World's Oldest Fledgling

The blog of Stephanie Wardrop, Y A Author

Boy Band Bonanza in this New YA

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I’ve been working on a boy band book for awhile, so when I heard about Nikki Godwin’s American Girl on Saturn, I knew I had to check it out.

Image  It’s about a girl whose father works security and has to protect a boy band by having them move into the family apartment for a summer. I’m pretty sure my daughter would be willing to share her room for One Direction, so this seems like a can’t-miss concept.

Here’s the official blurb:

The summer after graduation is supposed to be that first real taste of freedom – but not for eighteen-year-old Chloe Branson. Just as that breeze of freedom is making its way into her galaxy, her secret-service-agent dad drops a meteor-sized bomb of bad news on her and her sisters. An attempt has been made on the lives of Canadian boyband, Spaceships Around Saturn, during their USA tour, and the guys have to go into hiding ASAP. The only problem? In the midst of the crisis and media frenzy, their dad volunteered to hide the guys…in their house.

Six-year-old Emery is as ecstatic as any self-proclaimed Saturnite would be, but Chloe and her seventeen-year-old sister Aralie watch their summer plans crash and burn like a falling star. The SAS guys aren’t happy with the situation, either. Bad boy Jules picks fights with Aralie about everything from his Twitter followers to his laundry, and heart-throb Benji can’t escape Emery’s fangirlisms for more than three minutes.

But after the super-cute Milo kisses Chloe during a game of hide-and-seek, she finally understands what Emery means when she talks about SAS being “out of this world.” If this is what Saturn feels like, Chloe doesn’t want to come back to Earth.

And an excerpt so you can judge for yourself:

Mom enters the kitchen and shreds away all of my half-courage. “Chloe, sweetheart, I need to talk to you,” she says.

There’s not a single social event I can think of that I may need to cancel today. No parties. No festivals. No lunch dates. Maybe Aralie had something planned, and I have to do damage control.

“This is really hard for me to say, but Ms. Sue called me this morning,” she says.

Who in the world is Ms. Sue?

“She said you stopped by their store last night,” Mom continues. “She wasn’t trying to rat you out, but she was very concerned and wanted me to be aware of what was going on.”

Oh God. The cigarettes! I ease over a few steps and look into the dining room. Jules stares back at me, wide-eyed and stupid. Then he looks away and buries his face. Noah hits Jules’s arm, and Jules motions for them to shut up. He’s seriously going to let me take the fall for this! I turn my back to the dining room because I have to keep my composure through this, and seeing Jules Rossi right now is not helping my composure.

“Chloe, I know things have been rough these last few months,” Mom says. It’s the sympathy tone. “But smoking isn’t the answer. If you need to talk to someone, you can always come to me or Dad or even Godfrey. Or we can pay for therapy sessions.”

“Mom, I’m not smoking,” I insist. “And I don’t need therapy. I’m completely fine. Really.”

She tilts her head and studies me like she did on graduation night, while she cried because her baby was all grown up. She has those same worried eyes now that she had when she talked about setting her baby bird out to fly on her own. Please, Mom. Don’t call me a baby bird while 3/5 of SAS is listening.

“Sweetheart,” she says. “I just know you went through a lot with that break up, and seeing Deacon the other day couldn’t have made things any easier, especially when he acted like he did. I know you had big plans this summer, and I wish things could’ve gone as planned.”

“I’m okay, Mom,” I say through my teeth.

“Then why were you buying cigarettes, Chloe? Ms. Sue wouldn’t just make that up,” she says.

Her voice pleads with me, like she’s truly heartbroken and worried. She doesn’t even seem mad about it. I don’t know who this Ms. Sue woman is or where she was hiding at that service station, but damn her all the way across the universe for running her big freaking mouth.

“They were for me.” The voice is directly behind me.

But it’s not Jules. 

It releases on August 29th.

ImageNikki Godwin is a Young Adult/New Adult author. She is a city girl who can’t live without Mountain Dew, black eyeliner, Hawthorne Heights, and candles from Bath & Body Works. When not writing, she’s not-so-secretly stalking her favorite bands. She may or may not completely love One Direction.

You can catch up with her on Goodreads, Twitter, or at her website.

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Meet the Characters from Hush Puppy!

ImageLisa Cresswell’s Hush Puppy is out now and I want you to meet her main characters. But first, here’s an excerpt from this touching contemporary YA romance:

The weeds had deep roots. They kept breaking off in my hands as I yanked on them, cursing under my breath. Sweat dripped off my nose, making wet spots on the red soil. The beans were in flower and it seemed like every insect in town was humming around them. I was so busy trying to avoid the bees with my hoe, I didn’t notice the shaggy-haired boy walk up behind me.

“Kind of hot for yard work, ain’t it?”

I snapped up and spun around too fast, the blood rushing out of my head. I steadied myself on the hoe as stars blurred my vision. As my sight cleared, I saw Jamie’s face, a halo of glittering lights around him.

“Hey, Hush Puppy!” he said. “Those were good.”

“I’m Corrine.” Still blinking, I wiped my sweaty forehead with the back of my dirty glove.

“I’m Jamie.” For a minute, he just stood there holding a red spiral notebook in one hand. Not knowing what else to do, I tried to make conversation.

“Going to summer school?”

“What?” He seemed confused.

“You look like you just got off the bus,” I said, pointing to his notebook.

“Oh, this?” He glanced at his notebook. “I just write stuff sometimes.”

“What kind of stuff?”

“I…the kind of stuff my old man don’t like, I guess.” Jamie smiled like he thought that was funny. I threw the hoe down in the wilted weeds.

“I need a drink. Want some tea?” I offered.

“Sure,” he said, following me to the house.

I got the tea from the fridge and found two glasses while Jamie sat at the table, setting his notebook on the red and white vinyl tablecloth in front of him. The kitchen was stuffy so I cranked on the window air conditioner until it blew frosty gusts at us. Jamie watched quietly while I cracked a tray of ice cubes and tossed a few in each glass before pouring the tea. We both took a long drink.

“You’re not like most boys around here.”

“Oh yeah?”

“I can’t think of one who would actually admit to writing something that wasn’t for school.”

Jamie smirked and chugged some more tea.

“So what’s in it?” I asked.

“In what?”

“Your notebook. What do you write?”

“Um…” Jamie’s thumb fingered the corner of the pages. “Stories, essays mostly.” His eyes traveled over the plastic tablecloth between us, not daring to look up.

“Can I see?” I reached for the notebook, but Jamie quickly slid it away from me.

“Naw. You wouldn’t like it.”

“How do you know?” The questions sounded ruder than I meant and I tried to make up for it. “I like a lot of stuff.”

“It’s just that it’s not that good.” He pulled it off the table onto his lap where I couldn’t see it. I felt myself frowning.

“Fine. Be like that.”

The crunching sound of a car on gravel grabbed my attention. Memaw wasn’t due home for hours. I jumped up to check out the tiny kitchen window, but there was no one there. When I turned around, Jamie was gone, his empty glass on the table. I walked into the living room and saw him down the short hallway, standing in my room.

“What are you doing?” I asked, hoping I hadn’t left my underwear on the floor that morning. It was dark in my room because we kept the windows covered during the day to keep it cool. I walked up behind Jamie, who was gazing up at the world map on my bedroom wall. I caught our reflection in my mirror and realized just how different we were next to each other. My dark skin, the color of rich, black coffee, made his skin look that much lighter. My kinky hair, poking out of the braids that were coming undone, made his hair seem that much straighter. But Jamie didn’t notice any of that.

“Cool map,” said Jamie. “What are the pins for?” He fingered the blue push pin I had stuck in the map at Munich.

“Places I want to see one day.”

“You sure got a lot of traveling to do.”

“That’s the plan. Red is for must-see, blue is for nice to see.”

“There’s a lot of red. These your books?” Jamie asked, looking over my shelf.

“Yeah.”

Jamie paused a minute and then sighed. “I should probably go. My dad would freak if he knew I was here.” He turned to walk down the hall toward the front door. I should have been relieved to get him out of my room, but some part of me was disappointed to see him go. I followed him outside and across the yard toward the driveway. He glanced back at me once or twice, as if he thought I was going home with him.

“I gotta finish weeding,” I explained.

“Oh.”

“Thanks for stopping by,” I said. It was something Memaw would have said.

“Yeah, thanks for the tea.” He kicked a grubby sneaker toe into the fresh garden dirt I’d just cleared of weeds. The notebook dangled from his fingertips. He stared at me like he had something more to say, but he never got the chance. Harley’s truck, held together with duct tape and wire, rattled down the road, stopped suddenly and backed up. Harley drove his truck into our driveway and hung his head out the window.

“What the hell are you doing over here?” he shouted at Jamie, who didn’t answer. Instead, Jamie looked at me and offered me the notebook he had been so reluctant to share before.

“I’ve been looking everywhere for you!” Harley kept ranting.

“I think you dropped this,” Jamie said to me, somehow ignoring Harley.

“What?” I couldn’t understand what was happening.

“Damn it, Jamie! Get in the truck!”

“Isn’t it yours?” Jamie’s eyes pleaded with me to play along. “Take it.” I finally did what he said and he joined Harley in the truck.

“When I call you, I expect you to answer, boy!” I heard Harley shouting as they drove away. I didn’t understand how or why, but suddenly the mysterious red notebook was mine.

So now you really want to meet these characters, right? It’s my pleasure to introduce them.

First, thanks for talking to me, guys. It’s a pleasure to meet you. Could you tell me a little about how you first met?

Corrine: Jamie’s dad brought him over to the diner where I was working ‘cause he had to fix the sink and he wouldn’t buy Jamie lunch. I felt kinda sorry for him, so I snuck him some hush puppies.

Jamie: They were good too! (laughs)  That’s why I call her Hush Puppy.

What did you initially think of each other? Love at first sight?Or not on your life? 🙂

Corrine: I think my exact thoughts were “Oh Lord, not another redneck!” But he grew on me.

Jamie: Hahaha! You’re so mean! I thought you were the prettiest thing I’ve ever seen.

Corrine: Oh shush. 😉

Can you tell me a little bit about where you come from?

Corrine: You’ve heard the expression “Armpit of North America”? That would be it.

Jamie: Oh, Carolville ain’t that bad.  It’s just extremely small and backwards.  But you have to admit the lake is nice.

Jamie, if you had to describe Corinne in three words, what would they be?

Oh gosh, that’s hard. I guess I’d have to say: smart, sexy, and…smart.

Corinne, same question.

You’re just as smart as me. Three words? How about: romantic, talented, and smart?

What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever had to face, either together or apart, and how did you get through it?

If either of you could have any dream come true, no matter how fantastic, what would it be? Dream big!

Jamie: I know what Corrine would do! (laughs)

Corrine: I’d visit every single place on my map. I have this map of the world and there’s pins in every place I want to go. What’s your dream, Jamie?

Jamie: To go with you. 
Awwwww. I’m rooting for these two, and I know you will, too. Check out Hush Puppy  at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
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Hush Puppy is the story of Corrine Lamb, a seventeen year old, black girl, and Jamie Armstrong, a poor white boy, living in a backwater North Carolina town.  Intelligent Corrine, abandoned by her mother, and artsy Jamie, forced to play football by a redneck father, both dream of leaving their podunk town and never looking back. 

Their shared love of literature and a dream of a better life brings them together and a romance blossoms between them in a secret place of their own in the steamy North Carolina woods.  When Jamie is involved in the accidental death of a white girl, he’s terrified of his abusive father.  Corrine takes the blame to protect Jaime, with dire consequences for herself and her dreams of the future.  Her life in danger, Corrine’s left wondering if Jamie ever cared about her at all.

Short Bio

Lisa T. Cresswell is a professional archaeologist who works in Idaho and dabbles frequently in young adult literature. Originally for North Carolina, her stories are often inspired by memories of growing up there. You can see more of her work atwww.lisatcresswell.com


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Book review: Jennifer Kloester Makes it Work in The Cinderella Moment

If you’re a fan of romance and Project Runway, then Jennifer Kloester’s new YA contemporary from Swoon Romance is for you.

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The Cinderella Moment tells the story of Angel Moncouer, a teenager in Manhattan who dreams of success as a fashion designer by winning the prestigious Teen Couture award. As the title implies, the novel is part Cinderella story, as Angel lives in a gorgeous uptown home where her mother, Simone, works as the cook for the Comte de Tourney and his daughter, Lily. She’s treated well by the deTourneys, but a wicked stepmother and stepsister of sorts enter her life in the forms of the Comte’s ambitious girlfriend, Margot, and her vain and jealous daughter, Cassandra (?). But the novel also nods toward Mark Twain’s The Prince and the Pauper when Angel has to switch places with Lily in order for both of their dreams to have a chance at fruition.

This is a fun read, engagingly written, with lines like “her experience with boys could be written on a Post-it note” describing Angel’s romantic history. But don’t worry, a romantic hero enters the picture in the form of a charming English nobleman named Nick Halliday. Kloester presents a rich and engrossing world of parties on Paris bateau-mouche, couture houses,  palatial chateaux, and polo clubs.

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If your primary interest is in romance, note that the love story in Cinderella takes a bit of a backseat to the more absorbing story of Angel’s adventures in Paris and the refreshingly rich friendship between Angel and Lily. Angel isn’t waiting around for a boy to sweep her off her feet. She and Lily have their own plans to put into play, especially when an act of sabotage and forgery forces Angel to act in a way would she would never have imagined. These two characters are very real and likable. I’d love to read a “spin-off” of Lily’s story, in fact.

Check out The Cinderella Moment for the glamour and the very real, very endearing friendship between the two girls. Kloester’s created a fictive world well worth spending some time in.

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Pick up a copy and learn more about Jennifer Kloester here:

Jennifer loves to escape into a good book. She began writing when she was little and grew up in a house full of books. She was living in the jungle in Papua New Guinea (truly!) when she discovered Georgette Heyer’s wonderful historical romances. She quickly became addicted and multiple re-reads later still can’t pin down her favourite. When not writing, Jennifer does karate and love to hang out with her husband (who she’s still trying to get into Regency garb) and their three nomadic children.

 Meet Jennifer on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, and on the web. You can buy the book at Amazon.
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Lizzy Charles’ Effortless Climb to the YA Top

My Swoon Romance sister Lizzy Charles’ YA romance Effortless with You has been out on the shelves and in the ether for about a week now. And already it’s making a lot of noise.

The Sub Club gave it five stars, saying

  • “Effortless With You is an adorable book, with a theme of hardship, trying to fit in, disappointment, friendship, loyalty, forgiveness, family, being true to oneself, new beginnings and first love.”

Ellen at Always YA at Heart said

  •  “It was almost like watching a caterpillar turn into a butterfly.  Overall, this is a wonderful YA contemporary romance, and if you enjoy that type of story, then Effortless with You is something I most definitely recommend checking out.” ~

And the YA Bookworm gave it 5 stars and this review

  • “Overall, I think Effortless With You may be my favourite YA Contemporary novel that I’ve read this summer. Effortless With You is a flirty yet deep romance filled with great comedy, tough struggles and an ending that is sure to warm your heart! I definitely will be recommending this one to all you Contemporary Lovers out there!”

But don’t just take our word for it. Here’s a little taste of Effortless to help you decide for yourself:

A battered white pickup truck idles like a snoring troll in our driveway. Metal ladders stick out of the truck bed and a small sign hangs loosely from chains over the side of the bed, “Purposeful Painting Inc.” The sign swings in the breeze, banging loudly against the truck. I’m pretty sure that is illegal. The business doesn’t seem legit at all.

            A young guy sits in the front of the truck, sipping from a coffee cup, wearing a painter’s hat and a pair of sunglasses. He has a strong jaw and stubble. I look at his arm, bent up toward his face on the window ledge. He is tan and muscular. A goofy smile spreads across my face. Maybe the summer won’t be a complete waste after all. I climb into the passenger seat, thankful I put on mascara.

            “Good morning, Lucinda,” the driver says in a mocking tone.

I stop breathing.

No way. He takes off his sunglasses. Two piercing green eyes stare back at me. I don’t even try to hide my groan.

Justin.

He laughs. “What?”

I roll my eyes before hitting my head against the seat. To any other girl in school, this would be Heaven. To me, it’s a humiliating nightmare.

            “Awesome party the other night, huh?” he prods.

            I shrug. There’s no way I’m giving him info to use against me. I pull out my granola bar, taking a bite so it’s impossible to speak.

            Justin stares cockeyed at the granola bar and my water bottle. “Is that all you have?”

            I swallow. “Yup.” Justin raises an eyebrow. “It’s all I need. Seriously, I’ll be fine.”

            Justin shakes his head and turns off the engine.

“Um, are you listening? Let’s go. I’m fine.” It’s only been three minutes and already I want to strangle him. He never listens.

            Justin jumps out of the truck, bee-lining it for my front door.

“What are you doing?” I jump out, following.

             “Getting you lunch.”

 
Convinced yet? You can pick up Effortless with You on Amazon and  Barnes and Noble.
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Get Your Gargoyle On: A Review of LOUISE GORNALL’S IN STONE

Image I’ve always liked gargoyles, so when I heard that there was a YA romance out there about a human(ish) gargoyle, I knew I had to read it. (In fact, I had the main characters from IN STONE meet Georgia and Michael from SNARK, which you can read here). And if you read that post, you’ll know that Jack is a pretty sweet gargoyle boy. Blond, silver-eyed, charming – I’m pretty sure my daughter would see all kinds of Niall Horan in him. Image But what makes Jack more intriguing than Niall Horan, with all apologies to my daughter, is that he has a sad and mysterious past that I look forward to hearing about in sequels. (I’ll just say here that it involves Purgatory. And a way out). Plus he’s a GARGOYLE, which means he can fly and scale buildings like a gecko and he has a tail. Oh, and he’s about to save the world from destruction, with the help of human(ish) Beau Bailey. Beau’s a trickier character and Gornall does a nice job with her. She’s snarky and not entirely likable, but there’s a reason for that, which I won’t even tell you because you have to find out for yourself.  Let’s just say that the last three chapters are almost too hectic in their emotional switches and revelations. You won’t want to miss them.

There’s suspense throughout as they team up in small town America, and then Bulgaria, and then . . .Wait. I don’t want to spoil it.  But there’s fighting and tension and narrow escapes enough for anyone who can’t wait for the release of the third installment of the DIVERGENT series.

So check out IN STONE from Entranced at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Goodreads. It’s a great summer read.

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You’ll elsker Elsker!

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In Norse, “elsker” means “love” and ST Bende’s NA book from Entranced – the first in a series – is very much a love story.

When Kristia Tostenson leaves her drab Oregon small town to study mythology at the university in Cardiff, Wales, she meets handsome, charming Ull Myhr, a grad student with flowing blonde hair and a penchant for form-fitting sweaters.   He’s actually kind of rude at first but they manage to work things out and are well on their way toward marriage and happily-ever-after when destiny rears its ugly head and threatens to split them apart.  It turns out that Ull is actually a Norse god, Thor’s stepson, and Thor has another bride in mind for Ull. Plus Kristia is prone to prophetic visions and is being tormented nightly by a fiendish Elf Man.  Oh, and Ragnarock, the epic battle that ensues when “the powers of darkness burst from their tethers” and “fire shall consume the earth and Darkness shall swallow the sky”?  That’s about to happen.  Unless Kristia can become a god herself and join the battle alongside Ull and his posse of Norse immortals that includes the beautiful and mischievous Inga and her football-loving mate Gunnar (who had saved her from a giant).

If you liked Twilight (and if you didn’t), you’ll see some delightful similarities here:  a mortal girl is chosen by a superhuman man who has hitherto had no interest in other girls.  He’s an old-fashioned guy and won’t bestow more than a blistering kiss on his beloved until they are legally wed, but they will need to fight some epic battles against dark forces before that can happen. But Kristia has more of a sense of humor than Bella and book one has left me with no doubt that she will be able to kick some ass when she needs to, especially since she is fighting for love.  And the love here is pretty epic, too.  The proposal scene will make you wish you had an Ull in your life, too.

Elsker is available here  at Amazon and here Barnes and Noble.  Read this first installment and then just try to miss the rest.  Good luck with that. I’m looking up the release date as soon as I hit the “save” button on this review.

And by the way — reading Ull’s dialogue in the voice of Chris Hemsworth from Thor is highly recommended.

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