Interview with Gwen C. Katz!

15231604Hey everyone! So a few months ago I was lucky enough to be granted an interview with a debut author whose book is coming out on October 3rd! Meet Gwen C. Katz, a writer, artist, game designer, and retired mad scientist easily identified by her crew cut and ability to cause trouble. Originally from Seattle, she now lives in Altadena, CA with her husband and a revolving door of transient mammals.

I asked her for an interview on Twitter, and when she agreed, I was very happy! Her book sounds incredibly interesting and original. Here’s all the basic info about it:

30122938Among the Red Stars by Gwen C. Katz

384 pages

Coming October 3rd 2017 from HarperTeen

World War Two has shattered Valka’s homeland of Russia, and Valka is determined to help the effort. She knows her skills as a pilot rival the best of the men, so when an all-female aviation group forms, Valka is the first to sign up.

Flying has always meant freedom and exhilaration for Valka, but dropping bombs on German soldiers from a fragile canvas biplane is no joyride. The war is taking its toll on everyone, including the boy Valka grew up with, who is fighting for his life on the front lines.

As the war intensifies and those around her fall, Valka must decide how much she is willing to risk to defend the skies she once called home.

Inspired by the true story of the airwomen the Nazis called Night Witches, Gwen C. Katz weaves a tale of strength and sacrifice, learning to fight for yourself, and the perils of a world at war.

First of all, thank you so much for letting me interview you! You must be very busy with the process of publishing your first book, Among the Red Stars. How’s that going? Is it everything you’d hoped it would be?

It’s going great! My agent, Thao Le, and my editor, Emilia Rhodes, both connected so well with this story, and the crew at HarperTeen have done an amazing job making it into a finished book.

Your book is YA Historical Fiction, and focuses about something that’s not widely discussed: the women the Nazis called Night Witches. Where did you first hear about these fascinating female pilots?

My father-in-law is a big aviation buff and he told me about them. (Now I get to share aviation facts with him!) The Night Witches are a topic that gets popular every year or two. A lot of people learned about them in 2013, when pilot Nadezhda Popova died and her obituary was in the New York Times. But somehow, they’ve never quite become common knowledge. Many people still don’t know that women served in World War II at all, let alone that they fought as tank drivers, machine gunners, and fighter aces. But they did.

We know your main character Valka is a brave and strong, but who is she? What can you tell us about her? Why should we read her story?

I like this question. So often, especially in movies, female characters are “strong” and that’s it! Valka is a person who has a lot of heroes, but she feels like she’ll never have a chance to do anything like the amazing feats she hears about on the radio. If you’re the sort of person like me who reads about these cool historical figures on Mashable or Atlas Obscura—and then looks at your own life and feels like an underachiever—then I think you’ll not only enjoy Valka’s story, but you’ll connect with her, too.

What is her Myers-Briggs personality type?

Oh man, I am such a Myers-Briggs disciple. It used to be the first thing I decided about a character! Valka is an ESTJ. She’s a go-getter.

And out of curiosity, what is your Myers-Briggs personality type?

I’m an INTP. Not very common in the YA world, but it will surprise no one that I studied science in school.

As a writer, you probably (I hope!) you like to read. What’s your favorite book? What about a book you’d recommend to YA readers?

Now there’s a challenging question! I grew up reading a lot of classics and books like Les Miserables are still among my favorites. On the YA front, the YA historical fiction subgenre is full of stunning talents like Stacey Lee, Sherri L. Smith, and Elizabeth Wein. I’m usually a tough audience, but these authors hit it out of the park every time.

How would you sum up Among the Red Stars in a single sentence?

When World War II shatters the Soviet Union, a teen pilot enlists for adventure, but instead she and the boy she loves come face to face with the realities of war.

I hope you enjoyed this interview with the lovely Gwen C. Katz, because I sure did! I’ll definitely be getting Among the Red Stars, will you?

Find Gwen on her:
Find Among the Red Stars on:

BLOG TOUR: The Truth About Happily Ever After – Excerpt + Giveaway

Today I’m giving you the chance to read an excerpt of The Truth About Happily Ever After, a book by Karole Cozzo that releases today! There’s also a great giveaway waiting for you at the bottom of the page. This is part of the blog tour organized by Xpresso Book Tours, so you can go over to this page and check out the others’ reviews if you happen to like this! It looks amazing:

truthAboutThe Truth About Happily Ever After

Published by: Swoon Reads

Publication date: May 16th 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult


Chin up, Princess, or the crown will slip.

A theme park princess must put her life back together after her happily ever after falls apart in The Truth About Happily Ever After, a contemporary YA romance from Karole Cozzo, author of How to Keep Rolling After a Fall and How to Say I Love You Out Loud.

Everything was supposed to be perfect. Alyssa has a job she loves, working as Cinderella at her favorite theme park; a fantastic group of friends; and a boyfriend who will no longer be long distance. But as the summer progresses, her prince becomes less charming and more distant, and Alyssa’s perfect summer falls apart.

Forced to acknowledge that life is not always a fairy tale, Alyssa starts working to pull her herself back together. Fortunately, she doesn’t have to do it alone. With her friend Miller’s support, she’s determined to prove that she’s more than just a pretty princess. And with his help, maybe she’s finally ready for something better than dreams. Maybe she’s ready for something real.

This sounds promising! I’ll leave you with the excerpt I was assigned:


I’m not really sure what possesses me to step into the boxing room at the gym. I don’t know what the room is really called, but that’s what I call it, the small exercise studio with red matted floors and retractable rows of long, narrow punching bags hanging from the ceiling. Maybe I’m driven by some lingering resentment from my run-in with Harper. Maybe I’ve been listening to too much angry rap music.

Whatever the reason, I find myself walking in, the room empty, its lights still off. My motion activates them, and the space is immediately bathed in bright light. I slowly turn in a circle, taking it all in—the mirrors, all that red and black equipment I’m unfamiliar with, the chains hanging from the ceiling. It feels like I’m in a room designed for torture more than anything else.

But I don’t leave. Because I’m overcome by my desire to punch one of those big bags. Hard.

Taking a quick look over my shoulder to make sure no one’s watching, I stride over to the bag at the end of the row. I curl my hand into a fist, thinking it’ll be just like the movies, satisfying and gratifying and effortless. My hand meets the bag with a dull thud, and I wince, the world ow forming silently on my lips. Yeah, it’s not like that at all. It’s like punching a brick wall, and it hurts. Pain vibrates through my fingers and into my wrist. And the damn thing doesn’t even budge.

I shake my hand out and try again. And again, and again, and again. There’s a burgeoning frustration in my gut that’s fueling my punches, despite the pain, but no matter how hard I hit it, the bag won’t move.

The frustration turns to anger. It’s making me mad, that I have no power or control over this stupid inanimate object, that no matter how hard I try I can’t make anything happen, and before I realize what’s happening, I’ve resorted to wrapping my arms around it, pressing my forehead against the foul-smelling rubber, and pounding the crap out of it in small little bursts from both fists while grunting and cursing.

He has to shout for me to hear him. “What the hell are you doing?”

I spin around, see Miller in the doorway, and lose my balance, collapsing against the bag, which is as unyielding as ever. My chest is heaving uncontrollably, and I bend over in a useless attempt to catch my breath. Eventually I manage to stand up. And make a face at him. “Do you have some sensor that allows you to catch me at my absolute most humiliating moments?” I have to ask.

“Actually,” he says, glancing over his shoulder, “this time it wasn’t just me. You were attracting quite the crowd, because a class is about to start across the hall. I scared them off, though.”



If you enjoyed this and want to see more, you can click on one of these links and read more about it or buy the book: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Kobo

You can follow the rest of the tour if you’re curious! I encourage you to visit all the wonderful blogs listed below! You can easily get to them by clicking on their name 🙂

Tour Schedule

May 15th
blogs and coffee >> Guest post
Fic Central >> Review
Ammie’s Book Obsession >> Review
Kourtni Reads >> Review
Novels and Necklaces >> Review

May 16th
CBY Book Club >> Excerpt
Maya Hearts Books  >> Excerpt
The Avid Reader >> Interview
Archaeolibrarian – I Dig Good Books! >> Excerpt
Only True Magic >> Review

May 17th
Daydreaming Books >> Review
Rebel Mommy Book Blog  >> Review
Eru Books and Recs >> Review
Writing Pearls >> Review

May 18th
Kindle and Me >> Guest post
Dandelions Inspired >> Review
The Candid Cover  >> Review
Wishful Endings >> Interview
To Be Read >> Review

May 19th
Blushing babes are up all night >> Review
Twirling Book Princess >> Excerpt
Girl vs Books >> Review
Feed Your Fiction Addiction >> Review

You can win a print copy of The Truth About Happily Ever After by clicking anywhere on this paragraph! This will take you to Rafflecopter. Good luck everyone 🙂


The Girl on the Train – Review

22557272The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins – 4.5 stars

325 pages

Published by Riverhead Books on January 13th 2015

Mystery, Fiction

There’s something comforting about the sight of strangers safe at home.



Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning and night. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. Jess and Jason, she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.


And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel goes to the police. But is she really as unreliable as they say? Soon she is deeply entangled not only in the investigation but in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?


I’ve been after this book for months now. The premise is exciting, I really want to get into mystery novels and this one seemed perfect to start my quest into actual non-YA mystery novels. Plus it seems like everywhere I look, someone is holding a hardcover with the words La Chica del Tren printed across the cover.

So much hype, and my goodness, it didn’t disappoint.

I don’t read adult novels, so seeing such complex, interesting, messed-up characters really struck me and I loved it. Rachel, the main character, is an alcoholic and everyone else is either manipulative or simply an asshole.

This is really the story of three women; Rachel, Anna and Megan. Their lives are tightly intertwined, and they all have juicy secrets that make the book thrilling and mind-teasing.

At some points it felt a little slow, but I cannot take more than 0.5 stars, because it wouldn’t be fair. It’s a brilliant mystery novel and feels very real. My chest was rising and falling rushingly all throughout this book. I feel like this is a must-read for everyone who loves reading.

Some reviewers on Goodreads claim this book is over-hyped, but in my opinion, I assure it isn’t. Very troubled people you’ll grow to love await, so pick up a copy as soon as possible!

Have you read this bestseller? What did you think? Do you think it’s overhyped? Let’s talk!

#MayaHeartsTraveling, Booktalk

#MayaHeartsTraveling : Germany 2017

Hey everyone! Yes, I’m still alive!

This past month I’ve been somewhat absent from WordPress. This happened because I went to the lovely country of Germany for a week and kind of forgot about everything? I do like to relax once in a while, so it was nice.

But I’m back, and I’m ready to blog again! I had a lot of fun, but I’m back in the zone and while it might take me a while to get my posting rhythm back, I have a bunch of things planned, including a couple of reviews, talking about my newfound obsession with Brooklyn Nine-Nine and a follow-up on my body-shaming discussion post!


I went to Berlin with my school and fell in LOVE with the gorgeous Mauerpark. There were a lot of brilliant live performances and the weather was so good, much better than the weather in my country (even if Spain is famous for its hot temperatures and whatnot, haha).

We didn’t get to see much because we only spent a day there, but it was all so pretty and I really enjoyed visiting the city!


And the Reichstag… Such an amazing building! Made for some really pretty pictures, like the one above, taken by one of my friends.

I also bought a few books, which is a must every time I travel 🙂 I bought only three, because my mom had warned me about buying too many books while I was there, haha. Here are the covers!

Yes, that last book is in German, even if I have no vocabulary and probably won’t understand anything, I thought it would be interesting to give it a try! I’m halfway through Hidden Figures and loving it 🙂

I was also going to buy The Girl on the Train when I saw it at the airport, but something told me not to, and when I came back home, it was waiting on my desk, thanks to my mom. I love her.

It was a great trip! I made a lot of new friends in Germany and I learned a lot. I hope you guys didn’t miss me too much while I was gone! Do tell me about your latest posts I might have missed in the comments!

Have you ever been to Germany? What is your favorite country? Have you read any of the books I bought? Let’s talk!


BLOG TOUR: Meg & Linus – Excerpt + Giveaway

Today I’m giving you the chance to read an excerpt of Meg and Linus, a book by Hannah Nowinski that released just two days ago, on April 18th. There’s also a great giveaway waiting for you at the bottom of the page. This is part of the blog tour organized by Xpresso Book Tours, so you can go over to this page and check out the others’ reviews if you happen to like this! It looks amazing:

Continue reading “BLOG TOUR: Meg & Linus – Excerpt + Giveaway”