Hi guys! Happy October!! Today is the first day of October, and that means Fall is in the air! Woo hoo! Today I am kicking off the blog tour for Beatrice Zinker, Upside Down Thinker: Incognito, an MG contemporary novel about a 3rd grader who loves all things spy-related. I’ve seen a lot of great things about it in the MG community, so I am very excited to share with y’all this a little more about the book!
About the Book
Title:Beatrice Zinker, Upside Down Thinker: Incognito
Author: Shelley Johannes
Pub. Date: September 18, 2018
Formats: Hardcover, Paperback, eBook, audiobook
Synopsis: In book two of the Beatrice Zinker series, Operation Upside is finally in full swing! But when Beatrice’s over-enthusiasm lands Mrs. Tamarack with a Strictest Certificate, the team has to scale back a bit.
Lying low is not exactly Beatrice’s strong suit, especially when she sees someone who desperately needs to be recognized. But when the certificate meant for him falls into the wrong hands, Beatrice and Lenny have to find a way to widen their circle once again to save Operation Upside, and themselves, from trouble.
Before becoming an author-illustrator, Shelley began her creative career with ten years in architecture—where she fell in love with felt-tip pens, tracing paper, and the greatness of black turtlenecks. She currently lives in Metro Detroit, Michigan with her husband and two sons.
Beatrice Zinker, Upside Down Thinker is the first book she’s written. She looks forward to more upside down adventures with Beatrice.
Hi guys! By this time, most schools should be starting school, which inspired the theme for this month’s LILbooKtalk about instilling a love of reading in students. Today’s guests include a middle school teacher and a librarian who not only frequently work with children but also write for them! Please welcome the amazing Rebecca Donnelly and Jake Burt as we discuss turning students into big readers!
About How to Stage a Catastrophe
Sidney plans to be the director of the Juicebox Theater when he grows up. For now, he handles the props, his best friend Folly works the concession stand, and his sister May hangs out in the spotlight. But the theater is in danger of closing, and the kids know they need a plan to save it and fast. When they join a local commerce club to earn money, Sid and Folly uncover some immoral business practices, and it gives them a great idea for saving the theater. That is, if you can call extortion a great idea. Hilarious and heartwarming, the mission to save a failing community theater unites a riotous cast of characters in this offbeat middle-grade novel.
From the author of Greetings from Witness Protection! comes another unforgettable middle-grade novel about friendship and family.
Devin wants to hit it big on the internet by pulling a stunt at an NBA game–one the entire nation will be watching. Addison can’t turn Devin down, but he can barely manage talking to his teachers without freezing up. How’s he supposed to handle the possibility of being a viral sensation?
Addi’s not sure why Devin is bent on pulling off this almost-impossible feat. Maybe it has something to do with Devin’s dad’s hospital bills. Maybe it all goes back to the Double-Barreled Monkey Bar Backflip of Doom. Or maybe it’s something else entirely. No matter what, though, it’s risky for both of them, and when the big day finally comes, Devin’s plan threatens more than just their friendship.
With memorable protagonists and a wonderful supporting cast, The Right Hook of Devin Velma is a one-of-kind knockout in middle-grade fiction.
The Right Hook of Devin Velma releases from Feiwel & Friends on September 25th! Pre-order it today!
Kester: The first author we have today is Rebecca Donnelly, author of the MG contemporary novel How to Stage a Catastrophe and her upcoming book The Friendship Lie. She also works at a public library in northern New York. Could you describe to us a little about you and your books?
Rebecca: Sure! I’ve worked in public libraries for about 12 years now in different roles, but being a children’s librarian is my favorite. It’s been great training for being a writer, since reading in your field is such an important part of both jobs. How to Stage a Catastrophe published in April 2017, and it was inspired by the time I spent as a middle schooler doing community theater. It’s about a group of kids who try, fail, and try again to save their community theater from closing down, going to great and scheming lengths to do so. The Friendship Lie is a quieter story about fifth grade friends who have fallen out with each other and are trying to find their way back to friendship, with the help of an old diary one of them finds. The Friendship Lie is set to publish August 2019. Both are with Capstone.
Kester: Both of your books sound awesome!!! I hope I’ll be able to read them one day! 🙂
Alongside Rebecca, we have Jake Burt, author of MG contemporary debut Greetings from Witness Protection! and The Right Hook of Devin Velma, which will release in just a few weeks. He is a fifth-grade teacher from Connecticut. Would you also like to tell us a bit about yourself and your novels?
Jake: Absolutely, Kester, and thanks for having us! Greetings From Witness Protection! debuted last October. It’s the story of Nicki Demere, a 13-year-old girl in foster care who gets recruited by the US marshals to join witness protection; their notion is that she’ll help hide a family by changing up their dynamic. The Right Hook of Devin Velma, out on September 4th, is about one boy’s quest to find out why his best friend punched him in the face. Both are MG contemporary, both are set in middle schools, and there are no vampires in either one. I’ve been told that’s an important distinction to make.
Kester: Thank you, Jake! It’s definitely my pleasure! And haha, that’s good to know about the vampires, especially since I’m about to start on Devin Velma soon!
Jake: Awesome. Can’t wait to hear what you think!
Kester: Thank you! Here’s my first question: Since both of you work frequently with young children and books, how do you promote reading and writing among your students? What do you when you encounter reluctant readers, and how do you turn them into avid bibliophiles?
Jake: Want me to take a swipe at this one first, Rebecca?
Rebecca: Sure, since our roles are a little different!
Jake: Cool. On it! I’ve found that the key to developing confident, invested readers is empowerment. Kids most frequently encounter books (at least, in the school setting) via gatekeepers, whether that’s me, our fantastic school librarians, or someone similar. While that can be a great way to introduce new books to a kid, there’s not a lot of efficacy on the part of the reader there, so students often come to me without a strong sense of how to find and, more importantly, enjoy their own books. So early in the year we work on developing an understanding of how to read for pleasure…it seems strange, but that’s actually a modelable and learnable skill. We talk about being able to quit a book if it’s not grabbing you, about comparing books, about discussing books with friends, and about the value of rereading old favorites. We talk about skipping ahead and watching the movie first and reading more than one book at a time – all the ways adults who have learned to love reading come at their TBR piles.
Rebecca: I love everything you’re saying here, Jake! I work in a public library, not in a school, so my work with kids is almost entirely around helping them find things they want to read. The piece I’m missing is having the ability to work with them in depth, the way a classroom teacher or school librarian is able to. When I visit schools, or when classes visit me in the library, I try to emphasize the importance of choice, and that browsing is a skill–modelable and learnable, as you say. It’s great to get recommendations from friends, but I love seeing a kid who has the time to browse the shelves and find something new on their own. That’s genuine empowerment! One of my goals is to work with my local school to help them build their community of readers, too!
Jake: That’s vital – the teamwork component. A network of adults, all of whom love books and reading, surrounding a child can do wonders, particularly as far as access is concerned. That’s often one of the first hurdles to developing a love for reading: just not having enough books to promote true choice. It helps so much when librarians can work with teachers and families to fill in gaps and expand availability.
Rebecca: Yes! I got a massive donation from Scholastic this last spring (1300 books) that I gave out to every kid 3-6 grade in three different local schools. I scoured my giveaway books to get enough to be able to give something to every kid pre-k to 2nd grade, as well. One thing we really strive for in public libraries is giving kids access to books over the summer, since their regular school library visits aren’t happening. I give away books as prizes for playing my summer reading Bingo game, when I do outreach visits, and every time I visit the local Head Start. Simply getting books to kids is a huge part of developing readers.
Kester: That’s so awesome to hear!! The work you’ve done is definitely commendable!!
I’m very curious about this, so what’s your stance on Accelerated Reader? I personally did not like it as an elementary student, but I would love to know your thoughts.
Rebecca: I’ve worked in a library where the local school district used AR, and it was incredibly frustrating to have to help kids find a book at “their level” that a) we owned and b) they were interested in. It seemed to be difficult for everyone, parents and children included.
Jake: We don’t use it in our classrooms, but I’ve taught at schools that did. Personally, I’ve never found much use for the data it provides…and that’s what it is, a data aggregation tool. It’s not designed to deepen understanding or enjoyment of reading. If a teacher or school was considering adopting it, I’d challenge them to ask themselves what they’re truly hoping to learn by collecting that data. Is it something they couldn’t get by having a meaningful 5-10 minute reader’s conference with a student?
Rebecca: Jake, you might know this better than I do, but isn’t there a quote from Fountas & Pinnell, who developed another leveling system, saying that reading levels have no place in reading assignments, book choice, or kids’ expectations of themselves?
Jake: Yes; we use the Fountas and Pinnell continuum for literacy instruction in our Lower School. They stress a genre-based approach (heavy on mentor texts and book discussions) rather than levels. It strikes me as a more authentic system, moreso now that I’ve seen things from the author side, too. I don’t write novels with any notion of what “level” it might be. If my character is the type of girl who would use the word “runcible,” she’s gonna say “runcible.” I’m not changing it to “spoon” so that it can fit cozily into a level. And I’ve certainly never gone to the library or bookstore as an adult thinking, “I’m fixing to snag me something at my level.”
Rebecca: Ha! Good point–we put all kinds of pressure & restrictions on kids that we would never put on ourselves, including what makes a “good” book.
Kester: I remember as an elementary student I felt very forced to read at a level higher than my grade… which knocked out many novels that I would have loved. There were so few books I could read that I eventually stopped reading a lot in middle school.
Rebecca: I’m so sorry! But obviously you were able to be a reader on your own terms, which gives every kid hope!
Jake: Yes, so glad you came back around to reading, Kester!
Hi guys! Today is the 1-year book birthday of Post-High School Reality Quest by Meg Eden, probably one of the most unique books you will ever read if you decide to pick it up. Well, today you have the opportunity not only to learn more about the story but also to win a copy of the book PLUS a narwhal mug and infuser. And you can’t say no to narwhals, can you? Enjoy!
About the Book
Buffy is playing a game. However, the game is her life, and there are no instructions or cheat codes on how to win.
After graduating high school, a voice called “the text parser” emerges in Buffy’s head, narrating her life as a classic text adventure game. Buffy figures this is just a manifestation of her shy, awkward, nerdy nature—until the voice doesn’t go away, and instead begins to dominate her thoughts, telling her how to life her life. Though Buffy tries to beat the game, crash it, and even restart it, it becomes clear that this game is not something she can simply “shut off” or beat without the text parser’s help.
While the text parser tries to give Buffy advice on how “to win the game,” Buffy decides to pursue her own game-plan: start over, make new friends, and win her long-time crush Tristan’s heart. But even when Buffy gets the guy of her dreams, the game doesn’t stop. In fact, it gets worse than she could’ve ever imagined: her crumbling group of friends fall apart, her roommate turns against her, and Buffy finds herself trying to survive in a game built off her greatest nightmares.
1. Why do you love writing? When did you first have a love for writing, and how was it formed?
I love writing because I’m compelled to do it, because it makes sense to me. It’s how I process, how I worship, how I communicate with the world around me. I started “writing” in middle school when my friends wrote poems because they thought it was “cool.” But over time, I found writing as something that was my own and personal, and when a teacher told me I was a good writer, that encouraged me to become even more serious about it. As I began to discover my ASD in college, I realized that there are times that it’s very hard for me to be verbal. I became overwhelmed and overstimulated, and my first response was to write. It helped me calm down, as well as to find a way to improve how I communicated with others.
2. What are your favorite books, genres, and authors? Which ones have impacted you and your writing style the most?
I really love magical realism. Some of my biggest inspirations have been Japanese writers and writers of Japanese magic realism, like Haruki Murakami, Yasunari Kawabata, Shuntaro Tanikawa and Kelly Luce, as well as Studio Ghibli films. I add in Studio Ghibli because I think those films really taught me the power of silence, the power of slowing down the pace and taking a moment to pause. There are moments in Ghibli films, in the anime aesthetic at large, where there’s no music, no action, just a selah, a haiku moment between the audience and the environment. Maybe zooming into a flower or a bug, or a panoramic nature shot. As someone who writes both poetry and prose, this has definitely informed what I focus on in a scene, a moment, what details I care about and how I pace them.
3. What do you do when you’re not writing? Is writing a part-time or full-time job?
I recently started working full time with the Association of Writers and Writing Programs, and teaching creative writing on the side. Before, I really just taught part-time, giving me more time to write. But I’m finding that right now, the full time job gives me a sense of urgency to want to make the time to write, while before I was procrastinating a bit…
4. Your YA debut novel Post-High School Reality Quest is not the average novel; in fact, it infuses the basics of the traditional storyline with the format of a text adventure game! What inspired you to write your book in the form of a text adventure? Could you describe to us both the benefits and the challenges of utilizing this idea?
So it started with a friend casually saying “you should write a novel in the form of a text adventure game.” I tried it on a whim one day and found out I actually really enjoyed doing it! The benefit is that it naturally created tension between two voices: the parser and Buffy (the player), so it was very fast and easy to draft. It allowed me to view the story from a different lens–so I had initially written a very crappy draft of a story about these nerdy friends who all played RPGs in Merrill’s basement and shenanigans ensued. But nothing really happened. So the text parser perspective allowed me to view everything in a new way, and give bones to the story. As for challenges, I think the biggest one was to convince people, “Hey–it’s in second person, but it’s OK!” Personally, I found it a blast to write, but it breaks one of the sacred writing classroom rules, so it can be hard to adjust to.
Hi guys! I hope you are all having a great Good Friday, and for Christians full of prayer and mediation. Today I’ll be a bit less active in the spirit of the day, and I’m eagerly awaiting Easter, the day that Christ has risen from the dead! When I got back from DECA SCDC a few weeks ago, I received in the mail a huge book called The Queens of Innis Lear by Tessa Gratton. I love fantasy, but I was very surprised by its massive size. I am so glad to be on the Blog Tour for this wonderful King Lear fantasy retelling, and I hope that you will check out Tessa’s latest novel!
About the Book
A kingdom at risk, a crown divided, a family drenched in blood.
The erratic decisions of a prophecy-obsessed king have drained Innis Lear of its wild magic, leaving behind a trail of barren crops and despondent subjects. Enemy nations circle the once-bountiful isle, sensing its growing vulnerability, hungry to control the ideal port for all trade routes.
The king’s three daughters—battle-hungry Gaela, master manipulator Reagan, and restrained, starblessed Elia—know the realm’s only chance of resurrection is to crown a new sovereign, proving a strong hand can resurrect magic and defend itself. But their father will not choose an heir until the longest night of the year, when prophecies align and a poison ritual can be enacted.
Refusing to leave their future in the hands of blind faith, the daughters of Innis Lear prepare for war—but regardless of who wins the crown, the shores of Innis will weep the blood of a house divided.
Disclaimer: Thanks so much to Tor and JeanBookNerd for sending me a hardcover copy of this book in exchange for an honest review for the blog tour. This will not affect my review in any way.
To be honest, when I first received this book, I felt overwhelmed by its massive size: 576 pages with the print smaller and packed tightly. I did not think at first I would be able to complete it by today. When I first started The Queens of Innis Lear, Part One went by very slowly. I thought to myself, “How will I be able to get through this tome at this pace?” and I read lighter books when I did not feel in the mood for an extremely dark adult fantasy. But as I went on, deeper and deeper into the storyline, I found myself not wanting to stop. I became entranced by all the bloodshed, the betrayal, and the magic, and everything started to play in my mind like a movie. Miraculously, I’m writing this book on the Sunday before this review/tour stop is supposed to go live, and I’m writing in a bit of a different style than I normally do.
The Queens of Innis Lear is a clever and imaginative epic fantasy retelling of Shakespeare’s King Lear with a Game of Thrones-esque atmosphere. I am not familiar with King Lear at all before reading this novel, so I decided to read the Wikipedia summary (gasp! though I highly recommend it before reading this book) of the play to get some background information. Gratton truly kept the essence of Shakespeare’s original work while adding her own fantasy elements and literary style, which created a beautiful and elegant masterpiece of prose and morality. I loved how names and events were very similar to the play’s (such as Elia = Cordelia, Regan = Regan, Gaela = Goneril, Elia/Cordelia is banished from Innis Lear/England, illegitimate Ban/Edmund devises a plan to exile his true-blood brother Rory/Edgar). The world-building of the entire novel just fascinated me, and I did not want to leave! All my questions about who’s who and what’s what became answered as I progressed further into the novel. I wish there was a map, though — that would make the reading experience even better!
Hi guys! This is my first ever post that is a stop for a scavenger hunt! I’ve participated in a few as a player, especially the biannual YASH, but I’ve never been a host until now! As a member of Mary Weber’s Street Team, the Mad Hatters, I am super excited to be welcoming you to the Scavenger Hunt Tour for Reclaiming Shilo Snow by Mary Weber, in collaboration with Thomas Nelson & Zondervan Fiction and JustRead Publicity Tours! By the way, my scavenger hunt clue word is hidden in the Q&A, but it’s bolded and purple!
ABOUT THE BOOK
Title: Reclaiming Shilo Snow
Series: Evaporation of Sofi Snow, Book 2
Author: Mary Weber
Publisher: Thomas Nelson Fiction
Release Date: March 6, 2018
Genre: Young Adult Sci-Fi/Fantasy
She was far more capable than Earth’s leaders had accounted for—and they had no idea what she’d do next.
Known as a brilliant mind that could hack humanity’s darkest secrets, seventeen-year-old Sofi Snow is the most wanted teenager alive. She found her way to the icy, technologically brilliant planet of Delon to find Shilo, the brother everyone but Sofi believes is dead.
But as she and Ambassador Miguel partner to find her brother and warn those on Earth of Delon’s dark designs on humanity, Sofi’s memories threaten to overtake her, distorting everything she holds true. She knows the Delonese kept her in a dark, deceptive place . . . and destroyed a portion of her life. Now, the more they discover of Sofi’s past, the more Sofi feels herself unraveling—as each new revelation has her questioning the very existence of reality.In this harrowing sequel to The Evaporation of Sofi Snow, Sofi and Miguel must trust each other and discover the secrets locked inside Sofi’s mind as the line between what’s real and what they imagine begins to slip away . . . threatening to take humanity with it.
Ever since the Delonese ice-planet arrived eleven years ago, Sofi’s dreams have been vivid. Alien. In a system where Earth’s corporations rule in place of governments and the humanoid race orbiting the moon are allies, her only constant has been her younger brother, Shilo. As an online gamer, Sofi battles behind the scenes of Earth’s Fantasy Fighting arena where Shilo is forced to compete in a mix of real and virtual blood sport. But when a bomb takes out a quarter of the arena, Sofi’s the only one who believes Shilo survived. She has dreams of him. And she’s convinced he’s been taken to the ice-planet.
Except no one but ambassadors are allowed there.
For Miguel, Earth’s charming young playboy, the games are of a different sort. As Ambassador to the Delonese, his career has been built on trading secrets and seduction. Until the Fantasy Fight’s bomb goes off. Now the tables have turned and he’s a target for blackmail. The game is simple: Help the blackmailers, or lose more than anyone can fathom, or Earth can afford.
The scavenger hunt word is hidden somewhere in this Q&A! It’s purple and bolded!
Hi there!! Thanks for having me on the blog!
1. Why do you love writing? When did you first have a love for writing, and how was it formed?
Okay, so here is my confession right off the bat – part of me always WANTED to write, but I considered myself rather horrible at it. Then about ten years ago, I went through this season where I just sort of hit pause on life. I distinctly remember feeling like I was missing a part of me. I even told my husband, “I know who I am as a wife, mother, youth counselor, etc…but I can’t find the other part of me.” During that time I began to write simply as a way to explore my soul and the beauty in others.
To be honest, I think that’s probably the reason I love writing so much – it feels a bit like a pause button in the midst of life’s busyness. One that allows us to take a step back, assess our thoughts, relationships, and perspectives on what we’re contributing to this world.
2. What are your favorite books, genres, and authors? Which ones have impacted you and your writing style the most?
AHHH I LOVE THIS QUESTION!! I think every book leaves a bit of itself in a reader’s soul, you know? Even years after we’ve moved on, we still owe aspects of who we are (as writers and humans) to those stories. For me, there are a bunch I could list (gah – I love them all)! However, a few that stand out are:
–THE SECRET GARDEN (This is the first book I remember being given. I read and reread it more times than I know, and I still own my copy.)
– WITHER by Destefano, & SHATTER ME by Mafi (Both were my first experiences with the type of gorgeous, first person narratives that are distinctive to YA and made me fall in love with it.)
– AGATHA CHRISTIE (My teen years were spent reading every mystery of hers.)
– DOSTOEVSKY (His ability in his stories to explore the depths of the human condition still astounds me, and it pushes me to dig deeper into my own stories.)
3. What do you do when you’re not writing? Is writing a part-time or full-time job?
Well…this is me.
And (like it is for most everyone else) life is pretty wild and busy these days.
I have three teens and a guy I’ve been married to for almost 20 years who is my best friend and anchor in life. (This is us.)
Writing and traveling to speak is definitely a full time job, but I also work part time as a youth counselor – which means I tend to fairly regularly have a houseful of teens sprawled throughout my kitchen and on the couches. I’m pretty sure I heard one of them recently refer to me as “Crazy, but sometimes wise,” so that should sum things up nicely for you. 😉 Outside of those, we live in California and love exploring the coast with our kids, hosting parties in our backyard under white lights, and slipping in time to read!
Hi guys! Happy Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday! Last year, I had the amazing chance to meet Shaila Patel at the Southeastern Young Adult Book Fest and read her wonderful YA debut romance Soulmated, which was one of the best books I have read in the Winter/Spring of 2018. As a proud member of her Street Team, I am so happy to present to you the cover for the long anticipated sequel Fighting Fate! It’s such a gorgeous cover, so check it out below!
Hi guys! Happy Labor Day everybody! Today I am finishing up my 5-day weekend from school, and (hopefully) I got a lot of things done. September is going to be a crazy month for me- it usually is one of the busiest throughout the year- but I am so glad to have an amazing lineup of authors this month! Please give a warm welcome to Nancy J. Cavanaugh, author of Elsie Mae Has Something to Say, which I reviewed a few weeks ago as an ARC! She’s also giving away a signed copy of her book, so please don’t miss that!
About Elsie Mae Has Something to Say
Elsie Mae is pretty sure this’ll be the best summer ever. She gets to explore the cool, quiet waters of the Okefenokee Swamp around her grandparents’ house with her new dog, Huck, and she’s written a letter to President Roosevelt that she’s confident will save the swamp from a shipping company and make her a major hometown hero. Then, news reaches Elsie Mae of some hog bandits stealing from swamper families, and she sees another opportunity to make her family proud while waiting to hear back from the White House.
But when her cousin Henry James, who dreams of one day becoming a traveling preacher like his daddy, shows up and just about ruins her investigation with his “Hallelujahs,” Elsie Mae will learn the hard way what it really means to be a hero.
My Writing Process for Elsie Mae Has Something to Say
So excited to be stopping by to do a guest post on Lilbooklovers! I’m thankful for the opportunity to share a bit about my process in writing my most recent book, Elsie Mae Has Something to Say.
My basic formula for writing this particular book was to take one cup of inspiration, combine it with many cups of research, fold in a couple of cups of personal experience, then simmer and stir into a pot of creative imagination for about twenty years to yield one middle grade historical novel.
Hi guys! Man, I only have two weeks until school starts! I can’t believe Summer’s already gone by that fast! At least I have a ton of posts scheduled for now! But today, I am so glad to have Kasie West here on the blog! Here’s my review and interview for Lucky in Love, which is my first Kasie West book!
About the Book
Title:Lucky in Love
Author: Kasie West
Release Date: July 25th, 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Synopsis: In this new contemporary from YA star Kasie West, a girl who wins the lottery learns that money can cause more problems than it solves, especially when love comes into the picture.
Maddie doesn’t believe in luck. She’s all about hard work and planning ahead. But one night, on a whim, she buys a lottery ticket. And then, to her astonishment —
In a flash, Maddie’s life is unrecognizable. No more stressing about college scholarships. Suddenly, she’s talking about renting a yacht. And being in the spotlight at school is fun… until rumors start flying, and random people ask her for loans. Now, Maddie isn’t sure who she can trust.
Except for Seth Nguyen, her funny, charming coworker at the local zoo. Seth doesn’t seem aware of Maddie’s big news. And, for some reason, she doesn’t want to tell him. But what will happen if he learns her secret?
With tons of humor and heart, Kasie West delivers a million-dollar tale of winning, losing, and falling in love.
About the Author
I write YA. I eat Junior Mints. Sometimes I go crazy and do both at the same time. My novels are: PIVOT POINT and its sequel SPLIT SECOND. And my contemporary novels: THE DISTANCE BETWEEN US, ON THE FENCE, THE FILL-IN BOYFRIEND, PS I LIKE YOU, and BY YOUR SIDE. My agent is the talented and funny Michelle Wolfson.
1. Your latest book Lucky in Love revolves around the relationship between Maddie, a girl who recently won the lottery, and her co-worker Seth, who is unaware of Maddie’s recent win. As a YA contemporary romance writer, how do you manage to avoid overused clichés and stereotypes to make your love stories into unique and memorable ones?
Well, I don’t know if I avoid that completely. Ha. But I think the way I work on avoiding that is to really focus in on the characters. That way, even if a situation feels like something that has happened before, I can focus on how the character would handle it or react to it differently than anyone else would. If I can think of the characters as real people the story feels more original.
2. What about young adults inspired you to write romances between teens, rather than adults or children?
I love the themes of young adulthood. This time is full of firsts and firsts are so fun and exciting. First loves, first heartbreaks, first moves, first jobs, etc. etc. It’s so fun for me to explore these firsts. And teens feel everything so strongly. It’s a time of change and “big-ness”.
3. Have you had any exciting or funny experiences with lottery tickets, or other chance games and events?
You would think that maybe I’m a big lottery player after writing a book like this, yes? But no, I’m actually not a “game of chance” type girl. I like spending my money on things that are a little more guaranteed. That said, when I pass through Vegas I occasionally give myself a $5 budget and play a couple of slot machines. In the past I’ve won $20! I shouldn’t be so excited about that, but I was. It was fun.
4. If you were in a situation similar to Maddie’s, where you won $50 million in the lottery, what would you do with the money?
I’m a beach bum and I live in a place where the summers can reach 115 degrees. So, if I won that much money, I’d love to buy a home on the beach. That sounds like heaven to me.
5. Have any of the events in your most recent book or your past novels been based off of your personal experiences or people you know?
I wish this book was based off of my real life! That would be awesome. But no, my books are mostly from my imagination. I always say that I don’t base any of my books off of my personal experiences, but I’m sure that some of my experiences have spilled over into my books in some way or other. Especially the emotional experiences I’ve had in past relationships or friendships or things like that. It’s nearly impossible to keep myself out of my books, since I’m the one writing them.
6. How do you want to impact readers with Lucky in Love? What are a few themes that you want readers to take away from the novel?
I hope readers will realize that money isn’t everything. That maybe sometimes we think “if only I had this or that … I’d be happy”. But it is so important to be happy where we are, in our moment. Also, I think hard work is way more important than luck.
Here’s my review of Lucky in Love!Disclaimer: I received a free e-ARC of this book from Edelweiss via the publisher and the Flying Fantastic Book Club Tours in exchange for an honest review.
Overall Thoughts: This is actually my first Kasie West book I have read (I know, how could a YA contemporary romance guy not read a Kasie West or Morgan Matson book?) and I actually really like the book. It did start off a bit shaky for me since it was very light, but it’s the perfect summer read to take to the beach. It definitely is a cute overload! It’s a book thay not only will make you swoon and go “Awwww” at the romance and characters, but it’s also one that explores life lessons, especially ones about money, friendship, and family. Now, I want more Kasie West books!
Romance and Life Lessons:Certainly, West has blended romance with dilemmas to create a book that will leave you with both a smile and thoughts about life. Although I wished there was more romance, the book was so cute! I mean, it’s like as if I’m watching a rom com (like Legally Blonde but a high school version with no innuendos). If this was a movie, I would certainly watch it! I love seeing the fire slowly ignite between Maddie and Seth. It was definitely a ball if cuteness in book form!
Regarding the life lessons, it definitely shows you the power money has when it comes to changing your life. Even though you can question some of Maddie’s decisions are very clear cut that they’ll be bad choices (like of course, if a relative calls asking for an “investment,” he’s probably just scamming you, an I right?), it does portray correctly how teens can be a bit reckless with their money sometimes. (I’m more of the “overestimate all the costs” type of guy.) It leaves you definitely with lessons about money, friendship, and family that some contemporary romances don’t have, which I really like. I think that it’s good when a book has a moral, so it not only entertains you, but teaches you at the same time. That’s how you change a life.
A Few Things: Now like I said, it did start off shaky for me a bit. I had to get used to the light writing style because I love reading deep, descriptive stuff. I could have felt a bit more of emotional connection and seen a little more vivid imagery, but because this book is meant to be a quick read, I didn’t mind it. I also wish there was more romantic parts! I would love that! Regardless, it was a great read, and I just didn’t want to put it down!
Concluding Thoughts: I really want to read more Kasie West books right now! Lucky in Love was such a fun, light, and cute that I’ll be looking forward to more of West’s upcoming works. I finished it in two days because it definitely got me hooked and feeling happy. Lucky in Love is a book you’ll fall in love with like a good scoop of ice cream on a hot Summer day. It’s the perfect summer read to bring anywhere you go!
Hi guys! I have some exciting news! I did an interview that is going to be printed in a book! Yes, an actual book! A few months ago, Jennifer Brody (who is super amazing) asked me to do the questions for the Q&A that will be featured in the back of The United Continnuums, which is the last installment in her award-winning The Continuum Trilogy, which is also my favorite series (and TUC is the best book and one of my top 3 favorites!). The United Continuums releases tomorrow July 11th, 2017, and I urge you to get it or enter the giveaway for a signed copy below! I definitely recommend reading all three books because they are so awesome! If you need reasons why to read them, check out my three reviews below! Now, to celebrate the release of TUC, Jennifer, her publisher, and I have agreed to release this exclusive interview excerpt, along with a giveaway of her book!
And thank you so much, Jennifer, for letting me do these questions and featuring me in your book. It is certainly a dream come true and an amazing honor to do the interview for The United Continuums, which is one of my favorite books of all time. I’m so happy for you that the series is finally complete!
Warning: There are some spoilers in a few of these questions below, so I will give a *SPOILER ALERT* before these questions!
About The United Continuums
In the epic conclusion to the award-winning Continuum Trilogy, Aero leads a group insurgents from the Second Continuum to overthrow his rival Supreme General Vinick and unite his space colony s military forces, while Seeker takes on a secret mission back to her home colony to reinforce Earth’s defenses and defend the First Continuum against an even greater threat. Meanwhile, Myra s nightmares have become a reality as the Dark Thing hurtles toward Earth with designs on eradicating the planet s fledgling populace. The only thing standing in the way are the three Carriers and those who would join them to fight against a second coming of the Doom.
Originally, I came up with the idea during the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. I was sitting at home and watching the TV news coverage of the oil spreading over the top of the ocean and suffocating birds and fish. As I stared at the dark sludge, feeling horrified, I started to wonder what would happen if we couldn’t live on the surface anymore. I couldn’t shake the idea. I kept asking myself more and more what if questions. In this way, the idea for the Continuum Universe started to form in my mind. At first, I thought of having underwater colonies, but quickly realized that we would build Continuums in multiple environments to maximize our chances for long-term survival—underwater, underground, and in outer space. In this way, the idea kept growing bigger and bigger, until I knew the story needed to expand into three books.
Your books take place throughout many of the Continuums, and each one had a different history and culture to it. How did you build each Continuum so uniquely?
Exactly, the original concept involved putting different societies into extreme isolation and exploring how they evolved differently. I had the idea for the underwater Thirteenth Continuum first (due to inspiration from the BP oil spill). I’ve always been fascinated by the deep-sea environment and how we know more about the surface of Mars than our own ocean trenches. Often when I’m worldbuilding, I rely on historical allegory to guide me. In this case, I based the history of that colony on the Dark Ages. I was interested in exploring how we went from a pinnacle of civilization with the Roman Empire and fell into a dark age, losing knowledge and technology. I also wanted to show how a democratic society modeled on the United States of America could devolve into a totalitarian state ruled by an oligarchy named the Synod. That’s why I included the constitutional amendments in the beginning of the first book.
For the Second Continuum—the lone surviving space colony, or so we think—I wanted to make them a military colony ruled by discipline and order, very different from the religious, superstitious Thirteenth Continuum. So, I turned to ancient Sparta for guidance on how to build that colony’s world. I realized along the way that while they had advanced technology and remembered their history, they still suffered in a different way. Their overreliance on logic and systemic organization led them to suppress their emotions and revile romantic love.
With each colony, each new environment, came a chance for me to build a different society. The underground Seventh Continuum devolved significantly, living in complete darkness with no technology. In their desperation to survive, they even turned to cannibalism. Influences included Lord of the Flies and also Gollum from the Lord of the Rings (who is also a devolved hobbit). This aspect of the trilogy that involves the different colonies really makes it stand out.
Hi guys! Currently I’m out of town on a trip to Niagara Falls, so I’ll be on the other side of the border! I’m super excited about this trip to Canada- it’s my first time! And Summer’s almost halfway done? Can you believe it? I mean, sure I’m writing this post in early June (D-Day, to be exact), but by the time this is posted, Summer would have felt too short. In the meantime, we’re going to continue our special Summer of Authors event with Amber R. Duell!
About Fragile Chaos
A GOD OF WAR SEEKING RESTORATION.
AN UNWILLING SACRIFICIAL BRIDE.
BETRAYAL THAT COULD DESTROY THEM BOTH.
“[E]very fiber of my being is woven from the rage of mortals.”
Theodric, the young God of War, has a talent for inciting conflict and bloodshed. After being stripped of his powers by his older brother, King of Gods, he sets out to instigate a mortal war to prove himself worthy of being restored to power.
“I loved Kisk once; it was my home… But that was before. This is now.”
Sixteen-year-old Cassia, like many in the modern era, believes gods and goddesses to be just a myth. Enemy to her country and an orphan of the war, she has no time for fairy tales. That’s until religious zealots from Theo’s sect offer her up as a sacrifice.
Can Cassia and Theo end the mortal war and return balance to the earth and heavens? Or, will their game of fate lead down a path of destruction, betrayal, and romance neither of them saw coming?
Infusing Myth with Reality
Hey! First, a huge thank you for LILbooKlovers for hosting me! I’m excited to be here and to talk about combining myth with reality.
In Fragile Chaos, I got the chance to work with both sides of myths—the truth and the exaggeration—which was incredibly fun!
Before I decided to create my own pantheon of gods, I read other mythologies and thought they were so crazy there was no way they could be real. I knew Cassia would be thinking the same thing. No one in her world believes in the gods and goddesses anymore, but the fantastic tales were still widespread and taught in school.