Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Interview with Megan Shepherd, author of Grim Lovelies, and US giveaway of Grim Lovelies ARC Box!

Dear Readers:
I have had the immense pleasure and honor of reading Grim Lovelies ahead of it's pub date (Thanks, HMH Teen!), and I absolutely loved it! Now I get to do the fun part-- ramping up excitement for this amazing book and author!

37570566Goodreads Book Description: Seventeen-year-old Anouk envies the human world, where people known as Pretties lavish themselves in fast cars, high fashion, and have the freedom to fall in love. But Anouk can never have those things, because she is not really human. Enchanted from animal to human girl and forbidden to venture beyond her familiar Parisian prison, Anouk is a Beastie: destined for a life surrounded by dust bunnies and cinders serving Mada Vittora, the evil witch who spelled her into existence. That is, until one day she finds her mistress murdered in a pool of blood—and Anouk is accused of the crime.

Now, the world she always dreamed of is rife with danger. Pursued through Paris by the underground magical society known as the Haute, Anouk and her fellow Beasties only have three days to find the real killer before the spell keeping them human fades away. If they fail, they will lose the only lives they’ve ever known…but if they succeed, they could be more powerful than anyone ever bargained for.

From New York Times bestselling author Megan Shepherd, Grim Lovelies is an epic and glittering YA fantasy. Prepare to be spellbound by the world of Grim Lovelies, where secrets have been long buried, friends can become enemies, and everything—especially humanity—comes at a price.


My rating: 5 couches

My Review:  I loved this book. It's beautifully written and the world building is fantastic. I loved the locations and descriptions, which usually aren't my thing. The protagonist, Anouk, is very likeable and grows a lot in this book. She is naive and hesitant initially but not annoyingly so. The side characters are really interesting with very distinct personalities so it's very easy to tell them apart, which can sometimes be very hard. I loved the magic in this book, and the pacing is great. I am so utterly excited for the next book. Now I have to pick up all of Shepherd's others books because she is that talented!

Blurb about Megan:

New York Times bestselling author Megan Shepherd grew up in her family’s independent bookstore in the Blue Ridge Mountains. She is the author of many acclaimed middle grade and young adult novels. She now lives and writes on a 125-year-old farm outside Asheville, North Carolina, with her husband and baby, two cats, and an especially scruffy dog.



Follow Megan!

Interview with the author

1. I love the idea behind Grim Lovelies, and how you merged a lot of fairy tales together for this story. What fairy tales in particular inspired you for this book (or retellings) and what is your favorite fairy tale and why?

I grew up on Disney movies so those are the versions of fairy tales closest to my heart. Cinderella was a huge influence, particularly the mice that are turned into servants by the fairy godmother. I was also influenced by other Disney animal sidekicks: Sebastian from the Little Mermaid, Abu from Aladdin, Meeko from Pocahontas This is the story of secondary characters who grew up hearing fairy tales and never realized they were living in one of their own.


2. Anouk was a favorite character of mine. Can you tell us how you develop your characters and if plot or characters come first?

I always start my books with a premise. In this case, it was “what about those animals-turned-human-servants in fairy tales?” The character of Anouk instantly formed in my mind. In a way, she’s a “Cinderella” character, in the sense that she is made to sweep floors for a wicked stepmother type, and of course she also fills the role of the “mice” characters: Cinderella’s servants and helpers. I would even argue she is also the “Fairy Godmother” character, as she makes her own magic in this book!


3. If the main characters could be sorted into houses at Hogwarts, which house would they go to? What is your Hogwarts house? (you can ignore this question if you haven't read Harry Potter)

Anouk would be full on Griffendor. She may be quiet, but she’s quietly brave.


4. What magical world would you live in if you could?

Middle Earth. When I was younger, I’d want to have lived in the ethereal world of the elves, but now I like the idea of cozy little hobbit burrows and lots of good hearty food and parties.


5. What is the best thing a fan has ever told you?

Any response I get from a fan is the best. Anyone who takes time to write a letter, draw fan art from the books, come to an event, or dress up like the characters makes me feel on top of the world. And yes, I read every letter and every comment on social media and appreciate every one!


6. What do you have on the horizon? Sequel to Grim Lovelies hopefully!

Absolutely! The sequel to Grim Lovelies (title hasn’t been announced yet…) is finished and in the hands of my editor.

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And now you guys get the chance to win an absolutely spectacular ARC box from HMH teen (thanks to the publisher for supplying a box for this great giveaway!). Believe me, you'll want to win this!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
 

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Review of Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

Dear All:
It's been a while since I had a post, but I wanted to write a review on a book that a lot of people are highly anticipating! It's definitely worth a read, and Novik fans should start (if they aren't already) getting excited for it!
Spinning Silver
Goodreads Description: Miryem is the daughter and granddaughter of moneylenders... but her father isn't a very good one. Free to lend and reluctant to collect, he has loaned out most of his wife's dowry and left the family on the edge of poverty--until Miryem steps in. Hardening her heart against her fellow villagers' pleas, she sets out to collect what is owed--and finds herself more than up to the task. When her grandfather loans her a pouch of silver pennies, she brings it back full of gold.

But having the reputation of being able to change silver to gold can be more trouble than it's worth--especially when her fate becomes tangled with the cold creatures that haunt the wood, and whose king has learned of her reputation and wants to exploit it for reasons Miryem cannot understand.


My Rating: 4 couches

My review: Novik is undoubtedly a wonderful writer. There's a reason she is a NYT bestseller and her previous novel Uprooted took the world by storm. Spinning Silver is imaginative, rooted in Jewish history, and has some terrific characters. In particular, the main character Miryem and the soon to be Tsarina are very compelling and their stories intertwine to determine the fate of their world. The reason I wasn't completely head over heels is because it was a little long (like Uprooted), and the other 4 perspectives were rather lost on me. To me, it took me out of the story. Also, there was nothing denoting different perspectives so it was jarring to just have paragraph breaks-- however, I read the advanced reader copy and the finished copy may be different.

Overall, a beautifully written and unique retelling of Rumpelstiltskin with two really great, strong female protagonists.


Monday, April 30, 2018

Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young Blog Tour: Excerpt


 
 
Dear Readers:
I'm so glad that I get the chance to promote this wonderful book on the blog tour. I really enjoyed reading it and I'm sure you will too! It reminded me of the Ivory and Bone series. Anyway, I have an excellent treat for you all. You get to read a tantalizing snippet that will make you all want to buy the book!
 
Book Description: OND ELDR. BREATHE FIRE.

Raised to be a warrior, seventeen-year-old Eelyn fights alongside her Aska clansmen in an ancient rivalry against the Riki clan. Her life is brutal but simple: fight and survive. Until the day she sees the impossible on the battlefield—her brother, fighting with the enemy—the brother she watched die five years ago.

Faced with her brother's betrayal, she must survive the winter in the mountains with the Riki, in a village where every neighbor is an enemy, every battle scar possibly one she delivered. But when the Riki village is raided by a ruthless clan thought to be a legend, Eelyn is even more desperate to get back to her beloved family.

She is given no choice but to trust Fiske, her brother’s friend, who sees her as a threat. They must do the impossible: unite the clans to fight together, or risk being slaughtered one by one. Driven by a love for her clan and her growing love for Fiske, Eelyn must confront her own definition of loyalty and family while daring to put her faith in the people she’s spent her life hating.
 
***
A little about the amazing author, Adrienne Young!
Adrienne Young is a born and bred Texan turned California girl. She is a foodie with a deep love of
history and travel and a shameless addiction to coffee. When she’s not writing, you can find her
on her yoga mat, scouring antique fairs for old books, sipping wine over long dinners, or
disappearing into her favorite art museums. She lives with her documentary filmmaker husband
and their four little wildlings beneath the West Coast sun.
 

And now for the amazing excerpt...
*** 

“I saw him. I saw Iri.
He wrapped the torn cloth around my arm, tying it tight. What are you talking about?”
I pushed his hands from me, crying. “Listen to me! Iri was here! I saw him!
His hands finally stilled, confusion lighting in his eyes. “I was fighting a man. He was about to ... I shuddered, remembering how close to death I’d come—closer than I’d ever been. “Iri came out of the fog and saved me. He was with the Riki. I stood, taking his hand and pulling him toward the tree line. We have to find him!
But my father stood like a stone tucked into the earth. His face turned up toward the sky, his eyes blinking against the sunlight.
“Do you hear me? Iri’s alive!” I shouted, holding my arm against my body to calm the violent throbbing around the gash.
His eyes landed on me again, tears gathered at the cor- ners like little white flames. “Sigr. He sent Iri’s soul to save you, Eelyn.
What? No.
“Iri’s made it to Sólbjǫrg. His words were frightening and delicate, betraying a tenderness my father never showed. He stepped forward, looking down into my eyes with a smile. “Sigr has favored you, Eelyn.
Mýra stood behind him, her green eyes wide beneath her unraveling auburn braids.
“But—” I choked. “I saw him.
“You did. A single tear rolled down my father’s rough cheek and disappeared into his beard. He pulled me into him, wrapping his arms around me, and I closed my eyes, the pain in my arm so great now that I could hardly feel my hand.
I blinked, trying to understand. I had seen him. He was there.
We will make a sacrifice tonight. He let me go before he pressed his hands to my face again. “I don’t think Ive ever heard you scream for me like that. You scared me, sváss. A laugh was buried deep in his chest.
“I’m sorry, I murmured. “I just . . . I thought . . .
He waited for me to meet his eyes again. “His soul is at peace. Your brother saved your life today. Be happy. He clapped a hand against my good arm, nearly knocking me down.
I wiped at my wet cheeks with the palm of my hand, turn- ing from the faces that were still watching me. There were very few times I’d cried in front of my clansmen. It made me feel small. Weak, like the early winter grass beneath our boots.
I sniffed back the tears, piecing my face back together as my father nodded in approval. It was what he had taught me—to be strong. To steel myself. He turned back to the field, getting to work, and I followed with Mýra, trying to smooth my ragged breath. To hush the waves crashing in my head. We walked toward our camp, collecting the weapons of fallen Aska warriors along the way. I watched my father from the corner of my eye, still unable to shake Iri’s face from my mind.
My feet stopped at the edge of a puddle and I looked at my reflection. Dirt spattered across my angled face and neck. Blood dried in long, golden braids. Eyes a frozen blue, like Iri’s. I sucked in a breath, looking up to the thin white clouds brushed across the sky to keep another tear from falling.
“Here,” Mýra called to me from where she was crouched over an Aska woman. She was lying on her side, eyes open and arms extended like she was reaching for us.
I carefully unbuckled her belt and scabbard, piling them with the others before I started on the armor vest. “Did you know her?”
“A little. Mýra reached down to close the woman’s eyes with her fingertips. She gently brushed the hair back from her face before she began, the words coming softly. “Aska, you have reached your journey’s end.
In the next breath, I joined with her, saying the ritual words we knew by heart. We ask Sigr to accept your soul into Sólbjǫrg, where the long line of our people hold torches on the shadowed path.
My voice faded, letting Mýra speak first. Take my love to my father and my sister. Ask them to keep watch for me. Tell them my soul follows behind you.
I closed my eyes as the prayer found a familiar place on my tongue. Take my love to my mother and my brother. Ask them to keep watch for me. Tell them my soul follows behind you.
I swallowed down the lump in my throat before I opened my eyes and looked down into the womans peaceful face one more time. I hadn’t been able to say the words over Iri’s body the way I had when my mother died, but Sigr had taken him anyway.
“Have you ever seen something like that before?” I whispered. “Something that wasn’t real?”
Mýra blinked. “It was real. Iri’s soul is real.
“But he was older—a man. He spoke to me. He touched me, Mýra.
She stood, shifting an armful of axes up onto her shoulder. “I was there that day, Eelyn. Iri died. I saw it with my own eyes. That was real.” It was the same battle that took Mýra’s sister. We’d been friends before that day, but we hadn’t really needed each other until then.
I remembered it so clearly—the picture of him like a reflection on ice. Iri’s lifeless body at the bottom of the trench. Lying across the perfect white snow, blood seeping out around him in a melted pool. I could still see his blond hair fanned out around his head, his empty eyes wide open and staring into nothing.
“I know.
Mýra reached up, squeezing my shoulder. “Then you know it wasn’t Iri—not his flesh.
I nodded, swallowing hard. I prayed for Iri’s soul every day. If Sigr had sent him to protect me, he really was in Sólbjǫrgour people’s final sunset. “I knew he would make it. I breathed through the tightness in my throat.
We all did. A small smile lifted on her lips.
I looked back down to the woman lying between us. We would leave her as she was—as she died—with honor. Like we did with all our fallen warriors.
Like we’d left Iri.
Was he as handsome as he was before?” Mýra’s smile turned wry as her eyes flickered back up to meet mine.
“He was beautiful,” I whispered.
***

Doesn't this make you want to go out and buy the book now? Dooooo it!