Celebrating Debutantes · FEATURES · Giveaways · Interviews · Writings

Celebrating Debutantes 2017: Kat Greene Comes Clean by Melissa Roske (Movie Cast + Giveaway)

Happy Wednesday to all! I am thrilled to have debut author Melissa Roske here on the blog today as part of Celebrating Debutantes 2017 event. Melissa will be sharing to us her casting pick for her upcoming middle grade novel, Kat Greene Comes Clean. The book releases next week, don’t forget to buy copies.

To know more about Melissa and Kat Greene Comes Clean, check the author’s bio and book’s description that follows after the guest post. There are also links where you can catch up with the author or where to pre-order copies of the book. And if you are from the US or Canada and would like to take a chance in winning a copy of the book and swags, there’s a giveaway at the end of this post. Just enter the rafflecopter form. But before that, here’s Melissa with her casting pick for Kat Greene Comes Clean. Enjoy!

Kat Greene Comes Clean Movie Cast

Kat Greene—Ruby Barnhill
Best known for her role in The BFG, the 2016 movie based on Roald Dahl’s beloved middle-grade novel, Barnhill captures Kat’s easy charm and spunky personality. Plus she’s completely adorable—just like Kat!

Mom—Jayma Mays
Not only is Mays wearing Mom’s signature overalls in this photo, she is a brilliant actress who can play comic and dramatic roles equally well. She scores extra points for portraying a TV character with OCD—Emma Pillsbury, the high-school guidance counselor, in the long-running series, Glee—in an accurate and fair manner.

Halle Maklansky—Amandla Stenberg
Stenberg, who is best known for her portrayal of Rue in the 2012 adaptation of Suzanne Collins’ best-selling novel, The Hunger Games, has a warm playful in her eye—just as I imagine Kat’s BFF, Halle, would.

Sam Teitelbaum—Sean Giambrone
his versatile actor is best known for playing Adam Goldberg in the TV series The Goldbergs, and he looks exactly the way I imagined Kat’s friend Sam would: happy, with curly hair and glasses, and a “wide-face-splitting grin.” Perfect!

Michael McGraw—Jason Bonnell
Bonnel’s movies aren’t exactly child-friendly (his latest film, Adam K, is about an insurance-salesman-turned-serial killer), but he bears an uncanny physical resemblance—in my mind—to Halle’s crush, the cute-but-dim Michael McGraw.

Olympia Rabinowitz — Anne Lamott
I actually had the writer Anne Lamott in mind when I wrote Olympia’s character (“Her hair is the color of orange Kool-Aid and styled in lots of skinny braids”), so even though I’m not choosing an actor to portray Olympia, the psychologist at Kat’s hippie-dippy school, I think it works!

Dad—Ben Affleck.
Affleck is able to pull off a wide variety of roles, from a mild-mannered accountant to Batman. So why not Kat’s dad too?

Barbara—Julia Roberts.
Like Jayma Mays, Roberts is known for playing both comic and dramatic roles. In the book, Kat’s stepmom, Barbara, has a good sense of humor, but she also has to have a firm grip on her son, Henry, who can be a “real handful.”

Henry—William Watkins.
I actually found this cutie-pie by googling “three-year-old child actors”! He would be excellent as Kat’s little brother, Henry—and he’s wearing a superhero T-shirt and little-kid Converse. Love it!


Melissa Roske is a writer of contemporary middle-grade fiction. Before spending her days with imaginary people, Melissa interviewed real ones, as a journalist in Europe. In London, she landed a job as an advice columnist for Just Seventeen magazine, where she answered hundreds of letters from readers each week. Upon returning to her native New York, Melissa contributed to several books and magazines, selected jokes for Reader’s Digest, and got certified as a life coach. She lives on the Upper East Side of Manhattan with her husband, daughter, and the occasional dust bunny.

Find Melissa

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads


Book Details:

Title: Kat Greene Comes Clean
Author: Melissa Roske
Publisher: Charlesbridge
Publication Date: August 22, 2017
Pages: 224
Format: Hardcover, eBook

Eleven-year-old Kat Greene has a lot on her pre-rinsed plate, thanks to her divorced mom’s obsession with cleaning. When Mom isn’t scrubbing every inch of their Greenwich Village apartment, she’s boiling the silverware or checking Kat’s sheets for bedbugs. It’s enough to make any sane middle schooler crazy! Add friendship troubles to the mix, a crummy role in the school play, and Mom’s decision to try out for Clean Sweep, a TV game show about cleaning, and what have you got? More trouble than Kat can handle. At least, without a little help from her friends. 


Book Links

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What’s up for Grab?

  • Copy of Kat Greene Comes Clean by Melissa Roske and
  • Bookmarks & Stickers

The Rules:

  • Open to US/CA
  • There will be one (1) lucky winner
  • Winner will be chosen and announced by rafflecopter
  • Winner will be contacted thru email & should response within 48 hours
  • Ends September 6th, 2017
  • Prizes will be sent by the author

To enter fill out the rafflecopter form

Good Luck!!!

Treat yourself to a complete #CelebratingDebutantes2017 experience. Click the image below for the full list of schedule and links to each feature post or check out twitter and facebook using #CelebratingDebutantes2017.


Celebrating Debutantes · FEATURES · Giveaways · Interviews

Celebrating Debutantes 2017: The Girl with the Red Balloon by Katherine Locke (Author Interview + Giveaway)

Today I’m featuring new author Katherine Locke and her historical fantasy novel, The Girl with the Red Balloon as part of Celebrating Debutantes 2017 blog event. The Girl with the Red Balloon is one of my most anticipated novels of 2017. Not only I am curious with how the author mixed different genres in this novel, but also excited to meet the diverse cast of characters. Though it is not uncommon for Jewish characters to be represented in fiction, I still feel like we don’t have enough especially in young adult shelves.

The Girl with the Red Balloon releases in few weeks, don’t forget to pre-order your copies.

Following the author interview is Katherine Locke’s author bio along with places where to find her online. Then there’s also the book description and where to buy copies of The Girl with the Red Balloon. And if you are in the US and would like the chance to win a copy of the book, Katherine is giving away a signed hardcover copy below. Just enter the rafflecopter form a bit further down in this post to be enter on the giveaway.

Interview with Katherine Locke

What was it like to make the transition from writing new adult romance fictions to young adult historical fantasy fiction?
I actually wrote the first draft of The Girl with the Red Balloon before I wrote Second Position. Historical fantasy is much more my norm, while new adult romance was the departure for me. I’m not sure that writing Turning Pointe, Second Position and Finding Center was a fluke as much as at that time, that was the story I wanted to tell and that’s how that story wanted to be told. And most of the stories I’m interested in telling end up being historical fiction. The only difference in writing historical fantasy and new adult romance, for me at least, is that a lot more people die in my historical fantasy.

The Girl with the Red Balloon is a mix of historical fiction, time travel, mystery, and magical realism. Did you intend to write the story with all these? Or it just happen while you are writing the book?
That’s a good question! The time travel and the magic has always been part of it, but everything else kind of grew out of revisions and figuring out the heart of the story. The first draft was entirely Ellie’s point of view, and was less of a mystery than a thriller, I think. The timeline of Benno, the boy in the ghetto in 1941-1942, came later in the second draft, and Kai’s point of view added a whole new element too. I did a lot of weaving of certain elements, like Ellie’s doves, much later in the editing process.

What draws you to historical events as the backdrop of the novel? And why 1988 East Berlin?
This is complicated, and I keep trying to answer this without getting wonky and failing.
Essentially, it’s this: I’m really interested in how history shapes us as individual people, and I also think history is way more interesting than my standard K-12 education made it seem (for the most part: I had a couple of really great teachers who opened my eyes.) There are some really amazing things in history that we should be talking about and reading about, that have made us as individuals alive in the 21st century the way we are, even if we aren’t aware of them. So that’s why I’m a big fan of writing historical fiction. There’s just a ton of material there! I just really like adding magic into that mix.

The Girl with the Red Balloon is written in three different perspectives, giving readers a much-appreciated peek of each narratives. What kind of preparation did you do putting yourself in the mindset of three different characters, especially since they have a mixed backgrounds? Who’s easier to write, Ellie, Kai, or Benno? And why?
I wrote each character in a separate word document and then copy pasted to a master document, which is something I just repeated for Balloonmakers #2. It helps me maintain the voice of each character the best I can. For Benno’s chapters, which are tonally very different from the rest of the book, I wrote that at the very end, and inserted those chapters later. So it was a bit of a tricky writing process, but I think it worked out well in this case. I did a lot of research into slang and thought about the different ways Kai and Ellie would move through 1988 East Berlin. She walks more hesitantly, but talks less carefully, versus he’s very deliberate and takes up space in how he moves and thinks, but exceedingly cautious about what he says outside the house (as would be typical for someone in East Germany.)

Do you have a particular approach to research and writing?
I do a lot of it? I think that’s my approach. I usually read a book or two, read some blogs, and get some basic sense of the historical framework for a book, and then I do some research while writing it. I do additional research after I’m done a first draft, and then start inserting those details, like food, slang, music, clothing, street names, in the next draft. It’s the little things that help make a book feel real—I’ve never done ballet, and I’ve never been to Berlin (or anywhere in Germany)—but I know how to research and look for those things that make books feel real.

After the release of The Girl with the Red Balloon, what can we expect from you in the future? Anything you can tell about the sequel?
Sure! The second book is more of a companion than a sequel—it takes place 45 years earlier. Same balloon magic, new cast of main characters. You’ll see one familiar face there! It’s about a sister and a brother who are both recruited to use balloon magic on different parts of the Manhattan Project (the secret project to build the first atom bomb), and they each discover a spy in their midst.

As for what else you can expect from me in the future, I’m in an upcoming anthology called PILGRIM PLAYWRIGHT GENIE GUARD, edited by the amazing Marieke Nijkamp. I wrote a short story there about a girl with panic disorder and agoraphobia who needs to save her city which has come under attack.

And I’m busy working on future books! One’s another YA historical fantasy, and the other is a middle grade fantasy. When I can share more, I will!

And lastly before we end this interview, can you please share a snippet from The Girl with the Red Balloon to intrigue and tantalize us before the book hit the shelves in few weeks.
Sure! This is from an early chapter. Ellie snuck out of the safehouse, against Kai’s orders, and tried to go back to the park where she thinks she came from. She brought the balloon with her, hoping it’d just know to take her home, but she ran into both Kai and Ashasher, whom she calls the raven man for the raven feathers that circle his head continuously. Ashasher is one of the two people in charge of the magical balloons in East Berlin, and Kai is a Runner—he takes the balloon from the balloonmaker to the person trying to escape. Ellie just wants to go home.

“Have other Runners reported this?” the raven man asked Kai. “Other missing balloons? Missing Passengers?”
“You’re sure?”
“I am sure.” The heaviness in Kai’s voice carried the same edge as the heaviness on my chest, the knife at my hip, the churning of my stomach. Everything that had happened—the tug, the place around me so unlike the Berlin I’d seen, the balloon, the Wall… It was like seeing an accident about to happen. I flinched and looked away.
But my heart was a betrayer. “So it’s real,” I found myself saying. Kai and the raven man turned toward me, curious and confused. I clarified. “Balloons. Magic.”
Kai looked at the raven man, who lifted his face to the sky. His nod was tentative and tenuous. “Yes.”
I nodded slowly because I didn’t know what else to do. All those stories Saba had told…and where I was now. My ribs felt like they had closed with a cold, hard grip around my lungs. I couldn’t breathe. I let the balloon escape from my arms. I wrapped my bare hand around the string and whispered, “Then why won’t it take me home?”
“Balloons are not—” the raven man said in German, the last word unknown to me. I frowned at him, and he repeated in English, “Balloons are not omnidirectional.”
I pressed my lips together and forced myself to keep my tone even. “Obviously.”
The corner of Kai’s mouth twitched, and his gaze shot to his shoes again. I thought that was the closest he’d ever get to a smile, and it felt like a victory. The raven man said calmly, unaffected by my rancor, “What would you like the balloon to do? It brought you here. It did its duty as far as it is concerned.”
“You speak like it is sentient.”
He shook his head, the feathers spinning so fast I could no longer see his eyes. Kai clarified, translating my sentence from English into German. The feathers slowed, and the raven man’s eyes were dark but clear. “The magic may as well make it as such. It knew you somehow. You are meant to be here.”
Kai scowled. “She isn’t. She can’t be.” He sighed and added in German, “She is from a different time.”
I blinked. Exhaled. Inhaled. My vision tunneled down on a stray feather on the path. It was strange, wasn’t it, that no one walked by us. From a different time. In my mind, I saw the old- fashioned cars on the street. I thought about the Wall and the people with me. I’d known. I just hadn’t wanted it to be true. I had seen without believing. It’s impossible. Balloons just go over walls. But here I was.
Ashasher said, “Zeitreisende.”
“What?” I asked. “What did you call me?”
“Time traveler,” Kai said, his voice soaked with regret. “He called you a time traveler.”


Katherine Locke lives and writes in a very small town outside of Philadelphia, where she’s ruled by her feline overlords and her addiction to chai lattes. She writes about that which she cannot do: ballet, time travel, and magic. When she’s not writing, she’s probably tweeting. She not-so-secretly believes most stories are fairy tales in disguise. Her Young Adult debut, THE GIRL WITH THE RED BALLOON, arrives Fall 2017 from Albert Whitman & Company!

Find Katherine

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Book Details:

Title: The Girl with the Red Balloon
Author: Katherine Locke
Series: The Balloonmakers
Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company
Publication Date: September 01, 2017
Pages: 288
Format: Hardcover, Paperback, eBook

When sixteen-year-old Ellie Baum accidentally time-travels via red balloon to 1988 East Berlin, she’s caught up in a conspiracy of history and magic. She meets members of an underground guild in East Berlin who use balloons and magic to help people escape over the Wall—but even to the balloon makers, Ellie’s time travel is a mystery. When it becomes clear that someone is using dark magic to change history, Ellie must risk everything—including her only way home—to stop the process.

Book Links

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What’s up for Grab?

  • Signed copy of The Girl with the Red Balloon by Katherine Locke

The Rules:

  • Open to US
  • There will be one (1) winner
  • Winner will be chosen and announced by rafflecopter
  • Winner will be contacted thru email & should response within 48 hours
  • Ends September 4th, 2017
  • Prize will be sent by the author

To enter fill out the form

Good Luck!!!

Treat yourself to a complete #CelebratingDebutantes2017 experience. Click the image below for the full list of schedule and links to each feature post or check out twitter and facebook using #CelebratingDebutantes2017.

Celebrating Debutantes · FEATURES · Giveaways · Interviews

Celebrating Debutantes 2017: You Don’t Know Me But I Know You by Rebecca Barrow (Author Interview and Giveaway)

Welcome to another feature of Celebrating Debutantes 2017 event. Today I’m featuring new author Rebecca Barrow and her contemporary novel, You Don’t Know Me But I Know You. Rebecca is nice enough to answer few questions for me about her debut novel, and writing in general. I hope you guys enjoy the short interview.

To know more about the author and You Don’t Know Me But I Know You. Check Rebecca Barrow ’s bio and book’s description that follows after the interview. There are also links where you can catch up with the author or where to pre-order copies of the book. And if you’d like to own an advance readers’ copy of the book, there’s a giveaway at the bottom of this post. Just enter the rafflecopter form for a chance to win.

Interview with Rebecca Barrow

Have you always known you wanted to be a writer? What inspired your debut novel, You Don’t Know Me But I Know You?

Yes, I’ve pretty much always known I wanted to be a writer, along with many other things–writer was the only one that stuck, though. I wrote YDK because I wanted to explore one girl’s experience of dealing with an unplanned pregnancy and show everything she went through and felt in the process of making her decision–and how she had to make this big choice while still dealing with common teenage things like falling out with your best friend and being unsure of your future.

What qualities did you love exploring in Audrey as a character?

Audrey is quite independent and decisive–on the outside. I definitely wanted to explore the uncertainty she has about not only her pregnancy, but also her art, her family, how she feels about herself, all these things that she keeps kind of hidden away.

What was the biggest change you’ve made to the story before it reached an agent, editor, or publisher?

It went through a few different big changes over the years! I’ve talked about a couple of them in other places so this time I’ll say that in the very very first version, her best friend Rose did not exist at all, and Audrey was not a photographer.

Is there a secret or not-so-secret piece of this novel that came from something we may not realize is “real”?

This falls under not-so-secret but Audrey’s mother Laura is white and a natural redhead, while Audrey is mixed race with natural hair–this is very much taken from me and my mother (although I’m not adopted like Audrey).

Did you learn any deep, interesting, or shocking truths while working on this novel—about writing in general, or about yourself?

In terms of writing, this was definitely the book where I fully realised how much you can transform a novel from first draft to end product. First drafts are hard for me and usually so far away from what I had in my head, but this book taught me not to be afraid to just start over from scratch, to make big sweeping changes, until the thing on paper and the thing in my head somewhat match up.

What message do you hope people will take away from reading your book?

I hope people will see that people’s reproductive choices are nobody else’s but their own. Everyone has a different story and life and makes different choices, and it’s their absolute right to decide what is best for themselves.

After the release of You Don’t Know Me But I Know You, what can we expect from you in the future? Any ambitions for your writing career?

I’m working on my second book which should hopefully come out in 2018! After that: world domination–or, more books, more growth as a writer, and more challenging stories.


Rebecca Barrow writes stories about girls and all the wonders they can be. A lipstick obsessive with the ability to quote the entirety of Mean Girls, she lives in England, where it rains a considerable amount more than in the fictional worlds of her characters. She collects tattoos, cats, and more books than she could ever possibly read. YOU DON’T KNOW ME BUT I KNOW YOU is her first novel.

Find Rebecca

Website | Twitter | Instagram|Tumblr | Goodreads


Book Details:

Title: You Don’t Know Me but I Know You
Author: Rebecca Barrow
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: August 29, 2017
Pages: 336
Format: Hardcover, eBook

Rebecca Barrow’s bright, honest debut novel about chance, choice, and unconditional love is a heartfelt testament to creating the future you truly want, one puzzle piece at a time.

There’s a box in the back of Audrey’s closet that she rarely thinks about.

Inside is a letter, seventeen years old, from a mother she’s never met, handed to her by the woman she’s called Mom her whole life. Being adopted, though, is just one piece in the puzzle of Audrey’s life—the picture painstakingly put together by Audrey herself, full of all the people and pursuits that make her who she is.

But when Audrey realizes that she’s pregnant, she feels something—a tightly sealed box in the closet corners of her heart—crack open, spilling her dormant fears and unanswered questions all over the life she loves.

Almost two decades ago, a girl in Audrey’s situation made a choice, one that started Audrey’s entire story. Now Audrey is paralyzed by her own what-ifs and terrified by the distance she feels growing between her and her best friend Rose. Down every possible path is a different unfamiliar version of her life, and as she weighs the options in her mind, she starts to wonder—what does it even mean to be Audrey Spencer?

Book Links

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What’s up for Grab?

  • ARC of You Don’t Know Me But I Know You by Rebecca Barrow

The Rules:

  • Open to International
  • There will be one (1) winner
  • Winner will be chosen and announced by rafflecopter
  • Winner will be contacted thru email & should response within 48 hours
  • Ends September 2nd, 2017
  • Prize will be sent by the author

To enter fill out the form

Good Luck!!!

Treat yourself to a complete #CelebratingDebutantes2017 experience. Click the image below for the full list of schedule and links to each feature post or check out twitter and facebook using #CelebratingDebutantes2017.

Celebrating Debutantes · FEATURES · Giveaways · Guest Post

Celebrating Debutantes 2017: Lost Boys by Darcey Rosenblatt (Playlist + Giveaway)

Today I am featuring another playlist for Celebrating Debutantes 2017 blog event. Debut author Darcey Rosenblatt made a playlist for her debut middle grade novel, Lost Boys.

Lost Boys is based on historical facts, and tells the story of Reza, who is a 12-year old Iranian boy. He lives for music and hanging out with friends. Then the Revolution of 1979 and the Iran/Iraq war take away not only his music, but too many people he loves. In his despair and at his mother’s urging, he signs up to fight. Soon he finds himself in an Iraqi prisoner of war camp where he must find a way, through music and friendship, to forge his own path.

Following the playlist are some information about the author, Darcey Rosenblatt along with places where to find her online, as well as the book‘s description and where to get copies of Lost Boys. The book will hit the shelves in less than two weeks, so if you haven’t pre-ordered your copy yet you still have time to grab it online.

And if you would like the chance to win a copy of the Lost Boys, Darcey is giving away two copies and bookmarks, which is open to everyone. Just enter the rafflecopter form a bit further down in this post to be enter on the giveaway.

Lost Boys Playlist

This is an eclectic collection including all the things that Reza, my main character, mentions in the book and would have been listening to in 1982 – the year the book takes place. It spans everything from The Beatles, traditional Iranian music and Bob Marley. I hope you enjoy.


Darcey Rosenblatt writes for middle grade and teenage people because she believes for them stories can be life changing – they were for her. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her fabulous husband and daughter, some fish, and the best dog in the world. She also loves dancing and painting.

Find Darcey

Website | Twitter | InstagramFacebook | Goodreads


Book Details:

Title: Lost Boys
Author: Darcey Rosenblatt
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Publication Date: August 22, 2017
Pages: 288
Format: Hardcover, Paperback, eBook, Audio

 Based on historical events, this unforgettable and inspiring tale for middle-grade readers is about a young boy torn from the only life he’s ever known and held captive as a prisoner of war.

In 1982, twelve-year-old Reza has no interest in joining Iran’s war effort against Iraq. But in the wake of a tragedy and at his mother’s urging, he decides to enlist, assured by the authorities that he will achieve paradise should he die in service to his country.

War does not bring the glory the boys of Iran have been promised, and Reza soon finds himself held in a prisoner-of-war camp in Iraq, where the guards not only threaten violence—they act upon it. Will Reza make it out alive? And if he does, will he even have a home to return to?

Friendship, heartbreak, and Reza’s very survival are at stake as he finds solace through music and forges his own path—wherever that might take him.

Book Links:

Amazon | B&N | Book Depository | Goodreads | Publisher


What’s up for Grab?

  • Two copies of  Lost Boys by Darcey Rosenblatt with bookmarks

The Rules:

  • Open International
  • There will be two (2) winners
  • Winners will be chosen and announced by rafflecopter
  • Winners will be contacted thru email & should response within 48 hours
  • Ends August 31st, 2017
  • Prizes will be sent by the author

To enter fill out the rafflecopter form

Good Luck!!!

Treat yourself to a complete #CelebratingDebutantes2017 experience. Click the banner above or go to the full list of schedule and links to each feature post or check out twitter and facebook via #CelebratingDebutantes2017.


Roar (Stormheart #1) by Cora Carmack

“Confusion leads to knowledge for those brave enough to seek it.”

In a land ruled and shaped by violent magical storms, power lies with those who control them.

Aurora Pavan comes from one of the oldest Stormling families in existence. Long ago, the ungifted pledged fealty and service to her family in exchange for safe haven, and a kingdom was carved out from the wildlands and sustained by magic capable of repelling the world’s deadliest foes. As the sole heir of Pavan, Aurora’s been groomed to be the perfect queen. She’s intelligent and brave and honorable. But she’s yet to show any trace of the magic she’ll need to protect her people.

To keep her secret and save her crown, Aurora’s mother arranges for her to marry a dark and brooding Stormling prince from another kingdom. At first, the prince seems like the perfect solution to all her problems. He’ll guarantee her spot as the next queen and be the champion her people need to remain safe. But the more secrets Aurora uncovers about him, the more a future with him frightens her. When she dons a disguise and sneaks out of the palace one night to spy on him, she stumbles upon a black market dealing in the very thing she lacks—storm magic. And the people selling it? They’re not Stormlings. They’re storm hunters.

Legend says that her ancestors first gained their magic by facing a storm and stealing part of its essence. And when a handsome young storm hunter reveals he was born without magic, but possesses it now, Aurora realizes there’s a third option for her future besides ruin or marriage.

She might not have magic now, but she can steal it if she’s brave enough.

Challenge a tempest. Survive it. And you become its master.

Book Links: Amazon | B&N | BookDepo | Goodreads | Publisher

Personal Thoughts:

Roar is the first installment of a YA fantasy Stormheart series that introduced magical storms and a princess without magic but will travel a great length to keep her kingdom and prove that she can control her own life even her future is already decided for her.

Aurora Pavan is the heir to the throne, groomed by her mother to be the perfect Queen. She came from a long line of Stormling rulers who has the power to dispels storms with the help of stones or gems called stormhearts. At the age of eighteen Aurora’s magic does not manifest yet. She has no power to control any storms even rumors tells otherwise. Without magic to protect her people, Aurora will lose her Kingdom, so her Mother try to form an alliance to other Stormling rulers by marrying Aurora to stormling Prince, Cassius. But Cassius has his own reason for agreeing with the marriage and it doesn’t have to do with alliance. When Aurora discover a black market and meet storm hunters she realized that marriage is not the only choice to claim the throne and retain her Kingdom.

“All things were unfamiliar once upon a time. If we all gave up when there were no answers to be found, there would not be hunters like us. Sometimes you must make answers when there are none.”

What I really like about this novel is the magical concepts that Cora Carmack introduced – magical storms with hearts and practically alive, souls reincarnated as storms after death, and Storm hunters who fight storms with or without magic. These things are fresh concepts for me. I haven’t read anything like these before, which makes the book interesting and intriguing at the very least.

Aurora as the main character started as insecure girl without a power to protect her Kingdom. I admit, she’s not the best heroine out there, she annoyed me sometimes with her decisions and her temper got on my nerves that sometimes I feel like my patience is draining really fast. But throughout the course of the story, I found some growth in her, not just with her physical strength and magical power but most importantly as a person. I hope to see more development on her in the next installment because I don’t think she really hit her full potential here. Not yet, but definitely still growing.

The other characters are a mixed cast of stereotypical characters. There is an antihero in Cassius, likable hero in Locke, and intriguing and loyal friends in Nova and Jinx. Though they are a bit common and predictable for me, I still find them equally intriguing just like Aurora.

And since Cora Carmack is first known for her romance novels, it is expected to have some romance thrown in the story. Aurora and Locke relationships started in an instant connection, which normally I don’t like in my readings. In here, it’s not that I don’t like it but more like I don’t mind it, which is worse. Because it means, I don’t care enough about the characters. Though I enjoy the banters between Aurora and Locke, they don’t make me swoon or root for them as a couple.

That one quibble aside, Roar is still an enjoyable fresh read. Cora Carmack introduced a unique magical concepts in this first installment of her fantasy series, Stormheart. With enough intrigue and suspense especially about the magical storms, readers will surely find themselves immerse in Aurora’s world.


* This review is based on an advance reader’s copy I received courtesy of the publisher, MacMillan International in exchange of honest opinion about the book.


Celebrating Debutantes · FEATURES · Giveaways · Interviews

Celebrating Debutantes 2017: The Thing with Feathers by McCall Hoyle (Author Interview and Giveaway)

Welcome to another feature of Celebrating Debutantes 2017 event. Today I’m featuring new author McCall Hoyle and her contemporary novel, The Thing with Feathers. This wonderful diverse book is not only heart-warming but also full of hope.

To know more about the author and The Thing with Feathers. Check the McCall’s bio and book’s description that follows after the interview. There are also links where you can catch up with the author or where to pre-order copies of the book. And if you’d like to own a signed advance readers’ copy of the book and swags, there’s a giveaway at the end of this post. Just enter the rafflecopter form for a chance to win.

Interview with McCall Hoyle

How was the experience writing your debut novel, The Thing with Feathers and going through the publication process?

The Thing with Feathers is my first book, but I truly believe it will always be the book of my heart. Although, I am in no way Emilie, the main character in the book, I have felt all the emotions she experiences—grief, hope, feelings of inadequacy.

I’m not going to lie, the road to publication is long and arduous. But every step along the way was worth it when I first held an advance copy of the book in my hands and especially when I read the acknowledgements and realized yet again how lucky I am to have had so much help along the way from family, critique partners, professional organizations like Romance Writers of America.

I love the title and cover art of The Thing with Feathers. If I’m not mistaken the title comes from Emily Dickinson’s poem. Did you have any say in choosing the title and cover art? How important do you think they are?

Yes, the title is a line from a well-known Emily Dickinson poem. She writes: “’Hope’ is the thing with feathers; that perches in the soul; “ When the title came to me, I knew it was perfect. Everything about this book and about Emilie, the main character, is about learning to find hope even in the most difficult circumstances. And reading poetry and studying Emily Dickinson have a major impact on Emilie’s emotional arc in this story. Thankfully, my agent, editor, and publisher also agreed the title was perfect. I don’t personally think a title is going to make or break a book, but I love a nice title—especially one that’s somehow connected to the theme of the book and that readers have to uncover the meaning of for themselves.

Mental health themes in YA novels are not only widening but also getting lots of buzz especially with how they are portrayed. What can you say about this? What message do you want readers to take away from your book?

I’m too new to the business of publishing to address trends or speak for other books. But I can speak for Emilie. I want readers to relate to Emilie on an emotional level. Epilepsy is not a mental illness, but living with an invisible and stressful disorder like can greatly impact a person’s mental health. As a teacher, a mom, and a human, I believe we all struggle with complex issues at varying levels whether it’s epilepsy, anxiety, depression, body-image issues, grief or something entirely different. I want readers to read Emilie’s story and realize that we all struggle, but that struggling is not a reason to give up hope. No matter how flawed we feel, no matter how awful the adversity, we can always find a reason to hope. I want teenage girls to have the courage to believe in their own happily-ever-afters.

As a writer, was it difficult to combine romantic elements with the exploration of Emilie’s condition?

That is an excellent question. First, I wanted this to be Emilie’s story. I wanted it to be a story of strength and resilience and hope. I did not want the romance to overshadow Emilie’s emotional growth. But in my experience, relationships are a central part of who we are. We’re constantly starting, developing, and ending relationships. Emilie’s story is about opening up, taking risks, and learning to hope. Taking a risk on friendship and first love were a natural part of her growth as a human being. I feel like it worked. Epilepsy is a big part of Emilie’s life, but it’s not her entire life. She’s a perfectly average teenage girl. Yes, she has epilepsy, but she’s also dealing with all the things teenage girls deal with including boys. 🙂

What was one of the most surprising things you’ve learned in writing  Emilie’s story? Any interesting things you found out during your research?

Of course, I did lots and lots of research on epilepsy, different types of seizures, the effects of epilepsy on mental health and day-to-day living, as well as various treatment options. I also read several stories about the benefits of therapy dogs, seizure response dogs, and dogs in general and became fascinated by the touching and almost magical relationships between dogs and humans. Emilie has a seizure response dog named Hitch, inspired by a real life golden retriever and by many of the stories I read. Several early readers seem to love Hitch as much as they do Emilie. I encourage readers to do some research of their own if they fall in love with Hitch.

How did you go about putting yourself in Emilie’s mindset? How did you manage your emotions while writing?

I’ve taught middle school and high school for several years. I’ve raised a teenage daughter, and I was a teenage girl. On an average day, I spend more time with teenagers than with adults. Also, I experienced some of the greatest trials of my life during my teenage years. It’s actually frighteningly easy for me to put myself in the mindset of teenage girls. Emilie struggles with managing the challenges of her epilepsy and her seizures, but in my experience, all teenage girls are struggling with something. When I write, whether it’s about a girl with epilepsy, or a girl struggling with grief, or a girl struggling with body image issues, I just try to tap into the emotions I’ve experienced in similar situations. And above all, I aim for honesty. I want teenage girls to know that no matter how flawed they feel, there is always room to hope.

And I did cry as I wrote several scenes in the book, but I tried very hard not to “manage” my emotions. I tried to embrace them. I think readers want to feel something. So when my own writing rips me apart emotionally, I generally think I’m writing some of my best words.

Do you think you’ll stick writing YA contemporary or branch out into something else? Any future works we should watch out?

I will ALWAYS write YA contemporary. My heart and soul reside in the emotions there. But I do have an adventurous side and would love to experiment with something gruesome and terrifying and maybe women’s fiction as well. I love writing about sisters and moms and daughters.

Fingers crossed on the YA contemporary that I’m currently revising for my editor. I think it would pair nicely with Emilie’s story and would love to have a 2018 release as well.

Thanks for having me!


McCall Hoyle writes honest YA novels about friendship, first love, and girls finding the strength to overcome great challenges. She is a high school English teacher. Her own less-than-perfect teenage experiences and those of the girls she teaches inspire many of the struggles in her books. When she’s not reading or writing, she’s spending time with her family and their odd assortment of pets—a food-obsessed beagle, a grumpy rescue cat, and a three-and-a-half-legged kitten. She has an English degree from Columbia College and a master’s degree from Georgia State University. She lives in a cottage in the woods in North Georgia where she reads and writes every day. 

Find McCall

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Book Details:

Title: The Thing with Feathers
Author: McCall Hoyle
Publisher: Blink
Publication Date: September 05, 2017
Pages: 288
Format: Hardcover, eBook, Audio

Emilie Day believes in playing it safe: she’s homeschooled, her best friend is her seizure dog, and she’s probably the only girl on the Outer Banks of North Carolina who can’t swim.

Then Emilie’s mom enrolls her in public school, and Emilie goes from studying at home in her pj’s to halls full of strangers. To make matters worse, Emilie is paired with starting point guard Chatham York for a major research project on Emily Dickinson. She should be ecstatic when Chatham shows interest, but she has a problem. She hasn’t told anyone about her epilepsy.

Emilie lives in fear her recently adjusted meds will fail and she’ll seize at school. Eventually, the worst happens, and she must decide whether to withdraw to safety or follow a dead poet’s advice and “dwell in possibility.”

Book Links

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What’s up for Grab?

  • signed advance readers copy of The Thing with Feathers
  • bookmark, and postcard

The Rules:

  • Open to International
  • There will be one (1) winner
  • Winner will be chosen and announced by rafflecopter
  • Winner will be contacted thru email & should response within 48 hours
  • Ends August 29th, 2017
  • Prize will be sent via book depository

To enter fill out the form

Good Luck!!!

Treat yourself to a complete #CelebratingDebutantes2017 experience. Click the image below for the full list of schedule and links to each feature post or check out twitter and facebook using #CelebratingDebutantes2017.

Celebrating Debutantes · FEATURES · Giveaways · Guest Post · Interviews

Celebrating Debutantes 2017: Seeking Mansfield by Kate Watson (Character Interview and Giveaway)

Today, I’m featuring a YA contemporary retelling of Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park. Author Kate Watson take her own spin of the classic story in her debut novel, Seeking Mansfield. Kate re-imagine Mansfield Park in a modern setting with a dash of humor and romance. So if you haven’t read the book yet, I suggest you pick a copy. And check the character interview below for a chance to meet and know a little bit about the main character Finley Price.

Following the character interview is Kate Watson’s author bio along with places where to find her online. Then there’s also the book description and where to buy copies of Seeking Mansfield. And if you are in the US or Canada and would like the chance to win a copy of the book, Kate is giving away a finished copy. Just enter the rafflecopter form a bit further down in this post to be enter on the giveaway.

Character Interview with Finley Price of Seeking Mansfield

Hi Finley! How are you? Please introduce yourself so everyone know a little bit more about you. 

Hi, thanks for having me. I’m Finley Price. *shy wave* I love theater and movies, if you can’t tell from the state of my room. In Harry Potter speak, I guess I’d be a Hufflepuff. In Hamilton speak, I’d definitely be Eliza. Oh, do you see my Hamilton Playbill? Isn’t it gorgeous? I’ve seen Hamilton twice now, and I’m seriously considering selling off a kidney to see it again. It’s one of my favorite…what, sorry?

Why do I have so many posters of Gabriel Price?

Do we have to talk about that? I’d really rather talk about why I think so few plays translate into movies, and why some film stars struggle to connect on the stage. I’d even rather talk about what it’s like to be displaced, living with my godparents or the challenges of sorting through feelings of love versus feelings of duty and…and…

Yes, Gabriel Price was my dad. And I know he was a phenomenal actor, but he was an even better father. He was the best person who ever lived.

Lets say you have a chance to talk to your Dad right now, what are the things you want to tell him? 

Wow, you’re not making this easy on a girl, are you? I guess I’d tell him I love him and thank him for making me feel so wholly, unconditionally loved as I was growing up. I would want him to know that I’m trying to be my best every day, just like he did, and that, although I struggle with feelings of anger and self-worth and not quite knowing where I belong in this world, none of those things are his fault. If anything, I’d be completely lost without the influence he still has on me. And, you know, I’d tell him how much I miss him. Every second of every day.

Anything you want to tell to your Mom?

My mom? No. I don’t have anything to say to her. I prefer not to think about her, honestly. If anything, she should have some things to say to me. Mothers are supposed to be there for you and love you and grieve with you and let you grieve. They’re supposed to be the shoulder you cry on, not burn your shoulder with cigarettes on the morning of your dad’s funeral because you begged her to put down the bottle and… *sharp intake of breath*

No. I have nothing to say to her. Can you, I don’t know, is it possible for that to be off the record, maybe? I’d like to move on now.

To those who are not familiar with theater. What are the key responsibilities of a theatrical director?

Oh, good. I like this question. Directing is so much more than just auditions, casting, and leading rehearsals. It’s pacing and emotion and creating a memorable experience. A director works with all the different tech and design crews to make sure the production looks and sounds right. They also block the play—meaning they outline exactly how the actors stand to ensure things like appropriate audience sight lines and, well, dramatic effect. They have to be involved with pretty much every step of a production to make sure their vision can become a satisfying reality for the audience.

I’m sure you are familiar with Jane Austen. What do you think of her and her works? Any favourite book of her?

Actually—am I allowed to admit this?—I haven’t read any Jane Austen. I’m sure I will someday, but I read plays more than anything. Shakespeare, Arthur Miller, Oscar Wilde, all of the classics. When it comes to classic novels, though…oh, I love Charlotte Bronte! I think I’ve read Jane Eyre about 15 times. The way Jane fights for her freedom and wants to be her own person, the way she wants to be someone who acts instead of just being acted upon? And how she wants to live a life of passion and equality, all while holding true to her personal values? I love it. Her courage inspires me.

What play directed by someone else you wish you’d directed?

Hamilton. Next question?

What advice do you have for potential theatrical director who has big dreams like you?

I don’t know if I’m in a place to deliver anyone advice, but I’ll tell you what I do. I’ve read every book on stage directing and the biographies of famous directors and playwrights. I love learning about the craft and the people who push boundaries to make it great. Beyond that, I try to make sure that, in whatever I’m watching—especially plays, but also TV and movies—I act as a student of the craft. I allow myself to watch something for pleasure only once, and then the second or third time is with a critical eye while taking copious notes. Repeat viewings of a play, for example, allow me to look past the performances and spectacle and see the mechanics that make everything come to life. And I find watching poorly executed plays to be as helpful as well executed ones, because then I can compare and contrast the experiences.

And lastly, what’s the worse movie you’ve seen?

Define worst. Because a lot of different categories own a “worst movie.” The worst horror movie will give you a completely different experience than the worst dance movie or the worst disaster movie (which is almost redundant, really, because disaster movies tend to be so deliciously awful, don’t they?). That said, my favorite types of movies to hate watch are probably horror or sci-fi/disaster. But then, you have to ask yourself, what did the creators intend with this movie? Like Troll 2 can’t really be compared to Sharknado, because the former is totally unintentional, and delivers a special, delightful type of pain, while the latter is brilliantly deliberate, which dramatically reduces the cringe-factor.

So…um, I’m sorry. Can you repeat the question?

Thanks so much Finley for answering all my questions above. And thank you also to Kate for allowing Finley to do this interview.


Kate Watson is a young adult writer, wife, mother of two, and the tenth of thirteen children. Originally from Canada, she attended college in the States and holds a BA in Philosophy. Seeking Mansfield is her first novel, with the companion, Shoot the Moon, to follow in 2018. She is also a contributor to Eric Smith’s Welcome Home adoption anthology coming fall of 2017 from Flux. She lives and writes in Arizona.

Kate is represented by Dawn Frederick with Red Sofa Literary.

Find Kate

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Book Details:

Title: Seeking Mansfield
Author: Kate Watson
Publisher: Flux
Publication Date: May 16, 2017
Pages: 300
Format: Paperback, eBook

Sixteen year-old Finley Price has perfected two things: how to direct a world-class production, and how to fly way, way under the radar. The only person who ever seems to notice Finley is her best friend and godparents’ son, Oliver Bertram. If she could just take Oliver’s constant encouragement to heart, she’d finally chase her dream of joining the prestigious Mansfield Theater.

When teen movie stars Emma and Harlan Crawford move across the street from the Bertram’s, they immediately set their sights on Oliver and his vapid sister, Juliette, shaking up Finley and Oliver’s stable friendship. As Emma and Oliver grow closer, Harlan finds his attention shifting from Juliette to the quiet, enigmatic, and thoroughly unimpressed Finley. Out of boredom, Harlan decides to make her fall in love with him. Problem is, the harder he seeks to win her, the harder he falls for her.

But Finley doesn’t want to be won, and she doesn’t want to see Oliver with anyone else. To claim Oliver’s heart—and keep her own—she’ll have to find the courage to do what she fears most: step into the spotlight.

SEEKING MANSFIELD is a charming YA contemporary reimagining of Jane Austen’s classic Mansfield Park, perfect for fans of Stephanie Perkins and Rainbow Rowell.

Book Links

Amazon | B&N | BAM | Book Depository | Goodreads | IndieBound


What’s up for Grab?

  • Finished copy of Seeking Mansfield by Kate Watson

The Rules:

  • Open to US or Canda residents only
  • There will be one (1) winner
  • Winner will be chosen and announced through rafflecopter
  • Winner will be contacted thru email & should response within 48 hours
  • Ends August 25th, 2017
  • Prize will be sent by the author

To enter fill out the rafflecopter form

Good Luck!!!

Treat yourself to a complete #CelebratingDebutantes2017 experience. Click the image below for the full list of schedule and links to each feature post or check out twitter and facebook using #CelebratingDebutantes2017.