Monday, July 6, 2015

Blog Tour and Book Peek: Jesse's Girl

Jesse’s Girl
By Miranda Kenneally
Sourcebooks Fire
July 7, 2015
ISBN: 9781402284823

Preorder Promotion:

Everyone who emails will automatically receive an email of the EXCLUSIVE Jesse’s Girl Playlist, and will be invited to attend a LIVE online author event on July 6, the day before Jesse’s Girl goes on-sale!

In addition, if you pre-order the book and send your proof of purchase (and mailing address) to, you’ll not only get the exclusive playlist and event invite, but you’ll also receive a signed/personalized bookplate, a super-cute custom guitar pick, and entered to win a $300 gift card to TicketMaster so you can go to a concert or musical or some other fun event.  

The same information on Miranda’s website.


Practice makes perfect.

Everyone at Hundred Oaks High knows that career mentoring day is a joke. So when Maya said she wanted to be a rock star, she never imagined she’d get to shadow the Jesse Scott, Nashville’s teen idol.

But spending the day with Jesse is far from a dream come true. He’s as gorgeous as his music, but seeing all that he’s accomplished is just a reminder of everything Maya’s lost: her trust, her boyfriend, their band, and any chance to play the music she craves. Not to mention that Jesse’s pushy and opinionated. He made it on his own, and he thinks Maya’s playing back up to other people’s dreams. Does she have what it takes to follow her heart—and go solo?

Purchase Jesse’s Girl by Miranda Kenneally here:


As much as I love music, I am generally not a fan of country. I don’t like banjos. I don’t like sappy lyrics about trucks and hauling hay. Dolly Parton is my mortal enemy—my mom plays “Jolene” over and over and over and over, and it makes me want to chop my ears off like van Gogh. Yeah, yeah, I’m from Tennessee, where it’s a crime if you don’t love country, but I like deep, rumbling beats and singing loud and fast and hard. I do not like closing my eyes and crooning to a cow in the pasture. Yet here I am at a Jesse Scott concert, getting ready to meet him and to see if he’ll let me shadow him next Friday.

My school requires every senior to “shadow” a professional for a day. It’s their way of helping us figure out what kind of career we want. Like, if you want to be president when you grow up, you might get to shadow the mayor. Want to be a chef? Have fun kneading dough at the Donut Palace. When I said “I want to be a musician,” I figured they’d send me to work in the electronics section at Walmart.

I certainly never expected to shadow the king of country music.

It turns out that Jesse Scott is my principal’s nephew. Jesse won TV’s Wannabe Rocker when he was ten and has gone on to become very successful. In sixth grade, every girl in class—myself included—took the Teen Beat quiz: “Would Jesse Scott Like Your Kissing Style?” (Obviously the answer was yes.) In middle school, I had a Jesse Scott poster on my ceiling. It’s hard to believe he’s only eighteen, because he’s already won three Grammys. When he was younger, his songs were about family, fishing, and playing baseball, but lately they’re about love and making love and all things sexy.

I wouldn’t say I’m a fan anymore, but I would never give up an opportunity to learn from a professional with such a gorgeous, pure voice. I want to learn what it’s like to perform day in and day out. Despite what everyone and their mom says—that I’ll struggle as a musician—all I want is to play guitar in front of a crowd and hear people cheer for me.

I can’t believe I’m backstage at the Grand Ole Opry! I bounce on my toes. Jesus, is that an archtop Super 4, the model Elvis played? I’ve never seen one in real life. It probably cost more than my house. I’m ogling the guitar when Jesse Scott comes out of the bathroom, drying his hair with a towel. He pads across the room to the couch, wearing nothing but a pair of rugged jeans with more holes than Swiss cheese. The lighting is dim, and he doesn’t seem to notice I’m here, which is good, because I’ve moved from ogling the guitar to ogling him.

Who wouldn’t? He was one of People magazine’s “50 Most Beautiful People,” and it is a truth universally acknowledged that you should stare at people who’ve made that list. The guy’s gorgeous. Like in the boy-next-door way. His wet, wavy, brown hair curls around his ears and nearly hits his shoulders, and while he doesn’t have a six-pack or anything, his body is fit. I wish he’d look my way so I can see his famous brown eyes. They always remind me of those caramel chews Poppy gives me when I visit. Jesse has some sort of Gaelic symbol tattooed on his left shoulder blade. I want to reach out and trace the design.

God, get ahold of yourself, Maya. Don’t be a horndog. Besides, he’s so not my type. I don’t do pretty boys.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Adventure Pick: Kalahari

by Jessica Khoury
354 pages
ISBN: 9781595147653

Exciting and action packed, Kalahari is sure to please. This is one adventure teen readers will be glad they took!

Growing up the only child to zoologist parents in remote Africa has prepared Sarah for just about any encounter in the natural world; any encounter except with city teens her own age, that is. When Sarah's parents invite five teens to an experimental program, she is terrified of what to say to them and  how they will react with her. Her best friend is Theo. He has guided her over the years to survive in the Kalahari. He tells Sarah not to worry; that she's a teen just like them. He could not be more wrong. Sarah has nothing in common with the kids who have arrived. They are used to creature comforts like clean beds, fresh water, air conditioning and electricity.

When Theo and her father have to leave their camp to investigate what they think are poachers,  Sarah knows something has gone terribly wrong. She is now responsible for the helpless new kids. Cute arrival Sam offers to help. He says he trusts her and will help her find her father and Theo. They  must find food, water and shelter and get to the nearest town without poachers, wild animals or something much, much worse finding them first. Sarah calls upon all her skills to find the way to a small town. Anything can go wrong. They could die of dehydration or starvation. They could wander around for days without knowing if they are going in the right direction or not. The elements will take a toll on all of them unless they get to civilization fast.

The kids know something is wrong when animals begin to act strangely. Sarah spots a silver lion who threatens her. Knowing that a male lion does not attack unprovoked, Sarah searches for answers. The kids discover a lab that she thinks her mother must also have discovered just moments before her death. Could the silver lion and Sarah's mother have something in common? Where are the lab workers? Why have they fled?

Maybe not knowing the answers to all her questions is the safest bet but Sarah is strong and inquisitive. She has Sam to depend on when the going gets tough and it is getting tougher. Sarah begins to feel lightheaded and she can't blame it all on dehydration. Sam is seriously turning up the heat.

Kalahari will take readers on a wild adventure to a different part of the world than most are familiar with. They will love Sarah and empathize with her tragic discovery about her mother's death. Most of all, readers will want Sarah to survive and save the other teens from death.

Highly recommended grade 7-up. No profanity. No sex. Violence, science gone wrong, genetics gone wrong, evil scientists.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.

This review has been posted in compliance with the FTC requirements set forth in the Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (available at

Thursday, June 11, 2015

YA and Technology Trends: A Student from Australia Interviews Me!

Australian student Stella C. asked me my thoughts on a project she is working towards. She is (in her own words): "... a 12 year student in Sydney, Australia, working towards my HSC major work for society and culture." Her area of study is this topic:

 "What will be the impact on YA literature with the increasing reliance on technology and how must authors change to accommodate to new diverse margins of society."

 She asked me questions and I answered her as thoughtfully as I could. With her permission, I am publishing this interview. I think her questions are well thought out and insightful and help us to understand what teens are thinking about YA literature and social media  not only here in the U.S. but in Australia as well. Stella, thank you for asking me these important and timely questions and allowing me to publish them here.


1.    What are your thoughts on young adult fiction as a popular culture?
YA fiction has become a part of pop culture as it moves from books and content on the Internet into movies and mainstream Hollywood. Actors who star in YA movies, think "Twilight" and "Divergent" go on to act in feature films; for example, Jennifer Lawrence gained the teen audience  in "The Hunger Games" yet went on to win an Oscar for her performance in "Silver Linings Playbooks" and was nominated for "American Hustle." She has become one of the highest paid actors in Hollywood.


2.    What do you think young adult fiction targets for their audience?
 If it is a great book the target is to entertain, to say something necessary, to bring to life characters who are amazing in some way yet seriously flawed in others, to set up events that impact the main character, to have the character face obstacles and overcome them in some way, and to have the character somehow changed by his/her journey. The reader should come away from the book feeling satisfied. Even if a main character dies, the reader should still feel good about reading the book. A great book impacts the reader; the reader will think about that book for a great long while, think To Kill a Mockingbird.


3.      Do you think this genre of novels is growing? And if so, why is there a dramatic change?
 It has been taking over the publishing market since Harry Potter. It will continue to grow as fan fiction is growing online. Many twelve year old readers are becoming writers as we speak. The next decade looks promising for publishing and fiction.


4.      Do you think that literature and novels will be a short-lived life?
 Literature will never be short lived. That's like asking if music will be short lived. Notes never go away. Words never go away. A new musician or writer will think of a new way of using them.


5.      Do you think easy access to movies and fan fiction ultimately persuades you to avoid written work?
 Absolutely not! I attend the Texas Teen Book Festival each year in Austin, Texas, which has grown to include over 150 authors per year. Thousands of readers flock to see the books and authors. I am happy to say that readers were buying tons of books in print. This is not to say that Ebooks and digital reading are not accessible. Many readers find that they like the heft and feel of the printed book. It totes well. You don't have to worry about wires or connectivity or getting it wet. You can read in almost any light source.


6.      What are your personal thoughts on eBooks, kindles and other source of technology which enhances the reading experience?
 I'm not sure this technology "enhances" the reading experience. It makes it possible to read in a variety of ways. It may help some people to learn to read. The technology makes it possible for all sorts of learners to be able to enjoy a book.


7.      Why is there such a stigma attached to adults who read young adult fiction?
 Is there a stigma? Really? The Hunger Games, Twilight and even The Diary of a Wimpy Kid did not get to the New York Times bestseller list by teens who read them. Certainly hundreds of thousands if not millions of adults read them. Fans of dystopian fiction read both YA dystopian fiction and adult dystopian fiction. In fact, there is no line in the sand between the two. I think this "stigma" is imagined--I have not seen anyone in the U.S. say that adults should not read YA. In fact, it's just the opposite. You should read what you want.


8.    How does social media and technology help promote young adult fiction?
 You are asking a blogger! The epitome of what I do is promote new and exciting titles in YA fiction. Technology makes that possible.


9.    How does the film industry present young adult adaptation? Why isn’t the film not targeted to a specific age group? How do you think they break the age barrier?

 Hollywood takes a book and brings it to life with film magic. A real reader does that for herself or himself. A reader imagines the "scenes" in the book and sees the action. Films make it possible for those who don't read to enjoy the stories. I think Hollywood does justice to YA novels for the most part.


10. Do you think the film acknowledged the author’s true ambitions of the novels’ themes?
It depends if the author is involved with the screen writing or not. In the case of several YA novels into films, the authors have had a say in screenplay and on the set. If the author has no say, the writers, directors and producers have a free for all if they want.


11. What do you think will be the next step for these authors and young adult fiction for the upcoming generations?

To continue to offer the best stories with the most compelling characters. I have heard several authors comment that writing for the YA crowd is a lot harder than writing for adults. Kids will catch all your mistakes and call you on them. Kids are less forgiving than the adult reader. And kids will call you out on social media.


Is there any other thoughts/opinions on young adult fiction and technology’s impact on this popular culture?
 I think Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and other social media are a great tool for authors to embrace. They have up to the minute details on how their novel/work is perceived. A smart author will be a tech savvy guru.
My closing thoughts: Authors, you are going to have to up your game to keep up with today's YA readers. Good luck! Pamela


Tuesday, June 2, 2015

First Look: Tales From a Not-So-Dorky Drama Queen

                                                  Get Your Own Dork Diaries Wallpaper

Tales From a Not-So-Dorky Drama Queen
(Dork Diaries, book 9)
by Rachel Renee Russell
with Nikki Russell and Erin Russell
331 pages
ISBN: 9781442487697

                                                    Look What Was on My Doorstep!

The latest in the Nikki vs  MacKenzie saga opens with Nikki telling the story  ( in her diary),  but when her locker is accidentally left open, mean girl MacKenzie swoops in to grab it for "safe keeping" and making sure some nefarious person did not steal it and spill all of Nikki's secrets. Readers hear McKenzie for the first time. Poor little rich girl MacKenzie. Her daddy  is too busy making money and her mother is too busy being a socialite to devote any family time to MacKenzie. They rely on giving their little princess the world. MacKenzie claims to be fine with it and that seeing her therapist twice a week is all the friends she needs. Savvy readers will see that MacKenzie is a lonely girl bereft of friends and family. No matter how much money she has, no matter how beautiful she is, she is a timid mouse of a girl dying to be loved and accepted. She is devious to Nikki because she is actually jealous of Nikki's family and friends and her cute boyfriend, Brandon.

There is more drama between the Best Enemies Forever. MacKenzie and Nikki get into publishing. MacKenzie takes over Nikki's newspaper advice column and Nikki and BFFs Chloe and Zoey rush to stop parts of Nikki's diary from being published. Brandon is constantly on Nikki's mind even though they have a brief misunderstanding. Middle school love is so difficult, after all.

Fans of Dork Diaries will not be disappointed with the latest installment. The animal print cover is fierce and feisty. Who can resist an animal print?

Highly, highly recommended grades 5-up and for fans of the series. Squeeee! All I can say is keep them coming,  Rachel Renee Russell!

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received the book from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.

This review has been posted in compliance with the FTC requirements set forth in the Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (available at

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Fairy Tale Twist: Prince of a Frog

Prince of a Frog
story and illustrations by Jackie Urbanovic
Orchard Books (Scholastic Inc.)
32 pages
ISBN: 9780545636520

Prince of a Frog takes the classic fairy tale and twists it in such a way that it will have kids giggling and their parents and grandparents amazed at the transformation from classic tale to new story.

Hopper is a gregarious frog who longs for fun and games, so much so, that he just doesn't fit in at the small pond. A wise old turtle advises him that he may not be a frog at all; perhaps he is a prince. Hopper isn't sure what that means but he knows he has to find a princess and kiss her. He looks high and low and nearly runs into trouble in the woods but is saved by a likeable, outgoing dog. The dog is kind and sweet and shows him that he truly is a prince and has been one all along.

Charming and sweet, Hopper and Princess are two cute characters bound to become favorites. Jackie Urbanovic hits all the right notes in this retelling of a well-known tale.

The illustrations capture the friendship and joy between the two main characters and the final page is sheer beauty!

Highly, highly recommended for any beginning reader and perfect for a friendship story.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received the F & G from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.

This review has been posted in compliance with the FTC requirements set forth in the Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (available at

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Picture Book Pick: Never Ask a Dinosaur to Dinner

Never Ask a Dinosaur to Dinner
by Gareth Edwards
Illustrations by Guy Parker-Rees
Scholastic Press
2015 (Published in U.K. 2014)
32 pages

read an excerpt

Clever rhyming content is matched with winsome and whimsical illustrations and the outcome is amazing and entertaining. A boy tries to discover which animal would be the best one for comfort at bedtime. Fierce animals like sharks, tigers and bison all have drawbacks as bedtime pals. Some animals are too loud, or too pointy, or too growly. The boy finds out that his own teddy bear is the best animal to take to bed and that counting sheep will put him fast asleep.  You won't want to ask a dinosaur to dinner, "...because a T. rex is ferocious/and his manners are atrocious,/And you'll find that if he's able.../He will eat the kitchen table!"

Dinosaurs are always  winners with the younger set and this book is no exception. The smiling blue dinosaur on the cover is ready to sit down to dinner. He's got his bib on and holds a fork and knife. Never mind the mess he's made at his feet. The boy is waving to the dinosaur ignoring his own teddy bear who is reaching up to be held. No young reader is going to walk by this book without picking it up. The cover design alone will sell this title.

Highly, highly recommended for dinosaur lovers and anyone who likes a rhyming bedtime story.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received the F & G from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.

This review has been posted in compliance with the FTC requirements set forth in the Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (available at

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Dystopian Trilogy Pick: Undertow

Undertow (book 1)
by Michael Buckley
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
376 pages
ISBN: 9780544348257
Get Ready! Undertow will make a huge splash (yes, pun intended) in YA novels this year! Gripping, action packed, full of fierce, raw energy, violent clashes between humans and "monsters," one kick axe (again, spelling intended)  girl who is willing to do anything to save both species. You will have tons of nail biting moments when you will see the pages turning at record speed, and you will find yourself hurtled into a world gone terribly wrong.

Book Giveaway: Undertow (book 1)

                                                                    View the trailer
by Michael Buckley
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
376 pages
ISBN: 9780544348257

This is the BEST YA novel I've read so far this year. You gotta get your hands on a copy! Highly, highly recommended grade 7-up. So highly recommended that I think this is the next Hollywood blockbuster! Dystopian fiction mixed with sci-fi and romance! Teen dialog is spot on. Michael Buckley, thank you for Lyric Walker, the coolest girl protagonist EVER!

I have FIVE FREE copies of Undertow up for grabs!!!! Post a comment to the blog and please include your first name, city, state and email contact. Deadline for posts is May 27 at NOON MST. I will notify winners on that day shortly after 12:00 MST. Winner will be chosen randomly  by Randomizer. Winners have 24 hours to respond to my email. Books will ship from New York. Don't miss out on your chance of winning the next big thing! Trust me, Undertow is awesome! Good luck and start posting! Pamela

Monday, May 18, 2015

Poetry Pick: Please Excuse This Poem: 100 New Poets for the Next Generation

Please Excuse This Poem: 100 New Poets for the Next Generation
Brett Fletcher Lauer & Lynn Melnick, editors
203 pages with About the Poet and Permissions pages
ISBN: 9780670014798

Please Excuse This Poem: 100 New Poets for the Next Generation is not your mama's book of poetry and it's for sure not your grandmother's poetry. This is the poetry of the street: raw, in-your-face, unapologetic and genre defying. Many of the poems throw genre and rules to the winds and take on a prose like look but sound like a defiant street prophet shouting angry verse to unwary pedestrians.

The language is raw and biting, the tone crude and unapologetic, the themes tough and urban. "Yellow Rubber Gloves" and "In Colorado My Father Scoured and Stacked Dishes" takes up the torch for minimum wage workers who are often ignored by the public performing their base jobs like mopping floors and washing dishes. "When at a Certain Party in NYC" comments that a mid-westerner would never fit in with all the "fancy" people who ooze NYC coolness. "There I Was Unrequited" ignites off the pages. The reader can feel the angst and tension in the poet's voice and the steamy rage oozes throughout the poem.

This anthology is for high school and college bound. The language is rough; the poems show a harsher reality than the poetry currently taught in schools. Some of the writing may have been torn from a diary or a scratch piece of paper. These are the thoughts that people cared about--cared enough to write them down for others to read. I would not recommend giving this collection to any person who is in a depressive state.

For a book that touts New Poets for the Next Generation, the cover has an archaic, old school typewriter--and not even an electric typewriter. This is the type of machine Clark Kent may have  used in the news room! I think the title of the book and the cover are at odds with each other. 

Recommended high school and above. Not for the faint  of heart.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.

This review has been posted in compliance with the FTC requirements set forth in the Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (available at

Friday, May 15, 2015

Monsters Love Underpants!
by Claire Freedman
Illustrations Ben Cort
2015 (published in UK in 2014)
32 pages
ISBN: 9781481442527

Monstrously wonderful illustrations by Ben Cort bring each of  the wacky monsters alive. Each seems to have his own individual personality. Sure, monsters are hairy and scary, but what few of us  know is that monsters love to wear wacky boxers and briefs. They cavort happily through the woods and have a disco ball showing off their best undergarments. They love being ugly and scary, but they love underpants more than anything!

Much of the fun of this particular children's book is in the language. British writer Clair Freedman will teach American youngsters words like: twanging, dingy, armour (notice the spelling), pinched (meaning stolen), bloomers, wobbly, jive, and snazzy.

This witty, whimsical read is sure to be a new favorite. The children's pet cat appears at the beginning and ending, but  he adds greatly to the story.  He is visibly on edge and ready to spit and scratch and probably run away.

Recommended for early readers and anyone who loves crazy underpants.

FTC Required Disclosure: I received this book form the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.

This review has been posted in compliance with the FTC requirements set forth in the Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (available at