All About Lucienne Diver and FANGTABULOUS

BY MINDI SCOTT

FangtabulousLucienne Diver’s Vamped series has received some rave reviews over the years, and I want to share with you a quick sample of those:

For Fangtabulous: “Another amusing romp in the series, this installment also sees its hardy heroine beginning to mature, adding further dimension to her character. Reminiscent of Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse and Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum, Gina never fails to deliver the goods.” —Kirkus Reviews

For the Vamped series: “Readers who appreciate Diver’s light, dry humor will welcome back feisty Gina and her hunky boyfriend, Bobby… a welcome lighthearted departure from gloomy vampire romance.” —Booklist

Diver successfully creates a vampire teen who is active and assertive and has no time for angst. Gina has a biting, sarcastic voice that makes the Vamped books quick and entertaining reads.”—VOYA

I haven’t yet had the chance to check out this series, but the promise of dry humor and a sarcastic narrator definitely make these sound like something I’d enjoy! Happily for me, Lucienne Diver recently answered some questions about herself and her latest title, Fangatublous. There’s more information about the book and the author after the questions. 🙂

At age eight, what did you want to be when you grew up? And at age eighteen? And while you’re at it, what about at age twenty-eight?

Lucienne Diver: At eight I wanted to be a cryptozoologist and discover definitive proof of the Loch Ness Monster and other cryptids. At eighteen I wanted to be a writer and an anthropologist. I have degrees in both. At twenty-eight—you mean just yesterday?—I still want to be a writer, but I want to be better and more successful at it than I was at twenty-seven.

Which Breakfast-Club-style label would have best fit your teenage self? 

LD: I’d have fit every geeky classification you could come up with: brain, geek, dweeb…. I was in honors and AP classes; I played Dungeons & Dragons; I was never any good at sports. I sang in the chorus but developed a psychosomatic illness every time I had to sing solo in front of people, so while I did theatre I quickly gave up on going out for the musicals. Hmm, maybe that makes me a bit of the basket case as well. Oh, yeah, this question is good for my rep. 😉

Without giving away too much from your newest book, which character or scene from it are you the most pleased to have created, and why?

LD: I won’t say who or why because I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but there are some scenes where one of the characters goes a little crazy. Those scenes were a lot of fun to write, and I’m pretty pleased with how they turned out. Why those scenes in particular? I think because I doubted my ability to do them justice, so I feel that I stretched myself as a writer and it’s one less thing to fear in the future.

Which are your favorite movies to watch again and again?

LD: I’m lucky I have time to watch things once. Very rarely do I get to watch anything again and again, but lately if I do it’s not a movie, but select episodes of Sherlock, the BBC’s wonderful Holmes & Watson series.

And, now, the most important question of all: Beatles or Elvis? Please support your answer. 😉

LD: The Beatles! For one, I like their music better. For another, I read a People Magazine article years ago when I was stuck under the dryer at a hair salon about Elvis and his courtship and marriage with Priscilla Presley. It was enough to turn me off of him for life. (Although I have to admit that his song “In the Ghetto” makes me cry every time I hear it.)

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About the book:

Gina Covello and her band of federal fugitives are on the run after taking down a secret (and sinister) government facility. Strapped without cash or credit cards—a fate worse than death for Gina—the rebels must find a place to lay low. They roll into Salem, Massachusetts, the most haunted town in America and the only place they have friends flying under the radar. But within a day, Gina and her gang are embroiled in a murder mystery of the supernatural kind.

Someone—or something—is strangling young women, and it’s rumored to be the ghost of Sheriff Corwin, late of the Salem Witch trials. Is it the ghostly Sheriff or is someone on this side of the veil using the famous story as a cover up? Gina is determined to get to the bottom of this mystery, and she needs to do it before a paranormal reporter on the scene exposes them for what they are…fanged federal fugitives.

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About the author:

Lucienne Diver writes the humorous, suspenseful Vamped series of young adult vampire novels for Flux Books, including VampedRevampedFangtastic and the most recent, Fangtabulous. Her short stories have been included in the Strip-Mauled and Fangs for the Mammaries anthologies edited by Esther Friesner (Baen Books), and her essay on abuse is included in the anthology Dear Bully: 70 Authors Tell Their Stories (HarperTeen). She also writes the Latter-Day Olympians urban fantasy series for Samhain (Bad Blood, Crazy in the Blood and the forthcoming Rise of the Blood).

Publisher: www.fluxnow.com
Author: www.luciennediver.com
Author’s blog: http://luciennediver.wordpress.com

Very Superstitious (aka The 1st Book I Read This Year Will Dictate Everything)

by Michelle Andreani

So, I used to have this ritual: my first read of  a fresh year had to be a book I loved. The first published words I read in January had to be magic. And I know that’s kind of flashing my OCD membership card, but what better way to start a new year than with some good reading mojo?

To ensure true book love on January 1st, the book I read had to be one I’d already fallen in love with. I mean, new books were too unpredictable! What if I hated this new book? Or worse. What if it was a meh-fest and I didn’t even care enough to hate it? Are you kidding me? MY YEAR WOULD BE RUINED.
looking-for-alibrandi

But this year, something happened.

My library books were reaching their due date.

I was itching for something different.

And so, my first book of 2013 was brand new.

A risk!

. . .

Fine, it was a Melina Marchetta book. Not really a risk, admittedly, because it’s a statistical impossibility to read a bad Melina Marchetta book since “a bad Melina Marchetta book” is like, not even a thing. It was a (maybe strategized) cheat, for sure, to choose this one from the pile, but it totally counts as a new read (and you can’t take that away from me!). The book was Looking for Alibrandi. And I did love it. It made me laugh and tear up and most definitely swirled up some good reading juju for 2013.

So, yep, I broke my old ritual (have mercy). I didn’t start this year with the security of words I already know and love, but with shiny, exciting new words that I never saw coming. And that’s not a bad way to start fresh. 🙂

Now, tell me! What was your first read of 2013?

Here’s to 2013!

by Michelle Andreani

Whew, 2012! It’s been quite a year — and frankly, not one I’m sorry to see go. But that’s not 2012’s fault. You see, I put a lot of pressure on this year to be The Year. I expected big things in my writing, big changes in my professional and personal lives, and 2012 certainly has a nice symmetrical sound do it, so why wouldn’t this be The Year?! My Year.

2012 never stood a chance. Poor thing.

These past 365 days were hardly a loss. I traveled more than I ever have in a single year, and I wrote more than I did in 2011. But compared to my 2012 Expectations of Glorious Glory (I wanted to visit the UK, which I didn’t. I wanted to write an entire novel, which I didn’t.), these accomplishments sound … wimpy. And that’s stupid.

So, here’s to a frothy new year! One not weighed down in expectation and stress from the get-go, but helium-filled with possibility and promise. Goals that make us bright and better. The little accomplishments that make us proud of ourselves, and make the little failures seem not so bad. And milkshake rewards, of course!

Let’s do this, 2013. Here’s to a happy, happy one. 🙂

All About Laurie Faria Stolarz and DEADLY LITTLE LESSONS

BY MINDI SCOTT

webIMG_2794f1Author Laurie Faria Stolarz stopped by today to answer a few questions for me and to share some details about her latest novel, Deadly Little Lessons —including a chapter excerpt!

First, the questions:

At age eight, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Laurie Faria Stolarz: I wanted to be a writer.
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 And at age eighteen?
 LFS: A writer.
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And while you’re at it, what about at age twenty-eight?
LFS: A writer.  I’ve been writing since before I could put pen to paper. As a child, I would make up stories and tell them to whomever would listen.  Then, when I finally could write, I’d draft scripts and have my dolls recite the lines and act out the performances..
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Which Breakfast-Club-style label would have best fit your teenage self?

LFS: Probably Molly Ringwald, but less popular.  Wasn’t she described as super-popular in that movie?  I wasn’t a loner like Ally Sheedy. I had a solid group of friends, and could blend in with different groups.
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Without giving away too much from your newest book, which character or scene from it are you the most pleased to have created, and why?

LFS: I love the opening scene, where Camelia gets a phone call and learns a painful truth – one that changes her life forever.
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Which are your favorite movies to watch again and again?
LFS: Never Been Kissed, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, Juno, Green Card, Once, The Devil Wears Prada, Bridget Jones Diary, Thelma & Louise, Mean Girls, Moonstruck, Clueless, Under the Tuscan Sun, and anything with John Cusack.
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And, now, the most important question of all: Beatles or Elvis? Please support your answer. 😉
 LFS: The Beatles. Growing up, my older brother would play their albums over and over, and so I’ve sort of been brainwashed.
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Front_Cover_-_Deadly_Little_Lessons

About Deadly Little Lessons:

Camelia Hammond’s trying junior year of high school is finally over…but her troubles aren’t. After she discovers a painful truth about her family, she escapes to a summer arts program in Rhode Island.

Determined to put family – and boyfriend – drama behind her, she throws herself into her artwork. At the arts school, she gets caught up in the case of Sasha Beckerman, a local girl who is missing. Even though all signs suggest that the teen ran away, Camelia senses otherwise. Eager to help the girl, she launches her own investigation. Meanwhile, Camelia realizes how much she misses Ben, despite being committed to Adam.

But time is running out for Sasha, and Camelia will have to trust her powers if she’s to save her. Will the lessons Camelia has learned in the past give her the strength to do so?

Want a sneak peek? Go here: http://www.lauriestolarz.com/dllessons.pdf

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About the Author: 

Laurie Faria Stolarz is the author of Deadly Little Secret, Deadly Little Lies, Deadly Little Games, Deadly Little Voices, Project 17, and Bleed, as well as the bestselling Blue is for Nightmares series. Born and raised in Salem, Massachusetts, Stolarz attended Merrimack College and received an MFA in creative writing from Emerson College in Boston.

For more information, please visit her web site at www.lauriestolarz.com

Two Books, All the Joy! (A Giveaway.)

Love Actually, ugly sweaters, twinkling lights. The holiday season is obviously a time for Awesome Things. But we all know the awesomest thing is giving, and one of the awesomest-est things is giving books! So, in the spirit of goodwill and spreading glittery joy, Mindi and I are having a giveaway! Mindi’s offering up a copy of one of her books and well, since I don’t have a book, I’m giving away a book I wish I’d written. Fun!

It’s just our way of saying, “Thanks for stopping by, now relax with a couple books, you deserve it.” 🙂

So, here’s what’s up for grabs for 1 lucky winner:

*UK paperback edition of THE SKY IS EVERYWHERE by Jandy Nelson

Signed copy of LIVE THROUGH THIS by Mindi Scott

And Mindi’s throwing in some FREEFALL/LIVE THROUGH THIS bookmarks!

     

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The giveaway is US ONLY. (Sorry! Hopefully we’ll have an international giveaway next time.)

All you have to do is fill out the Google form below. The giveaway ends at midnight PST, the morning of December 24th. (Or the night of December 23rd, whichever makes more sense to you!)

Yay! Good luck! *sprinkles good luck dust*

ETA: Congrats to Elisquared on winning the giveaway! And many, many thanks to all who entered! ❤

Zombies on the Brain!*

BY MINDI SCOTT

*See what I did there? 😀

Anyone who knows me knows that I have never liked watching horror or suspense movies. For the most part, I avoid anything that looks like it has the potential to scare me. The same goes for the books I choose to read too.

Vampire Duck

I can still clearly remember night after night as a child, lying in bed awake with my mind racing with thoughts of The Wicked Witch of the West, Maleficent in dragon form, and Those Gross-Looking Pale People Who Bite You. I also remember being age twenty-two and having to keep flashlight next to me while I slept. Just in case any dead people showed up in my apartment.

(Side note: Typing that last paragraph just reminded me of the time I watched Once Bitten with my cousin as a kid and later explained to my mom that the reason the main character had been chosen by the Countess was because he was still a virgin. My mom didn’t like hearing those words come out of my nine-year-old mouth, I tell you what.)

So when I heard well over a year ago that Courtney Summers, one my favorite authors, was getting a novel about zombies published, I didn’t know what to do. I want to read all of Courtney’s books forever and ever, but how could I read This is Not a Test?

this is not a test

In the meantime, I discovered that Emma Stone had been in a movie called Zombieland. I love Emma Stone and I want to watch her movies, but how could I watch that one?

The solution to my zombie dilemmas came from the book Zombies Vs. Unicorns. A friend gave it to me to borrow, saying that I didn’t have to read the zombie stories if I didn’t want to, but that I might just like some of them. I was wary, but I wasn’t reading anything else at the time so I decided to give it a shot. For the unicorns only! But I ended up reading all of the short stories in the book, and I realized afterward that I’d enjoyed a greater portion of the ones about zombies than of the unicorns.

Whoa, right?

After making it through those short stories, I went on to read The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan. I’d actually had the author sign the book for me at an event in 2010, but I had no intention of ever reading it. (And, by the way, I just finished her two other novels in the trilogy during the past week.)

And that was when I came to strongly suspect that I could probably experience more zombies without nightmares. I’ve since watched (and loved) Zombieland, and read (and loved) This is Not a Test, which might be my very favorite Courtney Summers novel so far.

It isn’t the zombies that interest me so much in these stories, of course. It’s the living people. It’s the desperate situations they find themselves in and the choices they make about survival and human connections. I love to ponder the potential metaphors about the zombies, and I find it all so inspiring–these stories about people who have to decide how just badly they want to keep living and how they’re going to go about it.

I don’t know if I can officially say that I’m a convert to zombie stories on the whole, or that I’ll ever have the urge to branch out to reading or watching another facets of horror.  But for now, I know that the trailer for Warm Bodies makes me smile and tear up every time I watch it. I can hardly wait for this movie. (And lucky Michelle has already seen it, by the way! She says it’s cute!!!!!!!!!)

What about you? How do you feel about zombie stories? Any recommendations?

All about Eileen Cook and THE ALMOST TRUTH

Here's a dark picture of Catherine, me, Denise Jaden, Joelle Anthony, and EILEEN COOK!

Here’s a dark picture of Catherine Knutsson, me, Denise Jaden, Joelle Anthony, and EILEEN COOK! Can you see us?

BY MINDI SCOTT

I’ve met author Eileen Cook a couple of times now, and was recently involved in a writing workshop that she organized in British Columbia. Our books are published by the same imprint AND we have the same editor, which means that we are practically related, right? I’m so pleased to have Eileen on the blog today! 🙂

I’ll tell you a bit about her newest book (The Almost Truth) below, but first, Eileen answered some questions for me.

At age eight, what did you want to be when you grew up? And at age eighteen? And while you’re at it, what about at age twenty-eight? 

Eileen Cook: Writer, writer, writer. I was very focused.  I didn’t think it would necessarily happen, it seemed like wishing to be a princess or a wizard when you grow up, a nice idea, but not practical.  I worked as a counselor for years as my day job. It’s great work for a writer because you spend your days trying to figure out why people do what they do.

Which Breakfast-Club-style label would have best fit your teenage self? 

EC: Weird gawky drama girl who dressed like Molly Ringwald.

Without giving away too much from your newest book, which character or scene from it are you the most pleased to have created, and why?

EC: I adore Brendan. This is a common problem for me, falling in love with cute boys that I write. Brendan is from the wrong side of the tracks and has a questionable sense of morality, but he’s fiercely loyal to his friends. I admire his tenacity and sense of humor. I always fall for the funny guys.
Which are your favorite movies to watch again and again?

EC: Love Actually, Gone with the Wind, Dial M for Murder, and Shawshank Redemption.

And, now, the most important question of all: Beatles or Elvis? Please support your answer. 😉   

EC: Oooooh hard question.  I listen to more of the Beatles music, but I’ve had a chance to visit Graceland. You haven’t really lived until you’ve seen the beauty that is Graceland. It’s a shrine to tacky over the top-ness.

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About the author:

Eileen Cook is a multi-published author with her novels appearing in eight different languages. She spent most of her teen years wishing she were someone else or somewhere else, which is great training for a writer.

You can read more about Eileen, her books, and the things that strike her as funny at www.eileencook.com. Eileen lives in Vancouver with her husband and two dogs and no longer wishes to be anyone or anywhere else.

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13505666About the book:  

The Almost Truth / ISBN: 978-1442440197
Release Date: December 4, 2012
Summary:  From the author of Unraveling Isobel and The Education of Hailey Kendrick, a smart, romantic novel about a teenage con artist who might be in over her head.

Sadie can’t wait to get away from her backwards small town, her delusional mom, her jailbird dad, and the tiny trailer where she was raised…even though leaving those things behind also means leaving Brendan. Sadie wants a better life, and she has been working steadily toward it, one con at a time.

But when Sadie’s mother wipes out Sadie’s savings, her escape plan is suddenly
gone. She needs to come up with a lot of cash—and fast—or she’ll be stuck in this town forever.

With Brendan’s help, she devises a plan—the ultimate con—to get the money. But the more lies Sadie spins, the more she starts falling for her own hoax…and perhaps for the wrong boy. Sadie wanted to change her life, but she wasn’t prepared to have it flipped upside down by her own deception. With her future at stake and her heart on the line, suddenly it seems like she has a lot more than just money to lose….

 

Something unprecedented!

BY MINDI SCOTT

When Michelle and I started this blog, it was to chronicle our adventures in writing a book together. Then . . . we kind of realized we weren’t having adventures together so much, so mostly we’ve just written about other stuff that’s reading and writing related.

DSC07077

(This was never the type of adventure that we had in mind)

BUT SOMETHING ADVENTURE-Y HAS HAPPENED.

Okay, maybe not. But something unprecedented did.

So, the way we do things is that we alternate writing chapters. Michelle wrote the first chapter, so she writes all of the odd-numbered chapters from Cloudy’s point of view. I write the even-numbered chapters from Kyle’s point of view.

Until recently, this has gone smoothly. We’ve been able to line up events in chapters with the narrator for whom each chapter makes the most sense. (How many more times can I put the word “chapters” in this post?)

However, right now, we are in a place where a particular thing that is about to happen (and has to happen now because of where we are in the story) is going to be told from Kyle’s point of view. We both always anticipated that Michelle would be the one writing this part because it has more to do with Cloudy’s arc. But the only way to make it work timing-wise, would be if I wedged in some other thing for Kyle to do, so that this certain chapter can be left waiting for Michelle’s next turn at writing. I’m not going to do that, though, because THESE CHARACTERS NEED TO GET ON WITH IT.

Suddenly, I’m in the position of having to know what Cloudy’s out-of-town friends are like, how they’ll speak, and what they’ll all be doing–simply because I’m now the one introducing them. I spent several hours on Gchat, grilling Michelle about them, and I feel like I have some ideas for how this chapter will play out that will be interesting (a very important thing, you’ll all agree!). But it’s also inevitable that this isn’t going to go exactly the way Michelle would have written it. In fact, it might be very, very different from her vision.

I . . . hope that’s going to be okay. Eeeeeep.

Cloudy Snippet #2

by Michelle Andreani
“Thank God,” I groan, reaching to click off the ancient CD player. The sounds of overlapping guitars and the la-la-la-ing singer stop abruptly, my car now mercifully silent. I shudder all over like the power button is covered in raw meatloaf. “No more music by sad boys.”
Zoë, in the passenger seat, crosses her arms over her chest. “You said I could choose.”
“My mistake.” I put the Honda in Park and turn off the engine.
“Well, they’re not sad. They’re—”
“Wimpy.”
“Passionate,” my little sister says, decisively and dreamy-eyed.
“Oh, gag.” I snap off my seatbelt and twist to grab my puffy coat from the backseat. Slipping it on, I say, “Just so you know, on the way home we’re listening to someone . . . blond.”
Zoë’s eyes scrunch up behind her glasses. “Blond?”
“Blond”—I count it off on one finger, then more—“and fond of drum machines. And clapping.”

All about Shannon Messenger and KEEPER OF THE LOST CITIES

BY MINDI SCOTT
Shannon Messenger and I are publishing sisters in so many ways. Not only do we have the same editor (the lovely Liesa Abrams) and books at the same imprint, we ALSO have books that came out on exactly the same day (October 2nd, 2012)!
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I’m pleased that Shannon answered some questions for me today to celebrate her middle-grade debut, Keeper of the Lost Cities!
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At age eight, what did you want to be when you grew up? And at age eighteen? And while you’re at it, what about at age twenty-eight?
Shannon Messenger: At eight I was still in the prime of my “I wanna be a Disney Animator” phase. Not long after I realized that animators needed to be able to draw the same thing over and over–and that even my stick figures don’t look alike–so I dropped that idea. At eighteen I was all about: “I wanna go to USC film school and study screenwriting and work in hollywood”–and I actually made all of those things happen. And… quickly discovered that Hollywood was SUCH a wrong fit for me and changed course again. By twenty eight I working VERY hard to get my book ready to be published. Still took another year for that to happen. But it did, and I’m hoping this is a career I’ll be sticking with for a long time.
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Which Breakfast-Club-style label would have best fit your teenage self? 
SM: Much as I wish I could claim otherwise, I know everyone will call shenanigans on me if I don’t say, “the princess.” My eyeshadow obsession and love of all things modcloth sort of seal my fate on that one.
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Without giving away too much from your newest book, which character or scene from it are you the most pleased to have created, and why?
SM: It would have to be , this snarky, hilarious 14-year-old boy who has quickly become the fan favorite. He’s not a character I EVER thought I would write, and I really don’t know where any of his dialogue comes from. I’m always rereading the scenes after I write them and thinking, “did I really type this?”
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Which are your favorite movies to watch again and again?

SM: Mean Girls. Clueless. Pirates of the Caribbean. Anything by John Hughes or Cameron Crowe. The Kiera Knightley Pride and Prejudice. Any of The Lord of the Rings. This is fun–I could keep going. But I’m betting I’m boring you.

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And, now, the most important question of all: Beatles or Elvis? Please support your answer. 😉 
SM: Beatles, all the way. I’m sure people will fling rotten things at me for saying this, but most Elvis just feels so over-the-top it’s almost spoofy to me. Maybe I was jaded by watching Uncle Jessie impersonate Elvis too many times on Full House (Have Mercy!), but it all feels like a schtick. And I know he INVENTED the schtick. But still…  Whereas the Beatles have that timeless feel that I will never get tired of, no matter how many times I had to listen to my dad sing their songs off key.
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About the author:
Shannon Messenger graduated from the USC School of Cinematic Arts where she learned–among other things–that she liked watching movies much better than making them. She also regularly eats cupcakes for breakfast, sleeps with a bright blue stuffed elephant named Ella, and occasionally gets caught talking to imaginary people. So it was only natural for her to write stories for children. KEEPER OF THE LOST CITIES is her first middle grade novel, launching October 2, 2012. LET THE SKY FALL, a young adult novel, will follow in Spring 2013. She lives in Southern California with her husband and an embarrassing number of cats. Find her online at shannonmessenger.com.
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About the book: 

Twelve-year-old Sophie Foster has a secret. She’s a Telepath—someone who hears the thoughts of everyone around her. It’s a talent she’s never known how to explain.

Everything changes the day she meets Fitz, a mysterious boy who appears out of nowhere and also reads minds. She discovers there’s a place she does belong, and that staying with her family will place her in grave danger. In the blink of an eye, Sophie is forced to leave behind everything and start a new life in a place that is vastly different from anything she has ever known.

Sophie has new rules to learn and new skills to master, and not everyone is thrilled that she has come “home.” There are secrets buried deep in Sophie’s memory—secrets about who she really is and why she was hidden among humans—that other people desperately want. Would even kill for.

In this page-turning debut, Shannon Messenger creates a riveting story where one girl must figure out why she is the key to her brand-new world, before the wrong person finds the answer first.