Month: August 2015

The Debut Dish: Dawn Ius (+ Giveaway), Jackie Lea Sommers (+ Giveaway), Lauren James, & Dawn Kurtagich (+ Giveaway)

Posted August 30, 2015 by Jana in Author Interview, Debut Author Challenge, Debut Dish, Giveaway / 9 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?

Anne & Henry by Dawn Ius
September 1, 2015 from Simon Pulse
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

In this wonderfully creative retelling of the infamous—and torrid—love affair between Anne Boleyn and King Henry VIII, history collides with the present when a sizzling romance ignites in a modern-day high school.

Henry Tudor’s life has been mapped out since the day he was born: student body president, valedictorian, Harvard Law School, and a stunning political career just like his father’s. But ever since the death of his brother, the pressure for Henry to be perfect has doubled. And now he’s trapped: forbidden from pursuing a life as an artist or dating any girl who isn’t Tudor-approved.

Then Anne Boleyn crashes into his life.

Wild, brash, and outspoken, Anne is everything Henry isn’t allowed to be—or want. But soon Anne is all he can think about. His mother, his friends, and even his girlfriend warn him away, but his desire for Anne consumes him.

Henry is willing to do anything to be with her, but once they’re together, will their romance destroy them both?

Inspired by the true story of Anne Boleyn and King Henry VIII, Anne & Henry beautifully reimagines the intensity, love, and betrayal between one of the most infamous couples of all time.

Describe your book in five words or less.
YA Boleyn & King retelling.

Why should readers pick up your book?
The Tudor era has provided storytellers with some of the most compelling history of all time, perhaps none more so than the tragic love story of Anne Boleyn and King Henry VIII. It was both challenging—and thrilling—to see this play out in a modern, high school setting. While there are many parallels between my book and the actual historic events, Anne & Henry is not just a modern retelling, but a tragic romance in its own right.

What’s the best thing about being a debut author?
The process of watching a life long dream come true. Every step of this journey has been so incredible—and I am fortunate to work with such a talented and supportive team of professionals.

What’s your favorite movie theater candy?
Hands down, fuzzy peaches.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
A model car replica of Eleanor, the 1967 Shelby GT 500 Mustang featured in the movie Gone in 60 Seconds. Not only is it my dream car, but it also has a major role in my yet untitled Fall 2016 book.

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Truest by Jackie Lea Sommers
September 1, 2015 from Katherine Tegen Books
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

Silas Hart has seriously shaken up Westlin Beck’s small-town life. Brand new to town, Silas is different than the guys in Green Lake. He’s curious, poetic, philosophical, maddening– and really, really cute. But Silas has a sister– and she has a secret. And West has a boyfriend. And life in Green Lake is about to change forever. Truest is a stunning, addictive debut. Romantic, fun, tender, and satisfying, it asks as many questions as it answers.


Describe your book in five words or less.
Rescue happening all around us.

Why should readers pick up your book?
Truest is a story first about characters– West, a funny, brilliant BOSS of a girl; Silas, a curious, philosophical, goofy-as-all-get-out boy– but it is also a story about ideas. Truest is intended to make readers think. And laugh. And swoon. All of the above.

What’s the best thing about being a debut author?
It’s all so exciting, living my dream of writing books! The best thing is discussing Truest afterward with people who have read and enjoyed it. I’ve set up a Tumblr site ( to help facilitate that. There are also “extras” there– like exclusive scenes, a playlist, and extra details. The password is the last word of Truest!

What’s your favorite movie theater candy?
Milk Duds! Or maybe Junior Mints. Something with CHOCOLATE!

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
A pair of celadon ceramic elephants– Khan Kluay and Khan Sua– who are in love. I found these two online years and years ago and immediately adored them for their entire backstory set in Ayutthaya-era Siam. Though I wasn’t able to buy them at the time, I never forgot these elephants, and just recently, I found them online again! I bought them this time.

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The Next Together by Lauren James
September 3, 2015 from Walker Books
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

How many times can you lose the person you love?

Katherine and Matthew are destined to be born again and again, century after century. Each time, their presence changes history for the better, and each time, they fall hopelessly in love, only to be tragically separated.

Spanning the Crimean War, the Siege of Carlisle and the near-future of 2019 and 2039 they find themselves sacrificing their lives to save the world. But why do they keep coming back? What else must they achieve before they can be left to live and love in peace?

Maybe the next together will be different…

A powerful and epic debut novel for teenagers about time-travel, fate and the timelessness of first love. The Next Together is told through a mixture of regular prose, diary entries, letters, “original” historical documents, news reports and internet articles.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Historical/future reincarnation romance!

Why should readers pick up your book?
It’s full of letters and newspaper clippings and fun cute bits and bobs!

What’s the best thing about being a debut author?
Meeting other authors!

What’s your favorite movie theater candy?
Slush puppies.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
A pebble painted as a cat.

The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich
August 6, 2015 (UK) from Orion / September 5, 2015 from Little, Brown (US)
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

Over two decades have passed since the fire at Elmbridge High, an inferno that took the lives of three teenagers. Not much was known about the events leading up to the tragedy – only that one student, Carly Johnson, vanished without a trace…

…until a diary is found hidden in the ruins.

But the diary, badly scorched, does not belong to Carly Johnson. It belongs to Kaitlyn Johnson, a girl who shouldn’t exist Who was Kaitlyn? Why did she come out only at night? What is her connection to Carly?

The case has been reopened. Police records are being reexamined: psychiatric reports, video footage, text messages, e-mails. And the diary.

The diary that paints a much more sinister version of events than was ever made publicly known.

Describe your book in five words or less.
A twisty tale of untruth.

Why should readers pick up your book?
There is a mystery at the heart of this novel—the nature of who you really are. I’d want to find out :)

What’s the best thing about being a debut author?
Seeing your dreams come alive, meeting the most friendly, wonderful and accepting people on the planet, and realising that something that only existed in your brain is now out there for others to enjoy. Amazing!

What’s your favorite movie theater candy?
I love ice-cream at the movie theatre. Yum!

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
A baby clothes peg (it’s keeping my marie biscuits fresh…!)

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I Can’t Handle Scary Things!

Posted August 28, 2015 by Jana in About Me, Discussion / 21 Comments

Scared-VintageGraphicsFairy1(Image Source)

I can’t read scary books at night because I’m a wimp! For example: Shadowlands by Kate Brian. I read this book over the summer, and it was SCARY. I chose to read it when I did because I was on a road trip with my mom and sister, and I knew I would be sleeping in the same hotel room, driving in the same car, and basically not being alone ever. I read all my mysteries on a cruise ship for the same reason. I’m never alone. I’m this way with a lot of books, hence the reason I pretty much never even touch the horror genre. I was a wimp reading Rebecca last October, and it wasn’t even that scary! Same with The Caged Graves! I’m a total baby. Once upon a time I watched a scary movie and slept with my bedroom door locked. To be extra safe, I made my boyfriend at the time sleep on the couch downstairs by the front door. I love scary, but I can’t do it!

October is coming soon. I love the idea of reading eerie, atmospheric, slightly creepy books during October because it’s getting cold and it’s fall and Halloween is coming. This is why I read Rebecca during this time last year. But I just. Can’t. Handle it! What do I do!? I just finished Daughter of Deep Silence last night and was scared to walk down my dark hall to go to the bathroom. So I didn’t. I just went to sleep buried under all my blankets. COME ON JANA. Suck it up!

What’s the scariest book you’ve ever read? And how do you HANDLE them? Teach me your ways! Not Being a Chicken 101 begins now.

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente | Mini Book Review

Posted August 20, 2015 by Jana in Book Review, Middle Grade / 4 Comments

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente | Mini Book ReviewThe Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making Published by Feiwel and Friends on May 10, 2011
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 247
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Amazon Add to Goodreads
1 Stars
Twelve-year-old September lives in Omaha, and used to have an ordinary life, until her father went to war and her mother went to work. One day, September is met at her kitchen window by a Green Wind (taking the form of a gentleman in a green jacket), who invites her on an adventure, implying that her help is needed in Fairyland. The new Marquess is unpredictable and fickle, and also not much older than September. Only September can retrieve a talisman the Marquess wants from the enchanted woods, and if she doesn’t . . . then the Marquess will make life impossible for the inhabitants of Fairyland. September is already making new friends, including a book-loving Wyvern and a mysterious boy named Saturday.

With exquisite illustrations by acclaimed artist Ana Juan, Fairyland lives up to the sensation it created when the author first posted it online. For readers of all ages who love the charm of Alice in Wonderland and the soul of The Golden Compass, here is a reading experience unto itself: unforgettable, and so very beautiful.

This is one strange little book, with language I’m not sure I would have understood at age 11 or 12, which is the age I would recommend this book to. I think it’s too young for teenagers, but I don’t think I would have liked is as a tween, but I was not a fan of fairy tales at that age. I’m sure I would have liked the wyvern’s (dragon) humor and the cute illustrations at the beginning of each chapter, though. As an adult, I found myself being bogged down by purple prose (and too much of it!) and so many details that I was unable to actually keep track of what was going on.

The writing style is very pretty and ornate, but too much so and the language is too advanced for the age group the book is marketed to. September’s voice is very strong and dynamic, but she does not act her age (12) because of the way she talks and the way she acts (she uses an advanced vocabulary, but at the same time is naïve enough to run away with the Green Wind). There were too many details and it was so overly stylized that I found myself spacing out and losing focus. It made me tired. I also felt that referring to September as being “Ravished” was a bit odd and sexual. Overall, I just wasn’t a fan and am not sure who I would even recommend it to because it does not fit into one specific age group.

Top Ten Auto-Buy Authors (v. 2.0)

Posted August 17, 2015 by Jana in Top Ten Tuesday / 5 Comments


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

I’ve got quite a few beloved authors on my auto-buy list, so I’m trying to keep it to my ten absolute favorites! But then again… aren’t they my favorite if I auto-buy them? UGH. So basically I’m going to type until I’m tired. I wonder how many I’ll come up with!

After scheduling this post, my site notified me that I had already posted this exact TTT in 2013! I had forgotten, so I wrote this without taking that list into account. These lists have some authors in common, but others have been added or taken away. It’s interesting to see what a couple years can do! Go check out my first Top Ten Auto-Buy Authors list!

1. Tracey Garvis-Graves
2. Stephanie Perkins
3. Sarah J. Maas
4. Marissa Meyer
5. Leigh Bardugo
6. Mary Higgins-Clark
7. Veronica Rossi/Noelle August
8. Tessa Dare (I don’t own all of hers, but they are on my list to own once I have money!)
9. Sarah Morgan
10. Jodi Meadows
11. Kate Avery Ellison

It’s not really worth telling you why I chose these authors because… bottom line, I love them. Their books take me to other worlds, give me the swoons, and make me love reading. I really can’t ask for anything more than that.

Which authors do you have on your auto-buy list?

The Debut Dish: John R. McKay (+ Giveaway), Alexandra Sirowy (+ Giveaway), and Kate Elliott

Posted August 16, 2015 by Jana in Author Interview, Debut Author Challenge, Debut Dish, Giveaway / 7 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 Absolution of Otto Finkel by John R. McKay
July 30, 2015 from Pegasus Elliot Mackenzie
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

Brittany: in the summer of 1928, twelve-year-old Jack Graham and his brother Francis befriend the quiet German, Otto Finkel and together with the enigmatic Jean-Luc and virtuous Marco, they are involved in a serious case of misadventure that leaves a man dead and one of the boys disfigured.

The memories for most of them fade with time but for Otto, the mental scarring matches the physical scarring. Is this the reason why, years later, in the turmoil of war, he finds himself as an officer in the Waffen SS?

Largely unbeknown to them, the paths of the schoolboys, now young men, impinge on Otto’s life as each chooses to serve their respective countries in different ways. Following their wartime exploits, from the beaches of Dunkirk to the purge of the Roman ghetto, from the horrors of Drancy Deportation Camp to the Nazi ratlines of post-war Europe. This is a powerful story of war, grief, love and regret.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Moving, educational, emotional and real.

Why should readers pick up your book?
It is a very good story, very well written that will move them to tears at times. It asks questions about human nature and how people behave during times of conflict.
It will keep you hooked to the very end.

What’s the best thing about being a debut author?
It is very exciting to see all your hard work being appreciated and seeing your name on the front cover of a book.

What’s your favorite movie theater candy?
Chocolate revels!

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
My wife!

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The Creeping by Alexandra Sirowy
August 18, 2015 from Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

Twelve years ago Stella and Jeanie vanished while picking strawberries. Stella returned minutes later, with no memory of what happened. Jeanie was never seen or heard from again.

Now Stella is seventeen, and she’s over it. She’s the lucky one who survived, and sure, the case is still cloaked in mystery—and it’s her small town’s ugly legacy—but Stella is focused on the coming summer. She’s got a great best friend, a hookup with an irresistibly crooked smile, and two months of beach days stretching out before her.

Then along comes a corpse, a little girl who washes up in an ancient cemetery after a mudslide, and who has red hair just like Jeanie did. Suddenly memories of that haunting day begin to return, and when Stella discovers that other red-headed girls have gone missing as well, she begins to suspect that something sinister is at work.

And before the summer ends, Stella will learn the hard way that if you hunt for monsters, you will find them.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Summery. Thrilling. Romantic. Suspenseful. Dark.

Why should readers pick up your book?
THE CREEPING isn’t just one thing. It’s a thriller, sure, but it’s also a story about first loves and best friendships and what you’ll risk to save them. It’s a novel about finding your way when the stakes are high; deciding what kind of person you want to be; and facing who you actually are. It will make you wonder, swoon, stare into the shadows, lock your bedroom door at night, and hold your best friend’s hand tighter. That’s why readers should pick up THE CREEPING!

What’s the best thing about being a debut author?
There have been so many thrilling, crazy, wonderful things about it. It’s impossible to say what the absolute best is, but so far, one of my favorite moments was when I handed my mom an ARC (advance reader’s copy) of THE CREEPING. Look, Mom. It’s a real book! Completely surreal.

What’s your favorite movie theater candy?
Sour patch kids, for sure. Lemon and orange are the best. Red next. And I leave the green for last.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
Oh whoa. It’s a toss up between a replica of a Tyrannosaurus Rex tooth and a small wooden statue of a woman in robes, crescent moons at her feet, and a sun at her back. It’s very old and some kind of idol of worship from Scandinavia.

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Court of Fives by Kate Elliott
August 18, 2015 from Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

In this imaginative escape into an enthralling new world, World Fantasy Award finalist Kate Elliott begins a new trilogy with her debut young adult novel, weaving an epic story of a girl struggling to do what she loves in a society suffocated by rules of class and privilege.

Jessamy’s life is a balance between acting like an upper class Patron and dreaming of the freedom of the Commoners. But at night she can be whomever she wants when she sneaks out to train for The Fives, an intricate, multi-level athletic competition that offers a chance for glory to the kingdom’s best competitors. Then Jes meets Kalliarkos, and an unlikely friendship between a girl of mixed race and a Patron boy causes heads to turn. When a scheming lord tears Jes’s family apart, she’ll have to test Kal’s loyalty and risk the vengeance of a powerful clan to save her mother and sisters from certain death.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Jes is a fierce competitor.

Why should readers pick up your book?
A fantasy novel about sisterhood and family loyalty in the wake of treachery, a conquered country ruled within a rigid social hierarchy, a popular game that’s more than it seems, and one girl’s challenge to run the Fives even though it is forbidden to her.

What’s the best thing about being a debut author?
While I’m technically a YA debut author, I’ve been publishing in the SFF field for many years, so this isn’t my first published novel. I love the supportive YA community and the enthusiasm shown by book bloggers for the work they love.

What’s your favorite movie theater candy?
My current favorites are Chiwetel Ejiofor and Tom Hardy.

Oh, you didn’t mean eye candy? In that case, M&Ms.

(Jana Note: Best. Answer. Ever.)

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
My desk is such a mess that anything odd is hidden beneath the stacks of books, notes, and manuscript pages.

The Trouble with Destiny by Lauren Morrill | Book Review

Posted August 13, 2015 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult / 5 Comments

The Trouble with Destiny by Lauren Morrill | Book ReviewThe Trouble with Destiny by Lauren Morrill
Published by Delacorte Books for Young Readers on December 8, 2015
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Contemporary Romance, Romance
Pages: 272
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher (Netgalley)
Amazon Add to Goodreads
0.5 Stars
It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey...

With her trusty baton and six insanely organized clipboards, drum major Liza Sanders is about to take Destiny by storm—the boat, that is. When Liza discovered that her beloved band was losing funding, she found Destiny, a luxury cruise ship complete with pools, midnight chocolate buffets, and a $25,000 spring break talent show prize.

Liza can’t imagine senior year without the band, and nothing will distract her from achieving victory. She’s therefore not interested when her old camp crush, Lenny, shows up on board, looking shockingly hipster-hot. And she’s especially not interested in Russ, the probably-as-dumb-as-he-is-cute prankster jock whose ex, Demi, happens be Liza’s ex–best friend and leader of the Athenas, a show choir that’s the band’s greatest competition.

But it’s not going to be smooth sailing. After the Destiny breaks down, all of Liza’s best-laid plans start to go awry. Liza likes to think of herself as an expert at almost everything, but when it comes to love, she’s about to find herself lost at sea.

*sigh* I’m sorry, but this was a bit of a train wreck for me. I loved Lauren’s other books so very much, so I’m really sad to feel this way. Aside from the cheesiness, which could have been cute under other circumstances, this book is riddled with inaccuracies. Maybe I should not have read it while I was on a cruise… So here are my problems:

1. No school band in the entire world would be able to go on a cruise for free for any reason, much less for less than $25,000. If this band can afford to go on a cruise, but they MUST win $25,000 or the band program is discontinued… isn’t that contradictory? Sure, they won a contest that got them on a ship. But no cruise line would ever hold a contest with this kind of prize, much less have the space to allow for a marching band (or multiple marching bands).

2. The Destiny, a luxury cruise liner, weighs only 50,000 tons but has six sun decks, three pools, a casino, an atrium, “many buffets”, multiple lounges, a spa, and a bowling alley. This is pretty much impossible. Pretty much all of today’s large cruise ships with these features weigh 2-3 times this amount. I was on the Carnival Dream when I read this. That ship weighs 130,000 tons, has three pools, an atrium, one buffet, two lounges, a spa, and a few bars. No bowling alley. I mean, an author can squish anything into anything, so perhaps this ship is really tiny, with really tiny amenities and can hold very few passengers. But it just did not feel realistic to me.

3. There was no lifeboat drill! This is required by international maritime law, and happens before or during the ship’s departure from the original port. But when the ship pulled away, nobody had done the lifeboat drill and there was not even mention of it. Sure, maybe the author just chose to not mention it… but everything else was mentioned!

4. There are so many problems with the ship. It is constantly not working properly. This does not happen. And if it does, it’s a huge deal. It’s very dangerous. It makes the news.

5. A kid threw a drink overboard. Glass and all. You can get in so much trouble! Depending on the deck, that drink most likely blew back into the ship and landed on someone’s balcony or an open deck.

6. Seasickness patches (Scopolamine patches) are not applied to the arm like the book says they are. They are placed behind the ear. And you can’t use more than one like Liza did during the storm. That’d be an overdose, and you’d get pretty sick. One lasts an entire week on a cruise.

7. You are NOT allowed to sleep on deck. Cruise ship workers circle the decks all night and wake people up and make them go to their cabins. It’s a liability.

8. Drum majors (Liza) do not have that much power. And seriously? Where was the band director? Did he throw some empty margarita glass overboard and get confined to quarters? Oh wait…

9. Liza made me want to strangle something. She’s awful! I’m not used to such an unlikeable main character, but she is high strung and annoying and judgmental and a major slut shamer.

10. I was bored. The people are boring. The story is boring. I would have died if I had been on this ship. I would have jumper overboard.

11. THE ANIMAL SIMILES made me want to die. Here are a few:
–  “…shiver like a drowned chihuahua.”
– “…parrot caught in a hairdryer.”
– “…cat caught in a washing machine.”
– “Like cats tap dancing on a chalkboard.”
– Someone was compared to a “coked-up gorilla”.
I could go on.

The premise sounded like so much fun… I love books that take place on cruises, but this one just did not work for me. It did not feel realistic and the romance was nothing to get excited about. Seriously, it was just so silly (in an annoying way) and meh. If you can get past the fact that this story is not at all realistic, maybe you’ll enjoy the silly little teen drama and cattiness. I just felt way too old for this book. I liked the idea, but that was it.

Top Ten Authors I Want to Read More From

Posted August 10, 2015 by Jana in Top Ten Tuesday / 4 Comments


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

I’m putting a spin on this week’s topic, which is actually top ten authors I’ve read the most books by. I used up all my picks over at The Broke and the Bookish (you know I write there, too, right?), though! I tend to jump around from author to author. I read many debut books since I host the Debut Author Challenge, and my favorite authors are new within the the last few years so they only have 2-5 books out right now. I’ve found some other authors I love, though, and really want to go read their backlists! So here they are!

1. Tessa Dare
I love her Castles Ever After series, and can’t wait to get to her Spindle Cove, Stud Club, and Wanton Dairymaid series as well. She knows how to write wit and swoon, for sure.

2. Julie Anne Long
I’m loving Julie’s Pennyroyal Green series, and want to read more of them ASAP!

3. Ally Carter
Ally’s Heist Soceity books were so much fun, and I’ve heard great things about her Gallagher Girls books as well. I also got Embassy Row, the first book in her new series, from my OTSP Secret sister, so I’m excited for that one as well!

4. Shannon Stacey
I’ve read and really enjoyed one of her Kowalski books, and own a few of her standalone Christmas books as well. Hoping to read more of hers soon!

5. Mary E. Pearson
I LOVED Kiss of Deception and have an ARC of Heart of Betrayal I’m hoping will get me out of my reading slump. I won her Jenna Fox series from Brittany at The Book Addict’s Guide a while back, and want to read them even more now that I know I love Mary!

6. Marie Rutkoski
I’ve only read the first book in her Winner’s trilogy so far, but I really liked it. I want to finish that series (book 3 comes out soon!) and also read The Shadow Society, which looks great.

7. Maria V. Snyder
I’ve only read Poison Study, but I want to read EVERYTHING! All the series/trilogies. I hear wonderful things about Maria all the time, so I want to catch up on everything. I feel like she kind of exploded as an author since I picked up Poison Study. So many Maria books now!

8. Kate Avery Ellison
I’ve read a few of her Frost Chronicles books and I just read the first Secrets of Itlantis book, and she is one of my favorite authors. Her writing is amazing! I want to finish both of these series ASAP.

9. Sophie Jordan
I really liked her Firelight books, and I enjoyed Uninvited. I want to read Unleashed and all of her adult historical romances that I’ve heard so many great things about!

10. Sophie Kinsella
I LOVED I’ve Got Your Number, and want to start her Shopaholic series and get in on some of those other cute standalones everyone loves so much.

So! Which books or authors should I start with first? Which books of theirs are your favorites?

The Debut Dish: Anne Boles Levy (+ Giveaway)

Posted August 9, 2015 by Jana in Author Interview, Debut Author Challenge, Debut Dish, Giveaway / 1 Comment

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 Temple of Doubt by Anne Boles Levy
August 4, 2015 from Sky Pony Press
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

It’s been two six-days since a falling star crashed into the marshes beyond Port Sapphire, putting the wilds of Kuldor off-limits to fifteen-year-old Hadara. She feels this loss deeply and is eager to join her mother beyond the city limits to gather illegal herbs and throw off the yoke of her tedious religious schooling. Medicines of any sort are heresy to the people of Port Sapphire, who must rely on magic provided by the god Nihil for aid. And if people die from that magic, their own lack of faith is surely to blame. At least, that’s what Hadara has been taught—and has so far refused to believe.

Hadara and her mother have ignored the priests’ many warnings about their herb gathering, secure in knowing their tropical island is far from Nihil’s critical gaze. Then two powerful high priests arrive from Nihil’s home city to investigate the fallen star, insisting it harbors an unseen demon. This sets off speculation that an evil force is already at work in Port Sapphire and brings one of the holy men to Hadara’s doorstep. When he chooses Hadara as a guide into the wilds, she sets off a chain of events that will upend everything she’s been taught about the sacred and the profane.

The Temple of Doubt is the first installment in a series that follows a teenager who is given a greater destiny and purpose than she could’ve ever imagined.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Teen questions mean god’s religion.

Why should readers pick up your book?
Sometimes magic isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and miracles can amount to so much wishful thinking. This book explores one teen’s journey as she figures out right from wrong for herself, as so many of us have to do in the so-called real world.

What’s the best thing about being a debut author?
I love the support and well wishes from bloggers, authors, readers … pretty much everybody! I feel like it’s my wedding all over again, but I don’t have to hire a caterer. Phew.

What’s your favorite movie theater candy?
That’s easy! I always loved Sno-Caps. The combination of chocolate with the crunchy vanilla bits was always irresistible. Plus, I could dump the leftover “sno” bits in my little brother’s lap and claim it was an “accident.”

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
Hot pink earplugs. The hubby sometimes snores. Sigh.

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Shadowlands by Kate Brian | Mini Book Review

Posted August 6, 2015 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult / 4 Comments

Shadowlands by Kate Brian | Mini Book ReviewShadowlands by Kate Brian
Series: Shadowlands #1
Published by Disney Hyperion on January 8, 2013
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Mystery, Thriller
Pages: 336
Format: Paperback
Source: Gift
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4 Stars
Rory Miller had one chance to fight back and she took it. Rory survived and the serial killer who attacked her escaped. Now that the infamous Steven Nell is on the loose, Rory must enter the witness protection program. Entering the program alongside her, is her father and sister Darcy. The trio starts a new life and a new beginning leaving their friends and family behind without a goodbye.

Starting over in a new town with only each other is unimaginable for Rory and Darcy. They were inseparable as children but now they can barely stand each other. As the sisters settle in to Juniper Landing, a picturesque vacation island, it seems like their new home may be just the fresh start they need. They fall in with a group of beautiful, carefree teens and spend their days surfing, partying on the beach, and hiking into endless sunsets. Just as they’re starting to feel safe again, one of their new friends goes missing. Is it a coincidence? Or is the nightmare beginning all over again?

This book had the makings of everything I love. Serial killer. An escape. Witness protection. Suspense. What’s going on here? Paranoia. Stalking. Relocation to a quaint beach town that has creepy fog roll in at night. Shady people. I was all over this book and so super in love for about 96% of the story. The ending derailed my happiness, and I was frustrated and annoyed that such an amazing book had to end that way! It was honestly such a disappointing ending that I’m not even sure I care to read the other two books in the trilogy.

Kate Brian’s writing style and her ability to scare the living daylights out of you and keep you up all night are amazing. I’ve got no complaints there. I loved her descriptive writing style that made my spine tingle. The suspense was intense. The feeling of the book is very ominous and creepy, and I’m glad I read it while I was on vacation so that I was in a hotel room with my family and not sleeping on my own. I loved the alternating chapters, which go back and forth between Rory’s point of view and the killer’s. This guy is psycho. I liked the characters and feel like more attention was paid to them than most characters receive in a mystery or thriller. I enjoyed reading about them and grew to feel for Rory. I loved the setting of the book. It was the perfect location for a story like this because it was so sweet and friendly on the surface, but was hiding an uncomfortable reality underneath. There was a little romantic intrigue, but not so much that it took away from the creep factor. Really, I have very few complaints.

But the ending. UGH. I finished it, threw my book down on my bed, and immediately began venting to my mom. I remember saying, “I spent all my time on this creepy book, looking for an amazing climax… and THIS is the resolution?” I don’t even know why there are two more books in the trilogy. It’s no longer a mystery or a thriller for me. I don’t want to spoil anything, so I’m not going to ay anything other than the fact that there’s a genre change. If you look on Goodreads and see how this book is classified, you’ll see what I mean. Needless to say, I was so disappointed. I loved everything else about the book, so I’m sad! This is really just a case of the author going in a direction I was not happy about. But oh well. I’m still glad I read it, and I would not refrain from recommending it to others. I would just preface my recommendation with “expect the unexpected.”

Five Fairytale Retellings I Loved and Five I Want to Read

Posted August 4, 2015 by Jana in Top Ten Tuesday / 7 Comments


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

This week we’re talking fairytale retellings! I adore fairytale retellings, and I’m always on the lookout for more. Below you will find five I loved, and five I can’t wait to read.



A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas (Beauty and the Beast)
Cinder by Marissa Meyer (Cinderella)
Scarlet by Marissa Meyer (Little Red Riding Hood)
Cress by Marissa Meyer (Rapunzel)
What is Hidden by Lauren Skidmore (Cinderella)


Uprooted by Naomi Novik (Beauty and the Beast)
The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh (A Thousand and One Nights)
The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury (Aladdin)
Winter by Marissa Meyer (Snow White)
The Great Hunt by Wendy Higgins (Beauty and the Beast)

Honorable mention:
Heartless by Marissa Meyer (Alice in Wonderland)

What fairytale retellings are your very favorites? Which ones are you excited to read? I need more recommendations, so please give me lots!

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