ARC Review: As You Wish by Chelsea Sedoti

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


About the BookAs You Wish

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

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

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

Goodreads


4 Stars

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

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

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

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

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

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


Happy Reading!

+ J.M.J.

~ Kester

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

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

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Exclusive Interview with 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!

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Review: Station Fosaan by Dee Garretson

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


About the Bookstation

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

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

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

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

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

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

Goodreads


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

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

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

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


Happy Reading!

+ J.M.J.

~ Kester

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

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

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

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


About the Book25752164

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

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

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

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

Goodreads


A 4 Star

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

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

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

Nadine Brandes Talks about Faith and Fiction in Her Out of Time Trilogy and Unveils the Cover and Title of Her Newest YA Historical Fantasy!

Hi guys! One of my favorite Street Teams that I am a part of is Nadine Brandes’s Ninjas! Nadine’s Out of Time trilogy is one of the most inspiring, life-changing series I have ever read, and I am so glad that I get to have my Ninja leader here on the blog for a few questions. But today is also a HUGE day for her: she is unveiling the cover and title of her upcoming book, which is a YA historical fantasy!!! If you know how much I love historical fiction and fantasy, you know that I am EXCITED about this book. I just read A Time to Rise, which is her trilogy’s conclusion, and I enjoyed it so much (I am reviewing it later this week!) that I hope my excitement for Nadine’s upcoming book is going to rub off on you. Let me tell you, the cover and the blurb already has me pumped. I hope you enjoy my exclusive interview and cover reveal!


About A Time to DieA Time to Die

How would you live if you knew the day you’d die?

Parvin Blackwater has wasted her life. At only seventeen, she has one year left according to the Clock by her bedside.

In a last-ditch effort to make a difference, she tries to rescue Radicals from the crooked justice system. But when the authorities find out about her illegal activity, they cast her through the Wall — her people’s death sentence.

What she finds on the other side about the world, about eternity, and about herself changes Parvin forever and might just save her people. But her Clock is running out.

Goodreads


Nadine Brandes

1. I am such a big fan of your Out of Time trilogy, which follows Parvin Blackwater as she discovers God’s calling for her to challenge her country’s use of Clocks that determine when a person dies and the Wall in which Radicals (those without Clocks) are thrust onto the other side. What inspired you to incorporate your Christian faith into your fiction work? How has the series pushed you to pursue further shalom in your life?

A Time to DieIncorporating my faith into my work was never a choice—it’s who I am. Writing is a very personal thing—I think it’s that way for every author. Every book I write has a piece of me—a piece of my personal journey or question or recent enlightenment. It would actually be much harder for me to try and keep my faith out of my stories because that would be making the stories a lesser part of myself—less personal and real. (Does that make any sense?)

2. Would you want to have a Clock and know the day you’d die? If so, what would you do differently in your life? If not, how would you live day by day (something Parvin learns later in the series)?

No! I never want a Clock! LOL. I strive to live day by day already—content in the time that God has given me and living fully present each day.

3. Did you surprise yourself as you continued to write and revise the series? Without giving away any major spoilers, were there any events or character deaths that weren’t originally in your plans?

Ahem. Yes, I was surprised by a LOT. A certain injury, to note. Unfortunately every character death was planned far in advance because they were crucial to the plot. But there were a couple characters who lived that I’d originally intended to kill off. 😉 No, I’m not going to tell you.

4. Why do you love writing? When did you first have a love for writing, and how was it formed?24466484

Oh my. Do we really have time for me to list all my reasons? Probably not. One reason I love writing is because I get to create. I think that’s a huge part of being made in God’s image—being a fellow creator. And I connect with Him on such an intimate level. 🙂 I’ve always been a storyteller, but didn’t really try writing for publication until I was in college.

The Out of Time Series forced me to think about the question, “How would you live if you knew the day you’d die?” And I really had to examine if I was living a life the way it was intended to be lived. Writing that series really pushed me to a new level of intentionality.

5. What are some the craziest things you’ve done for book research? Why do you believe it’s important for authors to correctly portray certain experiences by doing them themselves?

I don’t know that every author needs to do the way I do book research. But it’s just what works for me. I’m an adventurer and I get all my best descriptions from doing things first hand. (In fact, I’m traveling to England in four days to do some more research!) What are some crazy things I’ve done? I’ve waded through a cattail marsh, rock climbed down a cliff (but with a harness), eaten raw potatoes, sailed through the Panama canal, chased a boxcar train, gone dogsledding….there’s really not much I haven’t done for the sake of book research. Ha!

6. You consider yourself as an adventurer! What are some of your favorite places that you’ve traveled to? Have you been to the cities and countries featured in your books (i.e. Unity Village, France, Russia, Panama, Antarctica, etc.)?

Well, Unity Village is a name I stole from a sign, but it’s certainly not a place that inspired my story. But other than that, I’ve drawn research from Russia, France, Panama, California…I really wanted to go to Antarctica, but that was a bit too big to swing. So instead I interviewed my grandparents who have been there!

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

Fantasy!! Harry Potter, Narnia, Lord of the Rings…those have all inspired me. I think Harry Potter probably inspired me the most to write in the speculative genres. And then Jill Williamson’s series—The Blood of Kings—really showed me how powerful fiction can be from a Christian worldview. 🙂

8. Your bookstagram photos are so gorgeous, and it has over 6,000 well-deserved followers! What’s your secret to creating such beautiful pictures?A Time to Rise

Aww, you’re so sweet! I love bookstagramming! It’s one way I relax after a long writing day. My “secret” is seriously just…practice. I’ve been bookstagramming for years and only just figured out how to fix the lighting for photos or how to edit them to look sharper and clearer. I finally settled into a theme I adore. But I had to be willing to experiment to find what I liked and didn’t like. My best advice would be…experiment! Try new things! Observe accounts you like and learn from them. 🙂

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

Writing is a full-time job. But it hardly ever feels like work! I love it so much that I’m never dreading Mondays or afraid of having to “work” all day. But there are times I need breaks and I’ll usually read or spend time with Mister Ninja (hubby).

10. So Ninja Master, how did you decide upon calling your street team the Ninjas?

Honestly, because “Ninja” started with N and so did “Nadine”. Ha! But “Nadine’s Ninjas” sounded so fun and cool and I totally see my readers as these stealthy brilliant warriors who go out and spread the word and save the world.Nadine

11. What can we expect from you in the future? Could you share any secrets about your upcoming works?

MORE BOOKS! [wink] My next two books will be historical fantasy—a new genre for me. And then I have some ideas for after that, but those are too secret for now. 😉 I plan to continue adventuring and digging into my relationship with Jesus because He’s the one who brings me on the best adventures!

12. Would you like to share any tips to any aspiring authors or writers?

WRITE THE THING. If you want to write, then do it. Write the book. Don’t worry about the first draft, it always has room to grow. Instead, write as though no one is watching. Write freely and enjoy the process. Every part of it is beautiful.

Also, my biggest piece of advice is to pray over your work. I know some people may not be the praying sort, but I’d just say…time to learn. 😉 God will change and grow your story in beautiful ways beyond even your fantastic imagination!! ❤

Thanks so much for having me!

Thank you so much, Nadine, for coming! I’m so honored to have you on my blog!


Now onto the cover reveal!

Let me tell you that this cover is one of the most GORGEOUS ones I have ever seen. I definitely need a copy once it’s printed to display at home. I cannot take my eyes off it because it is breathtaking. I’m going to give a few hints of what event the book covers before you read the blurb–the first one is that I’ve never seen any fictional book about this event so it’s intriguing me so much!

Scroll down to see the cover!

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Here’s a tiny hint:

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It’s set in England.

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That was very broad.

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It’s set a few years after the start of the 17th century.

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Do you have a guess?

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I’ll give you one last hint!

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I hope you remember, remember that certain date!

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Well, the book revolves around…

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The Gunpowder Plot of 1605!

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And here is the cover!

Fawkes

About Fawkes

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

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

But what if death finds him first?

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

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

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

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

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

Here is the link for the cover reveal announcement:

http://bit.ly/FawkesBook

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

Goodreads  |  Amazon


About Nadine BrandesNadine

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

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads | Pinterest


Happy Reading!

+ J.M.J.

~ Kester

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

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

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

My October Reading Re-Cap!

Hi guys! Happy End of Daylight’s Savings Time! I hope you got a nice extra hour of sleep! So this month, I managed to finish nine books (woo hoo!), which is really surprising considering my schedule is really busy regarding school and other activities at the moment. However, many of these books were really short novellas, and one of them was my English required reading. But does it really matter? They all still count towards my reading goal! And if you missed some of my October posts, you can find links to them below.

October


5 Stars

The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

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Goodreads Continue reading “My October Reading Re-Cap!”

Review: Lucky Few by Kathryn Ormsbee

Hi guys! Back in March, I had the lovely opportunity to meet Kathryn Ormsbee at the SE-YA Book Festival, and she is also a local Tennessee author living in Nashville (one of my favorite cities in the world). I was able to interview her here on the blog (which you can find here), and today I have the chance to review her debut YA novel Lucky Few! I hope you enjoy!


About the Book-2

Stevie, Max, and Sanger: keeping Austin weird.

Stevie Hart is homeschooled, but don’t hold that against her. Sure, she and her best (okay, only) friend, Sanger, will never be prom queens, but that’s just because the Central Austin Homeschool Cooperative doesn’t believe in proms. Or dancing. Still, Stevie and Sanger know how to create their own brand of fun.

Enter Max Garza, the new boy next door. After a near-fatal accident, Max is determined to defy mortality with a checklist: 23 Ways to Fake My Death Without Dying. Dead set on carrying out fabricated demises ranging from impalement to spontaneous combustion, Max charms Stevie and Sanger into helping him with this two-month macabre mission. But as Stevie finds herself falling for Max, it becomes increasingly difficult to draw a line between his make-believe deaths and her real life.

Goodreads


4 Stars

Disclaimer: I received a free signed copy of this book and some swag from the author. This will not affect my review.

I was really excited when Kathryn sent me signed copies of both her YA contemporaries Lucky Few and Tash Hearts Tolstoy! Lucky Few has been on my to-be-read list for a long time, partly because she was a SE-YA 2017 author and the cover is so cute. This book did not disappoint! I had such a fun, exciting adventure with Stevie, Sanger, and Max. Lucky Few is one of those novels that you could laugh and cry in one sitting. Just like your closest friendships (it definitely reminds me of mine), you don’t want this book to end–you just want it to go on and let the good times continue!

One of my favorite aspects of this book was Stevie’s narration. Kathryn Ormsbee has an amazing gift for making first-person narrators so unique and entertaining. She conveyed the homeschooled experience very authentically, and I really enjoyed reading about how the homeschooling process works. Stevie also is one of the most memorable narrators I’ve ever read–her voice stands out from the other first-person accounts I have read in past books. From page one, I fell in love with Stevie’s character and how she told her story, and that’s an uncommon thing you see in stories. However, Ormsbee managed to accomplish for me a love of the main character at first sight.

I also loved the friendship between Stevie, Sanger, and Max! The author transported me so much into the story that I both laughed and cried (internally for the latter) as if I was part of their group. Their escapades were so fun and entertaining, yet you could feel the bonds of their friendship really strongly on a different level. Each character was also so unique yet likeable too. From Sanger’s eccentric personality to Max’s desire to fake his own death 23 times, you’ll just fall in love with them. The evolution of their relationships (both friendly and romantic) definitely drove the story really well, showing both their good times and bad times. I wish I was actually able to meet them in person!

Lucky Few is one of the most entertaining and huggable YA contemporary novels I have ever read! You will definitely fall in love with it from page one! From the author’s mastering of making the narrator’s voice unique (which Ormsbee also does in her newest book Tash Hearts Tolstoy) to the main characters’ fun friendship, Lucky Few infuses both the light and dark moments all friendships go through as Stevie, Sanger, and Max not only get closer to each other but also discover more about their identities. I will definitely be looking forward to more of Kathryn Ormsbee’s works! Her writing style is entertaining, unique, and amazing–which also describes her books.


About the Author17757389_1897609900518878_42671521515359918_n

Kathryn Ormsbee writes books & songs in Nashville, TN. Her debut YA, LUCKY FEW, published June 2016 with Simon & Schuster. Her next YA, TASH HEARTS TOLSTOY, comes out June 6, 2017.

Kathryn also writes Middle Grade fantasy novels as K.E. Ormsbee. She is the author of THE WATER AND THE WILD series and the upcoming standalone THE HOUSE IN POPLAR WOOD (Chronicle Books, 2018).

In her wild, early years, Kathryn taught English as a Foreign Language, interned with a film society, and did a lot of irresponsible road tripping. Nowadays, she teaches piano lessons, records a weekly true crime podcast with her sister, and runs races she never wins. She likes clothes from the 60s, music from the 70s, and movies from the 80s. She is from the 90s. You can visit her online at keormsbee.com or follow her on Twitter & Instagram @kathsby.

WebsiteTwitter | Instagram | Goodreads


Happy Reading!

+ J.M.J.

~ Kester

Have you read Lucky Few or any of Kathryn’s books? Do you love YA contemporary?

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

Email | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram | Bloglovin

My 2017 Southern Festival of Books Experience!

Hi guys! Last week for Fall Break, I attended the Southern Festival of Books, which brings hundreds of authors and book lovers from all across the nation to Nashville, Tennessee! Last year, I was able to go to a few signings during the last few hours of the Saturday date, but this year, I planned to stay the entire day (or at least most of it). SFB was definitely one of the best (well, really only) book festivals I have ever been to! The atmosphere and the authors were so amazing to talk to, and I got many books signed! Although I did not meet as many authors as I did with SE-YA last March, I did have a lot of fun chatting with the ones I did meet. Here are some pictures!

I got SEVEN books signed there (technically eight since I got a signed bookplate from Julie C. Dao and won a copy of Forest of a Thousand Lanterns the next week), and I am super excited to read many of them! They include (from top left to bottom right) The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley, The Warrior Heir by Cinda Williams Chima, A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab, Refugee by Alan Gratz, The Serpent King and Goodbye Days by Jeff Zenter, and This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab (who also writes as V. E. Schwab for NA novels).

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I also met some amazing authors, all who were super nice and great to talk with!

Continue reading “My 2017 Southern Festival of Books Experience!”

Double Mini-Reviews: My Junior Year of Loathing & Embers in the Sea

Hi guys! Can you believe October is already halfway over? Neither can I! Today’s books are ones I have read all the way back in the Spring, but I haven’t had time to post my reviews until now. I’ve been really backed up with reviews lately because I read so much over the summer that there’s too many reviews to be posted and not enough time! So here’s a double mini-review for you!


About My Junior Year of Loathing29151390

Junior year is supposed to be tough. Exams, term papers, homework, college tours, and participation in extra-curricular activities can all add up to non-stop stress. But Melinda Banner has goals to achieve and dreams to make real. This year, she’ll be unstoppable. But even over achievers need a break.

While walking in the woods to take a break from the stress of it all, Melinda meets a boy named Connor. After a few more run-ins, the two settle into an uneasy friendship, if you can even call it that.

But Connor’s closed and mysterious. Whenever Melinda asks too many questions, he suddenly has to go or is no longer interested in talking. When they’re together, she’s torn between wanting him to open up and running away as fast as she can. Still she can’t seem to shake her budding interest in him.

Connor has his own way of looking at the world, and his views often conflict with Melinda’s practical nature. Can you like someone and loathe them at the same time? Is he even worth the emotional tug on her heartstrings or distraction from all things Junior year?

And, as if she needs another project right now, Melinda starts to obsess over the abandoned estate she passes on the way to school each day. Between Connor and the old estate, Melinda’s beginning to think she’s taking on too much.

But Melinda’s smart. She finds a way to indulge her interest in the estate and fulfill her obligations. She will uncover the truth behind the aging edifice for an epic article in the school newspaper.

But when her investigation reveals a connection between Connor and a tragedy long-since forgotten, Melinda has a choice: put off her junior year achievements to save a local landmark and a boy who constantly pushes her away or put them both out of her mind for good and focus on making the grade.

Goodreads


A 3 Star

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

I’ve been really looking forward to My Junior Year of Loathing for a long time since I loved its predecessor My Senior Year of Awesomeness so much! DiGiovanni’s debut was one of my favorite reads of 2017, and it’s one of my favorite light and fluffy YA contemporary reads (you can see why here). Because of that, I’ve had really high expectations for this book, but unfortunately it felt short of those hopes. Instead of wanting to continue reading, I found myself taking a long time to finish this book. It sadly did not hook me as much as I wanted it to. Continue reading “Double Mini-Reviews: My Junior Year of Loathing & Embers in the Sea”