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Celebrating Debutantes 2017: Soulmated by Shaila Patel (Author Interview and Giveaway)

Welcome to another feature for Celebrating Debutantes 2017. Today I’m joined on the blog by new author Shaila Patel to answer few questions about her debut novel, Soulmated. This book introduce a diverse cast of characters and a refreshing plot about people called empath who can sense and manipulate emotions.

Following the interview with Shaila is her bio along with places where to find her online. Then there’s also the book description and where to buy copies of Soulmated.

Also, don’t forget to check the giveaway at the bottom and enter the rafflecopter form for a chance to win fabulous a copy of Soulmated from Shaila.

Here’s my interview with Shaila. Enjoy reading!

Interview with Shaila Patel

Where did the idea for Soulmated come from? What are some ways the story has changed since you first came up with it?

I’d been thinking of how emotionally perceptive my mom was one day and thought that if there were such a thing as an EQ test (where the E stood for emotional and/or empathic intelligence), my mom would score through the roof. She’s always had this uncanny ability to read my feelings—and as a teenager, it had been highly annoying!
Naturally, my writer-mind imagined what it would be like if empaths (people who read emotions) really existed and what that must be like for two young people falling in love.
When I’d first come up with the idea, my focus had been on Liam and his mom (both empaths), but when Laxshmi, his non-empath love interest, came into play, I realized that my focus had been slightly off. Dating at that age is hard enough because as teenagers, we’re just learning how to read and understand body language in that context. So imagine being an empath and knowing how your date is feeling, but not knowing why. It would be quite frustrating not to know why your date felt awkward, embarrassed, hurt, or whatever. You’d be second guessing everything while you tried to fix it—if you didn’t have the courage to just come right out and ask, that is. Realizing this, it changed a lot of how I dealt with my two main characters in their scenes together. I just couldn’t pass up the goldmine of tension this created and made quite a few revisions. The story really became about them after that.

I love books that promotes diversity, and Soulmated has cross-cultural one. Could you tell us more about the Indian and Irish culture in Soulmated? What prompt you to write characters with different backgrounds?

Writing characters with different backgrounds wasn’t really a conscious decision. I’m Indian-American, so writing my heroine, Laxshmi, who looked like me and dealt with some of the same issues I dealt with while growing up seemed like a no-brainer. I still wanted to challenge myself and offer something different to readers. Making Liam Irish gave me a chance to stretch my writing skills and create an unexpected character.
Being born and raised in America, my brain pretty much splits cultural differences between East and West, and that’s where I decided to draw the line between how I portrayed my cultural aspects of the story. So as an example, most of my friends and I weren’t allowed to date, but for most teens who are American or Irish, dating is a pretty common thing. It changes how you talk about the subject with your parents, how you view relationships between boys and girls, and even how you interact with the opposite sex. For Laxshmi, balancing between the two cultures is a constant juggling act. For Liam, those difficulties don’t exactly exist. Since Liam and his parents are only in America to search for his empath soul mate, I chose to play off the differences between them by contrasting “typical” Western culture against hers. Much of the portrayal of his Irish-empath culture will be in later books when they visit Ireland. I’d touched a bit upon the Whelan’s cultural history in Book 1 and hope to delve deeper in subsequent books.

What kind of research went into crafting the Soulmated world? Did your background in medicine helps in your writing?

The largest bulk of the research went into learning Irish-English—its syntax, grammar, and slang. I went to Ireland twice for research for the series and location-scouting for Book 3, and I hope to go again someday soon! I tried to make Liam’s voice as authentic as possible, and even with the help of an Irish editor, I suspect it might not be enough for some readers and too much for others. It was a risk I had to take to be true to the story.
For Soulmated, my medical background doesn’t really factor in, but I can say that Liam’s mum Moira, a psychologist, may have benefited from it. She approaches most things very scientifically, and you could say that my background in the sciences helped me with that. I’m excited because Moira plays a greater role in that regard in Book 2!

If you can sense and manipulate another person’s emotions like Liam. Who would you manipulate and why?

My day job is at a pediatric office. If there were a way I could manipulate a child’s emotions and make them not so miserable when they’re sick, I’d certainly try! And while I’m making a list, I’d love to manipulate those haters in any long line who refuse to wait patiently and then take it out on the poor employee who couldn’t do anything about it. (That irritates me to no end!) I’m sure my list could grow longer the more I think about it. Lol!

For readers who are on the fence about reading Soulmated, what can you tell them about it that might help them decide?

For starters, I’d be honored if someone were considering buying my book, and as a reader myself, I know that certain sub-genres are immediately attractive while others may not be. As a story, Soulmated has to be categorized in order to be sold, and sometimes those categories don’t quite fit the book. If someone needed specifics to help them make a decision, I’d say Soulmated was a character-driven young-adult romance with paranormal elements that include empaths and psychics. It’s a (planned) four book series that will delve deeper into the empath culture as that becomes a bigger part of the plot. The series will also take place in three different countries: the United States, Ireland, and India. Hope that helps!

You’re working on the second book, but what else do you see yourself working on? Do you think you’ll stick with urban fantasy or branch out into something else?

Yes, I am working on book 2, but I’m also working on a contemporary adult romance using my pharmacy background. In that series, I tackle prescription drug abuse, criminal distribution, corruption amongst prescribers, and unethical pharmaceutical industry behavior. I’m quite excited about it, and I see myself working on that alongside with the rest of the Soulmated series for the foreseeable future.
As for future YA projects, an idea for a science-fiction romance/thriller is marinating in my head at the moment. Who knows where my imagination will take that!

Thanks so much Shaila!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  As an unabashed lover of all things happily-ever-after, Shaila Patel’s younger self would finish reading her copy of Cinderella and fling it across the room because it didn’t mention what happened next. Now she writes from her home in the Carolinas and dreams up all sorts of stories with epilogues. A member of the Romance Writers of America, she’s a pharmacist by training, a medical office manager by day, and a writer by night. Soulmated is her debut novel and the winner of the 2015 Chanticleer Book Reviews Paranormal Awards for Young Adult. She loves books, craft beer, tea, and cozy window seats—but she’ll read anywhere. You might find her sneaking in a few paragraphs at a red light or online gushing about her favorite books.

Find Shaila

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | Goodreads


ABOUT THE BOOK

Book Details:

Title: Soulmated
Author: Shaila Patel
Publisher: Month 9 Books
Publication Date: January 24, 2017
Pages: 340
Format: Paperback, eBook

All eighteen-year-old Liam Whelan—an Irish royal empath—wants to do is stop the frustrating search for the elusive girl destined to be his soul mate. The rare union will cement his family’s standing in empath politics and give the couple legendary powers, painting a bullseye on Liam’s back—and hers.

All Indian-American Laxshmi Kapadia wants is to free herself from her traditional mother’s ultimatum: graduate from high school early and go to medical school, or have her marriage arranged. Neither allow her to pursue her dreams of a career in dancing or of falling in love.

When Liam moves in next door to Laxshmi—a non-empath, he’s immediately drawn to the purity of her emotions, and she sees in this charming Irish boy a future with the freedom to follow her heart. But Liam’s father will never consent if she’s not The One. And Laxshmi’s mom won’t even let her talk to their handsome new neighbor. But hiding their relationship can’t keep them from becoming targets of dark and ancient group determined to destroy the soulmated.

What will these two risk to choose their own fate?

Book Links

Amazon | B&N | BAM | BookDepo | IndieBound | GoodreadsGoogle Play | Kobo

Giveaway:

What’s up for Grab?

    • Copy of Soulmated by Shaila Patel

The Rules:

  • Open International where Book Depository ships
  • There will be one (1) winner
  • Winner will be chosen and announced through rafflecopter
  • Winner will be contacted thru email & should response within 48 hours
  • Ends July 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.

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Celebrating Debutantes 2017: The Takedown by Corrie Wang (Author Interview and Giveaway)

Happy Friday everyone!

Today I am interviewing new author Corrie Wang on the blog as part of Celebrating Debuntantes 2017 blog event. Corrie answers few questions about her debut novel, The Takedown, and about social medias and Internet.

Following the interview with Corrie is her author bio along with places where to find her online. Then there’s also the book description and where to buy copies of The Takedown. And for a chance to own a signed copy of the book and other fabulous swags, check the bottom of the post for the special giveaway and enter the rafflecopter form.

Here’s my interview with Corrie. Enjoy reading!

Interview with Corrie Wang

Congratulations on The Takedown! What has been the most surreal thing about seeing The Takedown as published story? What’s the best part and the oddest?

Thank you! Everything about seeing The Takedown published has been surreal!! But right at the top was the first time I signed copies for two younger readers. It was such a magical experience. Granted, I signed on the wrong page and wrote inappropriately long inscriptions, but we were giggling and high fiving and I could have lived in those five minutes forever.

And the best and oddest parts are one and the same.

When I lived in NYC and was a writer but not yet an author, I attended lots of YA panel discussions and book events. After the panels were over all the authors would go off into this little room and I wanted into that room SO bad. What were they talking about? What writerly gossip were they hearing that I couldn’t? Were there snacks?

The first time I stepped into the green room at YALL WEST this past April, it just felt so tingly and incredible and like holy cow, I made it here. And look! That’s an author I love… drinking coffee. I’m pretty sure I’ll never get used to it. That I’ll always be at author events or parties thinking A. This is so frickin’ cool. And B. Who let me in?

PS there are snacks. And they’re baller.

The Takedown deals with some sensitive themes such as slut shaming, and bad effect of Internet or social media. As a writer, do you feel a sense of responsibility in putting this into the story? If so, how do you deal with this?

I think slut shaming and dealing with unwanted male attention is such a common issue for teens, and women in general, that it should naturally be showing up in more stories. I didn’t go into The Takedown wanting to write an “issue book” – where characters encounter or deal with * blank * issue and then need to persevere. I just wanted to write a page turning thriller with realistic characters.

I used to manage this massive nightclub on the Lower East Side in NYC. One weekend we hosted an after-prom party, and monitoring it as a GM, YA author, and mama bear was life changing. I write upper YA so this was exactly my audience, and my first thought was that we as authors were getting it SO wrong. The level of sexual, tech, and logistical savviness emanating from those kids was light years more advanced than what YA fiction (at that time) gave them credit for. My second thought was that for a party without alcohol there was SO MUCH VOMIT.

I love that Kyle talks about diva cups, and not wanting to be married until she’s at least 38, and using home electrolysis to get the hair off her toes. The conversations I have with my girlfriends about sex/life/career are so different than most of what I see reflected in standard media that this is the responsibility I feel. I want to write us out of these boy-centric, we’re either cast as nerds or skanks, good girls or mean girls, pigeonholes that we’ve been crammed into.

The Takedown shows how Internet can easily ruin’s someone’s life. As an author, what is your stand on this?

Ahh the internet. I use it. I Google the crap out of everything. I also wish it didn’t exist so I could go back to not clutching and swiping at this device that rarely leaves my hand throughout the day. Do I see how it is wonderful and begets important social movements not to mention connects us with peeps round the world we might otherwise not know?

Absolutely.

Do I see how it equally makes us armchair activists who no longer see their friends in real life?

Same.

Do I think we can be crushed by one poorly worded or ignorant tweet?

One hundred percent.

Do I also think at some point someone will do a major hack and we’ll all be forced to survive without our timewasting crutches?

Any day now.

What were some of the pleasant surprises you experienced from using social media as an author?

Early on, unbeknownst to me, my editor gave Sara Shepard an ARC of the book and she tweeted at me that she was reading and loving it. It was totally out of the blue and launched a fantastic friendship. I still sometimes fangirl when we’re email back and forth thinking: I’m writing to m*therf*cking SARA SHEPARD!! (And now I’ve made that weird).

And honestly, even more than social media, EMAIL has been the biggest treat of my debut year. Before the book launched a few authors wrote to tell me how much they liked the novel and I’ve struck up some really wonderful friendships. Britta Lundin’s Ship It is coming out with Disney FreeForm in 2018 and she will be a FFFL (Fast Friend For Life, y’all). Follow this girl now, ’cause there will be a line around the block to connect with her once Ship It hits shelves.

And on a not name dropping note, I love, love, LOVE the bookstagram shots that readers have been posting. I own a food truck in Charleston, SC. A typical day involves sweating my butt off in a tiny trailer slinging rice bowls. But then ding! Someone in Pennsylvania tags me with a gorgeous shot of my novel. I adore it that my little book is having its own wild life while I’m, like, washing rice.

Do you have a favourite scene to write in The Takedown? What scene are you most proud of, and why?

I’ve read The Takedown countless times by now, and the final scene with Kyle and her mom still makes me tear up. I’m very close with my mama, so mother daughter relationships get me, period. But family is TRICKY. Kyle and her mom used to be very close, but as she’s grown up they’ve sorta stopped liking as much. So I loved writing that penultimate chapter where they let the years of grudges and slights slip away for a few minutes, and Kyle’s mama reaffirms that even though she might not always like Kyle, she loves her more than anything and always, always will. It was important to me that the book wrapped there for Kyle. Not with the boy. Not with the friends. But with her mom. Of all Kyle’s relationships, that’s the one that will develop and change, strengthen and become more complex, and also carry through for the rest of her life.

If one of your characters could turn the tables on you and write a story based on your teenage years, what would the title of that book be? What would be the first line?

Mac would probably write it, and the title would be Flakita en un gran mundo.

First sentence, Once there was, like, a girl who thought she could change the world by writing op eds to her local newspaper.

Or Sharma would write it and the title would be: Corrie

First sentence: Girl went to high school, #graduated, #thankgoodnessthatsover.

Where do you see your writing will go after The Takedown? Do you think you’ll stick writing for young adult or branch out into something else?

Oh I definitely have more YA stories to tell. I’m currently polishing up a draft that’s a little further forward in time than The Takedown and explores gender and relationships but with lots of bad assery. It’s gonna be the bomb! (FYI people don’t say that anymore, Corrie). But it will be. After that, I have a middle grade that I’ve been fast and furiously jotting down between revisions and drafts and early food truck mornings. I CANNOT WAIT for y’all to get your hands on it. It’s the most fun I’ve ever had writing. So yes, lots, lots more to come.

Thanks so much Corrie!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Corrie Wang is passionate about libraries, road trips, and eating all the food, everywhere. Corrie grew up in Buffalo but spent her formative years in Brooklyn, where one of her last paying gigs was managing a three-story nightclub on the Lower East Side. ​

She currently lives in Charleston, where she and her husband Shuai Wang own and operate Short Grain food truck— named one of Bon Appetit magazine’s Top 50 Best New Restaurants 2016 and a 2017 semi-finalist for a James Beard Award. The Takedown is Corrie’s debut novel.​

And fyi it’s pronounced Wong y’all.”

Find Corrie

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads


ABOUT THE BOOK

Book Details:

Title: The Takedown
Author: Corrie Wang
Publisher: Freeform
Publication Date: April 11, 2017
Pages: 384
Format: Hardcover

Kyla Cheng doesn’t expect you to like her. For the record, she doesn’t need you to. On track to be valedictorian, she’s president of her community club and a debate team champ, plus the yummy Mackenzie Rodriguez has firmly attached himself to her hip. She and her three high-powered best friends don’t just own their senior year at their exclusive Park Slope, Brooklyn high school, they practically define the hated species Popular. Kyla’s even managed to make it through high school completely unscathed.

Until someone takes issue with this arrangement.

A week before college applications are due, a video of Kyla “doing it” with her crush-worthy English teacher is uploaded to her school’s website. It instantly goes viral, but here’s the thing: it’s not Kyla in the video. With time running out, Kyla delves into a world of hackers, haters and creepy stalkers in an attempt to do the impossible—take something off the internet—all while dealing with the fallout from her own karmic footprint.

Book Links

Amazon | B&N | BAM | BookDepo | IndieBound | Goodreads | Publisher

Giveaway:

What’s up for Grab?

  • Copy of The Takedown by Corrie Wang
  • Temporary tattoos and
  • a few “fck them small betches” Takedown bracelets
     

The Rules:

  • Open US
  • There will be one (1) winner
  • Winner will be chosen and announced through rafflecopter
  • Winner will be contacted thru email & should response within 48 hours
  • Ends July 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.

1 Comment »

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

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

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

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

Enjoy reading the interview!

Character Interview with Karmina Joan of Karmic Hearts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Personal Thoughts:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ABOUT THE BOOK

Book Details:

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

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

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

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

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

Book Links: Goodreads | WattPad

Follow the rest of the tour!

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Celebrating Debutantes 2017: A Psalm for Lost Girls by Katie Bayerl (Playlist and Giveaway)

Happy Tuesday!

Today I am featuring a new set of Playlist of another debut novel for Celebrating Debutantes 2017.

New author Katie Bayerl put together a set of songs for her debut contemporary novel A Psalm for Lost Girls. She also explained each songs with how they are related to scenes from the book and how the songs put her in the mood into writing them into the story.

Next to the playlist are more details about the book A Psalm for Lost Girls and the author, Katie Bayerl. Also, don’t forget to check the giveaway at the bottom for a chance to win either a signed hardcover copy or audiobook of A Psalm for Lost Girls.

Here’s Katie with the playlist. I hope you enjoy!

A Psalm for Lost Girls Playlist

I listen to a lot of music when I write. Sometimes, I use music to get in the right headspace before writing a new scene. Sometimes, I listen to the same song on repeat for hours. I have a playlist for every project, and even subplaylists for certain characters or subplots. (It’s a little nuts.) Some songs I listen to so much that they seep into the sentences of the story.

This Spotify playlist includes the main songs I used to get in the groove for A Psalm for Lost Girls.

[Fun fact: A Psalm for Lost Girls was not the original title. As I hunted around for a title that would stick, I wanted to evoke a song or prayer because the whole book had taken on a musical quality in my mind and, at the same time, felt like a prayer Callie might send to her sister. A psalm is both of those things—a prayer, often sung—so hurrah! Title: nailed.]

Happy listening!

1. Chica Difîcil by Aterciopelados
“I am a difficult girl/but I’m worth the trouble.” The vocalist, Andrea Echeverri, is my favorite 90s rock en español vocalist. Sometimes she is raw and angry; this tune is more salty, earthy, real. Both sides of her voice remind me of Callie da Costa, Psalm’s protagonist.

2. Girl on Fire by Alicia Keys
Callie is stubborn. When she sets her mind to avenging her sister’s memory, she puts “both feet on the ground/… /and is not backing down.” Also, fire. I’m not going to give away spoilers, but those burning candles on the cover? Relevant.

3. O Gente de Minha Terra by Mariza
Fado is the traditional music of Portugal, and Mariza is its modern queen. Her songs express the not-quite-translatable feeling of saudade—something like bittersweet longing. This particular song swells up my heart like the fictional city of New Avon: “oh, people of my land/now I see/this sadness I carry/I received from you.”

4. Wonder by Natalie Merchant
You get it? “They say I must be one of the wonders/God’s own creation/And as far as they see they can offer/no explanation.” This is exactly what Tess da Costa feels once the word gets out that she hears a strange voice and her community decides it must be the voice of God.

5. Eres Tú by Carla Morrison
These lyrics get a little bit sexy—speaking to the romance that runs through Psalm—but also? if you pretend it’s about sisterly love, this could be Callie speaking to her dead sister, telling Tess how she carries her mind and in her veins, how wherever she goes, it’s you, always you.

6. 1977 by Ana Tijoux
Ignore the lyrics. This is the sound of Callie on a warpath, seeking justice for the abducted child, Ana Langone. The energy of this song also reminds me of Callie’s best friend Karen Pérez, my favorite character to write. Basically, it’s 100% kickass girl.

7. So Sorry by Feist
This song is a piercer, getting right to the core of regret. It’s Callie remembering her final days with Tess—so many things left unsaid and the last words she wishes she could erase.

8. Fado de Pessao by Ana Moura
In this one, there’s a boat, a voice, a figure of speech… and I don’t actually know what any of it means, but the emotion!!! This is the feeling of Callie walking the streets, dreaming of Tess. And when Ana Moura wears her hair curly, she’s the spitting image of Callie and Tess’s mom.

9. When You’re Gone by the Cranberries
I’m probably not supposed to admit that I still love the Cranberries—but I do, I do! Maybe it’s the Irish in me, but Dolores O’Riordan’s voice just… slays me. She does salty-sweet-longing-rage like no one else, and that is pretty much my favorite flavor.

10. Siempre Me Quedará by Bebe
I don’t know. I just like this one. It’s got a soulful vibe with a bit of flamenco/gitano/don’t-eff-with-me flare. If you strip away the romantic bits, it’s a song about heartbreak and saying I’m still here, I won’t forget and I won’t give up. Which, well, when you meet Callie and Tess, you’ll understand…

A cultural note: You’ll notice quickly that a lot of these songs are in Spanish and Portuguese. That’s because I listen to a ton of music in both languages. But, to be clear: This playlist isn’t a match to the many cultures represented (directly and more subtly) in A Psalm for Lost Girls. (If I made a list like that, you’d definitely see some Puerto Rican, Dominican, Cape Verdean, Italian, and Lebanese representation—and, God, I love the music from those cultures too!) The songs here are more of an emotional match—like, the themes and energy I was feeling as I got into my protagonists’ skin.

 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Katie fell in love with books before she can remember and with teaching when she was just a teen. The writing books for teens part came a bit later. She jumped right in and hasn’t looked back.

These days, when she isn’t penning her own stories, Katie coaches teens and nonprofits to tell theirs. She has an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts and has taught writing to teens in a range of settings, including at GrubStreet in Boston. A Psalm for Lost Girls is her first novel.

 

Find Katie

Website | Facebook | Twitter | InstagramGoodreads


ABOUT THE BOOK

Book Details:

Title: A Psalm for Lost Girls
Author: Katie Bayerl
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: March 14, 2017
Pages: 368
Format: Hardcover, eBook, Audio

I’ll Give You the Sun meets True Detective in this brilliant YA debut about saints, sisters, and learning to let go.

Tess da Costa is a saint—a hand-to-god, miracle-producing saint. At least that’s what the people in her hometown of New Avon, Massachusetts, seem to believe. And when Tess suddenly and tragically passes away, her small city begins feverishly petitioning the Pope to make Tess’s sainthood official. Tess’s mother is ecstatic over the fervor, while her sister Callie, the one who knew Tess best, is disgusted—overcome with the feeling that her sister is being stolen from her all over again.
 

The fervor for Tess’s sainthood only grows when Ana Langone, a local girl who’s been missing for six months, is found alive at the foot of one of Tess’s shrines. It’s the final straw for Callie. With the help of Tess’s secret boyfriend Danny, Callie’s determined to prove that Tess was something far more important than a saint; she was her sister, her best friend and a girl in love with a boy. But Callie’s investigation uncovers much more than she bargained for—a hidden diary, old family secrets, and even the disturbing truth behind Ana’s kidnapping. Told in alternating perspectives, A Psalm for Lost Girls is at once funny, creepy and soulful—an impressive debut from a rising literary star.

Book Links:

Amazon | B&N | BAM | BookDepo | Goodreads | IndieBound

Giveaway:

What’s up for Grab?

  • either a signed hardcover copy or audiobook of A Psalm for Lost Girls

The Rules:

  • Open 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 July 4th, 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.

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Bad Romance by Heather Demetrios

“Do you ever feel so trapped you can hardly breathe?”

Grace wants out. Out of her house, where her stepfather wields fear like a weapon and her mother makes her scrub imaginary dirt off the floors. Out of her California town, too small to contain her big city dreams. Out of her life, and into the role of Parisian artist, New York director—anything but scared and alone.

Enter Gavin: charming, talented, adored. Controlling. Dangerous. When Grace and Gavin fall in love, Grace is sure it’s too good to be true. She has no idea their relationship will become a prison she’s unable to escape.

Deeply affecting and unflinchingly honest, this is a story about spiraling into darkness—and emerging into the light again.

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

Personal Thoughts:

Bad Romance is a dark, unflinching, raw and realistic story about abusive relationship and the effects it leaves to the people involve.

Grace a junior high school is living a crazy life with her OCD Mom and maybe equally crazy and strict step father. Life at home for her is pretty hard. So when rock star senior, charming, talented Gavin Davis enter her life with his shining armor, she cannot help but fall in love hard and fast. Soon she found herself in a toxic relationship with a controlling and dangerous Gavin.

“You’re a maze, all high hedges and endless loops. I can’t find a way out, can’t see where I’ve been. It’s all running, lost in the dark of you. Trapped. Everywhere I turn is dead end. I keep winding up back where I’ve started.”

The story is pretty straight forward, no puzzle to solve or ending to anticipate. This is not that kind of story, instead of the ending this is all about the journey — a tough and dark journey for the characters and for readers.

Bad Romance is written in first-person narrative but instead of directing to readers the main character Grace is addressing the story to another character, her boyfriend then Gavin. It’s like a letter or diary, where Grace is explaining to Gavin through the readers how their story end the way it ended. Right from the start readers will know that Grace and Gavin’s relationship not ended well. So basically no surprises in that. We all know they don’t have a happily ever after. The only thing to discover is why and how they reached that end? And that discovery will trigger a lot of emotions to readers. Grace narration will hit the core, even if you are not in a situation like her. Reading her story feels like reading a diary of a friend, sometimes you feel helpless wanting to do something for her but can’t. That even everything happened in the past and that you can only wish that you were there for her, you still hope there is something you can do for Grace. Or wish that you was there if only to smack Grace on the head, to make her realize and see things.

Unlike with some books that I have read, Bad Romance does not romanticize abusive relationship and for that I applaud the author Heather Demetrios. This is a tough read for me, not because I can relate but because the characters feels like fully realized people and the situations are realistically painful and intense. Not only you will wish there is something you can do for Grace but also you will want to really put an end to her suffering, to finally get herself out in a cage she’s in.

Demetrios tackles heavy issues of abuse, suicide, poverty, self-doubt, and mental health, which all in all could have made this an “issue” book, but instead become a unravelling story of someone’s finding courage – courage to let go, to fight for freedom, and most importantly to love her own self. Grace and Gavin’s story let readers see and experience the brutal and dark but sensitive, honest, and realistic story of a toxic and unhealthy relationship without being in one. I really hope no one will find themselves in a situation like Grace, or if you are one, I hope this book make you realize that you have the power and the choice, even if you are feeling trapped and caged. Life is what you make it.

_

* This review is based on an advance reader’s copy I received courtesy of the publisher Henry Holt and Company, an imprint of MacMillan International in exchange of honest opinion about the book.

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Celebrating Debutantes 2017: Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index by Julie Israel (Playlist and Giveaway)

Hey everyone! A blessed Sunday to all!

Today for Celebrating Debutantes 2017, I am featuring new author Julie Israel and her debut contemporary novel, Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index.

Julie was so nice as to put together a playlist to help us get in the right mood for this new contemporary novel Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index. She explains each songs below with specific scenes that occur in the book. It is like a soundtrack for the novel. I actually just started reading the book, and I can easily picture some of the songs in the background. I’m only few chapters in but I can already say that this is a fun read. I’ll let you know my whole thoughts once I’m done reading.

In the meantime, listen to the playlist below and experience the feel of the story through each songs.

Following the playlist are some information about the author, Julie Israel along with places where to find her online, as well as the book‘s description and where to get copies of Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index. So don’t forget to grab your copies.

Also, there’s a giveaway at the bottom of the post for a chance to win a copy of Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index and signed bookmarks from the author.

Here’s Julie with Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index Playlist. Happy listening!

Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index Playlist

“The Winner Is” by DeVotchKa

Opening scene. Juniper is numb, forever changed, but life marches on with a new school year.

“Hang Me Up To Dry” by Cold War Kids
There is a particularly destructive scene after school early on and I wanted a song that sounded like losing control/breaking things—“the muck and the mire” is just right, because Juniper is up to her elbows in wet clay!

“Without You” by Oh Wonder
At Pippa’s, a local café, Juniper remembers something she and Camilla left on the bulletin board and finds it buried under layers of fliers. It’s a fond memory, but Juniper hates the hole it makes when she takes it, so she leaves a Dala horse (which reminds her of her sister) in its place.

“Bicycle Race” by Queen
When Juniper confesses that she doesn’t remember the whole night of the accident, Brand fills her in on what happened at the party they both attended beforehand, and where the two had an epic musical battle to this Queen hit.

“Ways To Go” by Grouplove
Is setting up squads a thing? Juniper and Kody wander through a da Vinci exhibit, Juniper ebulliently trying out every contraption and marveling at each piece as she secretly stalls and looks around for a classmate—a loner she hopes to pull into their friendship fold.

“Secrets” by One Republic
This may or may not be a kissing song (it may). In the minutes leading up to midnight on New Years Eve, Brand and Juniper are talking. Things get real and vulnerable between them just before the (actual and figurative) fireworks. :39 seconds, baby.

“Knee Socks” by Arctic Monkeys
Brand kidnaps Juniper (i.e., shows up at her house unannounced and introduces himself to her parents) for a date, and then on said date, where his band is opening for an event, attempts to seduce her with music – a song much like this one. It works.

“400 Lux” by Lorde
Brand + Juniper have become BRUNIPER and have a happy, if thus far private, relationship. When he visits her up in the art loft, Juniper invites Brand to be her public +1 for a scavenger hunt that weekend.

“You Could Be Happy” by Snow Patrol
Kody tries to cheer Juniper up and encourages her to reach out to Brand after a fight with him.

“No. 1 Party Anthem” by Arctic Monkeys
Brand and the rest of Muffin Wars are playing a slow song like this when Juniper slips quietly in to the school dance to finally talk to him.

“Love Illumination” by Franz Ferdinand
I always imagined the Muffin Wars rendition of Sponge’s poem, “Crush,” to be upbeat and sexy like this. When they play it at the Shaker, it’s Brand’s revenge for a misunderstanding and ruins Juniper – but damn if it isn’t catchy until it all goes sideways.

“The Funeral” by Band of Horses
Lost and alone, Juniper visits her sister’s grave.

“So Here We Are” by Bloc Party
Juniper and Brand make up. Brand inadvertently gives Juniper the solution she needs to deliver the letter to You, and we transition to J rallying the troops to work on it. As the song fades out, Kody arrives for a heart to heart after their falling out at the Shaker.

“Float On” by Modest Mouse
After executing her special project, Juniper appears to be in serious trouble with the school principal – but Juni’s mom, having just read 65, laugh-cries off Juniper’s offense and throws her arms around her daughter’s neck. Juniper laugh-cries and hugs back.

“The Universe Expanded” by Franz Ferdinand
This song has been the outro/roll credits in my mind since the first time I heard it (really heard it) after finishing the book. The sorrow-touched sweetness is just right for the final scene in Juniper at the beach, and way the lyrics line up to it is UNCANNY. If you only listen one song from the playlist, let it be this!

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Julie Israel lives in Portland, Oregon and holds a B.A. in Creative Writing. After a stint teaching English in Japan, she returned to her native state to write fiction full-time. When not writing, she is likely reading, making art, or learning one of too many languages to keep straight. Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index is her first novel.

Find Julie

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Tumblr | Goodreads


ABOUT THE BOOK

Book Details:

Title: Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index
Author: Julie Israel
Publisher: Kathy Dawson Books
Publication Date: May 30, 2017
Pages: 352
Format: Hardcover, Paperback, eBook, Audio

It’s been sixty-five days since the accident that killed Juniper’s sister, and ripped Juniper’s world apart.

Then she finds the love letter: written by Camilla on the day of the accident, addressed mysteriously to “You,” but never sent. Desperate to learn You’s identity and deliver the message, Juniper starts to investigate.

Until she loses something. A card from her Happiness Index: a ritual started by sunny Camie for logging positives each day. It’s what’s been holding Juniper together since her death – but a lost card only widens the hole she left behind. And this particular card contains Juniper’s own dark secret: a memory she can’t let anyone else find out.

The search for You and her card take Juniper to even less expected places, and as she connects with those whose secrets she upturns in the effort, she may just find the means to make peace with her own.

This is a smart, funny, poignant book guaranteed to make you laugh and cry – and maybe even take notes.

Book Links:

Amazon | B&N | BookDepo | Goodreads | IndieBound | Publisher

Giveaway:

What’s up for Grab?

  • Either US or UK Edition of Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index by Julie Israel
  • Signed Juniper Postcards

The Rules:

  • Open to International where Book Depository ships
  • 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 July 2nd, 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.

 

11 Comments »