Waiting for Fitz by Spencer Hyde

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Originally published in School Library Journal, March 2019.

Gr 9 & Up – Midway through her senior year, 17-year-old Addie Foster is sent for inpatient psychiatric therapy at Seattle Regional Hospital for OCD. Quick-witted and literary-minded, she dreams of being a playwright. Making some unlikely, but unique friends from the first day of group therapy, Addie accepts that she needs help, while handsome, mysterious Fitz is desperate to leave after two years of treatment. Grieving and guilt-ridden, Fitz, a schizophrenic, mentions San Juan Island and the name Quentin, but not offering any details to Addie. Unlike Addie, whose supportive mother visits, Fitz’s mother blames him and has never visited. Innocent romance sparks for Fitz and Addie, their shared passion for literature kindling their companionship. When the truth of Fitz’s past is revealed to Addie, she is forced to take a painful look at their relationship and her own future. The ending is hopeful, albeit a touch predictable. Author Spencer Hyde, having spent much of his high school years in inpatient therapy for severe OCD, provides an accurate, honest rendering of teenage mental illness. VERDICT: Fans of John Green and Jennifer Niven will enjoy this realistic, yet PG portrayal of some heavy subject matter.

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WaterColor Wishes by Melissa Chambers

Librarian Laura’s Review of WaterColor Wishes

This book can be read as a stand alone, even though it’s the 4th book in the Love Along Highway 30A series. I read the first one and then this one and I recognized some of the characters from the first one. However, I wasn’t lost on any plot information due to skipping the 2nd and 3rd books. I’ve got them on my TBR pile now. I love her books! WaterColor Wishes is Marigold’s story. Marigold loves living in the seaside town of WaterColor, Florida where she has a great group of loyal friends (including Cassidy, Seanna, & Chase who you may recognize from the other books). She owns & operates a gift shop, but it’s sort of hidden behind another building and as such, business and her bank account are both dwindling. When the town decides to add a hotel, she encourages her father to bid for the chance to build another one of his hotels so that she can move her shop there where it will hopefully flourish. However, also bidding on the property are twin developers, Dane & Ethan Knight. Marigold is instantly attracted to Dane, even though the first time she met him at a bonfire a few weeks back she had a highly embarrassing wardrobe malfunction. She knows she had to focus on winning the hotel bid or her future is in peril, so she tries to keep her distance from Dane’s charm and ridiculous good looks. The competition for the hotel bid is not quite strong enough to tamper down the romantic feelings growing between Marigold and Dane. Dane is still reeling a bit from the previous relationship which was unhealthy, at best. Unfortunately, though it’s over between he and his ex, she has a bad habit of using her two little boys to keep him tangled in her web of bad choices. Dane’s a softie who loves the little boys as if they were his own, but he isn’t sure how that will affect his future, a future which he hopes to share with Marigold. You’ll have to read it if you want to know the juicy details between Dane and Marigold. Trust me, you won’t be sorry! This is a sweet love story with unique characters and some laugh out loud scenes. I highly recommend it for fans of romance, realistic fiction, and beach reads. 

Thank you to Melissa Chambers for providing a review copy in exchange for an honest review. 

The wait is over! Book four in the Love Along Hwy 30A series, WaterColor Wishes, is finally here!

 

Marigold Appleton was made for the laid-back beach life of picturesque WaterColor, Florida. Unfortunately, her bank account was not. She’s about to lose her gift shop due to her hidden location. When the town which rarely allows hotels announces they are designating a plot of land for one, Marigold convinces her father to bid on the land and build one of his boutique hotels on it so she can move her shop into it. But also bidding on the same plot of land is property developer and insanely hunky Dane Knight. She’s got to keep her guard up, because his interest in her may be only to get her to drop her bid for the land. She just wishes he wasn’t the first guy in years to make her knees buckle.

For weeks, Dane has been trying to get the girl he met at the bonfire out of his brain. As she crystalizes in front of him at the bar of the WaterColor clubhouse, he knows his daydreams of her didn’t stack up to the real thing. But he just got out of a poisonous relationship. His ex has a bad habit of dropping her kids off without notice, and he’s too big of a sucker for them to say no. A relationship with Marigold is out of the question. But after he gives in to his weakness for her for the first time, he knows he’s never going to be able to get her out of his heart.

WaterColor Wishes is book four in the Love Along Highway 30A series, which features beautiful beach communities, a circle of unique and amazing friends, and romances that will have you cheering on the couples and fanning yourself from the heat. All books are standalone and can be enjoyed in or out of order.

 

Available at Amazon for $.99 this week only!

Free on Kindle Unlimited

 

Also available in the series now!

After her ex runs up her credit card, clears her bank account, and gets her fired, Seanna escapes to Seaside, Florida where the men are hot as the Gulf Coast sun…one in particular. But while paying the price, literally, for the last man she trusted with her heart, she’s not interested in any sort of beach romance, or so she keeps reminding herself.

Maya has never had a one-night-stand. But something about being on vacation, and the hunk of a guy in front of her, has her considering giving it a try. Bo lives at the beach, and he’s sick of one-week relationships with tourists that lead nowhere. But the smart and irresistible Maya has him reconsidering. Now if he could just get her to stay.

When Shayla needs a safe place to stay to hide from her dangerous ex, Chase is just fine to offer up his guest house. But with his best friend, who happens to be her brother, breathing down his neck and warning Shayla against him, Chase knows he needs to keep his distance. If only she wasn’t the most intriguing woman he’d ever known.

 

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GIVEAWAY TIME!

To celebrate the release of WaterColor Wishes, Melissa is giving away a $20 Amazon.com gift card!

To enter, sign up for her newsletter HERE. If you are already signed up, you’re all set.

For an extra entry, follow her on Facebook or Instagram (or both for two extra entries!).

(Winner will be determined and contacted on 8/27/19. Click here for a list of sweepstakes rules.)

Melissa Chambers writes contemporary novels for young, new, and actual adults. A Nashville native, she spends her days working in the music industry and her nights tapping away at her keyboard. While she’s slightly obsessed with alt rock, she leaves the guitar playing to her husband and kid. She never misses a chance to play a tennis match, listen to an audiobook, or eat a bowl of ice cream. (Rocky road, please!) She has served as president for the Music City Romance Writers and is the author of The Summer Before Forever, Falling for Forever, and Courting Carlyn (Entangled Teen).

 

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Fame, Fate, and the First Kiss by Kasie West

9780062675798_6d1a0Originally appeared in School Library Journal, February 2019.

Grade 9 & up – The second in a three book companion series, this realistic fiction, set in Los Angeles, is written as a standalone novel with crossover characters. High school senior, Lacey spends her days covered in elaborate zombie makeup on set, playing the love interest of famous heartthrob, Grant James. Grant is hot and he knows it, but he and Lacey lack chemistry on set of the campy horror film, Dancing Graves. Lacey begrudgingly and occasionally completes her schoolwork in between filming. When her overprotective father hires a tutor, she heeds his advice to buckle down and finish school in case acting isn’t always an option in her future. Donovan Lake, her easy-on-the-eyes tutor, at first seems uptight and lame, but as she spends more time with him, her math grade isn’t the only thing progressing. Working on set brings Lacey into some unfamiliar social territory, but she manages to make new friends. When odd coincidences that could jeopardize Lacey’s acting career keep occurring, she must decide who to trust and be willing to look out for her own happiness. Snippets of movie script are included between chapters, allowing readers to feel like they are on set with the characters. Recommended for purchase to enhance a clean young adult romance collection. VERDICT: Fans of Jenny Han and Sarah Dessen will enjoy this light-hearted, wholesome romantic comedy which would make a great Netflix film.

The Competition by Cecily Wolfe

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Originally appeared in School Library Journal, November 2018.

Grade 7 & Up: A diverse cast of characters take part in the Penultimate, an Ohio state writing competition, where 100 teens battle for a full college scholarship. Mary Sofia (a Latina) lives in a shelter. Her mother blames her for the unforgettable, tragic night her abusive stepfather was killed by her older brother Matias, as he protected Mary Sofia. She longs to visit Matias in prison, missing him dearly. Michael, Caucasian, is an introvert who excels at swimming and writing, who is instantly attracted to Mary Sofia. Camera who is shy and biracial carries a secret of being sexually assaulted during a party. Raiden is a Chinese American teen who dreams of becoming a nurse, though his father would rather he be a doctor. The four young people conveniently pair up into couples, forming a foreseeable cozy group for the remainder of the story. One of the contest themes is writing about “a defining moment,” which forces both Camera and Mary Sofia to finally come to terms with their painful pasts. The story line is realistic with hints of tame romance. After an unlikely turn of events for the new friends, the predictable yet hopeful ending offers each an unexpected chance at a brighter future. Compared to other realistic teen fiction, Wolfe’s second novel falls short in pacing and writing quality. Themes of friendship and typical teenage behaviors are represented well. VERDICT A strictly additional purchase.

Till it Stops Beating by Hannah R. Goodman

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Librarian Laura’s Review

Till it Stops Beating, a young adult realistic fiction from author Hannah R. Goodman tackles some very heavy themes including mental illness, alcoholism, sickness (cancer), and loss. The language and scenes are very mature, so I would not recommend it for readers under the age of 16. It is, however, a great book for teens to relate to for a variety of tough situations that may come up during high school or teenage years. 

Maddie Hickman, a 17 year old senior can not stop thinking about the boy who got away. No matter who she dates or that it’s been years since she’s laid eyes on him, Justin is the one for her. Her best friends, fun-loving Susan and handsome, gay Peter attempt to keep her mind off of Justin, to no avail. Added to her constant anxiety about Justin is the fact that Maddie has a major Senior Project due soon, which involves writing a book about the one that got away…Justin. Her older sister, Barb, has battled alcohol addiction for most of her adult life, which ultimately led to her marriage falling apart. To complicate matters, Barb starts bringing around her new beau, who is a bit overbearing for Maddie’s taste. And then, Maddie receives a phone call from Bubbie, her beloved grandmother who lives in Florida, to let her know that she has cancer. This announcement sends Maddie over the edge into a full-blown anxiety attack, which leaves her feeling unmoored and shaken. Come to find out, her father has suffered from a similar mental illness, so Maddie begrudgingly sees a therapist at her parents’ request. 

In the midst of all of these issues surrounding her, Maddie ends up taking a life-altering road trip with her friend Peter and his current boyfriend. On the way, she decides to take a risk and really start living her life the way she wants to live it. I won’t give you any more plot details because you’ll have to read it yourselves. The author does a great job of bringing the characters to life, in a way that readers can identify with them. 

My favorite quote from this book: Bubbie tells Maddie “Never worry about your heart, honey, till it stops beating.” (Good grandmotherly advice.)

Thank you to the publisher for providing a review copy of this book.

About the Book

Seventeen-year-old Maddie Hickman’s senior year begins with the good (the reemergence of The One That Got Away), the bad (a cancer diagnosis, not hers, but it might as well be) and the WTF (an anxiety attack that renders her writhing on the floor like an upside down crab).

Adding to her spiraling anxiety is Senior Project, in the form of I’ve Decided To Write A Book about The Other One That Got Away (And Crushed My Heart). Compounding it all is applying to college and keeping up with her friends. The ever mounting stress eventually rips her tight grip on all that she holds dear.

Her break down leads to an unexpected road trip where she is forced to listen to her wildly beating heart. It is only in the back of a convertible with pop music blasting, that she discovers she must risk everything in order to really live.

Amazon.com https://www.amazon.com/dp/1684330807/‬‬

About the Author

Often referred to as “the teenage whisperer”, Hannah R. Goodman’s twenty-year career working with teenagers includes the titles teacher, tutor, coach, and, more recently, mental health counselor. Hannah has written essays about mental health for various online publications. Her work has appeared on MindBodyGreen, OC87 Recovery Diaries, Zencare.co, and The Mighty. Though she has previously earned the title author with her first three books, the last was released in 2009 and all were self-published. This time around, indie publisher Black Rose Writing released her novel Till It Stops Beating this summer.

Hannah’s first YA novel, My Sister’s Wedding, won the first place award for The Writer’s Digest International Self-Publishing Contest, 2004, children’s book division. She published the follow-up, My Summer Vacation, in May 2006, which went on to win a bronze IPPY in 2007. The third Maddie book, Fear of Falling, was released in the fall of 2009 and was praised by teachers and readers for tackling subjects like homophobia and coming out. She’s published young adult short stories on Amazon’s Shorts, in an anthology entitled Bound Is The Bewitching Lilith, and in the journal Balancing The Tides. She also has written columns for The Jewish Voice & Herald. Recent, previous projects include Sucker Literary, which features emerging YA authors and All The Way YA, a group blog of writers telling the real deal about writing and publishing YA fiction.

Hannah is a member of ARIA (Association of Rhode Island Authors) as well as a graduate of Pine Manor College’s Solstice Program in Creative Writing where she earned an MFA in Writing For Young People. She resides in Bristol, RI with her husband, two daughters, and black and white cat named Zoe

You can find Hannah:

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/969127.Hannah_R_Goodman

Twitter: @hannahrgoodman

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tillitstopsbeatingnovel/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/tillitstopsbeating/

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/hannah-goodman-76b9596/

Amazon Author Central: https://www.amazon.com/Hannah-R.-Goodman/e/B002BLU56K

Website: https://www.hannahrgoodman.com

Little Big Love by Katy Regan

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Originally published in Library Journal, March 2018

A modern family drama unfolds in alternating points of view of authentic voices between a 10 year old named Zac who likes to collect facts and cook, his single mother, Juliet, and her father, Mick.  Juliet and Zac live on Harlequin Estate in Grimsby, a seaside town in England which was a major fishing port. Zac’s father, Liam, left under mysterious circumstances after the tragic death of Juliet’s brother, Jamie, ten years ago. Only Mick, a recovering alcoholic and retired fisherman, knows the truth, but he hides behind grief, guilt, and his opinionated wife. Juliet drowns her sorrow with alcohol and food, and she and Zac have become overweight, causing Zac to be bullied. When the bullying at school escalates, Juliet is determined to get Zac healthy and happy. Convinced it will please his mom, Zac’s mission, a secret with best friend Teagan, is to find Liam. Soon, finding Liam becomes Zac’s top priority, but when the truth is revealed, there’s no going back, no matter the pain it brings. VERDICT: Fans of Jane Green and Susan Wiggs will enjoy Regan’s debut novel with strong family bond that explores the age-old question of what if and the aftermath of one poor decision.

 

Love Songs & Other Lies by Jessica Pennington

9780765392275_3ab13Originally published in School Library Journal, March 2018.

Gr 9 & up – On summer break, Virginia (Vee), a talented songwriter and musician, leaves Michigan for a 3 month reality band competition tour with best friend, Logan. Much to her surprise and initial dismay, the newest member of Your Future X is Cameron, Vee’s not-quite forgiven or forgotten ex. Guilt-ridden and alone, Cam moved to Riverton from California after a horrible accident which killed his parents. Vee becomes the center of attention on a tour bus full of single musicians where every moment, private or not, is viewed by the fans. Told in alternating points of view, the pacing is quick, switching between two years prior to the present. Much like notes plucked on their guitars, Vee can’t deny the hum of sexual tension between herself and Cam. Will Vee forgive Cam and open herself up to love again? This modern-day realistic fictional romance has both steamy love scenes and tender moments between best friends, appealing to even reluctant readers. It’s like Battle of the Bands meets the Bachelorette in book form. VERDICT: Filled with lyrics, love, and late nights, Pennington’s timely debut novel will appeal to romance fans of Sarah Dessen and Susane Colasanti.