Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Book Review: Antisocial by Heidi Cullinan

Title: Antisocial
Author: Heidi Cullinan
Publication Date: August 8, 2017

Synopsis: A single stroke can change your world. 

Xander Fairchild can’t stand people in general and frat boys in particular, so when he’s forced to spend his summer working on his senior project with Skylar Stone, a silver-tongued Delta Sig with a trust fund who wants to make Xander over into a shiny new image, Xander is determined to resist. He came to idyllic, Japanese culture-soaked Benten College to hide and make manga, not to be transformed into a corporate clone in the eleventh hour.

Skylar’s life has been laid out for him since before he was born, but all it takes is one look at Xander’s artwork, and the veneer around him begins to crack. Xander himself does plenty of damage too. There’s something about the antisocial artist’s refusal to yield that forces Skylar to acknowledge how much his own orchestrated future is killing him slowly…as is the truth about his gray-spectrum sexuality, which he hasn’t dared to speak aloud, even to himself.

Through a summer of art and friendship, Xander and Skylar learn more about each other, themselves, and their feelings for one another. But as their senior year begins, they must decide if they will part ways and return to the dull futures they had planned, or if they will take a risk and leap into a brightly colored future—together.

Review: This book absolutely warmed my heart. I fell in love with the story and the characters, and was so happy with the representation in this novel. At the very core, this was a story about being true to yourself and being happy. It tells us that our families are made up of the people who love and support us even if they're not related by blood or law. It tells the reader these truths through the relationship of Xavier and Skylar. These two were adorable and I loved watching them grow as people and grow together as a couple. Heidi Cullinan captured Xavier's passion for art so beautifully and had me aching to see the paintings she described. Just as beautiful was watching Skylar shed his false exterior and accept who he really was. This was my first time reading about a character who falls on the ace/gray spectrum and I hope to read more in the future. I was also drawn into the setting- Benten College, which is absolutely drenched in Japanese culture. Xavier and Skylar's group of friends were charming, and while some were more developed than others, they became family over the course of the book. My favorites were Zelda, a fierce friend of Xavier's from the beginning who is unafraid of anything and Unc, a wonderfully cheerful fraternity brother of Skylar's who was always willing to lend a helping hand. Overall, I absolutely loved this book and hope I get to read more about these characters again someday.

An ARC was provided by the author through NetGalley.

Rating: 5/5 stars

-Kristen ♥

Friday, July 21, 2017

Book Spotlight: The Crowns of Croswald by D.E. Night (Author Interview)

Title: The Crowns of Croswald
Author: D.E. Night
Series: Croswald, #1
Publisher: Stories Untold Press
Publication Date: July 21, 2017

Synopsis: In Croswald, the only thing more powerful than dark magic is one secret…

For sixteen years Ivy Lovely has been hidden behind an enchanted boundary that separates the mundane from the magical. When Ivy crosses the border, her powers awaken. Curiosity leads her crashing through a series of adventures at the Halls of Ivy, a school where students learn to master their magical blood and the power of Croswald’s mysterious gems. When Ivy’s magic––and her life––is threatened by the Dark Queen, she scrambles to unearth her history and save Croswald before the truth is swept away forever.

About the Author: D.E. Night lives, dreams, and writes in South Florida amid her menagerie––two dogs and two cats––with her husband. “The Crowns of Croswald” is her first book. She draws inspiration from silver-screen storytellers, magical imaginings, and her younger brothers. A day spent in Croswald, or another whimsical world, is her favorite kind of day.

A post shared by Kristen (@kmichelle1) on
The Crowns of Croswald by D.E. Night arrived along with some amazing goodies! I am absolutely in love with my gorgeous glowing glanagerie bottle and I am excited to dive into this fantasy story to learn more it's magical properties. :)

Author Interview:

1. What inspired you to write The Crowns of Croswald

I have always found joy in being creative, art projects and things like that. But more than that, I’ve always loved stories, mostly my favorite animated movies. I’m a Disney fanatic. My draw toward fantasy and my creative drive sort of forced me to start writing. For me, it’s not just about the writing, it’s about creating characters, designing scenes, and imagining everything and anything magical. Croswald is basically me in a book––fairy tale with an edge. I love fashion, fairy tales, anything that sparkles, and I especially love magic.

2. What was your favorite part about creating the world of Croswald?

I’m so grateful to be one of those people that really truly loves what they’re doing. My favorite part of this whole experience is seeing pieces of my world come to life, whether in the form of illustrations or being able to hold a physical book in hand. It’s like a dream. I also love the process of creating characters and naming them. I have a lot of fun with that.

3. Tell us more about creating a character. What sort of process do you go through? 

Well, I don’t know if it’s a process exactly. It always seems sort of like randominspiration. For example, eating dinner beside my 11-year-old brother who loves butter and bread. Emphasis on the butter. Readers get to meet Woodley Butterlove and understand how my little brother inspired such a character.

4. Ivy is a strong, inspirational character. How do you think she grows throughout the book, and what would you like the reader to take away from that? 

I think a lot of people’s natural talent is hindered by self-doubt. I think for Ivy Lovely, the first book is all about discovery and uncovering her hidden talents. It’s all about taking that first step and trusting your gut. I like to think that her first stride across the slurry fields may speak to a reader waiting to take the first step in their own adventure. Everyone should get the chance to step into something magical.

5. As a debut author, what surprised you most about the writing process for The Crowns of Croswald

Probably my patience. I think people often get deterred by the time it takes to complete something. It’s taken me three and a half years to get to this point and I was surprised by how calm I was throughout the whole process. Excited, but calm.

6. This is the first book in a series. Without giving too much away, what do you have in store for your readers as the series evolves? 

Of course, readers will get to join Ivy on her adventures of discovery through Croswald, full of weird and whacky character. Also a lot of magic and new inventions. The final show down with the dark Queen is going to be spectacular!

7. Your love of magic and fantasy is apparent in your writing. How did your love of magic develop? 

I spent every birthday visiting theme parks with my best friends. My mom would pick us up early from school and we’d spend a day in a place of total imagination. That world offantasy seemed so vibrant and I always dreamed of creating a place one day where people can visit. When I wrote, I always wrote keeping that in mind. Where can people visit? What can they see when they go there? Like I said, I love being creative and writing a book seemed the perfect fit. Besides being a Disney fanatic, I love that, with magic, anything is possible.

8. The Crowns of Croswald follows the adventures of Ivy Lovely, a strong heroine who is full of spirit and unwavering courage. Can you tell us more about her and how her character came about? 

The reader meets Ivy when she’s unsure, held back, and lonely. Through the course of The Crowns of Croswald, we get to see Ivy become who she is meant to be: impulsive but smart, studious but adventurous. She doesn’t know it yet, but those are the very traits that will save her kingdom. She trusts her gut and that gets her pretty far in life, but she learns to ask for help along the way. Most importantly, she’s compassionate and funny: two must-haves in any friend, in my opinion.

9. If you could give readers one message to inspire them from your book, what would it be? 

Believe in the magic of your dreams.

-Kristen ♥
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