Month: May 2016

That Artsy Librarian | Just Finished My Second to Last Semester!

Posted May 27, 2016 by Jana in About Me, That Artsy Librarian / 7 Comments


That Artsy Librarian is a feature all about my journey through graduate school as I work towards my Master’s degree in Library and Information Science.

It’s been a while since I’ve talked about my grad school experience, so I thought I’d do that today! I feel like I’ve been in school forever… And I have. I’ve been in grad school for three years. I honestly can’t believe it. I never thought I’d ever go to grad school, much less do a program that takes almost as long as my undergraduate degree.

I just finished up my second to last semester, and I took library marketing and collection development classes. In marketing I spent the semester writing marketing plans for a local library. The first plan was for the ENTIRE library: all of the services and programs available there. It was so complicated and long… 20 single-spaced pages. The second plan was just for the library’s teen services department and it was 16 single-spaced pages. It was fun, but super stressful because I was never really clear on what my teacher wanted. lol. I also made an 8-minute powerpoint audio/visual presentation for my first plan. The course also required I write reviews of scholarly publications and participate in weekly discussions on our required readings. It was a very intense course.

My collection development course was interesting… I was paired up with a classmate and we had to put together a 15-minute audio/visual presentation on weeding library collections. I also did a group assignment on the principles of collection development, which I did not find incredibly useful. The bulk of my final grade came from a 20-item collection I developed for the same library I used in my marketing class. I decided to do it on art and its influence on popular culture. Seeing as how I got my undergrad degree in art history, I thought this was a really fun topic and I enjoyed my 20+ hours of research. Not only did each collection item have to fit the theme, it also had to have positive professional reviews from publications such as Kirkus and Publishers Weekly. I spent a lot of time researching those and quoting them in my justifications for each item. I also had to fight for why the collection was necessary, how I would maintain the collection and add to it in the future, and I had to include an itemized list of prices and vendors. I also had to design a marketing tool to advertise the collection to the general public. We all know graphic design is my thing, and I made a large format poster that looks awesome.

I’ve always enjoyed collection development, and this was the third collection I developed for my program. I’ve also done a children’s picture book collection on multicultural friendships and a teen collection on post-apocalyptic topics (fiction, graphic novels, non-fiction, reference, DVDs, CDs, etc.). I find collection development to be a bit of a treasure hunt and I have a lot of fun searching for items. This has been something I’ve learned about myself since I joined the program, and I’m actually surprised! It’s a good kind of surprise, though.

This was probably the most work intensive semester I’ve had, hence the lack of activity going on here on the blog. I’ve done my best to keep up, but I know things slowed down a lot. I did get A’s in both classes, though! 100% in marketing and 99% in collection development, so my devotion pid off. Now I have a few months off to read and relax and enjoy the summer before jumping in to my final semester. I’m taking my last class this fall, and it’s my capstone course. Essentially, I will be designing and conducting a research study. My final paper of the program will be discussing the results of that study and their applications and relevancy to the field of information science. I already chose my topic, but more on that in a later post!

Yay summer!!!

Sweet by Emmy Laybourne Paperback Release Giveaway

Posted May 23, 2016 by Jana in Book Spotlight, Giveaway / 13 Comments

Today we’re celebrating the paperback release of Sweet by Emmy Laybourne, which releases on June 7th! It’s also got a brand new cover, which I quite like. The lovely people at Macmillan have offered my readers the chance to win a copy. Read a little bit about the book and enter to win using the Rafflecopter below.

Sweet by Emmy Laybourne
Published by Square Fish on June 7, 2016
(Originally published on June 1, 2015)
Genres: Horror, Contemporary, Thriller, Survival
Pages: 304
AmazonAdd to Goodreads

They’d kill to get thin.

The luxurious celebrity cruise launching the trendy new diet sweetener Solu should be the vacation of a lifetime. But Laurel is starting to regret accepting her friend Viv’s invitation. She’s already completely embarrassed herself in front of celebrity host Tom Forelli-the hottest guy ever!-and she’s too sick to even trythe sweetener. And that’s before Viv and all the other passengers start acting really strange.

Tom knows that he should be grateful for this job and the chance to shed his former-child-star image. His publicists have even set up a ‘romance’ with a sexy reality star. But as things on the ship start to get wild, he finds himself drawn to a different girl. And when the hosting gig turns into an expose on the shocking side effects of Solu, it’s Laurel that he’s determined to save.

Emmy Laybourne, author of the Monument 14 trilogy, takes readers on a dream vacation in Sweet that goes first comically, then tragically, then horrifyingly, wrong!

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The Debut Dish: May 2016, Issue #2 (+ Giveaways)

Posted May 22, 2016 by Jana in Author Interview, Debut Author Challenge, Debut Dish, Giveaway / 20 Comments

The Debut Dish, a bi-monthly 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 of The Debut Dish features Julie Eshbaugh (Ivory and Bone), Jennifer Mason-Black (Devil and the Bluebird), Harriet Reuter Hapgood (The Square Root of Summer), Laura Tims (Please Don’t Tell), Anna Michels (26 Kisses), and Mike Lowery (Doodle Adventures: The Search for the Slimy Space Slugs!).

Ivory and Bone by Julie Eshbaugh
June 7, 2016 from HarperTeen
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

A prehistoric fantasy—with allusions to Pride and Prejudice.

Hunting, gathering, and keeping his family safe—that’s the life seventeen-year-old Kol knows. Then bold, enigmatic Mya arrives from the south with her family, and Kol is captivated. He wants her to like and trust him, but any hopes of impressing her are ruined when he makes a careless—and nearly grave—mistake. However, there’s something more to Mya’s cool disdain…a history wrought with loss that comes to light when another clan arrives. With them is Lo, an enemy from Mya’s past who Mya swears has ulterior motives.

As Kol gets to know Lo, tensions between Mya and Lo escalate until violence erupts. Faced with shattering losses, Kol is forced to question every person he’s trusted. One thing is for sure: this was a war that Mya or Lo—Kol doesn’t know which—had been planning all along.

Describe your book in five words or less.
A sweeping prehistoric fantasy romance.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
My favorite scene involves a trip through a storm in a tiny boat out on the sea. There’s a certain level of drama and danger inherent in the situation, but it’s also a very emotionally charged scene. (A few readers have told me it’s their favorite, too!)

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
I was at home–which is a good thing because it was an emotional moment, so I’m glad I wasn’t at work! There were lots of follow-up calls while I was at work, though, and I worried that my co-workers would think I was interviewing because I kept slipping out to take calls on my cell phone.

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.

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Devil and the Bluebird by Jennifer Mason-Black
May 17, 2016 from Amulet Books
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

“Devil-at-the-crossroads” folklore finds its way to YA via this moody, magical tale

Blue Riley has wrestled with her own demons ever since the loss of her mother to cancer. But when she encounters a beautiful devil at her town crossroads, it’s her runaway sister’s soul she fights to save. The devil steals Blue’s voice—inherited from her musically gifted mother—in exchange for a single shot at finding Cass.

Armed with her mother’s guitar, a knapsack of cherished mementos, and a pair of magical boots, Blue journeys west in search of her sister. When the devil changes the terms of their deal, Blue must reevaluate her understanding of good and evil and open herself to finding family in unexpected places.

In Devil and the Bluebird, Jennifer Mason-Black delivers a heart-wrenching depiction of loss and hope.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Finding sister, losing soul…?

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
Oooh, there are a few. Hmm, I guess when the main character, Blue, takes part in a musical event held in an abandoned barn in rural Minnesota. Music and lantern light and everyone sharing what they have, even though most of them have very little. It’s the first time she’s played for a real audience, one made mostly of musicians, and it marks a change in her understanding of who she is and where she’s going.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
In my house, boringly enough. I had just walked in, and had my hands full of bags, and my daughter had a friend over, and I was trying not to let on what was up while I was on the phone. My kids knew what a call from Alice (my agent) meant, though, so everyone knew within a matter of minutes.

What’s your favorite junk food?
Cheesy anything. :-)

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
A small turtle shell. We found it along the water this summer. I love turtles, and keep old shells whenever I find them. I also have a tiny mummified snapping turtle, but that doesn’t go on the desk.

The Square Root of Summer by Harriet Reuter Hapgood
May 3, 2016 from Roaring Brook Press
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

This is what it means to love someone. This is what it means to grieve someone. It’s a little bit like a black hole. It’s a little bit like infinity.

Gottie H. Oppenheimer is losing time. Literally. When the fabric of the universe around her seaside town begins to fray, she’s hurtled through wormholes to her past:

To last summer, when her grandfather Grey died. To the afternoon she fell in love with Jason, who wouldn’t even hold her hand at the funeral. To the day her best friend Thomas moved away and left her behind with a scar on her hand and a black hole in her memory.

Although Grey is still gone, Jason and Thomas are back, and Gottie’s past, present, and future are about to collide—and someone’s heart is about to be broken.

Describe your book in five words or less.
There’s a time-travelling kitten.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
My favourite scene actually appears a few times, split up in vignettes throughout the book – a garden party on Midsummer’s Eve, with a roaring fire, a drunk grandpa, people scattered on blankets in the grass, and a first kiss… It’s a memory, taking place before the events of the book, and my main character Gottie looks back on it in several different ways throughout the book.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
I’m a freelance journalist and I was doing a shift at Stylist magazine in London when I got the first phone call from my agent, saying we had an offer. I had to hide in the stairwell and whisper into my mobile because I was supposed to be subbing a feature on superfoods to deadline.

What’s your favorite junk food?

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
My desk is actually in storage right now, so it’s buried underneath a heap of cardboard boxes containing everything from shoes to spices to CDs. I miss you, little desk.

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Please Don’t Tell by Laura Tims
May 24, 2016 from HarperCollins
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

Joy killed Adam Gordon—at least, that’s what she thinks. The night of the party is hazy at best. But she knows what Adam did to her twin sister, Grace, and she knows he had to pay for it.

What Joy doesn’t expect is that someone else saw what happened. And one night a note is shoved through her open window, threatening Joy that all will be revealed. Now the anonymous blackmailer starts using Joy to expose the secrets of their placid hometown. And as the demands escalate, Joy must somehow uncover the blackmailer’s identity before Joy is forced to make a terrible choice.

In this darkly compelling narrative, debut author Laura Tims explores the complicated relationship between two sisters, and what one will do for the other. It’s a story that will keep readers turning pages and questioning their own sense of right and wrong.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Girl might have killed boy for revenge. (Okay that’s seven words, but five is pretty hard!)

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
Aw man, talking about my FAVORITE scenes would mean tons of spoilers. But there’s this one scene where one of my main characters, Grace, is lying in a field with a bunch of other kids, and she feels like it should probably be a special moment for her like it is for everyone else there, but she just feels sort of socially anxious and wants to go home. It’s a really weird favorite scene but I like it for some reason!

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
At my job working in the library in college! I got so excited I accidentally left my shift half an hour early.

What’s your favorite junk food?
I’m addicted to any form of cheese. Like it’s actually vaguely alarming how much cheese I can eat in one sitting.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
A shamrock plant named Cinnamon! There’s also a rock that looks like it has eyes. I need some sort of supervision.

26 Kisses by Anna Michels
May 24, 2016 from Simon Pulse
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

Breaking up with her boyfriend is not how Veda planned on starting her summer. When Mark makes it clear that it’s over between them, Veda is heartbroken and humiliated—but, more importantly, she’s inspired. And so she sets out on the love quest of a lifetime: use the summer to forget about Mark, move on, and move up. All she has to do is kiss twenty-six boys with twenty-six different names—one for each letter of the alphabet.

From the top of the Ferris wheel at her hometown carnival to the sandy dunes of Lake Michigan, Veda takes every opportunity she can to add kisses (and boys) to her list, and soon the breakup doesn’t sting quite as much. But just when Veda thinks she has the whole kissing thing figured out, she meets someone who turns her world upside down.

By turns hilarious and heartbreaking, Anna Michels’s debut is the story of one girl who realizes that moving on from the supposed love of your life means taking a chance—and having the courage to love again.

Describe your book in five words or less.
The ultimate summer love challenge!

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
My favorite scenes are the kissing scenes–all 26 of them ;)

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
I was in my car on a lunchtime phone call to my agent! Then I had to go back in and work afterwards. It was a very long afternoon.

What’s your favorite junk food?
Chips and salsa, with a good book in hand. All junk food tastes better while reading!

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
I have a small bust of an emperor that I bought in Rome while I was living there as an exchange student. His name is Alexanderplatz, and he has stood by me for several NaNoWriMos, three and a half drafted novels, and more procrastination than I care to think about.

Doodle Adventures: The Search for the Slimy Space Slugs! by Mike Lowery
May 17, 2016 from Workman Publishing Company
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

Draw your way through the story!

Doodle Adventures: The Search for the Slimy Space Slugs! is a lighthearted fantasy where the reader first draws him- or herself into the story, and then continues by following prompts and adding more illustrations and doodles. Set in space, the book invites the reader to join Carl, a duck and member of a super-secret international group of explorers, on a journey in search of a very important grail-like object. The book is sturdy paper over board with beautiful cream paper—perfect for defacing! And by the end, the reader will have co-written a tale to return to again and again, and show off to family and friends.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Awesome action adventure doodle book!

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
The running gag of the book is that we (the reader) get to draw things that end up helping or getting in the way of a duck named Carl that’s always angry for some reason. In one scene we have to draw a special present for a space slug emperor’s birthday party…and it ends up getting Carl thrown into a dungeon.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
I was actually in the Workman offices pitching the idea.

What’s your favorite junk food?
Spicy kettle chips!

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
A heating pad for a cat. My wife bought it so the cat would quit laying on her computer while she’s trying to work.

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Lynne Matson’s Nil on Fire Mood Board | Nil on Fire Blog Tour

Posted May 20, 2016 by Jana in Blog Tour / 0 Comments

Lynne Matson’s Nil on Fire Mood Board | Nil on Fire Blog Tour

Welcome to my stop along the Nil on Fire blog tour, hosted by Macmillan Publishers! I’m a huge fan of the Nil series, and it all comes to and end with this final installment, out May 31st. I’m pleased to have author Lynne Matson on the blog today to show us her Nil on Fire mood board! I think it’s perfect, and hopefully it inspires you to check the series out! Followed by her mood board, read about Nil on Fire, the rest of the series, and Lynne herself.

Nil on Fire Mood Board by Lynne Matson

Jana, I had so much fun making this mood board, which I put together especially for NIL ON FIRE! NOF has three points of view: one guy, one girl, and Nil. Yes, the island finally gets its own POV! And, even cooler, through Nil’s point of view you actually see and hear from other characters too…so fans of books one and two will get to spend time with all their favorite characters (unless I already killed them off lol).

For this board, I have the four main characters, two of which are separated by burning lava… which tells you which twosome the island is definitely coming between.:) And of course, Nil gets the last word at the bottom.

Fun fact: All the island pictures included here are my own! I took them back in 2010, when I traveled to Hawaii on vacation–the very place that inspired the idea behind NIL.

Without further ado, here you go! Nil on Fire… in pictures!

NIL ON FIRE mood board

Jana, thank you so much for having me today! It was a blast! And thank you to all my readers for taking a chance on a crazy island, and for sticking with me to the end. This book is for you!:)

Nil on Fire by Lynne Matson
Series: Nil #3
Published by Henry Holt & Co. on May 31, 2016
Pages: 416
AmazonBarnes & NobleAdd to Goodreads

Despite Rives and Skye’s attempt to destroy Nil, the island remains. And back in this world, Nil won’t let Skye go. Haunted by a darkness she can’t ignore, Skye wrestles with Nil nightmares that worsen by the day and threaten to tear her apart. As Skye fights to keep her mind intact, she realizes that to finally break free of Nil, she must end Nil’s vicious cycle once and for all–and she can’t do it alone.

Who will return to Nil, and in the end, who will survive? In this thrilling final installment of the Nil series, the stakes have never been higher: everyone’s fate hangs in the balance, including Nil’s own–and Nil will fight to the death. When the full force of the island is unleashed, Skye faces an impossible choice, a cruel one she’d never imagined she’d have to make. Soon one Nil truth becomes painfully clear: only one side can win.

Losing isn’t an option, but winning will cost Skye everything.

Perfect for fans of Lost and survivalist stories, NIL ON FIRE is a stunning conclusion to the Nil trilogy that will leave readers breathless.


Nil | Nil Unlocked | Nil on Fire

Nil Synopsis

On the island of Nil, the rules are set. You have one year. Exactly 365 days–to escape, or you die.

Seventeen-year-old Charley doesn’t know the rules. She doesn’t even know where she is. The last thing Charley remembers is blacking out in an Atlanta parking lot, and when she wakes up, she’s naked in an empty rock field.

Lost and alone, Charley hunts for a way out. She discovers desolate beaches and human remains, but no sign of civilization–until she meets Thad, the gorgeous leader of a clan of teenage refugees. Soon Charley learns that leaving the island is harder than she thought… and so is falling in love. With Thad’s time running out, Charley realizes that to save their future, Charley must first save him. And on an island rife with hidden dangers, their greatest threat is time.

They can’t stop the clock. They can only hope to beat it.

About Lynne Matson

A former lawyer, Lynne thinks writing books for teens is much more fun. She’s the author of the award-winning Nil series, a young-adult trilogy about a mysterious island where teens have one year to escape, or die. NIL was awarded a “Perfect 10” and a starred review from VOYA, and NIL was a 2015-16 Florida Teens Read Award Finalist and is a current Eliot Rosewater Indiana High School Book Award Finalist and a Missouri Gateway Readers Award Finalist for 2016-17. Lynne’s books have been translated into several languages and are on numerous state reading lists. NIL and NIL UNLOCKED are out now; the final book in the series, NIL ON FIRE, releases May 31, 2016.

When she’d not writing books or reading them, you’ll find Lynne listening to music, going for a run, messing around with paint, or hanging out with her husband and their four boys . . . probably at the beach. Cookies are her kryptonite, especially Thin Mints. Her current Netflix obsession? ARROW.

Website | TwitterFacebookGoodreads | Tumblr | Instagram

The Crown’s Game Blog Tour | Debut Book Spotlight (+ Giveaway)

Posted May 18, 2016 by Jana in Blog Tour, Book Spotlight, Giveaway / 0 Comments

The Crown’s Game Blog Tour | Debut Book Spotlight (+ Giveaway)

Welcome to my stop along the official blog tour for The Crown’s Game, hosted by Rock Star Book Tours! The Crown’s Game is getting wonderful reviews, and I’m so excited to read it. Plus, it’s a debut book so if you’re looking for Debut Author Challenge books his one fits the bill! Read a little about the book and Evelyn, and then make sure you enter to win a beautiful necklace inspired by the book!

the crown's gameThe Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye
Published by Balzer + Bray on May 17, 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Historical Fiction
Available in: Hardcover, audiobook, ebook
Add to Goodreads 
Purchase: Amazon • Barnes & Noble • iBooks

Vika Andreyeva can summon the snow and turn ash into gold. Nikolai Karimov can see through walls and conjure bridges out of thin air. They are enchanters—the only two in Russia—and with the Ottoman Empire and the Kazakhs threatening, the Tsar needs a powerful enchanter by his side.

And so he initiates the Crown’s Game, an ancient duel of magical skill—the greatest test an enchanter will ever know. The victor becomes the Imperial Enchanter and the Tsar’s most respected adviser. The defeated is sentenced to death.

Raised on tiny Ovchinin Island her whole life, Vika is eager for the chance to show off her talent in the grand capital of Saint Petersburg. But can she kill another enchanter—even when his magic calls to her like nothing else ever has?

For Nikolai, an orphan, the Crown’s Game is the chance of a lifetime. But his deadly opponent is a force to be reckoned with—beautiful, whip smart, imaginative—and he can’t stop thinking about her.

And when Pasha, Nikolai’s best friend and heir to the throne, also starts to fall for the mysterious enchantress, Nikolai must defeat the girl they both love… or be killed himself.

As long-buried secrets emerge, threatening the future of the empire, it becomes dangerously clear… the Crown’s Game is not one to lose.

About Evelyn Skye

Evelyn Skye was once offered a job by the C.I.A., she not-so-secretly wishes she was on “So You Think You Can Dance,” and if you challenge her to a pizza-eating contest, she guarantees she will win. When she isn’t writing, Evelyn can be found chasing her daughter on the playground or sitting on the couch, immersed in a good book and eating way too many cookies. THE CROWN’S GAME is her first novel. Evelyn can be found online at and on Twitter @EvelynSkyeYA.

Website • Twitter • Facebook • Goodreads • Tumblr • Instagram


1 winner will receive a beautiful custom THE CROWN’S GAME necklace (similar to the one in the photo below) made by the lovely Tales of A Ravenous Reader, US Only.

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Check out the other tour stops!

5/9 – Dark Faerie Tales – Guest Post
5/10 – Owl Always Be Reading – Guest Post
5/11 – 125Pages – Review
5/12 – A Backwards Story – Review
5/13 – Two Chicks on Books – Guest Post

5/16 – The Reader Lines – Review
5/17 – Once Upon a Twilight – Guest Post
5/18 – That Artsy Reader Girl – Spotlight
5/19 – Supernatural Snark – Guest Post
5/20 – Mundie Moms – Review

Discussion: Lauren Oliver’s Delirium Trilogy Gets New Covers

Posted May 17, 2016 by Jana in Cover Talk, Discussion / 13 Comments

We’ve all come to expect that the trilogies we love might possibly get new covers. It’s kind of a thing that happens. I’m usually not ok with it. I was not happy when Stephanie Perkins’s Anna and the French Kiss companion books were redesigned, I hate the new covers for The Winner’s Curse trilogy by Marie Rutkoski, and redesigning the covers of the Ruby Red trilogy by Kerstin Gier is a downright sin.

The Delirium trilogy has been redesigned three times now. I loved Delirium‘s original cover, especially on the hardback because removing the dust jacket gives you more cover detail of the woman’s face.

I’m not the biggest fan anymore (what can I say? Tastes change). But I like it much better than the “random girl on the cover” syndrome we have been exposed to with the most recent cover redesign.


Boy, did I hate these. At least the original cover stood out from the crowd. These ones look so generic and weird (who shoves flowers in their faces like this?), plus the model looks like she can only make one facial expression: “I’m going to seduce you with my slightly separated lips and my bedroom eyes,” which doesn’t even make sense because love is outlawed in this trilogy. To be honest, I’ve always loved random girls on covers because I like to picture my own characters, thank you very much.


But now… LOOK at this re-design. I love them! I want to re-buy these books with these covers, and this rarely happens to me! But these are so pretty! I love the minimalist design and the colors and the symbolism. SO great. I can see adults, teens, boys, girls, etc. reading these whereas the older covers make the series look so juvenile and geared towards girls. This is so much better, and I can see the trilogy popping back up on everyone’s radar as a result of these new covers. And the novella covers are pretty great too.


So! What do you think of these new covers? What do you think of cover changes in general? Do you usually like the change? Do you get mad having to re-buy books so your covers match? Do you care at all? Let me know in the comments!

(New cover images taken from the Epic Reads site.)

Holly Schindler Guest Post | Spark Blog Tour (+ Giveaway)

Posted May 16, 2016 by Jana in Blog Tour, Giveaway, Guest Post / 2 Comments

Holly Schindler Guest Post | Spark Blog Tour (+ Giveaway)

Welcome to my spot along the Spark blog tour, hosted by The Irish Banana Review! I’m pleased to turn the blog over to the author of Spark, Holly Schindler, for a guest post.

I asked Holly:
If you could write yourself into Spark,
what kind of character would you be and why?

Following her post, read all about Spark and enter to win one of three finished copies of the book!

Holly Schindler on Her Place in Spark

In many ways, I did write myself into SPARK. I’m a little bit Quin—I’ve worn glasses since I was nine, and I’ve always been a giant reader, always written. (I was writing stories at my child-sized rolltop desk when I was a little girl!)

I’m also a little bit Cass—I’m a music junkie, and have always loved anything vintage. In high school, I wore more vintage clothes than new.

And I’m a little bit Dylan—I was a really shy kid. You definitely didn’t hear my voice much in class. I’m not a stutterer—I didn’t have the same reason not to be a big talker—but I do know what it’s like to feel like the quiet one in a giant group of more extraverted classmates.

…And that brings me to one of the central themes of SPARK: Growing up, I also felt, just like all the kids in Advanced Drama, what it was like to be full of flaws. But the thing is, we ALL have flaws. Or at least, perceived flaws, both internal and external. We all have that voice inside our head that says we’re not quite good enough—that’s constantly musing about how great it would be to snap our fingers and fix our shortcomings.

SPARK encourages readers to imagine what it would be like if you could magically erase your flaws…as the video below explains:

Spark by Holly Schindler
Published by HarperTeen on May 17, 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Magical Realism
Add to Goodreads
Amazon • B&N • IndieBound • iBooks • Book Depository

The local Avery Theater was just a run-down building to Quin—until her mother told her the tragic love story of Nick and Emma that played out on the theater’s stage all those years ago. Quin is convinced it’s the perfect story to rewrite for her drama class, but when she goes searching for more information, she makes a startling discovery—the Avery is rapidly regaining its former splendor and setting the stage for her classmates Dylan and Cass to relive Nick and Emma’s romance. Quin can see the spark between them, but it’s up to her to make sure her friends—and the Avery—can both be saved this time around.

About the Author:
Holly Schindler

I’m a hybrid author of critically acclaimed traditionally published and Amazon bestselling independently published works for readers of all ages. My previous YAs (A BLUE SO DARK, PLAYING HURT, and FERAL) have received starred reviews from Booklist and Publishers Weekly, won silver and gold medals from ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year and the IPPY Awards, respectively, been featured on Booklist’s First Novels for Youth, School Library Journal’s “What’s Hot in YA,” and been selected as a PW Pick.

Going hybrid means that I’ve been able to explore all sorts of new avenues—short fiction, sequels, I’m even going to be branching out into doing some illustrative work. Throughout 2016, I’m releasing one short story a month in the Forever Finley Short Story Cycle. The cycle begins with “Come December”.



Also, in honor of SPARK’s release, Holly is holding a sale on PLAY IT AGAIN, the sequel to her YA romance, PLAYING HURT. For a limited time, PLAY IT AGAIN is $.99.

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Follow the rest of the tour!

Week 1:
Week 2:

Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton | Debut Author Book Review

Posted May 13, 2016 by Jana in Book Review, Debut Author Challenge, Young Adult / 1 Comment

Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton | Debut Author Book ReviewRebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton
Series: Rebel of the Sands #1
Published by Viking Children's Books on March 8, 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 320
Format: eARC
Source: From the publisher through Netgalley
Amazon Add to Goodreads
5 Stars
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.

I read Rebel of the Sands a couple months ago, and I still can’t stop thinking about it. Simply put, I loved everything about this book from the beautiful cover to the amazingly fitting title to the words inside. As always, my main points are bolded.

1. THE COVER. Moving on.

2. The story is this awesome middle eastern, wild west, Aladdin, mystic conglomeration with magic and mythical horses and sand and a sultan and a secret world of magical and powerful beings. It’s just so unique and exciting. It grabbed me from the first page.

3. The world feels both modern and historic. There’s djinni and ghouls and traversing the desert by horse, but there’s also modern technology like gun factories and trains. This hybrid of various world building elements felt very fresh. So often we see fantasies pulling elements from fairytales or other tried and true fantasy novels, but Rebel of the Sands feels very original and authentic.

4. Amani is a wonderful heroine. She’s smart, sassy, and filled with quick wit and the perfect amount of paranoia to make her someone you can really get behind, rather than a dumb damsel in distress. There’s no Bella complex going on here. I really love heroines that start out at rock bottom because they have nothing to lose and make quick decisions that have the power to change their lives. That’s Amani. When we meet her, her life is the epitome of misery. She’s an orphan living with her uncle who might force her to marry him, and she’s scrimping and saving so she can escape before it’s too late. You’d think she’d be submissive and quiet living under these circumstances, but she has this fire and will not be forced to do anything she doesn’t want to do.

5. Jin is so perfect. He’s so mysterious and caring and he gave me the swoons. I loved the chemistry between him and Amani because there’s this intrigue underneath a strongly developing friendship. They look out for each other and have some of the sweetest moments.

6. This book isn’t really romancey, and I liked that a lot. So often the world and the important details sit in the back seat while the romance drives the entire story. There are hints of romance, and those hang out in the trunk. Or the luggage rack. This story is about so much more than a possible romance. However, that’s not to say things won’t get swoonier in the next book.

7. The secondary characters are just as perfect. Alwyn’s debut taught me that if she’s going to write in a detail she’s going to flesh it out. Every thing, person, and event is in this book for an important reason. There’s no filler here.

8. I can’t say anything bad about this book. I loved the writing, the details, the imagery. everything. I can’t wait for book 2!

Basically, you should read this. I mean, you have to at least be a LITTLE curious to see how an author can successfully combine the Wild West and the Middle East right? I highly recommend Rebel of the Sands.

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

Posted May 8, 2016 by Jana in Author Interview, Debut Author Challenge, Debut Dish, Giveaway / 5 Comments

The Debut Dish, a bi-monthly 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 of The Debut Dish features Erin L. Schneider (Summer of Sloane), Lindsey Klingele (The Marked Girl), Jenna Evans Welch (Love & Gelato), Sarah Jude (The May Queen Murders), Sarah Alexander (The Art of Not Breathing), Mia Garcia (Even if the Sky Falls), and Darcy Woods (Summer of Supernovas).

Summer of Sloane by Erin L. Schneider
May 3, 2016 from Disney-Hyperion
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

Warm Hawaiian sun. Lazy beach days. Flirty texts with her boyfriend back in Seattle.

These are the things seventeen-year-old Sloane McIntyre pictured when she imagined the summer she’d be spending at her mom’s home in Hawaii with her twin brother, Penn. Instead, after learning an unthinkable secret about her boyfriend, Tyler, and best friend, Mick, all she has is a fractured hand and a completely shattered heart.

Once she arrives in Honolulu, though, Sloane hopes that Hawaii might just be the escape she needs. With beach bonfires, old friends, exotic food, and the wonders of a waterproof cast, there’s no reason Sloane shouldn’t enjoy her summer. And when she meets Finn McAllister, the handsome son of a hotel magnate who doesn’t always play by the rules, she knows he’s the perfect distraction from everything that’s so wrong back home.

But it turns out a measly ocean isn’t nearly enough to stop all the emails, texts, and voicemails from her ex-boyfriend and ex-best friend, desperate to explain away their betrayal. And as her casual connection with Finn grows deeper, Sloane’s carefree summer might not be as easy to find as she’d hoped. Weighing years of history with Mick and Tyler against their deception, and the delicate possibility of new love, Sloane must decide when to forgive, and when to live for herself.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Heartbreak, possibilities, self-discovery, friendship, forgiveness.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
Finn takes Sloane to spend the day at a waterfall, and convinces her to jump — it actually ended up becoming the excerpt for the back of my book cover!

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
It all happened so fast – 17 days to be exact. And I was at home when my agent let me know…good thing too, as I’m pretty sure you could hear me squee all the way to Hawaii!

What’s your favorite junk food?
Haribo gummi bears – but only the red and the green ones!

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
A half eaten Vosge’s Mo’s Milk Chocolate & Bacon bar. Yum. :)

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The Marked Girl by Lindsey Klingele
June 7, 2016 from HarperCollins
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away (Los Angeles)…

When Cedric, crowned prince of Caelum, and his fellow royal friends (including his betrothed, Kat) find themselves stranded in modern-day L.A. via a magical portal and an evil traitor named Malquin, all they want to do is get home to Caelum—soon. Then they meet Liv, a filmmaker foster girl who just wants to get out of the system and on with her life. As she and Cedric bond, they’ll discover that she’s more connected to his world than they ever could’ve imagined…and that finding home is no easy task…

Describe your book in five words or less.
Fantasy tale turned upside-down.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
I love the scenes that take familiar fantasy tropes and drop them in the Los Angeles setting. In the ‘Storming the Castle’ chapter, the main characters have to get past obstacles (a Hollywood sightseeing bus), climb the gates (a fancy Beverly Hills hedge) and make their way to the ‘castle’ (a movie star’s mansion).

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
I was on vacation, actually! A weekend getaway to Catalina Island was made a zillion times cooler when I got that call.

What’s your favorite junk food?
Does ranch dressing count? It’s good on so many things…

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
My mom just sent me a little book that I wrote in second grade and had totally forgotten about. Weirdly, it’s also a portal fantasy (so maybe I’ve just been holding onto the same idea for 20 years…?)

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Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch
May 3, 2016 from Simon Pulse
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

Lina is spending the summer in Tuscany, but she isn’t in the mood for Italy’s famous sunshine and fairy-tale landscape. She’s only there because it was her mother’s dying wish that she get to know her father. But what kind of father isn’t around for sixteen years? All Lina wants to do is get back home.

But then Lina is given a journal that her mom had kept when she lived in Italy. Suddenly Lina’s uncovering a magical world of secret romances, art, and hidden bakeries. A world that inspires Lina, along with the ever-so-charming Ren, to follow in her mother’s footsteps and unearth a secret that has been kept from Lina for far too long. It’s a secret that will change everything she knew about her mother, her father—and even herself.

People come to Italy for love and gelato, someone tells her, but sometimes they discover much more.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Love and mystery in Italy.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
The final scene! I don’t want to give too much away, but it takes place in an Italian cemetery on a summer night.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
At my son’s first birthday party. He’d just blown out the candle and I was surrounded by people I love.

What’s your favorite junk food?
Ice cream!

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
I never seem to work at my desk, so I don’t even know! There is a toy snake sitting next to me on the couch.

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The May Queen Murders by Sarah Jude
May 3, 2016 from HMH Books for Young Readers
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

Stay on the roads. Don’t enter the woods. Never go out at night.

Those are the rules in Rowan’s Glen, a remote farming community in the Missouri Ozarks where Ivy Templeton’s family has lived for centuries. It’s an old-fashioned way of life, full of superstition and traditions, and sixteen-year-old Ivy loves it. The other kids at school may think the Glen kids are weird, but Ivy doesn’t care—she has her cousin Heather as her best friend. The two girls share everything with each other—or so Ivy thinks. When Heather goes missing after a May Day celebration, Ivy discovers that both her best friend and her beloved hometown are as full of secrets as the woods that surround them.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Murder, mystery, love, and madness.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
There’s a scene wherein Ivy is awakened early in the morning by her cousin Heather. The girls sit on the steps outside the farmhouse while Heather tells Ivy a secret. It is such an intimate moment yet also painful for Ivy as she realizes she is being left behind.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
In Target, with two of my kids on my niece’s birthday. My cell phone rang with my agent’s number as we were walking into the store, but I couldn’t hear her because of heavy wind. So we got inside to the food court where my daughter starts yelling at her brother and I promptly turned red and teary, which caused a woman to ask if I was okay. I was very okay.

What’s your favorite junk food?
Reeses’ peanut butter cups. Always.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
An antique poison bottle and a miniature jar of wishbones.

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The Art of Not Breathing by Sarah Alexander
April 1, 2016 from Usborne (UK)
April 26, 2016 from HMH Books for Young Readers (USA)
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

Since her twin brother, Eddie, drowned five years ago, sixteen-year-old Elsie Main has tried to remember what really happened that fateful day on the beach. One minute Eddie was there, and the next he was gone. Seventeen-year-old Tay McKenzie is a cute and mysterious boy that Elsie meets in her favorite boathouse hangout. When Tay introduces Elsie to the world of freediving, she vows to find the answers she seeks at the bottom of the sea.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Girl meets ocean and finds…

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
I love all the underwater scenes, and the ones with Eddie, but my favourite scene is the one in the garden with the paddling pool and the boat because it’s full of so much hope – a little glimpse of light in between all the shades of sadness.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
Getting married! Yep, I found out on my wedding day that I’d had an offer. Best day ever.

What’s your favorite junk food?
Bacon, bacon, bacon. Cheese.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
Nothing odd, only really cool stuff – like a calendar of all the 2016 debut releases and lots of coloured pens.

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Even if the Sky Falls by Mia Garcia
May 10, 2016 from Katherine Tegen Books
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

All she needs is one night to be anyone she wants.

Julie is desperate for a change. So she heads to New Orleans with her youth group to rebuild houses and pretend her life isn’t a total mess. But between her super-clingy team leader and her way-too-chipper companions, Julie feels more trapped than ever.

In a moment of daring, she ditches her work clothes for DIY fairy wings and heads straight into the heart of Mid-Summer Mardi Gras, where she locks eyes with Miles, an utterly irresistible guy with a complicated story of his own. And for once, Julie isn’t looking back. She jumps at the chance to see the real New Orleans, and in one surreal night, they dance under the stars, share their most shameful secrets, and fall in love.

But their adventure takes an unexpected turn when an oncoming hurricane changes course. As the storm gains power and Julie is pulled back into chaos she finds pretending everything is fine is no longer an option.

Describe your book in five words or less.
24-hour romance set NOLA.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
I loved every time I got to describe how my protagonist, Julie, felt like she dancing among the stars during Mid-Summer.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
At work, most likely avoiding looking at that particular email just in case it said something else.

What’s your favorite junk food?
I have re-discovered Cheetos.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
An empty Honeydukes jar. It’s odd because it is never empty, until today.

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Summer of Supernovas by Darcy Woods
May 10, 2016 from Crown Books for Young Readers
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

Fans of Jennifer E. Smith and Jenny Han will fall in love with this heartfelt and humor-laced debut following one girl’s race to find the guy of her cosmic dreams.

When zodiac-obsessed teen Wilamena Carlisle discovers a planetary alignment that won’t repeat for a decade, she’s forced to tackle her greatest astrological fear: The Fifth House—relationships and love.

But when Wil falls for a sensitive guitar player hailing from the wrong side of the astrology chart, she must decide whether a cosmically doomed love is worth rejecting her dead mother’s legacy and the very system she’s faithfully followed through a lifetime of unfailing belief.

Describe your book in five words or less.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
Hands down, the opening scene. If you want a sense of the quirky, adventurous spirit that is Wilamena Carlisle (the main character) this is Wil at her best! Plus it involves a water tower, an adorably misguided boy, a thong flash (Wil’s not the boy) and an emergency rescue team. There’s no shortage of action or absurdity. ;)

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
I was visiting with my dad when my agent Catherine Drayton called. Pretty sure I broke all the glass with my shriek, and then I did this insane vacillation between laughing and ugly crying. I will never forget Catherine saying, “Darcy, you’re going to be a published author!” I emote out my eyes every time I think of the moment.

What’s your favorite junk food?
Trader Joe’s Creamy Spinach & Artichoke dip. The box says it allegedly serves eight but this is a lie. It serves ONE. *drops the mic*

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
My tuxedo cat Ceedo Bandito. She’s a marvelously strange hybrid of aquatic feline and heart thief.

Apollycon ’17 Author/Vendor Line-Up & Registration Options (+ Giveaway)

Posted May 6, 2016 by Jana in Bookish News, Giveaway / 1 Comment

Apollycon Header


Hey there! I’m one of 25 official Apollycon 2017 bloggers so over the next year I’ll be giving you all the information on the conference so you know exactly what’s going on.

Today is the magical day of the unveiling of the Apollycon author and vendor line-up! It started at 9AM EST this morning on the conference Facebook page, and was revealed in three parts (hourly) on the Apollycon Twitter and Instagram accounts. In case you missed it, here’s that list of gold:


Follow the Apollycon social media pages so you don’t miss anything important!

Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
(and it’s a good idea to sign up for the Newsletter too)

Ok, so also… Today is the day we tell you all about Apollycon registration options and the different passes you can purchase. There are four: Titan, Apollyon, Demi-god and FAST PASS. Each one is different and provides you with different opportunities, so make sure you read carefully and pick the one that works best for you.


And here are the conference pass options:

apollycon titan pass

Apollycon apollycon pass

Apollycon demigod pass



You will still need to register through the Eventbrite page, but there will be no cost for your general signing ticket. This will grant you entry to the Saturday signing, and all authors and vendors in attendance.

Woo! So exciting! Which pass do you want to buy when the time comes?


Of course, we have a giveaway for you! One winner will receive a “Front of the Line” pass for Apollycon which they may redeem during one of the Apollycon signings to jump the to the front of one line. It is a one-time use pass. ID must be presented when claiming the pass. It is transferrable. If you win and later find you cannot attend, you may transfer the pass once to another attendee.

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