Blog Tour | Down with the Shine: Author Q&A and Giveaway!

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Hey everyone! Today I am SUPER excited to be sharing a Q&A with Kate Karyus Quinn, author of DOWN WITH THE SHINE and a giveaway as part of the blog tour! Let me tell you a bit about this magical book first and then I’ll share the Q&A and giveaway details!


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

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

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

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

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

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Describe yourself in 3 words.

Pisces. Introvert. Thoughtful.

Describe your book in 3 words.

Drunk. Extrovert. Sarcastic.

I saw that you have an MFA in Film and Television Production. If you could choose anyone to direct a film adaptation of DOWN WITH THE SHINE, who would it be?

I would love to have a women director, because we need more women making movies. For someone specific, I love CLUELESS and think Amy Heckerling would be amazing.

Dream cast for your MC?

Janine McCurdy from both iCarly and Sam and Cat would be great as Lennie. She has that edge and attitude.

For Smith and Dylan – I would steal Bob Morley and Marie Avgeropoulos both from The 100.

What would you wish for if you could have anything come true?

I’d probably keep things simple and just ask for a specific dollar amount of money (tax free please) in my checking account. Not so much as to be greedy, but enough that I could pay off my student loans and not have to worry about paying bills anymore.

If you could have any magical ability, what would it be?

I think being able to read minds would be pretty cool. It also would help me know when my kids are lying to me!

What would you say is Lennie’s motto? Yours?

Lennie’s motto at the beginning of DOWN WITH THE SHINE is to keep herself protected. Ironically, she’s very careful what she wishes for, because she’s afraid of being disappointed. By the end of the story that changes quite a bit. For me… I think my motto is more, being willing to take a leap of faith and hoping it all works out in the end.

Other than your own, who is your favorite fictional character?

Argh. This is tough. I’ll go with Anne of Green Gables just because she’s a character I fell in love with when I was young and then through all her books (If I’m remembering correctly I think there’s eight of them – though the last ones are more about her children) I got to watch her grow up.

What was the last book you read and loved?

I read SIX OF CROWS by Leigh Bardugo toward the beginning of this year and have not been able to stop talking about how amazing and wonderful it is. As a writer I am in awe of the storytelling chops on display within those pages. As a reader, I am sobbing nonstop until the second book lands in my hands.


KATE KARYUS QUINNKate Karyus Quinn is an avid reader and menthol chapstick addict. She has lived in California and Tennessee, but recently made the move back to her hometown of Buffalo, New York, with her husband and two children in tow. She promised them wonderful people, amazing food, and weather that would… build character. Another Little Piece is her first novel.

Website | Twitter


3 Finished Copies of DOWN WITH THE SHINE (US Only)


Check out the other tour posts!

Waiting on Wednesday: Frannie and Tru by Kate Hattrup

Frannie and TruWaiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine in which we share a book that we are eagerly anticipating!

Publisher: HarperTeen

Author: Karen Hattrup

Release date: May 31, 2016

Synopsis from Goodreads:

When Frannie Little eavesdrops on her parents fighting she discovers that her cousin Truman is gay, and his parents are so upset they are sending him to live with her family for the summer. At least, that’s what she thinks the story is. . . When he arrives, shy Frannie befriends this older boy, who is everything that she’s not–rich, confident, cynical, sophisticated. Together, they embark on a magical summer marked by slowly unraveling secrets.

Why I’m excited: I think this sounds so lovely. Sad, quiet, complicated, imperfect. I’ve been hearing so many wonderful things about FRANNIE AND TRU by people I truly trust, so I’m really looking forward to reading it. It sounds like a new take on the coming of age story and definitely something I want to check out.

Harper Summer 2016 Blog Tour: True Letters from a Fictional Life by Kenneth Logan


I am SO excited to be participating in the Harper Summer Tour! True Letters from a Fictional Life is actually the book that I requested when signing up for the tour, and I’m so glad I’m hosting that book and Kenneth on the blog today. I’ve got a really fun guest post from Kenny – a playlist that complements his book – coming up, but first let me tell you a bit about True Letters from a Fictional Life. And make sure you stick around for the end of the post because there are not 1, not 2, but THREE amazing giveaways for you to enter!


True Letters from a Fictional LifeTRUE LETTERS FROM A FICTIONAL LIFE
by Kenneth Logan
June 7, 2016 // HarperTeen

If you asked anyone in his small Vermont town, they’d tell you the facts: James Liddell, star athlete, decent student and sort-of boyfriend to cute, peppy Theresa, is a happy, funny, carefree guy.

But whenever James sits down at his desk to write, he tells a different story. As he fills his drawers with letters to the people in his world–letters he never intends to send–he spills the truth: he’s trying hard, but he just isn’t into Theresa. It’s a boy who lingers in his thoughts.

He feels trapped by his parents, his teammates, and the lies they’ve helped him tell, and he has no idea how to escape. Is he destined to live a life of fiction?

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First, thanks Stefani, for inviting me to guest post on Caught Read Handed. I’m thrilled to do it. I decided to put together a list of songs that somehow complement True Letters from a Fictional Life. A couple of them remind me of places in the story, others recall particular characters and their relationships, and a few just conjure moods like the ones I tried to establish in the book. I steer clear of talking about the  story’s plot, so there are no spoilers. Enjoy.

  1. Nana Grizol, Ruth (2009), the entire album

This band’s from Athens, Georgia, and their frontman, Theo Hilton, sings unapologetically sentimental lyrics about his friendships and crushes. A couple of the band’s fantastic horn players also played with Neutral Milk Hotel. When I was living in San Francisco and writing the first draft of True Letters, I listened to Ruth on repeat. Some of the songs remind me of Neil Young’s quieter, off-key, introspective tunes, and others recall early singles from The Who, recorded when Keith Moon was still brutalizing drum sets. I don’t know whether Nana Grizol has a big following anywhere, but this album’s one of my favorites for sure. Inspiring stuff, especially the tracks “Cynicism,” “Galaxies,” and “Sands.”

  1. David Bowie, “Starman,” The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust (1972)

In a 1973 Rolling Stone interview, Bowie explained to William S. Burroughs that the starman in this song is not actually Ziggy Stardust himself, but Ziggy’s emissary to planet Earth. I don’t think anyone really knows what the hell Bowie was talking about, but I like this tune a ton, so it makes this list for that reason alone. And a couple of others: (1) Bowie spent his career jolting us out of complacency and compelling us to imagine worlds different from the one we inhabit, maybe better ones, and (2) the kids in True Letters stare up at the night sky a lot, as I did when I lived in Vermont. Stargazing never feels like wasted time.

  1. Radiohead, “Black Star,” The Bends (1994)

I can’t think of another song that captures the pain and helplessness and sadness of heartbreak better than this one does. Evidently, Thom Yorke has claimed the song is “about sex in the morning.” That’s not what comes to mind for me, but I guess his explanation’s not incompatible with my own reading. I’m not sure which version of this tune I like better: the original or Gillian Welch and David Rawlings’s stunning acoustic cover.

  1. The Rolling Stones, “Winter,” Goats Head Soup (1973)

True Letters begins just before mud season, those indecisive weeks between winter and spring in northern New England. Even though the top inches of earth melt as the days warm up, the ground deep down stays frozen. When the snow changes to sleet and rain, thousands of miles of unpaved road turn to mud. It’s a thrilling time—spring’s almost arrived—but it can be frustrating and exhausting. Even little kids scowl when it snows in late April.

Mick Jagger and Mick Taylor wrote this tune while the band was recording Goats Head Soup in Jamaica. As the music reviewer Bill Janovitz comments, despite the tropical heat, they managed to capture the feeling of winter way up north pretty brilliantly.

  1. The Flaming Lips, “What is the Light?” The Soft Bulletin (1999)

I remember precisely where I was when I first heard “What is the Light.” I’d recently moved to San Francisco, and I was trying to make an illegal left turn onto 30th Street. When the drums kicked in, I nearly pulled the car over. I’m not going to pretend I understand any of Wayne Coyne’s lyrics, but for me they raise questions about why we think and feel the way we do, questions that James, the protagonist of True Letters, kicks around, too. Sometimes it feels like scientific explanations of human emotions and behavior fall far short of making sense of our experiences. We might never be satisfied with answers to Big Questions, but at least we have songs like this one as the soundtrack to our confusion.

  1. Thao and The Get Down Stay Down, “Bag of Hammers,” We Brave Bee Stings and All (2008)

James’s ten-year-old brother Rex pops in and out of the story. I think he ended up in the book because I really enjoyed being his age. I’m not sure what “Bag of Hammers” is actually about—maybe it’s about trying to hold a relationship together, the opposite of being a carefree kid—but there’s a cheerful bounce to it that I’ve always loved. The music reminds me of Rex, even if the lyrics are irrelevant to him. It’s been a while since I listened to this one, and I’m glad I dug it up.

  1. The Foundations, “Build Me Up Buttercup” (1968)

There were some aspects of teaching high school that I really loved, but chaperoning dances was not one of them. I do have one beautiful memory from one of those painful Friday nights, though: Dozens of kids were barely bouncing to deafening hip-hop, when suddenly the DJ put on “Build Me Up Buttercup.” The song was like sunlight pouring through the high windows. For two minutes and fifty-nine seconds, every kid was smiling and dancing without any worry. No one was trying to be cool. Everyone was having fun. Magic. And then the thumping bass returned, and everyone’s feet stopped.

There is a high school dance in the story, incidentally, and some of the kids even know how to dance. Not James.

  1. Eels, “Fresh Feeling,” Souljacker (2001)

Even though he’s a pretty good writer, James isn’t all that articulate when it comes to talking about his emotions. I’ve always imagined that this song’s about a guy rehearsing what he wants to say to the girl or boy he likes, and he just can’t settle on the right combination of words. Somehow he keeps coming back to the phrase “old paint is peeling.” Some people do that to our brains. 

  1. Gregory Alan Isakov, “Big Black Car,” This Empty Northern Hemisphere (2009)

Another one about lovers and heartbreak—hmm—but really I’m including this song because my head drifts back to Vermont and my friends up there every time I listen to Isakov. Even though he’s from Colorado. He and his band played at the Bowery Ballroom in New York last April, and it was the best show I’ve seen in years. Go see him if you get the chance. He doesn’t have any tour dates listed until August and September. (Hey, Delia Kloh. He’s playing at Red Rocks. I’ve never been. Let’s talk, darlin’.) 

  1. San Fermin, “Sonsick,” San Fermin (2013)

I’m thinking hard, but I can’t come up with a good reason to include this song here other than the fact that this band is phenomenal. They’re based in Brooklyn, so maybe we’re neighbors! I’ve never seen them play, but they’re top of my list. I think they’re touring out in the big square states in March and April. Here are the dates.  And holy smokes! I’m glad I checked those dates for you because they happen to be playing just down the street from me next weekend. Walking distance. Tickets purchased. This post ends on an exciting note for at least one of us. Phew.

Thanks for reading.


Kenneth LoganKenneth Logan would prefer to forget his own high school experiences, so it’s anyone’s guess why he chose to (1) teach high school English and (2) write a novel about seventeen-year-olds. He wrote his book at a colleague’s suggestion: “This is the book you should write.” He’s in a doctoral program at New York University, where he studies language and literacy development. He lives in Brooklyn but enjoys escaping on outdoor adventures, especially in Vermont.
Twitter | Goodreads | Facebook


#1 – A Harper Teen Summer 2016 Catalog prizepack of 45 books*

*Titles not included: The Crown by Kiera Cass, Escape from Asylum by Madeline Roux, Sing by Vivi Greene, The Countdown by Kimberly Derting, & United As One by Pittacus Lore

In addition to the one massive prize winner, we will also have 4 winners who will be able to select 3 titles they want from the Summer 2016 Catalog.

US Only


#2 – 5 Finished Copies from the Harper Teen Winter 2016 Catalog

5 books are: Front Lines by Michael Grant, Revenge & the Wild by Michelle Modesto, The Lifeboat Clique by Kathy Parks, Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin, & The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig 

US Only 

How to enter:

Collect the daily word from each blog stop during the Harper Summer 2016 Tour (a total of 50). Once you’ve collected them all, email the complete saying to:

Prize Rules:

1.) Winner must have a valid US mailing address to receive the prize
2.) Winner must be over 13
3.) Only one (1) entry per person for Prize #2 – duplicates will be deleted.
4.) Only a completed phrase will be accepted as an entry – do not email each word/phrase daily. Wait until you have the complete saying and then email in.
5.) All email submissions must be received by 11:59 PM EST 3/31/2016.
6.) Winners will be selected 4/1/2016 and will have 48 hours to claim their prize before another is selected.
7.) Participating blogs and bloggers are not responsible for unsent, damaged, and/or stolen prizes offered by the publisher.

My keyword for the giveaway is READS.

#3 – Win a pre-order of True Letters from a Fictional Life!

This giveaway will run until April 11 at midnight CST. US Only. 



Last but not least, there will be a Facebook Chat with some really awesome authors, and you’ll have the chance to win even more books and goodies! The chat is on March 16 @ 8 p.m. EST. The participating authors are Julie Eshbaugh (IVORY & BONE), Lindsey Klingele (THE MARKED GIRL), Paula Stokes (GIRL AGAINST THE UNIVERSE), and Michelle Andreani & Mindi Scott (THE WAY BACK TO YOU). Check out the event on Facebook for more info.


ARC Review: Paperweight by Meg Haston

Paperweight by Meg HastonAuthor:  Meg Haston
Genre: Young adult, contemporary, mental health
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: July 7, 2015
304 pages, hardcover (288 ARC)

Check out the full synopsis on Goodreads.

Shout out to the wonderful Little Shop of Stories for letting me take this ARC! Check them out if you’re ever in Decatur, GA!

Paperweight is an extremely difficult book to review. It’s also an extremely difficult book to read. I’ve never had an eating disorder and it was hard for me to read this. I can’t even imagine how triggering this book could possibly be for someone who’s had (or has) an eating disorder. Paperweight makes you uncomfortable. It pulls you completely out of your comfort zone and doesn’t hold a damn thing back. It puts everything out there in the most raw and honest way possible. And it’s difficult to read it because of that. But it is so worth your time.

Haston has done a wonderful thing with this book. She’s created Stevie, a girl with Anorexia Nervosa, who believes that her disease makes up everything she is. Again, I’ve never had an eating disorder nor have I ever been in a treatment facility. But I feel like Stevie’s story is authentic. It feels real. Stevie doesn’t miraculously get 100% better. That’s not life. The way she changes is subtle, believable. Honestly, Stevie is unlikeable at times. She’s selfish and mean, but her voice felt right.

If I had to describe this book in four words, they would be: Honest. Real. Emotional. Painful. This book is brutal, you guys, and I think you have to be in a certain emotional state to read it. I’m still not sure how I made it through certain parts, but I made it through because Stevie did.

The bottom line: Paperweight is a hard one. It’s hard to read and hard to review. It’s brutal and honest and raw, and I definitely don’t think it’s for everyone. It could be potentially triggering if you’ve dealt with (or are dealing with) an eating disorder. Stevie’s voice is one to listen to though. She’s honest and real, and that’s what scares me the most.

Rating: I honestly don’t know how to rate this one. I’m going to go with an 8, but not for the freaking fantastic, but rather because it’s memorable.

ARC Review: My Heart & Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga

You guys said you wanted me to get a little more real and tell you more about myself. This review is as real as I’ve gotten. I hope you still love me. My Heart & Other Black Holes

Author:  Jasmine Warga

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Mental Health

Publisher: Balzer + Bray / HarperTeen

Publication Date: February 10, 2015

320 pages, Hardcover

Check out the synopsis on Goodreads.

I’m sitting here trying to start a review on a book that made me cry, made me smile, made me hurt, and that I loved with all of my black hole of a heart. I’m not sure if I can do it.  Alright, take a few breaths, Stefani. Here we go.

This book is beautiful, you guys. It deserves to be read, whether you are suffering from depression or not. I wholeheartedly believe that everyone can find something to relate to in My Heart & Other Black Holes. I really cared about these characters because they were me. I’m so glad that this book is out there, because it tells you that you aren’t alone. It tells you there’s hope and this doesn’t have to be the end. It’s something that is important and needs to be talked about.

The characters were real because of their feelings. You can feel Roman’s grief. Aysel’s depression was tangible and real. I loved this book, but I also hated how much I could understand both of them so well. Warga’s description of depression was spot on and I relished in it. This book felt so real, you guys. “Depression is like a heaviness (ARC 14)” and sometimes “It’s like your sadness is so deep and overwhelming that you’re worried it will drown everyone else in your life if you let them get too close to it (ARC 183).” Aysel thinks “He gets it” after Roman says that last part – I thought “Jasmine gets it” when I read that.

But I didn’t just love this book for the sad parts. I’m not giving anything away, but the ending was so realistic, and I really appreciated that. I’m just happy I got to spend time with these two characters, because I loved their journey together. I’ll end this review with my favorite quote:

I will be stronger than my sadness” (ARC 266).

The bottom line: My Heart & Other Black Holes is a beautiful, honest, heartbreaking, real, and sad book. It deserves to be read – not only by anyone that has suffered any kind of mental illness, but by everyone.

Rating: 10 – Perfection. One of the best books I’ve ever read (I think this is only the second 10 I’ve given) Thank you SO MUCH to Stacee aka Adventures of a Book Junkie for the giveaway that let me get my hands on this beautiful book.

Waiting on Wednesday: The Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie West

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine in which we share a book that we are eagerly anticipating!The Fill-In Boyfriend

Publisher: HarperTeen

Author: Kasie West

Release date: May 5, 2015

Synopsis from Goodreads:

When Gia Montgomery’s boyfriend, Bradley, dumps her in the parking lot of her high school prom, she has to think fast. After all, she’d been telling her friends about him for months now. This was supposed to be the night she proved he existed. So when she sees a cute guy waiting to pick up his sister, she enlists his help. The task is simple: be her fill-in boyfriend— two hours, zero commitment, a few white lies. After that, she can win back the real Bradley.

The problem is that days after prom, it’s not the real Bradley she’s thinking about, but the stand-in. The one whose name she doesn’t even know. But tracking him down doesn’t mean they’re done faking a relationship. Gia owes him a favor and his sister intends to see that he collects: his ex-girlfriend’s graduation party — three hours, zero commitment, a few white lies.

Just when Gia begins to wonder if she could turn her fake boyfriend into a real one, Bradley comes waltzing back into her life, exposing her lie, and threatening to destroy her friendships and her new-found relationship.

Why I’m excited: I’m in the mood for a cute book, and this one fits the bill. Unfortunately, I have to wait like SEVEN freaking months to read it! 😦 Maybe I’ll be able to get my hands on ARC of this one! I certainly hope so. The Fill-In Boyfriend sounds adorable and fun and different. Whether or not I get an ARC, I’ll be checking this one out!