A murder, or thirteen, and a giveaway too! Read my thoughts and the author’s guest post on #TheBakersvilleDozen by @mcbridekristina

What seems like a fun end-of year game of scavenger hunt may be a murder . . . or thirteen.

The Bakersville Dozen
by Kristina McBride

Sky Pony Press hardcover, also available as an ebook

On Sale: July 18, 2017 | ISBN: 978-1-5107-0805-1

320 pages | Price: $17.99 | Ages 14+

From the painfully high stakes to the heart-pounding timeline, this twisty thriller left me breathless! McBride’s tale hits eerily close to home, too, reminding us how quickly things can turn from bad to much, much worse.” —Natalie D. Richards, author of One Was Lost

The latest heart-pounding thriller from Kristina McBride blends elements of Gone Girl, Pretty Little Liars, and Stephen King into a story that will leave you guessing until the final pages.

Back in September, the town of Bakersville, Ohio, made national news when a video went viral featuring thirteen of the high school’s elite in compromising positions. Now it’s May, and every month since the “Bakersville Dozen” made their infamous appearance on the national stage, one girl has gone missing. Officials are no closer to identifying the criminal.

Bailey “Like a Virgin” Holzman is getting really fed up with the scrutiny. She just wants to enjoy the rest of her senior year, and have an epic summer before heading off to college, so when she discovers a note in her locker on the last day of school inviting her on a scavenger hunt, she thinks it’s just a sweet surprise from her boyfriend trying to cheer her up.

But following the clue leads her, instead, to the first official casualty. And another sinister envelope. The killer is close, and it could be anyone. Even the people Bailey’s always trusted most—her best friend, her perfect boyfriend, or the boy-next-door she’s always pined for.

With the clock ticking, she faces a terrifying choice: play the game by the killer’s rules—follow the clues, tell no one, and no cops—for a chance to save the rest of the missing girls, or risk becoming the next grisly victim.

Mama Says:
My how deceptive this bright, cute little cover was! This is NOT your average ya contemporary, full of sunshine and cupcakes.  Actually there is no cake at all.  Who do I talk to about that?
But I’m getting off the point. The Bakersville Dozen is a gripping read which tackles some tough topics, including some material that may be difficult for younger readers.  However, the author was careful to not be overly graphic or disturbing either.  It was a really great balance between dark and informative, at times even humorous (See more about balance in the guest post below.)
As a mother of a kid with special needs, books about children disappearing can be impossible to read, but that wasn’t the case here, thankfully, and I was able to enjoy the experience, and the tension and suspense, without having a panic attack of my own.
Sometimes, as you’ll see mentioned in the guest post, authors go further than parents would like, so that’s why I like to read middle grade and young adult books.  To stay on top of the current trends in literature, and to escape for myself.  If well written, I’ll take a middle grade fantasy over an adult horror book half the time!
McBride’s plotting and pacing are excellent, building and ebbing at the right times to keep the book from dragging or feeling stopped short.
The characters are fairly complex, though some of the supporters could have used a bit more weight to them, overall I thought this was a good ensemble.  I also felt the use of single POV was a good call, as there is so much information with the case and the scavenger hunt that switching would have been too confusing.
There are some surprises in store, for sure, and you’ll be flipping the pages quickly, though you might not want to read it right before bed, if you scare easily, or jump when someone coughs in a quiet room.

4 stars and my thanks to the author and publisher for the review and discussion opportunity!

About the Author
Kristina McBride is a former high school English teacher and yearbook advisor, as well as an adjunct professor at Antioch University Midwest and Wright State University. She has a thing for music, trees, purses, and chocolate. She is the author of The Tension of Opposites, One Moment, and A Million Times Goodnight. She lives in Ohio with her husband and two young children. Visit her online at kristinamcbride.com or follow her on Twitter @McBrideKristina.

Guest Post by the Author
The term ‘Moral Integrity’ is something I’ve heard in the news often lately, reigniting a question I’ve spent a lot of time pondering: What responsibilities do authors hold when it comes to integrating Moral Integrity in their works? Countless books have been published that depict immoral characters carrying out depraved actions against others. Depending on your appetite for a heart-pumping, palms-sweating, edge-of-your seat read, some of these books can be a ridiculously fun ride. But these types of stories are only fun because they’re not real.

This truth tumbled me right into another. Before an event can occur in reality, it must first exist in someone’s mind as a mere thought. This is one of those universal principles that hold true in almost every scenario you can imagine, right? As an author, especially an author who writes for teen readers, that’s kind of scary. What thoughts are my books planting in the minds of my teen readers? How careful should I be when choosing what I allow my characters to do? How much should I force a story in a new direction if my plot turns more twisted than I intended?

As a former high school English teacher and mother of two middle grade kids, I often feel the need to tone things down, to think twice before including something in a story that might be too dark or edgy. This side of me digs in during revision, trying to soften the blows that my characters carry out against each other.

At the same time, I need to be true to my story, to allow my characters to be exactly who they are without interference, so I have to take a step back and let the story play out uninterrupted. My only option is to let go. So I do. But I’m pretty dark at heart. I love thrillers that amp up the suspense with every page. I’m a die-hard fan of horror, the scarier the better. This means that my own writing tends to veer into dark territory.

The thing is, whether we’re talking about MG or YA, certain kids can handle the darker, edgier books published in their age range. Others cannot. As young readers mature, what they can handle changes, sliding along a personal scale that ranges from “Appropriate” to “Definitely Not.” Because of this, the publishing industry will continue to crank out books that fall along the full spectrum—from the light, easy reads to the dark and edgy—offering stories that will appeal to all types of young readers. When my thoughts hit this point, I gain clarity.

Ultimately, it’s up to parents to decide what each young reader should and should not be exposed to. This can be a tricky endeavor, as it’s hard to keep up with daily life, let alone the fictional lives kids are exposed to through books. But no one knows what a child can and cannot handle better than his or her own parents. I’ll argue that keeping up with what our children are reading might be one of the most important things we do as parents. By reading the same books, a line of communication opens between child and parent that would otherwise be restricted. If we parents let go of our fears, we might find that books offer the opportunity to begin some of the most difficult, yet essential, conversations we will ever have with our kids.  

My views on my responsibility as an author will likely change from year to year, from book to book. But for now, I have no other choice but to trust my mama instinct and follow my author gut. If I listen to both, I’ll find myself somewhere in the middle. As with most things in life, it’s all about balance.

There’s one other universal truth that helps when I’m feeling unsure—stories exist to entertain, to educate, to inspire, to offer an escape from reality, to frame our experiences, and even to allow a reader to experience something “bad” without actually playing that experience out in reality. If my readers follow along as my characters make poor choices, maybe that will inspire them to make better choices in the future.

Kristina McBride
http://kristinamcbride.com

A special thanks to Skyhorse Publishing, who provided an extra copy of the book especially for one of you, dear readers! Just comment on this post and let me know if you’re following me, and the author, for bonus points! Winner on September 30, US and CA only, please.  Cheers!
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The beautiful #Brave cover is here from @jlarmentrout and we’ve got Signing, Preorder, and Giveaway details!

SYNOPSIS:

Ivy Morgan hasn’t been feeling like herself lately. Not like anyone can blame her. After all, being held captive by a psychotic fae prince hell-bent on permanently opening the gates to the Otherworld is bound to leave some mental scars.

It’s more than that, though. Something dark and insidious is spreading throughout Ivy, more powerful than she could ever imagine… and it’s coming between her and the man she’s fallen deeply in love with, elite Order member Ren Owens.

Ren would do anything to keep Ivy safe. Anything. But when he makes a life altering choice for her, the fallout of his act has far reaching consequences that threaten to tear their lives apart.

If Ivy is going to have any hope of surviving this, she must put aside the hurt and betrayal she feels, and work with not only those she loves, but with an enemy she would rather kill than ever trust. War is coming, and it soon becomes clear that what Ivy and Ren thought they knew about the Order, themselves, and even their enemies, has been nothing but a cluster of dangerous, deadly lies. Ivy knows she must be more than just brave to save those she loves–and, ultimately, to save herself.

Because behind ever evil fae Prince, there’s a Queen

Series: The Wicked Trilogy, Book # 3

RELEASE DATE: December 11th, 2017

Available Formats: Paperback (U.S./Canada) and E-book

PRE-ORDER LINK: Amazon: http://amzn.to/2fwiarG

To celebrate the upcoming release of BRAVE (book 3 in the Wicked Saga), Jennifer is offering an exclusive virtual signing!Through this virtual signing, you will be able to order SIGNED & PERSONALIZED copies of WICKEDTORN, and BRAVE!

And best of all — This is OPEN INTERNATIONALLY! 

 DIRECT LINK: http://www.apollyconevent.com/jla-brave-virtualsigning/

– Virtual Signing opens 9/21/17 at 11AM ET

– Virtual Signing ends 11/17/17

– Open Internationally

BIO:

# 1 NEW YORK TIMES Bestselling author Jennifer lives in Martinsburg, West Virginia. All the rumors you’ve heard about her state aren’t true. When she’s not hard at work writing. She spends her time reading, working out, watching really bad zombie movies, pretending to write, and hanging out with her husband and her Jack Russell Loki.

SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS:

Website: https://jenniferlarmentrout.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JenniferLArmentrout

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JLArmentrout

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jennifer_l_armentrout/

·      PRIZE: SURPRISE SIGNED PRIZE PACK (containing multiple signed books & swag)

·      OPEN INTERNATIONAL

·      ENDS 10/2/17

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/5230417f183/

How can you really tell when someone is lying to you? Read our 4star #review of #LietoMe by JT Ellison @thrillerchick @tlcbooktours

About Lie to Me

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: MIRA (September 5, 2017)

Domestic noir at its best. Readers will devour this stunning page-turner about the disintegration of a marriage as grief, jealousy, betrayal and murder destroy the facade of the perfect literary couple. New York Times bestselling author J.T. Ellison takes her exceptional writing to a new level with this breakout novel. 

They built a life on lies 

Sutton and Ethan Montclair’s idyllic life is not as it appears. They seem made for each other, but the truth is ugly. Consumed by professional and personal betrayals and financial woes, the two both love and hate each other. As tensions mount, Sutton disappears, leaving behind a note saying not to look for her.

Ethan finds himself the target of vicious gossip as friends, family and the media speculate on what really happened to Sutton Montclair. As the police investigate, the lies the couple have been spinning for years quickly unravel. Is Ethan a killer? Is he being set up? Did Sutton hate him enough to kill the child she never wanted and then herself? The path to the answers is full of twists that will leave the reader breathless.

“LIE TO ME twists you up, throws you into nail-biting action and unexpected revelations. Belt yourself in for this roller coaster ride.”–Catherine Coulter, #1 New York Times bestselling author of ENIGMA

“LIE TO ME brilliantly combines a domestic noir thriller with a searing portrait of two writers trapped in a web of lies, betrayals, and murder. Sharply written and masterfully plotted, full of hard truths about the creative life and modern marriage, Ellison has written her finest novel- a breakout page-turner certain to win her a wide audience.” -Jeff Abbott, New York Times bestselling author of BLAME

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Purchase Links

Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble

Mama Says:

While I might be a fledgling thriller fan, this novel was wholly unique among the page turning sort, and I am still swimming in the flood of thoughts after the last page.  This story isn’t just a mystery, or just a psychologically twisted journey, it’s a mirror and a beacon in one, it’s a call to arms for those not quite sure what midlife really looks like anymore, and who am I anyway?
Through a back-and-forth narrative, with multiple points of view, Ellison gives us a glorious circus in which much back stabbing and word-twisting ensues, and she provides the popcorn too.
If you’re looking for this weekend’s reading material, stop right here and either borrow or buy your copy of Lie to Me, then get one for your friend too because you are going to want someone to talk to immediately after finishing.
It’s one of those perfectly delicious novels that you are almost afraid to talk about, but once you start you won’t stop.
Thanks again to Harlequin MIRA and TLC Book tours for the review opportunity!

4stars

About J. T. Ellison

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author J.T. Ellison writes standalone domestic noir and psychological thriller series, the latter starring Nashville Homicide Lt. Taylor Jackson and medical examiner Dr. Samantha Owens, and pens the international thriller series “A Brit in the FBI” with #1 New York Timesbestselling author Catherine Coulter. Cohost of the Emmy Award-winning show, A Word on Words, Ellison lives in Nashville with her husband.

Connect with J. T.

Website | Facebook | Twitter

I’m stoked to show y’all the new cover for #SinisterSoulsandDeadThings by @MartinaMcAtee1

Title: Sinister Souls & Dead Things
Author: Martina McAtee     
Genre: YA Paranormal Romance

 

Blurb:
Seventeen-year-old Ember Lonergan has made her pack a promise: To go after their enemies before their enemies can come for them. It was a bold statement that she has no idea how to back up. She hasn’t mastered driving on the highway, much less how to take down a hostile system of government. What’s worse, half her pack is crazy, and the other half is broken…possibly forever.

 

But none of that matters anymore. Ember isn’t just Ember anymore. Ember and her cousins are the prophesied Trinity, foretold to take down the druids and break the curse that’s plagued witches and reapers for centuries. The Oracle has been gathering their allies—laying the groundwork for their return—for decades, but all of that work is destroyed in an instant when Ember’s betrayed by somebody she thought she could trust.
  
Alliances are crumbling. Humans are missing. People are dying. The High Inquisitor has arrived. Witches have taken over the school, and they are instituting new policies every day.
Their new message is clear:
If you fight for the Trinity, you burn with the Trinity.
Martina McAtee lives in Jupiter, Florida with her teenage daughter, her best friend, two attack chihuahua’s and two shady looking cats. When she isn’t writing young adult books about worlds with reapers, zombies, werewolves and other supernatural creatures she’s reading or watching shows that involve reapers, zombies, werewolves and other supernatural creatures. Her debut novel Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things released in August of 2015. Her second book in the Dead Things series, Dark Dreams and Dead Things, will release July 15, 2016.
Author Links:
Facebook: www.facebook.com/MartinaMcAtee1

Buy Links:
Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things: http://amzn.to/1Z4L4NH
Dark Dreams and Dead Things: http://amzn.to/1Z4KVtH


Get Under the Covers with @EliseKova and get the skinny on the new book, preorder swag and more!

THE ALCHEMISTS OF LOOM is on Sale!

To celebrate the final book in the Loom Saga, the first book, THE ALCHEMISTS OF LOOM, is on sale! The eBook is on sale for $3.99 (regular price – $6.99).

AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | IBOOKS | KOBO | GOOGLE PLAY \

~AND NOW, THE GRAND REVEAL~

Title: The Rebels of Gold

Series: The Loom Saga (Book Three) – Final book!

Release Date: December 5, 2017

 

 

Preorder Swag:

For those who preorder THE REBELS OF GOLD, they can get exclusive swag for submitting their preorder. More info here: http://elisekova.com/pre-order/

Pre-order THE REBELS OF GOLD from:

AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | BOOK DEPOSITORY | BOOKS A MILLION |

Synopsis:

A new rebellion rises from the still-smoldering remnants of the five guilds of Loom to stand against Dragon tyranny. Meanwhile, on Nova, those same Dragons fight amongst themselves, as age-old power struggles shift the political landscape in fateful and unexpected ways. Unlikely leaders vie for the opportunity to shape a new world order from the perfect clockwork designs of one temperamental engineer.

This is the final installment of USA Today bestselling author Elise Kova’s Loom Saga, THE REBELS OF GOLD will reveal the fate of Loom’s brilliantly contrasting world and its beloved inhabitants.

Books in the Loom Saga:

  1. THE ALCHEMISTS OF LOOM
  2. THE DRAGONS OF NOVA
  3. THE REBELS OF GOLD

The Lost Causes tour featuring review and giveaway from Rockstar Book Tours and KCP Loft

Title: THE LOST CAUSES

Author: Jessica Etting & Alyssa Schwartz

Pub. Date: September 5, 2017

Publisher: Kids Can Press

Pages: 344

Formats: Hardcover, eBook

They’re the kids that no one knows — or no one wants to know. The rich depressive, the OCD chick, the hypochondriac, the drug abuser, the athlete with anger management issues. All chosen for intensive group therapy because they’re out of other options. They’re lost causes, the therapist tells them. She promises this support group will help them heal. 

There’s only one problem. She’s not a therapist. And that water she offers? It contains a dangerous serum that gives each of the kids a psychic power. 

Suddenly, they can think clearly, speak to ghosts, see the past, even move objects with their mind. Their earlier problems have vanished, but their new freedom comes with a price. 

Sabrina, Gabby, Z, Justin and Andrew are to help the FBI solve the grisly murder that has rocked their small town. Their new powers will help them uncover clues and follow leads that have eluded the authorities. Their outsider status gives them the perfect cover. 

But the same traits that make them top investigators also make them vulnerable. As they close in on the murderer, they expose a much larger conspiracy that puts them directly in harm’s way and makes them wonder who — if anyone — they can trust.

Find it: AmazonB&NTBDGoodreads

Mama Says:
The Lost Causes is definitely one of the most unique books I’ve read in quite some time.  It strikes out into so many genres and tropes that it’s hard to really pin it down, but it’s generally sold as urban fantasy mixed with scifi, and that’s fairly accurate if you don’t count the police drama/mystery side of things.  See what I mean?!
If I had to pick my favorite thing about the book, it would be the fact that the authors really made an effort to convey the idea that it doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from, you have the chance, and the choice, to do something for the greater good, or to help out even one person, and it can make a real difference.
Though I did have some issues with the timing, and explanations, behind several aspects of the book, I can suspend belief for the sake of a scifi thriller.  There were definitely some screenplay vibes here, so the authors’ experiences in this arena really came into play.
Quickly paced, and with a wildly diverse group of young people who will keep you guessing, The Lost Causes is the eerie read you didn’t know you were looking for!
Thanks to Rockstar Book Tours and KCP Loft for the review opportunity!

About Jessica and Alyssa:

Hi, we’re Jessica & Alyssa!

We’re best pal writing partners who have been obsessed with reading since we each used to hoard The Babysitters Club books in our bedrooms across the country from one another in Los Angeles (Jess) and Virginia (Lyss).

We finally met on the first day of college at USC, long enough ago that Rocket Dog platform flip-flops were fully acceptable night-out shoes and our biggest life decision was whether to watch Dawson’s Creek or Beverly Hills, 90210 on Wednesday nights (90210, obviously).

​We started writing together right after college when we took the “write what you know” adage to heart and wrote a TV pilot that sold to Fox about how life sucks when you’re 22, broke and a freshman in life. We spent the next many, many years writing for TV and film before we jumped into the book world, a major lifelong dream of ours.

​The number one question everyone always asks us is how we write as a team so here’s the rundown…After being best friends and writing together for so long, our brains now officially occupy a shared space. Ninety percent of the time, we know what the other person is going to say before she even opens her mouth. Our husbands think it’s creepy, but we think it’s awesome. After this many years, we’ve honed it to a pretty efficient process….except for when we digress on Facetime to catch each other up on the few hours we weren’t in contact with each other (which takes especially long if we’ve both finished the same book and need to discuss, if one of us needs justification for an argument we picked with our husband or if we’ve discovered a new hair product, self-tanner or blog).

Website |  Twitter | Facebook | Intstagram 

Enter the Giveaway!

(3) winners will receive a finished copy of THE LOST CAUSES, US & Canada.

Ends on September 19th at Midnight EST!

 

Epic cover reveal and excerpt from @authorcaseybond for her new Cinderella Retelling #RichestoRags

Title: Riches to Rags
Author: Casey L. Bond
Genre: YA Epic Fantasy, Fairy Tale Retelling (Cinderella)
Editor: Stacy Sanford/ The Girl with the Red Pen
Cover Designer: Melissa Stevens/ The Illustrated Author Design Services
Publication Date: Nov. 3rd, 2017
Blurb:
Most girls dream of being princesses, but one princess just wants to be a normal girl.
Ella Carina, crown princess of Aelawyn, knows brutality and lies—she’s seen the way her father rules. Princess. Possession. To her father, the words had the same meaning. She was only as valuable as the alliance formed with her betrothal. Her freedom comes from an unlikely place: an attack on the castle.
When the conquering King offers to protect her from the betrothal her father arranged for political gain, she consents. Hiding her within a peasant family is the only way to keep her and her secret safe.
In this simpler life, Ella flourishes and catches the eye of the local Blacksmith’s son. For once, she can be herself and make her own choices, but the life of a princess—even one kept secret—was never meant to be easy.
Trevor, crown prince of Galder has been searching for Ella, but not because of their betrothal. She is in grave danger from the very people who hid her away. His plan is to show her the truth and help her to safety.
Nothing goes as planned. When Trevor finds her, it’s to discover she’s fallen in love with a peasant. Now he has two goals: help her regain her throne… and show her that she belongs with him.


Award-winning author Casey L. Bond resides in Milton, West Virginia with her husband and their two beautiful daughters. When she’s not busy being a domestic goddess and chasing her baby girls, she loves to write young adult and new adult fiction.You can find more information about Bond’s books via the following links:



I was in my room, lost in my own worries, when the world as I knew it was torn to shreds.
My room was large, and with only a bed and wardrobe inside, it was far too spacious than anything I needed. But it was also my sanctuary. It had to be. Father didn’t allow me to leave the space without an escort, and only then when he gave me permission, which wasn’t often. I considered myself lucky to have a window until that day.
The horrors I saw from that window would stay with me forever.
Sitting quietly in the alcove, watching the comings and goings of the villagers, was how I learned the ever-changing styles in fashion and beauty, how gentlemen and ladies were to properly act, and how some acted very improperly when they thought no one was watching.
The day the Kingdom of Aelawyn fell, I was watching and envying the lives of her people.
Nothing seemed amiss as three large, covered wagons approached the front gate. The man driving the horses that pulled the lead wagon shouted to the guard atop the gate, announcing that they carried supplies, taken from another forest raid. They were granted immediate entry, Father’s guard raising the portcullis for them.
One by one, the wagons crept into the yard. As soon as the gate slammed back to the ground behind the third wagon, a loud whoop sounded. The guards were stunned, so much so that it took far too long for them to spring into action and defend the castle. The wagon canvases were torn to shreds as a small army, clad in armor and donning swords, shields, and all manner of weaponry, unfolded from the wagons and began to slash their way across the yard.
They did not take time to discern villager from soldier, male from female, innocent from guilty.
A river of blood flowed in their wake, draining between the cobblestones. They were so skilled and efficient in battle that they entered the castle before any alarm could be raised to stop them. In no time, they’d taken the castle itself.
Copyright Casey L. Bond




Read an #exclusive #excerpt from #IfTheresNoTomorrow by queen @jlarmentrout from @harlequinteen and @tlcbooktours

We are so excited to announce a 2-part tour for the release of best selling author Jennifer L. Armentrout’s latest, If There’s No Tomorrow!

Follow along the excerpt tour beginning in August, with long excerpts in consecutive order at each tour stop, followed by a review tour beginning on 9/5, release day!

About If There’s No Tomorrow

Hardcover: 384 pages

Publisher: Harlequin Teen (September 5, 2017)

Lena Wise is always looking forward to tomorrow, especially at the start of her senior year. She’s ready to pack in as much friend time as possible, to finish college applications, and to maybe let her childhood best friend Sebastian know how she really feels about him. For Lena, the upcoming year is going to be epic—one of opportunities and chances.

Until one choice, one moment, destroys everything.

Now Lena isn’t looking forward to tomorrow. Not when friend time may never be the same. Not when college applications feel all but impossible. Not when Sebastian might never forgive her for what happened.

For what she let happen.

With the guilt growing each day, Lena knows that her only hope is to move on. But how can she move on when she and her friends’ entire existences have been redefined? How can she move on when tomorrow isn’t even guaranteed?

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Purchase Links

Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble

Exclusive Excerpt:

We spent way too long taking random selfies with everyone at the pool and all around the property, sending them to Dary from all our phones. Her initial amused responses had died, and knowing her, she was probably getting super annoyed by the twentieth selfie, which kind of made it all the more entertaining.

Later, Kevin did a grab-and-twirl with Abbi, who appeared horrified by his outfit but I could tell she was also reluctantly amused by it. She wiggled free, groaning about how much of an idiot he was while smiling. Megan eventually roamed off, joining Phillip and another guy on the other end of the pool.

“Is she really thinking about getting back with him?” I asked Abbi.

“Who knows?” She sighed. “God, I hope not. They’re like the Selena Gomez and Justin Bieber of Clearbrook.”

“Except no one wants them to get back together?”

A loud laugh burst out of Abbi. “So true.”

Looking around the backyard, telling myself I wasn’t looking for Sebastian, I spotted Cody by the grill, cup in hand and surrounded by the rest of the guys. “When did he get here?”

“Who—oh. No idea.” Abbi straightened her hot pink sunglasses. “A lot of people have just randomly shown up. It’s crazy.”

We walked over to the cooler. Abbi grabbed a soda as I fished a water bottle out of the ice. “So Sebastian says he wants to talk to me later.”

“About?” She popped the lid on her can.

“I have no idea. Usually he’s not so evasive. But I’m thinking it’s about the obvious, you know?”

Abbi was quiet for a moment and then she said, “You saw Skylar’s Instagram post from last night, right?”

Knots filled my stomach. “Yeah.”

“Maybe he’s planning to get back with Skylar,” she said, and I sighed. “He might want to tell you they’re getting back together. I hate to say that, but after the whole kissing thing, he probably thinks he should say something to you about it,” she said, pushing her sunglasses up as a cloud covered the sun.

“Well, he and Skylar do make the perfect couple.” I glanced at the guys. Keith was thrusting his hips and smacking the air with one hand.

“You and Sebastian would make a perfect couple.”

I suddenly wanted to throw myself under the bushes. “I don’t want to think about this anymore. It’s annoying—I’m annoying myself. For real.” I turned to Abbi. “I’m literally driving myself crazy.”

“Then you should find some hot dude to pass the time with until you leave for college.”

“Now you sound like Megan,” I said. “But maybe I will find someone to pass the time with. Preferably a hot dude who likes to read and is interested in history.”

“That sounds like relationship material. I was just talking about Netflix and chill.” Her tone was dry. “Let’s not get ahead of ourselves.”

I laughed as I took a sip of water.

Abbi turned as Megan danced her way over to where we stood. She stopped in front of us, shoving her sunglasses up. “Guys, you’re not going to believe what I just heard.”

“What?” I asked, happy for the distraction.

Excitement buzzed in Megan’s voice. “Griffith and Christie just left with Steven to meet up with some shady ass dudes from the city to buy coke.”

I lowered the water bottle. I was so not expected that to be what she was going to tell us.

“Not surprising,” muttered Abbi. “Didn’t they do that in July? Christie got all kinds of messed up. Keith almost called 911.”

Megan’s mouth dropped open. “You knew about this? Is it something regular they do?”

“Regular enough that they’re going to get it now apparently,” she shot back.

I was still stuck on the whole randomly leaving to buy coke thing, like they were going to the store to pick up some chips and dips.

Jesus, that seemed hardcore.

I wasn’t naive, but I was surprised that they were the ones going to get stuff. Really, I would have been surprised if anyone I knew was doing coke or heroin.

“Well, hell.” Megan looked down at her red cup. It had been refilled. “Phillip is thinking about trying it tonight. Like, he almost left with them. Can you believe that?”

Abbi curled her lip. “Idiot.”

“Right?” Megan took a drink. “I’m going to go yell at him. Be back later.”

My brows rose as I watched her walk away. “That’s…wow.”

“Do you think Keith does it?”

I tucked my hair back behind my ear. “I didn’t even know they did, so I have no idea.”

“Well that would explain the speedos,” she said with a heavy sigh. “You would have to be high to think that was a good idea.”

I giggled. “So true.”

“Hey.” Sebastian’s voice was in my ear a second before his arm curled around my shoulders. A puff of air left me. His warm, hard chest pressed against my back. A tight wave of shivers curled down my spine as heat blasted my face. “Where’ve you been?”

Abbi stared at me, brows raised.

I quickly focused on the pool. “I’ve been right here. Where’ve you been?”

“Everywhere,” he replied, and he turned me around. The baseball cap was on backwards again. Our faces were inches apart, nearly as close as we were at the lake. So close I could smell the faint trace of beer on his breath. “So, I have this idea. It involves me. And it involves you…getting wet.”

My mouth dropped open as my mind belly flopped into the gutter.

Oh my God.

“Really?” Abbi chirped. “I cannot wait to hear more about this idea.”

Oh. My. God.

He grinned as he reached over and plucked the sunglasses off my face. He put them on top of his head. “Well, I’m more of a show versus tell kind of person.”

All I could do was stand there and stare at hi, because I felt like I slipped into some alternate reality; the kind that existed in the super adult romance books I read, where public declarations of love were abundant and happy endings were promised. I couldn’t look away from his heavily lidded eyes that were so blue they almost seemed unreal. We were so close, I could see the one tiny freckle he had under his right eye.

“What are…?” I whispered, completely losing my voice.

Sebastian dipped his chin as he slid his arms down my back, hooking me around the waist. He drew me up against him, and my heart was beating at a near deadly pace.

This was actually happening. Surrounded by our friends, this was actually happening.

His head tilted to the side, and our mouths were lined up. “Lena, Lena, Lena.”

My eyes drifted shut, and I felt his warm breath on my lips. Every muscle in my body tightened. I was breathless with anticipation, want and need.

It was happening and this time it would end differently.

About Jennifer Armentrout

# 1 NEW YORK TIMES and USA TODAY Bestselling author Jen Armentrout lives in West Virginia.

When she’s not hard at work writing, she spends her time, reading, working out, watching zombie movies, and pretending to write. She shares her home with her husband, his K-9 partner named Diesel and her hyper Jack Russell Loki. Her dreams of becoming an author started in algebra class, where she spent her time writing short stories, therefore explaining her dismal grades in math. Jennifer writes Young Adult Contemporary, Urban Fantasy/Paranormal and Romance. She writes New Adult and Adult romance under the pen name J.Lynn.

She is the author of the Covenant Series (Spencer Hill Press) the Lux Series (Entangled Teen) and the upcoming YA Don’t Look Back (2014) and untitled YA (Fall 2014) from Disney/Hyperion. She is also published with Harlequin Teen and HarperCollins.

Connect with Jennifer

Website | Facebook | Twitter

(Don’t) Ban This Book! Review, guest post and giveaway from @alangratz and @jeanbooknerd

Synopsis 
 

An inspiring tale of a fourth-grader who fights back when her favorite book is banned from the school library–by starting her own illegal locker library!

It all started the day Amy Anne Ollinger tried to check out her favorite book in the whole world, From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, from the school library. That’s when Mrs. Jones, the librarian, told her the bad news: her favorite book was banned! All because a classmate’s mom thought the book wasn’t appropriate for kids to read.

Amy Anne decides to fight back by starting a secret banned books library out of her locker. Soon, she finds herself on the front line of an unexpected battle over book banning, censorship, and who has the right to decide what she and her fellow students can read.

Reminiscent of the classic novel Frindle by Andrew Clements for its inspiring message, Ban This Book is a love letter to the written word and its power to give kids a voice.

GUEST POST – Favorite Banned Book

From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg

I love this book so much. When I was a boy, I was inspired by From the Mixed-up Files to try to run away from home like Claudia and Jamie to live somewhere else. But because I lived in Knoxville, Tennessee, and not New York City, my plans were a little more pedestrian–I was going to run away to live in West Town Mall! (They do have beds there after all, in the department stores!) I even went so far as to buy a map of the city to see how far away it really was, and to try saving up for taxi fare. I never did run away though. I think I ended up buying the Star Wars Degobah playset with that money instead. 🙂

Synopsis

When suburban Claudia Kincaid decides to run away, she knows she doesn’t just want to run from somewhere, she wants to run to somewhere — to a place that is comfortable, beautiful, and, preferably, elegant. She chooses the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Knowing her younger brother Jamie has money and thus can help her with a serious cash-flow problem, she invites him along.

Once settled into the museum, Claudia and Jamie find themselves caught up in the mystery of an angel statue that the museum purchased at auction for a bargain price of $225. The statue is possibly an early work of the Renaissance master, Michelangelo, and therefore worth millions. Is it? Or isn’t it? 

Claudia is determined to find out. Her quest leads her to Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, the remarkable old woman who sold the statue, and to some equally remarkable discoveries about herself.

Mama Says:
I’m not sure I have all that much to add to the wonderful praises being sung about this book, but I’ll give it a go, because it’s more than deserving.
Middle grade novels often get dismissed as too juvenile, or not juvenile enough.  It’s like you can’t win! But with Ban This Book, you get a wonderful story full of powerful ideas, and they’re presented in a format and style that is kid friendly, yet enjoyed by all.  To truly gain the heart of your readers, you need to give them characters they can root for, and you’ll definitely find yourself on Amy Anne’s team in no time.
Furthermore, it’s important to have a unique voice, as I’ve said often and will always say, and Gratz certainly has nailed this particular technique.  I’m already anxious to dive into his other works after thoroughly enjoying this one!
If you’ve ever questioned why someone else feels they have the right to say what you can or can’t do, or think, or, you know, READ, then this book is for you.  If you haven’t questioned this, read it anyway and start asking these questions!

Thanks to Starscape/Tor and JeanBookNerd for the review opportunity!
 
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
 
Alan Gratz‘s first novel, Samurai Shortstop, was named one of the ALA’s 2007 Top Ten Best Books for Young Adults. His second novel, Something Rotten, was a 2008 ALA Quick Pick for Young Adult Readers, and was followed by a sequel, Something Wicked, in October 2008. His first middle grade novel, The Brooklyn Nine, was one of the ALA’s Top Ten Sports Books for Youth and Top Ten Historical Books for Youth, and his middle grade Holocaust novel Prisoner B-3087 was one of YALSA’s 2014 Best Fiction for Young Readers and has won seven state awards. His latest novels are the YA thriller Code of Honor, a YALSA 2016 Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers, and The Monster War, the third book in his middle grade steampunk League of Seven trilogy.

Alan’s short fiction has appeared in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, online at Tor.com, and in the anthologies Half-Minute Horrors and Tomo: Friendship Through Fiction, which benefitted victims of the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami.

As the first Artist in Residence at the American School in Japan in 2010, Alan spent six weeks teaching historical fiction-writing to middle school students in Tokyo, and he was the Thurber House Children’s Writer in Residence in 2011, living and writing in James Thurber’s attic for a month while working with young writers from all around the Columbus, Ohio area.

In addition to writing plays, magazine articles, and a few episodes of A&E’s City Confidential, Alan has taught catapult-building to middle-schoolers, written more than 6,000 radio commercials, sold other people’s books, lectured at a Czech university, and traveled the galaxy as a space ranger. (One of these, it should be pointed out, is not true.)
Alan was born and raised in Knoxville, Tennessee, home of the 1982 World’s Fair. After a carefree but humid childhood, Alan attended the University of Tennessee, where he earned a College Scholars degree with a specialization in creative writing, and, later, a Master’s degree in English education. He now lives with his wife Wendi and his daughter Jo in the high country of Western North Carolina, where he enjoys playing games, eating pizza, and, perhaps not too surprisingly, reading books.

Photo Credit: Wes Stitt

– 10 Winners will receive a Copy of BAN THIS BOOK by Alan Gratz-

The Dire King @willothewords Tour with #review and #giveaway from @the_ffbc and @algonquinyr

 

The Dire King (Jackaby #4)
by William Ritter
Release Date: August 22nd 2017

Genre: Young Adult, Mystery, Historical Fiction
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
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Synopsis: The thrilling conclusion to the New York Times best-selling series the Chicago Tribune called “Sherlock Holmes crossed with Buffy the Vampire Slayer” sends the eccentric detective and his indispensible assistant into the heart of a war between magical worlds.

The fate of the world is in the hands of detective of the supernatural R. F. Jackaby and his intrepid assistant, Abigail Rook. An evil king is turning ancient tensions into modern strife, using a blend of magic and technology to push Earth and the Otherworld into a mortal competition. Jackaby and Abigail are caught in the middle as they continue to solve the daily mysteries of New Fiddleham, New England — like who’s created the rend between the worlds, how to close it, and why zombies are appearing around. At the same time, the romance between Abigail and the shape-shifting police detective Charlie Cane deepens, and Jackaby’s resistance to his feelings for 926 Augur Lane’s ghostly lady, Jenny, begins to give way. Before the four can think about their own futures, they will have to defeat an evil that wants to destroy the future altogether.

The epic conclusion to the New York Times best-selling Jackaby series features sly humor and a quirky cast of unforgettable characters as they face off against their most dangerous, bone-chilling foe ever.

About the Jackaby series

 

“A little Dr. Who, a little Harry Potter, and a lot of Sherlock, New York Times bestselling author Will Ritter’s Jackaby series has thrilled YA readers with magic, mystery and adventure since the first book introduced us to a supernatural sleuth and his trusty assistant. In The Dire King: A Jackaby Novel (on sale August 22), Ritter sends the series out with a bang, with even more mystery, romance, and the most epic battle yet.” 

“A humorous, energetic, action-packed, and magical conclusion.”
 —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

Ritter’s debut novel Jackaby (a New York Times bestseller and 2015 Pacific Northwest Book Award winner) introduced readers to R.F. Jackaby, a quirky detective with a knack for the supernatural; Abigail Rook, his skeptical and observant assistant; Jenny Cavanaugh, the ghostly landlady of 926 Augur Lane; and Charlie Cane, a shape-shifting police officer. Beastly Bones and Ghostly Echoes followed the crime-solving team from their home in New Fiddleham to the depths of the underworld as they uncovered more clues about the evil forces behind Jenny’s murder.

A great book can do many things, but it can’t bring back the dead.  Except for when it can.
The Dire King had many surprises inside, even if some events were foreshadowed so many times in the previous books that it was rather like that brick that hit that dude in the face.  A wholly satisfying conclusion, with the same dry humor and wit along with supernatural hijinks we’ve come to love from Jackaby and Rook, plus some developments that are not entirely unexpected with Charlie and Jenny.
This is one of those series that I will definitely be reading again.  At times light hearted, and at times full of dread and despair, The Jackaby novels are fascinating studies in the depths of human compassion through the lense of young adult paranormal mystery.
You’ve seen it billed as Sherlock meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but I think it’s more Sleepy Hollow meets Sherlock meets Veronica Mars.  Abigail Rook is one of my favorite literary heroines, and she’ll fast become yours too, you can bet on it!
Just, be careful you don’t bet an Unseelie Fae because their price might be too steep.
I highly recommend this series to any of you who are curious about paranormal but don’t like the books heavy on romance, though there is just a tetch of it here.
Furthermore, I insist you let me know how much you love the books when you do read them! Comment anytime!

Thanks so much to Algonquin Young Readers and FFBC for the review opportunity!

 

 

 “Fight the monsters, then, Phillip. Don’t fight the innocent bystanders who happen to come from the same place. You’re not afraid of magic, not really. You’re just afraid of what you don’t understand – and too stubborn to try understanding.”

“This world doesn’t need showy champions. It needs people who are good, people who do good, even if nobody will ever know.”

WILLIAM RITTER is an Oregon educator and author of the New York Times bestselling Jackaby series. He is the proud father of the two bravest boys in the Wild Wood, and husband to the indomitable Queen of the Deep Dark.