These Vengeful Souls Blog Tour: Book Review of These Ruthless Deeds

Hi guys! I have been really busy this past week, especially since I have been doing my best to catch up with everything after missing a few days last week for the DECA TN SCDC. I had such a great time there, but now it’s time for reality… that means more homework, studying, practicing, and blogging! Today I am a part of the blog tour of These Vengeful Souls by Tarun Shanker and Kelly Zekas. I read These Vicious Masks (the first book in the series) last year, and I am going to review for y’all its sequel These Ruthless Deeds. I hope you enjoy!


These Vengeful Souls These Vengeful Souls
Kelly Zekas & Tarun Shanker
(These Vicious Masks #3)
Published by: Swoon Reads
Publication date: February 20th 2018
Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal, Young Adult

Summary: England, 1883. On the run with the grieving Sebastian Braddock, Evelyn wants two things: to be reunited with her friends, and to get revenge on the evil Captain Goode. Not only has he misused his and Sebastian’s powers to rack up a terrible death toll, but he’s also completely destroyed any hope of Evelyn or her friends regaining the life they once knew.

Evelyn is determined to make Captain Goode pay for what he’s done, but is her revenge worth risking the lives of Sebastian and her friends? Or is it better to flee the city and focus on staying alive? And with the Captain spreading lies about Sebastian in an attempt to flush them out of hiding and turn the populace against them, does she even have a choice at all?

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These Ruthless Deeds These Ruthless Deeds
Kelly Zekas, Tarun Shanker
(These Vicious Masks #2)
Published by: Swoon Reads
Publication date: March 14th 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal, Young Adult

Synopsis: England, 1883. Still recovering from a devastating loss, Evelyn is determined to use her powers to save other gifted people from those who would harm them. But when her rescue of a young telekinetic girl goes terribly wrong, Evelyn finds herself indebted to a secret society devoted to recruiting and protecting people like Evelyn and her friends.

As she follows the Society’s orders, healing the sick and embarking on perilous recruitment missions, Evelyn sees her problems disappear. Her reputation is repaired, her friends are provided for, and her parents are newly wealthy. She reunites with the dashing Mr. Kent and recovers the reclusive Mr. Braddock (who has much less to brood over now that the Society can help him to control his dangerous power). But Evelyn can’t help fearing the Society is more sinister than it appears…

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4 Stars

I have been wanting to read These Ruthless Deeds for such a long time now, and I jumped at the opportunity to read it. Although it did not exactly live up to its predecessor since I had such high expectations after reading such an outstanding debut, I still really enjoyed it. Certainly, These Ruthless Deeds is the satisfying and attention-grabbing sequel to These Vicious Masks that will make you beg for more until you reach the last page. It was such a great continuation, introducing new plot twists and characters, that I had to read book three as soon as I put this book down!

These Ruthless Deeds had so much action and excitement seeping from its pages from the first one. There were so many plot twists and surprises that felt like they punched me in the gut. Seriously, that’s how much I hurt after I learned of these shocking revelations. My eyes became glued onto my Kindle as I literally flew through the pages, transporting me into the X-Men-esque Society of Aberrations. In addition, there was so much humor, snarkiness, sarcasm, and awkwardness that made me chuckle and smile throughout the entire book, even when things got tense. This novel was so entertaining yet heart-wrenching.

The best thing about both this book and this series is the characters. I loved the introduction of many new characters with unique and bizarre abilities, and I fell in love with people like Miss Chen and Emily. Before I go on, I have to say that my favorite character in the entire series is Mr. Kent. He is truly amazing, and he always has some sort of witty or sarcastic remark that makes me laugh. Plus, how he uses his power is so cunning and awesome — seriously, I wish we were friends, though he’d probably make me say things I wish I hadn’t said. This unique cast of characters will stick with you even after you have left this alternative London.

As expected with every sequel, this book fell a bit — just a bit — flat for me since I had such high expectations from These Vicious Masks. Although I found myself sucked into the plot, I didn’t feel as emotionally invested as I had wanted to. However, I do find These Ruthless Deeds a very satisfying sequel to its predecessor. I am so glad that I was able to continue it, and I hope that you’ll be able to pick up These Vicious Masks and These Ruthless Deeds sometime! 🙂

Author Bio:

Tarun and Kelly met in a freshman year writing class at NYU and started writing These Vicious Masks a few years later.

Tarun is a writer living in Los Angeles whose idea of paradise consists of kung-fu movies, David Bowie and chai tea. Since completing his first horrible screenplay in high school, he’s written everything from one-act plays and film criticism to humor pieces and strongly-worded emails. He’s also magnetized, crushed and burned the hard drive where that first screenplay can be found.

Kelly is a writer and actor living in NYC. YA is her absolute favorite thing on earth other than cupcakes and she has spent many hours crying over fictional deaths. She also started reading Harlequin romances at a possibly too early age (12?), and still loves a good paperback romance.

Links (Tarun):

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

Links (Kelly):

Website / Goodreads / Twitter


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Happy Reading!

+ J.M.J

~ Kester

Have you read any of the These Vicious Masks trilogy?

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

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E-ARC Review: Fragile Chaos by Amber R. Duell — A YA Debut that Infuses Myth with Reality

Hi guys! I am super excited for next week because I have two major events happening! The first one is my DECA State Convention, in which I will be competing in Marketing Communications! I really hope that I will be able to win and qualify for Internationals! The second is the SE-YA Book Fest, which I had the wonderful opportunity of driving through 4 inches of snow and meeting so many fabulous authors! Truly, I am so excited to see so many of my author friends again and make many new connections! Today, I have for you a review of Fragile Chaos by Amber R. Duell. I hope you enjoy!

About the BookFragile Chaos

A god of war seeking restoration. An unwilling sacrificial bride. Betrayal that could destroy them both.

Every fiber of my being is woven from the rage of mortals.

Theodric, the young God of War, has a talent for inciting conflict and bloodshed. After being stripped of his powers by his older brother, King of Gods, he sets out to instigate a mortal war to prove himself worthy of being restored to power.

I loved Kisk once; it was my home… But that was before. This is now.

Sixteen-year-old Cassia, like many in the modern era, believes gods and goddesses to be just a myth. Enemy to her country and an orphan of the war, she has no time for fairy tales. That’s until religious zealots from Theo’s sect offer her up as a sacrifice.

Can Cassia and Theo end the mortal war and return balance to the earth and heavens? Or, will their game of fate lead down a path of destruction, betrayal, and romance neither of them saw coming?


3 Stars

Thanks so much to the author for sending me a free electronic review copy in exchange for an honest review. This will not affect my review in any way.

I had really high expectations for Fragile Chaos the first time I encountered both the book and the author. The premise intrigued me very much, and I was really interested by the infusion of mythology along with romance and action. While this fantasy certainly had many strong points—such as its world-building—it felt a bit short of my expectations. I wished I could have been sucked into the book and transported into the book’s world, but I felt very detached. I became more focused, unfortunately, with trying to complete the book rather than enjoy and savor it.

Continue reading “E-ARC Review: Fragile Chaos by Amber R. Duell — A YA Debut that Infuses Myth with Reality”

Exclusive Interview with Chelsea Sedoti, YA Author of As You Wish

Hi guys! It is very rare for me to give a five-star rating to two books by the same author and also to name both of them as favorites, but Chelsea Sedoti managed to accomplish that feat! Now, she has a special place on my top 10 authors of all-time! Today, I have the wonderful honor of interviewing Chelsea on the blog! She has written two novels: The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett and As You Wish, which just released from Sourcebooks Fire last month! If you want to see why I loved her books so much, you can check out my reviews of As You Wish and The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett here! I hope you enjoy this interview and check out her novels!

About the BookAs You Wish

What if you could ask for anything- and get it?

In the sandy Mojave Desert, Madison is a small town on the road between nothing and nowhere. But Eldon wouldn’t want to live anywhere else, because in Madison, everyone gets one wish—and that wish always comes true.

Some people wish for money, some people wish for love, but Eldon has seen how wishes have broken the people around him. And with the lives of his family and friends in chaos, he’s left with more questions than answers. Can he make their lives better? How can he be happy if the people around him aren’t? And what hope is there for any of them if happiness isn’t an achievable dream? Doubts build, leading Eldon to a more outlandish and scary thought: maybe you can’t wish for happiness…maybe, just maybe, you have to make it for yourself.


About The Hundred Lies of Lizzie LovettThe Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett

Hawthorn wasn’t trying to insert herself into a missing person’s investigation. Or maybe she was. But that’s only because Lizzie Lovett’s disappearance is the one fascinating mystery their sleepy town has ever had. Bad things don’t happen to popular girls like Lizzie Lovett, and Hawthorn is convinced she’ll turn up at any moment-which means the time for speculation is now.

So Hawthorn comes up with her own theory for Lizzie’s disappearance.  A theory way too absurd to take seriously…at first. The more Hawthorn talks, the more she believes. And what better way to collect evidence than to immerse herself in Lizzie’s life? Like getting a job at the diner where Lizzie worked and hanging out with Lizzie’s boyfriend. After all, it’s not as if he killed her-or did he?

Told with a unique voice that is both hilarious and heart-wrenching, Hawthorn’s quest for proof may uncover the greatest truth is within herself.


Chelsea Sedoti Interview

1. Your sophomore novel As You Wish (which is one of the best books I read last year!) just released on January 2nd from Sourcebooks Fire. It takes place in the town of Madison, where everyone gets one wish on his or her 18th birthday, but as he approaches that milestone, Eldon quickly discovers how wishing has drastically affected the lives of those around him. If you had the ability to make one wish, what would it be? Would you even wish at all, knowing the possible consequences?

As I was writing As You Wish, I couldn’t help but ask myself what I would’ve wished for. And the answer is… I don’t know. After months and months of pondering it, I still haven’t managed to think up a wish that feels right (or that wouldn’t have any consequences).

But I know if I would’ve gotten to wish when I was a teenager, I wouldn’t be so hesitant. I probably would’ve wished for something completely ridiculous, like for my curly hair to be straight (but seriously, curly hair is a pain.) So it’s probably good that I didn’t get a wish when I turned eighteen, because it likely would’ve turned out horribly embarrassing.As You Wish

2. Magical realism is not a common genre in YA fiction. What inspired you to infuse the fantastic with the ordinary in As You Wish? Could you describe to us how you built the town of Madison, its inhabitants, and the Wish History?

As You Wish started with a “what if” question from a friend about if wishing were real. Long after the conversation ended, I kept thinking about it, wondering what it would be like if every person got one wish. And then I wondered, what if it wasn’t everyone in the world who got a wish, but only people in one tiny town. What would life be like there?

After that, the town of Madison took shape quickly. I started to wonder about the people who lived there and what they would’ve wished for. I also decided early on that this town would be set in the Mojave Desert, where I live. I’ve seen so many strange things in the desert and that strangeness helped me set the tone of the book.

3. Both your debut novel The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett (which I also loved!) and As You Wish are very character-driven. What were some of the challenges you faced as you focused each story to be more character-driven? How is the writing process different versus writing a plot-driven storyline?

This question is hard to answer, because my writing is always very character-driven. I often joke that I have to remind myself that books, you know, need plots too.

I find people to be fascinating. We’re all so very different from each other. Everyone has unique interests and wants and fears. I love to climb into other people’s heads and try to envision the world the way they see it. So, before I ever begin putting down words in a story, I spend a lot of time day dreaming about the characters, trying to figure out who they are and what the world means to them.

4. Who was your favorite main character to write, Hawthorne or Eldon? Who would you say most resembles you, and who would you take on one of your adventures?

The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett

Hawthorn and Eldon were so, so different to write—which was intentional. I wanted them to be totally unlike each other, otherwise I knew I’d get bored. In some ways, Hawthorn was more fun to write. She was unpredictable and got herself into such odd situations. I wanted to know what she’d do next. On the other hand, with her being a strange outcast, Hawthorn was a lot like me in high school. Eldon, a popular jock, was fun to write because he’s vastly different from me. I had to work harder to get into his head, and in the end, that might have made me love him a little more.

But I’d still probably choose to take Hawthorn on an adventure with me. I bet she’d be happy to explore abandoned houses and hope something spooky happens. 

Continue reading “Exclusive Interview with Chelsea Sedoti, YA Author of As You Wish”


Cover Reveal for Fighting Fate by Shaila Patel, the Anticipated Sequel to Soulmated, plus an Exclusive Excerpt!

Hi guys! Happy Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday! Last year, I had the amazing chance to meet Shaila Patel at the Southeastern Young Adult Book Fest and read her wonderful YA debut romance Soulmated, which was one of the best books I have read in the Winter/Spring of 2018. As a proud member of her Street Team, I am so happy to present to you the cover for the long anticipated sequel Fighting Fate! It’s such a gorgeous cover, so check it out below!

And if you want to check them out, here are links to my review of Soulmated and Shaila’s guest post!

Let’s count down from 5!












The moment you’ve all been waiting for!


The cover for Fighting Fate!

Continue reading “Cover Reveal for Fighting Fate by Shaila Patel, the Anticipated Sequel to Soulmated, plus an Exclusive Excerpt!”


Tempests and Slaughter Blog Tour: Review — How It Reinforces My Love of Fantasy!

Hi guys! I am super excited to be a part of the Blog Tour for Tamora Pierce’s newest book Tempests and Slaughter, which released just a few days ago! You do NOT want to miss Tamora’s newest novel, which includes not only an action-packed story you don’t want to leave but also an exclusive poster you can find only in the first printed edition. The poster is beautiful and features a quote by the author, which you can find out what it is on my Bookstagram account. Go check it out!


About The Book:Tempests and Slaughter


Author: Tamora Pierce

Pub. Date: February 6, 2018

Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers

Pages: 480

Formats: Hardcover, eBook, audiobook

Find it: GoodreadsAmazonAudibleB&NiBooksTBD

Arram. Varice. Ozorne. In the first book in the Numair Chronicles, three student mages are bound by fate . . . fated for trouble.

Arram Draper is a boy on the path to becoming one of the realm’s most powerful mages. The youngest student in his class at the Imperial University of Carthak, he has a Gift with unlimited potential for greatness–and for attracting danger. At his side are his two best friends: Varice, a clever girl with an often-overlooked talent, and Ozorne, the “leftover prince” with secret ambitions. Together, these three friends forge a bond that will one day shape kingdoms. And as Ozorne gets closer to the throne and Varice gets closer to Arram’s heart, Arram begins to realize that one day soon he will have to decide where his loyalties truly lie.

In the Numair Chronicles, readers will be rewarded with the never-before-told story of how Numair Salmalín came to Tortall. Newcomers will discover an unforgettable fantasy adventure where a kingdom’s future rests on the shoulders of a talented young man with a knack for making vicious enemies.

Act fast! The first printing of the hardcover includes a collector’s edition poster!

5 Stars

Disclaimer: Thanks so much to Rockstar Book Tours and the publisher for sending me a finished hardcover in exchange for a review for the blog tour! This will not affect my review in any way.

When I first realized how thick this book is–a whopping 455 pages–I first felt overwhelmed. Considering how I had only a week to finish this book (I received it two weeks ago, but I write blog posts on the weekends), I did not know whether I was going to finish it or not. However, once I started Tempests and Slaughter, I became hooked. The further I went into the novel, the more attached I became with the characters and the storyline. It’s as if the book became a part of me, for I carried it with me everywhere and I jumped into the world of Carthak when life became tough. I felt like I grew as a person alongside Arram, Varice, and Orzone. As I write this review, I’m realizing how much I miss the Academy and everyone from the Masters to the Mages to the Gladiators.

Continue reading “Tempests and Slaughter Blog Tour: Review — How It Reinforces My Love of Fantasy!”


January Reading Re-Cap!

Hi guys! January was definitely a crazy month for me. I got off for an entire week due to snow, but I did win first place in DECA regionals! I met and chatted with so many amazing authors over the past few weeks, and I am really excited to see the blog grow even more in 2018. Also, I’m beginning to Bookstagram, which is going to be fun yet a bit challenging. Somehow, I managed to squeeze in 11 books this month, which is a remarkable feat considering my schedule, and I’m hoping to finish many more soon!

5 Stars

The Shadow Queen by C. J. Redwine

The Shadow Queen


Tempests and Slaughter by Tamora Pierce

Tempests and Slaughter

Goodreads Continue reading “January Reading Re-Cap!”


Review: The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman

Hi guys! Today is my second day to go back to school, and I know this semester is going to be even crazier than the first! Now I have AP exams and club competitions to worry about in the next few months! It’s going to be a long ride, but I’m hoping that I’ll still be able to read many great books and blog for you all! By now, I should have all my January posts scheduled, which is a great reliever for me. Today, I am reviewing a book I received many many months ago, but I finally had the chance to read it a few weeks ago and review it! Here’s my review of The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman for you!

About the BookThe Invisible Library

Collecting books can be a dangerous prospect in this fun, time-traveling, fantasy adventure from a spectacular debut author.
One thing any Librarian will tell you: the truth is much stranger than fiction…

Irene is a professional spy for the mysterious Library, a shadowy organization that collects important works of fiction from all of the different realities. Most recently, she and her enigmatic assistant Kai have been sent to an alternative London. Their mission: Retrieve a particularly dangerous book. The problem: By the time they arrive, it’s already been stolen.

London’s underground factions are prepared to fight to the death to find the tome before Irene and Kai do, a problem compounded by the fact that this world is chaos-infested—the laws of nature bent to allow supernatural creatures and unpredictable magic to run rampant. To make matters worse, Kai is hiding something—secrets that could be just as volatile as the chaos-filled world itself.

Now Irene is caught in a puzzling web of deadly danger, conflicting clues, and sinister secret societies. And failure is not an option—because it isn’t just Irene’s reputation at stake, it’s the nature of reality itself…

FEATURING BONUS MATERIAL: including an interview with the author, a legend from the Library, and more!


4 Stars

Disclaimer: I received a free finished paperback of this novel from the publisher via Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.

I was really looking forward to reading this novel because the premise intrigued me and a reviewer likened it to Thursday Next, who is one of my favorite literary characters of all time. I devoured half of it in an entire day, not just because I had three hours to wait out in a college commencement, but mainly from the novel transporting me into its thrilling plot. The Invisible Library is full of fascinating world-building with eccentric characters and an entertaining and slightly satirical writing style that will put you on the edge of your seat. And I agree with that reviewer–it definitely did remind me a lot of Thursday Next. (You need to read that series, by the way. It’s hilarious and set in a world where all books are interconnected!)

Continue reading “Review: The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman”


ARC Review: As You Wish by Chelsea Sedoti

Hi guys! Happy Friday! With the Christmas season underway, I am going to be extremely busy with concerts and schoolwork. Right now, I have two concerts tomorrow, APUSH and AP Language finals next week, and various performances scattered over the next couple of weeks. So I am going to be a bit offline at the moment because of that, but I will still post my usual two posts a week! Today I have a review of one of the first ARCs I have been sent by a publisher after I emailed them via their publicity email, so I am super excited to show you this review of As You Wish by Chelsea Sedoti!

About the BookAs You Wish

What if you could ask for anything- and get it?

In the sandy Mojave Desert, Madison is a small town on the road between nothing and nowhere. But Eldon wouldn’t want to live anywhere else, because in Madison, everyone gets one wish—and that wish always comes true.

Some people wish for money, some people wish for love, but Eldon has seen how wishes have broken the people around him. And with the lives of his family and friends in chaos, he’s left with more questions than answers. Can he make their lives better? How can he be happy if the people around him aren’t? And what hope is there for any of them if happiness isn’t an achievable dream? Doubts build, leading Eldon to a more outlandish and scary thought: maybe you can’t wish for happiness…maybe, just maybe, you have to make it for yourself.


4 Stars

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

I loved Chelsea Sedoti’s YA debut novel The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett so much, so I was so stoked to receive a physical ARC of her newest book As You Wish for a review! However, as I read the reviews, and a lot of them were not too positive, so I became scared that I would not like the narrator that much. However, when I first started this book, I was blown a way. It was the first YA novel in a long time that I could not put down, and I devoured its 400 pages in just a few days. I just could not put it down even though I had a lot of stuff to do at the time. As You Wish is magical realism at its finest: Sedoti features a captivating wish system while shedding light onto humanity’s wants and desires.

From page one, I became fascinated with how the town of Madison revolved around wishing. I became entranced by the Wish History of many characters and the effects of them. The Wish History was definitely one of my favorite parts because I love backstory and world-building so so much! As You Wish felt so magical and enchanting that I felt torn between whether I would like to live in Madison or not (probably not, haha). I became so intrigued by the world-building of the book that I became sucked into it. I just could not put it down, and I just did not want to leave.

Usually I’m not too big of a fan of character-driven books because I usually need a plot or some sort of actual conflict and a goal to overcome it, but the story in As You Wish actually worked for me. Sedoti just surprised me in so many ways! In addition, I was afraid (from many of the reviews I’ve read) that I would be annoyed by Eldon, the main character/narrator, because he is obnoxious and annoying. While he did have a roguish personality, I became so connected to him. I knew his struggles. It was as if the whole town hated him but only I knew his deepest secrets, regrets, and fears. I loved his character arc, too—it definitely was heartwarming. He may not have had the best personality among the main characters I’ve read, but he is one of the only ones I felt a strong connection with.

As You Wish is one of the most thought-provoking and life-changing books I’ve read. The author uses the town’s wish system as a means of shedding light onto one of the world’s oldest themes: “Be careful what you wish for.” But she turns this usually clichéd moral into a reality that has affected the citizens of an entire town who has worshipped wishes so much that the residents have become blinded to its dangers even though they have become aware of its consequences. This novel got me thinking, “Are my wants and aspirations in the best interests for me?” So many times have the wishers (in the book) succumbed to thoughtlessness as their wishes may seem good in the short-run but later lead to little or unintended effects. While I do disagree with one section, this book has made such a tremendous impact on the way I view the “wishes” I have. As You Wish made me realize that many times what I want may not be beneficial to me and that sometimes what is best for me may not be what I had in mind.

Chelsea Sedoti is becoming one of my favorite authors because I’ve rated both her books five stars! Her prose never ceases to amaze me. As You Wish definitely lived up to the hype that The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett created for me. This book exceeded my expectations so much, and now I really want the next book Sedoti has in store. If I were an English teacher who has to give a lesson on magical realism, I would assign As You Wish! It effectively combines the fantastic with the ordinary, the unimaginable with the believable, the hopeful and the despairing. I was so fascinated with this book that I just could not, and I mean this literally, put this down. It felt so refreshing to read a novel that was so sweet and succulent that I just wanted to devour it all at once. As You Wish is a book you do NOT want to miss in the New Year!

Happy Reading!

+ J.M.J.

~ Kester

Are you excited for As You Wish? Do you like YA magical realism?

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

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Exclusive Interview with Merrie DeStefano, Author of Fairytale Christmas

Hi guys! I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend! I know I did, especially since I had five days without any school. Now officially it is the Christmas season! Woo hoo! To celebrate Christmas coming upon us so soon, I am inviting Merrie Destefano, author of multiple YA novels–including Lost GirlsFathom, and A Dark and Twisted Heart–to talk about her latest book Fairytale Christmas. I am so glad I was able to talk to Merrie after the YA Halloween Book Bash a few weeks ago, and I fortunately won a copy of this gorgeous book! I hope you enjoy this interview!

About Fairytale ChristmasFairytale Christmas

“Three thousand years ago, a war began between the immortals and the mortals. It’s a war that continues to this day…

Before history began, a legendary queen battled a foreign army, braved the death of her husband, and faced betrayal at the hand of someone she trusted. This is the story of Eire, Queen of the Faeries, the Immortal One, and the leader of the Tuatha de Danann.

To this day, her homeland, Ireland, bears her name, and this is the story of the war that drove the Immortal Ones into exile. It’s also the tale of how she found help from an unexpected place, leading her to a love like she had never known before.

Fairytale Christmas is a story that spans thousands of years. It’s also the beginning of all of our fairytales and legends; it’s where mortals and immortals survive because they love one another, proving that love is the greatest gift of all.

This is the first installment in the Saga of the Fair Folk, a journey that lasts until the end of time.”

Fairytale Christmas is releasing from Ruby Slippers Press on December 4th!



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

First, thank you very much for inviting me here today, Kester! I sincerely appreciate it. Now to answer your questions: Writing is my way of escape. I started writing when I was fairly young; I focused on it pretty heavily in junior high, abandoned it for awhile, but started it up again when I was about 22 years old. I’ve always struggled between art and writing, trying to balance them, but one has almost always won and overshadowed the other. I studied Fine Art in college, and I worked as a graphic designer/illustrator for many years. But I honestly think that today I’m a much better writer than artist.

Fairytale Christmas2. Your latest book Fairytale Christmas is releasing from Ruby Slippers Press on December 4th, and it tells the tale of Eire—the Queen of the Faeries—as she fights in a war that led to the exile of her people. Since this book is set in Ireland, were there any parts that were inspired by Celtic mythology? What are some of your favorite Celtic myths or legends?

I was absolutely inspired by both Celtic legends and Irish history. I went back to the original legends, so not that many people are familiar with them, which surprised me. The Tuatha de Danann were most likely a real tribe of people who lived in Ireland and may have been more advanced than the people who lived there before them—hence the legends that the Tuatha de Danann were gods. I wrote another book based on Celtic legends too: Fathom. That time, I wrote about Selkie legends.

3. Have you ever had the chance to visit Ireland? If so, what were some of your fondest memories and places you’ve been to? If not, where would you like to go?

Sadly, no, I’ve never been there! I’d love to go though. I don’t care which part I got to see. In my mind, every inch of it is gorgeous.

4. What are some of your favorite traditions that you and your family celebrate for Christmas?Lost Girls

I’m currently living a sugar-free life, but before that every Christmas had to have fudge and lots of it! I have a handful of Christmas movies that I need to see every year. They include The Bishop’s Wife, Christmas in Connecticut, Home Alone, and While You Were Sleeping.

5. Who or what would you say sparked your passion for reading and writing?

I think I was inspired by the SciFi/Fantasy books I read as a teenager. Anything can happen in a book like that. I love to be surprised and to go somewhere I’ve never been.

6. As a veteran author with ten novels and three art books under your belt, how has your writing process evolved from your first book to your current book?

I’ve learned to accept my process, which at best is chaotic. I no longer criticize myself for not outlining or for hitting a blank wall or for throwing out thousands of words. If that’s what it takes to get to the heart of my story, then that’s what it takes.

7. For over 20 years, you’ve worked in the publishing industry as a writer, editor, publicist, photo shoot director, jacket copy designer, and more. How has your background helped you as an author today? What are some of the most valuable lessons about publishing, marketing, editing, and writing that has greatly impacted you over the years?

FathomIt has all helped me because I’ve learned to look at a book or a story from every angle. I love that there are so many aspects to a good book, from cover copy to blurb to cover design to the actual story itself. Every part of it is crucial. Also, working as an editor has taught me to read my own writing with a critical eye. It helps me to see the flaws in my characters and my stories.

8. Out of all the books you have written, which one was the hardest for you to write, and how did you overcome your challenges?

Feast was definitely the hardest. First, I hit a wall half-way through the book and started over. Much later, I read those pages and saw that they were very good. I just didn’t know where to take the story next. In the end, that book was written and rewritten and rewritten. It was written in first POV, then third. It went from about 12 POVs to 5. It kind of drove me nuts! And it all came from my own inability to fall asleep. Hence, I created creatures that steal our dreams—you know those dreams you can’t remember when you wake up? Those were stolen.

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

I prefer SciFi/Fantasy and mystery. As a teenager I adored the classic writers: H.G. Wells, Ray Bradbury, Robert Heinlein, Tolkien. Now I love Holly Black, Laini Taylor, and Michael Connelly. Books like Pines, Doll Bones, and Lips Touch Three Times are like poetry to me.

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

I also work as a magazine editor for Victorian Homes magazine, Haunted: Myths and Legends magazine, and Zombies magazine. So that is my ‘day job.’ I also love designing book covers, but only for myself. Writing is one of those things that I can’t stop, but it is not an 8-hour-a-day job.

11. What can we expect from you in the future? Could you give us any secrets about your upcoming works?A Dark and Twisted Heart

Well, I have a great YA SciFi series coming from Entangled in 2019. I don’t know the date yet, but whoa, is it a good story and the characters are amazing. I can’t wait to get a cover for the first book, because I want to show it to everyone. In my self-publishing, I have a sequel coming to Fairytale Christmas in early 2018 called Wolf Haven. I’m almost done with the third story in my Dark Heart Chronicles. I also have a YA Post Apoc novella series starting soon—I really love that one too. It’s called the Outrunner Series.

12. Do you have any special advice or tips for any aspiring authors or writers who are currently reading this interview?

Don’t give up. Really, just don’t. It may take awhile to get published or you might publish your first book fairly quickly. But every story and every book that you write will help you to improve your craft. Learn from your mistakes, grow and study writing like the fine art that it is. Read a lot! And don’t just read books in the genre you’re writing. Read everything.

Thanks so much, Merrie, for coming onto the blog! It’s so great having you!

About the AuthorMerrie Destefano

CURRENTLY A FULL-TIME NOVELIST and magazine editor, Merrie Destefano’s next novel, LOST GIRLS, releases on January 3, 2017. Her other novels include AFTERLIFE and FEAST, both published by HarperCollins, and FATHOM, which was self-published. The editor of Victorian Homes magazine, she has also been the editor of American Farmhouse Style, Vintage Gardens, and Zombies magazine, and was the founding editor of Cottages & Bungalows magazine.

With 20 years experience in publishing, she worked for a variety of publishing/broadcasting companies that include Focus on the Family, The Word For Today, and PJS Publications (now Primedia). Besides editing and writing, her background includes print buying, writing/producing radio promos, directing photo shoots, developing new products, writing jacket copy for books, creating sales media packets and organizing direct mail campaigns.

Born in the Midwest, she currently lives in Southern California with her husband, two German shepherds, a Siamese cat and the occasional wandering possum. Her favorite hobbies are reading speculative fiction and watching old Star Trek episodes, and her incurable addiction is writing. She loves to camp in the mountains, walk on the beach, watch old movies, listen to alternative music—although rarely all at the same time.

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Buy her books on Amazon!

Fairytale Christmas Lost Girls A Dark and Twisted Heart Fathom

Happy Reading!

+ J.M.J.

~ Kester

Are you excited for Fairytale Christmas? Have you read any of Merrie’s books?

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

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A Review of A Time To Rise by Nadine Brandes & ICYMI: The Cover Reveal for Fawkes!

Hi guys! Today, I am at the TN All Northwest Choral Festival, so I will be very slow at responding to any messages I receive! If you’re reading this on the Friday that this review was posted, I am probably singing or having fun with my choir. Once my concert is done the next day, I will be back to my normal routine!

Earlier this week, we invited Nadine Brandes to talk to us about her YA Christian dystopian fiction Out of Time trilogy and to also unveil the cover of her newest book Fawkes, a YA historical fantasy based on the Gunpowder Plot of 1605. I’m a big history nerd, so when I first read the synopsis of the book, excitement filled my entire body. This book cannot come any sooner! And if you look at the gorgeous cover, you can see why I think it’s going to be a beauty!

I hope you enjoy this review of A Time to Rise by Nadine Brandes, the third book in her Out of Time Trilgoy!

About A Time to RiseA Time to Rise

What more can you sacrifice than your life?

Parvin Blackwater is dead.

At least…that’s what the Council—and the world—thinks. But her sacrifice tore down part of the Wall long enough to stir up hope and rebellion in the people. Now she will rise again. Strong, free, and fearless.

Parvin and Solomon must uncover the mysterious clues that Jude left behind in order to destroy the projected Wall once and for all. Meanwhile, the Council schemes to new levels of technology in its attempts to keep the people contained. Can a one-handed Radical and a scarred ex-Enforcer really bring shalom to the world?Goodreads

4 Stars

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

After finishing this book, I am feeling many emotions when I think about A Time to Rise. On one hand, I am super sad that I have completed such an amazing series that has touched my heart and changed my life. On the other hand, I am so happy about the ending and how the series turned out. When I first started this series, I did not have high hopes–I did not like the first book and did not plan on starting the second. Before New Year’s of this year, I felt a spark from God inside of me to talk to Nadine about how to be more active in the Facebook Street Team and how I didn’t like the first book. Nadine, being one of the sweetest authors ever, understood and sent me the next book to read in case I wanted to start on it. I do not at all regret that decision. Although I did like A Time to Speak better (the second book in the series that is so amazing), this book is so thought-provoking and inspiring that it will change your outlook on life itself. Reading this has filled me up with so much joy and love and optimism that I wished it did not end! I highly encourage everyone to read not only A Time to Rise but the entire Out of Time series as well!

A Time to Rise is such a powerful faith-filled book that will inspire you to continue to strive for the glory of God, to never give up, to trust in Him, and to live life day-to-day and to the fullest. This book has definitely impacted me by reminding me that I need to constantly trust in God and to not worry about everything, for He will guide me to accomplish His Will. Parvin’s journey to achieve her mission of tearing down the Wall that divides the North American continent will motivate you to rely more on God to have unwavering trust. Sometimes, when I am stressed, I think about A Time to Speak and A Time to Die to help me get through my trials, that if Parvin can live her life without fearing death and with great faith to overcome obstacles, then I can do so too.

Once again, I have fallen in love with the entire cast of characters, even many of the antagonists. The author has the beautiful talent of creating multi-dimensional characters that are truly human who show exemplify both virtue and sin. It was so easy for me to relate to the protagonists in the book, from their struggles to do what it right to their longing to become closer to God and family. I cried and my heart felt warm during reunions and celebrations, and I loved it whenever someone had a happy ending or outcome. Even the villains were not portrayed as totally evil and one-dimensional: You could see remnants of goodness and God’s grace acting within them at moments. Each character was so lovable that I want to hug them all (even you Brickbat and Skelley).

For me personally, I think the second book in the entire series was the best one. It took me a little bit of time to get into this novel, but once I got past the slightly rocky beginning, I could not set this book down. A Time to Rise transported me into the story so much that I did not want it to end! I needed more! This book put me on the edge of my seat so many times that I felt like I was in an action movie or on a roller coaster–I became so emotionally involved in the story that I felt as if I was an actual part of it. That is a skill that only a few writers can master, and Nadine Brandes accomplished it. As much as I am very satisfied with the resolution of the plot, I just want more from the Time to Die world! I will definitely be looking forward to more of Nadine’s future novels! She is an author you do NOT want to miss!

Speaking of future work…

If you missed the cover reveal for Nadine’s newest book Fawkes, you can see it below! You can also check out our celebratory interview here, in which she talks about writing her amazing Out of Time series!

Now for the exciting part…

Here is the gorgeous cover of Nadine’s upcoming book Fawkes!


About Fawkes

Thomas Fawkes is turning to stone, and the only cure to the Stone Plague is to join his father’s plot to assassinate the king of England.

Silent wars leave the most carnage. The wars that are never declared, but are carried out in dark alleys with masks and hidden knives. Wars where color power alters the natural rhythm of 17th century London. And when the king calls for peace, no one listens until he finally calls for death.

But what if death finds him first?

Keepers think the Igniters caused the plague. Igniters think the Keepers did it. But all Thomas knows is that the Stone Plague infecting his eye is spreading. And if he doesn’t do something soon, he’ll be a lifeless statue. So when his Keeper father, Guy Fawkes, invites him to join the Gunpowder Plot—claiming it will put an end to the plague—Thomas is in.

The plan: use 36 barrels of gunpowder to blow up the Igniter King James.

The problem: Doing so will destroy the family of the girl Thomas loves. But backing out of the plot will send his father and the other plotters to the gallows. To save one, Thomas will lose the other.

No matter Thomas’s choice, one thing is clear: once the decision is made and the color masks have been put on, there’s no turning back.

Fawkes by Nadine Brandes will release on July 10th, 2018 from Thomas Nelson (HarperCollins)

Here is the link for the cover reveal announcement:

Add Fawkes on Goodreads, and pre-order it from Amazon here!

Goodreads  |  Amazon

About Nadine BrandesNadine

I am an adventurer, fusing authentic faith with bold imagination. I never received my Hogwarts letter, but rest assured I’m no Muggle (and would have been in Ravenclaw House, thank you very much.) This Harry Potter super-nerd has been known to eat an entire package of Oreos (family-size) by herself, and watches Fiddler on the Roof at least once a year. I write about brave living, finding purpose, and other worlds soaked in imagination. My dystopian trilogy (The Out of Time Series) challenged me to pursue shalom, which is now my favorite word (followed closely by bumbershoot.) When I’m not taste-testing a new chai or editing fantasy novels, me and my knight-in-shining armor (nickname: “hubby”) are out pursuing adventures.

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Happy Reading!

+ J.M.J.

~ Kester

Have you read the Out of Time series? What do you think about Nadine’s new book?

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

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