Category Archives: Giveaway
The Summer of Broken Things
by Margaret Peterson Haddix
From New York Times bestselling author Margaret Peterson Haddix comes a haunting novel about friendship and what it really means to be a family in the face of lies and betrayal.
Fourteen-year-old Avery Armisted is athletic, rich, and pretty. Sixteen-year-old Kayla Butts is known as “butt-girl” at school. The two girls were friends as little kids, but that’s ancient history now. So it’s a huge surprise when Avery’s father offers to bring Kayla along on a summer trip to Spain. Avery is horrified that her father thinks he can choose her friends—and make her miss soccer camp. Kayla struggles just to imagine leaving the confines of her small town.
But in Spain, the two uncover a secret their families had hidden from both of them their entire lives. Maybe the girls can put aside their differences and work through it together. Or maybe the lies and betrayal will only push them—and their families—farther apart.
Margaret Peterson Haddix weaves together two completely separate lives in this engaging novel that explores what it really means to be a family—and what to do when it’s all falling apart.
About the Author
Margaret Peterson Haddix grew up on a farm near Washington Court House, Ohio. She graduated from Miami University (of Ohio) with degrees in English/journalism, English/creative writing and history. Before her first book was published, she worked as a newspaper copy editor in Fort Wayne, Indiana; a newspaper reporter in Indianapolis; and a community college instructor and freelance writer in Danville, Illinois.
She has since written more than 40 books for kids and teens, including Running Out of Time; Double Identity; Uprising; The Always War; the Shadow Children series; the Missing series; the Children of Exile series; the Under Their Skin duology; and The Palace Chronicles. She also wrote Into the Gauntlet, the tenth book in the 39 Clues series. Her books have been honored with New York Times bestseller status, the International Reading Association’s Children’s Book Award; American Library Association Best Book and Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers notations; and numerous state reader’s choice awards. They have also been translated into more than twenty different languages.
Haddix and her husband, Doug, now live in Columbus, Ohio. They are the parents of two grown kids.
PURCHASE THE BOOK:
– 5 Winners will receive a Copy of THE SUMMER OF BROKEN THINGS by Margaret Peterson Haddix.
ENDS: APRIL 30, 2018
This is Not the End
by Chandler Baker
I wonder if for the rest of my life, I’ll be haunted by beautiful days.
On one cloudless, radiant summer afternoon, Lake Devereaux lost everything. The car crash claimed the lives of her best friend and boyfriend, the people who had become her family after her own fell apart. But she doesn’t have to lose them both.
The development of resurrection technology has changed the world. Under the new laws regulating the process, each person gets one resurrection to be used or forfeited on their eighteenth birthday. Mere weeks away from turning eighteen, Lake faces an impossible choice.
Envisioning life without one of the people she loves most is shattering enough, but Lake carries an additional burden: years ago, under family pressure, Lake secretly—and illegally—promised her resurrection to someone who isn’t even dead yet.
The search for answers about her future draws Lake more deeply into the secrets of her past until she begins to question everything about those closest to her. Betrayals and hurts both new and old threaten to eclipse the memories she once cherished.
Then Lake meets a boy unlike anyone she’s encountered before, who unflinchingly embraces the darkest parts of her life . . . and who believes that all resurrections are wrong.
Which path is the right one? And how can Lake start to heal when she can’t move on?
Harry Potter; Star Wars; Blade Runner – Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep; Hobbit; Game of Thrones; Handmaid’s Tale; Enders Game; Slaughter House-Five; The Road
Chandler Baker got her start ghostwriting novels for teens and tweens, including installments in a book series that has sold more than 1 million copies. She grew up in Florida, went to college at the University of Pennsylvania and studied law at the University of Texas. She now lives in Austin with her husband. Although she loves spinning tales with a touch of horror, she is a much bigger scaredy-cat than her stories would lead you to believe.
You can find Chandler as the books contributor on the YouTube channel Weird Girls.
– 1 Winner will receive a Copy of THIS IS NOT THE END Swag (Signed Copy and Stickers) by Chandler Baker.
by Chuck Vance
Chased Series, Book One
Could you sleep next to a murderer?
Luke Chase—yes, that Luke Chase, a modern hero ripped from the headlines—didn’t mean to get caught up in Mrs. Heckler’s murder. He just wanted to hook up with the hot new British girl at St. Benedict’s, and if that meant sneaking out to the woods after hours, then so be it. But little did he know someone would end up dead right next to their rendezvous spot, and his best friend and roommate Oscar Weymouth would go down for it. With suspects aplenty and a past that’s anything but innocent, Luke Chase reluctantly calls on his famous survival skills to find the true killer.
For fans of “A Study in Charlotte” and boarding school lit, “Sneaking Out” (book one in the “Chased” series) immerses readers in the privileged prep school world, with a mystery that exposes the dark side of life on a residential high school campus.
By the grace of God, he had fled the cabin in the woods that his kidnappers had locked him in for two days. He’d taken off in the early hours of the morning when the moon was filmy and the sun just a promise. But not before he snuck into the cabin, holding his breath, praying his abductors wouldn’t wake up, to grab some necessities for his escape into the dark woods. He had been well trained by his grandfather and knew what he needed to survive. He had stolen the thick wool sweater that he found dangling on a hook by the entrance and the large black-handled knife he had discovered in the top kitchen drawer. Luke had sifted through the cabinets, desperate to find any other portable provisions. A coil of rope, and a plastic bag into which he poured some household cleaning powder that he located under the sink. Ammonia. He had read about it in one of his grandfather’s military books. Ammonia can hide human scent.
And so like Hansel and Gretel, Luke left his own version of a bread trail as he moved through the woods. He would run for approximately half an hour before slowing for ten minutes and sprinkling ammonia to conceal his scent. The slobbering, sharp-toothed attack dog that his captors kept tied to the front door would have a harder time finding him now. He preferred his running escape to slowing down. It was when he was still enough to hear his heart beat that he felt the pounding sense of fear commingled with claustrophobia. He was angry. Why had he been torn away from his family? Was it all for money? But what made him the angriest was that they had made him view the woods, so poetic and magical for his entire life until that point, as something sinister and fearful.
He only realized he was hungry when he stumbled upon a patch of teaberries. He knew they were edible, and so he would plop down amidst the spicebushes and other shrubs and eat the sticky berries until they stained his fingers a light pink. He’d take a second to watch the salamanders slither under the rocks, and remain motionless enough to hear the rustle of skunks and other wildlife make their way through the thick brush. Fortunately, there were natural springs in the woods, and when he would come across one, he’d slurp as much water out of the palm of his hand, water that he’d scoop up fervently and drink until he couldn’t. Then he would continue on. There was never a second where he wasn’t aware that he was being hunted.
About the Author
Chuck Vance is a pseudonym for a bestselling writer of both adult mysteries and novels for young adults. Vance attended boarding school in Connecticut and graduated from Columbia University. Vance has lived in New York, Moscow, London, Paris and Los Angeles and is frequently on the move.
1 winner will receive a finished copy of SNEAKING OUT & a $30 Amazon GC, US Only.
Our Dark Stars
by Audrey Grey and Krystal Wade
While she sleeps, the whole universe changes.
Princess Talia Starchaser has it all. Wealth. Status. Adoring citizens. But on the eve of her eighteenth birthday, she’s forced to publicly betray her best friend, a companion mock she’s had since birth, setting events into motion that lead to the destruction of the humans, and the princess floating through space, a remnant of a time when humans ruled over droids.
One hundred years later, half-mock captain Will Perrault and his ragtag crew discover a device floating in space. When a very human Talia emerges from its depths, Will suspects she’s the key to buying his way back into the regiment he once commanded against the last remaining rebel humans—and the ruling mock queen’s good graces.
Both Talia and Will would rather get space-tossed than trust one another, but with the queen’s forces chasing them across the galaxy and the fate of both worlds hanging in the balance, they’ll forge the unlikeliest of alliances to survive.
“She knows my every move!” Talia growled, pitching into a steep dive that brought them back into the bowels of the city. In open space, the queen could best Talia any day of the week, but here maybe she could even the playing field.
Sweat slicked her fingers as she guided the steering wheel, working to calm her breathing. The quiet inside the cockpit was an illusion of safety. Up above the queen stalked them from the clouds, waiting to strike.
Talia peered up at the sky, the sun’s glare crippling her vision. “I can’t see her.”
“Me either,” Will confirmed. Judging by his leather seat groaning, he was twisted around trying to find her. “She’s using the sun to her advantage.”
Of course she was. That was one of Ailat’s favorite tricks. Talia dove lower until she skimmed the turquoise waters around the palace. They’d made an entire loop through the city. What was the queen’s plan? Ailat had always been a better pilot, a better tactician. She could toy with them for hours until they ran out of fuel—but that wasn’t what she wanted.
No, she needed to prove once and for all she was better than Talia.
“Here she comes!” Will warned.
The queen’s Starfighter dropped from above in an aerial attack, and the water below exploded in a straight line toward them as she strafed it with bullets. Ascending from this level would make the ship slow and decrease her power, so Talia cut toward the palace, hoping the queen wouldn’t sacrifice the bystanders on the bridge with those bullets.
Talia was wrong. She flinched as the hail of firepower chased them into the courtyard, cutting down the crowds still stuck there.
“Oh God,” Talia cried, wishing she could shut her eyes.
“Look out!” Will shouted as they careened between two archways.
Last second, Talia banked sideways, and the ship slipped through the opening by a whisker. The queen climbed back to her perch in the clouds, safe from Talia’s guns while waiting to swoop down again.
The maneuver was called a high-sides gun pass, and Ailat had done it to Talia a million times before in training. Never once had she recovered after Ailat got her in this position. Growling, Talia swiped sweat-soaked hair from her forehead and then banged her fist on the dash.
“You okay, there?” Will called.
“We’re not going to die today!” She repeated it, louder, for good measure. No way in hell would she let the queen kill them.
“Does this all seem familiar, Tal?” the queen purred over the com, the pleased tone in her voice riling Talia’s blood. “There’s nowhere you can hide now. No safety. You know how this ends.”
Talia grabbed the radio. “I am Talia Starchaser. I fear nothing. I own the stars and the planets and the galaxies, and I am not afraid of you, Queen.”
About the Authors
Hi! I’m an award winning and USA Today bestselling author of several books, including the Moonbeam Children’s Award bronze finalist, SHADOW FALL. I live in the charming state of Oklahoma with my crew: one husband, two little people, four mischievous dogs, and one poor cat. You can usually find me hiding out in my office from said crew, surrounded by books and sipping kombucha while dreaming up wondrous worlds for my characters to live in.
In between the chaos—What’s for dinner? Stop pinching your sister! Homework! Dishes!— and my writing, I make time for various projects. An admitted paintaholic, I’ve painted, sprayed or transformed nearly every piece of my house at least once. I even painted my husband’s beloved fabric chair. Oops!
I thrive on creation: starting from an idea, a blank canvas, or perhaps an outdated room, and using my imagination to create something new and emotionally engaging that’s all my own. But stories have always been my first love. Weaving together complex worlds full of flawed, conflicted characters allows me to express myself in a way I could never do otherwise.
I started creating stories during the sweltering Oklahoma summers spent laboring in my father’s wheat fields. Alone and bored, I dreamed up wild fables of vampires (the Anne Rice kind), cave men, and love-torn ghosts. By college my tales had grown more persistent, and I started to actually write them down.
Now, fiction is my life, and I look forward to sharing my characters and their stories with all of you.
I’m happily married to the love of my life (don’t gag) and raising three beautiful children in the gorgeous state of Virginia. We live just outside Washington, D.C., and every day I wake up to find myself stuck in traffic trying to get there.
The horrid commute gives me plenty of time to zone out and think about my characters in full, brilliant details (I’m a safe driver; don’t worry). Stories give me a way to forget about the sometimes smelly strangers sitting next to me on the fifty mile trek into town (I pick up hitchhikers every day. True story. Check out http://www.slug-lines.com if you don’t believe me).
I’ve been a part of organized hitchhiking for nearly fifteen years, but that’s just one small aspect of my oh-so-large life. When I’m not working, commuting, or chasing after my three children (four if you count the man), you can usually find me outside talking to my chickens like they’re the cutest things in the world (they are), or training my amazing dogs how to herd said chickens (which they love), or curled up on the sofa with a good book (why can’t that be 100% of the time?).
I hope you love my stories (or just like them a little; that would be okay, too). And I hope that one day you find your passion, because there’s nothing in life better than doing what you love while surrounded by people you love.
PURCHASE THE BOOK
1 winner will receive a $30 Amazon GC and a hardcover copy of Cinder, US Only.
by Michele Bacon
Release Date: April 3, 2018
When Erin Cerise steps off her plane in Christchurch, New Zealand, she is focused intently on her mission: do something unique that will erase the mess she made of her life on her 17th birthday. She’s already lost her swim team captainship, her boyfriend Ben, and her reputation. Her mother is certain studying abroad will regain Erin’s chances of a good future. Once Erin sees her uninspiring host family and city, though, she’s not so sure.
Before Christchurch, Erin wasn’t always intense and focused. Years ago, a mission sounded like a fun adventure, and the only ivy she cared about was the stuff growing around her grandparents’ back porch at their peaceful Upper Peninsula home. When had her priorities gone upside down?
Now Erin balks at NZ’s itchy school uniforms, cold houses, and her hosts’ utter inability to pronounce her name correctly. Christchurch does boast amazing rock climbing, gorgeous scenery, and at least one guy who could make her forget Ben if she lets him. With months ahead of her, Erin slowly begins to draw on the years behind her, one step back into her memories at a time. As she rebuilds her life from the other side of the world, she finds that when life turns your world upside down and you’re far from home, every way you move takes you closer to where you came from.
- What made you want to become a writer?
I cannot remember wanting to be anything else. Except a majorette. I desperately wanted to be a majorette. Aside from that, I’ve been writing and telling stories all my life. While I’ve been a writer all my life, I always wanted to be a published author. Now I realize there are many ways to have a rich and fulfilling life as a writer, and I’m happy.
- What are some of your favorite books?
In YA, anything by Brittany Cavallaro, Jandy Nelson, Courtney Summers, or Nicola Yoon. Also Eleanor & Park (Rowell), Genuine Fraud (Lockhart), If I Stay (Forman), The Inside of Out (Thorne), and Shine (Myracle). In adult, anything by Bill Bryson, Michael Cunningham, Laurie Frankel, Roxane Gay, Jonathan Tropper, or Kevin Wilson. Also Left Neglected (Genova), The Nest (D’Aprix Sweeney), Before You Know Kindness (Bohjalian), and Station Eleven (Mandel)
- Are your characters based on anyone you know?
Yes and no. I’ve invented each of my characters, but I often steal personality quirks from people I know or give characters my passions. I gave my first protagonist, Xander Fife in Life Before, my childhood. While no character is based on a singular person I know, I do steal surnames of my favorite people for every manuscript.
- Why do you love writing?
I love words and telling stories, plotting a book, discovering the best way to tell a story, writing dialogue, and inventing new characters. But the thing I love best about writing is hearing from readers that what I wrote made them think or feel something. When my stories touch the brain or heart of someone I’ve never met? That’s a great feeling.
About the Author
Michele Bacon writes novel-length fiction for young adults and older adults. When she’s not writing, she’s skiing, playing tabletop games, traveling, or dreaming of travel. She lived in Christchurch, New Zealand for over a year, and is eager to return. Today, Michele lives in Seattle with her partner and three children. She is also the author of Life Before.
Prize: 1 copy of the book (US Only)
Legends of the Lost Causes
by Brad McLelland and Louis Sylvester
Middle Grade Fiction
The first book in a new middle-grade fantasy action-adventure series set in the Old West.
A band of orphan avengers. A cursed stone. A horde of zombie outlaws. This is Keech Blackwood’s new life after Bad Whiskey Nelson descends upon the Home for Lost Causes and burns it to the ground.
With his home destroyed and his family lost, Keech will have to use the lessons he learned from Pa Abner to hunt down the powerful Char Stone. Luckily, he has the help of a ragtag team of orphans. Together, they’ll travel through treacherous forests, fight off the risen dead, and discover that they share mysterious bonds as they try to track down the legendary stone. Now, it’s a race against the clock, because if Bad Whiskey finds the stone first. . . . all is lost.
What made you want to become a writer?
Louis: I love stories. Reading is one of my favorite activities and I try to read for a couple of hours every day. As I read, I discover inspiration for my own stories and characters. I also enjoy playing games, especially role-playing games (RPGs) like Dungeons and Dragons, in which you and a small group of friends create a story together. After enjoying a big adventure, I wanted to share my characters and plots with other people. It didn’t take me long to realize that the best way to share my stories was through writing.
Brad: This might sound silly, but growing up with a novel constantly in my hand, I always enjoyed imagining myself as one of those mythical Authors (capital A) who created the stories I loved. I would read a book and envision my name on the cover, or see my photo on the back of the jacket, and before long I couldn’t contain the desire to see that in real life. So I started writing my own stories, and thanks to the endless support and encouragement of a wonderful mother, I never stopped.
What do you need around you to write (special drink, lucky items, etc)?
Louis: While I enjoy a nice can of Pepsi when I’m writing, what I most require nearby is my copy of Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy. Whenever I feel like I’m stuck or blank, all I need to do is pick up this book, read a page or two, and I find that I’m reinvigorated and ready to write some more.
Brad: I’m a huge sucker for chocolate and coffee — I think those are my lucky charms. If I start a session of writing, I have to make sure I have at least one of those two items on hand. If I don’t, I go for the next best substitute: hot cocoa! (What can I say? I’m a choco-fiend.)
What are some of your favorite books?
Louis: My favorite western books include True Grit by Charles Portis and (as mentioned above) Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy. My favorite fantasy books are The Heroes by Joe Abercrombie and Claire North’s The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August. I grew up loving Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game and Douglas Adam’s hilarious The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Also, anything by Neil Gaiman makes for a wonderful read.
Brad: I grew up absolutely adoring Robert Arthur Jr.’s The Three Investigators series, particularly The Secret of Terror Castle and The Mystery of the Whispering Mummy. Like Louis, I’m also a massive fan of Ender’s Game, and I never grow tired of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series. On the western side, my favorites are True Grit and Lonesome Dove — both being the gold standard, I think, for the western genre.
Are your characters based on anyone you know?
Louis: I think every character is infused with aspects of people I know. But none of our characters are exactly like people in my life.
Brad: I agree with Louis that I can’t pinpoint specific people who our Legends characters are based on. That said, I do find myself from time to time envisioning the faces and hearing the voices of certain childhood buddies while writing our kid characters. For example, I sometimes see the grinning face of my best friend in middle school when I contribute to the character of Sam.
Why do you love writing?
Louis: There is something amazing about witnessing a story growing into life. When you first start working on a story, you think the tale will go a certain way, but as you revise and edit and rewrite, the characters come alive and often demand that the story move in surprising directions. I love the way a story can take me by surprise and I love seeing how a character can come alive on the page.
Brad: As I mentioned before, so much of the passion I have for writing started with my mother. An elementary school teacher for most of my childhood, she personally taught me how to read and write and draw appreciation and strength from stories and storytelling. In fact, I don’t recall a single day of my youth when Mom took a book from my hands and told me to stop reading. So I think my passion for writing came from her desire to grow me into a solid reader. And when I started tinkering with my own stories, she always lifted up my creativity and encouraged me to keep pushing toward my dreams.
About the Authors
Born and raised in Arkansas, Brad McLelland spent several years working as a crime journalist in the South before earning his MFA in creative writing from Oklahoma State University. A part-time drummer and singer, Brad lives in Oklahoma with his wife, stepdaughter, a mini-Aussie who gives hugs, and a chubby cat who begs for ham.
Louis Sylvester is a professor at Lewis-Clark State College in Lewiston, Idaho. He earned his PhD from
Oklahoma State University. He enjoys playing tabletop games from his collection of over 1,000 card and board
games, watching western films, reading fantasy novels, and spending time with his wife and two dogs.
PURCHASE THE BOOK:
Macmillan will give away one copy of the book to one commenter from the US or Canada! Leave a comment letting me know what your fave middle grade books are. Giveaway ends 3/25/18.
Hi yall! I am excited to share with you a fascinating look at one of the world’s most influential figures, explored in depth in a way like never before. This Sunday, CNN will premiere the six part series POPE: The Most Powerful Man in History. Lent is the perfect time to begin watching and learning more about the history of this leader of the Catholic church.
Narrated by Liam Neeson, Pope: The Most Powerful Man in History, is a six-part CNN Original Series that explores how 12 apostles became 1.2 billion Catholics today, linking recent news events surrounding the Vatican with their unexpected origins.
“Ever since a man, claiming to be the Son of God, was nailed to a wooden cross over 2000 years ago, the Catholic religion has had a huge and profound influence and impact on our society,” said Neeson. “As an amateur scholar myself, I was delighted to learn more about this by narrating a series that sheds a detailed light on how the Popes, past and present, and the Catholic Church came to be a prevailing force through fair means and foul, and along the way inspired some of the world’s greatest works of art.”
The series’ debut episode, “The Rise of the Pope,” examines the origins of the papacy and how Catholicism, against all odds, spread throughout Europe. Pope: The Most Powerful Man in History, will premiere Sunday, March 11 on CNN.
History buffs, travel enthusiasts, and anyone who has ever dreamed of visiting (or revisiting) one of the most iconic cities in the world will have a chance to win a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Rome. Inspired by the upcoming television premiere of Pope: The Most Powerful Man In History, contestants can vie for the opportunity to win by visiting the website: www.myvaticanvacation.com. Giveaway begins March 8 and ends on April 15.
The winner of the giveaway will receive the following:
- Airfare and five nights of hotel accommodations for two in Rome.
- A $500 gift card.
- A rare and private tour of The Vatican.
The Vatican is home to some of the greatest works of art including The Pieta, Raphael’s Transfiguration, Leonardo Da Vinci’s St. Jerome In The Wilderness, the statue of Apollo Belvedere, and a painting of The Last Judgement by Michelangelo, located inside The Sistine Chapel. The Sistine Chapel is famous throughout the world as the location where The College of Cardinals from The Roman Catholic Church, meet when a new Pope has to be elected.
In addition, one commenter on this post will win a $25 LifeWay Stores gift card!
Dystopian which releases May 8, 2018! Check out the awesome cover and enter to win an ARC!
to be a big city. Now she’s a teen, and old enough to become a Mama. Making babies is how her people survive—in Jemma’s world, life ends at age seventeen.
The People of Ell Aye
carpentry. He was once shot in the head with a nail gun, which was not a big of a deal as it sounds. But it still hurt like crazy.
I don’t know about you, but every year I try to make sure that my kids get other things besides sugary treats in their Easter baskets. They do end up with a lot of candy of course, because of grandparents who love to indulge them, but as for myself I like to include toys, books, and other little trinkets. Here are a few ideas for non-candy gifts this year.
Every year we have the same dilemma…what to buy the kids for Easter. While there are many different types of Easter Candy available (all that are very delicious) I always like to have a few non-candy gifts to add to the kids Easter Baskets. SmitCo sells a ton of products for kids. So I wanted to highlight a few of their kid jewelry options they have available so you can add a few non- candy gifts to your Easter Baskets. They also have fun journals available too!
This set is made of strong elastic with small and light beads that will fit easily over the heads of kids. Most girls love jewelry so go ahead make her day with this fun non-toxic wooden bead set for kids 2 through 8 year old! (Look for the $1 off coupon)
The necklace and bracelet costume jewelry sets are easy to put on and remove by children because of the elastic and no clasps to fasten which makes it great dress up or play jewelry for girls when they need to change their accessories
This set is super cute and made of strong elastic with small and light beads fitting for kids.
Unlike some other earrings that will make your little girl’s ears become infected, this set is nickel and lead free. which means it is HYPOALLERGENIC and safe for little ears of toddlers and kids. The earrings measure 1/2 inch in length and they are adorable!
Most girls love jewelry so go ahead make her day with this fun non-toxic wooden bead set for kids 2 through 8 years old!
The more you buy, the more you save! Check out these coupons available:
- Save 15% each on bow jewelry set for little girls offered by SmitCo LLC when you purchase 3 or more. Enter code EH3U3P8U at checkout.
- Save 10% each on Bow Jewelry Set For Little Girls offered by SmitCo LLC when you purchase 2 or more. Enter code S9WCJWH3 at checkout.
Candy is always part of Easter baskets but if you need a few non candy gift ideas for Easter baskets, you know they will love jewelry. Plus everything is right around $10!
Ends March 3, 2018 at 1159pm EST
US Residents Only
Something of Substance
by Tia Souders
Expected publication: March 28, 2018
Seventeen-year-old Grace Michaels is determined to be thin, even if she dies trying.
Part of the in-crowd at Providence High, she is steps away from being asked out by the most desired guy at school, winning a prom queen nomination, and her parents’ approval. If she can just get skinny enough, be pretty enough, and popular enough.
But Grace is thin on the outside and fat on the inside. No amount of weight-loss ever seems enough. Convinced the melting pounds will solve her problems, every pound lost brings her closer to her goals. But flesh and bone can only hide the weight of her secret for so long before it kills her.
Fans of the emotional and thought-provoking contemporary YA fiction, such as Before I Fall, Tell Me Three Things, and All The Bright Places will fall in love with Souder’s heart-wrenching novel, SOMETHING OF SUBSTANCE.
I count the days until prom like I count calories. Ninety-eight days. Thirteen hundred calories.
I almost puke at the number.
Thirteen hundred. Maybe. I’m not even sure, which scares me more than the weight of the number.
How could I not keep track? And how could I go over? Do I really have no self-control? If I keep this up, I’ll be right back where I started—fat and unpopular.
My forehead beads with sweat and my fingers twitch, as I glance at my alarm clock—only three a.m. I turn on my side, then get up, knowing there’s no falling back asleep now. Not with all the numbers running through my head. Not with the fat I must’ve stored throughout the night resettling on my thighs like it found its way back home.
I tip-toe away, out of bed, afraid someone might hear me, which is unrealistic since my mother’s snore rivals a bass drum and my father sleeps like the dead. As for my sister, Kelly, she couldn’t care less what I do.
When I come to a stop in front of the full-length mirror on my bedroom door, I don’t even take the time to assess my silhouette in the moonlight. Instead, I lift the soft cotton of my t-shirt. My eyes home in on my ribs, barely visible under a layer of fat, then move to the paunch above the drawstring of my pajama bottoms. I poke at the skin there and grimace at the cushion I find. All I see are the two cookies I ate at Cara’s house last night and I wonder how many calories were in each bite. Fifty? Twenty-five? I have no idea and my ignorance scares me. I had fun and felt too safe, too included. I let those feelings cloud my judgment and lull me, blanket me into false security, where I allowed myself to lose control.
As I lower my shirt, I silently berate myself, then drop to the floor and lie on my back. With closed eyes, I cross my arms over my chest and start sit-ups. I count as I go. One. Two. Three. I do this until the memory of the cookie fades and my abdomen aches. When I can do no more, I stand back up and bend forward in a deep lunge. I ensure my knee touches the ground each time, my legs at perfect ninety-degree angles. Ten laps around my room, I tell myself, then I’ll try and go back to sleep.
I once read sleep burns more calories than lying awake, something about your body recalibrating your metabolism. I don’t buy it. Regardless, there’s no way sleep burns more than lunging, so as my thighs begin to burn and catch fire, I allow the sensation to ease the fluttering in my chest and the rise of bile in my throat.
Right lunge. It will be okay. Left lunge. I’ll be okay.
I won’t gain ten pounds from two cookies.
But I could gain one.
When I finish, slightly sweat-damp and out of breath, but feeling a tiny bit better, I get back under the covers of my bed. Though I’m too hot with the thick comforter pulled up tight under my chin, I leave it there because it will make me sweat. And while perspiring won’t burn excess fat, it might help me lose water weight, giving me the tiniest bit of peace to help me relax into the mattress and slip off into a light slumber.
About the Author
Tia Souders is the author of bestselling women’s fiction novel, Waiting On Hope and the upcoming award-winning young adult novel Better Than This (formerly titled Freedom Road). When she isn’t writing, she’s likely renovating their century home. She’s a wine-loving, coffeeholic, with a sweet tooth and resides on a farm in rural Ohio with her husband and children.
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