Blog Tour & Giveaway: Review of Airports, Exes, and Other Things I’m Over

Title: Airports, Exes, and Other Things I’m Over
Author: Shani Petroff
Published by: Swoon Reads
Publication date: May 15th 2018
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult

Synopsis:

A bad storm, two canceled flights, stuck in an airport with a hot stranger and the guy who broke her heart… what could go wrong?

After Sari caught her boyfriend Zev cheating on her, their romantic Florida vacation was ruined. She can’t get back to NYC soon enough. Unfortunately, mother nature may have different plans. A huge storm is brewing in the Northeast, and flights all over the country are getting canceled—including Sari’s. She winds up stuck at the airport for hours. With Zev!

When another stranded passenger (a hot NYU guy) suggests a connecting flight to Boston, Sari jumps at the chance. But when her mom freaks out about her traveling alone, she has no choice—she has to include Zev, and somehow survive being trapped with the guy who broke her heart!

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Wow! I found this book to be a super quick and engaging read. Even though Airports, Exes, and Other Things I’m Over spans over a week, Sari and Zev’s story definitely encompasses so much to unravel. And you know that saying, “when it rains it pours”? Well, when it came to Sari’s spring break and her one shot to sing at a local club, anything and everything seems to go wrong in the span of a few days. 

One of my favorite characters in the book was Zev. I loved that his goal was to explain any misconstrued situation, so Sari knew the facts and the truth. Sari tended to overthink everything and failed to see that there are several sides to a story. It’s smart for Sari to protect herself first, but I knew there were some holes in her observations. Throughout the story, Zev is always trying to open communication between him and Sari, and it’s so adorable how he always tries to make sure that she is okay and comfortable. I liked that Zev gave Sari room to think and breathe when anything dramatic blew up, but he was also determined to fight for the truth, their friendship, and ultimately love. 

The plot of Airports, Exes, and Other Things I’m Over relies heavily on lack of communication and misunderstood situations. I’m not a huge fan of books that have so much “lack of communication,” but this plot devise definitely keeps the reader on the edge of their seat. If you love A LOT  of drama in your stories, which definitely keeps the story rolling, give Airports, Exes, and Other Things I’m Over a try. This book is such a fast read and the ending is so swoony. 

3 star rating

about the author

Author Bio:

Shani Petroff is a writer living in New York City. She’s the author of the “Bedeviled” series, which includes Daddy’s Little Angel, The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly Dress, Careful What You Wish For, and Love Struck, and is the co-author of the “Destined” series which includes Ash and Ultraviolet. She also writes for television news programs and several other venues. When she’s not locked in her apartment typing away, she spends a whole lot of time on books, boys, TV, daydreaming, and shopping online.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

 

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Blog Tour & Giveaway: Review of The Game Can’t Love You Back

Title: The Game Can’t Love You Back
Author: Karole Cozzo
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Publication date: May 15th 2018
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult

Synopsis:

Eve is used to being the odd woman out. As the only girl on her school’s baseball team, she knows exactly how to put sweaty, macho baseball players in their place, and she’s focused on one thing and one thing only—being the best pitcher she can be.

But when a freak accident forces her high school to be absorbed by the neighboring town, Eve has to contend with a new group of guys who aren’t used to having a woman on their team. And the new team’s star pitcher, Jamie, has no interest in being ousted from his throne. He can’t afford to give up his starting slot to a new pitcher—even worse, to a girl.

As the competition between Jamie and Eve starts to heat up, so does their attraction to each other. Can they keep their heads in the game, or will they end up getting played?

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo


my review

I love Karole Cozzo’s writing style and once again her storytelling did not disappoint. I really loved that The Game Can’t Love You Back has very honest and realistic characters. The two main characters, Jamie and Eve, are both competitive, independent, and are dealing with their own personal issues. But what I liked about Jamie and Eve is that they are both so authentic and don’t hold back their emotions. In some young adult novels, the lack of communication always causes the worst and most annoying drama, but when it comes to this book, these characters hold back very little and then burst with the most straightforward answers and opinions.

Additionally, I really enjoyed the romance that unfolds in The Game Can’t Love You Back. The story does have a “hate-to-love” feel, but once Jamie and Eve start connecting and interacting, there is no turning back from the heated chemistry between these two. The novel definitely reads like a teenage movie and I really enjoyed watching all the characters find their own paths. 

However, I do wish there was more focus on family dynamics in the book. We get some brief encounters with both characters’ families, but after the speech that Eve’s mom gives to Eve on Mother’s Day, I was craving more interaction. Plus, Jamie’s sister is shadowed in the background and I would have enjoyed some more scenes between the two siblings. Overall, I think The Game Can’t Love You Back is a hit. If you love baseball, girl power, playful rivalry, swoons, and romantic gestures, definitely give this book a read. 

3 star rating

about the author


Author Bio:

Karole lives outside of Philadelphia, PA with her loving husband, exuberant little girl, and smiley little boy. She adores YA Romance, because it would be awesome if life in general had a requisite feel-good happy ending rule. Vices include obscene Haribo gummy consumption, addiction to Starbucks NF vanilla lattes, and tendency to hoard Bath and Body Works 3-wick candles.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

GIVEAWAY!
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Note: Thank you to Macmillan and Xpresso Tours for having me on this blog tour and for providing me a review copy to read for free in exchange for an honest review. All statements and opinions are my own. 

Blog Tour & Giveaway: Review of Pacifica by Kristen Simmons

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PACIFICA
Title:
 Pacifica
Author:  Kristen Simmons
Publisher: Tor Teen
Release Date: March 6, 2018
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy

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Synopsis:

Marin is cosario royalty, a pirate like her father and his father before him. Sailing the ocean to chase adventure is in her blood. But these days no one cares that the island town her people call home is named after her grandfather. They have a new leader, one who promises an end to their hunger – and one who thinks that girls are meant for the kitchen or the brothel. Marin knows she’s meant for more than that, and with the sudden influx of weapons on the island, and rumors of a pending deal with the enemy oil nation in her wake, she knows a big score to gain the council’s favor is the only way to save her people, and herself.

Ross lives a life of privilege. As the president’s son he wants for nothing, but he longs for a life of adventure. On a dare, he convinces his best friend Adam to sneak out to the Docks, the site of local race riots between the poor Shorlings and the upper class. But when Adam is arrested along with the other Shorlings, and not even the president is willing to find him, Ross finds himself taking matters into his own hands. He journeys back into the Docks, ready to make deals with anyone, even a beautiful pirate, if it means Adam’s safe return.

When Marin and Ross meet in dangerous Shoreling territory he sees a way to get his friend back and she sees her ticket home. The ransom a president’s son would command could feed her people for years and restore her family’s legacy. But somewhere in the middle of the ocean, Marin must decide if her heart can handle handing over the only person who has ever seen her as more than a pirate.

Praise for PACIFICA

“A harrowing world where overpopulation is rampant and pollution stifling. The characters creep into your heart with raw, familiar issues of love, friendship, and family ties, careening you on a plot fraught with just as many twists as there are pieces of trash in the ocean. Pacifica will have you breathlessly fearing our own future.” ―New York Times bestselling author Sara Raasch

Praise for KRISTEN SIMMONS

“Like The Handmaid’s Tale, Simmons’s book serves as essential commentary on women’s rights.” ―Cosmopolitan.com on The Glass Arrow

“I’m clutching my mangled heart and smiling madly, so it’s that kind of book. Such gorgeous heartbreak! Smart, absorbing, and deeply human.” ―New York Times bestselling author Laini Taylor on Metaltown

“A compelling, inspiring read. The characters had me rooting for rebels, fights worth fighting, and girls with gumption. By the time it was over, I had my fist in the air.” ―New York Times bestselling author Kendare Blake on Metaltown


25Pacifica is the first book I have read by Kristen Simmons and I highly enjoyed it. Set in the future, in a dystopian world, this novel had everything from modern-day pirates, historical reflections, mystery, adventure, and a splash of romance.  The main characters, Marin and Ross, come from opposites sides of the social ladder, but their world reflects the same view: garbage has taken over the ocean, whales are a rare sight to see, glaciers and icecaps no longer exist, natural resources are low, and everyone is doing everything they can to try and survive, even the government. 

In this novel, I found Kristen Simmons’s writing so engaging. I read the first 200 pages in less than a few hours. Just in one sitting, I was engrossed by her storytelling, steady pacing, great world-building, and well-developed characters. Honestly, reading Pacifica felt like I was watching a movie–each scene steadily strung together with hope, anxiety, intensity, and sometimes swoons. What I loved most about this book is that there is honestly so much passion and heart in Simmons’s story and her characters. It was so hard for me to close the book and pursue any everyday type of tasks without this novel sitting in the back of my mind.
I was really impressed that in less than 400 pages, Simmons’s Pacifica thoroughly covers historical topics that impact the now and the future. These topics range from climate change and political corruption, which included forced relocation and internment camps.  Pacifica is a firm foundation story that vividly portrays distressing topics that people often want to throw under the rug because they refuse to see the fire that humanity has started. And as the fire burns, Pacifica adds a perfect amount of comedy and romance to help relieve some of the horrors that mankind inflicts in Marin and Ross’s world.

Overall, Pacifica is a gut-wrenching novel that will pull at your heartstrings. It’s a book about sacrifice, friendship, consequences, and morality. I liked that the story is not overly jammed packed with action; instead, it flows at the steady pace of a water current. Although important and shocking themes are explored in this novel, and with the meshing of hope and romance, this thought-provoking novel will have you at the edge of your seat to the very end. 
star rating

5 out of 5 Stars!

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 2 Winners will receive two sets of Kristen’s books
(Article 5, The Glass Arrow and Metaltown) in a TOR Teen Tote
Giveaway is open to International. | Must be 13+ to Enter
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WEEK ONE
MARCH 5th MONDAY Wishful Endings REVIEW
MARCH 5th MONDAY Reading for the Stars and Moon REVIEW
MARCH 6th TUESDAY JeanBookNerd REVIEW 
MARCH 7th WEDNESDAY Fiction Fare REVIEW 
MARCH 7th WEDNESDAY Sabrina’s Paranormal Palace REVIEW 
MARCH 8th THURSDAY Literary Meanderings EXCERPT 
MARCH 8th THURSDAY Rants and Raves of a Bibliophile REVIEW 
MARCH 9th FRIDAY The Avid Reader REVIEW 
MARCH 9th FRIDAY Teachers of YA’s Book Blog REVIEW

WEEK TWO
MARCH 12th MONDAY A Dream Within a Dream REVIEW
MARCH 13th TUESDAY Undeniably Book Nerdy REVIEW
MARCH 13th TUESDAY TFAULC Book Reviews EXCERPT
MARCH 14th WEDNESDAY Book Lady’s Reviews REVIEW
MARCH 14th WEDNESDAY Blushing Bibliophile REVIEW
MARCH 15th THURSDAY Chapter by Chapter REVIEW 
MARCH 15th THURSDAY Insane About Books REVIEW 
MARCH 16th FRIDAY BookHounds YA REVIEW 

MARCH 16th FRIDAY Book Briefs REVIEW

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Kristen Simmons


KRISTEN SIMMONS is the author of the ARTICLE 5 series, THE GLASS ARROW, and METALTOWN. She has worked with survivors of abuse and trauma as a mental health therapist, taught Jazzercise in five states, and is forever in search of the next best cupcake. Currently she lives in Cincinnati, Ohio with her husband, where she spends her days supporting the caffeine industry and chasing her delightfully rambunctious son.

WEBSITE   /   TWITTER  /   GOODREADS   /
FACEBOOK   /   INSTAGRAM

 

 
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Note: Thank you to Jean BookNerd for having me on this blog tour. And a huge thank you to Tor Teen for providing me a hardcover copy of
Pacifica to read for free in exchange for an honest review. All statements and opinions are my own.

Blog Tour & Giveaway: Review & Favorite Quotes of This Tiny Perfect World by Lauren Gibaldi

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Title:
 This Tiny Perfect World
Author:  Lauren Gibaldi
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: February 27, 2018
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary

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Synopsis:

Penny loves her small-town Florida life, and she has her future mapped out. She’s going to community college after graduation to stay close to home and her best friend, Faye. She’ll take over the family diner that her dad has been managing since her mother died. And one day, she’ll marry her high school sweetheart, Logan.

But when she unexpectedly lands a scholarship to a prestigious summer theater camp, she is thrust into a world of competition and self-doubt. And suddenly, her future gets a little hazy. As she meets new friends, including Chase, a talented young actor with big-city dreams, she begins to realize that maybe the life everyone (including her) expects her to lead is not the one she was meant to have.


review and quotes

Once again, Lauren Gibaldi has written another book with so much emotional power behind her characters. In This Tiny Perfect World, we are streamed through the world and emotions of the main character, Penny. It’s currently Penny’s summer break, and while her friends are pursuing jobs, she is participating in a summer program for actors. Penny is from a small town, where no one really leaves. But in this story, Penny begins to see that her passion for acting may not be just a hobby and the small-town-world she has perfected with great friends, a loving dad, and a caring boyfriend, might not be enough for Penny to stay after she graduates high school. 
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One of my favorite things about Gibaldi’s writing is that she makes her characters so real and honest. In This Tiny Perfect World, Penny’s inner dialogue is so gritty and vulnerable. I enjoyed watching Penny challenge herself to push forward; she dares herself to take on acting roles that are so different to her normal lifestyle. But it’s through  theater camp and her play-acting friends, Penny discovers there are dreams and goals beyond her small town walls. Penny thought she already had her life planned out after high school, but she acknowledges that not everything is black and white. Situations change. People change. And people, like herself, are on a continuous journey of figuring who they are and what they want in life. 
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Overall, This Tiny Perfect World is different that Gibaldi’s other two books., because it is not as swoony and romantic-based. Instead, the focus in this book is on Penny’s individual character development. I like that Penny’s life begins on such a narrow and focused path, but by the end of the book, Penny realizes her world is wide open to more possibilities. This story is very straight-forward, thought-provoking, and will have you engaged in internal dialogue of a teenager who has a loving soul and a fierce spirit to mature and discover the world around her. 

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giveaway

WIN 1 copy of THIS TINY PERFECT WORLD by Lauren Gibaldi
(OPEN INTERNATIONALLY-as long as the Book Depository ships to you)

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US ONLY…Comment below and win a swag package from the author (picture below). I will randomly pick one (1) winner on March 12, 2018 at noon.

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about the author


Lauren Gibaldi is a public librarian who’s been, among other things, a magazine editor, high school English teacher, bookseller, and circus aerialist (seriously). She has a BA in Literature and Master’s in Library and Information Studies. She lives in Orlando, Florida with her husband and daughter. Her books include THE NIGHT WE SAID YES, AUTOFOCUS, and the forthcoming THIS TINY PERFECT WORLD.

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February 27th

Pink Polka Dot Books– Welcome Post

February 28th

Broadway World– Guest Post
Jill’s Book Blog– Review
Belle’s Book Blog– Review

March 1st

Rants and Raves of a Bibliophile– Review & Favorite Quotes
We Live and Breathe Books Review & Meet the Characters
Bookwyrming Thoughts– Review

March 2nd

Two Different Worlds– Interview
BookCrushin– Review & Creative Post

March 3rd

Here’s to Happy Endings– Story Behind the Cover
A Thousand Words A Million Books– Review

March 4th

Blushing Bibliophile– Review & Favorite Quotes
Literary Meanderings– Guest Post

March 5th

Little Library Muse– Interview
Becca’s Lost in Lit– Review & Book Style
The Candid Cover– Review

 
Note: Thank you to the The Fantastic Flying Book Club for having me on this blog tour. And a huge thank you to HarperTeen for providing me an e-galley to read and review the book for free in exchange for an honest review. All statements and opinions are my own.

Blog Tour & Giveaway: Raving Review of Shadowsong by S. Jae-Jones

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Title: Shadowsong (Wintersong #2)
Author:  S. Jae-Jones
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Release Date: February 6, 2018
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy

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Synopsis:

Six months after the end of Wintersong, Liesl is working toward furthering both her brother’s and her own musical careers. Although she is determined to look forward and not behind, life in the world above is not as easy as Liesl had hoped. Her younger brother Josef is cold, distant, and withdrawn, while Liesl can’t forget the austere young man she left beneath the earth, and the music he inspired in her. When troubling signs arise that the barrier between worlds is crumbling, Liesl must return to the Underground to unravel the mystery of life, death, and the Goblin King—who he was, who he is, and who he will be. What will it take to break the old laws once and for all? What is the true meaning of sacrifice when the fate of the world—or the ones Liesl loves—is in her hands?


raving review

Once again, I have been bewitched and consumed by S. Jae-Jones words and “elf-touched” world that is illuminated in the conclusion of her duology known as Shadowsong.  While much of Wintersong focused on Liesl and her ventures in the Underground, Shadowsong provides an emotional layer to Liesl’s life outside the Goblin King’s realm—in a real world where chaos ensues from both the supernatural and human order. Shadowsong is so emotionally driven and parallels so many classic literary themes, which made me love this story and conclusion so damn much.

One of my favorite aspects of Shadowsong is that the story focuses a lot on Liesl and her strong relationship with her brother, Josef, and also her sister. The bond between Liesl and Joseph is solid and so emotional that it makes my heart ache. And what I adore about their connection is that even the secondary characters can see and feel that selflessness and love between these two. 

Although he flickers in and out of Liesl’s life in Shadowsong, I obsessed over every page the Goblin King was present. The Goblin King is much like the brooding Mr. Edward Rochester of Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre. Both males see themselves as selfish and monsters; but I love that both still hold a spark of hope to be with their beloveds. Like Mr. Rochester, the Goblin King can be found beckoning Liesl through haunting whispers of her name. He may wear the wicked smirk of a wolf, but his love still burns so bright and hot for his true Goblin Queen (Elizabeth/Liesl).

Similar to the Victorian novels that I adore so much, I itched for the dramatic reuniting scenes between the Goblin King and Liesl in Shadowsong. And let me tell you, I was not disappointed with how much their flame burns and sizzles on the page. Their love story is truly the essential piece that had me continuously turning every page for a reunion of passion, heartache, and sacrifice.

Shadowsong reads like a beautiful sheet of music. The words form a melody that enchantingly carries the reader through the grittiness of hopeless dreams, yearning questions, and unattainable passion. And as the tempo quickens, the pacing of the story throws the characters into a whirlwind filled with burning desires and unsettling fears. For me, reading Shadowsong, was like meeting with an old friend—at first, there is that instant panic that your connection will no longer be present, but once you are in each other’s presence, everything clicks like no time has ever passed. While reading Shadowsong, it felt so natural and blissful to be back in this goblin-infested world again, and now that the story has concluded, I just want more.

star rating

giveaway

WIN 1 copy of Shadowsong by S. Jae-Jones (US Only)

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about the author


S. Jae-Jones, called JJ, is an artist, an adrenaline junkie, and the NYT bestselling author of Wintersong.

Born and raised in sunny Los Angeles, she lived in New York City for ten years before relocating down to Dixie, where she is comfortably growing fat on grits and barbecue. When not writing, she can be found rock-climbing, skydiving, taking photographs, drawing pictures, and dragging her dog on ridiculously long hikes.

 
 
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February 5th

Pink Polka Dot Books & The Unofficial Book Addiction Fan Club- Welcome Post


February 6th

Vicky Who Reads– Review/Creative Post
Vicarious Bookworm– Review & Favorite Quotes


February 7th

Here’s To Happy Endings– Creative Post (Style Board)


February 8th


February 9th

TheBooktarian– Promo
Mama Reads Blog Review/Playlist
Katsyxo Creative Post


February 10th

Blushing Bibliophile– Review & Favorite Quotes


February 11th

Hardcover Haven Creative Post

Note: Thank you to the The Fantastic Flying Book Club for having me on this blog tour. And a huge thank you to Wednesday Books for providing me an e-galley and physical galley of Shadowsong to read and review for free in exchange for an honest review. All statements and opinions are my own.

Blog Tour & Giveaway: Reign the Earth by A.C. Gaughen

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Yay! I’m so excited to be part the Reign the Earth blog tour. Thank you to Bloomsbury for inviting me to not only share my thoughts and rave about how much I love A.C. Gaughen and her new amazing book, but I also get to fangirl and pick which women I would love to “reign the earth” with. 

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Title:
Reign the Earth
Author: A.C. Gaughen
Published by: Bloomsbury
Publication date: January 30, 2018
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy

Synopsis:

Shalia is a proud daughter of the desert, but after years of devastating war with the adjoining kingdom, her people are desperate for peace. Willing to trade her freedom to ensure the safety of her family, Shalia becomes Queen of the Bonelands.

But she soon learns that her husband, Calix, is motivated only by his desire to exterminate the Elementae—mystical people who can control earth, wind, air, and fire. Even more unsettling are Shalia’s feelings for her husband’s brother, which unleash a power over the earth she never knew she possessed—a power that could get her killed. As rumors of a rebellion against Calix spread, Shalia must choose between the last chance for peace and her own future as an Elementae.

This intense, richly drawn high-fantasy by the author of Scarletwill hold readers spellbound.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble  /  Book Depository


Which strong women would I
choose to Reign the Earth with?

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Of course, I would have to pick two of the most notable women that have impacted my life in the most positive, fiercest, and strongest way: Amelia Earhart and Buffy Summers from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

 

amelia earhart

 

Click picture to be linked to original source.

 

 

My obsession with Amelia Earhart and her mysterious whereabouts, began in grade school. I checked out every book I could find on her in my school library and county library. Not only did I learn about her historical aviation flying adventures, but I also found out that as a young adult and throughout her whole life she always faced her challenges head on. Amelia not only challenged and pushed herself, but she challenged societal standards and pioneered a leeway for women to accomplish their dreams. I would love to have a fierce spirited adventurer like Amelia by my side if I were to reign the earth.

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I am a huge Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan and some of you may already know that it is my all-time favorite show. This show was the first media outlet to show me that women can be spunky, determined, witty, and badass fighters. Having the Chosen One at my side during my reign of earth would not only provide me a helping hand when it came to fighting off bad guys, but Buffy would never hold back any sarcasm or words of wisdom. Hey, this girl died twice, and she still kept fighting the good fight and saving the world a lot. 

GIVEAWAY

Win a Signed copy of Reign the Earth (open to US/Canada only)

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Release Day Launch & Giveaway: SAY YOU’LL REMEMBER ME by Katie McGarry

From critically acclaimed author Katie McGarry, comes SAY YOU’LL REMEMBER ME—a story of two people from different worlds pushing themselves, and each other, to get what they deserve!

SAY YOU’LL REMEMBER ME is now available at all fine book retailers. Grab your copy today!

SAY YOU’LL REMEMBER ME Synopsis:

“Doesn’t matter who did it. Not anymore. I did the time. It’s over.”

When Drix was convicted of a crime–one he didn’t commit–he thought his life was over. But opportunity came with the Second Chance Program, the governor’s newest pet project to get delinquents off the streets, rehabilitated and back into society. Drix knows this is his chance to get his life back on track, even if it means being paraded in front of reporters for a while.

Elle knows she lives a life of privilege. As the governor’s daughter, she can open doors with her name alone. But the expectations and pressure to be someone she isn’t may be too much to handle. She wants to follow her own path, whatever that means.

When Drix and Elle meet, their connection is immediate, but so are their problems. Drix is not the type of boy Elle’s parents have in mind for her, and Elle is not the kind of girl who can understand Drix’s messy life.

But sometimes love can breach all barriers.

Fighting against a society that can’t imagine them together, Drix and Elle must push themselves–Drix to confront the truth of the robbery, and Elle to assert her independence–and each other to finally get what they deserve.

Grab your copy of SAY YOU’LL REMEMBER ME here!

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Google Play | BAM | Kobo

 

 

Add it to your Goodreads Now!

 

 

EXCERPT:

Hendrix

“Everyone says you have a blank slate.” My brother Axle sits beside me on the ground, arms resting on his bent knees, and he stares at the bonfire I built with my own two hands with only flint and sticks. It’s one of the many tricks I learned over the last three months. That and how to survive on my own in the middle of nowhere.

Trees and bears I can handle. It’s not knowing who I can trust, now that I’m home, that’s the problem. Axle knows this. It’s why he’s next to me as our friends and family walk around the backyard for the impromptu “Welcome Home” party I told Axle I didn’t want.

Someone in this yard is the reason why I spent a year away from home for a crime I didn’t commit.

My neck tenses, and I roll it in an attempt to release the anger. It took me close to eight months to find some Zen, and it has taken less than thirty minutes for some of the old underlying rage that followed me around like a black thunderhead to return.

Across from us, two girls I used to go to school with are roasting marshmallows. They’re waiting for me to talk to them. That’s who I was before: the smooth talker, the guy who made girls laugh and caused them to light up with a few specially chosen words. The right smile dropped at the right time, and panties would be shed. But I don’t feel up for conversation and I don’t feel like manipulating anyone anymore.

Crazy—I used to thrive when surrounded by people. The more, the better. But after being in juvenile detention for seven months and spending three in the wilderness taking part in an Outward Bound program for troubled teens, I’m more at ease by myself in front of a fire.

“They’ve all confirmed you’re walking out of all this with sealed records,” Axle continues.

Hel’s leaving out the part of how those records only remain sealed if I uphold my end of the plea deal—the agreement I made with the district attorney after I was arrested. I agreed to plead guilty, and the DA didn’t charge me as an adult and send me to hard-core prison. Considering we had no money for a lawyer to help prove my innocence, the deal sounded like the better of two bad options.

“You’re getting a massive second chance,” Axle says.

It was rotten luck that got me into this mess, but it happened at the right time. Our governor was searching for screwed-up teens to use for his pilot program. Someone high up in the world thought I stood a chance at turning my life around, but that second chance comes with a price. A price my brother is currently breaking down for me.

“This is a good thing. A blank slate. Not many people get one of those.”

Blank slate. That’s what I’m scared of. I may not have liked parts of the person I was before I was arrested, but at least I knew who I was. This blank slate, this chance to create someone new, scares me. This is a new type of pressure. At least I had a good excuse for being a delinquent before. Now, if I mess up, it’s because I’m truly broke.

The fire crackles then pops, and embers rise into the late May night. My younger sister laughs at the other end of the narrow yard near the aging shotgun house, and the sound is like an eight-eight beat with a high hat cymbal. It’s welcomed, and it’s the first time this feels like home.

She’s sixteen now, grown up faster than I’d prefer, and she’s one of the four people I love more than my own life. She’s also the only reason I’m still out here instead of holed up in my room. According to Axle, it was Holiday’s idea to set up the party.

Old Christmas lights are strung from one towering oak tree to the next, zigzagging green, red and blue across the yard. Most people brought their own chairs and a dish to share. My first meal as a free man and it’s hamburgers, hot dogs and potato salad. I don’t have the heart to tell her I would have given my left ball for a slice of thick crust pizza.

“She missed you,” Axle says, catching my train of sight.

“I missed her, too.” Those are my first words since we pulled in the driveway. I used to be the life of the party, but that was before, and as I said, I don’t know who I am anymore, so for now, I’m quiet.

“I missed you,” he says in such a low tone I barely catch it. “We weren’t the same without you.”

I take a deep breath because I’m not sure any of us will be the same again.

Order your copy of SAY YOU’LL REMEMBER ME, register and you will receive AND THEY ALL LIVED HAPPILY EVER AFTER, a novella that features your favorite Pushing the Limits and Thunder Road characters!

From the Pushing the Limits series, Noah, Beth, Isaiah, West and Logan are all grown up. Catch up with your favorite characters as one of them finally says, I do.

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About Katie McGarry:

Katie McGarry was a teenager during the age of grunge and boy bands and remembers those years as the best and worst of her life. She is a lover of music, happy endings, reality television, and is a secret University of Kentucky basketball fan.

Katie is the author of full length YA novels, PUSHING THE LIMITS, DARE YOU TO, CRASH INTO YOU, TAKE ME ON, BREAKING THE RULES, and NOWHERE BUT HERE and the e-novellas, CROSSING THE LINE and RED AT NIGHT. Her debut YA novel, PUSHING THE LIMITS was a 2012 Goodreads Choice Finalist for YA Fiction, a RT Magazine’s 2012 Reviewer’s Choice Awards Nominee for Young Adult Contemporary Novel, a double Rita Finalist, and a 2013 YALSA Top Ten Teen Pick. DARE YOU TO was also a Goodreads Choice Finalist for YA Fiction and won RT Magazine’s Reviewer’s Choice Best Book Award for Young Adult Contemporary fiction in 2013.

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