Interview with Shaila Patel

TODAY IS THE OFFICIAL RELEASE OF SOULMATED, BOOK #1 IN THE JOINING OF THE SOULS SERIES!

I’m excited. Are you excited? You need to get your hands on this fun book ASAP. To feed my own excitement (and yours!) the author, Shaila Patel, agreed to do an interview with me because she spoils me rotten. *wink* Shaila is such a sweet, spunky soul who makes everyone around her feel loved. It only makes sense that she likes to write about love when she’s so good at showing it. She also is insanely creative and silly—I accidentally left my umbrella with her last I saw her, and she’s named it and probably developed some backstory to go with it.

Want to know more about the book? Check out my review here!
Find it: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | TBD

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Two souls. One Fate.

Eighteen-year-old Liam Whelan, an Irish royal empath, has been searching for his elusive soulmate. The rare union will cement his family’s standing in empath politics and afford the couple legendary powers, while also making them targets of those seeking to oust them.

Laxshmi Kapadia, an Indian-American high school student from a traditional family, faces her mother’s ultimatum: Graduate early and go to medical school, or commit to an arranged marriage.

When Liam moves next door to Laxshmi, he’s immediately and inexplicably drawn to her. In Liam, Laxshmi envisions a future with the freedom to follow her heart.

Liam’s father isn’t convinced Laxshmi is “The One” and Laxshmi’s mother won’t even let her talk to their handsome new neighbor. Will Liam and Laxshmi defy expectations and embrace a shared destiny? Or is the risk of choosing one’s own fate too great a price for the soulmated?


Without further ado, I give you Shaila Patel!

Are there areas that you see yourself in Lucky? 

Most definitely. It would be next to impossible not to slip snippets of my younger life into Lucky (Laxshmi’s nickname)—being that we’re both first generation Indian-American. While our exact experiences are nothing alike, I grew up in a strict household where I didn’t feel I had any choices. That’s pretty much a hallmark of young adult fiction, though, isn’t it? And it’s also a theme that runs through Soulmated: craving the freedom to make your own choices in life and accepting the consequences when you do.

How did your own experiences as an Indian American shape how you wrote Lucky?

It became a well of inspiration to be honest. Thinking of (maybe even dredging up!) my own experiences and those of my friends’ wasn’t always easy because I had to understand and empathize with both Lucky and her mom to do their characters justice. Lucky wouldn’t be Lucky without her mother’s influence, after all. The funny thing is, I feel there’s a lot of my current self in Moira in this book and in book 2.

What kind of research did you have to do for Liam’s character and his family’s heritage? How did you manage to make him so swoon-worthy?

Whenever you write outside your own experience, it takes a lot of research to get it even close to being right. I’ve made two trips to Ireland, and while that’s hardly enough to capture the Irish culture and heritage, my focus in writing Liam remained on capturing the emotional authenticity of someone his age while plagued with familial and cultural expectations. I did a lot of research in the Irish-English syntax and grammar and even hired an Irish editor to help with that. I suspect writing from Liam’s point of view will be a challenge throughout the series, and so the research will continue. And as with any culture, a monolithic representation never does it justice. Irish culture, like Indian culture, can vary from region to region, and I hope to keep learning as the series progresses.

As for making him swoon-worthy, I’m not sure how I managed that! Lol! I know that during revisions I had to pay a lot of attention to his character growth and development. An early editor had beat it into my brain (in a good way!) that I had to settle on what type of hero he was going to be before I continued. She was right. He was a hot mess at first, and when I sat down with my characterization goals for him, I realized I didn’t want to make him perfect—that was too easy and too boring—but I did want him to be relatable. (And it doesn’t hurt that I personally think he’s gorgeous! Lol!)

How did writing from two perspectives differ than writing from one narrative?

Good question! I had to pay a TON of attention to voice—and Liam’s Irish-English did not make that any easier. Sometimes I had to re-read a previous chapter of Liam’s to get back into the cadence of his language. But voice isn’t just about word choice. It’s also about the gender of the character and how s/he thinks. It’s even about their external influences affecting their thought processes and reactions. It wasn’t always easy, but nothing hit that point home like when I had to change a chapter into the other character’s point of view. It was amazing how little things had to change to compensate for a new narrator.

So this next book – I know I’m waiting anxiously. Will Lucky and Liam have all their questions answered?

Ah! I can’t give that away, can I??? Let’s just say, I’m a firm believer in happily-ever-afters, but a resolved romance in book 2 of a 4 book series would kill the story! I can say this, however: their relationship takes a significant step forward and many little steps backward. I hate to be vague, but you’ll just have to wait for book 2!

Thanks for having me!


SHAILA PATEL

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As an unabashed lover of all things happily-ever- after, Shaila’s younger self would finish reading Cinderella and fling her copy across the room because it didn’t mention what happened next. Now she writes from her home in the Carolinas and dreams up all sorts of stories with epilogues. A member of the Romance Writers of America, she’s a pharmacist by training, a medical office manager by day, and a writer by night. She enjoys traveling, craft beer, and teas, and loves reading books—especially in cozy window seats. You might find her sneaking in a few paragraphs at a red light or connecting with other readers online at: http://www.shailapatelauthor.com
 
Find Shaila:

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Book Review – Gemina

Title: Gemina: The Illuminae Files _02
Author: Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
Published: October 2016
Genre: Young Adult, Sci-Fi

Rating: 5 Stars
Cover: Like It

51qhtzfrfgl-_sx329_bo1204203200_Synopsis:

Moving to a space station at the edge of the galaxy was always going to be the death of Hanna’s social life. Nobody said it might actually get her killed.

The saga that began with the breakout bestseller Illuminae continues on board the space station Heimdall, where two new characters will confront the next wave of BeiTech’s assault. Hanna is the station captain’s spoiled daughter, Nik the reluctant member of a notorious crime family. But while they are struggling with the realities of life aboard the galaxy’s most boring space station, little do they know that Kady Grant and the Hypatia are headed right toward Heimdall, carrying news of the Kerenza invasion.

When an elite BeiTech team invades the station, Hanna and Nik are thrown together to defend their home. But alien predators are picking off the crew one by one, and a malfunction in the station’s wormhole means the space-time continuum may be ripped in two before dinner. Soon Hanna and Nik aren’t just fighting for their own survival. The fate of everyone on the Hypatia—and possibly in the known universe—is in their hands.

But relax. They’ve totally got this. They hope.

Briefing note: Told through a compelling dossier of found documents—and featuring guest journal illustrations by bestselling author Marie Lu—Gemina hurls readers into an enthralling new episode that will leave them breathless.

“You might get only one shot. So shoot.” p. 494

If you missed my review of the first book in the series, Illuminae, you can find it here.

As was completely expected, Gemina was a rollercoaster and I was hanging on tightly to discover the end. This second installment of the Illuminae Files takes place at the space station Heimdall that Hypatia and all the people aboard have been fighting to reach the whole last book. The story opens just before a station-wide celebration of a holiday. Cue Hanna, the spoiled station captain’s daughter who will stop at nothing to get her way. She’s planning the perfect expensive outfit for the perfect date with her boyfriend to the big celebration at the station. Until suddenly the station is ambushed by BeiTech. Suddenly people are dying left and right, and she is cut off from her boyfriend. The only people able to team up with Hanna to save their station are two cousins from a criminal gang. About two thirds of the way through the book, the crew on Hypatia are able to make contact with the space station and both discover themselves in a nearly impossible phenomenon that has caused two alternate universes to merge as one. Not only do Hanna and her team need to save their space station from their invaders, but now they also need to team up with the crew from Hypatia to save their universe from collapsing.

Of course the whole book is filled with strategic ass-kicking and grotesque deaths, because what else would you expect from Kaufman and Kristoff? A cool aspect that separates this book from the previous is the illustrations by Marie Lu. Hanna is a creative thinker and best processes things by doodling in her journal. Many of her journal pages throughout the invasion are included with the files and allow for the reader to connect with her and other characters on a deeper level. I love this addition to the storytelling. My favorite aspect of Gemina, though, was the amount of character growth developed throughout this intense reading experience. Each of the characters (at least the ones that outlived others longer) where fully fleshed out and came out the other end as a changed person. It made me root for the characters even more.

Gemina follows Illuminae as one of my favorite reads this year. Kaufman and Kristoff have this habit of ripping your beating heart out of your chest, crushing it, inflating it with a breath of hope, repeating this a couple times, and then shoving your heart back into your chest, filling you with every emotion in the book. Now dump some delightful romance into the madness that will warm up that very heart that is going through so much turmoil. I anxiously await the third and final installment with bated breath.

No Plain Rebel – Book Review

Title: No Plain Rebel (No Ordinary Star #2)
Author: M.C. Frank
Published: July 2016
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Dystopia 

Rating: 4 Stars
Cover: Like it

51jlw2ncnml-_sx326_bo1204203200_Synopsis:

A soldier is summoned to the North Pole, days before the year changes, told to fix the great Clock for a celebration. He had no idea what to do.

A girl, hunted for the crime of being born, almost dies out on the ice. She is rescued by the last polar bear left alive.

A library waits for them both, a library built over a span of a hundred years, forgotten in the basement of an ice shack.

The world hasn’t known hunger or sickness in hundreds of years. It has also forgotten love and beauty.

The year is 2525.

Inspired by the short stories of Ray Bradbury, this futuristic novel is set in a world where Christmas—among other things—is obsolete and a Clock is what keeps the fragile balance of peace.

Written in three installments, this is the breathtaking and sensual story of how two unlikely people change the world, and each other, one book at a time.

In No Plain Rebel, Felix finds out the truth. Or so he thinks. He’s trying to come to terms with that, as well as with the fact that the Clockmaster’s shack has been discovered by his fellow-soldiers, but he can’t exactly concentrate. The match girl’s fiery curls appear before his eyes every ten seconds, distracting him, and then he starts talking to her in his head. Because she’s no longer there.

The Stadium is looming in the distance.

It’s ten heartbeats to midnight.

“Silence is not peace, Felix, my hope” (p. 188).

*I received a free copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review*

The truth is out there. *Cue “The X-Files” theme music.*

No Ordinary Star ended with a cliffhanger, so naturally I scrambled to continue the story with No Plain Rebel. (You can see my review for NOS here.) I love reading about Felix and Astra and watching them learn, and as they learn, their worlds grow so much bigger. I love how they learn about how humanity was before it was taken away from them, and watch them marvel at it: “They stand for a few more minutes there, absorbing all the newness of the Old World” (p. 25). Felix and Astra learn what knowledge, ideas, beauty, and love are when the world they live in is void of it. This continuation of their story was perfect.

All of the questions left in NOS are answered in the second installment. Felix learns the truth about who he is, who his family is, and where the world is headed. I think I could feel his mind blowing as his knowledge grew. Both characters learn who to extend a trusting hand to and who is perpetuating the bleak future of their world. There is a delightful part of NPR where Felix is forced to swallow a giant pill of humility and face reality in the fact that he can’t help change the problem without recognizing he’s part of the problem. Whoa! The character growth is through the roof!

Astra and Felix {finally} start realizing their feelings for each other, even with the knowledge that any sort of romantic relations is illegal. Heck, everything they do in this book is considered illegal. I can’t imagine living in a world where reading is treason! I was disappointed, though, that this story seemed to be mostly focused on Felix, and we don’t hear much from Astra in the second half of the book. I am a fan of that feisty red head.

Ultimately, I think book one is my favorite of the two, specifically because of the world immersion rather than the overflow of information. However, as I said, this book didn’t disappoint – and of COURSE it ended on another cliffhanger. Where’s book three?

Love. Hurt. Betrayal. The story continues.