26.7.17

Waiting on Wednesday (147)

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

My pick this week is:

Together at Midnight by Jennifer Castle 
(coming January 2, 2018!)
Combining the emotional deftness of Sarah Dessen with the magical spark of New York City in wintertime, this affecting novel will inspire readers to pay closer attention to the world around them.

What does it really mean to be kind . . . and why does it sometimes feel like the hardest thing in the world to do? High school senior Kendall, who just returned from a life-changing semester in Europe, and Max, who is drifting his way through a gap year before college, struggle with these questions when they witness a tragic accident in New York City during the holiday season. Racked with guilt, the two accept a dare to perform random acts of kindness to strangers. The challenge pulls these two teens, who have a history together from back home, closer and closer as they explore a vibrant city filled with other people’s stories and secrets.

Kendall and Max can’t deny their growing bond, even though they both have other romantic entanglements and uncertain futures. As the clock counts down on New Year’s Eve, will they find themselves together at midnight?

Jennifer Castle’s latest novel is a romantic, thought-provoking tale of human connection and how we find—and make—our place in the world.

Reasons Why I Want to Read This:
  • A long time ago I read Jennifer's debut novel The Beginning of the After and loved it. Seriously, if you love contemporary YA and haven't read this book, what are you waiting for? 
  • The cover of this is GORGEOUS and gives off holiday vibes. I can already picture myself sitting by the fire in January reading this book. 
  • The setting!
  • The premise. It sounds tragic yet hopeful. I'm excited to read about their random acts of kindness. 
Add Together at Midnight to your wish list:

Learn more about the author:

What are you "waiting on" this Wednesday? Are you excited about this one as well? Let me know in the comments!

25.7.17

Interview & Giveaway with Kari Lynn West, author of The Secrets of Islayne

Today, I'm excited to have Kari Lynn West, author of the YA fantasy book The Secrets of Islayne, answer a few questions! Be sure to keep reading until the end....there's a giveaway for one SIGNED copy of the book!

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What are the top three reasons why readers should consider reading The Secrets of Islayne this summer?
Oh man that’s a tough one! Because it’s my story, I happen to like quite a few features of The Secrets of Islayne. :)  I’ll try to narrow it down to my three favorite elements:
  • The magic: Long before I’d figured out any other part of this story, I knew I wanted to explore the idea of bringing someone’s memories back to life. I see memories as being such a vital part of a person’s humanity, so I was fascinated by the idea of a kind of magic that augments a human being’s recollection of their life. 
  • The friendships: Though Ronan is the main character, his three friends, Eli, Cassie, and Adele all factor heavily into this story. I’m fascinated by the idea of close-knit friends experiencing adventures together (one of the many reasons why I love Harry Potter and Buffy the Vampire Slayer). I loved exploring how these characters joked together, challenged one another, and stood by each other throughout their shared journey.
  • The mystery: The novel is called The Secrets of Islayne, after all. Personally, I love some good intrigue. If you’re anything like me, I think you’ll really enjoy finding out what secrets this story holds, and why they’ll have such massive repercussions on Ronan and his friends.
The Secrets of Islayne tells the story of Ronan Saunders' transformative summer. Would you mind sharing a little about him? Also, if you could give him any advice what would you say?
Ronan Saunders wants to be a luminator more than anything in his life, but some on the island of Islayne are doing whatever they can to keep that from happening. He finally gets the chance to pursue his dream, but he stumbles upon a mystery that will force him to choose between the most important pieces of his life.

He’s single-minded, loyal to his friends, quick-witted, perplexed by a certain female character’s opinion of him, and deeply rooted to his home.

I would tell him to trust his instincts, not overthink it, and to not be so focused on the future that he misses out on the present.
One of my favorite aspects of The Secrets of Islayne was the fact that it was told in several different POVs – Ronan, Eli, Cassie, Adele, and even Ben and Alister. What inspired you to incorporate all their voices? Which POV was the easiest to write? The hardest?
I wrote the story that way because that’s my favorite way to read stories. I like to get in the heads of as many characters as possible. Believe it or not, Cassie’s father, Alister, was the point of view that was easiest to write, though I feel very different than him. Ronan’s mentor, Ben, was the hardest voice to embody. It took a long time to figure out how his mind worked.
The Secrets of Islayne dives into the world of luminators, something I haven't seen done much in the YA books I've read. What inspired you to take on this type of supernatural power?
Years before I started writing this story, I watched a news story about a woman who could remember each moment of her life as clearly as if it had just happened to her. For months after I saw that news feature, I couldn't stop thinking about what it would be like to remember your life that clearly. The concept was utterly fascinating to me (in part because I have a terrible memory). That was the starting point of my idea of luminators having the ability to revive others’ memories.
How did the title The Secrets of Islayne come to be?
Originally, I’d titled the story The Luminator’s Choice. But that felt like a mouthful, and it didn’t communicate the themes of adventure and discovery. My husband would often remark on how the island plays such a central role in the story. So I decided to give Ronan’s home some credit as well as give the readers a taste of the mystery. Viola! The Secrets of Islayne.
What's one your favorite scene or line from The Secrets of Islayne? No spoilers please!
I love this piece of dialogue when Eli is talking about his parents. I think it captures both his wit and the tension between him and his relatives:

“Then it’s a good thing they sleep like the dead,” Eli said. “I think it’s the weight of ten generations of polite backstabbing and pretension. Must be bloody exhausting for them to carry that around all the time.”
I loved the setting in this book! How did you go about creating it? Did it present any challenges?
I originally set this story on another made-up island in the Caribbean. While I was writing one of the early drafts, I watched a fantastic BBC series called Broadchurch set in a small town in the UK. With a rising sense of dread, I kept thinking about how much better-suited that kind of setting was for my novel than what I had planned. Eventually, I gave into my inner creative tyrant, scrapped most of that early draft, and transplanted what remained to a small made-up island off the coast of Scotland. It was very loosely based on the Outer Hebrides, so I did a lot of research, saved hundreds of pictures to my desktop, and dreamed of going to visit in-person (hopefully one day I will!). It was a lot of work to change the setting that far into the writing process, but it also made so much of the story fall into place (yet another way Islayne played a central role in the novel).
List three fun facts about yourself.
This is hard because I’m used to including “I’m writing a novel” to this kind of list, but obviously you already know that…
  1. I do a lot of YouTube yoga
  2. I’m from a massive family with six siblings.
  3. I love stress-relieving coloring books.
What's up next for you book wise?
I’ve had a lot of people ask me about writing a sequel to The Secrets of Islayne. As much as I love that world and those characters, I’ve had a totally different story ruminating in my mind for a while now, so I’m going to tackle that one next.

It’s a little too early in the creative process for me to divulge many details about my next novel, but I will tell you that in this one, my main character is a girl. The novel is set in a real city in the US, but there will still be some magical elements and lots of fun.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Thanks so much to all my early readers who’ve shared their excitement for The Secrets of Islayne! And thank you, Lauren, for having me on your blog and for spreading the YA fantasy love J
About The Secrets of Islayne:
A powerful island. A dangerous mystery. An impossible choice.

For centuries, the island of Islayne has given certain residents the ability to revive other people’s memories. These gifted individuals are known as luminators, and sixteen-year-old Ronan Saunders desperately desires to join their illustrious ranks. As he struggles against the prejudice of the old, powerful families who have an iron grip on the trade, Ronan falls under the tutelage of a reclusive luminator, rumored to be insane.

Just when his long-desired future is within reach, Ronan and his three friends discover a deadly secret on the island. As they delve deeper into the mystery, what they find forces them to question their loyalties, doubt long-held beliefs, and wrestle with the dire consequences of revealing the truth. Ronan finds himself torn between everything he loves and the only future he’s ever wanted. The entire fate of the lumination trade hangs in the balance of his decision.

About the Author: 
Kari Lynn West writes contemporary YA fantasy—normally while drinking far too much coffee. She likes to create character-driven stories that are set in the real world with a twist, weaving fantastical elements into everyday life. She lives in North Carolina with her husband and two daughters.





Author Links: 


Book Links:


Giveaway: 

To enter to win a signed copy of The Secrets of Islayne, fill out the Rafflecopter form below!

US ONLY!

Good Luck! :) 


a Rafflecopter giveaway

24.7.17

Review: The Secrets of Islayne by Kari Lynn West


Summary/Cover Image from Author's Website
A powerful island. A dangerous mystery. An impossible choice.

For centuries, the island of Islayne has given certain residents the ability to revive other people’s memories. These gifted individuals are known as luminators, and sixteen-year-old Ronan Saunders desperately desires to join their illustrious ranks. As he struggles against the prejudice of the old, powerful families who have an iron grip on the trade, Ronan falls under the tutelage of a reclusive luminator, rumored to be insane.

Just when his long-desired future is within reach, Ronan and his three friends discover a deadly secret on the island. As they delve deeper into the mystery, what they find forces them to question their loyalties, doubt long-held beliefs, and wrestle with the dire consequences of revealing the truth. Ronan finds himself torn between everything he loves and the only future he’s ever wanted. The entire fate of the lumination trade hangs in the balance of his decision.
Review: 

YA fantasy is the one genre of YA that I'm always meaning to read more of but never seem to do; therefore, when I was given the opportunity to read and review Kari Lynn West's The Secret of Islayne, a contemporary fantasy read, I jumped at the chance. As it turns out, The Secrets of Islayne was a slam-dunk of a debut - the YA fantasy book I didn't know I had been so desperately craving.

My absolute, hands down favorite aspect of this book? The premise.

Forgive me if I'm wrong, but I don't think I've ever read a book about luminators before. I found the idea of them to be fascinating. The ability to be able to go into ones mind and brighten memories? It's so incredibly interesting, and better yet, extremely fun to read about. The level of responsibility and even danger that comes with it alone amazes me.

Kari Lynn West did such a fantastic job of developing the world of the luminators. In The Secrets of Islalyne, two different types of luminators are encountered: ones coming from the old, original families and the ones coming from new residents of the Island. A class conflict was created within these two groups - old versus new - and it was always interesting to see the problems as well as the twists and turns that came up because of it. I especially liked that the book gave me a viewpoint from a boy of an "old" luminator family and a boy from a "new" luminator family. Kari Lynn West also did an excellent job of creating the history of the luminators and their special Island. It really managed to flesh out the story, in my opinion.

Besides the premise, I also adored the characters. In The Secrets of Islayne, the viewpoints of Ronan,  Ronan's friends - Cassie, Adele, and Eli - and Cassie's dad Alister and Ronan's boss Ben were included. While this seems like a daunting amount of POVs, it actually worked out quite well, making the story more three-demisional and intricate. Ronan, the primary main character, was my favorite out of the bunch though. In this story, he's the initial underdog. Coming from a "new" family, he's not blessed with the advantages older families have, especially when it comes to finding an apprenticeship. Throughout the book, though, Ronan doesn't let these disadvantages get him down for too long; instead, he always managed to barrel through and try to become the best luminator possible. I admired his determination. I don't think many in his place would have his "eye on the prize" behavior.

The plot of this was incredibly faced paced as well as thrilling. Throughout the book I was on the edge of my seat, dying to know what would happen next. There was so many twists and turns, especially towards the ending, that completely blew me away. I don't want to talk too much about the plot because I don't want to give anything away. However, I will say that the ultimate bad guy in this one? I didn't see him coming at all!

In all, The Secrets of Islayne had it all. An adventure? Check! An exotic setting? Check! A well developed fantasy storyline? Check! A touch of romance? Double Check! I simply cannot wait to see what Kari Lynn West writes next. A small part of me is hoping it may be a sequel to this.

Grade: A-

The Secrets of Islayne (Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Goodreads) is now out! 

Source: eBook provided by author - thanks Kari!

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