Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Feature: My Favorite Three Books from Sky Pony Press in 2017

Here are my favorite three books of the year so far from Sky Pony Press! Check out http://skyponypress.com/newreleases for all of Sky Pony Press new releases!

For as long as she can remember, Laney’s been having “future flashes”—visions of the future that she sees when she makes physical contact with another person. Left on a doorstep as a baby, Laney’s past has always been cloudy to her, despite the clarity with which she can see the future. Her caretaker, Walt, claims to be her father, but Laney has a nagging suspicion that he isn’t quite telling her the entire truth. And when a new kid, Lyle, moves to her small town, Laney is dreading meeting him—she almost always gets a future flash when first meeting someone new and they aren’t always good. Unfortunately, her meeting with Lyle isn’t just bad; it’s painful. Engulfed in flames, Lyle’s future flash is the worst Laney’s ever experienced. But what does it mean? Is there anything Laney can do to change the future? And will she be able to save Lyle not only from a firey death but also from the merciless class bully without becoming a victim of his antics herself?

In this thrilling and imaginative middle grade novel from author Kita Helmetag Murdock, follow Laney as she works against the clock to understand her past and prevent the disaster looming in the future. Aimed at readers ages 8 to 12, the book encompasses important themes such as identity, bullying, friendship, family relationship, and more. Kids will identify with Laney, who is a bit of an outsider but also has a good moral compass, and will love her supernatural abilities. Parents, teachers, and librarians will see the value in the themes discussed and in the positive outcome of the book with a very hopeful tone.

About the author
Kita Helmetag Murdock is the author of Francie’s Fortune and Cecily Cicada. She has an English degree from Boston College and a Master of Arts in Teaching from American University. She lives with her husband and three daughters.

This was supposed to be the best summer of Maggie’s life. Now it’s the one she’d do anything to forget. 

Maggie Reynolds remembers hanging out at the gorge with her closest friends after a blowout party the night before. She remembers climbing the trail hand in hand with her perfect boyfriend, Joey. She remembers that last kiss, soft, lingering, and meant to reassure her. So why can't she remember what happened in the moment before they were supposed to dive? Why was she left cowering at the top of the cliff, while Joey floated in the water below—dead?

As Maggie's memories return in snatches, nothing seems to make sense. Why was Joey acting so strangely at the party? Where did he go after taking her home? And if Joey was keeping these secrets, what else was he hiding?

McBride delivers a novel of secrets that packs an emotional punch, perfect for fans of Sara Zarr and Gayle Forman.

About the author 
Kristina McBride is a former English teacher and yearbook advisor. She dreamed of being a published author since she lived across the street from a library as a kid. She is also the author of The Tension of Opposites and A Million Times Goodnight, and lives with her husband and two young children in in Centerville, Ohio.

It’s July 1940 on the south coast of England. A plane crash-lands in the marsh, and sixteen-year-old Peggy finds its broken pilot—a young Polish airman named Henryk. Afraid and unwilling to return to the fight, Henryk needs a place to hide, and Peggy helps him find his way to a remote, abandoned church.

Meanwhile, Peggy’s eleven-year-old brother Ernest is doing his best to try to understand the war happening around him. He’s reading all the pamphlets—he knows all the rules, he knows exactly what to do in every situation. He’s prepared, but not for Peggy’s hidden pilot. 

Told in alternating points of view, this is a beautifully written story about growing up in wartime and finding the difference between following the rules and following your heart.

About the author 
Lydia Syson is the author of A World Between Us and Liberty’s Fire. She is a fifth-generation North Londoner who started her career as a BBC World Service radio producer. A frequent contributor to The History Girls blog, she is also a member of the Scattered Author’s Society, the Society of Authors, the Historical Writers Association, and Children’s Writers and Illustrators in South London. She lives in London, England, with her partner and four children.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Review: Serafina and the Splintered Heart by Robert Beatty

Release Date: July 4, 2017
Publisher & ARC: Disney-Hyperion
ISBN: 978-1484775042

The storms are coming....Something has happened to Serafina. She has awoken into a darkness she does not understand, scarred from a terrible battle, only to find that life at Biltmore Estate has changed in unimaginable ways. Old friends do unthinkable things and enemies seem all around. 
A mysterious threat moves towards Biltmore, a force without a name, bringing with it violent storms and flooding that stands to uproot everything in its path. Serafina must uncover the truth about what has happened to her and find a way to harness her strange new powers before it's too late. 
With only days to achieve the impossible, Serafina fights to reclaim herself as the Guardian of Biltmore, friend of Braeden, daughter of her Pa, and heroine of the Blue Ridge Mountains and all the folk and creatures that call it home. 
In the epic third installment of Robert Beatty's #1 bestselling series, Serafina takes her rightful place among literary champions as she battles fiercely to defend all she loves and become everything that she is meant to be.


I have been eagerly awaiting the highly anticipated third book in Robert Beatty's hit Serafina series, and today is the day! [HIT THE JUMP FOR MORE]

Monday, July 3, 2017

Review: Be the One: Six True Stories of Teens Overcoming Hardship with Hope

Be the One by Byron Pitts

Release Date: May 16, 2017
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Emmy Award–winning ABC News chief national correspondent and Nightline coanchor, Byron Pitts shares the heartbreaking and inspiring stories of six young people who overcame impossible circumstances with extraordinary perseverance.

Drug Addiction.
Mental Illness.

None of these should be realities for anyone, much less a young person. But for some it is the only reality they have ever known. In these dark circumstances, six teens needed someone to “be the one” for them—the hero to help them back into the light. For Tania, Mason, Pappy, Michaela, Ryan, and Tyton, that hero was themselves. Through stirring interviews and his award-winning storytelling, Byron Pitts brings the struggles and triumphs of these everyday heroes to teens just like them, encouraging all of us to be the source of inspiration in our own lives and to appreciate the lives of others around us.
Hit the jump for more!

Thursday, June 29, 2017

The Best From the First Half of 2017: Delivery by Aaron Meshon

Delivery by Aaron Meshon

Release Date: January 3, 2017
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

A grandmother goes to great lengths to send her grandson a care package in this heartwarming and playful picture book. 

By truck… 
by train… 
by boat… 
by rocket… 
love can travel any road, ride any track, cross any ocean, and soar through any sky. 

Award-winning author-illustrator Aaron Meshon’s tender, whimsical, and almost wordless story celebrates love that knows no bounds.
Hit the jump for more!

The Best From the First Half of 2017: Pen Pals by Alexandra Pichard

Pen Pals by Alexandra Pichard

Release Date: January 3, 2017
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

An octopus and an ant are paired up to write letters for a school project in this charming picture book in the tradition of Dear Mr. Blueberry

For an entire school year, Oscar the ant and Bill the octopus send letters to each other as part of a school project. 

Oscar loves table tennis, and Bill loves modelling clay. 

Oscar does judo, while Bill has a garden. 

Despite their differences, the two new friends find shared interests…all leading up to one final surprise!
Hit the jump for more!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Review: The Go-Between by Veronica Chambers

The Go-Between by Veronica Chambers

Release Date: May 9, 2017
Publisher: Delacorte

This hilarious, honest, and realistic coming-of-age novel set in mega wealthy Mexico City as well as Hollywood, skewers perceived racial stereotypes as well as highlights how the immigrant experience unites those who share the American dream. Through her Afro-Latina heritage, Veronica Chambers brings her own experiences, in fictional form, to these issues while dealing with them in an authentic voice.
With humor and humanity, Veronica Chambers offers a universally appealing coming-of-age novel that poses complex questions of identity and assimilation every immigrant must wrestle with: Who were we back there? Who are we here? Who does everyone think we are here? And how do we meld all those selves together into a new life?
Hit the jump for more!

Friday, April 28, 2017

Blog Tour (Spotlight): MISSING by Kelly Armstrong

Crown • Hardcover • April 18, 2017 • ISBN: 0399550321

The only thing Winter Crane likes about Reeve's End is that soon she'll leave it. Like her best friend did. Like her sister did. Like most of the teens born in town have done. There's nothing for them there but abandoned mines and empty futures. They're better off taking a chance elsewhere.

What Winter will miss is the woods. Her only refuge. At least it was. Until the day she found Lennon left for dead, bleeding in a tree.

But now Lennon is gone too. And he has Winter questioning what she once thought was true. What if nobody left at all? What if they're all missing?

Click here to see the first eight chapters!

About the Author

Kelley Armstrong is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Darkest Powers (The Summoning, The Awakening, and The Reckoning), Darkness Rising (The Gathering, The Calling, andThe Rising) and Age of Legends (Sea of Shadows, Empire of Night, and Forest of Ruin) trilogies for teens, and most recently the YA thriller The Masked Truth. Kelley lives in southwestern Ontario with her family. You can visit her online at kelleyarmstrong.com.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Windfall Blog Tour: Exclusive Q & A with Jennifer E. Smith

Windfall by Jennifer E. Smith
Release Date: May 2, 2017
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Price: $18.99, Ages 12+

Alice doesn’t believe in luck—at least, not the good kind. But she does believe in love, and for the last few years, she’s been pining for her best friend, Teddy. She and he are alike: both are outsiders, both know tragedy. She lost both her parents when she was nine and now lives with her cousin. 

Teddy’s mother is barely able to hold it all together, forced to grapple with the weight of gambling debts incurred by his father, who abandoned them years ago.

Then, on Teddy’s eighteenth birthday, Alice buys him a lottery ticket, and to their astonishment, he wins $145 million. In an instant, their lives are completely upended. But what at first seems to be a blessing soon starts to feel like a curse. As Alice and Teddy deal with the ripple effects caused by that one little ticket, they learn more about themselves than they ever could have imagined, and about the unexpected ways in which luck and love sometimes intersect. Now if only Teddy can see through his windfall and back to the ones who love him.
Hit the jump for an exclusive Q and A!

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Rabbit Cake by Annie Hartnett

“A brilliant book . . . How a whip-smart young girl handles the loss of her mother and the reorientation of her family; charming and beautifully written.”—Kirkus Reviews

“In Hartnett’s winning debut, a memorable young narrator’s desire for rationality wrestles with her grief."Publisher's Weekly

Rabbit Cake by Annie Hartnett
Tin House, 3/7

Elvis Babbitt has a head for the facts: she knows science proves yellow is the happiest color, she knows a healthy male giraffe weighs about 3,000 pounds, and she knows that the naked mole rat is the longest-living rodent. She also knows she plans to grieve her mother, who has recently drowned while sleepwalking, for exactly eighteen months. But there are things Elvis doesn't yet know—like how to keep her sister Lizzie from poisoning herself while sleep-eating or why her father has started wearing her mother's silk bathrobe around the house.

Elvis investigates the strange circumstances of her mother's death and finds comfort, if not answers, in the people—and animals—of Freedom, Alabama. As hilarious a storyteller as she is heartbreakingly honest, Elvis is a truly original voice in this exploration of grief, family, and the endurance of humor after loss.

About the Author

Annie Hartnett is the author of Rabbit Cake, out March 2017 with Tin House Books. She was the 2013-2014 Writer in Residence for the Associates of the Boston Public Library, and currently teaches at Grub Street, an independent writing center in Boston. She lives in Providence, Rhode Island, with her husband and border collie.


by Annie Hartnett

*An Indies Introduce and Indie Next Pick*

“A brilliant book . . . How a whip-smart young girl handles the loss of her mother

and the reorientation of her family; charming and beautifully written.”

—Kirkus, Starred Review


March 2017 · ISBN 978-1-941040-56-0 · $15.95



“A brilliant book about a child grieving the loss of a mother. This is the moving and often funny story of a

family trying to figure out what to do next now that their touchstone is gone. The narrator’s voice is a stunning

combination of youthful and astute. How a whip-smart young girl handles the loss of her mother and the

reorientation of her family; charming and beautifully written.”

—Kirkus, Starred Review

“In Hartnett’s winning debut, a memorable young narrator’s desire for rationality wrestles with her grief.”

—Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

“A truly terrific and original novel about grief, family, and finding hope in the aftermath.”


“For your canon-coming-of-age-novel consideration: Meet Elvis Babbitt. A preteen whose mother recently drowned,

Elvis is trying to understand the world around her. Funny and heartfelt, Rabbit Cake manages adult questions with a

tween’s sense of wonder.”

—Marie Claire

“Darkly funny and endlessly smart, Rabbit Cake chases down the quivering heart of familial loss and reminds us there

is no right way to grieve. There’s only showing up for it, and showing up for each other.”


“Annie Hartnett’s Rabbit Cake is fantastically original, a story about loss that expands in such exciting, unpredictable

ways that I found myself completely won over by the unique Babbitt clan. Hartnett has such a gift for absurdity

without ever losing the essential heart of the story. With this novel, she’s become one of my favorite writers.”

—KEVIN WILSON, author of The Family Fang

“Hartnett has written a quirky, slightly magical coming of-age story that will have your heart. Rabbit Cake is an

engaging read and Hartnett is a writer to watch.”

—HEIDI W. DURROW, author of The Girl Who Fell from the Sky

“Heartbreak and dark comedy fuse together in this endearing story of family dysfunction and loss. I cheered for

young Elvis Babbitt and the entire cast of quirky characters as they stumbled along a twisted path toward healing.”

—BETH HOFFMAN, author of Saving CeeCee Honeycutt

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Optimists Die First by Susan Nielsen

Optimists Die First
by Susin Nielsen

Release Date: Februray 21, 2017
Publisher: Wendy Lamb/Random House
Paperback: $17.99

Award-winning author Susin Nielsen has written a laugh-out-loud and heartrending novel for fans of Robyn Schneider’s Extraordinary Means and Cammie McGovern’s Say What You Will

Beware: Life ahead. 
Sixteen-year-old Petula de Wilde is anything but wild. A former crafting fiend with a happy life, Petula shut herself off from the world after a family tragedy. She sees danger in all the ordinary things, like crossing the street, a bug bite, or a germy handshake. She knows: life is out to get you. 
The worst part of her week is her comically lame mandatory art therapy class with a small group of fellow misfits. Then a new boy, Jacob, appears at school and in her therapy group. He seems so normal and confident, though he has a prosthetic arm; and soon he teams up with Petula on a hilarious project, gradually inspiring her to let go of some of her fears. But as the two grow closer, a hidden truth behind why he’s in the group could derail them, unless Petula takes a huge risk. . .
Hit the jump for more!

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Long Way Home by Katie McGarry

Long Way Home (Thunder Road #3) by Katie McGarry

Release Date: January 31, 2017
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Paperback: $18.99

Seventeen-year-old Violet has always been expected to sit back and let the boys do all the saving 

It's the code her father, a member of the Reign of Terror motorcycle club, raised her to live by. Yet when her dad is killed carrying out Terror business, Violet knows it's up to her to do the saving. To protect herself, and her vulnerable younger brother, she needs to cut all ties with the club—including Chevy, the boy she's known and loved her whole life. 

But when a rival club comes after Violet, exposing old secrets and making new threats, she's forced to question what she thought she knew about her father and the Reign of Terror and what she thinks she wants. Which means reevaluating everything: love, family, friends…and forgiveness. 

Caught in the crosshairs between loyalty and freedom, Violet must decide whether old friends can be trusted—and if she's strong enough to be the one person to save them all.
Hit the jump for more!

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Wintersong Blog Tour: Exclusive Excerpt

“This is an exquisitely and lyrically crafted tale of longing, sibling loyalty, and the importance of women in a time when women were so often overlooked. Eerie, unsettling, and, above all, full of music.” —Booklist, STARRED review

“A maze of beauty and darkness, of music and magic and glittering things, all tied together with exquisite writing. This is a world you will want to stay lost in.”—Marie Lu, #1 New York Times bestselling author

Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones

Release Date: February 7, 2017
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Paperback: $18.99

Already one of the most anticipated young adult debuts of 2017, WINTERSONG (Thomas Dunne Books; February 7, 2017) is an enrapturing journey through a 19th century fairytale. A talented debut by S. Jae-Jones, WINTERSONG was inspired by the film Labyrinth and spun together on the threads of song, in a time when young upstart composers like Beethoven were forever altering the sound of music. A story about sisterly devotion and coming of age, Liesl and the Goblin King come alive within the depths of this masterful composition.

All her life, nineteen-year-old Liesl has heard tales of the beautiful, mysterious Goblin King. He is the Lord of Mischief, the Ruler Underground, and the muse around which her music is composed. Yet, as Liesl helps shoulder the burden of running her family’s inn, her dreams of composition and childish fancies about the Goblin King must be set aside in favor of more practical concerns.

But when her sister K├Ąthe is taken by the goblins, Liesl journeys to their realm to rescue her
sister and return her to the world above. Down in the Underground, Liesl discovers that the
Goblin King still inspires her—musically, physically, emotionally. Yet even as her talent
blossoms, Liesl faces an impossible choice. As she grows closer to the Goblin King, both of them must learn just what it is they are each willing to sacrifice: her life, her music, or the end of the world.

With an enchanting winterized cover, WINTERSONG will keep readers cozy while experiencing a chilling adventure like no other. S. Jae-Jones’ richly imagined debut spins a spellbinding tale of music, love, sisterhood, and a young woman’s search for self-actualization.
Hit the jump for an exclusive excerpt!

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Our Own Private Universe by Robin Talley

Our Own Private Universe by Robin Talley

Release Date: January 31, 2017
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Paperback: $18.99

Fifteen-year-old Aki Simon has a theory. And it's mostly about sex. 
No, it isn't that kind of theory. Aki already knows she's bisexual—even if, until now, it's mostly been in the hypothetical sense. Aki has dated only guys so far, and her best friend, Lori, is the only person who knows she likes girls, too. 
Actually, Aki's theory is that she's got only one shot at living an interesting life—and that means she's got to stop sitting around and thinking so much. It's time for her to actually do something. Or at least try. 
So when Aki and Lori set off on a church youth-group trip to a small Mexican town for the summer and Aki meets Christa—slightly older, far more experienced—it seems her theory is prime for the testing. 
But it's not going to be easy. For one thing, how exactly do two girls have sex, anyway? And more important, how can you tell if you're in love? It's going to be a summer of testing theories—and the result may just be love.

About the Author

Robin Talley’s first novel, Lies We Tell Ourselves (Harlequin Teen, 2014), about two girls on the front lines of the school desegregation battle in 1959 Virginia, was on the short list for the CILIP Carnegie Medal and a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award. Her second young adult novel, What We Left Behind (Harlequin Teen, 2015), a contemporary story about love and identity, was called a “must-read” in a starred review from School Library Journal. Her newest novel, As I Descended (Harper Teen, September 2016), is a retelling of Macbeth centering around a girl/girl couple who set out to take down their boarding school’s resident queen bee. In a starred review, Kirkus said, “This adaptation’s bewitching intrigues and enthralling deceptions will whet the daggers of any reader’s mind.” Robin lives in Washington, D.C., with her wife and their daughter, plus an antisocial cat and a goofy hound dog. You can find her on the web at www.robintalley.com or on Twitter at @robin_talley.

Brief Review

Being a teenager inherently comes with questioning one's identity, and there's probably no better author to explore those issues that Robin Talley. As we celebrate the Women's March on Washington today, it's important to look at all of the issues that girls face, including those that Aki and Christa encounter.

Surrounded by religion, Aki doesn't quite know how to understand and express her sexuality. She decides to go with her older brother and her father (who is a minister by the way) on a mission trip to Mexico. There, she begins to realize who she really is and who she wants to be. The book becomes not such a questioning of identity so much as an acceptance, which is rare. 

There are so many LGBTQ issues in the United States right now, so it's nice to see a book out there for young adults who may be facing the same future as Aki. The fact that Aki is African-American also opens the discussion to not only questions of sexuality but those of sexuality and race. 

Overall, Talley's book stands out, not only for its distinct characters, but for its exploration into an issue that is not widely accepted or examined in the real world.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Blog Tour (Spotlight): The Warden's Daughter by Jerry Spinelli

“[A] poignant, coming-of- age story. . . . Spinelli again shows his mastery at evoking a particular time and place while delving into the heart of a troubled adolescent.”—Publishers Weekly

"The prison community is a powerful backdrop for Cammie’s turbulent coming of age, populated with messy lives that brighten in Cammie’s presence but that have their own demons to tame."The Bulletin

Jerry Spinelli, one of the biggest names in children’s literature, offers readers a unique and unforgettable story in THE WARDEN’S DAUGHTER (Knopf Books for Young Readers / on sale January 3, 2017), a novel about a preteen girl finally coming to grips with the pain of losing her mother years earlier. THIS is the must-read book of 2017, and it will haunt your heart and mind long after you have read the final page.

Cammie O’Reilly is the warden’s daughter, living in an apartment above the entrance to the Hancock County Prison. But she’s also living in a prison of grief and anger over the mother who died saving her from harm when she was just a baby. And in the summer of 1959, as twelve turns to thirteen, everything in Cammie’s life seems to be in flux. Cammie’s best friend, Reggie, is discovering lipstick and American Bandstand. A child killer is caught and brought to her prison. And the only mother figures in her life include a flamboyant shoplifter named Boo Boo and a sullen reformed arsonist of a housekeeper named Eloda. All will play a role in Cammie’s coming-of-age. But one in particular will make a staggering sacrifice to ensure that Cammie breaks free from her past.
The New York Times has called Spinelli “a poet of the prepubescent. . . . No writer guides his young characters, and his readers, past these pitfalls and challenges and toward their futures with more compassion.” In THE WARDEN’S DAUGHTER, he masterfully spins a tale of loss, redemption, and love like no other. Not only does this book demonstrate the power of kindness, but it also makes readers realize that kindness can be hidden in the least likely people and places.

About the Author

JERRY SPINELLI is the author of many books for young readers, including Stargirl; Love, Stargirl; Milkweed; Crash; Hokey Pokey; Wringer; and Maniac Magee, winner of the Newbery Medal; along with Knots in My Yo-yo String, his autobiography. A graduate of Gettysburg College, he lives in Pennsylvania with his wife, poet and author Eileen Spinelli. You can follow Jerry on Twitter at @JerrySpinelli1 and visit his website at JerrySpinelli.com

by Jerry Spinelli
An Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers hardcover / On sale January 3, 2017 / 978-0-375-83199-7
352 pages / $16.99 / $22.99 Can. / Ages 9–12 / Ebk: 978-0-553-49463-1 / $10.99
Available as an audiobook from Listening Library.

Fans, Writing, and Jerry Spinelli

Jerry Spinelli Talks The Warden's Daughter