Thursday, February 28, 2013

Interview with Leonie Rogers, author of Frontier Incursion, a YA paranormal novel, and International Giveaway!

Frontier IncursionGuess what, gang? The fun just keeps coming. Today, Leonie Rogers has been kind enough to join us in a great interview. And tomorrow, the main character of the book, Shanna will be by to give her take on things. Make sure to check it all out!

Goodreads Book Description: For Shanna, joining the Scout Corps had been a dream come true. The Scouts were charged with expanding their knowledge of Frontier, a hostile planet their ancestors had crashlanded on 300 years before. As the youngest in her class, Shanna struggles to find acceptance and respect amongst her older peers - a task made more difficult by the fact that she has not just one, but two of the colonists' huge feline companions, their starcats.

On a routine patrol, she and the other cadets are swept up in the greatest challenge yet to be faced by the settlers of Frontier. Now they find themselves on the very frontline of a war they knew nothing about, and possibly the Federation of Race's last chance against the hostile Garsal. Suddenly their world has changed, and in ways never dreamed of by Shanna and her fellow scouts.


My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Author Blurb: Growing up in Western Australia, Leonie was an avid reader from an early age. Her mother vividly recalls her stating “I can read faster with my eyes than you can with your mouth, Mum…” at around the age of six. Her parents and great aunt encouraged her interest in literature, providing her with books of many different genres, and . She began writing during high school, placing in the Western Australian Young Writers Award in 1980, and she fondly remembers several of her English teachers, who encouraged her to write, both fiction and poetry.

Leonie trained at Curtin University as a physiotherapist and moved to the remote north west of Western Australia, as a new graduate, in late 1986. She continued to write poetry for herself and for friends. Living in the remote northwest, she had the opportunity to work with camels, fight fires as a volunteer fire fighter, and develop vertical rescue and cyclone operation skills with the State Emergency Service.

After relocating to NSW with her husband and two children, Leonie continued to work as a physiotherapist, while still dabbling with writing. Finally deciding to stop procrastinating, Leonie decided to write the novel she’d had sitting in the back of her head for the last twenty years. Her husband and two teenage children have been extremely tolerant of the amount of time she has devoted to writing in the last few years.


Author Interview

1. Can you tell us a little about how you started writing?

I began writing in high school.  I’d always been an avid reader, and then I discovered that I liked to write.  I had two particular English teachers who encouraged me, and I’ve often wondered if I might encounter them again and say thank you for the words that kept me writing.  For a long time, I mostly wrote free form poetry, but I’d had a novel bumping around in the back of my head for a long time, and I finally decided to write it down.

2.  Can you tell us a little about Starcats and how you were inspired to write about them?
Which Starcat is your favorite?

I love cats.  When I was a kid, we had cats we chose, cats that chose us, and then as a young adult, Spike came into my life.  He was the coolest cat in the universe.  He was a sleek black cat who hung (literally) around on the back of chairs and loved carrots so much that he was known to thieve them by breaking into the cars of unsuspecting visitors.

When I began to write about Shanna, I knew she was going to have animal companions of some description, and then an image of a massive black cat, with glowing markings appeared in my mind and the first starcat was born.  As you’ve probably noticed, starcats are real cats - they like sleeping on the bed, and have vast quantities of character and personality.

My favourite starcat?  Possibly Boots whose personality mimics Spike’s.  Or Satin, who is a queen of cats.  But then there’s Twister, who climbs trees, or Storm the dependable.  To be honest, I wish starcats weren’t just a figment of my imagination, because I want one too!

3.  Shanna is a terrific protagonist. How do you come up with characters? Which was the hardest to write? Which was the most fun? Did any of them surprise you?

My characters appear as pictures in my head.  This whole book started with an image of a girl scaling a massive cliff face.  I immediately knew she was on a different planet, and was clever, courageous and intrepid.

Most of my characters appear like that - they form fully sprung from an image, and they have their own back story, and personality.  It’s sort of weird, but that’s how they are. 

Probably the hardest character to write was Master Cerren.  I needed to have him recognisably different, and adult.  He needed to be compassionate but a bit of an enigma.

I really enjoyed writing Boots.  The starcats are characters themselves.  They’re not just the token animal.  Boots has a sense of humour, likes to be comfortable, and is oozing with self confidence.  I particularly enjoyed writing about his courting of Satin.

Probably the character who surprised me most was Socks.  She was originally just going to be a token mention.  She had other ideas.  Her sense of humour and delight in aiding and abetting Master Cerren snuck its way into the story, and established her as a character in her own right. 


4.  I was really impressed with your world building. Did you have experience exploring yourself? How did you research your setting?

I’ve lived in Australia all of my life.  One of the most wonderful things about Australia is its diversity of environment and weird animals.  It’s a huge country.  As a child, I went on camping holidays with my family, which involved fishing and climbing in the Stirling Ranges in the South West of Western Australia, and as kids we were always playing outside in creeks and in the bush. Later, as a student, I bushwalked with friends, and went and climbed hills in the middle of the night to see Haley’s Comet. 

As a young physio, I moved to the remote northwest of Western Australia, and had the unique opportunity to train camels with an uncle, and then walk them around 500km in about three weeks, through the Pilbara.  As a member of the State Emergency Service, I learnt about and participated in cyclone operations, vertical rescue, map reading and navigation, and walked and swam in some of the most remote and beautiful places in the Pilbara.  Over the years, my husband and I have visited some amazing places all over Australia and New Zealand.

When I began to write about Frontier, I (again) began from that picture in my mind - a girl scaling a massive cliff above rampant vegetation.  I once read that you should write what you know, so I pulled the experiences of multiple cyclones, a wide variety of environments and climates out of the back of my brain, and then began to invent.  I knew it needed to be dangerous, and I knew the colonists needed to be able to use the environment to survive, so I gradually built this picture up in my mind - geography, vegetation, wildlife.  I drew maps, scribbled all kinds of things in my notes, and then worked hard on trying to keep things consistent.

5.  What can we expect from your characters in the future?

Some of them grow up a bit!  There are some startling revelations from some others.  A couple of new starcats have wriggled their way into the plot line - this seems to be a starcat thing - and there’s a few characters that have needed a bit more development.  There will be quite a bit of drama in this next book, and some sadness.  You can’t take on an alien race and come out completely unscathed unfortunately.  I’m writing busily most days, on Book 2.  

Wow, I need to read the next book pronto! You'd all better line up for your copies of this great book! 

Tune in tomorrow for the interview with Shanna, the main character of the book!
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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Review of Frontier Incursion by Leonie Rogers and New International Giveaway!

Frontier Incursion I'm excited to showcase another promising new writer, Leonie Rogers, and her book, Frontier Incursion!

Goodreads Book Description: For Shanna, joining the Scout Corps had been a dream come true. The Scouts were charged with expanding their knowledge of Frontier, a hostile planet their ancestors had crashlanded on 300 years before. As the youngest in her class, Shanna struggles to find acceptance and respect amongst her older peers - a task made more difficult by the fact that she has not just one, but two of the colonists' huge feline companions, their starcats.

On a routine patrol, she and the other cadets are swept up in the greatest challenge yet to be faced by the settlers of Frontier. Now they find themselves on the very frontline of a war they knew nothing about, and possibly the Federation of Race's last chance against the hostile Garsal. Suddenly their world has changed, and in ways never dreamed of by Shanna and her fellow scouts.


My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My Review: The author gave me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Frontier Incursion by Leonie Rogers was an unexpected find for me-- I didn't realize I would love it so much! This book stars Shanna (and to a lesser extent her brother, Kaiden), who is a teenager who has decided to become part of the Scouts, an organization whose purpose is to explore the uncharted territories of their planet. She has grown up training Starcats, the gorgeous colorful panther like creatures, who are the permanent companions of each Scout. She brings this talent to the group. Dangers lurk on their home planet as well as beyond, and the Scouts need to use all of their talents together to save the planet they call home.

There are so many wonderful things about this book. Possibly the strongest aspect of the book is Shanna, the true heroine of the piece. She is likeable and spunky, and it is easy to read about her as she works very hard to learn new skills but with a humility beyond her years. She struggles with trying to teach an older classmate, which is an intriguing storyline. But even more, I marveled at the world building. The starcats are an ingenious invention-- they are beautifully written and described-- I wish I had one of my own! I loved all the adventures Below, the uncharted terrain of their home planet, and all of the new species that they encounter of both plant and animal life. It is clear that the author has had some experience with this kind of camping/exploration. The novel shines at these points.

My one big issue with this novel was the introduction of the "bad guys." Small paragraphs about them are scattered after each chapter, without really adding much. I imagined what the book would be like without these additions and only having the book through Shanna's eyes, and I think it would have been stronger that way. The small advances in plot could have easily been hidden from us until Shanna observed them directly herself.

Overall, a very strong first novel with terrific characters and world building. I'll definitely be watching for the sequel. 


Now enter to win her terrific book, OR the grand prize of her book + $50 Amazon Gift card! If you don't have an e-reader, you are still in the running for the gift card OR a signed book card!
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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Insider Tips: How to get Free or Cheap Books

Grand opening of a new tab on my blog! I figured I've learned a lot in the almost year of blogging and wanted to share some of these great tips with my loyal readers. So this is the first post of this type. It'll usually be on Tuesdays, just like Curmudgeon's Corner is on alternating Thursdays.

For those of you who have been following me, you know that the initial reason I got into this whole business is to get free books. I loved reading, but I was realizing that I was spending outrageous amounts of money per month on books. So I decided to find ways to make this more affordable, and wanted to share these tips with all of my loyal readers!

1. Go to a library.
I know this sounds trite, but if you have the time and ability to get there, this is a great way of getting lots of books and not having to keep them if they're terrible. Plus, now with the event of e-readers, many libraries have ways that you can download copies for a short period of time for free. That said, there can be waiting lines for some of the more popular books.

2. Write reviews.
This is how I got started. There are several websites that promote free books that will be either sent directly to you via email OR shipped to your house free of charge if you agree to write a review. Some websites that have been very consistent and high rates of getting books:

I. Librarything.com - There are several ways to get books on this site.

A. The first is through the Early Reviewers program. I highly recommend this program, as you can get big upcoming books for free from the publisher in exchange for a review, and you don't have to own a blog or anything. You sign up for the books that sound interesting each month, and you pretty consistently get books every other month. Make sure to write a review though because it counts against you if you don't and you will be less likely to get a book in the future.

B. Member giveaways- this is another aspect of librarything.com where members post their own giveaways. You don't get penalized for not writing a review, but you are more likely to get more books if you do so. This is a hit or miss place-- you get a lot of books, but they aren't usually that good. I spent a large amount of time here initially just because of the volume of the books I would receive, but I admit I don't really use it any more.

C. Sign up for a group for Freebies on Librarything. There is a link to join groups, and there are some that promote free giveaways on a variety of different websites.

II. Goodreads

A. First Reads. Goodreads hosts giveaways on a regular basis from books that are just coming out in their First Reads program. You can sign up for as many as you want and the rate of return is not too bad-- I generally get a book every few months. These also tend to be better quality books.

B. Goodreads Groups. There are a variety of Giveaway book groups, and if you join those and visit them regularly, you'll be alerted to several giveaways. The more groups you sign up for, the more likely you will find good giveaways. Also, sign up for groups in the genre you are interested in. There are usually sections where people list freebies and giveaways in.

III. Amazon

A. Vine Program: I don't know a lot about this, since it's rather a secretive group of people who review. Amazon says that if you have a lot of people who like your reviews, your chances increase to get into the program, as it is still invite only. I think this is a bit of hogwash, as I've seen people in the Vine program who are ranked in the 10,000 range, and I'm ranked close to 500 and still am not in the program. So I think it's a bit random. But if you are lucky enough to get into this program, you'll have your selection of books about to come out and will be able to post your review for these books earlier than other reviewers, which is a nice bonus.

IV. Netgalley

A website where you can download free e-copies of books yet to be published-- your odds are better if you have a blog, but if you write reviews, you can still get books.

3. Visit blogs who regularly host giveaways.
The best way to get new members and interest to your blog is to host giveaways. I usually host a giveaway every week to every other week. There are other blogs that host giveaway hops, which are a very popular way of getting both a lot of attention for individual blogs AND letting people sign up for many giveaways at once, increasing the odds of winning a book. The best place to find the best giveaway blog hops is at the wonderful blog, I Am a Reader, Not a Writer Blog.

4. Amazon Free Books
There are tons of free books on Amazon, especially the "classics," which is nice to get a copy for your kindle on books that you loved.

5. Amazon Daily Kindle Deals
This is a terrific way to get a book you've been wanting to read at a highly discounted price. The new YA books usually run around $10, and if you sign up for Daily Kindle Deals, you can many times find a book for $2-3. 

Hope this helps you guys find some great free and cheap books! If you have any other tips, please comment and I'll add it to the post and check it out myself!

Monday, February 25, 2013

The Saga of the Setti by Stephanie Judice and INT Giveaway!

I'm so excited to introduce a talented new writer, Stephanie Judice who has written the Saga of the Setti, of which the first two books are out!
Rising (saga of the seti #1) Goodreads Book Description: Having waited a millennium to return to the fertile feeding ground of earth, the dark giants break through a portal and storm out into the world in the guise of a massive hurricane—famished and fierce. Across the ocean, seventeen-year-old Gabriel Goddard is being plagued by terrifying nightmares about creatures that singe and burn the flesh then absorb the life energy of humans and devour the ashes. A chance meeting with Clara Dunaway immediately distracts Gabe from bad dreams. He has always had a sort of sixth sense—to feel the emotions of others around him. Clara’s presence numbs his other sense, nearly knocking him into a hypnotic state. Bewildered and fascinated, he is lured in by her. When Clara finally confesses that she has a similar gift to see auras around people, a spark flames between them, ignited by a paranormal force. Fate soon reveals that there is a higher purpose for their attraction. Along with Jeremy, the head-bangin’ metal head; Ben, the air-headed golden boy; Melanie, the kind- hearted Creole; and the old hermit named Homer, they must face this enemy as one. Discovering that they are descended from an ancient clan of Norse warriors, they awaken their dormant powers, preparing for the dark giants' imminent invasion of their home. A shadow of darkness veils the land. Will the Setti rise to fulfill their long-awaited destiny?

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My Review: Rising Review 

Author Blurb:
Stephanie Judice calls lush, moss-laden New Iberia, Louisiana, home where the landscape curls into her imagination creating mystical settings for her stories. She shares her small, southern lifestyle with her husband and four children. As a high school teacher of English and Fine Arts, she is immersed in mythology, legends, and art that serve as constant inspiration for her writings. Some of her favorite things are autumn leaves, southern accents, Gothic architecture, Renaissance festivals, family movie nights, and, of course, William Shakespeare. Writing is her haven for self-expression where imagination rules and dreams do come true.

Author Interview:
1. I always love to hear how authors got their start in writing. Can you tell us a little about how you started and what made you decide to self-publish?
I actually started writing in high school when my 10th grade English teacher had us create a short story. I ended up majoring in and receiving a BA in Creative Writing. I’ve been writing personally for quite some time. However, I took a loooooong siesta during the baby-making years. I started writing seriously again about eight years ago, but never felt these first novels quite hit the mark. When I dipped into the YA paranormal genre, it just felt right, probably because I spend so many hours with snarky, crazy, witty teens all day.

2. I love your world building. Tell us how you came up with the world of Setti and what inspired you.
Thank you.  When I set out to write the Setti series, I knew only three things. One, I wanted the story to revolve around a group of unassuming heroes/heroines who needed to depend on each other in order to survive, rather than one lone hero saving the world on his own. This is why the powers of the Setti must work together to defeat the enemy. Two, I wanted to create my own monsters that didn’t already exist, like vampires and werewolves, but could have if you delved deeply enough into old lore and mythical tales. Tolkien is one of my favorite writers, so I imagine the reapers ooze evil (as Tolkien’s creations do) because of his influence. And, three, my story would be about great loss and great triumph; hope and redemption; and the ultimate notion that good always prevails over evil. (Eternal optimist is me.)

3. Who has been your greatest cheerleader and why?

My husband. Funny, because he doesn’t read YA and has only read snippets of my books. But, he is the unwavering strength behind me. I believe all writers have moments of self-doubt, needing that steadfast force to push you further. Kevin is mine.

Having said that, I don’t believe I could maintain momentum without my devoted book friends I’ve met on Goodreads and Facebook since this whole journey started. (You know who you are, my lovely, kindred spirits.)

4. Which has been your favorite character to write and why? Did any of them surprise you?

This is SO hard to answer. Though Jeremy is such a blast to write into scenes, because he’s always saying something snarky and being a bad boy, I’d have to say Clara is my favorite. She’s not perfect. She’s quite flawed, and I enjoy writing her internal monologue as she struggles to do the right thing. She surprised me in RESISTANCE, because she made a huge mistake I wasn’t exactly planning.

Similarly, Michael often surprises me, because he gets what he wants when he wants it (either to the readers’ great joy or dismay, depending how you feel about him). He demands scenes to go a certain way even when I had no intention of writing things his way. Pushy scoundrel, that Michael.

5. Do you write outlines ahead of time or do you just see where your characters take you?

A little of both. I never have a timeline, per se, but I do take notes of plot elements I want to occur. I generally think about my characters and their scenes over and over again so the story takes root in my mind before I begin to write. Around midway through the novel, I will write a timeline of scenes that need to occur in a particular order building to the climax of the story. But sometimes things occur I never planned.

6. Who is your favorite YA author and why?

Richelle Mead, author of the Vampire Academy series. Rose Hathaway was the first teen heroine that truly inspired me to write YA. I was never impressed by Stephenie Meyers’ weak, clumsy, emo heroine Bella. I’m much more moved by teen characters who are strong and confident, even though they’re not perfect. Mead does this extremely well.

7. What was your favorite YA read of the past year? 


I’d say Blood Warrior by H.D. Gordon. Like Mead, her heroine is tough and tenacious, but also human enough to be relatable for the reader.

8. Are you a dog or cat person? Do you have any pets? 


Haha! Cat person. I have two. Petie is a fluffy gray female. We also have her daughter, Cleopatra. (Named after her dark-lined eyes, very Egyptian-looking). Love kitties!

9. Tell us a little bit about what you have in store for your characters without giving too much away!

I’m currently writing book three in the Setti series, REVOLUTION.  In RESISTANCE, we left off shortly after a deadly battle against the reapers at their training camp, Mount Haven. Book three begins in New York as they prepare for the reapers’ invasion of the city. Whereas the tone of the last book was dark and creepy-quiet as the enemy stalks our heroes and heroines across the U.S., the tone for this one is breaking with tension and passion as our central characters confront their fears, mistakes, and a perilous future. This book is definitely a turning point for Clara, Gabe, and others transformed by grief and a need for redemption.
Thank you, Christina, for having me here today! I so enjoyed sharing with your readers a little about myself and the series. Keep on reading and dreaming, everyone! 
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Sunday, February 24, 2013

Review of Resistance by Stephanie Judice and International Giveaway

Resistance (Saga of the Setti, #2) Goodreads Book Description: The world is covered in darkness. A constant gray pall reminds the Setti that reapers are still here—watching, waiting, hunting. Gabe, Clara, and their clan must leave the relative safety of Beau ChĂȘne, Louisiana, in order to train with others gathering in the north. No one knows what lurks when night falls. Yet, Gabe and Clara both know that they must chance the danger in order to fulfill a dark destiny.

While Gabe grows in confidence, Clara begins to doubt everything, including her feelings for Gabe. Looming between them is a growing chasm. Clara’s constant defiance against Gabe begins to sever the bond between them. New clansman and fellow Guardian, Michael, steps in all too willingly to take Gabe’s place as her confidant and more. Good-looking and self-assured, Clara finds his charms difficult to resist. She wonders why she should resist at all.

Jessie, now a shadow scout, defies the reapers’ malevolent power. She reaches out to Clara, yearning for the impossible—to be free of the reapers’ enslavement.

Beyond Clara’s battle to save a lost loved one and to keep Gabe close to her heart, another threat stirs, whispering to Clara in the dark. Something evil hunts her. Will she listen to the one who calls to her in nightmares and eventually finds her in the flesh? Will she succumb to his will or will she cling to her human soul and her human heart?


My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My Review: I was approached by the author with the second installment of the Setti trilogy, which started with the Rising. I thought Judice was promising then, but was waiting to see what else she would come up with. I was not disappointed. These two books have the same number of stars awarded by me, but I believe this second book is stronger than the first.

In Resistance, we meet up with our band of Setti again, after a confusing and long first chapter (I'll get to that in a moment), and it's a great reunion. I loved the characters in the first book, and we get to see them all again in the aftermath following the first book. We still get alternating perspectives of Clara and Gabe. Clara is still grieving and Gabe tries to give her space. Soon the gang travels and finds another band of Setti, which makes everything more difficult, once the characters realize they have a connection with those Setti with the same power. This leads to some romantic twists and turns. It's interesting because I was not that enamored with Gabe in the first one, but this book (mostly because of some plot twists) has me firmly in his camp. He's still not the most enigmatic character-- that title goes to Jessie, and I hope none of you remembers who she is yet, because I love how she comes back into the story.

So the things I loved: the plot twists, getting to see familiar characters that I really enjoyed the first time around, some solid writing, and a re-introduction of a terrific character and side plot. I love the world building of the Setti and their different powers. I have to say, I rarely get sucked into a book to the point that I don't put it down. This was one of those.

That said, this isn't a perfect book. The first chapter is very distracting because it is a long flashback to their ancestors, and honestly, that was the point where it was hardest to get into the story. If you get stuck here, just scan to the next chapter where you get the characters back. Secondly, I totally do not like Clara at this point. That's okay, it's the second book, she has some time to redeem herself-- but can be a dangerous move, since she was so awesome in the first book. Lastly, Judice falls into a partial trap where a lot of authors do-- since her character numbers are tripling with the meeting of other Setti, it's hard to keep everyone in scenes for us to remember who they are and what their power is. I found myself not remembering or caring that much, but she does do a good job centering the story on the two main characters.

Overall, Judice gets stronger with every book, and if the trend continues, the third should be the strongest of all. 


Please enter this great giveaway!
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Updates

Dear All:
I hope you are all having a relaxing weekend! Just a few updates.

1. I have re-opened for a few more reviews, since I had one cancellation, and zipped through the rest pretty easily! So send me your novels!

2. Don't forget to enter some terrific giveaways, the latest being The Saga of the Setti, YA paranormal Giveaway!

3. Look out for some great upcoming interviews/giveaways. And as always, I love comments about what you want to see on my blog!

Thanks everyone, and have a great week!
Christina

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Review of Rising by Stephanie Judice and International Giveaway

Rising (saga of the seti #1) I'm very excited to introduce this talented new writer, Stephanie Judice and a new International Giveaway!

Goodreads Book description: Having waited a millennium to return to the fertile feeding ground of earth, the dark giants break through a portal and storm out into the world in the guise of a massive hurricane—famished and fierce. Across the ocean, seventeen-year-old Gabriel Goddard is being plagued by terrifying nightmares about creatures that singe and burn the flesh then absorb the life energy of humans and devour the ashes. A chance meeting with Clara Dunaway immediately distracts Gabe from bad dreams. He has always had a sort of sixth sense—to feel the emotions of others around him. Clara’s presence numbs his other sense, nearly knocking him into a hypnotic state. Bewildered and fascinated, he is lured in by her. When Clara finally confesses that she has a similar gift to see auras around people, a spark flames between them, ignited by a paranormal force. Fate soon reveals that there is a higher purpose for their attraction. Along with Jeremy, the head-bangin’ metal head; Ben, the air-headed golden boy; Melanie, the kind- hearted Creole; and the old hermit named Homer, they must face this enemy as one. Discovering that they are descended from an ancient clan of Norse warriors, they awaken their dormant powers, preparing for the dark giants' imminent invasion of their home. A shadow of darkness veils the land. Will the Setti rise to fulfill their long-awaited destiny?

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My Review:  I was asked by the author to read and review her book Rising, the first in a trilogy (Saga of the Setti).

Rising by Stephanie Judice is a riveting read about two main protagonists, Gabe (the token hot guy) and Clara, the outspoken girl. We are first introduced to Gabe who has the power to sense others emotions, and he falls for Clara. Together, they realize something ominous is heading their way and they work together to figure out how to save their loved ones and their town.

I don't want to give away too much because the secrets of this novel are very fun to figure out. I loved Clara as a protagonist, and there are a strong set of supporting characters, including the terrific Jeremy, the ever happy Ben, and the fiercely intellectual Mel. I have to say that I was less enamored with Gabe, possibly because the other characters are more interesting when placed in direct comparison. I thought the first half of the novel was extremely strong. We have great development of the world and the characters, and a self contained plot even though it is a trilogy. We have growth and development of both protagonists through their relationships and what they learn. The darkness that they fight is scary indeed-- maybe a combination of dementors from Harry Potter and demons from Buffy.

There were a few minor issues I had with the book. First, while I do love smart teenagers, I felt that the parents were painted as extremely one dimensional especially Clara's mom, which becomes more important later on. Also, I felt like the first half was stronger than the second half, as it was more centered on the characters than the action.

That said, this is a very strong first novel, and I really enjoyed reading it.


Stephanie has just come out with the second novel, which is just as or better than the first novel! Stay tuned for my review of her sequel and also the great author interview she sent me! But for now, sign up to enter this great giveaway.

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Friday, February 22, 2013

Interview with Kaitlin Bevis, author of Persephone and International Giveaway

Welcome back, everyone! I'm thrilled to introduce a terrific new writer, Kaitlin Bevis, who has been writing some great books you all need to read!

Persephone (Daughters of Zeus #1)Goodreads Book Description: There are worse things than death, worse people too.

The “talk” was bad enough, but how many teens get told that they’re a goddess? When her mom tells her, Persephone is sure her mother has lost her mind. It isn’t until Boreas, the god of winter, tries to abduct her that she realizes her mother was telling the truth. Hades rescues her, and in order to safely bring Persephone to the Underworld he marks her as his bride. But Boreas will stop at nothing to get Persephone. Despite her growing feelings for Hades, Persephone wants to return to the living realm. Persephone must find a way to defeat Boreas and reclaim her life.


My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Daughter of the Earth and Sky (Daughters of Zeus, #2)Goodreads Book Description: Some vows can never be broken.
Persephone thought she could go back to her normal life after returning from the Underworld. She was wrong. The goddess Aphrodite is born among the waves with more charm than she can control. Zeus is stalking Persephone and her loved ones, and Thanatos is no longer content with Persephone’s silence.

He wants her soul.

Persephone can’t tell anyone about Thanatos’ betrayal, and it drives a wedge between her and Hades. Her mother is still keeping secrets, and Melissa’s jealousy of Aphrodite threatens to tear their friendship apart.
 

Alone, Persephone turns to a human boy for comfort. But will their relationship put him in danger?
Sacrifices must be made, and Persephone must choose between her human life and her responsibilities as a goddess. If she doesn’t, she could lose them both.
But will either life be worth choosing once Zeus is through with her?

  
My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars



Kaitlin BevisAuthor Blurb: Kaitlin Bevis spent her childhood curled up with a book and a pen. If the ending didn't agree with her, she rewrote it. She's always wanted to be a writer, and spent high school and college learning everything she could so that one day she could achieve that goal. She graduated college with a BFA in English with a concentration in Creative Writing, and is pursuing her masters at the University of Georgia. Her young adult fiction series, "Daughters of Zeus," and her short story "Siren Song" are available for purchase in ebookstores everywhere. She also writes for Athens Parent Magazine, and truuconfessions.com.
 
Author Interview

 
1. I love hearing stories about how authors start writing. Can you tell us a little about yourself and how you got started?



I've always loved writing. Even before I could write I was making up stories. I started writing my first book in middle school. It's pretty terrible, but I kept at it. I majored in English in college with a concentration in creative writing. I'm part of a writers group and write every free minute of my time. I love to write.


2. Greek myths play a large role in your book, Persephone. What got you interested in Greek myths and what inspired you to write a story based on them?

I'm just very interested in where everything comes from. We tell the same stories over and over again. Persephone, phantom of the opera, beauty and the beast. There's something about the Greek myths, Persephone's in particular, that pull at us, inspire us to rewrite it. Maybe because it feels incomplete. Everyone wants to finish it. To put their own spin on it. I caught the bug and it still hasn't let go of me.

3. I love strong female characters and Persephone is definitely one. Did you have a favorite character in your book-- if so, which one and why? Which one was the most fun to write about?

I really like Melissa. I used to read all kinds of fantasy and I would wish and dream and hope for it to all be real, and then I came to a disturbing realization. If these magical things were real, and only certain people could access it, I probably wasn't one of those people. It sounds more depressing than it is.

Melissa is that character. She's living in reality while all around her fantastic and crazy things happen. It would be a tough place to be, and sometimes she doesn't handle it well, but she does try to be a good friend despite it all.

4. What is your favorite YA book of all time and your favorite YA read of this year?

Of all time, Tamsin by Peter Beagle. It's a beautiful story. Of this year, I'm not sure which specific one, but I got really into the Soul Screamer series. I can't wait for the last one to come out!

5. Do you outline or do you just write and see what happens?

I have a general outline that I write. Just the major plot points, but once I write it I don't tend to look at it again. For the most part I just write and see where the story takes me.

6. Tell us what Persephone and friends have to look forward to in future books without giving too much away!

Persephone spends her trilogy coming to terms with her new identity as a goddess. What it means. What she has to give up. What she gains. For most of book two she's trying desperately hard to hold on to both identities, human and divine. In the third book, she has to deal with some really big problems that I can't figure out how to go into without spoiling book one.

After Persephone's trilogy, I'll be starting Aphrodite's.
 

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