#ReadADessen | Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen Favorite Quote + Giveaway!

Title: Saint Anything
Author: Sarah Dessen
Pages: 417 pages
Release Date: May 5th, 2017
Genre:  Young Adult, Contemporary 
Peyton, Sydney's charismatic older brother, has always been the star of the family, receiving the lion's share of their parents' attention and—lately—concern. When Peyton's increasingly reckless behavior culminates in an accident, a drunk driving conviction, and a jail sentence, Sydney is cast adrift, searching for her place in the family and the world. When everyone else is so worried about Peyton, is she the only one concerned about the victim of the accident?

Enter the Chathams, a warm, chaotic family who run a pizza parlor, play bluegrass on weekends, and pitch in to care for their mother, who has multiple sclerosis. Here Sydney experiences unquestioning acceptance. And here she meets Mac, gentle, watchful, and protective, who makes Sydney feel seen, really seen, for the first time.

The uber-popular Sarah Dessen explores her signature themes of family, self-discovery, and change in her twelfth novel, sure to delight her legions of fans.

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Sarah Dessen's Saint Anything is riddled with quotes that I find inspirational and motivating. It's hard, when reading such a lengthy book, to choose just one that you think fits the entire theme of the book as well as catch the attention of any perspective readers. However, I think I did a pretty good job at choosing one that glorifies this book and extends an honest and truthful message. Some may take this quote as a damsel in distress seeking attention. The way I see it is that even those scary things may happen, we shouldn't run the other away and cower in an "invisible place". It's never wrong or cowardly for us to ask for someone else's help in a situation where the outlook may seem dim. 

What is your fave Sarah Dessen quote?


Enter for a chance to win one (1) set of Sarah Dessen’s books in paperback (ARV: $132.00).

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Enter between 12:00 AM Eastern Time on April 17, 2017 and 12:00 AM on May 29, 2017.  Open to residents of the fifty United States and the District of Columbia who are 13 and older. Winners will be selected at random on or about June 1, 2017. Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. Void where prohibited or restricted by law.

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BLOG TOUR | The One Memory of Flora Banks Guest Post + GIVEAWAY!

Title: Flora Banks
Author: Emily Barr
Pages: 303 pages
Release Date: May 2nd, 2017
Source: ARC from publisher
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Seventeen-year-old Flora Banks has no short-term memory. Her mind resets itself several times a day, and has since the age of ten, when the tumor that was removed from Flora's brain took with it her ability to make new memories. That is, until she kisses Drake, her best friend's boyfriend, the night before he leaves town. Miraculously, this one memory breaks through Flora's fractured mind, and sticks. Flora is convinced that Drake is responsible for restoring her memory and making her whole again. So when an encouraging email from Drake suggests she meet him on the other side of the world, Flora knows with certainty that this is the first step toward reclaiming her life.

With little more than the words "be brave" inked into her skin, and written reminders of who she is and why her memory is so limited, Flora sets off on an impossible journey to Svalbard, Norway, the land of the midnight sun, determined to find Drake. But from the moment she arrives in the arctic, nothing is quite as it seems, and Flora must "be brave" if she is ever to learn the truth about herself, and to make it safely home.

Get it now! 
Hey everyone! Today I have a special guest joining me today on my Flora Banks tour stop. It's the one and only Emily Barr, author of The One Memory of Flora Banks. I'm sure you've all seen this book floating around the blogosphere, but if it still hasn't piqued your interest then I'm hoping this post will. In books, I am captivated with the idea of memory loss. A lot of the books I have read that include characters that lose their memories have been thrillers or mystery books. I've never seen a contemporary one. I took this tour opportunity to ask the author Emily Barr about the research that was required to write about a character with anterograde amnesia and how she was able to capture this essence in a young adult book. Here is her answer. 

Research About Amnesia
by Emily Barr

It sounds so easy to write a book about amnesia. In fact I’d wanted to write one for ages but had held back because the ‘knock on the head/ can’t remember anything’ trope felt so clichéd and I didn’t know anyone in real life who’d had anything remotely like that happen to them. It felt as if fiction-amnesia was a whole different thing from real-amnesia.

I did, however, have experience of older people with dementia, losing their recent memories while remembering things from long ago. I remember, as a young child, visiting my grandfather who had Parkinson’s with the associated memory loss. It was incredibly distressing. I also knew people with younger family members who had experienced different kinds of memory loss and I could see that brains were complex, incredible things.

When I started writing The One Memory of Flora Banks I knew I had to do everything I could to get it right. I read books by Oliver Sacks (who is an absolute hero of mine: The Man Who Mistook his Wife for a Hat is a brilliant starting point for anyone writing about anything brain-related). I read anything I could find about anterograde amnesia. I got in touch with an old university friend who works in this field, and he sent me all kinds of reading material, and looked over my plans for Flora to tell me what was plausible and what wasn’t.

I went through the book again and again, doing everything I could to make it logical. Because Flora can remember things from before she was ten she has the basics about how things work: I have a ten year old of my own and she certainly know about charging phones and laptops and those kinds of daily-life things. However, I kept catching myself letting Flora remember things she shouldn’t have remembered. In fact, I’ve never written so many drafts of anything.

I am left with the overwhelming feeling that the human brain is a remarkable thing, that memory is not a static objective thing, but a weaving together of impressions of sights and smells and sounds and tastes, and the way things make us feel. We can forget things, and we can remember them, and we can remember them wrong. A tiny change in those mechanisms can make an enormous difference to a person’s life, and that is, in the end, going to happen to a lot of us.


Enter for a chance to win one (1) of five (5) copies of The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr (ARV: $17.99 each).

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Enter between 12:00 AM Eastern Time on May 1, 2017 and 12:00 AM on May 22, 2017.  Open to residents of the fifty United States and the District of Columbia who are 13 and older. Winners will be selected at random on or about May 24, 2017. Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. Void where prohibited or restricted by law.

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Emily Barr

Emily Barr (www.emilybarr.com) began her career as a journalist at the Guardian before realizing that she was drawn more toward books. After taking a year to go backpacking for a column assignment, she returned home with the idea for her first book, the New York Times bestseller Backpack, and never looked back. She has since written 11 additional books for adults. The One Memory of Flora Banks is her young adult debut. Emily lives in Cornwall with her partner and their children. You can follow her on Twitter @emily_barr.

BLOG TOUR: The Crown's Fate by Evelyn Skye | Review + Giveaway

Title: The Crown's Fate
Author: Evelyn Skye
Pages: 400 pages
Release Date: May 16th, 2017
Source: Arc from publisher
Genre: Historical Fiction, Fantasy, Young Adult
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
Russia is on the brink of great change. Pasha’s coronation approaches, and Vika is now the Imperial Enchanter, but the role she once coveted may be more difficult—and dangerous—than she ever expected.

Pasha is grappling with his own problems—his legitimacy is in doubt, the girl he loves loathes him, and he believes his best friend is dead. When a challenger to the throne emerges—and with the magic in Russia growing rapidly—Pasha must do whatever it takes to keep his position and protect his kingdom.

For Nikolai, the ending of the Crown’s Game stung deeply. Although he just managed to escape death, Nikolai remains alone, a shadow hidden in a not-quite-real world of his own creation. But when he’s given a second chance at life—tied to a dark price—Nikolai must decide just how far he’s willing to go to return to the world.

With revolution on the rise, dangerous new magic rearing up, and a tsardom up for the taking, Vika, Nikolai, and Pasha must fight—or face the destruction of not only their world but also themselves.

Get it now!
**WARNING: This review may contain spoilers for the first book in The Crown's Game series. Please read with caution** 

I was wondering how Evelyn Skye was going to make this second installment as epic as the first one. Although I didn't like this one as much as its predecessor, it sure did not disappoint.

Book two starts with where left off in book one- Nikolai is dead, Vika is crowned Imperial Enchanter of Russia and Pasha is reeling over the death of his brother and best friend. As a rare case, I didn't have to reread book one to immediately jump into the second installment when I received it. A part of that is due to just how memorable the first book was, with its lavish descriptions of magic and scrumptious foods and delicacies.

Not only does book two delved into more of the realm of dark magic, but it also takes on a really dark tone. Often times, while reading TCF, I thought it was an entirely different author writing. From the facial expressions of the characters to the new elements of magic that are introduced into this world, the second book is definitely a lot darker than the first. For me, I preferred this malevolent twist in the characters' voices and really enjoyed the author's ability to keep her readers surprised. What other surprises have you got up your sleeve, Ms. Skye?

As with the first book, incredible magic is displayed. Skye has a knack for describing enchantments and magic without seeming cheesy or unbelievable. All the magic is incredibly inventive and played with the forces of good and evil. Where in this book, (FINALLYYY) we get two opposing forces of good magic and bad magic. Dark magic is introduced and with it, a new antagonist. I really liked the route the author took with this story, considering she had to make up for that ending of book one (amirite?).

I am at a loss for words when it comes to Skye's world-building and imagery. Just like in book one, there are mouth-watering descriptions of traditional Russian treats and meals. It was all incredibly exhilarating to read (considering that I read the book at midnight, so my stomach was always very unhappy with me).

Evelyn Skye

Evelyn Skye was once offered a job by the C.I.A., she not-so-secretly wishes she was on "So You Think You Can Dance," and if you challenge her to a pizza-eating contest, she guarantees she will win. When she isn't writing, Evelyn can be found chasing her daughter on the playground or sitting on the couch, immersed in a good book and eating way too many cookies. THE CROWN'S GAME is her first novel. Evelyn can be found online at www.evelynskye.com and on Twitter @EvelynSkyeYA.

Author Links: 


Author Lee Bantle Talks LGBTQIA+ Today Vs. In the 1970's | Guest Post

Title: David Inside Out
Author: Lee Bantle
Pages: 193 pages
Release Date: September 13th, 2016
Source: Henry Holt and Co.
Genre: Young Adult, Glbt, Realistic Fiction
David Dahlgren, a high-school senior, finds solace in running with the track team; he's a fast runner, and he enjoys the camaraderie. But team events become a source of tension when he develops a crush on one of his teammates, Sean. Scared to admit his feelings, David does everything he can to suppress them: he dates a girl, keeps his distance from his best friend who has become openly gay, and snaps a rubber band on his wrist every time he has "inappropriate" urges. Before long, Sean expresses the thoughts David has been trying to hide, and everything changes for the better. Or so it seems.

In this thoughtful yet searing coming-of-age novel, Lee Bantle offers a raw, honest, and incredibly compelling account of a teenager who learns to accept himself for who he is.

Buy it now! 
I'm especially excited to welcome a very special guest to my blog today! It's rare that I ever get the chance to talk to authors and ask some of my burning questions. Now before I let you go to read the post he wrote, I want to disclaim that I haven't read the book myself. I simply asked a question based off of all the reviews I had read. A lot of people mentioned that this book takes place when the GSA did not exist, and I thought that was pretty interesting. Interesting because I couldn't imagine living in a world without the GSA at my school. So I asked Mr. Bantle about what his experiences as a closeted teen in his time and coming out were like
compared to what it would be like to be an LGBTQIA+ teen today. Here was his answer:

Coming Out In the 1970's vs. Coming Out Today  
by Lee Bantle 

            David Inside Out is a contemporary novel about a teenage boy struggling to come to terms with his gay identity.   Am I David?   No.  I was born many decades before David at a time when gays and lesbians were not open or accepted.  Gay/Straight Alliances did not exist.  The many shows with gay characters did not play on television.  The LGBT community was in its infancy.

            Yet, David’s internal struggle was informed by my experiences.  I was terrified at what I thought would be the consequences of being gay:  Social suicide.  Parental condemnation.  A life of loneliness. So, I tried hard to change my orientation.

            In the book, David snaps a rubber band on his wrist when he feels “inappropriate” urges, reads manly magazines and pursues a relationship with a girl.  When I was his age, I went even further by undergoing weekly “therapy” in order to become straight.  This was my own choice, done in secret.  Of course, it didn’t work.  The only positive outcome was that the failed attempt gave me the freedom to pursue self-acceptance.           
            While it’s a much different world today than when I was growing up, for many the internal struggle still exists.  I wanted to write a book that dealt with the deep challenge that coming out and accepting one’s gay identity can be.  The book does not speak for everyone.  Thankfully, these days many teens are comfortable embracing their LGBT identity.  But the book does speak for some.  I know because I have gotten so many letters from readers telling me how much they identified with David, that the book described what they are going through. 

            When David comes out to his mother, he finds unconditional love.  I wanted to show that this was possible and, I think, this is much more the norm these days.  When I came out to my parents (during college), they sent me to the Mayo Clinic to see if I could be changed. (No matter that the earlier therapy had been a bust.)  Fortunately, I saw a great shrink who wrote my parents a letter saying that if they tried to change me they would lose all the things that were special about me.   This put an end to the nonsense about “changing” my sexual orientation.  I have always worn as a badge of pride that I am probably one of the few people in the United States who has been certified as gay by the Mayo Clinic.            

            I did not have a Sean in my life.  He is a composite character with traits drawn from various men I liked who could not handle being gay (and some of whom were comfortable having sex during the act, but freaked out afterward.).  I see Sean as a cautionary tale. Many readers have expressed to me how much they loathed him.  But I have some sympathy for him.  He is making all the wrong choices, and yet I know what he is up against.

             I think the protagonists in most novels are partly the author.  While writing, as we try to imagine what our characters think and feel, we necessarily draw on our own experiences.

            The learning that I hope my readers will draw from the book is to follow their hearts.  If that leads to same sex partners, embrace them.  Massage them. Send them love poems.   Don’t be afraid to be your authentic self.  That is all we’ve got in this world.

Lee Bantle
I live in Park Slope, Brooklyn in a sunny apartment where I do my writing. I set David Inside Out in Minneapolis, Minnesota where I grew up and went to college.

David Inside Out is based in part on my experiences growing up gay in Minnesota before the age of Gay/Straight Alliances, television shows like Will & Grace, and books like the one I have written. My goal in writing this book was to capture the evolving dynamics in play today while giving voice to the complicated feelings that still accompany coming to terms with one's sexual identity. I wrote the book for gay teens who are struggling with their sexual identity, but also for the girls who may date and fall in love with these guys. I also hoped to tell a good coming of age story that would appeal to everyone, no matter what their sexual orientation.

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