2017 Debut Book Love: The Ethan I Was Before

Book Review | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comOne of the things that’s been a little bit strange and a lot wonderful about getting to read books before they are published is getting to experience them before all the reviews (both the good and the bad) come out and try to shape your opinion. I got to read Ali Standish’s THE ETHAN I WAS BEFORE late last year and I got to read it with the same clean slate I read books like Bridge to Terabithia  and The Summer of the Swans when I was a kid. Which means I read it the same way I read books back then – straight through, sneaking in pages while I folded the laundry, waited in line at the post office, and even while I ate lunch (sometimes being a grown up pays off).

Ethan’s story is a deeply moving one. In THE ETHAN I WAS BEFORE Ali Standish perfectly captures the time right after a life has changed irretrievably and just before it’s transformed into whatever is going to come next. Publisher’s Weekly gave it a well-deserved star for how it handles grief, guilt, and forgiveness. I’d say it’s a modern classic.

The Ethan I Was BeforeThe Ethan I Was Before by Ali Standish
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A beautiful of story of friendship, family, and loss, Ali Standish’s wonderful debut grabbed me from the beginning and didn’t let me go until I saw Ethan through to the end. Strong characters, a spot-on setting, and great details bring the story to life. THE ETHAN I WAS BEFORE is a soon-to-be classic. Readers of all ages will love this book, and teachers and librarians will be sharing it for a long time.

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For readers:

  • A strong, and likeable cast of characters.
  • A great, true-to-life sibling relationship.
  • Friendship and adventure.

For teachers

  • An exploration of the grief, guilt, and forgiveness.
  • A vivid setting.
  • A great example of building suspense by withholding information.

THE ETHAN I WAS BEFORE is in bookstores now.

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Class of 2k17 Book Love: Allegedly

Class of 2k17 Books | PatriciaBaileyAuthor.comIt’s hard to believe that Class of 2k17 member Tiffany Jackson is a debut author and that ALLEGEDLY is a debut novel.

It’s just so good.

Which is why I was thrilled when Tiffany’s e-ARC ended up in my inbox. Just one of the many perks of being part of the super terrific debut group, Class of 2k17. Have I mentioned how lucky I am?

I read ALLEGEDLY over the course of a week – trying to make it last. It’s simply amazing. Dark and twisty and totally mind-bending. Thriller fans are going to eat this novel up – and people who don’t usually read thrillers are going to love the complex and heartbreaking character of Mary and the girls in her group home.


Allegedly
Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A stunning debut. Dark. Heartbreaking. Powerful. Mary is a wonderfully complex character. Her story will catch you by the throat and not let you go until you’ve read the entire novel – and she’ll stay with you long after you’ve finished. The author, Tiffany Jackson, paints a unflinching portrait of our juvenile justice system while telling a compelling story – drawing you into Mary’s world, and making you question right, wrong, and everything in between.

A true thriller from the start.

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For readers:

  • Page turning suspense.
  • A complex and compelling character.
  • A thrilling read that will keep you second guessing what you know.

For teachers

  • A great example of building suspense and maintaining it.
  • An examination of complex narrators.
  • A rich jumping off place for discussion about juvenile justice, good, evil, and all the places in between.

Lucky for all of us, we won’t have to wait long to get this book in our hands. ALLEGEDLY’S launch date is January 24, 2017, and it’s available for pre-order now.

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2017 Debut Book Love: The Wingsnatchers: Carmer and Grit

Book Review | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comI don’t read a lot of fantasy, but one thing I’ve really enjoyed about reading 2017 debut books is getting the chance to read a wider variety of books than I normally would pick up myself. I signed up early for an ARC of THE WINGSNATCHER’S:  CARMER AND GRIT by Sarah Jean Horwitz because it just sounded so fun. I was not disappointed.

A middle grade fantasy, THE WINGSNATCHERS is my very first steampunk novel – and I have to admit that I might be hooked. I simply loved the setting. And I adored Carmer and Grit and the rest of the cast – including the bad guys. It was fun to live in the land of Skemantis for a few days. To watch magic shows, and automata creatures, and to fly (and run) with the faeries.

It even made me want to consider trying to write a fantasy novel at some point, which is my measure of a really good book.

The Wingsnatchers (Carmer and Grit, #1)The Wingsnatchers by Sarah Jean Horwitz
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Such a fun book. THE WINGSNATCHERS #1 is a charming adventure fantasy with two great main characters – Carmer, a well intentioned magician’s apprentice and inventor, and Grit, a fiercely independent faerie princess. Full of humor, heart, and tons of action, THE WINGSNATCHERS pulls you into its fully rendered steampunk environment full of magic, fairy dust, masked villains, and truly frightening automated cats and doesn’t let you go. A great mix of magic, fantasy, and science, THE WINGSNATCHERS series is sure to be a favorite among fantasy and steampunk lovers – young and old.

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For readers:

  • The fiery and determined Grit and the brave and inventive Carmer.
  • Magic, magicians, and fairy princesses.
  • Adventure and a great bad guy.

For teachers

  • A great mix of science and magic.
  • A fully formed setting full of vivid detail.
  • A diverse main character that may lead to discussion about living with/adapting to injuries and disabilities and how to best be an ally and friend.

THE WINGSNATCHERS releases April 25, 2017 (the same day as my novel. Yay launch twins). You can pre-order it now or add it to your Goodreads to help you remember to pick it up as soon as it comes out. That way I can have company as I wait impatiently for the sequel 🙂

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2017 Debut Book Love – Wait For Me

Book Review | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comI love historical novels. Always have. Historical fiction is what sparked my interest in history. It’s what led me to the library to learn more about the people and events that have shaped our world when I was a kid, and it’s what help me decide on my minor in college when I was an adult. Best of all, it was my love for history that inspired my own 2017 debut, THE TRAGICALLY TRUE ADVENTURES OF KIT DONOVAN.

Which is why I was so excited to see another 2017 debut historical on the ARC list. I’ve wanted to read Caroline Leech’s YA novel WAIT FOR ME since I first read the summary. There’s just something about being transported to another time and another place that gives you a fresh perspective. WAIT FOR ME’s beautiful Scottish setting and characters did just that.

Wait for MeWait for Me by Caroline Leech
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A touching war story – well told. Caroline Leech’s WWII romance, WAIT FOR ME, is filled with angst and empathy as enemies become friends – and fall in love – even as they are forced to face their own fears, prejudices, losses, and desires. Romance lovers will appreciate the slow burn of forbidden first love, while history lovers will be drawn to the detailed depictions of time and place and the unique setting. And everyone will love the characters – from Lorna’s pluck to Nikki’s cheerful desperation, from Jock’s quiet strength to Paul’s tragic kindness.

WAIT FOR ME is a strong debut. The author, Caroline Leech, has an eye for romance, and and an elegant hand with detail – and suspense. A great YA read.

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For readers:

  • A swoon-worthy love story.
  • Great historical detail.
  • Spunky and brave characters.

For teachers

  • A fresh historical perspective and setting for WWII.
  • Discussion about empathy, fear, and loss.
  • A WWII story with a strong female protagonist.

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2017 Debut Book Love: Family Game Night and Other Catastrophes

Book Review | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comI love it when I find a book that makes me want to write.

Mary Lambert’s middle grade debut FAMILY GAME NIGHT AND OTHER CATASTROPHES did exactly that.

I simply couldn’t put it down. I read it in one sitting – unable to drag myself away.  It’s a book that makes you long for a magical fix – even as you know that such a thing is impossible. And it doesn’t take the easy way out. There are no solid answers – just the sense that this family will continue on – sorting out the beautiful mess of their lives together.

Family Game Night and Other CatastrophesFamily Game Night and Other Catastrophes by Mary E. Lambert
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is everything I love about middle grade novels. Perfect voice. A cast of well-rounded, interesting characters. True-to-life friendships and family relationships. And, best of all, it doesn’t take the easy way out – but manages to leave you with hope just the same. Mary Lambert’s debut it a triumph – mixing real pain with just the right amount of humor to give the reader a heartfelt look into a family trying desperately to grow and change – while struggling to keep themselves and each other together in the process.

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For readers:

  • A great main character that you can really relate to.
  • A true-to-life sibling relationship.
  • Sad and funny all rolled up together  – just like life.

For teachers

  • Discussion about dealing with crisis behavior – helping others and helping ourselves.
  • Discussion about family – and how we care for those we love.
  • A great example of voice.

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2017 Debut Book Love: How to Stage a Catastrophe

Book Review | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comHave I said how much I love my fellow middle grade debut authors? If not, I mean to. Everyday.

It’s been a while since I’ve gotten an ARC (advanced reader copy) of one of my fellow middle grade debut friends in the mail, but then, on a cold, dark Halloween day, Rebecca Donnelly’s super fun HOW TO STAGE A CATASTROPHE showed up in my mail box and saved my life.

Part play – part novel – and all funny, I read this book in short bursts – not letting myself gobble it up in one sitting. And I totally fell for the characters. Sid and Folly are smart and funny and full of good (and not-so-good) ideas, and just the kind of kids you want to hang out with. Even the adults in this book are great. And despite the spot-on descriptions of Florida heat, I kind of wanted to move to Hatahatchee and spend some time backstage at the Juicebox Theater.

How to Stage a CatastropheHow to Stage a Catastrophe by Rebecca Donnelly
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Such a fun read! Hilarious and heart-warming, Sidney and company’s quest to save the Juicebox Theater is a joy to read. The characters are fantastic – smart and funny and kind – but full of wild ideas just the same. Great for theater lovers, theater wanna-be’s, and anyone who loves a good play (and a few chase scenes!), Donnelly’s story will keep you reading and laughing and longing for the next performance. The creative design and chapter structure is just an added treat.

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For readers:

  • A great set of fun and smart characters who are getting things done.
  • Theater stuff – behind the scenes and on the stage.
  • Friendship, fun, and a really awesome dog.

For teachers

  • Great structure – and a fun way to introduce kids to play structure and the ins and out of stage work.
  • Discussion about community – and how to work together to save something you care about.
  • Discussion about passion – and how to work hard on something that matters – without hurting others in the process.

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Happy Book Birthday – A TAIL OF CAMELOT: MICE OF THE ROUND TABLE

Happy Book Birthday | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comToday is the launch day of Julie Leung’s new middle grade fantasy novel, A TAIL OF CAMELOT – the first book in her MICE OF THE ROUND TABLE series.

I had the privilege of reading an advanced copy of A TAIL OF CAMELOT – and the even bigger privilege of interviewing Julie for a feature on the Swanky Seventeen blog.

This book is one of my top ten favorite reads this year – and a book I wish I would have gotten to read as a child.

Seriously – it has it all:  Camelot; mice in chain mail; a darling reluctant hero. What’s not to love?

It’s pretty much a perfect book. Smart, beautifully written, and adorable.

You can read more of my thoughts in my Goodreads review.

A Tail of Camelot (Mice of the Round Table, #1)A Tail of Camelot by Julie Leung
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Julie Leung has written an enchanting novel. Filled with a darling hero, truly evil villains, page-turning action, and beautiful imagery, A TAIL OF CAMELOT is a story that readers of all ages will turn to again and again.

Calib is the perfect hero – big-hearted and brave – and in way over his head. He’s easy to root for. He’s a good mouse trying to do the right thing only to find himself falling into one bad situation after another. The writing is so fresh and gorgeously detailed that you feel like you’re right there with him – following in his pawsteps as he struggles to save his kingdom and live up to the legacy of his family name.

I simply adored every page of this book. I was only sorry it wasn’t around when I was a kid. It’s a must for any classroom or home library. Middle grade readers are going to devour it, and teachers and parents are going to love to read it aloud with their kids.

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For readers:

  • Mice in chain-mail; owl allies;  talking ravens; even a big-hearted bear.
  • Tons of action.
  • A brave hero who’s easy to root for.

For teachers

  • A spot-on Camelot retelling.
  • Discussion about courage and what it really means to be brave.
  • Gorgeous detail and descriptions.

And you can buy a copy of A TAIL OF CAMELOT at all the places good books are sold, including:

Amazon

Powells

Books a Million

Barnes and Noble

Indiebound

Get it. Read it. Share it. You’re going to love it.

Congratulations, Julie!

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2017 Debut Book Love: Cilla Lee-Jenkins: Future Author Extraordinaire

Book Review | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comI love books for middle-graders. I love reading them, talking about them, and sharing them with kids, teachers, and parents. The best part about reading books for middle-graders is remembering what it was like to be a kid – to be  nine-years-old and just figuring out school and friends and family – at the same time you’re beginning to examine exactly where you belong in the great big world.

Some books just remind you of that time, while others transport you back there and make you relive all of it: the laughter, the pain, the excitement, and the confusion. Fellow 2017 debut author Susan Tan’s debut MG novel CILLA LEE-JENKINS:  FUTURE AUTHOR EXTRAORDINAIRE does all of this and more.

I read this book in one sitting and loved it so much, I shared my love for it all over social media – that is after I managed to wipe away the tears.

Cilla Lee-Jenkins: Future Author ExtraordinaireCilla Lee-Jenkins: Future Author Extraordinaire by Susan Tan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Cilla Lee-Jenkins is the best friend you wish you had. Her struggles are real. Her triumphs are joyous. And her big heart and rich imagination will captivate even the most jaded reader. Susan Tan’s debut will have you laughing out loud one minute and choking back tears the next. This book is a must read for anyone who is or once was a child. Be warned: Cilla and her family will steal your heart.

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CILLA LEE-JENKINS:  FUTURE AUTHOR EXTRAODINAIRE is a must for every classroom and library – public and personal. And, lucky for us, we can pre-order it now and have it in our mailboxes by the end of March.

For readers:

  • The funny and big-hearted Cilla.
  • A great voice kids will totally relate to.
  • Real life worries and triumphs – new baby, fights with friends, big dreams.

For teachers

  • A great example of expressing yourself through writing /memoir.
  • Discussion about family – and the joys and challenges of growing up in two cultures.
  • Discussion about friendship – and what you do when you make a mistake.
  • Discussion about change  – and how to find your place when everything seems to be falling apart.

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Class of 2k17 Book Love: Poison’s Kiss

Class of 2k17 Books | PatriciaBaileyAuthor.comI was lucky enough to get another ARC in my mail this week. I never knew getting a sneak peek at soon-to-be-published books would be this fun. It’s like a whole year of Coming Attractions! I have to admit, after reading fellow Class of 2k17 member Whitney Gardner’s awesome YOU’RE WELCOME UNIVERSE last week and Breeana Shields’ amazing POISON’S KISS this week, I am truly humbled that my little book is getting to hang out with these guys. I feel like the weird kid who ended up sitting at the cool kids’ table my mistake. Part of me is scared to death while another part kinda wants to jump up and down and scream like the fangirl I am. Neither reaction is very professional, I know, but right now, that’s all I got – and I’m okay with it.

And I totally fangirled Breeana as I read this book. I tweeted her regular updates, letting her know just how amazing this story is. Amazing and unique and freaking spell-binding.

She may have made me a fantasy junkie with this debut and I’m not even sorry. It’s that good!

Poison's Kiss (Untitled, #1)Poison’s Kiss by Breeana Shields
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Beautiful writing, riveting plot, engaging characters – Breeana Shields manages to combine all three in her engaging debut. Shields captures your attention from page one – with gorgeous description and an empathetic character. She carries it through the twists and turns of this page-turner, as Marinda struggles with her duty, her self, and her fate. A story of deceit, betrayal, friendship, and ultimately love, Poison’s Kiss will stay with you long after you finish the book and leave you longing for the sequel.

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For readers:

  • Fast paced adventure.
  • A touching sibling relationship.
  • Complicated friendships and loyalties, and a sweet romance.

For teachers

  • Beautiful, descriptive language.
  • A great example of world building – using mythology and lore to enhance a story.
  • A compelling character who is easy to empathize with.

If this is Breeana’s debut, I can’t even imagine what she’s got up her sleeve for the next book. Lucky for you, it’s available for pre-order right now. And you can always add it to your Goodreads list to remind you of the amazing book that’s coming for you in 2017.

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My First ARC: Pre-reading MG and YA Books – You’re Welcome Universe

Class of 2k17 Books | PatriciaBaileyAuthor.comOne of the coolest things about being a debut author is that you get to meet other debut authors.

And one of the best things about meeting other debut authors – other than their incredible kindness, generosity, and downright Swankiness – is that you get to read advanced copies of their upcoming MG and YA books.

That’s right. You get a sneak peek at next year’s best MG and YA books. How cool is that? For this bookworm, it’s a little like my visions of heaven. Books just arriving at your doorstep like magic, waiting for you to read them.

My very first Advanced Reader Copy showed up in the mailbox right before the Fourth of July weekend. And if that’s not cool enough, it was fellow Oregonian and Class of 2k17 member Whitney Gardner’s amazing debut, YOU’RE WELCOME UNIVERSE.

And it was awesome!

So awesome, I read it in two days. So awesome, I rushed over to Goodreads to write a review. So awesome, I tweeted about it, then tweeted again. (And Intagrammed, and Facebooked…and, well, you get the picture).

MG and YA books - You're Welcome, UniverseYou’re Welcome, Universe by Whitney Gardner
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

There is so much to love about Whitney Gardner’s debut. It’s heartfelt – full of anger and hurt, hope and beauty. Set against the backdrop of a graffiti war, YOU’RE WELCOME UNIVERSE challenges our assumptions about art, belonging, and friendship in new and interesting ways. The characters are compelling, the art work is captivating, and the twists and turns make this an impossible book to put down.

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For readers:.

  • A friendship story that’s not all sunshine and happiness.
  • A real character  – complex and diverse – that’s not easy to pigeon-hole. .
  • The art work!

For teachers

  • A complex and diverse character – who doesn’t always make the best choices.
  • Discussion about art and vandalism – expression and destruction.
  • Excellent world building from the character’s point of view in a contemporary setting.

The world is going to saying THANK YOU, WHITNEY when it gets its hands on this book next year. In the meantime, the lucky few who get a pre-read will just have to urge you to add it to your To Read lists.

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