Exclusive Interview with Heather Kaczynski, YA Sci-Fi Author of Dare Mighty Things!

Hi guys! Today is the last full week of school for me, which is awesome! It’s also mid-terms week for me in two subjects, AP US History and AP English Language, so I’ll be focusing a lot on studying for them. What’s great for me is that I’m doing with most of my concerts, so my entire schedule is slowly easing up to where I can take a good breather on a weekday. You know what that means? More time to read (which I haven’t gotten enough of these past two weeks) and more time to blog! Today I have for you a special interview


About the BookDare Mighty Things

THE RULES ARE SIMPLE: You must be gifted. You must be younger than twenty-five. You must be willing to accept the dangers that you will face if you win.

Seventeen-year-old Cassandra Gupta’s entire life has been leading up to this—the opportunity to travel to space. But to secure a spot on this classified mission, she must first compete against the best and brightest people on the planet. People who are as determined as she to win a place on a journey to the farthest reaches of the universe.

Cassie is ready for the toll that the competition will take; the rigorous mental and physical tests designed to push her to the brink of her endurance. But nothing could have prepared her for the bonds she would form with the very people she hopes to beat. Or that with each passing day it would be more and more difficult to ignore the feeling that the true objective of the mission is being kept from her.

As the days until the launch tick down and the stakes rise higher than ever before, only one thing is clear to Cassie: she’ll never back down . . . even if it costs her everything.

Goodreads


Heather Kaczynski Interview

1. Your debut YA sci-fi novel Dare Mighty Things (which I loved so much) released earlier in October from HarperTeen, and it follows Cassandra Gupta as she contends against the smartest and strongest young adults in the one of the most rigorous competitions to become the youngest astronaut on one of NASA’s classified missions. If you had the credentials and met the requirements to compete in this contest, would you join? What do you think would be your chances of winning, and who would become your allies and enemies?

I honestly don’t think I would! I like it here on Earth, where everything is safe and green and is mostly designed to keep us alive.

When I was younger? Maybe – I was a lot more competitive then. But I’ve been plagued by anxiety most of my life, and fear has kept me from doing a lot. That’s why it was so fun to explore Cassie’s story in fiction – living vicariously through someone who fearlessly goes after what they want was really cathartic for me.

But if I was drafted into a competition like this, I’d be most like Emilio – supporting my friends and just enjoying the ride. I’d stay far away from Hanna, though.

2. Are you a plotter or a pantser? Did you ever surprise yourself as you drafted and revised your book?

I have more of a stepping-stone method – certain plot points I know I want to hit, maybe even the ending, but I don’t usually know how I’m getting there. For DMT, almost every character other than Cassie jumped out of my brain and onto the page fully formed. I didn’t plan any of Cassie’s friends before they came into being.

They were probably the most surprising part of my book – how Emilio and Mitsuko were both just THERE, alive and talking to me. I never knew what was going to come out of their mouths until they spoke. A lot of their dialogue remained unchanged from draft 1.

Dare Mighty Things3. How has living in Huntsville, Alabama—”The Rocket City” and home to the U.S. Space and Rocket Center (which is such a fun place to go, by the way)—influenced you as a reader and a writer? Has residing in Huntsville impacted Dare Mighty Things in any way?

I wouldn’t have written this book if I hadn’t grown up in Huntsville. It’s where my interest in space began. I’ve literally driven by a lifesize model of the rocket that took us to the moon twice a day for years. It made me think: here’s a testament to what humankind can do. And yet, this rocket – the whole space race and moon landing – is in our past. It ended years before I was born. It’s a relic of history.

It seemed so odd that we had gone so far and then stopped. That our greatest achievement had happened so long ago. Sci-fi is supposed to happen in the future, not the past. Everyone assumed back then that we’d be on Mars by now. What are we doing now? Are we regressing? Where might we be in the future?

I pondered this in the back of my mind for years. And then DMT was born.

4. Do any of the characters in your novel share similar personality traits with you or anyone you know?

All my characters probably share traits from people I know. I had a “mom friend” in high school who was the mature one and looked out for the rest of us and gave advice – a lot of her became Mitsuko. Another character has my claustrophobia.  Emilio has the part of me that wants to be friends with everyone but is secretly insecure. While writing Cassie, I discovered asexuality as a concept and a lot things made sense in my own personal life. So yeah, a lot of them share traits of my own or bits and pieces of others, just magnified and intensified.

5. With women highly underrepresented in science-related occupations, why do you believe it is important for more young girls to pursue STEM? What are some ways that people can promote the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields as possible career options for young women around the nation?

Oh, I could write a whole book about this. I think Bill Nye summed it up best, so I’ll paraphrase him: “Half our population is female, so half our scientists should be female.”

For a long, long time in our history, everything in science revolved around men. Even now, a lot of our medical training uses men as the default, the basis. We assume whatever is true for men is true for all humans, which is obviously wrong.

That’s why girls are diagnosed less with autism – they often have different symptoms than boys, and we judge them on the same standard. Nobody tells women that heart attack symptoms can be different for them – they only know what symptoms present in men. Men are not the default human specimen. We need different perspectives to prevent both conscious and unconscious bias in science.

When we exclude half the population, we deny so much possibility. Who knows how much faster we might have advanced if we had allowed women to have equal access to knowledge and training for the last two thousand years?

Don’t even get me started on the Mercury 13 – women who would have been candidates for the moon program – some of whom were even more qualified than the actual men who were chosen – but were specifically excluded from consideration.

Some things we can do to help: people who have children or work with children can try to remove biases against girls in science by checking their own biases. People with little girls in your life – buy her STEM toy for her birthday. Ask her what her favorite book is. Involve STEM topics in your everyday life: talk about the chemistry of food and cooking, the engineering of bridges, the physics of how kites fly. Let her play in the mud and get dirty and catch bugs; don’t just tell her how pretty she is. Include girls. Encourage girls. Listen to girls and their ideas. Ask them what ideas they have to solve problems; let them use tools and build things and experiment. Reach out to girls and encourage them to join tech clubs, robotics clubs, computer clubs. Don’t say “I’m so bad at math” or “math is hard” – let them realize it’s okay to be smart and to own it.

Teach boys that girls are smart and their ideas are worthwhile. Don’t discourage them from having “girly” interests. When we denigrate girls and “girlish” interests to boys, it encourages lifelong bias against women and their ideas. Boys who think girls are dumb are going to grow up into men who won’t hire women to work on their computers. It’s an insidious, widescale problem that we’re constantly fighting against.

But the tide is changing. Part of why I wrote DMT was to show a smart girl who knew she was smart and didn’t care what other people thought of her. We need to normalize ambition and intelligence in girls.

6. As 2017 is winding down, how would you describe your debut year? How did you feel when your first book was released into the wild in October?

Tumultuous! So many highs and lows, and so much work – I’m exhausted, and quite ready for a break. J While it’s been a great year, I wouldn’t want to live it again. Balancing the promotion of one book and the writing of its sequel is nuts.

Releasing a book into the wild is both exhilarating and nerve-wracking; you realize people everywhere – your neighbor, your boss, kids from your high school, book reviewers, your grandma – are going to read your words. YOUR WORDS. They might hate them. It doesn’t mean they hate you, but it’s hard to separate out those feelings at first.

And then there is, of course, the ever-present fear of not being “good enough.” Almost as soon as your book comes out, people start to move on and talk about the next big book release. It’s hard on your ego, to be in the spotlight one moment only to have it move on immediately.

But it’s okay. Publishing is a long game. I just try to focus on what I’ve already accomplished, and realize that five years ago, this was still an impossible dream. Feeling like you’re good enough isn’t just going to happen. You have to remind yourself, every day.

7. Why do you love writing? When did you first have a love for writing, and how was it formed?Heather Kaczynski

My parents weren’t readers themselves; I’d never see them read anything more than a magazine in my life, other than when my own book came out.

But they made a point to read to me and my sister from the moment we were born. And they never restricted our reading habits or choice of books (except to make sure we didn’t read at the dinner table – most of the time), so that recipe made for two voracious readers. Writing almost inevitably followed, for both of us. I think when you love reading, and you read enough books, you begin to want to create your own imaginary worlds.

The first story I ever wrote was in second grade. It was about a boy fox and his little sister ditching their elderly babysitter to have adventures. It was called “Mischievous Maxie.” I remember asking the teacher for a dictionary to look up how to spell “mischievous” and she was surprised I knew the word.

I still can’t spell mischievous, but at least now we have spell-check.

8. What are your favorite books, genres, and authors? Which ones have impacted you and your writing style the most?

I think the single greatest influence on my young self and my future writing style was the Animorphs series by K.A. (Katherine) Applegate. Any wonder why I write ensemble casts about teenagers saving the world with spaceships? One guess.

My favorite genres tend to be YA scifi and fantasy, but I also like adult crime mysteries and thrillers. I could never write one, though, since I am absolutely awful at guessing who the murderer is.

9. What do you do when you’re not writing? Is writing a part-time or full-time job?

Writing is a whenever-I-have time job for me right now. I recently went to part time at my day job, but my hours can fluctuate between 25 to 35 hours a week, and I have a 3 year old daughter, which is a job in itself. It makes it kind of impossible to have a set schedule, so I write when I can.

10. Since “What’s your cure for writer’s block?” is asked very frequently, what is one “cure” that did not work for you when you tried it?

I’d say one of the cures I hear about that doesn’t help me much is to “just write through it.” It’s good enough in the sense that writer’s block is more accurately described as “I don’t want to write” or “I don’t know what to write” but for me, I’m usually blocked because I’m on the wrong path. So if I just keep writing through it, I typically end up deleting all of that later on when I realize I’m going in the wrong direction.

It’s still helpful – I still figure out where to go in the end – but I think the best thing, at least for me, is to fix whatever has led up to the block because in all likelihood, if I fix the snag that blocked me, I’ll figure out the right way to go from there.

11. One Giant Leap, the sequel and conclusion of the Dare Mighty Things duology, is set to release in Fall 2018. Without giving away any spoilers for book one, could you give us any secrets or hints as to what we could expect in book two?

I’m afraid anything I say will spoil book one! So, all I will say is that you will see your favorites again – and I’ll give you one hint, which is an epigraph from the beginning of ONE GIANT LEAP:

“Our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s future. And we are all mortal.” -John F. Kennedy

12. Before you go, would you like to share any advice you have to any aspiring authors or writers?

Be kind to your fellow writers, be compassionate, read widely, be patient, follow the rules, and learn to be brave!

Thanks so much, Heather, for coming onto the blog! It’s so great to have you!


About the Author

Heather writes books for teenagers and other people who like books about teenagers. They’re usually about teenagers saving the world, because she really believes they can.
Heather never got to go to Space Camp, so she had to settle for writing about it. After graduating cum laude with a degree in biology from University of Alabama in Huntsville, she returned to her first love of books, and now works in a library near NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center. She lives with her husband, their daughter, and cats named after mythological figures. She’s not nearly brave enough to go into space, but she did twirl a fire baton in high school.

She’s represented by Kristin Nelson of Nelson Literary Agency.

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Happy Reading!

+ J.M.J.

~ Kester

Have you read Dare Mighty Things? Do you like YA sci-fi?

Comment below, or find me in one of my social media pages, and let’s chat!

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ARC Review: As You Wish by Chelsea Sedoti

Hi guys! Happy Friday! With the Christmas season underway, I am going to be extremely busy with concerts and schoolwork. Right now, I have two concerts tomorrow, APUSH and AP Language finals next week, and various performances scattered over the next couple of weeks. So I am going to be a bit offline at the moment because of that, but I will still post my usual two posts a week! Today I have a review of one of the first ARCs I have been sent by a publisher after I emailed them via their publicity email, so I am super excited to show you this review of As You Wish by Chelsea Sedoti!


About the BookAs You Wish

What if you could ask for anything- and get it?

In the sandy Mojave Desert, Madison is a small town on the road between nothing and nowhere. But Eldon wouldn’t want to live anywhere else, because in Madison, everyone gets one wish—and that wish always comes true.

Some people wish for money, some people wish for love, but Eldon has seen how wishes have broken the people around him. And with the lives of his family and friends in chaos, he’s left with more questions than answers. Can he make their lives better? How can he be happy if the people around him aren’t? And what hope is there for any of them if happiness isn’t an achievable dream? Doubts build, leading Eldon to a more outlandish and scary thought: maybe you can’t wish for happiness…maybe, just maybe, you have to make it for yourself.

Goodreads


4 Stars

Disclaimer: I received a free physical ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This will not affect my review in any way.

I loved Chelsea Sedoti’s YA debut novel The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett so much, so I was so stoked to receive a physical ARC of her newest book As You Wish for a review! However, as I read the reviews, and a lot of them were not too positive, so I became scared that I would not like the narrator that much. However, when I first started this book, I was blown a way. It was the first YA novel in a long time that I could not put down, and I devoured its 400 pages in just a few days. I just could not put it down even though I had a lot of stuff to do at the time. As You Wish is magical realism at its finest: Sedoti features a captivating wish system while shedding light onto humanity’s wants and desires.

From page one, I became fascinated with how the town of Madison revolved around wishing. I became entranced by the Wish History of many characters and the effects of them. The Wish History was definitely one of my favorite parts because I love backstory and world-building so so much! As You Wish felt so magical and enchanting that I felt torn between whether I would like to live in Madison or not (probably not, haha). I became so intrigued by the world-building of the book that I became sucked into it. I just could not put it down, and I just did not want to leave.

Usually I’m not too big of a fan of character-driven books because I usually need a plot or some sort of actual conflict and a goal to overcome it, but the story in As You Wish actually worked for me. Sedoti just surprised me in so many ways! In addition, I was afraid (from many of the reviews I’ve read) that I would be annoyed by Eldon, the main character/narrator, because he is obnoxious and annoying. While he did have a roguish personality, I became so connected to him. I knew his struggles. It was as if the whole town hated him but only I knew his deepest secrets, regrets, and fears. I loved his character arc, too—it definitely was heartwarming. He may not have had the best personality among the main characters I’ve read, but he is one of the only ones I felt a strong connection with.

As You Wish is one of the most thought-provoking and life-changing books I’ve read. The author uses the town’s wish system as a means of shedding light onto one of the world’s oldest themes: “Be careful what you wish for.” But she turns this usually clichéd moral into a reality that has affected the citizens of an entire town who has worshipped wishes so much that the residents have become blinded to its dangers even though they have become aware of its consequences. This novel got me thinking, “Are my wants and aspirations in the best interests for me?” So many times have the wishers (in the book) succumbed to thoughtlessness as their wishes may seem good in the short-run but later lead to little or unintended effects. While I do disagree with one section, this book has made such a tremendous impact on the way I view the “wishes” I have. As You Wish made me realize that many times what I want may not be beneficial to me and that sometimes what is best for me may not be what I had in mind.

Chelsea Sedoti is becoming one of my favorite authors because I’ve rated both her books five stars! Her prose never ceases to amaze me. As You Wish definitely lived up to the hype that The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett created for me. This book exceeded my expectations so much, and now I really want the next book Sedoti has in store. If I were an English teacher who has to give a lesson on magical realism, I would assign As You Wish! It effectively combines the fantastic with the ordinary, the unimaginable with the believable, the hopeful and the despairing. I was so fascinated with this book that I just could not, and I mean this literally, put this down. It felt so refreshing to read a novel that was so sweet and succulent that I just wanted to devour it all at once. As You Wish is a book you do NOT want to miss in the New Year!


Happy Reading!

+ J.M.J.

~ Kester

Are you excited for As You Wish? Do you like YA magical realism?

Comment below, or find me in one of my social media pages, and let’s chat!

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Exclusive Interview with 2018 YA Debut Author Lyndsay Ely about Gunslinger Girl

Hi guys! Today I am having my first every 2018 debut author on the blog, and I know I’m going to have many more here soon! Before we start, I just wanted to say that right now I am super busy with everything from school to extracurriculars to music performances, so blogging has honestly not been as much of a priority as it was before. Believe me, views in November have dropped so much because I did not much time to share posts. But to all of you that still read and enjoy our posts, thank YOU so much. It means a lot that you all are our loyal followers and viewers, and we look forward to presenting many exciting interviews, reviews, guest posts, and more exclusive segments! Today, I am so glad to be interviewing Lyndsay Ely, author of Gunslinger Girl, which releases next month! I hope you enjoy this, and please support Lyndsay by pre-ordering her book!


About the BookGunslinger Girl

James Patterson presents a bold new heroine–a cross between Katniss Everdeen and Annie Oakley: Serendipity Jones, the fastest sharpshooter in tomorrow’s West.

Seventeen-year-old Serendipity “Pity” Jones inherited two things from her mother: a pair of six shooters and perfect aim. She’s been offered a life of fame and fortune in Cessation, a glittering city where lawlessness is a way of life. But the price she pays for her freedom may be too great….
In this extraordinary debut from Lyndsay Ely, the West is once again wild after a Second Civil War fractures the U.S. into a broken, dangerous land. Pity’s struggle against the dark and twisted underbelly of a corrupt city will haunt you long after the final bullet is shot.

Goodreads

Gunslinger Girl is releasing from Little, Brown & Co. on January 2nd, 2018.


Lyndsay Ely Interview1. Your debut YA novel Gunslinger Girl is slated to release from Little, Brown and Company on January 2nd, 2018, and it follows Serendipity “Pity” Jones as she lives in a dystopian Wild West after the Second Civil War. How would you describe the world-building process you used for the creation of Cessation and a lawless, futuristic Wild West?

This is a hard question. How we tend to picture the Wild West is based on a romanticized Hollywood version of it. Which isn’t to say I didn’t draw from that, along with other fictional inspirations, but I was also inspired by plenty of real life things, like Wild West shows and Reconstructionism. As to Cessation, I basically pictured a gritty, lawless mash-up of Deadwood and the Las Vegas strip.

2. Were there any wild west or dystopian literature, movies, TV shows, etc. that influenced Gunslinger Girl? If so, what were they and how did they impact the novel?

Oh, lots. Deadwood, Firefly, Hell on Wheels, Brisco County Jr., The Quick & the Dead (1995), The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, The Hunger Games, Preacher, Transmetropolitan…the list goes on. I wouldn’t say there was any one main influence. Every source listed had a little (or a lot) of something that I loved—a setting, a character, a tone—and some of those things worked their way into Gunslinger Girl.Gunslinger Girl

3. How does it feel knowing that James Patterson is presenting your book?

I feel very honored! I remember reading the acquisition announcement for Kerri Maniscalco’s Stalking Jack the Ripper and thinking how great it sounded—it really stuck in my head. When I got the offer from Jimmy Patterson months later and realized it was the same imprint, I was over the moon knowing that it was coming from a team with a similar taste in books.

4. If you lived out in the wild west during the frontier days, what do you see yourself as? Would you want to be a sharpshooter like Pity?

In fifth grade we did a colonial fair (or something like that) where we all had to pick a profession from olden times—like a blacksmith, etc. I wanted to be an herbalist. My teacher was a little weirded out, but he let me do it. So that’s who I’d probably be—the apothecary with a shop full of herbs and tinctures and balms for curing all manner of ailments.

5. Your bio says that one of your favorite hobbies is antiquing. What has been your favorite antique store that you have visited, and what is the most prized or valuable item you have found and bought?

My favorite antique store is the Vermont Antique Mall in Queechee, VT. My late grandparents lived in the area, and I’d go there pretty much every time I visited. (It doesn’t hurt that they have the Cabot cheese tasting room there too—free cheese, woot!)

I’ve found more amazing things than I can remember over the years, but a favorite is one of my first pieces: a medieval knight’s helmet that opens to reveal a mini bar with a bottle and glasses. I think I was fifteen or sixteen when I got it, and it’s been a great conversation piece ever since!

6. Since 2018 is approaching very soon, how does it feel like knowing that your first novel is going to be published in just a few weeks? What are you most looking forward to as a debut author next year?Lyndsay Ely

I’ve had some friends have books come out already, and it never gets old being able to walk into a bookstore and find their book on the shelves. So that’s what I’m most looking forward to. Other than that, it’s a little scary. There’s a part of me that still doesn’t quite believe that this is a thing that is happening!

7. Why do you love writing? When did you first have a love for writing, and how was it formed?

I can’t really remember a time I didn’t like to read. At some point—I can’t quite remember when—I decided I wanted to tell stories too. I wrote and illustrated my first picture book in sixth grade, but it would be a couple decades more before I finished my first full novel draft. (I took a long detour through visual art; I wanted to be a comic book artist!)

8. What are your favorite books, genres, and authors? Which ones have impacted you and your writing style the most?

I’ve always been very drawn to fantasy and adventure stories. Some of the books that influenced my tastes when I was younger were the Chronicles of Narnia, the Nancy Drew mysteries, and the Young Wizards series. I also read a lot of comic books, both then and now. I tend to be more influenced by individual stories than authors, but some names that jump to mind are Alexandre Dumas, Diane Duane, Warren Ellis, Stephen King, Scarlett Thomas, and Terry Moore.

9. What do you do when you’re not writing? Is writing a part-time or full-time job?

Writing feels like a full-time job, because it’s rare for more than a few hours to go by without at least thinking about a plot or a character. But my real full-time job is as a marketing graphic designer at a publishing company. My life is books 24/7!

10. Because “What’s your cure for writer’s block?” is asked very frequently, what is one “cure” that did not work for you when you tried it?

I don’t have any “cures” that don’t work because the one I use always seems to work: taking a shower. I swear there’s something about thinking through a problem in the white noise of the water that works more often than not.

11. What could we expect from you in the future? Are there any secrets you would like to share about your upcoming works?

I don’t have much in the way of secrets, but my gateway genre was fantasy, so I’d really like to do something there.

12. Before you go, do you have any advice or words of wisdom you could share to any aspiring authors or writers?

Be persistent. Find a good critique partner or group. Be open to criticism, even when it hurts. Do your research (for your writing, for the agents you query, etc). And don’t worry if success doesn’t come quickly—there’s no time limit on it!


About the AuthorLyndsay Ely

Lyndsay Ely is a writer and creative professional who currently calls Boston home. She is a geek and a foodie,  and has never met an antique shop she didn’t like. Her favorite color is crimson, and her favorite book is The Count of Monte Cristo.

Gunslinger Girl is her debut novel.

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Gunslinger Girl is available for pre-order from IndieboundAmazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-Million, or through your local bookstore.


Happy Reading!

+ J.M.J.

~ Kester

Are you excited for Gunslinger Girl? Do you like YA dystopian novels?

Comment below, or find me in one of my social media pages, and let’s chat!

Email | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram | Bloglovin

 

 

November Reading Re-Cap!

Hi guys! Can you believe it’s December already? I’m already so surprised that this year has flown by so much! Yesterday I auditioned for the All State Honor Choirs (hopefully I made it–I already know but I’m writing this the day before, haha), and in just a few hours I am going to perform as the concertmaster for my county’s arts council’s concert of Handel’s Messiah, and I’m very looking forward to it! I also have a reading re-cap for you today, and I hope you enjoy this!

November


5 Stars

A Sky Full of Stars by Linda Williams Jackson

A Sky Full of Stars

Goodreads

Continue reading “November Reading Re-Cap!”

Exclusive Interview with Sandhya Menon, NY Times Bestselling YA Author of When Dimple Met Rishi!

Hi guys! This weekend is a very special weekend for me: Tomorrow I have my All State auditions and on Sunday I will be the Concertmaster for my community’s 50th Handel’s Messiah concert! (So your prayers would be greatly appreciated!)

Today, I am having a New York Times bestselling author who I met all the way back in May at her signing in Nashville, and a few weeks ago I posted a review of her debut YA novel When Dimple Met Rishi (which you can find here). I am SOOO excited to have Sandhya Menon with us on the blog today, and I hope you enjoy our exclusive interview!


About When Dimple Met RishiWhen Dimple Met Rishi

Dimple Shah has it all figured out. With graduation behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family, from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Ugh. Dimple knows they must respect her principles on some level, though. If they truly believed she needed a husband right now, they wouldn’t have paid for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers…right?

Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic. So when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program as him—wherein he’ll have to woo her—he’s totally on board. Because as silly as it sounds to most people in his life, Rishi wants to be arranged, believes in the power of tradition, stability, and being a part of something much bigger than himself.

The Shahs and Patels didn’t mean to start turning the wheels on this “suggested arrangement” so early in their children’s lives, but when they noticed them both gravitate toward the same summer program, they figured, Why not?

Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways.

Goodreads


Sandhya

1. I am a huge fan of your YA contemporary romance debut novel When Dimple Met Rishi, which follows Dimple Shah and Rishi Patel, two completely opposite teenagers who have been set into an arranged marriage by their parents and meet for the first time at the same summer program. Would you consider yourself to be more like Dimple or Rishi? What parallels do you see between you and the protagonists?

I am definitely a combination of both! I’m fiercely feminist like Dimple, but I’m a soft romantic artist like Rishi. I love so many traditions of my Indian heritage while also realizing we have a long way to go with feminism!

2. How would you describe your love for Bollywood film? If you and I were to go have a Bollywood movie marathon, what would we watch and snack on? (You can let your inner fangirl take over. 😉)

Ahhh, the Bollywood question! I love so many Bollywood movies. I’d probably treat you to Queen first, then Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi, and then the classic from the 90s—Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge.

3. You moved with your family from India to the United States when you were a teen, so did your experiences as you transitioned from one culture to another influence both you as a writer and the formation of When Dimple Met Rishi? How was it like trying to acclimate from the Indian way of life you grew up in as a child to the American lifestyle you first encountered?Sandhya Menon

Absolutely. I feel like When Dimple Met Rishi was a kernel inside me, waiting to be set free. Acclimating to the US as a fifteen-year-old Indian girl was terrifying! I felt like I was always two steps behind, and that people were constantly viewing me with either suspicion or comical bafflement. On the other hand, it helped me grow up so fast and I learned to find that solid core inside myself. I learned who I was earlier than people generally do, I think, and I’m so grateful for that.

4. Dimple and Rishi (along with many of the other characters in this novel) defy various Indian stereotypes. Why do you believe it is important to accurately portray racially diverse characters and their struggles, even among people of their own ethnicities?

I think the idea of a monolith of any culture is a farce. There’s no one Indian experience, just like I’m sure there’s no one Black/disabled/Latinx experience. We’re all products of the individual moments that make up our life, and that’s what I wanted to show. I feel portraying real people, fully fleshed out and living their lives, makes marginalized characters so much more relatable to people outside of that marginalization, something I feel we desperately need in this political climate in the US and around the world. And a big bonus is that it helps people who’ve never seen themselves as main characters in a novel before experience that, which can be incredibly powerful.

5. My favorite scene in the entire book (and I was laughing so hard from reading it) was when Rishi approached Dimple for the first time and said, “Hello, future wife. I can’t wait to get started on the rest of our lives,” and immediately afterwards Dimple threw her iced coffee at him and ran away. What was your favorite scene in the entire book, and which scene was the hardest to write?

Haha, thank you! I loved that scene, too—it’s definitely one of my top five! I’d say my #1 favorite scene is the non-date that—spoiler alert—turns into a date. 😊

The scene that was hardest to write was the one toward the end when Dimple begins to question everything and ultimately makes some decisions that make her and Rishi very sad. I don’t want to give too much away, but it was heart-wrenching to write that part.

6. Do you share Dimple’s love of iced coffee, and if so, where is the best place in the entire world to grab a cup to drink?When Dimple Met Rishi

Yes! I love my Starbucks caramel fraps. I also really loved Peet’s on the West coast!

7. Why do you love writing? When did you first have a love for writing, and how was it formed?

I love writing because I love people’s stories. I’ve always been fascinated by how we think, feel, and love. I began writing as soon as I learned to string sentences together for school

8. What are your favorite books, genres, and authors? Which ones have impacted you and your writing style the most?

I tend to read pretty widely, so I have quite a few! I absolutely love romance, especially romance with comedic elements, and I’m a huge Sophie Kinsella fan girl. I also really enjoy horror, and have loved novels by Shirley Jackson and Stephen King. Other writers I love and have influenced me in some way: Kate Chopin, Arundhati Roy, Khalil Gibran, Jenny Han, and Stephanie Perkins, to name a few.

9. What do you do when you’re not writing? Is writing a part-time or full-time job?

Writing is now a full-time job, for which I am so grateful! When I’m not writing, I love spending time with my family and my dog, going on hikes, gazing at the mountains, playing board games or video games (point-and-click adventures are my fave), and reading.

10. As 2017 is slowly winding down, how would you describe your debut year as an author? Could you describe your feelings when When Dimple Met Rishi received a widespread positive reception and made it onto the New York Times bestseller list?

It’s been so mind-blowingly incredible! Sometimes I still can’t believe that this rom-com about an arranged marriage between two Indian-American teens got so much reader love. I’m so humbled and grateful for all the readers who’ve reached out to me (like you, Kester)!

11. Your next two novels From Twinkle, With Love and When Ashish Met Sweetie (the companion novel to When Dimple Met Rishi) are slated to release in the summers of 2018 and 2019, respectively. Could you give us any hints or secrets on what we could expect in each of them?

From Twinkle, With LoveYes! I’m so excited because From Twinkle, With Love is written entirely in diary entry/email/blog format. It was my first time writing an epistolary novel, and I’m eager to see what readers think. Get ready for girl friendships and girl power, questions about creating art and finding your voice, and angst about what to do when you fall in love with the wrong person.

And in Ashish’s story, we’ll get to see our fave cocky jock Ashish fall in love with a girl, Sweetie, who’s completely different from him. We’ll see him being vulnerable, there’ll be some big conversations about what it means to be fat (and how that’s not a bad word), and a lot of heartwarming friendships.

12. Before you go, would you like to share any words of wisdom to aspiring authors?

Never give up…but also give up!

Let me explain: If you feel like you should stop writing because the words aren’t coming out right or it’s really hard to get published or the world doesn’t really want to hear your story—don’t give up.

But if you’ve been working on the same book for years, you feel like you’ve outgrown the story, or just really aren’t feeling it anymore—don’t be afraid to start something new. Listen to your creative instincts, and keep on keeping on!

Thanks so much, Sandhya, for doing this interview! I’m so glad to finally have you on the blog!


About the AuthorSandhya Menon

My name is Sandhya Menon, and I’m a New York Times and national indie bestselling author. I write books for teens (and those who still feel like teens inside!). I currently live in Colorado, where I’m on a mission to (gently) coerce my husband, son, and daughter to watch all 3,221 Bollywood movies I claim as my favorite. Also, I love my pets a little too much, as you can probably tell.

My YA contemporary novel WHEN DIMPLE MET RISHI is out now. Buy here or add it on Goodreads if you like!

Website | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest


Happy Reading!

+ J.M.J.

~ Kester

Have you read When Dimple Met Rishi? Do you like YA contemporary novels?

Comment below, or find me in one of my social media pages, and let’s chat!

Email | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram | Bloglovin

 

Exclusive Interview with Merrie DeStefano, Author of Fairytale Christmas

Hi guys! I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend! I know I did, especially since I had five days without any school. Now officially it is the Christmas season! Woo hoo! To celebrate Christmas coming upon us so soon, I am inviting Merrie Destefano, author of multiple YA novels–including Lost GirlsFathom, and A Dark and Twisted Heart–to talk about her latest book Fairytale Christmas. I am so glad I was able to talk to Merrie after the YA Halloween Book Bash a few weeks ago, and I fortunately won a copy of this gorgeous book! I hope you enjoy this interview!


About Fairytale ChristmasFairytale Christmas

“Three thousand years ago, a war began between the immortals and the mortals. It’s a war that continues to this day…

Before history began, a legendary queen battled a foreign army, braved the death of her husband, and faced betrayal at the hand of someone she trusted. This is the story of Eire, Queen of the Faeries, the Immortal One, and the leader of the Tuatha de Danann.

To this day, her homeland, Ireland, bears her name, and this is the story of the war that drove the Immortal Ones into exile. It’s also the tale of how she found help from an unexpected place, leading her to a love like she had never known before.

Fairytale Christmas is a story that spans thousands of years. It’s also the beginning of all of our fairytales and legends; it’s where mortals and immortals survive because they love one another, proving that love is the greatest gift of all.

This is the first installment in the Saga of the Fair Folk, a journey that lasts until the end of time.”

Fairytale Christmas is releasing from Ruby Slippers Press on December 4th!

Goodreads


Merrie

1. Why do you love writing? When did you first have a love for writing, and how was it formed?

First, thank you very much for inviting me here today, Kester! I sincerely appreciate it. Now to answer your questions: Writing is my way of escape. I started writing when I was fairly young; I focused on it pretty heavily in junior high, abandoned it for awhile, but started it up again when I was about 22 years old. I’ve always struggled between art and writing, trying to balance them, but one has almost always won and overshadowed the other. I studied Fine Art in college, and I worked as a graphic designer/illustrator for many years. But I honestly think that today I’m a much better writer than artist.

Fairytale Christmas2. Your latest book Fairytale Christmas is releasing from Ruby Slippers Press on December 4th, and it tells the tale of Eire—the Queen of the Faeries—as she fights in a war that led to the exile of her people. Since this book is set in Ireland, were there any parts that were inspired by Celtic mythology? What are some of your favorite Celtic myths or legends?

I was absolutely inspired by both Celtic legends and Irish history. I went back to the original legends, so not that many people are familiar with them, which surprised me. The Tuatha de Danann were most likely a real tribe of people who lived in Ireland and may have been more advanced than the people who lived there before them—hence the legends that the Tuatha de Danann were gods. I wrote another book based on Celtic legends too: Fathom. That time, I wrote about Selkie legends.

3. Have you ever had the chance to visit Ireland? If so, what were some of your fondest memories and places you’ve been to? If not, where would you like to go?

Sadly, no, I’ve never been there! I’d love to go though. I don’t care which part I got to see. In my mind, every inch of it is gorgeous.

4. What are some of your favorite traditions that you and your family celebrate for Christmas?Lost Girls

I’m currently living a sugar-free life, but before that every Christmas had to have fudge and lots of it! I have a handful of Christmas movies that I need to see every year. They include The Bishop’s Wife, Christmas in Connecticut, Home Alone, and While You Were Sleeping.

5. Who or what would you say sparked your passion for reading and writing?

I think I was inspired by the SciFi/Fantasy books I read as a teenager. Anything can happen in a book like that. I love to be surprised and to go somewhere I’ve never been.

6. As a veteran author with ten novels and three art books under your belt, how has your writing process evolved from your first book to your current book?

I’ve learned to accept my process, which at best is chaotic. I no longer criticize myself for not outlining or for hitting a blank wall or for throwing out thousands of words. If that’s what it takes to get to the heart of my story, then that’s what it takes.

7. For over 20 years, you’ve worked in the publishing industry as a writer, editor, publicist, photo shoot director, jacket copy designer, and more. How has your background helped you as an author today? What are some of the most valuable lessons about publishing, marketing, editing, and writing that has greatly impacted you over the years?

FathomIt has all helped me because I’ve learned to look at a book or a story from every angle. I love that there are so many aspects to a good book, from cover copy to blurb to cover design to the actual story itself. Every part of it is crucial. Also, working as an editor has taught me to read my own writing with a critical eye. It helps me to see the flaws in my characters and my stories.

8. Out of all the books you have written, which one was the hardest for you to write, and how did you overcome your challenges?

Feast was definitely the hardest. First, I hit a wall half-way through the book and started over. Much later, I read those pages and saw that they were very good. I just didn’t know where to take the story next. In the end, that book was written and rewritten and rewritten. It was written in first POV, then third. It went from about 12 POVs to 5. It kind of drove me nuts! And it all came from my own inability to fall asleep. Hence, I created creatures that steal our dreams—you know those dreams you can’t remember when you wake up? Those were stolen.

9. What are your favorite books, genres, and authors? Which ones have impacted you and your writing style the most?

I prefer SciFi/Fantasy and mystery. As a teenager I adored the classic writers: H.G. Wells, Ray Bradbury, Robert Heinlein, Tolkien. Now I love Holly Black, Laini Taylor, and Michael Connelly. Books like Pines, Doll Bones, and Lips Touch Three Times are like poetry to me.

10. What do you do when you’re not writing? Is writing a part-time or full-time job?

I also work as a magazine editor for Victorian Homes magazine, Haunted: Myths and Legends magazine, and Zombies magazine. So that is my ‘day job.’ I also love designing book covers, but only for myself. Writing is one of those things that I can’t stop, but it is not an 8-hour-a-day job.

11. What can we expect from you in the future? Could you give us any secrets about your upcoming works?A Dark and Twisted Heart

Well, I have a great YA SciFi series coming from Entangled in 2019. I don’t know the date yet, but whoa, is it a good story and the characters are amazing. I can’t wait to get a cover for the first book, because I want to show it to everyone. In my self-publishing, I have a sequel coming to Fairytale Christmas in early 2018 called Wolf Haven. I’m almost done with the third story in my Dark Heart Chronicles. I also have a YA Post Apoc novella series starting soon—I really love that one too. It’s called the Outrunner Series.

12. Do you have any special advice or tips for any aspiring authors or writers who are currently reading this interview?

Don’t give up. Really, just don’t. It may take awhile to get published or you might publish your first book fairly quickly. But every story and every book that you write will help you to improve your craft. Learn from your mistakes, grow and study writing like the fine art that it is. Read a lot! And don’t just read books in the genre you’re writing. Read everything.

Thanks so much, Merrie, for coming onto the blog! It’s so great having you!


About the AuthorMerrie Destefano

CURRENTLY A FULL-TIME NOVELIST and magazine editor, Merrie Destefano’s next novel, LOST GIRLS, releases on January 3, 2017. Her other novels include AFTERLIFE and FEAST, both published by HarperCollins, and FATHOM, which was self-published. The editor of Victorian Homes magazine, she has also been the editor of American Farmhouse Style, Vintage Gardens, and Zombies magazine, and was the founding editor of Cottages & Bungalows magazine.

With 20 years experience in publishing, she worked for a variety of publishing/broadcasting companies that include Focus on the Family, The Word For Today, and PJS Publications (now Primedia). Besides editing and writing, her background includes print buying, writing/producing radio promos, directing photo shoots, developing new products, writing jacket copy for books, creating sales media packets and organizing direct mail campaigns.

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

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

Buy her books on Amazon!

Fairytale Christmas Lost Girls A Dark and Twisted Heart Fathom


Happy Reading!

+ J.M.J.

~ Kester

Are you excited for Fairytale Christmas? Have you read any of Merrie’s books?

Comment below, or find me in one of my social media pages, and let’s chat!

Email | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram | Bloglovin

Review: Station Fosaan by Dee Garretson

Hi guys! Happy Black Friday! Thank you SOO much everybody for all your support of the blog. We would like to thank every author who has been a guest on the blog or provided a book for review. We would like to thank every publisher and publicist we have worked with. We would like to thank every blogger who has helped guide us to become better book bloggers and reviewers. Lastly, we would like to thank every reader who has checked out the blog–without you, we wouldn’t be where we are at today. We hoped you had a wonderful Thanksgiving! Enjoy this review of Station Fosaan by Dee Garretson.


About the Bookstation

Earth scientists and their families stationed on the remote planet of Fosaan were promised a tropical vacation-like experience. But Fosaan, devastated from an apocalyptic event nearly three-hundred years ago, is full of lethal predators and dangerous terrain.

Earthers are forbidden to go beyond the safety zone of their settlement and must not engage the small population of reclusive Fosaanians, descendants of the survivors. Sixteen-year-old Quinn Neen plans to do both of those things.

When Quinn discovers a beautiful Fosaanian girl named Mira stealing food from his family’s living unit, he soon learns Earth’s government may not be telling the whole truth about Fosaan and the cause of the past disaster.

There are some who to restore the planet to its former glory by any means necessary. Quinn finds himself caught between his loyalty to his own people and what is right for Mira and her people.

Before he can decide what to do, the scientists are taken captive, stranding the young Earthers on Fosaan.

Quinn must go from renegade to leader and convince Mira to become an ally in a fight against an enemy whose very existence threatens their lives and the future of those both on Fosaan and .at home.

Goodreads


img_8613-1

Disclaimer: I received a free signed copy of this book from the author via The YA Gal’s Review Team in exchange for an honest review. This will not affect my review in any way.

Station Fosaan follows Quinn as he, along with two fellow Earthers and a Fosaanian named Mira, tries to save the scientists who are taken captive by renegade aliens. Although this book did not fully meet my high expectations, it still was a fun, quick read that was like a roller coaster ride. It was very light and easy to finish in a sitting or a couple of days. There were times I was on the edge of my seat, and I just wanted to know what would happen next! I was very intrigued by this book because the premise sounded very promising. While I did like the novel for the most part, it felt a little lackluster to me and didn’t have the “wow” factor I’m looking for in a story.

Usually with sci-fi action books like Station Fosaan, I am looking for vivid world-building and a plot that sucks you right in, but it took me a while to get into this book. Although I did trim to “skim-read” the first few chapters (I was trying out a new reading style that would have supposedly made me more efficient, but it failed), I was stilled confused on certain details, such as where exactly everything was placed. There was a lot of world-building potential, but this book needed more description on the history of Fosaan (not just bits and snippets), the geography of the planet, the location of the Earther structures, the history of Earth in that futuristic world, etc. There’s a lot of questions I have that need some explaining.

Even though I did not love this book as much as I had hoped to, I will still be looking forward to the next book in the series. Hopefully all the questions I have will be answered, and the sequel will pull of an “A Time to Speak” in which it blows me away. I wouldn’t be afraid of trying out this book if I were you—there is a good possibility you will like it more than I did. I wish I could have found that “wow” factor. However, I have a good feeling I could discover it when I pick up the sequel. If you like science fiction novels set in extraterrestrial planets and cultures, then Station Fosaan is the book for you!


Happy Reading!

+ J.M.J.

~ Kester

Have you read Station Fosaan? Do you like sci-fi?

Comment below, or find me in one of my social media pages, and let’s chat!

Email | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram | Bloglovin

Aaru by David Meredith

Happy Thanksgiving! 🦃🍁🍽 I personally am very thankful for each and every one of you that read my reviews. Thank you!

Disclaimer: I received a paperback copy of this novel from the author in exchange for an honest review. Goodreads Description: Rose is dying. Her body is wasted and skeletal. She is too sick and weak to move. Every day is an agony and her only hope is that death will find her swiftly before the pain grows too great to bear. She is sixteen years old. Rose has made peace with her fate, but her younger sister, Koren, certainly has not. Though all hope appears lost Koren convinces Rose to make one final attempt at saving her life after a mysterious man in a white lab coat approaches their family about an unorthodox and experimental procedure. A copy of Rose’s radiant mind is uploaded to a massive super computer called Aaru – a virtual paradise where the great and the righteous might live forever in an arcadian world free from pain, illness, and death. Elysian Industries is set to begin offering the service to those who can afford it and hires Koren to be their spokes-model. Within a matter of weeks, the sisters’ faces are nationally ubiquitous, but they soon discover that neither celebrity nor immortality is as utopian as they think. Not everyone is pleased with the idea of life everlasting for sale. What unfolds is a whirlwind of controversy, sabotage, obsession, and danger. Rose and Koren must struggle to find meaning in their chaotic new lives and at the same time hold true to each other as Aaru challenges all they ever knew about life, love, and death and everything they thought they really believed.

Rating: 4/5

I’m normally not a fan of sci-fi. But with that being said,I was immediately sucked into Rose and Koren’s unique world(s). It was well written and powerful, many times I found myself in tears over the unfairness and the powerful emotions that flew off the pages. David Meredith does a fantastic job of covering difficult and challenging subjects. He uses a lot of detail in his book making it easy to relate to both Rose and Koren, along with their parents.

Overall, I highly recommend for thosewho love sci-fi and maybe for thoseof you that don’t.

ARC Review: That Thing We Call a Heart by Sheba Karim

Hiya guys! I am super glad I got to win an ARC copy of That Thing We Call a Heart by Sheba Karim from Mindy McGinnis’s amazing website Writer, Writer Pants on Fire. I actually have met Sheba twice, and she was super nice! I got to first see her at the SE-YA Book Fest and later have her sign my beautiful ARC at Sandhya Menon’s signing for When Dimple Met Rishi (it is such an amazing book by the way) since she conversed with Sandhya over her debut. She is such a great and talented writer, and here’s my review of her newest YA novel That Thing We Call a Heart..


About the Book25752164

Shabnam Qureshi is a funny, imaginative Pakistani-American teen attending a tony private school in suburban New Jersey. When her feisty best friend, Farah, starts wearing the headscarf without even consulting her, it begins to unravel their friendship. After hooking up with the most racist boy in school and telling a huge lie about a tragedy that happened to her family during the Partition of India in 1947, Shabnam is ready for high school to end. She faces a summer of boredom and regret, but she has a plan: Get through the summer. Get to college. Don’t look back. Begin anew.

Everything changes when she meets Jamie, who scores her a job at his aunt’s pie shack, and meets her there every afternoon. Shabnam begins to see Jamie and herself like the rose and the nightingale of classic Urdu poetry, which, according to her father, is the ultimate language of desire. Jamie finds Shabnam fascinating—her curls, her culture, her awkwardness. Shabnam finds herself falling in love, but Farah finds Jamie worrying.

With Farah’s help, Shabnam uncovers the truth about Jamie, about herself, and what really happened during Partition. As she rebuilds her friendship with Farah and grows closer to her parents, Shabnam learns powerful lessons about the importance of love, in all of its forms.

Featuring complex, Muslim-American characters who defy conventional stereotypes and set against a backdrop of Radiohead’s music and the evocative metaphors of Urdu poetry, THAT THING WE CALL A HEART is a honest, moving story of a young woman’s explorations of first love, sexuality, desire, self-worth, her relationship with her parents, the value of friendship, and what it means to be true.

Goodreads


A 4 Star

Disclaimer: I won a free ARC of this book in a giveaway.

Overall Thoughts: I am super glad that I was able to win Sheba Karim’s That Thing We Call a Heart from a giveaway Mindy McGinnis held on her website Writer, Writer Pants on Fire. I loved this book a lot. It definitely was one that I couldn’t put down. I finished this while waiting for my dad at Sam’s Club! It was not only cute, but it was also enlightening. This is a tale that will stay with you for a while because the lessons in this book are priceless. This was an amazing romance and coming-of-age story!

Continue reading “ARC Review: That Thing We Call a Heart by Sheba Karim”

A Review of A Time To Rise by Nadine Brandes & ICYMI: The Cover Reveal for Fawkes!

Hi guys! Today, I am at the TN All Northwest Choral Festival, so I will be very slow at responding to any messages I receive! If you’re reading this on the Friday that this review was posted, I am probably singing or having fun with my choir. Once my concert is done the next day, I will be back to my normal routine!

Earlier this week, we invited Nadine Brandes to talk to us about her YA Christian dystopian fiction Out of Time trilogy and to also unveil the cover of her newest book Fawkes, a YA historical fantasy based on the Gunpowder Plot of 1605. I’m a big history nerd, so when I first read the synopsis of the book, excitement filled my entire body. This book cannot come any sooner! And if you look at the gorgeous cover, you can see why I think it’s going to be a beauty!

I hope you enjoy this review of A Time to Rise by Nadine Brandes, the third book in her Out of Time Trilgoy!


About A Time to RiseA Time to Rise

What more can you sacrifice than your life?

Parvin Blackwater is dead.

At least…that’s what the Council—and the world—thinks. But her sacrifice tore down part of the Wall long enough to stir up hope and rebellion in the people. Now she will rise again. Strong, free, and fearless.

Parvin and Solomon must uncover the mysterious clues that Jude left behind in order to destroy the projected Wall once and for all. Meanwhile, the Council schemes to new levels of technology in its attempts to keep the people contained. Can a one-handed Radical and a scarred ex-Enforcer really bring shalom to the world?Goodreads


4 Stars

Disclaimer: I received a free e-copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. This will not affect my review in any way.

After finishing this book, I am feeling many emotions when I think about A Time to Rise. On one hand, I am super sad that I have completed such an amazing series that has touched my heart and changed my life. On the other hand, I am so happy about the ending and how the series turned out. When I first started this series, I did not have high hopes–I did not like the first book and did not plan on starting the second. Before New Year’s of this year, I felt a spark from God inside of me to talk to Nadine about how to be more active in the Facebook Street Team and how I didn’t like the first book. Nadine, being one of the sweetest authors ever, understood and sent me the next book to read in case I wanted to start on it. I do not at all regret that decision. Although I did like A Time to Speak better (the second book in the series that is so amazing), this book is so thought-provoking and inspiring that it will change your outlook on life itself. Reading this has filled me up with so much joy and love and optimism that I wished it did not end! I highly encourage everyone to read not only A Time to Rise but the entire Out of Time series as well!

A Time to Rise is such a powerful faith-filled book that will inspire you to continue to strive for the glory of God, to never give up, to trust in Him, and to live life day-to-day and to the fullest. This book has definitely impacted me by reminding me that I need to constantly trust in God and to not worry about everything, for He will guide me to accomplish His Will. Parvin’s journey to achieve her mission of tearing down the Wall that divides the North American continent will motivate you to rely more on God to have unwavering trust. Sometimes, when I am stressed, I think about A Time to Speak and A Time to Die to help me get through my trials, that if Parvin can live her life without fearing death and with great faith to overcome obstacles, then I can do so too.

Once again, I have fallen in love with the entire cast of characters, even many of the antagonists. The author has the beautiful talent of creating multi-dimensional characters that are truly human who show exemplify both virtue and sin. It was so easy for me to relate to the protagonists in the book, from their struggles to do what it right to their longing to become closer to God and family. I cried and my heart felt warm during reunions and celebrations, and I loved it whenever someone had a happy ending or outcome. Even the villains were not portrayed as totally evil and one-dimensional: You could see remnants of goodness and God’s grace acting within them at moments. Each character was so lovable that I want to hug them all (even you Brickbat and Skelley).

For me personally, I think the second book in the entire series was the best one. It took me a little bit of time to get into this novel, but once I got past the slightly rocky beginning, I could not set this book down. A Time to Rise transported me into the story so much that I did not want it to end! I needed more! This book put me on the edge of my seat so many times that I felt like I was in an action movie or on a roller coaster–I became so emotionally involved in the story that I felt as if I was an actual part of it. That is a skill that only a few writers can master, and Nadine Brandes accomplished it. As much as I am very satisfied with the resolution of the plot, I just want more from the Time to Die world! I will definitely be looking forward to more of Nadine’s future novels! She is an author you do NOT want to miss!


Speaking of future work…

If you missed the cover reveal for Nadine’s newest book Fawkes, you can see it below! You can also check out our celebratory interview here, in which she talks about writing her amazing Out of Time series!

Now for the exciting part…

Here is the gorgeous cover of Nadine’s upcoming book Fawkes!

Fawkes

About Fawkes

Thomas Fawkes is turning to stone, and the only cure to the Stone Plague is to join his father’s plot to assassinate the king of England.

Silent wars leave the most carnage. The wars that are never declared, but are carried out in dark alleys with masks and hidden knives. Wars where color power alters the natural rhythm of 17th century London. And when the king calls for peace, no one listens until he finally calls for death.

But what if death finds him first?

Keepers think the Igniters caused the plague. Igniters think the Keepers did it. But all Thomas knows is that the Stone Plague infecting his eye is spreading. And if he doesn’t do something soon, he’ll be a lifeless statue. So when his Keeper father, Guy Fawkes, invites him to join the Gunpowder Plot—claiming it will put an end to the plague—Thomas is in.

The plan: use 36 barrels of gunpowder to blow up the Igniter King James.

The problem: Doing so will destroy the family of the girl Thomas loves. But backing out of the plot will send his father and the other plotters to the gallows. To save one, Thomas will lose the other.

No matter Thomas’s choice, one thing is clear: once the decision is made and the color masks have been put on, there’s no turning back.

Fawkes by Nadine Brandes will release on July 10th, 2018 from Thomas Nelson (HarperCollins)

Here is the link for the cover reveal announcement:

http://bit.ly/FawkesBook

Add Fawkes on Goodreads, and pre-order it from Amazon here!

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About Nadine BrandesNadine

I am an adventurer, fusing authentic faith with bold imagination. I never received my Hogwarts letter, but rest assured I’m no Muggle (and would have been in Ravenclaw House, thank you very much.) This Harry Potter super-nerd has been known to eat an entire package of Oreos (family-size) by herself, and watches Fiddler on the Roof at least once a year. I write about brave living, finding purpose, and other worlds soaked in imagination. My dystopian trilogy (The Out of Time Series) challenged me to pursue shalom, which is now my favorite word (followed closely by bumbershoot.) When I’m not taste-testing a new chai or editing fantasy novels, me and my knight-in-shining armor (nickname: “hubby”) are out pursuing adventures.

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Happy Reading!

+ J.M.J.

~ Kester

Have you read the Out of Time series? What do you think about Nadine’s new book?

Comment below, or find me in one of my social media pages, and let’s chat!

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