Review: Emerge by Tobie Easton – Magical Twist on a Classic Tale

Hello! So this review is almost two months overdue because I read it back in March and finished it the day before SE-YA. I had the wonderful opportunity to meet the author, Tobie, and she was amazing! I loved it! Although this was a book I bought and got signed, I want to share it with y’all! I hope you enjoy!


About Emerge27882492

Lia Nautilus may be a Mermaid but she’s never lived in the ocean. Ever since the infamous Little Mermaid unleashed a curse that stripped Mer of their immortality, war has ravaged the Seven Seas. Now Lia lives in a secret community of land-dwelling Mer hidden among Malibu’s seaside mansions and attends high school with humans. To protect everyone around her, she must limit her contact with non-Mer. No exceptions. But when the new girl sets her sights on Lia’s crush, she will risk exposing her deadly secret to stop Clay from falling in love with the wrong girl.


 

A 4 Star

Overall Thoughts: I know this review is like a month and a half overdue, but I really want to review this book because I think it’s one that needs to be shared… plus I planned this review for a while and I need to get to it. I remembered I finished this book the day before SE-YA, and I couldn’t put it down at the end because I was like “What will happen next?” so much!

Continue reading “Review: Emerge by Tobie Easton – Magical Twist on a Classic Tale”

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. 😉

Continue reading “Exclusive Interview with J. M. Sullivan!”

Review: Blood Rose Rebellion by Rosalyn Eves – A Compelling Combination of Fantasy and History

Hi guys! Yesterday was my last day of school, so I’m officially free! Sweet, sweet freedom! To celebrate the start of my summer vacation, I have here my newest review for Blood Rose Rebellion by Rosalyn Eves. Let me tell you why I wanted to read it: Magic + 1847 Hungary. I mean, this is basically trying to get me to like the fantasy genre even more since it takes place in Austria-Hungary! Now here’s my review!


About Blood Rose Rebellion31020402

The thrilling first book in a YA fantasy trilogy for fans of Red Queen. In a world where social prestige derives from a trifecta of blood, money, and magic, one girl has the ability to break the spell that holds the social order in place.

Sixteen-year-old Anna Arden is barred from society by a defect of blood. Though her family is part of the Luminate, powerful users of magic, she is Barren, unable to perform the simplest spells. Anna would do anything to belong. But her fate takes another course when, after inadvertently breaking her sister’s debutante spell—an important chance for a highborn young woman to show her prowess with magic—Anna finds herself exiled to her family’s once powerful but now crumbling native Hungary.

Her life might well be over.

In Hungary, Anna discovers that nothing is quite as it seems. Not the people around her, from her aloof cousin Noémi to the fierce and handsome Romani Gábor. Not the society she’s known all her life, for discontent with the Luminate is sweeping the land. And not her lack of magic. Isolated from the only world she cares about, Anna still can’t seem to stop herself from breaking spells.

As rebellion spreads across the region, Anna’s unique ability becomes the catalyst everyone is seeking. In the company of nobles, revolutionaries, and Romanies, Anna must choose: deny her unique power and cling to the life she’s always wanted, or embrace her ability and change that world forever.


A 4 Star

Disclaimer: I received a free hardcover copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review. I have also received swag from the author in a separate giveaway. These will not affect my review.

Overall Thoughts: Blood Rose Rebellion has been one of my most anticipated reads of 2017! When I saw that they were giving away free copies of this book in exchange for a review on Blogging for Books, I immediately jumped onto the offer. Let me say, this book did not disappoint! I loved how it infused both 1847 Hungary (which now has a special place in my heart because I loved the culture in the book) and fantastic magic! I definitely enjoyed reading it, and I couldn’t put it down at times! The strongest aspect of this book is the world-building, which is fascinating to think about! It definitely is a compelling combination of fantasy and history.

Continue reading “Review: Blood Rose Rebellion by Rosalyn Eves – A Compelling Combination of Fantasy and History”

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: A Time to Speak by Nadine Brandes – Never Wanted the Book to End!

Hi guys! The end of school is nigh, and these last few weeks have been very hectic. I’m also very behind on reviews, so I’m trying my best to catch up! I need to adopt a better policy… How do you guys juggle reading and reviewing? I probably should review right after I read since I have a few books that it’s been over a month or two since I’ve finished it. Anyways, here’s another review of a new favorite book that I hope you will consider reading!


About A Time to Speak (Out of Time #2)24466484

What happens when you live longer than you wanted to?

Parvin Blackwater wanted to die, but now she’s being called to be a leader. The only problem is, no one wants to follow.

The Council is using Jude’s Clock-matching invention to force “new-and-improved” Clocks on the public. Those who can’t afford one are packed into boxcars like cattle and used for the Council’s purposes. Parvin and Solomon team up to rescue the people. Instead, they find themselves on a cargo ship of Radicals headed out to sea. What will the Council do to them? And why are people suddenly dying before their Clocks have zeroed-out?


A 5 Star

Disclaimer: I received a free electronic copy of this book from the author in exchange for a review. I have also received swag, and I am a part of the author’s street team. These will not affect my review.

Overall Thoughts: Just to start things off, I did not like the first book in the Out of Time series, A Time to Die. I was trying to rush the book since it was so long and it made me dislike the author’s writing style. I became very confused on what was going on, so this made me a bit hesitant about reading this. But let me say this, I am amazed by this book. Now I know why the Street Team geeks out about the series: this book right here. Let me tell you, it exceeded its predecessor in so many ways that I didn’t mind it was over 8000 on MOBI! You know that C. S. Lewis quote “There’s never a cup of tea or a book too big for me” or something like that? This is the first time I have read a book that I didn’t want to end. 

Story Development: This may seem like a long book, but it’s the right length for it because there’s so much that goes on. The author develops that plot so well that you can see ever clearly the progression of many of the characters, from Parvin becoming more brave an dependent on God to some unlikely people supporting her. I could not get enough of this book. Seriously, I loved how it panned out! I did not mind Parvin traveled all around the Western Hemisphere on her mission; in fact, I loved it. Nothing felt out of place. A Time to Speak was like a huge, soft blanket that has no holes and you just want to snuggle in it for a long time. There’s literally nothing wrong with this book plotwise!

Characters: Oh my goodness, I love this cast of characters so much! Now I want some of those character magnetic bookmarks because they are amazing! I love Parvin’s POV, and her relationship with Solomon. I really want Angelique (or Frenchie) to go home to France, and I still like Madame, too! Even characters that you would want to hate- like the Milkman (whose real name is Caprine), Dusten, and Kaphtor- you might end up rooting for at the end. The characters are so different yet they soon unite over a common cause and it’s so great!

Just Perfect! and Concluding Thoughts: I have nothing against this book at all. It’s really now one of my favorite books now because it was that amazing! I can finally fanboy over the series because I loved this novel a lot. I am so looking forward to finishing the series with A Time to Rise! Oh, I need to know what happens next! As a proud Ninja, I definitely recommend this book to you! You will not regret it! It definitely helped me shape my thinking, that I should live each day to the fullest, for I do not know when my last one will come.

On of My Favorite Quotes: “The promise of uncertainty changes how I live. It urges me to live . . . more, as if the very seconds prior to every sunset will be my last. That‘s the way it’s supposed to be.”


So I hoped you enjoyed that review! Happy Reading!

+ J.M.J.

~ Kester

Release Day Blitz: When Planets Fall by Abby J. Reed

Hi guys! I am so excited that WHEN PLANETS FALL by Abby J. Reed is available now and that I get to share the news! I am actually in the middle of writing my review for Abby’s book, so be on the lookout for that!

If you haven’t yet heard about this wonderful book by Author Abby J. Reed, be sure to check out all the details below. This blitz also includes a giveaway for a finished copy of the book and swag, US Only, courtesy of Abby and Rockstar Book Tours. So if you’d like a chance to win, enter in the Rafflecopter at the bottom of this post.

WHEN PLANETS FALL RDB.jpg


About the Book:30801623

Title: WHEN PLANETS FALL (Stars Fall Circle #1)
Author: Abby J. Reed
Pub. Date: May 10, 2017
Publisher: Soul Mate Publishing
Pages: 420
Formats: Paperback, eBook
Find it: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, TBD, Goodreads

On a planet where the only difference between three tribes is their blood color, war is on the horizon. Breaker, an amputee, wants peace for his family and home. Malani, a kidnapped POW, wants to return home. Luka wants justice for his home. All three teens come together when Breaker is given seven days to fix a wrecked enemy starship or their home, and peace, is forfeit..

“In this richly imagined start to a new sci-fi series, Reed brings optimism to the goal of solving entrenched violence in a galaxy far, far away . . . A propulsive, sharply crafted tale about a planetary war.” -Kirkus Reviews

Excerpt:

I cupped my hands around my mouth. “Brody! Brody!”

Nobody was allowed to break boundary unless you were on hunting rounds and wanted a shot at the deercorns—three-horns, good meat—or on boundary duty. The land between here and the Heron Mountains in the west was technically neutral territory and belonged to no one. Too many good game trails passed through and everyone needed good protein. You’d think this meant a peace card for any who marched through the area. Then a handful of cycles back, attacks started becoming more frequent. Now, neutral territory meant open hunting season on everyone.

And if you were in trouble . . . the compound wouldn’t help.

I couldn’t leave him out there. I had to go over the fence. Beyond the compound’s boundary.

I was going to murder that kid.

The tree branches on the opposite side created a tunnel. Ravines on either side had been dug deep for a grave ditch in case of a future blood bath. Water filled them now. No need to waste time or tears while shoveling, just dump the bodies in the pre-dug ditch. Time and pain in the past saved time and pain in the future.

I set my foot on the lowest rail. The wood jiggled. Bangit. I couldn’t climb over the stupid thing. I pocketed the pick, got back on my bike, reversed, and aimed it at the fence. Even though the bike ran on solatech energy, the magnetic polarity of mineral deposits in the ground kept it afloat. In theory, the bike should pass right over the fence, since the fence wasn’t quite solid, so the bike would never lose complete contact with the ground.

I revved the bike. A surge of solaenergy sent me flying toward the fence. I shoved on the handles right before I hit the broken rail, bouncing and soaring right over the fence. The bike didn’t even bounce on the ground on the other side.

My chest tightened a notch.

I just broke boundary.

I hadn’t broke boundary in eight cycles.

I swear there was still a faint smell of cinnamon, though the gun smoke couldn’t have hung in the air this long. Lining the ravine were the twelve gravecrosses. Rainwater ran like thinned-out blood off the names carved into the bars. The letters were slowly being erased by weather and time, as though the people were being slowly erased from our memory until they never existed.


About Abby:Abby

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.

Website | Facebook | Twitter |Pinterest | Instagram | Tumblr |  Goodreads


Giveaway Details:

1 winner will receive a finished copy of WHEN PLANETS FALL & Swag, US Only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Don’t forget we still have a giveaway for Kym Brunner’s Flip the Bird which you can enter here!

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

Exclusive Interview + Giveaway with Kym Brunner!

To all you Star Wars fans, May the Fourth be with you! Today is also National Bird Day, which brings us to today’s special guest: Kym Brunner! Kym wrote a book called Flip the Bird (yes, there is a secret pun… please see question 5 for that answer… the bird is named Flip), and to celebrate the upcoming “Be Kind to Animals” week and International Bird Migratory Day on May 14th, she is giving away a copy of Flip the Bird! Woo hoo! Here’s a special interview I conducted with her after I saw her at SE-YA (I’ve made a lot of author friends there).


Kym Brunner

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

I’ve always loved reading, but it wasn’t until my thirties that I thought, “Hmm…maybe I could write a book.” I bought a book called “How to Write a Book For Dummies,” and that was all the permission I needed to go ahead and try writing a book too. Found out I absolutely loved it and an obsession was born.

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

I love reading––PB through adult novels––but mostly I read YA and New York Times bestsellers. Growing up I was really into Stephen King because there wasn’t a true young adult category. I suppose that’s why I love suspenseful books so much. As far as writing style, I can only say that I write the way I think and talk, so I don’t model myself after any particular author. But when I first started writing, I was reading a lot of Meg Cabot, Carolyn Mackler, Laurie Halse Anderson, and John Green. Fingers crossed that I picked up a few tips vicariously through reading their books.

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

I always tell my husband that I have two full-time jobs… teaching 7th graders and writing novels. When I’m not teaching or grading papers, I’m writing or thinking about writing. I get up early and write before school, and then work for several hours after school on my novels. On weekends, I still get up early and write, sometimes all the way until dinner. Writing consumes me and I don’t even notice the time.

4. Your latest book Flip the Bird is targeted especially for middle grade to teenage boys. Why did you choose to write for this audience, and how would you respond to that “teenage boys don’t read”?

I didn’t choose the audience; the book chose me, so to speak. I took a falconry class at a raptor rehabilitation center after attending the Medieval Times dinner show, and the sport captivated me. I could easily have made the story a female apprentice, but having brothers myself, I could easily picture this being a dad-son sort of activity. As far as teen boys not reading, I can only shrug. I do think there are a lot of teen boys reading out there, but as a group, their interests might stray toward video games, girls, and sports for awhile. But I’m hoping they eventually come back to reading, and that they continue to make time to read when given a chance to relax. Reading novels not only expands your mind and gets you to consider other aspects of issues, but it’s very relaxing. Everyone needs down time without the noise and violence of a video game to collect their thoughts and think about what kind of person they want to be. Reading gives you lots of opportunities to explore who you are and who you will become as an adult.

5. What was the inspiration for the title of Flip the Bird? Is there a reason why Mercer chose to name his hawk “Flip”? (Is there a secret pun in the title?)

Definitely a secret pun in the title! The original title was (get ready to cringe)  “A Falcon’s Feather.” Yeah, so that is what we call “a working title,” something to put down at the top as a placeholder, but you can see it didn’t work at all. One day, we were laughing about someone flipping the bird to me in traffic, and I was like, “Bam! That’s it! He’ll name his hawk Flip!” Thus, it should probably be titled, “Flip, the Bird” with a comma. 🙂

6. Would you want to be a master falconer? Would you like to have a bird as a pet, and if so which one?

Maybe one day I’ll pursue being a falconer myself, but it is a huge time commitment and can be somewhat of a big expense if you do it correctly. I have had birds as pets before (cockatiels, umbrella cockatoo, green cheeked conure) and have loved them all. I also have several bird feeders right outside the window where I sit and write.WANTED - DEAD OR IN LOVE cover(3)

7. In one of your previous novels Wanted: Dead or In Love, the souls of the infamous Bonnie and Clyde start to take over the bodies of high school students Monroe and Jack. Did you have to do any research on the deadly duo to write this book? If so, what are some of the most interesting or surprising things you learned?

Boy, did I ever have to do research! Hours upon hours of reading books and watching documentaries. The thing that surprised me the most was that Clyde Barrow lived in the poorest part of Dallas during the Depression, so much of the stealing he did in the beginning was to survive and to help his family. I think his first arrest was for stealing a turkey, and another was for failing to return a rental car on time, both in his teens. Not making any excuses for him, but his first murder was a prison guard who had raped him daily during his year incarceration when he was only 17. After Clyde was released from prison, he followed the guard home and killed him.

8. You are currently serving as a 7th grade teacher along with your writing career. How would you instill a new love for books in a student who does not like reading at all?

I talk about how much I love books and have librarians come in and book talk the newest books a couple of times a year. No one likes to be told what to do, so I hope that my enthusiasm for certain books makes them curious enough to want to read it too.

9. Could you tell me some of the reasons why you think that Chicago is the “best city in the world”? If I were to go there (which I already have!), what are some activities or attractions you would recommend to a visitor?

Chicago is beautiful and filled with diverse, smart, talented people. It’s got every type of food you can imagine with a ton of pro sports teams and there’s just a cool vibe when you walk along the lakefront. I’d recommend trying foods from around the world at all of the ethnic restaurants we have, take a bike ride through Grant Park and Buckingham Fountain, visit the Art Institute, and catch a free symphony on Wednesday afternoons in the summer near the Bean! Of course you should go have a snack and a drink on the Signature Room on the 95th and 96th floors in the John Hancock (and you don’t have to pay to go to the 98th floor observation deck).

10. I am so glad I got to see you at the Southeastern Young Adult Book Festival in Murfreesboro, TN! What do you like most about being an author at book festivals? How was your experience at SE-YA?

SE-YA Fest was amaaaazing! I loved how many teens were bussed in for the day to attend the event! So fun to talk to a room full of eager readers that had the most hilarious questions for the authors. It was so well run and the campus where it was held was stunning. What I like most is being able to talk with teens about books, and especially happy when they’ve read my book and want to take a picture with me. Makes me feel so happy and proud.

11. Have you written any other works? What can we expect from you in the future?SmartCookie_Cover(1)

Always writing, always hoping the next book is picked up by an editor who loves it too. I’ve written a humorous MG sci-fi novel that my agent will be sending out to editors soon. My “WIP” (work-in-progress) has some “eco-fiction” elements in it the way Flip the Bird did, but this one also has a futuristic world and a suspense plot filled with lots of twists. Fingers crossed that all my books eventually land in the hands of readers.

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

Read, read, read…and write, write, write. Everything takes practice so you’ll have to write for awhile before you can critically read your own work. Join a critique group and have others read your stories and tell you what is working and what isn’t is the most valuable tip I can give you. Writing a book is hard work, but anyone can do it if they dedicate the time to making the pages sing. Best of luck and thanks for interviewing


About Flip the BirdFlipTheBirdCover

Mercer Buddie wants two things in this world: a girlfriend and the chance to prove to his master falconer father that he’s not a flake. With hunting season fast approaching, fourteen-year-old Mercer has only a short time to work with Flip, a red-tailed hawk he irreverently named to show his dad that falconers don’t have to be so serious all the time.


When Mercer meets Lucy, he falls hard for her gorgeous looks and bubbly personality. He thinks his love life is about to take flight, until he discovers that Lucy and her family belong to a fanatical animal-rights organization called HALT—a group that believes imposing any sort of restrictions on animals is a form of cruelty. Mercer soon realizes that if he wants to keep seeing Lucy, he’ll need to keep his love of falconry and his family’s raptor rehabilitation center a secret from her, and Lucy’s involvement with HALT from his family.


With humor and honesty, Mercer’s story shows how growing up means making diff
icult choices…and sometimes, being rewarded in unexpected ways.


About the Author

Kym Brunner dreams entire novels in her head, but needs about a year to write it all down.  She wishes there was an app for this. She’s addicted to chai tea, going to the movies, and reality TV. When she’s not reading or writing, Kym teaches 7th grade full time. Her article, Cracking Down on Multiple POVs:  Surrender and Nobody Gets Hurt, appeared in Writer’s Digest online (July, 2014). She is the author of the three YA novels listed below. She lives in the Chicago area with her family and her two trusty writing companions, a pair of Shih Tzus named Sophie and Kahlua. Keep in touch by following her on Facebook (Author Kym Brunner), Twitter (@KymBrunner), or at her website, http://www.kymbrunner.com.

Wanted: Dead or in Love, Merit Press, June, 2014
One Smart Cookie, Omnific Publishing, July, 2014
Flip the Bird, HMH Books for Young Readers (coming Nov. 1, 2016)

Website
Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads 


Now onto the giveaway!
Please check out the rules and make sure you FOLLOW them!

Hope you enjoyed this interview! 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