Blog Tour: Learning to Swear in America by Katie Kennedy

Pub Date: July 5, 2016
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Genre: young adult contemporary/sci-fi/humor
Summary: Brimming with humor and one-of-a-kind characters, this end-of-the world novel will grab hold of Andrew Smith and Rainbow Rowell fans.

An asteroid is hurtling toward Earth. A big, bad one. Yuri, a physicist prodigy from Russia, has been called to NASA as they calculate a plan to avoid disaster. He knows how to stop the asteroid: his research in antimatter will probably win him a Nobel prize--if there's ever another Nobel prize awarded. But Yuri's 17, and having a hard time making older, stodgy physicists listen to him. Then he meets Dovie, who lives like a normal teenager, oblivious to the impending doom. Being with her, on the adventures she plans when he's not at NASA, Yuri catches a glimpse of what it means to save the world and save a life worth living.

Prepare to laugh, cry, cringe, and have your mind burst open with questions of the universe.

Welcome to the Learning to Swear in America tour! Today, in honor of Katie, Yuri, and Dovie, we are celebrating destroying the world stories about destroying the world. So sit back, relax, and let's blow up the planet! (Dear NSA / FBI / super top secret alphabet agencies who may be reading this: I'm just kidding about the whole blowing up the planet thing, but feel free to send the Avengers down here just in case)

Remember that time Alderaan exploded? Ah, the good old days.

Mary's Favorite Apocalyptic Stories
Okay, so first of all, Independence Day. I like my “the world is about to end” to come with an extra-large side of funny with sassy sauce to spare. ID4 has this in spades. From Will Smith welcoming an alien pilot to Earth with a knuckle sandwich to the face to the fat lady singing, Independence Day provides the laughs. Also, I like that literally everyone does something heroic. There’s a president with the most motivational speech I’ve ever heard that makes me want to kiss babies and fly a jet; a stripper with, yes, a heart of gold (fyi, she OWNS that job like nobody’s business); an alcoholic washed up crop duster who is, erm, let’s say intimately acquainted with the aliens; a cranky Jewish dad and his super-nerd son; etc. It’s an amazing ensemble cast that includes Tinkerbell (her voice, that is), Ian Malcolm, Jayne Cobb, and Eleanor Waldorf, and I am obsessed (FYI, none of those names are the actors. Look them up if you don’t know them, and then give yourself a Netflix education!). There is literally nothing to not like about ID4 except maybe its long-awaited-but-surely-disappointing sequel.

Not from ID4, but the sentiment remains.

I do like my funny stories, but I’ll forgive a lack of humor if there’s an excessive amount of fight sequences and also gratuitous Idris Elba, and Pacific Rim has those in spades. Basically, more bad aliens invade the earth so countries create ginormous machines to play rock em sock em robots with these dudes. One of the Jaegers (the human-controlled robots) literally picks up a cargo ship and uses it like a baseball bat to smack one of the monsters in the face. It’s quite glorious, if you haven’t seen it. Plus, it’s full of delicious trope-y goodness: a cranky mentor, a reluctant hero, a badass babe, adorable fighting nerds, etc. BRB, fangirling!

 Told you.


You're welcome. 


It wouldn't be a true apocalypse post without mention of one of the most popular causes: zombies. I couldn't handle The Walking Dead because of reasons and stuff, but again with the humor. Shaun of the Dead is an irreverent spoof of all things zombie. I enjoyed much of Zombieland, but instead of going sincere the way that one did, Shaun of the Dead is basically non-stop ridiculousness. Simon Pegg is brilliant as the atypical action hero leader-of-the-resistance, and I love how the movie juxtaposes his perfectly mundane British existence with the end of the world.

Now auditioning for "Thriller"

Step 1: open this video in youtube & let it play while you read this.
I saw Terminator 2 when I was crazy young (not sure how my parents okayed that, but whatever), and I still adore it. Arnold plays a not-quite-cuddly-but-all-around-good-guy-robot who has come from the future to save John Conner (John Connah, if you're saying it in Ahnold's voice like I am rn) from the clutches of an evil robot from the future and thus, save the world simultaneously. T2 merges the takes-itself-a-little-too-seriously apocalyptic flick with the silly as teenage punk John attempts to teach the terminator a little bit of pop culture and humor even as he just runs around blowing shit up. FYI, you should pretend the series ends here bc things are so worse later on, but also RIP Anton Yelchin, who was WAY better as Kyle Reese in Salvation than I expected. Mad respect, man.

*cries forever*

No list about the apocalypse would be complete without mention of the greatest treasure of the 90s (behind Nickelodeon, Jurassic Park, Independence Day, etc etc): Armegeddon. 10 year old Mary had a huge crush on Ben Affleck, and 28 year old Mary still has a huge crush on 1998 Ben Affleck. Again, this movie takes itself waaaay to seriously, but at least the supporting cast kept things fun. From Owen Wilson as a drugged up cowboy to Michael Clarke Duncan as the lovable Bear in touch with his emotions, Steve Buscemi as a sexed up maniac to Peter Stormare as the cranky and bitter Russian, the movie kept some humor, which I appreciate. Plus, Bruce Willis is so stereotypical action hero dude, and I love it!

 Also, in case you didn’t know, Mr. Malfoy plays the genius in this one. 
How I feel every time I watch Armageddon

Now for the bookish portion of my list. We'll start with Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff's weird, sassy, space opera mindf*ck. Illuminae starts off with the destruction of a planet, and things just go down from there for the main characters. You could argue this series isn't *quite* apocalyptic because there is still a society and other worlds, but there's some stuff that happens in Gemina and WOO BUDDY, come at me. This book will tear a hole through your mind faster than a wormhole can tear a hole through the universe so.... yeah. You have that to look forward to. Go with God, friends.

I liked Julie Kagawa's Iron Fey books, but I *love* The Blood of Eden series. Written in a time when both vampire books and dystopians had worn out their welcome, you wouldn't have thought a series like this could be successful or original, but nope. The Immortal Rules and its sequels proved that you CAN take popular and even tired elements and combine them into something fresh. The world is one I would not want to be in. It's hostile to just about everything and everyone, and your options (for humans) are to be a blood slave or die horribly. Also, three cheers for another badass warrior chick who has to save the boy sometimes, super snark (thanks, Jackal), and a beautifully if horrifically created world full of intrigue and danger.

Again with the zombies. I could have put Warm Bodies on the movie list because I like both the book and its movie. Warm Bodies is sweetly unexpected for a zombie story. The way to create an interesting zombie mc is to have one who can think and dream and change. Although the book faintly alludes to Romeo & Juliet, the book stands on its own merit with complex characters and an intriguing (if slightly squicky because zombie romance???) premise. The long-awaited sequel release next year, and I hope it addresses more of the world.

Remember that time they made a movie of my favorite book of all time? Let's pretend that did not happen. Say what you want about Stephenie Meyer, but she did so much good for YA and continues to help support female creatives. Plus, in all honesty, I love her books. The Host is a NOT YA (I get irrationally angry when I see in the teen section at bookstores or libraries) story about aliens taking over the planet. The first 100 pages are basically equal to pre-Hogwarts in Harry Potter, but the rest of the story is so full of heart and excitement and intrigue. It's part sci-fi, part romance, part survival story, and all amazing. Ian O'Shea is one of my favorite literary dudes, and both Wanda and Mel kick absolute ass as co-MCs (but in v different ways!). Sure, the love square is messy, but hey, it's fiction. It's science fiction. Messy is implied. At the end of the book, I feel satisfied by Wanda and Mel's story arc, but I would like to see more of the world, so Steph, if you're not to busy, can you please publish The Seeker and The Soul already? That'd be great.

Bonus: Video Game Round
I have a particular love for the Halo series. The original trilogy is fantastic and fun to play, and the story is engrossing. Plus, it contains so many of the elements I love about the movies and books listed above (action, adventure, humor, aliens, zombies), and honestly, sometimes it's incredibly soothing to be the one controlling the explosions. Halo: Reach is actually a prequel to the main series featuring Master Chief John-117, and it tells the story of an elite squad of super soldiers known as Noble Team (they're basically SEAL Team Six) who go on missions to protect cities, recover stolen intelligence, and generally kick alien ass and take names. It's a heartbreaking game because one by one, team members die, and the game actually ends when you, the last team member standing, die all alone surrounded by alien assholes. Then, you know, the planet is destroyed. I cry all the time when I play Reach because you don't save the world... but because of your actions in the game, you set in motion events that save the universe. A++

So here you have it: Mary's favorite apocalypse stories. In case you couldn't tell, there are a lot of similarities among all these stories. I adore stories that feature characters with heart and definitely lots of humor. Also nerds. And that is what Learning to Swear in America is. I have not yet had a chance to read it, but ohhh, I am here for this. I am really excited to meet Yuri and Dovie, and discover how their relationship works because normal girl + super-smart boy (I'm thinking a less-weird, less-preying-mantis-looking Sheldon Cooper) makes me really happy. So check out Learning to Swear in America, check out my favorites, and enter to win some cool stuff below!

Purchase Links:
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Tour Schedule:

July 5: Gone Pecan (guest post)
July 6: Ex Libris (excerpt)

About the Author:
Katie Kennedy is a college history instructor. She used to teach in a fire station. When the alarm rang, the entire class jumped up and ran out of the room. She became an LPN in order to write more accurate medical scenes. She has been lost in Moscow, and rousted by the KGB for sitting in Red Square to eat her ice cream. She has been bitten by a fish.

Katie lives in Michigan's Upper Peninsula with her husband, daughter, and son, in a town with a million bats. LEARNING TO SWEAR IN AMERICA comes out July 5, 2016, from Bloomsbury.

Author Links:


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Have one for the road.


  1. I just recently found out about this book. It sounds fantastic. Definitely want to check it out!!

  2. So did you just steal my life?! The 11 year old in me can't even think about Armageddon without wanting to cry. I also saw T2 wayyy too young. I watched it recently and I just kept asking myself "what were my parents thinking!" Also, Anton Yelchin... I'm too sad to talk about it.

  3. I'm reading this book now and OMG LOVE!!! It's so good. I'm also due for my annual "the world is ending" book. I like to read a few of those a year :)

  4. Best book this year. Great story, fascinating characters.

  5. I love The Host too! And I always say to people that I have selected amnesia when they ask me about the movie of it. Hahaha. XD

  6. Loved the entire post! The blurb for this book sounds awesome. Thanks for the chance!
    PS: I'm a huge Stephenie Meyer fan--Twilight and The Host, and proud of it. :)

  7. Loved the entire post! The blurb for this book sounds awesome. Thanks for the chance!
    PS: I'm a huge Stephenie Meyer fan--Twilight and The Host, and proud of it. :)

  8. I've heard about this read but haven't really put much thought into it, until now of course. Thank you for this awesome post. I can't wait to add it this to my TBR! Also I loved the Immortal Rules Series! Well, I haven't finished it yet but Kagawa is a master at a vampire series!

  9. I just finished reading this book and highly recommend it if you love great characters and subtle humor.