Monthly Archives:: July 2014

Just Like the Movies by Kelly Fiore | Book Review

July 31, 2014 Book Review, Young Adult 4 ★★★★★

Just Like the Movies by Kelly Fiore | Book ReviewJust Like the Movies by Kelly Fiore
Published by Walker Children's on July 22, 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Contemporary Romance, Romance
Pages: 300
Format: ARC
Source: From the Publisher
Amazon Add to Goodreads
5 Stars
Pretty and popular track star Marijke Monti is confident about almost everything – she’s got great friends, a great family, and she’s on her way to the State Track Championship. In fact, the only thing Marijke isn’t confident about is her relationship with Tommy Lawson.

Lily Spencer has spent her entire high school career preparing for the future – she’s participated in every extracurricular activity and volunteer committee she could. But, at home, she watches her mother go on date after date with dud-dudes, still searching for “the one.” Lily realizes that she’s about to graduate and still hasn’t even had a boyfriend.

While they live on each other’s periphery at school, Lily and Marijke never seemed to have much in common; but, after a coincidental meeting at the movie theater, Lily gets an idea – why can’t life be like a movie? Why can’t they set up their perfect romantic situations, just in time for their senior prom, using movie techniques?

Once the girls come up with the perfect plans, they commit themselves to being secret cohorts and, just like in the movies, drama ensues.

Just Like the Movies is a darling breath of fresh summer air, and it could not have come into my life at a better time! I’ve always been a hopeless romantic, and I spend the months leading up to my birthday and Christmas scouring the Internet for any and all romantical movies that have not been added to my collection. I knew from the get-go that this was a book for me, and it was. As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. Right off the bat, I loved all the mentions of some of my favorite romantic comedies. Kelly has great taste in swoony movies, and I even got some recommendations for my Christmas list! After reading Kelly’s take on a particularly romantic boombox scene from Say Anything, I know I need to go watch that movie!

2. I SO identify with Lily, to the point where I almost forgot I was reading about someone other than myself! Lily is high school me. She’s a bookish, organized, intellectual wallflower with a long list of things she wants to accomplish and her future all planned out. She wants a love story like the movies, but doesn’t think anyone even notices her. She’s crushing on a guy she thinks is WAY out of her league. On the flip side, she has this snarky sarcasm thing going on that I just loved. She is so me. I was a studious, shy, choir girl who was actually told by one of her best friends that she should be a bank robber because nobody would notice her come and go.I wasn’t weird, I was pretty, and I had a lot to offer. And I always wondered why I was overlooked the popular guys (side note – Now that I am old and wise, I’m actually glad I was overlooked). I wish I’d had a friend like Lily to commiserate with.

3. Marijke is the popular girl that’s actually likeable, and it was so refreshing to read about her. The star athletes in high school are almost never nice (and if you were a nice star athlete in highschool, high five!), but Marijke really proves herself. She’s got her insecurities and her frustrations and her home drama. She’s a normal girl. I liked her a lot, even though I probably would have avoided her in high school.

4. I have a huge crush on Joe Lombardi.

5. I loved the focus on friendship. Lily and Marijke have the most amazing friendship that spans high school social groups in a way that feels so real. And I loved watching them bond over their love of romance and their desires to have it in their own lives.

6. Probably my favorite thing about Just Like the Movies is the focus on growth and coming of age. Kelly and I touched on this in our interview last week. As the story moves on, these girls both get stronger and stronger. They figure out who they are, what they want, and that they deserve more than they are getting. I loved watching them both discover their individuality and their amazingness. And what I loved even more is that things work out for these girls once they discover themselves. There’s a huge message of loving yourself enough to demand a certain kind of respect from others. If only we could all learn to do this.

All in all, Just Like the Movies is a very sweet romance with tons of references to well-loved romantic movies, a beautiful friendship, swoony boys, girl power, and an important message to readers young and old. I’d recommend it to anyone who loves romantic contemporary stories with a little meat on their bones,.


Author Kelly Fiore on Just Like the Movies | Interview + Giveaway

July 25, 2014 Author Interview, Giveaway 8

I’m so excited to have Kelly on the blog today to talk about her new book, Just Like the Movies, as part of the official blog tour hosted by Bloomsbury Children’s! This book is absolutely adorable (keep an eye out for my raving review next week!), and so is the author. I had so much fun learning more about her and her book. Before we jump in to the interview, let me give you some info on the book. And make sure you get to the very bottom of the post so you can enter the giveaway for a finished copy of Just Like the Movies!


just like the moviesJust Like the Movies by Kelly Fiore
Published by Walker Books for young Readers on July 22, 2014
Genres: Romance, Contemporary, Contemporary Romance
Pages: 300
Format: ARC
Source: From the Publisher
Buy the BookAdd to Goodreads

Pretty and popular track star Marijke Monti is confident about almost everything – she’s got great friends, a great family, and she’s on her way to the State Track Championship. In fact, the only thing Marijke isn’t confident about is her relationship with Tommy Lawson.

Lily Spencer has spent her entire high school career preparing for the future – she’s participated in every extracurricular activity and volunteer committee she could. But, at home, she watches her mother go on date after date with dud-dudes, still searching for “the one.” Lily realizes that she’s about to graduate and still hasn’t even had a boyfriend.

While they live on each other’s periphery at school, Lily and Marijke never seemed to have much in common; but, after a coincidental meeting at the movie theater, Lily gets an idea – why can’t life be like a movie? Why can’t they set up their perfect romantic situations, just in time for their senior prom, using movie techniques?

Once the girls come up with the perfect plans, they commit themselves to being secret cohorts and, just like in the movies, drama ensues.


Author Interview

TARG: Thanks for taking the time to answer some questions today, Kelly!

KF: Thanks so much for having me, Jana.

TARG: If you only had five words (or less) to sell your book to a potential reader, how would you describe it to them?

KF: Friendship’s it’s own happy ending.

TARG: Oh, I absolutely love that! I love books with a strong friendship element, and Just Like the Movies definitely has that.

One can only assume you had specific movies in mind while you were writing. You mention quite a few throughout the book itself, but which movie(s) made you go: “I’ve got to write this book.”

KF: I think Say Anything is the biggest reason – that boombox scene is iconic – but also a lot of movies that didn’t make the cut were movies I loved and wanted to “live” in. Movies like French Kiss or Romy & Michele’s High School Reunion were movies that I saw during high school and thought, “Oh, that could never happen.” Adult Kelly thought, “Wait… what if it could…?”

TARG: I’ve actually never seen Say Anything, but you’ve got me wanting to! It sounds super sweet and romantic.

Just Like the Movies features two girls who are very different from one another, but bond over their love of romantic movies. You’ve got Marijke, an outgoing track star with a sexy boyfriend and Lily, a shy, studious wallflower. Which one of these girls do you see yourself in?

KF: Lily. So much of Lily is me. Which is funny, because I wasn’t exactly quiet or anything in high school. But the sarcastic snark, the biting wit – that’s me to a fault. Like Lily, I’ve used that to keep people entertained, but at a distance.

TARG: I also identified a lot with Lily as I was reading. I’ve always been the quiet, organized type, but I can whip out a little one-liner or a sarcastic comment every now and then and make people laugh. I was also the girl in school people looked over, or even through. I loved Lily a lot because I saw her living my life.

Anyone who follows your blog knows you’re a total foodie (and your debut novel, Taste Test, definitely confirms it.) Lily mentions that she loves the Saturday morning tradition of peanut butter pancakes with bananas for breakfast. Does a recipe for these exist? She also says she loves to cook for her family. What other kinds of things does Lily cook?

KF: I’m sure a recipe exists! I don’t have one, but they sound way too delicious not to be a real thing. ☺ I don’t know if Lily is much of a cook besides the basics – she’s pretty great at ordering pizza, though! (Joe Lombardi, on the other hand? He’s one of those guys I can imagine has some great date night staple recipes under his belt to impress the ladies – like Pasta Carbonara or Shrimp Scampi.)

TARG: Ahh, Joe. I love Joe a lot! And I can totally see him whipping up some yummy Italian.

Which Just Like the Movies scene was your favorite one to write? Why?

KF: I love writing climactic scenes in most cases, although I really loved writing the preface/beginning part of JLTM when the girls are in Tommy’s yard. It was the very first thing I wrote for the book and I felt their friendship starting to root in that section. Oh, and I loved writing Marijke’s running scenes. Chapter One specifically.

TARG: What’s your favorite quote from Just Like the Movies? Why?

KF: From page 269 – the last Marijke section:
“And there it is – the last aspect of the perfect movie romance: chemistry. It’s the one thing that the movies capture that real life has in common. It’s the one thing you can’t fake, because it’s as certain as science.”

TARG: I highlighted that quote! It’s definitely one of my favorites as well.

Just Like the Movies comes off as being a light contemporary romance, but there are some heavier issues and a lot of feelings. What do you hope readers take away from this story?

KF: This is a great question. In the end, this story is about relationships with other people and how we value ourselves in our relationships – romantic and friend-oriented. Marjike and Lily both make choices based on what other people – boys, in particular – might think of them. By the end of the book, both of them have learned that their opinions of themselves are the ones that matter the most. If I could hope for anything of my readers, it would be that they recognize and appreciate that growth.

TARG: Mission accomplished, Kelly! I loved watching these girls grow in their relationships with each other, as well as with the boys. And I particularly loved watching them stand up for themselves, because that’s something high school girls (and even adult women!) just don’t do enough of.

By nature, writers are extremely passionate about their craft. What has becoming an author done for you as a person?

KF: Becoming an author, specifically, has made me far more thick-skinned. And a little more patient. It’s given me the opportunity to leave something behind and it’s made me stronger. It’s made me both exceedingly happy and extremely miserable – sometimes at the same time.

TARG: I love that. I know I’ve done things in my life that have made me a strong version of who I was, and they are some of my most rewarding experiences.

Finally, do you have a love story worthy of the movies?

KF: I think every love story is worthy of a movie – it’s love, man. It’s the exception. It’s the reason to get out of bed. I met my husband when we were basically kids. Thirteen years later, he still makes me laugh until I snort coffee and makes me so mad that I want to punch holes in everything we own. He’s given me the most beautiful little boy and the most beautiful life. And almost none of our story would fit within the parameters of a romantic comedy. But, you know what? Every single second of it has been love. We are the lucky ones. And I wish everyone – everyone – that kind of imperfect, infuriating, frustrating, intoxicating, endless love. It’s why those movies are made in the first place.

TARG: *swoon* I don’t even know how to respond to that statement! I hope I find your kind of love one day for myself.

Thanks so much, again, Kelly! It has been a lot of fun getting to know you today. I absolutely adored Just Like the Movies, and can’t wait for your next book, The People vs. Cecelia Price!


Meet the Author

Kelly Fiore has a BA in English from Salisbury University and an MFA in Poetry from West Virginia University. She received an Individual Artist Award from the Maryland State Arts Council in 2005 and 2009. Kelly’s poetry has appeared in Small Spiral Notebook, Samzidada, Mid Atlantic Review, Connotation Press, and the Grolier Annual Review. Her first young adult novel, Taste Test, was released in August 2013 from Bloomsbury USA. Forthcoming books include Just Like the Movies, again from Bloomsbury, in 2014 and The People Vs. Cecelia Price from HarperTeen in 2015.

Kelly teaches college composition in Maryland, where she lives with her husband and son.

Connect with Kelly!
Website | Twitter | Tumblr | Facebook | Goodreads


Giveaway

The wonderful people of Bloomsbury Children’s have a great giveaway for you! Enter below for a chance to win a finished copy of Just Like the Movies! USA only, please.
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Be sure to follow the rest of the tour for more awesome content!

7/22 Teen Scene Mag
7/23 Anna Reads
7/24 Dream Within a Dream
7/25 That Artsy Reader Girl
7/28 Alexa Loves Books
7/29 Jenuine Cupcakes
7/30 The Lifelong Bookworm


Top Ten Characters I’d Enjoy Being Stranded With

July 21, 2014 Top Ten Tuesday 9

TTT

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted over at the other blog I write for, The Broke and the Bookish.

I feel like it has been forever since I participated in a Top Ten Tuesday! This is a list of characters that I would be just fine being stranded on a deserted island with. Some are for friendship, some for protection, some for romance, and some for comedic relief!

 

Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins
I would not go hungry if Katniss were around to hunt!

Bennett from the Time Between Us duology by Tamara Ireland Stone
Bennett is a time traveler, plus he can travel AYWHERE. So I would have him around for when I needed a break from the island and wanted to go to a concert in Chicago in 1970.

Mal from the Shadow and Bone trilogy by Leigh Bardugo
Mal is SO swoony, not to mention devoted to those he cares about. He’s a great tracker, navigator, and friend. I know he would keep me alive.

Cinder from The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer
Cinder would be my island sister! We’d talk boys and she’d fix my Kindle every time it broke so I would never be without reading material.

Ethan Vance from Boomerang by Noelle August
Because seriously. This guy is sexy and athletic, plus he’s tender and caring. He’d be my island boyfriend.

St. Claire from Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
I love this guy, plus he’d teach me French in our spare time.

Thorne from The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer
This guy is hilariously cocky and snarky, plus his one-liners are amazing. I’d love to sit and talk with him forever.

Four from Divergent by Veronica Roth
He’s sweet, plus eye candy. Come on.

Celaena Sardothien from the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas
I’m pretty sure she could strangle a shark. So I need her to protect me. Plus, she’s girly and loves sweets and books. So we’d be besties.

Sean O’Neil from Suddenly Last Summer by Sarah Morgan
He’s a sexy doctor! Everyone needs one of these on a deserted island, right? Think Jack from LOST, only better. Much better, because I loved Sawyer a lot more. Anyway.


 So! Who would you want on a deserted island with you? Do you agree with my choices? Am I missing someone?


The Debut Dish: Skila Brown and Katie Delahanty + a Giveaway!

July 20, 2014 Author Interview, Debut Author Challenge, Debut Dish, Giveaway 11

The Debut Dish, a Debut Author Challenge feature, is where you go for the scoop on some pretty awesome debut authors and their new books! Hopefully these interviews will inspire you to add many, many more books to your to-read list. Because, really, who doesn’t need more books in their lives?


Caminar by Skila Brown
March 25, 2014 from Candlewick Press
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

Set in 1981 Guatemala, a lyrical debut novel tells the powerful tale of a boy who must decide what it means to be a man during a time of war.

Carlos knows that when the soldiers arrive with warnings about the Communist rebels, it is time to be a man and defend the village, keep everyone safe. But Mama tells him not yet — he’s still her quiet moonfaced boy. The soldiers laugh at the villagers, and before they move on, a neighbor is found dangling from a tree, a sign on his neck: Communist. Mama tells Carlos to run and hide, then try to find her. . . . Numb and alone, he must join a band of guerillas as they trek to the top of the mountain where Carlos’s abuela lives. Will he be in time, and brave enough, to warn them about the soldiers? What will he do then? A novel in verse inspired by actual events during Guatemala’s civil war, Caminar is the moving story of a boy who loses nearly everything before discovering who he really is.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Boy survives. Walks. Finds hope.

Why should readers pick up your book?
I firmly believe I have the most gorgeous cover of any book that has ever existed in the history of time. But if that doesn’t draw you in, how about this: It’s a story about hope, survival, and remembering. The kind of story that will make you feel better about life when you’re finished reading it.

What’s the best thing about being a debut author?
Meeting new people! Discovering all these great new blogs about books. And reading all the amazing debut books that are coming out this year. It’s great to feel a part of that!

What’s your favorite movie theater candy?
Butterfinger Bites. Or Reese’s Pieces. Or maybe Junior Mints. (Wait, was I supposed to pick just one?)

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
My desk is always cleared off. (Clutter crowds my brain.) I’m guessing that’s odd enough to count.


In Bloom by Katie Delahanty
February 10, 2014 from Entangled Embrace
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

My name is Olivia Bloom and I. Am. Free.

I left for LA with everything I owned piled into my old Volkswagen and dreams of becoming a costume designer. Little did I know I’d wind up designing for a lingerie company—yeah, not sure how I landed this gig—and taken under the wing of two young Hollywood insiders. The fashion shows and parties were great, but life really got exciting when the seriously hottest lead singer of my favorite band started to fall for me.

How does someone like me, an ordinary girl from Pittsburgh, wind up in the arms of the world’s sexiest rock star—surrounded by celebrities, fashion, and music—and not be eaten alive? Berkeley is everything I’ve ever dreamed of in a boyfriend, but the paparazzi, the tabloids, the rumors, it’s all getting a bit too crazy. My life has become every girl’s dream come true, if only I don’t blink and lose it all…

Describe your book in five words or less.
Charming Hollywood fairy tale

Why should readers pick up your book?
So far I’ve been hearing from readers that they find IN BLOOM refreshing and funny…a breath of fresh air from the typical “rockstar” book. It’s a book for those who believe in following their dreams at all costs and I think presents a unique perspective on Hollywood as it is born from personal experience. I wrote an article for USA Today recently that gives a little more insight into how IN BLOOM was accidentally born.

What’s the best thing about being a debut author?
Finally getting to share the characters with readers! I’ve had them all to myself for three years and it’s time for them to leave the nest. It makes my day when a reader discovers that all of the character twitter accounts in the book are real.

What’s your favorite movie theater candy?
Gummy Bears.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
A G-string. (I still work for a lingerie company by day.)

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A Weird Paradox: Library Books Scare Me

July 18, 2014 About Me, Discussion 21

Ok, this is going to sound really weird, considering I’m going to school to become a librarian… but library books scare me. A lot. I can’t really help it! Each time I go into the library and rummage through books, I leave feeling this strong urge to wash my hands. I have always hated the idea of taking a library book to bed with me because of all the germs! I’ve told you before how I can’t read when I’m sick, but I know so many of you who get your best reading done when you’re cooped up in bed for a week! What if you’re reading a library book while you’re sick, sneeze or cough on it, return it, I check it out, I scratch my eyelid while reading, and BAM!!! I’ve got a nasty cold. It’s a scary, scary thing to think about! What about those people who read on the toilet? *shudders* Or what if someone’s cat coughed up a hairball on the shiny plastic cover and the cat’s owner cleaned the book off with a tissue and returned it? I’m seriously grossing myself out here.

I guess this comes from my plain old fear of germs. I do have OCD, and have struggled with a fear of germs since I was 14. I used to wash my hands until they cracked and bled in 40-50 places (I’ve counted). I remember in my high school PE class I had to wear gloves during volleyball because my hands were so dry and cracked that I did not want to bleed on the ball. I’m much better now (it happens when you decide holding hands with and kissing boys is just too much fun) and do not wash my hands all the time or irrationally freak out when someone is sick. I’m just sensible and wash my hands at the normal times as dictated by social convention. Even though I have “cured” myself of this irrational fear, though, I do struggle with resisting the urge to slip back into my old ways.

Anywho, you’ll be very proud to know that I checked out my very first library book for pleasure reading (not research books or books for school) last month and even read it in bed! And I did not get sick and/or die! So I’m making progress. :)

How do you feel about library books? Have you ever worried about their cleanliness, or is that just something you’re not concerned with?


The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson | Book Review + Giveaway

July 15, 2014 Blog Tour, Book Review, Giveaway, Young Adult 31 ★★★★★

The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson | Book Review + Giveaway

The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson | Book Review + GiveawayThe Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson
Series: The Remnant Chronicles #1
Also in this series: The Heart of Betrayal, The Beauty of Darkness
Published by Henry Holt and Co. on July 15, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, High Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 496
Format: ARC
Source: From the Publisher
Amazon Add to Goodreads
5 Stars
In a society steeped in tradition, Princess Lia’s life follows a preordained course. As First Daughter, she is expected to have the revered gift of sight—but she doesn’t—and she knows her parents are perpetrating a sham when they arrange her marriage to secure an alliance with a neighboring kingdom—to a prince she has never met.

On the morning of her wedding, Lia flees to a distant village. She settles into a new life, hopeful when two mysterious and handsome strangers arrive—and unaware that one is the jilted prince and the other an assasin sent to kill her. Deception abounds, and Lia finds herself on the brink of unlocking perilous secrets—even as she finds herself falling in love.

People. I do not know what to do! I have no idea how to review this book, because I really, really loved it. There were a few slow moments, but I became so enthralled and excited about it as the story went on. By the end, I was just dying to get my hands on the second book! As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. This book grabbed me from the first sentence, which does not happen. Ever. “Today was the day a thousand dreams would die, and a single dream would be born.” How great is that? Don’t you want to read more?

2. The Kiss of Deception has a really complex plot that I totally was not expecting. It was a pleasant surprise, because this book is LONG and we need that complexity to keep us going.

3. I think my absolute favorite part of the story is Pearson’s ability to weave things together in a way that keeps you guessing and/or questioning everything you think you know. When two men show up in Lia’s new hometown, she has no idea that one of the men is the prince she was supposed to marry and the other one is the assassin who was sent by her father to kill her. And the best part? The reader is not entirely sure which man is which either! And as Lia begins to feel things for one of the men, the reader agonizes over whether she fell for the prince or the assassin. It does not get better than this.

4. I love it when an author can blow my mind. She DID. I mean, I might have screamed.

5. Lia is a wonderfully spunky character. I love that she fled an arranged marriage, and I love that she cared more about finding the right man and falling in love than marrying the wrong one for wealth, recognition, and prosperity. She knew betraying her father would have extreme consequences, but she did it anyway. She’s also amazing at standing up for herself. I wish I could tell people off like she can!

6. The assassin and the prince, even though we do not always know which is which, have very unique and separate personalities. I found this to be incredibly important because these men HAD to not blend in to one person, or Pearson’s story would not have worked. Pearson did a wonderful job painting a mysterious pair of characters.

7. There’s a hint of a love triangle, but mainly because you don’t know which man is which. Again, this was done so well! I loved the mystery of trying to figure out which man she fell for!

8. In addition to the main story of Lia’s fleeing her kingdom, two men vying for her attention, and tons of deception… there’s side stories of Lia figuring herself out, kingdom politics, treks across barren lands, gypsies, adventure, and supporting characters you’ll fall for. AND it all takes place in a world you can’t wait to learn more about. It’s the total package.

9. I love the writing. It’s beautiful and funny and I loved immersing myself in it.

You know an author has done a wonderful job with their book when it takes me over FOUR MONTHS to write a review. I was so spellbound and captivated by The Kiss of Deception that I was seriously rendered speechless. I’ve already decided that I need to go read Pearson’s Jenna Fox trilogy, not to mention I’ll be moving mountains and slaying dragons to get my hands on The Heart of Betrayal, which comes out next year!


Thanks to Macmillan for providing a giveaway for the readers of That Artsy Reader Girl! Make sure you enter for the chance to win a hardback copy of The Kiss of Deception. This giveaway is open to residents of the USA and Canada.

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Romancing the Duke by Tessa Dare | Mini Book Review

July 9, 2014 Adult Fiction, Book Review 13 ★★★

Romancing the Duke by Tessa Dare | Mini Book ReviewRomancing the Duke by Tessa Dare
Series: Castles Ever After #1
Also in this series: Say Yes to the Marquess, When a Scot Ties the Knot
Published by Avon on January 28, 2014
Genres: Historical Romance, Romance
Pages: 370
Format: Paperback
Source: Borrowed from Library
Amazon Add to Goodreads
3 Stars
As the daughter of a famed author, Isolde Ophelia Goodnight grew up on tales of brave knights and fair maidens. She never doubted romance would be in her future, too. The storybooks offered endless possibilities.

And as she grew older, Izzy crossed them off. One by one by one.

Ugly duckling turned swan?
Abducted by handsome highwayman?
Rescued from drudgery by charming prince?


No, no, and… Heh.

Now Izzy’s given up yearning for romance. She’ll settle for a roof over her head. What fairy tales are left over for an impoverished twenty-six year-old woman who’s never even been kissed?

This one.

This book is a very sweet, funny romance filled with sharp wit and awkward moments. I loved our bookish heroine, Izzy, who has lived her entire life in the shadow of her late father’s famous stories. As soon as she and the duke met, I knew I would be in for a very fun ride. These two have the best banter, and really know how to push one another’s buttons. Izzy inherits the duke’s castle, and he is NOT happy about it. But she is determined to stay in her new home and add a feminine touch to it before kicking him out. I love it! I really loved her spunk and her desire to stand up for herself. She’s not the typical historical romance heroine who lays down and takes it. She pushes right back. She’s such a good sport dealing with the extremely devoted fans of her father’s stories, who are a very eccentric and borderline insane. But I loved that too.

The duke is a really great hero because, even though he’s blind, he still acts as cocky and entitled as if he weren’t. It was pretty hilarious and interesting at the same time. I loved seeing him fall for Izzy’s personality and her inner beauty, rather than lusting after her looks. This is also a very uncommon thing in historical romances, and I found it to be a very exciting story element. He’s very romantic and thoughtful, and I could not help but smile at his bluntness. He loves trying to make Izzy blush. It worked on me!

Overall, Romancing the Duke was a sweet love story with a memorable couple. I’m excited to see where Tessa Dare takes this series next!


The Debut Dish: Philip Siegel + The Mighty Mississippi Book Blast

July 8, 2014 Author Interview, Debut Dish 2

The Debut Dish, a Debut Author Challenge feature, is where you go for the scoop on some pretty awesome debut authors and their new books! Hopefully these interviews will inspire you to add many, many more books to your to-read list. Because, really, who doesn’t need more books in their lives?


This special edition of The Debut Dish not only allows you to get to know Phil better, but is also up to inform you of his week-long, 7-city tour: The Mighty Mississippi Book Blast, which sounds like a TON of fun!

 

 

Come meet Philip and over 20 different authors at the Mighty Mississippi Book Blast this month! From July 14-21, young adult authors Philip Siegel (THE BREAK-UP ARTIST) and Paula Stokes (THE ART OF LAINEY), along with fellow YA author Lindsay Cummings (THE MURDER COMPLEX), will be stopping at independent bookstores along the Mighty Mississippi River. Their road trip will consist of 7 bookstore events in 7 cities over 7 consecutive days, from the Twin Cities to Texas, which is a journey of over 1,200 miles. Each night, they’ll be joining up with hometown authors for nightly events filled with Q&As, signings, games, prizes, and loads of free swag.

When Paula and Philip put their heads together last year about the best ways to promote their contemporary YA novels, they decided to dream big. Really big—like a massive week-long party filled with author events.

“Because Philip lives in Chicago and I was born in Minnesota and grew up in St. Louis, it was only natural we stick to the Midwest,” said Stokes. That’s how the Mighty Mississippi Book Blast (#MMBB) was born.

Their events will include over 20 local YA authors joining up with them at different stops, plus book bloggers covering the night for their followers. “We want to use this tour to connect with as many readers, booksellers, and champions of young adult literature as we can,” said Siegel.

For a schedule and list of stops on the #MMBB tour, check out the tumblr site: mmbbyatour.tumblr.com


The Break-Up Artist by Philip Siegel
April 29, 2014 from Harlequin TEEN
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

Some sixteen-year-olds babysit for extra cash.

Some work at the mall.

Becca Williamson breaks up couples.

Becca knows from experience the damage that love can do. After all, it was so-called love that turned Huxley from her childhood best friend into a social-world dictator, and love that left Becca’s older sister devastated at the altar. Instead of sitting on the sidelines, Becca strikes back—for just one hundred dollars via PayPal, she will trick and manipulate any couple’s relationship into smithereens. And with relationship zombies overrunning her school and treating single girls as if they’re second-class citizens, business is unfortunately booming. Even Becca’s best friend, Val, has resorted to outright lies to snag a boyfriend.

One night, Becca receives a mysterious offer to break up the most popular couple in school: Huxley and raw football team’s star player, Steve. To succeed, she’ll have to plan her most elaborate scheme to date—starting rumors, sabotaging cell phones, breaking into cars…not to mention sneaking back into Huxley’s good graces. All while fending off the inappropriate feelings she may or may not be having for Val’s new boyfriend.

No one said being the Break-Up Artist would be easy.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Girl destroys couples for cash.

Why should readers pick up your book?
Because it deals with love and relationships in a refreshing, cynical, but ultimately hopeful manner. Plus it’s filled with intrigue, crafty schemes, and witty dialogue.

What’s the best thing about being a debut author?
Knowing that people I’ve never met in states and countries I’ve never been to are reading and talking about my book.

What’s your favorite movie theater candy?
Buncha Crunch! I also love love love movie theater popcorn. Like, a lot. Like, I’ll get a large popcorn, eat it before the previews begin, then get a refill.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
MY CAT. She keeps walking across my keyboard.


Books Happened in Vegas. And They Didn’t Stay There! (ALA Recap)

July 7, 2014 Event Recap 4

ALA 2014

Phew! Guys, I just got back from a Las Vegas that was hot as Hades (our car’s thermometer read 120 degrees at one point, but it was usually around 108-111). I kid you not. This past Monday I was sitting in my room at the Bellagio watching The Bachelorette with my mom and my sister when, lo and behold, an extreme heat advisory scrolls across the bottom of the TV. Holy heat! I totally ditched my palazzo pants and bought some shorts at the outlets. Anyway. I was in Vegas for ALA Annual, which is the annual conference of the American Library Association. You may remember last time I went in June of 2012. It’s always a fun time, and this year I was an actual librarian in training (my grad school even gave me a grant to pay for my entrance fee!) so I felt even more at home! Ok, so enough babbling. Let me tell you about my trip!

The exhibit hall opened on Friday evening, so my mom and sister and I all left home Friday morning and drove the 6ish hours to Vegas. We stayed in the Best Western closeish to the convention center because we knew that staying in a casino would mean getting up even earlier and having to deal with a lot of people and traffic. No, no. So we stayed at the Best Western. This one:

(Image Credit)

Hehe. Doesn’t it look so Vegasy? Anyway, we checked in and it was off to the Las Vegas Convention Center for the opening of the exhibit hall, aka the mad dash to all the books because no librarians are in meetings. Checking in at the registration counters was insane! I hear they checked in 30,000 people that night, and I believe it. I stood in the longest line for the longest time. Last time I get there about an hour late due to an accident on the freeway and walked right up to the person to get my badge. I was so not expecting a 45-minute line. Word of advice: get there really early!

(Image credit)

There were seriously millions (read thousands) of people there. I did see Ksenia again, though, which was so much fun! This first evening of the exhibits is always buzzing with excitement, and I had a lot of fun getting back into the swing of things. It takes a certain kind of mindset to conquer a book conference, so you need a little time to acclimate and get in the groove. OH. And I met Laini Taylor and got the final book in her Daughter of Smoke and Bone series!

lainisigning

Day one was a success! Look at my amazing haul!

ALA Day 1

 

Books Pictured:

Landline by Rainbow Rowell (Audiobook)
Kiss of Broken Glass by Madeleine Kuderick
The Young World by Chris Weitz
Black Ice by Becca Fitzpatrick (so excited about this one!)
Illusive by Emily Lloyd-JonesDreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor (signed!) (I bought this one)
Oh Yeah, Audrey! by Tucker Shaw
The Alliance by Shannon Stoker
Ballroom by Alice Simpson
Storm Siren by Mary Weber (signed!) – This author is so sweet and nice!
Anatomy of a Misfit by Andrea Portes
Even in Paradise by Chelsea Philpot
Perfected by Kate Jarvik Birch (Entangled was giving away hardbacks for the signing! I was beyond excited, and delighted to meet Kate, a fellow Utahn!)

Two and a half hours later the conference closed, and I was exhausted. I’ve been having a hard time getting over a nasty lung virus thing that had me on steroids and antibiotics and in bed for 10 days. I had no idea how I would make it for 8 hours the following two days! But when books are involved, I’ll do a LOT. lol. After the conference my mom, sister, and I ate at Fuddrucker’s. Best. Burgers. Ever. We had a super comfortable room once we learned that setting the air conditioner below 70 degrees freezes the air conditioner. Like, literally freezes. So it quit working in the middle of our first night and it was seriously barely worth showering because I was a hot mess as soon as I was done doing my hair and makeup Saturday morning. See the AC? It’s COVERED in ice. It took the maintenance guy hours to thaw it out. Haha. Whoops!

icyac

I woke up bright and early the next morning to head back to the convention center. Like I said, I was worn out so I got there an hour after the hall opened. It was much emptier than the night before since so many of the librarians were in meetings and lectures. I met Kevin Henkes, children’s book author of the Penny books, Lilly books, and my favorite, Chrysanthemum. I read a lot of books by him for my children’s lit class this last semester, so it was fun to meet him and have him sign Lilly’s Big Day. Other highlights of the day include meeting Victoria Schwab (and getting a free copy of The Unbound from Disney Hyperion, which she signed!), meeting the cutest little dog named Lola who had a book series written about her, eating lunch at Olive Garden with my mom and sister, and standing in a HUGE line for Markus Zusak. Random House was SO nice to give us beautiful free hardbacks of The Book Thief, which he personalized. I’ve been terrified of this book, but after hearing people rave about and get emotional about this book in line, I know I must read it. Markus is SO nice! He was nearing the end of his signing time and there were still 50 or so people in line. He stayed and signed every single person’s book. I also got the highly coveted Little Elliot and Throne of Glass tote bags. SO exciting!

day2(Kevin Henkes, Lola the Dog, Victoria Schwab, and Markus Zusak)

And then it was time to back to the hotel again! I swear, the Las Vegas Convention Center needs to figure out a better way to air condition that place. It was SO hot. If the huge casinos can freeze you out, the LVCC should be able to as well! Take a look at my day 2 haul. :) I was VERY excited about so many of these books! It was such a great day. :)

ALA Day 2

 

Books Pictured:

Lilly’s Big Day by Kevin Henkes (signed!) (I bought this one)
Not in the Script by Amy Finnegan
The Jewel by Amy Ewing
Exquisite Captive by Heather Demetrios
The Unbound by Victoria Schwab (signed!)
A Little Something Different by Sandy Hall
An Italian Wife by Ann Hood (signed!)
Greenglass House by Kate Milford
Atlantia by Ally Condie (I AM SO EXCITED!!!)
The Captive by Grace Burrowes
The Fairytale Matchmaker by E.D. Baker
Scintillate by Tracy Clark (signed!)
Lux Beginnings (Lux 1 & 2 bind-up) by Jennifer L. Armentrout (it is SO sparkly)
Conversion by Katherine Howe
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (signed!)
Don’t Try to Find Me by Holly Brown
The Opal Crown by Jenny Lundquist
The Fire Artist by Daisy Whitney
Catnapped!: A Dead-End Job Mystery by Elaine Viets
The Prince of Venice Beach by Blake Nelson (signed!)
Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas (AHHHHHH! YES!!!!)
The Paris Winter by Imogen Robertson

Phew! What a day! The next day, Sunday, was my last day at ALA. I just was not in the mood to go hang out at the exhibit hall on the last day because people start getting grabby and pushy when publishers decide to give away their display copies and everything they have left. It’s a short, crazy day and we were moved to the Bellagio that day to spend a couple days relaxing before heading home. Sunday, though, was SO fun! It was the crazy of all crazy signing days. I spent almost every second in a signing line, and still did not get to every one I wanted! I did see Marc Brown (He wrote the Arthur books!!!! I loved those as a child.) Caragh O’Brien, Josephine Angelini, Melissa Landers, Maggie Stiefvater, Marie Lu, and Mary E. Pearson. I think I did a really good job! Haha. I missed Ally Condie, which was sad. She lives around here, though, so I’ll catch her at another time! I met some fun new friends, Andi and Michelle (teachers from Las Vegas)… and I hung out with Ashley of Ashley Loves Books for a little while. And then there were two other fun girls, and I can’t remember their names for the life of me! I’m sorry! I spent $13 on a gross sandwich, chips, and a bottle of water… and I sat on the floor to eat it because there were no free tables. But that’s ok! I did not go to ALA to eat!

The highlight of my day was when I walked up to Mary Pearson and she saw my badge, squealed, “Jana!!”, and jumped up to hug me! Everyone around kind of wondered who I was. Haha. We’d never met before, but I’m on her blog tour so she was happy to see me! I kind of felt like a celebrity, considering she was so excited to see me and I LOVED her book, Kiss of Deception SO MUCH. So yeah. :) Anyway, check out my third and final haul!

ALA Day 3

 

Books Pictured:

Tiny Rabbit’s Big Wish by Margarita Engle (signed!) (I bought this one)
In New York by Marc Brown (signed!)
The Vault of Dreamers by Caragh M. O’Brien (signed!)
Trial by Fire by Josephine Angelini (signed!)
On the Edge by Allison Van Diepen
Invaded by Melissa Landers (signed!)
Stitching Snow by R.C. Lewis (signed!)
Winterkill by Kate A. Boorman
Sway by Kat Spears
This Shattered World by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner (YAY!!!)
Like No Other by Una LaMarche
Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer
Sinner by Maggie Stiefvater (signed!) (YEEEEEESSSSSSS!)
The Young Elites by Marie Lu (signed!) (YAYYY!)
Mortal Heart by Robin LaFevers (YES)
On a Clear Day by Walter Dean Myers
The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson (signed!) (I bought this one)

All in all, it was a wonderful conference! I met some very fun people including publishers, authors, bloggers, and librarians. I walked with heavy bags of books until my ankles swelled all the way up to my knees (yes, I could make lasting fingerprints in my legs. Creepy.), conquered the extreme heat advisory, and got my hands on some books I have been dying to read! After the conference, my mom, sister, and I moved to the Bellagio where we had a lakefront room and watched the fountains all night. We swam, ate, and relaxed before driving home. It was such a fun girls weekend!

So, have you ever been to a book conference like ALA? Tell me about it! Were you at ALA this year and I missed you? DRAT! And finally, which of these books are you excited to read?


The Debut Dish: Maria E. Andreu, Mary Crockett, Marilla Mulwane, and Stephanie Romans

July 6, 2014 Author Interview, Debut Author Challenge, Debut Dish 0

The Debut Dish, a Debut Author Challenge feature, is where you go for the scoop on some pretty awesome debut authors and their new books! Hopefully these interviews will inspire you to add many, many more books to your to-read list. Because, really, who doesn’t need more books in their lives?


The Secret Side of Empty by Maria E. Andreu
March 11, 2014 from Running Press Kids
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

As a straight-A student with a budding romance and loyal best friend, M.T.’s life seems as apple-pie American as her blondish hair and pale skin. But M.T. hides two facts to the contrary: her full name of Monserrat Thalia and her status as an undocumented immigrant.

But it’s harder to hide now that M.T.’s a senior. Her school’s National Honor Society wants her to plan their trip abroad, her best friend won’t stop bugging her to get her driver’s license, and all everyone talks about is where they want to go to college. M.T. is pretty sure she can’t go to college, and with high school ending and her family life unraveling, she’s staring down a future that just seems empty. In the end, M.T. will need to trust herself and others to stake a claim in the life that she wants.

Author Maria E. Andreu draws from her personal experience as a (formerly) undocumented immigrant to explore an issue that affects over one million children in the U.S. But while the subject matter is timely, it is M.T.’s sharp, darkly funny voice and longing for a future that makes this story universally poignant.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Undocumented teen facing uncertain future.

Why should readers pick up your book?
There’s a love story, a car chase and a terrible school dance. It’s a regular teen story set against extenuating circumstances. We all hear about undocumented immigrants on the news, but most of us don’t know what growing up undocumented does to the regular teen experience. It’s a story about resilience and hope and love. And her boyfriend! So cute.

What’s the best thing about being a debut author?
Finding out there is this whole community of wonderful writers also going through the wonderful adventure of publishing their first book at the same time you are. You become close – it’s wonderful.

What’s your favorite movie theater candy?
Twizzlers, hands down.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
A rack of test tubes full of paper clips, rubber bands and pushpins. I love that thing.


Dream Boy by Mary Crockett and Madelyn Rosenberg
July 1, 2014 from Sourcebooks Fire
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

Annabelle Manning feels like she’s doing time at her high school in Chilton, Virginia. She has her friends at her lunchtime table of nobodies. What she doesn’t have are possibilities. Or a date for Homecoming. Things get more interesting at night, when she spends time with the boy of her dreams. But the blue-eyed boy with the fairytale smile is just that—a dream. Until the Friday afternoon he walks into her chemistry class.

One of friends suspects he’s an alien. Another is pretty sure it’s all one big case of deja vu. While Annabelle doesn’t know what to think, she’s willing to believe that the charming Martin Zirkle may just be her dream come true. But as Annabelle discovers the truth behind dreams—where they come from and what they mean—she is forced to face a dark reality she had not expected. More than just Martin has arrived in Chilton. As Annabelle learns, if dreams can come true, so can nightmares.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Boy from dream becomes real.

Why should readers pick up your book?
Dream Boy has a fun mix of romance, suspense, and humor—with lively characters that (I hope!) you can really care about.

Plus, it has a totally new take on what it means to dream.

And if that’s not enough, there are cute guys, epic kisses, and a seriously mystical tree.

What’s the best thing about being a debut author?
To me, the best thing is the hope that someone out there might stumble upon Dream Boy and really enjoy it. I want readers to have as much fun with Dream Boy as Madelyn and I had when we were writing it.

What’s your favorite movie theater candy?
I’m a Whoppers fan. And Goobers. Raisinets. Junior Mints! Really anything that involves some sweet or salty or minty thing that is covered with chocolate.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
I don’t really have anything on my desk (or even a desk to call my own), but my shelves next to the family desk are packed with oddities.

So maybe the big plastic troll wearing a hot pink bikini? The Jane Austen action figure? The wooden frogs? The tin dog? The clay mama sculpture with a tiny ball-baby in her womb? Personally, though, I think the oddest thing might be the necklace with a bright green beetle that Madelyn Rosenberg sent me to celebrate our submission of Dream Boy. It’s there in the Harry Potter picture, on the bird tray, near the hair tie with the little yellow balls. That green thing? Yep, it’s a bug. Encased in plastic. On a string. (A bug that died a natural death, I hope.) And call me superstitious, but I wore it for two months straight—except for sleep and showers—until it worked its juju and an offer was made for Dream Boy.

MaryCrockett

Ilmarinen by Marilla Mulwane
July 10, 2014 from illusio & baqer
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

Altana Burrows has always been special.

She’s smart, talented, and quick to learn. She also has a secret, and whenever she tries to tell anyone about it—her friends, her family, the school psychiatrist—they accuse her of letting her imagination run away with her. They don’t believe her. They don’t understand.
They don’t know about Ilmarinen.

They don’t know about the prophecy, or the role Altana will play in it. But the people of Ilmarinen know, and they will help her: a young hunter with a dangerous secret; a talking horse who loves to play; a little girl with a big axe; a beautiful woman in a red dress. Eventually, they will all play a part in Altana’s story, and the fate of a world will rest in their hands.

That is, if they can figure out how to kill a god.

Describe your book in five words or less
Tolkien and Baum’s love child

Why should readers pick up your book?
It’s got vampires, werewolves, castles with knights, demons, anthropomorphic cat people, fauns, flying snakes, talking horses, centaurs, zombies, pygmies, giants, quicksand, mermaids, sea creatures, dragons, wendigoes, furies, killer plants, magic stones, sword fights, great battles, and love.

And, somehow, it all makes sense.

What’s the best thing about being a debut author?
The excitement and anticipation from finally fulfilling a dream, and the hope that it’s only the beginning. I can’t wait until I’ve had so many books published that it becomes the norm.

What’s your favorite movie theater candy?
Sour Patch Kids

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
I can only name one? I have my glow-in-the-dark skull, my amigurmi polycephalic rat, and my Hellraiser puzzle box. It’s impossible to pick just one.


 

Forgetting Allyssa by Stephanie Romans
August 7, 2014 from illusio & baquer
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Amnesia. What better way to start off the senior year of high school?

When seventeen year old Allyssa Bradshaw wakes up from the nap of a lifetime, things aren’t really adding up. Her face feels like it’s gone through the toaster, and she doesn’t recognize the people standing around her—she doesn’t even recognize herself.

Clearly she’s woken up on the wrong side of the hospital gurney.

As she recovers from an attack she doesn’t want to remember, Allyssa is thrown into what feels like someone else’s life. Despite her lack of memories, she heads off to high school determined to start anew. What Allyssa doesn’t expect is the backlash of a life she can’t remember. The more she learns about Old Allyssa the less she wants to have anything to do with her, making this New Allyssa determined to become someone better.

Forgetting Allyssa is a story of love, loss, and identity—who you were does not mean that’s who you are.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Huh? What? Who am I?

Why should readers pick up your book?
I can think of a short list as to why readers should pick up my book.
1. Sarcasm.
2. Romance.
3. There’s a mention of chocolate in there.
4. Violence!
5. And you know… if the zombies attack and this book is the only thing nearby with some weight to it, I suggest it be picked up and used as a bludgeoning device until something with bullets and/or flame throwing capabilities can be reached. Stay alive, America.

What’s the best thing about being a debut author?
The best thing about my debut as an author is that everything after this will be slightly, a little, tiny bit less scary. Maybe.

What’s your favorite movie theater candy?
Does butter count? No? Okay… I’m gonna go with Kit Kat then. Breaking off those succulent sticks is way quieter than struggling with the wrapper on the individually wrapped mini Reese’s peanut butter cups. I mean, c’mon, everyone knows my appetite for chocolate skyrockets in the quietest moments of a movie and I just don’t know if the contemptuous stares from my neighbors is worth that five second peanut butter meltdown on my tongue.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
Oh jeeze. Tough. Tough. I really think it might be a three way tie between the stained glass rooster nightlight, the purple “Ask the Unicorn” self esteem button, and the rubber salmon with “FISH” written in red marker on the belly. No wait, I think it’s a trout.