Posts Categorized: Giveaway

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)
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

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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The Debut Dish: Marcy Beller Paul (+ Giveaway), E. Katherine Kotteras, and Charlotte Huang (+ Giveaway)

November 1, 2015 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?

Underneath Everything by Marcy Beller Paul
October 25, 2015 from Balzer + Bray
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

Mattie shouldn’t be at the bonfire. She should be finding new maps for her collection, hanging out with Kris, and steering clear of almost everyone else, especially Jolene. After all, Mattie and Kris dropped off the social scene the summer after sophomore year for a reason.

But now Mattie is a senior, and she’s sick of missing things. So here she is.

And there’s Jolene: Beautiful. Captivating. Just like the stories she wove. Mattie would know; she used to star in them. She and Jolene were best friends. Mattie has the scar on her palm to prove it, and Jolene has everything else, including Hudson.

But when Mattie runs into Hudson and gets a glimpse of what could have been, she decides to take it all back: the boyfriend, the friends, the life she was supposed to live. Problem is, Mattie can’t figure out where Jolene ends and she begins.

Because there’s something Mattie hasn’t told anyone—she walked away from Jolene over a year ago, but she never really left.

Poignant and provocative, Marcy Beller Paul’s debut novel tells the story of an intoxicating—and toxic—relationship that blurs the boundary between reality and fantasy, love and loyalty, friendship and obsession.

Describe your book in five words or less.
A toxic–and intoxicating–relationship.

Why should readers pick up your book?
Because the relationships you have with your friends and boyfriends/girlfriends aren’t always what you think they are. Because you aren’t always who you think you are.

What’s the best thing about being a debut author?
The community. I’ve met such a huge and wonderful base of authors, agents, bloggers, fans, and publishing people. It is amazing to be surrounded by and supported by such caring, intelligent, enthusiastic, talented people.

What’s your favorite movie theater candy?
Twizzlers. By a long shot.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
An Eric Northman (True Blood) figure.

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How to Be Brave by E. Katherine Kotteras
November 3, 2015 from St. Martin’s Press
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

An emotional contemporary YA novel about love, loss, and having the courage to chase the life you truly want.

Reeling from her mother’s death, Georgia has a choice: become lost in her own pain, or enjoy life right now, while she still can. She decides to start really living for the first time and makes a list of fifteen ways to be brave – all the things she’s wanted to do but never had the courage to try. As she begins doing the things she’s always been afraid to do – including pursuing her secret crush, she discovers that life doesn’t always go according to plan. Sometimes friendships fall apart and love breaks your heart. But once in a while, the right person shows up just when you need them most – and you learn that you’re stronger and braver than you ever imagined.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Be Brave. Do Everything.

Why should readers pick up your book?
There’s an invisible question mark at the end of the title.

What’s the best thing about being a debut author?
Meeting new people.

What’s your favorite movie theater candy?

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
My cat. Not sure if that’s odd. She’s odd, though. I think that counts.

For the Record by Charlotte Huang
November 10, 2015 from Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

If Almost Famous were a YA novel… a raw, honest debut celebrating music, friendship, romance, and life on the road.

Chelsea thought she knew what being a rock star was like… until she became one. After losing a TV talent show, she slid back into small-town anonymity. But one phone call changed everything Now she’s the lead singer of the band Melbourne, performing in sold-out clubs every night and living on a bus with three gorgeous and talented guys. The bummer is that the band barely tolerates her. And when teen heartthrob Lucas Rivers take an interest in her, Chelsea is suddenly famous, bringing Melbourne to the next level—not that they’re happy about that. Her feelings for Beckett, Melbourne’s bassist, are making life even more complicated.

Chelsea only has the summer tour to make the band—and their fans—love her. If she doesn’t, she’ll be back in Michigan for senior year, dying a slow death. The paparazzi, the haters, the grueling schedule… Chelsea believed she could handle it. But what if she can’t?

Describe your book in five words or less.
Fun look at band life.

Why should readers pick up your book?
I think readers will enjoy FOR THE RECORD for the glimpse it gives into a world that we don’t normally get to experience. The main character, Chelsea, is a normal high school girl who has to figure out how to navigate an onslaught of new things all at once: fronting an established rock band, stretching herself creatively, band politics, fame, romance, and being on her own for the first time. It’s an exciting, overwhelming time for her and we get to go along for the ride.

What’s the best thing about being a debut author?
Getting to be part of the wonderful community of authors, both here in LA and online. There are so many interesting and nice people and it’s great to be with people who speak books and publishing.

What’s your favorite movie theater candy?
Anything gummy. But my favorite movie theater serves fresh caramel covered popcorn and I love it.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
A Parisian-themed coloring book for grown ups or teens.

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The Debut Dish: Randy Ribay (+ Giveaway)

October 11, 2015 Author Interview, Debut Author Challenge, Debut Dish, Giveaway 4

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?

An Infinite Number of Parallel Universes by Randy Ribay
October 16, 2015 from Merit Press
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

As their senior year approaches, four diverse friends joined by their weekly Dungeons & Dragons game struggle to figure out real life. Archie’s trying to cope with the lingering effects of his parents’ divorce, Mari’s considering an opportunity to contact her biological mother, Dante’s working up the courage to come out to his friends, and Sam’s clinging to a failing relationship. The four eventually embark on a cross-country road trip in an attempt to solve–or to avoid–their problems.

Told in the narrative style of Akira Kurosawa’s Rashoman, An Infinite Number of Parallel Universes is at turns geeky, funny, and lyrical as it tells a story about that time in life when friends need each other to become more than just people that hang out.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Nerdy friends take road trip.

Why should readers pick up your book?
Personally, I love my geeky/diverse/outsider characters, and I hope readers will, too!

What’s the best thing about being a debut author?
I love the support I’ve received from other debut authors. It’s a roller coaster ride of emotions, and it’s a beautiful thing to be able to talk about it with others in a similar situation.

What’s your favorite movie theater candy?
Reese’s Pieces. Though, I usually buy them somewhere where they are reasonably priced and then smuggle them into the theater.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
Probably a bag full of souvenirs from Harry Potter World, among which is my new wand and Gryffindor scarf.

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Interview with Jess from Literary, etc. | Blog Friends Forever Blog Hop (+ Giveaways)

October 3, 2015 Blog Tour, Giveaway 26

Interview with Jess from Literary, etc. | Blog Friends Forever Blog Hop (+ Giveaways)

How fun is this Blog Friends Forever Hop!? I’m so excited to be a part of it! Thanks so much to Erin, Jaime, Kassiah, and Meg for hosting! Visit our lovely hosts at Swoony Boys Pocast and Fiction Fare. Today I’m interviewing Jess from Literary, etc.! I was her secret sister last round, and we have become the best of friends. I thought it would be fun to feature her for my stop!

1. Tell us a little about your blog!
Back in 2012, I met a few readers who were all into a book series (and no it wasn’t Fifty Shades. LOL) and it was a fun talking to them about books. A few of us decided to create a book blog and I was a blogger there for about 4 months. I left due to differences in direction and I really liked blogging so I decided to go on my own.

As for the name Literary, etc.? Oh dear…I struggled with a name after I left the previous blog (the name they are using, I came up with it). I went through a series of names before settling on Literary, etc. because I wanted the blog to be a little about everything associated with books. Whether it is a recipe appearing in a book or a painting or even an adaptation of a book, I wanted a place that went a little further into a book.

December 19th will mark 3 years blogging at Lit, etc. This past year I haven’t blogged as much as I would have liked to, but every blogger goes through their ups and downs. I’m starting to move away from ARCs and read what I want to. I have a large TBR pile that I’d really like to tackle.

2. What is your proudest blogging moment?
Proudest blogging moment? Finding myself quoted in a book five months after I’d been blogging on my own. I picked up a copy of Jessica Lemmon’s Hard to Handle (the second in her Love in the Balance series) and there I was quoted. In fact, if you pick up a few of Lemmon’s books, that quote is still there for Tempting the Billionaire along with the old url!

3. What’s your favorite book EVER? Why?
My fall back response is Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind because I adore the film and am collector of all things GWTW. Plus the film is special to me because I first saw it with my grandma (my father’s mother) and she loved the film! She often said it was her favorite film and it’s something we shared. She passed away last December and GWTW will be forever tied to her.

In reality, I love Gaston Leroux’s Phantom of the Opera (so different from the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical that most of us know) and it’s a pity that more people haven’t read the book. It’s a detective type novel where Leroux was inspired by real life events and you’re on this journey to find out who Erik really is. There’s a torture chamber, unrequited love, and redemption.

Kid me would say Scott O’Dell’s Island of the Blue Dolphins! I adored that book! I checked it out of the library every chance I could and would rent the movie often. Sadly, I don’t have a copy of the book. It’s about a young girl stranded on an island off the coast of California where her brother dies. She has to learn how to hunt and basically support herself. She tamed a dog that she names Rontu.

4. Take this quiz: What’s your reading personality? Do you agree with the result?
I got: The Serial Reader

You may read a lot or a little, but either way you’re a publisher’s dream, because once you discover a favorite writer you stick with him/her through thick and thin and eagerly await the next in the series; but even you need to discover some new blood from time to time!

Oooh, that’s pretty spot on! I do have my favorites and have been known to go back to read an author’s entire backlist once I discover them. Lately, I find myself not clamoring to buy book x in series y as fast as I used to. I now tend to wait and sometimes I worry if I’m losing interest.

5. What is your ideal reading situation? 
Ideal reading situation is a large comfy chair with a blanket next to window where it’s probably raining, snowing, or just plain cold. A large cup of hot chocolate or tea is on the table next to me where I get lost in the world I’m reading. Hopefully I’m being transported to Regency / Victorian England where I can help solve a mystery or am falling in love with a mysterious Duke! Failing all that, my bed is pretty ideal for reading where I just turn off the lights and read in the dark.

6. Say you won an all-expense paid night out with your favorite author. Who would it be, and what would you two do?
All expense paid night out with my fave author? Oh dear…I’m going to say Charles Finch. We’d go to England and would traipse around London where we could walk in the footsteps of his gentleman detective, Charles Lenox. Afterwards we could sit in a pub and have a few pints talking about anything while I enjoy a good steak and ale pie with a side of mashed potatoes and a serving of peas (can you tell I’m what I’m craving? LOL).

7. What are some of your hobbies outside of reading?
Lately, I’ve found a passion for cooking. I’ve always enjoyed it, but I find myself recording shows off the Food Network. I love Ree Drummond (aka the Pioneer Woman) and sometimes I disagree with the way she makes something! For example, she did a recipe for red enchiladas and used powdered red chile (nothing wrong with that), but then included a can of tomato sauce. I was shouting “no” at the television. Red chile pods are so easy to use and I wished she had used that. I only use a can of tomato sauce when the chile sauce is extremely hot to tone down the heat. Her recipe wasn’t using it for that and she also used bell peppers (ewww, no). Or this one time she made green chile enchiladas (what’s with me and enchiladas?), and used a can of enchilada sauce. Again, it’s easy to find canned green chile and using a can of cream of mushroom would have produced a much tastier enchilada. Just simply use a blender and blend the green chile and cream of mushroom to make the sauce.

I also collect postcards. I love to receive them and go to antique shops to see if they have any used postcards. I have someone’s entire trip to Europe in 1914 (before World War 1), written on the back of postcards. Every place they went to, they’d write what they saw. I have no idea who they are, but it’s pretty neat to see the world at that time through their eyes.

8. What would you say is your best characteristic/personality trait?
I think my best characteristic is smile and friendliness. At work, the Veterans always mention my smile and how they love it. Historical romance author, Celeste Bradley once told me my smile was like an angel’s (and I have no idea what she means! I mean, have you seen the smiles on some of those creepy angel statues?).

9. What’s your favorite dessert? Snack food? Drink?
Favorite dessert is cheesecake or key lime pie and I admit, it’s because of the graham cracker crust! Snack food depends on what I’m doing. If I’m taking classes, I love sunflower seeds! In general it’s popcorn (popcorn with slices of cheddar has been my dinner more often than I care to count). As for drink-I can’t say no to a good scotch (I wrote my entire master’s thesis drinking it! LOL). In general, I love a good iced tea.

10. I know you enjoy traveling. What’s been your favorite destination, and where do you hope to go in the future?
My favorite place to date was the Isle of Skye in Scotland! Portree is the capital and it was so quaint! I didn’t spend much time there, but did check out a bakery and I still dream of the baked goods! Glencoe in the Highlands was hauntingly beautiful. In 1692 Clan MacDonald was massacred by members of Clan Campbell on behalf of William III because the MacDonald’s didn’t pledge their support to William. I still can’t find the words to describe what it felt like being in the glen where this horrible event took place.

As for future travel, I’m actually in the midst of planning a trip to Europe with one of my besties! We keep adding where we’d like to go and we need to cut back because I doubt work will let me take off for that long of a time period! One can dream right? I do hope to be back in Scotland next Christmas / New Year’s and say hello to my dear Glasgow (I miss her so much!). In late February, I’ll be in Denver and maybe Dallas in April. I know BEA is in Chicago this year, not sure if I can make that happen, but we’ll see!

Note from Jana: Jess, I really want to go on your Europe trip! I miss it!

In the spirit of blog love, I’ve got some giveaways for you! The first one is a hop wide giveaway, which will have three winners. The second one is hosted by me, and it’s for a book off your wish list! I did this once before, and it was so much fun!

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Visit the other blogs who are posting with me today!

Mostly YA Lit
Books in My Suitcase

Most Adorkable Moment | First & Then Book Superlative Blog Tour (+ Giveaway)

September 30, 2015 Blog Tour, Giveaway, Guest Post 6


Welcome to my spot along the First & Then blog tour! And what a fun tour it is! Macmillan has put together a senior superlatives blog tour to celebrate high school and Emma Mills and her debut book, First & Then! Each stop along the tour has its own senior superlative (like the ones given out in the yearbook every year), and those bloggers get to share their favorite books that fit the theme of the superlative! Emma is appearing on many of the blogs to discuss her high school life and talk about her book. It has been a very fun tour so far!

So, my superlative is SO much fun! It’s “Most Adorkable Moment”. Instead of moments, I’m going to be talking about five of my very favorite adorkable boys in YA lit! Before I jump in, though, let’s define “adorkable”. Urban dictionary says it best:


This list was so much harder to compile than I thought it would be! I’ve got so many book boyfriends, and I tend to gravitate towards the adorkable ones. It can be so hard to explain why a boy is adorkable, though. You just have to read about him and see him in action to get the full picture. So basically… read all of the following books, but don’t steal my boyfriends!


Dash from Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan– He’s a quirky bookish hipster nerd whose biggest wish in life is to own his own 22-volume Oxford English Dictionary.

Captain Carswell Thorne from The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer – He’s full of so much snark and sarcasm. I just know his one-liners will be referenced forever. In Cress he becomes so tender and sweet and you can tell he’s embarrassed by it. So adorkable.

Rowan from Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard – He’s this reformed bad-boy with a travel bug who hops around from destination to destination teaching diving courses and backpacking to hole-in-the-wall hostels where everyone already knows him. He just sounds pretty darn amazing. He’s really mysterious and hardened, but a softy when his walls are torn down. And even better: he’s bookish.

Julien from Starry Nights by Daisy Whitney – He is such a sweet, caring guy who loves art. Literally. He spends all of his free time wandering the art museum, and ends up falling in love with a girl in a Renoir painting. They spend time floating on a boat in Van Gogh’s Starry Night, they dance in another, they watch Swan Lake performed by Degas’s dancers, they spend an afternoon on the bridge in Monet’s garden.

Jason from Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill – He calls Julia Book Licker! Come on! He is her polar opposite, her arch nemesis, and the thorn in her side. But he’s funny and suave and cute, and he’s getting her to do all these new things and experience London in a way that she never predicted. And he can be so sweet and concerned sometimes. And boy, does he pick on her! I loved watching him burrow his way into the little soft spot she formed for him. His dorkiest moment is when he gets drunk… hilarious.

Which of my choices do you agree with? Who am I missing?

Emma Mills’s Most Adorkable High School Moment

“Adorkable” is probably pretty subjective, but if I had to pick out one high school moment of mine that could likely be termed as such, it would likely be when my friends and I staged and filmed a recreation of the Battle of the Rohan in our high school cafeteria. It was a follow-up to the LOTR: Fellowship of the Ring that we re-created (scene by scene!) in junior high. We loved those films, and wanted to put our own spin on them!

I still have the footage. Needless to say, it doesn’t quite hold up, but it makes me chuckle nonetheless!

First & Then by Emma Mills
Published by Henry Holt and Company on October 13, 2015
Genres: Romance, Contemporary, Young Adult
Amazon • Add to Goodreads

Devon Tennyson wouldn’t change a thing. She’s happy watching Friday night games from the bleachers, silently crushing on best friend Cas, and blissfully ignoring the future after high school. But the universe has other plans. It delivers Devon’s cousin Foster, an unrepentant social outlier with a surprising talent for football, and the obnoxiously superior and maddeningly attractive star running back, Ezra, right where she doesn’t want them first into her P.E. class and then into every other aspect of her life.

Pride and Prejudice meets Friday Night Lights in this contemporary novel about falling in love with the unexpected boy, with a new brother, and with yourself.

Make sure you visit all the other blogs on this tour for more great book recommendations! I’ve had so much fun jumping around, and I hope you do too! And don’t forget to enter to win your own copy of First & Then! This giveaway is sponsored by Macmillan, so thanks to them!


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The Debut Dish: Laurel Gale and Lindsay Francis Brambles (+ Giveaway)

September 27, 2015 Author Interview, Debut Author Challenge, Debut Dish, Giveaway 3

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?

Dead Boy by Laurel Gale
September 29, 2015 from Crown Books for Young Readers
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

A darkly funny and literary debut novel about a dead boy named Crow who has a chance at friendship – and a chance at getting his life back

Just because you’re dead doesn’t mean you don’t deserve a life.

Crow Darlingson died in the 4th grade. But he’s still alive. And growing, actually. He can’t eat or taste anything, his body parts sometimes fall off (mom always sews them back on, though), and he’s only allowed to leave his house once per year, on Halloween.

Crow’s parents are separating, and despite their reassurances, he’s pretty sure it’s his fault. After all, having an undead son can’t be much easier than being one. Sneaking out at night only makes things worse, but he can’t resist the chance at a real friendship with Melody Plympton, the new girl next door, who loves mystery more than she minds the stink of his flesh or the maggots that sometimes crawl out of his nose.

Together they investigate the mysterious Meera – a monster living in the nearby park. Logic and fear tell Crow to stay away, but fuzzy memories lure him on. When Crow and Melody venture into its underground lair, Crow’s not just risking the half-life he clings to. He’s also risking the only friend he’s had in years.

The importance of friendship is crystallized as Crow and Melody face tests of loyalty, courage, and honor in this macabre middle grade novel by a debut author.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Funny, sweet, but also maggoty.

Why should readers pick up your book?
Dead Boy has a lot of adventure in it, but it also has plenty of heart and more than a little dark humor. I’d recommend it to anyone looking for a fun middle grade read. (Okay, I’d recommend it to anyone period, but I’m possibly just a tiny bit biased.)

What’s the best thing about being a debut author?
Having such a talented artist illustrate the things that used to exist only in my heart.

What’s your favorite movie theater candy?

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

Becoming Darkness by Lindsay Francis Brambles
October 1, 2015 from Switch Press
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

Like everyone else living in Haven, seventeen-year-old Sophie Harkness is an Immune–a carrier of the genetic mutation that protects her from the virus Hitler unleashed upon the world more than half a century ago. A virus that wiped out most of humanity and turned two-hundred million people into vamps. But after her best friend is brutally murdered and several attempts are made on her own life, Sophie becomes determined to find answers to what seems to be a conspiracy running generations deep. And when she questions the peace treaty that keeps her small community protected, Sophie begins to discover terrible truths about herself and what it means to be human in a world ruled by darkness.

Lindsay Brambles’ debut young adult novel is a story of an alternate universe: Hitler won the war, our modern technologies never evolved, and the Nazis’ terrifying reign still continues. This fast-paced novel will appeal to readers who guzzle up genre mashups and are looking for a fresh hybrid to sweep them away.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Alternate history dystopian mystery mashup.

Why should readers pick up your book?
It would be pretentious of me to suggest I’ve written something that is unlike anything else out there, but if you enjoy a book with a plot that contains numerous unexpected twists and turns, that makes you think it’s going in one direction and then unexpectedly yanks you in another, then this may be the book for you. It’s an alternate history where the path that history took during World War II is markedly different from that of our own world, resulting in a dystopian setting in which the main character, Sophie Harkness, gets drawn into a mystery and conspiracy generations deep — one that has at its core a secret that will shake the very foundations of her perceptions of the world she lives in.

I wrote Sophie to be seriously flawed; I wanted her to be believable. So she starts out a naïve, seventeen year old woman who has lived a somewhat cloistered life, and because of this she’s unprepared for what confronts her. As a consequence, she makes a lot of foolish, frustrating choices. But she’s also determined, stubborn, a bit impulsive, and full of a moral certainty as to how the world should work — all traits that work for her and against her. So if you want a book in which the main character is far from perfect and doesn’t end up perfect at the end but does end up altered by her experiences, then you should enjoy this.

BECOMING DARKNESS is a mashup of genres, so you not only get alternate history, but also dystopia, some vampire and gothic horror, a touch of romance, dashes of action-thriller and a healthy dollop of mystery. I was inspired by Bram Stoker’s DRACULA, Philip K. Dick’s THE MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE, and real life events — including some elements of my own life. At the same time, I tried hard to make the book as original as possible. And while there’s nothing new under the sun, as the saying goes, I do hope readers will find this different from anything else they’ve read.

Of course, I also want people to get other things out of the book besides a rollercoaster ride of entertainment. I’d like it to challenge their notions of what is and isn’t morally right — without making that choice for them. If readers come away thinking about that sort of thing, then that’s great. However, I won’t be disappointed if they finish the book feeling nothing more than entertained. A book if successful, after all, should be many different things to many different people. Each reader will take away from it something uniquely personal. In that respect, the book becomes the reader’s and is no longer the writer’s.

As a writer, I don’t expect to change the world with a book. But if I can generate some sort of emotional response from a reader, then I’ll feel I’ve achieved something. Ultimately, I believe, that’s the objective of all art, regardless of form.

What’s the best thing about being a debut author?
Well, of course, I’m new to all this, so I’ve had a lot of experiences in the last few years that have been pretty incredible. For me, from my relationship with my agent to my dealings with Switch Press, everything has been simply fantastic and a really joy. But hands down the greatest reward has to be the readers.

For years I basically wrote for myself and turned out a lot of books I never had any intention of seeking to publish because I just didn’t think them worthy. But after I finished BECOMING DARKNESS, I thought I finally had something others might actually like to read. So now that the book is out there and I’m getting feedback from people I don’t know (as opposed to friends and family), the feeling is sublime.

I realize that not everyone is going to like my book, but whenever someone does and expresses that, I am overwhelmed. Each time it happens, it’s like opening a present and finding inside the very thing you so passionately wished for. It makes all the long hours spent alone writing more than worth it.

The only thing that may come close to that is when I finally see my book sitting on the shelves at a bookstore. That’s a dream I’ve had since I was a kid, and I’ll definitely savor it. But the readers are still number one, and they should be. After all, what is a writer without readers? Readers make a writer who he/she is; they’re responsible for a writer’s success or failure — in the sense that once a book is released, it’s out of the writer’s hands and the readers have control. If they buy the book and like it, then as a writer I may get the chance to write another, which is what I really want to do.

What’s your favorite movie theater candy?
I have a weakness for Reese’s Pieces. I’m afraid I could consume copious amounts of them if I wasn’t disciplined. Fortunately, I am (disciplined), otherwise I’d probably be the size of a house.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
I’d love to be able to say a tyrannosaurus rex tooth or a canopic jar from ancient Egypt or something equally intriguing, but it’s a little more mundane and considerably less exotic than either of those.

Right now my desk is littered with notebooks full of ideas and roughed out scenes, reference books, some electronic stuff, a soldering iron, and a toy tin rocket that’s a replica of one I had when I was about four years old. Not exactly a plethora of esoteric, so I guess the rocket would have to constitute the oddest of this lot.

The rocket is one you rev up by rolling it a few times on the ground, then let it go. When it hits the wall the metal probe at the tip triggers a release that makes the rocket stand upright on its fins. A door in the side pops open and a ladder comes down.

I’ve loved space since I can remember, and rockets have always been a big thing with me. That toy is a reminder of some great times I had as a child — a connection to a past I recall with increasing fondness as I get older.

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