Friday, August 11, 2017

Blog Tour: The Way It Hurts by Patty Blount...Review & Giveaway!



Today I get to tell you about Patty Blount's latest release, The Way it Hurts.

Keep reading to learn more...
In Patty Blount's THE WAY IT HURTS, two teens’ quest for fame goes terribly wrong when a single tweet goes viral and the online backlash follows them into real life. Fans of Gayle Forman's If I Stay will like how main characters Elijah and Kristen bond over their music in this edgy, real world contemporary young adult read that examines the impact social media has on the lives of today's youth.

Title: The Way It Hurts
Author: Patty Blount
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Release Date: August 1, 2017
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Pages: 352 pages
Format: Paperback and Digital
Print ISBN: 978-1-492632-788
Digital ASIN: B06XR172ZD

Synopsis:

There may be two sides to every story, but sometimes there's only one way to set things right...

Music is Elijah's life. His band plays loud and hard, and he'll do anything to get them a big break. He needs that success to help take care of his sister, who has special needs. So he'd rather be practicing when his friends drag him to a musical in the next town...until the lead starts to sing.

Kristen dreams of a career on stage like her grandmother's. She knows she needs an edge to get into a competitive theater program--and being the star in her high school musical isn't going to cut it. The applause and the attention only encourage her to work harder.

Elijah can't take his eyes off of Kristen's performance, and snaps a photo of her in costume that he posts online with a comment that everybody misunderstands. It goes viral. Suddenly, Elijah and Kristen are in a new spotlight as the online backlash spins out of control. And the consequences are bigger than they both could have ever imagined because these threats don't stay online...they follow them into real life.

Add to your “Want to Read” shelf:  Goodreads

Available at: Amazon  |  Barnes and Noble  |  Kobo  |  iTunes

***

Advanced Praise for The Way It Hurts:

"Blount writes authentically; both protagonists’ voices are distinct. The author explores the rapidly consuming world of social media and how it affects relationships online and in real life. A relevant read and must-have for all YA collections." – School Library Journal

"THE WAY IT HURTS draws our attention to the joy, heartache and confusing contradictions that arise as we try to find our place in the real world and the virtual one." – Kimberly Sabatini

Elijah and Kristen’s personal evolutions through the novel, along with their chemistry, feel as authentic as the conflicts they face. A genuine plot filled with steady tension that will keep readers hooked.” RT Book Reviews

“This book sensitively covers topics such as sexism, handicapping conditions, communication, and ageism. Agency is also shown when Kristen says she wants to pursue studying in a conservatory rather than continue in the band and the three young men acknowledge her wish. Talking about what bothers us rather than trying to guess another person’s feelings is demonstrated through the actions of the characters. The characters’ issues are eventually resolved through hard work and understanding, making this an interesting and informative read." School Library Connection
Native New Yorker Patty Blount is the award-winning author of several critically acclaimed internet issues novels for teens as well as a few adult contemporary romances. She is inspired to write by such greats as Judy Blume, JK Rowling, and Gayle Forman. In fact, Judy Blume is the reason Patty elected to write under her real name…so she’d appear on shelves next to her idol. Patty adores writing; she’s written everything from technical manuals to song lyrics (see THE WAY IT HURTS, coming August 2017). Patty wants you to know she loves chocolate…really, really loves chocolate.

When not crushing on actors Gilles Marini or Sam Heughan, Patty can be found sitting in traffic somewhere on the Long Island Expressway, listening to audio books or talking wildly to herself about plots and characters. Prone to falling madly in love with fictional characters, Patty suffers frequent broken hearts when they all invariably prefer the heroine to her… go figure. When she’s not writing, Patty loves to watch bad sci-fi movies and live tweet the hilarity, and scour Pinterest for ideas on awesome bookcases. Patty lives on Long Island with her family in a house that, sadly, lacks bookcases.

Connect with Patty:  Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Goodreads  |  Amazon  |  BookBub
Title: The Way It Hurts 
Author: Patty Blount
Format: Digital ARC
Source:  Blog Tour

In The Way It Hurts we meet Elijah and Kristen, two very talented teens each with their own distinct styles and complicated lives.

Eli sees his music as an escape and a way to possibly help his family take care of his sister with special needs.  All his band needs is their one big break. And when Eli catches one of Kristen’s performances, he believes he may of found just what his band needs to succeed.

The granddaughter of a famous stage actress, Kristen been raised to believe she's destined for Broadway.  But a rejection letter from one of her dream summer music programs leads her to believe she may need to diversify and try new things. Enter Elijah and his band.

However, a picture of Kristen and tweet by Elijah goes viral causing all kinds of problems and misunderstandings for Kristen and proving you should think before you post…in fact, this whole story is an excellent example of this as characters engage in an anonymous and sometimes hurtful battle over musical tastes and misogyny from the very beginning of the book.

Yet despite Elijah’s tweet and their obvious musical differences, Kristen decides to give Elijah and his band a chance.  But once again, things don't go as they hoped or planned.  And once again, Kristen is subject to online harassment because of a tweet.  But things definitely take an unexpected turn when Kristen turns out to be different than what Elijah and his bandmates were expecting and a battle of the sexes heats up. You’ll have to read for yourself to see how it all plays out…but there is definitely plenty of drama in this one.

As you would expect with drama, there are many ups and downs in this story. The Way It Hurts is an interesting story and example about how the internet and social media can affect someone’s personal lives and relationships with others.  You never know who you might be talking to when you post that “anonymous” comment or tweet and how it might affect them or how they'll react...or even how others will react. Neither character knows exactly how to deal with the situation and could have done better. It's definitely a learning experience for all involved.

Patty Blount has managed to create a story that not only conveys this message, but also provides readers with complex and somewhat interesting characters including Eli and Kristen’s friends and family.  Eli and Kristen’s story also takes on several other important and heavy topics such as sexism, family issues, peer pressure, special needs, and more.  All handled in a way that fits the characters and their story.  So, as I said, there is plenty of drama in this one.

I do have to say that Elijah and Kristen’s initial meeting had a little too many coincidences for me at the beginning and it took me a bit to get into the story and the characters, but I did enjoy seeing how things played out.  I did not, however, enjoy some of the secondary characters and even at times Elijah became annoying as he became too focused on the band’s success to consider other people’s feelings. 

And I guess it's a testament to Blount’s writing that I was upset and angry at the sexist and hurtful tweets and comments directed at Kristen as that is how one might react in real life.  The way some of the characters chose to respond irked me a bit, however.

Anyway, The Way It Hurts was an entertaining book with an important message, but at times it felt a tiny bit too dramatic or heavy…I could have used a teeny, tiny bit more levity to help balance things, but that's just my opinion.  Overall, it was a good, emotional read for me.

*I received a free digital ARC in exchange for my honest opinion*

Patty Blount is offering one (1) lucky winner a $50 Amazon Gift Card! To enter, simply fill out the Rafflecopter below:

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Sunday, August 6, 2017

Blog Tour: League of America Traitors by Matthew Landis...a Letter to Readers & Giveaway!


Today it's my turn to tell you about the exciting new book, League of American Traitors!

Keep reading to learn more and to read my letter to readers everywhere...
League of American Traitors
Publisher: Sky Pony
Release Date: August 8, 2017
Genre: Young Adult, Historical

Synopsis:
Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it. . . . 


When seventeen year-old Jasper is approached at the funeral of his deadbeat father by a man claiming to be an associate of his deceased parents, he’s thrust into a world of secrets tied to America’s history—and he’s right at the heart of it.


First, Jasper finds out he is the sole surviving descendant of Benedict Arnold, the most notorious traitor in American history. Then he learns that his father’s death was no accident. Jasper is at the center of a war that has been going on for centuries, in which the descendants of the heroes and traitors of the American Revolution still duel to the death for the sake of their honor.

His only hope to escape his dangerous fate on his eighteenth birthday? Take up the research his father was pursuing at the time of his death, to clear Arnold’s name.

Whisked off to a boarding school populated by other descendants of notorious American traitors, it’s a race to discover the truth. But if Jasper doesn’t find a way to uncover the evidence his father was hunting for, he may end up paying for the sins of his forefathers with his own life.

Like a mash-up of National Treasure and Hamilton, Matthew Landis’s debut spins the what-ifs of American history into a heart-pounding thriller steeped in conspiracy, clue hunting, and danger.

I love history, but not in the old, awful, kill-me-now-please kind of way. My passion is convincing my students that the past is actually hilarious, shocking, tragic, disturbing, and altogether UN-boring. While getting my graduate degree in History at Villanova, I realized that there was yet one more way to do this: write contemporary young adult books laced with history to convince my students that past isn't as awful as they think. That’s a huge reason why I wrote The Judas Society.

Some other stuff: I love poetry but don’t understand it; I want Gordon Ramsay to give me a fatherly hug at some point; I tend toward the unapologetically dramatic; and (to my great shame) I didn’t read the Harry Potter series until last year. I’m also really good at covering up patent insecurities with self-deprecating humor (like this joke).

A Letter to You from Me!

Hi, it's me, Jennifer! I wasn't quite sure exactly what I wanted to do for my post today.  I had so many ideas running through my head and as I read Matthew Landis’s book, I was even more inspired.  I wanted something that would convey the intrigue of League of American Traitors as well as entertainment packed within its pages. But honestly I knew I could never do this book justice...it's like it was written for me!

However, I finally decided on a letter to YOU…my fellow readers...about a subject I love and one this book features wonderfully: history!  So here we go!

Dear Reader,

You don't really know me, but I hope you’ll read this letter anyway.

If you're like me you love history and realize how fun and fascinating it can be.  Okay…I can see some of you rolling your eyes, but trust me on this.  Our past is filled with many fascinating stories and interesting people who led extraordinary (and not-so-extraordinary) lives.  Some of these people we may never even have heard of and others are names that live on in history books (and broadway musicals) forever.  Each one has had some impact on who and what we have become...which is pretty cool if you think about it.

But history doesn't have to be dry facts, figures, and dates.  Believe me if it were, I'd be with the eye-rolling crowd.  Instead, it's all in how it's presented or how you look at it.  Author Matthew Landis understands this and demonstrates it perfectly in his book League of American Traitors.  Even though the book and its characters are fictional, there are plenty of historical figures mentioned that might make you want to learn more…well, I wanted to know more anyway (but we’ve established I'm a history nerd)…but this book is so entertaining.

You see, history affects everything (Well, obviously, Jennifer, plus you kind of said that already. What's your point?).  History can even have direct impact on individual lives for years and years and years. What if you discovered you were the descendant of a major historical figure…perhaps George Washington or Abraham Lincoln? Not bad, right? But what about a more notorious figure such as Benedict Arnold or John Wilkes Booth?  Would you be proud? Ashamed?  Would you tell people? Would you want to be treated different?  Would you join or believe in a secret society made up of descendants of heroes or traitors from American history?

In the fictional League of American Traitors, Jasper, the main character, must face some of these questions when he learns he is the last living descendant of Benedict Arnold, one of America's most notorious traitors.  Suddenly he’s thrust into a world he never knew existed, a world filled with secrets, duels, action, and adventure. Oh, and by the way, there are people who now want him dead...no big deal.  All of this just because of something his ancestor did and the secrets his father kept hidden from him.  Along the way, Jasper also meets the descendants of other traitors and heroes whose current lives have been affected by the actions of their ancestors.  

As you typically discover when you delve into the past, not everything is sunshine and roses. However, league of American Traitors still manages to be a fun and fascinating history-inspired adventure reminiscent of National Treasure.  And I hope you’ll read it because it's an awesome example of how history can be highly entertaining (and if I'm being completely honest, a little heartbreaking...yep, I cried a little...I'm a history nerd AND a sap).

In fact, there are many examples today of how history can be entertaining and make you want to know more as it affects or interests you in various ways. There are books, music, tv shows, broadway musicals, video games (Oregon Trail, anyone?), and more.  And while many of these might be mostly fictional versions, there is still a little bit of truth or inspiration in them that I encourage you to learn more about.  You may not even realize you are learning something as you watch, read, or listen (But later when a question pops up in Trivial Pursuit and you know the answer, you'll know where it came from).  So, before you turn your nose up at learning a little history remember, it's all in how you look at it.  Any historical story can be entertaining if told the right way.  

Anyway, if you've made it this far in my letter, Yay!  And remember we can't go back and change what has happened in the past (no matter what our favorite time-traveling shows tell us), but we can learn from it.  Plus history is being made everyday.  Just as we remember the past, what happens today will affect and be remembered forever by future generations (sorry, kids).  I mean, do you really think that Jane Austen or William Shakespeare thought we'd be reading and studying their work still today? Or that Alexander Hamilton thought he'd be the main character in a musical...especially one featuring such a diverse cast?

So how do you want to be remembered?  What impact do you want to have on those who come after you? 

Still think history is boring?

Sincerely,

Jennifer 

2 copies of LEAGUE OF AMERICAN TRAITORS by Matthew Landis
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Saturday, August 5, 2017

Blog Tour: Love is Both Wave and Particle by Paul Cody...Guest Post & Giveaway!


My guest today is Paul Cody, author of Love is Both Wave and Particle!

Keep reading to learn more about this book and its author and to see what Paul Cody has to share with us today...
Love is Both Wave and Particle
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
Release Date: August 1, 2017
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance


Synopsis:

This achingly beautiful novel considers how to measure love when it has the power to both save and destroy.

Levon Grady and Samantha Vash are both students at an alternative high school for high-achieving but troubled teens. They have been chosen for a year-long project where they write their life stories and collect interviews from people who know them. The only rule is 100% confidentiality—they will share their work only with each other. What happens will transform their lives.

Told from the perspectives of Levon, Sam, and all the people who know them best, this is a love story infused with science and the exploration of identity. Love Is Both Wave and Particle looks at how love behaves in different situations, and how it can shed light on even the darkest heart.



Paul Cody earned an MFA at Cornell University, and has published several novels and a memoir for adults. He lives in Ithaca, New York, with his wife, the poet Elizabeth Holmes, and their two sons. Love Is Both Wave and Particle is his first novel for teenagers.



How I Came to Write Love Is Both Wave and Particle
By Paul Cody

When I was growing up in the suburbs of Boston, in the 1960s and 1970s, I was a fairly depressed, anxious kid. Often sad for no particular reason, and nearly always worrying about one thing or another.

By the time I was fifteen or so, I had discovered alcohol and prescription drugs as a way to treat my own uneasy, uncomfortable feelings. A drink or two, a few tranquilizers, and I was suddenly not anxious, nor was I depressed. 

My alcohol and drug use got worse and worse. I barely graduated from high school, and I didn’t go to college when so many of my friends were leaving home for college.

My addictions grew so bad that when I was 22, I was taken to the emergency room of a local hospital by the police, where I foolishly punched a doctor. A few hours later I found myself committed by a court order to a thirty-day stay on the locked ward of Medfield State Hospital, the same hospital where much of the movie Shutter Island was filmed. 

It was a grim time in my life, but while I was on the ward, with heavy iron mesh on windows, and ranting and raving patients pacing the halls, I did a great deal of thinking. I realized that if I didn’t do something, this downward spiral would continue. I’d have to make some big changes.

When I got out of the hospital after thirty days, I began to make big changes. I got off alcohol and drugs. I went to college and did well. Then I worked for three years with deaf-blind, developmentally disabled teenagers. Then I went to graduate school to get a Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing.

I became intensely interested in people who struggled with disabilities of any kind. I was deeply curious about the labels we put on people—autistic, Asperger’s, depressed, bipolar, ADD, anxiety disorder, alcoholic, drug addict—and realized that I fit into at least four or five different categories. Each diagnosis, for me, was partly accurate, but only partly so. 

When I came to write Levon and Sam’s story in Love Is Both Wave and Particle, I was moved by their plight. Who were they, beyond the labels, and what had made them the way they were? Were they fated to live out their labels, or could they change their destinies?

Had Levon’s mother, the brain expert, partly created in her son many of the symptoms of Asperger’s, out of her own fear, her lack of perception, and her own good intentions? Did Sam’s mother somehow transfer her own lack of purpose, her own depression, onto her daughter? Did Sam’s father work so much, for the good of the family that he did real harm to his family? 

All people are to me, as a writer, deeply interesting, contradictory, and a wonderful subject for novels. As I wrote about Sam and Levon, I discovered more and more about them as I went deeper into the novel. They surprised me, often on nearly every page.

People, I’ve always thought, are profoundly complex creatures, and I wanted to see if I could show some part of that in a novel. And maybe, after everything is said and done, I write to get a deeper understanding of the messed-up teenager I was. And how, despite everything, things turned out more or less okay for him.

***Thank you so much for sharing such a personal story with us, Paul. Readers, be sure to check out Love is Both Wave and Particle and remember to...***

1 copy of LOVE IS BOTH WAVE AND PARTICLE by Paul Cody
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Friday, August 4, 2017

Blog Tour: When I'm Through With You by Stephanie Kuehn...Guest Post & Giveaway!



Today I am pleased to welcome author Stephanie Kuehn to the blog to tell us a little more about the main character in her new book, When I Am Through With You!

But first, let me tell you a little more about this intriguing new book and its author...
When I Am Through with You
Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers
Release Date: August 1, 2017
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Mystery

Synopsis:

“This isn’t meant to be a confession. Not in any spiritual sense of the word. Yes, I’m in jail at the moment. I imagine I’ll be here for a long time, considering. But I’m not writing this down for absolution and I’m not seeking forgiveness, not even from myself. Because I’m not sorry for what I did to Rose. I’m just not. Not for any of it.”

Ben Gibson is many things, but he’s not sorry and he’s not a liar. He will tell you exactly about what happened on what started as a simple school camping trip in the mountains. About who lived and who died. About who killed and who had the best of intentions. But he’s going to tell you in his own time. Because after what happened on that mountain, time is the one thing he has plenty of.


I grew up in Berkeley, California, which is a quirky sort of a place with many wonderful bookstores. When I was fifteen, my very first job was working in one of those bookstores. It’s where I would go after school, and I’d read everything that I could. Back then, some of the books that had the greatest impact on my life were young adult novels, and now, as an adult, I’ve found my own passion in writing for teens.

Other passions of mine include mental health advocacy, social justice, and sports of all kinds. When I’m not writing or reading (or studying for graduate school), I’m usually outside running or playing with my family. I currently live in Northern California with my husband, three kids, and our menagerie of pets. Life is loud, joyous, and filled with animal hair.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, my last name is pronounced keen. I know! I don’t get it either.

Now, please welcome Stephanie Kuehn as she shares with us the inspiration for Ben Gibson...

When I’m contemplating starting a book, I usually have some glimmer of a paradox or conflict that I want to delve into. With When I am Through With You, I was curious about the idea of starting with a character who’s done something unforgivable and seeing if I could get to the end of that story having found empathy for that character and the choices he makes. There are not meant to be big twists in perception or reality in this narrative: Ben does exactly what he says he does at the start of the book. But along the way we come to understand his actions, their context, and what it all means to him. 

I derived Ben’s personality and motivations primarily from attachment theory: that is, the idea that all human children are innately driven to maintain a bond with their primary caregiver in order to survive. This is a theory that predicts that if a caregiver is impaired in some way, or abusive, children in their care may unconsciously alter their beliefs about themselves in order to keep that attachment. So if a parent tells a child that they are worthless—or shows this in their actions—the child’s response might be to believe in their worthlessness because doing so allows them to keep their parental attachment. As the child grows older, these beliefs and patterns of being may get played out in other relationships in ways that are unhealthy. 

The text indicates that Ben’s mother was abused by her father as a child, and later, by other men in her life. Subsequently, her attachment with her own son is damaged. She hates Ben and she needs him and she hates him for being necessary. This push-pull dynamic leaves him with the sense that he alone is responsible for his mother’s happiness, and it’s what he comes to believe love is: Love is something you give to another, no matter how much pain it causes you. Love is something you’ll do anything for because otherwise it might leave you. And for Ben, there’s no greater fear than abandonment. His only value lies in how much the women in his life approve of him. Abandonment, therefore, is the equivalent of worthlessness. 

So this construct: the toxic notion that love is measured by ignoring one’s own needs, by giving oneself completely to another, no matter how much they hurt you, was the foundation for this character and for the story. I wanted readers to understand Ben—how he came to be who he is and how that plays out in his life—before forcing him into a situation where in order to make the one he loves happy, he doesn’t just have to lose her—he has to be the one to make her go. 

Thank you so much, Stephanie! Readers, make sure you check out her book, When I Am Through With You and remember...


3 copies of WHEN I AM THROUGH WITH YOU by Stephanie Kuehn will go to 3 winners
1 winner will receive a copy of WHEN I AM THROUGH WITH YOU & THE SMALLER EVIL by Stephanie Kuehn
4 winners total
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