Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Celebrating Debutantes 2017: Flight Risk by Jennifer Fenn (Playlist + Giveaway)

Hi guys! Are you interested in reading a story about antiheroes, stealing planes and flying? Then this debut is for you. It is reviewed and described as unique, original and surprisingly unexpected.

Today, we are featuring your next best read: Flight Risk by Jennifer Fenn! Jennifer will be talking about her playlist and how each note is related to her writing and the story. Stick around for a special giveaway at the end! ;) Jennifer will take it from here.

I always listen to music while I write. I usually create soundtracks to match my ideas very early in the writing process, to capture a particular mood or voice. For “Flight Risk,” I listened to these songs and many more to create Robert Jackson Kelly’s world as he surfs, steals and runs from the law.

“Immortal” Kid Cudi
The lyrics of this song could have been pulled straight from my protagonist Robert Jackson Kelly’s thoughts. I listened to it constantly while writing “Flight Risk.” The humming at the beginning even reminds me of the sound of a plane taking off.
“I’m living my life as if I’ve got powers/And tonight I feel immortal.”

“King of the Beach” Waaves
In the story’s first half, Robert receives a used surfboard for his birthday and starts spending his days at the beach, practicing his surf technique. He’s determined to learn how to catch a wave and the beach provides an escape from his less-than-ideal home life. This song perfectly captures the mood of those scenes!
“Never gonna stop me/You’re never gonna stop me/King of the beach!”

“Mama Told Me Not to Come” Three Dog Night
Yannatok’s Sheriff Holt is a classic-rock fan. I imagine this song playing in his cruiser as he drives around the island hunting for Robert. The lyrics also allude to Robert’s complicated relationship with his mother.
“Mama told me not to come/She said, that ain’t the way to have fun, son!”

“Frontier Psychiatrist” Avalanches
I played this song often when I wrote the scenes I consider Robert’s ‘origin story,’ or the events that led up to him actually stealing a plane and becoming a notorious outlaw or hero, depending on your point of view.
“That boy needs therapy!”

“The Trees” Richard Cheese
Here’s a fun cover of a song originally performed by Rush. My brother discovered this song and included it on one of several “Flight Risk” mixes he made for me. Many scenes in “Flight Risk” depict “unrest in the forest”: plane crashes, bears, police chases . . . .

“There is unrest in the forest!”

“Everybody Get Dangerous!” Weezer
I love this song’s fun mood. Robert’s plane thefts are definitely dangerous, but he’s also having the adventure of his life when he takes to the sky.

“Everybody get dangerous!”

“Who Wrote Holden Caulfield?” Green Day
These lyrics seemed to describe Robert’s school situation and struggle with ADHD perfectly.
“There’s a body who fogs his world and now he’s getting lazy/There’s no motivation and frustration makes him crazy/He makes a plan to stand but always ends up sitting/Someone help him up or he’s gonna end up quitting.”

“Bad Moon Rising” Lagwagon
This song is actually featured in the book; Robert’s father is singing it when the reader first encounters him. Robert Senior is in and out of his son’s life, and a secret from his past is revealed in the second half of “Flight Risk.” I like the sense of foreboding in this song’s lyrics, and this sped-up cover version is a fun update on a classic song.
“Don’t go out tonight/It’s bound to take your life/There’s a bad moon on the rise”

“I Believe I Can Fly” Me First and the Gimmee Gimmees

Of course, R Kelly wasn’t singing about actual flight in the original version of this song, but I can’t help but think that the lyrics mirror Robert’s obsession with planes.

“I believe I can fly/I believe I can touch the sky/I think about it every night and day’Spread my wings and fly away”

“Police on My Back” The Clash
Once Robert steals his first plane, he’s on the run, trying to escape Sheriff Holt, the media, and everyone else’s expectations of him.
“Well, I'm running/Police on my back/I've been hiding/Police on my back”

“Lollipop” Ben Kweller
The candy found at the scene of Robert’s first plane crash lead the media to portray him as a criminal mastermind intentionally taunting the police. He’s even nicknamed “The Lollipop Kid.”
“Lollipop, lollipop/Oh, lolly lollipop!”

“My Old Man Had a Pistol” The New Amsterdams
This song’s lyrics seem to be about trying to escape a troubled family history, which is one of the issues at the heart of “Flight Risk.”
“I pray take me far away/From everything that I am”

Thank you, Jennifer, for sharing your playlist!

About the Author:

Young adult author Jennifer Fenn has been filling notebooks since she was in elementary school. She’s never without a book! Fenn is terrified of corn fields but has jumped out of a plane, eats her cereal without milk, and has run a marathon.

She is a graduate of Lycoming College and Rosemont College’s MFA program. Jennifer lives with her husband, daughter and Scottish terrier in Downingtown, PA.

Find Jennifer: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

Book Description:

Hardcover, 256 pages
Expected publication: July 18th 2017 by Roaring Brook Press

A debut novel inspired by true events, about a teenage boy who has stolen―and crashed―not one, but three airplanes. And each time he’s walked away unscathed.

Who is Robert Jackson Kelly? Is he a juvenile delinquent? A criminal mastermind? A folk hero? One thing is clear: Robert always defies what people think of him. And now, the kid who failed at school, relationships, and almost everything in life, is determined to successfully steal and land a plane.

Told as an investigation into Robert’s psyche, the narrative includes multiple points of view as well as documentary elements like emails, official records, and interviews with people who knew Robert. Ultimately, Flight Risk is a thrilling story about one teenager who is determined to find a moment of transcendence after everyone else has written him off as lost.

"Teens will love the documentary-style narrative and will root for underdog antihero Robert." --Donald Peebles, School Library Journal

"Fenn's ambitious debut novel is part oral history, part tall tale, and part suspense story . . . Inspired by real events (the life of Colton Harris-Moore, aka the Barefoot Bandit), Fenn has penned an original, thrilling tale with wide appeal, including for older reluctant readers."

-- Caitlin Kling, Booklist


Thanks to Jennifer for sponsoring this giveaway!
What's up for grabs: ARC of Flight Risk
Scope: US/CA
*If you have a mailing address in US/CA, you may also join

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Sunday, June 18, 2017

Celebrating Debutantes 2017: The Gravedigger's Son by Patrick Moody

Hi guys! I hope you're enjoying Father's Day so far - to the ones with countries celebrating it this Sunday, at least. So when I first started blogging, my genre was paranormal. I read everything paranormal - vampires, werewolves, ghosts, etc. Currently, I am swimming in a fantasy ocean. It is refreshing to encounter an MG paranormal book that is rooted in the traditional act of burying the dead and creating this story.

Before we start with that, I'd like to remind you that we have several giveaways on going both in Fragments of Life and in Blackplume. Please click the event button on the right sidebar and you'll be directed to the list of features and giveaways!

Today, Patrick is going to show you his playlist for The Gravedigger's Son and briefly explain each song and how it is related to the book. Hope you enjoy the music! I like Deep in the Woods!

The Bats-"Boogeyman": This song is basically the theme to the entire story. Playful, poppy, and insightful, with just a hint of spookiness. The boogeyman is coming for you...or is it all in your head?

Calamine-"Horse and Carriage": Perfectly sums up the relationship between Ian, the MC, and Fiona, his best friend. They understand one another's personal struggles, and both try to push the other to achieve their dreams.

Mac Demarco-"Blue Boy": While Calamine's "Horse and Carriage" is an uplifting, hopeful song, Demarco's "Blue Boy" is a more accurate portrayal of Ian's personality. Unsure of himself and more than a little blue. But what eleven year old Gravedigger in training isn't?

Men at Work-"Overkill": "Ghosts appear and fade away." I feel like Men at Work captured a very specific emotion, here: the anxiety we all feel fretting about the future, while constantly replaying events from our past. It's a strange middle ground that stops us from enjoying the present. For Ian, this is all too common...constantly worrying about his path in life, trying to break ancient tradition and carve out his own future. Every choice is difficult. The weight of our own history can be a crippling thing.

My Morning Jacket-"Only Memories Remain": This haunting, melancholy tune about love and loss is a perfect fit for Ian's father, Isaac. The current Gravedigger of House Fossor is trapped in the past, forever brooding and mourning the loss of his wife, taken too soon by an evil magic.

Tennis-"Deep in the Woods": Something is lurking in the woods bordering the cemetery. Ian reluctantly enters. What will he and Fiona find? Rumor has it, a coven of dark-magic witches live somewhere in the depths of the forest, waiting for someone to enter...

Thank you, Patrick!

About the Author:

Patrick Moody is a middle school custodian who draws inspiration from the spooky night-time halls. He lives in Connecticut. The Gravedigger's Son is his first novel.

Find Patrick: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

Book Description:

Hardcover, 304 pages
Expected publication: August 1st 2017 by Sky Pony Press

“A Digger must not refuse a request from the Dead." —Rule Five of the Gravedigger’s Code

Ian Fossor is last in a long line of Gravediggers. It’s his family’s job to bury the dead and then, when Called by the dearly departed, to help settle the worries that linger beyond the grave so spirits can find peace in the Beyond.

But Ian doesn’t want to help the dead—he wants to be a Healer and help the living. Such a wish is, of course, selfish and impossible. Fossors are Gravediggers. So he reluctantly continues his training under the careful watch of his undead mentor, hoping every day that he’s never Called and carefully avoiding the path that leads into the forbidden woods bordering the cemetery.

Just as Ian’s friend, Fiona, convinces him to talk to his father, they’re lured into the woods by a risen corpse that doesn’t want to play by the rules. There, the two are captured by a coven of Weavers, dark magic witches who want only two thing—to escape the murky woods where they’ve been banished, and to raise the dead and shift the balance of power back to themselves.

Only Ian can stop them. With a little help from his friends. And his long-dead ancestors.

Equal parts spooky and melancholy, funny and heartfelt, The Gravedigger’s Son is a gorgeous debut that will long sit beside Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book and Jonathan Auxier's The Night Gardener.


Thanks to Patrick for sponsoring this giveaway!
What's up for grabs: Signed ARC of The Gravedigger's Son
Scope: International

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Thursday, June 15, 2017

Playlist: Karmic Hearts by Jhing Bautista

Hi guys! Today I'm featuring a playlist for Karmic Hearts! Bautista chose the songs well and handpicked some of my favorite songs, such as Down from the Vampire Diaries OST.

Maricar from Blackplume described Karmic Hearts as " 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."

Here is a quote from the book that I like: “If everything is unfair in this world, then doesn’t that make it fair?”

I think that it makes perfect sense. :) Are you ready to experience Karmic Hearts?

Matchmaker by AJ Rafael

Heaven Can Wait by We The Kings

Down by Jason Walker

Her Love Is My Religion by The Cab

Ever Enough by A Rocket To The Moon

Stupid Love Letter by The Friday Night Boys

I Should Go by Levi Kreis

Beautiful Excuses by Rixton

Scars by James Bay

Book Description:

Paperback, 241 pages
Published 2017 by Summit Books, Pop Fiction

Love. Magic. Fate. Best-selling romance novel author Karmina Joan writes about these things. 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 the angel of love will find oddly familiar. This may become the one flaw in an otherwise perfect plan that destiny had 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 answers before time runs out on true love.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Celebrating Debutantes 2017: Whenever I'm With You by Lydia Sharp

Hi guys! Today, we're featuring a YA romance novel on #CelebratingDebutantes2017. Whenever I'm With You is written by Lydia Sharp, who also happens to be an editor at Entangled Pub! The book is set in Alaska, so readers looking for a little bit of nature in their books would enjoy this. Aside from the fun interview, Lydia is also presenting an exclusive deleted scene from Whenever I'm With You that has never been shared before in other platforms! I hope you guys enjoy this. :)

What or who inspired you to write Whenever I'm with You?

The story of Chris McCandless was a huge inspiration for this story. If you haven’t read Into the Wild by John Krakaur yet, I highly recommend it. I’ve been fascinated with Chris’s story since I first heard of it—what made him do what he did? Then I took that question and asked it of a fictional character who does something similar, takes a journey into dangerous territory on his own without telling anyone. Kai’s story and Chris’s story are NOT the same, but Chris was a big inspiration for the story idea that led to this book, and you’ll find a lot of nods to him throughout.

What was the hardest scene or part to write?

The ending chapters, hands down. Not the very last chapter, which wraps everything up, but the cluster of chapters right before it that make up the finale and climax. From first draft to finished book, I rewrote the finale at least three times. And I mean *complete* rewrites—totally different things happened in each version. I also went back and forth a few times on whether the twins would find their dad alive or dead at the end of the journey. My editor and I discussed that particular point at length before we agreed on what would work best.

I can’t go into more detail without giving away spoilers for those who haven’t read it yet, but I can say the original finale included a scene where Hunter and Gabi jump out of a helicopter in flight. I really liked that part, so I found a way to have Gabi and Kai do something similar in the final version. You’ll have to read the book to see what it is. :)

Was it easy or difficult to distinguish Kai from Hunter and vice versa? While you were writing how did you choose which twin would be the one to disappear and stay with Gabi?

The decision was made in the idea stage of the book, before the story was written. I developed the twins’ personalities *after* I knew which would leave and which would accompany Gabi on her journey to find the other.

Knowing that ahead of time helped me figure out who they were as individuals. Since Kai is the one who takes off on his own, I thought about what kind of person would do what he did, and went from there. He is energetic and impulsive, goal-driven, likes a challenge, doesn’t always make the right decision but has good intentions. He also prefers to solve things on his own, without help. And when I thought about how Hunter might react to his disappearance, I realized he was much more levelheaded than Kai. He thinks long and hard before making a decision, weighs all the options, does what’s best for everyone, not just himself. He also has a very protective spirit and often takes on the role of caregiver.

So their personalities complement each other but also cause friction between them sometimes because they have differing views. Once I figured that out, it was easy to keep them as separate people in my head. They aren’t physically identical, either, so that helped, too.

Could you share your favorite line from the book? How did you come up with this line?

My favorite line was actually *so much* my favorite—and my editor’s—that we put it at the beginning of the book, on its own page, before the story starts.

“Wherever you go, let your heart lead your feet.”

I honestly don’t remember how I came up with that! But it’s been a life motto for me ever since. :)

Did you draw from personal experiences while writing this story?

Yes, several. :) But I’ll just mention a couple. I sometimes work as an extra in movies, which Gabi also did when she lived in SoCal. There is a part in the book where she relays one of her experiences on set with her mom, and much of what she says was drawn from what I learned as an extra. Working in movies can be fun, but I don’t think most people realize that when you’re not playing a big role, the majority of your day is spent just waiting around to be called in for a scene. Always bring a book!

Another thing I drew from personal experience was Gabi’s position as a child of divorced parents. The views she has mirror how I felt when my parents divorced, and I didn’t want to hold back from showing the ugly side of that situation. Her dad falls into a terrible depression. Gabi and her mother are not on speaking terms. And Gabi doesn’t always think rationally when the topic comes up, because she’s still too emotional about what happened. If your parents were married your whole life, coming to terms with their divorce when you’re a teen is extremely difficult. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, but for those who have gone through it or who are going through it now, I wanted them to know they aren’t alone and what they feel is perfectly valid—even the dark stuff.

Could you share with us a deleted scene from Whenever I'm with You?
Sure! I’ve never shared this one anywhere yet, so you’re getting an exclusive. :)

After dinner, I go to bed early. In my state of half-asleep, half-awake, I hear Kai talking to Vicki in the other room. Hunter’s voice never joins them, and I can’t understand what they’re saying. The world fades in and out a few times, then I hear Kai tending the fire in our room, and he tosses another blanket over me. Over us. He huddles up in bed next to me. The tip of his nose touches my cheek, and he whispers, “If you can hear me, Gabi, I love you.”

He loves me. He’s never said that before. Does he expect me to say it back? I feel more strongly for him than anyone else I’ve been with. I’m incredibly concerned for his welfare. I care for him, a lot. But is that love? I’m not sure. The lengths we’ve gone to for each other on this trip might qualify as some kind of love, but I don’t think that’s what he meant. I think he meant love love. The biggest kind. The kind of expression that shouldn’t be met with silence, and like a dummy that’s all I’m giving him.

Unfazed by my lack of response, he fingers my hair, brushes a thumb over my cheek. He kisses me lightly on the lips and curls an arm around me, pulling me close. “We’ll be all right now. All of us. Everything’s going to be okay.”

“Promise?” I whisper.

“That and more,” he says. “I’d promise you the sun, moon, and stars if I could, make them shine just for you.”

“I don’t want all that, Kai. I just want you.” Even so, I still can’t get myself to say those three little words that flowed so easily from his lips a moment ago. He doesn’t seem to care, though, as he uses those same lips to show me how much he meant every syllable, over and over and over again.

—end of excerpt—

Thank you so much for having me here!

Thank you, Lydia!

About the Author:

Lydia Sharp worked a number of different jobs, everything from retail management to veterinary medicine, before turning their passion for stories into a career. They are now an editor for Entangled Publishing and write young adult novels with lots of kissing and adventures. Lydia lives in Ohio with their husband, son, and an ever-growing collection of owls. When not completely immersed in a book, Lydia binges on Netflix, pines for Fall, and hosts mad tea parties in Wonderland. Follow on Twitter @lydia_sharp for writing updates and other shenanigans. Life is an adventure—turn the page.

Find Lydia: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

Book Description:

Hardcover, 304 pages
January 3, 2017, Scholastic Press

A missing boy.

A road trip into the Alaskan wilderness.

A week that will change everything…

After Gabi’s parents’ divorce, she moves to Alaska with her dad. At first, it feels like banishment—until she meets Kai. He welcomes her into his life, sharing his family, his friends, and his warmth. Until suddenly, Kai pulls away for seemingly no reason at all. He’s quiet, withdrawn. Then one day, he disappears.

Kai’s twin, Hunter, believes Kai’s retracing their missing father’s steps in the wilderness north of Anchorage. When they learn there’s a blizzard on the way, Gabi’s hurt at Kai’s coldness swiftly turns to serious concern. He’s alone out there. This is the boy who saved her from the dark. She can’t lose him to it.

So Gabi convinces Hunter to join her on a wild journey north—a trip that will challenge them physically and emotionally, as they try to convince the boy they love to return home.


Thanks to Lydia for sponsoring this giveaway!

What's up for grabs:

For US residents: A signed hardcover of Whenever I'm With You
For International readers: A hardcover of Whenever I'm With You shipped from the Book Depository

Scope: International

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Get your daily dose of YA and MG debut goodness in #CelebratingDebutantes2017
Click the button above to be redirected to the main page where you can browse the list of novels and authors that we are featuring.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Review: Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

Book Description:

Hardcover, 400 pages
Published May 30, 2017, HarperCollins

Eighteen-year-old Eliza Mirk is the anonymous creator of Monstrous Sea, a wildly popular webcomic, but when a new boy at school tempts her to live a life offline, everything she’s worked for begins to crumble.

Scott Westerfeld’s Afterworlds meets Nimona in this novel about art, fandom, and finding the courage to be yourself. Features illustrations by the author throughout. Perfect for readers of Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl, this is the second novel by the acclaimed author of Made You Up.

In the real world, Eliza Mirk is shy, weird, smart, and friendless. Online, Eliza is LadyConstellation, the anonymous creator of a popular webcomic called Monstrous Sea. With millions of followers and fans throughout the world, Eliza’s persona is popular. Eliza can’t imagine enjoying the real world as much as she loves her digital community. Then Wallace Warland transfers to her school, and Eliza begins to wonder if a life offline might be worthwhile. But when Eliza’s secret is accidentally shared with the world, everything she’s built—her story, her relationship with Wallace, and even her sanity—begins to fall apart. With pages from Eliza’s webcomic, as well as screenshots from Eliza’s online forums, this uniquely formatted book will appeal to fans of Noelle Stevenson’s Nimona and Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl.

Reviewer's Copy: ARC

Source: Harper Collins(Thank you!)

My Thoughts:

First of all, I would like to highlight that Zappia is an amazing writer. Her lines pull readers into the story, wrapping around their hearts and tugging them completely into the pages. Her talent for writing and drawing merges together to form a masterpiece. In Eliza and Her Monsters, readers are served with two parallel stories: Eliza's life in the real world and her webcomic, Monstrous Sea. The reading experience was reminiscent of that of Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, but only with more interactive, more insistent and more intense because of the graphics and discussion of quotes, backstory and character arcs.

Eliza was an introvert and a lover of art and its creative manifestations - drawing, writing, creating stories. She was two people at the same time: Eliza Mirk, the invisible girl no one talked to, and LadyConstellation, the mother of a fandom and the creator of the popular webcomic Monstrous Sea. Eliza was brilliant in ways that other people weren't. However she didn't excel in social skills, and preferred to connect to the outside world online through her computer and her phone. She was invisible at her school, on the outskirts of the social hierarchy of high school. She spent her days mostly alone and mostly tuning out the outside world. All of her energy went to her masterpiece, Monstrous Sea. Her art was her life. As the story progressed, I saw how she interacted with her fandom and how her schedule was in sync with her online activities: the preparation for the weekly upload of webcomic pages, the actual uploading of the pages and the Dog Days showing on Fridays and the commentaries of LadyConstellation. She was her true self in a sense when she was online. She could shed her insecurities to be who she really wanted to be.

Monstrous Sea captured all of my attention upon first mention. I lived for the drawings spread throughout the novel. The story of Monstrous Sea was so strong and well made that it practically jumped off the pages. Amity, Damien and Dallas were such interesting characters and I wanted to know them better. Sometimes, I wanted to know them more than I wanted to know Eliza and Wallace. The story had a beautiful setting and the magic that was distinctly of Monstrous Sea. I would love for Zappia to publish her work, Monstrous Sea, so people could read the full, glorious story.

Wallace was harder to understand for me. His not talking aloud in public was harder to understand for me. Although I understood the reason behind it, it seemed too drastic for me. Nevertheless, I adored his character. He was a mix of both worlds and plausibly an ideal book boyfriend, except for the part when he would scribble on paper or text to you instead of answering you orally in public. He had some great lines in the novel, reflecting his personality and the way he saw the world. He also had a great appreciation for written and illustrated work, which was amazing. He had some darkness inside him and secrets lurking beneath the surface. I struggled to fully understand him towards the latter part of the book. I felt like I needed more of his backstory to be able to capture and digest his mindset, his opinion and his feelings.

The relationship of Eliza and Wallace was not instantaneous. They were two comets circling a planet, aware of each other's presence but not really engaging. Until they both opened up and realized how similar they were. In Eliza's case, she realized how committed Wallace was to her work, Monstrous Sea. It was the first time that she met a fan in real life and was a bit puzzled on how to relate to him. Eliza and Wallace meeting was the equivalent of you meeting someone with the same interests as you. When they discovered that they both liked Monstrous Sea, their worlds collided. They became inseparable. But how inseparable could two people be when there was a wall of secrets between them? Their relationship was mostly sweet and smile-inducing.

Family dynamics was also tackled in the novel. It was great to see how Wallace and Eliza's families interacted with them. Sully and Church, Eliza's brothers, were the ones who drew my attention the most. As an only child, I never had siblings and never experienced the ups and downs of having a brother. It was refreshing to see how Eliza's brother understood her beyond her expectation. They understood her art and its importance and impact in her life.

Eliza and Her Monsters was engrossing, vivid and ripe with imagination, creative possibilities and love. The novel had me hooked from page one, holding onto my heart with two hands - one from each story: Eliza's story and Monstrous Sea. Even though, I encountered a bump in the road while reading this book, I didn't let that stop me from loving the story. Eliza and Her Monsters was a unique read that I will treasure. I highly recommend this to readers who enjoy dual stories, readers looking for art-related books, and readers of contemporary and fantasy. If you liked Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, particularly its format, then you might enjoy this as well.


5 Cupids = Eternal book love.
I will never, ever, ever forget this book. I highly recommend this!


Win one of two ARCs of Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia!
Open to PH residents (sorry, international friends!)

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Sunday, June 11, 2017

Celebrating Debutantes 2017: Post-High School Reality Quest by Meg Eden

Hi guys! I'm featuring the first playlist on Fragments of Life for #CelebratingDebutantes2017. Post High School Reality Quest is one of a kind. It is one of the most original debuts for 2017, based on what I've heard and read so far. So it's an honor to present this unique book to you guys, today. Stick around for a special giveaway at the end.

Meg is going to explain to us how the songs in her playlist is related to Post-High School Reality Quest. I hope you guys enjoy the music! Meg, you can take it from here. :)

Avicii vs Nicky Romero - I Could Be The One – When I first heard this song, I totally thought about Buffy’s crush on Tristan—it totally captures her thoughts for him, and even sounds like her voice!

Cazzette: Eject – I always listened to this album while writing and editing, so it’s forever linked to PHSRQ to me. Every time I hear the song “On the Road” now my body’s conditioned for writing and for Buffy’s surreal text adventure college world.

Italobrothers - Love is on fire (Rob & Chris Radio Edit) - This is another song that I feel like perfectly captures Buffy’s crush on Tristan. I listened to this song a lot early on to start imagining what Buffy would look like and how to develop her.

Italobrothers - Summer Air (Original Mix) - There’s definitely a nostalgic air to this song, and the lyrics: “Why don’t we just go back” makes me think of Buffy going back in time to old save slots, and when she’s in her relationship with Tristan.

Lady GaGa - Alejandro (Bimbo Jones Club Mix) - The energy in this song definitely helped me in writing tense scenes, so I listen to this and think about the emotional conflict between Buffy and Merrill, Merrill and Tristan, and Tristan and Buffy.

Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 'Thunderstruck' [Windmill Hut] by Big Giant Circles – If PHSRQ was condensed into an AMV, this is probably the song that would be playing the background.

Tetris (GB) 'Thirty-Plus Mix' [B-Type] by R3FORGED – The fast pace of this song gets me thinking about Buffy’s state of mind and anxiety.

Final Fantasy X 'Endless Skies' [Auron's Theme] by PrototypeRaptor – This song makes me think of “What ifs,” of which there are a lot in PHSRQ. I mainly think about what Buffy and Merrill might have had if things had been different—an idea that never really interested me until the last couple drafts of the novel.

Star Fox 'Barrel Roll' [BGM (CORNERIA)] by PrototypeRaptor – When I was sick with strep/writing a lot of PHSRQ, I played a bit of StarFox 64 on an emulator on my computer. I added this detail in for Buffy as well. When I listen to this, I like to imagine Buffy in her dorm room, flying the Arwing between classes.

Dj CUTMAN - Powerglove ft. Ben Briggs (Shane Mesa Remix) – For some reason, I totally think of Sephora whenever I play this song. But I see her very clearly every time I listen to this.

Power-Pill - Pacman (Power-Pill Mix) - I'd listen to this song to think about/develop the group of friends and invoke that basement man cave gaming den feeling. Every time I listen to this, I feel that nostalgic thrill of playing Pacman on an arcade cabinet.

Thank you, Meg!

About the Author:

Meg Eden's work has been published in various magazines, including Rattle, Drunken Boat, Poet Lore, and Gargoyle. She teaches at the University of Maryland. She has four poetry chapbooks, and her novel "Post-High School Reality Quest" is forthcoming from California Coldblood, an imprint of Rare Bird Lit.

Find Meg: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

Book Description:

320 pages
Published by California Coldblood

Buffy is playing a game. However, the game is her life, and there are no instructions or cheat codes on how to win.

After graduating high school, a voice called “the text parser” emerges in Buffy’s head, narrating her life as a classic text adventure game. Buffy figures this is just a manifestation of her shy, awkward, nerdy nature—until the voice doesn’t go away, and instead begins to dominate her thoughts, telling her how to live her life. Though Buffy tries to beat the game, crash it, and even restart it, it becomes clear that this game is not something she can simply “shut off” or beat without the text parser’s help.

While the text parser tries to give Buffy advice on how “to win the game,” Buffy decides to pursue her own game-plan: start over, make new friends, and win her long-time crush Tristan’s heart. But even when Buffy gets the guy of her dreams, the game doesn’t stop. In fact, it gets worse than she could’ve ever imagined: her crumbling group of friends fall apart, her roommate turns against her, and Buffy finds herself trying to survive in a game built off her greatest nightmares.


Thanks to Meg for sponsoring this giveaway!
What's up for grabs: Ebook of Post-High School Reality Quest by Meg Eden and Post-High School Reality Quest narwhal tote
Scope: International

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Sunday, June 04, 2017

Celebrating Debutantes 2017: Sand Runner by Vera Brook (Author Interview + Giveaway)

Hi guys! For our third feature, we have Sand Runner by Vera Brook. If you are a fan of Maze Runner and Hunger Games, you would enjoy Sand Runner. I know that a lot of you guys are looking for an adrenaline-charged tale that is seeped in danger at every turn. This might be your next read. Today, I'm interviewing neuroscientist turned writer, Vera. :)

How does your being a neuroscientist contribute to your writing?

I love that question! I think my neuroscience training influences my writing in a lot of ways. I write science fiction, so there is usually some science and technology as the background for the story.

In SAND RUNNER, one such technology is bionic prosthetics, or the new generation of prosthetic limbs that are directly linked to and controlled by the person’s nervous system. Such prosthetic limbs already exist and people use them every day, and they will get better and better, and make a huge difference to thousands of people. But it’s amazing to think about how much knowledge about the human nervous system went into designing such prostheses. So both the science and the applications are fascinating and a great source of story ideas.

But there is more. There are similarities between science and writing. In both cases, you start with curiosity, you start with a question. Maybe it was something you noticed, something that stuck with you, and you want to know more, you want to figure it out. So you investigate. In science, we design experiments and then collect and analyze the data and that’s how we get our answer. In writing, we create characters and outline stories, and then the process of writing is the process of discovery. In science, the results can often surprise you. But you have to listen to your data. And when you’re writing, you have to listen to your characters and try to be true to them, so the final story is almost never what you set out to write.

One last similarity is the importance of resilience. In science and in writing, there are times when things don’t work out. Your experiment fails and you have to repeat it, your story goes nowhere and you move on to something else. But you can’t quit, you can’t get discouraged. You pick yourself up and try again. So if any of you are thinking of a science career, I’d say: Go for it! Even if you don’t work in your field, you’ll have a ton of skills that will help you in whatever career you choose.

Okay. This was a very long answer. But it was a great question!

What or who inspired you to change your career and start writing?

I never really switched. I do both: I have my “day job” and I have my writing. One thing about science training is that you can apply these skills in a lot of different fields, so I am still exploring. I enjoyed doing research in a laboratory, but I think I like working with data in higher education even more. And maybe one day I can be a full-time author, and only read about neuroscience research and big data for fun and for inspiration. Everything is possible.

In terms of inspiration, there was one book that really blew me away and made me want to write professionally. And that was THE HUNGER GAMES by Suzanne Collins. I know it’s not very original of me to cite that book as my main inspiration. But it was. I love and admire everything about it: the concept, the characters, the world-building, the impossible moral choices that Katniss and the other characters have to make, and, of course, the writing. I have two copies of the whole series and go back to them often.

I've noticed a trend in YA dystopian novels, in which survival games are the platform of the stories. What is your take on this? What makes it interesting to write about?

That’s a really interesting thought, and I think there is something special about survival games serving as a kind of scaffolding for dystopian novels. First of all, such games already come with high stakes, often literally life-and-death. High stakes produce drama, and drama is what moves the story forward. Survival games also work really well if you want to challenge your characters and force them to make difficult choices, so we can find out who they really are and what they are made of. It’s like a trial by fire. All lies and pretenses fall away. So I absolutely agree that, as a structure in a dystopian novel, a survival game can be very powerful.

Your question also made me think about THE LORD OF THE FLIES by William Golding. If you haven’t read it yet, I highly recommend it. It’s about a group of boys who get stranded on an island after a plane crash, and in their struggle for survival, they basically recreate a society and all its conflicts, with tragic consequences. It’s a great book, mostly because it’s brutally honest. It forces us to think carefully about what choices we would make if put in the same place. The writing is also amazing. I am not usually a fan of long descriptions, but in that book, they make you feel like you’re actually there, on the island, running through the burning jungle. Another great book that I keep returning to again and again!

Could you share with us a quote from Sand Runner that is close to your heart?

Here is an excerpt from early in the novel. Without giving too much away, it’s the scene where Emily recruits Kai for the Race.

The girl’s—Emily’s—gaze was so direct, so intense, that Kai found it difficult to focus. Who did she say she worked for? And then the name caught up with him, and a jolt went through him.
Was she kidding? Of course he’d heard of them. Everyone on the planet had heard of them. They were one of the highest profile athletic management firms in the world. Another jolt, as the meaning of this exchange hit him.
“You recruit runners for the No Limits Race.”
Sounds of excitement from his friends cut through Kai’s tunnel-like concentration—shuffling feet, slapped thighs, a sharp whistle.
A hint of a smile crossed Emily’s face. “That’s right. But we do more than recruit them. We manage their training and their… careers.” Was there a hesitation there? Kai couldn’t be sure. He was suddenly fascinated with every nuance of her expression and tone of voice. “Think about it this way—we find the best runners, and we make them even better. We make them into legends.”
“I’m in.”

What is the hardest part/scene to write in Sand Runner?

All of it! I went through several drafts, and worked with a professional editor to polish the final version. I wanted the story to move quickly, and to keep that momentum all the way until the climax at the end. So it was challenging to balance that fast pace with slower, more emotional scenes where we get to know and care about the characters. The training sessions and the actual Race sequences were also a challenge because I didn’t want to repeat any ideas.

For all the budding writers out there, I can also share a strategy that saves me each time: I write out of order. I jump all over the place. If I get stuck in one part of the story, I move to another and add to that. I also add layers. Details, foreshadowing, cause-and-effect links. They only come to me after I’ve been working on the story for a while.

But the writing out of order really helps. In fact, when I start a new book, I just take copious notes, until I have a complete draft that spans from the beginning to the end of the story. I call it draft 0 and no one ever sees it but me. But it makes it possible for me to finish a draft and then go back and revise it.

What is next for Vera Brook?

I am writing book 2 and outlining the final book 3 in the SAND RUNNER series. I am also working on two other YA dystopian series, and on a middle-grade series in the vein of magical realism. And I keep notes with ideas for projects after that. I can come up with a lot of idea. The challenge is to stick to a project and finish it.

Also, now that I network with readers and writers a lot, my to-read pile is just exploding. I was a reader before I was a writer, and that’s something I will always struggle with: having to choose between reading and writing each day when I love both. There are just so many good books to read, and never enough time. But I’m not complaining. I love books. That’s why I’m a writer.

Thank you, Vera!

About the Author:

Vera Brook is a neuroscientist turned fiction writer.

She writes fantasy and science fiction. Or speculative fiction, as it’s sometimes called. In other words, the type of stories where she can change something about the world and get away with it.

After studying several fields – including literature, philosophy, genetics, and neuroscience – She has decided that SHE IS INTERESTED IN EVERYTHING.

Which sounds great. But it’s actually a bit of a problem if you’re trying to be a serious, focused, responsible adult with serious, focused responsibilities.

She is with it, though. In fact, her list of interests keeps growing. (Physics. Cover design. 3D printing. GOOD BOOKS OLD AND NEW!)

Find Vera Brook: Website | GoodreadsTwitter | Instagram

Book Description:

Paperback, 316 pages
Published June 2nd 2017 by Createspace Independent Publishing Platform

Welcome to the No Limits Race.

In the near future, 16-year-old Kaiden Reed makes a bold and dangerous decision to enter the most brutal sports competition on the planet. One in which he will undergo a radical upgrade and become a new kind of athlete and a new kind of hero.

Part human. Part machine.

All Kai wants is a shot at a better life and to impress the girl of his dreams. But the stakes in the Race are higher, and the choices tougher, than Kai ever imagined. The physical challenges are just the beginning.

Ten days. Ten contenders. One winner.

Does Kai have what it takes to compete? How far will he go to win? And should he trust the person who recruited him in the first place - or is she using him to carry out a bold and dangerous agenda of her own?

Sand Runner is available on Apple iTunes, Amazon, Kobo and Barnes & Noble. It is available in Paperback and ebook.


Thanks to Vera for sponsoring this giveaway!
What's up for grabs: Paperback Copy of Sand Runner
Scope: US and Canada

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Get your daily dose of YA and MG debut goodness in #CelebratingDebutantes2017
Click the button above to be redirected to the main page where you can browse the list of novels and authors that we are featuring.