Posts Categorized: Giveaway

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

September 25, 2016 Author Interview, Debut Author Challenge, Debut Dish, Giveaway 8

The Debut Dish, a bi-monthly Debut Author Challenge feature, is where you go for the scoop on some pretty awesome debut authors and their new books! Hopefully these interviews will inspire you to add many, many more books to your to-read list. Because, really, who doesn’t need more books in their lives?

This issue of The Debut Dish features Paula Garner (Phantom Limbs), Jennifer Bardsley (Genesis Girl), Sharon Mentyka (Chasing at the Surface), Hannah West (Kingdom of Ash and Briars), Kathleen Glasgow (Girl In Pieces), and Ashlee Cowles (Beneath Wandering Stars).


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What’s your favorite junk food?
Potato chips.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

September 23, 2016 Blog Tour, Book Review, Giveaway, Young Adult 4 ★★★★

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


About Kerri Maniscalco

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

Website | Twitter | Instagram


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

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


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

September 20, 2016 Blog Tour, Giveaway, Guest Post 7

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

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


Danielle’s Mood Board for Stealing Snow

daniellemoodbord

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


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

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

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

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


About Danielle Paige

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


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

September 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 issue of The Debut Dish features Kerri Maniscalco (Stalking Jack the Ripper), Tom Crosshill (The Cat King of Havana), Kim Zarins (Sometimes We Tell the Truth), Camden Leigh (Love Me Crazy), and Lindsey Rosin (Cherry).


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

At least that’s the plan.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alex has already done it. Or so she says.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

September 7, 2016 Blog Tour, Children's Book Review, Giveaway, Inner Child 3

InnerChild

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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


About A.N. Kang

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


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


My Favorite Cat Videos | The Cat King of Havana Blog Tour (+ Giveaway)

August 29, 2016 Blog Tour, Giveaway 3

My Favorite Cat Videos | The Cat King of Havana Blog Tour (+ Giveaway)

Welcome to my stop along the blog tour for The Cat King of Havana by Tom Crosshill! This book sounds like SO much fun! Rick is a major lover of cat videos. Seriously. He even gets dumped for it! So what better way to celebrate the release of this awesome 2016 debut than by sharing a few of my favorite cat videos with you? I’ve spent thousands of hours of my life watching cat videos online, so the hardest thing about this was narrowing the list down to these.

After you’re done playing and replaying these adorable videos, read more about the book and enter to win a copy of your own!


Which of these videos do you love the most?
Link me to any others you think I need to see!


The Cat King of Havana by Tom Crosshill
Published by Katherine Tegen Books on September 6, 2016
Genres: Young Adult – Contemporary
Add to Goodreads
Amazon • B&N • Indiebound • iBooks

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

At least that’s the plan.

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

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

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


About Tom Crosshill

Tom Crosshill’s fiction has been nominated for the Nebula Award (thrice) as well as the Latvian Annual Literature Award. His stories have appeared in venues such as Clarkesworld, Beneath Ceaseless Skies and Lightspeed. In 2009, he won the Writers of the Future contest. After some years spent in Oregon and New York, he currently lives in his native Latvia. In the past, he has operated a nuclear reactor, translated books and worked in a zinc mine, among other things.

Tom’s young adult novel “The Cat King of Havana” is forthcoming from Katherine Tegen Books (HarperCollins) in 2016.

Website | Twitter 

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Tour Schedule:

8/29: That Artsy Reader Girl – Best Cat Videos
8/30: Rebelle Reads – Review
8/31: Pondering the Prose – Playlist
9/1: He Said Books or Me – Review
9/2: The Story Sanctuary – Top 10
9/5: Lekeisha the Book Nerd – Review
9/6: The Irish Banana Review – Fast 5
9/7: One Night Book Stand – Review
9/8: Little Reds Reviews – Cat Kings of Little Reds Reviews (Cat Video)
9/9: Live to Read – Review


The Babcock Sisters of Tell Me Something Real | Author Guest Post (+ Giveaway)

August 22, 2016 Blog Tour, Giveaway, Guest Post 1

Welcome to my stop along the blog tour for Tell Me Something Real by Calla Devlin, hosted by The Irish Banana Review! I’m excited to have Calla on the blog today, discussing the sisters in her debut novel! Following Calla’s post, read a little more about the book and enter to win one of three copies!


Jana: Tell us a little about the sisters and the incredible sisters dynamic in this book. Did you model them after real people? Was it difficult to give each of them unique voices?

Calla: Tell Me Something Real follows three sisters. Profane and passionate Adrienne. Shy and observant Vanessa. And devout and quirky Marie, the baby and most loved in the family.

I have two sisters, Irish triplets, only a year apart each. They are nothing like the Babcock girls in my novel, and I think my desire to make them different from my own family drove me to develop them deeply. I didn’t want them to resemble my own sisters. I do have a similar relationship with one sister, to whom I dedicated the novel, as Vanessa does with Adrienne. Two very different people in the world who have a fierce bond and truly understand each other despite being opposite in so many ways. I drew from that love as I wrote the book.

This novel began as a short story and I couldn’t stop writing about these girls. The very first draft of Tell Me Something Real was a collection of linked stories with chapters written from each character’s point of view, and it followed them into adulthood. While the novel focuses on the dramatic events of one summer, I spent so much time exploring each sister, from college majors to romantic relationships to careers. I think I brought those early drafts to the final one, and I so vividly see each girl. They are real people to me, which may sound a bit strange, but I am invested in them as characters and I wrote them with the same compassion and empathy I try to bring to the real relationships in my life.

Music helped me develop each one. Vanessa, the narrator, is a pianist, so I listened to Chopin and Beethoven and this contemporary Italian composer who is amazing, Ludovico Einaudi. Adrienne is much more into pop, so because the book is set in the seventies, she starts out idolizing Stevie Nicks of Fleetwood Mac and moves onto Blondie. Marie, only nine years old, becomes obsessed with virgin saints, young girls who were burned at the stake for believing in something greater than themselves. I listened to choral music as I wrote those scenes. I think listening to dramatically different kinds of music helped me shift gears as I shifted my focus between the sisters.

I hope the Babcock sisters resonate with readers. They are a buffet of sorts, each a different flavor, and I hope readers connect with them and find them emotionally satisfying. I hope they are as real to you as they are to me.


Tell Me Something Real by Calla Devlin
Published by: S&S/Atheneum on August 30, 2016
Genres: Young Adult – Contemporary
Amazon • B&N • Indiebound • iBooks • Book Depository • Add to Goodreads

Three sisters struggle with the bonds that hold their family together as they face a darkness settling over their lives in this masterfully written debut novel.

There are three beautiful blond Babcock sisters: gorgeous and foul-mouthed Adrienne, observant and shy Vanessa, and the youngest and best-loved, Marie. Their mother is ill with leukemia and the girls spend a lot of time with her at a Mexican clinic across the border from their San Diego home so she can receive alternative treatments.

Vanessa is the middle child, a talented pianist who is trying to hold her family together despite the painful loss that they all know is inevitable. As she and her sisters navigate first loves and college dreams, they are completely unaware that an illness far more insidious than cancer poisons their home. Their world is about to shatter under the weight of an incomprehensible betrayal…


About Calla Devlin

Calla Devlin is a Pushcart nominee and winner of the Best of Blood and Thunder Award whose stories have been included in numerous literary journals and in anthologies, including Because I Love Her: 34 Women Writers Reflect on the Mother-Daughter Bond, for which she was featured in the San Francisco Chronicle and San Francisco Magazine.

Tell Me Something Real is her first book.

Website | Twitter 


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Tour Schedule:

8/22: That Artsy Reader Girl – Guest Post
8/23: Pondering the Prose – Review
8/24: Rebelle Reads – Top 10
8/25: The Litaku – Review
8/26: Never Too Many to Read – Q&A
8/29: Arctic Books  – Review
8/30: Such a Novel Idea – Guest Post
8/31: The Book Return – Review
9/1: I Turn the Pages – Mood Board
9/2: Tales of the Ravenous Reader – Review


My Dream Heist Crew | Smash & Grab Blog Tour (+ Giveaway)

July 18, 2016 Blog Tour, Giveaway 3

My Dream Heist Crew | Smash & Grab Blog Tour (+ Giveaway)

Welcome to my stop along the Smash & Grab blog tour, hosted by The Irish Banana Review! In honor of this heisty, exciting new book by Amy Christine Parker I get to tell you all about the heist crew I’ve dreamed up! I don’t know about you, but I’d love to have a crew of awesome peeps who would drop everything at a moment’s notice to help me take over the world. My crew consists of characters from the big screen, the TV screen, and my favorite YA books because these are my rules. Make sure you hang around to read more about the book, the author, and enter for a chance to win a copy of Smash & Grab for yourself!


Jana’s Heist Crew

Neal Caffrey from White Collar
Ok, so every crew needs a little eye candy but Neal is SO much more than that! He’s a master con artist, art forger, smooth talker, and killer dresser. He’s sweet, loyal, makes you feel good about yourself, loves fine things, and would always be in it for the long haul. This guy is not going anywhere, and who would want him to? (And seriously. He’s gorgeous.)

Nikolai Karimov from The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye
Every heist crew needs a little magic and enchantment, right?

Tamlin from A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
He’s pretty powerful, plus he’s the perfect blend of loyalty, protectiveness, chivalry, bravery, nobility, angst, and fierceness.

Scarlet from The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer
This girl gets things DONE. She stops at nothing, and will put everyone in their place.

Cress from The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer
Universe-class hacker right here, ladies and gents! All heist crews need hackers.

Maggie Silver from Also Known As by Robin Benway
She’s an expert safe cracker. So is Neal, but since he’s super versatile it’s nice to have another one so he can do something else.

Mal from Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
He’s awesome at tracking things!

Jason Bourne from the Bourne films
Do I even need to explain?

Marguerite Caine from A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray
Someone with a Firebird who can travel between parallel dimensions would be PRICELESS.

Kari from Two Lies and a Spy by Kat Carlton
She will stop at nothing to clear the names of those she loves, so basically we need her for her loyalty and her determination. She also has connections, and we could totally use those.

Who would be in your heist crew?


Smash & Grab by Amy Christine Parker
Published by Random House BFYR on July 19, 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Add to Goodreads
Buy: Amazon • B&N

Ocean’s Eleven meets the star-crossed lovers of West Side Story.Grab some popcorn and get ready for an adrenaline-filled heist!

LEXI is a rich girl who loves a good rush. Whether it’s motorcycle racing or BASE jumping off a building in downtown Los Angeles, the only times she feels alive are when she and her friends are executing one of their dares. After her father’s arrest, Lexi doesn’t think twice about going undercover at his bank to steal the evidence that might clear his name. She enlists her hacker brother and her daredevil friends to plan a clever heist.

CHRISTIAN is a boy from the wrong side of the tracks. The local gang has blackmailed him and his friends into robbing banks, and he is desperate for a way out. When the boss promises that one really big job will be the last he ever has to do, Christian jumps at the chance for freedom. In fact, he’s just met a girl at the bank who might even prove useful. . . .

Two heists. One score. The only thing standing in their way is each other.

Told in alternating points of view, this caper is full of romance and fast-paced fun. Hand to fans of Perfect Chemistry, The Conspiracy of Us, and Heist Society.


About Amy

AMY CHRISTINE PARKER writes full-time from her home near Tampa, Florida, where she lives with her husband, their two daughters, and one ridiculously fat cat. Visit her at amychristineparker.com and follow her on Twitter @amychristinepar.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

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Tour Schedule:

7/11: Fiction Fare – My Heist Crew
7/12: Who R U Blog – Novel Secrets
7/13: Bookish Escapes – Review
7/14: Paperback Princess – My Heist Crew
7/15: Bookiemoji – Review
7/18: That Artsy Reader Girl – My Heist Crew
7/19: In Wonderland – Review
7/20: Live to Read – Review
7/21: Go Read a Book – Review
7/22: Bibliobuli – Q&A


The Debut Dish: July 2016, Issue #2 (+ Giveaway)

July 17, 2016 Author Interview, Debut Author Challenge, Debut Dish, Giveaway 8

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 Sonya Mukherjee (Gemini), Tracy Edward Wymer (Soar), and Kathleen Burkinshaw (The Last Cherry Blossom).


Gemini by Sonya Mukherjee
July 26, 2016 from Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

In a powerful and daring debut novel, Sonya Mukherjee shares the story of sisters Clara and Hailey, conjoined twins who are learning what it means to be truly extraordinary.

Seventeen-year-old conjoined twins Clara and Hailey have lived in the same small town their entire lives—no one stares at them anymore. But there are cracks in their quiet existence, and they’re slowly becoming more apparent. Clara and Hailey are at a crossroads. Clara wants to stay close to home, avoid all attention, and study the night sky. Hailey wants to travel the world, learn from great artists, and dance with mysterious boys. As high school graduation approaches, each twin must untangle her dreams from her sister’s, and figure out what it means to be her own person.

Told in alternating perspectives, this unconventional coming-of-age tale shows how dreams can break your heart—but the love between sisters can mend it.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Conjoined twins with conflicting plans.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
All I can tell you is it involves soccer, Lady Gaga, and aliens.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
I was in the parking lot of Michael’s Arts & Crafts when I got a mysterious email from my agent, asking me to call. For various reasons, I thought it was about bad news. I was congested, grumpy, and had a headache, and I almost convinced myself to put off calling him until the next day, when I figured I’d be feeling better. I’m glad I didn’t wait!

What’s your favorite junk food?
Chocolate chip cookies! Wait, no, brownies. Wait, cheesecake. Chocolate chip brownie cheesecake?

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
A Tupperware container full of light bulbs.


Soar by Tracy Edward Wymer
July 5, 2016 from Aladdin (Simon & Schuster)
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

Seventh grader Eddie is determined to honor his father’s legacy and win the school science fair in this fun and quirky debut novel.

Eddie learned everything there is to know about birding from his dad, including the legend of the Golden Eagle, which Dad claimed he saw once down near Miss Dorothy’s pond. According to his dad, the Golden Eagle had wings wider than a creek and talons the size of bulldozer claws. But when Eddie was in sixth grade, Dad “flew away” for good, leaving Eddie on his own to await the return of the elusive raptor.

Now Eddie is starting seventh grade and trying to impress Gabriella, the new girl in town. The annual seventh grade Science Symposium (which Dad famously won) is looming, and Eddie is determined to claim the blue ribbon for himself. With Mr. Dover, the science teacher who was Dad’s birding rival, seemingly against him, and with Mouton, the class bully, making his life miserable on all fronts, Eddie is determined to overcome everything and live up to Dad’s memory. Can Eddie soar and make his dream take flight?

Describe your book in five words or less.
Boy. Bird. Love. Loss. Family.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
My favorite scene in my book is the very last scene. It’s my favorite scene because, honestly, the outcome of my story is inevitable, but the surprise comes in how the main character gets to that outcome.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
I had just walked into my office at school. I’m an assistant principal. I had just come from a meeting, and I checked my cell phone and had a voice message from my agent, John Rudolph. He had also sent me an email. Needless to say, he was trying to contact me! I high-fived everyone in sight. Administrators. Teachers. But especially the students.

What’s your favorite junk food?
Wings. Spicy wings with blue cheese dressing.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
On my desk at school I have this pencil holder my daughter made out of purple Play-doh. It’s all bent out of shape now and as hard as stone. It’s actually kind of gross. I’d say that’s fairly odd.


The Last Cherry Blossom by Kathleen Burkinshaw
August 2, 2016 from Sky Pony Press
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

Following the seventieth anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, this is a new, very personal story to join Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes.

Yuriko was happy growing up in Hiroshima when it was just her and Papa. But her aunt Kimiko and her cousin Genji are living with them now, and the family is only getting bigger with talk of a double marriage! And while things are changing at home, the world beyond their doors is even more unpredictable. World War II is coming to an end, and Japan’s fate is not entirely clear, with any battle losses being hidden fom its people. Yuriko is used to the sirens and the air-raid drills, but things start to feel more real when the neighbors who have left to fight stop coming home. When the bomb hits Hiroshima, it’s through Yuriko’s twelve-year-old eyes that we witness the devastation and horror.

This is a story that offers young readers insight into how children lived during the war, while also introducing them to Japanese culture. Based loosely on author Kathleen Burkinshaw’s mother’s firsthand experience surviving the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, The Last Cherry Blossom hopes to warn readers of the immense damage nuclear war can bring, while reminding them that the “enemy” in any war is often not so different from ourselves.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Family, friendship, secrets, loss, survival.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
My favorite scene takes place when MC Yuriko is on the veranda with her Papa, as he tells her stories.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
I was at home when I received the email from my agent. I wanted to share with my husband, but he was outside trying to get our dog away from a squirrel. So I’m standing in the door way trying to get his attention through all the barking and squirrel shenanigans!

What’s your favorite junk food?
Rice crispy treats tied with chocolate!

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
Olaf candy dispenser!

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Rebellion by J.A. Souders | Blog Tour Book Review (+ Giveaway)

July 15, 2016 Blog Tour, Book Review, Giveaway, Young Adult 8 ★★★½

Rebellion by J.A. Souders | Blog Tour Book Review (+ Giveaway)Rebellion by J.A. Souders
Series: Elysium Chronicles #3
Also in this series: Renegade, Revelations
Published by Tor Teen on July 12, 2016
Genres: Dystopia, Romance, Science Fiction
Pages: 288
Format: Hardcover
Source: From the Publisher
Amazon Barnes & NobleIndieBound iBooks Book Depository Add to Goodreads
3.5 Stars
The thrilling conclusion to J. A. Souders’s riveting SF psychological thriller series for teens

In this conclusion to J. A. Souders’s thrilling, twist-filled Elysium Chronicles series, Evie Winters and Gavin Hunter return to the isolated, dangerous underwater city that they fought so hard to escape.

Back in Elysium at last, Evie has finally found her true self hidden under layers and layers of false memories implanted by the woman she knew as Mother. Thanks to the intervention of her father, she knows the horrible truth about Mother and her insidious plans for her city. With the help of the love of her life, Gavin, and her best friend, Asher St. James, she’s determined to free her people from the cruel dictatorship of Mother’s laws. But how do you free people who don’t know they need rescuing?

Working with the growing Underground rebellion, Evie tries to remove Mother from her position by force—with disastrous results. As the body count rises, Evie must find a way to save Elysium before Mother destroys them all.

Welcome to my stop along the official blog tour for Rebellion by J.A. Souders! Rebellion (released on July 12, 2016) is the final book in the Elysium Chronicles, which is a trilogy I absolutely LOVE (see my reviews for the first two books here and here). This concluding story has been a long time coming, and I’m excited to share my thoughts with you today! I’m going to keep things as spoiler free as possible, which is why my review will be shorter than some, but please be aware of the fact that my review might end up spoiling parts of the first two books in the trilogy.

Many of my points in my reviews for Renegade and Revelations apply to Rebellion as well. The city of Elysium is amazing, and we get to experience more of it in this book. I was really happy to be back here, rather than in the Outlands (which was the dangerous stretch of land Gavin and Evie crossed in Revelations). I just love cities beneath the surface of the ocean. Souders does a wonderful job of describing the setting and the scenery.

Again, the story is written in dual perspectives from Evie and Gavin. I really enjoyed reading both their thoughts, and felt it enriched my reading experience. Our beloved characters have gone through some changes, and it was fun to see them grow. Evie, who started out as a naive, brainwashed, lightweight of a girl has transformed into a stubborn, kick-butt heroine who essentially holds the world of Elysium in her hands as she leads the rebellion against Mother. Gavin is the same old knight-in-shining armor I fell in love with in the first book, and will stop at nothing to make sure Evie is safe. Asher is still the sweet older brother figure, and Mother has reached new levels of insanity. We even meet some new people along the way.

The action is non-stop, heart-pumping, and ends in a way I’m not sure anyone will see coming. Rebellion is a strong conclusion to an even stronger series, and I will miss this world and the characters I’ve enjoyed so much. I definitely recommend this trilogy to anyone looking for a unique sci-fi reading experience. I’m excited to see where J.A. Souders takes us next.

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Tour Schedule

July 11 – Chapter by Chapter
July 12 – Seeing Double in Neverland
July 13 – Short n Sweet Reviews
July 14 – Gizmo’s Reviews
July 15 – That Artsy Reader Girl
July 16 – The Nocturnal Library