Sunday, May 22, 2016

Book Signing with Jennifer Niven - May 29!

Hi fellow bookworms! I wanted to remind you that we have another author visiting the Philippines this weekend. Jennifer Niven is heading out to Cebu and Manila. :) See you there.

When: May 29, 2016 at 2 p.m. 
Where: Second Level Mega Atrium, SM Megamall
Registration starts at 10 a.m

Book Description via Goodreads:

Hardcover, 400 pages
Published January 6th 2015 by Knopf

Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him.

Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death.

When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it’s unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the “natural wonders” of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself—a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who’s not such a freak after all. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink.

This is an intense, gripping novel perfect for fans of Jay Asher, Rainbow Rowell, John Green, Gayle Forman, and Jenny Downham from a talented new voice in YA, Jennifer Niven.

Hardcover, 400 pages
Expected publication: October 4th 2016 by Knopf Books for Young Readers

From the author of the New York Times bestseller All the Bright Places comes a heart-wrenching story about what it means to see someone—and love someone—for who they truly are.

Everyone thinks they know Libby Strout, the girl once dubbed “America’s Fattest Teen.” But no one’s taken the time to look past her weight to get to know who she really is. Following her mom’s death, she’s been picking up the pieces in the privacy of her home, dealing with her heartbroken father and her own grief. Now, Libby’s ready: for high school, for new friends, for love, and for EVERY POSSIBILITY LIFE HAS TO OFFER. In that moment, I know the part I want to play here at MVB High. I want to be the girl who can do anything.

Everyone thinks they know Jack Masselin, too. Yes, he’s got swagger, but he’s also mastered the impossible art of giving people what they want, of fitting in. What no one knows is that Jack has a newly acquired secret: he can’t recognize faces. Even his own brothers are strangers to him. He’s the guy who can re-engineer and rebuild anything in new and bad-ass ways, but he can’t understand what’s going on with the inner workings of his brain. So he tells himself to play it cool: Be charming. Be hilarious. Don’t get too close to anyone.

Until he meets Libby. When the two get tangled up in a cruel high school game—which lands them in group counseling and community service—Libby and Jack are both pissed, and then surprised. Because the more time they spend together, the less alone they feel. . . . Because sometimes when you meet someone, it changes the world, theirs and yours.

Jennifer Niven delivers another poignant, exhilarating love story about finding that person who sees you for who you are—and seeing them right back.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Review: Queen of Hearts by Colleen Oakes

Book Description:

Hardcover, 320 pages
Expected publication: May 3rd 2016 by HarperTeen

As Princess of Wonderland Palace and the future Queen of Hearts, Dinah’s days are an endless monotony of tea, tarts, and a stream of vicious humiliations at the hands of her father, the King of Hearts. The only highlight of her days is visiting Wardley, her childhood best friend, the future Knave of Hearts — and the love of her life.

When an enchanting stranger arrives at the Palace, Dinah watches as everything she’s ever wanted threatens to crumble. As her coronation date approaches, a series of suspicious and bloody events suggests that something sinister stirs in the whimsical halls of Wonderland. It’s up to Dinah to unravel the mysteries that lurk both inside and under the Palace before she loses her own head to a clever and faceless foe.

Part epic fantasy, part twisted fairy tale, this dazzling saga will have readers shivering as Dinahs furious nature sweeps Wonderland up in the maelstrom of her wrath.

Familiar characters such as Cheshire, the White Rabbit, and the Mad Hatter make their appearance, enchanting readers with this new, dark take on Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

Reviewer's Copy: ARC

Source: Harper Collins(Thank you!)

My Thoughts:

I am a lover of retellings. I delight every copy of retellings that I could get my hands on. Sometimes retellings are awkward affairs but sometimes, they are amazing masterpieces. Queen of Hearts was one of the latter. Colleen Oakes reimagined Alice in Wonderland and capitalized on its vivid color, whimsy and madness. First of all, the story world was the perfect platform for the story, featuring eerie and alarmingly terrifying trees, a sea of flowers that changes color with the breath of wind and pink snow. Second of all, the characters were greatly reimagined, retaining the core of their characteristics but bearing new personalities. The vibe of Alice in Wonderland was present in Queen of Hearts: Alice in Wonderland has always made me feel like I was stuck in a foreign planet and something bad and interesting was about to happen; this was palpable in the novel. Having said all that, I was quite happy with how Oakes envisioned and made this retelling.

Dinah was a stronger and weaker "Alice" at the same time. She was solid, plowing through everything that life threw at her. She was dark like her mother and fierce like her father. Her looks made her seem exotic and I liked that about her. Based on what I read in the book, she didn't have the natural charisma that usually went with the royal bloodline. She went to her lessons, the functions and avoided her almost-always-fuming father who didn't give her the love and attention that she craved. Dinah simply hoped to go with the flow and wait for the moment when she would be queen and to have her longtime friend, Wardley, as her husband. I found myself hurting for her. It was hard to read about her horrible relationship with her father, the King of Hearts. It was not just and it made me think of how blessed I was to have parents who cared. Although the uncaring parent was a typical element in most fantasy stories, the blow was still effective.

Dinah dipped her toes into politics and social posturing. Since she was a child, she has been exposed to the King's temper and distance. Dinah knew where she stood, what she could possibly do and the little strings she could pull to make things happen. I liked scheming girls and that was exactly what Dinah was. The only fault that she had was that although she planned and schemed, she didn't have the sharpness of mind that was needed with plotting. She lacked in foresight and finesse. This led to particularly difficult times for her.

Wardley was the handsome and loyal best friend. He was a protege of some sort, being trained by the Knave of Hearts to be the next Knave aka Commander/General. I adored how genuine he seemed. Around Dinah, he seemed to have his guard down, never hesitating to be familiar with her and to show her his true self: how his stomach was a bottomless pit and how he always seemed to find something to laugh about to make matters light. I saw him as the guy who shed light and wisdom on Dinah's mind. He gave the practical side, the complete truth, to Dinah's opinion and thoughts.

The core characters of Alice in Wonderland manifested themselves in the book, donning new personalities. The Mad Hatter was Dinah's younger brother. He was born mentally impaired and had a passion for fashion. He made exquisite hats that was all the rage. The White Rabbit was Dinah's tutor and father figure, sweet, kind and always mindful of the time. Cheshire took a turn for the worse, transforming into a cunning and dangerous man. He was the adviser to the King of Hearts. I found him to be the hardest to dissect and understand. Just like all Cheshire-type characters, he was potentially good and bad, depending on his motive and the situation. I am looking forward to his appearance in the sequel. There were also new characters such as the King of Hearts and Vittoire, the illegitimate stepsister. Both were of note and fascinating. Though I would have liked more time with them and more exposure and interaction between the members of the royal family, in order to further observe and understand the family dynamics and personalities.

Queen of Hearts was a promising retelling that delivers Alice in Wonderland coated in a unique flavor. The downsides of the book for me were the following: (1) The book was too short. I think the explanation and detail that I was waiting for would have been given if the book was extended more; (2) Plot and connection. I was looking for more action/events towards the end. I felt like the strings, that would eventually be tied together in the form of an open revelation/direct confrontation, were left dangling. Though do not let these stop you from trying the book itself. It might just be me. There is still a sequel, so I am hoping to see these things revealed there. The ups were interesting characters, beautifully built story world, the fluid storytelling and the exotic vibe of the book itself. I recommend this to fantasy readers and readers who like retellings.


3.5 Cupids = True book love.
Slightly flawed but I liked it!

Sunday, April 03, 2016

Celebrating Debutantes 2016: Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum (Author Interview)

Hi everyone! It's April now, which means that Celebrating Debutantes 2016 is now over. I want to take this opportunity to thank all the authors, publicists and publishing houses for helping us with the event. Without their help, Cai and I would never be able to pull this off. Although the event itself is over, there are various giveaways that are still on-going. Click the image below for the full schedule and links to the posts!

But before you go, I want to tell you something:
1. This is just the first wave of Celebrating Debutantes 2016. In this wave, we featured January to June authors. There will be a second wave sometime around August or September. So watch out for that. ;)
2. I'm interviewing our final author for this event - Julie Buxbaum. Apologies Julie, for the late posting, I was so tired yesterday that I couldn't even get on the laptop. YA Contemporary readers, this one is for you!

Jessie and SN met online via email, for an author like you what do you think is the advantage & disadvantage of internet?
Honestly, for me as a writer, it’s a huge disadvantage but not for plot reasons. I find it to be a constant distraction! I’m totally addicted to that immediate gratification of clicking, and can often waste hours in an Internet K-hole. I’ve been using Freedom--which is an app that turns off the Internet for a set period of time, to keep me focused--but even then, I find ways to sneak a peak at Twitter on my phone. Of course, it’s super handy for research.

How's the transition from being a lawyer to a writer?
It seems weird looking back now, but I made the transition from being a lawyer to being a writer as part of a New Year’s Resolution. I always knew I wanted to write a book, and so about nine years ago, on January 1st, I quit my job and sat down to write my first novel which ultimately became The Opposite of Love. The stars ended up aligning for me, and the career jump was incredibly smooth. I can’t imagine going back now.

Does your experience as a lawyer aid you in your writing, in any way? How?
I think being trained as a lawyer has made my writing much simpler and straightforward than it would have been otherwise. Before I went to law school, I was much more indulgent with language, and definitely too flowery. Law school beats those affectations out of you.

Could you tell us a bit about your writing process? Do you have writing rituals?
These days, I work in a writer’s room that I walk to every morning after I get my kids off to school. I pour myself a glass of water and a cup of tea, and after a little while playing around on the Internet, I turn on Freedom. I usually edit the pages I’ve written the day before, and that eases me into creating a new scene and into writing again. I try very hard to treat it like a normal 9 to 5 job, though it’s never really possible. I have some of my best ideas at the worst times. When I’m busy with my kids, just as I’m drifting off to sleep, or in the shower. I’ve learned the hard way that when I have an important idea, I need to write it down immediately or it may be lost forever.

Tell us three things about your novel.
1. I poured a lot of my own experiences with grief into this book, so it might be the most personal of all my novels.
2. I once got an anonymous email that inspired Tell Me Three Things.
3. It’s a story about first loss, but it’s also a story about first love.
What's next for Julie?
I just handed in my next YA novel, which should hit stores April 2017. I’m really excited about it! Thanks so much for asking!

Thank you, Julie!

About the Author:

Julie Buxbaum is the author of the critically acclaimed The Opposite of Love and After You, and her work has been translated into twenty-five languages. Tell Me Three Things is her first young adult novel. Her writing has appeared in various publications, including The New York Times. She is a former lawyer and graduate of Harvard Law School and lives in Los Angeles with her husband, two young children, and an immortal goldfish. Visit Julie online at and follow @juliebux on Twitter.

Find Julie: Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Twitter | Instagram

Book Description:

Hardcover, 336 pages
Expected publication: April 5th 2016 by Delacorte Press

What if the person you need the most is someone you’ve never met?
Everything about Jessie is wrong. At least, that’s what it feels like during her first week of junior year at her new ultra-intimidating prep school in Los Angeles. Just when she’s thinking about hightailing it back to Chicago, she gets an email from a person calling themselves Somebody/Nobody (SN for short), offering to help her navigate the wilds of Wood Valley High School. Is it an elaborate hoax? Or can she rely on SN for some much-needed help?

It’s been barely two years since her mother’s death, and because her father eloped with a woman he met online, Jessie has been forced to move across the country to live with her stepmonster and her pretentious teenage son.

In a leap of faith—or an act of complete desperation—Jessie begins to rely on SN, and SN quickly becomes her lifeline and closest ally. Jessie can’t help wanting to meet SN in person. But are some mysteries better left unsolved?

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Celebrating Debutantes 2016: Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch (Author Interview + Giveaway)

Hi guys! Today we're featuring one of the contemporary debuts that I'm looking forward to this year. I'm primarily looking forward to it because it deals with two things that I like: Gelato (I love all types of ice cream, especially gelato since it's generally sweeter.) and Italy (Who doesn't want to go to Italy?) I'm grateful for the opportunity to feature Love & Gelato and Jenna. We are going to end this event in two days time. I hope you guys would take the time to check the other debut authors and titles we're featuring by clicking here.

What or who inspired you to write Love & Gelato?
My life! When I was fifteen my family moved to Florence, Italy where I attended an international school, rode scooters, and ate more gelato than I had any business doing. Florence was and is a very magical place to me, and I wanted to show it through a teen's eyes--exactly the way I experienced it. Also, Lina's living circumstances are based on a friend of mine that I met while living there. Her father was the caretaker of the American Cemetery of Florence, and she grew up in a house on the grounds. Every morning she'd go on runs through the rows of headstones, and I guess that image stayed with me, because 8 years later I found myself writing a book about a girl running through a cemetery in Florence.

Could you tell us what kind of research you did to establish the atmospheric quality of Love & Gelato?
Lucky for me I had a lot of first-hand experience to draw upon, but I did end up doing a LOT of research for this book. There was the Italian language portion of the novel (mine has gotten rusty), lots of reading about art (which was very fascinating to me), plus a lot of time spent learning more about the "secrets" of Florence--things that most tourists don't know about. It made me want to go back there ASAP.

Just for fun - what are the things you like most about Italy that actually ended up in the book?
I love Italy so much, I tried to cram in as much of its charm as possible! There's the food, the art, but most of all I tried to capture the atmosphere of walking down a street in Florence. Also, from the beginning I knew I'd have a scene at a bridge in Florence called Ponte Vecchio--it is my most favorite place in the entire world!

Do you see yourself reflected in Lina as a character?
Somewhat! In my early drafts I based Lina on my own personality and experiences, but as I continued to work on the book I found her taking on a life and personality of her own.

All the Ren's of YA that I have met are gorgeous characters. Could you tell us about Ren?
I love Ren! He emerged in my mind much like he does in the novel--loud and very much himself. The thing I like about him is that he isn't quite the typical *perfect* heart throb, but he's a great friend and someone who Lina could really trust.

How did you develop the romance in the book, especially since you had to work with two budding relationships (Ren and Lina and Lina's parents) at the same time?
Two love stories was a little tricky! It was helpful to look at Lina and Hadley's stories as separate before intertwining them, and of course it was helpful that I loved both of those relationships!

Asking something based on the title: What is your favorite gelato flavor?
Bacio! Creamy dark chocolate with bits of hazelnut....mmmm.

Thank you, Jenna!

About the Author:

Jenna Evans Welch spent her high school years in Florence, Italy, where she drove a scooter, danced in fountains, and ate entirely too much gelato. She now lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, with her husband and young son. Read her blog, The Green Lemon, at

Find Jenna: Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Twitter | Pinterest

Book Description:

Hardcover, 390 pages
Expected publication: May 3rd 2016 by Simon Pulse

Lina is spending the summer in Tuscany, but she isn’t in the mood for Italy’s famous sunshine and fairy-tale landscape. She’s only there because it was her mother’s dying wish that she get to know her father. But what kind of father isn’t around for sixteen years? All Lina wants to do is get back home.

But then Lina is given a journal that her mom had kept when she lived in Italy. Suddenly Lina’s uncovering a magical world of secret romances, art, and hidden bakeries. A world that inspires Lina, along with the ever-so-charming Ren, to follow in her mother’s footsteps and unearth a secret that has been kept from Lina for far too long. It’s a secret that will change everything she knew about her mother, her father—and even herself.

People come to Italy for love and gelato, someone tells her, but sometimes they discover much more.


Thanks to Jenna and Simon Pulse for this giveaway!
What's up for grabs: Finished Copy of Love & Gelato
Scope: US

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Treat yourself to a complete #CelebratingDebutantes2016 experience. Click the image below for the full schedule and links to the posts!

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Celebrating Debutantes 2016: Emerge by Tobie Easton (Author Interview + Giveaway)

Hi guys! I've been catching up on reading during the long weekend. I hope you're enjoying so far! Today, I'm featuring the only mermaid book in the group: Emerge by Tobie Easton. Some of my favorite novels revolve around mermaids. I'm particularly interested in finding out about the twist in the mermaid mythology that authors use in their books. Hope you enjoy the interview - and stick around for a giveaway!

The Little Mermaid is mentioned in the premise of the book. Could you tell us a little about this?
Absolutely. The Little Mermaid is the ancestor of my main character, Lia. Two hundred years ago, the Little Mermaid accidentally unleashed a curse on all the Mermaids and Merman. I don’t want to give too much away, but that curse changed the lives of the Mer and prompted some of them—including Lia and her family—to live on land, hiding their true identities from humans.

What is your twist in the mermaid mythology?
There are several twists on Mermaid mythology sprinkled throughout the book that I’m excited for readers to discover. One of the major ones (and one of my favorites) involves how Mermaids and Mermen manage to have legs while they’re on land, but you’ll have to read the book to find that one out ;)

Could you tell us a bit about the Mer people living in Malibu? How do they co-exist and remain hidden among humanity?
Great question! The Mer in this story have an entire community in place on land that helps them assimilate into the human world without detection. They’ve build grottos—glittering underground caves and tunnels flowing with water—underneath their beachside mansions. They also have some pretty incredible swimming pools! Still, when Lia is at school, surrounded by human classmates, keeping her true self hidden is definitely a challenge.

Did you encounter challenges while writing Emerge? Could you tell us about them?
When you’re writing a story that you love so much, a little voice inside your head wonders if anyone else will love it, too—if anyone will want to read it. It’s easy to have those doubts while you’re writing, but these characters and their secret world became so real to me that I just had to tell their story. That’s why the outpouring of support for the book from the blogging community and from fans who have heard about it early via social media has meant so much to me.

How different is the original version of Emerge (first draft) from the final version? Do you have deleted scenes that are close to your heart?
Actually, the final draft of Emerge is surprisingly similar to the first draft! The writing is cleaner now that I’ve polished it up, but scene by scene, it’s very close to my original outline and to the first draft. My editor suggested I add a scene showing how Lia and Clay (the human boy she has feelings for) first met. She was absolutely right; I love that scene, and I’m so happy readers will have it in the final version.

What is your writing ritual/style?
I mainly write at home on my laptop next to a steaming cup of green tea, but I also often write longhand in a notebook at cafés and coffee shops. Whole stretches of Emerge were written on weekends spent at beaches up and down the California coast. I have a secret, though: I do long brainstorming sessions in the bathtub!

Thank you, Tobie!

About the Author:

Tobie Easton was born and raised in Los Angeles, California, where she’s grown from a little girl who dreamed about magic to a twenty-something who writes about it. A summa cum laude graduate of the University of Southern California, Tobie is a private writing instructor and hosts book clubs for tweens and teens (so she’s lucky enough to spend her days gabbing about books).

She and her very kissable husband enjoy traveling the globe and fostering packs of rescue puppies. Tobie loves chocolate chip cookies and Oxford commas. Tobie is a member of SCBWI and YARWA, the Young Adult chapter of RWA.

Find Tobie: Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Twitter | Instagram

Book Description:

Paperback, 300 pages
Expected publication: April 19th 2016 by Month9Books, LLC

Lia Nautilus may be a Mermaid but she’s never lived in the ocean. War has ravaged the seven seas ever since the infamous Little Mermaid unleashed a curse that stripped Mer of their immortality. Lia has grown up in a secret community of land-dwelling Mer hidden among Malibu’s seaside mansions. Her biggest problems are surviving P.E. and keeping her feelings for Clay Ericson in check. Sure, he’s gorgeous in that cocky, leather jacket sort of way and makes her feel like there’s a school of fish swimming in her stomach, but getting involved with a human could put Lia's entire community at risk.

So it’s for the best that he’s dating that new girl, right? That is, until Lia finds out she isn't the only one at school keeping a potentially deadly secret. And this new girl? Her eyes are dead set on Clay, who doesn't realize the danger he's in. If Lia hopes to save him, she’ll have to get closer to Clay. Lia’s parents would totally flip if they found out she was falling for a human boy, but the more time she spends with him, the harder it is for her to deny her feelings. After making a horrible mistake, Lia will risk everything to stop Clay from falling in love with the wrong girl.


Thanks to Tobie for this giveaway!
What's up for grabs: Ebook of Emerge
Scope: International

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Treat yourself to a complete #CelebratingDebutantes2016 experience. Click the image below for the full schedule and links to the posts!

Friday, March 25, 2016

Celebrating Debutantes 2016: Ivory and Bone by Julie Eshbaugh (Author Interview + Giveaway)

Hi guys! I'm featuring another one of my most anticipated debut novels for 2016: Ivory and Bone by Julie Eshbaugh. It's one of a kind and it sounds absolutely intriguing. Julie did extensive research to write this book. I have always been drawn to history and anthropology, so that's another reason why I'm looking forward to this debut.

Ivory and Bone is set in the Ice Age period. What kind of research did you do for the novel?
I did lots of different things for research, from visiting museums to reading articles in science journals. I read four books about the first people to come to North America from Asia across the Bering Land Bridge. (It's not mentioned in the book, but that's the part of the world where the story takes place.) The book that I think gave me the most insight was FIRST PEOPLES IN A NEW WORLD, COLONIZING ICE AGE AMERICA by David J. Meltzer.

Could you tell us about your writing style?
Ivory and Bone is written as a story within a story. The main character—Kol—is telling the story to another character. I chose to write Ivory and Bone this way because it suits the time period—a time before written language—and it also lends intimacy to the voice. I wanted readers to feel like Kol was talking to them.

How different was the original version of Ivory and Bone from the final version? What changed?
To be honest, it didn’t change a lot! It did change from my original outline as I drafted—some scenes that distracted from the main story were cut. I liked those scenes mainly because they gave me a chance to dig into some minor characters more, so I saved them for Book Two. Once I was in revisions with my editor, most of the changes were for the sake of clarity. There are some secrets and lots of interwoven backstory, and my editor gave me some incredible advice to help me make all of that clearer for the reader.

Could you tell us about the social system/hierarchy, if any, in the book?
The world of Ivory and Bone definitely has its own social structure. Each clan has a council of elders, leaders chosen by the High Elder for their wisdom and selflessness. A High Elder can be male or female, and their leadership is considered ordained by the Divine, the female deity who created the clans and everything else.

Could you tell us about the culture and tradition of the period?
Most of what scientists believe about the daily life of the people who inhabited the Americas 12,000-13,000 years ago is based on artifacts found in a few significant archaeological sites. The interpretation of those sites can vary greatly depending on the archaeologists involved. The latest theories are reflected in the book—that the first people to come to this continent used boats to fish and to travel along the coast, and their lifestyle was more varied than simply hunting mega fauna like mammoths. Kol’s camp in Ivory and Bone is inspired by a real life archaeological site in Monte Verde, Chile, which dates to 13,800 years ago.

Could you tell us a bit about Kol?
Kol is the oldest son of his clan’s High Elder and the oldest of four brothers. He knows he will likely be the next leader of his clan and he takes that responsibility very seriously. He wants the best for the clan’s future, and when he meets Mya, he thinks maybe she could be part of that future, too. Unfortunately, as much as Kol is insightful about the world around him, he has a hard time understanding Mya.

Did you encounter challenges in writing about Kol? What are these and how did you deal with them?
When I write, I try to get the character talking to me in my head so I can tell their story. It may sound a little pretentious to say that I let Kol tell the story through me, but that’s how it feels to me when I’m writing. So as long as I was working on a part of Kol’s story that he wanted to open up about, it came easily. But the parts that were more private or maybe things Kol himself didn’t truly understand… those things I had to fight harder to get right. But Kol is a very thoughtful, reflective character, and little by little he gave me the story.

Romance is one of my favorite elements in a book. How do you manage the slow simmering romance?
Romance is one of my favorite elements, too! Kol and Mya’s romance could be called an unlikely romance, or even a star-crossed romance, because despite how they may feel in the present, there are so many aspects of the past that conspire to keep them apart. They also have to contend with a complex and delicate balance of power between their clans. Duty and responsibility are major forces in their lives, and sometimes those forces interfere with romance.

Thank you, Julie!

About the Author:

Julie Eshbaugh once produced an online video series for teens which received several honors from the Webby Awards. Now, she focuses her time on writing. Ivory and Bone is her debut novel.

Find Julie: Website | Goodreads | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

Book Description:

Hardcover, 384 pages
Expected publication: June 14th 2016 by HarperTeen

A prehistoric fantasy—with allusions to Pride and Prejudice.

Hunting, gathering, and keeping his family safe—that’s the life seventeen-year-old Kol knows. Then bold, enigmatic Mya arrives from the south with her family, and Kol is captivated. He wants her to like and trust him, but any hopes of impressing her are ruined when he makes a careless—and nearly grave—mistake. However, there’s something more to Mya’s cool disdain…a history wrought with loss that comes to light when another clan arrives. With them is Lo, an enemy from Mya’s past who Mya swears has ulterior motives.

As Kol gets to know Lo, tensions between Mya and Lo escalate until violence erupts. Faced with shattering losses, Kol is forced to question every person he’s trusted. One thing is for sure: this was a war that Mya or Lo—Kol doesn’t know which—had been planning all along.


Thanks to Julie for this giveaway!
What's up for grabs: Pre-order of Ivory and Bone + swag package
Scope: International

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Treat yourself to a complete #CelebratingDebutantes2016 experience. Click the image below for the full schedule and links to the posts!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Celebrating Debutantes 2016: Devil and the Bluebird by Jennifer Mason-Black (Author Interview + Giveaway)

Hi guys! Today, I'm featuring a retelling that is unlike most I've read in the past. This particular debut deals with the 'devil at the crossroads' tale. I think this retelling might just be a hybrid of some sort - it's a mixture of different elements that in the end, turned into something beautiful. I interviewed Jennifer about it and we're giving away a finished copy - open internationally!

Could you tell us about your writing style?
I typically spend some time getting to know a character before I start writing about them. It’s a little like having a silent partner join me on my errands, and on my walks, and when I’m brushing my teeth. By the time I start writing, I know where their story starts and where it’s likely to end, and maybe a little about what happens between those points. But for me, so much of writing is going on a journey with my characters. I enjoy not knowing everything that’s going to happen, and enjoying the writing is pretty important when I’m facing tens of thousands of words.

Could you tell us about the twist that you made on the devil at the crossroads folklore?
Not really. Well, not without giving away some things best left for the story.

I can say that the figure Blue Riley meets when she goes to the crossroads with her mother’s guitar is not the one she had imagined. To begin with, it’s a woman. The woman in the red dress, to be precise. And the woman in the red dress takes many forms over the course of the book, rather than being locked into a particular body.

Could you discuss the fantasy elements of the book?
While as a reader I completely love fantasy with wands and portals and objects of power, as a writer, I’m interested in magic so close to this world that we can just about touch it. DEVIL AND THE BLUEBIRD is very much a reflection of that. The roads Blue travels are filled with ghosts, but their presence, the magic they create, is meant to be the sort that we might all feel at various points in our lives.

Could you tell us about Blue? Did you encounter any challenges in writing about her?
Bit by bit, Blue’s connections to the world have been/are being stripped away, leaving her with two options: to lose herself completely by trying to be what others expect, or to find and honor the essence of who she is. I think it’s a point we all come to in life, often more than once, though not usually in quite as dramatic a fashion.

The biggest challenge was writing the various locations her travels take her. At the time I was writing, I had no budget for travel of any sort, so following her tracks myself was out of the question. As a person who connects very strongly to place, it felt more difficult to imagine the way a forest in Minnesota smells than it did to think about where the woman in the red dress might turn up next.

Do you find pieces of yourself in Blue?
I’m a fairly silent person. J More seriously, I think Blue shares some of my own experiences around creating—songwriting in her case, stories in mine. That sense of wonder and confusion and drive that makes the process more than just lining up nouns and verbs. The creative urge is a human one. Unfortunately, modern society too often makes creativity feel like something that must have a monetary value in order to have a right to exist. One summer when I was working in apple orchards, a Chinese graduate student was secretly writing poetry (in Chinese characters) on tree bark with a Sharpie. It was beautiful and perfect, with absolutely no dollar value. I wanted that for Blue: to work on music because the music worked on her, much the way I feel about writing.

Based on the reviews I have read so far, you have an amazing ability to make minor characters special and filled with life. How do you manage to do this?
As I mentioned before, I like to get to know my main character/s. I do the same with the minor ones. I am not-so-secretly fascinated by people. I like hearing their stories, all of them. To me, the minor characters have to have lives of their own in order to exist in a truly written world. I don’t need everyone to know everything about them, but I must in order to do my job.

I have this kind of gross thing that’s sort of my mantra. Ready? It really is gross, so you may want to skip it! Basically, I tell myself that if I can’t imagine how someone might sweat—whether they’d smell like sunscreen or hotel soap or plain real sweat—I don’t know them well enough to write about them. Really, that’s just shorthand for knowing where they come from, where they’re going, what the motor that runs them is.

How different was the original version of Devil and the Bluebird from the final version? What changed?
The changes were relatively minor. Mostly it got shorter. My editor was a superstar and helped me work on preserving scenes by cutting lines. A whole lot of lines. The biggest changes happened back when I was drafting it. Some of things that felt right at the beginning revealed themselves as wrong as I moved deeper. For example, I started with a friendship as Blue’s anchor, then had a eureka moment when I realized her friendship need to be falling apart in order to encourage her to leave Maine.

Thank you, Jen!

About the Author:

Jennifer is a lifelong fan of most anything with words. She’s checked for portals in every closet she’s ever encountered, and has never sat beneath the stars without watching for UFOs. Her stories have appeared in The Sun, Strange Horizons, and Daily Science Fiction, among others. DEVIL AND THE BLUEBIRD is her first novel. She lives in Massachusetts.

Find Jennifer: Website | Goodreads | Twitter | Tumblr | Blog

Book Description:

Hardcover, 336 pages
Expected publication: May 17th 2016 by Amulet Books

“Devil-at-the-crossroads” folklore finds its way to YA via this moody, magical tale

Blue Riley has wrestled with her own demons ever since the loss of her mother to cancer. But when she encounters a beautiful devil at her town crossroads, it’s her runaway sister’s soul she fights to save. The devil steals Blue’s voice—inherited from her musically gifted mother—in exchange for a single shot at finding Cass.

Armed with her mother’s guitar, a knapsack of cherished mementos, and a pair of magical boots, Blue journeys west in search of her sister. When the devil changes the terms of their deal, Blue must reevaluate her understanding of good and evil and open herself to finding family in unexpected places.

In Devil and the Bluebird, Jennifer Mason-Black delivers a heart-wrenching depiction of loss and hope.


Thanks to Jen for this giveaway!
What's up for grabs: Finished Copy of Devil and the Bluebird + book plate
Scope: International

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