One more from BEA – Young Adult Buzz Titles

I almost forgot! Along with the Middle Grade Buzz session, there is a Young Adult Buzz session at BEA. I did not attend this year as I was in line to meet Alice Hoffman (yeah!!). However, the program has the list of titles/authors.

According to the industry, these are the ones to watch for in YA this fall:

Dream Things True: A Novel by Marie Marquardt (9/1 release)


Synopsis from Amazon:

Evan and Alma have spent fifteen years living in the same town, connected in a dozen different ways but also living worlds apart — until the day he jumps into her dad’s truck and slams on the brakes.
The nephew of a senator, Evan seems to have it all – except a functional family. Alma has lived in Georgia since she was two, surrounded by a large (sometimes smothering) Mexican family. They both want out of this town. His one-way ticket is soccer; hers is academic success.

When they fall in love, they fall hard, trying to ignore their differences. Then Immigration and Customs Enforcement begins raids in their town, and Alma knows that she needs to share her secret. But how will she tell her country-club boyfriend that she and almost everyone she’s close to are undocumented immigrants?

What follows is a beautiful, nuanced exploration of the complications of immigration, young love, defying one’s family, and facing a tangled bureaucracy that threatens to completely upend two young lives. This page-turning debut asks tough questions, reminding us that love is more powerful than fear.

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon (9/1 release)


Synopsis from Amazon:

This innovative, heartfelt debut novel tells the story of a girl who’s literally allergic to the outside world. When a new family moves in next door, she begins a complicated romance that challenges everything she’s ever known. The narrative unfolds via vignettes, diary entries, texts, charts, lists, illustrations, and more.

My disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically, I’m allergic to the world. I don’t leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla.

But then one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He’s tall, lean and wearing all black—black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly.

Maybe we can’t predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster.

Nightfall by Jake Halpern and Peter Kujawinski (9/22 release)


Synopsis from Amazon:

A story where edge-of-your-seat horror meets post-apocalyptic thriller, perfect for fans of Lois Lowry and The Mazerunner

On Marin’s island, sunrise doesn’t come every twenty-four hours—it comes every twenty-eight years. Now the sun is just a sliver of light on the horizon. The weather is turning cold and the shadows are growing long.

Because sunset triggers the tide to roll out hundreds of miles, the islanders are frantically preparing to sail south, where they will wait out the long Night.

Marin and her twin brother, Kana, help their anxious parents ready the house for departure. Locks must be taken off doors. Furniture must be arranged. Tables must be set. The rituals are puzzling—bizarre, even—but none of the adults in town will discuss why it has to be done this way.

Just as the ships are about to sail, a teenage boy goes missing—the twins’ friend Line. Marin and  Kana are the only ones who know the truth about where Line’s gone, and the only way to rescue him is by doing it themselves. But Night is falling. Their island is changing.

And it may already be too late.

The Life and Death of Zebulon Finch by Daniel Kraus (10/27 release)


Synopsis from Amazon:

A murdered teen is resurrected to walk the earth for centuries in this sweeping historical epic in the spirit of The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, from the author of Rotters and Scowler.

Twenty minutes after his murder on the shores of Lake Michigan in 1896, seventeen-year-old Zebulon Finch awakens, resurrected to suffer an eternity upon the planet. But of all people…why him?

Is it because he was a violent Chicago gangster and this is his chance at redemption?

Is it because he is a modern-day Job whose suffering is beyond human comprehension?

Over the next century—or two—he will try to find out. With a sly aristocratic voice and a healthy appetite for women and anarchy, Zebulon Finch spins a tale of his travels across a young America, watching the country grow and mature, knowing that his mind and body will never do the same.

Yes, he is witty. He is also vain. Absolutely brilliant, too. And he is always entertaining. But have no doubt—Zebulon Finch has a heart as vulnerable as anyone’s. Too bad he doesn’t learn to use it till after it has stopped beating…

This Raging Light by Estelle Laure (releasing 12/22)


Synopsis from Amazon:

Can the best thing happen at the worst time?

Her dad went crazy. Her mom left town. She has bills to pay and a little sister to look after. Now is not the time for level-headed seventeen-year-old Lucille to fall in love. But love—messy, inconvenient love—is what she’s about to experience when she falls for Digby Jones, her best friend’s brother. With blazing longing that builds to a fever pitch, Estelle Laure’s soulful debut will keep readers hooked and hoping until the very last page.

Review: FOLLOW YOU HOME by Mark Edwards


Through Net Galley, I received a review e-copy of FOLLOW YOU HOME. I like a good thriller and this one looked engaging.

Daniel and Laura are a young British couple having a fun trip around Europe. They have planned and saved for this, and figure when they return they will settle down to work, get married, and start a family. They are carefree and happy until one night when things go awry. Boarding a train in Romania, they sneak off to sleep in an empty sleeper compartment. When they awake, their belongings are stolen and they are being thrown off the train. A young woman they had met earlier is thrown off, too, when she tries to help them. Daniel and Laura trudge along through the creepy woods with their new friend, but when she steps away to go to the bathroom, things go horribly wrong (No! Don’t go in to that house in the woods! Run away!!).

Through flashback we find out what exactly happened that night – events that completely changed Daniel and Laura’s relationship and their personalities. But then strange things start occurring at their homes in England. Could the evil they witnessed in the woods have followed them back to England?

This was a great read — a heart-stopping thriller at some points, with totally believable  characters dealing with every day “stuff” like their jobs and relationships. I have never read Edwards before, but he writes psychological thrillers, and he is quite skilled at eeking out the details so that you have to keep reading!

Great plot wrap-up and ending — I’ll be looking for more from him.

Thank you, Thomas & Mercer, for my review copy! This book publishes on this Tuesday, 6/30.

Retro Review – THE GUERNSEY LITERARY AND POTATO PEEL PIE SOCIETY by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

Several of my friends have noted how everything I review is so new, it can be hard to come by, so I’ve added a feature to my blog of a “retro review” – rerunning an old review of a book I loved.

For today I’ve picked The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society as I not only loved it, but I’m currently reading Annie Barrows’ new novel which will release soon (The Truth According to Us). My trolling suggests that a movie of the novel is in the works but has had some production delays. Reading this review reminded me of “Border’s Bucks” — I forgot all about those!


(pic from google images)

Review: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

ON JANUARY 8, 2009

A short while back, I had some “Border’s Bucks” to use, so I treated myself to a new book. I chose “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows as I had heard good things about it.

Then it sat next to my bed for two weeks.

For some strange reason, I just couldn’t start this book. And then I realized: trite as it may seem, the title was turning me off. What was the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society? And for that matter, what was potato peel pie? It sounded awful. However, I could see the book was a series of letters and written communication, so I wrapped my mind around that, and dug in.

In this story, our main character, Juliet, is a writer living in London at the end of WWII. She receives correspondence from a gentleman who lives in Guernsey in the Channel Islands, learns of his “book group” there and their exploits during the German occupation, and is pulled into their lives. Just as Juliet is drawn in, so was I. Once I started this book and got through the first 30 or 40 pages I was hooked. I loved these characters and I loved this story – so much so, that I didn’t want it to end. If I could pick one word to describe this book, it would be “charming”.

Now, gentle reader, I must confess that I do love historical fiction, so this book was typical of the things I enjoy reading. However, I think this story does great credit to once again remind us of the fortitude and strength of the generation who survived WWII with all its indecencies. This is a story about ordinary people, who seem extraordinary by their virtue.

This is Mary Ann Shaffer’s first novel, and sadly it will be her only one as she has passed away. Anne Barrows, her niece, helped with co-authoring the book after Mary Ann had sold the manuscript but became ill.

I gave this book my coveted “5 Stars” – “I loved it so much, I need to own it!”

Review: THE SNIPER AND THE WOLF by Scott McEwen with Thomas Koloniar


My contacts at Touchstone (Simon and Schuster) sent me a copy of THE SNIPER AND THE WOLF to read several weeks ago. Scott Mc Ewen also co-authored AMERICAN SNIPER. It’s been a while since I’ve read an action-packed military adventure, so I looked forward to reading this one – even though it is number three in the series, it can stand alone.

This was 400 pages of non-stop action and excitement! In this installment, SEAL Team sniper Gil Shannon is outed by a higher up, and he must try to protect his identity and survive a whole host of events throughout Europe as various people try to take him out. He joins up, in part, with some sketchy Chechens, and they discover a terrorist network whose sights are set on the US government. Will Gil be able to take them down or will this be his last assignment?

Well – you get the idea! As I was reading I could totally see this book as a movie – and my publicity letter said that this is in the works – a movie based on all three of the books (I hope it’s three movies because I got tired just reading this one as it’s non-stop action!).

Here’s an interesting You Tube video of Scott McEwen speaking about his books:

If you like military adventure, don’t miss this one! Look for all three books and eventually the movie, too. Thank you for my review copy!

Review: GIRL AT WAR by Sara Nović

I’d been seeing a lot in the blogosphere about GIRL AT WAR, the debut novel by Sara Nović, so I was thrilled to find it on the “new release” shelf at the library!

Young Ana is only ten when war breaks out in her home country of Yugoslavia. Ana lives with her parents and younger sister in Zagreb, and soon their days are an endless parade of air raids, food rations, and disrupted harmony. But it is during one day, on a trip home from a doctor’s office, that the war touches them irreparably and Ana’s life is forever changed.

Ten years later Ana is living in NYC when she realizes that in order to come to terms with her past, she must return to Zagreb. Spontaneously, she boards a plane and returns to her homeland, looking for past friends and relatives and trying to reconcile her survival and her identity.

I found this book fascinating. Nović lived in Croatia and her story rings true. I tried to find out online how much of this novel was fiction and what could be memoir, but wasn’t successful — not that it matters, it is classed as fiction. I just could hardly believe that Ana’s tragic experiences could be the experience of many children – I don’t want it to be true. It is hauntingly real and unforgettable. I loved the writing and the voice of the protagonist.

Don’t miss GIRL AT WAR. You can find this book at an indie near you. I am an Indie Bound affiliate.

Shop Indie Bookstores

Litfuse Blog Tour for A FRIEND IN ME by Pamela Havey Au


Today I’m part of the Litfuse Blog tour for the nonfiction book: A FRIEND IN ME by Pamela Havey Au. This is a Christian title, focusing on how older, experienced women can reach out and be valuable friends to the young women in their lives.

Here’s what the tour has to say:

Book info
About the book: A Friend in Me (David C. Cook, June 2015)
Young women long for relational connection with women further ahead of them on the journey. Yet, without realizing it, many of us tend to distance ourselves from those in younger generations.

Can we really have close relationships with women who have different thoughts on church, different experiences with family, and different ways of talking about God? Where do we start?

In A Friend in Me, Pam Lau shows you how to be a safe place for the younger women in your life. She offers five patterns women need to internalize and practice for initiating relationships and talking about issues such as faith, forgiveness, sexuality, and vocation. Most significantly, she reminds you that there doesn’t need to be a divide between generations of women. Together, we can have a global impact—and experience a deeper faith than we’ve ever known.

Purchase a copy:

About the author:

Pam Lau is the author of Soul Strength and numerous articles for such publications as Christian Scholar’s Review and Christianity Today. She has taught writing at George Fox University and speaks around the country at conferences and retreats. A graduate of Liberty University and Colorado State University, Lau lives near Portland, Oregon, with her husband and three daughters.

Find Pamela online: website, Twitter

I enjoyed this book, which was a thoughtful and positive look at how women bond and how we “older” women (I’m in my 40’s but the book is directed at “older” as in “experienced”) can mentor and support young women today as they face the various trials of life. Ms. Au does a great job in providing anecdotes and then Biblical stories to show us how we can be helpers and how we can provide a safe haven for women who are struggling. I particularly liked the chapter on sexuality and felt it provided a lot of good info on how not to be judgmental or closed to those who might have issues and/or experiences that aren’t in our own experience.

Thank you, Litfuse, for my review copy!

You can find this book online or in a bookstore or library near you.

You can see more on the Litfuse landing page, and/or follow the tour!

Blog Tour Schedule:

Robin | Enchanted Excurse


Kimberly | KCreatives


Sarah | Growing for Christ
Tiffany | The Crafty Home
Paula | Grow Where You’re Planted
Amanda | Inklings and Notions
Brandy | Busymommylist
Kasey | Four Seasons of Blessings
Lindsey | Growing Kids Ministry


Tami | This Mom’s Delight


Carla | Working Mommy Journal
Kim | Window To My World
Dianna | Savings in Seconds


Donna | Books and Such


Crystal | Our Perfectly Imperfect Life
Lis | The Indigo Quill
Sarah | On Another Note
Erin | For Him and My Family
Pam | Pamela Black


Annie Kate | Tea Time with Annie Kate


Jessa | momsummary
Beth | Beth’s Book-Nook Blog
Kari | Slow it Down
Val | Wise-Like-Solomon


Kristie | Moments


Hope | Finding Joy


Julie | More Of Him
Penny | Beauty in the every day
Randi | A Modern Day Fairy Tale


Jennifer | Jennifer Sikora


April | ElCloud Homeschool
Tammy | Bluerose’s Heart


Krista | Welcome to Married Life
Erin | ReviewsByErin
Tima | Book Reviews by Tima
Debra | Footprints in the Butter


Alexis | God is Love
Grace | Klassy Tots


Bethany | Perfect Beginnings
Faith | Found a Christian by His Grace
Sarah | runningthroughthestorms
Ramona | Create With Joy


Michelle | New Horizon Reviews
Shirley | A Mom After God’s Own Heart
Carrie | Farming On Faith
Amanda | The Talbert Report
Neysa | Lyric & Longhand
Ariel | The Librarian’s Bookshelf



I had heard about this book via the blogosphere, so I was thrilled to get a copy via Net Galley to review.

In THE WITCH OF PAINTED SORROWS, young Sandrine runs away to Paris in the late 1890’s to get away from her abusive husband and to seek solace from her grandmother. Sandrine is convinced that her husband caused the death of her beloved father and she is determined to make a new life for herself in Paris. Her grandmother is not at her home, though, and Sandrine finds that work is being done – and by an interesting and attractive young architect. Sandrine, reserved and conservative by nature, finds herself becoming attached to the young man, being almost obsessed with painting, and finds herself connected to her grandmother’s house – a house where generations of women of her family have loved and lost in dramatic, almost supernatural ways. Everything connects back to “La Lune” – Sandrine’s ancestress. Is Sandrine just coming in to her own, with wakening desires and talents? Or is the spirit of La Lune possessing her, and using Sandrine to obtain her own wants and needs?

I enjoyed this gothic, historical read a lot! The supernatural was an interesting touch, though I enjoyed the history aspects more than the descent into black arts and possession. I wasn’t too keen on the ending as I always want closure (closure! I demand it!!) but it looks like this book is the first in a trilogy, so I’m sure my questions will be answered in the forthcoming novels.

This one has a little bit of a lot of things: Belle Epoche Paris, art, history, witchcraft, romance, suspense, etc.

Thank you for my review copy! (image via Net Galley)

BEA “Buzz Authors” for Middle Grade Fiction

One great thing about the Book Expo is that you can find out what the “hot” titles are that are forthcoming. This year I stumbled into this session late (couldn’t find it) and they were just finishing talking about the first title. A young man from Scholastic was giving a heartfelt entreaty for folks to read and love and support their upcoming release of GEORGE. Here are the books that were cited as the ones to watch – they all release in August or September:

George by Alex Gino – about a young boy who knows he’s really a girl and wants to play Charlotte in the school play of “Charlotte’s Web”.

Last in a Long Line of Rebels by Lisa Lewis Tyre – about a spunky young girl who seeks to save her Civil War era home.

The Doldrums  by Nicholas Gannon – about a young boy who goes on an adventure to save his grandparents who are stranded on an iceberg.

The Entirely True Story of the Unbelievable FIB by Adam Shaughnessy – first in a series about two friends having adventures in the world of Viking gods they discover under their town.

The Thing about Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin – about a young girl dealing with the death of her best friend.

When I came out of the session I found myself right in front of a table with EACH of these books on it as a free gift for us! I was able to get a copy of each and look forward to reading them.

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Review: THE BONES OF YOU by Debbie Howells and a Q and A and some GIVEAWAYS!


I’m happy today to take part in the Kensington Books Blog Tour of THE BONES OF YOU be Debbie Howells. I received this book through Net Galley a few weeks ago and I could NOT put it down!

When the book opens, local teen and “nice girl” Rosie is missing. She is a well-behaved, quiet girl from an outstanding family so everyone is shocked when she is found beaten and stabbed to death. Narrated by both the deceased Rosie (what exactly DID happen that day and what were the events that lead up to it?) and neighbor Kate (who had a friendship with Rosie as she loved Kate’s horses), the story twists and turns as we witness the characters and events that lead to Rosie’s untimely and violent end.

I could not stop reading this book! It has been compared to THE LOVELY BONES and it is similar in that it is narrated in part by a young girl who is deceased; however, it truly stands on its own. I usually can figure out by midway what has occurred in this type of mystery, but I was kept guessing until the end.

Poignant, touching, and with a real look inside some very human characters, THE BONES OF YOU was a captivating and fast-paced read.

Kensington Books is hosting a great giveaway! Follow the link to sign up for prizes (this giveaway US only):


And still there is more!! Kensington Books will give a free copy to one of my readers! This can be ANYONE in the world!!

Please leave a comment and tell me what you’re reading right now! I will use to pick a winner. One entry per person. Entries must be received by June 15.

And yet, there is more!

Here is a Q and A with Debbie Howells that Kensington sent me — interesting!


When did you start writing?

I began writing in earnest about five years ago, women’s fiction which was what I liked to read.  But I also wanted to write books that addressed more serious real-life issues as well.  I think with Wildflowers I achieved that. It’s had some wonderful reviews on Amazon, but though 6 agents asked to read the full manuscript, no-one actually took me on.

The Bones of You is a change of genre.  How did you come to write it?

I’d put everything I had into Wildflowers and it came so close, but not close enough.  I knew then I had to write something different.  Everyone says, write about what you know about.  I think that’s true, but I think also, you have to appeal to the market.  That said, I don’t think it’s possible to write without your heart one hundred per cent in it.

Were you surprised with the reaction you got from agents and publishers?

Completely blown away!  It was beyond my wildest dreams.  There are phone calls and emails from that time that I will never, ever forget.  When you’ve worked so hard for so long, battled rejection but kept going anyway, to reach the point where I’m being published is something I’m so excited about – and enormously grateful for.

What advice do you have for other writers?

There are so many brilliant, unpublished writers out there.  Finding an agent and a publisher mean you have to write a good book, but it takes luck, too – in spadefuls –  to hit the right person with the right idea when the market’s right… It’s also a massively subjective industry.  What one person loves, another wouldn’t give the time of day to.  And no-one can predict tomorrow’s bestsellers.

If you can’t find an agent to take you on, consider self-publishing.  A number of authors have had huge success this way and in any case, you learn from it.  Then keep writing – the next book, the one after.  If you don’t, you’ll never know…

Have you written your next book?

I finished it just before Christmas.  It’s another psychological thriller about not just what we hide from other people, but from ourselves, too.  It’s about a washed-up lawyer and a woman he used to love, who’s suspected of a murder.  He’s determined to prove her innocence but an overdose has left her in a coma.

As well as a thriller, it’s also a love story.

After all this excitement, I am guessing lots of you would want to read this book! You can find it at a local bookstore, online, or at your local library, among other places. It publishes June 30.