Month: September 2016

Who Wins?: 100 Historical Figures Go Head-to-Head and You Decide the Winner! By Clay Swartz | Book Review

Posted September 28, 2016 by Jana in Book Review / 0 Comments

Who Wins?: 100 Historical Figures Go Head-to-Head and You Decide the Winner! By Clay Swartz | Book ReviewWho Wins?: 100 Historical Figures Go Head-to-Head and You Decide the Winner! by Clay Swartz
Published by Workman on July 12, 2016
Genres: Non-Fiction
Pages: 104
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher (Mail)
Amazon Add to Goodreads
5 Stars
Who would rock the mic at karaoke night? Abraham “The Great Emancipator” Lincoln or Jane “Lady Persuasion” Austen? How about a hot dog eating contest between Harry “Mr. Magic” Houdini and Mary “Mother of Frankenstein” Shelley? What about a pie contest? A staring contest? And who has a better chance of sneaking into Area 51, Isaac “Gravity Guy” Newton or Sacagawea aka “The Pathfinder”?

In Who Wins?: History, you decide the winner in over 50 head-to-head challenges between 100 of history’s most illustrious characters. But choosing the victor isn’t arbitrary. Readers must justify their answers using each of the historical figures’ six 0-10 category rankings in bravery, leadership, artistry, wealth, wisdom, and fitness; as well as facts from short biographies.

As funny as it is informative, the book is uniquely formatted so readers can match up each and every character in any of the head-to-head battles. History has never been so much fun!

This interactive, educational book is seriously so much fun! And it’s so unique! I’ve never seen anything quite like this before. I thought that posting a picture of one of the inside spreads would be the easiest way to review this book, so look:



Ok, so here we have Napoleon and Thomas Jefferson. Above their pictures is all the information you need to know about each of them, including the years they were alive, their lives growing up, the parts they played in history, and some little known facts. Basically, everything you need to know to make an informed decision as to which of them would be more successful at stopping a runaway train. The middle flap at the top prompts you with some things to consider during your decision-making process. Their skills are rated on a scale of 1-10. After getting to know them well, you make your decision. There’s no right or wrong answer. If you’re alone, you win! If you have friends, family, or classmates with you then the debate begins. Perhaps one of the other players will convince you to change your mind or you might just stand your ground. Then you move on to the next round. You can continue the face-off between these two guys and flip up the middle flap to give them a new battle (like sneaking into Area 51 or winning the talent show) or you can flip up the people flaps and pick new opponents.

There are so many possible combinations of opponents and battles that it will take forever to get through them all. You know what would make it even more fun? Get a dice and roll it three times. The first number will tell you how many pages to flip the first flap, the second number will tell you how many times to flip the second flap, and the third number will tell you how many times to flip the third flap. Then it’s all completely random and feels like a game.

How fun is this? I can see this being taken on road trips, played in social studies or history classes (divide the class in two, put the book up on the projector, and have the teams discuss before sending representatives to the front to argue their case), or added to the family game night rotation. The images are bright, colorful, and fun to look at. The book is well-constructed and easy to flip through. The information provided is written in an easy to read and understand way, so it’s great for kids and adults of all ages. I seriously do not have one complaint in the world about this book, and just love it to pieces. Run out and grab yourself a copy right now!

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

Posted September 25, 2016 by Jana in Author Interview, Debut Author Challenge, Debut Dish, Giveaway / 8 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 Paula Garner (Phantom Limbs), Jennifer Bardsley (Genesis Girl), Sharon Mentyka (Chasing at the Surface), Hannah West (Kingdom of Ash and Briars), Kathleen Glasgow (Girl In Pieces), and Ashlee Cowles (Beneath Wandering Stars).

Phantom Limbs by Paula Garner
September 13, 2016 from Candlewick
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

How do you move on from an irreplaceable loss? In a poignant debut, a sixteen-year-old boy must learn to swim against an undercurrent of grief—or be swept away by it.

Otis and Meg were inseparable until her family abruptly moved away after the terrible accident that left Otis’s little brother dead and both of their families changed forever. Since then, it’s been three years of radio silence, during which time Otis has become the unlikely protégé of eighteen-year-old Dara—part drill sergeant, part friend—who’s hell-bent on transforming Otis into the Olympic swimmer she can no longer be. But when Otis learns that Meg is coming back to town, he must face some difficult truths about the girl he’s never forgotten and the brother he’s never stopped grieving. As it becomes achingly clear that he and Meg are not the same people they were, Otis must decide what to hold on to and what to leave behind. Quietly affecting, this compulsively readable debut novel captures all the confusion, heartbreak, and fragile hope of three teens struggling to accept profound absences in their lives.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Phantom limbs, literal and metaphorical.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
In the scene where Otis and Meg see each other for the first time in three years, she recalls the first time they met as kids when she moved in next door. She teases him that he was practically mute, and when his mom sent him over with a rhubarb pie and Meg asked him what rhubarb was, he told her it was a plant in his back yard that was “really sour, with poisonous leaves.”

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
It was Halloween, and I was getting ready to run out the door to meet my CP/friend Audrey, who had just flown in to Chicago to see me, when my agent called with the news. So I decided I should tell Audrey in person, and when I did she was like, wait, what? How? When? WHAT? We were both so confused, I think, because we talk/email/message all the time, so it felt weird that she didn’t already know. And I was like, I HAVE WAITED LIKE TWO HOURS TO TELL YOU THIS OMG.

What’s your favorite junk food?
I refuse to think of any of my beloveds as junk. I love spicy and salty things, like leftover fiery Thai salads or curries, or stupid-spicy salsas and hot sauces. Stinky cheeses are also a favorite.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
A Violet Hour postcard on which a bartender kindly scrawled the recipe for a spicy tequila and mezcal drink with muddled cucumbers and strawberries.

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Genesis Girl by Jennifer Bardsley
September 27, 2016 from Month9Books
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

Eighteen-year-old Blanca has lived a sheltered life. Her entire childhood has been spent at Tabula Rasa School where she’s been protected from the Internet.

Blanca has never been online and doesn’t even know how to text. Her lack of a virtual footprint makes her extremely valuable, and upon graduation, Blanca and those like her are sold to the highest bidders.

Blanca is purchased by Cal McNeal, who uses her to achieve personal gain. But the McNeals are soon horrified by just how obedient and non-defiant Blanca is. All those mind-numbing years locked away from society have made her mind almost impenetrable.

By the time Blanca is ready to think for herself, she is trapped. Her only chance of escape is to go online.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Never Online Makes Girl Valuable

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
My favorite scene in Genesis Girl happens in the first ten pages when Blanca gets auctioned off to the highest bidder because her lack of a digital footprint is priceless.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
My agent called me in summer of 2014 with the news that the publisher was offering me a two-book deal. I screamed so hard the whole neighborhood heard me.

What’s your favorite junk food?
Chocolate, duh!

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

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Chasing at the Surface by Sharon Mentyka
October 4, 2014 from Westwinds Press
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

Sometimes finding your way home takes more than courage. It takes a leap of faith.

After her mother unexpectedly leaves home, twelve-year old Marisa struggles with her feelings of loss and abandonment just as a pod of nineteen orca whales – mothers with their new calves following a run of chum salmon – become trapped in the enclosed inlet near her Northwest home. Marisa’s journey to help the whales find their way home brings her to a new understanding of the assaults humans have had on nature, and the complicated meaning of family and home.

Describe your book in five words or less.
the healing power of nature

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
[the following isn’t an excerpt, just a re-telling]

Things are starting to spiral out of control and Marisa needs time to think. So she takes Dad’s old kayak out on the inlet, where all she wants to do is drift and think. But in the time it takes her to reach the widest part of the inlet, a thick fog rolls in. If any of the whales are out there, she’d never know since now she can barely see the front of her kayak. So she waits, using all the techniques Dad taught her about kayaking in bad weather. Time slows to a crawl, until suddenly something bumps her kayak underwater and—pfoosh—she hears the unmistakeable exhalation of a whale blow.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
Walking home, on a rare sunny day in Seattle’s cloudy winter months, when I checked my phone and saw the message from my publisher that started, “I’m so pleased to tell you…”

What’s your favorite junk food?
Potato chips.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
One pink tennis ball.

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Kingdom of Ash and Briars by Hannah West
September 15, 2016 from Holiday House, Inc.
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

Bristal, an orphaned kitchen maid, lands in a gritty fairy tale gone wrong when she discovers she is an elicromancer with a knack for shape-shifting. An ancient breed of immortal magic beings, elicromancers have been winnowed down to merely two – now three – after centuries of bloody conflict in the realm. Their gifts are fraught with responsibility, and sixteen-year-old Bristal is torn between two paths. Should she vow to seek the good of the world, to protect and serve mortals? Or should she follow the strength of her power, even if it leads to unknown terrors? She draws on her ability to disguise herself as a man to infiltrate a prince’s band of soldiers, and masquerades as a fairy godmother to shield a cursed princess, but time is running out. As an army of dark creatures grows closer, Bristal faces a supernatural war. To save the kingdoms, Bristal must find the courage to show her true form.

Building on homages to Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Jane Austen’s Emma and the Chinese legend of Hua Mulan, Hannah West makes a spectacular debut.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Shapeshifter fairy godmother tries avoiding war.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
There’s a point well into the book where Bristal gets the opportunity to use her gift not just to fight darkness but to make someone else’s life magical (hint: it involves glass slippers). But a vicious attack that comes right after reminds her of the impending supernatural war and that her own glittering happy ending is out of reach. That whole sequence was probably my favorite to write.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
My boyfriend (now husband) and I were on our way to go camping in east Texas so that I could do book research for my WIP. I got the email while we were in the car and had to pull over to fully soak in the words and freak out!

What’s your favorite junk food?
Unfortunately, fries.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
A mammoth-sized Greek and Hebrew NIV concordance that I use to spark ideas for fantasy places and names.

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Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow
August 30, 2016 from Delacorte Press
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

For fans of Girl, Interrupted, Thirteen Reasons Why, and All the Bright Places comes Kathleen Glasgow’s debut novel about a girl who has lost everything—almost even herself.

Charlotte Davis is in pieces. At seventeen she’s already lost more than most people lose in a lifetime. But she’s learned how to forget. The broken glass washes away the sorrow until there is nothing but calm. You don’t have to think about your father and the river. Your best friend, who is gone forever. Or your mother, who has nothing left to give you.

Every new scar hardens Charlie’s heart just a little more, yet it still hurts so much. It hurts enough to not care anymore, which is sometimes what has to happen before you can find your way back from the edge.

A deeply moving portrait of a teenage girl on the verge of losing herself and the journey she must take to survive in her own skin, Kathleen Glasgow’s debut is heartbreakingly real and unflinchingly honest. It’s a story you won’t be able to look away from.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Putting your pieces back together.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
I have two favorite scenes. One is very early in the book, as Charlie is bleeding out on the lawn of the hospital. Charlie is a cutter and she’s gone very deep this time. She’s on her back, looking up at the sky, wondering if the scattering of stars is the very last thing she’ll see before she dies. My second favorite scene occurs later in the book, when Charlie is in Santa Fe, Mexico, at Felix’s house. It’s really a scene of Charlie understanding her true calling–which is drawing comics. She has Louisa’s notebooks and is turning them into a story for all girls who feel like outcasts, like weirdos. Her art overtakes her; she makes a decision to live.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
I was in my office at work. I had to be very quiet while talking to my agent on the phone, so that my boss wouldn’t overhear. Things had gotten very heated in the space of a few days, with a lot of editors calling to talk to me about the book–and then my agent called: Girl in Pieces (then called The Tender Kit) was being taken off the table in a pre-empt by Random House/Delacorte. Really, I wanted to cry, but I couldn’t, because again: boss nearby. But someone wanted me, someone wanted Charlie Davis’ story, someone understood this story. It was overwhelming, and lovely, and unexpected, and I bought myself a double vanilla latte that afternoon and enjoyed every minute of its $4.65 delicious-ness.

What’s your favorite junk food?
Oh, please. What ISN’T? Potato chips, microwave popcorn with that awesomely delicious butter, butterscotch sundaes, french fries with melted cheese and green chile.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
Well, it’s my son’s notebook. It’s open to a drawing he made of a heart split in two, with jagged edges. He’s written “Sorry all women.” If you are familiar with Diary of a Wimpy Kid, and the character of Rodrick, you will know exactly what this means. All hail Jeff Kinney.

Beneath Wandering Stars by Ashlee Cowles
August 18, 2016 from Merit Press
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

After her soldier brother is horribly wounded in Afghanistan, Gabriela must honor the vow she made: If anything ever happened to him, she would walk the Camino de Santiago through Spain, making a pilgrimage in his name. The worst part is that the promise stipulates that she must travel with her brother’s best friend–a boy she has despised all her life. Her brother is in a coma, and Gabi feels that she has no time to waste, but she is unsure. Will she hesitate too long, or risk her own happiness to keep a promise? An up-close look at the lives of the children of military families, Beneath Wandering Stars takes readers on a journey of love, danger, laughter, and friendship, against all odds.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Military “brat” European backpacking adventure

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
My favorite scene is a special moment shared by the story’s two main characters, Gabi and Seth, when they are camping out in a medieval churchyard…beneath wandering stars.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
I was sitting at my desk in my home office, on a break between teaching two online classes…the news made it hard to stay focused during the next class!

What’s your favorite junk food?
Tortilla chips and homemade salsa…or better yet, guacamole (which is kind of healthy, right?).

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
A sparkly, purple unicorn made out of clay, which was an “end of the year gift” that one of my high school students made in art class.

Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco | Book Review (+ Giveaway)

Posted September 23, 2016 by Jana in Blog Tour, Book Review, Giveaway, Young Adult / 4 Comments

Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco | Book Review (+ Giveaway)

Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco | Book Review (+ Giveaway)Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco
Series: Stalking Jack the Ripper #1
Also in this series: Hunting Prince Dracula
Published by Jimmy Patterson on September 20, 2016
Genres: Historical Fiction, Mystery, Thriller
Pages: 336
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher (Mail)
Amazon Barnes & Noble Add to Goodreads
4 Stars
Presented by James Patterson's new children's imprint, this deliciously creepy horror novel has a storyline inspired by the Ripper murders and an unexpected, blood-chilling conclusion...

Seventeen-year-old Audrey Rose Wadsworth was born a lord's daughter, with a life of wealth and privilege stretched out before her. But between the social teas and silk dress fittings, she leads a forbidden secret life.

Against her stern father's wishes and society's expectations, Audrey often slips away to her uncle's laboratory to study the gruesome practice of forensic medicine. When her work on a string of savagely killed corpses drags Audrey into the investigation of a serial murderer, her search for answers brings her close to her own sheltered world.

The story's shocking twists and turns, augmented with real, sinister period photos, will make this dazzling debut from author Kerri Maniscalco impossible to forget.

I’ve always been fascinated by Jack the Ripper. I don’t know why because I’m not a fan of violence or gore or creepy people or really anything that this serial killer was. I suppose the mystery just pulled me in more than anything else. These events happened so long ago that Jack the Ripper almost feels like a legend to me. How could someone that evil really exist? But he did, and Kerri brings him to life in her shining debut in a way that is chilling and disturbing, yet captivating.

As soon as I heard about Stalking Jack the Ripper, I was all over it. I HAD to get my hands on it and was delighted when the publisher sent me a copy for review. My excitement grew when I found out I was put on the blog tour with The Irish Banana Review, and I dove into this novel as soon as I could. Honestly, it was like hitting ice cold water. This book made my skin crawl, made me cringe and squirm, and totally grossed me out! Because Audrey Rose is a medical examiner’s apprentice, descriptions of the people she performed autopsies on were very detailed in a graphic, yet scientific way (seriously, the science helped me a little). I felt like I was reading a piece of an episode of NCIS or CSI. Intestines and reproductive organs are mentioned! Eeeeew! I hated picturing what was done to these innocent women! It definitely took some getting used to. Kerri did her research, let me tell you.

All the yucky was nicely balanced by Kerri’s lovely writing style. She did a beautiful job, and I loved the flow of her words. At times things dragged a little bit for me, but it was ok because I enjoyed the writing so much. The story was very intriguing, yet I wanted more suspense throughout (and maybe a little less gore because ouch). There are some major twists and turns at the end, however, that were well worth the gradual build-up for me.

I loved Audrey Rose. She’s got so much spunk and tenacity. She’s a modern thinker, and won’t let anyone keep her from her dreams. She’s also brave and a little crazy for wanting to perform autopsies, but you know. That’s ok! I also loved Thomas and his dry sarcasm. There’s a few twinkles of romance here and there between these two, but very little. The groundwork has been laid, and Kerri posted a little snippet from book #2 on Twitter recently that had me swooning a little, so I’m excited about where these two head in the future!

All in all, this was a great read that threw me out of my comfort zone. I can’t wait to see where book #2 brings us. The creepy atmosphere makes this the perfect fall weather read, and I would wholeheartedly recommend it to someone looking for a unique spin on such a famous event in history. Read it with the lights on and on an empty stomach! Kerri Maniscalco is an author to keep an eye on, for sure.

About Kerri Maniscalco

Kerri Maniscalco grew up in a semi-haunted house outside NYC where her fascination with gothic settings began. In her spare time she reads everything she can get her hands on, cooks all kinds of food with her family and friends, and drinks entirely too much tea while discussing life’s finer points with her cats. Stalking Jack the Ripper is her debut novel. It incorporates her love of forensic science and unsolved history, and is the first in a new series of gothic thrillers.

Website | Twitter | Instagram

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Tour Schedule:
9/12: No BS Book Reviews – Review
9/13: A Perfection Called Books – Guest Post
9/14: The Heart of a Book Blogger – Review
9/15: My Friends Are Fiction – Q&A
916: Pandora’s Books – Review

9/19: Polished Page-Turners – Review
9/20: The Irish Banana Review – Top 10
9/21: Chapter By Chapter – Guest Post
9/22: What Sarah Read – Mood Board
9/23: That Artsy Reader Girl – Review

Danielle Paige’s Mood Board | Stealing Snow Blog Tour (+ Giveaway)

Posted September 20, 2016 by Jana in Blog Tour, Giveaway, Guest Post / 7 Comments

Danielle Paige’s Mood Board | Stealing Snow Blog Tour (+ Giveaway)

Welcome to the official Stealing Snow blog tour, hosted by Bloomsbury Children’s! I get to kick this tour off with Danielle’s mood board (done on Pinterest) for the book, and I just love it. It gives off all the feelings the book does, and really gives readers an idea of what they are getting into with the story. I’ve showcased some of my favorite images from her board, but make sure you click the link to go see the rest of them! After looking over her mood board, read more about Stealing Snow and enter to win a copy of your own!

Danielle’s Mood Board for Stealing Snow


See more images and read Danielle’s comments on her Pinterest board!

Stealing Snow by Danielle Paige
Series: Stealing Snow #1
Also in this series: Before the Snow (#.01), Queen Rising (#.02)
Published by Bloomsbury Children’s on September 20, 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Fairy Tale, Retelling
Amazon • B&N • Book Depository • Add to Goodreads

Seventeen-year-old Snow has spent the majority of her life within the walls of the Whittaker Institute, a high security mental hospital in upstate New York. Deep down, she knows she’s not crazy and doesn’t belong there. When she meets a mysterious, handsome new orderly and dreams about a strange twisted tree she realizes she must escape and figure out who she really is.

Using her trusting friend Bale as a distraction, Snow breaks free and races into the nearby woods. Suddenly, everything isn’t what it seems, the line between reality and fantasy begins to blur, and she finds herself in icy Algid–her true home–with witches, thieves, and a strangely alluring boy named Kai, none of whom she’s sure she can trust. As secret after secret is revealed, Snow discovers that she is on the run from a royal lineage she’s destined to inherit, a father more powerful and ruthless than she could have imagined, and choices of the heart that could change the fate of everything…including Snow’s return to the world she once knew.

This breathtaking first volume begins the story of how Snow becomes a villain, a queen, and ultimately a hero.

About Danielle Paige

Danielle Paige is the New York Times bestselling author of the Dorothy Must Die series, and the upcoming  Stealing Snow series (Bloomsbury, 2016). In addition to writing young adult books, she works in the television industry, where she’s received a Writers Guild of America Award and was nominated for several Daytime Emmys. She is a graduate of Columbia University and currently lives in New York City. You can find her on twitter and instagram.

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Paint By Sticker Masterpieces Blog Tour | My Experience Creating The Great Wave off Kanagawa

Posted September 19, 2016 by Jana in Adult Non-Fiction, Blog Tour / 0 Comments

Welcome to my stop along the blog tour for Paint By Sticker Masterpieces, hosted by Workman Publishing! This activity book is pretty fun because you get the painting by number experience without the mess! Today I get to show you the masterpiece I created and tell you about my experience during the creative process!

Paint By Sticker: Masterpieces
Series: Paint By Sticker
Published by Workman on September 20, 2016
Add to Goodreads • Amazon

Paint by Sticker is a compelling new activity for crafters and artists, doodlers and coloring book enthusiasts of all ages. Masterpieces encourages everyone to channel their inner da Vinci and create twelve iconic works of art.

Paint by Sticker Masterpieces includes everything you need to create twelve vibrant, full-color “paintings”—the stickers, the templates, the intuitive directions. The works include The Birth of Venus, by Sandro Botticelli, The Creation of Adam, by Michelangelo, Mona Lisa, by Leonardo da Vinci, Girl with a Pearl Earring, by Johannes Vermeer, Napoleon at Saint-Bernard Pass, by Jacques-Louis David, The Great Wave off Kanagawa, by Katsushika Hokusai, Houses of Parliament, Sunlight Effect, by Claude Monet, Still Life with Apples and a Pot of Primroses, by Paul Cezanne, Dance at Bougival, by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Bedroom in Arles, by Vincent van Gogh, Breezing Up (A Fair Wind), by Winslow Homer, and the stunning study in color, Flaming June, by Frederic Leighton.

The cardstock pages are perforated for easy removal, making it easy to frame the completed images.

For this blog tour, I was assigned The Great Wave off Kanagawa! I’ve always loved this painting. I love how the version in this book remains true to the original, but has been simplified down to geometric blocks of color to create a prism-like look. Here’s a picture of the original, just so you can compare it to mine below:



The creative process was very relaxing, and so much fun! Each sticker is thinly outlined and labeled with a letter and number. These identifiers tell you which sections of the multiple sticker sheets the correct sticker is on so you can find it easily. Then you stick the sticker on its corresponding spot. Very simple, mess free, and easy to work on in small bursts of time. I loved paint by number projects as a kid, but it was always a hassle to set up and clean up after. You can easily throw the book in a bag and take it to work on during your lunch break at the office or to the park on a nice day. The stickers are shiny and the colors are so vibrant and pretty, and I really enjoyed working on it!

I will admit, parts of this project were difficult. I’m not sure if it was just my copy of the book or not, but many of the stickers were hard to get off the sticker page. Some of the stickers were not cut out completely, and they ripped when I tried to pull them off the page to stick on my project page. I felt like a needed an XACTO knife to finish cutting some of the stickers. I also noticed that some of the stickers were too small for their spot on the project page, so I have some white outlines around a few that are bothering me a little. lol. Some of the stickers are really tiny, so I recommend using tweezers to make sure they fit properly. There is a little room for re-adjusting once you lay the sticker down, but once you press it firmly it’s there for good. It’s also fairly easy to throw yourself off. If one sticker is out of place even a little it can throw off the rest of them. I found that once I got the hang of it (there’s a bit of a learning curve), I quit making as many mistakes.

Regardless of the few challenges I experienced, I really love this book and plan to buy more in the series as they become available (see all the books in the series here). My advice would be to just be patient and settle into a groove and you’ll end up with a beautiful picture! As I said before, I found this experience to be very relaxing and enjoyable and I can’t wait to create more of the works in this book (I love the selection of artworks chosen for this book)! I would recommend this book to art history-loving teenagers and adults. It’s a little tricky for young ones, but there are two Paint By Sticker books for kids that look like a lot of fun! Get one for everyone in the family, sit at the table, and have fun together!

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

Posted September 18, 2016 by Jana in Author Interview, Debut Author Challenge, Debut Dish, Giveaway / 6 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 Kerri Maniscalco (Stalking Jack the Ripper), Tom Crosshill (The Cat King of Havana), Kim Zarins (Sometimes We Tell the Truth), Camden Leigh (Love Me Crazy), and Lindsey Rosin (Cherry).

Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco
September 20, 2016 from Jimmy Patterson
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

Seventeen-year-old Audrey Rose Wadsworth was born a lord’s daughter, with a life of wealth and privilege stretched out before her. But between the social teas and silk dress fittings, she leads a forbidden secret life.

Against her stern father’s wishes and society’s expectations, Audrey often slips away to her uncle’s laboratory to study the gruesome practice of forensic medicine. When her work on a string of savagely killed corpses drags Audrey into the investigation of a serial murderer, her search for answers brings her close to her own sheltered world.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Victorian CSI set in London.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
I have two favorites, but one is where Audrey Rose and Thomas dress up and stalk the streets of Whitechapel together, hoping to cross paths with the Ripper. Their interactions were really fun to craft, even when there were serious and terrifying events unfolding around them.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
My agent had called me on a holiday weekend to let me know an offer miiiiight be heading our way the next day, so I was at home waiting with my phone glued to my hand the whole morning. I totally didn’t sleep at ALL and was trying to be cautiously optimistic, but I swore colorfully and cried when it was a yes. Fun fact: Even with all of that prepping for the possible call, I still missed it initially because I made myself a smoothie.

What’s your favorite junk food?
I have a lot of food allergies so I don’t eat junk food often, but every once in a while I really enjoy tater tots. I have to make them really crispy and then I add dill and onion powder to them. They taste like sour cream and onion potato chips that have come straight from the fryer and they are sinfully delicious.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
Haha oh man. It’s going to sound like I stash bodies in my yard, but I have this amazing skeletal hand holding an anatomical heart in a little glass coffin. My parents got it for me when my book sold as a celebratory token, and it’s very STALKING JACK THE RIPPER. I love being able to see it while I’m working on book two. And it’s just pretty darn cool :D

The Cat King of Havana by Tom Crosshill
September 6, 2016 from Katherine Tegen Books
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

Rick Gutierrez is . . . the Cat King of Havana! A cat-video tycoon turned salsa-dancer extraordinaire, he’ll take Cuba by storm, romance the girl of his dreams, and ignite a lolcat revolution!

At least that’s the plan.

It all starts when his girlfriend dumps Rick on his sixteenth birthday for uploading cat videos from his bedroom when he should be out experiencing the real world. Known as “That Cat Guy” at school, Rick isn’t cool and he knows it. He realizes it’s time for a change.

Rick decides joining a salsa class is the answer . . . because of a girl, of course. Ana Cabrera is smart, friendly, and smooth on the dance floor. Rick might be half-Cuban, but he dances like a drunk hippo. Desperate to impress Ana, he invites her to spend the summer in Havana. The official reason: learning to dance. The hidden agenda: romance under the palm trees.

Except Cuba isn’t all sun, salsa, and music. There’s a darker side to the island. As Rick and Ana meet his family and investigate the reason why his mother left Cuba decades ago, they learn that politics isn’t just something that happens to other people. And when they find romance, it’s got sharp edges.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Cat video tycoon dances salsa!

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
Rick tries to convince his (disinterested) romantic interest Ana to go spend the summer in Havana with him — leading to the discovery that it’s illegal to hold hands in school in Tennessee.

Oh, and there’s the duct-taped airplane scene. And the jetpack kitten cat video scene.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
Out at a restaurant. Timeliest excuse for extra cake ever!

What’s your favorite junk food?
I don’t consume much junk food, but cake cake CAAAKE.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
I have no desk. I write either standing up or slouching in my fancy motorized bed (the back swings up). The oddest thing in sight might be a bata drum, though — I have loved bata drumming ever since I started learning Afro-Cuban dance & music in Havana. Check out the rhythmic complexity!

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Sometimes We Tell the Truth by Kim Zarins
September 6, 2016 from Simon Pulse
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

In this contemporary retelling of The Canterbury Tales, a group of teens on a bus ride to Washington, DC, each tell a story—some fantastical, some realistic, some downright scandalous—in pursuit of the ultimate prize: a perfect score.

Jeff boards the bus for the Civics class trip to Washington, DC, with a few things on his mind:
-Six hours trapped with his classmates sounds like a disaster waiting to happen.
-He somehow ended up sitting next to his ex-best friend, who he hasn’t spoken to in years.
-He still feels guilty for the major part he played in pranking his teacher, and the trip’s chaperone, Mr. Bailey.
-And his best friend Cannon, never one to be trusted and banned from the trip, has something “big” planned for DC.

But Mr. Bailey has an idea to keep everyone in line: each person on the bus is going to have the chance to tell a story. It can be fact or fiction, realistic or fantastical, dark or funny or sad. It doesn’t matter. Each person gets a story, and whoever tells the best one will get an automatic A in the class.

But in the middle of all the storytelling, with secrets and confessions coming out, Jeff only has one thing on his mind—can he live up to the super successful story published in the school newspaper weeks ago that convinced everyone that he was someone smart, someone special, and someone with something to say.

In her debut novel, Kim Zarins breathes new life into Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales in a fresh and contemporary retelling that explores the dark realities of high school, and the subtle moments that bring us all together.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Chaucer retold with modern teens.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
There’s a kissing scene that took me (and my agent!) by surprise, which means it would totally spoil things for you if I summarized it. But that was probably my favorite. Scenes aside, I loved all the quirky or fun things that turned up in the book, like the vampire crow, the doughnut fight, the fantasy elements, and the feminism.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
I came home from work and found out my agent called. I called her back and paced and paced in my backyard as she shared the news that Simon Pulse made an offer. You’d think a person would scream for joy, but I was the opposite, just really hushed and kind of happy-freaked.

What’s your favorite junk food?
Cream cheese frosting, chocolate, eggnog, marzipan. In the Starbucks line I struck up a conversation with a total stranger and insisted that we need more old-fashioned ice cream parlors like Fenton’s, which she plugged into her phone. I feel like I really made a difference in someone’s life, which is awesome.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
My desk is covered with books and papers for my research as a medievalist. This minute, I’ve got work on rape and medieval women, androgyny, cannibalism, and giants. So my desk is awesomely cluttered. You can see why cleaning it off would be a tragedy.

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Love Me Crazy by Camden Leigh
September 27, 2016 from Bloomsbury Spark
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

“We’re broken in the most screwed-up perfect way. It was inevitable we’d end up together.”

Cassidy Beck is focused on one thing, and one thing only: planning the Southern wedding of the century in Lucas Hill, South Carolina. Fresh from a tragic breakup, Cassidy’s not in the mood for any distractions. But when antebellum hottie Quinn Covington arrives in all his sexy, tattooed glory, he might prove to be the biggest distraction of them all.

MIA ever since his father’s death, Quinn doesn’t plan to stay any longer than it takes to start his dad’s vintage truck. But the sight of Cassidy trying to fend off his family’s pet turkey sends him for a loop. Red-haired and fierce, she’s just as broken as he is. But even though Cassidy’s past makes her the only one able to understand Quinn’s own scars, they also make her wary. After all, how can she trust him with her heart when everyone else she’s ever given it to has thrown it away?

Sexy, heart-wrenching, and full of Southern charm, this new contemporary romance from Camden Leigh shows just what happens when two people who are perfectly broken end up piecing each other back together.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Sassy, Sexy Southern NA Romance.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
I have several, but my favorite has to be the meet-cute. It involves a territorial pet turkey named Davey Crockett, the events planner on the client’s kitchen island and the tattooed black sheep of the family who wants nothing more than to get the hell out of Dodge…until he sees the sexy firecracker waving a meat cleaver at his sister’s turkey.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
I work for an interior design firm and was in the middle of setting props for a photoshoot. My hands were full of very breakable, expensive items. (And my heart was racing to the point I thought they’d shatter!)

What’s your favorite junk food?
Pizza combos and licorice jelly beans, but not together.

(And now I’ve got the munchies and need to make a run to the gas station.)

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
Hmmmm, that’s a toss up between the very real looking tarantula my kid put on my keyboard to scare me (he succeeded) or the egg-shaped Weeble Wobble of a Native American from when I was a kid. (Does knowing that that age me?)

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Cherry by Lindsey Rosin
August 16, 2016 from Simon Pulse
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

In this honest, frank, and funny debut novel, four best friends make a pact during their senior year of high school to lose their virginities—and end up finding friendship, love, and self-discovery along the way.

To be honest, the sex pact wasn’t always part of the plan.

Layla started it. She announced it super casually to the rest of the girls between bites of frozen yogurt, as if it was just simply another addition to her massive, ever-evolving To Do List. She is determined to have sex for the first time before the end of high school. Initially, the rest of the crew is scandalized, but, once they all admit to wanting to lose their v-cards too, they embark on a quest to do the deed together… separately.

Layla’s got it in the bag. Her serious boyfriend, Logan, has been asking for months.

Alex has already done it. Or so she says.

Emma doesn’t know what the fuss is all about, but sure, she’ll give it a shot.

And Zoe, well, Zoe can’t even say the o word without bursting into giggles.

Will everything go according to plan? Probably not. But at least the girls have each other every hilarious, heart-warming, cringe-inducing step of the way.

From debut author Lindsey Rosin, Cherry is a coming-of-age, laugh-out-loud tale of first times, last chances, and the enduring friendships that make it all worthwhile.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Female friendships are so important.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
What a great question… I haven’t thought about this so specifically. Wow. Okay. It’s hard to choose one singular favorite, but one of my favorites is a rather poignant one that happens towards the end of the novel. Without giving anything away, the four girls – Alex, Zoe, Emma and Layla – all end up on the trampoline in Layla’s backyard. There’s some laughing and crying… it’s a real “all the feels” kind of moment. I grew up with a trampoline in my backyard, and have a lot of wonderful memories from high school that are associated with it. This scene in particular makes me think of some of my real life moments, which is why I think I love it so much.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
I was in my office, actually in my chair where I’m sitting right now. I sold Cherry as a book proposal, so as soon as I found out I was being published I was also struck by the realization that I had A LOT of work to do. It was – and still is – one of the coolest feelings in the world.

What’s your favorite junk food?
Does cheese count? Haha, that’s my all-time favorite food. I love Welch’s fruit snacks and Reese’s Peanut Butter cups and Sun Chips.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
A giant pink, yellow and orange lollipop.

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This Adventure Ends Blog Tour | This Adventure Travels

Posted September 15, 2016 by Jana in Blog Tour / 0 Comments

This Adventure Ends Blog Tour | This Adventure Travels

And so begins the official blog tour for Emma Mills’s This Adventure Ends, hosted by Fierce Reads! This tour is a LOT of fun, with so many different kinds of posts to celebrate the amazingness that is Emma’s sophomore novel! Some of us are posting our easel creations; some of us will be posting reviews of the book; and some of us are hosting interviews, guest posts, and other awesome content! I get to kick things off with my easel!

Inspired by Sloane’s adventure searching for the lost piece of art by Gabe and Vera’s mother, several of us bloggers on the tour received mini-easels and markers to create our own “This Adventure” pieces of art! We chose the themes, and they are all pretty awesome! My easel is entitled:

This Adventure Travels

I LOVE traveling! I love going on adventures around the world and in the worlds of books. I had to include some of my tickets and souvenirs from my vacations throughout the years in the picture with my easel. I was going to draw a picture of my favorite place in the world, but then I realized I have too many! And there’s too many places I still want to go! So I decided to make my picture more broad. If I could, I’d climb in a hot air balloon and travel the world to see all the amazing places and cultures. And, let’s be honest… I want to go back to all the places I’ve already been to as well. Anyone interested in financing this adventure?


What’s your favorite place in the entire world? Where would you love to go? And what’s your favorite book featuring travel?

This Adventure Ends by Emma Mills
Published by Henry Holt and Co. Books for Young Readers on October 4, 2016
Add to Goodreads
Amazon • B&N

Sloane isn’t expecting to fall in with a group of friends when she moves from New York to Florida—especially not a group of friends so intense, so in love, so all-consuming. Yet that’s exactly what happens.

Sloane becomes closest to Vera, a social-media star who lights up any room, and Gabe, Vera’s twin brother and the most serious person Sloane’s ever met. When a beloved painting by the twins’ late mother goes missing, Sloane takes on the responsibility of tracking it down, a journey that takes her across state lines—and ever deeper into the twins’ lives.

Filled with intense and important friendships, a wonderful warts-and-all family, shiveringly good romantic developments, and sharp, witty dialogue, this story is about finding the people you never knew you needed.

Blog Tour Schedule

9/15 – This Adventure Travels
9/15 – Book Review
9/16 – Interview with Emma
9/17 – This Adventure Paints
9/17 – Book Review
9/18 – Moodboard
9/19 – This Adventure Explores
9/19 – Book Review
9/20 – Would you Rather Questions
9/21 – This Adventure
9/21 – Book Review
9/22 – Emma Guest Post
9/23 – This Adventure Creates
9/23 – Book Review
9/24 – Friendship Post
9/25 – Book Review
9/26 – This Adventure Blooms
9/26 – Emma Guest Post
9/27 – This Adventure Inspires
9/27 – Book Review
9/28 – Emma Guest Post
9/29 – This Adventure Swims
9/29 – Book Review
9/30 – Emma Guest Post
10/1 – This Adventure Begins
10/1 – Book Review
10/2 – Emma Guest Post
10/3 – This Adventure Swoons
10/3 – Book Review
10/4 – Pinterest Board

Inner Child: The Very Fluffy Kitty, Papillon by A.N. Kang | Blog Tour (+ Giveaway)

Posted September 7, 2016 by Jana in Blog Tour, Children's Book Review, Giveaway, Inner Child / 3 Comments


Inner Child is an original Artsy Reader Girl feature, where I take a moment to highlight a cute book for kids! I love children’s books. Hey, I started out on them! They are the foundation of my love of reading. When I need a smile, or a quick dose of the “good old days”, I never hesitate to crack open a picture book and feed my inner child.


Welcome to my stop along the blog tour for The Very Fluffy Kitty, Papillon, hosted by The Irish Banana Review!

The Very Fluffy Kitty, Papillon by A.N. Kang
Illustrated by: A.N. Kang
Published by: Disney-Hyperion on September 6, 2016
Pages: 40
Format: Hardcover
Source: From the publisher
Add to Goodreads
Amazon | B&N


Papillon is a very fluffy kitty. So fluffy that he’s lighter than air! His owner tries to weigh him down, but Papillon just wants to fly.

One particularly sunny day, he floats right out the window! Exploring the wide world is exhilarating, but it’s also a little scary. Will his new friend, a bird, be able to help him find his way home?

Whimsical art and airy text come together seamlessly in this delightful debut by A. N. Kang.

You. Guys. This book is ADORABLE. I honestly just can’t even handle the cuteness that is fluffy (but not fat) little Papillon. After being weighed down (literally) by food and intricate costumes to keep him from floating away, Papillon decides he’s tired of it all (cats are like that). He doesn’t even like hats! So out the window he floats, and readers young and old will delight in seeing where he goes and how he makes his way home.

This is a very simple, adorable story with hints of humor that will have little ones giggling. It is a quick read, perfect for a bedtime story or for emerging readers looking to practice their reading skills. The words are easy to read, presented in easy-to-read fonts, and surrounded by an entire page of white space (for the most part). Opposing pages are filled with adorable images in soft, muted colors. Papillon is a very cute kitty. I love how big and fluffy and cuddly he looks (seriously, if they make a stuffed Papillon I will buy him. I’m not even kidding), and his facial expressions are perfection. Readers will also have fun spotting his bright red little bird friend, who makes an appearance on nearly every spread.

Bottom line, this book is a welcomed addition to my children’s book collection and is a new favorite go-to for a feel-good story that I will recommend over and over again. Any kitty-loving reader, no matter their age, will find a brand new friend in the fluffiest kitty ever: Papillon. Goodreads and Amazon both mention that this is book #1, so you better believe that I’ll be keeping tabs on Papillon and his next adventure. I’m hoping for many more books about him in the future!

About A.N. Kang

 A. N. Kang ( was born in a little town in South Korea, with endless rice fields around her house. She grew up entertaining herself with picturebooks, and drew constantly. After moving to the United States as a teenager, she graduated from art school and began to design jewelry, greeting cards, and holiday installations all over New York City. She now lives and works in New Jersey with her sassy cat, Papillon. This is Kang’s debut.

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Tour Schedule:
9/4: The Irish Banana Review
9/5: Addicted 2 Novels
9/6: Mundie Kids
9/7: That Artsy Reader Girl
9/8: Vi3tbabe
9/9: FangirlConfessions
9/10: Owl Always Be Reading

The Ones Blog Tour | Taryn Character Profile

Posted September 5, 2016 by Jana in Blog Tour / 0 Comments

The Ones Blog Tour | Taryn Character Profile

Welcome to my stop along the official blog tour for The Ones, written by Daniel Sweren-Becker! Today I get to present to you a classified document: the security report for Taryn Miller. She’s pretty rebellious and has a bit of a temper problem, so basically I’m excited to read this book and get to know her better! Following her security report, read more about the book!

Character Profile Taryn

The Ones by Daniel Sweren-Becker
Series: The Ones #1
Published by: Imprint/Macmillan on September 6, 2016
Add to Goodreads • Amazon • B&N

Cody has always been proud of being a One. She and her boyfriend James were two of the lucky babies from the 1% of the U.S. population that were randomly selected to benefit from genetic engineering. Now, she and the rest of The Ones are excelling. They are healthy, beautiful, and talented. They aren’t otherworldly, just perfect. And to some, that’s not fair. The Equality Movement, capitalizing on the growing fear and jealousy, gains political traction and actually outlaws their existence. Society shows its darker side as The Ones are marginalized. The line between right and wrong blurs in the face of injustice and Cody becomes closer to a group of radical Ones intent on fighting back. James begins to fear just how far she is willing to go for the cause.

Blog Tour Schedule

August 30th: (Author Interview)
August 31st: (Character Profile – Kai)
September 1st: (Mood Board)
September 2nd: (Fan Dream Cast)
September 3rd: (Character Profile – James)
September 4th: (Guest Post)
September 5th: (Character Profile – Taryn)
September 6th: (Character Profile- Cody)
September 7th: (Playlist)

Debut Author Challenge 2016: September Review Link-Up

Posted September 1, 2016 by Jana in Debut Author Challenge / 0 Comments


Happy September! This is the month of changing leaves and crisp breezes, hinting at the arrival of one of the best seasons EVER! I love fall, and get much more reading done during the fall and winter months than I do during summer/spring.

September is a great month for publishing, too, so make sure you keep up with all the amazing books being released this month! I’ve already read Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco, and I really liked it! I’m excited to get to The Cat King of Havana by Tom Crosshill and The Reader by Traci Chee. And about a million others. Which debuts are you hoping to read this month?

Some things to remember:

– It’s never too late to join the fun! If you’d like to join or make sure you’re signed up, there is a sign-up list and list of participants located in the Debut Author Challenge tab at the top of my blog.

– 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.

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