Wednesday, May 22, 2019

{Blog Tour} HOLD MY HAND by Michael Barakiva—Author Interview + Giveaway

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Hold My Hand
by Michael Barakiva


Alek Khederian thinks about his life B.E. and A.E.: Before Ethan and After Ethan. Before Ethan, Alek was just an average Armenian-American kid with a mess of curly dark hair, grades not nearly good enough for his parents, and no idea of who he was or what he wanted. After he got together with Ethan, Alek was a new man. Stylish. Confident. (And even if he wasn’t quite marching in LGBTQ parades), Gay and Out and Proud.

With their six-month anniversary coming up, Alek and Ethan want to do something special to celebrate. Like, really special. Like, the most special thing two people in love can do with one another. But Alek’s not sure he’s ready for that. And then he learns something about Ethan that may not just change their relationship, but end it.

Alek can’t bear the thought of finding out who he’d be P.E.: Post-Ethan. But he also can’t forgive or forget what Ethan did. Luckily, his best friend Becky and madcap Armenain family are there to help him figure out whether it’s time to just let Ethan go, or reach out and hold his hand.

Hold My Hand is a funny, smart, relatable take on the joy and challenges of teenage love, the boundaries of forgiveness, and what it really means to be honest.

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Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, LGBTQIA+
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Add the book on Goodreads!
Purchase: Amazon / B&NKobo / TBD / IndieBound

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with Michael Barakiva


LM: What inspired you to write Hold My Hand?

Michael: I was betrayed by the person I loved most in the world. Later, as I was reflecting on said betrayal, I asked myself, “I wonder what it would be like if Alek or Ethan betrayed the other?”

LM: Tell us a little bit about your main character—Alek—who is he?

Michael: He is a queer Armenian American teenager living in the suburbs of New Jersey, which is very different from my story, as I was a queer Israeli Armenian American teenager living in the suburbs of New Jersey.

LM: What was the most challenging part of writing Hold My Hand?

Michael: The process of forgiveness – of actually digging deep down inside, of admitting how you’ve hurt and been hurt and sorting through that messy octopus of emotions was a difficult place to spend time as I was writing this book. It brought back all the feelings – of being betrayed, of betraying others.

Also, like, all writing is hard.

LM: Can you give us a behind-the-scenes story about this book?

Michael: Not without re-breaking my heart.

LM: Can you share one of your favorite quotes or scenes from Hold My Hand?

Michael: OMG yes – the heart of this book is the scene in the middle (spoiler, sort of) where Alek and Ethan are trying to figure out how to have sex for the first time. The fumbling, the awkwardness, the hilarity of it all – it was something that I really wanted to write about, and my editor (the inimitable Joy Peskin) was great about getting this scene out of me.

There’s another quote that I sort of paraphrase late in the book, about how honesty without kindness is a kind of brutality – that was also a big part of the book for me.

LM: If this book had a theme song, what would it be?

Michael: Well, “Hold My Hand” is a GORGEOUS song by Brandy Clark, which inspired the book in many ways.

Also, “Seventeen” by Troye Sivan is going to play in the opening credits, once the movie is made. Not that the options have been obtained or anything – I’m just sure it’s going to happen, and when it does, “Seventeen” will be played and I will understand cosmic fulfillment.

LM: What do you enjoy doing when you aren't writing?

Michael: I have the best day job in the world – as the artistic director of the Hangar Theatre and as a freelance director of plays. I love theatre – its intimacy, its immediacy. I also run a theatre company in NYC, called The Upstart Creatures (Www.upstartcreatures.com), which produces play readings with gourmet home made food, all for free.

I also love playing soccer, board games, I’m learning how to knit, and I’m binging on Netflix like it’s going out of style, which it is clearly anything but.

LM: Tell us three random facts about yourself!

Michael: I am born on my father’s birthday.

I hate eggplant.

I was flat-footed but after years of (Iyengar) yoga my feet are transforming to non-flat footed and it feels like a kind of miracle

LM: Thank you so much for answering my questions today! Is there anything you'd like to add; anything you'd like to say to your readers?

Michael: Thank you for reading! Reading is the best. Reading will save the world.

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Michael Barakiva, author of One Man Guy, is a theater director and writer of Armenian/Israeli descent who lives in Manhattan with his husband, Rafael. He is a graduate of Vassar College and the Juilliard School, an avid cook and board-game player, and a soccer player with the New York Ramblers.





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Huge thanks to Michael for answering my questions so thoughtfully today! ♥

Readers, please continue on for giveaway details! ~

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Release Blitz: THE MISSING SEASON by Gillian French—Excerpt + Giveaway

PRESENTED BY ROCKSTAR BOOK TOURS
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The Missing Season
by Gillian French


From the author of Edgar Award finalist Grit and The Lies They Tell comes a tense, atmospheric novel for fans of E. Lockhart and Marieke Nijkamp, about friendship, truth, and the creeping fears that can't be outrun.

Whenever another kid goes missing in October, the kids in the old factory town of Pender know what is really behind it: a monster out in the marshes that they call the Mumbler.

That's what Clara's new crew tells her when she moves to town. Bree and Sage, who take her under their wing. Spirited Trace, who has taken the lead on this year's Halloween prank war. And magnetic Kincaid, whose devil-may-care attitude and air of mystery are impossible for Clara to resist.

Clara doesn't actually believe in the Mumbler--not like Kinkaid does. But as Halloween gets closer and tensions build in the town, it's hard to shake the feeling that there really is something dark and dangerous in Pender. Lurking in the shadows. Waiting to bring the stories to life.
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Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Mystery
• Publisher: HarperTeen
Add the book on Goodreads!
Purchase: Amazon / B&N / KoboIndieBound / TBD

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“It’s sad, you coming here.” Kincaid takes me in, his smile fading. “Now you’ve got no chance.”

No chance. Like he read it in my tea leaves or the lines of my palm. “Why?”

“Because he only takes Pender kids. Likes our taste, I guess.” Kincaid drops his board, glides backward on one foot, never breaking eye contact. “Like . . . hopelessness.”

“And Steak-umms from the caf,” somebody says, making people snicker.

“Liver.” Trace shows his teeth. “God, I love that shit.”

“What about Gavin Cotswold?” Sage says. “Have they figured out how he died yet?”

“Mumbler got him.” Trace.

“He OD’d.” Bree gives Trace a withering look. “He went out in the woods, got fucked up, and died. His own mom thinks so.”

“I heard the animals didn’t leave enough of him behind to be sure.” Trace says. Then, to Kincaid, “Tell her about the first boy. Ricky Whoever.”

“Sartain. Ricky Sartain.” Behind Kincaid, most of the activity has stopped, everybody pulling up some concrete to listen. He’s holding court, a storyteller who knows his audience. “It all started, like, twenty years ago. Kid went missing two days before they found him on the banks of the marsh, way out by the railroad bridge.” Kincaid nods slowly, easing into it. “Somebody put their hands all over him.”

More covert laughter, Trace’s whisper: “Loved to death.”

Kincaid entwines his fingers, working his palms together in sinuous rhythm. “Squeezed him, crushed him. Mashed his spine, smashed his belly.”

A voice speaks up: “My mom said that kid got hit by the train.”

“Of course she did.” Kincaid doesn’t turn. “She also told you that Santa Claus is real and honesty is the best policy and if you’re good, you’ll get into heaven, right?”

Snorts. Somebody mimics, “But my mommy said,” whacking the boy who interrupted with a baseball cap.

“He was folded in half.” Sage grips Trace’s forearm. “That’s what I heard.”

“No.” Kincaid’s hands are tai chi slow. “Lengthwise.”

“Stop.” Bree says it under her breath; I’m the only one who hears.

“Ricky disappeared right around Halloween. That’s the pattern.” Kincaid skates a circuit around us, dismounts, and slaps the tail of the board so it pops into his hand again, all one smooth movement that I wish I could watch again frame by frame. “Truth. After, Ricky’s friends told everybody how they’d all gone out to the railroad bridge to smash pumpkins one night, and there was somebody hiding under there. Too dark to see, but they heard him, mumbling and yammering away.”

Yip, yip, yip! I look up to see audience participation, lumbering shapes aping around the others, sounding like a zoo after hours—Ahhh-ah-ah-ah! Mwaaa-hoohoo!

“Next time anybody saw Ricky, he was red guacamole.” Kincaid pauses, smiling faintly, but he’s not really seeing me now. “Ever since, Mumbler’s been around. Takes a bad kid every few years, always in October. Grown-ups have some bullshit excuse for what happened to them, but we know.”

Nods pass around the circle. I watch for inside looks—they’ll drop the act when they see I’m not taken in—but the quiet drags on. “What’s the Mumbler look like?” I hold
Kincaid’s gaze, willing him to let me in on this, let me prove I don’t scare easy. “So I’ll know him if I see him.”

Kincaid looks to Trace, again with the smile that creases his eyes into merry slits, a kid showing his little sister where Mom hides the Christmas presents. “We can take you to him.”



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I’m a ridiculous, sometimes cranky, often hungry, frequently writing flibbertigibbet who really hopes she can keep doing this for a living.

My debut novel, GRIT (HarperTeen), was an Indie Next List pick, a Junior Library Guild Selection, received starred reviews from Kirkus Reviews and ALA Booklist, was an Edgar Award Finalist, a South Carolina Young Adult Book Award Finalist, and received both a 2018 Lupine Award from the Maine Library Association and a 2018 Maine Literary Award from the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance.

My other novels include THE DOOR TO JANUARY (Islandport Press; Bram Stoker Award Finalist), THE LIES THEY TELL (HarperTeen; 2019 International Thriller Award Finalist, 2019 Maine Literary Award Finalist, 2018 Junior Library Guild Selection), and THE MISSING SEASON (HarperTeen, coming 5/21/2019; preorder giveaway happening now). My short fiction has placed in Writer’s Digest and Zoetrope: All Story contests, as well as appearing in such publications as Weirdbook and Creepy Campfire Stories for Grownups.

I hold a BA in English from the University of Maine, and I’m a member of the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance, Mystery Writers of America, and the Society of Children’s Writers and Illustrators. Currently, I still live in my native state of Maine–shocker, I know–with my husband and sons, where I’m perpetually agonizing over my next novel (in the best possible way, of course!)


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Continue on for the giveaway! ~

Monday, May 20, 2019

{Blog Tour} INTO THE MADNESS by A.K. Koonce + Giveaway

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Into the Madness
by A.K. Koonce


I didn’t fall into a place of wonder and madness. I was taken.

This world is a perfect, enchanting wonderland. The people here are just as alluring.

But we all have our secrets.

Like the white rabbit who’s leading a rebellion right under the King’s nose. Or the sweet March Hare who’s actually an enemy spy. Or my one true ally in all of this, a killer who’s so feared they won’t even say his real name.

As for me, I have more secrets than all of them combined. Because Wonderland is waiting for the beloved Alice Liddell.

And I’m just the bitch pretending to be her.

This is a reverse harem series, recommended for readers 18 and over.

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Genres: Adult, Retellings, Fantasy
Add the book on Goodreads!
Purchase: Amazon Kindle / Paperback

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A.K. Koonce is a USA Today best-selling author. She's a mom by day and a fantasy and paranormal romance author by night. She keeps the fantastical stories in her mind on an endless loop, while she tries her best to focus on her actual life and not that of the spectacular but demanding fictional characters who always fill her thoughts.


Join A.K.'s newsletter for news, bonus content and sneak peeks: https://landing.mailerlite.com/webforms/landing/p9k6w8









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Continue on for the giveaway! ~


Book Blast: LYING NEXT TO ME by Gregg Olsen + Giveaway

PRESENTED BY JEAN BOOK NERD
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Lying Next to Me
by Gregg Olsen


No matter what you see, no matter what you’ve heard, assume nothing.

Adam and Sophie Warner and their three-year-old daughter are vacationing in Washington State’s Hood Canal for Memorial Day weekend. It’s the perfect getaway to unplug—and to calm an uneasy marriage. But on Adam’s first day out on the water, he sees Sophie abducted by a stranger. A hundred yards from shore, Adam can’t save her. And Sophie disappears.

In a nearby cabin is another couple, Kristen and Connor Moss. Unfortunately, beyond what they’ve heard in the news, they’re in the dark when it comes to Sophie’s disappearance. For Adam, at least there’s comfort in knowing that Mason County detective Lee Husemann is an old friend of his. She’ll do everything she can to help. She must.

But as Adam’s paranoia about his missing wife escalates, Lee puts together the pieces of a puzzle. The lives of the two couples are converging in unpredictable ways, and the picture is unsettling. Lee suspects that not everyone is telling the truth about what they know—or they have yet to reveal all the lies they’ve hidden from the strangers they married

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Genres: Adult, Mystery, Thriller
Add the book on Goodreads!
Purchase: Amazon / B&N / TBD

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Throughout his career, Gregg Olsen has demonstrated an ability to create a detailed narrative that offers readers fascinating insights into the lives of people caught in extraordinary circumstances.

A New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling author, Olsen has written nine nonfiction books, nine novels, a novella, and contributed a short story to a collection edited by Lee Child.

The award-winning author has been a guest on dozens of national and local television shows, including educational programs for the History Channel, Learning Channel, and Discovery Channel. He has also appeared on Dateline NBC, William Shatner's Aftermath, Deadly Women on Investigation Discovery, Good Morning America, The Early Show, The Today Show, FOX News, CNN, Anderson Cooper 360, MSNBC, Entertainment Tonight, CBS 48 Hours, Oxygen's Snapped, Court TV's Crier Live, Inside Edition, Extra, Access Hollywood, and A&E's Biography.

In addition to television and radio appearances, he has been featured in Redbook, USA Today, People,Salon magazine, Seattle Times, Los Angeles Times and the New York Post.

The Deep Dark was named Idaho Book of the Year by the ILA and Starvation Heights was honored by Washington's Secretary of State for the book's contribution to Washington state history and culture. His Young Adult novel, Envy, was the official selection of Washington for the National Book Festival.

Olsen, a Seattle native, lives in Olalla, Washington with his wife, twin daughters, three chickens, Milo (an obedience school dropout cocker spaniel) and Suri (a mini dachshund so spoiled she wears a sweater).



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Continue on for the giveaway! ~