The Debut Dish 2017: Stephanie Elliot, Laurie Devore, Diana Gallagher, and L.E. Delano (+ Giveaways)

February 5, 2017 Author Interview, Debut Author Challenge, Debut Dish, Giveaway 16

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

This issue of The Debut Dish features Stephanie Elliot (Sad Perfect), Laurie Devore (How to Break a Boy), Diana Gallagher (Lessons In Falling), and L.E. Delano (Traveler).


Sad Perfect by Stephanie Elliot
February 28, 2017 from Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

The story of a teen girl’s struggle with Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder and how love helps her on the road to recovery.

Sixteen-year-old Pea looks normal, but she has a secret: she has Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID). It is like having a monster inside of her, one that not only dictates what she can eat, but also causes anxiety, depression, and thoughts that she doesn’t want to have. When she falls crazy-mad in love with Ben, she hides her disorder from him, pretending that she’s fine. At first, everything really does feel like it’s getting better with him around, so she stops taking her anxiety and depression medication. And that’s when the monster really takes over her life. Just as everything seems lost and hopeless, Pea finds in her family, and in Ben, the support and strength she needs to learn that her eating disorder doesn’t have to control her.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Girl with eating disorder struggles.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
My favorite scene is the opening chapters. I didn’t set out to write a novel. My teen daughter had come home from a river rafting trip and she met a boy on the river that day. It sounded like the best day and just so adorable so I wanted to write a vignette about how I thought her experience went. I sat down to write about it — the rafting, the holding hands, the sun on her skin. The next thing you know I didn’t stop writing for three months!

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
Love this question! I was getting ready to walk into a yoga class and the teacher is very strict about being late. The call came in and I looked at the teacher and was like, “I have to take this call.” After I took the call from my agent, I wasn’t sure what to do. I didn’t want to call anyone to share the news so I just walked into yoga class and did yoga, trying to be all zen-like about it! But I was freaking out inside!!

What’s your favorite junk food?
If pizza is a junk food, then pizza. But i think that pizza is a basic food group. I guess I would say Salt and Vinegar kettle chips.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
A bar of Lotion … like handmade lotion in a bar form. And the scent is Arizona Rain. Since I live in Arizona and it never rains they bottle up the smell for you.

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How to Break a Boy by Laurie Devore
January 31, 2017 from Imprint
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Keep your enemies close, but your friends closer.

Olivia Clayton has mastered the art of tearing others down to stay on top. She and her best friend, Adrienne, rule their small southern town like all good mean girls do–through intimidation and manipulation.

After Olivia suffers a family tragedy and catches Adrienne sleeping with her boyfriend, Olivia is over it. She decides to make a change–but it’s impossible to resist taking Adrienne down one last time. Up to her old tricks, Olivia convinces golden boy Whit DuRant to be her SAT tutor and her fake boyfriend. But when it starts to feel real, Whit gets caught up in Olivia and Adrienne’s war.

Olivia may ruin everything she touches, but this time she won’t go down without a fight–not if it means losing Whit.

And definitely not if it means losing what’s left of herself.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Mean girls, secrets, fake relationships.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
Ah, how to not be spoilery here…there’s a scene about three fourths through the book where Olivia and her ex-best friend Adrienne have a major showdown. This causes Olivia to go on a really destructive tear with Whit trying to stop her – it’s the perfect amount of her finally acknowledging the pain she feels and coming face-to-face with all her screw-ups and how much she hates the person she’s become. It really feels like a turning point where Olivia realizes the whole deck of cards she’s built is about to come crashing down and I love all the angst that brings to the surface.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
I was in a Tiki bar called Three Dots and a Dash in downtown Chicago for a work event when my agent called me. The best part of finding out at Three Dots was that I later found out my editor LOVES Tiki bars and we were able to go visit it together when she came to Chicago.

What’s your favorite junk food?
Any baked goods – chocolate chip cookies, brownies, pie – gimme.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
I never actually use my desk so it’s covered in all sorts of things – books, nail polish, golf balls.

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Lessons In Falling by Diana Gallagher
February 7, 2017 from Spencer Hill Press
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When Savannah Gregory blows out her knee –and her shot at a gymnastics scholarship – she decides she’s done with the sport forever. Without gymnastics, she has more time for her best friend, Cassie. She’s content to let her fun, impulsive best friend plan a memorable senior year.

That is, until Cassie tries to kill herself.

Savannah wants to understand what happened, but Cassie refuses to talk about it and for the first time, Savannah has to find her own way. The only person she can turn to is Marcos, the boy who saved Cassie’s life. Being with him makes her see who she could be and what she really wants: gymnastics.

But Cassie doesn’t approve of Marcos or of Savannah going back to gymnastics, and the tighter she tries to hold onto Savannah, the farther it pulls them apart. Without Cassie to call the shots, Savannah discovers how capable she is on her own—and that maybe her best friend’s been holding her back all along.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Best friends torn apart.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
My favorite scene is the one where Savannah competes at a gymnastics meet for the first time since her injury. It was one of the first scenes I wrote, and I love how it shows Savannah’s emotional growth and newfound willingness to take chances, regardless of the outcome.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
I was living with two awesome writer roommates, so once I received the email, I went straight into the kitchen to tell them!

What’s your favorite junk food?
Dark chocolate, always!

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
A glitter-covered Dia de los Muertos skull.

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Traveler by L.E. Delano
February 7, 2017 from Swoon Reads
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Jessa has spent her life dreaming of other worlds and writing down stories more interesting than her own, until the day her favorite character, Finn, suddenly shows up and invites her out for coffee. After the requisite nervous breakdown, Jessa learns that she and Finn are Travelers, born with the ability to slide through reflections and dreams into alternate realities. But it’s not all steampunk pirates and fantasy lifestyles…Jessa is dying over and over again, in every reality, and Finn is determined that this time, he’s going to stop it… this Jessa is going to live.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Reality shifting YA fantasy romance.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
Jessa steps through a mirror into an alternate steampunk reality and attends her first ball with a dashing pirate.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
In my upstairs bedroom, trying hard not to hyperventilate and pass out before they could finish the offer.

What’s your favorite junk food?
Candy Halloween pumpkins.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
A rather ordinary looking rock. I took it from a shoreline in Ireland, plucked it from the cold Irish Sea. It doesn’t look like much but the history that rock has seen makes it eternal.

Note from the author:
My book also contains a major character on the autism spectrum (non-Aspergers). I am the parent of a child with autism, and I wanted to show someone on the spectrum who wasn’t a “Sheldon Cooper.” It was also important to me to highlight the role of being the sibling of a special needs child, and how that lends greater maturity and resilience to those siblings.

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The Debut Dish 2017: Katherine Arden, Robin Roe, and Kate Hart

January 22, 2017 Author Interview, Debut Author Challenge, Debut Dish 1

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

This issue of The Debut Dish features Katherine Arden (The Bear and the Nightingale), Robin Roe (A List of Cages), and Kate Hart (After the Fall).


The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden
January 10, 2017 from Del Rey
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At the edge of the Russian wilderness, winter lasts most of the year and the snowdrifts grow taller than houses. But Vasilisa doesn’t mind—she spends the winter nights huddled around the embers of a fire with her beloved siblings, listening to her nurse’s fairy tales. Above all, she loves the chilling story of Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon, who appears in the frigid night to claim unwary souls. Wise Russians fear him, her nurse says, and honor the spirits of house and yard and forest that protect their homes from evil.

After Vasilisa’s mother dies, her father goes to Moscow and brings home a new wife. Fiercely devout, city-bred, Vasilisa’s new stepmother forbids her family from honoring the household spirits. The family acquiesces, but Vasilisa is frightened, sensing that more hinges upon their rituals than anyone knows.

And indeed, crops begin to fail, evil creatures of the forest creep nearer, and misfortune stalks the village. All the while, Vasilisa’s stepmother grows ever harsher in her determination to groom her rebellious stepdaughter for either marriage or confinement in a convent.

As danger circles, Vasilisa must defy even the people she loves and call on dangerous gifts she has long concealed—this, in order to protect her family from a threat that seems to have stepped from her nurse’s most frightening tales.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Russian history meets Slavic folklore.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
Without wanting to spoil it, it’s set late at night, at the dead of a very cold winter, and there’s…something…creeping about outside the house.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
In my bedroom. I fell over, missed the bed, and hit the carpet.

What’s your favorite junk food?
Pumpkin Pie. My vice is baking.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
Emptiness? I write in coffee shops mostly, and don’t have a desk.


A List of Cages by Robin Roe
January 10, 2017 from Disney-Hyperion
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

When Adam Blake lands the best elective ever in his senior year, serving as an aide to the school psychologist, he thinks he’s got it made. Sure, it means a lot of sitting around, which isn’t easy for a guy with ADHD, but he can’t complain, since he gets to spend the period texting all his friends. Then the doctor asks him to track down the troubled freshman who keeps dodging her, and Adam discovers that the boy is Julian–the foster brother he hasn’t seen in five years.

Adam is ecstatic to be reunited. At first, Julian seems like the boy he once knew. He’s still kind hearted. He still writes stories and loves picture books meant for little kids. But as they spend more time together, Adam realizes that Julian is keeping secrets, like where he hides during the middle of the day, and what’s really going on inside his house. Adam is determined to help him, but his involvement could cost both boys their lives.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Estranged foster brothers are reunited.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
One of my favorite scenes is when Adam recalls how he met Julian, and we see the bond they forged as children.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
In my car, driving home.

What’s your favorite junk food?
Chocolate donuts.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
A stuffed turtle with really long legs. It’s much cuter than it sounds.


After the Fall by Kate Hart
January 24, 2017 from Farrar, Straus & Giroux
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

A YA debut about a teen girl who wrestles with rumors, reputation, and her relationships with two brothers.

Seventeen-year-old Raychel is sleeping with two boys: her overachieving best friend Matt…and his slacker brother, Andrew. Raychel sneaks into Matt’s bed after nightmares, but nothing ever happens. He doesn’t even seem to realize she’s a girl, except when he decides she needs rescuing. But Raychel doesn’t want to be his girl anyway. She just needs his support as she deals with the classmate who assaulted her, the constant threat of her family’s eviction, and the dream of college slipping quickly out of reach. Matt tries to help, but he doesn’t really get it… and he’d never understand why she’s fallen into a secret relationship with his brother. The friendships are a precarious balance, and when tragedy strikes, everything falls apart. Raychel has to decide which pieces she can pick up – and which ones are worth putting back together.

Describe your book in five words or less.
There’s a lot of crying.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
I love the Music on the Mulberry section because concerts were a huge part of my teenage years. My friends and I saw such a weird variety of shows — everything from BB King to Fiona Apple, Pearl Jam to the Rolling Stones, Widespread Panic to Bela Fleck. For all our adolescent awkwardness, we were always up for being ridiculous on the dance floor, and I hope the music festival scenes capture that release and joy despite everything else that was going on in our lives.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
I was at home, in my bedroom. After the phone call was over, I went into the living room and yelled the news at everyone in the house.

What’s your favorite junk food?
Popcorn made on the stove.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
An adding machine that used to be my grandfather’s. It works better as a paperweight than a calculator but I love it.

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The Debut Dish 2017: Elly Blake, Josh Sundquist, Caroline Leech, Breeana Shields, and Chelsea Sedoti (+ Giveaways)

January 8, 2017 Author Interview, Debut Author Challenge, Debut Dish, Giveaway 22

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

This very first issue of 2017’s The Debut Dish features Elly Blake (Frostblood), Josh Sundquist (Love and First Sight), Caroline Leech (Wait for Me), Breeana Shields (Poison’s Kiss), and Chelsea Sedoti (The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett).


Frostblood by Elly Blake
January 10, 2017 from Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
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Seventeen-year-old Ruby is a fireblood who must hide her powers of heat and flame from the cruel frostblood ruling class that wants to destroy all that are left of her kind. So when her mother is killed for protecting her and rebel frostbloods demand her help to kill their rampaging king, she agrees. But Ruby’s powers are unpredictable, and she’s not sure she’s willing to let the rebels and an infuriating (yet irresistible) young man called Arcus use her as their weapon.

All she wants is revenge, but before they can take action, Ruby is captured and forced to take part in the king’s tournaments that pit fireblood prisoners against frostblood champions. Now she has only one chance to destroy the maniacal ruler who has taken everything from her and from the icy young man she has come to love.

Fast-paced and compelling, Frostblood is the first in a page-turning new young adult three-book series about a world where flame and ice are mortal enemies—but together create a power that could change everything.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Fiery heroine versus frost king.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
I suppose it would have to be the first kiss. I had to take out a line or two that was too suggestive, :D but I still love that scene.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
I was in my car driving to work at the library and had to pull over next to a field so I could take the agent call. :)

What’s your favorite junk food?
Au Caramel cakes. So bad for me! But so good.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
Hmm, a fake flower from the Young Adult chapter of RWA, a cute beenie version of Wonder Woman, a mostly-eaten bag of German chocolate cookies, a post-it note that says “BE YOU.”

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Love and First Sight by Josh Sundquist
January 3, 2017 from Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
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Love is more than meets the eye.

On his first day at a new school, blind sixteen-year-old Will Porter accidentally groped a girl on the stairs, sat on another student in the cafeteria, and somehow drove a classmate to tears. High school can only go up from here, right?

As Will starts to find his footing, he develops a crush on a sweet but shy girl named Cecily. And despite his fear that having a girlfriend will make him inherently dependent on someone sighted, the two of them grow closer and closer. Then an unprecedented opportunity arises: an experimental surgery that could give Will eyesight for the first time in his life. But learning to see is more difficult than Will ever imagined, and he soon discovers that the sighted world has been keeping secrets. It turns out Cecily doesn’t meet traditional definitions of beauty—in fact, everything he’d heard about her appearance was a lie engineered by their so-called friends to get the two of them together. Does it matter what Cecily looks like? No, not really. But then why does Will feel so betrayed?

Describe your book in five words or less.
The title summarizes it nicely.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
There’s a scene in which the two protagonists visit an art museum. The narrator of the book, Will, has been blind from birth. He goes to there with a girl from school named Cecily who is really into art and photography. So we get to experience visual art from Will’s perspective. And we also get to listen to Cecily attend to explain the pieces to him using descriptors he can relate to.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
Standing by the kitchen sink at my fiance’s apartment.

What’s your favorite junk food?
Pizza with pepperoni and jalapeños.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
Unfortunately for the sake of being an interesting interview subject, I keep a pretty neat desk. There’s nothing on it besides my computer, phone, and a sharpie.


Wait for Me by Caroline Leech
January 31, 2017 from Harper TEEN
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The perfect blend of sweet romance and historical flavor, Wait for Me, from debut author Caroline Leech, brings a fresh new voice to a much-loved genre.

It’s 1945, and Lorna Anderson’s life on her father’s farm in Scotland consists of endless chores and rationing, knitting Red Cross scarves, and praying for an Allied victory. So when Paul Vogel, a German prisoner of war, is assigned as the new farmhand, Lorna is appalled. How can she possibly work alongside the enemy when her own brothers are risking their lives for their country?

But as Lorna reluctantly spends time with Paul, she feels herself changing. The more she learns about him—from his time in the war to his life back home in Germany—the more she sees the boy behind the soldier. Soon Lorna is battling her own warring heart. Loving Paul could mean losing her family and the life she’s always known. With tensions rising all around them, Lorna must decide how much she’s willing to sacrifice before the end of the war determines their fate.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Scottish farmgirl – prisoner-of-war – forbidden love
(It’s not cheating – if it’s hyphenated, it only counts as one word, right? Please? I could abbreviate it as POW instead!)

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
There’s a really sweet scene with a dance in the barn, but the one that was most fun to write was the huge fight that Lorna has with her brother. Lots of shouting and screaming the way only siblings can shout and scream.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
I was actually back home in Scotland on vacation, and we were in the middle of a big family party to celebrate my daughter’s eighteenth birthday. I knew my manuscript was being discussed at a meeting in New York that day, so when my phone buzzed in my pocket I had to have a quick look. The only other person that knew about it was my husband, who was sitting on the opposite side of the room. He saw me read the email from the editor at Harper Collins and smile, and he raised his eyebrows as if to say, “Yes?”, so I gave him a nod and forwarded the email for him to read on his phone. The pair of us then sat with the secret for about another hour or so, because we didn’t want to steal my daughter’s evening. We did share the news with everyone at the end of the night though, and I think she was the most excited of us all.

What’s your favorite junk food?
You name it, I love it. But I suppose my absolute favorite is good old British fish and chips, from a real British chip shop. Whenever I’m back home with my husband and kids, we always try to have one “carry-out” from the chippy. Rich crispy batter around a cod fillet, with a big pile of fat chips (they’re much better than American fries), all drizzled with salt and vinegar. Mmmmm, delicious!

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
Right now the oddest thing would be if I could actually see any of my desk surface peeking out from under all the piles of paper. Even calling them piles makes them sound too tidy. I’m hopelessly disorganized, so there are numerous strata of paperwork completely covering any inch that doesn’t have a keyboard or a mouse on it. And you wonder why I normally go to our local Barnes & Noble café or Starbucks to write my books? Having said that, I do have a little stone rabbit and a tiny metal llama which sit on my desk and I play with them when I’m thinking deep thoughts or if I’m on a long phone call.

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Poison’s Kiss by Breeana Shields
January 10, 2017 from Harper TEEN
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A teenage assassin kills with a single kiss until she is ordered to kill the one boy she loves. This commercial YA fantasy is romantic and addictive like– a poison kiss– and will thrill fans of Sarah J. Maas and Victoria Aveyard.

Marinda has kissed dozens of boys. They all die afterward. It s a miserable life, but being a visha kanya a poison maiden is what she was created to do. Marinda serves the Raja by dispatching his enemies with only her lips as a weapon.

Until now, the men she was ordered to kiss have been strangers, enemies of the kingdom. Then she receives orders to kiss Deven, a boy she knows too well to be convinced he needs to die. She begins to question who she s really working for. And that is a thread that, once pulled, will unravel more than she can afford to lose.

This rich, surprising, and accessible debut is based in Indian folklore and delivers a story that will keep readers on the edge of their seats.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Girl with a deadly kiss.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
I have a couple of favorites, but the final scene was a lot of fun to write–we get a little peek of what will be happening in the second book.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
In the drive-through waiting for a Taco. Not kidding.

What’s your favorite junk food?
Lay’s Limon potato chips.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
A little silver elephant–his trunk holds my rings when I take them off to put on lotion.

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The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett by Chelsea Sedoti
January 3, 2017 from Sourcebooks
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A teenage misfit named Hawthorn Creely inserts herself in the investigation of missing person Lizzie Lovett, who disappeared mysteriously while camping with her boyfriend. Hawthorn doesn’t mean to interfere, but she has a pretty crazy theory about what happened to Lizzie. In order to prove it, she decides to immerse herself in Lizzie’s life. That includes taking her job… and her boyfriend. It’s a huge risk — but it’s just what Hawthorn needs to find her own place in the world.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Misfit teen investigates missing person.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
The main character of 100 Lies has a habit of wishing goofy curses on people.

For instance: “I wished every time she microwaved a frozen burrito the center would stay cold.”

It’s not a scene exactly, but coming up with Hawthorn’s curses was definitely one of my favorite things.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
Ah, well, this is odd.

I was actually at a funeral when I found out I was getting published. You could say it was a day of VERY mixed emotions.

What’s your favorite junk food?
Only ONE?

I guess I’ll have to go with red velvet cupcakes. (Though I’m fond of cupcakes of any type.)

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
I currently have two books sitting next to my computer.

1. The Big Book of Baby Names
2. The Encyclopedia of Serial Killers

Sort of an odd combination. But that’s what happens when you research a book.

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

January 4, 2017 Giveaway, Guest Post 8

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


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

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

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

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

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

Like Dylan McCarthy in Lost Girls.

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

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

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

I may have foiled my own chance at romance.

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

Maybe.

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

Maybe Dorothy will get to go home again…

Change that.

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


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

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

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

Black to cover the blood.

And she can fight.

Tell no one.

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

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

The only rule is: There are no rules.


About Merrie Destefano

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

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

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Top Ten 2017 Debut Books I’m Excited About

January 2, 2017 Top Ten Tuesday 5

TTT

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted over at the other blog I write for, The Broke and the Bookish.

Over at The Broke and the Bookish we do this topic every year and I swear it was made for me! As host of the Debut Author Challenge, I’m all over debuts and there are some amazing ones coming out this year! It’s hard to only pick 10, but I’m going to make myself stick to this limit!

1. Caraval by Stephanie Garber: I’ve already read it, and it’s AMAZING. You neeeed to read it! It was beautiful, and absolutely a new favorite of mine!

2. The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden: It’s described as being magical, guys. And it’s Russian! Winter demon… I mean come on.

3. To Catch a Killer by Sheryl Scarborough: Yay mysteries! I love them when they’re done well!

4. Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller: You had me at pirate.

5. The Book Jumper by Mechthild Gläser: I’m reading this now, and it’s pretty fun! The characters can jump into stories and interact with the characters!

6. Seven Days of You by Cecilia Vinesse: Girl has 7 days before she moves to Tokyo… What will she do with those 7 days?

7. When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon: This sounds like a delightful romantic comedy! Two Indian-American teens are arranged to be married someday… Super interesting!

8. And We’re Off by Dana Schwartz: An artsy girl is sent to Europe on an all expenses paid vacation from her grandfather. But there’s a catch… I’m SO IN.

9. The Sandcastle Empire by Kayla Olson: I’ve been craving an exciting dystopia lately, and this one sounds awesome! There’s a war, and the bad guys win and take over the earth. The last neutral place in the world, Sanctuary Island, is where you go to find safety… but this island is not safe at all.

10. Song of the Current by Sarah Tolcser: A fantasy “set along the waterways of a magical world”. That’s ALL I NEEDED.

 

Since you’re here anyway… Sign up for the Debut Author Challenge!
And tell me which debuts you’re excited to read!

That Artsy Reader Girl
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Debut Author Challenge 2017: January-March Review Link-Up

January 1, 2017 Debut Author Challenge 6

Happy New Year! Welcome to the 2017 Debut Author Challenge! I can’t believe another year has gone by! I feel like time is flying. I still remember ringing in the new millennium, which feels like yesterday but was really 17 years ago! What!? I hope you’re excited for another amazing year of reading and a pretty wonderful line-up of 2017 debut books!

Welcome back to all of the returning participants, and for all you shiny new participants, I’m so glad you’ve decided to join! I’ve already gotten to talk with a ton of this year’s debut authors, and they are ready to be interviewed and give things away and love us all for supporting them in their debut year. The thing I love most about this challenge is the opportunity it gives us to give new authors a boost. :)

There have been no changes to last year’s rules, however there has been one small change to the link-ups that I think will make things easier on everyone involved. Instead of monthly review link-ups, we’re doing quarterly review link-ups now! The remaining link-ups will be posted on the first day of April, July, and October. As always, the link-ups will be easily accessible by clicking on the button on the top of my sidebar here on the blog. Remember to post the links to your reviews because the prize packs will be even cooler this year!

Some things to remember:

– For the month of January ONLY, you may link-up your reviews for 2016 debuts. This is great for two reasons: 1. December 2016 debuts get more time. 2. There’s not a lot of 2017 debuts yet!

– This is the review link-up for all debut reviews you write in January, February, and March. This does not mean that the books you review have to be published during these three months. You can read and review any debut, any month of the year.

– In order to get credit for your review, you must have read the book in 2017. If you read an ARC of a 2017 debut in 2016, it does not count. (I don’t want people with access to ARCs to have an advantage over those who don’t.)

– I’m here if you have any questions at all, so don’t hesitate to shoot me a message via Twitter or comment or homing pigeon.

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2016 End of Year Book Survey

December 28, 2016 About Me 6

I love taking part if Jamie’s End of Year Book Survey each year! It’s so much fun to look back on everything I’ve read, not to mention plan ahead a little. Is anyone else in shock that 2017 is in just a few short days??

Note: Links will take you to my review unless I haven’t reviewed it yet. Otherwise, it’s off to Goodreads!

Number of books read: 45 + most of a 46th!
Number of re-reads: 1
Most read genre: Fantasy!! Past Jana would be super surprised by this. Present Jana is super delighted!

1. Best book you read in 2016?
So last year there was a trend to my answers… and this year will be no different. Truth be told, I doubt things will be different until SarahJ. Maas quits writing (don’t let this happen!!). Hands down, my favorite book this year was A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas.

2. Book you were excited about & thought you were going to love?
I was sooooooooo looking forward to The Beauty of Darkness by Mary E. Pearson, and it just did not work for me. I’m so sad, but it’s true. I still love the first two books and I can’t wait for Mary’s next book, though!

3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read?
I’ve never really been a fan of Kasie West (I KNOW), but I LOVED P.S. I Like You so much! It’s a new favorite, and I’m so excited to read more

4. Book you “pushed” the most people to read (and they did)?
I have no idea who read what this year, much less whether or not it was because of me! lol. Besides Sarah J. Maas (duh), I think I’ve recommended Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton more than any other book. I LOVED it!

5. Best series you started in 2016? Best sequel of 2016? Best series-ender of 2016?
Series started: The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye
Sequel: A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas
Series-ender: Winter by Marissa Meyer

6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2016?
I’m not including any debut authors because they are all new and I can’t pick! So… Lucy Christopher! I read Stolen, and really enjoyed it!

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?
I don’t typically read non-fiction, but I read 438 Days: An Extraordinary True Story of Survival by Jonathan Franklin and thought it was so well done. I passed it on to my parents, and they both loved it as well.

8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?
Winter by Marissa Meyer ended with a BANG! I could not put it down, and just loved it to pieces! I am SO SAD that the Lunar Chronicles are over, but at least we’ve got Wires and Nerve (the graphic novels) to look forward to!

9. Book you read in 2016 that you are most likely to re-read next year?
I broke my “I never re-read” rule to prepare for A Court of Mist and Fury this year by re-reading A Court of Thorns and Roses… so chances are pretty good I’ll re-read ACOMAF next year. lol.

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2016?
Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton has a GLORIOUS cover! I’m so annoyed they have re-designed the cover and future covers for the series… I’m so tired of faces on covers. This was unique, and now it’s going to look like every other YA book out there.

11. Most memorable character of 2016?
Logan from The Summer I Became a Nerd by Leah Rae Miller is an adorkable dream.

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2016?
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. Holy crap, this book broke me with its beauty.

13. Most thought-provoking book of 2016?
438 Days: An Extraordinary True Story of Survival by Jonathan Franklin was an amazing reminder that our experiences have the power to change us in monumental ways.

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2016 to finally read?
Stolen: A Letter to My Captor by Lucy Christopher! It’s been on my TBR for YEARS, and I finally made time for it. It was amazing!

15. Favorite passage/quote from a book you read in 2016?
“To the people who look at the stars and wish, Rhys.”
Rhys clinked his glass against mine. “To the stars who listen— and the dreams that are answered.”
― Sarah J. Maas, A Court of Mist and Fury

“People observe the colors of a day only at its beginnings and ends, but to me it’s quite clear that a day merges through a multitude of shades and intonations with each passing moment. A single hour can consist of thousands of different colors. Waxy yellows, cloud-spot blues. Murky darkness. In my line of work, I make it a point to notice them.”
― Markus Zusak, The Book Thief

16. Shortest & longest book you read in 2016?
Shortest: Under the Mistletoe by Jill Shalvis – 80 pages
Longest: Winter by Marissa Meyer – 833 pages

17. Book that shocked you the most? 
Stolen by Lucy Christopher shocked me so many times, but how I felt at the end of it shocked me more than anything else.

18. OTP OF THE YEAR? (you will go down with this ship!)
Rhys and Feyre from A Court of Mist and Fury. (Funny thing, last year my OTP was Tamlin and Feyre and I NEVER would have imagined being ok with her leaving him for Rhys! But I love these two even more!)

19. Favorite non-romantic relationship of the year?
Caitrin and the people of Whistling Tor from Heart’s Blood by Juliet Marillier. Caitrin formed such strong bonds with the people who lived there (Eichri and Rioghan, not to mention the loveable dog Fianchu) as well as the spirits that dwelled in darkness outside.

20. Favorite book you read in 2016 from an author you’ve read previously?
Winter A Court of Mist and FuryI didn’t read many books from authors I’ve read before… This is a close tie between by Marissa Meyer and by Sarah J. Maas.

21. Best book you read in 2016 that you read based SOLELY on a recommendation from somebody else/peer pressure?
738 Days by Stacey Kade. I hadn’t even heard of this one until people started raving about it after BEA this year. While it sounded intriguing enough, I know I would not have read it had it not been for my friends!

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2016?
Hmm. The mystery guy from P.S. I Like you by Kasie West. Naming him would be super spoilery, so there you have it!

23. Best 2016 debut you read?
Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton was SO GOOD!

24. Best worldbuilding/most vivid setting you read this year?
I’m trying to name different books!!! The world in Heir to the Sky by Amanda Sun was pretty awesome. But… I’m sorry, the Night Court and The Court of Dreams in A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas win this award. I can’t stop thinking about these places!

25. Book that put a smile on your face/was the most FUN to read?
P.S. I Like you by Kasie West! It’s so cute!!

26. Book that made you cry or nearly cry in 2016?
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak!!! But alsoHeart’s Blood by Juliet Marillier.

27. Hidden gem of the year?
The Christmas Cabin by J.L. Jarvis is definitely a hidden gem. I think it was my favorite Christmas read this year, and I only randomly stumbled upon it while browsing Amazon. Hardly anyone has read it, but it was super cute and romantic!

28. Book that crushed your soul?
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak wins all the awards for tears and soul crushes.

29. Most unique book you read in 2016?
Ivory & Bone by Julie Eshbaugh is the only book with a prehistoric setting that I’ve ever come across!

30. Book that made you the most mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?
I wanted to love Heartless by Marissa Meyer SO BAD because MARISSA MEYER! But I trudged through it and was so mad that I didn’t. Really, though, I was mad that I’ve never ever liked Alice In Wonderland. lol.

1. Best discussion/non-review post you had on your blog?
I loved posting about my favorite cat videos for the Cat King of Havana blog tour! I also had so much fun putting together a list of my teen heartthrobs for the 738 Days blog tour. The most interesting and popular discussion I had on the blog was when I asked readers what’s the longest book they’ve ever read.

2. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?
The only event I went to this year was the Burning Glass signing with Kathryn Purdie. I had an awful migraine that night, so I didn’t totally enjoy myself unfortunately.

3. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2016?
Back in March I was contacted by the people at BEA’s Book Con and invited to lead a roundtable discussion. I had to say no because I was out of the country during BEA, and I was SO SAD I had to decline!! What an honor! I love blogging, and I always do it for myself. It’s nice to know people actually CARE about what I have to say, enough to think of me for an opportunity like this.

4. Most challenging thing about blogging or your reading life this year?
I seem to have lost my blogging mojo a little. I’m finding myself really struggling to get motivated to write reviews, and I have procrastinated SO MANY of them. I need to work on this.

5. Post you wished got a little more love?
Really, I’ve seen the same steady decline of comments that all the book bloggers have been seeing. I miss the good old days when awesome discussions happened in the comments of all my posts!

6. Best bookish discovery (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?
I’d ben hearing about Book Outlet, but never found anything I wanted. Then I had bookish friends list things on their wishlists that were available there, and I’ve been able to afford sending some gifts this year!

7. Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?
I completed my Goodreads reading challenge, the Contemporary Romance Challenge reading challenge, the Prequel and Sequel reading challenge, and the TBR reading challenge. The only ones I did not complete were the Netgalley challenge because Edelweiss books don’t count and the Debut Author Challenge because I suck at following my own rules!

1. One book you didn’t get to in 2016 but will be your #1 priority in 2017?
Nemesis by Anna Banks.

2. Book you are most anticipating for 2017 (non-debut)?
Big surprise… A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas.

3. 2017 debut you are most anticipating?
Caraval by Stephanie Garber.

4. Series ending/a sequel you are most anticipating in 2017?
A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas!! The Crown’s Fate by Evelyn Skye is another one. And Traitor to the Throne by Alwyn Hamilton!

5. One thing you hope to accomplish/do in your reading/blogging life in 2017?
Revitalize! My blog and my reading life both suffered a lot while I was in grad school, but I graduated a couple weeks ago and hopefully my life will level out soon and allow more time for hobbies again!

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Merry Christmas 2016!

December 25, 2016 Personal 2

Merry Christmas, everyone! I can’t believe it’s here already. I feel like time is flying! I’ve had so much fun talking Christmas all month, and I hope you have too! Today I’m going to spending time with my family, opening presents, eating yummy food, and focusing on what this season means to me. If you celebrate, I hope you have a very lovely Christmas and that today will be everything you’ve wished and hoped for it to be.

What are some of your Christmas Day traditions?

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My Obsession with Christmas Lights

December 24, 2016 About Me 5

Merry Christmas Eve, dear friends! We’ve had a pretty amazing month of Christmassy guest posts from authors and book bloggers, and I’ve just loved it! I’ve also had a lot of fun reading bunches of Christmas romances and sharing my opinions with you on them all. This really is the most wonderful time of the year, and I’m so grateful that my good bookish friends were willing to celebrate it with me!


Every Christmas Eve my family and I drive around town and look at all the Christmas lights on the houses, so for my last Bookish Little Christmas post I thought it would be fun to show you all the Christmas lights I’ve seen this month! I’m kind of obsessed with lights and I love going around and seeing as many as I can. My mom, sister, and I went to two drive-through light displays this month, and we’ve gone to some other fun local light displays as well. Here are some pictures of all my favorites.

Do you enjoy looking at Christmas lights, too? I’d love for you to link me to your favorite displays if you have any!

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