Students Want to Know Jessica Love, author of In Real Life / Blog Tour + Giveaway

Students Want to Know

Jessica Love

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Jessica Love is a high school English teacher in Los Angeles, California, where she met her husband and her two tiny dogs online. She is the co-writer of Push Girl with Chelsie Hill.

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When I was offered the opportunity to interview Jessica Love about her novel In Real Life, I jumped at the opportunity because I knew my students would love it. I decided to take it one step further and get them even more excited about her book by having them come up with the interview questions. They immediately asked me if I would be buying a copy for them to read; of course I will!

In Real LifeABOUT THE BOOK (Goodreads):

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

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

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

Hannah’s romantic gesture backfires when she gets to Vegas and meets Nick’s girlfriend, whom he failed to mention to Hannah for the past three months.  And it turns out his relationship status isn’t the only thing he’s been lying to her about.  Hannah knows the real Nick can’t be that different from the online Nick she knows and loves, but now she only has one night in Sin City to figure out what her feelings for Nick really are, all while discovering how life can change when you break the rules every now and then.

PRAISE:

“A sweet, honest story that begins as so many of our relationships do: online.” —Emery Lord, author of Open Road Summer

“Love expertly creates a timely and entertaining story set on the glamorous Vegas strip, complete with rock and roll, gambling, love, and drama.  Readers will relate to the characters in this book and their effortless use of technology to support relationships.” —School Library Journal

“[A] sweet story ideal for contemporary teens whose lives play out in similar computer-and-text-message-related ways.” —Booklist

“The story manages to find its heart when it focuses on Hannah and Nick’s relationship. The warmth and intimacy of their friendship is convincing, and readers sighing over their long history will root for their relationship.” —Kirkus Reviews

“As Hannah and Nick work out the kinks of having to interact in person, they discover the advantages of taking things to the next level in this sweet, straightforward romance.” —Publishers Weekly
“A witty and entertaining story of friendship and secrets with a sparkly Vegas backdrop.  Jessica Love knows love!” —Kristin Rae, author of Wish You Were Italian

 

Here’s what my students wanted to know about Jessica Love and her book:

  1. Does Hannah consider the idea that Nick may be “catfishing” her?
    She doesn’t really, because she’s very trusting. They have known each other for so long and have really grown up together, so since they have shared so many things, this doesn’t really cross her mind. They have video chatted, so she knows he is the person from his pictures, and they met because their older siblings (who have met in person) introduced them online, so she feels pretty confident that he’s the real deal.
  1. Jessica, what’s your favorite roadtrip music?
    Cold War Kids. They have a bunch of albums and every single one of their songs is so fantastic. I can just put all their albums on shuffle and I’ll have fantastic driving music for hours and hours and hours.
  1. Do Hannah’s parents know about her relationship with Nick? Are they supportive of the relationship?
    They know she has an online friend she texts a lot, but she insists they’re just friends, so her parents don’t worry too much about it. They trust Hannah…it’s her older sister Grace they don’t trust.
  1. Now that we’re in the year 2016, do you think online relationships have become less taboo than in years past? Is that how you came up with the idea to writeIn Real Life?
    Oh yeah. I met my husband online in 1998, and it was super taboo back then. It was so weird that we actually made up a fake story about how we met because we didn’t want to admit the truth. Now it’s no big deal at all, and we finally let everyone know the truth.I decided to write this book in part because I have so many great friendships with people I’ve met online! I like to show people that real connections can happen with people you’ve never met in person.
  2.  Do you know anyone who has gone through a similar situation as Hannah or has it happened to you?
    No, this has definitely not happened to me. Not with a romance, anyway. I have traveled to meet people I only knew online, but they were just friends, and it was all very drama-free. I was inspired to write In Real Life by some people I saw on a reality show – they had been talking on the phone for five years and had never met in person. I loved that idea and I thought it would make a cool book.

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Waiting on Wednesday–Run by Kody Keplinger

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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.

I’m so excited to read a new Kody Keplinger novel! My students and I love her books, so much so that a couple copies of her books have gone missing from my classroom library. Run sounds like it will be just as entertaining to read as the rest of her novels. And I really appreciate that the girls on the cover look more like high school students than most YA cover models.

RunTitle & Author: Run by Kody Keplinger

Release Date: June 28th, 2016

Publisher: Scholastic Press

Summary (From Goodreads):

Bo Dickinson is a girl with a wild reputation, a deadbeat dad, and a mama who’s not exactly sober most of the time. Everyone in town knows the Dickinsons are a bad lot, but Bo doesn’t care what anyone thinks.

Agnes Atwood has never gone on a date, never even stayed out past ten, and never broken any of her parents’ overbearing rules. Rules that are meant to protect their legally blind daughter — protect her from what, Agnes isn’t quite sure.

Despite everything, Bo and Agnes become best friends. And it’s the sort of friendship that runs truer and deeper than anything else.

So when Bo shows up in the middle of the night, with police sirens wailing in the distance, desperate to get out of town, Agnes doesn’t hesitate to take off with her. But running away and not getting caught will require stealing a car, tracking down Bo’s dad, staying ahead of the authorities, and — worst of all — confronting some ugly secrets.

Review: Open Road Summer by Emery Lord

Open Road SummerTitle: Open Road Summer

Author: Emery Lord

Publisher: Walker Childrens

Release Date: April 15th, 2014

Interest: Contemporary / Debut Author

Source: Finished copy received from the author

Summary (From Goodreads):

After breaking up with her bad-news boyfriend, Reagan O’Neill is ready to leave her rebellious ways behind. . . and her best friend, country superstar Lilah Montgomery, is nursing a broken heart of her own. Fortunately, Lilah’s 24-city tour is about to kick off, offering a perfect opportunity for a girls-only summer of break-up ballads and healing hearts. But when Matt Finch joins the tour as its opening act, his boy-next-door charm proves difficult for Reagan to resist, despite her vow to live a drama-free existence. This summer, Reagan and Lilah will navigate the ups and downs of fame and friendship as they come to see that giving your heart to the right person is always a risk worth taking. A fresh new voice in contemporary romance, Emery Lord’s gorgeous writing hits all the right notes.

I originally received a copy of Open Road Summer when I was at NCTE in Boston. I added it to my classroom library before I read it because I knew my girls in class would probably love it, so I figured I’d read it over the summer. Sadly my ARC went missing during the school year and I never found it. After tweeting about this, Emery Lord saw my tweet and offered to be a “book fairy” and replace my missing copy. I’m thankful she did for multiple reasons, one of them being because it gave me the opportunity to read a truly enjoyable book!

I have absolutely nothing against reading edgy YA, but sometimes it’s nice to read something light and sweet. Open Road Summer isn’t without its true to life conflicts, but it’s not a book that kept me on edge. Lord has written a book that I’ll feel very comfortable offering to both my incoming freshmen *and* my seniors; it will easily appeal to both grade levels. It’s not uncommon to start a school year with “young” freshmen who may not be ready for a heavy romance filled with conflict. Open Road Summer will work well for those students who want to read about love and summer and friendship. My seniors are a different story. They also like to read about love and summer and friendship, but they generally have more life experience and will appreciate Reagan’s history. (Please keep in mind that these are generalizations and don’t apply to all freshmen or all seniors.)

Speaking of Reagan, I’m glad Emery Lord chose to write this from her point of view. I love how protective and loyal she is to Dee (only people who know Lilah really well call her that) and how much she’s trying to move on from her past. Another thing I enjoyed about her character is that she reminded me of some of my friends, but I could also see myself in her. She’s a well-rounded character. On the outside Reagan is fierce and protective of those she loves, but underneath it all she’s vulnerable and hesitant to let anyone in. She makes mistakes and learns from them. I would, for the record, absolutely love to read stories from Dee’s and Matt’s points of view because they are both genuine and fun characters with interesting lives.

Once I finished reading this and gave it my rating on Goodreads, one of my followers on the site asked me if it’s really worth reading and how the music scene was portrayed. First of all, I absolutely think it’s worth reading. Emery Lord is an author that I’ll be keeping an eye on so I can read more of her books. I thought the question about the music scene was an interesting one because I honestly hadn’t considered it. Dee works hard to maintain a wholesome image because that’s who she really is and she wants to be a positive role model. She faces unfortunate drama and rumors because of the paparazzi, but other than that the drama she deals with mostly has to do with her personal relationships. It’s another reason why I think my more innocent readers will appreciate Emery Lord’s debut.

Waiting on Wednesday: How My Summer Went Up In Flames by Jennifer Salvato Doktorski

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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I’ll admit that How My Summer Went Up in Flames sounds kind of predictable, but it still sounds like a fun read.  I’m not sure how someone unintentionally sets a car on fire, but I’m interested to find out!  Road trip books almost always lure me in, so Jennifer Salvato Doktorski has that going for book as well.

How My Summer Went Up In FlamesTitle & Author: How My Summer Went Up in Flames by Jennifer Salvato Doktorski

Release Date: May 7th, 2013

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Summary (From Goodreads): Rosie’s always been impulsive. She didn’t intend to set her cheating ex-boyfriend’s car on fire. And she never thought her attempts to make amends could be considered stalking. So when she’s served with a temporary restraining order on the first day of summer vacation, she’s heartbroken—and furious.

To put distance between Rosie and her ex, Rosie’s parents send her on a cross-country road trip with responsible, reliable neighbor Matty and his two friends. Forget freedom of the road, Rosie just wants to hitchhike home and win back her ex. But with every mile marker that passes, Rosie discovers a new sense of self…and that sometimes the best revenge is moving on.

 

Review: Saving June by Hannah Harrington

Title: Saving June

Author: Hannah Harrington

Publisher: Harlequin

Release Date: November 22nd, 2011 (paperback)

Interest: YA Contemporary / 2011 Debut Author

Source: Purchased my own copy & have an eBook from NetGalley

Summary (From Goodreads): When her older sister commits suicide and her divorcing parents decide to divide the ashes, Harper Scott takes her sister’s urn to the one place June always wanted to go: California. On the road with her best friend, plus an intriguing guy with a mysterious connection to June, Harper discovers truths about her sister, herself and life.

First of all, I will openly admit that I feel like a bad blogger since I waited so long to read Saving June.  I feel even worse about it because a few of my girls in class absolutely loved it and I couldn’t share with them my own feelings about Hannah Harrington’s debut.  But I finally read it (and really liked it) so that has to count for something, right?  One of the reasons I did end up finally reading it (besides really wanting to all this time) is that Harrington has a new book coming out tomorrow called Speechless which I’m excited to read.

Harper Scott’s character and voice grabbed me as soon as I started reading Saving June and never let me go.  She’s obviously sad and torn up over June’s death, but she isn’t wearing her heart on her sleeve about it.  She’s snarky and quick and tired of feeling bad about who she is in comparison to June.  She’s tired of feeling like she is constantly letting her mom and her aunt down.  Harper wants to cry over June’s death, but the tears simply won’t come.  As a reader I could see and feel her grief through her words and actions.  I really felt for Harper because she feels so alone, especially in the beginning of the story, since her mom is disconnected and her dad is for the most part out of the picture.  The family dynamics in Harper’s life make her friendship with Laney and ultimately Jake so much stronger.

The plot is an obvious focal point since Saving June is a road trip book, but it’s also very character driven since these characters are on this trip because of grief and honor.  Harper discovers that June wanted to go to California so on a whim she decides this is what she needs to do to honor her sister.  Laney is vibrant and adventurous, so with very little coaxing she’s on board with Harper.  I like Laney because she brightens up Harper.  Harper adores Laney and values their friendship so she often tries to make Laney happy.  This gave us another layer to Harper’s character; we get to see a glimpse of who she was before June’s death and what her personality is really like.  Jake’s connection in the story is a mystery at first because Harper can’t figure out his real motives for helping them get across the country and how he really knew June.  This unknown makes Jake’s character more interesting to read because the connection he has with Harper is there, but neither Harper nor the reader know if it’s okay for those two to get together.  I was constantly wondering if Harper was reading him right and if she should let herself fall for him.  Did he date June?  Did he want to date June but never had the chance?  I really like Jake’s character and wanted it to work out between him and Harper.

A number of reviewers have commented on the music references in Saving June.  I enjoyed them, but I could honestly take or leave them.  Jake is obsesses with music and spends a large bulk of the story schooling Laney and Harper on different artists like Jimmy Hendrix, The Doors, Janis Joplin, etc.  The musical connection does open up Harper’s emotions and feelings about June, and it also gives us a little insight to June; I liked the music references for those two reasons.  Some of my students now may not like it because so much of the music is “old” and unless they’ve been exposed to it they probably won’t appreciate it.  However, reading this book and learning about the music and the artists might drive their curiosity enough to look up some of the songs.

Overall I really enjoyed Hannah Harrington’s debut.  It’s a strong debut and good enough that I’m looking forward to her sophomore release, Speechless (8/28/12).  The story slowed down a bit for me a couple times, but I think that’s mostly because I grew tired of the grief.  I don’t think it’s over done in Saving June, but prior to reading this I’ve read a number of books dealing with grief and I think I’m spent for a while.

Review: In Honor by Jessi Kirby

Title: In Honor

Author: Jessi Kirby

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Release Date: May 8th, 2012

Interest: Author / Sophomore Reading Challenge

Source: ARC received from the publisher

Summary (From Goodreads): A devastating loss leads to an unexpected road trip in this novel from the author of Moonglass, whose voice Sarah Dessen says “is fresh and wise, all at once.”

Hours after her brother’s military funeral, Honor opens the last letter Finn ever sent. In her grief, she interprets his note as a final request and spontaneously decides to go to California to fulfill it.

Honor gets as far as the driveway before running into Rusty, Finn’s best friend since third grade and his polar opposite. She hasn’t seen Rusty in ages, but it’s obvious he is as arrogant and stubborn as ever—not to mention drop-dead gorgeous. Despite Honor’s better judgment, the two set off together on a voyage from Texas to California. Along the way, they find small and sometimes surprising ways to ease their shared loss and honor Finn’s memory—but when shocking truths are revealed at the end of the road, will either of them be able to cope with the consequences?

Have you ever started reading a book and knew right away that you were going to love every single page?  That’s how I felt when I started reading In Honor by Jessi Kirby.  I can’t explain what about a book wins me over when I have this experience, but I’m happy about it nonetheless.  I felt similarly when I read Jessi Kirby’s debut Moonglass as well.  Her writing draws me in and doesn’t let go until I’ve finished her book.

I love that In Honor starts with Honor describing taps being played and the 21-gun salute.  If you’ve been to a funeral when taps has been played and the salute is given, then it’s easy to relive it while reading someone’s experience.  It’s an emotional experience which becomes an emotional reading experience.  I don’t have an immediate family member serving, but I have former students serving, I have cousins serving, I’ve had friends serving.  I may not know what it feels like to lose a brother in the war, but I can certainly empathize with Honor and Rusty as they navigate through their grief.  In Honor is an emotional read, but it’s balanced with love, hope, and humor that many readers will appreciate.

The road trip setting gives In Honor a lighter mood despite the circumstances which I really appreciated because it made the emotional scenes even more powerful.  Road trip books are entertaining because characters are forced to interact with one another, given the close quarters, which provides more character development and insight.  Honor pretty much wears her heart on her sleeve, but Rusty is harder to read.  Honor and Rusty don’t get along very well and the tension is palpable, but there’s something just beneath the surface that lets the reader know that there’s more to Rusty than meets the eye.  Besides the fact that I had a character crush on him, I really enjoyed watching his character grow and discovering his secrets as their journey to California progressed.  He and Honor are learning more about each other, but they’re also learning about themselves through this entire ordeal.

I don’t know if this makes sense, but reading In Honor made me wish I could either live in Texas or at least visit Texas.  I love living in Michigan, so maybe I just wish I could have gone to Texas years ago and met a cute guy like Rusty?  I don’t know, but the whole southern atmosphere described was alluring.  I have been to Sedona (a pit stop Honor and Rusty have to make), so I know how beautiful it is and really want to make a return visit.  More than anything, I think this awkward paragraph just goes to show how well Jessi Kirby created the atmosphere and setting of In Honor.  So many elements of this book won me over and made me feel like I was there with Honor and Rusty.

If you take anything from this review, know this: In Honor is a book that will resonate with readers.  The characters are dynamic and true and ones you’ll wish you could meet in real life.  Jessi Kirby wrote a wonderful debut, but her sophomore novel, In Honor, is even better.  Without a doubt, In Honor will be extremely popular in my classroom and I really hope you read it.

Students Want to Know Megan Bostic

After telling my students about Megan Bostic’s debut Never Eighteen, they were looking forward to interviewing her.  Like many teens, my students are drawn to road trip books and stories dealing with cancer.  I’m very happy to add Never Eighteen to my class library.  Thank you for participating with us, Megan!

Summary of Never Eighteen (From Goodreads):

I had the dream again. The one where I’m running. I don’t know what from or where to, but I’m scared, terrified really.

Austin Parker is never going to see his eighteenth birthday. At the rate he’s going, he probably won’t even see the end of the year. But in the short time he has left there’s one thing he can do: He can try to help the people he loves live—even though he never will.

It’s probably hopeless.

But he has to try.

** Megan Bostic’s Website **

** Megan’s Blog: The Angsty Writer **

** Follow Megan on Twitter **

** Never Eighteen released in January, so make sure to get a copy 🙂 **

Erin:

  • What’s your favorite memory from when you were eighteen?

 So many good memories, it’s hard to pick just one, but I think I will go with a road trip weekend.  Two girlfriends and I drove from Tacoma, Washington to Portland, Oregon to visit my future college, University of Portland.

 My sister attended school there, so we had a place to stay.  We checked out the campus and journeyed through the dorms, meeting people and acting crazy.  On Saturday night, my sister had a party to introduce us to some of our future classmates.

  It was a lot of fun, and was nice to meet some people in advance, so I didn’t feel so overwhelmed starting college the following school year.  And of course, there is nothing like blasting the music and laughing with friends on a three hour drive.

 1987 Road Trip Playlist:

BEASTIE BOYS – (You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party)
R.E.M. – The One I Love
INXS – Need You Tonight
U2 – Where the Streets Have No Name
ECHO & THE BUNNYMEN – Lips Like Sugar
SMITHS – Girlfriend In a Coma
LOVE AND ROCKETS – Ball of Confusion
THE CURE – Why Can’t I Be You
THE CULT – Love Removal Machine
COMMUNARDS – Don’t Leave Me This Way

 Jessica T.:

  • Was there someone in your life that had a terminal disease that inspired you to write about this topic?

Yes.  Late in 2001, my mother-in-law was diagnosed with cancer.  By the time they found it, it had coursed throughout her body.  At the time, I had a home day care.  My husband and I decided to close up shop, and take her into our home to do hospice for her.  I saw firsthand the effects of the disease, chemo, and radiation on her body.  She’d also had a stroke a couple years earlier, and lost the ability to speak and eat. 

I had to feed her through a tube in her stomach.  I sat and “talked” (I talked, she wrote notes) with her.  I watched movies with her and sang to her.

The doctors gave her 6 months to a year to live, but sadly, she lasted just under three weeks, dying just before her 60th birthday.  Being a witness to the disease made me think about my own mortality, how I would feel, and what I would want to do if I only had a short time left to do it.  So the experience I had taking care of my mother-in-law definitely inspired me to write this story.

 Heather:

  • Did you use any symbolism in your book?

 To be honest, I don’t normally set out to use symbolism when I write, but I suppose subconsciously it just happens.

 At the beginning of the book, Austin can only stomach an apple for breakfast, he then tells Kaylee that’s what she should name her beloved Ford Mustang.  An apple normally suggests wisdom or knowledge.  Austin, though only seventeen has a wisdom beyond his years because of his disease, and he’s hoping to use that over the weekend to show the people he loves the value of life.

 The story takes place in autumn.  Autumn is a symbol for death as the leaves on the trees change, fall, and eventually die.  The cancer has changed Austin, physically, emotionally, mentally, and soon he will be facing death.

 Austin and Kaylee take a hike up Mount Rainier to see Comet Falls.  Mountains are the place where heaven meets earth, the closet we can get to God, so it’s only appropriate that Austin would make a pilgrimage up the mountain.  Water (Comet Falls) many times symbolizes rebirth, or purification.  Austin’s weekend journey is in a sense a cleansing of his soul.  He’s doing everything he can to help his loved ones see the value of life before his own life ends.

  •  What’s your favorite quote?

 So many, I’ll share a couple.

  • “Do or do not. There is no try.” ~Yoda
  • “My father was very sure about certain matters pertaining to the universe. To him, all good things–trout as well as eternal salvation–come by grace and grace comes by art and art does not come easy. ” ~ Norman Maclean, A River Runs Through It
  • “You must be the change you want to see in the world.”~ Mahatma Gandhi

 Arora:

  • My friend is an amazing writer, but doesn’t know what to do with her books.  Do you have any advice?

My first piece of advice would to get some constructive criticism.  She could join a critique group of like-minded writers and share her work.  Sometimes others are more capable of seeing the problems with our work.  She should also revise and edit make sure it’s to a point where it’s publishable. Perhaps hire an editor.  At that point she can decide whether to self-publish, which many are doing these days, or seek out an agent to help her get published traditionally.  A great resource for finding agents is agentquery.com

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