Exclusive Interview with J. M. Sullivan!

Hi guys! Today, I have with me another wonderful author whose debut book just released last Tuesday! Please give a warm welcome to J. M. Sullivan, author of Alice: The Wanderland Chronicles, a dark retelling of Lewis Carroll’s original novel Alice in Wonderland.


About Alice: The Wanderland ChroniclesAlice Cover Edit

“Always protect your queen.”

Ever since the outbreak of the Plague, life hasn’t been easy, and for seventeen-year-old Alice Carroll, it just got worse. Her sister, Dinah, has contracted the ‘un-deadly’ Momerath Virus and without a cure, will soon be worse than dead. She’ll be momerath.

Alice must leave the safety of the Sector and venture into Momerath Territory to find the antidote – if it exists. Chasing a rumor about a mysterious doctor with the cure, Alice falls down the rabbit hole into Wanderland, where ravenous momerath aren’t the only danger lurking.



J. M. Sullivan

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

I have always loved writing. My mom used to read to me all the time when I was little, so I remember growing up with a love of stories and literature. As I got older and realized that I could be the one who told the stories, I started making up my own. Thankfully, my writing has improved dramatically since my first stories about princes and princesses!

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

I love fantasy books. Probably not surprisingly, retellings are some of my absolute favorites. I love being able to escape into a new world that still has a sense of familiarity to it. The one that impacted me the most is easily Ella Enchanted, by Gail Carson Levine. Not only is it the first retelling I ever read, it was also the very first book I ever picked out for myself at a book store. I absolutely fell in love with the way Levine wove her characters and worldbuilding together to create this magical story that slowly unveiled itself to be a reimagining of Cinderella! I remember being so surprised and happy all at the same time when I found out my beloved Ella of Frell was actually Cinderella! It is the same feeling I want my readers to have when they read my work.JM Sullivan - small

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

As AMAZING as it would be unfortunately writing isn’t my full-time job (yet). To pay the bills, I follow one of my other passions, which is teaching! During the week, you’re most likely to find me in a classroom teaching sixth graders about the wonderful world of Science! Since I’m so busy, in my free time, I really just enjoy spending time at home. My kids and I have dance parties and baking adventures; or as a family we binge-watch movies. It may not be the most exciting stuff in the world, but it’s the little things in life. 😉

4. Why did you choose Alice in Wonderland as the inspiration for Alice: The Wanderland Chronicles? What about Lewis Carroll’s novel attracted you to make a retelling of it?

Actually, Alice chose me! I didn’t even have plans to write a retelling until the idea for Alice smacked me like a ton of bricks! It was only after I started writing the retelling that I realized how much I LOVED working with the genre, and now I’m not sure I ever see myself leaving!

5. Who is your favorite character from Alice in Wonderland and why? Which character would you like to meet in person?Alice Cover Edit

Well, my favorite character from Wonderland is also my favorite parallel in Wanderland. I’ve always loved the Cheshire Cat for his attitude and the way he exasperates Alice. His character was always just so fascinating to me, which I tried to carry over into the character of Chess in Wanderland. While he’s definitely not the exact same Cheshire Carroll created, some of his traits mimicked his namesake and helped shape him into the fabulously snarky and endearing character Alice knows and (secretly) loves.

6. Alice: The Wanderland Chronicles is a dark YA fantasy retelling of Lewis Carroll’s novel. What were some of the challenges as you were trying to put a new spin onto an old tale?

Since I write retellings, there’s always this fear that I am going to incredibly disappoint the fans of the original. It comes with the genre, though. You’re working with stories that people have grown up on and have cherished memories of. Even though you’re creating a new, re-imagined version, you still have a responsibility to it’s integrity, and it’s intimidating!

7. Why do you believe that it is important for an author to connect with readers, bloggers, reviewers, fellow authors, and other book enthusiasts? What is your favorite part about chatting with people all around the world?

It’s important because I think that they are some of the coolest people that you will ever meet! Don’t get me wrong—I love my non-bookish family and friends too, but sometimes they just don’t ‘get’ it. And since writing is SUCH a huge part of my life, having the people who understand how important the writing things are (like WIPs, OTPs, Beta Readers, and all the other writerly/book jargon terms lol) without me having to translate or having people who I can fangirl with completes that huge part of me. So THANK YOU GUYS from the bottom of my heart!

8. How is it like living in the United Arab Emirates? If I were to go visit there as a tourist soon, what would you recommend me to do?

I love it here! Actually, it’s really funny because it reminds me a lot of home. I grew up in Arizona, so moving from one desert to another, the climate is actually really similar. The one major difference is that beaches are SO MUCH closer here, which I adore! I would definitely recommend if you come, you have to visit both Dubai and Abu Dhabi. They are about an hour and a half away from each other, but they are both so different! They both have awesome beaches and great malls so either way, you can’t go wrong! If you like a little more excitement, Abu Dhabi has Ferrari World, which has the world’s fastest roller coaster; or Yas Waterword, which is a huge water park. In Dubai, you can go see the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, and definitely check out the Dubai Mall while you’re there! I still don’t think I’ve visited all the stores and I’ve lived here for two years!!

9. If you could live out a fairy tale, which one would you choose and why? Which Disney princess would you be, and what makes you select her?

Hands down, the Little Mermaid. I’m still kind of upset that mermaids haven’t been discovered, although if they were, I suppose I’d be even more upset that I’m not one, so there’s that. I absolutely love the water and the ocean. In fact, once upon I time, I considered being a marine biologist! The sea is where my heart is, so if I could be ‘Part of that World,’ I totally would be.

10. What is your go-to cure when you experience a case of writer’s block?Alicestack

Writer’s Block is THE.WORST. I don’t know that I’ve found a cure, but for me, the best thing to do is just press on. Even if the words are terrible, getting them onto the page and pushing through the scene is the only way I can fight it off. There may be lots of head banging and whining, but I force myself to keep writing, otherwise the block kicks my butt.

11. What can we expect from you in the future? Could you give us any teasers or hints for what you are writing next?

Absolutely! I’m currently working on a new retelling project that I’m hoping will release early 2018. THE NEVERLAND TRANSMISSIONS (working title) is a SciFi retell of Peter set in outer space, told in a dual POV with Peter & Wendy. It’s with my betas right now, and I have to say, I’m pretty excited about it! I would LOVE to tease a bit, so here’s a little taste 😉

Wendy cleared her throat, schooling her voice into the formal tone she reserved for her superiors.

“Is there more to the transmission that I need to be aware of, Admiral?”

Toussant nodded. Though her lips pressed together, she seemed pleased with Wendy’s response. Another click of a button and the transmission continued.

“So far, the strangest phenomena of the planet is how it has affected our aging process. The days run longer here; as do the nights. I don’t have an exact calculation, but I would estimate we have been here for ten earth years, yet I look the same as I did the day we left. So does the twelve year old cabin boy. It’s as if not a single day has gone by. It is this phenomena that has inspired the name our crew has assigned the planet. We call it NEVERLAND.”

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

Be kind to yourself! We writers are SO HARD on ourselves, and it can absolutely derail a great project! Having an inner critic can be good to help stretch your work and yourself, but don’t give the nasty little guy so much reign that he completely derails you. Just remember, someone needs your words. To get them out there you have to write them!


JM Sullivan - small

About the Author

J.M. Sullivan is a Science Teacher by day, and an author by night. Although known to dabble in adulting, J.M. is a big kid at heart who still believes in true love, magic, and most of all, the power of coffee. If you would like to connect for a healthy dose of sparkle and positivity, you can find her on Twitter or Instagram @_JM_Sullivan.

Twitter | Instagram


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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Exclusive Interview + GIVEAWAY with Abby J. Reed

Hi guys! Life update: school is going to end in three more days for me! Three more days! I can taste that sweet, sweet freedom now! In the meantime, I am trying to get as much read in the month of May and I’m catching up on all of my reviews! Now, I have a special guest for you today: Abby J. Reed, author of When Planets Fall. I just finished reading it a week ago and it was great! Definitely enter the giveaway below!


About the Book30801623

Breaker’s home is cleaved by blood. The three tribes on the planet Scarlatti, whose only difference is their blood color, each want to exploit Breaker’s valley for themselves. The feudal tension has already claimed red-blood Breaker’s leg and his older brother. Now all this 18-year old wants is to maintain the tenuous peace in order to keep his little ‘stroid of a brother alive. Malani, a red-blood raised blue, is a kidnapped POW and only wants to return to her adoptive home with her dangerous blue secrets. Luka, a red-blood stewing for trouble, wants to right wrongs done to his family and bathe his home in justice.

All three intersect when Breaker discovers a wrecked starship and is given seven days by the green-bloods to fix and hand it over as a weapon. Breaker must decide if aiding his enemies is worth the home he knows and his family’s life. War is coming. And war respects no boundaries. And war leaves no survivors.


Abby J. Reed

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

I love writing because it’s my way of giving back to the world. I can’t volunteer at events. I can’t cook meals for all my friends who are baby-ing. Right now, I can’t even donate tons of money to help (enter your chosen endangered species). But I can make the world a little more beautiful by telling a story. I can give in this way—by creating art.

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

Most recently, Robin Hobb’s THE ASSASIN’S APPRENTICE really impacted me. I loved how the main character Fitz could’ve totally been “the chosen/special/talented one” . . . but wasn’t. I loved how he became magically disabled and never recovered (some may say it’s not a disability, but I will argue for forever that it is). And yet—he still did his job and did it well. Those are the type of characters I want to create, the one’s who keep going no matter what.

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

Writing is “technically” my full-time job. However, with the whole Chronic Migraine thing—it ends up being a part-time job. I spend the majority of my time managing my disorder, then when I can, I write! But I also love painting. Painting uses different creative muscles and it doesn’t aggravate my head, so I spend a lot of time in my little studio.

4. Your debut book When Planets Fall takes place on the fictional planet of Scarlatti, which is home to three feuding tribes. What was your process to world-build the geography, demographics, society, and culture of Scarlatti and its inhabitants?30801623

I strongly believe a person is heavily influenced by their world, language, culture, everything. I spent a long time researching and nailing down a lot of these details as I began fleshing out characters and writing the first draft. After I have a “poop” draft and knew where the story is going, that’s when I really pour in and make sure the world building is sound and complete.

5. Why do you believe it is important to incorporate characters with chronic illnesses and disabilities inside YA fiction? Since you yourself have Chronic Migraine, which is a neurological disorder, is there anything in the book that has been inspired by your own experiences?

Breaker, Malani, and Luka are all disabled because at the time I was writing—I was beginning to drown in my own disability. I handled the pain well for years. But eventually, you run into a wall. I couldn’t handle Chronic Migraine without more help—I switched doctors, I switched medications, I was seeing a counselor and pain management specialist, and I realized I had a lot of emotions about my disability. WHEN PLANETS FALL became my outlet for these emotions—Breaker’s emotions about his amputation are probably the closest to my own, though Luka has a lesser severity of my disorder.

If they could have this and keep going, then maybe so could I. Writing them gave me hope.

That’s why I think chronic illness and disability should be included more in YA lit. Because all of us need that hope.

6. Which tribe- each based on the blood colors of red, green, and blue- would you want to be and why?

I’d pick Human, red, just because that’s what I already am. There’s pros and cons to each. No tribe is perfect and each have their high points and hidden flaws.

7. Science Fiction or Fantasy: You could only pick one! I know you love to write about both, but which genre as a reader and writer would you choose and why?

Ugggghhhh. Why do you do this to me??? I CAN’T PICK. Ooo. I know. Science-fantasy. Ha. Now I can have both.

8. How is it like being a debut author? What is one thing you wish someone told you before you started writing and publishing?

AbbyI really like being a debut author. I love meeting people and being able to connect and chat about books.

Another author told me recently—she does as much editing as she possibly can before she sells the book. But once she sells, she consideres the book done. I really wish I had heard that attitude before selling. That would’ve helped me manage the stress of deadlines for my health better!

9. Your book is told from three protagonists’ perspectives: Breaker, Malani, and Luka. Which character POV was your favorite to write? Whose POV gave you the most challenges?

Honestly, I loved all of them as I wrote. I was having serious OMG I LOVE YOU BE MINE FOREVER crushes on each. But Luka’s story was the hardest. I re-wrote his storyline probably 3 times before it finally clicked. His depth really surprised me.

10. Do you have any writing habits?

Habits don’t work well with Chronic Migraine. What works today will 98% not work tomorrow. The only habit I can really maintain is during drafting. Whenever I do sit down to write, my minimum goal is 1,000 words, no matter the pain. Everything else depends on the day!

11. Since When Planets Fall is the first book in the Stars Fall Circle series, is there anything you could tell us about the sequel? Could you give us some secrets?

Tahnya will have a POV! And . . . somebody new . . . .(wink wink). Also—I’m a huge believer in consequences. So, actions in book 1 will have repercussions in book 2. Plus, there will be a couple payoff scenes I’m eagerly waiting for :DDD

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

I’m constantly telling this to myself: you are not your work. If your work sucks, that doesn’t mean you suck. If you’re work is awesome, that doesn’t mean you’re awesome. There’s more to life to you, to me, then just writing.

Thanks so much, Abby, for doing this interview! I love your answers! 🙂


About the AuthorAbby

Abby J. Reed writes young adult science fiction and fantasy novels that ask what if. She has a degree in English Writing and is drawn to characters with physical limitations due to her own neurological disorder called Chronic Migraine. Her debut novel, When Planets Fall, will be published in April 2017 by Soul Mate Publishing.

Abby lives in Colorado with her husband and two fluffy pups. If her hands aren’t on the keyboard, they are stained purple and blue with paint. Find her online at www.abbyjreed.com


Now here’s our giveaway!!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Rules are the same as always! Go enter! You don’t want to miss it!


Happy Reading!

+ J.M.J.

~ Kester

 

Review: Caraval by Stephanie Garber – A Magical Place I Didn’t Want to Leave

Hi guys! I do not have a Quote-flection of the Week because this week has been so busy for me. I had a few auditions and I have a concert and ceremony coming up soon, so it’s been crazy! The Quote-flection will be every week or so, so some weeks I will have one and others I won’t. But I decided to have a review today! In order to introduce you to my newest top favorite book, I have to give you this quote! Here it is:

“Welcome, welcome to Caraval! The grandest show on land or by sea. Inside you’ll experience more wonders than most people see in a lifetime. … But before you fully enter into our world, you must remember it’s all a game. So while we want you to get swept away, be careful of being swept too far away. Dreams that come true can be beautiful, but they can also turn into nightmares when people won’t wake up.”


About the Book:27883214

Remember, it’s only a game…

Scarlett has never left the tiny island where she and her beloved sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval, the far-away, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show, are over.
But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But she nevertheless becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic with the other players in the game. And whether Caraval is real or not, she must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over, a dangerous domino effect of consequences is set off, and her sister disappears forever.

Welcome, welcome to Caraval . . . beware of getting swept too far away.


A 5 Star

Disclaimer: I won a free copy of this book in a giveaway. This will not affect my thoughts.

Overall Thoughts: I’ve wanted to read Caraval for quite a while, and I was so excited while I was able to win this book in a giveaway! I was convinced to finally start it last week (as I write this) and it was the best decision ever. I mean, Caraval was a magical place I never wanted to leave! I can see why so many people are hyped about this book and want to buy every single version of it. I mean I amazed by it! This is probably one of the few books that I didn’t want to end! 

World-Building: The author creates such a magical and fantastic world! So much magic in the air makes my eyes glimmer with fascination! I want Legend to send me a ticket to Caraval! I don’t care if I win; I just want to roam around it! (I know I’m dropping so many exclamation points, but the world building is just amazing!) Garber certainly made Caraval one of the best fictional worlds and settings I have ever read. Could I please get a ticket? There’s also a gorgeous map of the setting in the book that definitey helps you, and it’s so pretty to just look at!

*I know this review is sounding so much like me fanboying, but these are literally my feelings right now. All I can type is excitement and joy. Gotta be more professional now.*

Plot: So I couldn’t put down this 400-page beauty. I finished it in two (or three) days! I mean this is almost record time! The plot sucks you in, like you’re actually in Caraval and you don’t want to get out. You encounter a lot and a lot of plot twists that make you want to keep going. I definitely found myself saying “Just one more chapter” so many times! Garber hooks you from the beginning all the way to the end. She throws at you so many unexpected twists and turns that you have to know what happens next!

Romance: I just have to cover the romance in the book. Scarlett and Julian is my favorite OTP ever! It’s such a great slow burn relationship that evolves from hate. But it’s so fun to watch Scarlett warming up to him. I won’t spoil what happens to their relationship at the story progresses, but it does go through a ton of different hurdles… I’ll just tell you that. But I love their relationship! I need some fan art and swag right now!

Concluding Thoughts: This book was perfect, and I mean perfect! I loved every single part of it 100%! And this book is the first in series? I have to read the next book. It was so good that I just don’t want to ever leave it! I think that Caraval has to be on my favorite books of all time! It’s the perfect escape and vacation from reality! I recommend it to everyone! Please read this book! You won’t regret it! I might re-read it, which is extremely rare for me!
Have you read Caraval? Did you like it? Comment below your thoughts, and let’s chat!

One of My Favorite Quotes (There’s Too Many!): “Hope is a powerful thing. Some say it’s a different breed of magic altogether. Elusive, difficult to hold on to. But not much is needed.”


Don’t forget to enter our giveaway for Kym Brunner’s book Flip the Bird! It’s a great MG Contemporary Romance you don’t want to miss! Check it out here!

Happy Reading!

+ J.M.J.

~ Kester

ARC Review: Configured by Jenetta Penner – Danger and Death in Every Corner

Hi guys! It’s the first day of May! I am really behind on reviews, so that’s why I’m popping quite a few out in such a short time! I know… I’m going to have some nice discussions, tags, and memes in the future! But for now, I hope you enjoy this latest review on Configured by Jenetta Penner!


Goodreads Synopsis: In the future love will make you a traitor.32065903

120 years after a virus decimated earth’s population the survivors thrive in safety, away from the death and destruction of the Outerbounds. Divided into three levels of intellect, Citizens focus solely on duty.

Due to her advanced intelligence, seventeen-year-old Avlyn Lark is separated from her twin brother at birth and raised by adoptive parents. She gains privilege, the ideal future. He dies. Avlyn barely knows him yet remains linked to his memory.

But following a string of rebel intrusions on the city, Avlyn receives a cryptic message and begins seeing visions of her dead twin. The mysterious radical who urges Avlyn to join their fight becomes her link to answers. Freedom.

Opportunity awaits, but if she says yes will she lose it all?

Configured is the first novel in a trilogy YA dystopian/light romance that poses the question: does humanity need love for survival? Fans of Divergent, Matched, and the Maze Runner will love this world of dark secrets, intrigue and desire for a better tomorrow.


A 4 StarDisclaimer: I received a free e-ARC copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This will not affect my review in anyway. All thoughts are mine and mine alone, and they are my honest thoughts.

Overall Thoughts: I’ve definitely heard a lot of great things about Configured, so I decided to take a shot at this YA Dystopian novel. Let me tell you, it did not disappoint. The more I got into it, the more I wanted to continue it! When I first saw this book, I was intrigued by the premise- a world where the government controls everything about you, where love is forbidden. I think I’d prefer this indie book to Divergent anyday!

Action-Packed Plot: There were many times when I just wanted to continue reading it. The action-packed, suspenseful plot will keep you on the edge of your seat! With the possibility of danger and death lurking around the corner, you’ll never know what will happen next! I know I didn’t! It surprised me in so many ways yet it fueled my fire to continue!

World-Building: I definitely was intrigued by the society of Elore, where Avlyn lives. Definitely, the author crafted the dystopian city very well. A government that doesn’t care for its lower citizens? Ooh… Citizens are classed by their intelligence levels, but there’s many secrets to the system? My interest is even more piqued. There’s rebels, and more than you think. Yes!

Details: Just like most books, I did get a tiny bit confused regarding technology, setting, etc. With the new VR technology that Avlyn and the rebels use, it wasn’t clear to me at times whether the characters were in a simulation or in reality. Sometimes I get mistaken and think they’re in a virtual meeting place when they’re actually in a real life room. But it’s nothing really major- so it won’t greatly affect your perception of the story. I think that regardless it is a great book to read!

Concluding Thoughts: Will I be on the lookout for book 2? Definitely! Usually with dystopian trilogies, I don’t plan on completing them (I am not going to continue to Catching Fire or finish the first book in Divergent… I got bored after Gathering Blue in The Giver Quartet), but I’m considering doing it with this one! I don’t normally continue series (I’m a big standalone fan… we can talk about this later) but this might be an exception!

Favorite Quote: “Avlyn, this world is both beautiful and broken. Make more beautiful moments than broken ones.”


Happy Reading!

+ J.M.J.

~ Kester

Review: Sad Perfect by Stephanie Elliot – Changed My Perception on EDs and People with Eating Disorders

Hi guys! Welcome back! Today is the first day of May! Oh my goodness! May is my favorite month because a) school’s almost out and b) it’s my birth month! Yay! That means a birthday book haul! Yes! Right now, I have my newest review on Stephanie Elliot’s Sad Perfect, which is an amazing book! Amid all the controversy surrounding it, I personally think it is a great novel that sheds light on eating disorders and ARFID, which is Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder. Now onwards!


About Sad PerfectSadPerfect_09e

The story of a teen girl’s struggle with Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder and how love helps her on the road to recovery.

Sixteen-year-old Pea looks normal, but she has a secret: she has Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID). It is like having a monster inside of her, one that not only dictates what she can eat, but also causes anxiety, depression, and thoughts that she doesn’t want to have. When she falls crazy-mad in love with Ben, she hides her disorder from him, pretending that she’s fine. At first, everything really does feel like it’s getting better with him around, so she stops taking her anxiety and depression medication. And that’s when the monster really takes over her life. Just as everything seems lost and hopeless, Pea finds in her family, and in Ben, the support and strength she needs to learn that her eating disorder doesn’t have to control her.


A 5 StarDisclaimer: I received a free physical copy of this book from the author and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I also received some book swag. This will not affect my review in anyway. All thoughts are mine and mine alone, and they are my honest thoughts.

Overall Thoughts: I honestly went into this book a little scared. The reason is is that there have been many bad reviews surfacing the Internet and Goodreads that have not only degraded the book and bashed the author. Let me tell you one thing about those reviews, please do not just base your opinion on only them. And please do not bring in the author along. A fictional book does not reflect the author’s personality. Some of my blogger friends raved about this book, so I’ve wanted to read it a lot. I admit I was a bit hesitant but I gave it a shot.

This book exceeded my expectations by a mile. Let me tell you, I am super impressed with the author’s writing style and the storyline. I devoured 2/3 of this book in a day because I could not put it down. During school, all I just wanted to do is just sit down and finish this book. I didn’t care about watching the movie Chicken Run; my only desire was to finish Sad Perfect. This book is probably one of my favorite reads of 2017! I mean I am mind blown at everything! Woo! Time to get onto why I love it so much! It definitely changed my perception on people with eating disorders and EDs!

Thrust into the Story: The fascinating thing about this book is that it was told in second-person, which definitely made the message and story much more effective and amplified. I was Pea, and I could feel all her physical and emotional pain. If she hated a character, I had similar feelings, too. If she loved something, I would love it, too. I knew exactly how she felt and why she felt that way, and I went through times where I felt all the characters didn’t know what I (remember, this is in second person) was going through. Second-person is something that is very hard to master in a fictional book, but the author conquered that challenge. She made me think more about everything that is going on, and that’s one reason why I couldn’t stop reading and reading!

Awareness about ARFID and EDs: What I love about books is that they have the potential to change your perception about the world. 2017 has been full of those kinds of novels: Salt to the Sea, Strong Inside, Be Light Like a Bird, A Time to SpeakI am so glad to add Sad Perfect to that list. I believe that it vividly and accurately portrays what a person with an eating disorder (or ED)- especially those with ARFID, or Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder- has to go through. So many times victims think that there is an actual monster who “controls” all their thoughts and emotions. With second-person POV, it helps you understand these struggles all the more. I am so glad that I got to read this book because I am even more enlightened about this problem.

A Tiny Warning: As much as I loved this book, I have to give a little warning to more sensitive readers. There are some scenes in this book (a few not all) that are very vivid and could trigger some people. I do in fact recommend this book to all people, even to those with eating disorders, but I just want you to be a bit cautious. The author is an amazing writer, and I do not want this warning to make you not want to read this book. I definitely want you to pick this book up and read it! This is nothing against the author or the book- this is just a heads-up for those who are more sensitive with these topics.

Concluding Thoughts: I think that this book has changed my perception of the world even more. I’m so glad that I was able to read and review this book! This is probably one of my favorite books I’ve ever read… and I mean it! I know I’ve encountered so many new faves, but this has got to be on that list. Why can’t top 10 include more? Please, I urge you to pick this book up. The author definitely accomplished her mission with this book: to spread awareness about ARFID, which is a recently discovered eating disorder. She has done a great job portraying it accurately to where I am now more aware about about not only AFRID but all eating disorders in general. Knowing how people with EDs feel makes me a better person regarding how I view others, and that is why I love books like this one!

One of My Favorite Quotes: You think about this. Everyone in your life wants you in his or her life. Your mom, your dad, even your brother. … They all want you around. You’ve got so much to be happy about.


About the AuthorDSC00461

Stephanie Elliot is the author of the young adult novel Sad Perfect (Margaret Ferguson Books/FSG, Winter, 2017), which was inspired by her own daughter’s journey with ARFID, Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder. She has written for a variety of websites and magazines and has been a passionate advocate of other authors by promoting their books on the Internet for years. She has been, or still is, all of the following: a book reviewer, an anonymous parenting columnist, a mommy blogger, an editor, a professional napper, a reformed Diet Coke drinker, a gecko breeder and the author of three self-published novels.

A Florida native, Stephanie has lived near Chicago and Philadelphia and currently calls Scottsdale, Arizona home. She graduated from Northern Illinois University, where she received her Bachelor of Arts in Journalism. Stephanie and her husband Scott have three children: AJ, McKaelen and Luke. They are all her favorites.


Have you read this book? What are your thoughts? Leave a comment below, and let’s chat!

Happy Reading!

+ J.M.J.

~ Kester

Blood Road Blog Tour: Exclusive Interview with Amanda McCrina

Hi guys! In my hometown of Paris, TN, today we are holding the parade for the World’s Biggest Fish Fry! If you don’t know what that is, it’s a week-long festival where we eat a bunch of catfish, go to the carnival, and watch the two to three hour-long parade! Fun fact: some of our Grand Marshals include Verne Troyer, the actor who played Mini Me in the Austin Powers movies, and Hannah Robinson, a local who was Miss Tennessee a year or two ago and made it to the top 7 in the Miss America pageant! Small town represent! Today, we have a blog tour for Amanda McCrina’s newest book Blood Road! Hope you enjoy!

BLOOD ROAD


Title: BLOOD ROADA blood road

Author: Amanda McCrina

Pub. Date: April 25, 2017

Publisher: Month9Books

Format: Paperback, eBook

Pages: 329

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

Synopsis: Nineteen-year-old Torien Risto has seen dissidents dealt with before. He knows the young local girl who just knifed him will hang for assaulting an Imperial officer, unless he can stop it.

Someone inside the provincial government is kidnapping Imperial citizens and selling them across the desert to the salt mines, silencing anyone who tries to intervene. The girl’s brother is one of those who has been taken. Rejected by the corrupt courts, she’s waging a personal war against the Empire.

Determined to save her life, Torien sets out in search of answers on the Salt Road, the ancient trade route running deep into the heart of a desert—territory claimed by the hostile Mayaso tribe.

Now, Torien is no longer sure where his own loyalty lies, or how far he will go to break the cycle of tyranny, political bullying, and social injustice in an empire that seals its borders in blood.


About Amanda:Amanda (1)

Amanda McCrina has studied in Italy, taught English in Japan, and currently tutors Latin in Atlanta, Georgia. She received her BA in History from the University of West Georgia, and is now pursuing her MA. She writes stories that incorporate her love of history, languages, and world travel. She drinks far too much coffee and dreams of one day having a winning fantasy-hockey season.

Website | Twitter | Pinterest | Goodreads


A Amanda

1. What is your book Blood Road about?

Blood Road is a political fantasy about a young Imperial army officer who sets out to solve a kidnapping and uncovers a vast trafficking plot whose roots go much deeper than he originally thought.

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

I love writing because it makes me see my own world in a new light. I’ve been making up stories for just about as long as I can remember (really embarrassing stuff, some of it)—probably because I’ve been reading for just about as long as I can remember. I think the key to developing as a writer is to read.

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

Three long-time favorites are Ernest Hemingway, Rosemary Sutcliff, and George Orwell. I deliberately tried to imitate Hemingway when I first started writing seriously, and it’s taken me a long time to unlearn that and develop my own voice. But I still appreciate Hemingway’s minimalistic, dialogue-driven prose—and, equally, Rosemary Sutcliff’s beautiful descriptions.

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

I read a lot of historical fiction and nonfiction. I enjoy (and owe a lot to) fantasy, but at this point it takes a really fresh spin to get me interested. I love a good mystery, too, but I’ve never tried writing one.

From the three authors I already mentioned, my favorite books are, respectively, A Farewell to Arms, The Lantern Bearers, and Homage to Catalonia. Other all-time-favorites include Elizabeth Wein’s Code Name Verity (the voice is incredible), Megan Whalen Turner’s Queen’s Thief series, and Ursula Le Guin’s Lavinia.

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

Writing is currently a part-time job. My full-time job is teaching middle- and high-school English at an international school in Madrid. Between those two things, I don’t have a lot of free time!

6. Is your book based off or inspired by the Roman Empire? If so, how much research did you have to put into it, and are there any parallels between the Roman and Vareno Empires?

There are definitely parallels between the Vareno Empire in Blood Road and Ancient Rome. I note in the book that it’s not an analogy that should be taken too far, since the Vareno Empire doesn’t perfectly resemble Rome at any one point in time. It’s most similar to the Christianized Rome of the 300s and 400s CE, but even that starts falling apart if you look at it very closely. (For example: the people of the Vareno Empire practice a religion that resembles Christianity, but the military also practices decimation as a punishment. In real life, the Roman army hadn’t really used decimation for several centuries by the time of Christianization.)

A lot of the research I did for Blood Road overlapped with research I’d done for my undergraduate thesis, so I was able to kill two birds with one stone.

7. What was your process for world-building your fictional empire’s geography, social structure, characters, etc.? There’s so much depth put into the social and governmental structures of the Vareno Empire, which can be found on your website!

I did incorporate some specific elements from real Roman history—for instance, my Imperial Guard is pretty blatantly based on the Praetorian Guard. I also turned to other time periods for some things. The signi, criminals sentenced to military service, were inspired by the penal battalions of the Wehrmacht and the Red Army in WWII.

It’s always potentially problematic to pick through real-world history and recycle it into a fantasy world; you have to be aware of the ramifications of detaching history from its context. But I do think studying real-world history is one good way to enrich fictional worldbuilding. (Also, food. Start with food. I mentioned this in another interview: knowing what your fictional people are cooking and eating is often key to understanding their world.)

8. If you had to choose, would you rather read and write historical fiction or fantasy for the rest of your life, and why?

If I had to choose, I’d pick historical fiction. Blood Road is fantasy in that it takes place in a secondary world, but there’s no magic, so really it reads like historical fiction. I’m terrible at writing magic systems.

9. How is it like living in Madrid, Spain? What are some of your favorite things about the city?

Madrid is a great city—eclectic, very walkable, with perfect weather and a good mix of cultural sites, shopping and dining destinations, and green spaces (plus a random Ancient Egyptian temple). I sound like a travel brochure, but really I am thankful for the opportunity to be here!

10. Your main interest of research is the Christianization of the imperial Roman Army. Could you share with us any fascinating facts you have stumbled across in your research? Why do you like studying and writing about this topic?

I think it’s fascinating that an essentially religious institution, the Roman army, could adapt so quickly to a drastically different belief system. The Roman army camp was an inviolable sacred space, and ritual was (and always had been) an integral part of camp life—so what does it mean that the army adopted Christianity so quickly when Constantine converted?

There’s so much I find fascinating, but one thing that surprised me when I first started researching was that by 400 CE or so pagans were actually prohibited from joining the army—you had to be a professing Christian. (Of course, how strictly that prohibition was enforced is a matter for debate.)

11. If you could take three things along with one book with you on a deserted island, what would you bring?

I’m going to assume the three things can’t include a boat or a satellite phone, so I’ll say: 1) Ryan North’s Time Traveler Essentials cheat sheet. The situation isn’t exactly the same, but most of the information still applies. 2) Seed potatoes. It worked for Mark Watney. 3) A volleyball.

My book would be War and Peace. I still probably won’t have finished it by the time rescue arrives.

12. Whenever you encounter writer’s block, what is your go-to cure?

Either a bike ride or a hot shower, or both, in that order.

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

I’ve finished the first draft of a sequel to Blood Road. I’m also currently working on a YA WWII novel set in Poland/Western Ukraine, about a Red Army sniper.

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

At the risk of repeating myself—reading is so important. Also, because I wish somebody had told me this a long time ago: don’t beat yourself up over making a certain word count each day. It’s OK to have days where you only write two sentences. (If it isn’t, I’m sunk.)

Thanks so much, Amanda, for coming onto our blog! Glad to have you!


Giveaway Details:

1 winner will receive a 1 month subscription to Owl Crate, US Only.

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a Rafflecopter giveaway


Tour Schedule:

Week 1:

4/24/2017- Rockin’ Book Reviews– Review

4/24/2017- Month9Books– Excerpt

4/25/2017- Two Chicks on Books– Interview

4/25/2017- Doodle’s Book Reviews– Review

4/26/2017- Don’t Judge, Read– Interview

4/26/2017- Book-Keeping– Review

4/27/2017- A Backwards Story– Review

4/27/2017- Hazel West’s Character Purgatory– Excerpt

4/28/2017- LILbooKlovers– Interview

4/28/2017- Wishful Endings– Review

Week 2:

5/1/2017- Exploring the Inner Universe– Review

5/1/2017- So Few Books– Interview

5/2/2017- Book Review Becca– Review

5/2/2017- Bibliobibuli YA– Interview

5/3/2017- Reading for the Stars and Moon– Review

5/3/2017- I am not a bookworm!– Review

5/4/2017- YA and Wine– Guest Post

5/4/2017- Mundie Moms– Review

5/5/2017- Never Too Many To Read– Review


I hope you enjoyed today’s interview/blog post/giveaway! Certainly check out Amanda’s book!

Happy Fish Fry!

+ J.M.J.

~ Kester

The Sky Throne Blog Tour: Exclusive Interview with Chris Ledbetter

Hello! Today we have another blog tour stop for you today! Please welcome Chris Ledbetter in this interview talking about his newest book The Sky Throne! Hope you enjoy it!

THE SKY THRONE


Title: THE SKY THRONEThe Sky Throne

Author: Chris Ledbetter

Pub. Date: April 18, 2017

Publisher: Month9Books

Format: Paperback, eBook

Pages: 292

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

Goodreads Synopsis: Duality dwells at every turn, and an adolescent Zeus will learn that all too well when Hyperion attacks his family on Crete.

When the dust settles, his mother is unconscious and his best friend left for dead.

Stacking epic insult upon fatal injury, Zeus discovers the woman who raised him is not his biological mother. But to ensure her safety while she recovers, a heavy-hearted Zeus leaves her behind to seek answers at Mount Olympus Preparatory Academia.

Zeus embarks on a quest to discover who ordered the attack on his home, avenge the death of his friend, and find his birth mother. When some of his new schoolmates vanish, Zeus’s quest is turned upside down, and the only way to make things right is to access the power of The Sky Throne, confront a most dangerous enemy, and take his life back.

On his way to becoming king of the Greek gods, Zeus will learn to seize power, neutralize his enemies, and fall in love.

“Destined to have a sequel or two, young teens will appreciate the story, and teachers will appreciate that it instructs readers about the pantheon of gods.”–Kevin Beach, VOYA Magazine


About Chris: Chris

Chris Ledbetter grew up in Durham, NC before moving to Charlottesville, VA in 11th grade. After high school, he attended Hampton University where he promptly “walked-on” to the best drum line in the conference without any prior percussion experience. He carried the bass drum for four years, something his back is not very happy about now.

After a change of heart and major, he enrolled in Old Dominion University and earned his degree in Business Administration. He’s worked in various managerial and marketing capacities throughout his life. He taught high school for six years in Culpeper, VA, and also coached football.

He has walked the streets of Los Angeles and New York City, waded in the waters of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, and climbed Diamond Head crater on Hawaii and rang in the New Year in Tokyo, Japan. But he dreams of one day visiting Greece and Italy.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | YouTubeGoodreads


Now here’s the interview!

A Chris

1.  In 10 words or less, how would you describe THE SKY THRONE?The Sky Throne

Zeus origin story. Actually, Greek Olympian gods: Origins.

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

The first thing I love about writing is what we all love about reading, which is the ability to escape the real world and experience life as someone else. When I sit down to write, I am immediately transported. It’s very much like sliding a virtual reality headset down over my eyes. I began writing in 2006, almost as a dare to myself and fell in love with it ever since.

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

My favorite authors are James Dashner, Jennifer Donnelly, Dan Brown, Laini Taylor, Paulo Coelho, Heather Petty, Kim Harnes, Tracy Clark. They’ve all helped to inspire and shape my writing in one form or another.

Continue reading “The Sky Throne Blog Tour: Exclusive Interview with Chris Ledbetter”

Black Dawn Blog Tour: Guest Post with Mallory McCartney

Hello! So if you have been following our blog, you might have seen how I gushed over Black Dawn by Mallory McCartney in my review here. I am so excited to have Mallory on my blog in her blog tour for her debut book! It’s definitely a series that I am going to be checking on! I hope you enjoy!

Black Dawn tour banner


Black Dawn by Mallory McCartney A Black Dawn

Genre: YA/A Fantasy

Release Date: February 14th 2017

Publisher: Clean Reads Publishing

Summary from Goodreads: The end of an Empire, The rise of a Queen Emory Fae enjoys leading a quiet, normal life. That is until two mysterious, and handsome soldiers show up at her apartment, and the life she knew is instantly whisked away. Memphis Carter and Brokk Foster come from the magical and war ridden world of Kiero, and upon Emory’s arrival she will discover she is the long lost heir to the Royal Line and is thrown into the Black Dawn Rebellion with a dynamic role to ignite the rebels and reclaim her throne.  With both men being darkly woven in her past Emory uncovers hidden secrets, a power held long dormant, and will soon realize there are worse things than supernatural humans, love, loss, betrayal, and a Mad King. Some things are better left in the shadows.

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Buy Links:

Amazon.ca : https://www.amazon.ca/Black-Dawn-Mallory-McCartney-ebook/dp/B01N5QQLZL/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1490207632&sr=8-2&keywords=black+dawn

Amazon.com: https://www.amazon.com/Black-Dawn-Mallory-McCartney-ebook/dp/B01N5QQLZL/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1490207861&sr=8-4&keywords=black+dawn#customerReviews

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/black-dawn-mallory-mccartney/1125505912?ean=9781621356134

Indigo: https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/black-dawn/9781621356134-item.html?ikwid=black+dawn&ikwsec=Home&ikwidx=0


Mallory

Creating a Fantasy World and Its History

With Black Dawn, the history of how this world became so ravaged, I did write into the very first manuscript. Developing the backstory for Adair, and his parents really set the stage for Black Dawn. My process for this is knowing my characters and their reactions, The Stratton’s being a family of pride, and regimented traditions, and above all, the crave for power. From here this history is exploring the dynamics of the Academy and of the Fae’s and Stratton’s. How would one run a democratic government when their best friends are pushing for a monarchy? How would one achieve peace when violence is being praised? How would one achieve equality when there are different parties stating they don’t recognize the treaties for people’s rights?

These are just some of the questions answered that help me shape and build the world of Kiero. The event of how the Academy fell, I am writing that story right now, to be released in the fall. Renegade, covers a lot of the history of the characters we see in the series, as well as new ones. This book will rotate through the chapters with Memphis, Brokk and Adair, and explore not only the secrets within the Academy, but what happens when dark magic is withheld, and the consequences of secrets. Without giving to much away, I’m really excited to share this book, I feel it will answer a lot of the history questions readers may have, and set the stage very nicely for book two, Queen To Ashes.


About the Authormallory mccartney.jpg

Mallory McCartney currently lives in London, Ontario with her husband and their two dachshunds Link and Lola. Black Dawn is her debut novel, the first in a series. When she isn’t working on her next novel or reading, she can be found dog grooming, book shopping and hiking. Other favorite pastimes involve reorganizing perpetually overflowing bookshelves and seeking out new coffee and dessert shops.

Author Links:

GoodreadsTwitterFacebookInstagram


GIVEAWAY:

The chance to win three signed copies of Black Dawn

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Blog Tour Organized by:

YA Bound Book Tours

YA Bound Book Tours


Hope you enjoyed this! Have a great week!

+ J.M.J.

~ Kester

 

 

 

 

Review: Black Dawn by Mallory McCartney

Hey guys! It’s the last day of March, and to end off this month, here is my review of Black Dawn by Mallory McCartney! Man, Summer is almost here! And what does that mean? More reading!

Goodreads Summary: The end of an Empire, The rise of a Queen.

Emory Fae enjoys leading a quiet, normal life. That is until two mysterious, and handsome soldiers show up at her apartment, and the life she knew is instantly whisked away. Memphis Carter and Brokk Foster come from the magical and war ridden world of Kiero, and upon Emory’s arrival she will discover she is the long lost heir to the Royal Line and is thrown into the Black Dawn Rebellion with a dynamic role to ignite the rebels and reclaim her throne.

With both men being darkly woven in her past Emory uncovers hidden secrets, a power held long dormant, and will soon realize there are worse things than supernatural humans, love, loss, betrayal, and a Mad King.

Some things are better left in the shadows.

Disclaimer: I received a free electronic copy of this book from Rockstar Book Tours along with the author and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This will not affect my review.

Rating: 4 Stars

Overall Thoughts: Let me tell you about me and fantasy in general: I’m honestly not the biggest epic fantasy fan. It’s not a genre that I’m the biggest fan. I find there’s so many characters, places, and subplots to remember that I forget half of them! It’s just not my type of book. I’m usually all for contemporary and historical fiction, but I decided to pick up this book because it looked good. Black Dawn was definitely a pleasant surprise! I think for a person who does not like fantasy, I enjoyed reading it! (P.S. I did love the Chronicles of Narnia; now I don’t know who’ll not enjoy them!)

Continue reading “Review: Black Dawn by Mallory McCartney”

Review: Ashes in the Sky by Jennifer M. Eaton

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rating: 9/10 stars

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

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

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

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

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

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

+ J.M.J.

Happy Reading!

~ Kester