Blog Tour: Bad Girl Gone

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Welcome!

Welcome back! Today I’m featuring next week’s release (8/8/17) Bad Girl Gone. This book begins with an awesome cover and continues with lots of good twists and turns throughout.

Check out the excerpt below and pick up a copy next Tuesday!


Excerpt:

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When I tried to remember exactly how I came to be lying in the cold black room, my mind couldn’t focus.

I could feel myself slowly climbing upward, clawing my way out of the clutches of a nightmare. This was usually a good feeling, because you knew you were just dreaming, and the nightmare was over. Except this time it wasn’t. My hands felt clammy. I gripped the sheets until I knew my knuckles must be white. Help me, I thought. Somebody please help me.

I had no idea where I was, and for a terrifying second I couldn’t even remember who I was. But then I remembered my name. Echo. Echo Stone. My real name is Eileen. When I was a toddler, I waddled around repeating everything my parents said and they called me “Echo,” and it just stuck.

Remembering my name and how I got it kick-started my brain. I knew who I was. I remembered that I was sixteen years old and lived in Kirkland, Washington, with my mom and dad. It was all coming back to me. Mom was a dentist and Dad taught middle school English. Good, I could remember parts of my life. But I was still in a dark, cold room and had no idea how I got there. I held back a scream, my chest tightening. Don’t lose it, Echo, keep it together, I told myself. Calm down, think good thoughts.

I pictured Andy, my boyfriend. Six feet tall, broad shoul- ders, blue eyes, and long golden-brown hair. He loved to feed me cookie bites and called me his rabbit. I called him Wolfie. Sometimes he got the hiccups for no reason at all and usually laughed them away. Thinking of Andy momentarily made me feel warm inside, even though the room was freezing.

Where was I? I was shivering and yet also bathed in sweat, my skin slick with it. I clutched for my trusty Saint Christo- pher necklace. But it wasn’t there. Mom gave it to me to protect me when I traveled. Would it protect me now? I would never have lost it. The chain must have broken. And then I had an ugly thought. What if someone had ripped it from my neck? I shuddered. Where are you, Andy? I need you!

I opened my eyes as wide as I could. It was pitch black. My pounding heart told me, This isn’t some nightmare—it’s real. I hugged myself and breathed deeply, trying to calm my nerves. My shoulders were tight. I rubbed the sheets beneath me. The ones at home in my bed were soft. These were stiff and coarse. I was somewhere completely and painfully foreign. In my head I was talking to myself in a rapid voice, my fear voice: What isthis?—what is this?—what is this?

Someone nearby was crying. I had a knot in my stomach and my throat hurt, like I’d screamed for hours. My head hurt, too, and I guessed I must have fallen, or maybe something heavy fell on me. I explored my scalp, gently at first, then more bravely,

 

moving my fingers, searching for a lump. I found nothing . . . no lump, no holes. My skull was intact, though my long auburn hair felt tangled and greasy. I inhaled through my nose, search- ing for familiar scents. Mom’s cinnamon rolls, Dad’s after- shave. But nothing smelled even vaguely familiar, and the odors that did find my nose were horrible. Smoke. Vinegar. Sulfur.

I reached for my bedside lamp—but my fingers touched something damp and stringy. Oh god. The knot in my stomach tightened and I yanked my hand back. I willed my eyes to ad- just to the dark, but as I blinked, strange pulsing figures leapt out at me. It must have been my mind playing tricks. Right?

I took five good, long breaths, sucking in through my nose and exhaling through my pursed lips, just like my grandma Tilly taught me years ago. But five breaths weren’t enough. So I took ten, and finally my heart rate slowed from a galloping panic to a steady, cautious thudding. Soon I was able to distin- guish shapes. Was that a girl in a bed next to mine? Her hair was impossibly thick and long, spilling down her back. Her sweaty hair. That’s what I must have reached out and touched. My heart returned to its punishing rhythm, a fist clenching and unclenching in my chest. The nearby crying stopped. But then it was replaced by something worse, a ripping sound, like bone being cut by a rusty saw. And then a gurgling . . . followed by a low, feral growling noise. Faraway cackling laughter. What thehell was going on?

I was terrified and breathing so loud I was afraid I’d wake up the sleeping girl. Something told me I should lie still and keep my mouth shut. Stupidly, I ignored it. My voice was raspy, my throat aching . . .

“Mom? Dad?” Nothing. “ANDY?”

The words sounded weak in the stony silence that followed. My ears strained for the comforting sound of my parents’ familiar footsteps—but I was met with more cruel noises drift- ing through the blackness.

I heard a faraway clock ticking and an odd whimpering, and then a cough. But it wasn’t Mom’s or Dad’s cough; it was the cough of a child—a girl, I think. I desperately wanted this to be a nightmare. So I closed my eyes and tried to float back to sleep. But the terrifying sounds continued: the soft, almost melodic crying; the rhythmic, persistent coughing; the howls and metal- lic noises; the rushing water. I couldn’t take it. I opened my eyes again.

“DADDY?”

An echo from the darkness. Distant. Haunting. Mocking.

“Daddy? Daddy? Daddy?”

I sensed something under my bed. The hair on my neck prickled. I imagined dangling my fingers over the side of the mattress, envisioned them being latched onto, bitten by some creature that would drag me down into its fetid pit. I held my breath and listened. There it was. Someone, or something, was breathing beneath me.

I slid to the edge of the bed and then slowly lowered my head, my irises widening. I peered into the shadows—and saw a pair of feral eyes peering back at me. Acid panic flooded my veins as I jerked back, thinking, Please don’t kill me. If you touch me, my boyfriend will hunt you down and beat the living shit out of you!

I heard a rustling sound, then footsteps. I saw the creature leap out from under my bed. Its eyes found me, then it scam- pered out of the room, on two legs I think, a flash of white. It looked human, but it could have been something else. What- ever it was, thank god it was running from me. Or wait! Maybe it was going to gather more of its kind and they’d come back for me in a pack. My skin crawled. Get out!

I couldn’t stay in this room. I had to get up and move. My bare feet hit the cold, wood plank floor. I took tentative steps into the shadows. A floorboard creaked beneath my feet and I froze. My eyes had adjusted to the darkness and I could make out shapes. Up ahead I saw a shallow pool of light. I moved toward it.

I walked slowly, taking tentative steps, my eyes darting back and forth. The hallway felt like a perfect place for an ambush, so I was alert, my muscles taut.

I passed a closed door on my right, another on my left. I caught a scent of smoke. I heard a splashing sound, as if some- one was taking a bath right above my head. I kept my gaze fixed on the pool of light that was spilling out from under a large door at the end of the hallway. As I drew closer, I could see that the door was built from thick oak planks and looked like it weighed a thousand pounds. On it hung a thick brass ring. On my right was a tall, old grandfather clock, ticking away like a metronome but with no hands to tell time with. It made me afraid and angry. What was I doing in a place with a clock with no hands?

I stepped closer to the thick door. My stomach tightened in fear. Something was terribly wrong. I was lost, adrift, not only in the wrong place, but I felt as though somehow I was the wrong me. I was jolted by a terrible thought. What if I never saw Andy again?

I raised my hand to grasp the knocker but stopped. Because I felt someone behind me.

“I wouldn’t do that if I was you,” said a voice, barely above a whisper.

I turned and saw a slight boy, thin as a reed with long, snowy hair, eating a red candy apple. The hair on the nape of my neck rose.

“Wow. You’re a pretty one,” he said.

I might have blushed. I’d never thought of myself as pretty. My nose is crooked, and ever since someone told me my eyes were too far apart, I’ve been convinced of it.

“Want a bite?” he asked, holding out the apple

Final

Bad Girl Gone releases NEXT WEEK, so check it out and get a copy!

Blog Tour: The Inevitable Collision of Birdie & Bash

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Happy August!

Man, it has been a CRAZY Summer with starting grad school and also making time for a little fun. Today my Summer is officially OVER and I am back to WORK until May. Never fear, there’s only a month until Labor Day weekend, in which I will be headed to NEW YORK for the first time…but that’s not what I’m here to talk about today.

Today I want to focus on The Inevitable Collision of Birdie & Bash! First, let’s marvel over this adorably retro styled cover. I was obsessed the first time I saw it months ago.

Check out an excerpt and then go pick up Birdie & Bash! HUGE thanks to St Martin’s for the review copy and for allowing me to participate in the blog tour. You folks are AMAZING as per usual!





Inevitable Collision of Birdie & Bash FINAL

Excerpt:

I lose sight of Layla for just a moment. The crowd parts in a zigzag fashion and beneath the light machine, where the red, green, and blue hit the hardest, I see her—this statuesque beauty—hiding behind a trail of long brown hair and thick-framed glasses. With her hands folded snug in her lap, she’s looking around, sinking farther into the couch’s wilted threads as if hoping to not be seen, but I see her because hiding is typically what I do, too.

“My God,” I say. The cigarette hangs from my bottom lip, and this girl, who finally stops talking, is still looking at up me, glitter plummeting from her silver-tinted eye shadow. The flakes dance down to the tops of my boots like little asshole snowflakes. That shit should be banned. She follows my eyes across the floor to the big, plaid couch, letting her smile fade. Losing interest (finally), she drops my hand and disappears into the sea of people from which she first emerged.

With my heart nearly beating out of my chest, I watch Couch Girl. The way she tucks her hair behind her ears with precision, the way she nudges her falling glasses up the bridge of her nose, the way she pretends she’s not as earth-shatteringly stunning as she really is. Radiance surrounds her—not a halo, but some kind of ethereal glow—and I can’t look away. She looks up at me. Once, twice, three times; tries to avoid my eyes, but can’t. For the length of a whole song, my gaze doesn’t abandon her, and by the middle of the next song, she’s smiling at me. Score. Normally, I’d hang back, wait and see if we “accidentally” cross paths, but Layla’s determined eyes are on me so I up my game. To finish her.

I push through the haze and find my way to Couch Girl. She looks up at me with these electric green eyes that are more evident through her lenses, and I do something I thought I’d never in a million years do—hold out my hand.

“I don’t dance,” she says, reluctant.

“Me either. Too many germs.” A few seconds pass before she decides to take my humble offering. I pull her to her feet, and our palms smash together and slide across the dampness. This would normally gross me out, but I kind of want to linger in it with her. Gently, I lead her to the center of the floor where we are now gestural shapes on this dark canvas, too.

“Help me out here,” I say. “See that girl over there?” I point to Layla with my middle finger. A silent dig, if you will.

She nods.

“I need her to see us talking.”

She scrunches up her face. “I’m not getting in the middle of whatever that is.” Her finger is waving around, grabbing Layla’s attention. “But thanks.”

As she tries to walk away, I tug on her sleeve. Eyebrows arched, and my own full puppy-lipped pout now in full effect. “Please.”

She must sense my sadness (read: desperation), because with one sharp sigh and a roll of her beautiful eyes, she digs her feet firmly into the floor. “Okay, fine. Just for a minute though.”

We’re not dancing, not swaying or grinding, but here we are, in the epicenter of it all. She crosses her arms, I cross mine, too. “So are we going to actually talk or just pretend?” she snaps.

“Who the hell are you?” I ask with a smirk.

She looks down. “Who am I? You mean what name was I given at birth, or who am I in a general sense?”

I start to respond, but she interrupts.

“Because, in said general sense, I’m a girl at a party I should’ve never come to but did and am now trapped in this weird interaction between subjects A and B while I’d much rather be at home teaching my chunky cat how to drink from a running faucet, thank you very much.”

With my gaze pressed hard on her porcelain skin, I drop the last bit of cigarette to the floor and twist the cinder into the grooves until it burns no more. My smile grows, and all of a sudden, I don’t care if Layla’s watching or not. “Fair enough.”

“Who are you?” she replies with a touch of snark.

I look down to the holes in my shirtsleeve where the fab- ric has worn, and I realize I have two choices here. I can tell her the lame, true story of my life and wait for her to walk away, or I can do the opposite and hope that, for one perfect night, I’m allowed to feel this way about a girl who’s way out of my league, knowing the second I leave here, this, whatever this is, leaves with it.

Plus, it’d totally piss Layla off, and that makes it sweeter. “Well,” I say, “in a general sense, I’m a boy at a party I

should’ve never come to but did and am now gloriously trapped in this enlightened conversation with, probably, the most captivating girl in the entire house. In an even generaler sense”—she stops me, tells me that’s not a word— “I’m nobody. Well, until I saw you.” My smile widens. To sell it.

She blushes. Her fingers fumbling through her long, silky strands, she objects. “One, that’s so ridiculously cliché, and two, statistically speaking, you’re a percentage of this party as a whole house equation. Without the exact number of bodies—I estimate around thirty-seven—you’re something like 2.7027 percent somebody without ever seeing me.”

My heart drops through this creaky, wooden floor, and this smile that’s still pasted—it’s about to rip my face in two. The forces of the earth have rumbled beneath my feet and combined, climbing up through the dirt core, into my heart. We stand here, for, I don’t know, what feels like an infinity (she abruptly explains infinity is a concept and there’s no way to solve for x, so in reality, we can’t actually stand here that long), and all these things start flying out of my mouth—how I graduated last year, I’m only in town for tonight—and with every passing lie, I think, You’re no better than Kyle, which makes me sick—like, physically ill with the sweats and a weird clamminess and all these symptoms that remind me how I felt when I first met Layla.

When the song ends, we hold on to this moment that, in the space between, feels like a million electrodes have be- gun to rattle and vibrate. I feel it fuse to my bones. It con- nects us together, grounds us, right here, right now. Layla’s gone—who cares now?—but just as I start to ask for her num- ber, or the name she was given at birth, a tiny little thing with big, springy curls that dangle over one eye pulls  at Couch Girl’s arm.

“Ready to go?” the friend asks. She’s looking me over in this protective kind of way, and I know what she’s thinking because I beat her to it.

While the two of them decide, a hand slaps the back of my shirt hard enough to leave a mark. I turn around to see Kyle’s cousin’s friend’s college boyfriend with a worried look on his face. “Your friend might need to go to the hospital. He’s, like, not waking up.”

With a heavy sigh, something that follows Kyle’s hijinks often, I silently agree to retrieve my sort-of-ill-behaved dog that does as he pleases. Before I can even think about what to say to Couch Girl next, I spin around and she, and her tiny friend, are gone.

Just like that, it’s over before it even started. Story of my goddamned life.

 

Two days have passed since the house party, and I’m still thinking about what an idiot Kyle is. The only chance I had to talk to (probably) the most interesting lady specimen I’ve ever met, and he totally screwed me. One night to be all the things I’m not, maybe make out a little, and instead, I spent the wee hours of yesterday making sure his ass didn’t die of alcohol poisoning—again. And now here we are,

5 questions with PC Cast

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Quick note:

I’m SO excited for Moon Chosen, out next Tuesday! I met Ms Cast a couple years ago at RT book convention and she was incredibly nice. I loved the House of Night series when I was in college, so I’ve been excited to see what she’s done on her own.

Thanks to Ms Cast for taking time to answer a few questions for the blog tour!

PC CAST

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  1. What 3 words would you use to describe your book? EXCITING – HEARTWARMING – UNIQUE
  2. What’s in your “Author Survival Kit”? (Pens, Caffeine, iPods, etc?)

My tread desk!  Yep, I walk and write at the same time (it’s actually awesome and easy – google it!).  I write in silence.  Well, except for four dogs and a Maine Coon cat who tend to either sleep like the dead or create chaos.  I brew a big pot of either green tea or herbal tea and get to work surrounded by my fur babies, research books, crystals, and infused candles made specially for me by the wonderful Sage Goddess (you can find her on Etsy).

3. What was the last book you read that you just couldn’t put down?

SCARLET RAIN by my talented daughter, Kristin Cast.  The book rocks!  But that’s not why I couldn’t put it down.  I couldn’t put it down because she based the mom character in the book on me and what happens to “me” in that books is…well…you’ll have to read it to see!

4. What kind of research did you have to do for the story?

Well, I destroy all of Portland’s bridges, so I had to do lots of research about how they were built so that I could properly tear them down!  My father taught biology for about half a century, so being sure my ecosystems work is imbedded into my DNA.  This series merges biology and fantasy, which means I have to be sure the biological foundation of my world is solid so that it can remain believable when I add fantasy.

I also had to do quite a bit of research about treehouses for the Tribe of the Trees.  I even went to Washington state and stayed in a treehouse B&B (it was fantastic!).

5. Who is your ultimate book boyfriend?

From another author – Jamie Fraser from Diana Gabaldon’s OUTLANDER series.  From my own books – ClanFinan from the Partholon series: DIVINE BY MISTAKE, DIVINE BY CHOICE, and DIVINE BY BLOOD.

Moon Chosen is out next week!

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Blog Tour: Sanctuary Bay

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Book Information:

BASIC DETAILS

SANCTUARY BAY: A Novel

By Laura J. Burns and Melinda Metz

St. Martin’s Griffin

Publication Date: January 19, 2016

Hardcover: 978-1-250-05136-3 / $18.99 USD

eBook: 978-1-466-86917-2 / $9.99 USD

Summary:

When Sarah Merson receives the opportunity of a lifetime to attend the most elite prep school in the country—Sanctuary Bay Academy—it seems almost too good to be true. But, after years of bouncing from foster home to foster home and struggling with the memory of her parent’s murder, escaping to the school’s tranquil setting, nestled deep in Swans Island, couldn’t sound more appealing. Swiftly thrown into a world of privilege and secrets, Sarah quickly realizes finding herself noticed by class charmer, Nate, as well as her roommate’s dangerously attentive boyfriend, Ethan, are the least of her worries. When her roommate suddenly goes missing, she finds herself in a race against time, not only to find her, but to save herself and discover the dark truth behind Sanctuary Bay’s glossy reputation.


Excerpt:

Daddy  pressed his finger to his lips, shushing Sarah quiet as he slid the door to the tunnel back on. She wrapped her arms tightly around  her knees and pressed her cheek against her arm, trying to pretend she was back in her  own  room.  But it didn’t smell like her room. Even the spicy smell of Daddy’s cologne had faded now  that the tunnel was closed.  And  grayness was all around her. She was almost four, and that was too old to be scared of the dark. But it wasn’t all dark. It was just gray dark.

She tried not to think of monsters crawling toward her. Daddy said there were no monsters. But monsters  liked tunnels. They liked little girls.

Sometimes when she was scared she liked to sing the Maggie song. But that was against the rules. She had to be quiet. She had to be still. She had to wait until Daddy  or Mommy  opened the door and got her.

Thinking  about  the rules  helped.   She  could  almost hear Daddy  saying them, as if he was hiding in the tunnel with her. Even though he was way too big. If something bad happens, wait until the room is safe. If you leave the tunnel, put the funny slit- ted door back on. Run fast. Find a lady with kids. Tell her your name is Sarah Merson. Merson. Merson. Merson. Merson. Ask for help.

Her nose started twitching, itching from the thick air. Mak- ing her want to sneeze. But she had to be quiet.

Then she heard Mommy screaming. Mommy never screamed. Were the monsters out there and not in the tunnel?

On  hands and knees she started creeping  toward the slits of light, heart pounding.

“Kt85L is our property,” a man said. “You had no right!”

Out there. Mommy  on her knees facing the hotel room wall. Someone’s legs. A hand  reaching  down.  A silver bird stared at Sarah from a ring on the finger. Stared with a horrible  little black eye. The finger pulled  the trigger of a gun.

A bang. Her ears filling with bees. Mommy  collapsing on the floor. Red spilling out.

Sarah shoved her fingers into her mouth. Quiet. The rule was be quiet.

Shouting. Daddy’s legs running by, out of the room. The bird man chasing. The door banging closed.

Something bad happening.

The  room  was safe. The  bird  man  was gone. So she had  to get out. Mommy  was on the floor. Daddy  was gone.

She shoved the door and it fell out onto the floor. Near Mommy. Near  the red. But the rule was to put  the funny  door back on. She picked  it up and shoved  it over the tunnel like Daddy  had shown her.

Sarah  didn’t  want to look at Mommy.  She looked  out the window  instead. The window  was always open  and there was never a screen. Daddy’s voice came from the hallway, yelling. Screaming.

Another bang.

Sarah pressing her hands over her eyes. Not looking. Not look- ing. Something bad happening.

Daddy  was quiet now. Something bad. She had to run fast.

Sarah climbed  on the chair under  the window.  The chair al- ways went under  the window.  She stuck her legs through the window  and jumped down.  Now run fast.

She ran fast, looking for a lady with a stroller or a kid her age. A mommy  would  help  her.  She would  say she was Sarah Merson.

Sarah Merson, and something bad happened.


My Thoughts:

So…Spoilers: That excerpt is the VERY beginning of the book!

With that said…wow. I was interested from the very beginning because WHAT ON EARTH IS GOING ON?! Right? Right.

 

Sanctuary Bay kept me interested as I enjoy reading about boarding schools for some reason. Maybe because I went to a boarding school one year?

Either way, I suggest this to anyone looking for a good mystery thriller. However, I went into it blind and didn’t realize that it was going to be more than one book, so the ending seemed abrupt, but it was still good despite my short-lived confusion.

SB came out last week, so it IS available now, so good pick up a copy!

-Melanie

Blog Tour: Firsts by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn

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In the vein of Easy A, an honest and refreshing young adult novel about sex, love, and high school.

 

Seventeen-year-old Mercedes Ayres has an open-door policy when it comes to her bedroom, but only if the guy fulfills a specific criteria: he has to be a virgin. Mercedes lets the boys get their awkward fumbling first times over with, and all she asks in return is that they give their girlfriends the perfect first time-the kind Mercedes never had herself.

 

Keeping what goes on in her bedroom a secret has been easy – so far. Her mother isn’t home nearly enough to know about Mercedes’ extracurricular activities, and her uber-religious best friend, Angela, won’t even say the word “sex” until she gets married. But Mercedes doesn’t bank on Angela’s boyfriend finding out about her services and wanting a turn – or on Zach, who likes her for who she is instead of what she can do in bed.

 

When Mercedes’ perfect system falls apart, she has to find a way to salvage her own reputation -and figure out where her heart really belongs in the process. Funny, smart, and true-to-life, Firsts is a one-of-a-kind young adult novel about growing up.


Excerpt:

 

Tonight, I’m doing Evan Brown’s girlfriend a favor. An awkward, sweaty, fumbling favor. Melanie, or whatever her name is, owes me big time.

Except she’ll never know it.

 

***

“You’re not staying over,” I say, fastening the robe around my waist. “You’ll get there. Girls care less about that than you think. Especially in the beginning. You can work up to it together.”

He grins. He looks different, more handsome somehow. In the softer light, his pimples aren’t as evident and his jawline seems more pronounced. One day, I think Evan Brown could even be a heartbreaker.

But that day isn’t today.

I glance at the clock on my nightstand. Eleven p.m. on a Tuesday. “It’s a school night, Evan. Time for you to go. Your mother will wonder where you are.” Or I assume she would. Most mothers do. Not mine, of course.

His grin turns into a frown. “Do I, you know, owe you something? I don’t know how this works . . .” His voice trails off.

“You don’t owe me anything. Just be good to her, okay? Remember everything we talked about.”

I know he will. He even took notes. Open her car door for her. Bring her flowers, not something generic like roses but her actual favorite flowers. Have dinner reservations in advance, not necessarily somewhere fancy but somewhere meaningful, like where you had your first kiss or where you realized you loved her. Kiss her, not just on her lips but in unexpected places. On the nape of her neck. On her forehead. On her wrist. Push her hair behind her ears gently. Take a picture. She’ll want to remember the night.

I swallow against a lump that has risen up suddenly in my throat. It’s not that Evan is different—he’s a nice guy, a kid who loves his girlfriend and wants to please her. Maybe I’m the one who’s different. Maybe this speech is starting to feel too familiar. I told myself five favors for five deserving virgins. Five was the line I drew in the sand, and I trampled over it like it wasn’t even there. Evan is the tenth, and ten is a line I can’t just trample past.

But I’m certainly not going to get into this with Evan, so I put on a fake smile. I gesture around the room at the chaise lounge and walk-in closet and floor-to-ceiling shoe rack. “Besides, I really don’t need your money. Spend it on Melody.”

He pulls his boxers and pants back on. His movements are more measured, not the bumbling, terrified movements of the Evan Brown who entered my bedroom an hour ago. Even his voice seems deeper, like he came here a boy and is leaving as a man. I suppose that’s not far from the truth. I allow myself a little smile, a real one this time. It’s easy to reaffirm what I do. What happened to Evan in my bedroom will change him, make him into a more considerate lover, even a better boyfriend. Moments like these are what made that line in the sand so easy to obliterate.

Moments like these, I could see an eleventh, even though I promised myself that’s not going to happen. I’m starting the second half of senior year with all of my good karma already under my belt.

“I don’t know where you came from, but you saved my life, Mercy. I mean, Mercedes. I don’t know what I would’ve done without you.”

“You would’ve ripped five condoms by accident, and you might’ve drowned the girl in saliva. But now, you’re going to nail it. Literally.”

He tugs his shirt over his head. “When Gus told me how you helped him, I didn’t believe it. But he was right—you’re an angel.” He pauses. “But can I ask you—”

I cut him off midsentence. “No, you can’t. Don’t spoil it.” “But you didn’t even let me finish,” he protests.

“Oh, I let you finish,” I say. “The one thing you can do for me is not ask me any questions.”

He nods. “Fair enough.” “Goodnight, Evan,” I say.

“Goodnight, Mercy. Uh, Mercedes.” He gets to my bedroom door and pauses with his hand on the doorknob.

“This won’t be awkward at school tomorrow, will it?” he says, looking back at me.

“Of course not,” I say, folding my arms over my chest. “It’s not going to be awkward at all, because what happened in this room becomes just a figment of your imagination the second you walk out that door.”

He gives me a tight-lipped smile and pulls the door shut after him. I can see his shoes underneath, can tell he’s lingering there, wondering if he said too much or not enough, not entirely convinced that his secret is safe with me.

But he has nothing to worry about. His secret, like those of nine of his fellow seniors, is safe with me. At Milton High, I’m my own statistic. People fail to see the great equalizer, the one thing the band geeks, the drama nerds, the jocks, and the preppies all have in common.

Me—Mercedes Ayres.

The girl who took their virginity.


Quick Thoughts:

I’m not going to lie. I was iffy on Firsts when I first heard about it. However, it is so much more than it seems, so I definitely suggest checking it out. It released yesterday, so go grab it!

For now, here’s the trailer if that excerpt wasn’t enough to convince you!

-Melanie

 

How to be Brave blog tour interview and GIVEAWAY!

How To Be Brave

Intro:

How to be Brave released on Tuesday and I’m SO excited to have had the opportunity to read this amazing debut novel! First up- a Q&A with author E. Katherine Kottaras, then I’ll have a short review of the book and don’t miss entering my giveaway to win a copy of the book. Trust me- you want to enter- this is a beautiful story!

Q & A with E. Katherine Kottaras:

  1. What advice can you provide aspiring authors?

READ. A lot. Both in the genre/style you want to publish in and ABOUT writing – all aspects – the writing process, the publishing process, etc. There are hundreds of blog posts about the writing life, etc. and I read them obsessively to understand what I had to do to get published.

Also, WRITE a lot, of course. Just keep writing, no matter what, even if it’s a journal for yourself where you write a little bit everyday. And keep submitting – the rejections are difficult at first, but it gets easier.

Writing is hard and fun and frustrating and exhilirating. I can’t imagine not writing. And if you write, you understand this strange demand – it’s not a desire; it’s a necessity. Follow that call, whatever it is inside you that asks you to write – and keep writing, no matter what.

2. How do you address body image issues with your daughter? Was that part of the drive to write this book?

Absolutely. We talk a lot about how the media often “sells” a certain body type. .” I’ve shown her Photoshopping videos like this one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cPnfjwKfkSk

and we discuss, quite openly, how it’s unrealistic to try to change your body to meet the standards presented in magazines and on screens. I try to guide our conversation as a discussion, asking her questions about why she thinks the media represents women and girls in certain ways. We talk about how every body is beautiful, and that she is beautiful, just as she is.

    3. You are also a yoga instructor and practitioner. How has this influenced your writing?

I am in my head, a lot. My yoga practice grounds me like nothing else. One definition of yoga is the linking of body and breath to focus the mind. I find that when I’m not doing my practice, I can’t focus and I become easily overwhelmed by my fears and my anxiety – and as a result, I can’t write. When I am doing my practice, I’m able to deal with those fears and those anxieties in a way that is healthy.

 

     4. Your protagonist, Georgia, lost her mother and is honoring her by completing her bucket list. How much of this premise was taken from your own experiences?

HOW TO BE BRAVE specifically started as a thought experiment to see what my relationship with my dad would have been like had my mom died first. As I started writing, Georgia became her own character with her own struggles.

 

    5. What’s currently on your bucket list?

 

Here are a few things on my Do Everything Be Brave List: 

Learn how to roller skate and/or ice skate without using the wall.

Ride my bike to yoga. (Bike lanes scare me!)

Hike to the bottom of the Grand Canyon (and all the way back up, I guess…)

Visit every continent (I’ve only been to two.)

Here are a few brave things I’ve done: 

Flown down the largest zip-line in the continental U.S. despite my fear of heights. (and gave my eight-year old permission to do so as well.)

Paddle-boarded during high-wind season in Hawaii.

Fallen in love and stayed there for more than twenty years.

Become a writer. I tell my students everyday: it’s the scariest thing in the world.

My Thoughts and GIVEAWAY!

I’ll admit- when I initially heard about How to be Brave and read the summary I was kind of on the fence about it. Meh, a parent dies, so an overweight girl adopts a bucket list.

Really- this is what’s on Amazon so you can see what I mean:

“Georgia has always lived life on the sidelines: uncomfortable with her weight, awkward, never been kissed, terrified of failing.

Then her mom dies and her world is turned upside down. But instead of getting lost in her pain, she decides to enjoy life while she still can by truly living for the first time. She makes a list of ways to be brave-all the things she’s always wanted to do but has been too afraid to try: learn to draw, try out for cheerleading, cut class, ask him out, kiss him, see what happens from there.”

But then I gave it a chance and started reading it. It is SO MUCH MORE than what the summary gives off!

Georgia takes readers on such a roller coaster of emotions and the novel goes well beyond the bucket list.

What I thought was going to be a “cute” story about following a bucket list turned into a beautiful story about self acceptance, realizing dreams, and knowing what is important in life.

This could be such an important book for teen girls! I’ve already placed it on a wish list to order for my library because I can see it being something that my students would love and be able to benefit from so much!

-Melanie

Giveaway!

No, I didn’t forget! St. Martin’s and Griffin Teen are AMAZING and have offered a copy of How to be Brave! Thanks, Griffin Teen! You have the opportunity to earn several chances to win this book, so go *HERE* to enter and good luck! The giveaway is US only and ends on November 12 at midnight.

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Currently reading and update!

Before I share, can I just take a second to point out that I just realized that WINTER comes out in TWO WEEKS! My excitement for that book is ridiculous. Get on board and read Cinder ASAP if you haven’t yet!

I’m planning to take Winter with me to read on vacation over Thanksgiving break, but I know that I’ll break down and read it before then. Plus, the cover is beautiful, but that book is a MONSTER in size…I don’t want to get the kindle version for vacation just to turn around and also get the hardcover. :/

Anyways…moving on before I fangirl over the Lunar Chronicles too much…

Currently reading:

This is why I’ve been MIA for the past couple of days:

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I know. EVERYONE is reading it. I know.

I had an eARC for months that was online-only and, while I’m thankful for it, my vision didn’t quite agree with reading the wild fonts on a computer screen. So….I waited even after getting about 100 pages in.

WOW.

If you’ve been on the fence about Illuminae then I will say that it definitely lives up to the hype.

In fact, last night I hit a point in the book that blew me away and I maybe yelled at the book (no, I’m serious!) and then had to take a little mental break from the craziness.

Wanna know what’s sad? The author’s know that spot does this to people! They KNOW:

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Granted, I’ve told a few people that I don’t think it’d be their thing, but I’m still telling everyone else that it’s amazing. GET THIS BOOK! Not only that, it’s just a cool looking book. The actual book itself, not the jacket, is set up to look like a folder with notes and markings all over it to stay with the theme.

It’s awesome and I’ve had students come in the library asking me about it when they see it on the desk. It’s just that good!

I should finish Illuminae today and then I’m also reading How to Be Brave which releases NEXT WEEK! I’ll have a blog tour post with a q&a post from the author next Thursday along with a giveaway, so be on the lookout for that!