Her Story: Ladies In Literature 2018 with Dana L. Davis

Her Story: Ladies In Literature is a special, month-long series on Pop! Goes The Reader in which we celebrate the literary female role models whose stories have inspired and empowered us since time immemorial. From Harriet M. Welsch to Anne Shirley, Becky Bloomwood to Hermione Granger, Her Story: Ladies In Literature is a series created for women, by women as twenty-six authors answer the question: “Who’s your heroine?” You can find a complete list of the participants and their scheduled guest post dates Here!

About Dana L. Davis

Dana L. Davis is a writer of novels for teens, and also a Hollywood actress with previous series regular roles as: Carmen Phillips on TNT’s Franklin and Bash, head Cheerleader Chastity Church on 10 Things I Hate About You and modern day mimic Monica Dawson on NBC’s cult series Heroes.

She currently stars on the animated series Star Vs. the Forces of Evil, Craig of the Creek and She-Ra and has guest-starred in over 20 prestigious primetime series, including 911, Scorpion, Code Black, Grey’s Anatomy, and CSI. Dana made her film debut in Coach Carter with Samuel Jackson.

In addition to her work on screen, Dana has become a motivational speaker for teens. Her stirring assemblies empower and encourage youth, helping them to redefine what it means to win and lose.

Extremely versatile, Dana is a screenwriter and a trained Violist with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Music from Loyola Marymount University. She volunteers for non profits like Empowering Lives International, which provides training, resources, and encouragement to underprivileged East African children. Dana also created her own non profit organization Culture For Kids, LA, an organization which gifts inner city children tickets and transportation to see performing arts shows around the Los Angeles area.

Davis was raised in the Midwest and currently resides in Los Angeles with her 7-year-old daughter.

Author Links: WebsiteTwitterInstagramGoodreads

Ever seen the movie A.I? Haley Joel Osment plays a robot that wants to be a real boy and spends his whole journey on a quest to become one?

When I was a kid I had a similar drive. All I wanted, more than anything, was to be beautiful.

And in my young mind beauty seemed clearly defined (at least for African American girls): bi-racial, light skin with long, soft curly hair and light eyes to match. These were the versions of beauty I saw in magazines and on TV. So that’s what I aspired to be.

It’s easy to judge young Dana. How dare she not love her rich brown skin, her kinky-curly hair, her full lips and round nose? How dare she aspire to be something she was not? But I grew up in Iowa. Yes, the corn state. Surrounded by people who didn’t look like me. I grew up reading The Boxcar Children, Sweet Valley High and Christopher Pike. No versions of me to be found on those pages. I grew up watching R&B videos where the girl the guy pined after was always some light skinned, exotic, bi-racial model. I went to a school where the girls with light skin were the ones all the boys called pretty.

I saw very few girls who looked like me, celebrated as beautiful. And so at a young age, I became programed that I wasn’t — beautiful that is. And it stuck. But like Haley Joel in A.I…I never stopped wishing and dreaming. If only I could be pretty, I’d think. Everything would be okay for me.

And then, as a kid, I stumbled upon Alice Walker’s The Color Purple and started reading Celie’s letters to God. And even though people around her, including her own “husband” called her black and ugly, I fell in love with her. Celie endured so much abuse but was so resilient. And through her hardships she maintained this incredible capacity to love. Today Alice Walker’s haunting tale about a young southern girl has over ten thousand reviews on Goodreads. It’s been turned into an Academy Award nominated feature film and Tony award winning musical. It won Walker a Pulitzer and critical acclaim. But for me…it was simply a childhood story…a book I stumbled upon at the library. A novel that started the beginning of a new phase in my life. Where beauty would become redefined. Because if I could see the beauty in a barely literate, poor southern girl…surely I could see the astounding beauty in myself and the strong, amazing women that surrounded me.

So it seems I got my wish after all. But not because of what I look like, but because like Alice Walker’s, Celie, I will not be defined by “good” hair and light skin, but by a perseverance that will see me through life’s trials and tribulations.

I am a strong, courageous and resilient dark-skinned woman. And I am beautiful.

Title Tiffany Sly Lives Here Now
Author Dana L. Davis
Pages 336 Pages
Intended Target Audience Young Adult
Genre Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
Publication Date May 1st 2018 by Harlequin Teen
Find It On GoodreadsAmazon.comChaptersThe Book Depository

“I’ve got seven days to come clean to my new dad. Seven days to tell the truth…”

For sixteen-year-old Tiffany Sly, life hasn’t been safe or normal for a while. Losing her mom to cancer has her a little bit traumatized and now she has to leave her hometown of Chicago to live with the biological dad she’s never known.

Anthony Stone is a rich man with four other daughters — and rules for every second of the day. Tiffany tries to make the best of things, but she doesn’t fit into her new luxurious, but super-strict, home — or get along with her standoffish sister London. The only thing that makes her new life even remotely bearable is the strange boy across the street. Marcus McKinney has had his own experiences with death, and the unexpected friendship that blossoms between them is the only thing that makes her feel grounded.

But Tiffany has a secret. Another man claims he’s Tiffany’s real dad — and she has only seven days before he shows up to demand a paternity test and the truth comes out. With her life about to fall apart all over again, Tiffany finds herself discovering unexpected truths about her father, her mother and herself, and realizing that maybe family is in the bonds you make—and that life means sometimes taking risks.

Her Story: Ladies In Literature 2018 with Brigit Young

Her Story: Ladies In Literature is a special, month-long series on Pop! Goes The Reader in which we celebrate the literary female role models whose stories have inspired and empowered us since time immemorial. From Harriet M. Welsch to Anne Shirley, Becky Bloomwood to Hermione Granger, Her Story: Ladies In Literature is a series created for women, by women as twenty-six authors answer the question: “Who’s your heroine?” You can find a complete list of the participants and their scheduled guest post dates Here!

About Brigit Young

Brigit Young was raised in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where she got through many a cold winter by reading all the books on her house’s shelves. Her first story, written at age six, told the tale of a monster who wanted a human friend. It ended on a cliffhanger. In elementary school, her mom introduced her to Shakespeare, and she fell down the rabbit hole into the addictive land of stories. Since then, she has published poetry and short fiction in dozens of literary journals, and taught creative writing to kids of all ages. Brigit lives in Brooklyn with her husband and daughter. Her debut middle grade novel, Worth A Thousand Words, hits shelves in August.

Author Links: WebsiteTwitterInstagramGoodreads

In junior year of high school, I handed my teacher a poem about sexual assault, and the next day she handed me Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak. It would take me years to understand exactly why.

I took the book. I stared at it. The harsh Michigan winter went by, and I stared some more. I asked a friend what it was about and she told me the big reveal: Melinda Sordino’s classmates despise her for calling the cops during a party, but the secret truth is that she called them out of terror after she’d been date raped by a popular boy at school.

I’m so not reading that, I thought. I knew enough of assault on my own. I didn’t need someone else’s story.

But I put it next to my bed, beside a zebra-print jewelry box and a picture of my best friend and me at age twelve in a kitschy silver frame, and told myself I’d read it that spring.

Over the summer, I grazed over a paragraph here or there, struck by the familiarity of Melinda’s sarcasm and grim outlook, her inner monologue that roasts those around her who try to pull her out of her funk. But when Melinda’s dark night was hinted at, down the book would go, back on the bed stand.

Before I knew it, after a high school experience with some high highs and some very low lows, I grew up. At nineteen, gathering my things to move to New York City, attempting to pack sparsely for a small living space, I found myself grabbing Speak.

I’m older. I’m over it. I should read it, I told myself, placing it inside a box.

The novel sat, untouched and inhaling Jasmine incense on an East Village bookshelf, for another year.

And then one night in New York, as my then-boyfriend sat by the boombox and a stack of CDs, DJing a soundtrack to our young lives, one of my best friends called. I’d known this friend since before memories form, since before our fingers were skilled enough to twine together the clover crowns we eventually bestowed upon one another at recess. This darling friend told me that her boyfriend had raped her. She told me when. She told me how. And I thanked her for telling me. I promised her that I would be there for her. She could talk to me any time. I told her I understood. She said she’d called me because she knew I did.

For months afterward, we texted one another our support. Calling often made it too hard. “Thinking about it…” she’d write. “I know,” I’d say, before offering a nugget of advice for how to deal with and dispel such thoughts.

Shortly thereafter, I picked up Speak. I read it from midnight until dawn and into the morning, a Cheerio or two escaping from my spoon, so enraptured was I with the sorrows and triumphs of Melinda Sordino, of the reflection I saw staring back at me.

Melinda Sordino was whip-smart, sarcastic, furious and creative. She was also living in solitude. And, as I read of her solitude, my own began to crumble.

I had thought that because I’d lived through it, I didn’t need someone else’s story. But I did. I needed my friend’s story. She needed mine. I needed the words of all the stories told to me in women’s bathrooms and greenrooms at shows I was in and over drinks at the bar. I needed Melinda’s. We need each other’s words because each story chips away at our undeserved shame.

And Melinda, bless her, was the first character in literature that, for my generation and for that experience, spoke. And not just in her triumphant moments in the book in which she literally speaks out. No, her very existence speaks for untold numbers of young women – of children – who walk this earth with the wounds of abuse.

Melinda herself is a voice, and I heard her exactly when I needed to.

Title Worth A Thousand Words
Author Brigit Young
Pages 288 Pages
Intended Target Audience Middle Grade
Genre Mystery
Publication Date August 14th 2018 by Roaring Brook Press
Find It On GoodreadsAmazon.comChaptersThe Book Depository

Whether it’s earrings, homework, or love notes, Tillie “Lost and Found” Green and her camera can find any lost thing ― until a search for a missing person forces her to step out from behind the lens.

Ever since a car accident left Tillie Green with lasting painful injuries, she’s hidden behind her camera. She watches her family and classmates through the lens, tracking down misplaced items and spotting the small details that tell a much bigger story than people usually see. But she isn’t prepared for class clown Jake Hausmann’s request: to find his father.

In a matter of days, Tillie goes from silent observer to one half of a detective duo, searching for clues to the mystery of Jake’s dad’s disappearance. When the truth isn’t what Jake wants it to be, and the photographs start exposing people’s secrets, Tillie has to decide what ― and who ― is truly important to her.

Her Story: Ladies In Literature 2018 with Whitney Gardner

Her Story: Ladies In Literature is a special, month-long series on Pop! Goes The Reader in which we celebrate the literary female role models whose stories have inspired and empowered us since time immemorial. From Harriet M. Welsch to Anne Shirley, Becky Bloomwood to Hermione Granger, Her Story: Ladies In Literature is a series created for women, by women as twenty-six authors answer the question: “Who’s your heroine?” You can find a complete list of the participants and their scheduled guest post dates Here!

About Whitney Gardner

Whitney Gardner is an author, illustrator, and coffee addict. Originally from New York, she studied design and worked as an art teacher and school librarian before moving to Victoria, BC, where she lives by the Salish Sea with her husband and two pugs. In the rare moment Whitney isn’t writing or drawing, she’s likely to be reading comics, knitting, or roasting coffee.

Author Links: WebsiteTwitterInstagramFacebookGoodreads

Title Fake Blood
Author Whitney Gardner
Pages 336 Pages
Intended Target Audience Middle Grade
Genre Graphic Novel, Paranormal
Publication Date September 4th 2018 by Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
Find It On GoodreadsAmazon.comChaptersThe Book Depository

A middle schooler comes head-to-head with his vampire slayer crush in this laugh-out-loud funny graphic novel that’s a perfect coming-of-age story for anyone who’s ever felt too young, too small, or too average.

It’s the beginning of the new school year and AJ feels like everyone is changing but him. He hasn’t grown or had any exciting summer adventures like his best friends have. He even has the same crush he’s harbored for years. So AJ decides to take matters into his own hands. But how could a girl like Nia Winters ever like plain vanilla AJ when she only has eyes for vampires?

When AJ and Nia are paired up for a group project on Transylvania, it may be AJ’s chance to win over Nia’s affection by dressing up like the vamp of her dreams. And soon enough he’s got more of Nia’s attention than he bargained for when he learns she’s a slayer.

Now AJ has to worry about self-preservation while also trying to save everyone he cares about from a real-life threat lurking in the shadows of Spoons Middle School.

Cover Reveal: Fear of Missing Out by Kate McGovern

Hi everyone! Today I’m thrilled and excited to welcome author Kate McGovern to Pop! Goes The Reader as we share the exclusive cover reveal for Kate’s sophomore novel, Fear of Missing Out! Coming to a bookstore and library near you March 19th 2019 from Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR), Fear of Missing Out follows the story of Astrid who, after learning her cancer has returned, embarks on a road trip with her best friend and boyfriend in pursuit of a radical technology that promises to freeze and preserve her body until a cure becomes available. The cover art for Fear of Missing Out was created by Aimee Fleck. Please read on to learn more about Fear of Missing Out, including an exclusive excerpt from the novel and an opportunity for one lucky reader to win both a signed hardcover copy of Kate’s debut novel, Rules For 50/50 Chances, and an advance reader copy of Fear of Missing Out!

About Kate McGovern

Kate McGovern is the author of Rules For 50/50 Chances, which was called a “standout contemporary read” by Booklist. She lives with her family in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in a house full of books.

Author Links: WebsiteTwitterInstagramGoodreads

I’ve always thought an astrocytoma sounds like a shooting star. Right? Like something you’d want to watch from the roof of your house or the top of a really tall hill, probably lying on your back on a wool blanket and eating popcorn. On the news, they’d be all like, “Don’t miss the astrocytoma shower tonight! It’ll be most visible from nine to midnight, weather permitting. Once in a lifetime!” You’d lie there on your back on the blanket, waiting for it, and then it would cross the sky over your head and you’d think, “That’s the brightest, most beautiful astrocytoma I’ve ever seen.”

And it would be.

● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ●

“Astrid. Astrid.”

I blink. There are tiny bursts of light swimming at the corners of my vision. My astrocytoma.

An astrocytoma is not, in fact, a shooting star, though it should be. It’s a brain tumor, made of star-shaped cells. Astrocytes. Things of beauty, and instruments of death.

I blink again and my mother comes into view in front of me. She was sitting next to me a minute ago, and now she’s hovering over me, her face too close to mine. “Astrid?”

Yes, my tumor matches my name.


“Did you hear Dr. Klein?”

My mother’s face is splotchy. Her eyes are rimmed in red. I look from her to Dr. Klein, who’s giving me her Serious Face.

“I’m sorry, guys,” Dr. Klein says, clearing her throat. “I wish I had better news.”

Poor Dr. Klein. I shouldn’t be thinking about her feelings right now, but I am. Dr. Klein likes me. She already saved me once, when my brain first got tumored. Ninth grade. There was the surgery to remove it, and then the radiation, and then the chemo. It took nine months — my mother likes to say it took the same amount of time to start my life as it did to save it — and then everything looked good for a while. Like, doesn’t-happen-that-often, almost-enough-to-make-you- believe-in-God good.

I don’t believe in God, though. I believe in science, and there’s a reason for that. Science is a kind of miraculous thing of its own, miraculous enough to make a star-shaped tumor go away for two years, which a lot of people said was impossible. But science is also reality, and it can only do what it can do. And now, according to the scan we’re all staring at on Dr. Klein’s computer screen, science has run up against its natural limitations.

That’s my brain on the scan. My brain, the traffic control center of everything that makes me me. Just staring back at us in all its light and shadows. It never gets old, looking at a human brain.

Dr. Klein swallows. “Astrid, you know how to read this scan. I don’t need to tell you what it says.”

She’s correct. The thing Dr. Klein did, besides saving me the first time, was make me love the brain — which, if you think about it, was pretty badass of her, considering that I had only recently come face-to-face with my own brain’s potentially fatal flaws. She let me do an internship in her lab this past summer, and since my hair had mostly grown back by then, no one in the office knew I’d been one of her cancer kids just a year earlier. I was just a high school student with an interest in neuroscience, and she let me look under the microscope at slivers of normal and abnormal brain tissue, at scans just like this one, for patients with all kinds of astrocytomas and gliomas and medulloblastomas.

So she’s right — I can read this scan. And it is not a good one. There’s my brain, both hemispheres, and right there at the base of the brain stem, a foreign object of my body’s own making: a jellyfish, a bubble floating away from a child’s liquid-coated wand, a bright asteroid. A tumor made of stars.

Title Fear of Missing Out
Author Kate McGovern
Pages 320 Pages
Intended Target Audience Young Adult
Genre Contemporary
To Be Published March 19th 2019 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Find It On GoodreadsAmazon.comChaptersThe Book Depository

Everyone has a fear of missing out on something ― a party, a basketball game, a hangout after school. But what if it’s life that you’ll be missing out on?

When Astrid learns that her cancer has returned, she hears about a radical technology called cryopreservation that may allow her to have her body frozen until a future time when ― and if ― a cure is available. With her boyfriend, Mohit, and her best friend, Chloe, Astrid goes on a road trip in search of that possibility. To see if it’s real. To see if it’s worth it. For fear of missing out on everything.

As an extra, exciting bonus, Kate has been kind enough to offer one lucky reader the opportunity to win both a signed hardcover copy of her debut novel, Rules For 50/50 Chances, and an advance reader copy of Fear of Missing Out! One winner will be chosen at random at the conclusion of the giveaway and the prize will be distributed by Kate when ARCs become available. Please fill out the Rafflecopter form below to enter!

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Her Story: Ladies In Literature 2018 with Ashley Woodfolk

Her Story: Ladies In Literature is a special, month-long series on Pop! Goes The Reader in which we celebrate the literary female role models whose stories have inspired and empowered us since time immemorial. From Harriet M. Welsch to Anne Shirley, Becky Bloomwood to Hermione Granger, Her Story: Ladies In Literature is a series created for women, by women as twenty-six authors answer the question: “Who’s your heroine?” You can find a complete list of the participants and their scheduled guest post dates Here!

About Ashley Woodfolk

Ashley Woodfolk has loved reading and writing for as long as she can remember. She graduated from Rutgers University with a Bachelor of Arts in English and works in children’s book publishing. She writes from a sunny Brooklyn apartment, where she lives with her cute husband and her cuter dog. The Beauty That Remains is her debut novel.

Author Links: WebsiteTwitterInstagramTumblrGoodreads

As a black woman, I’m often afraid to speak when I’m angry.

For one, I’m prone to cry when I’m pissed, and that in turn makes me more angry – that tears are clouding my voice; that I might be seen as overly emotional or irrational. But I also don’t want to be seen as scary or violent. I don’t want the words I say to be misinterpreted because of the energy behind them. I don’t want people on the receiving end to feel “attacked”.

I don’t want to be seen as a stereotype: The angry black woman. I don’t want to be dismissed or belittled. So, I often force myself to stay quiet when I’m livid.

I write when I cannot or will not speak.

If you’ve only read The Color Purple by Alice Walker once, Celie might seem an odd choice when prompted to recall a character who embodies strength, inspiration, wisdom, and independence. For so much of the novel, Celie is a victim with hardly any agency at all. But if you think about black women and how often our trauma, emotions (especially our anger), and experiences are trivialized, it will start to make sense.

Throughout this novel, Celie’s often silent, and I mean that in the literal and metaphorical sense – the book is epistolary explicitly because she’s surrounded by so much abuse, and her abusers demand that she not speak of their violence. But over the course of the novel Celie’s silence moves from a command she follows that demonstrates her resignation to a kind of retaliation; a kind of revenge.

The book starts with the line, “You better not never tell nobody but God,” and this is both a threat of what will happen if she speaks up and a foreshadowing of what follows. For the next hundred pages, Celie writes dozens of letters to God staying ‘silent’ as she’s been told to remain, but telling her story nonetheless – through writing.

Later on her letters are addressed to her sister Nettie, and as she begins to tell her story ‘out loud’, her silence becomes something she uses to her advantage. She punishes the people around her with her quietness – she makes them afraid of what she’s thinking and of what she might do next.

There are lots of ‘quiet’ women in literature, but Celie was the first female character I ever read who used silence as power – who actively chose not to speak when she was most overcome with emotion and who processed her thoughts on paper.

I find immense inspiration in her restraint; in her ability again and again to think before she speaks. Celie is black and queer and experiences at times unrelenting brutality and heartbreak. But what is so inspiring about her is that over the course of the novel she reclaims not only her voice, but also her dignity. She demands apologies from her abusers and gains respect from her lovers; she sets up healthy boundaries and remakes her whole life with a family of her choosing.

She harnesses her anger, her trauma, and her voice in a way I one day hope to. Finding strength in her vulnerability, in her forgiveness, and in her resilience is what makes her an inspiration for me in a world where I am so often angry, and when I so often find myself at a loss for words.

Title The Beauty That Remains
Author Ashley Woodfolk
Pages 336 Pages
Intended Target Audience Young Adult
Genre Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
Publication Date March 6th 2018 by Delacorte Press
Find It On GoodreadsAmazon.comChaptersThe Book Depository

Told from three diverse points of view, this story of life and love after loss is one Angie Thomas, author of The Hate U Give, calls a “stunning, heart-wrenching look at grief that will stay with you long after you put it down.”

We’ve lost everything…and found ourselves.

Music brought Autumn, Shay, and Logan together. Death might pull them apart.

Autumn always knew exactly who she was: a talented artist and a loyal friend. Shay was defined by two things: her bond with her twin sister, Sasha, and her love of music. And Logan has always turned to writing love songs when his real love life was a little less than perfect.

But when tragedy strikes each of them, somehow music is no longer enough. Now Logan is a guy who can’t stop watching vlogs of his dead ex-boyfriend. Shay is a music blogger who’s struggling to keep it together. And Autumn sends messages that she knows can never be answered.

Despite the odds, one band’s music will reunite them and prove that after grief, beauty thrives in the people left behind.