Monday, February 29, 2016

Review: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Book Description:

Hardcover, 383 pages
Published February 10th 2015 by HarperTeen

This is a world divided by blood – red or silver.

The Reds are commoners, ruled by a Silver elite in possession of god-like superpowers. And to Mare Barrow, a seventeen-year-old Red girl from the poverty-stricken Stilts, it seems like nothing will ever change.

That is, until she finds herself working in the Silver Palace. Here, surrounded by the people she hates the most, Mare discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy the balance of power.

Fearful of Mare’s potential, the Silvers hide her in plain view, declaring her a long-lost Silver princess, now engaged to a Silver prince. Despite knowing that one misstep would mean her death, Mare works silently to help the Red Guard, a militant resistance group, and bring down the Silver regime.

But this is a world of betrayal and lies, and Mare has entered a dangerous dance – Reds against Silvers, prince against prince, and Mare against her own heart ...

Reviewer's Copy: Hardcover

Source: Purchased

My Thoughts:

Red Queen was a surprise for me. I had avoided the book for a year now, in fear of being disappointed. I was halfway through the first chapter when I decided that it was worth trying. The imagery was vivid, painting the story world in vibrant colors. The author had an amazing writing style. She made everything appear movie-esque and cinematic, especially the action scenes. I loved these parts most of all. I savored every cinematic scene in the book as much as I could. It reminded me a bit of Marie Lu's writing style, as we've seen it in Legend. The plot was exciting and action-packed, with just the right amount of humor, sarcasm and drama. The dystopic setting made it all the more appealing to me.

Mare as a heroine was fierce and daring. She was a bright flame in a dark room, filling up the pages with snark, courage and determination. She was street smart, having been a thief who outsmarted several people on a daily basis. However, I felt that she made some unwise decisions on the book, despite her rational, logical and suspicious characteristics. I liked how she stuck with the rebellion all throughout the novel, never putting down the crimson flag. She kept fighting for the equality of Reds and for that she earned my respect. As she navigated the court of Silvers, she kept her heart beating Red. She bore two faces: the Silver, cold and calculating mask of Lady Mareena; and the open and fierce face of a Red ready to fight and survive.

There were two princes in the book: Cal, the first born and heir; and Maven, the second prince. Cal was like the "summer prince" for me, warm, thoughtful, gentle but also fierce and lethal. He seemed out of the place in the gentry, with his easy and sincere smiles. I instantly loved him. How could I not? He protected Mare, a Red, and offered her kindness over and over again. Maven, on the other hand, was the overlooked prince. He was the shadow of the flame, always a step behind his brother. He was the lonely prince and Mare and I couldn't help but feel sorry for him. Maven seemed to appear at the right time and say the right words. He has become a companion to Mare, helping her adjust and bear the eyes of the Silvers. To make things more interesting, there was actually a third boy: Kilorn, Mare's longtime friend. With green eyes, a mouth that said the funniest, silliest things, he was quite a handful. But that didn't stop Mare from caring about him. He was a Red and an orphan, making him one of the most vulnerable characters in the book. However, Kilorn was nothing if not a fighter. He was tired of the system, just like all the Reds. He wanted a change and he would do anything to see it come to pass.

There were two classifications of men: Red and Silver. Reds were the people born without abilities, without that special something in their blood to make them stand out. They served the Silvers endlessly, breathing and living to make the life of Silvers easy. They worked hard, bled and most of them died in the war. The conscription was mandatory and every individual aged 18 and non-working, would be sent to the war to fight a century-old battle. The Silvers were the upper class, the special ones who had special abilities. They lorded over the Reds, controlling and ruling the population. The divide made me feel so angry at the unfairness of it all. It was like racism, only worse: it zeroed in on the presence of special abilities. Since Reds and Silvers didn't really mix, and there was no 'marrying in,' (at least not mentioned in Red Queen) then this meant that Red families would continue to be sans special abilities forever. It might just be me but the reader in me, saw similarities of the situation in modern life: the divide between the marginalized sector and the upper class. It was almost impossible to get through that wall dividing the two.

Initially, I thought the Silvers to be faeries because of the exposure to faery-like powers in the early parts of the book. But as the story progressed, I realized that the type of powers in the book was much more diverse and bordered on similarities with X-Men. I would have liked a much more detailed discussion on the historical aspect of Silvers and Reds because I was so curious about the origin of Silvers. Where did they come from? How did they came to be? Was it like the Lord of the Rings, where they had various types of creatures co-existing in a single world? I wanted to know. I was a bit sad that this question went unanswered.

Red Queen was a startlingly violent and engrossing fantasy, tinged with intense emotions, class struggle and oppression. It was not a perfect book, there were holes in the story, but do not let this stop you from trying to read the book. It was an enjoyable tale, with an entertaining cast. I recommend it to readers of fantasy, readers who like cinematic action scenes, and readers who like super powers in YA.


4 Cupids = Strong book love.
I really enjoyed this. I recommend this!

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Celebrating Debutantes 2016: Bookishly Ever After by Isabel Bandeira (Author Interview + Giveaway)

Hi guys! This is my last post for #CelebratingDebutantes2016 for the month of February. Maricar and I have been running the event for two weeks now. This will continue until March 31st. So if you've missed a post or have just stumbled upon this little madness, go here to find out the details and links.

Today, I'm featuring Isabel Bandeira and her debut, Bookishly Ever After. Issy is giving away a signed copy of Bookishly Ever After, so stick around for it. :)

Could you tell us a bit about your writing style?

I'm a plantser--I plot and outline, but I also let the story go where it needs to go. I have a day job, so I write whenever I can, from early morning writing sessions to dictating scenes into my phone during my long morning commute.

What or who inspired you to write Bookishly Ever After?

Every year I participated in a "no kiss" New Year's bloghop, and one year I wrote a short little scene about a bookish girl channeling her favorite heroines while trying to impress a boy she liked...oh, and all of this while trying to cross this eeeevil rope bridge at a camp and failing miserably (I will not confirm nor deny if I had to cross a bridge similar to that horrid thing when I was at camp). Afterwards, those characters just kept popping into my head until I decided I had to write their story.

How different was the original version of Bookishly Ever After from the final version?

Not very different. Scenes got tighter and relationships were better established, but the story, overall, stayed the same. Most of the book "excerpts" changed a few times to better fit with the story, though, which means I practically wrote three other books in the process of writing Bookishly.

Based on Goodreads, this book has lots of good quotes. If you could only pick a single quote to call a favorite from Bookishly Ever After, what would it be? And why is it your favorite?

It may have to be Phoebe's rant about perfect vision in dystopian novels. It was fun to let her loose on something that had been bugging *me* for a long time!

I also loved a lot of what Grace tells Phoebe throughout the book, especially when she points out that Phoebe has a big heart. Phoebe may not always know what to say or how to act, but she sees the best in others and cares fiercely for the people in her life, and I love Grace's practical way of pointing that out to her.

Could you imagine yourself writing a novel in another genre?

Yes. My first finished manuscript was a contemporary fantasy and I had a lot of fun writing the paranormal "books" for Bookishly Ever After. I'd love to one day polish up the original manuscript and to play with a few paranormal stories. Plus, I absolutely love Star Trek, so sci-fi isn't totally off the table. You'll probably never see a thriller or horror from me, though--they're not quite up my glitter-filled alley, even if I do enjoy reading one once in a while!

Thank you, Issy!

About the Author:

Isabel Bandeira grew up surrounded by trees and lakes in Southern New Jersey, right on the edge of the Pine Barrens. Her summers were always spent in Portugal, where the cathedrals, castles, and ancient tombs only fed her fairy tale obsession. Between all those influences and her serious glitter addiction, it wasn’t a surprise when she started writing stories of her own.

In her free time between writing and her day job as a Mechanical Engineer who designs and develops medical devices, she reads, dances, figure skates, and knits.

Isabel lives in New Jersey with her little black cat, too many books, and a closetful of vintage hats. She is represented by Carrie Howland of Donadio and Olson, Inc. BOOKISHLY EVER AFTER is her debut novel.

Find Isabel: Website | Pinterest | Goodreads | Twitter | Instagram | Tumblr

Book Description:

Paperback, 378 pages
Published January 19th 2016 by Spencer Hill Contemporary

In a perfect world, sixteen-year-old Phoebe Martins’ life would be a book. Preferably a YA novel with magic and a hot paranormal love interest. Unfortunately, her life probably wouldn’t even qualify for a quiet contemporary.

But when Phoebe finds out that Dev, the hottest guy in the clarinet section, might actually have a crush on her, she turns to her favorite books for advice. Phoebe overhauls her personality to become as awesome as her favorite heroines and win Dev’s heart. But if her plan fails, can she go back to her happy world of fictional boys after falling for the real thing?


Thank you to Issy for this giveaway!
What's up for grabs: Signed Copy of Bookishly Ever After
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!

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Celebrating Debutantes 2016: The Girl Who Fell by Shannon M. Parker (Interview, Review + Giveaway)

Today, I'm featuring one of the 2016 debuts that I've read so far. A lot of readers are looking forward to The Girl Who Fell by Shannon M. Parker. If you're not one of them yet, let me convince you with this review and interview. We're giving away a copy of the book + swag later!

Book Description:

Hardcover, 368 pages
Expected publication: March 1st 2016 by Simon Pulse

His obsession.
Her fall.

In this dark kissing book, high school senior Zephyr Doyle is swept off her feet—and into an intense relationship—by the new boy in school.

Zephyr is focused. Focused on leading her team to the field hockey state championship and leaving her small town for her dream school, Boston College.

But love has a way of changing things.

Enter the new boy in school: the hockey team’s starting goaltender, Alec. He’s cute, charming, and most important, Alec doesn’t judge Zephyr. He understands her fears and insecurities—he even shares them. Soon, their relationship becomes something bigger than Zephyr, something she can’t control, something she doesn’t want to control.

Zephyr swears it must be love. Because love is powerful, and overwhelming, and…terrifying?

But love shouldn’t make you abandon your dreams, or push your friends away. And love shouldn’t make you feel guilty—or worse, ashamed.

So when Zephyr finally begins to see Alec for who he really is, she knows it’s time to take back control of her life.

If she waits any longer, it may be too late.

Reviewer's Copy: e-ARC

Source: Author + Edelweiss

My Thoughts:

Right from the start, I was sucked into the story. The writing was simply magical. It was the kind that wrapped around the my heart and refused to let go, sending me wave after wave of emotion - emotion that shouldn't belong to me in the first place, emotion that radiated from the protagonist, but for some unfathomable reason, I felt it, owned it and accepted it in the moment. I am not usually an emotional reader. It is typically hard to break through my shell and my walls of protection, but Parker did just that, disarming me in a way that was both soothing and overwhelming. I loved how Parker got under my skin so fast with just a few chosen words. I was swimming in her prose, lost and wandering and unwilling to go back to the surface.

Zephyr was the kind of protagonist that I didn't normally get close to, as well. She was sporty - something I have never been in my entire life - and she was quick to avoid emotional problems, related to her father who left her and her mother four months ago. Zephyr was the co-captain of her field hockey team, soldiering her way to the finals. She was also the best friend of Lizzie, the detective and editor-in-chief of the school paper, and Gregg, the ice hockey star of the school. Zephyr was avoiding boys and commitment for the moment. She was all-too-focused on her goal: Boston College and field hockey. Through Parker's superfluous writing, I met Zephyr, walked a step behind her throughout the story and at some point, I just got her. I understood her reasoning, her logic and her dreams. There were moments though, that I felt that she wasn't exactly doing the wisest things despite her solid logic and understanding of things.

The book tackled different relationships, with family, friends and lovers. I enjoyed reading about friends Zephyr, Gregg and Lizzie, but zeroed in on Gregg and Zephyr. From the beginning, I wanted Gregg to end up with Zephyr. Gregg was undeniably sweet and thoughtful towards Zephyr. There were fireworks all over the pages. However, Zephyr wasn't prepared for him to make a move, so their friendship spiraled into an awkward state of avoidance and adjusting. I would have loved to get to know Gregg more, though.

Alec, the perfect boy who was new in school, was an individual of mystery. He was sweet, said the right things at the right time, and seemed to appear at the right moment. The attraction between Alec and Zephyr was instantaneous. They gravitated towards one another, finding each other in stolen moments. The attraction magnified into something more intense and harder to pull away from. Zephyr was so in love, so much so that she experienced this momentary blindness, which came hand in hand with being in love. She was willing to do anything and everything for Alec. It was so convincing and felt so strong that it reminded me of my past relationship.

The plot was winding and smooth. Each twist added flavor to the story, making it more interesting. Every character was a piece in the puzzle, building and completing the whole picture. There was an element in the book that reminded me of a suspense novel. While reading, I was mostly at the edge of my seat, ready to flip to the next page This was proof that The Girl Who Fell really got me hooked.

The Girl Who Fell swept me off my feet, overdosed me with the feels and slammed me right back to the ground of reality. It was an intoxicating read that was romantic and suspenseful at the same time. I recommend this to readers of contemporary romance and psychology.


4 Cupids = Strong book love.
I really enjoyed this. I recommend this!


The Girl Who Fell is a sweeping contemporary with psychological themes. What kind of research did you do for The Girl Who Fell?

Most of my research was anecdotal. I’d heard a lot of stories from too many girls about how a boy manipulated their feelings and decisions. Hearing their stories made one rise in me.

Character development is very important in this kind of story. How did you mold Zephyr and Alec's character?

The trickiest thing to do was to have the reader fall for Alec the way that Zephyr does. Alec needed to earn Zephyr’s trust, earn the reader’s trust. Alec’s character had to have value and depth so that the reader could see why an intelligent, driven girl like Zephyr would fall for him. And Zephyr had to be smart. My hope has always been that this book will help end discussions that start with: “How could she let this happen?”. I wanted the character development to be so realistic that readers could see how a girl could fall. Any girl. And that maybe books like mine will help to end a culture of shaming the victim for her choices.

How did you develop the romance between the two?

I focused on the intoxication of first love. The intensity, the heat. The fear and exhilaration of trusting another person with your emotions, your secrets.

What were the challenges that you encountered while writing the book, if any? How did you deal with it?

Self-doubt is always my biggest challenge. I have a lot of it and I haven’t found a way to silence it yet. I’m open to any and all suggestions.

How different was the final version from the original version?

The most significant edits happened in relation to the tone of the book. I removed a lot of funnier dialogue and scenes in order to preserve the intensity of the story.

Thanks so much!

About the Author:

Shannon Parker lives on the Atlantic coast in a house full of boys. She’s traveled to over three dozen countries and has a few dozen more to go. She works in education and can usually be found rescuing dogs, chickens, old houses and wooden boats. Shannon has a weakness for chocolate chip cookies and ridiculous laughter—ideally, at the same time. The Girl Who Fell is her first novel.

Follow Shannon: Website | Goodreads | Twitter | Instagram


Thank you to Emily for this giveaway!
What's up for grabs: HC of The Girl Who Fell; GIRL lip gloss; GIRL mood pencil.
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!

Twitter Chat with Shawna Yang Ryan @ 2/28/2016 5PM #GreenIsland

Hi everyone! Lately, I find myself more into fantasy, historical and literary fiction. A few days ago, I just found out about a book that sounds so unique and promising. I wanted to share it with you. It's called Green Island by Shawna Yang Ryan. It's set in Taiwan and United States. As of today, I don't think I've ever read a novel written in English that is set in Taiwan. This is something new for me. And with that, I have news!

Tomorrow, February 28, 2016, at 5:00pm Manila time, Shawna Yang Ryan is going to have a Twitter Chat. If you want to find out more about the book, please do join us!

The hashtag for the chat is #GreenIsland.

Find @Shawnayangryan and @prhglobal.

More about the book below...

Book Description:

Hardcover, 400 pages
Published February 23rd 2016 by Knopf

A stunning story of love, betrayal, and family, set against the backdrop of a changing Taiwan over the course of the twentieth century.

February 28, 1947: Trapped inside the family home amid an uprising that has rocked Taipei, Dr. Tsai delivers his youngest daughter, the unnamed narrator of Green Island, just after midnight as the city is plunged into martial law. In the following weeks, as the Chinese Nationalists act to crush the opposition, Dr. Tsai becomes one of the many thousands of people dragged away from their families and thrown into prison. His return, after more than a decade, is marked by alienation from his loved ones and paranoia among his community—conflicts that loom over the growing bond he forms with his youngest daughter. Years later, this troubled past follows her to the United States, where, as a mother and a wife, she too is forced to decide between what is right and what might save her family—the same choice she witnessed her father make many years before.

As the novel sweeps across six decades and two continents, the life of the narrator shadows the course of Taiwan’s history from the end of Japanese colonial rule to the decades under martial law and, finally, to Taiwan’s transformation into a democracy. But, above all, Green Island is a lush and lyrical story of a family and a nation grappling with the nuances of complicity and survival, raising the question: how far would you be willing to go for the ones you love?

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Celebrating Debutantes 2016: Magnetic Shift by Lucy Briand (Author Interview + Giveaway)

Lovelies, if you are looking for an adrenaline-rush, a book filled with powers, look no further. Magnetic Shift is the perfect book for you! Today, I'm interviewing Lucy Briand about her debut. We're giving away a copy of her book, open internationally.

What inspired Magnetic Shift?
I always loved stories with subtle paranormal twists and I’ve always been fascinated with superhuman abilities and how one would deal with being so different. Add my love of X-MEN and NASCAR and my experiences and struggles with fitting in because of my mixed geek interests and this became a story I just had to write.

Your book is NASCAR-centered. Did you encounter challenges in terms of relaying the story, while injecting fast-paced, high octane quality that characterizes NASCAR?
The NASCAR stuff was the easy part for me. I visited many tracks, had some private tours that gave me access to places I needed to see and describe. It’s a world I always wanted to be a part of. The story was just there for me. I wrote the first draft in 3 weeks. The ideas just swirled onto the page. What was hard was trying to keeping up with the rule changes and trying to make the story as accurate as possible without compromising where I wanted the story to go. The Sport constantly changes and even now some of the qualifying procedures have changed since I wrote this story.

I am interested in the science behind Lexi's ability. How far did you go into research for this? How close did you get to the actual science of her ability?
I’ll be honest the first draft had hardly any science behind her ability. To me, knowing how she got her ability or where it came from never mattered. I believe some things just happen and unless you are a doctor or a scientist you won’t ever know why or how, you just learn to deal. To me the story is still there without the science. What’s important is how she adapted to it, how she felt about it, how she saw herself. But I also understand that others have a need to know and can’t get past it until they do. I think it was the hardest part for me to write. I’m not one for scientific research so I enlisted a lot of help from my hubs. The paranormal cannot always be explained but I think I got as close to the root as I could. :)

Tell us about Colton. How did you mold him as a character? Did you include stereotypes for racers or did you make him extra special?
Colton…he’s a mix of so many things…heck he even has mismatched eyes. He’s a mixture of the many professional drivers I’ve idolized and/or met over the years. Some stereotypes, some traits, some values and dreams. He’s also a little bit video game. I wrote the first full description of Colton while my hubs was playing Resident Evil on his PlayStation and somehow Colton turned out to closely resemble Leon Kennedy from the game. Go figure…lol

How different is the final version of Magnetic Shift from its first version?
Other than adding in the science behind Lexi’s ability and describing how she used it so that everyone could understand it the way I did, nothing major was changed. A few quirks were added, a few thoughts that were not needed were taken away and one specific scene needed a bit of a cool down but all in all it’s still the same story I hand wrote in my notebook while sitting on my front porch two summers ago.

Thank you, Lucy!

About the Author:

Lucy D. Briand lives in Ottawa, Canada with her comic book fanatic husband and her nonchalant Siamese cat. By day she works full time as a public servant for the Government of Canada, but by night her creative mind takes over and conjures up young adult gearhead romance stories with supernatural twists.
When not working, reading, writing, or watching way too much TV, Lucy likes to cosplay, attend ComicCons, go on road trips to Walt Disney World, and play ridiculous amounts of board games. She’s a geek to the core but is also a huge NASCAR Cup fan.
Lucy is represented by Brittany Booker Carter of The Booker Albert Literary Agency.

Find Lucy: Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Twitter

Book Description:

Paperback, 260 pages
Expected publication: March 15th 2016 by Spencer Hill Press

The ability to magnetize and manipulate metal with the flick of her wrist makes seventeen-year-old Lexi Adams a crack mechanic, but it’s a disaster in the making when her stepdad trades her skills to NASCAR team owner Dean Grant for an entire season’s worth of sponsorship ads.

Now Lexi has no other choice but to suck it up and hope she can keep her magnetic impulses under control—that is, until she runs into NASCAR’s hot new rookie, Colton Tayler.

When Carl Stacy, the ruthless team owner of the defending Cup Champion, discovers Lexi’s secret and plots to use it to ruin Dean’s race team for good, Lexi must either expose her ability to save Colton, risking Dean’s career and her own freedom in the process, or watch the only guy she’s ever fallen for race to his death.


Thanks Lucy for this giveaway!
What's up for grabs: Copy of Magnetic Shift
Scope: Open internationally

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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

Monday, February 22, 2016

Celebrating Debutantes 2016: Holding Court by K.C. Held (Playlist + Giveaway)

Happy Monday, everyone! Today's Kristen, also known as KC Held, will be taking over Fragments of Life to discuss her playlist. This is the first ever playlist post on the blog so I'm quite excited. She'll go through the songs and talk a little bit about them. There's another swag lover giveaway later. Without further ado, Kristen please take over from here. :)

Playlist for HOLDING COURT

I use a treadmill desk, which means I walk while I write, and although I can’t listen to music with lyrics when I write, I do like to have book-specific songs to play as a kind of warm-up when I get on my treadmill and open up my computer. I’m sure someday I’ll fall off and break something as I also can’t listen to music without wanting to dance, and I definitely haven’t mastered the art of dancing on a moving treadmill!

Brave by Sara Bareilles
This is pretty much Jules’s theme song. In fact, there are several characters in HOLDING COURT it applies to. “Don’t run, stop holding your tongue.”

Upside Down by Paloma Faith
This song reflects the tone I was going for with HOLDING COURT, a quirky, rollicking ride with a girl who experiences the world a little differently.

You Belong With Me by Taylor Swift
Jules wishes it were this cut and dried with Grayson, the unattainable boy she’s in love with. That he obviously belonged with her instead of his girlfriend, Bree. But it’s not that simple. She’d love to hate Bree, but she can’t.

El Matador by Los Fabulosos Cadillacs
Every murder mystery needs a song about a killer.

Speak Slow by Tegan and Sara

If she could make her feelings for Grayson just GO AWAY, Jules would. “I leave my heart all this pain and now I’m at it all again.”

Ho Hey by The Lumineers
Jules is trying to do it right. She doesn’t know where she belongs, or where she went wrong.

Shake it Off by Taylor Swift
Jules would love desperately to be able to just shake it all off. Feeling like a freak, having an embarrassing “gift” she can’t control, a boy she can’t have, and a job that would be awesome if it weren’t for a couple of MAJOR issues. One of which is the costume she has to wear. And the other is the disappearing dead body.

Madly by Tristan Prettyman
For me, this one is about how conflicted Jules feels about Grayson.

Float On by Modest Mouse
My mantra for Jules: “Don’t worry, even if things end up a bit too heavy, we’ll all float on alright.”

Say by John Mayer
This should be Jules’s mantra for herself. “It’s better to say too much, than to never say what you need to say.”

Somebody Loves You by Betty Who
What Jules imagines it’s like when somebody loves you back.

Click here for the spotify URL.


Thank you, Kristen! I'm personally happy to see some Taylor Swift songs in your playlist.

About the Author:

K.C. HELD was born and raised in California with stopovers in Honduras, Mexico, and France. Married to her high school sweetheart, and mom to two avid bookworms, she holds an MFA in costume design and has worked as a freelance costumer in opera, theater, film, and television. Although she once spent a summer working in a castle, there were no dead bodies involved.

Follow Emily: Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Twitter | Pinterest | Tumblr

Book Description:

Paperback, 352 pages
Expected publication: March 1st 2016 by Entangled Teen

Sixteen-year-old Jules Verity knows exactly what's in store at her new job at castle-turned-dinner-theater Tudor Times. Some extra cash, wearing a fancy-pants dress, and plenty of time to secretly drool over the ever-so-tasty--and completely unavailable--Grayson Chandler. Except that it's not quite what she imagined.

For one, the costume Jules has to wear is awful. Then there's the dead body she finds that just kind of...well, disappears. Oh, and there's the small issue of Jules and her episodes of what her best friend calls "Psychic Tourette's Syndrome"--spontaneous and uncontrollable outbursts of seemingly absurd prophecies.

The only bright side? This whole dead body thing seems to have gotten Grayson's attention. Except that the more Jules investigates, the more she discovers that Grayson's interest might not be as courtly as she thought. In fact, it's starting to look suspicious...


Thank you to Kristen for this giveaway!
What's up for grabs: Holding Court Swag: Magnetic prophecy kit, bookmark, and signed bookplate
Scope: US and CA

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Celebrating Debutantes 2016: Arrows by Melissa Gorzelanczyk (Review + Giveaway)

Hi guys! For today, I'm reviewing one of my favorite Cupid novels so far. Cupid stories have always been my weakness but Arrows was just it for me. I loved it a lot. All the feels kept coming back to me days after I read the book.

Book Description:

Hardcover, 240 pages
Published January 26th 2016 by Delacorte Press

A modern cupid story set in present-day Wisconsin combining the fantastical elements of Greek mythology with the contemporary drama of MTV's Teen Mom.

People don’t understand love. If they did, they’d get why dance prodigy Karma Clark just can’t say goodbye to her boyfriend, Danny. No matter what he says or does or how he hurts her, she can’t stay angry with him . . . and can’t stop loving him. But there’s a reason why Karma is helpless to break things off: she’s been shot with a love arrow.
Aaryn, son of Cupid, was supposed to shoot both Karma and Danny but found out too late that the other arrow in his pack was useless. And with that, Karma’s life changed forever. One pregnancy confirmed. One ballet scholarship lost. And dream after dream tossed to the wind.

A clueless Karma doesn’t know that her toxic relationship is Aaryn’s fault . . . but he’s going to get a chance to make things right. He’s here to convince Danny to man up and be there for Karma. But what if this god from Mount Olympus finds himself falling in love with a beautiful dancer from Wisconsin who can never love him in return?

This fast-paced debut novel explores the internal & external conflicts of a girl who finds herself inexplicably drawn to a boy who seemingly doesn't reciprocate her feelings, touching on the issues of love, sex and responsibility, with a heroine struggling to control her destiny--perfect for fans of Katie McGarry's novels and MTV’s 16 and Pregnant.

Reviewer's Copy: e-ARC

Source: Edelweiss

My Thoughts:

My first impression of Arrows was that it was quite tragic from the start. The promise of tragedy and pain in the beginning jump started my reading experience. I am fond of Greek mythology and am quite well-versed with the levels of tragedy, pain, agony and heartbreak that are usually involved with these stories, but to witness the beginning of a fresh disaster was something else. It added to the excitement of the story since the readers are part of it right from the start.

The story was told from two perspectives, Aaryn's and Karma's. Aaryn was my favorite narrator. He was the son of Eros, Cupid himself. He was devastatingly charming that I couldn't quite move on from the story. He was handsome, so painfully sweet and thoughtful that my heart just melted all over the pages. He has to be one of the most caring gods I have ever encountered. His time on earth humanized him, making him see the situation of people, especially the lovestruck ones, up close. Interacting with Karma and witnessing the difficult time that she was going through on a day to day basis enabled Aaryn to understand the consequences of his work. Cupid stories have always been a weakness of mine. Arrows was another chink in my armor.

Karma was a heartfelt character. I felt her love, passion, sadness and pain. She was a victim of Aaryn's arrow and it was hurting more and more every day to be desperately, hopelessly in love with a person who didn't love her the same way she loved him. She was a dedicated mom, a passionate dancer and a loyal girlfriend. It was equally painful and amazing to read about a person who gave her best in everything that she did and yet wasn't receiving the appreciation and goodness that she was giving to the universe. It broke my heart to see an achiever settle for something inferior to her big dreams just to be with a person who didn't even want to be with her.

When Karma was with Aaryn, fireworks would explode, flowers would bloom and the side effects of all the feels would crawl all over my skin. The chemistry was palpable, although in the beginning Karma would deny it or shut it down because she was still in love with her boyfriend, the boy Aaryn was supposed to have shot with the second arrow so he could pair them for life. Now back on Earth, Aaryn would do everything he could to right his mistake, even if it meant saving the Karma himself. As he realized the magnitude of the effects of his failed pairing, he also found more and more reasons to love Karma. I loved reading about their interactions and conversations. It was like watching something beautiful and fragile unfurl.

Arrows is a heart-wrenchingly beautiful debut that will leave readers entranced and encapsulated in a cocoon of feels. I recommend this to readers of romance, readers who are looking for Cupid-related stories, or stories inspired by the Greek mythology. Give this gem a chance. You won't regret it.


4 Cupids = Strong book love.
I really enjoyed this. I recommend this!

About the Author:

Melissa Gorzelanczyk is a former magazine editor and columnist who believes love is everything. She is a proud member of the SCBWI, The Sweet Sixteens and the Class of 2k16. She lives in Green Bay, Wisconsin, with her husband and family.

Her debut novel ARROWS is available now from Delacorte Press, a division of Penguin Random House. She is represented by agent Carrie Howland of Donadio & Olson.

Follow Melissa: Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Twitter


Thank you to Melissa for this giveaway!
What's up for grabs: Signed Swag
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!

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Celebrating Debutantes 2016: The Year We Fell Apart by Emily Martin (Author Interview + Giveaway)

Hi guys! Today, I'm interviewing Emily Martin about her writing and her book - The Year We Fell Apart. I've always been drawn to the cover art of the novel and it was great to know the book beyond the blurb. We're giving away signed swag (swag lovers out there, this one is for you)!

Contemporary novels are said to be the hardest to write. A writer has to make it strong, emotionally hooking and naturally interesting. How do you manage this? What is the special ingredient of The Year We Fell Apart?
For me, a lot of the appeal of contemporary YA comes down to the voice--which is always very subjective. Harper's sharp and often sarcastic voice started whispering in my head before the story idea was even fully formed. And once I developed the idea a bit more, it felt like the perfect fit for her journey. She uses her voice almost as a shield, and usually says the most hurtful things when she's in a lot of pain herself.

Above all, I just tried to tell an honest story, which I think is what gives readers an emotional hook. This meant I couldn't protect Harper, even from herself, even when my finger was hovering over the delete key and I wanted so badly to change her course. I had to let her make her own mistakes, and let her get hurt, and staying honest certainly made for an emotional experience while drafting.

Tell us more about Harper and Declan. Their relationship seemed to be quite complicated, based on the premise. How did you develop their relationship?
They definitely have a complicated relationship, in the way only two people who have known each other forever can have. Harper and Declan grew up together, and know each other better than anyone. The first scene I wrote between them was what turned out to be the climax, when all their hurt and frustration is finally coming to a head, and I sort of worked my way backwards from there to figure out how two people who care so deeply for each other could end up there. I also wrote a lot of scenes that didn't make it into the book, but which did help me flesh out the dynamic between them--their inside jokes and the things they bicker about. These details helped me shape their interactions with each other in the present of the novel, and in flashbacks.

Harper is a flawed character. Personally, I find it hard to have a flawed character - it might make or break a story for me. How did you write and develop Harper as a character?
She definitely is, and there was just no way around that for me. The premise of the novel is how mistakes can come to govern your whole outlook, and Harper has spent the last year making rather questionable choices. It becomes a pattern, and the more other people begin to notice and label her for her choices, the more difficult it is for her to see past them. Again this just came down to telling the most truthful story I could--we all make mistakes, especially when we're afraid of the potential outcomes of a different choice. And for Harper, some of the fears that drive her to make these bad choices are deep-rooted. I had to be patient with her, and hope that she would eventually figure out another path.

How different is final version of The Year We Fell Apart from its original version?
They are VERY different stories! My first draft was written during National Novel Writing Month, so it was messy and rambling and not very interesting, even to me. It was also in the past tense instead of present, which is a change I made around my third draft. I wrote many drafts before this novel was ready for others to read, and with each draft the characters were rounded out a bit more and the timeline clarified. I also cut the weakest scenes of each draft before moving onto the next.

Do you have a lot of deleted scenes? Do you have a specific scene or a few lines that you could share with us?
Yes! There are a number of cut scenes between Harper and Declan, which are cut for good reason. :) Some are scenes that no longer fit with the manuscript as it evolved, while others just weren't strong enough to drive the plot forward. But I value every deleted scene, because they all helped me flesh out their characters and dynamic around each other in some way. I also have several cut scenes between Harper and her new best friend, Sadie. Again these were scenes that didn't end up fitting the novel, but one that always made me giggle was when they played a game they made up called Scrue, which is basically Clue...but with scandalous results.

Thanks so much for having me!

Thank you, Emily!

About the Author:

Emily Martin grew up in a suburb of Detroit, Michigan. She attended graduate school in North Carolina, where she fell in love with sweet potato pancakes, deep fried pickles, and the boy who later became her husband. Emily now lives and writes in Boston, Massachusetts. The Year We Fell Apart is her first novel. You can find Emily online at, or follow her on Twitter @ThatEmilyMartin.

Follow Emily: Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Twitter

Book Description:

Hardcover, 320 pages
Published January 26th 2016 by Simon Pulse

In the tradition of Sarah Dessen, this powerful debut novel is a compelling portrait of a young girl coping with her mother’s cancer as she figures out how to learn from—and fix—her past.

Few things come as naturally to Harper as epic mistakes. In the past year she was kicked off the swim team, earned a reputation as Carson High’s easiest hook-up, and officially became the black sheep of her family. But her worst mistake was destroying her relationship with her best friend, Declan.

Now, after two semesters of silence, Declan is home from boarding school for the summer. Everything about him is different—he’s taller, stronger…more handsome. Harper has changed, too, especially in the wake of her mom’s cancer diagnosis.

While Declan wants nothing to do with Harper, he’s still Declan, her Declan, and the only person she wants to talk to about what’s really going on. But he’s also the one person she’s lost the right to seek comfort from.

As their mutual friends and shared histories draw them together again, Harper and Declan must decide which parts of their past are still salvageable, and which parts they’ll have to let go of once and for all.

In this honest and affecting tale of friendship and first love, Emily Martin brings to vivid life the trials and struggles of high school and the ability to learn from past mistakes over the course of one steamy North Carolina summer.


Thank you to Emily for this giveaway!
What's up for grabs: Signed Swag of The Year We Fell Apart
Scope: US and CA

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Celebrating Debutantes 2016: The Heir and the Spare by Emily Albright (Author Interview + Giveaway)

Hi guys! This is it! The first author feature for #CelebratingDebutantes2016 - The Heir and the Spare by Emily Albright! She chose an author interview. With the novel involving royals, romance and London, my head immediately filled itself with questions. This interview is the result of that. We're giving away a signed copy later, so stick around! ;)

What or who inspired you to write The Heir and the Spare?
The idea popped into my mind when Prince William married Catherine Middleton. It got me thinking about Prince Harry. I was curious how his life might differ being the second son. Particularly when it came to a love life. Once I had that idea, I was off and running.

How different is the final version of The Heir and the Spare from its original version?
It's definitely different as I went through a couple large revisions. It is shorter than the original and I did cut a couple characters. But overall, most of the plot and characters stayed the same. Oh, and it was originally titled The Spare, but once Evie’s voice took over, that’s when I tweaked it to The Heir and the Spare. I was actually surprised that my title was the one used by my publisher, but I was really happy they liked it and it stuck.

Did you encounter any challenges while writing this book? If yes, could you tell us some?

Well, the biggest challenge was writing with a kidlet in the house. Just finding the time to squeeze in moments to write was hard. Also, I’ve visited England years ago, but not living there made it a bit of a challenge. I did a lot of research, some that got used, some that didn’t. And despite all the research, I probably got something wrong.

The premise reminds me a bit of Frozen: the perfect prince charming might not be so perfect after all. Could you tell us a bit about Edmund and his background?

Edmund’s very loyal to his family and tries his best to make them proud, which makes it difficult for him to put his own dreams and desires over his royal obligations. Being the second son, Edmund’s always felt a bit like an outsider and a little lost in his role as a royal. He’d love to step away from his role and just be a normal guy. As a child when he’d get overwhelmed he’d run into the gardens at the palace and climb his favorite tree, where he’d sit and think and just be alone. His older brother Philip was always the one to get him and bring him back. They’re still extremely close and look out for each other. Growing up, Edmund went to the very best schools, which is actually where he met Preston. I could go on and on, but I’ll stop here before this becomes a novel. ;)

Royal romances - how do you put this down into paper? Could you tell us a bit about your writing style as well? 

I don’t know that writing a royal romance is really any different than any other romance. Maybe a little more research, but ultimately, it’s still just about sitting and getting the words on paper. And lots and lots of revising.

As for my writing style, I don’t really know how to describe it. I write what makes me happy and a story that I’d like to read. I do tend to shy away from being super flowery and descriptive. I strive for clear and concise, whether I get it or not is another story. ;)

Thank you, Emily!

About the Author:

Emily Albright is a major bookworm, a lover of romantic movies, a Netflix junkie, a wife, a mother, and an owner of one adorable (yet slightly insane) cockapoo and one very tolerant cat. Her debut young adult novel, The Heir and the Spare, is available now from Merit Press. Currently, she’s busy working on her next book.

Follow Emily: Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Twitter | Instagram

Book Description:

Hardcover, 288 pages
Published January 18th 2016 by Merit Press

Family can be complicated. Especially when skeletons from the past pop up unexpectedly. For American Evie Gray, finding out her deceased mother had a secret identity, and not one of the caped crusader variety, was quite the surprise. Evie’s mom had a secret life before she was even born, one that involved tiaras.

In this modern day fairytale, Evie is on a path to figure out who her mom really was, while discovering for herself what the future will hold. Charged with her late mother’s letters, Evie embarks on a quest into her past. The first item on the list is to attend Oxford, her mom’s alma mater. There, Evie stumbles upon a real life prince charming, Edmund Stuart the second Prince of England, who is all too happy to be the counterpart to her damsel in distress.

Evie can’t resist her growing attraction to Edmund as they spend more time together trying to unravel the clues her mother left behind. But, when doubts arise as to whether or not Edmund could ever be with an untitled American, what really ends up unraveling is Evie’s heart. When Evie uncovers all the facts about her mom’s former life, she realizes her mom’s past can open doors she never dreamed possible, doors that can help her be with Edmund. But, with everything now unveiled, Evie starts to crack under the pressure of new family responsibilities and the realization that her perfect prince may want her for all the wrong reasons.


Thank you to Emily for this giveaway!
What's up for grabs: Signed Copy of The Heir and the Spare
Scope: US and CA

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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