Books · REVIEWS

Skeleton Tree by Kim Ventrella

“The ones you hold dear never leave you.”

Twelve-year-old Stanly knows the bone growing in his yard is a little weird, but that’s okay, because now he’ll have the perfect photo to submit to the Young Discoverer’s Competition. With such a unique find, he’s sure to win the grand prize.

But, oddly, the bone doesn’t appear in any photos. Even stranger, it seems to be growing into a full skeleton . . . one that only children can see.

There’s just one person who doesn’t find any of this weird–Stanly’s little sister. Mischievous Miren adopts the skeleton as a friend, and soon, the two become inseparable playmates.

When Miren starts to grow sick, Stanly suspects that the skeleton is responsible and does everything in his power to drive the creature away. However, Miren is desperate not to lose her friend, forcing Stanly to question everything he’s ever believed about life, love, and the mysterious forces that connect us.

Book Links: Amazon | Book Depository | Goodreads | Publisher

Personal Thoughts:

With mystery, adventure, and resilient character, Skeleton Tree is a welcome experience for young readers.

Stanly found a skeleton bone in their backyard, which turns out not just an ordinary bone. The skeleton is growing from the ground like an actual tree with life of its own. Stanly thought this discovery will make him win a contest, and a chance to see his father again and travel with him. At first, he intend to keep the bone a secret, but soon without so much choice, he told about the bone to his younger sister, Miren, and his best friend, Jaxon. Even their caretaker Ms. Francine eventually knows about the Skeleton. The only person who isn’t aware about it is Stanly’s mother. For some reason, his mother cannot see the Skeleton, a mystery that Stanly did not understand at first.

Miren get to spend a lot of time with the skeleton, since she’s always at home due to her sickness. Miren seems enjoying her time with the Skeleton, and become friend with him. But Miren’s health condition is not getting better, and Stanley think that the Skeleton is to blame. Is there anything he can do to stop the Skeleton?

For a debut novel, Skeleton Tree is an impressive one. Kim Ventrella successfully delivered a sensitive topic for middle-grade readers with care. Death is inevitable, as an adult that is clear to many if not all of us. But for children, it is not an easy subject to deal with. So putting it out there with this book, give chance to openly discuss the topic. An imaginative story that can be useful for parents and children. With Skeleton Tree, Kim not only creatively and sensitively handle heavy topic, but also manage to be realistic and whimsical at the same time.

Few pages in, readers will see how Stanley taking care of his sister, Miren. Which makes Stanley adorable in my opinion. He tried to understand and even tolerate Miren. He even has Slurpy, an imaginary zombie in Stanley’s head whom he feed all his frustrations and anger.

At a very young age, Stanley is obviously smart and perceptive. He understand his family’s situation – how his mom is trying her best for them, his sister’s health condition, and his missing father. In his own ways he tried to help, like by tolerating his sister, understanding their situation, and trying his best not to add to his mother’s worries.

“She did the best she could, only keeping a whole family together wasn’t supposed to be a one-person job.”

But no matter how he tried to be a good boy, things doesn’t always go to his wishes. At a young age, Stanly learned that sometimes we have to accept the inevitable. Life happens and we have to embrace it.

“Love is a funny thing. Sometimes it is long and slow and rolling. A lazy river of love. Other times, it’s over so fast, you blink and you might miss it. Both things are love, Stanly. Don’t forget that.”

On the whole, Skeleton Tree is a bittersweet story about family, love, loss, and life. It’s a beautiful book that should be introduce to younger readers with parental presence to add more understanding about the important and heavy topic it sensitively delivered. This whimsical book is a welcome addition to the middle-grade shelves.

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

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Books · REVIEWS

The Red Ribbon by Lucy Adlington

“Clothes show who you are, or who you want to be.”

Rose, Ella, Marta and Carla. In another life we might have all been friends together. But this was Birchwood.

As fourteen-year-old Ella begins her first day at work she steps into a world of silks, seams, scissors, pins, hems and trimmings. She is a dressmaker, but this is no ordinary sewing workshop. Hers are no ordinary clients. Ella has joined the seamstresses of Birkenau-Auschwitz.

Every dress she makes could be the difference between life and death. And this place is all about survival.

Ella seeks refuge from this reality, and from haunting memories, in her work and in the world of fashion and fabrics. She is faced with painful decisions about how far she is prepared to go to survive.

Is her love of clothes and creativity nothing more than collaboration wth her captors, or is it a means of staying alive?

Will she fight for herself alone, or will she trust the importance of an ever-deepening friendship with Rose?

One thing weaves through the colours of couture gowns and camp mud – a red ribbon, given to Ella as a symbol of hope.

Book Links: Amazon | Book Depository | Goodreads

Personal Thoughts:

The Red Ribbon is an affecting story of friendship and survival that shows a piece of Auschwitz history.

“The place where everyone arrives, and nobody leaves.”

The story introduced Ella, a fourteen year old Jew. She was on her way home from school when she was taken from the streets by police and sent to Birchwood, or most popularly known in history as Birkenau-Auschwitz. She was stripped of her clothes and other belongings, in exchange of the identical stripey garments for prisoners which is more like a sack than a clothing. Prisoners like Ella are just numbers in a striped uniform. They don’t have identity, their lives doesn’t matter. They are not humans to their oppressor.

When Ella arrived at Upper Tailoring Studio to find work, she had to fake her age as sixteen. Otherwise she’ll be consider as useless and eventually end up dead. There she met Rose, a young girl who came from a wealthy family but for some reason end up in the same situation like her. Ella and Rose soon become friends. They found an ally in each other, something to treasure during the war in a place like a concentration camp.

“People weren’t simple, made up of just one characteristic, like pure silk, or pure will. They were woven dram all sorts of threads on complex patterns – tartans and abstracts.”

The book itself is beautiful – with it’s colourful designs and arts related to sewing (pins, buttons, ribbons, scissors and others) that are scattered to the pages. And the story is a treasure – something that everyone should read, not only for the history but also for the sensitive story it delivered.

“It’s only when you’ve been without something that you truly appreciate how wonderful it is.”

In The Red Ribbon, Lucy Adlington sticthed together history and fiction, creating a powerful story for readers to experience.

Ella and Rose are in the same situations. But they see and take things differently. Rose is the optimistic one, while Ella is more realistic. Given their situations, I admire Ella’s survival attitude. In a place like Birchwood, you need to be tough and smart to survive, and hope that your humanity stays intact even after all the horrifying experiences.

“Cross that bridge when you come to it, or swim the river if you have to.”

Before Birchwood, Ella has a normal and happy life with her grandparents. While at Birchwood she can’t help but remember her old life and family, especially her grandma. Every time she recall her grandmother’s sayings, you’ll feel the love and longings. Even it is not explicitly said, Ella obviously look up to her grandmother. In every dress she make, she thought of her – how her grandma sew clothes and her constant reminder for her words or saying. Those sayings from her grandma not only remind Ella of what to do and what not to do, but also reminds readers of a happier memories that Ella used to have. And to hope that Ella survive the war and that she’ll get back to that happier life she once have.

“If the sun isn’t shining, make the most of rain.”

On the whole, The Red Ribbon is an affecting and enlightening read. A fictional story that feels and read like real events, which makes the hearth-breaking scenes more aching. Just like Rose said in the book, “stories has different way of telling the truth”, and The Red Ribbon is one proof of its validity. Through Ella’s story, Lucy Adlington reminds readers about one of the great horrors of the past. An important and eye-opening read especially for the younger generations. Whether you’re a target audience of this book of not, I suggest you pick this one up.

* This review is based on a copy received from the publisher, Bonnier Publishing  via Midas Public Relations in exchange for my honest opinion about the book.

Books · REVIEWS

Deadzone (Horizon, #2) by Jennifer A. Nielsen

“…if we’re going to be a single team, then we’re going to function like one.”

The survivors have made it out of the jungle, but they may be sorry they ever left when they stumble upon a whole new ecosystem, populated with entirely new threats. And the greatest threat of all may come from within. Because one of the kids is changing . . .

The seven-book series begun by #1 New York Times bestseller Scott Westerfeld only gets bigger and bolder under the frenzied imagination of bestselling, critically acclaimed author Jennifer A. Nielsen!

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

Personal Thoughts:

Deadzone is a survival story with a video game vibe and mystery, that will keep young readers at the very edge of their seats.

Those of you who have visited this blog for some time probably know that Jennifer Nielsen’s The Ascendance Trilogy is a favorite middle grade series of mine. It’s one of those fantasy books I love to read and reread. Which put Jennifer Nielsen to my auto-buy list. I’ve been looking out for her latest releases, hoping that she’ll create a new character like Sage/Jaron of The Ascendance trilogy. But in this new book of her, Deadzone, I didn’t actually expect a character like Jaron. Since the series is basically a collaboration from different authors, I know that Jennifer will have to continue the previous author, Scotte Westerfeld’s story. Which only means, same characters to play and expand for Jennifer.

Team Killbot – Kira, Yoshi and Akiko are still stranded in the arctic rift, trying their best to survive. Together with other survivors they have to cross the Blood Sand with the hope to finally find safety and answers. But crossing the Blood Sand is not an easy task. There are dangers and risks involved which may cost not only their energy and sanity but also their lives.

For a sequel of a series with different author from the previous book, Deadzone offers a same feel of read. Jennifer Nielsen continue the story from Scott Westerfeld’s Horizon with ease. She manages to deliver the same urgency if not more engaging. Unlike with the prequel, Jennifer doesn’t have to set-up the ground for the storyline anymore, giving her more space to push the story forward. Which she successfully did by giving readers and the characters new playing grounds, and more difficult battle to face.

With relatively diverse characters, Jeniffer weaved a compelling story in this sequel. The characters are not only struggling to survive the situation they are into but also each of their personal issues. Moly had to embrace her leadership role for the team Killbot; Yoshi has to accept his mother’s reason for sending him to Japan; while Kira and Akiko has some language barrier that they need to overcome in order to contribute more for the team.

Overall, Deadzone is a solid follow-up to Scott Westerfeld’s Horizon. Jennifer Nielsen not only moves the story arc forward but also set a higher stakes for the characters.

* 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 · Interviews

Celebrating Debutantes 2017: The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street by Karina Yan Glaser (Author Interview + Giveaway)

I’m super excited to welcome new author Karina Yan Glaser on the blog as part of Celebrating Debutantes 2017 blog event. Karina answered few questions for me about her upcoming debut middle-grade contemporary novel, The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street. I have read the book few weeks ago and I really love it. It has a classic-old-vibe feel to it, which makes me missed my younger days where my dad used to tell me stories during bedtime. This is a perfect read-out-loud book for kids, and also a perfect holiday read since the story is set around Christmas.

The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street releases on October 3rd, so there’s plenty of time to pre-order a copy from your favorite book stores and receive it on release day. And if you’d like to know more what I thought about this book, stop by  again a week before the book release for my review.

Following the author interview is Karina Yan Glasers’ 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 Vanderbeekers of 141st Street.

And if you would like the chance to win a signed advance readers copy of The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street, buttons and stickers, Karina is giving away below. Just enter the rafflecopter form a bit further down in this post. I hope you all enjoy the interview.

Interview with Karina Yan Glaser

Please tell us a bit about your journey with your book, The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street. When did you first come up with the idea and what were the timescales involved between the first draft and the novel being accepted for publication?
I began writing The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street in November of 2013. My youngest daughter had just started preschool, and since she only went there for three mornings a week, I would walk over to the local Coffee Bean and park myself at a table and write. I drafted the entire book during National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). It was a terrible draft, but it gave me something to work with! I took some writing classes, got feedback, and wrote revision after revision in the next year and a half. When I finally felt like the manuscript was ready, I began querying for agents and the wonderful Ginger Clark at Curtis Brown offered representation in the summer of 2015. We went on submission in the fall of that year, and it got picked up by Ann Rider (best editor ever!) at HMH within a couple of weeks.

The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street have a strong focus on family and community. How much does this reflect on your own life?
I live in Harlem with my husband and two kids, and like a lot of people I know that live in New York City, we don’t have a lot of family that live nearby. There’s no support network, which was really hard especially when our kids were young. As a result, we developed family relationships with friends and neighbors that really influenced the setting where the Vanderbeekers lived.

I love your characters, they are diverse and charming (even the bunny, Paganini). Which of them is the most fun to write?
Oh, that is a hard one! Hmm, I loved each character, but it was particularly fun getting into Laney’s head. I love the uncomplicated way she sees the world.

What scene in The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street are you most proud of, and why?
I really loved writing the climax of the book. I won’t give anything away, but it was a scene that played itself out over and over in my head before I actually wrote it.

What is the best part of writing for middle grade readers?
Middle grade readers are the best! It’s such a beautiful age for discovery. Kids that age are full of questions about the world and their place in it. Middle grade books were the ones that made me fall in love with reading, and they are still my favorite books to read now as an adult. I count myself as very lucky to be able to write for these kids.

Where do you see your work going after the release of The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street? Do you think you’ll stick with middle or branch out into something else? What are your writing career ambitions?
I plan to stick with middle grade, but I might want to try writing early chaper books. I have three more middle grade books with my Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers, so that will keep me busy for awhile!

Thanks for having me on your blog!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Originally from California, Karina came to New York City for college and has stuck around for nearly twenty years. She has had a varied career teaching and implementing literacy programs in family homeless shelters and recruiting healthcare professionals to volunteer in under resourced areas around the world. Now as a mother, one of her proudest achievements is raising two kids who can’t go anywhere without a book. She lives in Harlem with her husband, two daughters, dog, cat, and house rabbit.

Find Karina

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads


ABOUT THE BOOK

Book Details:

The Vanderbeekers of 141st StreetTitle: The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street
Author: Karina Yan Glaser
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: October 03, 2017
Pages: 304
Format: Hardcover, eBook

The Vanderbeekers have always lived in the brownstone on 141st Street. It’s practically another member of the family. So when their reclusive, curmudgeonly landlord decides not to renew their lease, the five siblings have eleven days to do whatever it takes to stay in their beloved home and convince the dreaded Beiderman just how wonderful they are. And all is fair in love and war when it comes to keeping their home.

A modern classic in the making reminiscent of the Penderwicks series, The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street is about the connections we make and the unexpected turns life can take.

Book Links

Amazon | BAM | Book Depository | Goodreads | IndieBound

Giveaway:

What’s up for Grab?

  • signed ARC of The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street
  • Buttons and Stickers

  The Rules:

  • Open to US only
  • 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 22nd, 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: Now Is Everything by Amy Giles (Author Interview + Giveaway)

Hey everyone! I’m thrilled to welcome new author Amy Giles on the blog as part of Celebrating Debutantes 2017 blog event. Amy answered few questions for me about her upcoming debut YA contemporary novel, Now is Everything. After reading the synopsis of this book, I am intrigue. It seems a thrilling read with secrets and msytery. I can’t wait to read Hadley’s story and find out about the secret of McCauleys.

Following the author interview is Amy Giles’ author bio along with places where to find her online. Then there’s also the book description and where to pre-order copies of Now is Everything which will release in November. And if you would like the chance to win an advance readers copy of Now is Everything, bookmarks and stickers, Amy is giving away one below. Just enter the rafflecopter form a bit further down in this post. I hope you all enjoy the interview.

Interview with Amy Giles

What’s your journey to writerhood been like?
Like many writers, the road to becoming an author was bumpy. Now Is Everything wasn’t my first novel. There are a few in the desk drawer that will never see the light of day—and shouldn’t! But I don’t mourn any of those early attempts. The only way you can be successful as a writer is to keep looking forward, never look back. Learn from your mistakes and find the next idea that will excite you.

What inspired your debut contemporary novel, Now Is Everything?
Now Is Everything poured out of me in a torrent of frenzied writing. I completed the first draft in three months. It started with a news story about a little girl who was the sole survivor of a small plane crash. I imagined the hell she must have gone through, not only crawling away from the wreckage, but leaving behind her entire family, all dead, then walking miles looking for help. I took that hell and went darker, taking every “what if” further and further until it became Hadley’s story of survival.

What was the biggest change you made to the story before it reached an agent/editor/publisher?
The finished book isn’t much different from the draft I sent my agent. I edited and rewrote scenes during revisions, but nothing major changed. Except for one thing: right before I sent it to my agent, I rewrote the ending, a last minute decision, and I’m so happy for it. I think it works much better this way. (For obvious reasons, I can’t tell you anything more!)

What qualities did you love exploring in Hadley as a character? What makes Hadley special for you to tell her story?
Hadley starts off fearful of her father, with good reason. But as the story progresses, she starts to find the courage to stand up to him, first for herself, then for her sister, Lila. Taking those steps with her was not only satisfying for me but also emotional. If you cry reading this book, I guarantee I cried writing those same scenes. While Now Is Everything covers a lot of ground, for me this is a story about the love and special bond between two sisters.

Did you learn any deep, interesting, or shocking truths while working on Now Is Everything, about writing in general, or about yourself?
I learned I can go days without showering (I don’t recommend it). That I can live on carbs and bacon. That boxer shorts are great for writing. That I need to force myself to get up and stretch every forty minutes or else my neck gets so stiff I can’t turn my head. That my family is extremely patient and loving, but not great at helping make healthy meals for me. When I requested a salad, they basically made me a BLT in a bowl, heavy on the B. (It was delicious.)

What are your ambitions for your writing career? Do you plan to write another book in other genre?
I am working on not one, but TWO stories now! One is in revisions, and a new one has me very excited. It is still in the drafting stage, the honeymoon period. Around twenty-thousand words is when I start to second guess myself! I will never rule out writing in another genre. Not that I’d ever compare myself to the incomparable Rainbow Rowell, but she writes what she wants to write, not what she’s expected to write.

And lastly before we end this interview, can you please share a snippet/teaser from Now Is Everything to intrigue us before the book hit the shelves in November.
Of course! From the opening:

Emergency first responders scramble up and down the hill around me like ants, trying to see what can be salvaged. We’re on different frequencies. Theirs is manic and frenzied, searching for life, while I watch without seeing. What I escaped below eclipses everything. Blank eyes. A blood-soaked Cornell sweatshirt. Necks bent unnaturally. Angry fists of heat pounding at my back as I crawled away from the wreckage.
But the sky is a perfect crisp blue, like someone forgot to tell it to wipe that smug smile off its face.
No one survives a plane crash. I shouldn’t be here.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Amy Giles is an award-winning copywriter and young adult author. She lives on an Island that is Long with her husband, two daughters, and rescue dog.

Find Amy

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads


ABOUT THE BOOK

Book Details:

Title: Now is Everything
Author: Amy Giles
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: November 07, 2017
Pages: 368
Format: Hardcover, eBook

Now Is Everything is a stirring debut novel told in alternating THEN and NOW chapters, perfect for Sarah Dessen and Jennifer Niven fans, about what one girl is willing to do to protect her past, present, and future.

The McCauleys look perfect on the outside. But nothing is ever as it seems, and this family is hiding a dark secret.

Hadley McCauley will do anything to keep her sister safe from their father. But when Hadley’s forbidden relationship with Charlie Simmons deepens, the violence at home escalates, culminating in an explosive accident that will leave everyone changed.

When Hadley attempts to take her own life at the hospital post-accident, her friends, doctors, family, and the investigator on the case want to know why. Only Hadley knows what really happened that day, and she’s not talking.

Book Links

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

Giveaway:

What’s up for Grab?

  • ARC of Now is Everything by Amy Giles
  • Bookmarks and Stickers

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 18th, 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: Dare Mighty Things by Heather Kaczynski (Author Interview + Giveaway)

I’m thrilled to welcome new author Heather Kaczynski on the blog as part of Celebrating Debutantes 2017 blog event. Heather answered few questions for me about her upcoming debut YA novel, Dare Mighty Things.

Dare Mighty Thingwill release in October but you can pre-order your copies now.

Following the author interview is Heather Kaczynski’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 Dare Mighty Thing. And if you would like the chance to win a signed advance readers copy of Dare Mighty Thing, Heather 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 Heather Kaczynski

What’s your journey so far to writerhood been like? What inspired your debut science-fiction novel, Dare Mighty Things?
Like most writers, I’ve been writing stories since childhood. I never finished a story until I graduated college. Before then, I’d started numerous original stories and fanfiction but always petered out once I got past the beginning. This time, I really sat down and made myself finish something I’d worked on and off for years. I told myself: “You’re finally out of school, you have a regular work schedule and nothing much else to occupy your time – no more excuses. If you’re going to be a writer you actually need to finish something.” So I finished it. And the next book I worked on became Dare Mighty Things.

DMT was inspired mainly by where I live – the home of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center and Space Camp – and my love of space and sci-fi adventure stories. I’m very passionate about science and encouraging girls to pursue STEM education, as well as all the exciting things the space program is doing and where we’ll be in the next few years. I tried to be as realistic as possible about the science of what’s currently possible or may be possible in the near future, but this book focuses on a girl with a dream and how she works hard to achieve it.

What kind of research went into crafting Dare Mighty Things? Did you read a lot of books about space or other science related materials?
I definitely did! My educational background is in biology, not space science, so I was really starting from square one. I read a lot of astronaut biographies and books about physics. My two favorites were MY DREAM OF STARS by Anousheh Ansari and PACKING FOR MARS by Mary Roach. Also tried to read a lot of Neil deGrasse Tyson to get a good baseline for the laws of physics (so I’d better know how to break them, ha!)

I also went on a behind-the-scenes tour of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center and interviewed an astronaut about what it’s like to leave Earth.

Dare Mighty Things is the first book in a planned duology. Did you know it was going to be a two books when you first write the story? Do you already have longer story arcs outlined?
When I first wrote Dare Mighty Things, I knew I had too much story for one book. For a time I thought it needed to be three, but then realized selling a trilogy would be quite difficult, and luckily I found ways to distill everything the story to only two books – which I think made it much stronger. I didn’t have book two entirely plotted, but I did already have the main conflicts and even the plot twists in my head from the beginning. It was a bit of a cliffhanger ending, so I was hopeful that we’d be able to sell the sequel also, and luckily it worked out that way.

What was the biggest change you made to the story before it reached an agent/editor/publisher?
Deciding where to end it. Since I’d always planned to have two books, my main issue was figuring out where to cut my one story into two pieces. It was originally much longer and ended almost in the middle of what is now book 2. Then I cut it too short, making for a very sudden and surprising cliffhanger – this was softened and slowed by my editor so that it’s not so jarring. I think we found a good happy medium.

Many writers tells how their characters take on a life of their own. As you wrote and developed Cassie, is their anything about her that surprised you?
Strangely, Cassie didn’t change much from her first draft. I was initially reluctant to include much of a romance, but kind of forced one because I thought it would be expected of by readers. I came late to the realization that it wasn’t working because Cassie was on the asexual spectrum and I was trying to make her something that didn’t go with her nature. I think I’d always kind of known that, but I had to let her be who she was.

Aside from being a half-Indian, what makes Cassie special for you to tell her story?
I don’t share the same background as Cassie, but there’s a lot of myself in her personality. I was very competitive when I was younger, and dare I say, maybe a little arrogant too. In the book, Cassie follows a similar path that I did as I matured in humbling herself, albeit in a shorter period of time. Cassie also comes to realize she may be demisexual (she begins the book identifying as ace.) And though I don’t currently ID myself the same way Cassie does, a lot of her experiences and feelings are modeled after my own. She’s also very brave, boldly going after what she wants in life – in this way she’s my opposite, as I was always very anxious as a child and afraid of doing the most basic things. Writing her that way was very cathartic and freeing for me, as I’d always wished to be able to go through life the way she does – without fear.

What are your ambitions for your writing career?
I just want to keep telling exciting stories about adventures in space – and hopefully inspire and entertain people along the way.

And lastly before we end this interview, can you please share to us your favorite scene or line from Dare Mighty Things to intrigue and tantalize us before the book hit the shelves in October.

Here’s a quick line where Cassie reflects on her genetic engineering and her ambition:

“My genes were expensive. I was an investment….My parents didn’t just expect perfect; they had paid for it. It used to bug me, their level of expectation. But not anymore. I wanted the same thing they did: to be the best.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Heather writes books for teenagers and other people who like books about teenagers. They’re usually about teenagers saving the world, because she really believes they can.

Heather never got to go to Space Camp, so she had to settle for writing about it. After graduating cum laude with a degree in biology, she returned to her first love of books, and now works in a library near NASA. She lives with her husband, their daughter, and way too many books. She’s not nearly brave enough to go into space, but she did twirl a fire baton in high school.

She’s represented by Kristin Nelson of Nelson Literary Agency.

Find Heather

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads


ABOUT THE BOOK

Book Details:

Title: Dare Mighty Things
Author: Heather Kaczynski
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: October 10, 2017
Pages: 384
Format: Hardcover, eBook, Audio

THE RULES ARE SIMPLE: You must be gifted. You must be younger than twenty-five. You must be willing to accept the dangers that you will face if you win.Seventeen-year-old Cassandra Gupta’s entire life has been leading up to this—the opportunity to travel to space. But to secure a spot on this classified mission, she must first compete against the best and brightest people on the planet. People who are as determined as she to win a place on a journey to the farthest reaches of the universe.

Cassie is ready for the toll that the competition will take; the rigorous mental and physical tests designed to push her to the brink of her endurance. But nothing could have prepared her for the bonds she would form with the very people she hopes to beat. Or that with each passing day it would be more and more difficult to ignore the feeling that the true objective of the mission is being kept from her.

As the days until the launch tick down and the stakes rise higher than ever before, only one thing is clear to Cassie: she’ll never back down . . . even if it costs her everything.

Book Links

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

Giveaway:

What’s up for Grab?

  • Pre-order copy of Dare Mighty Things by Heather Kaczynski

The Rules:

  • Open International where Book Depository Ships
  • 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 16th, 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.

Celebrating Debutantes · FEATURES · Giveaways · Interviews

Celebrating Debutantes 2017: The Victoria in My Head by Janelle Milanes (Playlist + Giveaway)

So thrilled to welcome new author Janelle Milanes to the blog as part of Celebrating Debutantes 2017 event. Janelle will be sharing a playlist she made for her debut ya contemporary novel, The Victoria In My Head.

The book will hit the shelves next month, September 19, 2017. If you haven’t pre-ordered your copy yet you still have time to placed your order online.

Following the playlist are some information about the author, Janelle Milanes along with places where to find her online, as well as the book‘s description and where to get copies of The Victoria In My Head. And if you’d like the chance to win a personalized signed copy of The Victoria in My Head and awesome swags, Janelle is giving away below. Open to everyone. Just enter the rafflecopter form a bit further down in this post.

Happy listening!

The Victoria In My Head Playlist

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Janelle Milanes is originally from Miami, FL and received her BA in English Literature from Davidson College. A lifelong YA addict, she moved to New York for her first job as a children’s literature associate at Simon & Schuster. For the past five years, Janelle has worked as a teacher and librarian throughout the New York City area. THE VICTORIA IN MY HEAD is her first novel and reflects many of her own experiences growing up as a second-generation Latina in America. Janelle currently lives in Brooklyn with her husband and their two cats. Her favorite Disney princess is Belle, since she was also a big book nerd.

 Find Janelle

Website | Twitter | Tumblr | Instagram | Goodreads


ABOUT THE BOOK

Book Details:

Title: The Victoria in My Head
Author: Janelle Milanes
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Date: September 19, 2017
Pages: 400
Format: Hardcover, eBook

Victoria Cruz inhabits two worlds: In one, she is a rock star, thrashing the stage with her husky voice and purple-streaked hair. In the other, currently serving as her reality, Victoria is a shy teenager with overprotective Cuban parents, who sleepwalks through her life at the prestigious Evanston Academy. Unable to overcome the whole paralyzing-stage-fright thing, Victoria settles for living inside her fantasies, where nothing can go wrong and everything is set to her expertly crafted music playlists.

But after a chance encounter with an unattainably gorgeous boy named Strand, whose band seeks a lead singer, Victoria is tempted to turn her fevered daydreams into reality. To do that, she must confront her insecurities and break away from the treadmill that is her life. Suddenly, Victoria is faced with the choice of staying on the path she’s always known and straying off-course to find love, adventure, and danger.

From debut author Janelle Milanes comes a hilarious and heartfelt tale of the spectacular things that can happen when you go after what you really want.

Book Links

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

Giveaway:

What’s up for Grab?

  • personalized hardcover copy of The Victoria in My Head by Janelle Milanes
  • an enamel music pin,
  • and a small vinyl record print with the name of the book on it

 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 14th, 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.