Book Review: The Changelings by Christina Soontornvat — An Imaginative Fantasy Retelling That Provided Me a Refuge from the Harshness of Life

Hi guys! Last semester, I met the amazing Christina Soontornvat at the Southeastern Young Adult Book Festival when I asked David Arnold (who I met for the second time) for a picture! We talked a bit and she was so kind and even gave me a copy of her debut novel The Changelings to read. If you haven’t seen it in the #kidlit world, Christina is going to write a nonfiction book depicting the cave rescue of the Thai cave rescue, using her knowledge of STEM from her background in the field and her knowledge of Thai culture and geography since she is Thai herself. I am so happy and excited for her, and today I am reviewing her debut novel The Changelings, an MG fantasy! Hope you enjoy!

And if you want to check out my LILbooKtalk with Christina Soontornvat and K. E. Ormsbee on “Finding Your Narnia: Transporting Readers to Fantasy Worlds,” check it out here!


About the BookThe Changelings

Izzy’s family has just moved to the most boring town in the country. But as time goes on, strange things start to happen; odd piles of stones appear around Izzy’s house, and her little sister Hen comes home full of stories about the witch next door.

Then, Hen disappears into the woods. She’s been whisked away to the land of Faerie, and it’s up to Izzy to save her. Joined there by a band of outlaw Changelings, Izzy and her new friends set out on a joint search-and-rescue mission across this foreign land which is at turns alluringly magical and utterly terrifying.

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4 Stars

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

A great fantasy novel will provide me a special refuge from the outside world. I want to become immersed in the magic, the adventure, the characters, and the world-building to the point where I do not want to leave. Once I picked up The Changelings, I became dazzled and awestruck by the fantastical world of Faerie; and the story was brimming with action, adventure, magic, creatures, family, and friendship! The Changelings is an imaginative retelling based on a classic tale that will enchant and warm the welcome hearts of readers regardless of age. Faerie is a world that I didn’t want to leave, and I really want to revisit it in the sequel.

Continue reading “Book Review: The Changelings by Christina Soontornvat — An Imaginative Fantasy Retelling That Provided Me a Refuge from the Harshness of Life”

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Exclusive Guest Post by Bridget Hodder, MG Author of The Rat Prince, on “Why Fairy Tales? A Theory of Magic”

Hi guys! For the next few months, most of the authors I am going to have on the blog are going to Middle Grade authors. Although I am still going to be very active in the YA community, my heart has lodged itself deeper in MG fiction. I have met so many wonderful MG authors since the New Year has started, and readers of all ages should pick up their books. Today, Bridget Hodder is here to answer the question, “Why are fairy tales so popular?” Her answer: magic.


About the BookThe Rat Prince

AN ILA CHILDREN’S CHOICE LIST STARRED SELECTION

So, you think you know the tale of Cinderella? Think again!

The dashing Prince of the Rats–who’s in love with Cinderella–is changed into her coachman on the night of the big ball. Together, they’re about to turn the legend (and the evening) upside down on their way to a most unexpected happy ending!

A sparkling debut full of magic and adventure, from a fresh new voice in fairytale fiction.

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Bridget Hodder Header

Why Fairy Tales? A Theory of Magic

My debut novel, THE RAT PRINCE, is a re-imagining of the tale of Cinderella. When I appear at author festivals, give workshops, or visit schools, readers almost always ask me: Why are fairy tales still so popular?

It’s a great question!

What is the reason why people have loved this particular type of story for hundreds of years? Clearly, stories couldn’t stand the test of centuries unless they appealed to something universal inside us. So maybe the real question is: what’s universal about fairy tales?

Continue reading “Exclusive Guest Post by Bridget Hodder, MG Author of The Rat Prince, on “Why Fairy Tales? A Theory of Magic””

Exclusive Interview with Merrie DeStefano, Author of Fairytale Christmas

Hi guys! I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend! I know I did, especially since I had five days without any school. Now officially it is the Christmas season! Woo hoo! To celebrate Christmas coming upon us so soon, I am inviting Merrie Destefano, author of multiple YA novels–including Lost GirlsFathom, and A Dark and Twisted Heart–to talk about her latest book Fairytale Christmas. I am so glad I was able to talk to Merrie after the YA Halloween Book Bash a few weeks ago, and I fortunately won a copy of this gorgeous book! I hope you enjoy this interview!


About Fairytale ChristmasFairytale Christmas

“Three thousand years ago, a war began between the immortals and the mortals. It’s a war that continues to this day…

Before history began, a legendary queen battled a foreign army, braved the death of her husband, and faced betrayal at the hand of someone she trusted. This is the story of Eire, Queen of the Faeries, the Immortal One, and the leader of the Tuatha de Danann.

To this day, her homeland, Ireland, bears her name, and this is the story of the war that drove the Immortal Ones into exile. It’s also the tale of how she found help from an unexpected place, leading her to a love like she had never known before.

Fairytale Christmas is a story that spans thousands of years. It’s also the beginning of all of our fairytales and legends; it’s where mortals and immortals survive because they love one another, proving that love is the greatest gift of all.

This is the first installment in the Saga of the Fair Folk, a journey that lasts until the end of time.”

Fairytale Christmas is releasing from Ruby Slippers Press on December 4th!

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Merrie

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

First, thank you very much for inviting me here today, Kester! I sincerely appreciate it. Now to answer your questions: Writing is my way of escape. I started writing when I was fairly young; I focused on it pretty heavily in junior high, abandoned it for awhile, but started it up again when I was about 22 years old. I’ve always struggled between art and writing, trying to balance them, but one has almost always won and overshadowed the other. I studied Fine Art in college, and I worked as a graphic designer/illustrator for many years. But I honestly think that today I’m a much better writer than artist.

Fairytale Christmas2. Your latest book Fairytale Christmas is releasing from Ruby Slippers Press on December 4th, and it tells the tale of Eire—the Queen of the Faeries—as she fights in a war that led to the exile of her people. Since this book is set in Ireland, were there any parts that were inspired by Celtic mythology? What are some of your favorite Celtic myths or legends?

I was absolutely inspired by both Celtic legends and Irish history. I went back to the original legends, so not that many people are familiar with them, which surprised me. The Tuatha de Danann were most likely a real tribe of people who lived in Ireland and may have been more advanced than the people who lived there before them—hence the legends that the Tuatha de Danann were gods. I wrote another book based on Celtic legends too: Fathom. That time, I wrote about Selkie legends.

3. Have you ever had the chance to visit Ireland? If so, what were some of your fondest memories and places you’ve been to? If not, where would you like to go?

Sadly, no, I’ve never been there! I’d love to go though. I don’t care which part I got to see. In my mind, every inch of it is gorgeous.

4. What are some of your favorite traditions that you and your family celebrate for Christmas?Lost Girls

I’m currently living a sugar-free life, but before that every Christmas had to have fudge and lots of it! I have a handful of Christmas movies that I need to see every year. They include The Bishop’s Wife, Christmas in Connecticut, Home Alone, and While You Were Sleeping.

5. Who or what would you say sparked your passion for reading and writing?

I think I was inspired by the SciFi/Fantasy books I read as a teenager. Anything can happen in a book like that. I love to be surprised and to go somewhere I’ve never been.

6. As a veteran author with ten novels and three art books under your belt, how has your writing process evolved from your first book to your current book?

I’ve learned to accept my process, which at best is chaotic. I no longer criticize myself for not outlining or for hitting a blank wall or for throwing out thousands of words. If that’s what it takes to get to the heart of my story, then that’s what it takes.

7. For over 20 years, you’ve worked in the publishing industry as a writer, editor, publicist, photo shoot director, jacket copy designer, and more. How has your background helped you as an author today? What are some of the most valuable lessons about publishing, marketing, editing, and writing that has greatly impacted you over the years?

FathomIt has all helped me because I’ve learned to look at a book or a story from every angle. I love that there are so many aspects to a good book, from cover copy to blurb to cover design to the actual story itself. Every part of it is crucial. Also, working as an editor has taught me to read my own writing with a critical eye. It helps me to see the flaws in my characters and my stories.

8. Out of all the books you have written, which one was the hardest for you to write, and how did you overcome your challenges?

Feast was definitely the hardest. First, I hit a wall half-way through the book and started over. Much later, I read those pages and saw that they were very good. I just didn’t know where to take the story next. In the end, that book was written and rewritten and rewritten. It was written in first POV, then third. It went from about 12 POVs to 5. It kind of drove me nuts! And it all came from my own inability to fall asleep. Hence, I created creatures that steal our dreams—you know those dreams you can’t remember when you wake up? Those were stolen.

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

I prefer SciFi/Fantasy and mystery. As a teenager I adored the classic writers: H.G. Wells, Ray Bradbury, Robert Heinlein, Tolkien. Now I love Holly Black, Laini Taylor, and Michael Connelly. Books like Pines, Doll Bones, and Lips Touch Three Times are like poetry to me.

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

I also work as a magazine editor for Victorian Homes magazine, Haunted: Myths and Legends magazine, and Zombies magazine. So that is my ‘day job.’ I also love designing book covers, but only for myself. Writing is one of those things that I can’t stop, but it is not an 8-hour-a-day job.

11. What can we expect from you in the future? Could you give us any secrets about your upcoming works?A Dark and Twisted Heart

Well, I have a great YA SciFi series coming from Entangled in 2019. I don’t know the date yet, but whoa, is it a good story and the characters are amazing. I can’t wait to get a cover for the first book, because I want to show it to everyone. In my self-publishing, I have a sequel coming to Fairytale Christmas in early 2018 called Wolf Haven. I’m almost done with the third story in my Dark Heart Chronicles. I also have a YA Post Apoc novella series starting soon—I really love that one too. It’s called the Outrunner Series.

12. Do you have any special advice or tips for any aspiring authors or writers who are currently reading this interview?

Don’t give up. Really, just don’t. It may take awhile to get published or you might publish your first book fairly quickly. But every story and every book that you write will help you to improve your craft. Learn from your mistakes, grow and study writing like the fine art that it is. Read a lot! And don’t just read books in the genre you’re writing. Read everything.

Thanks so much, Merrie, for coming onto the blog! It’s so great having you!


About the AuthorMerrie Destefano

CURRENTLY A FULL-TIME NOVELIST and magazine editor, Merrie Destefano’s next novel, LOST GIRLS, releases on January 3, 2017. Her other novels include AFTERLIFE and FEAST, both published by HarperCollins, and FATHOM, which was self-published. The editor of Victorian Homes magazine, she has also been the editor of American Farmhouse Style, Vintage Gardens, and Zombies magazine, and was the founding editor of Cottages & Bungalows magazine.

With 20 years experience in publishing, she worked for a variety of publishing/broadcasting companies that include Focus on the Family, The Word For Today, and PJS Publications (now Primedia). Besides editing and writing, her background includes print buying, writing/producing radio promos, directing photo shoots, developing new products, writing jacket copy for books, creating sales media packets and organizing direct mail campaigns.

Born in the Midwest, she currently lives in Southern California with her husband, two German shepherds, a Siamese cat and the occasional wandering possum. Her favorite hobbies are reading speculative fiction and watching old Star Trek episodes, and her incurable addiction is writing. She loves to camp in the mountains, walk on the beach, watch old movies, listen to alternative music—although rarely all at the same time.

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Buy her books on Amazon!

Fairytale Christmas Lost Girls A Dark and Twisted Heart Fathom


Happy Reading!

+ J.M.J.

~ Kester

Are you excited for Fairytale Christmas? Have you read any of Merrie’s books?

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

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E-ARC Review: Ballad of the the Beanstalk by Amy McNulty – An Interesting Prequel for Jack and the Beanstalk

Hi guys! I got another review for you, and today’s book is Ballad of the the Beanstalk by Amy McNulty! Now first, I want to make a few announcements.

  1. We have an Instagram now, which is going to be 100% controlled by Cayli. Go follow us @LILbooKlovers (and make sure you also follow our Twitter where you can find my latest ramblings about stuff). She’s going to provide some pretty photos and updates there, so you don’t want to miss it!
  2. I am suspending Weekly Quote-Flection for the summer because I have so many author guests on the blog from Summer of Authors and I’m limiting myself to post 2-3 times a week (Monday, Friday, and Sunday). I know, I did one, and I stopped. But by then, I’ll have a ton of quotes to pick from and write about once the school year’s here!

Hope you enjoy the review!


About the BookBallad and the Beanstalk

As her fingers move across the strings of her family’s heirloom harp, sixteen-year-old Clarion can forget. She doesn’t dwell on the recent passing of her beloved father or the fact that her mother has just sold everything they owned, including that very same instrument that gives Clarion life. She doesn’t think about how her friends treat her like a feeble, brittle thing to be protected. She doesn’t worry about how to tell the elegant Elena, her best friend and first love, that she doesn’t want to be her sweetheart anymore. She becomes the melody and loses herself in the song.

When Mack, a lord’s dashing young son, rides into town so his father and Elena’s can arrange a marriage between the two youth, Clarion finds herself falling in love with a boy for the first time. Drawn to Clarion’s music, Mack puts Clarion and Elena’s relationship to the test, but he soon vanishes by climbing up a giant beanstalk that only Clarion has seen. When even the town witch won’t help, Clarion is determined to rescue Mack herself and prove once and for all that she doesn’t need protecting. But while she fancied herself a savior, she couldn’t have imagined the enormous world of danger that awaits her in the kingdom of the clouds.

A prequel to the fairy tale Jack and the Beanstalk that reveals the true story behind the magical singing harp.



Disclaimer: I received a free electronic ARC of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Overall Thoughts: I really liked the premise of the book. How did the Harp in Jack and the Beanstalk get there? It was a very interesting and unique “prequel” to Jack and the Beanstalk, and I finished it in two days. It was a quick read that keeps you hooked from the beginning! I stayed up one night just to finish the book, and I couldn’t put it down until the end. I remember I was reading another book as I was starting this one, and I was like “I just want to read this one.” Now was this a 4- or 5-star book for me? Not really; I didn’t like it and I wasn’t as emotionally connected to it as I wanted, but fairy tale lovers will like this book!

Continue reading “E-ARC Review: Ballad of the the Beanstalk by Amy McNulty – An Interesting Prequel for Jack and the Beanstalk”