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Thursday, June 16, 2016

Blog Tour: Ms. Bixby's Last Day

John David Anderson is quickly becoming one of my favorite MG authors. From fantasy to realistic fiction, Anderson's books are funny, fast-paced, and memorable.

Anderson's newest book, which is out now, is another winner. This novel follows three students as they skip school to visit their favorite teacher, who they've recently learned has cancer and is being transferred from their local hospital. Now, you might assume that this book would be terribly sad and a hard handsell, but you'd be wrong. Yes, there are emotional moments, but there's also plenty of laughter.

I love that this book centers around the three students' love for their teacher, who genuinely cares about her students and truly believes that they deserve great things. I had some really great teachers throughout elementary, middle, and high school... and some really terrible teachers. But those great teachers - the Ms. Bixby's of the world - are the ones that stick with you.

When I was in middle school, I was very awkward. I'm still awkward, but I'm totally cool with it now. Back then I hadn't accepted my awkward. I think I've blocked out most of middle school for my own mental health... I spent a lot of time writing really moody poetry, feeling betrayed by my friends, and hiding out in the school library. In seventh grade I mostly checked out books and used the internet (we didn't have it at home!) - so the media specialist, Mrs. Connell, knew me well.

My eighth grade year I was able to earn credit as the student aide in the library. I spent one class period a day shelving books, watering plants, running errands, and talking books with Ms. Connell. I remember that many of the other students thought she was mean - after all, she worked in the library and most kids were sent there to work quietly, which they did not do. She didn't have a lot of patience for rule breakers. But I was a quiet kid and I loved books, so we got along swimmingly.

In fact, it was Ms. Connell that introduced me to David Eddings, Cornelia Funke, and Robin McKinley. I was always a reader, but Mrs. Connell who showed me the magic of epic fantasy - which remained my obsession through all of high school. 

On the last day of the school year, Ms. Connell gave me two gifts. One was my very own hardcover copy of Cornelia Funke's Inkheart, which I still have and love. The second was a reading journal, in which there was room to record books as I finished them. There was space for title, author, number of pages, why I read it, favorite characters, other books by the author, and more. When I filled this journal, I photocopied the final, uncompleted page to keep recording. And, eventually, I stopped keeping a paper record of the books I'd read, instead starting The Hiding Spot.

The Hiding Spot exists today in large part because of Ms. Connell. And a big reason I'm a bookseller is because of The Hiding Spot. I bet she had no idea what the gift of a book and journal to an awkward eighth grader would change that kid's entire life.

You can read an excerpt of Ms. Bixby's Last Day here!


About the Book
Everyone knows there are different kinds of teachers. The good ones. The not-so-good ones. The boring ones, the mean ones, the ones who try too hard. The ones you’ll never remember, and the ones you want to forget. But Ms. Bixby is none of these. She’s the sort of teacher who makes you feel like the indignity of school is worthwhile. Who makes the idea of growing up less terrifying. Who you never want to disappoint. What Ms. Bixby is, is one of a kind.

Topher, Brand, and Steve know this better than anyone. And so when Ms. Bixby unexpectedly announces that she is very sick and won’t be able to finish the school year, they come up with a plan. Through the three very different stories they tell, we begin to understand just what Ms. Bixby means to Topher, Brand, and Steve—and what they are willing to go to such great lengths to tell her.

John David Anderson, the acclaimed author of Sidekicked, returns with a story of three kids, a very special teacher, and one day that none of them will ever forget.



Thursday, June 9, 2016

Guest Post with Sarvenaz Tash, Author of The Geek's Guide to Unrequited Love

I'm thrilled to welcome the fabulous Sarvenaz Tash back to The Hiding Spot days before the release of her sophomore YA novel, The Geek's Guide to Unrequited Love

Sarvenaz's first book, Three Day Summer, was one of my favorite books of 2015 and this new book is just as delightful! It'll be in bookstores on June 14th.

Check out Sarvenaz's mini playlist for The Geek's Guide to Unrequited Love below!


I don’t generally listen to music when I write. (My one exception was my previous book, Three Day Summer, which took place during the 1969 Woodstock Festival. For that one, I immersed myself in all the music from the festival.) That being said, every one of the books I’ve written seems to have one or two theme songs that I kept going back to, especially when I needed to get revved up or inside a character’s head. 

The Geek’s Guide to Unrequited Love was no exception. There were three songs in particular that I played over and over again (the first three on the playlist found below), that really correlated with different themes and ideas in the book. 

So without further ado, here is a mini 5-song playlist for the book with a little bit on what each song means to the story. 


1. “A Sky Full of Stars” – Coldplay  
Honestly, I listened to the entirety of this album (Ghost Stories) a whole bunch while I was writing this book. I tend to really gravitate toward break-up albums, and some of the raw emotions on this one really got to me. The yearning that is in this particular song, I feel, really echoes Graham’s sentiments for Roxana. 
2. “Spaceman” – The Killers
This song is very directly related to The Chronicles of Althena, the fictional comic series that both Graham and Roxana are obsessed with. How? It helped inspire the whole story within the story! In fact, I had a vague and wild idea to write a rock opera based on music from the Killers and the skeleton of that idea became Althena. If nothing else, it was great lesson to never throw away any writing! 
3. “Just Another Girl” – The Killers  
Another song with lyrics that really helped me understand Graham’s pining for his best friend. Because even if none of his friends really got it, Roxy for sure “stuck it to his heart so hard.” 
4. “The Hardest Part” – Coldplay  
This one’s a little more personal, as this song really helped me get through a tough time and a tough break-up. And, well, you can’t write a love story without mining some of your own experiences. 
5. “If You Leave” – OMD
This one I included purely because it’s the theme song for Pretty in Pink, which was one of the biggest inspirations/influences for this book. But, honestly, the lyrics work for Graham’s story too!


Anyone who pre-orders The Geek's Guide to Unrequited Love or purchases it the week of release (up through Sunday 6/19) will receive an exclusive swag pack featuring a signed book plate, bookmarks, a postcard, and some adorkably nerdy stickers. All you have to do is to email your proof of purchase and mailing address to (This is international). More info here. 


Mon. 6/6        Beauty and the Bookshelf
Tues. 6/7       Prose and Kahn
Wed. 6/8        Read. Breathe. Relax

Thurs. 6/9     The Hiding Spot

Fri. 6/10         The Reading Nook

Mon. 6/13      Adventures of a Book Junkie
Tues. 6/14     Green Bean Teen Queen
Wed. 6/15      Word Spelunking
Thurs. 6/16   Andi’s ABCs
Fri. 6/17         What a Nerd Girl Says

About the Book
Goodreads / Buy It

John Hughes meets Comic Con in this hilarious, unabashedly romantic, coming-of-age novel about a teenager who is trying to get his best friend to fall in love with him from the author of Three Day Summer.

Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy...

Archie and Veronica...

Althena and Noth...

...Graham and Roxy?

Graham met his best friend, Roxana, when he moved into her neighborhood eight years ago, and she asked him which Hogwarts house he’d be sorted into. Graham has been in love with her ever since.

But now they’re sixteen, still neighbors, still best friends. And Graham and Roxy share more than ever—moving on from their Harry Potter obsession to a serious love of comic books.

When Graham learns that the creator of their favorite comic, The Chronicles of Althena, is making a rare appearance at this year’s New York Comic Con, he knows he must score tickets. And the event inspires Graham to come up with the perfect plan to tell Roxy how he really feels about her. He’s got three days to woo his best friend at the coolest, kookiest con full of superheroes and supervillains. But no one at a comic book convention is who they appear to be...even Roxy. And Graham is starting to realize fictional love stories are way less complicated than real-life ones.
About the Author
Website / Twitter

Sarvenaz Tash was born in Tehran, Iran and grew up on Long Island, NY. She received her BFA in Film and Television from New York University's Tisch School of the Arts. This means she got to spend most of college running around and making movies (it was a lot of fun). She has dabbled in all sorts of writing including screenwriting, copywriting, and professional tweeting. Sarvenaz currently lives in Brooklyn, NY.