Posts Categorized: Debut Author Challenge

The Debut Dish: Sara Biren, Whitney Taylor, Jessica Strawser, Danielle Mages Amato, & Michael Miller (+ Giveaways)

March 26, 2017 Author Interview, Debut Author Challenge, Debut Dish, Giveaway 2

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 Sara Biren (The Last Thing You Said), Whitney Taylor (Definitions of Indefinable Things), Jessica Strawser (Almost Missed You), Danielle Mages Amato (The Hidden Memory of Objects), and Michael Miller (Shadow Run).


The Last Things You Said by Sara Biren
April 4, 2017 from Amulet Books
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

Last summer, Lucy’s and Ben’s lives changed in an instant. One moment, they were shyly flirting on a lake raft, finally about to admit their feelings to each other after years of yearning. In the next, Trixie—Lucy’s best friend and Ben’s sister—was gone, her heart giving out during a routine swim. And just like that, the idyllic world they knew turned upside down, and the would-be couple drifted apart, swallowed up by their grief. Now it’s a year later in their small lake town, and as the anniversary of Trixie’s death looms, Lucy and Ben’s undeniable connection pulls them back together. They can’t change what happened the day they lost Trixie, but the summer might finally bring them closer to healing—and to each other.

Describe your book in five words or less.
First love, loss, grief, forgiveness.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
My favorite scene takes place at Ben’s cousin’s wedding. The wedding itself was inspired by my niece Maria’s wedding in July of 2011, the month I started writing the book. There’s so much tension and longing between the two main characters, and an unexpected slow dance, followed by harsh words and more heartbreak.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
At my kitchen table, about to make dinner for my kids.

What’s your favorite junk food?
White Cheddar Cheez-It Grooves.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
The Minnesota Motor Vehicle Registration Card for my very first car, a 1987 red 4-door Pontiac Sunbird, which I sold in August of 1998.


Definitions of Indefinable Things by Whitney Taylor
April 4, 2017 from HMH Books for Young Readers
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

This heartbreaking, humorous novel is about three teens whose lives intersect in ways they never expected.

Reggie Mason is all too familiar with “the Three Stages of Depression.” She believes she’s unlocked the secret to keeping herself safe: Nobody can hurt you if you never let them in.

Reggie encounters an unexpected challenge to her misanthropy: a Twizzler-chomping, indie film-making narcissist named Snake. Snake’s presence, while reassuring, is not exactly stable—especially since his ex-girlfriend is seven months pregnant. As Reggie falls for Snake, she must decide whether it’s time to rewrite the rules that have defined her.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Depression. Fear. Friendship. Love. Hope.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
There’s an awkward scene in which the MC, Reggie, gets stuck taking her arch-frenemy and crush’s baby mama, Carla, to a birthing class. It was one of my favorite scenes to write because it’s a refreshing break from the heaviness of the book, and starts to sew the seeds that eventually blossom into an unlikely and satisfying female friendship.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
Honestly? This may be TMI….but I was on the toilet. (My agent called me a few minutes after she said she would, and I couldn’t hold my pee any longer! Sue me!)

What’s your favorite junk food?
Good ol’ fashioned potato chips. Salty. Greasy. Will probably clog my arteries and kill me one day. Just my speed.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
A package of tissues that I refuse to blow my nose in because they’re cute.


Almost Missed You by Jessica Strawser
March 28, 2017 from St. Martin’s Press
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

Violet and Finn were “meant to be,” said everyone, always. They ended up together by the hands of fate aligning things just so. Three years into their marriage, they have a wonderful little boy, and as the three of them embark on their first vacation as a family, Violet can’t help thinking that she can’t believe her luck. Life is good.

So no one is more surprised than she when Finn leaves her at the beach—just packs up the hotel room and disappears. And takes their son with him. Violet is suddenly in her own worst nightmare, and faced with the knowledge that the man she’s shared her life with, she never really knew at all.

Caitlin and Finn have been best friends since way back when, but when Finn shows up on Caitlin’s doorstep with the son he’s wanted for kidnapping, demands that she hide them from the authorities, and threatens to reveal a secret that could destroy her own family if she doesn’t, Caitlin faces an impossible choice.

Told through alternating viewpoints of Violet, Finn and Caitlin,Almost Missed You is a powerful story of a mother’s love, a husband’s betrayal, connections that maybe should have been missed, secrets that perhaps shouldn’t have been kept, and spaces between what’s meant to be and what might have been.

Describe your book in five words or less.
“Perfect” couple questions fate’s role.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
Because the story is not told chronologically, it’s virtually impossible to describe any of my favorites without inadvertently including a spoiler–which is lucky for me, because it lets me off the hook of having to decide which one is my top pick! (I’m awful at choosing favorites.)

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
I’d taken the day off work to chaperone my 4-year-old’s pre-K pumpkin patch field trip, and saw that I’d missed the call while corralling the kids under cover when it started to rain on the farm. I didn’t have good enough cell phone reception to call my agent back until I was well into my drive home–the suspense was killing me!

What’s your favorite junk food?
Ice cream (preferably with some sort of chocolate and peanut butter ripples involved) with pretzels sprinkled on top.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
I’m at my daytime desk at the Writer’s Digest office right now, so here, it’s a tie between an origami elephant (sent in a holiday card from one of our contributors) and a 16″ lifelike Mark Twain doll (which, believe it or not, came with my house, left for me by the previous owners after they learned I was an editor and writer).

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The Hidden Memory of Objects by Danielle Mages Amato
March 21, 2017 from Balzer + Bray
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

Megan Brown’s brother, Tyler, is dead, but the cops are killing him all over again. They say he died of a drug overdose, potentially suicide—something Megan cannot accept. Determined to figure out what happened in the months before Tyler’s death, Megan turns to the things he left behind. After all, she understands the stories objects can tell—at fifteen, she is a gifted collage artist with a flair for creating found-object pieces. However, she now realizes that her artistic talent has developed into something more: she can see memories attached to some of Tyler’s belongings—and those memories reveal a brother she never knew.

Enlisting the help of an artifact detective who shares her ability and specializes in murderabilia—objects tainted by violence or the deaths of their owners—Megan finds herself drawn into a world of painful personal and national memories. Along with a trusted classmate and her brother’s charming friend, she chases down the troubling truth about Tyler across Washington, DC, while reclaiming her own stifled identity with a vengeance.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Mystery, History, Murderabilia, Grief, Adventure

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
I might have a favorite character rather than a favorite scene, because I pretty much love every scene that Eric Bowling (my book BFF) is in. He was a joy to write, because he’s just so wholehearted and curious and quirky and unafraid. Which made it a pleasure to unleash him anytime he appears.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
I was at the DENTIST, of all places, waiting in the lobby to have my teeth cleaned. When my phone rang and I saw it was my agent, I stepped outside to take the call. Screaming and jumping up and down followed. Of course, I had overlooked the fact that I was standing in front of a big picture window, so everyone inside the dentist’s office could see me. When I came back in, they all demanded to know what had happened. That is how a room full of random strangers knew I was going to be a published author before my own family did. All the strangers clapped — they were probably the happiest group of people in a dentist’s office ever. Then I had my teeth cleaned.

What’s your favorite junk food?
Anything that combines mint and chocolate. In any form. Anywhere. Thin mints, peppermint patties, peppermint bark. MUST CONSUME.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
I have two young children, so there is never a shortage of odd things on my desk (and in my purse). Right now there’s a handful of feathers, some plastic doll hair, and assorted mini bouncy balls. But the oddest thing *I* keep on my desk is probably a set of Abe Lincoln salt and pepper shakers. Keeping it honest! :-)


Shadow Run by Michael Miller and AdriAnne Strickland
March 21, 2017 from Delacorte Press
Add to Goodreads | Michael Miller’s Website

Firefly meets Dune in this action-packed sci-fi adventure about a close-knit, found family of a crew navigating a galaxy of political intrigue and resource-driven power games.

Nev has just joined the crew of the starship Kaitan Heritage as the cargo loader. His captain, Qole, is the youngest-ever person to command her own ship, but she brooks no argument from her crew of orphans, fugitives, and con men. Nev can’t resist her, even if her ship is an antique.

As for Nev, he’s a prince, in hiding on the ship. He believes Qole holds the key to changing galactic civilization, and when her cooperation proves difficult to obtain, Nev resolves to get her to his home planet by any means necessary.

But before they know it, a rival royal family is after Qole too, and they’re more interested in stealing her abilities than in keeping her alive.

Nev’s mission to manipulate Qole becomes one to save her, and to survive, she’ll have to trust her would-be kidnapper. He may be royalty, but Qole is discovering a deep reservoir of power–and stars have mercy on whoever tries to hurt her ship or her crew.

Note from Jana: Debut author Michael Miller is the one answering these questions.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Firefly meets Dune!

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
My absolute favorite scene in the book is when Qole, our seventeen year old starship captain, finds herself very out of her element on a world very different from her own. My co-author actually wrote it, but it’s by turns funny, touching, insightful, and tense. An all around excellent bit of writing.

If you mean that I actually wrote, my absolute favorite scene would be riddle with spoilers. There is a scene earlier in the book where we visit the home planet of Basra, the genderfluid trader on board the Kaitan. It was a chance to introduce a number of characters that feature only briefly, but actually have tremendous back stories. I love that sort of stuff.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
Wow, good question! I vividly remember where I was when I first talked to our agent, because I was in the middle of an on-site with a client and had to duck into an empty conference room. But when the deal was actually closed with Delacorte? Again, at work, but it didn’t feel real until later… so the moment didn’t sink in until clashing beer glasses with my co-author to celebrate.

What’s your favorite junk food?
I love all chips, chips are truly one of the great leaps that humanity has made, but in the pantheon of chips, one chip rules supreme: The Dorito.

Nacho Cheese, specifically.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
My desk is typically my lap, as I’m footloose and fancy free with this laptop of mine. So I can’t answer! At least not in any way that wouldn’t be somewhat surrealist.

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The Debut Dish: Katie Bayerl | Blog Tour (+ Giveaway)

March 21, 2017 Blog Tour, Debut Author Challenge, Debut Dish, Giveaway 5

The Debut Dish: Katie Bayerl | Blog Tour (+ Giveaway)

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?

Today’s special edition of The Debut Dish is brought to you by Penguin and their blog tour for Katie Bayerl’s A Psalm for Lost Girls.


A Psalm for Lost Girls by Katie Bayerl
March 14, 2017 from G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

Tess da Costa is a saint — a hand-to-god, miracle-producing saint. At least that’s what the people in her hometown of New Avon, Massachusetts, seem to believe. And when Tess suddenly and tragically passes away, her small city begins feverishly petitioning the Pope to make Tess’s sainthood official. Tess’s mother is ecstatic over the fervor, while her sister Callie, the one who knew Tess best, is disgusted – overcome with the feeling that her sister is being stolen from her all over again.

The fervor for Tess’s sainthood only grows when Ana Langone, a local girl who’s been missing for six months, is found alive at the foot of one of Tess’s shrines. It’s the final straw for Callie.

With the help of Tess’s secret boyfriend Danny, Callie’s determined to prove that Tess was something far more important than a saint; she was her sister, her best friend and a girl in love with a boy. But Callie’s investigation uncovers much more than she bargained for: a hidden diary, old family secrets, and even the disturbing truth behind Ana’s kidnapping.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Sainthood is hella complicated.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
Tough one! I have to go with a flashback, a memory that has stuck with Callie of the night when her sister’s reputation as a saint really began. I won’t give the whole scene away, but Tess hears a mysterious voice that calls her down to the city’s docks before dawn. Callie (ever the loyal sister) goes with Tess to meet the captain of a fishing boat Tess believes is in danger. What happens then is history…

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
I got the heads-up email when I was in my car at the intersection of Columbus Ave and Malcolm X Blvd in Boston (vivid memory! and it was a red light, I swear!)

I was on the Red Line (subway) when the official call came in.

Theme: transportation

What’s your favorite junk food?
Cheese-Its.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
A small stuffed flying pig. (I won a writing contest sponsored by the Flying Pig Bookstore a few years ago.)

When Katie Bayerl isn’t penning stories, she coaches teens and nonprofits to tell theirs. She holds an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts and has taught creative writing in schools and a variety of community settings. Katie has an incurable obsession with saints, bittersweet ballads, and murder. A Psalm for Lost Girls is her first novel.


Two Giveaway Opportunities!

Tour Wide:
Enter for a chance to win one (1) of five (5) copies of A Psalm for Lost Girls by Katie Bayerl (ARV: $17.99 each).

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Enter between 12:00 AM Eastern Time on March 13, 2017 and 12:00 AM on March 27, 2017. Open to residents of the fifty United States and the District of Columbia who are 13 and older. Winners will be selected at random on or about March 29, 2017. Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. Void where prohibited or restricted by law.

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Exclusive to That Artsy Reader Girl:
This giveaway is sponsored by Katie Bayerl, who will be mailing the prize to the winner. Entrants must be 13 years old or older, and must honestly follow the rules for entries. Entrants caught cheating will be eliminated in full from the giveaway. This giveaway is open to residents of the USA and Canada only.

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The Debut Dish: Cecilia Vinesse, Lilliam Rivera, Peternelle van Arsdale, and Rebecca Denton (+ Giveaways)

March 5, 2017 Author Interview, Debut Author Challenge, Debut Dish, Giveaway 9

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 Cecilia Vinesse (Seven Days of You), Lilliam Rivera (The Education of Margot Sanchez), Peternelle van Arsdale (The Beast Is An Animal), and Rebecca Denton (This Beats Perfect).


Seven Days of You by Cecilia Vinesse
March 7, 2017 from Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

Sophia has seven days left in Tokyo before she moves back to the States. Seven days to say good-bye to the electric city, her wild best friend, and the boy she’s harbored a semi-secret crush on for years. Seven perfect days…until Jamie Foster-Collins moves back to Japan and ruins everything.

Jamie and Sophia have a history of heartbreak, and the last thing Sophia wants is for him to steal her leaving thunder with his stupid arriving thunder. Yet as the week counts down, the relationships she thought were stable begin to explode around her. And Jamie is the one who helps her pick up the pieces. Sophia is forced to admit she may have misjudged Jamie, but can their seven short days of Tokyo adventures end in anything but good-bye?

Describe your book in five words or less.
Tokyo + crushes + karaoke + friends + good-byes.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
I loved writing the scene where two of the characters spend all night wandering around Shibuya–a fun, bright, noisy district in Tokyo. I grew up in Tokyo and miss it every day so getting to dive back in and wander the streets again was such a joy. I would usually work on this scene till the early hours of the morning and fall asleep with the sounds of Tokyo still playing in my dreams.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
I was *just* about to take my dog on a walk and ended up wandering the streets for hours and standing by the harbor (I lived in Scotland by the North Sea then) for a long time. I remember feeling buoyed and elated and it was all probably very confusing for my dog.

What’s your favorite junk food?
Enormous, warm, chocolatey cookies. I could write them a book of sonnets.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
A tiny light-up squid one of my best friend’s gave me the last time I moved away from Japan in 2012. I miss her and I miss Japan so I’m pretty attached to it.

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The Education of Margot Sanchez by Lilliam Rivera
February 21, 2017 from Simon & Schuster
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Pretty in Pink comes to the South Bronx in this bold and romantic coming-of-age novel about dysfunctional families, good and bad choices, and finding the courage to question everything you ever thought you wanted—from debut author Lilliam Rivera.

THINGS/PEOPLE MARGOT HATES:

Mami, for destroying my social life
Papi, for allowing Junior to become a Neanderthal
Junior, for becoming a Neanderthal
This supermarket
Everyone else

After “borrowing” her father’s credit card to finance a more stylish wardrobe, Margot
Sanchez suddenly finds herself grounded. And by grounded, she means working as an indentured servant in her family’s struggling grocery store to pay off her debts.

With each order of deli meat she slices, Margot can feel her carefully cultivated prep school reputation slipping through her fingers, and she’s willing to do anything to get out of this punishment. Lie, cheat, and maybe even steal…

Margot’s invitation to the ultimate beach party is within reach and she has no intention of letting her family’s drama or Moises—the admittedly good looking but outspoken boy from the neighborhood—keep her from her goal.

Describe your book in five words or less.
A Bronx Princesa gets schooled.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
My favorite scene in the book would be when Margot Sanchez is up on the roof with Moises. They are watching fireworks and trying to figure each other out. I love how magical that scene is and the struggle Margot has with her feelings. Rooftops in New York city hold so many amazing moments for me.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
I was away at a six-week writing workshop in San Diego called Clarion when I heard that editor Zareen Jaffrey at Simon & Schuster was interested in the novel. Because I was so involved in this writing workshop, attending classes and writing short stories, I had no time to completely freak out. I freaked out internally. I had to wait until I left to share the news with my friends. But when I did, they both screamed!

What’s your favorite junk food?
My favorite junk food is M&Ms. I can’t get enough of them. They fuel my writing as does most candy.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
I don’t actually have a desk. I work off of my kitchen table. I guess the oddest thing right now on my kitchen table would be the semi-naked Taylor Lautner in Twilight doll that belongs to my 5 year old but she insisted I needed it.


The Beast Is An Animal by Peternelle van Arsdale
February 28, 2017 from Margaret K. McElderry Books
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

A girl with a secret talent must save her village from the encroaching darkness in this haunting and deeply satisfying tale.

Alys was seven when the soul eaters came to her village.

These soul eaters, twin sisters who were abandoned by their father and slowly morphed into something not quite human, devour human souls. Alys, and all the other children, were spared—and they were sent to live in a neighboring village. There the devout people created a strict world where good and evil are as fundamental as the nursery rhymes children sing. Fear of the soul eaters—and of the Beast they believe guides them—rule village life. But the Beast is not what they think it is. And neither is Alys.

Inside, Alys feels connected to the soul eaters, and maybe even to the Beast itself. As she grows from a child to a teenager, she longs for the freedom of the forest. And she has a gift she can tell no one, for fear they will call her a witch. When disaster strikes, Alys finds herself on a journey to heal herself and her world. A journey that will take her through the darkest parts of the forest, where danger threatens her from the outside—and from within her own heart and soul.

Describe your book in five words or less.
An original, dark fairytale.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
My favorite scene is when my protagonist, an orphan named Alys, is caught looking at a book she shouldn’t. The books I read as a child that I suspected were too old for me or contained secret knowledge that adults might not want me to have are highly memorable to me.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
Oh! I was standing in a knitting store on West 79th Street when I found out my agent felt the novel was ready to be sent out. That was the most dramatic moment for me, because I had a feeling that once she was happy with it, she’d sell it. Then I was prosaically home at my desk when I found out that Margaret K. McElderry books would be my publisher–and that they were acquiring a second novel by me as well. That was a very exciting moment, and not necessarily what I expected back when I was standing in the knitting shop.

What’s your favorite junk food?
I confess I’m not a junk food eater. The closest thing I could call my junk food is roasted, salted peanuts. I could probably (definitely) happily live off of them.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
Not odd but kind of fabulous: I ordered Wonder Woman stamps from the U.S. Postal Service, and they just arrived. I like to send thank you notes, so Wonder Woman is going to be thanking some people for me. We all need some Wonder Woman right now.


This Beats Perfect by Rebecca Denton
February 2, 2017 from Atom Books
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

Amelie Ayres has impeccable taste in music. Bowie. Bush. Bob. So when she finds herself backstage at The Keep’s only UK gig she expects to hate it; after all they are world’s most tragic band. In fact she feels a grudging respect – not (obviously) for their music, but for the work that goes in to making them megastars. And when lead singer, ‘Maxx’, is not dressed up as a cross between Elvis and a My Little Pony, he is actually rather normal, talented and has creative struggles not too dissimilar to her own.

But the next morning she wakes up rolls over and discovers a million new @’s on social media. Overnight a photo of her backstage has made her a subject of global speculation. Suddenly the world needs to know #Who’sThatGirl? – but for all the wrong reasons.

All Amelie wants is to play her music. She’s got the guitar, the songs, the soul and, in the safety of her bedroom, she’s got the voice. But when it comes to getting up on stage, she struggles with self-doubt.

Immaculate’s a concept. Flawless is fake. But just sometimes music – and hearts – can rock a perfect beat.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Boys, Bands and Breaking Through

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
I love the scene at The Moth Club where Maxx and Amelie are competing over their knowledge of music. I did this so many times with boys I had just started dating.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
I was at work – in a news room – surrounded by very serious people doing newsy things and I squealed a lot and rang my old boss, hot Seb. I don’t know why I rang him, I guess you call the people you want to be proud of you and my mum was asleep (time zones!). Critically I was pregnant so I couldn’t drink anything to celebrate. But I more than made up for it….

What’s your favorite junk food?
I don’t really like junk food. I know that sounds lame, but I feel *crap* after i eat it so I just tend to avoid it. That said, I cannot turn down fish and chips with curry sauce.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
I don’t have a writing desk, I have a shed with a day bed and write with my lap top on my knees. I’m surrounded by torches, head lamps and candles though, since there’s no electricity here.

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Debut Dish with Sheryl Scarborough | Blog Tour

February 20, 2017 Author Interview, Debut Author Challenge, Debut Dish 1

Welcome to my stop along the official blog tour for Sheryl Scarborough, and her debut YA book, To Catch a Killer! Today we bring you a special bonus issue of the Debut Dish, which is a bi-monthly 2017 Debut Author Challenge feature that gives you the scoop on some pretty awesome debut authors and their new books!!


To Catch a Killer by Sheryl Scarborough
February 7, 2017 from Tor Teen
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

Erin Blake has one of those names. A name that, like Natalee Holloway or Elizabeth Smart, is inextricably linked to a grisly crime. As a toddler, Erin survived for three days alongside the corpse of her murdered mother, and the case—which remains unsolved—fascinated a nation. Her father’s identity unknown, Erin was taken in by her mother’s best friend and has become a relatively normal teen in spite of the looming questions about her past.

Fourteen years later, Erin is once again at the center of a brutal homicide when she finds the body of her biology teacher. When questioned by the police, Erin tells almost the whole truth, but never voices her suspicions that her mother’s killer has struck again in order to protect the casework she’s secretly doing on her own.

Inspired by her uncle, an FBI agent, Erin has ramped up her forensic hobby into a full-blown cold-case investigation. This new murder makes her certain she’s close to the truth, but when all the evidence starts to point the authorities straight to Erin, she turns to her longtime crush (and fellow suspect) Journey Michaels to help her crack the case before it’s too late.

1. Describe your book in five words or less.
Girl almost killed, catches killer.

2. Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
I have two favorite scenes in this book. I described one on the Dark Fairie Tales blog [date: ] but the other one is a scene between Erin, my main character, and her crush, Journey Michaels. Someone is trying to frame one or both of them as killers so they decide they must work together to try to catch the killer.

Journey, who might actually be the killer, takes Erin to a secluded—and scary place—so she can inspect his van for evidence. At this scary place three things happen: Erin and Journey almost kiss, Erin finds evidence and Erin is almost killed.

This scene is the turning point in Erin and Journey’s relationship. And it’s when I think the hooks are really set in this story.

3. Where were you when you found out you were being published?
I love telling this story. It was a Friday. I was on my way from Los Angeles to Omaha to speak at an SCBWI Conference. I missed my plane and was going to be delayed in Phoenix for FIVE hours. Oh, and it was my birthday! No lie. This could have been worst day ever.

I checked my phone upon landing in at 2:30 p.m. Phoenix time to find a message from my agent. As far as I knew my book hadn’t been on submission for months. The message said she was leaving at 5:30 p.m. NYC time. I fired off a quick reply telling her I was waiting to deplane. She wrote back that she would wait for me to call.

I stepped into the airport looking for a quiet place to talk. The airline lounge was directly across from the gate. I figured what the heck…paid the fee and went inside. That’s when I learned that an offer was coming in on Monday. Needless to say, I was thrilled. To celebrate, I upgraded to First Class for the rest of my flight.

4. What’s your favorite junk food?
Is chocolate a junk food? I think I read somewhere that it’s a vegetable.

5. What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
The oddest thing on my desk is a ceramic jar labeled “Brilliant Ideas.” The sad thing is…it’s empty!

SHERYL SCARBOROUGH is an award-winning writer for children’s television, having written for shows such as Kim Possible, Doug, Tiny Toon Adventures and Punky Brewster, among many other credits. She holds an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts, lives in Washington state, and has always had an obsession with forensics. When she was twelve, her home was the target of a Peeping Tom. Sheryl diligently photographed his footprints and collected the candy wrappers he left behind. Unfortunately, he was never caught. But the desire to use evidence to solve a great mystery was sparked inside Scarborough all the same. To Catch a Killer is her debut.

Website  | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Tumblr


The Debut Dish: Vic James, Tricia Levenseller, and Jilly Gagnon (+ Giveaways)

February 19, 2017 Author Interview, Debut Author Challenge, Debut Dish, Giveaway 10

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 Vic James (Gilded Cage), Tricia Levenseller (Daughter of the Pirate King), and Jilly Gagnon (#famous).


Gilded Cage by Vic James
February 14, 2017 from Del Ray Books
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Not all are free. Not all are equal. Not all will be saved.

Our world belongs to the Equals — aristocrats with magical gifts — and all commoners must serve them for ten years. But behind the gates of England’s grandest estate lies a power that could break the world.

A girl thirsts for love and knowledge.

Abi is a servant to England’s most powerful family, but her spirit is free. So when she falls for one of the noble-born sons, Abi faces a terrible choice. Uncovering the family’s secrets might win her liberty, but will her heart pay the price?

A boy dreams of revolution.

Abi’s brother, Luke, is enslaved in a brutal factory town. Far from his family and cruelly oppressed, he makes friends whose ideals could cost him everything. Now Luke has discovered there may be a power even greater than magic: revolution.

And an aristocrat will remake the world with his dark gifts.

He is a shadow in the glittering world of the Equals, with mysterious powers no one else understands. But will he liberate—or destroy?

Describe your book in five words or less.
Downton Abbey if Voldemort won.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
My favourite one that isn’t spoilery is at the heart of the book, where Silyen Jardine, a (possibly) wicked young aristocrat encounters a young woman in an abandoned moated manor house. The house contains a fabulous library, and in the library is a cedarwood box containing ivory-bound journals that could help Silyen unlock the secrets of his dark powers. But neither the woman, nor the house, are what they seem, and an unexpected bond is formed.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
I was in the edit suite of a TV documentary I was making on the Cayman Islands! I was a TV director before becoming a full-time author, and I’d been filming in the Caribbean when I received an email from my dream agent offering representation. I hadn’t finished the programme edit before we sold it at auction in the UK, and by the time it aired we had sold it in the USA, France and Germany!

What’s your favorite junk food?
Chocolate. (Come on, is there any other answer??)

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
A box of Japanese bird-shape paperclips. I ordered them thinking they’d be great for when I did mail-out of ARCs or swag (both my UK and US covers have birds on them). But when they arrived they were really a bit too cute (my book’s rather dark…). So now I use them for all my boring business paperwork, to brighten it up!

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Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller
February 28, 2016 from Feiwel & Friends
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A 17-year-old pirate captain intentionally allows herself to get captured by enemy pirates in this thrilling YA adventure.

Sent on a mission to retrieve an ancient hidden map—the key to a legendary treasure trove—seventeen-year-old pirate captain Alosa deliberately allows herself to be captured by her enemies, giving her the perfect opportunity to search their ship.

More than a match for the ruthless pirate crew, Alosa has only one thing standing between her and the map: her captor, the unexpectedly clever and unfairly attractive first mate, Riden. But not to worry, for Alosa has a few tricks up her sleeve, and no lone pirate can stop the Daughter of the Pirate King.

Debut author Tricia Levenseller blends action, adventure, romance, and a little bit of magic into a thrilling YA pirate tale.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Pirates. Sirens. Kissing. Sword fighting.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
There is a scene where my main character, Alosa, is locked into the love interest’s (Riden’s) quarters on the ship. She quickly discovers that he is a neat freak. There’s not a shoe out of place. So, naturally, she starts trashing the place and breaking all of his things.

That’ll teach him to lock her up!

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
I had just picked up the keys to the new apartment I’m renting. I was standing in the empty space surveying it all, when I received an email from my agent on my phone.

What’s your favorite junk food?
Extra-buttered popcorn.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
The enormous dragon cross stitch I’ve been working on for years.

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#famous by Jilly Gagnon
February 14, 2017 from Katherine Tegen Books
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In this modern-day love story, Girl likes Boy, Girl takes photo of Boy and posts it online, Boy becomes accidentally insta-famous. And what starts out as an innocent joke spirals into a whirlwind adventure that could change both their lives—and their hearts—forever. But are fame and love worth the price?

Told in alternating points of view, #famous captures the out-of-control thrill ride of falling for someone in front of everyone.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Viral Fame + Love = Chaos (hoping those symbols count as .5 words each ;))

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
Probably my favorite scene is the first time Rachel and Kyle go bowling. The picture has already gone viral, and both of them have been catapulted to notoriety, but in this moment, they’re just two teenagers trying to get to know one another better. It’s one of the first moments where sparks fly between them, and one of the scenes that shows how differently they see the world. It’s not their meet cute, exactly, but it’s their “actually seeing you for who you are”-cute, if that makes sense!

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
I was at my day job, in the middle of an open-office, and had to “go to the bathroom” and sneak out the back door to take the call.

So technically I was on a driveway, shivering because I hadn’t grabbed my coat, next to a series of trashcans. Who ever said this business wasn’t glamorous?

What’s your favorite junk food?
I’m gonna have to say pizza–it combines my two favorite “not QUITE junk” foods, bread and cheese, in a way that is undeniably bad-for-you awesome.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
A hand-crocheted stuffed owl. A friend got married a few years ago at the nature conservancy he ran at the time, and raided the gift shop for my “thanks for coming” present.

Either that or the rhinestone tiara. But who doesn’t love tiara decor? That’s just STYLE.

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The Debut Dish 2017: Stephanie Elliot, Laurie Devore, Diana Gallagher, and L.E. Delano (+ Giveaways)

February 5, 2017 Author Interview, Debut Author Challenge, Debut Dish, Giveaway 16

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 Stephanie Elliot (Sad Perfect), Laurie Devore (How to Break a Boy), Diana Gallagher (Lessons In Falling), and L.E. Delano (Traveler).


Sad Perfect by Stephanie Elliot
February 28, 2017 from Farrar, Straus and Giroux
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The story of a teen girl’s struggle with Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder and how love helps her on the road to recovery.

Sixteen-year-old Pea looks normal, but she has a secret: she has Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID). It is like having a monster inside of her, one that not only dictates what she can eat, but also causes anxiety, depression, and thoughts that she doesn’t want to have. When she falls crazy-mad in love with Ben, she hides her disorder from him, pretending that she’s fine. At first, everything really does feel like it’s getting better with him around, so she stops taking her anxiety and depression medication. And that’s when the monster really takes over her life. Just as everything seems lost and hopeless, Pea finds in her family, and in Ben, the support and strength she needs to learn that her eating disorder doesn’t have to control her.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Girl with eating disorder struggles.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
My favorite scene is the opening chapters. I didn’t set out to write a novel. My teen daughter had come home from a river rafting trip and she met a boy on the river that day. It sounded like the best day and just so adorable so I wanted to write a vignette about how I thought her experience went. I sat down to write about it — the rafting, the holding hands, the sun on her skin. The next thing you know I didn’t stop writing for three months!

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
Love this question! I was getting ready to walk into a yoga class and the teacher is very strict about being late. The call came in and I looked at the teacher and was like, “I have to take this call.” After I took the call from my agent, I wasn’t sure what to do. I didn’t want to call anyone to share the news so I just walked into yoga class and did yoga, trying to be all zen-like about it! But I was freaking out inside!!

What’s your favorite junk food?
If pizza is a junk food, then pizza. But i think that pizza is a basic food group. I guess I would say Salt and Vinegar kettle chips.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
A bar of Lotion … like handmade lotion in a bar form. And the scent is Arizona Rain. Since I live in Arizona and it never rains they bottle up the smell for you.

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How to Break a Boy by Laurie Devore
January 31, 2017 from Imprint
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Keep your enemies close, but your friends closer.

Olivia Clayton has mastered the art of tearing others down to stay on top. She and her best friend, Adrienne, rule their small southern town like all good mean girls do–through intimidation and manipulation.

After Olivia suffers a family tragedy and catches Adrienne sleeping with her boyfriend, Olivia is over it. She decides to make a change–but it’s impossible to resist taking Adrienne down one last time. Up to her old tricks, Olivia convinces golden boy Whit DuRant to be her SAT tutor and her fake boyfriend. But when it starts to feel real, Whit gets caught up in Olivia and Adrienne’s war.

Olivia may ruin everything she touches, but this time she won’t go down without a fight–not if it means losing Whit.

And definitely not if it means losing what’s left of herself.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Mean girls, secrets, fake relationships.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
Ah, how to not be spoilery here…there’s a scene about three fourths through the book where Olivia and her ex-best friend Adrienne have a major showdown. This causes Olivia to go on a really destructive tear with Whit trying to stop her – it’s the perfect amount of her finally acknowledging the pain she feels and coming face-to-face with all her screw-ups and how much she hates the person she’s become. It really feels like a turning point where Olivia realizes the whole deck of cards she’s built is about to come crashing down and I love all the angst that brings to the surface.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
I was in a Tiki bar called Three Dots and a Dash in downtown Chicago for a work event when my agent called me. The best part of finding out at Three Dots was that I later found out my editor LOVES Tiki bars and we were able to go visit it together when she came to Chicago.

What’s your favorite junk food?
Any baked goods – chocolate chip cookies, brownies, pie – gimme.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
I never actually use my desk so it’s covered in all sorts of things – books, nail polish, golf balls.

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Lessons In Falling by Diana Gallagher
February 7, 2017 from Spencer Hill Press
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When Savannah Gregory blows out her knee –and her shot at a gymnastics scholarship – she decides she’s done with the sport forever. Without gymnastics, she has more time for her best friend, Cassie. She’s content to let her fun, impulsive best friend plan a memorable senior year.

That is, until Cassie tries to kill herself.

Savannah wants to understand what happened, but Cassie refuses to talk about it and for the first time, Savannah has to find her own way. The only person she can turn to is Marcos, the boy who saved Cassie’s life. Being with him makes her see who she could be and what she really wants: gymnastics.

But Cassie doesn’t approve of Marcos or of Savannah going back to gymnastics, and the tighter she tries to hold onto Savannah, the farther it pulls them apart. Without Cassie to call the shots, Savannah discovers how capable she is on her own—and that maybe her best friend’s been holding her back all along.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Best friends torn apart.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
My favorite scene is the one where Savannah competes at a gymnastics meet for the first time since her injury. It was one of the first scenes I wrote, and I love how it shows Savannah’s emotional growth and newfound willingness to take chances, regardless of the outcome.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
I was living with two awesome writer roommates, so once I received the email, I went straight into the kitchen to tell them!

What’s your favorite junk food?
Dark chocolate, always!

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
A glitter-covered Dia de los Muertos skull.

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Traveler by L.E. Delano
February 7, 2017 from Swoon Reads
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Jessa has spent her life dreaming of other worlds and writing down stories more interesting than her own, until the day her favorite character, Finn, suddenly shows up and invites her out for coffee. After the requisite nervous breakdown, Jessa learns that she and Finn are Travelers, born with the ability to slide through reflections and dreams into alternate realities. But it’s not all steampunk pirates and fantasy lifestyles…Jessa is dying over and over again, in every reality, and Finn is determined that this time, he’s going to stop it… this Jessa is going to live.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Reality shifting YA fantasy romance.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
Jessa steps through a mirror into an alternate steampunk reality and attends her first ball with a dashing pirate.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
In my upstairs bedroom, trying hard not to hyperventilate and pass out before they could finish the offer.

What’s your favorite junk food?
Candy Halloween pumpkins.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
A rather ordinary looking rock. I took it from a shoreline in Ireland, plucked it from the cold Irish Sea. It doesn’t look like much but the history that rock has seen makes it eternal.

Note from the author:
My book also contains a major character on the autism spectrum (non-Aspergers). I am the parent of a child with autism, and I wanted to show someone on the spectrum who wasn’t a “Sheldon Cooper.” It was also important to me to highlight the role of being the sibling of a special needs child, and how that lends greater maturity and resilience to those siblings.

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The Debut Dish 2017: Katherine Arden, Robin Roe, and Kate Hart

January 22, 2017 Author Interview, Debut Author Challenge, Debut Dish 1

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 Katherine Arden (The Bear and the Nightingale), Robin Roe (A List of Cages), and Kate Hart (After the Fall).


The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden
January 10, 2017 from Del Rey
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At the edge of the Russian wilderness, winter lasts most of the year and the snowdrifts grow taller than houses. But Vasilisa doesn’t mind—she spends the winter nights huddled around the embers of a fire with her beloved siblings, listening to her nurse’s fairy tales. Above all, she loves the chilling story of Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon, who appears in the frigid night to claim unwary souls. Wise Russians fear him, her nurse says, and honor the spirits of house and yard and forest that protect their homes from evil.

After Vasilisa’s mother dies, her father goes to Moscow and brings home a new wife. Fiercely devout, city-bred, Vasilisa’s new stepmother forbids her family from honoring the household spirits. The family acquiesces, but Vasilisa is frightened, sensing that more hinges upon their rituals than anyone knows.

And indeed, crops begin to fail, evil creatures of the forest creep nearer, and misfortune stalks the village. All the while, Vasilisa’s stepmother grows ever harsher in her determination to groom her rebellious stepdaughter for either marriage or confinement in a convent.

As danger circles, Vasilisa must defy even the people she loves and call on dangerous gifts she has long concealed—this, in order to protect her family from a threat that seems to have stepped from her nurse’s most frightening tales.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Russian history meets Slavic folklore.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
Without wanting to spoil it, it’s set late at night, at the dead of a very cold winter, and there’s…something…creeping about outside the house.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
In my bedroom. I fell over, missed the bed, and hit the carpet.

What’s your favorite junk food?
Pumpkin Pie. My vice is baking.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
Emptiness? I write in coffee shops mostly, and don’t have a desk.


A List of Cages by Robin Roe
January 10, 2017 from Disney-Hyperion
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When Adam Blake lands the best elective ever in his senior year, serving as an aide to the school psychologist, he thinks he’s got it made. Sure, it means a lot of sitting around, which isn’t easy for a guy with ADHD, but he can’t complain, since he gets to spend the period texting all his friends. Then the doctor asks him to track down the troubled freshman who keeps dodging her, and Adam discovers that the boy is Julian–the foster brother he hasn’t seen in five years.

Adam is ecstatic to be reunited. At first, Julian seems like the boy he once knew. He’s still kind hearted. He still writes stories and loves picture books meant for little kids. But as they spend more time together, Adam realizes that Julian is keeping secrets, like where he hides during the middle of the day, and what’s really going on inside his house. Adam is determined to help him, but his involvement could cost both boys their lives.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Estranged foster brothers are reunited.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
One of my favorite scenes is when Adam recalls how he met Julian, and we see the bond they forged as children.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
In my car, driving home.

What’s your favorite junk food?
Chocolate donuts.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
A stuffed turtle with really long legs. It’s much cuter than it sounds.


After the Fall by Kate Hart
January 24, 2017 from Farrar, Straus & Giroux
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A YA debut about a teen girl who wrestles with rumors, reputation, and her relationships with two brothers.

Seventeen-year-old Raychel is sleeping with two boys: her overachieving best friend Matt…and his slacker brother, Andrew. Raychel sneaks into Matt’s bed after nightmares, but nothing ever happens. He doesn’t even seem to realize she’s a girl, except when he decides she needs rescuing. But Raychel doesn’t want to be his girl anyway. She just needs his support as she deals with the classmate who assaulted her, the constant threat of her family’s eviction, and the dream of college slipping quickly out of reach. Matt tries to help, but he doesn’t really get it… and he’d never understand why she’s fallen into a secret relationship with his brother. The friendships are a precarious balance, and when tragedy strikes, everything falls apart. Raychel has to decide which pieces she can pick up – and which ones are worth putting back together.

Describe your book in five words or less.
There’s a lot of crying.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
I love the Music on the Mulberry section because concerts were a huge part of my teenage years. My friends and I saw such a weird variety of shows — everything from BB King to Fiona Apple, Pearl Jam to the Rolling Stones, Widespread Panic to Bela Fleck. For all our adolescent awkwardness, we were always up for being ridiculous on the dance floor, and I hope the music festival scenes capture that release and joy despite everything else that was going on in our lives.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
I was at home, in my bedroom. After the phone call was over, I went into the living room and yelled the news at everyone in the house.

What’s your favorite junk food?
Popcorn made on the stove.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
An adding machine that used to be my grandfather’s. It works better as a paperweight than a calculator but I love it.


The Debut Dish 2017: Elly Blake, Josh Sundquist, Caroline Leech, Breeana Shields, and Chelsea Sedoti (+ Giveaways)

January 8, 2017 Author Interview, Debut Author Challenge, Debut Dish, Giveaway 22

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 very first issue of 2017’s The Debut Dish features Elly Blake (Frostblood), Josh Sundquist (Love and First Sight), Caroline Leech (Wait for Me), Breeana Shields (Poison’s Kiss), and Chelsea Sedoti (The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett).


Frostblood by Elly Blake
January 10, 2017 from Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
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Seventeen-year-old Ruby is a fireblood who must hide her powers of heat and flame from the cruel frostblood ruling class that wants to destroy all that are left of her kind. So when her mother is killed for protecting her and rebel frostbloods demand her help to kill their rampaging king, she agrees. But Ruby’s powers are unpredictable, and she’s not sure she’s willing to let the rebels and an infuriating (yet irresistible) young man called Arcus use her as their weapon.

All she wants is revenge, but before they can take action, Ruby is captured and forced to take part in the king’s tournaments that pit fireblood prisoners against frostblood champions. Now she has only one chance to destroy the maniacal ruler who has taken everything from her and from the icy young man she has come to love.

Fast-paced and compelling, Frostblood is the first in a page-turning new young adult three-book series about a world where flame and ice are mortal enemies—but together create a power that could change everything.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Fiery heroine versus frost king.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
I suppose it would have to be the first kiss. I had to take out a line or two that was too suggestive, :D but I still love that scene.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
I was in my car driving to work at the library and had to pull over next to a field so I could take the agent call. :)

What’s your favorite junk food?
Au Caramel cakes. So bad for me! But so good.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
Hmm, a fake flower from the Young Adult chapter of RWA, a cute beenie version of Wonder Woman, a mostly-eaten bag of German chocolate cookies, a post-it note that says “BE YOU.”

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Love and First Sight by Josh Sundquist
January 3, 2017 from Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
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Love is more than meets the eye.

On his first day at a new school, blind sixteen-year-old Will Porter accidentally groped a girl on the stairs, sat on another student in the cafeteria, and somehow drove a classmate to tears. High school can only go up from here, right?

As Will starts to find his footing, he develops a crush on a sweet but shy girl named Cecily. And despite his fear that having a girlfriend will make him inherently dependent on someone sighted, the two of them grow closer and closer. Then an unprecedented opportunity arises: an experimental surgery that could give Will eyesight for the first time in his life. But learning to see is more difficult than Will ever imagined, and he soon discovers that the sighted world has been keeping secrets. It turns out Cecily doesn’t meet traditional definitions of beauty—in fact, everything he’d heard about her appearance was a lie engineered by their so-called friends to get the two of them together. Does it matter what Cecily looks like? No, not really. But then why does Will feel so betrayed?

Describe your book in five words or less.
The title summarizes it nicely.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
There’s a scene in which the two protagonists visit an art museum. The narrator of the book, Will, has been blind from birth. He goes to there with a girl from school named Cecily who is really into art and photography. So we get to experience visual art from Will’s perspective. And we also get to listen to Cecily attend to explain the pieces to him using descriptors he can relate to.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
Standing by the kitchen sink at my fiance’s apartment.

What’s your favorite junk food?
Pizza with pepperoni and jalapeños.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
Unfortunately for the sake of being an interesting interview subject, I keep a pretty neat desk. There’s nothing on it besides my computer, phone, and a sharpie.


Wait for Me by Caroline Leech
January 31, 2017 from Harper TEEN
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The perfect blend of sweet romance and historical flavor, Wait for Me, from debut author Caroline Leech, brings a fresh new voice to a much-loved genre.

It’s 1945, and Lorna Anderson’s life on her father’s farm in Scotland consists of endless chores and rationing, knitting Red Cross scarves, and praying for an Allied victory. So when Paul Vogel, a German prisoner of war, is assigned as the new farmhand, Lorna is appalled. How can she possibly work alongside the enemy when her own brothers are risking their lives for their country?

But as Lorna reluctantly spends time with Paul, she feels herself changing. The more she learns about him—from his time in the war to his life back home in Germany—the more she sees the boy behind the soldier. Soon Lorna is battling her own warring heart. Loving Paul could mean losing her family and the life she’s always known. With tensions rising all around them, Lorna must decide how much she’s willing to sacrifice before the end of the war determines their fate.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Scottish farmgirl – prisoner-of-war – forbidden love
(It’s not cheating – if it’s hyphenated, it only counts as one word, right? Please? I could abbreviate it as POW instead!)

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
There’s a really sweet scene with a dance in the barn, but the one that was most fun to write was the huge fight that Lorna has with her brother. Lots of shouting and screaming the way only siblings can shout and scream.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
I was actually back home in Scotland on vacation, and we were in the middle of a big family party to celebrate my daughter’s eighteenth birthday. I knew my manuscript was being discussed at a meeting in New York that day, so when my phone buzzed in my pocket I had to have a quick look. The only other person that knew about it was my husband, who was sitting on the opposite side of the room. He saw me read the email from the editor at Harper Collins and smile, and he raised his eyebrows as if to say, “Yes?”, so I gave him a nod and forwarded the email for him to read on his phone. The pair of us then sat with the secret for about another hour or so, because we didn’t want to steal my daughter’s evening. We did share the news with everyone at the end of the night though, and I think she was the most excited of us all.

What’s your favorite junk food?
You name it, I love it. But I suppose my absolute favorite is good old British fish and chips, from a real British chip shop. Whenever I’m back home with my husband and kids, we always try to have one “carry-out” from the chippy. Rich crispy batter around a cod fillet, with a big pile of fat chips (they’re much better than American fries), all drizzled with salt and vinegar. Mmmmm, delicious!

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
Right now the oddest thing would be if I could actually see any of my desk surface peeking out from under all the piles of paper. Even calling them piles makes them sound too tidy. I’m hopelessly disorganized, so there are numerous strata of paperwork completely covering any inch that doesn’t have a keyboard or a mouse on it. And you wonder why I normally go to our local Barnes & Noble café or Starbucks to write my books? Having said that, I do have a little stone rabbit and a tiny metal llama which sit on my desk and I play with them when I’m thinking deep thoughts or if I’m on a long phone call.

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Poison’s Kiss by Breeana Shields
January 10, 2017 from Harper TEEN
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A teenage assassin kills with a single kiss until she is ordered to kill the one boy she loves. This commercial YA fantasy is romantic and addictive like– a poison kiss– and will thrill fans of Sarah J. Maas and Victoria Aveyard.

Marinda has kissed dozens of boys. They all die afterward. It s a miserable life, but being a visha kanya a poison maiden is what she was created to do. Marinda serves the Raja by dispatching his enemies with only her lips as a weapon.

Until now, the men she was ordered to kiss have been strangers, enemies of the kingdom. Then she receives orders to kiss Deven, a boy she knows too well to be convinced he needs to die. She begins to question who she s really working for. And that is a thread that, once pulled, will unravel more than she can afford to lose.

This rich, surprising, and accessible debut is based in Indian folklore and delivers a story that will keep readers on the edge of their seats.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Girl with a deadly kiss.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
I have a couple of favorites, but the final scene was a lot of fun to write–we get a little peek of what will be happening in the second book.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
In the drive-through waiting for a Taco. Not kidding.

What’s your favorite junk food?
Lay’s Limon potato chips.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
A little silver elephant–his trunk holds my rings when I take them off to put on lotion.

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The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett by Chelsea Sedoti
January 3, 2017 from Sourcebooks
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A teenage misfit named Hawthorn Creely inserts herself in the investigation of missing person Lizzie Lovett, who disappeared mysteriously while camping with her boyfriend. Hawthorn doesn’t mean to interfere, but she has a pretty crazy theory about what happened to Lizzie. In order to prove it, she decides to immerse herself in Lizzie’s life. That includes taking her job… and her boyfriend. It’s a huge risk — but it’s just what Hawthorn needs to find her own place in the world.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Misfit teen investigates missing person.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
The main character of 100 Lies has a habit of wishing goofy curses on people.

For instance: “I wished every time she microwaved a frozen burrito the center would stay cold.”

It’s not a scene exactly, but coming up with Hawthorn’s curses was definitely one of my favorite things.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
Ah, well, this is odd.

I was actually at a funeral when I found out I was getting published. You could say it was a day of VERY mixed emotions.

What’s your favorite junk food?
Only ONE?

I guess I’ll have to go with red velvet cupcakes. (Though I’m fond of cupcakes of any type.)

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
I currently have two books sitting next to my computer.

1. The Big Book of Baby Names
2. The Encyclopedia of Serial Killers

Sort of an odd combination. But that’s what happens when you research a book.

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Debut Author Challenge 2017: January-March Review Link-Up

January 1, 2017 Debut Author Challenge 6

Happy New Year! Welcome to the 2017 Debut Author Challenge! I can’t believe another year has gone by! I feel like time is flying. I still remember ringing in the new millennium, which feels like yesterday but was really 17 years ago! What!? I hope you’re excited for another amazing year of reading and a pretty wonderful line-up of 2017 debut books!

Welcome back to all of the returning participants, and for all you shiny new participants, I’m so glad you’ve decided to join! I’ve already gotten to talk with a ton of this year’s debut authors, and they are ready to be interviewed and give things away and love us all for supporting them in their debut year. The thing I love most about this challenge is the opportunity it gives us to give new authors a boost. :)

There have been no changes to last year’s rules, however there has been one small change to the link-ups that I think will make things easier on everyone involved. Instead of monthly review link-ups, we’re doing quarterly review link-ups now! The remaining link-ups will be posted on the first day of April, July, and October. As always, the link-ups will be easily accessible by clicking on the button on the top of my sidebar here on the blog. Remember to post the links to your reviews because the prize packs will be even cooler this year!

Some things to remember:

– For the month of January ONLY, you may link-up your reviews for 2016 debuts. This is great for two reasons: 1. December 2016 debuts get more time. 2. There’s not a lot of 2017 debuts yet!

– This is the review link-up for all debut reviews you write in January, February, and March. This does not mean that the books you review have to be published during these three months. You can read and review any debut, any month of the year.

– In order to get credit for your review, you must have read the book in 2017. If you read an ARC of a 2017 debut in 2016, 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.


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

December 18, 2016 Author Interview, Debut Author Challenge, Debut Dish, Giveaway 6

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 is the final Debut Dish issue of the 2016 Debut Author Challenge! I can’t believe it!

Sign up for the 2017 Debut Author Challenge!

This issue of The Debut Dish features Audrey Coulthurst (Of Fire and Stars), Molly Booth (Saving Hamlet), and Erica M. Chapman (Teach Me to Forget).


Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurts
November 22, 2016 from Balzer + Bray
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

Betrothed since childhood to the prince of Mynaria, Princess Dennaleia has always known what her future holds. Her marriage will seal the alliance between Mynaria and her homeland, protecting her people from other hostile lands. But Denna has a secret. She possesses an Affinity for fire—a dangerous gift for the future queen of a kingdom where magic is forbidden.

Now, Denna must learn the ways of her new home while trying to hide her growing magic. To make matters worse, she must learn to ride Mynaria’s formidable warhorses—and her teacher is the person who intimidates her most, the prickly and unconventional Princess Amaranthine—called Mare—the sister of her betrothed.

When a shocking assassination leaves the kingdom reeling, Mare and Denna reluctantly join forces to search for the culprit. As the two become closer, Mare is surprised by Denna’s intelligence and bravery, while Denna is drawn to Mare’s independent streak. And soon their friendship is threatening to blossom into something more.

But with dangerous conflict brewing that makes the alliance more important than ever, acting on their feelings could be deadly. Forced to choose between their duty and their hearts, Mare and Denna must find a way to save their kingdoms—and each other.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Magic, assassinations, and lesbian princesses.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
One of the scenes I had the most fun writing was Princess Dennaleia’s first horseback riding lesson. She wants to make a good impression, but she’s nervous and Princess Amaranthine (Mare) is not thrilled to be teaching her. Dennaleia also hasn’t quite figured out why she gets even more anxious every time Mare touches her.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
I was at my day job and I couldn’t find a free room to take the call, so I was running around through the halls all panicked. I ended up in a reception area staring out at the Pacific Ocean.

What’s your favorite junk food?
I have a real weakness for ice cream, especially if it involves an alarming amount of chocolate. In weirder things, one of my critique partners got me addicted to Dutch licorice, which can only be described as vaguely reminiscent of roadkill or cat litter and yet is still somehow delicious.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
A paperweight made out of the leaping cat hood ornament from a 1959 Mark IX Jaguar. My mom drove it through the side of a building when she was in college and apparently it was the only part of the front end of the car that survived.

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Saving Hamlet by Molly Booth
November 1, 2016 from Disney-Hyperion
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

I wanted sophomore year to be different, but this was a little much.

Emma Allen couldn’t be more excited to start her sophomore year. Not only is she the assistant stage manager for the drama club’s production of Hamlet, but her crush Brandon is directing, and she’s rocking a new haircut that’s sure to get his attention. But soon after school starts, everything goes haywire. Emma’s suddenly promoted to stage manager, her best friend, Lulu, stops talking to her, and Josh—the sweet soccer player who’s been cast as the lead—turns out to be a disaster. It’s up to Emma to fix it all, but she has no clue where to start.

One night after rehearsal, Emma stays behind to think through her life’s latest crises and distractedly falls through the stage’s trap door…landing in the basement of the Globe Theater.

It’s London, 1601, and with her awesome new pixie cut, everyone thinks Emma’s a boy—even Will Shakespeare himself. Dropped into the middle of the original production of Hamlet, Emma gamely plays her role as backstage assistant, jumping at the chance to experience theatre history and rub shoulders with legends. But the Globe’s Hamlet has its own problems, and once Emma starts traveling back and forth through time, things get really confusing. In which reality does she belong? And can she possibly save two epically tragic productions of Hamlet before time runs out?

Describe your book in five words or less.
Time traveling Shakespeare drama teens!

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
My favorite scene in the book is where the main character, Emma Allen, goes out to an Elizabethan-style cast party, in 1601, with Shakespeare’s theatre company. It’s an eye-opening evening for her, and it was a total blast to write.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
I was in Vermont, visiting my alma mater, Marlboro College! Specifically, I was sitting in a best friend’s car, overlooking gorgeous Vermont mountains. I had to tell my literary agent to put the phone down, so I could scream xD.

What’s your favorite junk food?
Potato chips. Forever and ever potato chips.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
A purple, glittery skull.

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Teach Me to Forget by Erica M. Chapman
December 2, 2016 from Merit Press
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

This is the story of Ellery, a girl who learns how to live while waiting for the date she chose to die.

Ellery’s bought the gun, made arrangements for her funeral, and even picked the day. A Wednesday. Everything has fallen into place.

Now all she has to do is die.

When her plans go awry and the gun she was going to kill herself with breaks, she does the one thing she has control over–return it and get a new one. After tormenting the crusty customer service associate by trying to return the gun with the wrong receipt, Ellery gets caught by the security guard who also happens to be someone she knows–the annoyingly perfect Colter Sawyer from her English class.

Colter quickly uncovers what she’s hiding and is determined to change her mind. After confessing a closely held secret of his own, he promises not to tell hers. Ellery tries to fight her attraction to him as the shadows of her past cling tight around her, but when she’s faced with another tragedy, she must decide whether she can learn to live with what she’s done or follow through with her plan to die.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Guilt-ridden Ellery wants to die.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
Oh boy. Let’s see… My favorite scene is toward the end of the book. I call it “The Bridge Scene”. Without giving too much away, it’s where everything in the story reaches the breaking point. I cried so much writing this story but that scene in particular really got me. It’s emotional, desperate, and it’s where the reader finds out a lot about who the protagonist, Ellery really is.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
Actually I was at work. I missed the call! I can’t remember exactly what I said to my co-workers but I know they heard my gasp and shock ;o) I wish it was more interesting than that. Like I was sky-diving and checked my phone and saw the message. Or maybe that I was on a plane and the choir traveling to a competition serenaded me with “Celebration” by Kool in the Gang.

What’s your favorite junk food?
Okay. I’m in love with the Hickory BBQ Wavy Lays and Peanut Butter M&Ms, oh and Taffy. I love Taffy. Wait, was I only supposed to give one.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
I’m obsessed with ampersands. I’ve got a tattoo of one, I buy anything ampersand so I have a lot of them on my desk and around my place. The oddest thing on my desk is probably the ampersand that I stole (legally, no worries) from a NY & Co. store that left the mall I worked for. It follows me to every job.

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