Books · REVIEWS

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.

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* 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.

 

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Books · REVIEWS

Beanstalker and Other Hilarious Scarytales by Kiersten White

“…spelling matters.”

Once upon a time, a girl skipped into the forest and became a zombie.

Wait, no, that’s not how this story is supposed to go. Let’s try again.

Once upon a time, a boy did a horrible job as a sheep-sitter and burned his tongue on stolen pie.

No, children in these stories are always good and virtuous. From the top.

Once upon a time, a king and queen tried to find a princess for their son to marry, and he wound up fleeing from a group of very hairy vampires.

Hmmm…

What about, once upon a time, a bunch of fairy tales got twisted around to be completely hilarious, a tiny bit icky, and delightfully spooky scarytales… in other words, exactly what fairy tales were meant to be. Grab some flaming torches, maybe don’t accept that bowl of pease porridge, and get ready for a wickedly fun ride with acclaimed author Kiersten White and fairy tales like you’ve never heard them before.

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

Personal Thoughts:

Beanstalker and Other Hilarious Scarytales is a twisted fairy tale collection for kids. It’s scary, fun, creative and delightful.

Having read the first two books of Kiersten White’s The Conqueror’s Saga, I am eager to try her other works. So when I get the chance to read this latest novel, Beanstalker and Other Hilarious Scarytales, I just couldn’t pass that chance. Add the fact that the book promise a delightful read with all the fantasy and retelling, I just have to read the book.

In Beanstalker and Other Hilarious Scarytales, Kiersten White not only turn the familiar fairy tale characters to their twisted version, but also managed to make their story surprisingly dark and fun at the same time. In here, will get Kiersten White’s fun side with her twisted sense of humor. Though I have to admit, as much as I enjoy this one, I have few reservations, especially considering the book is for kids. So fair warning, the book is bit spooky and there is one off-putting scene, especially if you have a vivid imagination like me.

The familiar characters we all love such as Rapunzel, Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Snow White and others get a new, twisted and frightening look. Snow White is a vampire, Red Riding Hood is a zombie, Goldilocks is a thug, and Cinderella and Prince Charring are pyromaniacs. There are also twisted version of kids rhymes in each chapters, and sketches made by Karl Kwasny that adds creativity as well as balance to the creepy story.

Overall, Beanstalker and Other Hilarious Scarytales is a gorgeously looking, delightful, fun and spooky middle-grade fiction. Kiersten White not only manage to make the classic fairytales new but also bring the familiar characters into a different light. With horror, humor, fantasy, Middle-grade readers will surely enjoy this one. A perfect gift for kids during Holloween season.

* This review is based on an ARC received from the publisher, Scholastic Press Philippines in exchange for my honest opinion about the book.

Celebrating Debutantes · FEATURES · Giveaways

Celebrating Debutantes 2017: Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller (Review and Giveaway)

Welcome to another feature of Celebrating Debutantes 2017 event. Today I’m featuring new author Tricia Levenseller’s and her debut fantasy novel, Daughter of the Pirate King. I had so much fun reading this one. It’s fast paced, action packed and riveting. And if you’d like to know what else I thought, scroll down below for my review.

Then check also Tricia Levenseller’s author bio along with places where to find her online, and the book description and where to buy copies of Daughter of the Pirate King. And if you would like the chance to win a copy of the book, enter the rafflecopter form a bit further down in this post to be enter on the giveaway.

Review for Daughter of the Pirate King

Personal Thoughts:

Daughter of the Pirate King is an impressive debut from new author Tricia Levenseller.

Alosa is the daughter of infamous Pirate King, Kalligan, who rules over the seas. Her father sent her on a mission to retrieve a part of a map that will lead to a secret Isle and treasures. To do this, Alosa needs to infiltrate the Night Farer, a ship ruled by Captain Draxen and his first mate, Riden. She was captured by Draxen’s crew, making her hostage in exchange for ransom from the Pirate King. But what they didn’t know is Alosa is a willing prisoner. Being capture is part of her plan to find the legendary map that the Pirate King wants. But finding the part of the map is not as easy as Alosa anticipate, and it doesn’t help that Riden is very suspicious of her. She needs to unwit him and the others before the Pirate King decide to join her on his mission.

“Everyone has something dark in their past. I suppose it’s our job to overcome it. And if we can’t overcome it, then all we can do is make the most of it.”

Alosa is feisty, smart, resourceful, driven and cunning. Even she is locked inside the brig, she finds way to lets herself out at night to search the ship for the map. She maybe caught up several times by Riden, but she clearly finds her way to continue her mission. She is strong not because of her magical abilities but because she is trained, skilled and clever. Being raised by the Pirate King himself, Alosa is dangerous but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t have a heart. She is a pirate and also a young girl who just want to please her father. And she is willing to kill if that what it takes to accomplished her task.

As for Riden, he is wicked but merciful especially if compared to his brother, Draxen. Riden is also perceptive, smart, and kind which basically compose of his overall charm. Like Alosa, he is clever making the duel of wits between them much fun to read.

The relentless banter between Alosa and Riden is not only enjoyable but also full of tensions. Reading those parts where they try to unwitt each other pull out some grins from my face and even a few laughters. This book is unmistakably a fun read.

Aside from the witty dialogues, Tricia Levenseller also throw a bunch of adventures, and magic or fantasy which basically makes Daughter of the Pirate King thrilling and riveting.

On the whole, Daughter of the Pirate King is relentlessly fun, action-packed, fast paced and thrilling read. Author Tricia Levenseller successfully combine adventure, danger, romance and magic in this first installment of ya nautical fantasy series. Looking forward reading Alosa’s next adventure, with the hope to see more about Pirate’s politics and this new fantasy world of Pirates.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Initially from a small town in Oregon, Tricia now lives next to the Rocky Mountains with her bossy dog, Rosy. She received her degree in English Language and editing, and she is thrilled that she never has to read a textbook again. When she’s not writing or reading, Tricia enjoys putting together jigsaw puzzles, playing volleyball, and watching shows while eating extra-buttered popcorn.

Find Tricia

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads


ABOUT THE BOOK

Book Details:

Title: Daughter of the Pirate King
Author: Tricia Levenseller
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Publication Date: February 28, 2017
Pages: 320
Format: Hardcover, Paperback, eBook, Audio

There will be plenty of time for me to beat him soundly once I’ve gotten what I came for.

Sent on a mission to retrieve an ancient hidden map—the key to a legendary treasure trove—seventeen-year-old pirate captain Alosa deliberately allows herself to be captured by her enemies, giving her the perfect opportunity to search their ship.

More than a match for the ruthless pirate crew, Alosa has only one thing standing between her and the map: her captor, the unexpectedly clever and unfairly attractive first mate, Riden. But not to worry, for Alosa has a few tricks up her sleeve, and no lone pirate can stop the Daughter of the Pirate King.

Book Links

Amazon | B&N | Book Depository | GoodreadsIndie Bound

Giveaway:

What’s up for Grab?

  • Copy of Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller

The Rules:

  • Open international where book depository ships
  • 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 9th, 2017
  • Prize will be sent via book depository

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.

Books · REVIEWS

Now I Rise (The Conqueror’s Saga #2) by Kiersten White

“Sometimes the only way forward is to destroy everything that came before.”

Lada Dracul has no allies. No throne. All she has is what she’s always had: herself. After failing to secure the Wallachian throne, Lada is out to punish anyone who dares to cross her blood-strewn path. Filled with a white-hot rage, she storms the countryside with her men, accompanied by her childhood friend Bogdan, terrorizing the land. But brute force isn’t getting Lada what she wants. And thinking of Mehmed brings little comfort to her thorny heart. There’s no time to wonder whether he still thinks about her, even loves her. She left him before he could leave her.

What Lada needs is her younger brother Radu’s subtlety and skill. But Mehmed has sent him to Constantinople—and it’s no diplomatic mission. Mehmed wants control of the city, and Radu has earned an unwanted place as a double-crossing spy behind enemy lines. Radu longs for his sister’s fierce confidence—but for the first time in his life, he rejects her unexpected plea for help. Torn between loyalties to faith, to the Ottomans, and to Mehmed, he knows he owes Lada nothing. If she dies, he could never forgive himself—but if he fails in Constantinople, will Mehmed ever forgive him?

As nations fall around them, the Dracul siblings must decide: what will they sacrifice to fulfill their destinies? Empires will topple, thrones will be won . . . and souls will be lost.

Book Links: Amazon | Book Depository | B&N | Goodreads

Personal Thoughts:

Now I Rise is a dark, rich, action-packed and trilling sequel to this historical fantasy series that re-imagines the life of Vlad the Impaler on the shoes of a young vicious girl, Lada Dracul.

Alternating between Lada and her brother Radu’s point of view, the story continues where Lada journey back to Wallachia in an attempt to reclaim her throne. While Radu stays with Mehmed trying to help the Ottoman Empire win a battle against the Byzantine Empire to retake Constantinople. Lada needs Radu’s assistance and interpersonal skills, but Radu is busy helping Mehmed with the hope that Mehmed finally see him the way he want to be seen. Unfortunately for Radu, Mehmed has his eyes on one thing only, and that is Constantinople. Mehmed will do anything to get his dream city, even if it means sacrificing those close to him.

Kiersten White manage to breathes life into this particular period of history by creating a believable characters and realistic atmosphere for them to dance around. Not only she gives readers a general outline of the political affairs at the time, but also the unsaid thoughts and issues of leaders at that time. Even if those are not the real deal, they still carry weight and feel like real. Kiersten White successfully blends her characters’ story line to the real history where they are based from.

To those who are not familiar with the Fall of Constantinople or about Vlad the Impaler and other rulers at his time, this book is an educational treat while also entertaining and thought provoking. Even if it is technically fiction, the story still follows events of actual history. Kiersten White clearly did her research well.

The topics of equality, faith and religions, politics and war are just few of the things that makes this series a must read. Through her characters, Kiersten White easily scatters great points, ideas and truths that will surely make readers think and question things and even themselves.

Radu’s point of view alone will give readers the chance to see the different sides of war. His internal struggles about alliances, equality, sacrifices, faith and religions, winning and losing will surely leave readers thoughts to ponder and questions to rise. There are intricacies in his thoughts and depth in his opinions that is not only for fiction but also applicable to real life. Clearly, Radu is one complex character.

“He would die on the wall tonight, between his brothers and his enemies, because he could no longer distinguish between the two. They had finally come to the end. Whichever side won, neither would triumph.”

As for Lada, she took a back seat in this installment compare to Radu. Though she still strong and fearsome, her character arc basically stay the same. Lada like Mehmed is a power-driven person. She and Mehmed will do anything and sacrifice everything or even anyone to get what they want. They are dangerous, vicious and even selfish. They both live for their dreams and ambitions. One is Constantinople, the other one is Wallachia. As leaders they can be great but they can also easily bring destructions.

“They love themselves and their ambition above all else. They love what feeds their ambition, and when it stops feeding that, the love will turn to hate with more passion than either could ever love with.”

With violence, murder, betrayal, and heartbreak Now I Rise is sharp-edged, intense, thought provoking, and deliciously vicious sequel to And I Darken. I am really excited to find out how Kiersten will end this series in the next and final installment.

* This review is based on a copy I received courtesy of the publisher, Delacorte Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House.

Book Tours · Books · Giveaways · Interviews · REVIEWS

Blog Tour: Karmic Hearts by Jhing Bautista (Character Interview + Review)

Welcome to my stop on Karmic Hearts Blog Tour! I have read the book few weeks ago and I had fun meeting Karmina (Mina) and Cupid, so imagine my delight when I discover that I got the chance to interview one of them. I originally wanted to interview Cupid but then I realized that that would be very spoiler-y. Good thing Mina agreed to answers my questions. So if you’d like to know more about her, be sure to check out her answers to my questions below.

Following the interview is my review for the novel, Karmic Hearts.

Also don’t forget check out the tour schedule at the end to read more reviews, Q&As, guest posts, and other fun posts.

Enjoy reading the interview!

Character Interview with Karmina Joan of Karmic Hearts

To start things off, can you please introduce yourself so everyone will know more about you?
Hello! I’m Karmina Joan. I wrote The Fall of Icarus before I got into an accident and Remembering Cupid after I woke up from the coma. And yes, Remembering Cupid was based on the dream that I had when I was in a coma.

What led you into writing? Was it a lifelong ambition, or the result of some type of turning point in your life? And why write about angels?
I’ve loved reading since I was a little kid. I used to read a lot, from novels, poems, and short stories to product brands, flyers, and advertisements. Publishing a book is one of my many lifelong ambitions. I’ve always wanted to write my own story and hold my own book, something that I’ve now achieved.
I’ve always been fascinated with angels. And when I began watching Supernatural, that fascination intensified. So I decided to write a story about them. But since my niche is romance, I incorporated romance.

Let’s say you meet Cupid today. What are the things you want to tell or ask him?
I’ll probably ask him to enumerate the reasons why he fell for me. He said so, in my dream. I don’t think I’m that special to make the angel of love himself defy the laws of heaven to be with me.

If Cupid could ask you one question about why you wrote his story the way you did, what would he want to know the most?
He’ll probably ask if the ending would be the same, the sad ending… if he didn’t insist that I change it!

What is one thing that surprised you the most about Cupid?
His naivety. He knows a lot but he still has so much more to learn. And he’s also very stubborn! I thought angels were supposed to be obedient. Apparently, he’s the exception.

If we could snoop in your room, what books would we find on your shelf besides The Fall of Icarus and Remembering Cupid?
I’m not a big fan of romance paperbacks. I like reading them online. But because I already write about romance, umay na ako sa romance. So you’ll probably find mystery/thriller and fantasy books on my bookshelf.

Are you working on any projects right now? What can we expect from you in the near future? Any other angel stories in the works?
Aside from writing articles for our company’s blogs, my boss also asked me for a personal favor. His girlfriend, who happens to be my fan, has a cousin (also my fan) who looks a lot like Cupid, but the total opposite. My boss wants me to set him up with someone, in exchange for letting me have my own page on our site. Should be easy, right? The problem is that Eros is really, really, really shy. So yeah, he’s my current project.
As for writing stories, I’m trying. But I don’t have anything solid yet. And I don’t think I’m ready to start another angel story. Need to get over Cupid first. Haha!

Personal Thoughts:

Karmic Hearts is a light-hearted, and heartwarming story about a girl who had an encounter with the Angel of Love.

Karmina Joan is a writer. She loves writing stories about love, destiny, and fate. She believes that everyone has a purpose in life, and she thought sharing her stories is her higher call. Little did she know that she has a different part to play. When the Angel of Love Cupid suddenly enters her life, she found herself playing matchmaker. She has one year to match six pairs of soulmates and fill a jar of love. Can she finished her task before the deadline?

“I figure I could use some of it in my story. It was the kind of thing that I could only imagine when I was younger. Some of my theories were downright ridiculous so I didn’t really believed in them. But that didn’t mean I couldn’t write about them to make someone else believe.”

Jhing Bautista adds in just right amounts of myths, theories, and fantasy to make Karmic Hearts interesting. She added few refreshing concepts like the love strings and mixed them with old onces – fate, destiny, soul-mates and more. There are some interesting thoughts too about love, life, and destiny which mostly from Cupid’s point of view.

“If everything is unfair in this world, then doesn’t that make it fair?”

Cupid as a character is so much fun to read. I like his sense of humor and insightful comments. Not only he is charming and witty but also smart. Though there are times that I don’t agree with his decisions, I still think that he stays true to his character, after all playing the Angel of Love means overly romantic to the fault.

The only mild complaint is the predictability of the plot. Though I haven’t read many stories with Cupid as one of the main characters, I still easily figure the twist and turns of the story. I’m only few chapters in when I guess the big twist in the end, and few more chapters about Karmina’s role in Cupid’s life. Maybe, having read too many fictions and fantasy stories makes this one easily predictable for me, but nevertheless an enjoyable read.

Overall, Karmic Hearts is a light read that is perfect for those who love cute romance. It is delightful, romantic and heartwarming. Something every romance lovers will surely enjoy reading.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Book Details:

Title: Karmic Hearts
Author: Jhing Bautista
Publisher: Summit Books, Pop Fiction
Publication Date: May 09, 2017
Pages: 241
Format: Mass Market Paperback

Love. Magic. Fate. Best-selling romance novel author Karmina Joan writes about them all. She believes that every person has a purpose, that every soul has a destiny to fulfill. She thought hers was simply sharing her stories.

Her story unfolds with Cupid, the Angel of Love himself. He brings with him a mysterious vessel and a message from on high. It turns out Karmina has a bigger purpose after all–a mission that will make or break humanity as we know it.

As Cupid teaches her the tricks of his trade, Karmina unknowingly gives him something unexpected in return–something that angel of love will find oddly familiar. This may become the one flaw in an otherwise perfect plan that destiny has in store for them.

Does love truly conquer all or are there limits to what humanity can do in the name of love? Witness as Karmina struggles to find the answer before time runs out on true love.

Book Links: Goodreads | WattPad

Follow the rest of the tour!

Update July 1st, 2017

Just drawn the winner for the giveaway. Congrats cainwrites! You won a copy of Karmic Hearts. I will be contacting you momentarily to get your details so I can send you your prize. You will have 48 hours to respond or I will be forced to choose another winner. Thank you to everyone who has entered.

Books · REVIEWS

The Love Interest by Cale Dietrich

“The right piece of information can be truly devastating if it’s precisely aimed.”

There is a secret organization that cultivates teenage spies. The agents are called Love Interests because getting close to people destined for great power means getting valuable secrets.

Caden is a Nice: The boy next door, sculpted to physical perfection. Dylan is a Bad: The brooding, dark-souled guy, and dangerously handsome. The girl they are competing for is important to the organization, and each boy will pursue her. Will she choose a Nice or the Bad?

Both Caden and Dylan are living in the outside world for the first time. They are well-trained and at the top of their games. They have to be – whoever the girl doesn’t choose will die.

What the boys don’t expect are feelings that are outside of their training. Feelings that could kill them both.

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

Personal Thoughts:

The Love Interest is a mix of espionage, dystopia and lgbt story that took a light approach in combining these massive genre without being overwhelming.

Caden and Dylan are love interest, both groomed and trained by the LIC (Love Interest Compound), a secret organization that send out spies to get and sells informations from important people such as celebrities, politicians, scientist, and the likes. Caden is a “nice” while Dylan is a “bad” who both need to act accordingly. They are both assigned to a science prodigy, Juliet. Their mission is to infiltrate Juliet’s life and win her heart. But only one boy will win. The winner gets the girl and spy her by reporting every important details of her life to LIC or whatever the LIC wants. While the loser meets the end of his life. Both Caden and Dylan will do anything to win, but they are not prepared for their feelings to get in between. And in this game of life and death, how will the know what’s real and what is not? Who will survive the game of manipulation?

It only took few chapters for me to realize that The Love Interest is no ordinary spy novel. There still actions, conspiracy and secret organizations, but instead of a serious tone, The Love Interest went to a lighter approach. It even pokes fun at different novel stereotypes particularly in the field of YA, while being one itself.

“No one finds the love of their life while they’re a teenager.”
“You haven’t read any YA novels recently, have you?”

Caden the narrator and protagonist though contemplative like other spies, is not the over observant and skillful guy I expected from a spy. He isn’t few steps ahead like other spies I love, but what I like about Caden is how he questioned things around him. Right from the start he don’t agree on his “nice” boy label. His thoughts shows how much he wants to be free, to just be himself even at times when he doesn’t know what he really is. He wants to write his own story and not just be a tool for the LIC.

“…it irks me that she thinks labeling me is okay now. Like, by liking guys, I automatically take on that role in her life. That I’m suddenly a supporting character in her story rather than the hero of my own.”

Even if things are confusing for Caden, and even if he doesn’t have much choice in everything, he still hope to find his freedom and try to be his own-self.

The only mild complaint is how the ending seems rushed, which in a way makes the conflict too easily resolved. As much as I cheer for the main characters, I also feel like they easily defeat a supposedly powerful organization. Sure they have a genius scientist who can make powerful weapons, but a five teenagers to easily shutdown LIC is not exactly believable. There are reasons why the organization exist for so long, and manage the in and out of their operations without getting caught by the government or other powerful organizations.

On the whole, THE LOVE INTEREST is an intriguing and fun debut novel from Cale Dietrich. It has promising ideas that if explored more would definitely make a very good spy novel.

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* 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.

Book Tours · Books · Giveaways · Interviews · REVIEWS

Blog Tour: Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia (Author Interview + Review + Giveaway)

Happy Monday!

Today I have best selling author, Francesca Zappia on the blog as part of the promotional tour for her latest young-adult contemporary novel, Eliza and Her Monsters. In this latest young adult contemporary novel, Francesca give readers a story that is not only fun and heartwarming but also respectful to a sub-culture where people with common interest unite.

Eliza and Her Monsters is out tomorrow, so don’t forget to grab your copies. But before that, check the interview and book review below to get an idea of how good the book is.

Also, there’s a giveaway at the end of the post for a chance to win copies of Eliza and Her Monsters.

Interview with Francesca Zappia

Eliza and Her Monsters deals with mental illness and depression just like your first novel, Made You Up. What drew you to write stories with these sensitive themes? As a writer, do you feel a sense of responsibility? If so, how do you deal with this?

I write about these topics because I think more people should be aware of them and sensitive to them. I definitely feel a sense of responsibility. I think all writers should—no matter what your genre or subject matter, you’re portraying human lives, and real people are going to be impacted by what you make. I don’t know necessarily that we should “deal” with responsibility; I think it’s something we should carry with us. I always do my best to research what I’m writing about and make sure I look at it from many different angles, because everyone who reads the story is going to have a different experience and is going to see it through a different lens. At the end of the day, I may still mess things up, and I have to own that, too.

Eliza and Her Monsters was a little different to write because it is very much about my own experience with anxiety. I felt like I wasn’t just writing for other creative people who deal with anxiety, but for a younger version of myself.

I love the inclusion of graphic art illustrations, convo messages and other snippets in Eliza and Her Monsters. I must say, I envy your artistic talent. What inspired you to add those illustrations? Do you think the story will still work the same way without them?

Thank you! The inclusion of the artwork was actually part of the whole concept of the book, and was there from the very beginning. Monstrous Sea (the webcomic Eliza draws) is my own earliest story, and I’ve been drawing artwork for it my whole life. Putting some of that into the book was a super fun way for me to introduce readers to that world and give them something visual to hold on to. There isn’t that much of the Monstrous Sea story in the book, so with pictures, the readers can actually see those characters and understand better what Eliza and her friends are talking about.

I think the story would work without the pictures (I wrote and edited the whole thing without them!), but I think it’s way less fun.

Eliza and Her Monster is very respectful to fandom. Are you a fangirl yourself and if so what are you a huge fan of? Could you tell us about some of your own experiences with fandom?

YES. Oh, geez, yes. I’m pretty picky about what I call myself a fangirl of, but when I do fangirl, I fangirl hard. My first big experience with fandom was on some Harry Potter forums online. When you signed up, you got sorted into a house with a common room and prefects and everything, and you could go to different threads to attend certain classes for roleplaying, and you could claim certain magical objects from the books, and it was GREAT. I used to draw Harry Potter fanart on those boards, too. I really miss that. I’m also right now working on an epic Pokémon fanfiction. I’d definitely call myself a Critical Role fangirl, too—Critical Role is a webseries where a bunch of professional voice actors play Dungeons and Dragons, and it’s better than any TV show I’ve ever seen. I also really love Dragon Age: Inquisition, and right now I’m obsessed with Final Fantasy XV. (In Eliza, Monstrous Sea is described as a cross between the Faust legend and the Final Fantasy video games. It’s because I LOVE THEM.)

It’s taking all my will power not to start yelling about my favorite characters from all of these things.

What was one of the most surprising things you’ve learned in creating Eliza? How did you go about putting yourself in her mindset?

The most surprising thing was probably exactly how easy it was to put myself in her mindset. There is so much of myself in her—her insecurities, her anxiety, her love of her art—that the difficult part was not putting myself in her mindset, but forcing myself to write down what I found there. I sometimes felt kind of sick while I was writing because it was all hitting so close to home.

In Eliza and Her Monster, online communication plays a huge part in the story. Do you think it is important for writers like you to use online mediums not just for promotions but also to interact with your followers? Is social media more useful than distracting?

For me it is more useful than distracting, but that’s not true for everyone. For writers, promotion comes best when you’re doing what you’re good at, and what you’re comfortable with. For me, mediums such as YouTube and Snapchat haven’t really been an option, because I don’t have the time or interest to use them. Some writers don’t like using Twitter or Instagram; some don’t like using any social media. Personally, I love interacting with my fans on social media, and I enjoy giving them more content to see and updates about what to expect from me in the future. Social media can be a scary place sometimes, and can be a real time suck if not monitored, but it does a whole lot of good, too.

Are you working on any project right now? What we should expect from you after Eliza and Her Monsters?

I’m always working on something! My two books so far have been contemporary novels, but what I really love is fantasy and science fiction. I have The Children of Hypnos, my serial novel published on Wattpad, that’s urban fantasy, and I actually do have a draft of the real Monstrous Sea written. I have fantasy books, I have near-future sci-fi books, I have horror books, I have all kinds of things! It’s mostly a question now of what people are going to want to see from me, and what will work best.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Book Details:

Title: Eliza and Her Monsters
Author: Francesca Zappia
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Publication Date: May 30, 2017
Pages: 400
Format: Hardcover, Ebook

Eighteen-year-old Eliza Mirk is the anonymous creator of Monstrous Sea, a wildly popular webcomic, but when a new boy at school tempts her to live a life offline, everything she’s worked for begins to crumble.

In the real world, Eliza Mirk is shy, weird, smart, and friendless. Online, Eliza is LadyConstellation, the anonymous creator of a popular webcomic called Monstrous Sea. With millions of followers and fans throughout the world, Eliza’s persona is popular. Eliza can’t imagine enjoying the real world as much as she loves her digital community. Then Wallace Warland transfers to her school, and Eliza begins to wonder if a life offline might be worthwhile. But when Eliza’s secret is accidentally shared with the world, everything she’s built—her story, her relationship with Wallace, and even her sanity—begins to fall apart. With pages from Eliza’s webcomic, as well as screenshots from Eliza’s online forums, this uniquely formatted book will appeal to fans of Noelle Stevenson’s Nimona and Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl.

Book Links: Amazon | B&NBook Depository | Goodreads | Publisher

Personal Thoughts:

Eliza and Her Monsters is instantly captivating, heartwarming, and immensely entertaining. It celebrates fandom, and online community without forgetting to remind readers the pros and cons of Internet fame.

Eliza Mirk in her school is a loner, quiet, shy and unknown. But online, she is the beloved LadyConstellation – anonymous creator and artist behind the hugely popular webcomic, Monstrous Sea with millions of passionate followers. She has online friends but only a handful few who really know her identity beside her own family. Though she communicate with her followers she never brave the chance to interact with them in person. Until she met Wallace, a die-hard fan of Eliza’s work, Monstrous Sea. But Wallace didn’t know Eliza as LadyConstellation. For him, Eliza is a friend who also love Monstrous Sea. Can Eliza share her identity to Wallace? What she will do if her online life and real life finally collide? How will she deal with her own monsters?

Eliza and Her Monsters depicts a realistic view of fandom in general. Through Eliza’s story and the webcomic inside it, we see how a subculture of fans and their world behave and operates. It’s a close representation of community that get together for the common love or passion.

“I do have friends. Maybe they live hundreds of miles away from me, and maybe I can only talk to them through a screen, but they’re still my friends. They don’t just hold Monstrous Sea together. They hold me together.”

While the story is about fandom and art, don’t make the mistake of dismissing how important this book is. Though lightly touch, Francesca Zappia incorporate mental illness such as anxiety, panic disorder, and selective mutism in the story. Eliza is an introvert who prefer conversing with her online friends than her family and classmates. For her, online world is better than real world. It is easier to navigate and much more welcoming. But as much as she love her online life, she cannot stay there forever. She is missing a lot of things. At some point she need to face the real wold and be brave. No matter how real her online life is, she still needs to be present in real world and live in it. She needs to face her own monsters both real and imaginary.

Then we have Wallace and his selective mutism. Wallace just like Eliza doesn’t participate much to real world. He communicate to Eliza mostly through writing. He prefer not talking and spend most of his time writing/translating the webcomic Monstrous Sea. This behavior is a form of anxiety disorder. Wallace may be really shy or has a social anxiety – conditions that is lightly address in the story but surely leave an impact.

Overall, Francesca Zappia takes a lighter approach in handling sensitive themes without disregarding the heaviness of the topics. With illustrations, convo messages, and graphic story snippets, Eliza and Her Monsters is a unique and creative story that is not only powerful but also compassionate.

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* This review is based on an advance readers copy I received courtesy of the publisher, Greenwillow Books an imprint of HarperCollins International in exchange of honest opinion.

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