Top Ten Book Characters That Remind Me of Myself

Posted May 6, 2019 by Jana in About Me, Top Ten Tuesday / 10 Comments

I’m a very character-driven reader, so connecting with characters is pretty much a requirement for me if I’m going to enjoy a book. I love finding friends in the characters, and I really love finding things I have in common with them and can identify with. It was tough to narrow this list down to ten! I’m excited to see which characters you see yourself in this week!

1. Daisy from Every Time I Think of You by Tracey Garvis-Graves
On the surface, I have nothing in common with Daisy. But Tracey has this perfect way of writing characters you can find common ground with. I identified with Daisy’s feelings of inadequacy, her fear of failure, her concerns for the future, and her desire to tear down the walls she has built around herself.

2. Holland Baker from Roomies by Christina Lauren
She’s so relatable, and I think we can all see at least a small part of ourselves in her. She’s a 25-year-old plain Jane living in New York City (with the help of her two uncles who pay most of her rent), working a dead-end job (that her uncle got her) that is way below her qualifications as she tries to achieve her dream of becoming a published author. Who has been in this position before? *raises hand*

3. Lily from Just Like the Movies by Kelly Fiore
I really connected with Lily, to the point where I almost forgot I was reading about someone other than myself! Lily is high school me. She’s a bookish, organized, intellectual wallflower with a long list of things she wants to accomplish and her future all planned out. She wants a love story like the movies, but doesn’t think anyone even notices her. She is so me! I was a studious, shy, choir girl who was actually told by one of her best friends that she should be a bank robber because nobody would notice her come and go. I wish I’d had a friend like Lily to commiserate with.

4. Charlie from Save the Date by Morgan Matson
I really connected with Charlie. I understand what it’s like to have everyone needed things from you all the time. She’s kind of the glue that keeps the group together and sane. She’s the peacemaker, and I understand the kind of pressure that comes with that job.

5. Ana from Incarnate by Jodi Meadows
Ana connects with music like I do. Music has always been one of the main elements of my life. It brings out such strong emotions and feelings in me. I connect with it on so many levels, just like she mentions throughout this story. I identified with her so much for this reason.

6. Bria from Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard
Bria is an artist, and a traveler. Do you know who Bria really is? Bria is ME! Her love of art shone through everything she did, and everything she said. I totally identified.

7. Jane from Austenland by Shannon Hale
After dating a ton of losers, this single, 33-year-old, New Yorker has come to the conclusion that no man can compare to the sexy, debonair, and utterly romantic Mr. Darcy. She has given up on the male gender completely. Girl, I get it.

8. Maddie from Gentlemen Prefer Nerds by Joan Kilby
This girl is a nerdy cat lady. I am too!

9. Ellie from A Week of Mondays by Jessica Brody
Ellie reminds me so much of my teenaged self: a bit of a perfectionist, someone who bites off more than they can chew, a people pleaser, a worrier, and a hopeless romantic.

10. Maddie from When A Scot Ties the Knot by Tessa Dare
I loved Maddie. I thought she was hilarious, plus she’s bookish, artsy, and painfully shy. I get her. While I don’t have panic attacks when I’m surrounded by a few people, I know what it’s like to be a wallflower. And I know what it’s like to view life through an artist’s eye. I love that she wrote letters to an imaginary captain to avoid jumping into the dating pool. That’s something I could totally see myself doing.

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Top Ten Inspirational & Thought-Provoking Quotes from Books

Posted April 29, 2019 by Jana in Top Ten Tuesday / 11 Comments

I love a good quote, and I am always using the highlighting feature on my Kindle so I can remember those gems that make me think or inspire me. This week I’m sharing a few of those quotes with you! Can wait to see what you share!

1. “Somehow difficulties are easier to endure when you know your dream is waiting for you at the end.” 
― Lisa Mangum, The Golden Spiral

2. “When the sun shines, you let it shine on you” 
― Gayle Forman, Just One Day

3. “The world is vicious.’

Thomas brushed a lock of hair back from my face, his gaze thoughtful. ‘The world is neither kind nor is it cruel. It simply exists. We have the ability to view it however we choose.” 
― Kerri Maniscalco, Hunting Prince Dracula

4. “The most powerful weapon is hope.”
― Juliet Marillier, Heart’s Blood

5. “One often meets her destiny on the road she takes to avoid it.” 
― Jessi Kirby, Golden

6. “Maybe there were a hundred different ways to fall in love.”
― Mary E. Pearson, The Kiss of Deception

7. “Every form of art is another way of seeing the world. Another perspective, another window. And science –that’s the most spectacular window of all. You can see the entire universe from there.” 
― Claudia Gray, A Thousand Pieces of You

8. “People are going to judge you for all kinds of reasons for the rest of your life. Because you vote one way or the other, because you go to one school or the other, because you look a certain way. It’s a fact of life: you can’t make everyone happy. But you can make you happy” 
― Leah Rae Miller, The Summer I Became a Nerd

9. “Imagine, and it shall be. There are no limits.⁠⁠⁠⁠” 
― Evelyn Skye, The Crown’s Game

10. “With courage and hope, we can conquer our fears and do what we once believed impossible.” 
― Juliet Marillier, Heart’s Blood

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Interview With Heather Hepler | We Were Beautiful Blog Tour (+ Giveaway)

Posted April 28, 2019 by Jana in Author Interview, Blog Tour, Giveaway / 2 Comments

Interview With Heather Hepler | We Were Beautiful Blog Tour (+ Giveaway)

Welcome to The FFBC’s blog tour for We Were Beautiful by Heather Hepler! As the organizer for this tour, I got the opportunity to interview Heather!


Interview With Heather Hepler

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

1. As an author, what would you say has been the best compliment you’ve received?
“You’ve changed my life.” Whether it is from the middle schooler struggling to bear up under bullying or the high schooler dealing with her parents’ divorce, that one always gets my attention. But it’s really the compliment that is implied that keeps me writing – letters and emails from readers who simply thank me because my stories made them feel seen and less alone.

2. Who is in more control of your writing: you or your characters? Why?
The first draft is definitely written by the characters. Initially I just follow them along and take notes, but after that I start shaping the story. I add details that never made it from my head to the page and take out random thoughts or wrong turns that muddy the story that I want to tell.

3. What have been some of your favorite recent reads (YA or not)?
I love fantasy and science fiction. My most recent obsessions have been older science fiction like Philip K. Dick and Ursula LeGuin. I also love Robin Hobb’s books. Her ability to bring life to the mundane constantly stuns me.

4. What are you up to when you’re not reading or writing?
I teach for two different universities, which keeps me busy. But I also love baking, traveling, and running. If I could, I’d have ten cats and probably as many dogs, but right now I have one of each and some Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches. (Only two, but the female is pregnant, so any day we might have another 50.)

5. What’s your next project?
I’m actually working on two books right now. One is a science fiction book and the other is a co-written project about the life in inner-city Houston. I’m also just starting to work on a screen-play which is completely new for me, but very exciting.

ABOUT THE BOOK

1. Describe your book in 5 words or less.
Romantic, thoughtful, quirky, honest, yummy

2. Friendship is a very large theme in We Were Beautiful. Tell us about these friends (especially Fig because she is so interesting)!
I have met friends over the years that have become like family to me. Fig is just this incredible girl that is able to see beyond herself and her own pain to the needs of others. I think all of us need someone like that if our lives – someone who is nurturing and pushy in equal measures. I need someone who is willing to cry with me and watch romantic movies with me, but also willing to tell me ‘okay, let’s get up and get going again.’ I like how each of Mia’s friends is like that in different ways. Each of them listens, loves, and then inspires.

3. If you had written yourself into this book, which character (or what kind of character) would you be?
I’m probably Sarah – although I can’t sing. I’m quiet and introspective, but when I’m ready to talk, I have a lot to say. I am also be fiercely loyal and will do anything for my friends and family.

4. What message do you hope your readers take away from We Were Beautiful?
I hope readers will realize that healing takes time. You can’t run from the uncertainty of it or the pain of it. You just have to keep moving through it, one day at a time, knowing that even when it seems dark, the light is coming.

5. What’s your favorite quote from the book?
“If I lean a little farther out, I can see the Brooklyn Bridge and a tiny slice of water. For some reason, seeing that makes me happy, like there’s something bigger beyond this apartment and this building and this block. Something bigger beyond me.”


We Were Beautiful by Heather Hepler
Published by BLINK on April 2, 2019
Genres: Young Adult Fiction — Contemporary
Add to GoodreadsAmazonB&NBook Depository

It’s been a year since fifteen-year-old Mia Hopkins was in the car crash that killed her older sister and left her terribly scarred. The doctors tell her she was lucky to survive. Her therapist says it will take time to heal. The police reports claim there were trace amounts of alcohol in her bloodstream. But no matter how much she tries to reconstruct the events of that fateful night, Mia’s memory is spotty at best. She’s left with accusations, rumors, and guilt so powerful it could consume her.

As the rest of Mia’s family struggles with their own grief, Mia is sent to New York City to spend the summer with a grandmother she’s never met. All Mia wants to do is hide from the world, but instead she’s stuck with a summer job in the bustling kitchens of the cafe down the street. There she meets Fig–blue-haired, friendly, and vivacious–who takes Mia under her wing. As Mia gets to know Fig and her friends–including Cooper, the artistic boy who is always on Mia’s mind–she realizes that she’s not the only one with a painful past.

Over the summer, Mia begins to learn that redemption isn’t as impossible as she once thought, but her scars inside run deep and aren’t nearly so simple to heal … especially when Mia finally pieces together her memories of the night Rachel died.


About Heather Hepler

I was born in Kalamazoo, Michigan, which I think is one of the cooler places to be born, because initially people think I’m being funny—like I’m saying I was born on the moon, but then they see I’m actually being serious. It feels like since then I’ve lived nearly everywhere (well, only in the US—which is a bummer because I want to travel so much). In high school, I was in band and honors society and science club and worked on the school newspaper. All this in Texas where football was king and cheerleaders were the school royalty. When people ask me what I remember about middle school and high school, I stand there for several seconds not saying anything. This isn’t because I can’t remember anything, but because I remember too many things and I can’t figure out what to say out loud.

I spent the first part of college in Alaska, which was amazing. The first time I saw Northern Lights, I thought I was imagining it. I just couldn’t get my head around the idea that something so beautiful existed in the real world. That’s when I first started writing. This was my bad poetry phase. I think it was the combination of living there with long very cold winters and being in love with a guy that barely knew I existed that made me do it. People ask me all the time if I write poetry. I wish I could and maybe I will someday, but for now I am firmly a fiction writer.

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The First Ten Books I Ever Reviewed

Posted April 22, 2019 by Jana in Top Ten Tuesday / 20 Comments

Thanks to Rissi at Finding Wonderland for this week’s topic! I started blogging at The Broke & the Bookish in June of 2010 and started recording my thoughts on Goodreads even earlier, so holy moly I’ve been reviewing books for a LONG time. This week I’m sharing the first ten books I ever reviewed (the date my review was posted, along with the outlet it was posted on appears after the title).

I’m excited to see the first ten books you reviewed! Now, these reviews don’t necessarily have to be long, formal reviews. They could just be a sentence or two on Goodreads or a book retail site. Whatever your heart desires. Does anyone else read their old reviews and cringe a little bit? I do!! It’s also kind of crazy to see how my tastes have changed over the years.

1. The Host by Stephanie Meyer (March 10, 2008 @ Goodreads)
I joined Goodreads in March of 2008, and I’m pretty sure this was my first review there.

2. Traitor by Sandra Grey (May 25, 2008 @ Goodreads)

3. Sailing to Capri by Elizabeth Chandler (June 11, 2008 @ Goodreads)

4. Her Good Name by Josi S. Kilpack (May 1, 2009 @ Goodreads)

5. Where Are You Now? by Mary Higgins Clark (July 26, 2009 @ Goodreads)

6. Austenland by Shannon Hale (July 1, 2010 @ The Broke & the Bookish)
My first review ever! Oh, how I agonized over this review. It took me hours and I was so scared to post it!

7. Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder (July 25, 2010 @ The Broke & the Bookish)

8. Finding The Right Man For You: Dating Advice for Women by Lawrence J. Danks (August 15, 2010 @ Amazon)
This book should be fed to the goats. It was SO awful. lol. It made me SO mad (just go read my review). We were getting very few review requests, so I agreed to read this because “Yay! I’m a grown-up blogger who people are noticing!” I’m much more selective with the titles I accept now. I refused to even post this review on our blog, so it became the first review I ever wrote for Amazon.

9. Jane Morris: The Pre-Raphaelite Model of Beauty by Debra N. Mancoff (August 13, 2010 @ The Broke & the Bookish)
This is so not a pick that is characteristic of me and my blog here, but we were trying to review a very wide array of book genres so I threw in this book from an art history paper I was writing in college at the time that I loved so much I went and bought a copy for my own collection.

10. 501 Must-Visit Destinations by David Brown, Jackum Brown, Kieran Fogarty, and Rebecca Walder (September 9, 2010 @ The Broke & the Bookish)
I love travel, and I was still trying to not just read and review YA for TB&TB so I chose to highlight this one!

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Top Ten Rainy Day Reads

Posted April 15, 2019 by Jana in Top Ten Tuesday / 9 Comments

It’s been raining a LOT here in my neck of the woods lately, so this topic is pretty perfect for me. Thanks to Shayna at Clockwork Bibliotheca for submitting such a fun topic through my request form! What do you consider to be a “rainy day read”? When I think of these kinds of books, I think of cozy stories that I can jump into for an entire day rather than just an hour or two here and there. I’ve been going through some hard life stuff for the last week and a half and now I’m passing a kidney stone, so I’ll hopefully be back later to update my picks! For now, here’s the link-up.

What makes a book a rainy day read?
Which books did you pick this week?

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Five Uncharacteristic Things I’ve Done Because I Love Books

Posted April 8, 2019 by Jana in Top Ten Tuesday / 13 Comments

This week’s topic (Outrageous Things I’ve Done for the Love of Books) was submitted by Aggie’s Amygdala, and is a pretty daunting topic if I’m being honest! I’ve said it before, though, I’m not just going to select topics based on ones I can easily complete myself! There’s a lot of participants! If the word “outrageous” doesn’t fit your list, then change it! Shocking? Bold? Crazy? The point is to show off our nerdy, bookish badges of honor. Anything goes this week. Now, I’m not one to jump outside of my comfort zone often, so I chose the word “uncharacteristic” to describe my list picks. These are things I normally wouldn’t do.

Started My Own Book Blog
I was never a blogger! I tried personal blogging and whatever, but fell out of love with it. This is honestly the longest hobby I’ve ever had, and that baffles me!

New Moon Midnight Release Party On a School Night
The Twilight series was the first series I really went crazy over. I was not much of a recreational reader since school ruined books for me. Up to that point I never understood the appeal of midnight release parties, but I was SO EXCITED to get New Moon in my hands that I went anyway and was totally exhausted the next day.

Went to ALA Las Vegas with Really Bad Pneumonia
I LOVE attending ALA, so much that pneumonia wasn’t going to keep me away. I sat on everything I could, and I had this pale, cold, clammy sheen to my face the entire time. I was dragging my dead corpse around the convention hall, basically.

Went to Kathryn Purdie’s Burning Glass Launch Party with a Migraine with Aura
Similar to the above, I do bookish things instead of taking care of myself.

I Got Rid of Clothes to Make Room for More Bookshelves
I seriously never thought I’d do something like this, but I got rid of a dresser to get more bookshelves!

What nerdiness is on your list this week?

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Top Ten Things That Make Me Immediately Want to Read a Book

Posted April 1, 2019 by Jana in Top Ten Tuesday / 30 Comments

This week we’re talking about why we read the books we read! I’m pretty sure all of us have a list of things we look for when we read a book’s synopsis or read book reviews. Some of us might even be sold on a book’s cover alone! These are the things we’re talking about today. Hopefully you’ll have some suggestions for me based on my list!

1. Travel Destinations

This first one is a bit of an umbrella pick for me, but I had to do it this way or else all ten of my picks for this topic would be different countries! I love traveling to my favorite places and places I’d like to visit through books, so if I see that a book is set in Italy or France or Greece, etc. my interest is immediately piqued.

2. Characters On Vacation

In the same vein as above, I’m all about going on vacation with book characters. If characters are traveling abroad, going on class trips, going to boarding school, or road tripping I get excited!

3. Fauxmances/Relationships of Convenience

This is a HUGE one for me! I love the fake romance/fake marriage turned full-blown love story.

4. Non-Paranomal, Non-Erotic Romantic Suspense

I LOVE romantic suspense, but so much of what’s out there has a paranormal aspect to it or is too explicit for me. I don’t want a romance to be suspenseful because he’s a werewolf. I want a murder or a missing person or a serial killer or SOMETHING with a strong accompanying romance. Those are so exciting and swoony to me, and are my absolute favorite kinds of books.

5. Workplace Romance

I love the tension of a really great, forbidden workplace romance!

6. Nerdy Characters

I love the sexy nerds as romantic interests. I also love nerdy or bookish heroines that I can relate to.

7. On the Water

I love books set on cruise ships, pirate ships, sailboats, yachts, ferries, lifeboats, etc. I gobble them up like you wouldn’t believe.

8. Heists

I love heists! Jewelry, art, antiques, rare books, I’m here for all of it.

9. Wilderness/Survival Settings

I love it when characters are off the beaten path, whether by choice or not. Camping, hiking, getting lost or stranded on a beach or in the wilderness… Perhaps a boat goes down or a plane crashes and the characters have to learn to survive. Throw in a little suspense or danger into one of these settings, and it’s even more of a must-have for me.

10. Underwater Settings

I love books that take place in fantasy underwater cities or compounds. Mermaids are an added bonus!

Do you have any books you’d recommend to me based on my list?
What makes you want to read a book?

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Five Audiobooks I Loved & Five I’m Excited to Listen To

Posted March 25, 2019 by Jana in Top Ten Tuesday / 24 Comments

This week’s TTT is an audio freebie! I’ve recently jumped onto the audiobook bandwagon, and so I was really excited to do this week’s topic because I’m hoping to find a lot of audiobook recommendations from all of you! Narrators make or break an audiobook for me, and you’ll see from my picks below which narrators are my favorites!

Five Audiobooks I Loved

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater 
Steve West made me fall in love with Shawn Kendrick.
I also love the musical elements, which Maggie composed herself!

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
Jennifer Ikeda does a really great job with this book!

The Dark Unwinding by Sharon Cameron
Fiona Hardingham is great, and I felt like the atmosphere of the
audio was perfect for the tone of the book.

A Tale of Beauty and Beast by Melanie Callier
I can’t pinpoint why I loved this so much, but I did! I’m a sucker for
B&B retellings, and even though the narrator did a rather crummy job on the
Beast’s voice, I still enjoyed listening.

Reign of Shadows by Sophie Jordan
Phoebe Strole and James Fouhey both have great voices, and I loved listening
to this. It was so rich and exciting.

Five Audiobooks I’m Excited to Listen To

Sherwood by Meagan Spoooner
Fiona Hardingham is wonderful to listen to, and
I loved Meagan’s Hunted so I can’t wait for her next retelling.

Unearthed by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
Steve West is one of the narrators, GUYS. I don’t even know what the story is
about, but I bought it anyway.

The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line by Rob Thomas
I’ve actually read and loved this book already, but Veronica Mars (Kristen Bell)
herself narrates it so I need to re-read!

Made for You by Melissa Marr
I’ve heard great things about MacLeod Andrews, and this book sounds great!

My Oxford Year by Julia Whelan
Julia Whelan reads her own book! I’ve heard she’s an awesome reader, but
I bet she’s even better reading her own book!

What are some of your favorite audiobooks? Why?
Can you recommend any amazing narrators (I LOVE STEVE WEST)?

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Interview with Lillie Vale | Small Town Hearts Blog Tour (+ Giveaway)

Posted March 25, 2019 by Jana in Author Interview, Blog Tour, Giveaway / 3 Comments

Interview with Lillie Vale | Small Town Hearts Blog Tour (+ Giveaway)

Welcome to The FFBC’s blog tour for Small Town Hearts by Lillie Vale! As the organizer for this tour, I got the opportunity to interview Lillie!


Interview with Lillie Vale

Hi Lillie! I’m Jana of That Artsy Reader Girl, and the tour organizer for the Small Town Hearts blog tour! I’m excited to chat with you and get to know you and your book better.

Hi Jana! Thank you so much for hosting me on your blog today and coordinating everything for this fabulous blog tour!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

1. Tell us about your experience as a debut author thus far.

It’s one of the best, most indescribable feelings in the world to know that something so dear and so personal to you is meeting the rest of the world. I imagine it’s a lot like being a mama bird and pushing a (book) baby out of the nest, trusting that it will be all right. I have so much gratitude for getting to do what I love, and for the book community in championing this book that once upon a time existed only for me.

2. Where were you when you found out you were being published?

I think I was at home, scrolling on my phone, having a very ordinary night in. I was, of course, hoping for news, and knew that it would be sometime soon, but seeing a new email in my inbox was still a surprise! The best of surprises :~)

3. What have been some of your favorite recent reads?

I’m reading Crown of Feathers right now by fellow debut Nicki Prau Preto! I read this one a while ago but I can’t stop thinking about Rachel Lynn Solomon’s Our Year of Maybe (I think it would be a great read-a-like to Small Town Hearts!), and I’ve been super lucky to read some upcoming novels. 2019 and 2020 is going to be so great, y’all.

4. What are you up to when you’re not reading or writing?

I don’t bake often (I’ll live vicariously through Babe for all my sweet tooth fixes!!!!) but I love spending time time in the kitchen cooking up a great dinner. I also play Sims if I don’t have deadlines to meet, because let’s face it, that game is a black hole for time management! When it’s nice out, I like doing outdoorsy things, so I’m really happy about all this spring weather we’re having!

5. What’s your next project?

Nothing I can share just yet, but I am really excited to be drafting again! I finished an ownvoice Desi romcom a while back, and now I’m on to a new own voice project :~)

ABOUT THE BOOK

1. Pitch us your book in 5 words or less.

Bi baking barista in Maine or, if I’m being sneaky about word choice…BFF-breakup. Second-chance summer. Foodie. LGBTQ+.

For readers craving a more meaty description of the book, however, it’s a BFF breakup + found family novel taking place in the summer after high school, the last summer 19yo bi baking barista Babe thinks she’ll have before her friends Penny and Chad start college in the fall. She has a somewhat co-dependent relationship with the people she loves, and change has never been a good thing, in her experience, so she’s trying to hold on tight during a time when she has to learn how to let go. Matters are further complicated when her ex-girlfriend Elodie returns to their sleepy Maine village of Oar’s Rest at the same time as Levi, a mysterious summer boy, shows up to rent Babe’s mom’s cottage on the beach.

2. Your bio says you always write books where the characters either kiss or kill. Tell us what this story would look like if the characters were killing instead of kissing.

In a very very very AU “Kill” version of Small Town Hearts, Penny would have been a bit more murderous! 💃🏻🔥

3. The setting in Small Town Hearts is very quaint and picturesque. Tell us about your inspiration for Oar’s Rest.

I adored creating the world of Babe’s beloved Oar’s Rest (the lighthouse!! the beach cave!! the Busy Bean!!). Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve loved the small towns that never felt small. The places with a unique culture that felt larger than life. My earliest examples were author-illustrator Richard Scarry’s Busytown and Arthur’s Elwood City. With these charming idylls and every beach town I’d ever been to as inspiration, it came as no surprise that Oar’s Rest became the small town of my dreams!

4. This book should come with a warning that the reader will be craving ALL THE FOOD by the end. Tell us about all the food in this book, and which your favorites are.

Yes! Haha. I always joke it needs that disclaimer because I always get grumpy with great food descriptions that I can’t have! KEEP SNACKS ON HAND, FAM.

Mainers will recognize Moxie, whoopie pie, and all the blueberries! In addition to the New England classics, we also have clam chowder, seafood chowder, and plenty of smoky, grilled fish and shrimp. While I would happily gobble up any meals Babe prepared for me, she’s especially known for her baked goods at the coffee shop where she works, The Busy Bean. Her cookies, cakes, and macarons are not to be missed!

I’d definitely stop by Busy’s for an iced coffee and a cookie or two, then work it off by exploring the town, hiking up to Babe’s lighthouse, and then coming back to town for a delicious seafood feast at Lorcan’s beach shack!

5. What’s your favorite quote from the book?

“The cardinal rule of every beach town is that locals do not get involved with tourists.”

ROFL as you might imagine, this is a rule that certainly gets broken in Small Town Hearts


Small Town Hearts by Lillie Vale
Published by Swoon Reads on March 19, 2019
Genres: Young Adult Fiction — Contemporary, Romance
Add to GoodreadsAmazonB&NBook Depository

Rule #1 – Never fall for a summer boy.

Fresh out of high school, Babe Vogel should be thrilled to have the whole summer at her fingertips. She loves living in her lighthouse home in the sleepy Maine beach town of Oar’s Rest and being a barista at the Busy Bean, but she’s totally freaking out about how her life will change when her two best friends go to college in the fall. And when a reckless kiss causes all three of them to break up, she may lose them a lot sooner. On top of that, her ex-girlfriend is back in town, bringing with her a slew of memories, both good and bad.

And then there’s Levi Keller, the cute artist who’s spending all his free time at the coffee shop where she works. Levi’s from out of town, and even though Babe knows better than to fall for a tourist who will leave when summer ends, she can’t stop herself from wanting to know him. Can Babe keep her distance, or will she break the one rule she’s always had – to never fall for a summer boy?


About Lillie Vale

Lillie Vale, upon discovering she could not be one of Santa’s elves or attend Hogwarts, decided to become a writer to create a little magic of her own. Enjoying the romantic and eerie in equal measure, she’s probably always writing a book where the main characters kiss or kill. Born in Mumbai, she has lived in many U.S. states, and now resides in an Indiana college town where the corn whispers and no one has a clue that she is actually the long-lost caps lock queen. She can be reached on Twitter @LillieLabyrinth and Instagram @labyrinthspine. Small Town Hearts is her debut novel.

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Interview with Jessica Brody | Sky Without Stars Blog Tour (+Giveaway)

Posted March 21, 2019 by Jana in Author Interview, Blog Tour, Giveaway / 5 Comments

Interview with Jessica Brody | Sky Without Stars Blog Tour (+Giveaway)

Welcome to The FFBC’s blog tour for Sky Without Stars by Jessica Brody & Joanne Rendell! Patricia and I both interviewed these authors! I’m hosting Jessica today, and Patricia hosted Joanne yesterday.


Interview with Jessica Brody

Can you briefly describe Sky Without Stars and the main characters?

Sky Without Stars is a sci-fi reimagining of Victor Hugo’s epic, Les Miserables…set on a distant planet! Basically it’s “Les Mis in space!” Here’s the short description:

Five-hundred years after the Last Days, an extravagant, elite class reigns supreme on the French-inspired planet of Laterre, but when a shocking murder shakes the foundations of the planet, the fates of three unlikely heroes from very different backgrounds (a thief, an officer, and a guardian) will intertwine as the planet spirals toward revolution.

Dun, dun, DUN! 😊

Who would you say is your favorite character from the story and why?

As much as I probably should say Chatine (inspired by Eponine from Les Mis), because I wrote the first draft of most of her chapters, I think my favorite character is a 13-year-old boy named Roche (inspired by the spunky street urchin, Gavroche in Les Mis). He’s a “Fret rat” (meaning he grew up in the Frets or “slums” of Laterre) and an “oublie” (Laterrian term for orphan. In French it literally means forgotten.) But he’s so charismatic and has this great upbeat outlook on life, despite his circumstances. He’s also quite the negotiator. I perked up every time he entered the scene I was writing!

How did you come up with the idea for the story? Did you find inspiration anywhere?

Back in 2014, I sat in on a retellings class taught by authors Christina Farley and Vivi Barnes. They handed us each a worksheet. On one side they told us to write down any and every classic story we’ve ever loved. Among many, I wrote “Les Misérables”. Then on the other side, they told us to write down a list of interesting settings. Among many, I wrote, “space.” (See picture below.) I literally drew a line between the two and a shiver ran through me. Les Mis, set in space? It felt like too big of an undertaking to do alone so years later when my best friend Joanne Rendell told, randomly, that Les Mis was one of her favorite classics, I knew she was the one I had to write it with! And SKY WITHOUT STARS was born!

If you could choose one song to describe your book, which one would it be?

Ooh! Luckily I have countless songs from the Les Mis soundtrack to choose from! Although “On My Own” very much embodies our character Chatine’s journey in this story, when it comes to the book a whole, I’d have to say “One Day More.” This is the song that marks the middle of the musical, right before the intermission, and it’s an ensemble piece where all the characters sing about all the different things they’re waiting for and what tomorrow might bring for them. There’s a sense of imminent danger in the song, but there’s also romance and greed and vengeance and despair, and most of all hope. To me, this the epitome of Les Mis: Danger, romance, greed, vengeance, despair, and hope.

I just hope that we’ve successfully captured it all in SKY WITHOUT STARS!

What’s the best and the worst thing about writing a book with someone else? What are the challenges you guys found while writing Sky Without Stars?

The best is definitely being able to brainstorm with someone else. Jo and I joke that it’s like being paid to play dolls. Except the dolls are characters in the story and the “doll house” is a distant planet in a yet-to-be-discovered solar system. We get super into it, acting out scenes, and doing voices, and conjuring up all sorts of dramatic situations for our characters. I’ve never had so much writing a book in my life. (And I’ve written more than 15 novels before this!)

The challenge for us has mostly been scheduling and distance. We live 3,000 miles apart on different ends of the country. So we’re not able to get together in person as often as we’d like. We rely on modern-day tech like Skype for video chats and Slack for messaging. But we always joke that it would be so great if we lived next door to each other and could hang out and play dolls…er, I mean, write every day together!

If your book was about to become a movie/TV show, who would you see playing as the characters in Sky Without Stars? 

I’m usually terrible at casting my own books! But here are my picks!

Anais Lee for Alouette

Odeya Rush for Chatine

Tyler Posey for Marcellus

Since it is still cold outside, what hot drink do you think would go perfectly with your book?

I would say a nice café au lait (or café crème as they say in Paris!) or chocolat chaud (hot chocolate) to go with the French theme!

Can you recommend any other books in case they are left hungry for more once they finish Sky Without Stars?

Yes! Definitely check out LAST OF HER NAME by Jessica Khoury, which is another sci-fi retelling set in space…this one a retelling of the legend of Anastasia, the lost Romanoff heir! Khoury’s world-building and plotting is so magnificent. I could NOT put this book down!

What’s next for you?

Joanne and I are about to dive into the revisions of book 2 in the trilogy, BETWEEN BURNING WORLDS. The first draft of that book caused us a LOT of agony and stress (as sequels often do) but in the end, I’m happy with where it is now and can’t wait for everyone to find out what happens next on planet Laterre. And yes, as the title suggests, it’s pretty explosive!


Sky Without Stars by Jessica Brody and Joanne Rendell
Published by Simon Pulse on March 26, 2019
Genres: Young Adult Fiction — Science Fiction, Retelling
Add to GoodreadsAmazonB&NBook Depository

A thief. An officer. A guardian.

Three strangers, one shared destiny . . .

When the Last Days came, the planet of Laterre promised hope. A new life for a wealthy French family and their descendants. But five hundred years later, it’s now a place where an extravagant elite class reigns supreme; where the clouds hide the stars and the poor starve in the streets; where a rebel group, long thought dead, is resurfacing.

Whispers of revolution have begun—a revolution that hinges on three unlikely heroes…

Chatine is a street-savvy thief who will do anything to escape the brutal Regime, including spy on Marcellus, the grandson of the most powerful man on the planet.

Marcellus is an officer—and the son of a renowned traitor. In training to take command of the military, Marcellus begins to doubt the government he’s vowed to serve when his father dies and leaves behind a cryptic message that only one person can read: a girl named Alouette.

Alouette is living in an underground refuge, where she guards and protects the last surviving library on the planet. But a shocking murder will bring Alouette to the surface for the first time in twelve years…and plunge Laterre into chaos.

All three have a role to play in a dangerous game of revolution—and together they will shape the future of a planet.

Power, romance, and destiny collide in this sweeping reimagining of Victor Hugo’s masterpiece, Les Misérables.


About Jessica Brody

Jessica Brody knew from a young age that she wanted to be a writer. She started self “publishing” her own books when she was seven years old, binding the pages together with cardboard, wallpaper samples, and electrical tape.

After graduating from Smith College in 2001 where she double majored in Economics and French and minored in Japanese, Jessica later went on to work for MGM Studios as a Manager of Acquisitions and Business Development. In May of 2005, Jessica quit her job to follow her dream of becoming a published author.

Since then, Jessica has sold over twelve novels for teens, tweens, and adults including 52 Reasons to Hate My Father, The Karma Club, My Life Undecided, and the three books in the Unremembered trilogy, the first of which is currently in development as a major motion picture by the producers of The Vampire Academy, Zero Dark Thirty, Life of Pi, and Slumdog Millionaire. In 2016, she will release two new contemporary novels, A Week of Mondays (August) and Boys of Summer (April), and in 2017, her debut middle grade novel entitled, Addie Bell’s Shortcut to Growing Up, will hit bookstore shelves.

Jessica also writes books for the Descendants: “School of Secrets” series, based on the hit Disney Channel Original movie, Descendants!

Jessica’s books are published and translated in over twenty foreign countries. She currently splits her time between California and Colorado.

About Joanne Rendell

Joanne Rendell is the author of three novels and holds a PhD in English Literature. She teaches fiction writing to teens and kids, as well as online writing classes at Udemy.com and Lynda.com. Joanne is a board member for the youth Shakespeare company, New Genesis Productions. With her husband and son, she divides her time between New York City and New Paltz, New York.

 

 

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