Month: March 2015

First Time In Forever by Sarah Morgan | Mini Book Review

Posted March 30, 2015 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Blog Tour, Book Review / 1 Comment

First Time In Forever by Sarah Morgan | Mini Book ReviewFirst Time In Forever by Sarah Morgan
Series: Puffin Island #1
Published by HQN Books on February 24, 2015
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Contemporary Romance, Romance
Pages: 384
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher (Mail)
Amazon Add to Goodreads
4 Stars
Windswept, isolated and ruggedly beautiful, Puffin Island is a haven for day-trippers and daydreamers alike. But this charming community has a way of bringing people together in the most unexpected ways…

It's been a summer of firsts for Emily Donovan. From becoming a stand-in mom to her niece Lizzie to arriving on Puffin Island, her life has become virtually unrecognizable. Between desperately safeguarding Lizzie and her overwhelming fear of the ocean—which surrounds her everywhere she goes!—Emily has lost count of the number of "just breathe" pep talks she's given herself. And that's before charismatic local yacht club owner Ryan Cooper kisses her…

Ryan knows all about secrets. And it's clear that newcomer Emily—with her haunted eyes and the little girl she won't let out of her sight—is hiding from something besides the crazy chemistry between them. So Ryan decides he's going to make it his personal mission to help her unwind and enjoy the sparks! But can Puffin Island work its magic on Emily and get her to take the biggest leap of trust of all—putting her heart in someone else's hands?

I have loved every Sarah Morgan book I’ve read (her O’Neil Brothers trilogy is wonderful), so I was excited when I found out about this new series, Puffin Island, set in a new place, with new people, and new issues. I came away having book enjoyed this book a lot as well!

Sarah Morgan is so great at writing settings you love! I loved the Snow Crystal resort from her O’Neil Brothers books, and Puffin Island is no disappointment. It sounds like the perfect place to escape to if you’re in search of beautiful views and a sweet community of people. Speaking of the people, this book has a lot of fun characters who all know each other and look out for one another. I love small town communities where everyone feels like family, and that’s exactly what Puffin Island is like. It’ll be interesting to see the roles these characters play in the future books of the series.

I really felt for Emily. She’s been thrust into the role of mother after the death of her movie star half-sister, and feels very ill-equipped. She flees to Puffin Island to hide from the press, who are after her story. Ryan understands what hardship is like, as he has been through the ringer himself. They both are content on their own, not wanting to settle down or open themselves up to love. But… these things happen. Their romance is really a story of learning to trust again and healing from their pasts. Things were a little lusty (can Ryan think of anything but sex?) for a while, but I enjoyed their story in the end. Ryan is such a nice guy, and is so great with Emily. He pushes her when she needs to be pushed, but knows when to back off and give her space. One thing’s for sure: he’s not giving up on her no matter how closed off she is. I really liked Ryan.

All in all, this was a great, but a bit of a slow start to Sarah’s new series. I love her writing and the way she brings the reader right in to her stories. I’m excited to read the other books in the series, even though I did not love it as much as her O’Neil Brothers trilogy. Puffin Island is such a wonderful setting, though, and the third book is a Christmas book! So sign me up!


The Debut Dish: Tommy Wallach

Posted March 22, 2015 by Jana in Author Interview, Debut Author Challenge, Debut Dish / 2 Comments

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?

We All Looked Up by Tommy Wallach
March 24, 2015 from Simon & Schuster
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

Four high school seniors put their hopes, hearts, and humanity on the line as an asteroid hurtles toward Earth in this contemporary novel.

They always say that high school is the best time of your life.

Peter, the star basketball player at his school, is worried “they” might actually be right. Meanwhile Eliza can’t wait to escape Seattle—and her reputation—and perfect-on-paper Anita wonders if admission to Princeton is worth the price of abandoning her real dreams. Andy, for his part, doesn’t understand all the fuss about college and career—the future can wait.

Or can it? Because it turns out the future is hurtling through space with the potential to wipe out life on Earth. As these four seniors—along with the rest of the planet—wait to see what damage an asteroid will cause, they must abandon all thoughts of the future and decide how they’re going to spend what remains of the present.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Teenagers. An asteroid. Existential Angst.

Why should readers pick up your book?
Oh Gosh. Because it’s super good? More seriously, I think I’m most proud of the fact that the book really is about how to wring some meaning out of this weird thing we call life. What would you do if you only had six weeks left to live? How would you make sense of what your life even meant? The book tries to answer these really big questions, or at least inspire the reader to think about them. I’m really proud of that.

What’s the best thing about being a debut author?
Meeting so many great authors that I’ve been hearing about for years, and realizing we’re suddenly peers. I did a reading earlier today with David Levithan. It’s a little hard to believe!

What’s your favorite movie theater candy?
Popcorn with lots of butter. I’m not a big candy guy.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
I do most of my work at a coffee shop, so I guess the weirdest thing on this table is the weird neon Fitbit that belongs to the guy sitting next to me. I’ve never seen one that ugly before!

To My Secret Sister #1

Posted March 17, 2015 by Jana in Uncategorized / 2 Comments


I just thought I’d take a moment or two to thank my secret sister and address some questions she had for me in her letter(s)!

#OTSPSecretSister is a 6-month cheer club hosted by The Book Addict’s Guide, Books Take You Places, and Tripping Over Books. I’ve got a secret sister, and I am a secret sister for someone else! The goal is to spread happiness. :)

Hi Sis! (Pretend I’m waving at you!)

First of all, I’m having so much fun with you even though I don’t know who you are yet! I can tell you know me very well, though, and it means so much to know you’re out there somewhere looking out for me and boosting me up when I’m not feeling great, or when I’m stressed out with school! Thanks so much for your generosity and your thoughtful notes. I can’t stress enough how much happiness you’ve brought my way so far!

In your first card to me at the very end of January, you said some of the sweetest things ever! I actually go back and read your card when I’m feeling down. I’m excited that we have so much in common, and that some of my wish list items are books you love! We military brats are pretty awesome people, and the fact that you love old movies too makes me wishing I could invite you over for an oldies marathon! And seriously… your handwriting is just fine! :)

Thanks so much for the Valentine, and for the copy of Nearly a Lady! I’ve heard amazing things about this book, and I cannot wait to read it! I hugged my kitties lots that day and watched a fun old movie: Hello Down There. Have you seen it? It’s one of the silliest, cheesiest movies I’ve seen in a long time, but it was so much fun!


I loved the February package you sent me! It was actually snowing the weekend this arrived, so I slipped those slippers on my feet and fell in love immediately! They are SO cozy! Seriously, you should get some if you don’t have any. They are amazing. We’ve had a super mild winter here overall. Usually there is snow on the ground from October to April (and sometimes it snows in May), but it only snowed on Christmas morning and then again at the end of February. I’m so disappointed! I love snow and winter, so 60 degrees in March is just not fair. Haha. You asked me my favorite season… this is tricky. I love all the seasons, but get tired of them from time to time. My favorites are fall and winter, though, unless I’m in school. Then I crave summer break. Hehe.

I am SO excited to read Graceling! All of a sudden I’m hearing a ton of wonderful things about it, so thank you! And thanks for The Shadow of the Wind! You were worried that it disappeared off my wish list, but don’t worry! I’ve been waffling on it, a little worried I would not love it, but your personal endorsement has me sold and I can’t wait to read it! I absolutely adore the scarf, and got so many compliments when I wore it to church the next day. Many have asked where you got it. :) Finally, the bookmark was adorable. I did go to Korea as a baby, so I did not get any souvenirs. This is perfect, and I love it! :) You mentioned you’re not very good at picking out gifts, but I could not have been more happy with what you’ve sent me!

And thank you for The Girl on the Train! Life was super hard for me last week, and it made me smile to receive such a thoughtful gift in my email. I love mysteries and thrillers, and have heard this one is amazing!

I feel super spoiled and super cared about, so thank you! I’ve been trying to figure out who you are, but I haven’t even got a clue! And that’s fine. :) Keep the mystery as long as you want, because it is so much fun! Hope your semester is going well. :) <3


The Debut Dish: N.K. Traver, Stacey Lee, and Erin Entrada Kelly

Posted March 15, 2015 by Jana in Author Interview, Debut Author Challenge, Debut Dish / 2 Comments

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?

Duplicity by N.K. Traver
March 17, 2015 from Thomas Dunne Books
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

A computer-hacking teen. The girl who wants to save him. And a rogue mirror reflection that might be the death of them both.

In private, seventeen-year-old Brandon hacks bank accounts just for the thrill of it. In public, he looks like any other tattooed bad boy with a fast car and devil-may-care attitude. He should know: he’s worked hard to maintain that façade. With inattentive parents who move constantly from city to city, he’s learned not to get tangled up in things like friends and relationships. So he’ll just keep living like a machine, all gears and wires.

Then two things shatter his carefully-built image: Emma, the kind, stubborn girl who insists on looking beneath the surface – and the small matter of a mirror reflection that starts moving by itself. Not only does Brandon’s reflection have a mind of its own, but it seems to be grooming him for something—washing the dye from his hair, yanking out his piercings, swapping his black shirts for … pastels. Then it tells him: it thinks it can live his life better, and it’s preparing to trade places.

And when it pulls Brandon through the looking-glass, not only will he need all his ill-gotten hacking skills to escape, but he’s going to have to face some hard truths about who he’s become. Otherwise he’ll be stuck in a digital hell until he’s old and gray, and no one will even know he’s gone.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Bad boys. Rogue mirror reflections.

Why should readers pick up your book?
Many books have bad boy love interests – in Duplicity, you get to live inside the mind of one. Told from a teenage hacker’s point of view, Brandon’s far from a perfect hero, even bordering on being the antagonist in the story. There’s the girl who wants to save him – Emma – who’s not exactly the perfect angel she first appears to be, and of course Brandon’s mirror reflection, who may or may not be the good guy. There are also shiny cars, virtual reality zombie games, and a number of fun, unexpected twists and turns.

What’s the best thing about being a debut author?
How new everything is. First cover reveal. First time introducing myself as an author. First time holding my book in my hands. At times it can be terrifying not knowing what to expect, but I love every step of this process.

What’s your favorite movie theater candy?
JUNIOR MINTS. And sometimes gummy bears.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
A fabric place mat. So the cat lays to the side of me instead of on my keyboard.

Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee
March 17, 2015 from GP Putnam’s Sons/Penguin
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

A powerful story of friendship and sacrifice, for fans of Code Name Verity

Missouri, 1849: Samantha dreams of moving back to New York to be a professional musician—not an easy thing if you’re a girl, and harder still if you’re Chinese. But a tragic accident dashes any hopes of fulfilling her dream, and instead, leaves her fearing for her life. With the help of a runaway slave named Annamae, Samantha flees town for the unknown frontier. But life on the Oregon Trail is unsafe for two girls, so they disguise themselves as Sammy and Andy, two boys headed for the California gold rush. Sammy and Andy forge a powerful bond as they each search for a link to their past, and struggle to avoid any unwanted attention. But when they cross paths with a band of cowboys, the light-hearted troupe turn out to be unexpected allies. With the law closing in on them and new setbacks coming each day, the girls quickly learn that there are not many places to hide on the open trail.

This beautifully written debut is an exciting adventure and heart-wrenching survival tale. But above all else, it’s a story about perseverance and trust that will restore your faith in the power of friendship.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Girls disguise themselves as cowboys.

Why should readers pick up your book?
It features a diverse cast in a traditionally white/male setting of the Frontier days of the American West. It’s a friendship story, a romance, and an adventure. And it just got a Kirkus starred review!

What’s the best thing about being a debut author?
Shocking my non-writing friends that I have a life outside what they know of me.

What’s your favorite movie theater candy?
Peanut M&M’s, hands down.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
Ha, good question. That would have to be a piece of driftwood I picked up in Kauai with the word ‘float’ on it.

Blackbird Fly by Erin Entrada Kelly
March 24, 2015 from Greenwillow Books
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

Future rock star, or friendless misfit? That’s no choice at all. In this debut tween novel, twelve-year-old Apple grapples with being different; with friends and backstabbers and following her dreams. For fans of Wendy Mass and Wendelin Van Draanen.

Apple has always felt a little different from her classmates. She and her mother moved to Louisiana from the Philippines when she was little, and her mother still cooks Filipino foods, makes mistakes with her English, and chastises Apple for becoming “too American.” It becomes unbearable in middle school, when the boys—the stupid, stupid boys—in Apple’s class put her name on the Dog Log, the list of the most unpopular girls in school. When Apple’s friends turn on her and everything about her life starts to seem weird and embarrassing, Apple turns to music. If she can just save enough to buy a guitar and learn to play, maybe she can change herself. It might be the music that saves her . . . or it might be her two new friends, who show how special she really is. Erin Entrada Kelly deftly brings Apple’s conflicted emotions to the page in her debut novel about family, friendship, popularity, and going your own way.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Filipino girl. Bullies. The Beatles.

Why should readers pick up your book?
The main character, Apple Yengko, is ashamed of who she is and where she came from. She thinks she deserves to be bullied. Her only escape is music. Specifically, the Beatles. More specifically, George Harrison.

Everyone loves when good trumps bad. Plus, everyone loves the Beatles … right?

What’s the best thing about being a debut author?
The knowledge that it’s only the beginning.

What’s your favorite movie theater candy?
Sno Caps. But I never eat them outside the movie theater for some reason.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
That depends on your definition of “odd.” I’m a huge fan of the original Twilight Zone and I have a Talky Tina Twilight Zone bobblehead on my desk. You press a button and she says things like, “My name is Talky Tina and YOU BETTER BE NICE TO ME” or “My name is Talky Tina and I DON’T LIKE YOU.” Is that odd?

So… I’m Barely Staying Afloat

Posted March 12, 2015 by Jana in About Me / 26 Comments

As I’m sure you’ve noticed, things have been a little sparse over here at That Artsy Reader Girl. It’s not for lack of trying, I assure you! I am unbelievably busy this semester, plus I’ve had some health issues so things are really stressful right now. Many of you probably remember my post with all the titles for my YA literature class this semester. I’m a really slow reader, so all my non-paper-writing time is spent frantically reading as fast as I can. I’m seriously drowning!

So, I’m making my official “things will be a little slow for a little while” announcement. The Debut Author Challenge is not changing at all. The link-ups, Debut Dish posts, and giveaways will go on as scheduled. You just might see fewer reviews, discussions, and Top Ten Tuesday posts until May when the semester ends. I’m all over Twitter, so come see me there if you’re just not getting enough Jana in your life. :)

Wish me luck!

Zeroboxer by Fonda Lee Book Trailer Reveal + Giveaway

Posted March 10, 2015 by Jana in Giveaway / 0 Comments

Hi! I’m pleased to participate in the book trailer reveal for debut author Fonda Lee’s upcoming book, Zeroboxer. Check back next month to see her on the Debut Dish!

This isn’t your usual book trailer. Instead, I wanted to share with you one of my favorite parts of writing Zeroboxer: envisioning and depicting the sport of zeroboxing. How would a combat sport work in the absence of gravity? Check out what these martial artists and fighters have to say about it.

Then enter the giveaway for a chance to win a prize pack of six science fiction and fantasy books from Flux / Llewellyn, including an ARC of Zeroboxer, which releases on April 8!

– Fonda

Zeroboxer by Fonda Lee
April 8, 2015 from Flux
Add to Goodreads

A Sci-Fi Thrill Ride Set in the Action-Packed Sports Arena of the Future

A rising star in the weightless combat sport of zeroboxing, Carr “the Raptor” Luka dreams of winning the championship title. Recognizing his talent, the Zero Gravity Fighting Association assigns Risha, an ambitious and beautiful Martian colonist, to be his brandhelm––a personal marketing strategist. It isn’t long before she’s made Carr into a popular celebrity and stolen his heart along the way.

As his fame grows, Carr becomes an inspirational hero on Earth, a once-great planet that’s fallen into the shadow of its more prosperous colonies. But when Carr discovers a far-reaching criminal scheme, he becomes the keeper of a devastating secret. Not only will his choices place everything he cares about in jeopardy, but they may also spill the violence from the sports arena into the solar system.

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The Debut Dish: Jenn Marie Thorne and Jenny Martin

Posted March 8, 2015 by Jana in Author Interview, Debut Author Challenge, Debut Dish / 2 Comments

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 Wrong Side of Right by Jenn Marie Thorne
March 17, 2015 from Dials Books
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

Fans of Sarah Dessen and Huntley Fitzpatrick will enjoy this smart debut young adult novel, equal parts My Life Next Door and The Princess Diaries—plus a dash of Aaron Sorkin.

Kate Quinn’s mom died last year, leaving Kate parentless and reeling. So when the unexpected shows up in her living room, Kate must confront another reality she never thought possible—or thought of at all. Kate does have a father. He’s a powerful politician. And he’s running for U.S. President. Suddenly, Kate’s moving in with a family she never knew she had, joining a campaign in support of a man she hardly knows, and falling for a rebellious boy who may not have the purest motives. This is Kate’s new life. But who is Kate? When what she truly believes flies in the face of the campaign’s talking points, she must decide. Does she turn to the family she barely knows, the boy she knows but doesn’t necessarily trust, or face a third, even scarier option?

Set against a backdrop of politics, family, and first love, this is a story of personal responsibility, complicated romance, and trying to discover who you are even as everyone tells you who you should be.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Flirty. Heartfelt. Scandalous. Critical. Hopeful.

Why should readers pick up your book?
My first goal was to make it a really fun read–hopefully readers will also be pulled in by the relationships and by Kate’s journey, and will also get a glimpse at a world they might not be that familiar with.

What’s the best thing about being a debut author?
All the wonderful author friends I’ve made! It’s an incredible community, and I feel so fortunate to be a part of it.

What’s your favorite movie theater candy?
Gummi bears. I love miniature things. When I was little, to get myself to eat broccoli, I would pretend to be a giant eating trees. It’s stuck with me.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
A figurine of Jane Austen sitting in the Batmobile. That pretty much sums me up, by the way.

Tracked by Jenny Martin
May 5, 2015 from by Dial Books
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

The Fast and the Furious gets a futuristic twist in this action-packed debut!

On corporately controlled Castra, rally racing is a high-stakes game that seventeen-year-old Phoebe Van Zant knows all too well. Phee’s legendary racer father disappeared mysteriously, but that hasn’t stopped her from speeding headlong into trouble. When she and her best friend, Bear, attract the attention of Charles Benroyal, they are blackmailed into racing for Benroyal Corp, a company that represents everything Phee detests. Worse, Phee risks losing Bear as she falls for Cash, her charming new teammate. But when she discovers that Benroyal is controlling more than a corporation, Phee realizes she has a much bigger role in Castra’s future than she could ever have imagined. It’s up to Phee to take Benroyal down. But even with the help of her team, can a street-rat destroy an empire?

Describe your book in five words or less.
Fast & the Furious meets Firefly.

Why should readers pick up your book?
Short answer: JET PACKS!

Long(ish) Answer: If you’re a science fiction fan, or someone who loves novels with themes that hit close to home, or someone who loves starry-eyed, break-your-heart romance, or someone who loves the sweat-slicked rush of speed-demon adventure, Tracked was written for you! I’ve always loved stories with a balance of heart and action, internal struggle and external peril, small heroes and big worlds. I wanted to write that kind of book, and I hope a few readers will see some of that in Phee’s story. Also…fast cars and jet packs. JET PACKS.

What’s the best thing about being a debut author?
Maybe this is corny, and maybe this is just the librarian in me talking, but so far…the best thing has been surrendering the book, and seeing it in the hands of first readers. I love seeing people experience the story in their own unique way. Each person brings their own hopes and dreams and preferences and imagination to it, as they read, and I absolutely adore that. I love that my story becomes something else. Tracked isn’t mine anymore. It belongs to everyone who picks it up.

What’s your favorite movie theater candy?
Milk duds. Is there any other answer?

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
I write in my big red chair, instead of at a desk. And currently, I guess the weirdest thing on it is my kid, who’s totally bogarting the cushions. But he’s a good weird. The best kind of weird, actually.

Dove Arising Blog Tour | Q&A with Karen Bao

Posted March 3, 2015 by Jana in Author Interview, Blog Tour / 5 Comments

Welcome to my spot along the blog tour for Dove Arising by Karen Bao, hosted by Penguin Teen! Karen is a 2015 debut author of a pretty exciting book about a girl living on the moon (and a whole lot more). I know you’ve already seen here on The Debut Dish, but today we get to learn even more about her!

When did you first come up with the idea for Dove Arising, and how old were you? Did it come out of a particular experience? 

I came up with the idea for Dove Arising when I was seventeen and a senior in high school. I’d just submitted college applications and had many doubts about my future: where would I be next year? What direction would my career take me? Was I ready to leave home?

When Phaet joins Militia, she faces these same questions, but she also deals with many more restrictions on her freedom. Many of these were inspired by my mom’s childhood. At the time, she started telling me about her own experiences in Communist China. Food rationing was a part of life for most people, but Party members still got everything they needed. (Spoiler alert: my mom’s parents weren’t Party members.)

The government banned classical Chinese texts, denied much of recent history, and closed China off from outside influences. My mother’s father, a university professor, was sent to labor camp in the countryside for a decade, and he was absent for most of her childhood. The government needed more scientists for “progress’s sake,” and essentially forced my mom, a straight-A student, to major in chemistry. In many ways, Phaet’s life resembles my mother’s: she also has a missing father and she studies science like crazy, knowing that academic success is the only way out of poverty.

I guess I wrote Dove Arising as an “escape” from real life, but it made me realize how lucky I was to live in a liberal democracy. I could choose which college I wanted to attend, and I could choose what I wanted to study. Also, I could write a book portraying government oppression without fearing for my life.

What are your thoughts on being a female writing science-fiction/fantasy in an often male-dominated genre or category with male main characters?

I feel like I’m writing in a great genre with great company. Authors like Tamora Pierce, Ursula Le Guin, and Octavia Butler sort of paved the way for later female writers in sci-fi/fantasy – and there are a lot of us! Moreover, there’s a growing interest in portraying women, as well as diversity in general. I know male authors who are writing female main characters, and they say it’s easy, just like writing any other person. POC and LGBT characters are also gaining ground. All in all, 2015 is a great time to be a writer!

What’s one of the funniest things that has happened to you during the publication process?

It’s a real challenge to pick the funniest thing that has happened to me in the publication process. I have seen hilarious costumes at Comic Con, had my name spelled “BOA” (like the constrictor) by travel companies, bonded with booksellers about the advantages of wearing leggings instead of real pants, and modeled Dove Arising T-shirts by waving them around like a bullfighter. But perhaps the most laughable incident was when I found out that my book would really take off. Picture this: I’d just taken a shower, so my hair was a wet beehive, and I lunged to pick up my phone (my ringtone sounds like a singing robot). After hearing that Penguin wanted to publish Dove Arising, I was silent. Then I said, “Nawww.” Another pause. Then I squealed and rolled around on the carpet like a happy puppy. I’m glad no one videotaped the scene and shared the footage; I’d lose all professional credibility.

Find Karen at her websiteTwitter, and Facebook.
Add Dove Arising to Goodreads.

So, how does Dove Arising sound to you? What do you think about Karen’s discussion on how she came up with the idea?

The Debut Dish: Becky Wallace (+ giveaway), Mary McCoy (+ giveaway), & David Arnold

Posted March 1, 2015 by Jana in Author Interview, Debut Author Challenge, Debut Dish, Giveaway / 18 Comments

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 Storyspinner by Becky Wallace
March 3, 2015 from Simon & Schuster
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

Drama and danger abound in this fantasy realm where dukes play a game for the throne, magical warriors race to find the missing heir, and romance blossoms where it is least expected.

In a world where dukes plot their way to the throne, a Performer’s life can get tricky. And in Johanna Von Arlo’s case, it can be fatal. Expelled from her troupe after her father’s death, Johanna is forced to work for the handsome Lord Rafael DeSilva. Too bad they don’t get along. But while Johanna’s father’s death was deemed an accident, the Keepers aren’t so sure.

The Keepers, a race of people with magical abilities, are on a quest to find the princess—the same princess who is supposed to be dead and whose throne the dukes are fighting over. But they aren’t the only ones looking for her. And in the wake of their search, murdered girls keep turning up—girls who look exactly like the princess, and exactly like Johanna.

With dukes, Keepers, and a killer all after the princess, Johanna finds herself caught up in political machinations for the throne, threats on her life, and an unexpected romance that could change everything.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Secrets, adventure, murder, & romance!

Why should readers pick up your book?
Because it’s awesome! ;) Honestly, it has a huge cast of characters and readers are guaranteed to find someone they love/hate/relate to!

What’s the best thing about being a debut author?
Seeing all your hard work come to fruition and being surrounded by people who were in the trenches with you!

What’s your favorite movie theater candy?
Junior Mints. Frozen, if you please.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
A TV stacked on plastic containers full of old cassette tapes. I wish I was joking. I share an office with my husband and he plopped a flat screen TV in the middle of our desk to use as a monitor, but it was too low so he used the cassettes to make it “ergonomic.” I sit behind the monstrosity. The view is not so good, but the back of the TV is a great place to put sticky notes.

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Dead to Me by Mary McCoy
March 3, 2015 from Disney-Hyperion
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

LA Confidential for the YA audience. This alluring noir YA mystery with a Golden Age Hollywood backdrop will keep you guessing until the last page.

“Don’t believe anything they say.”

Those were the last words that Annie spoke to Alice before turning her back on their family and vanishing without a trace. Alice spent four years waiting and wondering when the impossibly glamorous sister she idolized would return to her–and what their Hollywood-insider parents had done to drive her away.

When Annie does turn up, the blond, broken stranger lying in a coma has no answers for her. But Alice isn’t a kid anymore, and this time she won’t let anything stand between her and the truth, no matter how ugly. The search for those who beat Annie and left her for dead leads Alice into a treacherous world of tough-talking private eyes, psychopathic movie stars, and troubled starlets–and onto the trail of a young runaway who is the sole witness to an unspeakable crime. What this girl knows could shut down a criminal syndicate and put Annie’s attacker behind bars–if Alice can find her first. And she isn’t the only one looking.

Describe your book in five words or less.
LA Confidential meets Veronica Mars.

Why should readers pick up your book?
My favorite kinds of books are ones where crime is perpetrated and/or solved, secrets are buried and/or uncovered, and vengeance is sought and/or justice is won. So I decided to write a book with all of those things in it.

What’s the best thing about being a debut author?
Selling and publishing a book is wonderful, but the best part is the feeling you get when you type the last sentence. Knowing that there was a story you wanted to tell, and that you saw it through all the way to the end, and you TOLD it – that’s the best thing.

What’s your favorite movie theater candy?
M&Ms mixed in with popcorn.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
A book called You Can Escape. It was published in 1929 and is an inspirational how-to manual filled with stories of people who have successfully broken out of prison.

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Mosquitoland by David Arnold
March 3, 2015 from Viking Children’s
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

I am a collection of oddities, a circus of neurons and electrons: my heart is the ringmaster, my soul is the trapeze artist, and the world is my audience. It sounds strange because it is, and it is, because I am strange.

After the sudden collapse of her family, Mim Malone is dragged from her home in northern Ohio to the “wastelands” of Mississippi, where she lives in a medicated milieu with her dad and new stepmom. Before the dust has a chance to settle, she learns her mother is sick back in Cleveland.

So she ditches her new life and hops aboard a northbound Greyhound bus to her real home and her real mother, meeting a quirky cast of fellow travelers along the way. But when her thousand-mile journey takes a few turns she could never see coming, Mim must confront her own demons, redefining her notions of love, loyalty, and what it means to be sane.

Told in an unforgettable, kaleidoscopic voice, Mosquitoland is a modern American odyssey, as hilarious as it is heartbreaking.

Describe your book in five words or less.

Why should readers pick up your book?
I wrote Mosquitoland during an especially emotional time of my life. My wife was pregnant (surprise!) with our first child, and we decided I would be a stay-at-home dad. This wasn’t really part of the plan, and I ended up discovering a few ugly corners of myself I hadn’t encountered before. In a lot of ways, writing this book was my response to those corners, and I think the end result is something far more honest than I would have written otherwise. Not really sure if that answers your question. (Sorry!) Let’s try again. Any reader looking for a book that wears its heart on its sleeve might enjoy Mosquitoland. How’s that?

What’s the best thing about being a debut author?
There’s this wonderful community of writers publishing debut novels next year, and what’s great about it is we all get to share in each other’s excitement. I was in music for years, and generally, music people see the industry as a zero sum game. But that’s not true of book people. We can celebrate when good things happen to someone else, because they’re our friends. Again, I’m speaking generally — there are always exceptions. But I’ve made some of my very best friends through this process. Specifically, Adam Silvera (MORE HAPPY THAN NOT, Soho, 6.16.15), Becky Albertalli (SIMON VS. THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA, Balzer + Bray, 4.7.15), and Jasmine Warga (MY HEART AND OTHER BLACK HOLES, Balzer + Bray, 2.10.15). Additionally, I have the privilege of being friends with Courtney Stevens (FAKING NORMAL, HarperTeen) who is basically a guru at this stuff. I may be publishing a book without those guys, but I certainly wouldn’t be having as much fun doing it.

What’s your favorite movie theater candy?
Hmm. Not a huge candy guy. I’d probably get popcorn. (That said, dessert-wise, I love tiramisu and coffee ice cream.)

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
Uh, I don’t have a desk. I’m currently writing this on my mom’s kitchen counter. So… a bowl of apples? No, wait. There’s this little Santa figurine/candle thingy. It’s kinda creeping me out.

Debut Author Challenge 2015 – March Link-Up

Posted March 1, 2015 by Jana in Debut Author Challenge / 1 Comment

DAC2015CTWhoa. February was short! I almost completely missed March 1st. But what an amazing month it was! We linked up so many reviews!

Congratulations to Shannon at It Starts at Midnight, who won February’s prize pack! Shannon won a signed hardcover of City of Savages by Lee Kelly, Shutter by Courtney Alameda, and a bunch of swag (seriously SO MUCH SWAG).

Now, we’re on to March! I’m so excited that we’re getting closer and closer to spring, the days are getting longer, and there are some great debuts coming out this month, including The Storyspinner by Becky Wallace, Duplicity by N.K. Traver, and Mosquitoland by David Arnold!

I can’t wait to see what you read this month. :) Good luck!

Some things to remember:

– It’s never too late to join the fun! If you’d like to join or make sure you’re signed up, there is a sign-up list and list of participants located in the DAC 2015 Info tab at the top of my blog.

– Make sure to follow me at @debutauthorc for all the Debut Author Challenge news, including flash giveaways, Debut Dish post highlights, and information on our favorite authors!

– I’m here if you have any questions at all, so don’t hesitate to shoot me a message via Twitter or comment or homing pigeon.

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