Posts Categorized: Giveaway

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: 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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Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh, My! by Merrie Destefano | Author Guest Post (+ Lost Girls Giveaway)

January 4, 2017 Giveaway, Guest Post 8

Today I’m welcoming Merrie Destefano, author of Lost Girls, to the blog to talk a little about her experience writing her book! I am SUPER excited to read Merrie’s new book and plan to real soon. Read more about Merrie and her book after her post, plus enter to win a copy of Lost Girls for yourself!


Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh, My!
by Merrie Destefano

Sometimes the process of writing is like being knee-deep in The Wizard of Oz. Have you ever seen that movie? It’s always been one of my favorites. In fact, when I was five-years-old, I went though this period where I would only answer to the name of Glinda. (Remember her? The good witch?) I also had an imaginary friend who was a bubble—like that crazy, magic bubble Glinda traveled in.

But writing is nothing like the character of Glinda. That girl knew what she was doing. She had All The Power. If she was writing, she’d just snap her fingers and, POW, a story would appear. It would be perfect.

No, writing is more like being the character of Dorothy. Lost, confused, angry, lonely, worried, and yet somehow being on a Very Important Mission the whole time.

And like Dorothy, there might be a point that you realize the other characters surrounding you are an awful lot like people you really know. You don’t set out to do that. It just kind of happens.

Like Dylan McCarthy in Lost Girls.

At first, I was just adding a love interest for my main character. But before I knew it, Dylan started wearing a skin that look a LOT like a Real Life Boy I had crushed on in seventh grade. My real-life crush sat next to me in English. (Swoon.) He. Was. Adorable. And he wrote poetry that could stop your heart. And then start it thundering again.

I swear, even our teacher had a crush on that boy.

And yes, I did drop my pencil once and he reached down to pick it up. But I was too embarrassed to let him do that. I dove faster than I thought I could move and snatched it up from the floor before he could get it.

I may have foiled my own chance at romance.

Maybe. Maybe he might have. In another world and in another universe, maybe, just maybe he might have picked up that blasted pencil and given me a smile. Just like Dylan did with Rachel. Maybe it could have been the beginning of something wonderful.

Maybe.

Meanwhile, I keep writing stories where maybe actually becomes true. That’s the best way for any story to end.

Maybe Dorothy will get to go home again…

Change that.

Dorothy goes home and all is well. She even gets to keep her little dog.


Lost Girls by Merrie Destefano
January 3, 2017 from Entangled Teen
Genres: YA contemporary, YA psychological thriller, YA dark contemporary
Add to Goodreads | Amazon

Yesterday, Rachel went to sleep listening to Taylor Swift, curled up in her grammy’s quilt, worrying about geometry. Today, she woke up in a ditch, bloodied, bruised, and missing a year of her life.

She doesn’t recognize the person she’s become: she’s popular. She wears nothing but black.

Black to cover the blood.

And she can fight.

Tell no one.

She’s not the only girl to go missing within the last year…but she’s the only girl to come back. She desperately wants to unravel what happened to her, to try and recover the rest of the Lost Girls.

But the more she discovers, the more her memories return. And as much as her new life scares her, it calls to her. Seductively. The good girl gone bad, sex, drugs, and raves, and something darker…something she still craves—the rush of the fight, the thrill of the win—something she can’t resist, that might still get her killed…

The only rule is: There are no rules.


About Merrie Destefano

Born in the Midwest, magazine editor Merrie Destefano currently lives in Southern California with her husband, two German shepherds, a Siamese cat, and the occasional wandering possum. Her favorite hobbies are reading speculative fiction and watching old Star Trek episodes, and her incurable addiction is writing. She loves to camp in the mountains, walk on the beach, watch old movies, and listen to alternative music—although rarely all at the same time.

Website | Blog | Tumblr | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Goodreads

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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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Five Amazing Gift Ideas for Writers | Book Blogger Guest Post (+ Giveaway)

December 14, 2016 Bookish Finds, Giveaway, Guest Post 12

I am beyond excited to have Bonnie from A Backwards Story on the blog today to present her ideas for writer gifts. It’s easy to buy bookworms presents: Barnes & Noble or Amazon gift cards, pretty copies of books they love, accessories with books on them, items with book/reading quotes on them… etc. But what do you get a writer? Enter Bonnie! She has some wonderful ideas for you, and I’m so excited to share them with you.


Gift Ideas for Writers
By Bonnie at A Backwards Story

Are you looking for the perfect gift for a writer in your life?

As a fellow writer, I know we aren’t an easy bunch to shop for! We ask for strange things like our favorite brand of pen or correction pencil (or for us old-fashioned hand-writers in the bunch, even fun journals/notebooks!), and our friends and family stare at us like we’re crazy because, really, who wants pencils for Christmas?

THIS GIRL, for one!

But there are a lot of other cool gift ideas that are fun, affordable, and surprising!

Here are five gift ideas for writers–and as an extra special bonus, there’s a discount code for one of the gifts from Storiarts AND a chance to win another gift from Evie Seo!

Keep reading to hear more!!!

 

1. Idea Books

I found the two of these last year and thought they were the coolest, especially the BRIGHT IDEAS one because it’s COLOR CODED. Think of it like an already-prepped Bullet Journal, but easier to get to if you don’t color in tabs for yourself because you can just flip to the color for the the section you want. There are sections for hot ideas, wisps of dreamy memories, and more!

And the other one is just fun because, really, ideas can be evil, too. I mean, some authors ENJOY killing their darlings, right!? Well, okay, and it just helps you organize your ideas that you jot down on the train as you commute to work. Was it a good idea? A bad one? Not sure yet? There’s a spot to comment at the bottom!!)

(BRIGHT IDEAS: ISBN 978-1-4521-3914-2)
(EVIL SCHEMES: ISBN 8-25703-12160-5)

 

2. Writing Gloves

I don’t know about anyone else, but my hands get COLD when I’m writing in the winter. And cramp up. Since I write by hand, that’s not good at all! Thankfully, if I’m on my computer, I get a little bit of computer heat if I’m plugged in. But what about when I’m not?

I’m obsessed with these gloves by Storiarts and really want to pick up a pair for myself. (I’m torn between the Alice in Wonderland pair and the Peter Pan pair and just can’t make up my mind! I meant to ask for them for Christmas this year, but forgot…oops!!)

I have a lot of fingerless gloves, but the knit ones so easily found at stores can be scratchy, and they usually don’t have the thumb cut out.

What attracts me to the Storiarts Gloves is the way they’re more cottonish and will feel like a regular article of clothing. PLUS the thumbs are cut out. AND they have bookish references! #winwin

Ready to see these gloves in action?

From text to cool designs such as white rabbits and pixies, there’s always something to stare at while you’re wearing these gloves!

The gloves retail at $26, BUT Storiarts is so fantastic, that they’re giving out a special discount for our readers!!!

If you want these gloves–for yourself or a friend–
add discount code

ThatArtsyReaderGirl

(it’s not case sensitive!) to get 10% off your purchase!

This code is valid once per customer through the month of December!

If you order by December 19th, you’re guaranteed to have US Delivery in time for Christmas/Chanukah!

 

3. Story Cubes

Turn writing into a game! Especially when Writer’s Block is running rampant.

I saw Rory’s Story Cubes at the store recently, and thought they were adorable! Not to mention fun. And there are different packs, so whether you’re writing a novel about traveling to a foreign country or having a daring adventure, there’s something for every writer.

The pair I own, however, is wooden, and just has an old-fashioned, quaint, whimsical feel that I love as a fantasy writer, the Magic and Fairy-Tale Dice. You can special order it locally from stores such as Barnes and Noble, or buy it online from places such as Amazon (Though if you can support a local business and keep them around, that’s always personally my first go-to! The ISBN is 978-1856699198). My copy came from a Japanese bookstore in New York City called Kinokuniya.

What’s cool about this game is the fact that it’s not JUST a game. It can also be used as a tool for writers. Having writer’s block or looking for a cool element to include in the WIP you’re outlining? Throw some dice, invent a few words, and see where you wind up!

Additionally, this is a fun game to play with your friends, or even with kids, and it will never be the same story twice.

The game’s tagline is:

Revive the art of storytelling using these nine beautifully illustrated wooden dice to create the most imaginative, funny, and bizarre stories. This is the perfect family game that will stimulate the imaginations of children and adults alike. Ideal for playing by a log fire.

Here’s an old video review I did featuring the Magic and Fairy-Tale Dice:

These dice double as a game that can be played with friends and family members. Plus, they’re small and portable, and great to bring along on long car rides!

 

4. Writers actually DO like pens and notebooks!
There is no such thing as “too many!”

I’ve always LOVED getting notebooks and pens as gifts. I often see Kooky pens at A.C. Moore’s and Hallmark, and sometimes buy them even now. Pens with cute designs or pencils with interesting erasers are unique and fun, too. I always save the most interesting writing instruments for special occasions. When I was younger, I collected sets of Lisa Frank pens and wrote with them most frequently. (Does Lisa Frank even still exist? IDK!)

Fun notebooks with cute designs are inspirational, too. I’d rather pick up something with a design over a plain cover notebook any day, especially if it’s reminiscent of the project I’m working on.

Now, I know a lot of writers type and don’t write by hand, but it doesn’t mean they don’t still need to jot down ideas from time to time! Especially small, compact notebooks that fit into a purse. Or what if they’re at work and don’t want to whip out their computer at lunch? My one co-worker (Who just won NaNoWriMo 2016!!!) writes in her notebook every day at lunch. To her, every free minute is a writing minute!

 

5. Pen and Pencil Holders

Where are you going to put all those cute, fancy pens? Whether you’re a writer or a student, you’re going to want a cute case, right?

Until recently, I had no clue of where to go to find a cute case. I always looked during Back to School, but everything was plain or too kiddie.

Luckily, I was gifted a pouch by a publisher, and another by my awesome #OTSPSecretSister:

(I have no clue where my Sister got that case, but see all those zippers? It has THREE compartments to hold stuff. It’s amazing and my favorite thing ever!!!)

But not every writer can have a great pouch just fall into their laps.

That’s where great online shops such as Etsy and RedBubble come into play! My favorite shop belongs to Evie Seo, whose mugs, tote bags, and other book-themed offerings have made social media waves. If you’ve ever been to a big bookish event such as YALL or BookCon, you’ve probably seen at least one person sporting Evie’s designs!

Evie’s Studio Pouches make the PERFECT writing utensil bags for writers! (They also make great cosmetic bags!)

They come in Medium and Large sizes. The medium is a perfectly sized pencil pouch, while the larger one can also be a book sleeve in addition to all the utensils it can fit inside!

Here are some great examples of these stylish bags at work:

Can you see why Evie’s designs are my favorites!?

I love that she can be very fairy tale-ish and full of whimsy, or super bookish with quotes from favorite novels! There’s definitely something for everyone in her shop!

How about a GIVEAWAY!?

To make this holiday season even better for the writer in your life (or yourself, if you’re a writer!!), Evie Seo has graciously offered up a Studio Pouch with a design of choice to one lucky writer!!!!

Happy Holidays, Bookworms!

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Christmas In What You Always Wanted by Kristin Rae | Bonus Scene (+ Giveaway)

December 12, 2016 Giveaway, Guest Post 1

I am SOOOO excited to have Kristin Rae here on the blog today! Guys, I love Kristin. Her debut, Wish You Were Italian, is one of my favorite books ever and her sophomore novel, What You Always Wanted is super adorable too!

Today Kristin is presenting this exclusive Christmas bonus scene of What You Always Wanted, and it’s pretty perfect. It’s pretty much as perfect as the Wish You Were Italian bonus scene she wrote for my blog last year. Can you tell I can’t get enough of her novels? I always want more! Thank you so much, Kristin, for writing this sweet scene for my blog!


What You Always Wanted Bonus Scene
by Kristin Rae


“So … what first?” I ask, sinking into the couch with my legs folded under me.
After closing the last blackout curtain so there’s no glare on the screen from the setting sun, Jesse plops down next to me and takes my hand in his. “How about this?”

I rub the soft, squishy skin between his thumb and pointer finger, leaning toward him until our shoulders touch but stopping short of resting my head against him. Yeah, I know we danced most of the day at the playhouse—by “dancing,” I mean “kissing”—but being able to snuggle against him on a couch in the dark when I was only dreaming about the possibility twenty-four hours ago … it’s not totally computing.

“This is nice,” I say, and he makes a noise of agreement as he settles deeper into the back cushion. “But I guess I mostly meant which movie do you want to watch?” With one hand, I pull my bag from the floor and dump the movie selection across our laps.

“It’s a Wonderful Life? The Bishop’s Wife? Are these Christmas movies?” he asks with an implied groan, which I ignore.

“Yes! Just a few of my favorites.” I let go of his hand and sort the DVDs. “I was thinking we could start with White Christmas because there’s dancing, and one of the characters does this crazy thing where she taps her toe at light speed, and I want you to show me if that’s even physically possible, then we could balance out the dancing after that with The Shop Around the Corner—”

“Hold on.” He stops me with a finger to my lips, and a little chill travels down to my toes. “Why did you ask what I wanted to watch if you had everything planned out through—” He counts the movies. “—tomorrow morning?”

I laugh, tugging a throw blanket over my legs to warm my nerves. “Well, I wasn’t expecting to watch all of them in one go.”

“Maddie. Christmas is over. It’s New Year’s Day. Radio stations have stopped playing holiday music. We’ve all moved on.” He looks me in the eye with a straight face. “You can too.”

My mouth drops open in exaggerated surprise, but it turns into a smile when he laughs. “The season needs to last loooongerrrr,” I say. “It has the best movies, the best music, best weather. And besides, we didn’t really get to experience it, like … I mean …”

“Like boyfriend and girlfriend, you mean?” He’s not laughing anymore, but a corner of his mouth stays up in a sly-looking half-smile.

I mirror him. “Maybe.”

“Best weather?” he asks, like he just registered everything else I said. “How ya figure?”

“Cold, sometimes rainy or windy, chance of snow. It just feels … Christmassy, you know?”

“If by chance of snow, you mean point zero zero zero zero two percent chance, then I totally know what you’re talking about.” He pulls the blanket so it covers his legs too and acts like he’s nestling against me for warmth. “So Christmassy.”

I go ahead and lean my head on his as we continue to hold hands under the blanket. Because I can. I smile to myself and listen to us breathe, memorize the feel of his hand in mine.

“All I’m asking is for one more day, Jesse,” I plead as playfully as possible so it doesn’t sound like begging. “One day with you where it still feels like there’s some Christmas magic leftover.”

“Okay. As your boyfriend, I will do this for you. The holiday season has been extended one more day.”

I sit up to study his face. He just called himself my boyfriend. And it didn’t freak him out. And it didn’t freak me out.

“You sure? Because as your girlfriend, I don’t want you to be completely miserable with the first movie we watch together as an official couple.”

“I can’t promise I won’t fall asleep at some point, but I can promise I’ll be the opposite of miserable as long as I can do this.” He tightens his grip on our interlaced fingers, indicating he’s content just to be here with me, holding hands. “Hang on. I’ll be right back.”

He disappears into the hall, and I hear him clomp down the stairs, then back up a minute later. “Close your eyes,” he calls from outside the room. “Okay?”

“They’re closed.”

“Keep ‘em shut.” He makes some racket up near the TV, and for a second I think he might be switching movie choices on me. Like I’d let him get away with that.

It gets brighter on the other side of my eyelids, and I scrunch my eyebrows together. Not because it’s that bright, but because I’m so confused by what he could be doing.

“Okay. Open.”

He stands proudly in front of the TV, which he’s draped with a string of colored Christmas lights. They’re covering part of the screen, but I don’t care. He’s so adorably sweet, I almost can’t stand it.

I hop up off the couch, and before wrapping my arms around him, I lean in and give the tiny round scar on his cheek a quick kiss. Merry Christmas to me.

Have you read What You Always Wanted?
You really should because how cute are Maddie and Jesse?

What You Always Wanted by Kristin Rae
Series: If Only… #8
Published by Bloomsbury Children’s on March 29, 2016
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Add to Goodreads | Amazon

If only…he was the boy she’s been dreaming of.

Theatre girl Maddie Brooks has always had high standards for guys. But she has yet to find one who can live up to the classic Hollywood heartthrobs, especially the dreamy song-and-dance man Gene Kelly. When Maddie begins to carpool with Jesse Morales, her new neighbor and star pitcher of the baseball team, she’s struck by his wit, good looks, and love for his family—but a guy so into sports is definitely not her style. Then Maddie discovers that Jesse was raised as a dancer and still practices in the community theatre’s dance studio to keep in shape. Perhaps her perfect dream guy exists after all! But when it becomes clear that baseball—not dance—is Jesse’s passion, can Maddie find a way to let her dream guy go and appreciate the charms of the amazing guy in front of her?

This fun, high school theatre romance in the If Only line is for anyone who has ever wished for that impossibly perfect guy.


About Kristin Rae

Lover of books, music, chocolate, and crafty things. My young adult contemporary novels WISH YOU WERE ITALIAN, and WHAT YOU ALWAYS WANTED are out now, from Bloomsbury. Represented by Marietta Zacker of the Gallt & Zacker Literary Agency.

Website | Twitter

 

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

December 4, 2016 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?

We interrupt A Bookish Little Christmas to give you some more recommendations for the last few reading weeks of 2016! This issue of The Debut Dish features Jenny Moyer (Flashfall), Gordon Jack (The Boomerang Effect), Sara Ella (Unblemished), and Sarah Everett (Everyone We’ve Been).


Flashfall by Jenny Moyer
November 15, 2016 from Henry Holt & C. BFYR
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

Orion is a Subpar, expected to mine the tunnels of Outpost Five, near the deadly flash curtain. For generations, her people have chased cirium—the only element that can shield humanity from the curtain’s radioactive particles. She and her caving partner, Dram work the most treacherous tunnel, fighting past flash bats and tunnel gulls, in hopes of mining enough cirium to earn their way into the protected city.

But when newcomers arrive at Outpost Five, Orion uncovers disturbing revelations that make her question everything she thought she knew about life on both sides of the cirium shield. As conditions at the outpost grow increasingly dangerous, it’s up to Orion to forge a way past the flashfall, beyond all boundaries, beyond the world as she knows it.

Describe your book in five words or less.
mining, kissing, suspenseful, magic, adventure

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
My favorite scene in FLASHFALL has kissing (LOL), and it occurs at a time when my characters have hit rock bottom and it seems all hope is lost. They are exiled to a terrifying wasteland where they are forced to mine or die, their only refuge is about to expire, and enemies are waiting for them on the other side of their sanctuary. Orion and Dram manage to find the light in their darkest moment, and it fuels their courage to fight against the odds.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
My kitchen, which was convenient because there was champagne close by. I did a lot of happy dancing in there that afternoon!

What’s your favorite junk food?
Reese’s peanut butter cups, McDonald’s french fries, fried pickles, donuts, all the cake ever . . .

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
A stuffed animal bat one of my kids gave me in honor of the flash bats in FLASHFALL. It also reminds me of the bats we encountered when exploring caves for book research.


The Boomerang Effect by Gordon Jack
November 8, 2016 from HarperTEEN
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

It all started with a harmless prank. But now high school junior (and resident stoner) Lawrence Barry is one step away from reform school unless he participates in a mentorship program. His mentee? Spencer Knudsen, a Norwegian exchange student with Spock-like intelligence but the social skills of the periodic table.

Then disaster strikes—Homecoming week. When someone dressed as the school Viking mascot starts destroying the fairy tale–inspired floats, all suspicion falls on Lawrence. Add to the mix a demon Goth girl named Zoe, a Renaissance LARPing group, an overzealous yearbook editor, and three vindictive chickens, and Lawrence soon realizes that his situation may be a little out of control. But Spencer seems to have some answers. In fact, Spencer may be the one friend Lawrence never knew he needed.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Savant Saves Stoner From Self-destruction

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
My favorite scene in the book is when Lawrence (the stoner) and Audrey (his love interest) battle a group of cosplaying vampires after LARPing in the park.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
At school (I’m a high school librarian).

What’s your favorite junk food?
Junior mints.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
It’s either my William Shakespeare finger puppet or my squirrel underpants.

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Unblemished by Sara Ella
October 11, 2016 from Thomas Nelson/Harper Collins
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

Eliyana has always recoiled from her own reflection in the mirror. But what if that were only one Reflection—one world? What if another world existed where her blemish could become her strength?

Eliyana is used to the shadows. With a hideous birthmark covering half her face, she just hopes to graduate high school unscathed. That is, until Joshua hops a fence and changes her perspective. No one, aside from her mother, has ever treated her as normal. Maybe even beautiful. Because of Joshua, Eliyana finally begins to believe she could be loved.

But one night her mother doesn’t come home, and that’s when everything gets weird.

Now Joshua is her new, and rather reluctant, legal Guardian. Add a hooded stalker and a Central Park battle to the mix and you’ve gone from weird to otherworldly.

Eliyana soon finds herself in a world much larger and more complicated than she’s ever known. A world enslaved by a powerful and vile man. And Eliyana holds the answer to defeating him. How can an ordinary girl, a blemished girl, become a savior when she can’t even save herself?

Describe your book in five words or less.
Flaws can become strengths.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
I love the scene when the main character Eliyana is nearly kidnapped by this rotten dude. She’s about to be taken to a villain but at the last minute this guy she despises shows up and saves her.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
I was in my kitchen. In my pajamas. Drinking coffee. I believe my agent’s exact words were “How would you feel about Thomas Nelson publishing your next three books?” Squeeeee!!!!!!

What’s your favorite junk food?
Um, chicken fingers. Always chicken fingers.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
Is it odd my desk is my couch? I guess the oddest thing there is my 4-year-old’s sock.

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Everyone We’ve Been by Sarah Everett
October 4, 2016 from Knopf Books for Young Readers
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

Addison Sullivan has been in an accident. In its aftermath, she has memory lapses and starts talking to a boy that no one else can see. It gets so bad that she’s worried she’s going crazy.

Addie takes drastic measures to fill in the blanks and visits a shadowy medical facility that promises to “help with your memory.” But at the clinic, Addie unwittingly discovers it is not her first visit. And when she presses, she finds out that she had certain memories erased. She had a boy erased.

But why? Who was that boy, and what happened that was too devastating to live with? And even if she gets the answers she’s looking for, will she ever be able to feel like a whole person again?

Describe your book in five words or less.
Girl sees boy others can’t.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
There’s a scene where two characters in the book spend a day doing Completely Mundane Things with Unwarranted Enthusiasm. It was so much fun to write!

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
I was still a student at that time, so I was in class spacing out and refreshing my inbox a million times. They say a watched pot never boils, right? Well, a watched inbox NEVER has that beautiful (1). Except that Wednesday it did. An email from my agent popped up with good news and I spent the rest of the lecture internally freaking out and not being able to tell anyone. Okay, maybe I did stealthily send five or six all-caps texts.

What’s your favorite junk food?
The last year or so I’ve gotten addicted to Starbucks caramel frappuccinos.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
A giant tennis ball with dozens of autographs.

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The Debut Dish: November 2016, Issue #1 (+ Giveaway)

November 20, 2016 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 Jill MacKenzie (Spin the Sky), Kara Bietz (Until I Break), Janet McNally (Girls In the Moon), and Tara Sim (Timekeeper).


Spin the Sky by Jill MacKenzie
November 1, 2016 from Sky Pony Press
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Magnolia Woodson wants nothing more than to get her and her sister, Rose, out of the pitifully small, clamming-obsessed Oregon town that hates them—she just doesn’t know how. Forced to put up with the snide comments and hateful looks the townspeople throw at them, Mags thinks she’s destined to pay for the horrible, awful thing her mom did—and that she’s left her and Rose to deal with—until the day she dies.

But when a nationwide televised dance competition posts tryouts in nearby Portland, Mags’s best friend, George, says they have to go and audition. Not only have they spent the past fourteen years of their lives dancing side-by-side, dreaming of a day just like this, but also it could be Mags’s chance of a lifetime—a chance to win the grand-prize money and get her and Rose out of Summerland, a chance to do the thing she loves most with everyone watching, a chance to show the town that she’s not—and has never been—a “no-good Woodson girl,” like her mother. But will the competition prove too steep? And will Mags be able to retain her friendship with George as they go head-to-head in tryouts? Mags will have to learn that following her dreams may mean changing her life forever.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Dancing. Reality TV. Betrayal. Heartbreak.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
I think my favorite scene in my book is the final scene. It makes me happy. It makes me cry, too. Mags on her beach and Rose and clamming and the promise of dance in her future and the possibility of forever goodbyes and then George, always George, by her side.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
At home. At my desk. Writing something new. :)

What’s your favorite junk food?
Hershey’s Kisses. I eat about twenty bags per book. That sounds disgusting, I know, but if you figure it takes me about a year to write one, then it seems less revolting (I hope.)

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
Oddest thing. Hmm. Three hair ties? Why anyone would need three on their desk, I’ll never know. The CUTEST thing on my desk right now, however, is my six-week old kitten, Jasper. If only you could see his photo. *Swoon.*


Until I Break by Kara Bietz
November 1, 2016 from Albert Whitman & Company
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Two boys: One, a star athlete and top student with a deep-seated need to prove himself. The other, a chip-on-his-shoulder quarterback who will never settle for second best. When gunshots echo through the halls of Broadmeadow High School, whose finger is on the trigger?

A year before the shooting, Sam North has a bright future as a well as a problem that nobody else seems to see—Ace Quinn, his neighbor and teammate. For years, Ace has been bullying and harassing Sam, yet he’s managed to deftly conceal his actions and threats from the rest of the world. As Ace’s secret rage intensifies, Sam becomes more desperate to stop him. But how far will he go? And what if Ace takes his threats even farther?

Describe your book in five words or less.
Bullies and bad decisions.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
My favorite scene in Until I Break is during a big basketball game. Writing through a very active scene like that was a challenge, but it was so much fun!

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
I was at work in the guidance counselor’s office of a high school. It was after the school day had ended, thank goodness. My agent called to give me the good news and I danced around and around the office with my coworkers. We had a mini celebration!

What’s your favorite junk food?
Hands down, Doritos. Not the fancy flavors, either…I like the plain, old school nacho cheese kind.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
It’s a toss-up between my Edgar Allen Poe action figure (complete with raven!) or the Hufflepuff-colored yarn and knitting needles I bought today.

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Girls In the Moon by Janet McNally
November 29, 2016 from HarperTEEN
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An exquisitely told, authentic YA debut about family secrets, the shadow of fame, and finding your own way.

Everyone in Phoebe Ferris’s life tells a different version of the truth. Her mother, Meg, ex–rock star and professional question evader, shares only the end of the story—the post-fame calm that Phoebe’s always known. Her sister, Luna, indie-rock darling of Brooklyn, preaches a stormy truth of her own making, selectively ignoring the facts she doesn’t like. And her father, Kieran, the cofounder of Meg’s beloved band, hasn’t said anything at all since he stopped calling three years ago.

But Phoebe, a budding poet in search of an identity to call her own, is tired of half-truths and vague explanations. When she visits Luna in New York, she’s determined to find out how she fits in to this family of storytellers, and to maybe even continue her own tale—the one with the musician boy she’s been secretly writing for months. Told in alternating chapters, Phoebe’s first adventure flows as the story of Meg and Kieran’s romance ebbs, leaving behind only a time-worn, precious pearl of truth about her family’s past—and leaving Phoebe to take a leap into her own unknown future.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Sisters, secrets, rock and roll.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
I have several favorites, but some of them are spoilers, so I’ll choose one that doesn’t reveal much of the plot. Phoebe is in a club watching her older sister Luna sing with her band, and she’s able to see her sister the way the rest of the world does: as beautiful, talented, a little bit magical. Later Phoebe watches her father sing on a different stage and experiences that same magic, plus the feeling that, because he’s famous, he belongs to so many other people almost as much as he does to her.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
During one part of the process, I remember that I was visiting my great aunt Rosemary, who had just turned one hundred. She can’t see well enough to read now, which makes me really sad, but she just tore through books when she was younger. She’s always loved stories. It was fun to tell her that I was going to have a novel published. She was excited.

What’s your favorite junk food?
Dark chocolate. It’s such a necessary part of my day it’s like a vitamin. Though maybe it doesn’t even count as junk food because studies have shown the benefits of dark chocolate. Or maybe I’m delusional.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
I have a standing desk, and it’s cluttered: orchids, stacks of books, expensive headphones I got for free. The strangest thing right now is probably a small stuffed sheep that someone brought me from Ireland when I was a baby. It’s missing an eye, but I still like it.


Timkeeper by Tara Sim
November 8, 2016 from Sky Pony Press
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Two o’clock was missing.

In an alternate Victorian world controlled by clock towers, a damaged clock can fracture time—and a destroyed one can stop it completely.

It’s a truth that seventeen-year-old clock mechanic Danny Hart knows all too well; his father has been trapped in a Stopped town east of London for three years. Though Danny is a prodigy who can repair not only clockwork, but the very fabric of time, his fixation with staging a rescue is quickly becoming a concern to his superiors.

And so they assign him to Enfield, a town where the tower seems to be forever plagued with problems. Danny’s new apprentice both annoys and intrigues him, and though the boy is eager to work, he maintains a secretive distance. Danny soon discovers why: he is the tower’s clock spirit, a mythical being that oversees Enfield’s time. Though the boys are drawn together by their loneliness, Danny knows falling in love with a clock spirit is forbidden, and means risking everything he’s fought to achieve.

But when a series of bombings at nearby towers threaten to Stop more cities, Danny must race to prevent Enfield from becoming the next target or he’ll not only lose his father, but the boy he loves, forever.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Time, boys, clocks, magic, London.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
My favorite scene is when my main character, Danny, learns something shocking about his strange clock mechanic apprentice. It was such a fun scene to write, mostly because I was laughing at Danny’s reaction, and it tilts that particular character relationship in a new direction. I still grin when I go back and read it.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
I’d just sat down to check my email when I saw that we had an offer for the trilogy. It was an utterly surreal moment. I didn’t even jump up and down like I thought I would–I just sat there with my mouth open for a long time! But it seemed fitting to be told my book would be published while I was sitting in the exact location where I had written it.

What’s your favorite junk food?
Pizza rolls! And candy.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
A small clock cog.


Heather Graham | 2017 Apollycon Author Spotlight Tour (+ Giveaway)

November 14, 2016 Blog Tour, Giveaway 0

apollyconblogtour

 

Woohoo! Today I get to spotlight the amazing Heather Graham, who will be joining us at Apollycon in Orlando next year! Heather has a TON of amazing sounding romance and romantic suspense novels, several of which are on my TBR, so I’m excited to introduce you to her today! Take a look at a few of her books I’m excited to read (please keep in mind that I have Christmas on the brain) and get to know Heather a little better!


Haunted Destiny by Heather Graham
Krewe of Hunters #18
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Between the evil and the deep blue sea… 

A historic cruise ship, a haunted ship, the Celtic American Line’s Destiny, sets sail from the Port of New Orleans—with a killer on board. He’s known as the Archangel Killer because of the way he displays his victims in churches. And how he places a different saint’s medallion on each body. No one knows exactly who he is or why he’s doing this.

Jackson Crow—head of the FBI’s Krewe of Hunters, a special unit of paranormal investigators—is assigned to the case, along with local agent Jude McCoy. Then Alexi Cromwell, who works in the ship’s piano bar, is drawn into the situation when a victim’s ghost appears to her—and to Jude. She and Jude share an attraction, and not just because of their mutual talent.

There are many suspects, but one by one they’re ruled out… Or are they? In the end, Jude and Alexi have to rely on each other to catch the killer and escape his evil plans for Alexi.

I don’t usually gravitate towards paranormal stuff… and I haven’t read any of the other books in this series, but I LOVE books that take place on cruise ships so I’m all over this!

The Last Noel by Heather Graham
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It’s Christmas Eve, and all is neither calm nor bright

With a storm paralyzing New England, the O’Boyle household becomes prey to a pair of brutal escaped killers desperate to find refuge.

Skyler O’Boyle is convinced the only way they can live through the night is by playing a daring psychological game to throw the convicts off their guard. Threatened by a pair of Smith & Wessons, she has to pray that the rest of her family will play along, buying them time. Her one hope for rescue is that the men are unaware that her daughter, Kat, has escaped into the blizzard. But as the wind and snow continue to rage with all the vehemence of a maddened banshee, her prayers that Kat can somehow find help seem fragile indeed.

When Kat stumbles on a third felon, half-frozen and delirious, her shock deepens, because she recognizes Craig Devon immediately. What is the onetime love of her life doing back in town-and in such company? With the threat of death hanging over the O’Boyles, Craig is desperate to unload a vital secret that could change their destiny. But can he trust Kat with the truth? Because one false move and everything he’s sacrificed will shatter-and this could be everyone’s final Christmas alive.

I read a LOT of Christmas novels, but most are straight up romance. I love the sound of a Christmas thriller!

The Island by Heather Graham
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On a weekend vacation Beth Anderson is unnerved when a stroll on the beach reveals what appears to be a skull. As a stranger approaches, Beth panics and covers the evidence. But when she later returns to the beach, the skull is gone.

Determined to find solid evidence to bring to the police, Beth digs deeper into the mystery of the skull–and everywhere she goes, Keith Henson, the stranger from the beach, seems to appear. He claims to be keeping an eye on her safety, but Beth senses other motives. Then a body washes ashore, and Beth begins to think she needs more help than she bargained for. Because investigating is a dangerous game, and someone wants to stop Beth from playing.

I really have a thing for island stories… lol.


About Heather Graham

New York Times and USA Today best-selling author Heather Graham majored in theater arts at the University of South Florida. After a stint of several years in dinner theater, back-up vocals, and bartending, she stayed home after the birth of her third child and began to write, working on short horror stories and romances. After some trial and error, she sold her first book, WHEN NEXT WE LOVE, in 1982 and since then, she has written over one hundred novels and novellas including category, romantic suspense, historical romance, vampire fiction, time travel, occult, and Christmas holiday fare. She wrote the launch books for the Dell’s Ecstasy Supreme line, Silhouette’s Shadows, and for Harlequin’s mainstream fiction imprint, Mira Books.

Heather was a founding member of the Florida Romance Writers chapter of RWA and, since 1999, has hosted the Romantic Times Vampire Ball, with all revenues going directly to children’s charity. She is pleased to have been published in approximately twenty languages, and to have been honored with awards from Waldenbooks. B. Dalton, Georgia Romance Writers, Affaire de Coeur, Romantic Times, and more. She has had books selected for the Doubleday Book Club and the Literary Guild, and has been quoted, interviewed, or featured in such publications as The Nation, Redbook, People, and USA Today and appeared on many newscasts including local television and Entertainment Tonight.

Heather loves travel and anything have to do with the water, and is a certified scuba diver. Married since high school graduation and the mother of five, her greatest love in life remains her family, but she also believes her career has been an incredible gift, and she is grateful every day to be doing something that she loves so very much for a living.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads


All 2017 Apollycon attendees are eligible to win one of these awesome prizes! Gift Cards will be distributed to the winners at Apollycon 2017 to be used within the Apollycon bookstore. The passes will allow you to skip to the front of one author’s signing line (your choice).

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