Google+ YA Romantics: December 2016

Friday, December 30, 2016

Win two of my favorites in the Last Freebie Friday of 2016!




Happy last Friday of 2016!

I promised in a prior post that I'd give away a couple of my favorite books of the year! Here, for your end-of-year reading enjoyment, is one of my favorite YAs of the year, plus a fun adult romantic comedy. Winner can have either or both!


Open to US/Canada!



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Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Books I Wish I'd Read in 2016


Every December, I look at my to-read list and realize there are a bunch of great books I didn't get to.

But, hey, 2016 isn't over yet, and I haven't (yet) made my Goodreads goal, so it's possible that I may get to some of these.

The Serpent King
by Jeff Zentner
Published on March 8, 2016
by Crown/Random House BFYR

Dill has had to wrestle with vipers his whole life at home, as the only son of a Pentecostal minister who urges him to handle poisonous rattlesnakes, and at school, where he faces down bullies who target him for his father's extreme faith and very public fall from grace. The only antidote to all this venom is his friendship with fellow outcasts Travis and Lydia. But as they are starting their senior year, Dill feels the coils of his future tightening around him. Dill's only escapes are his music and his secret feelings for Lydia neither of which he is brave enough to share. Graduation feels more like an ending to Dill than a beginning. But even before then, he must cope with another ending one that will rock his life to the core. 


Outrun the Moon
by Stacey Lee
Published on May 24, 2016
by Putnam

San Francisco, 1906: Fifteen-year-old Mercy Wong is determined to break from the poverty in Chinatown, and an education at St. Clare’s School for Girls is her best hope. Although St. Clare’s is off-limits to all but the wealthiest white girls, Mercy gains admittance through a mix of cunning and a little bribery, only to discover that getting in was the easiest part. Not to be undone by a bunch of spoiled heiresses, Mercy stands strong—until disaster strikes. On April 18, a historic earthquake rocks San Francisco, destroying Mercy’s home and school. With martial law in effect, she is forced to wait with her classmates for their families in a temporary park encampment. Though fires might rage, and the city may be in shambles, Mercy can’t sit by while they wait for the army to bring help—she still has the “bossy” cheeks that mark her as someone who gets things done. But what can one teenage girl do to heal so many suffering in her broken city?


Crooked Kingdom (and Six of Crows, actually)
by Leigh Bardugo
Published by Henry Holt
On September 20, 2016
Kaz Brekker and his crew have just pulled off a heist so daring even they didn’t think they’d survive. But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they’re right back to fighting for their lives. Double-crossed and badly weakened, the crew is low on resources, allies, and hope. As powerful forces from around the world descend on Ketterdam to root out the secrets of the dangerous drug known as jurda parem, old rivals and new enemies emerge to challenge Kaz’s cunning and test the team's fragile loyalties. A war will be waged on the city’s dark and twisting streets―a battle for revenge and redemption that will decide the fate of the Grisha world. 


Blood for Blood
by Ryan Graudin
Published by Little, Brown
on November 1, 2016

For the resistance in the Third Reich, the war may be over, but the fight has just begun. Death camp survivor Yael, who has the power to skinshift, is on the run: the world has just seen her shoot and kill Hitler. But the truth of what happened is far more complicated, and its consequences are deadly. Yael and her unlikely comrades dive into enemy territory to try to turn the tide against Hitler’s army, and there is no alternative but to see their mission through to the end, whatever the cost. But in the midst of the chaos, Yael’s past and future collide when she comes face to face with a ghost from her past, and a spark with a fellow rider begins to grow into something more. Dark secrets reveal dark truths and one question hangs over them all—how far can you go for the ones you love?

Tell me in comments about books you wish you'd read in 2016!


Monday, December 26, 2016

A Few of my Favorite Books of 2016!


First, a confession: I haven't read as many books as usual in 2016 (um. .. about half as many as usual.) This was partly the result of a slight reading slump, but mostly because things in my offline life have been pretty hectic over the past year.

But I still have a few great favorites of 2016. I mean, these are the books that un-slumped me, so there's something special there. I'm going to be giving a couple of them away over the next week, so stay tuned!


The Sun is Also a Star
by Nicola Yoon
Published on November 1, 2016
by Delacorte Press

Yes, The Sun is Also a Star had some aspects that aren't usually my favorite. It's a romance set in one day, so there's some *whispers* instalove.  But I was still completely charmed by this story of an unlikely love story between an about-to-be-deported Jamaican-American girl and an about-to-be-college-interviewed Korean-American guy. The book's narrative also omnisciently peeks into the lives (and futures) of minor characters, like a security guard and a secretary. I'm not always enamored of such techniques, but in this story I thought the technique served to point out that our lives are connected with those of others in mysterious and surprising ways. And that's why the epilogue, which required some suspension of disbelief, didn't bother me. Nicola Yoon looks at the world in such a whimsical, humorous, compassionate way -- that's one of the reasons I love her writing.


This Adventure Ends
by Emma Mills
Published on October 1, 2016
by Henry Holt

I'm all about a character-driven book and This Adventure Ends is a prime example of how a book with very little plot can be as gripping and entertaining as the twistiest thriller. Sloane is a fish-out-of-water New Yorker suddenly transplanted to the South, but finds herself drawn in to a group of friends, into a quest for a missing painting, into her father's sort-of midlife crisis (he's a Nicholas Sparks-style writer who starts writing fanfic). This book creates a unique world that you enjoy being a part of and hate to leave. 


Last Seen Leaving
by Caleb Roehrig
Published on October 4, 2016
by Feiwel and Friends

Flynn is a guy with a missing girlfriend and the police are interested in what he knows. Flynn knows stuff, sure. He also has some secrets of his own, secrets he might not be ready to tell. So he begins to look for January and, in the process, gets to know himself better. At once a mystery and a coming of age story, Last Seen Leaving is absorbing and moving.


The Long Game (The Fixer #2)
by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Published on June 7, 2016
by Bloomsbury

I'm always bemoaning the non-thrillingness of many YA thrillers, but The Long Game had twists and turns that thrilled and surprised me. This is book two in a series about a girl in an exclusive DC private school who "fixes" the problems of her fellow students. Book one was good, but this book took the series into serious political thriller territory. I can't wait for the next installment!


Disruption
by Jessica Shirvington
Published (in the US) on October 4, 2016
by Harper

When I read the synopsis of this one (dystopian featuring a microchip that can identify your perfect love match -- or identify you as divergent -- whoops, I mean a "neg" -- and send you to a rehabilitation camp ) I rolled my eyes. But positive reviews from fellow bloggers convinced me to pick it up - and they were right. The premise feels familiar, but is well-executed and the romance is really compelling. Looking forward to the next installment!


The year's not over and I'm still looking for great books - tell me about some of your favorites of 2016 in comments!


Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Hot Off the Presses: New YA Releasing December 20-January 1

Hot Off the Presses -- brand new YA releases!

Welcome to Hot Off the Presses!  

Tuesday is book release day, so every Tuesday I tell you about all the great new YA books you can buy in the week to come.

Enter the December giveaway! Each month's winner can pick any book up to $15 on either Amazon (for US winner) or The Book Depository (for international winner.)

Hot Off the Presses aims to include every traditionally published YA book. Please let me know about books that came out this week that I might have missed! Some titles may have different release dates outside the US.

This is a combined list for the next two weeks since new releases are a little sparse during the holidays! Click on the photos to get to each book's Goodreads page!


Ever the Hunted Take the Key and Lock Her Up The Secret of a Heart Note The Life Fantastic

Ever the Hunted by Erica Summerill (HMH)
Take the Key and Lock Her Up (Embassy Row #3) by Ally Carter (Scholastic)
The Secret of a Heart Note by Stacey Lee (Katherine Tegen)
The Life Fantastic by Liza Ketchum (Merit Press)


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Monday, December 19, 2016

The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

The Hating Game
by Sally Thorne
Published on August 9, 2016
by William Morrow
Synopsis from Goodreads: Lucy Hutton and Joshua Templeman hate each other. Not dislike. Not begrudgingly tolerate. Hate. And they have no problem displaying their feelings through a series of ritualistic passive aggressive maneuvers as they sit across from each other, executive assistants to co-CEOs of a publishing company. Lucy can’t understand Joshua’s joyless, uptight, meticulous approach to his job. Joshua is clearly baffled by Lucy’s overly bright clothes, quirkiness, and Pollyanna attitude. Now up for the same promotion, their battle of wills has come to a head and Lucy refuses to back down when their latest game could cost her her dream job…But the tension between Lucy and Joshua has also reached its boiling point, and Lucy is discovering that maybe she doesn’t hate Joshua. And maybe, he doesn’t hate her either. Or maybe this is just another game.
My take:  I've loved British chick lit since the days of Bridget Jones and The Shopaholic back in the 90s. And I also have a soft spot for hate-to-love couples, from Leia and Han Solo to Cher and Josh to Castle and Beckett -- it's a great romance trope. So when I saw other bloggers raving about The Hating Game (yes, book industry, this is a case of a great word of mouth publicity) I decided it seemed perfect for me.

Bottom line: I flew through this one weekend, and with a couple of caveats, really enjoyed it a lot. Lucy is assistant to the CEO of a publishing company that has recently merged with another publishing company. So there's now another CEO and another assistant: Josh, who's infuriatingly type-A and competent. These two assistants' desks are across from each other and they're on each other's nerves for eight hours a day.

The joint/rival CEO theme was fun, adding an element of rivalry and tension to the story. In addition, the company announces a new position that both Lucy and Josh want desperately, ramping up their rivalry even more. I just kept wishing the two of them had more interesting jobs within the company (editors? publicists?). Maybe it's the book blogger in me, but I wish each one had a book or author to promote and were battling it out over sales and publicity campaigns.

The odd couple set-up worked for me for the most part. At times, I did feel like these characters were reduced to a few traits and not developed much further (Lucy's red lipstick and retro style; Josh's days-of-the-week dress shirts and gym addiction.) Their families come into the picture a bit: hers run a strawberry farm and his are predictably overachieving and uptight.

Sexual tension is one of the hallmarks of the love-to-hate romance, and The Hating Game did an excellent job in this regard. The romance was extremely slow burn, with Lucy taking a long time to come around to her (obvious) attraction to Josh and the fact that he's (obviously) crazy about her.

If you're looking to treat yourself to a fun romance over the holidays, The Hating Game is a great choice. I'm giving a copy away on Freebie Friday, so be sure to stop by!


Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Hot Off the Presses: New YA Releasing December 13-19

Hot Off the Presses -- brand new YA releases!

Welcome to Hot Off the Presses!  

Tuesday is book release day, so every Tuesday I tell you about all the great new YA books you can buy in the week to come.

Enter the December giveaway! Each month's winner can pick any book up to $15 on either Amazon (for US winner) or The Book Depository (for international winner.)

Hot Off the Presses aims to include every traditionally published YA book. Please let me know about books that came out this week that I might have missed! Some titles may have different release dates outside the US.

Tiny selection today, but that means we can all catch up on 2016 books that we didn't get a chance to read!

Click on the photos to get to each book's Goodreads page!

Crystal Storm Iceling Forever Again
Crystal Storm (Falling Kingdoms #5) by Morgan Rhodes (Razorbill)
Iceling by Sasha Stephenson (Razorbill)
Forever Again by Victoria Laurie (Disney-Hyperion)


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Friday, December 9, 2016

Freebie Friday: Vampire Academy 10th Anniversary Edition with special content!




Happy Friday!

I don't know about you, but I'm a big Vampire Academy fan. And it's hard to believe that this is the 10th anniversary of the publication of the first book.

To celebrate, I'm giving away a copy of the 10th Anniversary commemorative edition:


This edition includes new content - four new stories:

The Turn and the Flame takes a deeper look into the dark stain on the Ozera dynasty...

From the Journal of Vasilisa Dragomir unearths the princess’s private thoughts from a transformative period of her life…

The Meeting gives us a glimpse of Rose Hathaway through Dimitri’s eyes...

Hello My Name Is Rose Hathaway tracks the shenanigans that ensue when Rose and Dimitri become unlikely teammates in a high-stakes scavenger hunt...

You can enter with just one click in the Rafflecopter. US/Canadian addresses only, please!


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Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Dear Gilmore Girls AYITL: Please Bring Back the Real Rory Gilmore



I'm a huge Gilmore Girls fan. HUGE. I can't even tell you how eagerly I was anticipating the new Netflix miniseries Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life. And, okay, I didn't hate every single part of it.  I really enjoyed being back in Stars Hollow and seeing all its weird and wacky residents again. But I also think this revival did something unforgivable. It took one of the best smart, bookish heroines in the history of smart, bookish heroines and turned her into someone who was completely unrecognizable to me. 



Old Rory Gilmore was amazing. How often do you see a smart girl on TV? Not a Big Bang Theory-style nerd girl, just a normal girl who really loves books and school and learning? Rory was smart and idealistic and principled. Not perfect, but real. And GG: AYITL took away every one of those qualities away from her.

SPOILERS AHEAD:

WINTER:
The first episode starts with Rory making a quick visit to Stars Hollow to see her mom. - yay! She's impeccably dressed in a little black dress, camel hair coat and boots. She's written a piece for the New Yorker. She tells her mom that she's given up her Brooklyn apartment to free herself up to "travel wherever there's a story to write." She seems like a more polished version of old Rory, but still one who is pursuing her dreams of being a writer.

But ... she's misplaced her underwear. All of it. (Um, how does that even happen, exactly?) And instead of buying more, she come to Stars Hollow hoping to locate it. 

Yes, Gilmore Girls has always loved the running joke. Lorelai can smell snow, yada yada. But many of the new running jokes in GG: AYITL were also real danger signs. Take Paul, Rory's new (well, not so new to her but new to viewers) boyfriend. Yes, in the past, teenaged Rory made some questionable romantic choices. But poor Paul was possibly the worst running joke in GG:AYITL and evidence of the complete ruination of the Rory Gilmore character. She's "settled" by dating Paul: he's nice, bland, and completely forgettable. As in the fact that she constantly forgets that he exists. And knows she needs to break up with him but repeatedly "forgets" to do it. THIS IS NOT MY RORY. Old Rory was occasionally foolhardy or impulsive, but never this callous and cruel.

SPRING:
More bad Rory omens in the Spring. The cracks in her polish are beginning to show, which in theory is fine. I don't like when women pretend that they never struggle with career, romance, family. But Rory is long past pretending and well into denial. She attends a Chilton reunion (yay, Paris is back in all her prickly, neurotic glory!) But when Headmaster Charlton says to Rory "I've always thought the world of you" (aw...) and suggests that Rory might like to consider a teaching job at Chilton, she recoils as if he suggested a career as a pole dancer. "I don't think teaching is my future." What? Rory, you're a snob.

It gets worse. We think Rory has been jetting back and forth from London for work, but the reality is far more disappointing:


So ... I'm not completely anti-Logan. In the regular series, I thought Logan represented all the things that Lorelai rejected in her former life, a life that Rory was understandably curious about. And I don't think Logan is a bad person, he's just a person who isn't willing to reject his easy life of wealth and privilege. I think that, in his own way, he does love and support Rory.

But... he's unavailable. He's engaged to someone else. In this episode, we learn that Rory is basically his mistress, a kept woman whom he flies back and forth from Connecticut to London and sends cars for and sleeps with behind his fiancee's back. Ugh. Yes, Rory cheated with the married Dean, but I sort of thought she might have learned from that experience.

This all felt very icky to me. At the very least, could Logan please buy her some new underwear?

SUMMER:
Rory's character takes another turn for the worse in summer. She and her mom are suddenly hanging around the Stars Hollow Community Pool. (Who knew there was such a thing?)

At the pool, Rory and Lorelai hire children to stand there, holding parasols over them (huh? - this was just extremely weird.) And Rory and Lorelai have become a pair of mean girls who repeatedly fat shame a neighbor of theirs who has the gall to show up at the pool even though he's overweight. This was beyond disappointing to me. Lorelai has always been immature, but I expected more from Rory. If someone at Chilton had been fat-shamed, she would have delivered a blistering lecture to the culprit and then written a op-ed for the Franklin.


There was a really great scene in the summer between Rory and April (Luke's daughter). April, a college student, is over for dinner and pretending like her life is Instagram-perfect. Then, when she and Rory are alone, she admits that she's not as perfect as she pretends, and just trying to figure everything out. Like all of us are. This was a great piece of writing. But sadly, it reflected well on April, not Rory.

FALL:
There may be some other nice moments in fall, but they don't involve Rory. In fact all the Gilmore Girls except Rory exhibit some admirable moments of personal growth. Lorelai is finally able to tell her mother how much her father meant to her (I found this scene extremely moving and well-acted.) Emily Gilmore freed herself from her empty mansion and the judge-y passiveeagressiveness of the her fellow DAR biddies and made a new life for herself. (I never really got the whole Gypsy-in-glasses-and-a-wig-pretending-to-be-a-housekeeper-who-spoke-an-imaginary-language, but whatevs.) Go Emily!

Rory. (Deep sigh). Rory took over the Stars Hollow Gazette. She was "rescued" from her boredom by the Life and Death Brigade (another really weird sequence). Oh, and she had some farewell sex with Logan and got pregnant. 

A bit of backstory: Gilmore Girls ran from 2000-2007. Series creator Amy Sherman-Palladino and her writer-director husband, Daniel Palladino, decided to leave the series in 2006 when they had a contract dispute with the network, so they weren't involved in the show's final season. Sherman-Palladino had long said she'd planned the series to end with "The Final Four Words." And that she planned to use them -- nine years later -- in this revival miniseries.

Saving those final four words for so long was kind of like saving your most awesome outfit for nine years and then pulling it out of your closet. Outfits do have an expiration date. And apparently, so do final four words. 

Hello, 2006!
tl;tr: I am totally fine with having a Rory who isn't perfect and hasn't figured her life out. In fact, yay for that. But Rory went from Best Smart Bookish Heroine Ever to an underwear-losing, cheating, fat shaming snob. This is all kinds of tragic...

If you watched GG: AYITL. Tell me what you thought. If you liked it, please tell me about it!

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Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Hot Off the Presses: New YA Releasing December 6-12

Hot Off the Presses -- brand new YA releases!

Welcome to Hot Off the Presses!  

Tuesday is book release day, so every Tuesday I tell you about all the great new YA books you can buy in the week to come.

Enter the December giveaway! Each month's winner can pick any book up to $15 on either Amazon (for US winner) or The Book Depository (for international winner.)

Hot Off the Presses aims to include every traditionally published YA book. Please let me know about books that came out this week that I might have missed! Some titles may have different release dates outside the US.

Click on the photos to get to each book's Goodreads page!

Black Moon Mind Games Spindle
Black Moon (Zodiac #3) by Romina Russell (Razorbill)
Mind Games (Lock & Mori #2) by Heather Petty (Simon & Schuster)
Spindle by E. K. Johnston (Disney-Hyperion)


Did I Mention I Miss You Split the Sun True Power
Did I Mention I Miss You by Estelle Maskame (Sourcebooks)
Split the Sun (Inherit the Stars #2) by Tessa Elwood (Running Press)
True Power by Gary Meehan (Jo Fletcher)


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Monday, December 5, 2016

Just Finished Reading: The Twilight Wife by A.J. Banner

The Twilight Wife
by A. J. Banner

To be published
on December 27, 2016
by Touchstone

Source: eARC for review

Synopsis from Goodreads: Thirty-four-year-old marine biologist Kyra Winthrop remembers nothing about the diving accident that left her with a complex form of memory loss. With only brief flashes of the last few years of her life, her world has narrowed to a few close friendships on the island where she lives with her devoted husband, Jacob.But all is not what it seems. Kyra begins to have visions—or are they memories?—of a rocky marriage, broken promises, and cryptic relationships with the island residents, whom she believes to be her friends. As Kyra races to uncover her past, the truth becomes a terrifying nightmare. A twisty, immersive thriller, The Twilight Wife will keep readers enthralled through the final, shocking twist. 

My take: Lately my in-box is crowded with Netgalley emails touting the latest thriller with a "final, shocking twist" in the vein of Gone Girl or Girl on the Train. The Twilight Wife was compared to Before I Go to Sleep, a book I liked, so I decided to give it a try.

After a diving accident that led to her head injury, Kyra has two types of amnesia (retrograde, meaning she can't retrieve memories for a specific period of time, and anteretrograde, meaning she has trouble making new memories). So, not to be insensitive, but she can't remember much of anything at all. Kyra lives on a deserted Pacific Northwest island with Jacob, her doting, excruciatingly patient husband, who is willing to answer all her questions about her accident and their former life together ... repeatedly. Still, she's convinced that Jacob is hiding something from her. If he is, he's aided by their remote location and sketchy internet, which keeps her from finding out much of anything about anything.

The premise of this book was interesting, but the suspense level was pretty low and Kyra started to grate on my nerves after a while. Again, not to be insensitive, but at some point I began to wonder why she didn't write anything down. I mean, hey, I don't have amnesia but I have to make lists just to get by.

Finally, by the last third of the book, Kyra begins to unravel the truth about her accident and her situation, but the resolution didn't make any sense to me. (highlight for spoiler) Jacob was secretly in love with/obsessed with her, so he orchestrated an accident that got rid of her real husband but then left him with a fake "wife" who can't even remember what she did the day before? That plan didn't work out very well, did it? Kyra just wasn't worth the trouble imo. (end spoiler)

It took me a long time to read this book, which is never a good sign for a thriller. If you haven't read Before I Go To Sleep I'd definitely recommend that -- or the movie Memento -- over this book. If you are actively looking for amnesia stories, then hey, sure -- give this a try.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Freebie Friday: I'm Not Your Manic Pixie Dream Girl Excerpt and Giveaway!

I'm Not Your Manic Pixie Dream Girl
by Gretchen McNeil
Published by Balzer + Bray
on October 18 2016

Synopsis from Goodreads: Beatrice Maria Estrella Giovannini has life all figured out. She's starting senior year at the top of her class, she’s a shoo-in for a scholarship to M.I.T., and she’s got a new boyfriend she’s crazy about. The only problem: All through high school Bea and her best friends Spencer and Gabe have been the targets of horrific bullying. So Bea uses her math skills to come up with The Formula, a 100% mathematically guaranteed path to social happiness in high school. Now Gabe is on his way to becoming Student Body President, and Spencer is finally getting his art noticed. But when her boyfriend Jesse dumps her for Toile, the quirky new girl at school, Bea realizes it's time to use The Formula for herself. She'll be reinvented as the eccentric and lovable Trixie—a quintessential manic pixie dream girl—in order to win Jesse back and beat new-girl Toile at her own game.

Today I'm hosting a giveaway of I'm Not Your Manic Pixie Dream Girl, courtesy of the author. First, check out this excerpt from the book, then enter below to win a copy. How? Tell us about YOUR favorite MPDG!

Excerpt from I'm Not Your Manic Pixie Dream Girl:

Somewhere between the lobster scene from Annie Hall and when the goob from Garden State told Natalie Portman that she’d literally changed his life in four days (seriously?), I had a revelation.

The wacky outfits.

The unexpected actions.

The positive feedback loop.

The relentlessly sunny dispositions.

Manic pixie dream girl was a formula.

“Spence.”

“Mmhm.” He was curled up on his side next to me in bed, head cradled in the crook of his arm, half-asleep. Apparently, the manic pixie marathon hadn’t circumvented his need for a weekend nap.

“Wake up, Princess,” I said, patting his cheek.

“Did you open my thumb drive?” he muttered.

“Not yet. I’ve got some science to lay down on you.”

He yawned. “Already laying down.”

I pushed myself off the bed and planted both hands on the mattress, then shook it violently.

“It’s the big one! Duck and cover!”

Spencer jolted awake, flailing his arms as he rolled off the edge of the mattress, collapsing in a heap on the floor.

“Oh shit!” I leaped across the bed and peered down on him, a tangle of limbs. “Are you okay?”

Spencer sat up and ran his fingers through his hair. “Not funny.”

“I don’t know. It was, kinda.”

He pushed his palm against my forehead and rolled me back onto the bed. “Oh yeah? How do you like it?” Then he pounced on top the mattress and jumped up and down in his bare feet.

The headboard banged against the wall and the metal legs groaned in protest.

“Stop!” I shrieked through my laughter. “You’ll bust through the floor.”

“It’s the big one!” he cried, mimicking me. “Duck and cover!”

“Cut it out!” I grabbed Spencer’s leg while he was midjump and yanked it toward me. He lost his balance and came crashing down on top of me; his elbow barely missed knocking out a couple of my teeth.

“You wanna play rough?” Spencer asked, trying to sound mean but coming off more like a Disney villain. Then he went for my weak spot: my feet. He grabbed my legs together, flipping me onto my stomach, then wiggled his fingers lightly on the soles of my feet. “Vee have vays uf making you talk,” he said, using a fake German accent.

“Stop!” I was laughing so hard tears were welling up in my eyes.

“Oh!” Spencer said, feigning surprise. “You want me to stop?” He tickled my feet again, and I let out a howl. “Are you sure?” Then he leaned back so he could see my face.

I took advantage of his lapse in concentration and twisted my torso, ripping my legs from his grip, then I went for his ticklish weak spot: the side of his stomach.
“Payback’s a bitch.”

I heard a creak on the stairs. “Anak?” my mom called up. “Is everything okay?”

We froze, limbs tangled. “Fine, Mom!”

“Don’t call me that,” she snapped from the other side of my bedroom door.

 I looked up at Spencer, who pressed his lips together to silence his snickering, then composed myself. “I’m fine, Flordeliza.”

“Good.” Then the stairs creaked again as she retreated.

I lay there panting, Spencer hovering over me. His goofy, toothy grin reminded me of the younger, smaller version of the guy I’d known for so many years. As I stared up at him, the smile faded. His breaths slowed and deepened, and the muscles around his eyes softened. I thought maybe he’d roll to the other side of the mattress, but he stayed put, balancing over me with stiff, outstretched arms, his blue eyes locked onto mine.

I felt my face grow hot, and for the second time that week, I felt embarrassed with my best friend.

“Bea . . .”

I didn’t even give him a chance to finish. Something in my stomach gurgled and tightened, like I’d eaten raw eggs. Whatever I thought Spencer was about to say, it instilled an instantaneous panicked reaction, and I needed to do something—anything—to cut him off.

“I have a plan to get Jesse back,” I blurted out.

Every muscle in Spencer’s neck tensed up at once, giving him the wide, veiny look of a pro wrestler posing for the camera. His eyes darted away from my face as he pushed himself off me.

Excerpted from I'M NOT YOUR MANIC PIXIE DREAM GIRL © Copyright 2016 by Gretchen McNeil. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

About the Author

Gretchen McNeil is an opera singer, a writer, and a clown. She is also the author of Get Even as well as Ten, which was a 2013 YALSA Top Ten Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers, a Romantic Times Top Pick, and an ALA Booklist Top Ten Horror Fiction for Youth and was nominated for Best Young Adult Contemporary Novel of 2012 by Romantic Times. Gretchen blogs with the Enchanted Inkpot and is a founding member of the vlog group the YARebels.



Enter the giveaway below -- all you need to do is tell us about your favorite MPDG in literature or film or popular culture!

Edited to add: I apologize if the post didn't explain the MPDG enough. If you're still a little unclear on the concept, a MPDG is (as per Wikipedia) "female characters who have eccentric personality quirks and are unabashedly girlish. They invariably serve as the romantic interest for a (most often brooding or depressed) male protagonist. "Urban Dictionary adds: "A pretty, outgoing, wacky female romantic lead whose sole purpose is to help broody male characters lighten up and enjoy their lives. " As characters, they're often underdeveloped (beyond the quirkiness of course)...

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