Save the Date by Morgan Matson

Save the Date by Morgan Matson is a story about love, family, and growing up. Charlie’s life is changing: her big sister is getting married, her mom’s comic strip that has chronicled her family’s adventures is ending, her parents are selling the only home she has ever known, and it’s all happening on the same weekend. Charlie has just a few days with all of her siblings together at home for one last time and needs everything to be perfect, but it seems like everything just keeps going wrong. There’s an embezzling wedding planner, a sabotaging neighbor, a feud with a twelve year old in pigtails, missing tuxedos, and two very cute boys.
Matson masterfully weaves together an incredible story, capturing the wonderful chaos of a big family, the butterflies that come with first loves, and the changes and fear of growing up. From the front cover to chapter titles, every bit of Save the Date is as perfect and quirky as the family it is about. It has quickly made its way to the top of my list of favorite contemporaries. I would definitely recommend it if you are looking for a feel good story that will have you laughing out loud and leave you with a smile on your face – and maybe have you calling up your family to tell them just how much you love them.

Tyler Johnson Was Here by Jay Coles

Marvin Johnson knows exactly what he wants: an acceptance letter from MIT, a good job, to get out of Sterling Point. His twin brother Tyler however, is a different story altogether. Tyler is outgoing and popular while Marvin focuses his energy on school. Marvin has two best friends, Ivy and G-mo, Tyler on the other hand has a wide circle of friends and acquaintances- most recent and alarming of which is Johntae, a local drug dealer and gangster.
When Tyler invites his brother and his friends to Johntae’s next party, Marvin is reluctant, but he knows that if he wants to find out what’s going on with his twin, he needs to be there. But everything goes wrong when cops raid the party, and two days later Tyler is found dead. Now, battling grief and confusion, Marvin must find a way to process his brother’s death, and the viral video of how it happened.                                                                            Tyler Johnson Was Here

Exclusive Interview with Lisa Jensen!

  1. Fairytale retellings have become very popular in recent years, particularly in YA literature; what do you think makes these stories so compelling?

    Like all folklore, fairy tales have been passed down between the generations for centuries. The details of each story may evolve in the telling over time, but the essence of each tale persists — a poor girl goes to the ball and wins a prince; a beauty falls in love with a scary beast. These tales are in our blood!

    But as readers, we also respond differently as we ourselves evolve out of childhood and into adulthood. There are infinite new ways to look at these classic stories, which is what writers find so irresistible. And fortunately, it seems like readers are just as eager to come along for the ride!

    You’ve written a couple adult books as well as having been a film critic and a columnist, what made you decide to make Beast a YA novel?

    Beast was originally written as an adult novel. But an editor at Candlewick, the fabulous Kaylan Adair, fell in love with the book and bought it for her YA line. We had some tweaking to do over the long editing process, but I think it’s a stronger book now. My original take on the story also had to evolve in subtle ways as I began to view it from a YA perspective.

    Your book tackles some important issues (e.g. sexual assault), what do you think the responsibility of authors (particularly of YA and children’s books) is to talk about these controversial topics?

    In Beast, I wanted to focus on the profound effect of assault on my heroine, as she grapples with feelings of shame, despair, and finally, rage. (That’s the “Revenge” part of the story.) She has to learn that she’s not responsible for what was done to her, and that it also lies within her power to seize control of her own life again and grow stronger. That’s the journey she is on, just as Beast is on a journey to find his place in a human world. They both must tap into their inner humanity.

    What advice would you give to aspiring authors about writing and publishing their stories?

    Read everything you can! Especially by authors you love! (Although, back when I was an occasional book reviewer for the SF Chronicle, I found it was almost as useful to learn what not to do from books that I didn’t think worked!) Write all the time, even if it’s just in your own private journal that no one will ever see, to teach yourself to shape language. Then write the story that’s in your heart — nobody else can tell that story in the same way as you. And Never. Ever. Give. Up!

    Some authors have said that they write the books they needed when they were kids, do you feel this is true of yours?

    No, I wrote this book for the person I am now — someone who loves Beauty and the Beast, but thinks the noble Beast deserves to be the hero of the story, not the prince!

    Do you have any plans for future books?


Beast: A Tale of Love and Revenge by Lisa Jensen

When Lucie came to Château Beaumont she was looking for a job that would get her away from home. She wasn’t prepared for the cruel and handsome Chevalier de Beaumont, and the strange tale born from her own hatred of him. But when an old witch curses the Chevalier to become a fearsome beast and Lucie a candlestick to watch him, everything changes.
As Beast, the Chevalier is quiet and kind, even to Lucie, only wanting to keep to himself and tend his garden. All too soon, Lucie finds herself drawn to- even befriending, the lonely beast. But with the arrival of Rose, a beautiful young merchant’s daughter, their fragile peace threatens to break. For if Rose offers to marry Beast, the Chevalier will return, and only Lucie knows how terrible that would be. And only Lucie has a chance of stopping it from happening.

Beast: A Tale of Love and Revenge

The Bird and the Blade by Megan Bannen

Megan Bannen’s debut novel, The Bird and the Blade is a rich and poignant story of love, loss, and the bloody struggle for power within a fractured Mongol Empire during the 13th century.
Jinghua lost everything on the day the Mongols invaded her home and slaughtered her people. Now she’s a slave in the house of one of the most powerful warlords of their time: Timur Khan, lord of the Kipchak. But when the Kipchak Khanate is invaded and its army destroyed Jinghua must follow Timur and his son Khalaf as they escape their conquered kingdom if she is to have any chance of returning to her own home.
But when Khalaf enters a deadly game to win the hand of a powerful princess, everything changes. Turandokht is treacherous, beautiful, and heir to the Mongol Empire. The man who weds her will be the next Great Khan, the catch? He must first solve three impossible riddles, or die trying. Soon Jinghua is forced to make an impossible choice: betray the boy she has grown to love, or give him up to the princess who would rather be his death than his bride.

Tradition by Brendan Kiely

Books have always played an important role in educating the next generation, but in this day and age YA authors have become invaluable in providing valuable lessons and role models for teens and adults alike. Brendan Kiely’s new book Tradition is one such novel that will no doubt be considered a modern classic by generations to come.
For James Baxter Fullbrook Academy is a second chance and he’s determined not to waste it. He’s at Fullbrook on a hockey scholarship after his life at home was shattered by a horrible accident. At Fullbrook nobody knows about his past, at Fullbrook he’s the Buckeye, the secret weapon, special and revered.
But then Bax meets Jules Deveraux, the one person at Fulbrook strong enough to stand up for what she believes in. Soon Bax finds himself taking on social injustice with Jules and their friends Aileen and Javi.
But Fulbrook is a place of privilege and toxic rites of passage. Tradition is as much a part of the school as the ivy-covered walls and the unspoken rules that nobody dares defy.

A Reaper at the Gates by Sabaa Tahir

In a thrilling sequel to A Torch Against the Night, Sabaa Tahir returns to the world of Laia, Helene and Elias with A Reaper at the Gates. In Reaper, the stakes have been raised for all our favorite characters as the Nightbringer draws closer to his goal.
In the Waiting Place, Elias struggles to take control of his growing powers as Shaeva and Mauth force him and Laia farther apart. At the heart of the Empire Helene has taken control of the Black Guard— and with Harper at her side begins to wrest control from the Commandant. Far away, Laia works with the Tribes and Scholar Rebels to free enslaved Scholars.
But even as the Blood Strike grows in power and Laia gains allies and experience, the Nightbringer too grows closer to freeing the other Jinn. Under his orders Keris Veturia schemes and kills as she works to undermine the new regime.

Reaper at the Gates is probably my favorite book of the series yet. The POV characters have gained a new maturity since the events of A Torch Against the Night, and many of the supporting characters also gain a backstory that helps to enrich the world of Reaper comsiderably.

What I Leave Behind by Alison McGhee

In What I Leave Behind, Alison McGhee has created a devastating masterpiece that manages somehow be just as uplifting as it is tragic. Written in an almost lyrical style, with one hundred words on each page (there are also one hundred pages), What I Leave Behind tells the story of sixteen-year-old Will, three years after his father commit suicide. Will is an almost normal high-schooler, working at the dollar store while his mom never seems to come home, but there are a few things that set him apart: he makes cornbread, and he walks. He walks everywhere, past Superman, the homeless man of First; past the dog-of-insanity who is always chained and always barking; past the little butterfly dude, who sits in his yard waiting for butterflies. The only places he doesn’t walk are the places where it is painful, like the bridge on Fourth Street where his father was found dead; his old friends Playa’s house who he hasn’t really spoken to for much too long; the store with a hundred Chinese blessings nestled at the back.
As for the cornbread? Only one person knew the recipe, and he kept it in his head. Now that Will’s father is dead, no can replicate it. No one even seems to try – except Will, who tries and tries and tries, never succeeding.
When something unexpected happens to Playa, Will starts to turn himself around and becomes a gift-giver, helping others through their struggles while inadvertently helping himself. But can Will help the person most important to him when he hasn’t had a real conversation with her in years? Playa needs his support and he needs to find a way to give to her.
This is a beautiful, heartfelt story about friendship, loss, and self discovery. In ten thousand carefully chosen words, Alison McGhee winds the threads of Wills life into an incredible tapestry, one which I couldn’t help but fall in love with. This is a book I would recommend to just about anyone, especially people who are be struggling with a family loss or broken friendship, and I feel that it deserves a place on every bookshelf.

Books Discussion and Signing with Lisa Jensen, Beast

Lisa Jensen Bookshop Santa Cruz

Books Discussion and Signing with Lisa Jensen, Beast
Tuesday, July 17, 2018 at 7:00pm
at Bookshop Santa Cruz

Bookshop Santa Cruz welcomes local author Lisa Jensen for a book discussion and signing of her new book Beast: A Tale of Love and Revenge. This book is a great summer read for a range of ages. They say Château Beaumont is cursed. Servant-girl Lucie can’t believe such foolishness about handsome Jean-Loup, Chevalier de Beaumont, master of the estate. But the chevalier’s cruelty is revealed, and Lucie vows to see him suffer. A wisewoman grants her wish with a spell that transforms Jean-Loup into terrifying Beast, reflecting the monster he is inside.

But Beast is nothing like the chevalier. Jean-Loup would never tend his roses so patiently, attempt poetry, or express remorse for the wrong done to Lucie. Gradually, Lucie comes to realize that Beast is an entirely separate creature, with a heart more human than Jean-Loup’s ever was.

Lucie dares to hope that noble Beast has permanently replaced cruel Jean-Loup—until an innocent beauty arrives at the chateau with the power to break the spell.

Filled with gorgeous writing, magic and fierce emotion, Beast: A Tale of Love and Revenge will challenge all you think you know about good and evil, and beauty and beastliness.

“When is beauty shaped by ugliness? When does a simple fairy tale give way to the dark textures beneath its surface? When Lisa Jensen takes it on, that’s when.  Beast: A Tale of Love and Revenge is a love story, and so much more.” — Laurie R. King, New York Times bestselling author of The Beekeeper’s Apprentice and Island Of the Mad

Lisa Jensen is the author of the adult novels Alias Hook and The Witch From the Sea. A longtime film critic with Good Times, her reviews are also posted on Rotten Tomatoes. She lives in Santa Cruz.

This free event will take place in Bookshop Santa Cruz. Chairs are usually set up for open seating about an hour before the event start time.

Neverworld Wake by Marisha Pessl

Neverworld Wake, by Marisha Pessl, is a stunningly put together story. It tells of a girl named Beatrice who recently lost her boyfriend, Jim, at the end of her senior year of high school. Jim’s death reveals a bounty of unanswered questions, and Beatrice needs to get to the bottom of them. She returns to Wincroft, the mansion belonging to her old best friend. Beatrice and all her friends were separated after Jim’s death. While searching for answers, Beatrice gets swept up into the craziness of the night, and can’t escape. They become trapped, stuck in time. Beatrice and her “friends” are introduced to a confusing place called Neverworld Wake, where they live a century inside a second.
Neverworld Wake is thrilling. It’s impossible to put down. Once you get sucked into the wake yourself, there’s no coming out until the story is finished. It’s hypnotizing; the mere idea of this wake is captivating. There is drama, sadness, adventure, edge-of-your-seat anticipation, and plot twists you could never imagine. This book is bound to become popular among YA readers. It is one of a kind, and I urge everyone to read it. Neverworld Wake is one of the best books I have ever read, and a great addition to the YA genre.