5th Annual Black Friday Book Bonanza (#booklove / #giveaway)

Black Friday Book Bonanza

Welcome to the 5th annual Black Friday Book Bonanza hosted by Kimba at Caffeinated Book Reviewer and Jennifer at Bookshelfery! This is my first time participating in the BFBB, and I am so excited! As I'm writing this post, there are over 60 participants. Wow, right? I mean, yay books! (And yay CHRISTMAS!)

If you haven't participated in the BFBB before, the rules are pretty simple. Each participating blogger/author has their own bookish-related giveaway that will run from 12:01am on November 27 through 12:01am November 30 (so basically the entire Thanksgiving weekend). Some will be US only, some will be INTL. (To find/enter the other giveaways, see the links beneath the Rafflecopter at the bottom of this post.)

And now, my Black Friday Book Bonanza shtuff:

What's up for grabs (US only):

* And then I realized adventure was the best way to learn 7x9 journal

* IF I SPEAK TRUE (book one of the Flora series)

* The Princess Bride DVD

* Sailboat 5x7 journal 

* $10 Target gift card (get that book you've been wanting!)

* bookish swag (not pictured)

Total value: Over $45!!! (Give as a gift, split it up into a couple of different gifts, or keep everything for yourself!)

I love journals because they're great for keeping track of your favorite book quotes, organizing bookish wish lists, or jotting down writing ideas that come to you while reading! The Target gift card was a given, because hello: books. And The Princess Bride DVD, well... Dahlia in IF I SPEAK TRUE loves The Princess Bride, so I had to throw that in, too! :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Oh and hey, INTL peeps! Of course I didn't forget that you're special, too! Here's an easy peasy ebook giveaway just for you:

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Now check out the rest of the Black Friday Book Bonanza participants!


Waiting on Wednesday {112}: Down With the Shine

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine. This week's can't-wait-to-read pre-publication book is: Down With the Shine.

Down With the Shine

Down With the Shine

by Kate Karyus Quinn

Publication date: April 26, 2016

From Goodreads:

There's a reason they say "be careful what you wish for." Just ask the girl who wished to be thinner and ended up smaller than Thumbelina, or the boy who asked for "balls of steel" and got them-literally. And never wish for your party to go on forever. Not unless you want your guests to be struck down by debilitating pain if they try to leave.

These are things Lennie only learns when it's too late-after she brings some of her uncles' moonshine to a party and toasts to dozens of wishes, including a big wish of her own: to bring back her best friend, Dylan, who was abducted and murdered six months ago.

Lennie didn't mean to cause so much chaos. She always thought her uncles' moonshine toast was just a tradition. And when they talked about carrying on their "important family legacy," she thought they meant good old-fashioned bootlegging.

As it turns out, they meant granting wishes. And Lennie has just granted more in one night than her uncles would grant in a year.

Now she has to find a way to undo the damage. But once granted, a wish can't be unmade...


Eeeeeee!!! The Cram-a-Thon has officially started! (If you missed the introductory post, you can read it HERE.)

I'm so excited about how well this has taken off. To those of you who shared it online, thanks so much. To those of you who decided to join in and read along, thank YOU so much. You all rock, and the fact that so many of us are going to be participating/sharing for a couple of weeks means SERIOUS spreading of the booklove, and that is WONDERFUL!!!!

As for *my* TBR, I'm hoping to read up to twenty books. I'm currently finishing up THE IMPROBABLE THEORY OF ANA & ZAK and then I'll be starting one of these (whichever one I'm in the mood for). YAY! Like I said, no pressure here. This is simply a way to catch up on our reading. :)

Another thing I'm doing for sure at least once is a read-along. (Melissa and I are reading OBSIDIAN!) I love reading with someone else--you tend to soar through a book when you have someone to talk with about it! (If anyone else wants to hook up for a read-along, let me know, or post in the comments!)

Everyone will be doing the Cram-a-Thon their own way, but in order for us to keep in touch (and pump each other up when we start a' slackin'), I figured we could all link up. :) Feel free to add your links whenever you want throughout the Cram-a-Thon!

Happy reading, my friends!

Join the #HolidayCRAMATHON read-a-thon Nov. 22 through Dec. 13!

Recently, as I was working on my ongoing book wish list, I came to the realization that I'd acquired a lot of books in the past couple of months. With NetGalley being awesome, #booksfortrade being stinking awesome, BookOutlet.com being so stinking awesome, and Lovemuffin getting me a B&N gift card for my birthday (because HE's awesome), I ended up with quite the collection in a very short amount of time. O.0

Not that I'm complaining--that would be crazy, of course--but it was then that I came to the very logical conclusion that I can't justify getting any more books (or have room for any more, come Christmas, either), if I don't get my tush in gear, and READ SOME STUFF.

I then decided to give myself a goal of reading 20 books before Christmas... and checked the calendar.

Time was running out!

*insert hands-to-cheeks emoji here*

Naturally, my next move was to tweet out a call to fellow #booklove-ers. Was anyone else needing to get caught up? Would anyone like to join?

Some of you were, and did... and one thing led to another, and we came up with the

(Or, if you're my spell check, the "Holiday Cremation". Womp womp.)

Feel free to share this wherever... and if you'd like the HTML for the above image, let me know, and I'll send it to ya. 
Now, some of you have asked if this is going to be a serious signup thing... and the answer is, no, not  really. This is all about having fun and spending as much time as possible reading. 

Therefore, a simple post will go up here on the blog the day it starts (Sunday, the 22nd), with the option to share a link to your blog, or Facebook post, or Instagram, or wherever you post/will be posting your books or updates, so we can all stay in touch and encourage one another to keep on keepin' on!

Not to mention, it's fun to see what others are reading, because it

a) spreads the #booklove

b) spreads the #authorlove


 c) helps us add more books to our TBRs!!!! (Which we totally need, of course.)

SO. There ya go. The plan. A Holiday Cram-a-Thon, yo.

Feel free to share this around the interwebs if you'd like... Or come back Sunday, and share it then.

Be blessed!

Jessica / @coffeelvnmom

Waiting on Wednesday {111}: The Loose Ends List

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine. This week's can't-wait-to-read pre-publication book is: The Loose Ends List.

The Loose Ends List

The Loose Ends List

by Carrie Firestone

Publication date: June 7th, 2016

From Goodreads:

Seventeen-year-old Maddie O'Neill Levine's grandmother is a young-at-heart socialite who has always been Maddie's go-to confidante. Although Maddie and the rest of her family have learned to expect the unexpected from their matriarch, Gram still manages to shock them all when she announces that she has booked the O'Neill clan on a secret death-with-dignity ship called the Wishwell; Gram has terminal cancer and is determined to leave the world in her own way--and give her family an unforgettable summer of dreams-come-true in the process.

Soon, Maddie is on the trip of a lifetime with her wacky family. Aboard the ship, Maddie bonds with other Wishwellians and falls for Enzo, the son of the ship's owner, as they travel the globe. But despite the copious laugher, headiness of first love, and wonder of the glamorous destinations, Maddie knows she is on the brink of losing Gram, and she struggles to find the strength to let go in a whirlwind summer shaped by love, grief, and the power of forgiveness.

SIDEKICK review, discussion, + 2 giveaways (#Sidekickblogtour)

Title: Sidekick
Author: Natalie Whipple (@nataliewhipple)
Publisher: Whipple House
Date of Publication: November 10, 2015


Russ is a high school football player who feels like he always comes in second to his best friend, Garret. In sports. In school. With girls. Well, he's tired of it, and he gets the rather foolish idea that if he can win the heart of the new girl in town before Garret he can prove he's not just sloppy seconds.

His plan? Use his anime-obsessed sister's group, who has befriended the new girl, to get closer to her. He'd never tell the team, but he's been going to Anime Night for years and might even enjoy it. That would ruin his reputation, just like his secret love for cooking and James Taylor.

But pretending to be something you aren't catches up to you eventually, and Russ can only get away with living two lives for so long. As more than one person reveals they have something to hide, Russ must figure out what and who he really wants in his life. And more than that, he needs the courage to make it happen.

SIDEKICK is the second indie book I've read by Natalie Whipple, and I really enjoyed it! (Thanks to Dianne of Oops I Read A Book Again for including me in the blog tour!) It's not often that you see the male side of the spectrum in regard to sports and high school insecurities, so this was a nice change to say the least. Especially since the assumption that things were a certain way were only there because no one communicated and everyone was afraid to share how they really felt. Because of a few misconceptions, Russ made some poor decisions and had some serious 'splainin' to do. But in the end, everything worked out great and the tables burger booths were totally turned. :D

A quick breakdown before Melissa and I discuss SIDEKICK:

Favorite quote: Someone alert the media! Russel Pearson finally has a girlfriend. Women everywhere mourn.

Favorite character: DAPHNE

Immediate reaction upon book completion:  I NEED A BURGER!

What I'd like to do:  See Russ in that leather jacket :P Oh and eat at Parker's, of course.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars burgers*!

        *Sidekick is definitely upper YA due to drinking, language, and adult situations.

Suggestion:  Get SIDEKICK today! (Add to Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes and Noble | The Book Depository | Purchase a signed copy from NatalieHERE!) 


Yesterday, Melissa of The Reader and the Chef and I got together to discuss our feelings about Russ,  Parker's, bacon, and one girl whose last name will not be named. We had a lot of fun, and since SIDEKICK is about a lot more than two guys, one girl, and a side of bacon, I think the convo is definitely worth the read.  (I'm the black font; Melissa is the red.)


I shall write in RED. Bold red. *taps mic*



Okay, so Russ. What are your thoughts?

Russ. I think I liked him as a character but he was always so contradicting. And he made things harder than they really were.

Right. Like, at first, I was really frustrated with the guy. Hello, senior stud, you’re obviously absolutely clueless to everything. How can that happen? A jock, clueless? So it annoyed me a bit. But then I thought, hmmm, if this was the exact same scenario but a GIRL, would I be reacting this way? That calmed me a little.

Yes! In reality, that’s why I think I tolerated Russ more. It’s normal to come across a girl MC that doesn’t really have a clue about how awesome she is, but with a male mc? Not that common. Sort of reminded me why Stephenie Meyer wrote Life after Death.

Hmmm I have to admit I haven’t gotten to that one yet. *cries* But I get what you mean. And it’s true. It’s less common. Me neither, but I read that on an interview hehe. OH! LOL

I think what got to me (you know, those little character traits that pick at you) most was how he was so adamant about hiding everything about himself. And then, even though I still found it frustrating, I had to remember that there ARE clicks and people ARE judgmental like that. In fact, there was a quote I highlighted about that. Let me find it…

People are waiting for you to screw up, so you have to make sure they never have a chance to realize what a loser you really are. That’s all popularity is--pretending to be cool. No one is actually cool.

Which is somewhat true, though I think many people are cool, I think it boils down to the fact that everyone has their own definition of “cool”.

I loved that quote! There are many cool quotes like this one in here. I highlighted one when he was talking about Chefs, sent that to my sister since she always gets “shunned” for choosing that career.

:/ That’s sad. *sends hugs to your sis*

You know, putting Russ a bit aside, I was actually surprised to have the secondary characters turn into important ones as the story progressed.

Totally agree with you. I loved the secondary characters. (Well, except for one… *shakes head*)

Ohemgee. That character was CRAZY. Like, what the muffins?! Unexpected. I mean, I was expecting some misunderstandings and jealousy and well, normal stuff. But then this character turns out to be just sick.

Here’s what got me: the fact that she had no conscience about what she was doing. That bothered me more than anything. Talk about messing with people’s heads.

The nerve. And she never learns. She never feels guilt and I’m really curious to know what happens to her in the end. The other guy sort of like saunters towards her and that’s it. That part was darker than the rest of the book.

I don’t want to get into details, because spoilers, but this made me laugh (when they go into Parker’s and Russ says): Are you sure you don’t want two? You could always save the other one for later...


LOL. That was funny! Right there was when I stopped thinking badly of Russ. He didn’t sound like a Sidekick to me at all. Wish I had awesome comebacks like him.

What I enjoyed about Sidekick was how that kind of began to slip away as he began to prioritize. Took the guy long enough, but still. He went from, 

This is like turning the world upside down and declaring anarchy… Garret’s calling me over to the freak table. 

to deciding who stinking cares about that, because I care for someone, and if anybody thinks they can hurt that person, well… BAM.

They aren’t worth his time. so BYE. (we can forget that LOL). Anyway, what frustrated me a bit was how Garret seemed to have this BIG secret at the beginning, and well, it’s not that big. It’s just self-harm because of jealousy and popularity. I was expecting something more from him as a character. He was weak, to me at least.

I agree. And that all did annoy me, don’t get me wrong. But the more I think about it, the more I think that’s a LOT of guys in high school. No matter what sport or extracurricular activity. I see it daily. Trying to fit in. Not sure where you work in the overall scheme of high school groups. So the weakness, in my opinion, was actually a lack of self-esteem. Which almost all teens have. Some show it outwardly (say, overly obnoxious so they appear confident; or always knocking compliments even though they’re the best looking because they truly do think they’re ugly); others take on things they don’t even like just to fit in. Daphne definitely did that. She hid her favorite things at times just like Russ did. (Obviously not *all* kids who are considered popular think they aren’t--but I think most of that crowd is also insecure. Like LANCE. WAIT WHAT WAS HIS NAME AGAIN?)



beats me, I was like WHAT LANCE o.o

Speaking of Lance (hahahaha kidding!): Dallas, he wasn’t actually a bad character. He just wanted to be like Garret. The most popular guy’s bestie.The sidekick. Still a jerk though.

YAS! Exactly!

And I knew it! Told you about Daphne. hehehehe

I LOVE DAPHNE, DAPHNE’S MY FAVORITE. *insert Elf emoji here*

She was truly the coolest. Eccentric, smart, and overall COOL. Not like Izzy. I liked her and thought she was a cool sister at first but dude, what a crazy girl! She at times came off as REALLY mean.

I liked how Russ was able to talk to her (and make amends WITH PANCAKES). That was a great sibling thing. That’s one thing Natalie writes well, I think: those heartfelt interactions.

Oh, he was a really great brother (if we forget all those times calling her and her friends freak in public haha). Another funny thing was how everybody was like: “oh, you look sexy/hot when cooking” and he was always like “I look like a pansy”.

As an outsider looking in, yeah, that was annoying. But somewhere, somehow, we all get those ideas in our minds, sometimes. I mean, I know authors even do. “I’m lame. I’m not good enough. I’m so below so and so.” (Now if we could just get people to walk around telling us WE’RE HOT hahaha)

Hehehe we should…. B-) Trent. Wait, it is Trent, right? I liked that boy and his family’s business. Does it really exist in Clovis?

Yes! And not that I know of. I’ve never heard of it. But I enjoyed reading about Riverpark (shout out to the bestest Barnes and Noble, BTW) and other Fresno/Clovis related things. In fact, we went to Clovis yesterday (used bookstore called A Book Barn--check it out, locals!) and after all of that burger talk, I HAD to get one while we were there!

Yum! I’ve never visited Riverpark, only a Hometown Buffet, a theater right besides a mall (watched New Moon with dad and UGH) and that’s it. Can’t remember much of Fresno. But next time I shall visit those places!

It’s food, shopping, and the big Edwards theater. You could go there and hang out all day just fine. :)

Overall, I have to agree with the author (read the acknowledgements!) that Sidekick is indeed a book about friendships and then, misunderstandings. A lot of things that happen may seem a bit too much or too middle grade (?) but think it nailed how sometimes, like you said, even the most popular person in the whole world has lots of insecurities and may even think of himself/herself as a sidekick. Or not know how much they are worth or who the real friends are.

True. Though I wish I could say it’s only a middle grade thing, with having three daughters currently in high school, I see/hear about this sort of thing often. (Not a kid like Russ specifically, but that struggle for people to find their place, to be able to step out and do different things, and be comfortable with it, ect.) For some reason, our human tendency is to fall back on labels and we have a hard time being cool with NOT giving them to people and accepting them if they have a little bit of a few labels instead of one specific one. That’s not only a teen struggle, but a human one.

Is US High School really that tough? I don’t recall as many labels here in Mexico. Sure, we have the popular ones and all, but not that much. I don’t even remember which label I fell upon, or if I had one. o.o UNPOPULAR LOL

But to WHOSE standard of popular? That’s what I mean. In every school (watch every YA movie and you’ll see the same thing… Clueless, Mean Girls, and so on), there’s groups. The ASB (student body) kids, the artsy kids, the smart (or AP or this-or-that club) kids, the jocks… I could go on and on. I’m not saying that those groups don’t have individuals who step out and do things outside of their little bubbles… but there IS a struggle to feel accepted (by certain people) at times when one does belong to a few different groups. I’d say there’s a lot of embracing one another here, as well… but it all boils back to the whole security vs. insecurity thing. At the end of the day, Russ was insecure because of the way he PERCEIVED everything. When he saw things differently, look at how the situations changed.

When he realized HE was the popular one, more like the one everybody wanted to be, he embraced his singularity and realized he didn’t need to fit anywhere else except with the people he wanted to be with. I liked that. And it didn’t mean he was the best person ever, but he realized that’s who he was and accepted it.


I mean…

I’M EMBRACING IT. What was the name of the place again? I feel like I’d die if I ever ate one of those burgers. But I’d totally want to try one LOL.

It was Lance’s.


HAHAA. Will never forget Lance ♥

ENTER TO WIN SIDEKICK (UPDATE: Giveaway has closed)



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Cover Reveal: Perfekt Control by @STBende



Genre: Upper YA Paranormal/Fantasy (Norse Mythology)

Release Date: February 9, 2016

Back Cover Copy

Rule the realms.

Brynn Aksel is a valkyrie—a battle goddess tasked with protecting both the God of War and the future of Asgard. She fends off giants and dark elves with an iron fist, a glossy smile, and no less than perfekt control. She’s focused one-hundred-percent on rising through the valkyrie ranks, and not at all on her lifelong crush on Henrik Andersson—the one guy in all the realms who could be her undoing.

Henrik serves as War’s other bodyguard, and he’s too focused on protecting their shared charge to realize that Brynn’s a girl. When an unprecedented surge of darkness abducts the Goddess of Love, Brynn’s already-steely focus is singularly directed on her new assignment—accompany Henrik to recover the realms’ source of light before the cosmos descends into chaos.

While battling demons, dragons, and the not-quite-dead, it becomes clear that immortality does not equal invincibility. And when Hel herself puts a hit on Brynn, the valkyrie has to decide if staying in control is worth losing everything . . . or if it’s time to rule the realms.

Pre-Order Links

Add PERFEKT CONTROL to your Goodreads TBR

Before finding domestic bliss in suburbia, S.T. Bende lived in Manhattan Beach (became overly fond of Peet’s Coffee) and Europe… where she became overly fond of McVities cookies. Her love of Scandinavian culture and a very patient Norwegian teacher inspired the books of The Elsker Saga and The Ære Saga. She hopes her characters make you smile and that one day, waffles will be considered a health food.

Find S.T. on Twitter @stbende, her website (www.stbende.com), or send her an e-mail. While you're at it, introduce yourself to @UllMyhr and @TyrFredriksen -- when they’re not saving the cosmos from dark elves, they love meeting new friends . . . especially the human kind.

Want to connect with fellow Norse god fans? S.T.'s readers have created a Facebook group! Head over to the RagnaRockstars page to chat with other readers, talk with S.T., and get access to exclusive content... including Ull POVs and sneak peeks at upcoming Ære Saga books!

Connect with ST Bende at:

TUR is currently available for FREE to newsletter subscribers!

Skål, y’all!

Finally Friday {8}:These Shallow Graves

Finally Friday is a meme started by me (Jessica, aka @coffeelvnmom) and J from @life_love_fandomsThis week's I-finally-read-this-Waiting-on-Wednesday-book is: THESE SHALLOW GRAVES.
These Shallow Graves
You, on the other hand, wish to know things. And no one can forgive a girl for that.

Ms. Donnelly has done it again. She’s found a way to tell a story, teach the history behind the setting, and pull you along for the ride whilst throwing in great measures of romance, betrayal, comedy, friendship, and of course, quite the mystery.

Josephine Montfort is a victim of the social elite in New York in the 1890s. I say “victim” because any woman or young lady living in that timeframe had little to no control of what she was able to do. Example one: the grandmother of her soon-to-be betrothed literally refers to the youngin’s as dogs, and speaks of breeding them to keep good bloodlines (and their money in the family, too), more than once. Example two: at one point, Jo recalls her mother telling her (paraphrased): “There are only three times you may be in the paper. Once when you’re born, once when you’re married, and once when you die.” Anything else, any other reason to be put in the paper, in that day and age, meant you must have done something scandalous (or why would they do a report about it?). Walking somewhere, alone? Scandalous. Meeting with someone not of the same social class in public? Scandalous. Not wearing the proper black dresses for months after a death in the family? Scandalous. Socializing after a death in the family? Scandalous. Coming up to a group at a social gathering when there is no chair left for you to sit in? Scandalous. Not accepting the proposal of THE biggest family at the time? SCAN-DAL-OUS.

And yet, the more Jo learns of what’s really been going on and starts to question everything she thought she knew about her father and his business, the more she becomes that scandalous character. Not that she openly talks about it until quite far into the book (she does have to sneak around for quite a while, first--oh the lies that lady tells!), but the fact that she is so under the wings of the way they do things (never having shown someone to the door before, because that’s what the butler usually does? UM.) shows how little was expected of women during that era, and how little they were allowed to do on their own.

Speaking of era, the entire premise of TSG is based on (and revolves around) the way it was in the late 1800s. Though Jo knows something’s not right when her father dies, the mere act of speaking this out and telling someone is a huge problem. She befriends people who, to the “normal” people of their town, aren’t that big of a deal, but in family/upper town politics would cause all hell to break loose if it was found out they were ever socializing. This creates an ongoing tension that really does make a difference as the story goes on.

One thing about TSG, however: Jo is naive. She’s quite bright, intellectually, but at the same time, due to the life she was given, incredibly clueless. She doesn’t know what many things are, because everything is considered below them, "unspeakables" for women, or too difficult for her lady mind to understand. (Not that those are a problem for Jo, but this was how things were seen during that timeframe. If you’re a woman, opinions aren’t allowed, nor expected. Neither is thinking. Women “watch and wait”. As Ms. Marino so deftly puts it in the letter to the reader at the beginning of the advanced readers copy, "Boys could be and do anything; girls had rules to follow.")

These Shallow Graves was different from A Northern Light and Revolution, but entertaining and educational to the timeframe just the same. It also has a few twists and turns that will surprise you and keep you rooting for not just Jo, but many of the characters!

If you are in the mood for historical mystery and romance, but don’t want to read about the lack of freedom women had in the latter part of the 19th century, do not read These Shallow Graves. But if learning is your forte, and you enjoy Ms. Donnelly’s YA, or if you’ve never read her work and would like to sleuth right along with Jo (and learn some cool coroner stuff and history), this book’ll be right up your alley.

Waiting on Wednesday {110}: The Lie Tree

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine. This week's can't-wait-to-read pre-publication book is: The Lie Tree.

The Lie Tree

The Lie Tree

by Frances Hardinge

Publication date: May 10, 2016

From Goodreads:

In this deliciously creepy novel by the author of the critically acclaimed Cuckoo Song, the fruit of a magical tree uncovers dangerous truths.

Faith Sunderly leads a double life. To most people, she is reliable, dull, trustworthy—a proper young lady who knows her place as inferior to men. But inside, Faith is full of questions and curiosity, and she cannot resist mysteries: an unattended envelope, an unlocked door. She knows secrets no one suspects her of knowing. She knows that her family moved to the close-knit island of Vane because her famous scientist father was fleeing a reputation-destroying scandal. And she knows, when her father is discovered dead shortly thereafter, that he was murdered.

In pursuit of justice and revenge, Faith hunts through her father’s possessions and discovers a strange tree. The tree only bears fruit when she whispers a lie to it. The fruit of the tree, when eaten, delivers a hidden truth. The tree might hold the key to her father’s murder—or it may lure the murderer directly to Faith herself.

Natalie Whipple's SIDEKICK (#SidekickBlogTour)

I am so, so excited to share this today! I absolutely LOVED Natalie's FISH OUT OF WATER, so naturally I'm very excited about SIDEKICK (and will be sharing my thoughts on it in a couple of days)! Check out the blurb, read an excerpt, and then check out the giveaway!

Title: Sidekick
Author: Natalie Whipple (@nataliewhipple)
Publisher: Whipple House
Date of Publication: November 10, 2015


Russ is a high school football player who feels like he always comes in second to his best friend, Garret. In sports. In school. With girls. Well, he's tired of it, and he gets the rather foolish idea that if he can win the heart of the new girl in town before Garret he can prove he's not just sloppy seconds.

His plan? Use his anime-obsessed sister's group, who has befriended the new girl, to get closer to her. He'd never tell the team, but he's been going to Anime Night for years and might even enjoy it. That would ruin his reputation, just like his secret love for cooking and James Taylor.

But pretending to be something you aren't catches up to you eventually, and Russ can only get away with living two lives for so long. As more than one person reveals they have something to hide, Russ must figure out what and who he really wants in his life. And more than that, he needs the courage to make it happen.

Read an excerpt: 

He shrugs. “You hungry?”



“Of course.” Parker’s Drive-In is our place, and I mean that in the manliest way possible. Old Man Parker puts bacon grease in the burger meat, so the whole place smells like a giant slab of pig fat. There’s nothing better in the world than this homage to bacon.

Parker’s is always open, so when we pull up at midnight there are still a couple of people sitting in the bright red booths. When Garret opens the door, the cashier, Buck Parker, smiles wide. He’s the oldest of the four Parker boys. The whole family works there, and most of them are proud of it. I guess I would be too if I’d won awards for Best Drive-in Food. This place is one of the few reasons anyone comes to Clovis. The other two are family and farmers markets.

I’d never tell a soul, but sometimes I wish I could work here, even for one day, just to see how they create their burger masterpieces.

“Awesome catch, Garr!” Buck says. “If you don’t make the news, I’ll be shocked.”

Garret shakes his head, using that oh-I’m-not-so-great smile all the girls fall for. “It was just a lucky catch. Russ did all the legwork.”

I shove my hands in my pockets, trying not to be annoyed at Buck for overlooking me and my eighty-nine yards running tonight. But yards run don’t matter when you aren’t the one with the ball in the end zone. At least Garret acknowledges me. I do appreciate that.

“Way to go, Russ.” Buck glances at me with an overcompensating grin. Praise means nothing when it’s forced, so I can’t bring myself to answer. “What’ll you buys have?”

We both get two bacon burgers with a side of chili fries. Garret gets Coke, but I go for Sprite because Coke tastes maybe one degree better than beer.

We dig in, and I try not to moan over the crunchy bacon goodness. At Parker’s they chop up the bacon and make a full-on patty to go on top of the hamburger. So every single bite is full of bacon, bacon-flavored hamburger, and sharp cheddar. I have no choice but to forgive Buck for overlooking me. I bow to their burger genius.


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About Natalie Whipple:

Natalie Whipple grew up in the Bay Area and relocated to Utah for high school, which was quite the culture shock for her anime-loving teen self. But the Rocky Mountains eventually won her over, and she stuck around to earn her degree in English linguistics at BYU, with a minor in editing. Natalie still lives in Utah with her husband and three kids, and keeps the local Asian market in business with all her attempts to cook.

She is the author of the TRANSPARENT series, HOUSE OF IVY & SORROW, the I'M A NINJA series, FISH OUT OF WATER, and MY LITTLE BRONY (under K.M. Hayes). In addition to that, she is on the writing team for the cRPG Torment: Tides of Numenera that should be out sometime in 2015.

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