{Review/Author Interview/Giveaway} BREATHE, ANNIE, BREATHE by Miranda Kenneally {+JESSE'S GIRL Preview!}

by Miranda Kenneally
just came out in paperback
with a brand-new look!!!

To celebrate, today I'm
interviewing Miranda,
giving away a copy of ANNIE
(bottom of this post),
and re-posting my review!

Take a peek at an old interview from 2011 and see how much things have changed for Miranda (not to mention the look of this blog)!

And check out my Girls in Sports Week interview with Miranda!

An interview with 
Miranda Kenneally

Growing up in Tennessee, Miranda Kenneally dreamed of becoming an Atlanta Brave, a country singer (cliché!), or a UN interpreter. Instead she writes, and works for the State Department in Washington, D.C., where George W. Bush once used her shoulder as an armrest. Miranda loves Twitter, Star Trek and her husband.

Visit Miranda on her websiteTwitter, and Facebook!

 I love that so many of your books take place in Hundred Oaks and that readers often get glimpses of characters from prior books, such as the inclusion of Jeremiah's older brother Matt from THINGS I CAN'T FORGET. What made you decide to entwine your stories together in these small ways? Do you think that someday we'll see the stories of descendants of characters from previous novels?

Favorite scene: 

There is a scene where Jeremiah and Annie go camping. They are very much just friends at this point in the book, but there is some sexual tension going on. What I love about the scene is how Annie talks about missing her deceased boyfriend's back-scratches, so Jeremiah scratches her back for her. I think it shows a strong intimacy between them.

Hardest scene: 

The scene after Annie hooks up with Jeremiah for the first time. Annie feels very guilty and worries that she's betrayed her deceased boyfriend by fooling around with a guy she barely knows. It was hard to "show" her guilt, meaning, I didn't want Annie to just say "I feel guilty." I showed her taking a shower and scalding herself with hot water. I also had her obsessing about times in the past she felt guilty, and how that compares with hooking up, because she thinks that's so much worse. I worked on that scene for months.

So many of your books tackle tough issues many teens face. How do you decide which topics to feature and incorporate into your writing?

I just start writing and the issues come out naturally with the plot. I don't really sit down and think, "I'm going to write a book about bullying today." Rather, I start writing and see what happens. 

BREATHE, ANNIE, BREATHE revolves around grief and the way it permanently changes us, especially when we didn't know somebody that well in the first place but were still affected by his/her passing. What advice can you give to teens who are grieving?

It's important to know there is no "right" way to grieve. You can grieve however you want, for as long as you want, and don't let other people give you time limits or set expectations for when you'll be "over it." You never get over a death; it becomes a part of your life that might fade over time, or it might not, and that's okay.

 I love how honest your books are. I'm not athletic, but I didn't realize just how much goes into being good at a sport you like. Annie's motives for participating in a marathon are pure, but I had no clue that some people may not physically be built to do certain activities even if they have a desire to do so. How do you figure out which sports/activities to include in your novel and what aspects of that field to highlight and turn into larger topics?

With Jordan playing football, that just popped into my head one day. I used to run long-distances and did a marathon, I played softball, and I went camping a lot as a kid, so it was easy to write Annie, Parker and Kate's books. Savannah was another story - I knew absolutely nothing about horses, but I wanted to write another book where the girl is firmly in a "man's world" doing a traditionally male sport.  For my next book JESSE'S GIRL, the main character loves music. I also loved music as a teen and performed in a few choirs, so it was easy to get into Maya's head.  As for what turns into a larger issue in the book, it really depends on how the overarching plot is playing out, and what's in line with the character.

 I've been lucky enough to read your next novel, JESSE'S GIRL, and can't wait to tell everyone about it this summer. It's my favorite book you've written to date! What tidbits can you tell readers looking forward to July's release? What's your favorite thing about your new novel?

Thank you! The main character, Maya, is Sam Henry's little sister, so readers will get to see what's going on with Sam and Jordan. They are around a lot in the book - causing trouble of course. My favorite thing about the book is Jesse himself! He's sexy, funny, and damaged.

O P E N I N G   H O O K:

    Our gym teacher made us run the mile a few times a year for something called the Presidential Fitness Test. I’d huff and puff and wonder why the hell President Bush cared how fast I could run laps around the playground. I always came in dead last.
    Most of the boys could run a mile in eight or nine minutes. The girls usually came in around ten. And there I was, scooting in at over thirteen minutes. Truth be told, running bored the hell out of me. I’d rather have been doing word problems.
    Today I’m running five miles along the Little Duck River. If I finish, this will be the farthest I’ve ever run. I know I’ll finish—there’s no way I can give up.Because I’m doing this for him.
(Page 3, US ARC edition)

Annie has never liked to run. She was always the worst in school, but her deceased boyfriend Kyle was a runner. He'd been training for a marathon that was important to him, and Annie decides to race in his honor. But...she still isn't very good at running. Sometimes, it makes her stomach hurt. Sometimes, her legs are like jelly. Does she have what it takes to cross the finish line and honor Kyle? To prepare, she's hired a marathon trainer. His sessions are grueling, but thanks to them, she meets Jeremiah. He has the potential to help her move on, but he's not supposed to date anyone in his brother's program. But it's only his belief in her that will help Annie suck up her courage and keep trying even after a normal person would give up and cut their losses.

Miranda Kenneally books have a lot of heart. There's always an issue at play that is important, one that needs to be addressed in YA literature. In BREATHE, ANNIE, BREATHE, we're dealing with a girl struggling to cope after her boyfriend's death...a boyfriend she'd only just gotten back together with after a bad breakup. She's messed up and wondering if the accident was, in a way, her fault. They'd been arguing over their wishes for the future. Kyle wanted to get married right away, and Annie wanted to get through college first. There aren't enough YA titles with the aftermath of grief, with the wish to do something epic in someone else's name in order to honor their memory. That is the core of Annie's journey. She's not good at what she's doing, not a natural athlete like so many of Kenneally's other characters in previous books. But she has guts, determination, willpower. She's going to do this impossible thing, even if her body isn't capable of it. Not everyone is built for distance running. Not everyone can finish a 26-mile marathon, even serious athletes. Kenneally focuses on the drive and will to succeed, and creates a story that brings life to a voice that needs to be heard in YA.

Kenneally's books are also full of fun and tradition. While they all take place in the town of Hundred Oaks, you don't have to read any book in order to dive right in. If you have read other books in the series, you get sneak cameos that add to the fun, but you aren't missing out on anything! For example, in BERATHE, ANNIE, BREATHE, Annie's trainer is Matt from THINGS I CAN'T FORGET, and her love interest is his younger brother Jeremiah! We also get a sneak peek at the grown-up lives of a couple of the "original" generation of characters! (I wouldn't be at all surprised to see stories about the children of some of the original characters someday down the road!)

I definitely hope that Kenneally continues writing books in this world. I like the combination of sports (there's definitely a readership for this type of book; there aren't enough sports featured in YA!) and issues that aren't always focused on and brought to life. Kenneally has an unusual, unique voice that stands out in contemporary YA. I've said it before and I'll say it again: She's going to be a contemporary staple, one of those authors others are compared to.

Content Ratings: highlight between ( ) for details

Romance: PG15 ( sexual situations )
Language: PG13 ( swearing and innuendo )
Other: --
C O V E R   D E S I G N:

(The following analysis is for the hardcover edition of this book:)


This cover has gone through a few revisions before becoming what it is today. While it doesn't match the tone of the other covers, it also doesn't need to. 

I also have a soft spot for covers with "chalk" designs that look like the model is in front of a chalkboard or some such. For example, I really adore the playfulness of this cover:

While the idea behind this cover isn't exactly the same as the one for BREATHE, ANNIE, BREATHE, it's a similar concept because neither sky is real. It's just whimsical and fun, and I really like that about both covers!

I also love the interior treatment. Every so often, readers are treated to a peek at Annie's log book and able to see the progress she's making:

 What's cool is that you see that sheet  become creased once it's folded up over time. You see doodles added in the margins. It feels REAL, and it makes Annie's journey seem like something that could be happening in real life. I thought the treatment of her training schedule was such an awesome addition, and always looked forward to seeing her progress!
O F F I C I A   I N F O:

Author: Miranda Kenneally
Release Date: July 15, 2013
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Received: For Review (BEA Copy)

Annie hates running. No matter how far she jogs, she can’t escape the guilt that if she hadn’t broken up with Kyle, he might still be alive. So to honor his memory, she starts preparing for the marathon he intended to race.

But the training is even more grueling than Annie could have imagined. Despite her coaching, she’s at war with her body, her mind—and her heart. With every mile that athletic Jeremiah cheers her on, she grows more conflicted. She wants to run into his arms…and sprint in the opposite direction. For Annie, opening up to love again may be even more of a challenge than crossing the finish line.

"BREATHE, ANNIE, BREATHE is an emotional, heartfelt, and beautiful story about finding yourself after loss and learning to love. It gave me so many feels. Her best book yet."
 — Jennifer Armentrout, New York Times bestselling author of WAIT FOR YOU

I am SO EXCITED to tell you guys about JESSE'S GIRL. I recently finished reading it this past weekend and can I just say...

It is my favorite of all of Miranda Kenneally's books to date.  
And yes, I've read them ALL.

Granted, if you stuck with me last fall during my A Week of Shooting Stars event, you'll know that I already have a soft spot for books featuring musicials or actors. I also love what a personal book this is for Miranda, and can't wait for you to read it in July! I'm seriously holding my tongue right now, bookworms. I want to give you all the details NOW and I CAN'T! But it is SO GOOD and you are going to want this book!

Need more than my word? How about this excerpt to tide you over?
As much as I love music, I am generally not a fan of country. I don’t like banjos. I don’t like sappy lyrics about trucks and hauling hay. Dolly Parton is my mortal enemy—my mom plays “Jolene” over and over and over and over, and it makes me want to chop my ears off like van Gogh. Yeah, yeah, I’m from Tennessee, where it’s a crime if you don’t love country, but I like deep, rumbling beats and singing loud and fast and hard. I do not like closing my eyes and crooning to a cow in the pasture. Yet here I am at a Jesse Scott concert, getting ready to meet him and to see if he’ll let me shadow him next Friday.

My school requires every senior to “shadow” a professional for a day. It’s their way of helping us figure out what kind of career we want. Like, if you want to be president when you grow up, you might get to shadow the mayor. Want to be a chef? Have fun kneading dough at the Donut Palace. When I said “I want to be a musician,” I figured they’d send me to work in the electronics section at Walmart.

I certainly never expected to shadow the king of country music.

It turns out that Jesse Scott is my principal’s nephew. Jesse won TV’s Wannabe Rocker when he was ten and has gone on to become very successful. In sixth grade, every girl in class—myself included—took the Teen Beat quiz: “Would Jesse Scott Like Your Kissing Style?” (Obviously the answer was yes.) In middle school, I had a Jesse Scott poster on my ceiling. It’s hard to believe he’s only eighteen, because he’s already won three Grammys. When he was younger, his songs were about family, fishing, and playing baseball, but lately they’re about love and making love and all things sexy.

I wouldn’t say I’m a fan anymore, but I would never give up an opportunity to learn from a professional with such a gorgeous, pure voice. I want to learn what it’s like to perform day in and day out. Despite what everyone and their mom says—that I’ll struggle as a musician—all I want is to play guitar in front of a crowd and hear people cheer for me.

I can’t believe I’m backstage at the Grand Ole Opry! I bounce on my toes. Jesus, is that an archtop Super 4, the model Elvis played? I’ve never seen one in real life. It probably cost more than my house. I’m ogling the guitar when Jesse Scott comes out of the bathroom, drying his hair with a towel. He pads across the room to the couch, wearing nothing but a pair of rugged jeans with more holes than Swiss cheese. The lighting is dim, and he doesn’t seem to notice I’m here, which is good, because I’ve moved from ogling the guitar to ogling him.

Who wouldn’t? He was one of People magazine’s “50 Most Beautiful People,” and it is a truth universally acknowledged that you should stare at people who’ve made that list. The guy’s gorgeous. Like in the boy-next-door way. His wet, wavy, brown hair curls around his ears and nearly hits his shoulders, and while he doesn’t have a six-pack or anything, his body is fit. I wish he’d look my way so I can see his famous brown eyes. They always remind me of those caramel chews Poppy gives me when I visit. Jesse has some sort of Gaelic symbol tattooed on his left shoulder blade. I want to reach out and trace the design.

God, get ahold of yourself, Maya. Don’t be a horndog. Besides, he’s so not my type. I don’t do pretty boys.

 And since I already know that you're going to want it, you might as well pre-order and get some cool goodies, right!?

The following information is from Sourcebooks!

In celebration of Miranda’s new book, Sourcebooks Fire is offering some really cool stuff for readers, fans, etc.

Everyone who emails teenfire@sourcebooks.com will automatically receive an email of the EXCLUSIVE Jesse’s Girl Playlist, and will be invited to attend a LIVE online author event on July 6, the day before Jesse’s Girl goes on-sale!

In addition, if you pre-order the book and send your proof of purchase (and mailing address) to teenfire@sourcebooks.com, you’ll not only get the exclusive playlist and event invite, but you’ll also receive a signed/personalized bookplate, a super-cute custom guitar pick, and entered to win a $300 gift card to TicketMaster so you can go to a concert or musical or some other fun event.

So hurry up and send your information to teenfire@sourcebooks.com 
(Subject: Jesse’s Girl)
including your mailing address if you’re sending in proof of pre-order, 
and how you would like your bookplate signed.

Here are links to order
a copy of Jesse’s Girl:


O F F I C I A   I N F O:

Author: Miranda Kenneally
Release Date: July 7, 2015
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Practice Makes Perfect.

Everyone at Hundred Oaks High knows that career mentoring day is a joke. So when Maya Henry said she wanted to be a rock star, she never imagined she’d get to shadow *the* Jesse Scott, Nashville’s teen idol.But spending the day with Jesse is far from a dream come true. He’s as gorgeous as his music, but seeing all that he’s accomplished is just a reminder of everything Maya’s lost: her trust, her boyfriend, their band, and any chance to play the music she craves. 

Not to mention that Jesse’s pushy and opinionated. He made it on his own, and he thinks Maya’s playing back up to other people’s dreams. Does she have what it takes to follow her heart—and go solo?

a paperback of
by Miranda Kenneally!!!

US Only!
Through May 1, 2015

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