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Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Meet the Newbies || BOUND BY BLOOD AND SAND by Becky Allen || Interview and Giveaway

Meet the Newbies is an awesome feature created by one of our frequent guest reviewers, Rachel, at A Perfection Called Books. Today we are featuring author Becky Allen and her book BOUND BY BLOOD AND SAND. Check out our interview with her below, and don't forget to enter the giveaway!

Author Most Likely to Have Coffee Stains on Every Item of Clothing She Owns

Nickname: Smurf
First Day of School: October 11, 2016
Homeroom: Delacorte
Grade: YA fantasy
Extracurricular Activities: Literary Magazine (duh!), National Honor Society, band and drama clubs... and oh yeah, playing the VERY VITAL position of benchwarmer on the soccer team
Favorite Class: History (which I was good at); math (which I was bad at but enjoyed)
Favorite Quote/Motto: "There's power in looking silly and not caring that you do." -Amy Poehler (and everything else Amy has ever said, honestly!) 
  • Can you describe your book for us in 5 words?
Oppressive heat and oppressive society.
  • If you were an item on a Mexican Restaurant menu, what would you be and why? 
I would probably be a burrito, due to my tendency to grab blankets and roll up in them, even when it's warm out. On a related note, my bed is never made....
  • What research did you do, if any, for your setting and story? 
Most of my research centered around early civilizations, especially early uses of irrigation. I looked at what kinds of crops they developed first, which laid the background for what my characters would eat and wear and the basis for a lot of their civilization. One of the more fun things I did to get a sense of flora and fauna was watch the Planet Earth documentary episode about deserts - I love that documentary anyway, and it was a good reminder of how life can and does flourish even in extreme circumstances.
  • Is there a message you hope readers will get from this book? 
Yes! While I tried not to be didactic about it, like the five word summary implied, this is a book that's very much about oppression - I hope that readers will be able to see parallels to ways that our own society can be oppressive.
  • If someone asked you why they should read BOUND BY BLOOD AND SAND, what would you say
You should give it a read if you're interested in seeing an unusual fantasy setting, or if you want a story about what happens when people without power get pushed too far.


Best book you've read this year: THE GIRL FROM EVERYWHERE by Heidi Heilig

Favorite food: French toast

Favorite dessert: tiramisu

Favorite vacation spot: Any cute beachside town where I can alternately window shop and lay around in the sun

Best movie you've seen this year: Hail, Caesar!

by Becky Allen
Goodreads | Amazon

Jae is a slave in a dying desert world.

Once verdant with water from a magical Well, the land is drying up, and no one remembers the magic needed to keep the water flowing. If a new source isn’t found soon, the people will perish. Jae doesn’t mind, in a way. By law, she is bound by a curse to obey every order given her, no matter how vile. At least in death, she’ll be free.

Elan’s family rules the fading realm. He comes to the estate where Jae works, searching for the hidden magic needed to replenish the Well, but it’s Jae who finds it, and she who must wield it. Desperate to save his realm, Elan begs her to use it to locate the Well.

But why would a slave—abused, beaten, and treated as less than human—want to save the system that shackles her? Jae would rather see the world burn.

Though revenge clouds her vision, she agrees to help if the realm’s slaves are freed. Then Elan’s father arrives. The ruler’s cruelty knows no limits. He is determined that the class system will not change—and that Jae will remain a slave forever.

  • 1 Pre-Order or Finished Copy of Any Debut Novel Featured on Meet the Newbies
  • International (as long as The Book Depository ships to your country)
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Meet the Newbies is a blog event dedicated to introducing you to the “newbie” published debut authors. In this event, expect to learn more about the authors, their books, and silly fun facts! Check out the full Meet the Newbies lineup here.

Author Bio:

Becky Allen grew up in a tiny town outside Ithaca, New York, and graduated from Brandeis University with a major in American studies and a minor in journalism. She is the website director of, an online HIV resource, and loves New York, brunch, and feminism. Becky lives in New York City.

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Thursday, June 16, 2016

I Want to Eat This Book || THE MUSEUM OF HEARTBREAK by Meg Leder

Review by Jennifer

The Museum of Heartbreak
by Meg Leder
Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: Simon Pulse (June 7, 2016)
Language: English
Goodreads | Amazon

In this ode to all the things we gain and lose and gain again, seventeen-year-old Penelope Marx curates her own mini-museum to deal with all the heartbreaks of love, friendship, and growing up.

Welcome to the Museum of Heartbreak.

Well, actually, to Penelope Marx’s personal museum. The one she creates after coming face to face with the devastating, lonely-making butt-kicking phenomenon known as heartbreak.

Heartbreak comes in all forms: There’s Keats, the charmingly handsome new guy who couldn’t be more perfect for her. There’s possibly the worst person in the world, Cherisse, whose mission in life is to make Penelope miserable. There’s Penelope’s increasingly distant best friend Audrey. And then there’s Penelope’s other best friend, the equal-parts-infuriating-and-yet-somehow-amazing Eph, who has been all kinds of confusing lately.

But sometimes the biggest heartbreak of all is learning to let go of that wondrous time before you ever knew things could be broken…
I would like to devour this book so it could always be a part of me. So strange, I know! But this story was so amazing that I want it to permanently be a part of me so I won't forget! The main characters Penelope (Pen), Ephraim (Eph), Audrey, Keats and Cherisse are all well written. And seriously, those are their names!! All of Leder's characters are highly intelligent without being pretentious, which I loved. Plus a wide variety of literary references, carried throughout, are a lovely treat for avid readers!

Written in first person through Pen's point of view, as readers, we watch in admiration as her perceptions of life change. The main character is a strong, smart, young woman who realizes that people and things shape us. Pen figures out that we are always evolving, so try to allow the bad to shape you just as much as the good (wish this book had been around when I was a teenager, could have saved me a ton of tears!).

The story begins with present day heartbreak. Pen is devastated by her first heartbreak at age seventeen, so she decides to start her own museum of heartbreak. Regularly, she keeps a memento from someone that she loves and documents its meaning. These items have more importance in her life than she realized. The bulk of the story has Pen reflecting on the months leading up to her big heartbreak. Pen is one of a trio of friends; herself, Audrey and Eph (a boy). She is smart, passionately loves words and not into conformity.

Eph has been Pen's sidekick/best friend since they were 6 years old. Together they love words, dinosaurs, comics, and one another. He is also not a conformist but an amazing artist.

Audrey came into the picture in 3rd grade and together they made three. These friends grew up together, they know and deeply care for one another. The story delicately navigates changes in friendship, growing up, and trying to love and learn from it all.

The Museum of Heartbreak by Meg Leder had me laughing out loud, crying and reading at every spare moment. I read this story in one day but was inside Penelope Marx's head for a few months and loved every minute of her amazing evolution. This is a "must read again" on my list.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Giveaway || JULIA VANISHES by Catherine Egan || Magic, Thievery, Spies & Murder!

by Catherine Egan
Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers (June 7, 2016)
Language: English

Goodreads | Amazon
Julia has the unusual ability to be…unseen. Not invisible, exactly. Just beyond most people’s senses.

It’s a dangerous trait in a city that has banned all forms of magic and drowns witches in public Cleansings. But it’s a useful trait for a thief and a spy. And Julia has learned—crime pays.

Her latest job is paying very well indeed. Julia is posing as a housemaid in the grand house of Mrs. Och, where an odd assortment of characters live and work: A disgraced professor who sends her to fetch parcels containing bullets, spiders, and poison. An aristocratic houseguest who is locked in the basement each night. And a mysterious young woman who is clearly in hiding—though from what or whom?

Worse, Julia suspects that there’s a connection between these people and the killer leaving a trail of bodies across the frozen city.

The more she learns, the more she wants to be done with this unnatural job. To go back to the safety of her friends and fellow thieves. But Julia is entangled in a struggle between forces more powerful than she’d ever imagined. Escape will come at a terrible price.
Today as part of the JULIA VANISHES blog tour, Penguin Random House has offered a copy of JULIA VANISHES for a giveaway! Look for our review soon!

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About the Author

CATHERINE EGAN grew up in Vancouver, Canada. Since then, she has lived on a volcanic island in Japan (which erupted while she was there and sent her hurtling straight into the arms of her now-husband), in Tokyo, Kyoto, and Beijing, on an oil rig in the middle of Bohai Bay, then in New Jersey, and now in New Haven, Connecticut. She is currently occupied with writing books and fighting dragon armies with her warrior children. You can read more about her at Follow her on Twitter at @ByCatherineEgan.

Blog Tour Schedule:

May 17th: SciFiChick
May 18th: Bookhounds YA
May 20th- Jessabella Reads
May 24th: Book Swoon
May 27th: Great Imaginations
May 31st: The Young Folks
June 1st: The Fandom
June 10th: Butter My Books
June 15th: Reading Teen
June 17th: Fiction Fare
June 18th: Fangirlish

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

THE LOOSE ENDS LIST by Carrie Firestone || Who Needs a Bucket List? || Review and Giveaway

Review by Jackie

The Loose Ends List 
by Carrie Firestone
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Published by NOVL one June 7, 2016
Goodreads | Amazon

A refreshing, funny, and moving debut novel about first loves, last wishes, and letting go.

Seventeen-year-old Maddie O'Neill Levine lives a charmed life, and is primed to spend the perfect pre-college summer with her best friends and young-at-heart socialite grandmother (also Maddie's closest confidante), tying up high school loose ends. Maddie's plans change the instant Gram announces that she is terminally ill and has booked the family on a secret "death with dignity" cruise ship so that she can leave the world in her own unconventional way - and give the O'Neill clan an unforgettable summer of dreams-come-true in the process.

Soon, Maddie is on the trip of a lifetime with her over-the-top family. As they travel the globe, Maddie bonds with other passengers and falls for Enzo, who is processing his own grief. But despite the laughter, headiness of first love, and excitement of glamorous destinations, Maddie knows she is on the brink of losing Gram. She struggles to find the strength to say good-bye in a whirlwind summer shaped by love, loss, and the power of forgiveness.
Death, friendship, love: they’re all a part of life. They’re good and their bad. Sometimes they disappoint. Sometimes they’re all you’ve got left. When Maggie’s Gram announces she wants to take her family on a death with dignity cruise after being diagnosed with a terminal form of pancreatic cancer, those three parts of life come crashing into her. On this around the world boat trip, there’s amusing humans also facing death, as well as a certain beautiful boy with a hella swoony accent who may just be a Great Love.

The Loose Ends List is such a good book. I sat down the Saturday following my first week of IB testing and read this book. I mean, I prepped for mother’s day and finished up my article for HelloFlo, but then I sat down with this gorgeous book and read and read and finished it. Besides this being the prettiest book on my shelf, it’s also one with a totally swoony main dude. He definitely joins the ranks among Etienne and The Warden. Enzo, Enzo, Enzo. You, sir, are adorable and that accent. Ugh. Disgustingly attractive. The characters in this book really made the book. I mean from Enzo to Gram, to the rest of Maggie’s family: they were all fun to read about. At times I found them overwhelming and insane. I mean that in the best way.

Isn’t that family? Insane and beautiful and chaotic? This book nailed the family relationship to a tee—even it was a big more expensive, and a bit eccentric than the majority of families out there.

Let’s talk a little but more about plot itself, and how the book involves the characters and life so wonderfully. As I said before, they’re on a cruise where all the patients go with the intention of this being their last big adventure. Maddie makes a Loose Ends List. This is the inspiration for Gram’s adventure. This book follows that last big adventure. All feels and romance and last words. It’s gorgeous and amazing.

I want to talk about the idea of a Loose Ends List versus a Bucket List.

First off, the whole idea of tying up loose ends applies to everyone; you want to do thing before you graduate college or high school. Maybe you have things to finish up before you’re married. It could be as simple as some things you want to do before summer is over. On the other end of the spectrum is a Bucket List. This concept has been around forever. It’s a list of things you do before you kick the bucket. Things to do before you die. The loose ends list is a much happier approach to the end, whatever that end may be.

It’s pretty obvious, I bet, that I really like the idea. I’ll be adopting it.

I really liked the characters, I loved the plot, and the Loose Ends List sold me. I think everyone should read this. When your finished, go ahead and ooh and aah over the beautiful cover. It’s worth it.


3 Finished Copies of THE LOOSE ENDS LIST (US Only)

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Carrie Firestone has lived in rural, urban, and suburban places, and, while she currently lives in the suburbs, she is decidedly a CITY person. She loves parties, and all kinds of music, and books about random people doing random things in random places. She loves to travel with her husband, and two daughters, Lauren and Emily. When she isn’t writing, you might find her reluctantly sharing her popcorn at the movies, trying to get people (or dogs) to do a conga line, or adding items to her loose ends list.

LINKS: Website | Twitter | Facebook

Tour Schedule:
Week 1:

Week 2:

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Indie Spotlight | FLOWER IN THE HILLS by Norma Jean Lutz | Free Download

Whoa! Heads Up. There’s a Grandma in the House!

Grandma. Yep that’s me. The teenaged grandma. Kinda. Sorta.

Well, I AM a grandma. But I’m a grandma who LOVES teens. I’m a rare breed to be sure. Would you agree?

Writing FOR Teens; Hanging Out WITH Teens

I write for teens (and have for many long years). But I also hang out with teens. I’ve been a youth sponsor in my local church for over 15 years.

I never really planned it this way, but I’ve come to the conclusion that I have a secret teen magnet in my pocket. No matter where I am, teens seem to naturally gravitate to me. And I love it.

Since I can stretch all the way up to almost 5’, sometimes I get lost in the crowd. (That’s me in the middle of the silliness on the left.)

I’ve been a published author for over 30 years with over 50 published books to my credit. (Yes, that is 50 as in FIFTY!) For the most part, I’ve always written for teens. That’s my passion.

Re-Releasing Past Novels

I’ve been having great fun the past few years, re-releasing past titles of my teen novels. (Those novels that went out of print in the blink of an eye with a traditional publisher. Argh!) Six of these books are sweet teen romances and are included in the Norma Jean Lutz Classic Collection.

Flower in the Hills

The first title in the collection is Flower in the Hills. This is the story of Latina who expects that the summer before her senior year will be as usual. The family will spend the summer at their favorite beach resort and she’ll re-connect with Kent whom she flipped out over the summer before.

BUT… It’s not to be. Instead, the family winds up in an old farmhouse in the dark, foreboding hills in the Missouri Ozarks. Latina is mortified. She expects one ruined summer. Follow Latina as she experiences life in those brooding hills, and comes face to face with herself.

Flower in the Hills is a FREE download – your choice of the following:

Ø Kindle


Ø iTunes/iBooks

Yippee Skippy! What’s better than FREE? Check it out.

Let’s Connect
This is Norma Jean, the teenaged grandma, signing off!

Stay Cool!

*This Indie Spotlight is a sponsored post.