Celebrating Debutantes 2016: Second Wave Kick-Off!

Celebrating Debutantes 2016 Second Wave

Celebrating Debutantes 2016 is back!

Early this year Precious and I launched the first wave of Celebrating Debutantes  – a blog event that features debut authors and their novels. Today we are thrilled to open the second wave of #CelebratingDebutantes2016. This second part of the event will run from August 4, 2016 to September 30, 2016. Two months of book love, features, giveaways, and fun. Which means more authors to follow and books to discover. Maybe your next favorite novel is one of them or maybe more.

Below is the list of novels and authors we will feature in the coming days. So watch out and follow the event. Also, don’t forget to check the giveaway below for international & PH readers.

Celebrating Debutantes 2016 Second Wave participants:

Tokens and Omens by Jeri Baird
The Voyage to Magical North by Claire Fayers
Frayed by Kara Terzis
Lucky Few by Kathryn Ormsbee
The Last Cherry Blossom by Kathleen Burkinshaw
Life Before by Michele Bacon
In the Shadow of the Dragon King by J Keller Ford
100 Days of Cake by Shari Goldhagen
The Distance To Home by Jenn Bishop
Cherry by Lindsey Rosin
Never Ever by Sara Saedi
The Killer in Me by Margot Harrison
Genesis Girl by Jennifer Bardsley
Doreen by Ilana Manaster
How to Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather
Orangeboy by Patrice Lawrence
Learning to Swear in America by Katie Kennedy
Fear the Drowning Deep by Sarah Glenn Marsh
The Way to Game the Walk of Shame by Jenn P. Nguyen
The Fray Theory: Resonance by Nelou Keramati
The Crown’s Game by Everlyn Skye
The Weight of Zero by Karen Fortunati
Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco
The Art of Holding On and Letting Go by Kristin Bartley Lenz
The Adventurer’s Guide to Successful Escapes by Wade Albert White
Rani Patel in Full Effect by Sonia Patel
Lucky Strikes by Louis Bayard
The Cat King of Havana by Tom Crosshill
Ripple by Heather Smith Meloche
Kingdom of Ash and Briars by Hannah West
Resurrecting Sunshine by Lisa A. Koosis
Our Chemical Hearts by Krystal Sutherland
A Bond Of Venom and Magic by Karen Tomlinson
Girls in the Moon by Janet McNally
Iron Cast by Destiny Soria
A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jesicca Cluess
At First Blush by Beth Ellyn Summer
Bound by Blood and Sand by Becky Allen
Spin the Sky by Jill MacKenzie
Saving Hamlet by Molly Booth
Until I Break by Kara Bietz
If I Fix You by Abigail Johnson
Ever the Hunted by Erin Summerill

CD2016 Second Wave Collage


What’s up for Grabs?

  • A book of your choice from the list of Second Wave Celebrating Debutantes 2016 participants (International)
  • Surprise Prize Pack (PH Only)

The Rules:

  • Open Internationally to anywhere Amazon / Book Depository ships / PH Residents
  • For International prize will be ordered from Amazon or The Book Depository depending upon location
  • For PH giveaway, we will be sending the prize via local courier
  • There will be one (1) winner for International entries and another one (1) for PH entries
  • Winners will be chosen and announced by rafflecopter
  • Winners will be contacted thru email & should response within 48 hours
  • Ends on September 30, 2016

To enter fill out the rafflecopter form

Good Luck!!!

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

An Ember in the Ashes

“Fear is only your enemy if you allow it to be.”

Laia is a slave.

Elias is a soldier.

Neither is free.

Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.

It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.

But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.

There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.

Personal Thoughts:

When there’s an overwhelming amount of hype that surrounds a particular novel, I usually try my best not to pick up the book until my expectations lowered. So after months of ignoring the gorgeous copy from my shelf, I finally agreed to Precious to read An Ember in the Ashes together.

Being a fantasy novel, An Ember in the Ashes is a familiar ground to me. So familiar that sometimes it feels like I have read the same book before. The main characters, Elias and Laia are from different side of life. A mask and a scholar who are opposite in status but brought together by circumstances. The other came from the military, serving the government/emperor while the other once is from a group of rebels called the resistance. These two are our main narrator who delivered a flowing and gripping story in-spite of alternating points of view.

“Just because he’s a good leader doesn’t mean he’s a good person.”

Elias mother, The Commander is an interesting character but unfortunately wasn’t developed or explored much in this first installment. If only her motivations and reasons for being bad or not caring much about her son is explained or at least hinted more I might applaud the author for creating a menacing and well rounded villain.

Also, I still don’t understand how Elias’ mother become the Commander at the first place? For a world that is dominated by men, how come a woman like her managed to get the highest position in the military? And why she doesn’t have remorse for girls like to the slaves she has if ever she ever actually experience low treatment before? Isn’t it too convenient for the plot to have one girl once in a while to join the military just like having Helena as one of the top students, and Elias’ best friend who also like him more than a friend?

“There are two kinds of guilt. The kind that’s a burden and the kind that gives you purpose. Let your guilt be your fuel. Let it remind you of who you want to be.”

The romance just didn’t work for me. I think I would prefer this better without any romance at all. As much I want to get the “feel” factor, the romance in here are more irritating than anything else (well at least for me). It’s not even the pairing or choices that I have issues with. The romance frustrate me because it feels unnecessary for the plot. It feels so force. The pairing, whichever pair it is has no spark at all.

Same with the gore and actions. As much as I enjoying reading all those gory details, I don’t think it gives any push to the plot. Sure I like the idea of the trials where the best of the best are fighting each other for the position of the next ruler. But is it really necessary? Is brutality the only way to become a ruler? What about intelligence, compassion?

All in all, An Ember in the Ashes is a gripping read with all its gore and actions but unfortunately I think it didn’t live the hype that surrounds it. Though I enjoy the story as a whole the plot holes and not so original plot lines are impossible to ignore.

Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between by Jennifer E. Smith

Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between

“It’s true that the world is full of signs. They just mean different things to different people.”

On the night before they leave for college, Clare and Aidan only have one thing left to do: figure out whether they should stay together or break up. Over the course of twelve hours, they’ll retrace the steps of their relationship, trying to find something in their past that might help them decide what their future should be. The night will lead them to friends and family, familiar landmarks and unexpected places, hard truths and surprising revelations. But as the clock winds down and morning approaches, so does their inevitable goodbye. The question is, will it be goodbye for now or goodbye forever?

This new must-read novel from Jennifer E. Smith, author of The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, explores the difficult choices that must be made when life and love lead in different directions.

Personal Thoughts:

I love Jennifer E. Smith. I’ve met her before during her visit her in Manila and she is really a sweetheart. I adore her and enjoyed her previous works but unfortunately Hello, Goodbye and Everything in Between is a different story.

Unlike with her previous novels, Hello, Goodbye and Everything in Between is not about taking chances and serendipity. No more cute meet-ups or getting to know each other stage, instead we have two people trying to figure out where their relationship is going. The characters here are trying to deal with real and difficult relationship issues which really sound mature compare to Smith’s previous work but somehow didn’t work very well for me.

As much as I like stories that are set in short period of time like this one, the whole plot of overnight adventure and taking the path to the memory lane is not enough. This whole trip of Aidan and Clare is not also as fun as I thought it would be. Mainly because Aidan and Clare as a couple are not so much fun in this trip. They are both worried of what will they become after the twelve hours trip.

“Maybe the world isn’t full of signs so much as its full of people trying to use whatever evidence they can find to convince themselves of what they hope to be true.”

I did like Clare in the beginning of this novel simply because I see myself in her being logical and practical that she is. But somewhere along the way she started to sound pessimistic and afraid. She don’t want to take chances and take risk which for me is just plain cowardice. Just like the way she is dragging the breakup. I know twelve hours is a short time in reality but since this whole story of Aidan and Clare is basically set in those hours, it feels longer for readers which is in turn feels like a long wait for Aidan too. Clare is already decided before the twelve hours trip but she still drag the breakup.

I think this book will only work for two type of readers, those who can relate to the characters and their situation, and to those who don’t mind reading stories that nothing much happens. This whole story of Aidan and Clare overnight adventure is nothing but a short phase of two people in a relationship. Nonetheless, it’s a an enjoyable short read that is beautifully written.

The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski

The Winner's Crime

“…people aren’t gaming pieces. You can’t arrange them to suit yourself.”

Lady Kestrel’s engagement to Valoria’s crown prince calls for great celebration: balls and performances, fireworks and revelry. But to Kestrel it means a cage of her own making. Embedded in the imperial court as a spy, she lives and breathes deceit and cannot confide in the one person she really longs to trust …

While Arin fights to keep his country’s freedom from the hands of his enemy, he suspects that Kestrel knows more than she shows. As Kestrel comes closer to uncovering a shocking secret, it might not be a dagger in the dark that cuts him open, but the truth.

Lies will come undone, and Kestrel and Arin learn just how much their crimes will cost them in this second book in the breathtaking Winner’s trilogy.

Personal Thoughts:

The Winner’s Crime upped the game! As Arin and Kestrel world expands readers are now treat with a more thrilling and deadlier plot game. The rules are more complicated, the villain is more menacing, and the stakes are higher.

After making a deal with the emperor in the previous book The Winner’s Curse to save Arin and his people, Kestrel find herself trapped in a more dangerous game. Her engagement to the Valorian’s crown Prince is nothing but a task she needs to fulfill in order to continue save Arin. She needs to continue convincing the emperor, Arin, and everyone around her with all her lies. But how long can she pretend? What if her deceiving skill is not enough to protect the one she love or even herself?

Herrannis on the other hand are now free from being slaves and prisoners of their own land but for Arin that is not enough. The Valorians are still getting much of their resources. He needs to find a way to fully get out of Valorians grasp while trying to get Kestrel back. But what if Kestrel doesn’t want to go back? And can he find an allies against the Valorians to fully free Herran and at what cost?

Marie Rutkoski continue Arin and Kestrel’s story with full intensity. All the lies, betrayals, scheming and plotting both personal and political carry intricacy and weight of feels in them. Every moves and decisions are affecting not only the playing characters but also the readers.

In this complicated game of politics, love, lies and alliances Kestrel is trap with a frigthening opponent – the emperor. Equally cunning and smart, and probably more devious than Kestrel, the emperor like many good villain is utterly compelling. His addition to the story makes this second installment more thrilling and ultimately engaging. With him as an antagonist Kestrel need to be more careful in her moves. She can’t trust anyone, not when she knows that the emperor is capable of controlling the game and every players inside it.

Other than the game with the emperor, Kestrel also playing a dangerous game of lies with Arin. As she tried to help the Herranis by being their spy she is also building huge wall between her and Arin through her lies. And Arin as expected knows she is lying and will do anything to uncover all the lies which may negate Kestrel’s effort to protect him and his people. These two though clearly care for each other do things that may frustrate readers, but nevertheless a welcome frustration. All the misunderstanding and unsaid thoughts between Arin and Kestrel are carefully put to evoke feelings from the readers. The intricate dance that Arin and Kestrel is doing is not only emotionally taxing but also exhilarating. A roller coaster ride of emotions that I personally enjoy riding.

“Sometimes you think you want something,” Arin told him, “when in reality you need to let it go.”

With its rich characterization, stunning world building, clever plotting Marie Rutkoski’s successfully pushed The Winner’s series to higher level. She deliver another thrilling, emotionally taxing, and compelling story through Arin and Kestrel’s complicated and highly imaginative world.

The fact that I’ve done a reread few breath space after I’ve first finished this novel and another one before writing this review tells how good The Winner’s Crime is. I can’t get enough and obviously didn’t want to leave the world yet. If only I have the third/final book, I’m sure my life will be less miserable. Looking forward for more of Kestrel and Arin’s story and the dangerous game they are playing.

* This review is based on an eBook I received courtesy of the publisher, Bloomsbury Publishing Plc (UK & ANZ) via NetGalley.

The Sin Eater’s Daughter by Melinda Salisbury

The Sin Eater’s Daughter

“I am the perfect weapon, I can kill with a single touch.”

Seventeen-year-old Twylla lives in the castle. But although she’s engaged to the prince, Twylla isn’t exactly a member of the court.

She’s the executioner.

As the Goddess embodied, Twylla instantly kills anyone she touches. Each month she’s taken to the prison and forced to lay her hands on those accused of treason. No one will ever love a girl with murder in her veins. Even the prince, whose royal blood supposedly makes him immune to Twylla’s fatal touch, avoids her company.

But then a new guard arrives, a boy whose easy smile belies his deadly swordsmanship. And unlike the others, he’s able to look past Twylla’s executioner robes and see the girl, not the Goddess. Yet Twylla’s been promised to the prince, and knows what happens to people who cross the queen.

However, a treasonous secret is the least of Twylla’s problems. The queen has a plan to destroy her enemies, a plan that requires a stomach-churning, unthinkable sacrifice. Will Twylla do what it takes to protect her kingdom? Or will she abandon her duty in favor of a doomed love?

Personal Thoughts:

Melinda Salisbury story telling dazzles right at the first page. Her narrator, Twylla has an intriguing voice that is both sympathetic and interesting. As Twylla narrates her life inside the palace and as Daunen Embodied readers will surely feel her struggles. Her role as Goddess embodied certainly feels like a curse than a gift. She isn’t perfect, not even like-able. In fact she frustates me a lot of times. Sometimes I wonder how come she just do things without questioning them, but then I will remember that she has a poor background. People like her are brought up not to question things especially not the Queen. Her character development though a little slow is quite interesting.

“Choice. For years I’ve craved it, idealized it as a dream I can never have and, though it pains me to admit it, the queen is right. I have had choices, but because I didn’t like them I didn’t acknowledge them. I’ve been the agent of my own misery, time and again.”

As for the mens, well we have a soldier and a Prince as contenders for Twylla’s affection and loyalty. Sounds familiar? Yes, I’ve read that set-up countless times before, there’s Chaol and Dorian from Throne of Glass, Damian and Rylan from Defy, Aspen and Maxon from The Selection series, now we have Lief and Merek to add to the list. These two are easily like-able characters who both have their owns motivations/reasons in winning Twylla’s affection. Compare to Twylla, Lief and Merek are more developed characters.

The title kinda spoil some of the twist for me. While reading I keep on asking myself, why is the title The Sin Eater’s Daugther if the main character Twylla is more than just the sin eater’s daughter? Her role as the Goddess embodied or specifically Daunen Embodied is far much greater than being a daugther of a sin eater. As I notice that fact, my questions go deeper and eventually lead to my conclusion that maybe Twylla isn’t really a Goddess embodied. So obviously, with that thought I formulated lots of theories so the revelation in the end though satisfying isn’t really shocking to me.

What surprise me is how smart the villain is to orchestrate such a huge lie. The extent of her manipulation is so grand that I can’t believe she actually think all of it by herself and that she was able to pull it all off. She is not only cunning and manipulative but also villainy smart. A worthy villain to a high fantasy novel like this one.

“You think if having choices like people think of flying. They see a hawk soaring and hovering and they tell themselves how nice it would be to fly. But pigeons can fly, and sporrows, too. No one imagines being a sparrow, though. No one wants that.”

Full of intrigue, secrets, betrayals, Melinda Salisbury weaved a beautiful and intriguing fantasy novel in The Sin Eater’s Daughter. This is a wonderful start to a very promising YA fantasy series.

Vendetta Blog Tour: Character Interview with Luca + Book Review

Vendetta Blog Tour Banner

I’m crazy excited to start the PH promotional tour of the first book of Blood for Blood series Vendetta by Catherine Doyle. Not only because I’ll be able to tell to all of you how good this debut novel is but also because I had a pleasure of interviewing one of the five brooding characters inside it, Luca. If you haven’t read the book yet, and haven’t met Luca here’s your chance to have a piece of his thoughts. I guarantee you, he is the best of part of this new thrilling contemporary series from Catherine. Vendetta won’t be as fun and thrilling without him. Anyway, before I gush too much about Luca, here’s the interview, I hope you enjoy reading as much as I enjoy interviewing Luca.

Interview with Luca:

Q1. What does it mean to be part of a mafia for you? What do you think your life will be if you are not born in a family like yours?

Being part of the mafia means the same thing as being part of my family. The two are interconnected. I’ve never known anything different, so it just means getting up every day, living, breathing, doing what my father wanted me to do, what his father wanted him to do, and so on. It is what it is.

I don’t think it does much good to dwell on things than can never be, but sometimes when my mind is quiet, I do wonder about it. When I was a kid, before I understood the permanency of my life direction, I wanted to go to university, to study languages or history maybe. What kind of kid dreams about lectures and college assignments, right? I must have been the only boy who didn’t fantasize about shooting guns or driving fast cars, and yet that’s where I ended up. Life is funny sometimes.

Q2. If you were in charge for a day with your group, what is the first thing you would do as the boss?

The idea of being in charge doesn’t appeal to me. I suppose if I had to do it, I’d reign some of the older family members in, and give one person in particular a lesson in respecting the hierarchy of our family before his head gets so inflated it endangers us all. In a male-dominated order of assassins, egos can be more dangerous than guns. We can’t defend ourselves from the outside if there are cracks on the inside.

Q3. Can you give us a little peek of what’s a life with four brothers like? What’s it’s like to have a twin brother?

Having four brothers is a lot of work, especially with the ones I have, but there’s no greater feeling than being surrounded by your family. Being a twin has its ups and downs. On the one hand, Valentino and I share an unshakeable bond. We would do anything for each other. On the other hand, our roles within the family can be clouded by our closeness, and sometimes when our decisions clash it’s not a nice experience for anyone.

Q4. If you can have one more day with your Dad, what are the things you want to tell or ask him? What are the things that you’ll do together?

If I couldn’t stop him, you mean? If I couldn’t change the events of that night? I wouldn’t do anything special or extraordinary during our last day together. I wouldn’t waste our time. I’d sit with him, I’d talk to him, I’d laugh with him. I’d spend every last second of our time together listening to the sound of his voice, studying the lines on his face, remembering every facial expression, however small, so I’d never forget any part of him.

Q5. If you had to describe the day you first met Sophie in the diner using a song, what song will it be and why?

I’m not going to pick something soppy if that’s what you’re hoping for. That’s loverboy’s thing. I remember that night in the diner being incredibly annoying. We had just moved to Cedar Hill, and Nicoli and I had to go and case the place for Jack and his crew. Within five minutes, Nicoli was drooling all over Sophie instead of concentrating on what he was supposed to be doing. And she was encouraging it, blinking those big eyes too much and smiling crookedly at him. I honestly considered smashing my head off the table just to be free of the torture. It was like being sucked into the worst romantic comedy ever made. I know it wasn’t exactly her fault considering that big bubble of naivety she was living in at the time, but it was an incredibly frustrating evening for me. It’s hard to put a song to that level of exasperation. What about Secrets by One Republic? It’s about baring your secrets, which is ironic, considering we were all lying to each other that night. Or maybe Robbers by The 1975. That song comes to mind when I think about that night. I’m not even sure why. Maybe I just like the melody.

Q6. Finally, what’s new with you? What should we expect from you in the future books of Blood for Blood series?

What’s new with me? Oh, just this gaping gunshot wound. I can’t tell you what to expect from me, but I can tell you I’m going to be around, and I’m going to be my usual charming self.

Thank you so much Luca for answering all my questions and to author Catherine Doyle for allowing him. If only we can continue the Q&A more longer but I know you need to rest too, especially with your condition. Get well soon ok? I want to see you in action in the next book.

Isn’t Luca charismatic? And here’s more, a character profile of Luca made by the author, Catherine Doyle. Just for you to have a little more idea of Luca’s appearance and background. Also, check my review of Vendetta below for more idea of the book.


About Catherine Doyle:


Catherine Doyle lives in the west of Ireland. She holds a bachelor’s degrees in psychology and a master’s degree in English from the National University of Ireland, Galway. Vendetta is her first novel. Catherine lives in Galway, Ireland.

Find Catherine

Website  | Twitter | Tumblr | Goodreads

Blood Will Spill, Hearts Will Break: With a fierce rivalry raging between two warring families, falling in love is the deadliest thing Sophie could do. An epic debut set outside modern-day Chicago.



“There is beauty everywhere; even in the dark, there is light, and that is the rarest kind of all.”

Blood Will Spill, Hearts Will Break: With a fierce rivalry raging between two warring families, falling in love is the deadliest thing Sophie could do. An epic debut set outside modern-day Chicago.

For Sophie, it feels like another slow, hot summer in Cedar Hill, waitressing at her family’s diner and hanging out with her best friend Millie. But then someone moves into the long-abandoned mansion up the block–a family of five Italian brothers, each one hotter than the last. Unable to resist caramel-eyed Nicoli, Sophie finds herself falling for him — and willfully ignoring the warning signs. Why are Nic’s knuckles cut and bruised? Why does he carry an engraved switchblade? And why does his arrogant and infuriating older brother, Luca, refuse to let her see him? As the boys’ dark secrets begin to come to light, Sophie is confronted with stinging truths about her own family, too. Suddenly, she’s torn between two warring dynasties: the one she’s related to and the one she’s now in love with. She’ll have to choose between loyalty and passione. When she does, blood will spill, hearts will break. Because in this twisted underworld, dishonor can be the difference between life and death.

Personal Thoughts:

Since this post is quite pretty long than I intended to I won’t give you a run down anymore of what’s the story is about. Though the blurb doesn’t do much justice which basically tell a Romeo and Juliet type of romance, I still encourage you to read the book and find out on your own what’s the deal is about. Trust me, there’s more into Vendetta than just the romance. It is action packed and gritty to be just a romance novel.

For a newly debut author Catherine Doyle writing is pretty impressive. Vendetta is an easy flowing read. All the actions and tensions are well written. Catherine knows where to push her characters and throw some punch that will surely make the readers feel.

The romantic storyline is not overly used which I really appreciate. Because more than the tension between Nic and Sophie I’m honestly more invested to the family tension of the Falcone. It wasn’t deeply explore given that we have Sophie as the narrator, but that small peak inside the Falcone’s life is so much intriguing. I really hope that the next book will show more of that dark and grittier side of the Falcone family and the inner part of the mafia underground where they belong.

If it isn’t obvious yet from the character interview above, Luca is my guy here. But that doesn’t mean that I want him for Sophie. Nic can have Sophie, I’ll keep Luca for me instead. Seriously though, I don’t think Catherine need to use Luca as part of the romance. I’m happily contented with what she did in this first installment. So I hope she won’t make a love triangle by pushing Luca to go between Sophie and Nic. I believe Catherine can do better than that. There so much plot lines in the story she can develop without adding a romantic twist that is so predictable just to give readers more tension. I can give you a lot of ways what to do with Luca. The family issue alone is so much wider to explore, his role in his family and to the mafia group, add the whole dark underground world in the background for sure Luca can be a lot busier and useful than deal with teenagers angst.

Then we have Valentino. When Valentino showed up in the story, I was intrigue. All his talks with Sophie during their first meeting really catch my attention. It signals me that there’s so much about him that the narration isn’t telling, and that I need to watch the guy. As if he holds some secrets that will later reveal in the end. And true enough he is really a revelation. Something I didn’t see coming even I already anticipate his involvement in the matter. Catherine is quite sneaky in that one.

“This life is so complex that we rarely get to be the people we are truly meant to be. Instead, we wear masks and put up walls to keep from dealing with the fear of rejection, the feeling of regret, the very idea that someone may not love us for who we are deep in our core, that they might not understand the things that drive us.”

More than the romance and drama this book tells how hazy the lines between right and wrong is, so much that you can’t even decide who the villain in the story really is. Catherine Doyle successfully deliver an impressive debut novel in Vendetta. It is fast, entertaining, and thrilling read. Looking forward reading more about the world of mafia underground and the lovely characters inside it.

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