Blog Tour Review: Leading Lines by Chantel Guertin

Leading Lines by Chantel Guertin.

Pippa Greene #3.
Published: October 13, 2015.
Published by: ECW Press.
Source: Received from the publisher for review for the blog tour. Thanks, ECW!

Goodreads Synopsis:
“You’ll fall in love with this genuine young heroine.” -- Best Health

After two drama-filled weeks in Manhattan, Pippa Greene is back. Despite a romantic reunion with boyfriend Dylan, she can’t seem to shake the emotional aftermath of New York. As she navigates parental drama at home and her charged dynamic with Ben Baxter at school, Pippa finds that Dylan is more wrapped up in his post-high-school life of bands, shows, and new friends than in their relationship. Will it survive?

Written with the same humour and heart that made Chantel Guertin’s first two Pippa Greene novels instant favourites, Leading Lines offers a fresh and charming perspective on friendships, family, and first love.

My Review:

Pippa Greene is back, indeed, and bringing some new struggles with her.

Leading Lines is the third installment in Guertin's series about young photographer Pippa Greene and is full of the same kind of realistic moments and, as the synopsis claims, humour and heart that the first two books did so well.

One thing that Guertin really shines at is the way she writes relationships -- both familial and romantic -- and both of those came through strongly and were very well crafted in this story. As of the beginning of Leading Lines, Pippa has discovered a lot about the previously unknown dynamics of her family. Following that, Pippa has to further deal with her grief over losing her father as she takes on some photography assignments rooted in the past, as well as having to confront her feelings towards the surprise addition to her family circle and those towards her mother for having kept such a big secret. As before, these family relationships are thoughtful and touching while still maintaining enough drama to keep them interesting enough to be worthy of a novel.

The romantic ups and downs that Pippa goes through with her boyfriend Dylan upon their post-winter break reunion, after all the time spent rooting for them to get together in the past books, actually got a little hard for me to read at times because of how true to young relationships it felt. I saw so much of the personal conflicts and questions as well as the interpersonal issues that came up in my own young relationships come up between Pippa and Dylan as they try to figure out if they can grow together as they each grow on their own as individuals. I really appreciated the way Guertin not only made these issues feel so genuine but also that she gave them the weight they deserve in the story because these are things that really do hold significant weight in a young woman's life. Pippa and Dylan's relationship struggles were never depicted as juvenile in a negative way, even while Guertin maintained the true "teenager feel" of the characters, which was a great balance. One thing I also thought was interesting was that Guertin didn't take the romance where I thought she would, which was great in that it was a surprise, but was still a bit of a bummer for me because I was interested in where I thought it was going (and yes, I'm trying to remain spoiler-free here).

Other than that, as seems to be consistently the case with these novels, my only real complaint is that there isn't a great deal of excitement that goes on over the course of the story. This isn't a flaw in the books, because it isn't that there's a lack of story here. I think it's more that this is a more "domestic," if you will, storyline than what I normally choose to read and so it doesn't live up to some of the larger scale novels I spend more time with. But family dynamics are something that readers have been loud about asking for, and this series is very strong when it comes to that. It absolutely has its audience, and though I don't fit into that audience 100%, I still definitely enjoy the novels.

In all, Leading Lines is a great follow-up to the previous two Pippa Greene novels and takes her story deeper into her personal life and into her genuine love for her family, her friends, and her photography. As usual, I also of course appreciate the photographic reference in the title and the weaving into the narrative of the photography terms and techniques. These novels remain relatable and sweet and are a great read for anyone looking for dynamic and honest relationships in their YA fiction.

Follow the blog tour:

September 5: Tour kickoff, Review, and Giveaway, Booking it with Hayley G
September 6: Giveaway, Chapter by Chapter
September 7: Review, Books Etc
September 8: Review, Read My Breath Away
September 9: Review, One More Page Reviews
September 10: Review, Sukasa Reads
September 11: Guest Post, Dear Teen Me
September 12: Review and Excerpt, Brains, Books, and Brawn
September 13: Review, Musings of a Writer
September 14: Review, Ramblings of a Daydreamer
September 15: Review and Giveaway, The Book Bratz


Author Interview: Taryn Scarlett, of the Sin & Honey Series

Today I'm interviewing an author who takes us away a little from the kind of story that's usually featured on this blog. Through my blogging partnership with Paper Lantern Lit I learned about a series of novellas they're releasing that is their first adult work and I have some info on the series straight from the author.

First, here's a bit about the newest novella in the series:

For the Love of the Enemy by Taryn Scarlett

Sin & Honey #3
Published: September 1, 2015.
Published by: The Studio by Paper Lantern Lit.

Since the first day he saw her, he had been waiting for an opportunity to seduce her. –Judith 12:17

Judith fought for justice.

Bagoas reasoned for peace.

Holofernes thirsted for blood.

In this third Sin & Honey novella, Taryn Scarlett explores the provocative story of Judith, a woman tormented by the war in her country—and the war in her heart.

A young widow living in devastated country, Judith is forced to watch as the ferocious Assyrian general Holofernes slaughters her people. Desperate to save her family, she decides to take matters into her own hands: she will seduce the general and get into his bed—where she can kill him, and end the war.

But once Judith steals into enemy territory masquerading as an Israeli defector, she meets Bagoas, a soldier on a mission for peace. Aroused by his honor, Judith has a terrifying choice to make: let her people suffer and die, or sacrifice true love for the greater good.

Now, welcome Taryn Scarlett to the blog!

Jess: Hi Taryn, thanks for joining me! 
First off, I must admit to being curious: what draws you to writing erotic romance?
Taryn: I've always been drawn to the romantic aspects of books and movies, even from a very young age. I remember watching Phantom of the Opera, the musical, when I was only 4 years-old, and being utterly captivated by the passion and drama of that dark romance. I grew up reading Little Women, Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice—some of my first 'ships' were couples from those books! (Jo and Professor Bhaer 4ever.) Writing romance has always made sense to me, and romance READERS are some of the most supportive and passionate in the industry. It's a community I'm proud to be a part of!

J: What prompted the use of the bible stories as inspiration for this series?
T: I read The Red Tent when I was very young and I've spoken before about how that book influenced my life—I even went on to write my thesis in college on Biblical women, using Lillith (Adam's oft-forgotten first wife) and Leah (one of the characters in the first SIN AND HONEY novella!) as my primary examples for the two ways we categorize women in literature: as lovers, or mothers. I've always been fascinated by Biblical depictions of women: they get these fascinating stories, bring down nations, save entire civilizations, fall in love, fall in lust, get betrayed and abused...but their stories are all told via a male perspective. I wanted to bring some humanity to their stories, as well as some passion. 

The first novella in the series, Seven Years of Longing

J: Is there a certain bible story you're especially looking forward to reimagining? Why that one in particular?
T: It's so hard to pick just one! I will say that the first 3 novellas take place in uber-ancient times and in mostly rural areas; I'm talking they only had wool, oil lanterns, and lots of goats. The latter 3 novellas (coming Spring-Summer 2016!) take place later in history AND are all royal-themed so there's been some evolution in what we have to work with: fine silks, gold jewelry, beautiful marble columns and candlelight, lavish feasts...I'm excited to have some freedom to describe the luxuriousness and sensuality of the later time periods. :) 
J: What was the experience like working with the Paper Lantern Lit team on these books?
T: Amazing. I love the team at PLL so much. It's a great place to come into your own as a writer while also allowing yourself to be challenged: from nuanced Editorial letters from Lexa Hillyer and the sharp and tactful notes from Lauren Oliver to my own editor Rhoda Belleza's compassion when dealing with a story that obviously means so much to me–I really couldn't have asked for a better team to shepherd this series into the world. (Also shout-outs to Alexa Wejko and Kamilla Benko, who have done so much behind-the-scenes for SIN AND HONEY!)

J: Can you give us a sneak peek at what else is coming from you for this series?
T: The next novella, FOR LOVE OF THE ENEMY, is one I am extremely proud of. It's the story of a widow, Judith, who goes to great lengths to save her people from a violent war: seducing and killing the enemy general. But, of course, she falls in love with a soldier behind enemy lines and has to choose between the fate of her entire people or true love. It's got Game of Thrones levels of drama, the romance is suspenseful and high-stakes, and I can't wait for you all to read it!

Wow, sounds really intriguing! Thanks so much for chatting with me, Taryn!

The second novella in the series, The Touch of Betrayal

Make sure you go check out the Sin & Honey series if some erotic novellas sound like a nice little break from the usual YA fare!

About Taryn

Taryn Scarlett holds a B.A. in Theater and English with a concentration in Creative Writing. Her weaknesses are chocolate, floral sundresses, soapy TV dramas, and anything purple. SIN AND HONEY is her first series. You can visit Taryn at www.TarynScarlett.com.


Weekly Wrap: July 25th, 2015

Inspired by Kathy and Kelly's Weekly Obsessions and Kay's Bookish Report, this is where I catch you up on things from around the blogosphere that caught my eye over the past week.

I missed last week because I was halfway across the country with limited internet, so this is kind of a double dose of wrap up! Although I'll admit I'm behind on a few things, especially posts from other bloggers, so I'll try to catch up on those for next week!


The Nameless City by Faith Erin Hicks

Curio by Evangeline Denmark

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

The Forbidden Orchid by Sharon Biggs Waller

The First Time She Drowned by Kerry Kletter

The May Queen Murders by Sarah Jude

Return Once More by Trisha Leigh

Around the Blogosphere

Book Riot wrote a great post about fat phobia in YA and how publishing can work to combat it within the books the industry puts out as well as in how they market those books.

Book Bub put together a list of books to read if you enjoyed Gone Girl. There's a great YA featured on that list too, by none other than the wonderful Paula Stokes!

Aimee from The Social Potato made some gorgeous graphics for ACOTAR and ADSOM and I loooove the ADSOM one! Go check them out!

Variety shared the news that Disney is developing a movie based on Julie Murphy's upcoming release, Dumplin! Learn more here.

Publishers Weekly put out their Spring 2016 Children's preview and there are quite a few books on there that I am super intrigued by. Go forth and let your TBR multiply!

New Book Deals

Anchor & Sophia trilogy by Tommy Wallach

 By Your Side by Kasie West

 Hearts Made of Black by Stephanie Garber

 I See London, I See France by Sarah Mlynowski

 Roar by Cora Carmack

 The Art of Starving by Sam Miller

 Wing Jones by Katherine Webber

Song of the Week

Song of the Week is where I try to pick a song I was listening to a lot over the past week, unless I was boring, in which case I just pick one I love! This week's is by an English band I really love and I've been listening to their first full-length album a lot lately.

What's new in your corner of the book world this week? Did I miss anything that you're really excited about? Let me know!


Top Ten Diverse Books

Top Ten Tuesday is created and run by The Broke and the Bookish.

This topic lends itself well to a post I'm working on about diverse books, so it was great to look through my shelves and find some diverse books I'm happy to recommend.

I'm going to divide them up by kind of diversity instead of ranking them like I usually do with Top Ten Tuesday posts.

People of Colour

Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee
The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh
Like No Other by Una Lamarche


Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan
Freakboy by Kristin Elizabeth Clark
Alex As Well by Alyssa Brugman

Both (intersectional diversity FTW)

Under the Lights by Dahlia Adler
Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley

Neurological diversity

OCD Love Story by Corey Ann Haydu


Three diverse books that I have seriously heard nothing but great things about and which are on my immediate TBR:

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera
None of the Above by I.W. Gregorio

What are your diverse recs?


Quiet YA Spotlight + Guest Post from Ann Redisch Stampler

Julie, creator of the wonderful #QuietYA hashtag and all around great person has put together a fantastic series with some authors in order to highlight their Quiet YA books. Today I'm excited to be hosting Ann Redisch Stampler, author of Afterparty, Where It Began, and the upcoming How to Disappear, talking about what Quiet YA means to her. Welcome, Ann.

What #QuietYA Means To Me

I grew up in Santa Barbara, with a beautiful white Spanish, red-tile-roofed library.  It was the era of no-talking-in-the-library. So while you’d hear footsteps, a laugh or a dropped book echoing in the high ceilinged rooms, in my memory, there was always a hush.  

For me, this was the hush of connecting with a book, of searching through the stacks, taking books from the shelves and leafing through them.  Retreating to a cool, isolated corner with an armload of volumes which might contain my book.  The perfect one.  The one I had to read right then. The book to that drew me in and spoke to me --mind, heart and soul.

This, for me, is what #QuietYA is all about.  The debate about whether the definition of Quiet YA should be a book without plot pyrotechnics, or a book that’s been undervalued, or a book that hasn’t received major awards is interesting.  But to the YA reader, searching the stacks as I did, wanting to fall into the pages of her perfect book, I’m not sure that definitions matter.

Quiet YA is about being so connected to a book, so involved in the book’s world, so fascinated by the characters, that all the other noise in the reader’s life fades to the almost-sacred silence of the Santa Barbara Public Library.  
Quiet YA represents the reader’s opportunity to range through a citadel of books like the childhood library where I wanted to pitch a tent.  That was my fantasy:  spending the night alone in that library, black words on white pages illuminated by a flashlight, teaching my imagination to fly; expanding my understanding of the world and my ability to see things from different points of view; demanding that I feel empathy for people who reached up from the pages and grabbed my heart.

As I entered my teen years, books allowed me to create that quiet place of passionate involvement wherever I went.  I carried books around with me, and they carried me away and brought me back nourished and refreshed.

It is a wonder to me now that books with teen characters are being published in such great numbers, and are so highly valued by their readers.  The moments of intense involvement with characters and stories are heightened when the reader is, developmentally, in a place so similar to the characters who speak to her, that she’s able to experience the story with a unique emotional immediacy.  For older readers, Quiet YA moments pull us back into a fuller appreciation of where we’ve been, and shed light on our process of becoming who we are.

Quiet YA isn’t a book, but the experience of interacting with a book.

I wish you all a flashlight, a tent, and the YA novel that compels you to enter its world.

Thank you, Ann, for such a fantastic post. 

Just so you know, Ann's book Afterparty is a Kindle bargain right now. You can grab that here: http://amzn.to/1JfH6Zq

Make sure you also enter the (US only) giveaway with books provided by some of the awesome participating authors, including Afterparty

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Weekly Wrap: July 10, 2015

Inspired by Kathy and Kelly's Weekly Obsessions and Kay's Bookish Report, this is where I catch you up on things from around the blogosphere that caught my eye over the past week.


Suffer Love by Ashley Herring Blake
I absolutely adore the range of blues on this one. They're such gorgeous colours.

Mr. Fahrenheit by T. Michael Martin
As much as I'm not usually a huge fan of eye covers (the Shatter Me series covers excepted), this one is such a cool and theme appropriate use of the eye imagery that I can't help but think it's totally worth it.

The Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard
I kind of have mixed feelings on this one because I don't love how close the imagery is to the first one... I wanted it to have an equally striking but different strong symbol on it, but alas. I do really like the silver blood dripping with the red from before, though, and that tagline is flawless.

Around the Blogosphere

Tiff of Mostly YA Lit wrote a really good post about sexual violence in Sarah J. Maas' new book, A Court of Thorns and Roses. Definitely worth a read because she brings up some great points. Check it out here.

Christa of More Than Just Magic wrote a great post for Women Write About Comics on learning storytelling through childhood toys, specifically Barbies. As someone who also used to make up elaborate stories and plots for my Barbies, I found this a really interesting read. Read it here.

The Mary Sue also had an excellent post this week, theirs about one of my favourite shows, The 100, and how it has a pretty incredible cast of diverse female characters (and diverse in so many different ways). Read that here.

New Book Deals

Prince in Disguise by Stephanie Kate Strohm

Transference by Bethany Wiggins
 (DRAGONS, GUYS. I love me some dragons)

Rising Three by Jennifer Rush

4 Wizards by Noelle Stevenson and Todd Casey

Four Weeks, Five People by Jennifer Yu

Riverkeep by Martin Stewart

The Radius of Us by Marie Marquardt

Also recently announced: the third book in Anne Blankman's three book deal with HarperCollins. This one is separate from her duology and is called Traitor Angels. Here's a little more info:
"The Da Vinci Code meets Graceling in this romantic YA adventure from award-winning author Anne Blankman. In TRAITOR ANGELS, Elizabeth discovers an explosive secret concealed in the epic poem Paradise Lost -- a secret that tears apart the fabric of society."
Whaaaaaat? Does that not sound amazing? I am already SO excited for this one.
Traitor Angels is due out Summer 2016.

Pre-Order Offers

Julie Murphy is running a US only pre-order campaign for her upcoming release, Dumplin', where you can get an adorable Dumplin' pin for sending proof of your pre-order to her! More details (and picture courtesy of) her tumblr, here.

Song of the Week

A new addition to Weekly Wrap (which only started last week itself, but whatever) because I listen to music so often that I might as well share some of it with you! I'll try to pick a song I was listening to a lot over the past week, unless I was boring, in which case I'll just pick one I love! This week's is definitely one I've been overplaying, though. Actually, since it's the first week, I'll give you two: the one that introduced me to Ryn Weaver, and the song of hers that has become my new obsession.


What's new in your corner of the book world this week? Did I miss anything that you're really excited about? Let me know!


Underrated YA: Contemporary Edition

Part Three! (Super delayed part three but hey! It's here!)

I've talked about this before but in response to this crazypants Buzzfeed list, today I'm going to tell you about some actual underrated YA (in my humble opinion, anyway) that you should probably go get your hands on ASAP. This follows along the lines of Twitter's response to the same article which took place under #quietYA.

Note: Since I'm being all adamant about the fact that I want to shed light on truly underrated books here, I've put some rules in place for myself. 1, Nothing that's been on the NYT Bestseller list (because guys, that's not underrated). 2, Nothing that currently has a fancy (major) "Award Winner/Nominee" medal on its cover (like for the Morris Debut Award - sorry, In the Shadow of Blackbirds and Charm & Strange! I still love you!) because that can definitely help with exposure. 3. Nothing that I've seen talked about constantly on social media/blogs within my slice of the book world because I figure you're all exposed to similar chatter and then those books aren't really underrated to you anymore, are they?

When I started writing this, I realized that I had so many recs there was no way I could have fit all the books I wanted to rec into one post. So I decided to turn this into a mini-series type deal, hence the second part of the title. This is part three and will cover contemporary novels. I already featured "genre" novels here and historical fiction here.

With all that said, here are my contemp picks!

Five Summers and Like No Other by Una Lamarche
Both of Una Lamarche's novels thus far have explored love in a very moving and involved way. The first looks at the bonds of friendship and the way they are strained and tested, and the second at a seemingly unconventional but actually very universal romance that crosses faith and race lines.
(My review of Five Summers here)

Rites of Passage by Joy N. Hensley
This is basically the book version of the DCOM Cadet Kelly but darker and with even more girl badass-ness. It's about dealing with grief, dealing with sexism and unfair hostility, and rising above it all to prove that a girl (in this case, the amazing Sam) is just as good as anyone else (not to mention way more kick-butt).
(My review here)

The Art of Lainey by Paula Stokes
If you love your lighthearted YA romance with a mismatched pair, fake dating, and some serious character growth, then please tell me why on earth you have not yet read The Art of Lainey.
(My review here)

Behind the Scenes by Dahlia Adler
This is a "fluffy" Hollywood romance book that actually includes some serious deeper issues and explores the development of a romance when there are other complications really well and honestly. It's a lot of fun but isn't afraid to also bring out some other emotions at times.

Dangerous Girls and Dangerous Boys by Abigail Haas
Dangerous Girls especially, but man, if you like books that play with your mind and you're looking for a thrill, these are some of the most interesting and criminally underrated YA around.
(My review of Dangerous Girls here)

Goodbye, Rebel Blue by Shelley Coriell
Another really interesting exploration of grief and discovering or rediscovering yourself in the aftermath. The character growth for the protagonist, Rebel, is strong, as is the growth in her relationships. This one has a great helping of both attitude and heart which I found made it easy for me to really enjoy.
(My review here)

Freakboy by Kristin Elizabeth Clark
A smart and sensitive novel in verse that looks into gender fluidity and transgender identity from the perspectives of three very different individuals who each struggle with having a lot on their plates. Reminiscent of Ellen Hopkins, who is fantastic.
(My review here)

Canary by Rachele Alpine 
This, along with books like Courtney Summers' recent All the Rage, is such an incredibly important book because of the way it deals with sexual assault. It blows the doors wide open on the treatment young women often receive after they try to open up about their experience with sexual assault and it places itself firmly on their side, something that young women often really need to read.
(My review here)

The Way We Fall and The Lives We Lost by Megan Crewe
These are not your conventional contemporary but I shelved them here because despite the apocalyptic-like virus, our world is still completely recognizable, and it is changed through something that is really quite realistic. These are great stories of survival in a situation that doesn't actually seem impossible for us, which is a little unnerving and, I find, makes the scenarios that play out that much more interesting, and the characters that much easier to relate to.
(My reviews here and here)

What underrated contemporary YA should I be reading to add to this list? I'd love to hear what your faves are!