E-ARC Review: Chasing Eveline by Leslie Hauser

Hi guys! Last Summer, I had the wonderful opportunity to interview YA debut author Leslie Hauser on her contemporary novel Chasing Eveline, and I am super excited to share with you my review of her debut here! I read it last month when I went Christmas shopping out of town with my family, and I somehow managed to finish it in an entire day! It was just that good! I hope you enjoy this review!


About Chasing Eveline26631470

Sixteen-year-old Ivy Higgins is the only student at Carmel Heights High School who listens to cassettes. And her binder is the only one decorated with album artwork by 80s band Chasing Eveline. Despite being broken-up since 1989, this rock band out of Ireland means everything to Ivy. They’re a reminder of her mom, who abandoned Ivy and her dad two years ago. Now the music of her mom’s favorite band is the only connection she has left.

Even though Ivy wavers between anger and a yearning to reconnect, she’s one-hundred percent certain she’s not ready to lose her mom forever. But the only surefire way to locate her would be at a Chasing Eveline concert. So with help from her lone friend Matt—an equally abandoned soul and indie music enthusiast—Ivy hatches a plan to reunite the band.

The road to Ireland won’t be easy, though. And not just because there is no road. Along the way they’ll have to win over their Lady Gaga-loving peers, tangle with some frisky meerkats, and oh yeah, somehow find and persuade the four members to play a reunion gig. It’s a near-impossible task, but Ivy has to try. If she can’t let go of the past, she’ll never be able to find joy in the present.

Goodreads


4 Stars

Disclaimer: Thanks so much to the author for providing me an electronic ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review. This will not affect my review in any way.

Chasing Eveline is a heartwarming Young Adult contemporary novel that will inspire you to chase your wildest dreams despite the obstacles that stand in your way. I could not put down this book so much that I finished it in an entire day, which only a few novels can accomplish for me. I loved everything from the characters and the music to the humor and the romance. It’s a very quick and easy-to-read novel, and it will capture your attention from page one! Hauser’s debut novel did not disappoint, refreshing both my love for literature and my love for music.

As a musician who’s life is constantly fueled by my passion for music, I became ecstatic at how the novel revolved around Ivy’s love and connection to Chasing Eveline. I could really relate with her as she attempts to spread the love of her favorite band with her peers, only to face rejection. I definitely know how that feels, especially since I’m one of the only male singers and violinists at my high school and since my taste in music is European oldies (Eurovision from 1998 and before–I know, very specific). Hauser captured Ivy’s connection to music so vividly that I could feel the notes and lyrics swirl around me and enrapture me in its emotion.

Chasing Eveline also tackles family and friend problems in such a raw yet graceful way that I felt my heartstrings being tugged at. There’s so much love in the air that you can’t help but go “Awww…” There is a bit of romance in this novel, and fortunately, it was very clean and the book didn’t solely revolve around it. I really felt the deep and heartfelt emotions that Ivy felt towards her missing mom and her semi-distant dad. I also really loved both Matt and Sean–they were such supportive and caring friends!

This novel put me on the edge of my seat even though it was both light and funny and dark and depressing at different points. There was even a few bits of humor that made my entire day, especially the scene about garage sales. A few months ago, I had to work a yard sale for one of my clubs, and I literally had the same exact experience as Ivy–I tended to overprice everything (I didn’t know you’re supposed to make everything super cheap!) and I had to work with the bargainers. This section may not seem very influential in the plot, but the author tackled having a garage sale very accurately to where I just loved it.

I was not disappointed by Chasing Eveline at all! I am so glad that I had the chance to read this delightful contemporary novel full of love, family, and friendships! This is the perfect novel for music lovers (like me). Chasing Eveline will take you on a roller coaster ride full of emotions, from happiness and humor to sadness and sorrow, as it moves you to chase your dreams and never give up. I am super excited to see what Leslie Hauser has in store next! She’s a debut author you do NOT want to miss!


About the AuthorLHauser author picture_smaller size (1)

I am a YA writer and middle school teacher. I have a B.A. in English from UCLA and a Master’s degree in Educational Administration. I was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, and currently reside in Los Angeles, California, with my dog Mr. Darcy.

When I’m not living in fictional worlds inside my head, I run all sorts of distances, torture my body at CrossFit, and DVR entirely too many television shows. I dream of one day returning to the Midwest to live on a farm. Or perhaps owning a cookie delivery service.

My debut novel CHASING EVELINE releases in 2017 from Pen Name Publishing.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Goodreads

Order Chasing Eveline today here:

Barnes & Noble | Amazon | Kobo | Pen Name Publishing


Happy Reading!

+ J.M.J.

~ Kester

Have you read Chasing Eveline? Do you like YA contemporary?

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

Email | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram | Bloglovin

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Duology Double Reviews!: Midnight without a Moon (FC) & A Sky Full of Stars (ARC) by Linda Williams Jackson

Hi guys! Back in October, I had the wonderful pleasure of meeting with Linda Williams Jackson, who is super nice and wonderful, at the Southern Festival of Books, and she got in touch with her publisher to send me review copies of her MG historical fiction novels Midnight without a Moon and A Sky Full of Stars, the latter being released next month! I hope you enjoy these reviews, and please consider buying these books either for you or for a loved one for Christmas! You will NOT regret that decision!


About Midnight without a MoonMidnight without a Moon

It’s Mississippi in the summer of 1955, and Rose Lee Carter can’t wait to move north. For now, she’s living with her sharecropper grandparents on a white man’s cotton plantation. Then, one town over, an African American boy, Emmett Till, is killed for allegedly whistling at a white woman. When Till’s murderers are unjustly acquitted, Rose realizes that the South needs a change and that she should be part of the movement. Linda Jackson’s moving debut seamlessly blends a fictional portrait of an African American family and factual events from a famous trial that provoked change in race relations in the United States.

Goodreads


4 Stars

Disclaimer: I received a free hardcover finished copy of this book from the publisher HMH in exchange for an honest review.

The moment I read the first chapter of this novel, I knew Midnight without a Moon would be spectacular. My heart was actually pounding from the events that unfolded in just the first few pages, and I tore through the pages like lightning. This year, I have found so many middle grade books that pack the punches, and I am so glad to include both novels of the Rose Lee Carter duology on the list! Jackson’s stunning debut truly shows the struggle of being an African American in the 1950s and presents Rose’s story in such a beautiful way that as you turn the last page, you would either be filled with hope or with tears of joy.

Continue reading “Duology Double Reviews!: Midnight without a Moon (FC) & A Sky Full of Stars (ARC) by Linda Williams Jackson”

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.

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

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

 

Double Mini-Reviews of Two New Contemporary Favorites!: The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett & When Dimple Met Rishi

Hi guys! Happy Friday!! YA Contemporary is one of my favorite genres, and I love it so much because it is very easy to relate with the characters’ modern struggles. Today I am reviewing two novels–The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett by Chelsea Sedoti and When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon–which I read earlier this summer and loved really much! I hope you these reviews and love the books as much as I did!


About The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett25546710

Hawthorn wasn’t trying to insert herself into a missing person’s investigation. Or maybe she was. But that’s only because Lizzie Lovett’s disappearance is the one fascinating mystery their sleepy town has ever had. Bad things don’t happen to popular girls like Lizzie Lovett, and Hawthorn is convinced she’ll turn up at any moment-which means the time for speculation is now.

So Hawthorn comes up with her own theory for Lizzie’s disappearance.  A theory way too absurd to take seriously…at first. The more Hawthorn talks, the more she believes. And what better way to collect evidence than to immerse herself in Lizzie’s life? Like getting a job at the diner where Lizzie worked and hanging out with Lizzie’s boyfriend. After all, it’s not as if he killed her-or did he?

Told with a unique voice that is both hilarious and heart-wrenching, Hawthorn’s quest for proof may uncover the greatest truth is within herself.

Goodreads


A 5 Star

I seriously love this book. It definitely is going to be one of my favorite reads of 2017 because it was so beautiful! I just could not put it down. I can see why so many people raved about this when it released at the beginning of the year! It’s just that amazing! Sedoti has an amazing gift for crafting a main character’s voice and making it unique, flawed, and realistic. I loved the storyline and I could relate so much to Hawthorne’s inner emotions and feelings. Chelsea Sedoti is definitely an author I am going to keep track of, especially with As You Wish coming out in January of next year.

This book is a new favorite because of one word: Hawthorn. Hawthorn is pretty much the whole reason why I love this book. She is one of the most relatable characters for me ever. I was frequently on the verge of tears because I knew her feelings of not belonging, of not being understood, of having a different viewpoint of the world. Although I didn’t go through the trials like she did, she was so easy to connect to. Her voice was so unique and so deep and so emotional that I want to be her friend. We both connect so well, and that’s why she’s one of my favorite narrators!

As it progressed, especially more towards the 2/3 mark of the book, it lost its original spark. I got just a bit bored and a bit confused at what was going on, but I still loved the story. It’s just like a pristine white cloth: There’s that one small stain that you could never remove. Regardless, it is still one you will always use! This book will still hold a dear place in my heart because of Hawthorn’s unique personality and voice. The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett is such a memorable novel that will still with you for a while.


About When Dimple Met Rishi28458598

A New York Times bestseller

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


Oh my goodness, this was such an amazingly cute read! It literally broke the record for the most times I laughed in a book. I wasn’t even 25% done and I laughed really hard 5 times! This is definitely one of the best romances I have ever read, possibly even the best! I really couldn’t put it down because it was just really good. I had the pleasure of meeting Sandhya in person at her signing in Nashville, and I am so glad I got to meet her because she blew me away with this book. This needs to be a movie! I see so many scenes play out as actual movie scenes! I would definitely watch it 10 times!

This book is a new favorite because of the romance! Menon cleverly combined humor, stereotype-defying characters, and slow-burn romance to create one of the most unforgettable development of one of the cutest OTPs in YA fiction. What got me was the scene where Dimple threw her iced coffee at Rishi (who was joking) when he just suddenly came up to her and said, “Hey future wife, I can’t wait to love you forever.” (Not exact words, but you get the point.) I laughed so hard. Seriously, it’s just that amazing. Sandhya Menon is an author that I’m going to be keeping track of now (which means that I need an ARC of From Twinkle, With Love soon!)

Now, I did lose a little interest as the book headed into the middle and the end. Once it got into parts where other romances came into play (I cannot spoil who likes who) it got a bit confusing for me. But you all know that feeling. It’s like watching a movie that super amazing and of course you’ll lose a bit of that spark as you go on. Still regardless, When Dimple Met Rishi is a book that I will recommend to anyone! It will make you laugh, cry, and go “aww”- the perfect combination for the perfect rom-com!


Happy Reading!

+ J.M.J.

~ Kester

Do you have any thoughts or questions?

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

Email| Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram | Bloglovin

Fragments of the Lost Blog Tour: An Interview with Megan Miranda

Hi guys! Happy Tuesday! Today I am super glad that I’m welcoming one of the biggest authors to come onto the blog! She has written multiple books for both young adults and adults, and her adult novel (which you might have seen and heard of) All the Missing Girls has reached the New York Times bestseller list! Please give a warm welcome to Megan Miranda, whose newest YA novel Fragments of the Lost is releasing next Tuesday!

FRAGMENTS OF THE LOST


About the Book:27797316

Title: FRAGMENTS OF THE LOST

Author: Megan Miranda

Pub. Date: November 14, 2017

Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers

Pages: 384

Formats: Hardcover, eBook

Find it: AmazonB&NiBooksTBDGoodreads

Synopsis: Jessa Whitworth knew she didn’t belong in her ex-boyfriend Caleb’s room. But she couldn’t deny that she was everywhere—in his photos, his neatly folded T-shirts, even the butterfly necklace in his jeans pocket…the one she gave him for safe keeping on that day.

His mother asked her to pack up his things—even though she blames Jessa for his accident. How could she say no? And maybe, just maybe, it will help her work through the guilt she feels about their final moments together.

But as Jessa begins to box up the pieces of Caleb’s life, they trigger memories that make Jessa realize their past relationship may not be exactly as she remembered. And she starts to question whether she really knew Caleb at all.

Each fragment of his life reveals a new clue that propels Jessa to search for the truth about Caleb’s accident. What really happened on the storm-swept bridge?


Megan Miranda

1. Your newest novel Fragments of the Lost, which releases November 14th from Crown Books, follows Jessa as she uncovers more about the mysterious past of her ex-boyfriend Caleb, who dies in a car accident. Before writing this book, did you have the plot and ending set in your mind, or did you surprise yourself as your drafted and revised it? (No spoilers 😉)

I always surprise myself during the first draft! The early drafts are very much discovery drafts, where I’m learning who my characters are, what they desire, and the pieces of the puzzle at the heart of the story. In Fragments of the Lost, I started writing with only two elements in mind: The main character, Jessa; and the idea of a mystery that would be uncovered through the objects found in Caleb’s room.

Once I discovered all of those pieces in the early draft, I stepped back to create the mystery and plot, and then revised with that in mind.27797316

2. Did you ever base any of the events or characters in your novels (particularly your crime mysteries) off anyone or anything in real life? What is your research or brainstorming process like?

Not for the bigger plot ideas, but I usually find small similarities when I look back at a finished draft. For example, in this book, if you were to look around my office, the room would appear *very* similar to Caleb’s room.

I usually begin an idea with character before plot, so each story depends on the narrator. Once I figure out the mystery at the heart of the story, that’s when I dive into research. A lot of the research comes from talking to people who work in various professions (including police and lawyers), but the brainstorming phase for this book also included sending emails to my friends, asking: “Hypothetically, what kinds of things have you accidentally discovered in your teenager’s room?”

Continue reading “Fragments of the Lost Blog Tour: An Interview with Megan Miranda”

E-ARC Review: The Temptation of Adam by Dave Connis

Hi guys! Today is the first post of November (it’s November already?) and to start off the month, I am reviewing The Temptation of Adam by Dave Connis. A month ago, I found out that Dave is going to be at the SE-YA Book Fest next year, and when I found out that he is a local author from Chattanooga and his book was up for download on Edelweiss, I had to read his debut. The Temptation of Adam is releasing in less than three weeks on the 21st, so read my review if you want to know why you should read it!


About the Book34138283

Adam Hawthorne is fine.

Yeah, his mother left, his older sister went with her, and his dad would rather read Nicholas Sparks novels than talk to him. And yeah, he spends his nights watching self-curated porn video playlists.

But Adam is fine.

When a family friend discovers Adam’s porn addiction, he’s forced to join an addiction support group: the self-proclaimed Knights of Vice. He goes because he has to, but the honesty of the Knights starts to slip past his defenses. Combine that with his sister’s out-of-the-blue return and the attention of a girl he meets in an AA meeting, and all the work Adam has put into being fine begins to unravel.

Now Adam has to face the causes and effects of his addiction, before he loses his new friends, his prodigal sister, and his almost semi-sort-of girlfriend.

The Temptation of Adam is releasing from Sky Pony Press on November 21st!

Goodreads


4 Stars

Disclaimer: I received a free electronic ARC of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss. This will not affect my review in any way.

The Temptation of Adam certainly lives up to its hype. It’s such a raw and emotional book that I felt like I was Adam’s sole confidante, the only one who knows his thoughts and challenges and the only one who can comfort and console him. Not only is this book going to change the way how you view those grappling with addictions, but it will also inspire YOU to never give up in your trials. The message behind the novel is so powerful that it gives those struggling in the darkness a glimmer of light. This novel is one of those books that has the power to change lives.

The trials that Adam went through to overcome his addiction and complete his mission for Mr. Cratcher felt very real and authentic. I could not only sense Adam’s raw emotion but I also connected with him so easily on many levels. He is one those characters that you could relate and sympathize with his struggles, regardless of the challenges you’re currently facing.  I fell in love with Adam so much that I rooted for him on his path to conquering his cravings for porn and winced whenever he relapsed. I just wanted to reach out to him many times and tell him that everything is going to be alright. His journey from pornography to purity is inspiring! As Adam changed throughout the novel, I felt myself abounding in more hope than I did before. Stories about overcoming vices are very uncommon and hard to pull off, yet the author managed to accomplish this amazing feat.

Connis also creates a lovable cast of characters that you just want to root for, too! The Knights of Vice truly defies the “addict stereotype,” in which addicts are portrayed negatively as having no lives and no desire to rehabilitate. The author challenges this by realistically depicting each character–Adam, Dez, Trey, Eliot–as an actual human being with fears, hopes, dreams, and desires to overcome their temptations. Connis shows you that anyone around you could be struggling with a vice, even in your own house, yet you must show that person love, compassion, and support in each step of the way. The Knights of Vice is one of those groups of fictional friends that I wish existed in real life so I could meet them! I definitely fell in love with them all plus Addy, Mr. Cratcher, and Adam’s Dad (who’s a publisher/literary agent/editor, whichever one it is!!!) from page one.

Now, I had really high expectations with this book (because of all the raving reviews), yet sadly I was not as emotionally invested into the book as I hoped to. The plot for me felt a little “loose” and not too cohesive at times, and the humor didn’t appeal to me as much. It may not have clicked with me 100%, but this is a book I will definitely recommend to fans of YA contemporary novels. This is a book that has the potential to change readers’ lives, and I don’t say that with many books frequently. I am definitely going to be looking forward to Dave Connis at the SE-YA Book Fest next year!


Happy Reading!

+ J.M.J.

~ Kester

Are you excited about The Temptation of Adam? What are your thoughts on the book?

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

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Dear Martin Blog Tour: Exclusive Interview with Nic Stone + Giveaway!

Hi guys! This past weekend, I attended the Southern Festival of Books and met some amazing authors! I’m planning on posting some pictures here on the blog soon, but today I am so excited to be kicking off the blog tour for Dear Martin by Nic Stone, which releases TOMORROW! Go get her book, and check out her lovely interview here below!

DEAR MARTIN


About the Book:DEAR MARTIN_05.03.17

Title: DEAR MARTIN

Author: Nic Stone

Pub. Date: October 17, 2017

Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers

Pages: 224

Formats: Hardcover, eBook, audiobook

Find it: AmazonAudibleB&NiBooksTBDGoodreads

Synopsis: Justyce McAllister is top of his class, captain of the debate team, and set for the Ivy League next year—but none of that matters to the police officer who just put him in handcuffs. He is eventually released without charges (or an apology), but the incident has Justyce spooked. Despite leaving his rough neighborhood, he can’t seem to escape the scorn of his former peers or the attitude of his prep school classmates. The only exception: Sarah Jane, Justyce’s gorgeous—and white—debate partner he wishes he didn’t have a thing for.

Struggling to cope with it all, Justyce starts a journal to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. But do Dr. King’s teachings hold up in the modern world? Justyce isn’t so sure.

Then comes the day Justyce goes driving with his best friend, Manny, windows rolled down, music turned up. Way up. Much to the fury of the white off-duty cop beside them. Words fly. Shots are fired. And Justyce and Manny get caught in the crosshairs. In the media fallout, it’s Justyce who is under attack. The truth of what happened that night—some would kill to know. Justyce is dying to forget.


Nic Stone1. Your debut novel Dear Martin tackles the racism that many African-Americans face today, and it releases tomorrow October 17th from Crown Books! What compelled you to write Dear Martin? Did you use any of your own or others’ experiences to construct the story’s plot, characters, setting, etc.?

So Dear Martin is really the outflow of my needing to get a better handle on American Race Relations in the 21st century. I have two little boys, and after seeing so many unarmed African Americans killed over the past five years or so—often by police officers—I really wanted to examine… how we got here, I guess. I also kept seeing quotes from the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. misappropriated and used in opposition to the type of protests and marches he championed during the Civil Rights Movement of the mid 20th century, so that made me wonder: what would Dr. King say and do were he alive now? Thus, Dear Martin was born. And yes: most of the novel is based on actual events, whether from my own life or the lives of people I know, and even some things pulled (and remixed a bit for the sake of respecting victims) from the news. Hopefully the fact that people will recognize some of the novel’s elements will make it that much more compelling.

Continue reading “Dear Martin Blog Tour: Exclusive Interview with Nic Stone + Giveaway!”

Exclusive Interview with YA Historical Fiction Author Gwen C. Katz on Among the Red Stars

Hi guys! Today’s interview is the first one I have done is a while, but don’t worry- we’ll have some more amazing authors and fellow book lovers talk about their novels and other literature-related topics! Earlier in September, I had the wonderful opportunity to ask YA historical fiction author Gwen C. Katz a few questions about her debut Among the Red Stars, which I want to read so much because it’s set in World War II! I wasn’t able to get it posted last month, but I’m so glad I have the opportunity now to do so. I hope you enjoy!


About Among the Red Stars30122938

World War Two has shattered Valka’s homeland of Russia, and Valka is determined to help the effort. She knows her skills as a pilot rival the best of the men, so when an all-female aviation group forms, Valka is the first to sign up.

Flying has always meant freedom and exhilaration for Valka, but dropping bombs on German soldiers from a fragile canvas biplane is no joyride. The war is taking its toll on everyone, including the boy Valka grew up with, who is fighting for his life on the front lines.

As the war intensifies and those around her fall, Valka must decide how much she is willing to risk to defend the skies she once called home.

Inspired by the true story of the airwomen the Nazis called Night Witches, Gwen C. Katz weaves a tale of strength and sacrifice, learning to fight for yourself, and the perils of a world at war.


Gwen C. Katz

1. Your debut YA historical fiction novel Among the Red Stars, which released last week on October 3rd from HarperTeen, follows the story of Valka as she joins the Night Witches, one of the Soviet Union’s all-female aviation groups. How much research did you have to do to make your book as historically accurate as possible? What are some of the most surprising facts that you have stumbled upon?

I think what surprised me the most was just getting a full sense of how narrow our traditional view of World War II is. The vast majority of American media is about white men from either America or Britain. We saw that this summer in Dunkirk. They ignored Britain’s South Asian soldiers; they ignored the nurses, both of whom were present in large numbers. But the war was much bigger than that. China, for instance, lost 20 million people, but when are we going to get a movie about heroic Chinese soldiers?

IMG_45302. World War II historical fiction is one of my favorite genres! What inspired you to set your book in that time period? How did you find out about the Night Witches?

I found out about the Night Witches from my father-in-law. He’s a big World War I aviation buff and one time when we were playing Wings of War, I asked him if any female pilots had flown in World War I and he told me that Russia had female pilots. Naturally I had to go look them up, and I learned about their much more famous WWII counterparts. The rest, as they say, is history.

3. What was your character-building process for creating the three main protagonists—Valka, Iskra, and Pasha? Did you reflect any of their personality traits off you or anyone you know?

Valka’s attitude is definitely based on me! A lot of pilot/navigator pairs had this “odd couple” dynamic where the pilot was the daring one and the navigator was the sensible one. So that’s where Valka and Iskra came from. As for Pasha, I think YA really needs more boys who are quiet and gentle and not traditionally masculine. I’m very interested in all the men and boys who went to war who weren’t badass action heroes. What happened to them?

Continue reading “Exclusive Interview with YA Historical Fiction Author Gwen C. Katz on Among the Red Stars”

Brooding YA Hero Challenge: Why I Love YA Contemporary! + ARC Review: This is How It Happened by Paula Stokes

Hi guys! So I’m back from engineering camp, which I miss so much! I had such an amazing time learning how to program lasers and coding software, and I made so many great friends that I wish I could see soon. Because school is starting up in exactly a week, I’ll be less active here on the blog and on social media since I’ll be working more on my extracurriculars and academics.

Speaking, of social media, let’s talk about this week’s Brooding YA Hero Challenge: YA Contemporary! YA Contemporary is a genre everyone either loves or hates, but I love it! It’s such an amazing genre and many of the books I’ve read and LOVED this year (When Dimple Met Rishi, The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett, This is How It Happened, The Female of the Species) are YA contemporary.

YA Contemporary actually is a genre that could easily relate to you. It touches upon topics that are prominent in today’s modern world. The characters can easily connect with your situations and challenges because you can possibly go through that same thing. Today I’m going to review Paula Stokes’s This is How It Happened, which talks about the dangers of online shaming, a topic that needs to be addressed. Why I love this genre so much is that it can change the readers’ viewpoints on these issues in a context that could possibly happen today. Contemporary shows me that you don’t need an elaborate fantasy world or futuristic sci-fi technology to change someone’s life; you can do it in the backdrop of a normal high school, where someone is being bullied, or where someone is going through an addiction, or someone is going through financial troubles. It’s a genre that a reader can go “I know how you feel.” This is How It Happened is one of my favorite YA Contemporary reads of 2017 because it accomplishes that. It shows me the consequences of our actions in OUR world. I hope you can love YA Contemporary as much as I do because it truly is an impactful and powerful genre.


About the Book30289938

Somehow I’ve become a liar. A coward. Here’s how it happened.

When Genevieve Grace wakes up from a coma, she can’t remember the car crash that injured her and killed her boyfriend Dallas, a YouTube star who had just released his first album. Genevieve knows she was there, and that there was another driver, a man named Brad Freeman, who everyone assumes is guilty. But as she slowly pieces together the night of the accident, Genevieve is hit with a sickening sense of dread—that maybe she had something to do with what happened.

As the internet rages against Brad Freeman, condemning him in a brutal trial by social media, Genevieve escapes to her father’s house, where she can hide from reporters and spend the summer volunteering in beautiful Zion National Park. But she quickly realizes that she can’t run away from the accident, or the terrible aftermath of it all.

Incredibly thought-provoking and beautifully told, Paula Stokes’s story will compel readers to examine the consequences of making mistakes in a world where the internet is always watching…and judging.

Goodreads


4 Stars

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

Overall Thoughts: This book is a must-read, and I mean it! The Internet is such a big part in our everyday lives that we do not know a lot the consequences of our actions on their and what effect they have on others, and we teens especially have a lot to learn. This is How It Happened opened my eyes up to online shaming and how even just one hurtful Tweet can build up to hurt not only those who are being targeted but others around them. This is actually my first Paula Stokes book, and I’m very impressed with not only her writing style but also the messages she had in the books. I urge you to pick up this book because it truly can change your life and what you do both in real life and on the Internet.

Thought-Provoking Messages: Stokes will definitely change your view on online shaming, and she shows how people can easily judge others online without knowing the full facts. Throughout the book, the author adds in comments and Tweets about articles and events in the novel, and they will definitely open up your eyes. I know mine did. I saw how hatred towards someone who people deem as “evil” can lead to all sorts of unintended consequences. What the book emphasizes is that we may not think that our one Tweet will do a lot, but when it combines will thousands of other people, they can drastically affect the lives of those targeted. Stokes shows that victims are not only labeled and shamed, but are driven to even the point of suicide. She shows that people who are acquainted with the victim, whether it’s friends, family, co-workers, etc., can have their lives change for the worse. This is How It Happened is an unforgettable thriller that you cannot put down and that will stick with you for a while. She also talks about another topic (it’s related to impaired driving) that if I talk more about, it could spoil the book, but please, once you’re done, read the author’s note!

Writing Style and Prose: I loved the writing style of Paula Stokes. She made me think, a LOT, and I love that! I failed at stopping and saying “Just one more chapter” because she ends each chapter with such a thought-provoking sentence that makes you go “What happens next?” Her writing is so thought-provoking that I have page flapped a ton of passages because I loved how uniquely she wrote the book. She combined both articles and comments to show how online shaming has gotten very out of hand, and it’s an amazing and accurate portrayal of what actually goes on the Internet. It’s a one of a kind book that is very unforgettable! She truly transported me into the book, as if I was reading the articles on the computer or sitting in Zion National Park looking out at the view. It is a very memorable book!

Slower Beginning: It took me about half the book to get really into it, which is one of my only problems with the novel. I truly didn’t get the “I’m transported into the book and the outside world disappears” feeling until the middle, and then from there, I just could not stop. I think it had to do how the main theme of online shaming didn’t really punch you in the gut until the middle, but overall I enjoyed this book. Once I got nearer to the end, it was if I was actually in the book and watching it unfold before my eyes! Although it may not be a favorite, it still is a book that I will treasure on my shelves.

Concluding Thoughts: I really recommend this book to EVERYONE! It will change your life and help you be careful of what you say both online and in reality. The author wakes up readers to how what we say online may not seem much, but they could have drastic consequences on those targeted and those around them. It is a stunning, thought-provoking thriller that you will not be able to put down. Now I’m really looking forward to reading more of Stokes’s books in the future because she is such an amazing and talented writer. I know I’ve said this already many times, but This is How It Happened is a book that will stick with you for a long. It’s a must read for not only teens, but anyone on the Internet.


About Brooding YA Hero33799449

Have you ever wished you could receive a little guidance from your favorite book boyfriend? Ever dreamed of being the Chosen One in a YA novel? Want to know all the secrets of surviving the dreaded plot twist?

Or maybe you’re just really confused about what “opal-tinted, luminous cerulean orbs” actually are?

Well, popular Twitter personality @broodingYAhero is here to help as he tackles the final frontier in his media dominance: writing a book. Join Broody McHottiepants as he attempts to pen Brooding YA Hero: Becoming a Main Character (Almost) as Awesome as Me, a “self-help” guide (with activities–you always need activities) that lovingly pokes fun at the YA tropes that we roll our eyes at, but secretly love.

As his nefarious ex, Blondie DeMeani, attempts to thwart him at every turn, Broody overcomes to detail, among other topics, how to choose your genre, how to keep your love interest engaged (while maintaining lead character status), his secret formula for guaranteed love triangle success, and how to make sure you secure that sequel, all while keeping his hair perfectly coiffed and never breaking a sweat.

Goodreads


Happy Reading!

+ J.M.J.

~ Kester

Do you love YA Contemporary? Have you read This is How It Happened?

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