Saturday, December 27, 2014


Because visual imagery will convey my sentiments better than any words my eggnog-laden brain could dare attempt, I invite you to relax and enjoy this .GIF-heavy post as we look back on the debut year of The Valentines.

Or, more specifically, the emotions we endured over the course of the last twelve months...

First there was,

excited photo: excited 2n7ihd-gisellehappy.gif

OHMYGAWD! No feeling on earth could match how it felt to wake up on January 1, 2014, and realize that this year your book was going to be published.

That euphoric feeling lasted about...three seconds because FEAR came storming in the room and ruined everything!

scared photo:  tumblr_lx9j3ewKFf1qdrpdr.gif
As delicately as a brick chucked at your face, it suddenly dawned on us that all of those words we pieced together in the safety of our home offices were going to be available for the entire effing world to read. The ENTIRE. EFFING. WORLD.

...and enter the FREAK OUT. 

freak out photo:  colbertreportfreakout.gif
The FREAK OUT manifested in different ways for every author. In some cases tears and foot stomping were involved, in other cases the  repetitive mumbling of, "There's no f*cking way I can't do this!" could be overheard. No matter how the FREAK OUT presented, it was a scary moment that none of us ever want to encounter again. (even though we know we will--if we're lucky enough).

With the help of peer encouraging emails/chocolate/alcohol, we were somehow talked off of the ledges we were ready to leap from and able to gain a wee bit of perspective. Somebody liked this book enough to buy it, right? Maybe it's not that bad...
And so the BUSY began.

typing photo:  tumblr_ls3yngPeTK1qdkq0f.gif

Hours upon hours disappeared as we tweeted, tumbled and street-teamed. We answered interview questions (the same ones, so many times) and guest-posted, we Facebooked and Rafflecoptered. We pimped our books until our  fingers were bloody stumps and we'd, at some point, evolved into people we'd never seen before...

exorcist photo: Exorcist exorcist1.gif
But we did it because we were debut authors and we wanted our books to be a success.

We plotted along this course until the day our ARCs arrived.

And then...HOLY CRAP!
excited photo: excited despicables 2 exciteddespicables2.gif

Seeing your  name on the spine of a book is one of the most thrilling sights in the world. Each one of us oozed all of that Valentine-laden thrill into the world until the day our first negative reviews showed up and brought along with it  DEPRESSION and SADNESS.

crying photo:  image2.gif crying photo: Love crying tumblr_lktblkcz581qc0shi.gif

The same emails/chocolate/alcohol we depended on just a few hours/days/weeks ago, were called upon once more, and we suckled from them until we were strong enough to show your faces on the Internet again, or until a glowing review came out and our grief was replaced with ENTHUSIASM! because clearly, someone recognized that our book was just as awesome as we'd always known it was.

happy photo: happy jadsleld13.gif

This viscous, exhausting cycle continued, and continued, and continued, until the day each of our books were finally released. And after a fair amount of attaboys from your family and friends,

clapping photo: Clapping GG ClappingOscar.gif

and some well-earned booty-shaking,

dancing photo: DANCING Zoolander-1.gif

the only two emotions we were left with were EXHAUSTION 

tired photo: tired Collapse2.gif

and complete and udder GRATITUDE.

 blowing kisses photo: Blowing Kisses. tumblr_miujsh1vYy1s2sa96o1_400_zpsf9a0c666.gif

Despite  the emotional roller coaster that threatened to claim our collective sanity on more than a million one occasion, the one constant feeling has been our gratefulness for the encouragement and support offered by bloggers, readers and our fellow writers. Without you, 2014 never would have happened for us.

From the bottom of the Valentines hearts, we'd like to say,
thanks photo: Thanks Thanks-13-1.gif

We can't wait to see you in 2015!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Cupid's Arrow: I Heart Books

Jen here, ready to offer my epic love of all things bookish with poetry (thanks so much to Beth for shooting us this arrow!).

An Ode to Books

Piled on the coffee table
stacked upon the shelves
paperbacks and hardcovers
precariously balance themselves
books from the local library
titles from the small bookstore
invisible copies of eBooks, too
waiting on devices
and yet, 
there's always room for more!

Titles of adventure
and stories of days of old
brand new books with unbroken spines
itching for me to hold.
Fiction and nonfiction
cozied up together
stories of romance, or murder,
or danger,
perfect to read
in any weather!

Oh, my precious beauties,
my wonderful little friends,
I love our time together,
even when the story ends.
Books, you have fed my soul
and nourished my heart, too
there will never be another
that I love as much
as you...

But look! There's something new
waiting on my shelf-
thus begins another love,
and each story becomes part of 


May you find lots of magical books waiting for you this holiday season!

Friday, November 28, 2014

The Valentine Files: Thankful Version

Hi sweet readers!

Yesterday was the American Thanksgiving, and as we Vals nommed turkey and dressing and embarrassing amounts of pie, we wept with thankfulness. (We also may have wept because we can no longer fit into our skinny jeans but whatevs. THAT IS SO NOT IMPORTANT.;D)

In this epic year of 2014 . . .


How we feel whenever we see our books in the wild…:)
Not kidding.

We are all so incredibly grateful that our agents took a chance on us… and our editors . . . and our publishing houses . . . but most of all, we're grateful for you, sweet readers! We're thankful that you chose to pick up our books out of the hundreds thousands on the YA shelves, and we're thankful you took a chance on a new author. We're thankful you read our stories and shared them with others, and we're so, so grateful for your support.


We're also incredibly grateful for each other. In your honor, we got together and cracked open the Valentine files to give you a little extra insight into our characters. (We're also eating virtual pie in your honor because we're all about you.:D)

Ready? Here's our question:

What is your character thankful for at the start of the novel…and what is he/she thankful for at the end?

Kristi Helvig, BURN OUT:
At the beginning of the novel, 17-yo Tora is just grateful to be alive in a world where most have died. By the end of the novel, she's still grateful to be alive but she's even more grateful to know that she's no longer alone. 

At the beginning of the novel, Alex is thankful for death. At the end, Alex is thankful (ironically) for life, for a second chance, and for Chase.

Bethany Crandell, SUMMER ON THE SHORT BUS:
At the start of the novel, Cricket is thankful for good cell service. At the end, she’s thankful for an uncomfortable summer.

Kristen Lippert-Martin, TABULA RASA:
At the start of TABULA RASA, Sarah is grateful for forgetting and at the end, she's grateful for remembering.

Lynne Matson, NIL:
At the start of NIL, Charley is grateful for basic necessities like clothes and food. At the end, Charley is thankful to have contributed something meaningful to help those trapped on Nil, she's thankful to have a chance to live without an expiration date, and she's thankful that she found her soul mate . . .  even if Nil won't let Charley keep him.

Bethany Hagen, LANDRY PARK:
At the beginning of LANDRY PARK, Madeline is thankful for almost everything about her life. But by the end she is thankful that she was able to learn to see past it and find the truth.

Lindsay Cummings, THE MURDER COMPLEX:
At the start of TMC, Meadow and Zephyr are thankful for enough food to survive on. At the end...they're not feeling very thankful at all.
 Philip Siegel, THE BREAK-UP ARTIST:
Becca is thankful at the beginning for being single, and by the end she's grateful for her best friend.

Sara B. Larson, DEFY:
At the beginning of DEFY Alexa is grateful for anonymity, to be hidden in plain sight, but by the end she is grateful to be truly seen.

 Paula Stokes, THE ART OF LAINEY:
Lainey starts out thankful for her industrial flat iron and smoking hot boyfriend. She finishes the book thankful she has not gone bald from all of the flat ironing, and also for her true friends and even more smoking hot new boyfriend :)

Jaye Robin Brown, NO PLACE TO FALL:
At the beginning of the novel, Amber is thankful for her best friend, Devon, because he keeps her life from being complete drudgery. At the end, she's thankful for him and a whole lot more but telling would be spoilery! :)

At the beginning of PRISONER OF NIGHT AND FOG, Gretchen's grateful for her friendship with her honorary "Uncle Dolf"--aka Adolf Hitler. By the novel's end, she's incredibly grateful that she's seen through him.

At the beginning of SNOW LIKE ASHES, Meira is thankful for her chakram and any food that isn't something she had to scavenge in the prairie lands where she lives with the other Winterian refugees.

At the end of SNOW LIKE ASHES, Meira is thankful to BE one of the Winterian refugees, instead of one of the Winterians enslaved in a Spring work camp. She comes to be thankful for a number of other things that border on spoiler-land, so the only other thing I'll say is that she becomes very, very aware of how good her life was -- and how much better it could still be.

At the beginning of DAUGHTER OF CHAOS, Darlena's thankful for an evening to herself. By the end of the book, she's just thankful she's still alive!

And there you have it! :) The Valentine Files….thankful version. *closes files* *hugs all the readers*

What are you thankful for?

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

A Sweet Six Interview with Author Mary Pearson!

I'm SO honored today to be chatting with the lovely and talented Mary Pearson! 

Mary is the author of the highly acclaimed Jenna Fox Chronicles, which is one of my all-time favorite series. And now Mary has a new high fantasy series, The Remnant Chronicles, which is equally fabulous! The Remnant Chronicles starts off with THE KISS OF DECEPTION, and oh my land, WHAT A BOOK.

Before I go any further, here's the book scoop:


A princess must find her place in a reborn world.

She flees on her wedding day.

She steals ancient documents from the Chancellor's secret collection.

She is pursued by bounty hunters sent by her own father.

She is Princess Lia, seventeen, First Daughter of the House of Morrighan.

The Kingdom of Morrighan is steeped in tradition and the stories of a bygone world, but some traditions Lia can't abide. Like having to marry someone she's never met to secure a political alliance.

Fed up and ready for a new life, Lia flees to a distant village on the morning of her wedding. She settles in among the common folk, intrigued when two mysterious and handsome strangers arrive—and unaware that one is the jilted prince and the other an assassin sent to kill her. Deceptions swirl and Lia finds herself on the brink of unlocking perilous secrets—secrets that may unravel her world—even as she feels herself falling in love.


From the gorgeous cover to the beautiful writing inside, THE KISS OF DECEPTION is one of my favorite reads of 2014, and I'm not alone. THE KISS OF DECEPTION has received quite a few starred reviews . . . like this one:
"Pearson is off to an extraordinary start with her fantasy series . . . an alluring world and romance that’s ideal for fans of Kristin Cashore and Megan Whalen Turner . . . a formidable heroine at its core . . .  masterfully crafted." --Publisher's Weekly *starred review
And this one:

"Harrowing, romantic, and full of myth and memory, fate and hope . . .  This has the sweep of an epic tale, told with some twists; it’s a book that almost doesn’t need a sequel, but readers will be thrilled if it continues on."--Booklist, *starred review

Now don't you want to find out a little more about the amazing author who penned this amazing book? I thought so!:)

Without further ado, here's Mary!


1) Mary, tell us about your book!
The Kiss of Deception in the first in a series about a princess who bolts on her wedding day because her parents are perpetrating a sham about her "abilities" to another kingdom, and also because she wants to marry for love and not be used as a political pawn. She flees to a small fishing village and begins life anonymously and anew along with her friend and attendant. All is well until the jilted prince and an assassin from a neighboring kingdom who is sent to kill her show up looking for her--under assumed identities. She begins to fall for one of them but doesn't know who they really are--and the reader doesn't know who is who either. Prince or assassin? But all this deception is just the tip of the iceberg. The Kiss of Deception is also about how whole kingdoms are deceived, and the many ways truths are twisted. It is also about how history repeats itself over and over and how the freedoms we earn can vanish in the breadth of a one generation.

2) What scene in your book do you LOVE the most?
I have several favorite scenes, but most are spoilers--especially the reveals in the middle and ending. But another scene which is less of a spoiler I really love too, and that is the burial scene. Princess Lia show incredible strength in the face of such tragic loss as she digs graves and during edits, every time I reread the part where she bends down and kisses a "certain" character on the forehead, a knot twisted in my throat. I loved that scene from start to finish. It was a defining moment that irrevocably changed Lia.
Mary, this scene is one of my favorites too! Very, very powerful, and it changes how certain people in the book view Lia as well.:) <3!

3) If you had to pick a character you LOVE (and not your own!), who would you pick and why?
There are so many, and strangely, I usually fall in love with the secondary characters--maybe because we see less of them and I always want more--but one recent character I fell in love with was Beast from Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers. Oh, how I love him! He was actually in the whole His Dark Assassin series but in Dark Triumph he got more of a starring role. He was, as his name suggests, on the beastly side--ugly and fiercesome. But his heart and bravery won me over. I would put Beast and Sybella in my all-time Top Ten Couples of love stories.
*nods* All great choices!

4) What's the craziest/most memorable valentine you've ever received?
When I was eight month's pregnant with my first child my husband sent me a dozen red roses--but I also got another delivery that day--a single pink rose in a tiny white vase with a note that said, "For my little Valentine." God, if I didn't already love that man to the moon and back.
Aw, very swoony! He's a keeper.:) (Y'all, see Mary's answer to number 6 below as to why this Valentine is doubly perfect for her.:D)

5) If you were a Brach's Heart, what phrase would be written on you?
I suppose, considering the title of my book it would have to say: 

6) The all-important choice: flowers or candy?
Flowers without a doubt! Any kind! But I especially adore hydrangea, peonies, gerber daisies, and lisianthus. I always have fresh cut flowers in my house. It is one of my indulgences. (Full confession--I usually always have candy in the house too.)

Thank you so much, Mary, for hanging out with us today! *sends virtual bouquets of gerber daisies* Best of luck with The Heart of Betrayal coming out in 2015! Count us in!:) #TeamRafe #TeamLia

Mary E. Pearson is the award-winning author of The Jenna Fox Chronicles, The Miles Between, A Room on Lorelei, and Scribbler of Dreams.  She writes full-time from her home office in California where she lives with her husband and two golden retrievers.

You can find out more about Mary at her website and check out all of her books on Goodreads.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014


Welcome to the world,

And hoorah to you, Sara Raasch. Since you were but a wee twelve year old scrawling in your notebooks, you've been waiting for this moment. And guess what?





Tuesday, September 23, 2014

TABULA RASA. Release Day is HERE!

It's here.
Ohmygawd. Ohmygawd. Ohmygawd!

freak out photo:  tumblr_ljyrrdm15O1qzjix8.gif

Today is the day Kristen Lippert-Martin's stunning debut, 
TABULA RASA, is unveiled for the entire world to see.

I could seriously rave for days about what an intense, gut-wrenching,
thrilling story this is, but rather than smother you with all the adjectives,
I thought I'd offer you a visual play-by-play of my
experience reading this book.


Heidi Klum photo: HEIDI heidi-klum-red.jpg
This is me the day I received the ARC in the mail.
(I know, I know. The camera adds 10 lbs.)
I was cool, calm, collected and ready to dive into this book.

After slipping into something a little less restrictive,
I settled onto my bed and cracked open the brand new ARC.
Within minutes of reading, this happened...

puss n boots photo: puss and boots Puss___n_Boots_.jpg
You see, TABULA RASA is set in a mysterious medical facility in the middle of godknowswhere (it's a place) where they perform "procedures" on their 
patients in an effort to clear their mind of all its' memories. 
It's here where we're introduced to our leading lady, Sarah, 
and the horrific life she endures at the hands of her...doctors.
It was during these early scenes that
Lippert-Martin reached into my chest and starting pounding on my heart.
Three pages in and I. WAS. HOOKED.

biting nails photo:  nailbiting.gif

I kept on reading, and before long my fingernails became
surprisingly tasty; a phenomenon that only happens 
when I'm eating ribs or am incredibly nervous.
For the record, I haven't eaten ribs in years.

 With each page, the tension continued to build,
but so did the swoonable moments.
Which basically meant I was
ping-ponging between this,
stressed photo: Stressed stressed.gif

and this,
swoon photo: Swoon swoonBeautyandtehBeast.gif
I'm not gonna lie guys, I experienced so many conflicting emotions
at one time, I had to reach for one of these

beer photo: Beer beer.jpg

(WARNING: Always drink responsibly. 
Never operate heavy machinery or write pivotal scenes 
while under the influence of alcohol.)

And by the time the book came to a close, this happened 

mind blown photo: Mind blown mindbown.gif

 Guys, this book is THAT good. 
It's intense.
It's heartwarming,
And by the time you finish, you'll be searching for one of these

cigarette photo: Cigarette cigarette.jpg
Do yourself a favor and buy TABULA RASA today. 
It's a ride you won't soon forget.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

A Sweet Six Interview with Agent Jennifer Unter

I'm super excited to day to be hanging out today with the fabulous Jennifer Unter. I HAVE SO MUCH LOVE FOR HER I CAN'T EVEN. In case you didn't know, she's my agent, and she is AMAZING.

I adore Jennifer, so much that I asked her to come on the Valentine's blog and share some super sekrit Jennifer scoop . (Sure. Part of me wanted to keep her ALL TO MYSELF but I'm a Valentine...and we're all about sharing the book/agent/imprint love.:D) 

Before we get to Jennifer's interview, here's a bit about the Unter Agency and Jennifer herself:

The Unter Agency, LLC was founded in 2008 by Jennifer Unter. Before starting her own agency, Ms. Unter worked in many aspects of the publishing industry: in editorial at a publishing house; as a copyright lawyer at an entertainment law firm; and as VP at a literary agency. The Unter Agency represents quality fiction and general nonfiction, with a particular interest in memoir, food/cooking, nature/environment, biography, pop culture, travel/adventure, true crime, politics and health/fitness. The Unter Agency also represents all types of children's literature (picture books, middle grade, and young adult).  

The Unter Agency is currently accepting submissions. Interested authors can look at the website at

Ready to learn more about Jennifer? I thought so! Without further ado . . . 

The Valentine's Sweet Six! 

Jennifer, what is your favorite YA character?

Meg Murray from the Wrinkle In Time series. She’s intuitive and strong without knowing it, which makes her so endearing.

What was your favorite non-client read of last year?

I’m reading Patti Smith’s JUST KIDS and loving it!

What do you love most about being an agent?

I love the excitement of discovering a new author and getting their work out into the world. That feeling never gets old!

What's the craziest/most memorable Valentine you've ever received?

Most memorable is one of the first with my husband: a drawn bubble bath, flower petals, votives, and him as personal back washer!

If you were a Brach's heart, what phrase would be written on you?


The all important choice: flowers or candy?

Chocolate, please!

Jennifer, I think you may have just picked the best Brach's heart EVER. And your Valentine...*swoon*!

Thank you SO much for hanging out with us today! And on a personal note, thank you for making my debut novel, NIL, possible. Without you I wouldn't be a YA Valentine. It's been an amazing year.:)

*throws around Brach's hearts stamped with READ BOOKS in Jennifer's honor*

Happy Tuesday everyone! And writers looking for representation, don't forget to check out The Unter Agency!

Friday, July 25, 2014

CUPID'S ARROW: In which I proclaim my love for... GIFS!

Hi, I'm Bethany and I'm a .gif addict.

It's true.

In the last few months, I've become completely addicted to GIFS. Not because they're a lazy busy writer's BFF when it comes to whipping out a blog post, but because there's some great imagery clogging up the Internet and sometimes a perfectly-placed visual is the BEST way to make a word come to life.

For example, if I wanted to say I was happy that today is Friday, I could simply say, 

But wouldn't it be more impactful if I attached this little number to that statement?

happy photo: happy jadsleld12.gif

Now you KNOW how happy I am, right?

Or, in this case, I could tell you I was feeling blue because I stubbed my toe last night while taking out the trash. This might tug on your heartstrings for about half a second, but that's nothing compared to the emotions this visual will conjure up:

Charlie Sheen photo: charlie sheen psych_distress.gif

Whoops, that's the image I searched on for 'train wreck'.
I meant this one: *apologizes*

sad photo: Sad tumblr_lmv5baKd7u1qeieozo1_400.gif're feeling something now aren't you?!

And it gets even better!

Por ejemplo:

Exhausted = exhausted photo:  funny-gifs-another-day-is-over.gif  

Hysterical = hysterical photo:  tumblr_lihcrkFcVz1qa1p7d.gif

worried photo: Justin Timberlake - Worried tumblr_m4v5ny27QA1r0j8as.gif
Nervous =

Adorable = puppy photo: Puppy tumblr_m0soh3iKL71qfyogko1_500.gif

If you're not feeling these GIFS, then your heart is frozen and the cold never bothered you anyway...
frozen photo: let the storm rage on! 5icfb_zpsf61e1274.gif

But if you're an emotion-driven being like the good Lord intended you to be, then you'll not only support my love of GIFS but you'll embrace it yourself.
hug photo: Hug tumblr_lmjx7xcx8i1qhvsx7.gif

Friday, June 20, 2014

The Valentines Files (Friday Edition): #SummerReads Val-Style + Giveaway


*Kermit flail*

And we haven't opened the Valentine files lately so I thought…. IT'S TIME. *cue Imagine Dragons song* *dances in grass skirt*

Ok, I'll stop.:)


Today we're going to have a Valentine Files meets  #Fridayreads + #Summerreads mash-up. WHO's IN?!:)

First question: "Where would your MC go on a summer vacation and why?"

Anne Blankman (PRISONER OF NIGHT AND FOG) says . . .
Gretchen has never been on a summer vacation, other than visiting her grandparents in nearby Dachau. But she's always dreamed of going to Spain or France, which is why she tacked postcards of Paris and Barcelona on her bedroom walls... Just don't tell anyone. Most of the adults in her life wouldn't approve.

Sara B. Larson (DEFY) says . . .
Alexa isn't really sure what "summer" is. In the jungle there's hot, really hot, so-hot-you-want-to-die and rain. She's pretty used to the heat. Now if she ever came into contact with snow, that would be quite the shock.

Jaye Robin Brown (NO PLACE TO FALL) says . . .

Amber's family doesn't have a lot of money so fancy far-flung vacations are probably out of the question. But, she'd probably catch a ride with her friend C.A. to do some shopping in Pigeon Forge, TN and than spend some time at Dollywood riding roller coasters. If she's extra lucky, she'll talk her friends Devon and Will into hanging out at the Blue Plum Festival in Johnson City, TN. But mostly summer's about swimming down at the river, partying at the hiker barn with the AT through hikers, and being a little bit bored stuck at home in between all that.

Second Question: What does your MC love/hate about summer and why?"

(Note: this questions *may* be just a little PERFECT for sweet Sara Raasch who's debut SNOW LIKE ASHES is all about the seasons… and for lovely Kristi Helvig who's debut BURN OUT has an excess of heat . . .:D)

Sara Raasch (SNOW LIKE ASHES) says  . . .
Meira HATES heat -- actually, all Winterians do. Their natural Winterian blood makes them comfortable in frigid temperatures, so even the idea of summer makes Meira cringe. Give her a nice, relaxing vacation to Antarctica over Jamaica any day!

Lynne Matson (that's me!:D) (NIL) says . . .

Charley still loves summer, but the searing hot days give her goosebumps…the kind of days where the pavement shimmers from the heat. Why? Because those days remind her of being swept up by a gate--a  shimmering wall of blistering hot air that swept her into a vacuum of fire and ice and then dumped her on the mysterious island of Nil. Then again, if it weren't for the gate, she never would have met Thad…:)

Kristen Lippert-Martin (TABULA RASA) says . . .

My MC Sarah loves summer because she thinks she'd be a nice toasty brown if she could just get some sun on her skin. Instead, she's got the semi-sickly pallor of someone who spends all her time under fluorescent hospital lights. Also, the massive blizzard going on outside isn't helping matters. She feels like she's got a permanent case of the shivers.

Jen McConnel (DAUGHTER OF CHAOS) says . . .
Darlena LOVES everything about the summer, even the boiling North Carolina heat. Her birthday's in August, so she's got that to look forward to. Plus, she'd never turn down a break from school...that is, until she got kicked out. Nowadays, she'd give anything to be stuck back in a class at Trinity, but she's too busy trying not to destroy the world.

Bethany Hagen (LANDRY PARK) says . . .
Madeline hates the summer--it always means an unending vista of garden parties, picnics, outdoor brunches and lots of other dull events. She'd much rather be reading!

Kristi Helvig (BURN OUT) says . . .
Everything. Summer doesn't even begin to describe the never-ending season of scorched hell that the Earth has become. Since the oceans are long gone and she's only seen pictures of the beach on her tablet, she'd love to go to a planet that has a body of water—any body
of water, even a puddle, would make her year. :)

Amy Rolland (OF BREAKABLE THINGS) says . . .
When Alex was alive, she hated her limitations during summer. EDS prevented her from doing anything active. Her bones broke easily, and she bruised like an old banana. Her best friends, the Lasalle brothers, would go wakeboarding and tubing, and she could only watch from the boat. They went to sports camps while she stayed home. Summer always made her feel like an outsider.

Third question: "What is your favorite #summerread and why?"

Paula Stokes (THE ART OF LAINEY) says . . .
ANYTHING by the lovely and talented Rachel Harris. Her YA historical trilogy is the perfect mix of past and present goodness. It's full of romance and laughter and I have My Not So Super Sweet Life loaded onto my Nook for beach reading. [Sidenote: Holy crap! I live sorta near the beach now!] If you're feeling like a grownup book (it's okay--it happens to all of us occasionally :-D) Rachel's got you covered with her Love and Games series. Two Words: hot firefighters.

Bethany Crandell (SUMMER ON THE SHORT BUS) says . . .

My all-time, favorite summer read is FIFTEEN, by Beverly Cleary. It’s got just the right amount of first-time swoons for a young reader. (The fact that my husband shares a last name with the leading man is just icing on the Crandell cake.)

Lindsay Cummings (THE MURDER COMPLEX) says . . .
I always read Delirium during the summer! :)

Philip Siegel (THE BREAK-ARTIST) says . . .

DANGEROUS GIRLS by Abigail Haas is the perfect book to plow through on the beach this summer. Exotic locale, murder, mayhem. Lather up on sunscreen because you won't be able to pull yourself away from this book.

Hmmmm. . .


*bias alert*

Because I think the Vals books already out are the PERFECT #summerreads!  Here's why: 

Kick-butt sexy guards, steamy jungles, a cool MC, and MAGIC? DEFY rocks it ALL. Pack a fan.:) <3

Ball gowns, SWOON, and an epic GONE WITH THE WIND vibe? LANDRY PARK. *happy sigh*

Mysterious island, deadly animals, shirtless hotties, and only 1 year to live? NIL.  #LOSTvibe #perfect

Witches? Red magic? CHAOS?!! *gulp* Yes, please! DAUGHTER OF CHAOS>> your beach bag!

Hilarious LOL moments, wit, and a camp setting MADE FOR SUMMER? Yup.:)  SUMMER ON THE SHORT BUS. #nobrainer

HOTTEST setting ever with equally hot and badass characters? BURN OUT. Duh.:) #amazing SF

Gorgeous writing, swoon, and historical fiction FTW! PRISONER OF NIGHT AND FOG. #notyouraveragebeachread #starredreview

Ethereal writing, a family of boy hotties and an MC stronger in death than in life? Heck yeah!:) OF BREAKABLE THINGS. 

Scheming, witty, relatable MC in a LOL comedy just right for the beach? THE BREAK-UP ARTIST. <3

A swoon-worthy hottie who cooks plus a smart MC with a master plan? Hawt!!! #TeamMicah THE ART OF LAINEY. #packitnow

Murder + swoon + OMG-I-can't-put-this-down-to-even-put-on-sunscreen? THE MURDER COMPLEX is 4 u.:)

Okay, for the rest of the Vals book, you'll just have to wait. *sad face* TABULA RASA is coming out next…in September, so be sure to pre-order it along with all the other Vals book! #shameless plug ;)

In the meantime, want to win the Val book of your choice? Leave a comment below telling us which Val book you want and why. If we get more than 100 comments, we'll pick 2 winners!

*Contest open for one month. Ends Friday, July 18th. Open to North Am residents only.:)

Happy Friday and happy reading!!!!!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Release Day for THE MURDER COMPLEX by Lindsay Cummings

Hi all--I'm so excited to help celebrate the release of THE MURDER COMPLEX by the awesome Lindsay Cummings! How excited, you ask?

Yeah, Kevin Bacon excited! I read Lindsay's ARC awhile back and loved everything about the book, from the kickass heroine Meadow to the tragic world she inhabits. Lindsay herself is adorable and sweet, which makes it even cooler that she wrote about such a violent world. The cover of this book says it all:

Here's the description from Goodreads:

An action-packed, blood-soaked, futuristic debut thriller set in a world where the murder rate is higher than the birthrate. For fans of Moira Young’s Dust Lands series, La Femme Nikita, and the movie Hanna.

Meadow Woodson, a fifteen-year-old girl who has been trained by her father to fight, to kill, and to survive in any situation, lives with her family on a houseboat in Florida. The state is controlled by The Murder Complex, an organization that tracks the population with precision.

The plot starts to thicken when Meadow meets Zephyr James, who is—although he doesn’t know it—one of the MC’s programmed assassins. Is their meeting a coincidence? Destiny? Or part of a terrifying strategy? And will Zephyr keep Meadow from discovering the haunting truth about her family?

Bottom Line:
This book kept me flying through the pages until the very end and I can't wait for the sequel (seriously, Linds, it better be on the way to me!) You should go out today (like now) and buy it if you haven't already. Seriously. Go. :)

Here is Lindsay (told you she was adorable):

Lindsay Cummings is the 20-year-old author of THE MURDER COMPLEX, as well as its sequel, coming 2014 from Greenwillow Books/HarperCollins, and the MG trilogy THE BALANCE KEEPERS, coming Fall 2014 from Katherine Tegen Books/HarperCollins.

Lindsay deals with chronic fatigue, can’t get enough of her two pesky German Shepherds, wolf cub, and two horses. She's still waiting on her letter from Hogwarts--it was probably just lost in the mail. You can follow Lindsay on twitter at @lindsaycwrites.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Cupid's Arrow: Thank you for the music

Happy June, Val Pals! Jen here, ready to profess my Gif-filled love of music, thanks to an arrow shot by Kierra.  Challenge accepted!

We've had a musical few Cupid's Arrows lately (y'all saw Sara's awesome post last week, right?) No, I'm not even going to try to top that, but I will let my nerd flag fly and let y'all into my super secret world of bizarre musical tastes.


First, a little background: I'm a child of the 80s, but you wouldn't know it based on my favorite music. I was an only child for 9 years, and my mom and I have always been super close; that matters because I see HER favorite musicians dominating the list of MY favorites, plus a few strange boy bands thrown in for good measure. So, without further ado, here are a few of the singers and groups who make me swoon.

Billy Joel

He's always at the top of my list, because come on, the Piano Man can crowd surf! I actually got to hear him in concert recently, which was beyond a dream come true. And yes, I have The Stranger...on vinyl.


Freddie Mercury for the win!! Whenever I need to rock out, head bang, and sing myself hoarse, I turn to Queen. <3

The Mamas and the Papas


Totally blame Mom for this one. And yes, I will blast the heck out of "Make Your Own Kind of Music" on a regular basis. It was my anthem in high school.

Barenaked Ladies

NO WAY am I doing a GIF search for them! You'll just have to be content with my newest earworm from this group.


Frank Sinatra (with Gene Kelly for good measure)

I grew up on musicals (and in them), so I have a total addiction to all the old school performers, but Old Blue Eyes takes the cake. Sigh...that smile!

Yup. Totally random music nerd over here. Thanks for shooting us this arrow, Kierra; I had a blast divulging all my strange secret loves! Want your chance to make the Vals confess deep, embarrassing secrets? Shoot us a Cupid's Arrow!

Jen, over and out. Have a great weekend, y'all! <3