Month: September 2015

Most Adorkable Moment | First & Then Book Superlative Blog Tour (+ Giveaway)

Posted September 30, 2015 by Jana in Blog Tour, Giveaway, Guest Post / 6 Comments


Welcome to my spot along the First & Then blog tour! And what a fun tour it is! Macmillan has put together a senior superlatives blog tour to celebrate high school and Emma Mills and her debut book, First & Then! Each stop along the tour has its own senior superlative (like the ones given out in the yearbook every year), and those bloggers get to share their favorite books that fit the theme of the superlative! Emma is appearing on many of the blogs to discuss her high school life and talk about her book. It has been a very fun tour so far!

So, my superlative is SO much fun! It’s “Most Adorkable Moment”. Instead of moments, I’m going to be talking about five of my very favorite adorkable boys in YA lit! Before I jump in, though, let’s define “adorkable”. Urban dictionary says it best:


This list was so much harder to compile than I thought it would be! I’ve got so many book boyfriends, and I tend to gravitate towards the adorkable ones. It can be so hard to explain why a boy is adorkable, though. You just have to read about him and see him in action to get the full picture. So basically… read all of the following books, but don’t steal my boyfriends!


Dash from Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan– He’s a quirky bookish hipster nerd whose biggest wish in life is to own his own 22-volume Oxford English Dictionary.

Captain Carswell Thorne from The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer – He’s full of so much snark and sarcasm. I just know his one-liners will be referenced forever. In Cress he becomes so tender and sweet and you can tell he’s embarrassed by it. So adorkable.

Rowan from Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard – He’s this reformed bad-boy with a travel bug who hops around from destination to destination teaching diving courses and backpacking to hole-in-the-wall hostels where everyone already knows him. He just sounds pretty darn amazing. He’s really mysterious and hardened, but a softy when his walls are torn down. And even better: he’s bookish.

Julien from Starry Nights by Daisy Whitney – He is such a sweet, caring guy who loves art. Literally. He spends all of his free time wandering the art museum, and ends up falling in love with a girl in a Renoir painting. They spend time floating on a boat in Van Gogh’s Starry Night, they dance in another, they watch Swan Lake performed by Degas’s dancers, they spend an afternoon on the bridge in Monet’s garden.

Jason from Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill – He calls Julia Book Licker! Come on! He is her polar opposite, her arch nemesis, and the thorn in her side. But he’s funny and suave and cute, and he’s getting her to do all these new things and experience London in a way that she never predicted. And he can be so sweet and concerned sometimes. And boy, does he pick on her! I loved watching him burrow his way into the little soft spot she formed for him. His dorkiest moment is when he gets drunk… hilarious.

Which of my choices do you agree with? Who am I missing?

Emma Mills’s Most Adorkable High School Moment

“Adorkable” is probably pretty subjective, but if I had to pick out one high school moment of mine that could likely be termed as such, it would likely be when my friends and I staged and filmed a recreation of the Battle of the Rohan in our high school cafeteria. It was a follow-up to the LOTR: Fellowship of the Ring that we re-created (scene by scene!) in junior high. We loved those films, and wanted to put our own spin on them!

I still have the footage. Needless to say, it doesn’t quite hold up, but it makes me chuckle nonetheless!

First & Then by Emma Mills
Published by Henry Holt and Company on October 13, 2015
Genres: Romance, Contemporary, Young Adult
Amazon • Add to Goodreads

Devon Tennyson wouldn’t change a thing. She’s happy watching Friday night games from the bleachers, silently crushing on best friend Cas, and blissfully ignoring the future after high school. But the universe has other plans. It delivers Devon’s cousin Foster, an unrepentant social outlier with a surprising talent for football, and the obnoxiously superior and maddeningly attractive star running back, Ezra, right where she doesn’t want them first into her P.E. class and then into every other aspect of her life.

Pride and Prejudice meets Friday Night Lights in this contemporary novel about falling in love with the unexpected boy, with a new brother, and with yourself.

Make sure you visit all the other blogs on this tour for more great book recommendations! I’ve had so much fun jumping around, and I hope you do too! And don’t forget to enter to win your own copy of First & Then! This giveaway is sponsored by Macmillan, so thanks to them!


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The Detour by S.A. Bodeen | Blog Tour Mini Book Review

Posted September 28, 2015 by Jana in Blog Tour, Book Review, Young Adult / 0 Comments

The Detour by S.A. Bodeen | Blog Tour Mini Book ReviewThe Detour by S.A. Bodeen
Published by Feiwel and Friends on October 6, 2015
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Thriller
Pages: 224
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher (Mail)
Amazon Add to Goodreads
3 Stars
On her way to a writer’s conference, a bestselling teenage author takes a detour that has been deliberately set up by her biggest fans—a mother and daughter who kidnap her.

Livvy Flynn is a big deal—she’s a New York Times-bestselling author whose YA fiction has sold all over the world. She’s rich, she’s famous, she’s gorgeous, and she’s full of herself.

When she’s invited to an A-list writer’s conference, she decides to accept so she can have some time to herself. She’s on a tight deadline for her next book, and she has no intention of socializing with the other industry people at the conference.

And then she hits the detour. Before she knows it, her brand new car is wrecked, she’s hurt, and she’s tied to a bed in a nondescript shack in the middle of nowhere. A woman and her apparently manic daughter have kidnapped her. And they have no intention of letting her go.

Welcome to my spot along the blog tour for The Detour by S. A. Bodeen! I really love thrillers and mysteries because they have the power to grab you immediately and not let go until the very end. When I’m in a reading slump, I pick up a thriller. That’s what I did in this case as well! It has been quite some time since I read a book that I was so excited about that I chose to read it instead of watching Netflix. lol. I’m in a major slump, and have been for the better part of the year. The Detour is a quick, fast-paced, tension-filled read that had me very curious and eager to answer my questions.

While the book was not scary, it was creepy and uncomfortable. The people who took Livvy are insane. I kept wondering what they were going to put her through next. And why did they kidnap her? I enjoyed the mostly believable plot, and I liked that Livvy is a teen author. I always love books that involve bookish characters. I just wish I liked her more. Livvy is stuck up and pretentious, not to mention downright rude, and I had a hard time hoping the best for her. I already mentioned I did not like the other characters, so… it’s hilarious that I enjoyed this book as much as I did! I cared more about the story than the characters, so my not liking them did not detract from my enjoyment of the book. The action is fast-paced and there were moments I was scared for Livvy. Luckily the book was a little shorter so I could power through and solve the mystery.

Overall, I enjoyed The Detour very much. It’s an entertaining, quick read that is perfect for getting you in the mood for Halloween… without keeping you up all night. Give it a shot if you’re looking for something to grab you immediately!

The Debut Dish: Laurel Gale and Lindsay Francis Brambles (+ Giveaway)

Posted September 27, 2015 by Jana in Author Interview, Debut Author Challenge, Debut Dish, Giveaway / 3 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?

Dead Boy by Laurel Gale
September 29, 2015 from Crown Books for Young Readers
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

A darkly funny and literary debut novel about a dead boy named Crow who has a chance at friendship – and a chance at getting his life back

Just because you’re dead doesn’t mean you don’t deserve a life.

Crow Darlingson died in the 4th grade. But he’s still alive. And growing, actually. He can’t eat or taste anything, his body parts sometimes fall off (mom always sews them back on, though), and he’s only allowed to leave his house once per year, on Halloween.

Crow’s parents are separating, and despite their reassurances, he’s pretty sure it’s his fault. After all, having an undead son can’t be much easier than being one. Sneaking out at night only makes things worse, but he can’t resist the chance at a real friendship with Melody Plympton, the new girl next door, who loves mystery more than she minds the stink of his flesh or the maggots that sometimes crawl out of his nose.

Together they investigate the mysterious Meera – a monster living in the nearby park. Logic and fear tell Crow to stay away, but fuzzy memories lure him on. When Crow and Melody venture into its underground lair, Crow’s not just risking the half-life he clings to. He’s also risking the only friend he’s had in years.

The importance of friendship is crystallized as Crow and Melody face tests of loyalty, courage, and honor in this macabre middle grade novel by a debut author.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Funny, sweet, but also maggoty.

Why should readers pick up your book?
Dead Boy has a lot of adventure in it, but it also has plenty of heart and more than a little dark humor. I’d recommend it to anyone looking for a fun middle grade read. (Okay, I’d recommend it to anyone period, but I’m possibly just a tiny bit biased.)

What’s the best thing about being a debut author?
Having such a talented artist illustrate the things that used to exist only in my heart.

What’s your favorite movie theater candy?

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
My feet.

Becoming Darkness by Lindsay Francis Brambles
October 1, 2015 from Switch Press
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

Like everyone else living in Haven, seventeen-year-old Sophie Harkness is an Immune–a carrier of the genetic mutation that protects her from the virus Hitler unleashed upon the world more than half a century ago. A virus that wiped out most of humanity and turned two-hundred million people into vamps. But after her best friend is brutally murdered and several attempts are made on her own life, Sophie becomes determined to find answers to what seems to be a conspiracy running generations deep. And when she questions the peace treaty that keeps her small community protected, Sophie begins to discover terrible truths about herself and what it means to be human in a world ruled by darkness.

Lindsay Brambles’ debut young adult novel is a story of an alternate universe: Hitler won the war, our modern technologies never evolved, and the Nazis’ terrifying reign still continues. This fast-paced novel will appeal to readers who guzzle up genre mashups and are looking for a fresh hybrid to sweep them away.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Alternate history dystopian mystery mashup.

Why should readers pick up your book?
It would be pretentious of me to suggest I’ve written something that is unlike anything else out there, but if you enjoy a book with a plot that contains numerous unexpected twists and turns, that makes you think it’s going in one direction and then unexpectedly yanks you in another, then this may be the book for you. It’s an alternate history where the path that history took during World War II is markedly different from that of our own world, resulting in a dystopian setting in which the main character, Sophie Harkness, gets drawn into a mystery and conspiracy generations deep — one that has at its core a secret that will shake the very foundations of her perceptions of the world she lives in.

I wrote Sophie to be seriously flawed; I wanted her to be believable. So she starts out a naïve, seventeen year old woman who has lived a somewhat cloistered life, and because of this she’s unprepared for what confronts her. As a consequence, she makes a lot of foolish, frustrating choices. But she’s also determined, stubborn, a bit impulsive, and full of a moral certainty as to how the world should work — all traits that work for her and against her. So if you want a book in which the main character is far from perfect and doesn’t end up perfect at the end but does end up altered by her experiences, then you should enjoy this.

BECOMING DARKNESS is a mashup of genres, so you not only get alternate history, but also dystopia, some vampire and gothic horror, a touch of romance, dashes of action-thriller and a healthy dollop of mystery. I was inspired by Bram Stoker’s DRACULA, Philip K. Dick’s THE MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE, and real life events — including some elements of my own life. At the same time, I tried hard to make the book as original as possible. And while there’s nothing new under the sun, as the saying goes, I do hope readers will find this different from anything else they’ve read.

Of course, I also want people to get other things out of the book besides a rollercoaster ride of entertainment. I’d like it to challenge their notions of what is and isn’t morally right — without making that choice for them. If readers come away thinking about that sort of thing, then that’s great. However, I won’t be disappointed if they finish the book feeling nothing more than entertained. A book if successful, after all, should be many different things to many different people. Each reader will take away from it something uniquely personal. In that respect, the book becomes the reader’s and is no longer the writer’s.

As a writer, I don’t expect to change the world with a book. But if I can generate some sort of emotional response from a reader, then I’ll feel I’ve achieved something. Ultimately, I believe, that’s the objective of all art, regardless of form.

What’s the best thing about being a debut author?
Well, of course, I’m new to all this, so I’ve had a lot of experiences in the last few years that have been pretty incredible. For me, from my relationship with my agent to my dealings with Switch Press, everything has been simply fantastic and a really joy. But hands down the greatest reward has to be the readers.

For years I basically wrote for myself and turned out a lot of books I never had any intention of seeking to publish because I just didn’t think them worthy. But after I finished BECOMING DARKNESS, I thought I finally had something others might actually like to read. So now that the book is out there and I’m getting feedback from people I don’t know (as opposed to friends and family), the feeling is sublime.

I realize that not everyone is going to like my book, but whenever someone does and expresses that, I am overwhelmed. Each time it happens, it’s like opening a present and finding inside the very thing you so passionately wished for. It makes all the long hours spent alone writing more than worth it.

The only thing that may come close to that is when I finally see my book sitting on the shelves at a bookstore. That’s a dream I’ve had since I was a kid, and I’ll definitely savor it. But the readers are still number one, and they should be. After all, what is a writer without readers? Readers make a writer who he/she is; they’re responsible for a writer’s success or failure — in the sense that once a book is released, it’s out of the writer’s hands and the readers have control. If they buy the book and like it, then as a writer I may get the chance to write another, which is what I really want to do.

What’s your favorite movie theater candy?
I have a weakness for Reese’s Pieces. I’m afraid I could consume copious amounts of them if I wasn’t disciplined. Fortunately, I am (disciplined), otherwise I’d probably be the size of a house.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
I’d love to be able to say a tyrannosaurus rex tooth or a canopic jar from ancient Egypt or something equally intriguing, but it’s a little more mundane and considerably less exotic than either of those.

Right now my desk is littered with notebooks full of ideas and roughed out scenes, reference books, some electronic stuff, a soldering iron, and a toy tin rocket that’s a replica of one I had when I was about four years old. Not exactly a plethora of esoteric, so I guess the rocket would have to constitute the oddest of this lot.

The rocket is one you rev up by rolling it a few times on the ground, then let it go. When it hits the wall the metal probe at the tip triggers a release that makes the rocket stand upright on its fins. A door in the side pops open and a ladder comes down.

I’ve loved space since I can remember, and rockets have always been a big thing with me. That toy is a reminder of some great times I had as a child — a connection to a past I recall with increasing fondness as I get older.

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Heart-Shaped Hack by Tracey Garvis-Graves | Book Review

Posted September 21, 2015 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 1 Comment

Heart-Shaped Hack by Tracey Garvis-Graves | Book ReviewHeart-Shaped Hack by Tracey Garvis Graves
Series: Kate and Ian #1
Published by Self on August 25, 2015
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Contemporary Romance, Romance
Pages: 277
Format: eARC
Source: Author
Amazon Add to Goodreads
4 Stars
When Kate Watts abandoned her law career to open a food pantry in Northeast Minneapolis, she never dreamed it would be this difficult. Facing the heartbreaking prospect of turning hungry people away, she is grateful for the anonymous donations that begin appearing at the end of each month. Determined to identify and thank her secret benefactor, she launches a plan and catches Ian —a charismatic hacker with a Robin Hood complex—in the act.

Ian intrigues Kate in a way no man ever has. But after learning he’s snooped around on her personal computer, she demands retribution. Impressed with her tolerance and captivated by her spirit, he complies and begins to slowly charm his way past her defenses. Time spent with Ian is never boring, and Kate soon finds herself falling for the mysterious hacker.

But Ian has enemies and they’re growing restless. In the hacking world, exploiting a target’s weakness is paramount, and no price is too high to stop an attack. And when Kate learns exactly how much Ian has paid, she’ll discover just how strong her love is for the man who has hacked his way into her heart.

There’s never been a question about my love for Tracey Garvis-Graves’s books. I will always read anything she writes because she grabs you immediately, immerses you in a story with wonderful characters, and leaves you wishing she would write you a book every week. Heart-Shaped Hack is another title I’m adding to my list of reasons to love Tracey. As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. Tracey likes to be unique. Every book she has ever written has never been written before. She keeps throwing in elements that make the story fresh, and I love that. Our main guy, Ian, is a computer hacker philanthropist. He’s basically Robin Hood. Can’t say I’ve ever read a book about a guy like him, and I’m pretty sure that if I did I would not like it as much.

2. Ian’s snark is probably my favorite thing about the entire book. He is blunt and cocky and has absolutely no filter. Everything in his life is gray. There’s no black or white, wrong or right. Everything is just Ian. He dissolves boundaries and can charm his way into anything. He finds Kate several times because he hacks into her credit card history to discover where she is. And then he goes there. And then he tells her how he found her. And he’s so charming and sexy that it doesn’t even matter that he’s spying on her! As much as he likes her, he turns their relationship into something SHE has to work for. Not only did he capture her heart against her will, he made her pursue him! This guy is something. And the master of the swoons.

3. Kate reminds me of myself. She’s following her dreams and living a relatively simple, quiet, almost cautious life. She cares a lot about helping others and making a difference in the world. I liked that Ian bugged the crap out of her in the beginning. She rolled her eyes at him and threw his cockiness back in his face countless numbers of times, and the banter that ensued had me giggling and turning the pages as quickly as I could.

4. Ian challenges Kate to break down walls and take risks, and Kate challenges Ian to be open and caring. These two are great together!

5. A hacker’s life is a dangerous life, and Ian’s attachments to Kate (and his desire to stay in one place for too long) bring with them a scary situation that nobody anticipated. I loved the mystery and the danger surrounding this part of the story, even though my heart is a little worse for wear as a result.

6. I feel like this book was really well researched! Garvis-Graves does a great job of portraying the life of a hacker.

7. The writing style is, as always with Tracey, amazing! I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. She knows how to grab you immediately and never let go. And, even though I read an ARC, I did not find one typo or grammatical error. I noticed the same thing when I read her self-published On the Island back in the day. Tracey pays attention to every detail, and that’s why her stories are perfect. She’s just that good!

8. There were more sexytimes than I’m used to with her books, but I can kind of see why that was necessary for these particular characters. I wish there had been a little less, though, because I was blushing way too much!!

I can’t wait for the sequel, White-Hot Hack, which I know I’ll be bugging Tracey about over the next few months. I’m excited to see where Ian and Kate go from here! I still stand by my bold proclamation that I will read anything Tracey ever writes. Definitely give this book a shot if you like words.

The Debut Dish: Marci Lyn Curtis (+ Giveaway), Mackenzie Lee, & Mikaela Everett (+ Giveaway)

Posted September 20, 2015 by Jana in Author Interview, Debut Author Challenge, Debut Dish, Giveaway / 4 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 One Thing by Marci Lyn Curtis
September 8, 2015 from Disney-Hyperion
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

Maggie Sanders might be blind, but she won’t invite anyone to her pity party. Ever since losing her sight six months ago, Maggie’s rebellious streak has taken on a life of its own, culminating with an elaborate school prank. Maggie called it genius. The judge called it illegal.

Now Maggie has a probation officer. But she isn’t interested in rehabilitation, not when she’s still mourning the loss of her professional-soccer dreams, and furious at her so-called friends, who lost interest in her as soon as she could no longer lead the team to victory.

Then Maggie’s whole world is turned upside down. Somehow, incredibly, she can see again. But only one person: Ben, a precocious ten-year-old unlike anyone she’s ever met.Ben’s life isn’t easy, but he doesn’t see limits, only possibilities. After awhile, Maggie starts to realize that losing her sight doesn’t have to mean losing everything she dreamed of. Even if what she’s currently dreaming of is Mason Milton, the infuriatingly attractive lead singer of Maggie’s new favorite band, who just happens to be Ben’s brother.

But when she learns the real reason she can see Ben, Maggie must find the courage to face a once-unimaginable future… before she loses everything she has grown to love.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Troubled blind girl sees boy.

Why should readers pick up your book?
The story has a little something for everyone. Hilarity. Tears. Romance. Friendship. Family.

If you were to turn the book on end and give it a shake, you’d probably rattle out an Everest’s worth of emotion (every sort of emotion, really—intense, lighthearted, and otherwise), so readers who are fans of “the feels” will probably like this story.

What’s the best thing about being a debut author?
I’m a character-based writer, so hands down the best thing is sharing my characters with everyone. It’s like introducing my best friends to the world.

What’s your favorite movie theater candy?
Oh, man. Dark chocolate M&M’s.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
Ha! Well, my “desk” is wherever I lug my laptop, generally the kitchen table, which currently holds 1) a garage door instillation manual, 2) a note for my next book that says, “Don’t forget the naked guy,” and 3) a screwdriver. I don’t know which one of these is the oddest. Which probably says a lot about me as a human being.

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This Monstrous Thing by Mackenzie Lee
September 22, 2015 from Katherine Tegen Books
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

In 1818 Geneva, men built with clockwork parts live hidden away from society, cared for only by illegal mechanics called Shadow Boys. Two years ago, Shadow Boy Alasdair Finch’s life shattered to bits.

His brother, Oliver—dead.

His sweetheart, Mary—gone.

His chance to break free of Geneva—lost.

Heart-broken and desperate, Alasdair does the unthinkable: He brings Oliver back from the dead.

But putting back together a broken life is more difficult than mending bones and adding clockwork pieces. Oliver returns more monster than man, and Alasdair’s horror further damages the already troubled relationship.

Then comes the publication of Frankenstein and the city intensifies its search for Shadow Boys, aiming to discover the real life doctor and his monster. Alasdair finds refuge with his idol, the brilliant Dr. Geisler, who may offer him a way to escape the dangerous present and his guilt-ridden past, but at a horrible price only Oliver can pay…

Describe your book in five words or less.
Steampunk Frankenstein starring two brothers.

Why should readers pick up your book?
1. It is a steampunk book that is not set in Victorian England and has no magic.
2. The story centers around a sibling relationship, not a romantic one.
3. There are old-school cyborgs.
4. It is set in steampunked alternate history 1818 Switzerland. STEAMPUNK SWITZERLAND.
5. It features more gears, Coleridge, dissections, half-human monsters, book throwing, automatons, clock towers, unsexy kissing, spiced wine, and Christmas markets than almost any other YA historical fantasy book out there. 99% Guaranteed.

What’s the best thing about being a debut author?
Getting to meet and talk to people (both online and in person) who are excited about the things I am writing.

What’s your favorite movie theater candy?
REDVINES. Always Redvines. Which are sadly very tricky to find on the East coast.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
Two plastic dinosaurs, a t-rex and a stegosaurus, a la Wash in Firefly.

The Unquiet by Mikaela Everett
September 22, 2015 from Greenwillow Books
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

For most of her life, Lirael has been training to kill—and replace—a duplicate version of herself on a parallel Earth. She is the perfect sleeper-soldier. But she’s beginning to suspect she is not a good person.

The two Earths are identical in almost every way. Two copies of every city, every building, even every person. But the people from the second Earth know something their duplicates do not—two versions of the same thing cannot exist. They—and their whole planet—are slowly disappearing. Lira has been trained mercilessly since childhood to learn everything she can about her duplicate, to be a ruthless sleeper-assassin who kills that other Lirael and steps seamlessly into her life.

An intricate, literary stand-alone from an astonishing new voice, The Unquiet takes us deep inside the psyche of a strong teenage heroine struggling with what she has been raised to be and who she really is. Fans of eerily futuristic and beautifully crafted stories such as Never Let Me Go, Orphan Black, and Fringe will find themselves haunted by this unsettling debut.

Describe your book in five words or less.
A coming-of-age assassin story.

Why should readers pick up your book?
The Unquiet is about a girl who has been trained to be an assassin in a war between two Earths and wonders how much of her humanity she is willing to give up to win.

What’s the best thing about being a debut author?
Finally sharing one of the stories that has lived inside my head for years and years now.

What’s your favorite movie theater candy?
Maltesers. White chocolate ones, especially. They’re hard to find but so worth it!

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
A jar of wooden ladybugs from one of my closest friends for good luck.

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The Debut Dish: Kate Scelsa (+ Giveaway), Anna-Marie McLemore, & Heather W. Petty

Posted September 13, 2015 by Jana in Author Interview, Debut Author Challenge, Debut Dish, Giveaway / 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?

Fans of the Impossible Life by Kate Scelsa
September 8, 2015 from Balzer + Bray
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

This is the story of a girl, her gay best friend, and the boy in love with both of them.

Ten months after her recurring depression landed her in the hospital, Mira is starting over as a new student at Saint Francis Prep. She promised her parents she would at least try to act like a normal, functioning human this time around, not a girl who sometimes can’t get out of bed for days on end, who only feels awake when she’s with Sebby.

Jeremy is the painfully shy art nerd at Saint Francis who’s been in self-imposed isolation after an incident that ruined his last year of school. When he sees Sebby for the first time across the school lawn it’s as if he’s been expecting this blond, lanky boy with a mischievous glint in his eye.

Sebby, Mira’s gay best friend, is a boy who seems to carry sunlight around with him like a backlit halo. Even as life in his foster home starts to take its toll, Sebby and Mira together craft a world of magic rituals and secret road trips, designed to fix the broken parts of their lives.

As Jeremy finds himself drawn into Sebby and Mira’s world, he begins to understand the secrets that they hide in order to protect themselves, to keep each other safe from those who don’t understand their quest to live for the impossible.

A captivating and profound debut novel, “Fans of the Impossible Life” is a story about complicated love and the friendships that change you forever.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Love and friendship are complicated.

Why should readers pick up your book?
If you like books about the friendships that change us and the friends that help us understand who we are becoming and the things that we get wrong and the way love can save us and the ways that it can’t and also thrifting and ritual and glitter and secrets and love, then you should pick up my book.

What’s the best thing about being a debut author?
The YA community is so lovely and supportive and just so enthusiastic about books in general, and I’ve found that to be really inspiring. Getting to meet bloggers and booksellers who are excited about FANS has definitely been the best part of this process.

What’s your favorite movie theater candy?
I prefer popcorn, but I wouldn’t turn down some M&Ms. And if you want to put the M&Ms in the popcorn then we will be in some salty/sweet heaven!

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
There are a lot of odd things on my desk, but the oddest is probably a grey and black bunny figurine that has red eyes. I got him in college when I was taking a class in puppetry. I’ve never been that good at making things, so my puppets were just weird things I would buy at the drug store. It was around Easter and I guess this guy was supposed to be a festive Easter item, but he’s mostly just terrifying. Now he sits and stares at me while I write as a kind of warning. If I don’t get my pages done, those red eyes might start glowing a little brighter.

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The Weight of Feathers by Anna-Marie McLemore
September 15, 2015 from Thomas Dunne
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

For twenty years, the Palomas and the Corbeaus have been rivals and enemies, locked in an escalating feud for over a generation. Both families make their living as traveling performers in competing shows—the Palomas swimming in mermaid exhibitions, the Corbeaus, former tightrope walkers, performing in the tallest trees they can find.

Lace Paloma may be new to her family’s show, but she knows as well as anyone that the Corbeaus are pure magia negra, black magic from the devil himself. Simply touching one could mean death, and she’s been taught from birth to keep away. But when disaster strikes the small town where both families are performing, it’s a Corbeau boy, Cluck, who saves Lace’s life. And his touch immerses her in the world of the Corbeaus, where falling for him could turn his own family against him, and one misstep can be just as dangerous on the ground as it is in the trees.

Beautifully written, and richly imaginative, The Weight of Feathers is an utterly captivating young adult novel by a talented new voice.

Describe your book in five words or less.
A multicultural, magical realism fairytale.

Why should readers pick up your book?
A forbidden romance, a feud between rival families, and a look inside the world of traveling shows.

What’s the best thing about being a debut author?
The people you get to meet—publishing industry professionals, fellow authors, book bloggers, booksellers, readers…you meet so many wonderful book lovers!

What’s your favorite movie theater candy?
Sour Patch Watermelons.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
A plush Loch Ness Monster. Runner-up is a fuchsia sticky-note dispenser shaped like a heart.

Lock & Mori by Heather W. Petty
September 15, 2015 from Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
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In modern-day London, two brilliant high school students, one Sherlock Holmes and a Miss James “Mori” Moriarty, meet. A murder will bring them together. The truth very well might drive them apart.

Before they were mortal enemies, they were much more.

FACT: Someone has been murdered in London’s Regent’s Park. The police have no leads.

FACT: Miss James “Mori”Moriarty and Sherlock “Lock” Holmes should be hitting the books on a school night. Instead, they are out crashing a crime scene.

FACT: Lock has challenged Mori to solve the case before he does. Challenge accepted.

FACT: Despite agreeing to Lock’s one rule–they must share every clue with each other–Mori is keeping secrets.

OBSERVATION: Sometimes you can’t trust the people closest to you with matters of the heart. And after this case, Mori may never trust Lock again.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Nemeses: A Love Story

Why should readers pick up your book?
The book is an origin story for Moriarty and Sherlock, told from the perspective of a 16-year-old, female Moriarty. So, if you like mysteries or Sherlock stuff, or if you’ve always wanted to see how a teen girl becomes a master criminal in her own words, you should definitely pick up my books. :)

What’s the best thing about being a debut author?
For me so far, it’s been the people I’ve gotten to meet, both the S&S BFYR group, which has an incredible publishing team, and the other 2015 debut authors, who are an amazing group of people.

What’s your favorite movie theater candy?
Junior Mints.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
I just got a brand new desk, so there is literally nothing but my laptop and a couple of pictures on my desk right now. And a wrapper from my peppermint lifesavers? Does that count? I am completely addicted to individually wrapped peppermint lifesavers. It’s ridiculous.

The Debut Dish: Natasha Sinel and Carol Riggs (+ Giveaway)

Posted September 6, 2015 by Jana in Author Interview, Debut Dish, Discussion, 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 Fix by Natasha Sinel
September 1, 2015 from Sky Pony Press
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

One conversation is all it takes to break a world wide open.

Seventeen-year-old Macy Lyons has been through something no one should ever have to experience. And she’s dealt with it entirely alone.

On the outside, she’s got it pretty good. Her family’s well-off, she’s dating the cute boy next door, she has plenty of friends, and although she long ago wrote her mother off as a superficial gym rat, she’s thankful to have allies in her loving, laid-back dad and her younger brother.

But a conversation with a boy at a party one night shakes Macy out of the carefully maintained complacency that has defined her life so far. The boy is Sebastian Ruiz, a recovering addict who recognizes that Macy is hardened by dark secrets. And as Macy falls for Sebastian, she realizes that, while revealing her secret could ruin her seemingly perfect family, keeping silent might just destroy her.

The Fix follows two good-hearted teenagers coming to terms with the cards they were dealt. It’s also about the fixes we rely on to cope with our most shameful secrets and the hope and fear that comes with meeting someone who challenges us to come clean.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Love can make you brave.

Why should readers pick up your book?
I think we all hope to meet someone who just sees us from the inside out, and understands. When Sebastian becomes that person to Macy, he breaks her world wide open, and she can’t continue to hide herself and her painful secret anymore. THE FIX tells the story of two good-hearted teenagers coming to terms with the cards they were dealt. It’s also about the fixes we rely on to cope with our most shameful secrets, and the hope and fear that comes with meeting someone who challenges us to come clean.

What’s the best thing about being a debut author?
So far, the best thing is seeing how proud the people close to me are—my family and friends, critique partners, and agent. They’ve been with me every step of the long journey to get here.

What’s your favorite movie theater candy?
Mild duds.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
Tarot cards! At the amazing Writing Yoga Retreat ( last summer, I had an amazing one-on-one session in which we used Tarot to dive into my character’s motivations and feelings. The cards that came up were so perfect for my character, I almost heard the eerie Twilight Zone music playing. As soon as I got home, I bought my own deck, and I now use it whenever I need inspiration for character development.

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The Body Institute by Carol Riggs
September 1, 2015 from Entangled: Teen
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

Meet Morgan Dey, one of the top teen Reducers at The Body Institute. Thanks to cutting-edge technology, Morgan can temporarily take over another girl’s body, get her in shape, and then return to her own body—leaving her client slimmer, more toned, and feeling great. Only there are a few catches…

For one, Morgan won’t remember what happens in her “Loaner” body. Once she’s done, she won’t recall walks with her new friend Matt, conversations with the super-cute Reducer she’s been text-flirting with, or the uneasy feeling she has that the director of The Body Institute is hiding something. Still, it’s all worth it in the name of science. Until the glitches start…

Suddenly, residual memories from her Loaner are cropping up in Morgan’s mind. She’s feeling less like herself and more like someone else. And when protests from an anti–Body Institute organization threaten her safety, she’ll have to decide if being a Reducer is worth the cost of her body and soul…

Describe your book in five words or less.
Downloading minds for weight loss.

Why should readers pick up your book?
Haven’t we all wondered what it’d be like to BE someone else? Morgan, the main character, gets to do just that. It’s a story of identity and body image: who we are inside as well as outside. How society’s expectations of our appearance—especially as it relates to weight—makes a difference to our sense of self. Served with some sinister conspiracy stuff on the side.

What’s the best thing about being a debut author?
Getting to know other writers and readers (like-minded souls), and sharing my writing with them. It’s nerve-wracking and exciting in the BEST way.

What’s your favorite movie theater candy?
I never buy movie theater candy, but if they sell Almond Joy candy bars, I’d vote for those!

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
A gossamer-winged dragon figurine perched on an open book. There’s a photo of it on my website if you’re curious, under the “About” tag.

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Daughter of Deep Silence by Carrie Ryan | Book Review

Posted September 2, 2015 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult / 7 Comments

Daughter of Deep Silence by Carrie Ryan | Book ReviewDaughter of Deep Silence by Carrie Ryan
Published by Dutton Juvenile on May 25, 2015
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Mystery, Thriller
Pages: 375
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher (Netgalley)
Amazon Add to Goodreads
5 Stars
I’m the daughter of murdered parents.
I’m the friend of a dead girl.
I’m the lover of my enemy.
And I will have my revenge.

In the wake of the devastating destruction of the luxury yacht Persephone, just three souls remain to tell its story—and two of them are lying. Only Frances Mace knows the terrifying truth, and she’ll stop at nothing to avenge the murders of everyone she held dear. Even if it means taking down the boy she loves and possibly losing herself in the process.

Sharp and incisive, Daughter of Deep Silence by bestselling author Carrie Ryan is a deliciously smart revenge thriller that examines perceptions of identity, love, and the lengths to which one girl is willing to go when she thinks she has nothing to lose.

I’m on a major mystery/thriller kick right now, and I’m all about conspiracies! I’m not usually a fan of revenge, but this is revenge for a good reason so I LOVED it. Daughter of Deep Silence is filled with ominous, creepy, obsessive revenge. Basically, it was amazing. I’m doing a small review for this title because I don’t want to give anything away. The synopsis is very vague for a reason, and I intend to provide only my opinions. So don’t worry! Reading my review is totally safe, even if you’re the type who likes to discover books on your own, rather than read a review that basically tells you the entire plot. Seriously. I just read a bunch of reviews on Goodreads and they are just not safe!

We start out on the Persephone, a luxury yacht at sea. Everything is fine, and then disaster strikes. I was immediately engrossed in this story, and was completely on the edge of my seat. It starts out with a huge bang and gets more and more crazy and mysterious as the book continues and Frances’s life continues at home. Frances is a very hurt, very complex, very lost and rage-filled soul who has her heart set on finding answers. She will stop at nothing to find these answers, no matter the cost. And I’m not kidding. There were times I hated her and there were times I absolutely loved her. Her past is heartbreaking, her present is a lie, and her future could go in so many different directions depending on her actions now. There’s a bit of romance, but mostly the suspense is the frontrunner. My only qualm is that I wish there was more of a gradual build-up to the climax instead of the huge info dump and a quick ending I got. I’m the kind of person who likes to guess and form opinions, but I needed a few more clues than I was given.

All in all, I was extremely pleased with Daughter of Deep Silence. I loved every second, and was sad when it was over. Sure, it was a little unbelievable in places, but that’s why this is a novel instead of a memoir. This story would never happen in real life, but neither would Jurassic Park. I love the author’s writing style, and am seriously considering reading her backlist because I was completely entranced. Carrie Ryan is an amazing author! Definitely give this book a shot if you’re looking for a little suspense that won’t keep you up all night in sheer terror.

Debut Author Challenge 2015: September Review Link-Up

Posted September 1, 2015 by Jana in Debut Author Challenge / 0 Comments

DAC2015BigI don’t know about you, but I’m packing a little bit that the year is really starting to feel like it’s wrapping up! I mean… I know we have four months left, but September is FALL. And everyone is pretty much in school. Life is getting so busy again! I miss my carefree summer!

August was a great review month! I think we were all trying to squeeze in as much reading as we could there at the end. What book did you absolutely love in August? I’ll be drawing August’s winner soon, and will update this post when I’ve heard back from them!

So! September has so many great sounding debuts! I can’t imagine not being able to find something amazing this month! Which ones are you looking forward to? I can’t wait to read Anne and Henry by Dawn Ius, Lock & Mori by Heather Petty, and This Monstrous Thing by Mackenzie Lee. We’ve got a great line-up of Debut Dish issues coming up this month with lots of giveaway and exciting books, so make sure you continue to stop by!

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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