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Tom Ellen

    Top 10 of 2016: Best Contemporaries of 2016 + #Giveaway

    Welcome to Day Three of the Top 10 of 2016

    A WEEK OF LOOKING BACK…

    …AND LOOKING FORWARD

    As mentioned previously…

    I can’t believe that I’ve been co-hosting this event for six years with Jaime of Two Chicks on Books and three years with Nancy of Tales of the Ravenous Reader! And while I’m so sad that Mindy won’t be joining us this year, I’m thrilled that Bridget of Dark Faerie Tales has joined the team, as has Nancy’s blog partner, Christy.

    I haven’t read a ton of books this year, or blogged very much, so I almost decided not to participate. But this event is so much fun that I just couldn’t miss out.

    If you haven’t yet heard of the Top 10 of 2016 week-long event, in a nutshell it’s where we share our favorite bookish lists and invite you to share yours over the next five days by leaving your post links in the daily Linky Lists.

    Yet again, we’re each hosting our own giveaways on four of the five days of this challenge – We’re taking Day One off, Dark Faerie Tales is hosting Day Two’s giveaway, I’m hosting today’s Day Three’s giveaway, Two Chicks on Books is hosting Day Four’s giveaway, and Tales of the Ravenous Reader is hosting Day Five’s giveaway. So be sure to visit each of our blogs this week to share your post links and enter the giveaways!

    The Best Book _____ of 2016

    And my choice of topics is CONTEMPORARIES… contemporary fiction, contemporary romance, contemporary thrillers, contemporary mysteries.

    These books made me cry, made me laugh, made me guess and guess again, made me desperate for the next installment in the series, made me smile, surprised me, distracted me, made me want to read them again and again and again…and again.


    #1

    TheWayIUsedtoBe
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    Title: THE WAY I USED TO BE
    Author: Amber Smith
    Release date: March 22, 2016
    Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
    Pages: 384
    Formats: Hardcover, audio, eBook

    Description…

    Eden was always good at being good. Starting high school didn’t change who she was. But the night her brother’s best friend rapes her, Eden’s world capsizes.

    What was once simple, is now complex. What Eden once loved—who she once loved—she now hates. What she thought she knew to be true, is now lies. Nothing makes sense anymore, and she knows she’s supposed to tell someone what happened but she can’t. So she buries it instead. And she buries the way she used to be.

    Told in four parts—freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior year—this provocative debut reveals the deep cuts of trauma. But it also demonstrates one young woman’s strength as she navigates the disappointment and unbearable pains of adolescence, of first love and first heartbreak, of friendships broken and rebuilt, and while learning to embrace a power of survival she never knew she had hidden within her heart.

    AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | iTUNES | INDIEBOUND | GOODREADS


    #2

    Exit Pursued by a Bear_Cover

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    Title: EXIT, PURSUED BY A BEAR
    Author: E.K. Johnston
    Release date: March 15, 2016
    Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers
    Pages: 256
    Formats: Hardcover, audio, eBook

    Description…

    Veronica Mars meets William Shakespeare in E.K. Johnston’s latest brave and unforgettable heroine.

    Hermione Winters is captain of her cheerleading team, and in tiny Palermo Heights, this doesn’t mean what you think it means. At PHHS, the cheerleaders don’t cheer for the sports teams; they are the sports team—the pride and joy of a tiny town. The team’s summer training camp is Hermione’s last and marks the beginning of the end of…she’s not sure what. She does know this season could make her a legend. But during a camp party, someone slips something in her drink. And it all goes black.

    In every class, there’s a star cheerleader and a pariah pregnant girl. They’re never supposed to be the same person. Hermione struggles to regain the control she’s always had and faces a wrenching decision about how to move on. The assault wasn’t the beginning of Hermione Winter’s story and she’s not going to let it be the end. She won’t be anyone’s cautionary tale.

    AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | iTUNES | INDIEBOUND | GOODREADS


    #3

    Symptoms of Being Human Cover

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    Title: SYMPTOMS OF BEING HUMAN
    Author: Jeff Garvin
    Release date: February 2, 2016
    Publisher: Balzer + Bray
    Pages: 352
    Formats: Hardcover, audio, eBook

    Description…

    Riley Cavanaugh is many things: Punk rock. Snarky. Rebellious. And gender fluid. Some days Riley identifies as a boy, and others as a girl. But Riley isn’t exactly out yet. And between starting a new school and having a congressman father running for reelection in über-conservative Orange County, the pressure—media and otherwise—is building up in Riley’s life.

    On the advice of a therapist, Riley starts an anonymous blog to vent those pent-up feelings and tell the truth of what it’s really like to be a gender fluid teenager. But just as Riley’s starting to settle in at school—even developing feelings for a mysterious outcast—the blog goes viral, and an unnamed commenter discovers Riley’s real identity, threatening exposure. And Riley must make a choice: walk away from what the blog has created—a lifeline, new friends, a cause to believe in—or stand up, come out, and risk everything.

    From debut author Jeff Garvin comes a powerful and uplifting portrait of a modern teen struggling with high school, relationships, and what it means to be a person.

    AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | iTUNES | INDIEBOUND | GOODREADS


    #4

    LBDLWL cover

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    Title: LITTLE BLACK DRESSES, LITTLE WHITE LIES
    Author: Laura Stampler
    Release date: July 19, 2016
    Publisher: Simon Pulse
    Pages: 352
    Formats: Hardcover, eBook

    Description…

    The Devil Wears Prada meets Sex and the City in a wickedly funny debut novel about a girl who lands a dream internship at a magazine in New York City. If only she hadn’t lied about being a dating expert on her resume . .

    Harper Anderson has always thought she should have been born somewhere more glamorous than her sleepy Northern California suburb. After all, how many water polo matches and lame parties in Bobby McKittrick’s backyard can one girl take?

    Already resigned to working at a Skinny B’s Juice Press for the summer, Harper is shocked when the ultra-prestigious teen magazine, Shift, calls to say they want her to be their teen dating blogger for the summer. All she needs to do is get her butt to New York in two days.

    There’s just one teeny, tiny problem: Apart from some dance floor make-outs, Harper doesn’t have a whole lot of dating experience. So when Shift’s application asked for an “edgy” personal essay, Harper might have misappropriated her best friend’s experiences for her own. But she can just learn on the job…right? Will the house of lies Harper has built around her dream job collapse all around her, or will she be able to fake it until she makes it in the big city?

    AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | iTUNES | INDIEBOUND | GOODREADS


    #5

    A Totally Awkward Love Story

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    Title: A TOTALLY AWKWARD LOVE STORY
    Authors: Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison
    Release date: May 3, 2016
    Publisher: Delacorte Press
    Pages: 320
    Formats: Hardcover, audio, eBook

    Description…

    For fans of The DUFF, this hilarious and true-to-teen romance is Broad City meets Judy Blume.

    The summer before college, Hannah swears she’s finally going to find The One. And for five perfect minutes, Hannah does find him. He’s cute and makes her laugh like crazy. She just wishes she’d caught his name, because Toilet Boy Cinderella really lacks sex appeal.

    For Sam, the summer is off to a bad start for a million reasons. But for five minutes his luck changes: in a fancy restroom painted purple like it belongs in a Bond villain hideaway, Sam falls head over heels for some strange and hilarious girl. Of course, he doesn’t know her name. With his luck, he’ll never see her again, and he’ll remain a girlfriendless, moony-eyed virgin. Forever.

    But another chance meeting brings them together, only to have a chance misunderstanding drive them apart . . . and then the cycle starts all over again. Madcap mishaps, raunchy hilarity, and deep romance follow these two wherever they go. For two people so clearly destined for each other, they sure have a hell of a lot of trouble even getting together.

    AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | iTUNES | INDIEBOUND | GOODREADS


    #6

    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.

    AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | iTUNES | INDIEBOUND | GOODREADS


    #7

    the-amateurs

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    Title & Series: THE AMATEURS (The Amateurs #1)
    Author: Sara Shepard
    Release date: November 1, 2016
    Publisher: Freeform
    Pages: 320
    Formats: Hardcover, audio, eBook

    Description…

    I need some answers about my sister. Help…

    Five years ago, high school senior Helena Kelly disappeared from her backyard in Dexby, Connecticut, never to be heard from again. Her family was left without any answers—without any idea who killed Helena, or why.

    So when eighteen-year-old Seneca Frazier sees a desperate post on the Case Not Closed message board, she knows it’s time to change that. Helena’s high-profile disappearance is the one that originally got Seneca addicted to true crime. It’s the reason she’s a member of the site in the first place.

    Determined to get to the bottom of the mystery, she agrees to spend spring break in Connecticut working on the case with Maddy Wright, her best friend from Case Not Closed. However, the moment she steps off the train, things start to go wrong. Maddy’s nothing like she expected, and Helena’s sister, Aerin, doesn’t seem to want any help after all. Plus, Seneca has a secret of her own, one that could derail the investigation if she’s not careful.

    Alongside Brett, another super-user from the site, they slowly begin to unravel the secrets Helena kept in the weeks before her disappearance. But the killer is watching…and determined to make sure the case stays cold.

    AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | iTUNES | INDIEBOUND | GOODREADS


    #8

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    Title & Series: UNRIVALED (Beautiful Idols #1)
    Author: Alyson Noēl
    Release date: May 10, 2016
    Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
    Pages: 432
    Formats: Hardcover, audio, eBook

    Description…

    Everyone wants to be someone.

    Layla Harrison wants to leave her beach-bum days for digs behind a reporter’s desk. Aster Amirpour wants to scream at the next casting director who tells her “we need ethnic but not your kind of ethnic.” Tommy Phillips dreams of buying a twelve-string guitar and using it to shred his way back into his famous absentee dad’s life.

    But Madison Brooks took destiny and made it her bitch a long time ago.

    She’s Hollywood’s hottest starlet, and the things she did to become the name on everyone’s lips are merely a stain on the pavement, ground beneath her Louboutin heel.

    That is, until Layla, Aster, and Tommy find themselves with a VIP invite to the glamorous and gritty world of Los Angeles’s nightlife and lured into a high-stakes competition where Madison Brooks is the target. Just as their hopes begin to gleam like stars through the California smog, Madison Brooks goes missing. . . . And all of their hopes are blacked out in the haze of their lies.

    Unrivaled is #1 New York Times bestselling author Alyson Noël’s first book in a thrilling suspense trilogy about how our most desperate dreams can become our darkest nightmares.

    AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | iTUNES | INDIEBOUND | GOODREADS


    #9

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    Title & Series: WITH MALICE
    Author: Eileen Cook
    Release date: June 7, 2016
    Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
    Pages: 320
    Formats: Hardcover, audio, eBook

    Description…

    It was the perfect trip…until it wasn’t.

    Eighteen-year-old Jill Charron wakes up in a hospital room, leg in a cast, stitches in her face and a big blank canvas where the last six weeks should be. She discovers she was involved in a fatal car accident while on a school trip in Italy. A trip she doesn’t even remember taking. She was jetted home by her affluent father in order to receive quality care. Care that includes a lawyer. And a press team. Because maybe the accident…wasn’t an accident.

    As the accident makes national headlines, Jill finds herself at the center of a murder investigation. It doesn’t help that the media is portraying her as a sociopath who killed her bubbly best friend, Simone, in a jealous rage. With the evidence mounting against her, there’s only one thing Jill knows for sure: She would never hurt Simone. But what really happened? Questioning who she can trust and what she’s capable of, Jill desperately tries to piece together the events of the past six weeks before she loses her thin hold on her once-perfect life.

    AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | iTUNES | INDIEBOUND | GOODREADS


    #10

    How to Disappear

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    Title: HOW TO DISAPPEAR
    Author: Ann Redisch Stampler
    Release date: June 14, 2016
    Publisher: Simon Pulse
    Pages: 416
    Formats: Hardcover, eBook

    Description…

    This electric cross-country thriller follows the game of cat and mouse between a girl on the run from a murder she witnessed—or committed?—and the boy who’s sent to kill her.

    Nicolette Holland is the girl everyone likes. Up for adventure. Loyal to a fault. And she’s pretty sure she can get away with anything…until a young woman is brutally murdered in the woods near Nicolette’s house. Which is why she has to disappear.

    Jack Manx has always been the stand-up guy with the killer last name. But straight A’s and athletic trophies can’t make people forget that his father was a hit man and his brother is doing time for armed assault. Just when Jack is about to graduate from his Las Vegas high school and head east for college, his brother pulls him into the family business with inescapable instructions: find this ruthless Nicolette Holland and get rid of her. Or else Jack and everyone he loves will pay the price.

    As Nicolette and Jack race to outsmart each other, tensions—and attractions—run high. Told in alternating voices, this tightly plotted mystery and tense love story challenges our assumptions about right and wrong, guilt and innocence, truth and lies.

    AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | iTUNES | INDIEBOUND | GOODREADS


    The Honorable Mention

    I haven’t been doing honorable mentions this year because I read so few books in 2016. But I just couldn’t leave THE HATERS out. It was so freaking hilarious…

    Acr297196509774415983

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    Title: THE HATERS
    Author: Jesse Andrews
    Release date: April 5, 2016
    Publisher: Amulet Books
    Pages: 336
    Formats: Hardcover, paperback, audio, eBook

    Description…

    From Jesse Andrews, author of the New York Times bestselling Me and Earl and the Dying Girl and screenwriter of the Sundance award–winning motion picture of the same name, comes a groundbreaking young adult novel about music, love, friendship, and freedom as three young musicians follow a quest to escape the law long enough to play the amazing show they hope (but also doubt) they have in them.

    Inspired by the years he spent playing bass in a band himself, The Haters is Jesse Andrews’s road trip adventure about a trio of jazz-camp escapees who, against every realistic expectation, become a band.

    For Wes and his best friend, Corey, jazz camp turns out to be lame. It’s pretty much all dudes talking in Jazz Voice. But then they jam with Ash, a charismatic girl with an unusual sound, and the three just click. It’s three and a half hours of pure musical magic, and Ash makes a decision: They need to hit the road. Because the road, not summer camp, is where bands get good. Before Wes and Corey know it, they’re in Ash’s SUV heading south, and The Haters Summer of Hate Tour has begun.

    In his second novel, Andrews again brings his brilliant and distinctive voice to YA, in the perfect book for music lovers, fans of The Commitments and High Fidelity, or anyone who has ever loved—and hated—a song or a band. This witty, funny coming-of-age novel is contemporary fiction at its best.

    AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | iTUNES | INDIEBOUND | GOODREADS


    The Giveaway


    I’m giving away…

    TWO of any of the hosts Top 10 of 2016 book picks to ONE winner – up to $50 USD

    • Must be 13 or older to enter
    • Giveaway is International to anywhere The Book Depository ships
    • Books will be sent from Amazon (US) or The Book Depository (Int’l)
    • Winner will be contacted by email and announced in the Rafflecopter
    • Winner has 72 hours after email notification to respond or another winner will be chosen
    • Giveaway ends on January 8th at 11:59 p.m. Pacific

    There are no requirements to like or follow, but it is appreciated.

    Enter in the Rafflecopter below…

    a Rafflecopter giveaway


    Link up

    Leave a link to your Best _____ in 2016 posts in the Linky List below…



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    A TOTALLY AWKWARD LOVE STORY Blog Tour: ‘Top Five Awkward Dating Moments, Misunderstandings, or Mishaps’ Guest Post + Giveaway

    A-Totally-Awkward-Love-Story-BT

    I am totally stoked to be today’s stop on the A TOTALLY AWKWARD LOVE STORY Blog Tour. I have an hysterically funny guest post by the authors for my stop, as well as a giveaway for a copy of the book, which releases on May 3rd.TOM & LUCY PHOTOBOOTH-1

    If you haven’t added A TOTALLY AWKWARD LOVE STORY to your TBR pile, now’s the perfect time… Have you done it yet? I can wait…

    Hannah and Sam’s story is so much fun (I laughed so hard there were tears), incredibly awkward at times (the title is not at all misleading), and there are moments that will have you cringing for each of them. It is a super fast read, one you’ll definitely want to read again, with characters you’ll hope get their happily ever after.

    So be sure to add this one to your spring/summer reading lists. But be advised there will be several laugh-out-loud instances – so avoid the late night read next to a sleeping loved one, a public transportation read that will make you look quite mad, or a library read that will get you booted.

    Details about A TOTALLY AWKWARD LOVE STORY and its authors are below, along with Lucy Ivison and Tom Ellen’s top five awkward dating moments. And you can enter the giveaway for a copy of the book in the Rafflecopter form.

    Also, be sure to visit each of the stops on the tour. I’ll be updating the schedule at the bottom of the post with direct links and details for each stop.


    About A TOTALLY AWKWARD LOVE STORY

    A Totally Awkward Love Story

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    Title: A TOTALLY AWKWARD LOVE STORY
    Authors: Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison
    Release date: May 3, 2016
    Publisher: Delacorte Press
    Pages: 320
    Formats: Hardcover, audio, eBook

    Description…

    For fans of The DUFF, this hilarious and true-to-teen romance is Broad City meets Judy Blume.

    The summer before college, Hannah swears she’s finally going to find The One. And for five perfect minutes, Hannah does find him. He’s cute and makes her laugh like crazy. She just wishes she’d caught his name, because Toilet Boy Cinderella really lacks sex appeal.

    For Sam, the summer is off to a bad start for a million reasons. But for five minutes his luck changes: in a fancy restroom painted purple like it belongs in a Bond villain hideaway, Sam falls head over heels for some strange and hilarious girl. Of course, he doesn’t know her name. With his luck, he’ll never see her again, and he’ll remain a girlfriendless, moony-eyed virgin. Forever.

    But another chance meeting brings them together, only to have a chance misunderstanding drive them apart . . . and then the cycle starts all over again. Madcap mishaps, raunchy hilarity, and deep romance follow these two wherever they go. For two people so clearly destined for each other, they sure have a hell of a lot of trouble even getting together.

    AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | iTUNES | INDIEBOUND | PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSEGOODREADS

    Praise

    “An engaging and endearing story of what it is to find your place in the world and a person to share it with.” – Kirkus Reviews 

    “…raunchy, irreverent slapstick in the vein of Louise Rennison’s Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging.” – Booklist

    “There’s raunchy mishaps, total madcap hilarity, and, yes, even some romance. Basically the book will transport you back to your awkward teenage years.” – Bustle

    “A fun romantic comedy.” – School Library Journal


    The Guest Post

    Top five awkward dating moments, misunderstandings, or mishaps

    by Lucy Ivison and Tom Ellen

    1Lucy

    This isn’t really a dating story involving me. Well, it does involve me, but I don’t have a starring role. I don’t think English people go on dates that much, really. I think we are new to the dating thing, which we have only adopted in a halfhearted manner since rom-coms arrived at the cinema. Anyway . . . I wanted to get off with a boy at a party once when I was nineteen. That is the British way of dating. When I got there, although I used my best tactics like dancing in sexy manner to Wham! on the patio, he didn’t seem very fussed and went to another party. Taking it in my stride, I had a few drinks and carried on dancing to Wham! But then I got tired . . . so I wandered off and found a bedroom and fell asleep. I woke up to my best friend, Calypso*, having sex with the boy she had a crush on and had gone to the party hoping to get with. She hadn’t realised I was there because I had burrowed myself into the duvet like a hibernating badger. I was too polite to move. It was awkward. (*Calypso is not her real name.)

    2Tom

    I once asked a girl out in a bar, only to discover that her first name was the same as my surname (Ellen). I was slightly thrown by this at the time, but I was so pleased that she’d given me her number that I didn’t mention it. Then, by about the third date, I thought I had to finally break the news to her that if we ever got married her name would be Ellen Ellen. She found it quite funny, but when we eventually broke up a couple of months later, she did say, “Well, we were never going to get married, were we?” So I’ll always wonder what would have happened if I had a slightly less feminine last name. . . . Interesting side note: I also briefly dated a girl called Selin not long after this incident, so that was another relationship doomed to failure by my ridiculous surname.

    3Lucy

    Tom and I broke up the summer of my second year at university. I had only really ever been out with Tom. Anyway, my friend set me up on a date with someone who was generally considered to be a hottie. We went to see the first Pirates of the Caribbean film—so far, so first date-y. A random thing you also need to know is that it was this super, super hot summer. I am a self-respecting British woman, so obviously never leave the house without seventeen cardigans, but this one time because it was so hot I went out wearing only my carefully selected, brand-new lemon yellow Topshop sundress. At the end of the movie I deliberately raced ahead of everyone else to get to the loo. And then caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and realised I had my period ALL OVER the back of my yellow lemon special. Like I had been shot in the back. I phoned my friend who was on holiday in Majorca, who said quite rationally that she couldn’t really do anything to help, as she was on holiday in Majorca. And then I had to do a period walk of shame back out of the loo and to the boy. We did not go for dinner as planned.

    4Tom

    I went into a pub a while back, and spotted a guy I used to go to school with. He was at a table with a girl, and from their slightly awkward body language it was clear they were on a first date. I went over to say hello, and the guy said, “Hi, Tom, this is Sarah. Sarah, this is Tom.” And the girl said: “It’s Katie.” There followed an extremely awkward silence, and I quickly made my excuses and left them to what remained of their intensely uncomfortable evening. They left pretty soon afterward, and I don’t imagine they’ve seen each other since. . . .

    5Lucy

    I once snuck into a boy’s house at one in the morning. His parents obviously had no idea I was there. Which was all well and good until I suddenly said, “I feel a bit unwell,” and tiptoed across the hall as quietly as possible before locking the bathroom door and proceeding to be extremely loudly and violently sick. For ages. And ages. Until his mother knocked on the door and said, “Marmaduke*, are you okay?” And I had to open the door and reveal it was not her son but a totally random girl puking all over her house. She had to hold my hair and call my parents. (*Marmaduke is not his real name.)


    About the Authors

    Joint Author Photo

    TOM ELLEN AND LUCY IVISION met at the end of high school and quickly became sweethearts. Though they broke up in college, they remain best friends. Lucy runs the online teen magazine Whatever After and teaches in girls’ schools across London, specializing in building confidence and creativity. Tom is a journalist and has written for Time Out, Vice, ESPN, Glamour, and many other publications. They cowrote A Totally Awkward Love Story, which was partially inspired by their own high school relationship. This is their first novel. Follow Lucy on Twitter at @lucyivison.

    LUCY’S TWITTER | FACEBOOK | LUCY’S GOODREADS | TOM’S GOODREADS


    The Giveaway

    Courtesy of the publisher…

    • ONE (1) winner will receive a copy of A TOTALLY AWKWARD LOVE STORY

    ***Giveaway is US only. Prizing will be sent by the publisher.***

    Enter in the Rafflecopter below…

    a Rafflecopter giveaway


    The Tour Schedule

    Week One

    Week Two

    Week Three

    Week Four

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