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Blog Tours, Fantasy, Legends, Myths & Fables, YA Paranormal, Young Adult Fiction

Blog Tour [ Review]: Sisters of the Moon

Author: Alexandra Weis
Publisher: Vesuvian Books

Release Date: September 22nd, 2020
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal Fantasy

*Thank you Vesuvian Books and Jean BookNerd Blog tours for providing a review copy and for the opportunity to be on this tour. *

Where to buy: AMAZON 

Rating 4/5 Stars

Synopsis

A monstrous fate will turn a girl into a legend.

On an island in Lake Obersee, where The Sisters of St. Gertrude abide, a destitute Moor named Durra arrives. Sold for taxes, she and her two companions tend to the nuns and their collection of cats. At night, she combs the library for details on the order, the remote island, and the beasts howling outside her window.

But when a prank reveals the sisters’ gruesome secret, Durra is forced to accept a new fate. Bestowed an unearthly power, she must choose between life as a nun or living among the monsters beyond the convent walls.

Her path is about to change the tide in the ultimate war. The war between good and evil.

Praise for SISTERS OF THE MOON

“Alexandrea Weis does an outstanding job of painting succinct, hard-hitting scenes that carry Durra from a new role in a convent to a more active position confronting supernatural forces and long-hidden truths that could change not just her life, but the world. Sisters of the Moon represents a fine example of the use of the novella form at its best. It creates a superior blend of action, mystery, and evolving protagonist dilemmas and growth that will keep readers on their toes and involved up to the story’s epilogue of unexpected lessons in survival and achievement. Highly recommended for those who like their supernatural mystery stories to embrace a sense of character growth where the fine line between good and evil proves more mercurial than most.” —D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review

“While a horror story on the surface, Sisters of the Moon is more than a simple tale of three young women sold to satisfy the debts of others who uncover a dark secret. It’s more than just a fresh take on the werewolf mythos or another banal story about the age-old battle between good and evil. Stunning in its imagery and richly detailed, Weis’s Sisters of the Moon blends history and religion into a tale of sisterhood and empowerment as delightfully slow-burning as it is sinister, smart, and not at all shy about probing the status quo of the treatment of women who challenge patriarchal systems–and who fight to defend what is right. Sisters of the Moon is the kind of supernatural gothic horror women readers in the genre have been waiting for.” —Seven Jane, The Nerd Daily  

Review

Sisters of the Moon takes us on the journey of Durra, Emily and Leida, three girls sold off to a convent for tax money. Durra and Emily are both slaves, while Leida was sold off due to a sexual act that was deemed unholy. Before I continue the review, I do want to mention some content warnings: there is mention of sex slavery, sexual abuse towards a child/minor and physical abuse. Please use discretion when reading if any of the above is a trigger or area of discomfort for you.

We start the story with Durra, Emily and Leida tied inside a boat awaiting their fate. All fear the possibility of death or a crueler punishment they have faced before. When they arrive to their destination, they realize they are being sold to work in a convent. But nothing is all as it seems and this convent is not like the ones many people know. There is something different, almost supernatural with the land surrounding the convent. But the girls are being treated much better than their previous homes and most of their weariness is blanketed by the hospitality and sense of protection they feel. But after a prank gone wrong, Durra must figure out what her next step will be – stay or risk everything and leave.

I haven’t read a paranormal fantasy in sometime, so this was both refreshing and intriguing. There is some religious presence to it that someone who doesn’t follow religion won’t be too off put by. Yes, there’s a convent, but it is nothing like the ones we have heard about. They have pictures and history of saints no one has heard of. Their convent also houses cats, which is peculiar given the notation that most Christians as Leida pointed out would have called a witch trial just seeing the sight of cats in a convent. In regards to the people in the convent, I admired how the convent was built by the women who have faced similar fates as Durra.

“I have no fear of monsters—I have known many in my life.”

This quote resonated the most because the girls, especially durra have less fear for the supernatural than the man who have put them through tortuous and unspeakable acts of abuse. The supernatural are seen as a walk in the park compared to the men Durra has encountered. Without spoiling much of the supernatural component, let’s just say it’s the howl that sucks me into this story. Speaking of Durra, she is such a brave and empowering character. She continues to show just how powerful she is and how much she did not let her past define her. Emily is full of spunk and sass and really brings levity to Durra’s more serious nature. Leida finishes that compliment by being the newest to this experience. She still has a sense of innocence that have been torn form both Durra and Emily through their lives as slaves. All characters were so well written and really worked well in the larger story. I couldn’t help but invested in all three journeys.

“Men are afraid of what they do not know, but women embrace it.”

A tale full of mystery and dark secrets, Sisters of the moon is an eerie novel that is perfect for the spooky season. It tackles the pain each girl has experienced and uses that pain to grow and embrace the unknown. Alexandra Weis beautifully creates a backdrop full of horror, intrigue and curiosity. This book is a page turner that will keep you on your toes, send shivers down your spine while you yearn for more pages to magically appear.

About The Author

Alexandrea Weis, RN-CS, PhD, is a multi-award-winning author of over twenty-seven novels, a screenwriter, ICU Nurse, and historian who was born and raised in the French Quarter of New Orleans. Having grown up in the motion picture industry as the daughter of a director, she learned to tell stories from a different perspective and began writing at the age of eight. Infusing the rich tapestry of her hometown into her novels, she believes that creating vivid characters makes a story moving and memorable. A member of the Horror Writers Association and International Thriller Writers Association, Weis writes mystery, suspense, thrillers, horror, crime fiction, and romance. She lives with her husband and pets in New Orleans where she is a permitted/certified wildlife rehabber with the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries and rescues orphaned and injured animals.

Author Links: Website | Twitter | Goodreads | Facebook | Instagram

And now for a Giveaway!!!

Click on the picture to enter the giveaway!!

1 Winner will receive the SISTERS OF THE MOON Storytellers BOX (Grim Reader Collection).Ends November 16th, 2020

Giveaway is open to International. | Must be 13+ to Enter

Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/e849f7751945/

Anthologies, Blog Tours, Young Adult Fiction

Blog Tour [Review]: Rural Voices

Author: Rural Voices
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Release Date: October 13th, 2020
Genre: Young Adult Fiction

*Thank you Candlewick Press and Jean BookNerd Blog tours for providing a review copy and for the opportunity to be on this tour. *

Where to buy: AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | BOOK DEPOSITORY

Rating 4/5 stars

Synopsis

Think you know what rural America is like? Discover a plurality of perspectives in this enlightening anthology of stories that turns preconceptions on their head.

Gracie sees a chance of fitting in at her South Carolina private school, until a “white trash”-themed Halloween party has her steering clear of the rich kids. Samuel’s Tejano family has both stood up to oppression and been a source of it, but now he’s ready to own his true sexual identity. A Puerto Rican teen in Utah discovers that being a rodeo queen means embracing her heritage, not shedding it. . . .

For most of America’s history, rural people and culture have been casually mocked, stereotyped, and, in general, deeply misunderstood. Now an array of short stories, poetry, graphic short stories, and personal essays, along with anecdotes from the authors’ real lives, dives deep into the complexity and diversity of rural America and the people who call it home. Fifteen extraordinary authors – diverse in ethnic background, sexual orientation, geographic location, and socioeconomic status – explore the challenges, beauty, and nuances of growing up in rural America. From a mountain town in New Mexico to the gorges of New York to the arctic tundra of Alaska, you’ll find yourself visiting parts of this country you might not know existed – and meet characters whose lives might be surprisingly similar to your own.  

CONTRIBUTING AUTHORS
Nora Shalaway Carpenter, David Bowles, Joseph Bruchac, Veeda Bybee, Shae Carys, S.A. Cosby, Rob Costello, Randy DuBurke, David Macinnis Gill, Nasugraq Rainey Hopson, Estelle Laure, Yamile Saied Méndez, Ashley Hope Pérez, Tirzah Price and Monica Roe

Praise for RURAL VOICES

The writers bring authentic voices to their work in addition to their biographies, shared at the back of the book. This collection will be a high-interest read for middle and high school students…This book is a must-purchase for libraries serving middle and high school readers. —School Library Connection

The compilation successfully meets the challenge of serving as a cohesive whole while providing readers with enough variety of tone, pace, and voice to keep the reading experience interesting. A fresh and highly accessible contribution. —Kirkus Reviews

From laughing out loud to holding back tears, readers who enjoy emotionally resonant books will not be disappointed. Those from similar geographic areas will be nodding their heads while every reader, regardless of location, will connect to the universal triumphs and tribulations of teen life. Fans of Rainbow Rowell will dive headfirst into this collection. A great addition that explores an often misrepresented portion of readers. —School Library Journal  

Review

Rural Voices was a read that definitely surprised me in a good way. It is an anthology that challenges what many non-rural growing folks know and think about small towns of America. It gives us delightful reads of aspiring rodeo queens, while also tackling tougher topics like child & sexual abuse. Rural Voices gave us a diverse set of authors writing about the small town life and how it had shaped how the are today in some ways.

I enjoyed this anthology mostly for the variety in stories being told. Each story challenged what I personally saw as rural small town life. This anthology also challenged many stereotypes often about small town folks. It was a page turning experience because each story provided a new face, a new town and a new intriguing read. You get spooky encounters, farming life, unique family dynamics and so much more. Rural voices knew how to me chuckle and pull at my heart strings at the same time. It was nothing like I’ve read before in anthologies and I appreciated that.

As a born and bred city girl who has probably never been to a small rural town, this anthology honestly persuaded me to get out some of these places. Somethings it’s good to read about a simple, yet fulfilling lifestyle when you come from the city of the Bronx Bombers [Yankees]. One critique I did have was in terms of pacing. As with many other short stories I have read, pacing in some of the stories started pretty slow and had to play catch up to quickly since there was a limitation in how much one can write. In regards to the individual stories themselves, I really enjoyed reading Island Rodeo Queen by Yamile Saied Méndez and What Home Is by Ashley Hope Pérez. Island Rodeo Queen is about a young girl who dreams to be a rodeo star one day. It was definitely the feel good kind of story you’ll want to read on a fall day on your porch with a side of coffee. What Home Is about the meaning of home written in poem form. This story was strong and emotional and pulled so hard at my heartstrings. I welcomed the different writing style because it made the story much more powerful.

If you are looking for an anthology that will give you a diverse set of voices while challenging what you know about small towns in America, than this is a book you’ll want to pick up.

Guest Post

Finding Inspiration by Ashley Hope Pérez

I’m the sort of writer who grows every story, poem, and novel through a slow accumulation of writing rooted in tiny bits of feeling or observation. It’s not the most efficient practice, but it’s the only way that feels true for me.

Even when I know what scene I’m working on, I still like to begin by spending time playing so that I feel lively and fresh in language. What does that look like? Read on for five of the strategies I have used to get going when it’s time to write.

Oh, and I like to think of these as invitations, not exercises, because the point is to sneakily invite myself to keep writing beyond the prompt. I hope you enjoy!

XOXO,

Ashley Hope Pérez
http://www.ashleyperez.com

INVITATION #1:
 List 20 things you’ve seen in the day so far. They can be objects, scenes, or interactions. then pick one that feels evocative or “alive” and free write with it.

I do this one over and over, and use dozens of variations, such as inserting one of the “live” objects into a scene, imagining my character in a place where I’ve been, or, in the case of physical items, thinking about what the character would think about them. Would they treasure an object? View it as trash? What is their relationship to the things around them?

INVITATION #2:
Flex your muscles as a stylist. Find a paragraph of prose you admire. Write it out longhand just to get the feel of those amazing words coming out of your own pen (on loan). Notice the joints within and between sentences, how they fit together and flow.

Now write your own paragraph (on whatever subject you choose), modeling each sentence exactly on the paragraph you admire. Try to stick to your model; the idea is to pay attention to how writing moves at the sentence level—and to get infected by gorgeous prose. Here’s an example:

Gil Adamson’s opening sentence in her novel The Outlander: “It was night, and dogs came through the trees, unleashed and howling.”

Ashley’s sentence: It was noon, and salmon arced up out of the stream, rainbowed and gleaming.

What’s awesome about this prompt? You can use it over and over, so it’s a perfect building block for a writing ritual. Best of all, you can surprise yourself into a twist in your narrative.

INVITATION #3:
Take a break from structure and write blind (literally, if you can touch type). Set a timer for 10 minutes and write without stopping, not worrying about punctuation or even making sense. Repeat words if you get stuck; there’s no wrong way to do this.

Your goal is to get to a state where your internal editor can’t block anything (some people call this “automatic writing”). Just write—riding emotions, not worrying if anything is “okay” or not. When the timer goes off, look at what you’ve written. Most of it will be gibberish, but you may well have tricked yourself into writing a gem of an image or revealing a raw emotion that you can graft onto a character.

This may work best first thing in the morning when your brain is closest to that crazy underworld of dreams.

INVITATION #4:
Get to know one of your characters better—or invent one out of the blue—by forcing him or her to play two truths and a lie. If you’ve never played this party game, it goes like this. You offer three statements about yourself, two of which are true and one of which is false. The object (for others) is to identify the lie. For example:

(1) At 7, I chose the bedroom farthest away from the street because I was afraid of being tempted to sneak out of the house when I was older.

(2) At 15, I entered a photography competition with an image entitled, “Hangin’ like a Hose.”

(3) At 18, I got my first ticket in Austin, TX, for a curfew violation at Mt. Bonnell Park.

 (If you’re nosy my deception is revealed here: https://ashleyperez.com/2011/07/deception-revealed-my-fear-of-drive-bys/.)


This exercise can teach you a lot about your character. There are the truths themselves, which can force you to think about out-of-the-ordinary qualities of your character. But there’s also the particularity of how your character plays. What’s her strategy? Does she hope to shock and share titillating revelations, or is she trying to get through the game while sharing as little information as possible?

INVITATION #5:
These are different ways of discovering more about your character(s) by taking something away from them.

INDIRECTION: Put two of your characters together somewhere that’s not a kitchen, car, or living room. Give one (or both) something they want to say, but write the scene without them explicitly saying it.

TAKE IT AWAY: Think of something your character has (a quality, a skill, an asset) that is important to your story. Take it away. What now?

NEVER WOULD I…: What’s something your character would *never* do, and what circumstances might undo that prohibition? Then what?

What I love about this is that it forces me to make my character more resourceful (in the case of the first two) and allows me to explore what would make them “act out of character”—which is essential for knowing them on a deeper level. Capturing inconsistency or deviation is part of crafting an authentic character.

ABOUT ASHELY HOPE PEREZ
Ashley Hope Pérez grew up in the Piney Woods of East Texas and is the author of three novels. Her most recent, Out of Darkness, was described by the New York Times as a “layered tale of color lines, love and struggle” and was named one of Booklist’s 50 Best YA Books of All Time. It also won a 2016 Tomás Rivera Book Award, a 2016 Américas Award, and a 2016 Michael L. Printz Honor from the American Library Association. When she’s not writing or hanging out with her two beautiful sons, Liam Miguel and Ethan Andrés, she works as an assistant professor of world literature at The Ohio State University.

About the Author/Editor

Photo Credit: Chip Bryan

Nora Shalaway Carpenter grew up on a mountain ridge deep in the West Virginia wilderness. A graduate of Vermont College of Fine Arts’ MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults program, she is the author of the YA novel The Edge of Anything and the picture book Yoga Frog. Before she wrote books, she worked as associate editor of Wonderful West Virginia magazine, and she has been a certified yoga teacher since 2012. She currently lives in Asheville, North Carolina, with her husband, three young children, and world’s most patient dog and cat.  

Author Links: Website | Twitter | Goodreads | Facebook | Instagram

And now for a Giveaway!

Click the Rafflecopter pic to enter the giveaway!

5 Winners will receive a Copy of RURAL VOICES Edited by Nora Shalaway Carpenter.

Blog Tours, Fantasy, Young Adult Fiction

Blog Tour [Review]: A Golden Fury

Click Here to check out the Blog Tour
Author: Samantha Cohoe
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Release Date: October 13th, 2020
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

*Thank you Wednesdays book for the opportunity to review and be part of the blog tour!*

Where to Buy: Amazon | Barnes & Noble  | Bookshop.org | Books-A-Million

Rating 3/5 Stars

Synopsis

Set in eighteenth century England, Samantha Cohoe’s debut novel, A GOLDEN FURY (Wednesday Books; October 13, 2020), follows a young alchemist as she tries to save the people she loves from the curse of the Philosopher’s Stone. The streets of London and Oxford come to life as this historical fantasy unravels. Weaving together an alluring story of magic and danger, Samantha’s debut has her heroine making messy decisions as she toes the line between good and evil while it becomes blurred.

Thea Hope longs to be an alchemist out of the shadow of her famous mother. The two of them are close to creating the legendary Philosopher’s Stone—whose properties include immortality and can turn any metal into gold—but just when the promise of the Stone’s riches is in their grasp, Thea’s mother destroys the Stone in a sudden fit of violent madness.

While combing through her mother’s notes, Thea learns that there’s a curse on the Stone that causes anyone who tries to make it to lose their sanity. With the threat of the French Revolution looming, Thea is sent to Oxford for her safety, to live with the father who doesn’t know she exists.

But in Oxford, there are alchemists after the Stone who don’t believe Thea’s warning about the curse—instead, they’ll stop at nothing to steal Thea’s knowledge of how to create the Stone. But Thea can only run for so long, and soon she will have to choose: create the Stone and sacrifice her sanity, or let the people she loves die.

A GOLDEN FURY and the curse of the Philosopher’s Stone will haunt you long after the final page.

*A Nerd Daily YA Debut to Watch Out for in 2020*

“Sharply written with a crackling, compassionately determined heroine, A Golden Fury is a vivid ride through eighteenth century Europe with darkness and dread creeping at its corners. Utterly enchanting.”

– Emily A. Duncan, New York Times bestselling author of Wicked Saints

“An engaging concoction of fantasy, romance, and historical fiction.” Booklist

“Cohoe situates the supernatural among the historical, referencing the French Revolution and the Enlightenment while…keeping a sense of urgency as Thea struggles with the magical, demonic pull of the Stone.”

Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

“The attention to detail in the story is excellent…. Thea herself is a confident lead with a strong voice. A solid fantasy to

flesh out the world of alchemy that most readers know only from ‘Harry Potter.'” School Library Journal

“Cohoe transmutes the legend of the Philosopher’s Stone into a dark, intoxicating tale of ambition, obsession, and sacrifice. Prepare for a magic that will consume you.”

– Rosamund Hodge, New York Times bestselling author of Cruel Beauty and Bright Smoke, Cold Fire

“Steeped in mystery and magic, Samantha Cohoe’s A Golden Fury immerses readers in beautifully rendered world where magic and science mix, and where the intoxication of power can be deadly. Whip-smart Thea is a heroine readers will root for.” – Lisa Maxwell, New York Times bestselling author of The Last Magician

Review

Alchemy? A Philosopher’s Stone? A dark secret? A Golden Fury by Samantha Cohoe has all three and more. A magical read about a powerful curse and the girl who is trying to warn everyone and save them. This was a delightful read that felt a bit short in the excitement area.

Let’s begin with what I enjoyed…..

I think the author has the potential to create a creative storyline. This was shown at the very beginning of the novel. I enjoyed the backdrop of Thea and her mother’s story. Two alchemists close to creating the elusive Philosopher’s stone. But through the work, we also are introduced to the relationship between Thea and her mother and realize all is not glitz and glamor. Thea, desperately wants to leave the emotional abusive person her mother is. Her mother’s madness prompts Thea to find a solution to cure it, thus beginning Thea’s own journey into creating a Philosopher’s Stone of her own. Without spoiling anything, the story takes a dark turn and you begin to question which character Thea can truly trust. I enjoyed the mystery of figuring it all out.

 As you may have seen in my previous reviews, I am really driven by characters and Thea was another character I enjoyed. She was relatable in some way, was not perfect and was allowed to make and learn from her mistakes. The author did not disappoint in that part and I was very pleased with reading Thea’s character development. Thea’s focus toward her craft was a bit of a refresher from stories geared mostly toward a romantic partner or romance storyline.

I loved the focus on Alchemy. As a person who grew up watching Full Metal Alchemist, this part of the book intrigued me the most and was my second driving force to finishing it. I would be happy to see more works with this magic focus from the author.

Now on to the part I felt meh about….

While the first part of the book had a strong storyline, the last third of the book felt unfinished. You get a sprinkle of a romance that I would have liked to see develop earlier in the story and you are left with an average ending. To sum it up, the pacing felt a bit off and may have made an overall story with great potential fall just a little short. With that being said, was it terrible? Not at all. Would I still recommend? Of course! This book will have a fan base in anyone who loves magic mixed with a historical element.

Samantha Cohoe

About the Author

Samantha Cohoe writes historically-inspired young adult fantasy. She was raised in San Luis Obispo, California, where she enjoyed an idyllic childhood of beach trips, omnivorous reading, and writing stories brimming with adverbs. She currently lives in Denver with her family and divides her time among teaching Latin, mothering, writing, reading, and deleting adverbs. A Golden Fury is her debut novel.

Author Links: Instagram | Twitter

Uncategorized

Book Tour [Review]: Blazewrath Games

Click this link to follow the Book Tour!
Author: Amparo Ortiz
Publisher: Page Street Kids
Release Date: October 6th, 2020
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

*Thank you Hear Our Voice Blog Tours and Page Street Kids for the opportunity to be a part of this tour!*

Where to Buy: Amazon | Barnes & Noble  | Bookshop.org | Book Depository | Books-A-Million

Rating 5/5 Stars

Synopsis

Experience the World Cup with dragons in this debut fantasy, set in an alternate contemporary world, in which riders and their steeds compete in an international sports tournament

Lana Torres has always preferred dragons to people. In a few weeks, sixteen countries will compete in the Blazewrath World Cup, a tournament where dragons and their riders fight for glory in a dangerous relay. Lana longs to represent her native Puerto Rico in their first ever World Cup appearance, and when Puerto Rico’s Runner—the only player without a dragon steed—is kicked off the team, she’s given the chance.

But when she discovers that a former Blazewrath superstar has teamed up with the Sire—a legendary dragon who’s cursed into human form—the safety of the Cup is jeopardized. The pair are burning down dragon sanctuaries around the world and refuse to stop unless the Cup gets cancelled. All Lana wanted was to represent her country. Now, to do that, she’ll have to navigate an international conspiracy that’s deadlier than her beloved sport.

Review

I came for Puerto Rican Dragons and I left the book with so much more. Blazewrath Games was such a good unique young adult fantasy read. It gave such a fresh new perspective to the genre and was overall masterfully written. Amparo Ortiz gives us a diverse set of characters that you feel invested in caring for. All of the character are pivotal to Lana’s [main character] story arc that you couldn’t help but also want to see them flourish and have their stories known. Ortiz’s writing is so descriptive, but it leaves room for the mind to fill in the blanks. The author also paid great attention to different parts of the story, especially when discussing the tournaments Let’s just say, if Dragons existed, I would 100% believe everything they wrote.

In regards to characters, Lana is such a strongly and well written protagonist. She is also someone you can relate to because she makes mistakes, has some doubts and keeps trying. Born in Puerto Rico, Lana is moved by her mother to the United states where she struggles to figure out if she is Boricua enough. As someone who has and sometimes still goes through that struggle, I felt the struggle was so well reflected in Lana. It resonated a lot with me and I felt more compelled to this book as I turned each page. The author did not only deliver such a great relatable protagonist, she also graced us with some really good supporting characters. As mentioned earlier, each supporting character like Lana’s best friend Samira who is just full of life. She created supporting characters that I could visualize having their own rich story, and that is something that I usually do not see often in books.

I appreciated that this story did not have a formulated focus on romance and focused more on the dragons and the sport itself. I was here for the dragons and I got the dragons and good friendship and just a fantastic storyline. She took the unconventional route by not adding a strong romance and it kept me reading. To be clear, I love romance, but I also love when an author takes a different approach and doesn’t have the story focus on a romance.

If you want a story full or originality, good Latinx representation as well as other identity representations, page turning storyline – then this is the book for you!

About the Author

Amparo Ortiz was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and currently lives on the island’s northeastern coast. Her short story comic, “What Remains in The Dark,” appears in the Eisner Award-winning anthology PUERTO RICO STRONG (Lion Forge, 2018), and SAVING CHUPIE, her middle grade graphic novel, comes out with HarperCollins in Winter 2022. She holds an M.A. in English and a B.A. in Psychology from the UPR’s Río Piedras campus. When she’s not teaching ESL to her college students, she’s teaching herself Korean, devouring as much young adult fiction as she can, and writing about Latinx characters in worlds both contemporary and fantastical. Her debut novel, BLAZEWRATH GAMES, hits shelves on October 6, 2020 from Page Street Kids.

Author Links: Website | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest

Dragon photos credit: Animal vector created by freepik – www.freepik.com & Chinese vector created by freepik – www.freepik.com

Blog Tours, Book Spotlights, Young Adult Fiction

Excerpt Reveal: The Code for Love and Heartbreak

Happy Friday everyone! I am happy to partner with Inkyard press to give a sneak peak of The Code for Love and Heartbreak by Jillian Cantor.

THE CODE FOR LOVE AND HEARTBREAK
Author: Jillian Cantor
Publication Date: October 6, 2020 Publisher: Inkyard Press

Where to buy: Harlequin | Indiebound | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Synopsis

In this contemporary romcom retelling of Jane Austen’s Emma by USA TODAY bestselling author Jillian Cantor, there’s nothing more complex—or unpredictable—than love.

When math genius Emma and her coding club co-president, George, are tasked with brainstorming a new project, The Code for Love is born.

George disapproves of Emma’s idea of creating a matchmaking app, accusing her of meddling in people’s lives. But all the happy new couples at school are proof that the app works. At least at first.

Emma’s code is flawless. So why is it that perfectly matched couples start breaking up, the wrong people keep falling for each other, and Emma’s own feelings defy any algorithm?

…and now for a Sneak peek!

PROLOGUE

 I’ve always loved numbers a whole lot more than I love people. For one thing, I can make numbers behave any way I want them to. No arguments, no questions. I write a line of code, and my computer performs a specific and very regulated task. Numbers don’t play games or hide behind some nuance I’ve missed. I write an equation, then formulate a definitive and absolutely correct answer.

And maybe most importantly, numbers never leave me. I tell this to Izzy as she’s sitting on her suitcase, trying to force it closed, having just packed the last of her closet before leaving for her freshman year at UCLA, which is exactly 2,764 miles from our house in Highbury, New Jersey. A number which seems insurmountable, and which makes me think that after this day, Izzy’s last one at home until Christmas break, we’ll be more like two strangers floating across a continent from one another than sisters.

 “Numbers,” I say to Izzy now, “are much better than people.”

 “You’re such a nerd, Em,” Izzy says, but she stops what she’s doing and squeezes my arm affectionately, before finally getting the suitcase to zip. She’s a nerd, too, but not for numbers like me—for books. Izzy is running 2,764 miles away from New Jersey to read, to major in English at UCLA. Which is ridiculous, given she could’ve done the same at Rutgers, or the College of New Jersey, or almost any one of the other sixty-two colleges in our state, any of which would’ve been within driving distance so we could’ve seen each other on weekends. Izzy says she’s going to California for the sunshine, but Dad and I both know the real reason is that her boyfriend, John, decided to go to UCLA to study film. Izzy chose John over me, and that part stings the most.

“I can’t believe you’re actually going,” I say, and not for the first time. I’ve been saying this to Izzy all summer, hoping she might change her mind. But now that her suitcase is zipped, it feels like she’s really leaving, and my eyes start to well up. I do love numbers more than people. Most people.

 Izzy and I are only seventeen months apart, and our mom died when we were both toddlers. Dad works a lot, and Izzy and I have barely been apart for more than a night in as long as I can remember, much less months.

 She stops messing with her suitcase now, walks over to where I’m sitting on her bed and puts her arm around me. I lean my head on her shoulder, and breathe in the comforting scent of her strawberry shampoo, one last time. “I’m going to miss you, too, Em,” she says. “But you’re going to have a great senior year.” She says it emphatically, her voice filled with enthusiasm that I don’t believe or even understand.

“You really could stay,” I say. “You got into two colleges in New Jersey.” This has been my argument to her all summer. I keep thinking if I say it enough she really will change her mind. But even as I say it, I know it’s probably too late for her to change anything for fall semester now, no matter how much I might want her to. And she just looks back at me with worry all over her face.

“Em, you know I can’t.”

“Can’t or won’t?” I wipe my nose with the back of my hand, pulling away from her.

She leaves me on her bed, and goes back to her suitcase. She shifts it around, props it upright and then looks back at me. “You know what you need?” she says, breathing hard from managing the weight of her entire life, crammed inside this giant suitcase. “To get out there this year. Be more social. Get some friends. Maybe even a boyfriend.”

 “A boyfriend?” I half laugh, half sniffle at the ridiculousness of it.

“If you keep busy, you won’t even notice I’m gone.” She speaks quickly, excitedly. There’s nothing Izzy likes more than a good plan, but this sounds terrible to me. “Christmas will be here before you know it—” she’s still talking “—then next year, you’ll be off to college, too.”

 Maybe that would be true for her, if I were the one leaving, and if she were staying here. If I were the older one, leaving for California first, Izzy would stay here, spend the year with John and barely even notice my absence. Which is what I guess she’s about to do at UCLA. But I’ve always needed Izzy much more than she’s needed me.

“I hate being social. And I don’t want a boyfriend,” I say. “And anyway, you know what the boys are like at our high school. No thanks.” Mostly, they’re intimidated by me and my penchant for math, and I find their intimidation so annoying that I can barely even stand to have a conversation with them, much less a date. And the few that aren’t? Well, the one that isn’t—George—is my equal and co-president of coding club. He also happens to be John’s younger brother. We’re something like friends, George and I. Or maybe not, because we don’t really hang out outside of family stuff, school or coding club, and I guess in a way we’re supposed to be rivals. One of us will for certain be valedictorian of our class this year. The other will be salutatorian. And knowing George, he’s going to be more than a little bit annoyed when he’s staring at my back during graduation.

“You love numbers so much and you’re so good at coding,” Izzy says now with a flip of her blond curls over her shoulder. She wheels the suitcase toward her bedroom door and stops and looks back at me. “You could always code yourself a boyfriend.” She shrugs, then laughs a little, trying to make this moment lighter.

I don’t even crack a smile. “That’s a really ridiculous thing to say,” I tell her. “Thank God you’re going to be an English major.”

 But later, after it all fell apart, I would blame her. I’d say that it was all Izzy’s fault, that she started the unraveling of everything with her one stupid offhand comment on the morning that she left me.

Excerpted from The Code For Love and Heartbreak by Jillian Cantor Copyright © Jillian Cantor. Published by Inkyard Press.

About the Author

Jillian Cantor is the author of award-winning and bestselling novels for adults and teens, including In Another Time, The Hours Count, Margot, and The Lost Letter, which was a USA Today bestseller. She has a BA in English from Penn State University and an MFA from the University of Arizona. Cantor lives in Arizona with her husband and two sons.

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