YA Debut Authors Bash 2017: Guest Post with Candace Ganger & Giveaway

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Welcome to my stop on the 2017 Debut Authors Bash hosted by YA Reads! Today on the blog, Candace Ganger gives us a list of some lesser known facts about herself. Before we read the dirt on Candace, let’s take a look at her debut YA novel, The Inevitable Collision of Birdie & Bash. Don’t forget to enter the giveaway at the end of the post to win your own copy of the book.

314506751Title: The Inevitable Collision of Birdie and Bash
Author: Candace Ganger
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Publication Date: July 25, 2017

Summary (from Goodreads): Birdie never meant to be at the party. Bash should have been long gone. But when they meet, a collision course is set off they may never recover from.

Sebastian Alvaréz is just trying to hold the pieces together: to not flunk out, to keep his sort-of-best friend Wild Kyle from doing something really bad, and to see his beloved Ma through chemo. But when he meets Birdie Paxton, a near-Valedictorian who doesn’t realize she’s smoking hot in her science pun T-shirt, at a party, an undeniable attraction sparks. And suddenly he’s not worried about anything. But before they are able to exchange numbers, they are pulled apart. A horrifying tragedy soon links Birdie and Bash together—but neither knows it. When they finally reconnect, and are starting to fall—hard—the events of the tragedy unfold, changing both their lives in ways they can never undo. Told in alternating perspectives, The Inevitable Collision of Birdie & Bash by Candace Ganger is a beautiful, complex, and ultimately hopeful teen novel that will move you to the very last page.

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Top 10 Lesser Known Facts About Candace Ganger, Author of The Inevitable Collision of Birdie & Bash

I have a long list of phobias, including, but not limited to, plastic cups, farm machinery, and bare mattresses. Every day, it seems there’s a new thing I’m terrified of.

I’ve never had an invisible friend, but talk out loud, to myself, 99% of every day.

  1. As an avid mental health advocate and someone who lives with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Post-Traumatic Distress Disorder, and Major Depressive Disorder (yeah, it’s a lot), I’ve been pinching my toes together between passing objects since five years old.
  2. I’ve had a lot of jobs but my least favorites include door-to-door vacuum sales, an annoying telemarketer (sorry), and mortgage company receptionist where I was belittled every day until fired.
  3. In high school, I was in M-Club — a Marion (IN) Giants basketball cheering section where I regularly held signs asking old Coach Moe to marry me (and I see how incredibly inappropriate that is now…yikes).
  4. I performed at a Boys & Girls Club talent show in middle school and walked away with a second place trophy (I think they felt sorry for me).
  5. I eat a mandatory yogurt mixed-with peanut butter and chocolate chips every night before bed.
  6. My first real kiss wasn’t until my sophomore year.
  7. My husband and I met performing at the same open mic.
  8. I didn’t begin running until I turned 31 — a year after my son and I nearly died from his traumatic birth. In the time since, I’ve run 1 ultramarathon, 7 marathons — including Boston — 9 half marathons, and dozens of 5 & 10ks.

View More: http://merindabuchananphotography.pass.us/candaceCandace Ganger is a mother, blogger, contributing writer for sites like Teen Vogue, TWLOHA, Bustle, Romper, XO Jane & Hello Giggles. She’s also an obsessive marathoner and continual worrier (yay!). Her debut YA novel, THE INEVITABLE COLLISION OF BIRDIE & BASH, is out now via St. Martin’s Griffin, and she’s part of a YA mental health anthology, LIFE INSIDE MY MIND, out April 10th, 2018 via S&S. Her forthcoming YA novel from St. Martin’s Wednesday Books, FALLEN LOVED ONES AWAITING TRANSFER (#float) doesn’t have a pub date yet, but will soon!

When she’s not writing for other people’s fame or stress baking, you can find her training for marathons in cemeteries or taming her two weird kids (not to be confused with her two weird cats) while consuming way too many Milky Way lattes. You can follow her obsessive cat picture posting shenanigans via @candylandgang on Twitter!

Website | Twitter

Giveaway:

Enter to win a copy of The Inevitable Collision of Birdie and Bash by Candace Ganger! Rules.

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Make sure to check out all of the other stops along the Bash!

Friday Reads #36: Meet Cute by Various Authors

Friday Reads

Book Beginnings is a book meme hosted by Rose City Reader where participants share the first sentence (or so) of the book, along with initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires.

The Friday 56 is hosted by Freda’s Voice, and the rules are quite simple: Grab a book, any book, and turn to page 56 or 56% in your e-reader. Find any non-spoilery sentence(s) and post.

This week’s book:

33503607Title: Meet Cute
Authors: Various
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: January 2, 2018

Summary (form Goodreads): Whether or not you believe in fate, or luck, or love at first sight, every romance has to start somewhere. MEET CUTE is an anthology of original short stories featuring tales of “how they first met” from some of today’s most popular YA authors.

Readers will experience Nina LaCour’s beautifully written piece about two Bay Area girls meeting via a cranky customer service Tweet, Sara Shepard’s glossy tale about a magazine intern and a young rock star, Nicola Yoon’s imaginative take on break-ups and make-ups, Katie Cotugno’s story of two teens hiding out from the police at a house party, and Huntley Fitzpatrick’s charming love story that begins over iced teas at a diner. There’s futuristic flirting from Kass Morgan and Katharine McGee, a riveting transgender heroine from Meredith Russo, a subway missed connection moment from Jocelyn Davies, and a girl determined to get out of her small town from Ibi Zoboi. Jennifer Armentrout writes a sweet story about finding love from a missing library book, Emery Lord has a heartwarming and funny tale of two girls stuck in an airport, Dhonielle Clayton takes a thoughtful, speculate approach to pre-destined love, and Julie Murphy dreams up a fun twist on reality dating show contestants.

This incredibly talented group of authors brings us a collection of stories that are at turns romantic and witty, epic and everyday, heartbreaking and real.

Goodreads | Book Depository | Amazon

I am loving this anthology so far! It is, as the title hints, very adorable, and there is so much variety. This is the perfect book to warm your heart this winter, and I can’t wait to keep reading and see what else is in store.

Book Beginning:

The Department of Dead Love looks nothing at all like I expected. For instance, Cupid is not hanging by his entrails out front, bow and quiver lying cracked in a pool of viscous, semisweet pink fluids.

Friday 56:

“You’ll have to relive the whole relationship and then you’ll have to relive the moment it ended. It’s intense for most people.”

 

Book Blitz & Giveaway: Ice Kingdom by Tiana Warner

Ice Kingdom
Tiana Warner
(Mermaids of Eriana Kwai, #3)
Publication date: December 11th 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult

The final adventure in the Mermaids of Eriana Kwai trilogy …

Meela and Lysi have unleashed Sisiutl, legendary two-headed serpent of the Pacific Northwest. It was supposed to be an ally that would help them win the war. Instead, it has fallen under the control of King Adaro, ruler of the Pacific Ocean. If Meela and Lysi can’t stop him, Adaro will use the deadly serpent to rid the oceans of mankind.

With the American military using catastrophic weapons of their own to retaliate, Meela and Lysi must make peace between humans and merpeople before one race destroys the other. The journey will risk their lives and put their relationship to the test—but the vengeance that has been consuming Meela’s thoughts, day and night, might prove even more dangerous.

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**Read the first book in the trilogy for FREE: download at http://bit.ly/siandmeela until Dec 25th!**

EXCERPT:

Somewhere on the Pacific Ocean

The young man aimed his crossbow at the water, ready to fire a bolt of solid iron at the first glimpse of flesh beneath the surface.

“Sir,” he said, “shouldn’t we have seen one by now?”

The captain turned his back to the salty wind, jaw tight. “They know we’re here.”

“So what are they doing?”

He followed the captain’s gaze. Blackness merged with the empty grey horizon in every direction. A long silence passed, filled only by gentle swells lapping against the ship.

The captain drew his own crossbow.

“Forming a plan.”

All twenty men aboard the ship readied their weapons, reacting in a chain until the last man at the stern took steady aim at the waves.

“Make ready your iron, men,” shouted the captain. “We have ripples approaching off the port side.”

A handful of places in the water puckered, as if something lingered just below the surface. The sea was too black to tell.

Then it happened. Fifty, maybe sixty sea demons burst from the water and slammed against the ship. The men wasted no time. They reacted with trained speed and agility as the demons thrust stones and jagged shells into the wood, both to break holes in the ship and to scale the sides. The men picked them off with bolts of iron and watched them fall one by one back into the sea.

But they were outnumbered. Soon the demons were upon the ship, pulling themselves across the deck with bony arms.

The young man had already shot a dozen and the water reddened with each passing second.

Slow scraping sounds threatened him from behind. He whirled around, crossbow ready. Burning eyes met his, and sharp teeth, bared to rip into his flesh. He gripped the trigger, felt the bow tighten—

And the demon was gone. The young man stared into the wide gaze of a girl his own age. With a startled cry, he jerked his aim so the bolt barely missed her.

She held a black shell in her hand, sharp at the edges and ready to use as a club. But she didn’t raise it. She just looked at him.

He lowered his crossbow.

Her blonde hair fell heavily over her shoulders, dripping beads of water down her naked chest and stomach, pooling where her torso joined her tail.

He blinked, but made no other motion—where her torso joined her tail. Scales faded into flesh like some sort of beautiful, green and tan sunset.

She pulled herself closer.

“Stay back,” said the young man, unsure what prompted him to hesitate.

He looked into her eyes—emeralds surrounded by pearl white—where moments ago they had burned red. Her sharp teeth had retracted behind rosy lips. The seaweed-coloured flesh of her upper body was now olive and raised with goose bumps from the icy wind.

“Hanu aii,” she whispered. Do not fear. She spoke his language.

He loosened his grip on the crossbow, studying her. She lifted a frail arm and pushed the hair from her eyes, then motioned him forwards.

His pulse quickened as he stared at the beautiful girl.

“Hanu aii,” she said again, her voice resonating sweetly, as if she sang without singing.

Suddenly, he was kneeling in front of her, level with her luminous eyes. The sounds around him faded but for the soft purr in the base of her throat.

She reached up and held an icy hand to his cheek, not for a moment breaking eye contact. The hand slid behind his head and pulled his face towards hers, slowly but firmly. He inhaled her sweet breath.

“No!”

He flinched. He turned to see the captain racing towards them, aiming his crossbow at the maiden.

The young man grasped the scene around him. The ship was empty. A few stray weapons and barrels bobbed serenely in the water. Blood soaked the deck in places, and even the main mast had a splatter across the bottom.

The captain fired wide. Before he could reload and aim again, the sea demon put a hand on the young man’s chin and pulled his gaze back to hers.

Her eyes blazed red. Her skin rippled into the rotten colour of seaweed. Her ears grew pointed and long like sprouting coral. She opened her mouth to reveal a row of deadly teeth.

The young man screamed.

The demon pulled him against her with more strength than three men combined, and they dove headfirst off the side of the ship.

They disappeared into the blood-red water.

 

Author Bio:

Tiana Warner is the best selling author of the Mermaids of Eriana Kwai trilogy. Her books have been acclaimed by Writer’s Digest, Foreword Reviews, and the Dante Rossetti Awards. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from the University of British Columbia. Tiana enjoys riding her horse, Bailey, and is an active supporter of animal welfare.

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Wishlist Wednesday #133: The Beauty That Remains by Ashley Woodfolk

Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

Can’t-Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by  Wishful Endings, to spotlight and discuss the books we’re excited about and have yet to read.

This week’s book:

29736467Title: The Beauty That Remains
Author: Ashley Woodfolk
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Publication Date: March 6, 2018

Summary (from Goodreads): Music brought Autumn, Shay, and Logan together. Death wants to tear them apart.

Autumn always knew exactly who she was—a talented artist and a loyal friend. Shay was defined by two things: her bond with her twin sister, Sasha, and her love of music. And Logan always turned to writing love songs when his love life was a little less than perfect.

But when tragedy strikes each of them, somehow music is no longer enough. Now Logan can’t stop watching vlogs of his dead ex-boyfriend. Shay is a music blogger struggling to keep it together. And Autumn sends messages that she knows can never be answered.

Each of them wonders: How different would my life be if this hadn’t happened? And now that it has . . . what’s next?

Goodreads | Amazon

I have a feeling from that synopsis that this book is going to be one that brings on all the tears. I really enjoy the theme of music in a novel, and it shall be interesting to find out if music does end up helping these characters in the end.  Also, is that cover not absolutely gorgeous?

Review: The Afterlife of Holly Chase by Cynthia Hand

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Title: The Afterlife of Holly Chase
Author: Cynthia Hand
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: October 24, 2017
Stars: 4/5

Summary (from Goodreads): On Christmas Eve five years ago, Holly was visited by three ghosts who showed her how selfish and spoiled she’d become. They tried to convince her to mend her ways.

She didn’t.

And then she died.

Now she’s stuck working for the top-secret company Project Scrooge–as the latest Ghost of Christmas Past.

Every year, they save another miserly grouch. Every year, Holly stays frozen at seventeen while her family and friends go on living without her. So far, Holly’s afterlife has been miserable.

But this year, everything is about to change. . . .

Goodreads | Book Depository | Amazon

The Afterlife of Holly Chase truly surprised me. This is an original story based on the classic A Christmas Carol where the main character works for a company trying to save Scrooges every year. I found the main character to be likeable, even though she is intended to be dislikable, and I loved reading about the secrets at Project Scrooge. This is such a festive book that will definitely get the reader in the Christmas spirit.

This book has such an original concept! Basically, a spoiled rich girl is killed and wakes up to learn that she is the new Ghost of Christmas Past. Frozen in time, she must work for an organization dedicated to changing the ways of modern Scrooges for the better. I really enjoyed the complexity of Holly’s afterlife and how believable Project Scrooge is. The book is also witty, making it more fun than a typical retelling of A Christmas Carol.

Normally, I am not a fan of dislikable characters, purposeful or not, but I actually really enjoyed Holly’s character. She starts off pretty snobby, and is actually a failed Scrooge, but she really transforms as the story progresses. Holly’s snarky attitude and witty retorts are hilarious, and I loved her sass. She is also pretty daring and willing to do whatever it takes to follow her heart, which is such a nice characteristic.

What I most enjoyed about The Afterlife of Holly Chase is the fact that it isn’t a generic retelling of A Christmas Carol. It takes the idea of the original story and creates something entirely new. Every character assumes the role of one of the classic characters for the mission every year, and the book focuses more on the behind the scenes work at Project Scrooge. Also, the main character isn’t actually Scrooge, which I thought was a nice twist. This book is unlike any A Christmas Carol retelling you will ever read, and I would definitely recommend it this holiday season.

The Afterlife of Holly Chase is an inventive story based on A Christmas Carol. I loved the sassy main character and the various twists on the original story. If you are looking for something different to read this winter, this is the perfect book to pick up.

 

Cover Reveal & Giveaway: Alien Minds by Christina Bauer

Alien Minds
Christina Bauer
(Dimension Drift, #1)
Published by: Monster House Books
Publication date: November 27th 2018
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult

Meimi Archer is living the perfect life. Too bad it isn’t hers.

On my seventeenth birthday, I wake up in the hospital to find I just survived a sketchy but terrible accident. My parents stand by my bedside—both are beautiful, wealthy, and super-nice. They tell me that once I leave the hospital, I’ll attend the prestigious ECHO Academy, where I’ll churn out equations for the government along with my mega-smart peers.

So, I’m living the perfect life.

Then why does everything feel all wrong?

My parents, my house and even ECHO Academy…none of it fits. Plus, what’s up with Thorne, my brooding yet yummy classmate who keeps telling me I need to remember my true past, which seems to have included a lot of us kissing? That’s one thing I’d really like to remember, except for the fact that I’m pretty sure Thorne is hiding a ton of nasty secrets of his own, including the fact that he may not be from this world. But considering how my own past seems alien to me, it’s not like I can judge. Plus, Thorne has dimples. That’s a problem.

And worst of all, why does it feel so yucky to work on these calculations for the government? It’s all supposed to be part of ECHO, but my heart tells me that I’m helping something truly terrible come to pass. Thorne seems to think that kissing him again will release my real memories.

Maybe it’s time to pucker up.

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Author Bio:

Christina Bauer knows how to tell stories about kick-ass women. In her best selling Angelbound series, the heroine is a part-demon girl who loves to fight in Purgatory’s Arena and falls in love with a part-angel prince. This young adult best seller has driven more than 500,000 ebook downloads and 9,000 reviews on Goodreads and retailers.

Bauer has also told the story of the Women’s March on Washington by leading PR efforts for the Massachusetts Chapter. Her pre-event press release—the only one sent out on a major wire service—resulted in more than 19,000 global impressions and redistribution by over 350 different media entities including the Associated Press.

Christina graduated from Syracuse University’s Newhouse School with BA’s in English along with Television, Radio, and Film Production. She lives in Newton, MA with her husband, son, and semi-insane golden retriever, Ruby.

Stalk Christina on Social Media – She Loves It!

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Friday Reads #35: Someone to Love by Melissa de la Cruz

Friday Reads

Book Beginnings is a book meme hosted by Rose City Reader where participants share the first sentence (or so) of the book, along with initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires.

The Friday 56 is hosted by Freda’s Voice, and the rules are quite simple: Grab a book, any book, and turn to page 56 or 56% in your e-reader. Find any non-spoilery sentence(s) and post.

This week’s book:

35685590Title: Someone to Love
Author: Melissa de la Cruz
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publication Date: January 1, 2018

Summary (from Goodreads): 

Look for the haunting and powerful new novel from Melissa de la Cruz, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Isle of the Lost and Something in Between 

Constantly in the spotlight thanks to her politician father’s rising star, Olivia Blakely feels the pressure to be perfect. As the youngest girl in her class, she tries hard to keep up and to seem mature to the older boy she’s crushing on, even as she catches his eye. But the need to look good on camera and at school soon grows into an all-consuming struggle with bulimia.

As Liv works toward her goal of gaining early admission to art school, including taking part in an upcoming student show, her life spirals out of control. Swept up in demands to do more than she’s ready for, to always look perfect and to succeed, Liv doesn’t know who she is anymore. It will take nearly losing her best friend and even her life for Liv to learn that loving herself is far more important than earning the world’s approval.

Goodreads | Book Depository | Amazon

The theme of this book is one that is very hard-hitting. It has been a long time since I have read a YA novel that digs deep into eating disorders. I am about 30% into this one so far, and while I am not liking the main character and her choices, I am definitely empathizing with her.

Book Beginning:

The stall door won’t shut all the way. What the hell kind of bathroom doors does our school have?

Friday 56:

We each share a secret now. I hope she forgets by tomorrow.

ARC Review: Prince in Disguise by Stephanie Kate Strohm

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Title: Prince in Disguise
Author: Stephanie Kate Strohm
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Publication Date: December 19, 2017
Stars: 4.5/5

Summary (from Goodreads): Someday I want to live in a place where I never hear “You’re Dusty’s sister?” ever again.
Life is real enough for Dylan—especially as the ordinary younger sister of Dusty, former Miss Mississippi and the most perfect, popular girl in Tupelo. But when Dusty wins the hand of the handsome Scottish laird-to-be Ronan on the TRC television network’s crown jewel, Prince in Disguise, Dylan has to face a different kind of reality: reality TV.

As the camera crew whisks them off to Scotland to film the lead-up to the wedding, camera-shy Dylan is front and center as Dusty’s maid of honor. The producers are full of surprises—including old family secrets, long-lost relatives, and a hostile future mother-in-law who thinks Dusty and Dylan’s family isn’t good enough for her only son. At least there’s Jamie, an adorably bookish groomsman who might just be the perfect antidote to all Dylan’s stress . . . if she just can keep TRC from turning her into the next reality show sensation.

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I am always a sucker for books about royalty, so I knew I would love Prince in Disguise the moment I saw it. This story is all about a reality TV show set in Scotland and contains a likeable main character. This book makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside, making it perfect for the winter.

This book has such an original concept! The main character’s sister is getting married to a (barely) prince, and the wedding and the planning are all being aired on a reality TV show. Dylan wants nothing to do with the cameras and the fake reactions, but she has to deal with them as her sister’s maid of honour. The plot thickens as the production crew uncovers some of her secrets and turns her life into the subplot of the show. I enjoyed how the book portrayed life as a reality TV star and shows how hard it is to have everything about you shown on screen. I really sympathized with Dylan and her strict contract.

Since Dylan’s sister marries Scottish royalty, the wedding is set in Scotland. I haven’t read too many books set there, but I would definitely love to see more. I adored the descriptions of the castle and its secret passageways and the frequent use of Scottish slang. There is also some traditional Scottish dancing and food, which was so interesting to read about. After reading this book, I would definitely like to go visit Scotland.

I enjoyed Dylan’s character in Prince in Disguise. She has a sense of humour and is pretty sarcastic. She also has a strong relationship with her sister, and they stick up for one another. I loved how Dylan wants to make her sister happy on her special day and is supportive of her decisions, even if they aren’t what she would have done. Dylan is just such a relatable character, and reading about her misadventures is so entertaining.

Prince in Disguise is a witty and adorable story set in picturesque Scotland. I loved the main character and the bond between sisters. If you enjoyed books like The Selection, you will love this one!

I received an e-ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Wishlist Wednesday #132: Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson

Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

Can’t-Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by  Wishful Endings, to spotlight and discuss the books we’re excited about and have yet to read.

This week’s book:

29589074Title: Truly Devious
Author: Maureen Johnson
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication Date: January 16, 2018

Summary (from Goodreads): 

New York Times bestselling author Maureen Johnson weaves a delicate tale of murder and mystery in the first book of a striking new series, perfect for fans of Agatha Christie and E. Lockhart.

Ellingham Academy is a famous private school in Vermont for the brightest thinkers, inventors, and artists. It was founded by Albert Ellingham, an early twentieth century tycoon, who wanted to make a wonderful place full of riddles, twisting pathways, and gardens. “A place,” he said, “where learning is a game.”

Shortly after the school opened, his wife and daughter were kidnapped. The only real clue was a mocking riddle listing methods of murder, signed with the frightening pseudonym “Truly, Devious.” It became one of the great unsolved crimes of American history.

True-crime aficionado Stevie Bell is set to begin her first year at Ellingham Academy, and she has an ambitious plan: She will solve this cold case. That is, she will solve the case when she gets a grip on her demanding new school life and her housemates: the inventor, the novelist, the actor, the artist, and the jokester. But something strange is happening. Truly Devious makes a surprise return, and death revisits Ellingham Academy. The past has crawled out of its grave. Someone has gotten away with murder.

The two interwoven mysteries of this first book in the Truly Devious series dovetail brilliantly, and Stevie Bell will continue her relentless quest for the murderers in books two and three.

Goodreads | Book Depository | Amazon

This sounds like exactly my kind of book! I love the boarding school setting, and I always appreciate a good crime story. It is so interesting how the school is filled with riddles and set up for artists and geniuses. Truly Devious sounds kind of like The Amateurs and We Were Liars, and I am excited to see how it turns out. I can’t wait for its release next month!

Book Blitz & Giveaway: The Upside of Falling Down by Rebekah Crane

The Upside of Falling Down
Rebekah Crane
(Skyscape)
Publication date: January 30th 2018
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult

For Clementine Haas, finding herself is more than a nice idea. Ever since she woke up in an Irish hospital with complete amnesia, self-discovery has become her mission.

They tell her she’s the lone survivor of a plane crash. They tell her she’s lucky to be alive. But she doesn’t feel lucky. She feels…lost.

With the relentless Irish press bearing down on her, and a father she may not even recognize on his way from America to take her home, Clementine assumes a new identity and enlists a blue-eyed Irish stranger, Kieran O’Connell, to help her escape her forgotten life…and start a new one.

Hiding out in the sleepy town of Waterville, Ireland, Clementine discovers there’s an upside to a life that’s fallen apart. But as her lies grow, so does her affection for Kieran, and the truth about her identity becomes harder and harder to reveal, forcing Clementine to decide: Can she leave her past behind for a new love she’ll never forget?

Goodreads / Amazon

EXCERPT:

My composure cracks when I’m safely tucked in a stall in the bathroom. Everything shifts, my real need coming into focus, like a caged bird that knows it doesn’t want to live behind bars anymore.

I need to get out of here.

How can I see my dad and not love him? What is wrong with me? Everything I thought would happen hasn’t.

I press my sweaty head against the cool stall door. I wish I could be who Stephen wants me to be, a fearless girl willing to fight through this. More importantly, I wish I could be who my dad wants me to be. Clementine Haas. But I can’t. To go home with him like this would mean that every day he’ll wake up and want Clementine there, and instead, every day it will be me—whoever I am. We’ll both live in a constant state of disappointment.

I can save him from that.

I come out of the stall, focusing on myself in the mirror.

“Jane,” I say to my reflection. “I’m Jane.”

Stephen surely won’t help me get out of here. He wants to keep me safe in the hospital, which is still surrounded by camera crews and reporters. But there’s another way.

The hallway is clear of my dad and Stephen when I poke my head out from the bathroom. My heart races as I walk swiftly away from my room and toward the staircase at the other end of the hall. Once the door closes behind me, and I’m safely tucked out of sight in the stairwell, a moment of relief comes, but it’s brief.

The railing keeps me steady as I make my way down the steps and onto the first floor. My legs are weak, slow, but it’s not an option to stop at this point. Stop and I get caught. Move and I might find freedom.

In the courtyard, Kieran sits at the table where I left him, his feet up on the bench, a book in his hands. I check out the cover. It’s clearly a romance novel.

“You like romance novels, too,” I say. “We have something in common. Though I wouldn’t peg you as a romantic.”

“I’m full of surprises.” He squints in the sunlight. “I’ve never understood why guys go for fast cars and guns when these books have fast women and sex.”

“Honesty again. That’s a good thing.”

Kieran dog-ears the page he’s on and closes the book, setting it down on the table. “You ran away from the dare.”

“I didn’t run away.” I take back my seat. “I had to do something.”

“What was that?”

“It doesn’t matter. I’m ready now.”

“Are you sure, Jane?”

Kieran is just full of good questions, but debating the answer with myself would take too much time.

“Jane Middleton,” I say, holding out my hand. “That’s my last name.”

“Very royal sounding.” He places his warm hand in mine and says, “Kieran O’Connell. It’s nice to meet you.”

“Very Irish sounding, Kieran O’Connell.”

“Half-Irish, on my mother’s side.”

“And your dad?” I ask.

“Technically, he’s British, but he’s more asshole than anything.”

“Honesty again.” I reach for the last container of Jell-O on his tray. “I’m ready for my dare. Spoon, please.”

Kieran holds one up but doesn’t hand it over. “Are you sure you want to do this, Jane? It’s pig and cow parts.”

This is so much more than Jell-O. This is my life he’s holding in front of me.

“Where’s Waterville?” I ask, pointing to his hat.

“South of here a few hours.”

“Is it by Cork?” I ask, remembering the map and trying to sound like I know a thing or two.

“Not exactly. A bit more west.”

“Is that where you live?”

“For the summer months.”

I point to his T-shirt. “Then you go back to Trinity College?”

“Yep.”

“And where is that?”

“It’s in Dublin.” Kieran looks at me oddly. “Have you not heard of Trinity College?”

“Of course, I have. I just forgot for a second. It’s in Dublin. Right.”

“What about you?” he asks. “Are you on break from college as well?”

The question throws me. I have no idea if Clementine is in college. But I’m also not sure it matters. The part of me that keeps searching for Clementine needs a break. Jane can be whoever she wants. “Yeah, sure,” I say.

“What are you studying?”

“Undecided,” I say quickly. “You?”

Kieran rolls his eyes. “Business.”

“You don’t sound happy about that.”

“Not everything in life can be happy, Jane.”

The spoon rests in Kieran’s hand. No, sometimes life beats you down. Sometimes life deserts you, and your only choice is to find another path. “Are you going to give me that spoon or what?”

“You know, you don’t have to do this,” he says. His blue eyes hold mine. He knows this is more than just Jell-O, too. That’s what a dare does. It taunts you to take a different direction, to do something you never thought you could do, to jump, knowing that a million consequences could be on the other side of that dare, but that if you don’t do it, you’ll always wonder. And sometimes wondering is worse than consequences.

“I’m doing it,” I say. And I shovel a spoonful of pig and cow parts into my mouth.

Kieran sits back, a broad grin growing on his face. When I’ve eaten the container clean, he claps.

“I wasn’t sure you had it in you.”

I have to choke down the last bits of Jell-O, then I put my empty container on the tray with his, only partly satisfied.

“Why are you here?” I ask. “It can’t possibly be for pig and cow parts.”

“I come up to volunteer. Help out my fellow man and all. The food is just an added bonus.”

“That’s nice of you.”

“People need help,” Kieran says coolly. “It’s the least I can do.”

“People do need help,” I agree. “And now it’s my turn.”

“For what?”

“Truth or dare?” I say.

A glimmer comes to Kieran’s eyes. “That’s my line of questioning.”

“It’s not fair that I answer the question and you don’t.”

“Life isn’t fair, Jane. It’s all Jell-O, remember.”

I lean across the table. “Are you chicken or something?”

My confidence is surprising. Kieran seems to bring out something natural in me, or maybe he brings out more faith that the girl I was is still with me, just waiting to come out. Our eyes are fixed on each other’s. Kieran crosses his arms over his chest.

The clucking starts first. Then I start to flap my arms like chicken wings. Kieran glances around at all the other tables, and then he starts to laugh.

“OK. OK.” He holds up his hands in surrender.

But as soon as the clucking stops, someone drops an entire tray of dishes onto the concrete sidewalk. They break with a loud crash. I startle, freezing in my seat. It chokes the breath right out of me. A head rush comes on so suddenly that I’m worried I’ll faint right in front of him. Blood sinks to my feet. My hands go clammy. I start to sweat.

“Are you OK, Jane?”

Kieran talks, but I can’t see him. My head rests in my hands. Sound reverberates through me, and an intense pain creeps up behind my eyes. For a second, I swear I feel someone grab my hand. I expect to see fingers intertwined with mine, but they’re gone, and I’m left with a horrible empty feeling inside my chest.

“Are you OK?” Kieran asks again.

“I’m fine.” If I faint, this is over. With ragged breath and shaking hands that he can’t see under the table, I say, “Truth or dare, Kieran?”

“We don’t have to do this.”

“Truth or dare?” I say again more forcefully.

Kieran shakes his head. “It’s a Catch-22. Neither is easy. They both have consequences.”

“Do I have to start clucking again?”

He pauses for too long, and then he says, “Fine. Dare.”

The blood returns to my hands and head. The sweat dries on my forehead. This time, my voice doesn’t shake as I speak.

“I dare you to get me the hell out of here.”

 

Author Bio:

Rebekah Crane is the author of three young-adult novels—Playing Nice, Aspen, and The Odds of Loving Grover Cleveland. She found a passion for young-adult literature while studying secondary English education at Ohio University. After having two kids and living and teaching in six different cities, Rebekah finally settled in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains to write novels and work on screenplays. She now spends her day carpooling kids or tucked behind a laptop at 7,500 feet, where the altitude only enhances the writing experience.

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