Monday, September 30, 2013

Countdown to YallFest - An Inteview With Kami Garcia

So...have I convinced anybody to make the trip to Charleston yet?  Come on, you know you want to.  So many fantastic authors together in one place - it will be like Christmas in November :)

Today's interview is with an author I have not read...yet.  But I am familiar with her Beautiful Creatures Novels AND the Unbreakable, the first book in her new series comes out TOMORROW! Both of her series are on my list and I am excited to learn more.


(from Goodreads)
Kami Garcia is the #1 New York Times, USA Today, Publishers Weekly, Wall Street Journal & international bestselling co-author of the Beautiful Creatures Novels (Beautiful Creatures, Beautiful Darkness, Beautiful Chaos & Beautiful Redemption). Beautiful Creatures has been published in 50 countries and translated in 39 languages. The Beautiful Creatures movie released in theaters on February 14, 2013.

Kami is also the author of Unbreakable, the first book her paranormal solo series, THE LEGION (coming October 1, 2013.

Kami grew up outside of Washington DC, wore lots of black, and spent hours writing poetry in spiral notebooks. As a girl with Southern roots, she has always been fascinated by the paranormal and believes in lots of things “normal” people don’t. She’s very superstitious and would never sleep in a room with the number “13″ on the door. When she is not writing, Kami can usually be found watching disaster movies, listening to Soundgarden, or drinking Diet Coke.

Kami has an MA in education, and taught in the Washington DC area until she moved to Los Angeles, where she was a teacher & Reading Specialist for 14 years. In addition to teaching, Kami was a professional artist and led fantasy book groups for children and teens. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, son, daughter, and their dogs Spike and Oz (named after characters from Buffy the Vampire Slayer).


What one thing do you need to have when you write?
I need three things: my laptop, my headphones, and Diet Coke.
Describe your book in 5 words
Paranormal. Ghost-hunting. Intense. Romance. Secret Societies.
Tell us 5 random facts about yourself.
1. I don’t know how to ride a bike. 
2. I used to be an artist (a painter). 
3. I won’t fly without my huge charm necklace that I believe will keep the plane from crashing. 
4. I believe in ghosts. 
5. Every time I write a book, I worry that everyone will hate it.
What are you working on now?
I am working on the second book in the Legion Series, the sequel to Unbreakable. Like Unbreakable, the sequel is very intense and has plenty of paranormal elements. But I think it’s even more romantic and surprising than the first book.
What is your favorite genre to write in? To Read?
My favorite genre to write is definitely urban fantasy/paranormal romance. I love to read paranormal, but I am also a huge fan of horror, crime fiction, high fantasy, and science fiction.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Countdown to YallFest -- An Interview With Veronica Rossi

Six weeks from today I will be on the road.  SIX WEEKS!!!!!  And pretty much, this is me every day. 

Today's Q&A is with author Veronica Rossi, author of the Under the Never Sky series.  The third book in the series comes out in January, so if you haven't read the first 2, you have plenty of time to take care of that in time for the release of  Into the Still Blue.  What are you waiting for?  On a related note, I am lucky enough to have been able to get my hands on an ARC of this book so look for a review on this blog in the near future.


Veronica Rossi is the author of post-apocalyptic fiction for young adults. Her debut novel, UNDER THE NEVER SKY, is the first in a trilogy. Released in January 2012, it was deemed one of the Best Books of Year by School Library Journal. The second book in the trilogy, THROUGH THE EVER NIGHT, debuted in January on the NY Times and USA Today Best Seller Lists. The final book in the series, INTO THE STILL BLUE, is expected to release January 2014.

Foreign rights to the UNDER THE NEVER SKY trilogy have sold in over twenty-five territories to date and film rights have been optioned by Warner Bros.

She completed undergraduate studies at UCLA and then went on to study fine art at the California College of the Arts in San Francisco. She lives in Northern California with her husband and two sons. When not writing, she enjoys reading, painting, and counting down the minutes until she can get back to making up stories about imaginary people. 


What is the hardest line to write- the first or the last?

Yeah, those.  And all the ones in between!

Best writing tip you ever received?
 $5. Just kidding. Um… tip… I think it’s probably to allow yourself to suck when writing early drafts. It takes away a lot of the fear of generating good material. It’s not easy to be creative when you’re judging your work.      

Tell us 5 random facts about yourself.

1.  In the past year, I've discovered a deep love of Brussel sprouts
2.  I talk to myself.  Heck.  Sometimes I argue with myself.
3.  I'm arguing with myself about including that last point at this very moment.
4. My favorite animals are elephants.
5. Dresses with pockets make me happy. 
Where's your favorite place to write?

I usually work in my home office, but I love working in hotel rooms.  No distractions!

What are you working on now?

Something I'm very excited about!  Can't divulge any details yet, but it's an idea that I've been mulling over for years.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Review: The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd

So I've been sitting on this review for a few weeks for a couple of reasons.  First, I've been in probably the worst book slump I've had in years and two, I don't read many books with a horror element, so I'm not really sure how to even talk about it.

Except that I found myself really enjoying it, so I feel like I NEED to talk about it.

Coming back to the fact that I don't read many "scary" books, I don't know much about the foundation of this book The Island of Doctor Moreau, but I didn't really find that to be an issue when reading this book.  Back story was included in a way that didn't feel like I was reading a recap and there was enough of it where I was able to read without feeling like I was on the outside of an inside joke.  So on that note, well done Ms. Shepherd.

This story is dark.  Period.  There are twists and turns and some really really scary elements that both fascinated me a little bit and freaked me out at the same time.  The whole "playing God" thing and how it can get out of hand...yeah, I'm not going to get into the real life parallels or anything but I definitely found myself thinking about them long after I finished reading.  I love it when books do that -- when I can be completely sucked in by the plot, imagery and descriptions while reading, but then have the themes and tropes linger into my own introspection and thoughts when I don't even have the book in my hands.

There is a love triangle in this book, but honestly, it didn't really take over the story for me -- but what I did notice is that I really didn't have a "favorite".  I liked Montgomery.  I liked Edward.  I liked that Juliet was conflicted, but not a doormat.  This story was not overrun with swoony moments, and while I'll be the first to admit that I am a sucker for good "swoonage", they would have been out of place with the tone and darkness of this book.  Is "dark swoonage" a thing?  Because maybe it could be called that?  Whatever it was, it worked.

I read this book right before my book rut started...and I think it was a good thing.  It had a little bit of everything.  Historical elements, the creepy factor, some romance, the fantasy...and the WHAT JUST HAPPENED HERE ending that makes me really excited for the next book.

I definitely recommend it to anybody who is having an "I can't decide what I want to read moment."

 **On a side note, I had the chance to briefly meet Ms. Shepherd at the BookMarks Festival this month and she is lovely :) 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Countdown to YallFest - An Interview With Ransom Riggs

45 DAYS TO GO!!!!!  

Today's interview is with Ransom Riggs and I am super excited about it.  His book, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, is on the top of my to-read list.  The cover fascinates me in both a creepy and an "I can't look away" way.  I think we were meant to be friends.  For real.  I'll let you know how it goes when I tell him this next month :)


I grew up in Florida, went to Kenyon College in Ohio, then film school at USC in LA, where I still live. I write books and screenplays, blog daily for, and make short films.

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children is my first novel. I'm really excited about it -- it was challenging and rewarding and I hope people like it. If you read that and like the found photographs in it, you might be interested in a book comprised entirely of found photographs that I have coming out January 2012 from HarperCollins. It's called Talking Pictures. You can find sneak peeks by doing a search for "mental floss talking pictures" (I included a number of images in blogs there) and I made a kinda-sorta book trailer for it, which is on my youtube page:

Also, watch out for a Miss Peregrine book trailer, which I'm working on right now! I get to go to Belgium and film inside creepy abandoned chateaus, which I'm *really* looking forward to.


What one thing do you need to have when you write?

Silence.  My noice-cancelling headphones have become almost essential.

What is the hardest line to write- the first or the last?

The first.  I rewrite and rewrite it a million times.  The last comes easy.

Tell us 5 random facts about yourself.

I'm six foot four.  I lived on a working farm until I was five.  I used to know how to cook Indian food but now I've forgotten.  I love documentaries.  One day, I will conquer the moon.

What are you working on now?

A novel for Little, Brown - the plot of which is SECRET! (Sort of, for now.  But I'm really excited about it.)

What is your favorite genre to write in? To Read?
Oh, definitely YA to write in.  I read everything, lots of YA, lots of adult, nonfiction of all sorts.  I even read poetry when I'm feeling ambitious.  I think it's crucial to have lots of different influences.  If you only read in the genre you write in, your writing will sound like everything else that's already out there.  

Monday, September 23, 2013

Countdown to YallFest -- An Interview With Rainbow Rowell

47 days until YallFest, not that I'm...ok, I'm totally counting :)  Today's interview is with one of my new favorites, Rainbow Rowell - fitting since this is Banned Books Week and one of her books, Eleanor and Park, has recently been banned by a county in Minnesota because of **gasp** profanity. 

(You can read more about that ridiculousness here

Anyhoo, on to the good stuff :)

Rainbow Rowell is the author of ATTACHMENTS, ELEANOR & PARK, and FANGIRL.  

Rainbow lives with her husband and two sons in Omaha, Nebraska.  Right at this moment, she is probably arguing with someone about something that doesn't really matter in the big scheme of things -- or trying to figure out how Sherlock faked his death.  

Blog and other stuff and

What one thing do you need to have when you write?

Lip balm.

Describe your book in 5 words.

FANGIRL - Earnest, snowy, swoony, minty bookish

What is the hardest line to write - the first or the last?

The whole first page is a nightmare.  I want people to just skip it.  And I always end up rewriting it.

Best writing tip you ever received?

"Just finish your book." 

What one young adult novel do you wish you had when you were a teen?  Why?

Homecoming by Cynthia Voigt.  I think it would have made me feel less alone.              

Where's your favorite place to write?

At coffee shops.  In giant overstuffed chairs.

What are you working on now?

I'm revising my adult novel, Landline, which comes out in Spring 2014, and playing with a romantic/political/tragicomic fantasy.

What is your favorite genre to write?  To read?

I write mostly contemporary.  I read mostly fantasy.

At what point in the development of an idea do you know that it will become a full-length

All of my ideas are full-length novels.  I have a hard time narrowing my scope. 

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Blog Tour, Giveaway and Review: Atone by Jessica Grey

Yes, I know it has been a while, but I'm back and hopefully won't disappear like that again any time soon. **fingers crossed**  Who knew that getting in the Back-To-School routine would shake things up like it did. 

I am super excited to be a part of the Blog Tour for Atone: A Fairytale by Jessica Grey.  The second I saw the cover I knew I neeeeeded to read it.  I mean, just look at it!

Atone: A Fairytale by Jessica Grey
(A Fairytale Trilogy #2)
Publication date: June 30th 2013
Genres: Fairy Tales, Fantasy, Young Adult
Purchase Links:   Amazon     Barnes & Noble

Becca Ward knows that magic is real…

Two years ago not only had she and her best friend Alex found a real-life Sleeping Beauty in the middle of Los Angeles, they also discovered that they were powerful in their own right. They’ve managed to keep both their fae powers and their friend Lilia’s identity as a medieval princess a secret and live a normal life. Now their normalcy is threatened by the return of their former advisor at the Gem and Mineral Museum—and Becca’s least favorite person, Nicholas Hunt.

…and she’s about to find out that more than one fairy tale is true.

Nicholas has been obsessed with proving Lilia’s identity and the existence of magic. While working on an archeology dig he discovered an ancient fae artifact—a mirror that is imbued with a powerful protection spell that twists his obsession, and his body, until he is more beast than man. In order to protect her friends, Becca is forced to help him, and she is surprised to find that in spite of his outward appearance, Nicholas is no longer the beast she remembers. Will she let herself be the beauty that breaks the curse, or will she let her prejudice against him stop her from discovering true love?
Atone is a retelling of my favorite fairytale, Beauty and the Beast, and is the second in Ms. Grey's Fairytale Series.  Since we all know the basic premise of that story, I don't feel the need to restate the obvious, but don't assume that you know everything there is to know about this version.

Because Ms. Grey adds Fae.  (How much of a goof does that make me that I'm a little excited that that rhymed?)

Without giving too much away, the story's heroine, Becca, is thrown into a situation that requires her to assist with Nicholas with a situation that is a bit...hairy.  Now knowing what I know from the first book, I wasn't exactly sure how this was going to work.  Let's just say that I realllly didn't like Nicholas at all.  Not even a little bit.  But once I had a chance to think about it and once I let myself get drawn in by the story, it totally worked for me.  I mean, who better to be the Beast than a bad guy, right?
One thing I do feel the need to include -- While this could technically be read as a standalone as the story comes full circle, I do recommend that you read the first book in the series for back story and more on the ins/outs of Becca and Nicholas's tumultuous history.  
As the story progresses, Ms. Grey takes something traditional and so very well known and makes it her own.  I loved the magical fae element and how it was both the root of the problem and a big part of the solution.  Good/Evil, Beauty/Beast, Terra/ get the picture.   But I also liked the non-fae elements.  While the relationship evolution did seem a bit sudden, I found myself enjoying the scenes between Becca and Nicholas.  The snark, the chemistry, and the many of "awwwwww" moments made this a solid retelling and one I gladly recommend for somebody looking for a quick and easy read.
About the Author:
Jessica Grey is an author, fairytale believer, baseball lover, and recovering Star Wars fangirl. A life-long Californian, she now lives in Montana with her husband and two children where she spends her time writing, perfecting the fine art of toddler-wrangling, and drinking way too much caffeine.

Author Links:


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Monday, September 16, 2013

Cover Reveal - Alchemy by Sheena Boekweg, Melanie Crouse, and Sabrina West

"Do you want me to be dangerous?" he asked, his voice husky and low.
I gulped, and for a moment I was incapable of speech. But he was quiet, waiting. "No. I don't."
"Then I'm not dangerous at all," he murmured. His gaze moved from my eyes to my mouth. "You've never been safer than you are at this moment." I shivered as his breath tickled my skin. Our lips were mere millimeters apart when the sky shattered in a kaleidoscope of colored light. 

We didn’t know how much we had to lose until we were infected with magic. Sam was in love, Juliette was the main caretaker for her siblings, and Ana and her dad planned the best parties in New York. But we lost it all when we were shipped to Chebeague, an exclusive school for newly infected mages.

Everyone knows about the mages, those who survive the infection and end up with magical abilities. We’ve seen the power of magic, the high-paying jobs, and the world fame. But we never saw the cost. We didn’t know we’d be forced to give up everything: sanity, family, even the right to talk on the phone.

We didn’t know mage was just another word for prisoner.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Countdown to YallFest -- Cinda Williams Chima Interview

Two months from today, I will be in Charleston, SC to attend YallFest.  I get to spend an incredible weekend smooshing on tacklehugging hanging out with some of my favorite bookie friends and meeting some of my favorite YA authors.  Just in case you need a bit more clarification, the gif below is an accurate depiction of my feelings: 

Almost as exciting as the big event is the fact that I am one of the lucky bloggers chosen to post interviews from YallFest authors - so look for those on Mondays and Fridays between now and the big day.  It is like the organizers knew I'd need something to keep me occupied :)

So without further ado, let the countdown to YallFest begin!

First up is author Cinda Williams Chima. 

From Goodreads:

New York Times bestselling author Cinda Williams Chima comes from a long line of fortune-tellers, musicians and spinners of tales. She began writing romance novels in middle school, which were often confiscated by her teachers.

The Warrior Heir was named to Voya’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy 2005-2006, is a 2006 Booksense Summer Reading Pick, was named to the 2007-2008 Lone Star Reading List, and was a finalist for the 2006 Great Lakes Book Award. Warrior Heir received a starred review in the Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books and a “Perfect Ten” (5Q, 5P) in Voya. The Wizard Heir also received a “Perfect Ten” from Voya and appears on Voya's Best Science Fiction and Fantasy 2007. The Dragon Heir received a starred review in Kirkus, was named to Kirkus's Best YA 2008 list, was a VOYA Perfect Ten, and is a USA Today, Indie Next, and NYT bestseller.

Chima's Seven Realms series launched with The Demon King in October, 2009.It received a starred review in the Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, was a Voya Perfect Ten and was named to the 2009 Voya Best Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror List. The Exiled Queen followed in September, 2010. It received a starred review from Kirkus, was a Voya Perfect Ten, and a New York Times bestseller. The Gray Wolf Throne follows in September, 2011.

Chima is a graduate of Case Western Reserve University and the University of Akron. Chima is an active member of the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. She has been a workshop leader, panelist, and speaker at writing conferences, including the Northern Ohio SCBWI Conference, the Western Reserve Writers’ Conference, and the World Fantasy Convention. She frequently speaks to young writers and readers at schools and libraries nationwide.

Chima lives in Ohio with her family, and is always working on her next novel.

What one thing do you need to have when you write?

A computer

Describe your book in 5 words

Wizards misbehave, magic goes mutant.

What is the hardest line to write- the first or the last?

Usually the lines in between.

Best writing tip you ever received?

Give yourself permission to write badly.

Tell us 5 random facts about yourself.

1. I am a twin.

2. I am named after a character in a novel.

3. I didn’t really start driving until I was 27.

4. I am descended from Puritans and scoundrels.

5. I used to be in a folk music band.

Where's your favorite place to write?

On a balcony overlooking the ocean.

What are you working on now?

I’m writing The Sorcerer Heir, the fifth book in a trilogy.

At what point in the development of an idea do you know that it will become a full-length novel?

When I’m finished with a full-length novel.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Review: The Ballad by Ashley Pullo

Disclaimer—This is a work of fiction intended for a mature audience. The lack of violence, virgins, love triangles, tragedies and alpha-stalking males may not be suitable for all readers. The Ballad is a Modern Romance designed to involve the reader in the authenticity of life, love and all things in between.

Chloe LeGrange is a singer/songwriter guided by her internal rhythm and raw emotions. Adam Ford is a sexy attorney, disciplined and emotionally guarded. Her impulsive behavior is counter-balanced by his calm composure but a stable relationship can often divert one’s own path to self-discovery.

The Ballad is written in the unique narrative style of Chloe’s lyrical approach to life, with unpredictable crescendos and intimate verses.
How does love start?
When does love end?
Or maybe it’s the middle of the story that really counts, the part when life happens, either propelling the relationship into a beautiful romance or dissolving into a predictable wasteland. Join Chloe and Adam on their journey through the picturesque streets of Brooklyn, so passionate and intense that a simple love story becomes a romantic ballad.

So, this book completely took me by surprise.  I stumbled across it through a post on Facebook of all places and figured why not give it a shot.  

I couldn't put it down.

The story starts in the summer of 2013 and works its way backwards, telling the story of the immense love between Chloe and Adam.  I wasn't sure how that was going to work really, knowing results before the set up.  I love a good Happy Ever After, but this is a Happy Ever Beginning and I'll admit to being a bit confused.  But holy cow, by the third chapter I was loving the concept.

It was like taking a jigsaw puzzle apart slowly piece by pieceInstead of seeing a bunch of jumbled parts in the beginning, we see how each individual moment fits with the others to create the bigger picture.  We see how seemingly insignificant words, phrases, actions become so much more to Chloe and Adam, but not in a glaring "a-ha!" way.  And that's what I really loved.  Don't get me wrong, I am a sucker for Lloyd Dobbler moments, but I also love the little things.  The pinky touches, the silly words, the stories told in secret whispers that only they know.  I love layers.

Ms. Pullo writes beautifully.  Her words and the composition of the story have almost a lyrical quality that make The Ballad seem more than just the title of the story.  The ebbs and flows of the relationship between Adam and Chloe read like song and it is one that I want to listen to over and over.

This review was really difficult to write and Im hoping that when I reread it later, it will make more sense.  But if you take one thing away from my ramblings, it is this - please please please go check this story out.  I finished it 3 days ago and I haven't been able to get it out of my head.