Posts Categorized: Giveaway

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

February 7, 2016 Author Interview, Debut Author Challenge, Debut Dish, Giveaway 6

The Debut Dish, a 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 featuresIsabel Bandeira (Bookishly Ever After), Kathy MacMillan (Sword and Verse), Emily Skrutskie (The Abyss Surrounds Us), K.C. Held (Holding Court), Ava Jae (Beyond the Red), Riley Redgate (Seven Ways We Lie), and Jeff Garvin (Symptoms of Being Human).

Bookishly Ever After by Isabel Bandeira
January 12, 2016 from Spencer Hill Press
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In a perfect world, sixteen-year-old Phoebe Martins’ life would be a book. Preferably a YA novel with magic and a hot paranormal love interest. Unfortunately, her life probably wouldn’t even qualify for a quiet contemporary. But when Phoebe finds out that Dev, the hottest guy in the clarinet section, might actually have a crush on her, she turns to her favorite books for advice. Phoebe overhauls her personality to become as awesome as her favorite heroines and win Dev’s heart. But if her plan fails, can she go back to her happy world of fictional boys after falling for the real thing?

Describe your book in five words or less.
Turning books into advice manuals.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
I don’t want to spoil anything, but it happens in the second half, when Phoebe and Dev are counseling 6th grade camp in the Pine Barrens. Those two were so much fun to write together.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
In my apartment, in a google hangout with my future editors. :)

What’s your favorite junk food?
Salty: Cheese-its/goldfish
Sweet: Gummi bears

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
Go Minam, Tae Kyung, Shinwoo, and Jeremy stand-up sticky note holders (I’m a big fan of the k-drama You’re Beautiful, and these are ADORABLE– they’re little fold-up cartoon-y versions of each Anjell band member, and the sticky notes have the pig-rabbit on them)

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Sword and Verse by Kathy MacMillan
January 19, 2016 from HarperTeen
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Raisa was just a child when she was sold to work as a slave in the kingdom of Qilara. Despite her young age, her father was teaching her to read and write, grooming her to take his place as a Learned One. In Qilara, the Arnathim, like Raisa, are the lowest class, and literacy is a capital offense. What’s more, only the king, prince, tutor, and tutor-in-training are allowed to learn the very highest order language, the language of the gods. So when the tutor-in-training is executed for teaching slaves this sacred language, and Raisa is selected to replace her, Raisa knows any slipup on her part could mean death.

Keeping her secret is hard enough, but the romance that’s been growing between her and Prince Mati isn’t helping matters. Then Raisa is approached by the Resistance—an underground army of slave rebels—to help liberate Arnath slaves. She wants to free her people, but that would mean aiding a war against Mati. As Raisa struggles with what to do, she discovers a secret that the Qilarites have been hiding for centuries—one that, if uncovered, could bring the kingdom to its knees.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Fantasy romance for language geeks.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
My favorite scene is one late in the book where the truth about Raisa’s involvement with the Resistance comes out, and she has to face the devastating consequences of betraying the person she loves most. It’s not a battle, but a conversation, and it requires more bravery than any spy mission or sword fight.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
I was at home packing for the camp I direct for deaf kids, which started the following day. Immediately after getting the big news, I spent a week in the woods with a bunch of middle schoolers who were thoroughly unimpressed with my book deal. (Fun fact: one of my middle school campers that week was a girl whose name I had borrowed for one of the characters years ago when she was one of my preschool students and I was first working on the manuscript!)

What’s your favorite junk food?
Marshmallow peeps and bunnies at Easter. (Which is all for the best, since those are only available for a short time each year!) I’m also a sucker for anything gummy!

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
A rock that resembles a primitive spear point.

The Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutskie
February 8, 2016 from Flux
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For Cassandra Leung, bossing around sea monsters is just the family business. She’s been a Reckoner trainer-in-training ever since she could walk, raising the genetically-engineered beasts to defend ships as they cross the pirate-infested NeoPacific. But when the pirate queen Santa Elena swoops in on Cas’s first solo mission and snatches her from the bloodstained decks, Cas’s dream of being a full-time trainer seems dead in the water.

There’s no time to mourn. Waiting for her on the pirate ship is an unhatched Reckoner pup. Santa Elena wants to take back the seas with a monster of her own, and she needs a proper trainer to do it. She orders Cas to raise the pup, make sure he imprints on her ship, and, when the time comes, teach him to fight for the pirates. If Cas fails, her blood will be the next to paint the sea.

But Cas has fought pirates her entire life. And she’s not about to stop.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Pirates vs. kaiju with lesbians.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
The scene is Chapter 17 in its entirety. It’s basically Fight Club, and I “broke” it while listening to Fall Out Boy’s Immortals on loop while literally acting my way through it in the loft of my parents’ house. Fortunately my parents weren’t home at the time.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
In a statistics discussion section, acting like I was doing work so the TA wouldn’t get suspicious. The email landed in my inbox at the beginning of class, and I didn’t pay attention to ANYTHING from that moment on.

What’s your favorite junk food?

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
A magic eight ball in the shape of a pirate skull. You lift the eyepatch to see your answer.

Holding Court by K.C. Held
March 1, 2016 from Entangled Teen
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Sixteen-year-old Jules Verity knows exactly what’s in store at her new job at castle-turned-dinner-theater Tudor Times. Some extra cash, wearing a fancy-pants dress, and plenty of time to secretly drool over the ever-so-tasty–and completely unavailable–Grayson Chandler. Except that it’s not quite what she imagined.

For one, the costume Jules has to wear is awful. Then there’s the dead body she finds that just kind of…well, disappears. Oh, and there’s the small issue of Jules and her episodes of what her best friend calls “Psychic Tourette’s Syndrome”–spontaneous and uncontrollable outbursts of seemingly absurd prophecies.

The only bright side? This whole dead body thing seems to have gotten Grayson’s attention. Except that the more Jules investigates, the more she discovers that Grayson’s interest might not be as courtly as she thought. In fact, it’s starting to look suspicious…

Describe your book in five words or less.
A rollicking romantic mystery.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
It’s impossible to pick a favorite! But the scene I probably had the most fun writing is one where my main character, Jules, pretends to do a psychic reading for her best friend’s drama club nemesis. My favorite prediction involves prom and the bubonic plague.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
Walking on my treadmill desk. I’m lucky I wasn’t seriously injured. Happy dancing on a treadmill is not easy.

What’s your favorite junk food?
Hot Tamales cinnamon candy. The hotter the better!

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
A miniature gargoyle.

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Beyond the Red by Ava Jae
March 1, 2016 by Sky Pony Press
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Alien queen Kora has a problem as vast as the endless crimson deserts. She’s the first female ruler of her territory in generations, but her people are rioting and call for her violent younger twin brother to take the throne. Despite assassination attempts, a mounting uprising of nomadic human rebels, and pressure to find a mate to help her rule, she’s determined to protect her people from her brother’s would-be tyrannical rule.

Eros is a rebel soldier hated by aliens and human alike for being a half-blood. Yet that doesn’t stop him from defending his people, at least until Kora’s soldiers raze his camp and take him captive. He’s given an ultimatum: be an enslaved bodyguard to Kora, or be executed for his true identity—a secret kept even from him.

When Kora and Eros are framed for the attempted assassination of her betrothed, they flee. Their only chance of survival is to turn themselves in to the high court, where revealing Eros’s secret could mean a swift public execution. But when they uncover a violent plot to end the human insurgency, they must find a way to work together to prevent genocide.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Alien queen and rebel framed.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
Welllll I don’t want to get too specific because spoilers, but I will say it involves kissing. Lots of kissing. And sand.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
In my dorm room! Which doesn’t sound exciting except when you consider my agent had to call back because I was walking to my dorm when she first called and she played it so cool that I had no idea she was calling with The News until the call take two.

What’s your favorite junk food?
Fruit dipped in melted, super-low sugar, super-dark chocolate! Which doesn’t sound like junk food until you consider it’s one of the only sweets I can have, as I try my best not to eat anything with added sugar in it. So. :)

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
A (clean) paintbrush. I have no idea why it’s there, to be honest.

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Seven Ways We Lie by Riley Redgate
March 8, 2016 from Amulet Books
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Paloma High School is ordinary by anyone’s standards. It’s got the same cliques, the same prejudices, the same suspect cafeteria food. And like every high school, every student has something to hide—whether it’s Kat, the thespian who conceals her trust issues onstage; or Valentine, the neurotic genius who’s planted the seed of a school scandal.

When that scandal bubbles over, and rumors of a teacher-student affair surface, everyone starts hunting for someone to blame. For the unlikely allies at the heart of it all, the collision of their seven ordinary-seeming lives results in extraordinary change.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Seven deadly sins. One scandal.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
I’m kind of a sucker for epiphany scenes. Not to get spoilery, but in one scene, one of the narrators watches someone close to him have a total breakdown, and realizes how much about the world he still doesn’t understand. It’s very vulnerable for him and I’m quite happy with the way it turned out.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
I was sitting on my bed in my dorm room in fourth floor Old Kenyon!

What’s your favorite junk food?
Every single junk food. All of them. Fries, chicken nuggets, burgers, I’ll eat it all.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
Five boxfoxes … I’m an adult, I swear to God. (If you have never seen a boxfox. It is the cutest stuffed animal in the world.)

Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin
February 2, 2016 from Balzer + Bray
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The first thing you’re going to want to know about me is: Am I a boy, or am I a girl?

Riley Cavanaugh is many things: Punk rock. Snarky. Rebellious. And gender fluid. Some days Riley identifies as a boy, and others as a girl. The thing is . . . Riley isn’t exactly out yet. And between starting a new school and having a congressman father running for reelection in uber-conservative Orange County, the pressure—media and otherwise—is building up in Riley’s so-called “normal” life.

On the advice of a therapist, Riley starts an anonymous blog to vent those pent-up feelings and tell the truth of what it’s REALLY like to be a gender-fluid teenager. But just as Riley’s starting to settle in at school—even developing feelings for a mysterious outcast—the blog goes viral, and an unnamed commenter discovers Riley’s real identity, threatening exposure. Riley must make a choice: walk away from what the blog has created—a lifeline, new friends, a cause to believe in—or stand up, come out, and risk everything.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Gender-fluid teen’s blog goes viral.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
Riley, the protagonist, flees the high school cafeteria after a bout of bullying leads to a vicious anxiety attack. Bec, a mysterious outcast with lightsaber-blue eyes, follows and pulls Riley from the clutches of the attack. Sparks fly, and a rather unconventional friendship (maybe more?) begins.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
I was sitting at my desk at my day job. When my agent’s name popped up on my phone, I got full body chills and ran outside to take the call. She was walking through Manhattan amidst sirens and honking cabs. I was standing on the curb next to a giant UPS truck. We had to yell into the phone in order to hear each other. When she told me there’d been an offer on my book, there may have been a great deal of screaming on both ends. Allegedly.

What’s your favorite junk food?
There’s a vegan fast food joint in OC called Native Foods. They have something called the Scorpion Burger. It tastes like fulfillment and inner beauty. I feel empty inside because I’m not currently eating one.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
The discarded wall-mount for my remote control lightsaber.

Keeping Up With the Debuts: What Lee Kelly Learned from Her Debut

February 3, 2016 Giveaway, Guest Post, Keeping Up With the Debuts 5

Keeping Up With the Debuts is an original That Artsy Reader Girl feature, where I bring back former debut authors are give them the opportunity to talk about what they learned from their debut novel and what’s next for them!

I’m so excited to welcome Lee Kelly back to the blog today! Lee’s debut novel, City of Savages, came out exactly one year ago today! She’s here to tell us about what she learned from her debut novel and to tell us about her new book, A Criminal Magic, which released yesterday!

What I Learned from My Debut
by Lee Kelly

It’s February 3, 2016 – exactly one day after the release of my second novel, A CRIMINAL MAGIC, and exactly one year after the release of my first, CITY OF SAVAGES. My debut somehow simultaneously feels like ages ago, and also just last week. I think time does funny tricks like that, bends and flexes and knots around big events in people’s lives, and this past year has been no exception.

Whenever I catch up or run into people I haven’t seen in a while, one of the first questions they tend to ask is, “Oh hey! How’s the book doing?” And while this used to feel like an antagonizing inquiry into my personal worth last winter, these days, it just feels like an honest question. I’ve gotten over the vulnerability, the obsession, the insecurity of my debut – and while debuting was truly a rollercoaster of an endeavor, I’d like to think I’m a stronger writer and person for it.

The funny thing is, with my second book, I find myself slipping back into my “debut insanity” mindset a little bit – but maybe this is somewhat inevitable, right? Maybe releasing books is a little like having kids – maybe you just can’t escape that period where life gets turned upside down, where you’re more vulnerable and irritable and feel like you may never be normal again. Here are five lessons I learned the first book around that I’m trying to remember this time:

1. Reading is subjective, and it’s supposed to be. There was a three month stretch, right around release, where I sadly spent waaaay too much time tracking Amazon and Goodreads reviews, pouring over trades, wondering when I noticed someone currently reading my novel if they’d be the type of person who would enjoy a pair of post-apocalyptic sisters, or the type who would make a hate-rant video about their idiocy.
But the truth is, tastes are erratic and completely unpredictable. I’ll hand a novel to my mom, convinced she’ll devour it, and she can’t get through the first twenty pages. My sister and I will see a movie, and at the end she’ll ask, “Wasn’t that amazing?” to which I answer, “Eh.”

Thing is, entertainment is supposed to be subjective – there are many kinds of genres and styles and messages and if we all liked the same thing, we’d all write and make the same things, and what a boring world that would be.

2. Don’t ask people if they’ve read your book. That moment where you know your husband gave a copy of your book to his colleague, and you know she liked the first two chapters because she told you in person a month earlier, and yet here you are at a cocktail party and books come up and she says nothing. VERDICT: As my father flippantly says, “So what! Who cares?” I never bring it up because she either forgot or she hated it, and those are high odds for a really awkward conversation.

3. The online book community is wonderful…. I never knew how incredibly robust and communal and supportive and fun the book community was online until I debuted. I got on Twitter late, and only after I signed my book deal with Simon & Schuster, but I seriously feel so grateful for the amazing community of fellow writers, readers, bloggers, agents and publishers that make the book community so wonderful and accessible online.

4. …But sometimes you have to go dark. For all of its amazingness, thanks to social media, it is so, so easy these days to check in on friends and colleagues and other writers, see all of the wonderful things going on in their careers (New deals! Stellar reviews! Film options!) and feel incredibly small and unworthy. And while it took me a LONG time to figure this out, I finally realized that when I’m in a really insecure place (like waiting on feedback from my editor or agent, or really struggling with a particular scene or a tough revision), I just have to turn off the internet. I’m not intentionally in the business of torturing myself, but for a short period back in 2015, I have to admit I was pretty darn good at it.

5. At the end of the day, I love writing. No matter how my last book or my new book is received, at the end of the day, I write novels because I love writing – the actual act, not everything that might come or does come after it. So I have to sit down at the computer as a writer, not as an author, which helps frame all of the above concerns as privileges.

To read about Lee’s debut novel, A City of Savages, click here!
Continue on to read about A Criminal Magic and enter to win one of two prize packages of BOTH of Lee Kelly’s books!

A Criminal Magic by Lee Kelly
February 2, 2016 from Simon & Schuster
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THE NIGHT CIRCUS meets PEAKY BLINDERS in Lee Kelly’s new magical realism, crossover novel.

Magic is powerful, dangerous and addictive – and after passage of the 18th Amendment, it is finally illegal.

It’s 1926 in Washington, DC, and while Anti-Sorcery activists have achieved the Prohibition of sorcery, the city’s magic underworld is booming. Sorcerers cast illusions to aid mobsters’ crime sprees. Smugglers funnel magic contraband in from overseas. Gangs have established secret performance venues where patrons can lose themselves in magic, and take a mind-bending, intoxicating elixir known as the sorcerer’s shine.

Joan Kendrick, a young sorcerer from Norfolk County, Virginia accepts an offer to work for DC’s most notorious crime syndicate, the Shaw Gang, when her family’s home is repossessed. Alex Danfrey, a first-year Federal Prohibition Unit trainee with a complicated past and talents of his own, becomes tapped to go undercover and infiltrate the Shaws.

Through different paths, Joan and Alex tread deep into the violent, dangerous world of criminal magic – and when their paths cross at the Shaws’ performance venue, despite their orders, and despite themselves, Joan and Alex become enchanted with one another. But when gang alliances begin to shift, the two sorcerers are forced to question their ultimate allegiances and motivations. And soon, Joan and Alex find themselves pitted against each other in a treacherous, heady game of cat-and-mouse.

A CRIMINAL MAGIC casts a spell of magic, high stakes and intrigue against the backdrop of a very different Roaring Twenties.

Lee Kelly is the author of A CRIMINAL MAGIC and CITY OF SAVAGES. She has wanted to write since she was old enough to hold a pencil, but it wasn’t until she began studying for the California Bar Exam that she conveniently started putting pen to paper. An entertainment lawyer by trade, Lee has practiced in Los Angeles and New York. She lives with her husband and children in Millburn, New Jersey. Follow her on Twitter at @leeykelly and on her website at

Lee Kelly is offering two winners copies of both City of Savages AND A Criminal Magic! Pretty sure you should enter this giveaway.

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

January 24, 2016 Author Interview, Debut Author Challenge, Debut Dish, Giveaway 5

The Debut Dish, a 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 Sarah Ahiers (Assassin’s Heart), Kali Wallace (Shallow Graves), Cait Spivey (From Under the Mountain), Rebecca Podos (The Mystery of Hollow Places), Emily Martin (The Year We Fell Apart), and Anne Riley (Pull).

Assassin’s Heart by Sarah Ahiers
February 2, 2016 from HarperTeen
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In the kingdom of Lovero, nine rival Families of assassins lawfully kill people for a price. As a highly skilled member of one of these powerful clans, seventeen-year-old Lea Saldana has always trusted in the strength of her Family. Until she awakens to find them murdered and her home in flames. The Da Vias, the Saldanas’ biggest enemy, must be responsible—and Lea should have seen it coming. But her secret relationship with the Da Vias’ son, Val, has clouded her otherwise killer instinct—and given the Da Vias more reason than ever to take her Family down.

Racked with guilt and shattered over Val’s probable betrayal, Lea sets out to even the score, with her heart set on retaliation and only one thought clear in her mind: make the Da Vias pay.

With shades of The Godfather and Romeo and Juliet, this richly imagined fantasy from debut author Sarah Ahiers is a story of love, lies, and the ultimate vengeance.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Assassins, murder, vengeance, ghosts, romance.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
I have a lot of favorite scenes, but one that I’ve really loved since the moment I wrote it is when Lea meets her estranged uncle Marcello for the first time. Things are revealed and emotions are high and I really like Marcello as a character. I get excited every time I read that scene.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
At my day job. I got an email from my agent about the offer and I was so excited and emotional that my hands were shaking when I called my sister a few minutes later.

What’s your favorite junk food?
Chocolate and chips. Even better is chocolate covered potato chips!

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
A measuring tape and a geode.

Shallow Graves by Kali Wallace
January 26, 2016 from Katherine Tegen Books
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For fans of Holly Black and Nova Ren Suma, a gripping, hauntingly atmospheric novel about murder, revenge, and a world where monsters—human and otherwise—lurk at the fringes.

When seventeen-year-old Breezy Lin wakes up in a shallow grave one year after her death, she doesn’t remember who killed her or why. All she knows is that she’s somehow conscious—and not only that, she’s able to sense who around her is hiding a murderous past. In life, Breezy was always drawn to the elegance of the universe and the mystery of the stars. Now she must set out to find answers and discover what is to become of her in the gritty, dangerous world to which she now belongs—where killers hide in plain sight and a sinister cult is hunting for strange creatures like her. What she finds is at once empowering, redemptive, and dangerous.

Tense, complex, and wholly engaging, Shallow Graves is a stunning first novel from Kali Wallace.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Being undead sucks.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
That’s a spoiler! Let’s just say it involves several dead bodies, a long walk underground, and a very angry woman.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
I was on vacation in Hawaii when I got the call from my agent, so the time difference meant that we kept missing each other and I had to get out of bed before 6 a.m. so we could actually have a conversation about the offer. Totally worth it.

What’s your favorite junk food?
Chocolate. Just… chocolate.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
The Father Ted DVD box set. I don’t know why it’s on my desk. It’s not like I’m going to watch it at my desk.

From Under the Mountain by Cait Spivey
January 26, 2016 from REUTS Publications
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As the second child of the Aridan imperial family, nineteen-year-old Guerline knows exactly what is expected of her: be unobtrusive, be compliant, and do not fall in love with her low-born companion, Eva. She has succeeded at only two of those.

But before her feelings for Eva can become a point of contention for the royal house, Guerline’s calm and narrow life is ripped away from her—in the course of a single night—and she is abruptly cast in the role of empress.

Faced with a council that aggressively fears the four witch clans charged with protecting Arido and believes they are, in fact, waging war against the humans, Guerline struggles to maintain order. As her control over the land crumbles, she learns that the war is rooted in a conflict much older than she realized—one centuries in the making, which is now crawling from under the mountain and into the light. With the fate of Arido hanging in the balance, Guerline must decide who to trust when even her closest councilors seem to have an agenda.

Darkly cinematic, From Under the Mountain pairs the sweeping landscape of epic fantasy with the personal journey of finding one’s voice in the world, posing the question: how do you define evil, when everything society tells you is a lie?

Describe your book in five words or less.
Witches. Humans. Psychopathic gods. Disaster.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
Tough one. I can’t be too specific about my favorite scene, because it’s one of those spoilerific crux scenes. Suffice it to say that it’s immediately after a major character’s death, and Guerline, the main character, is confronted by a lot of the information and feelings she’s been trying to control and suppress so far in the novel. I have to stop and read this scene every time I work on the novel, even if I’m just supposed to be skimming through.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
At home. I work from home, so I’m pretty much here all the time, haha.

What’s your favorite junk food?
Cheesecake. Or creme brûlée. Or fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies…*wanders off in search of junk food*

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
I have a little spider finger-puppet that I use to introduce people to my self-pubbed novella series, THE WEB. I try to keep my desk clear, so I guess he counts as the oddest thing.

The Mystery of Hollow Places by Rebecca Podos
January 26, 2016 from Blazer + Bray
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All Imogene Scott knows of her mother is the bedtime story her father told her as a child. It’s the story of how her parents met: he, a forensic pathologist, she, a mysterious woman who came to identify a body. A woman who left Imogene and her father when she was a baby, a woman who was always possessed by a powerful loneliness, a woman who many referred to as troubled waters.

When Imogene is seventeen, her father, now a famous author of medical mysteries, strikes out in the middle of the night and doesn’t come back. Neither Imogene’s stepmother nor the police know where he could’ve gone, but Imogene is convinced he’s looking for her mother. She decides to put to use the skills she’s gleaned from a lifetime of her father’s books to track down a woman she’s never known, in order to find him and, perhaps, the answer to the question she’s carried with her for her entire life.

Rebecca Podos’ debut is a powerful, affecting story of the pieces of ourselves that remain mysteries even to us – the desperate search through empty spaces for something to hold on to.

Describe your book in five words or less.
It’s a mystery about mysteries.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
My favorite might be the scene at the Boston MFA between the main character, Imogene Scott, and her best-friend-on-paper, Jessa Price, during a pivotal point in the mystery. Jessa was in some ways based upon my best friend growing up, so the evolution of the girls’ relationship as they work together to find Immy’s father is really precious to me.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
When I found out I had an offer on HOLLOW PLACES, I was in the car with my husband, leaving the motorcycle dealership where he’d just bought a bike. I made him pull over so I could tell him the good news , and he asked if I wanted to go back and buy a bike for myself to celebrate. I DID NOT.

What’s your favorite junk food?
Chocolate peanut butter, but if I eat it on celery, it’s considered “veggies with toppings.”

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
I’ve just spilled my drink across my desk, but that’s not unusual, so I’ll go with this cardboard bear I got from the Edward Gorey House. You can dress him up in all kinds of period clothing that came in the kit, which I absolutely NEEDED when I was in the gift shop a few years ago. I’m sure I’ll find a great and practical use for it someday.

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The Year We Fell Apart by Emily Martin
January 26, 2016 from Simon Pulse
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In the tradition of Sarah Dessen, this powerful debut novel is a compelling portrait of a young girl coping with her mother’s cancer as she figures out how to learn from—and fix—her past.

Few things come as naturally to Harper as epic mistakes. In the past year she was kicked off the swim team, earned a reputation as Carson High’s easiest hook-up, and officially became the black sheep of her family. But her worst mistake was destroying her relationship with her best friend, Declan.

Now, after two semesters of silence, Declan is home from boarding school for the summer. Everything about him is different—he’s taller, stronger…more handsome. Harper has changed, too, especially in the wake of her mom’s cancer diagnosis.

While Declan wants nothing to do with Harper, he’s still Declan, her Declan, and the only person she wants to talk to about what’s really going on. But he’s also the one person she’s lost the right to seek comfort from.

As their mutual friends and shared histories draw them together again, Harper and Declan must decide which parts of their past are still salvageable, and which parts they’ll have to let go of once and for all.

In this honest and affecting tale of friendship and first love, Emily Martin brings to vivid life the trials and struggles of high school and the ability to learn from past mistakes over the course of one steamy North Carolina summer.

Describe your book in five words or less.
The complicated negotiation of forgiveness.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
My favorite scene is the first one I wrote, which actually comes late in the novel. It’s a point where all of Harper and Declan’s past hurt and everything they’ve gone a year without dealing with finally comes to a head. Writing that scene inspired the rest of the novel, because I had to find out how these two best friends, despite all the love they have for each other, could end up in such a messy, painful place.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
Riding the T in Boston on my commute home from work. I saw my agent was calling and couldn’t resist answering, which wasn’t the brightest idea because I was underground and couldn’t hear half of what she was saying! I somehow managed to contain my flailing until the next stop, at which point I jumped out and practically skipped the rest of the way home.

What’s your favorite junk food?
I love a mix of salty and sweet–chocolate-covered pretzels and kettle corn are two of my faves!

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
My desk is remarkably clean at the moment, but there is a set of Betty Boop pens that my mom sent me as an “office warming” present. They are as awesome and ridiculous as you might think.

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Pull by Anne Riley
February 2, 2016 from Spencer Hill Press
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

Rosie Clayton witnesses a mugging on her first night in London—and then the scene rewinds itself.

She finds herself standing in the same place again, with the mugging happening just like before, except this time a stranger steps in and stops it. There’s no way the same incident can have two outcomes. Rosie thinks she’s losing her mind, until just a few days later, the stranger saves her.

The stranger, Albert, and his band of misfit crime-fighters, have the special ability to Pull, which allows them to rewind just enough time to undo a recent event. Someone is hunting Albert and his crew– and now that Rosie’s been seen with them, she’s a target too. Rosie is left with no choice but to trust Albert to keep her safe.

As Rosie learns more about this unbelievable ability and the people – if you can call them that – who want them dead, she discovers that the group’s desire for her blood might be more than mere coincidence. Each step into this magical side of London introduces Rosie to a family history that she never knew existed, and dangerous forces that could unravel her world in an instant.

Her family may be the reason they’re all being hunted—and she may be the only one who can figure out how to save them. Sure, between the lot of them, they have a few shots to get it right. The thing about Pulling, though, is you have to be alive to do it.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Cute English guys fighting crime.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
I love the scene where Albert is trying to teach Rosie how to Pull (rewind a section of time to change something bad that’s happened). It’s full of tension and mystery–will she be able to do it? And how does she feel about Albert standing so close to her?–and I love the chemistry between the two characters.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
In my house, changing my second child’s diaper. Glamorous, right?

What’s your favorite junk food?
Anything greasy! Burgers, fries, pizza… I’ll eat all of it!

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
An atomic clock that doesn’t actually keep accurate time. (How? Isn’t that the whole point of an atomic clock?)

I’ve got a flash giveaway of Pull going on on Twitter right now! 

Shade Me Rainbow Blitz | My Favorite Red Things (+ Giveaway)

January 17, 2016 Blog Tour, Giveaway 6

Shade Me Rainbow Blitz | My Favorite Red Things (+ Giveaway)

I’m so excited to be on the Shade Me Rainbow Blitz tour, hosted by Irish Banana Tours! Seven bloggers, seven days, seven colors. Each day you’ll get to visit another blog and see why they love their assigned color (and shades of their color). First stop is right here, with the shades of red (including maroon, burgundy, pink, etc.)! I’ve chosen to do a collage of all of my favorite things. Don’t forget to read about Jennifer Brown’s Shade Me and enter to win one of three copies of the book!

Jana’s Favorite (Shades of) Red Things


I love strawberries, A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas, red velvet cake, my pink high heels, pink dahlias, my hot pink Revlon Ultra HD Matte lip color, red nail polish, Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins, gardens with red flowers, sunsets, fall leaves, and apples!

What are some of your favorite red (and shades of red) things?

Shade Me by Jennifer Brown
January 19, 2016 from Katherine Tegen Books
Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Indiebound | The Book Depository

Nikki Kill does not see the world like everyone else. In her eyes, happiness is pink, sadness is a mixture of brown and green, and lies are gray. Thanks to a rare phenomenon called synesthesia, Nikki’s senses overlap, in a way that both comforts and overwhelms her.

Always an outsider, just one ‘D’ shy of flunking out, Nikki’s life is on the fast track to nowhere until the night a mysterious call lights her phone up bright orange—the color of emergencies. It’s the local hospital. They need Nikki to identify a Jane Doe who is barely hanging on to life after a horrible attack.

The victim is Peyton Hollis, a popular girl from Nikki’s school who Nikki hardly knows. One thing is clear: Someone wants Peyton dead. But why? And why was Nikki’s cell the only number in Peyton’s phone?

As she tries to decipher the strange kaleidoscope of clues, Nikki finds herself thrust into the dark, glittering world of the ultra-rich Hollis family, and drawn towards Peyton’s handsome, never-do-well older brother Dru. While Nikki’s colors seem to help her unravel the puzzle, what she can’t see is that she may be falling into a trap. The only truth she can be sure of is that death is a deep, pulsing crimson.

Shade Me is award-winning author Jennifer Brown’s first book in a thrilling suspense series about Nikki Kill.

About Jennifer Brown:

Two-time winner of the Erma Bombeck Global Humor Award (2005 & 2006), Jennifer’s weekly humor column appeared in The Kansas City Star for over four years, until she gave it up to be a full-time young adult novelist.

Jennifer’s debut novel, HATE LIST (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2009) received three starred reviews and was selected as an ALA Best Book for Young Adults, a VOYA “Perfect Ten,” and a School Library Journal Best Book of the Year. HATE LIST also won the Michigan Library Association’s Thumbs Up! Award, the Louisiana Teen Readers Choice award, the 2012 Oklahoma Sequoyah Book Award, was an honorable mention for the 2011 Arkansas Teen Book Award, is a YALSA 2012 Popular Paperback, received spots on the Texas Library Association’s Taysha’s high school reading list as well as the Missouri Library Association’s Missouri Gateway Awards list, and has been chosen to represent the state of Missouri in the 2012 National Book Festival in Washington, DC. Jennifer’s second novel, BITTER END, (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2011) received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and VOYA and is listed on the YALSA 2012 Best Fiction for Young Adults list and is a 2012 Taysha’s high school reading list pick as well.

Jennifer writes and lives in the Kansas City, Missouri area, with her husband and three children.

Links: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

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Tour Schedule:

1/17:  That Artsy Reader Girl – Red
1/18:  Lisa Loves Lit – Orange
1/19:  Avid Reader – Yellow
1/20:  Book Scents – Green
1/21:  Andi’s ABCs – Blue
1/22:  Fiery Reads – Indigo
1/23:  Such A Novel Idea – Violet

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

January 10, 2016 Author Interview, Debut Author Challenge, Debut Dish, Giveaway 13

The Debut Dish, a 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?

Welcome to January’s first issue of The Debut Dish! Things are working a little differently this year. Most noticeably, we’ve got some new questions! Also, there will be two issues a month instead of an issue almost every Sunday. Last of all, I’m no longer featuring authors chronologically by release date. Sometimes it ends up that way, but I’m letting the authors choose when I feature them this year so they can do more exciting giveaways!

This issue features Marieke Nijkamp (This is Where it Ends), Natalie Blitt (The Distance from A to Z), Emily Albright (The Heir and the Spare), and Patrick Samphire (Secrets of the Dragon Tomb).

This is Where it Ends by Marieke Nijkamp
January 5, 2016 from Sourcebooks Fire
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

10:00 a.m.
The principal of Opportunity, Alabama’s high school finishes her speech, welcoming the entire student body to a new semester and encouraging them to excel and achieve.

10:02 a.m.
The students get up to leave the auditorium for their next class.

The auditorium doors won’t open.

Someone starts shooting.

Told over the span of 54 harrowing minutes from four different perspectives, terror reigns as one student’s calculated revenge turns into the ultimate game of survival.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Four teens. One school shooting.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
There’s a scene early on in the book where one of the main characters, who is inside the school, but not inside the auditorium where the shooting takes place, is desperate to save his sister. His best friend is with him, and although normally they banter and don’t take anything seriously, here they stand beside each other unconditionally. And I loved writing that friendship between Tomás and Fareed.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
In a bookstore, with my critique partner and her agent! Which was basically the best thing ever. (And I didn’t even buy any books because I was so overwhelmed! I made up for that over the next couple of days, though.)

What’s your favorite junk food?
Ice cream! I’m an ice cream person summer or winter.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
A Gallifreyan fob watch. ;-)

The Distance from A to Z by Natalie Blitt
January 12, 2016 from Epic Reads Impulse
Add to Goodreads | Author Twitter

This full-length novel by debut author Natalie Blitt is a pitch-perfect blend of Stephanie Perkins and Miranda Kenneally that proves the age-old adage: opposites attract.

Seventeen-year old Abby has only one goal for her summer: to make sure she is fluent in French—well, that, and to get as far away from baseball and her Cubs-obsessed family as possible. A summer of culture and language, with no sports in sight.

That turns out to be impossible, though, because her French partner is the exact kind of boy she was hoping to avoid. Eight weeks. 120 hours of class. 80 hours of conversation practice with someone who seems to exclusively wear baseball caps and jerseys.

But Zeke in French is a different person than Zeke in English. And Abby can’t help but fall for him, hard. As Abby begins to suspect that Zeke is hiding something, she has to decide if bridging the gap between the distance between who she is and who he is, is worth the risk.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Amour is French for love.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
One of my favorite scenes is the first time Abby and Zeke kiss. They are having a lovely evening and Abby says something dumb that Zeke takes offense at — and they wind up on different sides of a trivia night at a local cafe. It’s fun and flirty and sad and just a little bit sexy.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
At work! Seems odd, doesn’t it? I’d had a few near misses so it was hard to not be worried, but there was definitely a lot of cheshire grins happening.

What’s your favorite junk food?
Chocolate covered espresso beans. And air popped popcorn. And red licorice.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
I bought the letters W, R, I, T, E from Michael’s and then glued on pages from an old copy (one of two) of Ballet Shoes that I’d had from when I was little. You can see the line drawings and it both inspires me and keeps me aiming high.

The Heir and the Spare by Emily Albright
January 18, 2016 from Merit Press
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

Family can be complicated. Especially when skeletons from the past pop up unexpectedly. For American Evie Gray, finding out her deceased mother had a secret identity, and not one of the caped crusader variety, was quite the surprise. Evie’s mom had a secret life before she was even born, one that involved tiaras.

In this modern day fairytale, Evie is on a path to figure out who her mom really was, while discovering for herself what the future will hold. Charged with her late mother’s letters, Evie embarks on a quest into her past. The first item on the list is to attend Oxford, her mom’s alma mater. There, Evie stumbles upon a real life prince charming, Edmund Stuart the second Prince of England, who is all too happy to be the counterpart to her damsel in distress.

Evie can’t resist her growing attraction to Edmund as they spend more time together trying to unravel the clues her mother left behind. But, when doubts arise as to whether or not Edmund could ever be with an untitled American, what really ends up unraveling is Evie’s heart. When Evie uncovers all the facts about her mom’s former life, she realizes her mom’s past can open doors she never dreamed possible, doors that can help her be with Edmund. But, with everything now unveiled, Evie starts to crack under the pressure of new family responsibilities and the realization that her perfect prince may want her for all the wrong reasons.

Describe your book in five words or less.
A modern day fairytale romance.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
Hmm, I’d probably have to go with the Eiffel Tower scene on Evie’s Birthday.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
At home. I was working on another book when my agent called me and told me Merit was making an offer. Once I got off the phone I did a happy dance and squealed liked a little girl. Then I started calling my hubby and parents. It still makes me smile just to think about it.

What’s your favorite junk food?
Chocolate. Chocolate. Chocolate. Always chocolate. Chocolate makes everything better. ;)

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
I actually don’t have a desk. I use a lap desk thingy on the chaise part of my couch. But, the oddest thing within my reach would have to be my pink peppermint foot cream. Well, that or my weird, little, food-stealing puppy, Luna. The other day she stole the tuna sandwich I made for lunch and spit out all the pickles. Guess she’s not a pickle fan.

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Secrets of the Dragon Tomb by Patrick Samphire
January 12, 2016 from Christy Ottaviano Books
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

Mars in 1816 is a world of high society, deadly danger, and strange clockwork machines.

Twelve-year-old Edward Sullivan wants to become a spy like the ones he reads about in his favorite magazine, Thrilling Martian Tales, but he’s far too busy keeping his eccentric family from disaster. All of that is about to change. In the north, great dragon tombs hide marvels of Ancient Martian technology, and the villainous archaeologist Sir Titus Dane is determined to loot one.

When Sir Titus kidnaps Edward’s parents, Edward, his sisters, and their mysterious cousin set off in pursuit across the Martian wilderness. Together they must battle Sir Titus’s minions, dodge hungry pterodactyls, and escape fearsome Martian hunting machines in order to rescue Edward’s parents and uncover the secrets of the dragon tomb.

Describe your book in five words or less.
A thrilling Martian adventure.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
One of my favorite scenes comes right near the beginning of the book when our hero’s idiot cousin crashes his cycle-copter (a cross between a bicycle and a helicopter) into a great pillar of rock, almost sending our hero plunging to his doom. I love this scene because it’s full of action, is very funny, and sets of a whole cascade of deadly adventure and thrilling escapes.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
I was reading to my oldest son (who was four at the time) and we’d just taken a break in between chapters when I found out. He was very excited, although he didn’t like the idea that someone else would buy my book as he wanted to keep it!

What’s your favorite junk food?
Chocolate. Is chocolate a junk food? Actually, I don’t think it can be. It is my opinion that if you only eat dark chocolate and only drink green tea you’ll live forever.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
I kinda don’t want to think about that right now, because my little children keep leaving weird things on my desk and sometimes they freak me out when I uncover them.

Harlequin Naughty or Nice Winter Blog Tour | Kate Willoughby (+ Giveaway)

December 16, 2015 Blog Tour, Giveaway, Guest Post 0

Harlequin Naughty or Nice Winter Blog Tour | Kate Willoughby (+ Giveaway)

Welcome to my stop along the Naughty or Nice Winter Blog Tour, hosted by Kismet Book Tours! I’m happy to welcome Kate Willoughby, author of Under the Spotlight, to the blog today to talk about her books and her love of Christmas ornaments! I collect ornaments from all the places I’ve visited, as well bookish and cat ornaments, so I understand and support Kate’s love. You’ll also get to learn about her newest book and have the opportunity to win copies of all the books on tour!

Ornament Lovers Unite!

A Guest Post by Kate Willoughby

KateWOrnamentsI write hockey romance and hockey is a winter sport, so I often have important Christmas scenes in my books. In my last book, OUT OF THE GAME, the hero and heroine start their own tradition. At the beginning of the book, they go away together on a crazy whim and stay in a cabin just outside the Zion National Park. By the time Christmas rolls around in the book, they find themselves separated from family—Alex by choice, Claire by circumstance. So, they decide to spend Christmas together at “their cabin.” And what an eventful, emotional Christmas that ends up being! Anyway, they do end up repeating that cabin tradition one more time in the book and that trip is pretty special as well. It’s in the epilogue, so I’ll let you speculate as to what happens there.

In the next book from my In the Zone series, UNDER THE SPOTLIGHT (Dec. 14, 2015), I again have a Christmas scene: the first time Joe meets Christine’s family. Because Christine’s family is Hungarian and I am Chinese, I had to do some research on Hungarian Christmas traditions. It was fascinating. I wanted Joe to bring a hostess gift at Christine’s insistence, because let’s face it, a jock hockey player probably hasn’t even heard of hostess gifts. Because my heroes are usually nice guys, I wanted Joe to choose something more personal than a bottle of wine. He ends up making a traditional Hungarian Christmas ornament while on the plane travelling for one of his road trips and Christine and all the female members of her family fall in love with him.

It’s not surprising that I featured Christmas ornaments. I have a rather large collection of Santa ornaments that I love putting out every year. I’d love to hear about or see pictures of ornaments that are special to you. Please share them in the comments section below.

Happy holidays,

Under the Spotlight by Kate Willoughby
Series: In the Zone #4
Published by Carina Press on December 14, 2015
AmazonBarnes and Noble • Add to Goodreads

Stage actress Christine Caspary couldn’t care less about hockey, but when she first sees Joe Rutherford playing in a Barracudas game her mind goes to all sorts of dirty places. By happy chance, her work with Grant A Wish gives her an opportunity to meet him in the flesh.

Right winger Joe Rutherford saw Christine perform when the team went to see Chicago and was so taken with her, he secretly saw the show a second time, alone. When the gorgeous actress with spectacular legs contacts him out of the blue asking for a favor, it’s a no-brainer.

Their chemistry is off the charts. Things heat up quickly and they can’t keep their hands off each other. Soon they’re hooking up whenever their busy schedules allow and having hot phone sex every night at midnight when they don’t. But Joe’s time in the hockey spotlight is fading, just as Christine’s star begins to rise. When she gets her big break into a TV career, how will Joe take to being the arm candy for a change?

Find Kate Willoughby:
Website | Twitter | Facebook

Thanks to the lovely people at Harlequin, we have a pretty awesome tour-wide giveaway going on that I KNOW you want to win! Best of luck!

One grand prize winner will receive:
• 1 print copy of The Harder You Fall by Gena Showalter, White Wedding Christmas by Andrea Laurence, A Cowboy Under the Mistletoe by Vicki Lewis Thompson, Wrapped in Red by Nana Malone and Sherelle Green
• 1 eBook copy of A Copper Ridge Christmas by Maisey Yates and Under the Spotlight by Kate Willoughby
• 100,000 Harlequin MyRewards points
• 2 Harlequin Classics limited edition notebooks
• 1 Brenda Jackson Westmoreland limited edition notebook

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Visit the other tour stops!

Monday, Novemer 30th – Books and Things
Wednesday, December 2nd – Romancing Rakes For the Love of Romance
Friday, December 4th – Supernatural Snark

Monday, December 7th – Bewitched Bookworms
Wednesday, December 9th – Rather Be Reading Blog
Friday, December 11th – Obsessed by Books

Monday, December 14th – Rainy days and Pajamas
Wednesday, December 16th – That Artsy Reader Girl
Friday, December 18th – In the Hammock

Monday, December 21st – Whatever You Can Still Betray
Wednesday, December 23rd – Reading Reality
Friday, December 25th – Little Miss Drama Queen

The Travel Adventures of PJ Mouse in Canada and Queensland | Children’s Book Reviews and Giveaway

November 30, 2015 Blog Tour, Children's Book Review, Giveaway, Inner Child 1

Welcome to my stop along the The Travel Adventures of PJ Mouse blog tour, hosted by iRead Book Tours. These books are very cute (and educational!), and I’m excited to share my reviews of them with you today!

The Travel Adventures of PJ Mouse in Canada by Gwyneth Jane Page
Illustrated by Megan Elizabeth
Series: The Travel Adventures of PJ Mouse #1
Published by First Choice Books
Pages: 42
Source: From the author
Amazon • • Barnes & Noble

PJ Mouse, an adorable little stuffed animal, was lost and alone until young Emily heard his cries for help. Now, along with his new family, PJ gets to travel the world-discovering exciting new places and people along the way!

Come join PJ on his first adventure across Canada as he hikes on a glacier in the Rockies, finds a salt lake in the prairies, and walks on the ocean floor in Nova Scotia.

I love books about travel, but I particularly love children’s travel books because they open young minds to other countries and cultures. While Canada is not at all far away from those of us in the USA, this book transports you there and takes you on an exciting adventure. PJ is a very cute mouse, who comes to life with the sweet, childlike illustrations, filled with color. The book is laid out in easy-to-manage chapters, so struggling readers do not have to worry about taking on too much at one time.

PJ has a very sweet voice, and I loved reading his thoughts and dialogue. He says some funny things. I love the magical moment when he is found by Emily, wet and soggy under a park bench. She heard his cries for help when no grown-ups could, and she can talk to him when nobody else can. This book is filled with complex vocabulary words, which will create wonderful learning experiences for children, especially if their parent is reading with them and can further explain the concepts behind these words. Emily gets to explain to PJ what the word “conceited” means, and she explained it in a way that children will understand and absorb. He also learns what a fifth-wheel is, as well as a glacier. The two have wonderful experiences together, and their excitement is infectious. Readers will learn how long and tall the Rocky Mountains are, that snow lasts in very high elevations even during the summertime, what a crevasse is, what it’s like swimming in salt water, waterfalls and erosion, some French words, a little history, that it’s ok to be short, and more. PJ gets into some sticky situations, but always come out learning from them.

All in all, I really enjoyed this cute, educational story and think it would be a wonderful way to teach youngsters a little something, while having fun at the same time!

The Travel Adventures of PJ Mouse in Queensland by Gwyneth Jane Page
Illustrated by Megan Elizabeth
Series: The Travel Adventures of PJ Mouse #2
Published by First Choice Books
Pages: 42
Source: From the author
Amazon • • Barnes & Noble

Come join PJ on this, his second adventure, along the coast of Queensland, as he snorkels at the Great Barrier Reef, chats with a Loggerhead turtle in the midst of a great undertaking, and explores the tropical rainforest – until he ha to be rescued by one of the local friendly wildlife.

This was another cute installment of The Travel Adventures of PJ Mouse! Pretty much everything I said about the first book applies to this one as well. The illustrations are very cute and colorful, the book is organized into small chapters, PJ is a funny little guy (although he rambles a bit too much at times), and the story not only entertains, but teaches readers about a new place. This time, we visited Queensland, Australia. Lucky PJ! I’ve always wanted to visit Australia. Readers pack their suitcases (much bigger than PJ’s, of course) and board the plane with PJ and Emily.

During his second adventure, PJ learns what a kangaroo is (he thinks it’s an Australian mouse!), that just because you go to the opposite side of the world does not mean you have to walk on your hands, why you can’t breathe underwater, some more vocabulary words, how trees can grow to be REALLY old, and more! He gets to ride the rides at Dreamworld, go boogie-boarding at the beach, go snorkeling at the Great Barrier Reef (and talk to the fish–this chapter was my favorite. Very magical! I love the descriptions of the sea life underwater), get some help from a sea turtle and a lorikeet, explore the rainforest, watch loggerhead turtles lay eggs on the beach, and go four wheeling.

I really enjoyed this adventure with little PJ, and think readers young and old will as well!

Make sure you enter this tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win the first book (Canada), your very own stuffed PJ, and a passport sticker book!

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2016 Debut Author Challenge Sign-Ups (+ Giveaway)

November 23, 2015 Debut Author Challenge, Giveaway 83

DAC2016S It’s that time of year again! The 2015 Debut Author Challenge is wrapping up next month, and it’s time to start getting ready for next year’s! The rules are exactly the same as this year’s, and I hope you’ll join us in the fun! I’ve already got about 40 authors lined up for the Debut Dish, and the swag is rolling in for the next round of monthly prize packs!

So, sign up and enter the giveaway! And tell all your friends and 2016 debut author friends as well!


Challenge Objectives:

  • To introduce readers to this year’s wonderful group of debut authors.
  • To challenge readers to read 12 or more (or less! It’s up to you!) middle grade, young adult, and new adult debuts this year.

Challenge Rules:

  • You must post your thoughts on each debut book you read in order for it to count towards the challenge. You can post anywhere: your blog, Goodreads, Amazon, YouTube, Tumblr, etc.
  • You can join the challenge whenever you want.
  • The debuts must have a publishing date in 2016 and must have been read between January 1, 2016 and January 31, 2017 (this extra month allows readers adequate time to read December debuts) in order to count.
  • Each review gives you an entry into the monthly prize pack drawings. Make sure you post the links to my monthly link-ups. I always post these link-ups on the first day of the month.
  • This challenge is open internationally, as are the monthly prize packs.
  • I don’t care what language you write your reviews in, I just need to know which book you have reviewed so I can verify your entry. When you post your link, please include the title in English.
  • Use the hashtag #2016DebAuthC so we can all see what everyone’s up to!

Which Books Count:

  • The book must be classified as a middle grade, young adult, or new adult title.
  • The book must be a full-length novel. Novellas do not count.
  • The book must be the author’s MG/YA/NA 2016 debut. (If the author has published adult fiction before, but this is their first MG/YA/NA book EVER it still counts. If the author has published a YA book before and this is their first MG or NA book, it does not count. We are reading the author’s first book for young people, excluding picture books.)
  • Self-published books do not count, so if the author has self-published a MG/YA/NA book before and this is their first book published by a traditional publisher it counts toward the challenge.
  • ARCs are fine, but only if you read them the year they are published. (If you read a 2016 debut in 2015, it does not count. If you read a 2017 debut in 2016, it does not count. This way, participants who do not have access to ARCs are not at a disadvantage.)
  • Since this challenge is International, some books will be debuts in some countries and not in others. This can be tricky and put some books into a gray area, so here’s what we will do. If the book came out this year in your country for the first time, even though it was available elsewhere, then you can count it.
  • Please feel free to tweet, email, etc. me if you do not know if a book counts or not. I am happy to help you.

Helpful Links:

Challenge Button:

That Artsy Reader Girl

Sign up here!

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The Debut Dish: Stacie Ramey and Kate McGovern (+ Giveaway)

November 15, 2015 Author Interview, Debut Author Challenge, Debut Dish, Giveaway 0

The Debut Dish, a 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?

The Sister Pact by Stacie Ramey
November 3, 2015 from Sourcebooks Fire
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

A suicide pact was supposed to keep them together, but a broken promise tore them apart.

Allie is devastated when her older sister commits suicide – and not just because she misses her. Allie feels betrayed. The two made a pact that they’d always be together, in life, and in death, but Leah broke her promise and Allie needs to know why.

Her parents hover. Her friends try to support her. And Nick, sweet Nick, keeps calling and flirting. Their sympathy only intensifies her grief.

But the more she clings to Leah, the more secrets surface. Allie’s not sure which is more distressing: discovering the truth behind her sister’s death or facing her new reality without her.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Surviving sister wonders why.

Why should readers pick up your book?
It’s a story about sisters whose bond lasts beyond the grave, but not in a creepy way. At least I don’t think it’s creepy. Hmmm…better hear what you all think about that…

What’s the best thing about being a debut author?
Everything is wonderful about being a debut author. Fan Tweets are awesome. Reviews are cool. Having people tell me they’re rooting for me is amazing!

What’s your favorite movie theater candy?
Snowcaps, definitely. And Twizzlers….I can’t choose one (sorry)

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
The gold nameplate from my Dad’s office. I like to see his name every day. The weird thing is I don’t know where the other part is, you know the wooden or fake wooden part. It’s like someone peeled this off and just left it.

Rules for 50/50 Chances by Kate McGovern
November 24, 2015 from Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
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A heartrending but ultimately uplifting debut novel about learning to accept life’s uncertainties; a perfect fit for the current trend in contemporary realistic novels that confront issues about life, death, and love.

Seventeen-year-old Rose Levenson has a decision to make: Does she want to know how she’s going to die? Because when Rose turns eighteen, she can take the test that will tell her if she carries the genetic mutation for Huntington’s disease, the degenerative condition that is slowly killing her mother. With a fifty-fifty shot at inheriting her family’s genetic curse, Rose is skeptical about pursuing anything that presumes she’ll live to be a healthy adult—including going to ballet school and the possibility of falling in love. But when she meets a boy from a similarly flawed genetic pool, and gets an audition for a dance scholarship in California, Rose begins to question her carefully-laid rules.

Describe your book in five words or less.
One girl’s genetic destiny…revealed?

Why should readers pick up your book?
Even though Rose’s circumstances are unique, the questions she’s grappling with—what kind of life do I want to live? What kind of risks do I want to take with my heart and my future?—are universal. If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to see into your future, you should pick up this book. Or…if you just love books about teens dealing with tough stuff, falling in love, following their hearts…and riding trains across the country!…you should pick it up.

What’s the best thing about being a debut author?
It’s living out a lifelong dream. Writing a book and putting it out into the world is something I’ve always, always wanted to do. I used to tell myself stories all the time when I was little (often while pacing around my bedroom…I was an odd duck). There’s nothing like seeing this story from your head become a real book—nothing like it. I’m so grateful to everyone who has helped that happen—especially the readers!

What’s your favorite movie theater candy?
Popcorn + M&Ms…mixed together. Best. Combination. Ever.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
Let’s see…a flash drive with photos from 2009 when I was living in London, a stack of books I haven’t read yet, and nail polish. (I tend to paint my nails when I get stuck on something.)

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#JointheResistance and Enter to Win a Copy of Cinder by Marissa Meyer

November 5, 2015 Book Spotlight, Giveaway 3


You’d have to be living under a rock if you didn’t know that Winter by Marissa Meyer, the conclusion to the best series ever (The Lunar Chronicles), is coming out in less than one week! The question is: Are you ready? If you’re not, the lovely people at Macmillan have got you covered! As addicting as this series is, I know you’ll fly through all the books in time to join us in reading Winter on November 10th. I assure you, I’ll be stalking my mailman that day. I think we all will. So, join us! Enter to win a paperback copy of Cinder (the first book in the series), a Winter button, and some Lunar Chronicles shimmer tattoos (I’m modeling some of them below). And, do yourself a favor… just go pre-order the rest of the series as well (Winter even has an awesome pre-order giveaway going on right now). You’ll thank me later.


While you’re here, check out my reviews of Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Fairest (just in case you needed any more coaxing).

Here’s what you can win!


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