DOUBLE Cover Reveal: Crown of Ice & Scepter of Fire

Today I’m participating in a special double cover reveal for the first two books in the Mirror of Immortality Trilogy by Vicki L. Weavil. The all-new second edition of the first book, Crown of Ice, releases on May 9 from Snowy Wings Publishing, with the second book, Scepter of Fire, coming on May 23!

Let me tell you something: these covers are probably the prettiest ones I have seen in a while. When I first saw them, I pretty much swooned. I was like “Oh… so… pretty!” I love them a lot!

Here goes!

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What do you call…

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A fish with no eyes?

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Blind.

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Ha! Ha! Ha! I made that up!

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You’re probably not laughing…

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Fine, here is the cover!

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*Kester starts singing “Ah!!!!” like an opera singer*

Cover designed by Deranged Doctor Design

Title: Crown of Ice
Author: Vicki L. Weavil
Release Date: May 9, 2017
Publisher: Snowy Wings Publishing

Snow Queen Thyra Winther is immortal, but if she can’t reassemble a shattered enchanted mirror by her eighteenth birthday she’s doomed to spend eternity as a wraith.

Armed with magic granted by a ruthless wizard, Thyra schemes to survive with her mind and body intact. Unencumbered by kindness, she kidnaps local boy Kai Thorsen, whose mathematical skills rival her own. Two logical minds, Thyra calculates, are better than one. With time rapidly melting away she needs all the help she can steal.

A cruel lie ensnares Kai in her plan, but three missing mirror shards and Kai’s childhood friend, Gerda, present more formidable obstacles.

Thyra’s willing to do anything – venture into uncharted lands, outwit sorcerers, or battle enchanted beasts — to reconstruct the mirror, yet her most dangerous adversary lies within her. Touched by the warmth of a wolf pup’s devotion and the fire of a young man’s love, the thawing of Thyra’s frozen heart could prove her ultimate undoing.

Add Crown of Ice on Goodreads!

Cover designed by Deranged Doctor Design

Title: Scepter of Fire
Author: Vicki L. Weavil
Release Date: May 23, 2017
Publisher: Snowy Wings Publishing

She’s the ugly duckling in a family of swans. But Varna Lund is determined to live a life that matters.

Ridiculed by the young men of her village, Varna vows she’ll become the finest healer in the land. The skills she’s learned from her ancient mentor prove vital when she encounters Erik Stahl, a young soldier who deserted the battlefield to carry an injured friend to safety. Aided by her sister Gerda, she cares for the soldiers in secret.

When betrayal catapults the four young people into life on the run, Varna encounters her former mentor—now revealed as the sorcerer, Sten Rask. Seeking an enchanted mirror that offers unlimited power, Rask appears determined to seduce Varna to his side.

To protect their country, Varna and her companions form an alliance with a former Snow Queen, a scholar, and an enchantress. But when Rask tempts her with beauty and power, Varna’s heart becomes a battlefield. Caught between loyalty to her companions and a man whose kisses ignite a fire on her lips, Varna must choose—embrace her own desires, or fight for a society that’s always spurned her.

Add Scepter of Fire on Goodreads!

About the Author:

Vicki L. Weavil turned her early obsession with reading into a career as a librarian. After obtaining a B.A. in Theatre from the University of Virginia, she continued her education by receiving a Masters in Library Science and a M.A. in Liberal Studies. She is currently the Library Director for a performing and visual arts university.

An avid reader who appreciates good writing in all genres, Vicki has been known to read seven books in as many days. When not writing or reading, she likes to spend her time watching films, listening to music, gardening, or traveling. Vicki, who writes in other genres under the pennames V. E. Lemp and Victoria Gilbert, is represented by Frances Black of Literary Counsel, NY, NY. She lives in North Carolina with her husband and some very spoiled cats.

Visit Vicki online at vickilweavil.com, or on Twitter at @VickiLWeavil or Facebook at @VickiLWeavil.

The covers were so beautiful, weren’t they! Well, I got to go! See you later! 🙂

+ J.M.J.

~ Kester

The Taming of the Dudebro, Volume 1 Paperback Cover Reveal!

Today I’m helping reveal the paperback cover for The Taming of the Dudebro, Volume 1, a YA/NA hybrid contemporary romance retelling the classic comedies of Shakespeare, by Jane Watson. This paperback includes the first two books of the series, The Taming of the Dudebro and A Midsummer Night’s Dudebro. It releases from Snowy Wings Publishing on April 18—the same day as the ebook of A Midsummer Night’s Dudebro!

Title: The Taming of the Dudebro, Volume 1
Author: Jane Watson
Release Date: April 18, 2017
Publisher: Snowy Wings Publishing

This special paperback bind-up includes the first two books of the series, The Taming of the Dudebro and A Midsummer Night’s Dudebro!

In The Taming of the Dudebro, Patricia’s dream is coming true: she is directing her own play, a one-act written by her best friend, Grizz, for the school’s annual Drama Festival. Everything seems to be perfect until her teacher assigns Kurt Minola, the biggest jerk in the school, to work on her play. Kurt is lazy, selfish and irresponsible. The only good thing about him is his attractive twin brother, Ben—but even he can’t seem to change Kurt’s attitude. Kurt’s presence turns Patricia’s dream into a nightmare… until Patricia and Grizz decide to take matters into their own hands, and subject this insufferable surfer-dude to some taming.

Then, in A Midsummer Night’s Dudebro, with the theater festival behind her and graduation around the corner, Grizz Sheridan figured she was done with Kurt Minola. She wants to focus on spending time with her friends and enjoying her last summer before she goes off to college. No such luck now that Kurt’s crushing on her best friend (and his twin brother’s girlfriend), Patricia. It seems like he’s glued to her side no matter where she goes—class, parties, even Prom.

Grizz thinks her luck is changing when she begins working at Merry Mule Coffee Roasters and meets super hottie, Dimitri. That is, until a certain surfer boy starts working there, too—and suddenly seems to have turned his romantic interests elsewhere…

Will Grizz survive the summer?

Add The Taming of the Dudebro, Volume 1 on Goodreads!

Learn more about Jane Watson at her website, janewatsonauthor.com, or visit her on social media: Twitter: @janewatauthor, Instagram: @janewatsonauthor

 

So here’s the cover!!!

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To be or not to be…

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That is the question?

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Go wisely and slowly…

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Those who rush stumble and fall.

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Are you tired of these Shakespeare quotes?

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So am I… I can’t find anymore good ones!

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So here it is!

A Taming

Cover designed by Key of Heart Designs

Interview + GIVEAWAY with Bryan Pentelow

‘Ello gov’na! (I just love British accents!!!) Today’s special guest hails all the way across the Atlantic and lives in the United Kingdom! We are so glad to have Bryan Pentelow with us today! He is giving out TWO e-copies of his newest book Sprocket and the Heart of the North this week, and we want you to win them! Go check out the interview below and be sure to enter the giveaway below!

Bryan Pentelow

1. In your own words, what is your book Sprocket and the Heart of the North about? 51CtZm7Rp2L._AC_US160_

As with all the Sprocket Sagas, this one is a fight between good and evil. Which wins? Read it and find out. 

The North of England was a centre of glass making in the past and in my history, the furnaces were fired by dragons. Then a desperate sorcerer needing powerful magic to save his own land steals the Heart of the North, kills its maker and casts an evil spell to cover his dark deeds. A counter spell is conjured to contain the evil but how long can it last. Can dogs, dragons and humans find the lost Heart of the North before the Creeping Dark destroys the Great Northern Forest and lays waste to their homes? What is Dragon Glass and what makes it so special? Is the young glass blower from Manchester a descendant of the maker of the Heart of the North? What is hidden on a dusty top shelf in the store room of the Glass Museum in Malaga Spain? There is so much to learn, so many questions to answer and so little time for our heroes to unravel the clues and twists of history and legend. Join the hunt for the Heart and follow the trail where ever it leads, but don’t linger on the way or you may be consumed by the CREEPING DARK.

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

I have a life long fight with the English language, having very wobbly spelling and a tenuous grasp on grammar. As a result of this, I wrote as little as possible till the advent of word processing packages then at least I could correct some of my shortcomings. I have been a copywriter for mail order catalogues which broadened my vocabulary when trying to find yet another different way to describe several almost identical products. As part of my sales and marketing career, I had to make presentations and give them. This disciplined me to write logical timelines and produce impact at beginning and end. Try Public speaking some time, it’s a great way to improve your writing and bring an understanding of the difference between written and spoken language. At some time I would love to give poetry a serious try but I find the restriction of very few and precise words beyond me most of the time.

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

The list is endless and it is very hard to pull out my favourite authors, but I will do my best not to write a book and bore you to death. Terry Pratchett and his Disc World books have given me immense joy over the years and great sorrow at his recent death. The vast imagination and joyous humour of his stories are beyond compare. My second choice is Neal Asher. He writes science fiction which explores the relationship between humans and artificial intelligence which could be hard work if his storylines and action packed plots didn’t drag the reader along at a breakneck pace. Steve McHugh is my third choice with his masterly interweaving of history, legend and the present day. Mix together magic, gods of every pantheon and a thrilling fast paced story line and you are in for a fast ride. Recently I have come across to new, independent authors who have gripped my reading. E.M. Swift-Hook who is currently producing the second trilogy in her fascinating story of the clash of medieval and sci-fi societies is a writer well worth getting to know. Her books are full of strong characters with plots that have more twists than a coil spring. The second is Robert Lee Beers. His books centre on a hard-bitten private eye whose cases cross the boundaries of time and the supernatural to give a fascinating insight into the ways of crime and evil. As all these writers have a number of books to their names, whichever one you pick you will have plenty to go at. 

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

I have a fairly catholic taste in reading material. My only must have is a good story line. I cannot bear are the sort of classic novels filled with dithering characters with too much money and time who fritter away their time on pointless trivia. I love Science fiction and fantasy both to read and write for the freedom to follow ideas to logical or illogical conclusions usually without getting locked up or causing wars or riots. I like military history as long as it’s not too packed with statistics and facts that they slow down the story. I read this, I don’t write it as I’m much too lazy to do the copious amounts of research necessary to get the facts straight. I have listed above some of my favourites but here I would include ant of Bernard Cornwell’s books particularly the Lords of the North series and the Sharpe series. Staying in the Napoleonic era I would also recommend any of Alexander Kent’s Bolitho books about the Royal Navy of that period. He can write a sea battle like no other and leave you wondering how any sailor survived the shot, shell and flying splinters. Just to show that I do read books by authors who are not British, I would include most of David Baldacci’s fiction books all of which are real page turners.

5. What do you do when you’re not writing? Is writing a part-time or full-time job?10391697_105921086085058_4141656_n

I read. I am lucky enough to be retired so can usually find time to keep my, to read list, from getting too long. I have always loved reading as a method of learning and visiting new places and ideas. As a child, I went through many torch batteries while reading under the bed covers after official lights out time. Since I became a writer and discovered how much a review means to an author I also try to write a review of the books I read and would encourage everyone to do the same. It doesn’t have to be lengthy or erudite, just a few lines to say what you liked or what could be improved are of real value. My other great pleasure is listening to the radio. I know its old fashioned but the special effects have always been much better than television and the scenery always coincides with my ideas of what things look like. 

6. Who is your favourite character from your Sprocket Sagas?

It has to be Mrs. Mumbly. She is an English Bull Terrier and is the toughest dog you could imagine. If you are unfamiliar with the breed then look them up on Google. They are short haired, bullet-headed with pointed ears and whippy tails. They look very fierce but if you offer a hard dog biscuit and a scratch between the ears you will have a friend for life. These dogs are totally loyal to their friends and will defend their loved ones to the death. If you meet one, be a friend. Never cross the dog world’s answer to an armoured vehicle. 

7. How is it like living in Britain? What are some things you love about the United Kingdom? Do you guys drink a lot of tea there? (I had to ask!)

I love and hate the weather. In the same day, we can experience at least three seasons and need to change outfits to suit. I love the fact that the English, in particular, are not uptight about who we are. It makes me smile when our Celtic neighbours get wound up about the ‘Old Enemy’. Clinging to the past can have a very negative effect on a nation. 

Yes we do drink a lot of tea and are very choosy about what tea we drink and how we brew it. What most of Europe and most of America forget is that tea needs boiling water and that coffee machines do not get the water hot enough to make a good cup of tea. 

My other delight is the BBC. From an early age their Children’ Hours on the radio (now sadly no longer broadcast) fired my imagination and being able to watch a whole program without being interrupted by the banal drivel of adverts is a blessing afforded to very few.  51bgt51b3gL._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_

8. Your books feature dragons and take place in Dragon World! Would you like one as a pet, and why or why not?

Yes, I would like a dragon but not as a pet. My dragons are sentient beings, so keeping one as a pet would be like keeping a slave. I would love a dragon friend but most of them are too big for houses and their appearance would tend to terrify people. Also, they must be kept away from liquorice as it gives them hiccoughs and that combined with the ability to breathe fire or ice can lead to disaster. Having a Seeker Dragon as a friend would save a fortune in petrol and air fares as I could use portals as a means of getting about. One of my aims in life is to give dragons a better press. They have mostly played the villain in stories but that was because of humans being frightened of the unusual and our tendency to try to wipe out that which we find threatening.

9. What is a regular day of writing to you?

There isn’t a regular writing day for me. I am completely undisciplined and come and go to and from my laptop as the ideas hit me. I am something of a believer in Terry Pratchett’s theory that Ideas sleet through the multiverse till they collide with a mind and if you don’t write them down quickly they will move on to someone more receptive. In this way I drift from project to project sometimes working for long periods while the story line flows and at others, bumbling about in my shed or garden as ideas sleet past. Being retired and a self-published author I don’t have editors or publishers setting deadlines for me. What a marvellously unstructured existence I lead, at least till my grandchildren put the pressure on.

10. How do you combat writer’s block?

I’m lucky. It hasn’t been much of a problem for me but on the odd occasion when a story line gets stuck up a dead end, I go and do something else till bits drop into place then go back to where things started to go wrong and re-write from there. I am waiting for a breakthrough in the second Sci-Fi book to see if it will be one or two books but if I wait much longer then it is likely to be more fact than fiction.

11. Have you written any other works? What are your current plans for your writing career?P1020353

There are now six stories in the Sprocket sagas and my eldest granddaughter is putting the pressure on for another full-length book, a longer one as it only took her about a week to read the last one. 

I have also written a short Science Fiction book ‘Sea Change’ and am writing a much longer sequel. There is also a short story, ’A waste of Skin’ which I have yet to publish. As I am a member of a speaker’s club I will be writing a number of pieces for verbal presentation. Some of my past speeches have been put up on Niume and can be read there. Anything which is on that site with the exception of the serialisation of the first Sprocket book is free to download. Find me on Amazon to see all my books.

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

There is only one main tip and that is to write. Until you have written down your ideas you have nothing to work on. In this day and age it is easy to cut and paste a piece of work to put in additional material or to alter an idea which has run into a brick wall but until you have a basic story on the screen or page there is nothing to improve. So don’t waste time trying to come up with the perfect novel in your head, get on and write. 

Thank you so much, Bryan, for coming onto our blog!

Check out Bryan’s social media pages here!

Website | Amazon | Facebook | Goodreads

Here is the giveaway! We are giving away two Kindle e-copies of Sprocket and the Heart of the North! Enter the giveaway below! The rules are in the Terms & Conditions (make sure you read them!).

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Hope you have a wonderful week! And make sure you share! 🙂

+ J.M.J.

~ Kester

Review: Ashes in the Sky by Jennifer M. Eaton

Hi guys! Tomorrow, I am going to attend the Southeastern Young Adult Book Festival in Murfreesboro, TN, and I am so excited! Because it’s tomorrow, I am posting this review of SE-YA author Jennifer M. Eaton’s Ashes in the Sky, which was really good!

Disclaimer: I received a free electronic copy of this book for being a part of the Embers in the Sea Blog Tour from the publisher. This will not affect my review.

ashesinthesky-v6-book2-final-v3Goodreads Synopsis: After inadvertently saving the world, eighteen-year-old Jessica Martinez is ready to put adventure behind her and settle back into the familiar routine of high school.

Though when she’s offered an opportunity to photograph the inside of an alien space ship, Jess jumps at the chance. After all, she’d be crazy to turn something like that down, right?

Spending time with David on the ship has definite advantages and the two seem to pick up right where they left off. But when Jess discovers a plot to sabotage David’s efforts to establish a new home for his people on another planet, neither David’s advanced tech nor Jess’s smarts will be able to save them.

ASHES IN THE SKY is an action-packed, romantic Sci Fi adventure that will leave readers screaming for more.

Rating: 9/10 stars

Overall Thoughts: Ashes in the Sky continues Jess and David’s adventure on the Erescopian ship outside of Earth. I definitely felt as if I was sucked into the books. I read through most of this book in one day since I could not put it down! My eyes were glued to the screen, for the story kept me hooked! The author definitely didn’t let me down in the sequel to Fire in the Woods!

Plot and Action (Strength): The book is so fast-paced that I tore through it with lightning speed! Eaton packed so much action, adventure, thrills, plot twists, and surprises galore that you never know what happens next! I never felt bored with the storyline since Jennifer packed so much action, adventure, and surprises into it! At times, I felt like as if I was watching an action movie! It was that great!

Characters (Strength): I loved Jess’s POV! At times I felt the same emotions she felt and wanted the same things she wanted. You could really feel her angst, her sorrow, and her tension, and this made me feel very sympathetic to her. I wanted what she wanted and became angry when she was angry! I love it when you could feel what the main character is feeling.

Similarities to the First Book (Weakness): My only pet peeve with this book is that it the story arc felt really similar to Fire in the Woods. It was so similar that it really didn’t feel too unique or as if it added something new to the story. As much as I liked reading this book, there could have been more to added to the arc in the entire series. In The Continuum Trilogy by Jennifer Brody, each book, even though they were all fast-paced, had their own touch and feel. The Fire in the Woods books just seem similar to me. The reason why I’m removing a star is that it could have been varied more so it would not have a similar feel like its predecessor, but I did enjoy them both equally.

Concluding Thoughts: Jennifer M. Eaton did a wonderful job continuing Jess and David’s escapades outside of Earth! I am definitely looking forward to ending the trilogy with the newly released Embers in the Sea! I have a great feeling that it’s going to be really good!

Have you read the Fire in the Woods Trilogy? Do you sci-fi books with aliens? What about trilogies? Comment below with your thoughts, and let’s chat soon!

+ J.M.J.

Happy Reading!

~ Kester

The United Continuums, by Jennifer Brody

Hi guys! I have this amazing, wonderful, super awesome book that I finished reading… and I don’t have any words to describe it other than it blew me away! It’s probably the best ever book I’ve read, and I am so glad that I was one of the first ever readers of this book! This book is so amazing because…. I’ll tell you in the review below! 😉

DISCLAIMER: I received a free uncorrected ARC proof from the author and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This will not affect my review in any way.the-united-continuums-cover

Goodreads Summary: 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.

Rating: 12/10 Stars

Oh my goodness! This book is officially my favorite book of all time! I devoured- and I mean I just could not stop reading this book- in 3 days, with 80% in just 2 days! That’s 360 pages in 2 days! I’ve never done that until The Continuum Trilogy. It exceeded my expectations so much! I loved every single minute of reading it! IT’S SUPER AMAZING!!!!!

The author sucked me into the story so much that I cried both internally and externally when I got to certain parts. It felt like an action movie at times that I would forget that I was reading a book. I literally could not put this down! Whenever I had a little time to read this, I always took up the opportunity. I finished nearly 60% in a single day! I rarely do that- and if the book was in print, that would be the equivalent of 270 pages. The author made me step into the shoes of the characters, actually become them, and see their sides of the story, thrusting me so much into the book that I cried and became worried and anxious whenever something bad happens to someone I liked. I truly felt the emotions of each one and became more sympathetic with them, and this made me love each and every one of them even more.

Jennifer packed so much action, adventure, thrill, suspense, and almost every single literary element you can think of in this book and molded it in a perfect way. Everything was thrown at me, and I loved it, like eating an entree that was packed with so much spice and flavor. I was on the edge of my seat the entire time, and there was so much tension in the air that there was a time that I did not feel it. The cliffhangers and plot twists made me crave to know more, making it harder for me to resist not reading it. I devoured this book, yet I savored every second of it. It truly sticks out from the regular YA dystopian novel, and it definitely beats The Hunger Games, Divergent, The Giver, and The Maze Runner combined!

The strongest element of this story is the plot. Although it has wonderful characters and character development and fascinating world building, the plot is probably the most memorable aspect of it. It’s so unpredictable that you can’t figure out what will happen next! There are so many surprises planted all throughout the book that you will go “What just happened?” at least a few times. The plot never dragged but never went too fast- a really nice pace- and all the ends were tied up. I could not find any holes or loose ends in the story, which led me to no questions, and that is a good thing! The only questions I had were just “What happens next?” questions. It gave me the right amount of storyline for me to be both content yet wanting more at the same time. The ending (no spoilers here) is an “left to the reader’s imagination on what happens next” ending. I want to know more, yet I feel sad that this is the finale to the trilogy. It truly was an amazing adventure to be on.

There is literally nothing wrong I have seen with this book although there were a few isolated spelling errors- but this is an uncorrected proof so I understand. The United Continuums was so good that it is officially my newest favorite book of all time! If I had to re-read a book, I would choose this one! You will not be disappointed with this book. It’s so awesome that I had no words to describe my reaction to the entire story. I was speechless.

Recommendation: 1000% Yes! I will definitely recommend this to anybody! (But you have to read the first two first, so get them!)

What are your favorite dystopian novels? What are you looking for in one? Comment below your thoughts, and we’d love to chat with you! And make sure to check out the giveaways for Marie Silk’s Davenport House and Melanie Ifield’s The Age of Corruption! You won’t be disappointed with them! Hurry now for a chance to win!

Exclusive Interview with Austin Aslan

Hi guys! Today I have an exclusive interview with an author that is very sentimental to me! It was actually become of Austin Aslan’s books that started my love for Young Adult fiction. I was so hesitant to read The Islands at the End of the World at first because of the length, but when I picked it up and opened it, I devoured it! It’s up in my favorites because it means so much to me! I’m so happy I’m able to interview this wonderful author, and I hope you enjoy this interview!

austin-aslan

 

1. What are your books The Islands at the End of the World and The Girl at the Center of the World about?sandiego1-body

Hi, Kester. Thanks for inviting me onto your blog. I’m excited to be here. ISLANDS AT THE END OF THE WORLD is a young adult disaster/survival novel with science-fiction elements. The story involves a catastrophic global blackout but it takes place entirely on the Hawaiian Islands. It’s about a 16 year-old girl named Leilani who is half white, half Hawaiian. She lives on the Big Island but she and her father are on the island of Oahu when the global blackout happens. The islands are suddenly thrust into darkness and isolation. No one knows what’s going on. As days without electricity, without airplane travel, and without food/gas shipments turn to weeks, tensions grow, hunger sets in, and the situation on the islands becomes desperate and violent. Lei and her dad set off on their own to get home to the Big Island by any means necessary. A lot of crazy things happen in this book, and there are some cool science-fiction things going on, too, but this novel is really about a strong father/daughter relationship that’s strained to the limits on a dangerous journey to get back home to family.

The sequel, THE GIRL AT THE CENTER OF THE WORLD, continues the saga started in the first book. GIRL is different from book one in a number of crucial ways. The difficult geography of Hawai`i, the sense of separation, the urgency to get home—these are all powerful, compelling story elements that come together to make ISLANDS wholly unique. Developing a fresh, exciting sequel to such a singular story was quite a challenge. With GIRL, I wasn’t interested in trying to repeat the feel of ISLANDS out of some unspoken sense of obligation to match what I had already done. I wanted to engage in a new kind of storytelling and a new set of scenarios. The important thing is that I returned to the characters! I think I hit just the right mix of old and new with GIRL.

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

I’ve always been a writer. I once turned in an 11-page short story in sophomore English class for a simple page-long vocabulary assignment. Looking back, one of the greatest insights of my life was long ago identifying writing as a possible way to escape my destiny. Writing is cheap. It costs NOTHING to put pencil to paper and go. What other creative pursuit can you engage in with the potential of making a career out of it without spending a dime? For the cost of a Number Two pencil and a notebook we can stop the globe spinning. We can blow up buildings. We can create and destroy entire lives, entire solar systems. We can make people cry and laugh and beg for more. It’s pretty astounding.

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

I grew up reading Stephen King and Douglas Adams and Michael Crichton. Almost exclusively. Not the greatest variety, unfortunately. But I caught up with reading all those books I was supposed to read in high school when I entered the Peace Corps. I read the 100 most influential English-language books of the 20th Century during those years. And it was important for my development as a writer to do so.

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

I have no favorite child, and the best books I’ve read are all unique enough to defy direct ranking against each other. But for what it’s worth, my best reads have all been somehow transcendental, somewhat epic in form, and illuminate something profound of the Human condition. 100 Years of Solitude and Love in the Time of Cholera fit the bill. LOTR does, too. Brothers Karamozov. The Gunslinger and The Shining. Cloud Atlas, for its sheer versatility. And one of the few series I read over and over again: Ursula K. LeGuin’s Earthsea books. Simply sublime. I don’t know what these books do to my own writing, except to humble me, and ignite my love for the written word.

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

I now write for a living. I NOW WRITE FOR A LIVING! I avoided a mid-life crisis by THIS much. I no longer shy away from that “What do YOU do for a living?” question at parties.  I’m cuter. I’m younger. (Not.)

I like to hike and backpack and get outdoors. I thru-hiked the entire Arizona National Scenic Trail last winter. It’s 800-miles long, absolutely gorgeous, and it took me almost three months to complete. You can read more about those adventures here: http://www.gore-tex.com/blog/author/a_aslan/

6. Have you been to Hawaii before? How was living there? How did your experience in Hawaii help shape the story?

I lived in Hilo, on the Big Island, when I was getting my masters degree in Tropical Conservation Biology. My field sites were high up on the forested slopes of Mauna Loa Volcano. I was coming home from a rainy day of doing pollination experiments with rare Hawaiian flowers and I drove down through the clouds and suddenly had a great, clear view of the ocean surrounding the island. I was struck by how alone and isolated the Hawaiian Islands were (this is something that people in Hawaii think about frequently, and it wasn’t a new thought for me, either). At that time, I happened to be thinking about a haunting post-apocalyptic book by Cormac McCarthy called THE ROAD. The idea popped into my head that it would be really interesting to set a post-apocalyptic story on the isolated Hawaiian Islands, and the story and characters just started flowing out of me like lava! I thought to myself, Everybody know what happens at the end of the world in New York and LA, but what would a global disaster mean for Islanders? 95% of Hawaii’s food is imported every day. The islands are home to 1.5 million people. If things got tough there, where would all those people go? There are no mountain ranges or Great Plains to escape to. Everyone is stuck. Hungry. No way to escape. When I arrived home at the end of my drive, I started writing the book immediately, that night, and I had my first draft finished 83 days later—all while going to class and doing field work for my degree!

7. Can you speak Hawaiian? Do you know any words?

I only know a few words of Hawaiian. The book doesn’t have much pidgin, and that was an editorial decision, as much as it was a product of the reality that I have no command of the dialect! My editor also works with Graham Salisbury, and they both long ago came to the conclusion that sales to general audiences dwindle as a direct function of how much pidgin appears in the text. Mainland readers just don’t have the patience to wade through too many unfamiliar words and phrases.

The biggest challenge for me was feeling comfortable and legitimate in writing about a Hawaiian main character and crafting a story deeply-rooted in Hawaiian cultures and traditions, even though I’m haole (white) and don’t come from the islands. I’m not Hawaiian, and there’s two problems with that. The obvious problem is that I don’t “know” the culture. There’s a lot to learn and I’m sure I’ve only scratched the surface. I’ll never be an expert, though the book has to feel authentic not only to general readers, but to islanders, as well. The more complex problem is that, as an outsider, I struggle with claiming the right to tell a story set in Hawaii. I’m not only writing as a half Hawaiian when I’m not one. I’m also writing about thorny scenarios involving “sovereign nation” perspectives, and one of my bad guys is pure Hawaiian (though most of my Hawaiian characters are very noble, and I try to make all of my characters, regardless of race, as three-dimensional as possible). This issue has a lot of complexity around it, and I’m most comfortable approaching it with a great deal of humility. Ultimately, I think that any author has the right to tell any story they want to. The question is: can you get away with it? Will your effort be respected? Will the people whose voice you’re trying to assume authenticate your attempt or not? So far, the books have been respectfully received in different circles. I feel that I’ve approached this dynamic with awareness, humility, honesty, and good faith.

8. Did you really appear in the movies The Getaway with Alec Baldwin and The Postman with Kevin Costner? Did you get to meet them? Who’s the biggest celebrity you have met?

Yes. And I did get to meet both of them. I had a slice of Pizza Hut pizza on location with Alec while we waited for the crew to set up the scene for a car chase. Kevin actually directed me in a few scenes during Postman filming. Super fun experience. Those are two of the biggest celebrities I’ve ever been around, if you don’t count national politicians (I’ve worked on projects with more than I can count in another job). I’m looking to round out my rolodex, though; know of any you could hook me up with?

9. What would you do if technology fails? Could you live without it?

We have become so reliant on certain technologies, basic and advanced, that their sudden loss would be catastrophic to the normal functioning of society. How long do you think it would take for the more unstable forces in our communities to run Henny Penny into the street and self-fulfill a falling sky?

Though, to be clear, I don’t think the conditions of your question will ever actually be met. I think that a “sudden lack of energy” befalling our world is highly unlikely. Loss of technology and the power with which to run it is much more likely to be a slow, gradual process that we don’t even realize we’re adapting to, if it happens at all.

10. You’ve performed research on rare Hawaiian plants. How was your work, and have you discovered anything new?

I studied mutualism:  some creatures help each other out for so long that after a while they turn into special species that need each other to survive.  Plants and birds (and a lot of plants and bugs) can do this.  Pollination is one way that plants and birds help each other out.  Birds can get food from the flowers of plants.  In return, the plants can transfer pollen from one plant to the next by using the birds.

In Hawaii, an example of this is Hawaiian honeycreepers and a type of plant called lobeliads.  The honeycreepers have very long bills, which they use to reach the food deep inside the very long flowers of the lobeliad plants.  When the bird visits the flower, it gets pollen on its head, and then brings the pollen to the next flower to help the plant reproduce (make new plants). But what happens when one of the two species goes extinct? What happens to the other species? Will it also go extinct? In my study example, the flower is now being pollinated by a newly-introduced bird from Japan. The conventional wisdom is that introduced species are bad for ecosystems, but my research has helped to develop a narrative within the scientific community that this issue is more complicated than we want to realize.

11. Could you describe your reaction when you got “the call” that your books will become published?

“The Call” is a misnomer, at least in my experience. It’s an involved process, spanning many days. I went back and forth with several editors from different houses, and all the while things remained in flux, though at some ambiguous point it became pretty clear that someone was going to make a final offer. I was sick in bed with a cold the day things got finalized. I was pretty ecstatic, and took my wife out to dinner, but it all kind of felt forced at the time.

I dreamed and dreamed and dreamed of becoming a published author, and I half expected my life to suddenly transform into glitz and glamor and whatever once I finally realized my dream (don’t we all day dream about that?). But the truth is that I believe that circumstances don’t change who people are. Change in one’s life comes from within; it’s rarely external. The good fortune I’ve had so far hasn’t changed who I am or how I act or who I hang out with. The biggest difference for me is that I’m now able to make writing my job. But I don’t actually feel that I’m writing more often than I used to. I’m just getting paid to do it now. So, it has freed me up somewhat, but that just means I have more time to attend to the thousand other responsibilities of raising a family!

12. Who was your favorite character to write about and why?img_6459

Leilani, for sure.

Leilani was such a miraculous surprise for me. I had no idea I could write someone like her. My “model” for her—my own daughter—was only seven years old at the time I wrote the novel. I did my best to project forward into her teenage years as I wrote. It seems to have worked out fairly well! Leilani is so awesome because she’s every bit as strong as Katniss Everdeen but she’s so much more. She operates in the real world, and her challenges are the kind that any one of us could face on a bad day. Her courage and her wits are exceptional, and she’s constantly saving her father rather than the other way around. She’s mixed race (half white, half Hawaiian), which presents its own set of hardships in our confusing world, especially in the context of a scenario in which society is unraveling at the seams! Leilani also suffers from epilepsy. Lei isn’t intended to be cool or special because she has a disability, or because she’s able to navigate a terrifying world in spite of her setbacks. She’s not inspirational or pitiable because of her disability. It’s just a part of her that she struggles with and manages, at times, to accept. It’s who she is.

Now, there are fantastical elements to this story. Lei finds herself in a position to make a big difference in the world. But she’s no “Chosen One.” I hope that’s sufficiently conveyed in the text. The abilities that she finds she has are not unique to her. She just happens to be in the right place at the right time to seize the moment and the initiative. Her successes and her failures are completely hers to choose. I don’t believe that she operates under any mandate of destiny, as occurs in so many fantasy and science-fiction stories, so, yeah, ironically, this is another big thing that makes Leilani special and unique.

And one last thing, since we’re on the subject. I’m very hopeful that readers will find Lei a very refreshing departure from the star-crossed girl who is inexplicably caught up in romantic engagements even though everyone has bigger problems at the moment. This book doesn’t have any love triangles. Lei is a sixteen-year-old girl who occasionally crosses paths with interesting guys, but the “love” in this has nothing to do with romance. It’s about family. It’s about her father. Something I hope most readers can connect with in a very real and visceral way.

One of the very first decisions I had to make before I started typing this story was whether I wanted my main character to be a boy or a girl. The choice was easy for me. I have a daughter. I could easily imagine myself as a father feeling the burden of keeping her safe if we were in the situation of my book, having to hop islands to get home while society disintegrates. It was scary to think about. I also knew I wanted to write a YA novel, so the youth had to be the main character. Once I was convinced that my MC would be a girl, writing as her wasn’t that hard. I just channeled my daughter as best I could and assumed (for better and for worse, in some cases) that for all the ways we like to portray boys and girls as impossibly different, they’re actually pretty similar. I think it worked out just fine. I was fortunate to find a voice for Leilani quickly, and then I just stayed authentic to that voice throughout the book. When my agent and I were shopping the novel around, an editor at a major publishing house said that she was surprised to learn that I was a guy. I was very flattered by that, and took it as a good sign that I had effectively managed to pull off a girl MC!

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

As a matter of fact, yes! Several projects. Different genres. I recently finished a draft of a new disaster adventure set later in the 21st century. I’m very fond of that project. I’m also developing a series of chapter books with an environmental theme. I have two fantasy project in the works, as well. In this industry, the key is to keep writing, and I plan to continue doing just that for the foreseeable future.

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

Keep writing. And by that, I mean new material. You may not find publication for your first project, no matter how polished and perfect you can eventually get it through revisions. (I’ve written seven books and only published two!) You need a wide array of projects to shop around. As they say, don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

I love that I’m living proof that perseverance will eventually pay off. If you want to be a published author badly enough, you can make it happen. Writing is one of those rare careers these days where new people still constantly break in and become successful. It is honestly true that agents and editors are looking at the quality of your material first and foremost. Who you are, where you came from, your education level, your rap sheet…none of these things matter in this business as much as your story, your characters, and your voice. Anybody can do this. It took me ten years and six novels to finally make it all the way through the door, but I always trusted in the system to judge me fairly and my learning and growth finally paid off. So, if you really, really, really want to publish a book, you will. The trick is, of course, that “really wanting it” recognizes that there are certain ways to play ball and you have to respect the process and you have to continuously hone your craft and strive to be a better writer. Getting published is like going to the Olympics…you honestly have to train HARD to make it. But it’s also better than going to the Olympics, because you don’t need to be born with an athletic body that predisposes you to competitive ability—you just need a sharp mind and a good story and LOTS of practice!

Thank you so much, Austin! It was fun interviewing you! Thank you for writing such brilliant books that made me interested in Young Adult fiction!

If you want to check out more of Austin’s works or social media accounts, click below to check them out!

Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Goodreads

Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble

Hope you enjoyed this interview! Please continue to share and like our posts, as well as follow us to keep track of our latest interviews and giveaways! Don’t forget we have two giveaways- Marie Silk and Melanie Ifield– so go check those out! And

 

 

100th Post: Interview + GIVEAWAY with Marie Silk!

Hi guys! Man, January is almost over! It has been an amazing month for LILbooKlovers. This is actually the 100th post of LILbooKlovers! Woo hoo! *cue streams and balloons* I am so happy to celebrate our 100th post with Marie Silk, a #1 Amazon bestseller who has had her book Heiress Interrupted placed in the goodie bags at the Golden Globes- the movie and TV show Golden Globes- and the Producers Guild Awards! I loved her first book, and I hope you will enjoy this interview and enter the giveaway below!

We have also nearly tripled our views this month and have met a ton of amazing authors and bloggers! I have definitely enjoyed this month with all of you! To end off January, here is an exclusive interview and GIVEAWAY with Marie Silk. Marie Silk’s book Heiress Interrupted was actually put into the goodie bags at this year’s Golden Globe- the Golden Globes where Jimmy Fallon sang an opening number that parodied La La Land– and the Producers Guild Awards! Marie is also an #1 Amazon bestselling author and the #87 author in Historical Fiction on Amazon! If you want to win her amazing book series (I loved the first book Davenport House), then enter below!

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1. What is your Davenport House series about?photo-7

The Davenport House series follows the lives of a wealthy family and their servants in 1915 America.  The house is turned upside down with the sudden death of the patriarch.  This tragedy sets into motion a chain of events which affects everyone on the estate, including the workers.

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

I love writing because I know how enjoyable it is for me to read a story that originated in the imaginations of other writers. I hope to bring that enjoyment to others.  It’s hard to remember a time that I wasn’t writing. When I was ten years old, I was sent with some other students to organize the storage room at school.  I remember being intrigued by the puppets and theatrical props that were in there. I went home and wrote a play that would use the props. The teachers at school liked the script and we later produced the play for the students.  This was probably the first time I realized that I could write a story.  It was fun!

Continue reading “100th Post: Interview + GIVEAWAY with Marie Silk!”

Damaged Goods Blog Tour: Interview with Jennifer Bardsley

Hi guys! If you’re here on the Damaged Goods blog tour, welcome to my tour stop! What a great way to end the tour, huh? This series is actually one of my most anticipated reads of 2016! I can’t wait to start it! And today, I have the honor to interview the lovely Jennifer Bardsley, also known as the YA Gal! (*internally screaming insider because I’m so happy I got to interview her*). Let’s get on with the tour!

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Title: DAMAGED GOODS (Blank Slate #2)

Author: Jennifer Bardsley

Pub. Date: January 17, 2017

Publisher: Month9Books

Format: Hardcover, Paperback, eBook

Pages: 300

Find it: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | TBD

Synopsis:

Blanca has everything she ever wanted, a hot boyfriend named Seth and the loving support of her foster father, Cal. She’s finally escaped the abusive control of her birth father, Barbelo Nemo, and her tortured childhood at Tabula Rasa School.

But the scars of Blanca’s Vestal upbringing run deep, especially when the FBI start asking questions. Blanca feels abandoned by Seth who is hunting for Lilith, Blanca’s only blood relative. The Defectos, a support group of Vestal-Rejects, offer Blanca comfort instead.

While the Vestal order crumbles, Chinese rivals called the Guardians rise to power and wrest control of important Tabula Rasa contacts. Now Blanca’s life is in peril once more, and this time, Blanca struggles to recognize friend from foe.

 

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Title: GENESIS GIRL (Blank Slate #1)

Author: Jennifer Bardsley

Pub. Date: June 14, 2016

Publisher: Month9Books

Format: Hardcover, Paperback, eBook

Pages: 280

Find it: Goodreads | Amazon |  B&N | iBooks | Kobo | Books A Million | Google Play | IndieBound

Synopsis:

Eighteen-year-old Blanca has lived a sheltered life. Her entire childhood has been spent at Tabula Rasa School where she’s been protected from the Internet. 

Blanca has never been online and doesn’t even know how to text. Her lack of a virtual footprint makes her extremely valuable, and upon graduation, Blanca and those like her are sold to the highest bidders.

Blanca is purchased by Cal McNeal, who uses her to achieve personal gain. But the McNeals are soon horrified by just how obedient and non-defiant Blanca is. All those mind-numbing years locked away from society have made her mind almost impenetrable. 

By the time Blanca is ready to think for herself, she is trapped. Her only chance of escape is to go online. 

 

About Jennifer: jennifer-bardsley

Jennifer Bardsley writes the parenting column “I Brake for Moms” for the Sunday edition of The Everett Daily HeraldShe also blogs at Teaching My Baby to Read with the mission of sparking a national debate on the important roll parents play in education. Jennifer is a graduate of Stanford University and a member of SCBWI. She lives with her husband and two children in Edmonds, WA.

GENESIS GIRL will release in 2016 and is about an 18 year-old girl whose lack of a virtual footprint makes her so valuable that she is auctioned off to the highest bidder, the sequel  will come out in 2017. Jennifer is represented by Liza Fleissig of the Liza Royce Literary Agency LLC.

Follow the Jennifer on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and Goodreads.

 

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Interview with Jennifer Bardsley:

Kester: In your own words, what is your Blank Slate series about?

Jennifer: The Blank Slate series is about a teenager named Blanca who grew up in a quasi-religious cult called the Vestals, where she was shielded from the Internet for eighteen years. Blanca grew up with no online profile or digital footprint. All the Vestals were blank slates, and since that is so rare, it made them valuable. In GENESIS GIRL Blanca’s digital purity gets auctioned off to the highest bidder. In DAMAGED GOODS, Blanca struggles to overcome the brainwashing of her past.

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

Jennifer: I grew up keeping a diary. It’s really hard to commit to a diary, and I flaked out a whole bunch, but did manage to write a few times a month. Now I have diaries from when I was ten to fifteen that I treasure. If I was a teenager today though, I’d probably have an anonymous blog instead.

Continue reading “Damaged Goods Blog Tour: Interview with Jennifer Bardsley”