17 First Kisses

Finished 17 First Kisses by Rachael Allen.  I received a copy from the publisher for review.

Summary (from Goodreads):

No matter how many boys Claire kisses, she can’t seem to find a decent boyfriend. Someone who wouldn’t rather date her gorgeous best friend, Megan. Someone who won’t freak out when he learns about the tragedy her family still hasn’t recovered from. Someone whose kisses can carry her away from her backwoods town for one fleeting moment.

Until Claire meets Luke.

But Megan is falling for Luke, too, and if there’s one thing Claire knows for sure, it’s that Megan’s pretty much irresistible.

With true love and best friendship on the line, Claire suddenly has everything to lose. And what she learns—about her crush, her friends, and most of all herself—makes the choices even harder.

In her moving debut, Rachael Allen brilliantly captures the complexities of friendship, the struggles of self-discovery, and the difficulties of trying to find love in high school. Fans of Sarah Ockler, Susane Colasanti, and Stephanie Perkins will fall head over heels for this addictive, heartfelt, and often hilarious modern love story.”

This book is ridiculously sweet and fun.  This is the ideal vacation book, one that will make you smile but also make you think about the friends you had in high school.  There are so many nuances in these types of relationships and this book captures it perfectly.

It also shows just how easy it is to make poor decisions but also how nice it is to have the luxury of time to fix those mistakes.

Bird Box

Finished Bird Box by Josh Malerman.  I received a copy from the publisher for review.

Summary (from Goodreads):

Something is out there, something terrifying that must not be seen. One glimpse of it, and a person is driven to deadly violence. No one knows what it is or where it came from.

Five years after it began, a handful of scattered survivors remains, including Malorie and her two young children. Living in an abandoned house near the river, she has dreamed of fleeing to a place where they might be safe. Now that the boy and girl are four, it’s time to go, but the journey ahead will be terrifying: twenty miles downriver in a rowboat–blindfolded–with nothing to rely on but her wits and the children’s trained ears. One wrong choice and they will die. Something is following them all the while, but is it man, animal, or monster?

Interweaving past and present, Bird Box is a snapshot of a world unraveled that will have you racing to the final page.”

If you’re in the mood for something creepy, this is your book.  We don’t know what the monster is, only that if you see it, you will go crazy and you will kill yourself.  (And you may kill other people first.)  The paranoia behind this is incredible and I’m not even sure you can call it paranoia when the threat is very much real.

I absolutely loved this book, and it creeped me out beyond all reason.  I jumped at every noise and anything from outside was terrifying.

Highly recommended.

Saving Lucas Biggs

Finished Saving Lucas Biggs by Marisa de los Santos and David Teague.  I received a copy from the publisher for review.

Summary (from Goodreads):

When thirteen-year-old Margaret’s father is unfairly sentenced to death by the cruel Judge Biggs, she is determined to save him, even if it means using her family’s secret-and forbidden-ability to time travel. With the help of her best friend, Charlie, and his grandpa Josh, Margaret goes back to a time when Judge Biggs was a young boy and tries to prevent the chain of events that transformed him into a corrupt, jaded man.”

This book is absolutely gorgeous.  While there is a touch of the paranormal (enough so where this book would probably be shelved under “magical realism”), it mostly reads as a contemp novel.

I love the idea that you can sort of undo the horrible things that turn you into a bitter, unpleasant person.  (I’m not sure how true it is, but it feels like it could be.)

This is a sweet story and Marisa de los Santos’ middlegrade debut.  (I haven’t read David Teague at all.)  If you’ve read her adult novels, it shouldn’t surprise you to learn that the writing here is absolutely stunning.

Highly recommended.

Guyliner cover reveal

Title: Guyliner

Author: j. leigh bailey

Release Date: November 10th, 2015

Publisher: Spencer Hill Contemporary



Seventeen year old Conner works his butt off to maintain the Golden Boy persona he’s created. He has the grades, the extracurriculars, the athletics, the perfect girlfriend, and a part-time job at his dad’s shop. He does everything that’s expected of him and plans every detail to ensure he gets the college scholarships that will be his ticket out of the podunk town where he lives. The last thing he needs is an unexpected attraction to Graham, an eyeliner-wearing soccer phenom from St. Louis, who makes him question his choices, his dreams, and his sexuality. Sure, he’d noticed good-looking boys before—that doesn’t have to mean anything, right?—after all, he’s got a girlfriend. There’s no room on the agenda for a relationship with Graham. But the harder he fights his feelings for Graham the clearer it becomes that attraction doesn’t always follow the rules.

And when family pressures, bad luck, and rumors threaten to derail his carefully laid plans Connor must face the hardest question of all – does he even want the future he’s fighting so hard to create?

Me again:  So, confession.  I have read this book and it is AWESOME.  (I call that publicist privilege.)  You absolutely want to read it if you like love stories.  Not sold?  Check out this excerpt:


Connor rushed into the locker room already unzipping his duffle bag. The Student Council meeting had run behind schedule, making him late for practice. Coach Petrewski didn’t mind his athletes being involved in other activities, but he did expect that if it came to a scheduling conflict, baseball would take precedence. Connor whipped around a bay of lockers and collided with someone. As they fell to the floor in a tangle of arms and legs, Connor twisted his body so he hit the floor first. A sharp elbow knocked into his cheek and he hit his head against the tiled floor.

“Ow! Man, I’m sorry. Are you okay?” He shook his head to clear his vision and he got a look at the person he’d run into. Ice blue eyes rimmed with thick black eyeliner stared down at him.

“Crap!” Connor tried to jerk into a sitting position but Graham’s lanky body draped awkwardly over his. He stopped moving and stared at the other boy. Every cell in his body vibrated. It was like something out of a chick flick. Time stood still and he expected music to swell at any minute, a violin concerto to signify that that this was a Moment. A capital M Moment.

He swallowed hard and tried to moisten his dry mouth.

Graham didn’t speak, apparently caught in the same spell.

He didn’t know how long they lay there, just looking at each other, neither moving. It could have been seconds, minutes or days. What he did know was that, no matter how terrified the thought made him, Connor didn’t want the moment to end.

Buy Links:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Guyliner-J-Leigh-Bailey/dp/163392047X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1432124868&sr=8-1&keywords=guyliner

Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/guyliner-j-leigh-bailey/1121765209?ean=9781633920477

Book Depository: http://www.bookdepository.com/Guyliner-Leigh-Bailey/9781633920477

Indie Bound: http://www.indiebound.org/search/book?searchfor=guyliner&x=38&y=7

Author Bio and Social Media Links:


Author Bio:

j. leigh bailey is an office drone by day and the author of Young Adult and New Adult LGBTQ Romance by night. She can usually be found with her nose in a book or pressed up against her computer monitor. A book-a-day reading habit sometimes gets in the way of… well,
everything…but some habits aren’t worth breaking. She’s a firm believer that everyone, no matter their gender, age, sexual orientation or paranormal affiliation deserves a happy ending.

Author Social Media:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/jenniwrites

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JLeighBailey?fref=ts

Website: http://www.jleighbailey.net

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda

Finished Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli.  I received a copy from the publisher for review.

Summary (from Goodreads):

Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.

With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.”

I had heard nothing but amazing things about this book, and I went in with incredibly high expectations.

They were all met.

It’s impossible not to love Simon, and just as impossible not to fall for Blue the way Simon does.

We’ll start with Simon.  He’s sweet and smart and probably one of the most sarcastic guys I’ve ever met.  Still, it’s obvious that he’s got the best heart; he’s one of those people you know will be in your life forever.

And Blue.  Oh, Blue. :)  SIMON AND BLUE! I don’t want to talk too much about it, because I don’t want to ruin who Blue is, but it’s perfect.

This whole book is perfect.

Highly recommended.

BEA Goals

So, BEA is next week.  (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

I haven’t talked about it as much this year, but I am insanely excited.  The best part is that this is the first time one of my authors will be signing, so I will be helping with that.

I’ve also done my best to really scale back on what I’m going for.  I am so behind with books anyway, and the idea of coming home with a ton more—while exciting—is a little overwhelming.

SO, here at the 10 books I’m most excited to get.

1)  HELLO? by Liza Wiemer.  This is my author’s book, and I’ve already read it.  It’s amazing, and I am excited to have my VERY OWN COPY, signed to me.

2)  The Killing Kind by Chris Holm.  I’m a huge fan of his and this book sounds AMAZING.

3)  Tonight the Streets are Ours by Leila Sales.  Love her; need this.

4)  Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray.  I have been waiting what seems like 65 years for this; it’s the sequel to The Diviners.

5)  Truly Madly Famously by Rebecca Serle.  Famous in Love was one of the best books I got at BEA last year, and I need this book SO MUCH.  #TeamRainer

6)  Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo.  I’m using a line jump to get this.  I don’t know much about it, but it was compared to Ocean’s 11.  I’m in.

7)  Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling.  This will be my last get at BEA; I look forward to flailing all over her.

8)  These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly.  I’m in the mood for something creepy and this sounds perfect.

9)  Infinite In Between by Carolyn Mackler.  Compared to The Breakfast Club, so I’m in.

10)  My Secret to Tell by Natalie D. Richards.  I am a huge fan of hers and I’m so psyched for this.

Scarlett Undercover

Finished Scarlett Undercover by Jennifer Latham.  I received a copy from the publisher for review.

Summary (from Goodreads):

A voice-driven mystery perfect for fans of Veronica Mars.

Meet Scarlett, a smart, sarcastic, kick-butt, Muslim American heroine, ready to take on crime in her hometown of Las Almas. When a new case finds the private eye caught up in a centuries-old battle of evil genies and ancient curses, Scarlett discovers that her own family secrets may have more to do with the situation than she thinks — and that cracking the case could lead to solving her father’s murder.

Jennifer Latham delivers a compelling story and a character to remember in this one-of-a-kind debut novel.”

I absolutely loved this novel.  As the synopsis says, it’s perfect for fans of Veronica Mars, and that is definitely me.

Scarlett is the kind of character I love: smart, loyal, brave.  She doesn’t give up, ever.

I don’t read that much paranormal fiction these days, but the presence of genies and curses didn’t deter me at all.  It made the story a little more interesting and unusual but it also made sense in the context of the story.

Also—in the “We need diverse books” realm—Scarlett is Muslim and that’s not a big deal.  I love that so much!

Jennifer Latham is now a must-buy for me; I can’t wait for her next book.

Highly recommended.

Bone Deep Release Day Blitz

Bone Deep Cover

Title: Bone Deep

Author: Kim O’Brien

Release Date: May 19, 2015

Publisher: Spencer Hill Contemporary

Synopsis: When Paige Patterson travels to Arizona to spend the summer with her archeologist father, she expects answers. Why did her parents divorce? Why did her father choose his career over family? She doesn’t expect to be reunited with her best friend Emily Linton, a girl she has always admired and secretly wanted to emulate, or to find herself falling for the project manager’s son, Jalen Yazzi.

But the summer takes a terrible turn when Emily vanishes. As the police struggle for answers, Paige sets out to find the truth.

The search takes Paige from the Cliffside ruins of prehistoric Native Americans to the Navajo Nation to the horrifying possibility that the answer is much closer to home. Emily, it turns out, was not the only one good at hiding things.

Her father has no alibi for the night Emily disappeared. An intern with the motive insists he’s innocent. And Jalen has some secrets of his own.

Old bones might not be the only things buried in the ruins. As Paige digs deeper into Emily’s disappearance, she realizes that uncovering the truth may cost her everything—even her life.

Kim’s comments:

I chose this passage because it’s kind of creepy and I love the idea that people who have passed can come to us in dreams, communicating through our subconscious. When I was about twelve, my best friend’s mother had a brain aneurism and was taken to the hospital. I was very shy, very quiet around adults. So my friend’s mom and I looked at each other more than we talked. A couple of days after she’d gone to the hospital, I woke up and in the middle of the night and saw her face floating in the corner of my bedroom, near the ceiling. It was just her head, nothing else, and it glowed as if it were lit from within. The next morning, I found out she had died the night before. I never saw her image again.






In my bed, I lie with the covers pulled high looking up at the ceiling. Although I’ve been trying for hours, I can’t sleep. The room feels cold, much colder than usual— as if the thermostat is set to about fifty degrees.

I flip over. It’s just after two o’clock in the morning. I’m so tired my hands tingle, but I can’t sleep, not when Emily’s missing. I wonder if the police have Jeremy in custody. If they’ve found Emily. Another chill goes through me, and I tuck the quilt more tightly around my shoulders.

I’m thinking of getting up and putting on a pair of sweats when my door creaks and Emily walks into the room.

In the moonlight, her hair looks disheveled. Half her face is in shadow, but as she nears, I see it’s not the lack of light, but dust coating her left cheekbone.

“Oh my God! Emily!” I sit up straight. “You’re okay!”

“Paige!” She hurries to the edge of my bed. Her long pale hair falls forward as she leans over me. “I’ve been trying to get in touch with you.”

“Where were you?” I study every inch of her. She’s very pale, and there are small chunks of something plaster-like dangling in the strands of her hair.

“I got lost,” she states, a little sadly. “I’ve been walking for a while.” She looks down at her feet. “I lost my sneakers. Isn’t that funny, Paige? They disappeared when I was sleeping. I just woke up, and they were gone. Have you seen them?”

The question is odd, but I’m so happy to see her I don’t care. “No.”

Her shoulders sag. “Oh.”

“They’re not important,” I assure her. “What matters is that you’re back and you’re okay. What happened to you?”

Her face wrinkles. “I don’t know.” Her eyes move to the top left corner of their sockets, as if she’s thinking really hard. After a moment, she shakes her head. “I can’t remember.”

“Were you in a car accident?”

“I don’t think so.” She feels the back of her head with her hands and then grimaces. “God, my head hurts.”

Throwing my covers off, I swing my legs over the side of the bed. Emily stands very still as I throw my arms around her. “Stop trying to remember. It doesn’t matter what happened. I’m just so happy to see you.”

She smells strongly of roses, as if she has doused herself in perfume. It’s so unlike her that it takes my mind a second to register that her body is stone-cold in my arms and her skin feels hard and smooth as polished marble.

Stunned, I pull back far enough to look into her face. Only instead of Emily, she morphs into my mother, who leans over me, the strap of her silk nightgown slipping from her pale shoulder, her eyes black and angry.

“You didn’t see him, Paige,” she says. “You were dreaming.”

My alarm goes off, and I jolt upright. Heart pounding, I fumble for the off button and switch on the lamp. The room is empty, and it’s 2:13 in the morning. I pick up the clock to reset the alarm and discover it’s already at set for six—my usual time. So why did it go off? The dream was about Emily. So why then did my mother say, you didn’t see him?

Goodreads link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22757321-bone-deep?from_search=true

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/bone-deep-kim-obrien/1120338167?ean=9781633920026

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Bone-Deep-Kim-OBrien/dp/163392002X/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1431277035&sr=8-2&keywords=Kim+O%27Brien

The Book Depository: http://www.bookdepository.com/Bone-Deep-Kim-OBrien/9781633920026

IndieBound: http://www.indiebound.org/book/9781633920026

Kobo: http://www.kobobooks.com/ebook/bone-deep-9/book-ec4CBI6sVk2CsW5TXelP4w/page1.html

Author Bio and social media links:

Author Bio:

Kim_Obrien_Author Photo

Kim O’Brien grew up in an old Victorian house in Bronxville, NY. Her mother loved telling her bedtime stories, especially ones about the ghost in their attic. Kim not only believed the house was haunted but also fell in love with books and the art of storytelling.

At Emory University in Atlanta, Kim earned a B.A. in psychology. She then attained a M.F.A in writing from Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, NY. She worked for many years as a writer, editor, and speechwriter for IBM before becoming a full time fiction writer. She lives in Texas with her husband, daughters, and four-legged friend Daisy.

Kim is the author of eight inspirational romances and seven non-fiction children’s books. She loves to hear from her readers and can be found at www.kimobrienbooks.com/, Facebook, and Twitter (kimobri).

Author Social Media Links:


Website: http://www.kimobrienbooks.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/kimobri

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Kim-OBrien/210477652325110


The Royal We

Finished The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan.  I received a copy from the publisher for review.

Summary (from Goodreads):

“I might be Cinderella today, but I dread who they’ll think I am tomorrow. I guess it depends on what I do next.”

American Rebecca Porter was never one for fairy tales. Her twin sister, Lacey, has always been the romantic who fantasized about glamour and royalty, fame and fortune. Yet it’s Bex who seeks adventure at Oxford and finds herself living down the hall from Prince Nicholas, Great Britain’s future king. And when Bex can’t resist falling for Nick, the person behind the prince, it propels her into a world she did not expect to inhabit, under a spotlight she is not prepared to face.

Dating Nick immerses Bex in ritzy society, dazzling ski trips, and dinners at Kensington Palace with him and his charming, troublesome brother, Freddie. But the relationship also comes with unimaginable baggage: hysterical tabloids, Nick’s sparkling and far more suitable ex-girlfriends, and a royal family whose private life is much thornier and more tragic than anyone on the outside knows. The pressures are almost too much to bear, as Bex struggles to reconcile the man she loves with the monarch he’s fated to become.

Which is how she gets into trouble.

Now, on the eve of the wedding of the century, Bex is faced with whether everything she’s sacrificed for love-her career, her home, her family, maybe even herself-will have been for nothing.”

I absolutely adored this book.  I am a huge fan of the real royal couple—I was the person who DVRed their wedding and waited anxiously for both of the royal births.  So I am absolutely this book’s target audience.

While Nicholas and Bex aren’t exactly William and Kate (Bex is American, for one), there are definitely parallels (hello Ginger Prince Brother!).

This book is just a fun read, although there are also a lot of emotional depths here.  It’s a perfect vacation read, but at the same time, it’s not so shallow that you’ll feel guilty for reading it.

I’m hoping that there will be a sequel.  (There HAS TO BE, right?)  I’m also holding out hope for companion novels and, if so, the first one should be on Prince Freddie.

Highly recommended.

Gracefully Grayson

Finished Gracefully Grayson by Ami Polonsky (it may be spelled Amy; cover says Ami and Twitter says Amy).  I received a copy from the publisher for review.

Summary (from Goodreads):

Alone at home, twelve-year-old Grayson Sender glows, immersed in beautiful thoughts and dreams. But at school, Grayson grasps at shadows, determined to fly under the radar. Because Grayson has been holding onto a secret for what seems like forever: “he” is a girl on the inside, stuck in the wrong gender’s body.

The weight of this secret is crushing, but leaving it behind would mean facing ridicule, scorn, and rejection. Despite these dangers, Grayson’s true self itches to break free. Strengthened by an unexpected friendship and a caring teacher who gives her a chance to step into the spotlight, Grayson might finally have the tools to let her inner light shine.

Debut author Ami Polonsky’s moving, beautifully-written novel shines with the strength of a young person’s spirit and the enduring power of acceptance.”

I loved this book!  It’s incredibly important (in the wake of Leelah Alcorn’s suicide) but it never feels preachy.  It just shows what it’s like for Grayson, who is biologically a boy but who identifies as female.  I feel like this book is so timely but, as I said, it never feels like it’s an afterschool special.  (Do they even have those anymore?)

There’s a part at the end where Grayson is told that most people are good and that, if she pays attention (person says “you,” but I am saying “she” because that’s how Grayson identifies), she’ll see that people are reaching out.  I love this; it’s good advice for everyone.

This book is perfect for fans of Wonder and for anyone who wants to understand transgender people a little better.

Highly recommended.