Month: February 2016

My Book Blogger Reputation (+ Rebel of the Sands Giveaway)

Posted February 22, 2016 by Jana in Book Spotlight, Debut Author Challenge, Giveaway / 3 Comments

I’m here today to talk a little about one of my most anticipated debut novels of 2016, Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton! I’ve been hearing amazing things about the story, and I can’t wait to read it and see what all the hype is about! Penguin contacted me and asked if I would like to participate in a fun little campaign they have running in celebration of its release, and it sounded like so much fun that I couldn’t possibly say no!

In a world where metal and magic clash with deadly consequences, Amani (our heroine) finds herself becoming a myth in the making, legendary for her sharp-shooting skills. She is known as “more gunpowder than girl”. Inspired by Amani’s reputation, Penguin asked me to come up with my own blogger reputation post, highlighting skills, behaviors, designs, or habits that I would be famous for in the blogosphere. Immediately, I knew what I would be famous for:

That Artsy Reader Girl is known for holding books captive.

People know me as that girl who can’t let a book go once she owns it. I hoard them. I don’t have the room and I don’t even LOVE everything I own, but I have a really hard time letting a book go once it’s mine. I’ve got books on my shelves that I bought 15 years ago because I thought they were pretty and sounded like something I might want to try. My tastes have changed and I’m not interested in all of them anymore, but I can’t get rid of them! I feel like I’m finally starting to get better at letting books go, especially when I can donate them to a good cause or give them homes with my friends. But the separation anxiety is strong in me. I guess it’s not the worst thing in the world, but if I die young I know it will be because my piles of books fell on me and smothered me to death! This is getting ridiculous.

What is your reputation in the bookish world? Are you too ruthless with your DNF’s? Do you dog ear your book pages? Penguin and I want to know!

Read a little bit about Rebel of the Sands (available for pre-order now!) and see if it sounds like something you’d enjoy putting on your to-read list! And don’t forget to enter the giveaway, hosted by Penguin, for a copy of the book, a Penguin tote bag, and a really pretty shimmering sand hourglass!

Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton
March 8, 2016 from Penguin
Add to Goodreads | Pre-Order

She’s more gunpowder than girl—and the fate of the desert lies in her hands.

Mortals rule the desert nation of Miraji, but mystical beasts still roam the wild and barren wastes, and rumor has it that somewhere, djinni still practice their magic. But there’s nothing mystical or magical about Dustwalk, the dead-end town that Amani can’t wait to escape from.

Destined to wind up “wed or dead,” Amani’s counting on her sharpshooting skills to get her out of Dustwalk. When she meets Jin, a mysterious and devastatingly handsome foreigner, in a shooting contest, she figures he’s the perfect escape route. But in all her years spent dreaming of leaving home, she never imagined she’d gallop away on a mythical horse, fleeing the murderous Sultan’s army, with a fugitive who’s wanted for treason. And she’d never have predicted she’d fall in love with him…or that he’d help her unlock the powerful truth of who she really is.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Debut Dish: February 2016, Issue #2 (+ Giveaway)

Posted February 21, 2016 by Jana in Author Interview, Debut Author Challenge, Debut Dish, Giveaway / 6 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?

Today’s issue of the Debut Dish features Amy Allgeyer (Dig Too Deep), Jenn P. Nguyen (The Way to Game the Walk of Shame), Heidi Heilig (The Girl From Everywhere), Jenny Manzer (Save Me, Kurt Cobain), Janet B. Taylor (Into the Dim), and Monica Tesler (Bounders).

Dig Too Deep by Amy Allgeyer
April 1, 2016 from Albert Whitman
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

With her mother facing prison time for a violent political protest, seventeen-year-old Liberty Briscoe has no choice but to leave her Washington, DC, apartment and take a bus to Ebbottsville, Kentucky, to live with her granny. There she can finish high school and put some distance between herself and her mother– her ‘former’ mother, as she calls her. But Ebbottsville isn’t the same as Liberty remembers, and it’s not just because the top of Tanner’s Peak has been blown away to mine for coal. Half the county is out of work, an awful lot of people in town seem to be sick, and the tap water is bright orange–the same water that officials claim is safe to drink. When Granny’s lingering cold turns out to be something much worse, Liberty is convinced the mine is to blame, and starts an investigation that quickly plunges her into a world of secrets, lies, threats, and danger. Liberty isn’t deterred by any of it, but as all her searches turn into dead ends, she comes to a difficult decision: turn to violence like her former mother or give up her quest for good.

Describe your book in five words or less.
YA Erin Brockovich in coal-country.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
Standing on a dirt road in the sunshine, next to a boy with a crooked smile who smells like peppermint toothpaste, Liberty begins to feel like the pieces of her life might someday fit back together.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
Standing in my fiance’s front yard, watching the ducks.

What’s your favorite junk food?
Hamburgers. All the hamburgers ever.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
A carbon monoxide detector.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Way to Game the Walk of Shame by Jenn P. Nguyen
June 7, 2016 from Swoon Reads
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

Taylor Simmons is screwed.

Things were hard enough when her single-minded dedication to her studies earned her the reputation of being an Ice Queen, but after getting drunk at a party and waking up next to bad boy surfer Evan McKinley, the entire school seems intent on tearing Taylor down with mockery and gossip.

Desperate to salvage her reputation, Taylor persuades Evan to pretend they’re in a serious romantic relationship. After all, it’s better to be the girl who tames the wild surfer than just another notch on his surfboard.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Two reputations. One love contract.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
My favorite scene is actually the opening scene when Taylor wakes up in Evan’s bed. I had so much fun writing about her freak outs and army crawling across the bedroom like a crazy person.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
I was at home that afternoon. I just came back from New York the night before and was checking my inbox when I saw I had an email from my editors at Swoon Reads asking to speak to me. At first, I wouldn’t wrap my mind around the they wanted to talk to me. That they wanted to publish my book. I thought maybe I won some type of free giveaway although I didn’t sign up for any. But I emailed them back to let them know I was free and they called immediately. After that, everything was a blur.

What’s your favorite junk food?
I’m not a big sweets and chips person. But I do love pizza! The more toppings on it the better!

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
This is going to sound very boring, but I don’t actually have a desk. I usually just write on the couch or in bed. So I searched my book case instead and found a pair of Harry Potter glasses. It was part of the goody bag from my magical Harry Potter bridal shower that my bridesmaid threw for me.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Heilig
February 16, 2016 from Greenwillow Books
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

Heidi Heilig’s debut teen fantasy sweeps from modern-day New York City, to nineteenth-century Hawaii, to places of myth and legend. Sixteen-year-old Nix has sailed across the globe and through centuries aboard her time-traveling father’s ship. But when he gambles with her very existence, it all may be about to end. The Girl from Everywhere, the first of two books, blends fantasy, history, and a modern sensibility. Its witty, fast-paced dialogue, breathless adventure, multicultural cast, and enchanting romance will dazzle readers of Sabaa Tahir, Rae Carson, and Rachel Hartman.

Nix’s life began in Honolulu in 1868. Since then she has traveled to mythic Scandinavia, a land from the tales of One Thousand and One Nights, modern-day New York City, and many more places both real and imagined. As long as he has a map, Nix’s father can sail his ship, The Temptation, to any place, any time. But now he’s uncovered the one map he’s always sought—1868 Honolulu, before Nix’s mother died in childbirth. Nix’s life—her entire existence—is at stake. No one knows what will happen if her father changes the past. It could erase Nix’s future, her dreams, her adventures . . . her connection with the charming Persian thief, Kash, who’s been part of their crew for two years. If Nix helps her father reunite with the love of his life, it will cost her her own.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Myth, history, regret, time travel.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
There is a scene early on where Nix meets an old woman named Joss in downtown Honolulu. Joss ran the opium den where Nix’s father met her mother, and since NIx never knew her mother, she is desperate for information–stories, history, anything. But Joss always keeps her secrets close. I loved writing their interaction–two strong women butting heads, both trying to get what they want.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
I was actually in the hospital, on bed rest for pre-term labor. I got to see my heart rate pick up on the pulse monitor, it was wild.

What’s your favorite junk food?

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
My snake. He lives in a terrarium right next to my computer and I bounce plot ideas off him all the time. He doesn’t say much but he’s a good listener.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Save Me, Kurt Cobain by Jenny Manzer
March 8, 2016 from Delacorte Press
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

What if you discovered that Kurt Cobain is not only alive, but might be your real father?

Nicola Cavan has been an outsider since age four when her mother vanished from their home in Victoria, British Columbia. Now 15, Nico is determined to find her beautiful, music-obsessed mother. After glimpsing “Cobain” on a ferry from Seattle, Nico follows the man with the blazing blue eyes to a remote Vancouver Island cabin—and her life will never be the same.

This nuanced and bittersweet YA debut will keep you guessing until the end.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Is Kurt Cobain Nico’s father?

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
I can’t say too much or risk spoilers, but I think it would be when “Cobain” and Nico are driving up the Sea-to-Sky highway together, surrounded by mountains and ocean, being chased!

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
At my home in Victoria, British Columbia.

What’s your favorite junk food?
Sun Chips.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
The wheel for a child’s scooter. I did not put it there!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Into the Dim by Janet B. Taylor
March 1, 2016 from HMH Books for Young Readers
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

When fragile, sixteen-year-old Hope Walton loses her mom to an earthquake overseas, her secluded world crumbles. Agreeing to spend the summer in Scotland, Hope discovers that her mother was more than a brilliant academic, but also a member of a secret society of time travelers. Trapped in the twelfth century in the age of Eleanor of Aquitaine, Hope has seventy-two hours to rescue her mother and get back to their own time. Along the way, her path collides with that of a mysterious boy who could be vital to her mission . . . or the key to Hope’s undoing. Addictive, romantic, and rich with historical detail, Into the Dim is an Outlander for teens.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Girl time travels on purpose.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
My favorite scene is when my main character, Hope, comes up with a way to break her friend out of a medieval prison. I love it because not only does she call upon her one super-power, her incredible brain, but because it takes all of the characters in the book–working together–to bust him out.

My second fave is a big old smooching scene, which I won’t tell you about yet, cause it’s a surprise!! :D

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
This is a bizarre situation. I was in London, actually, when I found out the book was going to auction. My son was starting grad school at the University College of London, and I’d gone to help him get settled.

I was flying home when the auction began. The next morning–totally jet-lagged and grief-stricken because I wouldn’t see my son for six months–the auction played out.
So…when my agent (the fantabulous Mollie Glick) called to tell me it had sold to HMH, I was curled up in my comfy chair with no make-up and my hair in a horrifying tangle, bawling my eyes out and laughing all at the same time! (It was NOT a pretty sight).

What’s your favorite junk food?
Easy question. Cupcakes. White with white icing. The best thing in the world!

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
Hoo boy. I have a LOT of weird stuff on my desk. But I guess I’d say…
A Game of Thrones lamp. The pole-thingee is a replica of John Snow’s sword–‘Longclaw,’ and the shade says (of course) Winter is Coming!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Bounders by Monica Tesler
January 5, 2016 from Aladdin
Add to Goodreads | Author Twitter

In the tradition of Michael Vey and The Unwanteds, twelve-year-old Jasper and his friends are forced to go up against an alien society in this first book in a brand-new adventure series!

Thirteen years ago, Earth Force—a space-military agency—discovered a connection between brain structure and space travel. Now they’ve brought together the first team of cadets, called Bounders, to be trained as high-level astronauts.

Twelve-year-old Jasper is part of this team being sent out into space. After being bullied back on Earth, Jasper is thrilled to have something new and different to do with other kids who are more like him. While learning all about the new technologies and taking classes in mobility—otherwise known as flying with jetpacks—Jasper befriends the four other students in his pod and finally feels like he has found his place in the world.

But then Jasper and his new friends learn that they haven’t been told everything about Earth Force. They weren’t brought to space for astronaut training, but to learn a new, highly classified brain-sync technology that allows them to manipulate matter and quantum bound, or teleport. And it isn’t long before they find out this new technology was actually stolen from an alien society.

When Jasper and his friends discover the truth about why Earth Force needs them, they are faced with a choice: rebel against the academy that brought them together, or fulfill their duty and protect the planet at all costs.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Space academy, quantum bounding, secrets.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
My favorite seen in BOUNDERS is when Jasper encounters Mira playing the piano. He is deeply moved by the music, and many of the assumptions he had about Mira are washed away. The scene shows the power of music as a form of connection and communication. It also foreshadows the growing bond between these two characters.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
When I received the email from my agent informing me that I had a three-book offer from Simon and Schuster, I was standing alone in my kitchen. It took me a few reads just to process what he was telling me. Then I fell to the floor screaming. Since I was the only one there, it was very much a tree falls in the forest and no one hears moment. So when my kids got off the bus that afternoon, I reenacted it for them. We still laugh about it.

What’s your favorite junk food?
Chocolate. All the chocolate.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
I have a few different tangle fidgets on my writing table. I like to have something to play with when I brainstorm.

Love-A-Thon 2016 | Get to Know Me!

Posted February 20, 2016 by Jana in About Me, Personal / 2 Comments


1. What’s your name?
Jana (It rhymes with banana… interesting how many pronunciations people come up with!)

2. Where in the world are you blogging from?
I live in the western USA! (I’m not saying my state because I’m participating in #otspsecretsister and don’t want to give away my location!)

3. How did you get into blogging in the first place?
Way back in 2010, Jamie from the Goodreads College Students group sent out a message asking if anyone wanted to start up a book blog with her. A few of us wrote and said we were interested, and The Broke and the Bookish was born! I never knew book blogging was even a thing before this, and I really fell in love with it. I started this blog about a year and a half later, and I’m still over at TB&TB as well. :)

4. How did you come up with your blog name?
Honestly, it came to me while I was on pain meds during my tonsillectomy recovery! I made the blog so fast, barely thinking, and that entire process is a complete blur to me because pain meds are intense! I’ve never wanted to change it, though, so I guess drugged Jana makes great life choices.

5. What genre do you read and review the most on your blog?
I don’t know? I tend to focus on YA, but I’ve been reading a lot more adult over the last couple years. As for genre… it’s such a mash-up of all the genres, but I’m thinking it’s pretty evenly split between contemporary romance and fantasy.

6. What other types of posts do you do on your blog, apart from reviews?
Well, I host the Debut Author Challenge, so I do a lot of Debut Dish posts. Those are mini author interviews, usually with some giveaways as well. I also participate in Top Ten Tuesday. My regular features have kind of suffered over the last few years since I went back to school, but I’m going to start doing more Bookish Finds and That Artsy Librarian posts soon!

7. Best blogging experience so far?
I’m not sure I can pinpoint one! Receiving my first ARC (Of Poseidon by Anna Banks), going to ALA several times, having my name appear in the acknowledgments of one of my favorite books, and receiving my first blurb in a book have been some of the highlights. I’ve loved making new friends and broadening my reading interests. Really, it’s all been awesome so far!

8. Favorite thing about the blogging community?
I love fangirling over books with people who GET it! And I love it when we force each other to read our favorites, and then happiness all around!

9. Name the 5 books you’re most excited for in 2016!
A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas, Map of Fates by Maggie Hall, Heartless by Marissa Meyer, The Beauty of Darkness by Mary E. Pearson, and Rebellion by J.A. Souders!

10. Name the 5 books you want to read in 2016 that you didn’t get to in previous years!
The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski, A Madness So Discreet by Mandy McGinnis, Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo, The Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas, and Until We Meet Again by Renee Collins.

11. What’s an underrated book or series that you think everyone should read?
Underrated book? Definitely Wanderlove by Kristen Hubbard. Underrated series would by the Hourglass Door trilogy by Lisa Mangum.

12. Which book boy or girl would be your book BFF?
Hale from Heist Society by Ally Carter would be my BFF! I love him!

13. Which book boy or girl would be your book boyfriend?
Tamlin from A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas makes me weak in the knees.

14. Who would you recruit for your apocalypse squad (5 characters max)?
Katniss Everdeen (The Hunger Games), Four (Divergent), Carswell Thorne (Lunar Chronicles), Cinder (Lunar Chronicles), and… Perry (Under the Never Sky).

15. Apart from reading, what are your other hobbies or interests?
Graphic design, singing, watching movies, listening to music, shopping, traveling, baking, and scrapbooking.

16. Apart from book shopping, what else do you like shopping for?
JEWELRY. And shoes. And purses. And organizing supplies, like boxes and drawers. I hate shopping for clothes.

17. At a party, the DJ suddenly changes the song – and it’s your song. What song would be playing?
Don’t Stop Believin’ by Journey. Sounds cliche, but I love that song so much!

18. Pick out either a book you want turned into a film/TV show, or a film/TV show you want turned into a book.
I want The Lunar Chronicles to be turned into a 5-part movie series of a TV show. I’m good with either!

19. What would your dream library look like?
The most popular answer ever: The Beast’s.

20. Author you want to meet and sit down to tea with?
Sarah J. Maas!

Do we have anything in common? Say hi, and I’ll come visit you!

The Lifeboat Clique by Kathy Parks | Book Review

Posted February 18, 2016 by Jana in Book Review, Debut Author Challenge, Young Adult / 4 Comments

The Lifeboat Clique by Kathy Parks | Book ReviewThe Lifeboat Clique by Kathy Parks
Published by Katherine Tegen Books on March 1, 2016
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Survival
Pages: 336
Format: ARC
Source: Gift
Add to Goodreads
4 Stars
Some people might say that Denver had a death wish. Why else would she have dared to sneak into a Malibu beach party where she’d be surrounded by enemies, namely including her ex-BFF Abigail?

Oh yeah. Croix. Denver never thought in a million years he’d ask her out, but who was she to question this miracle of fate? Well, that wasn’t the only surprise fate had in store.

During the party a tsunami hit the coast of California, wiping out everything in its path. Denver and a handful of others escaped death by holding onto the roof of the house and were swept out to sea. Of course, one of her fellow castaways was none other than Abigail, who could barely stand the sight of her.

Now that she’s floating in the ocean, stuck on a small boat with the most popular kids in school and waiting to be rescued, Denver wonders what might kill her first-dehydration, sunstroke, or the girl she used to think of as a sister?

A hilariously dark and twisted story that sparkles with a remarkably fresh voice, The Lifeboat Clique is Kathy Park’s irreverent yet insightful novel about how to survive in the most unthinkable circumstances.

The Lifeboat Clique has been a highly anticipated novel of mine for quite some time now, and I moved it even higher up on my to-read list after Hannah told me it had the snark of Veronica Mars. I’m a huge Veronica Mars fan, and so I dove into this book as soon as she compared it to VM! I finished it a couple weeks ago, and the more I’ve thought about it, the more I’ve realized how much I liked it. As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. The Lifeboat Clique took me a little while to get into, but once I did I was pretty invested in the story. I’ve always been a fan of survival stories because they give us a chance to see what a character is really made of. There’s just something about hitting rock bottom emotionally, mentally, and physically. This book got deep fast, and became about so much more than being popular.

2. Hannah was right when she compared this book to Veronica Mars. Denver sounds JUST like Veronica! She has that same snark and dark humor that we all love. Denver is also ostracized by her former best friend, and is picked on a lot. She’s an outcast, but a fighter. I couldn’t put it better than Hannah did in her review when she said “If Veronica Mars was stranded on a lifeboat with a handful of 09ers, this is what would happen.” I totally agree.

3. As I mentioned before, this book gets deep. There’s a lot of soul searching and healing that goes on out there in that lifeboat. There are some heart-wrenching moments, some funny moments, some horrifying moments, and some tender moments. I loved all the different dimensions of the story.

There’s not a lot more I can say without ruining the story, so I’m going to stop right here! Bottom line, I enjoyed this darkly funny and thought-provoking book! If you’re looking for something a little bit different, definitely pick up a copy of The Lifeboat Clique.

When a Scot Ties the Knot by Tessa Dare | Book Review

Posted February 16, 2016 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 2 Comments

When a Scot Ties the Knot by Tessa Dare | Book ReviewWhen a Scot Ties the Knot by Tessa Dare
Series: Castles Ever After #3
Also in this series: Romancing the Duke, Say Yes to the Marquess
Published by Avon on August 25, 2015
Genres: Historical Romance, Romance
Pages: 384
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher (Edelweiss)
Amazon Add to Goodreads
4 Stars
On the cusp of her first London season, Miss Madeline Gracechurch was shyly pretty and talented with a drawing pencil, but hopelessly awkward with gentlemen. She was certain to be a dismal failure on the London marriage mart. So Maddie did what generations of shy, awkward young ladies have done: she invented a sweetheart.

A Scottish sweetheart. One who was handsome and honorable and devoted to her, but conveniently never around. Maddie poured her heart into writing the imaginary Captain MacKenzie letter after letter … and by pretending to be devastated when he was (not really) killed in battle, she managed to avoid the pressures of London society entirely.

Until years later, when this kilted Highland lover of her imaginings shows up in the flesh. The real Captain Logan MacKenzie arrives on her doorstep—handsome as anything, but not entirely honorable. He’s wounded, jaded, in possession of her letters… and ready to make good on every promise Maddie never expected to keep.

Tessa Dare’s Castles Ever After series made me remember why I love historical romance. I loved the first one, Romancing the Duke, and Say Yes to the Marquess is one of my favorite historical romances to date. I really enjoyed When a Scot Ties the Knot (hello, Mr. Highlander), but it was not my favorite of the series. As always, my main points are bolded.

1. I really only have one complaint, but it’s kind of a big one. I didn’t feel like there was a ton of chemistry between Maddie and Logan. There was heat, yes, but I didn’t really buy the romance like I did in the previous two books. This felt more lusty to me. I suppose I started feeling it at the end, but the romance wasn’t sweeping and swoony like I have become accustomed to as of late.

2. I loved Maddie. I thought she was hilarious, plus she’s bookish, artsy, and painfully shy. I get her. While I don’t have panic attacks when I’m surrounded by a few people, I know what it’s like to be a wallflower. And I know what it’s like to view life through an artist’s eye. I love that she wrote letters to an imaginary captain to avoid jumping into the dating pool. That’s something I could totally see myself doing. All in all, I’m a fan of hers.

3. Logan… He started as as being the epitome of my least favorite highlander. He’s big and cocky and doesn’t really do romance. He storms in to Maddie’s isolated castle and blackmails her, telling her that if she does not marry him and give him her castle and the land surrounding it, he is going to take her fake romance to the media and have her publicly ridiculed. I don’t do blackmail. I don’t do men who come in to the scene and bully or take advantage of women. But… I really started to like him more when he softened up and started thinking with his heart and his emotions over his selfish need to provide for the soldiers who fought under him. Maddie does a great job of tugging at his heartstrings and making him feel things, and I slowly became a fan of Captain Mackenzie’s as well.

4. The story is super unique, which I really enjoyed. A romance that blooms out of the mindless musings of a teenage girl to an imaginary man is pretty awesome. I LOVE this idea. It would have been better if there had been a stronger feeling of romance, but… I digress.

5. I’ve come to expect awesome witty banter between Tessa Dare’s characters, and I got it. I do love sizzling, flirtatious, witty banter.

6. This book is funny! Just read this:

What have I done? Most lasses like it when a man kills the bugs. Along with reaching high places and giving sexual pleasure, it’s one of the few universally popular qualities we have to offer.

(Maddie is an artist and draws bugs for a client who is putting together a collection of… bug drawings. Logan gets chewed out after smashing an already dead bug pancake. These are his thoughts after said chewing out occurs.)

There are many more funny passages like this!

7. The cast of supporting characters is wonderful! I really liked Logan’s burly band of misfit soldiers, particularly one who reminds me of Dory from Finding Nemo. He has no short-term memory, and so his friends keep having to tell him where he is. He’s very endearing because he loves Maddie every single time he meets her… which is multiple times per day.

8. The bookishness. I can hardly handle the bookishness! I LOVED IT! Here’s my favorite quote:

He was lying on the bed, a loose shirt hanging open at the neck to reveal a wedge of his chest. His brow was lightly furrowed in concentration, and those spectacles were perched on the strong bridge of his nose. One muscled arm was flexed and propped behind his head. And in the other hand, he held . . . Devil take him. Heaven help her. A book. Not just any book, but a thick one bound in dark green leather. And he was reading the thing.

Haha! I can’t! This is probably the best passage I’ve ever read in a book ever. I laughed out loud. Props to Ms. Dare for making books sexy. Spectacles! Come ON!

All in all, I really enjoyed When a Scot Ties the Knot. Was it my favorite? No. But only because Tessa Dare can only outdo herself so many times. This book was so much fun and the story was so unique and the characters were so likable (even if it took me longer with some of them) that I could not help but smile as I flew through the pages.

Top Ten Favorite Couples (in Books)

Posted February 8, 2016 by Jana in Top Ten Tuesday / 8 Comments


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

Valentine’s Day is next week, so we decided this week to do a Valentine’s Day freebie. Of course I immediately decided on my favorite couples in books. I love romance. It has to be in every book I read. It was REALLY hard narrowing this down to just ten, but I decided to be a grown-up and follow the rules.


Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
Love, Lucy by April Lindner
Just One Day by Gayle Forman
Wish You Were Italian by Kristin Rae
A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo
Under the Never Sky Trilogy by Veronica Rossi
Time Between Us by Tamara Ireland Stone
Newsoul Trilogy by Jodi Meadows
The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer

Who are some of your favorite couples?
What Valentine’s Day TTT topic did you decide to do today?

The Debut Dish: February 2016, Issue #1 (+ Giveaways)

Posted February 7, 2016 by Jana in Author Interview, Debut Author Challenge, Debut Dish, Giveaway / 6 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?

This issue featuresIsabel Bandeira (Bookishly Ever After), Kathy MacMillan (Sword and Verse), Emily Skrutskie (The Abyss Surrounds Us), K.C. Held (Holding Court), Ava Jae (Beyond the Red), Riley Redgate (Seven Ways We Lie), and Jeff Garvin (Symptoms of Being Human).

Bookishly Ever After by Isabel Bandeira
January 12, 2016 from Spencer Hill Press
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

In a perfect world, sixteen-year-old Phoebe Martins’ life would be a book. Preferably a YA novel with magic and a hot paranormal love interest. Unfortunately, her life probably wouldn’t even qualify for a quiet contemporary. But when Phoebe finds out that Dev, the hottest guy in the clarinet section, might actually have a crush on her, she turns to her favorite books for advice. Phoebe overhauls her personality to become as awesome as her favorite heroines and win Dev’s heart. But if her plan fails, can she go back to her happy world of fictional boys after falling for the real thing?

Describe your book in five words or less.
Turning books into advice manuals.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
I don’t want to spoil anything, but it happens in the second half, when Phoebe and Dev are counseling 6th grade camp in the Pine Barrens. Those two were so much fun to write together.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
In my apartment, in a google hangout with my future editors. :)

What’s your favorite junk food?
Salty: Cheese-its/goldfish
Sweet: Gummi bears

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
Go Minam, Tae Kyung, Shinwoo, and Jeremy stand-up sticky note holders (I’m a big fan of the k-drama You’re Beautiful, and these are ADORABLE– they’re little fold-up cartoon-y versions of each Anjell band member, and the sticky notes have the pig-rabbit on them)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sword and Verse by Kathy MacMillan
January 19, 2016 from HarperTeen
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

Raisa was just a child when she was sold to work as a slave in the kingdom of Qilara. Despite her young age, her father was teaching her to read and write, grooming her to take his place as a Learned One. In Qilara, the Arnathim, like Raisa, are the lowest class, and literacy is a capital offense. What’s more, only the king, prince, tutor, and tutor-in-training are allowed to learn the very highest order language, the language of the gods. So when the tutor-in-training is executed for teaching slaves this sacred language, and Raisa is selected to replace her, Raisa knows any slipup on her part could mean death.

Keeping her secret is hard enough, but the romance that’s been growing between her and Prince Mati isn’t helping matters. Then Raisa is approached by the Resistance—an underground army of slave rebels—to help liberate Arnath slaves. She wants to free her people, but that would mean aiding a war against Mati. As Raisa struggles with what to do, she discovers a secret that the Qilarites have been hiding for centuries—one that, if uncovered, could bring the kingdom to its knees.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Fantasy romance for language geeks.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
My favorite scene is one late in the book where the truth about Raisa’s involvement with the Resistance comes out, and she has to face the devastating consequences of betraying the person she loves most. It’s not a battle, but a conversation, and it requires more bravery than any spy mission or sword fight.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
I was at home packing for the camp I direct for deaf kids, which started the following day. Immediately after getting the big news, I spent a week in the woods with a bunch of middle schoolers who were thoroughly unimpressed with my book deal. (Fun fact: one of my middle school campers that week was a girl whose name I had borrowed for one of the characters years ago when she was one of my preschool students and I was first working on the manuscript!)

What’s your favorite junk food?
Marshmallow peeps and bunnies at Easter. (Which is all for the best, since those are only available for a short time each year!) I’m also a sucker for anything gummy!

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
A rock that resembles a primitive spear point.

The Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutskie
February 8, 2016 from Flux
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

For Cassandra Leung, bossing around sea monsters is just the family business. She’s been a Reckoner trainer-in-training ever since she could walk, raising the genetically-engineered beasts to defend ships as they cross the pirate-infested NeoPacific. But when the pirate queen Santa Elena swoops in on Cas’s first solo mission and snatches her from the bloodstained decks, Cas’s dream of being a full-time trainer seems dead in the water.

There’s no time to mourn. Waiting for her on the pirate ship is an unhatched Reckoner pup. Santa Elena wants to take back the seas with a monster of her own, and she needs a proper trainer to do it. She orders Cas to raise the pup, make sure he imprints on her ship, and, when the time comes, teach him to fight for the pirates. If Cas fails, her blood will be the next to paint the sea.

But Cas has fought pirates her entire life. And she’s not about to stop.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Pirates vs. kaiju with lesbians.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
The scene is Chapter 17 in its entirety. It’s basically Fight Club, and I “broke” it while listening to Fall Out Boy’s Immortals on loop while literally acting my way through it in the loft of my parents’ house. Fortunately my parents weren’t home at the time.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
In a statistics discussion section, acting like I was doing work so the TA wouldn’t get suspicious. The email landed in my inbox at the beginning of class, and I didn’t pay attention to ANYTHING from that moment on.

What’s your favorite junk food?

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
A magic eight ball in the shape of a pirate skull. You lift the eyepatch to see your answer.

Holding Court by K.C. Held
March 1, 2016 from Entangled Teen
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

Sixteen-year-old Jules Verity knows exactly what’s in store at her new job at castle-turned-dinner-theater Tudor Times. Some extra cash, wearing a fancy-pants dress, and plenty of time to secretly drool over the ever-so-tasty–and completely unavailable–Grayson Chandler. Except that it’s not quite what she imagined.

For one, the costume Jules has to wear is awful. Then there’s the dead body she finds that just kind of…well, disappears. Oh, and there’s the small issue of Jules and her episodes of what her best friend calls “Psychic Tourette’s Syndrome”–spontaneous and uncontrollable outbursts of seemingly absurd prophecies.

The only bright side? This whole dead body thing seems to have gotten Grayson’s attention. Except that the more Jules investigates, the more she discovers that Grayson’s interest might not be as courtly as she thought. In fact, it’s starting to look suspicious…

Describe your book in five words or less.
A rollicking romantic mystery.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
It’s impossible to pick a favorite! But the scene I probably had the most fun writing is one where my main character, Jules, pretends to do a psychic reading for her best friend’s drama club nemesis. My favorite prediction involves prom and the bubonic plague.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
Walking on my treadmill desk. I’m lucky I wasn’t seriously injured. Happy dancing on a treadmill is not easy.

What’s your favorite junk food?
Hot Tamales cinnamon candy. The hotter the better!

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
A miniature gargoyle.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Beyond the Red by Ava Jae
March 1, 2016 by Sky Pony Press
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

Alien queen Kora has a problem as vast as the endless crimson deserts. She’s the first female ruler of her territory in generations, but her people are rioting and call for her violent younger twin brother to take the throne. Despite assassination attempts, a mounting uprising of nomadic human rebels, and pressure to find a mate to help her rule, she’s determined to protect her people from her brother’s would-be tyrannical rule.

Eros is a rebel soldier hated by aliens and human alike for being a half-blood. Yet that doesn’t stop him from defending his people, at least until Kora’s soldiers raze his camp and take him captive. He’s given an ultimatum: be an enslaved bodyguard to Kora, or be executed for his true identity—a secret kept even from him.

When Kora and Eros are framed for the attempted assassination of her betrothed, they flee. Their only chance of survival is to turn themselves in to the high court, where revealing Eros’s secret could mean a swift public execution. But when they uncover a violent plot to end the human insurgency, they must find a way to work together to prevent genocide.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Alien queen and rebel framed.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
Welllll I don’t want to get too specific because spoilers, but I will say it involves kissing. Lots of kissing. And sand.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
In my dorm room! Which doesn’t sound exciting except when you consider my agent had to call back because I was walking to my dorm when she first called and she played it so cool that I had no idea she was calling with The News until the call take two.

What’s your favorite junk food?
Fruit dipped in melted, super-low sugar, super-dark chocolate! Which doesn’t sound like junk food until you consider it’s one of the only sweets I can have, as I try my best not to eat anything with added sugar in it. So. :)

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
A (clean) paintbrush. I have no idea why it’s there, to be honest.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Seven Ways We Lie by Riley Redgate
March 8, 2016 from Amulet Books
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

Paloma High School is ordinary by anyone’s standards. It’s got the same cliques, the same prejudices, the same suspect cafeteria food. And like every high school, every student has something to hide—whether it’s Kat, the thespian who conceals her trust issues onstage; or Valentine, the neurotic genius who’s planted the seed of a school scandal.

When that scandal bubbles over, and rumors of a teacher-student affair surface, everyone starts hunting for someone to blame. For the unlikely allies at the heart of it all, the collision of their seven ordinary-seeming lives results in extraordinary change.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Seven deadly sins. One scandal.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
I’m kind of a sucker for epiphany scenes. Not to get spoilery, but in one scene, one of the narrators watches someone close to him have a total breakdown, and realizes how much about the world he still doesn’t understand. It’s very vulnerable for him and I’m quite happy with the way it turned out.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
I was sitting on my bed in my dorm room in fourth floor Old Kenyon!

What’s your favorite junk food?
Every single junk food. All of them. Fries, chicken nuggets, burgers, I’ll eat it all.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
Five boxfoxes … I’m an adult, I swear to God. (If you have never seen a boxfox. It is the cutest stuffed animal in the world.)

Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin
February 2, 2016 from Balzer + Bray
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

The first thing you’re going to want to know about me is: Am I a boy, or am I a girl?

Riley Cavanaugh is many things: Punk rock. Snarky. Rebellious. And gender fluid. Some days Riley identifies as a boy, and others as a girl. The thing is . . . Riley isn’t exactly out yet. And between starting a new school and having a congressman father running for reelection in uber-conservative Orange County, the pressure—media and otherwise—is building up in Riley’s so-called “normal” life.

On the advice of a therapist, Riley starts an anonymous blog to vent those pent-up feelings and tell the truth of what it’s REALLY like to be a gender-fluid teenager. But just as Riley’s starting to settle in at school—even developing feelings for a mysterious outcast—the blog goes viral, and an unnamed commenter discovers Riley’s real identity, threatening exposure. Riley must make a choice: walk away from what the blog has created—a lifeline, new friends, a cause to believe in—or stand up, come out, and risk everything.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Gender-fluid teen’s blog goes viral.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
Riley, the protagonist, flees the high school cafeteria after a bout of bullying leads to a vicious anxiety attack. Bec, a mysterious outcast with lightsaber-blue eyes, follows and pulls Riley from the clutches of the attack. Sparks fly, and a rather unconventional friendship (maybe more?) begins.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
I was sitting at my desk at my day job. When my agent’s name popped up on my phone, I got full body chills and ran outside to take the call. She was walking through Manhattan amidst sirens and honking cabs. I was standing on the curb next to a giant UPS truck. We had to yell into the phone in order to hear each other. When she told me there’d been an offer on my book, there may have been a great deal of screaming on both ends. Allegedly.

What’s your favorite junk food?
There’s a vegan fast food joint in OC called Native Foods. They have something called the Scorpion Burger. It tastes like fulfillment and inner beauty. I feel empty inside because I’m not currently eating one.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
The discarded wall-mount for my remote control lightsaber.

Keeping Up With the Debuts: What Lee Kelly Learned from Her Debut

Posted February 3, 2016 by Jana in Giveaway, Guest Post, Keeping Up With the Debuts / 5 Comments

Keeping Up With the Debuts is an original That Artsy Reader Girl feature, where I bring back former debut authors are give them the opportunity to talk about what they learned from their debut novel and what’s next for them!

I’m so excited to welcome Lee Kelly back to the blog today! Lee’s debut novel, City of Savages, came out exactly one year ago today! She’s here to tell us about what she learned from her debut novel and to tell us about her new book, A Criminal Magic, which released yesterday!

What I Learned from My Debut
by Lee Kelly

It’s February 3, 2016 – exactly one day after the release of my second novel, A CRIMINAL MAGIC, and exactly one year after the release of my first, CITY OF SAVAGES. My debut somehow simultaneously feels like ages ago, and also just last week. I think time does funny tricks like that, bends and flexes and knots around big events in people’s lives, and this past year has been no exception.

Whenever I catch up or run into people I haven’t seen in a while, one of the first questions they tend to ask is, “Oh hey! How’s the book doing?” And while this used to feel like an antagonizing inquiry into my personal worth last winter, these days, it just feels like an honest question. I’ve gotten over the vulnerability, the obsession, the insecurity of my debut – and while debuting was truly a rollercoaster of an endeavor, I’d like to think I’m a stronger writer and person for it.

The funny thing is, with my second book, I find myself slipping back into my “debut insanity” mindset a little bit – but maybe this is somewhat inevitable, right? Maybe releasing books is a little like having kids – maybe you just can’t escape that period where life gets turned upside down, where you’re more vulnerable and irritable and feel like you may never be normal again. Here are five lessons I learned the first book around that I’m trying to remember this time:

1. Reading is subjective, and it’s supposed to be. There was a three month stretch, right around release, where I sadly spent waaaay too much time tracking Amazon and Goodreads reviews, pouring over trades, wondering when I noticed someone currently reading my novel if they’d be the type of person who would enjoy a pair of post-apocalyptic sisters, or the type who would make a hate-rant video about their idiocy.
But the truth is, tastes are erratic and completely unpredictable. I’ll hand a novel to my mom, convinced she’ll devour it, and she can’t get through the first twenty pages. My sister and I will see a movie, and at the end she’ll ask, “Wasn’t that amazing?” to which I answer, “Eh.”

Thing is, entertainment is supposed to be subjective – there are many kinds of genres and styles and messages and if we all liked the same thing, we’d all write and make the same things, and what a boring world that would be.

2. Don’t ask people if they’ve read your book. That moment where you know your husband gave a copy of your book to his colleague, and you know she liked the first two chapters because she told you in person a month earlier, and yet here you are at a cocktail party and books come up and she says nothing. VERDICT: As my father flippantly says, “So what! Who cares?” I never bring it up because she either forgot or she hated it, and those are high odds for a really awkward conversation.

3. The online book community is wonderful…. I never knew how incredibly robust and communal and supportive and fun the book community was online until I debuted. I got on Twitter late, and only after I signed my book deal with Simon & Schuster, but I seriously feel so grateful for the amazing community of fellow writers, readers, bloggers, agents and publishers that make the book community so wonderful and accessible online.

4. …But sometimes you have to go dark. For all of its amazingness, thanks to social media, it is so, so easy these days to check in on friends and colleagues and other writers, see all of the wonderful things going on in their careers (New deals! Stellar reviews! Film options!) and feel incredibly small and unworthy. And while it took me a LONG time to figure this out, I finally realized that when I’m in a really insecure place (like waiting on feedback from my editor or agent, or really struggling with a particular scene or a tough revision), I just have to turn off the internet. I’m not intentionally in the business of torturing myself, but for a short period back in 2015, I have to admit I was pretty darn good at it.

5. At the end of the day, I love writing. No matter how my last book or my new book is received, at the end of the day, I write novels because I love writing – the actual act, not everything that might come or does come after it. So I have to sit down at the computer as a writer, not as an author, which helps frame all of the above concerns as privileges.

To read about Lee’s debut novel, A City of Savages, click here!
Continue on to read about A Criminal Magic and enter to win one of two prize packages of BOTH of Lee Kelly’s books!

A Criminal Magic by Lee Kelly
February 2, 2016 from Simon & Schuster
Add to Goodreads • Buy from Amazon

THE NIGHT CIRCUS meets PEAKY BLINDERS in Lee Kelly’s new magical realism, crossover novel.

Magic is powerful, dangerous and addictive – and after passage of the 18th Amendment, it is finally illegal.

It’s 1926 in Washington, DC, and while Anti-Sorcery activists have achieved the Prohibition of sorcery, the city’s magic underworld is booming. Sorcerers cast illusions to aid mobsters’ crime sprees. Smugglers funnel magic contraband in from overseas. Gangs have established secret performance venues where patrons can lose themselves in magic, and take a mind-bending, intoxicating elixir known as the sorcerer’s shine.

Joan Kendrick, a young sorcerer from Norfolk County, Virginia accepts an offer to work for DC’s most notorious crime syndicate, the Shaw Gang, when her family’s home is repossessed. Alex Danfrey, a first-year Federal Prohibition Unit trainee with a complicated past and talents of his own, becomes tapped to go undercover and infiltrate the Shaws.

Through different paths, Joan and Alex tread deep into the violent, dangerous world of criminal magic – and when their paths cross at the Shaws’ performance venue, despite their orders, and despite themselves, Joan and Alex become enchanted with one another. But when gang alliances begin to shift, the two sorcerers are forced to question their ultimate allegiances and motivations. And soon, Joan and Alex find themselves pitted against each other in a treacherous, heady game of cat-and-mouse.

A CRIMINAL MAGIC casts a spell of magic, high stakes and intrigue against the backdrop of a very different Roaring Twenties.

Lee Kelly is the author of A CRIMINAL MAGIC and CITY OF SAVAGES. She has wanted to write since she was old enough to hold a pencil, but it wasn’t until she began studying for the California Bar Exam that she conveniently started putting pen to paper. An entertainment lawyer by trade, Lee has practiced in Los Angeles and New York. She lives with her husband and children in Millburn, New Jersey. Follow her on Twitter at @leeykelly and on her website at

Lee Kelly is offering two winners copies of both City of Savages AND A Criminal Magic! Pretty sure you should enter this giveaway.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Top Ten Favorite Historical Settings

Posted February 1, 2016 by Jana in Top Ten Tuesday / 25 Comments


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

This week we’re talking about our favorite historical settings in books! I love a good historical novel, and have found a few settings I just LOVE. I’ve also got a few settings on my list that I haven’t read about yet, but really want to.


1. The High Seas – Seriously, I’m a sucker for a pirate romance set on a rickety old ship in the middle of the ocean. This is definitely my favorite historical setting of all.

2. The Scottish (Medieval) Highlands – #1. The setting itself is beautiful. #2. The men that live in this setting are beautiful (love me some highlanders). #3. The accents.

3. Italy – Italy is beautiful, past and present. I love reading about ancient Rome, Venice (YES VENICE), Florence, etc. Take me away.

4. The South – This is a new one for me within the last 3-4 years or so. I love all those historic southern gothic novels! Super atmospheric.

6. Paris, France – The city of lights was shining bright back then, too!

7. Regency England – SUCH an elegant time. “World, I bestow upon you Pride & Prejudice.” – Jane Austen. What I Did for a Duke by Julie Anne Long is my favorite, plus I love Tessa Dare’s Castles Ever After series.

8. The American West – “Hey, cowboy. *wink*”

9. Atlantis – I want this. Anyone have any recs, or is this a rare setting?

10. WWII Europe – I don’t read as many books set during this time period, but I’ve read some pretty sweeping love stories of people on opposing sides falling in love, and I love those. I’ve also read some pretty inspirational stories from this time as well. It’s one we should never forget.

5. Victorian England – I’ve got a few books on my TBR that fit this category: the Wallflowers series by Lisa Kleypas and The Luckiest Lady in London by Sherry Thomas.

What are some of your favorite historic settings? Do you have any recommendations for books you love that are set in any of my favorites?

Debut Author Challenge 2016: February Review Link-Up

Posted February 1, 2016 by Jana in Debut Author Challenge / 2 Comments

DAC2016SHappy February! How did your first month of the DAC go? Read anything you LOVED? I’m so pleased with how many reviews were linked up last month! I’ll be drawing January’s prize pack winner soon, and will be in touch with them. The prize packs are looking awesome already!

If you didn’t get to any debuts in January, no big deal! We’ve still got 11 months left, and more books are being released every week! Which books are you looking forward to this month? I’m excited about Assassin’s Heart by Sarah Ahiers, Revenge and the Wild by Michelle Modesto, and The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig! Happy reading this month!

Some things to remember:

– 2015 debuts no longer count for prize pack entries. They only counted in January.

– In order to get credit for your review, you must have read the book in 2016. If you read an ARC of a 2016 debut in 2015, it does not count. (I don’t want people with access to ARCs to have an advantage over those who don’t.)

– 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.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...