Celebrating Debutantes · FEATURES · Giveaways · Interviews

Celebrating Debutantes 2017: The Wood by Chelsea Bobulski (Author Interview and Giveaway)

Welcome to another feature of Celebrating Debutantes 2017 event. Today I’m thrilled to feature new author Chelsea Bobulski and her debut fantasy/mystery novel, The Wood. The book will hit the shelves in three (3) days, and I can’t wait for everyone to get the chance to read this riveting book.  If you haven’t pre-ordered your copy yet you still have time to place your order from your favorite book store.

If you’d like to know more about the book, check out the book’s description. If you’d like to catch up with Author Chelsea Bobulski online, her social links and author bio follow the interview. And if you would like the chance to win a copy of the book, just enter the rafflecopter form a bit further down in this post to be enter on the giveaway which is open international.

A huge thank you to Chelsea for taking the time to answer all my questions, I hope you guys enjoy!

Interview with Chelsea Bobulski

Can you tell us a little bit about your journey as a new author?

My journey has honestly been a dream come true. It took me five years and five books to get my first book deal after deciding I wanted to pursue traditional publishing (before that, I only wrote for my own amusement, never daring to dream that I could someday walk into a bookstore and see one of my books on the shelves). My full publishing journey up until getting that first book deal was a very long process, with a lot of twists and turns that would take waaaay too long to detail here, but if you would like to read more about it, you can check out my blog post, My Journey to Publication. Post-book deal, my journey has been everything I could have ever hoped it would be. My editor and my entire publishing team have been so supportive. THE WOOD would not be the book it is now, the book I intended for it to be all along, if it weren’t for their expert guidance.

The Wood has an intriguing premise – enchanted woods, time travel, portals, and guardians. Where did you get the inspiration for the story?

I would definitely say the main inspiration came from two of my favorite things (the history nerd in me that hopes for the possibility of time-travel, and a lifelong connection to the woods that I can only describe as a primordial and ancient urge to return to nature whenever I can—Side Note: I’m a big hiker, but not a big camper, to which my husband will attest. I enjoy the woods so much more if I can go home, or to a nice hotel with a shower, at the end of the day). Both of these pieces of me must have come together subconsciously in my brain, crafting this story and my main character, Winter, while I was off doing and writing other things. I have no other way to explain how Winter’s voice came to me fully-formed one day while I was free-writing for fun. It was like she’d been there all along, waiting for me to tell her story. I free-wrote the first fifty pages of THE WOOD just listening to Winter’s voice, letting her guide the story (pages that have not changed much at all from first draft to final product, other than the inclusion of a new scene). It was at fifty pages that I stopped and realized I should probably plot out the story my main character was trying to tell me before I totally lost track of it. But at its heart, THE WOOD is a mixture of all my favorite things, blended with a very deep and urgent need to escape to the woods from time to time and bask in its beauty.

How did you maintain the atmosphere of mystery throughout the story?

Maintaining the atmosphere of mystery throughout the story was very easy for me because I didn’t even know what was going on half the time. It was as if Winter and I were discovering the mystery together. Of course, I knew the most important things, but there was a lot I didn’t know. Both of my main characters, Winter and Henry, were very sneaky, only showing me their secrets on a need-to-know basis. I remember getting really frustrated one time and shouting at my computer, “Just tell me what you’re hiding!!” (Really glad no one was around to see that). There were plenty of times when they would reveal something important to me mid-drafting that I didn’t see coming, as if they were throwing a bone to the poor writer trying to tell their story. This isn’t typical of how I write—usually I plot out quite a bit of the story, leaving just enough wiggle room for unexpected surprises (because if I plot out the entire book point by point beforehand, there’s no more discovery inherent in the process and I lose all of the excitement and passion for writing it)—but THE WOOD was not a typical book for me from the moment I wrote the first page. It definitely took on a life of its own, which may also be why there is such an atmosphere of mystery surrounding it!

Do you have a method for creating your characters, and what do you think makes them believable?

Character is the most important part of a book to me, both as a reader and as a writer. As a reader, I need to connect with the main character on a deeply personal level in order to enjoy their story. It’s the same for me while writing. I have plenty of plot ideas for future books swimming around in my head, but until their characters step forward and really show me why their story is important, I can’t begin to write them. I need to be able to get under the skin of my characters. I need to analyze them and figure out their deepest desires and fears, their goals, their motivations, the past hurts that define their internal conflict, the situation they find themselves in that defines their external conflict—I think it’s just so important to know your character inside and out as much as possible before you start writing, because it’s amazing how discovering things about your character can really affect the plot, and vice versa. If you’re like me, there are things you will continue to discover about your character as you’re drafting, but it’s so important to understand why they’re doing what they’re doing and how they feel about it. I tend to find that it’s only when you understand your characters on this deeper level that they reveal even more of themselves to you. This is also what makes a character believable, what makes them feel fully-formed in the reader’s mind. The other extremely important thing that makes a character believable is giving them flaws. No one wants to read about a perfect person doing perfect things, never failing, never growing, never changing. It just doesn’t make for an interesting story. Even if a character is a perfectionist obsessed with doing everything perfect, digging deeper may reveal the dark past that has inspired these tendencies, the stains that continue to bleed into her current life—that’s where the story is. Not the perfect things the character tries to do, but why she’s doing them, and why she won’t be able to keep up the façade for much longer.

Love the cover art of The Wood. It looks dark and sinister. Did you have any say in the cover and title of your book? How important do you think they are?

As much as we try to not judge a book by its cover, I do think it’s very important that a cover convey everything the reader will find in your book in an eye-catching way—that is, after all, what’s going to make a reader curious enough to read the description of your book and/or the first page. I was so, so fortunate to get the cover of my dreams right off the bat. My editor sent me the concept, and the second I saw my cover, it took my breath away. Rich Deas, Feiwel and Friends’ creative director, came up with the perfect cover to convey the tone and atmosphere of THE WOOD in that single leaf, and I couldn’t be more grateful for that. Seeing this story become an actual book and flourish under such an amazing team has just been a total dream come true.

If you could go back in time and tell young Chelsea one thing, what would it be?

“I know things aren’t easy right now, little one. I know there are days when you feel like your whole world is crashing down around you. Like you’re alone in a limitless ocean, barely treading water. Hold on, keep breathing, because all of those dreams you’re praying for, the life you someday hope to live, it’s all going to come true. You are going to be blessed beyond your wildest dreams. You are going to be a published author, and you are going to be blessed with an amazing husband and a beautiful daughter. You are going to be living your best life, and it is going to be amazing.”

And this is definitely what I would tell anyone going through difficulties, especially as a teen or as an adolescent, since that can be such a hard time when you don’t have any control over your situation, whatever it may be, and when you can feel very lost or alone, especially as you are trying to discover who you are vs. who other people expect you to be. Just know that it does get better, and that if you work hard for it, you will be living your best, most amazing life. So keep your chin up, chase your dreams, and don’t look back. You’ve got this.

Where do you see your work going after the release of The Wood? Any other project we should look forward to?

I have a few secret projects I’m working on right now. One is a YA in a similar vein as THE WOOD, and the others are fun, new age groups and genres for me that I’m really excited to be working on. No news I can share yet, but I hope to be able to soon! 🙂

Thanks for having me!!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Chelsea Bobulski was born in Columbus, Ohio, and raised on Disney movies, Broadway musicals, and Buckeye pride. She graduated from The Ohio State University with a degree in history, and promptly married her high school sweetheart. As a writer, she has a soft spot for characters with broken pasts, strange talents, and obstacles they must overcome for a brighter future. She now lives in Northwest Ohio with her husband, her daughter, and one very emotive German Shepherd/Lab mix. Her debut young adult novel, THE WOOD, will be published by Feiwel & Friends/Macmillan on August 1, 2017.

Find Chelsea

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads


ABOUT THE BOOK

Book Details:

Title: The Wood
Author: Chelsea Bobulski
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Publication Date: August 01, 2017
Pages: 320
Format: Hardcover, Paperback, eBook

After her father goes missing in the woods that they protect, Winter tries to seek the truth in what happened, why the wood is changing, and what it all has to do with the arrival of a mysterious stranger in this thrilling YA debut.

When Winter’s dad goes missing during his nightly patrol of the wood, it falls to her to patrol the time portals and protect the travelers who slip through them. Winter can’t help but think there’s more to her dad’s disappearance than she’s being told.

She soon finds a young man traveling in the wood named Henry who knows more than he should. He believes if they can work together to find his missing parents, they could discover the truth about Winter’s dad.

The wood is poisoned, changing into something sinister—torturing travelers lost in it. Winter must put her trust in Henry in order to find the truth and those they’ve lost.

Bobulski’s eerie debut is filled with friendship, family, and the responsibilities we choose and those we do not.

Book Links

Amazon | B&N | BAM | Book DepositoryIndieBound | Goodreads | Publisher

Giveaway:

What’s up for Grab?

  • Copy of The Wood by Chelsea Bobulski

The Rules:

  • Open to 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 August 19th, 2017
  • Prize will be sent by the author

To enter fill out the form

Good Luck!!!

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

Books · REVIEWS

The Ship Beyond Time (The Girl from Everywhere #2) by Heidi Heilig

“…whenever you try to change something, you sacrifice something else.”

Nix has spent her whole life journeying to places both real and imagined aboard her time-traveling father’s ship. And now it’s finally time for her to take the helm. Her father has given up his obsession to save her mother—and possibly erase Nix’s existence—and Nix’s future lies bright before her. Until she learns that she is destined to lose the one she loves. But her relationship with Kash—best friend, thief, charmer extraordinaire—is only just beginning. How can she bear to lose him? How can she bear to become as adrift and alone as her father?

Desperate to change her fate, Nix takes her crew to a mythical utopia to meet another Navigator who promises to teach her how to manipulate time. But everything in this utopia is constantly changing, and nothing is what it seems—not even her relationship with Kash. Nix must grapple with whether anyone can escape her destiny, her history, her choices. Heidi Heilig weaves fantasy, history, and romance together to tackle questions of free will, fate, and what it means to love another person. But at the center of this adventure are the extraordinary, multifaceted, and multicultural characters that leap off the page, and an intricate, recognizable world that has no bounds. The sequel—and conclusion—to the indie darling The Girl from Everywhere will be devoured by fans of Rachel Hartman and Maggie Stiefvater. Includes black-and-white maps.

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

Personal Thoughts:

Heidi Heilig sailed once again in this sequel of her time travel series, The Girl from Everywhere. Amira/Nix and her crew are back in The Ship Beyond Time for more journey, searching for the biggest question of time travel about changing history and fate – Do we decide our own fate or is it simply a predetermined path?

Can Amira change her destiny to save someone she love?

I come aboard reading this sequel with less expectations especially with all the issues I have from the first book. If not for Kashmir and the hope to get answers or explanations to at least few of my questions from the The Girl from Everywhere I’m not sure I’ll be coming back for more. But my curiosity win as usual.

The best part of this book (aside from Kashmir and his point of view) is how all the events are interconnected. Sometimes I view those events as circle or loop which are all linked to each other in some way. And analyzing them just form lots of questions (more on that later) than answers. The events are all interconnected, every decisions counts, and they are all part of a grander plot. Which makes me appreciate the intricacy of all these connections. Heidi Heilig must have done lots of research and outlining, not only weaving the imaginary world to the real ones but also interlacing each events.

Remember the main conflict from the first book? About the possibility or erasing Amira’s very own existence if his dad tried and save her mom. Well, that conflict doesn’t really work for me because of Kashmir – an imaginary character from mythical land who exist as real and living boy in the story. (Check my explanations from my review of the first book here for more details.) I did wait for some explanations for that in this second installment, and Kash actually have some thoughts about it but there was never a clear answer. Just one of the many unanswered questions I have from this series.

“If you can create a myth, why not a man? Am I merely a figment of some cartographer’s imagination? Or did you make me up when you arrived?”

Then there’s also the time traveling part. I won’t go into details about the rules of time traveling. I cover more than enough of those from my review of the first book, The Girl from Everywhere. Instead, let’s discuss the classic question I mentioned above, about fate and destiny. Are we the masters of our own fate? Amira travel the length of mythical land looking for answers about changing her destiny with the belief of saving Kashmir. She cannot accept a future where she will lose Kash, to the point of losing the time she was supposed to enjoy with him.

“That’s why you want to know you can change things before you commit.”
“You watched your father chase your mother for years, and you wished he didn’t love her. What will you do to my memory when I’m gone? Will you chase it like a dragon? Or will you banish it like smoke?”

Amira dreaded the future that she forgot to enjoy the present. Unlike Kash who even doubting his very own existence manage to appreciate what he has.

“I won’t let fear of tomorrow steal joy form today.”

Heidi Heilig challenged her characters about the cause and effect of our choices, the ramification of our actions, and how destiny play a huge role in all of these. Amira went to this mythical utopia to find answers in saving Kash, but in doing so she actually triggered the events that led to her loss. Which is just one part of the connections I mentioned above. If only I can enumerate all them here without spoiling. But trust me, those parts are the best, especially in the end where everything is laid out.

“Every choice has a cost, Miss Song. The real question is whether or not one is willing to pay it.”
“No, Blake. The real question is whether it’s worth the price.”

So, Amira doesn’t actually changed her destiny. In the end she still lose someone she love. Which means destiny cannot be altered. If that’s the case, then it brings conflict to Kashmir and Blake’s dream. During their stay in the mythical utopia, there are events that explain Kashmir and Blake’s dream which are actually altered reality – something that happened but was altered somehow. And only navigators remembers what really happened in those events. Those parts are contradicting. They bring more conflicts than answers. Which means we are back to square one. Is fate can really be altered or are we just treading the same line where our destiny ends? Unfortunately, The Ship Beyond Time cannot answer that question. I guess, it’s really up to the  readers what they want to believe.

Back to Amira and Kash. These two went through a lot. Their internal struggles, relationship issues, and overall character development is really the heart of The Ship Beyond Time. Though I missed the other characters who all take a few steps backward in this last adventure, I still enjoyed Kash and Amira’s story. Surprisingly, there’s no love-triangle involved. Blake is not much of a competition as I expected him to be, especially with how the first book ended. So we only have Amira and Kash trying to navigate their own sea of issues both as a couple and individual. Kashmir is questioning his own purpose and existence. While Amira is struggling not only with her destiny of losing someone she love, but also becoming like her father. She is afraid of losing control, of giving in to love and end up like her father – whom we see from the first book as someone obsess in getting his wife back.

Overall, The Ship Beyond Time is imaginative, exciting and entertaining read. Not everything is explained, but that matters very little especially when you are lost enjoying sailing with characters like Amira and her diverse crew aboard the time-traveling ship, Temptation.

Celebrating Debutantes · FEATURES · Giveaways · Guest Post

Celebrating Debutantes 2016: Resurrecting Sunshine by Lisa A. Koosis (Playlist + Giveaway)

Celebrating Debutantes 2016 Second Wave

Happy Monday to all!

Here’s a perfect way to start the week! Listen to all the songs below from the playlist of Ressurecting Sunshine by Lisa Koosis.

Her choice of songs will surely tap your mood if not touch your soul. I’ve been listening to the playlist myself for quite a while and it makes me more excited to meet Adam Rhodes in Lisa’s debut novel, Resurrecting Sunshine when the book hit shelves in October 1st this year. If those set of songs tells even just a bit of Adam’s story then I think I will love the book.

Following the playlist are some information about the author, Lisa Koosis along with places where to find her online, as well as the book’s description and where to get copies of Ressurecting Sunshine.

And be sure and check the bottom of the post for all the details on a how to win an advance readers copy of the book plus bookmarks.

Here’s Lisa with the playlist for all of us!

Resurrecting Sunshine Playlist

Thank you so much Lisa for creating the playlist of Ressurecting Sunshine for us.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

author-lisa-koosisIn high school, much to the dismay of her guidance counselor, Lisa Koosis traded AP English for a creative writing class and a class in speculative fiction. She never looked back. Lisa is a member of the SCBWI, an ambassador for National Novel Writing Month, and an active member of her local writing community. Her short stories have been published widely. When she isn’t writing, you’ll probably find her out walking her dog, or chilling with her cats.

Find Lisa

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Blog | Goodreads


ABOUT THE BOOK

resurrecting-sunshineBook Details:

Title: Resurrecting Sunshine
Author: Lisa Koosis
Publisher:  AW Teen
Publication Date: October 01, 2016
Pages: 320
Format: Hardcover, Paperback, eBook

At seventeen, Adam Rhodes is famous, living on his own, and in a downward spiral since he lost the girl he loved. Marybeth stage name Sunshine was his best friend from the days they were foster kids; then she was his girlfriend and his band mate. But since her accidental death, he’s been drinking to deal with the memories. Until one day, an unexpected visitor, Dr. Elloran, presents Adam with a proposition that just might save him from himself.

Using breakthrough cloning and memory-implantation techniques, Dr. Elloran and the scientists at Project Orpheus want to resurrect Marybeth, and they need Adam to “donate” intimate memories of his life with her. The memory retrieval process forces Adam to relive his life with Marybeth and the devastating path that brought them both to fame. Along the way, he must confront not only the circumstances of her death but also his growing relationship with the mysterious Genevieve, daughter of Project Orpheus’s founder. As the process sweeps Adam and Marybeth ever closer to reliving the tragedy that destroyed them, Adam must decide how far he’ll go to save her.”

Book Links:

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

Giveaway:

What’s up for Grab?

  • Advance readers copy of Resurrecting Sunshine by Lisa Koosis & bookmarks

The Rules:

  • Open to International
  • There will be one (1) lucky winner
  • Winner will be chosen and announced by rafflecopter
  • Winner will be contacted thru email & should response within 48 hours
  • Ends October 3rd, 2016
  • Prizes will be sent by the author

To enter fill out the rafflecopter form

Good Luck!!!

Treat yourself to a complete #CelebratingDebutantes2016 experience. Click the image below for the full list of schedule and links to each second wave feature post!

CD2016 Second Wave Collage

 

Celebrating Debutantes · FEATURES · Giveaways · Interviews

Celebrating Debutantes 2016: Genesis Girl by Jennifer Bardsley (Author Interview + Giveaway)

Celebrating Debutantes 2016 Second Wave

I’m so pleased to welcome author Jennifer Bardsley today to the blog as part of Celebrating Debutantes 2016. Jennifer debut novel, Genesis Girl is one  of my anticipated book this year with its unique and interesting premise that caught my interest. And it so nice to have a chance to ask Jennifer few questions about the book and her writing.

To know more about Jennifer Bardsley and Genesis Girl, check the author’s bio and book’s description that follows after the interview, as well as links where to find Jennifer and where to buy copies of the book.

Also, don’t forget to check the giveaway at the bottom of this post for a chance to win Genesis Girl swags!

Interview with Jennifer Bardsley

Your debut novel, “Genesis Girl” has a unique and interesting premise. Where did you get the idea for the story?

I wanted to write a YA book that had never been done before. That meant no werewolves, no vampires, and no games that involved kids risking their lives for reality tv shows. A concept that seemed unique was teenagers who had never been on the Internet. I was also inspired by an ugly part of history. In the seventeen and eighteen hundreds young boys in Italy were sometimes castrated in the hopes that they would become famous opera stars called castrati, who were capable of hitting the highest notes. In the Sci-Fi world of “Genesis Girl,” Vestals have their digital footprints castrated in the hopes they will become celebrities.

“Genesis Girl” features a unique and dynamic world involving digital technologies. What were some of the difficulties in world-building the story’s settings? How did you deal with them?

One of the biggest problems I had to solve was figuring out how Vestals would actually keep themselves off the Internet. Imagine how hard it would be to prevent your picture from ever being uploaded online. You’d never be able to go anywhere because you’d always be afraid of photo-bombing somebody’s picture, or worse, that your picture would be snapped and shared against your will. Part of the Vestal world is that they live in their own communities their entire lives in order to protect their privacy. That’s why I sometimes say Blanca is a Sci-Fi Amish girl.

In “Genesis Girl” digital technologies and Internet plays a major part in the story, for an author like you what do you think is the advantage & disadvantage of Internet or social media?

A huge advantage of the Internet is that I can connect with readers on The YA Gal Facebook or on Instagram every time I turn on my phone. The downside is that it’s hard to know when to turn my phone off. I always feel like I’ll miss something important.

In your opinion, are we headed for a dystopic or utopian future? Why?

Ask me after November’s election. Kidding! No, seriously, I think that we are headed for a bright future, and I’m not just saying that because I grew up on Walt Disney. Technology is bringing people closer together and that gives us the enormous opportunity to make the world a better place.

Now that your debut novel is out, how has it changed your writing life?

This summer I’ll be in the editorial process for “Damaged Goods,” the sequel to “Genesis Girl.” That will involve juggling the promotion of book one, polishing book two, and driving my kids around Seattle from swimming lessons to day camp.

Is there anything you can tell us about the next book in the Blank Slate series, Damaged Gods?

Without giving away spoilers. “Damaged Goods” dives into how the Vestals interact with their Chinese counterparts, the Guardians.

Thank you so much for interviewing me! It was lovely chatting with you!

Thank you so much Jennifer for stopping by today and for taking the time to answer all my questions above.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Author Jennifer BardsleyJennifer Bardsley writes the parenting column “I Brake for Moms” for The Everett Daily Herald. Her debut YA novel, “Genesis Girl” will be published by Month9Books on June 14, 2016, with the sequel releasing in 2017. “Genesis Girl” is about a teenager who has never been on the Internet. Jennifer however, is on the web all the time as “The YA Gal” with over 20,000 followers on Facebook, and 15,000 followers on Instagram. On Facebook, she hosts the weekly instant book club called #TakeALookTuesday where YA Gal friends geek out, share pictures of what they are reading, and chat about books. Jennifer is a member of SCBWI, The Sweet Sixteens debut author group, and is founder of Sixteen To Read. An alumna of Stanford University, Jennifer lives near Seattle, WA where she enjoys spending time with her family and her poodle, Merlin.

Find Jennifer

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads


Genesis GirlABOUT THE BOOK

Book Details:

Title: Genesis Girl
Author: Jennifer Bardsley
Publisher: Month9Books
Publication Date: June 14, 2016
Pages: 280
Format: Hardcover, Paperback, eBook

Eighteen-year-old Blanca has lived a sheltered life. Her entire childhood has been spent at Tabula Rasa School where she’s been protected from the Internet. Blanca has never been online and doesn’t even know how to text. Her lack of a virtual footprint has made her extremely valuable and upon graduation Blanca, and those like her, are sold to the highest bidders. Blanca is purchased by Cal McNeal, who uses her to achieve personal gain. But the McNeals are soon horrified by just how obedient and non-defiant Blanca is. All those mind-numbing years locked away from society have made her mind almost impenetrable. By the time Blanca is ready to think for herself, she is trapped. Her only chance of escape is to go online.

Book Links:

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

 

Giveaway:

What’s up for Grab?

  • Genesis Girl SwagsGenesis Girl Swags Giveaway

The Rules:

  • Open to International
  • There will be one (1) winner
  • Winner will be chosen and announced by rafflecopter
  • Winner will be contacted thru email & should response within 48 hours
  • Ends September 8th, 2016
  • Prizes will be sent by the author

To enter fill out the rafflecopter form

Good Luck!!!

Treat yourself to a complete #CelebratingDebutantes2016 experience. Click the image below for the full list of schedule and links to each second wave feature post!

CD2016 Second Wave Collage

 

Books · REVIEWS

The Loneliness of Distant Beings by Kate Ling

The Loneliness of Distant Beings

“…this is the way things are. You know they can’t be any different. The only person you hurt by kicking against everything is you.”

‘It is that quick, it is that strong, it is that beautiful. And it is also totally impossible.’

Even though she knows it’s impossible, Seren longs to have the sunshine on her skin. It’s something she feels she needs to stay sane. But when you’re floating through space at thousands of kilometres an hour, sometimes you have to accept there are things you cannot change.

Except that the arrival of Dom in her life changes everything in ways she can barely comprehend. For a while he becomes the Sun for her; and she can’t help but stay in his orbit. Being with him flaunts every rule designed to keep their home in order, but to lose him would be like losing herself.

In the end they must decide what is most important: loyalty to the only home they’ve ever known, or to each other?

Book Links: Amazon | Book Depository | Goodreads | iBooks

Personal Thoughts:

The Loneliness of Distant Beings is a space opera novel that tell the story of Seren, a teenager who lives in a spaceship called Ventura, along with a whole community who follows rules and protocols assigned to them. Their jobs are assigned according to their skills, their homes are assigned based on the location of their work, and their life partners are chosen by the system that ensure genetic diversity and continuation of the human race. Most of them just go with it, never question the system nor the order and the rules but not Seren, especially after she met and fall for a young man who isn’t her assigned life partner.

On its surface, The Loneliness of Distant Beings is an affecting romance, but beneath the romance is a story of society trying to survive in outer space with all the rules and regulations that keeping them intact.

Kate Ling descriptions of Ventura spaceship and the life aboard in it is vivid and easy to follow. The world development is pretty flowing and absorbing making the story and situation easily believable in-spite of the outer space settings. The space settings actually reminds me of the novel/TV series The 100, while the controlled society reminds me of dystopian novels such as The Giver and Divergent.

“Funny that you never believe what people tell you about fear until you feel it for yourself.”

Seren maybe hard-headed and stubborn but those qualities actually makes her stronger than other characters. Her stubbornness makes her brave enough to question the order and the rules that they insist to them. She’s the only one who think and act of going against the system and the people who run it in order to have the life she wants. Her plans are not perfect, but at least she tried to do something. Even at times when I think what she is doing is idiotic or unreasonable I still root for her.

Captain Kat as the villain is very effective on her role. She’s strong enough to make readers believe that she is capable of harming Seren and Dom which add tension to the plot. She’s also a complex character, because in-spite of all her villainy act, she actually believe that what she is doing is right. She’s a victim of a system – a system that she and other like her believes as the key to the survival of humanity. She is willing to sacrifice few in order to save majority of her people. Sometimes cruel and unfair but she actually think that what she is doing is for the benefits of the community.

“…sometimes life can seem unfair, but things are as they are for a reason.”

Then there’s Ezra, Captain Kat’s son and Seren’s fiancée. Though the story mainly focused on Seren and Dom’s relationship, Ezra actually play an integral part at the end of the book, which for me is a huge deal. I find his character more interesting than Dom and I wish there’s more of him and his background in the story. As a son of Captain Kat, with all the privileged and top level access he has, I’m sure Ezra has interesting stories to tell.

Overall, The Loneliness of Distant Beings is a well-structured, thought provoking, and easily accessible science-fiction novel. If you don’t mind reading the romance which basically out-weight the science-fiction part then I’m sure you will enjoy this space opera novel with its interesting world and interesting take on lack of free will and making choices.

*  This review is based on a copy I received courtesy of the publisher, Little Brown Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Hachette Children’s Books UK in exchange of honest opinion.

Books · REVIEWS

Ruined by Amy Tintera

Ruined

“Make people fear you… Stop worrying about what you don’t have and start focusing on what you do. Make people tremble when they hear your name. Fear is your power.”

Emelina Flores has nothing. Her home in Ruina has been ravaged by war. She lacks the powers of her fellow Ruined. Worst of all, she witnessed her parents’ brutal murders and watched helplessly as her sister, Olivia, was kidnapped.

But because Em has nothing, she has nothing to lose. Driven by a blind desire for revenge, Em sets off on a dangerous journey to the enemy kingdom of Lera. Somewhere within Lera’s borders, Em hopes to find Olivia. But in order to find her, Em must infiltrate the royal family.

In a brilliant, elaborate plan of deception and murder, Em marries Prince Casimir, next in line to take Lera’s throne. If anyone in Lera discovers Em is not Casimir’s true betrothed, Em will be executed on the spot. But it’s the only way to salvage Em’s kingdom and what is left of her family.

Em is determined to succeed, but the closer she gets to the prince, the more she questions her mission. Em’s rage-filled heart begins to soften. But with her life—and her family—on the line, love could be Em’s deadliest mistake.

Book Links: Amazon | Book Depository | Goodreads | Publisher

Personal Thoughts:

Ruined is a strong start to a new fantasy series by Amy Tintera. It introduces a world where people with especial abilities or power called Ruined are hunted and killed to extinction by neighboring Kingdoms, Lera and Vallos. Emelina Flores is one of the Ruined and she wants revenge.

All Emelina’s loved ones are taken from her – her parents were killed, her sister Olivia was kidnapped and taken as a prisoner, her country is being destroyed, and her people are hunted one by one. She has nothing left but a goal to make her enemies pay. With an elaborate plan of deceit and lies Emelina will do everything to achieve her revenge. Her plan — she will pose as the Prince’s betrothed, while trying to get information about her sister and free her, and then kill the whole Royal family of Lera.

The story is well plotted that ensures readers to keep turning pages after pages. There are more than enough of plot arcs and twists to get lost into. Between waiting for Emelina’s identity to be revealed, her plans of killing the Royal family, her relationship to Cas, saving her sister, helping her people without them knowing, and her alliance to the other Kingdom there’s so many things going on and many are at stakes.

People dies, trust broken, sacrifices are made in this powerful story of revenge.

Amy Tintera introduces Emelina Flores to readers as the cold-blooded heroine. Just few pages from the start readers will find Emelina killing a Princess so she can take the Princess’ place as the Prince’s betrothed. From there Emelina will remove every obstacle on her path to get her revenge and have her sister back. She’s not exactly ruthless but she is non-apologetic. She is very determined and will do anything to survive. For someone who doesn’t have powers like her own people, Emelina is pretty skillful. She does what she can with what she has.

Prince Casimir started as a sheltered and naive Prince. He is unaware of how his father is ruling their Kingdom. But when he met Emelina with her unfiltered opinions and thoughts, Cas then started to see things differently and begin to questioned his father and the way they treat the Ruined.

The ending won’t exactly leave readers hanging over the edge of a steep cliff, but will surely want to know more what’s next to Emelina Flores, her sister Olivia, her people, and her Prince. It actually promise a darker story and leaves a foreboding remarks for readers to eagerly anticipate the next installment.

The only mild complaint with this book is the world building or the lack of it. For fantasy book, I really like when I can easily picture the world or surroundings where the story is set up. I do get that there are four Kingdoms in this book — Ruina, Lera, Vallos and Olso but the relation of these Kingdoms to each other and their actual land positions are pretty vague. Also, the reasons of why Lera and Vallos are targeting Ruina, and the Ruined powers wasn’t explored that much. Let’s just hope that Amy Tintera will tackle all those and more in the next installment.

All in all, Ruined is a fast-paced, thrilling, and riveting story. With lies, secrets, betrayal, murder and well written action scenes this new fantasy series by Amy Tintera will surely keep readers hooked from start to end.

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

Celebrating Debutantes · FEATURES · Giveaways · Interviews

Celebrating Debutantes 2016: Mirror in the Sky by Aditi Khorana (Author Interview + Giveaway)

Celebrating Debutantes 2016

I love reading stories set in alternate/parallel universe, especially when there are scientific explanations involve. I like how alternative reality explores “what if” scenarios. Compare to fantasy books, I think science-fiction set in parallel worlds like time travel or time splitting are more engage in reality. That’s why I’m so thrilled to have author Aditi Khorona here on the blog today for a short interview as part of Celebrating Debutantes 2016 event. Aditi’s debut YA science-fiction novel, Mirror in the Sky explores alternative universe. Looking forward discovering how Aditi presents this set-up in Mirror in the Sky when the book hit the shelves this June 21st 2016.

To know more about Aditi Khorona and Mirror in the Sky, check the author’s bio and book’s description that follows after the interview, as well as links where to find Aditi and where to buy copies of the book.

Also, don’t forget to check the fabulous giveaway at the bottom of this post for a chance to win a ARC of Mirror in the Sky and swags!

Interview with Aditi Khorana

Mirror in the Sky is your debut novel, what push you to pursue writing as a career? How did you know what story you want to write about? And why science-fiction?

I was too terrified to pursue my passion for writing professionally for many years. I wrote quietly on the side, at night or on the weekends while working full-time. But my work as a journalist, researcher, market research consultant and communications director at a startup informed both my writing as well as my way of observing the world. Eventually, I wrote my first novel, but it was rejected by multiple agents. I wrote Mirror in the Sky soon after that failure. I was second-guessing myself and all of my choices and Mirror in the Sky came from a very vulnerable place of questioning many of my own life choices. I never really thought of Mirror in the Sky as science fiction while I was working on it. While the overarching idea of an alternate Earth is undeniably science fiction, it’s more of a contemporary speculative story about what the world would be like if we all knew we had a twin on another planet. It’s a book that explores that idea as well as many others, including Otherness, race and class.

One of the things that sets YA science fiction apart from much adult science fiction is how accessible it is for readers (generally speaking), it makes entering alternate world easy (at least based on my own experience). Do you agree? Was that something you thought about while you were writing?

As I was writing, I wasn’t really thinking of Mirror in the Sky as either YA or adult fiction. I just wanted to write a story that felt authentic and was coming from the most honest part of me. But I do think that writing from the voice of a 16-year old was really fun because of how uncensored and raw Tara is. I loved exploring the idea of another world from her point of view, as well as the world that she inhabits in her day-to-day life on the Brierly campus. Ultimately, Tara is an outsider in so many ways and her way of dealing with this is through escaping into a fascination with Terra Nova. The thing is, she’s not the only one. The discovery of an alternate Earth has cataclysmic consequences for nearly everyone she knows.

Could you discuss your concept of mirror Earth? Where did you base this idea?

The Mirror Earth is really a metaphor for all the paths we didn’t take, all the desires we deferred, all the possibilities that still foment within us. That person we could have dated, but didn’t, the career or college we could have chosen, the friends we could have had, that other city we could have lived in. Before I wrote the book, I read Cheryl Strayed’s Rumpus column – The Ghost Ship That Didn’t Carry Us – and it inspired me to write MITS. It’s about choosing a particular path and simultaneously wondering about the one we didn’t choose. Since I was in my own period of questioning, writing about another world inhabited by alternate versions of all of us felt like an idea that I was personally aching to explore.

Based on the reviews I have read, you write in such a way that captures emotions completely. How do you manage this?

I just try and write from the most honest part of myself, even if it’s difficult or embarrassing or makes me cringe a little. Especially if it makes me feel this way. So much of writing is about delving headlong into your own discomfort, your own confusion, your own pain.

Did you encounter any challenges while writing Mirror in the Sky? How did you deal with it?

As I mentioned above, I wrote MITS soon after the first novel I wrote – one I (to my chagrin, and perhaps foolishly) had high expectations for was rejected by multiple agents. MITS was something I wrote for myself and my close friends and family. I wrote it in three months and sent it out to agents on a whim. I suppose the biggest challenge I had while writing it was that I was questioning my abilities and facing my own limitations as a writer. It felt like the only way I could deal with these issues was by writing!

Let’s say there is another version of you on another planet, what do you think she will be like? And what she’s doing right now?

Perhaps there is. I’d like to believe she’s chosen to pursue the work that fulfills her and keeps going despite obstacles.

Where do you see your work going after the release of Mirror in the Sky? Do you think you’ll stick with science fiction or branch out into something else?

I’m not married to science fiction and I love exploring ideas, so I hope to continue doing that in whatever I write. I’ve just finished a work of literary fiction as well as a feminist period fantasy set in ancient India.

Thank you so much Aditi for stopping by today and for taking the time to answer all my questions above. Looking forward to the released of Mirror in the Sky this June.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Author Aditi Khorana PicAditi Khorana spent part of her childhood in India, Denmark, and New England. She has a BA in international relations from Brown University and an MA in global media and communications from the Annenberg School for Communication. She has worked as a journalist at ABC News, CNN, and PBS, and most recently as a marketing executive consulting for various Hollywood studios including Fox, Paramount, and Sony. Mirror in the Sky is her first novel. She lives in Los Angeles and spends her free time reading, hiking, and exploring LA’s eclectic and wonderful architecture. For more information, visit aditikhorana.com.

Find Aditi

Website | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads


ABOUT THE BOOK

Mirror in the SkyBook Details:

Title: Mirror in the Sky
Author: Aditi Khorana
Publisher: Razorbill
Publication Date: June 21, 2016
Pages: 352
Format: Hardcover, eBooks

For Tara Krishnan, navigating Brierly, the academically rigorous prep school she attends on scholarship, feels overwhelming and impossible. Her junior year begins in the wake of a startling discovery: A message from an alternate Earth, light years away, is intercepted by NASA. This means that on another planet, there is another version of Tara, a Tara who could be living better, burning brighter, because of tiny differences in her choices.

As the world lights up with the knowledge of Terra Nova, the mirror planet, Tara’s life on Earth begins to change. At first, small shifts happen, like attention from Nick Osterman, the most popular guy at Brierly, and her mother playing hooky from work to watch the news all day. But eventually those small shifts swell, the discovery of Terra Nova like a black hole, bending all the light around it.

As a new era of scientific history dawns and Tara’s life at Brierly continues its orbit, only one thing is clear: Nothing on Earth–and for Tara–will ever be the same again.

Book Links:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | IndieBound | Goodreads

 

Giveaway:

What’s up for Grab?

  • ARC of Mirror in the Sky + sun and star temporary tattoos

Mirror In The Sky Giveaway Prizes

The Rules:

  • Open to US and Canada addresses 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 April 20, 2016
  • Prizes will be sent by the author

To enter fill out the rafflecopter form

Good Luck!!!

Treat yourself to a complete #CelebratingDebutantes2016 experience. Click the image below for the full list of schedule and links to each feature post!

celebrating debutantes 2016 collage