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Girl on the Brink: Excerpt + Giveaway

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Girl on the Brink
by Christina Hoag
Genre: YA Romance/Thriller
Release date: August 30th 2016
Fire and Ice YA/Melange Books

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Summary:

Sometimes the one you love isn’t the one you’re meant to be with.

The summer before senior year, Chloe starts an internship as a reporter at a local newspaper. While on assignment, she meets Kieran, a quirky aspiring actor. Chloe becomes smitten with Kieran’s charisma and his ability to soothe her soul, torn over her parents’ impending divorce. But as their bond deepens, Kieran becomes smothering and flies into terrifying rages. He confides in Chloe that he suffered a traumatic childhood, and Chloe is moved to help him. If only he could be healed, she thinks, their relationship would be perfect. But her efforts backfire, and Kieran turns violent. Chloe breaks up with him, but Kieran pursues her relentlessly to make up. Chloe must make the heartrending choice between saving herself or saving Kieran, until Kieran’s mission of remorse turns into a quest for revenge.

 

EXCERPT:

The carnival sets up for two weeks every summer in a field outside town. Everyone goes. It’s something to vary Indian Valley’s monotonous diet of bowling, the single-screen movie theatre, miniature golf, and hanging out at the Dairy Cream.

Kieran grabs my hand as we stroll into the fair. It’s a riot of dazzling lights, whirling rides and thumping music. I scan the crowd, hunting for Morgan and Jade, who I spot waiting for funnel cakes.

“Hey, there are my friends.” I wave frantically at them with my free hand as I tug Kieran with the other. Morgan sees me, points me out to Jade and they both look my way.

Kieran yanks my hand in the opposite direction. “We’ll catch up with them later.”

“I want you to meet them. I told them all about you.”

“I just want to play my favorite game for you first.”

I can’t refuse. I let myself be pulled and make an apologetic face at them. Morgan’s expression hardens. She says something to Jade. The crowd swarms between us, and I lose sight of them.

Kieran steers me to a shooting-at-moving-ducks game and grabs a rifle. He’s a good shot and soon wins a white teddy bear with a red satin heart sewn on its chest. He hands it to me.

“For you.”

“Thank you. It’s adorable.” I proudly tuck it under my arm.

“Just like you. Hungry?”

“Starving.”

“Me, too.”

We make for the food concessions. “Carnival hot dogs are the best,” Kieran says. “The pizza and hamburgers blow.”

“Totally,” I say as we line up.

We buy hot dogs slathered with relish—and root beer, of course—and sit at a picnic table. Kieran straddles the bench, patting the seat in front of him. I sit astride like him. He inches closer so our knees touch.

“Open wide,” he orders, looking at my mouth.

I obey. He feeds one end of the hot dog to me, then leans in and bites the other end. I crack up and almost choke.

“Don’t laugh,” which comes out something like “doan waf” through Kieran’s mouthful of hot dog.

No hands, he chews, swallows and takes another bite. I do the same. We manage to eat the hot dog, and at the end, our lips touch. Kieran presses mine into a kiss.

“So that’s why you like carnival hot dogs,” I say when we break apart. “To steal kisses.”

“Hey, I told you they were the best. Hold on, you have mustard on your face.” He swoops in and licks the side of my mouth.

I wipe off his wetness. “Ew, Kieran!”

“Mmmm, salty.”

I giggle. He swoops in again and licks all around my mouth and lips. His tongue tickles, and I laugh as I shake my head, sucking in my lips, trying to get him off me as I crack up harder, which only encourages him. He slurps my cheeks and chin, and I try to recoil out of his reach, but he pulls me to him. Finally, he backs off and dabs my face with a napkin as I recover my breath.

“You’re worse than a puppy,” I say.

“Ruff, ruff.” He pants and holds up his hands like paws, then jumps to his feet, holding out his palm. “Come on. Time for rides.”

We run like it’s an emergency.

“Cup of tea, Madam?” Kieran points to the tea cups, then pushes open the just-closing gate and leaps in a cup.

We spin madly in the tea cups, chase, block and slam each other in the bumper cars, cling to each other in the haunted house. We finish with a ride on the Ferris wheel.

It’s getting late, and the crowd has swelled with rowdy revelers who obviously made a pitstop at a bar before the carnival.

“Let’s go,” Kieran says, after a guy, drunk or stoned, stumbles in front of us.

“I really wanted you to meet my friends.”

“We’ve got plenty of time for that. It gets nasty this time of night, a lot of fights.”

“Okay.” I give a last three-sixty turn in case Jade and Morgan appear. Kieran’s right. Cliques of older guys and girls hang around the perimeter, smoking and drinking from paper bags.

We swing our clasped hands as we walk to the parking lot. I wish the night would never end. When we get in the truck, he blasts the air conditioning and rolls down the windows. We pull out into the street, and as the AC chills, I close my window. Using his control, Kieran buzzes it down again.

“The AC’s on,” I say.

“I know, but doesn’t it feel great? To feel cold air and warm air at the same time?”

He accelerates. Bathtub-temperature air whooshes along the side of my body, while my chest is cooled by the AC. The combination feels luxurious.

“You’re right. It does feel great!”

He grins. “Told ya.”

“My mom would kill me for doing this.”

“That’s why you’re hanging with me, not with her.”

He snakes an arm over and slides off the elastic holding my ponytail. I shake my hair loose and let the wind whip it.

“That’s it, sweetpea, be free.”

 

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Advance Praise:

“An engrossing tale of a dangerous teen romance.” — Kirkus Reviews 

 

Girl on the Brink is a must have for every high school and public library.” – Isabelle Kane, Wisconsin high school librarian 

 

 

ABOUT TEEN DATING VIOLENCE

Abusive relationships are widespread, cutting across socioeconomic, racial and ethnic, religious and gender preference lines. One in three high school girls experience dating violence, while more than half of college-aged women reported experiencing controlling behavior in a relationship. Eighty-nine percent of female college students said they were unable to recognize the signs of an abusive relationship, and a third of teens involved in intimate partner violence ever told anyone about it.

 

For more information, see http://www.breakthecycle.org/dating-violence-research.

 

christinahoagauthorheadshot

About the Author
Christina Hoag is the author of Girl on the Brink, a romantic thriller for young adults (Fire and Ice YA/Melange Books, August 2016) and Skin of Tattoos, a literary thriller set in L.A.’s gang underworld (Martin Brown Publishing, September 2016). She is a former reporter for the Associated Press and Miami Herald and worked as a correspondent in Latin America writing for major media outlets including Time, Business Week, Financial Times, the Houston Chronicle and The New York Times. She is the co-author of Peace in the Hood: Working with Gang Members to End the Violence, a groundbreaking book on gang intervention (Turner Publishing, 2014). She resides in Los Angeles. For more information, see www.christinahoag.com.

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The Alienation of Courtney Hoffman: Excerpt + Giveaway

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The Alienation of Courtney Hoffman
by Brady Stefani
Genre: YA Psychological Thriller/Scifi
Release Date: June 7th 2016
SparkPress

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Summary from Goodreads:

Fifteen year old Courtney wants to be normal like her friends. But there’s something frighteningly different about her—and it’s not just the mysterious tattoo her conspiracy-obsessed grandfather marked her with before he disappeared. She’s being visited in her bedroom at night by aliens claiming to have shared an alliance with her grandfather. And imaginary or not, they’re starting to to take over her mind. “Mental illness is a slippery slope,” her mother warns her.

The last thing Courtney wants to do is end up crazy and dead like her grandfather did. But what about the tattoo? And the aliens trying to recruit her? With her new alien-savvy friend Agatha and her apocalyptic visions, Courtney begins connecting the dots between the past, present and future—of her bloodline, and the ancient history that surrounds it. Is she going insane, like her family claims her grandfather did, or is she actually a “chosen one” with ancestral connections to another world? Either way, Courtney has a mission: untangle her past, discover the truth, and stop the apocalypse before it’s too late for everyone.   

 

Excerpt:

Lightning ripped across the northern California sky, then splintered down through the rain and disappeared behind our neighbor’s house. Letting the door slam shut behind me, I ran away from the warmth of our porch light into the darkness of our backyard. My mom would’ve killed me if she’d caught me outside that late at night. Especially in a thunderstorm, and on the night before my fifteenth birthday, with the big party she had planned for tomorrow. But I had to get out of the house before I fell asleep and they came for me. And they were coming!

A gust of wind blew my hair against my face. I swiped it out of my eyes just in time to see a plastic lawn chair tumbling through the air. I covered my head with both arms, but a leg of the chair smashed against my elbow. Ouch!

I dropped onto the wet grass, pulled my knees into my chest, and rocked nervously back and forth. Water soaked up through my nightgown and my underwear, making me shiver.

None of these things mattered, though. Because something far worse was happening inside my head. A memory of me as a little girl, on the night my grandpa Dahlen disappeared from his cottage, was trying to claw its way into my consciousness.

And I didn’t want to think about that night. Ever.

Still, I couldn’t stop it, which didn’t make sense. I was awake, and outside, where I was supposed to be safe, yet the aliens from my dreams were somehow messing with my thoughts, rearranging things, trying to make me think about that night! But how?

And why? It happened eight years ago, and my grandpa was dead now.

Although, before he disappeared, he’d— No! Stop, Courtney! I yelled at myself.

I bit my fingernail and took a deep breath, hoping to calm down.

No luck. I was remembering the musty old-books smell from my grandpa’s bookcase. Butterflies rushed into my stomach and I sprang to my feet.

“All right. Is that what you want me to do?” I shouted into the rainy darkness. “Remember my grandpa? What happened that night? If I do that, then will you leave me alone?”

I wiped the rain from my eyes, and suddenly it was like I was right there, in the cottage. His notebook sat on the plaid couch, opened to a map he’d drawn of the ancient wormholes linking the alien world to our own.

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brady-stefani

About the Author

Brady G. Stefani has a bachelor’s degree in creative writing, and a graduate degree in law. During law school, he spent time as an involuntary commitment caseworker for the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health, where he interacted with patients suffering from severe thought disorders, including numerous patients presenting with subjectively real memories of being visited and abducted by alien beings (commonly referred to as alien abduction phenomenon). It was through his study of these patients, along with his own struggles with anxiety and cognition, that Stefani became aware of just how deceiving, mysterious, and powerfully resilient, the human mind can be.
In an effort to provide awareness of mental suffering, and spread hope to all those touched by it, Stefani is focused on writing YA novels that explore the experience of being different and the other-worldly places our boundary-less imaginations can take us. Alienation is his first novel. But with two works currently in progress, the journey has just begun.
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The Row: Excerpt + Giveaway

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The Row
by J.R. Johansson
Genre: YA Mystery
Release Date: October 11th 2016
FSG/Macmillan

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Summary from Goodreads:

A death sentence. A family torn apart. One girl’s hunt for the truth.

Seventeen-year-old Riley Beckett is no stranger to prison. Her father is a convicted serial killer on death row who has always maintained that he was falsely accused. Riley has never missed a single visit with her father. She wholeheartedly believes that he is innocent.

Then, a month before the execution date, Riley’s world is rocked when, in an attempt to help her move on, her father secretly confesses to her that he actually did carry out the murders. He takes it back almost immediately, but she cannot forget what he’s told her. Determined to uncover the truth for her own sake, she discovers something that will forever change everything she’s believed about the family she loves.

 

Meet-Cute of Jordan and Riley Excerpt

 

Riley is a people watcher. She regularly escapes from her own problems by going to a mall on the other side of Houston and seeing what other people are dealing with. Sometimes she even pretends to be someone else. But on this particular outing near the beginning of the book, she ends up meeting someone who makes her want to be herself…she also meets his hot older brother, Jordan. Enjoy!

 

On a Wednesday afternoon, the mall isn’t too busy, but there are about ten tables already taken with late lunch customers. I order a thick Oreo milkshake and start studying the people around me. One nearby table is full of teens. I scoot to the edge of my booth and pretend to scroll through my phone as I try to eavesdrop on their conversation. Before I get a chance to hear much, though, I feel an impact against my right sandal.

When I bend over, the first thing I see is a red Matchbox car. I pick it up and squint at it.

“Sorry about that. Driving skills obviously need improvement.” A deep voice speaks from the booth behind mine and I spin to face it. My first thought isn’t exactly articulate: Wow, hotness. His warm eyes are a slightly lighter shade of brown than his dark olive complexion.

Hot Guy extends his hand. I freeze, not sure if I should shake it or stick the car into it. As if he can read my mind, he drops his hand back to his lap and provides me with an alternate option.

“Unless you’re interested in joining our competition? Any experience on a pit crew, by chance?” His eyes now have a wicked sparkle to them that draws me in.

“Pit crew?” I raise my eyebrows.

“Girls don’t like cars.” I hear a small voice from the other side of his booth and slide to the side a bit to see who spoke. A seriously adorable little boy looks up at me. He can only be Hot Guy’s little brother. His Angry Birds T-shirt is just a smidge too big for him. He has the same skin and dark wavy hair, the same athletic build, the same square jawline and Roman nose—he is his brother in miniature. When he beams up at me, one of his front teeth is missing. “Hi!”

“Hi . . .” I can’t help but smile back at him.

“What’s your name? You don’t like cars, right?” He continues to smile at me while I consider my answer. The kid couldn’t be more than six years old. “I’m Matthew.”

“I actually do like cars.”

“Then you’re cool.” He lifts his cupped hands up and releases no fewer than eight cars onto the tabletop. His big brother frantically shoots his arms out, trying to prevent them all from careening off onto the floor.

Matthew slides out of his seat and walks to my table. “You didn’t tell me your name.”

Maybe all of my friends should be six. The questions of children seem to be so much simpler than those of adults. Something deep in me really doesn’t want to lie to this kid. “I’m Riley.”

His brother jerks his head up with an embarrassed expression. “Matthew, she doesn’t have to tell you her name if she doesn’t want to.”

“But . . . she already did.” Matthew looks at his brother like he just said the dumbest thing he’s ever heard. He sticks his small hand out to shake mine.

“Nice to meet you,” he says, sincerely. The gesture melts me and I place my hand in his. All my worry about Daddy’s hearing dissolves as he grips my hand firmly and shakes it like this is the most important meeting each of us will ever have. “Now, tell me what your favorite color is.”

After tossing the cars into a green plastic container, Matthew’s brother gets up and puts his hands on Matthew’s shoulders. “Sorry, he has no filter with strangers.”

“It’s fine. I like being told that I’m cool.” I shrug before lowering my eyes to Matthew. “My favorite color is purple.”

Matthew dives for the green bin and starts digging through it without another word.

“I think that was your official invitation to play . . . in case you didn’t recognize it.” Hot Guy rubs his hand on the back of his neck. His cheeks flush slightly and then he smiles at me. “I’m Jordan, by the way.”

“Your brother is really cute.” I lower my voice so Matthew can’t hear us.

“Yeah, that’s what all the girls say.” Jordan shakes his head.

“Oh, I see.” I lift one eyebrow, deciding these two might be the perfect pair to distract myself with today. “This is part of your game then? Bring your adorable brother to the mall. Hit girls with tiny cars. Have him get them to tell you their names . . . very smooth. Will he ask for my number next?”

Jordan looks horrified for an instant before he picks up on the fact that I’m joking and a grin spreads across his face. “Or maybe we’re part of a research project and he’s just a very small scientist.”

The server comes with my milkshake and I stick my spoon into it. “What would you be researching?”

“The effects of tiny cars on complete strangers.” Jordan sticks his hands into his jeans pockets as his face turns mockingly serious.

“Fascinating.”

Matthew drops a bright purple convertible onto the table in front of me. I pick it up to look at it and before I know it, Matthew is pushing himself and his green bin of cars into the seat on the other side of my booth.

Jordan blinks at Matthew and then me before shaking his head. “Buddy, we need to stay in our booth. I think we’ve bothered Riley enough for one afternoon.”

Matthew freezes in the middle of organizing his cars on my table and looks at me in shock. “I’m bothering you?”

I shake my head fast and firm. “Not at all.”

“He’s fine.” I look up at Jordan and then gesture to the seat beside Matthew. “Looks like I’m officially part of your experiment—or pit crew—depending on where this afternoon takes us. Care to have a seat?”

 

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j.r. johansson

About the Author

J.R.  Johansson’s books have been published in a dozen languages and more than twenty countries worldwide. She has a B.S. degree in public relations and a background in marketing. She credits her abnormal psychology minor with inspiring many of her characters. She lives in Utah with two sons, a wonderful husband, three cats, and a hot tub named Valentino.
She is represented by the stellar  Kathleen Rushall of Andrea Brown Literary Agency.

 

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Review: The Forgotten Fairytales + Giveaway

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The Forgotten Fairytales
by Angela Parkhurst
Genre: YA Fantasy
Release Date: February 10th 2014

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Summary from Goodreads:

Once upon a time, seventeen-year-old Norah Hart believed in the lure of fairytales and happily ever afters. That was before she was forced to live in a fairy tale nightmare.

A psychotic, couture-clad, shoe obsessed Princess.
A not-so-charming, alcoholic Prince.
A hot Big Bad Wolf that she absolutely cannot fall for—no matter how well he kisses.

If Norah had known she’d be attending a boarding school for the nut job reincarnations of fairy tale characters, she would have insisted on going to Moscow with her father. But getting out isn’t as easy as she thought. Especially once Norah realizes she, too, is a storybook character. An Unknown. The first one in over one hundred years. Soon Norah learns she has the ability to rewrite the stories, putting everyone’s Happily Ever After in jeopardy.

Some princesses will do whatever it takes to protect their endings. Even if it means betraying the one closest to you.

My Review:

Norah and her sister are to attend a boarding school while her Dad has to go to Moscow. This boarding school is nothing as it seems when everyone there is really a character straight out of a fairy tale.

I really liked that these characters weren’t how we all have come to know them to be. The perceptions we have known all our lives are now erased as we read about these characters. A prince who is no charming prince but just a drunken idiot is one example that I was very pleased with.

My favorite part of this book was actually the romance. Wolf can I keep you? I loved Wolf and how he struggled with himself and never believing in the fact that he was enough for Norah when in fact he was way  more than enough. The struggle for him to quit running away from her stressed me out but that is okay because he makes up for it.

The story itself felt to me as if Once Upon a Time characters were all in a boarding school together which was different than anything I have read. I would have actually preferred if this wasn’t told in urban fantasy because I wasn’t a fan of the Punk’d or Ashton Kutcher name dropping or if maybe some of that was left out.

I loved the main character Norah and how she protects everyone that she cares about. She was an extremely strong character and funny too. I read this book in one sitting, and as the book went on I did like the beginning more than the end. It was a little predictable but a lot of fun.

 

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angela parkhurst

About the Author

I am the author of the Forgotten Fairytales series.
I love reading YA and NA books. I have 2 toddler boys, 2 mini doxins & I’m married to my high school sweetheart. I have an obsession with books, Disney, and am fueled by a wicked coffee addiction.

In addition to YA fantasy, I write contemporary young adult and new adult novels.

 

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