Thursday, April 30, 2015

Book Review: All the Bright Places

Title: All the Bright Places
Author: Jennifer Niven
Publisher: Knopf
Publication Date: January 6, 2015
Source: Purchased
Goodreads | Amazon 
The Fault in Our Stars meets Eleanor and Park in this exhilarating and heart-wrenching love story about a girl who learns to live from a boy who intends to die.
Soon to be a major motion picture starring Elle Fanning!

Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him.

Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death.

When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it’s unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the “natural wonders” of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself—a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who’s not such a freak after all. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink.

This is an intense, gripping novel perfect for fans of Jay Asher, Rainbow Rowell, John Green, Gayle Forman, and Jenny Downham from a talented new voice in YA, Jennifer Niven.

My Review

I should start off my review by stating that All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven did not make me cry like so many of the readers of this book, but I did get a little emotional. But only a tiny bit, which is shocking because I am a very emotional person. (If you're wondering what made me cry... I'll tell you... It wasn't the Violet/Finch stuff, but the Eleanor and Violet flashbacks.)

I expected all of the sad events that occur in this book to happen when I started reading it, and the strong foreshadowing confirmed my predictions. I guess it just left me with very little room to be sad because I knew what was coming. I had time to be sad while reading and to come to terms with the ending before I even got there. I couldn't really think after I finished reading, and I had a hard time analyzing everything about the book.

Nonetheless, Niven's novel is one that I was kind of unsure about after I closed the final page. I didn't know if I liked it or if it was just another book that I read without really feeling anything for any of the characters or plot or really anything. I was just lost, dazed, and confused. After sleeping it off, I decided that I liked the book. It's a different kind of book in the depression and suicide canon of books, and I'm glad that I was finally able to get to the book.

At times, I was bored with the writing. It's not that the book is wordy or poorly written because it's not; the prose just got on my nerves because sometimes it's catchy, and other times it's a bit boring. It just left me dumbfounded because both Finch and Violet of supposed to be fans of words and how they can be arranged in writing and speech. Sometimes, I felt like the word choices could have been a lot better to really make it a beautifully outstanding piece of writing.

Unfortunately, the characters didn't really stand out to me like I thought they would, but I still liked them. I feel like I'll remember them for a while, but soon, they will just be distant memories that I will have to revisit. Finch threw me off guard because he's just so out there. Sometimes I loved him, and other times, I hated him. At times, I thought he was pompous, especially when he and Violet first meet, but then I grew to like him and then dislike him and then like him again. It was like an endless cycle of figuring him out, but I was okay with that because it's truly representative of his depression. I was conflicted about how I felt about him, and I still am. On the other hand, I had a better connection to Violet. Her back story was better explained, and I really felt her sadness and I understood it. Therefore, I was able to get inside of her head a little better and really get to know her.

I'm thinking the only thing that really left me hanging about this book is that I really wanted to know more about Violet's sister, Eleanor. It's just plain old human curiosity to wander, and I wanted to know everything about this situation. Eleanor a huge reason as to why Violet is the why she is. Besides... I'm just such a sucker for stories about sisters and would have loved to have seen more about her included.

So did I like this book? Yes. I really did, but it just wasn't a spectacular read for me. Will I read other YA titles from Niven if she writes them? Absolutely. This one was good, and I hope that one day one of hers will be great for me. I'm glad that Niven was able to tell a story like this (apparently very similar to one that she went through) because the world really needs it. You never know when someone is suffering, and she does a great job at showing how depression and other mental health problems are invisible illnesses. 

All the Bright Places is Jennifer Niven's first book for young adult readers, but she has written four novels for adults - American Blonde, Becoming Clementine, Velva Jean Learns to Fly, and Velva Jean Learns to Drive - as well as three nonfiction books, The Ice Masters, Ada Blackjack, and The Aqua Net Diaries, a memoir about her high school experiences.

Although she grew up in Indiana, she now lives with her fiance and literary cats in Los Angeles, which remains her favorite place to wander.


Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday (24)


Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly bookish meme created and hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. The purpose of the mean is spotlighting the upcoming releases that bloggers and readers are currently anticipating.

It's very easy to participate in Waiting on Wednesday. All you need to do is make a post about an upcoming release (or releases) that you're waiting on, make sure you've linked back to Breaking the Spine, and then add your name to the link-up tool.

What I'm Waiting On...

  Title: Love Fortunes and Other Disasters
Author: Kimberly Laralius
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Publication Date: May 12, 2015
In the tradition of Alice Hoffman’s Practical Magic, one girl chooses to change her fortune and her fate by falling in love.

Love is real in the town of Grimbaud, and Fallon Dupree has dreamed of attending high school there for years. After all, generations of Duprees have successfully followed the (100% accurate!) love fortunes from Zita’s famous Love Charms Shop to happily marry their high school sweethearts. It’s a tradition. So she is both stunned and devastated when her fortune states that she will NEVER find love.

Fortunately, Fallon isn’t the only student with a terrible love fortune, and a rebellion is brewing. Fallon is determined to take control of her own fate—even if it means working with a notorious heartbreaker like Sebastian.

Will Fallon and Sebastian be able to overthrow Zita’s tyranny and fall in love?

Why I'm Waiting...

While I've never read Practical Magic, I've always wanted to because I love the idea of one being able to change his/her own fate. (Hello... Brave is one of my favorite Disney and Pixar movies for a reason!) It's just such an empowering concept!

I think the plot of this book looks adorable, and I'm kind of curious to read about the three generations of Duprees who have had successful love fortunes. More importantly, I want to see just why Fallon's fortune says she will never find love because I often feel that way. 

What Are You Waiting On...

Is anyone else waiting on this new Swoon Reads title? Are you waiting on something else? As always, feel free to let me know in the comments, or leave the link to your Waiting on Wednesday posts if you'd like me to check them out. I always love looking through everyone's posts to see if I can add anything else to my infinite TBR list.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Blog Tour: Love, Lucas


Title: Love, Lucas
Author: Chantele Sedgwick
Publisher: Sky Pony Press
Publication Date: May 5, 2015

When Oakley Nelson loses her brother, Lucas, to cancer, she thinks she’ll never recover. Between her parents’ arguing and the battle she’s fighting with depression, she feels nothing inside but a hollow emptiness. When Mom suggests they spend the summer in California with Aunt Jo, Oakley isn’t sure that a change of scenery will alter anything, but she’s willing to give it a try.

In California, Oakley discovers a sort of safety and freedom in Aunt Jo’s beach house. Once they’re settled, Mom hands her a notebook full of letters addressed to her—from Lucas. As Oakley reads one each day, she realizes how much he loved her, and each letter challenges her to be better and to continue to enjoy her life. He wants her to move on.

If only it were that easy.

But then a surfer named Carson comes into her life, and Oakley is blindsided. He makes her feel again. As she lets him in, she is surprised by how much she cares for him, and things get complicated. How can she fall in love and be happy when Lucas never got the chance to do those very same things?

With her brother’s dying words as guidance, Oakley must learn to listen to and trust herself again. She soon realizes that second chances are ways to learn from the past, and you don’t always have to leave the past behind to find happiness in the future.

Praise for Love, Lucas:

 "Chantele Sedgwick's Love, Lucas, is a beautiful story about finding hope, first loves, and learning to live again after the loss of a sibling. With a fantastic cast, and the gorgeous setting of the California coast, this book is one fabulous read." —Jolene Perry author of The Summer I Found You

 "A beautiful, moving novel of loss and love. Sedgwick’s elegant prose weave a heart-breaking tale that stays with you long after you have finished the last page." —G. R. Mannering, author of Roses

 “An emotional summer of love, hope, and healing! Love, Lucas is easy to adore with Sedgwick’s real relationships, sweet romance, and tale of renewal.” —Lizzy Charles, author of Effortless With You

 "Chantele Sedgwick navigates the dark waters of grief with a deft hand and plenty of heart.Love, Lucas will drag readers under before bringing them back to the surface for a life-saving breath of hope." —Amy Finnegan, author of Not In the Script

About Chantele Sedwick

Chantele Sedgwick is a YA author, harpist, wife to one and stay-at-home mom to four. She loves happy endings, Kit Kats and judging by her book shelves, buys way too many books.

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Prize Pack 1: Signed hardcover of Love, Lucas, a Micro Mini Book necklace of your choice (Up to $9.95) from the Tiny Book Town Etsy Shop and a full swag pack (US Only)
Prize Pack 2: $10 Amazon Gift Card and a full swag pack (US Only)

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Love, Lucas Tour Schedule

Monday, April 27, 2015

Audiobook Blog Tour: Compulsion


Release Date: 10/28/14
Narrated by: Joell A. Jacob
Length: 11 hrs and 29 mins 
Simon Pulse/Tantor Audio
448 pages

Summary from Goodreads:
Three plantations. Two wishes. One ancient curse.

All her life, Barrie Watson has been a virtual prisoner in the house where she lives with her shut-in mother. When her mother dies, Barrie promises to put some mileage on her stiletto heels. But she finds a new kind of prison at her aunt’s South Carolina plantation instead--a prison guarded by an ancient spirit who long ago cursed one of the three founding families of Watson Island and gave the others magical gifts that became compulsions.

Stuck with the ghosts of a generations-old feud and hunted by forces she cannot see, Barrie must find a way to break free of the family legacy. With the help of sun-kissed Eight Beaufort, who knows what Barrie wants before she knows herself, the last Watson heir starts to unravel her family's twisted secrets. What she finds is dangerous: a love she never expected, a river that turns to fire at midnight, a gorgeous cousin who isn’t what she seems, and very real enemies who want both Eight and Barrie dead.

Buy Links:

Listen to an audiobook sample:

Praise for Compulsion:
"Skillfully blends rich magic and folklore with adventure, sweeping romance, and hidden treasure . . . An impressive start to the Heirs of Watson Island series." —Publishers Weekly
"Eight Beaufort is so swoon-worthy that it's ridiculous. Move over Four, Eight is here to stay!"  —RT Book Reviews, RT Editors Best Books of 2014

"Darkly romantic and steeped in Southern Gothic charm, you'll be compelled to get lost in the Heirs of Watson Island series." —JENNIFER L. ARMENTROUT, #1 New York Times bestselling author

"A fresh twist on the Southern Gothic -- haunting, atmospheric, and absorbing." —CLAUDIA GRAY, New York Timesbestselling author of A Thousand Pieces of You and the Evernight and Spellcaster series 
"A stunningly magical debut with a delicious slow burn to be savored. I want to live in this story world!" —WENDY HIGGINS, USA Today and New York Times bestselling author of the Sweet Evil trilogy

"Beautifully written, with vivid characters, a generations-old feud, and romance that leaps off the page, this Southern ghost story left me lingering over every word, and yet wanting to race to the compelling finish. Compulsion is not to be missed." —MEGAN SHEPHERD, author of The Madman's Daughter

Book Two:
Beautiful Creatures meets Gone With the Wind
As reporters chasing rumors of a stolen shipment of Civil War gold descend on Watson Island, Barrie Watson discovers more is buried at Colesworth Place than treasure. A mysterious, magical man claims the key to the Watson and Beaufort gifts and the Colesworth curse also lies beneath the mansion, and Barrie has no option but to help him find it. While she and Eight Beaufort struggle to make sense of the escalating danger and their growing feelings for each other, Barrie must decide not only whom to trust, but which gift is more reliable—Eights or her own. With the fate of the founding families at stake, she has to choose between what she feels deep in her heart and what will keep her loved ones safe.

Pre-Order Links:
IndieBound | Barnes & Noble | Amazon |  Book Depository | Goodreads

About the Author
Martina Boone was born in Prague and spoke several languages before learning English. She fell in love with words and never stopped delighting in them.

She’s the founder of, a Writer’s Digest 101 Best Websites for Writers site, and, a site devoted to encouraging literacy and all this YA Series.
From her home in Virginia, where she lives with her husband, children, and Auggie the wonder dog, she enjoys writing contemporary fantasy set in the kinds of magical places she’d love to visit. When she isn’t writing, she’s addicted to travel, horses, skiing, chocolate flavored tea, and anything with Nutella on it.

Author Links:

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Saturday, April 25, 2015

Soundtrack Saturday (24)


Welcome back to Soundtrack Saturday, everyone. I know it's been a while since my last Soundtrack Saturday post, but I'm bringing it back! 
I hope you've been enjoying your weekend. The weather has been warming up here, despite a cold front earlier in the week. The trees are starting to bloom, and I'm starting to think about summer! 
If you've been following The Hardcover Lover for a while, you know just what happens on Saturdays on the blog. Yup! That's right - Soundtrack Saturday! If you've never noticed the meme before or are just new to the blog, I'll explain things for you:

Soundtrack Saturday is a book meme created and hosted by me so I can share my love of music with my readers. But this is a book blog, so of course, books are involved! The soundtracks are actually book soundtracks! As I'm reading, or as soon as I finish, I compile a list of songs that go well with the book.

As with all bookish memes, there are a few steps to follow to help you create your own Soundtrack Saturday post:
  • Choose a book that you've read
  • Create a mini (four songs) or full soundtrack (ten-fifteen songs) for that book based on characters and plot details
    • For more detailed instructions, please visit the meme's homepage.
  • Please credit me somewhere in your post
    • It can be as simple as "Soundtrack Saturday was created by Erin at The Hardcover Lover."
  • Leave a comment on my blog post if you enjoy the feature
  • Add your name to the link-up tool 

Friday, April 24, 2015

Damsel Distressed: Six Month Bookiversary Bash


Hey, everyone! I have an extra special post for you today for a book that is very near and dear to my heart. Spencer Hill Contemporary and Kelsey Macke are celebrating the fact that Kelsey's debut novel, Damsel Distressed, has been out for six months now!

If you've been following my blog since its creation, you might remember me reviewing the beautiful book and being a part of the blog tour and release day blitz. If not, go check them out so you can familiarize yourself with this tremendous book! And while you're at it, buy a copy of it so you can see just why I am so in love with this book, and its main character, Imogen.

As you can imagine, I'm honored and thrilled to be kicking off the "Bookiversary" Bash today! I hope you enjoy the exclusive bonus content from Kelsey and Imogen!

Title: Damsel Distressed
Author: Kelsey Macke
Publisher: Spencer Hill Contemporary
Publication Date: October 14, 2014
Hot girls get the fairy tales. No one cares about the stepsisters' story. Those girls don't get a sweet little ending; they get a lifetime of longing

Imogen Keegen has never had a happily ever after–in fact, she doesn’t think they are possible. Ever since her mother’s death seven years ago, Imogen has pulled herself in and out of therapy, struggled with an “emotionally disturbed” special ed. label, and loathed her perma-plus-sized status.

When Imogen’s new stepsister, the evil and gorgeous Ella Cinder, moves in down the hall, Imogen begins losing grip on the pieces she’s been trying to hold together. The only things that gave her solace–the theatre, cheese fries, and her best friend, Grant–aren’t enough to save her from her pain this time.

While Imogen is enjoying her moment in the spotlight after the high school musical, the journal pages containing her darkest thoughts get put on display. Now, Imogen must resign herself to be crushed under the ever-increasing weight of her pain, or finally accept the starring role in her own life story.

And maybe even find herself a happily ever after.

Enhance the experience with the companion soundtrack, Imogen Unlocked, by the author's band, Wedding Day Rain.

Alternate Scene:

The following scene is one where Imogen is thinking about her mom. Many parts of this scene were edited and deleted for the book's final printing, so while this one may appear slightly similar, it's still different.

     It’s 4:34 am, and I can’t sleep. I don’t even want to think about the fact that I might have to face Carmella at school. Ugh. I can’t. All I can manage is to flop around on my bed, sigh, play with the frayed hem of my t-shirt, sigh some more, and stare at the ceiling. I miss her. I always miss her. But I miss her more at night… and even more when I’m sad. 

     Or anxious. 

     Or angry. 

     Her smile flashes at me from behind my eyes every time they close. Each blink reminds me of her laugh and her eyes. I roll over, away from my clock and towards my bookcase. I look at the picture frame holding the photo of us together. Her, lovely and laughing, holding me on her lap on the morning of my first day of kindergarten. I’m wearing a t-shirt with a giant, smiling sun on it, and I’m looking at her with the most joyful admiration. Even as a kid, I knew she was special. The frame is hand painted ceramic, with my name across the top in her neat, swirling script. I can’t stand it. Thinking of her hand shaping the letters only inches from my face. I reach over and turn the framed photo face down, stifling her smile, and concealing the evidence of my once-present joy. 

     That grinning Imogen. 

     What a fool. 

     It seems that as each day passes, I become more and more separated from the girl I was seven years ago. She was this bright, optimistic girl who loved to wear pink, play dress up, and smile. She had long chestnut brown hair and cheeks peppered with freckles. Her innocent eyes sparkled blue and grey, and always saw the best in everyone. She ran through the neighborhood on legs that were sun kissed and lean, in the way that exuberant and active children’s often are. She spent hours in her room, singing into her hairbrush, staring at herself as she performed to the (obviously impressed) crowd of teddy bears and porcelain dolls. She had a mother who loved to brush her hair, and read her stories of lovely girls, and dashing boys, and who kissed her goodnight and told her that she was beautiful. 

     She had a mother.


Enhance Your Damsel Distressed Reading Experience with the Book's Soundtrack, Imogen Unlocked by Wedding Day Rain
Click the Album Art to Purchase Imogen Unlocked from iTunes
  1.  Heavy
  2. No Goodbye
  3. Something About
  4. Sinking
  5. Don't Wake Me Up
  6. Let Me Go
  7. My Strength
  8. Unseen
  9. Always Speak Too Late
  10. The End is Just the Beginning
  11. Breath Easy
  12. Edge of the Fall
Damsel Distressed is the story of Imogen, a girl who's survived the years after her mother's death by focusing squarely on her best friend, Grant, musical theatre, and lots of cheese. The book is full of humor and heart, and also contains a few surprises. Full page sketches are scattered throughout the novel, and each one contains a QR code that corresponds to a song from the book's soundtrack. Imogen Unlocked is a 12-song album of original music written by the author and her husband Daron as their indie-pop band, Wedding Day Rain. Together, the book Damsel Distressed and the soundtrack Imogen Unlocked work together to tell the story of a girl who might just make her own Happily Ever After, if she can just hold herself together. 

About Kelsey Macke

Kelsey Macke has been creative for as long as she can remember. From an early age she was on stage singing, penning poetry, and writing notebooks full of songs. When the idea for her debut novel, DAMSEL DISTRESSED, popped into her head, she was undeterred by the fact that she had no idea how to actually write a novel. Her bff, the internet, was her guide, and after much trial, error, and candy, she finished it, and set out to get it published… a process far more difficult than, the internet (now her mortal enemy), had lead her to believe.

Her whirlwind adventure was made even more unbelievable when she signed with fabulous agent, Jessica Sinsheimer of the Sarah Jane Freymann Literary Agency and, shortly after, Danielle Ellison of Spencer Hill Contemporary bought her debut.

This innovative, mixed-media art project has given Kelsey an incredibly unique opportunity to join two of her passions: writing and making music with her husband as half of the folky, indie-pop band Wedding Day Rain.

DAMSEL DISTRESSED, and the companion album of original songs, Imogen Unlocked, are scheduled for release in October 2014.

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The Friday 56 (19)

The Friday 56 is a weekly bookish meme hosted by Freda at Freda's Voice. The rules are super easy to follow, and this feature is a great way to share the books you're reading with other bloggers and readers. I've discovered so many great books through this meme, and I always have a blast trying to figure out what quote I like the most.

So what do you need to do to participate in The Friday 56?
  • Go to page 56 (or 56% for e-readers like Kindle and Nook) of the book you're currently reading
  • Grab a few sentences to share with your blog's readers, but be sure not to spoil anything too major
  • Add your name and link to the link-up on Freda's blog
This week, I'm featuring two books on my Friday 56 post. Why? Well I'm reading one for fun, and I'm reading another one for work. The books I'm reading this week are All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven and Night by Elie Wiesel in The Night Trilogy bind-up. It seems that I've set myself up for some very emotional reads this week. 

The first excerpt is from Night by Elie Wiesel. This is my first time reading this book because I somehow ended up in the ninth grade class that didn't get to read it.
     "Again, the waiting. I fell asleep standing up. I dreamed of a bed, of my mother's hand on my face. I woke: I was standing, my feet in the mud. Some people collapsed, sliding into the mud. Others shouted:
     'Are you crazy? We were told to stand. Do you want to get us all in trouble?'"

The second excerpt I'm sharing this Friday is from Jennifer Niven's YA debut, All the Bright Places.
"I climb into my mom's old Saturn VUE, better known as Little Bastard, and head to Violet Markey's on the farm road that runs parallel to National Road, the main artery that cuts through town. I slam my foot against the gas pedal, and there's the rush as the speedometer climbs to sixty, seventy, eighty, ninety, the needle shaking the higher it gets, the Saturn doing its best in that moment to be a sports car instead of a five-year-old minivan."

Now I want to know what everyone else is reading this week and weekend. Feel free to let me know the names of any books, but also feel free to leave your links to your Friday 56 posts. Happy reading, and I hope all of you have a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday (23)


Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly bookish meme created and hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine that spotlights the upcoming book releases that bloggers and readers are currently anticipating.

Participating in the meme is very easy. All you need to do is make a post about an upcoming release (or releases) that you're waiting on, make sure you've linked back to Breaking the Spine somewhere in your post, and then add your name to the link-up tool.

What I'm Waiting On...

Title: Because You'll Never Meet Me
Author: Leah Thomas
Publisher: Bloomsbury Childrens USA
Publication Date: June 2, 2015
In a stunning literary debut, two boys on opposite ends of the world begin an unlikely friendship that will change their lives forever.

Ollie and Moritz are best friends, but they can never meet. Ollie is allergic to electricity. Contact with it causes debilitating seizures. Moritz’s weak heart is kept pumping by an electronic pacemaker. If they ever did meet, Ollie would seize. But Moritz would die without his pacemaker. Both hermits from society, the boys develop a fierce bond through letters that become a lifeline during dark times—as Ollie loses his only friend, Liz, to the normalcy of high school and Moritz deals with a bully set on destroying him.

A story of impossible friendship and hope under strange circumstances, this debut is powerful, dark and humorous in equal measure. These extraordinary voices bring readers into the hearts and minds of two special boys who, like many teens, are just waiting for their moment to shine.

Why I'm Waiting...

Letters? Do you see that? Letters! Obviously in this day and age, everything is so instant and electronic, and many people fail to see the beauty in a handwritten letter. But letters connect these two best friends who will never be able to meet one another, and I am very curious to see how Leah Thomas characterizes these two friends. I'm also a sucker for YA books about friendship because friendships are so important in the teenage years, and many of the books I've read about best friends have turned out to be some of the sweetest books I've ever read.

What Are You Waiting On...

I'd love to know what everyone else is waiting on for this week's Waiting on Wednesday. As always, feel free to leave the title or titles of the books that you cannot wait for in the comments, or you may leave a link to your Waiting on Wednesday posts. I'd love to be able to see what everyone plans on reading as soon as these new books are released.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday (21)

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created and hosted by the awesome ladies at The Broke and the Bookish. They created the feature because they love making and sharing bookish lists with everyone. Well it just so happens that I am also a fan of list making, so I regularly participate in Top Ten Tuesday.

Every week, there is a new topic for Top Ten Tuesday, and all you have to do is create your top ten list (or somewhere around ten if you can't think of ten) based on it. Be sure to credit The Broke and the Bookish in your post. Then you can add your name to the link up tool that they include in their post and check out all of the other bookish lists for the week!

Top Ten All-Time Favorite Authors:

  1. J.K. Rowling - Even though I read Harry Potter later in life, I love Jo for these books. If it weren't for them, I probably would have stopped reading YA after my YA class.
  2. Romina Russell - Ms. Russell has only released one book so far, but that one book soared her to the top of my favorite authors list. She's definitely an auto-buy author for me.
  3. Marissa Meyer - Again, I discovered Marissa Meyer later than everyone else, but I love her spin on classic fairy tales. I can't wait to read more from her.
  4. Veronica Roth - So I feel like one of the very few people who loved all three books in the Divergent trilogy, but I did. I cannot wait to get my hands on Veronica's upcoming book.
  5. Emery Lord - Emery is making a name for herself in contemporary YA, and she deserves her spot on my list. I love how she writes about friendship, family, and love.
  6. Kiera Cass - Kiera and I had a rocky start, but I now love her work. I'm eagerly waiting for The Heir to get here to see how she takes on a new character in an already established fictional world.
  7. Rainbow Rowell - I love that Rainbow flawlessly writes about teens and adults because I love reading about both teens and adults. I can't wait to read even more from her, including Carry On because I'm excited to see her write through the eyes of one of her characters.
  8. Stephanie Perkins - Stephanie is pretty much one of the queens of YA romance, and I adored all three Anna and the French Kiss companion books.
  9. Lauren Oliver - I found Lauren by surprise when I won a copy of Before I Fall from Goodreads. I loved it and then went on to devour even more of her books.
  10. Gayle Forman - I've only read two books by Ms. Forman, but they really surprised me because of how amazing they truly are. I have more of her books that I will be reading in the future.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Book Trailer Reveal: Hold Me Like a Breath + GIVEAWAY


Title: Hold Me Like a Breath
Series: Once Upon a Crime Family
Author: Tiffany Schmidt
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Publication Date: May 19, 2015
Penelope Landlow has grown up with the knowledge that almost anything can be bought or sold—including body parts. She’s the daughter of one of the three crime families that control the black market for organ transplants.

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

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

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

 Book Trailer


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

About Tiffany Schmidt

Tiffany Schmidt lives in Pennsylvania with her saintly husband, impish twin boys, and a pair of mischievous puggles. She's not at all superstitious... at least that's what she tells herself every Friday the thirteenth.
SEND ME A SIGN is her first novel. BRIGHT BEFORE SUNRISE will follow in Winter, 2014. The ONCE UPON A CRIME FAMILY series begins with HOLD ME LIKE A BREATH in 2015. You can find out more about her and her books at:, or by following her on Twitter @TiffanySchmidt.

Boldly Bookish Order Campaign

This spring, Bloomsbury is sending four amazing authors — Trish Doller, A.C. Gaughen, Emery Lord, and Tiffany Schmidt — to bookstores together for our Boldly Bookish tour. To celebrate it, they are giving away some goodies! All you have to do is buy one of the following books: The Devil You Know, Lion Heart, The Start of Me and You and/or Hold Me Like A Breath and email your receipt to, in order to receive one of the following prizes:

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