SNEAK-A-PEEK: Nora and Kettle by Lauren Nicolle Taylor + Giveaway!!


Nora & Kettle

Lauren Nicolle Taylor

Published February 29th 2016 by Clean Teen Publishing

YA > Historical Fiction | Retelling

Purchase links: Amazon | BN  | itunes | Kobo



“What if Peter Pan was a homeless kid just trying to survive, and Wendy flew away for a really good reason?”

Seventeen-year-old Kettle has had his share of adversity. As an orphaned Japanese American struggling to make a life in the aftermath of an event in history not often referred to the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II and the removal of children from orphanages for having “one drop of Japanese blood in them” things are finally looking up. He has his hideout in an abandoned subway tunnel, a job, and his gang of Lost Boys.

Desperate to run away, the world outside her oppressive brownstone calls to naive, eighteen-year-old Nora the privileged daughter of a controlling and violent civil rights lawyer who is building a compensation case for the interned Japanese Americans. But she is trapped, enduring abuse to protect her younger sister Frankie and wishing on the stars every night for things to change.

For months, they’ve lived side by side, their paths crossing yet never meeting. But when Nora is nearly killed and her sister taken away, their worlds collide as Kettle, grief stricken at the loss of a friend, angrily pulls Nora from her window.

In her honeyed eyes, Kettle sees sadness and suffering. In his, Nora sees the chance to take to the window and fly away.

Set in 1953, Nora & Kettle explores the collision of two teenagers facing extraordinary hardship. Their meeting is inevitable, devastating, and ultimately healing. Their stories, “a collection of events, are each on their own harmless. But together, one after the other, they change the world.””



[tour schedule



I snort, push my sleeves up, and lean back on my forearms. She watches me, her eyes on my bare skin, and I wonder what she’s thinking. “Dances. Really? What’s to miss?” My experience with dances was one forced event in the camps where we watched the grownups awkwardly shift in lines to scratchy music. It didn’t look very enjoyable.

She releases the button she’s been playing with and smirks. “Says someone who’s clearly never been to one.”

“How do you know that?” I say, raising an eyebrow and touching my chest, mock offended.

She laughs. It’s starlight in a jar. I blink slowly. “Oh, I can tell just by looking at you, the way you move. You,” she says, pointing at me accusingly. “Can’t dance.”

The candlelight twinkles like it’s chuckling at me. “I can dance,” I say, not sure why I’m lying to defend myself. I’ve never danced in my life.

She stands up and beckons me with her finger, and I think there’s something wrong with my heart. It’s hurting… but the pain feels good.

She looks like a pirate’s cabin boy, shirt billowing around her small waist, ill-fitting pants rolled over at her hips to stop them from falling down. She points her bare foot at me. “Prove it!”


I cough and stand nervously. I don’t know what to do with my hands, so I put them behind my back. She giggles. Touches me. Runs her fingers lightly down my arms until she finds my hands. She grasps my wrists and I gulp as she places one on the small dip between her hips and her ribs, extending the other out like the bow of a boat. Her hand in mine.

I follow her small steps and we wind in circles, avoiding the clumps of debris, painting patterns in the dust.

I stare at my socks and her narrow bare feet, listening to the swish of them across the dirt. “You know, this is pretty weird without music,” I mutter, looking up for a moment and suddenly losing my balance.

She exhales and brings us back to equilibrium. She starts humming softly. It’s a song I’ve heard before, but I pretend it’s the first time. Her voice is sweet, cracked and croaky, but in tune as she gazes at the ground and leads us up and down the back of the tunnel.

This moment is killing me. I don’t want it, but I do. Because I know it won’t be enough and it’s all I’ll get.

The end of the song is coming. It rises and rises and then softly peters out. We look at each other, understanding that something is changing between us, and we have to decide whether to let it. Please, let it.

She sings the last few bars. “And if you sing this melody, you’ll be pretending just like me. The world is mine. It can be yours, my friend. So why don’t you pretend?”

Her voice is like the dust of a comet’s tail. Full of a thousand things I don’t understand but want to.

She stops and starts to step away. She’s so fragile. Not on the outside. On the outside, her body is strong, tougher than it should have to be. It’s inside that’s very breakable. I’m scared to touch her, but I don’t want to avoid touching her because of what she’s been through. That seems worse.

So I do it, because I want to and I don’t think she doesn’t want me to. Her breath catches as I pull her closer. I just want to press my cheek to hers, feel her skin against mine. There is no music, just the rhythm of two barely functioning hearts trying to reach each other through miles of scar tissue.

She presses her ear to my chest and listens, then she pulls back to meet my eyes, her expression a mixture of confusion and comfort. She breathes out, her lips not wanting to close but not wanting to speak. She settles on a nervous smile and puts her arms around my neck. I inhale and look up at the ceiling, counting the stars I know are up there somewhere, and then rest my cheek in her hair.

I don’t know how she is here. I don’t know when she’ll disappear.

We sway back and forth, and it feels like we might break. That we will break if we step apart from each other.

I can’t let her go.

I think I love dancing.







Twitter | Website  | Facebook

Lauren Nicolle Taylor lives in the lush Adelaide Hills. The daughter of a Malaysian nuclear physicist and an Australian scientist, she was expected to follow a science career path, attending Adelaide University and completing a Health Science degree with Honours in obstetrics and gynaecology.

She then worked in health research for a short time before having her first child. Due to their extensive health issues, Lauren spent her twenties as a full-time mother/carer to her three children. When her family life settled down, she turned to writing.

She is a 2014 Kindle Book Awards Semi-finalist and a USA Best Book Awards Finalist.



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What Do Readers Say About The Urban Boys by K.N. Smith + Giveaway!!


The Urban Boys: Discovery of the Five Senses

K.N. Smith

Published September 29th 2015 by Two Petals Publishing

YA/NA > Horror


Purchase links: Amazon | BN | iTunes



The Urban Boys: Discovery of the Five Senses is an action-adventure story about five teen boys who are mysteriously exposed to a foreign energy source that gives them extremely heightened senses. Sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell become hypersensitive gifts that forever change the world. The story offers young and mature readers central themes of loyalty, responsibility, honesty, fear, and triumph, which become artfully integrated with cinematic-level action and high drama. The story twists, turns, and grinds through elements of paranormal and action-adventure in a diverse, exciting, edge-of-your-seat narrative.

Overview: The story’s small town of Danville Heights, a carefully crafted universe, contrasts with the dark, gloomy town of Sandry Lake, where evil abounds. Upon the boys’ mysterious incident with the energy source, they’re instinctively called to Sandry Lake to root out evil. Their senses guide them each time. However, secrecy about their mission, furious battles with evil thugs, extreme fatigue, and stress and pressure soon overwhelm the boys, but they must find a way to embrace their fate. A lurking, Dark Stranger seems to know their plight, and a strikingly beautiful, fearless girl lends way to heightened confusion. Shocking details about these two characters, and the evil antagonist, the dreaded Druth, twist and grind the story even further. Despite tension and fierce battles, will the boys hold it together long enough to fulfill their destiny? Intriguing, intelligent, and full of action, The Urban Boys: Discovery of the Five Senses offers a memorable, emotion-packed, thrilling ride for young and mature readers alike!1

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The Urban Boys is wonderful book in which K.N. Smith sweeps the reader away into each of the characters with their exceptional abilities. She also has the strong literary skills to keep the reader totally engaged throughout the entire story, and that is no small feat considering the various multi layered plotlines, diverse set of characters, and wildly fluctuating events. I am ready for the next one!” (5 stars) Claire Middleton, Indie Book Reviewers


“The Urban Boys by K.N. Smith is the most entertaining, deep, and interesting book I have read in a very long time! From the moment I picked it up and read the first page I was hooked, as the characters are so real and loveable and the descriptions are so vivid and full of life, it is impossible to put down. The author has painted a picture of extraordinary lives of these young men which at times is very moving and action packed and done with remarkable attention to detail. It is certainly a story that will stay with me for a long time and I hope I don’t have to wait too long for the next one in the series to become available.” (5 stars) J. Thackery, Indie Book Reviewers



14431555 (1)Twitter 
| Facebook | Website 

K.N. Smith is an American author and passionate advocate of childhood and family literacy programs throughout the world. She continues to inspire students of all ages to reach their highest potential in their literary and educational pursuits. Her creative, lyrical flair sweeps across pages that twist, turn, and grind through elements of paranormal and action-adventure in diverse, exciting, edge-of-your-seat narratives. K.N. Smith has over twenty years’ experience in writing, communications, and creative design. She lives with her family in California.


1 Winner will get a $15.00 iTunes gift card | 2 Winners will each receive a signed copy of THE URBAN BOYS | 20 Winners will get eCopies of THE URBAN BOYS | Must be 13+ to enter | Ships in US Only



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ARC REVIEW: Paper Planes Back Home by Tara Frejas

Paper Planes Back Home
Tara Frejas
Published on February 21, 2015
YA/NA/A > Contemporary 

4 ★★★★

Purchase links:
Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Apple iBooks


When Gianna wakes up on a cloud, she is disoriented yet fascinated. She thinks she’s only dreaming until she gets a storm of paper planes—”They’re thoughts of people who remember,” a man on another cloud tells her—each pleading for her not to leave. The man tells her these planes are the key to get out of there, and while she thinks it’s hard to believe, she decides everything is worth trying if it meant finding her way back home.
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Dear Book,



“The stronger the love, the stronger the plane,”

I can’t seem to find the words that describes my feelings towards Paper Planes Back Home. All I know is my jaw dropped, my heart is full of FEELS and everything is just beautiful! 

Just like I usually do, I went into reading PPBH without knowing anything about it. And that is not the way to go folks! I was really lost and for the first two chapters, I was confused. I think it was also because the book was not the kind that only focuses in two main characters. You might think that its a bad thing (Just like what I thought at first) but noooooo. Far from it. Tara Frejas did everything meticulously. The characterization was done very well. Its amazing how she can make the readers feel the depth of her characters and how she can make her character’s emotions roll off through the pages easily.

The whole plot of the book is not something I’ve encountered before. It was really unique and one of a kind. And that’s why I love the book even more. It was new and refreshing and the whole story will make you realize some things that will affect how you run your life.

The characters are all great. Nothing cliché and all were concrete characters that you will definitely be fond of. The realness is there and the genuineness of each one can be felt. It was a short book… but the impact was huge.

Paper Planes Back Home is the book that I’ve been waiting for from a Filipino author. It makes me proud and inspired. The book was full of emotions and it was poignant. I highly recommend Paper Planes Back Home for readers who are looking for a book that will touch every part of their hearts. It’s romantic, hopeful and not a book I’ll be forgetting soon. A must read!!







Website | Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook


Tara Frejas is a cloud-walker who needs caffeine to fuel her travels. By day, she works in project management and events, and she writes down her daydreams at night. She began publishing fiction for public consumption in 2004, posting her pieces on various online channels like fan forums and Blogspot, eventually exploring other avenues like Livejournal, Soomp!, Tumblr, and most recently, Wattpad.

Aside from her obvious love affair with words and persistent muses, Tara is very passionate about being caffeinated, musical theatre, certain genres of music, dancing, dogs, good food, and romancing Norae, her ukelele. She owns a 6-month-old male bunny named Max who sometimes tries to nibble on her writing notes.

Paper Planes Back Home is her first novel.





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SNEAK-A-PEEK: This Montrous Thing by Mackenzie Lee + Giveaway!!

This Monstrous Thing
Mackenzi Lee
Expected publication: September 22nd 2015 by Katherine Tegen Books
YA > SciFi | Steampunk

Purchase links:
AmazonBN | TBD | Kobo


In 1818 Geneva, men built with clockwork parts live hidden away from society, cared for only by illegal mechanics called Shadow Boys. Two years ago, Shadow Boy Alasdair Finch’s life shattered to bits.
His brother, Oliver—dead.
His sweetheart, Mary—gone.
His chance to break free of Geneva—lost.
Heart-broken and desperate, Alasdair does the unthinkable: He brings Oliver back from the dead.
But putting back together a broken life is more difficult than mending bones and adding clockwork pieces. Oliver returns more monster than man, and Alasdair’s horror further damages the already troubled relationship.
Then comes the publication of Frankenstein and the city intensifies its search for Shadow Boys, aiming to discover the real life doctor and his monster. Alasdair finds refuge with his idol, the brilliant Dr. Geisler, who may offer him a way to escape the dangerous present and his guilt-ridden past, but at a horrible price only Oliver can pay…
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Twitter | Facebook | Website | Pinterest


Mackenzi Lee is reader, writer, bookseller, unapologetic fangirl, fast talker, and perpetually-anxious badass. She holds an MFA from Simmons College in writing for children and young adults, and her short fiction has appeared in Inaccurate Realities, The Friend, and The Newport Review. Her young adult historical fantasy novel, THIS MONSTROUS THING, which won the PEN-New England Susan P. Bloom Children’s Book Discovery Award, as well as an Emerging Artist Grant from the St. Botolph Club Foundation, will be published fall of 2015 by Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins. 

She loves Diet Coke, sweater weather, and historical fiction. On a perfect day, she can be found enjoying all three. She currently calls Boston home.




A hardcover copy of THIS MONSTROUS THING 
A pair of Frankenstein socks
A copy of the Color Your Own Graphic Novel Frankenstein
THIS MONSTROUS THING postcards, bookmarks, and buttons


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ARC Review: Apple And Rain by Sarah Crossan

Apple And Rain
Sarah Crossan
Published May 12th 2015 by Bloomsbury Publishing
MG >  Contemporary
330 pages 
eARC for Review




 Purchase links: 
Amazon | Nook  


When Apple’s mother returns after eleven years away, Apple feels whole again. But just like the stormy Christmas Eve when she left, her mother’s homecoming is bittersweet. It’s only when Apple meets someone more lost than she is that she begins to see things as they really are.
A story about sad endings.
A story about happy beginnings.
A story to make you realise who is special.



Even though this book was the complete opposite of what I thought it would be when I picked it up—I found myself completely unsurprised. I thought Apple and Rain was a YA Romance about a girl with abandonment issues, thanks to her mother. Apparently, the physical ARCs came with tissues. And tissues from the publisher can totally mean sad, broken girl with mommy issues, who meets an even sadder boy/girl with double the mommy issues, right?

The story is quite simple. Appolinia Apostopoulou (Apple), has lived for eleven years with her strict Nana, (whom I loved, by the way) who often treats her like a child, much to Apple’s chagrin. When one day, Apple’s estranged mother who had left in hopes of becoming an actress turns up, Apple, wants to move in with the flighty woman.  

So when Apple, desperate for her mother’s approval actually does move in with her mother, and meets Rain, her sister, I was confused. And then I had my oh, okay moment when I realised that I wasn’t completely wrong in my initial assumption. Sad Apple does indeed meet sadder Rain with double mommy issues. I knew then that I’d found myself a MG coming-of-age read.  

Now remember, that my cold chest does indeed possess a cold heart. So while I wasn’t completely unaffected by this book, I also wouldn’t say that this book wrecked me. Which, after the uproar over this book, is what I had expected. The book is written from the POV of a fourteen year old who is struggling and confused. It was simple in its writing and precisely knew what chords to strike in its reader’s heart. That’s what made the book what it was. And while I am an occasional MG reader, the more I read of the genre, the more it seems to elude me. More of a it’s not you, it’s me kind of thing, getit? 

I love books entered around family and family issues. But this one, obviously, was the complete extreme. It had a flighty mother who cared about no one or nothing, two young girls who struggled to make their mother happy, and a grandmother who could do nothing but helplessly watch all the drama unfold. Name every bad thing for your fourteen/ten year old child and it’s in there—drinking, smoking, leering men, cutting school for weeks on end, even paranoia. And not to mention, Rain, who carries around her doll Jenny, thinking that she is a real baby. Like I said, this book has quite a lot of the sad. And while our world is absolutely filled with worse lives for children, I cannot say reading this book was easy. Lots of cringing and wincing and anger on my end. 

The entire story is set in Britain, and I loved that aspect. We hardly ever see books that are 100% British, and that was amazing to see! Chips instead of fries, sauce instead of ketchup—delightful! Plenty of food references for the food lovers and I think, overall, the British aspect was one of my favourite parts about the book! And poetry! If there’s one thing—only one—that made me teary-eyed it was the poetry. Brilliant and just amazing <3

I think I’d recommend this book to people who have the patience and the empathy to be able to stick with a character who slowly, but surely grows and learns and comes of age. Because truly, any learning and growing that Apple did was at the very end. It’s sad, it has a few clichés (see: understanding, fun English teacher), a quirky “love interest” and it’s hopeful. But more importantly, it’s beautifully written so if nothing else appeals to you, believe me, the writing surely will.