Friday, March 28, 2014

Interview with Hannah Parry, author of Isabella Rockwell's War, and INT Giveaway!

Hello, readers! I'm thrilled to have Hannah Parry here today, the first author interview I've done in a while! She wrote the wonderful Isabella Rockwell's War, which is one of the best middle grade books I've read in a while. You should all give it a shot!

Isabella Rockwell's War Goodreads Book Description: Raised in 1820’s India, twelve year old Isabella Rockwell can ride and shoot as well as any of the soldiers in her father’s regiment. These skills, however, are of no use to her when she finds herself on the frozen streets of London, orphaned and alone.

Tormented by guilt over the deaths of those who loved her, she vows never to be responsible for anyone’s life again. If she can scrape together enough money, she will return to India. But Isabella cannot shake the creeping feeling that something is not right; that something threatens not only her new best friend, but the throne of England itself. 

Having survived this far on her wits alone, will Isabella escape back home to India? Or will she stay with Alix, a girl whose fate seems to be tied up with Isabella’s own? A fate which will have consequences far beyond those Isabella could ever have imagined.

Winner of the Children’s 12+ Fiction Category at Winchester Writer’s Conference, UK. 2012.

My Rating: 4 Couches

My Review: Isabella Rockwell's War by Hannah Parry stars Isabella who is a courageous twelve year old in a bad position. She lives in India but because of terrible circumstances, she is forced to leave by herself to go to England, a cold, harsh place she's never known. Her choices as she arrives are thus: either become a street runaway and have independence or stick around and be sent to an orphanage where she'd work as a servant. She decides to run away and the group of kids she meets and a beautiful girl she saves changes her life forever.

I admit that I got behind on my reading and so I didn't pick up this book until a few days ago. I'm hitting myself, because this is one of the gems in the self publishing world. The tone of the book reminds me of a mix of The Secret Garden and The Little Princess. It's been a while since I read a middle grade book, but this is one that doesn't dumb down the story for its readers. The pacing is great, and I really liked Isabella as a protagonist, who carries the story with her spunkiness. The twists are great too-- I definitely didn't suspect the right person!

The only thing I would suggest is having us meet Alix a little quicker since she is even mentioned in the synopsis. Otherwise, I think this is a very strong debut.

Overall, a really great middle grade read that I'll definitely suggest to that age group to read. 

About Hannah
Hannah Parry was born in the United States, but grew up in the United Kingdom.  She completed a Masters Degree in Creative Writing at Birkbeck College, London in 2011.   Her short stories for adults, “The Chrysalis” and “For What It’s Worth”, have both been published, and her first novel “Isabella Rockwell’s War” won first prize in the 12+ fiction category at the Winchester Writers Conference in June 2012.

She lives in a field outside London, with her husband and daughter and too many pets.  She has just finished writing the sequel to Isabella Rockwell’s War, Fever Quest, for publication in February 2014.

Interview with Hannah 
1. Tell us a little bit about your story to becoming a writer!
I  always read a lot, but I didn’t really think about writing until I was in my thirties.  When I was in my twenties I used to scribble stuff (usually how sorry for myself I was feeling!) in the back of my address book, but I didn’t really appreciate what I was doing at the time.  When my niece, Isabella,  was born in 2002, I wrote her a little picture book story which no one wanted to publish, but one very kind agent wrote back to me and said ‘keep writing’.  So one day, I sat down and started to write the kind of book I would have loved when I was twelve, and it grew into Isabella Rockwell’s War.

2. Why did you feel drawn to write Isabella's story? And why middle grade?
When I was twelve all I really wanted to do was ride horses and run around, which is why I think this ended up Middle Grade rather than Young Adult.  I had a very soft spot for Zachariah and kept thinking something might happen between him and Isabella, but it just never materialised.  I just don’t think she was old enough.  It’s quite nice to have the possibility of a relationship lurking around in the background, though, – especially as I’ve just finished the second one and have a third in mind.

3. I love your characters. Were any of them inspired by people you know? Did you have a favorite character? Which one was the most unexpected? 
It’s not so much that the characters were inspired by people I know, more that as I created the characters they would speak and behave in a way I would recognise as being similar to someone I knew.  I didn’t do it intentionally and no, I’m not going to tell you who… 

Apart from Isabella, I am very fond of both Midge and Abhaya, Isabella’s nanny who doesn’t appear in person, just in Isabella’s thoughts.  I didn’t have to think about either one of them – they just talked their way in!   The most difficult to write was Zachariah, he was a real dark horse, but his past had been so troubled, I think he would always be the type of person for whom talking about his feelings would be hard. 
Prince Ernest is the one who taught me to listen to what’s going on with the book and not to force it into what I think it should be.  (Someone very famous said about writing that ‘the book’s the boss’ – I think this is what they meant.)

4. Which authors and books have inspired you?
I’m so thrilled you compared it to The Little Princess, as that is one of my all time favourites.  The author MM Kaye wrote two love stories set in India at the time of the Indian mutiny in 1857 – The Far Pavillions and Shadow of the Moon.  The Indians tried to depose the British who had made India part of the British Empire because of its wealth.  There was terrible bloodshed, and many thousands of English were killed, but what moved me the most was MM Kaye’s story  of Indian servants giving up their lives to save the children of the British families they served.  I kept thinking about why a person would be that self-sacrificing and this is where the book really started, with Isabella and Abhaya.

5. What words of advice do you have for aspiring writers?
If you want to write, you must read.  And then you must write.  And then you must show people what you have written (this is the hard part…)  I joined an online writing group, so no one could see me crying when they said my writing was rubbish (which it was).  But I got better, because those people taught me.  And I was happy to be taught, after I’d sulked for a bit.

6. What's next? Will we ever see Isabella and her friends again?
Yes, hooray – I finally finished the sequel to Isabella Rockwell’s War and it is called Fever Quest.  It is with an editor at the moment and I am hoping it will be out at the beginning of May.  The cover is being designed now which is thrilling.  It was harder to write than IRW, but the early readers seem to like it – I’m just hoping the editor does!  In the meantime I have bitten off all my nails…
Hannah, thanks so much for joining us today! And now, Hannah has generously offered THREE, count them THREE great prizes! Each winner will receive a signed copy of Isabella Rockwell's War + $20 Amazon GC!
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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Cover Reveal: My Not So Super Sweet Life by Rachel Harris

Hey readers! I'm so thrilled to help out with the cover reveal for one of my favorite authors, Rachel Harris, who also happens to be one of the sweetest people I know as well! I loved the first two books in this series, so you can be sure I'll be picking up this one! Do the right thing and pick up the whole series!

Cat Crawford just wants to be normal—or at least as normal as a daughter of Hollywood royalty can be. And it looks like fate is granting her wish: she’s got an amazing boyfriend, Lucas; her fabulous cousin, Alessandra, living with her; and her dad planning his second marriage to a great future stepmom. That is, until her prodigal mother reveals on national television that she has something important to tell her daughter…causing a media frenzy.

Lucas Capelli knows his fate is to be with Cat, and he’s worked hard to win her over once and for all. Unfortunately, Lucas has his own issues to deal with, including a scandal that could take him away from the first place he’s truly belonged.

As secrets are revealed, rumors explode, and the world watches, Cat and Lucas discover it’s not fate they have to fight if they want to stay together…this time, it’s their own insecurities.

Well, and the stalkerazzi.

PUB DATE: April 21st, 2014


About Rachel:
Rachel Harris writes humorous love stories about sassy girls-next-door and the hot guys that make them swoon. Emotion, vibrant settings, and strong families are a staple in each of her books...and kissing. Lots of kissing.
A Cajun cowgirl now living in Houston, she firmly believes life's problems can be solved with a hot, sugar-coated beignet or a thick slice of king cake, and that screaming at strangers for cheap, plastic beads is acceptable behavior in certain situations. She homeschools her two beautiful girls and watches way too much Food Network with her amazing husband.
An admitted Diet Mountain Dew addict, she gets through each day by laughing at herself, hugging her kids, and losing herself in story. She writes young adult, new adult, and adult romances, and LOVES talking with readers!

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Saturday, March 22, 2014

An Impromptu Giveaway of Box of YA books (US and INT)

Dear All:
I know it's been a while since I've posted, and I'm sorry. But I have a few goodies up my sleeve, which may make it worth it!

Life has been really hectic with work so I haven't gotten to read much. But the past two days, I've read a ton for some reason. It's like the reader's block has gone away. So you guys should be getting some reviews on my blog sometime soon :-)

And now, for the goodies!

This is my giveaway shelf. Not the greatest picture, but you get a sense for what's on there.

I will be giving away up to TWO boxes of YA books (US only), ONE PER WINNER. I will shove as many books that will fit into the box.

US winners will be able to request ONE book to be in their box. The rest is up to me. There can be one INT winner, who will win a $10 Amazon GC.

I love you guys, and it's been a while, so that's why I'm doing this. 

The only thing I ask is: if you 1) already read the book and don't want it or 2) read it and don't want to keep it, PLEASE PLEASE pass it along to someone else who can read it who you think might love it. Pass the love!

All right. This giveaway will end in a little less than a week. Go for it!

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Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Blog Tour: Review of ASTRAL TIDE by Anna Silver

Hey, guys! I'm excited to be part of Anna Silver's blog tour, for ASTRAL TIDE, the sequel to OTHERBORN! If you've been following along, I really enjoyed OTHERBORN last year and have been waiting anxiously for this follow up.

Book Description:

London and her friends are fugitives in a reprocessed world where anything New is illegal. But as Otherborn, they’re different. They can dream and create, which hasn’t gone unnoticed. After fleeing Capital City with an assassin on their heels, the Otherborn found nothing went according to plan. 

Now, they are down by two and on the run in the Outroads, but the Tycoons keep mysteriously gaining on them. And seven months later, London is no closer to her promise to go back for Rye, if there is anything left to go back for. But Zen is teaching London that there may be more to her heart than the pieces she left behind, and London can’t help but feel guilty about not looking back since they fled New Eden. Should she hold on to hope that Rye is more than just a memory, or embrace a new life and love with Zen?

In their race to outrun their enemies, one thing is becoming increasingly clear: they can only run for so long. Eventually, they’ll have to face what waits when the road runs out. Eventually, their fates will catch up to them.

Author Bio:
Anna Silver is an author and artist living in the greater Houston area with her family, pets, and overactive imagination. Her art has been featured in the Houston gallery Las Manos Magicas. She studied English Writing & Rhetoric at St. Edward’s University. She's freelanced for private clients and small publications like the Hill Country Current. OTHERBORN, her first published novel, has been featured on 2 of Amazon's "Bestsellers" lists. She is represented by Rebecca Podos and Nicole LaBombard of Rees Literary Agency.

My Rating: 4 Couches

My Review: After greatly enjoying OTHERBORN, I was eager to get my hands on this followup. Anna Silver does not disappoint.

We immediately get thrust back into the story, where our main character, London, and her friends are on the run from the Tycoons. We see the aftermath from the first book's cliffhanger ending, and London doesn't know who to trust or where to turn. Along the way, the gang meets new people, new adventures, but never lose sight of why they are there-- to get people to start dreaming again. Plus, London may be developing a new love interest in this installment. Will London be able to stay true to her goals and her heart?

There are many wonderful things about this book. I always admire authors who write second books in trilogies because so often they sink where their predecessor succeeded. I liked the development of several of the secondary characters, including the hilarious Kim. I liked learning more about the Astral, and especially the introduction of a new character that teaches them more than they could ever thought was possible in the Astral. The last half is very well paced, and I couldn't put it down once I reached that point in the book. London was very prickly in the first book, but she was easily to identify with and like in this installment. Furthermore, the world building is fascinating, and I can't wait to see what's in store for the characters.

Some issues I had-- the first half wasn't as gripping as the second half. I think part of my problem is not a lot happens, and there's a lot of internalization of London's feelings and thoughts. I would just say hang in there, and once you reach that mark, you won't be sorry. I also wasn't thrilled with the development of the love triangle because I thought it was rather convenient for the plot and seemed kind of random.

Issues aside, I think that second books are really tough to write, and this one ends up succeeding. I can't wait to see where Silver takes her characters in the final book of the trilogy!

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Astral Tide book trailer on Youtube:
Astral Tide  paperback listing on Amazon:
Astral Tide ebook listing on Smashwords:
Astral Tide ebook listing on Kobo: 
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