Guest Blog Post | Sarah Lemon’s Inspiration for Done Dirt Cheap

Sarah Lemon has momentarily put down her motorcycle to talk to us about the journey that brought her to write her debut novel: Done Dirt Cheap.

Take it away Sarah!

Done Dirt Cheap Inspiration

Writing at times feels like a superpower, unwieldy in my hands, not something I’m fully in control of, but a power that lets me raise my fingers and pull fragments of my world together into something new and beautiful. I can point to shards of glinting glass in the whole and talk about how that piece came to be. Done Dirt Cheap came from many places in my life and history. But for today, I want to tell you how it almost never happened.

There’s an unspoken rule in Art: Don’t talk about how much you suck, your fear, or how tenuous it feels. Unless it’s in a self-deprecating show of humility as someone is handing you the Pulitzer.

It’s part of success—the sheen of it, like a rainbow slick of oil on water.

But I’m not always great with rules and clear water is better than oil.

Done Dirt Cheap only happened because of a lesson I had learned a long time ago, on the back of a monster dirt-bike, on which I couldn’t touch the ground even when I pointed my toes.

I was fourteen, living in a part of the world that was only valuable for its minerals. My landscape had been stripped, clawed at, dug under and left behind as garbage. Our groundwater was tainted. Our basements full of radiation. Our streams clogged with weird foams and slick spools of dark muck. We had dug too deep and a darkness hung over everything.

In the strip mines, I found a place I could breathe. In those raped and forgotten places I could string together forty or more miles of new life. The landscape would rise and fight with me, and together we wouldn’t be forgotten girl and forgotten land, but two things who were still alive and able to grasp at our fate. It brutalised me to make me. I was in every way, an average, bookish, fourteen-year-old girl with a fear so strong it came out as teeth. But out in the mines, I was free of that skin. I could fly. I could see a line and fight my way to the end. I could fall, pitch over the handlebars, run my bike up a tree, flip end over end and still stand, pick up the bike, and begin again. Just writing this, fifteen years later, I can still feel the pump in my arms from wrestling the dirt-bike on the thin threads of trails that wound around deep, sentient holes of green water, cone mountains of slag and silt, and grated air shafts leading into the abyss.

“Treskow” was a route we took often—named after the tiny old mining town it began in. We rode through the woods, along an old railroad bed with no tracks, before dropping down a slippery rock covered mountain into an uninhabited valley. I would drag my back brake the whole way down, my teeth chattering from the rocks. But the real challenge was at the end of the mud-holed valley. We always stopped and craned our necks at the steep switchback of the mountain ahead. It made me sick to look at it, every time. By that point, there was no way to get home and no way to give up. I wanted to be there, but hadn’t known how terrifying it was going to be. Every time.

When I started Done Dirt Cheap, that’s where I was – at the bottom of a giant switchback, too far from home and looking up at the power lines humming between transformers while everyone else sped ahead of me.

In those tenuous moments where you are balancing on the edge of failure, the natural desire is to hold back. You think “Oh I’ll go slow and easy and pick my way up.” But in slippy slag and miles of steep switchbacks, you simply will run out of power. Each switchback has to be hit hard and powered through, or you’ll never make it to the top. There is no easing through the terrain.  Manoeuvre swiftly or you’ll pitch over the edge. So, with this book, I was miles deep into publishing terrain. I had failed a lot. I had dragged my back brake down the mountain and even though, yes, I was out there, I was at the back of the crowd, wishing I was at home. Uncertain I could actually do this.

Looking ahead, I wanted nothing more than to go slow and safe. Something sure. But I had been here before. I knew what held me back was fear.  This was the moment in riding where you have to pin back that throttle and ride with your jaw tight and your stomach in your throat.

So, I did.

Lord, I did.

And just like in riding, I prayed and held on and hoped for the best. With Done Dirt Cheap, I somehow popped over the top of that switchback with the valley below me and the sky above. I’m further than I ever expected to be.

Further, but with miles to go. I know the trail still—how it winds over the ridge before dropping down again and then taking me through another technical mountain crossing. I’m leaning over the gas tank, holding the throttle back. The wind is whipping my hair and I taste elation, panic, and dust in my mouth. All I can do is hope the trail keeps up with me, and I keep up with the trail.

Ride or die. Write or die.

P.S. Please buy my book.

Done Dirt Cheap by Sarah Lemon is on sale 7th March 2017. Order your copy here.

Done Dirt Cheap
Image by Kate Ormand

RoseBlood Ball | Q&A with A.G Howard

RoseBloodBall Event

On 12th January we hosted a #RoseBloodBall with A.G Howard (in digital form) and an audience of magnificent bloggers. The highlight of the evening was (google) hanging out with A.G Howard. We were able to ask all the questions we’ve been dying to pose; questions about RoseBlood, her writing style and even which character she would take to prom!

The questions were so good we couldn’t keep the answers to ourselves, so here, friends, are all the questions and answers from our gothic evening of frivolity. Plus some of our favourite snaps!

Q: As I am a huge musical fan I’d love to know if there are any other theatre shows (whether based on a book or not), she would like to adapt or take as inspiration for a future book/series?

A: I’ve considered all of these: Les Miserables, Moulin Rouge and Sweeney Todd

Did you get any Phantom of the Opera songs stuck in your head while you were writing RoseBlood?

No. But I do use music to get in the mind-set of a book. I create Spotify playlists for my books, even ones I’ve not started writing yet. You can listen to them here.

Q: What inspired you to write a Phantom of the Opera retelling?

A: I’ve always been intrigued by the anti-hero, and contemplated a Phantom retelling even before I wrote Splintered. I’d seen other adaptations of The Phantom of the Opera — a lot of them actually — and one prequel that I adored (Phantom by Susan Kay) but not many spinoffs or continuations. Like Splintered, I knew I wanted to make it modern and contemporary to set it apart, while still retaining the elements of the original (gothic in this case). All I needed was a way to explain the Phantom’s longevity…how he had survived so many years. Once I figured that out, I was ready to give Erik a modern stage on which to perform to see what horrors he might stir up.

Q: You’ve created a marvellous adaptation of Alice in Wonderland and now Phantom of the Opera, what’s next on the agenda?

A: A gothic retelling / adaptation of a fairy tale which will take me back to my fantasy roots, with strange creatures and magic in an alternate fairy tale universe. But that’s all I can say about it for now.

RoseBlood Ball

Q: What is your favourite opera?

A: Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom of the Opera.

Q: What is your favourite song from Phantom of the Opera?

A: My favourite song is The Music of the Night

Q: Have you watched the Phantom of the Opera in theatre?

A: In Las Vegas.

Q: Do you like to sing, and do you have any particular favourite songs you sing in the shower/kitchen/etc.?

A: I have a terrible voice! Haha. But I do like to make playlists for all my books and sometimes those songs make it into my shower performances.

Q: How do you create your characters? Do you fully plan them out at the start or let them emerge as you’re writing?

A: They’re fully planned out. For each book I write, that’s the most important preparation. It’s crucial that I intimately know the stars of the story before starting the journey, because I write organically and they’re going to be my guides.

Q: What do you love about Rune and Thorn?

A: The fact that they are both very loyal.

Q: What annoys you about them?

A: That it takes them so long to kiss the first time.

Q: What was your favourite scene to write between them and why?

A: The rooftop scene. It’s romantic, and also because it’s when they first see one another face to face and start working together to figure things out. I knew I would have this scene in the book before I started writing because this was always my favourite scene in the movie.

RoseBloodBall games

Q: Are there any other fairytales you’d be interested in reimagining?

A: Yes, many. Beauty and the Beast, Sleeping Beauty, Rapunzel (although it would be hard to top Disney’s Tangled), just to name a few. I’m also interested in more Classical retellings, like Jekyll and Hyde, A Midsummer’s Night Dream and more. 

Q: Did you go to boarding school?

A: No, but I did go to a Christian private school where we had to wear uniforms like Rune in RoseBlood. My parents worked at the school and at weekends we had to pitch-in to help clean! My brother convinced me that there was a monster living under the stage in the cafeteria – something that has definitely impacted my writing!

Q: Will you ever come to tour the UK?

A: I would love to! If I can ever save up enough money. I have two kids in college, so it might be a while! Haha.

Pin the mask on Rune

Q: What was it like writing a reimagining of Alice in Wonderland then jumping into a reimagining of Phantom of the Opera? These are two very different stories with very different vibes to them (Alice is very surreal while Phantom is quite gothic).

A: As you pointed out, I had to adjust my mood for this book. Where my Wonderland series is based on what has often been considered a children’s story, RoseBlood is based on The Phantom of the Opera — a romantic horror/ drama about the obsession to be accepted and loved, and unrequited passion turned to madness. RoseBlood is also very character-driven, as opposed to plot-driven, which makes it a slower, more mysterious unwinding of twists and turns than the Splintered books. There aren’t any *whimsical* underpinnings in this one. Instead, it’s darkly romantic and gothic with subtle elements of horror, and the relationships involve more tortured/complex depths.

Q: Why do you think reimagines of fairy tales and well-known/loved stories are so popular now?

A: I think, for one, because dark fairy tales provide a perfect archetype for coming-of-age elements. First, there’s a young heroine (in some cases, hero, but for my answer, we’ll stick with the female lead character) – either troubled, or spoiled like a princess – who needs a quest so she can find her place in the world, become strong enough to face her troubles, and leave the diva days behind. Then there’s the hero (prince), or in some cases, anti-heroes, who will accompany/guide/confuse our heroine on her journey to self-realisation. Fairy tales often teach life lessons in subtle ways, and when drenched in darkness, the lessons become even less obvious, but leave more of a visceral imprint. And let’s not discount the adventure aspect. Fairy tales take place either in a far off land or an alternate earth – and offer an eccentric bevy of secondary characters who help or hinder along the way – which provides the temporary escapism we all need from the very real monsters of everyday life. Our generation is hyper-aware of violence and tragedy due to disturbing images of terrorism, war scenes, and random shootings, etc… touted by the media day in and day out. So it stands to reason that we’d be drawn to The Brothers Grimm Fairy Tales and Hans Christian Anderson versions, which both cater to the idea that “real life isn’t always pretty, so why should fairy tales be?

RoseBloodBall attendees

Our favourite questions from Twitter:

Q: With which of your characters would you have gone to prom when you where young?

A: Morpheus, because how fun would it be to dance with someone who could fly you to the stars? (Who doesn’t love a bad boy!)

Q: What type of mask would you wear for the #RoseBloodBall? And what colour?

A.G Howard Mask

A: One like this, but in purple and red.

Q: There are some beautifully dark scenes in RoseBlood. Is it hard to get in the mindset to write those?

A: It wasn’t hard for me because I use my playlists to help me and I already have a dark imagination!

 

Thank you ‏@zarinatweets@dani_reviews@powisamy@book_throne@PewterWolf13@TinaMories,  @HellYes82@bethanycrandell and @agustinazanelli for your brilliant questions!

The Romantics by Leah Konen | Preview

The Romantics

 

this book is dedicated to all the
romantics out there, you know who you are.
never stop believing.
(the rest of us depend on your optimism.)

 

Introducing Leah Konen’s new  book; The Romantics, the perfect read for fans of Lauren Myracle and Rainbow Rowell.

Gael Brennan is about to have his heart broken when his first big relationship crumbles on the heels of his parents’ painful separation. Love intervenes with the intention of setting things right—but she doesn’t anticipate the intrusion of her dreaded nemesis: the Rebound. Love’s plans for Gael are sidetracked by Cara, Gael’s hot-sauce-wielding “dream girl.” The more Love meddles, the further Gael drifts from the one girl who can help him mend his heart. Soon Love starts breaking all her own rules—and in order to set Gael’s fate back on course, she has to make some tough decisions about what it means to truly care.

This witty, heartwarming new YA is a must for romantics, hopeless and hapless, read the first chapter today.

Click here to read an extract from The Romantics.

The Romantics by Leah Konen • Abrams Books • £11.99 • Hardcover with Jacket • 1st November 2016

The Romantics

12 YA Must-Reads from 2016

The last two months of 2016 are crawling into view and as the end of the year dawns upon us we’re taking a look back at some of the amazing YA titles we’ve had through our doors this year. From The Cure for Dreaming by Cat Winters to The Romantics by Leah Konen, 2016 has been a bumper year for A&CB YA.

Have you missed any? Here is a round-up of our favourite 2016 titles; ready for your Christmas Wishlist!

The Cure for Dreaming Cat Winters

The Cure for Dreaming by Cat Winters

‘The book is a timely reminder that political equality of is hard fought for and hard fought against…’ – SFX Magazine

“With great imagination, an interesting twist, historical photographs, and a fresh voice, Cat Winters is a true talent to be celebrated. Whatever this author writes, I want!” – Kate Ormand

It’s 1900 in Oregon, and Olivia’s father, concerned that she’s headed for trouble, convinces a stage mesmerist to try to hypnotise the rebellion out of her. But the hypnotist, an intriguing young man named Henri Reverie, gives her a terrible gift instead: she’s able to see people’s true natures, manifesting as visions of darkness and goodness, while also unable to speak her true thoughts out loud. These supernatural challenges only make Olivia more determined to speak her mind and so she’s drawn into a dangerous relationship with the hypnotist and his mysterious motives, all while secretly fighting for the rights of women.

Iron Cast

Iron Cast by Destiny Soria

It’s Boston, 1919, and the Cast Iron club is packed. On stage, hemopaths—those “afflicted” with the ability to create illusions through art—captivate their audience. Corinne and Ada have been best friends ever since infamous gangster Johnny Dervish recruited them into his circle. By night they perform for Johnny’s crowds, and by day they con Boston’s elite. When a job goes wrong and Ada is imprisoned, she realises how precarious their position is. After she escapes, two of the Cast Iron’s hires are shot and Johnny disappears. With the law closing in, Corinne and Ada are forced to hunt for answers, even as betrayal faces them at every turn. An ideal next read for fans of Libba Bray’s The Diviners.

Devil and the Bluebird

The Devil and the Bluebird by Jennifer Mason-Black

“Devil and the Bluebird is smart, quirky, beautifully written and full of wisdom.” Rhino Reads

“Soothing and lyrical, this might be the most optimistic book you’ll read this year.” SFX Magazine

Blue Riley has wrestled with her own demons ever since the loss of her mother to cancer. But when she encounters a beautiful devil at her town crossroads, it’s her runaway sister’s soul she fights to save. The devil steals Blue’s voice—inherited from her musically gifted mother—in exchange for a single shot at finding Cass. Armed with her mother’s guitar, a knapsack of cherished mementos, and a pair of magical boots, Blue journeys west in search of her sister. When the devil changes the terms of their deal, Blue must reevaluate her understanding of good and evil and open herself up to finding family in unexpected places. In Devil and the Bluebird, Jennifer Mason-Black delivers a captivating depiction of loss and hope.

One Thing Stolen

One Thing Stolen by Beth Kephart

“One Thing Stolen is a really beautiful and poignant book, with a great look at a rare neurological disorder. I loved it.” Once Upon a Bookcase Blog

Something is not right with Nadia Cara. While spending a year in Florence, Italy, she’s become a thief. She has secrets. And when she tries to speak, the words seem far away. Nadia finds herself trapped by her own obsessions and following the trail of an elusive Italian boy whom only she has seen. Can Nadia be rescued or will she simply lose herself altogether?

Set against the backdrop of a glimmering city, One Thing Stolen is an exploration of obsession, art, and a rare neurological disorder. It is also a celebration of language, beauty, imagination, and the salvation of love.

The Movie Version

The Movie Version by Emma Wunsch

The only thing sixteen-year-old Amelia Anderson loves more than movies is her older brother, Toby, a larger-than-life force, as popular with the cheerleaders as with the stoners. Amelia, on the other hand, is addicted to Netflix and afraid to drive. But she doesn’t mind. She’s happy playing the sidekick in the movie version of Toby’s life. But when a devastating event takes Toby out of the picture, Amelia’s left without a star. Ready or not, she has to step into her own spotlight. It’s time to get out of her head, get off of Netflix, and get behind the camera—and the wheel.

This whip-smart, heart-wrenching debut YA novel about first love, first loss, and filmmaking will delight fans of Jandy Nelson and Jennifer Niven.

The Edge of Gone

On The Edge of Gone by Corinne Duyvis

“One of the best apocalyptic thrillers, and certainly one of the most character centred, in years.” Starburst Magazine

“Utterly superb” SFX magazine

“Read this book. Please. Because it’s brilliant, *and* you might learn something in the process.” Jax Blunt, Liveotherwise

A thrilling, thought-provoking novel from one of young-adult literature’s boldest new talents. January 29, 2035. That’s the day the comet is scheduled to hit—the big one. Denise and her mother and sister, Iris, have been assigned to a temporary shelter outside their hometown of Amsterdam to wait out the blast, but Iris is nowhere to be found and at the rate Denise’s drug-addicted mother is going, they’ll never reach the shelter in time. A last-minute meeting leads them to something better than a temporary shelter—a generation ship, scheduled to leave Earth behind to colonize new worlds after the comet hits. But everyone on the ship has been chosen because of their usefulness. Denise is autistic and fears that she’ll never be allowed to stay. Can she obtain a spot before the ship takes flight? What about her mother and sister? When the future of the human race is at stake, whose lives matter most?

This is the Story of You

This is the Story of You by Beth Kephard

On Haven, a six-mile long, half-mile-wide stretch of barrier island, Mira Banul and her Year-Rounder friends have proudly risen to every challenge. But then a superstorm defies all predictions and devastates the island, upending all logic and stranding Mira’s mother and brother on the mainland. Nothing will ever be the same. A stranger appears in the wreck of Mira’s home. A friend obsessed with vanishing disappears. As the mysteries deepen, Mira must find the strength to carry on-to somehow hold her memories in place while learning to trust a radically reinvented future. Gripping and poetic, This Is the Story of You is about the beauty of nature and the power of family, about finding hope in the wake of tragedy and recovery in the face of overwhelming loss.

Every Falling Star

Every Falling Star by Sungju Lee & Susan McCleelland

“Lee’s story is beautiful, even though it’s hard-hitting and eye-opening.” - The Whispering of the Pages

“It’s a visceral and breathtaking account of hardship, injustice, violence, hunger and raw survival so extreme that readers in the UK (especially those already familiar with the dystopian landscapes imagined by James Dashner, Michael Grant et al) might find it barely credible … ultimately, this is not so much a story about suffering, as one that underlines the importance of hope, love, friendship and family for all of us as human beings.” - Teach Secondary

Every Falling Star, the first book to portray contemporary North Korea to a young audience, is the intense memoir of a North Korean boy named Sungju who was forced at age twelve to live on the streets and fend for himself. To survive, Sungju creates a gang and lives by thieving, fighting, begging, and stealing rides on cargo trains. Sungju richly recreates his scabrous story, depicting what it was like for a boy alone to create a new family with his gang, “his brothers,” to daily be hungry and to fear arrest, imprisonment, and even execution. This riveting memoir allows young readers to learn about other cultures where freedoms they take for granted do not exist.

The Steep and Thorny Way

The Steep & Thorny Way by Cat Winters

“Cat is a master in creating strong heroines and Hanalee is no exception.” – The Daily Prophecy

“It was a beautiful book. With a beautiful story. I couldn’t have loved it more than I did. The Steep and Thorny Way is one of a kind.” – Carina Olsen

A thrilling reimagining of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, The Steep and Thorny Way tells the story of a murder most foul and the mighty power of love and acceptance in a state gone terribly rotten. 1920s Oregon is not a welcoming place for Hanalee Denney, the daughter of a white woman and an African-American man. She has almost no rights by law, and the Ku Klux Klan breeds fear and hatred in even Hanalee’s oldest friendships. Plus, her father, Hank Denney, died a year ago, hit by a drunk-driving teenager. Now her father’s killer is out of jail and back in town, and he claims that Hanalee’s father wasn’t killed by the accident at all but, instead, was poisoned by the doctor who looked after him—who happens to be Hanalee’s new stepfather. The only way for Hanalee to get the answers she needs is to ask Hank himself, a “haint” wandering the roads at night.

Worlds of Ink and Shadow

Worlds of Ink and Shadow: A Novel of the Brontës by Lena Coakley

“This fantastic novel looks at the isolated lives of the Brontë children, cleverly combining fact with fiction. Each chapter is told from an alternate point of view, allowing insight into each character’s driving force, as well as exploring the creative beginnings of their literary masterpieces. It is a fascinating and heart-breaking read.” BookTrust

Charlotte, Branwell, Emily and Anne. The Brontë siblings have always been inseparable. After all, nothing can bond four siblings quite like life in an isolated parsonage out on the moors. Their vivid imaginations lend them escape from their strict upbringing, transporting them into the glittering world of Verdopolis and the romantic and melancholy Gondal. As they grow older, the children realise that not only are they imagining these glorious places, they are also truly crossing over, as both inhabitants and creators. When one imagined character, the Earl of Northangerland, follows Emily back home, Emily becomes caught up in a tortured romance with him, and it is only when Anne disappears that Charlotte realises she and her siblings must get to the bottom of their abilities in order to save Anne and possibly themselves. Gorgeously written and meticulously researched, Worlds of Ink and Shadow brings to life the upbringing of one of history’s most celebrated literary families.

The Romantics

The Romantics by Leah Konen

Perfect for fans of Lauren Myracle and Rainbow Rowell, The Romantics will charm readers of all ages. Gael Brennan is about to have his heart broken when his first big relationship crumbles on the heels of his parents’ painful separation. Love intervenes with the intention of setting things right—but she doesn’t anticipate the intrusion of her dreaded nemesis: the Rebound. Love’s plans for Gael are sidetracked by Cara, Gael’s hot-sauce-wielding “dream girl.” The more Love meddles, the further Gael drifts from the one girl who can help him mend his heart. Soon Love starts breaking all her own rules—and in order to set Gael’s fate back on course, she has to make some tough decisions about what it means to truly care.

Seven Ways We Lie

 “Seven Ways We Lie is a superb contemporary YA read, touching upon many different issues facing young people today and with a diverse cast of characters. It’s clever, gripping and hugely relatable, making it not only fun novel for today’s teens but also a very important one.” – Page to Stage Reviews

“I love the way their stories intertwined” – Snuggling on the Sofa, Blog

Seven Ways We Lie by Riley Redgate

In Seven Ways We Lie, a chance encounter tangles the lives of seven high school students, each resisting the allure of one of the seven deadly sins, and each telling their story from their seven distinct points of view. The juniors at Paloma High School all have their secrets, whether it’s the thespian who hides her trust issues onstage, the closeted pansexual who only cares about his drug-dealing profits, or the neurotic genius who’s planted the seed of a school scandal. But it’s Juniper Kipling who has the furthest to fall. No one would argue that Juniper—obedient daughter, salutatorian, natural beauty, and loyal friend—is anything but perfect. Everyone knows she’s a saint, not a sinner; but when love is involved, who is Juniper to resist temptation? When she begins to crave more and more of the one person she can’t have, her charmed life starts to unravel.

Then rumors of a student–teacher affair hit the fan. After Juniper accidentally exposes her secret at a party, her fate falls into the hands of the other six sinners, bringing them into one another’s orbits. All seven are guilty of something. Together, they could save one another from their temptations—or be ruined by them.

Riley Redgate’s twisty YA debut effortlessly weaves humor, heartbreak, and redemption into a drama that fans of Jenny Han and Stephanie Perkins will adore.


 

What is your favourite A&CB YA from 2016? Vote for yours @ACBYA #ACBfavs.

Literary Heroines | The Michaela MacColl Collection

Michaela MacColl

This week Michaela MacColl’s latest YA masterpiece; Secrets in the Snowwas released: to celebrate we are here to take a look at her library of literary heroines. From Louisa May Alcott to Emily Dickens, MacColl has brought our favourite authors to life with fictionalised stories based on their real lives.

The Revelation of Louisa May

The Revelation of Louisa May: A Novel of Intrigue and Romance

Louisa May Alcott can’t believe it—her mother is leaving for the summer to earn money for the family and Louisa is to be in charge of the household. How will she find the time to write her stories, much less have any adventures of her own? But before long, Louisa finds herself juggling her temperamental father, a mysterious murder, a fugitive seeking refuge along the Underground Railroad and blossoming love.
Intertwining fact, fiction and quotes from Little Women, Michaela MacColl has crafted another plucky heroine whose story will keep readers turning pages until the very end.

The Revelation of Louisa May

Always Emily

Always Emily

Emily and Charlotte Brontë are as opposite as two sisters can be, but they have one thing in common: a love of writing. Can they use their imaginations to determine the connection between the mysterious death of a neighbour and the appearance of a handsome stranger? And will Emily find love along the way?

Always Emily

Nobody's Secret

Nobody’s Secret

When fifteen-year-old Emily Dickinson meets a mysterious, hand¬some young man who doesn’t seem to know who she or her family is and playfully refuses to divulge his name, she’s intrigued. She enjoys her secret flirtation with “Mr. Nobody”—until he turns up dead in her family’s pond. She’s stricken with guilt and is deter¬mined to discover who this enigmatic stranger was before he’s buried in an anonymous grave, an investigation that takes her deep into town secrets, blossoming romance, and deadly danger. A celebration of Emily Dickinson’s intellect and spunk, this exquisitely written and meticulously researched page-turner will excite fans of mystery, romance and poetry alike.

Secrets In The Snow

Secrets In the Snow 

Jane Austen‘s family is eager to secure her future by marrying her off. But Jane is much more interested in writing her novels, and finds every suitor lacking—until the mysterious Mr. Lefroy arrives. Could he be the one? Before Jane can find out, she must solve a murder, clear her family’s name and face a decision that might cost her true love.

Have you got a favourite? Share it with us @ACBYA #MichaelaMacColl.

Iron Cast by Destiny Soria | Preview

Do you love Libba Bray’s The Diviners?  Then we have the perfect book for you…

Iron Cast

It’s Boston, 1919, and the Cast Iron club is packed. On stage, hemopaths—whose “afflicted” blood gives them the ability to create illusions through art—Corinne and Ada have been best friends ever since infamous gangster Johnny Dervish recruited them into his circle. By night they perform for Johnny’s crowds, and by day they con Boston’s elite. When a job goes wrong and Ada is imprisoned, she realises how precarious their position is. After she escapes, two of the Cast Iron’s hires are shot, and Johnny disappears. With the law closing in, Corinne and Ada are forced to hunt for answers, even as betrayal faces them at every turn…

Destiny Soria’s debut Iron Cast is out 11th October, whet your appetite; Read the first chapter here.

Every Falling Star | Chapter Preview

Every Falling Star

Every Falling Star: The True Story of How I Survived and Escaped North Korea

This is one of those books where fact is stranger than fiction. The world drawn in these pages; the violence, the hunger, the friendship, feel too dark, too deep and too harrowing to be real. But real the experiences are.

Every Falling Star, the first book to portray contemporary North Korea to a young audience, is the intense memoir of a North Korean boy named Sungju who was forced at age twelve to live on the streets and fend for himself. To survive, Sungju creates a gang and lives by thieving, fighting, begging and stealing rides on cargo trains. Sungju richly recreates his scabrous story, depicting what it was like for a boy alone to create a new family with his gang, “his brothers,” to daily be hungry and to fear arrest, imprisonment, and even execution. This riveting memoir allows young readers to learn about other cultures where freedoms they take for granted do not exist.

Read the first chapter of this arresting memoir here.

Out this September, pre-order yours today.

#SummerReads | Author Suggestions Part 3

Share a picture of your TBR pile!

The wonderful Jennifer Mason-Black is here to give us an amazing array of #SummerReads suggestions. There is a little something for everyone, from Watership Down to American Girls 

Which one will you pick? Join the conversation using #ACBbooks.

Take it away Jennifer…

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Watership Down by Richard Adams

I have a passion for epics, though, paradoxically, less so for traditional epic fantasy. This story, with its amazing world building, friendship, and heroism, is one I return to repeatedly. I first experienced it as a child, when my dad read it aloud to me. I still have the same tattered copy.

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The Killer In Me by Margot Harrison

Out in July, this debut novel is masterfully crafted. Less a mystery than classic noir with a modern facelift, it is dark, character rich, and imbued with a sense of place that had the hot desert air of the Southwest blowing through  my chilly New England home.

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The May Queen Murders by Sarah Jude

Again, a novel with a tremendous sense of place. If I’m going to be on the beach, I very rarely want to be reading about the beach. I want to be transported elsewhere, and this story of secrets and murder had me on location in the Ozarks. Please note that this is a DARK read. Proceed at your own risk.

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Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

A story that held me in its palm from beginning to end. More friendship, more heroism, facing the unfaceable. The kind of book I wish had been around when I was the YA target audience.

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American Girls by Alison Umminger

This is one of those books that keeps you up all night. The voice of the main character is truly that compelling. And L.A. itself feels like the obvious summer read backdrop: hot, sunny, and full of illusion.

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The Devil and the Bluebird

Jennifer Mason-Black’s debut novel: Devil and the Bluebird, came out in May. You can read the first chapter here.

A&CB Book Club | July 2016

Hi book lovers,

July has rolled in amidst rain-showers and Brexit. But we refuse to let that damped our spirits! We are spreading the #JoyOfReading with #SummerReads quizzes and giveaways. In that vein, your July reading challenge is to pick-up a YA novel you have been dying to read. Can’t pick one? Take a peek at our YA list.

The A&CB team laboured over their pick, but we finally decided on The Cure For Dreaming by Cat Winters.

The Cure for Dreaming

“I feel like you should all read and love The Cure for Dreaming. Because it was honestly a perfect book. The writing is gorgeous. Which I knew it would be. And the story is full of heart and so perfect. And the characters. Sigh. Cat is amazing at writing characters that I fall in love with.” Five Star review, Carina Olsen – blogger

“The ending was bittersweet, it made me feel both sad and hopeful. All in all, The Cure for Dreaming was a deliciously compelling read full of atmosphere and allure.” The Page Turner

“For those of you wanting to fall in love with reading again, this is certainly the book for you. There is nothing that keeps you glued to the pages quite so strongly as injustice and a small group of people who rally against it, which this book has in spades. Try as I might to find fault with the story, I was unable to, so it would be completely unfair to judge this book to be anything other than a five out of five and a must-read.” 5* review on The Bookbag

”The Cure for Dreaming proves the potential, relevance, and importance of YA fiction. It’s entertaining, educational and mystical. YA naysayers may have just met their match.” Starburst Magazine

“With great imagination, an interesting twist, historical photographs, and a fresh voice, Cat Winters is a true talent to be celebrated. Whatever this author writes, I want!” Kate Ormand, author

After this, there is no more doubt: Cat Winters is an unstoppable literary force. She does her research, she combines fact with simply marvelous fiction, she touches our hearts and somehow teaches us all a valuable lesson in the process. What more could we possibly want?” The Nocturnal Library

“A truly mesmerising read, this is one you won’t want to miss out on!” Opinionatedcupcakes, blogger

“The book is a timely reminder that political equality of is hard fought for and hard fought against…” – SFX Magazine

“Olivia is everything you could ask for in a character” The Daily Prophecy, blog

Also available from Cat Winters:

The Steep & Thorny Way and In The Shadow of Blackbirds.

More from Cat Winters

Let us know what you pick using #ACBookClub.

PLUS! Join us at @ACBYA for more #SummerReads fun. We are bursting at the seams with bookish quizzes, recommendations and giveaways.