Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Happy Release CATALYST by Kristin Smith!

When one of your besties releases her debut young adult novel what do you do?

Join in to help her spread the world. Well...after you freak out and all. Please join me in celebrating the release of CATALYST by Kristin Smith. She's one of my critique partners, amazing supporters of my work, and all around sweet person! I've also read the entire manuscript in its birthing stage and beyond. Trust me. You'll love it.

Catalyst (The Deception Game, #1)
by Kristin Smith

Publisher: Clean Teen Publishing
Release date: November 21st 2016
Genres: Dystopian, Young Adult
Too pretty.
Too smart.
Too perfect.
 
In a crumbling, futuristic Las Vegas where the wealthy choose the characteristics of their children like ordering off a drive-thru menu, seventeen-year-old Sienna Preston doesn’t fit in. As a normal girl surrounded by genetically modified teenagers, all of her imperfections are on display. But after the death of her father, everything she’s ever known and loved changes in an instant. 
With little skills to help provide for her family, Sienna clings to the two things that come easily—lying and stealing. But not all thief-for-hire assignments go as planned. When a covert exchange of a stolen computer chip is intercepted, she becomes entangled with a corrupt government official who uses her thieving past as leverage, her mother as collateral, and the genetically modified poster boy she’s falling for as bait. 
In order to rescue her mother, there may only be one option—joining forces with the Fringe, an extremist group, and their young leader who’s too hot to be bad. Problem is, these revolutionaries aren’t what they seem, and the secrets they’re hiding could be more dangerous than Sienna is prepared for. In the end, she must be willing to risk everything to save the one thing that matters most.
Catalyst is a thrilling adventure of danger, romance, intrigue, and deception.
EXCERPT:
“You need to learn a little hand-to-hand combat.” Trey puts his fists up by his face. “Always protect your soft spots—your face being numero uno.” He glances at my bandaged arm. “You right-handed?”

It’s after breakfast and we’re in the training facility, a large, gym-type room with thick mats, punching bags, weights, and a long wall of mirrors. The smell of sweat and stinky feet assault my nose as I stand across from him on the pile of black mats used to create a “ring”. We have the gym to ourselves. Most likely because everyone else is too smart to work out right after a meal.

I nod and flex my right hand, the one that’s not bandaged.

“You should be fine, then. I’ll take it easy on you.” He grins. “Go ahead—hit me.”

I take a step back and shake my head. “I’m not gonna hit you.”

He moves forward to decrease the distance between us. “I said, hit me.”

I raise my arms as if I’m about to fight him, but all I can think is how much he’s done to help me. How can I punch the man who saved me from the government facility, removed my tracker, and is willing to help rescue my mother?

When he realizes I won’t fight, he lowers his hands. “Remember, Sienna, these men don’t care that you’re a girl. They don’t care how old you are. If given the opportunity, they will hurt you.” His eyes harden. “Now hit me.”

I punch him as hard as I can, and he’s not expecting it. The force of the blow to his face knocks him backward, and my hand throbs from the impact. He looks stunned, especially when a trickle of blood makes its way out of his nose. But then he grins.

Wiping his nose on his shirt, he motions with his hands for me to come closer. “Nicely done. Now, hit me again.”

Surely, he must be crazy. I’m about to walk away, but his words echo in my mind. If given the opportunity, they will hurt you. I can’t give them that opportunity.

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Author Bio:
Kristin Smith writes young adult contemporary and science fiction novels. When she’s not writing, you can find her dreaming about the beach, beating her boys at Just Dance, or belting out karaoke (from the comfort of her own home). Kristin currently resides in the middle-of-nowhere North Carolina with her husband and five incredibly loud but extremely cute boys. To read more about her obsession with YA novels or her addiction to chocolate, you can visit her at kristinsmithbooks.com. Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter


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I also want to wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving! 
My daughter (kiddo #3) turns 18 on the 25th, so we'll be celebrating double-duty. <3 
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Monday, November 21, 2016

Your Must Middle Grade Holiday Reading List!

This time of year is all about caring, sharing, and giving back. Although I've personally suffered a few cuts and bruises throughout 2016, I do have lots to be grateful for. One of my favorites is having been part of an amazingly supportive group of 2016 debut authors. So I want to give back. 

Welcome to my first of four fabulous @TheSweet16s middle grade reads installments, my next contribution to Shannon Messenger's MMGM genius plan to give middle grade reads their just due! Click HERE for the other participants.

My first spotlight: 
THE LAST CHERRY BLOSSOM
by Kathleen Burkinshaw

Publisher: Sky Pony Press
Release Date: August 2, 2016
Pages: 240

Description: Following the seventieth anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, this is a new, very personal story to join Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes.

Yuriko was happy growing up in Hiroshima when it was just her and Papa. But her aunt Kimiko and her cousin Genji are living with them now, and the family is only getting bigger with talk of a double marriage! And while things are changing at home, the world beyond their doors is even more unpredictable. World War II is coming to an end, and Japan's fate is not entirely clear, with any battle losses being hidden fom its people. Yuriko is used to the sirens and the air-raid drills, but things start to feel more real when the neighbors who have left to fight stop coming home. 

When the bomb hits Hiroshima, it’s through Yuriko’s twelve-year-old eyes that we witness the devastation and horror.

This is a story that offers young readers insight into how children lived during the war, while also introducing them to Japanese culture. Based loosely on author Kathleen Burkinshaw’s mother’s firsthand experience surviving the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, The Last Cherry Blossom hopes to warn readers of the immense damage nuclear war can bring, while reminding them that the “enemy” in any war is often not so different from ourselves.
My Splats: Sweet at times. Heart-breaking at other times.

The true-to-life historical foundation created at the onset of the story ignites the human curiosity we all possess. School kids of this age group will go bonkers over the realness of the history. Told from the view of one their age, one who was there. I mean, there were so many interesting historically-based details I never knew about, and I'm a huge history buff! This will be a fabulous tool for teachers in schools to share this era. 

But this story is more than mere history. It explores the physical, emotional, and economic impact of one of mankind's most devastating and self-created tragedies - war - through the innocent yet courageous voice of a young girl. Such a great way to share this segment of our world's history. The reader feels the fear, confusion, and threat of war through Yuriko, and then experiences the horror of its aftermath. This story gets even more personal, though. Woven within its fibers is a tale of family traditions, culture, and secrets that change all involved. 

My next spotlight: 
I AM DRUMS
by Mike Grosso

Publisher: Clarion Books
Release Date: September 6, 2016
Pages: 256

Description: Sam knows she wants to be a drummer. But she doesn’t know how to afford a drum kit, or why budget cuts end her school’s music program, or why her parents argue so much, or even how to explain her dream to other people.

But drums sound all the time in Sam’s head, and she’d do just about anything to play them out loud—even lie to her family if she has to. Will the cost of chasing her dream be too high?

My Splats: Totally rockin'!

Sam has a great voice - authentic and flows with ease. Basically, she breaths off the page. Like most kids her age (heck, myself included), she questions much about herself and her world, constantly exploring to find her place. Sam experiences loads of inner conflict, which just adds to the way others misunderstand her, her mannerisms, her loves, her hopes, and her dreams. She's a thinker, which I love! The author does a great job showing and exploring the stereotypes of this age by peers and even adults, and the effects. 

The element that Sam wants something and is willing to work hard to get it is a great plus for this story. Granted, she might - I said might because I don't want to feed you any spoilers ;) - go about achieving her goal in a few less desirable ways than she should have. But those are all learning opportunities for both Sam and the reader. The longer she works the more she sees value in reaching a goal in her own power. Lastly, the adult role models' speeches, choices, and intimate conversations with Sam and others are lifelike. Some are supportive, while others leave Sam feeling deserted. Like I said - life. And, of course, there's tons of musical references! Very, very cool...  

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Personal Splat: I know I've been MIA on the blogging scene for a few months. My plan is to eek my way back into a regularly schedule to start off 2017. Thanks for understanding. <3 
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