Monthly Archives: June 2017

Roundup: Favorite Reads

Looking for a great summer read? The Sweethearts have some fabulous recommendations for you this week, from a “classic” series to a book that hasn’t even been released yet and lots in between. But first, of course … the announcements:

We are thrilled to share that TIED UP IN YOU, the sequel to Erin Fletcher’s Athena-nominated ALL LACED UP, has a release date (July 10, which is like, really, really, really soon) and a cover (which is like, super-duper adorable) and is now available for pre-order over on Amazon. You can (and should) check it out here!

Next, congratulations to Theresa Snyder, winner of our June contest. Theresa gets some fun Sweetheart swag and her choice of an e-book.

Now, on to our recs:

Robin Constantine: One of my favorite reads of the past few months has been THE SUMMER AFTER YOU AND ME by Jennifer Salvato Doktorski. The story is set in Seaside Park, New Jersey, and takes place the summer after Superstorm Sandy. (NJ is still feeling the after effects of this historic and horrible storm.) Lucy is a multi-faceted heroine—and her take on love is kind of hilarious and heartbreaking at the same time. Every chapter begins with a quote from her junior thesis “What’s Love Got to Do with It? The Dating and Mating Habits of North American Sea Life.” and gives you a little insight into the coming pages. It’s romantic and funny and so relatable. It’s also filled with Jersey gems—so if you want a taste of what the Jersey shore is really like—I highly recommend it!!

Darcy Woods: If you’ve been searching for that perfect enemies-to-lovers romp to take to the beach, have I got the book for you! Imagine an uptight, sharp-tongued, rule-following Paris Geller type, going head-to-head at a boarding school with a smooth-talking, rule-breaking, Ferris Bueller-esque guy (but an über hot, lacrosse-playing Ferris). Intrigued? Well, after reading the synopsis for WHY I LOATHE STERLING LANE by Ingrid Paulson, I’m pretty sure I clicked buy-it-now fast enough to break the sound barrier. The masterful banter alone between Harper and Sterling sent this snark-loving girl’s heart all aflutter. But when this powder keg of sexual tension was mixed with wicked-smart humor, and sharply drawn (and delightfully flawed) characters, I was flipping pages like I’d find a pot of gold at the end. And I did. Because this book is absolute gold! Highly recommend for summer fun and frolic!

Erin Fletcher: Is it strange that my favorite read of the summer so far is one I haven’t even finished yet? Strange but true. Right now I’m almost done with LETTERS TO THE LOST by Brigid Kemmerer. I’m loving it so much that I feel confident telling y’all how awesome it is before I get to the end! I recently saw Brigid speak on one of her tour stops, and the premise of her book sucked me right in: Juliet Young writes letters to her mom and leaves them on her grave. Declan Murphy, working at the cemetery for community service, discovers the letters and starts writing back. Little do the anonymous letter-writers know that they’re not strangers at all. Fantastic premise, right? Brigid’s writing is absolutely beautiful. The dual POV is so well done, and I’ve become so wrapped up in this story! I can’t wait to see how it ends, and hope you enjoy it as much as I am!

Stephanie Scott: Right away I’m going to cheat and name two! The first is THE SECRET OF A HEART NOTE by Stacey Lee. This is an utterly unique story about a mother-daughter team with the gift of acute smell who craft matchmaking elixirs (aka love potions!). There are rules of course, including no actual romantic relationships for themselves or their treasured noses will become average sniffers. So of course, our YA heroine falls for someone she can’t have! The sensory descriptions are so vivid and the touch of magic is a lot of fun. The other book is the upcoming SASQUATCH, LOVE, AND OTHER IMAGINARY THINGS by Betsy Aldredge and Carrie Dubois-Shaw. It’s a loose Pride & Prejudice retelling set in a reality TV competition about Sasquatch trackers. Yes, all of that is in one book! I laughed out loud so many times reading.

Karole Cozzo: I know the OCEAN CITY/MAKING WAVES series by Katherine Applegate dates back to my teen years, but the fact that the series has been republished is a testament to the timelessness of this most fabulous YA romance romp. I think there was something about the stories being set in the beach town I always visited—it was all too easy to insert myself into these stories and dream of the torrid teen romances that could be if I were ever to share a summer house with several attractive strangers. In Book One, MC/good girl Kate realizes she’s living with her ex, Justin, when she runs into him in nothing but a towel coming out of the communal bathroom. Chapter 1 and you know it’s going to be good! Did I mention Justin is a brooding, dog-loving lifeguard? I’m planning on a reread of these books this summer (I still have the original Ocean City collection). Even if today’s young adults find some of the content outdated—and I don’t really think they would—I’m willing to bet any adult YA fans looking for fluffy beach reads will devour this series.

Linda Budzinski: Pretty much all of my YA reads this year have been books by either my fellow Sweethearts or our guest authors. They’ve all been awesome and fun (and sometimes ugly-cry inducing) and there’s no way in heck I’m going to pick a favorite! So, I’m going to dig back into the shelves and share one of my favorite all-time YA books, from a few years ago—OUT OF THE EASY by Ruta Sepetys. Set in New Orleans’ French Quarter in the 1950s, it’s about a girl named Josie whose mother is a prostitute but who dreams of a very different future for herself. It’s not a romance per se, though it does have a swoon-worthy boy or two in there as well as intrigue and a colorful cast of characters and lots of scenes set in an old bookstore that is pretty swoon-inducing itself. The thing I love most about this book, though, is the writing. The prose is like a favorite hymn—beautiful and rousing and comforting all at the same time. You’ll want to take your time reading it so you can taste every word.

So, those are our recommendations. We’re always looking for great reads, too, so please share yours in the comments! xoxoxo

Contest: Summer Jobs

Some of our best (and worst) teen-age memories happen not at school, not on vacation, and not even on dates with our biggest crushes. They happen at our summer jobs! The Sweethearts have held lots of different types of jobs, from babysitting, to hostessing at a dinner theater, to camp counselor, to telemarketer (see, some telemarketers ARE really sweet, so be nice out there, y’all!).

For our June contest, we want to hear about your summer jobs. Tell us about your favorite ones, or your least favorite, and feel free to share your stories. This month’s winner will be selected at random to receive some super fun Sweetheart Swag (including a bookmark, button, and magnet) as well as your choice of one e-book from the Sweetheart collection.

To enter, you need to (1) make sure you are following each of us on Twitter:

Then (2) leave a comment below about one (or more) of your summer jobs. Be sure to include your Twitter handle in your comment so we can reach you. Contest closes June 27 at noon ET.

We can’t wait to connect with you AND hear all about your summer jobs. Good luck! xoxoxo

Sandhya Menon and a Best-Selling Debut

For this month’s guest post, we welcome Sandhya Menon, author of the newly released When Dimple Met Rishi. We are so excited for Sandhya, as her novel debuted a couple of weeks ago on the New York Times Best Seller list. (ALL THE SQUEALS!) A YA romantic comedy, the story is about two Indian-American teens whose parents conspire to arrange their marriage. The hero, Rishi, is a hopeless romantic who is actually kind of into it. Dimple? Um. Not so much.

Welcome, Sandhya! First things first. Why do you write YA?
Because today’s teens are totally going to save our world.

When you’re writing, what is your personal kryptonite?
That first round of editing (before it even goes to my editor). I dread it every single time!

When it comes to rejections and/or negative reviews, how do you cope?
This is weird, but reading negative reviews of books I LOVED or about rejections the authors I love faced really helps me see I’m not alone and often it’s not about me at all.

Kissing scenes: Do you find them easy or more challenging to write?
Definitely easier! All the kissing!

If you could co-author a book with anyone, who would it be?
Jenny Han, Becky Albertalli, or Stephanie Perkins!

Awesome! Now on to the speed round:

  • Alpha males vs. sensitive types: Sensitive types all the way, baby!
  • Sweet vs. savory: SWEET.
  • Tropical island vs. mountain getaway: Mountains!
  • French fries vs. cookies: Cookies! Especially chocolate or coconut cookies…mmmm…
  • Friday night vs. Sunday morning: Friday night! Love that feeling of freedom and possibilities spooling out before me!

Thanks so much for stopping by! Fans can find Sandhya here:

Website * Twitter * Instagram

Sandhya Menon is the author of WHEN DIMPLE MET RISHI (Simon Pulse/May 30, 2017) and a second YA contemporary coming in the summer of 2018. She currently lives in Colorado, where she’s on a mission to (gently) coerce her family to watch all 3,221 Bollywood movies she claims as her favorite.

Summer + Reading = Perfect Match

by Erin Fletcher

Happy summer, y’all! Okay, fine. It may not be the first official day of summer yet, but I’m writing this post with the windows open, a warm breeze blowing in, and birds chirping nearby, so a little early is okay, right? Good.

In my world, summer means lots of one thing: reading. In fact, I would argue that it’s the best season for reading.

I know what you’re thinking. But, Erin. Isn’t winter the best, when you can curl up with a blanket and a cat and a book and pretend the frigid temperatures and snow outside don’t exist?

Well…that is pretty great. But summer is better. Here’s why:

  • Vacation = Reading time. Whether you’re on summer break from school or getting some time off work (long weekends FTW!), all of those extra hours mean more time to spend between the pages of a book. Want to take an entire day to tackle your TBR list? Go for it. Stuck in the backseat of your family’s minivan on a cross-country road trip? Use the time to finish that book that’s been sitting by your bed for the past three months!
  • Waterside reading is the best. I’m lucky enough to have access to a pool and also live within driving distance of the ocean. Is there anything better than relaxing in a lounge chair in the sand with the soothing sound of ocean waves providing background noise while you read? No. No there is not. Especially if the book is by Sarah Dessen or another beach-writing author. Relaxing in a lounge chair by the pool is a close second, as evidenced by this picture from my first reading pool trip of the season:

  • There is nothing on TV. Literally nothing. No new episodes of Gossip Girl. The second season of 13 Reasons Why isn’t out yet. So unless you’re marathoning old episodes from HGTV or the Food Network (okay…maybe I spend a tiny bit of summer time doing that), you have a lot more prime-time hours available for books. Ditch the screens…at least until This is Us is back.
  • Summer reading programs are a thing! Check your local library! Many have programs for kids, teens, and adults. My library offers prizes just for reading or attending a library event. True story: Once in college my roommate and I participated in a summer reading program and won a gift card to a store called Yarn It! (exclamation point included). It was the coolest/nerdiest thing ever that led to a half-crocheted scarf and a good memory.

See? Summer really is the best for reading, and we’re just getting started.

What’s your favorite part about summer reading? What beach reads are you looking forward to? Let us know in the comments!

Throwback Thursday: Teen Romance Edition

For the June edition of “Ask the Sweethearts,” we’ll take a trip down Romance Memory Lane. But first, the announcements:

A huge congratulations to Erin Fletcher, whose All Laced Up has been named a finalist for the Young Adult Romance Writers of America’s Athena Award! And double congrats on the announcement of her sequel, Tied Up in You, coming in July!

Congratulations also to our May contest winner, Ann Marjory K, aka Villain Queen Extraordinaire. She was randomly selected to receive the Pampered Princess Prize Pack featuring a copy of Karole Cozzo’s new YA/NA romance, The Truth About Happily Ever After. Huge thanks to everyone who entered … may your summers be filled with the magic and love of your favorite fairy tales.

Now, for our June question: If Teen You had been the main character in a YA romance novel, what would her story line have been?

Stephanie Scott: Teen Stephanie typically had her eyes on the guy out of reach. As a freshman, my friends and I would pine after the seniors who worked in the school store before and after classes, and the grunge-loving guy we’d see come in for independent study art class. The out-of-reach guy is a fun trope in romance because it’s so relatable; it can be easy and safe to crush from afar. No risk of rejection if there’s no chance of actually getting together!

Darcy Woods: Teen Darcy was forever cursed with phrases in her yearbook that began with: “To a smart girl who always makes me laugh.” Turns out, very few guys wanted to ask the clever, funny girl to Homecoming. But then her freshman year, she discovered a boy who was hilarious, witty, and…wait for it — would sing Broadway show tunes in the car with her! Obviously, she was smitten. More than smitten, she was in LOVE. But her love was destined to be unrequited. Because as fate would have it, this amazing boy of her dreams was gay. So while Teen Darcy’s story line was a bit of a romantic tragedy, eventually, her HEA prevailed!

Robin Constantine: If Teen Robin had been a character in a romance novel, she would’ve always been on the lookout for a mysterious someone to sweep her off her feet, but in reality it was the guy she got along with easily — who made her laugh and who she could be totally real with, the one who was still around when the mysterious someone turned out to be a total flake — he was the one who held the key to her heart.

Linda Budzinski: I don’t think Teen Linda could ever actually have been the main character in a YA romance novel. She’d have made a great Fiercely Loyal Though Perpetually Lovelorn Best Friend. She had lots of crushes but no luck with any of them. If anyone were crazy enough to try to write her story, readers would have to be willing to stick with her through a very long and torturous series until Late-Twenties Linda finally meets an Amazing Guy and finds her HEA!

Karole Cozzo: Teen Karole believed that first love lasted forever — it was an easy enough ideal to hold onto, considering she dated her first boyfriend from 7th – 11th grade. When he broke up with her, the last person she thought would heal her broken heart was one of his best friends, whom she’d always had an “oil and water” relationship with. You can’t go wrong with the enemies-to-lovers trope when it comes to contemporary YA romance, and teen Karole’s story line certainly proved there’s something to be said for the particular butterflies that go along with starting to see someone you thought you couldn’t stand in a whole new way. Karole likes the trope so much … you just might see it in her next book. 😉

Erin Fletcher: If Teen Erin were a main character in a romance novel, her story line would have been a friends to lovers story. In those stories (which I love to read!), it’s usually obvious to everyone BUT the two friends that they should be together in a “more than friends” kind of way. I’m pretty sure that’s how everyone in my life felt about me and one of my best friends! For three years we maintained friendship before realizing what everyone else had known all along. It was a pretty great moment of realization, just like in romance novels! Better late than never, right?

What about you? What is/was your Teen You YA romance story line? Tell us in the comments…. xoxoxo