Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Mental Health Awareness Month Book Fundraiser

4th annual mental health
Welcome the 4th Annual Mental Health Awareness Month Book Fundraiser benefiting the Keith Milano Memorial Fund.

During the month of May, over 25 authors have agreed to donate a portion of May sales to the fund and over 40 authors have donated items to an online auction also benefiting the fund!

There are number of ways you can help raise money and awareness for mental health:
  • You can purchase a book from the amazing books listed below! We hope you will #1click4charity a number of these amazing books! Please note that although the sheet below has Amazon Kindle buy links, the portion of sales is from any platform: digital and print.
  • Bid on auction items that interest you at www.kamauction.org. There are so many wonderful items to choose from! The winner pays the Keith Milano Memorial Fund at American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) directly.
  • Help Raise Awareness by sharing a photo or short video of why this cause matters to you using #ShareYourWhy via Social Media.
  • Share the image below on social media to raise awareness and to show your support.
  • Make a tax-deductible donation directly to the Keith Milano Memorial Fund at AFSP. You can do a direct donation at http://bit.ly/MilanoFund.

Fund Information

The Keith Milano Memorial Fund was established to help raise awareness about the devastating and deadly disease that is mental illness. Keith’s spirit and laughter is kept alive through our efforts to increase awareness about mental illness and to raise money for education and imperative research. Keith often struggled with society’s perception of mental illness. Our hope is that by having the strength to say that Keith was “Bipolar” we can strip away the stigma and help others to be more open about their disease.

If you want to know more about Keith or why Denise does what she does, here is short video/interview that speaks to that! https://vimeo.com/148760740

Be on the lookout as she will also be posting her #ShareYourWhy this month.

Keith Milano Memorial Fund
140 Adams Ave Suite B-12
Hauppauge NY 11788
www.keithmilano.org
www.kamauction.org
https://www.facebook.com/keithamilano
@MilanoFund
Direct Donation: http://bit.ly/MilanoFund
The Keith Milano Memorial Fund benefits the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) http://www.afsp.org/
At the end of the event, participating authors will pay AFSP directly.

Keith’s fund is a self-directed memorial fund. Funds raised are spent on programs and research programs selected by the Milano / Sprung family
AFSP is the only national not-for-profit organization exclusively dedicated to understanding and preventing suicide through research and education, and to reaching out to people with mood disorders and those affected by suicide.
AFSP is a fully accredited 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization incorporated in the state of Delaware with primary offices in New York City. Federal tax ID # is 13-3393329.
AFSP’s Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) number is 10545. Donations to AFSP are tax deductible.
support mental health button

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Book Review: Some Kind of Perfect

Title Some Kind of Perfect
Series Calloway Sisters, book 4.5
Author Krista & Becca Ritchie
Release Date May 20, 2016

Falling in love was just the beginning

The conclusion to the epic ten-book series about the unbreakable strength of family, friendship, and love.

Lily & Lo are back one final time. Childhood best friends and soul mates.

Ryke & Daisy are back one final time. Wild risk-takers and flirty adventurers.

Connor & Rose are back one final time. Genius rivals and intellectual teammates.

Ten years of laughter. Of heartache. And love.

***Authors' Note***
Some Kind of Perfect is a full-length epilogue novel. It is highly recommended to read this book after Long Way Down. Otherwise, it will spoil the entire series. Some Kind of Perfect is meant to be the 10th book in the series.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/26148181-some-kind-of-perfect

Addicted series & Calloway Sisters Complete Reading Order


Review

This is really the end. After all this time, this is it. Some Kind of Perfect is the perfect end to one of the best series I've ever read.

I know I said that Long Way Down was bittersweet (and it was), but so was Some Kind of Perfect. It spans ten years and we're treated to so many special moments featuring the core six. It was truly a delight to be able to read about these moments after getting that sneak peek in the LWD epilogue.

The Addicted/Calloway Sisters series is absolutely amazing. Every single book (yes, all ten of them!) has been great. I haven't been disappointed in anything at all. Krista & Becca have pulled off a mind-blowing feat. They've written a consistently amazing series. Better than that, the books got progressively better. I'm amazed at how much I've enjoyed this journey.

If you haven't read this series, what are you doing with your life?! No, seriously... what are you doing? Addicted to You is currently free on Amazon and you've got a lot of catching up to do. Go forth and read some of the best books I've ever had the pleasure of reading.

I don't suffer from book hangovers often, but I definitely have one after this. And I'm okay with that. I certainly look forward to reading more from Krista & Becca in the future. Whether it's Infini or the Like Us series (or whatever else they decide to write), I know it'll be worth the wait.

Rating

5 out of 5 stars

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday (#14)

"Waiting on Wednesday" is a weekly event that's hosted by Breaking the Spine. It spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week, I'm waiting on...

Title Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit
Author Jaye Robin Brown
Release Date August 30, 2016

Joanna Gordon has been out and proud for years, but when her popular radio evangelist father remarries and decides to move all three of them from Atlanta to the more conservative Rome, Georgia, he asks Jo to do the impossible: to lie low for the rest of her senior year. And Jo reluctantly agrees.

Although it is (mostly) much easier for Jo to fit in as a straight girl, things get complicated when she meets Mary Carlson, the oh-so-tempting sister of her new friend at school. But Jo couldn’t possibly think of breaking her promise to her dad. Even if she’s starting to fall for the girl. Even if there’s a chance Mary Carlson might be interested in her, too. Right?
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/28003097-georgia-peaches-and-other-forbidden-fruit

What are you waiting on this Wednesday? Leave your WoW in the comments below and I'll be sure to stop by!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday (#7)


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This feature was created because everyone loves a good list, don't they? We love to share our lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists!

Ten Books I Picked Up On A Whim


No recommendations. No reviews. No research. These are books that I randomly picked up...

  1. 13:24: A Story of Faith and Obsession by M. Dolon Hickman - I found this one on Netgalley. I was a bit hesitate to request it (no reviews and it was different from what I normally read), but something drew me to it. I ended up really enjoying it.
  2. 44 Chapters About 4 Men: A Memoir by B. B. Easton - One of my friends on Goodreads added this to her TBR list. After reading the blurb for it, I one clicked it. I ended up loving it. Totally funny.
  3. Bird Box by Josh Malerman - All I knew when I picked this one up was that it was a horror/thriller. While I was a little disappointed when I initially read it, I ended loving it (yes, even after it gave me a nightmare, lol).
  4. Mud Vein by Tarryn Fisher - I kept seeing this book around with pretty decent ratings, but I had no clue what was in store. Mud Vein definitely made me a fan of Tarryn's work. Going in blind is definitely my recommendation for her books.
  5. 120 Days... by M. Stratton - This is actually the book I'm currently reading. The cover is what drew me in originally and the blurb is why I decided to one click it.
  6. F*ck Love by Tarryn Fisher - I have no idea what this book is about as I haven't gotten a chance to read it yet. I one clicked it as soon as I found out about it simply because it's by Tarryn. I'm sure it'll be good.
  7. Even the Moon Has Scars by Steph Campbell - This is another one I haven't had the chance to read yet. Between the title, cover, and blurb, though, I just had to have it.
  8. Flat-Out Love by Jessica Park - I had no idea what this was about whenever I picked it up, but it was on sale and I kept seeing it everywhere. I ended up enjoying it and reading the sequels.
  9. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson - I picked this up randomly a few years ago while browsing Barnes & Noble for a book to read on a flight from Michigan to Georgia. I ended up loving the trilogy (and hope to read the forth book soon).
  10. Butterfly Dreams by A. Meredith Walters - This is another book that I haven't had the chance to read yet. Like books by Tarryn Fisher, I one clicked this one solely based on the author. I've really enjoyed A. Meredith Walter's books before, so I grabbed this one whenever I found out about it.
This was a difficult list for me this week. I generally read reviews before I buy a book (and almost certainly read reviews before reading the actual book). Sometimes, though, going in blind is wonderful.

What books have you picked up a whim? Leave your Top Ten Tuesday posts in the comments below and I'll be sure to stop by!

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Release Day: Hollow


Title Hollow
Author Teresa Mummert
Release Date May 10, 2016

When I moved to Hollow Point, Pennsylvania I had a plan. I would do whatever it takes to climb my way to the top of the social ladder, not caring who I had to step on to get there.
The girl who started that rumor about your eating disorder?
That was me.
The girl who made out with your boyfriend?
Me again.
The girl you don’t ever want to cross?
You’re looking at her, b*tch.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/15724806-hollow

Buy Links

Amazon
iBooks
Barnes & Noble
Kobo

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Book Review: The First Time She Drowned

Title The First Time She Drowned
Author Kerry Kletter
Release Date March 15, 2016

Cassie O’Malley has been trying to keep her head above water—literally and metaphorically—since birth. It’s been two and a half years since Cassie’s mother dumped her in a mental institution against her will, and now, at eighteen, Cassie is finally able to reclaim her life and enter the world on her own terms.

But freedom is a poor match against a lifetime of psychological damage. As Cassie plumbs the depths of her new surroundings, the startling truths she uncovers about her own family narrative make it impossible to cut the tethers of a tumultuous past. And when the unhealthy mother-daughter relationship that defined Cassie’s childhood and adolescence threatens to pull her under once again, Cassie must decide: whose version of history is real? And more important, whose life must she save?

A bold, literary story about the fragile complexities of mothers and daughters and learning to love oneself, The First Time She Drowned reminds us that we must dive deep into our pasts if we are ever to move forward.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/24724627-the-first-time-she-drowned
Review

I wanted to like this book. It just seemed like a book that I would fall in love with. However, I was left feeling let down. This was pretty disappointing after seeing so many reviews that rated it highly.

The biggest saving grace of the book was the writing. It was wonderful and beautiful. I can see myself reading something else from Kerry Kletter based on the writing alone (with the hope that I enjoy it more than this book). Unfortunately, though, that's about all I can say I enjoyed.

As for the story, I was left feeling very underwhelmed. It felt exaggerated, rushed, and overall unbelievable. There was definite potential in the story, but it just didn't work out for me.

Rating

2 out of 5 stars

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Book Review: Wild Swans

Title Wild Swans
Author Jessica Spotswood
Release Date May 3, 3016

The summer before Ivy’s senior year is going to be golden; all bonfires, barbeques, and spending time with her best friends. For once, she will just get to be. No summer classes, none of Granddad’s intense expectations to live up to the family name. For generations, the Milbourn women have lead extraordinary lives—and died young and tragically. Granddad calls it a legacy, but Ivy considers it a curse. Why else would her mother have run off and abandoned her as a child?

But when her mother unexpectedly returns home with two young daughters in tow, all of the stories Ivy wove to protect her heart start to unravel. The very people she once trusted now speak in lies. And all of Ivy’s ambition and determination cannot defend her against the secrets of the Milbourn past...
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/27015393-wild-swans
Review

I have pretty mixed feelings about Wild Swans. Some parts worked for me while others just fell flat.

I enjoyed the writing a lot. Even though I've got lukewarm feelings about this book, the writing was able to keep my attention. This is my first book by Jessica Spotswood and I'm sure it won't be my last.

The story line was interesting. This book had lots of potential (family drama, mental illness, romance), but I don't feel like anything was really fleshed out. Part of me feels like the book was just too short. I remember when I was about 85% into the book, I thought that there's just no way everything that "needs" to happen could happen before the end of the book. To top it all off, the ending felt too abrupt for my liking.

Also, being nitpicky here, I don't really get the title. I know that has little to nothing to do with how good a book is. It just doesn't make sense to me.

Wild Swans was good, but not great. There's good writing, story line full of potential, and pretty great characters. If it was longer and more developed, I think I would have enjoyed it more.

Rating

3 out of 5 stars

* This book was received from Sourcebooks Fire via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. *

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Book Review: The Square Root of Summer

Title The Square Root of Summer
Author Harriet Reuter Hapgood
Release Date May 3, 2016

This is what it means to love someone. This is what it means to grieve someone. It's a little bit like a black hole. It's a little bit like infinity.

Gottie H. Oppenheimer is losing time. Literally. When the fabric of the universe around her seaside town begins to fray, she's hurtled through wormholes to her past:

To last summer, when her grandfather Grey died. To the afternoon she fell in love with Jason, who wouldn't even hold her hand at the funeral. To the day her best friend Thomas moved away and left her behind with a scar on her hand and a black hole in her memory.

Although Grey is still gone, Jason and Thomas are back, and Gottie's past, present, and future are about to collide—and someone's heart is about to be broken.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25028285-the-square-root-of-summer
Review

I feel conflicted about this book.

On one hand, it was interesting. Honestly, it took me a while to really get into the story. It was slow going in the beginning and my confusion didn't help. I was curious to see how the story would play out, though, so I kept reading.

On the other hand, I spent much of the story confused. I get the basics of time traveling, alternate timelines, wormholes, etc. I understand all of that at a minimum level. However, all this book did was confuse me. The science and math of everything muddled everything up and left me with more questions than answers. The timeline jumping was so jumbled that, by the end, I wasn't even trying to keep it straight anymore. I just wanted to finish the book.

The Square Root of Summer was interesting, but there was too much confusion for me to really enjoy the story.

Rating

3 out of 5 stars

* This book was received from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. *

Monday, May 2, 2016

Spotlight/Giveaway: Wild Swans

Title Wild Swans
Author Jessica Spotswood
Release Date May 3, 2016
Publishers Sourcebooks Fire
ISBN 9781492622161

Will Ivy fulfill her destiny as a dazzling Milbourn woman? Or will the pressure from her family cause her to crumble?

The summer before Ivy’s senior year is going to be golden—all bonfires, barbeques, and spending time with her best friends. For once, she will just get to be. No summer classes, none of Granddad’s intense expectations to live up to the family name. For generations, the Milbourn women have lead extraordinary lives—and died young and tragically. Granddad calls it a legacy, but Ivy considers it a curse. Why else would her mother have run off and abandoned her as a child?

But when her mother unexpectedly returns home with two young daughters in tow, all of the stories Ivy wove to protect her heart start to unravel. The very people she once trusted now speak in lies. And all of Ivy’s ambition and determination cannot defend her against the secrets of the Milbourn past…
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/27015393-wild-swans

An Excerpt



Chapter One

Granddad says all the Milbourn women are extraordinary.

Amelia, the Shakespeare professor up at the college, says cursed.

Judy, the bookseller down at the Book Addict, says crazy.

Here in Cecil, girls are still expected to be nice. Quiet. All sugar. Maybe a little spice.

But not us. We Milbourn women are a complicated lot.

The Milbourn legacy goes back four generations. Folks were just starting to drive over from Baltimore and Washington, DC, to buy my great-great-grandmother's portraits when she tried outracing a train in her new roadster. It stalled on the tracks and she and her two youngest were killed instantly. My great-grandmother Dorothea survived and went on to win the Pulitzer Prize for her love poems-but she was murdered by the woman whose husband she'd been sleeping with for inspiration. Grandmother painted famous, haunting landscapes of the Bay, but the year before I was born, she walked out the back door and down to the water and drowned herself. My mother had a voice like a siren, but she ran away from home the second time she got knocked up, and we haven't seen her since.

And me? I don't feel crazy or cursed. But I've grown up in this house, haven't I? So I don't know. Maybe there's no escaping it.

I'm home alone tonight, and a storm is sweeping up the Bay. Through the open french doors I can hear the waves crashing against the shore. They make a frantic shh-shh, like a desperate mama rocking a colicky baby.

I hear mothers do things like that, anyhow. I wouldn't know.

I've been reading Jane Eyre for about the twelfth time, but I set it down on the coffee table and leave the warm lamplight to go stand in the doorway. The wind catches at my hair and flings it back in my face. I push it away and squint down at the beach.

Lightning hasn't split the sky yet, but I can taste it coming. The air's so thick I could swim through it.

Jesus, but a swim right now would be delicious. I imagine tearing off my blue sundress, running down the sandy path, and diving right into the cool waves of the Chesapeake. I could swim almost before I could walk. Part fish, Granddad says. But he doesn't like me to swim by myself. Says it isn't safe, especially for a girl, alone and at night. That's one of his rules. He's got about a million. Some of them I fight; some I just let be. Given how his wife killed herself, it seems reasonable enough to humor him on this.

Behind me, something rattles in the wind and I startle. Goose bumps prickle my shoulders in spite of the heat. Lately it feels like a storm's coming even when the sky's blue. Like spiders crawling through my veins.

My friend Abby tells me I need to quit worrying and relax. It's going to be golden, this summer before our senior year. There will be barbecues and bonfires and lazy days volunteering at the town library. She doesn't believe in family curses or premonitions of doom. Her family has its own troubles, but they're not town lore.

My friend Claire says "fuck the family curse; you're your own woman." Claire's all rebellion and razor-sharp edges-especially since her dad had an affair with his secretary and moved out (such a cliché). Claire doesn't believe in fate; she believes in making choices and owning them.

But she's not a Milbourn girl.

The rain starts with a fury. It pelts the windowpanes and drums against the flagstones out on the patio. The wind picks up too, sending the gray curtains spinning into the room like ghosts. I pad back toward the sofa, trailing my fingers across bookshelves stacked with Great-Grandmother Dorothea's prize-winning poetry. All along the walls hang Grandmother's landscapes-our pretty Eastern Shore transformed by twisting rain clouds. She only painted hurricane weather.

They were all so talented. Troubled, sure. But look at their legacy.

What will mine be?

Granddad's had me in all kinds of classes: piano, flute, ballet, gymnastics, oil painting, watercolors, landscapes, portraits, creative writing... I threw myself into every new subject, only to be crushed when I didn't show a natural aptitude for any of it.

I'm on the swim team, but I'm never going to be an Olympic athlete. I'm an honors student, but I won't be valedictorian. Sometimes I write poems, but that's just to get the restless thoughts out of my head; my poems have never won any awards. I am completely, utterly ordinary.

Granddad won't give up; he thinks there's some bit of genius hiding in me somewhere. But over the last couple months... Well, I'm getting tired of trying so hard only to end up a disappointment. Maybe that's not how this works. Maybe whatever spark blessed or cursed the other Milbourn girls skipped a generation.

To hear people in town talk, the women in my family weren't just gifted; they were obsessed. And those obsessions killed them, three generations in a row. Maybe four. For all I know, my mother could be dead now too. Do I really want to continue that tradition?

Outside, thunder growls. Inside, something rattles. I stare up at the portrait of Dorothea as it twitches against the exposed brick wall. Just the wind, I reassure myself. There's no such thing as ghosts.

Dorothea was fifteen when her mother painted her. She wears a royal-blue shirtdress and matching gloves, and her hair falls in short brown curls around her face. She wasn't what you'd call pretty-too sharp featured for that-but there's something captivating about her. She stands tall in the portrait, shoulders back, lips quirked. It's not quite a smile. More like a smirk. A year later, she'd survive the collision that killed her mother and sisters. Her broken leg never healed quite right, Granddad says; she walked with a limp the rest of her life.

Lightning flashes. The lamp flickers. Rain is puddling on the wooden floor. I should close the doors, but Dorothea's eyes catch mine and somehow I don't want to turn my back on her portrait.

There's no such thing as ghosts, I remind myself.

Then the room plunges into darkness.

I run for the french doors, but before I can get there, I slam into something. Someone.

My heart stutter-stops and I shriek, scrambling away, slipping on the wet wooden floor.

"Ivy!" Alex grabs my arm. His fingers are warm against my skin. "It's just me. Chill."

"Jesus! I thought you were a ghost!" I take a deep breath, inhaling the salty breeze off the Bay. My pulse is racing.

"Nope, just me." He waves a flashlight. "Soon as the lights started flickering, Ma told me to bring you this. She knows how you get about the dark."

I fold my arms across my chest. "Shut up. I'm not scared of the dark anymore."

"Uh-huh. Sure." Alex shines the flashlight up over his face like a movie monster. I should have known better than to mention ghosts. He'll tease me about it forever. Remind me how he used to sneak over and scare Claire and me during sleepovers, how I used to sleep in my closet during thunderstorms, how I had a night-light till I turned thirteen.

"Gimme that." I reach for the flashlight.

"If you're not scared, why do you need it?" He holds it above his head. I'm tall-five ten-but the summer we were fourteen, Alex got taller, and he still hasn't stopped lording it over me. As he stretches, his shirt lifts to reveal taut, tanned abs.

I drag my eyes back to his face, but sort of leisurely like. He got soaked on his sprint from the carriage house, and his red T-shirt is molded to his muscled shoulders. The summer we were fifteen, he started lifting for baseball, and the girls at school went all swoony over him. I am not immune to a nice set of abs myself-but Alex is my best friend. Has been since we were babies, since my mother ran off and Granddad hired Alex's mom, Luisa, to be our housekeeper. There's nothing romantic between Alex and me.

That's what we decided after prom. What I decided. Alex and Luisa and Granddad are the only family I've got. What would happen if Alex and I started dating and it didn't work out? It would be awkward and awful, and I don't want to risk that. And if it did work? The baseball coach up at the college has already scouted Alex, all but promised him a scholarship if he keeps his grades up this year. If we were dating, Alex would be one more thing tying me to Cecil.

"I hate you," I mutter.

"No you don't." He gives me a cocky grin. Sometimes I think he's waiting for me to change my mind about us, but I'm not going to. Once I make a decision, I stick with it.

But the house presses around us, cold and quiet and more than a little spooky, and I fight the urge to snuggle up against him.

The front door slams. "Ivy!" Granddad hollers.

Just in time to save me from myself.

Alex relinquishes the flashlight. "I better go." Granddad gets a little skittish about Alex being here when I'm home alone. Alex and I have never given him any reason not to trust us, but when your only daughter goes and gets herself pregnant twice before the age of twenty, you maybe have reason to be a little overprotective.

Like I said, I pick my battles.

"You going to be okay now that the Professor's home? No more ghosts?" Alex licks a raindrop from his upper lip and smiles. It's his placating-Ivy smile, the one that says I let my imagination run away with me. The one he uses when I get all dreamy over a boy in a book or want to watch an old black-and-white movie or point out shapes in the clouds. The one that makes me feel like maybe I am a Milbourn girl after all-sensitive and selfish and bound for a bad end.

I grit my teeth, but the worry in his brown eyes is genuine. "Yep. I'll be fine."

"Okay. See you." He jogs off through the rainy backyard.

"Ivy?" Granddad cusses as he knocks into something out in the hall.

"In here!" I pull the french doors shut.

He limps into the room, tossing his battered briefcase onto the sofa. He nods at me and the flashlight. "How long has the power been off?"

"Not long. Couple minutes." I smile as he heads right for Dorothea's crooked portrait and straightens it. He might be a professor, but he's only absentminded when he wants to be.

"What've you been up to?" he asks.

"Nothing. Reading." I wave my copy of Jane Eyre at him.

"Reading isn't nothing, young lady. Not in this house." He gives me a smile that doesn't quite reach his eyes and plops down into his brown leather recliner. "Have a seat. There's something I want to talk to you about."

That feeling slams into me again-impending doom-and I shiver. My skin feels like it's coated in cobwebs. "What's wrong?"

"Nothing we can't handle." Granddad stares up at Dorothea. "You know that student of mine? The one who's working in my office this summer?"

"Connor Clarke." As if I could forget. He's a rising sophomore who's somehow made himself indispensable. He aced Granddad's upper-level Twentieth Century American Poets course last semester.

Granddad nods. "I invited him over for lunch tomorrow. Remind me to leave a note for Luisa."

I raise my eyebrows. "Tomorrow's Wednesday."

He runs a hand over his bristly gray beard. "And?"

"Wednesday is Luisa's day off. Has been for years."

"Ah, I forgot." He steeples his fingers together. "You work the late shift tomorrow, don't you? Maybe you could join us."

Like I said-he's only forgetful when it suits him. "And make you lunch?"

He shrugs. "You might enjoy yourself. Connor's a good kid. Smart. Driven. He wrote an excellent paper on Dorothea. Most students are too intimidated to write a critical essay about my mother-in-law. It earned him an A on the paper and in the class."

"So you've mentioned." He hardly ever gives As in that class. Connor's probably an insufferable suck-up. "Impressive for a freshman."

"Would've been impressive for a senior." Granddad grins. He gets a kick out of my "competitive spirit," as he calls it. But he's the one who raised me to be ambitious, to think I could do anything I put my mind to. "I offer that class every spring. You could take it yourself."

We've had this conversation a million times. "If I stay here"-which I might, because I'd get free tuition and the college has a good swim team and a strong English program, and I worry about leaving Granddad all alone-"I'm not taking your classes. It would be too weird."

"It wouldn't be weird unless you made it weird," he insists. "You'd have to earn your B like everybody else."

"Except Connor," I grumble, bristling that he thinks this boy is smarter than me.

"Connor's an exceptional young man." Granddad casts a dubious look at Jane Eyre. "Really, Ivy. You'd rather study the nineteenth-century English novel than twentieth-century American poetry?"

I stick out my tongue at him. "I am dying to take Amelia's class on the nineteenth-century English novel, and you know it. Her Women in Shakespeare too."

Granddad sighs. "No accounting for taste, I suppose."

I grin, flopping back against the worn leather sofa. "You're the one who raised me to be a feminist. And you're perfectly capable of using the stove yourself, but I suppose I can make you and Connor some lunch. He's not a vegetarian, is he?"

"Oh, I hope not." Granddad shudders. "He seems so promising."

I smile, tucking my feet beneath me. "Is that all you wanted to talk about? The way you looked, I thought it was something dire."

"Actually..." He clears his throat. Drums his fingers on the armrest. The back of my neck prickles; it isn't like him to hem and haw. "I heard from your mother today."

"My-mother?" The word feels foreign on my tongue, like one you read in books and know how to spell but never learn to pronounce.

I must have misheard. Granddad hasn't talked to my mother in years. She signed away her rights to me when I was four, and he hasn't been in touch with her since.

Has he?

The lamp flickers back on. It illuminates the tired slump of his shoulders, the crow's feet perching next to his blue eyes. "Erica called me at the office. She... Well, the gist of it is that she's being evicted from her apartment and needs a place to stay. She asked to come home. I told her that I had to talk to you first, but I don't see how we can say no."

She left before I was two years old. Got pregnant again, dropped out of college, ran off with her boyfriend to New York City, and hasn't looked back since. Not once. Granddad says it's impossible for me to remember her, but I do. I think I do. White-blond hair and a smoky alto.

"I could say no." I click off the flashlight. "She needs a place to stay, so suddenly she remembers we exist? That's bullshit. That's not how family works."

I've never gotten a birthday card from her. Not a single Christmas present.

Granddad sighs, pinching the bridge of his long nose. Same nose as mine. What did I inherit from my mother? Her height? Her mouth? There are so few pictures from when she was my age.

Maybe she took them with her.

Or maybe she threw them away. Maybe she didn't want the memories any more than she wanted us.

When I was little, I prayed for her to come home.

But I'm seventeen now, and this is way too little, way too late.

"I know," Granddad says. He's the one who raised me to believe that family is everything: duty and love and legacy. "But we have to think about your sisters."

"Sisters?" I clutch the flashlight, knuckles white. "More than one?"

"Came as a surprise to me too. Isobel is fifteen. Grace"-his voice wobbles. That was Grandmother's name-"is six."

I've got sisters. Two of them. I wonder if they are perfect little Milbourn girls with marvelous talents. I wonder if they know that I exist.

"I know this won't be easy for you, Ivy. It won't be easy for me either. But Erica and her husband are getting divorced, and she lost her job, and she needs a place to stay. It took a lot for her to ask. I couldn't turn her away." He avoids my eyes and fiddles with his big, silver watch.

Those are his tells. Granddad is a terrible poker player.

"You already said yes," I realize. "When are they coming?"

"Saturday."

That's four days from now. I run my fingers through my long hair, catching at the tangles. "I see." My voice is frosty.

"It's only temporary. Just till she can earn some money and get back on her feet. I'm sure she'll want to get the girls back to their schools in September."

"September? But that's the whole summer!"

And this summer was supposed to be perfect.

Every summer, Granddad signs me up for activities: writing camp up at the college or watercolors at the Arts League or a production of Oklahoma at the Sutton Theater. This year I put my foot down: no classes. I'm volunteering at the library and I'll be swimming every day. I need this, I told Granddad-a real summer. A break before senior year and all its pressures: captaining the swim team, copyediting the yearbook, taking three AP classes, and applying for college. And most of all (though I didn't say this part) I am desperate for a break from the restless, relentless search for my talent.

Granddad agreed, as long as I promised to submit some of my poems for publication.

How am I supposed to relax with my mother and newfound sisters living here all summer long.

"Can she do that?" I ask. "Take them out of New York? Their dad won't mind?"

"I don't get the sense that Isobel has a relationship with her father, and Grace's dad-" Granddad clears his throat, avoiding my gaze again. "They don't live in New York. Haven't for a while. They're over in DC now."

"Oh. I see," I say again.

And I do. Clear as day. My mother's been living two hours away, and she still couldn't be bothered to come visit. To join us for Thanksgiving dinner. To cheer me on at one of my swim meets.

I'm not even worth a tank of gas.

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Praise for Wild Swans

★ Ivy’s journey is handled perfectly, and it’s her story at heart. For anyone who suffers from too-heavy expectations, Ivy will ring true in this engaging, nearly flawless coming-of-age novel. — Kirkus Reviews, Starred

“A thoughtful, relatable story about a young woman attempting to figure out her own worth against the ghosts of her past.” — Booklist

A strong coming-of-age story.” — School Library Journal

WILD SWANS is the kind of thoughtful, summery book you’ll want to savor under starry skies or read on a porch swing with a glass of lemonade nearby. This compelling story of a girl trying to figure out who she is and who she wants to be vs. who everyone else expects her to be manages to feel both fresh and like a timeless classic. Highly recommended for Sarah Dessen fans. — Paula Stokes, author of Girl Against the Universe and The Art of Lainey

A beautiful novel about the complexity of family and the magic of first love. I couldn’t stop turning the pages. — Lauren Barnholdt, author of Two Way Street and Heat of the Moment

A story of first love and self-discovery as sweet as it is compelling. — Jennifer Salvato Doktorski, author of The Summer After You and Me

About the Author

Jessica Spotswood is the author of the Cahill Witch Chronicles. She lives in Washington, DC, with her husband, and works as a children’s library associate, with her husband. Visit jessicaspotswood.com.

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