Review: Under the Lights (Daylight Falls #2) by Dahlia Adler

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Book Title: Under the Lights
Author: Dahlia Adler
Published Date: June 30th, 2015
Publisher: Spencer Hill Contemporary
Genre: YA LGBT
Series: Book 2 in Daylight Falls series
Book Link: Goodreads
Purchase Links: AmazonBarnes & NobleThe Book Depository

Synopsis from Goodreads
Josh Chester loves being a Hollywood bad boy, coasting on his good looks, his parties, his parents’ wealth, and the occasional modeling gig. But his laid-back lifestyle is about to change. To help out his best friend, Liam, he joins his hit teen TV show,Daylight Falls … opposite Vanessa Park, the one actor immune to his charms. (Not that he’s trying to charm her, of course.) Meanwhile, his drama-queen mother blackmails him into a new family reality TV show, with Josh in the starring role. Now that he’s in the spotlight—on everyone’s terms but his own—Josh has to decide whether a life as a superstar is the one he really wants.

Vanessa Park has always been certain about her path as an actor, despite her parents’ disapproval. But with all her relationships currently in upheaval, she’s painfully uncertain about everything else. When she meets her new career handler, Brianna, Van is relieved to have found someone she can rely on, now that her BFF, Ally, is at college across the country. But as feelings unexpectedly evolve beyond friendship, Van’s life reaches a whole new level of confusing. And she’ll have to choose between the one thing she’s always loved … and the person she never imagined she could.

Disclaimer: I received this book as an e-ARC from Spencer Hill Contemporary via Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

Review
I don’t know why it took me so long to read this book. If someone wants to figure that out for me, that’d be awesome. This book was utter perfection. Not only was the romance swoon worthy and sexy, but the friendships in here were absolutely awesome as well. Not to mention the diversity.

Josh was a royal pain in the ass initially. He drove me batcrap insane, but at the same time, he’d have me laughing so hard I couldn’t breathe. He had the combination of humor and douche-canoe down pat. At the same time, I loved the friendship that developed between him and Vanessa. We don’t see enough opposite sex friendships in books and that really bugs me. It is possible for a girl & a guy to be friends and I really hate the implication that men & women cannot be friends without there being a ulterior motive.

Vanessa is involved with a boy named Zander. This boy wants things that Vanessa doesn’t want. He wants her to focus on him, and the future with him. He wants that future to include a purity pledge. That’s not what Vanessa really wants and she struggles with that and what that means. He is also intimidated by Josh, yes crude, rude pain in the ass, Josh. He’s convinced that Vanessa is stepping out on him.

Well technically it’s not Josh, Zander should be worried about. It’s Brianna. Brianna who is initially Vanessa’s stand in for Ally, Vanessa’s best friend. Brianna who quickly becomes Vanessa’s confidant and good friend. Brianna talks to Vanessa about the whole purity pledge thing

“You really don’t want to have sex until you’re married?”
“What if I don’t?”
“Then I respect that. If it’s really what you want. Is it?”

First of all, I absolutely LOVE Brianna. Not only does she support a person’s right to wait until marriage to have sex, but she verbalizes that viewpoint. Not very many people would voice that. And that is sad & so depressing. If someone wants to wait to be married to have sex, that’s their choice. Even though Brianna didn’t believe Vanessa, she still respected Vanessa’s choices. That’s important in both a friendship & a relationship.

“I just kissed my first girl. And yeah, I think I might be…”
“Gay?”
“Maybe. Or maybe I’m bisexual. What if I am?”
“What if you are? Like boys all you want Park. It still won’t fix this. I’m bi and I promise you it’s not a fucking light switch. You can’t just set it on ‘boy’ because it’s inconvenient that you like a girl right now. Widening your options doesn’t change the feelings you have.”

This stuck with me for many different reasons, most of them being because it took me four years to admit to anyone that I was bisexual. I struggled with feeling like I had to flip a switch and make sure it stayed on “boy” because it was inconvenient for me to like a girl. I totally related to Vanessa because of this. I remember feeling the same things that she felt.

The sex scene was steamy and sexy and so perfect. I absolutely loved it. There are virtually no LGBT sex scenes in YA, so I was super excited to see Bri & Van get it on and for it not to fade to black like so many other YA’s do. I was so, SO thrilled. I am very pro-sex in my YA and in some ways, even more in the subgenre of YA LGBT because there is such a lack of full on sexy scenes that don’t fade to black.

Van then has to go through the tough process of coming out. Coming out to her friends, her fans & to her family. Josh and Ally handle it perfectly and Josh’s response made me cry.

“So you’re a lesbian K-drama, not an axe murderer. Why do you say that like it’s the most horrible confession on earth?”
“Because it may as well be, and you know it!”

Van handles this whole thing better than I ever could. Especially given the fact that she lives in the public eye. She tells her parents. Her super conservative, Korean parents, and thankfully, she had her friends & Bri to console her when things become rough. I couldn’t help but remember how rough it was for me when I came out. Especially how rough things were between my Catholic relatives and myself. Things are better now, but it took a really long time. So reading about Van’s struggles with her family, really hit home for me.

This book and the friendships and the romance was utter perfection and I cannot recommend this book enough. Adler is amazing, and she captured so many of my thoughts and made them come out of Van. If you need a diverse read with a couple you can root for, then you need to pick up this book.

Blog Tour: Thicker Than Water by Brigid Kemmerer

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Thicker Than Water
by Brigid Kemmerer
Release Date: December 29th 2015
Kensington Books

Summary from Goodreads:
On his own
Thomas Bellweather hasn’t been in town long. Just long enough for his newlywed mother to be murdered, and for his new stepdad’s cop colleagues to decide Thomas is the primary suspect.

Not that there’s any evidence. But before Thomas got to Garretts Mill there had just been one other murder in twenty years.

The only person who believes him is Charlotte Rooker, little sister to three cops and, with her soft hands and sweet curves, straight-up dangerous to Thomas. Her best friend was the other murder vic. And she’d like a couple answers.

Answers that could get them both killed, and reveal a truth Thomas would die to keep hidden…

Add to Goodreads
Buy Links: AmazonBarnes and NobleGoogle Play

Review
I didn’t know much about this book before I sat down to read it. I felt like it had promise and it had so much potential to be awesome. I also tried to avoid other early reviews of this book because I really didn’t want my reading experience to be tainted.

So I dove into this book with an acceptable amount of anticipation and, at first, I was disappointed with it and contemplated DNFing it. I just could not get into it because the pacing was so slow and some of the characters frustrated me. But I wanted this book to be awesome and I could see the potential in the main characters, Charlotte & Tommy.

So I kept reading and it kept getting better. I am SO happy that it improved because it ended up being a captivating read that kept me guessing all the way through.

I know a lot of people had issues with Charlotte and I get why, but I actually really liked her. Yes her family was crazy overprotective and that would have driven me nuts. Given what had happened many years ago to Charlotte’s classmate, I couldn’t totally blame them. She was also very passive and didn’t stand up for herself. That was definitely something that bothered me. But it’s the kind of thing that ALWAYS bothers me about girls (and guys) who are passive & don’t stand up for themselves. Charlotte had a great character arc, so I was able to get over her passivity & pushover-ness.

Tommy’s arc went places I was never expecting it to. I did love the relationship between him and his stepdad and how that unraveled throughout the book. I felt like that was done really well and I was really happy. I was very annoyed with how he was treated initially by the police, investigators etc. That was almost enough to get me to DNF the book, but like I said before, I am really glad I stuck with this book.

I want to talk about more of the book, but I’m not going to spoil things. So all I’ll say, is you need to read this book. It had twists & turns & even some utter mind-fuckery. I am giving this book 4 stars, mostly because of the slow start to this book and the crappy way Tommy was treated by law enforcement.

About the Author
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Brigid Kemmerer was born in Omaha, Nebraska, though her parents quickly moved her all over the United States, from the desert in Albuquerque, New Mexico, to the lakeside in Cleveland, Ohio, and several stops in between, eventually settling near Annapolis, Maryland. Brigid started writing in high school, and her first real “novel” was about four vampire brothers causing a ruckus in the suburbs. Those four brothers are the same boys living in the pages of The Elemental Series, so Brigid likes to say she’s had four teenage boys taking up space in her head for the last seventeen years. (Though sometimes that just makes her sound nuts.)

Brigid writes anywhere she can find a place to sit down (and she’s embarrassed to say a great many pages of The Elemental Series were written while sitting on the floor in the basement of a hotel while she was attending a writers’ conference). Most writers enjoy peace and quiet while writing, but Brigid prefers pandemonium. A good thing, considering she has three boys in the house, ranging in age from an infant to a teenager.

While writing STORM, it’s ironic to note that Brigid’s personal life was plagued by water problems: her basement flooded three times, her roof leaked, her kitchen faucet broke, causing the cabinet underneath to be destroyed by water, the wall in her son’s room had to be torn down because water had crept into the wall, and her bedroom wall recently developed a minor leak. Considering SPARK, book 2 in the series, is about the brother who controls fire, Brigid is currently making sure all the smoke detectors in her house have batteries.

Brigid loves hearing from people, and she probably won’t refer to herself in the third person like this if you actually correspond with her. She has a smartphone surgically attached to her person nearby at all times, and email is the best way to reach her. Her email address is brigidmary@gmail.com.

Author Links:
WebsiteGoodreadsTwitterFacebook

Giveaway
Giveaway Link

Book Tour Organized by:
YA Bound Book Tours

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SST: The Love That Split The World by Emily Henry

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Synopsis (GR):
Natalie Cleary must risk her future and leap blindly into a vast unknown for the chance to build a new world with the boy she loves.

Natalie’s last summer in her small Kentucky hometown is off to a magical start…until she starts seeing the “wrong things.” They’re just momentary glimpses at first—her front door is red instead of its usual green, there’s a pre-school where the garden store should be. But then her whole town disappears for hours, fading away into rolling hills and grazing buffalo, and Nat knows something isn’t right.

That’s when she gets a visit from the kind but mysterious apparition she calls “Grandmother,” who tells her: “You have three months to save him.” The next night, under the stadium lights of the high school football field, she meets a beautiful boy named Beau, and it’s as if time just stops and nothing exists. Nothing, except Natalie and Beau.

Emily Henry’s stunning debut novel is Friday Night Lights meets The Time Traveler’s Wife, and perfectly captures those bittersweet months after high school, when we dream not only of the future, but of all the roads and paths we’ve left untaken.

Review
Guys, if this book is ANY indication of how awesome 2016 releases are gonna be, it’s going to be a GREAT year for books. Not so much for my wallet though.

Now the synopsis hints at something being “off” but I had no idea that it was a time travel book until I started reading. Come to think of it, I don’t think I even really read the synopsis before I started reading. I was thrilled that it was a time travel book because time travel is one of the most fascinating things to me in the world.

Natalie was instantly likeable to me and that doesn’t always happen. Sometimes it takes me awhile to warm up to the main character. But not this time. I also really liked Grandmother, I found her to be fascinating and when Natalie would recount her stories, I found myself excited to keep reading. Normally having a character recount someone else’s stories would bore me, but not this time. Not with Natalie and Grandmother.

I loved that Natalie was adopted and that she was Native American. We don’t get a lot of Native American representation in YA, so this was really awesome to see. YAY for diversity! We definitely need more Native American representation in YA.

I was also worried that this book would focus “too much” on the romance aspect and that would ruin the book for me. I’m not one for the fluffy stuff. Yes this book had a lot of romance in it, but the time travel aspect of it made it much better. It was more compelling and I found myself excited to read and that’s a feeling I haven’t had lately.

I did like the romance between Natalie & Beau, but I didn’t love it. I know several people who mentioned the romance seemed a little insta-lovey. I didn’t see that, but I also felt like Beau’s development wasn’t as strong as it could have been. There were times that he seemed a bit bland to me. He was infinitely better than Natalie’s ex, Matt.

Matt was a piece of crap. Not only did he get physically rough with Natalie, but he also attempted to rape her. We later find out that he has issues, but that’s no excuse for the abhorrent way he treated Natalie.

Alice Chan was one of the side characters who was attempting to help Natalie figure everything out. I loved Alice. She was very fascinating and I found myself hanging on to her every word as she worked to uncover the reason behind Grandmother’s appearances and the reason behind Natalie slipping through time.

The writing was utterly gorgeous and I think that was one of the reasons I fell head over heels for this book.The writing helped pull me into the world that Henry created. The writing  actually made me want to STAY in this world. Well that and the cover. The cover is unique, eye catching and all around perfection. Whoever designed this cover is a freaking GENIUS.

Highly recommend this book. Pre-order it now.

About the Author:
Emily Henry is full-time writer, proofreader, and donut connoisseur. She studied creative writing at Hope College and the New York Center for Art & Media Studies, and now spends most of her time in Cincinnati, Ohio, and the part of Kentucky just beneath it. She tweets @EmilyHenryWrite.

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Review: Firsts by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn

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Book Title: Firsts
Author: Laurie Elizabeth Flynn
Published Date: January 5th, 2016
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Genre: YA Contemporary
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Book Link: Goodreads
Purchase Links: AmazonBarnes & NobleThe Book Depository

Synopsis from Goodreads
Seventeen-year-old Mercedes Ayres has an open-door policy when it comes to her bedroom, but only if the guy fulfills a specific criteria: he has to be a virgin. Mercedes lets the boys get their awkward, fumbling first times over with, and all she asks in return is that they give their girlfriends the perfect first time- the kind Mercedes never had herself.

Keeping what goes on in her bedroom a secret has been easy- so far. Her absentee mother isn’t home nearly enough to know about Mercedes’ extracurricular activities, and her uber-religious best friend, Angela, won’t even say the word “sex” until she gets married. But Mercedes doesn’t bank on Angela’s boyfriend finding out about her services and wanting a turn- or on Zach, who likes her for who she is instead of what she can do in bed.

When Mercedes’ perfect system falls apart, she has to find a way to salvage her reputation and figure out where her heart really belongs in the process. Funny, smart, and true-to-life, FIRSTS is a one-of-a-kind young adult novel about growing up.

Disclaimer: I received an e-ARC of this book from St. Martin’s Griffin via NetGalley.

Review
I think I underestimated the book and it’s importance. Because it is such an important book. It tackles friendships, sexuality and the infuriating truth that are double standards.

Mercedes is not going to be everyone’s cup of tea, and that’s totally fine. People aren’t going to be okay with the fact that she basically helped these guys cheat on their girlfriends. As someone who has experience with cheating boyfriends, it took me a little while to get my head wrapped around Mercedes’ idea. It was a little uncomfortable to me for awhile, but I pushed through the discomfort because I was so insanely excited for this book.

I was really excited to see strong female friendships, not so much with Mercedes & her friend Angela, but with Mercedes and the new girl, Faye. I actually took to Faye immediately and even though I could tell Mercedes really didn’t want to let anyone else into her life, I was hoping she’d let Faye in. What I wasn’t expecting was the Mercedes/Faye flirtation throughout the book, but oh my god, did I love that.

Tonight was weird. Maybe I’m reading too much into it. This could very well be what regular teenagers do every day. But something was weird. I felt wanted.

What this book also did was explore the rage-inducing double standards that teen girls still experience today. Boys are applauded for having sex, girls are criticized for having sex. Boys are studs and girls are sluts. How does that make any sense? It’s no longer the 1950’s. Big surprise, even girls like sex.

I wasn’t sure how to feel about Angela’s boyfriend Charlie. Alarm bells related to him didn’t go off for a long time. But when they did, they rang like the church bells in The Sound of Music. I started getting a knot in my stomach around 70% through the book, and the knot did not go away through the rest of the book.

I’m torn on the romance aspect. On one hand, I really liked Zach and I loved how good he was to Mercedes. She really needed that. At the same time, I almost feel like the thing with Zach weakened the book for me. Like they were better friends than a couple. I think I’m the only one to feel like this though.

Yes, Mercedes had character flaws, but I think that’s what made me adore her even more. She was flawed, and awesome and I saw quite a bit of myself in her, and that surprised me. I didn’t expect to relate to her, but I did.

“…Nothing you do will make him leave, no matter how many times you push him away. And you’ll never have to be afraid of him.”

This book is so important to all teenagers, both boys and girls. I totally recommend this book to teenagers and adults alike. Give it a shot, it may surprise you like it surprised me.

Blog Tour: This Raging Light by Estelle Laure

This Raging Light Blog Tour

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About the Book:
Title: THIS RAGING LIGHT
Author: Estelle Laure
Release Date: December 22nd, 2015
Pages: 288
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Formats: Hardcover, eBook, audiobook
Find it: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks

“A funny, poetic, big-hearted reminder that life can—and will—take us all by surprise.” —Jennifer E. Smith, The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight

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.

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About Estelle:
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Estelle Laure is a Vonnegut worshipper who believes in love and magic and the power of facing hard truths. She has a BA in Theater Arts from New Mexico State University and an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts, and thinks everyone should have to wait tables or work in a kitchen at least once in their lives. She lives in Taos, New Mexico with her children.

Website | Twitter |Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram

Giveaway
3 winners will receive a hardcover of THIS RAGING LIGHT and a bottle of Essie Nail Polish that matched the book cover. US Only.
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Giveaway Link


Tour Schedule:
Week One:
1/4/2016- The Cover Contessa– Interview
1/5/2016- Just Commonly Review
1/6/2016- Fire and Ice– Guest Post
1/7/2016- Adventures in Reading– Spotlight
1/8/2016- Once Upon A Twilight– Review

Week Two:
1/11/2016- Curling Up With A Good Book Interview
1/12/2016- The Candid Cover Review
1/13/2016- BookHounds YA– Guest Post
1/14/2016- Book Briefs– Review
1/15/2016- Such a Novel Idea– Interview

Review: This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp

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Book Title: This Is Where It Ends
Author: Marieke Nijkamp
Published Date: January 5th, 2016
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Genre: YA Contemporary
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Book Link: Goodreads
Purchase Links: AmazonBarnes & NobleThe Book Depository

Synopsis from Goodreads
10:00 a.m.
The principal of Opportunity, Alabama’s high school finishes her speech, welcoming the entire student body to a new semester and encouraging them to excel and achieve.

10:02 a.m.
The students get up to leave the auditorium for their next class.

10:03
The auditorium doors won’t open.

10:05
Someone starts shooting.

Told over the span of 54 harrowing minutes from four different perspectives, terror reigns as one student’s calculated revenge turns into the ultimate game of survival.

Disclaimer: I received this book as an e-ARC from Sourcebooks Fire via NetGalley

Review
Nothing I can say will ever do this beautiful book justice in my mind. I mean, WOW. What an incredibly gorgeous, yet heartbreaking book this was. I wasn’t sure what to expect, wasn’t sure I’d love this book as much as I wanted to, but at about 12% of the way through, the tears started falling and they never let up. I think part of the emotion was because this has happened so many times in the US. School shootings are not as rare as they once were.

I was also worried that I wouldn’t be able to keep the 4 different POV’s in my head. I wouldn’t be able to differentiate all four voices. Thankfully, it only took me a little while to get accustomed to them and before I knew it, I had no problem telling each of the voices apart. Claire, Tomas, Sylvia & Autumn each have a connection to the shooter, though the connections aren’t immediately apparent. The different connections they had to the shooter are revealed early on, for which I was grateful.

I cannot say enough about the diversity in this book. In some ways, I think the diversity within the characters was my favorite part. There were characters of different ethnic backgrounds, different family systems, and perhaps my favorite thing, main characters who were lesbian. I did not expect the LGBT aspect of the book, so to see that unfold really excited me, and in some ways, made me sob even more.

This book was very character driven and for a short book, these characters were very well developed. That was one of my concerns with this book, given the length. I was nervous these characters wouldn’t be fleshed out well, but they were.

The pace was quick, but in a book like this I wasn’t bothered by it. A whole lot of stuff needed to be packed into 54 minutes and it felt real to me. I felt the panic. I felt the terror and I felt sadness. I didn’t know it was possible to feel all of these things from a book, and I’ve been reading since I was four.

This book was the kind of book that sticks with you hours, even days after you’ve finished it. I love these type of books. The tough subjects, the books that bring the feels and this book was no different. Marieke Nijkamp’s debut is a stunning book that broke my heart from the beginning.

Blog Tour: The Urban Boys by K. N. Smith

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About the Book:
The Urban Boys: Discovery of the Five Senses by K.N. Smith
Genre/ Age Group: Young Adult Fiction (Action-Adventure w/ elements of Paranormal), 12+
Amazonhttp://www.amazon.com/Urban-Boys-Discovery-Five-Senses/dp/0989474755/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8
Barnes & Noblehttp://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-urban-boys-kn-smith/1122739135?ean=9780989474757
Apple iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/urban-boys-discovery-five/id1045819157?mt=11
Goodreadshttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/26850355-the-urban-boys
Synopsis
The Urban Boys: Discovery of the Five Senses is an action-adventure story about five teen boys who are mysteriously exposed to a foreign energy source that gives them extremely heightened senses. Sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell become hypersensitive gifts that forever change the world. The story offers young and mature readers central themes of loyalty, responsibility, honesty, fear, and triumph, which become artfully integrated with cinematic-level action and high drama. The story twists, turns, and grinds through elements of paranormal and action-adventure in a diverse, exciting, edge-of-your-seat narrative.

Overview: The story’s small town of Danville Heights, a carefully crafted universe, contrasts with the dark, gloomy town of Sandry Lake, where evil abounds. Upon the boys’ mysterious incident with the energy source, they’re instinctively called to Sandry Lake to root out evil. Their senses guide them each time. However, secrecy about their mission, furious battles with evil thugs, extreme fatigue, and stress and pressure soon overwhelm the boys, but they must find a way to embrace their fate. A lurking, Dark Stranger seems to know their plight, and a strikingly beautiful, fearless girl lends way to heightened confusion. Shocking details about these two characters, and the evil antagonist, the dreaded Druth, twist and grind the story even further. Despite tension and fierce battles, will the boys hold it together long enough to fulfill their destiny? Intriguing, intelligent, and full of action, The Urban Boys: Discovery of the Five Senses offers a memorable, emotion-packed, thrilling ride for young and mature readers alike!


Ten Things You Didn’t Know About K.N. Smith
1.      She’s an avid home gardener. Remember Sandy’s garden from The Urban Boys: Discovery of the Five Senses? Well, that’s all K.N. Smith, who learned gardening from her (late) grandmother and her older sister.

2.     She makes homemade ice cream. Cookies and cream is a household favorite, but grapefruit sorbet, strawberry, and rocky road are close seconds!

3.   She wanted to be an English teacher when she grew up. She never got there, however, communications and writing are pretty closely related.

4.  She owns an award-winning marketing communications firm in addition to being an author.

5.  She has two lovely daughters, both taller than her, and a super-husband who really knows football.

6.  She has only been to a nail shop once, around age 16. She found it too expensive so she’s been doing her own nails forever.

7.  Her favorite part of her post 6:00 a.m. workout is the steam room at the gym.

8.  She’s pretty good at a game of pool!

9.  She’s an Amtrak fan and travels by train instead of plane when possible.

10.  She also has graphic design skills and personally designs The Urban Boys collaterals (except for the book covers).

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About the Author:
K.N. Smith is an American author and passionate advocate of childhood and family literacy programs throughout the world. She continues to inspire students of all ages to reach their highest potential in their literary and educational pursuits. An established non-fiction writer, Smith chose the teen fiction genre as a way to enhance her daughters’ (then) high school literary experience, and to engage other youth in literacy development.

Her creative literary flair offers young and mature readers central themes of loyalty, responsibility, honesty, fear, and triumph. As a result, scenes become artfully integrated with cinematic-level action and high drama. Her stories twist, turn, and grind through elements of science-fiction and action-adventure in diverse, exciting, edge-of-your-seat narratives. As an ardent supporter of youth and family literacy programs across the globe, she states, “My hope is that The Urban Boys will spark imagination in a wide variety of readers while elevating global literacy efforts. It’s important that we have diverse families of readers for generations to come.” K.N. Smith has over twenty years experience in writing, communications, and creative design. She lives with her family in California.

Giveaway Link
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SST: The Possibility of Now by Kim Culbertson

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Book Link: Goodreads

Synopsis
Kim Culbertson is back with another fantastic new novel about what happens when you’ve been planning for the future, but everything falls apart now.

Mara James has always been a perfectionist with a plan. But despite years of overachieving at her elite school, Mara didn’t plan on having a total meltdown during her calculus exam. Like a rip-up-the-test-and-walk-out kind of meltdown. And she didn’t plan on a video of it going viral. And she definitely didn’t plan on never wanting to show her face again.

Mara knows she should go back, but suddenly she doesn’t know why she’s been overachieving all these years. Impulsively, she tells her mom she wants to go live with her estranged dad in Tahoe. Maybe in a place like Tahoe, where people go to get away from everyday life, and wiht a dad like Trick McHale, a ski bum avoiding the real world, Mara can figure things out.

Only Tahoe is nothing like she thought. There are awesome new friends and hot boys and a chance to finally get to know Trick, but there are also still massive amounts of schoolwork. Can Mara stopping planning long enough to see the life that’s happening right now?

Guest Post
Inspiration is a tricky thing to pin down but, as I’ve spent the last eighteen years teaching high school, I know that much of my inspiration comes from my students. In my first novel, SONGS FOR A TEENAGE NOMAD, Calle has moved fourteen times in eight years so she keeps a song journal as her only constant. When she hears a song that reminds her of a time in her past, she writes down the memory that comes from hearing that specific song. My students are passionate about their music and this idea came from watching them work on a school project I’d given them to create a soundtrack for a book we’d read. My students have inspired parts of all my novels. I took sixteen students to Italy for a spring break and INSTRUCTIONS FOR A BROKEN HEART grew out of that experience. I overheard a conversation with two of my students about fame and that became the spark of an idea for CATCH A FALLING STAR.

In my newest novel, THE POSSIBILITY OF NOW, the inspiration came from watching many of my students wrestle with stress and anxiety about their futures. I’ve seen them struggle to balance their emotional, social and family lives with the pressure of individually achieving for a future they’ve been told they want. I spent ten years as a college advisor and each year it felt like the process got even more intense. I’ve long thought that too much of our educational (and extracurricular) culture relies on external reward, high-pressure comparison, and the idea that young people should be certain about their futures before they truly know who they are or what they want. I’ve also watched the way online culture has impacted my students and wondered about the correlation to the rise in teen anxiety. THE POSSIBILITY OF NOW explores these themes against the backdrop of Tahoe, a place I often go to unwind, but that also has its own complex, specific culture.

Mostly, though, I’m inspired to write because it helps me to answer questions I have about human behavior. I’m fascinated by what makes us all tick. Ultimately, in all of my writing, I want to find hopeful, honest answers to my questions. Writing novels has been the window into some answers for me.

About the Author:
Kim Culbertson is the author of Catch a Falling Star; Instructions for a Broken Heart, a Northern California Book Award winner; and Songs for a Teenage Nomad. When she’s not writing young adult novels, she teaches high school creative writing. Kim lives with her husband and their daughter in Northern California. For more about Kim, visit http://www.kimculbertson.com.

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