Posts Categorized: Giveaway

A Polish Christmas by Ksenia Winnicki | Guest Post (+ Giveaway)

December 11, 2017 Giveaway, Guest Post 3

Celebrate the Christmas season with That Artsy Reader Girl and her bookish friends! 

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I love Ksenia so much! She was the very first publicist who took a chance on little old me and sent me my very first ARC (Of Poseidon by Anna Banks) and put me on my very first official blog tour (again, for Of Poseidon). After she left Macmillan I continued to work with her while she was at ABRAMS, Tor, and Simon & Schuster. Now she’s living her dream and writing, and I can’t wait to see where life takes her next! I love hearing about her Polish heritage, so we’re all in for a huge treat today to read about how she celebrates Christmas.

A Polish Christmas

by Ksenia Winnicki

Ksenia in the kitchen cooking yummies.

I love Christmas! Let’s just get that out of the way. I love the decorations, I love the music, and I love decorating a Christmas Tree. But one of the main things I get really excited for is the FOOD! Growing up Polish, I was always surrounded by Polish food anyway, but for some reason, the Polish food at Christmas was just extra special.

But before I start rambling on about the delicious food, let me take a step back and tell you a bit more about a few Polish Christmas traditions. Poland is a Catholic country, and so Christmas is a very big deal. In our Polish household, the main festivities happen on December 24, Christmas Eve, aka Wigilia.

Below, is a list of some of the Polish Christmas traditions and superstitions (including some that my family and I keep):

The first person to enter the household on Christmas Eve has to be a man, otherwise it will bring bad luck. Because my husband and I rent an apartment from my parents in the same building here in Queens, when my mom wants us to pick something up from downstairs that day, she will insist that it be Josh, not me. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

During the day, you’re supposed to be fasting, in preparation for the Christmas supper. With all the other preparations going on during the day, I do in fact forget to eat anyway.

Christmas Eve table setting.

When setting the table, you are to leave one place setting for an extra guest, whether that guest be someone unexpected who is in search of a place to stay that night, or for someone that has departed. The table also has some hay hidden underneath the tablecloth. My mom brought some with her from Bethlehem when my parents visited one year, so we’ve been using that batch of hay for a few years now.

Christmas supper is supposed to begin when you see the first star light up in the sky. My parents and I do not hold to this tradition, but I know a close friend of mine did when she was growing up.

Right before sitting down to eat, there are two very important things that must happen.

Oplatek (picture from wikipedia)

The first one, is that we all take an opłatek (a thin wafer with a religious Christmas image), and go around the room to each person, breaking off a piece of that opłatek from one another, and exchanging good wishes for the upcoming year. There are some dipped in honey, but that is saved for after the meal, so that you may also have a sweet year, too. In addition to the wafer, we all take a bunch of change, and exchange the coins with one another. That way, at the end, you have coins from everyone else. And you are to tuck those coins away and not spend it, in order to ensure prosperity for the coming year.

Midnight Mass is especially a big occasion. For YEARS growing up, my parents and the family friends we spent Christmas with together talked about going to Midnight Mass. My friend and I always took bets on how many bottles of wine our parents would drink instead. One year, finally, one year when I was in college, we all went to Midnight Mass. It was loud! It was boisterous! It’s a whole church filled with Polish people who have been drinking and have been merry all day and night. It’s quite a sight (and sound)!

At midnight, the superstition is that animals begin talking. We sadly, never got to hear any of our cats and dogs speak, because we were either in bed by then or completely did not notice the time go by, and so we had no idea what wisdom our cats and dogs might have given out! Along that same line, my mom’s father (back in Poland) would go out to the barn to share an opłatek with the horses and cows and other farm animals.

Ksenia’s Pierogi

All about the food: In addition to fasting during the day, there is to be no meat. So all the dishes for Wigilia are vegetarian and of the fish-based variety. Any food that has meat can be eaten on Christmas Day. Supposedly, there are to be twelve dishes, because of the twelve apostles. We do not hold to that tradition. For food we traditionally have red borscht with mushroom dumplings, pierogi (with cheese and potato), stuffed cabbage (with rice and mushroom), and carp. My mom likes to make kompot, a sweet and juicy beverage from pears and other dried fruit; for the longest time she would make kutia, this Polish-style pudding with poppy seed and other grains, but then she gave up when she noticed none of us ate it! Over the last several years, I’ve taken up the mantle of hosting Christmas Eve, as well as cooking the majority of the dishes. If you know me, I don’t cook. So instead, I spend the two days prior to Christmas Eve making and cooking stuffed cabbage, pierogi, uszka (the dumplings for the borscht), and some cookies and pies.

Ksenia’s Polish cookbooks.

I’ve accumulated some Polish cookbooks in the last few years, but when it comes to the pierogi, I make sure to follow my grandmother’s recipe!

After the meal, we will sit down for some light desserts, some Polish Christmas carol singing, and then we open our gifts. Depending on how long everyone stays, our Christmas Eve can last long past midnight.

So those are some of the Polish Christmas traditions from my Polish household. Josh is a real trooper and has adapted quite well. ;) I do insist that he works from home on those days I’m cooking for fear of burning down the house.

The one thing I hate is how quickly it all goes by; I wish I could make Christmas Eve last longer!

So to celebrate in the spirit of the season and this post, I have three Polish-themed books to give away! They are:

 

The Dragon of Krakow and other Polish Stories by Richard Monte: A short but great collection of Polish legends featuring a dragon, a mermaid, and more!

Soldier Bear by Bibi Dumon Tak: One of my favorite real Polish heroes is a bear (yes, a bear), a soldier of the Polish II Corps who fought in WWII. His name is Corporal Wojtek, and his story is pretty much amazing and unbelievable.

Push Not the River by James Conroyd Martin: Polish Historical Fiction! This is an epic saga that takes place during the late 1700s, when Poland is being partitioned by Russia, Prussia, and Austria. The story is based off the diaries of a real noblewoman. There’s romance, scheming, politics and more! I read this like ten years ago and have been meaning to revisit. It’s the first in a trilogy!

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Hope you’ve all enjoyed this small peek into my Polish heritage! Happy Holidays everyone!!!!!

Follow Ksenia: Website | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads


The Debut Dish: Laura Creedle (+ Giveaway)

December 10, 2017 Author Interview, Debut Author Challenge, Debut Dish, Giveaway 4

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 final issue of 2017 The Debut Dish features Laura Creedle (The Love Letters of Abelard and Lily).

Sign up for the 2018 Debut Author Challenge!


The Love Letters of Abelard and Lily by Laura Creedle
December 26, 2017 from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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When Lily Michaels-Ryan ditches her ADHD meds and lands in detention with Abelard, who has Asperger’s, she’s intrigued—Abelard seems thirty seconds behind, while she feels thirty seconds ahead. It doesn’t hurt that he’s brilliant and beautiful.

When Abelard posts a quote from The Letters of Abelard and Heloise online, their mutual affinity for ancient love letters connects them. The two fall for each other. Hard. But is it enough to bridge their differences in person?

This hilarious, heartbreaking story of human connection between two neurodivergent teens creates characters that will stay with you long after you finish reading.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Neurodivergent smart romance. ADHD, ASD.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
When Abelard finally texts Lily, he sends her quotes from The Letters of Abelard and Heloise. He knows she’s read it. He texts, “I have wit enough to write a letter and hope that you would permit my absent self to entertain you.” Lily figures out it’s from the book. She sends her sister Iris running through the house to find their dad’s copy of the book. She finds the perfect quote to text back, and their romance begins in a flush of word-borne feels.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
Home. My agent sent me an e-mail with two words: call me. My editor, Margaret Raymo wanted to pre-empt. It didn’t take long to say yes.

What’s your favorite junk food?
Phish food by Ben and Jerry’s. It’s like candy and ice-cream and marshmallow rolled into one caloric explosion of deliciousness. Plus, it has fish shaped chocolates. Who doesn’t love non-aquatic food shaped like fish?

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
A magnetic Sylvia Plath finger puppet. When my brother found out my novel was going to be published, he sent me a box of literary finger puppets. Dickens is on the side of the fridge. I’ve lost the rest.

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Miracle on 5th Avenue by Sarah Morgan | Book Review & Giveaway

December 8, 2017 Adult Fiction, Book Review, Giveaway 11 ★★★★

Miracle on 5th Avenue by Sarah Morgan | Book Review & GiveawayMiracle on 5th Avenue by Sarah Morgan
Series: From Manhattan with Love #3
Published by HQN Books on November 29, 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Contemporary Romance, Holiday, Romance
Pages: 384
Format: eARC
Source: From the publisher through Netgalley
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4 Stars
It will take a Christmas miracle for two very different souls to find each other in this perfectly festive fairy tale of New York!

Hopeless romantic Eva Jordan loves everything about Christmas. She might be spending the holidays alone this year, but when she's given an opportunity to house-sit a spectacular penthouse on Fifth Avenue, she leaps at the chance. What better place to celebrate than in snow-kissed Manhattan? What she didn't expect was to find the penthouse still occupied by its gorgeous—and mysterious—owner.

Bestselling crime writer Lucas Blade is having the nightmare before Christmas. With a deadline and the anniversary of his wife's death looming, he's isolated himself in his penthouse with only his grief for company. He wants no interruptions, no decorations and he certainly doesn't appreciate being distracted by his beautiful, bubbly new housekeeper. But when the blizzard of the century leaves Eva snowbound in his apartment, Lucas starts to open up to the magic she brings…This Christmas, is Lucas finally ready to trust that happily-ever-afters do exist?

Sarah Morgan is one of my very favorite authors, and I can definitely always count on her to get me into the Christmas spirit. I’ve read and loved many of her Christmas romances, so I was very eager to read Miracle on 5th Avenue as well. As always, my main points are bolded.

1. Miracle on 5th Avenue is the first book in the From Manhattan with Love series that I’ve read, but I did not feel like I was missing out on any information. It reads perfectly fine as a standalone, but will make you want to grab the other books in the series as well. 

2. I love that one of the main character, Lucas, is an author. He’s on deadline and he’s writing a book that millions of people are eagerly anticipating. Any book that includes other books is always a double win for me. I enjoyed reading about his writing process and the writer’s block and how he comes up with his stories. He writes crime novels, and he’s inspired to model a character after Eva, our heroine.

3. Speaking of Lucas, I loved him even though he’s not super lovable. Readers only see his bad side for a little while. He’s grumpy and stressed and pretty irritating. But then he becomes inspired by Eva, his creative juices start flowing, and when she becomes more to him than a character in his book he becomes caring and sweet. I loved seeing him open up about his past. As he did, so did Eva.

4. Eva is a Christmas fanatic just like me, so we got along very well. While grumpy Lucas worked upstairs in his fortress of solitude, she decorated a tree in his living room and cooked up a storm of so many yummy sounding foods all while singing her heart out. She’s so much like me. And she drove him nuts in an endearing kind of way. Her cheery disposition melted the ice man, and things got cute, if not a little bumpy along the way.

5. This book is so festive, which I’m finding is rare among this year’s “Christmas” book releases. I’ve read quite a few recent releases from this year and last year, and I finally found one that was Christmasy enough for me. Thanks for doing it again, Sarah! FINALLY.

6. I love Sarah’s writing and her ability to create characters that make their way into your heart, her ability to write emotions that you can feel, and her ability to always put a smile on your face. 

All in all, Miracle On 5th Avenue was another win for me! I really loved it and am excited to continue the series. I love New York City, so it’s kind of like Sarah wrote me my own series! Definitely pick this up if you’re looking for a little Christmas cheer and some really fun characters.

In honor of A Bookish Little Christmas, Sarah has offered up a signed copy of Miracle On 5th Avenue to one of my readers! I am so unbelievably jealous of whoever wins! I’d love a signed Sarah Morgan book! Enter to win below!

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Happy Holidays from Forever! | Christmas Book Spotlights & Giveaway

December 6, 2017 Book Spotlight, Giveaway 3

Celebrate the Christmas season with That Artsy Reader Girl and her bookish friends! 

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The lovely people at Forever, the romance imprint of Grand Central Publishing, are here to celebrate the holidays with us today with a pretty amazing prize pack giveaway for three of my readers! Read more about Long, Tall Cowboy Christmas by Carolyn Brown, Back Home at Firefly Lake by Jen Gilroy, Sugarplum Way by Debbie Mason, The Winter Wedding Plan by Oliva Miles, and Maybe This Christmas by Jennifer Snow below, and then enter to win a special Forever tote filled with paperbacks of them all!

Long, Tall Cowboy Christmas (Happy, Texas #2) by Carolyn Brown
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Nash Lamont is a man about as solitary as they come. That’s exactly why ranch life in middle-of-nowhere Happy, Texas suits him. So what the heck is he doing letting a beautiful widow and her three rambunctious children temporarily move in? Before he knows it, they’re stringing Christmas lights and decorating the tree… and he’s having the time of his life. But after everything he’s been through, Nash knows this kind of happiness doesn’t last.

Kasey Dawson thought she’d never get over the death of her husband. Nash, with his strong hands and infinite patience, is stirring something she hasn’t felt in a long time. Kasey knows the sexy cowboy isn’t telling her everything about this past, though. And she refuses to risk heartbreak all over again. But her kids have a plan of their own: Nothing will keep them from having a real family again-even if it takes a little help from Santa himself.

Back Home at Firefly Lake (Firefly Lake #3) by Jen Gilroy
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She has a million reasons to leave.
Can he give her the one she needs to stay?

Cat McGuire’s return to Firefly Lake is turning into much more than she bargained for. Sure, she missed the crisp pine-scented air and the comfort of having her family around her. But being home makes her feel less like the successful single mom she is–and more like the awkward teen who never fit in. It doesn’t help that hockey-pro Luc Simard is back in town, too. Luc was her childhood crush, the hometown hero who never noticed her, and yet somehow he still makes her heart skip a beat.

Luc’s homecoming has been bittersweet. He’s lost his wife and his career, but there’s no better place to start over than Firefly Lake. Coaching the local kids’ hockey team makes him feel alive again, and he thinks his life is complete–until Cat arrives. The shy girl he always wanted to protect is now the gorgeous woman who’s stealing his heart and making him believe in second chances. But how can he convince Cat that Firefly Lake is where she truly belongs?

In the tradition of New York Times bestselling authors Susan Wiggs and RaeAnne Thayne comes an emotional story about finding love in the most unexpected of places from Jen Gilroy.

Sugarplum Way (Harmony Harbor #4) by Debbie Mason
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Romance writer Julia Landon knows how to write a happily-ever-after. Creating one for herself is a whole different story. But after a surprising–and surprisingly passionate–kiss under the mistletoe at Harmony Harbor’s holiday party last year, Julia thought she might have finally found her very own chance at true love. Until she learns her Mr. Tall, Dark, and Broodingly Handsome has sworn off relationships. Well, if she can’t have him in real life, Julia knows just how to get the next best thing….

Aidan’s only priority is to be the best single dad ever. And this year, he plans to make the holidays magical for his little girl, Ella Rose. But visions of stolen kisses under the mistletoe keep dancing in his head, and when he finds out Julia has written him into her latest novel, he can’t help imagining the possibilities of a future together. Little does he know, though, Julia has been keeping a secret that threatens all their dreams. Luckily, ’tis the season for a little Christmas magic.

The Winter Wedding Plan (Misty Point #2) by Olivia Miles
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All she wants for Christmas is a second chance . . .

Charlotte Daniels has made her share of mistakes, but now that she’s a single mom, she vows to do better–and that starts with a new career. Working at her sister’s event-planning company is just the fresh start she needs.

Kate Daniels has finally forgiven Charlotte for her betrayal, but forgetting it is harder. But as the holidays approach and Kate has her own wedding to plan, she has no choice but to turn to Charlotte for help to throw a high-profile client the holiday party of the season.

Charlotte leaps at the chance to redeem herself . . . until this irresistible client asks her to pretend to be his fiancée for the party. She knows their charade won’t come without consequences–not just for her fresh start with Kate, but also for her own daughter.

As Kate’s wedding draws near and Charlotte’s fake romance starts to feel more and more real, will she fall back into the mistakes of her past, or finally prove herself to Kate once and for all?

Maybe This Christmas (Colorado Ice #3) by Jennifer Snow
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All wrapped up . . .

One more game. That’s all that stands between NHL star Asher Westmore and a major career milestone. But then his brother bashes him against the hockey boards, sidelining him for months. Over Christmas holidays, no less. If staying off the ice doesn’t drive him crazy, staying with his family will. The only bright spot amidst the mistletoe and twinkle lights: His best friend, Emma, is a physical therapist. And working out with her improves his body and his spirit.

One last time. Emma Callaway was in trouble the minute she and Asher added benefits to their friendship. How is she supposed to resist a funny, caring guy who makes her toes curl? Her heart was safe while he lived in a different state. Now that he’s back home recuperating, though, it’s only a matter of time before she blurts out her feelings. Emma’s only hope is that with a little holiday magic, she’ll get the best Christmas gift of all.

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Handmade Holiday Cards by Andi | Book Blogger Guest Post (+ Giveaway)

December 2, 2017 Giveaway, Guest Post 12

Celebrate the Christmas season with That Artsy Reader Girl and her bookish friends! 

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Welcome to Andi of Andi’s ABCs, who is kicking off this fun month of festive book reviews and guest posts! I’ve always loved Andi’s blog as well as the fun cards she posts online, so I was really excited when she offered to talk about her cards and make a holiday set for my readers! The giveaway will end in time for you to mail them out to your friends and family this month.

I’m so excited to take part in Jana’s, Bookish Little Christmas. This is Jana’s 6th year doing this feature and my first time guest posting.

For those of you that don’t know me I’m Andi from Andi’s ABCs. In January my blog will be 5 years old (no, I really can’t believe that!). Andi’s ABCs is my baby where I blog about my love of YA books, romance books, and my love of accessories and clothes. But I have another hobby that I fell in love with over a year ago and brings use to my post for Jana: Cards by Andrea S..

When Jana was looking for guest posters I knew I was going to bring my love of card making to her blog so here I am.

When sitting down to come up with a design I decided I wanted to do something simple. I flipped through my stamps and found three sets I wanted to use. These sets by no means go together but they ended up really working for the look I was going for.

I wanted to keep the card simple and use traditional holiday colors. Once I settled on Altenew’s Rouge and Silver Stone, and Gina K.’s Grass Green I was really excited to see how this card set would turn out.

Using my favorite black ink, VersaFine Onyx Black, I stamped the sentiment and the tree. I liked it without anything else, but I knew there was some sparkle that was needed. I scoured my stash and found some clear sequins which were the perfect addition.

And I finished the card off with a holiday sentiment.

If you want to see more cards like this that I have created check out my Etsy shop HERE. I have a variety of holiday and everyday cards available.

But this set; this set is for one of you. I’m giving away all 6 of these cards I made for readers of That Artsy Reader Girl’s blog. Sadly the giveaway is US only. Sorry international peeps, shipping is just too expensive at this time. The giveaway will end at 11:59EST on December 9th.

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A huge thanks to Jana for having me. This was a lot of fun!

Do you send out holiday cards to your friends and family? Do you enjoy receiving them?


The Debut Dish: Anna Priemaza, Amy Giles, & Dave Connis (+ Giveaways)

November 26, 2017 Author Interview, Debut Author Challenge, Debut Dish, Giveaway 3

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 Anna Priemaza (Kat and Meg Conquer the World), Amy Giles (Now is Everything), and Dave Connis (The Temptation of Adam).

Sign up for the 2018 Debut Author Challenge!


Kat and Meg Conquer the World by Anna Priemaza
November 7, 2017 from HarperTeen
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Kat and Meg couldn’t be more different. Kat’s anxiety makes it hard for her to talk to people. Meg hates being alone, but her ADHD keeps pushing people away. But when the two girls are thrown together for a year-long science project, they discover they do have one thing in common: They’re both obsessed with the same online gaming star and his hilarious videos.

It might be the beginning of a beautiful friendship—if they don’t kill each other first.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Gamer girl BFFs, anxiety, ADHD.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
My favourite* scene in the book is told entirely through the chat log of Legends of the Stone, Kat and Meg’s favourite video game. The two of them have logged on to play together for the very first time with one of Kat’s friends on her server, and chaos and hilarity ensues! It was so much fun to write.

*I’m Canadian. We include the letter “u” in everything.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
I was at home, in our board game room. (I almost wrote dining room, because in most people’s houses, that’s what it would be. But we’ve covered the walls in shelves and filled those shelves with board games–hundreds of them–and we picked the big table in the middle specifically with board gaming in mind.) I paced back and forth in front of our shelves and shelves of board games and cried many happy tears as my agent gave me the news.

What’s your favorite junk food?
Mars bars. It’s a chocolate bar we have in Canada that has nougat, caramel, and chocolate, and it’s sooooooooo delicious. I was horrified to learn that it’s not sold widely in the United States. Americans, I am very sorry for your country.

Also, birthday cake ice cream with cookie dough, brownies, strawberries, and raspberries mixed into it.

Also, melon ball frozen yogurt.

Also, dill pickle popcorn.

Also… I suppose I should stop now.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
Fidget balls. They’re tiny, rubbery, spiky balls that look sort of like tiny hedgehogs. I have dermatillomania, aka skin picking disorder, which is an anxiety based compulsive disorder related to OCD, and which means I tend to pick uncontrollably at my skin until it bleeds. The fidget balls sometimes help me to pick at or play with something else instead.


Now is Everything by Amy Giles
November 7, 2017 from HarperTeen
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The McCauleys look perfect on the outside. But nothing is ever as it seems, and this family is hiding a dark secret.

Hadley McCauley will do anything to keep her sister safe from their father. But when Hadley’s forbidden relationship with Charlie Simmons deepens, the violence at home escalates, culminating in an explosive accident that will leave everyone changed.

When Hadley attempts to take her own life at the hospital post-accident, her friends, doctors, family, and the investigator on the case want to know why. Only Hadley knows what really happened that day, and she’s not talking.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Suspense, hope, sisters, plane crash

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
One of my favorite scenes is when I introduce Hadley and Lila’s relationship, two sisters hanging out together. Lila lost another molar and Hadley wants to know if Lila will bankroll her with some of that extra money coming in from the tooth fairy. It’s goofy and yet sweet and (I hope!) shows why Hadley will do whatever it takes to protect her little sister.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
I was putting my shoes on to go out to dinner when my agent called from her cell phone. I didn’t recognize her number at first, so it took me longer than it should have to catch on. I think I said, “Huh? Okay? Are you kidding me? Really?” My family figured it out before I did and started jumping up and down around me. I ended up calling my agent the next morning to ask her to explain it all over again.

What’s your favorite junk food?
Chocolate, just about any kind. Though I once bit into a chocolate covered jalapeño and I did not care for it. Not one bit.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
A thermometer. I have a stomach bug. (Is that weird or just plain sad? I’m not sure.)

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The Temptation of Adam by Dave Connis
November 21, 2017 from Sky Pony Press
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Adam Hawthorne is fine.

Yeah, his mother left, his older sister went with her, and his dad would rather read Nicholas Sparks novels than talk to him. And yeah, he spends his nights watching self-curated porn video playlists.

But Adam is fine.

When a family friend discovers Adam’s porn addiction, he’s forced to join an addiction support group: the self-proclaimed Knights of Vice. He goes because he has to, but the honesty of the Knights starts to slip past his defenses. Combine that with his sister’s out-of-the-blue return and the attention of a girl he meets in an AA meeting, and all the work Adam has put into being fine begins to unravel.

Now Adam has to face the causes and effects of his addiction, before he loses his new friends, his prodigal sister, and his almost semi-sort-of girlfriend.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Deep wounds heal the brightest.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
There’s a scene in TOA where Adam and his sister, Addy, have a fight in the car. Adam lets slip something he’d been holding onto for a long time and Addy is forced to deal with it. The emotion of that moment, as well as how the two handle it always grabs my heart.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
On a ladder scraping popcorn ceiling off a house my wife and I just closed on.

What’s your favorite junk food?
GOLDFISH. QUESO. GOLDFISH. QUESO. GOLDFISH.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
A Darth Vader alarm clock.

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The Debut Dish: Nikki Katz, Caitlin Sangster, & Tristina Wright (+ Giveaway)

October 22, 2017 Author Interview, Debut Author Challenge, Debut Dish, Giveaway 3

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 Nikki Katz (The Midnight Dance), Caitlin Sangster (Last Star Burning), and Tristina Wright (27 Hours).


The Midnight Dance by Nikki Katz
October 17, 2017 from Swoon Reads
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When the music stops, the dance begins.

Seventeen-year-old Penny is a lead dancer at the Grande Teatro, a finishing school where she and eleven other young women are training to become the finest ballerinas in Italy. Tucked deep into the woods, the school is overseen by the mysterious and handsome young Master who keeps the girls ensconced in the estate – and in the only life Penny has never known.

But when flashes of memories, memories of a life very different from the one she thinks she’s been leading, start to appear, Penny begins to question the Grand Teatro and the motivations of the Master. With a kind and attractive kitchen boy, Cricket, at her side, Penny vows to escape the confines of her school and the strict rules that dictate every step she takes. But at every turn, the Master finds a way to stop her, and Penny must find a way to escape the school and uncover the secrets of her past before it’s too late.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Gothic, historical, retelling.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
This is such a tough one. It’s like choosing which of my three kids is my favorite! Two of my favorite scenes are actually cut from the published version of the novel, but one of my favorites is the first time Penny and Cricket kiss. Which is really funny, as I do not consider myself a romance author whatsoever! In the first couple of drafts, their first kiss came later in the novel, but I enjoyed rewriting it and setting it where it now takes place. Another favorite (see I can’t choose!) is the fight scene at the end of the novel. Fight scenes are my favorite to write.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
I was at home and got an email from Swoon Reads saying they wanted to schedule a call. I had a feeling that it had to be good news! Then I was home when we had the discussion and they said they wanted to publish my novel as part of the current round.

What’s your favorite junk food?
Candy. Any type but usually a gummi or jelly bean kind!

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
A voodoo doll that my critique partner and very VERY good friend, Demetra Brodsky, gave me for my last birthday after her trip to New Orleans!

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Last Star Burning by Caitlin Sangster
October 10, 2017 from Simon Pulse
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Sev is branded with the mark of a criminal—a star burned into her hand. That’s the penalty for being the daughter of the woman who betrayed their entire nation.

Now her mother’s body is displayed above Traitor’s Arch, kept in a paralyzed half sleep by the same plague that destroyed the rest of the world. And as further punishment, Sev is forced to do hard labor to prove that she’s more valuable alive than dead.

When the government blames Sev for a horrific bombing, she must escape the city or face the chopping block. Unimaginable dangers lurk outside the city walls, and Sev’s only hope of survival lies with the most unlikely person—Howl, the chairman’s son. Though he promises to lead her to safety, Howl has secrets, and Sev can’t help but wonder if he knows more about her past—and her mother’s crimes—than he lets on.

But in a hostile world, trust is a luxury. Even when Sev’s life and the lives of everyone she loves may hang in the balance.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Chinese dystopian sleeping beauty adaptation.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
I think my favorite scene in the book is near the beginning: Sev, the main character is hiding from something scary with Howl, and he tells her a story about the stars in order to distract her.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
I was sitting in my kitchen, feeding my children french toast.

What’s your favorite junk food?
Kettle-cooked potato chips. With no weird flavorings!

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
A terracotta warrior themed chess set.


27 Hours by Tristina Wright
October 3, 2017 from Entangled Teen
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Rumor Mora fears two things: hellhounds too strong for him to kill, and failure. Jude Welton has two dreams: for humans to stop killing monsters, and for his strange abilities to vanish.

But in no reality should a boy raised to love monsters fall for a boy raised to kill them.

Nyx Llorca keeps two secrets: the moon speaks to her, and she’s in love with Dahlia, her best friend. Braeden Tennant wants two things: to get out from his mother’s shadow, and to unlearn Epsilon’s darkest secret.

They’ll both have to commit treason to find the truth.

During one twenty-seven-hour night, if they can’t stop the war between the colonies and the monsters from becoming a war of extinction, the things they wish for will never come true, and the things they fear will be all that’s left.

27 Hours is a sweeping, thrilling story featuring a stellar cast of queer teenagers battling to save their homes and possibly every human on Sahara as the clock ticks down to zero.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Queer teens in space.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
When Rumor and Braeden out-banter each other and bring down a massive dragon threatening their home.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
Washing dishes!

What’s your favorite junk food?
Donuts.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
A headless Cinderella doll (my kids broke it, don’t judge me)


Never Apart by Romily Bernard | Blog Tour Book Spotlight (+ Giveaway)

October 16, 2017 Blog Tour, Book Spotlight, Giveaway 3

Never Apart by Romily Bernard | Blog Tour Book Spotlight (+ Giveaway)

Never Apart by Romily Bernard | Blog Tour Book Spotlight (+ Giveaway)Never Apart by Romily Bernard
Published by Entangled Teen on October 3, 2017
Genres: Mystery, Romance, Thriller, Time Travel
Pages: 400
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How many times would you die for love?

What if you had to relive the same five days over and over?

And what if at the end of it, your boyfriend is killed…

And you have to watch. Every time.

You don’t know why you’re stuck in this nightmare.

But you do know that these are the rules you now live by:

Wake Up.

Run.

Die.

Repeat.

Now, the only way to escape this loop is to attempt something crazy. Something dangerous. Something completely unexpected. This time…you’re not going to run.

Combining heart-pounding romance and a thrilling mystery Never Apart is a stunning story you won’t soon forget.

About Romily Bernard

Romily Bernard graduated from Georgia State University with a literature degree. Since then, she’s worked as a riding instructor, cell-phone salesperson, personal assistant, horse groomer and exercise rider, accounting assistant, and, during a very dark time, customer service representative. . . . She’s also, of course, now a YA novelist. So don’t let anyone tell you a BA degree will keep you unemployed. Romily currently lives in Atlanta, Georgia. Her debut novel, Find Me, won the Golden Heart Award for YA Romance from the Romance Writers of America in 2012.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

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The Debut Dish: Lisa Rosinsky & Gwen C. Katz (+ Giveaway)

October 8, 2017 Author Interview, Debut Author Challenge, Debut Dish, Giveaway 4

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 Lisa Rosinsky (Inevitable and Only) and Gwen Katz (Among the Red Stars).


Inevitable and Only by Lisa Rosinsky
October 10, 2017 from Boyds Mills Press
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What if you suddenly found out you had a sister . . . and she took over your life?Cadie is close to her father. They are so much alike—same temperament, sense of humor, and love for the theater—and Dad always knows how to comfort her . . . until the day he announces that he has another daughter. Suddenly, Cadie has a sister, Elizabeth—a sister who is six months older than her, a sister who is about to move in with them, a sister whose very existence means that Cadie’s beloved father cheated on her mother when they were already married. What other secrets might he have? Can she still trust him? Does Cadie really know her father at all? And when Elizabeth arrives, Cadie’s worst fears come true. Elizabeth looks just like Dad; not only that, she seems all too perfect. Until she begins stealing Cadie’s place in the family and even Cadie’s one true love . . . But Elizabeth has secrets of her own. This deeply emotional coming-of-age story explores the choices you make when your family—and your life—changes overnight. Are these choices the inevitable and only ones? And will they ultimately bring your family back together or push you further apart?

Describe your book in five words or less.
Secrets, sisters, and Shakespeare.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
This is tough! I loved writing the scene where my main character, Acadia, starts falling for her co-star during auditions for her high school production of Much Ado About Nothing (though she doesn’t realize it yet). They have instant chemistry onstage while speaking Beatrice and Benedick’s lines. I’m a huge Shakespeare and theater nerd, and that scene just wrote itself!

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
Sitting outside a coffee shop on a beautiful warm day in June, about to go teach a creative writing class at Boston University. I couldn’t tell my students that same night because it was still confidential–hardest secret I’ve ever had to keep!

What’s your favorite junk food?
Berger cookies–a Baltimore specialty. It’s a thin, soft vanilla cookie hiding under a whopping helping of fudge.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
A large hyacinth plant named Helga and a tiny succulent named Sharon. Look, I get lonely when I write, and I need someone to tell all my terrible jokes to!

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Among the Red Stars by Gwen C. Katz
October 3, 2017 from HarperTeen
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World War Two has shattered Valka’s homeland of Russia, and Valka is determined to help the effort. She knows her skills as a pilot rival the best of the men, so when an all-female aviation group forms, Valka is the first to sign up.

Flying has always meant freedom and exhilaration for Valka, but dropping bombs on German soldiers from a fragile canvas biplane is no joyride. The war is taking its toll on everyone, including the boy Valka grew up with, who is fighting for his life on the front lines.

As the war intensifies and those around her fall, Valka must decide how much she is willing to risk to defend the skies she once called home.

Inspired by the true story of the airwomen the Nazis called Night Witches, Gwen C. Katz weaves a tale of strength and sacrifice, learning to fight for yourself, and the perils of a world at war.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Teen girls fly in WWII!

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
Action scenes! I love all the scenes where I got to write dogfights and “dangerous tricks in the air.”

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
Walking home from the library, which is somewhat apropos.

What’s your favorite junk food?
Candy. It’s my weakness.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
A habitrail tube.


Forbidden Love, Mythological Monsters, & a Girl with a Golden Slipper by Laura Holt | Author Guest Post (+ Giveaway)

September 28, 2017 Giveaway, Guest Post 0

Magic, Myth, & Mischief, hosted by me and Bonnie, is a month-long event that celebrates fairy tales and mythological retellings, as well as retellings of favorite classic novels and books featuring mythical beasts such as mermaids, dragons, and fae! Find the schedule of events and other information here.


Today I’m welcoming author Laura Holt to the blog to talk about the inspirations behind her Star Crossed series! Laura posted an excerpt of the first book in the series, Fathoms Below, at Bonnie’s blog a couple weeks ago, so check that out if her post piques your interest!

Forbidden Love, Mythological Monsters, and a Girl with a Golden Slipper: The 11 Tragic Love Stories, Fairy Tales, and Greek Myths that Inspired the Star Crossed Series

Thisbe and Pyramus

Why tragic love stories? Because what is more heart-rending, nail-biting, keep-you-on-the-edge-of-your-seat than the possibility of not having a happy ending? Take Thisbe and Pyramus, for example. Theirs is the story of a pair of lovers who grew up next door to one another, yet, because of a feud between their families, were unable to be together. When they ran away to elope, Zeus, king of the gods, sent a lion to trick Pyramus into thinking that Thisbe was dead so that he would kill himself and then she, upon finding him dead, would do the same. Tragic? Yes, so much so that some scholars speculate that Shakespeare based the premise of his Romeo and Juliet on this story. Speaking of Shakespeare…

Romeo and Juliet and Antony and Cleopatra

As soon as I realized I was writing a book about tragic love stories, I knew that I had to turn to the master for inspiration. Enter Romeo and Juliet and Antony and Cleopatra, two more tales in which love doesn’t turn out so sweet for our heroes and heroines. For Romeo and Juliet, it ended with a dagger and poison. For Antony and Cleopatra, a snake bite and a sword to the gut. But wait, it gets better (or worse, depending on your point of view).

Echo and Narcissus

This tale encompasses every quiet person’s unspoken fear: that the person they fall in love with will never notice them. In Echo’s case, Narcissus was too self-involved to notice her attention, and because she could only echo the things that other people said, she was unable to tell him how she felt. Instead, she got to watch him pine after himself until he wasted away. Definite devotion there, but also a little creepy, seeing as how he never knew she was watching him.

Hero and Leander

One of my favorite tales of tragic love because the lovers in it keep fighting to be together until the bitter end. The basic plot? Hero and Leander meet, fall in love, but their families don’t want them to be together, so they lock Hero in a tower on the other side of a large strait. Does Leander let that stop him? No way! He buys himself a boat and crosses the strait every night to visit his love, until he drowns, and unwilling to live without him, Hero throws herself out of the tower window onto the rocks below. Take that, fate.

Guinevere and Lancelot

Anyone who knows anything about Arthurian lore (or anyone who is a huge fan of the TV show Merlin, like me) is familiar with how Guinevere, though married to King Arthur, fell in love with Lancelot, one of the bravest knights of the round table, and brought about the ruin of Camelot. Poor Arthur. He should have known that not even the sword in the stone was powerful enough to stand against true love, but hey, points to him for trying. Never mind that he and Lancelot both died, and Guinevere had to spend the rest of her days in a nunnery.

Pelleas and Melisande

A lesser known French tale about a girl who marries a nobleman only to fall in love with his brother later and bring about the ruin of his entire household. Rife with wishing wells, forest trysts under the cover of darkness, sword fights, and a line that inspired one of my favorite quotes from the Star Crossed series: “Only I know that it will be the turn of the poor little child soon.”

Paris of Troy and Helen of Sparta and Tristan and Isolde

Who said that you could write a book series about tragic love stories and not include Paris and Helen and Tristan and Isolde? Not me! From the gates of Troy to the shores of Cornwall, here are two women who know what it means to give up everything for the man you love. Too bad they both lose them in the end.

Cinderella and Cupid and Psyche

Did you know that there are more than a dozen different versions of Cinderella in existence? It is arguably the most popular fairy tale ever written, and also one of the most well-known. So when I set out to write the Star Crossed series as a fairy tale retelling of Cinderella, I wanted to do it in a way that was different from all the other versions and retellings that are already out there. Step one: make it dark. Everyone thinks of Cinderella as a pretty blonde in glass slippers surrounded by helpful blue birds and singing mice. But for those who aren’t familiar with the Grimm fairy tale, the story wasn’t always so lighthearted. There were slippers filled with blood, self-inflicted dismemberment, and birds that peck your eyes out. Hence, the tragic love stories and curses. Add a few monsters to the mix (a sea monster here, a gorgon there), and voila! Step two: tie it in with Greek mythology. Why? Because the roots of most fairy tales can be found in Greek mythology, including Cinderella, who’s original version was about Rhodopis, a Greek girl who was taken to Egypt to be a slave until she caught the eye of the pharaoh and was made his wife. And who better to play fairy godmother (or in this case, godfather) to a Greek Cinderella but Cupid, god of Love? And if the godfather turned out to be the prince charming in disguise, well, that’s just one of life’s interesting little twists. This, of course, is where the myth of Cupid and Psyche comes in, with a few of my own personal touches, like stolen slippers, reincarnation, and volcanic eruptions. The rest, as they say, is history. Or, as Hermes would say: “Stories are more than just words written on paper. They are pieces of our soul.” But will there be a happy ending for our Sinderella and the other characters in the Star Crossed series? Or will they all end as tragic as the rest? That, readers, is up to you to find out.


Fathoms Below by Laura Holt
Series: Star Crossed Series #1
Published by The Book Patch on November 30, 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Retellings
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Cather Stevens doesn’t love.

Not now, not ever. She has spent her entire life watching love ruin her mother, her aunts, her cousins, her grandmother, and she made a vow a long time ago that she would never let that happen to her. But when she meets a winged boy named Hermes who tells her that she is the key to ending the star crossed curse that has plagued the women in her family for centuries, she will have to redefine everything she knows about love, life, and herself.

With more than just her own heart on the line, she must find the location of her great-great grandmother’s diary. It was hidden long ago, fathoms below her town, and holds the answers to all of her questions, especially one: are the fairy tales and Greek myths that she grew up hearing actually fiction like she was taught to believe, or are they something more…something real?


About Laura Holt

Laura Holt is the author of Fathoms Below and Fathoms Above. She is from a small Georgia town, where she lives with her daughter. Growing up as the oldest of three sisters, Laura used her imagination to make up stories as a way to escape from the sometimes crazy-making monotony of everyday life. As she got older, her love of stories grew into a love of books, especially fantasy, and eventually, she wrote her own stories down as well. When Laura isn’t busy writing or thinking up a new way to promote the Star Crossed series, she can be found curled up on the couch reading, working out, or spending time with her daughter. A few of their favorite pastimes include watching shows like Once Upon a Time, shopping, and going treasure hunting. Laura is also active in the children’s ministry at her local church, is addicted to Pinterest, loves anything chocolate (as long as it doesn’t have soy in it), and is always looking for a new way to get her daily adrenaline fix. You can follow Laura on Instagram and Twitter at @authorlauraholt.

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