Tag Archives: amber lough

New Releases – July 2015

Under the Lights by Dahlia Adler (Spencer Hill Press)

Book Description: Young actor Josh Chester has never been sure that acting is for him–he’s mostly interested in the parties and the hot Hollywood girls that come with the job. But he ends up taking a job on the hit TV series Daylight Falls, opposite Vanessa Park, a girl who is immune to his charms and also his polar opposite. Vanessa loves her job, despite her parents’ disapproval. She’s pretty certain about everything in her life, until she meets her new career handler, a gorgeous girl named Bri. Then things start to get a little confusing.

Under the Lights features an adorable romance between two young women, all set against the backdrop of Hollywood. As Vanessa confronts her emerging feelings for her handler, Bri, her co-star Josh confronts his realization that the Hollywood scene might not really be his cup of tea. Under the Lights is a story of self-discovery: learning that the person you always thought you were might not actually be the case anymore.

You and Me and Him by Kris Dinnison (HMH Books for Young Readers)

“By junior year Maggie is resigned to being the overweight girl who will never be an A-lister. But she doesn’t dwell on it … and she has a great job at a record store. She also has a faithful best friend in Nash, who shares her taste in “teachers, music, art, literature, and boys.” Conflicts emerge when “new guy” Tom enters the scene, making Maggie’s and Nash’s hearts flutter. … In this compassionate first novel, Dinnison adeptly portrays the rising and falling hopes within an unconventional love triangle.” — Publishers Weekly

Adrift by Paul Griffin (Scholastic)

“In a terrifying survival story in which past traumas are as visceral and intense as present circumstances, five teenagers try to stay alive after becoming lost off the Atlantic coast. Raised in a blue-collar neighborhood in Queens, friends Matt and John are working in Montauk, N.Y., for the summer when they meet 17-year-old Driana Gonzaga, her Brazilian cousin Estefania, and Estefania’s boyfriend, João. … Profound moments … will haunt readers as much as the lethal injuries, worsening weather, class friction, and psychological instability the teenagers face.” — Publishers Weekly, starred review

Paperweight by Meg Haston (HarperTeen)

“This realistic tale opens as Stephanie (Stevie) arrives at a 60-day residential treatment facility for eating disorder, located in rural New Mexico. … Despite her flaws, it is hard not to feel for Stevie. A carefully constructed buildup still lends to a quick read, which is hard to put down. Haston deals respectfully with the difficult subject matters of eating disorders and focuses on the recovery rather than the disease.” — School Library Journal

Deceptive by Emily Lloyd-Jones (Little, Brown BFYR)

Book Description: You don’t belong with us.

These are the words that echo through the minds of all immune Americans-those suffering the so-called adverse effects of an experimental vaccine, including perfect recall, telepathy, precognition, levitation, mind control, and the ability to change one’s appearance at will.

When great numbers of immune individuals begin to disappear, fear and tension mount, and unrest begins to brew across the country. Through separate channels, superpowered teenagers Ciere, Daniel, and Devon find themselves on the case: super criminals and government agents working side by side. It’s an effort that will ultimately define them all, for better or for worse.

The Blind Wish by Amber Lough (Random House BFYR)

“As in the series opener, Zayele—raised as a human and untrained in using her magic—makes the titular wish and sets certain events in motion. The heart of this story is really twofold: how the sisters and secondary (human) characters Yashar and Rahela begin to find their places in a rapidly changing world; and the action-packed war that ends only in the face of an even bigger threat, ultimately pitting two human-jinn alliances against one another. … Enjoyable, thoughtful, packed with action, consequences, and a few kisses—readers will wish for a third book right away.” — Kirkus

About a Girl by Sarah McCarry (St. Martin’s Griffin)

“The conclusion to the ”Metamorphoses“ trilogy (St. Martin’s) follows Tally to a small town outside of Seattle where she seeks out her maybe-father to learn more about her past and her family. The place feels full of magic and people who intrigue her. Tally has a hard time thinking straight here, and her dreams are filled with vivid and terrifying images of blood. She falls for the mysterious Maddy, a girl who seems to hold the answers to her many questions. … This edgy, smart, and challenging title combines mythology, punk rock, science, a quest, feminism, art, dreams, and the power of stories and storytelling with unforgettable results. The well-developed cast of characters is racially and sexually diverse. The emphasis on the importance of female relationships—as family, as lovers, and as friends—is a welcome exploration of the many levels of intimacy. ” — School Library Journal, starred review

Show and Prove by Sofia Quintero (Knopf Books for Young Readers)

“Academic ambition and hip-hop intersect in the South Bronx, where two friends spend a summer growing up and, unwillingly, apart. Quintero details the summer of 1983, when the teens work what appears to be their final summer together as camp counselors. Raymond ”Smiles“ King is a smart, ambitious black teenager who has recently lost his mom to sickle cell anemia, and Guillermo ”Nike“ Vega is a Nuyorican Casanova and break-dancer who attempts to woo beautiful Sara, a new, mysterious girl in their neighborhood. … The story is powerful and thought-provoking, an homage to a climactic hip-hop era, when friends are caught between aspirations and predetermined social disadvantages. A must-read for fans of Walter Dean Myers’ All the Right Stuff and other lovers of proud urban realism.” — Kirkus

Down by Law by Ni-Ni Simone (Dafina)

Book Description: Lesson #1: You come for me, I come back even harder for you. Fair exchange. No robberies.

Isis Carter got schooled early on in surviving the streets. When some girls put a beatdown on her, she took back what was hers. When her brother was killed and her mom, Queenie, bailed, Isis fought to stay strong. And when her dad abandoned her for his new family, sixteen-year-old Isis buried the hurt by looking out for herself—and hookin’ up with bad boy Fresh…until a run-in with the law shatters Isis’s world and threatens to destroy her future.

Now the only person Isis can rely on is herself…until her secret crush K-Rock steps in. But when Isis lets her guard down, will she be given a second chance to get her life straight or will it cost her everything?

Hollywood Witch Hunter by Valerie Tejeda (Bloomsbury Spark)

Book Description: From the moment she first learned the truth about witches…she knew she was born to fight them. Now, at sixteen, Iris is the lone girl on the Witch Hunters Special Ops Team. But when Iris meets a boy named Arlo, he might just be the key to preventing an evil uprising in Southern California. Together they’re ready to protect the human race at all costs. Because that’s what witch hunters do. Welcome to Hollywood.

Naked by Stacey Trombley (Entangled Teen)

Book Description: When tough teenager Anna ran away to New York, she never knew how bad things would get. After surviving as a prostitute, a terrifying incident leaves her damaged inside and out, and she returns home to the parents she was sure wouldn’t want her anymore.

Now she has a chance to be normal again. Back in school, she meets a boy who seems too good to be true. Cute, kind, trusting. But what will he do when he finds out the truth about her past? And when a dark figure from New York comes looking for Anna, she realizes she must face her secrets…before they destroy her.

(Main character is half Puerto Rican.)

The New Order by Chris Weitz (Little, Brown BFYR)

Book Description: They thought they were the only ones left. They were wrong. After the unexpected revelation at the end of the first book, Donna and Jefferson are separated. Jefferson returns to NYC and tries to bring a cure to the Sickness back to the Washington Square tribe, while Donna finds herself in England, facing an unimaginable new world. Can the two reunite and prevent an even greater disaster than the Sickness? This second book in The Young World trilogy will keep you at the edge of your seat.

The Never Forgotten Regret

By Amber Lough

lough-theblindwishWe all have regrets. Some are small, such as eating that extra slice or two of pie. Some are medium, such as slipping $20 from our parents’ wallet. And some are gargantuan. I don’t need to list those for you, because those are the ones that never leave the echo chamber of your mind. Those are the ones that cycle, fore and back, in your consciousness. Rarely forgiven. Never forgotten.

I wrote The Blind Wish when I was going through a period of my life in which I was making one of those gargantuan mistakes. I will not say what that was, but I will admit that it affected how I wrote and the themes that weighed on me every day when I sat down to write. It filtered into my plotting, into my drafts, and like a virus, worked its way into each building block of that novel—each word.

To say writing that novel was “hard” is like saying that climbing Mt. Everest requires “a bit of extra mountain gear.” I was crackling along the edges and all I wanted was to give up. Give up the book, give up a writing career, give up my friends, family, and give up my life.

I was halfway through writing the first draft when I checked myself into a mental health hospital. And that was before I made my biggest regret. Or was it? Sometimes, when we look back at an awful decision, we wonder: which step was the wrong one? When did I cross that line? Was there a moment when I should have turned another way?

If I had a time machine, when would I go back and make that correction?

And if I did, would I have learned anything?

That’s one of the main themes in The Blind Wish, and it’s there for a reason. In both of my Jinni Wars books, one of the characters is impulsive. She acts before she thinks. She is self-centered. She is the darker part of us built for survival. (Or maybe that’s just me.)

Many reviewers commented on Zayele in The Fire Wish. They dislike her for what she did to Najwa. She’s a fault-filled character, and many readers don’t want to see the world through her lens. But she is real, because people are this way. And it has taken me nearly a lifetime to acknowledge that I am this way—sometimes—but it doesn’t describe all that I am. A person can be self-centered and impulsive, but it does not mean they are only self-centered. When that person’s survival is threatened, she will turn inward. She is the one who survives a desert island at the expense of others—and often realizes her mistake too late.

They say writing your second novel is much more difficult than writing the first. It was true for me for many reasons. I was no longer as naïve about writing careers, I had far less time to write it than the first book, and my own life was teetering on the edge of a cliff.

But I did it. And like Zayele in both of these books, I crawled out of my own self-made destruction. I crawled out by my own two hands (and a bit of help from my friends).

If you do read these books, think about your darker impulses. Think about how you have changed others’ lives with the choices—good, bad, and gray—that you have made. I think about these things every day when I see The Blind Wish’s cover on my phone screen. It’s a reminder of what I did, and how I survived.

And though my regrets are heavy, they make everything that is good shine brighter. They make me who I am, and at the moment, I can accept this. I may not like myself all the time, but I will use that bit of Zayele that I have in me to keep me alive when the days are dark. That part of me is selfish, but it will survive when the softer, kinder part of me—the Najwa part—wants to flee all that is hard and cold.


Amber Lough is the author of The Fire Wish. She is a lover of foreign words and cultures, nearly forgotten folktales, and groups of three. She spent much of her childhood in Japan and Bahrain. Later, she returned to the Middle East as an air force intelligence officer, deployed for eight months in Bagdhad. She lives in Germany with her scientist husband and two impish children. For a pronunciation guide, a cast of characters, and more, please visit www.amberlough.com. Follow Amber on Twitter at @amberlough.

The Blind Wish is available for purchase.

Jump In, or Die

By Amber Lough

lough-thefirewishWhy is this white, straight, cisgendered girl writing for Diversity in YA? Well, besides the obvious being that I bribed Cindy Pon with copious amounts of azuki-bean dumplings, it’s probably because I wrote The Fire Wish, a distinctly Middle East-focused Fantasy.

I’d say it all goes back to when I was the first foreigner in my school in Japan, English-speaking and wide-eyed with awe and fear. I chose to go to the school because I was obsessed with Indiana Jones, and he always took the route that taught him a new language. He wanted to understand—and be a part of—each place he visited. Now, he stuck out like a sore thumb most of the time, but he did learn to respect the people he visited without romanticizing them.

That’s what I try to do, always.

My sister and me, on the right, in the geekiest Indiana Jones moment of my life.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Going to Japanese 4th grade sucked. At least, it did the first 6 months. I didn’t know the language, I was either a celebrity or a pariah, and I went from feeling pretty smart to feeling really, really stupid.

Also they made us wear these gym uniforms that exposed both my thighs and my self-consciousness. Need I say more?

Fast-forward a few years, and I was part of the school. I could speak with the kids about most things, I was passing my tests (sort of), and on good days I could pretend I was just one of the Japanese kids. I say pretend because they never let me forget who I was. They never stopped pointing it out. But we were 12. Things were mostly good.

Right then, we moved to Bahrain. I was thrust into an American-style middle school in the middle of 7th grade, in the Middle East, about one month after Aladdin came out. (Yeah that’s a lot of Middles.)

I was shocked. Shocked, I tell you! Kids were dating. And all they talked about were bands. And they passed notes in class. Also, I wasn’t able to take Arabic, which smashed my Indiana Jones dream into little bits. It took me a week to realize I had to act just like them or be excluded in all things. (Exclusion in middle school = death, just so you know.)

And that’s pretty much the root of why I wrote The Fire Wish: sometimes, we show up in a strange place, and we have to jump in with both feet or die. (With a strong undertone of “beneath the trappings of society, skin, and superstition, we all have the same fears and feelings.”)

In The Fire Wish, my two main characters trade places and must pretend to be the other one. It’s not an easy thing to do when you’ve been given no choice in the matter and failing will bring you much pain or death.

I feel very comfortable in the Middle East, and recently I’ve heard so many people naively talk about Arabs as though they are a “thing,” lumping them into one huge collective society, like they’re some sort of regional Borg. I wanted to show people that, despite what the news or their neighbor says, the Middle East is not merely a bunch of religious zealots, harems, and camels. First off, the topography is as diverse in Iraq (just to pick one country) as much of Europe. There are deserts, rivers, marshes, mountains, and fields. Second, the people are not all Muslim (and FYI, not all Muslims are Arab). Third, the people are people.

I also wrote The Fire Wish because I believe in magic and fun and am not afraid to say so.

Amber Lough lives with her husband, their two kids, and their cat, Popcorn, in Syracuse, NY. She spent much of her childhood in Japan and Bahrain. Later, she returned to the Middle East as an Air Force intelligence officer to spend eight months in Baghdad, where the ancient sands still echo the voices lost to wind and time. For a pronunciation guide, a cast of characters, and more, please  visit www.amberlough.com. Follow Amber on Twitter at @amberlough.