Wednesday, June 28, 2017


I first learned about WHEN DIMPLE MET RISHI when I saw Sandhya Menon on a panel at a recent conference. This is a beautiful book that many teens (and others) can relate to--especially in regard to finding one's own identity amid familial expectations.

Dimple Shah has it all figured out. With graduation behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family, from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Ugh. Dimple knows they must respect her principles on some level, though. If they truly believed she needed a husband right now, they wouldn’t have paid for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers…right?

Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic. So when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program as him—wherein he’ll have to woo her—he’s totally on board. Because as silly as it sounds to most people in his life, Rishi wants to be arranged, believes in the power of tradition, stability, and being a part of something much bigger than himself.

The Shahs and Patels didn’t mean to start turning the wheels on this “suggested arrangement” so early in their children’s lives, but when they noticed them both gravitate toward the same summer program, they figured, Why not?

Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways.

According to your website bio, you now live in Colorado. What is your favorite thing about the mountains?

I'd have to say the sheer vastness of the Rocky Mountains! It absolutely humbles you. I also love that every time I drive somewhere or step outside, I feel like I'm on a movie set. :)

Wonderful! I love Dimple's voice. What about her experience do you hope resonates most with readers? 

The feeling of being misunderstood by her parents, for one. I think that's such a universal experience that starts in adolescence, and for some, continues on into adulthood. It can be frustrating, isolating, and heartbreaking, and it helps so much to know that there are other people out there in the same boat as you.

Another thing I hope women especially can identify with is Dimple's struggle to find respect in a world completely dominated by men. She's a STEM girl, and she's constantly reminded that she doesn't belong and that she's occupying space that is generally reserved for men. I wanted to acknowledge that struggle and show a young woman triumphing there.

A much needed narrative for many! WHEN DIMPLE MET RISHI made the NYT Bestseller list--congratulations! Where were you when you heard the news?

Thank you so much! It all still feels a little surreal. :) I was driving home from the last leg of my book tour when I got the call. It was such a surprise that I actually had trouble understanding what my publishing team was trying to tell me, haha! They, of course, said they weren't surprised at all, but I was totally floored.

(I'm not surprised either.) Your next book, FROM TWINKLE, WITH LOVE, is told in epistolary format. What inspired you to write a narrative involving letters and correspondence?

I've always been a huge fan of epistolary format. Flowers for Algernon continues to be one of my favorite books! Writing one was sort of a bucket list thing that I had in my "ideas" folder forever, so I decided to jump in with both feet with From Twinkle, With Love. I'm so excited to see what people think!

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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

THE READER: Book One of The Sea of Ink and Gold, by Traci Chee

I've wanted to feature Traci Chee ever since I first saw the cover for THE READER. This kind of fiction is my favorite, because its imagination knows no bounds. This series also demonstrates the importance of story, and how it can shape destinies. The second book in the series, THE SPEAKER, comes out this November.

Once there was, and one day there will be. This is the beginning of every story.

Sefia lives her life on the run. After her father is viciously murdered, she flees to the forest with her aunt Nin, the only person left she can trust. They survive in the wilderness together, hunting and stealing what they need, forever looking over their shoulders for new threats. But when Nin is kidnapped, Sefia is suddenly on her own, with no way to know who’s taken Nin or where she is. Her only clue is a strange rectangular object that once belonged to her father left behind, something she comes to realize is a book.

Though reading is unheard of in Sefia’s world, she slowly learns, unearthing the book’s closely guarded secrets, which may be the key to Nin’s disappearance and discovering what really happened the day her father was killed. With no time to lose, and the unexpected help of swashbuckling pirates and an enigmatic stranger, Sefia sets out on a dangerous journey to rescue her aunt, using the book as her guide. In the end, she discovers what the book had been trying to tell her all along: Nothing is as it seems, and the end of her story is only the beginning.

Having barely escaped the clutches of the Guard, Sefia and Archer are back on the run, slipping into the safety of the forest to tend to their wounds and plan their next move. Haunted by painful memories, Archer struggles to overcome the trauma of his past with the impressors, whose cruelty plagues him whenever he closes his eyes. But when Sefia and Archer happen upon a crew of impressors in the wilderness, Archer finally finds a way to combat his nightmares: by hunting impressors and freeing the boys they hold captive.

With Sefia’s help, Archer travels across the kingdom of Deliene rescuing boys while she continues to investigate the mysterious Book and secrets it contains. But the more battles they fight, the more fights Archer craves, until his thirst for violence threatens to transform him from the gentle boy Sefia knows to a grim warrior with a cruel destiny. As Sefia begins to unravel the threads that connect Archer’s fate to her parents’ betrayal of the Guard so long ago, she and Archer must figure out a way to subvert the Guard’s plans before they are ensnared in a war that will pit kingdom against kingdom, leaving their future and the safety of the entire world hanging in the balance

According to your website bio, you feel most at home in the mountains. What about the outdoors resonates with you most?

There’s a lot I love about the outdoors--the smell of the trees, the feeling of looking out over vast spaces, the challenge of “I bet I can climb that”--but my favorite by far is the feeling of discovery, walking paths you haven’t yet walked, seeing vistas you haven’t yet seen. I love guessing what’s beyond the next bend in the trail and finding hidden pockets of beauty in unexpected places. The outdoors are full of wonders, and I love happening upon them.

That feeling of discovery is something everyone, including writers, can appreciate. And I love how THE READER explores layers of story and how books can reveal different mysteries. What is your favorite part of the world you've built?

Thank you! I’m really fond of the outlaws, the cowboy-pirates for whom the seas are the wild frontier, and I do love the characters, Sefia, Archer, Reed, even Tanin and beautiful, empty-headed Haldon Lac, but I think my favorite part of the world are the legendary objects secreted here and there. We’ve got Sefia’s book, of course, but there are also swords that drink blood, cursed guns, a gong that summons storms, a diamond necklace that takes as much as it gives… Part of what I love about THE READER is that the legendary and the magical are all sort of woven into the everyday fabric of the world, so you might find them anywhere.

The sprinkling of unexpected detail is something I love too. Plus, THE READER's cover is amazing, and I'm sure you've received many compliments on it. What, in your opinion, are the necessary elements of a book cover?

I’m also in love with the cover of THE READER, the glory of which is due entirely to the talents of designer Kristin Smith and illustrator Yohey Horishita. I couldn’t tell you what makes a good book cover, but in the case of THE READER, one of the things I love about it is that it feels like the book: The illustrations have this sweeping, almost overwhelming sense of magic to them, and you can tell from the way each of the settings all unfold from these gold pages that it’s an involved, multi-layered story. Then, of course, there’s the girl, who sometimes looks sorrowful, sometimes determined, sometimes “I’m out for revenge and death to anyone who gets in my way.”

Breathtaking. The sequel to THE READER, entitled THE SPEAKER, comes out this November. What are you able to tell us about it so far, if anything?

Without spoiling anything, I can say that the end of THE READER creates some deep fissures in what Sefia thought she knew about her world, and THE SPEAKER is all about cracking those fissures open and delving deeper into the mysteries about the book, the secret society that wants it, and Sefia’s connections to both of them. We also get an intense look at Archer--who he was and who he’s becoming--as he and Sefia try to figure out who they are to each other now that the truth is out. THE READER was essentially a small story about the two of them, and in THE SPEAKER their world is opening up… and not without some dire consequences. We learn more about Captain Reed’s quest for treasure and immortality, meet new characters (like a king and the best friend/love interest who is duty-bound to betray him), and watch as Sefia and Archer blunder toward destiny even as they try desperately to avoid it.

Buy: BookPassage ~ Barnes & Noble ~  IndieBound

Pre-order: BookPassage ~ Barnes & Noble ~  IndieBound

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Wednesday, June 14, 2017


I first met Evelyn Skye at the Bay Area Book Festival last year, and I've been a fan of hers ever since. Her first book, THE CROWN'S GAME, involves magical duels in an alternate imperial Russia, and the sequel, THE CROWN'S FATE, debuted this past May. For those who enjoy Sabaa Tahir, Victoria Aveyard, and Stephanie Garber, this unique fantasy series is a must.

Vika Andreyeva can summon the snow and turn ash into gold. Nikolai Karimov can see through walls and conjure bridges out of thin air. They are enchanters—the only two in Russia—and with the Ottoman Empire and the Kazakhs threatening, the tsar needs a powerful enchanter by his side.

And so he initiates the Crown’s Game, an ancient duel of magical skill—the greatest test an enchanter will ever know. The victor becomes the Imperial Enchanter and the tsar’s most respected adviser. The defeated is sentenced to death.

Raised on tiny Ovchinin Island her whole life, Vika is eager for the chance to show off her talent in the grand capital of Saint Petersburg. But can she kill another enchanter—even when his magic calls to her like nothing else ever has?

For Nikolai, an orphan, the Crown’s Game is the chance of a lifetime. But his deadly opponent is a force to be reckoned with—beautiful, whip-smart, imaginative—and he can’t stop thinking about her.

And when Pasha, Nikolai’s best friend and heir to the throne, also starts to fall for the mysterious enchantress, Nikolai must defeat the girl they both love…or be killed himself.

As long-buried secrets emerge, threatening the future of the empire, it becomes dangerously clear—the Crown’s Game is not one to lose.

Russia is on the brink of great change. Pasha’s coronation approaches, and Vika is now the Imperial Enchanter, but the role she once coveted may be more difficult—and dangerous—than she ever expected.

Pasha is grappling with his own problems—his legitimacy is in doubt, the girl he loves loathes him, and he believes his best friend is dead. When a challenger to the throne emerges—and with the magic in Russia growing rapidly—Pasha must do whatever it takes to keep his position and protect his kingdom.

For Nikolai, the ending of the Crown’s Game stung deeply. Although he just managed to escape death, Nikolai remains alone, a shadow hidden in a not-quite-real world of his own creation. But when he’s given a second chance at life—tied to a dark price—Nikolai must decide just how far he’s willing to go to return to the world.

With revolution on the rise, dangerous new magic rearing up, and a tsardom up for the taking, Vika, Nikolai, and Pasha must fight—or face the destruction of not only their world but also themselves.

If you could only choose one, would you pick pizza or cookies? 

Oh my God, why are you so mean to me? Um.... pizookie!

Ooh, get me one of those! THE CROWN'S FATE builds on the intricate world you created in THE CROWN'S GAME. In what ways has Vika's journey changed her, and has she surprised you at all? 

I always knew that Vika would be a badass heroine who could save herself, but as I wrote her, her compassion kept growing and revealing more of itself. It's not that I didn't know she was kind. I just didn't understand the depth of it and how much it would drive her. I think part of that is that the Crown's Game itself changed her. So much happened to Vika during the course of Book 1 that forced her to become more than just a fierce girl who wanted to become Imperial Enchanter.

And it definitely adds depth to her character! I love your website--especially the home page. What have you found most helpful in building an online presence?

Thank you! Hafsah Faizal at Icey Designs is the talent behind the website layout and design. In terms of building on online presence, it's really about being genuine. I became friends with a lot of writers before I was ever published, and we all try to help each other out, promoting each other's books, giving advice, mentoring up-and-coming authors, that sort of thing. I think that if you put a piece of yourself out there and it's real, people will recognize that and want to be real with you, too.

Definitely. What are some of your current projects?

I am currently working on a secret new project, which is also a YA fantasy. Different world, different characters, different everything. I'm not allowed to say anything more at this point, but hopefully I'll be able to announce more details later this summer or in the fall!

As always, the Tsar's Guard (my fan club) will be the first to know. (If you haven't signed up yet, join us! It's super easy:

Buy: BookPassage ~ Barnes & Noble ~  IndieBound

Buy: BookPassage ~ Barnes & Noble ~  IndieBound

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Wednesday, June 7, 2017


I first fell in love with PK's Hrezo time travel series when I featured her here. I'm excited to announce that her new book, RADICAL NEW ME, is now out, and the premise looks amazing.

 Title: Radical New Me Author: PK Hrezo Release Date: May 10th, 2017 Tour Dates: June 6th – 10th, 2017 Genre: Women’s Fiction

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Callie Cow: Where is She Now? That's what Calliope Crown's old high school classmates want to know. Now it's five years later and Calliope's gone from fat to fit in a year-long transformation with a world-renowned self-help guru. When funds she's always counted on fall through, she moves to ritzy Boca Raton to work for her snobby aunt's beachside bakery and face the same temptation that put her in the body she so desperately wants to forget. Calliope may be armed with a new identity, but old self-images don't die fast, and true self-esteem isn't something you can buy online with a credit card, even though her guru would suggest otherwise with the prices of his webinar course and weekly regimen. Enter one cute and dedicated handyman and Calliope begins to see the world in a new light. Connecting with him, as well as new friends and Internet followers may just prove that life's detours can sometimes reveal our truest identities in the most unexpected of ways.
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