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,

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The Upside of Unrequited

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Summary:

Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love—she’s lived through it twenty-six times. She crushes hard and crushes often, but always in secret. Because no matter how many times her twin sister, Cassie, tells her to woman up, Molly can’t stomach the idea of rejection. So she’s careful. Fat girls always have to be careful.

Then a cute new girl enters Cassie’s orbit, and for the first time ever, Molly’s cynical twin is a lovesick mess. Meanwhile, Molly’s totally not dying of loneliness—except for the part where she is.

Luckily, Cassie’s new girlfriend comes with a cute hipster-boy sidekick. Will is funny and flirtatious and just might be perfect crush material. Maybe more than crush material. And if Molly can win him over, she’ll get her first kiss and she’ll get her twin back.

There’s only one problem: Molly’s coworker Reid. He’s an awkward Tolkien superfan with a season pass to the Ren Faire, and there’s absolutely no way Molly could fall for him.

Right?

My Thoughts:

I think I put off reading this because I was worried that I wouldn’t like it as much as Simon.

Man, I was wrong.

First of all, Molly was completely relatable. I found myself understanding exactly where she was coming from all throughout the book. I don’t feel like I relate to main characters often, but I totally got Molly.

Next, the cast of characters as a whole was SO diverse! There were so many groups represented and, from what I can tell, represented well. That’s huge for YA as we need more of that all the time.

I can honestly say that I can’t come up with a single complaint for this book. I read it fast and basically devoured the entire story. It was so cute, but also full of some good truths about relationships (both romantic and family) that everyone, not just teens, needs.

Spoiler- There’s also cameos from Simon and some of his friends in the book even though they don’t live in the same place, so that was great and a good treat.

Upon finishing Unrequited, I was kind of lost wondering what on Earth I should read next as it was such a great book. With that said, I cannot recommend this one enough and look forward to seeing what Becky does next!

-M

Review: Windfall by Jennifer E Smith

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Summary:

Alice doesn’t believe in luck—at least, not the good kind. But she does believe in love, and for some time now, she’s been pining for her best friend, Teddy. On his eighteenth birthday—just when it seems they might be on the brink of something—she buys him a lottery ticket on a lark. To their astonishment, he wins $140 million, and in an instant, everything changes.

At first, it seems like a dream come true, especially since the two of them are no strangers to misfortune. As a kid, Alice won the worst kind of lottery possible when her parents died just over a year apart from each other. And Teddy’s father abandoned his family not long after that, leaving them to grapple with his gambling debts. Through it all, Teddy and Alice have leaned on each other. But now, as they negotiate the ripple effects of Teddy’s newfound wealth, a gulf opens between them. And soon, the money starts to feel like more of a curse than a windfall.

As they try to find their way back to each other, Alice learns more about herself than she ever could have imagined . . . and about the unexpected ways in which luck and love sometimes intersect.

My Thoughts:

First of all, yes- this book is super predictable as far as the story goes.

That said, it is also a cute story that I got completely immersed in and could not put down.

I’d had an ARC of Windfall for MONTHS and finally decided to read it since it was close to the release date. The next thing I knew, it’d been a few hours and I was halfway into the book. I finished the second half two days later (I’m busy, y’all!) and it held my attention just the same way.

So, sure, the story of winning a lottery ticket might be  predictable in its aftermath, but I still loved the journey just the same.

There was a secondary love interest that I almost wish had not even been in the story because there was so little development to that. In fact, at one point I thought he’d show up again, but nope…never to be heard from again.

I did love Alice’s struggle of finding her place and figuring out what she wanted to do with her life amidst the drama of her friend, and crush, Teddy winning the lottery. Alice had a rough childhood, so I was almost more interested in how she was going to turn out than I was in what was going to happen between her and Teddy.

This was only the second book I’d read from Jennifer Smith, but I definitely intend to read more soon.

Windfall releases tomorrow (May 2, 2017), so go ahead and order it for your fun read for summer.

Hello to Goodbye Days

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Summary:

Can a text message destroy your life?

Carver Briggs never thought a simple text would cause a fatal crash, killing his three best friends, Mars, Eli, and Blake. Now Carver can’t stop blaming himself for the accident and even worse, there could be a criminal investigation into the deaths.

Then Blake’s grandmother asks Carver to remember her grandson with a ‘goodbye day’ together. Carver has his misgivings, but he starts to help the families of his lost friends grieve with their own memorial days, along with Eli’s bereaved girlfriend Jesmyn. But not everyone is willing to forgive. Carver’s own despair and guilt threatens to pull him under into panic and anxiety as he faces punishment for his terrible mistake. Can the goodbye days really help?


My Thoughts:

I loved Jeff’s first book Serpent King last year and was still in no way prepared for Goodbye Days.

With that said, I went into this book with HIGH expectations and absolutely was NOT let down at all!

I was tearing up within the first 3 or 4 pages, so I knew I was going to be in for a ride, much like Serpent King was a rollercoaster of emotions.

Most importantly, Goodbye Days has two very important messages in it.

First- obviously- the dangers of texting and driving. Carver’s life gets all mixed up due to sending his friends a simple text. Did he mean for something bad to happen? Absolutely not. But something happened anyways.

Second- Live everyday to the fullest. The people in Carver’s friends’ lives relied on Carver to imagine what they would have done with the deceased friends’ last days. That’s never something a person wants to imagine, but it teaches us to treat each day importantly.

Jeff has a way of creating characters that are real and easy to relate to for any reader. I may be several years older than his characters, but I find myself thinking, “man, I wish I could’ve had friends like this when I was that age.” Heck, I wish I could have friends this fun now even.

Overall, Zentner has yet again knocked it out of the park and I find myself anxious to see what he does next after loving his first two books. He has definitely earned a place as an insta-buy for me.

Goodbye Days is out NOW, so go grab a copy and always make the most of the days you have.

Love for The Hate U Give

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Summary:

Sixteen-year-old Starr lives in two worlds: the poor neighbourhood where she was born and raised and her posh high school in the suburbs. The uneasy balance between them is shattered when Starr is the only witness to the fatal shooting of her unarmed best friend, Khalil, by a police officer. Now what Starr says could destroy her community. It could also get her killed. Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, this is a powerful and gripping YA novel about one girl’s struggle for justice. Movie rights have been sold to Fox, with Amandla Stenberg (The Hunger Games) to star.

My Thoughts:

    I don’t even know where to begin with THUG.

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I read THUG late last year, I believe in early November. I was already excited for it after hearing author, Angie Thomas, read from is at Mississippi Book Festival in August. I was sold and knew this was a book that I wanted to read.

Boy, was I….RIGHT.

I was completely blown away  by Starr and her situation. The writing was real and I could easily (I say easily lightly, because painfully is a better word.) see the story play out. I couldn’t quit reading because I had to know what was going to happen next in Starr’s world.

More importantly, sure, the book is great and  teens (EVERYONE) will love it for what it is, but it is so TIMELY and important with the message it sends out.

The biggest part is that it helped me further understand the kids that I work with everyday. I’m in a small town, yet urban setting with lots of low income families. I graduated 10 years ago from a high school about 30 minutes where I’m now a high school librarian, but 2017 in my school’s community is a whole other world from 2007 in the school and world I graduated in. It honestly helped me “get” where some of these kids are coming from and to understand some of their actions that I see on a daily basis.

That’s because of just how real the writing it. It’s also why I feel like young adult literature NEEDS more own voices books. Kids need to be able to see themselves and their communities. I didn’t intend to write this review on the day that I did, but the need for diverse and own voice books has especially hit me today because a Hispanic girl came to return a book today RAVING about how much she adored what she’d read because “It was so different. So many books are about pretty, white girls- and that’s okay too, Ms. Hays, don’t get me wrong!- but it was neat to have something different even if it wasn’t a Hispanic girl in this book.”

That kid struck a chord with me like she wouldn’t know because the importance of DIFFERENCES is one thing I try hard to push for the kids in my library so often. Sure, read the stuff that’s popular. That’s awesome, but read diverse books and see yourself, your peers, and other aspects that you don’t typically see.


This ended up going on way longer than I intended, but, honestly, I cannot speak highly enough over this book at all. I can’t wait until I’m able to order more books for my library next school year so that I’m able to share Starr with the kids in my school. They’ll love knowing that Starr was living in a neighborhood based on one not too far from where they live.

February 28…GO GET IT. You will not be disappointed in the slightest!

-M

Talking Fandoms and “Worse” with Lily Anderson! *Guest Post*

The Only Thing Worse than Me is You guest post with Lily Anderson!

I’m SO excited to have Lily Anderson here today to talk about her new book The Only Thing Worse Than Me is You.

 Before I go further, I learned in her bio that she is an elementary librarian, so from one school librarian to another: THANK YOU for all you do to promote reading to kids!

The book is incredibly fun with it’s mention of different fandoms and nerd talk, so I loved reading it because it was JUST my language! The main character, Trixie, is just trying work hard to beat a classmate in rank who she has had a long-standing feud with, but she runs into a rollercoaster of a journey along the way.

Lily was kind enough to talk some about how she formed Trixie’s character and the  comparisons between her and the character.

Enjoy and be on the lookout for her book as it just released on the 17th!

-Melanie

Lily Anderson on Trixie and Fandoms:

Trixie Watson and I disagree about Spider-Man. Trixie loves Spider-Man in every incarnation. She’ll read anything that takes place in the Spider-Verse (except for Spider-Ham comics—even her love has its limits). She has Spider-Man stationery and Spider-Man t-shirts and Spider-Man pajamas and Spider-Man underpants. She’s seen every Spider-Man movie and every episode of every Spider-Man cartoon made in this century.

I have not. I really like Miles Morales’ Spider-Man and I’m down with Spider-Gwen, but I really, truly don’t care about Peter Parker. In fact, my favorite comic book character is Peter Parker’s opposite—Deadpool. (Not Ryan Reynolds, ya’ll. Deadpool.) ***PREACH…LOVE Deadpool!***

 

I think it’s important to disagree with your main character. As a writer, I always want to have some key differences between myself and my book’s narrator because those differences make me look closer at why they are the way they are. Trixie’s love of Peter Parker directly correlates to the similarities in their world view—quipping brunette nerds, high school outcasts, great power and great responsibility and all that.

 

There are a lot of things that Trixie and I agree on: the Whedonverse, Doctor Who, BBC’s Sherlock, the genius of Douglas Adams—but we have to come at those things from different perspectives because we’ve led very different lives. Even in the things we agree on, I had to figure out why she would like it, rather than just assigning her things that I already knew about. And in figuring out why she liked something, I started to get a fuller picture as to who she was as a person.

The Only Thing Worse Than Me Is You

Hope you’ve enjoyed learning more about Trixie…now go pick up the book and read her story!

 

Review: Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas

Throne of Glass

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Summary:

In a land without magic, where the king rules with an iron hand, an assassin is summoned to the castle. She comes not to kill the king, but to win her freedom. If she defeats twenty-three killers, thieves, and warriors in a competition, she is released from prison to serve as the king’s champion. Her name is Celaena Sardothien.

The Crown Prince will provoke her. The Captain of the Guard will protect her. But something evil dwells in the castle of glass–and it’s there to kill. When her competitors start dying one by one, Celaena’s fight for freedom becomes a fight for survival, and a desperate quest to root out the evil before it destroys her world.


My Thoughts:

Seriously- it took me about 3 weeks to finish Throne of Glass, which is a long time for me.

I’d bought it on my kindle months ago, but hadn’t read it. However, I got the 4 books in the series at work in November and haven’t been able to keep them checked in because my kids have been LOVING them (as I knew they would.)

So I knew I had to read it to know what the hype was about.

I  even told some of my kids at work that I was reading it so that I could be held accountable for it.

First of all, I was wondering what the hype was. I’d tried to start it awhile back and couldn’t get further than maybe the 4th chapter or so. Upon finishing it, I’ll go ahead and say that the first half of the book DRAGGED for me. I was into it, but I wasn’t to the point where I could put it down. It was about to the point where I knew something was going to happen, so I kept trudging on, and…

Man. THAT. SECOND. HALF.

The action was great and the characters were taking care of business. There were still a few things that bothered me, but over all, I was hooked.

(Really though…is it necessary to say “makeshift knife” over and over in the same passage? Just say it once and then refer to it as a knife the rest of the time. That’s just the English major in me though.)

All in all, I can’t wait to find the time to read the next book! I thought that I already had it on my kindle, but I don’t. That doesn’t mean I won’t be getting it soon though.

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^Me waiting in anticipation thanks to the awesome ending.