Author Guest Post: Character Playlist from A Mirror in the Sky by Aditi Khorana


Mirror in the Sky by Aditi Khorana has been such a fun book to read this summer; I can’t wait to share it with my students this fall! This debut released on June 21st and would make a great addition to your classroom library.

I don’t know about anyone else, but I often hear songs and think about books that they should play in if such a thing could happen. The fact that Aditi Khorana created a playlist that Tara’s mom, Jennifer, would love is awesome.

9781595148568Summary (From Goodreads):

An  evocative debut, perfect for fans of Tommy Wallach’s  We All Looked Up, about the discovery of a mirror planet to Earth and how it dramatically changes the course of one Indian-American girl’s junior year.

“Beautifully written, surprising and poignant.”
—Lynn Weingarten, New York Times bestselling author of Suicide Notes from Beautiful Girls

For Tara Krishnan, navigating Brierly, the academically rigorous prep school she attends on scholarship, feels overwhelming and impossible. Her junior year begins in the wake of a startling discovery: A message from an alternate Earth, light years away, is intercepted by NASA. This means that on another planet, there is another version of Tara, a Tara who could be living better, burning brighter, because of tiny differences in her choices.

The world lights up with the knowledge of Terra Nova, the mirror planet, and Tara’s life on Earth begins to change. At first, small shifts happen, like attention from Nick Osterman, the most popular guy at Brierly, and her mother playing hooky from work to watch the news all day. But eventually those small shifts swell, the discovery of Terra Nova like a black hole, bending all the light around it.

As a new era of scientific history dawns and Tara’s life at Brierly continues its orbit, only one thing is clear: Nothing on Earth–or for Tara–will ever be the same again.

MIRROR IN THE SKY Character Playlist – Jennifer

From Aditi: Jennifer is the ultimate child of the 80s. Thinking about that era that makes her feel safe and happy; it was a time when her parents were still alive. It also represents a time when she lost her parents and spent the remaining years of her youth studying to become a ballerina as she moved from one relative’s home to another

 Time After Time – Cyndi Lauper
Aditi Khorana [AK]: This song makes Jennifer think of her parents.

Our Lips Are Sealed – The Go-Go’s
[AK]: Jennifer thought Belida Carlisle had the best sense of style when she was younger

Come On Eileen – Dexy’s Midnight Runners
[AK]: Catchiest song on the planet.

Billie Jean – Michael Jackson
[AK]: Michael Jackson’s dance moves were inspirational to Jennifer, then an aspiring dancer.

Take On Me – a-ha
[AK]: This was Jennifer’s favorite music video when she was a kid.

Jessie’s Girl – Rick Springfield
[AK]: Who doesn’t love this song?

Enjoy the Silence – Depeche Mode
[AK]: Jennifer’s first concert was a Depeche Mode concert.

All Through the Night – Cyndi Lauper
[AK]: Another Cyndi Lauper song that reminds Jennifer of dancing with her mother.

We Got the Beat – The Go-Go’s
[AK]: Because the Go-Go’s were the coolest lady band of the 80s.

Bette Davis Eyes – Kim Carnes
[AK]: Because Jennifer has Bette Davis eyes.

Eye of the Tiger – Survivor
[AK]: Jennifer listened to this song (from the Rocky soundtrack) when she trained to dance.

 Africa – Toto
[AK]: Yes, the ultimate one-hit-wonder, but a Jennifer favorite.

What A Feeling – Irene Cara
[AK]: Because Flashdance is Jennifer’s favorite movie.

Don’t You (Forget About Me) – Simple Minds
[AK]: Jennifer hopes wherever her parents are, they remember her

Everywhere – Fleetwood Mac
[AK]: Both Tara and Jennifer are obsessed with Fleetwood Mac.

Kyrie – Mr. Mister
[AK]: Nobody understands the lyrics to this song because they’re literally Greek. Apparently, the entire song is a prayer—just like Jennifer’s prayer to reunite with her parents.

AditiKhorana-credit RebeccaFishmanABOUT THE AUTHOR: Aditi Khorana spent part of her childhood in India, Denmark and New England. She has a BA in International Relations from Brown University and an MA in Global Media and Communications from the Annenberg School for Communication. She has worked as a journalist at ABC News, CNN, and PBS, and most recently as a marketing executive consulting for various Hollywood studios including FOX, Paramount and SONY. MIRROR IN THE SKY is her first novel. She lives in Los Angeles and spends her free time reading, hiking, and exploring LA’s eclectic and wonderful architecture.

Blog Tour Book Review–Summer Days and Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories edited by Stephanie Perkins

Summer Days and Summer NightsTitle: Summer Days and Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories

Editor/Author: Stephanie Perkins

Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin

Release Date: May 17th, 2016

Interest: Short Stories / Authors

Source: e-ARC provided by the publisher

Summary (From Goodreads):

Maybe it’s the long, lazy days, or maybe it’s the heat making everyone a little bit crazy. Whatever the reason, summer is the perfect time for love to bloom. Summer Days & Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories, written by twelve bestselling young adult writers and edited by the international bestselling author Stephanie Perkins, will have you dreaming of sunset strolls by the lake. So set out your beach chair and grab your sunglasses. You have twelve reasons this summer to soak up the sun and fall in love.

Featuring stories by Leigh Bardugo, Francesca Lia Block, Libba Bray, Cassandra Clare, Brandy Colbert, Tim Federle, Lev Grossman, Nina LaCour, Stephanie Perkins, Veronica Roth, Jon Skovron, and Jennifer E. Smith.

To start, I’m not well-versed in short story anthologies, but after reading Summer Days and Summer Nights, I am eager to read more! Not only are the majority of the stories in this anthology absolutely delightful, it was so liberating being able to bounce from story to story and still feel that sense of accomplishment when I was done even though I skimmed over a couple stories that weren’t really for me.

I love that Stephanie Perkins included a range of authors who write different genres and that some of the stories include not only racially diverse characters, but LGBT characters, too. Because of this range, I know I can hand this book to a large variety of readers in my classroom.

And speaking of LGBT characters, Nina LaCour’s addition to the anthology was one of my favorites. She drew me in right away with Flora in “The End of the Love.” It impressed me that within such a small span of time I knew so much about Flora’s troubled life at home and also saw a relationship blossom. I would love it if Nina LaCour turns Flora’s story into a novel.

When it comes to wanting more, I need more of “In Ninety Minutes, Turn North” by Stephanie Perkins. I already know that I’m feeling lost without a new Perkins novel to read, but that feeling intensified while I read Marigold’s and North’s story. I’m not sure how many pages this story is since I read it on my Kindle, but seriously, I fell in love with both of them and it couldn’t have been more than thirty pages long! This is another one that I hope to see as a complete novel one day. They’re both so earnest and real and sweet.

Overall, I highly recommend reading Summer Days and Summer Nights, especially if you want to expose yourself to some new authors. I haven’t read anything by Tim Federle (yet) and thoroughly enjoyed his short story. I also discovered that I really like Brandy Colbert’s writing as well. This is not only a good addition for a class library, it’s an excellent anthology to read while enjoying the sun this summer.

Scarlett Epstein Hates It Here by Anna Breslaw Blog Tour + Character Playlist


Let me first and foremost start by apologizing for this post being a day late. I received my blog contents on Monday afternoon and woke up yesterday morning to create my post only to discover that my internet at home is down (and still is!) and to top it off our internet at school failed. Yesterday in general was a major fail of a day. Anyway, I’m super thankful the internet at school is working and that I have time this morning to compose this post because it’s a fun one!

I have for you today a playlist that Anna Breslaw created for this post with Scarlett Epstein in mind. She is such a fun character to read and this playlist suits her perfectly. At the end of the post I’m also including a few of my favorite funny lines from the book because there were multiple moments that either made me laugh out loud or snort. Gotta love that!



“Valerie,” Amy Winehouse
Scarlett’s mom blasts this in her bedroom when she gets ready for OK Cupid dates. (Scarlett can hear it through the wall.)

“Why Can’t I,” Liz Phair
And then blasts this in her bedroom when she comes home from a good OK Cupid date. (The walls are thin.)

“Hurt,” Johnny Cash
And then blasts this in her bedroom when he doesn’t text her again. (The walls are VERY thin.)

“Put Yourself First,” Crazy Ex-Girlfriend OST
Scarlett’s getting into this show now that Lycanthrope College has been cancelled—and this song is the perfect mix of cuttingly feminist, funny, and catchy AF.

“Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)”
She listens to this on the train back to New Jersey from visiting her dad in Brooklyn.

“Whole Wide World,” Wreckless Eric
Scarlett’s dad and her new stepmom (who is, by the way, far superior to her real mom) danced to this song at their wedding. She now thinks it’s the most romantic song ever.

“A Milli,” Lil Wayne
Scarlett does a stupid dance to this song to cheer up her friend Avery when she gets a B on a test.

“Royals,” Lorde
Singing-in-the-shower song.

“Circumambient,” Grimes
She listens to this when she’s writing.

“A Certain Romance,” Arctic Monkeys
The lead singer’s description of his town reminds Scarlett of her own.

“Hello,” Adele
When she’s sad about Gideon.

“Ghost,” Halsey
See above.

“Going Down For Real,” Flo Rida
I mean, it’s just impossible to avoid this song. This song is everywhere.

“Empire State of Mind,” Jay-Z ft. Alicia Keys
When she’s daydreaming about graduating and moving to New York to become a writer.

“Walk On The Wild Side,” Lou Reed
Her dad used to listen to this when she was little, and she puts it on when she misses him.

And here are some of my favorite lines:

“Ave is pretty, too, but she’s like a wilted version of Ashley with braces and slightly duller hair. If they had been fetal twins, Ashley definitely would’ve consumed Avery for nutrients, and all that’d be left of Ave would be a tumor with a few teeth in it.”

(Taken from a conversation between Scarlett and her elderly neighbor)
“What’s your teacher’s name?”
“Mr. Radford.”
“What’s he like?”
“Uh, young,” I thought. “Enthusiastic.”
“You should do him!” She said it with the same tone of wholesome encouragement you’d use to say You should do yoga! or You should visit Lake Placid!
“Don’t look at me like that. Every great writer has ‘turned the screw’ with a professor. Obviously it would be better if his balls hung a little lower, if he was older, more established, but. . .” She shrugged.

About the novel:
Title & Author: Scarlett Epstein Hates It Here by Anna Breslaw
Release date: April 19th, 2016
Publisher: Razorbill
Find it: Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble

Scarlett Epstein Hates It  HereSummary (From Goodreads):

Meet Scarlett Epstein, BNF (Big Name Fan) in her online community of fanfiction writers, world-class nobody at Melville High. Her best (read: only) IRL friends are Avery, a painfully shy and annoyingly attractive bookworm, and Ruth, her pot-smoking, possibly insane seventy-three-year-old neighbor.

When Scarlett’s beloved TV show is canceled and her longtime crush, Gideon, is sucked out of her orbit and into the dark and distant world of Populars, Scarlett turns to the fanfic message boards for comfort. This time, though, her subjects aren’t the swoon-worthy stars of her fave series—they’re the real-life kids from her high school. Scarlett never considers what might happen if they were to find out what she truly thinks about them…until a dramatic series of events exposes a very different reality than Scarlett’s stories, forever transforming her approach to relationships—both online and off.

Blog Tour & Giveaway: A Tyranny of Petticoats edited by Jessica Spotswood

I’m so happy to be part of this blog tour for a historical fiction, kickass book! A Tyranny of Petticoats: 15 Stories of Belles, Bank Robbers, and Other Badass Girls was edited by Jessica Spotswood and includes short stories from a variety of female YA authors. Three questions were asked of all contributing authors; today I’m featuring answers from Leslye Walton, Elizabeth Wein, and Jessica Spotswood.

A Tyranny of Petticoats

Also available as an e-book and in audio

Summary (From the publisher): Crisscross America, on dogsleds and ships, stagecoaches and trains, from pirate ships off the coast of the Carolinas to the peace, love, and protests of 1960s Chicago. Join fifteen of today’s most talented writers of young adult literature on a thrill ride through history with American girls charting their own courses. They are monsters and mediums, bodyguards and barkeeps, screenwriters and schoolteachers, heiresses and hobos. They’re making their own ways in often-hostile lands, using every weapon in their arsenals, facing down murderers and marriage proposals. And they all have a story to tell.

Our authors are as diverse as their characters. To give readers a better sense of their diverse processes and experiences writing for this anthology, we asked three questions of each contributor:

  1. What inspired you to write about this particular time and place?
  2. What was the most interesting piece of research you uncovered while writing your story?
  3. Who is your favorite woman in history and why?

Here are their answers:

Jessica Spotswood is the author of the Cahill Witch Chronicles, a historical­ fantasy trilogy, as well as the contemporary novel Wild Swans. She grew up near the Gettysburg battlefield but now lives in Washington, D.C., where she works for the D.C. Public Library system as a children’s library associate.
Twitter: @jessica_shea, Facebook, Instagram

Jessica_Spotswood credit C.Stanley Photography (1)

What inspired you to write about this particular time and place?
I’ve been fascinated with New Orleans since my first visit when I was twelve. The city was French, then Spanish, then French again briefly, was sold to the United States as part of the Louisiana Purchase, seceded to join the Confederacy, then became part of the United States again. The architecture, food, and music all reflect this unique history as well as Creole, Cajun, and Haitian influences. By 1826, there was a large number (according to the census, perhaps as many as twelve thousand recorded in a city of forty-six thousand) of gens de couleur libre, or free people of color, which made New Orleans unique among antebellum Southern cities. Most free blacks were mixed-race; some were descended from slave mothers and white fathers, and others emigrated from Haiti after the revolution. They were educated property owners, a thriving middle class of businessmen, shop owners, and tradesmen who went to mass at Saint Louis Cathedral, attended the theater and the French opera, and sometimes had slaves of their own.

What was the most interesting piece of research you uncovered while writing your story?
In 1786 Governor Miró passed the tignon laws, which required women of African descent — slave or free — to cover their hair and refrain from excessive attention to their dress. In response, women of color began to wrap their hair in beautiful, colorful scarves called tignons and were still as beautiful and eye-catching as ever. The law was basically to preserve racial and class distinctions, because some free women of color were so light-skinned and richly dressed that they were mistaken for white.

Who is your favorite woman in history and why?
I’m fascinated by Nellie Bly, who was an intrepid lady reporter. She wrote about the problems of poor working girls and called for the reform of divorce laws. She was a foreign correspondent in Mexico, but the editor of her Pittsburgh paper kept assigning her stories for their women’s section about fashion and flower shows, so she resigned and moved to New York. Most famously, she feigned madness while working undercover to write a series on the abuse of institutionalized women at the asylum at Blackwell’s Island. In 1888, she also tried to recreate Jules Verne’s Around the World in Eighty Days and filed dispatches to her paper via telegraph. She only took seventy-two days, like the boss she was.


Leslye Walton is the author of The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender, which was a 2015 Pacific Northwest Book Award winner, as well as a 2015 YALSA William C. Morris YA Debut Award finalist. She lives in the Pacific Northwest but has recently been finding her dreams filled with vast desert skies and the gorgeous pink flowers of the prickly pear cactus. Her short story is the result of those dreams.
Twitter: @LeslyeWalton, Facebook


What inspired you to write about this particular time and place?
I was interested in exploring the juxtaposition of power and limitation, a blurred line that has defined the lives of women throughout history. I wondered what it might have been like to live as a young teenage girl during a time of upheaval and change in American history, while also capturing a time and place where cultural and national identities felt at odds. I suppose these thoughts wove themselves together, because suddenly I had Valeria, Rosa, and Maria Elena, three immortals sent down to live as Mexican-American sisters during the years after the Texas Annexation.

What was the most interesting piece of research you uncovered while writing your story?
I loved learning all the intricate details about the family ranchos of that time and the lush Rio Grande landscape of yucca plants, honey mesquite trees, and prickly pear cacti.

Who is your favorite woman in history and why?
Oh, this is an impossible question! There are so many admirable women in our world’s history, all with incredible and oft times terrible stories; it’s virtually impossible to pick a favorite. I suppose, though, if I had to choose one, I’d have to admit that I am currently infatuated with Petra Herrera, a revolutionary war hero who led over four hundred female soldiers during the Mexican Revolution, if only for the sole reason that she proved that women could be just as effective as men in the art of combat.


Elizabeth Wein is the New York Times best­selling author of Code Name Verity, Rose Under Fire, and, most recently, Black Dove, White Raven. All three feature women as pilots in the early twentieth century — such rare birds in their own right that a black woman among them is a veritable phoenix. “The Color of the Sky” is a closer look at one of the real pilots whose life inspired a character in Black Dove, White Raven.
Twitter @EWein2412

Elizabeth Wein_credit David Ho

What inspired you to write about this particular time and place?
Bessie Coleman, the first African-American woman to become a licensed pilot, inspired me!

I earned a private pilot’s license late in 2003. That year also happened to be the one hundredth anniversary of the Wright brothers’ historic first powered “heavier than air” flight. I took part in a worldwide celebratory fly-out on December 17, the exact anniversary. But I was also the only female student pilot on the airfield where I learned to fly, so I became interested in flight, the history of aviation, and women in aviation all at the same time.

Bessie Coleman is one of the most amazing early female aviators. She got her international pilot’s license in 1921, and she was not only the first black woman to do so, she was the first American to do so — male or female, black or white. No one — of any color — would teach her to fly in the United States, because she was black and/or because she was a woman; so she took some French classes, found some sponsorship, and went to France to learn to fly. I am in awe of her initiative, her positive outlook, and her determination.

Though she died young, and tragically, in a flying accident (which is what my story in A Tyranny of Petticoats is about), Coleman was committed to opening a flying school that would allow young people of all races and sexes to learn to fly. Until her early death she traveled around the United States giving lectures and film presentations in schools to encourage young people to learn more about aviation, as well as fund-raising for her flight school dream.

The time and place of my story was dictated by the focus on Bessie Coleman — but to make it authentic, I ended up finding out quite a bit about Jacksonville, Florida, in the 1920s — its schools, churches, neighborhoods, and transportation systems!

What was the most interesting piece of research you uncovered while writing your story?
It was undoubtedly the amazing real historical characters I discovered as I was peopling my fictional tale. I want to write stories — books, even! — about all of them.

Except for my main character Antonia and her family, most of the named characters in “The Color of the Sky” are based on real people. In addition to the obvious — Bessie Coleman herself — I also had to find out more about the lives of Myrtle and Henry Wade Vencill, Louis Manning, William Wills, Robert Abbott, and John Thomas Betsch. I desperately hope I’ve been respectful of their historical counterparts — especially Betsch, who is in jail when my story ends!

The week following Bessie Coleman’s death in April 1925 must have been a heartbreaking time in John Thomas Betsch’s young life. He was only twenty-one at the time. College-educated, Betsch was the publicity chairman of Jacksonville’s Negro Welfare League and an aviation enthusiast; he was also a strong advocate for racial and sexual equality in Florida and continued to be so throughout the first half of the twentieth century. His legacy is evident in the lives of his children: MaVynee Betsch, who graduated from Oberlin College with a double major in voice and piano in 1955, sang with the German State Opera, and then devoted her later life to conservation; Dr. Johnnetta Betsch Cole, who became the first female president of Spelman College, president of Bennett College for Women, and co-author of Gender Talk: The Struggle for Women’s Equality in African American Communities; and John Thomas Betsch, Jr., a jazz musician who has lived in Europe for the past thirty years. It makes me happy to know what a better world John Betsch helped to create for his own children and for generations to come. I’d never have known about these people if I hadn’t been digging for information about the circumstances surrounding Bessie Coleman’s fatal accident.

Another fascinating woman I learned more about while writing “The Color of the Sky” is Willa Brown. I’d known about her because she turned up in the research I did for my novel Black Dove, White Raven, and I like to think that the life of my original character Antonia will closely follow that of Willa Brown. Brown graduated from Indiana State Teachers College in 1927 and went on to help establish the Coffey School of Aeronautics in Chicago. Willa Brown was the first African-American woman to earn a private pilot’s license (which had not been established when Bessie Coleman earned her international license). During World War II, in addition to training black pilots and flight instructors, she joined the Civil Air Patrol and became its first African-American officer. Throughout most of the twentieth century, Willa Brown was a tireless activist for racial and sexual equality, both on the ground and in the air.

I would love to go on — every single one of the characters who appear in “The Color of the Sky” has a fascinating history — but perhaps these brief portraits will inspire readers to do some digging for themselves!

Who is your favorite woman in history and why?
This isn’t a question I’ve thought about before — I don’t have a tried and tested answer that I give. I have many favorites, for different reasons at different times in history and at different times in my own life. If you’d only asked me to name “my favorite woman of all time,” I’d have said my grandmother, Betty Flocken.

But I’m going to go with Anne Morrow Lindbergh (1906–2001), because her voice as a writer and a pilot sings to my soul. I knew and read her written work long before I became a pilot myself. Her inspirational Gift from the Sea, which has never been out of print since it was first published in 1955, has been my guide throughout my adult life — as it was to my grandmother fifty years ago. Indeed, it was my wonderful grandmother who introduced me to Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s writing.

Anne Morrow Lindbergh was the wife of Charles A. Lindbergh, the early aviator who’s best known for his pioneering flight across the Atlantic in 1927. As a couple they skyrocketed into the media in 1932 when their infant son was kidnapped and murdered. Charles Lindbergh bordered on being a Nazi sympathizer in the years leading to World War II and, though he flew fifty combat missions in the Pacific for the United States and finished his life as an environmental activist in 1974, his image never entirely recovered in the public eye. Anne Morrow Lindbergh soared to fame on her own as a gifted diarist and travel writer, managing to transcend the brightness and shadow that her husband cast. Her clear-sighted and lyrical voice is one of the most prolific and honest of the twentieth century.

She was the first American woman to earn a glider pilot’s license and accompanied Lindbergh on early global exploration flights as his radio operator as they attempted to discover the best long-distance routes for future commercial airlines to places like South America and eastern Asia. She was a friend and deep admirer of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, another of my pilot-writer heroes (and author of The Little Prince). Despite the tragic loss of her first baby, she went on to raise five children, a free-thinking collection of writers and aviators in their own rights.

Anne Morrow Lindbergh was a quiet, private, shy, and privileged woman and didn’t have to do the kind of groundbreaking work that Bessie Coleman had to do. But her dedication to her craft, her prolific life’s work, and her ability to recover and forgive make me strive to be like her.

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Blog Tour Book Review: Don’t Ever Change by M. Beth Bloom


Click here for blog tour info (reviews / giveaways / related posts)

Don't Ever ChangeTitle: Don’t Ever Change

Author: M. Beth Bloom

Publisher: HarperTeen

Release Date: July 7th, 2015

Interest: Contemp / New Adult

Source: ARC received from the publisher

Summary (From Goodreads):

Eva has always wanted to write a modern classic—one that actually appeals to her generation. The only problem is that she has realized she can’t “write what she knows” because she hasn’t yet begun to live. So before heading off to college, Eva is determined to get a life worth writing about.

Soon Eva’s life encounters a few unexpected plot twists. She becomes a counselor at a nearby summer camp—a job she is completely unqualified for. She starts growing apart from her best friends before they’ve even left for school. And most surprising of all, she begins to fall for the last guy she would have ever imagined. But no matter the roadblocks, or writer’s blocks, it is all up to Eva to figure out how she wants this chapter in her story to end.

Perfect for fans of E. Lockhart, David Levithan, and Rainbow Rowell, Don’t Ever Change is a witty, snarky, and thought-provoking coming-of-age young adult novel about a teen who sets out to write better fiction and, ultimately, discovers the truth about herself.

I’ve decided to switch up my review style for this post and focus on reasons why teens might enjoy Don’t Ever Change by M. Beth Bloom.

1. I consider Don’t Ever Change as a new adult novel (although it’s still YA) because Eva has just graduated from high school and most of her conflicts stem from her preparing for college and wanting more life experiences. This is a book I’ll hand to my seniors this coming school year since I’m sure many of them will relate with Eva.

2. Eva is a writer and wants to improve as a writer. So many of my students read and write fanfic, they journal,  and they work on their own novels. I know many of them struggle with wanting to improve as writers, but they also don’t necessarily want to know what they’re doing “wrong”, much like Eva.

3. Eva is worried about losing her friends when they all move on to college, so she’s trying desperately to keep their friendships close. I can’t tell you how many times I hear my seniors talk about “the last this” and “the last that.” It’s hard moving away from friends and not knowing if those relationships will stick.

4. There were times as I was reading Don’t Ever Change and thought it felt a little hipster-ish. It was something about the voice. I’m not saying E. Lockhart or David Levithan are hipsters (not by any means!), but the voices of some of their characters fit that of Eva’s, as the summary says. Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan and the Ruby series by E. Lockhart seem like good comparables. Their characters are witty and upbeat and smart.

5. The cover will definitely pull in some of my readers. I polled my students about book covers and many of them stated that they like covers that stand out and that have brighter colors. Don’t Ever Change utilizes both of those criteria.

Blog Tour Book Review: All the Rage by Courtney Summers

All the Rage pub coverTitle: All the Rage

Author: Courtney Summers

Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin

Release Date: April 14th, 2015

Interest: Author / Contemp

Source: ARC received from the publisher

Summary (From the publisher):

The sheriff’s son, Kellan Turner, is not the golden boy everyone thinks he is, and Romy Grey knows that for a fact. Because no one wants to believe a girl from the wrong side of town, the truth about him has cost her everything-friends, family, and her community. Branded a liar and bullied relentlessly by a group of kids she used to hang out with, Romy’s only refuge is the diner where she works outside of town. No one knows her name or her past there; she can finally be anonymous. But when a girl with ties to both Romy and Kellan goes missing after a party, and news of him assaulting another girl in a town close by gets out, Romy must decide whether she wants to fight or carry the burden of knowing more girls could get hurt if she doesn’t speak up. Nobody believed her the first time-and they certainly won’t now-but the cost of her silence might be more than she can bear.

With a shocking conclusion and writing that will absolutely knock you out, All the Rage examines the shame and silence inflicted upon young women in a culture that refuses to protect them.

Where do I possibly start with this review? All the Rage by Courtney Summers is a book just about everyone should read. Are you a girl? You should read it. Are you a guy? You should read it. Are you a teacher? Are you a counselor? Are you a parent? You should read it. I’m sure you see where I’m going with this.

Courtney Summers addresses an important issue–rape culture (and much more, actually)–and she doesn’t sugar coat it. Rape isn’t described in detail or anything, but it doesn’t need to be because this is more than about the act of rape. Readers understand how horrific rape is without “witnessing” it. Those who read Romy’s story will understand that, but (more?) importantly they will also experience the emotional trauma after rape and the backlash from a community who refuse to believe the truth.

All the Rage quoteAs I said, Summers doesn’t sugar coat anything in this story and Romy being written as a flawed character highlights that fact. Romy is suffering deeply after being raped by Kellan Turner and being relentlessly and mercislessly bullied by her former friends and community. She has become withdrawn, angry, and self-conscious. She’s afraid to grow close to anyone again and let her guard down. Consequently, she’s put in situations and gets herself into situations that made me cringe and feel a multitude of emotions. Courtney Summers is often brutal when she writes her characters, and with good reason. If Romy did everything “right” after her rape, I don’t know if this story would have affected me as much. First of all, what is the “right” thing to do in the aftermath of a rape, especially when no one in your town, especially the sheriff, believes what you’re saying? What is the “right” way to act towards kids in school who slut-shame you because you were raped at a party where you were drinking and having a good time? I wanted Romy to tell that sheriff what-for and I wanted her mother to demand she be treated like a victim. I wanted Romy to stand up to her former friends. But that’s not really what happens (in All the Rage and in real life). And it’s hard to read.

I do want to stress, however, that Romy is a fighter. She has a hell of a time figuring it out and helping herself, but she’s trying nonetheless. Her relationship with Leon is a prime example of how much she wants to get her life back. I’ve read a review or two where this relationship was criticized, but I like the addition of the Leon and what he adds to the story. Romy has a difficult time letting herself relax around him and allowing him to see who she really is. She’s so guarded and wounded, Romy can’t understand why he wants to be close to her. Unfortunately this causes additional conflict for Romy, but it’s a conflict that truly illuminates her pain, fear, and trauma. Readers gain an understanding of how rape affects inter-personal relationships.

I did at times have a tough time following the organization of the story. I love how captivating the beginning the book is, but it leads to “Two Weeks Before” and eventually jumps back to the present. For about 60 pages or so I was trying to get my footing and figure out exactly what was going on. My “got it” moment came during SSR in class one day and from that point forward I didn’t want to put the book down.

All the Rage is Courtney Summer’s first hardcover published book and it’s worth every cent. I encourage you to read this, buy this, and share this with others. It’s been added to my classroom library and already been borrowed by more than one eager reader.



Courtney Summers lives and writes in Canada, where she divides most of her time between a camera, a piano and a word processing program. She is also the author of What Goes Around, This is Not a Test, Fall for Anything, Some Girls Are, Cracked Up to Be, and Please Remain Calm. 








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Blog Tour + Character Interview: The Tragic Age by Stephen Metcalfe

Stephen Metcalfe’s debut novel The Tragic Age is set to release from St. Martin’s Griffin on March 3rd, 2015 and I’m happy to have had the opportunity to interview the main character, Billy Kinsey. He’s a unique character with a unique story. Enjoy!

The Tragic AgeSummary (From Goodreads):

This is the story of Billy Kinsey, heir to a lottery fortune, part genius, part philosopher and social critic, full time insomniac and closeted rock drummer. Billy has decided that the best way to deal with an absurd world is to stay away from it. Do not volunteer. Do not join in. Billy will be the first to tell you it doesn’t always work— not when your twin sister, Dorie, has died, not when your unhappy parents are at war with one another, not when frazzled soccer moms in two ton SUVs are more dangerous than atom bombs, and not when your guidance counselor keeps asking why you haven’t applied to college.
Billy’s life changes when two people enter his life. Twom Twomey is a charismatic renegade who believes that truly living means going a little outlaw. Twom and Billy become one another’s mutual benefactor and friend. At the same time, Billy is reintroduced to Gretchen Quinn, an old and adored friend of Dorie’s. It is Gretchen who suggests to Billy that the world can be transformed by creative acts of the soul. 

With Twom, Billy visits the dark side. And with Gretchen, Billy experiences possibilities.Billy knows that one path is leading him toward disaster and the other toward happiness. The problem is—Billy doesn’t trust happiness. It’s the age he’s at.  The tragic age. 

Stephen Metcalfe’s brilliant, debut coming-of-age novel, The Tragic Age, will teach you to learn to love, trust and truly be alive in an absurd world.

You’ve brought up the absurd and that you’ve read some works by Albert Camus. Have you read The Stranger as well? If so, what do you think of Meursault’s attitude and way of life?
It’s been awhile.  In retrospect, I’m not so thrilled about old Meursault.  He’s kind of a dick.  I mean, trying to go through life feeling indifferent to the universe because you think it’s indifferent to you is pretty stupid and boring actually.  Also it’s pretty much  impossible (I failed at it miserably).   I mean, all you do is compartmentalize.   Feelings and emotions don’t just go away.  They’re still there, boiling and brewing underneath, waiting to burst out.  And for Meursault they finally did.  And let’s face it, he goes to the guilotine feeling pretty meaningless.  Which frankly, would suck.  I’d like to be a little more proactive with my life than settling for getting my head chopped off.

There are moments in the story when you think one thing and say or do another, or don’t act at all. What’s holding you back?
I actually think I’m doing the best I can in the given moment.   My problem is I’ve seen all these stupid movies and lame TV shows and so my brain keeps flashing on all these idiotic things that I could be doing or should be saying in certain situations – “cool” or “dramatic”or  “witty” things – but don’t.  Maybe I just have an over active imagination.

Do you have any advice for other teens who are dealing with loss?
Maybe embrace it so as to understand it?  It’s sort of part of life, isn’t it.  To paraphrase, Frank Herbert in his semi-interesting novel, Dune –  I will face my loss. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the loss has gone there will be healing” This comes under “the do as I say, not what I do” heading of teenage advice.

You’ve mentioned that you spend quite a bit of time in the library. What’s your favorite book?
Usually the one I’m currently involved with.  At the moment I’m totally smitten with Michael Faber’s The Crimson Petal and the White. 

 Interesting facts are prevalent in your story. How have you accumulated so much knowledge about such intriguing trivia?
I wish I knew.  I’m just curious about things.   Something interests me and I want to know about it.  And so I look it up and I read about it.  (That’s one thing the internet is good for.)  And reading about it usually suggest other things that sound interesting and so I read about them.  But when it comes to really knowing something, I’m a jack of all trades, master of none.  I should probably go into politics but I still have this crazy idea I might do something meaningful with my life.  Also I’m not so good at lying with a straight face.

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 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 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

My Last Kiss Blog Tour–Writing Advice


I’m excited to be part of Bethany Neal’s blog tour for her debut novel My Last Kiss. Today’s stop on the blog tour features Bethany’s writing advice. Hopefully this will helpful to teachers/students/aspiring authors. Thanks, Bethany! 🙂

My Last Kiss releases on June 10th from Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

MY_LAST_KISS_final_coverSummary (From Goodreads):

What if your last kiss was with the wrong boy? 

Cassidy Haines remembers her first kiss vividly. It was on the old covered bridge the summer before her freshman year with her boyfriend of three years, Ethan Keys. But her last kiss–the one she shared with someone at her seventeenth birthday party the night she died–is a blur. Cassidy is trapped in the living world, not only mourning the loss of her human body, but left with the grim suspicion that her untimely death wasn’t a suicide as everyone assumes. She can’t remember anything from the weeks leading up to her birthday and she’s worried that she may have betrayed her boyfriend. 

If Cassidy is to uncover the truth about that fateful night and make amends with the only boy she’ll ever love, she must face her past and all the decisions she made–good and bad–that led to her last kiss.

Bethany Neal’s suspenseful debut novel is about the power of first love and the haunting lies that threaten to tear it apart.

**Bethany Neal’s Writing Advice**

Giving writing advice is a tricky thing. Everybody has their own process and techniques that work for them. And a writer’s process evolves as he/she grows and develops his/her skills. So, giving cut and dry advice on how to write seems counterproductive to me.

There have been many times where I’ve read an article in a magazine or on a website and thought I’d found the cure-all for my writerly woes. And sometimes the advice does help, but it’s usually only a temporary fix for a specific scene or type of book I’m writing at that particular moment.

That’s great and helpful at that time, but I want advice that is helpful all the time. Don’t you?! Something I can always lean back on and utilize to get me through the rough patches of writing—and, trust me, the road to publication is as potholed as my neighborhood streets after the crushing winter we’ve had.

So here it is, the one piece of advice every writer must take and apply daily in order to succeed: Believe in your work.

It sounds so simple, but it is the single most difficult thing you’ll ever attempt. Especially when rejections start rolling in (and they do for everyone at some point in his/her career). It requires constant reminders and sticky notes on your computer monitor (and sometimes bathroom mirror) to assure yourself that your writing is not only good enough but worthy of publishing.

You might feel as if you’re tooting your own horn when you tell yourself these things, but you should be tooting that horn of yours, darn it! Writing is hard and stressful and takes immense dedication, and you are doing it. You deserve a frickin’ orchestra of horns tooting in your honor! But, alas, publishing is more times than not a strings section playing one of those mournful tunes that Russian figure skaters perform to. You need to hold your own horn high in order to get noticed.

But my advice to believe in yourself and your writing is not all streamers and self-help hoorays. There’s a specific practice you can add to your daily writing ritual that will help you gain confidence in your work.

Before you start a new project, make a list of reasons why this story needs to be told and keep it nearby as you write so you can reference it. Tape it to the wall in your office or your desk, your laptop, your forearm, wherever you need to put it to remind yourself why what you’re writing is important.

Then when you’re at the midpoint of your book or story (and probably experiencing a growing amount of fatigue and doubt), make another list. This one is made up of reasons why readers will love your story. If you have trouble making this one, pull the nearest unsuspecting family member aside and ask him/her to tell you about their favorite book, movie, or TV show. If it’s a real good one, you’ll start to pick up on the types of things that readers crave like charismatic, complex characters or a sticky plot hook or ultra cool setting that feels like a character itself. You can also analyze your own favorite if there aren’t any other humans nearby.

Note, this step can also serve as a Litmus test to see if your idea is worth powering through to the end. Not all story ideas are. Sad, but true. If you can’t think of at least three reasons why anyone other than you would enjoy reading what you’re writing—and you am to be published someday—it’s time to shelve the project and move on to the next one keeping the boys in the basement occupied.

Finally, when you’ve typed the two most glorious words in an author’s vocabulary, The End, write a third list. This list is of all the obstacles you overcame in order to complete your opus. This last list will give you the confidence to press forward into the real business of writing. Rewriting.

I make all three of these lists for everything I write. It keeps me motivated, moving forward, and sometimes even throws up a red flag that what I’m writing isn’t a good fit. That can be the most important lesson of all. Knowing what not to write is just as important as—and critical in the progression to—writing a best-seller.


**Author Info**

Bethany Neal writes YA novels with a little dark side and a lot of kissing from her Ann Arbor, Michigan home. The things she is obsessed with include, but are not limited to: nail polish, ginormous rings, pigs, dream analysis, memorizing song lyrics, pickles, dessert, predestined love, not growing up, sour gummy candies, music videos, Halloween, and fictional boys who play guitar.

MY LAST KISS is her first novel. Connect with her online at and follow her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @BethDazzled.

**Blog Tour Schedule**

May 26:                        The Fantastic Flying Book Club, Welcome post
Day 1- May 27:          Word Spelunking, Top 10 Kisses (t/o pop culture) numbers 6-10
Reading Teen, Top 10 Kisses (t/o pop culture) numbers 1-5
Day 2- May 28:          YA Love, Writing Advice
Day 3- May 29:          YAdult Review, Top 6 Bad Boys (who aren’t so bad)
Day 4- May 30:          Book Loving Me, Story Inspiration
Day 5- May 31:          Broke & Bookish, Top 7 Ghost Stories
Day 6- June 1:           Tales of a Ravenous Reader, Pinterest Inspiration Board
                                        YA Reads, Easter Egg Hunt
Day 7- June 2:           Michelle & Leslie’s Book Picks, Musical Inspiration
                                        Miss-PageTurner’s City of Books, Behind the Pages
Day 8- June 3:           Supernatural Snark, Character Interview, Ethan
                                        GUEST POST: First Kiss Stories, Amy Plum’s Blog
Day 9- June 4:           The Hiding Spot, Q&A
                                         Reader Girls, Ghostly “Rules”
Day 10- June 5:         Book Addicts Guide, Open Interview
                                         Anna Reads, My First Fictional Crush
Day 11- June 6:         Lady Reader’s BookStuff, Playlist Reveal
Day 12- June 7:         Books As You Know It, Q&A
                                         Book Rat, Character Interview, Cassidy
Day 13- June 8:         Proud Book Nerd, Characters Theme Songs
                                        Girls in the Stacks, Podcast
Day 14- June 9:         Literary Rambles, Interview/Review & signed book giveaway
                                        YA Sisterhood, Top 10 Fictional Crushes
Day 15- June 10:      The Best Books Ever, Origin Story
Day 16 June 11:        Fantastic Flying Book Club, Swag Giveaway & Review

**Upcoming Author Signings**

MY LAST KISS Launch Party!!!
Tuesday, June 10, 2014
Nicola’s Books 
2513 Jackson Ave.
Ann Arbor, MI 48103
Join Bethany in publication day festivities! There will be cake, swag giveaways, and the signing of many books. 

Michigan Author Event

Saturday, June 14, 2014
Barnes & Noble 
3311 Tittabawassee Rd.
Saginaw, MI 48604
Visit Bethany and fellow YAer Aimee Carter in the Teen section during this store wide event featuring Michigan authors from varying genres. 

Up North 2-Day Event: Signing/Writing Workshop 

Friday, June 20, 2014
McLean & Eakin Bookstore 
307 E. Lake St.
Petoskey, MI 49770

Saturday, June 21, 2014
Time 10am-12pm
McLean & Eakin Bookstore 
307 E. Lake St.
Petoskey, MI 49770
Call McLean & Eakin for more information (231) 347-1180.

Blog Tour: The Edge of Falling by Rebecca Serle Read Alikes

I’m happy to be part of Rebecca Serle’s blog tour for her sophomore release, The Edge of Falling. I love a good contemp and love it even more that Rebecca agreed to compile a list of read alikes for her newest book. I’m halfway through her book right now and I’m already thinking of students who will enjoy this.

The Edge of Falling by Rebecca Serle releases on March 18th and is published by Simon Pulse. I’m including the summary so you can learn a little more about it before reading  Rebecca’s list of read alikes.

The Edge of FallingSummary (From Goodreads):

Growing up in privileged, Manhattan social circles, Caggie’s life should be perfect, and it almost was until the day that her younger sister drowned when Caggie was supposed to be watching her. Stricken by grief, Caggie pulls away from her friends and family, only to have everyone misinterpret a crucial moment when she supposedly saves a fellow classmate from suicide. Now she’s famous for something she didn’t do and everyone lauds her as a hero. But inside she still blames herself for the death of her sister and continues to pull away from everything in her life, best friend and perfect boyfriend included. Then Caggie meets Astor, the new boy at school, about whom rumours are swirling and known facts are few. In Astor she finds someone who just might understand her pain, because he has an inner pain of his own. But the more Caggie pulls away from her former life to be with Astor, the more she realises that his pain might be darker, and deeper, than anything she’s ever felt. His pain might be enough to end his life…and Caggie’s as well.

List of Comps for The Edge of Falling 

So, you’ve just finished reading The Edge of Falling, and you want to know what to read next? Or maybe you want to know what books are similar to The Edge of Falling so you’ll know if it’s your type of book? No worries, I’ve got you covered! Some of these books are in a similar genre, some deal with issues like grief or hidden secrets, and some actually inspired ME to write The Edge of Falling! So let’s jump in:

  1. Speak– Laurie Halse Anderson

Speak is a beautiful book about Melinda, a girl who is alienated from her friends and suffering the burden of a huge secret. Caggie still has her voice in The Edge of Falling, but her journey is similar to Melinda’s because she is plagued by the things she can’t say out loud: her grief about the role she played in her sister’s death; the separation she feels from her family; and the one big secret that, if revealed, would cause everyone to call her a liar instead of a hero. I highly recommend Speak if you’re looking for a book about family, grief, and overcoming silence.

2. Gossip Girl- Cecily Von Ziegar

Yep, you read right- the Gossip Girl books! These books (and the TV show, of course) inspired the world of The Edge of Falling. I wanted to write about the privileged elite of the Upper East Side, and their complex relationships with their finances and their feelings. Caggie comes from a privileged family as well, but sometimes instead of opening doors, privilege closes them: the doors of communication and intimacy, the doors of honesty and forgiveness. Caggie seeks these things from her family, but in their time of grief they depend more on material things than on each other. The characters in Gossip Girl go through their fair share of grieving as well, but beneath the lens of the paparazzi and the public eye, even their private suffering becomes public scandal.

3. This Song Will Save Your Life- Leila Sales

Ok, so, full disclosure: this next book was written by my BFF Leila Sales. But I am not remotely alone in thinking it is one of the best YA books not just of last year, but of all time. This Song Will Save Your Life tells the story of Elise, a girl who just wants to have friends, and feel loved, but who is bullied mercilessly in her school. After she self-harms and ends up in the hospital, Elise feels more trapped than ever: but now by uber-watchful parents who don’t trust her. Everything changes the night she discovers  START, an underground disco club, and ends up in the DJ booth. Elise finds her place making people dance—and meets a pretty cute boy along the way. Caggie and Elise come from two very different worlds, but they both discover that loving yourself gives all other kinds of love meaning. Plus Leila and I wrote This Song Will Save Your Life and The Edge of Falling sitting across from each other—true story!

4. We Were Liars-E Lockhart

Okay, I confess: this book hasn’t even come out yet. But I read it and loved it, so I’m putting it on my list! We Were Liars is the story of a girl who comes from a prestigious, wealthy family (like Caggie’s) and the life-changing events that happen to her on the private island where her family spends every summer. It’s a literary, dark, poetic book about first love, the bonds of family, and the fragility of secrets. I was told to lie about the ending, so…I will just keep quiet J

5. The Catcher in The Rye– JD Salinger

I’m closing out my list with this classic novel, because not only is Caggie descended from the Caulfield family, which JD Salinger famously fictionalized, but because Holden and Caggie have more in common than their last name. Holden’s journey in The Catcher in the Rye is a coming-of-age story: he is disillusioned by wealth, jaded by the inconsistent and seemingly false bonds of family, and feels uncomfortable in his own skin. He, like Caggie, lost a sibling, and spends time reflecting on the cruelty of his world changing and progressing so much over time, while his lost loved one never will.  The Catcher in the Rye is one of the books that inspired me to write The Edge of Falling and I would definitely recommend you read it, if not re-visit it after you read Edge.

Rebecca Serle has a fantastic blog tour set up (with some of my favorite blogs!), so make sure to check out these upcoming posts to learn more about Rebecca, The Edge of Falling, and much more!

March 11- Fangirlish
March 17- Forever YA
March 20- Cuddlebuggery
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