Interview with Denise Deegan!

Today on the blog, we have YA author Denise Deegan with us for an interview! We are so excited to have Denise on the blog today to answer some of our questions! 

Denise has been a nurse, china restorer, pharmaceutical sales rep, public relations consultant, college lecturer and entrepreneur. The only she has lasted at has been storytelling. Her favourite books include Holes by Louis Sachar, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, Veronica Decides to Die by Paulo Coehlo, Never Let me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro, The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas. Her favourite movies include (and go far beyond): Les Intouchables, Forrest Gump, Mean Girls, Legally Blonde, My Cousin Vinny, A Bronx Tale and Toy Story. Denise believes that we all need story to step back from reality. And that stories make us better, more empathetic people. 

Keep up with Denise: Website / Twitter / Instagram / Goodreads

The Book Bratz: First of all, what's your favorite part of being an author?

Denise: I love living two lives at once, my own and that of my main character. I inhabit my character. I become her and dive into another world. Sometimes this means becoming a teenager again. Sometimes it means time travel. 

The Book Bratz: In your opinion, what's the best part of the writing process? What's the hardest?

Denise: The best part is when your characters take over and all your plans go out the window. This means that your story has come to live. It will surprise readers as much as it is surprising you. When this happens it doesn’t feel like work. It is a joy. The hardest is finding time for everything. At the moment, I’m writing a novel, a screenplay and developing an idea for a TV series. At the back of my mind is the feeling that I should be spending more time marketing. There really is no switching off. Ever. Though I know that this is my own fault! 

The Book Bratz: Where did you get the ideas for your stories?

Denise: Each story is different. I didn’t plan to write a YA series. I had been writing women’s fiction. An artist friend and I met to talk about collaborating on a picture book. We came up with a terrible idea – about a father who goes to visit various countries for work then comes home to tell his daughter all about them. So boring we abandoned the idea. But…My friend went to the bathroom. Alone again, a conversation burst into my head. It was between an angry, sarcastic yet vulnerable teen and her dad. I didn’t know where it came from but I wrote it down on a napkin. I’d just finished a two-book deal with Penguin. I was free. So…I decided to see where this story would take me. It became And By The Way, the first in a trilogy of coming-of-age novels. And By The Way features a girl called Alex who is struggling with the loss of her mother. When it was published, a journalist asked me where the idea had come from. It struck me: I think it was my subconscious reacting to the picture book idea, telling me that it’s not necessarily a good thing for a parent to be absent.

The Book Bratz: Who was your favorite character of all time to write? Who was the most difficult?

Denise: That’s such a great question because now I get to revisit all my characters! I wrote a novel called Pause to Rewind about a single mom who has to face two big things she has been avoiding in her past when her little boy, Charlie becomes ill. I completely fell in love with Charlie. When the book was finished, I missed him so badly. When a journalist was interviewing me about this story (and weirdly she had so much in common with the main character), to my shame, I began to cry because I missed Charlie so much. I told her not to print that. She did! I have also two beloved characters who were unplanned but came to life in my historical YA, Through the Barricades. One was a little orphan girl called Lily who had a way of making sense of everything for the main character. The second was an angry teenage rebel called Patrick who was hard on the outside but soft on the inside. Loved him! Oh, gosh, I also loved Louis in the YA trilogy, The Butterfly Novels. I’ll stop now!

The Book Bratz: What surprised you the most about the publishing process?

Denise: The joy of indie publishing. I had been published by a lot of the big publishers, Hachette, Penguin Random House etc. When my books went out of print, I self-published them. It has been an amazing adventure to take control of the process, to reach readers all over the world, to be in charge of your destiny. 

The Book Bratz: Have you felt any significant differences between writing YA fiction and writing women's fiction?

Denise: Yes. Life is never lived with as much passion as it is as a teenager. Writing YA fiction is a much more emotional experience. Also teenagers are such an appreciative audience. They get in touch to let you know how much they loved your characters, your stories, your world. They explain how the books impacted their world. They remind you why you are writing. There is nothing like a YA audience. 

The Book Bratz: What is your biggest piece of advice for aspiring authors?

Denise: Write what you love. Write with a truthful voice. Don’t try to sound literary. Just be you. Also, read. I have been asked to judge so many writing competitions. You can always tell the readers. Their work just shines. They are so familiar with story, they know things instinctively, like writing characters whose motivations are true. They know when the pace needs to be picked up. They know where to take readers. They have learned all this by osmosis, when absorbed in other worlds. 

Thank you so much to Denise for stopping by and answering our questions! We love interviewing YA authors, and we hope that you enjoy these chats, too!

Celebrate So Excited GIF by Hey Violet

Review: The Ex Talk by Rachel Lynn Solomon

Title: The Ex Talk
Author: Rachel Lynn Solomon
Publisher: Berkley
Rating: 5/5 Stars
Paperback, 352 Pages
Published January 2021
Summary: Shay Goldstein has been a producer at her Seattle public radio station for nearly a decade, and she can't imagine working anywhere else. But lately it's been a constant clash between her and her newest colleague, Dominic Yun, who's fresh off a journalism master's program and convinced he knows everything about public radio. When the struggling station needs a new concept, Shay proposes a show that her boss green-lights with excitement. On The Ex Talk, two exes will deliver relationship advice live, on air. Their boss decides Shay and Dominic are the perfect co-hosts, given how much they already despise each other. Neither loves the idea of lying to listeners, but it's this or unemployment. Their audience gets invested fast, and it's not long before The Ex Talk becomes a must-listen in Seattle and climbs podcast charts. As the show gets bigger, so does their deception, especially when Shay and Dominic start to fall for each other. In an industry that values truth, getting caught could mean the end of more than just their careers.

After seemingly everyone and their mother recommended this book to me, I knew that I had to pick it up. I've been a huge fan of Rachel Lynn Solomon for awhile, especially loving TODAY TONIGHT TOMORROW last year (which you can read my review of here!), so when I found out about her adult romantic comedy debut, I was totally on board. And let me just tell you, this book is SO worth it. If you're a rom-com fan, this one needs to be on your radar, without a single doubt. So without further ado, let's get into my review!

As the summary explains, the story follows Shay, a young woman working as a producer of a public radio show. She absolutely can't stand her co-worker, Dominic, but when their careers and the livelihood of the station are on the line, they agree to do a radio show called The Ex Talk, where they pretend to be exes who once dated and are now sharing relationship advice for the whole world to hear. But the big issue? They didn't date. So even though they're doing what they can to save themselves, and Shay is achieving her dream of being on the radio, it means that they have to lie to their fans in order to do it. But while they're fake-dating and fake-breaking up, they start to feel some real feelings for each other that can't be ignored...and can definitely lead to trouble.

You guys, I cannot say enough great things about this book. I absolutely adored it! Not only is the cover absolutely gorgeous, which made me extra excited about it from the start, but it's also just such an awesome premise. Enemies-to-fake-dating-to-lovers? That's all of my favorite tropes wrapped up into one! Seriously, I spent this whole book swooning or laughing or gasping around every turn. Dominic and Shay's dynamic, first sour and then sweet, feels really well written and I love the way that their story moves along without anything feeling unnatural or forced. And this book definitely inspired me to look into some more contemporary romance/pop culture podcasts, so if anyone has any recommendations, please comment down below and let me know!

I also really loved the way that Shay is encouraged to find more of herself throughout the story. As another young person who is also growing up in a world where it feels like work has to be our whole identity and we can't separate ourselves from it -- especially working from home in the time that we live in -- it can be really scary to try to explore who you are outside of that. So in addition to the swoon-worthy romance taking place in the story, I also thought it was really refreshing to see a young person like me finding ways to separate themselves from their work lives and to find out who they are when they aren't just doing things for pay. It made me feel a lot more seen in a way that I hadn't been expecting.

Overall, I absolutely adored The Ex Talk and I sincerely hope that Rachel Lynn Solomon continues to write adult contemporary romances, because I am absolutely on board with this. If you're looking for a sweet read to settle in with and laugh, cry, swoon, and gasp throughout the whole thing, then this is definitely a book that you need on your TBR! 


Book Blitz & Giveaway: The First Man by Alex Kelly!

The First Man
Alex Kelly
(From Connemara With Love #2)
Publication date: February 25th 2021
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, LGBTQ+, Romance


Do you want to know what it means to live like me?
It means being forced not to look at him, not to touch him, not to be left alone in the same room as him.
Not to seek him out. Not to want him.
Not to love him.
Do you know how it feels to spend your entire life pretending to be someone else? Do you know what it’s like to love someone who doesn’t want to be loved?
I’ll tell you how it feels.
It feels as if you’re living in constant torment: you know which path you should follow, but you also know that, if you follow that path, you can never turn back.
And I can’t do that to him.
Every day I come back, because I know that he’s waiting for me.
Every day I promise him that he will never have to live without me.


Do you know what it means to live like me?
It means being forced not to touch him, not to kiss him, not to be able to leave the room while he’s still in it.
Not to breathe him in, not to lust after him.
Not to love him.
Do you know how it feels to spend your entire life pretending to be someone else? Do you know what it’s like to love the only person you’re not allowed to love?
I’ll tell you how it works.
You can’t seem to feel anything other than him; when you walk away, you know that you’re turning your back on the only thing that’s good in your life.
Yet you still walk away.
Every day I leave, knowing that he will be standing there, watching.
Every day I ask him to promise me that I will never have to live without him.

Goodreads / Amazon


He turns towards me, and I immediately regret getting so close to him, in the darkness, the roads around us almost deserted. No one can see us. I regret even coming here tonight, having watched him for three hours with my stomach in flames. I can’t believe I thought I could do this.

I can’t believe I told him that we couldn’t do this.

Not that it’s easy every day, seeing him in a crowd, always surrounded by friends, or with his family. Paddling around in a kayak, or playing a gig, talking, laughing.


He moves quickly, grabbing my face between his hands and bringing it closer to his, until our foreheads are touching. I can’t feel anything, can’t think, can’t speak; his hands are touching me, holding me against him. His large, warm hands are against my skin. I hadn’t realised how much I’d missed them until I felt their heat again. I didn’t think that wanting them on me, all over me, would be so painful.

And then, Andy kisses me, stripping me of my anger and making me forget why it was even there in the first place.

I grab hold of his wrists as he pushes against my mouth, breathing into me, reminding me of the reason I could never want anyone else.

Andy’s kisses aren’t easy to handle: they’re strong and powerful, fuelled by impatience and uncontrollable desire.

Andy’s kisses are laced with bitterness and silence. They taste of lost nights and bad timing.

Andy’s kisses taste of lies, of shortness of breath. They taste of mistakes and decisions we never made.

Andy’s kisses are pain and regret; they’re anxiety and frustration; they’re darkness and desperation.

I hate Andy’s kisses. I hate them so much that I can’t help but love them.

Author Bio:

Alex Kelly writes uplifting, emotional and heartwarming Romantic Fiction and Family Sagas.

She's a bibliophile, a Yogi, a lover of English literature and a baking enthusiast.

She was born in Italy but lives in Ireland with her husband, two children and a cat named Oscar.

Also writes as A. S. Kelly.

More at:

Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

a Rafflecopter giveaway

We'd like to thank the awesome team over at Xpresso for allowing us to be a part of this tour! If THE FIRST MAN sounds like something you'd be interested in, then don't forget to add it to your TBR!


Waiting on Wednesday: When We Were Them by Laura Taylor Namey

"Waiting On Wednesday" is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking The Spine where we highlight some of the upcoming books we can't wait to read! 


Title: When We Were Them

Author: Laura Taylor Namey
Publication Date: November 2nd, 2021

Summary: When they were fifteen, Willa, Luz, and Britton had a friendship that was everything. When they were sixteen, they stood by one another no matter what. When they were seventeen, they went through the worst. And when they were eighteen, Willa ruined it all. Now, the week of graduation, Willa is left with only a memory box filled with symbols of the friendship she has nearly destroyed: A book of pranks. Corsages from a nightmarish homecoming. A greasy pizza menu. Greeting cards with words that mean the world... It’s enough to make Willa wonder how anything could tear her, Luz, and Britton apart. But as Willa revisits the moments when she and her friends leaned on one another, she can’t avoid the moments they leaned so hard, their friendship began to crack. As Willa tries to find a way back to Luz and Britton, she must confront the why of her betrayal and answer a question she never saw coming: Who is she, without them?

As I'm sure everyone reading this knows, I am a huge fan of Laura Taylor Namey's work. I absolutely loved her debut novel, The Library of Lost Things, and her sophomore novel from last year, A Cuban Girl's Guide to Tea and Tomorrow, was one of my favorite reads of 2020. So once I found out that she had a new book coming out this year, obviously I added it to my TBR and have been eagerly anticipating it! So if you'll excuse me, I'll just be over here counting the days until November...

What are you waiting on this week? Leave your links so I can stop back! 

Top Ten Tuesday: Books That Made Me Laugh Out Loud

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl in which we create bookish lists about everything from our favorite characters to love triangles and everything in between! 

This Week's Theme: Books That Made Me Laugh Out Loud

For this week's Top Ten Tuesday post, I'm sharing ten books that made me laugh out loud. Books that have humor in them are some of my favorites, because it really makes the reading experience that much more fun! So without further ado, let's get into the ten books that come to mind:


So those are ten books that made me laugh out loud! What are yours? Do we have any of the same choices? What are your thoughts? Comment down below and let me know!

2021 Debut Author Interview: Anuradha D. Rajurkar!

In 2019, we made it our goal is to work with as many debut authors as possible and to spread the word about their debut novels. It was such a success last year that we decided to continue the fun for years to come! Follow us this year as we pick the minds of the 2021 debuts and chat with them about their writing process and what it's like to be a new author. Also stay tuned for news of giveaways, Twitter chats, and more!

At the end of 2020, we Tweeted about wanting to discover more debut authors and their books. We ended up finding Anuradha D. Rajurkar and her novel AMERICAN BETIYA, and we have been interested in it ever since! We are so excited to have Anuradha on the blog today to answer some of our questions! 

Anuradha D. Rajurkar is the SCBWI Emerging Voices Award-winning author of AMERICAN BETIYA, a contemporary young adult debut novel to be published March 9, 2021 by Knopf/Penguin Random House. It's a story of a teen artist's forbidden interracial love, her close-knit immigrant family, and her boyfriend's desperate desire to fit into her Indian culture--even if it means betrayal. Holding two degrees from Northwestern University, Anuradha spends her free time hiking the shores of Lake Michigan with her family, cooking Indian food, and obsessing over her next book, garden, or interior design project. A lazy knitter, passionate reader, and color-enthusiast, Anuradha lives in Wisconsin with her husband and two sons. 

Keep up with Anuradha: Website / Twitter / Instagram / Goodreads

The Book Bratz: First of all, congratulations! How does it feel to be a debut author?

Anuradha: Thank you so much! Honestly, I feel thrilled, proud, and terrified all at once. It’s amazing to think that this story I’d conceived loosely back when I was a teen is completed, edited, and soon-to-be published by Knopf. It’s so humbling, and I am beyond grateful to be at this point. 

The Book Bratz: In your opinion, what's the best part of the writing process? What's the hardest?

Anuradha: The best part of the writing process is the first draft writing of scenes. I work off a barebones outline, but so many layers are revealed about the characters in the actual writing of these early scenes. There is almost always a series of surprises to me while drafting at this stage, when my characters go from a conceptual sketch to what feel like actual people. These people’s thoughts and actions begin to reveal something important—something I don’t always fully realize quite yet. It’s during this early drafting that often my characters’ motivations come into sharper focus, so that I then return to my outline to reconfigure things and create new pieces that fit the puzzle of the picture. It’s a process that still feels wholly mysterious. The hardest part of the writing process for me is the final pass pages, which is the stage in the editing process just before the book goes to print. This is the stage when you can make minute changes such as swapping out a single word for another, but no splicing, dicing, or rewriting any sections—it’s too late for any of that! This is the dreaded point when you have to take a deep breath, remind yourself that you’ve revised many many times and so has your editing team, and that you are now at the point when THIS IS IT. That relentless aim for perfection ends here, and accepting that can feel scary. :) 

The Book Bratz: Where did you get the idea for AMERICAN BETIYA?

Anuradha: American Betiya was the story I needed as a South Asian American born and raised in the Midwest. The story came from my own need to explore love, culture,  the immigrant experience, empowering female friendships and the impact they all have when negotiating one’s own identity. These were just some of the issues my friends and I navigated in some form, and are the same ones that teens today continue to navigate. I used this contemporary fictional space to delve deeply into how sexuality, cultural taboos and expectations, and racism and patriarchy all play into our sense of self as young women growing up in America.

The Book Bratz: Who was your favorite character to write? Who was the most difficult? 

Anuradha: My favorite character to write was my main character, Rani. She inspires me in how ambitious and clear her career aspirations are—I always knew I wanted to be a writer, but didn’t have the confidence to go for it in earnest until this story banged down the door of my heart over many years, demanding to be written. Though Rani seems to have her act together in the beginning of the story, she has for so long yearned for love, ached for the bliss of being seen and feeling special. The nuances in her character—including her ability to overlook elements of her first love that could be potentially damaging—were exciting to write: She’s a real girl, making choices that are filled with compromise as a first generation South Asian American, and whose empathetic nature means she longs to see the best in people. I loved her funny, searching voice, and found her to be so loveable. Oliver was by far the most difficult character to write. In the beginning of the story, he comes from a place of being genuinely intrigued by Rani and her culture. He wants to be a part of it in not wholly objectionable ways aside from a few microaggressions (which, let’s face it, is quite routine for many of us). The challenge was to create a character in him that is layered, where we see how Rani might fall for him, while also showing the slow progression of his needs that lead Rani to compromise her very identity.

The Book Bratz: Are there any other books or authors who give you inspiration for your own writing?

Anuradha: Absolutely. The book that first inspired me to become a writer when I was around 22 is James Baldwin’s Another Country. Until then, I didn’t know books could go that deep into a psyche via narration and pitch-perfect dialogue, while handling issues of sexuality, race, and social justice with such amazing grace. I have also long admired stories by Arundhati Roy, Colum McCann, Alice Munro, and Jhumpa Lahiri for their tightly woven prose. In terms of young adult fiction, I am inspired by the ways love, culture, and identity is handled in I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson, Emergency Contact by Mary H.K.Choi, I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika Sanchez, Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman, and everything by Angie Thomas, Jason Reynolds, Jacqueline Woodson, Katherine Glasgow, Elizabeth Acevedo, and Elana K. Arnold.

The Book Bratz: What do you hope that readers will take away from AMERICAN BETIYA? 

Anuradha: I hope my readers might be able to recognize when a relationship begins to feel overly compromising. To embrace and take charge of their own identity despite pressures to fit in, or be the perfect daughter, friend, or first love. And finally, I hope my readers will see that sometimes there are no witnesses to the oppression you might face in your closest relationships, but you can find empowerment to be an upstander for yourself. 

The Book Bratz: Do you plan on returning to the world of AMERICAN BETIYA in the future, or do you have any other projects in mind? Can you tell us anything about them?

Anuradha: I am currently in new-story love that has me filled with so much excitement and joy; I’m in that annoying-to-my-family stage of researching and scribbling bits of the story and characters late into the night. It’s a new kind of novel for me, one that is stretching me creatively. I can’t wait until I can share more about it with you. <3

Title: American Betiya
Author: Anuradha D. Rajurkar
Publisher: Knopf
Publication Date: March 9th, 2021

Summary: Rani Kelkar has never lied to her parents, until she meets Oliver. The same qualities that draw her in--his tattoos, his charisma, his passion for art--make him her mother's worst nightmare. They begin dating in secret, but when Oliver's troubled home life unravels, he starts to ask more of Rani than she knows how to give, desperately trying to fit into her world, no matter how high the cost. When a twist of fate leads Rani from Evanston, Illinois to Pune, India for a summer, she has a reckoning with herself--and what's really brewing beneath the surface of her first love. Winner of the SCBWI Emerging Voices award, Anuradha Rajurkar takes an honest look at the ways cultures can clash in an interracial relationship. Braiding together themes of sexuality, artistic expression, and appropriation, she gives voice to a girl claiming ownership of her identity, one shattered stereotype at a time. 

Thank you so much to Anuradha for stopping by and answering our questions! We are super excited about AMERICAN BETIYA and can't wait for it to be out in the world on March 9th

Celebrate So Excited GIF by Hey Violet

New to Requesting ARCs? Here's How!

Are you a new book blogger, Bookstagrammer, or Booktuber who just started out and isn't quite sure how seemingly everyone you follow keeps getting advanced copies of books that you want to read? Then don't worry, because everyone starts out in that boat -- and we're here to help you out with some tips to get you on the road to receiving advanced copies of anticipated reads that you can review and gush about to your heart's content. So without further ado, let's get into it!

First: Some Basics

What ARCs Are

ARCs are Advanced Reading Copies of books that are coming out a few months (sometimes even longer!) later into the year. Publishers print advanced copies of these books as a way to distribute the book to press and media writers/agents/associates as a way of drumming up buzz for the book. You know how some books have glowing reviews from trade reviewers such as Kirkus *on* the day the book comes out? Yeah, that Kirkus writer didn't read and review the entire book in that single day. They read it and wrote their review waaaaay in advance, often by reading an ARC!

Why They're Important

Being able to review a book before its release drums up buzz about it, which helps everyone. Not only are people interested in what you have to say about it, but you're also giving positive press to the author and the publisher, because the more hype that builds around the book, the more other readers want to get their hands on a copy when it releases, either through preorders or hearing everyone else talk about the book. This happened to me just last month with The Ex Talk by Rachel Lynn Solomon, which I eagerly purchased on release day because of all the great things I heard some other bloggers said when they read ARCs of it! 

How to Get Them

There are two steps to requesting an ARC that you're excited about: Finding out who you're supposed to contact, and then sending them an ARC inquiry email.

Finding Your Contact

Our hardworking, fabulous friend Angel from Avid Reader has created this incredibly helpful Book Publicity Directory, which she is constantly refreshing and updating. Pretty much any publisher that we ever want to reach has a contact email address on there (and if they don't, you can usually find it by doing some digging on the company's site). We recommend bookmarking that page, because we are constantly referring back to it, even after book blogging for 8 years! 

Crafting Your Email

The email part may seem daunting, but once you create a pretty solid template, you can always feel free to refer back to it whenever you want to send an inquiry. We drafted up a template years ago that we keep in a folder and tweak whenever we want to send a request out!

Sample Email

Here is a sample draft of the ARC inquiry email we use when requesting a book. This is the exact email we use, just editing out our stats! 

Hi [Publisher/Publicist Name], 

My name is [NAME], and I am a Young Adult book blogger at [BLOG]. Our blog is run by three longtime friends and avid readers, and we use it to share our passion for books. We aim to have between three to five reviews posted per week, broken up with Waiting on Wednesdays, Discussions Posts, and Debut Author features, and other ways to promote authors and their books. 

I am interested in reviewing:


We have previously received review copies in the mail from you for review. I believe that this title would be a good fit for us and our blog. All of our reviews get posted on our blog, Amazon, Goodreads, and also get advertised on our Twitter/Facebook accounts.

Our blog has been running full-time since [DATE], and our stats are the following:

about [X] Views Per Month

about [X] Page Views Per day

about [X] Unique Page Views Per Month 

[X] GFC Followers

[X] E-mail/RSS Subscribers

[X] Bloglovin' Followers [INCLUDE LINK TO YOUR BLOGLOVIN']

[X] Twitter Followers [LINK]

[X] Instagram Followers [LINK]

[X] Page Views since the blog's beginning

If it is possible to receive this title for review, it could be sent here:


Thank you for your time and consideration! 



And that's it! When it comes to finding your blog's stats for this email, every blogging platform is different, but they all have a way to view your analytics. A quick Google search should clear that right up for you!

*IMPORTANT: Make sure that you're updating your stats regularly! Right before we send an inquiry, we pull this template out of our drafts and tweak the stats to make sure they're accurate.


Am I supposed to follow up with someone if I don't hear back?

We wouldn't nudge them more than once, if that. We mention this later below in the post, but it bears repeating here, too: Sometimes, you're just going to get ghosted. Publishers are busy people and receive a whole slew of emails every day, so not only do things fall through the cracks, but sometimes they just may not be able to send you an ARC.

Can I use a private contact email that another blogging friend used for a specific publicist/editor?

No, we don't recommend doing so! If a publicist or editor reaches out to us from their own email address offering us a review copy, we do not share that person's email address. For example, we are in touch with several publicists at Simon Teen, but if a friend asked us how to contact Simon Teen for an ARC, we would do one of two things: We would either ask the publicist directly if it was okay for us to share their email address, or we would refer the friend to the general publicity email address that the company has. 

Can I reach back out to a publicist for another ARC from the same publisher in the future?

Yes, unless they specifically ask that you don't. If we were in conversation with a publicist for a Simon Teen book, and then a few months later another book comes out from Simon Teen that we'd love to read, we tend to just find that old email chain and respond right there, as a way of refreshing their memory of who we are and how we've worked together before -- and then we politely ask if receiving an ARC of this new title is possible! But you can always re-send through the general publicity email address you find if you'd prefer that or lost the contact info of the publicist from a prior request.

*TIP: Keep a list of the publicists you're in contact with from each company, as well as their email address. DO NOT SHARE THIS LIST WITHOUT THEIR PERMISSION, but it is helpful to keep on hand if you're trying to reach out to someone you had already connected with, but couldn't remember their info!

What do I do with an ARC when I'm finished reading it?

There's pretty much one golden rule here: ARCs are not for sale. Seriously, don't do it. It's very not cool. Authors don't receive any portion of those sales. But there are so many other things that you can do with an ARC if you're finished reading it and decide that you don't want it on your shelves anymore! For example, you can donate it to a local library, give it to a friend, or host a giveaway for it on your blog, Twitter, or Instagram account. Whenever we have a chunk of ARCs that we finished reading and want to pass along, we take a drive around our neighborhood and drop them in Little Free Libraries around town for new readers to enjoy. Any option is great, but just remember -- don't sell them!

How early do I post an ARC review?

That's up to you, but we usually post reviews about a month or two in advance of the book's publication! But everyone does it differently and it's totally up to you. Sometimes, if we don't get to an ARC before its release date, we still post the review after the publication date. There's no hard and fast rule here!

Do I send my review/feedback to the person that sent me the ARC?

Yes -- but not the author. Reviews are for readers, not for authors. However, sending the link to your review over to the publicist that you connected with is a good idea! And if you forget/lose their contact info (which you shouldn't, if you keep that handy dandy list we just suggested), you can always tag the publisher -- again, not the author -- in your posts about your review.

Some Things to Keep in Mind

Only request ARCs that you're genuinely excited to read. ARCs are often printed in limited quantities, so you don't want to just go around requesting every single book that's out there, whether or not you actually care about reading it. If it's something that you're interested in or really passionate about, then of course, request! But we don't encourage you to just request a copy of the hottest upcoming novel just because everyone else is, even if you have no intention of reading it -- because there are readers out there who really do want to read that book, and it isn't fair to take that opportunity away from them.

Sometimes, you're just not going to hear back. Publicists are busy people and have a million different hard tasks to accomplish every day. Sometimes emails slip through the cracks, which is why sending one nudge is alright, but if you still don't hear back after that, then it's just best to make a note on your calendar for when the book releases so you can read it yourself, or enter some giveaways or borrow a copy from a friend. Even after blogging for 8+ years, there are still plenty of ARCs that we don't get our hands on! That's totally okay, and sometimes it just happens that way. The ghosting may hurt a little bit, but don't take it personally -- there are plenty of great books out there just waiting to be read.

Some growth is required in the process. When we had just started blogging and barely had any views or stats, we got rejected from almost every ARC inquiry we sent. It stung at first, but then as we started to work hard and grow, one publisher sent us an ARC and gave us a chance, and then two, and then so on. So if you're just starting out and don't get a lot of bites right away, that's totally alright! Focus on reviewing books that you already have, generating awesome content, and growing an audience. As those numbers start to climb, you may find some more success with requesting ARCs. 

(Insider tip: We've worked as publicity interns for a few different major publishing companies, and sometimes we only accepted ARC requests for blogs/sites that crossed a certain threshold of views, because those sites had large audience reaches, which is what publishers want. So sometimes, you're not doing anything wrong and just need a little more growth!)

Whew, that was a mouthful! But those are just some tips, tricks, and advice that we thought we'd share, since breaking into the blogging/Booktubing/Bookstagramming world can sometimes feel so daunting as a newbie.

If you have any more questions about the process, feel free to comment down below or hit us up via our email here!

Do you have any ARC tips of your own? Comment down below and let us know!

ARC Review: Where the Rhythm Takes You by Sarah Dass

Title: Where the Rhythm Takes You
Author: Sarah Dass
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Rating: 5/5 Stars
Hardcover, 352 Pages
Publication Date: May 11th, 2021
Summary: Seventeen-year-old Reyna has spent most of her life at her family’s gorgeous seaside resort in Tobago, the Plumeria. But what once seemed like paradise is starting to feel more like purgatory. It’s been two years since Reyna’s mother passed away, two years since Aiden – her childhood best friend, first kiss, first love, first everything – left the island to pursue his music dreams. Reyna’s friends are all planning their futures and heading abroad. Even Daddy seems to want to move on, leaving her to try to keep the Plumeria running. And that's when Aiden comes roaring back into her life – as a VIP guest at the resort. Aiden is now one-third of DJ Bacchanal – the latest, hottest music group on the scene. While Reyna has stayed exactly where he left her, Aiden has returned to Tobago with his Grammy-nominated band and two gorgeous LA socialites. And he may (or may not be) dating one of them…

I received an advanced copy of WHERE THE RHYTHM TAKES YOU by debut author Sarah Dass in exchange for an honest review, and I'm so glad that I did, because this ended up being a FANTASTIC book that I can't rave about enough. So without further ado, let's get into my review! 

As the summary explains, Reyna is living in Tobago and helping run her family's resort after the passing of her mother. In addition to juggling all of her responsibilities, she's also struggling with her best friend moving to London to pursue art, a former dream of hers that she gave up to run the hotel, while also still getting over the loss of her ex-boyfriend, Aidan, who moved to America and became a Grammy award-winning musician. But what she isn't expecting is for, after a few years, Aidan to visit the hotel and to see her exactly how he left her -- all while stirring up old feelings.

As I said, I absolutely LOVED this book. For starters, Sarah Dass does a brilliant job of painting the island of Tobago so vividly on the page. Even though I've never been there, I felt like I could close my eyes and visualize the island -- especially with all of the beautiful descriptions of the food! It made me so hungry -- and definitely eager to travel! I also really loved seeing Aidan come back to his home island after achieving success all over the world, and seeing what ways it did and didn't change him. Watching the mounting tension between him and Reyna was great, too! Overall, I just loved everything about this book, from the cast of incredible, hilarious characters, to the setting, to the tension and drama. I flew through this book because I just loved it so much and didn't want to put it down! 

Something else that I really appreciated about WHERE THE RHYTHM TAKES YOU is Reyna's growth from the beginning to the ending of the story. Without spoiling anything, all I'll say is that it was really incredible to watch her change from the beginning to the ending of the book. I totally understand her feeling of wanting other people to stay with her because she doesn't want to be left behind, which is something that resonates with me a lot more as I get older and so many of my childhood friends get jobs in other states and move away. So I get that feeling of wanting to fight change with every fiber of your being, which makes me really sympathetic to her.

Overall, WHERE THE RHYTHM TAKES YOU was a spectacular read that I will be recommending to friends and fellow readers alike for the foreseeable future. If you're looking for a story filled with love and loss, starting over and second chances, and learning to live for you in tandem with helping out those around you that you love, then look no further. WHERE THE RHYTHM TAKES YOU is Sarah Dass's stunning debut that will keep you hooked from the very first page until the very last. I'll definitely be reading more of her work in the future, that's for sure! 

And don't forget to be on the lookout for our 2021 debut interview with Sarah, coming soon!