Month: August 2014

The Body in the Woods by April Henry | Mini Book Review

Posted August 27, 2014 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult / 5 Comments

The Body in the Woods by April Henry | Mini Book ReviewThe Body in the Woods by April Henry
Series: Point Last Seen #1
Published by Henry Holt and Co. on June 17, 2014
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Mystery
Pages: 263
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher (Mail)
Amazon Add to Goodreads
1 Stars
In this new series told from multiple perspectives, teen members of a search and rescue team discover a dead body in the woods.

Alexis, Nick, and Ruby have very different backgrounds: Alexis has spent her life covering for her mom’s mental illness, Nick’s bravado hides his fear of not being good enough, and Ruby just wants to pursue her eccentric interests in a world that doesn’t understand her. When the three teens join Portland County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue, they are teamed up to search for a autistic man lost in the woods. What they find instead is a dead body. In a friendship that will be forged in danger, fear, and courage, the three team up to find the girl’s killer—before he can strike one of their own.

This first book in April Henry’s Point Last Seen YA mystery series is full of riveting suspense, putting readers in the middle of harrowing rescues and crime scene investigations.

*sigh* Maybe April Henry and I just aren’t the best match? I don’t know! I love mysteries. LOVE them. They are all I’ve been wanting to read lately. And sadly, The Body in the Woods did nothing for me. I thought the idea had potential, but I was also worried that reading about teenage detectives would cause the “you-have-to-suspend-a-lot-of-logic” disease. It did. I felt that the entire story was improbable, and that made me focus less on the story and more on the details that made me go, “Ummm… No, that would never happen.” And I know that this book was inspired by a real teen volunteer search and rescue team, but still. I felt like the kids in this book got into way too much danger, went against the police officers they were working with way too often, and basically took over the entire investigation. I can’t imagine real life teenagers getting into the kinds of situations the teens in this book did.

At times I felt like I was reading an episode of CSI or any other crime drama on TV. I drowned in the endless details of how the characters performed searches, etc. I usually love detail, but the writing was so uninteresting and almost mechanical. There was no fluidity from sentence to sentence, and frequently there wasn’t even continuity between chapters. I liked the idea of the story being told from multiple perspectives (those of the three teens), but they were written in such a way that I never connected with the characters. When they spoke to each other or to officers, they spoke in a way that made them sound like they had memorized their training manuals and were just regurgitating information in the hopes that they were right. This made them come off as immature, leaving me to believe even LESS in their abilities as members of a search and rescue team.

The mystery seemed very thinly weaved. I knew who the culprit was almost immediately. His chapters were the most interesting, and I wished I had been more in his head than in the heads of our manual-reciting teenagers. The why’s were not given much attention, and I was never entirely clear on the motives of the culprit. I found it odd that the mystery would not have been solved if these kids had not been involved, yet they caused so many additional problems for the police that they seemed useless at times. Are the police really supposed to be that dumb? They arrested someone early on in the story with no actual evidence, and then closed the case. They had nothing on him except that he was making drugs. Drugs does not equal serial killer. When I think of all the times I’ve heard of the bad guy getting away on a technicality or a screw-up regarding the handling of evidence, I have NO idea why this guy was arrested at all. I just did not believe it.

Maybe I am just too old and skeptical to enjoy this book. Maybe I possess too much common sense, have read too many intricate and nail-biting mysteries, or have watched way too many crime dramas. Perhaps a younger audience would love this. Perhaps someone capable of suspending their disbelief would enjoy it as well. I just could not stop thinking how unbelievable this story was, not to mention the endless technical details and play-by-plays had my gasping for air. I felt completely disconnected from the story, and I’m super disappointed about that. I would not recommend this title to potential readers.

The Debut Dish: Erica Cameron, Austin Aslan, Rachel M. Wilson, and Paul Williams

Posted August 24, 2014 by Jana in Author Interview, Debut Author Challenge, Debut Dish / 2 Comments

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?

Sing Sweet Nightingale by Erica Cameron
March 4, 2014 from Spencer Hill Press
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

Mariella Teagen hasn’t spoken a word in four years.

She pledged her voice to Orane, the man she loves—someone she only sees in her dreams. Each night, she escapes to Paradise, the world Orane created for her, and she sings for him. Mariella never believed she could stay in Paradise longer than a night, but two weeks before her eighteenth birthday, Orane hints that she may be able to stay forever.

Hudson Vincent made a pledge to never fight again.

Calease, the creature who created his dream world, swore that giving up violence would protect Hudson. But when his vow caused the death of his little brother, Hudson turned his grief on Calease and destroyed the dream world. The battle left him with new abilities and disturbing visions of a silent girl in grave danger—Mariella.

Now, Hudson is fighting to save Mariella’s life while she fights to give it away. And he must find a way to show her Orane’s true intentions before she is lost to Paradise forever.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Dreams, silence, promises, lies, and strength.

Why should readers pick up your book?
One of the things I love about The Dream War world is that it take a lot of things that are usually ordinary and makes them special. Talents people have, dreams, jewelry, all of it takes on special significance in the series. Also, I got to play around with the metaphysical properties of gemstones and crystals, something I grew up knowing about, but a subject most people aren’t aware exists. It was a lot of fun and makes for some cool scenes!

What’s the best thing about being a debut author?
Well, I can only guess on this one since I don’t really have anything to compare it to yet, but probably the freshness of everything. I get to do a bunch of things–meeting bloggers, watching readers discover my book, go through the editing process, see my cover–for the FIRST time. That won’t ever happen again with any other book I write. It will all still be awesome, but it won’t ever happen again with this level of awe.

What’s your favorite movie theater candy?
Snowcaps! And popcorn. Preferably together. I have a thing for salty and sweet in the same bite.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
Coils and coils of jewelry wire. I love making shiny things and tend to drop the wire I’m not using on my desk.

The Islands at the End of the World by Austin Aslan
August 5, 2014 from Wendy Lamb Books
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

In this fast-paced survival story set in Hawaii, electronics fail worldwide, the islands become completely isolated, and a strange starscape fills the sky. Leilani and her father embark on a nightmare odyssey from Oahu to their home on the Big Island. Leilani’s epilepsy holds a clue to the disaster, if only they can survive as the islands revert to earlier ways.

A powerful story enriched by fascinating elements of Hawaiian ecology, culture, and warfare, this captivating and dramatic debut from Austin Aslan is the first of two novels.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Survival/disaster Sci-fi bonanza. Hawaii!

Why should readers pick up your book?
Because the cover is purdy. Seriously, though: you’ll read and love this book because it stars an awesome AWESOME female main character who is full of diversity: half-Hawaiian and epileptic, and who undergoes an amazing, harrowing adventure, not with some dreamy boy toy (fun, sure, but you’ve all read plenty of that these days) but with her sweet, kinda dorky, well-meaning father in tow. Oh, and: Hawaii!

What’s the best thing about being a debut author?
I’m loving the paparazzi following me around everywhere. Can’t fill up for gas without someone popping a pic of me with their iPhone. Oh, um, not true. But for reals: I guess it’s a boring answer: Living every day with the satisfaction of knowing that I achieved my life’s most deeply held dream. I published a book! People like it! Hawaii!

What’s your favorite junk food?
I have so many. Do I have to choose? I’m a weird sucker for Doritos and Cheetos. So disappointing, I know. Are Mai Tais junk food? Probably. So, yeah, Mai Tais, too. Hawaii!

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
A map of Hawaii! No, seriously, the weirdest thing on my desk right now is a porcelain bobble head of a pig at a desk, Pip, the official mascot of my literary agency, Pippin Properties. It’s a very fancy paperweight and I feel honored to have one.

Don’t Touch by Rachel M. Wilson
September 2, 2014 from HarperTEEN
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

Step on a crack, break your mother’s back. Touch another person’s skin, and Dad’s gone for good.

Caddie can’t stop thinking that if she keeps from touching another person’s skin, her parents might get back together… which is why she wears full-length gloves to school and covers every inch of her skin.

It seems harmless at first, but Caddie’s obsession soon threatens her ambitions as an actress. She desperately wants to play Ophelia in her school’s production of Hamlet. But that would mean touching Peter, who’s auditioning for the title role—and kissing him. Part of Caddie would love nothing more than to kiss Peter—but the other part isn’t sure she’s brave enough to let herself fall.

Perfect for fans of Laurie Halse Anderson, this debut novel from Rachel M. Wilson is a moving story of a talented girl who’s fighting an increasingly severe anxiety disorder, and the friends and family who stand by her.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Fear. Touch. Isolation. Friendship. Smooching

Why should readers pick up your book?
Well, for one thing it’s highly romantical. There are lots of tense scenes between Caddie and Peter, both on- and offstage as they try to navigate Caddie’s fear of touch. At its heart, Don’t Touch is a love story. Any lover of theater or Shakespeare will find lots of fun drama, and the Alabama setting is a change of scene from a lot of YA. While I hope this book will be a friend to people who’ve experience anxiety disorders, we all experience fear at one time or another—fear that can keep us from enjoying the things we love. Anyone can relate to that. Plus, being a friend to someone with severe anxiety can be trying. Though Caddie is the point of view character, this book is for the Mandys and Peters of this world as much as the Caddies.

What’s the best thing about being a debut author?
All possibilities are open to me! There’s nothing like being shiny and new—I’m like a baby who’s never been dropped on my head. People are interested in helping me out and supporting me simply because I’m debuting. All the wonderful things that everyone dreams of for their debut novel could still come to pass.

What’s your favorite movie theater candy?
Oh, I was rarely allowed to buy movie theater candy, and I rarely allow myself to do it now. It’s so overpriced! BUT, Twizzlers. I still have an affinity for using them as soda straws.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
Definitely a crocheted beer koozy full of batteries. A Texan friend made it for me as a Christmas gift—it even has my initials on it. I do a bit of voice over work, so I use it to protect my handheld recorder and the many batteries it drains.

Parallax by Paul Williams
September 4, 2014 from illusio & baquer
Add to Goodreads

Danny Anderson lives in Sulphide, a copper mining town in the outback of Australia. Taking refuge from a gang of bullies who tortures animals, he and his two friends Jennifer and Gustave discover a parallel universe through a cave. In this universe, bullies are eaten by the animals they torture, Animal Police arrest people for the crime of cannibalism (eating meat), and pain inflicted on others is felt by the perpetrators.

But far from being the Eden they first envision, it is a frightening world where justice is harsh. They escape into a series of worlds, but each parallel universe is worse than the previous one, until they discover a perfect utopia, where—it seems—everything they wanted the world to be is true: animal suffering is abolished, humans live in harmony with nature, and justice is done—but not all is as perfect as it appears.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Parallel universes aren’t for sissies!

Why should readers pick up your book?
Because if they do, they won’t put it down! Seriously though, it will change the way you see the world…

What’s the best thing about being a debut author?
Curiosity! I can’t wait to see what readers think of my book.

What’s your favorite movie theater candy?
Popcorn dripping with butter that lasts the whole movie.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
A rubber cockroach. I keep it on my keyboard when I write. It looks so real, every visitor does a quick shudder dance and an ‘eeeiooouh’ when they see it.

That Artsy Librarian | This Semester Might Kill Me

Posted August 22, 2014 by Jana in About Me, That Artsy Librarian / 8 Comments


That Artsy Librarian is a feature all about my journey through graduate school as I work towards my Master’s degree in Library and Information Science.




So, I officially began my second year of graduate school on Monday, and I am already stressing to the max. I guess it’s not the beginning of the semester unless I’m flailing throughout the first week, before realizing I can do this because I’ve done it before. The thing is, though, I’m serious this time! I might not survive!

I’m taking two classes this semester (my counselor considers this a full load, and I’d be rather nuts for trying to stack on three courses, thus the reason the program takes three years…). One of them is Library Programming for Children and Young Teens. This one should be fun! I get to visit libraries, visit children’s book sections, interview a children’s librarian, develop a program (with a CRAFT. This is artsy librarian to the FULLEST.), and then present the program to a group of kids. How fun does that sound!? I’ll be fine. It’s the OTHER class I’m scared of.

I’m also taking The Organization of Information this semester, which is a required core course or I would have stayed as far away from it as possible. Basically, this class’s name is fancy talk for Cataloging. *cringe* My professor is very nice and helpful so far, but I am worried my brain is just not big enough for this class. He has mentioned several times that it’s a complicated course. He has mentioned that we will need to read some of class readings multiple times before they sink in. And he has said we have to learn two (TWO) cataloging coding languages (AACR2 and RDA). WHAT. I don’t even understand this class enough to tell you what our projects are like. I’ve begun reading the manuals for the coding languages, and I guess I’m too dumb to even figure out what I’m reading. The manuals are written using English words, but the way they are strung together has me so confused that I would probably understand Japanese better. I’m terrified. TERRIFIED. I can only hope that things will make more sense as we continue through the course, because right now I look like this:


So, is anyone else worried about this semester/year?
Have any of you taken Cataloging and survived?
Do any of you know AACR2 or RDA? Will I survive?
Basically, I need a pep talk here.

The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die by April Henry | Mini Book Review

Posted August 18, 2014 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult / 1 Comment

The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die by April Henry | Mini Book ReviewThe Girl Who Was Supposed to Die by April Henry
Published by Henry Holt and Co. on June 11, 2013
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
Pages: 213
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher (Mail)
Amazon Add to Goodreads
3 Stars
“Take her out back and finish her off.”

She doesn’t know who she is. She doesn’t know where she is, or why. All she knows when she comes to in a ransacked cabin is that there are two men arguing over whether or not to kill her.

And that she must run.

In her riveting style, April Henry crafts a nail-biting thriller involving murder, identity theft, and biological warfare. Follow Cady and Ty (her accidental savior turned companion), as they race against the clock to stay alive.

I have been on a real YA mystery kick lately, and The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die was the next one on my list. The premise sounded pretty exciting, and I had a feeling I would fly through it pretty quickly. I gobbled up the entire book in about two hours, which is pretty rare for me. April Henry laid the book out in such a way that you could not help but continue to read way past your bedtime. The chapters are short, the story never stops, and she wrote it in short, choppy sentences that made me read a lot faster than I usually do.

While I did read it super fast, and the book really kept me interested and intrigued, it was not the most memorable of mysteries. I feel like the kidnapped heroine frequently has amnesia in stories like these, and that plot element is getting pretty worn out. I know that in some cases it adds more mystery and excitement, but I feel like it’s a bit of an easy way out. There are many other ways to create a suspenseful mystery, and I would have liked to see something new. Amnesia also prevents readers from really getting to know and caring about the character, which is not always necessary in a mystery, but would have been nice in this case.

The main guy of the story, Ty, is a very likeable character, but I had a hard time believing that he would put himself in so much danger, skip school, and spend all of his money on a girl he doesn’t know at all. I don’t know, maybe I’m just not a charitable enough person, but I was really surprised at how quick he was to believe everything she said and make himself a target for the men after her. There was a little interest, but no romance at all, so I’m just surprised at how conveniently he fell into her life and pretty much saved her.

I was enjoying the story quite a bit until the huge info dump regarding biochemical and biological weapons. Things became even more outlandish and unbelievable as I began to learn who Cady was, why she was wanted, and what she had to do in order to fix everything. Things wrapped up so easily and seamlessly, even though these events in real life would have been a lot messier. I began to think of the book as science fiction, which helped me.

All in all, The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die is enjoyable and entertaining as long as you are willing to turn a blind eye to certain details and suspend quite a bit of disbelief. The characters and storyline are not memorable and the resolution comes faster and neater than I was expecting. I have read stronger mysteries, but April kept me reading late into the night and I’ll give her credit for that!

Broken Hearts, Fences, and Other Things to Mend by Katie Finn | Book Review

Posted August 14, 2014 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult / 3 Comments

Broken Hearts, Fences, and Other Things to Mend by Katie Finn | Book ReviewBroken Hearts, Fences, and Other Things to Mend by Katie Finn
Series: Broken Hearts & Revenge #1
Published by Feiwel and Friends on May 13, 2014
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Contemporary Romance, Romance
Pages: 339
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher (Mail)
Amazon Add to Goodreads
1.5 Stars
Hot sun. Blue waves. New romances. Old secrets.

Gemma had her summer all planned out, but it takes a sharp turn when she gets dumped and finds herself back in the Hamptons after a five-year absence.

Being there puts her at risk of bumping into Hallie, her former best friends (that is, before Gemma ruined her life). But people don't hold grudges forever. Do they?

Gemma intends on making amends, but a small case of mistaken identity causes the people she knew years ago—including Hallie and her dreamy brother, Josh—to believe she's someone else. As though the summer wasn't complicated enough already.

Filled with summer sun, boys, and friendships gone sour, Katie Finn's first novel in the Broken Hearts and Revenge series sizzles and delights.

I was very excited to read Broken Hearts, Fences, and Other Things to Mend, because I was expecting a fun summer romance in the Hamptons. I knew Katie Finn was a pen name for Morgan Matson, and since I had not read any of Morgan’s books I was looking forward to seeing what kind of an author she is. Sadly, this book was not at all what I was hoping for. As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. We’ve got Gemma, a 16-year-old girl who has been haunted by the fact that she literally ruined the life of her best friend, Hallie, and Hallie’s family when she was 11 years old. Oh. My. Gosh. When I say ruined, I mean RUINED. When I heard the story of what Gemma selfishly did this poor family, I lost all respect for her and never gained it back. Some might argue that she was just a kid, but she was not 5 or 6. She was 11. She totally knew what she was doing and the ramifications behind it.

She runs into Hallie and Hallie’s brother, Josh (who she had no idea was Hallie’s brother–seriously?), during a return trip to the Hamptons and decides to lie about who she is in order to “make amends”. I’m sorry, but in what universe does lying about who you are and lulling your friends into a false sense of security before dropping the bomb on them that you’re the life ruiner equal making amends and living happily ever after? How can anyone in their right mind think this is going to work? So, Gemma becomes Sophie for the summer and becomes besties with Hallie and a love interest for the romantically scarred Josh. My mind is screaming at this point.

2. I can’t like a book character who continually lies. Sophie’s (Gemma’s) cover is almost blown multiple times, and I kept wishing it would be. I wanted her to be caught in her lies because I just could not stand how she was manipulating and lying to two people she claimed to care about. I kept hoping she would grow up, buck up, and fess up. But she kept weaving this hugely tangled web of lies that became way too much.

3. I kept thinking that the entire story was extremely childish and immature. I felt too old for the story. I rarely feel this way with YA books because I can almost always find something to relate to, either from my younger years or my current life situations. I just could not this time, and that was disappointing.

4. Obviously, I did not connect with Gemma/Sophie, but I did not connect with anyone. I liked Josh and thought he was way too good to be mixed up in all this. But I was never privy to what he was feeling or thinking. I liked Hallie ok, but never trusted her. Maybe all the lies prevented connections, but that’s not a good thing.

5. The only redeeming part of the book was Gemma’s dad’s boss, Bruce. Bruce is hilarious. He’s trying to lose weight in really weird ways, yet sneaks junk food when his helpful assistant is not paying attention. I really, really liked him, and he brought a lot of humor to the story that needed to be there.

6. I had the ending pegged from the beginning. I’m very surprised that Gemma didn’t.

7. The ending was one of the worst, most frustrating endings I’ve read and left me mad at every character.

8. There was NO resolution whatsoever. I have no problems with trilogies, but when the first book ends having given me absolutely nothing, it leaves me with very little motivation to continue on to book 2.

All in all, the shenanigans that ensued as a result of Gemma’s lies were funny, but only because they were so absurd and a touch infuriating that I had to laugh. I was hoping for so much more from this book, with its cute cover and a synopsis that screamed summer fun. I’m come away with the realization that I like reading about nice characters, not characters who lie, plot revenge, and hurt other people. If you’re looking for a light summer read, I would suggest looking in to some other titles. I’m still very interested in Morgan Matson’s books, but will most likely pass on other Katie Finn books.

Inner Child: Lola Goes to the Doctor by Marcia Goldman

Posted August 13, 2014 by Jana in Children's Book Review, Inner Child / 2 Comments


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


Lola Goes to the Doctor by Marcia Goldman
Published by: Creston Books on July 29, 2014
Pages: 32
Source: From the publisher
Add to Goodreads • Buy the Book

Children will identify with Lola as she nervously waits to be called into the doctor’s office. Lola feels a little bit brave when the doctor looks into her ears, a little braver when he examines her teeth, and bravest of all when she gets a shot.

Lola Goes to the Doctor tackles a very scary subject in the minds of young children. When my sister was young, she would cry and cry for days when she found out she had to go to the doctor. She was deathly afraid of needles, to the point she had to be put on Valium just to handle a blood test! I remember my mom reading multiple books to my little sister about Cabbage Patch Kids visiting the doctor, the Berenstein Bears and their visit, Arthur’s doctor visit, and I’m sure that we would have had Lola’s book in our collection if it had been around 15-20 years ago. Who wouldn’t be comforted by that sweet puppy’s face as she sits patiently in the waiting room with other animal friends, meets the nice doctor, gets weighed, has her teeth and ears checked, has her temperature taken, and even gets a shot? I’ll admit, her face does get a bit sad when she sees the needle, but it’s an adorable sad face that is encouraging. She presents the message that it’s ok to be scared, but that everything will be ok.

I had the pleasure of meeting sweet little Lola and her owner, Marcia Goldman, at ALA Annual in Las Vegas in June. She is adorable and so well behaved! I am not the least bit surprised that she was able to pose for all of these pictures. There are no illustrations in this book, just photos of Lola’s visit to the doctor. I feel like this is actually a huge selling point because it gives children the opportunity to see what a doctor’s office is like. It’s not scary. It’s clean, has fun toys in the waiting room, and smiling doctors roam the halls. The pictures are clear, colorful, and tell the story on their own. This is another huge selling point because children can flip through the book and understand its message without needing to know how to read. Lola talks about being brave like a big dog, and mentions her future visits to the doctor with a little bit of excitement. It’s no big deal at all!

While I certainly can’t guarantee that this book will solve all problems with the hard task of getting a child to the doctor (I still hate it myself!), I am sure it will aide in calming the child’s fears a bit. It presents information in a clear manner and encourages children to be big and brave like Lola. I’d definitely recommend it to elementary and public libraries, as well as to parents and/or caregivers who would like some help in presenting the concept of doctor visits in a delicate manner.

Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas | Book Review

Posted August 11, 2014 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult / 5 Comments

Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas | Book ReviewDangerous Girls by Abigail Haas
Published by Simon Pulse on May 6, 2014
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
Pages: 400
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher (Edelweiss)
Amazon Add to Goodreads
4 Stars
Paradise in Aruba quickly gets gruesome in this "ripped-from-the-headlines thriller (Kirkus Reviews)" with a twist that defies the imagination.

It's Spring Break of senior year. Anna, her boyfriend Tate, her best friend Elise, and a few other close friends are off to a debaucherous trip to Aruba that promises to be the time of their lives.

But when Elise is found brutally murdered, Anna finds herself trapped in a country not her own, fighting against vile and contemptuous accusations. As Anna sets out to find her friend's killer, she discovers harsh revelations about her friendships, the slippery nature of truth, and the ache of young love.

Awaiting the judge's decree, it becomes clear to Anna that everyone around her thinks she is not only guilty, but also dangerous. And when the whole story comes out, reality is more shocking than anyone could ever imagine...

Ok, so I could not hold off on reading Dangerous Girls any longer after continually reading how insane it made my friends! Dangerous Girls came with a lot of dangerous hype, and I hoped so much that it would live up to the masterpiece I had assumed it would be in my own mind. it DID. As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. I think it goes without saying that my mind was completely shredded. I was flipping pages and staying up until all hours of the night, holding my eyelids open to try and figure out what was going on! My first thoughts upon finishing were (according to my Goodreads status after finishing the book at o’dark thirty):

What the HECK? What planet did this book come from? If I weren’t such a lady, I’d be swearing right now. What just happened?

2. Some people say Dangerous Girls is predictable, by I had NO IDEA who did it. None. I thought I had an idea, though, but my thoughts kept jumping around to everyone. And my lack of coherent thinking had nothing to do with the author’s writing style or her choices in the details she revealed. We were given so many clues, but I could not put them together until the book was over and I went, “WHAT THAT MAKES SENSE WHY DIDN’T I KNOW!!!??”. It was just so twisted and crazy! And the ending just iofhaergstgdrjtkgnsrgiaefiajefraorejfaerg.

3. I was so fascinated by Anna and Elise’s super weird relationship. These girls were TOXIC when mixed together. Were they friends? Enemies? Lovers? All three? None of the above? They brought out the worst in each other, and their intense obsession with being best friends forEVER was just creepy. These girls are not your typical best friends, allowing drugs, alcohol, parties, and shifty men to dull their senses and fuel their obsessions. So many lines were crossed that I honestly had no idea whether I should be ok with it or not.

4. I found myself not really liking anyone in the book, which I find very rare in books I actually liked. It’s hard to read books where you don’t like anyone. I felt extremely bad for Anna, and I wanted her to get out of prison SO BAD. But I didn’t like her. I’m not really sure why. And her “friends” became enemies very quickly after Anna was arrested, so I didn’t like any of them. I think I was so engrossed in the whodunit and the little details that the characters slipped through the cracks. I had absolutely no problems with this, though. I was actually happy it worked out this way.

5. EVERYONE is shady. The prosecutor, Anna, the boyfriend Tate, every friend, the men Elise meets before her death, the judge. Reporters kept digging up all kinds of information about everyone, which gave me more layers to think through. Everyone seemed to be hiding something. I just loved that I kept questioning everyone and everything.

6. The reader is witness to Anna’s interrogations, preliminary hearings, prison time, trial, TV interviews, etc. We also get to jump into her head and feel her thoughts and see her memories of happier times. She feels so much anger and frustration, betrayal, grief, and fear. She has flashbacks of her healthy relationships with Elise and Tate. We get to know Anna so well, even though people reveal details that make you question whether or not you know her at all. I loved being with her throughout the entire process.

7. The ending. WHAT. THE. CRAP. I still have so many questions and so many thoughts. Abigail Haas is brilliant.

Basically, you need to get yourself a copy of one of the best mysteries I’ve ever read. It has every creepy element you could think of, plus everything else you didn’t realize you wanted. I can’t get over how I just didn’t see it. I’m thinking a re-read is in my future because I’ve just got to see what I missed! And I can’t wait to read more from Abigail Haas. She has a crazy imagination/mind, and I want LOTS more from her.

The Debut Dish: Lia Riley, Rin Chupeco, & Jen Malone + a Giveaway!

Posted August 3, 2014 by Jana in Author Interview, Debut Author Challenge, Debut Dish, Giveaway / 3 Comments

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?

Upside Down (Off the Map #1) by Lia Riley
August 5, 2014 from Grand Central/Forever
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

Twenty-one-year-old Natalia Stolfi is saying good-bye to the past-and turning her life upside down with a trip to the land down under. For the next six months, she’ll act like a carefree exchange student, not a girl sinking under the weight of painful memories. Everything is going according to plan until she meets a brooding surfer with hypnotic green eyes and the troubling ability to see straight through her act.

Bran Lockhart is having the worst year on record. After the girl of his dreams turned into a nightmare, he moved back home to Melbourne to piece his life together. Yet no amount of disappointment could blind him to the pretty California girl who gets past all his defenses. He’s never wanted anyone the way he wants Talia. But when Bran gets a stark reminder of why he stopped believing in love, he and Talia must decide if what they have is once in a lifetime . . . or if they were meant to live a world apart.

Describe your book in five words or less:
Offbeat. Witty. Wanderlust. Heart-searching. Chemistry.

Why should readers pick up your book?
Do you like flirty banter, relatable characters, travel and hot guys with accents? Me too! So I started writing books.

What’s the best thing about being a debut author?
Besides staring at my cover model? The giddy, terrifying idea that REAL LIVE PEOPLE will read my words. 50% of the time I want to run through a meadow like Maria from The Sound of Music. The other 50% of the time I want to hide in a tree hollow.

What’s your favorite movie theater candy?
I smuggle in cola gummies.

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

The Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco
August 5, 2014 from Sourcebooks Fire
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

You may think me biased, being murdered myself. But my state of being has nothing to do with the curiosity toward my own species, if we can be called such. We do not go gentle, as your poet encourages, into that good night.

A dead girl walks the streets.

She hunts murderers. Child killers, much like the man who threw her body down a well three hundred years ago.

And when a strange boy bearing stranger tattoos moves into the neighborhood so, she discovers, does something else. And soon both will be drawn into the world of eerie doll rituals and dark Shinto exorcisms that will take them from American suburbia to the remote valleys and shrines of Aomori, Japan.

Because the boy has a terrifying secret – one that would just kill to get out.

The Girl from the Well is A YA Horror novel pitched as “Dexter” meets “The Grudge”, based on a well-loved Japanese ghost story.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Dead girl encounters cursed boy.

Why should readers pick up your book?
I love to experiment, and I’m not above taking risks that other people might not do. I’ve always had a love for the strange and the wondrously weird, and I think that’s always shown in a lot of my writings. I love to subvert tropes and go down the paths less traveled – I like doing things I haven’t seen most other writers in my genre do, and individuality and originality (I hope!) has always been something I try to aspire to when it comes to my works. That said, THE GIRL FROM THE WELL turned out to be a very, very unusual experiment – an odd little firstborn changeling I’m rather proud of. If you’d love to read something that’s wandered off the beaten path and somehow ended up making friends with the sometimes strange things that live in forests, this might be to your liking!

What’s the best thing about being a debut author?
The absolute novelty of being one, mostly. There are so many firsts that’s happened in the last year or so – first book announcement, first experiences with agent and publisher contract signing, first revisions, first interview, first cover reveal and, I’m sure, many more firsts to come. There’s also that growing realization that one’s dreams of becoming a writer is coming true, and with it that lovely feeling of happiness and gratitude for everything and everyone who’d helped me arrive at this point in my life.

What’s your favorite movie theater candy?
I have a love-hate relationship with Maltesers candy. I love Maltesers, and hate when it runs out on me, usually a quarter of the way through the movie. (Why are there so few pieces of Maltesers that come with every pack in theaters, anyway? I understand that this might be the company’s attempt at restricting binge-eating, but given that they are literally selling addictive chocolate caramel sugar for profit I find this point absolutely moot.) I could buy more packs each time I suppose, but when I go beyond five I always feel the concession lady and the rest of the people in line judging me.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
People might have heard of deconstructed food – generally, food whose ingredients have been taken apart and put back together in some new and unique way, much to the palate’s advantage. Well, my husband has a deconstructed desktop computer, the advantage of which I still have trouble seeing. He hates hard computer cases, so the contents of his PC are spilled out on one end of my writing table like a whirring, breathing mass of mechanical intestines, settled on a series of trays in an attempt to appear more organized. You might imagine that would bring up all sorts of problems – dust clogging up the graphic cards and whatnot, for instance – but surprisingly it’s lasted the longest out of any gadget we own to date. (The hubby has always been lucky when it comes to technology. On the other hand, I have been known to cause things to malfunction or explode simply by glaring at it.)

At Your Service by Jen Malone
August 26, 2014 from Simon & Schuster/ Aladdin M!X
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

Thirteen-year-old Chloe Turner wants nothing more than to follow in Dad’s footsteps as a respected concierge in a posh NYC hotel. After all, living at a hotel is heaven, and perks like free concert tickets and all-access passes to boutiques, restaurants, and attractions aren’t too shabby either.

When the spoiled brat child of an important guest is only placated by some quick thinking on Chloe’s part, Chloe is awarded the role of Junior Concierge. But she might be in over her head when tasked with tending to the every whim of three royal guests: a twelve-year-old princess who can’t stand Chloe, a cute fourteen year-old prince(!), and their ten-year-old sister, who has a nasty knack for getting herself lost. After the youngest princess slips Chloe’s care, Chloe and the remaining royals must embark on an event-filled hunt for her through NYC’s best tourist spots.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Fun-filled adventures of a tween concierge (I always like to cheat a little-hooray for hyphenates!)

Why should readers pick up your book?
AT YOUR SERVICE is all about escape (escape as a plot point and escape for the reader!) It’s the sort of fun, happy book I loved- and still love- to read. The kind that, hopefully, leaves you sighing sweetly as you turn the last page. It’s also fast-paced and perfect for reluctant readers and, if you have a trip planned to New York City, this will 100% get you in the mood!!

What’s the best thing about being a debut author?
The newness of it all and the reaction it evokes in others. Just like people find babies so adorably sweet and innocent, those in the industry tend to smile indulgently at you when you introduce yourself as a debut author. They appreciate that you aren’t the least bit jaded and seem to really love bearing witness to a dream coming true.

What’s your favorite movie theater candy?
Milk Duds. Geez, easiest question EVER.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
Wow, some days this question could be a real doozy. At the moment it is a charmingly hand-drawn “ticket” for the one-girl show my seven-year-old has planned for this afternoon in our living room. It involves her dancing with a ribbon and is sure to hit Broadway in short order. My presence is not requested, but ordered!

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Debut Author Challenge 2014 – August Review Link-Up

Posted August 1, 2014 by Jana in Debut Author Challenge / 0 Comments

DAC20143Happy August, DACers! Sadly, summer is wrapping up and school is beginning for some of us throughout the next month. Don’t let that get you down, though! There’s still plenty of time to read those debuts.

I’ve talked to some more authors, and more ARCs and swag items are rolling in to the DAC headquarters, which is super exciting! Read lots this month, and you just might win one of our AMAZING prize packs!

July’s winner is Courtney from Courtney Reads a Lot with her review of The Art of Lainey! Check your email, Courtney, and congratulations! Thanks for an awesome month of reviews, and here’s to an even better one!

OH. And September brings a new DAC button! This summery one needs to be replaced with a fall one. You’re gonna love it. :)

Some things to remember:

– It’s never too late to join the fun! If you’d like to join or make sure you’re signed up, there is a sign-up list and list of participants located in the DAC 2014 Info tab at the top of my blog.

– Make sure to follow me at @debutauthorc for all the Debut Author Challenge news, including flash giveaways, Debut Dish post highlights, and information on our favorite authors!

– If you enter your review link on my blog, it will show up on Shannon’s as well. There is no need to enter your reviews twice.

– 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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