Friday, June 27, 2014

Cover Reveal: A Murder of Magpies by Sarah Bromley and Giveaway!

You guys, one of my favorite things to do as a blogger is support really awesome authors from my home town of St. Louis. I'm so lucky to get to do this! So this cover reveal (and the one earlier this week with Paula Stokes) is for one of our talented writers-- Sarah Bromley! She's such a sweetie, and I'm so glad I get to support her!
 Without further ado... THE COVER!

I absolutely love this cover-- it's creepy, and gives sort of a Poesque vibe. Very striking! But wait, we have more!! Sarah has been kind enough to give me a teaser to share with you all!

I glanced to my brother and father talking to Monsignor. That Jonah hadn’t chased off Ward was a tacit tolerance of him. “A few cuts. I’ll live.” I twisted my black hair, skimming my hips. “You hardly needed to play the white knight. Marty’s not much of a dragon, more like a salamander.”

“Maybe I like fighting salamanders.”

Chipped gray polish colored his nails, artsy in an I-don’t-give-a-damn-I’ll-wear-it-if-it’s-clean way. If Monsignor noticed, that’d earn Ward a detention or two.

“Listen, gadjo.” He didn’t deserve social devastation all because of my cavalier brother. He needed to back off from us. While he still could. “Marty won’t bother you if you don’t bother him. Tangling with him will never be forgotten.”

His mouth twitched, neither a grin nor a frown. “I don’t scare easily.”

He slipped on his headphones once more. Must be nice to be so untouched, unfazed. Must be peaceful.

“Hey,” I called. He lifted one side of his headphones. “What are you listening to?”


Smart ass.


A chair had overturned in Monsignor’s office and rocked ever so slightly. A chair no one had been sitting in. Dad’s muffled voice came fast as he pulled Jonah by the arm. From the dark expression on his face, we were in for a major talking to.

“We need to leave. Now,” Dad said as he steered Jonah out of the office.

He whisked us past the sanctuary where our footfalls echoed on wood floors polished by nuns until glistening. The school was a dour extension off a century-old Catholic parish. The walls in the language arts wing were painted rich blue, the Virgin’s color. Hung between classrooms were carvings from the Stations of the Cross, thick with dust except for the Christ’s gaze, which followed us and knew my family’s secrets and sins.

Outside was better. Riding in the car, the windows lowered to allow in the fire-musk smell of October, but there was something else, an odor of things buried deep in the black earth. Dad steered into a parking lot by a grocery store. The heavy silence in the car made it impossible to push back the memory of the last time we pulled over like this. Instead of a parking lot, it’d been off a highway in a forest in northern Georgia and, with the haze of morning fog guarding the Chevy we’d escaped in, Dad had vowed we were going straight to Black Orchard, a town in Wisconsin near Canada. There, we would start over.

Find somewhere new. Claim different names.

Dad pushed his fingers through his black hair, streaked with silver, and set his eyes, the same green as mine, on my reflection in the rearview mirror. “This stops now. Your mama might’ve called what y’all do Mind Games sp. But I won’t play.”

“Yes, Sir,” Jonah and I answered.

 “Mind Games, if you must work them, are private. Working them in public is how your mama found trouble.” He twisted his wedding band. “We can’t risk a repeat of Georgia.”

I jerked my head to the view out the window. Black Orchard, Wisconsin. Easter egg-colored Victorian homes lined the streets, and people spoke with northern accents, which sounded friendly no matter what they said. But pretty towns and nice people could betray you.

CREEPY!!! But awesome! Can't wait to get my hands on a copy!

And now...  enter to win some great prizes from Sarah!

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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Cover Reveal: Liars, Inc by Paula Stokes!

Guess what, guys?? I am so thrilled to get the chance to show you this awesome, amazing, fabulous cover of LIARS, INC by the equally fantastic Paula Stokes for her February 2015 release, LIARS, INC.


It all starts with one little lie…

Max Cantrell has never been a big fan of the truth, so when the opportunity arises to sell lies to his classmates, it sounds like a good way to make a little money and liven up a boring senior year. With the help of his friends Preston and Parvati, Max starts a business providing forged permission slips and cover stories for the students of Vista Palisades High. Liars, Inc. they call it. Suddenly everybody needs something and the cash starts pouring in. Who knew lying could be so lucrative?

When Preston wants his own cover story to go visit a girl he met online, Max doesn’t think twice about hooking him up. Until Preston never comes home. Then the evidence starts to pile up—terrifying clues that lead the cops to Preston’s body. Terrifying clues that point to Max as the murderer.

Can Max find the real killer before he goes to prison for a crime he didn’t commit? Paula Stokes starts with one single white lie and weaves a twisted tale that will have readers guessing until the explosive final chapters.

And now the moment you’ve been waiting for—THE COVER!

Paula's thoughts on the cover: 
OMG, I’ve been flailing about the awesomeness of this cover since April. I saw it and was basically like HOLY COVER LOTTERY!! :D 

I’ve talked about how LIARS, INC. is very different from THE ART OF LAINEY, and this cover really highlights that. LIARS has first-person narration, a bit of romance, and similar fast-paced dialogue to LAINEY, but that’s where the major similarities end. This book is a dark mystery for fans of I HUNT KILLERS, PRETTY LITTLE LIARS (the TV show, because I’ve never read the books), or old-school Christopher Pike novels. I hope you love it, because if it does well I might get to write a companion novel, and I’m seriously not ready to let go of these characters. Max is a little aloof and slackerish so it might take you time to warm up to him, but his girlfriend Parvati is totally badass and fun, and both of them really grow and change over the course of the novel. (You know how I love me some character development!) And no worries, this is a total standalone book, plotted and written as a solo novel. 

Christina's thoughts on the cover:
AHHHH I just looove how stylish this cover is. It evokes mystery, and the grays, whites, and blacks really enhance the mood/film noir feel of the book. Not to mention the shadow, just pops! Wow! So excited to get to show this off on my blog!

What do you think? Do you like this cover?

Enter to win an ARC of this awesome book!

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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Last Celebration for my Blogoversary: #EnsconcedinLit Twitter Party June 19, 7pm CST, tons of prizes!

I can't believe it's been two years already! Come help finish off the celebration at my Blogoversary Twitter Party!

Just a couple of reminders for the party: 
WHERE: Twitter, use #EnsconcedinLit to join
WHEN: June 19, 7pm CST.
WHO: The Twitter bookish population!
PRIZES:The rest of the Blogoversary giveaway prizes that haven't gone yet! All of them are awesome-- I didn't include anything in prizes that I wouldn't want myself!

Tips for the party: 
1. You should have a twitter account.
2. You should be following me @CAhnBooks to ensure that I see your tweets and that I can contact you with prize information.
3. After each comment, you should end it with #EnsconcedinLit or else I won't see it.
4. I'll be selecting winners RANDOMLY throughout the party, so the more you participate and the LONGER you participate, the more likely you are to win a prize.
5. Retweets will NOT count towards a prize. But these are nice to do for your fellow tweeters if you like what they are saying.
6. If you win a prize, I'll be sending you a google document to fill out. I will confirm your prizes after the party!
7. I usually do a contest at the end of the party for a bonus prize!
8. The EASIEST way to follow a twitter party is to hook up your account to a chat program. I use All you have to do is put #EnsconcedinLit at the top of the page where it says "Enter hashtags." It should prompt you to link up your twitter account. Say yes. Then you should be good to go! The other nice thing about this is that you don't have to type the hashtag after each comment, the program automatically does it for you. And you don't have to search for the hashtag, it automatically just follows the convo.
9. To those poor souls who don't have a twitter account. It's totally EASY. Get a twitter account! I finally got one for my blog, and it took literally seconds to set up. I'm so sorry, but if you don't have a twitter account, you won't be eligible for the prizes.
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Saturday, June 14, 2014

Blogoversary Day 6: Thank Yous to our Contributors!

First of all, thank you, everyone for joining with me to celebrate my blogoversary! I hope you've been having fun! I'll continue to pick winners of the giveaway up to the twitter party, so keep tweeting every day, and then I'll give the remainder of the prizes out in the party! :-)

So many wonderful authors, bloggers, and bookstore contributed to the amazing blogoversary prizes that you've been eligible for! So it wouldn't be right to not thank them again for their generous contributions!

Rachel Harris, author of My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century and many others!

Tammara Webber, author of Easy and Breakable

Anna Banks, author of the Syrena Trilogy

Ingrid Ricks, author of Hippie Boy: A Girl's Story

Hannah Parry, author of Isabella Rockwell's War

Howard Shapiro, author of The Stereotypical Freaks and The Hockey Saint

Alyssa Rose Ivy, author of many romantic paranormal novels

Katie Williams, author of Absent

Lenore Appelhans, author of The Memory of After

Vicky Savage, author of the Transcender series

Victoria Scott, author of the Dante Walker trilogy, Fire and Flood

Lindsey Loucks, author of Grave Winner

Tamara Ireland Stone, author of Time Between Us and Time After Time

Paula Stokes, author of The Art of Lainey, and the TBR Liars, Inc and Vicarious

Lissa Price, author of Starters and Enders

Kat Zhang, author of What's left of me, Once We Were, and the soon to be released Echoes of Us

AG Howard, author of the Splintered series

Left Bank Books

Crystal of Crystal in Bookland

Meredith of Pandora's Books

Kayla of Wonderland

Mary Knox from Mary Had a Little Book Blog

Julia B. of YA Book Nerd Reviews

Make sure to answer today's question for your last entries into the giveaway! Thanks so much for joining with me to celebrate my blog's two year anniversary

Don't forget the one last event, the #EnsconcedinLit Twitter Party, June 19th at 7pm CST for one hour! I'll be giving away the rest of the prizes then!

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Friday, June 13, 2014

Blogoversary Day 5: Blogger Friend Love!

Hey all!
It's the next to last day of my blogoversary, and I'm so excited to mention some wonderful blogger friends who have made this year even more memorable!

1. Anasheh Satoorian of A Reading Nurse: Anasheh is an amazing blogger friend. We've never met in person (but I hope one day soon we will!!!). She is not only an amazing nursing student (now graduated top in her class unsurprisingly), but she's an amazing friend who always texts and sees how I am. On my birthday, she tweeted several tweets throughout the day so people knew that it was my birthday! And even more, she's been so generous to let me know about book signings and has sent me several signed books :-) I love her to death!

2. Crystal of Crystal in Bookland: Crystal and I have gotten really close over twitter. We discuss life, books, book boys, TV, you name it. I've been so lucky to have her as a friend, and I also hope we can meet in real life soon. She's been a beta reader for me as well, and been there through thick and thin. Love you!

3. Meredith of Pandora's Books: What a sweetie. She's always there with a big smile and positive attitude. I think she's definitely one of the most wonderful people I've met on twitter. She's always willing to lend a helping hand, and so supportive of other bloggers including me

4. Kayla of Wonderland of Reading: I met her when I was doing an online event for Paula, and I noticed her sweet and positive energy right away! Kayla is such a big supporter of other bloggers and authors and always makes a point to make it to all the online events that she can! She and Meredith just celebrated their first blogoversary together and they both have great blogs!

5. Mary Knox from Mary Had a Little Book Blog: Mary is just amazing. She is so creative, and she makes it to so many book events. She truly is an inspiration. She has terrific giveaways, and is one of the nicest bloggers to boot! I'm lucky to know her!

9. Julia B. of YA Book Nerd Reviews: I've had so much fun getting to know Julia in the last few weeks. She and I are more similar than anyone I've met on the blogosphere yet! We both love books (duh) but beyond that, we love playing similar games, and especially have a penchant for TellTale Games like The Walking Dead and Wolf Among Us. Plus, she is always so generous with giving away awesome jewelry that is based on your favorite books!

There are many other bloggers who are also amazing, including Brooke DelVecchio from Cover Contessa, Jenna from Jenna Does Books, Nikki from Fiction Freak, etc.

Who are your favorite bloggers?

Don't forget to enter today in my huge giveaway!
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Thursday, June 12, 2014

Blogoversary Day 4: Left Bank Bookstore highlight, Local Bookstore Love!

Local bookstores are SO important! I'm so grateful for Left Bank Books for bringing great books and authors to St. Louis.

Some examples of events that they've brought to Saint Louis...

A signing with Veronica Roth, author of the Divergent series...

Signing with Kendare Blake, author of Anna Dressed in Blood...

Signing with Emily Giffin, NYT bestselling author of multiple books...

Events with local authors like Paula Stokes (she moved to Oregon but she's coming back to Left Bank Books for another event...)

And one of my all time favorites: a signing with Antony John, Lauren Oliver, Lenore Appelhans, and Tamara Ireland Stone :-)

They are so important to bringing books to people in the community as well as elsewhere.

This past year, I've also gotten to partner with them for events to help promote the authors they've brought to town. They've donated several books to giveaways to support the blog.

For my blogoversary, they've generously agreed to donate a signed book to a US winner-- The Taking by Kimberly Derting (chosen by you guys!). And guess what? Left Bank books had a signing with her as well! Here I am with Kimberly, and a baby bump!

Please make sure to support your local bookstores!!!

Enter the giveaway to win some prizes and send Left Bank Books some love!

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Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Blogoversary Day 3: Traditionally Published Authors that have rocked my world

Welcome back, everyone, to day 3 of my Blogoversary! I've been so blessed and lucky to have amazing authors come into my life, and this includes the terrific awe inspiring traditionally published authors who have made it through the wringer and came out intact on the other side (not to mention super duper successful!)

1. Paula Stokes (aka Fiona Paul), author of the Venom trilogy, The Art of Lainey, Liars Inc, and the recently purchased Vicarious!
I have to mention Paula first, because she has been an amazing friend for the past year, and I'm so sad she moved away from me to Oregon! I've been so impressed with her hard work especially over the past year, and I'm so happy to see it's finally paid off! She's been an inspiration in so many ways, and I'm so grateful that we are so close. Her books are amazing and get better and better. Plus, she's my sounding board for life in general. I can't wait to see her in July when she comes on tour-- maybe we can grab some dim sum!

2. Antony John - author of Five Flavors of Dumb, Elemental Trilogy, and more to come!
Antony has been a wonderful friend as well, and is a fellow book lover/author in St. Louis. I first met Antony through his wife, who was my attending in infectious disease when I was still a medical resident. We got on the topic of hobbies, and I told her that I loved to read and review books. She mentioned Five Flavors of Dumb, probably not thinking this would amount to anything. I read it and loved it, and from there we've met up multiple times at author events and dinners, etc. Antony has also been a wonderful guide to the world of writing and convinced me to write my first book (which is now shelved, but I finished it!).

3. Tamara Ireland Stone - author of Time Between Us and Time After Time
Tamara came for an event to St Louis, and I was extremely lucky to meet her and get to gab after the event at dinner. I absolutely loved both of her books, and she's such an amazing person as well, with a terrific story. She was totally successful in her previous life, even working with Steve Jobs! But then moved on to be completely amazing at her new job as a YA writer. Time Between Us is now optioned for film and has been published in many different countries. I'm so proud of her!

4. Rachel Harris - author of My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century and many other cute YA and adult romances
Rachel is a complete sweetheart, and I'm still dying to meet her in person. She's been such a wonderful friend virtually, and I've loved doing multiple online events with her. She has a very avid street team, which makes sense, she's so loveable, how could she not? And she's always been so supportive of bloggers in general, sending us hugs wherever she is! I can't wait for all the new boys she's going to write about because they are all universally swoony!

5. Victoria Scott- author of Fire and Flood, and the Dante Walker trilogy.
Tori has had a huge year and I'm so glad I was there to watch her blossom! I love her books, and Dante is one of the hottest book boys ever created. She's so fun to interact with, and I was overjoyed to get to do her twitter party, which was a huge success! I can't wait to see what else she has up her sleeve!

6. Lenore Appelhans - author of The Memory of After (aka Level 2)
I met Lenore at the same book event as Tamara, and I'm so thrilled to get to know her, first, because she's such an awesome person, and second, because she used to be a blogger like me. Just gives me hope that one day if I decide to go back to writing, there's a possibility that I may publish one day even though I started out as a blogger. She's super sweet and very supportive of my writing endeavors, and I can't be thankful enough for that!

7. Anna Banks - author of the Syrena Trilogy
My PhotoAnna is one of the most generous authors I have ever seen, and also put together probably the best twitter party I have ever been to. She is not only super sweet but her books just keep getting better and better. I feel really lucky to have gotten to meet her online this past year and only hope that one day we can meet in person! 

These are just a few authors that have rocked my world this year. There are many others such as Kat Zhang, Lissa Price, AG Howard, Tammara Webber, Kathleen Peacock, Jodi Meadows, etc, that have also been wonderful. Thank you all for being so great and making being a blogger so worth it!

OK, guys, enter some more for your chances of winning some terrific prizes today!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Blogoversary Day 2: Indie Love!

Hey peeps! It's day TWO of my blogoversary! Thanks for joining in on the fun! The main reason I initially started my blog was to help support the indie authors who weren't getting the attention they deserved.  Since then, I've developed really great friendships with some amazing authors, and I hope you'll give them a chance too! I wanted to highlight a few authors that have been a large part of my blogging journey

1. Vicky Savage, author of the Transcender Trilogy.
When I started reviewing, I read anything and everything I could get my hands on. I admit most of it was slush, but when I started reading Transcender: First Timer, I knew I had something special in my hands. I devoured the book in one sitting, and I knew I wanted to support this author into getting more publicity.

I started chatting with Vicky on a regular basis, and low and behold, not only is she a great indie author, but she's also one of the nicest and most generous people I've ever met! Vicky used to be a lawyer, so it gives me hope that if one day, I want to step down from being a doctor and become a writer, I won't be alone!

We've done a ton of events together, and since then have forged a friendship that I'm forever grateful for. She inspires me in so many ways-- finishing this trilogy on her own dime, becoming a cancer survivor, the list goes on and on. I was lucky enough to serve as her editor in the final book of the Transcender series, and I know she'll only get better and better.
Buy Transcender on Amazon

2. Howard Shapiro, author of The Hockey Saint and Stereotypical Freaks. 
My friendship with Howard started very simply with a nice email of his, offering to send me a copy of his graphical novel for review. I'm not a big graphical novel sort of person, but I feel very strongly about giving new things a try. Boy, I'm glad I did!

I fell in love with Stereotypical Freaks-- I was surprised I was in tears by the end. I was shocked I could be moved so much by a graphical novel, and I knew that I needed to promote it. A few events later, Howard asked if I did much editing. I had already been a freelance editor to a few authors at this point, so I readily agreed. We started working on The Hockey Saint together, and it was probably one of the best editing experiences of my life. Howard is one of those people who is very open to suggestion, and if he is confused or doesn't agree, we have a wonderful conversation working out the kinks together.

Since then, I've been working on several books coming out of Howard's new indie book company, Animal, Inc, which has been a terrific learning experience. I've learned a lot about writing memoirs, graphical novels, and seen The Hockey Saint slowly come through production, which has been amazing. In addition, Howard and I have developed a wonderful friendship, and he's been one of the rare people to read and love my first novel, which means so much to me.
Buy Stereotypical Freaks

3. Ingrid Ricks, author of Hippie Boy: A Girl's Tale, now a NYT bestseller.
Ingrid is the first indie author that I promoted on my blog two years ago. And I was thrilled to hear that she made it on the NYT bestseller's list for the very book I fell in love with! I love that we've been able to develop a friendship, and I've been able to help her out in a small way. She's come so far in such a short time, and I'm really inspired by her personal story as well as her friendship.
Buy Hippie Boy
4. Lindsey Loucks, author of The Grave Winner
I first met Lindsey at a Facebook party where she was promoting her book along with several other authors. She was the first author where I was very intrigued by her swag. She had a T-shirt, a gorgeous antique ring, among other things. I won the silver ring that night and loved it right away. I was immediately curious how this tied into her book. I asked her if she was interested in sending me a copy for review. She readily agreed, and I absolutely loved her book. It's this great combination of horror and paranormal fantasy. It's definitely become one of my top indie picks!
Buy The Grave Winner

Isabella Rockwell's War5. Hannah Parry, author of Isabella Rockwell's War
Poor Hannah sent me this book for review 9 months prior to me actually getting to it. I wish I had picked it up much sooner! I don't read much middle grade, but I was so glad I did in this case! I loved that it harkened me back to books I loved when I grew up, including The Secret Garden and The Little Princess. I think this is a wonderful read for that age group and also enjoyable to adults. It helps that Hannah is one of the sweetest people ever!
Buy Isabella Rockwell's War

6. Alyssa Rose Ivy, author of many paranormal books
Alyssa Rose IvyTalk about random meetings! Alyssa's husband is a friend of a friend, and I knew I needed to pick up one of her books! The first one I read was Beckoning Light, which I really enjoyed. I really recommend it! The sequel was even better. I still need to read the third, which I'm excited about. You never know where you are going to meet new people, new authors to root for, and I'm so glad that I met Alyssa!
Read Beckoning Light for Free!

These are just a few authors that have really made an impact on me in the last year. I really hope that you support your indie authors and accept books for review! I know there's a lot of slush to get through, but once in a while, you get a gem, and it makes it all worth it!

Enter to win more prizes today!

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Monday, June 9, 2014

Blogoversary Day 1: Ensconced in Lit Turns Two!

Dear All:
I can't believe how fast these two years have gone by!!! A lot of stuff has happened this year.

Page Views: More than 200,000

Twitter Followers: More than 3600

GFC Followers: More than 2,000

Bloglovin' Followers: 1452

Joined Instagram finally (against my will lol)

Redesigned my blog (isn't it pretty??)

Auto-approved at Harper Collins

Finished my first novel during Nanowrimo, Med Wreck, although as of present it's shelved for the forseeable future. Wrote a full outline for a new YA medical thriller. Hopefully, I'll be able to pick it up at some point!

Freelance Editor for Animal Inc, an indie publisher

Have a baby girl due in September!

I've gone to a ton of signings and met/continued to develop great friendships with authors and bloggers, which you'll see more of this coming week! Thank you so much for making this year a memorable one!

Here's the schedule for the week:
Day 1: Stats and schedule
Day 2: Indie Love!
Day 3: Traditionally Published Authors who have changed my world
Day 4: Local Bookstore Highlight: Left Bank Books
Day 5: Blogger Love!
Day 6: Thank yous to all of the contributors!
Twitter Party: To give out the remaining prizes! Hashtag will be #EnsconcedinLit and it will be on Thursday, June 19th at 7-8pm!

I'll start selecting winners on Day 6 of the Blogoversary (maybe earlier if I can't wait lol!). So the more you comment and visit, the more likely you are to win! On the rafflecopter, you can only win once, but everything's up for grabs at the final twitter party! We have more than 40 prizes up for grabs! Have fun!

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Thursday, June 5, 2014

Exciting New Book Reveal from Paula Stokes: VICARIOUS!

Hi guys! I’ve taken over Christina’s blog today to tell you about something super-exciting—a new book deal! Maybe you heard about my second deal with HarperTeen that was announced a couple of weeks ago. What you don’t know is that prior to that deal I finished another novel and sold it, plus a sequel (it’s a duology—no trilogy, no cliffhangers, I promise) to Tor Teen. Here’s the official word:

Paula Stokes's VICARIOUS, in which a high-tech Korean stunt girl searches worlds both real and virtual to find her missing sister, to Melissa Frain at Tor Children's, in a two-book deal, at auction, by Jennifer Laughran at Andrea Brown Literary Agency.  
 Translation: Taryn Fagerness Agency  

Melissa Frain is the editor for one of my favorite books of all time, ANNA DRESSED IN BLOOD! When we talked on the phone she really loved VICARIOUS, but she also had some suggestions for making the story more relatable that resonated strongly with me. While I’m very committed to writing additional contemporary YA novels for Harper, I feel like Tor Teen is a great place for me to explore some of the darker, more speculative stories I want to write. I cannot wait to dive in and start editing this book.  

So what is VICARIOUS? It’s a mystery, an action-adventure story, a cyber thriller, a love letter to all things Korean, and a tale of two sisters whose bond is so strong that nothing can keep them apart. Oh, and there’s kissing. Not a ton, but some, because I like kissing :-) Once again, this book is different from all my other books. It’s darker than THE ART OF LAINEY and a bit more lyrical than LIARS, INC. Parts of this book will make you uncomfortable. I was uncomfortable writing them. Although I am striving to make sure the two-book storyline reads as hopeful, some of what happens to main character Winter Kim is devastating. This is truly the story of a girl who perseveres despite all odds. Those of you who are visual might want to go check out the book’s Pinterest board.  

I got the idea for VICARIOUS during the drafting of my third work-for-hire book, STARLING (writing as Fiona Paul), when I became frustrated with some of the limitations to Cassandra’s character. I wanted my female MC to be totally kickass, but Cass was—had to be—hindered by her time-period, upbringing, and societal norms. I remember venting about this to my friend and crit partner Marcy Beller Paul like, “I want to write a female action hero.” And she so sagely responded, “Why don’t you?”
So I did. I had also always wanted to write a main character of color, but it felt inorganic to force a different culture upon one of my MCs “just because.” Like the wand chooses the wizard, I think the story chooses the characters. Winter, her sister Rose, and their guardian, Gideon, came to me as Koreans and it all just fit. You might not know that my dad was stationed in Korea, or that I have adopted Korean cousins, or that I spent a year teaching English in Seoul. These things don’t “qualify me” to write from a Korean perspective, of course, but I do think my past immersion in the culture helped me identify the questions I needed to ask during the writing process. 

As the second book in this duology takes place partially in Seoul, I will be returning there next year for research. I plan to have Korean-Americans and native Koreans beta-read both books. I know that no matter how hard I try, some readers will be unsatisfied with Winter’s portrayal and see her as inauthentic. But not all Koreans think the same, just like not all women think the same, and not all teens think the same. If I try to please every reader, I’ll end up pleasing no one. All I can do is promise to work my very hardest to bring my characters and their culture to the page with authenticity and respect.  

Maybe you’re wondering why I’m announcing this deal on Ensconced in Lit. Christina is one of the few people who have already read this story, and one of the Korean-Americans who’ll be there to help me stay true to Winter’s heritage. Also, Christina is awesome, and I can’t think of anyone else with whom I’d rather share my good news. Love you, C!  

Love you too, P! I loved this book so I'm overjoyed you chose me to showcase it! Can't wait for it to come out!!!  

Paula Stokes writes stories about flawed characters with good hearts who sometimes make bad decisions. In addition to writing, she enjoys kayaking, hiking, reading, and seeking out new adventures in faraway lands. Paula is the author of several YA novels including The Art of Lainey and Liars, Inc. (2015). She loves interacting with readers. Find her online at or on twitter as @pstokesbooks.
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