Monthly Archives: June 2013

Winner of Exposed by Laura Griffin

Congratulations to rolynnanderson! You’ve won a signed copy of EXPOSED by Laura Griffin.

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Please be sure to contact us with your mailing address (U.S. only) within 10 days to claim your book.

Everyone have a wonderful Independence Day!

Laura Griffin Exposed

EXPOSED Griffin (5)Writers often say their favorite book is the last one they wrote. My favorite Laura Griffin book always seems to be the last one I’ve read. In this case, it’s EXPOSED, the 7th book in her Tracers series, which releases tomorrow.

EXPOSED pairs an FBI agent with a forensic photographer from the Delphi Center Crime Lab for a suspenseful read that delivers on the romance too. If you’re already a fan of Laura’s stoic heroes and independent heroines, you’ll love EXPOSED. If you haven’t read her yet, you’re missing out.

GIVEAWAY ALERT! (Keep reading for a chance to win.)

Laura was nice enough to stop by to talk a little about EXPOSED and the research she did for the story. Welcome, Laura!

LauraGriffinPic3Thank you for inviting me back to visit Kiss & Thrill! I love this blog and have discovered some wonderful new authors here.

This week is sure to be a roller coaster because it’s release week. Yay! The seventh novel in my Tracers series hits book stores Tuesday and, as usual, I’m feeling jittery. Launching the book is always the nervous part for me. Writing is when all the fun happens.

EXPOSED was especially fun to write because the heroine is a forensic photographer. As soon as I came up with the story idea I immediately thought “field trip!” I love going out to do research in the field. Maybe it’s because of my background as a news reporter, but any time I write a new book I always have to get out there and interview people. In the case of EXPOSED, I interviewed crime scene photographers and learned all about their fascinating job.

EXPOSED is the story of Maddie Callahan, who is a forensic photographer at the Delphi Center Crime Lab, where elite forensic scientists known as Tracers help detectives solve their toughest cases. Maddie is passionate about her work. She considers herself “the eyes of the jury” and makes it her mission to document every detail of a crime scene in order to help bring criminals to justice.

While interviewing crime scene photographers I learned just how important this job is. Photos can be key evidence at trial and an entire murder case may hinge on something as small as a wad of chewing gum or a shard of glass discovered at a scene.

Maddie has a stellar career, but her personal life needs work. Following a serious loss, Maddie is aloof from people and avoids relationships, especially with men…. until she meets FBI agent Brian Beckman. Brian takes an immediate interest in Maddie after one of her photographs becomes key evidence in his investigation. He’s determined to get to know Maddie and get past her defenses. He is also determined to protect her when it becomes clear that her life is in danger because of something she witnessed through her camera lens.

Writing Maddie and Brian’s story was an adventure for me, and I hope you will like it. People ask me all the time if they need to read the Tracers books in order and that’s not necessary. Each book focuses on a different mystery and a different romantic couple.

If you’d like to read a free excerpt, visit http://www.lauragriffin.com/books/exposed.php#excerpt.

Today Laura is giving away a signed copy of EXPOSED (U.S. residents only, please). Leave a comment for a chance to win!

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Laura Griffin started her career in journalism before venturing into the world of romantic suspense. Her books have won numerous awards, including a RITA, a Daphne du Maurier Award, and the Booksellers Best Award. Laura lives in Austin, Texas. Visit her Web site at www.lauragriffin.com.

The Perks of Being a Beauty & Drawing The Line Novella Winners!!!

Thanks for joining us for Novella Week on K&T!

The lucky winners of THE PERKS OF BEING A BEAUTY are… Connie Fischer, Maureen, and Kieran Kramer. Congratulations, Ladies!

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And the lucky winners of DRAWING THE LINE are…Kim, Jenna Blue and Chris Bails!

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Congratulations!!! To claim your e-books, please contact us at contact@kissandthrill.com to let us know where to send them. Remember we must hear from you in 10 days to qualify. Happy reading!

Be sure to stop by on Monday, June 24 when Gwen Hernandez hosts NYT bestselling author Laura Griffin with a guest post!

Exposed

Kimberly Kincaid’s Novellas Make Dangerous Delicious

Kimberly Kincaid

I first heard Kimberly Kincaid’s name when we were both 2011 Golden Heart nominees, and more recently when she released the first two novellas in her Line series. When I mentioned to my blogmates that I’d like to invite Kimberly to K&T, Sharon Wray told me she adores Kimberly. And after reading Kimberly’s novellas, I adore her too.

These novellas remind me of the most delicious artisan chocolates. They are beautifully crafted, packed with unique flavors, and intensely satisfying. And unlike those artisan chocolates I love, these are guilt-free treats! Read one Kimberly Kincaid novella and you’re going to want to gobble up—um, read the rest of them. Kimberly’s heroines are foodies—a personal chef and a chef/owner of a local diner—and her heroes are cops. A suspense thread originating in LOVE ON THE LINE drives the action in her newest novella DRAWING THE LINE.

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DRAWING THE LINE

When Detective Jason Morgan is tasked with keeping a local restaurant owner safe as part of a make-or-break case, he rises to the challenge. The job is his first priority, and he owes it to the memory of his father, a detective killed in the line of duty, to do it at any cost. But Jason never expected Serenity Gallagher to be so beautiful, so serious…or so tough to protect.

Serenity has moved from place to place at the whim of her capricious mother all her life. The last thing she wants is to leave the diner she finally calls home, even if it means being stuck with a sexy blue-eyed detective. But she’s the only witness to a horrible crime, and the man behind it wants her very, very dead. Going into protective custody means survival, no matter how much Serenity hates hiding.

As Jason and Serenity bide their time together, they are shocked to discover they have much more in common than the surface reveals. But keeping her safe is Jason’s number one priority, no matter how much he’s drawn in by the woman beneath the witness, and Serenity’s past makes it difficult to trust. As the stakes get higher and the spark burns hotter, can Jason and Serenity draw the line?

I love Kimberly’s novellas so much that I’m giving away Kindle e-books of DRAWING THE LINE to three commenters. But first let’s pick Kimberly’s talented and highly imaginative brain.

Writing and cooking…

For me, they honestly go hand in hand. I was raised in a family where food is definitely love, and we cook to show affection and caring. This is something I try to translate into each of my books, albeit in different ways. So whether my characters are cooking to soothe themselves through rough emotions (Serenity does this in DRAWING THE LINE) or to nurture the ones they care for (Violet, in LOVE ON THE LINE), there’s always a little food to go with the love in my books!

Love On The Line

The first time I cooked…

My mom has always had an open-kitchen policy, so I was young! But the first thing I remember ever cooking pretty much on my own was Hamburger Helper. I think I was maybe eleven. Now we make our own version of cheeseburger macaroni at my house…just without the box 🙂

The best dinner party ever…

Has good friends, good food, and good spirits! It can be a lobster boil on the beach or a black tie affair. Dinner parties don’t need to be fancy to sustain people. Some of the best dinner parties I’ve ever had have been on a picnic blanket with my kids. For me, it’s about the gathering, and the simple celebration of whatever food you’ve got. Everything else is extra.

Opening Lines: “Having spent half her life in one restaurant or another, Serenity Gallagher had seen just about everything a professional kitchen had to offer. Except for a body on the floor. That was definitely new.”

Recipes…

Making up your own recipes is a little daunting at first, I admit. But here’s the crux of it: Nothing’s written in stone. I use some age-old recipes that have been handed down to me, I use new recipes that I find online and in books, and I make things up as I go. Sometimes I combine one or all of these methods. Cooking is about the journey. Sometimes, we get lost! But it’s okay to start over when that happens. It’s what the pizza guy is for!

In my spare time…

I’m laughing, because I don’t think I have any. But… in my spare time, I read (of course), cook (you know it was coming), take my kids to the library, watch action movies with my husband, study martial arts and shop for shoes. Not necessarily in that order.

The next book I write…

I’ve got two in the works right now (one is getting “The End” today!) The third “Line” novella, OUTSIDE THE LINES, which features Dr. Blake Fisher, the sexy-serious ER doc who has appeared in the other two “Line” novellas, and a fourth novel to go with my Kensington PINE MOUNTAIN series which debuts with a full length novel  TURN UP THE HEAT in March. After that, I’m looking at a few other projects. There may or may not be firefighters on the horizon. I plead the fifth 🙂

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Kimberly Kincaid writes contemporary romance that splits the difference between sexy and sweet. When she’s not sitting cross-legged in an ancient desk chair known as “The Pleather Bomber”, she can be found practicing obscene amounts of yoga, whipping up anything from enchiladas to éclairs in her kitchen, or curled up with her nose in a book. Kimberly is a 2011 RWA Golden Heart® finalist who lives (and writes!) by the mantra that food is love. Visit her any time at www.kimberlykincaid.com or come check her out on Facebook (www.facebook.com/kimberly.kincaid1) and Twitter (@kimberlykincaid).

Tell us about your best dinner party ever for a chance to win Kimberly Kincaid’s novella DRAWING THE LINE! Three winners will be announced on Friday! Plus the three winners of Manda Collin’s novella THE PERKS OF BEING A BEAUTY!

The Perks of Being A Beauty . . . and Manda Collins!

Manda Collins

It’s a very special time here at Kiss and Thrill because it’s release day for our very own Manda Collins and her Regency romance novella The Perks of Being A Beauty.

Perks of Beign a Beauty

Not sure why a blog devoted to suspense readers is gushing over Regency romances? Just check out this amazing review from Romantic Times for Manda’s next release Why Dukes Say I Do (release date July 30, 2013).

“Witty and smart, Collins’ prose flows smoothly as she merges a charming, compassionate love story with gothic suspense. Collins again brings modern-day issues into the Regency period, compelling readers to identify with her three-dimensional characters. Add strong pacing and depth of emotion, and there’s no doubt this is a winner. Four and a half stars, Top Pick!”

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Not to be outdone,  The Perks of Being a Beauty is a lovely story of an unusual heroine seeking both forgiveness and redemption. It’s a story I just adored.

The beautiful Miss Amelia Snow is not accustomed to being snubbed by the gentlemen of the ton. But when her mother dies unexpectedly, forcing Amelia to take employment as companion to a wealthy cit’s daughter, she quickly learns to play down her looks or risk losing her position. When her employers, the Smithsons, decide to throw a country house party, she is determined to fade into the background. But how can she when the Smithson’s guest of honor is Lord Quentin Fortescue, the childhood friend who stole her heart?

Younger son, Lord Quentin Fortescue, is far more interested in his host’s cotton mills in the north than he is in courting the man’s dim-witted daughter. But it’s the girl’s companion who makes him look twice. Years ago, Miss Amelia Snowe rejected his proposal without a backward glance. Quentin has molded himself into just the sort of man she’d have wanted back then, but is Amelia still the smug beauty who broke his heart? And can either of them risk their newfound positions to indulge the fiery attraction that burns between them?

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And because we love Manda and her books so much, we’ve  intertwined her interview with a virtual blue bouquet in honor of her “blue” book. (Okay, maybe there’s a touch of purple and yellow!)

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SW: Manda, I am so thrilled about the acclaim your books have been getting. How much harder was it to write a novella versus a single-title book?

MC: I find novellas a great deal easier to write. Yes, you have to choose your words carefully because of word count limitations, but it’s much easier to hold all the details of a novella in my head than it is to do with a novel. I really like the compactness of a novella, the way you can look at issues much more closely than you can in a novel, when you have to keep up the pace and not dwell on any one thing. I’d love to write three or four novellas a year. They recharge my batteries before I dive into a longer project.

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SW: It’s never easy redeeming a difficult character from other stories, yet you do a splendid job with Amelia. Were you worried about what your readers would think about her redemption? Especially considering her awful behavior in the Ugly Duckling books?

MC: Thank you! But, I’m STILL worried! For whatever reason, readers seem to be more forgiving of heroes with flaws than of heroines. And even though I feel like Amelia has grown and changed (as heroines do in their own novels) I know that all readers aren’t going to take her redemption seriously. Which is okay. They aren’t required to. But I am relieved that a number of readers are going along with Amelia on her journey toward becoming a better person.

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SW: Your redemption of Amelia was witty and believable. What, specifically, did you do in this story to make her more sympathetic?

MC: I looked at the things she was doing that were so awful in the earlier books and tried to imagine what might have brought her to that point. What made her into the kind of person who would sneer and scoff and generally make life miserable for her peers? And I discovered that she’d been influenced by her mother and as many of us do when we “grow up” she realized that her mother’s way of doing things was perhaps not the right way. And so, she began to unthaw and make amends for her past wrongs. Seeing her make amends is important to helping readers believe she can become a better person.

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SW: I love the fact Amelia wears glasses (and that Quentin makes her wear them). How common was it for women of the Ton to wear them in public?

MC: You know, I’m not all that sure. I confess to using my own feelings about being a “girl who wears glasses” and Marilyn Monroe’s character from How to Marry a Millionaire for those bits. And I think Amelia without her spectacles was sort of a disguise in reverse. When she’s wearing her glasses, she’s acknowledging her true self. But when she’s not, she’s denying it. So by making her wear them, Quentin is at once accepting her for who she is, and making her do so as well.

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SW: When you’re writing, do you connect more intensely with the hero or the heroine?

MC: It depends on the book. One of the things I like about writing romance is that I get to focus on two protagonists instead of one. So I can explore life from two different perspectives and life experiences. Of course, in every book there’s going to more of a focus on one or the other, and with me, which one depends on which character has the most to overcome. Or alternately, which character needs to change the most. I tend to write the first draft with the heroine in mind and the second draft with the hero.

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SW: You write description and dialogue beautifully, but which do you prefer to write?

MC: Oh, dialogue without a doubt. There’s just something intoxicating about carrying on dialogue with imaginary characters. Especially when YOU are playing both parts. Maybe it assuages my inner actress? Whatever the reason, I love writing banter. Always have. 🙂

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SW: How long did it take you to get published? How did you find your agent?

MC: From the time I finished my first novel to actual publication it took four years. I finished my first book, a Victorian historical called Portrait of a Nightingale, in 2008 and started querying in late 2008/early 2009. I got my agent, Holly Root, from a cold email query I sent to her in October of ’08. I sent her my partial, she asked for the full, and I heard back from her in March of the next year asking me to make some revisions before she could offer representation. I was recovering from open heart surgery at the time, so I had to ask for a little time.

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She was understanding and told me to take my time. (Which was HARD, let me tell you.) And when I sent her the revisions, she got back to me in a month and I signed with her in October. So the process took around a year. Though Portrait got a lot of editorial interest, it was a little too outside the box and didn’t sell. So the next year, I decided to go back to my roots and write a Regency. How to Dance with a Duke sold after four months on submission.

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SW: Do you think being a librarian had an effect (good or bad) on your decision to become an author?

MC: Not really. I love books of course—always have—but to me librarianship is only minimally about the contents of the items we collect and organize. It’s more about being able to boil them down to their essence and describe them for others to find. Let’s be honest: there’s no possible way that librarians can read and understand every book they catalog or recommend! And I wanted to be a writer long before I decided to become a librarian. It does give me extra opportunities to squee, though. Seeing my books in Worldcat for the first time was a real high that I don’t think anyone who isn’t a librarian would appreciate.

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SW: What is the one thing you wish you’d known before you got “The Call”?

MC: I wish I’d known that “The Call” doesn’t spell an end to your days of fretting over what people think of your book. Yes, it does mean that you’ve finally moved onto the next rung of the ladder. But there’s just more chances to be judged waiting for you on every rung of the ladder. First it’s whether you get into WalMart or Target, then it’s what the big review journals think of it, then it’s what reviewers think of it, then it’s what readers think of it. Then the process starts all over again with your next book. It’s literally never ending. And what’s really crazy-making is that it even continues for authors who are New York Times bestsellers. Because as soon as one book hits it, then it becomes about hitting higher than your last book. And if you don’t there’s teeth-gnashing about why and what you can do next time.

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Not to say that I don’t LOVE this business. I do. But you’ve got to come into it with the knowledge that people are always judging you. And to keep your sanity, you’ve got to be able to step away from all that and focus on the writing. If you can’t, then you’ll be miserable. And worse, you’ll find it impossible to concentrate and your work will suffer.

My advice? Just let go of what you can’t control and concentrate on what you can. Be zen about it.

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SW: Great advice, Manda. And as a special treat, Manda is debuting her new trailer for The Perks of Being A Beauty right here on Kiss and Thrill.

SW: Thank you, Manda, for sharing your release day with us. And because Manda is as sweet as she is talented, she is giving away three e-copies of The Perks of Being A Beauty to three lucky commenters. Now, we’d love to know . . . how do you feel about the redemption of difficult heroines? (we will not use the “b” word, but you get what we mean :))

How-to-Romance-a-RakeManda Collins is the author of the Ugly Ducklings Trilogy, a series of historical romance novels. Manda spent her teen years wishing she’d been born a couple of centuries earlier, preferably in the English countryside. An affinity for books led to a graduate degree in English, followed by another in librarianship. By day, she works as an academic librarian at a small liberal arts college, where she teaches college students how to navigate the tangled world of academic research. A native of coastal Alabama, Manda lives in the house her mother grew up in.

You can find Manda on her website, Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Summer Reading List and Pas De Death Winner!

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First I want to thank Amanda Brice for getting us started by compiling a great list of middle grade and young adult mysteries! Thank you also to everyone who suggested books for the list. We ended up with a great selection of books and authors! I can’t wait to hit the library and bookstore with both of my children. To that end, I’ve taken all the recommendations and compiled them into one Word document you can download by clicking: K&T 2013 MG & YA reading list.

And now for our winner  who gets to choose one of the mysteries Amanda recommended in the blog, and will receive a copy of PAS DE DEATH by Amanda Brice

The winner is… Anthea Sharp

Anthea, to claim your books please email your preferred format (print or ebook) and your selection from Amanda’s list to contact@kissandthrill.com (or go to contact page for details). Remember, we must hear from you within 10 days and you must provide a US or Canadian address to qualify.

Next Tuesday at Kiss and Thrill Sharon Wray is interviewing our own Manda Collins to celebrate  the release of her wonderful novella THE PERKS OF BEING A BEAUTY.

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And on Thursday Krista Hall interviews the fabulous Kimberly Kincaid.

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Amanda Brice’s 2013 Summer Reading List for Tweens & Teens

Summer vacation is looming in my house. That big blank spot on the calendar, which I am woefully unprepared for. I have two kids, 13 and 10, girl and boy. Both voracious readers with very different tastes. Five more days of school, then we enter the abyss.

In a panic, I turned again to my friend, the brilliant author Amanda Brice for help. My daughter has read and loved all of Amanda’s Dani Spevak mysteries, and while I really wanted Amanda to write a few dozen more of the dance-world set mysteries before next Tuesday, that wasn’t really feasible, so instead she compiled this list of mysteries for Tweens and Teens.

We are opening up the comments today for middle grade and young adult book recommendations in any genre. On Thursday I will post a PDF of all the books recommended by Amanda as well as all the recommendations from our readers, so be sure to come back on Thursday for a library/shopping list. One lucky commenter will win a copy of Amanda’s PAS DE DEATH plus one of the books recommended by Amanda (winner’s choice) for the voracious reader in their life!

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Thank you to Rachel and the rest of the Kill & Thrill ladies for hosting me today. I had so much fun making summer reading suggestions last year, I’m delighted to make this an annual tradition. Here’s to great summer reading for years to come!

Now that school is out (or will be shortly), moms and dads across the country are faced with the task of what to do with their kids for the next 2 months or so. I can’t help you with summer camps or childcare of occupying their every waking hour, but in keeping with the suspense theme of this blog, I can help provide you with a list of awesome YA and middle grade mysteries!

These books are in no particularly order, so please don’t try to interpret it as a ranking of preference. But they are just some of my faves, and I hope they’ll come your kids’ faves, too.

For the Tweens:

Chomp by Carl Hiassen

Wahoo Cray lives in a zoo. His father is an animal wrangler, so he’s grown up with all manner of gators, snakes, parrots, rats, monkeys, snappers, and more in his backyard. The critters he can handle.  His father is the unpredictable one.

When his dad takes a job with a reality TV show called “Expedition Survival!”, Wahoo figures he’ll have to do a bit of wrangling himself—to keep his dad from killing Derek Badger, the show’s boneheaded star, before the shoot is over. But the job keeps getting more complicated. Derek Badger seems to actually believe his PR and insists on using wild animals for his stunts. And Wahoo’s acquired a shadow named Tuna—a girl who’s sporting a shiner courtesy of her old man and needs a place to hide out.

They’ve only been on location in the Everglades for a day before Derek gets bitten by a bat and goes missing in a storm. Search parties head out and promptly get lost themselves. And then Tuna’s dad shows up with a gun . . .

It’s anyone’s guess who will actually survive “Expedition Survival”. . . .

The 39 Clues Book 1: The Maze of Bones by Rick Riordan

The first book in this groundbreaking multimedia series sends readers around the world on the hunt for the 39 Clues. Written by #1 NYT bestseller Rick Riordan, and backed by $100,000 in prizes!

Minutes before she died Grace Cahill changed her will, leaving her decendants an impossible decision: “You have a choice – one million dollars or a clue.”

Grace is the last matriarch of the Cahills, the world’s most powerful family. Everyone from Napoleon to Houdini is related to the Cahills, yet the source of the family power is lost. 39 Clues hidden around the world will reveal the family’s secret, but no one has been able to assemble them. Now the clues race is on, and young Amy and Dan must decide what’s important: hunting clues or uncovering what REALLY happened to their parents.

NOTE: Each of the books in this series is written by a different famous author: Gordon Korman, Peter Lerangis, Margaret Peterson Haddix, David Baldacci, Clifford Riley, etc.

Last Shot by John Feinstein

Steven Thomas is one of two lucky winners of the U.S. Basketball Writer’s Association’s contest for aspiring journalists. His prize? A trip to New Orleans and a coveted press pass for the Final Four. It’s a basketball junkie’s dream come true!

But the games going on behind the scenes between the coaches, the players, the media, the money-men, and the fans turn out to be even more fiercely competitive than those on the court. Steven and his fellow winner, Susan Carol Anderson, are nosing around the Superdome and overhear what sounds like a threat to throw the championship game. Now they have just 48 hours to figure out who is blackmailing one of MSU’s star players . . . and why.

Airborn by Kenneth Oppel

Sailing toward dawn, and I was perched atop the crow’s nest, being the ship’s eyes. We were two nights out of Sydney, and there’d been no weather to speak of so far. I was keeping watch on a dark stack of nimbus clouds off to the northwest, but we were leaving it far behind, and it looked to be smooth going all the way back to Lionsgate City. Like riding a cloud. . . .

Matt Cruse is a cabin boy on the Aurora, a huge airship that sails hundreds of feet above the ocean, ferrying wealthy passengers from city to city. It is the life Matt’s always wanted; convinced he’s lighter than air, he imagines himself as buoyant as the hydrium gas that powers his ship. One night he meets a dying balloonist who speaks of beautiful creatures drifting through the skies. It is only after Matt meets the balloonist’s granddaughter that he realizes that the man’s ravings may, in fact, have been true, and that the creatures are completely real and utterly mysterious.

In a swashbuckling adventure reminiscent of Jules Verne and Robert Louis Stevenson, Kenneth Oppel, author of the best-selling Silverwing trilogy, creates an imagined world in which the air is populated by transcontinental voyagers, pirates, and beings never before dreamed of by the humans who sail the skies.

Nancy Clancy: Super Sleuth by Jane O’Connor

Kids who grew up with Jane O’Connor’s Fancy Nancy picture books can spend some quality time with their BFF: Nancy Clancy is now starring in her novels!

Fancy Nancy: Nancy Clancy, Super Sleuth is the first in a series of delightful middle-grade mysteries. Sassy Fancy Nancy is now a detective. When one of her classmate’s most special possessions disappears from school, it’s up to Nancy to save the day. With the help of her friend Bree, she follows the clues to an unexpected source.

Fans of Nancy Drew’s Clue Crew will be happy to see a new Nancy join the ranks of super sleuths.

Gone by Michael Grant

In the blink of an eye. Everyone disappears. GONE.

Except for the young. Teens. Middle schoolers. Toddlers. But not one single adult. No teachers, no cops, no doctors, no parents. Just as suddenly, there are no phones, no internet, no television. No way to get help. And no way to figure out what’s happened.

Hunger threatens. Bullies rule. A sinister creature lurks. Animals are mutating. And the teens themselves are changing, developing new talents—unimaginable, dangerous, deadly powers—that grow stronger by the day.

It’s a terrifying new world. Sides are being chosen, a fight is shaping up. Townies against rich kids. Bullies against the weak. Powerful against powerless. And time is running out: On your birthday, you disappear just like everyone else…

For the Teens:

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Oct. 11th, 1943-A British spy plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France. Its pilot and passenger are best friends. One of the girls has a chance at survival. The other has lost the game before it’s barely begun.

When “Verity” is arrested by the Gestapo, she’s sure she doesn’t stand a chance. As a secret agent captured in enemy territory, she’s living a spy’s worst nightmare. Her Nazi interrogators give her a simple choice: reveal her mission or face a grisly execution.

As she intricately weaves her confession, Verity uncovers her past, how she became friends with the pilot Maddie, and why she left Maddie in the wrecked fuselage of their plane. On each new scrap of paper, Verity battles for her life, confronting her views on courage, failure and her desperate hope to make it home. But will trading her secrets be enough to save her from the enemy?

A Michael L. Printz Award Honor book that was called “a fiendishly-plotted mind game of a novel” in The New York Times, Code Name Verity is a visceral read of danger, resolve, and survival that shows just how far true friends will go to save each other.

Paper Towns by John Green

When Margo Roth Spiegelman beckons Quentin Jacobsen in the middle of the night—dressed like a ninja and plotting an ingenious campaign of revenge—he follows her. Margo’s always planned extravagantly, and, until now, she’s always planned solo. After a lifetime of loving Margo from afar, things are finally looking up for Q . . . until day breaks and she has vanished. Always an enigma, Margo has now become a mystery. But there are clues. And they’re for Q.

Printz Medalist John Green returns with the trademark brilliant wit and heart-stopping emotional honesty that have inspired a new generation of readers. (Winner of the Edgar Award for Best Young Adult Mystery.)

I Am The Messenger by Markus Zusak

protect the diamonds

survive the clubs

dig deep through the spades

feel the hearts

Ed Kennedy is an underage cabdriver without much of a future. He’s pathetic at playing cards, hopelessly in love with his best friend, Audrey, and utterly devoted to his coffee-drinking dog, the Doorman. His life is one of peaceful routine and incompetence until he inadvertently stops a bank robbery.

That’s when the first ace arrives in the mail.

That’s when Ed becomes the messenger.

Chosen to care, he makes his way through town helping and hurting (when necessary) until only one question remains: Who’s behind Ed’s mission?

A 2005 Michael L. Printz Honor Book and recipient of five starred reviews, I Am the Messenger is a cryptic journey filled with laughter, fists, and love by the author of the extraordinary international bestseller The Book Thief.

Investigating the Hottie by Juli Alexander

Peterson. Amanda Peterson. When my life suddenly turns into the Princess Diaries meets Mission Impossible, can I do in a week what I haven’t managed to do in all my fifteen years—reel in a hottie?

When Amanda spends a week with her aunt, Christie, she learns that her aunt is a spy. Christie admits that Amanda has security clearance and has already started her training. When her aunt asks her to investigate a teenage hacker, Amanda thinks that spending time with a nerd should be doable despite her social ineptitude. Unfortunately for Amanda, the hacker is a hottie.

Also Known As by Robin Benway

Being a 16-year-old safecracker and active-duty daughter of international spies has its moments, good and bad. Pros: Seeing the world one crime-solving adventure at a time. Having parents with super cool jobs. Cons: Never staying in one place long enough to have friends or a boyfriend. But for Maggie Silver, the biggest perk of all has been avoiding high school and the accompanying cliques, bad lunches, and frustratingly simple locker combinations. Then Maggie and her parents are sent to New York for her first solo assignment, and all of that changes. She’ll need to attend a private school, avoid the temptation to hack the school’s security system, and befriend one aggravatingly cute Jesse Oliver to gain the essential information she needs to crack the case . . . all while trying not to blow her cover.

Demons of the Rich and Famous by Tawny Stokes

Supernatural possession is the new “disease” and teen exorcist Caden Butcher is the cure…

Caden Butcher, known as the whiz-kid exorcist to the stars, loves the Hollywood limelight. Or at least that’s what he wants people to believe so he can earn enough cash from his high profile exorcisms to take care of his ailing father. The problem is, not everyone’s happy with Caden’s star status, particularly Remy Martin, a high ranking member of the International Order of Exorcists, who suspects the truth, that these Hollywood exorcisms are staged with the help of Caden’s demon BFF, Dan.

So when a real exorcism goes bad and a nasty demon jumps bodies, the crap hits the supernatural fan. The Order strips Caden of his exorcism license right before he discovers the unleashed demon is one he knows well, very well. This demon is hell bent on destroying Caden’s life and everyone else who gets in his way. Now with the help of his demon buddy, and Caden’s girlfriend Aspen Spencer, a necromancer in training, Caden must defy the Order, track down the rogue demon and send him back to hell before it’s too late.

I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga

What if the world’s worst serial killer…was your dad?

Jasper (Jazz) Dent is a likable teenager. A charmer, one might say.

But he’s also the son of the world’s most infamous serial killer, and for Dear Old Dad, Take Your Son to Work Day was year-round. Jazz has witnessed crime scenes the way cops wish they could–from the criminal’s point of view.

And now bodies are piling up in Lobo’s Nod.

In an effort to clear his name, Jazz joins the police in a hunt for a new serial killer. But Jazz has a secret–could he be more like his father than anyone knows?

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Thank you, Amanda, for putting together such a great list! Now it’s time for me to add my own recommendation:

Pas De Death by Amanda Brice

pas de deux: (NOUN: pl. pas de deux)
1. A dance for two, especially a dance in ballet consisting of an entrée and adagio, a variation for each dancer, and a coda.
2. A close relationship between two people or things, as during an activity.

pas de death (NOUN: yeah … totally made up)
1. A dance of death.
2. When Dani Spevak stumbles over a dead body and gets into another crazy situation.

Aspiring ballerina Dani Spevak is back home for the summer, recovering from an injury. What was supposed to be a simple day trip into New York City to visit her friends at the Manhattan Ballet Conservatory turns deadly when Dani discovers that the world of professional dance can be cutthroat — literally.

Please give us your recommendations for teens and tweens in the comments, all genres welcome! One lucky commenter will get a copy of PAS DE DEATH and their pick of one of the books Amanda recommended.

Plain Pursuit Winner

Thanks again to our wonderful Love Inspired suspense author and guest, Alison Stone. Please come back anytime! And now, without further ado :

The winner of PLAIN PURSUIT is Connie Fischer. Congratulations, Connie! Please contact us here with your snail mail address to claim your prize.

 

 

 

What’s up next: 

June 6th-June 10th: Hop on over to Diana Belchase’s website and check out her guest blog with mystery author Elaine Viets.

 

Then Tuesday, June 11th Rachel Grant has a special blog with author Amanda Brice and summer reading Amanda Bricerecommendations for middle grade and young adults. Don’t miss this!

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