Tuesday, April 24, 2018

"The Weekend Bucket List" by Mia Kerick

The Weekend Bucket List
by Mia Kerick

The Weekend Bucket List by Mia Kerick

The Weekend Bucket List by Mia Kerick is currently on tour with YA Bound Book Tours. The tour stops here today for my review, a guest post by the author, an excerpt, and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.

High school seniors Cady LaBrie and Cooper Murphy have yet to set one toe out of line - they’ve never stayed out all night or snuck into a movie, never gotten drunk or gone skinny-dipping. But they have each other, forty-eight hours before graduation, and a Weekend Bucket List.
There’s a lot riding on this one weekend, especially since Cady and Cooper have yet to admit, much less resolve, their confounding feelings for one another - feelings that prove even more difficult to discern when genial high school dropout Eli Stanley joins their epic adventure. But as the trio ticks through their bucket list, the questions they face shift toward something new: Must friendship play second fiddle to romance? Or can it be the ultimate prize?

She acts as if this was my big idea, but The Weekend Bucket List has got Cady LaBrie’s name written all over it. She’s persuasive, though—the girl has almost got me believing I came up with the idea to do everything we never did that “normal” kids do in high school, all in the forty-eight hours before graduation. We have a lot of lost time to make up for.
“These fries are so good.” Cady’s eyes are closed like she’s in goddamned ecstasy. I’m not sure why, but I look away.
“How can you eat so freaking much and stay so freaking skinny?” I ask, as Cady starts in on her second large order of french fries. And these are just appetizers.
“I’m petite, Cooper. Not skinny... and you’re skinny, too.”
I shrug and suck futilely on the straw that stands straight in my vanilla shake.
“Whatever.” It doesn’t matter how thick the shake is; I’m in no rush to suck it down. Cady’s the talker in this relationship, so all I’ve got to do is sit here and listen.
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]

Praise for the Book
The Weekend Bucket List is without artifice, showing readers of any age, why genuineness is the core of happiness. The novel reaches for a lot and exceeded my expectations; a fun, clear-eyed view of three headstrong souls who come of age by supporting one another.” ~ Anniemaus
“… this is a wonderful book by the always amazing Mia Kerick. Brava, Mia … you entertained me, you broke my heart, and then you lifted me up in glorious fashion … BUY THE BOOK, people!!!! btw you will need the Kleenex I’m just saying.” ~ Kevin Casey
“This was a lovely, quiet book about friendship. Lifelong friends Cooper and Cady are about to leave for college and decide to make a bucket list to cross off all of the things they wish they had done, but didn't, in high school. Crossing things off in one jam-packed weekend, introduces them to Eli, a young man who manages to quickly work his way into their lives, and teach them more than they thought they would learn about love, leaving, and the power of loyalty.” ~ Samantha
The Weekend Bucket List is one of those coming of age books that can be read and enjoyed by anyone. A perfect read for teenagers who are still having a hard time finding themselves. I would definitely read the other books of Kerick as I enjoyed reading this one.” ~ Tin
“Aside from a kiss or two and some understandable raging teenage hormones, there is no sex in this book - and frankly I didn’t miss it at all. In fact, I would go as far to say that the power of this novel lies in the relationships it examines and in the love that friendships can bring into our lives and, as the story points out, that is the strongest type of bond and love that one can experience.” ~ Joyfully Jay

My Review
I received this book in return for an honest review.

Cady and Cooper are best friends determined to complete their Weekend Bucket List before they graduate from high school the following Monday. Everyone thinks Cooper is gay, but the truth is they’re both struggling with their feelings for each other, fearing they will ruin their friendship if they take things to the next level. Then they run into Eli, the cute carnie, and everything changes.
This book asks the question: is romantic love more important than friendship? The story is told in alternating chapters from the points of view of Cady, Cooper, and Eli. It’s fun to see how they each perceive the same situation. All three characters have authentic teenage voices and flawed personalities. The bucket list takes up the first half of the book, while the second half deals with graduation and beyond. My heart broke for Eli following the graduation ceremony. Thankfully, things are resolved in a positive manner.
A wonderful story about growing up and cherishing what’s really important.
Favorite line: “Right now, we’re on totally different pages, maybe different chapters, in our lives. I just hope we’re still in the same book.”

Guest Post by the Author
The Weekend Bucket List: A Different Kind of Love Story

In The Weekend Bucket List, I have crafted a love story, which will not come as a surprise to my loyal base of readers, or to new readers who look its way. As the story starts, high school seniors Cooper and Cady aren’t sure whether it’s best-friendship or the first stirrings of romantic love that has them dwelling on nothing but each other twenty-four/seven. Difficult questions about Cooper’s sexuality also come into play, causing insecurity and emotional distance. And yes … I’ve crafted stories with similar themes in previous YA novels. But this one is different … so keep on reading.

On the weekend prior to high school graduation, under the guise of crossing risky items off a carefully constructed bucket list to make them feel more “cool” and ready for college, the teens more truly set out to discover the truth of their feelings for each other. Are we in love or just good friends? Is Cooper gay or straight, or something else entirely? Awkward!! And this is when Eli, a high school drop-out who works at the traveling carnival they visit - dreamily handsome and oh, so tempting to both Cooper and Cady - enters the picture. He joins their journey of self-discovery, which turns out to be a voyage that transports all three teens to new and uncomfortable places in both the physical and emotional realms, where they learn the truth of their feelings for each other.

At the risk of dropping a spoiler in the promotion of my very own book, I will say this: Compelling love comes in different forms. And by compelling, I mean the kind of love that is magical and soul-driven, packed with enough ups and downs to make a reader’s palms sweat. I’m talking about the kind of love that you truly give a damn about … in which the characters endure raw emotion sufficient to cause withdrawal symptoms when they lose sight of it, and long sighs of relief when they find a chance to reach for it again. Cooper, Cady, and Eli must earn their reward - the bond of loving friendship.

I wrote The Weekend Bucket List with the above quotation in mind because friendship is an exquisitely fine art, even if in our society is incredibly undervalued. Maybe romantic love is frilly and lacy and jeweled, and is supposed to be what all teens should want - the be-all and end-all of relationships. But a committed bond of friendship is not a consolation prize; in fact, it can be a more meaningful target for emotional investment.

Friendship is a worthwhile vessel for deep feeling.

Friendship offers opportunity that romance often can’t.
*can tolerate complete honesty
*is dependable, especially in times of trouble
*allows you total freedom
*calls you out when you are wrong
*celebrates your success without reservation
*grows stronger with disagreements
*is able to forgive and overlook
*helps you live longer
*makes you want to be a better person

Shouldn’t there be an extensive list of gripping YA books that celebrate the unique and necessary and loving bond of friendship? The Weekend Bucket List is every bit this kind of love story. Best friends Cady and Cooper and Eli can no more live apart than could Romeo and Juliet! Aristotle said, “Friendship is a single soul dwelling in two bodies.” (In the case of The Weekend Bucket List, three teenage souls live their best lives when they’re together.) Cooper, Cady, and Eli must struggle to understand their individual sexualities and to discover the roles they will play in each other’s lives, but they find a way to be together. They learn to be honest. They decide to forgive each other’s mistakes. They complete each other. And if this isn’t love, I don’t know what is.

My April 19th, 2018 release of YA LGBTQ fiction, The Weekend Bucket List, strays from my usual path of romance, but not from the direction of love.

(And it’s pretty funny too.)

About the Author
Mia Kerick
Mia Kerick is the mother of four exceptional children - all named after saints - and five nonpedigreed cats - all named after the next best thing to saints, Boston Red Sox players. Her husband of twenty years has been told by many that he has the patience of Job, but don’t ask Mia about that, as it is a sensitive subject.
Mia focuses her stories on the emotional growth of troubled men and their relationships, and she believes that sex has a place in a love story, but not until it is firmly established as a love story. As a teen, Mia filled spiral-bound notebooks with romantic tales of tortured heroes (most of whom happened to strongly resemble lead vocalists of 1980s big-hair bands) and stuffed them under her mattress for safekeeping. She is thankful to Dreamspinner Press for providing her with an alternate place to stash her stories.
Mia is proud of her involvement with the Human Rights Campaign and cheers for each and every victory made in the name of marital equality. Her only major regret: never having taken typing or computer class in school, destining her to a life consumed with two-fingered pecking and constant prayer to the Gods of Technology.

Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win a $15 Amazon gift card.


Monday, April 23, 2018

Love in Bloom featuring Brooke St. James

Summer of ‘65
(Bishop Family Book 1)
by Brooke St. James

Summer of ‘65 (Bishop Family Book 1) by Brooke St. James

Throughout the month of April, we will be featuring 10 fabulous authors who write clean romance. Today we feature Brooke St. James with Summer of ‘65, the first book in the Bishop Family series, which will be FREE on 23 and 24 April.

This book blast and giveaway is brought to you by I Am A Reader.

Ivy Lewis went home to Memphis in the summer of 1965 unaware of the adventure that awaited her. She was content to go through the motions of her predictable routines back home while safeguarding a few little secrets about her life in Nashville. In her mind, the two worlds weren’t meant to intersect.
Then Michael Bishop entered the picture. He had just moved to Memphis from Detroit in hopes of expanding his motorcycle company. He appeared to be nothing more than an outlaw and a menace to the community. Any type of relationship between them was sure to be met with resistance from Ivy’s family and friends.
But Michael Bishop was too great of a temptation for Ivy.
The summer of 1965 would be one of first impressions, first dances, and forbidden love.

I glanced at Alice who gave me a wide-eyed smile. I heard the noise of shifting gravel, and I looked up to find that Michael was getting off of his motorcycle.
“Ivy Lewis,” he said, closing the distance between us.
“Michael Bishop,” I returned.
“You came back to look for a hairpin,” he said as more of a statement than a question.
The other waiters came closer to help me look, which caused their shadows to block the light. “I think it was over here,” Alice said, redirecting them. She had, thank goodness, caught on to the fact that I might want to say a couple of words to Michael and was helping me out.
“I really liked that song,” he said.
He must have known I wasn’t really there to look for a hairpin, because he didn’t even bother looking down.
“When can I hear you play again?”
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]

Praise for the Book
“Just like her other books, you get everything a good book provides. It has a beautiful love story, nostalgia and a bit of mystery without repeating things over and over. Love it and will read it again I’m sure.” ~ Deb R
“I’m always anxious to see what Brooke writes and this book didn’t disappoint. Michael and Ivy experienced typical 1965 prejudices and problems but the fun and flirty dialogue is still there. Motorcycles and the preacher’s kid, misunderstood music and parental expectations … this story had it all. Can’t wait for the next generation!” ~ Barbara
“What an amazing new book by an incredible author! The story was sincere and well-paced with adorable dialogue, poignant moments and surprises along the way. I can’t get enough of these charming and realistic main characters and eagerly await the next book in this series.” ~ C. Marshall
“Wow! This was my first time reading this author. What a sweet romance and the beginning of a family of characters that I already love. I highly recommend this captivating story.” ~ T Cramer
“Love this series, couldn't put them down once I got started. Good wholesome family with a Christian romance tied to each one of the books in the series.” ~ LSanders

About the Author
Brooke St. James
Brooke St. James is an author of contemporary romance novels with Christian and inspirational themes and happy endings. She was born and raised in south Louisiana but has had the opportunity to travel and live throughout the U.S. An avid reader, writer, audio book addict, and fan of all things artistic, Brooke constantly has her hands in some creative activity. She’s currently back home in Louisiana enjoying life with her husband, children, and two lazy dogs.

Also by the author:

Enter the blast-wide giveaway for a chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card or PayPal cash.


Saturday, April 21, 2018

This Week on Books Direct - 21 April 2018

This Week on Books Direct -
21 April 2018

This Week on Books Direct - 21 April 2018

Here's a list of some great articles you may have missed this week. Enjoy!

There’s never a bad time to tidy up writing that’s messy or overly cluttered, but the best time may be right now—which is to say, spring. In fact, that last sentence could use some polish, so let’s rework it: Now’s a fine time to spring clean your writing. There, isn’t that better?

Everything You Should Know About Cleaning Your Writing: Tips, Tools, And More by Daniel Potter for Grammarly Blog

The Vending Machine That Spits Out Short Stories by Laura M. Holson for The New York Times

A French community publisher of short-form literature has installed more than 30 story dispensers in the United States in the past year.

The Vending Machine That Spits Out Short Stories by Laura M. Holson for The New York Times

Type a question into “Talk to Books,” and AI-powered tool will scan every sentence in 100,000 volumes in Google Books and generate a list of likely responses with the pertinent passage bolded.

Google’s Astounding New Search Tool Will Answer Any Question By Reading Thousands Of Books by Anne Quito for Quartz Media

2018 Pulitzer Prizes Announced by The Pulitzer Prizes

The 2018 winners of the Pulitzer Prize were announced, including six books in the categories of Fiction, Drama, History, Biography, Poetry, and General Nonfiction. Andrew Sean Greer won the Fiction Pulitzer for his novel Less, and James Forman Jr. took the General Nonfiction prize for Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America.

The 24-year-old poet, with a background in biochemistry, wants young people in the capital ‘to see poetry as part of their every day’.

Somali-British Poet Momtaza Mehri Named Young People's Laureate For London by Alison Flood for The Guardian

New suit claims Aaron Sorkin adaptation may have to be scrapped over alleged differences between the play and novel, as producers offer to stage disputed work at federal court.

Broadway Producers Of To Kill A Mockingbird Countersue Harper Lee's Estate by Sian Cain for The Guardian

How do you feel after submitting a manuscript?

Growing Comfortable With Your Creative Vacuum by Hans M. Hirschi

Cecilia Tan would like to hear more from both authors and folks who give solicited feedback: critique partners, writers groups, beta readers, and sensitivity readers.

Seeking Stories From Authors & Beta Readers About Incorporating Feedback, Critique by Cecilia Tan

Merging Feedback by Anna Simpson for emaginette

Anna explains how she collates feedback from beta readers.

Merging Feedback by Anna Simpson for emaginette

A new study by Pew Research, Americans are actually reading, they're just doing it in different ways than the traditional hardcover or paperback format.

How Many Books Did The Average American Read In The Last Year? This New Study May Surprise You by Keri Jarema for Bustle

If you enjoyed this blog post, please visit the other This Week posts for links to more great articles.