Double Dystopian Reviews!: The Government by Peter Gulgowski & Catalyst by Kristin Smith

Hi guys! Today I am doing two mini-reviews of two dystopian books I have recently read: The Government by Peter Gulgowski and Catalyst by Kristin Smith. Since I am very backed up on reviews, you’ll see me combine many of them into single posts which would either include two mini-reviews or two full reviews, depending upon how much I want to talk about the two books. So, I hope you enjoy this Double Dystopian Review Post!

*THERE WILL BE SPOILERS, SO PLEASE BE WARNED!*

 


About The Government30739107

Fifty years ago, the government was taken over by a new world power called The Second Founding Fathers. In that time, they also began the extermination of the undesirables.

Now, in the present, a country led by Gloria Chambers allows for only the desirables to live. The others are sent to massive extermination camps where they are disposed of to cleanse society.

Aria, Ethan, and Zeke are three teenagers who are being held in a detention zone located in modern-day Chicago. When it is learned that they are next for extermination, they enlist the help of a government soldier who offers to help them escape.

But they won’t be alone. A lone survivor group who has fought for the survival of the undesirables, the Resistance, is out there hiding. It’s up to them to find it.

The stakes for restoring order and justice to the country could not be higher. Can the three join forces with the Resistance and stop Gloria Chambers and her rule once and for all, or is it already too late?

Debut author Peter Gulgowski bursts onto the literary scene with a breakneck dystopian thriller, filled with breathtaking moments, betrayals, stunning revelations, and an unforgettable villain who will haunt you long after the last page. For fans of the Divergent and Hunger Games series, ‘The Government’ will be a new favorite.

Goodreads


3 Stars

Disclaimer: I received a free signed copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This will not affect my thoughts or feelings in any way.

For me, this book started off very strongly. It was haunting, and it chilled me to my bones when I thought about the world the author created. His post-apocalyptic United States and how the government gets rid of “undesirables” will keep you up at night. The beginning was very strong, and I was hooked from the first few pages. I loved the world-building so much; it was the book’s strongest characteristic. Plus, I felt so connected with the characters that whenever something bad happened to one of them, it broke my heart.

Continue reading “Double Dystopian Reviews!: The Government by Peter Gulgowski & Catalyst by Kristin Smith”

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E-ARC Review: Submerge by Tobie Easton

Hi guys! Happy Friday! Today I am reviewing a book that is by one of the nicest authors I have met. I had the wonderful opportunity to see Tobie Easton at the SE-YA Book Fest back in March, and I got my copy of Emerge (which was an amazing book, see review here) signed. I was able to get an e-ARC of the sequel Submerge through the YA Girl’s Review Team, and let me tell you, I loved it so much. I hope you enjoy this review! Submerge is also releasing this Tuesday on September 12th, so don’t miss it!


About the Book33299927

Now that Lia and Clay’s love has broken the Little Mermaid’s curse, everything has changed. Will Lia’s family remain on land, leading the only life she and her sisters have ever known, or will they move below the waves, to the sparkling new capital city? Lia is adamant about staying on land with Clay for her senior year. But at Melusine and her father’s trial, new revelations threaten what Lia holds most dear.

The verdict will shake Lia’s whole world, calling into question her future with Clay, her feelings for Caspian, and the fate of all Merkind. As she wonders who to trust, Lia sets out on a treacherous path that will lead her away from her sheltered Malibu home to a remote and mysterious school for Mermaids—Mermaids who may hold the secret to ancient magic Lia can use to either get back all she’s lost or to embark on a thrilling and dangerous journey.

Submerge releases on September 12th from Month9Books!

Goodreads


5 Stars

Disclaimer: I received a free e-ARC of this book from the author through the YA Girl’s Review Team in exchange for an honest review. This will not my review in any way.

Submerge was one of my most anticipated sequels of 2017 because I loved Easton’s debut Emerge. When I first started this book, I was in a slump. I was reading a dystopian novel that I wasn’t getting into, and school became really stressful. I needed a good escape, and Submerge helped me get through a tough week. I fell in love with this book the moment I first started reading it. Easton definitely stepped it up in her latest sequel by raising the stakes and tension. I just could not put it down. I did not want it to end, and I need more. Why can’t book three come any closer?

Continue reading “E-ARC Review: Submerge by Tobie Easton”

Review: 14 Hollow Road by Jenn Bishop

Hi guys! I’m so backed up with reviews lately since I’ve read more books and written more reviews than I can post! I’m so glad that I’m able to have the opportunity to post them! Today’s book review is on 14 Hollow Road by Jenn Bishop. I had Jenn on the blog a few months ago, in which you can find the link here, and she sent me a copy of her latest book to review, also. I’m so glad she did because I loved it, and you can see why below!


About the Book32319718

The night of the sixth-grade dance is supposed to be perfect for Maddie; she’ll wear her beautiful new dress, she’ll hit the dance floor with her friends, and her crush, Avery, will ask her to dance. Most importantly, she’ll finally leave her tiny elementary school behind for junior high. But as the first slow song starts to play, her plans crumble. Avery asks someone else to dance instead–and then the power goes out. Huddled in the gym, Maddie and her friends are stunned to hear that a tornado has ripped through the other side of town, destroying both Maddie’s and Avery’s homes.

Kind neighbors open up their home to Maddie’s and Avery’s families, which both excites and horrifies Maddie. Sharing the same house . . . with Avery? For the entire summer? While it buys her some time to prove that Avery made the wrong choice at the dance, it also means he’ll be there to witness her morning breath and her annoying little brother. Meanwhile, she must search for her beloved dog, who went missing during the tornado. At the dance, all she wanted was to be more grown-up. Now that she has no choice, is she ready for it?

Goodreads


5 Stars

Disclaimer: I received a free signed copy of this book  (and some extra swag) in exchange for an honest review. This will not affect my review at all.

I did not expect 14 Hollow Road to be this amazing of a book. You normally think with MG books that they should be light and fluffy, like a YA summer contemporary novel, but not in this case. This book defies all those stereotypes, and it will stand out as one of my favorite, if not my favorite, middle grade read of 2017. I just couldn’t put it down, and it was so beautiful. I mean it, it was amazingly beautiful. *cue single teardrop* If I had to create a lesson for elementary school students (like in 4th to 8th grade), I would get them to read this book. This is a book that adults, young adults, and children should read because it truly has the potential to change your view on disasters and those affected.

Continue reading “Review: 14 Hollow Road by Jenn Bishop”

ARC Review: Post-High School Reality Quest by Meg Eden

Hi guys! Today I have for you an ARC review, and this was one of the first ARCs that I was ever sent! Woo hoo! I hope you enjoy it! Today also marks the start of my first full week at school, so what better to celebrate than a book that explores the reality of life after high school!


About the Book:PHSRQarccover

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.

Goodreads


Disclaimer: I received a free physical ARC of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. I also received some swag outside of the trade agreement. These will not affect my review.

Overall Thoughts: This is probably one of the most creative books I have ever read. From Buffy’s mental illness portrayed as a text adventure to the format itself like a text adventure, it definitely would stick out over other books. Now, I had really high expectations, but this book just didn’t click with me. I did not enjoy it as much as I wanted to or thought I would, unfortunately. I really wanted to love it, but I have to be honest that I didn’t.

Continue reading “ARC Review: Post-High School Reality Quest by Meg Eden”

Lucky in Love Blog Tour (+ Summer of Authors #15): Exclusive Interview with Kasie West + E-ARC Review + Giveaway!

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!

BANNER


About the Book30285562

Title: Lucky in Love

Author: Kasie West

Publisher: Scholastic

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 —

She wins!

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 Author5027236

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.


Kasie West1. 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!4 StarsDisclaimer: 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!


Tour Schedule

Tour Schedule here!


Giveaway

  • 1 ARC of Lucky in Love
  • US only
  • Follow the tour for more chances to win
  • Runs through July 31
  • Please read Rules & Regs in Rafflecopter

a Rafflecopter giveaway


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!

Email| Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram | Bloglovin

Summer of Authors #14: Exclusive Interview with Sheba Karim, Author of That Thing We Call a Heart!

Hi guys! Today I’m leaving my summer engineering camp, and I’m so nostalgic right now! These past few days have been super fun (I hope, I’m writing this two weeks ahead.) To celebrate the end of camp (and the end of summer approaching so soon!), today I’m welcoming Sheba Karim, author of That Thing We Call a Heart (which I really loved), on our blog today! I met Sheba- who is a local author in Nashville- twice, the first at the SE-YA Book Fest and the second at Sandhya Menon’s signing and launch event for When Dimple Met Rishi! I was so glad to win an ARC of TTWCaH and I’m so glad to have the chance to interview Sheba! Enjoy!


About That Thing We Call a Heart25752164

Shabnam Qureshi is a funny, imaginative Pakistani-American teen attending a tony private school in suburban New Jersey. When her feisty best friend, Farah, starts wearing the headscarf without even consulting her, it begins to unravel their friendship. After hooking up with the most racist boy in school and telling a huge lie about a tragedy that happened to her family during the Partition of India in 1947, Shabnam is ready for high school to end. She faces a summer of boredom and regret, but she has a plan: Get through the summer. Get to college. Don’t look back. Begin anew.

Everything changes when she meets Jamie, who scores her a job at his aunt’s pie shack, and meets her there every afternoon. Shabnam begins to see Jamie and herself like the rose and the nightingale of classic Urdu poetry, which, according to her father, is the ultimate language of desire. Jamie finds Shabnam fascinating—her curls, her culture, her awkwardness. Shabnam finds herself falling in love, but Farah finds Jamie worrying.

With Farah’s help, Shabnam uncovers the truth about Jamie, about herself, and what really happened during Partition. As she rebuilds her friendship with Farah and grows closer to her parents, Shabnam learns powerful lessons about the importance of love, in all of its forms.

Featuring complex, Muslim-American characters who defy conventional stereotypes and set against a backdrop of Radiohead’s music and the evocative metaphors of Urdu poetry, THAT THING WE CALL A HEART is a honest, moving story of a young woman’s explorations of first love, sexuality, desire, self-worth, her relationship with her parents, the value of friendship, and what it means to be true.

Goodreads

Amazon | Barnes & Noble


Sheba Karim

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

When I was young, my love for reading prompted me to try to create my own worlds and stories, and I began writing.  I loved writing, and still do, because it’s such a powerful and expressive use of the imagination.

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

Growing up, I loved British lit, Austen, the Brontes, E.M. Forster.  I also loved a lot of seminal YA literature like The Chocolate Wars and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.  In college and beyond, I started reading a lot of South Asian and diaspora fiction, Salman Rushdie, Jhumpa Lahiri, Rohinton Mistry. I read YA and lit fiction pretty broadly now, though I don’t have as much time to read as I’d like.  I’m always inspired by literature that skillfully incorporates humor.

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

I write full time.  When I’m not writing, I’m playing with my daughter, cooking, reading or catching up with a show on Netflix.

Continue reading “Summer of Authors #14: Exclusive Interview with Sheba Karim, Author of That Thing We Call a Heart!”

Brooding YA Hero Challenge: All About Music! – ARC Review: Starswept by Mary Fan

Hi guys! This week’s Brooding YA Hero Challenge is “All About Music,” and the best book to write about is one that I loved so much and is dear to my heart: Starswept by Mary Fan! This was the first ever ARC I was sent from an author/publisher for review, and I’m so happy to be able to review it and feature it for the Brooding YA Hero Challenge of the Week!


About the Booka0258-starswept-8002bcover2breveal2band2bpromotional

Some melodies reach across the stars.

In 2157, the Adryil—an advanced race of telepathic humanoids—contacted Earth. A century later, 15-year-old violist Iris Lei considers herself lucky to attend Papilio, a prestigious performing arts school powered by their technology. Born penniless, Iris’s one shot at a better life is to attract an Adryil patron. But only the best get hired, and competition is fierce.

A sudden encounter with an Adryil boy upends her world. Iris longs to learn about him and his faraway realm, but after the authorities arrest him for trespassing, the only evidence she has of his existence is the mysterious alien device he slipped to her.

When she starts hearing his voice in her head, she wonders if her world of backstabbing artists and pressure for perfection is driving her insane. Then, she discovers that her visions of him are real—by way of telepathy—and soon finds herself lost in the kind of impossible love she depicts in her music.

But even as their bond deepens, Iris realizes that he’s hiding something from her—and it’s dangerous. Her quest for answers leads her past her sheltered world to a strange planet lightyears away, where she uncovers secrets about Earth’s alien allies that shatter everything she knows.

Starswept will be released on August 29th from Snowy Wings Publishing!

Goodreads


A 5 Star

Disclaimer: I received a signed ARC in exchange for an honest review. This will not affect my review at all.

Overall Thoughts: This is the first book in a while that will receive a 5 stars from me! I am truly “swept” away by Fan’s debut book. I literally could not put it down because it was so stunning! It definitely exceeded my expectations, and this is a series that I want to continue so much! There is literally nothing wrong with this book; I can’t think of anything against it. Plus, I felt such a very close personal connection because it revolved a lot around music, and music makes up a very influential part of my life. Incorporating music and the music school inside the book is ingenious! I just want to give the book a very big hug because the main characters share the same love of music and the arts as I do. I just didn’t want it to end!

Continue reading “Brooding YA Hero Challenge: All About Music! – ARC Review: Starswept by Mary Fan”

Review: Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon

Hello, Book Lovers! This is WAY overdue. The movie was not the first thing to introduce me to this book. I’ve heard about it all the time. A friend of mine was in LOVE with this book. I didn’t pick it up until after the movie came out. (Also I have not seen the movie yet 😦 )

EVERYTHING EVERYTHING.jpgMy disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically, I’m allergic to the world. I don’t leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla.
But then one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He’s tall, lean and wearing all black—black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly.

Maybe we can’t predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster.

Find it on Goodreads HERE.

Also look up The Sun is Also a Star HERE.


Nicola YoonNicola Yoon grew up in Jamaica (the island) and Brooklyn (part of Long Island). She currently resides in Los Angeles, CA with her husband and daughter, both of whom she loves beyond all reason. Everything, Everything is her first novel.

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7353006.Nicola_Yoon

Website: http://www.nicolayoon.com/

 


 

TO THE REVIEW…

My rating…

4 Stars

On Goodreads, I have this book rated five out five stars. The reason I am changing it is because I have had time to think about the story, everything that happened, and how I feel about it. Even then, I was a little uneasy with giving it a good five out of five. Why? Proceed to read…

I love the characters. Maddie longed for adventure. Olly was there to give it to her. Everyone else I enjoyed learning about. Her mother, his parents, CARRRLLLA. I really loved Carla because she was the mentor of the story. She knew what Maddie needed, and was there for her through her rough moments. The risk of losing her job did not faze her to do what was right.

Maddie and Olly’s relationship was on point. I loved how Olly cared about her, was careful when he was around her. And when Maddie left her house to go protect him… that was absolutely the sweetest thing ever.

I want to say it felt a bit rushed while reading it, but I also read it start to finish on an airplane, so I’m trying to figure out whether it was me or the book. Probably me. I just did not feel as satisfied when I finished as I thought I would have.

The ending really blew me away. I did not expect something like that to happen. I kind of did not like it, because it mellowed out the ending a little. Yeah, I was mad. I was trying not to cry. But I didn’t like the calm feeling I got as soon as it happened. It made me a little annoyed. But that’s just me. A lot of people enjoyed this book to its full extent. I did too… it’s just not my favorite.

My favorite thing about this book? Maddie wanting to know the world, and using her father as her way of pushing forward. Her stubbornness to do what she wants and to not let her sickness get in the way. There is so much more to life than your limitations.


So happy to be able to put my review out there! TBR list filling up more than I can read. But I love reading, so I’ll continue to attempt the monster load of books.

Summer of Authors #6: Exclusive Interview with Pamela Schloesser Canepa

Hi guys! I hope your Summer is still going off strong! I’m going to give my predicted life updates right now! What’s funny is that I predict what’s going to happen, and then they don’t exactly go according to plan and I forget to change them. Haha, so my updates are… Well, I can’t think of anything! I’m just relaxing and having fun! Here’s another Summer of Authors interview for you: indie author Pamela Schloesser Canepa, author of Detours in Time.


About Detours in TimeDetours in Time

Feisty Tabatha, a struggling artist, and Milt, an awkward Science professor, set off on a journey to the future. What was supposed to be fun soon turns quite intense when they make discoveries about their future selves and end up on other “detours.” The two set events into action that may save one life, yet destroy another. Can these friends of completely different mindsets agree on a course of action? Can Tabatha stick to Milt’s rules of time travel? Both Milt and Tabatha struggle to witness and not participate in a place and time that is not yet their own.

Amid the backdrop of a future that reveals great wonders and horrors, Tabatha and Milt must resist the temptation to use discoveries from future technology to aid them when they return to the present. Detours in Time starts as a fantastic escape and grows to present many moral dilemmas and surprises that can either destroy the strongest friendship or bring two people closer.

Amazon | Goodreads


Pamela Schloesser Canepa

1. Why do you love writing?

I love it because it takes me out of reality and into a place I’d rather be, and if it takes me someplace horrible, I imagine myself a warrior who will conquer, no matter what.

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

My love for writing began as a child.  I wrote stories when we traveled in the car.  My brother was too young to talk to, so I entertained myself.  My parents and other family really encouraged my writing imagination as well.  I believe it also came out my love for reading, something that was highly encouraged by my mother.

2. What are your favorite books, genres, and authors?

Books: The Help, The Martian, Auraria by Tim Westover, The Trial by James Patterson, The Stand and 11-22-63 (Stephen King), and The Monuments Men. Genre: Sci-fi and dystopian, but I like some historical fiction and non-fiction.  Authors:  Laurie Notaro (humor) Stephen King (Horror and sci-fi), Phillip K. Dick (sci-fi).

Which ones have impacted you and your writing style the most?

I’m sure Stephen King inspired my imagination, but James Patterson likely impacted my writing style the most.  He is a master of dialogue and short chapters.  I also admire the way he can write from a male or female perspective.

3. What do you do when you’re not writing?

I spend time with family, including my beloved dog.  He was a shelter dog.  I call him part tramp and part prince.  I also like the beach and try to do yoga.  Movies are another favorite.  I am involved with some volunteering through my church as well.

Is writing a part-time or full-time job?

It is a part-time job.  Perhaps someday it can support me and lead me into retirement!

Continue reading “Summer of Authors #6: Exclusive Interview with Pamela Schloesser Canepa”

Summer of Authors #5: Exclusive Interview with Tobie Easton!

Hi guys! We are continuing our special Summer of Authors event with an author whose book is the perfect summer read. Tobie Easton, whom I met at the SE-YA Book Fest and is really amazing, wrote Emerge, her first book that’s about mermaids and romance. If you want read it by the poolside pretending to be a mermaid, then this is the book for you!


About Emerge27882492

Lia Nautilus may be a Mermaid but she’s never lived in the ocean. War has ravaged the seven seas ever since the infamous Little Mermaid unleashed a curse that stripped Mer of their immortality. Lia has grown up in a secret community of land-dwelling Mer hidden among Malibu’s seaside mansions. Her biggest problems are surviving P.E. and keeping her feelings for Clay Ericson in check. Sure, he’s gorgeous in that cocky, leather jacket sort of way and makes her feel like there’s a school of fish swimming in her stomach, but getting involved with a human could put Lia’s entire community at risk. So it’s for the best that he’s dating that new girl, right?

That is, until Lia finds out she isn’t the only one at school keeping a potentially deadly secret. And this new girl? Her eyes are dead set on Clay, who doesn’t realize the danger he’s in. If Lia hopes to save him, she’ll have to get closer to Clay. Lia’s parents would totally flip if they found out she was falling for a human boy, but the more time she spends with him, the harder it is for her to deny her feelings. After making a horrible mistake, Lia will risk everything to stop Clay from falling in love with the wrong girl.


Tobie Easton

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

I love the puzzles of writing. The challenge of writing—the part that really intrigues me—is how to make all the pieces fit. How to make all the words fit just right, how to make all the story pieces fit so the plot twists feel right, how to make sure all the characters’ decisions push that plot forward. Making those pieces fit is what brings me those wonderful moments of satisfaction when I’m writing.

Growing up, I always loved stories and getting swept up in fictional worlds, but I was a reader long before I ever thought about being a writer. Writing was always the subject I enjoyed most in school; I found it fun and gratifying to play with words and find just the right phrasing for a given thought. But even though I enjoyed it, writing felt like something I had to do for whichever teacher gave me the assignment. It wasn’t until a few years after I graduated college and stopped having anyone making me write that I realized I wanted to write. It was perfect timing because it gave me just enough distance to gain perspective on my teen years, and I feel like I now have something to say in YA.

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

MysteriousGalaxyBirthdayBash2016_6As a writer, details are really important to me. My favorite fictional worlds are the ones in which every detail is thought through, and some that seem insignificant end up mattering in unexpected ways. That’s why I’ve been drawn to the vivid worlds of fantasy writers like J.K. Rowling and Tamora Pierce. I also learned a great deal about incorporating detail, building magic systems, and writing dialogue from watching and re-watching the works of Joss Whedon throughout high school and college. Romance is another element that’s at the top of my list. Getting my characters together is often what keeps me writing. And of course, I’ve always been intrigued by mythology and fairy tales—and by attempting to understand in what ways they’re still relevant in modern culture.

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

Actually, I am SO excited to tell you that writing is about to become a full-time job for me! I still can’t believe it, and I can’t wait to have more time to write more books for you guys!

When I’m not writing, I’m reading, and when I’m not reading, I’m trying out a new restaurant or travelling. My favorite thing is exploring new worlds—whether on the page or off.

4. EMERGE is heavily inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s THE LITTLE MERMAID. What about the original fairy tale spoke to you the most? Why did you choose to base your book on it?

At first, all I knew was that I wanted to write about mermaids living on land. Once I had decided to tell that story, I couldn’t help thinking about the original version of The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen, particularly the part that’s generally left out of more modern versions—that the Little Mermaid chose to die at the end instead of killing the prince and saving herself (yep, it’s a dark story!). My imagination started spinning and I began to think about what the consequences of that action might have been for modern mermaids.

5. Would you like to be a mermaid, why or not? If so, what would you do if you were one?27882492

Absolutely! I hope anyone who’s read my book would like to try being a mermaid—at least for a day.

If I had a day to spend as I mermaid, I would go exploring! Okay, well, first I think I’d just spend a lot of time staring at my tail and doing backflips in the water. Then I would want to see everything. I’d start with the hidden mermaid grottos where Lia’s community lives in Emerge because I’d want to see their abalone walls and cave formations for myself. After that, I wouldn’t be able to resist the temptation anymore, and I’d dive right into the ocean. How incredible would it be to be able to breathe underwater and see everything in the ocean with crystal clear vision? Then, as the day was coming to an end, I’d break the surface right in time toshare a kiss with someone special in the waves at sunset.

6. You host book clubs for teens and tweens! What is that like? Why do you like the middle grade and young adult audiences as both a reader and writer?

Teaching book clubs is actually how I discovered—and fell in love with—YA. The bookclub members started bringing in books they were reading outside of the club to show me. One of them brought in Delirium by Lauren Oliver, and I read a few pages out of curiosity. I bought the book that night because I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Once I started reading YA, I realized what a perfect fit it was for the voice in my own writing.

Books we read when we’re growing up are often the most meaningful to us. They’re the ones that stay with us and that we read over and over. When you write for MG and YA audiences, your words can really touch someone who is figuring out who they are and what they care about. Also, I love the exploration and discovery in YA, and, of course, the resonance of first love.

7. Since your book takes place over 200 years after the events of the Little Mermaid, how did you create the history and culture behind the Mermaid community in your book? What were some challenges you faced putting a new twist on an old tale?

For me, world-building starts with asking a series of questions and using logic to flesh out the world. The question that sparked this book for me was “What if Mermaids lived on land?” That led to, “Where would they live?” Well, in Malibu beach houses with secret, underground grottos where they could use their tails. “How would they keep their secret?”, “How would they get legs?”, “What would the rules of their Community be?”, “What would human school be like for them?”, “What language would they speak and what expressions wouldthey use?”, “What would their culture be like, from its history, to its food, to its thoughts on marriage and love?” Moving through those kinds of questions one by one helped me figure out what a Mer society in the human world would be like.

Mermaids, in one form or another, appear in so many cultures, so I also read mermaid myths and legends from all over the world and incorporated various elements that sparked my imagination. One of the most fun challenges was making those various pieces fit together into one cohesive Mermaid world.Tobie Pic

8. What do you like the most about living in Los Angeles and having a great author community there? Although I’ve already visited LA a few years ago (it was really fun by the way), what would you recommend a visitor to do or to go in LA?

LA attracts a lot of really creative people. People you meet here are very passionate about their projects, whether those projects are books, songs, movies, television shows, web series, paintings, or anything else. As for where to visit, I’m sure you already know about Disneyland and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, so I’ll mention a few you may not have heard of; Huntington Gardens (especially the jaw-dropping rose garden), the Los Angeles Arboretum, and Greystone Mansion (the grounds of the estate are now a public park where I went to day camp as a kid. If you’re a Gilmore Girls fan, you’ll recognize Greystone as Chilton).

9. Did you ever surprise yourself as you wrote EMERGE?

This is a great question. No one has ever asked me this before. Nearly all of Emerge was a surprise because it’s the first book I wrote. When I had the initial idea (What if mermaids livedon land?), I thought, “I can’t write a book!” But the idea wouldn’t let go, and I felt like I had to write it. Reaching THE END and realizing I could really write a book—and that I immediately wanted to write another one!—was the biggest surprise of all.

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?160604_BN Santa Monica 4

I loved, loved, LOVED SE-YA! It was a blast. Going to book festivals is one of my favorite parts of being an author because I get to meet and talk to readers. Connecting with you guys is really the best part of being an author because you get to share the love you have of stories with others. Kester, seeing that you had put the signed book plate I’d sent you months before in your copy of Emerge, and then getting to talk to you in person meant so much to me. At SEYA, I also got to hang out and do panels with authors I admire so much. Plus, the festival organizers were some of the loveliest people I’ve ever met. Not only did they plan an incredible book festival (librarians should run the world!), they took me out for my first real soul food and sweet tea. Also—IT SNOWED! Since I’m from Los Angeles, that was really exciting. All the other authors were teasing me and calling me, “California.” 😉

11. SUBMERGE, the second book in THE MER CHRONICLES, is coming out later this year! What can we look forward to in the next installment? Would you like to give us any secrets about what happens next? 

It’s getting close now! I CAN’T WAIT for you guys to read it. I won’t give away any spoilers, but I will say Book 2 is finished now—and so much happens! It definitely has more romance and magic (my two favorite things), and there are more difficult choices ahead for Lia. We’ll learn more about the characters from Book 1 and we’ll see new, unexpected sides to them. There are also some new characters I just can’t wait for you to meet. Submerge really raises the stakes and the emotional tension of the series. If I had to sum up Submerge, I’d do it in two words: magical and heart-wrenching.

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

Write the book only you can write. By that I mean, follow what fascinates you—whetherthat’s mermaids or sports or vampires or music or scientific exploration or politics or horses. Letyourself fall down that rabbit hole no matter what anyone tells you because that’s where your story is waiting to be discovered.

Thanks so much, Tobie, for coming onto the blog! It was so fun having you!


Emerge Project Mermaids Promo Video

Tobie: “Here’s a link to a video I did for Project Mermaids to help raise awareness for ocean conservation.”


About the AuthorTobie Pic

Tobie Easton was born and raised in Los Angeles, California, where she’s grown from a little girl who dreamed about magic to a twenty-something who writes about it. A summa cum laude graduate of the University of Southern California, Tobie hosts book clubs for tweens and teens (so she’s lucky enough to spend her days gabbing about books).

She and her very kissable husband enjoy traveling the globe and fostering packs of rescue puppies. Tobie loves chocolate chip cookies and Oxford commas. Tobie is a member of SCBWI and YARWA, the Young Adult chapter of RWA.


Happy Reading!

+ J.M.J.

~ Kester

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