Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Not Now, Not Ever by Lily Anderson: Blog Tour and Excerpt

Did you read and love Lily Anderson's delightfully nerdy debut novel, The Only Thing Worse Than Me Is You? Do you adore fun, geeky contemporaries that draw inspiration from classic literature? Do you want to meet a truly fabulous, academic decathlon-bound main character? If so, stick around—because I have an excerpt from Not Now, Not Ever (which hits shelves today!) to share with you as part of a blog tour organized by the lovely people at Wednesday Books!

about the book

Not Now, Not Ever by Lily Anderson | Goodreads
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Release: November 21, 2017
ISBN: 9781250142108 | e-book ISBN: 9781250148179
Jennifer E. Smith meets The Fangirl's Guide to the Galaxy in this deliciously nerdy sequel to The Only Thing Worse than Me Is You (one of Paste's Best YA Books of 2016).

Elliot Gabaroche is very clear on what she isn't going to do this summer.

1. She isn't going to stay home in Sacramento, where she'd have to sit through her stepmother's sixth community theater production of The Importance of Being Earnest.
2. She isn't going to mock trial camp at UCLA.
3. And she certainly isn't going to the Air Force summer program on her mom's base in Colorado Springs. As cool as it would be to live-action-role-play Ender's Game, Ellie's seen three generations of her family go through USAF boot camp up close, and she knows that it's much less Luke/Yoda/"feel the force," and much more one hundred push-ups on three days of no sleep. And that just isn't appealing, no matter how many Xenomorphs from Alien she'd be able to defeat afterwards.

What she is going to do is pack up her determination, her favorite Octavia Butler novels, and her Jordans, and go to summer camp. Specifically, a cutthroat academic-decathlon-like competition for a full scholarship to Rayevich College, the only college with a Science Fiction Literature program. And she's going to start over as Ever Lawrence, on her own terms, without the shadow of all her family’s expectations. Because why do what’s expected of you when you can fight other genius nerds to the death for a shot at the dream you’re sure your family will consider a complete waste of time?

This summer's going to be great.

read an excerpt

When we perfect commercial time travel, everyone in the past is going to be pissed at us. It’s not only that their quiet, sepia-toned lives will be inundated with loud-mouthed giants. And it’s not even the issue that language is a living organism, so all communication will be way more problematic than anyone ever thinks about.

It’s jet packs.

At some point, someone is going to ask about jet packs, and no amount of bragging about clean water and vaccines and free Wi-Fi will be able to distract them. Even if you went back before the Industrial Revolution, someone is going to want to know if we’ve all made ourselves pairs of Icarus wings.

Defrost Walt Disney and he’ll ask to be put back in the fridge until Tomorrowland is real. Go back to the eighties and everyone’s going to want to know about hoverboards.

Hell, go back to yesterday, find your own best friend, and they’d still ask, “Tomorrow’s the day we get flying cars, right?”

People want miracles. They want magic. They want to freak-ing fly.

Unrelated: Did you know that crossing state lines on a train is pretty much the most boring and uncomfortable thing ever?

Despite sounding vaguely poetic, the midnight train to Oregon wasn’t much for scenery. Unfortunately, running away tends to work best in the middle of the night, especially when one’s cousins have a curfew to make and can’t wait on the platform with you.

Twelve hours, two protein bars, and one sunrise later, the view was rolling brown fields that turned into dilapidated houses with collapsing fences and sun-bleached Fisher Price play sets. Apparently, the whole “wrong side of the tracks” thing wasn’t a myth. Everything the train passed was a real bummer.

One should always have something sensational to read on the train,whispered Oscar Wilde, sounding remarkably like my stepmom. With my headphones drowning out the screech of the tracks, I reached into my backpack, pushing past the heavy stack of books and ziplock bags of half-eaten snacks, to the bottom. Tucked be- tween the yellowed pages of my battered copy of Starship Troopers was a folded square of white printer paper. I tried to smooth it over my leg, but it snapped back into its heavy creases.

Dear Ever,

On behalf of Rayevich College and our sister school, the Messina Academy for the Gifted, it is my great pleasure to offer you a place at Camp Onward. At Onward, you will spend  three weeks learning alongside forty-seven other accomplished high school students from all over the West Coast as you prepare for the annual Tarrasch Melee. The winners of the Melee will be granted a four-year, full-tuition scholarship to Rayevich College . . .

The page was starting to wear thin in the corners from my fingers digging into it whenever it stopped feeling real enough. The packing list that had once been stapled to it was even worse off, highlighted and checkmarked and underlined. I’d had to put that one inside of an N. K. Jemisin hardcover so that the extra weight could smash it flat.

I ran my thumb over the salutation again. Dear Ever.

I shivered, remembering how my hands had trembled as I’d read those words for the first time, stamped to the front of an envelope with the Rayevich seal in the corner. It meant that everything had worked. It meant that freedom was as simple as a checked box on an Internet application.

The train lurched to a stop. I shoved the note back inside of Star- ship Troopers and popped out my headphones just in time to hear the conductor’s garbled voice say, “Eugene station.”

I staggered down to the platform, my laptop case and my backpack weighing me down like uneven scales. I sucked in fresh air, not even caring that it tasted like cement and train exhaust. It was cooler here than it was back home. California asphalt held in heat and let it off in dry, tar-scented bursts.
Oregon had a breeze. And pine trees. Towering evergreens that could have bullied a Christmas tree into giving up its lunch money. We didn’t get evergreens like that at home. My neighborhood was lined in decorative suburban foliage. By the time I got back, our oak tree would be starting to think about shedding its sticky leaves on the windshield of my car.

As a new wave of passengers stomped onto the train, I retrieved the massive rolling suitcase that Beth had ordered off of the Inter- net for me. It was big enough to hold a small person, as my brother had discovered when he’d decided to use it to sled down the stairs.

I’d miss that little bug.

There were clusters of people scattered across the platform, some shouting to each other over the dull roar of the engine. I watched an old woman press two small children into her bosom and a hipster couple start groping each other’s cardigans.

In the shade of the ticket building, a light-skinned black guy had his head bowed over his cell phone. His hair was shorn down to his scalp, leaving a dappling of curl seedlings perfectly edged around his warm brown temples. He was older than I was, definitely college age. He had that finished look, like he’d grown into his shoulders and gotten cozy with them. A yellow lanyard was swinging across the big green D emblazoned on his T-shirt.

“Hey,” I called to him, rolling my suitcase behind me. My laptop case swayed across my stomach in tandem with my backpack scraping over my spine, making it hard not to waddle. “Are you from Rayevich?”

The guy looked up, startled, and shoved his phone into the pocket of his jeans. He swept forward, remembering to smile a minute too late. All of his white teeth gleamed in the sunshine.

“Are you Ever?” His smile didn’t waver, but I could feel him processing my appearance. Big, natural hair, baggy Warriors T-shirt, cutoff shorts, clean Jordans. Taller than him by at least two inches.

“Yeah,” I said. And then, to take some of the pressure off, “You were looking for a white girl, right?”
His smile went dimply in the corners, too sincere to be pervy. “I’m happy to be wrong.”

“Ever Lawrence,” I said, hoping that I’d practiced it enough that it didn’t clunk out of my mouth. It was strange having so few syllables to get through. Elliot Gabaroche was always a lot to dump on another human being.

“Cornell Aaron,” the college boy said, sticking his hand out. He had fingers like my father’s, tapered, with clean, round nails. I spent the firm two-pump handshake wondering if he also got no-polish manicures. “I’ll be one of your counselors at Onward. It’s a quick drive from here.”

He took the handle of my suitcase without preamble and led the way toward the parking lot. I followed, my pulse leaping in the same two syllables that had wriggled between the folds of my brain and stamped out of my shoes and pumped through my veins for months.


It was a stupid thing to drive you crazy, but here I was: running away from home in the name of Oscar Wilde.

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about the author

Lily Anderson is an elementary school librarian and Melvil Dewey fangirl with an ever-growing collection of musical theater tattoos and Harry Potter ephemera. She lives in Northern California. She is also the author of The Only Thing Worse than Me Is You.

Thanks so much for stopping by, and I hope you'll check out Lily Anderson's work if you haven't yet! What did you think of this excerpt? What are your favorite books with nerdy characters? Let me know in the comments!

Monday, November 13, 2017

A Heartrending Tale of Family, Poverty, and Persistence: Being Fishkill by Ruth Lehrer

Being Fishkill by Ruth Lehrer | Goodreads
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Release: November 14, 2017
Source: Book Expo
ISBN: 9780763684426
Fishkill Carmel fends for herself, with her fists if need be — until a thwarted lunch theft introduces her to strange, sunny Duck-Duck and a chance for a new start.

Born in the backseat of a moving car, Carmel Fishkill was unceremoniously pushed into a world that refuses to offer her security, stability, love. At age thirteen, she begins to fight back. Carmel Fishkill becomes Fishkill Carmel, who deflects her tormenters with a strong left hook and conceals her secrets from teachers and social workers. But Fishkill’s fierce defenses falter when she meets eccentric optimist Duck-Duck Farina, and soon they, along with Duck-Duck’s mother, Molly, form a tentative family, even as Fishkill struggles to understand her place in it. This fragile new beginning is threatened by the reappearance of Fishkill’s unstable mother — and by unfathomable tragedy. Poet Ruth Lehrer’s young adult debut is a stunning, revelatory look at what defines and sustains “family.” And, just as it does for Fishkill, meeting Duck-Duck Farina and her mother will leave readers forever changed.
You know the kind of book that makes you feel like the weary weight of the world is resting on your chest, threatening to suffocate you—or at least send you into a spiral of tears? The kind that leaves you feeling shattered yet somehow comforted? The kind that reminds you why hope is a necessity, but not a foolish one?

Being Fishkill is that kind of book, and it’s one of the best. In her YA debut, Ruth Lehrer tackles the topics of poverty, family, bullying, abuse, and so much more, weaving several threads into one spellbinding, intense, heartrending, harrowing story. 

What gives Being Fishkill its emotional weight is its utter relentlessness. From the beginning of the book, which introduces us to 12-year-old Carmel Fishkill (or, as she prefers to be called, Fishkill Carmel), readers barely get a break to breathe. Whether we’re learning about the protagonist’s abusive (now-dead) grandfather, unraveling the story behind why her neglectful mother abandoned her, hearing about her family’s economic struggles, or watching her navigate painful social situations at school, the story never ceases to provide truly heartbreaking revelations and plot developments. I can barely pinpoint a traditional climax in this novel, as the trials seem incessant, each more difficult than the last. As a result, readers become immediately invested in Fishkill’s story, sometimes unable to stop reading and sometimes unable to keep reading. To top it all off, the fact that Fishkill faces such a series of challenges at such a young age (the story takes place when she’s 12 and 13) adds further emotional charge to the story. (I can’t remember the last YA novel I read with a 12-to-13-year-old main character, but if Being Fishkill is any indication, I want more.)

But as often as Being Fishkill threatens to bring readers to tears, it promises to put a smile on their faces almost as frequently. I absolutely loved watching Fishkill form an awkward-yet-loving makeshift family with Duck-Duck and Molly, and I loved seeing her grapple with the bittersweet reality that, for the first time in her life, she has people actively involved in her well-being. (Seeing Fishkill react with wonderment when Molly advocates for her at school or feeds her healthy food certainly reminded me to appreciate my own family.)

While I adored Fishkill’s relationship with Molly, a top-tier fictional mother on par with the likes of Molly Weasley, what fascinated me most was Fishkill’s relationship with Duck-Duck, an aspiring lawyer who’s always ready to solve logic puzzles and sue her adversaries. From the moment they meet, their relationship is an electrically-charged friendship-and-somewhat/maybe/sort of-first-love—whether they’re making blood vows, navigating damaged trust when Duck-Duck falls in with the school’s cruel popular crowd, or exploring their sexuality (maybe even without realizing that’s what they're doing) by sharing a first kiss. The latter part of their relationship constitutes only a minor part of the plot, since the characters involved are only 12 and 13, but if you’re looking for YA and middle grade stories with characters who maybe aren’t straight, I’d highly recommend Being Fishkill. (On a related note, heads-up that this story features some homophobic slurs, so be prepared if that sort of thing bothers you.)

And through it all, we get to see the world through the eyes of Fishkill Carmel, one of the toughest, most vibrant, most endearing characters I’ve ever encountered. As the novel’s title implies, this story is ultimately a tale about being Fishkill: in the past, in the present, and in the future. Perhaps my favorite part of this novel is simply the protagonist herself—and the phenomenal, vivid way she tells her story and compels readers to care.

Being Fishkill is a stunning combination of so many elements I want to see more of in YA—characters with economic struggles, younger characters, explorations of family dynamics, and so much more. It tackles an array of issues but gives proper attention and care to each one, creating a multifaceted emotional roller coaster of a story. This story will make you cry and it will make you laugh—and most of all, it will make you fiercely care about its characters. Being Fishkill is one of the best books I’ve read all year, and I echo the promise in the last sentence of this book’s blurb; read this story, and you will, undeniably, be changed.  

Thursday, September 28, 2017

A Fun, Feminist, Eccentric Romp: Everything Must Go by Jenny Fran Davis

Everything Must Go by Jenny Fran Davis | Goodreads

Publisher: Wednesday Books
Release: October 3, 2017
Source: BEA 2017
Flora Goldwasser has fallen in love. She won't admit it to anyone, but something about Elijah Huck has pulled her under. When he tells her about the hippie Quaker school he attended in the Hudson Valley called Quare Academy, where he'll be teaching next year, Flora gives up her tony upper east side prep school for a life on a farm, hoping to woo him. A fish out of water, Flora stands out like a sore thumb in her vintage suits among the tattered tunics and ripped jeans of the rest of the student body. When Elijah doesn't show up, Flora must make the most of the situation and will ultimately learn more about herself than she ever thought possible.

Told in a series of letters, emails, journal entries and various ephemera, Flora's dramatic first year is laid out for all to see, embarrassing moments and all.
When I first heard about Everything Must Go—while frantically scouring publishers' ARC drop schedules at BookExpo—I knew I had to read it. The blurb promised a fun, frivolous story of failed first love, perfect for a summer read.

And that's exactly what I got. But I also got so much more.

Most importantly, I got an empowering feminist tale full of exponential character growth. Don't let this book's premise (girl uproots her life for the sake of a boy) lead you astray. Throughout the story, Flora truly comes into her own, growing as a character until the final chapter.

Once Flora arrives at Quare and realizes Elijah won't be joining her, the story veers in an unexpected direction—after a few months of moping, she slowly begins to integrate herself into her new school. She makes new friends, becomes nationally-known for a piece of performance art, and… well, you'll just have to read the book to hear more about her offbeat adventures. Meanwhile, she tries to strike the right balance between being the free-spirited, radically-socially-conscious artist Quare wants her to be and the high-achieving, vintage-shop-crawling girl she was in New York City.

This grappling between identities—quirky Quare artist, vintage city fashionista, girl with a major crush, independent woman—leads to several questions about how we portray ourselves in different social situations, how pieces of our personalities combine, and how we interact with others. These are questions that Flora grapples with through her art, and they're questions that are only complicated by the whirlwind of events that transpire during Flora's December and second semester. Most of all, they're questions that will have readers pondering right along with the protagonist.

Through it all, Flora's journal entries and letters—mixed with emails and notes submitted by secondary characters—sing with a deeply-endearing, full-of-heart voice. Flora can be a bit clueless at times, yes, but she's also funny, clever, and increasingly confident. Never afraid to bare her deepest, most messy emotions, she tells a true-to-life story that's sometimes a comedy of errors, sometimes a comedy of triumphs—and her words will make readers want to be her BFF. Flora is a (more socially- and self-aware) Georgia Nicolson for a new generation of YA readers, and I loved it.

What I loved by far the most about Everything Must Go, however, is its treatment of romance. Crushes—both requited and not—obviously play a major role in the story's plot, but romantic relationships are not treated as the endgame in any character's arc. Everyone, especially Flora, learns to be true to themselves before pairing off with a romantic partner, and plenty of characters end up happily single at the end of the story. Complete with impeccably-written friendships that remain entirely platonic, Everything Must Go is a refreshing reminder that not every YA character needs to have found a future spouse by the end of his or her novel.

From its unusual setting to its eccentric cast of characters, everything about Everything Must Go is vibrant, clever, and oh-so-memorable. I can't tell what I loved the most: Flora's character growth, her thought-provoking art, or her voice that captures the messy magic of growing up just as it captivates readers. Jenny Fran Davis's debut is a must-read for all fans of hilarious contemporaries, journal- and epistolary-style novels, or realistically fascinating teen characters. You need this fish-out-of-water book in your life—embarrassing moments, complicated relationships, creative art, and all. 

Monday, August 14, 2017

Anne of Avonlea Audiobook Tour: Excerpt and Giveaway

Good morning, everyone! Today, I'm thrilled to be participating in a blog tour (organized by the lovely Jess from The Audiobookworm) to promote newly-released Anne of Green Gables series audiobooks. I'll be posting an audio excerpt from Anne of Avonlea, the second book in the series, and a giveaway—but first, here's a bit of information about the audiobook: 

Author: L.M. Montgomery

Narrator: Colleen Winton

Length: 9 hours, 5 minutes

Publisher: Post Hypnotic Press

Series: Anne of Green Gables, book two



Following Anne of Green Gables (1908), this book covers the second chapter in the life of Anne Shirley. We learn of Anne's doings from the age of 16 to 18, during the two years that she teaches at Avonlea school. It includes many of the characters from Anne of Green Gables, as well as new ones: Mr. Harrison and his foul-mouthed parrot, Miss Lavendar Lewis, Paul Irving, and the twins Dora (sweet and well behaved) and Davy (mischievious and in constant trouble). Anne matures, slightly, but she gets into a number of her familiar pickles, as only Anne can: She accidentally sells her neighbor's cow (having mistaken it for her own), gets stuck in a broken duck house roof while peeping into a pantry window, and more.

buy links

AudiblePost Hypnotic Press
(Use the code Anne_VT17 to get 35% off downloads and CDs from Post Hypnotic Press)

author bio

Lucy Maud Montgomery OBE (November 30, 1874 – April 24, 1942) was a Canadian author best known Anne of Green Gables and the series of novels that book begins. The "Anne" of the books is Anne Shirley, an orphaned girl who comes to live with Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert on their farm, Green Gables. Published in 1908, the book was an immediate success in Canada, the United States and beyond. It has been adapted multiple times to screen, stage, radio, and TV.

Anne Shirley made Montgomery famous in her lifetime and gave her an international following. Anne of Green Gables was ranked number 41 in "The Big Read," a survey of the British public by BBC to determine the "nation's best-loved novel" (not children's novel!). And a survey conducted by School Library Journal (USA) in 2012 ranked Anne of Green Gables number nine among all-time children's novels.
Anne of Green Gables was followed by a series of sequels with Anne as the central character. Montgomery published 20 novels as well as 530 short stories, 500 poems, and 30 essays in her lifetime. Her work, diaries and letters have been read and studied by scholars and readers worldwide. Mostly set in Prince Edward Island and locations within Canada's smallest province, the books made PEI a literary landmark and popular tourist site. Montgomery was made an officer of the Order of the British Empire in 1935.
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest

narrator bio

Colleen is a Vancouver actor, singer, dancer, director and choreographer...and now a narrator. Her career has taken her all over the country and includes the Stratford, Shaw and Charlottetown Festivals, the original Canadian companies of CATS and Show Boat, extensive film/TV credits, and numerous directing/choreographing credits. Her stage work has been honoured with numerous nominations and a Jessie and Ovation award and she received a cultural award given by her local Chamber of Commerce. She was especially pleased to have recorded the works of L.M. Montgomery for Post Hypnotic Press just before she embarked on a production of the musical Anne of Green Gables at Theatre Calgary in which she plays Marilla Cuthbert.

audio excerpt


Anne of Green Gables Giveaway: Three Winners
Thanks for stopping by, and happy listening! For more content (and giveaway entries), make sure to check out the rest of the stops here

Friday, July 14, 2017

15 Books to Read While You're Waiting for Orange is the New Black Season Six

I recently finished Orange is the New Black season five (I know, it took me long enough), and I am SHOOK. After crying nonstop through the last episode, I emerged with two goals: dismantle the prison industrial complex, and read and recommend OITNB-esque books. And while I can’t quite complete the former, I can certainly complete the latter.

Here are 15 books you should read if you can’t stand the thought of waiting another year for season six—or if you want some excellent reads about prison, morality, drama, revolutions, guilt, and innocence.

The Walls Around Us // Ghostly, haunting, suspenseful, and enchantingly immersive, this book about three (wrongfully?) incarcerated teenagers is one of my all-time favorites.

The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly // After escaping a fundamentalist religious cult—a cult that chopped off her hands after she rebelled—Minnow must question everything she once believed while locked in a juvenile detention facility.

Dangerous Girls // Nothing is what it seems in this obsession-worthy murder mystery about friendship, the power of persona, and guilt versus innocence.

Seven Ways We Lie // Seven distinct, equally-enthralling voices intertwine in this novel about small town scandal and the ways we lie to ourselves and others.

Salt to the Sea // This book features four unforgettable narratives that intertwine majestically—and it includes some of the best supporting characters I’ve ever encountered.

One of Us is Lying // Five students walk into detention. One of them, a notorious gossip posed to release dark secrets about four of his classmates, never walks out.

Moxie // In this empowering novel, the protagonist sparks a series of nonviolent protests, fundraisers, and more to challenge her high school’s deeply sexist administration.

All American Boys // I know you’ve heard about this book, but seriously: if you haven’t read it yet, you need to change that ASAP.

Wildthorn // Imprisoned in an asylum and stripped of her identity, this book’s protagonist must grapple with horrifying treatment—all while holding on to her dream to become a doctor and wondering whether or not she is truly mad.

Tiny Pretty Things // Dance, diversity, and drama form the cornerstones of this story about ballerinas who will do whatever it takes to be the best.

The Female of the Species // This book asks a seemingly simple but deeply troubling question: how far is too far when it comes to standing up for people you love?

Conversion // An unusual ailment is sweeping the student body at St. Joan’s, a private academy in Danvers, MA. Could the cause be cutthroat academic competition? Or are more magical forces at work—the same forces that were instrumental in the Salem Witch trials centuries ago?

Dear Killer // This book spotlights a highly-trained moral nihilist whose after-school job is to assassinate by request. I’ll leave you with that.

The Devil You Know // One boy could be the protagonist’s next love; the other could be a murderer. The only problem? She’s on a road trip with both—and she doesn’t know which is which.

The Naturals series // In this brilliant series, four teenage protégés collaborate to solve FBI cold cases—but soon cold cases become active killers, and members of their own ranks may not be worthy of trust.

Do you watch Orange is the New Black? Are you as angry about the ending of season five as I am? And what books would you recommend to fans of the series? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter.