.

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    NOTE: This review is based on an eARC received from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest thoughts about the book.


    The Review

    If you’re looking for a read that’s quick and fun, angsty and sweet, Jessica Love’s IN REAL LIFE will more than satisfy. With a rock band, a road trip to Vegas, a couple of best friends who may not know as much about each other as they think they do, and a few unexpected surprises, Hannah and Nick’s story promises to be adventurous, delightful, exciting and romantic.

    With her parents out of town, Hannah thought it was finally time to take a risk, be impulsive, and head to Las Vegas to see her best friend Nick. In person. For the first time in their very long friendship.

    Not one to take chances, the idea of meeting Nick after all these years was nerve-wracking. She didn’t want the face-to-face to ruin their friendship or make things awkward between them. But she needed to sort out her feelings for him. And after their one and only failed attempt at meeting years ago, she knew that this would be their last chance. It was now or never and she wasn’t willing to let her fears cause it to be never.

    IN REAL LIFE is an absolutely adorable story with a main character who you’ll both love and be driven mad by. Hannah is at times a bit clueless, frustrating, rigid and self-absorbed. She follows the rules. Plays it safe. And isn’t willing to confront her feelings. But in spite of – and maybe because of – all of that she is endearing and sympathetic. And the fact that she is not completely unwilling to change makes you want to root for her.

    Jessica Love penned a story that so easy to devour in one sitting. The heartbreak, the secrets, the missed opportunities, the possibility of an almost-but-not-quite love story make this a captivating and entertaining and insanely good read.

    The Rating

    05


    About Jessica Love

     

    JessicaLove

    Jessica is a high school English teacher who lives in Southern California with her husband, her son, and their two tiny dogs. She’s working on her Master’s Degree in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Spalding University, and her big love is contemporary YA romance. Jessica spends all of her free money on concerts, constantly tries to prove that blondes have more fun, and is pretty much always on the internet.

    IN REAL LIFE will be released from St. Martin’s/Thomas Dunne on March 1, 2015. PUSH GIRL, co-written with Chelsie Hill from Sundance Channel’s reality TV show Push Girls, is out now.

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    Book Watch: THE VIOLINIST OF VENICE by Alyssa Palombo

    BOOK_WATCH

    Today is the release day for Alyssa Palombo’s THE VIOLINIST OF VENICE and I’m thrilled to be able to share the news of this gorgeous love story’s release.

    Ever since I first read its description I knew it would be a “must read.” And I’m so excited that the finished copy is now living happily on my Kindle.

    I love epic stories that span a character’s lifetime. I love stories that take place in Venice – one of my most favorite cities. I love stories filled with music and passion and secrets and difficult choices. And THE VIOLINIST OF VENICE checks all those boxes.

    If you’d like to know more about this beautiful story, check out the description below as well as the linked excerpt. And if you are intrigued be sure to add it to your TBR pile on Goodreads and to your bookish collection.

    For those who love period pieces, great writing, forbidden romance, Alyssa Palombo’s novel is definitely a book to watch.


    The Book to Watch

    The Violinist of Venice
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    Title: THE VIOLINIST OF VENICE: A Story of Vivaldi
    Author: Alyssa Palombo
    Release date: December 15, 2015
    Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
    Pages: 448
    Formats: Paperback, eBook

    Read an EXCERPT

    Description…

    Like most 18th century Venetians, Adriana d’Amato adores music-except her strict merchant father has forbidden her to cultivate her gift for the violin. But she refuses to let that stop her from living her dreams and begins sneaking out of her family’s palazzo under the cover of night to take violin lessons from virtuoso violinist and composer Antonio Vivaldi. However, what begins as secret lessons swiftly evolves into a passionate, consuming love affair.

    Adriana’s father is intent on seeing her married to a wealthy, prominent member of Venice’s patrician class-and a handsome, charming suitor, whom she knows she could love, only complicates matters-but Vivaldi is a priest, making their relationship forbidden in the eyes of the Church and of society. They both know their affair will end upon Adriana’s marriage, but she cannot anticipate the events that will force Vivaldi to choose between her and his music. The repercussions of his choice-and of Adriana’s own choices-will haunt both of their lives in ways they never imagined.

    Spanning more than 30 years of Adriana’s life, Alyssa Palombo’s The Violinist of Venice is a story of passion, music, ambition, and finding the strength to both fall in love and to carry on when it ends.

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    About Alyssa Palombo

    Alyssa Palombo_Credit Elizabeth Snyder Photography, LLC

    ALYSSA PALOMBO has published short historical fiction pieces in Black Lantern, Novelletum, and The Great Lakes Review. She is a recent a graduate of Canisius College with degrees in English and creative writing, respectively, as well as a trained classical musician. The Violinist of Venice is her first novel. She lives in Tonawanda, New York.

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    HOW TO BE BRAVE Blog Tour: Q&A with E. Katherine Kottaras + Giveaway

    HTBBBanner

    I am super excited to be today’s stop on the HOW TO BE BRAVE Blog Tour with an awesome Q&A with Author E. Katherine Kottaras provided by the publisher in which she talks about yoga, body image, her character Georgia, her bucket list, and gives advice to aspiring authors.

    HOW TO BE BRAVE is a wonderful and uplifting story with a positive message and moments that will make you tear up. (If you’d like to check out my review, it’s HERE.) It released this week, but if you don’t yet have your copy, the publisher is offering one up for giveaway. Just scroll down and enter in the Rafflecopter below.

    There are more chances to win at some of the other stops on the tour, which runs from November 3rd through the 17th. So be sure to check them out. I’ve included a few direct links at the bottom of the post.

    The publisher has also created an awesome interactive trailer. Just click on the image or link below to check it out!

    HTBB Trailer

    Watch the trailer

    And if you haven’t yet had the chance, be sure to check out Griffin Teen’s new WEBSITE, or visit them on TWITTER, FACEBOOK or TUMBLR.


    About HOW TO BE BRAVE

    How to Be Brave

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    Title: HOW TO BE BRAVE: A Novel
    Author: E. Katherine Kottaras
    Release date: November 3, 2015
    Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
    Pages: 288
    Formats: Hardcover, eBook

    Read an EXCERPT

    Description…

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

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

    AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | iTUNES | INDIEBOUND | GOOGLE PLAY | KOBO | INDIGOMACMILLAN | GOODREADS


    Praise

    “This is a solid story of loss that fits in well with other recent stories of grief in the face of a parent’s death, like Jennifer Castle’s The Beginning of After (2011) and Jennifer Brown’s Torn Away (2014). The book’s strongest sections are the lyrical flashbacks that tell the story of her mother’s life and death, but Georgia’s struggles with weight and body image are also handled with care. A perfect book for anyone trying to figure out what they want their life to look like, and how to be brave enough to make that life a reality.” —Booklist

    “Georgia’s realistically profane voice aptly captures her personality, carrying the novel; her traverse through grief and experimentation make for a believable and satisfying character arc. A thoughtful exploration of grief and life.” —Kirkus Reviews

    “Georgia’s Greek-American heritage offers a distinctive backdrop for the novel’s themes of emotional healing and self-discovery, while Georgia herself emerges as a realistically flawed and genuine protagonist.” —Publishers Weekly

    “How to Be Brave is a celebration of life, from the captivating open page to the emotional ending. Kottaras acutely and poetically depicts the painful struggle of re-finding yourself after a defining loss-and the stark effects of both success and failure along the way-in a lovely, heartfelt debut.” —Dahlia Adler, author of Behind the Scenes

    “Just enough sass, just enough heart, and a narrator to root for. How to be Brave  ushered me into another yet familiar world.  Come along for the ride.  You’ll be glad you did.” —Ron Koertge, award winning author of Coaltown Jesus

    “Powerful and rare, How to Be Brave is a wonderfully told story with gleams of humor and wit that will inspire readers to live their lives for real.” —Robyn Schneider, bestselling author of The Beginning of Everything

    “How To Be Brave does a cartwheel in your heart. It artfully reminds us that bravery forges a path through fear and grief.” —Courtney C. Stevens, author of Faking Normal


    The Interview

    Q&A with E. Katherine Kottaras

    Q. You are also a yoga instructor and practitioner. How has this influenced your writing?

    I am in my head, a lot. My yoga practice grounds me like nothing else. One definition of yoga is the linking of body and breath to focus the mind. I find that when I’m not doing my practice, I can’t focus and I become easily overwhelmed by my fears and my anxiety – and as a result, I can’t write. When I am doing my practice, I’m able to deal with those fears and those anxieties in a way that is healthy.

    Q. What’s currently on your bucket list?

    Here are a few things on my Do Everything Be Brave List: 

    • Learn how to roller skate and/or ice skate without using the wall.
    • Ride my bike to yoga. (Bike lanes scare me!)
    • Hike to the bottom of the Grand Canyon (and all the way back up, I guess…)
    • Visit every continent (I’ve only been to two.)

    Here are a few brave things I’ve done: 

    • Flown down the largest zip-line in the continental U.S. despite my fear of heights. (and gave my eight-year old permission to do so as well.)
    • Paddle-boarded during high-wind season in Hawaii.
    • Fallen in love and stayed there for more than twenty years.
    • Become a writer. I tell my students everyday: it’s the scariest thing in the world.

    Q. What advice can you provide aspiring authors?

    READ. A lot. Both in the genre/style you want to publish in and ABOUT writing – all aspects – the writing process, the publishing process, etc. There are hundreds of blog posts about the writing life, etc. and I read them obsessively to understand what I had to do to get published.

    Also, WRITE a lot, of course. Just keep writing, no matter what, even if it’s a journal for yourself where you write a little bit everyday. And keep submitting – the rejections are difficult at first, but it gets easier.

    Writing is hard and fun and frustrating and exhilirating. I can’t imagine not writing. And if you write, you understand this strange demand – it’s not a desire; it’s a necessity. Follow that call, whatever it is inside you that asks you to write – and keep writing, no matter what.

    Q. How do you address body image issues with your daughter? Was that part of the drive to write this book?

    Absolutely. We talk a lot about how the media often “sells” a certain body type. .” I’ve shown her Photoshopping videos like this one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cPnfjwKfkSk

    and we discuss, quite openly, how it’s unrealistic to try to change your body to meet the standards presented in magazines and on screens. I try to guide our conversation as a discussion, asking her questions about why she thinks the media represents women and girls in certain ways. We talk about how every body is beautiful, and that she is beautiful, just as she is.

    Q. HOW TO BE BRAVE addresses issues of positive body image. Was this something you set out to address or did it spring up organically? Is body image something you struggled with?

    When I was growing up in the 1980s, I didn’t have access to the amazing body of work known as “YA literature” as it exists today. I was fairly obsessed with Sweet Valley High, but Elizabeth and Jessica were suburban twins (I’m an only child) with “perfect size-six figures,” and that was totally outside the realm of my experience.

    Thankfully, I did have Judy Blume, who was bravely offering characters that worried and obsessed about their growing bodies. Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret? and Blubber spoke to me about my awkward body and bullying and the need for kindness.

    But for the most part, I didn’t belong in the books I read. I was the only child of a Greek father and Russian-Jewish mother who were both of peasant stock (farmers on both sides) and who owned a restaurant in downtown Chicago. I didn’t know anything about suburban high schools, about size six.

    This last one was especially hard for me. When I was twelve, my pediatrician told me that I needed to lose twenty to thirty pounds, thus starting a lifelong battle with my weight. My ballet teacher told my mother I was too big too dance and she was wasting her money. I was constantly picked last in gym, alongside my BFF, who also struggled with her body. When I asked her recently what she remembered of our time as kids, she said:

    “I remember our PE teachers who didn’t help or guide but rather assisted with shaming by making the whole class wait for ‘free day’ until a pull-up was done (as though the situation was rooted in straight up defiance rather than inability) leading to a life-long dislike of physical activity.”

    I remember those many days, feeling embarrassed and shamed by my teachers, which led to feeling more uncomfortable and awkward (as though my own self-shame wasn’t enough). By the time I was in high school, I absolutely hated my body.

    I spent my twenties battling my weight. I yo-yo’d between diets and hunger and new workout trends and gyms. No matter what I did, no matter how hard I tried, I never was able to become a perfect size six – nothing even close to that – and my body retained its fullness, its roundness, its hardy, muscular, stocky, peasant stock shape. My short arms weren’t going to suddenly become lean and long. My thick thighs always remain thick. My belly likes being round, what can I say?

    I fought it for so very long. And then, after giving birth to my daughter, I stopped fighting. I had to. I learned to love my body in a new way. It was life-giving. It was strong. It was mine.

    So when I sat down to write my own book, I knew the character had to be several things: she had to be Greek, she had to live in Chicago, and she had to have immigrant parents who didn’t always understand her. I also knew that she would struggle with her body. BUT. I didn’t want losing weight to be central to her experience. I knew I didn’t want it to be a goal. For the longest time, it was for me. I didn’t want to do that to her.

    HOW TO BE BRAVE is about a girl who has lived her life in fear and who sets out to try new things, despite her insecurities. Before her death, her mom commanded Georgia to live differently—to try everything at least once and to never be ruled by fear.

    When Georgia is first creating her list, she asks her best friend, Liss:

    “What about losing weight?”

    And Liss responds: “You don’t need to be brave to do that.”

    Georgia agrees, but of course, her insecurities don’t just disappear. They are always there. However, at the end Georgia finally realizes, “I’m not going to kill myself trying to achieve microscopic proportions. I’m still curvy me, and I always will be.”

    Of course, there are many similarities between Georgia and me. Georgia also feels uncomfortable in her body that’s deemed “overweight” by society’s standards, and part of her storyline is that she finds confidence in her body, as it is – that losing weight does not equal being brave. This has been part of my storyline has well.


    About E. Katherine Kottaras

    E. Katherine Kottaras CREDIT Emily Mae Marie

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

    WEBSITE | TWITTER | TUMBLR | FACEBOOK | INSTAGRAM | GOODREADS


    The Giveaway

    Courtesy of the publisher, St. Martin’s Griffin…

    • A copy of HOW TO BE BRAVE to ONE winner – US/Canada

    ***Prizing sent by the publisher. Giveaway ends November 20th ***

    Enter in the Rafflecopter below…

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    The Tour So Far

    Nov. 3rd | The Young Folks – Q&A + Giveaway

    Nov. 4th | The Reading Date – Excerpt + Giveaway

    Nov. 5th | Melanie’s Musings – Q&A, Review + Giveaway

    Nov. 5th | Miss Riki – Review

    Nov. 6th | Fiktshun – Q&A + Giveaway {You’re here!}

    Nov. 6th | The Hollow Cupboards – Excerpt + Giveaway

    Nov. 7th | The O.W.L. – Excerpt + Giveaway

    Nov. 8th | Addicted 2 Novels – Excerpt + Giveaway

    Nov. 8th | Reviews Coming at YA –  Q&A

    Nov. 9th | Ex Libris – Review, Excerpt + Giveaway

    Nov. 10th | Blackplume – Q&A + Giveaway

    Nov. 12th | The Reading Nook Reviews – Q&A + Giveaway

    Nov. 13th | Books and Ladders – Review, Excerpt + Giveaway

    Nov. 14th | Carmel and Kyla – Q&A + Giveaway

    Nov. 14th | The Bookish Babes – Excerpt

    Nov. 16th | Miss Print – Q&A

    Nov. 17th | A Bookworm’s World – Review, Excerpt + Giveaway

    Nov. 18th | Falling For YA – Giveaway

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