Review: Holding Smoke by Elle Cosimano – Gave Me Thrills and Chills!

Hi guys! Today we are transitioning from a 10-star review scale to a 5-star review scale. I think it is much easier to review with 5 stars since I find myself too lenient with ratings. So, I’m doing a 5 star review system! We are still figuring out what our rating theme should be- ooh! We’re gonna do something teenish since we’re all a bunch of teens here! So be looking forward to that! Here’s my latest review on Holding Smoke by Elle Cosimano!

Disclaimer: I received a free copy from the author in exchange for a review. I also got some free signed swag- this is outside of the trade agreement. None of these factors will affect my review.

Goodreads Summary: John “Smoke” Conlan is serving time for two murders but he wasn’t the one who murdered his English teacher, and he never intended to kill the only other witness to the crime. A dangerous juvenile rehabilitation center in Denver, Colorado, known as the Y, is Smoke’s new home and the only one he believes he deserves.holding-smoke

But, unlike his fellow inmates, Smoke is not in constant imprisonment. After a near death experience leaves him with the ability to shed his physical body at will, Smoke is able to travel freely outside the concrete walls of the Y, gathering information for himself and his fellow inmates while they’re asleep in their beds. Convinced his future is only as bright as the fluorescent lights in his cell, Smoke doesn’t care that the “threads” that bind his soul to his body are wearing thin-that one day he may not make it back in time. That is, until he meets Pink, a tough, resourceful girl who is sees him for who he truly is and wants to help him clear his name.

Now Smoke is on a journey to redemption he never thought possible. With Pink’s help, Smoke may be able to reveal the true killer, but the closer they get to the truth, the more deadly their search becomes. The web of lies, deceit, and corruption that put Smoke behind bars is more tangled than they could have ever imagined. With both of their lives on the line, Smoke will have to decide how much he’s willing to risk, and if he can envision a future worth fighting for.

Continue reading “Review: Holding Smoke by Elle Cosimano – Gave Me Thrills and Chills!”

My Southeastern Young Adult Book Festival Recap

Hey guys! A couple of weeks ago, I went to the best book festival in the world: the Southeastern Young Adult Book Festival in Murfreesboro, TN! SE-YA was so amazing, and my dad and I managed to brave the snow and see 35 out of 40 amazing authors! Here are some pics and highlights from the festival!

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So I got this poster signed by a ton of fabulous authors, and I got four books signed: The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis, Emerge by Tobie Easton, The Dark Unwinding by Sharon Cameron, and Mosquitoland by David Arnold. Both the books and authors are amazing, and I loved reading the books and chatting with the authors! They are super nice!

 

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Sharon Cameron

 

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Mindy McGinnis

 

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David Arnold

 

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Tobie Easton

I also met some of the most amazing authors I’ve been wanting to meet for a long time! They are super nice and fun to talk to, and I loved reading their books!

 

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Shaila Patel

 

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Jennifer M. Eaton

 

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Brittany Goodwin
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M. Tara Crowl

I also got to meet a ton of other authors that I’m so glad I got to meet! I didn’t take pictures with all of them, but I’m certainly glad I got the opportunity to meet them!

 

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Monika Schroeder

 

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Nicole Castroman
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Cinda Williams Chima

I also got to meet Kym Brunner, Andrew Maraniss, E. Katherine Kottaras, Kathryn Ormsbee, Tracy Barrett, Brooks Benjamin, Jenn Bishop, I. W. Gregorio, C. J. Redwine, Beth Revis, Megan Shepherd, Lois Sepahban, Megan Shepherd, Sheba Karim, and more!!!! The full list of SE-YA 2017 authors is here: SE-YA 2017 Authors.

Well, that’s my 2017 SE-YA Recap in pictures, but if you want to know more, comment below, and let’s have a chat! Did you go to SE-YA? Have you read any books by these authors? Comment your thoughts!

Happy Reading!

+ J.M.J.

~ Kester

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Exclusive Interview with Andrew Maraniss!

Hi guys! Welcome to today’s special Friday interview! A few weeks ago, I went to the SE-YA Book Festival in Murfreesboro, TN, and I met some of the nicest and best authors there. I am so glad I have the chance to interview one of them today, and he is also a local author! Yay for TN authors! Andrew Maraniss is the author of Strong Inside, a biography about Perry Wallace which is in both the regular edition and the Young Readers’ Edition, which just came out this year. Go check them out!

Andrew Maraniss

1.     What is your book STRONG INSIDE about?Strong Inside

The easiest, shortest description is to say that it’s a biography of Perry Wallace, the first African American basketball player in the Southeastern Conference. But the book is about a lot more than just basketball. It’s about the civil rights movement, what it takes to be a pioneer, how a university struggled to become a more diverse and welcoming place, and how a teenager overcame tremendous obstacles to live a happy, successful life.

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

 I enjoy everything about writing – including the parts that aren’t actually writing! For my book, I spent four years doing research and interviews before I wrote the first word. I love digging through old newspaper articles and archives looking for little nuggets of information that add rich detail to the story. I have loved writing ever since I was a kid. I would create my own sports magazines when I was in middle school.

3.     Who are your favorite authors, and which ones have had an impact on you? Who has affected your writing style the most?

My father has been a journalist my whole life, and he has been writing books ever since the time I was in college, so he has had the biggest impact on me as a writer by far. He was writing for a great newspaper, The Washington Post, when I was growing up, so I had the good fortune of reading very good journalism since the time I was five years old. I enjoy narrative non-fiction the most, so authors such as Erik Larson, John Feinstein, Bob Woodward, David Halberstam, Bill Bryson, and James Swanson are my favorites. I really enjoy reading a book where I feel like I am existing right beside the characters; I’ve been placed directly in their world.

4.     What are your favorite genres to read and write? What are your favorite books?

My favorite genre to read and write is narrative non-fiction. Some of my favorite books are Son of the Morning Star, Devil in the White City, The Breaks of the Game, The Perfect Storm, and Manhunt. As far as my dad’s books go, I have loved all of them, but I will mention When Pride Still Mattered (a biography of Vince Lombardi), They Marched Into Sunlight (about Vietnam), and Rome 1960 (about the Summer Olympics). I don’t reach much fiction but I really enjoyed Stephen King’s time-travel book, 11/22/63.

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

Writing has become my full-time job. I wrote STRONG INSIDE as a side-project outside of my ‘real’ job at a public relations firm in Nashville. But now I am working on books or writing freelance articles for magazines and websites for a living. Also, because Vanderbilt University has selected the ‘adult’ version of STRONG INSIDE as the common read for their first-year students each of the last two years, I have worked on special projects for the university related to the book.

1974409_10153111065632743_6718783467156551887_o6.     How much research did you have to put into STRONG INSIDE? Have you ever had the chance to meet Perry Wallace?

I spent four years on the research for STRONG INSIDE. That included interviewing around 100 people and visiting numerous libraries and archives. I loved the research part! I interviewed Perry Wallace in person dozens of times, and also talked to him on the phone or emailed him questions. The first time I ever interviewed him was actually many, many years before I started writing the book. I actually wrote a paper about him for a history class when I was a sophomore at Vanderbilt in 1989. I didn’t start writing the book until 2006.

7.     What about Perry Wallace’s life speaks to you the most? Why did you choose him as the subject of your books?

I think Perry Wallace is the smartest, most interesting person I’ve ever come across, and his story of overcoming racism is extremely relevant today. I admire his courage tremendously. As I mentioned, his story is about a lot more than just basketball. It’s about concepts such as courage, love, hate, honesty, patience, isolation and loneliness, perseverance, reconciliation – things anyone can relate to.

8.     Why did you decide to write a Young Readers Edition along with the regular biography? What are some of their differences?

It wasn’t my idea initially to create the Young Readers version of STRONG INSIDE. I was encouraged to do it by two wonderful women – Ann Neely, who is a professor at Vanderbilt, and Ruta Sepetys, an amazing author who lives in Nashville. With their help and encouragement, I was able to present my book to Philomel (a young readers imprint at Penguin), and they really liked Perry’s story. The main difference is the length of the book. The Young Readers version is about one-fourth the length of the original, so it’s a much quicker read. I enjoyed working with the editors at Philomel to shorten the story, while also keeping the main storyline intact. This version of the book gets right to the heart of the action a lot quicker than the original, which builds up to the tension more slowly.

9.     If you could play any sport for any college or professional team, who would you choose and why? Do you play any sports as a hobby?

I grew up playing baseball, and my favorite team is the Milwaukee Brewers. So, if I could play for any team, I’d be a pitcher for the Brewers!

10. You graduated from Vanderbilt University and later worked there! Go Commodores! What are some of your favorite things or experiences from Vandy?

I was fortunate to earn a full-tuition sportswriting scholarship to Vanderbilt, which completely changed and shaped the direction of my life from that point forward. I lived in Austin, Texas in high school and had never really heard of Vanderbilt. There’s no way I would have gone to college there or moved to Nashville if not for the scholarship. My favorite building on earth is Memorial Gym, where the Commodores play basketball. It’s the same place Perry Wallace played. My wife and I got engaged the same day we saw Vanderbilt beat the No. 1 ranked team in the country there, and we also had our rehearsal dinner the night before our wedding at Memorial Gym!

11. As a biographer, what were some challenges you faced when you wrote both editions of STRONG INSIDE?Andrew Maraniss 1

I wanted my book to be taken seriously by sports fans, historians, civil rights experts, and book reviewers, but also be an entertaining read that anyone would enjoy, whether they are big sports fans or students or history buffs. So it was a challenge to balance all of that. It was also a challenge just sticking with a project for so long: eight years to create the original version, and then almost another year creating the young readers version.

12. How do you want your books to impact or change your readers? What message do you want both your younger and older audiences to get?

The biggest thing is probably empathy. I want people to put themselves in Perry Wallace’s shoes and experience what it was like to be a young, African American man encountering tremendous hatred and hostility just because of the color of his skin. He was the valedictorian of his high school. He practiced his trumpet four hours a day. He taught Sunday School. He never got in trouble. He spoke numerous foreign languages. He was a great athlete. He was kind to his sisters and parents. And yet when Vanderbilt announced they were recruiting him, people sent death threats to his home, said they would never go to another Vanderbilt game again, and harassed him on the basketball court. Every time he stepped out on the court, he was concerned he might get shot and killed. On campus, he felt very lonely and isolated. I want people to experience that, and see how wrong racism is. For those who have experienced racism themselves and had experiences similar to what Perry endured, I hope they will take some inspiration from his life, and how he overcame these challenges.

13. Have you ever had writer’s block, and if so, how do you get out of it?

My dad gave me great advice. He said he stops writing for the day already knowing what the next sentence or next paragraph will say, rather than stopping when he’s stumped. That way, the next time he gets started, he already knows what he’s going to say next. It helps keep momentum going and avoid writer’s block.

14. I am so glad I got to see you at the Southeastern Young Adult Book Festival in Murfreesboro, TN! It’s great meeting a local author! How did you like being an author there? Did you enjoy it? I know I did!

17212020_10155128500247743_5534080503796664787_oI loved the opportunity to participate in the SE-YA festival. I have spoken at numerous book festivals with adult version of my book, but this was the first time I had a chance to speak at a festival for students. It was awesome! I love meeting and speaking with young people. There is nothing better than seeing kids excited about reading and writing. I also really enjoyed the opportunity to hang out with so many amazing authors. I have found the young adult book world to be a really friendly scene full of helpful, kind, supportive people.

15. Have you written any other works? What are your current plans with your writing career?

STRONG INSIDE was my first book, but I hope to write many, many more. And I will continue to write for ESPN’s The Undefeated website. Here’s a link to the stories I have written for them so far.

16. Do you have any tips to any aspiring authors or writers?

Keep reading and writing! My parents told me whenever I was bored, read a book. And when you’re writing, don’t forget to spend time editing. Eliminate unnecessary words and clichés. Show rather than tell.

Thank you so much, Andrew, for coming onto our blog! It was fun writing your questions and reading your answers!

If you want to check out Andrew’s social media accounts, contact him, or buy his books, click the links below!

Website  |  Twitter  |  Facebook  |  Goodreads  |  YouTube  |  Bumpers

Strong Inside (Regular Edition)

Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble  |  Parnassus Books

Strong Inside Young Readers’ Edition

Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble  |  Parnassus Books

Thanks so much for reading this interview! Have a great weekend!

+ J.M.J.

~ Kester

 

 

DOUBLE Cover Reveal: Crown of Ice & Scepter of Fire

Today I’m participating in a special double cover reveal for the first two books in the Mirror of Immortality Trilogy by Vicki L. Weavil. The all-new second edition of the first book, Crown of Ice, releases on May 9 from Snowy Wings Publishing, with the second book, Scepter of Fire, coming on May 23!

Let me tell you something: these covers are probably the prettiest ones I have seen in a while. When I first saw them, I pretty much swooned. I was like “Oh… so… pretty!” I love them a lot!

Here goes!

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What do you call…

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A fish with no eyes?

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Blind.

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Ha! Ha! Ha! I made that up!

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You’re probably not laughing…

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Fine, here is the cover!

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*Kester starts singing “Ah!!!!” like an opera singer*

Cover designed by Deranged Doctor Design

Title: Crown of Ice
Author: Vicki L. Weavil
Release Date: May 9, 2017
Publisher: Snowy Wings Publishing

Snow Queen Thyra Winther is immortal, but if she can’t reassemble a shattered enchanted mirror by her eighteenth birthday she’s doomed to spend eternity as a wraith.

Armed with magic granted by a ruthless wizard, Thyra schemes to survive with her mind and body intact. Unencumbered by kindness, she kidnaps local boy Kai Thorsen, whose mathematical skills rival her own. Two logical minds, Thyra calculates, are better than one. With time rapidly melting away she needs all the help she can steal.

A cruel lie ensnares Kai in her plan, but three missing mirror shards and Kai’s childhood friend, Gerda, present more formidable obstacles.

Thyra’s willing to do anything – venture into uncharted lands, outwit sorcerers, or battle enchanted beasts — to reconstruct the mirror, yet her most dangerous adversary lies within her. Touched by the warmth of a wolf pup’s devotion and the fire of a young man’s love, the thawing of Thyra’s frozen heart could prove her ultimate undoing.

Add Crown of Ice on Goodreads!

Cover designed by Deranged Doctor Design

Title: Scepter of Fire
Author: Vicki L. Weavil
Release Date: May 23, 2017
Publisher: Snowy Wings Publishing

She’s the ugly duckling in a family of swans. But Varna Lund is determined to live a life that matters.

Ridiculed by the young men of her village, Varna vows she’ll become the finest healer in the land. The skills she’s learned from her ancient mentor prove vital when she encounters Erik Stahl, a young soldier who deserted the battlefield to carry an injured friend to safety. Aided by her sister Gerda, she cares for the soldiers in secret.

When betrayal catapults the four young people into life on the run, Varna encounters her former mentor—now revealed as the sorcerer, Sten Rask. Seeking an enchanted mirror that offers unlimited power, Rask appears determined to seduce Varna to his side.

To protect their country, Varna and her companions form an alliance with a former Snow Queen, a scholar, and an enchantress. But when Rask tempts her with beauty and power, Varna’s heart becomes a battlefield. Caught between loyalty to her companions and a man whose kisses ignite a fire on her lips, Varna must choose—embrace her own desires, or fight for a society that’s always spurned her.

Add Scepter of Fire on Goodreads!

About the Author:

Vicki L. Weavil turned her early obsession with reading into a career as a librarian. After obtaining a B.A. in Theatre from the University of Virginia, she continued her education by receiving a Masters in Library Science and a M.A. in Liberal Studies. She is currently the Library Director for a performing and visual arts university.

An avid reader who appreciates good writing in all genres, Vicki has been known to read seven books in as many days. When not writing or reading, she likes to spend her time watching films, listening to music, gardening, or traveling. Vicki, who writes in other genres under the pennames V. E. Lemp and Victoria Gilbert, is represented by Frances Black of Literary Counsel, NY, NY. She lives in North Carolina with her husband and some very spoiled cats.

Visit Vicki online at vickilweavil.com, or on Twitter at @VickiLWeavil or Facebook at @VickiLWeavil.

The covers were so beautiful, weren’t they! Well, I got to go! See you later! 🙂

+ J.M.J.

~ Kester

Guest Post + GIVEAWAY with Shaila Patel: Avoiding the Traps in Writing Romance

Hello! I am so glad Spring Break is here! Woot woot! I am currently a little under the weather right now, but I am so glad I have a wonderful author here on our blog today. I met Shaila Patel a couple of weeks ago at the Southeastern Young Adult Book Festival, and it was so awesome to meet her! She is one of the nicest author I’ve ever talked with, and I’ve loved our little chats. I loved her debut book Soulmated, and she is giving away an e-copy of her book along with some swag. The swag is great; I have some at home and I love them! Hope you enjoy!

Two souls. One Fate. soulmated_shailapatel_1600x2400_seriestitle

Eighteen-year-old Liam Whelan, an Irish royal empath, has been searching for his elusive soulmate. The rare union will cement his family’s standing in empath politics and afford the couple legendary powers, while also making them targets of those seeking to oust them.

Laxshmi Kapadia, an Indian-American high school student from a traditional family, faces her mother’s ultimatum: Graduate early and go to medical school, or commit to an arranged marriage.

When Liam moves next door to Laxshmi, he’s immediately and inexplicably drawn to her. In Liam, Laxshmi envisions a future with the freedom to follow her heart.

Liam’s father isn’t convinced Laxshmi is “The One” and Laxshmi’s mother won’t even let her talk to their handsome new neighbor. Will Liam and Laxshmi defy expectations and embrace a shared destiny? Or is the risk of choosing one’s own fate too great a price for the soulmated?

 

a-shailaAbout the Author

As an unabashed lover of all things happily-ever-after, Shaila Patel’s younger self would finish reading her copy of Cinderella and fling it across the room because it didn’t mention what happened next. Now she writes from her home in the Carolinas and dreams up all sorts of stories with epilogues. A member of the Romance Writers of America, she’s a pharmacist by training, a medical office manager by day, and a writer by night. Soulmated is her debut novel and the winner of the 2015 Chanticleer Book Reviews Paranormal Awards for Young Adult. She loves books, craft beer, tea, and cozy window seats—but she’ll read anywhere. You might find her sneaking in a few paragraphs at a red light or online gushing about her favorite books.

Publisher Information:Month 9 Books

Represented by: Agent Amanda Leuck of Spencerhill Associates


A Shaila

Avoiding the Traps in Writing Romance

Hi Kester! Thank you for having me here today to talk about avoiding clichés and stereotypes in writing romance.

As a romance writer and a huge fan of romance novels, I can say with certainty that there are no original tropes. A trope is a scenario or plot device, and in love stories they form the foundation on which the romance is built. Examples include the girl falling in love with her brother’s best friend (or vice versa), or the rich, spoiled hero who falls for the one girl who hates him, or even the classic love triangle where a heroine has to choose between two boyfriends.

All romances are based on a trope, yet despite the predictability, we fall in love with a particularly romance novel because it doesn’t feel like the same old story. And that’s probably because it avoided using clichés and stereotypes that usually leave us uninspired and bored. Imagine eating steamed broccoli, or steamed carrots, or steamed cauliflower every night at dinner. Sure, they’re different vegetables, but having them prepared the same way doesn’t get you excited about sitting down to dinner. The same thing can happen in writing.

So how do you avoid the blahs in writing a romance?

Start by subverting the reader’s expectations. Let’s take the example of Beauty and the Beast. Why not make the beast the heroine instead of the hero? Why not move the story into the present day? Or what about making the beast a Hollywood A-list celebrity instead of a recluse? Now you’d have a story that would spark the imagination and make you forget that you already know what it’s all about.

Once you’ve subverted the reader’s expectations of the trope being used, create characters that can’t be contained on the pages of your book. It’s inevitable that you’ll use a few clichés and stereotypes, but don’t rely on them. Instead, captivate your readers with images and characterizations that force them to spin their expectations until they’re dizzy.

Here are three ways you can do that.

First, create fresh character descriptions. By their very nature, clichés and stereotypes don’t inspire us to think. They’re like shortcuts that are overused and instantly tell us what thought, description, or idea is being conveyed. If I were to describe a character’s hair as “golden locks,” you’d know I was describing blond hair. But does it paint a picture in your mind? Not really. How about this: “hair like garlands of pale yellow primroses.” Paints a different picture, doesn’t it?

Second, develop your characters by adding depth. Create an interesting backstory and personality flaws that—again—subvert the reader’s expectations. Taking the trope I mentioned above (the rich, spoiled boy who falls for the girl who hates him), maybe his backstory is that he was poor as a child. Or maybe he’s struggling with turning his parents in for their illegal activities. Why not make him insecure to counter his confidence? Or even embarrassed by a learning disability? There’s nothing more ho-hum than a one-dimensional, perfect character. It leads writers to fall back on expected character-types that you’d find for specific romance tropes, but worse, it makes the story predictable.

Third, have the expected character-type change and grow. If the hero or heroine doesn’t, you run the risk of having flat characters that do nothing to jazz up your trope. Do you have a brooding male hero? Give him a quirky hobby like doing magic tricks. With an interesting backstory, the reader would know why the hero loves the sleight of hand involved with card tricks, and by the end of the story, it could be part of the reason he grows and changes. Do you have a shy heroine? Give her an unexpected cause to champion and allow it to be one of the reasons she transforms by the end of the story. Parallel the hero and heroine’s growth, and intersect them when you need to advance the romantic plot. The goal is to have readers cheering for the hero and heroine, both as individuals and as a couple—all so that they won’t be thinking how predictable the trope is.

Using a romance trope in the same way that it’s always been used is like an uninspiring cliché. It doesn’t create a fresh image in our minds. It isn’t engaging. And if you can’t engage a reader, they’ll likely forget what they read.

And who would want to read a book like that?


Thank you so much, Shaila, for coming onto our blog! I’m so glad to have you guest post for us!

If you want to check out Shaila’s social media pages or buy Soulmated, check out the links below!

Contact Links:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | Goodreads

Buy Links for Soulmated:

Amazon | B&N | Book Depository | Books-a-Million| Google Play | Indiebound | Kobo


Now onto the giveaway! Woo hoo! I think you should enter this giveaway because I loved Soulmated A LOT! I mean A LOT! It was amazing! You’ll really enjoy it!

Just a few quick rules:

1) This is open to ALL International residents. For US Residents, you will get more swag than Int’l residents because of postage.

2) You must be truthful when entering!

3) You must be 18 years or older or have parental permission.

4) Winner must respond within 48 hours of me notifying him or her.

Here’s the Giveaway Link!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I wish you the best! Hope you have fun! 🙂

+ J.M.J.

~ Kester

 

 

 

 

 

Soulmated by Shaila Patel

Hello! Last Saturday, I finally got to meet one of the nicest and best authors at the Southeastern Young Adult Book Festival (post to come soon)! Her name is Shaila Patel, and she is an amazing romance writer! I am so glad I got to meet her, and her debut book Soulmated just released in January! Go buy it and check it out!

Goodreads Summary: **Winner of the 2015 Chanticleer Book Reviews Paranormal Awards in YA**soulmated_shailapatel_1600x2400_seriestitle

Two souls. One Fate.

Eighteen-year-old Liam Whelan, an Irish royal empath, has been searching for his elusive soulmate. The rare union will cement his family’s standing in empath politics and afford the couple legendary powers, while also making them targets of those seeking to oust them.

Laxshmi Kapadia, an Indian-American high school student from a traditional family, faces her mother’s ultimatum: Graduate early and go to medical school, or commit to an arranged marriage.

When Liam moves next door to Laxshmi, he’s immediately and inexplicably drawn to her. In Liam, Laxshmi envisions a future with the freedom to follow her heart.

Liam’s father isn’t convinced Laxshmi is “The One” and Laxshmi’s mother won’t even let her talk to their handsome new neighbor. Will Liam and Laxshmi defy expectations and embrace a shared destiny? Or is the risk of choosing one’s own fate too great a price for the soulmated?

DISCLAIMER: I received a free electronic ARC copy of this book from the author in exchange for a review. I have also received swag from the author. These will not affect my review in any way.

Rating: 10/10 stars

Overall Thoughts: Soulmated was actually one of my most anticipated releases of 2017, and I was so excited when I got an e-ARC of it from the author! This book was really impressive for a debut author; it definitely exceeded my expectations and grabbed my attention! It’s not just a normal lovey-dovey romance, but instead, it infuses a unique relationship with an air of tension, mystery, questioning, and suspicion. This is not your average young adult romance. It is one of the best I have ever read!

Humor and Relatability: I have not laughed in a book more than this one! There is a lot of humor in what the characters do or say that both teens and adults will laugh at! I know because I’ve chuckled quite a few times. The ethnic diversity of the characters are so authentic that at times it’s funny! I could hear Liam’s Irish accent, and I loved it when Laxshmi corrected her mom’s grammar. I was going “Same!!!” Even the Irish and Indian terminology in the book is great; I had the urge to go “What’s craic?” (which is Irish for “What’s up?”) to some of my peers!

Romance: There are many reasons why the romance between the two protagonists is so unique and amazing!

1) Diversity. The author embraces each of the character’s ethnic backgrounds and portrays it so well in the book. The interracial romance breaks boundaries, yet it uses Laxshmi’s Indian heritage as an important element of this story. You just have to read to find out how it is both helped and harmed their connection.

2) Ups and Downs. The two went through many trials (not spoiling the ending). Both questioned whether it was right to pursue a relationship with the other, yet the still harbored feelings for each other. The dual-POV definitely added a layer of internal conflict that really works with this storyline. 3) Fantasy. Liam being an empath prince adds a ton of tension on the relationship. He is forced to find his “soulmate,” yet he questions whether Lucky (his nickname for Laxshmi) is the one. He at times feels dead-set that she is “the one” but at other times he doesn’t. The empath politics that surround this romance also adds a new sub-plot to it. There are some twists and surprises in store! Read it to find out what they are!

Some Details: There were, like many books I have already read, some parts where I had to think or read about what happened. I had to re-read the ending to grasp the events that were unfolding, but once I realized what was going on, I was shocked. There is a weird time-jump in the middle of the book that actually made me think the Liam at the time was an impostor (it was Liam for real by the way), but other than that, I don’t have a problem with anything!

My Review in a Nutshell: The ending definitely shocked me. I was like “What???” and “I need to read the next book!” I literally want to know what happens next! Overall, I enjoyed this book! I love it so much! Patel did not disappoint in her debut book, and I am so glad I was able to read it!

Recommendation: 100% Yes! I think you will be “soulmated” to this book! (Ha! Get it? No. Tough crowd.)

+ J.M.J.

Til next time!

~ Kester

Secrets of a Reluctant Princess Blog Tour: Guest Post by Casey Griffin –

Hello! Welcome to my tour stop for the Secrets of a Reluctant Princess Blog Tour! I know this little intro isn’t as long or personal as the others, but I’m a little bit crunched for time at the moment, but I hope you enjoy it!

soarptour

 

Secrets of a Reluctant Princess by Casey GriffinSecrets

Publication Date: March 7, 2017

Publisher:  Entangled Teen

At Beverly Hills High, you have to be ruthless to survive…

Adrianna Bottom always wanted to be liked. But this wasn’t exactly what she had in mind. Now, she’s in the spotlight…and out of her geeky comfort zone. She’ll do whatever it takes to turn the rumor mill in her favor—even if it means keeping secrets. So far, it’s working.

Wear the right clothes. Say the right things. Be seen with the right people.

Kevin, the adorable sketch artist who shares her love of all things nerd, isn’t exactly the right people. But that doesn’t stop Adrianna from crushing on him. The only way she can spend time with him is in disguise, as Princess Andy, the masked girl he’s been LARPing with. If he found out who she really was, though, he’d hate her.

The rules have been set. The teams have their players. Game on.

Link to Goodreads

Purchase Links:

Google Play | BAM | Chapters | Indies | Amazon | B&N| Kobo | TBD | iBooks

 

Link to Tour Schedule

 

Now onto the guest post!

Casey Griffin

Speaking to Teens

Maybe it’s because I never matured past high school, or because I read a lot of YA, but I’ve never had much trouble putting myself in a young adult’s shoes to write a story from their perspective. In fact, it’s fun, refreshing even, to try to see the world through the eyes of a teenager. All that youthful optimism, the world at their feet, the rest of their lives ahead of them (yet, ironically, they can’t imagine ever being as old as I am). So what do I keep in mind while writing from a young adult’s point of view?

I’ve been there

  • I was once a teenager. I won’t tell you how long ago that was, but it wasn’t too long ago that I can’t remember how monumental some things seemed, how exciting, how scary, how frustrating. And if for a moment I take away some of the boring grown up things that occupy my brain space as an adult like bills, mortgages, and my career, it’s easy to still feel some of those same things. Heck, when it comes to romance, it doesn’t matter how old you get. When you fall in love, it still feels just as exciting and important as your first crush.

For teens, everything is new

  • I’ve had years of experiences that helped me develop the social and emotional tools to deal with a variety of situations (translation: I’ve made a ton of mistakes). For a teenager, a lot of those same experiences are new. They’re discovering their own achievements (and mistakes) for the first time. Add a dash of homework, a good dousing of hormones, trap them all in the same ugly building day after day, and OMG the world is ending! But it’s also fresh and exciting. Where an adult might feel skepticism or suspicion, a teen would have a fresh take on it.

It’s not easy being a teen

  • Many adults (read “all”) think they know everything and that teens should be learning from our past mistakes and limitless wisdom. But adults forget that teens can be pretty resourceful, and we can learn a lot from them too. Young adults deal with a lot these days. Not just in their own lives, but almost on a wider scale—as in globally, thanks to social media and the Internet. After becoming a step mom to a teen myself recently, and with three nephews all around that age, it feels like being a teen is tougher now than when I was one. Maybe there are more issues to face, maybe more pressure—or maybe that’s just all the years playing with my memory.

Put yourself in their shoes

  • While the vast majority of YA authors are not YAs themselves, I think it’s important to stay in touch with the age group you’re trying to write for. If an author has teens in their extended family, it’s as easy as connecting, asking questions, finding out what they’re up to, and what’s important to them. Of course there’s always excellent YA books, TV shows, and movies. It’s all about stepping out of your adult shoes and into theirs—you guys are still wearing platforms, right? 🙂

 

Thank you so much, Casey, for your wonderful guest post! Great to have you on our blog!

 

Now onto the giveaway!

Giveaway Information: 

  • One (1) winner will receive a signed copy of Secrets of a Reluctant Princess + a Tiara!

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

About the AuthorCasey

 

Casey Griffin can often be found at comic conventions on her days off from her day job, driving 400 ton dump trucks in Northern Alberta, Canada. As a jack of all trades with a resume boasting registered nurse, English teacher, and photographer, books are her true passion. Casey is a 2012 Amazon Breakthrough Novel finalist, and is currently busy writing every moment she can.

 

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

 

Hope you enjoyed it!

+ J.M.J.

~ Kester

 

 

The Taming of the Dudebro, Volume 1 Paperback Cover Reveal!

Today I’m helping reveal the paperback cover for The Taming of the Dudebro, Volume 1, a YA/NA hybrid contemporary romance retelling the classic comedies of Shakespeare, by Jane Watson. This paperback includes the first two books of the series, The Taming of the Dudebro and A Midsummer Night’s Dudebro. It releases from Snowy Wings Publishing on April 18—the same day as the ebook of A Midsummer Night’s Dudebro!

Title: The Taming of the Dudebro, Volume 1
Author: Jane Watson
Release Date: April 18, 2017
Publisher: Snowy Wings Publishing

This special paperback bind-up includes the first two books of the series, The Taming of the Dudebro and A Midsummer Night’s Dudebro!

In The Taming of the Dudebro, Patricia’s dream is coming true: she is directing her own play, a one-act written by her best friend, Grizz, for the school’s annual Drama Festival. Everything seems to be perfect until her teacher assigns Kurt Minola, the biggest jerk in the school, to work on her play. Kurt is lazy, selfish and irresponsible. The only good thing about him is his attractive twin brother, Ben—but even he can’t seem to change Kurt’s attitude. Kurt’s presence turns Patricia’s dream into a nightmare… until Patricia and Grizz decide to take matters into their own hands, and subject this insufferable surfer-dude to some taming.

Then, in A Midsummer Night’s Dudebro, with the theater festival behind her and graduation around the corner, Grizz Sheridan figured she was done with Kurt Minola. She wants to focus on spending time with her friends and enjoying her last summer before she goes off to college. No such luck now that Kurt’s crushing on her best friend (and his twin brother’s girlfriend), Patricia. It seems like he’s glued to her side no matter where she goes—class, parties, even Prom.

Grizz thinks her luck is changing when she begins working at Merry Mule Coffee Roasters and meets super hottie, Dimitri. That is, until a certain surfer boy starts working there, too—and suddenly seems to have turned his romantic interests elsewhere…

Will Grizz survive the summer?

Add The Taming of the Dudebro, Volume 1 on Goodreads!

Learn more about Jane Watson at her website, janewatsonauthor.com, or visit her on social media: Twitter: @janewatauthor, Instagram: @janewatsonauthor

 

So here’s the cover!!!

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To be or not to be…

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That is the question?

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Go wisely and slowly…

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Those who rush stumble and fall.

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Are you tired of these Shakespeare quotes?

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So am I… I can’t find anymore good ones!

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So here it is!

A Taming

Cover designed by Key of Heart Designs

These Ruthless Deeds Blog Tour: Review of These Vicious Masks (Which is Really Awesome!)

Hi guys! I am so glad that I am a part of a blog tour for one of my most anticipated releases of 2017! Below you can find my review of These Vicious Masks and why it is so awesome that I have such high expectations for These Ruthless Deeds! I hope you enjoy!



These Ruthless Deeds
Kelly Zekas, Tarun Shanker
(These Vicious Masks #2)
Published by: Swoon Reads
Publication date: March 14th 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal, Young Adult

England, 1883. Still recovering from a devastating loss, Evelyn is determined to use her powers to save other gifted people from those who would harm them. But when her rescue of a young telekinetic girl goes terribly wrong, Evelyn finds herself indebted to a secret society devoted to recruiting and protecting people like Evelyn and her friends.

As she follows the Society’s orders, healing the sick and embarking on perilous recruitment missions, Evelyn sees her problems disappear. Her reputation is repaired, her friends are provided for, and her parents are newly wealthy. She reunites with the dashing Mr. Kent and recovers the reclusive Mr. Braddock (who has much less to brood over now that the Society can help him to control his dangerous power). But Evelyn can’t help fearing the Society is more sinister than it appears…

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo

These Vicious Masks
Kelly Zekas, Tarun Shanker

(These Vicious Masks #1)
Published by: Swoon Reads
Publication date: March 14th 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal, Young Adult

England, 1882. Evelyn is bored with society and its expectations. So when her beloved sister, Rose, mysteriously vanishes, she ignores her parents and travels to London to find her, accompanied by the dashing Mr. Kent. But they’re not the only ones looking for Rose. The reclusive, young gentleman Sebastian Braddock is also searching for her, claiming that both sisters have special healing powers. Evelyn is convinced that Sebastian must be mad, until she discovers that his strange tales of extraordinary people are true—and that her sister is in graver danger than she feared.

Author Bio:

Tarun and Kelly met in a freshman year writing class at NYU and started writing These Vicious Masks a few years later.

Tarun is a writer living in Los Angeles whose idea of paradise consists of kung-fu movies, David Bowie and chai tea. Since completing his first horrible screenplay in high school, he’s written everything from one-act plays and film criticism to humor pieces and strongly-worded emails. He’s also magnetized, crushed and burned the hard drive where that first screenplay can be found.

Kelly is a writer and actor living in NYC. YA is her absolute favorite thing on earth other than cupcakes and she has spent many hours crying over fictional deaths. She also started reading Harlequin romances at a possibly too early age (12?), and still loves a good paperback romance.

Links (Tarun):

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

Links (Kelly):

Website / Goodreads / Twitter

My Review of These Vicious Masks

DISCLAIMER: I received a free electronic copy of this book from Xpresso Book Tours and Swoon Reads in exchange for an honest review. This will not affect my review in any way.

Rating: 11/10 stars

Overall Thoughts: I think I found a new favorite of all time! These Vicious Masks is such an amazing book. I read it all in two days- TWO DAYS!!! I finished 80%, the equivalent of 240 pages, in a single day. I devoured it so fast yet I savored each page. I am in love with this book! I really did not expect the book to be this good! It was such a pleasant surprise, and I love it so so so much!

Characters: I love the characters! I have not found a set of characters that are so lovable! The wit and dry humor and sarcasm of Evelyn and Mr. Braddock is hilarious! I mean, I laughed a lot whenever they try to say something witty or sarcastic. I find Mr. Kent to be like me a lot! He would create a complicated explanation for something simple and be like “No. I just did this and it worked!” Readers will definitely fall in love with the characters! Since the book is pitched as Jane Austen meets X-Men, the group that tries to find Rose is definitely a dream team!

Plot: This book has a lot of action, and it is really fast-paced. There’s so much suspense and thrill that is embedded in the storyline that the reader will get hooked from the beginning. I enjoyed the story from start to finish; from the suspicion arising at the beginning to the shocking revelations towards the middle and the end, I literally could not put the book down.

Some Details: I got lost in just a few pages since I couldn’t grasp certain details, but this did not stop me. It was so minor that I was like “It’s no big deal.” I still love this book! Yes, I had to re-read one or two sections, but the action-packed plot balanced it off. There’s so many great things about this book that greatly outweighs the weaknesses.

My Review in a Nutshell: I want to read These Ruthless Deeds so much right now!!! Why can’t I get a Netgalley account so I could read TRD??? I am really looking forward to continuing Evelyn’s story! TRD is now on my most anticipated reads of 2017! These Vicious Masks is definitely one of my favorite books of all time! It was so amazing, and the authors definitely exceeded my expectations!

Recommendation: I recommend this book 100%! And go get These Ruthless Deeds if you can!

Convinced? Now go enter the giveaway!

GIVEAWAY!

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Hope you enjoyed! Have a great day!

+ J.M.J.

~ Kester

Interview + GIVEAWAY with Bryan Pentelow

‘Ello gov’na! (I just love British accents!!!) Today’s special guest hails all the way across the Atlantic and lives in the United Kingdom! We are so glad to have Bryan Pentelow with us today! He is giving out TWO e-copies of his newest book Sprocket and the Heart of the North this week, and we want you to win them! Go check out the interview below and be sure to enter the giveaway below!

Bryan Pentelow

1. In your own words, what is your book Sprocket and the Heart of the North about? 51CtZm7Rp2L._AC_US160_

As with all the Sprocket Sagas, this one is a fight between good and evil. Which wins? Read it and find out. 

The North of England was a centre of glass making in the past and in my history, the furnaces were fired by dragons. Then a desperate sorcerer needing powerful magic to save his own land steals the Heart of the North, kills its maker and casts an evil spell to cover his dark deeds. A counter spell is conjured to contain the evil but how long can it last. Can dogs, dragons and humans find the lost Heart of the North before the Creeping Dark destroys the Great Northern Forest and lays waste to their homes? What is Dragon Glass and what makes it so special? Is the young glass blower from Manchester a descendant of the maker of the Heart of the North? What is hidden on a dusty top shelf in the store room of the Glass Museum in Malaga Spain? There is so much to learn, so many questions to answer and so little time for our heroes to unravel the clues and twists of history and legend. Join the hunt for the Heart and follow the trail where ever it leads, but don’t linger on the way or you may be consumed by the CREEPING DARK.

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

I have a life long fight with the English language, having very wobbly spelling and a tenuous grasp on grammar. As a result of this, I wrote as little as possible till the advent of word processing packages then at least I could correct some of my shortcomings. I have been a copywriter for mail order catalogues which broadened my vocabulary when trying to find yet another different way to describe several almost identical products. As part of my sales and marketing career, I had to make presentations and give them. This disciplined me to write logical timelines and produce impact at beginning and end. Try Public speaking some time, it’s a great way to improve your writing and bring an understanding of the difference between written and spoken language. At some time I would love to give poetry a serious try but I find the restriction of very few and precise words beyond me most of the time.

3. Who are your favourite authors, and which ones have had an impact on you? Who has affected your writing style the most?

The list is endless and it is very hard to pull out my favourite authors, but I will do my best not to write a book and bore you to death. Terry Pratchett and his Disc World books have given me immense joy over the years and great sorrow at his recent death. The vast imagination and joyous humour of his stories are beyond compare. My second choice is Neal Asher. He writes science fiction which explores the relationship between humans and artificial intelligence which could be hard work if his storylines and action packed plots didn’t drag the reader along at a breakneck pace. Steve McHugh is my third choice with his masterly interweaving of history, legend and the present day. Mix together magic, gods of every pantheon and a thrilling fast paced story line and you are in for a fast ride. Recently I have come across to new, independent authors who have gripped my reading. E.M. Swift-Hook who is currently producing the second trilogy in her fascinating story of the clash of medieval and sci-fi societies is a writer well worth getting to know. Her books are full of strong characters with plots that have more twists than a coil spring. The second is Robert Lee Beers. His books centre on a hard-bitten private eye whose cases cross the boundaries of time and the supernatural to give a fascinating insight into the ways of crime and evil. As all these writers have a number of books to their names, whichever one you pick you will have plenty to go at. 

4. What are your favourite genres to read and write? What are your favourite books?

I have a fairly catholic taste in reading material. My only must have is a good story line. I cannot bear are the sort of classic novels filled with dithering characters with too much money and time who fritter away their time on pointless trivia. I love Science fiction and fantasy both to read and write for the freedom to follow ideas to logical or illogical conclusions usually without getting locked up or causing wars or riots. I like military history as long as it’s not too packed with statistics and facts that they slow down the story. I read this, I don’t write it as I’m much too lazy to do the copious amounts of research necessary to get the facts straight. I have listed above some of my favourites but here I would include ant of Bernard Cornwell’s books particularly the Lords of the North series and the Sharpe series. Staying in the Napoleonic era I would also recommend any of Alexander Kent’s Bolitho books about the Royal Navy of that period. He can write a sea battle like no other and leave you wondering how any sailor survived the shot, shell and flying splinters. Just to show that I do read books by authors who are not British, I would include most of David Baldacci’s fiction books all of which are real page turners.

5. What do you do when you’re not writing? Is writing a part-time or full-time job?10391697_105921086085058_4141656_n

I read. I am lucky enough to be retired so can usually find time to keep my, to read list, from getting too long. I have always loved reading as a method of learning and visiting new places and ideas. As a child, I went through many torch batteries while reading under the bed covers after official lights out time. Since I became a writer and discovered how much a review means to an author I also try to write a review of the books I read and would encourage everyone to do the same. It doesn’t have to be lengthy or erudite, just a few lines to say what you liked or what could be improved are of real value. My other great pleasure is listening to the radio. I know its old fashioned but the special effects have always been much better than television and the scenery always coincides with my ideas of what things look like. 

6. Who is your favourite character from your Sprocket Sagas?

It has to be Mrs. Mumbly. She is an English Bull Terrier and is the toughest dog you could imagine. If you are unfamiliar with the breed then look them up on Google. They are short haired, bullet-headed with pointed ears and whippy tails. They look very fierce but if you offer a hard dog biscuit and a scratch between the ears you will have a friend for life. These dogs are totally loyal to their friends and will defend their loved ones to the death. If you meet one, be a friend. Never cross the dog world’s answer to an armoured vehicle. 

7. How is it like living in Britain? What are some things you love about the United Kingdom? Do you guys drink a lot of tea there? (I had to ask!)

I love and hate the weather. In the same day, we can experience at least three seasons and need to change outfits to suit. I love the fact that the English, in particular, are not uptight about who we are. It makes me smile when our Celtic neighbours get wound up about the ‘Old Enemy’. Clinging to the past can have a very negative effect on a nation. 

Yes we do drink a lot of tea and are very choosy about what tea we drink and how we brew it. What most of Europe and most of America forget is that tea needs boiling water and that coffee machines do not get the water hot enough to make a good cup of tea. 

My other delight is the BBC. From an early age their Children’ Hours on the radio (now sadly no longer broadcast) fired my imagination and being able to watch a whole program without being interrupted by the banal drivel of adverts is a blessing afforded to very few.  51bgt51b3gL._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_

8. Your books feature dragons and take place in Dragon World! Would you like one as a pet, and why or why not?

Yes, I would like a dragon but not as a pet. My dragons are sentient beings, so keeping one as a pet would be like keeping a slave. I would love a dragon friend but most of them are too big for houses and their appearance would tend to terrify people. Also, they must be kept away from liquorice as it gives them hiccoughs and that combined with the ability to breathe fire or ice can lead to disaster. Having a Seeker Dragon as a friend would save a fortune in petrol and air fares as I could use portals as a means of getting about. One of my aims in life is to give dragons a better press. They have mostly played the villain in stories but that was because of humans being frightened of the unusual and our tendency to try to wipe out that which we find threatening.

9. What is a regular day of writing to you?

There isn’t a regular writing day for me. I am completely undisciplined and come and go to and from my laptop as the ideas hit me. I am something of a believer in Terry Pratchett’s theory that Ideas sleet through the multiverse till they collide with a mind and if you don’t write them down quickly they will move on to someone more receptive. In this way I drift from project to project sometimes working for long periods while the story line flows and at others, bumbling about in my shed or garden as ideas sleet past. Being retired and a self-published author I don’t have editors or publishers setting deadlines for me. What a marvellously unstructured existence I lead, at least till my grandchildren put the pressure on.

10. How do you combat writer’s block?

I’m lucky. It hasn’t been much of a problem for me but on the odd occasion when a story line gets stuck up a dead end, I go and do something else till bits drop into place then go back to where things started to go wrong and re-write from there. I am waiting for a breakthrough in the second Sci-Fi book to see if it will be one or two books but if I wait much longer then it is likely to be more fact than fiction.

11. Have you written any other works? What are your current plans for your writing career?P1020353

There are now six stories in the Sprocket sagas and my eldest granddaughter is putting the pressure on for another full-length book, a longer one as it only took her about a week to read the last one. 

I have also written a short Science Fiction book ‘Sea Change’ and am writing a much longer sequel. There is also a short story, ’A waste of Skin’ which I have yet to publish. As I am a member of a speaker’s club I will be writing a number of pieces for verbal presentation. Some of my past speeches have been put up on Niume and can be read there. Anything which is on that site with the exception of the serialisation of the first Sprocket book is free to download. Find me on Amazon to see all my books.

12. Do you have any tips to any aspiring authors or writers?

There is only one main tip and that is to write. Until you have written down your ideas you have nothing to work on. In this day and age it is easy to cut and paste a piece of work to put in additional material or to alter an idea which has run into a brick wall but until you have a basic story on the screen or page there is nothing to improve. So don’t waste time trying to come up with the perfect novel in your head, get on and write. 

Thank you so much, Bryan, for coming onto our blog!

Check out Bryan’s social media pages here!

Website | Amazon | Facebook | Goodreads

Here is the giveaway! We are giving away two Kindle e-copies of Sprocket and the Heart of the North! Enter the giveaway below! The rules are in the Terms & Conditions (make sure you read them!).

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Hope you have a wonderful week! And make sure you share! 🙂

+ J.M.J.

~ Kester