Excerpt & Giveaway: Independently Wealthy by Lorraine Zago Rosenthal

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On December 2nd, Lorraine Zago Rosenthal’s third novel released. Independently Wealthy is a follow up to Lorraine’s second novel New Money, but it can also be read as a stand alone. Today I have an excerpt of the book and am offering a giveaway.

Independently WealthySummary (From Goodreads):

In New Money, Savannah Morgan was thrust into high-society New York when she learned she was the sole heir to her father’s billion-dollar fortune. In Independently Wealthy, she is living her dream life on the Upper West Side, excelling at her job as an editorial assistant, and enjoying her handsome new boyfriend, Alex.

Everything in Savannah’s life should be perfect—but she can’t ignore the questions and scandal surrounding her father’s fatal accident. Her hopes of solving this mystery are shared by Caroline Stone—her newfound sister who is slowly becoming a friend. Savannah decides to investigate, although not everyone wants her to discover the truth. Her domineering older brother, Ned, has his own problems, including a lingering regret over his recent divorce, the constant pressure of running the Stone media empire, and managing a playboy bachelorhood. As Savannah’s quest for justice becomes complicated and dangerous, she is led to Washington, D.C., an alluring stranger, and more surprises, trouble, and changes than she ever could have imagined.

Lorraine Zago Rosenthal 2014About the author:

LORRAINE ZAGO ROSENTHAL was born and raised in New York City. She is a graduate of the University of South Florida, and earned a Master’s in English from Northern Kentucky University. Lorraine’s debut novel, Other Words for Love, was published in 2011, and her second novel, New Money, was published in 2013. Currently, she lives near Cincinnati, Ohio with her husband.

 

 

 

 

A portion of chapter 1:

One

 “It’s true,” I said as I gazed at the gilded statue of Prometheus, the massive tree dotted with colored lights, and the swarm of people in winter coats who were skating across the ice. “Manhattan really is the best place to be for Christmas.”

 “It sure is,” Alex said, “especially when I’m with the most beautiful woman in the city.”

 He was sitting across from me at a table beside a window in the Rock Center Café, which was filled with a Saturday-night dinner crowd and the sound of Christina Aguilera singing “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.”

 I grinned while I admired Alex’s thick, dark hair and the broad shoulders beneath his black sweater. The white lights framing the rink sparkled in his blue eyes.

 He flashed me a smile and turned his attention to a waitress who’d just arrived at our table. He gave his order while I glanced around the casual but upscale restaurant that had chairs covered in beige leather and walls decorated with Andy Warhol’s art. I was studying one of the paintings when the waitress asked if Alex wanted an appetizer before his entrée.

 “No, thanks,” he said, handing her his menu.

 I frowned. He’d gotten better at accepting gifts from me, but he still tried to be a cheap date whenever I insisted that dinner was my treat.

 “A big boy like you,” I said, “needs a healthy meal. Get an appetizer.”

 It took a moment for him to let out a chagrined laugh. “Yes, ma’am,” he said finally. Then we put in our orders, the waitress left, and Alex reached across the table to pinch my cheek. “You’re trying to fatten me up, Savannah.”

 I shook my head, thinking of all the times he’d walked into my bedroom after a shower, wearing nothing but a towel and glittering beads of water on his skin. “I wouldn’t do that. I’m much too fond of the way you look right now.”

 He smiled shyly. “So your mother and Tina are flying in soon?”

I nodded and took the lemon wedge off my glass. “In ten days … they’ll be here Christmas morning. My office is closing early the night before and won’t reopen until January second, so I’ll have plenty of time to spend with them. And Mom can’t wait to meet you.”

 Alex’s smile widened as the waitress returned with a shrimp cocktail for him and a crab cake for me. I started eating, but he didn’t.

 “What’s wrong?” I asked.

 “Nothing, actually,” he said. “Ever since we got back together, I’ve felt happier than I have in years.”

 I reached out to squeeze his arm. “That’s so sweet.”

 He put his hand over mine. “Like I’ve said before … if it weren’t for you, I wouldn’t be a published author.”

 I smiled, thinking about his short story inside the pages of a literary journal. The story had come out earlier this month, and I’d had it framed for him. I’d done the same for my first story in Femme. “You give too much credit to me and not enough to yourself,” I said, sitting back in my chair. “It’s great work, and it deserved to be published. Was your dad impressed?”

 Alex shrugged. “I couldn’t tell. He seemed more interested in my brother’s new stockbroker job on Wall Street. I don’t know … I just wish my mother was alive to see me finally doing something with my writing.”

 “She still sees,” I said.

 He gave me a faint smile. “Of course my father had to remind me that one publication doesn’t make a career.” He glanced out the window at a row of novice skaters limping past. “But maybe his cynicism will crack when I tell him about my new job.”

 I raised an eyebrow, surprised. “What new job?”

 He looked at me. “I didn’t want to say anything until it was definite … and it’s really no big deal … but I got hired at an advertising agency. I’ll just be a proofreader, and I only landed the position because I know a senior copyeditor there … I met him at the gym. But he saw my story in the journal and knew I wanted a better job than bartending, so he used the publication and my degree to get me in. I’ll be proofing TV copy … and I start right after New Year’s.”

 I clasped my hands together. “That’s fantastic, Alex. I don’t know much about advertising agencies, but which one is it?”

 “Fletcher, Cole, Goddard and Bristol,” he said so quickly that the names ran together. “Fletcher Cole for short. It’s on Madison Avenue … and it’s a prestigious agency. I’ll have a more stable schedule and I might make some acting contacts … who knows.”

 “Fletcher Cole,” I repeated, imagining how delectable he’d look heading off to work in a suit each morning and sipping a Gibson Martini at his desk every afternoon—even though workplace drinking had been outlawed decades ago and the agency’s dress code was probably business casual. Still, my Mad Men fantasy was so sexy, I just had to indulge it.

 I slipped my cell out of the Gucci purse I’d bought last July. “I’m so happy for you … and Mom will be, too. I have to call and tell her.”

 He reached across the table and gingerly extracted the phone from my fingers. “I don’t want to brag. Your mother will think I’m an arrogant jerk before we’ve even met.”

 I smiled and dropped the phone back into my purse. “You’re not even close to being a jerk. But I understand … so I’ll tell just her when she’s here. And I’m very proud of you.” I stood up, walked toward him, and leaned down to plant a kiss on his mouth while Mariah Carey sang “All I Want for Christmas Is You.

 The song was stuck in my head when we walked into my darkened apartment later that night. I’d finally given in and hired a cleaning lady—but only because I’d been working so much that I didn’t have time to vacuum and dust—and she’d banished the stench of Tina’s Marlboros. Now the place smelled fresh and clean like the Norway spruce in a corner of the living room, beside my windows that overlooked Central Park.

 I flipped a switch. The tree brightened with blinking white lights that made the silver tinsel on the branches shimmer. There were lots of boxes underneath—presents for Mom and Tina and Alex—wrapped in dark-blue foil and tied with silver bows.

 “Oh,” I said with a gasp as I stood there in my coat. “Isn’t it pretty?”

 Alex nodded and pulled me toward him. “Just like you.”

 The cold leather on his jacket rubbed against me when he pressed his lips to mine. We stayed there for a while, just kissing in the middle of the room as the Christmas lights twinkled. His mouth was so warm and he kissed so well, but I remembered something that made me take a step back.

Copyright © 2014 by Lorraine Zago Rosenthal

Giveaway Details:

One copy available for a US entrant only
Leave a comment to enter
Only one comment per entrant
Giveaway open until 12/15/14
Winner will be emailed
Do not leave your address in the comments; I will request that in the email

Blog Tour Stops:

12/1       JENNIFER VIDO                                                 ‘TOP PICKS’ + GIVEAWAY

12/1       CHICK LIT CENTRAL                                          ‘BOOKSHELF’

12/1       THE BEVY BIBLIOTHEQUE                              REVIEW + GIVEAWAY

12/2       BOOK MAMA                                                         REVIEW + GIVEAWAY

12/2       THE READING DATE                                         EXCERPT + REVIEW

12/2       JENNIFER VIDO                                                 EXCERPT

12/3       A SOUTHERN GIRLS BOOKSHELF                EXCERPT + GIVEAWAY

12/3       DEW ON THE KUDZU                                      ‘SPOTLIGHT’

12/4       RATHER BE READING                                      REVIEW + GIVEAWAY

12/5       LUXURY READING                                            GIVEAWAY

12/6       HARLEQUIN JUNKIE                                        ‘SPOTLIGHT’

12/8       BOOKS IN THE BURBS                                     INTERVIEW + GIVEAWAY

12/9       YA LOVE                                                                  EXCERPT + GIVEAWAY

12/10     CHAPTER CHICKS                                              EXCERPT + GIVEAWAY

12/11     THE HIDING SPOT                                            REVIEW + INTERVIEW

12/12     DREAM WITHIN A DREAM                            EXCERPT + INTERVIEW + GIVEAWAY

12/15     JUMP INTO BOOKS                                         EXCERPT + GIVEAWAY

12/16     INKBITTEN                                                          REVIEW

12/17     WILLA’S RAMBLINGS                                      REVIEW + INTERVIEW

12/18     WINDOW SEAT ON A RAINY DAY               ‘SPOTLIGHT’ + GIVEAWAY

12/18     WRITE MEG!                                                      REVIEW

12/19     KAYLA’S READS AND REVIEWS                   EXCERPT

12/22     THE READING FRENZY                                    ‘SHOWCASE’ + INTERVIEW

If you have any additional questions for Lorraine, head over to her Goodreads profile here: http://bit.ly/1B70IzC!

Join me at NCTE!

On Thursday morning I leave for my fifth annual National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) trip. This year it’s in Washington DC (National Harbor) and I’m both excited and a little nervous, too. I’m nervous about leaving Jack for a few days, but I know he’ll be in good hands while I’m gone. I’m mostly excited, however, because I love being surrounded by passionate English teachers and authors. Usually at this point in the school year I need a pick-me-up. Since I’m returning to work after NCTE, I think it will be a great way to make me even more excited about coming back to work.

This year I’ll be presenting for the third time. Both of my sessions are on Friday. It will be nice to get them over with in one day so I can relax and enjoy the rest of my trip. I’m really looking forward to the session I’m co-chairing with Jillian Heise. Here’s the information from the program; we’d love to see you there!

C.02 How Story Comes to Be: Author/Editor Relationships
Maryland A

In rotating roundtables, authors and their editors share methods of working together in drafting and revising to create stories (in middle
grade, young adult, and professional books). As they work with student writers, teachers can model interactions after these author/editor
relationships to provide guidance and support in communicating their stories.

Co-chairs: Jillian Heise, Indian Community School of Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Sarah Andersen, Fenton Area Public Schools, Michigan

Tradebook Authors:

Miranda Kenneally, Sourcebooks, New York, New York
Karen Harrington, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, New York, New York
Jennifer Rush, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, New York, New York
Jason Reynolds, Simon and Schuster, New York, New York
Atia Abawi, Penguin Young Readers Group, New York, New York
Kevin Emerson, Walden Pond Press, New York, New York
Jennifer Lynn Barnes, Disney Book Group, New York, New York
Trish Doller, Bloomsbury Publishing, New York, New York
Wendelin Van Draanen, Random House Children’s Books, New York, New York
J. A. White, HarperCollins Children’s Books, New York, New York
Christopher Lehman, Christopher Lehman Consulting, New York, New York
Kate Roberts, Teachers College, Columbia University, New York, New York
Christopher Paul Curtis, Scholastic, Inc., New York, New York

After this session I’m presenting again in a research strand. I’m working with Luke Rodesiler, Meenoo Rami, Gary Anderson, Brian Kelley, and Cindy Minnich. We originally wrote the session to be an individual one, but NCTE changed it and made it part of a large research strand roundtable session. Here’s the information about the overall session and our roundtable.

D.42 Research Roundtable 3–Research about Teacher Education
Woodrow Wilson A

The roundtables in this session showcase research about teacher learning spanning the career. From pre-service education to professional development and beyond, the roundtables offer complex and varied studies centered on how teachers learn to teach for and across a range of contexts.

Roundtable 3: “It Makes My Practice Deeper”: Stories of Teachers’ Professionally-Oriented Participation Online
Luke Rodesiler, University of South Florida, Tampa
Sarah Andersen, Fenton Area Public Schools, Michigan
Meenoo Rami, Science Leadership Academy, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Cindy Minnich, Upper Dauphin Area High School, Elizabethville, Pennsylvania
Brian Kelley, Patton Middle School, Pennsylvania
Gary Anderson, EMC Publishing, LLC, St. Paul, Minnesota

Luke interviewed each of us for his dissertation and together we wrote an article for the English Journal based on pieces of his dissertation. I greatly admire this group of teachers and am honored to present with them. Our group has much to offer, so I hope to see some of you at our roundtable if you’re attending NCTE. :)

This is going to be a great annual convention! I’d love to know if you’ll be attending as well, so let me know in the comments.

Maternity Leave Reading

I started the school year on maternity leave unfortunately. Thankfully I have an amazing sub! Despite not working, however, reading hasn’t been the same since Jack was born. I’ve been trying to listen to more audiobooks since that’s often the only way I can experience a book right now. I have been able to read a few books though.

Since time is a huge commodity right now, and since I REALLY miss blogging, I’ve decided to write some quick reviews about what I’ve read since Jack was born. I’d also love to get some audiobook recommendations since I know I’ll be listening to those even more than I normally do. I like listening to them while I’m feeding Jack in the middle of the night or when he and I are out and about. It’s good for him to hear the audiobooks as well since it will add to the vocabulary he’s exposed to.

What I’ve Read:

Blood of My Blood by Barry Lyga (Goodreads): This is the third (and I’m guessing last) book in the I Hunt Killers trilogy. Let me tell you, it is SO GOOD. And SO INTENSE. Jack was sleeping pretty much all day for the first couple weeks so I had a little more time to read and was able to finish this. Barry Lyga knows how to write a gripping murder mystery. My seniors last year loved these books so much that one of them emailed me a week before this released (September 9th) to find out the official release date so he could buy it. There are plenty of twists and turns that I wish I could bring up, but I don’t want to spoil anything for you. If it’s been a while since you’ve read Game, you might want to revisit the last chapter or two because Blood of My Blood picks up right where that left off. Read this trilogy!

Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira (Goodreads): I bought this book a couple nights before Jack was born because I’ve read so many positive reviews and because of the comparison to The Perks of Being a Wallflower. So many of my seniors last year loved Perks, so I’m positive my group of seniors this year will enjoy this book as well. Personally, I thought Perks was just an okay book. It didn’t resonate with me like it has with my students, but I really liked Love Letters to the Dead. I listened to this and thoroughly enjoyed the narration. This is an audiobook that I could listen to and relax. The narrator’s voice is soothing and really fits Laurel. The story is written as a series of letters to a few famous dead people and through these letters we understand Laurel better. We also understand her sister and her relationship with her sister better as well. I definitely recommend this one.

What I’m Reading:

Complicit by Stephanie Kuehn (Goodreads): If I didn’t have Jack, I would have read this book in one sitting. I was hooked immediately, but unfortunately I don’t have time right now to just sit back and read for hours. Jamie is an intriguing character and although I’m only halfway through, I have some suspicions about what might really be going on in Jack’s life. This will be a popular title when I return to work.

Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer (Goodreads): I still haven’t read The Bell Jar, but I’m really curious about Sylvia Plath and really enjoy reading books that are about her or are inspired by her work. Belzhar is one of those books and thanks to Penguin, I’ve been thoroughly enjoying the audiobook. The narrator is perfect for Jam, although sometimes I have a hard time distinguishing the voice for her male characters. Belzhar is another story of grief, but it has an interesting twist that I predict will engage quite a few of my students. I’m *this close* to finishing it. Jack and I need to go for a walk so I can listen to the last twenty minutes or so.

The Devil You Know by Trish Doller (Goodreads): If you haven’t read any of Trish Doller’s books then you’re missing out on excellent books. This is her third book and it doesn’t release until June 2015. I’m so thankful to have received an ARC of this already and will certainly write a full review of it once I’m finished. I’m reading it now because Trish is part of the NCTE session I’m co-chairing with Jillian Heise. Plus, it’s a Trish Doller book and there’s no way I can let it sit unread. I’m about 100 pages in right now and the mystery part of the plot is coming together. I value sleep more than I ever have before, but The Devil You Know is so good I’ve been reading instead of napping when the chance arrives. Add this to your TBR list if you haven’t already.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE Cover Reveal and ISLA AND THE HAPPILY EVER AFTER Giveaway!

I’m very excited to be part of Denise Jaden’s cover reveal for her upcoming release Foreign Exchange. This is extra exciting for me because one of my students connected with Denise a few years back after reading Losing Faith. Through this connection, my student started reading parts of Foreign Exchange as a beta reader and Denise used her name for a character in the book (Tristan Bishop). So cool! :)

Thank you, Denise, for letting me take part in the cover reveal and the giveaway of your copy of Isla and the Happily Ever After!

Here are a few of Denise’s thoughts on Foreign Exchange and its cover…

I’m so incredibly excited to share my cover of Foreign Exchange with you! This book holds a very special place in my heart. I wrote it during a very difficult year of my life, and the characters and their stories were a real bright spot for me.

Because this book is so important to me, I’m giving away something VERY important to me to go along with this cover reveal. I was fortunate enough to receive an early copy of the highly-anticipated Isla and the Happily Ever After by one of my all-time favorite authors, Stephanie Perkins. ISLA and Foreign Exchange are both romances with swoon-worthy boys, and they’re both set partially in Europe. So I want one lucky person to receive my advanced copy of ISLA in to get you excited for Foreign Exchange!

Read on, check out my cover, and read the first chapter of Foreign Exchange below. It’ll all help you in earning extra entries to win my copy of Isla and the Happily Ever After!

And here is the beautiful cover…

 

Jamie Monroe has always played it safe. That is, until her live-for-the-moment best friend, Tristan, jets off to Italy on a student exchange program. Left alone with her part-time mother and her disabled brother, Jamie discovers that she is quite capable of taking her own risks, starting with her best friend’s hotter-than-hot older brother, Sawyer. Sawyer and Tristan have been neighbors for years, but as Jamie grows closer to the family she thought she knew, she discovers some pretty big secrets.

 

As she sinks deeper into their web of pretense, she suspects that her best friend may not be on a safe exchange program at all. Jamie sets off to Europe on a class trip with plans to meet up with Tristan, but when Tristan stops all communication, suddenly no one seems trustworthy, least of all the one person she was starting to trust—Sawyer. 

 

 “Foreign Exchange is a fresh contemporary YA that will keep readers compulsively turning pages until the very end. Combining international intrigue with a steamy forbidden romance makes for a can’t miss read.”

 – Eileen Cook  Author of Year of Mistaken Discoveries. 

“A pitch perfect voice and delicious chemistry kept me turning those pages!”

- Tara Kelly, author of Amplified and Encore

“Foreign Exchange is heart pounding and suspenseful…the teenage dream of escaping the boredom of suburbia by travelling Europe and spending quality time with a hot guy shifts into a dangerous nightmare.”

 – D.R. Graham, author of Rank and the upcoming Noir et Bleu MC series.

 

One of the entries in the Rafflecopter below will ask you a question from the above chapter!

This contest is open internationally!

Don’t forget…this copy of ISLA could be yours…

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

* Note – If you cannot access the Rafflecopter Widget through this blog, access it HERE.

We Are the Goldens Blog Tour: Teen Writing Advice

Dana Reinhardt’s newest novel, We Are the Goldens, released on Tuesday. To celebrate this release she’s participating in a five day blog tour. As an English teacher and reading enthusiast, I asked her to share some writing advice for teens. Her advice is spot on! This post doesn’t necessarily advertise We Are the Goldens, but it adds to the already great impression Dana has made as an admirable YA author.

P.S. This is a powerful book that you’ll want to read and share with your readers! I’ll post my review soon :)

We Are The GoldensSummary (From Goodreads):

Nell knows a secret about her perfect, beautiful sister Layla. If she tells, it could blow their world apart.

When Nell and Layla were little, Nell used to call them Nellaya. Because to Nell, there was no difference between where she started and her adored big sister ended. They’re a unit; divorce made them rely on each other early on, so when one pulls away, what is the other to do? But now, Nell’s a freshman in high school and Layla is changing, secretive. And then Nell discovers why. Layla is involved with one of their teachers. And even though Nell tries to support Layla, to understand that she’s happy and in love, Nell struggles with her true feelings: it’s wrong, and she must do something about it.

**Dana Reinhardt’s Writing Advice for Teens**

I don’t consider myself to be in the advice business, though it was a career I contemplated at an early age. When I was a teenager I went through a phase of forgoing People in favor of Psychology Today at the newsstand. I remember Lucy in the Peanuts comic strip sitting in her little booth with the sign “ADVICE 5 cents” or alternately “Psychiatric Help 5 cents”. She always looked forlorn and lonely, chin in hand, waiting for customers who never showed. Maybe this is part of what ultimately discouraged me from a career in psychology, though I have to believe the rigors of medical school also played a role. So I went back to reading People.
But advice for teen writers? I guess that’s something I can handle. Something about which I might have something to say. It isn’t anything earth-shattering. I don’t have a magic solution, nothing like: Use the force, Luke. My advice is simple, and it’s the same advice most writers give to young people who want to write:

READ.

Read everything. Read to know what you love and read to know what you don’t. Find the writers who speak to you and ask yourself why this is the kind of book you hold close to your chest and part with only to lend to a kindred soul who will love this story the way you do. Find the writers whose stories ring false, the sorts of stories where you can almost hear the click-clacking of the writer’s keyboard because he never fully inhabited the world his characters do. Read to know the genre where you feel at home, and then read outside of that genre because great writing transcends genre.
Here’s my second piece of advice. Again, nothing particularly new:

WRITE.

Write all the time. Write in a journal. Write letters to your friends. Write stories or poems or blog entries or, why not try writing a novel? So what if it only amounts to ten pages? At least you tried. And when you write, remember not to follow any of the rules you’ve learned in English class. (Sorry, English teachers!) Don’t pay attention to punctuation or fragmented sentences. And speaking of sentences, don’t think about topic sentences or supporting sentences or concluding sentences. Break every rule you know. Do not play it safe. Write like nobody will ever read what you’ve written but you. Don’t think of an audience. Don’t wonder what would my English teacher say about this? (Sorry, again, English teachers.) And then, when you have something you’re proud of, show it to someone. Maybe that friend with whom you shared that treasured book.

You are lucky. You have loads of time to find your voice. You can fail spectacularly. In fact, you must fail spectacularly. And when you do, go outside and get some fresh air. Do something fun. And then, pull out a blank piece of paper (or open up a new document on your desktop screen) and try again.

Dana Reinhardt

**Author Info**

Dana Reinhardt’s website
Follow her on Twitter

Review: The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay

The Sea of TranquilityTitle: The Sea of Tranquility

Author: Katja Millay

Publisher: Atria Books

Release Date: June 4th, 2013 (paperback)

Interest: ALA Alex Award Winner / Contemp

Source: Publisher

Summary (From Goodreads):

I live in a world without magic or miracles. A place where there are no clairvoyants or shapeshifters, no angels or superhuman boys to save you. A place where people die and music disintegrates and things suck. I am pressed so hard against the earth by the weight of reality that some days I wonder how I am still able to lift my feet to walk.

Full of rage and without a purpose, former pianist Nastya Kashnikov wants two things: to get through high school without anyone discovering her past and to make the boy who took everything from her pay.

All 17 year-old Josh Bennett wants is to build furniture and be left alone, and everyone allows it because it’s easier to pretend he doesn’t exist. When your name is synonymous with death, everyone tends to give you your space.

Everyone except Nastya, a hot mess of a girl who starts showing up and won’t go away until she’s insinuated herself into every aspect of his life. The more he gets to know her, the more of a mystery she becomes. As their relationship intensifies and the unanswered questions begin to pile up, he starts to wonder if he may ever learn the secrets she’s been hiding or if he even wants to.

The Sea of Tranquility is a slow-building, character-driven romance about a lonely boy, an emotionally fragile girl, and the miracle of second chances.

OhMyGosh. I’m sorry (well, not sorry) that I’m going to gush all over this review because this book is absolutely fantastic. The publisher approved The Sea of Tranquility for me over the summer via NetGalley and for some reason I started it but didn’t finish it. I’m so glad the librarian in my building asked me to read some of the Alex Award winners to help her decide which ones to add to the library. I was in one of my moody reader moods on Friday and decided to pick up Katja Millay’s debut again to see if it would perk me up and also to help out our librarian. It did that and more.

Since I found out I was pregnant in January, I haven’t been able to read a book in one sitting without falling asleep. The Sea of Tranquility is 448 pages long and I read the entire book in almost one sitting without falling asleep. It’s incredibly engaging and engrossing. I can hardly explain how attached I am to the characters in this book. I woke up in the morning thinking about Josh and Nastya wondering how their story would end. Some reviewers say that the story starts out slow, but I disagree. I really can’t remember why I set it down over the summer, but I know it wasn’t because it’s slow.

But speaking of slow, Josh and Nastya’s relationship grows slowly–there’s no insta-love. Instead we really get to know Josh and Nastya as they get to know each other. I loved watching them navigate their feelings for each other since they’re both very guarded and hesitant to let anyone into their lives. I don’t know if this is weird to say, but I felt myself falling in love with them as I read their story. We get to read from both of their point of views, but I still wanted to know more about Nastya just like Josh did. Katja Millay wrote such real characters that I felt their emotions with them. She gave them depth and emotion and so much heart that I teared up multiple times while reading.

I do want to mention a warning that’s placed at the end of the Goodreads summary that I chose to eliminate from my review. It warns the reader about the mature content in the story. I know that’s one of the reasons why my librarian asked me to read The Sea of Tranquility before she added it to the circulation. I really don’t think the warning is necessary. Yes, there’s profanity, but I don’t think there’s an excess of it. There’s a lot of sexual innuendo and joking, but there isn’t anything graphic included in terms of sex. There’s a scene which includes drugs, but again, it’s nothing that really shocked or alarmed me. All of it fit the characters and the situations in the novel. I always recommend reading a novel before handing it to students and this is no different. I did, however, order myself a copy for my students when I was only 40% through because I felt that confident about it.

I really hope Katja Millay writes another book soon. I’d even be happy if she chose to write a sequel. ;) I’m so impressed with her debut that I’ll automatically add her next book to my TBR list. The Sea of Tranquility is a new favorite and has been added to my limited list of books that I would happily read more than once.

The Sea of Tranquility read alikes (titles & authors): Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, Fall for Anything & Cracked Up to Be by Courtney Summers, Virtuosity by Jessica Martinez, Where the Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller

Top Ten New-To-Me Authors I Read in 2013

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish

This post is actually difficult to write because despite my list, many of the books I read this year are written by authors I’ve read before. I consider that a good thing because it means former debut authors and new-to-me authors have continued to impress me. I’d love to know which authors are on your list! Hopefully we’ll share some similarities. Hopefully I’ll discover even more authors!

Top Debut Authors:

Hilary T. Smith–Wild Awake has engaging characters and beautiful writing. I hope she writes another book soon!

Rainbow Rowell–Eleanor & Park is Rowell’s debut YA release which rocked my world. Seriously. I LOVE that book.

Hollis Seamon–Somebody Up There Hates You surprised me in a great way. It was fun to read despite being a “cancer” book.

Robin Constantine–As soon as I finished reading The Promise of Amazing I wanted to read another one of Robin Constantine’s books. It’s too bad this hasn’t even released yet because that means I have to wait even LONGER for her next book.

Jessica Verdi–She tackles a big issue in My Life After Now without getting preachy. Plus, it’s an issue not enough found in YA. Win, win.

Aaron Hartzler–Rapture Practice is a great example of YA memoir while also being a fabulous and relevant story.

K.A. Barson–45 Pounds is a fun book that many of my readers will relate to. Plus, K.A. Barson is a Michigan author!

Top New-to-Me Authors:

Benjamin Alire Saenz–I can’t begin to explain how beautiful Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe is.

Jo Knowles–So technically Jo Knowles isn’t new to me since I read Lessons From a Dead Girl a few years ago. I’m including her on this list because I read three of her other books this year and loved all of them. I feel like I truly discovered her this year.

Amy Reed–I loved reading Over You and now want to read everything Amy Reed writes.

Amazon Kindle Daily Deal: Truly, Madly, Deadly by Hannah Jayne

Sourcebooks Fire is excited to announce that Hannah Jayne’s debut novel Truly, Madly, Deadly is an Amazon Daily Kindle Deal for $1.99! This book sounds really suspenseful and intriguing, so I jumped on this offer.

Today I have for you the summary of Truly, Madly, Deeply and a playlist Hannah Jayne created for her book.

Truly, Madly, DeadlySummary (From Goodreads):

They Said It Was An Accident…

Sawyer Dodd is a star athlete, a straight-A student, and the envy of every other girl who wants to date Kevin Anderson. When Kevin dies in a tragic car crash, Sawyer is stunned. Then she opens her locker to find a note:

You’re welcome.

Someone saw what he did to her. Someone knows that Sawyer and Kevin weren’t the perfect couple they seemed to be. And that someone—a killer—is now shadowing Sawyer’s every move…

A Truly, Madly, Deadly Playlist created by Hannah Jayne

H. Jayne 2012 headshot(1)There is so much emotion in TRULY, MADLY, DEADLY that the playlist had to reflect the same. Love, danger, terror – the book is packed with it and the playlist is, too!

        1.       Aftermath Lifehouse
2.      My Song Knows What You Did in the Dark Fallout Boy
3.      Time-Bomb All Time Low
4.      Fighter The Fray
5.      Ready Set Go Outasight
6.      Nobody Listen Lifehouse
7.      Flagpole Sitta Harvey Danger
8.      Run Don’t Walk Hey Monday
9.      If I Lose Myself Tonight One Republic
10.  Hey Beautiful Seven Foot Wave
11.  Stuck In The Middle Boys Like Girls
12. 
Brave  Sara Bareilles

Aftermath is slow and a little dark; it reminds me of Kevin’s funeral. The lyrics, “If we can make it through the storm/become who we were before/promise me we’ll never look back,” haunt Sawyer as she walks up the Anderson’s stairs.

Besides being the best song title ever, My Song Knows What You Did in the Dark fits Sawyer and Kevin’s dangerous relationship. Sawyer walks down the hill the night of Kevin’s death. His words are drowned out by the pulse of this song – “So light ‘em up, up, up/Light ‘em up, up, up/I’m on fire.”

 Time Bomb – “it was like a time bomb set into motion” – is Maggie’s and Sawyer’s first run-in, that Monday after the funeral.

I imagine Lucas looking so forlorn as he walks down the hall – I hear Fighter playing behind him: “Maybe we were meant to be lonely, lonely/maybe we were meant to be on our own.”

Ready Set Go is upbeat and fun, the perfect getting ready for the game song.

Sawyer’s run in with Mr. Hanson is intense – Nobody Listen – intense. “Everybody talk/Nobody listen/Nobody listen…”

Sawyer runs to the beat of Flagpole Sitta. Can’t you just hear her sneakers pounding out, “paranoia, paranoia/everyone is coming to get me/just say you never met me”?

Sawyer reads the second note with trembling breath, and the song Run Don’t Walk pulses through the hallway.

If I Lose Myself Tonight and Hey Beautiful filter out of a house party – calm, sweet lyrics before the storm.

Sawyer’s father drags her home and she’s terrified, looking over the destruction of her new baby sister’s nursery. She hears Stuck In The Middle, the words, “I know things’ll get better/Hold it together/Take your time.”

Finally, during the last few paragraphs, we hear Brave: I wonder what would happen/if you say what you want to say/and let the words fall out/Honestly/I want to see you brave.”

The baby’s nursery
Stuck In the Middle Boys Like Girls
I know things’ll get better
Hold it together
Take your time
Stuck in the middle

The end
Brave Sara Bareilles
I wonder what would happen
If you say what you want to say
And let the words fall out
Honestly, I want to see you be brave
The second note
Nobody Listen Lifehouse

Wipe Your Eyes Maroon Five
Better With You Kris Allen
Shouldn’t Come Back Demi Lovato
I Choose U Timeflies
Ready Set Go Outasight (the football game)
Time-Bomb All Time Low
Run, Don’t Walk Hey Monday
Aftermath

Waiting on Wednesday–More Than This by Patrick Ness

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine.  It’s designed for bloggers to spotlight the upcoming releases that they simply can’t wait to read.

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Patrick Ness is an auto-buy author.  I love his writing, his stories, and his creativity.  This upcoming release sounds fantastic and like it will be utterly engaging.  I can’t wait to read it!

More Than ThisTitle & Author: More Than This by Patrick Ness

Release Date: September 10th, 2013

Publisher: Candlewick Press

Summary (From Goodreads):

From two-time Carnegie Medal winner Patrick Ness comes an enthralling and provocative new novel chronicling the life — or perhaps afterlife — of a teen trapped in a crumbling, abandoned world.

A boy named Seth drowns, desperate and alone in his final moments, losing his life as the pounding sea claims him. But then he wakes. He is naked, thirsty, starving. But alive. How is that possible? He remembers dying, his bones breaking, his skull dashed upon the rocks. So how is he here? And where is this place? It looks like the suburban English town where he lived as a child, before an unthinkable tragedy happened and his family moved to America. But the neighborhood around his old house is overgrown, covered in dust, and completely abandoned. What’s going on? And why is it that whenever he closes his eyes, he falls prey to vivid, agonizing memories that seem more real than the world around him? Seth begins a search for answers, hoping that he might not be alone, that this might not be the hell he fears it to be, that there might be more than just this. . . .

Review: Wild Awake by Hilary T. Smith

Wild AwakeTitle: Wild Awake

Author: Hilary T. Smith

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books

Release Date: May 28th, 2013

Interest: Contemporary / Debut Author

Source: ARC received from the editor

Summary (From Goodreads):

Things you earnestly believe will happen while your parents are away:

1. You will remember to water the azaleas.
2. You will take detailed, accurate messages.
3. You will call your older brother, Denny, if even the slightest thing goes wrong.
4. You and your best friend/bandmate Lukas will win Battle of the Bands.
5. Amid the thrill of victory, Lukas will finally realize you are the girl of his dreams.

Things that actually happen:

1. A stranger calls who says he knew your sister.
2. He says he has her stuff.
3. What stuff? Her stuff.
4. You tell him your parents won’t be able to—
5. Sukey died five years ago; can’t he—
6. You pick up a pen.
7. You scribble down the address.
8. You get on your bike and go.
9. Things . . . get a little crazy after that.*
*also, you fall in love, but not with Lukas.

Both exhilarating and wrenching, Hilary T. Smith’s debut novel captures the messy glory of being alive, as seventeen-year-old Kiri Byrd discovers love, loss, chaos, and murder woven into a summer of music, madness, piercing heartbreak, and intoxicating joy.

To put it simply, I just loved Wild Awake by Hilary T. Smith.

Smith’s writing is lively and beautiful.  I almost never take notes when I’m reading a book because it distracts me, but I had to write down multiple sentences and paragraphs while reading  Wild Awake.  If I didn’t want to stop, I took a picture of what I was reading so I would remember it when writing this review.  Here are a few of the sections I wanted to remember (quotes taken from the ARC):

“His smile is a jar full of fireflies.”

“…I feel more exposed than I ever have before, like I’m climbing a rock face with only a strand of dental floss for a harness. The music we’re playing is a dripline straight from our hearts, a confession of all that we are.”

“…I’ve traded in a jar full of pennies for a bar of gold.  It’s amazing how quickly the things you thought would make you happy seem small once you stumble on something true.”

Hilary T. Smith has lines like those woven throughout her entire novel.  I absolutely love her similes and metaphors.

Along with loving the writing, I adore Kiri Byrd.  She is alive on the page.  I simultaneously worried about Kiri while wanting to be her friend and spend time with her.  I worried for her because she is grieving over her sister and what she discovers about her sister.  I also worried for her because she’s manic and dealing with it all by herself.  (Note–I knew something was mentally wrong with Kiri, but didn’t think of mania–I have no idea why not–until Kelly @ Stacked pointed it out in her review, which is great by the way.)  What’s awesome about Wild Awake is that I never felt like I was reading a novel about grief.  I understood Kiri’s grief and empathized with her, but I never felt down while reading this.  I think the main reason I didn’t feel down is because Kiri is so exuberant.  Even at times that she shouldn’t be, she is full of life and wonder and wanting the best for herself and for Skunk.

Speaking of Skunk, his character is wonderful.  He and Kiri are both suffering, but they’re life rafts for each other.  He’s her “bicycle boy,” her “love-bison,” and so much more.  Kiri sees his potential and wants to help him heal.  I don’t want to say too much more because I’m afraid I’ll spoil something, but I sure do love Skunk.  Especially Skunk and Kiri together.

A couple people have asked me if Wild Awake would be okay for middle grade readers, and I’m honestly not sure.  There isn’t anything graphically sexual in this novel, but the themes and issues are deep.  I’m not sure if a middle grade reader would grasp what exactly is going on with Kiri and Skunk.  My best advice is to read this–because you’ll hopefully enjoy it anyway–then make your decision based on what you know about your readers.  I feel completely comfortable offering this to new freshmen in the fall, if that helps at all.

Wild Awake by Hilary T. Smith is a must-read.  Based on this debut, I know that Hilary T. Smith is going to be an exciting voice in YA literature.  I can’t wait to read what she writes next!

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