The Debut Dish: Cordelia Jensen, Stephanie Oakes (+ Giveaway), Jen White, and Gina Ciocca (+ Giveaway)

Posted June 7, 2015 by Jana in Author Interview, Debut Author Challenge, Debut Dish, Giveaway / 5 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?

Skyscraping by Cordelia Jensen
June 2, 2015 from Philomel Books
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

A heartrending, bold novel in verse about family, identity, and forgiveness

Mira is just beginning her senior year of high school when she discovers her father with his male lover. Her world–and everything she thought she knew about her family–is shattered instantly. Unable to comprehend the lies, betrayal, and secrets that–unbeknownst to Mira–have come to define and keep intact her family’s existence, Mira distances herself from her sister and closest friends as a means of coping. But her father’s sexual orientation isn’t all he’s kept hidden. A shocking health scare brings to light his battle with HIV. As Mira struggles to make sense of the many fractures in her family’s fabric and redefine her wavering sense of self, she must find a way to reconnect with her dad–while there is still time. Told in raw, exposed free verse, Skyscraping reminds us that there is no one way to be a family.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Uncovering parents’ secrets unhinges girl.

Why should readers pick up your book?
Skyscraping deals with a girl who feels betrayed and hurt by her parents but, ultimately, has to forgive before it is too late. Mira’s own identity undergoes significant change and she ultimately comes to understand–through a grieving process–that there isn’t just one way to be a family. Anyone who has undergone this sort of coming of age experience could relate to Mira’s story. It is also written in free verse with an emphasis on celestial imagery, which will appeal to verse novel readers. It takes place in 1993-94 in New York City so will appeal to readers who are interested in this time and place.

What’s the best thing about being a debut author?
Seeing hard work become an actual real live book.

What’s your favorite movie theater candy?

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
A purple amethyst.

The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly by Stephanie Oakes
June 9, 2015 from Dial/Penguin
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

With a harrowing poetic voice, this contemporary page-turner is perfect for fans of Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak, Julie Berry’s All The Truth That’s in Me, and the works of Ellen Hopkins.

The Kevinian cult has taken everything from seventeen-year-old Minnow: twelve years of her life, her family, her ability to trust.

And when she rebelled, they took away her hands, too.

Now their Prophet has been murdered and their camp set aflame, and it’s clear that Minnow knows something—but she’s not talking. As she languishes in juvenile detention, she struggles to un-learn everything she has been taught to believe, adjusting to a life behind bars and recounting the events that led up to her incarceration. But when an FBI detective approaches her about making a deal, Minnow sees she can have the freedom she always dreamed of—if she’s willing to part with the terrible secrets of her past.

The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly is a hard-hitting and hopeful story about the dangers of blind faith—and the power of having faith in oneself.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Handless girl fights back.

Why should readers pick up your book?
The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly is a story of survival, friendship, and tough girls. I hope readers will be drawn in by Minnow’s story and all that she goes though, but also by the humor and hope she manages to find even in the darkest situations. I also hope it will appeal to fans of unusual fairy tale retellings (it’s a modern-day retelling of “The Handless Maiden”).

What’s the best thing about being a debut author?
There are so many things that it’s really hard to pin down just one, but interacting with readers who’ve already read the book has probably been the coolest part of this experience so far. Readers, bloggers, reviewers—you are the best.

What’s your favorite movie theater candy?
Anything and everything, but my old reliable is red licorice.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
I don’t know if this is odd, but I have a Katniss Barbie on my desk. She’s a little cleaner and more resembling a supermodel than book Katniss, but I love her anyway.

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Survival Strategies of the Almost Brave by Jen White
June 9, 2015 from Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

After their mother’s recent death, twelve-year-old Liberty and her eight-year-old sister, Billie, are sent to live with their father, who they haven’t seen since they were very young. Things are great at first; the girls are so excited to get to know their father – a traveling photographer who rides around in an RV. But soon, the pressure becomes too much for him, and he abandons them at the Jiffy Company Gas Station.

Instead of moping around and being scared, Liberty takes matters into her own hands. On their journey to get home, they encounter a shady, bald-headed gas station attendant, a full-body tattooed trucker, free Continental breakfast, a kid obsessed with Star Wars, a woman who lives with rats, and a host of other situations.

When all seems lost, they get some help from an unlikely source, and end up learning that sometimes you have to get a little bit lost to be found.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Abandoned sisters cross country trip.

Why should readers pick up your book?
If you like a cross country, sisters, journey filled with animal facts, crazy characters, and runaway action that tugs at your heart strings (and quite possibly will make you laugh and cry) then you’ll love the middle grade novel, SURVIVAL STRATEGIES OF THE ALMOST BRAVE.

What’s the best thing about being a debut author?
Do you remember the first time you learned to ride a bike? Or got your drivers license? Remember that feeling of adventure pulsing through your veins? It’s like that. As a debut, every element of the the writing/publishing/promoting process is new and exciting. And I get to meet crazy talented, artistic folk, which is an obvious highlight. I love every bit of it.

What’s your favorite movie theater candy?
Milk Duds. Their name is unfortunate, but maybe that’s why I love them.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
A baby. Well, my two-year-old daughter sitting on my desk, coloring on printer paper. She’s pretty cute, too.

Last Year’s Mistake by Gina Ciocca
June 9, 2015 from Simon Pulse
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

Kelsey and David became best friends the summer before freshman year and were inseparable ever after. Until the night a misunderstanding turned Kelsey into the school joke, and everything around her crumbled—including her friendship with David. So when Kelsey’s parents decided to move away, she couldn’t wait to start over and leave the past behind. Except, David wasn’t ready to let her go…

Now it’s senior year and Kelsey has a new group of friends, genuine popularity, and a hot boyfriend. Her life is perfect. That is, until David’s family moves to town and he shakes up everything. Soon old feelings bubble to the surface and threaten to destroy Kelsey’s second chance at happiness. The more time she spends with David, the more she realizes she never truly let him go. And maybe she never wants to.

Told in alternating sections, LAST YEAR’S MISTAKE is a charming and romantic debut about loving, leaving, and letting go.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Sweet, sexy story of second chances! (“Of” doesn’t count as a word, right?)

Why should readers pick up your book?
It’s a fun, fast-paced read with plenty of angst. It captures the intensity and the drama of two teenagers figuring out who they are while also figuring out what they mean to each other. And if nothing else, the kissing scenes will give you feels.

What’s the best thing about being a debut author?
The best part of being a debut author is having my lifelong dream come true with a story I love and am proud of. That and meeting so many other people who are just as passionate about books as I am. For a long time, I thought I was largely alone in my nerdiness.

What’s your favorite movie theater candy?
Raisinets or Goobers! I’m all about chocolate-covered.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
Definitely a box of gummy boobs. They’re for a friend. Long story!

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5 responses to “The Debut Dish: Cordelia Jensen, Stephanie Oakes (+ Giveaway), Jen White, and Gina Ciocca (+ Giveaway)

  1. I think that some of my favorite retellings are Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles with a Sci-fi Cinderella, a tough Little Red Riding Hood, and Tech savy Rapunzel so far. Although, I did recently Read Sarah J. Maas’s A Court of Thorns and Roses, which is an amazing retelling of Beauty and the Beast.

    As for the strangest thing on my desk, it is a toss up between my Sailor Moon alarm clock, which doesn’t work, or the Tinkerbell that was part of a collector cup drink at Disneyland.
    Layla recently posted…Pure

  2. Jennifer

    The oddest thing on my desk is probably two sheets of washi paper (the colored japanese paper).