Blog Tour: A Short History Of The Girl Next Door – Book Review and Author Interview! Also: Never have I ever cried so much while reading a book.

Hey guys! I am so excited to be a part of the blog tour for A Short History of the Girl Next Door! For this stop in the tour, I have a book review and an interview with the author, Jared Reck!

Before we get started, let me just thank Jared and his wonderful publicists for sending me an ARC of this book and including me in this tour! This book took me on one of the biggest emotional journeys of my book-reading life, and I will be forever changed for it. I am so excited to be able to share my love for this book with all of you!

Book Review


A Short History of the Girl Next Door by Jared Reck
Expected publication by Knopf Books For Young Readers on September 26, 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 272

The unrequited love of the girl next door is the centerpiece of this fiercely funny, yet heart-breaking debut novel.

Fifteen-year-old Matt Wainwright is in turmoil. He can’t tell his lifelong best friend, Tabby, how he really feels about her; his promising basketball skills are being overshadowed by his attitude on the court, and the only place he feels normal is in English class, where he can express his inner thoughts in quirky poems and essays. Matt is desperately hoping that Tabby will reciprocate his feelings; but then Tabby starts dating Liam Branson, senior basketball star and all-around great guy. Losing Tabby to Branson is bad enough; but, as Matt soon discovers, he’s close to losing everything that matters most to him.

This book was an emotional rollercoaster. I went from laughing through the first half to sobbing my eyes out through the second half. My heart was destroyed. My soul was crushed. I don’t know if I will ever recover from this emotional journey. I don’t know if I ever want to.

This book follows Matty, a freshman in high school who is in love with his life-long best friend. He tries to navigate his feelings all while dealing with being in high school, playing basketball, and dealing with his brain which never seems to let him do anything right. Matty is funny and sarcastic and hilarious. I was laughing out loud at every other sentence and loving it.

I loved all of the characters in this book. They were all so real, it felt like I was right there with them. I saw everyone and everything through Matty’s eyes. It was amazing. I fell in love with the characters. I fell in love with the story.

Then the unthinkable happens. Not gonna say what, because it would be giving away too much, but I couldn’t stop crying. Actual tears were pouring down my face. And they didn’t stop.

Don’t believe me? Here’s proof:

The way Jared Reck captures emotions is incredible. Sure, I cry at a lot of books, but I have never come across emotions as strong as these. My whole body was shaking. And even though the end of this book made everything a little better, I lay down for hours processing the emotional journey I had just gone through.

Honestly I would recommend this book to everyone. It was beautiful. It was strong and emotional. It was heart-breaking and hopeful at the same time. It is a story that I think everyone can relate to and benefit from.

I am going to give A Short History of the Girl Next Door five out of five hearts. I would give it more if I could.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Author Interview with Jared Reck

Emma: Hi Jared! I can’t wait for the release of your upcoming novel, A SHORT HISTORY OF THE GIRL NEXT DOOR, in September 2017! Can you tell me where the inspiration for this novel came from?

Jared: Thank you, Emma! And thanks for having me—your review blew me away!

I wish I could say that SHORT HISTORY came from some big idea, but it didn’t. It really just started with a character.

I teach 8th grade ELA, which I run as a Writing Workshop, and every year we do a pretty in-depth unit on fiction writing. We always start the process by developing a believable main character using a simple questionnaire—about twenty questions answered in the voice of that character, almost like you’re sitting down across the table from your character and recording whatever he or she says to you. (I still start all my stories this way, with about 20-30 pages of character responses before I ever try writing the first chapter.)

About seven or eight years ago, I’d finished my first short story with my students—a 30-page story about a dweeby 8th-grade orchestra member sitting in in-school suspension—and I loved how it turned out. So when I sat down and started a new character with my students the next year, I ended up loving this kid even more: he was funny, and self-deprecating, and stuck inside his own head all the time, and he lived and breathed basketball. He was Matt.

So before I ever knew where I was going with the story—before I knew I’d even attempt to turn it into a novel—I had this character, this voice, that I loved. (I’m still not sure I ever figured out plot.)

Emma: You must be so excited to be releasing your debut novel! What challenges have you faced as a writer in your journey to this point?

Jared: Ordinary, everyday life.

Besides teaching full-time, I also worked through a Master’s program in Educational Leadership, I’m an elected School Board member (in the district where I live, not where I teach), I’m on my town’s Recreation Board, and with two daughters (one a senior in high school this year), my wife and I are constantly volunteering for the music booster club and the theater booster club and going to concerts and practices and sporting events and Girl Scouts and…yeah. Life.

Definitely not a struggle—I love being involved in all these things—just full. So, especially with this first book, it was hard to dedicate so much time away from family to work on something that may never go anywhere. And that was one of the biggest challenges—just having the commitment to keep going. To assuage all the crippling self-doubt with the thought that, even if this never gets published, I’ll still be a better human being for having done it—that I’d regret never finishing way more than never publishing.

Emma: You have said that teaching inspired your love for young adult literature. How have your students influenced your writing?

Jared: My students have always kind of been my first readers, little snippets at a time. In my classroom, I never ask my students to do anything I’m not willing to do, too, so I am always writing with them, whether it’s memoir or poetry or fiction or whatever. I model with my own writing throughout the entire process, and, honestly, I’m usually trying to make them laugh. So if I can read a passage and make a roomful of 8th graders laugh, I know I’m on the right track. They’re not always the easiest audience.

They also keep me grounded into how teenagers think, what they want, how they talk. It turns out, besides some updated slang, it’s exactly the same as when I was a teenager.

Emma: If you could boil down the message of A SHORT HISTORY OF THE GIRL NEXT DOOR into a few sentences, what would they be? What do you hope readers will take away from your story?

Jared: I love the idea in writing that in the specific lies the universal—that there’s beauty and emotion and connection in particular, ordinary, seemingly insignificant moments. In the book, that comes across as, “Any given moment just might be perfect.” Trick or Treat traditions, favorite candies, neighborhood home run derbies and Candyland with little brothers. Playing in the snow as kids. That shit matters, you know? How many of us, when we lose a grandparent, or a parent, or anyone that really matters to us, think “I really wish I could just go back and have one more cup of coffee together, munch on one of Grandma’s sugar cookies and talk”?

Okay, so I’m apparently not great at boiling down, am I?

Emma: What newfound wisdom can you share with all of the aspiring authors of the world?

Jared: Three things:

First, my all-time favorite writing quote, from Stephen King’s On Writing—I use this on day one of my classroom every year: “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There’s no way around these two things that I’m aware of, no shortcut.”

Second, it’s okay to fake it. Seriously. I just finished writing my second novel, and I still feel like I’m faking it—like I still shouldn’t really call myself a writer. But even if you feel that way—and I bet most of us feel that way—go ahead and pretend like you’re a real-live writer anyway: join an organization like SCBWI, take a class or a workshop, find a writing friend or two, do your research, keep reading and writing, and pretend that you’re already so successful that you can write about whatever the hell makes you truly happy. (I wrote about Nerds, corked wiffle ball bats, and almost inappropriately good gravy.)

And third, where I’d go when I was struggling with self-doubt: One of my writing heroes, A.S. King, wrote a series of blog posts years ago about learning to write with your middle finger in the air. I still read them on a semi-regular basis—I’ll just leave them here with you.

Thanks for reading!!

And don’t forget to check out A Short History of the Girl Next Door on goodreads and amazon!

Author Q&A- Peyton Garver

It is been quite a while since I’ve posted an Q&A, but I am so excited to have had the opportunity to interview Peyton Garver and share it with you guys! Peyton Garver is a high school teacher and a YA author, and has recently published a book called Sublime Karma.

Author Q&A With Peyton Garver

Q:Hi! Peyton! Thank you so much for doing this Q&A! What is something you think everyone should know about you?

A: What I like most about teaching is making a difference in the lives of my students. I want to inspire them and give them the confidence to pursue their dreams.

Q: Tell me about your book, Sublime Karma. Where did the idea for this book come from?

mA: Sublime Karma is about a girl who transfers to a new high school as a senior and doesn’t quite fit in. But, there’s a reason why she is the way she is and Jake is intent on finding out her story. It is an emotional novel, but what I hope my readers get from it are the morals. I hope I did the job of promoting advocacy for self and others and to stand up for what you believe in, even if you’re standing alone. I tried to get the message across that you never know the story behind the mask.

The idea for Sublime Karma came from years of my experience teaching teens. I have been witness to challenges, heartaches, and triumphs. And, although bullying has been in the headlines these past few years, it’s not a new phenomenon. I have seen introverts become victims and unlikely students become advocates, standing up against the crowd. So in essence, the idea for Sublime Karma came from my students and thus my book is dedicated to them.

Q:Do you have any writing rituals? How do you find your inspiration?

hgA: I don’t have any rituals per se, but I get my inspiration from my students. My novel is purely fiction but the situations could be very real in any school. The issues that are present in Sublime Karma are not uncommon among adolescents.  Another form of inspiration is music. Sometimes I’ll hear a song on the radio and it inspires a whole scene. I’ve actually posted a playlist of songs that have been the inspiration for portions of Sublime Karma.

*The last song on the list is by the fictional band, Sublime Karma, in the novel.

Q:What is something you want the world to know?

If everyone followed the Golden Rule think about how much better our world would be. I love this Maya Angelou quote, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said. People will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Author Bio

imageWhen not writing, Peyton is a full time teacher. She has developed characters who resemble real world teens dealing with real issues: relationships, jealousy, bullying, and depression. Her newest novel, Sublime Karma, is a contemporary story filled with emotion, depth, wit, and suspense. Sublime Karma was published in the fall of 2016 as an ebook by Soulmate Publishing. The print copy was released in 2017.

When she’s not teaching or writing, Peyton enjoys traveling. The Caribbean Islands have become a favorite vacation getaway for Peyton and her husband. “Nothing is better than sitting on a beach, in front of the crystal sea, enveloped in the warmth of the tropical sun with a frosty piña colada and a good book that I just can’t put down.

Find Peyton Online

Visit her website

Follow her on Twitter

Follow her on Facebook

I’d like to say a big thank you to Peyton for doing this interview, and to you for reading it!

Book Review- Unscripted Joss Byrd



Unscripted Joss Byrd by Lygia Day Peñaflor
Published by Roaring Brook on August 23 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Fiction
Pages: 224

Hollywood critics agree. Joss Byrd is “fiercely emotional,” a young actress with “complete conviction,” and a “powerhouse.”

Joss Byrd is America’s most celebrated young actress, but on the set of her latest project, a gritty indie film called The Locals, Joss’s life is far from glamorous. While struggling with her mother’s expectations, a crush on her movie brother, and a secret that could end her career, Joss must pull off a performance worthy of a star. When her renowned, charismatic director demands more than she is ready to deliver, Joss must go off-script to stay true to herself.

I was really excited to read Unscripted Joss Byrd. I’ve been having luck with the last few contemporaries I’ve tried, and I love stories that explore life behind-the-scenes. This one promised to be awesome. But, I was sadly disappointed.

Let me just start by saying that it took me half the book to even figure out how old Joss was. At first I thought she was 14 or 15, and then she would say something that would make me think she was 8 or 9. Finally, it was revealed that she was 12, but gosh did that take FOREVER.

As for the characters, they felt so fake. This book didn’t throw me behind the scenes of a movie; it sat me awkwardly in front of cliché characters that were trying too hard to create a story that might be worth reading. I don’t mean to bash the book, I just was really REALLY disappointed by it. The characters were all so ONE DIMENSIONAL and PREDICTABLE, I could barely stand it.

In books where the characters are lacking, usually the plot is the savior. NOT IN THIS CASE. The plot was kind of boing, and was not original by any means. There were no surprises, no major twists, and nothing that made it special. The whole thing was just kind of “blah.”

Now, I’ve never  been big on contemporary novels, so that could be why I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I was hoping. But I really just felt like it was trying too hard, and didn’t deliver. I didn’t feel anything for this book. NOTHING. NONE OF THE FEELS. So disappointing.

I wouldn’t really recommend this book to anyone, unless they are big fans of contemporary. Maybe they will be able to find something in the pages that I didn’t.

I am going to give Unscripted Joss Byrd two out of five hearts. Its not the worst book I’ve ever read, but it was not anywhere close to what I image it could have been.

♥ ♥

Book Review- The Last Star


The Last Star by Rick Yancey
Published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers on May 24 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Dystopia
Pages: 338

The enemy is Other. The enemy is us.

They’re down here, they’re up there, they’re nowhere. They want the Earth, they want us to have it. They came to wipe us out, they came to save us.

But beneath these riddles lies one truth: Cassie has been betrayed. So has Ringer. Zombie. Nugget. And all 7.5 billion people who used to live on our planet. Betrayed first by the Others, and now by ourselves.

In these last days, Earth’s remaining survivors will need to decide what’s more important: saving themselves…or saving what makes us human.

After two incredible first books, I feel like The Last Star fell a little short. The characters were still awesome, and I was rooting for them 100%, but by the third book the trilogy lost its steam.

A lot of the plot points in this book felt like they were taken from books 1 and 2, reimagined, and thrown back in. It just felt repetitive. When a big decision came up, the outcome was too predictable. The characters didn’t grow and change, they just did the same things over and over again. Not that their decisions didn’t make sense (because they did), but I just wish that there were some more original situations that the characters needed to adapt to rather than having the same dilemmas over and over again.

I also found the alien’s motives more than a little confusing. Looking back, I’m still not exactly sure why they came to earth and what they were trying to accomplish. It felt like the reasons didn’t fit with the plot, and it just seemed strange. Also the way the plot was revealed seemed very unrealistic.

I was hoping that at least the end of the book would have a big bang, but I was let down. The end was predictable, and felt like it was trying too hard. The book didn’t feel resolved. It felt like I was left in some strange limbo version of the book, and there should have been another hundred pages to tie up the plot.

I don’t regret reading The Last Star, especially because I enjoyed The Fifth Wave and The Infinite Sea so much. However, I do wish that it was more original. I am going to give The Last Star three out of five hearts.

♥ ♥ ♥


Book Reivew- The Great Gatsby



The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Published by Scribner on April 10 1925
Genres: Classics, literature

THE GREAT GATSBY, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s third book, stands as the supreme achievement of his career. This exemplary novel of the Jazz Age has been acclaimed by generations of readers. The story of the fabulously wealthy Jay Gatsby and his love for the beautiful Daisy Buchanan, of lavish parties on Long Island at a time when The New York Times noted “gin was the national drink and sex the national obsession,” it is an exquisitely crafted tale of America in the 1920s.

The Great Gatsby was a wild ride. It was full of lies and deception from every character, yet there was something about the story that was sincere and beautiful. Fitzgerald manipulates the English language like no other, and I found myself peeling back layer after layer of meaning.

The characters were so lifelike it felt as if they were not characters at all, but real people that lived spectacular lives. But somehow at the same time they too outrageous to believe. There is too much dimension to comprehend with one sitting.

The Great Gatsby is definitely not the kind of book you can curl up with on a rainy afternoon and read. It is the kind of book that you read chapter by chapter, pausing after each one and trying to wrap your brain around what just happened. It’s the kind of book you want to read with a friend or group of people, just because there is no way one person can uncover the hidden messages in the pages by themselves.

I think everyone should read The Great Gatsby at some point in their lives, just because it is something that makes you ponder the true nature of society. I am going to give The Great Gatsby four out of five hearts.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Book Review- What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions



What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on September 2, 2014
Genres: Science,Non-fiction, Humor
Pages: 303

Randall Munroe left NASA in 2005 to start up his hugely popular site XKCD ‘a web comic of romance, sarcasm, math and language’ which offers a witty take on the world of science and geeks. It now has 600,000 to a million page hits daily. Every now and then, Munroe would get emails asking him to arbitrate a science debate. ‘My friend and I were arguing about what would happen if a bullet got struck by lightning, and we agreed that you should resolve it . . . ‘ He liked these questions so much that he started up What If.

If your cells suddenly lost the power to divide, how long would you survive?

How dangerous is it, really, to be in a swimming pool in a thunderstorm?

If we hooked turbines to people exercising in gyms, how much power could we produce?

What if everyone only had one soulmate?

When (if ever) did the sun go down on the British empire?

How fast can you hit a speed bump while driving and live?

What would happen if the moon went away?

In pursuit of answers, Munroe runs computer simulations, pores over stacks of declassified military research memos, solves differential equations, and consults with nuclear reactor operators. His responses are masterpieces of clarity and hilarity, studded with memorable cartoons and infographics. They often predict the complete annihilation of humankind, or at least a really big explosion. Far more than a book for geeks, WHAT IF: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions explains the laws of science in operation in a way that every intelligent reader will enjoy and feel much the smarter for having read.

What If? was great. Every question was answered through words, comics, and diagrams. The questions in the book truly were absurd, and the answers equally hilarious.

One of my favorite parts of the book were the “Weird (and Worrying) Questions” section. Every few pages there would be a page with two or three Weird/Worrying questions. Those questions were by far my favorite to read (even if some of them weren’t answered). I also love the comics in the book. Munroe does a great job illustrating the answers and bringing humor to his work.

The answers in the book are very easy to understand, even though some of them have very complicated ideas in them. Munroe does an excellent job of making everything understandable and enjoyable to read. There also is a great deal of humor in the writing, which makes the answers of these crazy questions even more fun to read.

Although some of the answers were amazing, there were some questions that just didn’t interest me, but I guess not every single Absurd Hypothetical Question can interest every single person out there. The book is most definitely worth reading, and it is something that I love showing to other people! Talk about a great conversation starter!

I am going to give this book four out of five hearts!

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

It’s been a while…

Hi everyone. So, as some of you probably noticed (a girl can hope), I haven’t exactly been posting for the last few months. For that I’m sorry. Life’s been kind of crazy. 

I started a new school this fall, and unlike my last school (which was so laid back that the teachers didn’t show up half the time), it is really intense. So I decided to take some time away from the internet and focus completely on classes and getting adjusted, which had worked out pretty well (not to brag, but high honors student right here). 

At the beginning of the school year, I figured that I would have lots of free time to read, and brought a whole bookshelf full of books I have yet to read. Sadly they’ve been sitting in said bookshelf waiting for me to crack open the pages. 

I have read a few of them, but I haven’t had the time to sit down and write reviews for them quite yet. But I will. I promise. I won’t be posting quite as often as I used to be, but I will start coming back. I’m going to start making time to rejoin the wonderful world of book blogging and reconnect with the amazing bloggers I have met since beginning this journey in February.

Seeing as I’ve been gone for so long, I would love for some of you other wonderful bloggers to link your posts below so I can catch up on some of your latest posts! Thanks so much for reading this, and I can’t wait to dive back in to the blogosphere!!!!

“So Many Books, So Little Time…” Throw Pillow Giveaway

Hi everyone! This summer has been amazing, but really, really busy. So I’m sorry if my postings have been a bit all over the place.

A few weeks ago I reached out to Darlene Nudy after coming across her Etsy store, which you can check out here. You can also visit her Facebook page here, and don’t forget to give it a like! Darlene is a seamstress who does custom sewing and embroidery. What really caught my eye was her throw pillows.

Why? Because anyone who loves decorating loves throw pillows. And, anyone who loves decorating AND books can’t help but love Darlene’s book inspired pillow!

To my delight, Darlene agreed to work with me to bring this wonderful giveaway to you! She sent me two pillows, one with Keystroke Blog’s logo on it, and the other saying “So Many Books, So Little Time…” (which perfectly describes my life at any given moment).


I am so happy with these cute little pillows! They are a good fabric and are sewn very well. And they are so adorable! I am so happy to have the chance to give one lucky winner one of these pillows.


To enter the giveaway, follow the rafflecopter link below. Good luck!

Book Review- Don’t Even Think About It



Don’t Even Think About It by Sarah Mlynowski
Published by Delacorte Press on March 11, 2014
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Paranormal, Fantasy
Pages: 317

We weren’t always like this. We used to be average New York City high school sophomores. Until our homeroom went for flu shots. We were prepared for some side effects. Maybe a headache. Maybe a sore arm. We definitely didn’t expect to get telepathic powers. But suddenly we could hear what everyone was thinking. Our friends. Our parents. Our crushes. Now we all know that Tess is in love with her best friend, Teddy. That Mackenzie cheated on Cooper. That, um, Nurse Carmichael used to be a stripper.

Since we’ve kept our freakish skill a secret, we can sit next to the class brainiac and ace our tests. We can dump our boyfriends right before they dump us. We know what our friends really think of our jeans, our breath, our new bangs. We always know what’s coming.

Some of us will thrive. Some of us will crack. None of us will ever be the same. So stop obsessing about your ex. We’re always listening.

Don’t Even Think About It is a cute book, there is no getting around that one. It is written in a first person plural tense, which is really unique. It’s like one big collective mind split into different bodies, but telling the story as one person. So, for example, instead of using “I”, it uses “we”.

The story itself is pretty interesting. It follows classroom 10B as they get ESP powers and can read minds. A lot of secrets are brought out and there is definitely a lot of drama. But its not the kind of drama that made me want to roll my eyes and put the book down… it was the kind of drama that made me laugh a little and really want to find out what was going to happen next.

As I said earlier, the book is written in a first person plural… the plural being the 22 students of 10B that got ESP. However, each of the characters is still unique, which made for a great read. There were the students that I loved (hi Olivia and Cooper!), those that made me laugh (BJ), those that I kind of sort of hated (*ahem* Courtney and Pi), and those that I don’t even remember the names of because they aren’t that important to the story.

I really did enjoy reading Don’t Even Think About It, but it wasn’t my favorite book in the world. I feel like there could have been more to the story. That being said, I still want to read the second one to find out what happens next!

I am going to give Don’t Even Think About It four out of five hearts.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥


Book Review- Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children



Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children by Random Riggs
Published by Quirk on June 7, 2011
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult, Fiction, Paranormal
Pages: 352

A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. A strange collection of curious photographs.

A horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive.

I did it. After having Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children sitting on my shelf and staring at me for almost six months, I picked it up and read it. And wow, was it amazing.

The beginning of the book was a little slow, giving a lot of Jacob’s backstory. It was very interesting, and introduced his relationship with his grandfather and the magical stories he used to tell.

On of my favorite things about the book was the pictures, which were placed throughout the book. Ransom Riggs described each one before it was shown, making them all the more interesting. Each one was perfectly woven into the story and created an unforgettable reading experience.

The way the peculiar children lived was remarkable. It was explained so well, and I can’t help but think that maybe–just maybe–these so called “loops” really exist.

The end of the book was a huge surprise. I had to reread the page just to make sure that I had understood it correctly. It made me rethink the events of the entire story, and put it in a new light.

I am going to give Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children four out of five hears. I can’t wait to read what comes next!

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥