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Friday, August 8, 2014


Handpicked by Dani Oden 
Publication date: August 2014
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult


College freshman Jill Holloway takes one look at the stuck-up girls going through sorority rush and nearly returns her borrowed dress and heels. Against her best judgment, she ends up falling for the prestige and parties, and snagging a bid from a top house. After moving in, she quickly grows skeptical of her too-perfect sorority sisters. She tries to ask questions, though no one will take time from their busy social calendar to give her any real answers.

Jill wastes no time digging for everything she’s not supposed to find, and soon comes face-to-face with a big and bloody secret hidden in her sorority’s basement. She knows she’s in over her head, but taking off so soon would raise the perfectly-plucked eyebrows of her suspicious new sisters. She’s stuck until she can make a smooth exit.

But the closer she gets to leaving, the more it becomes clear that it won’t be as simple as she hoped. A tempting fraternity guy, a best friend who needs her, and new details about what has really been happening in the basement have her questioning what her next move should be, and whether or not it’ll be worth the risks.

HANDPICKED is a New Adult coming of age, with elements of suspense and romance.



Under a moonlit, starless sky, I joined the crowd of passing girls who’d just been released from preference parties at neighboring sororities. Recruitment counselors lined the sidewalks, forbidding us from talking and herding us toward the biggest lecture hall on campus to fill out our preference cards. If I wasn't in the middle of it, I would have thought that hundreds of dressed up young women walking silently in rows might seem a little creepy, but who was I to judge? I was one of them. One of us.

At the end of the block, below a streetlight, was a line of guys in dress pants and collared shirts. A couple of them were all disheveled and wrinkly, clearly out of their element in the nice clothes, though for the most part they were a hot bunch. I tried not to stare but one in particular, with grayish pants, a light blue shirt and a face that rivaled the boyband posters that hung in my old locker, was particularly difficult to look away from.

When the wave of girls I was with passed, they handed each of us a rose with a crookedly cut tag tied on with ribbon. My cheeks burned as the one in blue held his back as a few girls went by and then handed it directly to me, smiling.

I wanted to stop and say something, but the sea of girls behind me pushed me along, forcing me to keep walking. I settled for a smile, the best one I could muster through shaky lips and soggy eyes. Once I was down the block, I peeked at the tag hoping to see his name, but all it said was, Congratulations on completing rush, from the gentlemen of Nu Mu Chi. We hope to see you at our parties this year.

I made a mental note to go to every single one of them.  


Is HANDPICKED based on events in your own life?
Yes and no. I had a sorority experience of my own in college, though it was nothing like what our main character goes through. She’s suspicious and skeptical and constantly questioning things, with good reason to. Though, I did tap into my memories of things like rush and pledge education and bid day to bring some realism to the story.  

How did you come up with the title of your book or series?
I wanted to play off the exclusivity stereotype in sororities and –spoiler alert!—there is a pretty big plot point involving a hand, so it was a natural choice. 

Who is your favorite character from your book and why?
I feel closest to our narrator Jill, since we see everything through her eyes. But, I have to admit I liked writing Hannah, with all her f-bombs, snark, and fraternity connections.

If you could change ONE thing about your novel, what would it be?  Why?
I would have loved to have introduced more of the members of Jill’s sorority. I had to really hold back in that area since most weren’t necessary for this particular story, but I’m excited to explore more of their personalities in future books.

Give us an interesting fun fact or a few about your book or series:
Hmm, let’s see. The girls are part of the Alpha Gamma chapter of Iota Beta, and each of those are Greek letters that stands for something important to me. I, B, A, G. That’s the fun part about using the Greek system as a setting, there’s lots of room for symbols and hidden meetings…

Can you tell us about your upcoming book?
I can say that Jill is still our narrator, and the story picks up just a few months after HANDPICKED ends, still in her freshman year of college.  And, she has more responsibilities now so the stakes are much higher. I’m going to leave it at that! I’m also working on a prequel, which I’m pretty excited about. Readers will see that Jill mentions that she used to be a camp counselor, so I’m going to release some stories from that part of her life.

Anything else you want to add?
Thank you very much for having me!


TWITTER - @MsDaniOden
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8390838.Dani_Oden
Blog: www.trapperkept.com (blog on pop culture & nostalgia)

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