2020 Debut Author Interview: Alechia Dow!

In 2019, we made it our goal is to work with as many debut authors as possible and spread the word about their debut novels. It was such a success last year that we decided to continue the fun this year as well! Follow us this year as we pick the minds of the 2020 debuts and chat with them. Also stay tuned for news of giveaways, Twitter chats and more!

At the end of 2019, we Tweeted about wanting to discover more debut authors and their books. We ended up finding Alechia Dow and her novel THE SOUND OF STARS, and we have been interested in it ever since. We are so excited to have Alechia on the blog today to answer some of our questions! 



Alechia Dow

Alechia Dow is a former pastry chef, food critic, culinary teacher, and Youth Services librarian. When not writing about determined black girls (like herself), you can find her chasing her wild child, baking, or taking teeny adventures around Europe.

Keep up with Alechia: Website / Twitter / Goodreads / Instagram 


The Book Bratz: First of all, congratulations! How does it feel to be a debut author?
Alechia: It feels unreal. I spent so much time over the years pursuing this; writing books, querying, going through the process of doubt and uncertainty, questioning if I'm talented enough. Now my book is coming out, and I'm still unsure if I deserved this, yet, I want to cherish every moment. I want to celebrate and hope that teens will read my book and it'll resonate with them. It's a wild, overwhelming time, but also a dream come true. 
The Book Bratz: In your opinion, what is the best part of the writing process? What's the hardest?
Alechia: My favorite part of the writing process is when the story just clicks in your mind and you have fun creating this brand new world. My least favorite: there’s this moment when you get an edit letter and you look at it and the blood drains from your face and you’re like, HOW AM I GOING TO DO THIS? You feel a bit hopeless and worried that you won’t know how to fix these issues and no one will want your book, your agent will drop you or your editor will be like, this was a mistake. Thankfully it passes with time :)) 

The Book Bratz: Where did you get the idea for THE SOUND OF STARS?
Alechia: I'd just shelved two books I wrote, and then, out of nowhere, I was inspired by the idea of a secret, illegal library. Which got me to thinking, why is it illegal? And then it evolved over the course of a long walk into a story about a rebel librarian and an alien who loves music. This is often how my mind works, one minute I have a fragment of an idea, and the next, it's a full-fledged plot bunny that I tend to follow on the page! 
The Book Bratz: Who was your favorite character to write? Who was the hardest?
Alechia: The weird thing is...both main characters in The Sound of Stars were easy to write. I sat down and they just came to mind, their personalities, their struggles, their loves... I find that when I struggle with a character, either I shouldn't be writing them, or I haven't really given them enough thought yet. Writing for me is like making a movie, (I know that sounds weird), the more details and traits I include, the clearer the character. 

The Book Bratz:Your book deals a lot with the idea of creative expression being illegal. Why do you think creativity and the arts is so vital to our society (especially reading, since you know, we're all bookworms here!)? 
Alechia: The Sound of Stars is all about what brings us together when the world seems to be tearing us apart. Art, I feel, has a way of liberating and connecting people, and allows us to escape our own realities. We speak different languages, grow up with different cultures, eat different foods, but we may like the same Stevie Wonder song and The Neverending Story. Sometimes focusing on what connects us can make what separates us a little less important.

The Book Bratz: What do you want readers to take away from THE SOUND OF STARS?
Alechia:Hope. I desperately want you, the readers, to know that this book is about hope. It's dark at times, and sometimes it feels like all is lost, but it tries to find joy wherever possible, and it begs you to fight for the future. 

The Book Bratz: Do you plan on returning to the world of THE SOUND OF STARS in the future, or do you have other projects in mind? Can you tell us anything about them?
Alechia: Fingers crossed, I'd LOVE to return to the world of THE SOUND OF STARS. We'll see if there's a push for that in the future. I have a magical foodie fantasy that has some of my favorite recipes, and two more science fiction projects, one a love story about humanity and hope (common themes for me, can you tell?), another an action-packed story about found family and society...I hope beyond hope that I get the chance to put more stories out in the world! 

Thank you all for reading and having me on here!!! 

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Title: The Sound of Stars
Author: Alechia Dow
Publisher: Inkyard Press
Publication Date: February 25th, 2020

Summary: Two years ago, a misunderstanding between the leaders of Earth and the invading Ilori resulted in the deaths of one-third of the world’s population. Seventeen-year-old Janelle “Ellie” Baker survives in an Ilori-controlled center in New York City. Deemed dangerously volatile because of their initial reaction to the invasion, humanity’s emotional transgressions are now grounds for execution. All art, books and creative expression are illegal, but Ellie breaks the rules by keeping a secret library. When a book goes missing, Ellie is terrified that the Ilori will track it back to her and kill her. Born in a lab, M0Rr1S (Morris) was raised to be emotionless. When he finds Ellie’s illegal library, he’s duty-bound to deliver her for execution. The trouble is, he finds himself drawn to human music and in desperate need of more. They’re both breaking the rules for love of art—and Ellie inspires the same feelings in him that music does. Ellie’s—and humanity’s—fate rests in the hands of an alien she should fear. M0Rr1S has a lot of secrets, but also a potential solution—thousands of miles away. The two embark on a wild and dangerous road trip with a bag of books and their favorite albums, all the while making a story and a song of their own that just might save them both.

Thank you so much to Alechia for stopping by and answering our questions! We are super excited about THE SOUND OF STARS and can't wait for it to be out in the world on February 25th

Celebrate So Excited GIF by Hey Violet

ARC Review: When We Were Magic by Sarah Gailey

Title: When We Were Magic
Author: Sarah Gailey 
Genre: Fantasy, Witches, LGBT
Source: Simon Pulse via NetGalley 
Publisher: Simon Pulse 
Publication Date: March 3rd, 2020

Summary: 
A moving, darkly funny novel about six teens whose magic goes wildly awry from Magic for Liars author Sarah Gailey, who Chuck Wendig calls an “author to watch.” Keeping your magic a secret is hard. Being in love with your best friend is harder. Alexis has always been able to rely on two things: her best friends, and the magic powers they all share. Their secret is what brought them together, and their love for each other is unshakeable—even when that love is complicated. Complicated by problems like jealousy, or insecurity, or lust. Or love. That unshakeable, complicated love is one of the only things that doesn't change on prom night. When accidental magic goes sideways and a boy winds up dead, Alexis and her friends come together to try to right a terrible wrong. Their first attempt fails—and their second attempt fails even harder. Left with the remains of their failed spells and more consequences than anyone could have predicted, each of them must find a way to live with their part of the story.

When We Were Magic was the first book I finished in 2020 and I am so happy it is. This book is full of such a diverse cast of characters who love and support each other no matter what. Plus this book and it’s cover scream girl power! This story is about a group of witches, like c’mon!

All Alexis wanted to do on prom night was to lose her virginity, maybe it wasn’t for the best reasons but that was her plan. But when she is in the moment and her magic backfires causing a certain part of Josh explode which ends up killing him. Alexis calls her best friends to the rescue. Alexis, Roya, Pauli’s, Iris, Marceline and Maryam all have one specific thing in common: they are magic. After a spell goes wrong and their backup plan fails even worse, they must find a way to deal with the problem. But when their magic begins to punish them for the failed spells each girl must make it right.

I expected When We Were Magic to go in one direction BUT it actually went in a whole other direction that I didn’t think it was going to go. I expected it to more or less to just address the issue of Josh and whether the group of girls where going to be able to bring him back to life. When We Were Magic was so much more then that. It address Alexis’ friendship with each other girls, her growing feelings for Roya and her own insecurities that she doesn’t deserve the love and support that her friends are giving her.

I really enjoyed Alexis’s character and getting to be inside her head. I loved her rationale on certain things and her side comments, it made her feel more real to me in a way. Through out the novel we see Alexis dealing with the fall out of her decision, the regret, trying to defend it and in the end the tough love that she gets from Maryam about the whole thing. Throughout When We Were Magic we see her struggle with the idea that she doesn’t deserves her friends help and how they are sacrificing so much for her when they don’t need to be. I saw a lot of myself when Alexis would think these things because I think the same exact way sometimes.

I really enjoyed When We Were Magic and the dynamic of this witchy friend group. I’m sad to see that their story is over, but I feel like Sarah did a great job in wrapping it up and giving both Alexis and the reader the closure that was needed.

If you are looking for a book with a diverse cast, queer girls and some steamy moments, magic and witches then this is the book for you!



Valentine's Day 2020: Our Favorite Rom-Coms and Romances!



Happy Valentines day! Today we have a post about our favorite books with a swoon-worthy romance or books that simply make our hearts melt into puddles. We hope everyone is getting to spend their day cuddled up with their significant other or a good books and tons of chocolate! 


An open message to our book boyfriends: Will you be our valentine? 


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Those are just a few of our favorite swoon-worthy reads...what are yours? Comment down below to let us know! Happy Valentine's Day!


Blog Tour: Foul is Fair by Hannah Capin


Hi there, everyone! Today on the blog, we're lucky enough to be participating in the blog tour for FOUL IS FAIR by Hannah Capin -- and we have an awesome excerpt to show you as well! So without further ado, let's get into it!

ABOUT THE BOOK

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Title: Foul is Fair
Author: Hannah Capin
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Publication Date: February 18th, 2020


Summary: Elle and her friends Mads, Jenny, and Summer rule their glittering LA circle. Untouchable, they have the kind of power other girls only dream of. Every party is theirs and the world is at their feet. Until the night of Elle’s sweet sixteen, when they crash a St. Andrew’s Prep party. The night the golden boys choose Elle as their next target. They picked the wrong girl. Sworn to vengeance, Elle transfers to St. Andrew’s. She plots to destroy each boy, one by one. She’ll take their power, their lives, and their control of the prep school’s hierarchy. And she and her coven have the perfect way in: a boy named Mack, whose ambition could turn deadly. Foul is Fair is a bloody, thrilling revenge fantasy for the girls who have had enough. Golden boys beware: something wicked this way comes.

EXCERPT

Sweet sixteen is when the claws come out.

We’re all flash tonight. Jenny and Summer and Mads and me. Vodka and heels we could never quite walk in before, but tonight we can. Short skirts—the shortest. Glitter and high- light. Matte and shine. Long hair and whitest-white teeth.

I’ve never been blond before but tonight my hair is plati- num. Mads bleached it too fast but I don’t care because tonight’s the only night that matters. And my eyes are jade-green to- night instead of brown, and Summer swears the contacts Jenny bought are going to melt into my eyes and I’ll never see again, but I don’t care about that, either.

Tonight I’m sixteen.

Tonight Jenny and Summer and Mads and me, we’re four sirens, like the ones in those stories. The ones who sing and make men die.

Tonight we’re walking up the driveway to our best party ever. Not the parties like we always go to, with the dull-duller- dullest Hancock Park girls we’ve always known and the dull-duller-dullest wine coolers we always drink and the same bad choice in boys.

Tonight we’re going to a St Andrew’s Prep party. Crashing it, technically.
But nobody turns away girls like us.

We smile at the door. They let us in. Our teeth flash. Our claws glimmer. Mads laughs so shrill-bright it’s almost a scream. Everyone looks. We all grab hands and laugh together and then everyone, every charmed St Andrew’s Prepper is cheering for us and I know they see it—for just a second—our fangs and our claws.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Hannah Capin lives in Tidewater Virginia. She ​holds degrees from the Indiana University School of Music and Columbia University. When she isn't working on her next book, you'll find her sailing, singing, or scheming with her friends. She is the author of THE DEAD QUEENS CLUB and FOUL IS FAIR (2020).
Keep up with Hannah: Website / Goodreads / Twitter / Instagram

We'd like to once again thank the amazing team at Wednesday Books for including us in this blog tour! If FOUL IS FAIR sounds like the kind of book you'd be interested in, make sure to scroll up and hit that Goodreads button so you can add it to your TBR! :-)


Waiting On Wednesday: All Your Twisted Secrets by Diana Urban


"Waiting On Wednesday" is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking The Spine where we highlight some of the upcoming books we can't wait to read! 


Title: All Your Twisted Secrets
Author: Diana Urban
Genre: YA Mystery/Thriller
Publisher: HarperTeen  
Publication Date: March 17th, 2020






Summary: Welcome to dinner, and again, congratulations on being selected. Now you must do the selecting.
What do the queen bee, star athlete, valedictorian, stoner, loner, and music geek all have in common? They were all invited to a scholarship dinner, only to discover it’s a trap. Someone has locked them into a room with a bomb, a syringe filled with poison, and a note saying they have an hour to pick someone to kill … or else everyone dies.
Amber Prescott is determined to get her classmates and herself out of the room alive, but that might be easier said than done. No one knows how they’re all connected or who would want them dead. As they retrace the events over the past year that might have triggered their captor’s ultimatum, it becomes clear that everyone is hiding something. And with the clock ticking down, confusion turns into fear, and fear morphs into panic as they race to answer the biggest question: Who will they choose to die?

Talk about creepy! This thriller is reminding me of a twisted version of an escape room where you end up dead instead of escaping. I'm very intrigued to find out the details behind the reason for this game and the nod to the Breakfast Club. Can't wait to get my hands on this!

What are you waiting on this week? Leave your links so we can stop back!

                                              -Emily

Book Blitz: Off Balance by Aileen Erin!


Off Balance
Aileen Erin
(Aunare Chronicles #2)
Published by: Ink Monster LLC
Publication date: February 11th 2020
Genres: Dystopian, Young Adult

From USA Today Bestselling Author Aileen Erin comes the second book in the Aunare Chronicles.
Broken, beaten-down, and plagued by nightmares, Amihanna di Aetes is surrounded by the Aunare race that makes up the other half of her heritage, but she feels alien amongst them. She’s not sure which is worse: SpaceTech’s overt hatred of Aunare or the Aunare’s covert hatred of halfers. She hears their whispers whenever she enters a room and sees her death reflected in their eyes. Amihanna doesn’t know who to trust anymore, but she hasn’t survived this long by ignoring the warning signs all around her, especially when her instincts are screaming that a familiar choice is coming: flee or fight.
Her parents assure her everything is okay—that there won’t be any reason for her to fight, let alone flee—but with Amihanna’s sudden return, questions arise among the Aunare: who should be blamed for the start of a full-scale war with SpaceTech, how much danger will the war bring, and is Amihanna truly fit to be the next high queen?
Honestly, Amihanna wants to forget all the politics, her betrothal to Lorne, and the possibility of being queen. Her needs are much more basic. All she wants is a solid night’s sleep where she doesn’t wake up screaming with the phantom pain of her skin burning. All she needs is to live without fear of a mob tearing her away from her family. All she hopes for is a chance to dream of a future instead of constantly fighting for her right to live.
And yet, somehow, everything she does leads her back to Lorne. He always seems to know when she’s about to break under the pressures of her new life. His quiet patience is wearing Amihanna’s protective walls down, and she’s terrified of what will happen if they fall.
EXCERPT:
“Let’s get this one thing straight—I’m not breaking our betrothal contract.” He stalked back to me. “Not now. Not ever. If you want to break it, then we’ll discuss it. They’ve talked a lot about our contract on the news, so I’m sure you have it in your head that I’m planning on breaking it. But I’m not. I haven’t brought it up because you’ve been dealing with enough. I was giving you time, but I’d marry you tomorrow if I thought you’d agree.”
Tomorrow? I had zero clue before this moment that he was completely insane. He couldn’t marry me, especially not tomorrow. I couldn’t be queen.
“What if I want to break our betrothal?” I wasn’t sure I did, but I wasn’t sure I didn’t either.
He strode quickly to me, knelt in front of my chair. I hugged my legs tighter to my chest, but he grabbed my ankles. “Look at me.”
I looked everywhere but him.
“Look at me, please.” He squeezed my ankles and let go. “Please.”
I blew out a breath and rested my chin on my knees so that I could meet his gaze. It was hard to really look at him. Every time I did, I wanted him more and more, and I wasn’t sure how much more I could want him without becoming completely addicted. It took everything in me not to wrap my arms around his neck and pull him to me.
He let go of one ankle and cupped my cheek. “Do you want to marry me?” He was using his low voice, the one that set my skin on fire.
My skin was so bright and my stomach fluttered and flipped and I forced myself to choke down my first immediate response. The dumb one that wanted to slide past my lips effortlessly. I couldn’t answer his question because I didn’t trust myself to give him the right answer. The one that made sense.
All signs of anger melted away from him. His back straightened, he held his head high, his fao’ana stopped flashing, and his skin dimmed a little.
But it was his smile that told me he knew exactly what I’d been thinking.
“This is where being your shalshasa comes into play. I’m as sensitive to frequencies as you are, but even more attuned to yours. I can feel your frequencies as your moods shift. Your immediate answer was going to be yes before you got scared.” He rose just a little, cupping my face with both his hands, and all I could see were his aquamarine eyes.
The color I associated with calm and safety. The color I’d painted the walls in my room on Earth so that I could feel more at home. The color I wanted to get lost in forever.
He brushed a soft kiss on my lips. It was quick, too quick, and it left me wanting more.
“Until you can say no—honestly and without stress—I’m going to assume your answer is yes, and that you just need more time. I don’t want fear to be a part of your decision. Okay?”
He leaned in for another kiss, and I wanted. I wanted it more than anything. But I made myself lean back in the chair, pulling my face from his hands.
“I can’t do this.” The words were shaky, but I’d said them. I had to stop it before this went too far.
“Why?”
“Because…” There were too many reasons.
Because he needed a queen.
Because I didn’t want that much responsibility.
“Because you deserve someone not broken.” That wasn’t the one I meant to go with, but words slipping out of me seemed to be the theme for our little chat.
“You’re not broken. If anything, you’re confused. Which is totally understandable. You’ve been through a very rough thirteen years, and memories that would help you readjust to being home aren’t there. So, you need some time to heal. Which is what I’ve been giving you. I think you’d feel less fragile if you got a decent night’s sleep. If you ate more. If you took a moment to take care of yourself instead of spending twenty hours a day in the gym. Declan and his mission are going to kill you.”


Author Bio:
Aileen Erin is half-Irish, half-Mexican, and 100% nerd–from Star Wars (prequels don’t count) to Star Trek (TNG FTW), she reads Quenya and some Sindarin, and has a severe fascination with the supernatural. Aileen has a BS in Radio-TV-Film from the University of Texas at Austin, and an MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University. She lives with her husband in Los Angeles, and spends her days doing her favorite things: reading books, creating worlds, and kicking ass.

GIVEAWAY!

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We'd like to thank the awesome team over at Xpresso Book Tours for once again allowing us to participate in a book blitz -- hopefully you all loved hearing about this book just as much as we did!

ARC Review: Girls with Razor Hearts by Suzanne Young

Title: Girls with Razor Hearts
(Girls with Sharp Sticks #2)
Author: Suzanne Young 
Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopia
Source: ARC via Simon Pulse
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Date: March 17th 2020

Summary: 
It’s time to fight back in this second novel in a thrilling, subversive near future series from New York Times bestselling author Suzanne Young about a girls-only private high school that is far more than it appears to be. Make me a girl with a razor heart… It’s been weeks since Mena and the other girls of Innovations Academy escaped their elite boarding school. Although traumatized by the violence and experimentations that occurred there, Mena quickly discovers that the outside world can be just as unwelcoming and cruel. With no one else to turn to, the girls only have each other—and the revenge-fueled desire to shut down the corporation that imprisoned them. The girls enroll in Stoneridge Prep, a private school with suspect connections to Innovations, to identify the son of an investor and take down the corporation from the inside. But with pressure from Leandra, who revealed herself to be a double-agent, and Winston Weeks, an academy investor gone rogue, Mena wonders if she and her friends are simply trading one form of control for another. Not to mention the woman who is quite literally invading Mena’s thoughts—a woman with extreme ideas that both frighten and intrigue Mena. And as the girls fight for freedom from their past—and freedom for the girls still at Innovations—they must also face new questions about their existence…and what it means to be girls with razor hearts.
I adored Girls With Sharp Sticks, it was the one book that I read in 2019 that I couldn’t stop talking about. So, when a copy of Girls With Razor Hearts appeared in my mailbox I had to dive into it right away. It’s been a couple of days but all I can say is: wow. Girls With Razor Hearts was a thrill ride from page one and did not let up till the last page. Speaking of the last page: WHAT. THE. HECK. How can Suzanne leave us like that?!

Girls With Razor Hearts starts right where Girls With Sharp Sticks ended. Mena and the girls are fleeing from Innovations Academy after learning a devastating secret: they aren’t human. Coming to terms with the fact that they are AI, created by men to be controlled and dominated, they are devastated and shell shocked. But underneath the devastation they are desperate to get the other girls out of Innovations Academy. Leandra, the head master's wife appears to be a double agent and tells the girls to track down Winston Weeks, an investors in the academy. If Mena and the girls can identify the heads of the corporations they could shut down innovations for good. Their first lead is that a member is laundering money through Stoneridge academy, a private school in which their son attends. The goal is simple: get close to the investor’s son, get him to spill and get his father out of the way. Only, things aren’t that simple.

I talked about in my Girls With Sharp Sticks review that if a book doesn’t make you angry, then it isn’t doing it’s job. Girls With Sharp Sticks did that for me and now I am adding Girls With Razor Hearts. It makes me angry in a sense that some of the examples in Girls With Razor Hearts is something we see day to day, whether in real life or on the news. The dystopian setting or this novel is very close to our current world and as a woman that is unsettling.

Viewing not only how Mena and the other girls who escaped Innovations Academy but the girls who attend Stoneridge are treated is appalling. Mena is witnessing sexism and racism first hand for the first time and where many woman in this society have learned to back down and keep their heads down, she refuses too. Essentially, she escaped the Academy to be in another dangerous game.

The twists and turns that this book takes doesn’t slow down for a second. Every time I thought my heart was going to stop racing and things were going to calm down Suzanne threw another plot twist in to keep her readers on their toes. A lot of my questions from Girls With Sharp Sticks were answered but this book left me with so many more that I can’t wait to see answered in the next book.

Overall I really enjoyed Girls With Razor Hearts and I am eagerly awaiting news on the next book. I highly recommend this book to all sci-fi fans but also people who want to read about girls standing up for themselves and not taking anymore shit from the men who try to control them.


Make 2020 the Year of the Rom-Com!

Graphic created by the fabulous Adiba Jaigirdar!


Paging all YA rom-com readers! How would you like to give yourself (or someone you care about) the ultimate Valentine’s Day gift: a delicious assortment of light-hearted love stories? From Feb. 9-16,we here at The Book Bratz are hosting the Make 2020 The Year of the Rom-Com Giveaway. One lucky winner will receive 12 YA rom-coms (!!) by exciting new authors. Check back daily as each 2020 debut shares a fave rom-com (or two). 

But before we get into more details about the giveaway -- we asked all of these amazing authors to tell us about their favorite rom-coms down below!

Marisa Kanter: In 2017, I spent a perfect snow day falling in love with The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli. It’s the book I will forever shout from the rooftops about, the book I solidly declare to be my favorite rom-com because it was the first time I ever saw a Jewish character centered in one. Molly Peskin-Suso, an anxious Jewish girl with twenty-six unrequited crushes, has my whole entire heart. This book is so sweet and cute, laugh out loud funny, and all around happy making. It’s the book I desperately needed as a teen, but never knew I could have. It validated to me that Jewish characters do have a place in rom-coms stories, and gave me the confidence to write my own. 

Emma Lord: I feel like it’s cheating to say To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before since it’s everyone and their uncle’s favorite rom com, but it will always hold a special place in my heart because it’s both romantic and family-driven. I picked it up because fake dating tropes are the sauce that keeps my blood running, but it left a forever impression on my heart because I’m also one of three sisters, and it was a book I read and anticipated the next installments of with one of my sisters — the first book was a shared experience right at a time when my littlest sister was old enough that we were reading from the same genres, and I’ve loved bonding with her about the series for all these years, and for getting to swoon with the entire internet over it after the first movie came out. It’s a romantic comedy that’s rooted in so much love and self-discovery  and family ties that I think it’s impossible for it not to be one of my forever favorites. 

Syed Masood: I love rom-coms and always have. I’ll watch The Big Sick or Crazy Rich Asians or Bridget Jones's Diary or The Family Stone any day. However, since I have to pick one, I’ll go with Katie Henry’s HERETICS ANONYMOUS. It is a coming of age novel that deals with complex issues of faith and doubt, family and forgiveness. Also, the writing is brilliant. There’s nothing more satisfying than having to pause at the end of a sentence or at a turn of phrase just to appreciate it properly. It’s truly a joy, because of the genre, yes, but also because of the themes and craft involved.

Cameron Lund: Maybe this is cheating, but there were two books growing up that made me fall in love with rom-coms and inspired me to become a writer: Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine (yes this is a rom-com!) and Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins. The hilarious letters back and forth between Ella and Prince Char will never fail to make me laugh and the mutual pining will-they-won’t-they between Anna and Etienne gets me in the feels every time. I’ve always wanted to write a book that could make someone feel the way these books made me feel as a teen. I love a romance based upon friendship, shared history, and inside jokes. It’s no surprise my debut features a best friends-to-lovers trope. 

Amy Noelle Parks: I adore Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan, mostly because it’s flat-out hilarious. I’ve always a little bit resented the college coursework definition of comedy as work that ends in marriage instead of death. That’s a depressingly low bar. When I read a rom-com, I want laughs as well as swoons, which Dash and Lily definitely provides. I don’t know how many times I’ve reread this book, but I laugh out loud everytime Dash sits on Santa’s lap to retrieve the clue Santa’s hiding under his shirt. Plus, the chemistry between dour, bookish Dash and ball-of-sunshine Lily is perfect, and a climactic scene that includes a visit to an unabridged Oxford English Dictionary is always going to send me.

Suzanne Park: Sandhya Menon’s WHEN DIMPLE MET RISHI is the rom-com I think about most often when I start working on a new project. As a second generation Korean-American, I could relate to Dimple and Rishi both being so worried when they saw a future for themselves that didn’t align with their parents’ wishes.  I loved the distinct voices of the two main characters and Menon does a great job with building their relationship so their chemistry is believable. My favorite thing about the book though was that first Starbucks encounter— it makes me laugh every time I think about it!

Ciara Smyth: You’d think seeing as I wrote a book all about rom-coms that I’d know what my favourite one was. But I have a complicated relationship with them, particularly the films. On the one hand they almost always centre a smart, lovable, funny woman. On the other hand they’re usually about her finding a man to make her life complete. But I think if you dig a little deeper you find that a lot of the time the stories are really about these women’s insecurities, their fears, the things that have hurt them and made them wary.  Take While You Were Sleeping, a favourite of mine (Sandra B has my heart): Lucy is isolated and living in a fantasy. She’s pining for the guy who buys a subway token from her every day, but is unable to make a genuine connection. She doesn’t feel good enough for the guy she imagines Peter to be. Then she saves Peter’s life and is mistaken for his girlfriend. Peter is in a coma and can’t refute this. So Lucy in a time of loneliness and emptiness develops a true bond with Peter’s family, who accept her and love her just for being there and being herself. Yes, she finds love with Peter’s brother in the end but isn’t it just the story of a woman who was finally able to be comfortable with being herself and opening up to the possibility of something real, rather than a fantasy? As cheesy as it sounds While You Were Sleeping is not just about a woman finding love with a man, but about a woman finding and loving herself. I think the very best rom-coms are telling a story about how we make connections with other people and the reasons we sometimes find that so difficult. They tell us to let our guard down and be open, after hurt, after pain, after loss. They tell us that even if you find yourself at a point in life that feels lonely or empty you can still have a happy ending. 

Jamie Pacton: I love Love, and Happily Ever Afters, and all the amazing Shakespearean tropes (mistaken identity! missed messages! comic misunderstandings!) that go into a good rom-com. So, though I find many rom-coms problematic, I definitely have favorites. I’ve watched BRIDGET JONES so many times, I could probably recite it (though, seriously, someone please tell Bridget she’s not fat, because good grief). A KNIGHT’S TALE is a perpetual favorite (and huge inspiration for my debut, THE LIFE AND (MEDIEVAL) TIMES OF KIT SWEETLY). And THE BIG SICK and CRAZY RICH ASIANS are movies I re-watch every few months. I also devour adult rom-com novels at a truly alarming speed. Mention WELL-MET, THE KISS QUOTIENT, THE HATING GAME, or RED, WHITE, AND ROYAL BLUE around me at your own peril, because I can-- and will-- talk about those books all day long. I even love romances with a darker or sadder edge-- think PS I LOVE YOU (still not done crying over this movie) or FLEABAG (oh my heart)-- because they show the ache of loving someone as well as the giddy joy, which I think is important as we consider love and the stories we tell about it in all of its nuances. 


Leah Johnson: If you ask me to name my favorite romantic comedy on any given day, and set any number of different parameters, the answer might be different. If you’re asking me for the rom-com that made me want to study abroad, the answer would be Anna and the French Kiss. If you’re asking me about the romance that made me laugh and cry in equal measure, the answer would be The Sun is Also a Star. But if you’re asking me which novel made me fall in love with New York City, my adopted home, or the book that instilled in me a passion for live music—the freedom it can give a girl and the magic is can make of a night—the answer is and will always be Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist by David Levithan and Rachel Cohn. Growing up, it was such an aspirational text—the characters unbelievably smart and unbearably cool—that it became something more than a book, it was a roadmap. And that, at any age, is the thing I treasure most about great YA. (Not to mention That Scene in the ice room???? If you know, you know.) 

Amanda Sellet: My favorite recent discovery in rom-com land is Mhairi McFarlane’s DON’T YOU FORGET ABOUT ME. The dialogue crackles, the friend group reaches Bridget-Jones levels of excellence, and the ex-boyfriend is almost as horrifyingly bad as the restaurant where hapless heroine Georgina (briefly) works as a waitress. And of course I love the way Georgina and Lucas fall in love (the first time) while discussing English literature. The whole thing is a beautifully balanced mix of humor, romance, and more serious undertones that make Georgina’s hard-won HEA incredibly moving.   

Adiba Jaigirdar: There are so many rom-coms that I absolutely love. If you had asked me this question when I was a teenager, I would have no doubt chosen The Princess Diaries series by Meg Cabot because I was obsessed with those books. But the romcom that made me feel like I just wanted to sit down and write a rom-com? That is, without a doubt, To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han. There are so many reasons for this. First of all, because it’s still rare to read rom-coms where the lead is a woman of colour, and where a diaspora character’s relationship to their culture is explored. Jenny Han does that so brilliantly in her series. The scene where Lara Jean dresses up as Cho Chang for Halloween because people will know who she is, as Cho Chang is also East Asian, resonated with me so much because when I was in primary school during World Book Day I could only dress up as one the Patil twins because they were the only South Asian characters I had ever read about! I also love how To All The Boys is a book (and a movie) that just really leans into its fluffiness and sweetness. And I love love love that it’s a book with such a young voice, that it really seems to speak to a teen audience. Reading the book really helped me find the voice that I wanted to capture in The Henna WarsIn fact, I love To All The Boys so much that for a few months last year I simply passed the entire trilogy from co-worker to co-worker and I’m pretty sure half the people in my staffroom have now read Lara Jean’s tale (and are all better off for it, let’s face it)!

Amelia Diane Coombs: I’ve always adored rom-coms! But my favorite is, without a doubt, 10 Things I Hate About You. The 90s were ripe with rom-coms, but most I find incredibly unappealing (I’m looking at you, Sleepless in Seattle!) but as another Seattle-based 90s rom-com, 10 Things held up pretty well, and it’s my go-to comfort movie. Kat isn’t your typical rom-com protagonist. She’s mean and edgy and fearless. There’s nothing cute or soft about her, and she’s an unabashed feminist. Then you have Patrick Verona, the bad boy with the pretty face with enough rumors about his life to fill an entire gossip rag. (Heath Ledger will always be a winner in my book. Also see: A Knight’s Tale) Kat and Patrick’s hate-banter is one of my favorites in both film and books, and it’s incredibly rewarding as they grow closer. Maybe I find their romance so appealing because Kat and Patrick are both outcasts that bring out the best in one another. Not only is the script hilarious, but Patrick’s serenade scene gives me serious heart-eyes. It’s just the perfect combination of swoony and hilarious!

Now that we've heard from everyone else, it's time to hear from you!

Tell us your favorite rom-com in the comments for a bonus entry!  

Plus, the best part of this giveaway is that all of these authors will be mailing their books to you individually -- so you have the option of indicating separate addresses in case you wanted to send any of your winning books to a friend! In the spirit of Valentine's Day, it's a super sweet way to treat both yourself AND someone you love to some great new reads!

ENTER THE GIVEAWAY HERE:


We'd like to extend a HUGE thank you to all of the incredible authors who teamed up and put together this giveaway to do with us -- we're HUGE rom-com fans here at The Book Bratz, so having the opportunity to share twelve AMAZING new stories with our readers is so exciting! Good luck to everyone who enters!

Also, if you're interested in any of the new books above, here are their release dates:

Jan. 21: Tweet Cute
April 7: The Perfect Escape
April 7: What I Like About You
April 7: The Best Laid Plans
May 5: The Life and (Medieval) Times of Kit Sweetly
May 12: By the Book
May 12: The Henna Wars
June 2: You Should See Me in a Crown
June 9: The Falling in Love Montage
June 23: Keep My Heart in San Francisco
Aug. 4: More Than Just a Pretty Face
Sept. 8: The Quantum Weirdness of the Almost Kiss