Celebrating Debutantes 2017: The Last Namsara by Kristen Ciccarelli (Author Interview + Giveaway)

Today I’m super thrilled to welcome new author Kristen Ciccarelli on the blog as part of Celebrating Debutantes 2017 blog event. Kristen answered few questions for me about her upcoming debut fantasy novel, The Last Namsara. The book is the first installment of the planned series, Iskari, which features a strong heroine, dragons, dragons slayers and a lot more.

The Last Namsara will release in October but you can pre-order your copies now. There are signed copies available from Words Worth Books. So placed your order before copies runs out!

Following the author interview is Kristen Ciccarelli’s author bio along with places where to find her online. Then there’s also the book description and where to pre-order copies of The Last Namsara. And if you would like the chance to win a signed advance readers copy of The Last Namsara, Kristen is giving away one below. Just enter the rafflecopter form a bit further down in this post. I hope you guys enjoy the interview.

Interview with Kristen Ciccarelli

What’s your journey to writerhood been like?
I’ve been writing stories since I could first string sentences together. It was my favourite thing to do as a kid/teen, but then I stopped was when I went away to school. I had this idea that my stories were childish and silly and worthless, and therefore I needed to leave them behind in order to “grow up”. I stopped writing for 5 years … and was completely miserable. It was only when I found myself crying at my desk everyday that I realized something was really wrong and let myself start to write again.

That was eight years ago now and since then I’ve definitely seen my share of publishing failure (I had an agent previously, got really close to selling a different book, went back to the query trenches when my former agent left publishing, etc). I rewrote my debut fantasy, The Last Namsara, three times from scratch over the course of a decade and I actually almost gave up on it just 5 months before it sold to HarperCollins in a 3-book deal. (Moral of the story: don’t give up!)

What was the biggest change you made to the book before it reached an agent/editor/publisher?
I rewrote this book several times, and each time it changed pretty drastically. But the biggest change I made just before I started getting offers on it was probably fleshing out the old stories and pulling them out of the narrative, making them stand on their own in between chapters. Also, a significant character who died off the page previously now dies on the page (my editor sobbed when she read it). So consider yourself warned!

What inspired The Last Namsara?
A lot of things! 1. My love of dragons, badass girls, and romance. 2. My belief in the power and complexity of stories. 3. A desire to write a book that, at its heart, is about reclaiming yourself.

Please give us an insight into your main character, Asha. Aside from being a dragon slayer, what makes her special for you to tell her story?
I gave a lot of my own wounds to Asha. In particular, my shame. Asha is deeply ashamed of the old stories–which are the things she uses to lure dragons to her–because she told one as a child and it summoned a dragon named Kozu, who nearly destroyed her city and left her with a scar. So she hunts dragons to make amends for what she did, but she’s deeply ashamed of how she hunts them (telling these forbidden, deadly stories).

The Last Namsara is the first book in a planned series. Did you know this was going to be a series when you first wrote the story? Do you already have longer story arcs outlined?
I knew I wanted The Last Namsara to stand alone, but I also knew I wasn’t finished with the characters or the world. So when my agent offered, I told her I would really, really love to sell it as a 3-book series, with all three books being told from the perspective of different characters (Asha, Roa, and Safire). I had pitches for the 2nd and 3rd books ready to go when The Last Namsara went out on submission and, because my agent is fierce and amazing, that’s exactly how she sold it.

What are your ambitions for your writing career?
It would be a dream to be able to keep writing the books I love and have those books find readers who love them too. That’s all I want.

If you could pick one fantasy world to live in, which would it be and why?
Either the world of Philip Pullman’s Dark Materials (because hello daemons! And armoured bears! And Dust!) or the world of Garth Nix’s Old Kingdom (I want to use charter magic and fly in a paper wing and be one of the many girls carrying weapons like it’s totally no big deal).

And lastly before we end this interview, can you please share a snippet/teaser from The Last Namsara to intrigue and tantalize us before the book hit the shelves in few weeks.
Of course! Here’s an excerpt from the scene where Asha comes face to face with the dragon who burned her eight years previous:

A shadow fell across her. She looked up to see a dragon circling. Black as ink. Black as a still pool on a moonless night. Black as Asha’s eyes.
She drew the axe at her hip.
Kozu landed with a thud. The earth trembled beneath him. His shadow shot over her, cloaking her in darkness. His scales gleamed and his slitted yellow eye drank her in. Asha’s eyes did the same, fixing on his scar. A mirror image of hers, it ran down his serpentine face, cutting through his eye, marring those inky scales. Two horns twisted out of his head, perfect for goring prey; and on each foot were five talons, sharp as knives. As wide as a courtyard, his wings remained outspread—a show of just how large he was, how easily he could crush her.


Kristen Ciccarelli hails from Ontario’s Niagara Peninsula where she grew up on her grandfather’s grape farm. She’s made her living as a baker, a bookseller, and a potter, but now writes books about bloodthirsty dragons, girls wielding really cool weapons, and the transformative power of stories. You can learn more at http://www.kristenciccarelli.com.

Find Kristen

Website | Facebook | Newsletter | Instagram | Goodreads


Book Details:

Title: The Last Namsara
Series: Iskari
Author: Kristen Ciccarelli
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: October 03, 2017
Pages: 432
Format: Hardcover, eBook, Audio

Kristen Ciccarelli’s debut fantasy explores an intricately woven world of deception, inner darkness, and dragons that fantasy fans won’t be able to resist.

In the beginning, there was the Namsara: the child of sky and spirit, who carried love and laughter wherever he went. But where there is light, there must be dark—and so there was also the Iskari. The child of blood and moonlight. The destroyer. The death bringer.

These are the legends that Asha, daughter of the king of Firgaard, has grown up hearing in hushed whispers, drawn to the forbidden figures of the past. But it isn’t until she becomes the fiercest, most feared dragon slayer in the land that she takes on the role of the next Iskari—a lonely destiny that leaves her feeling more like a weapon than a girl.

Asha conquers each dragon and brings its head to the king, but no kill can free her from the shackles that await at home: her betrothal to the cruel commandant, a man who holds the truth about her nature in his palm. When she’s offered the chance to gain her freedom in exchange for the life of the most powerful dragon in Firgaard, she finds that there may be more truth to the ancient stories than she ever could have expected. With the help of a secret friend—a slave boy from her betrothed’s household—Asha must shed the layers of her Iskari bondage and open her heart to love, light, and a truth that has been kept from her.

Book Links

Amazon | B&N | BAM | Book Depository | Goodreads | Indigo |  IndieBound | Publisher | Waterstones| Words Worth Books (signed preorders)


What’s up for Grab?

  • Signed ARC of The Last Namsara by Kristen Ciccarelli

The Rules:

  • Open 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 12th, 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.

Jorie and the Magic Stones by A.H. Richardson

“Sometimes we need more than magic words to make a situation better. Many times we carry our own magic within us, an inner magic that takes many forms, such as love, friendship, courage and tolerance.”

When Marjorie went to live with her frosty maiden aunt, she couldn’t imagine the adventures she would have with dragons — good and bad — and all the strange creatures that live in a mysterious land beneath the Tarn. The spunky 9-year-old redhead forges an unlikely friendship with an insecure young boy named Rufus who lives with his crusty grandfather next door. When Jorie — for that is what she prefers to be called — finds a dusty ancient book about dragons, she learns four strange words that will send the two of them into a mysterious land beneath the Tarn, riddled with enchantment and danger. Hungry for adventure, the children take the plunge, quite literally, and find themselves in the magic land of Cabrynthius. 

Upon meeting the good dragon, the Great Grootmonya, Jorie and Rufus are given a quest to find the three Stones of Maalog — stones of enormous power — and return them to their rightful place in Cabrynthius. Their mission is neither easy nor safe, and is peppered with perils in the form of the evil black half-dragon who rules the shadowy side of the land. They have to deal with a wicked and greedy professor, the tragic daughter of the bad dragon, caves of fire, rocky mountainous climbs, and a deadly poisonous butterfly.

Jorie must rely on her wits and courage to win the day? Can she do this? Can she find all three Stones? Can she save Rufus when disaster befalls him? Can she emerge victorious? She and Rufus have some hair-raising challenges, in which they learn valuable lessons about loyalty, bravery, and friendship.

Book Links: AmazonGoodreads

Personal Thoughts:

Jorie and the Magic Stones is a delightful and entertaining read that offers wonderful messages for middle grade readers.

Marjorie Beatrice Weaver who prefer to be called Jorie is an orphan who just moved in with her Aunt. While there she found an old and mysterious book under the bed. Being the ever curious and adventurous that she is, Jorie explore all the possibilities suggested on the pages of the book. With her new friend Rufus, Jorie discover new world and experience an adventure she never thought possible.

Jorie as the main character is so much fun to follow. She is a witty, curious, smart and imaginative kid who can easily charm her way. Her adventure to the land of Cabrynthius will not only entertain readers but also leave some important messages to ponder and carry even after the last page is closed.

Richardson easily weaved an imaginative world in this new fantasy adventure tale. With simple and straightforward narrative, middle-grade readers will surely find Jorie and the Magic Stones a quick and fast-paced read.

I’m not sure yet if the book is a part of a series but the ending promise a wonderful follow up and exciting adventure for the characters. I think Richardson can expand Jorie’s adventure and the magical land of Cabrynthius.

Overall, Jorie and the Magic Stones is quick and fun read. It is a tale of adventure, courage, and friendship that young readers will surely enjoy.

* This review is based on an a copy I received courtesy of Book Publicty Services.


A. H. Richardson was born in London England and is the daughter of famous pianist and composer Clive Richardson. She studied drama and acting at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. She was an actress, a musician, a painter and sculptor, and now an Author.

She published her debut novel Jorie and the Magic Stones in December 2014. At the request of those who loved the first ‘Jorie’ story, Richardson has written a sequel titled Jorie and the Gold Key, and she is currently working on the third book in the series.

She is also the author of Murder in Little Shendon, a thriller murder mystery which takes place in a quaint little village in England after World War Two, and introduces two sleuths, Sir Victor Hazlitt and his sidekick,  Beresford Brandon, a noted Shakespearian actor. She has more ‘who-dun-its’ planned for this clever and interesting duo… watch for them!

A. H. Richardson lives happily in East Tennessee, her adopted state, and has three sons, three grandchildren, and two pugs. She speaks four languages and loves to do voiceovers. She plans on writing many more books and hopes to delight her readers further with her British twist, which all her books have.

Find A. H. Richardson

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Soldier (Talon #3) by Julie Kagawa


The price of freedom is everything.

When forced to choose between safety with the dragon organization Talon and being hunted forever as an outcast, Ember Hill chose to stand with Riley and his band of rogue dragons rather than become an assassin for Talon. She’s lost any contact with her twin brother, Dante, a Talon devotee, as well as Garret, the former-enemy soldier who challenged her beliefs about her human side.

As Ember and Riley hide and regroup to fight another day, Garret journeys alone to the United Kingdom, birthplace of the ancient and secret Order of St. George, to spy on his former brothers and uncover deadly and shocking secrets that will shake the foundations of dragons and dragonslayers alike and place them all in imminent danger as Talon’s new order rises.

Book Links: Amazon | B&N | Book Depository

Personal Thoughts:

Soldier is the third installment of Talon Saga which I initially thought the final installment of the series – a mistake that ruin this book for me. I go reading the book with so much expectations, particularly answers and revelations about the two organizations – Talon and St. George, and more about dragons.

“There are two type of cages, hatchling,” the Archivist said, holding up a bony finger. “One is where you have no choice in the matter. The door is locked, and your freedom has been forcibly taken from you. But the other is where you become a willing captive, caging yourself, because the alternative is not acceptable.”

Though I enjoy the first two installments, enough to make me feel excited to read Soldier, I end up a bit disappointed with this one. It feels like a filler book to me – something to bridge the first part and the end part of the series. There’s nothing new in the plot except those I already anticipated or guess from the the first two installments. The rebellion, St. George and Talon’s secret alliance, the romance, and illegal operations are things I already see coming and expected. The only new thing that I get from this third installment is the new character Jade, and even that wasn’t explore much. I wish there are more details about her and her kind. Some history to back up her very own existence and reasons for helping Garret.

Ember and Riley are still the same character. I don’t see or feel any character development from these two. It’s like Ember has nothing much to contribute in the story, and Riley unfortunately pining on her also lose his shine. All Ember do in this book is act torn between Riley and Garret and throw few flames here and then. Garret also lacked some character development, but between these three Garret is less irritating at least. The little revelations about his family near the end though little at least give something new to his character. Though most of the time, these three are just a repetition of what they are from the first two books.

Soldier though entertaining lacked depth and thrill that the first two books introduced. As much as I enjoy reading Ember and Riley’s adventure as rouge dragons and Garret’s attempt to uncover the connection between St. George and Talon, there are just so many repetitive scenes and romantic plot lines that take away my interest. If only there are more dragon stuffs than romance and rebellion I probably enjoy this one more.

* This review is based on an eBook I received courtesy of the publisher, Mira Ink UK via NetGalley.

Shadow Scale (Seraphina #2) by Rachel Hartman

Shadow Scale

“Sometimes everyone does their best and things still go wrong.”

Seraphina took the literary world by storm with 8 starred reviews and numerous “Best of” lists. At last, her eagerly awaited sequel has arrived—and with it comes an epic battle between humans and dragons.

The kingdom of Goredd: a world where humans and dragons share life with an uneasy balance, and those few who are both human and dragon must hide the truth. Seraphina is one of these, part girl, part dragon, who is reluctantly drawn into the politics of her world. When war breaks out between the dragons and humans, she must travel the lands to find those like herself—for she has an inexplicable connection to all of them, and together they will be able to fight the dragons in powerful, magical ways.

As Seraphina gathers this motley crew, she is pursued by humans who want to stop her. But the most terrifying is another half dragon, who can creep into people’s minds and take them over. Until now, Seraphina has kept her mind safe from intruders, but that also means she’s held back her own gift. It is time to make a choice: Cling to the safety of her old life, or embrace a powerful new destiny?

Personal Thoughts:

Few months after the conculsion of the first book Seraphina, the dragons and humans are now engaged in a civil war. Rebel dragons are threatening the peace treaty with humans. To help Gorredd win the possible war Seraphina an ityasaari (half-human/half-dragons) travels across country to search the other ityasaari like her in the hopes to find more ally to help the Kingdom of Gorredd regain peace.

Seraphina’s quest to find the other ityasaari took a huge part of the book which is a bit dragging and repetitive for me. As much as I like to explore the other neighboring Kingdoms and meet the other half-dragons/half-humans with their powers or special ability I don’t see the need to stretch it up to the half part of the story.

Since I can’t connect to Seraphina from the first book, I don’t expect to find her more relateable in this second installment but I’m glad to see her more in action. With a new villain to face, Seraphina become more engaged in this second installment. Her internal journey to learn more about herself parallels her physical journey traveling to different Kingdoms. The more she find other itsayaari like her and know more about them the more she realized that she is still different.

I missed Orma from the first book. Yes, he is still part of the story but his presence is so small in this one that I just wish there’s more of him. I think he is one of the most valuable character from the first book. His relationship to Seraphina as her uncle shows another angle of Seraphina’s character.

Rachel Hartman’s wording is still beautiful. I still adore all her prose and metaphors such as these lines below.

“The thing about reason is that there’s a geometry to it. It travels in a straight line, so that slightly different beginnings can lead you to wildly divergent endpoints.”

“Nothing was just one thing; there were worlds within worlds. Those of us who trod the line between were blessed and burdened with both.”

“If you followed logic all the way back to its origin, did you inevitable end up at a point of illogic, an article of faith? Even an indisputable fact must be chosen as the place to start reasoning, given weight by a mind that believed in its worth.”

Those lines simply proves that Rachel Hartman is really smart. Her writing is clever if not overly detailed.

Being the final installment, I want Shadow Scale to to soar high or leave a satisfying note but unfortunately it didn’t reach its full potential in my opinion. I still adore Rachel Hartman’s beautiful wording but unfortunately that isn’t enough for me to love this dragon series.

* This review is based on an eBook I received courtesy of the publisher, Random House Children’s via NetGalley.

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

Seraphina“I cannot perch among those who think that I am broken.”

In her New York Times bestselling and Morris Award-winning debut, Rachel Hartman introduces mathematical dragons in an alternative-medieval world to fantasy and science-fiction readers of all ages. Eragon-author Christopher Paolini calls them, “Some of the most interesting dragons I’ve read in fantasy.”

Four decades of peace have done little to ease the mistrust between humans and dragons in the kingdom of Goredd. Folding themselves into human shape, dragons attend court as ambassadors, and lend their rational, mathematical minds to universities as scholars and teachers. As the treaty’s anniversary draws near, however, tensions are high.

Seraphina Dombegh has reason to fear both sides. An unusually gifted musician, she joins the court just as a member of the royal family is murdered—in suspiciously draconian fashion. Seraphina is drawn into the investigation, partnering with the captain of the Queen’s Guard, the dangerously perceptive Prince Lucian Kiggs. While they begin to uncover hints of a sinister plot to destroy the peace, Seraphina struggles to protect her own secret, the secret behind her musical gift, one so terrible that its discovery could mean her very life.

Personal Thoughts:

Seraphina is one of those books that I am so excited to read but at the same time afraid that it won’t reach my expectations. If not for the second book that recently released I won’t finally pick-up Rachel Hartman’s debut novel. It took me a long while but I’m not exactly sorry for not reading the book sooner.

“The world inside myself is vaster and richer than this paltry plane, peopled with mere galaxies and gods.”

Though there are few surprises and expectations hit, Seraphina is not the best book about dragons that I have read. It’s certainly has the potential but it’s not as enjoyable or as action packed as I expected. Since this is not the first book about dragons or dragon that can transformed or disguised themselves as human I have lots of comparison while reading which basically means more expectations.

Story-wise, I like the intricacy of the plot, the avatar-like world, and the conflict between humans and dragons. They are well-realized and well plotted that I am willing to read every little details that Rachel Hartman is throwing. Add the fact that Rachel’s writing style is rich and beautiful. Her elaborate prose and metaphors are gorgeous and insightful. They are elegant if not savorful that I find myself rereading some of the lines along the way. The way she detailed Seraphina’s world and the overall conflict of the story is just amazing.

“Sometimes the truth has difficulty breaching the city walls of our beliefs. A lie, dressed in the correct livery, passes through more easily.”

So why exactly I am not sorry for not reading the book sooner? Well, one reason is the main character Seraphina. I got a hard time connecting to her. Given the fact that she is a half dragon – half human, I know readers like me should not be concern on how I can relate to her, but if I can’t even care about her that is not a good thing. Then there’s also the dragging part of the novel. As much as I like reading Rachels’ metaphors and wording, I can’t deny the fact that a huge part of the novel is slow, especially the first part. It’s like this first book is a huge build-up. For a fantasy read, I think Seraphina needs more actions and battle scenes or at least a better pacing.

I’m still reading the second book, Shadow Scale with the hopes that there’s more action than telling. I’ll post a review for the second book as soon as I’m done reading.

Rogue (Talon #2) by Julie Kagawa


“A flame that burns twice as bright last half as long.”




Ember Hill left the dragon organization Talon to take her chances with rebel dragon Cobalt and his crew of rogues. But Ember can’t forget the sacrifice made for her by the human boy who could have killed her—Garret Xavier Sebastian, a soldier of the dragonslaying Order of St. George, the boy who saved her from a Talon assassin, knowing that by doing so, he’d signed his own death warrant.

Determined to save Garret from execution, Ember must convince Cobalt to help her break into the Order’s headquarters. With assassins after them and Ember’s own brother helping Talon with the hunt, the rogues find an unexpected ally in Garret and a new perspective on the underground battle between Talon and St. George.

A reckoning is brewing and the secrets hidden by both sides are shocking and deadly. Soon Ember must decide: Should she retreat to fight another day…or start an all-out war?

Book Links: Amazon | Book Depository | Chapters | Goodreads | National Book Store

Personal Thoughts:

Rogue is a thrilling, action-packed and un-putable-down read that waste no time in shoving readers to the danger as Ember and Riley make their move rescuing Garret from one of St. George chapter house where he is being held as a prisoner waiting for execution. From then on every steps is for survival as villains are coming from different sides.

Told in different points of view, we get to read not just Ember voice/thoughts but also Garret, Riley/Cobalt, and Dante which all provides more dynamics to the story as it opens more story-lines from these characters’ lives and backgrounds. These characters’ voices are all uniques which makes the narration easy to read. It never feel cluttered or confusing as it is easy for me to distinguish who’s talking even not checking the the narrator’s name on each chapters.

Julie Kagawa developed each of her characters very well. In this installment, she weaved each of her characters with intriguing background, purpose, and depth. Ember a dragonnell who can shift to human is still determined just like she is in the first book, Talon. But gone is the girl who is also stubbornly curious and hard-headed. Ember on the run is more cooperative, a team player who listen to orders but still questioning authority. She is a fierce fighter who take into action for what she believes is right, and care for others.

As a hatchling, Ember’s balancing her dragon and human side is more evident in this installment, though mostly concentrated in love affairs. Her dragon selves is drawn into Riley while her human selves is into Garret. She still clueless to both worlds but not as much as she is in the first book.

Garret triggered most of the feels for me. His struggles and confusions are very believable. After allowing Ember to escape in the first installment he is now a traitor to the Order of St. George.  He is on the run together with Ember, Riley, and Wes fighting for survival as they are hunted both by the Orders and Talon. As part of the Orders he is taught to hate dragons, trained to kill them without question but after knowing Ember he gradually realized that not all dragons are bad. They have emotions and feelings too not just mindless creatures who wants to dominate the human world. With those realizations, his beliefs shattered and his life changed which makes everything more questionable and confusing for him.

“My existance until now had been a habit and structure and routine – the life of a soldier—and I welcomed that order, knowing exactly who I was. Left to my own devices, I felt I was wandering aimlessly, waiting for something to happen.”

As for Riley, well honestly I didn’t like him much in Talon but in here he just stole the show from Ember, which is expected given the title of the book. Not only he has own chapters where his back story and previous life as Cobalt is told but he also took charge of the plot. He isn’t perfect but he is loyal, brave and devoted to cause, even sometime’s Ember is stealing him away from it. I like him in this installment, which is a big step from what I’ve read of him from the first book, Talon. Though liking him doesn’t mean I want him for Ember. He maybe the best and logical choice since they are both dragons but I still think they are not for each other.

I prefer Garret for Ember. That’s why I feel a little sad in the ending. But knowing that there are more books coming I still have hopes for him. This is just the second installment and I think Julie Kagawa is storing a lot more for the other books of this series. There are still lots of unanswered questions, so many plot lines need to delve into, more secrets to reveal, and characters to develop and justify. There so much promise in this installment which I believe if handle very well will make this dragon story soar high.

Overall, Rogue is a perfect follow up to Talon. Julie Kagawa push the story to soar by adding more intrigues in the story. The stakes are higher, tasks are more complicated, and villains are coming from different sides. Ember, Garret and Riley’s adventure and the political intrigue around them are worth all the hours of lost sleep. And even after reading I can’t help but stay awake because of so many questions left unanswered. I’m really excited to see where this series is heading. Looking forward for the next installment though my patience will be tested since I just found out that it will be released two years from now.

* Update:

The third installment of this series, Soldier will be out next year, 2016. Author Julie Kagawa just informed me via twitter. Apparently the 2017 released date from goodreads is a typo error. That means just one year of waiting for us readers. I’m excited as early as now. The title alone shouts Garret!!!

* This review is based on a copy I received courtesy of the publisher, Mira Ink in exchange for an honest opinion.