Monday, March 16, 2015

5 Win PRETTY WANTED by Elisa Ludwig Plus New YA Releases This Week with Author Interviews

Can you believe it's the middle of March already? Yikes! But that just means we're gearing up for more and more great books. What are you excited about this week? Leave a comment and let us know!

Happy reading,

Martina, Jocelyn, Shelly, Jan, Susan, Lisa, and Erin


Pretty Wanted
by Elisa Ludwig
Signed Hardcover Giveaway
Katherine Tegen Books
Released 3/17/2015

Pretty Wanted is Elisa Ludwig’s rollicking finale to the Pretty Crooked trilogy, a series filled with moxie, romance, and heart that’s perfect for fans of Ally Carter or Sara Shepard.

When Willa skipped probation and hit the California highway to find her mom, she discovered a dark family secret: Joanne Fox is not who she says she is—and neither is Willa. Now Willa and her hot partner in crime, Aidan, must race to St. Louis, Missouri, where they hope to find answers about Willa’s past. But uncovering the truth requires solving a decades-old murder case. Unfortunately, the perps are still out there . . . and willing to do whatever it takes to keep the case cold.

Willa’s only hope is to find the truth before it finds her first.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Pretty Wanted?

My favorite thing about PRETTY WANTED is the way the story widens into a much bigger mystery, and the ways Willa grows as she's challenged to figure out the truth.

Purchase Pretty Wanted at Amazon
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Breaking Sky
by Cori McCarthy
Sourcebooks Fire
Released 3/10/2015

Winner Karina Hernandez

In this high-flying, adrenaline-fueled debut thriller, America's best hope is the elite teen fighter pilots of the United Star Academy

Chase Harcourt, call sign "Nyx," is one of only two pilots chosen to fly the experimental "Streaker" jets at the junior Air Force Academy in the year 2048. She's tough and impulsive with lightning-fast reactions, but few know the pain and loneliness of her past or the dark secret about her father. All anyone cares about is that Chase aces the upcoming Streaker trials, proving the prototype jet can knock the enemy out of the sky.

But as the world tilts toward war, Chase cracks open a military secret. There's a third Streaker jet, whose young hotshot pilot, Tristan, can match her on the ground and in the clouds. Chase doesn't play well with others, but to save her country she may just have to put her life in the hands of the competition.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Breaking Sky?

My favorite thing about BREAKING SKY is the relationships. The fictional Air Force academy that Chase lives in is much like a boarding school/dorm-like situation. Her roommate is her best friend--and also a boy! Which means that all of the tension, fights, and love are up close and personal. In many ways, Chase's environment is a teenage dream--to be in the company of hundreds of cadets while also being far from the strictures of parents--and yet the cadets are so far from their families that they have to rely on each other and form stronger bonds than friendship. They have to trust each other with their lives, which poses a whole new layer of problems when they start falling in love...

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Everybody Knows Your Name
by Andrea Seigel and Brent Bradshaw
Viking Books for Young Readers
Released 3/10/2015

Winner Catherine

Meet Magnolia.
Her father's dead, her boyfriend's ditched her to commit himself more fully to surfing, and her mother's depressed because she can't get cast on The Real Housewives of Orange County. All Magnolia wants is to reinvent herself.

Meet Ford.
Half his family is in jail, the other half probably should be, he shoplifted his way into a job at a record store, and his brother pawned his 1953 Telecaster for a quick buck. All Ford wants is to reinvent himself.

Ford, meet Magnolia.
When the two teens are cast in Spotlight, a reality TV singing competition, both see it as their chance to start anew. With each episode, as they live together in a Hollywood Hills mansion and sing their hearts out, Ford and Magnolia fall in love. But how genuine can that love be when a television audience is watching their every move—and when their pasts are catching up to them so much faster than they can run?

Perfect for fans of Pitch Perfect, and Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, Mindy Kaling, and Meg Cabot, Everybody Knows Your Name is a romantic comedy that delivers an unforgettable cast of characters (and way more laughs than any episode of American Idol).

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Everybody Knows Your Name?

I'm tempted to say that my favorite thing is that I got to write about introversion. That I got to use my character, Magnolia, to explain why I need to be alone after I've spent time in a group, why social situations tire me out. That was really satisfying in some deep-rooted way. But as much as I hate to admit it, I think my favorite part of the book is one that I didn't write. It's in Brent's part. I don't want to give any spoilers, but there's a passage toward the very end of the book that has Brent's character, Ford, discussing dying towns intertwined with his interpretation of the song "In The New Year" by The Walkmen. And I find those couple of pages exceptionally beautiful.

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Shadow Scale
by Rachel Hartman
Random House Books for Young Readers
Released 3/10/2015

Winner Danielle Degis

Seraphina took the literary world by storm with 8 starred reviews and numerous “Best of” lists. At last, her eagerly awaited sequel has arrived—and with it comes an epic battle between humans and dragons.

The kingdom of Goredd: a world where humans and dragons share life with an uneasy balance, and those few who are both human and dragon must hide the truth. Seraphina is one of these, part girl, part dragon, who is reluctantly drawn into the politics of her world. When war breaks out between the dragons and humans, she must travel the lands to find those like herself—for she has an inexplicable connection to all of them, and together they will be able to fight the dragons in powerful, magical ways.

As Seraphina gathers this motley crew, she is pursued by humans who want to stop her. But the most terrifying is another half dragon, who can creep into people’s minds and take them over. Until now, Seraphina has kept her mind safe from intruders, but that also means she’s held back her own gift. It is time to make a choice: Cling to the safety of her old life, or embrace a powerful new destiny?

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Shadow Scale?

Subject to change, of course, but right now my favourite thing is the villain, Jannoula. It was a challenge to create someone who deeply frightened me, on the one hand, and yet was almost sympathetic on the other. Villains who are evil for the sake of being evil don’t move me, particularly; I’d much rather see someone who’s doing evil but convinced she’s doing good, or who wants all the things I want but for horrifying reasons. Those kinds of villains are a lot of work, it turns out!

Purchase Shadow Scale at Amazon
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Silent Alarm
by Jennifer Banash
G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
Released 3/10/2015

Winner Anna Weimer

Alys’s whole world was comprised of the history project that was due, her upcoming violin audition, being held tightly in the arms of her boyfriend, Ben, and laughing with her best friend, Delilah. At least it was—until she found herself on the wrong end of a shotgun in the school library. Her suburban high school had become one of those places you hear about on the news—a place where some disaffected youth decided to end it all and take as many of his teachers and classmates with him as he could. Except, in this story, that youth was Alys’s own brother, Luke. He killed fifteen others and himself, but spared her—though she’ll never know why.

Alys’s downward spiral begins instantly, and there seems to be no bottom. A heartbreaking and beautifully told story.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Silent Alarm?

It seems strange to pick a favorite thing about a book that's largely about the aftermath of a school shooting, but if I had to pick, I'd say that my favorite thing about Silent Alarm is that it takes an unflinching look at the mess that is often left behind in the wake of tragic events. And hopefully, it leaves the reader with a little light creeping in out of the darkness, and some kind of a sense of hope.

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The Brilliant Light of Amber Sunrise
by Matthew Crow
Simon Pulse
Released 3/10/2015

Winner Shayanne Torres

Life threatening cancer brings two teens together in this funny, honest, and heartwrenching novel in the tradition of The Fault in Our Stars.

Francis is determined to forge his own way in school and life despite his loony, awkward, broken family...and noticeable lack of friends. Then he is diagnosed with leukemia. It wasn’t part of his strategy, but there are moments when he can see the upside. After all, people are nice to you when you’re sick.

While in the hospital, Francis meets Amber. She’s outspoken and sarcastic, and Francis falls for her almost immediately. Hard. Together, they take on the other cancer ward patients, overbearing mothers, and treatments with lively wit.

But Francis’s recovery is taking a different path from Amber’s. He’s actually getting better. And although he knew who he was before cancer, before Amber, now he has no idea how to live—or how to let go…

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about The Brilliant Light of Amber Sunrise?

As its author, my favourite thing is that I wrote almost exactly the book I had in mind, which virtually never happens. Writing is a long process. So by the time you’ve finished the first draft it is often an obscure, warped version of the story you’d imagined. The whole thing can feel a bit like playing Chinese Whispers with yourself. With The Brilliant Light’ I felt so certain of Francis’s voice that everything just seemed so easy. It was a joy to write and I’m proud of it.

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The Dickens Mirror
by Ilsa J Bick
Released 3/10/2015

Winner Amanda Machonis

Critically acclaimed author of The Ashes Trilogy, Ilsa J. Bick takes her new Dark Passages series to an alternative Victorian London where Emma Lindsay continues to wade through blurred realities now that she has lost everything: her way, her reality, her friends. In this London, Emma will find alternative versions of her friends from the White Space and even Arthur Conan Doyle.

Emma Lindsay finds herself with nowhere to go, no place to call home. Her friends are dead. Eric, the perfect boy she wrote into being, and his brother, Casey, are lost to the Dark Passages. With no way of knowing where she belongs, she commands the cynosure, a beacon and lens that allows for safe passage between the Many Worlds, to put her where she might find her friends—find Eric—again. What she never anticipated was waking up in the body of Little Lizzie, all grown up—or that, in this alternative London, Elizabeth McDermott is mad.

In this London, Tony and Rima are “rats,” teens who gather the dead to be used for fuel. Their friend, Bode, is an attendant at Bedlam, where Elizabeth has been committed after being rescued by Arthur Conan Doyle, a drug-addicted constable.

Tormented by the voices of all the many characters based on her, all Elizabeth wants is to get rid of the pieces under her skin once and for all. While professing to treat Elizabeth, her physician, Dr. Kramer, has actually drugged her to allow Emma—who’s blinked to this London before—to emerge as the dominant personality…because Kramer has plans. Elizabeth is the key to finding and accessing the Dickens Mirror.

But Elizabeth is dying, and if Emma can’t find a way out, everyone as they exist in this London, as well as the twelve-year-old version of herself and the shadows—what remains of Eric, Casey, and Rima that she pulled with her from the Dark Passages—will die with her.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about The Dickens Mirror?

A very smart pro-writer once told me that I should always try something new with every book. This is good advice. I mean, sure, we all know writers who do the same thing over and over again. Now, there’s nothing wrong with that. In a way, that’s as comforting as seeing a McDonald’s or a Starbucks and knowing your burger or coffee will taste the same, say, in Japan as it does in Iowa. (Actually, I’ve a friend who said that the Big Mac he had in Tokyo tasted suspiciously of fish.)

But you get what I’m driving at. People like routines; they like sameness. As a therapist, I can tell you that the hardest thing to effect is change. Change makes people anxious. Even if they say they’re miserable, people will fight you, tooth and nail, before they change their behavior. Believe it or not, a lot of people would rather avoid having to change, even if change is in their best interests. So, avoiding change . . . I understand that. There is comfort in sameness even if sameness isn’t good for you.

The thing is: sameness is also boring. There’s no challenge to it. If nothing ever changes—if the book you pick up is formulaic, has no surprises, no twists, and nothing out of the ordinary. . . okay, that’s like comfort food. That’s like macaroni and cheese for the brain. It’s fun . . . but it’s not particularly memorable.

Well, heck, if I’m going to spend all this time laboring over a book . . . you better remember it.

For me, doing what I’ve already done is death. My personal feeling is that, as a writer, you always have to try something you’ve never attempted. To do otherwise is an insult to your audience. Sure, okay, we all like macaroni and cheese. But if I had to make that for the husband ever day of my life . . . I’d probably kill him. In the end, he’d probably kill me just for variety’s sake.

So, in terms of THE DICKENS MIRROR, my favorite thing about the book is that I tried something I’d never done before. I know that the concept behind WHITE SPACE has never been done, period. The biggest challenge in DICKENS MIRROR was doing something completely different that you, the reader, hadn’t seen in the first book. That took enormous effort, too, because I had to delve into the world of historical fiction—a genre I’ve never tried and for which I have immense respect—and see if I could pull it off.

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The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B
by Teresa Toten
Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Released 3/10/2015

Winner Suzie Nelson

Deep, understated, and wise, this engaging YA novel, winner of the Governor General’s Award in Canada, is about more than the tough issue of teens dealing with obsessive-compulsive order. It also has romance, and a whodunit element that will keep readers guessing. Perfect for readers who love Eleanor & Park!

Adam Spencer Ross is almost fifteen, and he’s got his hands full confronting the problems that come with having divorced parents and new stepsiblings. Add to that his obsessive-compulsive disorder and it’s just about impossible for him to imagine ever falling in love. Adam’s life changes, however, the instant he meets Robyn Plummer: he is hopelessly, desperately drawn to her. But is it possible to have a normal relationship when your life is anything but?

Filled with moments of deep emotion and unexpected humor, The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B explores the complexities of living with OCD and offers the prospect of hope, happiness, and healing.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B?

I loved, loved, loved writing about a boy! Adam is my first male protagonist. Of course, it was helpful that I fell in love with him on the first page. Don’t get me wrong—it was also absolutely nerve-wracking. I so wanted to get my boy stuff right. I drove all the guys around me crazy with a million questions including some pretty personal and detailed ones. I will be forever grateful to the young men and (some older ones) who really set me straight on what a guy notices, how he reacts to um, stimuli, how he moves through the world and how overwhelming a first love is. Girls, I swear, we don’t know the half of it!

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by N. K. Traver
Thomas Dunne Books
Released 3/17/2015

A computer-hacking teen. The girl who wants to save him. And a rogue mirror reflection that might be the death of them both.

In private, seventeen-year-old Brandon hacks bank accounts just for the thrill of it. In public, he looks like any other tattooed bad boy with a fast car and devil-may-care attitude. He should know: he’s worked hard to maintain that façade. With inattentive parents who move constantly from city to city, he’s learned not to get tangled up in things like friends and relationships. So he’ll just keep living like a machine, all gears and wires.

Then two things shatter his carefully-built image: Emma, the kind, stubborn girl who insists on looking beneath the surface – and the small matter of a mirror reflection that starts moving by itself. Not only does Brandon’s reflection have a mind of its own, but it seems to be grooming him for something—washing the dye from his hair, yanking out his piercings, swapping his black shirts for … pastels. Then it tells him: it thinks it can live his life better, and it’s preparing to trade places.

And when it pulls Brandon through the looking-glass, not only will he need all his ill-gotten hacking skills to escape, but he’s going to have to face some hard truths about who he’s become. Otherwise he’ll be stuck in a digital hell until he’s old and gray, and no one will even know he's gone.

Huffington Post lists N.K. Traver's Duplicity as part of one of the great YA book trends to look for in 2015!

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Duplicity?

My favorite thing about the book is how much darn fun I had writing it. There’s something about tormenting someone with their own mirror reflection that is immensely satisfying.

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Everything That Makes You
by Moriah McStay
Katherine Tegen Books
Released 3/17/2015

One girl. Two stories. Meet Fiona Doyle. The thick ridges of scar tissue on her face are from an accident twelve years ago. Fiona has notebooks full of songs she’s written about her frustrations, her dreams, and about her massive crush on beautiful uber-jock Trent McKinnon. If she can’t even find the courage to look Trent straight in his beautiful blue eyes, she sure isn’t brave enough to play or sing any of her songs in public. But something’s changing in Fiona. She can’t be defined by her scars anymore.

And what if there hadn’t been an accident? Meet Fi Doyle. Fi is the top-rated female high school lacrosse player in the state, heading straight to Northwestern on a full ride. She’s got more important things to deal with than her best friend Trent McKinnon, who’s been different ever since the kiss. When her luck goes south, even lacrosse can’t define her anymore. When you’ve always been the best at something, one dumb move can screw everything up. Can Fi fight back?

Hasn’t everyone wondered what if? In this daring debut novel, Moriah McStay gives us the rare opportunity to see what might have happened if things were different. Maybe luck determines our paths. But maybe it’s who we are that determines our luck.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Everything That Makes You?

I love the dual story lines. ETMY is like two contemporary YAs wrapped in one. Fiona and Fi’s story’s overlap in certain ways—same family, same school—but the two girls are different people, with different fears, goals and needs. There’s no magic, just speculation. I enjoyed crafting two different characters, as well as the puzzle of weaving their lives together.

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The Wrong Side of Right
by Jenn Marie Thorne
Dial Books
Released 3/17/2015

Fans of Sarah Dessen and Huntley Fitzpatrick will enjoy this smart debut young adult novel, equal parts My Life Next Door and The Princess Diaries—plus a dash of Aaron Sorkin.

Kate Quinn’s mom died last year, leaving Kate parentless and reeling. So when the unexpected shows up in her living room, Kate must confront another reality she never thought possible—or thought of at all. Kate does have a father. He’s a powerful politician. And he’s running for U.S. President. Suddenly, Kate’s moving in with a family she never knew she had, joining a campaign in support of a man she hardly knows, and falling for a rebellious boy who may not have the purest motives. This is Kate’s new life. But who is Kate? When what she truly believes flies in the face of the campaign’s talking points, she must decide. Does she turn to the family she barely knows, the boy she knows but doesn’t necessarily trust, or face a third, even scarier option?

Set against a backdrop of politics, family, and first love, this is a story of personal responsibility, complicated romance, and trying to discover who you are even as everyone tells you who you should be.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about The Wrong Side of Right?

I loved hanging out with this cast of colorful characters day after day--especially Andy Lawrence. He's a charmer, that one.

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Hold Me Closer: The Tiny Cooper Story
by David Levithan
Dutton Books for Young Readers
Released 3/17/2015

It’s Tiny Cooper’s turn in the spotlight in this companion novel to New York Times bestseller Will Grayson, Will Grayson.

Jazz hands at the ready! Tiny Cooper (“the world’s largest person who is also really, really gay”) stole readers’ hearts when he was introduced to the world in the New York Times bestselling book Will Grayson, Will Grayson, co-authored by John Green and David Levithan. Now Tiny finally gets to tell his story—from his fabulous birth and childhood to his quest for true love and his infamous parade of ex-boyfriends—the way he always intended: as a musical! Filled with honesty, humor, and “big, lively, belty” musical numbers, the novel is told through the full script of the musical first introduced in Will Grayson, Will Grayson.

Purchase Hold Me Closer: The Tiny Cooper Story at Amazon
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Under a Painted Sky
by Stacey Lee
G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
Released 3/17/2015

A powerful story of friendship and sacrifice, for fans of Code Name Verity

Missouri, 1849: Samantha dreams of moving back to New York to be a professional musician—not an easy thing if you’re a girl, and harder still if you’re Chinese. But a tragic accident dashes any hopes of fulfilling her dream, and instead, leaves her fearing for her life. With the help of a runaway slave named Annamae, Samantha flees town for the unknown frontier. But life on the Oregon Trail is unsafe for two girls, so they disguise themselves as Sammy and Andy, two boys headed for the California gold rush.

Sammy and Andy forge a powerful bond as they each search for a link to their past, and struggle to avoid any unwanted attention. But when they cross paths with a band of cowboys, the light-hearted troupe turn out to be unexpected allies. With the law closing in on them and new setbacks coming each day, the girls quickly learn that there are not many places to hide on the open trail.

This beautifully written debut is an exciting adventure and heart-wrenching survival tale. But above all else, it’s a story about perseverance and trust that will restore your faith in the power of friendship.

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