Ten Books On My Spring To-Be-Read List

Top Ten Tuesday is a regular feature on Pop! Goes The Reader in which I count down my top ten choices on a particular theme. This weekly event is hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl.

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic is: Ten Books On My Spring To-Be-Read List.

I’m notoriously awful at sticking to a to-be-read list. While I absolutely love creating them, I’m very much a mood reader, so unless I’ve made a firm commitment to read a book for a blog tour or other kind of promotional post, I tend to choose which book to read next based on what I’m most in the mood for in the moment. Despite this, I haven’t had the most auspicious start in regard to reading in 2019, having struggled with pneumonia at the beginning of the year and then a subsequent reading slump, so I thought a little organization and a clear place to begin might help me moving forward. Publishers and authors have been kind enough to share advance reader copies with me of the ten books on today’s list, and I’m sincerely excited to read each and every one. While I love reading realistic and contemporary fiction year-round, it always feels particularly appropriate in the spring and summer seasons, and I can’t wait to get started!

Today’s selection of books have been listed in no particular order.

Publication Date April 30 2019 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books For Young Readers
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Elouise (Lou) Parker is determined to have the absolute best, most impossibly epic summer of her life. There are just a few things standing in her way:

● She’s landed a job at Magic Castle Playland…as a giant dancing hot dog.
● Her crush, the dreamy Diving Pirate Nick, already has a girlfriend, who is literally the Princess of the park. But Lou’s never liked anyone, guy or otherwise, this much before, and now she wants a chance at her own happily ever after.
● Her best friend, Seeley, the carousel operator, who’s always been up for anything, suddenly isn’t when it comes to Lou’s quest to set her up with the perfect girl or Lou’s scheme to get close to Nick.
● And it turns out that this will be their last summer at Magic Castle Playland – ever – unless she can find a way to stop it from closing.

Jennifer Dugan’s sparkling debut coming-of-age queer romance stars a princess, a pirate, a hot dog, and a carousel operator who find love – and themselves – in unexpected people and unforgettable places.




Publication Date June 11 2019 by Berkley
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Lush and visual, chock-full of delicious recipes, Roselle Lim’s magical debut novel is about food, heritage, and finding family in the most unexpected places.

At the news of her mother’s death, Natalie Tan returns home. The two women hadn’t spoken since Natalie left in anger seven years ago, when her mother refused to support her chosen career as a chef. Natalie is shocked to discover the vibrant neighborhood of San Francisco’s Chinatown that she remembers from her childhood is fading, with businesses failing and families moving out. She’s even more surprised to learn she has inherited her grandmother’s restaurant.

The neighborhood seer reads the restaurant’s fortune in the leaves: Natalie must cook three recipes from her grandmother’s cookbook to aid her struggling neighbors before the restaurant will succeed. Unfortunately, Natalie has no desire to help them try to turn things around—she resents the local shopkeepers for leaving her alone to take care of her agoraphobic mother when she was growing up. But with the support of a surprising new friend and a budding romance, Natalie starts to realize that maybe her neighbors really have been there for her all along.




Publication Date March 5 2019 by Balzer + Bray
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Part whip-smart suspense tale, part touching story of friendship, this is an extraordinary debut about a determined teen trying to solve a mystery no one else believes in.

After Zan’s best friend moves to California, she is baffled and crushed when Priya suddenly ghosts. Worse, Priya’s social media has turned into a stream of ungrammatical posts chronicling a sunny, vapid new life that doesn’t sound like her at all.

Everyone tells Zan not to be an idiot: Let Priya do her reinvention thing and move on. But until Zan hears Priya say it, she won’t be able to admit that their friendship is finished.

It’s only when she meets Logan, the compelling new guy in Spanish class, that Zan begins to open up about her sadness, her insecurity, her sense of total betrayal. And he’s just as willing as she is to throw himself into the investigation when everyone else thinks her suspicions are crazy.

Then a clue hidden in Priya’s latest selfie introduces a new, deeply disturbing possibility:

Maybe Priya isn’t just not answering Zan’s emails.

Maybe she can’t.




Publication Date May 14 2019 by Amulet Books
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As everyone at her Brooklyn high school announces their summer adventures, Olivia harbors a dirty secret: Her plan is to binge-watch horror movies and chat with her online friend, Elm. Olivia and Elm have never shared personal details, apart from their ages and the fact that Elm’s aunt is a low-budget horror filmmaker. Then Elm pushes Olivia to share her identity and sends her a selfie of his own. Olivia is shocked by how cute he is! In a moment of panic, assuming she and Elm will never meet in real life, she sends a photo of her gorgeous friend Katie. But things are about to get even more complicated when Olivia’s parents send her to the Catskills, and she runs into the one person she never thought she would see. This sweet and funny summertime romance is perfect for fans of Love and Gelato and The Unexpected Everything.




Publication Date April 23 2019 by Viking Books For Young Readers
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Mean Girls meets The Taming of the Shrew in this romantic follow-up to Always Never Yours.

Cameron Bright’s reputation can be summed up in one word: b*tch. It’s no surprise she’s queen bee at her private L.A. high school – she’s beautiful, talented, and notorious for her brutal honesty. But when she slips up in front of her crush, Andrew, any affection he may have had for her quickly fades. To win him over, Cameron resolves to “tame” herself, much like Shakespeare’s infamous shrew, Katherine. If she makes amends with everyone she’s ever wronged, Andrew will have to take notice. Thus, Cameron begins her apology tour with Brendan, the guy whose social life she single-handedly destroyed. At first, Brendan isn’t so quick to forgive, but slowly he warms to her when they connect over a computer game he’s developing. To Cameron’s amazement, she actually enjoys hanging out with Brendan; he appreciates her honesty in a way Andrew never did, and she’s left wondering: maybe you shouldn’t have to compromise who you are for the kind of love you deserve.




Publication Date June 4 2019 by HarperTeen
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Perfect for fans of Sarah Mlynowski and Jenny Han, this heartfelt and humorous contemporary take on Sense and Sensibility follows two sisters — complete opposites — who discover the secrets they’ve been keeping make them more alike than they’d realized.

For siblings as different as Plum and Ginny, getting on each other’s nerves is par for the course. But when the family’s finances hit a snag, sending chaos through the house in a way only characters from a Jane Austen novel could understand, a distance grows between them like never before.

Plum, a self-described social outcast, finally has something in her life that doesn’t revolve around her dramatic older sister. But what if coming into her own means Plum isn’t there for Ginny when she, struggling with a hard secret of her own, needs her most?




Publication Date June 11 2019 by Feiwel & Friends
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Sana Khan is a cheerleader and a straight A student. She’s the classic (somewhat obnoxious) overachiever determined to win.

Rachel Recht is a wannabe director who’s obsesssed with movies and ready to make her own masterpiece. As she’s casting her senior film project, she knows she’s found the perfect lead – Sana.

There’s only one problem. Rachel hates Sana. Rachel was the first girl Sana ever asked out, but Rachel thought it was a cruel prank and has detested Sana ever since.

Told in alternative viewpoints and inspired by classic romantic comedies, this engaging and edgy YA novel follows two strongwilled young women falling for each other despite themselves.




Publication Date April 2 2019 by Wednesday Books
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Annie Mathers is America’s sweetheart and heir to a country music legacy full of all the things her Gran warned her about. Superstar Clay Coolidge is most definitely going to end up one of those things.

But unfortunately for Clay, if he can’t convince Annie to join his summer tour, his music label is going to drop him. That’s what happens when your bad boy image turns into bad boy reality. Annie has been avoiding the spotlight after her parents’ tragic death, except on her skyrocketing YouTube channel. Clay’s label wants to land Annie, and Clay has to make it happen.

Swayed by Clay’s undeniable charm and good looks, Annie and her band agree to join the tour. From the start fans want them to be more than just tour mates, and Annie and Clay can’t help but wonder if the fans are right. But if there’s one part of fame Annie wants nothing to do with, it’s a high-profile relationship. She had a front row seat to her parents’ volatile marriage and isn’t interested in repeating history. If only she could convince her heart that Clay, with his painful past and head over heels inducing tenor, isn’t worth the risk.

Erin Hahn’s thrilling debut, You’d Be Mine, asks: can the right song and the perfect summer on the road make two broken hearts whole?




Publication Date April 23 2019 by EverAfter Romance
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Falling for your surly boss is a rotten idea.
Letting him saw you in half is even worse…

Beatrice Baker may be a struggling artist, but she believes all hardships have silver linings…until she follows her boyfriend to New Orleans and finds him with another woman. Instead of turning those lemons into lemonade, she drinks lemon drop martinis and keys the wrong man’s car.

Now she works for Huxley Marlow of the Marvelous Marlow Boys, getting shoved in boxes as an on-stage magician’s assistant. A cool job for some, but Bea’s been coerced into the role to cover her debt. She also maybe fantasizes about her boss’s adept hands and what else they can do.

She absolutely will not fall for him, or kiss him senseless. Until she does. The scarred, enigmatic Huxley has unwittingly become her muse, unlocking her artistic dry spell, but his vague nightly activities are highly suspect. The last time Beatrice trusted a man, her bank account got drained and she almost got arrested. Surely this can’t end that badly…right?




Publication Date February 26 2019 by Penguin Teen
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Susan dreams of being an artist. Malcolm wants to move him and his sister out of a bad living situation. Sparks fly when the two teens meet at a fundraiser for Syrian refugees. A Canadian YA romance for fans of The Sun Is Also A Star.

Susan is the new girl – she’s sharp and driven, and strives to meet her parents’ expectations of excellence. Malcolm is the bad boy – he started raising hell at age fifteen, after his mom died of cancer, and has had a reputation ever since.

Susan hasn’t told anyone, but she wants to be an artist. Malcolm doesn’t know what he wants – until he meets her.

Love is messy and families are messier, but in spite of their burdens, Susan and Malcolm fall for each other. The ways they drift apart and come back together are testaments to family, culture, and being true to who you are.

Now it’s YOUR turn! Which books are you looking forward to reading this spring? Let me know in the comments – I would love to hear from you!

Do! Judge A Book By Its Cover Issue 104: Middle Grade (Part 29)

Do! Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature on Pop! Goes The Reader in which I pay tribute to some of the best and brightest the publishing world has to offer in the way of book cover design. This feature is inspired by Katie’s feature Cover Love on her blog One Page At A Time. The idea is being used with her gracious permission.

Please Note: I’ve done my best to credit the designers and artists responsible for the beautiful covers below, but was unable to find this information for a number of those listed. If you know of an uncredited designer responsible for any of these book covers, please let me know and I would be happy to include proper attribution in this post. Their work is lovely and deserves to be credited.

01. Mostly The Honest Truth by Jody J. Little (Cover design by Jenna Stempel-Lobell, Cover art by Abigail Dela Cruz)
02. Walking With Miss Millie by Tamara Bundy

03. Saving Fable by Scott Reintgen (Cover art by Maike Plenzke)
04. The Secret of Zoone by Lee Edward Fodi (Cover art by Evan Monteiro)

05. Tangled in Time: The Burning Queen by Kathryn Lasky
06. Dear Sweet Pea by Julie Murphy (Cover design by Jenna Stempel-Lobell, Cover art by Levy (@LevysFriends))

07. March Forward, Girl: From Young Warrior To Little Rock Nine by Melba Pattillo Beals
08. The Trouble With Perfect by Helena Duggan (Cover design by Katharine Millichope, Cover art by Karl James Mountford)

09. The Twelve by Cindy Lin (Cover design by Molly Fehr, Cover art by Sher Rill Ng)
10. Kat Wolfe Takes The Case by Lauren St John

11. The Hunt For The Mad Wolf’s Daughter by Diane Magras (Cover design by Maggie Edkins, Cover art by Antonio Javier Caparo)
12. The Dragon Warrior by Katie Zhao (Cover art by Vivienne To)

13. The Fire Keeper by J.C. Cervantes (Cover art by Irvin Rodriguez)
14. Orange For The Sunsets by Tina Athaide (Cover design by Laura Eckes, Cover art by Olivia Duchess)

15. Race To The Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse (Cover art by Dale Ray DeForest)
16. The Great Shelby Holmes and The Haunted Hound by Elizabeth Eulberg

17. Revenge Of The Red Club by Kim Harrington (Cover design by Tiara Iandiorio)
18. Scary Stories For Young Foxes by Christian McKay Heidicker (Cover design by Carol Ly, Cover art by Junyi Wu)

Now it’s your turn! What are some of your favourite Middle Grade covers? Did I list one of your favourites here or is there one I forgot that just has to be included? Let me know in the comments!

Between The Lines with Sara Biren

Between The Lines is a sporadic feature on Pop! Goes The Reader in which authors and other industry professionals provide further insight into the writing and publishing process in the form of interviews, guest posts, etc. So, sit back, relax, and enjoy as we read between the lines.


About Sara Biren

Sara Biren lives just outside of Minneapolis, Minnesota, with her husband and their two children. A true Minnesotan, she is a fan of hockey, hotdish, and hanging out at the lake. She enjoys seeing live bands, watching movies with her family, and drinking coffee. Her love of cheese knows no bounds.

Sara is a graduate of the University of Minnesota, Duluth, on the shores of beautiful Lake Superior, and earned an MFA in Creative Writing from Minnesota State University, Mankato. She works as a copywriter for a Minneapolis marketing firm and as a freelance editor with SP Critique and Editing Services.

Author Links: WebsiteTwitterInstagramFacebookGoodreads

Every story I’ve ever written has started with a character, and Cold Day In The Sun is no exception. I first pictured Holland Delviss as a snarky high school junior with striped hair and a suitcase covered with heavy metal bumper stickers. In that scene, she steps off an airplane in Orlando for a much-needed vacation only to unexpectedly find her best worst enemy, Wes Millard, waiting for her at baggage claim.

Cold Day In The Sun still features a snarky high school junior with striped hair named Holland Delviss – and her best worst enemy, Wes Millard – but the first story I wrote about them and their spring break shenanigans no longer exists. What you’ll find instead is a story about a girl determined to not only find her place in the world, but to own that place despite the pressures and expectations of society.

Holland has played hockey with her brothers and on boys’ teams since she could skate. While that’s not unusual in Minnesota, she sticks with the boys and makes the boys’ varsity team, even though she could play for the girls’ team. Most people around her are supportive, but many aren’t.

Like Holland, hockey has been a part of my life since I was very young. Growing up, I spent many hours on the outdoor rink at my hometown’s Triangle Park, both figure skating and playing hockey (in figure skates). Back then, there were no girls’ hockey teams. Even though skating was one of my favorite activities, I’m not exactly athletically gifted, so participating in any organized sports was not going to happen.

But I loved hockey more than any other sport. I loved watching my nephews play and going to Minnesota North Stars and U of M Golden Gophers games. Sophomore and junior years of high school, I volunteered to be the student manager for the (boys’) junior varsity team. Let me tell you, that was one of the highlights of my high school career. I made some lifelong friends (see Cold Day acknowledgments), learned new, colorful profanities, and even got a black eye from a stick to the face during a fight in front of the bench.

So, when the time came to write a book about a Minnesota girl in winter, the choice was obvious: Holland would play hockey. And she would be good at it, better than her brothers.

And that was going to cause problems for her.

Put a woman in a “man’s role,” and people are going to get pissy.

When I was a little girl, I had a T-shirt with a cartoon Annie Oakley on it that said, “Anything boys can do girls can do better,” and I had the attitude and grit to go along with it. Tell me I can’t climb that tree because I’m a girl? Let’s see how high I can go. I can’t play hockey because I don’t have the right skates? Pass me the puck.

Holland’s got grit, too. She gets a lot of attention because she’s the girl on the boys’ hockey team, but she’d rather be known for being a kickass player, period. She’s confident and strong, yes, but at the same time, she’s vulnerable – and worried that she could lose her hard-earned spot on the team. Especially if she acts on her feelings for Wes, the team captain. She’s successful, but her insecurities and anxiety cast a shadow on her accomplishments, and she for sure doesn’t want to be accused of “sleeping her way to the top.”

While Holland was a fun character to write (witty banter, glam-metal song battles, Foo Fighters obsession), telling her story wasn’t always easy. While most of the sexism she encounters is your typical, day-to-day misogyny (which shouldn’t be a thing in 2019), other incidents are more extreme. I was inspired (and infuriated) by the story of Kaitlyn Byers, the only woman on a Canadian minor league hockey team, who in 2016 was threatened with rape during a game and experienced many other instances of harassment that included physical injury.

Kaitlyn’s story and the those of other female athletes and – let’s be honest – my wonderful editor’s encouragement and urging to “do better” (like Wes tells Holland) motivated me to dig deeper and tell the difficult, raw story. A story that, unfortunately, will hit close to home for a lot of readers.

I’ve brought a lot of characters to life over the years, but Holland will always hold a special place in my heart. Like me, she’s snarky and stubborn and determined. Like me, she deals with anxiety and self-doubt and pressure to succeed – self-imposed or otherwise. I even gave Holland the motto I adopted for myself years ago – keep moving forward. No matter what the game of life throws your way, you just gotta keep moving and checking and you’ll get clear.

Title Cold Day In The Sun
Author Sara Biren
Pages 320 Pages
Intended Target Audience Young Adult
Genre & Keywords Contemporary, Realistic Fiction, Romance
Publication Date March 12th 2019 by Amulet Books
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Holland Delviss wants to be known for her talent as a hockey player, not a hockey player who happens to be a girl. But when her school team is selected to be featured and televised as part of HockeyFest, her status as the only girl on the boys’ team makes her the lead story. Not everyone is thrilled with Holland’s new fame, but there’s one person who fiercely supports her, and it’s the last person she expects (and definitely the last person she should be falling for): her bossy team captain, Wes.

New Kids On The Block 2019 with Sarah Carlson

New Kids On The Block is a year-long series on Pop! Goes The Reader meant to welcome and celebrate new voices and debut authors in the literary community.

Are you a debut author whose book is being published in 2019? It’s not too late to sign-up! If you want to participate in New Kids On The Block this year, please don’t hesitate to get in touch! You can send a tweet or DM on Twitter to @Pop_Reader or email me at Jen@PopGoesTheReader.com. I would love to collaborate with you!


About Sarah Carlson

Sarah is a YA author focused on exploring contemporary issues facing youth today. Her debut novel, All the Walls of Belfast, will be released on March 12th, 2019 (Turner Publishing Company).

Author Links: WebsiteTwitterInstagramFacebookGoodreads






Sins of the Father: Exploring How Our Parents’ Choices Shape Our Lives

Danny and Fiona were born in the same hospital in Belfast, Northern Ireland, but, more than a decade after the Troubles officially ended, a forty-foot peace wall still separates their families’ Protestant and Catholic neighborhoods.

My debut novel All the Walls of Belfast, set in post-Troubles Belfast, Northern Ireland, centers around two teens grappling with the fallout of their parents’ pasts as they strive to define their own futures. But one ugly truth, not the peace wall between their neighborhoods, might tear them apart.

One of the core themes of All the Walls of Belfast revolves around the legacy of trauma being passed down to the next generation. I wanted to take a second to explore how the aftermath of their parents’ choices, and the armed conflict they engaged during the Troubles, have fundamentally shaped both Danny and Fiona’s lives.

The Troubles lasted from 1968 until 1998. Over 3600 people were killed and many more were injured. It began during the Civil Rights Movement in the United States, after attempts at peaceful protest demanding equal rights for Catholics (“one man, one vote,” protection from job discrimination, access to equal resources such as quality housing) were met with violence on behalf of the British government and the mostly Protestant police force. At first, most of the violence on the Catholic side was in defense of their neighborhoods, which were under siege following the unrest. From there, the Provisional Irish Republican Army launched an armed campaign to force concessions around civil rights and to get a united Ireland. Protestant Loyalist paramilitaries took up arms out of fears of a united Ireland.

The Troubles was not about religious beliefs. It was about history and ethnic/cultural identity. In the early 1600s, the King of England used Protestant Scottish and English people loyal to the Crown to colonize what is now Northern Ireland (the Plantation of Ulster). He gave them lands belonging to local Irish Catholics resisting the Crown. Boiled down simply and speaking generally, Protestants see themselves as British and Loyalist or Unionist and wish for Northern Ireland to stay in the United Kingdom. Catholics see themselves as Irish and Republican (no affiliation to American Republicans) or Nationalist and are more likely to want a united Ireland free of British rule. In Northern Ireland today, the main political parties are still Unionist (Protestant affiliated) or Republican (Catholic affiliated).

The legacy of the Troubles still lingers, particularly in working class neighborhoods like the Falls (Catholic/Republican/Nationalist) and the Shankill (Protestant/Loyalist/Unionist). Twenty years after the Troubles ended, the vast majority of Northern Ireland has moved on. But there are still dozens of peace walls dividing Catholic and Protestant areas. During my times in Northern Ireland, I asked people if the walls should come down. The answer from those living around them was pretty much always no. Because they were still afraid of them.

All the Walls of Belfast is set in 2012, so Danny and Fiona were small children when the Troubles officially ended with the signing of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998. Fiona didn’t even live in Belfast at this point. So neither of them can really even remember the Troubles. But their fathers were both heavily involved in the armed conflict. Danny’s father was in the Ulster Volunteer Force, a Protestant paramilitary. Fiona’s father was in the Provisional Irish Republican Army, the Catholic paramilitary. Both of their families were torn apart by the violence, caused by their fathers and victims of coincidence. Neither Danny nor Fiona can remember the Troubles, but it has drastically shaped their lives.

Danny and Fiona were born in the same hospital in Belfast, but the choices of their parents led to very different lives.

Danny is well aware of his father’s involvement, and his father and community’s worldview has drastically shaped his own. Danny’s father is still involved in a Protestant paramilitary called the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) and pressures Danny to follow in his footsteps, run guns, forcibly collect protection money from local businesses, and sell drugs under the guise of protecting his Protestant culture. Danny takes pride in his Protestant culture and proudly takes part in activities that can be considered sectarian, like marching in flute band parades and building bonfires to celebrate the Twelfth of July, which celebrates the victory of Protestant King William of Orange over deposed Catholic King James II in 1690. At the same time, he wants more from life. He wants to make his deceased mother proud by saving lives.

The working class neighborhood Danny has grown up in is religiously segregated. Danny’s never talked to anyone from the Falls. Or really a Catholic. As of 2015, only 7% of children in Northern Ireland attended religiously integrated schools. The vast majority of Catholic and Protestant children don’t even go to school together. Government agencies track school achievement data by religion like we track by race in the United States. He refers to Catholics as Taigs, which is a derogatory word, but has no idea why he even calls them that. It’s just what his dad does. In the book as Danny’s working to define who he’s going to be, he’s starting to re-write his worldview and ingrained prejudice. 

In Fiona’s case,  her parents choices lead to her family being severed in half. Her mother fled with her to Wisconsin when she was two, and her father and half-brothers remained in Belfast. There had been no contact for fifteen years until her father finally finds her. Fiona discovers her mom hid her from a father desperate to be in her life. After Fiona flies to Belfast to be reunited with the family she doesn’t remember, she walks into the aftermath oblivious both to the lingering impact on her father and half-brothers, and the forty-foot peace wall separating her father’s Catholic neighborhood, the Falls, from the Protestant neighborhood a few feet away, the Shankill, where Danny’s from. It was her father’s choices and political beliefs that lead to their family being torn apart in All the Walls of Belfast. Fiona also learns the truth of her father and mother’s pasts.

All the Walls of Belfast, in part, is about reconciliation and defining your own future apart from the legacies of your parents’ pasts. In Danny’s case, it’s fighting to free himself from the burden of the past and create a define his own identity free of his family’s sectarian paramilitary involvement. In Fiona’s case, it’s grappling with who her father is — a freedom fighter or a terrorist? — and if his past must define their future as a family.

Both Danny and Fiona’s lives and their identities were drastically shaped by the choices their families made before they were born. Both are left wondering what their lives would have been had they been born somewhere else, but both draw strength from either their families or their community.

Title All the Walls of Belfast
Author Sarah Carlson
Pages 272 Pages
Intended Target Audience Young Adult
Genre Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
Publication Date March 12th 2019 by Turner
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The Carnival At Bray meets West Side Story in Sarah Carlson’s powerful YA debut; set in post-conflict Belfast (Northern Ireland), alternating between two teenagers, both trying to understand their past and preserve their future. Seventeen-year-olds, Fiona and Danny must choose between their dreams and the people they aspire to be.

Fiona and Danny were born in the same hospital. Fiona’s mom fled with her to the United States when she was two, but, fourteen years after the Troubles ended, a forty-foot-tall peace wall still separates her dad’s Catholic neighborhood from Danny’s Protestant neighborhood.

After chance brings Fiona and Danny together, their love of the band Fading Stars, big dreams, and desire to run away from their families unites them. Danny and Fiona must help one another overcome the burden of their parents’ pasts. But one ugly truth might shatter what they have…

Cover Reveal: The Inside Battle by Melanie Sumrow


About Melanie Sumrow

Melanie Sumrow received her undergraduate degree in religious studies and has maintained a longtime interest in studying social issues. Before becoming a writer, she worked as a lawyer for more than sixteen years, with many of her cases involving children and teens. Her first novel, The Prophet Calls, was published in November 2018.

Author Links: WebsiteTwitterInstagramFacebookGoodreads


Two major issues inspired me to write The Inside Battle: (1) certain groups trying to normalize racism in the United States and (2) our country’s ongoing disservice to veterans who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). As I researched and wrote this book, I was reminded that opportunities exist to speak up and call out those who aren’t using their privilege for the betterment of humanity as a whole.

My hope is that this book inspires people to speak up for what is right, even when it is hard, and encourage others to do the same. Children need to know their voices matter, including the voices of people who aren’t like them. Adults should listen to these young people. Their wisdom and integrity are both refreshing and necessary.

The cover for The Inside Battle was a true collaboration between the artist, the designer, my editor and me. I think it perfectly captures the battle between a boy and his father, the actual battle surrounding them and the quieter, and arguably more destructive battle happening inside them. I hope you love it as much as I do!


Cover design by David DeWitt, Cover art by Daniel Zender

Title The Inside Battle
Author Melanie Sumrow
Intended Target Audience Middle Grade (Ages 12 and up)
Publication Date November 5 2019 by Yellow Jacket
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Thirteen-year-old Rebel Mercer lives in west Texas with his dad, Nathan, and his aunt Birdie. His dad is finally home after serving in the military, and Rebel longs for his approval. But something isn’t right. His dad has PTSD, and lately he has been spending his time communicating with a racist, anti-government militia group called the Flag Bearers. Rebel doesn’t agree with his dad’s newfound ideas, but he turns a blind a eye to them. So when his best friend Ajeet beats Rebel at a robotics tournament by using one of Rebel’s pieces, Rebel begins to wonder if there’s some truth to what his dad has been saying, and he lashes out at Ajeet.

Expelled from school, Rebel’s dad takes him to the mountains of Oklahoma, where they meet up with the Flag Bearers. Soon his dad is engulfed in the group and its activities, and they’re becoming more and more dangerous. When Rebel gets wind of a planned attack on an African American church, he knows that this group has gone too far and innocent people could get hurt. Can Rebel find his voice and stop the Flag Bearers from carrying out their plans before it’s too late?

The Inside Battle is a gripping story of family, bravery, and speaking up for what’s right from author Melanie Sumrow.