Sunday, September 30, 2012

Part I Shardwell interview and International Giveaway

Welcome back, everyone! I am so excited to introduce my first ever author duo, Christy Hall and Amanda Gerry. One of the reasons I'm so excited (other than the fact that their books are REALLY fun) is that this is a feat that my own sister and I have been playing around with for years. But we have never gotten around to it. Maybe we should!

Anyway, back to the subject at hand. I'd like to introduce the Shardwell series, now two books so far. The first book is Phoenix Angel and the second book is called Guardians of Time.

Phoenix AngelGoodreads Book description of Phoenix Angel: Maggie is a normal teenager, trudging her way through senior year with her best friend, Lily. Then a boy named Kyle Spencer came to Idaho Falls, and since then everything has fallen apart. Something mysterious has passed among the three friends. They are developing terrifying abilities--strange powers that separate them from normal people.

Even worse, someone--or something--has taken a deadly interest in them. They never know when they are going to strike, or how to protect themselves, or even who they are. All friends know is that they want one alive and the others they want dead. Which one will Maggie be?


My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Amazon Review : Phoenix Angel Review

Guardian of TimeGoodreads Book Description of Guardian of Time: A secret has the power to destroy a kingdom.

I have learned this through both isolation and sorrow. My inheritance is a legacy of lies--they flow through my family like poison. Each new morning they become harder to hide.

But now my world is in turmoil. The Second Kingdom has already fallen. Demons rise from its ashes, crossing our borders to slaughter my people. Betrayal threatens to consume all I strive to defend. The Jeweled City is on the brink of war. Only my marriage to a stranger can slow its tide.

How can I choose between duty and love?


My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Amazon Review: Guardian of Time Review

About our Authors. A. Gerry developed an interest in fantasy at a young age. Her fondness for writing comes from many sources, but the most prominent is her devotion to video games. Some of her favorites include Mass Effect, The Elder Scrolls series, and anything that lets her shoot zombies. She received a Bachelor’s Degree from Southern Utah University and teaches at a local charter school. C. Hall has been addicted to the many realms of fantasy and science fiction all her life. A graduate of Southern Utah University, she now teaches at a local charter school. When she isn’t busy designing activities for her Mythology class or going on field trips with the Star Wars Club, she is spending time with her sister. C. Hall’s favorite authors include J.R.R. Tolkien, J.K. Rowling, and Tracy Hickman.

Authors Blog: http://shardwell.wordpress.com

Shardwell website: www.shardwell.com 


Author Interview Part I.
1) I love that you two are sisters and also an author duo. Tell us a little about when you decided you wanted to be a writer.
Both of us have loved reading and watching movies since we were little. I (Christy) am 7 years older than my sister, Amanda, but we both wrote short stories when we hit high school. As we entered our teaching careers (we both teach math at a local charter school) we decided that we wanted to write the stories we loved to read as young adults. One bright, sunny day as my sister and I were on our way to our family’s annual Yellowstone camping trip, she said to me, “Wouldn’t it be interesting to read a book about a girl who was reborn every time she died but couldn’t remember her past?” And the Shardwell Magic series was born.

2) How did you end up writing the book? Did you write alternating chapters? Tell us a little about the joint writing process.
We started by alternating chapters, but we soon learned that was a really messy way to write. Our writing styles are completely different. Amanda focuses on character development and dialogue, I (Christy) paint imagery and get sidetracked by culture and politics. We ended up writing a handful of chapters in Phoenix Angel that way, but they all had to be rewritten in the end.

But as we each discovered out strengths, a pretty intense process developed. We started by brainstorming the whole series. From the beginning we knew it would span 5-6 books. After the general session, we sat down and outlined each book chapter by chapter. After that, I (Christy) research and design whatever culture our characters are about to encounter. I also keep track of the magic system structure, while Amanda makes sure the character relationships follow an exciting route. Then Amanda writes the first draft of the first chapter, all the dialogue and blocking. Then I overwrite it with imagery and detail (Amanda also gives me a paragraph limit for description because I tend to go overboard with it). She reads it one more time to see if I've made any mistakes, and then we move on to the next chapter.

The best part about having two authors is that we catch each other's plot mistakes early on. For example if Amanda has her heart set on a certain scene between two love interest characters, I might point out that it could never happen because it contradicts the magic system. Likewise, when I have a really cool idea about some political intrigue that the antagonists are plotting, she lets me know that our characters are smart enough to figure it out before the trap is sprung. It makes our writing much stronger and less likely to have structural inaccuracy.

3) I especially loved Lily as a character. Did each of you have a favorite character and if so who was it? Were any of the characters mainly written by one of you? Were they based on people you know or some of your own personality traits?
Actually, both of us have characters that we are primarily invested in. Lily and Carter were designed by me (Christy). Lily is the compassionate, patient side of me—a person I strive to be (but for sure never manage!) Carter is the manipulative side of me, the personality I sink to when I really want something and will do anything to get it. Raeylan is also my creation. He is definitely a product of my love for the Japanese culture.

Amanda developed Maggie and Kyle. Maggie's strength is her anger, but it sometimes runs away with her. Kyle is the loyal protector, someone who really reflects my sister's disposition.

The only character who is based on a real person is Mark. When we started he was the token "red shirt," the character who was supposed to die to show how dangerous the situation with Feralblade was. But when it came time to sacrifice him, we just couldn't. When the real Mark read our novel he kept txting us about all his dialogue. Things like "I really would say that!" and "That is totally me." He also has a red truck that was destroyed in high school, just like the character.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Saturday Updates, Poll Results, and NEW international Giveaway

Happy Saturday everyone! Some updates for you...
1) I have extended the Krista Holle giveaway for another week because of the terrific response. Keep entering to try to win this great giveaway!
2) I have been blown away from the response to the Venom giveaway. Thanks so much for all of your support for these great authors.
3) Our next giveaway starts today and stars a sister duo. Please show the same support for them as you did all the rest :-) They have written the Shardwell Series (so far that contains two books, The Phoenix Angel and The Guardian of Time) and have generously offered up a gift certificate as well and three Prize Packs to three lucky winners! Their interview will go up tomorrow so stay posted.
4) I have snagged a couple of great interviews with Beth Revis, the author of Across the Universe, and Caragh O'Brien who is coming out with the final entry in the Birthmarked Trilogy in a few days, Promised. Stay tuned!
5) I just heard from a publisher that I'll be getting my hands on ASUNDER by Jodi Meadows. Depending on when I receive the book, I'll either post a review or add it to her awesome interview that's coming up really soon!

Poll results: Apparently you guys prefer Zombies and Natural disaster (tied at 16%) when it comes to your apocalyptic scenarios. Don't forget to check out the new poll going up today, which has to do with the new giveaway! :-)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

And don't forget to sign up for the other two great giveaways!

1) The Lure of Shapinsay by Krista Holle International Giveaway- giving away a Prize pack containing signed book, T-shirt, and swag OR $20 Amazon gift certificate
 Shapinsay Giveaway

2) International Giveaway of Signed and personalized hard back copy of Venom by Fiona Paul
Venom Giveaway

Friday, September 28, 2012

Feature and Follow (13)

Dear all, thank goodness it's Friday! My first full weekend off in a month is a reason to celebrate!

FF 2012 Feature & Follow #106Feature and Follow Friday is a blog hop hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read

Here are the rules to the blog hop!
To join the fun and make new book blogger friends, just follow these simple rules:

  • (Required) Follow the Follow My Book Blog Friday Hosts {Parajunkee & Alison Can Read}
  • (Required) Follow our Featured Bloggers
  • Put your Blog name & URL in the Linky thing. You can also grab the code if you would like to insert it into your posts.
  • Grab the button up there and place it in a post, this post is for people to find a place to say “hi” in your comments and that they are now following you.
  • If you are using WordPress or another CMS that doesn’t have GFC (Google Friends Connect) state in your posts how you would like to be followed
  • Follow Follow Follow as many as you can, as many as you want, or just follow a few. The whole point is to make new friends and find new blogs. Also, don’t just follow, comment and say hi. Another blogger might not know you are a new follower if you don’t say “HI”
  • If someone comments and says they are following you, be a dear and follow back. Spread the Love…and the followers
  • If you’re new to the follow friday hop, comment and let me know, so I can stop by and check out your blog!

Q: What is the BIGGEST word you’ve seen used in a book lately – that made you stop and look it up? Might as well leave the definition & book too.

Wow. Tough question today. I think that the biggest word that I've seen was "absconded." 

abscondedpast participle, past tense of ab·scond (Verb)

Verb:
  1. Leave hurriedly and secretly, typically to avoid detection or arrest.
  2. (of someone on bail) Fail to surrender oneself for custody at the appointed time.
I've read a lot lately, but I think the book I found this in was Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan. How about you?

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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Curmudgeon's Corner: The Queen Bee (aka Mean Girl)

In YA literature, you can't escape one type of character-- the Queen Bee. I'm not sure I want to avoid it either, because I relished in the evilness of the Queen Bee in one of my secret favorite movies, Mean Girls. That said, like with any character, this character needs to be three dimensional. Some books have gotten it right, others have failed.

Five Flavors of DumbLet's start with the ones that got it right. Two come to mind immediately. The first is Kallie, from Five Flavors of Dumb, by Antony John. At first, we are led to believe that she is the airheaded pretty and popular girl that everyone looks up to. Little by little, we and the main character, Piper, start to realize there is a lot more to this girl than we just see on the outside. She is so much more deep, sensitive and three dimensional than any of us gave her credit for. And as a result, she ends up being one of my favorite characters in the whole book.

Anna Dressed in Blood (Anna, #1)
The second book that got it right was Anna Dressed in Blood. Carmel, the Queen Bee in this book, is completely unexpected in a wonderful way. She somehow is able to keep her popular status but at the same time break the mold, and hang out with the outcasts, Cas and Thomas. There were several encounters with her underlings that made me laugh out loud. I remember one situation where one of the girls seems geared up to dethrone her. But Carmel somehow takes back her power with ease and grace. Although she is the Queen Bee, we see a three dimensionality to her, and this makes her surprisingly likeable.

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer (Mara Dyer, #1)Now for the books that I feel missed out on a great opportunity. The first is Anna, from The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer. She is the pinnacle of the mean girl-- mean without any remorse. Her plan is to take down Mara from the beginning because Mara has done what no other girl has managed to do-- snag Noah Shaw. We aren't given any back story on her, and to me, that made her boring. She doesn't have to be nice deep down inside, but people are more complex than that.

Next is Jenn from The Edge of Nowhere by Elizabeth George (which by the way, may be one of my least favorite reads of the year). I'm not sure she's actually a Queen Bee, but she sure is mean. And mean for reasons that I can't comprehend. I guess George throws us some vague hints that she may have an awful home life, but still, we don't get much of a glimpse into her inner self. She could be so much more three dimensional, and George loses some coolness points with this rather useless character.

Before I FallFinally, I just want to end with my favorite mean girl novel, possibly of all time. Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver STARS one of the mean girls. Samantha isn't the Queen Bee, but she is in the inner circle. Oliver toes a dangerous line-- Sam is not likeable in the beginning. But slowly, all of us start to see how Sam blossoms-- too late possibly-- but regardless, becomes the woman that she was meant to be. I rarely cry during novels, but this magical evolution of someone that seems too far gone makes it a heart wrenching novel.

Who are your favorite Queen Bees or Mean Girls?

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Waiting on Wednesday (13)



Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating.

I'm a bit of a copycat this week because I learned about this book through this blog hop a few weeks ago!

Dance of Shadows (Dance of Shadows, #1)
Goodreads Book Description:  
Vanessa Adler isn’t so sure she really belongs at the School of American Ballet. But dance runs in her family. It’s been a part of her life for as long as she can remember. Her grandmother and mother were prima ballerinas, and her older sister Margaret was, too. That is, until Margaret mysteriously disappeared from school three years ago. Vanessa is heir to the family’s gift and the only person who can fulfill her sister’s destiny. She has no choice.

But she never could have guessed how dangerous the school is. The infamous choreographer, Josef, isn’t just ruthless with his pupils, he guards a sinister secret, one in which the school’s dancers—prized for their beauty, grace, and discipline—become pawns in a world of dark, deadly demons.


Why I Am Excited: Look at this gorgeous cover! OK, I admit, I am susceptible to a nice cover here and there. Also, I LOVE ballet stories and shows. Add paranormal to it? I'm intrigued. Can't wait to see what Black does with this set up.

Why I Am Worried: I hope the ballet is authentic and the paranormal works in seamlessly. It could fall apart if these two aspects of the novel don't work together.

What are you waiting for this week?

Don't forget to enter these great giveaways!
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Monday, September 24, 2012

Part II Interview with Fiona Paul and International Giveaway of Venom

Welcome back to Part II of Fiona's awesome interview!



Blurb about Fiona:  Fiona Paul lives in St. Louis, Missouri where she's managed to persuade prestigious universities to award her degrees in psychology and nursing. Between her studies, she traveled around five continents and spent time living in Thailand and South Korea (which is probably why she finds the idea of wearing shoes in the house a little weird.)


In addition to writing, Fiona is somewhat obsessive about coffee, music, and adventure sports. Her future goals include swimming with great white sharks and writing a whole truckload of novels, not necessarily in that order.

Part II of Author Interview.
1. I will likely be in the minority, but I loved Luca, the "boring" fiance. Which character was the most fun to write and why? Which was the most unexpected character that surprised you?
So far I've found that all the people who prefer Luca seem to be in stable, functional relationships. Just an observation :) Personally, I tend to always date Falcos and I don't see that changing anytime soon. I honestly enjoyed writing Falco the most because we have similar sarcastic no-nonsense personalities and I could really let parts of myself come out through him. In a sense there are pieces of me in all of the characters, but I feel the closest to Falco and it was fun to craft his exasperating but charming persona. I don't think any of the characters surprised me much. I generally have a really good idea of who everyone is and what's going to happen before I start to write.

2. What was it like working with a book development team to get your book ready?
It was amazing and educational and really hard at times. I feel incredibly fortunate to have been nutured and mentored by multiple awesome industry professionals whose number one goal was to help me produce the best book possible. However, writing a book gets harder each time you introduce an additional person into the process. I had essentially three editors, and we came to Venom with differing styles and ideas. Melding multiple creative visions to produce a product everyone loved was tough, but we did it! When I look back, I wish I had handled some things a little better, but the process helped me grow as a writer and a person, and I am very grateful to have had the opportunity.

3. Do you have any words of advice for aspiring writers who feel disheartened seeing all the good books out there already?
Um...why would seeing good books be disheartening? No books--now that would be disheartening. Lots of books and a booming YA industry means opportunities galore. As a member of the Apocalypsies debut group, I can tell you over 165 kid-lit writers became first-time authors in 2012. And that doesn't count indie published books which are enjoying quite a Renaissance. (Do I get extra points for using the word Renaissance??) I know that sometimes it feels like every idea has been done, but a great story is a great story. Consider the movies Resident Evil, 28 Days Later, I am Legend, Night of the Living Dead, Shaun of the Dead, and Zombieland. All zombie movies, yes? But all different and fantastic. At a conference, a smart person once said: "There are only two plots: a man goes on a trip and a stranger comes to town." And then another smart person said: "and that's really only one plot from two different points of view." Don't get me wrong, a super-creative, high-concept, never-been-done-before story is a beautiful thing. But you're not guaranteed success if you have one or doomed if you don't. 

4. What do you have on the horizon? And can you tell us a little about the next entry in this series without giving too much away?
I want to finish grad school and kayak the Baja peninsula during whale migration season :) As far as writing goes, I am about half done drafting the third book in the Secrets of the Eternal Rose trilogy, after which I have some contemporary stuff coming out under another name. Then hopefully there will be more books. *crosses fingers* I am just trying to really enjoy the ride as everything unfolds for Venom. I'm really lucky to be where I am and I cannot thank readers enough. You guys rock for actually buying books when there is endless TV you can watch for free. One exciting thing: I get to go on tour with several other Penguin Breathless Reads authors next February so check my blog for upcoming tour dates. *rockstar moment*
As far as Venom #2 AKA Belladonna is concerned, readers will get to see more of both Falco and Luca, those Book of the Eternal Rose quotes will make more sense, and Team Cass will descend on the city of Florence to learn more about the mysterious Order of the Eternal Rose. Also, Belladonna is my favorite book of the trilogy (am I allowed to have a favorite? I say that I am) and it definitely does not suffer from middle-book syndrome.

Don't forget to enter to win this awesome book signed by the author!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Can't wait and want to pre-order Venom NOW? Click on this link to get straight to Amazon.
Venom (Secrets of the Eternal Rose)

And don't forget to sign up for this other great giveaway to win a Prize Pack for The Lure of Shapinsay by Krista Holle OR a $20 Amazon gift certificate!
The Lure of Shapinsay giveaway

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Part I Interview with Fiona Paul and Giveaway of Signed Hard back Copy of Venom


Venom (Secrets of the Eternal Rose, #1)
Welcome back, everyone! I'm very excited to introduce another Missourian author, Fiona Paul, who is coming out with her first novel, which I'm sure will be a blockbuster hit, Venom!

Goodreads Book Description:
Cassandra Caravello is one of Renaissance Venice’s lucky elite: with elegant gowns, sparkling jewels, her own lady’s maid, and a wealthy fiancĂ©, she has everything a girl could desire. Yet ever since her parents’ death, Cassandra has felt trapped, alone in a city of water, where the dark and labyrinthine canals whisper of escape.

When Cass stumbles upon a murdered woman—practically in her own backyard—she’s drawn into a dangerous world of courtesans, killers, and secret societies. Soon, she finds herself falling for Falco, a mysterious artist with a mischievous grin... and a spectacular skill for trouble. Can Cassandra find the murderer, before he finds her? And will she stay true to her fiancĂ©, or succumb to her uncontrollable feelings for Falco?

Beauty, love, romance, and mystery weave together in a stunning novel that’s as seductive and surprising as the city of Venice itself.


My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Goodreads review: Venom Review


Blurb about Fiona:  Fiona Paul lives in St. Louis, Missouri where she's managed to persuade prestigious universities to award her degrees in psychology and nursing. Between her studies, she traveled around five continents and spent time living in Thailand and South Korea (which is probably why she finds the idea of wearing shoes in the house a little weird.)


In addition to writing, Fiona is somewhat obsessive about coffee, music, and adventure sports. Her future goals include swimming with great white sharks and writing a whole truckload of novels, not necessarily in that order.
 
 Author Interview Part I.
1. Tell us a little bit about how you were inspired to write YA.
One reason I write YA because it is the genre I most enjoy reading. That's because ANYTHING can happen in a YA book: deaf girls manage rock bands, fat kids threaten to eat themselves to death on the internet, boys with mad cow disease go on mind-bending road trips with hypochondriac dwarves and garden gnomes. You never know what you're getting into when you crack open a YA novel and that is exciting! Also, it's about the stories. The ideas I have just usually happen to be YA concepts (probably because I refuse to grow up and act my age). I have a couple ideas that I started writing as YA books that once I got into them I realized they were adult books. For me it's not a good idea to force a story to be something it's not. Will I write an adult book someday? Almost definitely. Will it be published? I have no idea :) 

2. How has your job as a nurse affected your writing style and content?
 I definitely called on my nursing background to write the chapter epigraphs for Venom (which medical professionals all seem to really like so far) and certain scenes involving corpses and assorted body parts. I have to be careful though, because my tendency is to make things a little too complex or factual in places and sometimes that doesn't make for the best story. If that sounds weird to people reading this, think about hospital shows like House. My understanding of MDs--and please correct me if I am wrong, Dr. Blogger :)--is that they spend more than 50% of their time in front of computers entering orders and reviewing exam results. That's a reality that probably wouldn't make for a very gripping story. 

3. After reading your book, I must visit Venice. From your descriptions, you must have taken a trip. Tell us a little more about your experiences in Venice and your journey in writing about this gorgeous backdrop.
I went to Venice a couple of years ago as part of a package tour that included Croatia, Slovenia, and Italy. I only got to spend a couple of days there, but I was blown away by the fairytale otherworldliness of it all--the twisting alleyways, the tangled network of canals, the gorgeous architecture. Aside from the updated fashions, a visit to Venice really does feel like traveling back in time.

Don't forget to enter to win this awesome book! Tune in tomorrow for the rest of this great interview.
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Can't wait and want to pre-order Venom NOW? Click on this link to get straight to Amazon.
Venom (Secrets of the Eternal Rose)

Don't forget to enter this other awesome giveaway!
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Saturday, September 22, 2012

Winners of the Domino Effect Giveaway and NEW international Giveaway!


Venom (Secrets of the Eternal Rose, #1)
Congrats to Emanuela and Dani (her third win!) who won the signed copy of The Domino Effect by Andrew Cotto!

Congrats to Harmony who won a signed copy of Fly On the Wall by E. Lockhart! I have emailed all of the winners. If they don't respond to me within 48 hours, I will select new winners!

And now for a new giveaway! I am so excited to get to introduce Fiona Paul, a rising star in the YA world, who is coming out with her terrific release Venom in just another week! You can get a SIGNED brand new HARD BACK copy of this awesome book. Start entering now, and tune in tomorrow for Fiona's interview!
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And don't forget to enter my other giveaway!
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Friday, September 21, 2012

Feature and Follow (12)

Time for a blog hop :-) It's really sad, but just came down with the stomach flu so wasn't sure if I'd get around to doing this Friday's post, but I really liked the question, so gotta answer it!


FF 2012 Feature & Follow #106Feature and Follow Friday is a blog hop hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read

Here are the rules to the blog hop!
To join the fun and make new book blogger friends, just follow these simple rules:

  • (Required) Follow the Follow My Book Blog Friday Hosts {Parajunkee & Alison Can Read}
  • (Required) Follow our Featured Bloggers
  • Put your Blog name & URL in the Linky thing. You can also grab the code if you would like to insert it into your posts.
  • Grab the button up there and place it in a post, this post is for people to find a place to say “hi” in your comments and that they are now following you.
  • If you are using WordPress or another CMS that doesn’t have GFC (Google Friends Connect) state in your posts how you would like to be followed
  • Follow Follow Follow as many as you can, as many as you want, or just follow a few. The whole point is to make new friends and find new blogs. Also, don’t just follow, comment and say hi. Another blogger might not know you are a new follower if you don’t say “HI”
  • If someone comments and says they are following you, be a dear and follow back. Spread the Love…and the followers
  • If you’re new to the follow friday hop, comment and let me know, so I can stop by and check out your blog! 

Q: What hyped up book do you think was worth all the talk?

How about 4 of them? These are 4 of my favorite books this year, thus far.
Ready Player OneAnna Dressed in Blood (Anna, #1)If I Lie

Daughter of Smoke and Bone (Daughter of Smoke and Bone, #1)











How about you?

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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Curmudgeon's Corner: Rant on the Chemical Garden Trilogy

Welcome back, everyone! Today I'm going to talk (ok, yeah maybe rant a little too) about the Chemical Garden Trilogy by Lauren DeStefano. There may be some mild spoilers below.

The whole trilogy centers around a 16 year old girl named Rhine, who lives in a post apocalyptic world where all men die at age 25 and women die at age 20 due to a strange virus that no one has figured out how to cure. Rich men are expected to buy multiple wives to give birth to children and keep the human race alive. Rhine has been kidnapped and married off to a man named Linden. Linden himself seems rather benign but his father, a great scientist, is incredibly creepy and may be doing some illegal experiments in the house. Rhine can only think of escape and finding her twin brother.

Wither (The Chemical Garden, #1)The first book, Wither, is actually pretty good (I gave it 4 out of 5 stars). The whole book takes place in the mansion where she is married to Linden. I felt really nauseated while reading it because of the whole idea of multiple underage wives-- especially the depiction of one of her sister wives, Cecily, who is 13 and gets pregnant first. The fact that I had such a visceral reaction to the book is a positive one, I think. My distaste for this dystopian world was because it's a terrible one. The writing is very good and many times the phrasing is eloquent and tinged with a sad beauty. My biggest issue with this book (other than the fact that I had some serious ethical issues with the world presented) is that it just seemed like a build up to the rest of the trilogy. Rhine talks and "plans" of running away, but it takes her how many pages to actually do this? I also really doubted that Rhine would have gotten away in this society and household with her virginity intact. Just saying. The strength of the book lies in the writing and the development of other characters. My favorite is probably the sad and ephemeral Jenna, the oldest sister wife.

Vote on my Amazon review:Wither review

Fever (The Chemical Garden, #2)I felt that the second book would really prove whether or not this trilogy had staying power. Unfortunately, the second book suffers from major middle book syndrome. It takes place right after the end of Wither, when she finally escapes the house. I'll try not to give too much away, but in essence, I feel like not much happens in this book. She is searching for her brother (yes, still-- we never get to see this kid), but unsurprisingly, runs into a lot of difficulty along the way. She stumbles on a whore house and then stays captive by the madame who runs it. This takes up half of the book. I just found myself growing more and more frustrated. Finally, in the last few pages of the book, we have more plot development. But in my opinion it's too little, too late. I awarded this book 2 out of 5 stars.

Vote on my Amazon review: Fever review

Do you like this trilogy so far? Why or why not?

Don't forget to enter these great giveaways!
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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Review of Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

I am so excited to reveal my review for this terrific book. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline has received rave reviews and I knew that I had to read it.

Ready Player OneGoodreads Book Description: It's the year 2044, and the real world is an ugly place.

Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be, a place where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets.

And like most of humanity, Wade dreams of being the one to discover the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this virtual world. For somewhere inside this giant networked playground, OASIS creator James Halliday has hidden a series of fiendish puzzles that will yield massive fortune--and remarkable power--to whoever can unlock them.

For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that Halliday's riddles are based in the pop culture he loved--that of the late twentieth century. And for years, millions have found in this quest another means of escape, retreating into happy, obsessive study of Halliday's icons. Like many of his contemporaries, Wade is as comfortable debating the finer points of John Hughes's oeuvre, playing Pac-Man, or reciting Devo lyrics as he is scrounging power to run his OASIS rig.

And then Wade stumbles upon the first puzzle.

Suddenly the whole world is watching, and thousands of competitors join the hunt--among them certain powerful players who are willing to commit very real murder to beat Wade to this prize. Now the only way for Wade to survive and preserve everything he knows is to win. But to do so, he may have to leave behind his oh-so-perfect virtual existence and face up to life--and love--in the real world he's always been so desperate to escape.

A world at stake.
A quest for the ultimate prize.
Are you ready?

My rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

My Amazon Review (click this link and vote!): Ready Player One Review

This book by Ernest Cline focuses on Wade, a geeky adolescent, whose greatest ambition is to win a video game contest sponsored by an eccentric video game designer. There is an Easter egg hidden somewhere in OASIS, the virtual world created by this genius, and Wade, a poor nerd who has been orphaned, seems like the most unlikely candidate.  But to the world's surprise, he finds the first Key out of three, and starts the adventure of his life.

This book is an incredible homage to the eighties pop culture, icons, music, and fads. I almost feel like to truly appreciate how awesome this book is one needs to have grown up during this time period. This book truly is a playground for those adults who love to read young adult books-- here we get that feel but at the same time, it has such a nostalgic feel. And what geekdom! For any adult who grew up as a nerd loving Star Wars, Star Trek, Firefly ( OK so that's a more recent obsession), Lord of the Rings, etc, this book is for you. Because I meet all of his criteria to a tee, it's not a surprise that I loved this book.

But past all of that, it is an exciting adventure all on its own with more than a few delightful twists. The world building is fantastic and I grew jealous of the characters as they get to participate in what has to be the coolest virtual video game ever. Plus, the characters are three dimensional and fun. Sam is a great protagonist, Aech is a hilarious sidekick, and Art3mis is a winning love interest--and quite a kick butt girl!

My one criticism is mild. The villain was pretty two dimensional, but the rest of the book more than made up for it. Insignia, another recent book very similar to this one, is a pale shadow in comparison.

Overall, highly entertaining and imaginative, with terrific references to the eighties and geekdom that are spot on and well researched. A must read for everyone, but in particular those still young and geeky at heart.

What did you think?

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Monday, September 17, 2012

Part II Interview with Krista Holle and International Prize Pack Giveaway!


Welcome back to the second part of Krista's awesome interview!

Author blurb: Krista has been writing since she was nine-years-old, and currently works as a critical care nurse. Her first novel is The Lure of Shapinsay.  Krista resides in Midlothian, Virginia with her husband, four daughters, and an eccentric cat with a weird attachment to the family’s socks.  She continues to write obsessively every chance she can get.

Book Trailer: The Lure of Shapinsay Book Trailer

Part II of Author Interview
1. I have to say my favorite character was definitely Tipper, the odd woman, who helps Kait unexpectedly. What was your inspiration for this character?  
For the record, Tipper is a little bit insane.  I work with a lot of demented patients, so it wasn’t hard for me to come up with a lot of nutty things for Tipper to say

2. For our aspiring writers, what was most difficult about writing this book and if you knew what you know now, what would you have advised yourself before writing this novel?  

Overcoming the obstacle of the dialect was difficult for me.  The story takes place in 1848 on the tiny Scottish isle of Shapinsay, so it was important to me that the story feel authentic.  The original manuscript was filled with tons of Scottish words and an authentic dialect.  Unfortunately it was extremely distracting and left my beta readers reeling!  I’ve since learned that it’s more important to be readable than authentic.  Any future vernacular will be very sparing!

3. Do you have another novel on the horizon? If so, what is it going to be about?  
Later this year I’ll be releasing a young adult book, entitled The Wind Whisperer.  It’s about a young Native American girl with the ability to “hear” the spirits of the wind.  While her tribe’s at war with a brother tribe, Anaii inconveniently falls in love with the enemy.  It’s basically a yummy love triangle that takes place before the arrival of the first white man.  It’s filled with intrigue, kidnappings, murder, and battles.  The guys will like this one too. 

4. If you could be a selkie for a day, would you or wouldn't you and why?  

I would definitely be a selkie for a day so I could swim all day long and be the most beautiful thing in the sea.  Call it author’s research.  

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Sunday, September 16, 2012

Part I Interview with Krista Holle and International Prize Pack Giveaway


The Lure of Shapinsay
Welcome back, everyone! I'm excited to introduce a new author, Krista Holle to Ensconced in YA! She's just written a terrific book entitled The Lure of Shapinsay.

Goodreads Book Description: Ever since Kait Swanney could remember, the old crones of the village have been warning her to stay away from the selkies. They claim that like sirens of old, the seal men creep from the inky waters, shed their skins, and entice women to their deaths beneath the North Sea. But avoiding an encounter becomes impossible when Kait is spotted at the water’s edge, moments after the murder of a half-selkie infant. 

Unexpectedly, Kait is awoken by a beautiful, selkie man seeking revenge. After she declares her innocence, the intruder darts into the night, but not before inadvertently bewitching her with an overpowering lure. 

Kait obsesses over a reunion deep beneath the bay and risks her own life to be reunited with her selkie. But when she lands the dangerous lover, the chaos that follows leaves Kait little time to wonder—is it love setting her on fire or has she simply been lured?

Youtube Trailer: The Lure of Shapinsay Book Trailer

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars


Author Blurb:
Krista has been writing since she was nine-years-old when she scribbled out her first adolescent work entitled Merish, the completely illogical but heartfelt story of a girl who was part mermaid, part fish.  As a young mother, Krista added to her repertoire some middle grade readers and picture books she’s wary of mentioning. 

In 2004, Krista began an intensive four year period working part-time as a critical care nurse while homeschooling her four children.  During this hectic time, courses of writing were taught and learned, and rules of syntax were scolded to memory. Ironically this period of study equipped Krista with the tools she needed to enter the next phase of her writing experience. Now equipped with the mysteries of the comma, Krista was ready to tackle a much bigger project—a full-fledged novel.
 
After the kids were enrolled in public school in 2009, it occurred to Krista that there is an insatiable audience of women and girls who want to read books filled with stories about true love, not just vampires.  Convinced that there was an unfulfilled audience waiting for what she love to write—romance, she sat down in the family’s dungeon, a.k.a. the basement, and began to furiously type.  In no time, her first novel was drying on crisp white paper. 

Krista currently resides in Midlothian, Virginia with her husband, four daughters, and an eccentric cat with a weird attachment to the family’s socks.  She continues to write obsessively every chance she can get.

Part I of Author Interview
1. How did your divert from your day job to writing a novel?
In addition to being a writer, I’m also a critical care nurse.  One of the perks of being a nurse is that you pretty much get to work the shift of your choice.  While the kids are in school, I write like a fiend.   In the evenings, I go to work.  As I get more books under my belt, I dream of the day I can write full-time. 

2. How did you come up with the idea to write about selkies and how did you go about researching the background for your setting?  
Paranormal Romance is really hot right now and I wanted to add a mythical creature to the mix that most people have never heard of—selkies!  In case they are new to your readers, selkies come from Scottish mythology.  They are beautiful seal men and women who live the bulk of their lives under water, but occasionally shed their skins and come on land.  The men are notorious for luring women to their deaths deep beneath the sea.

3. Which character was your favorite to write about and why?  

I think my favorite character was the selkie Eamon.  He’s a complicated creature who loathes everything on land and has a penchant for killing sheep.  He’s slow to love but when he does it’s with the force of a hurricane. 

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Saturday, September 15, 2012

Winners of the Antony John and CS Einfeld Giveaways and New International Giveaway

Congrats to all of the lucky winners!
Krystal and Jenna- have won paperbacks of Neverdark
Dani (our grand winner previously for the Hunger Games Trilogy box set) was again the lucky winner of the paperback of Neverdark that will be signed by both author and illustrator! This proves that you can strike gold twice, so everyone should continue entering the giveaways!
Elizabeth - won the copy of A Monster Calls

Wendy is the lucky winner of the Antony John Prize Pack (all four of his books signed).

I have emailed all the winners. Please respond within 48 hours or I will pick another winner.

Tomorrow, I will put up the great interview with Krista Holle who wrote The Lure of Shapinsay, and you can start entering the giveaway!
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Friday, September 14, 2012

Feature and follow (11)

FF 2012 Feature & Follow #114Time for a blog hop :-)This has been an extremely busy week and I haven't had enough time to blog as much as I would like to, but hopefully I can make up for it this weekend!

Feature and Follow Friday is a blog hop hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read

Here are the rules to the blog hop!
To join the fun and make new book blogger friends, just follow these simple rules:

    • (Required) Follow the Follow My Book Blog Friday Hosts {Parajunkee & Alison Can Read}
    • (Required) Follow our Featured Bloggers
  • Put your Blog name & URL in the Linky thing. You can also grab the code if you would like to insert it into your posts.
  • Grab the button up there and place it in a post, this post is for people to find a place to say “hi” in your comments and that they are now following you.
  • If you are using WordPress or another CMS that doesn’t have GFC (Google Friends Connect) state in your posts how you would like to be followed
  • Follow Follow Follow as many as you can, as many as you want, or just follow a few. The whole point is to make new friends and find new blogs. Also, don’t just follow, comment and say hi. Another blogger might not know you are a new follower if you don’t say “HI”
  • If someone comments and says they are following you, be a dear and follow back. Spread the Love…and the followers
  • If you’re new to the follow friday hop, comment and let me know, so I can stop by and check out your blog!

Q: What hyped up book do you think was not worth all the talk?

Great question! I have to agree with the Fifty Shades of Grey answer.

Rant on Fifty Shades 

 Also, Pure by Julianna Baggott is the other.

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Thursday, September 13, 2012

Curmudgeon's Corner (CB): Writing style

The Riddlemaster of HedSome writers have a very distinctive style, and whether you like the style has a lot to do with whether you like their books. Patricia McKillip is an author whose lyrical style I love, and I will read pretty much anything she writes just because I really, well, like the way she writes. I particularly like her Riddle-Master trilogy, which hits a lot of other buttons for me (Welsh-like riddles, non-romantic love, betrayal, redemption), and I was really surprised to learn that a friend whose judgment I totally respect couldn't get through even the first of the books -- because she doesn't like McKillip's style.


For another example, Catherynne Valente is an author that a lot of people really like; I don't really like her style, so I have a hard time with her. (Interestingly, her extremely-lyrical style reads to me as similar to McKillip's, and I don't have a good read on why I like McKillip but not Valente). 

On the other side of the fence from lyrical, there's a much more staccato, exuberant kind of style, which is often used for young-adult SF. Cory Doctorow (For the Win, Little Brother) does this; so does Neal Stephenson in his SF books (e.g., Snow Crash). Sarah Rees Brennan, though she doesn't write SF, has a similar kind of style. This kind of style can definitely highlight the exuberant ideas-based foundation of these kinds of books.

Other writers, I feel, have a very transparent style. Allegra Goodman's novel Intuition is written in a style that is meant not to get in the way of what's happening in the book -- because it's a book about science and scientists, this makes sense. 

What kind of style do you enjoy? Are there styles you don't enjoy?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (12)




Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating.

Last week I just finished the wonderful IF I LIE by Corrine Jackson (which everyone should read, by the way-- probably one of the best books I've read all year, and I've read a LOT). Stay posted, I will be hosting an interview and giveaway for IF I LIE in mid-October! Anyway, she is coming out with a paranormal YA novel soon, called Touched, and I'm really excited to get my hands on it!

Touched (Touched, #1) Goodreads Book Description: Remy O’Malley heals people with touch—but every injury she cures becomes her own. Living in a household with an abusive stepfather, she has healed untold numbers of broken bones, burns,and bruises. And then one night her stepfather goes too far.

Being sent to live with her estranged father offers a clean start and she is eager to take it. Enter Asher Blackwell. Once a Protector of Healers, Asher sacrificed his senses to become immortal. Only by killing a Healer can a Protector recover their human senses. Falling in love is against the rules between these two enemies. Because Remy has the power to make Protectors human again, and when they find out, they’ll becoming for her—if Asher doesn’t kill her first.
This is Book One in the Touched trilogy. 
Expected Publication Date: November 27, 2012

Why I am excited:  Corrine Jackson has proven her chops with the amazing, IF I LIE. Of course, my inclination is towards the paranormal/dystopian YA, so all my wishes were fulfilled when I heard about this book. I'm so excited to see what she does with it.

Why I am worried: This has nothing to do with Corrine. I think it's always a challenge to go from a single contemporary YA novel to a paranormal YA trilogy. There are a lot of different issues involved, but I think Corrine is completely up to it!

What are you waiting for this Wednesday?

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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

My First Movie Review: The Dark Knight Rises


The main reason this is my first movie review is because this is (sadly) the first movie I've watched in a LONG TIME. And I don't even want to get into how long it has been since I've seen a movie in the theater-- does Avatar come to mind? OK, maybe I've seen something more recent.

But I digress. I was looking forward to this final entry into the wonderful Batman trilogy done directed by Christopher Nolan. I have to say I'm a huge fan of Christian Bale and have been since his much younger days when he starred in Disney's less well known Newsies (still have that soundtrack) and played Teddy in Little Women. Since then, he has really honed his acting skills and has become an excellent actor, and to me, is the perfectly cast for Batman.

I have heard mixed reviews from my friends about this movie. I think in some aspects that is because this is really not Bruce Wayne's movie or Batman's even. I would argue that this movie is really James Gordon and John Blake's movie.

Just as a short synopsis for those of you who have not seen this movie yet (but honestly, I think I was probably one of the last people to do so since it's been out a while), eight years has passed since the events of the last movie. Batman has taken the fall for Harvey Dent, who died in the last movie, and Bruce has become a recluse. Gordon has perpetuated this lie in order to politically keep evil people behind bars (don't tell me to explain this to you because I didn't really get it), but now, a new menace has come to town-- a hulking brute with a sinister voice named Bane. He has mysterious ties to Bruce's old mentor from the first movie, and he decides to take up Batman's mantle once again.

This synopsis makes it seem like the focus would be on Bruce/Batman. But it's not. Most of the movie, which I loved, is focused on John Blake and his ideals as a police officer. We learn how he grew up and because of this, how he understands Batman better than probably anyone else. He makes one of the most interesting character arcs in the movie, and his decision at the end of the movie is very satisfying.

The second most important is Gordon. He has felt unbelievably guilty about the burden of this lie he has been keeping, and he almost decides to bring the truth to light, but then decides against it. Unsurprisingly, this comes to haunt him later on in the film, and he continues to play a nice foil to both young Blake and Bruce himself.

A newcomer that I loved was Anne Hathaway as Catwoman. I never really liked Rachel Dawes as a love interest, and finally in this series dominated by male superheroes, we get a woman that kicks butt. I like that she is not the conventional good girl, she starts out as a thief and then can't get out of it since that's all she's ever known. I also loved the touch of her goggles as her "cat" ears. I do wonder at the reason for the mask-- no one in the audience or even in the movie is fooled at all. Maybe it's just to finish off the tight leather bodysuit?

There are some great twists that were not completely surprising but incredibly satisfying. I love how the story came full circle and it reminds me how much I appreciate when movies and books are well done. I wholeheartedly award this movie 5 out of 5 stars. I think out of all of the superhero movies, the Batman trilogy as a whole has been the strongest of any of them.

What did you think of the latest Batman installment?

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Monday, September 10, 2012

Part II of interview with Andrew Cotto and International Giveaway of "The Domino Effect"!

Welcome back for the second part of Andrew Cotto's great interview and giveaway!


Author Blurb: Andrew Cotto is a writer and teacher who lives in Brooklyn, NY. He is the author of two novels: THE DOMINO EFFECT - a 2012 Readers Favorite Award finalist - is a coming of age story about a kid from Queens with a damaged past and a complicated present at a boarding school in rural New Jersey; OUTERBOROUGH BLUES: A BROOKLYN MYSTERY is an unconventional noir about a drifter seeking a missing person and a remedy to his family's curse on the dawn of urban gentrification. His novels are represented by Dunow, Carlson and Lerner Literary Agency. Andrew's articles have appeared in many national journals, including the New York Times, Men's Journal, Huffington Post, Salon, Deadspin, the Good Men Project and Teachers & Writers Magazine. For the past seven years, Andrew has taught composition courses and creative writing workshops in New York City. He has an MFA in Creative Writing from The New School and a BA in Literature from Lynchburg College.

Andrew Cotto's Blog: http://www.andrewcotto.com/

1. Initially, I thought Brenda Divine would end up just being the token love interest. I was so happy to be so wrong! When you were writing this book, did you know exactly how she would develop or did she take a life of her own? Tell us a little about how you develop your characters in general.
Brenda is my favorite character in the book. I knew she would be important, but the manner in which that happened developed along the way. In general, I come up with what I hope to be interesting characters and put them into a scenario; from there, they tend to write their scripts. When it works, it's kind of like magic. This is what I love most about writing.

2. For our new writers out there-- did you find it helpful to know other established authors along the way? If so, how? 
Knowing authors can be helpful along the way, but knowing other aspiring authors is probably more helpful. Having a group of peers to share the process with is necessary. Being an author is like being a mutant, so being surrounded by other mutants is very beneficial. It's one of the main reasons I pursued an MFA in creative writing, and one of the best parts of having done so.

3. What do you have on the horizon?
My second novel came out in May, and I'm busy promoting it while also continuing to push Domino. I'm currently revising a novella called Martinis & Bikinis, which I hope will be a fun noir akin to novels like Get Shorty. Beyond that, I'm waiting for the green light on a sequel to Outerborough Blues.


Don't forget to sign up to win a signed copy of his book, The Domino Effect or a signed copy of Fly on the Wall by E. Lockhart!

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Also, don't forget to enter these great giveaways!
International giveaway of:
1) 2 copies of Neverdark by C.S. Einfeld
2) 1 signed copy of Neverdark from both author and illustrator
3) 1 copy of A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
CS Einfeld Giveaway


Prize pack giveaway (US only) of ALL FOUR of Antony John's books signed (Five Flavors of Dumb, Busted, Thou Shalt Not Road Trip, and the unreleased YA dystopian, Elemental)
Antony John Giveaway
 

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Part I of Interview with Andrew Cotto and International Giveaway of The Domino Effect!


The Domino Effect
Please give a warm welcome to our next author, Andrew Cotto! He has the distinction of being the first author to request a book review on my blog and receive an offer for interview and giveaway! So you know I must have enjoyed his book :-)

Amazon Book Description: A FINALIST for the 2012 Readers Favorite Award, The Domino Effect is the story of Danny Rorro, a charismatic kid from Queens poisoned by the past. A series of painful defeats have left him scarred and isolated from his neighborhood, his parents, and, most significantly, the benevolent ways of his childhood when he was known as "Domino." With great insight, imagery and wit, Danny recalls his past in Queens and his coming-of-age at Hamden Academy. This fast paced and powerful story is rich with conflict, humor, tenderness and music--just like life, especially when coming-of-age.

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars


Amazon Review:  The Domino Effect Review

Author Blurb: Andrew Cotto is a writer and teacher who lives in Brooklyn, NY. He is the author of two novels: THE DOMINO EFFECT - a 2012 Readers Favorite Award finalist - is a coming of age story about a kid from Queens with a damaged past and a complicated present at a boarding school in rural New Jersey; OUTERBOROUGH BLUES: A BROOKLYN MYSTERY is an unconventional noir about a drifter seeking a missing person and a remedy to his family's curse on the dawn of urban gentrification. His novels are represented by Dunow, Carlson and Lerner Literary Agency. Andrew's articles have appeared in many national journals, including the New York Times, Men's Journal, Huffington Post, Salon, Deadspin, the Good Men Project and Teachers & Writers Magazine. For the past seven years, Andrew has taught composition courses and creative writing workshops in New York City. He has an MFA in Creative Writing from The New School and a BA in Literature from Lynchburg College.

Author Blog: http://www.andrewcotto.com/




Part I of Author Interview
1. What was the inspiration for your book, The Domino Effect?
I was originally inspired by Spike Lee's film Do the Right Thing. I know it seems like an incongruous connection, but that movie really made me want to tell stories that dealt with big issues, such as race. The Domino Effect ended up being less about race than I originally intended (at first, Terence was the main character, and Danny was a Nick Carraway-type of 1st person narrator), but the inspiration for dramatic storytelling remained.

2. Danny is such a great protagonist. Are you anything alike or is he based partially on someone you know?
Thanks. This was my first novel, and I understand that first novel's often have semi-autobiographical protagonists, but the success of Danny as a character is really predicated on my avoiding that familiar formula. We do share some similarities (ethnic background, sense of humor, a love of baseball, a stint at boarding school, the habit of making massive and stupid mistakes), but he really is his own entity, as much a creation of imagination as I'm capable.

3. I don't usually notice location, but I loved your descriptions of where he used to live and his boarding school. Have you ever lived in these places or did you travel there to do some research for your book?
I believe setting is really important, and worthy of as much attention as any character. My other novel, Outerborough Blues: A Brooklyn Mystery, is wildly atmospheric. In Domino, I wanted to juxtapose the urban setting of a Queens neighborhood with that of a bucolic boarding school, and I was able to do so convincingly by being familiar with both. I don't think research lends itself to an intimate sensory understanding of a location.

Don't forget to sign up to win a signed copy of his book OR as a bonus, win a signed copy of "Fly on the Wall," by E. Lockhart!
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Also, don't forget to enter these great giveaways!
International giveaway of:
1) 2 copies of Neverdark by C.S. Einfeld
2) 1 signed copy of Neverdark from both author and illustrator
3) 1 copy of A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
CS Einfeld Giveaway


Prize pack giveaway (US only) of ALL FOUR of Antony John's books signed (Five Flavors of Dumb, Busted, Thou Shalt Not Road Trip, and the unreleased YA dystopian, Elemental)
Antony John Giveaway