Cover Reveals, Giveaways, SPIN

Cover Reveal: SPIN

SPIN ebook Cover

Cover Design: Queau Designs

Release Date: April 2019

BLURB

Sixteen-year-old Jenna Kemp is a typical high school girl, complete with a loyal group of friends and a seemingly understanding boyfriend. But when the demons from Jenna’s childhood resurface, she’s suddenly spinning out of control–drinking, partying–anything to numb the pain of the past. After distancing herself from her friends and befriending an outcast, her friends and family start questioning and judging her choices.

But when Jenna doesn’t come home one night, her friends and family realize it’s more than just adolescent rebellion. Jenna’s mysterious disappearance proves that there’s more on the line than they realized. As they sift through a series of her personal diaries, the truth becomes terrifying. Will Jenna’s final diary entry reveal the greatest mystery of all–her whereabouts?

GIVEAWAY

★✩★ Amazon Gift Cards! ★✩★

See the pinned post on my Facebook page for details.

Blog Tour, Release Blitz

Facts About Donuts in an Empty Field by Rachel Barnard

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Release Date: June 3, 2016 (National Donut Day!)

Cover Designer: Starla Huchton

Synopsis

Letting go of anger is life’s greatest challenge.

Vanessa Smith hasn’t been the same since her father’s death. A hero until the end, he died saving a restaurant owner’s wife and son from a burning building. Nessa has always blamed the boy, Ben, for her loss, and her thoughts are consumed with ways to make him as miserable as she is.

Nichole Adams knows Nessa can never heal until she learns to let go of her hatred, but bringing back her best friend is proving more difficult than she could’ve imagined. In a last ditch effort to break Nessa’s obsession, Nichole hopes signing up for the local food challenge is just the thing to bust her out of her shell.

A single choice defines the road ahead for Nessa. Doing the right thing isn’t easy, but living with the consequences of doing nothing might be worse.

***

10 random Facts about Donuts in an Empty Field and the For the Love of Donuts Series:

  1. Vanessa owns a corgi named Bluster.
  2. Vanessa’s dad tries to beat the world record for most powdered donuts eaten in 3 minutes.
  3. Vanessa and Nichole live in Sarasota, FL.
  4. Nichole and Vanessa share the same birthday and are both 17 years old.
  5. There is a local food challenge the girls try to beat.
  6. Vanessa has a fear of anything related to fire – matches, lighters, gas burning stoves, etc.
  7. Nichole and her Mother are hoarders to a certain degree.
  8. Nichole is the same size she was in the 6th grade.
  9. Vanessa wears a dog costume in one scene.
  10. Pictures are taken under the statue Unconditional Surrender in Sarasota.

About the Author

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“Author, Reviewer, and Donut Enthusiast”

My greatest accomplishments have been eating an entire half gallon of ice cream in one sitting, winning a boot toss, and writing a fictional novel based on my high school years. The first book in my For the Love of Donuts Books, Donuts in an Empty Field, is available June of 2016. My other YA novels include Ataxia and the Ravine of Lost Dreams and At One’s Beast. For more information and to see what I’m up to, visit my website: rachelauthorbarnard.com

Blog | Facebook | Goodreads | Amazon

***

An interview with Rachel:

What inspired you to write Donuts in an Empty Field?

Donuts in an Empty Field is the book I’ve always meant to write. I’ve been calling it my “fictionalized biography” because the inspiration for many of the characters and the settings comes from my high school years and my relationship with my best friend at the time. Really, I wrote the book for her and to immortalize how I felt about her.

When did you start writing this book? Did you outline this novel or plan it out at all?

I’ve always meant to write this particular book, but it was a spur-of the moment decision. I was planning on writing a murder-mystery for NaNoWriMo 2014, but wasn’t ready. Donuts in an Empty Field took over that nano from day 1 because I could sit down and pants it out. Every manuscript since Donuts has been outlined to some degree. Outlines are so helpful and I recommend it to every writer, even if it’s not overly detailed. It’s taken me quite a number of drafts to work Donuts down into what it is today and I’ve since created an outline for this book to work backwards from.

Talk about the writing process, how long it took, what you did, etc.:

I’ve spent so long on this novel, I’ve lost track of some of the effort involved in its creation and revision. I started the writing during NaNoWrimo 2014, for a total word count of 64,540 by the end of the month. I wrote every day and spent between 40-75 hours writing that month. Then I set the manuscript aside and worked on other projects. I decided I wanted to publish the book on National Donut Day, but 2015 was moving too fast for me and I tabled the manuscript until 2016. I picked it back up again and began working on it with my local critique group. I began seriously working on it again at the end of 2015 when I overhauled the plot and then submitted it to a lovely online group of people who gave me such great feedback! I spent more countless hours reworking the plot and re-reading the manuscript before handing it off chapter by chapter to my professional editor. Every hour she puts in, I match and more. And finally, I was ready to publish and had everything set up to hit ‘go.’ This book has taken more time, effort, and tears, than anything else I’ve ever worked on.

Why would someone pick up and read this book?

Donuts in an Empty Field is for a young adult audience, specifically teenagers or emerging adults who want to read about a protagonist who’s working through grief and how to be a best friend amidst personal issues. This book is also a fun insight into the teenage mind and what really goes on after school.

What does this book say about society?

Grief is very personal and others can’t and won’t always understand how you are healing or what you need to heal. Sometimes teenagers act out for a reason, and in Vanessa’s case, she has a lot of things on her mental plate and she needs help. She needs a best friend to help her interact with the world sometimes.

What can someone learn from this book?

Letting go of anger is life’s greatest challenge. How can Vanessa let go of her anger toward this boy who caused the death of her Dad? How can anyone let go of what some would call righteous anger? What does it mean to move on and live your life, even after something like the death of a parent happens? Those who read Donuts will be able to understand and answer these questions.

What books are similar to this book?

Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen, If I stay by Gayle Foreman, and Dumplin’ by Julie Murchpy

Are all the characters based on real people in your life? Was any character or situation inspired by anyone you know or anything that has happened in your life?

Almost every character in Donuts is inspired by a real person. Vanessa is the girl I wish I was and am glad I wasn’t in high school. She is taller than I am, but more insecure than I was. Nichole is the true inspiration for this story and based upon my best friend in high school. The main story – that of a girl inspired by her best friend to move past her anger and grief to live her life and enjoy everything around her – was inspired by my best friend and the way she pulled me out of my sheltered cocoon to truly immerse myself in the joys of life. The Dad character is based on my Dad, but only to a certain degree. The Mom character is not much at all like my mom, she is more aloof to her daughter’s troubles and doesn’t want to get involved as much as my mom did.

How do you think Nichole’s true life counterpart will feel when she reads this book? Or the dad or the mom?

The more I’ve edited this book, the more I fear the real life counterparts that the characters are based upon will not like what I’ve done. The characters are only inspired by their real life counterparts and are not meant to be a negative portrayal of that person. My characters have grown so much since I first penned them that they’ve run away with their faults to such a degree that they almost don’t resemble their real life counterparts anymore. I hope that my Dad, Mom, and Nichole counterparts appreciate that they inspired such important characters and are not offended by anything negative the characters do in the book.

Tell me about your favorite character. What’s your favorite thing about them?

I love Bluster the Corgi. My original opening line: “My Dad loved precisely three things: Donuts, corgis, and being friendly,” was a head nod to my Dad and his passions, but with a slight twist. Corgi should have been bulldog, but I wanted to change that one little detail and I think corgis are super cute and have such unique personality traits that the dog in the story just had to be one. I love that most corgis wag their entire butts when they’re excited because their tails are so short and that they are so squat and close to the ground.


Rachel requested that participants in this book tour reveal their favorite type of donut. To be honest, I can’t remember the last time I ate a donut! But I do remember going to the local Dunkin’ Donuts (later called Honeydip Donuts) when I was a kid. My favorite flavor was the traditional glazed chocolate. 🙂

What’s your favorite type of donut?

Book Reviews

Book Review: Living in Suspension by Winifred Morris

Living in Suspension is about Sky, an unhappy teen who despises high school. At first, I didn’t like Sky very much and felt that his problems were a direct result of his poor choices and bad attitude. He doesn’t put forth much effort academically, he skips school, his group of friends is comprised of dropouts and troublemakers, he acts like a jerk to his parents, and his overall demeanor is angry and mopey. So why the four-star rating? Because by the end of this novel I grew to understand and like this character, who happens to be the perfect portrait of an average kid who simply isn’t hardwired to succeed in a traditional classroom setting. I also enjoy Morris’ writing style. She takes her time letting you get to know her characters, and she has a way with inserting a bit of humor where you wouldn’t normally expect it.

In addition to Sky’s difficulties with succeeding in mainstream classes, Morris highlights his battles with authority, his struggles to be a good friend, and his crush on the popular neighbor girl. I should also mention that there’s a story within this story. The secondary story is a novel Sky is working on for a creative writing class–the only class he’s ever really enjoyed. This novel ends up providing clarity and hope for Sky in the end.

Even though Living in Suspension is geared toward teens, I think adults would benefit from reading it as well. As a warning to teachers who might want to use this book in the classroom (because it would be perfect for discussion related to differentiated learning environments and teen issues in general) and parents, this book contains instances of swearing and drug use. These instances added authenticity to the subject matter, and nothing was over-the-top or added simply for shock value.

A few of my favorite parts:

“Then she does this smile that seems to make the years fall away again. On warm summer nights when we used to play hide and seek, whenever she found me, she would smile just like that. But she shakes her hair the way she did before, and it’s too red, too pretty. All those years since we were friends jump back into place. She’s one of those girls who smiles at everyone.”

“I was the extra luggage my parents insisted on dragging along even though they would probably have no use for it later.”

“I don’t know why I cried, but I remember how it felt–the twisting in my stomach, the tightness in my chest. In fact, now I’m feeling it again, as if memories carry their feelings with them kind of like bad smells. You open one up, and there it is smothering you again. And they seem to work the way worm holes are supposed to work in space, carrying you on to other bad-smelling memories.”

Disclosure: I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

Rating: 4 STARS

GOODREADS | AMAZON

Book Promotion, Don't Call Me Kit Kat

Don’t Call Me Kit Kat is just $.99 for a limited time!

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Available only on AMAZON.

*Sale ends on 7/27.

Description:

Junior high is where things really start to happen. Cliques form and break apart. Couples are made and destroyed. And a reputation is solidified that you won’t ever be able to escape. Everything you do and say, and everyone you spend your time with, matters.

Katie Mills knows that. She gets it. That’s why she tried so hard to get in with the cool girls at school. And why she was so devastated when those efforts found her detained for shoplifting and laughed out of cheer squad tryouts.

But Katie has more to worry about than just fitting in. Her parents are divorced and always fighting. Her sister never has time for her. And her friends all seem to be drifting apart. Even worse? The boy she has a crush on is dating the mean girl at school.

Everything is a mess, and Katie doesn’t feel like she has control over any of it. Certainly not over her weight, which has always topped out at slightly pudgier than normal—at least, according to her mother.

So when she happens to catch one of the popular girls throwing up in the bathroom one day, it sparks an idea. A match that quickly engulfs her life in flames.

Is there any going back once she gets started down this path?

And would she even want to if she could?

Still not sure if this is the book for you? Visit Goodreads to find out what other readers had to say about Don’t Call Me Kit Kat.

Book Reviews

Book Review – Mine: A Love Story by Scott Prussing

I purchased Mine: A Love Story without knowing anything about it because the cover appealed to me. I had recently finished reading You by Caroline Kepnes, so for some reason, I thought this book might be similar. (Deranged person obsesses over someone after one date–something like that.) Turns out, this book is a young adult novel about a young woman and the new relationships she develops during her first year in college. She makes some nice, reliable girlfriends, but runs into some trouble when it comes to the guys (one in particular, rather). As I read this book, I constantly felt like I was waiting for something to happen, and for the most part, nothing I thought was going to happen happened. And nothing particularly dramatic occurred either, which isn’t a bad thing, but I tend to enjoy over-the-top scandal and gut-wrenching heartache.

Memorable Quote:

“A girl’s figure is the one place where B’s or C’s are way better than A’s.”

This is a good, clean YA read with A LOT of references to Taylor Swift. In my opinion, it would be most appropriate for a high schooler.

Rating: 3 STARS

Goodreads | Amazon

Book Reviews

Book Review: More than a Moment by Kristin Albright

More than a Moment starts out with Julia’s boyfriend (Tyler) abruptly breaking up with her just before their senior year in high school. As if that isn’t enough, Julia is also a bit on the outs with her friends after being laid up with a horseback riding injury over the summer, and one of her so-called best friends appears to have grown much closer to Tyler than normal. Luckily, she strikes up a friendship with Lucas (a classmate and immigrant farmhand who works for Tyler’s parents) and, in doing so, learns a lot about true friendship, love, following your heart and standing up for what you believe in.

“For anyone who has ever wanted more time.”

I suspected from the opening line that this book would touch my heart, and I was right. However, I wasn’t expecting to feel so many different emotions—from sadness, anger and anticipation to embarrassment for the characters and relief. All a result of the themes covered in this lovely YA novel: friendship, peer pressure, bullying, stereotypes, racism, immigration, young love and romance.

Aside from the range of emotions I felt while reading, I loved the realistic interactions between the characters, all of the interesting information about horses, and the way Albright tackles the topic of illegal immigration. This is the first fictional book for teens I’ve encountered that highlights several current points related to the issue, all of which are seamlessly woven into the storyline so as not to make the book seem like a lesson in sociology or politics.

Two final things that really tugged at my heart strings were the romance between Julia and Lucas, and Albright’s focus on the significance of blinks (and all that can occur with just one) throughout the story. Here are some of my favorite romance- and blink-related quotes:

“Maybe that’s what life is—one giant series of blinks. The problem is you never know which ones will become your story until after they pass. It can make you want to squeeze your eyes shut with fear, never to blink again, or flutter your eyelashes like crazy, just to see what’s ahead.”

“But there’s no rewind and no fast-forward—just blink after unexpected blink. It doesn’t seem fair how fast the good blinks seem to pass us by.”

“His eyes sparkled like a guy who hadn’t had a bad blink day in a long time.”

“I stared at our fingers as they intertwined with one another—a zigzag of caramel and cream.”

“So, in a perfect world we’d say lots of hellos and goodbyes?” I teased. “Millions—all back to back—so we’d never be apart.”

“There are as many little stories in you as stars in the sky,’ he sighed, “and I want to know them all.”

If you’re looking for a clean YA read with serious everyday themes, then I highly recommend this one.

Rating: 5 STARS

Goodreads | Amazon

Book Reviews

Book Review: OC Me by Kristin Albright

OC Me is a realistic, clean read for teens. It’s especially perfect for those who may be struggling with OCD or anyone who is curious about what it might be like for someone suffering from the disorder.

What I really like about this story is the slow buildup of Amy’s OCD. It isn’t like *POOF* one day she just has it. First, she suffers the trauma of losing her aunt, and then the disorder begins to manifest. While she copes with her aunt’s death (and an sbsentee mother), she struggles to understand the irrational thoughts that begin cropping up out of nowhere. As Amy’s disorder progresses, she also starts to experience paranoia and repeated “what if” thoughts.

In addition to the OCD storyline, there is a bit of romance. Albright did a great job of weaving Amy and James’s blossoming relationship into the story; the progression was sweet and believable. It was also a good way to demonstrate how scary it can be for those with anxiety-related disorders to disclose their issues to others, as the fear of rejection can be overwhelming.

Each chapter begins with a quote. Here are some of my favorites:

“We tell lies when we are afraid…afraid of what we don’t know, afraid of what others will think, afraid of what will be found out about us. But every time we tell a lie, the thing that we fear grows stronger.” ~ Tad Williams, To Green Angel Tower

“Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards.” ~ Soren Kierkegaard

“Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear – not absence of fear.” ~ Mark Twain

“The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.” ~ Earnest Hemingway

Rating: 4 STARS

Goodreads | Amazon

Book Reviews

Book Review: Little White Lies (The Girlfriends #1) by Jodie Esch

Little White Lies is a quick YA read perfect for both teens and parents of teens. Rachel, an insecure and impressionable eighth grader with an absentee mother, fails to fully appreciate the loving, supportive family that surrounds her. Feelings of abandonment and discontentment lead her to become a compulsive liar. The little white lies she tells may seem like a mild case of acting out, but things take a turn for the worse when she meets a new “friend” in an Internet chat room.

Rachel’s character is believable and well-developed. She’s not the worst teen imaginable, but she’s moody and yearning for attention. And like a lot of teens, she isn’t able to clearly see how much others care about her. When she begins chatting with the online stranger (who claims to be a high school student) another layer of teen naïveté is explored. I really like how the plotline with the online “boyfriend” was executed, and I appreciate that Esch never took things over the top. All of Rachel’s thoughts and actions were realistic, as was her relationship with best friend Steph.

This is a quick, clean read that touches on issues many teens experience, including feelings of abandonment, loneliness, low self-esteem and creepy Internet encounters. I look forward to reading all of the books in this series.

Rating: 4 STARS

Goodreads | Amazon