The Alchemists of Loom Read Along Bonus Content!: Timeline of Events Leading up to and in TAoL

Hello guys! I am currently a part of my first EVER read along, and we are reading Elise Kova’s The Alchemists of Loom, which is pretty good so far! In our read-along group, we are reading a couple of chapters a day, discussing the book, and winning some giveaways (well I haven’t yet, but I hope to)! If you want to check out our group, then click here for the Facebook group!

May taol Read Along.jpg


If you are part of the read-along, here is today’s bonus content! I have today the timeline of the events that led up to and are in The Alchemists of Loom! History, woo hoo! If you’re a history buff like me, especially about historical, dystopian, or fantastic worlds, then you’ll like this!

Timeline

Author’s Note from Elise:

One of the first things I do when developing a new world is work on the calendar. Once I have that, I can begin my timeline. A lot of my world building comes from asking questions of “Why?” For example… “Why do they think this way?” “Why do they wear that?” “Why do they do that?” The answers to many of these cultural questions come from the history of the world and its peoples. Because of this, a timeline is one of the other initial things I develop while building a world. This is a timeline of some major events (not all! You’ll find out more in THE DRAGONS OF NOVA) leading up to and throughout THE ALCHEMISTS OF LOOM.

Kester’s Note:

If you want to know how the time and dates work for the world of Loom and Nova, then check out The Bookish Crypt’s post here!


About the Bookperf5.500x8.500.indd

Title: The Alchemists of Loom (Loom Saga, #1)

Publication Date: January 10th, 2017

Publisher: Keymaster Press

Author: Elise Kova

Genre(s): Adult (YA Crossover), High-Fantasy, Steampunk

Summary: Her vengeance. His vision.

Ari lost everything she once loved when the Five Guilds’ resistance fell to the Dragon King. Now, she uses her unparalleled gift for clockwork machinery in tandem with notoriously unscrupulous morals to contribute to a thriving underground organ market. There isn’t a place on Loom that is secure from the engineer turned thief, and her magical talents are sold to the highest bidder as long as the job defies their Dragon oppressors.

Cvareh would do anything to see his sister usurp the Dragon King and sit on the throne. His family’s house has endured the shame of being the lowest rung in the Dragons’ society for far too long. The Alchemist Guild, down on Loom, may just hold the key to putting his kin in power, if Cvareh can get to them before the Dragon King’s assassins.

When Ari stumbles upon a wounded Cvareh, she sees an opportunity to slaughter an enemy and make a profit off his corpse. But the Dragon sees an opportunity to navigate Loom with the best person to get him where he wants to go.

He offers her the one thing Ari can’t refuse: A wish of her greatest desire, if she brings him to the Alchemists of Loom.

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About the Author72b96-square-headshot-1

Elise Kova has always had a profound love of fantastical worlds. Somehow, she managed to focus on the real world long enough to graduate with a Master’s in Business Administration before crawling back under her favorite writing blanket to conceptualize her next magic system. She currently lives in St. Petersburg, Florida, and when she is not writing can be found playing video games, watching anime, or talking with readers on social media. She is the USA Today bestselling author of the Air Awakens Series as well as the upcoming Loom Saga (Keymaster, 2017).

Follow Elise Kova on Goodreads

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There’s also a giveaway going on for a signed copy of The Alchemists of Loom, so go enter!

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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!

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Exclusive Interview with J. M. Sullivan!

Hi guys! Today, I have with me another wonderful author whose debut book just released last Tuesday! Please give a warm welcome to J. M. Sullivan, author of Alice: The Wanderland Chronicles, a dark retelling of Lewis Carroll’s original novel Alice in Wonderland.


About Alice: The Wanderland ChroniclesAlice Cover Edit

“Always protect your queen.”

Ever since the outbreak of the Plague, life hasn’t been easy, and for seventeen-year-old Alice Carroll, it just got worse. Her sister, Dinah, has contracted the ‘un-deadly’ Momerath Virus and without a cure, will soon be worse than dead. She’ll be momerath.

Alice must leave the safety of the Sector and venture into Momerath Territory to find the antidote – if it exists. Chasing a rumor about a mysterious doctor with the cure, Alice falls down the rabbit hole into Wanderland, where ravenous momerath aren’t the only danger lurking.



J. M. Sullivan

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

I have always loved writing. My mom used to read to me all the time when I was little, so I remember growing up with a love of stories and literature. As I got older and realized that I could be the one who told the stories, I started making up my own. Thankfully, my writing has improved dramatically since my first stories about princes and princesses!

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

I love fantasy books. Probably not surprisingly, retellings are some of my absolute favorites. I love being able to escape into a new world that still has a sense of familiarity to it. The one that impacted me the most is easily Ella Enchanted, by Gail Carson Levine. Not only is it the first retelling I ever read, it was also the very first book I ever picked out for myself at a book store. I absolutely fell in love with the way Levine wove her characters and worldbuilding together to create this magical story that slowly unveiled itself to be a reimagining of Cinderella! I remember being so surprised and happy all at the same time when I found out my beloved Ella of Frell was actually Cinderella! It is the same feeling I want my readers to have when they read my work.JM Sullivan - small

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

As AMAZING as it would be unfortunately writing isn’t my full-time job (yet). To pay the bills, I follow one of my other passions, which is teaching! During the week, you’re most likely to find me in a classroom teaching sixth graders about the wonderful world of Science! Since I’m so busy, in my free time, I really just enjoy spending time at home. My kids and I have dance parties and baking adventures; or as a family we binge-watch movies. It may not be the most exciting stuff in the world, but it’s the little things in life. 😉

4. Why did you choose Alice in Wonderland as the inspiration for Alice: The Wanderland Chronicles? What about Lewis Carroll’s novel attracted you to make a retelling of it?

Actually, Alice chose me! I didn’t even have plans to write a retelling until the idea for Alice smacked me like a ton of bricks! It was only after I started writing the retelling that I realized how much I LOVED working with the genre, and now I’m not sure I ever see myself leaving!

5. Who is your favorite character from Alice in Wonderland and why? Which character would you like to meet in person?Alice Cover Edit

Well, my favorite character from Wonderland is also my favorite parallel in Wanderland. I’ve always loved the Cheshire Cat for his attitude and the way he exasperates Alice. His character was always just so fascinating to me, which I tried to carry over into the character of Chess in Wanderland. While he’s definitely not the exact same Cheshire Carroll created, some of his traits mimicked his namesake and helped shape him into the fabulously snarky and endearing character Alice knows and (secretly) loves.

6. Alice: The Wanderland Chronicles is a dark YA fantasy retelling of Lewis Carroll’s novel. What were some of the challenges as you were trying to put a new spin onto an old tale?

Since I write retellings, there’s always this fear that I am going to incredibly disappoint the fans of the original. It comes with the genre, though. You’re working with stories that people have grown up on and have cherished memories of. Even though you’re creating a new, re-imagined version, you still have a responsibility to it’s integrity, and it’s intimidating!

7. Why do you believe that it is important for an author to connect with readers, bloggers, reviewers, fellow authors, and other book enthusiasts? What is your favorite part about chatting with people all around the world?

It’s important because I think that they are some of the coolest people that you will ever meet! Don’t get me wrong—I love my non-bookish family and friends too, but sometimes they just don’t ‘get’ it. And since writing is SUCH a huge part of my life, having the people who understand how important the writing things are (like WIPs, OTPs, Beta Readers, and all the other writerly/book jargon terms lol) without me having to translate or having people who I can fangirl with completes that huge part of me. So THANK YOU GUYS from the bottom of my heart!

8. How is it like living in the United Arab Emirates? If I were to go visit there as a tourist soon, what would you recommend me to do?

I love it here! Actually, it’s really funny because it reminds me a lot of home. I grew up in Arizona, so moving from one desert to another, the climate is actually really similar. The one major difference is that beaches are SO MUCH closer here, which I adore! I would definitely recommend if you come, you have to visit both Dubai and Abu Dhabi. They are about an hour and a half away from each other, but they are both so different! They both have awesome beaches and great malls so either way, you can’t go wrong! If you like a little more excitement, Abu Dhabi has Ferrari World, which has the world’s fastest roller coaster; or Yas Waterword, which is a huge water park. In Dubai, you can go see the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, and definitely check out the Dubai Mall while you’re there! I still don’t think I’ve visited all the stores and I’ve lived here for two years!!

9. If you could live out a fairy tale, which one would you choose and why? Which Disney princess would you be, and what makes you select her?

Hands down, the Little Mermaid. I’m still kind of upset that mermaids haven’t been discovered, although if they were, I suppose I’d be even more upset that I’m not one, so there’s that. I absolutely love the water and the ocean. In fact, once upon I time, I considered being a marine biologist! The sea is where my heart is, so if I could be ‘Part of that World,’ I totally would be.

10. What is your go-to cure when you experience a case of writer’s block?Alicestack

Writer’s Block is THE.WORST. I don’t know that I’ve found a cure, but for me, the best thing to do is just press on. Even if the words are terrible, getting them onto the page and pushing through the scene is the only way I can fight it off. There may be lots of head banging and whining, but I force myself to keep writing, otherwise the block kicks my butt.

11. What can we expect from you in the future? Could you give us any teasers or hints for what you are writing next?

Absolutely! I’m currently working on a new retelling project that I’m hoping will release early 2018. THE NEVERLAND TRANSMISSIONS (working title) is a SciFi retell of Peter set in outer space, told in a dual POV with Peter & Wendy. It’s with my betas right now, and I have to say, I’m pretty excited about it! I would LOVE to tease a bit, so here’s a little taste 😉

Wendy cleared her throat, schooling her voice into the formal tone she reserved for her superiors.

“Is there more to the transmission that I need to be aware of, Admiral?”

Toussant nodded. Though her lips pressed together, she seemed pleased with Wendy’s response. Another click of a button and the transmission continued.

“So far, the strangest phenomena of the planet is how it has affected our aging process. The days run longer here; as do the nights. I don’t have an exact calculation, but I would estimate we have been here for ten earth years, yet I look the same as I did the day we left. So does the twelve year old cabin boy. It’s as if not a single day has gone by. It is this phenomena that has inspired the name our crew has assigned the planet. We call it NEVERLAND.”

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

Be kind to yourself! We writers are SO HARD on ourselves, and it can absolutely derail a great project! Having an inner critic can be good to help stretch your work and yourself, but don’t give the nasty little guy so much reign that he completely derails you. Just remember, someone needs your words. To get them out there you have to write them!


JM Sullivan - small

About the Author

J.M. Sullivan is a Science Teacher by day, and an author by night. Although known to dabble in adulting, J.M. is a big kid at heart who still believes in true love, magic, and most of all, the power of coffee. If you would like to connect for a healthy dose of sparkle and positivity, you can find her on Twitter or Instagram @_JM_Sullivan.

Twitter | Instagram


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!

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Milestone Sunday + Give Us Your Questions for Our Blogoversary!

Hi guys! Happy Sunday! School’s out, graduation for the seniors is over, and summer is starting! Woop woop! So I’m going to make a special announcement about our summer plans soon, but in the meanwhile, we have two things we would like to say!200 followers

First, this week we achieved 200 WordPress followers! *pulls out confetti cannons* Thanks so much to everyone who has followed us throughout the past year! From the blog’s inception til January, we had a total of only 20 followers through email/Wordpress, but in the last 4 – 5 months we’ve reached 200 WordPress followers! We would just like to thank everyone who has supported us, and it has been a great honor to be blogging for such a wonderful YA community!

So since our blogoversary is coming up on May 28th, which was the date I created the first ever post! After seeing ChicNerdReads’s blogoversary Q&A post, I’ve decided to make this post open to your questions! Please comment below your questions about any of us, the blog, books, etc. and we’ll pick our favorite ones (depending on the number) and answer them! Sounds fun? Ask away!

We’re so looking forward to seeing your questions for our blogoversary post next Sunday, so you better not miss it! Thanks so much, and happy reading!

+ J.M.J.

~ Kester

Review: Blood Rose Rebellion by Rosalyn Eves – A Compelling Combination of Fantasy and History

Hi guys! Yesterday was my last day of school, so I’m officially free! Sweet, sweet freedom! To celebrate the start of my summer vacation, I have here my newest review for Blood Rose Rebellion by Rosalyn Eves. Let me tell you why I wanted to read it: Magic + 1847 Hungary. I mean, this is basically trying to get me to like the fantasy genre even more since it takes place in Austria-Hungary! Now here’s my review!


About Blood Rose Rebellion31020402

The thrilling first book in a YA fantasy trilogy for fans of Red Queen. In a world where social prestige derives from a trifecta of blood, money, and magic, one girl has the ability to break the spell that holds the social order in place.

Sixteen-year-old Anna Arden is barred from society by a defect of blood. Though her family is part of the Luminate, powerful users of magic, she is Barren, unable to perform the simplest spells. Anna would do anything to belong. But her fate takes another course when, after inadvertently breaking her sister’s debutante spell—an important chance for a highborn young woman to show her prowess with magic—Anna finds herself exiled to her family’s once powerful but now crumbling native Hungary.

Her life might well be over.

In Hungary, Anna discovers that nothing is quite as it seems. Not the people around her, from her aloof cousin Noémi to the fierce and handsome Romani Gábor. Not the society she’s known all her life, for discontent with the Luminate is sweeping the land. And not her lack of magic. Isolated from the only world she cares about, Anna still can’t seem to stop herself from breaking spells.

As rebellion spreads across the region, Anna’s unique ability becomes the catalyst everyone is seeking. In the company of nobles, revolutionaries, and Romanies, Anna must choose: deny her unique power and cling to the life she’s always wanted, or embrace her ability and change that world forever.


A 4 Star

Disclaimer: I received a free hardcover copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review. I have also received swag from the author in a separate giveaway. These will not affect my review.

Overall Thoughts: Blood Rose Rebellion has been one of my most anticipated reads of 2017! When I saw that they were giving away free copies of this book in exchange for a review on Blogging for Books, I immediately jumped onto the offer. Let me say, this book did not disappoint! I loved how it infused both 1847 Hungary (which now has a special place in my heart because I loved the culture in the book) and fantastic magic! I definitely enjoyed reading it, and I couldn’t put it down at times! The strongest aspect of this book is the world-building, which is fascinating to think about! It definitely is a compelling combination of fantasy and history.

Magic and Fantasy: I am really fascinated with the magical society in the book! Fantasy is honestly not my type of genre, but this book definitely made me love the genre more. In the book, the Luminates control most of the magic in Europe, and there are four “classes” of them: Animanti, Lucifera, Coremancers, and Elementalists. I just love how the characters harness this magic and how it incorporates itself into this alternate world of Europe. I became really fascinated with the world of the Binding, the Luminate society, and the race to weaken the Circle. The author definitely crafted the fantastical side well!

(By the way, I took Rosalyn Eves’s quiz and I am an Elementalist, so I would control inanimate objects like light and other stuff!)

History and Hungary: Setting Blood Rose Rebellion in 1847 Hungary was a great move by the author. I love learning more about Hungary’s culture! What was really funny is that the day I finished this book, I played Czardas by Vittorio Monti at a concert. A csardas is a Hungarian country dance with a slow start and a fast ending. I really enjoyed reading the Hungarian phrases and supporting the Magyars for independence. The book was so well-researched and very enlightening about society in the early 1800s. Now I want to go to Hungary! I have a greater love for the country and the culture because of this book. In addition, incorporating the magical realm with the actual historical events makes the book even better! The Circle is actually the ruling class of Europe, from Queen Victoria of England to the Hapsburgs in the Austria Empire, which makes the whole “alternate world” very believable.

Some Minor Details: As much as I love this book, it’s not one of my favorites because it did not wow me like Caraval or These Vicious Masks. For example, Anna kisses her cousin Matyas (and I mean a romantic kiss) twice… and I’m a bit confused. Was this out of relationship romance or cousin-to-cousin love? There were no plot holes, but at times I focused on trying to finish the book rather than enjoy it. And there were times I tried to skim a bit- not a good idea. But it was still a very great book nonetheless!

Concluding Thoughts: Will I be on the lookout for Book 2? Yes! I can’t believe I found a historical fantasy that combines both a mesmerizing world of magic and actual historical events. This book sparked my new love for Hungary that I will hold dear in my heart right after Poland. I definitely recommend this for fantasy and historical fiction fans! It is a strong start for Eves’s upcoming trilogy that has a lot of potential for greatness.

Some of My Favorite Quotes: 

“People can be many things, not all of them expected.”

“Everyone feels that way who does not fit neatly into the role society gives them. But it doesn’t mean something is wrong with you, only that you are bigger than they can imagine.”

“You don’t wait for a moment; you create it.”

“We trap ourselves with bonds of our own making: duty, love, desire.”

“[Y]ou have always been meant for greater things. Let yourself be free. Be who God intended you to be.”


Hope you enjoyed it! Happy Reading!

+ J.M.J.

~ Kester

My Birthday Blog Post: My Reading Journey!

Hi guys! Guess what day it is? My birthday! Woo hoo! And that means a birthday book haul and the end of school… Oh my! As a special post for today, I’m going to tell you a little story about my love for reading. I’ll also give a special announcement at the end.

As an elementary school student, I was a big reader. I remember reading almost every single Magic Tree House and Hardy Boys book I could get my hands on. I kept on reading and reading and taking those AR tests to accumulate points.

AR stands for Accelerated Reading. It is a program where kids have to read books and later take quizzes on them. I read the entire Harry Potter series in 3rd to 5th grade and I could get 250 total points for all the books. Yes, the longer the book the more AR points you can get. That’s why The Order of the Phoenix would be like 50 points.

But as 4th and 5th grade progressed, I was pushed more to read higher level books. I couldn’t read books like the Hunger Games because they were so low level. I could only read 5th grade or higher, and there weren’t that many books that interested me. I couldn’t find myself reading Young Adult because nothing piqued my interest.

And that kind of ruined reading for me. It was like I was restricted with what I could read. The lowest books I could choose were Encyclopedia Brown and that was pretty much it. In middle school, I dropped the act. From reading 30 or 40 books a year, I only touched 5 to 10. Instead of reading, I would be playing video games or watching TV. (Now video games feel like a waste of time for me.)

I was stuck trying to read The Diary of Anne Frank (which I honestly didn’t like… I’m sorry for my unpopular opinion!) and being restricted to only the first book in the Among the Hidden series. I also tried to read during the summer, but it took me almost a month and a half to finish the entire 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, which could now take me a week or two.

In 8th grade, I started finding books I liked. I’m going to tell you about Mr. Harris, who is a great teacher. One of the best English teachers you’ll ever find! He introduced me to The Giver (an amazing book but I don’t plan on finishing the Quartet) and Night by Elie Wiesel (very chilling). The books we read in his class were the first sticks in the fire. I also got to read 1984 on my own and I loved it so much that I even turned it into a speech team prose piece. (Sadly, I didn’t break…)

But I attribute the first “turning point” in my reading career to be the Infinity Ring series. Time travel and history? I had to read it. It was the first series that I finished, and it took me only a month to get through all the books. Yes, I admit they were short, but I couldn’t put them down. I remember traveling to World War II in a furniture store with Jennifer A. Nielsen’s Behind Enemy Lines. I did not want it to end.

I gave myself the challenge of reading the entire Maze Runner series, which took me the entire summer but it was worth. At that time, it was hard for me to read fast. Books would take me months at a time.

Soon, as I got to high school, my librarian Mrs. Mason introduced me to reading. After finishing the Kill Order I asked her some recommendations because I wanted to try reading out. The first book that made me go “Hey reading different books is fun” was Wicked Appetite by Janet Evanovich. Ever since, I always had a book with me.

The books that got me into Young Adult were The Islands at the End of the World duology by Austin Aslan. I remember looking at it and going “It looks so interesting but it looks too long!” At that time, I just wanted to read short books. I decided to try it out, and boy, I was blown away! I could not stop reading and reading. (Now Austin and I are friends, and you can check out his interview here!)

I finally reached the peak of my reading struggles and everything was downhill from there! In Winter of 2016, I went through a memoir phase. In Spring 2016, I got more into YA with These Gentle Wounds, Mosquitoland, and Between Shades of Gray (sadly I didn’t go to SE-YA that year and meet Ruta Sepetys… I will meet her one day!). Then I made my blog with my friend Lilly and launched our first post on May 28th, which is our blog-aversary! Then I surprised myself with reading a total of 64 books last year, which was unprecedented for me.

Now I read mainly YA with the occasional adult book. I’m super thankful for my love of reading because it has helped me connect more with the world around me, fellow readers and bloggers, and amazing authors! Books have opened up opportunities I never thought would be possible, such as this book or book festivals. 

 

The special announcement is the Summer of Authors! Throughout the summer, we will have over a dozen authors come onto the blog with amazing interviews, giveaways, and guest posts you don’t want to miss! I’m going to explain more in my blogoversary post on the 28th, but I won’t give away any secrets…

But it starts off this Monday with J. M. Sullivan, author of Alice: The Wanderland Chronicles, which just released yesterday! Go grab it if you have the chance!

So that’s it for my birthday post. I might post my haul soon, so be on the lookout! 😉


Happy Reading!

+ J.M.J.

~ Kester

(P.S. And I will be doing my best to do a quote of the week! It’s just been really hard lately, but I will try to get to one! 😉 )

Exclusive Interview + GIVEAWAY with Abby J. Reed

Hi guys! Life update: school is going to end in three more days for me! Three more days! I can taste that sweet, sweet freedom now! In the meantime, I am trying to get as much read in the month of May and I’m catching up on all of my reviews! Now, I have a special guest for you today: Abby J. Reed, author of When Planets Fall. I just finished reading it a week ago and it was great! Definitely enter the giveaway below!


About the Book30801623

Breaker’s home is cleaved by blood. The three tribes on the planet Scarlatti, whose only difference is their blood color, each want to exploit Breaker’s valley for themselves. The feudal tension has already claimed red-blood Breaker’s leg and his older brother. Now all this 18-year old wants is to maintain the tenuous peace in order to keep his little ‘stroid of a brother alive. Malani, a red-blood raised blue, is a kidnapped POW and only wants to return to her adoptive home with her dangerous blue secrets. Luka, a red-blood stewing for trouble, wants to right wrongs done to his family and bathe his home in justice.

All three intersect when Breaker discovers a wrecked starship and is given seven days by the green-bloods to fix and hand it over as a weapon. Breaker must decide if aiding his enemies is worth the home he knows and his family’s life. War is coming. And war respects no boundaries. And war leaves no survivors.


Abby J. Reed

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

I love writing because it’s my way of giving back to the world. I can’t volunteer at events. I can’t cook meals for all my friends who are baby-ing. Right now, I can’t even donate tons of money to help (enter your chosen endangered species). But I can make the world a little more beautiful by telling a story. I can give in this way—by creating art.

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

Most recently, Robin Hobb’s THE ASSASIN’S APPRENTICE really impacted me. I loved how the main character Fitz could’ve totally been “the chosen/special/talented one” . . . but wasn’t. I loved how he became magically disabled and never recovered (some may say it’s not a disability, but I will argue for forever that it is). And yet—he still did his job and did it well. Those are the type of characters I want to create, the one’s who keep going no matter what.

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

Writing is “technically” my full-time job. However, with the whole Chronic Migraine thing—it ends up being a part-time job. I spend the majority of my time managing my disorder, then when I can, I write! But I also love painting. Painting uses different creative muscles and it doesn’t aggravate my head, so I spend a lot of time in my little studio.

4. Your debut book When Planets Fall takes place on the fictional planet of Scarlatti, which is home to three feuding tribes. What was your process to world-build the geography, demographics, society, and culture of Scarlatti and its inhabitants?30801623

I strongly believe a person is heavily influenced by their world, language, culture, everything. I spent a long time researching and nailing down a lot of these details as I began fleshing out characters and writing the first draft. After I have a “poop” draft and knew where the story is going, that’s when I really pour in and make sure the world building is sound and complete.

5. Why do you believe it is important to incorporate characters with chronic illnesses and disabilities inside YA fiction? Since you yourself have Chronic Migraine, which is a neurological disorder, is there anything in the book that has been inspired by your own experiences?

Breaker, Malani, and Luka are all disabled because at the time I was writing—I was beginning to drown in my own disability. I handled the pain well for years. But eventually, you run into a wall. I couldn’t handle Chronic Migraine without more help—I switched doctors, I switched medications, I was seeing a counselor and pain management specialist, and I realized I had a lot of emotions about my disability. WHEN PLANETS FALL became my outlet for these emotions—Breaker’s emotions about his amputation are probably the closest to my own, though Luka has a lesser severity of my disorder.

If they could have this and keep going, then maybe so could I. Writing them gave me hope.

That’s why I think chronic illness and disability should be included more in YA lit. Because all of us need that hope.

6. Which tribe- each based on the blood colors of red, green, and blue- would you want to be and why?

I’d pick Human, red, just because that’s what I already am. There’s pros and cons to each. No tribe is perfect and each have their high points and hidden flaws.

7. Science Fiction or Fantasy: You could only pick one! I know you love to write about both, but which genre as a reader and writer would you choose and why?

Ugggghhhh. Why do you do this to me??? I CAN’T PICK. Ooo. I know. Science-fantasy. Ha. Now I can have both.

8. How is it like being a debut author? What is one thing you wish someone told you before you started writing and publishing?

AbbyI really like being a debut author. I love meeting people and being able to connect and chat about books.

Another author told me recently—she does as much editing as she possibly can before she sells the book. But once she sells, she consideres the book done. I really wish I had heard that attitude before selling. That would’ve helped me manage the stress of deadlines for my health better!

9. Your book is told from three protagonists’ perspectives: Breaker, Malani, and Luka. Which character POV was your favorite to write? Whose POV gave you the most challenges?

Honestly, I loved all of them as I wrote. I was having serious OMG I LOVE YOU BE MINE FOREVER crushes on each. But Luka’s story was the hardest. I re-wrote his storyline probably 3 times before it finally clicked. His depth really surprised me.

10. Do you have any writing habits?

Habits don’t work well with Chronic Migraine. What works today will 98% not work tomorrow. The only habit I can really maintain is during drafting. Whenever I do sit down to write, my minimum goal is 1,000 words, no matter the pain. Everything else depends on the day!

11. Since When Planets Fall is the first book in the Stars Fall Circle series, is there anything you could tell us about the sequel? Could you give us some secrets?

Tahnya will have a POV! And . . . somebody new . . . .(wink wink). Also—I’m a huge believer in consequences. So, actions in book 1 will have repercussions in book 2. Plus, there will be a couple payoff scenes I’m eagerly waiting for :DDD

12. Do you have any tips or advice you would like to give to any aspiring authors or writers?

I’m constantly telling this to myself: you are not your work. If your work sucks, that doesn’t mean you suck. If you’re work is awesome, that doesn’t mean you’re awesome. There’s more to life to you, to me, then just writing.

Thanks so much, Abby, for doing this interview! I love your answers! 🙂


About the AuthorAbby

Abby J. Reed writes young adult science fiction and fantasy novels that ask what if. She has a degree in English Writing and is drawn to characters with physical limitations due to her own neurological disorder called Chronic Migraine. Her debut novel, When Planets Fall, will be published in April 2017 by Soul Mate Publishing.

Abby lives in Colorado with her husband and two fluffy pups. If her hands aren’t on the keyboard, they are stained purple and blue with paint. Find her online at www.abbyjreed.com


Now here’s our giveaway!!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Rules are the same as always! Go enter! You don’t want to miss it!


Happy Reading!

+ J.M.J.

~ Kester

 

Sunday Discussion: Giveaway Accounts

Hello guys! Today has been such a great Sunday! And Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there! Thank you so much for doing one of the hardest jobs on Earth, yet one of the most important ones. Be sure to give your mom a hug or a phone call or a kiss or a hi or a THANK YOU today!

Instead of a quote-flection of the week, I’m opening up a discussion question I feel like I need to talk about: giveaway accounts. Should you let people with giveaway accounts enter your giveaway? This includes Rafflecopter, Gleam, Twitter, Instagram, etc. giveaways. This isn’t that big of an issue, but I wanted to talk about it because sometimes it annoys me.

What is a giveaway account? A giveaway account is an account on Twitter or Instagram that is devoted to only entering giveaways. You can easily tell because 100% of the tweets or posts are “I just entered a giveaway!” Most of the Tweets aren’t even book-related! I’ve seen ones to win beauty prize packs, Amazon gift cards, toys, etc. Some say they’re “bloggers” and “youtubers” but they never provide a link in their bios or talk about those things.

This issue arose up when I held a giveaway by one of my good author friends. Anyway, I got a whole influx of followers and entrants on our giveaway, and we reached over 100, maybe even 200 entries on our Rafflecopter. When I checked those entries later, 90% of them were from giveaway accounts! And there were many people who “cheated”! One girl never even followed me or followed the author, yet entered through the Twitter methods. There were so many people that abused the Facebook page method that I remove it!

We talked and we were both worried that these people may illegally redistribute files or resell them. I didn’t want the book and swag to go to somebody who just wanted to win something. I saw one Twitter giveaway account recently about winning a toy, and I’m going “Did you win that for your child, your collection, or someone else? Or did you just want it?” It’s scary to know if your prize is going into the hands of someone who might not mind it at all.

Yes, I do enter and win giveaways where I haven’t read the book or don’t think I will in the future. But at least it’s going into the collection of a book lover! I’m guilty of tsundoku (acquiring books without reading them) sometimes, but I like to look at the spines or the covers. They’re being added to a collection! Sometimes, I enter giveaways to gain a book so I can trade it or give it to someone in the future. Other times, I just enter to see if I’ll win. I’m getting better at selecting which giveaways to enter now. I’m starting to adopt a “If you’re not interested then don’t enter so someone who is can win it” policy.

But sometimes I don’t exactly trust these accounts. If I were to see that a librarian won my giveaway or a blogger did, I would know that it’s going into someone who might read it. I know there are many giveaway accounts who actually want to read the book, but I can’t know that for sure! If you give a PDF file to one of these accounts, who’s to say they might not send it to their friends? They might resell it for their own gain? I want these books to go into hands of people who will want them, who will put them on a shelf, who will look at it, and who will read it.

So I’m opening up this discussion down in the comments. What do you think of giveaway accounts? Should they enter these giveaways? Why or why not?

I really want to discuss this with readers, bloggers, and authors, so please give your insight below!

Happy Reading!

+ J.M.J.

~ Kester

Review: A Time to Speak by Nadine Brandes – Never Wanted the Book to End!

Hi guys! The end of school is nigh, and these last few weeks have been very hectic. I’m also very behind on reviews, so I’m trying my best to catch up! I need to adopt a better policy… How do you guys juggle reading and reviewing? I probably should review right after I read since I have a few books that it’s been over a month or two since I’ve finished it. Anyways, here’s another review of a new favorite book that I hope you will consider reading!


About A Time to Speak (Out of Time #2)24466484

What happens when you live longer than you wanted to?

Parvin Blackwater wanted to die, but now she’s being called to be a leader. The only problem is, no one wants to follow.

The Council is using Jude’s Clock-matching invention to force “new-and-improved” Clocks on the public. Those who can’t afford one are packed into boxcars like cattle and used for the Council’s purposes. Parvin and Solomon team up to rescue the people. Instead, they find themselves on a cargo ship of Radicals headed out to sea. What will the Council do to them? And why are people suddenly dying before their Clocks have zeroed-out?


A 5 Star

Disclaimer: I received a free electronic copy of this book from the author in exchange for a review. I have also received swag, and I am a part of the author’s street team. These will not affect my review.

Overall Thoughts: Just to start things off, I did not like the first book in the Out of Time series, A Time to Die. I was trying to rush the book since it was so long and it made me dislike the author’s writing style. I became very confused on what was going on, so this made me a bit hesitant about reading this. But let me say this, I am amazed by this book. Now I know why the Street Team geeks out about the series: this book right here. Let me tell you, it exceeded its predecessor in so many ways that I didn’t mind it was over 8000 on MOBI! You know that C. S. Lewis quote “There’s never a cup of tea or a book too big for me” or something like that? This is the first time I have read a book that I didn’t want to end. 

Story Development: This may seem like a long book, but it’s the right length for it because there’s so much that goes on. The author develops that plot so well that you can see ever clearly the progression of many of the characters, from Parvin becoming more brave an dependent on God to some unlikely people supporting her. I could not get enough of this book. Seriously, I loved how it panned out! I did not mind Parvin traveled all around the Western Hemisphere on her mission; in fact, I loved it. Nothing felt out of place. A Time to Speak was like a huge, soft blanket that has no holes and you just want to snuggle in it for a long time. There’s literally nothing wrong with this book plotwise!

Characters: Oh my goodness, I love this cast of characters so much! Now I want some of those character magnetic bookmarks because they are amazing! I love Parvin’s POV, and her relationship with Solomon. I really want Angelique (or Frenchie) to go home to France, and I still like Madame, too! Even characters that you would want to hate- like the Milkman (whose real name is Caprine), Dusten, and Kaphtor- you might end up rooting for at the end. The characters are so different yet they soon unite over a common cause and it’s so great!

Just Perfect! and Concluding Thoughts: I have nothing against this book at all. It’s really now one of my favorite books now because it was that amazing! I can finally fanboy over the series because I loved this novel a lot. I am so looking forward to finishing the series with A Time to Rise! Oh, I need to know what happens next! As a proud Ninja, I definitely recommend this book to you! You will not regret it! It definitely helped me shape my thinking, that I should live each day to the fullest, for I do not know when my last one will come.

On of My Favorite Quotes: “The promise of uncertainty changes how I live. It urges me to live . . . more, as if the very seconds prior to every sunset will be my last. That‘s the way it’s supposed to be.”


So I hoped you enjoyed that review! Happy Reading!

+ J.M.J.

~ Kester

Release Day Blitz: When Planets Fall by Abby J. Reed

Hi guys! I am so excited that WHEN PLANETS FALL by Abby J. Reed is available now and that I get to share the news! I am actually in the middle of writing my review for Abby’s book, so be on the lookout for that!

If you haven’t yet heard about this wonderful book by Author Abby J. Reed, be sure to check out all the details below. This blitz also includes a giveaway for a finished copy of the book and swag, US Only, courtesy of Abby and Rockstar Book Tours. So if you’d like a chance to win, enter in the Rafflecopter at the bottom of this post.

WHEN PLANETS FALL RDB.jpg


About the Book:30801623

Title: WHEN PLANETS FALL (Stars Fall Circle #1)
Author: Abby J. Reed
Pub. Date: May 10, 2017
Publisher: Soul Mate Publishing
Pages: 420
Formats: Paperback, eBook
Find it: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, TBD, Goodreads

On a planet where the only difference between three tribes is their blood color, war is on the horizon. Breaker, an amputee, wants peace for his family and home. Malani, a kidnapped POW, wants to return home. Luka wants justice for his home. All three teens come together when Breaker is given seven days to fix a wrecked enemy starship or their home, and peace, is forfeit..

“In this richly imagined start to a new sci-fi series, Reed brings optimism to the goal of solving entrenched violence in a galaxy far, far away . . . A propulsive, sharply crafted tale about a planetary war.” -Kirkus Reviews

Excerpt:

I cupped my hands around my mouth. “Brody! Brody!”

Nobody was allowed to break boundary unless you were on hunting rounds and wanted a shot at the deercorns—three-horns, good meat—or on boundary duty. The land between here and the Heron Mountains in the west was technically neutral territory and belonged to no one. Too many good game trails passed through and everyone needed good protein. You’d think this meant a peace card for any who marched through the area. Then a handful of cycles back, attacks started becoming more frequent. Now, neutral territory meant open hunting season on everyone.

And if you were in trouble . . . the compound wouldn’t help.

I couldn’t leave him out there. I had to go over the fence. Beyond the compound’s boundary.

I was going to murder that kid.

The tree branches on the opposite side created a tunnel. Ravines on either side had been dug deep for a grave ditch in case of a future blood bath. Water filled them now. No need to waste time or tears while shoveling, just dump the bodies in the pre-dug ditch. Time and pain in the past saved time and pain in the future.

I set my foot on the lowest rail. The wood jiggled. Bangit. I couldn’t climb over the stupid thing. I pocketed the pick, got back on my bike, reversed, and aimed it at the fence. Even though the bike ran on solatech energy, the magnetic polarity of mineral deposits in the ground kept it afloat. In theory, the bike should pass right over the fence, since the fence wasn’t quite solid, so the bike would never lose complete contact with the ground.

I revved the bike. A surge of solaenergy sent me flying toward the fence. I shoved on the handles right before I hit the broken rail, bouncing and soaring right over the fence. The bike didn’t even bounce on the ground on the other side.

My chest tightened a notch.

I just broke boundary.

I hadn’t broke boundary in eight cycles.

I swear there was still a faint smell of cinnamon, though the gun smoke couldn’t have hung in the air this long. Lining the ravine were the twelve gravecrosses. Rainwater ran like thinned-out blood off the names carved into the bars. The letters were slowly being erased by weather and time, as though the people were being slowly erased from our memory until they never existed.


About Abby:Abby

Abby J. Reed writes young adult science fiction and fantasy novels that ask what if. She has a degree in English Writing and is drawn to characters with physical limitations due to her own neurological disorder called Chronic Migraine. Her debut novel, WHEN PLANETS FALL, will be published in April 2017 by Soul Mate Publishing.

Abby lives in Colorado with her husband and two fluffy pups. If her hands aren’t on the keyboard, they are stained purple and blue with paint.

Website | Facebook | Twitter |Pinterest | Instagram | Tumblr |  Goodreads


Giveaway Details:

1 winner will receive a finished copy of WHEN PLANETS FALL & Swag, US Only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Don’t forget we still have a giveaway for Kym Brunner’s Flip the Bird which you can enter here!

Happy Reading!

+ J.M.J.

~ Kester

 

Exclusive Interview + Giveaway with Kym Brunner!

To all you Star Wars fans, May the Fourth be with you! Today is also National Bird Day, which brings us to today’s special guest: Kym Brunner! Kym wrote a book called Flip the Bird (yes, there is a secret pun… please see question 5 for that answer… the bird is named Flip), and to celebrate the upcoming “Be Kind to Animals” week and International Bird Migratory Day on May 14th, she is giving away a copy of Flip the Bird! Woo hoo! Here’s a special interview I conducted with her after I saw her at SE-YA (I’ve made a lot of author friends there).


Kym Brunner

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

I’ve always loved reading, but it wasn’t until my thirties that I thought, “Hmm…maybe I could write a book.” I bought a book called “How to Write a Book For Dummies,” and that was all the permission I needed to go ahead and try writing a book too. Found out I absolutely loved it and an obsession was born.

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

I love reading––PB through adult novels––but mostly I read YA and New York Times bestsellers. Growing up I was really into Stephen King because there wasn’t a true young adult category. I suppose that’s why I love suspenseful books so much. As far as writing style, I can only say that I write the way I think and talk, so I don’t model myself after any particular author. But when I first started writing, I was reading a lot of Meg Cabot, Carolyn Mackler, Laurie Halse Anderson, and John Green. Fingers crossed that I picked up a few tips vicariously through reading their books.

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

I always tell my husband that I have two full-time jobs… teaching 7th graders and writing novels. When I’m not teaching or grading papers, I’m writing or thinking about writing. I get up early and write before school, and then work for several hours after school on my novels. On weekends, I still get up early and write, sometimes all the way until dinner. Writing consumes me and I don’t even notice the time.

4. Your latest book Flip the Bird is targeted especially for middle grade to teenage boys. Why did you choose to write for this audience, and how would you respond to that “teenage boys don’t read”?

I didn’t choose the audience; the book chose me, so to speak. I took a falconry class at a raptor rehabilitation center after attending the Medieval Times dinner show, and the sport captivated me. I could easily have made the story a female apprentice, but having brothers myself, I could easily picture this being a dad-son sort of activity. As far as teen boys not reading, I can only shrug. I do think there are a lot of teen boys reading out there, but as a group, their interests might stray toward video games, girls, and sports for awhile. But I’m hoping they eventually come back to reading, and that they continue to make time to read when given a chance to relax. Reading novels not only expands your mind and gets you to consider other aspects of issues, but it’s very relaxing. Everyone needs down time without the noise and violence of a video game to collect their thoughts and think about what kind of person they want to be. Reading gives you lots of opportunities to explore who you are and who you will become as an adult.

5. What was the inspiration for the title of Flip the Bird? Is there a reason why Mercer chose to name his hawk “Flip”? (Is there a secret pun in the title?)

Definitely a secret pun in the title! The original title was (get ready to cringe)  “A Falcon’s Feather.” Yeah, so that is what we call “a working title,” something to put down at the top as a placeholder, but you can see it didn’t work at all. One day, we were laughing about someone flipping the bird to me in traffic, and I was like, “Bam! That’s it! He’ll name his hawk Flip!” Thus, it should probably be titled, “Flip, the Bird” with a comma. 🙂

6. Would you want to be a master falconer? Would you like to have a bird as a pet, and if so which one?

Maybe one day I’ll pursue being a falconer myself, but it is a huge time commitment and can be somewhat of a big expense if you do it correctly. I have had birds as pets before (cockatiels, umbrella cockatoo, green cheeked conure) and have loved them all. I also have several bird feeders right outside the window where I sit and write.WANTED - DEAD OR IN LOVE cover(3)

7. In one of your previous novels Wanted: Dead or In Love, the souls of the infamous Bonnie and Clyde start to take over the bodies of high school students Monroe and Jack. Did you have to do any research on the deadly duo to write this book? If so, what are some of the most interesting or surprising things you learned?

Boy, did I ever have to do research! Hours upon hours of reading books and watching documentaries. The thing that surprised me the most was that Clyde Barrow lived in the poorest part of Dallas during the Depression, so much of the stealing he did in the beginning was to survive and to help his family. I think his first arrest was for stealing a turkey, and another was for failing to return a rental car on time, both in his teens. Not making any excuses for him, but his first murder was a prison guard who had raped him daily during his year incarceration when he was only 17. After Clyde was released from prison, he followed the guard home and killed him.

8. You are currently serving as a 7th grade teacher along with your writing career. How would you instill a new love for books in a student who does not like reading at all?

I talk about how much I love books and have librarians come in and book talk the newest books a couple of times a year. No one likes to be told what to do, so I hope that my enthusiasm for certain books makes them curious enough to want to read it too.

9. Could you tell me some of the reasons why you think that Chicago is the “best city in the world”? If I were to go there (which I already have!), what are some activities or attractions you would recommend to a visitor?

Chicago is beautiful and filled with diverse, smart, talented people. It’s got every type of food you can imagine with a ton of pro sports teams and there’s just a cool vibe when you walk along the lakefront. I’d recommend trying foods from around the world at all of the ethnic restaurants we have, take a bike ride through Grant Park and Buckingham Fountain, visit the Art Institute, and catch a free symphony on Wednesday afternoons in the summer near the Bean! Of course you should go have a snack and a drink on the Signature Room on the 95th and 96th floors in the John Hancock (and you don’t have to pay to go to the 98th floor observation deck).

10. I am so glad I got to see you at the Southeastern Young Adult Book Festival in Murfreesboro, TN! What do you like most about being an author at book festivals? How was your experience at SE-YA?

SE-YA Fest was amaaaazing! I loved how many teens were bussed in for the day to attend the event! So fun to talk to a room full of eager readers that had the most hilarious questions for the authors. It was so well run and the campus where it was held was stunning. What I like most is being able to talk with teens about books, and especially happy when they’ve read my book and want to take a picture with me. Makes me feel so happy and proud.

11. Have you written any other works? What can we expect from you in the future?SmartCookie_Cover(1)

Always writing, always hoping the next book is picked up by an editor who loves it too. I’ve written a humorous MG sci-fi novel that my agent will be sending out to editors soon. My “WIP” (work-in-progress) has some “eco-fiction” elements in it the way Flip the Bird did, but this one also has a futuristic world and a suspense plot filled with lots of twists. Fingers crossed that all my books eventually land in the hands of readers.

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

Read, read, read…and write, write, write. Everything takes practice so you’ll have to write for awhile before you can critically read your own work. Join a critique group and have others read your stories and tell you what is working and what isn’t is the most valuable tip I can give you. Writing a book is hard work, but anyone can do it if they dedicate the time to making the pages sing. Best of luck and thanks for interviewing


About Flip the BirdFlipTheBirdCover

Mercer Buddie wants two things in this world: a girlfriend and the chance to prove to his master falconer father that he’s not a flake. With hunting season fast approaching, fourteen-year-old Mercer has only a short time to work with Flip, a red-tailed hawk he irreverently named to show his dad that falconers don’t have to be so serious all the time.


When Mercer meets Lucy, he falls hard for her gorgeous looks and bubbly personality. He thinks his love life is about to take flight, until he discovers that Lucy and her family belong to a fanatical animal-rights organization called HALT—a group that believes imposing any sort of restrictions on animals is a form of cruelty. Mercer soon realizes that if he wants to keep seeing Lucy, he’ll need to keep his love of falconry and his family’s raptor rehabilitation center a secret from her, and Lucy’s involvement with HALT from his family.


With humor and honesty, Mercer’s story shows how growing up means making diff
icult choices…and sometimes, being rewarded in unexpected ways.


About the Author

Kym Brunner dreams entire novels in her head, but needs about a year to write it all down.  She wishes there was an app for this. She’s addicted to chai tea, going to the movies, and reality TV. When she’s not reading or writing, Kym teaches 7th grade full time. Her article, Cracking Down on Multiple POVs:  Surrender and Nobody Gets Hurt, appeared in Writer’s Digest online (July, 2014). She is the author of the three YA novels listed below. She lives in the Chicago area with her family and her two trusty writing companions, a pair of Shih Tzus named Sophie and Kahlua. Keep in touch by following her on Facebook (Author Kym Brunner), Twitter (@KymBrunner), or at her website, http://www.kymbrunner.com.

Wanted: Dead or in Love, Merit Press, June, 2014
One Smart Cookie, Omnific Publishing, July, 2014
Flip the Bird, HMH Books for Young Readers (coming Nov. 1, 2016)

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Now onto the giveaway!
Please check out the rules and make sure you FOLLOW them!

Hope you enjoyed this interview! Happy Reading!

+ J.M.J.
~ Kester