United by Heather Young-Nichols

I was thrilled to return to Heather Young-Nichols’ world of Grounded with the second book in the series, United. Picking up where Grounded left off, we jump right into action that leaves you eagerly turning the pages as some jaw-dropping drama unfolds.

I have to say, I loved this book! I just love Alyssum and her spontaneity and snark. I love the relationships she has with others, from her love interest, Jensen to her best friend, Aric, and also newcomer, Sloane. Heather has a way of creating such relatable characters that you can’t help but be engrossed in their lives from start to finish. Without spoiling anything, there’s a particular scene that shocked me, like I was yelling whoa!, and some might hate it, but I love drama and angst and being left with my mouth agape.

The unique premise of a war between Gremalians (gremlins) and Gobel (goblins) is an unexpected treat for those who like paranormal since books about these types of creatures are a rarity. I highly recommend United for those who enjoy sarcastic, witty female leads and a fresh take on paranormal stories.

Links: Amazon, Barnes&Noble, iTunes, Kobo

 

I was fortunate to be able to interview Heather about the Grounded series. I do hope you enjoy the interview!

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1. Would you rather be Gremalian or Gobel? Hmmmm…I think Gremalian but that may be because I’ve spent more time in their world than the Gobel world. But also the Gremalian were more accepting of a human in their world than I think the Gobel would be so, to me, that means they are more open.

2. Jensen or Aric? Gah! What a choice. I’m going to go with Jensen. Possibly because I picture Zac Efron when I wrote both of these stories but also, he’s just my kind of guy. Aric is great but it’s Jensen for me.

3. Who is your favorite Bramble brother? Stone. He made me laugh so much, even in scenes that didn’t end up in the book. For me Stone is that perfect combination of funny and serious where the other brothers are either too serious (Kale) or too laid back (Lake).

4. Describe Alyssum in three words. Stubborn, brave, growing

5. What was your favorite scene to write in United? I have 2. The first is when Alyssum is rescued by Sloane because I had no idea that someone was going to rescue her until I wrote it and I really didn’t know it was going to be a human who would become important. The other is when the group tries to teach Sloane to use a Taser. I’m not sure why that was so fun for me but I giggled when she had a much easier time trying to shoot Jensen with it than she did Aric. I think it told me exactly what was developing between the two.

6. Who do you think would protect you better? Jensen, Aric, or Alyssum? Aric. No question. Jensen focuses on trying to do what’s right which is why he didn’t go with Alyssum at the end of Grounded. He thought she wouldn’t go without him, which of course he was wrong, but that wasn’t protecting her. Alyssum is too spontaneous. She doesn’t think things through and sometimes gets people hurt. But Aric…whether he agrees with you or not he is going to be there to protect you or die trying.

7. What should readers know about the Grounded series? It started as a joke. A friend and I had just read a great book that featured creatures not really represented in books. As a joke I told her I was going to write a book about Gremlins and Goblins. We laughed and laughed then grew quiet. More seriously I said, “I’m going to write a book about Gremlins and Goblins.” By the end of the afternoon Grounded was plotted out as much as I plot anything.

8. Do you write with or without music? Unfortunately without. If I do have music playing it has to be instrumental because otherwise I spend my time singing the songs instead of writing.

9. When do you write? I write whenever I can. I have time set aside to do it but if the opportunity arises at a time I didn’t plan, I just go with it.

10. What’s next on your publishing calendar? It looks like a NA contemporary romance will be next. After the summer romance anthology I’m a part of for charity.

Special thanks to Heather for this interview!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Heather Young-Nichols has been writing since she was little. After a life hiatus from all things fun, she returned in full force and hasn’t stopped since. It’s unusual to find her without her computer, a book or her kindle unless she’s spending time with her family. And the real fun comes out during baseball season. Then, all bets are off. Heather grew up in Saginaw, Michigan and graduated from Saginaw Valley State University with a degree in Sociology. Although she’s currently living in the country, she’s always been more of a city girl.

Author links: AmazonWebsiteFacebookTwitter

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Blues Harp Green by Nicole Schubert

All seventeen-year-old Francie Mills wants is to make it to nationals in tennis, because to her, tennis fixes everything. It helps her forget about her alcoholic father and timid mother, and a life where she feels so small. After a knee injury halts her budding tennis career, Francie finds her home life harder to deal with than ever, that is, until musician Chet Jones gives Francie something she didn’t know she needed, a safe person to talk to, one who understands what she’s going through.

In a story about finding friendship in unexpected people and coping with the affects of alcoholism, Blues Harp Green is a stunning debut novel from award-winning screen-writer Nicole Schubert that’ll linger with you long after you close the book.

I was sucked into Francie Mills’, aka FM on the Radio Dial’s, world from the first page, and it kept me up well into the night. I adored Francie and Chet’s friendship, particularly their emails and video chats and how well they connected. The characters came alive in a way that had me reminiscing about my own young adulthood, and the whole story messed me up in a good way. Schubert writes such likeable characters that you can’t even hate them when you want to. Even one particularly annoying character grew on me in the end.

If you love stories that shine light on dark issues, coming of age stories with a focus on new experiences, friendships, and love, and stories that refuse to let you go long after they’re over, then Blues Harp Green is the novel for you. Both young and young-at-heart will enjoy this story.

 

I had the pleasure of interviewing Nicole Schubert about Blues Harp Green and her writing life. I had so much fun getting a peek into her mind and how Blues Harp Green came to be. I hope you enjoy! You can get your copy of Blues Harp Green on Amazon.

1. Without spoiling too much, what was your favorite scene to write in Blues Harp Green?

I loved writing the last scene of the book, when Francie discovers a smidgeon of hope and writes about it in her diary (that she hates to write in). It’s bittersweet but personally cathartic as I can relate to Francie’s love and family experiences, so it was like I was finding a glimmer of hope too, which is why it was my favorite. I also loved writing the scene in Austin when Francie meets Chet. It was exciting to discover who Francie and Chet were to each other, the magic spark and why they connected.

2. Describe Francie Mills in three words.

Self-doubting, determined, dreamer.

3. Were there any particular musical inspirations behind Chet Jones and Blues Harp Jones?

Yes! Chet, the band, and their music are a mix of several inspirations. First, I was inspired by this pop band from Sarajevo (Bosnia) called Plavi Orkestar. I met them at a music festival in Sopot, Poland. They had an innocence about them but also the music spoke of love and a deeper emotional connection, a yearning, even though it was simple. They were wildly popular in their country. That combined with brilliant humor and how cute they were, made them easy targets for my imagination and Chet’s songwriting. The way I imagined Chet’s song “Louisa, Hey,” and how it was about a girl he loved, was inspired by Plavi Orkestar’s “Suada,”  “Kaja,” and “Bolje Biti Pijan Nego Star.” I also imagined Chet and the band’s music to have a little punk and ska—punk because Chet has a darker, angry side. And ska because it’s playful, has humor and adds depth to the music. Also, the inspiration for the Jones brother’s Uncle Pete, a music agent in the story, is the late Ian Copeland, who was the agent for The Police, Sting and a bunch of punk bands in the 80s (he was also the brother of Stewart Copeland, drummer of The Police), so I imagined that Chet got some punk and ska inspiration from Uncle Pete. Also, I think Chet is obsessed with studying the greats of guitar because he is so passionate about music, so he listens to Robert Johnson, which I got from reading the autobiographies of Keith Richards and Eric Clapton. Lastly, I have a crush on Jack White and his music so that also influenced how I wrote Chet and the band.

Here’s a video of Plavi Orkestar for your amusemement:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zraVg1KU_Ac

4. What character did you most relate to in the novel?

Francie! I can totally relate to Francie. Falling in love with cute, deep boys in bands that I feel magically connected to and who I wish would take me away and save me and make everything fabulous and wildly fun too…right here! Also, I grew up in a family torn apart by alcoholism. Pretty much that’s why I even wrote this book…to get that out there and maybe connect with other people with the same experience and offer a glimmer of hope. Plus, I played tennis. So, yeah, I really relate to Francie!

5. Apart from Francie, who was your favorite character to write?

Stella! I loved writing Stella. She is so opinionated and says what she means and isn’t afraid and goes for what she wants. She’s also slightly weird, in a good way, like she’ll tongue kiss the phone when Facetiming her boyfriend or she’ll design cool weird music video sets, just because. Also, she gets Francie and knows when to give her space and when to push. Ultimately, Stella helps give Francie confidence by example and by being a loving friend.

6. What’s your favorite quote from the novel?

This is difficult! I guess the quote from Francie’s diary entry that is also the epigraph of the book:

 Sometimes you meet someone. And they look at you and it’s a thing. Like, somewhere inside you that is touched. Like your soul. That poetic memory thing. And it’s like you were always connected. You’ve always known each other. Now. And before. And forever in the future. And it’s like you were always traveling together through the galaxy and different universes. And your souls are connected always without time. And you love that person. And they love you. And sometimes they just make you happy for a minute. And then they’re gone. In this now, this life. But that knowing of the connection makes you know everything will be okay. ―FRANCIE MILLS

 7. Where do you find your writing inspiration?

Somewhere between and including my heart and my bellybutton. And whatever comes out of the ether. Also, some writers and books and movies in particular, like Oscar Wilde, John Hughes, JD Salinger, Neil Simon, Franny & Zooey, Loves of a Blonde.

8. When do you write? 

Late morning.

9. If you could tell your readers one thing, what would it be?

It’s hard to pick one thing, but I can get it in one sentence: Go where the love and laughter is, where life flows easily and doors open, and to concerts, and be in the space where your heart does a happy dance several times a day.

10. Which band mate from Blues Harp Jones would you have hung out with as a teen?

Chet! I would’ve been madly in love with Chet! And maybe still holding onto that.

Thanks so much to Nicole Schubert for writing this beautiful novel, making me fall in love with Chet Jones, and for participating in this interview!

 

About the Author

Nicole Schubert is a first-time novelist and award-winning screenwriter with a big soft spot for comedy and romance. She also dabbles in other behind-the-scenes activities, like producing the monthly Improv Diary Show at Santa Monica’s Westside Comedy Theater. She’s produced a music awards TV show and European-wide photo exhibition out of Brussels and enjoyed another side of storytelling working in the editing rooms of numerous Hollywood feature films.

Nicole lives with her family – including The Kid and pirate cat Biddy – in Santa Monica, by way of Brussels and New Orleans, where she was born during a hurricane…for what that’s worth.

You can follow Nicole on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and on her blog.

 

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The Summer of Lost Wishes by Jessa Gabrielle


I’m super stoked to participate in this book blitz featuring Jessa Gabrielle’s debut novel, The Summer of Lost Wishes, because as soon as I discovered it, I knew I had to read it. And just as I expected, it was amazing. I also had the pleasure of interviewing Jessa, so you can find an author interview at the bottom of this post.


The Summer of Lost Wishes
by Jessa Gabrielle
Genre: YA Contemporary Romance
Release Date: June 13th 2016


Summary:
When sixteen-year-old Piper Davenport’s mom packs up their lives and heads to the coastal Florida town of Coral Sands, Piper doesn’t care much for the view…until she catches a glimpse at Rooks Carter. 

Her mom’s “look but don’t touch” policy regarding the boy next door is all but impossible to maintain, especially since he’s helping his dad restore Piper’s new home, the Calloway Cottage. A gorgeous, shirtless boy makes this boring little town a bit more exciting.
 
But after Piper and Rooks discover a secret in the walls of the cottage, they have a chance to unravel the biggest mystery in Coral Sands history – unless someone unravels them first. 
 
Buy Links:

AmazonBarnes & NobleKoboAmazon UK


My thoughts:

What can I say? The Summer of Lost Wishes was the perfect book to kick off my summer. It had everything I love in a YA novel from teen angst to a hot boy next door and some mystery as Piper and her new neighbor Rooks set off to discover what really happened to the five teens who died tragically in their small beach town fifty years ago.

Jessa Gabrielle does a stunning job at weaving the perfect beach setting, with incredible summery descriptions that really let me experience the small town of Coral Sands. The sweet, budding romance between Piper and Rooks had me smiling at nearly every page. There aren’t enough smiley heart-eye emojis in the world to describe how adorable every moment between the two of them was. Their summer love story was really well done.

I also loved how some letters from the past were speckled throughout the novel to give us a glimpse at the teens’ lives from 1965 before the tragedy occurred. It set up the mystery of the story perfectly.

I highly recommend this story for those who like young adult contemporary novels, beach reads, beautiful settings, and an all around cute romance.


Author Interview

1. First of all, I loved everything about this book—the mystery, the sweet love story, the setting—it was perfect. So, what was your favorite scene to write?

Thank you so much! I really loved writing a particular conversation toward the end of the book where a lot of the mystery was revealed. It was a big moment because it’d been in my head for a year, so finally getting the words down was awesome. But since that would be a total spoiler, I’m going to say my other favorite scene, which was the county fair. The flirtation between Piper and Rooks was so much fun. I loved everything about that scene.

That was hands down my favorite scene, too. 🙂

2. Piper Davenport has an interesting taste in room décor. Why faux deer heads? Is there a reason behind them?

When I started plotting this book, I had the big plot twist but nothing else. I wanted Piper to be a little quirky and different, so I hopped over on Pinterest and tried to imagine what her bedroom would be like, to get an idea of her personality. I actually saw the deer heads on there and loved them. (https://www.pinterest.com/jessa_gabrielle/the-summer-of-lost-wishes)

The Summer of Lost Wishes by Jessa Gabrielle quote3. What was your favorite quote from the book?

“This is our fate. We played with the sharks, and now we’re going to get bitten. We tempted the ghosts of the past, and we dug into a treasure chest that was meant to be sealed for eternity. Now we’re going to pay the ultimate price. Seth and Hanna won’t be the legendary couple who died at Shark Island anymore – we will.”

4. I know some people like to have playlists with their books. Any songs capture the essence of The Summer of Lost Wishes for you?

I usually have pretty in depth playlists for my projects, but this book only had a few songs on it – “Teenage Dream”, “The One That Got Away”, and “Thinking of You” by Katy Perry and “Shut Up and Dance” by Walk The Moon.

5. Will you ever visit Coral Sands again?

I told myself I wouldn’t when I started writing the book, but I have a terrible, terrible habit of going back and revisiting old places and old characters, so it’s possible that Coral Sands will pop back up.

6. Can/Will you share anything about future projects?

My next book will be a YA contemporary romance called Fireflies, Sandcastles, and Other Remnants of Summer.

It doesn’t have an official blurb yet, but it’s a summertime romance between two childhood best friends who have grown apart. It’s set in a summer beach house in the fictional beach town of Cape Gabriel, revolves around their two families, and has pretty summertime things like fireflies and sandcastles in it. (hence the title)

Thanks so much for the interview, Jessa! I had so much fun reading TSOLW!


About the Author

Jessa Gabrielle is a young adult author who lives in the land of salt water, palm trees, and sandy shorelines. She believes that summer love is pure bliss and that she was a mermaid in a past life. The Summer of Lost Wishes is her debut novel.
 
Author Links:
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Breaking Saint Jude by Nikki Godwin

Breaking Saint Jude by Nikki Godwin

I fell in love with Nikki Godwin’s writing when I read Falling from the Sky, and Breaking Saint Jude only enhanced my love for her novels. It was fast-paced, and I read it in three nights.

Breaking Saint Jude is a contemporary LGBT novel with a diverse cast of eccentric characters that follows the story of Jude Calvert, the son of a zoo vet, as he tries to find his place in a world where he’s become an outcast due to an unfortunate situation with an ex-boyfriend’s family.

What I loved most about the novel was how well Nikki brings characters to life. Jude Calvert was so well written that I felt like he was a real person, and he was sharing his life with me. When we’re introduced to his new group of friends, which he meets through his love interest Max Rangel, you can’t help but find a piece of yourself in every character. My favorites were Terry, because I met him before in Falling from the Sky, and while he has a shady life, he just gets things, and Tuck. Tuck had some great one-liners that had me snorting with laughter.

I also enjoyed the unconventional storyline of a boy and his love for a polar bear and how he stumbles into a world with a secret brotherhood that scours the zoos for deceased wildlife to stuff and add to their collection, especially since Jude’s dad works at a zoo, and he’s a huge animal lover and vegetarian. It was a unique story that just made sense. I loved it!

Another thing I loved about Breaking Saint Jude was how Nikki wove in tiny blips of her other novels, like crossover characters, bands, etc. It made me feel like I was in on a secret, which was totally cool. If you haven’t read any of Nikki’s other novels, do so! They’re all fantastic.

I highly recommend Breaking Saint Jude for people who crave a diverse, young adult book with an LGBT main character, for those who like clean M/M romances, and those looking for something fun and different to read.

If you haven’t read Breaking Saint Jude, go do it. Now! It’s FREE on most book retailers at the time of this posting.

Links: Amazon, iTunes, Barnes&Noble, Kobo, Smashwords

Author Q&A

1. The characters in Breaking Saint Jude all have unique collections—Jude with his broken glass, his friends with stuffed exotic animals. Do you like to collect anything?

I actually don’t collect anything. I do buy a ton of notebooks, notepads, and such, though, if that counts!

2. Jude loves a polar bear and a gorilla in the novel. What is your favorite animal?

My favorite animal is the giraffe. It’s one of the few animals that I highlighted in this book because I adore them.

3. Did you know you’d add crossover characters from your other novels in Breaking Saint Jude or was it something that just happened?

When I started writing BSJ, I hadn’t planned on it. I actually began this book in November 2011 for NaNoWriMo while I was also drafting Chasing Forever Down (and needed a break). It sat on my computer half-written for a long time. When I wrote Kids in Love (Saturn #2), I actually borrowed Sierra Springs from BSJ, even though BSJ wasn’t published yet. I love crossover, though, as a reader and a writer, so I try to find ways to shout out my other books along the way. I actually reallllly want to write a spring break road trip book of Max & Jude and Micah & Ridge (from Falling From the Sky). I’d love to see a week of those four together. I doubt anyone would read it, so I may just write it for my sister lol.

4. We discover that Jude’s boyfriend is into boy bands. Who’s your not-so-secret boy band crush?

Haha! I love the boy band shout out in this book. I often forget about it because it was a last minute addition. That scene was actually pretty revealing… Gotta love crossover. wink emoticon But I think everyone knows that I love Liam Payne from One Direction.

5. What was your favorite scene to write?

My favorite scene in Breaking Saint Jude is one that happens on a rooftop. It’s a conversation between Jude and his dad (who is my favorite parent I’ve written to date). I’d originally planned on having this conversation between Jude and Max, but as I was writing, it just felt more organic and “right” to be between Jude and Dr. Calvert.

Thanks so much to Nikki for taking the time to do an author interview!


 

 

 

NikkiGodwinAbout the Author

Nikki Godwin is a YA/NA/LGBT author. She can’t live without Mountain Dew, black eyeliner, and music by Hawthorne Heights. When not writing, she internet-stalks her favorite bands and keeps tabs on surf competitions. Her favorite surfer is Gabriel Medina. If you ever get her started on surfing or music, she’ll never shut up. You’ve been warned.

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