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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February Reading Re-Cap!

Hi guys! March is going to be a crazy month for me! I just performed last night in my choir’s Evening with the Madrigals, and I sang and/or played the piano to “Hold Me Now” by Johnny Logan, “Home” from Beauty and the Beast: The Musical, and “Think of Me” from Phantom of the Opera. Next week is Midterms week, along with my DECA State Convention and the SE-YA Book Fest. And that’s only the first two weeks of March, and there’s much more in store for me. At least last month, I was able to finish 10 books somehow!

5 Stars

Cry of the Sea by D. G. Driver

Cry of the Sea


4 Stars

These Ruthless Deeds by Tarun Shanker and Kelly Zekas

These Ruthless Deeds


Greetings from Witness Protection! by Jake Burt

Greetings from Witness Protection!


AutoFocus by Lauren Gibaldi



Legends of the Lost Causes by Brad McLellan and Louis Sylvester

Legends of the Lost Causes


Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner

Goodbye Eyes


Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer

Into the Wild


Rook by Sharon Cameron



3 Stars

These Vengeful Souls by Tarun Shanker and Kelly Zekas

These Vengeful Souls


Love Songs & Other Lies by Jessica Pennington

Love Songs & Other Lies


In Case You Missed This Month’s Posts

Author Interviews

Adrianne Finlay, author of Your One & Only

Mary Weber, author of Reclaiming Shilo Snow

Chelsea Sedoti, author of As You Wish


“Healing through Stories: Two Novels of Uniting Families” with Corabel Shofner and Leslie Hauser


The Power of Middle Grade Novels


Your One & Only by Adrianne Finlay (5 Stars)

Tempests and Slaughter by Tamora Pierce (4 Stars)

Legends of the Lost Causes by Brad McLellan and Louis Sylvester (4 Stars)

The Lairdbalor by Kathleen Kaufman (3 Stars)

Blog Tours and Cover Reveals

Your One & Only by Adrianne Finlay (ARC Review)

Tempests and Slaughter by Tamora Pierce (Review)

Fighting Fate by Shaila Patel (Cover Reveal and Excerpt)

Reclaiming Shilo Snow by Mary Weber (Scavenger Hunt and Author Interview)


January Reading Re-Cap

Blog Update: Re-Organization of Archives

Happy Reading!

+ J.M.J.

~ Kester

Have you read any of these books? What are your thoughts?

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”

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!”

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!”

Your One & Only Blog Tour: ARC Review of One of the Best 2018 Debuts

Hi guys! I am so glad to be a part of the Your One & Only Blog Tour, in which I’ll be posting for y’all my review of this wonderful debut by Adrianne Finlay. It’s one of the few ARCs I have received directly from the publisher in exchange for a review (thanks to my amazing publicity contact at HMH), and even though it releases in just a couple of weeks, this book has made it onto the top 10 list of books I’ve read in 2017. It’s that good, and in just a few weeks, I’ll be sharing my interview with the author Adrianne Finlay! I hope you enjoy this review, and definitely check out this debut novel by this wonderful debut author!


About the BookYour One & Only

Author: Adrianne Finlay
Pub. Date: January 9, 2018
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Pages: 320
Formats: Hardcover, eBook
Find it: Goodreads, Amazon, B&N, iBooks, TBD

Jack is a walking fossil. The only human among a sea of clones. It’s been hundreds of years since humanity died off in the slow plague, leaving the clones behind to carry on human existence. Over time they’ve perfected their genes, moving further away from the imperfections of humanity. But if they really are perfect, why did they create Jack?

While Jack longs for acceptance, Althea-310 struggles with the feeling that she’s different from her sisters. Her fascination with Jack doesn’t help. As Althea and Jack’s connection grows stronger, so does the threat to their lives. What will happen if they do the unthinkable and fall in love?


5 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. 

Your One & Only is one of the best novels I have ever read. I don’t even know where to begin with this review because after weeks after I finished Jack and Althea’s story, I still am amazed and blown away by this stunning debut. I can’t even think of an introduction to write because there’s so much I want to write about in this review! This novel is one of the few books that has changed my life and the way I view the world. From page one, I knew that this book was going to blow me away, and there was never a dull moment in this entire novel. I don’t use this term often when writing reviews, even for 5-star novels, but Your One & Only was perfect!

Continue reading “Your One & Only Blog Tour: ARC Review of One of the Best 2018 Debuts”

ARC Review: Blood and Sand by C. V. Wyk

Hi guys! I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas full of family, friends, and gifts!

About the BookBlood and Sand


The action-packed tale of a 17-year-old warrior princess and a handsome gladiator who dared take on the Roman Republic―and gave rise to the legend of Spartacus…

For teens who love strong female protagonists in their fantasy and historical fiction, Blood and Sand is a stirring, yet poignant tale of two slaves who dared take on an empire by talented debut author C. V. Wyk.

Roma Victrix. The Republic of Rome is on a relentless march to create an empire―an empire built on the backs of the conquered, brought back to Rome as slaves.

Attia was once destined to rule as the queen and swordmaiden of Thrace, the greatest warrior kingdom the world had seen since Sparta. Now she is a slave, given to Xanthus, the Champion of Rome, as a sign of his master’s favor. Enslaved as a child, Xanthus is the preeminent gladiator of his generation.

Against all odds, Attia and Xanthus form a tentative bond. A bond that will spark a rebellion. A rebellion that threatens to bring the Roman Republic to its end―and gives rise to the legend of Spartacus…

The story continues in Fire and Ash, coming in 2019 from Tor Teen.


3 Stars

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

I had very high expectations for this book because of many reasons: the hype surrounding the novel, the story being set in the Roman Empire (Ancient Rome??? You know I can’t turn that down!), a female warrior being Spartacus, so many action scenes. I was preparing myself to be blown away. Unfortunately, I had the same feelings as I did when I read Stalking Jack the Ripper: I felt so disconnected from the characters and the storyline because the writing style did not draw me in as much as I had hoped to be.

Continue reading “ARC Review: Blood and Sand by C. V. Wyk”

Exclusive Interview with Sandhya Menon, NY Times Bestselling YA Author of When Dimple Met Rishi!

Hi guys! This weekend is a very special weekend for me: Tomorrow I have my All State auditions and on Sunday I will be the Concertmaster for my community’s 50th Handel’s Messiah concert! (So your prayers would be greatly appreciated!)

Today, I am having a New York Times bestselling author who I met all the way back in May at her signing in Nashville, and a few weeks ago I posted a review of her debut YA novel When Dimple Met Rishi (which you can find here). I am SOOO excited to have Sandhya Menon with us on the blog today, and I hope you enjoy our exclusive interview!

About When Dimple Met RishiWhen Dimple Met Rishi

Dimple Shah has it all figured out. With graduation behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family, from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Ugh. Dimple knows they must respect her principles on some level, though. If they truly believed she needed a husband right now, they wouldn’t have paid for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers…right?

Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic. So when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program as him—wherein he’ll have to woo her—he’s totally on board. Because as silly as it sounds to most people in his life, Rishi wants to be arranged, believes in the power of tradition, stability, and being a part of something much bigger than himself.

The Shahs and Patels didn’t mean to start turning the wheels on this “suggested arrangement” so early in their children’s lives, but when they noticed them both gravitate toward the same summer program, they figured, Why not?

Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways.



1. I am a huge fan of your YA contemporary romance debut novel When Dimple Met Rishi, which follows Dimple Shah and Rishi Patel, two completely opposite teenagers who have been set into an arranged marriage by their parents and meet for the first time at the same summer program. Would you consider yourself to be more like Dimple or Rishi? What parallels do you see between you and the protagonists?

I am definitely a combination of both! I’m fiercely feminist like Dimple, but I’m a soft romantic artist like Rishi. I love so many traditions of my Indian heritage while also realizing we have a long way to go with feminism!

2. How would you describe your love for Bollywood film? If you and I were to go have a Bollywood movie marathon, what would we watch and snack on? (You can let your inner fangirl take over. 😉)

Ahhh, the Bollywood question! I love so many Bollywood movies. I’d probably treat you to Queen first, then Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi, and then the classic from the 90s—Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge.

3. You moved with your family from India to the United States when you were a teen, so did your experiences as you transitioned from one culture to another influence both you as a writer and the formation of When Dimple Met Rishi? How was it like trying to acclimate from the Indian way of life you grew up in as a child to the American lifestyle you first encountered?Sandhya Menon

Absolutely. I feel like When Dimple Met Rishi was a kernel inside me, waiting to be set free. Acclimating to the US as a fifteen-year-old Indian girl was terrifying! I felt like I was always two steps behind, and that people were constantly viewing me with either suspicion or comical bafflement. On the other hand, it helped me grow up so fast and I learned to find that solid core inside myself. I learned who I was earlier than people generally do, I think, and I’m so grateful for that.

4. Dimple and Rishi (along with many of the other characters in this novel) defy various Indian stereotypes. Why do you believe it is important to accurately portray racially diverse characters and their struggles, even among people of their own ethnicities?

I think the idea of a monolith of any culture is a farce. There’s no one Indian experience, just like I’m sure there’s no one Black/disabled/Latinx experience. We’re all products of the individual moments that make up our life, and that’s what I wanted to show. I feel portraying real people, fully fleshed out and living their lives, makes marginalized characters so much more relatable to people outside of that marginalization, something I feel we desperately need in this political climate in the US and around the world. And a big bonus is that it helps people who’ve never seen themselves as main characters in a novel before experience that, which can be incredibly powerful.

5. My favorite scene in the entire book (and I was laughing so hard from reading it) was when Rishi approached Dimple for the first time and said, “Hello, future wife. I can’t wait to get started on the rest of our lives,” and immediately afterwards Dimple threw her iced coffee at him and ran away. What was your favorite scene in the entire book, and which scene was the hardest to write?

Haha, thank you! I loved that scene, too—it’s definitely one of my top five! I’d say my #1 favorite scene is the non-date that—spoiler alert—turns into a date. 😊

The scene that was hardest to write was the one toward the end when Dimple begins to question everything and ultimately makes some decisions that make her and Rishi very sad. I don’t want to give too much away, but it was heart-wrenching to write that part.

6. Do you share Dimple’s love of iced coffee, and if so, where is the best place in the entire world to grab a cup to drink?When Dimple Met Rishi

Yes! I love my Starbucks caramel fraps. I also really loved Peet’s on the West coast!

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

I love writing because I love people’s stories. I’ve always been fascinated by how we think, feel, and love. I began writing as soon as I learned to string sentences together for school

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

I tend to read pretty widely, so I have quite a few! I absolutely love romance, especially romance with comedic elements, and I’m a huge Sophie Kinsella fan girl. I also really enjoy horror, and have loved novels by Shirley Jackson and Stephen King. Other writers I love and have influenced me in some way: Kate Chopin, Arundhati Roy, Khalil Gibran, Jenny Han, and Stephanie Perkins, to name a few.

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

Writing is now a full-time job, for which I am so grateful! When I’m not writing, I love spending time with my family and my dog, going on hikes, gazing at the mountains, playing board games or video games (point-and-click adventures are my fave), and reading.

10. As 2017 is slowly winding down, how would you describe your debut year as an author? Could you describe your feelings when When Dimple Met Rishi received a widespread positive reception and made it onto the New York Times bestseller list?

It’s been so mind-blowingly incredible! Sometimes I still can’t believe that this rom-com about an arranged marriage between two Indian-American teens got so much reader love. I’m so humbled and grateful for all the readers who’ve reached out to me (like you, Kester)!

11. Your next two novels From Twinkle, With Love and When Ashish Met Sweetie (the companion novel to When Dimple Met Rishi) are slated to release in the summers of 2018 and 2019, respectively. Could you give us any hints or secrets on what we could expect in each of them?

From Twinkle, With LoveYes! I’m so excited because From Twinkle, With Love is written entirely in diary entry/email/blog format. It was my first time writing an epistolary novel, and I’m eager to see what readers think. Get ready for girl friendships and girl power, questions about creating art and finding your voice, and angst about what to do when you fall in love with the wrong person.

And in Ashish’s story, we’ll get to see our fave cocky jock Ashish fall in love with a girl, Sweetie, who’s completely different from him. We’ll see him being vulnerable, there’ll be some big conversations about what it means to be fat (and how that’s not a bad word), and a lot of heartwarming friendships.

12. Before you go, would you like to share any words of wisdom to aspiring authors?

Never give up…but also give up!

Let me explain: If you feel like you should stop writing because the words aren’t coming out right or it’s really hard to get published or the world doesn’t really want to hear your story—don’t give up.

But if you’ve been working on the same book for years, you feel like you’ve outgrown the story, or just really aren’t feeling it anymore—don’t be afraid to start something new. Listen to your creative instincts, and keep on keeping on!

Thanks so much, Sandhya, for doing this interview! I’m so glad to finally have you on the blog!

About the AuthorSandhya Menon

My name is Sandhya Menon, and I’m a New York Times and national indie bestselling author. I write books for teens (and those who still feel like teens inside!). I currently live in Colorado, where I’m on a mission to (gently) coerce my husband, son, and daughter to watch all 3,221 Bollywood movies I claim as my favorite. Also, I love my pets a little too much, as you can probably tell.

My YA contemporary novel WHEN DIMPLE MET RISHI is out now. Buy here or add it on Goodreads if you like!

Website | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

Happy Reading!

+ J.M.J.

~ Kester

Have you read When Dimple Met Rishi? Do you like YA contemporary novels?

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

Email | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram | Bloglovin


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.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

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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ARC Review: That Thing We Call a Heart by Sheba Karim

Hiya guys! I am super glad I got to win an ARC copy of That Thing We Call a Heart by Sheba Karim from Mindy McGinnis’s amazing website Writer, Writer Pants on Fire. I actually have met Sheba twice, and she was super nice! I got to first see her at the SE-YA Book Fest and later have her sign my beautiful ARC at Sandhya Menon’s signing for When Dimple Met Rishi (it is such an amazing book by the way) since she conversed with Sandhya over her debut. She is such a great and talented writer, and here’s my review of her newest YA novel That Thing We Call a Heart..

About the Book25752164

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

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

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

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


A 4 Star

Disclaimer: I won a free ARC of this book in a giveaway.

Overall Thoughts: I am super glad that I was able to win Sheba Karim’s That Thing We Call a Heart from a giveaway Mindy McGinnis held on her website Writer, Writer Pants on Fire. I loved this book a lot. It definitely was one that I couldn’t put down. I finished this while waiting for my dad at Sam’s Club! It was not only cute, but it was also enlightening. This is a tale that will stay with you for a while because the lessons in this book are priceless. This was an amazing romance and coming-of-age story!

Continue reading “ARC Review: That Thing We Call a Heart by Sheba Karim”