Friday, July 19, 2019

Interview with Daniel Cohen, author of Coldmaker and INT giveaway!

Dear Readers:
I had the immense pleasure of interacting with the author, Daniel Cohen, on twitter when he very graciously gave away some of his ARCs by other authors. He also sent me a copy of his book, Coldmaker, and I really enjoyed it! I am excited to share it with you as well. To pay his generosity forward, I am giving away a mystery package of a few arcs (there will be a 2019 in it), so make sure to read everything and enter to win! If you are INT, I will send a few small swag items. And now, without further ado...

Coldmaker Goodreads description: Eight hundred years ago, the Jadans angered the Crier. In punishment, the Crier took their Cold away, condemning them to a life of enslavement in a world bathed in heat.

Or so the tale goes.

During the day, as the Sun blazes over his head, Micah leads the life of any Jadan slave, running errands through the city of Paphos at the mercy of the petty Nobles and ruthless taskmasters.

But after the evening bells have tolled and all other Jadans sleep, Micah escapes into the night in search of scraps and broken objects, which once back inside his barracks he tinkers into treasures.

However, when a mysterious masked Jadan publicly threatens Noble authority, a wave of rebellion ripples through the city.

With Paphos plunged into turmoil, Micah’s secret is at risk of being exposed. And another, which has been waiting hundreds of years to be found, is also on the verge of discovery…

The secret of Cold.

My review: 4 couches. I have not been impressed by many fantasies this year, and while I'm not positive which genre this book fits in, it drew me in like a proper fantasy. The world building was fascinating and the main character compelling. We learn secrets of his world as he does, and our outrage increases as he realizes everything that he's learned hasn't necessarily been the truth. The other characters are interesting, except one in particular, I'm not sure exactly if I trust him-- I don't really understand him to be quite honest. I feel like either there is a story there that hasn't been told yet, or something is missing. Despite that, the story comes together very nicely. It's interesting that the author writes in his acknowledgements some of the big names that inspired this book-- Patrick Rothfuss and Sanderson, because I felt their imprint on Cohen's work in a good way. I'm looking forward to the sequel!

More about our author: Having spent most of his life trapped in the frozen tundra of upstate New York, Daniel Cohen decided to dream himself somewhere new. It was from this quest for heat that the scorching world of COLDMAKER was born.

In addition to his writing career, Daniel is a semi-professional saxophonist in Austin, Texas, spending his days in front of the page and his nights in front of crowds. Sometimes the crowds cheer, and Daniel often wishes the page would do the same.

1. I absolutely love the world building in your book and about cold. Can you tell us first about your process of developing this world, any research you did/had to do, and what inspired cold as the starting point?

First and foremost, I wanted to explore a societal structure where the currency had a high inherent value, instead of just an assumed value.

Basically I wanted to explore the barter system on steroids.

I wanted the reader to feel the need for a particular currency, which in this world happens to be Cold itself, coming in five varying denominations (from least to most potent: Wisps, Drafts, Shivers, Chills, and the most holy of all, the Frost).
Even though the cold/hot trope has been widely explored, I’ve always found the idea of barren landscape to be simultaneously poetic and devastating. How do native peoples, desert travelers, and vagabonds survive in such harsh conditions? It takes a certain level of ingenuity (enter MICAH, the inventor protagonist of COLDMAKER) and a driving sense of survival in order to carry on. I figured a land as hot and barren as they come would give me the perfect set-up for this kind of desperate world, making Cold itself the currency, which automatically bestows that inherent value.

2. Micah was a great character as well as one of the main characters, Shilah. Can you tell us how you develop your characters and if plot or characters come first?

I’m one of the designated ‘pantser’ writers, who frantically find the story as they go along. On the first pass I find plot lifts the heaviest corner, and then on the second draft I begin to discover the characters and their motivations. Usually there’s a nice semblance of their deeper desires already on the page, and often I’m pleasantly surprised by how I’m not meeting my characters so much as they’ve already been their waiting.

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)

Well, both intuition and the official Pottermore test have told me that I’m a Ravenclaw. As for the main characters:

Micah= Ravenclaw

Abb= Gryffindor

Shilah = Gryffindor

Cam= Hufflepuff

4. What was the easiest part about writing this book? The hardest?

I’ve written nine novels, and some of them have come out as easy as an old breath, but I can’t say anything about COLDMAKER was easy. In fact, it’s conception and delivery were among the most painful bouts of my life. Front to back the process was five years of near agony. I think I put too much of myself into the book, which is great for the final product, but was terrible for my health, physically, mentally, and emotionally.

5. I have a lot of close friends that are authors. One thing they have always told me is to keep my day job, and have writing as a side job. Do you agree/disagree? Why or why not?

Considering I have two day jobs…. Strongly Agree.

6. Do you have beta readers? Why or why not?

I do, and I find beta readers invaluable. Mostly because writing is such a lonely art, and novels often take years before they’re ready to share with the world. It’s nice to have someone in the trenches with you while you're fighting and waiting. 

7. What has been your favorite read so far this year? What book inspired you the most to be an author and why?

Okay, so if anyone ends up following me on Twitter and scrolling through my history, they are likely to find an uncomfortable amount of reverential posts centered around a writer named ‘Theodore Sturgeon’. I discovered him last year, and I think he very well might be the greatest SFF short story writer of the twentieth century. His prose was consistently brilliant, tricky, inventive, as well as prolific, and I seriously can’t get enough. Fun Fact: he was the basis for Vonnegut’s famous Kilgore Trout.

“The Name of the Wind” by Patrick Rothfuss made me want to write fantasy. I would be doing the book injustice if I said anything other than it’s a true MUST-read.

Other writers who consistently inspire me are:

Ted Chiang – IMO the greatest living SFF writer
Neil Gaiman
Ottessa Moshfegh
Philip K. Dick
William Goldman
Greg Egan
Brandon Sanderson 

8. What do you have on the horizon? Hopefully more in the Coldmaker series?

So the sequel to Coldmaker (Coldmarch) was actually released by HarperVoyager UK last November and I have the third and final book in the series (Coldmyth) scheduled to come out this upcoming January!

I loved his answers! And now, enter the giveaway!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, July 15, 2019

Revamped Blog! New design, new posts!

Dear Readers:
Look at the amazing new blog design that Alex (Blonde with Books) has put together! I'm totally in love. I feel like this signifies the new leaf that I'm turning over in general. My family and I have gone through a lot in the past year and I have a new chronic illness that I'm battling. But books have kept me going, and I am so grateful for that. I'd like to put more content on here, so that's one of my many goals. But because of life and physical/mental restrictions that I didn't have before, be patient with me as the posts will go up more slowly.

What you can expect:
1. A week of posts (may be spread out over several weeks depending on how I'm feeling) about Marie Lu, one of my all time favorite authors. I'll be reminiscing over her past series (Legend, Young Elites, Warcross), gushing over her new upcoming releases (Rebel and The Kingdom of Back!), chatting about our amazing get together at ALA a month ago, and doing a small giveaway!
2. More Writer's Cramp entries. I am now writing pretty regularly with a friend of mine. Our pen name will be Kimberly Kate (a combo of our middle names). I love the stuff we are coming up with and would love to share it with all of you!
3. Author interviews! I have two I've been sitting on because of health issues, but I hope to get them done soon.
4. Giveaways as I can! I am low on funds as of the moment, but I'll do what I can.

I hope you are all having a good year and managing to stay cool for the most part. I feel lucky to have this platform and have dedicated readers that have stayed with me over the years. You guys are the reason I keep doing what I do!

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Long Time No See... I'm headed to ALA next week!

Dear Readers:
Sorry I've been gone for so long. I promise to have a long post about what I've been going through personally once I figure out more myself, but until then, I have some exciting news! I am going to my first book event! I'm headed to Washington D.C. for ALA (American Library Association), and meeting some bloggers in real life that I've known through Twitter for a long time. And meeting up with some old blogger friends (ahem, @breezymonstar I'm looking at you!). I never thought I would get a chance to go to one, because hey, I have 2 kids under 5 years old! But then, I have an amazing, supportive husband and a wonderful mother who comes and babysits. So I get to skip town for a couple of days to be around ALL THE BOOKS and geek out with other book lovers. Stay posted for a post about that!

Also, I plan to overhaul my blog soon, thanks to a wonderful friend, Alex (Blonde with Books) and have some exciting new design plans.

In other news, watch out for giveaways, author interviews, reviews, and a recap of last night's #FierceReadsTour stop in Missouri!

Monday, January 7, 2019

Pre-order Campaign for STAIN by AG Howard

 Dear All:
I know it's been a long time since I posted, but I'm excited to introduce the Pre-order campaign for STAIN by the amazing AG Howard! We all (including me) fell head over heels for her writing after Splintered-- I mean Morpheus is SO SEXY! And her followups were just as good! So we all need to get our hands on this one.

Goodreads Book Description: A high-fantasy gothic fairytale inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s The Princess and the Pea.

Once upon a nightmare, her fairy tale begins...

After Lyra—a princess incapable of speech or sound—is cast out of her kingdom of daylight by her wicked aunt, a witch saves her life, steals her memories, and raises her in an enchanted forest ... disguised as a boy known only as Stain. Meanwhile, in Lyra's rival kingdom, the prince of thorns and night is dying, and the only way for him to break his curse is to wed the princess of daylight, for she is his true equal. As Lyra rediscovers her identity, an impostor princess prepares to steal her betrothed prince and her crown. To win back her kingdom, save the prince, and make peace with the land of the night, Lyra must be loud enough to be heard without a voice, and strong enough to pass a series of tests—ultimately proving she’s everything a traditional princess is not.

And look at this gorgeous cover!!!!
 STAIN by A.G. Howard.jpg

So how do you get the pre-order prize? Easy peasy (yes, the pun was totally intended). All you have to do is pre-order A.G. Howard’s forthcoming book from your favorite retailer, then complete the form here.

 STAIN preorder.jpg

A.G. Howard_author photo.jpg
AG is one of the sweetest authors of all time. If you haven't interacted with her on social media, give her a shout out! She is so great! For those of you who don't know her, here is a little blurb about her:  

#1 New York Times and International bestselling Author of Gothic / Fantasy & Paranormal tales. Mystical & romantic with a side of horror. YA, NA, and Literary Romance. Repped by Jenny Bent.

A.G. was inspired to write the Splintered Series, her tribute to Carroll's Wonderland, while working at a school library. Her pastimes are reading, rollerblading, gardening, and family vacations which often include impromptu side trips to 18th century graveyards or condemned schoolhouses to appease her overactive muse.

A.G. Howard’s blog post about the preorder campaign: here
STAIN by A.G. Howard book page: here
Twitter accounts: A.G. Howard // Pique
Instagram accounts: A.G. Howard // Pique
Facebook accounts: A.G. Howard // Pique

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.


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