Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Release Day Blitz: AN EMBER IN THE ASHES (Sabaa Tahir) + Giveaway


One of the most anticipated YA reads of this year, AN EMBER IN THE ASHES by Sabaa Tahir, releases today, and I am excited to share in the celebration! If you haven’t yet heard about this wonderful book be sure to check out all the details below, along with a special introduction from Sabaa herself! And don't miss out on the giveaway at the end for signed copies of the book, along with some awesome sword letter openers, courtesy of Sabaa, Penguin Teen, and Rockstar Book Tours!


A letter from Sabaa Tahir

Dear Readers,

Today, my “baby” AN EMBER IN THE ASHES is finally out in the world! From inception to pub date, this journey took eight years. And what a journey it was: writing, rewriting, revising, editing, querying, submitting; Meeting other debuts, bloggers, booksellers and librarians, and hearing their thoughts on EMBER. There aren’t enough superlatives to describe the radness.

And now, the book is here! I am so excited to see it in the hands of readers. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. To celebrate release day, I’m giving away two signed, first-edition hardcovers of the book. Details below!

All my best,

Sabaa

ABOUT THE BOOK

Title: AN EMBER IN THE ASHES
Author: Sabaa Tahir
Pub. Date: April 28, 2015
Publisher: Razorbill
Pages: 464
Summary:

Set in a terrifyingly brutal Rome-like world, An Ember in the Ashes is an epic fantasy debut about an orphan fighting for her family and a soldier fighting for his freedom. It’s a story that’s literally burning to be told.

LAIA is a Scholar living under the iron-fisted rule of the Martial Empire. When her brother is arrested for treason, Laia goes undercover as a slave at the empire’s greatest military academy in exchange for assistance from rebel Scholars who claim that they will help to save her brother from execution.

ELIAS is the academy’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias is considering deserting the military, but before he can, he’s ordered to participate in a ruthless contest to choose the next Martial emperor.

When Laia and Elias’s paths cross at the academy, they find that their destinies are more intertwined than either could have imagined and that their choices will change the future of the empire itself.


Add it to Goodreads
PURCHASE LINKS:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sabaa Tahir grew up in California’s Mojave Desert at her family’s 18-room motel. There, she spent her time devouring fantasy novels, raiding her brother’s comic book stash and playing guitar badly. She began writing An Ember in the Ashes while working nights as a newspaper editor. She likes thunderous indie rock, garish socks and all things nerd. Sabaa currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her family.






GIVEAWAY
  • 2 winners will receive a signed hardcover of AN EMBER IN THE ASHES. US Only.
  • 3 winners will receive a hardcover of AN EMBER IN THE ASHES and a Sword Letter Opener! US Only.
  • Ends on May 9th at Midnight EST

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Friday, April 24, 2015

The #FridayReads Review (4/24/15)



Welcome to The Friday Reads Review, a regular Friday segment where I share what I've been reading the past week! Want to join the Friday fun? Post your own Friday Reads Review on your blog, and then leave the link in the Comments below!


>> CURRENTLY READING <<
The Winner's Curse (The Winner's Trilogy, #1)The Fangirl's Guide to the Galaxy: A Handbook for Girl Geeks

The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski (ARC)
With the author coming in May and the surprise arrival of an ARC of Book 2, I decided it was time to give this beauty a re-read. I had problems with it the first time and hoped it was just my mood at the time, but I'm having the same problems with the writing this time as well. I will be finishing it though, and following with Book 2 - perhaps it'll grow on me!

The Fangirl's Guide to the Galaxy by Sam Maggs (HBK)
Fangirls rejoice, our bible is finally here! I've been a fangirl for over a decade and a half now but haven't delved too far into fandom, so this is proving the crash course I was hoping for!


>> JUST FINISHED <<
Hold Me Like a Breath (Once Upon a Crime Family, #1)Meteor Prince, Vol. 2

Hold Me Like a Breath by Tiffany Schmidt (ARC)
4 Stars. An engrossing, surreal tale about grief, love, family, and finding the strength to stand on your own. Review to come. 

Meteor Prince vol. 2 by Meca Tanaka (PBK)
4.5 Stars. Loved! Sweet and funny and adorable. Highly recommend the two-volume series for a quick shot of romantic comedy.


>> READING NEXT <<
The Winner's Crime (The Winner's Trilogy, #2)
The Winner's Crime by Marie Rutkoski (ARC)
Let's see if this gets better...


So what are you reading this week?

Monday, April 20, 2015

HOLD ME LIKE A BREATH (Tiffany Schmidt) Trailer Reveal, Excerpt, Preorder Prizes & Giveaway!


Today I'm excited to help reveal the trailer (and an excerpt!) for Hold Me Like a Breath by Tiffany Schmidt, an intense and engaging YA Suspense from Bloomsbury! Also, the publisher is offering preorder prizes for their Boldly Bookish tour - lots of awesome swag is up for grabs, so be sure to check out the info below! And then don't miss the giveaway at the end for a copy of Hold Me Like a Breath - I just finished reading it this weekend and highly recommend it!


Hold Me Like a Breath (Once Upon a Crime Family, #1)

Hold Me Like a Breath (Once Upon a Crime Family #1)
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Release Date: May 19th 2015
Synopsis:

Penelope Landlow has grown up with the knowledge that almost anything can be bought or sold—including body parts. She’s the daughter of one of the three crime families that control the black market for organ transplants.

Penelope’s surrounded by all the suffocating privilege and protection her family can provide, but they can't protect her from the autoimmune disorder that causes her to bruise so easily.

And in her family's line of work no one can be safe forever.

All Penelope has ever wanted is freedom and independence. But when she’s caught in the crossfire as rival families scramble for prominence, she learns that her wishes come with casualties, that betrayal hurts worse than bruises, that love is a risk worth taking . . . and maybe she’s not as fragile as everyone thinks.





HOLD ME LIKE A BREATH
by Tiffany Schmidt

There was always a moment as I rolled down the long driveway toward the high fence surrounding the estate when my breath caught in my chest and I doubted my decision to leave. Anything could happen to me outside the perimeter of our property.
Carter interrupted my thoughts. “I told Mother we’re going to see a musical. You know what’s playing and can pick one, right?”
Of course I did. I spent hours on NYC websites, blogs, and forums. Someday I’d go into a long remission. Someday I’d live there and walk the streets of promise, freedom, and opportunity they sang about in Annie, a play I’d seen with Father on Broadway right before my life turned purple and red.
“Really?” It made sense that Mother would agree to a play. It would be safe, a seated activity. The chairs would mark out defined personal space, and I’d be perfectly cocooned between my brother and his best friend/guard, Garrett Ward. It made a whole lot less sense that Carter would voluntarily attend the theater.
He lowered his window and called a greeting to Ian, the guard on gate duty. Once his window was closed and the gate was shutting behind us, he snorted. “No, not really. That’s just what I said to buy you some extra time.”
“You should at least listen to the score then,” I countered. “You know she’s going to want to discuss it. Or, if she doesn’t, Father will. He’ll probably perform it if I ask.”
“Then don’t ask,” said Carter. “Fine. Pick a show and Garrett can download the soundtrack. We’ll listen to it once, then I get the radio for the rest of the drive—no complaints.”
It was more than I’d expected; he truly felt guilty about being so MIA. “There’s a revival of Once Upon a Mattress that’s getting great reviews.”
They snickered.
Once Upon a Mattress? That sounds like—”
I cut my brother off. “Don’t go there! It’s a fairy tale, gutterbrain.”
“Of course it is,” laughed Garrett.
I’m pretty sure the subtext of that laugh was you’re such a child. I swallowed a retort. Freedom was too rare a thing to waste arguing. And I’d never had Korean barbecue. I’d never even heard of it. There were so many things I’d never seen, tasted, experienced . . . Tension melted into giddy anticipation, bubbling in my stomach like giggles waiting to escape.
“So, how’d your super-secret errand go?” I asked. “Was it something exciting? Something illegal?”
Garrett met my gaze in the rearview mirror and shook his head.
But it was too late. Carter’s expression darkened. “Everything we do is illegal. It’s not a game where you get to pick and choose which crimes you’re okay with.”
“So it didn’t go well,” I muttered under my breath.
I knew it wasn’t a game, and I knew the Family Business was against the law. I’d known it for so long it was easy to forget. Or remember only in a vague way, like knowing the sky is blue without paying any attention to its blueness.
Only in those moments when things went wrong—when lazy clouds were replaced by threats and storms, when someone got hurt or killed—only then did I stare down the reality of the Business through a haze of grief and funeral black. My fingers tensed on the edge of the seat.
“Ignore him,” said Garrett. “He’s just pissy because the people we were supposed to meet with stood us up.”
“Someone dared to no-show for a meeting with the mighty Carter Landlow?” I teased, hoping to break the gloom settling in the car like an unwelcome passenger. “I assumed it was a Business errand, but if someone stood you up, it must be a girl.”
“No offense, Pen, but you don’t have a clue what’s going on in the Business.”
No offense, Carter, but you’re being a—”
“Who wants to hear some songs about mattresses?” interrupted Garrett. He reached for the stereo, but Carter swatted his hand away.
“I’m not an idiot,” I said. And wishing for things that had been denied for so long was idiotic. No less so than repeatedly bashing your head against a wall or touching a hot iron. I knew the answer was no, was always going to be no, so asking to be included in Family matters was like volunteering to be a punch line for one of the Ward brothers’ jokes.
But I knew the basics. It wouldn’t be possible to live on the estate, spend so much time in the clinic, and not know. The first person to explain it to me had been my grandfather; fitting, since he was the man who’d reacted to the formation of FOTA—the Federal Organ and Tissue Association—by founding our Family.
The same day I’d demanded a kidney for Kelly Forman, he’d sat me down and demonstrated using a plate of crackers and cheese. “When donation regulation was moved from the FDA to FOTA, they added more restrictions and testing.” He ate a few of the Ritz-brand “organs” on his plate, shuffled the empty cheese slices that represented humans who needed transplants. “This, combined with a population that’s living longer than ever
before”—he plunked down several more slices of cheese—“created a smaller, slower supply and greater demand.” He built me an inside-out cheese-cracker-cheese sandwich. “It was a moment of opportunity, and when you see those in life, you take them.”
This felt like a moment of opportunity. And not to prove that I wasn’t an idiot by listing all the facts I knew—about how the Families provided illegal transplants for the many, many people rejected from or buried at the bottom of the government lists. How more than two-thirds of those who made it through all the protocols to qualify for a spot on the official transplant list died before receiving an organ. Or to recite the unofficial Family motto: Landlows help people who can’t afford to wait, but can afford to pay.
“Fine, tell me what I don’t know,” I said. “Tell me what’s going on, why you and Father are fighting, and what’s keeping you so busy. Tell me everything.”
Garrett muttered something that sounded suspiciously like “Don’t do this,” but since my brother ignored him, I did too.
Carter’s eyes met mine in the rearview mirror. “None of this leaves the car, Pen. I’m trusting you.”
“I understand.” I sat a little straighter. “And I promise.”
A phone beeped with a text alert, almost immediately followed by a ringtone that made them jump. Carter picked up his cell, swore, showed the screen to Garrett, then swore again. All the buoyancy of freedom seemed to evaporate from the car.
“Now? They blow us off earlier and expect us to answer now?” said Garrett.
“Well, it’s not like these things can be scheduled,” replied Carter, jabbing the screen of his cell. “Hello?”
He muttered low and furious into the phone, then hung up, still cursing. “We have to do the pickup.”
Garrett’s frowned. “No one else can do it?”
He shook his head.
“Pick up what?” I asked.
Carter opened his mouth, but Garrett put a hand on his arm. “She’s seventeen. Let her be seventeen. There’s plenty of time to get her involved later.”
“When we were seventeen we were already sitting on council, visiting the clinics, meeting with patients. She can’t even tell a kidney scar from a skin graft—she needs to catch up.”
She can make her own decisions, she is sitting right here, and she is coming along to what ever this mysterious pickup is, so she’s already involved,” I snapped.
“You are not coming,” said Garrett.
“We don’t have a choice, unless you want me to leave her on the side of the highway. This is our exit.” Carter was clutching his cell phone, shaking it as if that could erase what ever the text instructed him to do.
Garrett groaned. “You’re staying in the car.”
I hid my smile by looking out the window. It had gotten dark while we were driving, the dusky purple of summer evenings. On the estate these nights buzzed with a soundtrack of cicadas and crickets, but there was no nature outside the car. Nothing but concrete and pavement and cinder-block industrial construction. We pulled into a parking lot. A poorly lit, empty parking lot.
“Where are we? What are we picking up?” I examined Garrett’s stiff posture and the bright gleam in my brother’s eyes. “Does Father know about this Business errand?”
“No, and you’re not going to tell him,” Carter answered.
“Oh, really? So what am I going to do?”
“Stay in the car. Lock the doors. Keep the windows up.” Carter turned around to look me in the eye. “This isn’t a joke, Pen. If I’d known this was going to come up, I would’ve left you at home.”
“Please, princess,” added Garrett in a soft voice, but his eyes didn’t leave the windshield, didn’t stop their scan of the parking lot.
“Fine, but when you’re done, you’re filling me in. Then I can decide if I want to be part of it or not.” It was all false bravado. Each one of Carter’s statements tied another knot in my stomach; Garrett’s plea pulled them tighter.
Carter dumped a half dozen mints from the plastic container in his cup holder into his mouth—like his breath mattered, like this was a date not a disaster. He waved the container at us, but we shook our heads. He crunched the candies and said, “Gare,
you’re hot, right?”
I blurted out, “You can turn on the A/C, I’m not cold,” before I caught on: Garrett pulled a gun from a holster below the back of his shirt.
They laughed, but it wasn’t funny to me. I’d been to too many funerals—they’d been to more. I wanted to ask how long he’d been “hot.” If he always had a gun on him. Had he when we went mini golfing at Easter? Or the time last summer when I slipped on the pool deck and he’d carried me to the clinic? No. He couldn’t have then. He’d been wearing a swimsuit too—there’s no way he could’ve hidden a gun.
So what had happened in the past year, and why was he carrying one now?
Garrett was Family, he was a Ward, but he wasn’t supposed to follow his brothers’ footsteps. Or his father’s. They were enforcers, but he didn’t belong in their grim-faced, split knuckles ranks. That was why he was in college with Carter—Garrett was going to be his right-hand man when my brother took over the Business.
Not a thug with a gun.
“Stay here, Pen,” Carter said again, then slipped out into the night. His keys still dangled from the ignition, the engine still hummed.
Garrett lingered an extra moment. “This shouldn’t take long. And everything’s okay. I don’t want you to worry.”
“I’m not.” I would’ve sounded believable if my voice wasn’t quivering. If I weren’t clutching fistfuls of my dress.
“You’re cute when you’re worried.” Garrett winked, and then he too was out in the darkness and humidity and I was alone.
I tried to lower my window—just a crack, enough to let in voices but not even mosquitoes—except Carter must’ve engaged some sort of child lock. I stared out the tinted glass, watched as their shadows grew gigantic on the wall as they approached the
ware house, then disappeared around its corner.
No matter how hard I concentrated, my eyes couldn’t adjust enough to make sense of the dark. Maybe it was the placement of the parking lot lights—how I had to peer through them to see the warehouse beyond.
After they’d left this afternoon, I’d rushed to the clinic to model different outfits for Caroline. She’d teased. We’d laughed. I’d blushed and daydreamed about the lovely combination of me, Garrett, and NYC.
But in my daydreams, Garrett hadn’t been wearing a gun.
And now we were parked somewhere made of shadows and secrets and fear that sat on my tongue like a bitter hard candy that wouldn’t dissolve.
The car still smelled like them. Their seats were still warm when I leaned forward and pressed my hands against the leather. But I couldn’t see them. What if the dark decided never to spit them back out again?
This wasn’t the Business as I knew it: secret transplant surgeries that took place at our six “Bed and Breakfasts” and “Spas” in Connecticut, Vermont, Maryland, Maine, Massachusetts, and South Carolina, where we saved people like Kelly Forman. She’d been ten when she needed a kidney transplant, but her chromosomal mutation—unrelated to her renal impairment—earned her a rejection from the Federal Organ and Tissue Agency’s lists. According to them, Down syndrome made her a “poor medical investment.” FOTA wrote her a death warrant. We saved her life.
She graduated from high school a few weeks ago. The past nine years since we’d met—she wouldn’t have had those without the Family Business.
That was enough. That was all I needed to know. Illegal or not, that was good.
I heard something. A crack so sharp it echoed and seemed to fill the spaces between my bones, making me shiver. I prayed it was a car backfiring.

Then it happened again.



For more information click here.

This spring, Bloomsbury's sending four amazing authors—Trish Doller, A.C. Gaughen, Emery Lord, and Tiffany Schmidt—to bookstores together for our Boldly Bookish tour. To celebrate it, they are giving away some goodies! All you have to do is buy one of the following books: The Devil You Know, Lion Heart, The Start of Me and You and/or Hold Me Like A Breath and email your receipt to teensusa@bloomsbury.com in order to receive one of the following prizes:
  • Preorder 1 of the books pictured above, and get a Boldly Bookish logo sticker.
  • Preorder 2 of the books pictured above, and get a sticker + a Boldly Bookish bookmark!
  • Preorder 3 of the books pictured above, and get a sticker + bookmark + a Boldly Bookish button!
  • Preorder all 4 of the books pictured above, and get a sticker + bookmark + button + a Boldly Bookishmagnet!
And remember, the more books you preorder, the more Boldly Bookish swag you get!




Tiffany Schmidt lives in Pennsylvania with her saintly husband, impish twin boys, and a pair of mischievous puggles. She's not at all superstitious... at least that's what she tells herself every Friday the thirteenth.

Tiffany has two previous YA books: SEND ME A SIGN (2012) and BRIGHT BEFORE SUNRISE (2014) from Walker Childrens. The ONCE UPON A CRIME FAMILY series begins with HOLD ME LIKE A BREATH (2015), and will follow with BREAK ME LIKE A PROMISE in 2016. 


Thursday, April 16, 2015

Review: The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B (Teresa Toten)

The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B
Title: The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B
Series: standalone
Author: Teresa Toten
Publisher: Delacorte BYR
Release Date: March 10, 2015
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Content Rating: Teen (language, sensuality, harassment)
Format Read: ARC (EpicLibrarian)
Find It OnGoodreads
Summary:

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.


*          *          *

In a SentenceA funny but bittersweet contemporary that made me laugh, made me cry, and broke my heart a little, but it was worth the hurt and worth the read. 

I'm rarely one for contemporary, but I just couldn't resist this book's fun, colorful cover and unique title. I really had no idea what to expect going in though, and was pleasantly surprised not only by how much the story engaged me but how much I got out of it.

The plot is a simple one, a sort of slice of life story about a 14 year-old boy with OCD who falls in love with a 16 year-old girl from his OCD superhero support Group while dealing with some seriously crazy family issues. The romance was instant but really sweet, and Adam's immediate obsession with Robyn fit his OCD for me so I immediately accepted it. The crazy family issues added a dark mystery element to the otherwise surprisingly lighter story that, while it kept me guessing, did bring down the mood a bit. But it was a necessary evil, and luckily the superhero support Group were there to raise the mood with their antics and adventures. Also, despite his own problems, Adam's little stepbrother Sweetie brightened every one of his thankfully many scenes. The end was bittersweet but moving (of course I cried) - I don't consider it a "happy" ending, but it was definitely hopeful.

The thing I liked most was learning about OCD from the perspective of someone with the disorder. I've always known about OCD, but apparently not what it really involves, or how broad a term it is. This book offers an opportunity to learn about the disorder's many facets in an environment of humor and transition and discovery, and I now understand it better than any instructional article or book could've ever tried to teach me.

Conclusion: While a little heartbreaking, this was essentially a heartwarming story that I am so glad I read. I learned a lot about a lot - life, love, family, OCD - and highly recommend this sweet and simple story to absolutely everyone. Even (and maybe especially) those who aren't contemporary readers, like me - expand your world a little! I certainly didn't regret it.


Scribble Rating
4 out of 5 Scribbles


Monday, April 13, 2015

Book Blast: THEY CALL ME ALEXANDRA GASTONE (T.A. Maclagan) + Giveaway


Welcome to the Book Blast for 
They Call Me Alexandra Gastone 
by T.A. Maclagan!

They Call Me Alexandra Gastone

They Call Me Alexandra Gastone
Author: T.A. Maclagan
Release Date: May 20, 2015
Publisher: Full Fathom Five Digital

When your life is a lie, how do you know what’s real?

Alexandra Gastone has a simple plan: graduate high school, get into Princeton, work for the CIA, and serve her great nation. 

She was told the plan back when her name was Milena Rokva, back before the real Alexandra and her family were killed in a car crash.

Milena was trained to be a sleeper agent by Perun, a clandestine organization from her true homeland of Olissa. There, Milena learned everything she needed to infiltrate the life of CIA analyst Albert Gastone, Alexandra’s grandfather, and the ranks of America’s top intelligence agency.

For seven years, “Alexandra” has been on standby and life’s been good. Grandpa Albert loves her, and her strategically chosen boyfriend, Grant, is amazing.

But things are about to change. Perun no longer needs her at the CIA in five years’ time. They need her active now.

Between her cover as a high school girl—juggling a homecoming dance, history reports, and an increasingly suspicious boyfriend—and her mission in this high-stakes spy game, the boundaries of her two lives are beginning to blur.

Will she stay true to the country she barely remembers, or has her loyalty shattered along with her identity?




ABOUT THE AUTHOR

T.A. Maclagan is a Kansas girl by birth but now lives in the bush-clad hills of Wellington, New Zealand with her Kiwi husband, son and four pampered cats. With a bachelor’s degree in biology and a Ph.D. in anthropology, she’s studied poison dart frogs in the rainforests of Costa Rica, howler monkeys in Panama and the very exotic and always elusive American farmer. It was as she was writing her ‘just the facts’ dissertation that T.A. felt the call to pursue something more imaginative and discovered a passion for creative writing. They Call Me Alexandra Gastone is her first novel.



GIVEAWAY
Open to U.S. Only | Must be 13+ to Enter


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