Celebrating LILbooKlovers’s (Belated) 2 Year Blogoversary with My Research Paper on Middle Grade Literature!

Hi everybody!!! I had meant to post up a blogoversary post on May 28th–the day the first ever post went live on this site–but because of Boys State and last-minute activities, I was not able to schedule a post in time. But that is okay. It’s better to be late than never!

My opening remarks are going to be a bit short because I am way behind on posting (so my summer posts will be very erratic in the upcoming weeks) and because I want to get straight to my special gift for y’all. Thank you so much to everyone who has supported, helped, or contributed to the blog in any way. The blog has grown exponentially over the past year, and I have made so many connections with bloggers and authors all across the country. I appreciate all of the support and encouragement you have poured into my blogging and personal endeavors, and every kind word and cheer fills my heart up to the brim. To be able to make an impact on readers is what makes blogging worthwhile, and I am excited to see where this next year will take LILbooKlovers to.

For my AP English Language and Composition final research paper, I decided to use Middle Grade Literature as my topic. I wrote a total of 22 pages (along with 6 more pages full of cited sources) that explore why “The Importance of Middle Grade Literature for Adult Readers.” Yes, I wrote 22 pages. Yes, the page limit was supposed to be five to eight pages. Yes, I did get permission from my teacher. And yes, I did enjoy it. (Well, I liked the revising more than the drafting, which was really rough–pun not intended.)

Here is a little snippet from my essay if you would like a small taste of it:

By combining this experimentation of various genres, cultures, poetry and prose styles, and perspectives with the vast world of themes, issues, real-life inspirations and people, and conflicts, Middle Grade is an entire buffet of unique stories and qualitative writing that can be considered by many literary enthusiasts as modern classics. Alyssa Hollingsworth, author of The Eleventh Trade, reflects upon this high degree of excellence: “[I]t was just so amazing to me as I read Story Thieves that I was having the same metanarrative discussions on the same level that I did in an upper level English class at college” (Hollingsworth). Whether they possess subtle symbolism or majestic world-building or authentic realism, MG can be dissected for lesson plans in the classroom or discussed by readers of any age in book clubs and panels. It tackles a wide variety of issues in ways that more mature fiction cannot, and it has the power to promote unity and dialogue between children, adults, and their fellow peers, regardless of their backgrounds.

If you would like to read the entire essay and see the thoughts of many authors and professionals in the Middle Grade industry and community, please click the link below! I definitely hope you enjoy it!

The Importance of Middle Grade Literature for Adult Readers

In addition, I am being interviewed on MG Book Village (co-founded by the amazing Jarrett Lerner, author of EngiNerds), and it was really fun to be on the other side of the interview this time! Get to know a little more about me, my bookish life, and also my personal life as I approach my senior year of high school!

An Interview with Kester on MG Book Village

I hope you enjoyed my essay and interview, and thank you so much for celebrating our (albeit late) two-year blogoversary! It has been such an amazing journey to provide y’all with great recommendations and introduce many great author to you all, and I hope you’ll continue to stick with me and this blog.


Happy Reading!

+ J.M.J.

~ Kester

What are your thoughts on Middle Grade?

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

Email | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram | Bloglovin

 

 

 

Advertisements

Exclusive Interview with Mindee Arnett, YA SFF Author of Onyx & Ivory

Hi guys! I am a HUGE fantasy fan now. I used to have a strong dislike for the genre, but I’ve magically been converted as I read more books full of magic. One of the street teams I have been really active in this year is the Relay Riders for Mindee Arnett’s latest book Onyx & Ivory, which is super epic. Check out my review here on why you should read it! Today I invited Mindee on the blog to talk about Onyx & Ivory, and I hope you enjoy this interview!


About the BookOnyx and Ivory

They call her Traitor Kate. It’s a title Kate Brighton inherited from her father after he tried to assassinate the high king of Rime. Cast out of the noble class, she now works for the royal courier service. Only those most skilled ride for the Relay and only the fastest survive, for when night falls, the nightdrakes—deadly flightless dragons—come out to hunt. Fortunately, Kate has a secret edge: she is a wilder, born with forbidden magic that allows her to influence the minds of animals.

And it’s this magic that leads her to a caravan mysteriously massacred by drakes in broad daylight—the only survivor Corwin Tormane, the son of the king. Her first love, the boy she swore to forget, after he condemned her father to death. With their paths once more entangled, Kate and Corwin uncover secrets, both past and present, to face this new threat of drakes who attack in the daylight and the darker menace behind them.

Acclaimed author Mindee Arnett’s stunning new novel thrusts readers into a beautiful, expansive, and dangerous new world—one where trust is rare, magic is commonplace, and little is as it seems.Goodreads

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | IndieBound | Book Depository


Mindee Arnett Interview

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

My love for writing grew out of my love for reading and story in general. As a child, I started off telling myself elaborate stories with my toys, and when I hit the sixth grade my teacher gave me my first short story writing assignment. Once I figured out that “story” was an actual world I could get to just by putting my pen to paper, I knew I wanted to go there again and again. And that’s why I love it so much—it’s an escape into another world.

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

Gosh, I have so many. Early on my biggest influence was adult fantasy writer Jennifer Roberson. Before her I loved Roald Dahl, Walter Farley, and C.S. Lewis. Nowadays one of my favorite writers is Maggie Stiefvater. I adored her Raven Cycle series as well as The Scorpio Races, and I find her writing very inspirational.

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

Writing is a full-time job for any writer that’s actively publishing. But for me, I do have to hold down a regular full-time job in addition to the books. That definitely keeps me very busy, but in my free time I’m either hanging out with my family or riding my horses.Onyx and Ivory

4. Your latest YA fantasy novel Onyx & Ivory, which released from Balzer and Bray back in mid-May, is set in two points of view: Kate, an outcasted Relay Rider who possesses an outlawed magic, and Corwin, a crown prince scarred by past failures and mistakes. What are some of the biggest challenges of writing in the points of view of two unique characters? Would you consider yourself to be more like Kate or Corwin, and why?

Going into the book, I honestly had no idea how hard it is to write two points of view. I learned a lot about that process through this book—although I’ve still got plenty to learn. One unique thing about the story is that Kate and Corwin both have complete story arcs that intersect with one another but also standalone. Of the two, I relate to Kate a little more than Corwin. If only because she is a perpetual outsider. She never feels like she belongs in any of the groups she inhabits, and that’s a feeling I know well. I suffer from imposter syndrome so much. I also relate to Kate in how she has a troubled history with her father.

Continue reading “Exclusive Interview with Mindee Arnett, YA SFF Author of Onyx & Ivory”

Celebrating the 1-Year Book Birthday of Post-High School Reality Quest with an Interview with Meg Eden + Special GIVEAWAY

Hi guys! Today is the 1-year book birthday of Post-High School Reality Quest by Meg Eden, probably one of the most unique books you will ever read if you decide to pick it up. Well, today you have the opportunity not only to learn more about the story but also to win a copy of the book PLUS a narwhal mug and infuser. And you can’t say no to narwhals, can you? Enjoy!


About the BookPost-High School Reality Quest

Buffy is playing a game. However, the game is her life, and there are no instructions or cheat codes on how to win.

After graduating high school, a voice called “the text parser” emerges in Buffy’s head, narrating her life as a classic text adventure game. Buffy figures this is just a manifestation of her shy, awkward, nerdy nature—until the voice doesn’t go away, and instead begins to dominate her thoughts, telling her how to life her life. Though Buffy tries to beat the game, crash it, and even restart it, it becomes clear that this game is not something she can simply “shut off” or beat without the text parser’s help.

While the text parser tries to give Buffy advice on how “to win the game,” Buffy decides to pursue her own game-plan: start over, make new friends, and win her long-time crush Tristan’s heart. But even when Buffy gets the guy of her dreams, the game doesn’t stop. In fact, it gets worse than she could’ve ever imagined: her crumbling group of friends fall apart, her roommate turns against her, and Buffy finds herself trying to survive in a game built off her greatest nightmares.

Goodreads

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | IndieBound | Book Depository


Meg Eden Interview.png

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

I love writing because I’m compelled to do it, because it makes sense to me. It’s how I process, how I worship, how I communicate with the world around me.  I started “writing” in middle school when my friends wrote poems because they thought it was “cool.” But over time, I found writing as something that was my own and personal, and when a teacher told me I was a good writer, that encouraged me to become even more serious about it. As I began to discover my ASD in college, I realized that there are times that it’s very hard for me to be verbal. I became overwhelmed and overstimulated, and my first response was to write. It helped me calm down, as well as to find a way to improve how I communicated with others.

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

I really love magical realism. Some of my biggest inspirations have been Japanese writers and writers of Japanese magic realism, like Haruki Murakami, Yasunari Kawabata, Shuntaro Tanikawa and Kelly Luce, as well as Studio Ghibli films. I add in Studio Ghibli because I think those films really taught me the power of silence, the power of slowing down the pace and taking a moment to pause. There are moments in Ghibli films, in the anime aesthetic at large, where there’s no music, no action, just a selah, a haiku moment between the audience and the environment. Maybe zooming into a flower or a bug, or a panoramic nature shot. As someone who writes both poetry and prose, this has definitely informed what I focus on in a scene, a moment, what details I care about and how I pace them.

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

I recently started working full time with the Association of Writers and Writing Programs, and teaching creative writing on the side. Before, I really just taught part-time, giving me more time to write. But I’m finding that right now, the full time job gives me a sense of urgency to want to make the time to write, while before I was procrastinating a bit…

4. Your YA debut novel Post-High School Reality Quest is not the average novel; in fact, it infuses the basics of the traditional storyline with the format of a text adventure game! What inspired you to write your book in the form of a text adventure? Could you describe to us both the benefits and the challenges of utilizing this idea?

Post-High School Reality QuestSo it started with a friend casually saying “you should write a novel in the form of a text adventure game.” I tried it on a whim one day and found out I actually really enjoyed doing it! The benefit is that it naturally created tension between two voices: the parser and Buffy (the player), so it was very fast and easy to draft. It allowed me to view the story from a different lens–so I had initially written a very crappy draft of a story about these nerdy friends who all played RPGs in Merrill’s basement and shenanigans ensued. But nothing really happened. So the text parser perspective allowed me to view everything in a new way, and give bones to the story. As for challenges, I think the biggest one was to convince people, “Hey–it’s in second person, but it’s OK!” Personally, I found it a blast to write, but it breaks one of the sacred writing classroom rules, so it can be hard to adjust to.

Continue reading “Celebrating the 1-Year Book Birthday of Post-High School Reality Quest with an Interview with Meg Eden + Special GIVEAWAY”

Exclusive Guest Post with Monica Tesler on “Building Fantastical Worlds in Middle Grade and Young Adult Fiction” & COVER REVEAL

Hi guys! A few months ago, I went to the Southeastern Young Adult Festival (or SE-YA for short) and I met some amazing Middle Grade authors there! I had the lovely opportunity to chat with Monica Tesler, author of the Bounders series, which looks very epic! I currently have a copy at home waiting to be read, and I can’t wait! Today, Monica and I are celebrating the COVER REVEAL of the FOURTH book in her series, The Heroes Return, with a special guest post. I hope you enjoy!


About Earth Force Rising (Bounders #1)Earth Force Rising

Bounders have always known they were different, but they never suspected they were the key to saving Earth.

Jasper Adams is excited to join the Earth Force military agency as part of its first class of Bounders, a team of kids training to be elite astronauts. He can’t wait to connect with others like him and learn to pilot spaceships that can travel across the galaxy in an instant.

But when Jasper arrives at the space station, nothing is as it seems. Security is sky-high, and Jasper and his new friends soon realize that Earth Force has been keeping secrets—one of the biggest being a powerful, highly-classified technology that allows the Bounders to teleport through space without a ship. Only Bounders can use this tech, which leads Jasper to a sinister truth—humanity is facing a threat greater than any they’ve ever known, and Bounders are the ones standing between their planet and destruction.

Will Jasper and his friends rebel against Earth Force for hiding the truth or fulfill their duty and fight for their planet? The fate of Earth may rest on their choice.

Goodreads

 

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | IndieBound | Book Depository | Simon & Schuster

Buy a signed & personalized copy at Buttonwood Books & Toys


Monica Tesler Guest Post.png

Building Fantastical Worlds in Middle Grade and Young Adult Fiction

I recently had the privilege of being on the faculty for the New England Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators (NESCBWI) Annual Spring Conference. I love this conference. I’ve gone every year since 2012 when I was a new writer with no agent and definitely no publishing deal. This year, in addition to teaching a session on the business side of publishing, I taught a class on writing commercial series in middle grade and young adult literature.

As I was preparing my materials for the class and engaging with my enthusiastic students, I was reminded how much I love writing science and speculative fiction and fantasy for middle grade and young adult readers. And one of the very best parts is creating the fictional worlds in which my characters live, dream, interact, and often get into huge heaps of trouble.

Why do I love building these worlds?

Earth Force RisingThe first and easiest answer is that it’s fun. I love escapist fiction, both as a reader and a writer, and there’s nothing better than creating my own fictional worlds in which to escape. In the Bounders series, for example, there are several dystopian, not-so-great aspects of the fictional, future world, but those are balanced out by a lot of cool stuff. Suction chutes to travel between buildings at the space station? Check. Jet packs to fly? Check. Super cool alien technology that lets you bound through space without a ship? Check. I had the best time coming up with all that stuff. If you’re writing middle grade or young adult sci-fi and fantasy, I think the cool and fun factors are a must, even if your worlds have a dark underbelly. Readers want to imagine themselves in the worlds you create, so it can’t be all doom and gloom.

Continue reading “Exclusive Guest Post with Monica Tesler on “Building Fantastical Worlds in Middle Grade and Young Adult Fiction” & COVER REVEAL”

ARC Review: The Island by J. L. Pattison — A Government Conspiracy Thriller Filled with Hope and Perseverance

Hi guys! I am in the Philippines! I will be out of the country for almost two months, but I will still be active on the blog and on my social medias. Though it may be trickier to correspond with me (since I am 12 hours ahead), for sure if you are in America and you cannot sleep, you have someone you know you can talk to. Today I am reviewing J. L. Pattison’s The Island, which just released. I hope you enjoy!


About the BookThe Island

Agent Sherard Parker never expected to get caught.

His first reconnaissance mission with the DEA was supposed to be simple: infiltrate a small South Pacific island and gather intelligence about its involvement in the international drug trade.

But when Parker stumbles upon a hidden airliner reportedly shot down weeks earlier—an act of terrorism that sparked a war—he realizes the island is more than just home to a major drug operation, it’s also part of a conspiracy so evil it could lead to World War III.

After being captured, Parker is forced to abandon his original mission for a far more important one: escape from the island and return to his family.

Can Parker lead an eclectic band of prisoners in a daring life-or-death escape from their tropical prison, or will those in charge of protecting the island prevail, keeping its dark secrets forever?

Goodreads

Buy The Island on Amazon!


4 Stars

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

Two years ago, I really enjoyed J. L. Pattison’s short stories “The Visitor” an “Alibi Interrupted.” The author truly knows how to write a story that packs a punch and chills you to the bone. I honestly was a bit hesitant to read his newest novella The Island, but by the end, I became reacquainted with Pattison’s signature storytelling style similar to The Twilight Zone. At first, I was very uneasy with the first third of the book because the prose did not feel exceptional at all–there was so much telling instead of showing that I doubted if I could continue and finish. I did read from an uncorrected galley, so these problems could have been fixed in the finalized copy. And it did get better as the story went on. By the halfway point, I was hooked.

The Island is a government conspiracy thriller that will keep you guessing until the very end. It serves as a stark warning to those who have become dulled from the technological Information Age today–who follow the crowd, normalize disasters, and are addicted to irrelevant media. It certainly has made me think about how I view the world and people around me, how I receive news and use my phone. The Island is certainly an eye-opener, warning that readers should not become mindless drones addicted to social media and smartphones. Pattison’s latest book will make you question your morality and trust at times. There will be moments when readers are compelled to scream at some characters in order to reveal to them the actual truth, but in the end they will have to accept the finale and all its heartbreaking punches. The book certainly chilled my body to the spine as it creeped me out yet engrossed me with its suspenseful atmosphere.

While The Island is a great novella to read, please remember that this is a work of fiction. While plane switching and crash cover-ups may be a possibility in real life, it also may not. My only concern (other than grammar) about this book is that readers could become conspiracy theorists regarding many disasters. Honestly, I have a favorable view of our government, that it is necessary to maintain order and aid its citizens. However, has the government performed bad crimes? Yes, and I will not deny that fact. But my only wish is to not become too consumed with conspiracy theories. The Island will certainly cause you to question the actual motives of the government, and it is important to have a healthy skepticism at times. However, while government conspiracies may exist, I ask for you to not become accusatory at every disaster. Government conspiracy stories are fun and interesting and thought-provoking to read, but always remember that it is a work of fiction, though there may be some truth to the story.

Ultimately, The Island is a book filled with hope and perseverance, regardless of the current conditions and the possible outcomes. Sherard Parker is a man–one who values his family and his freedom–who anyone can relate easily with, and readers will root for him from page one. His struggle to get off the island and free its prisoners is full of courage and optimism that will inspire anyone to continue fighting the good fight, no matter if it ends up in success or failure. The odds may be stacked a million to one, but The Island shows that a person must retain hope, maintain courage, and continue to fight his battles.

Please note that I am reviewing an uncorrected galley, which means there may have been changes from this version to the published one.


About the AuthorThe Island

J. L. Pattison is the author of liberty-minded speculative fiction whose stories are garnering favorable comparisons to the works of M. Night Shyamalan and Twilight Zone creator, Rod Serling.

His first paperback, SAVING KENNEDY, contains his two previous short fiction e-book releases, THE VISITOR and ALIBI INTERRUPTED, both of which deal with the subjects of time travel gone wrong, the JFK assassination, and the consequences of the decisions we make.

His latest book, THE ISLAND, delves into governmental conspiracies and has an ending you won’t soon forget.

When not writing, J.L. Pattison enjoys board games, reading, fishing, rooting for his beloved San Francisco 49ers, and drinking copious amounts of sweet tea . . . an addiction he acquired while growing up in the South. He currently lives in the Western United States with his wonderful wife and six amazing children.

Website


Happy Reading!

+ J.M.J.

~ Kester

Have you read The Island or Saving Kennedy? Do you like government conspiracy novels?

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

Email | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram | Bloglovin

Exclusive Guest Post with B. W. Morris, Author of Six Pack: Emergence, on “The Journey to The Six Pack Series”

Hi guys! I hope your summer is going off to a great start! Today I have for you a special guest post by B. W. Morris, author of The Six Pack Series, which includes both Emergence and Gyration. What is really cool about this guest post is that its four mini-posts in one! I hope you enjoy!


About Six Pack: EmergenceSix Pack Emergence

Just weeks before Tyler Ward is to graduate from secondary school, he learns the truth about Novusordo and how a drink controls the population. After sharing this information with his five friends, they visit a professor’s house, take another drink and gain strange powers. It leads to them learning more about how the government controls people and the discovery of a movement against the government. Calling themselves the Six Pack, Tyler and his friends must learn how their powers can change society. But they first must learn to trust this movement… and even each other.

Goodreads

Available on Amazon Kindle and Kindle Unlimited


About Six Pack: GyrationSix Pack Gyration

Months after the Six Pack has fled City 37N104W, Tyler Ward wonders how much longer the Underground Network can wait before making its next move against the Novusordo government. His desire to take action is pushed after five more students disappear from Monroe Secondary School. And when he learns Professor Roger Woods is in trouble, Tyler is convinced the Six Pack must take matters into its own hands, even if it means defying the Network. But actions have consequences, and those that Tyler and his friends take will impact everyone they encounter – including themselves.

Goodreads

Available on Amazon Kindle and Kindle Unlimited


B. W. Morris Guest Post

The Journey to The Six Pack Series

How did I come up with the idea for my new series, featuring teenage superheroes in a dystopian world? How did I manage to combine the two elements? And what in the world do two kinds of drinks have to do with events?

The journey to The Six Pack Series was long and interesting. At times I had to think about how the concept would play out and how everything would come together? It was about a four-year process from the time I had my first idea, to the completion of the final draft. A lot of elements came together and a lot of challenges had to be overcome.

Let me tell you about some of them.

Finding Inspiration in Comic Books

I was a fan of superheroes growing up, but my fandom came more from movies and TV shows. It wasn’t until I got older that I explored comic books and graphic novels. Along the way, I found inspiration from the animated TV series, Young Justice, and picked up some of the companion comics.

That TV series and comics gave me the idea for my own team-up of teenaged superheroes. What I really wanted to explore, though, was the teenagers beyond what it was like to be a superhero and having to face obstacles and challenges from a human perspective. That’s what made Young Justice special – you didn’t just follow the characters on missions, but on dealing with issues outside of the superhero life.

The idea of a drink giving them superpowers came to mind early in the process. All I needed was a setting. And that leads me to…

Drawing Up a Dystopia

Six Pack EmergenceAfter I read Suzanne Collins’ book The Hunger Games, I was intrigued by the world building and how she built tension and wrote so that you kept turning pages. That’s when I got the idea – what if these teenaged superheroes were going up against a controlling government?

And with the idea of a drink giving them powers before me, I wondered what would happen if the government had kept the people addicted to a drink that affected their brans so they couldn’t think for themselves. It provided the counterpoint to a drink that enhanced the brain – only the intent was to enhance the brain to greater influence other people. That it turned out to be a drink that enhanced the brain so that one’s greatest ability became more powerful was, in the story’s terms, not the plan.

But it allowed the superheroes to go up against somebody that wasn’t going to be that easy to take down, even if the opposition didn’t have superpowers. I’ve always found the most interesting adversaries for superheroes to be those who don’t have superpowers – and considering this government controls most of the population, the odds are stacked against our heroes.

The dystopian premise of the government controlling what people think poses what I think could be the greatest threat to a society – sure, it might sound nice on the surface if all people thought the same on every subject. But it comes at the cost of people being individuals, the chance to explore interests, discuss new ideas and debate what is the best route to take.

Turning Regular Teens Into Superheroes

Six Pack GyrationWhat presents a challenge for the Six Pack is not just how the members learn to control their powers – though I’ll admit it was fun writing about how they learned to do that. The Six Pack must also figure out who they can trust – they may know the government isn’t on their side, but will they be able to work with those people who want to bring change?

Just as importantly, can they learn to work with each other? Though the six are friends, they still have to learn what it means to work together to solve a problem. Tyler must learn what it means to be a leader, Jessica must learn not to harbor jealousy, Brad must learn to trust adults, Linda must learn not to be reckless, David must realize he needs to take a bigger role, and Stacy learns why it’s important to keep perspective.

So becoming a superhero is more than about the powers – it’s about what you do with them and how you learn to grow as a person.

Writing in Six Points of View

When I wrote my first draft, I used omniscient point of view, but learned early on that wasn’t going to work for a debut novel. But I believed it was important to get the viewpoint of each member of the Six Pack into the narrative, which meant switching to third-person limited.

The trick I had to figure out was how to transition from one scene to the next so that it would be easy for the reader to follow along with whose viewpoint was up. I’ll admit it was hard to get all six characters to the point in which people could understand what they were thinking and how they were reacting to events. You have to be good at writing characters to make sure each sounds as unique as possible.

I believed it was necessary, though, so people could get the best possible examination of what the world was like and how each member of the Six Pack saw his or her place in it. The majority is in Tyler’s viewpoint, but others get their chance to convey their viewpoints as needed.

For some, they may prefer a first-person POV or third-person POV limited to one character. But having read so many comic books and watched so many TV shows and movies based on superheroes, I find the best way to tell the tale is through multiple viewpoints. And when you are talking about a superhero team-up, you miss something with telling the story from just one character’s POV.

I want to thank Kester for allowing me to guest on his blog and appreciate all he is doing for authors. Please do check out The Six Pack Series and drop by my website to learn more!


About the AuthorB. W. Morris

B.W. Morris is a longtime writer for small-town newspapers who put his inner comic book geek to work through writing novels. Born in Texas but grew up in Colorado, he has lived in New Mexico, Oklahoma and currently resides in Kingman, Kan. Greg Weisman, Suzanne Collins, Stan Lee, George Orwell and Conor Friedersdorf all influenced his writing. Morris is a fan of the Young Justice animated series, the Arrowverse shows on the CW Network, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the Star Wars films and more graphic novels than he can keep track. You can learn more about his love for science fiction at his website at bwmorrisauthor.com.

Website | Twitter | Facebook


Happy Reading!

+ J.M.J.

~ Kester

Have you read The Six Pack Series? What are your thoughts?

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

Email | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram | Bloglovin

May Reading Recap

Hi everybody! This month’s Reading Recap will be very short because I have read only two books this month. Yes, two. This past May has been one of the busiest months of my entire life, with AP exams in the first two weeks, end-of-school activities the third, Boys State on the fourth, and traveling to the Philippines on the fifth. It has been very crazy for me, so I have not been able to read at all. Hopefully this summer, I’ll be able to catch up on reading and reviewing and blogging!


4 Stars

The Gravedigger’s Son by Patrick Moody

The Gravedigger's Son

Goodreads

The Island by J. L. Pattison

The Island

Goodreads


In Case You Missed It: This Month’s Posts

Author Interviews

Kristin O’Donnell Tubb, author of A Dog Like Daisy

Author Guest Posts

Wendy McLeod MacKnight, author of The Frame Up, on “The World Behind the Frame”

LILbooKtalks

“Mermaid Tails and Fairy Tales” with Tobie Easton and D. G. Driver

Discussions

Memorial Day: A Personal Reflection on Washington, DC, and TN Boys State

Book Reviews

Genesis by Brendan Reichs

Onyx and Ivory by Mindee Arnett

Runtime by S. B. Divya

Seeing through Sampson’s Eyes by Pamela Schloesser Canepa

Blog Tours

Genesis by Brendan Reichs

Reading Recap

April Reading Recap


Happy Reading!

+ J.M.J.

~ Kester

Have you read any of these books? What are your thoughts?

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

Email | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram | Bloglovin

 

Memorial Day: A Personal Reflection on Washington DC and TN Boys State

Hi everybody! Yesterday was Memorial Day, and we are remembering all of the brave men and women who died serving our country and fighting for our freedom. Getting back from the Tennessee American Legion Boys State–which I recommend anybody who is selected to participate to go–I feel called to write this post. Even though LILbooKlovers’s two-year blogoversary has passed, I personally think that I need to write about two experiences that have changed who I am.

A few weeks ago, I went to Washington, DC, to compete in a festival with my choir. The trip exceeded all of my expectations. But what makes it truly one of the best experiences of my life is not the fun or the bonding; in fact, it is how much sightseeing through our nation’s capital impacted me as an American and as a leader.

I have always been a history buff. Throughout middle school, I loved learning about historical figures and British history. Historical fiction is honestly my favorite genre in literature. Since I took AP US History this year, having the opportunity to visit Washington, DC, was fitting. And it definitely proved to be fruitful.

I became fascinated at seeing the actual pike John Brown used in his Harpers’ Ferry raid or the actual top hat Abraham Lincoln once wore. I was mesmerized as I stood on the very steps at the Lincoln Memorial where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., gave his “I Have a Dream” speech, and I imagined myself as if I were there that very day. I did not want to get out of that trance. However, two sites that I visited proved to be the most life-changing, and they have inspired within me a deafening desire to become a better patriot and a better leader.

Seeing the endless rows of white headstones at Arlington National Cemetery was a sobering experience. Arlington National Cemetery is 624 acres total, and if you walk through those hallowed grounds, you cannot count the number of gravestones present. Imagine, that is not even a small portion of the thousands, if not millions, of men who died for our country. They gave up their lives to protect the freedoms that the United States endears for its citizens. And these wars were brutal. From Vietnam to World War II, these soldiers have seen an unfathomable amount of horrors and atrocities that haunt them until the day they die. Yet our veterans are often overlooked and forgotten in today’s society. The simplest thank you or conversation can make all the difference in a veteran’s day.

One of the most memorable experiences of my life–one that I will probably never forget–is when I witnessed the actual flag that inspired the Star Spangled Banner. Yes, the American flag, which is one-third the size of a football field, that proudly waved over Fort McHenry in the War of 1812, where Francis Scott Key wrote his epic poem from a distance. To see the actual banner at the Smithsonian brought me to tears and filled me with a renewed sense of patriotism that I have never felt before. The flag is so beautiful and so awesome that you can stare at it for hours. The words I am telling you right now cannot fully describe the beauty and splendor of this great artifact. To be able to see it in person has made me ever more firm that I am an American.

Just last week, I attended the Tennessee American Legion Boys State, which is an intensive one-week program that gives nearly 550 rising seniors from around the state a glimpse of the state government and the military lifestyle. Boys State exceeded all my expectations–while there were highs and lows and times when I doubted myself, ultimately I had fun, made many new friends, and became changed as a leader.

Our big chant at Boys State was “Boys Staters. Don’t Quit.” I ran for governor, and there was a point where I was about to give up in my campaign. After realizing that I not only had a chance at the position but also a whole ton of support from my fellow Boys Staters, I decided not to give up. Even though I lost the primaries, this continued perseverance led me to be elected by our General Assembly (our State Representatives and Senators) as Secretary of State with a nearly unanimous vote from both the House and the Senate. If I had stopped after losing the primaries, I would have never had this opportunity. Instead, I supported my party’s candidate loudly and proudly (he is amazing by the way), voted for him, and continued on my Boys State journey.

Boys State can be very tough at times. You have to make your room in a strict, precise way. You are required to make hospital corners on your bed. There are days when you have to wake up at 4 o’clock in the morning and stay up past midnight from a fire drill. You might have to march in 90 degree weather out in the burning sun. Personally, it wasn’t that bad. I liked the food yet I wanted to go back to my own bed and sleep for hours. But this is the life of the military. They undergo training that is a thousand times worse than what I endured with only two hours of sleep on a good day. Not the average American can survive this training.

From both of these experiences, I’ve developed a deeper and more profound respect for those who serve our country. What they do on a daily basis is something I personally cannot do, and I commend them greatly for it. We need to thank the men and women in uniform and also our veterans in our communities for all the hard work and service they have poured to keep our country safe and to preserve our freedom. Freedom is never free, and there is always a price. There is always a heroic martyr who dies so we may live, and it is important to remember and honor that sacrifice.

I have definitely grown as an American citizen and as a leader from DC and Boys State. Certainly, I will recommend to anyone who has the opportunity to do either one to jump on it. Boys State might be hard and long for the first couple of days, but it’s worth it. DC may be full of mean Northerners (I’m so used to Southern hospitality and believe that should be the way of life), but it’s full of history to be explored. Walking in the footsteps where leaders have made great impacts on our country and where history has been in the making has been an honor and a privilege that I will never forget. I am proud to be an American, and I hope to continue serving my country–whether it be through blogging, reading, or music–in any way possible.


Happy Reading!

+ J.M.J.

~ Kester

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

Email | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram | Bloglovin

 

Exclusive Guest Post with Wendy McLeod MacKnight, Author of The Frame-Up, on “The World Behind the Frame”

Hi guys! Today I am at the Tennessee American Legion Boys’ State, where I will be marching and learning more about the inner workings about the government for the entire week. It is an honor to be representing my community this year! Today, I have a special guest post by Wendy McLeod MacKnight, the author of It’s a Mystery, Pig Faceand the upcoming release The Frame-Up, which looks so fascinating! Can you imagine traveling to the worlds inside paintings?


About the BookThe Frame-Up

Don’t let anyone know the paintings are alive. Thirteen-year-old Mona Dunn has adhered to that rule for almost one hundred years, ever since her portrait was hung on the walls of the Beaverbrook Art Gallery. So when the gallery director’s son, Sargent Singer discovers the truth, she’s sure she’d just exposed the gallery’s biggest secret. But Sargent, an aspiring artist himself, just wants to know more about the vast and intriguing world beyond the frames. With devious plots, shady characters, and grand art heists, this inventive mystery adventure celebrates art and artists.

Featuring sixteen pages of full glossy pictures of the masterpieces who are characters in the book, this book is a must-read and a useful tool for teachers and parents who want to introduce children to art and artists in a fun, accessible way.

The Frame-Up will release from Greenwillow Books on June 5th, 2018!

Goodreads

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | IndieBound | Book Depository

Don’t miss her pre-order giveaway!


Wendy McLeod MacKnight Guest Post.png

The World Behind the Frame: The Frame-Up

I’ve always loved art.

From an early age, I was inspired by art, although I didn’t show a particular aptitude to make it myself (though I admit to the odd dabbling).

I remember visiting my grandmother as a little girl and seeing the portrait of my mother as a teenager on the wall.

Patsy Rider
Photo Courtesy of Wendy McLeod MacKnight

Yes, my mother is Patsy Ryder, the visitor in the story!

The girl in the painting was flat. I wondered what she was looking at. I wondered if she found the grownups conversations boring, as I sometimes did.

What was it like to be in there, behind the frame?

Creating the world behind the frame before I began to write the book was time-consuming.

The world of the art gallery was easy; I had only to wander around the Beaverbrook Art Gallery take notes.

For the world behind, there had to be rules.

First of all, there was the whole travelling between paintings business. I don’t explicitly spell it out in the book, because I want the reader to imagine how it works for themselves, but in my mind’s eye, there is a magical rabbit’s warren of hallways connecting the paintings to one another. Usually, the residents take their time going between the paintings, often times not entering another painting as they go, but other times, they simply walk from painting to painting, especially if the painting is a landscape.

And then there is the whole issue of what exactly is IN any particular painting.

Since the artist’s vision is supreme and what brings the painting to life, I decided early on that the only thing that existed in any given painting was entirely dependents upon what the artists was thinking about while he or she painted.

So Helena Rubinstein gets to have a few rooms at the back of her portrait, as well some cookies, because artist Graham Sutherland thought of them at the time he painted her.

Not so fortunate is a sketch of Somerset Maugham’s head. Since Sutherland was so focused on getting Maugham’s features right for the final portrait, he only thought of the head. The Maugham in the sketch will be forever dependent on the kindness of other residents to get him where he wants to be.

Depending on the imagination of the artist, the painting can go on far into the distance. For example, Mona Dunn ends up in the painting MerryMaking, and ends up travelling for miles on a bitterly cold winter day, thanks to Krieghoff’s imagination.  This is mostly true of all the paintings, though sometimes to almost comical lengths. In Dan Vigilio Lake Garda, John Singer Sargent doesn’t stock the café with chocolate gelato because the proprietor ran out of it on the day Singer visited!

Mona’s painting is very bare: a small throw, a stool, and a shadowy room. It is not wonder that she adores visiting paintings like San Vigilio, Lake Garda!

There are other rules in the world outside the frame: a resident should not go into another residents’ painting when they are not there without their permission.


About the AuthorWendy McLeod MacKnight

Wendy grew up in St. Stephen and wrote her first novel at age nine. She worked for the Government of New Brunswick for twenty-five years, ending her career as the Deputy Minister of Education when the siren call of writing became impossible to ignore. Wendy is represented by Lauren Galit of the LKG Agency in New York City. Her debut middle grade novel, It’s a Mystery, Pig Face! was published by Sky Pony Press in 2017. Her second book, The Frame-Up, a fantasy set at the Beaverbrook Art Gallery, was sold at auction to Greenwillow Books in a two-book deal and will be published June 5th 2018.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads


Happy Reading!

+ J.M.J.

~ Kester

Are you excited for The Frame-Up? Do you like MG Fantasy?

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

Email | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram | Bloglovin

Sci-Fi Novellas Double Mini-Reviews: Seeing through Sampson’s Eyes by Pamela Schloesser Canepa & Runtime by S. B. Divya

Hi guys! Today I have for you two mini-reviews for two novellas I have received to review last year, and I finally found the time to both read them and review them. They’re both science fiction and really short. I hope you enjoy these mini-reviews!


About Seeing through Sampson’s EyesSeeing through Sampson's Eyes

Who knows what secrets lie behind one’s eyes? You have no idea until you walk in their shoes. In a technologically advanced, yet socially regressing society, Norrie, daughter of Sampson and Abrielle, is about to learn what it’s like to be considered less than human. She is now twenty, curious, confident, and unstoppable. Embarking on a journey together, Norrie and Abrielle set out to discover what remains of their beloved Sampson, yet each ends up pursuing her own individual end goal. Walk with Abrielle and Norrie to see what they will find.

Goodreads


2 Stars

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

I had high expectations for this novella because I enjoyed its prequel Made for Me, and sadly, Seeing through Sampson’s Eyes disappointed me. Although the beginning—just like the first novella—wrenched my heart and made me emotional, the further I dug deeper into the book, the more I found myself scratching my head and becoming confused at the events that unfolded. I honestly thought that the story would revolve around Abrielle and her mother finding Sampson’s eyes, but this character-driven novel strayed away from the summary I’ve been given, and this didn’t turn out well for my reading experience.

Continue reading “Sci-Fi Novellas Double Mini-Reviews: Seeing through Sampson’s Eyes by Pamela Schloesser Canepa & Runtime by S. B. Divya”