February Reading Re-Cap!

Hi guys! March is going to be a crazy month for me! I just performed last night in my choir’s Evening with the Madrigals, and I sang and/or played the piano to “Hold Me Now” by Johnny Logan, “Home” from Beauty and the Beast: The Musical, and “Think of Me” from Phantom of the Opera. Next week is Midterms week, along with my DECA State Convention and the SE-YA Book Fest. And that’s only the first two weeks of March, and there’s much more in store for me. At least last month, I was able to finish 10 books somehow!

5 Stars

Cry of the Sea by D. G. Driver

Cry of the Sea


4 Stars

These Ruthless Deeds by Tarun Shanker and Kelly Zekas

These Ruthless Deeds


Greetings from Witness Protection! by Jake Burt

Greetings from Witness Protection!


AutoFocus by Lauren Gibaldi



Legends of the Lost Causes by Brad McLellan and Louis Sylvester

Legends of the Lost Causes


Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner

Goodbye Eyes


Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer

Into the Wild


Rook by Sharon Cameron



3 Stars

These Vengeful Souls by Tarun Shanker and Kelly Zekas

These Vengeful Souls


Love Songs & Other Lies by Jessica Pennington

Love Songs & Other Lies


In Case You Missed This Month’s Posts

Author Interviews

Adrianne Finlay, author of Your One & Only

Mary Weber, author of Reclaiming Shilo Snow

Chelsea Sedoti, author of As You Wish


“Healing through Stories: Two Novels of Uniting Families” with Corabel Shofner and Leslie Hauser


The Power of Middle Grade Novels


Your One & Only by Adrianne Finlay (5 Stars)

Tempests and Slaughter by Tamora Pierce (4 Stars)

Legends of the Lost Causes by Brad McLellan and Louis Sylvester (4 Stars)

The Lairdbalor by Kathleen Kaufman (3 Stars)

Blog Tours and Cover Reveals

Your One & Only by Adrianne Finlay (ARC Review)

Tempests and Slaughter by Tamora Pierce (Review)

Fighting Fate by Shaila Patel (Cover Reveal and Excerpt)

Reclaiming Shilo Snow by Mary Weber (Scavenger Hunt and Author Interview)


January Reading Re-Cap

Blog Update: Re-Organization of Archives

Happy Reading!

+ J.M.J.

~ Kester

Have you read any of these books? What are your thoughts?

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

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E-ARC Review: The Star Wars Rings by Tomas Pueyo Brochard

Hi guys! My Fall Break is almost coming to an end (aww), but I was able to catch up on quite a few things I needed to attend to! Tomorrow, I am planning to go to the Southern Festival of Books in Nashville to see some amazing authors from Victoria Schwab to Alan Gratz (who we actually had on the blog earlier this year!). Today, I have a special review in store for you, and if you’re a Star Wars fan, you’ll certainly love this book!

About the Book36195587

Why is Star Wars one of the most famous franchises in history? Why did George Lucas create a ground-breaking original trilogy and underwhelming prequels? Why do the Star Wars movies feel familiar and surprising at the same time? Can we predict what will happen in the next Star Wars movies?

The answer to all these questions is an ancient pattern used by some of the most famous and successful stories in history, from the Bible, to Harry Potter, to Star Wars: the Ring Structure.

In this book, you will understand what’s special about Ring Structure and how to spot it. You will see the Ring Structure reflected in other famous stories. You will learn how Star Wars applied the Ring Structure as a blueprint for its plots, characters, events, politics, or even colors. In the process, you will discover the historic ambition of the Star Wars saga, why its story is not as simple as it seems, why it’s so ground-breaking, and why it’s been so successful.

With that newfound power, you will be able to predict what will happen in the next installments. Like a Jedi, you will predict the future movies. May that Force be with you.


4 Stars

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

How would I describe my reaction as I read this book? Mind-blown! The Star Wars Rings is an enlightening epitome on one of the world’s most beloved movie franchises and its hidden, yet carefully executed and thought-out structure. I chose to read and review this book because I thought that it would help me analyze stories better, especially the classics I have to read in my AP English Language class, and it definitely was a right choice. It has changed the way how I read books and watch movies, and it certainly has made me love literature even more!

Continue reading “E-ARC Review: The Star Wars Rings by Tomas Pueyo Brochard”

My September Reading Re-Cap!


Hi guys! I’ve been less active lately last month because school has been super busy, and I mean, super busy. This past week was mid-terms week, which definitely was full of cramming pages and pages (I mean eight 30-page chapters for AP US History) of information from colonial, revolutionary, and republican American history to genetics, organic molecules, and cellular respiration and photosynthesis in AP Biology. I’ve also had an audition, a concert, a festival, and a field trip lined up these past few weeks. Yeah, I’ve been really busy, which is why I haven’t blogged as much in September. BUT, I have read quite a few books last months so I have some great reviews and posts out soon!

September Re-Cap

5 Stars

Dare Mighty Things by Heather Kaczynski



4 Stars

A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab



The Temptation of Adam by Dave Connis



The Star Wars Rings by Tomas Pueyo Brochard



In Case You Missed This Month’s Posts

September 1st – Hunting Prince Dracula Blog Tour: Top Ten Quotes from Stalking Jack the Ripper

September 3rd – My August Reading Re-Cap!

September 4th – Middle Grade Author Nancy J. Cavanaugh Talks About the Process of Writing Her Latest Book – Elsie Mae Has Something to Say

September 11th – Exclusive Interview with Debut Sci-Fi Author Scott Reintgen, Author of Nyxia

September 16th – The Lunar Chronicles (Books #1-#3) by Marissa Meyer – Book Review! (Cayli)

September 18th – ARC Review: This Darkness Mine by Mindy McGinnis

September 25th – E-ARC Review: Submerge by Tobie Easton

Happy Reading!

+ J.M.J.

~ Kester

Have you read any of these books? What did you think?

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

Email| Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram | Bloglovin

Exclusive Interview with Andrew Maraniss!

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

Andrew Maraniss

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Website  |  Twitter  |  Facebook  |  Goodreads  |  YouTube  |  Bumpers

Strong Inside (Regular Edition)

Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble  |  Parnassus Books

Strong Inside Young Readers’ Edition

Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble  |  Parnassus Books

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

+ J.M.J.

~ Kester