Tuesday, August 30, 2016

(Spotlight) The Cabin by Natasha Preston

There may only be one killer, but no one is innocent in this new young adult thriller from Natasha Preston, author of The Cellar, a New York Times Bestseller, and Awake

They think they’re invincible.
They think they can do and say whatever they want.
They think there are no consequences.
They’ve left me no choice.
It’s time for them to pay for their sins.

A weekend partying at a remote cabin is just what Mackenzie needs. She can’t wait to let loose with her friends. But a crazy night of fun leaves two of them dead—murdered.

With no signs of a forced entry or struggle, suspicion turns to the five survivors. Someone isn’t telling the truth. And Mackenzie’s first mistake? Assuming the killing is over...

Can you survive The Cabin? 

Starting on August 30, we'll be releasing a series of questions every Tuesday and Thursday at different locations.

Here's how you play: 

1. Take a look at the schedule below.
2. Go to the location on the specified date.
3. Find The Cabin graphic with the question.
4. Solve the question.
5. Head here to submit your answer for that day's question.
6. Complete all 8 questions and be entered in to win a $500 Visa gift card! We'll also be drawing a winner each week who will win a Sourcebooks Fire book bundle!
7. Make sure to submit all answers by September 25, 2016

Check out this exclusive excerpt:

Straightening his back, Blake walked around the double bed and gripped my arms. “Well, that sounds like a plan. I definitely don’t want you feeling horrendous all day so…” He slid a hand down the bare skin of my arm until he reached my hand. With a little tug, he towed me out of the room and downstairs.
We stopped at the bottom of the wooden stairs to assess the damage. Bottles, shot glasses, and snack wrappers littered the coffee table and floor around it. There were more empty bottles of alcohol than I remembered. No wonder we felt rough.
Blake stood behind me, his chest pressed right against my back and a hand on my hip. I liked the contact a lot.
“This explains the drilling in my head,” he murmured, leaning down to nip my neck. Spinning around, I slapped his arm playfully, laughing. Bad move. My head throbbed with the quick movement, but Blake’s boyish grin made my heart swell.
Another bad move. Don’t get too involved with him. When we went home, Blake would be back off to his dad’s, and who knew when I’d see him again. If ever.
A door upstairs opened and closed. I stepped around Blake to watch Megan hobble down. She looked as good as I felt. “Kenzie?” she whispered. “I think I’m dying.”
Laughing quietly, I replied, “You too, huh?”
“Bloody hell. How much did we drink?” she muttered, leaning heavily against the bannister as she made the final steps downstairs. She hadn’t drunk much, but it was still more than she usually did.
“We’re getting old,” I joked. “We can’t handle it anymore.”
Kyle was sprawled out on the floor with his mouth wide open, breathing deeply, his jet--black hair stuck out in all directions like a bird’s nest. Aaron was curled up beside him, sleeping in the fetal position. They clearly couldn’t handle the amount of alcohol either. They were both in the same place Blake and I had left them last night.
Blake watched us with a curiosity I didn’t quite understand. I had a feeling he didn’t have many close friends, which was a shame, because beyond that I--don’t--care attitude, he was a great guy. I thought—-from what I’d seen, anyway.
“Where’re Josh and Courtney?” Megan asked.
I shrugged. “I don’t hear anyone else up, so maybe they’re asleep still. God, Megan, I need aspirin.”
Kyle’s eyes flicked open and widened as he saw how close Aaron was to him. I felt so rough I couldn’t even laugh when he shoved him away, making Aaron wake with a gasp.
Aaron looked up, dazed. “What?” He rubbed his eyes and winced. “Christ!”
“I’m making tea. Everyone in?” I asked, receiving grunts in replace of a yes and a look of disgust from Blake. I smiled, remembering what he’d wanted before. “Coffee for you, Blake.”
I walked into the kitchen; my head was swimming, and everything looked a little fuzzy. A sea of red flashed in front of my eyes. I blinked hard.
You’re losing it.
Opening my eyes again, I stared at the floor. It took me a few moments to register what I was seeing. Bright, thick blood stretched from the middle of the kitchen to what looked like behind the island.
I gasped. There was so much blood. My heart raced and the ends of my fingertips tingled. The metallic smell filled my lungs and made me gag. My body turned cold and started to shake. What…?
“Courtney?” I whispered, not even hearing my own voice over the ringing in my ears.
Oh God, don’t pass out, Mackenzie.
Someone came up behind me. “What the…” Kyle whispered, stepping around me. “Shit. Stay back, Kenz.”
Blake was right behind Kyle. “What’s going on?” he asked.
Against Kyle’s orders, I stepped around the kitchen island and my stomach lurched. “No,” I cried, pressing my hand over my mouth as bile rose in my throat. Courtney and Josh lay on the floor in a pool of crimson blood.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Blog Tour: Guest Post with L. Andrew Cooper

Peritoneum                                            Leaping at Thorns

by L. Andrew Cooper

Release Date: April 27, 2016                                                                 
Publisher: Seventh Star Press, LLC

L. Andrew Cooper scribbles horror: novels Burning the Middle Ground and
Descending Lines as well as anthologies of experimental shorts Leaping at Thorns (2014 /2016) and Peritoneum (2016). He also co-edited the anthology Imagination Reimagined (2014). His book Dario Argento (2012) examines the maestro’s movies from the 70s to the present. Cooper’s other works on horror include his non-fiction study Gothic Realities (2010), a co-edited textbook, Monsters (2012), and recent essays that discuss 2012’s Cabin in the Woods
(2014) and 2010’s A Serbian Film (2015). His B.A. is from Harvard, Ph.D. from Princeton. Louisville locals might recognize him from his year-long stint as WDRB-TV’s “movie guy.” Find him at amazon.com/author/landrewcooper, facebook.com/landrewcooper, and landrewcooper.com.

Revenge of the YA Grad Students by L. Andrew Cooper

When I’m at conventions, I get asked pretty often whether my horror novels and short stories are appropriate for young readers. The easiest answer is no, but when I say the main reason is violence, parents sometimes challenge me. After all, some of them, like me, were reading Stephen King before puberty. And like Stephen King, I often write from kids’ perspectives. Some of the best point-of-view writing in my collection Leaping at Thorns appears in “Hands,” a story about a boy whose cruel friends trap him in a deep hole that’s filling up with rainwater. My favorite moment in the story “Light” from that collection is when a little girl, in the thrall of evil light, looks at her father’s head in the distance and thinks about it bursting in her mouth like a grape. In my new collection of horror stories, Peritoneum, the first and last stories, “Prologue: The Family Pet” and “The Broom Closet Where Everything Dies,” are both in kids’ perspectives. Perhaps the clearest identifier for Young Adult fiction these days is that the protagonists are themselves young adults. Does that make the stories I’ve mentioned at least a little YA?
The kids in these stories are not alright. The full extent of not-alright-ness from “Family Pet” doesn’t become apparent until later stories such as “TR4B”… but the modded shotgun should tell you right away that the “Broom Closet” kid is bad news. I might have loved such disturbing, horrific stories when I was in my mid-to-late teens, but by then I was reading adult literature with my parents’ approval. These days, “young adult” has new meaning. The Young Adult Library Services Association acknowledges that “YA” now seems to target readers ages 10 to 25 (http://www.ala.org/yalsa/guidelines/whitepapers/yalit)—that’s elementary school potentially up to grad school. I think putting my work into the hands of an elementary schooler would be downright irresponsible, but if you’re in grad school, while the violence and references to sex might be too much for you, I’ll trust your judgment. Are you a high school English teacher who likes a bizarre, disturbing tale? Read me! Are you a grade school student? Talk to your teacher. Again, I’m inclined to say my work is for adults only, but even “NC-17” falls within this new YA demographic. All the grad students reading Harry Potter and The Hunger Games might have shifted our expectations from YA.
Amidst growing confusion about YA’s meaning, I did attempt one YA story. It’s called “Bubble Girl,” and it’s in Peritoneum. The characters are all kids drawn to an eerie phenomenon on a playground—a little girl floating in a bubble. I use much simpler language than I generally do, but the story accumulates through word of mouth and speculation, so it isn’t entirely straightforward. The Bubble Girl has a horrific back story, but she begins and ends mysteriously. In terms of language, character, and overt violence and sexuality, I think “Bubble Girl” could pass for YA. I’d love to get some teacherly feedback on it, though, as my adult readers so far have spotted wicked sexual psychology and other underpinnings that would seem to disqualify it. In short, readers find the story, like my other stuff, too bewildering and unsettling for YA. If they’re right, maybe we need to start defining YA less by its target audiences and character traits and more by its structural and cognitive requirements.
(Did I mention that I taught English literature, writing, and film studies for more than ten years?)

My point about YA isn’t that I qualify strangely in the category—I really don’t—but that the category is too sloppy. We don’t want grade schoolers rushed off to grad school or vice versa. Instead of thinking about age limits and character traits, let’s focus on what readers demand from stories and stories demand from readers. I’d say my stories demand more than most YA readers are ready to give… in some cases, I really hope to take your breath away… but English teacher types—well, we tend to invest more in our reading experiences in order to get more out of them. How young people come to know their own minds will depend on the views of them we all decide to promote.
Hit the Jump for More Information about the New Releases

Out This Week (Children's): APPLESAUCE WEATHER and HEY COACH!

"...Fresh, sweet, and crisp, this novel has a magic all its own. "--Booklist

Applesauce Weather

by Helen Frost, illustrated by Amy June Bates

Release Date: August 9, 2016
Publisher: Candlewick
ISBN: 9780763675769
Hardcover: $14.99

For me, there is no better time than the Fall--that crisp air, the long shadows, and of course, the apples. In fact, I am headed up the Blue Ridge mountains this weekend to buy some early apples. For Faith, the first fallen apple from the tree in her yard signifies one event--applesauce weather. This is the time of year when Faith's Aunt Lucy and Uncle Arthur visit, and Aunt Lucy makes applesauce from the apples on the tree. Sadly, Aunt Lucy died the previously, and Uncle Arthur is still grieving. Still, when the first apple falls, Faith is sure Uncle Arthur will still visit. Her brother, Peter, is not convinced and teases her. Just like her name, Faith believes in her Uncle, and she is not surprised when his car pulls up in the yard. Written in verse, both rhyming and free, Frost creates a feeling of Fall that I have rarely read. Through the black and white illustrations by Bates, the reader can visualize Faith's eagerness as well as Uncle Arthur's sadness. Told from every character's point of view, Frost creates a portrait of loss but also love--one that is enduring and accountable.  

Hey, Coach!

by Linda Ashman, illustrated by Kim Smith

Release Date: August 9, 2016
Publisher: Sterling
ISBN: 9781454916079
Hardcover: $14.95

Having watched my little cousin play pee wee football and not know which way he was going (at first), I can totally see that same childlike innocence in these adorable boys and girls as they learn to play soccer. The Coach in this book is charged with teaching newcomers as they learn the ins and outs of playing soccer. Choosing a name (the Sparks), the Coach leads the children through several practices and games. While they start off shakily and confused, they soon grow to love the sport--but most of all, their coach. Smith's illustrations are diverse, showing every type of boy and girl and their eager, excited expressions. This is the perfect book for teaching children about learning how to play a sport and sticking with it. It is also great for adults who may be thinking about coaching. Much like teaching, being a coach is more than just being on the field or in the classroom. It's about being a mentor and helping children be the best they can be. What a great lesson to learn!

Saturday, August 6, 2016

August 2016 Children's Books Releases

"...Rockliff’s snappy, sassy text is matched by Hooper’s inventive illustrations, which crackle with activity. "--Booklist

Around America to Win the Vote

by Mara Rockliff, illustrated by Hadley Hooper

Release Date: August 2, 2016
Publisher: Candlewick
ISBN: 9780763678937
Hardcover: $16.99

With a history-making election year as we have the first female presidential candidate, the vote has become synonymous with change. Alice Burke and Nell Richardson fought in 1916 for a female presidential candidate by campaigning for the vote for women. Driving completely across the country, Burke and Richardson spoke every night in every state on their historic trip. With their yellow car and kitten, these two women paved the way for the changes that we have in the United States today, breaking stereotypes about cooking and cleaning to show that women could do housework and have a career--or just have a career if they wanted. Illustrations of every state bring the book to life and create a sightseeing map for readers--I particularly enjoyed the South Carolina page. This book is definitely one to have on your shelf an or your child's shelf. 

"...Readalouds don’t come much rowdier."--Publisher's Weekly

Pirate's Perfect Pet

by Beth Ferry, illustrated by Matt Myers

Release Date: August 2, 2016
Publisher: Candlewick
ISBN: 9780763672881
Hardcover: $15.99

All little kids want to have a pet, right? Well, adults do too, especially Captain Crave, a pirate. Quizzed by his first mate (a female African-American--diversity!) on being the best buccaneer, Captain Crave realizes he needs two things--a peg leg and a pet. Crave and his crew go in search of the perfect pet, stopping first at a beach then moving on to a farm and a zoo. At the zoo, Captain Crave earns his peg leg when he meets a feisty lion and realizes that the perfect pet isn't large or slimy--it's a talking parrot! Each of the diverse crew mates and equally diverse animals are painted to genuinely emote various feelings--curiosity, intimidation, fun! The animals are especially expressive as Captain Crave considers their worthiness to be his pet. A fun adventure that would teach young children basic animal names while taking reading age children on a journey across land and sea.

"...a clever structure and a satisfying story."--Kirkus Reviews


by Randy Cecil

Release Date: August 1, 2016
Publisher: Candlewick
ISBN: 9780763668082
Hardcover: $19.99

This book is more than your average illustrated children's book. Lucy tells the story of a homeless dog, named Lucy, who makes her way to the front step of a little girl named Eleanor. Every morning, Eleanor drops a sausage tied to a string down to homeless little Lucy. Once she has had her breakfast, Lucy spends the rest of the day roaming around. Eleanor's father loves to juggle, but he has stage fright. Several times in the story, the reader sees her father freeze up and get pulled off stage. It's not until the last Act that Lucy becomes part of the show and helps Eleanor's father face his fears. Illustrated in black and white with exaggerated features, Lucy is more than teaching basic words and meanings--it's about love and acceptance and confidence.

"...those who share the unnamed narrator’s quirky viewpoint will be pleased to discover that they aren’t the only ones who wonder."--Kirkus Reviews

If I Was a Banana

by Alexandra Tylee and Kieran Rynhart

Release Date: August 1, 2016
Publisher: Gecko Press
ISBN: 9781776570331
Hardcover: $16.99

You will absolutely fall in love with the child in this book--his imagination is endless, and his reasoning for wanting or not wanting to be a certain animal or object is adorable. After seeing bananas being sold on the first page, the young boy wonders what it would be like to be a banana, or a mountain, or a ladybug. For each item, he provides a first-person narration of why it would or not be a good thing to be that item. The one that I agree with the most is the fish--nobody wants to be a fish stuck in a tank. Through each "If I was" scenario, the voice of the narrator begins to echo children around this age--full of questions and curiosity. The vast imagination is met with gorgeous illustrations that express the child's wonder and portray each animal or object with precise likeness. Perfect for young readers who like to dream and think about the "what ifs" on a lazy afternoon. 

"...Buoyant fun for the very young."--Kirkus Reviews

That's Not a Hippopotamus

by Juliette Maclver and Sarah Davis

Release Date: August 1, 2016
Publisher: Gecko Press
ISBN: 9781927271964
Hardcover: $16.99

With a set of kids so cute you will want to pinch their cheeks (especially Jessie with his peace sign t-shirt), this book takes young readers on the search for a missing hippopotamus. Visiting Don's Safari, the children notice that there's not a hippo listed on the list of animals to see; however, they are reassured that there is in fact a hippo--he's just not where he should be. So Ms. Whiskersniff and Class 2B go on their own safari adventure. Finding a giraffe and a snake they believe is the hippopotamus, the children race around the Safari in search of the elusive animal. But one child, Liam, knows where he is throughout the entire book, but he is ignored by his teacher and classmates, until the end. Full of diversity, these adorable children are just what kids should be--silly and curious. The illustrations of the diverse class enhances adventure with colorful and racially diverse characters. 

"...A refreshingly unconventional mix of science and storytelling, of physical work and brain work."--Kirkus Reviews

What Dog Knows

by Sylvia Yanden Heede, illustrated by Marije Tolman

Release Date: August 1, 2016
Publisher: Gecko Press
ISBN: 9781776570362
Hardcover: $16.99

Spinning off of Wolf and Dog, these two furry friends explore scientific topics in an array of illustrations, activities, information, and quizzes. Exploring Mummies and Skeletons, Robots, Knights, and Pirates, Dinosaurs and Dragons, and Rockets and the Moon, this book is packed full of information for young readers from a variety of popular topics (honestly, there are facts many adults may not know). Educational and quirky, this book works well as an illustrated text and an interactive story.

Surprising Spring

by Jennifer Marino Walters, illustrated by John Nez

Release Date: August 1, 2016
Publisher: Red Chair Press
ISBN: 9781634401227
Hardcover: $6.99

Next in a series of season-related books, Walters and Nez explore the wonders of Spring as everything comes back to life and colors grow richer. Interactive questions for very young readers will teach them about growth and life cycles for animals. 

Sweet Summer

by Jennifer Marino Walters, illustrated by John Nez

Release Date: August 1, 2016
Publisher: Red Chair Press
ISBN: 9781634401234
Hardcover: $6.99

Moving into summer, Walters and Nez continue to educate young readers about what happens in the summertime--specifically the fun! Picnics and beach days are colorfully illustrated to express the joys of summer. It's sad that summer is ending right now, and students return to school in a few weeks where I live, but if you have the summer blues, just turn to this little book to give you a pick-me-up!

Monday, August 1, 2016

Catching Up with Harlequin Teen

Pick these up now!
(Click the title for more information from the publisher)

Walk the Edge

By Katie McGarry
For Ages: 14 and up
Smart. Responsible. That's seventeen-year-old Breanna's role in her large family, and heaven forbid she put a toe out of line. Until one night of shockingly un-Breanna-like behavior puts her into a vicious cyberbully's line of fire—and brings fellow senior Thomas "Razor" Turner into her life. 

Sisters of Salt and Iron

By Kady Cross
For Ages: 14 and up
Lark Noble is finally happy. She's trying to move on and put the events of the past behind her: the people who avoided her because she talked to the ghost of her dead twin sister, the parents who couldn't be around her anymore and even the attempt she made on her own life. She finally has friends—people who know her secrets and still care about her—and she has Ben, the cute guy she never saw coming. 

Heir to the Sky

By Amanda Sun
For Ages: 14 and up
As heir to a kingdom of floating continents, Kali has spent her life bound by limits: by her duties as a member of the royal family, by a forced betrothal to the son of a nobleman, and by the edge of the only world she's ever known—a small island hovering above a monster-ridden earth, long since uninhabited by humans. She is the Eternal Flame of Hope for what's left of mankind, the wick and the wax burning in service for her people, and for their revered Phoenix, whose magic keeps them aloft. 

The Problem with Forever

By Jennifer L. Armentrout
For Ages: 14 and up
From #1 New York Times bestselling author Jennifer L. Armentrout comes a riveting new story about friendship, survival and finding your voice. For some people, silence is a weapon. For Mallory "Mouse" Dodge, it's a shield. Growing up, she learned that the best way to survive was to say nothing. And even though it's been four years since her nightmare ended, she's beginning to worry that the fear that holds her back will last a lifetime. 

My Favorite from 2015 (in case you're all caught up!)

What We Left Behind

For Ages: 16 and up
Why It's Awesome
Appropriate for teens experiencing issues of gender identity when there are few books out there that explore the topic. Appropriate for teens not experiencing questions of gender identity as the book can teach empathy as well. Well-rounded journey of teen social themes.