Category:

All the latest book giveaway news on YABC.

Author Chat with Stephanie Graegin (THE LONG RIDE HOME), Plus Giveaway! ~ US ONLY

June 29th, 2022 by

Today we are chatting with Stephanie Graegin, author of THE LONG RIDE HOME

Read on for more about her, her book, and a giveaway!

 

 

Meet Stephanie Graegin

Stephanie Graegin is the author and illustrator of Fern and Otto, A Story About Two Best Friends and Little Fox in the Forest which garnered four starred reviews and appeared on many Best of the Year lists. She is also the illustrator of several books for children, including You Were the First by Patricia MacLachlan; The Lost Gift by Kallie George; Water in the Park by Emily Jenkins, which received three starred reviews; and Peace Is an Offering by Annette LeBox. Stephanie lives in Brooklyn, New York. Visit her at graegin.com.

Website * Twitter * Instagram

 

 

About the Book: THE LONG RIDE HOME

A tender picture book that celebrates memories and friendship about a young koala and a friend who has moved away.

Little Koala has a long ride home, and every place her mother passes invokes a memory of her best friend: the ice cream shop where they giggled uncontrollably; the hill in the park where they crashed their bikes (that memory also lives on as a little scar on Koala’s knee), the library where they borrowed their favorite book again and again.

Koala’s friendship blooms beautifully on the page, seamlessly interwoven with the ride home, and soon we learn just why these memories are so important: Koala’s friend has moved away. The story ends on a lovely note of hope: Koala and her friend are still close, despite the distance.

The Long Ride Home is a universal and broadly appealing friendship story that explores the power of memory with tenderness, warmth, and heart. Stephanie Graegin expertly balances the bittersweet sensations of cherishing a moment long past with artwork that is rendered in soft, sepia hues in a way that only she can.

 

Pre-order

 

~Author Chat~

 

YABC:  What gave you the inspiration to write this book?

The Long Ride Home came about at the height of the pandemic. It was at a time when we hadn’t left our neighborhood for several months. Like everybody, I was missing family and friends. The idea for the book started from thinking about how places can act like a storage for memories. Passing by places you have been to, or have a connection to, can instantly bring you back in time. Memories are a tangible connection to a previous time and place, a personal collection of all the important people and experiences in our lives. When I was a child, I had to move across the country, and I was devastated when I had to move away from my best friend. But much like our friends in the book, we kept in touch through letters; a ritual we keep to this day.

YABC: Who is your favorite character in the book?

I love Koala’s best friend, little Cheetah. She’s quirky, creative, outgoing, and most important of all she’s a wonderful best friend who understands Koala deeply. She’s a perfect complement for Koala.

YABC: Which came first, the title or the novel?

The story came first, but the title came to me right away as I was writing. It’s also part of the very first line. Surprisingly, it didn’t change at all in the process. With the other picture books I’ve written, the titles ended up changing multiple times by the time the book was finished.

YABC: What do you like most about the cover of the book?

The adorable Koala looking out the car window of course!

YABC: What’s a book you’ve recently read and loved?

 

How to Write One Song by Jeff Tweedy. It’s a fun, quick read. The writing exercises were both fascinating and helpful, and even though it was written with songwriting in mind, it can be applied to writing picture books.

YABC:   What’s up next for you?

I have a Christmas-themed picture book that I illustrated, The Stocking Stuffer written by Holley Merriweather, about a mouse named Tinsel and how he saves Christmas coming out in September. I’m currently illustrating a picture book titled Today, written by Gabi Synder. It’s a companion book to Listen, which Gabi wrote and I illustrated, centered around mindfulness. I’m also working on illustrating the third book in Cynthia Lord’s chapter book series about library toys, Book Buddies.

YABC:   Which was the most difficult or emotional scene to narrate?

The scene where Koala is standing outside her best friend’s old house. In a lit-up window you can see a different family inside. Her best friend has since moved away. There’s so much emotion there. It always makes me choke up.

YABC:    What is the main message or lesson you would like your reader to remember from this book?

Friendships complete us. Your friends, especially those best ones who are kindred spirits, are always with you in your heart and memories. The great friendships of your life transcend time and distance.

YABC:      What would you say is your superpower?

Drawing cute critters!

 

 

Book’s Title: THE LONG RIDE HOME

Author/Illustrator: Stephanie Graegin

Release Date: 6/28/22

Publisher: Random House Studio

ISBN-10: 0593426029

ISBN-13: 9780593426029

Genre: fiction picture book

 Age Range: ages 4-8

*GIVEAWAY DETAILS*

 

Five winners will receive a copy of THE LONG RIDE HOME (Stephanie Graegin) ~US ONLY

 

 *Click the Rafflecopter link below to enter the giveaway*

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Exclusive Trailer Reveal + Giveaway: Dylan Dover: Into the Vortex (Lynne Howard) ~US/CAN

June 29th, 2022 by

YABC is excited to share the exclusive trailer reveal for

Dylan Dover: Into the Vortex by Lynne Howard!

Read on for more about Lynne, her book, a book trailer reveal & giveaway!

 

 

 

Meet The Author: Lynne Howard

Lynne Howard, author of the Dylan Dover: Into the Vortex series, is a writer, lawyer, and teacher. Passionate about serving her community and dedicated to social and environmental justice, she lives in Toronto, Canada with her husband, children, and two dogs, Halle and Oliver.

Website * TikTok * Facebook

 

 

About the Book: Dylan Dover: Into the Vortex

In a stunning debut, Lynne Howard’s Dylan Dover: Into the Vortex casts a potent reader’s charm over all youngsters clamoring for a new supernatural hero. Dylan believes he is a typical twelve-year-old until he stumbles into a vortex that miraculously transports him to the immortal dimension, a parallel universe.
Dylan not only learns that he is a warlock, but he also discovers a twin brother, extraordinary powers, and a secret prophecy that seems to have Dylan and his family at its crux. Dylan, along with his brother and their new-found wizard friend Thea, begin to unravel the mystery that surrounds their birth and the danger that threatens immortals
and humans alike.
Click here for Book Trailer Reveal:

Book’s Title: Dylan Dover: Into the Vortex

Author: Lynne Howard

Release Date: 6/29 e-book and 7/4 for paperback

Publisher: The Conrad Press

ISBN-13: 978-1-914913-98-3

Genre: MG Fantasy

Age Range: 8+

*GIVEAWAY DETAILS* 

 

Five Winners will receive a signed copy of Dylan Dover: Into the Vortex (Lynne Howard) ~US/CAN

 

 

*Click the Rafflecopter link below to enter the giveaway*

 

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Spotlight on Theo and Sprout: A Journey of Growth (Joseph Gergen), Plus Giveaway! ~ US Only

June 27th, 2022 by

 Today we’re spotlighting Theo & Sprout: A Journey of Growth by Joseph Gergen!

Read on for more about Joseph, his book, and a giveaway!

 

 

 

Meet Joseph Gergen:

Born and raised on the plains of North Dakota. Moved to Twin Cities because it’s actually warmer. Enjoy creating in whatever form it takes. I’ve pursued writing, painting, and furniture making. The enjoyment is in the doing. My writing tends to fall into magical realism where I let the characters tell me where the story should go.

 

Website * Twitter * Instagram

 

 

 

About the Book: Theo and Sprout: A Journey of Growth

Sprout says she’s there to help him, to guide him. Theo, an introverted, teenage boy form a large family, is not so sure about that. He’s not sure about much of anything at the moment. You see, Theo is thrown into absolute uncertainty one morning after he has showered for school when Sprout shows up.

While Theo longs for some guidance through the perils of adolescence, the guidance he knew his family wouldn’t give him, he isn’t prepared for Sprout to present herself and offer it to him. In fact, he doesn’t appear to have a choice since Sprout, sassy and confident about her presence, won’t go away.

Thus begin the adventures of Theo and Sprout.

Amazon

 

 

~Excerpt from Theo and Sprout: A Journey of Growth ~

SPROUT. My brother had no idea the impact the nickname he derisively gave me would have. Neither of us knew how unwittingly appropriate it would become. Was it destiny or self-fulfilling prophecy? I don’t know. Memories and dreams and possibilities like to mix together. As far as my past is concerned and the makeup of who I am and what shaped me, I can make no distinction between memory and reality and dream. I usually don’t try.

While I certainly don’t remember all of my childhood, and many aspects are densely foggy, I remember with clarity the day my life changed. I was preparing for school in the basement bathroom—the small, cramped bathroom that seemed more like a large porta-potty with a shower than an actual bathroom. Wet towels covered the floor and almost all available surfaces. Countless toiletries jumbled themselves wherever space allowed them to balance or stack. Most of these did not belong to me. They belonged to my collection of brothers and sisters. I had a toothbrush. I knew that. Usually, I found toothpaste. If I absolutely needed a less common toiletry, I picked through a baffling array of products, many of which I had no understanding, until I found something useful.

The bathroom door could have been used in a magic show, presenting only an illusion of a door. The useless expandable accordion door secured itself with a weak set of magnets. No locking mechanism whatsoever. Talk about a constant childhood fear. Forever filled with anxiety a sibling would barge in on me as I did my business. Brothers would barge in like some bad slapstick comedy knowing, like we all knew, if the door was closed, the bathroom was in use. If the boys heard the shower, they wouldn’t hesitate to sneak in and use the toilet. The girls exhibited more restraint. They at least would knock before they told you to hurry up, which would never sped up your business. Of course, just because the door was closed didn’t always mean someone was on the toilet. The girls fondly engaged in hours of preening before the mirror. So, privacy—that wasn’t a thing growing up.

The day my life changed I don’t recall anything out of the ordinary going on, neither in the bathroom nor the world at large. Spring had ushered in milder weather and the near ending of the school year. My freshman year of high school. And have I mentioned I was an average 15-year-old boy? I was short and lean, a sprout. My hair buzzed close to my head. My face was angular, all the fat sapped away from constant running. I didn’t spend much time worrying about my body image. It just was.

When puberty enters the scene, the body has a few topics it wants to talk about. You should probably pay attention or ask for guidance. I did not. Deep down I knew I needed guidance, but since my parents and family hadn’t provided any in the first 15 years of life, I suspected any request for guidance would have ended in terrible awkwardness. I guess my older brother BJ gave me guidance, if you call tough love and admonishments to be more manly guidance.

 

Book’s Title: Theo and Sprout: A Journey of Growth

Author: Joseph Gergen

Release Date: 5/21/2022

Publisher: Joseph Gergen

ISBN-13: 978-1734736625

Genre: Coming of Age

Age Range: 14+

 

*GIVEAWAY DETAILS*

 

 

Ten winners will receive a paper copy of Theo and Sprout: A Journey of Growth (Joseph Gergen) ~US ONLY

 

*Click the Rafflecopter link below to enter the giveaway*

 

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Indie Superstars with the Author of The 716 + GIVEAWAY (International)

June 27th, 2022 by

Welcome to YA Books Central’s “Indie Superstars” column. This monthly event will spotlight the best and brightest of the indie community.

You don’t want to miss out on these talented authors!

 

This week we’re interviewing S.J. Pratt, Author of The 716.

 

 

Caitlin Haines: Can you tell us a little about The 716?

S.J. Pratt: Absolutely! The 716 is a young adult, science fiction novel with feminist vibes and some fun engineering and technology. It’s perfect for anyone looking for an easy read that might get you thinking, a good dose of humor, a touch of romance, strong sibling bonds, and a robotic bestie who loves tea.

The 716 is set in a future where women rule and men are considered the subservient sex. With this backdrop, we follow the story of two driven and passionate protagonists who both want to be engineers: Andy, who can’t achieve his dream because only women can go to university, and Olivia, who is destined to be the future leader of Meliora so of course, can’t go and be an engineer either. When these two meet, Andy gets the chance to prove himself on the female stage and unbeknownst to either of them, they set the scene to change the course of history.

 

Caitlin: Where did the inspiration come from?

S.J.: I was having a drink with a friend, talking about a pretty awful sexual assault that had happened at a stop on my walk to work (like, I had to walk past that spot every day) and my friend was kind, but he wasn’t really interested. And then, and I don’t remember why, but we ended up talking about if our positions were reversed, if it were men that had to think about which route to take home at night, men who would worry if their clothing was too flirtatious and whether that really had anything to do with being a victim? And it sparked this amazing conversation and suddenly I could see a real fire in my friend. It was like he could actually empathize and visualize what it might be like to be in a woman’s shoes, and it got me thinking: could we get more men passionate about gender equality and eliminating sexism if they could experience it themselves? So, I started with this idea of a boy who wants to be an engineer but can’t because you know, sexism, and the story grew and developed from there.

 

Caitlin: What is it about science fiction that draws you in so much?

S.J.: I love the possibilities of science fiction. I love the stars, the science, the technology and the vast possibilities. I love the ability to ask and attempt to answer the age-old question of “What if?” What if robots had feelings and personalities? What if we met aliens? What if we could teleport anywhere in the universe instantly? Or, in my case, what if we flipped sexism on its head and women were naturally in charge? And what if a young man wanted to be more than his sexist society allows him to be? Science fiction is the perfect stage for lots of fun and exploration.

 

Caitlin: Who is your favorite character in this book and why?

S.J.: Oo, tough question! I’d have to say RAY (the most adorable floating ball of light ever). Andy originally designed him to be an automatic light for his aunt’s mechanic workshop, but RAY developed into this amazing friend, someone who calls out prejudice when he sees it, challenges Andy to step up and think outside the box, and promotes more inclusive ways of doing things. He also loves tea and changes color based on his mood.

 

Caitlin: Do you have a background in engineering? If so, what kind?

S.J.: I’ve always loved engineering and tech, but honestly, as a young, shy woman, I didn’t think I could do it. There was one woman in the mechatronics program at my university when I attended, and she was so made to be an engineer. Was I? I didn’t know. So I went into business, aiming to own and run my own company by the time I was 30. Well, as the universe would have it, I met an aerospace engineer and together we started an aerospace engineering company (and yes, yay, before I was 30). And it’s been awesome. I get to be a part of an amazing team, seeing incredible tech coming to life every day. Like, we recently created a capsule for a local scientist to go in a small satellite so she could experiment with the effects of zero gravity on her science, isn’t that awesome? It certainly is for me. So, while I am not an engineer myself, I know a decent bit about it and I am privileged to have a tribe of engineers around me who helped a lot with all the plane mechanics and engineering in my novel.

 

Caitlin: What’s one thing you have to have while writing (music, quiet, snacks, coffee, etc.)?

S.J.: Coffee! Luckily, I am a morning person so this works well. I also have an insanely large mug collection and have different mugs for different vibes (e.g. one with a bunch of books by female authors on it to inspire me to keep going, one with whales on it for calming, slower scene writing).

 

Caitlin: Can you give us a hint at what’s to come next? Is this part of a series?

S.J.: The 716 is a part of a series, yes! A trilogy, in fact.

As for a hint to what comes next, well, we will see this idea of gender equality grow and take a foothold in the community, we’ll see some embrace it and some people resist it. There will be some tough times, especially for Andy, and we’ll get to learn more about Our Mother as she tries desperately to hold on to power (and in her mind, peace). And there will be more adorable RAY moments too. 😊

Meet S.J. Pratt

S.J. Pratt loves writing young adult science fiction. She runs an aerospace engineering company by day and writes in the early hours of the morning. She hopes she was a notetaker for Jane Austen in a past life, is currently an avid feminist and coffee addict, and as a sci-fi nerd she looks forward to culminating her existence as an omnipotent space whale. She lives in Christchurch, New Zealand with her incredible husband and incredibly needy cat.

Sign up for S.J. Pratt’s newsletter to get the first 3 chapters of the novel for free!

FacebookInstagram | Website

 

Giveaway

A vivid coming of age story filled with feminism, engineering and the courage of everyday heroes.

Olivia is destined to be the future leader of Meliora. She’s smart, rich, and innovative, and she has a pink Identifeye light. Andy is destined to be a waiter and househusband. His blue Identifeye light prevents him from pursuing his dream of becoming an engineer. After all, who ever heard of a male engineer? But when Andy’s life becomes entangled with Olivia’s and he gets the chance to prove himself on the female stage, everything starts to change.

In a society where men are second-class citizens and only binary gender norms are acceptable, Andy and Olivia must confront their own beliefs and decide what kind of world they want to live in. Will they do what is expected or what is right? And will the wrong choice spell disaster?

Fans of The Lunar Chronicles, Divergent and Noughts and Crosses will enjoy this original and thought-provoking sci-fi adventure with a touch of romance.

 

Enter to win an ebook copy of The 716,
as well as a bookmark and signed character art
in this (International)

Rafflecopter giveaway!

Giveaway: National Geographic Kids Almanac 2023 ~US Only

June 22nd, 2022 by

We’re excited to host the giveaway for National Geographic Kids Almanac 2023~US Only!  Read on to find out more about the book and giveaway:

 

 

About the Book: National Geographic Kids Almanac 2023

Get ready for 2023 with all the latest and greatest information on animals, science, nature, technology, conservation, and more in this worldwide best-selling almanac. Packed with incredible photos and fascinating stories, this new edition features:

  • BONUS SECTION: 20 Things to Make You Happy
  • NEW trends and news for the year ahead
  • NEW photo feature showcasing wonders from around the world
  • NEW Almanac Challenge, plus the results of the 2022 Almanac Challenge
  • NEW incredible animal stories
  • NEW weird-but-true facts
  • NEW amazing inventions
  • NEW interviews with National Geographic Explorers
  • NEW games, activities, jokes, and comics
  • UPDATED reference material, including fast facts and maps of every country

Whether you’re looking for homework help, want to learn more about another country, or just need a cute animal fix, the National Geographic Kids Almanac 2023 has you covered!

 

This book is based on content from the award-winning and top-selling children’s magazine, National Geographic Kids, and National Geographic Kids books, the Almanac is created by multiple National Geographic contributors–including researchers, photographers, content experts, and educational specialists.

 

Amazon * B&N * Indiebound

 

Book’s Title: National Geographic Kids Almanac 2023

Author: National Geographic

Release Date: May 3, 2022

Publisher: National Geographic Kids

ISBN-10: 1426373368

ISBN-13:978-1426373367

Genre: Non-Fiction

Age Range: 8 – 12 years

 

 

*GIVEAWAY DETAILS* 

 

Two winners will receive a copy of National Geographic Kids: Almanac 2023 ~US Only

 

*Click the Rafflecopter link below to enter the giveaway*

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway: Ultimate Book of the Future: Incredible, Ingenious, and Totally Real Tech that will Change Life as You Know It (Stephanie Warren Drimmer) ~US ONLY

June 22nd, 2022 by

We’re excited to host the giveaway for Ultimate Book of the Future: Incredible, Ingenious, and Totally Real Tech that will Change Life as You Know It (National Geographic Kids) ~US ONLY!  Read on to find out more about the book and giveaway:

 

 

About the Book: Ultimate Book of the Future: Incredible, Ingenious, and Totally Real Tech that will Change Life as You Know It

Robot dogs! Jet packs! Cyborgs! Super-sleek space suits! It’s not science fiction, it’s science reality. And soon, it may be part of everyday life. This book is a jam-packed collection of the coolest tech and wildest ideas that are shaping the world of tomorrow.

Blast off for an unbelievably fascinating journey through time, space, and even a holographic pop concert (or two)! With chapters on future cities, space travel, high-tech entertainment, and even saving the world, Future World is a thorough, fun compendium of high-tech gadgets being built today and the coolest stuff tomorrow has to offer, plus the amazing dreamers making it all happen.

Special “Could It Happen?” features tackle kids” burning hypothetical questions, like whether Jurassic Park could really exist, or whether a robot could become president. Each chapter also includes a “Future Fail!” that profiles one thing we thought we’d have by now, but don’t (like everything from The Jetsons.) And kids will see where they might fit into the picture through the “Jobs of Tomorrow” profiled in each chapter. (Job titles include mind reader, space pilot, and robot-human communicator. Seriously!)

 

Amazon * B&N 

 

 

About the Author: Stephanie Warren Drimmer

Stephanie Warren Drimmer is a science writer based in Los Angeles, California. She writes books and magazine features for kids about everything from the strangest places in space, to the chemistry of cookies, to the mysteries of the human brain. She has a degree in science journalism from New York University…but she thinks she likes writing for kids because she’s secretly still one herself.

 

 

Book’s Title: Ultimate Book of the Future: Incredible, Ingenious, and Totally Real Tech that will Change Life as You Know It

Author: Stephanie Warren Drimmer

Release Date: June 7, 2022

Publisher: National Geographic Kids

ISBN-10: 1426371624

ISBN-13: 978-1426371622

Genre: Non-fiction

Age Range: 8 -12 years old

 

*GIVEAWAY DETAILS* 

 

Two winners will receive a copy of Ultimate Book of the Future: Incredible, Ingenious, and Totally Real Tech that will Change Life as You Know It (Stephanie Warren Drimmer) ~US ONLY

 

*Click the Rafflecopter link below to enter the giveaway*

 

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway: Break Down! (Mara Grunbaum) ~US ONLY

June 22nd, 2022 by

We’re excited to host the giveaway for Break Down! (Mara Grunbaum) ~US Only!  Read on to find out more about the book and giveaway:

 

 

About the Book: Break Down!

Boom! Crash! Crumble! A wrecking ball smashes into the side of a building, sending pieces flying. It’s an awe-inspiring sight. It’s also science!

This book explores how things break down, crack, explode, crumple, and shatter. This fun, unique take on a how-things-work book explores the world through the lens of what it takes for things to, well, not work. In these vibrantly illustrated pages, you’ll peer through the smoke and rubble of controlled demolitions to discover the properties of building materials. Then get a glimpse of the inner workings of a cracked cell phone screen, peek carefully at mega-avalanches and sinkholes, and hold on tight as wrecking balls swing and car crushers crunch metal. Buckle up with crash-test dummies and travel back in time to explore the world’s most famous failures (looking at you, Leaning Tower of Pisa).

Featuring hands-on activities that walk kids through their own experiments in destruction, Break Down! will change the way you look at the world.

Topics include:

* Demolition and controlled destruction

* Things that are built to break

* History’s famous failures

* Natural disasters

* And more!
About the Author: Mara Grunbaum
MARA GRUNBAUM is an award-winning science journalist, editor, and author based in Seattle, Washington. She uses humor, accessible writing, and solid science to inform audiences of all ages and interests. Grunbaum has covered all areas of science but has a particular penchant for the strange, slimy, and generally biological. Her work has appeared in outlets such as Slate, Popular Science, Live Science, Discover, Scholastic Science World, and the New York Times for Kids. She is also a senior editor for Natural History magazine and the former editor of Scholastic SuperScience, a classroom science magazine for students in grades 3 to 6. Grunbaum won the AAAS Kavli Science Journalism Award for Children’s Science News and has a master’s degree in science, health, and environmental reporting from New York University. You can find her online at https://www.maragrunbaum.com/ or on Twitter @maragrunbaum.

Book’s Title: Break Down!

Author: Mara Grunbaum

Release Date: August 23, 2022

Publisher: National Geographic

ISBN-13: 9781426373053

Genre: non-fiction

Age Range: Ages 8 to 12

 

 

*GIVEAWAY DETAILS* 

 

Two winners will receive a copy of Break Down! (Mara Grunbaum) ~US Only

 

*Click the Rafflecopter link below to enter the giveaway*

 

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Rockstar Tours: THE PACK #2: CLAW AND ORDER (Lisi Harrison), Excerpt & Giveaway! ~US ONLY

June 21st, 2022 by

I am thrilled to be hosting a spot
on the THE PACK #2: CLAW AND ORDER by Lisi Harrison Blog Tour hosted by 
Rockstar Book Tours. Check out
my post and make sure to enter the giveaway!

 

About The Book:

Title: THE PACK #2: CLAW AND ORDER

Author: Lisi Harrison

Pub. Date: June 21, 2022

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Formats: Hardcover, eBook, Audiobook

Pages: 192

Find it: GoodreadsAmazon, Kindle, Audible, B&NiBooks, KoboTBD, Bookshop.org

Sadie and
her best friends are back in book two of this series about girls with animal
powers. The Pack seems stronger than ever but Sadie has a secret that
could claw its way out.

Sadie thought joining the Pack would be the wildest thing to happen to her this
year but the school year is becoming even harder.

On top of classes Sadie has to navigate her growing feelings for her crush,
taming her powers during cheer practice and trouble making hyenas trying to
take her crown.

 

Then there is the massive secret she is keeping from her BFF Lindsey–that
could destroy their friendship and The Pack as they know it. Will the shocking
truth come out to bite them?

 

Grab book 1, THE PACK now!

 

~Excerpt~

Excerpt:

one

The classroom smelled like a Sephora. Instead of paying attention to Professor Norma’s snoozer of a lecture on landforms, the caged animal-lights were swiping fruit-flavored gloss across their lips and rubbing floral-scented salves into their hands–all in anticipation of that final gong. Once struck, Typical Topics would be over, and the most anticipated weekend of the year (since last month’s dance with the Allendale boys) would finally begin.

Sadie gazed beyond the metal-framed windows. Those smoke-gray clouds were still hovering. Oppressive and suffocating, they loomed above the private grounds of the Charm House boarding school like an overbearing parent, there to put a damper on her plans and, even worse, her new hairstyle. Hair that Sadie spent most of the day admiring in the reflection of her dead laptop screen.

She’d meant to charge her computer the night before. Really. But Claw Spa, the new beauty salon Sadie was opening with her pack mates, had become a major attention suck. Saturday morning was fully booked, and they were wildly unprepared.

Lindsey, tiger-light and queen of the claws, had to set up a manicure table. Taylor, chameleon-light and color expert, needed a dyeing station. Amy, snake-light and scaly skin specialist, had to blend her oil treatments. And Sadie, lion-light with superhuman strength and a dry blond mane, was stuck rearranging furniture–a bummer, but not a surprise.

They had finished setting up around midnight. While Lindsey, Taylor, and Amy applauded their work, Sadie, now surrounded by mirrors, fixated on her unruly hair. Gathering it in a bristly bundle, she tried twisting it into something elegant at the nape of her neck. Tying straw into a bow would have been easier. “I should just shave it off.”

“Funny,” Taylor said as she worked her short pink layers into spikes. “I’ve been thinking about all of that”–she waved her hand in the general vicinity of Sadie’s head–“and I have an idea. Trust me.”

“You’ve been thinking about it?” How long had Taylor been contemplating Sadie’s look? “Is it that bad?” Her stomach dipped as she remembered the girls at her old school, how they called her Hairy Poppins. And Taylor’s whole “trust me” thing? That was an elephant-sized ask.

Only weeks earlier, Taylor had secretly terrorized the animal-lights–and worse, her own pack mates. Her plan was to scare the girls (mostly Lindsey) so they would stop sneaking out to meet the boys. If the animal-lights were discovered, the evil doctors at Institute of Behavioral Science would lock them in cages on the thirteenth floor, just like they did with Kate, and experiment on them 24/7. So Taylor’s intention was to keep them safe. But really, T? Did you have to turn invisible, scratch venom into our bodies to make us sleep, then carve the number 13 into our skin? You couldn’t think of any other way to keep us safe from IBS? Nothing?

Apparently, she couldn’t. And technically, that was fine. Taylor meant well and the Pack forgave her. But “trust”? Yeah, that was going to take a while.

“Sadie, I’m not saying your frizzy vibe is brutal,” she continued. “I’m just–”

“Then I’ll say it,” Lindsey interrupted, her emerald-green eyes fierce and focused. “Sadie Lady, we love you, but your frizzy vibe is brutal.”

“Brutal is a little harsh,” Amy said. “Brittle is more appropriate.” Her sympathetic smile revealed one fang on either side of her mouth. “Why don’t I heat some orange and clove oil and–”

“We can give you a mane-over!” Taylor bellowed.

“Purrrfect,” Lindsey said. “I’ll do her claws!”

Two hours later, Sadie was running the sharp points of her gold nails through flat-ironed, deep-conditioned blond hair that faded to black.

“Wow, you look sixteen!” Amy gushed.

“Yeah, the ombré technique is a total mane-changer,” Taylor said. “And the dark tips hide your split ends.”

“You actually look pretty!” Lindsey added.

“Actually?”

“Not that you didn’t look pretty before. You did. On the inside. But now you’re pretty on the outside, too.”

Sadie was too excited about her mane-over to be offended. Before heading to bed, Taylor gave her a bottle of dry shampoo and strict instructions not to get her hair wet or it would frizz again. Which was why Sadie was currently admiring her reflection in a dead laptop screen and praying the rain away instead of listening to–

“Miss Samson!” Professor Norma shouted, or maybe it just sounded like a shout because of Sadie’s extra-sensitive hearing. “Are you paying attention?”

Chairs creaked as everyone turned.

“Uh . . .” Sadie’s cheeks warmed. “You were talking about animal migration.”

“Correct. I was talking about animal migration. Twenty minutes ago . . .”

The hyena-lights giggled. Jealous of the Pack’s popularity, they feasted on their misfortunes.

“Now I’m asking our Charm Club leaders for status reports, and since you’re one of those leaders, why don’t you update us on your progress.”

Lindsey, Taylor, and Amy glared at Sadie, silently reminding her not to divulge their secret. As if she needed a reminder. The Charm Club project was worth 50 percent of their Typical Topics grade. And with her slipping GPA, Sadie was counting on a high score to bring up her average. If word got out that their club, the Claw Spa, was charging for treatments, they’d fail. Granted, the Pack wasn’t asking for money. Just that customers cover the Pack’s chores and hand over their desserts whenever asked. This seemed like a reasonable request, considering Claw Spa was the only club providing an essential service. But try telling that to a professor preaching a free-flowing exchange of ideas and teamwork.

“Our progress?” Sadie lowered the screen on her laptop. “Um, last night we set up the spa in our dorm rooms, and it opens tomorrow. That’s about it.”

Professor Norma lowered her glasses, which were attached to a beaded string that held them around her neck, against her navy cardigan. Her small features were tight, and her makeup-free skin was the color of Silly Putty. She was probably a terrible joke-teller. “Can you share your most positive experience so far?”

Sadie reached for the glossy tips of her hair and sat up a little taller. “Um, the Allendale football game is tomorrow night, and Family Day is Sunday, so we’re booked solid, which is cool.”

“Sounds promising.” The professor searched Sadie’s eyes like hiding places. “And your most challenging experience?”

“Fitting everyone in, I guess. Demand is pretty high.”

“Well, you are offering a free service.”

“Free?” Val yipped. “Ha!” She and the other hyena-lights had started a comedy club named Cackle. Ever since Professor Norma had said she thought the name was clever (cackle is the sound of a laugh, and it’s also the name for a group of hyenas), Val had been incredibly cocky.

Professor Norma folded her arms across her dangling glasses. “Is there a problem?”

“Only if you think doing someone else’s chores is a–”

Lindsey growled softly.

“Chores?” Professor Norma’s thin eyebrows arched.

Lindsey glowered at Val and whispered, “Watch it, hy-e-nerd,” knowing that Professor Norma couldn’t hear her.

“Val, are you suggesting that–”

“Nope. All good. I was just workshopping one of my jokes for the Family Day showcase. I guess it needs more work. Sorry about that.”

Unlike the other teachers at Charm House, Professor “Normal” did not have an animal-light, so quiet whispers often went undetected. Sadie often wondered why Headmistress Flora had hired a Typical in the first place. Yes, she taught Typical Topics, so that part made sense, but still. The whole point of Charm House was to protect its students from the outside world. A world in which researchers from the Institute of Behavioral Science hunted animal-lights and imprisoned them on the thirteenth floor of their creepy building, where they experimented on their prisoners and would continue to do so until the source of their animal powers was uncovered. Professor Norma’s daughter was a light, which was why everyone trusted her. But what kind of light? And where was this daughter? Was she with Kate–Amy’s old roommate, who had been captured by IBS the week before Sadie arrived? No one seemed to know.

“Who else will be presenting their club during the Family Day showcase?” the professor asked.

Before anyone could answer, the gong rang. The weekend had officially started, and the students began clearing out.

“Miss Samson, may I have a few words?”

“Of course.” Smiling, Sadie made her way to the front of the room, anticipating another compliment. All her other teachers had had something positive to say about her hair, and every student (except the hyena-lights, of course) had booked a spa appointment, hoping for a similar look. If Professor Normal’s few words were flattering, she could have as many as she wanted.

“I’ve noticed a change in you lately,” she said once Sadie approached her desk.

“I elevated my style.”

Professor Normal glanced at Sadie’s black tips. “I see that.”

An awkward silence filled the space between them. A space that no longer smelled like fruity gloss and floral salves. Just tension.

“Any chance of you elevating your grades?”

“My grades?” Was that was this was about? Because come on. For the first time, Sadie had best friends, regular friends, and a crush on an Allendale boy who liked her back. As the only lion-light at Charm House, she no longer feared mean girls; they feared her. She was CEO of Claw Spa. Boss-lady of the jungle. Leader of the Pack. Yes, socializing had been cutting into her study time lately. But she’d bounce back. Good grades had always come easy to her. But BFFs? Not as much.

“I’m concerned,” Professor Normal said with a coffee-scented sigh. “The other teachers are, too.”

“Don’t worry. I’m a cat. We always land on our feet.”

“Do you think your parents will feel the same way?”

“I do,” Sadie said, sure of it. Her parents always wanted her to branch out and make friends. So yeah, they would feel the same way. How could they not?

 

two

The Claw Spa opened its dorm-room doors immediately after breakfast, and now Sadie’s bacon-free belly was shouting, Time for lunch! Had it been five hours already? She chased her hunger with cucumber-infused water, then greeted her next customer.

“Welcome to Claw Spa,” she said to Sondra, a petite rat-light with chin zits and oily brown hair. “Checking in?”

Sondra nodded, brows raised, smile wide. Like a caterpillar on the verge of metamorphosis, she, and the dozens who checked in before her, wanted a beauty transformation, just like Sadie’s. “I’m getting ombré hair with Taylor and an oil treatment with Amy.”

“Same,” said her friend Kara–a dingo-light with deep-set brown eyes and sharp, uneven teeth. “Can you see if Lindsey has time to do my nails?”

Sadie checked her spreadsheet. “I can squeeze you in with Lindsey if Sondra skips her treatment with Amy.”

Did it make sense? No. Amy’s schedule had nothing to do with Lindsey’s. But someone had to stop Sondra from getting an oil treatment, or her already greasy hair would look wet.

“What do you say?” Sadie asked, desperate to speed things up. The check-in line was snaking into the hallway, and the reception area was standing room only. The beds, which Sadie converted into couches thanks to some creative pillow placement, were taken. Same with the four chairs she positioned under Amy’s heat lamp. Who knew the hot orange light, meant for warming cold-blooded reptiles, could cut nail-polish drying time in half? Lindsey, that’s who.

Sondra approved the change, and Kara thanked her with a suffocating hug.

“Once you agree to the terms, you’ll be all set.” Sadie folded a piece of paper and slid it across her desk. It read: Kara and Sondra do our laundry Monday, November 8. Then she handed them a pen. “Your signatures, please.”

They scribbled their names without hesitation, and Sadie filed the paper away in her desk drawer. “Next!”

Rachel stepped forward. An energetic monkey-light with a nasty nail-biting habit and the swollen cuticles to prove it. “One manicure, please.”

“What about a hot oil hand massage?” Sadie said, realizing that Sondra’s cancellation left Amy wide open. “Those cuticles look parched.” If Rachel’s bloody nubs came within five feet of Lindsey, she’d pack up her Caboodles kit and walk off the job.

“But I booked a manicure.”

“Yeah, but right now, you need a little less mani and a lot more cure. The oil treatment will be perfect.”

Rachel began nibbling on her thumbnail.

“Trust me.” Sadie slid a folded piece of paper across her desk, which Rachel promptly signed. Now that Sadie had someone to return the water glasses to the cafeteria after closing, she could dry-shampoo her hair, raid Lindsey’s closet for a flattering outfit, and get to Allendale without missing a second of the football game.

Not that Sadie liked football. She loathed it. Her father, a San Francisco superfan, always shouted at the TV when the 49ers played. Which, thanks to Sadie’s super-sensitive lion-light hearing, sounded like he was screaming into a megaphone aimed at a microphone.

It was Beak she looked forward to–a like-minded sports hater who also preferred books to balls. And she hadn’t seen him, or his distracting green eyes, since the dance, four weeks earlier. She listened to “Without Me” by Halsey several times a day to relive their magical night.

Beak’s warm breath against her neck while they swayed to the heart-pounding beat of the song. The grape bubble gum scent of his skin. How the twinkle lights in the gym hinted at the C-shaped scar on his cheek–a scar he got while breaking up a fight between his sister and an innocent girl at a coffee shop. How he shared his most guarded secret–that this sister was Lindsey–and Lindsey had no idea that Beak was her brother. . . .

Granted, Beak already knew that Miss Flora (his grandmother) and Professor Jo (his mother) had let Sadie in on the family secret. What choice did they have? Sadie figured it out. But Beak said he was relieved that he had someone to talk to about it and that that someone was Sadie. Which made the soda-pop love mist inside Sadie’s belly fizz even more.

Since then, they’d texted frequently and shared each other’s locations on Trkr. She loved seeing a picture of his face move around the app’s map as he roamed the Allendale campus, loved knowing where he was. Not because she was a stalker, but because it helped her feel connected to Beak when they were apart. There hadn’t been any more school-approved occasions for the Charm House girls to hang out with the Allendale boys until this football game. And Sadie couldn’t wait! She’d put in her earplugs, cozy up to Beak on the bleachers, share her popcorn, and captivate him with her new hair. Then, as if hearing her thoughts, he texted.

 

 

About Lisi Harrison:

Lisi Harrison
is a #1 New York Times bestselling author.

In 2003,
Lisi left her position as senior director of development at MTV Networks to
write The Clique series (2013-2011), which sold more than
eight million copies and was on the New York Times bestseller
list for more than two hundred weeks. Ten titles hit #1, and foreign rights
were sold in thirty-three countries. Alphas was a #1 New
York Times
 bestseller, and Monster High was an
instant bestseller. In 2013 Lisi released her YA series Pretenders and
her first adult novel, The Dirty Book Club in 2017. In
2021 Lisi launched two new middle-grade seriesGirl Stuff and The
Pack
. Currently, she is working on a middle-grade series with New
York Times 
bestselling author Daniel Kraus called Graveyard
Girls (9.6.22).

Lisi lives
in Laguna Beach, California, where she leads Drama Free Friend workshops
that teach kids, and their parents, how to have healthy, drama-free
friendships.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | TikTok | Goodreads | Amazon | BookBub

 

Giveaway Details:

1 winner will receive a finished copy of THE PACK #2: CLAW AND ORDER, US Only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tour Schedule:

Week One:

6/20/2022

The Momma Spot

Excerpt/IG Post

6/20/2022

BookHounds YA

Excerpt/IG Post

6/21/2022

Ya Books Central

Excerpt

6/21/2022

Lady Hawkeye

Excerpt/IG Post

6/22/2022

Kait Plus Books

Excerpt/IG Post/TikTok Post

6/22/2022

#BRVL Book
Review Virginia Lee Blog

Excerpt

6/23/2022

Two Chicks on
Books

Excerpt or Guest Post

6/23/2022

@jaimerockstarbooktours

IG Post

6/24/2022

meetcuteromancebooks

IG Review

6/24/2022

Little Red Reads

Review

Week Two:

6/27/2022

M reads often

IG Review

6/27/2022

Nerdophiles

Review

6/28/2022

@travelersguidetobooks

IG Review

6/28/2022

Struck by
Stories

Review

6/29/2022

The
Real World According To Sam

Review/IG Post

6/29/2022

@allyluvsbooksalatte

Review/IG Post

6/30/2022

onemoreexclamation

Review/IG Post

6/30/2022

beersbooksandboos

Review/IG Post/TikTok Post

7/1/2022

Two Points of
Interest

Review

7/1/2022

onemused

IG Post

 

Spotlight on The Starburst Effect (Kelly Oram), Plus Giveaway! ~US ONLY

June 20th, 2022 by

 Today we’re spotlighting The Starburst Effect by Kelly Oram!

Read on for more about Kelly, her book, and a giveaway!

 

 

 

Meet Kelly Oram

Kelly Oram wrote her first novel at age fifteen–a fan fiction about her favorite music group, The Backstreet Boys, for which her family and friends still tease her. She’s obsessed with reading, talks way too much, and likes to eat frosting by the spoonful. She lives outside of Phoenix, Arizona with her husband and four children.

Website * Twitter * Instagram * Facebook

 

 

About the Book: The Starburst Effect

Lily Rosemont lives next door to the biggest jerk in high school. Noah Trask has bullied Lily for years, and now he’s ruined her senior year by making her a target and turning the whole school against her. On top of that, her parents are getting divorced, and her world is falling apart around her.

After an accident on the football field leaves Noah with a traumatic brain injury, shattering his life as he knew it and leaving him with a whole heap of new disabilities, he’s no longer at the top of the high school food chain. In fact, he’s right down at the bottom with Lily.

In a cruel twist of fate, if Noah wants to graduate high school on time, he needs Lily’s help to complete a project—a book he wants to write about his experience. Lily’s not sure she can put aside her anger and hate for the boy who destroyed her senior year, but she desperately needs this project to get a scholarship to college.

It doesn’t take long for Lily to realize that the Noah who got injured is not the same Noah who survived the accident. He’s different. Way different. Lily slowly softens to this new Noah, but can she find it in her heart to forgive him? Can the two most unlikely people find friendship in adversity and help each other pick up the pieces of their broken lives?

~Excerpt from The Starburst Effect~

Noah falls to his bed, lies back, and puts his hands behind his head, looking up at the faded glow-in-the-dark stars that have probably been on his ceiling since he was a little boy. “I like music,” he admits. “Can’t really follow lyrics anymore, but…” He struggles for a moment, then sighs.

“But you can still enjoy the music?” I guess.

“Yeah.”

There’s a hint of melancholy in his voice that makes me sad. How many things in his life have been affected, or even taken from him, because of his injury? His inability to follow a fast conversation or stay focused for long periods of time must make him miss out on so much.

Wanting to take his mind off of whatever’s got him down, I cross the room and push his arm, forcing him to make room for me on the bed. He scoots over, and it feels natural to lie down beside him as if we’re just two friends hanging out for the millionth time. “What else do you do?” I ask, staring up at the stars with him. “What are your hobbies now, besides listening to awesome music?”

He opens his mouth, then shuts it again. His brow furrows. Whatever he wants to say, he can’t come up with the answer. “I can’t remember the name,” he says with a grunt of frustration.

He leans up and reaches over me to grab a TV remote off his nightstand. My breath catches. I don’t think he meant to practically lay on top of me, but my body seems to come alive from his nearness. And have I mentioned before how good he smells? I need to find out what cologne he uses and then spray my pillow with it or something.

Oblivious to the chaos he’s just put my body through, he sits back, placing his pillow up against the headboard. I sit up with him, attempting to get my heart rate back to normal, while he finds whatever it is he’s looking for. Once the TV and a Netflix menu comes up, things seem to click back in place for Noah. “There it is.” He finds what he’s looking for in his Continue Watching list.

I grin at the show he pulls up. “You watch Bob Ross?”

He acts offended by the teasing tone in my voice. “Bob Rock is cool.”

I hold my hands up. “I don’t disagree. I just didn’t figure you for the type.”

He shrugs. “I like art. Plus, he talks slow enough, and it’s not over…over…”

“Overstimulating?”

“Yeah. Doesn’t hurt my head.”

It makes sense. Bob Ross is very slow and soothing. I’m sure it’s one of the few shows he can follow fairly well. He clicks on an episode and leaves the show on mute. For a minute, we watch Bob Ross paint the beginnings of a mountain landscape while The Mad Hatters jam out softly in the room. It’s nice. “You ever painted along with him?” I ask, pointing at the screen. “I’ve always wanted to try it. I bet you could follow along. Or at least you could pause and rewind as much as you needed.”

His eyebrows climb his forehead. He watches the screen, and after a few seconds, nods his head. “Maybe.”

“Could be fun.”

He perks up the tiniest bit, and there’s a touch of excitement in his voice when he says, “Let’s tire it. My mom will get us the…the…” He mimes painting. “She always wants me to try new things.”

“Sounds good. You, me, and Bob Ross.”

Noah nudges my shoulder with his. “Next weekend. It’s a date.”

I smile to myself. Painting with Noah sounds fun. I could play it off as a “friends” thing, but something stops me. Taking a breath, I force myself to take a chance on something that might be strange but could also be amazing. “It’s a date,” I agree.

 

Book’s Title: The Starburst Effect

Author/Illustrator: Kelly Oram

Release Date:  June 20, 2022

Publisher: Bluefields Publishing

ISBN-13: 978-1-7341812-4-1

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Age Range: 12 and up

 

 

 

*GIVEAWAY DETAILS* 

 

 One Winner will receive a Kelly Oram Starter Pack. Books: Signed copies of Cinder & Ella and Girl at Heart  Swag: postcard, magnet, keychain, bookmark

Cinder & Ella Summary:

It’s been almost a year since eighteen-year-old Ella Rodriguez was in a car accident that left her crippled, scarred, and without a mother. After a very difficult recovery, she’s been uprooted across the country and forced into the custody of a father that abandoned her when she was a young child. If Ella wants to escape her father’s home and her awful new stepfamily, she must convince her doctors that she’s capable, both physically and emotionally, of living on her own. The problem is, she’s not ready yet. The only way she can think of to start healing is by reconnecting with the one person left in the world who’s ever meant anything to her—her anonymous Internet best friend, Cinder.

Hollywood sensation Brian Oliver has a reputation for being trouble. There’s major buzz around his performance in his upcoming film The Druid Prince, but his management team says he won’t make the transition from teen heartthrob to serious A-list actor unless he can prove he’s left his wild days behind and become a mature adult. In order to douse the flames on Brian’s bad-boy reputation, his management stages a fake engagement for him to his co-star Kaylee. Brian isn’t thrilled with the arrangement—or his fake fiancée—but decides he’ll suffer through it if it means he’ll get an Oscar nomination. Then a surprise email from an old Internet friend changes everything.

Girl at Heart Summary:

As the daughter of a successful Major League pitcher, Charlie Hastings has baseball in her blood. Unfortunately, being the only girl on her high school baseball team, Charlie has always been just one of the guys.

When her best friend, and secret love of her life, asks another girl to the prom, Charlie is devastated. She’s tired of being overlooked by boys because she’s not like other girls. Suffering a massive identity crisis, she decides to hang up her cleats and finally learn how to be a girl.

But with only two weeks until the state championships, the Roosevelt High Ravens can’t afford to lose their star catcher. Team captain Jace King makes her a deal: Don’t quit the team, and he’ll help her become the girl she’s so desperate to be. After all, he’s got four sisters, one of whom happens to be a cheerleader. He knows a thing or two about girls. (And if he can win her heart in the process, all the better.)

From the bestselling young adult author of Cinder & Ella, V is for Virgin, and the Avery Shaw Experiment comes a new sweet romance that’s sure to leave you with all the feels! Girl at Heart is a clean and wholesome sports romance that will leave you with warm fuzzies and an itch to watch a baseball game.

 

*Click the Rafflecopter link below to enter the giveaway*

 

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Rockstar Tours: The Indigo (Heather Siegel), Excerpt & Giveaway! ~US Only

June 20th, 2022 by

I am thrilled to be hosting a spot
on the THE INDIGO by Heather Siegel Blog Tour hosted by 
Rockstar Book Tours. Check out
my post and make sure to enter the giveaway!

 

About The Book:

Title: THE
INDIGO

Author: Heather Siegel

Pub. Date: June 1, 2022

Publisher: Stone Tiger Books

Formats: Paperback, eBook

Pages: 250

Find it: GoodreadsAmazon, Kindle

Read for FREE with a Kindle Unlimited membership!

Whatever you do – stay connected

Jett Hart, a 16-year-old girl from
New Jersey, refuses to accept the diagnosis that her mother is brain-dead. Yes,
Mom’s long-comatose body seems like an empty shell. But there was that
split-second, weird time Jett swears she lifted out from her own body and
travelled to an indigo-colored, starry space, where she felt Mom’s presence.  

Now, as Jett’s caretaking Aunt threatens to pull Mom’s life support, Jett must
find this mysterious indigo place again and return her mother to her body
before it’s too late. The bad news is that only her schoolmate Farold — who
may or may not give off a more-than-friends vibe — believes she can do this.
The good news is that he’s an amateur quantum physicist in training and has
some ideas about how to help Jett get back “up there.” 

Even if Jett manages to find Mom in the “indigo,” can she bring her
back to her body? While also staying connected to her own “empty shell” below?
And, what if . . . someone is trying to stop her?

A teen thriller offering astral projection cosmology, life cords, parallel
universes, and wormholes, THE INDIGO is a wild trip through one person’s
consciousness “above,” her interconnected reality “below,”
and the psychological and potentially fatal dangers of being disconnected from
both.

 

Reviews:

“Out of
this world! A fast-paced magical trip across the stars, Jett and Farold will
whisk you away to The Indigo in search of answers and leave you gasping for air
time and time again. Siegel creates a world you both fear and long for. A must
read for fans of Flatliners and Stranger Things. 
– Rajdeep
Paulus, award-winning author of the SWIMMING THROUGH CLOUDS TRILOGY


“The thing with The Indigo is the writing. It’s subtle, sweet and doesn’t
skirt around the subjects of grief and loss. It’s not afraid to talk about a
struggling family, emotionally, financially, and with each other’s
relationships. What Siegel has created here is a beautiful book, filled with
believable and relatable characters who have real feelings…. Siegel has
written a triumph.”- Sally Altass,REEDSY 

“Wow! It has been a while since I have enjoyed a book as much as I
relished The Indigo. The concepts are wonderfully fresh and unique and Heather
Siegel is a remarkable writer. If you swap dreams for astral projection and
throw in a tad of fantasy and a bit more drama, then this book would be like
the movie Inception, but for young adults. It is an amazing book and well
written. I think it could be made into a phenomenal film or even a series of
films. I was blown away and reading it has converted me into a huge fan. There
are a lot more enthralling elements in the plot that I can’t give away. This is
an author to look out for.”– Michaela Gordoni, READERS’ FAVORITE 

“A fascinating story involving portals, quantum physics, multiverses, and
astral projection, The Indigo is bound to entice fans of the paranormal genre.
Author Heather Siegel tells a moving tale about a tenacious teenager who
refuses to let go of her mother and gives her all to bring her mother back to
life. The plot takes unexpected twists and turns that you never see coming.
Jett is a likable protagonist you find easy to root for. Her devotion to her
mother is not only admirable but also very relatable. I especially enjoyed her
burgeoning romance with Farold, and it was one of my favorite aspects of the
book. Recommended to young adult readers who love fantasy or paranormal
stories.”– Pikasho Deka, READERS’ FAVORITE

~Excerpt~

Excerpt:

  1. Quantum Meeting

Day 787. I sponge Mom’s stringy arms and pronate her elbows. Suction saliva from her white gums, careful not to disturb the psst-psst of the breathing tube. I attach cotton-ball-size muscle-stimulation pads, all forty of them, to her biceps and triceps, her deltoids and extensors, her flexors and hamstrings. As the pads pulse against muscle atrophy, I crayon Chapstick on her lips, rub cream down her pointed nose and waxen cheek skin, brush her dark hair splayed over the starched pillow. I leave the waste bags for the nurses but check the connections out of habit — the tubes to the catheter and colostomy bag, the one to her nutrients. Then I sit, holding her hand, pretending to talk to her for the sake of passersby, even though I know she’s not listening. Not even in the room.

Her body is an empty vessel. A coat on a hanger waiting for her arms to slip in. A mollusk on the beach, abandoned by its host. An empty carton of milk I’m here to make sure they don’t throw out.

Because when I find her — and bring her back — she will need her container.

They’ve told me it’s dangerous to think this way. Psychologically damaging, Aunt Margaret has claimed. A byproduct of grief, the therapists have said. Denial is a natural defense mechanism, Dr. Horn has counseled. “But we can’t ignore the reality of what the scans tell us.”

He means the X-rays of Mom’s gray folded matter. The regions of her brain that still incite spontaneous reflexes — causing her arm to jerk here, her leg to twitch there. “All seemingly normal manifestations of brainstem function,” he’s told me repeatedly. “But should not be confused with actual brainstem function. Without which she has little chance of waking up.”

I can’t fault him for thinking this way. The guy’s a neurologist — his business is brains.

But I know there has to be more to us than our bodies and brains.

Call it what you want — a consciousness, a soul, a spirit, a light being. It’s the thing countless comatose patients swear gave them the ability to live whole other lives while on respirators. The thing that philosophers and spiritualists spent their lives writing about. The thing that makes us who we are. And maybe even fuels the brainstem.

And Mom’s brainstem went missing two years ago the moment she crashed her car.

 

An accident, Aunt Margaret had said on the phone. Black ice. A telephone pole. Coming to pick up you up in five. . . .

I flew down the stairs of our apartment and rushed into intensive care, still in my red plaid pajama bottoms, dried toothpaste stuck to my cheek. Mom lay behind a wall of glass, and I heard fragments: Her chest had banged into the steering wheel. Glass shards had lodged in her cheeks. She’s lucky to have made it out alive.

But define “alive.”

For a week, I watched machines automate her breathing, feed her, monitor her. I felt numbed, stunned, dazed. Most of all, empty. Like something in my chest cavity had gone missing, its hollowness threatening to suck my heart and lungs deeper inward.

I thought it was coming from me.

Then one night, following Dr. Horn’s delivery of yet another brain spiel — this one replete with pictures of axon and dendrites that looked like tree branches — they let us through the glass wall.

I plunked into the pink pleather chair and held Mom’s limp hand in mine; ran my thumb over her beige polish, chipped from washing beer glasses at Sharkie’s Bar and Grill. The emptiness opened like a black hole, and I yearned for my best-friend sister-like Mom, just 17 years older than me. The woman who wore my jeans and tried on my life, from basketball tryouts to friendship blips. The woman who let me inhabit her dreams of traveling the world.

“How much tragedy can one family take?” Grandma Eloise was saying. “First, I lose one daughter, and now another?”

“I know, Mom, I know.” Aunt Margaret sniffled.

They were speaking of Grandma Eloise’s oldest daughter, who had died as a teenager — Mom’s oldest sister. And I had sat there, unsure of what to say. Not only because there seemed to be some kind of dark cloud hanging over us, but because they barely noticed I was in the room.

So, when they decided to go to the cafeteria, I said, “I’ll stay here, then.”

Aunt Margaret turned, her yellow, roller-set waves bouncing like in a retro TV commercial. “Jett, I’m sorry. Did you want to come with us?”

“It’s OK. I’m good,” I said, because I knew they were just trying to salve their own pain, even though you couldn’t have paid me a million dollars to eat a bite of food in that moment.

So off they went, leaving me and Mom and my emptiness, and because everything felt so empty, I climbed into bed with Mom, spooned to her side — admittedly feeling sorry for myself in this new orphaned state — and blubbered away into her bony shoulder.

Her respirator lulled me into a sleepy state, and my mind drifted, thinking about her running off as a teenager at 17 — just a year older than me now — to marry a guy outside the enclave of this small town. Then that got me thinking about my dad, the man I barely got to know, but whose hands for some reason I could see peeking out from his electrician’s coveralls: coppery skin freckled like mine with wispy red hair, as he meticulously spliced the wire of a lamp cord. Cut before the damage. Splice by twisting. See his hand twisting a lightbulb in, electricity zipping through its filament. We can travel as fast as this . . . in our sleep. . . . We can meet in Hawaii, where the sand is black, and the rocks are as large as grapefruits.

I must have drifted off then, Mom’s empty container against mine, the respirator wheezing rhythmically, everything ha­­zy and meshing and sucking me under.

Just think of where you want to go, my dad said, still coming to me in snapshots. His freckled hands on a tabletop. Suntanned face. Fiery hair. A woman beside him laid down cards splattered with ink. Palm trees swayed outside, and contentment purred in my chest like a vibration.

Deeper and deeper I drifted under, as darkness surrounded my eyelids and tunneled around me, churning into a black liquid — the way dreams work — until it ended in a circle of purple-blue light large enough to fit through.

I poked my head through and found the air was watery, indigo-colored, and pocked with millions of crystalline white stars. I wanted to climb through the hole and swim out into the starry space. But when I looked up, I saw rectangles hanging in the sky.

They were outlined in what looked like glitter — the kind I recognized from my childhood drawings, when I’d outlined geometric shapes with glue and glitter and blown the excess off. And inside were movielike images:

Palm trees in one.

The stairwell to Mom’s and my old apartment in the other.

Where do you want to go? My father’s voice sounded again, only this time my chest tightened and pulled, as though there was a rope attached to the center, and I suddenly got scared feeling . . . wondering . . . knowing. . . .

This wasn’t a dream.

I was somewhere outside of myself.

Definitely not in my body.

And Mom . . . she wasn’t in bed at the hospital. She was behind that rectangle . . . that door.

I could sense her, alert and awake, black hair not splayed on a pillow, but tucked behind her ears and parted down the middle, revealing a white line of scalp; cheeks not waxen and pale, but flushed from moving around the kitchen . . . pulling me to her.

But because it all felt so real, and because I didn’t know what would happen if I did dive through that hole, I jerked my head back. And the next thing I knew, I was yanked backwards and my whole body stung as though I were a human rubber band snapping back.

Just in time to find Aunt Margaret back from the cafeteria, shaking my shoulders.

“Jett, Jett, wake up,” she called.

“Should I call someone?” Grandma Eloise asked.

My eyes popped open, and they gasped.

“You scared us, you were in such a deep sleep,” Aunt Margaret scolded. “You’re not supposed to be in bed with her.”

“I went to find her,” I tried to explain. “Mom isn’t here. . . .”

“What? Nonsense.” Aunt Margaret said. “You were having a bad dream.”

“Honey, we are all under tremendous stress,” Grandma Eloise said.

“But there are doorways up there,” I insisted. “We have to find her and bring her back. . . . Look, there’s no one inside.”

“Honey, we don’t know what you are saying,” Grandma Eloise said.

“Jett, this is hard enough on all of us.” Aunt Margaret’s tone steeled.

My mistake, I’ve come to realize, was continuing to insist, back at Aunt Margaret’s, and for months afterward, describing all I could remember, and lugging home research and stories from the library about people leaving their bodies: about the idea that a person could ostensibly be in two separate places at once.

“That is absolutely enough. I will not have that kind of nonsense talk in my house,” Aunt Margaret snapped finally, and the next thing I knew I was seeing Dr. Karr, a grief counselor, and being asked to review more charts from Dr. Horn. And when a year later, I still wouldn’t relent about the purple hole and the doorway to Mom, and the fact that anyone can tell she is simply not in this room, the grief counselor suggested medications, and eventually whispered to Aunt Margaret terms like “grief delusions” and “detached from reality.” This led me to understand two things:

Not only can I not convince people to open their minds, as a minor in the State of New Jersey, 10 minutes from the state’s largest psych ward, I need to watch it, or I might never find Mom.

Excerpt #2

Quantum Club Meeting. 2:30. Cafeteria.

“I didn’t know the school had a Quantum Club,” says a girl passing by. Popular. A junior, in black Lululemon leggings.

“What the hell’s ‘quantum’?” a familiar voice says. “Oh . . . that explains it.” I turn to see my cousin Meghan looking in my direction. Hair highlighted blond. Glossy pink lips. We are nearly the same age, and worlds apart.

“Don’t know and don’t care,” a beefy senior guy says. “Let’s go eat.”

“Oh, Matty, all you care about is food.” Meghan giggles as they continue walking.

Truthfully, I don’t know what quantum is either, but a quick Google search gives me the answer:

The study of physics that allows for particles to be in two states at the same time.

“That’s weird,” I say out loud to no one.

I head for the cafeteria, intrigued…

There are three people seated in the sea-foam-green cabbage-smelling room. No surprise Mickey Mizner and Brian Leonard are two of them.

“My problem is I’ve got everything prepped for ampage past 27MHz,” Mickey says, blowing dark bangs off square-framed glasses. “I just need to hit ionosphere at the right angle—” He taps a black box on the table, the size of a breadbox, with knobs and buttons. From here, I make out the words Galaxy Torchlighter 825.

“—Sweet, isn’t she?”

“Sweet and illegal to jack up,” Brian replies.

The new guy swigs from an Orangina and scribbles in his notebook, his white braided bracelets scratching against the Formica tabletop. He’s wearing an MIT sweatshirt, and peeking out from the neckline is a black rope necklace. At the ends of his hair, gold beads catch the fluorescent light.

“It’s not a bad start,” he says, looking up and taking a swig of orange soda. “But can you get someone on the other end of the world to receive the signal? The antipode must be, what, Australia?”

“That’s what I told you,” Brian says. He’s wearing a uniform from the ice cream store Sunset Scoops: a brown wavy smock made to resemble dripping hot fudge, and a maraschino cherry hat.

“Wait, the what is Australia?” Mickey asks.

“It means ‘opposite,’ ” I say, reaching the table. “Geographically, right?”

The new guy grins at me, his eyes twinkling with approval. And I’m not going to lie: I can’t help but grin back. I slide into the end seat.

“Farold,” he says.

“Jett.”

“Well, now that we got that out of the way,” Brian cuts in. “I’m thinking Electromagnetic Induction. The hypothesis is that a current can create a magnetic field.”

“Also not bad.” Farold scribbles again and glances up. “But you’d have to check if it’s already been done.” He has a singsong quality to his words. I like the way “realize” is “real’izze.”

Mickey shoulders Brian. “That’s what I told you.” He turns to Farold. “Anyway, if I find someone across the world, in an antipode” — he glances to me — “think it’s worth seeing if my radio’s skip is capable?”

Brian shoves back. “Mine may be done, but there’s nothing yet on what can and cannot escape the said magnetic field. . . .”

“They’re both solid starts.” Farold draws his fist to rest beneath his sculpted jaw line, looking suddenly like the art room’s knockoff sculpture of Michelangelo’s “The Thinker.” “But since this is going to be a competition for MIT, the best science institution in the country, we’ll have to shoot beyond the rudimentary. . . . Any other ideas?”

Three faces turn to me. One cute as hell. But I’m here to listen. Besides, I can’t take the rejection again.

“Every idea has merit,” Farold says.

“He’s dope, Jett,” Mickey says, which coming from him sounds anything but dope.

“If she doesn’t have any ideas . . . ” Brian says.

“I don’t . . . I mean, I thought . . . I don’t know, maybe we were going to talk about quantum physics or whatever, not enter a competition.”

“You study quantum physics?” Farold asks.

“No . . . but it sounds interesting.”

“Which part?”

I could feel defensive, but there’s something about the way he asks, earnestly, and the way he looks at me, so open and curious. “I . . . guess . . . I liked what your flier said. It made me think. Wonder, really. Something I’ve been thinking about. The idea of things being in two separate places at the same time?”

He smiles again, right through me, sending a tingle along my neck. “I’m actually working on something that poses that exact question. But it’s hard to prove. I mean, so far, no one has . . . supported it.”

“I hear that.”

“I had a feeling you might.”

“How would you have a feeling about that?”

“Your hesitation.” Our eyes affix. Is it my imagination or is there something palpable between us?

“Tell me your idea,” he says.

“Tell me yours.”

“You guys know we’re in the room, right?” Brian says.

Farold turns to him. “Two particles in separate boxes.”

“Following,” Mickey says.

He waves his hand, drawing us all in. “It’s proven they can communicate with one another and influence each other’s physical spin. Well, I propose they relate to one another in a nonscientific way. In a way we can’t really yet name. That they can speak to one another . . . by sensing one another.”

His eyes meet mine, alight, full of possibility. “Your turn.”

And like that, I find myself blurting the story I promised I’d stop telling people:

“There was an accident. . . . I could tell my mother wasn’t there. . . . And then this thing happened at the hospital. . . . But I’ve tried everything and can’t get back. . . .”

“What have you tried?” Farold asks.

“You name it. Re-creating the events. Dreaming and setting an alarm. I’ve tried something called the rope technique, and the ladder technique. Also, rolling out, driving out, rotating, and yo-yo’ing, which is basically trying to climb, drive, or shimmy out of my body. I’ve tried the point-shift method and the picture technique, in which I’m supposed to envision myself hovering at the ceiling, looking down at my bed. I’ve even sent away for this—”

I pluck the envelope from my bag and tear it open.

That’s when Mickey and Brian call it a day.

“Next Thursday?” Mickey asks, gathering his CB radio.

“Yeah, I gotta split too,” Brian adds. “You’re awesome, man. . . . Uh, good luck, Jett.” Brian tips his ice cream cone hat and exits the cafeteria, leaving me alone with Farold, my heart sinking at the sight of the DVD on the table between us.

It’s not the cheesy clouds against sky on the circular sticker adhered to the DVD that rushes blood to my cheeks, but the airbrushed, ethereal angel flying through those clouds.

At $39.99, this cost me more than four hours of librarian work. Why did I think this was a good idea to share — or buy?

Farold slides the disc into his laptop, turning the device for both of us to see. Even the digital quality is pathetic. Two women wearing flowing garb and seeming to float on a cloud discuss how they came to learn under the tutelage of the Dr. Reflexology guy, the art of soul travel by aligning their chakras — what they can help me do for the next hour. Though if I want to learn the nine secrets to launching myself, I will need to send away for the DVD package. For a mere $69.99 more.

I want to crawl under the table.

“I didn’t know it would be this—”

“—cheapjack.”

“What’s that?”

“It’s what we say in Trinidad. Or in English, ‘cringe-y.’ ”

And that’s my cue.

I stand, slinging my backpack on, and extend my palm for the DVD, even knowing as pathetic as it is, I am going to watch it — a thought that makes my cheeks even hotter. Because that’s how desperate I’ve become, and I hate myself for it. “Anyway . . . if you can just keep everything I said earlier to yourself.”

He pops out the DVD and walks around the table to stand before me, a foot taller. “What happens in Quantum Club stays in Quantum Club.” He edges close enough for me to smell a delicious vanilla scent wafting from his sweatshirt, to feel those tingles again, and to see in his pupils gold flecks that look like stars.

“Could be a multiverse, you know. That Indigo place?” His hand grazes my wrist as he places the plastic disc back in my palm. “Alternate realities are always taking place. The name for it in quantum mechanics is the Many Interacting Worlds.”

Prickles down my neck. “Are you saying . . . you believe me?”

“There are no absolute proofs in quantum theory. It’s about what we can measure, and to what precision.” He seems to have an idea, darts back to his notebook, and scribbles.

“We’re going to need to know what’s been documented on the theory so far, and under what conditions.” More scribbling. “Oh, and what laws govern these . . . phenomena. So . . .  maybe that’s not a total waste?” He nods to the DVD.

I place it on the table, suppressing tears, and take a seat.

 

 

About Heather Siegel:

Heather Siegel is the author of THE KING & THE QUIRKY, and OUT FROM THE UNDERWORLD.
She teaches academic and creative writing, holds an MFA from The New School
University, and lives with her family in Southern Florida.

Sign
up for Heather’s newsletter!

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | TikTok | Goodreads | Amazon | BookBub

 

 

 

 

 

Giveaway Details:

1 winner will receive a finished copy of THE INDIGO, US Only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tour Schedule:

Week One:

6/20/2022

The Momma Spot

Excerpt/IG Post

6/20/2022

Ya
Books Central

Excerpt

6/21/2022

#BRVL Book Review Virginia Lee Blog

Excerpt

6/21/2022

BookHounds YA

Excerpt/IG Post

6/22/2022

Book Sniffers Anonymous

Excerpt/IG Post

6/22/2022

Two Chicks on Books

Excerpt

6/23/2022

@jaimerockstarbooktours

IG Post

6/23/2022

Fire
and Ice

Review

6/24/2022

Books a Plenty Book Reviews

Review

6/24/2022

@allyluvsbooksalatte

IG Post

Week Two:

6/27/2022

@just_another_mother_with_books

IG Post

6/27/2022

Lady Hawkeye

Excerpt/IG Post

6/28/2022

modefii

IG Review

6/28/2022

Sadie’s
Spotlight

Excerpt/IG Post

6/29/2022

GryffindorBookishNerd

IG Review

6/29/2022

Living in a Bookworld

Review/IG Post

6/30/2022

TakeALookAtMyBookshelf

IG Review

6/30/2022

Nerdophiles

Review

7/1/2022

Rajiv’s
Reviews

Review/IG Post

7/1/2022

More Books Please blog

Review/IG Post

 

You are here: Rockstar Tours: The Indigo (Heather Siegel), Excerpt & Giveaway! ~US Only