Jennifer Pickrell

YA Writer


June 2016 SummySeries Reading Wrap-up

Covers from Goodreads, click on the titles for more info.


MG novel that follows protagonist, Nell, as she searches for clues about the lost colony of Roanoke.

Summer Lost and FoundI loved all the details, both about the past and the present. It seriously felt like I was exploring North Carolina with Nell because Rebecca created such a vivid picture of the small community. And the descriptions of the humidity? SPOT ON. I’m in Virginia, I know that soupy misery.

When a book makes history fun, that’s a big thumbs up.


JUST LISTEN by Sarah Dessen

YA contemporary about a girl dealing with family drama and being dropped by her best friend.

This one is up there with THE TRUTH ABOUT FOREVER for me. Annabel was relatable and her family life was realistic. Is there anyone who writes about sisterly bonds better than Sarah Dessen??? Plus Owen. Infuriating music snob, Owen. Somehow I liked him anyway, so kudos to the author.

THE LAST STAR by Rick Yancey

The final book in the YA sci-fi 5TH WAVE trilogy.

I hate to ever say this, but: I didn’t like this book

There were multiple POVs, mostly in first person, and the similarity of voices made the whole story confusing and disjointed. Plus the purple prose, especially during a couple of cringe-worthy Cassie passages.

And I know this is a plot driven book, but the characters just kinda fell flat. Even the ending felt anti-climactic and it shouldn’t have because this is, in theory, an exciting book.

Great potential, but it just didn’t deliver for me.

THE RAVEN KING by Maggie Stiefvater

The fourth and final book in the RAVEN CYCLE. Fantasy? Paranormal? I have no idea how to classify this unique series.

I know I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again – I love being immersed in the world of these books. The magic, the nature…the Ronan.

Ronan, ferocious and loyal and fragile. (p. 263)


But, really, I adored all the main characters, even Adam, who had to grow on me.

This book was a satisfying conclusion to a magical series.

I’ll never look at trees the same way again.

Under a Painted Sky coverUNDER A PAINTED SKY by Stacey Lee

YA historical fiction, set in 1849, about a Chinese girl and a runaway slave who disguise themselves as boys to escape pursuing lawmen.

This book pulled me in completely. I picked it up one evening, thinking I’d read a few chapters before bed, and before I knew it, I was halfway through and had to make myself put it down so I could sleep.

Then I read it during breakfast the next morning and finished it at lunch because I HAD to know how Sammy and Andy’s journey turned out.

Now I’m sad because the book has ended, but I’ll try to console myself with Lee’s next book, OUTRUN THE MOON, which I need to read ASAP. And she has another book coming out in December!


LOVE STORY by Jennifer Echols

Girl writes about dream guy for her college creative writing assignment, he joins the class, writes his own steamy stories about her.

I thought this would be a sexy, swoony read, but 95% of the book was misunderstandings that could have been solved by simple conversations and I didn’t get my swoon 😦

Out of Darkness coverOUT OF DARKNESS by Ashley Hope Pérez

From Goodreads, which sums it up beautifully: Ashley Hope Pérez takes the facts of the 1937 New London school explosion—the worst school disaster in American history—as a backdrop for a riveting novel about segregation, love, family, and the forces that destroy people.

This book…

How do I even put my thoughts into words? Beautifully written, painful, real.

Naomi and her twin brother and sister. Their relationship was love. I wanted to put them, and Wash and his family, into a protective bubble and keep them safe forever.

Other characters (no names, as to not spoil anything) made me want to vomit, to scrub my skin off.

The cover is perfection.

The story is haunting.

It’s important.

Read this book.


SummySeries 2016!

It’s going to be about 90 degrees in my corner of Virginia today + this weekend marks the unofficial start of summer, which means:


For those of you who don’t know, SummySeries is a thing I do every summer where I read a bunch of books to avoid going outside into the miserable humidity. It began in 2010 when I hid inside with Harry Potter. In 2011, it was Anne Shirley. Other years, I caught up on half-read series or picked up whatever caught my eye in the library.

Summer Lost and FoundThis year I’m aiming for a little bit of everything and I’ve started SummySeries off in awesome fashion with SUMMER OF LOST AND FOUND by Rebecca Behrens. I am loving this MG mystery so far.

Next up is probably JUST LISTEN by Sarah Dessen. Last summer I had a random side goal to read all her books and I kinda fell off that, so this summer I’m continuing my quest in a more realistic manner by reading only one or two instead of ALL RIGHT NOW.

I plan on writing monthly wrap-ups with mini reviews. In the meantime, let’s get this SummySeries started!


Currently – the 1990s edition

This week, I’m joining Katy Upperman and some other awesome people and posting CURRENTLY.


Sharing the 1990s with my teenage brother. I dug out a few VHS tapes of ‘outtakes’ from my sophomore year, when I wrote, directed and starred in my first and only movie: DEAR DIARY.

Sadly (or thankfully), the movie is warped beyond watching, so we settled on ‘behind-the-scenes’ that mostly consisted of me and my friends flubbing lines and laughing hysterically.

My bro was most impressed by the fashion of the day, from a girl wearing JNCO jeans to my layers of clothing.

My morning routine was pretty much:

  • Start with a long-sleeved shirt at least a size too large
  • Add a t-shirt, a size larger
  • Cover up further with a flannel or other button-up, but don’t button it because that would be lame
  • Finalize with Dad’s 1970’s cardigan, made for a 6-foot tall, burly man, worn with pride by a 100-lb girl
  • Then high-waist jeans and steel-toed combat boots and voila, 1990’s stylish!

I wonder how I, and many others, didn’t collapse from either heat stroke or the weight of two tons of fabric.


SUMMER OF SLOANE by Erin L. Schneider. I’ve been waiting for this book for forever, so I’m reading slowly and vicariously soaking up the Hawaiian sun and sand.


It’s not a pic without a cat in it!


Hubby and I are about halfway through the second season of DAREDEVIL. We are the slowest binge-watchers ever because we usually only get to an episode a week.

We watch a few other shows together, too, including GAME OF THRONES. You’d think after five seasons, I could remember names, but nope, I’m all, “Where did dragon lady go? Why doesn’t the king kid do something? When is that sociopath* going to get what’s coming to him/her?”

That could refer to many different people so it usually involves me pointing at the screen.


Whatever pops up on Spotify. I have a spring playlist, full of happy, sparkly jams (no vampires allowed), but the weather has been drizzly and unseasonably cool in Virginia and it makes me gravitate more to folksy stuff.


YA Buccaneers Spring Bootcamp!

I have lofty goals of finishing EMMA revisions by the end of June and I’m glad for accountability.


So much. I’ve got a couple of daytrips tentatively planned with my younger bro over the next few months and also:

INDEPENDENCE DAY 2! Holy crap, THIS MOVIE IS ALMOST HERE and if you know me, you know I’ve been waiting for this for approximately 20 years.


Spring is in the air! (Sort-of)

If you don’t count the nightly freeze warnings and the snow flurries last weekend, spring is totally in the air. And what does that mean?


Yes, it’s that time of year I geek out over middle and high school plays because tweens/teens are ultra talented and they pour their hearts and souls (not to mention time) into these productions.

So far I’ve watched Hairspray JR and Cinderella. The latter had the coolest costumes. Cinderella’s dress was made to transition from plain to ball-worthy right on stage. The reaction from the kids in the audience  to this “magic” was priceless.

There’s a video of the magic on Facebook, it’s a public page, so hopefully you can see it. It’s short, only about 10 seconds.

Spring also means:


The Orioles have won seven games and only lost one. Sings: “We are the champions!!!”

Okay, okay…

I know it’s still VERY early in the season, but allow me this celebration. My Birds once started their season with 21 straight losses.

In other news:



My husband and I found this at our local Big Lots. Do you have one of these stores near you? Their stock is so random (and always changing). Sometimes we go in there and lose an hour of time, poking around and stumbling across fun things.

My nickname growing up was a take on my last name (Pickrell became Pickel), so this tape is perfection.


One of my cats had acne on his chin. Cat acne – catne? cacne?

I didn’t even realize this was a thing until the vet told us. I think it was brought on by stress – he and another cat went through a rough patch of growling/chasing which made our sweet boy anxiously (compulsively) rub his face on every surface in the apartment. The vet gave him an antibiotic shot which, thankfully, cleared it up.

Poor fella, look how easygoing he normally is – he’s a friend to all, even toy mice!



April is National Donate Life Month so please, PLEASE consider donating blood, becoming an organ donor or giving money to your local transplant clinic. If you’ve ever had a loved one in need of blood or waiting for a transplant, you already know how important it is to take a few minutes out of your day to help.

On that note, much love to everyone ❤

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LOVE IN B MINOR – book blitz and giveaway

Love in B Minor Cover

Happy release day to LOVE IN B MINOR by Elodie Nowodazkij! 

No promises. No fake tomorrows. That was the plan.

New city. New life. At least, that’s what nineteen-year-old Jen Harrison believes. On the surface, she’s living her dream: dancing in a prestigious dance company in Paris. But her sister’s death and the mistakes she’s tried to bury haunt her. She’s become a pro at hiding who she truly is, and she definitely doesn’t want a guy to derail her, but a one night-stand she can do. Nothing more. She definitely doesn’t plan to see the sexy stranger who made her laugh for the first time in years ever again.

Girls don’t walk away from Lucas Wills. Bad boy turned rock star, he’s got his share of groupies. Always upfront, he doesn’t promise fake tomorrows because love can destroy everything. Been there, done that. His ex not only lied to him, she stomped on his heart, used him to become famous, and almost ruined him. So, waking up alone after a night beyond his wildest imagination with a girl he just met shouldn’t upset him, shouldn’t inspire one of the saddest songs he’s ever written, shouldn’t make him want to chase after her.

When Jen, the one-night stand who got away, auditions to be a dancer in Lucas’ next music video, they can’t stop their growing attraction. But Jen’s secrets and his ex could shatter the careers they tried so hard to build and their hearts…they will have to decide what’s more important and if love is worth the fight.

Love in B Minor is the third standalone novel in Elodie Nowodazkij’s Broken Dreams series.









Elodie author photoElodie Nowodazkij was raised in a tiny village in France, where she could always be found a book in hand. At nineteen, she moved to the US, where she learned she’d never lose her French accent. Now she lives in Maryland with her husband, their dog and their cat.

She’s also a serial smiley user.

Visit Elodie online at:  Twitter:

Facebook Author Page: 




Love in B Minor Image 4


To celebrate the release of LOVE IN B MINOR, Elodie is hosting a giveaway. Click on the link below to enter:



Friday Fives

1. I entered JULES in Pitch Madness last night, so fingers crossed!

2. Also in writing news, the first section of EMMA is with my trusty, long-time reader, Brandy, which means she’s one step closer to being polished. “She,” of course, meaning my manuscript, not my reader – Brandy is fabulous as is 🙂

3. After four years of wearing the same contacts, I finally got a new pair. I know, I know, I’m bad about going to doctors. The prescription is stronger and the world looks awesome when I’m not squinting to see it!

4. I checked out a nearby museum exhibit called “CUT! Costume and the Cinema” and there were gorgeous dresses from movies like Ever After and Finding Neverland. I wish I could post pics of everything but photography wasn’t allowed.

Note: This didn’t stop me from taking a pic or two, but I guess I’d be pushing my luck by posting them. If you’re curious, though, click  here to see a video the museum made. It’s surprisingly epic for a place located in a city with less than 30,000 people.

5. Here’s a pic I can share!


One of my favorite people in the world, Erin Schneider, has a book coming out May 3 and she’s currently in the middle of an ARC giveaway for SUMMER OF SLOANE so I obviously joined in on the fun.


Friday Fives

I’d like to keep the dust off this here ol’ blog, even if I’m only posting once or twice a month, so I’m giving Friday Fives a try. I’m positive someone else has already invented this, but right now, I’m taking the moment 😉

1. Last month, my husband and I celebrated 20 years since we first met. It was on a Friday and the next day it began to snow. And snow…and snow…and snow. Around four feet in total, the most I’ve ever seen, although the snow a few weeks ago definitely gave it a run for its money.

2. A few days after Christmas, lil’ bro and I road tripped to visit my grandmother and take place in a cousins’ reunion. It’d been years since I’d seen most of them, and one I’d never even met because of distance. Such a great time.

3. I’ve been watching the War & Peace mini-series that aired on History Channel. It looks lovely, but I’m feeling detached because of the British accents in Russia. I finished part 1 last night and plan to watch the rest but I’m not scrambling to do it.

4.  I’m working on EMMA and decided to enter my girl in a Red Light / Green Light contest at Adventures in YA Publishing. Earlier this morn, I got an email that I’m an accepted entry! Unfinished mss were accepted and this gives me the motivation to work harder to make her complete.

5. I’m trying to be more flexible, both physically and mentally. With the former, I’m aiming for back walkover flexy. As a kid, I could  jump and flip like it was nothing. As an adult, backbends make my spine scream.

My mom asked, “Why would you ever need to do this?”

I said, “Personal satisfaction.”

She said, “Okay.”

Love the way she accepts the things I do 🙂

I’m still in spine-screaming stage, although the cries are slightly quieter than a few weeks ago.

As for mentally, it’s mostly about taking a breather and not worrying constantly that the sky will fall down if I let loose for a few hours.

I’m a work in progress. Always.