The Chance You Won’t Return Launch Party!

The Chance You Won’t Return‘s release date is less than a month away, which obviously means my mind is turning to thoughts of celebration. Because you need tasty treat and a new outfit for your book birthday, right?

If you’re in the Boston area and want to join me for an evening of reading, happy dances, and tasty treats, come to The Chance You Won’t Return launch party at Porter Square Books!

The details:

The Chance You Won’t Return Launch Party
April 29, 2014
Porter Square Books
25 White Street
Cambridge, MA 02140

Come for the Q&A, stay for the happy dancing and book signing! There’s an event page for it over at my Facebook page, in case you want to be all official and RSVP.

I’d really appreciate seeing friendly faces, so please come out on April 29!

Ten Reasons Why You Should Read…Wish You Were Italian by Kristin Rae

Getting Wish You Were Italian by Kristin Rae in the mail made me so happy. In the middle of late New England winter, I was so happy just to see its bright cover and promise of Italian summer adventures, gelato, and lots of swoony goodness. The book delivered on all of that and more. Here are a few of my reasons why you need to read Wish You Were Italian.

1. Be Italian
This reason alone should be enough to have you grabbing for this book. Instead of getting stuck in art history class, Pippa takes a chance on exploring Italy, getting to know its people, and seeing amazing, beautiful, and historic places. I loved traveling along with her. Rae balances perfectly between seeing famous sites and getting to know more of Italy as its seen from the people who live there day-to-day.

2. Summer Lovin’
Pippa’s romantic encounters were so charming and thoughtful and swoony. The boys involved are charming in their own individual ways, and you can totally see why Pippa goes for them. (Seriously, Pippa and Darren’s flirting is so freaking cute and so real–I want to hang out with them!) And I love how relatable Pippa is in each of these relationships; so often I thought “That is totally how it is when you’re crushing!” Even with all the swoony goodness, the relationships felt so real and complex and heart-warming and challenging.

3. Friends Forever
I also loved that Pippa had great female friends in her life. Between Morgan, her friend at home who sends Pippa to Italy with the coolest journal (seriously, can I have one?), and Chiara, Pippa’s new Italian friend who provides a great dose of warmth and spunk, friendship in this book is just as important as romance. Kudos to Rae for that.

4. Gram
Pippa is super close with her grandmother, who is a wonderful addition to the story. She understands Pippa and encourages her to take chances. Their relationship worked especially well, as Pippa’s relationship with her parents is strained (more on that below). It felt so real to see generations of one family struggling with how to get along and bonding in their own particular ways.

5. Another Scoop of Gelato, Please
Seriously, read this book with a pint of gelato in the freezer and a gourmet pizza delivery on the way. Kristin, I totally expect a follow-up cookbook. Mangia!

6. Even on Vacation, Bad Things Happen
All of the above goodness isn’t to say that Wish You Were Italian is totally light and fluffy. Without spoiling anything, I’ll just say that there are some truly heartbreaking moments–which make the book even better. I love that Rae doesn’t shy away from real problems throughout.

7. Mothers and Daughters
Okay, so maybe I’m a sucker for mother-daughter drama. ;) But I was so pleased to see Pippa’s relationship with her mother get developed in surprising and touching ways. Again, I don’t want to give anything away, but I didn’t expect this layer at all when I started reading, and it ended up being such a real, lovely part of the book.

8. Taking Chances…
A lot of Wish You Were Italian has to do with taking risks and putting yourself out there. Morgan’s journal spurs Pippa to try new things, and Pippa herself makes a huge leap when she decides to take hold of her own life for the summer. As someone who’s not a huge risk-taker, this got me (and I’m sure will get other readers) thinking about what risks we take in our daily lives. Which connects with…

9. …Making Connections
Wish You Were Italian shows that sometimes taking changes and small decisions to put ourselves out there ultimately foster surprising new connections and relationships. At one point, Pippa realizes that she’s surrounded by people who care about her because of a small choice she made early on, which I just loved and feels so much like how real life works.

10. Viva Kristin!
Kristin Rae is a super sweet 2014 debut author, OneFour KidLit-er and fellow chocolate addict. She also shared the news that Wish You Were Italian isn’t her only big 2014 debut–her baby girl is due this summer!!! Make sure to follow Kristin for all sorts of wonderful adventures.

Friday Fifteen

So glad it’s Friday! Here are this week’s micro book reviews:

1. I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
Quiet and charming; I remember the vibe more than the plot details.

2. Kirsten Learns a Lesson (American Girls: Kirsten #2) by Janet Beeler Shaw
Not my favorite growing up, but looking back themes of language/communication were handled really nicely.

3. The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
Read it for class and ended up devouring it like I was reading for fun.

4. Florence and Eric Take the Cake by Jocelyn Wild
Maybe if they were goats, not lambs, this hat/cake mix-up wouldn’t have been a problem.

5. A Swiftly Tilting Planet by Madeleine L’Engle
Last of the Time books, and the one I remember least.

Friday Fifteen

We made it to Friday! Time for some micro-book reviews.

1. How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff
Kept thinking how this could easily have been published under literary fiction.

2. Aloft by Chang-rae Lee
Hard to relate to middle-aged Jerry when you’re a college student.

3. Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
Damnit, White, you win forever. Includes maybe my favorite line in all of literature.

4. Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris
Maybe not as laugh-out-loud as Me Talk Pretty, but lots of good Sedaris-ness here.

5. A Fruit Is a Suitcase for Seeds by Jean Richards
Nice intro to plant science, and one of my favorite adorable titles.

Drum Roll Please…The Chance You Won’t Return ARC Giveaway Winner!

Thanks so much to everyone who commented on/tweeted about/shared the giveaway post! Reading all of your spring favorites made me feel:

I put all the entries into a random number generator/particle collider and the winner is…

Rachel Lynn Solomon!

Congratulations, Rachel! I really hope you enjoy The Chance You Won’t Return, and sending lots of good farewell-rain boots vibes your way. I’ll be in contact about mailing stuff.

Thanks again to everyone who entered. This was my first blog giveaway and it was a lot of fun! Look for others in the future, and happy (almost, really!) spring to all!

Links Galore

Lots of awesome links for the week:

Ten Reasons Why You Should Read…Far From You by Tess Sharpe

I was so psyched to dive into Tess Sharpe’s Far From YouAt the Fourteenery retreat, I heard Tess read a little aloud and her writing blew me away. Add that to the fact that she’s weaved a compelling mystery and touching relationships, and Far From You is a must-read. A little more in depth as to why this should be on your pre-order list:

1. Mystery
I have major respect for anyone that can pull of a good mystery. Tess definitely delivers in that department–I spent a lot of the book thinking “Oh, I bet it’s this person…but what about this person?” (This was especially exciting after reading Gone Girl and figuring out the ‘twist’ on the first page.) When the reveal came at the end, it felt earned based on the clues Tess places throughout, but still dramatic and compelling.

2. Then and Now
Chapters alternate between Sophie’s life before Mina’s death and rehab and after returning home again. Not only does this enhance the mystery part of the novel, but it also lets us gradually see how Sophie’s relationships with Mina and Trev develop and how Sophie’s addiction to pain medication begins. Plus it totally kept me flipping pages–I’d finish a chapter and think “But what happens next?!”

3. Small Town Life
Tess totally creates the sense of small town life, and it never feels cliche or cloying. There’s major pressure on Sophie, since everyone knows about her addiction problems and since many people believe she’s to blame for Mina’s death. She can’t escape her baggage. But the small town atmosphere also means Sophie knows the people around her, and makes the murder feel that much more personal and intense.

4. Addiction
After a bad car accident, Sophie becomes addicted to pain medication. I can’t think of another YA novel that deals with this kind of addition, and it feels so genuine. I also love Sophie’s determination to stay off pills once she gets clean, even while dealing with the major emotional pain that comes along with trying to solve Mina’s murder.

5. The Ones You Love
Tess develops Sophie and Mina’s relationship in a touching, sad, beautiful way. They’re deeply devoted to each other and capable of causing each other great love and pain, which makes both their friendship and their relationship so genuine and heartbreaking. Similarly, Sophie’s friendship/relationship with Trev feels genuine and heartbreaking in its own way. In the hands of a lesser writer, these relationships could have come across as false or contrived, but Tess makes each one lovely and sad and true.

6. Family
Representations of family life in novels are a bit of a pet peeve of mine (in case you couldn’t tell) so I was really pleased to see that the Winters family is just as layered as any of the other characters in Sophie’s life. Her parents love her but are concerned about her and don’t really trust her–aka, they feel like real parents who have seen their daughter go through tough times. Also, Aunt Macy is pretty much the best and I want a spin-off about her.

7. Sophie
Sophie Winters of my new favorite protagonists. She’s dealing with the murder of her best friend, getting framed for said murder, getting clean, etc. and still manages to be super badass. While I was reading, I got a great Veronica Mars-ish vibe from FAR FROM YOU, but Sophie might actually be more kickass than Veronica. Guys, that is major praise from me.

8. Rachel
Obviously Mina is a huge presence in the book, but one character that stood out for me was Sophie’s friend Rachel. In a book that has a lot of (earned) intense emotional relationships, Rachel serves as a breath of fresh air. She’s smart and thoughtful and I always enjoyed her scenes.

9. The Last Line
Kill me with the feels, why don’t you Tess?

10. Tess Is Made of Awesome
Tess is the kind of person I’d meet and think “Oh, man, look at how awesome she looks. She’s going to be way too cool for me. No way could we be friends.” But then of course she’s open and wonderful and passionate and of course you’re friends. She cares deeply about others and wants to make the world a better place, and also runs around with her beautiful dogs and chops vegetables as stress relief. This is a writer you want in your life.

Far From You is out in less than a month, so put it on your to-read/pre-order list now!

Friday Fifteen

Hooray for Friday! Onto this week’s book reviews in fifteen words or under.

1. Lioness Rampant (Song of the Lioness, #4) by Tamora Pierce
A little slow to start, but lots of battle awesomeness at the end. All the feels.

2. Karen’s New Friend (Baby-Sitters Little Sister #36) by Ann M. Martin
Way to be disablist, Karen. Can’t remember if Addie showed up in future Karen books.

3. Lost in the Funhouse by John Barth
Can see why its “metafiction” stories were a big deal, but didn’t stay with me.

4. Dirty Little Secrets by C.J. Omololu
While shows like “Hoarders” sensationalize, Omololu looks at the families behind hoarding. Sensitively done.

5. Titanic: an Illustrated History by Donald Lynch
Lots of cool info and illustrations. Had this before the movie came out–history hipsters.

The Chance You Won’t Return ARC Giveaway!

It’s March, which means that when I’m ready for spring and flowers and greenery, the weather is usually more like:

But March also means that The Chance You Won’t Return hits shelves next month. Holy cow, guys, just one calendar page turn away!

And since my book’s going to be out in the world soon, this sounds like the perfect time to have an ARC giveaway! The details:

  • To enter, leave a comment on this post about why you’re excited for spring.
  • Extra points for tweets with the hashtag #TCYWRgiveaway
  • Extra points for sharing on Facebook (Make sure to tag me so I can see your share.)
  • US and Canada residents only. (Sorry, other international readers!)

The giveaway is open until Wednesday, March 12 at 11:59 pm EST. After that I’ll compile the entries into a random number generator/particle collider and post the winner on Friday, March 14. (Pi Day! That’s totally a reason to look forward to spring.)

Start commenting/tweeting/sharing and soon you could have a signed ARC of The Chance You Won’t Return in your hands!

Or, you know, paws.