Ontario Teen Book Fest Blog Tour: Spotlight on Andrew Smith

I am so pleased to, visit web yet again, approved bring the official Ontario Teen Book Fest blog tour to What A Nerd Girl Says and other amazing Southern California bloggers! This event is one of my absolute favorite events of the year and I’m sure this one is going to be just as great, even not better, than previous years!

When:

Saturday, March 12th, 2016

9:30 am to 5 pm

Where:

Colony High School Branch Library
3850 E. Riverside Drive
Ontario, CA 91761

This event is a completely free and un-ticketed event! Priority seating WILL be given to teens, but come one, come all! There will also be giveaways and raffles at the Fest, also free! Also, keep scrolling to find a giveaway held by us bloggers!

You can visit the website, to see the full schedule of the day by visiting the official Ontario Teen Book Fest website.

Books WILL be available for purchase at the event, available from Once Upon a Time Bookstore :) They are an amazing company so definitely bring your books from home, but try and support Once Upon a Time by purchasing a book!

Its going to be an incredible event and I’m honestly counting down the days! I hope you can come along for the ride, in the days leading up to the event.  Check out the full blog tour here!

Official Blog Tour Schedule

February 22nd – Spotlight on Andrew SmithWhat A Nerd Girl Says

February 23rd – Spotlight on Alexandra MonirThe Consummate Reader

February 24th – Spotlight on April TucholkeAdventures of a Book Junkie

February 25th – Spotlight on Alexis BassA Traveling Book

February 26th – Spotlight on Marissa MeyerRead Now Sleep Later

February 27th – Spotlight on Sara Elizabeth SantanaMovies, Shows and Books

February 28th – Spotlight on Robin ReulRecently Acquired Obsessions

February 29th – Spotlight on Katherine KottarasiFandoms Collide

March 1st – Spotlight on Stephanie DiazMy Fangirl Chronicles

March 2nd – Spotlight on Virginia BoeckerThe Reader’s Antidote

March 3rd – Spotlight on Mary McCoyBook You Very Much

March 4th – Spotlight on Brad GottfredSeeking Bazinga

March 5th – Spotlight on Michelle LevyMy Fangirl Chronicles

March 6th – Spotlight on Elana K ArnoldRead Now Sleep Later

March 7th – Spotlight on Kristin HalbrookWhat A Nerd Girl Says

March 8th – Spotlight on Jessica BrodyThe Windy Pages

March 9th – Spotlight on Nicole MaggiNite Lite Book Reviews

March 10th – Spotlight on Jay AsherA Bookish Escape

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Today’s Spotlight Is:

ANDREW SMITH 

Andrew Smith is the award-winning author of several Young Adult novels, including the critically acclaimed Grasshopper Jungle (2015 Michael L. Printz Honor, 2014 Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, Carnegie Medal Longlist) and Winger. He is a native-born Californian who spent most of his formative years traveling the world. His university studies focused on Political Science, Journalism, and Literature. He has published numerous short stories and articles. The Alex Crow, a starred novel by Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, and Booklist, is his ninth novel. He lives in Southern California.

His Website / His Facebook / His GoodReads / His Twitter / His Instagram

His Books

There are actually so many that he’s written, and all of them are absolutely fabulous. I encourage you to follow him on GoodReads and add ALL of the books. However, I am spotlighting Stand-Off since its his most recent release :)

It’s his last year at Pine Mountain, and Ryan Dean should be focused on his future, but instead, he’s haunted by his past. His rugby coach expects him to fill the roles once played by his lost friend, Joey, as the rugby team’s stand-off and new captain. And somehow he’s stuck rooming with twelve-year-old freshman Sam Abernathy, a cooking whiz with extreme claustrophobia and a serious crush on Annie Altman—aka Ryan Dean’s girlfriend, for now, anyway.

Equally distressing, Ryan Dean’s doodles and drawings don’t offer the relief they used to. He’s convinced N.A.T.E. (the Next Accidental Terrible Experience) is lurking around every corner—and then he runs into Joey’s younger brother Nico, who makes Ryan Dean feel paranoid that he’s avoiding him. Will Ryan Dean ever regain his sanity?

Find His Books at Your Local Bookstore of the Following Links:

Amazon / Barnes and Noble / iBooks / Book Depository

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The Interview

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Nerd Girl: Tell us about your current work in progress. What can we expect from you in the future? 

Andrew: I just submitted a novel to my editor, and I’m not really allowed to give specific details about it at this time, but I can say it’s a crazy speculative futuristic space opera-ish kind of thing. With a giraffe in it. I put the giraffe character in the book as a nod to my friend Jandy Nelson.

 

Nerd Girl: Your most recent release is STAND OFF, the sequel to Winger: what made you decide to continue Ryan Dean’s story?

 

Andrew: Probably it was pressure from readers. I still get emails every day from people of all ages, all over the world, about WINGER. Also, I really missed those characters, and writing STAND-OFF was so fun.

 

Nerd Girl: Ryan Dean struggles a lot with anxiety and PTSD in the second book in STAND OFF, after what he experienced in WINGER. As someone who struggles with similar mental issues, it felt very realistic and relatable. Was it hard to write him with this change in his personality, and did you have to do any research in order to write it the way you did?

 

Andrew: Ha ha! Been there, done that, too. Also, I never actually used terms like PTSD or anxiety in the book, I only wanted to key in on the feelings Ryan Dean was going through, and I think that made those experiences more relatable on a broad level for readers.

Nerd Girl: What is your writing process like? How do you balance writing full length novels with working your job as a teacher? How do you keep yourself motivated?

 

Andrew: Whenever I teach writers, I stress that self-discipline is an invisible but perhaps most important ingredient in what we produce. It’s easy to talk about craft, mechanics, and technique, but if you don’t get off your butt and hit the keyboard, absolutely none of that matters. It’s very difficult at times, and time exists in finite quantities, so you just have to make sure what you’re doing is going to get you where you most want to be. But as far as my personal writing is concerned, I motivate myself by building puzzles into my stories, and by always trying to do something I’ve never tried, and something that nobody else is doing. At least, I try.

 

Nerd Girl: Seeing as this is a teen book fest, I’d like to ask what were some of your favorite books as a teenager? Also, what are some of your favorite current teen reads?

 

Andrew: I read a wide range of thick, weird books when I was a teen. I remember reading–on my own–books like MOBY DICK by Herman Melville, THE IDIOT by Fyodor Dostoevsky, and FOUNDATION by Isaac Asimov.

Current YA that I’ve enjoyed (and I hope you know my favorite author is A.S. King, so I’ll spare you the expected list of all her titles): THE GREAT AMERICAN WHATEVER by Tim Federle and THE MEMORY OF THINGS by Gae Polisner. But I don’t think those are out yet.

 

Nerd Girl: What is one thing you learned about writing that you didn’t learn until after you got published?

 

Andrew: Like most people who get published, I didn’t know ANYTHING about the publishing industry when I got published. But, as far as writing goes, I think that working with the amazing editors I’ve had the opportunity to work with has taught me to recognize some of the common mistakes that young writers make in terms of craft, and this has definitely helped me to be a better, more efficient, writer.

 

Nerd Girl: You get the phone call that you’re getting published: what is your reaction? How did you celebrate?

 

Andrew: I kind of passed out, I think. And nobody in my family knew I’d been writing all those years. So I took my wife and kids out to dinner and told them what was going to happen.

 

Nerd Girl: You’ve often said that you don’t necessarily write books FOR teens but ABOUT teens…so why did you choose to write about teens? And why do you think its important to make the point that your books aren’t necessarily just for teens?
Andrew: Some of my favorite books ever have adolescent protagonists: THE ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN by Mark Twain, ‘SALEM’S LOT by Stephen King, and Cormac McCarthy’s ALL THE PRETTY HORSES and THE CROSSING. I’ve always liked writing about the adolescent experience for two main reasons: First, adolescence is universal; it’s something we’ve all gone through, and second, I think we all look back on our teenage years as being some of the most significant, shaping years in our lives; times we tend to think about every day.

 

Nerd Girl: What is one of your favorite moments from when you were a teen?
Andrew: Stealing my dad’s car, ditching school, and driving to the beach.

 

Nerd Girl: Last question, who is your fictional crush?
Andrew: Oh gosh. I’d have to say Buffalo Bill from SILENCE OF THE LAMBS.

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The Giveaway!

One winner will receive an official Ontario Teen Book Fest poster signed by ALL attending authors!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Book Review: The Alex Crow by Andrew Smith


22466277Genre: 

Young Adult, viagra approved  Contemporary

To be honest, sale its hard to put Andrew’s books in a genre. They just kind of stand on their own

Pages: 

304

Part of a Series?:

Standalone Novel

Release Date: 

March 3rd, stomach 2015

You Can Find the Book At:

Check your local bookstore!

GoodReads

Barnes and Noble

Book Depository

Author Website

GoodReads Summary: 

Once again blending multiple story strands that transcend time and place, Grasshopper Jungle author Andrew Smith tells the story of 15-year-old Ariel, a refugee from the Middle East who is the sole survivor of an attack on his small village. Now living with an adoptive family in Sunday, West Virginia, Ariel’s story of his summer at a boys’ camp for tech detox is juxtaposed against those of a schizophrenic bomber and the diaries of a failed arctic expedition from the late nineteenth century. Oh, and there’s also a depressed bionic reincarnated crow.

My Review:

I know that I sit here and talk about Andrew Smith all the time. I know that quite a few of you have come to me, having read his books because I tend to shove them down your throats. Mostly.
But there is a good reason for it. Andrew’s most recent novel, The Alex Crow, just further proves that me pushing him towards you is for your own good. Every book he writes is written so well and captures me from first word to last.
What Andrew does in his books that keeps me hooked every single time is write a book that is so utterly unique that you spend so much of your time reading, thinking…how your mind is being completely blown. But he also writes such real human stories as well. His characters may seem a little weird, a little off, maybe a bit too blunt but they’re so incredibly real.
The Alex Crow is about Ariel, a kid taken from his war ridden Middle East country and adopted into an American family. He is trying to adapt to this different life, while still trying to recover from the things he experienced back him. He has a new brother and is sent to the weirdest summer camp ever, surrounded by some of the weirdest and yet totally normal boys ever. Intertwining with his story both in the present and the past is a journal of a doctor on an exploration decades ago and the story of a strange man on the road with one destination and goal in mind. In true Andrew Smith fashion, you’re not quite sure what is going on or how these all connect until they do and it’s just amazing.
The writing is incredible and the story is amazing as well. Somehow Andrew manages to bring three seemingly different and unrelated stories into one. He does something different and unique and it makes for an incredible read. Every page is unexpected. I laugh and I get caught up in my emotions and I get scared and sad and confused and it’s all wonderful from beginning to end. Not everyone can pull off this kind of book but Andrew does it again and again. This is another book by him that you simply cannot miss.

Rating: 

5 out of 5 Stars

March Book Wrap Up!

Books Pledged to Read in 2015:

150

Am I On Track: 

3 books behind

Books Read So Far: 

33

Total Books For March: 

11.5 (I read a comic book but I so counted it)

Forever Princess (Re-Read)

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Mortal Danger

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Princess Leia #1

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The Alex Crow

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Wait for You

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Insurgent (Re-Read)

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Awakening (ARC)

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Pitching for Amalie

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Not After Everything (ARC)

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The Year We Fell Down

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The Year We Hid Away

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Blonde Date

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Note: I’m severely behind on reviews right now but I’m working on it!

Let’s Talk About…Andrew Smith and Sexism

Today, patient an interview came to my attention, ambulance an interview concerning one of my favorite authors, more about Andrew Smith, who just released his newest book, The Alex Crow, yesterday. The interview seemed to be going quite well until the last question. And then things seemed to sort of…implode. Take a look.

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So basically what happened is this: Andrew Smith answers this question in the same way that he writes his books: with complete honesty. And what emerged was a ton of outrage and claims that Andrew Smith is sexist. He doesn’t write female characters, he doesn’t write books that females can read, and he doesn’t want to try.

One particular response that I read (which I refuse to link because honestly she doesn’t deserve the views), points out Andrew writes science fiction and fantasy. How is it that he can write about horny grasshoppers and that sort of thing but he can’t contemplate writing about girls? “The fact that he can do this — because he has a great imagination — suggests that women are more alien to him and to the context of white men in America than are giant bugs and pedophiles”.

And I fumed up. About this response and the many responses to this.

One, I think this was taking completely out of context.

Two, the lady who wrote that above. She’s only read one of Andrew’s books and she admits it was years ago. Good one. Keep writing about things you don’t know, honey.

Three, this question is already negative. It says right in that first sentence “there isn’t much of a way into your books for female readers”. They’re calling Andrew out already before he’s even had a chance to respond, and they’re completely wrong too.

There isn’t much of a way into his books for female readers? Says who? Because the main characters are male? Sorry to be so ineloquent about this but seriously, that’s complete and utter bullshit. I don’t care about the gender of the main characters when I read novels. I care about how well the book is written, how good the storytelling is, and how well I connect with the main character. When I read Ryan Dean’s story or Austin’s or Finn’s or Ariel’s, I’m not sitting there, thinking, “I can’t connect with them because they’re boys”. Of course not! I’m sitting there and going, I’m so Ryan Dean because I get his obsessed with rugby (baseball for me), and I get Austin because he’s struggling with his sexuality. And so forth. To suggest that females need female characters in order to read a book is the sexist remark here. I actually frequently enjoy reading male characters in YA because its so rare that we get to anymore.

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This picture (credit to Katie Ferguson) was taken at the Pasadena Teen Book Fest last April. This is Andrew Smith, signing his books, and yes, that’s me in the background. But let’s see…there’s no way for females to get into his books and yet…this entire line is female. Every. Single. One. You still wanna tell me that its impossible for girls to read his book? Really? Tell me more…

Four, Andrew’s answers. He immediately says: I spent my life around boys, I am a boy, I don’t have a lot of experience with girls, not until my daughter, so I write about boys. Yeah, he’s saying “I don’t really get girls”. Not “I don’t want to understand girls” or any of that. I’m a writer and one of the biggest writing things we’re told over and over and over again is to write what we know and what Andrew Smith knows is teenage boys. Makes sense to me. One thing that has always stood out as a major reason that I love Andrew’s books so much is that his character’s voices are SO real and raw and genuine, more so than any other characters I’ve read before.

But people take this out of context, like he has no desire to learn about females, because they’re so complex when compared to grasshoppers, etc. That’s not what he meant at all.

Look, I’m a writer. I write 100% female protagonists. Why? Because that’s what I feel comfortable with. The very last chapter of my science fiction novel is told from the male lead’s point of view and a few time in my current work in progress has some point of view insight from that male lead. And even though both of those are so small, I don’t feel 100% comfortable with it. I don’t know that my voices for those characters are authentic enough. I don’t think I’ll ever write a novel with a male protagonist. I don’t feel comfortable with it, I won’t feel like I’m writing a strong enough character.

Look I don’t know exactly what was going on when Andrew answered this question. I can only read it. Maybe if I had been in the room, I could have read his facial expression or read his tone. Perhaps he was being serious and is saying, look I write what I know. I know teen boys and I know their voices and that’s what I’m going to do. Perhaps he thought it was a stupid question (which straight up, it is) and he gave a stupid answer. I don’t know. I do know that he said he was “trying to be better” and he even talks about how a core thing in The Alex Crow is about the failure of male societies. Doesn’t sound that sexist to me…

I do know this. I’ve met Andrew Smith on several occasions. I’ve interviewed him, and read several of his books, and feel confident enough to call him a friend. We’re not super close or anything but we’re on first name basis, and I know him well enough to say this…he’s the last person I would call sexist. He’s the last person that I would lump in with white American males, bla bla bla. He’s one of the kindest and funniest people I’ve met, and I’m always happy to talk to him. He’s an incredible writer and storyteller. He has shown nothing but absolute respect for me, and has done nothing but encourage me in my own endeavors to become a writer.

In fact, once I wrote a FB status, saying that I wasn’t sure if I was going to write a baseball novel, because I wasn’t sure if it was going to work and honestly I didn’t know if people would even care to read about it, especially in YA. But Andrew basically commented on my status and was like, I’d read it, just write it, screw everyone else, just write it. And I took that to heart. He’s a great person, who loves his family (his wife, his son and his daughter), he’s great with his students and he’s always available to his fans and bloggers and aspiring authors. I would never, even for a moment, think of him as sexist. I read that answer above, and it just made sense to me. He creates natural, relatable, genuine teenage boys in his stories and I can’t really imagine him writing as a girl. Doesn’t seem to fit to me.

Look, I’ve written more than I meant to. Basically, it comes down to this: Andrew is one of most genuine and kindest people I’ve ever met. He’s a kickass storyteller and he’s honest as he can be and today that bit him in the ass in a way that he doesn’t deserve. His comment is taken out of context, and frankly, by someone who doesn’t have much say in it anyway, having only read one of his books. It seems to me as another avenue to attack someone in the name of “feminism”, but the sort of feminism that is more male-hating, less about equality.

Andrew writes male characters. No big deal. No one is getting in Cassandra Clare’s face or Veronica Roth’s face or Suzanne Collin’s or any other popular YA author who writes female characters and demands to know why they aren’t writing male voices. It only happens because its switched. Andrew doesn’t write females….well, must mean he’s sexist. Um. No. He writes what he knows and well, he does it pretty damn well. And most of the people that I know who have read and loved his books and are huge fans of his…yup, you guessed it right, they’re female.

It hurts me to see this happening, especially when its so unwarranted. He’s a talented writer, and an awesome guy. He’s deleted his social medias, whether in response or not, I’m not sure, and I already miss him for sure. He doesn’t deserve any of that. I wasn’t going to read this stuff, I wasn’t going to get involved but I honestly had to. When I saw fellow YA authors ganging up against him as well, I just couldn’t handle it. Yeah, maybe it should have been worded differently. Maybe you had to be there. Maybe, maybe, maybe. But anyone who KNOWS Andrew Smith knows that this is NOT the person he is nor is he the person that puts females below males at all. Sometimes I think these people are also forgetting the high regard that he has for fellow authors like AS King and Laurie Halse Anderson, etc. He’s honestly the last person I would even think this of, and I can’t believe the incredibly ridiculous response to it.

I don’t much want to write anything else, mostly because I’m still fuming and I just can’t understand how people can jump to this sort of conclusion. I can only assume that they don’t know Andrew Smith, haven’t read his books, or are the sort of person that loves to make quick judgements about men in general, assuming that they’re all anti-feminist. But meh, what do I know? What I do know is that I adore Andrew, I support him and his books and I hope that my fans and friends will do the same.

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Tuesday Top Ten – Most Anticipated Winter Releases!

Welcome to the new year everyone! Its a brand new beginning and all of that sort of thing. But the best part of the new year is this: NEW STUFF. All that stuff that was “next year” is now THIS year. And that includes books.

Now its time to talk about the top ten books that I’m getting excited for this winter! Check them out, troche and let me know what books YOU’RE excited about!

10. The Shadow Cabinet by Maureen Johnson

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The third installment of the series, price and I’ve been waiting for it for so long. I feel like I’ve been waiting for so so so long for this book that I absolutely need to reread the first two books to remember what the hell is supposed to be going on in the third book.

Release Date: February 10th, 2015 

9. Dead to Me by Mary McCoy

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I am so excited for this debut novel…I think its my most anticipated debut novel of the year. I absolutely adore Mary, she’s a librarian for the Los Angeles Public Library and has always been a dear friend and supporter of me and this blog, and I can’t wait for her book. Its set in the 1940s, amidst the glitz and glamour of the film age and it sounds deliciously thrilling. I can’t WAIT.

Release Date: March 3rd, 2015 

8. The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord

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I am so so excited for this new novel by Emery Lord. I had NO idea who she was until she was on a panel with…I think Stephanie Perkins at the Festival of Books and I just loved everything about her. Plus she was so cute and I don’t know haha, I wanted to read her book. I absolutely LOVED Open Road Summer. She has a fresh teen voice and a total knack for addicting romance and I can’t wait for this one. Max sounds amazing.

Release Date: March 31st, 2015

7. I Was Here by Gayle Forman 

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Gayle Forman is a QUEEN of contemporary YA lit. She blows my mind with everything that she writes, especially Just One Day/Just One Year (which were optioned for film!!). I’m VERY excited for a brand new release from her, especially since the synopsis makes it sound like another emotional roller coaster. Oh Gayle.

Release Date: January 27th, 2015 

6. Salt and Stone by Victoria Scott

Salt & Stone Hardcover

This one would be much lower on the list but I’m spoiled as hell and I already read it and know how absolutely amazing it is. But now that I know its great, I’m dying to get that book with that beautiful cover in my hands, and for everyone else who loves the first one, you’re going to love the second one even more. Its a truly heartbreaking.

Releases: February 24th, 2015

5. Fairest by Marissa Meyer

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I know! A novella on the list. For those that don’t know me, I’m usually not a massive fan of novellas, and find most of them are unnecessary. But…but…I think Fairest is going to be spectacular. One, because Marissa Meyer is a fantastic writer. Two, Levana is SUCH a mystery and maybe some of this will shed a little light, and maybe it’ll open up new possibilities for Winter. Either way, I’m excited for it.

Release Date: January 27th, 2015

4. Invaded by Melissa Landers

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This is another winter release that I’ve already read. And one that I totally absolutely love. But I think I’m really excited about this because I KNOW how good it is and I get to meet her this year! Plus, if I can have more Aelyx and Cara in my life, I’m totally okay with that! And maybe if we all show love to Invaded and buy it, we WILL get more!

Release Date: February 3rd, 2015

3. The Alex Crow by Andrew Smith  

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I mean. Duh. I want my hands on this book so badly. I’ve been trying to get my hands on an ARC of this thing for MONTHS and have not been able to do that. I am dying for this book. Every single thing about this book sounds amazing and Andrew is an incredible author. When I interviewed him last year and he described the book as “It’s about a ship that gets stuck in ice, a fifteen-year-old kid, a schizophrenic who thinks he can speak to Joseph Stalin, a summer camp for kids who are addicted to technology, the de-extinction of a species of crow, and there’s a bigfoot in there, too. You know…the typical stuff.” Come on. I’m sold.

Release Date: March 10th, 2015

2. Unchanged by Jessica Brody

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I’M DYING TO READ THIS BOOK. I need to know what happens next. Unforgotten left on such a crazy, heartbreaking, emotional note and I’m dying to see what happens next for Sera and Zen and Kaelen. It hurts just to even think about it because of allllll the crap that went down in the second book and I need this book in my hands. You hear me, Jessica? Give me the book and no one gets hurt ;)

Release Date: February 24th, 2015

1. The Ruby Circle by Richelle Mead 

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Yes. Please. More Adrian Ivashkov. Oh and of course Sydney too. But definitely Adrian. And after that ending in Silver Shadows, I basically wanted to scream, get in a car and drive up to Richelle’s house and demand that she tell me everything that was going to happen next. Luckily, I’m a patient girl (ha!) and its nearly upon us to find out the ending to this fantastic series! AND I’m finally going to meet Richelle! AGH

Release Date: February 10th, 2015

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What are some the books that you’re looking forward to releasing in January, February and March? Make sure to share them in the comments!