ARC Review: This Darkness Mine by Mindy McGinnis

Hi guys! Man, September is halfway done! This is probably one of the busiest months of the entire school year, especially with so many things like auditions and tests going around at this time. Thankfully, I am able to finish a book or two every week or two, which is good compared to my busy schedule right now. Today I am so glad to be reviewing Mindy McGinnis’s This Darkness Mine, which I was jumping up and down when I received it in the mail from Harper Collins. I hope you enjoy!


About the Book30249925

Sasha Stone knows her place—first-chair clarinet, top of her class, and at the side of her oxford-wearing boyfriend. She’s worked her entire life to ensure that her path to Oberlin Conservatory as a star musician is perfectly paved.

But suddenly there’s a fork in the road, in the shape of Isaac Harver. Her body shifts toward him when he walks by, her skin misses his touch even though she’s never known it, and she relishes the smell of him—smoke, beer, and trouble—all the things she’s avoided to get where she is. Even worse, every time he’s near Sasha, her heart stops, literally. Why does he know her so well—too well—and she doesn’t know him at all?

Sasha discovers that her by-the-book life began by ending another’s: the twin sister she absorbed in the womb. But that doesn’t explain the gaps of missing time in her practice schedule or the memories she has of things she certainly never did with Isaac. As Sasha loses her much-cherished control, her life—and heart—become more entangled with Isaac. Armed with the knowledge that her heart might not be hers alone, Sasha must decide what she’s willing to do—and who she’s willing to hurt—to take it back.

Edgar Award–winning author Mindy McGinnis delivers a dark and gripping psychological thriller about a girl at war with herself, and what it really means to be good or bad.

Goodreads


4 Stars

Disclaimer: I received a free ARC copy of this book from Katherine Tegen Books and the author in exchange for an honest review. This will not affect my review in any way.

This Darkness Mine is definitely one of the most chilling and creepiest (and strangest) stories I have ever read. I fell in love with McGinnis’s novel from the very beginning, and I found my eyes glued to the pages. It’s very unique, and I mean unique. My mind is still reeling from the aftereffects of this book as I write this review. The author definitely did not disappoint with her latest YA novel; I will easily remember This Darkness Mine as one of the most haunting and makes-your-heart-pound psychological thrillers I have ever read. I am in awe of McGinnis’s writing style and creative imagination in her stories, the first book of hers I read being The Female of the Species. Now I just want to read more of her books!

Continue reading “ARC Review: This Darkness Mine by Mindy McGinnis”

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Exclusive Interview with Maggie Ann Martin, Debut Author of The Big F!

Hi guys! Today on the blog, I am interviewing debut author Maggie Ann Martin about her book The Big F, which looks really cool and awesome! I’ve heard many great things about this book, and you don’t want to miss it! What’s really special is that it is releasing TOMORROW from Swoon Reads! So go pre-order or order it right now because you want to read this book!


About The Big F30046340

Danielle effed up. Big time.

Danielle’s plans for the future were pretty easy to figure out… until she failed senior English and her single college application was denied. Suddenly she’s in hot water with very few options, because honestly who applies to a safety school when their mom is a semi-famous “college psychic”?!

Determined to get her life back on track, Danielle enrolls in her hometown community college with a plan: pass her English class and get back into Ohio State and her mother’s good graces. Romance isn’t on her radar… until she reconnects with her childhood crush and golden-boy-next-door, Luke.

Between family drama, first love and finding her own way, Danielle can’t help but feel a little overwhelmed. Thankfully she has her friendship with the snarky and frustratingly attractive Porter, her coworker at the campus bookstore, to push her to experience new things and help keep her afloat.

One thing’s for sure: This time, failure’s not an option.


Maggie Ann Martin

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

I’ve loved writing since I was little! Growing up, there were these story ideas always bouncing around in my head, and when I couldn’t find a book that I wanted to read that focused on a topic that I was interested, I wrote it.

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

My first love was definitely fantasy because of my love for the Harry Potter books. I really got into contemporary books after I read Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins and have been hooked on the genre ever since. I love that in contemporary books, you get to see the real world that you inhabit through a new person’s perspective.

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

When I’m not writing, I’m a social media community manager at Sculpt. The short description of my job is that I get to Tweet, Facebook, Instagram, Snap (you name the social media channel, we’re probably on it) for my clients. It’s pretty rad. MaggieAnnMartin2

4. Your debut novel The Big F follows the story of Danielle who is denied acceptance into the only college that she applied, which her “college psychic” mom chose for her, and has to work to get back into Ohio State. What is your most memorable or most hilarious moment from high school that you would like to share with us?

I was such a rule follower in high school! I don’t think I have anything particularly outlandish or hilarious that happened to me, but I did value my friendships. I was a super proud band nerd (still am, band nerds unite), was involved with the school paper, and did all of the school plays that I could possibly be in. I think I was too overbooked for anything wild to happen to me! Ha!

Continue reading “Exclusive Interview with Maggie Ann Martin, Debut Author of The Big F!”

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”

My July Reading Re-Cap!

Hi guys! July has been a crazy but amazing month for me. I finished my Goodreads challenge of 52 books (yay me!) with Tash Hearts Tolstoy, so now I don’t have to worry about being behind on my challenge! I know I didn’t get much reading done this month since I was gone for a week to engineering camp (which was such an amazing experience) and a small vacation in the mountains afterwards, but I’m back! School has just started for me, so I’ll be less active here due to me prioritizing school work and school-related activities, but I’ll still do my best to post for you! Here’s what I read in July, and I hope you enjoy!

July Reading Re-Cap


4 Stars

The Fever Code by James Dashner

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This is How It Happened by Paula Stokes

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Jaded by K. M. Robinson

Jaded

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Lucky Few by Kathryn Ormsbee

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3 Stars

The Government by Peter Gulgowski

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Tash Hearts Tolstoy
by Kathryn Ormsbee

-3

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So I’ve only read 6 books this month, and no 5 star books sadly. Hopefully August gives me a few new favorites like June did!

What have you read in July? Have you read any of these books? Comment below, and let’s chat!

Happy Reading!

+ J.M.J.

~ Kester

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Summer of Authors Finale!: Exclusive Interview with Patty Blount, author of The Way It Hurts

Hi guys! Today is the last day of July, so that means that the Summer of Authors has come to an end! Wow, 16 interviews and guest posts in 2 months? In the upcoming months, we’re limiting the number of guest authors we have on the blog, but we’re still going to have some amazing authors, so you don’t want to miss them! To conclude the Summer of Authors, we’re having Patty Blount, award-winning author of Some Boys and Send! Tomorrow, she is releasing her newest book The Way It Hurts, and you don’t want to miss it! I’m so glad I’m having her on the blog today to talk about her latest book and some other fun stuff, so I hope you enjoy!


About The Way It Hurts32841616

There may be two sides to every story, but sometimes there’s only one way to set things right…

Music is Elijah’s life. His band plays loud and hard, and he’ll do anything to get them a big break. He needs that success to help take care of his sister, who has special needs. So he’d rather be practicing when his friends drag him to a musical in the next town…until the lead starts to sing.

Kristen dreams of a career on stage like her grandmother’s. She knows she needs an edge to get into a competitive theater program―and being the star in her high school musical isn’t going to cut it. The applause and the attention only encourage her to work harder.

Elijah can’t take his eyes off of Kristen’s performance, and snaps a photo of her in costume that he posts online with a comment that everybody misunderstands. It goes viral.  It goes viral. Suddenly, Elijah and Kristen are in a new spotlight as the online backlash spins out of control. And the consequences are bigger than they both could have ever imagined because these threats don’t stay online…they follow them into real life.


Patty Blount

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

PB:  I loved reading. Books are magic! Books that make me cry, break my heart, laugh, or breathe hard in fright are incredible mystical feats.  Books have been my escape, my bliss, my friends and my hope since I was little. I’m not sure when I began dreaming of writing books of my own. It’s always been there. But I never thought I was good enough. And then one day, I decided I had to try and find out for sure. I guess I wanted to be the kind of magician who could make other readers cry, laugh, gasp, or fight.

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

I read all genres. I grew up on Nancy Drew mysteries and later Harlequin romances. I’m a big Nora Roberts fan. I love science fiction – particularly Jeff Somers. I adore Katie McGarry’s Pushing the Limits series. I think every author I read influences me a little.

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

Writing is fulltime but I also have a fulltime day job. I write instructional materials for a large corporation. When I’m not writing or working, I’m probably reading!

328416164. Your latest novel The Way It Hurts releases tomorrow August 1st, and it features two teens whose lives revolve around music and their goals for fame and success. Is music a big part of your life like Elijah and Kristen? What are some of your favorite bands?

My taste in music is pretty broad. I’m a big Neil Diamond fan. I love hard metal, too. Drowning Pool, Thousand Foot Krutch, Disturbed, Skillet, Metallica. Still love Bon Jovi. And lately, I’m loving The Zac Brown Band. I’m not the least bit musical but music does influence me. It sets my mood. Like there’s NO way to be sad after you listen to Shut Up and Dance; it’s just such a fun song.

5. Many of books, such The Way It Hurts and Some Boys, explores the themes of cyber-bullying, online trolling, sexism, and rape culture. What made you passionate about these topics, and how do you want your novels to impact readers, regardless of gender?

I almost lost my oldest son to suicide back when he was in sixth grade. He was bullied so badly, it’s left lasting scars. But back then, he didn’t yet have a phone and wasn’t online. I am so grateful for that because I’m sure if had either, I would have lost him. I think social media exacerbates the impact by extending the reach of bullies and I want readers to understand it’s not a game when they use social networks to spread hate.

6. If you were to form a band, what role would you be, and what would you name the group? Which genre of music would you probably perform?

If I were musical, I’d play lead guitar in a rock band. We’d be called Serial Comma. Or maybe I’d sing.

7. You’ve already written and contributed to nine books! That’s amazing! Out of all of them, which one is your favorite? Which novel was the most challenging to write?

Ooo, this is hard. They’re all my favorite at some point. I think I love NOTHING LEFT TO BURN the most. The most challenging to write is always the one I’m currently working on. Always! I reach a point where the words all suck and the characters annoy me. But I soldier on and do my best to write past that doubt.

Patty-Blount_052_F-240x3008. What about contemporary romance novels drew you as an author and reader to start writing books in that genre?

I would love to write other sub-genres like suspense, horror, etc. I adore romance because it fills me with hope. I have a ghost story that’s still unpublished. And a bit of a rom-com called Crossing the Line that’s about teen race car drivers. I may self-pub them one day. As much as I enjoy reading about magic, I am drawn to contemporary romance because I think that’s the kind of magic I can believe in after I’ve closed the book. It endures.

9. In addition to be an author, you are also a blogger and contributor at YA Outside the Lines. How did you become a part of YA Outside the Lines, and what is it like being a part of the blog?

Oh, I love my Outsider family! It’s by invitation. The incredible author, Kimberly Sabatini, author of TOUCHING THE SURFACE, invited me. This is a fantastic group of YA authors and I’ve only met a few of them in real life. We’re all at different stages of our writing careers, so collaborating on the blog is a great way to learn from masters. Take Bill Cameron, for example. He’s a gifted author of mysteries who just released his first YA. He has the most imaginative ways of showing you the seedy underbelly of life. I find his phrases stick in my brain .

1850968310. Which emojis would you use to describe your reaction whenever your books are nominated for or win an award or accolade, such as a Firecracker Award and a RITA Finalist for Some Boys and a Junior Library Guild Fall Pick for Send? Explain (with words 😉) your choices.

Smiling face/ Astonished face with open mouth/ hearts and lots of exclamation points!!

11. What are you currently working on, and what can we expect from you in the future?

I’m working on a companion story to Some Boys that’s not yet titled. It’s based on the Brock Turner sentence. In this story, the dual narrators are brother and sister and though the book has romances for both characters, it’s not the main focus. The family bond is the story…and how surviving a rape and managing the lack of justice impacts everybody in that family.

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

Read. Read as much as you can and decide what you like and why. Pay attention to the books that make your pulse pound, your eyes tear, and your heart ache. Then study how those authors did that to you. That’s magic right there. Learn and incorporate their magic into your own. For example, I love how Jeff Somers writes a fight scene. He deliberately slows down the action so I feel every hit. I’ve closed his books sweating like I ran a marathon.

And I like how Nora Roberts write a love scene so it feels like I’m the one being kissed. She immerses you in pure emotion. So now I try to make my characters’ emotions that deep, that intense.

If you want to be scared, read Dean Koontz and Stephen King. Study how they develop their monsters.

You don’t copy and you don’t mimic. You learn which means you figure out how to incorporate those results, those impacts, into your own narrative voice.

Thanks so much Patty for coming onto our blog!!! 🙂


About the AuthorPatty-Blount_052_F-240x300

Patty Blount grew up quiet and somewhat invisible in Queens, NY, but found her voice writing smart and strong characters willing to fight for what’s right. Today, she’s the award-winning author of edgy, realistic, gut-wrenching contemporary and young adult romance. Still a bit introverted, she gets lost often, eats way too much chocolate, and tends to develop mad, passionate crushes on fictional characters…and Gilles Marini….and Sam Heughan. Let’s be real; Patty’s not nearly as cool as her characters, but she is a solid supporter of women’s rights and loves delivering school presentations.

Patty is best known for her internet issues novels, including SOME BOYS, a 2015 CLMP Firecracker winner and SEND, a 2012 Junior Library Guild Fall Pick. Visit her website at pattyblount.com, where you can sign up for her newsletter. She blogs at YA Outside the Lines and is also active on Twitter and Facebook. When she’s not writing, Patty loves to watch bad sci-fi movies, live tweeting the hilarity, and scour Pinterest for ideas on awesome bookcases. Patty lives on Long Island with her family in a house that, sadly, lacks bookcases. She loves hearing from readers, especially when they tell her she’s cool (even though she knows it’s not true), and is easily bribed with chocolate. Never underestimate the power of chocolate.

Patty is highly visible online. Follow her here:
Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Tumblr | Wattpad | Goodreads


Happy Reading!

+ J.M.J.

~ Kester

Are you excited about The Way It Hurts? Have you read any of Patty’s books?

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

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Brooding YA Hero Challenge: Why I Love YA Contemporary! + ARC Review: This is How It Happened by Paula Stokes

Hi guys! So I’m back from engineering camp, which I miss so much! I had such an amazing time learning how to program lasers and coding software, and I made so many great friends that I wish I could see soon. Because school is starting up in exactly a week, I’ll be less active here on the blog and on social media since I’ll be working more on my extracurriculars and academics.

Speaking, of social media, let’s talk about this week’s Brooding YA Hero Challenge: YA Contemporary! YA Contemporary is a genre everyone either loves or hates, but I love it! It’s such an amazing genre and many of the books I’ve read and LOVED this year (When Dimple Met Rishi, The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett, This is How It Happened, The Female of the Species) are YA contemporary.

YA Contemporary actually is a genre that could easily relate to you. It touches upon topics that are prominent in today’s modern world. The characters can easily connect with your situations and challenges because you can possibly go through that same thing. Today I’m going to review Paula Stokes’s This is How It Happened, which talks about the dangers of online shaming, a topic that needs to be addressed. Why I love this genre so much is that it can change the readers’ viewpoints on these issues in a context that could possibly happen today. Contemporary shows me that you don’t need an elaborate fantasy world or futuristic sci-fi technology to change someone’s life; you can do it in the backdrop of a normal high school, where someone is being bullied, or where someone is going through an addiction, or someone is going through financial troubles. It’s a genre that a reader can go “I know how you feel.” This is How It Happened is one of my favorite YA Contemporary reads of 2017 because it accomplishes that. It shows me the consequences of our actions in OUR world. I hope you can love YA Contemporary as much as I do because it truly is an impactful and powerful genre.


About the Book30289938

Somehow I’ve become a liar. A coward. Here’s how it happened.

When Genevieve Grace wakes up from a coma, she can’t remember the car crash that injured her and killed her boyfriend Dallas, a YouTube star who had just released his first album. Genevieve knows she was there, and that there was another driver, a man named Brad Freeman, who everyone assumes is guilty. But as she slowly pieces together the night of the accident, Genevieve is hit with a sickening sense of dread—that maybe she had something to do with what happened.

As the internet rages against Brad Freeman, condemning him in a brutal trial by social media, Genevieve escapes to her father’s house, where she can hide from reporters and spend the summer volunteering in beautiful Zion National Park. But she quickly realizes that she can’t run away from the accident, or the terrible aftermath of it all.

Incredibly thought-provoking and beautifully told, Paula Stokes’s story will compel readers to examine the consequences of making mistakes in a world where the internet is always watching…and judging.

Goodreads


4 Stars

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

Overall Thoughts: This book is a must-read, and I mean it! The Internet is such a big part in our everyday lives that we do not know a lot the consequences of our actions on their and what effect they have on others, and we teens especially have a lot to learn. This is How It Happened opened my eyes up to online shaming and how even just one hurtful Tweet can build up to hurt not only those who are being targeted but others around them. This is actually my first Paula Stokes book, and I’m very impressed with not only her writing style but also the messages she had in the books. I urge you to pick up this book because it truly can change your life and what you do both in real life and on the Internet.

Thought-Provoking Messages: Stokes will definitely change your view on online shaming, and she shows how people can easily judge others online without knowing the full facts. Throughout the book, the author adds in comments and Tweets about articles and events in the novel, and they will definitely open up your eyes. I know mine did. I saw how hatred towards someone who people deem as “evil” can lead to all sorts of unintended consequences. What the book emphasizes is that we may not think that our one Tweet will do a lot, but when it combines will thousands of other people, they can drastically affect the lives of those targeted. Stokes shows that victims are not only labeled and shamed, but are driven to even the point of suicide. She shows that people who are acquainted with the victim, whether it’s friends, family, co-workers, etc., can have their lives change for the worse. This is How It Happened is an unforgettable thriller that you cannot put down and that will stick with you for a while. She also talks about another topic (it’s related to impaired driving) that if I talk more about, it could spoil the book, but please, once you’re done, read the author’s note!

Writing Style and Prose: I loved the writing style of Paula Stokes. She made me think, a LOT, and I love that! I failed at stopping and saying “Just one more chapter” because she ends each chapter with such a thought-provoking sentence that makes you go “What happens next?” Her writing is so thought-provoking that I have page flapped a ton of passages because I loved how uniquely she wrote the book. She combined both articles and comments to show how online shaming has gotten very out of hand, and it’s an amazing and accurate portrayal of what actually goes on the Internet. It’s a one of a kind book that is very unforgettable! She truly transported me into the book, as if I was reading the articles on the computer or sitting in Zion National Park looking out at the view. It is a very memorable book!

Slower Beginning: It took me about half the book to get really into it, which is one of my only problems with the novel. I truly didn’t get the “I’m transported into the book and the outside world disappears” feeling until the middle, and then from there, I just could not stop. I think it had to do how the main theme of online shaming didn’t really punch you in the gut until the middle, but overall I enjoyed this book. Once I got nearer to the end, it was if I was actually in the book and watching it unfold before my eyes! Although it may not be a favorite, it still is a book that I will treasure on my shelves.

Concluding Thoughts: I really recommend this book to EVERYONE! It will change your life and help you be careful of what you say both online and in reality. The author wakes up readers to how what we say online may not seem much, but they could have drastic consequences on those targeted and those around them. It is a stunning, thought-provoking thriller that you will not be able to put down. Now I’m really looking forward to reading more of Stokes’s books in the future because she is such an amazing and talented writer. I know I’ve said this already many times, but This is How It Happened is a book that will stick with you for a long. It’s a must read for not only teens, but anyone on the Internet.


About Brooding YA Hero33799449

Have you ever wished you could receive a little guidance from your favorite book boyfriend? Ever dreamed of being the Chosen One in a YA novel? Want to know all the secrets of surviving the dreaded plot twist?

Or maybe you’re just really confused about what “opal-tinted, luminous cerulean orbs” actually are?

Well, popular Twitter personality @broodingYAhero is here to help as he tackles the final frontier in his media dominance: writing a book. Join Broody McHottiepants as he attempts to pen Brooding YA Hero: Becoming a Main Character (Almost) as Awesome as Me, a “self-help” guide (with activities–you always need activities) that lovingly pokes fun at the YA tropes that we roll our eyes at, but secretly love.

As his nefarious ex, Blondie DeMeani, attempts to thwart him at every turn, Broody overcomes to detail, among other topics, how to choose your genre, how to keep your love interest engaged (while maintaining lead character status), his secret formula for guaranteed love triangle success, and how to make sure you secure that sequel, all while keeping his hair perfectly coiffed and never breaking a sweat.

Goodreads


Happy Reading!

+ J.M.J.

~ Kester

Do you love YA Contemporary? Have you read This is How It Happened?

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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!


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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!

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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

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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!”

Summer of Authors #12: Exclusive Interview with Leslie Hauser, author of Chasing Eveline!

Hi guys! I am currently at an engineering camp right now, so I am taking a blogging/social media hiatus for the meantime, but I’ll be back by next week. I got a few posts scheduled for you, but I won’t be editing any posts and I’ll be not too active on social media. If you need me, just shoot me an email or DM on Twitter, but know that it’ll take a bit for me to reply since I’ll be really busy. 😉 Today, I’m welcoming Leslie Hauser, the author of Chasing Eveline, which sounds super interesting (Music is a big part of my life, so that’s why!). Cayli loved Hauser’s debut (review can be found here) and I have the amazing opportunity to interview her! Hope you enjoy!


About Chasing Eveline26631470

Sixteen-year-old Ivy Higgins is the only student at Carmel Heights High School who listens to cassettes. And her binder is the only one decorated with album artwork by 80s band Chasing Eveline. Despite being broken-up since 1989, this rock band out of Ireland means everything to Ivy. They’re a reminder of her mom, who abandoned Ivy and her dad two years ago. Now the music of her mom’s favorite band is the only connection she has left.

Even though Ivy wavers between anger and a yearning to reconnect, she’s one-hundred percent certain she’s not ready to lose her mom forever. But the only surefire way to locate her would be at a Chasing Eveline concert. So with help from her lone friend Matt—an equally abandoned soul and indie music enthusiast—Ivy hatches a plan to reunite the band.

The road to Ireland won’t be easy, though. And not just because there is no road. Along the way they’ll have to win over their Lady Gaga-loving peers, tangle with some frisky meerkats, and oh yeah, somehow find and persuade the four members to play a reunion gig. It’s a near-impossible task, but Ivy has to try. If she can’t let go of the past, she’ll never be able to find joy in the present.


 Leslie Hauser.PNG

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

I can’t pinpoint an exact event or moment that ignited my passion for writing, but I think it stems from my imagination. When I was younger, I had two imaginary friends: People and Kikibrumbrum. I cannot explain the names 🙂 , sorry! But I seem to have always had wild stories and imaginary people swirling about in my mind, and that has led me to want to be a writer.

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

I mainly read contemporary YA. So much so that I was hesitant to read Harry Potter. I didn’t think I’d like it. (I ended up loving it!) Sarah Dessen’s The Truth About Forever is the book that hooked me on YA contemporary. I was reading mostly adult fiction at that time, and a friend recommended that book. I fell in love with YA and that story, and I was hooked.IMG_4397

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

Writing is part-time, though I’d love to make it my full-time job. When I’m not writing, I’m spending time with family and friends, reading, running, and doing CrossFit. But my main occupation is entertaining Mr. Darcy. He is one spoiled dog (but quite a gentleman)!

4. Your debut novel Chasing Eveline follows Ivy as she tries to reunite her favorite band Chasing Eveline, an 80s rock band based out of Ireland, in an attempt to find her mother, who abandoned her two years ago. Was Chasing Eveline inspired by any real life bands or artists? Do you and Ivy share the same taste of music? (I’m more an oldies person myself!)

Great question! The band Chasing Eveline is not based on any one particular band, but it is influenced by several of my favorite bands from the 80s: The Cure, Depeche Mode, and The Smiths.  I channeled into my Chasing Eveline songs all the feelings those bands evoked in me. Ivy and I definitely have the same taste in music. I’m not a big fan of today’s pop music either. I prefer the indie bands that don’t get much play on the radio, and I love listening to songs from the 70s and 80s.

5. Did you base any of Ivy’s characteristics and experiences off of you or anyone you know?

Ivy was a pretty easy character to write because I gave her a lot of my own sarcasm and my way of believing that there’s always hope (even when it’s pretty clear to everyone there is no hope! haha). There’s a scene with her dad that was pretty tough to write because it was based on something real that I experienced with my dad. But everything else is pure imagination. Even the meerkat scene! You must read the book if only for that 🙂

6. Since Chasing Eveline is based out of Ireland, have you ever been there? If so, what were some of your fondest memories from your trip? If not, what are some places and things you want to see and do?

Yes, I’ve been to Ireland. I looooved it! My favorite part was how friendly everyone was. But I also loved how beautiful it is there. One of my best days there was the day I ate fish and chips out of a newspaper by the side of the road! I also drove while I was there (on the wrong side!) and that was quite an adventure. I’m anxious to return!26631470

7. Music and 80s pop culture is prominent all throughout Chasing Eveline! What is it about the 80s that you love so much? If you had to go into a bunker and you could only bring one album and one movie from the 80s (provided you have a stereo and a TV without connection), what would you choose?

I love all the crazy styles of the 80s. Fluorescent and jellies! So awful and yet so great at the same time 🙂 I would take Louder Than Bombs by The Smiths and Pretty in Pink with me into a bunker. I’d never get tired of either!

8. In addition to being a YA novelist, you are a middle school teacher. How is it like teaching middle grade students? Do you have any funny experiences that happened to you in class that you would like to share? (I know that 6th– 8th graders can be a handful. Believe me, I was one a few years ago!)

Middle school is a blast. It really is. Currently I teach sixth grade English and history, but I’ve taught all the middle grades. I love sixth grade because they are still enthusiastic about learning and reading. Every day there are funny experiences! The kids I teach are pretty nice, so there’s lots of laughing all day long. Mostly it’s them laughing at me trying to be funny, but that’s what I love about it! 🙂

9. In your bio, you say that you dream is to return to the Midwest either owning a farm or a cookie delivery service. How do you envision your future farm or service to look like?

LHauser author picture_smaller size (1)I want to live on a horse farm. I know nothing about horses, so I’d have to be rich enough to hire someone to take care of that! But I love the wide open spaces and the green rolling hills of Kentucky. And I think the world needs a cookie delivery service for people like me who can’t buy a whole pack of cookies and not eat them all at once! But after dinner, don’t you sometimes just want a little treat? I need one cookie at a time—thus that cookie delivery service 🙂

10. How do you tackle writer’s block whenever it hits you?

I watch TV or Google Princess Kate or find cat gifs to send to my friends! I am great at avoidance. But usually if I take a break, my brain stops the sit-in protest and the ideas will form.

11. What can we expect from you in the future? Do you have any secrets you would like to share?

I’m super excited about this YA contemp that I’m currently writing. If I stay on track, it will be finished by mid-August. I’m keeping it a secret for now, but I hope it makes its way into the world. 🙂 I also just wrote a YA short story that I sort of fell in love with as I wrote it—about having a crush and the idea of documenting every event on social media vs just experiencing the moment. It’s part of a charity anthology from Pen Name Publishing.  All proceeds go toward Wine to Water, an organization that aims to get clean water to people around the globe. http://amzn.to/2tpkt56

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

I sort of laugh when published authors say, “Don’t worry so much about getting published. Just write and everything will fall into place.” You know, that’s easy to say once you have a publishing deal. But if your dream is to see your book in print, you will worry and you will stress and you will be sad at times. My advice is just to accept that as part of the process. Go with it. If you’re sad, be sad. If you’re angry that it seems so easy for some people, be angry. I would also tell writers to consider indie publishers. I’m very happy with my decision to go with Pen Name Publishing. The whole experience has been great and I get to see my book out in the world. This may not have happened if I’d only considered the traditional publishing route.

Thanks so much, Leslie, for coming onto the blog! It was a blast having you!


About the AuthorLHauser author picture_smaller size (1)

I am a YA writer and middle school teacher. I have a B.A. in English from UCLA and a Master’s degree in Educational Administration. I was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, and currently reside in Los Angeles, California, with my dog Mr. Darcy.

When I’m not living in fictional worlds inside my head, I run all sorts of distances, torture my body at CrossFit, and DVR entirely too many television shows. I dream of one day returning to the Midwest to live on a farm. Or perhaps owning a cookie delivery service.

My debut novel CHASING EVELINE releases in 2017 from Pen Name Publishing.


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!

Contact | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram | Bloglovin

 

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.