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Into YA with Jennifer Dugan

I don't think I've seen a more anticipated book for this spring than Hot Dog Girl. With it's super cute amusement park setting and a love triangle, it's easy to see why people are so excited for April 30th to finally come. If you haven't heard about the book or want to learn more, check out my review here, and if you haven't preordered, you can do it here*
I hope you enjoy my interview with Jennifer! Let me know what you think in the comments below.

1. The thing that struck me most about your book was how clear Elouise shines through. Her grammar, syntax, and diction are so specific and consistent throughout, and it makes it easy to connect with her optimistically scattered personality. Did you do anything to get in touch with her voice, or did it just show up on the page? 
Music is a huge part of my writing process, so the first thing I do when working on any character is to figure out their specific playlist. I think you can tell a lot about someone by the mus…

Hot Dog Girl Review

Hot Dog Girl by Jennifer Dugan (April 30) 
To Purchase From Your Indie Bookstore*
Overview: Elouise has her summer before senior year (because the summer before senior year is far superior to the summer after), but then everything starts falling apart. Nick, the guy she likes, is still dating princess Jessa. She's the dancing hot dog for the second year in a row at the Magic Castle, the small town amusement park where she works. And then the park announces that it's closing, and Elouise is at a loss. With scheme after scheme, she attempts to save this summer and the ones to come. Overall: 4 

Characters: 5 I like Elouise. She's happy and upbeat, but also a little scattered and unsure. She just kind of traipses from one idea to the next and it all kinda works out with enough finagling. I immediately identified with her because I too have "caramel" hair that won't hold dye, and I burn horribly too. While she's a bit flighty, she's definitely lovable.
Seely&…

Opposite of Always Review

Opposite of Always by Justin A. Reynolds (457 pages)
Possible TW:Brief scene involving one of the characters getting shot.
To Purchase From Your Local Bookstore
Overview: Jack meets Kate at a college party. They fall in love. The world falls apart. Kate dies. Jack's back at the party. Over and over and over again. She dies every time though. He can't get her the sickle cell cure in time. But he'll have to relive the same four months until he gets her the injection that will allow them to have a future together. Luckily, he seems to have an infinite number of chances to make it work.  Overall: 4

Characters: 5 The characters make the book. Jack is sweet and insecure. He wants to help everyone, even if it hurts him. He's well meaning, goofy, cute, and a great lead. His friends are also very interesting. Jillian's pretty quiet but supportive. Franny is dating Jillian and is Jack's best friend. He wrestles with his dad getting released from prison and possibly rejoinin…

Recognizing the Artist

I was admiring the dust jacket on one of the books I'd recently bought when I realized that I had no clue who made it. I found my answer in tiny font on the back flap in the bottom corner under the author bio. While the author who poured their soul into the pages and created the book should be front and center, there's room to give props to the people who provided the art.
Cover artists are really the unsung heroes of books and book sales. The quality of the cover can have the potential to make or break a book before the buyer even thinks about checking out the words. If I haven't already heard about a book, it's a cover that gets me to pick up the book to see if it could be interesting. Sometimes, even if I'm not totally sold by the flap copy, I'll buy it anyway because the cover makes me happy.
Covers, especially in YA, are usually carefully crafted to give the reader an idea of what the story is without even touching it. When they're done right, covers …

Her Royal Highness Review

Her Royal Highness by Rachel Hawkins (May 6) Buy at Your Indie Bookstore*
Overview: In a companion book to Prince Charming (formerly known as Royals) follows another American thrown into the world of the Scottish Royal Family. This time, it's Millie from Texas in the spotlight. After she wins a scholarship to the elite Scottish boarding school where the royals attend, the quickly meets Princess Flora who is set to be her roommate. Even though the Princess is a bit insufferable at the beginning, the better Millie gets to know Flora, the more romance becomes a possibility. Overall: 4 

Characters: 4 Millie is super cute. She's excited about senior year in Scotland, and she's ready to leave her tedious friendship circle in Houston. While Scotland isn't full of unicorns and swoony love scenes like she imagined, she finds a genuine love for the place.
Princess Flora has a character to play, and it's her shell against new people and a world that's ready to sell all of h…

If I'm Being Honest

If I'm Being Honest by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegmund-Broka (April 23) To Buy at Your Local Bookstore (Affiliate Link)
Overview: Inspired by The Taming of The Shrew, Cameron's story starts with her as a mean girl with a sharp tongue and a problem beyond having no filter. She's horrible to everyone yet undeniably popular and surrounded by friends who are just like her at her super expensive LA prep school. But, then, she finds something she wants that she can't have: Andrew. He thinks that she's a "bitch". The word stings, and Cameron decides to make amends with everyone she's wronged to prove him otherwise. She finds that, maybe, she likes being... a decent human being? Overall: 3.8

Characters: 3 There are unlikable female characters that you love because they're strong, confused, or prickly on the outside, and then there's Cameron. I think that in their last book, Never Always Yours, Megan is a prime example of an unlikable character (that…

Guest Post: Claire Bartlett Talks Travel and Writing

Today's post is a little different. It's my first post by a guest writer! Claire Bartlett, author of We Rule The Night, out everywhere now. She talks about being a life long traveler and how that has impacted her and her writing. It's a lovely piece that I can't wait for you to read. So, without further ado...


There are two things I love to do in this world: go places and write things.
It’s not always easy to travel. It’s an expensive hobby between booking tickets and accommodations, and taking the time off work to go. But if you have the chance to travel outside your home country, do it. If you ever have the chance to live abroad, I recommend it even more.
Reading gets compared to traveling a lot. A good book should transport you, right? Well, I think that if a good book has to transport you, a good author should understand the space they’re writing about. How it smells, how the ground feels underfoot. What kind of birds call out in the daytime, and how people gather to …

Izzy and Tristan Review

Izzy + Tristan by. Shannon Dunlap (324 pages)
Overview: Izzy and Tristan have a love story. When Izzy's family renovates a moves into a new house on a Brooklyn block their lives change. Her twin brother Hull almost immediately gets into a fight, pulling a knife on some neighborhood kids after a gambling chess match goes wrong. Izzy falls for Tristan, the boy who won Hull's match. With Hull away at a rehabilitation center, Izzy and Tristan are free to fall for each other until Marcus decides that he wants to take revenge on Hull by dating his sister. And even when that battle is overcome, police brutality draws a permanent line between the couple. Overall: 2

*Okay, I'm not really sure how to write a spoiler free review of this because the shocker ending is what I take the most issue with. I'll keep it spoiler free in the characters and plot section, but I will talk about the ending in the writing section. I still recommend you read it, even if you plan on reading the boo…

Trigger Warnings Show Empathy

This week, YA Twitter was alight with controversy over a number of things this week (per usual, unfortunately). Most of it was run of the mill discussion over labeling YA and creating new genres (which I've talked a little about and I'll link below the posts below). But there was one conversation at the start of the week that baffled me a little. It started with a YA author tweeting something insensitive about trigger/content warnings. She basically said that they shouldn't exist because they spoil stories and that the world is hard and bad or negative things can't and shouldn't be avoided.
And the first thing I thought when I saw that original tweet, before reading anyone else's takes or more of the thread was "Wow. People really don't get what a trigger warning is and who they're for." Because trigger warning are put on media now for a small number of people who have a genuine need. It's a relatively new thing in books (and really most …

Serious Moonlight

Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett (April 16) To Buy From Your Local Bookstore
Overview: There's a mystery to be solved. Actually, quite a few. There's the mystery of the boy from Moonlight Diner and the subject of a random hook up Birdie still doesn't understand. And then there's the mysterious author, Raymond Darke who comes into the hotel where she works the graveyard shift. Birdie loves mystery books, movies, and television shows, and they're her escape from her overly sheltered life. But, now, Birdie is eighteen, finished homeschooling, and braving Seattle for herself. Overall: 4

Characters: 4 Birdie is a lot of fun. She's quiet, mixed up, curious, and open. Originally, she lived with her young mom and her Aunt Mona, but, after her mom's untimely death, she moved in with her grandparents on Bainbridge Island. Her grandmother was overly sheltering after her conflict with Birdie's mother, and she homeschooled her to keep her confined. Since her grandmot…

This Book Is Not Yet Rated Review

This Book Is Not Yet Rated by Peter Bognanni (April 9) To Purchase from your local bookstore click here
Overview: Ethan is the manager at the Green Street Theater. He has been since the owner skipped town. Running his rag tag group of employees at the indie film theater makes for the perfect gap year. And then the college that owns the building comes to shut them down. They're too far behind on rent to ever make up, and the building is filled with health code violations. As they rally to save the theater, though, Ethan finds out that maybe the movies isn't his entire life. Overall: 4

Characters: 4 I loved Ethan. He's the right mix of hilarious and introspective. I enjoyed learning about movies and watching Ethan grow.
There's also an interesting friendship bordering on friends to lovers with Ethan's childhood best friend Raina who's become a Holllywood star.
There's also a great ensemble class of varying ages who work at the theater and create a great found f…

Into YA with Kathleen Glasgow

I'm beyond thrilled and honored to host Kathleen Glasgow on the blog. She's in my Top 3 favorite authors, and I was honestly intimidated to reach out, but then she approached me about doing this. It's a dream come true for me, and I hope you'll love reading our conversation about her books as much as I do. If you don't know much about How To Make Friends with the Dark, I suggest, you check out my reviewbefore going on.

1. Both of your books, but especially HTMFWTD, are deeply emotional. There were many moments as I read where Tiger’s feelings started to meld with my own. How do you make your stories so impactful and resonate? Do you have any tips for writing emotional or difficult scenes?

I knew going into How to Make Friends With the Dark that it was going to be an emotional read. The death of someone close to you impacts you in ways you could not ever imagine. I lost my my mother and my sister within four years of each other. I had no idea what grief was going to d…

How To Make Friends With The Dark

How To Make Friends With The Dark by Kathleen Glasgow (April 9) To Purchase From Your Indie Bookstore*
Overview: Tiger Tolliver has experienced the greatest tragedy anyone could imagine. Her mother, her sole parent, dies of a brain aneurism, and she's thrown into the foster care system. She's in shock, and all she can cling to is the dress her mother bought her for the dance- the ugly dress that she that she didn't ask for. Now it's all she'll wear. Then, one day, her social worker discovers a half sister, from the father she didn't know she had, who is willing to come care for her. Still in the now ratty dress, Tiger and her twenty-year-old sister try their best to make a life with each other, but it seems that Tiger still can't catch a break. Overall: 5 

Characters: 5 Tiger is discovering who she is as her world breaks apart, and finding her self identity gets shifted to the back burner. Her life had always been defined by what her mother liked or thought w…

The Seven Torments of Amy and Craig

The Seven Torments of Amy and Craig by Don Zolidis (342 pages) To Purchase From Your Local Indie Bookstore*
Overview: This is a love story. It's a life story. There is not happily ever after, but it's not like the ending is sad. It's realistic. It's the out of order tale of seven break ups and six make ups during Amy and Craig's senior year of high school. Amy is Craig's first girlfriend, and he loves her, and she loves him, but life is complicated. Craig has to navigate his family's financial difficulties after his dad loses his job. He has to figure out if college, which was always a given, is even a possibility even more. Amy is taking care of her mom, who has cancer, and trying to balance leading the class and all her club commitments. Sometimes, there's only so much one relationship can take. Overall: 5 

Characters: 5 I love Amy and Craig. Craig narrates the story, and he is hilarious. He plays on irony and sarcasm is perfect. He's endearing and …