Interview With 2019 Debut Lillie Vale!

In 2019 our goal is to work with as many debut authors as possible and spread the word about their debut novels. Follow us this year as we pick the mind of the 2019 debuts and chat with them. Also stay tuned for news of giveaways, Twitter chats and more!
Over the summer of 2018 we had Tweeted about wanting to discover more debut authors and their books and Lillie Vale responded with her novel SMALL TOWN HEARTS, and we have been interested in it ever since. We are so excited to have L.D. on the blog today to answer some of our questions! 

About Lillie! 
Lillie Vale
Lillie Vale, upon discovering she could not be one of Santa’s elves or attend Hogwarts, decided to become a writer to create a little magic of her own. Enjoying the romantic and eerie in equal measure, she’s probably always writing a book where the main characters kiss or kill. Born in Mumbai, she has lived in many U.S. states, and now resides in an Indiana college town where the corn whispers and no one has a clue that she is actually the long-lost caps lock queen.
Keep up with Lillie: Twitter / Goodreads / Instagram 


The Book Bratz: First of all, congratulations! How does it feel to be a debut author?
Lillie: Exciting! But even that word falls short, haha! It’s one of the best, most indescribable feelings in the world to know that something so dear and so personal to you is going to meet the rest of the world. I imagine it’s a lot like being a mama bird and pushing a (book) baby out of the nest, trusting that it will be all right. Mostly, it’s a lot of gratitude, anticipation, and a tiny bit of impatience for March 19 to roll around!

The Book Bratz: In your opinion, what is the hardest part of the writing process? What's the easiest?
Lillie: I definitely think that varies from book to book. I have to relearn a new way to do things for each manuscript. One of my current WIPs was marinating in my head for years. As a result, I feel like I know it inside and out. I can see the television series playing out in my mind (I’ve already dream-cast everyone, obviously!). But drafting is a little bit tougher because whatever I write has to measure up to what I’m visualizing for me to be happy with it! In contrast, the first draft of Small Town Hearts was a breeze to write. I was a pretty dedicated pantser, and that draft was all about inspiration and exploration. I loved every minute of it. When my book sold, it underwent significant revisions, which meant gutting out entire chunks, changing character motivations, back stories, subplots, and the story itself. “Getting to know” my book again was the hardest part of the process, and I wouldn’t have been able to do it without holding on tight to the heart of the story—Babe, her relationship to the town she loved, the friends she was on the outs with, and most of all, herself.

The Book Bratz: Where did you get the idea for SMALL TOWN HEARTS?
Lillie: I’ve always loved names and their etymologies… my browser history’s long line of baby name websites can attest to this! There’s a particular kind of satisfaction that fills me when I find that perfect name that captures my main character to a T. I usually get the idea first, then tackle names second. This time, it worked the other way around. Babe’s name inspired the story for Small Town Hearts 100%. Babe’s first name, Barbara, is arguably not the trendiest millennial name in YA. It’s always a name I’ve loved, though, because of its possibilities. As someone who’s never had a satisfying nickname of her own, I like to tickle myself by thinking up possible modern variations of traditional names. “Barbie would be a great name!” I remember myself saying. I just couldn’t see myself typing it over and over for the whole book. And then…“OMG, what if her name was Babe and wouldn’t that be SO COOL because Levi could totally think she was being hit on when she actually wasn’t?!?” Now, Levi was a minor character from a first draft of another story I wrote. I fell in love with him there and realized I could transplant him to his own story (see, Levi was a good example of a side character who was more compelling than the main characters, and I realized that his story was the one I really wanted to tell). Going into the book, I only knew I wanted a slightly sad, very cute artist to wash up on the coast of Maine and fall in love with a local girl. Once I had finished cackling to myself over the cleverness of Babe’s name, the rest of her character—and the story—evolved from there.

The Book Bratz: Who was your favorite character to write in SMALL TOWN HEARTS? Who was the most difficult?
Lillie: I loved writing all the characters! Obviously, Babe and Levi hold the biggest place in my heart, but Penny is a very, very close second. Erm, third? I LOVED writing her scenes and her dialogue. She wasn’t really the book’s antagonist, but she was a source of conflict for Babe. The internal conflict was Babe’s love and co-dependency battling with guilt, while the external conflict was Penny’s anger at what she perceived as Babe’s betrayal in kissing their mutual BFF Chad only minutes after he and Penny had broken up. It was a balancing act to make sure Penny had the page time to be rightfully angry, while at the same time not villainizing her to the point that we couldn’t sympathize with her hurt feelings.

The Book Bratz: What made you decide to set the book in the summertime?
Lillie: I love exploring setting, nature, and the change in seasons. Summer into fall, especially, is my favorite. But it’s not Babe’s favorite…because it means her friends will be starting college without her, and she’s freaking out about what that will mean for their friendship. If only summer could be endless, right? So when better to set the book than the last “perfect” summer before everything begins to change for her?

The Book Bratz: What do you hope readers will take away from reading SMALL TOWN HEARTS?
Lillie: I think a lot of Babe’s struggles could apply to teens and young people today. Leaving high school, the friends we’ve known for years, and even our hometown (and fam!) can be terrifying. It’s a huge life transition that we aren’t taught how to deal with. We spend four years in high school preparing ourselves academically for ~the real world~ but once we get there it’s like see ya! Many teens, whether they go to college or not, may find themselves losing their support system. How do we hold on to friendships when we’re miles apart? How do we know when to let go? Babe, for whom remaining in the work force is not only a pragmatic choice, but the one that will allow her to work at the coffee shop she loves, The Busy Bean, is terrified of the new changes that will affect her friend group. She’s going to be the one left behind, and she has no idea how to deal. I hope readers can take away that change can also be an opportunity for growth, that friendship can be tested without breaking, and that sometimes, we may have to untangle ourselves from our comfort zone in order to become the person we’re meant to be.

The Book Bratz: Do you plan on returning to the world of SMALL TOWN HEARTS in the future, or do you have other projects in mind? Can you tell us anything about them?
Lillie: Never say never! I’d always envisioned Small Town Hearts as a series of standalone books, each featuring a new couple with old favorites making cameos in the background (Babe’s coffee shop, The Busy Bean, would make a great Central Perk-like location for everyone to hang out!). I had a bunch of great ideas for this, and it may be something I’d like to revisit in the future! For now I’m really excited about my WIPs, many of which are vastly different to my debut, and an #ownvoice Desi rom-com ;)



Title: Small Town Hearts
Author: Lillie Vale
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Publication Date: March 19th, 2019 

Summary: Fresh out of high school, Babe Vogel should be thrilled to have the whole summer at her fingertips. She loves living in her lighthouse home in the sleepy Maine beach town of Oar’s Rest and being a barista at the Busy Bean, but she’s totally freaking out about how her life will change when her two best friends go to college in the fall. And when a reckless kiss causes all three of them to break up, she may lose them a lot sooner. On top of that, her ex-girlfriend is back in town, bringing with her a slew of memories, both good and bad. And then there’s Levi Keller, the cute artist who’s spending all his free time at the coffee shop where she works. Levi’s from out of town, and even though Babe knows better than to fall for a tourist who will leave when summer ends, she can’t stop herself from wanting to know him. Can Babe keep her distance, or will she break the one rule she’s always had - to never fall for a summer boy?

Thank you so much to Lillie for stopping by and answering our questions! We are super excited about SMALL TOWN HEARTS and can't wait for it to be out in the world on March 19th

Review: China Rich Girlfriend (Crazy Rich Asians, #2) by Kevin Kwan

Title: China Rich Girlfriend (Crazy Rich Asians, #2)
Author: Kevin Kwan
Publisher: Anchor
Rating: 5/5 Stars
Paperback, 479 Pages
Published June 2015

Summary: It’s the eve of Rachel Chu’s wedding, and she should be over the moon. She has a flawless Asscher-cut diamond, a wedding dress she loves, and a fiancĂ© willing to thwart his meddling relatives and give up one of the biggest fortunes in Asia in order to marry her. Still, Rachel mourns the fact that her birthfather, a man she never knew, won’t be there to walk her down the aisle. Then a chance accident reveals his identity. Suddenly, Rachel is drawn into a dizzying world of Shanghai splendor, a world where people attend church in a penthouse, where exotic cars race down the boulevard, and where people aren’t just crazy rich … they’re China rich.

This book is the second book in the Crazy Rich Asians trilogy, and I couldn't be more excited to read it. (You can read my review of the first book by clicking here!)

I didn't think it would be possible to love any other book in this trilogy as much as I loved Crazy Rich Asians, but I was delightfully surprised! This book made me laugh, cry, gasp, and blew me away throughout the entire story, and I had to text my roommate (who let me borrow the book) to vent and fangirl with her because there was just so much going on here. So without further ado, let's get into the review!

As the summary explains, Nick and Rachel are about to get married when there's a freak accident across the world that somehow leads Rachel to finding her mysterious father that she's been searching for for so long. But their reunion doesn't go as planned, because there are some secrets, other children, hateful mothers, and gossip that is trying to tear them apart. And the more that Rachel finds out, the more she isn't sure she wants to stay in China seeing everybody after all.

I absolutely loved this book and tore through it so quickly because I wasn't able to put it down. I breezed through this nearly 500-page book in just a few days because there was just so much drama going on that I always wanted to know what was going to happen next. A lot of the well-loved (and well-hated) characters from the first book make appearances, but you also meet a bunch of new fresh faces that play an important role in the story. You also get a lot more of Kitty Pong, which was a delight, and she was super hilarious and headstrong so I loved reading more about her!

My favorite character in this book is still Nick (I mean come on, *swoon*!), but I also really loved Rachel and she had some really epic moments throughout this book -- I won't spoil them for you, so that's all I'll say, but you definitely need to pick up the book and read it to find out for yourself. The only thing I was kind of sad about in this book was the fact that there isn't as much focus on Nick and Rachel's romance, or even their wedding, which was something we've all really been anticipating since the end of the first book, so it felt a bit brushed over and buried, which bummed me out a little bit. However, in its place were tons more stories of backstabbing, drama, and secrets to keep me entertained, so I loved it just the same.

Overall, I really loved China Rich Girlfriend, and I'm already itching to pick up the next book and dive into the world of splendor all over again. I'm super grateful that my roommate has been awesome enough to let me borrow the second and third books in the trilogy so I can crack open the final one and start it as soon as I finish this review, because this story of drama and romance and all of the plot twists of a high-society tale is something so addicting to me as a reader -- so if you'll excuse me, it's time to get back to reading! 

Be on the lookout for my review of the third book in the trilogy, coming soon!

Interview with Debut Author Lizzy Mason!

In 2019, our goal is to work with as many debut authors as possible and spread the word about their debut novels. Follow us this year as we pick the minds of the 2019 debuts and chat with them! Also stay tuned for news of giveaways, Twitter Chats, and more! 

During last year's BookExpo and BookCon, we had the amazing chance to get to meet debut author Lizzy Mason and to get advanced copies of her book, THE ART OF LOSING. Well, it's safe to say that we loved the book, because it was one of our favorites of the entire year and got tons of awards in our Best Books of 2018 post! So without further ado, we are so excited to have Lizzy on the blog today to answer some of our questions! 

About Lizzy! 
Lizzy MasonLizzy Mason grew up in northern Virginia before moving to New York City for college and a career in publishing. She lives in Queens, NY with her husband and cat in an apartment full of books -- and will soon be moving to Boston. THE ART OF LOSING is her first novel.

Keep up with Lizzy: 
Website / Instagram / Twitter / Goodreads / Facebook 


The Book Bratz: First of all, congratulations! How does it feel to be a debut author?
Lizzy: Thank you! It’s incredibly surreal. It took a long time to get to this point. Four books, two agents, nearly ten years. But I am so thrilled to be able to share this story with readers at last. 

The Book Bratz: In your opinion, what is the best part of the writing process? What is the hardest?
Lizzy: The best part is getting to know the characters. They are their own people in my mind and, like making a new friend, it takes time to peel back all their layers. I love figuring out what makes them who they are. The hardest has to be the self-doubt. It’s so easy to get caught up thinking that the story isn’t good enough, and that I’m not good enough. Especially with the first draft. 

The Book Bratz:What made you decide to write THE ART OF LOSING?
Lizzy: I wrote the scene where Harley walks in on Mike and Audrey the night my ex-boyfriend told me he’d cheated on me. That scene was the start of a different book when I first wrote it, but one day, my mom called to tell me a friend of mine had died after he drank and took pills. He went to sleep and never woke up. He was 24. I’ve struggled with addiction since I was a teenager, so I felt like I needed to tell this story for both me and him. It’s just too easy to make a huge mistake when alcohol is involved. So I took that scene and turned it into the original beginning of The Art of Losing.

The Book Bratz: Who was your favorite character to write in THE ART OF LOSING? Who was the hardest to write?
Lizzy:I love Raf so much. He’s just such a softie. So he’s probably my fave. Or Harley’s dad. He’s a lot like my dad, right down to the bad jokes. Hardest was probably…all of them. They’re all hurting so much in this book! Writing the fights between Harley and Audrey, and Harley being mean to Audrey, was so hard. I hated it because it made me think about the times I was mean to my sister and how much it would kill me if anything happened to her. 

The Book Bratz: This book deals with a lot of heavy topics, such as grief, rage, betrayal, rehab, just to name a few. How did you approach these topics in a honest, raw, yet sensitive way for your readers?
Lizzy: I started at such a raw place with this book, writing it after my boyfriend cheated. But I also went through a really difficult year -- long depressive episode during which I didn’t write at all. So after that, writing this book was cathartic in a lot of ways, even though it was also really emotional. I put a lot of myself into this book. 
The Book Bratz: What do you hope readers will take away from reading THE ART OF LOSING?
Lizzy: I hope they’ll have more of an understanding of addiction, but also that they’ll stand up for themselves if they’re being taken advantage of. And I hope that they’ll be nicer to their siblings. ☺  
The Book Bratz:Lastly, do you plan on returning to the world of THE ART OF LOSING in the future, or do you have something else in mind? Can you tell us anything about that?
Lizzy: I have ideas for books about some of the side characters, but I’m not sure I’ll ever get to them. Never say never! But I do have another book signed with Soho Teen in Fall 2020 that I am really excited about, but can’t say too much about just yet… It’s another emotional story about mental illness and addiction, but with a very different twist. Stay tuned! 



Title: The Art of Losing
Author: Lizzy Mason
Genre: Contemporary
Publisher: Soho Teen
Publication Date: February 19th, 2019

Summary: On one terrible night, 17-year-old Harley Langston’s life changes forever. At a party she discovers her younger sister, Audrey, hooking up with her boyfriend, Mike—and she abandons them both in a rage. When Mike drunkenly attempts to drive Audrey home, he crashes and Audrey ends up in a coma. Now Harley is left with guilt, grief, pain and the undeniable truth that her ex-boyfriend (who is relatively unscathed) has a drinking problem. So it’s a surprise that she finds herself reconnecting with Raf, a neighbor and childhood friend who’s recently out of rehab and still wrestling with his own demons. At first Harley doesn’t want to get too close to him. But as Audrey awakens and slowly recovers, Raf starts to show Harley a path forward that she never would have believed possible—one guided by honesty, forgiveness, and redemption.

Thank you so much Lizzy for stopping by and answering our questions! We are super excited about THE ART OF LOSING and can't wait for it to be out in the world on February 19th -- in just a few short days! 

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Our Favorite Swoon-Worthy Books

Happy Valentines day! Today we have a post about our favorite books with a swoon-worthy romance or books that simply make our hearts melt into puddles. We hope everyone is getting to spend their day cuddled up with their significant other or a good books and tons of chocolate! 

An open message to our book boyfriends: Will you be our valentine? 

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Those are just a few of our favorite swoon-worthy reads...what are yours? Comment down below to let us know! Happy Valentine's Day!

Waiting On Wednesday: Storm and Fury by Jennifer L. Armentrout

"Waiting On Wednesday" is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking The Spine where we highlight some of the upcoming books we can't wait to read! 

Title: Storm and Fury (The Harbinger #1)
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Inkyard Press 
Publication Date: June 11th, 2019 

Summary: Eighteen-year-old Trinity Marrow may be going blind, but she can see and communicate with ghosts and spirits. Her unique gift is part of a secret so dangerous that she’s been in hiding for years in an isolated compound fiercely guarded by Wardens—gargoyle shape-shifters who protect humankind from demons. If the demons discover the truth about Trinity, they’ll devour her, flesh and bone, to enhance their own powers.
When Wardens from another clan arrive with disturbing reports that something out there is killing both demons and Wardens, Trinity’s safe world implodes. Not the least because one of the outsiders is the most annoying and fascinating person she’s ever met. Zayne has secrets of his own that will upend her world yet again—but working together becomes imperative once demons breach the compound and Trinity’s secret comes to light. To save her family and maybe the world, she’ll have to put her trust in Zayne. But all bets are off as a supernatural war is unleashed…

If you know me just a little, you know Jennifer Armentrout is one of my favorite authors, so naturally I freaked out when I heard about this Dark Elements spin-off. I'm so excited to dive back into the world of demons and Wardens!

What are you waiting on this week? Leave your links so we can stop back!