Tuesday, June 28, 2016

INTERVIEW with Julie Eshbaugh, author of IVORY AND BONE and INT giveaway of SIGNED Hardcover!

Dear All:
I am so thrilled and excited to have the wonderful Julie Eshbaugh highlighted on my blog today, who has recently debuted her wonderful IVORY AND BONE. If you haven't read this yet, you must!!!

I have to say this book cover is goooorgeous!!! And is super important to the story as well, a perfect combination!

Goodreads Book description: A prehistoric fantasy—with allusions to Pride and Prejudice.

Hunting, gathering, and keeping his family safe—that’s the life seventeen-year-old Kol knows. Then bold, enigmatic Mya arrives from the south with her family, and Kol is captivated. He wants her to like and trust him, but any hopes of impressing her are ruined when he makes a careless—and nearly grave—mistake. However, there’s something more to Mya’s cool disdain…a history wrought with loss that comes to light when another clan arrives. With them is Lo, an enemy from Mya’s past who Mya swears has ulterior motives.

As Kol gets to know Lo, tensions between Mya and Lo escalate until violence erupts. Faced with shattering losses, Kol is forced to question every person he’s trusted. One thing is for sure: this was a war that Mya or Lo—Kol doesn’t know which—had been planning all along.

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My rating: 5 couches

My Review: Let me just say up front that this is usually not the type of book I'd pick up. The thought of prehistory fantasy kind of makes me think of cavemen who go around and bash things in the head with a rock with grunts. How would you make this sexy or appealing? Well, turns out, you have to be Julie Eshbaugh.

I don't want anyone to have the stupid reservations I did, because seriously, no one, including Julie, would want to write or read about something like that. This book is gorgeous and pulse pounding as it builds up to the intense finish, and this unbeliever is a total groupie now.

Ivory and Bone by Julie Eshbaugh stars Kol, who is the eldest son of his clan, who is expected to marry, but the problem is, their clan has no women of marrying age. Enter Mya, the oldest daughter of a nearby clan, who seems to harbor some dark secrets in her troubled eyes, and she has nothing but biting and rude words for Kol, who let's face it, is the nicest guy in prehistoric history. This seems simple, but it's anything but, and as Eshbaugh eloquently and painstakingly takes us through both the past and present, Kol's world and his way of thinking are completely shaken and changed by a single girl.

I loved this book. I actually was reading two other books at the time, that were at the top of my TBR pile, and I abandoned them both to blaze through this book. Eshbaugh takes some really wonderful risks here. First, obviously is the fact it's a prehistory fantasy. I love that even this genre is innovative. Secondly, the novel is mostly written in partial second, where Mya is referred to as "you." This may seem jarring to the reader at first, but the usage of this narrative makes so much sense as it is a story told by Kol to Mya. Stories play such a large role in this novel, and in one particular twist, it takes on extra eerie meaning. I love how Eshbaugh effortlessly weaves storytelling into Kol's emotional journey.

And Kol. This guy... it's hard to even imagine someone nicer. Yes, he's naive, and he has character flaws, but he's an optimist and a good guy at the core. You can't help but root for him, and want to take him for yourself. Hey, if Mya isn't going to come around, there are many of us who will snap him up immediately! That said, Mya is a really fascinating character, and I love that she says so much without even uttering a word. And I won't talk too much about villains, but let's just say that I loved this person in a twisted way and am still thinking about what went down.

Overall, a really ambitious and beautifully written debut that takes a lot of risks and soars with flying colors. Eshbaugh is a writer to watch.

Author Blurb: Julie Eshbaugh now lives in Philadelphia after having called Utah, France, and New York City home. Early on, Julie focused her artistic energies on filmmaking and online video. She made two short films and then spent several years producing an online video series for teens which received several honors from the Webby Awards. Creating videos for teens led to writing novels for teens, and Julie has never looked back. Ivory and Bone is her debut novel.

Author Interview
We've chatted about this briefly, but I wanted to ask about a couple of risks you took (which I loved and think you pulled off marvelously). First, prehistory fantasy is definitely a genre I haven't really seen around, which is great, but at the same time, risky because people don't know what to expect. Can you talk a bit about how you decided to select this as your setting, and why it was important for you to do it this way?
This is a great question, and it’s not one I’m asked very often. To be honest, when I first conceived of the story, I didn’t really think of setting a book in prehistory as a risk. I knew it was an unusual setting, but I was so excited about exploring a world and time period I’ve always been so interested in. When you write historical fantasy, it’s so important that you love the period you choose, because you will be immersed in it for a long time! And for me, research doesn’t really end at any point—I’m still researching as I work on Book Two.

The other risky move you made, was writing this novel in a partial second person, as a story being told to someone. Can you talk a bit about narrative and how you went about deciding to write it like this?
I love when narrative style serves a story in a unique way. When I first began drafting IVORY AND BONE, I planned to write it in first person, present tense, because I felt that would lend an immediacy to a world that could easily feel very foreign to the reader. The first scene I drafted, though, is the scene that became the prologue, and it just came to me in this storyteller style where Kol is talking directly to Mya. Later, after a few chapters were drafted that way, I went back and tried to change it to a conventional first person, but it seemed to lose something, so I kept the storyteller style. Though I did realize it was a risk, I think it fits the time, when telling stories out loud was so important.

Stories play a large role in this book and how tales are handed down the generations in the clans. Can you talk a bit about storytelling and if any of the stories were inspired by other old tales from Grimm or ancient fairy tales?
I did give a lot of thought to the importance of oral tradition to the clans in the book, because they have no written language to preserve their stories. In the world of IVORY AND BONE, when a story is forgotten or some truth from the past is unknown, that lack of knowledge has consequences. Other stories have been handed down for so many generation, they’re treated with the reverence of scripture. I really enjoyed creating the origin stories and the other traditional clan histories, and they are all straight out of my imagination! If they were influenced by Grimm or any other fairy tales, it wasn’t consciously.

I know most authors don't have much say in the covers, but I absolutely love yours. Can you talk a bit about what your experience has been getting this particular cover?
Thanks! I love my cover, too! This wasn’t the first cover for the book, though. The original cover was text based, and survives still on the spine. Each letter was carved, and the “O” in BONE was shattering. I really loved that version of the cover, but when I saw the revised version with the shattering ring as the prominent feature, I loved it even more!

While all of us are swooning for Kol, do you have particular book boyfriends/girlfriends/other?
I would have to say Mr. Darcy is my most beloved book boyfriend, though I’m pretty sure if I met him in real life I wouldn’t be able to tolerate him.

Do you have beta readers or critique partners? Why or why not?
Usually two or more friends will read my work and give me critical feedback. I try to have a few people I can ask, because my writer friends are often busy with their own deadlines. I think it’s important to get feedback while you’re developing your work, to see what’s coming together and what might still needs work. That’s why I ask more than one person to read. I look for feedback that overlaps. If I hear the same advice from more than one reader, I can be pretty sure they’ve found something that needs attention.

For writers that are starting out, do you have a piece of advice you wish you had known before you started?
I think the best advice I can give is to trust yourself and keep going. Being a writer means facing rejection. It happens to everyone. So don’t let the rejection plant seeds of doubt. Trust your voice. Persevere. Your next book could be the one that becomes your debut novel!

What are you working on next?
I’m currently working on the sequel to IVORY AND BONE! It continues the characters’ stories. 

And now for a super generous giveaway from Julie herself! This is a signed Hardcover copy of IVORY and BONE and this giveaway is INT!!! Go forth!!!

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Monday, June 20, 2016

INTERVIEW with author of The Geek's Guide to Unrequited Love, Sarvenaz Tash, Review and Giveaway!

Dear readers:
I'm so thrilled to have Sarvenaz Tash, author of The Geek's Guide to Unrequited Love (affectionately nicknamed #GGTUL), on my blog today for an interview. I absolutely loved this book. So first, a little about the book, my 5 star review, and the author, then, we'll get right to the interview!

Book Description:  
John Hughes meets Comic Con in this hilarious, unabashedly romantic, coming-of-age novel about a teenager who is trying to get his best friend to fall in love with him from the author of Three Day Summer.
Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy...
Archie and Veronica...
Althena and Noth...
...Graham and Roxy?

Graham met his best friend, Roxana, when he moved into her neighborhood eight years ago, and she asked him which Hogwarts house he’d be sorted into. Graham has been in love with her ever since.

But now they’re sixteen, still neighbors, still best friends. And Graham and Roxy share more than ever—moving on from their Harry Potter obsession to a serious love of comic books.

When Graham learns that the creator of their favorite comic, The Chronicles of Althena, is making a rare appearance at this year’s New York Comic Con, he knows he must score tickets. And the event inspires Graham to come up with the perfect plan to tell Roxy how he really feels about her. He’s got three days to woo his best friend at the coolest, kookiest con full of superheroes and supervillains. But no one at a comic book convention is who they appear to be...even Roxy. And Graham is starting to realize fictional love stories are way less complicated than real-life ones.
Release Date: June 14, 2016
Publisher: Simon & Schuster BFYR
Rating: 5 couches

Review: I was so thrilled when I won this ARC in a giveaway because I have been dying to read this adorable sounding book. Let me tell you, I was not disappointed, and it surpassed every expectation I had. In addition, I am pre-ordering several copies of this book and recommend everyone do so, it's worth it.

The Geek's Guide to Unrequited Love (by the way, who does NOT love that title??? Just gives you a hint to what goodies are inside) is an absolutely endearing story of Graham and his undying love for his best friend Roxy. They have grown up together but recently, Graham has realized he has more feelings for her than just friendship. He knows the perfect venue to profess his love to her for the first time-- New York's Comic Con. They are not only best friends but partners in writing and illustrating graphical novels, and they have both been looking forward to this event for ages. But Graham's elaborate schemes go awry the moment they set foot in Comic Con. Will Graham find a way to tell Roxy his feelings? Will they be returned? Will Graham figure out something about himself and relationships in the process?

I love love love loved this book. OMG. I literally squealed and hugged the book to my chest after I finished. There is something just so absolutely wonderful about how Tash embraces the geek culture in such a loving way-- and I feel like even people not familiar with this world will be fascinated by it. The characters are so realistic and I wish Graham had a crush on ME growing up, what a fantastic guy. I have to say my favorite side character was Felicia, who I believe also has a big story to tell, so I'm crossing my fingers and toes that she'll get a companion novel all to herself. The details ring true and the book has loads of verisimilitude, and after reading this, I want to go to Comic Con! The idealistic nature of the characters where anything is possible will melt the most hardened cynic, and this makes me believe that maybe one day, if I can get my act together, maybe I too can fulfill a long term dream of publishing a book with a partner in crime. :-)

Also take note of all the chapter headings. It's a sweet bundle of Easter eggs for your inner geek that goes along with the whole theme of the book.

And the ending... it was the perfect ending to this book, and I'm so glad that Tash decided what she did. I debated whether or not to give away the ARC, but I have to admit, with this book I'm unabashably selfish. I want the ARC, the hardcopy, and to spread the word with the finished product. Of note, I've already pre-ordered three copies. You all MUST pick up this book, and it should go at the top of your TBR pile!

Overall, one of my favorite reads of the year, with pitch perfect characters, dialogue, and atmosphere, and heart warming plot line that will keep you cheering until the end for the incredibly adorable Graham. Tash is definitely an author to watch and I will pick up every book she writes in the future.

Author's Bio:
Sarvenaz Tash was born in Tehran, Iran and grew up on Long Island, NY. She received her BFA in Film and Television from New York University's Tisch School of the Arts. This means she got to spend most of college running around and making movies (it was a lot of fun). She has dabbled in all sorts of writing including screenwriting, copywriting, and professional tweeting. Sarvenaz currently lives in Brooklyn, NY.

INTERVIEW with Sarvenaz Tash

1. Have you ever gone to Comic Con in NY? What was your experience like and did you go prior to writing this novel or only after you started thinking about the idea? Can you tell us a little about researching for this book?
I’d been to New York Comic Con I think about four times before I had the idea for this novel, which definitely stemmed from my experiences there, as well as my love of John Hughes films. The two sort of collided one day in my brain and suddenly Graham’s voice was in my ear, too. It was one of those rare, perfect storms of inspiration. NYCC also came around once while I was in the middle of writing the book and I attended fully intent on soaking in as much of the atmosphere as I could. As far as other research, I relied on a lot of my own geeky obsessions, as well as the knowledge of a few friends and beta readers who made sure I got details of fandoms I maybe personally wasn’t as into right. (Which is very important stuff!)

2. I noticed in both Three Day Summer (which people should also read!!!) and GGTUL you have utilized a male first person viewpoint. Can you tell us a bit about why and how you get yourself in that perspective while you're writing?
With Three Day Summer, Michael’s POV came about as a necessity of the way I wanted to tell the story. I knew I wanted the dual perspectives of someone who lived in the small town where Woodstock took place (Cora), and someone who was very into the music and went just for that (Michael). But with GGTUL, Graham basically came to me a very complete, whole character. He just happened to be a guy. I didn’t question it. I just listened to him and went with it! Though I do think having had the experience of writing from Michael’s POV gave me more confidence writing from a male perspective the second time around.

3. If you were sorted into a Hogwarts house, which one would it be and why? How about Graham, Roxy, Felicia, and Casey?
I think all five of us would be Ravenclaw (although maybe Felicia could also go to Gryffindor). We’re all pretty nerdy that way. And I would like to say that the original Pottermore sorted me into Gryffindor which gave me a bit of an identity crisis for years! (Thankfully, the new Pottermore put me in Ravenclaw where me and my scaredy cat self obviously belong--whew!)

4. Did any of your characters surprise you? If so, which one?
Honestly, they all did. Like I said, Graham came almost fully formed, but other characters, like Felicia and Casey for example, started out as small little sketches on the page—foils to move the scenes along—and before I knew it, they were off doing their own things too, having their own stories, and one-liners, and personalities. The two of them, in particular, were very fun to write. 

5. Graham is definitely a fanboy. What do you fangirl about? 
Oh, Harry Potter for sure. I’ve stood in long lines, and squeed, and been uber-excited about many HP-related things over the years. Also Doctor Who. And Jane Austen. And books in general. And random pop culture trivia that is probably taking the space of something much more useful in my head (like where I put that thing I was just holding.)

6. If you could meet one author, dead or alive, who would it be and why, and what would be your first question?
It’s a toss-up between J.K. Rowling and Jane Austen. But since we’re playing fantasy meet-up here….I think I’m going to go with Austen. I think I’d love to do an Austen adaptation movie marathon with her and ask her what she thinks of them all!

7. Do you feel that you will stay with contemporary YA or do you think you will branch out to other genres?
Actually, none of the three books I’ve published have been in the same genre! My first was a fantasy/adventure middle grade. Three Day Summer was historical YA, and Geek’s Guide is contemporary YA. I think I’ll probably write more contemporary YA but I wouldn’t be surprised if I also wrote in other genres. I tend to write whatever grabs my interest at that moment, and I have a lot of genres that I really like (mysteries and thrillers, to name one that I haven’t attempted yet, but would like to!).

8. What is your go to candy? Do you snack when you write?
I’m a chocolate girl. Kit Kats, and Twix, and anything with almonds in it. I try not to snack too much when I’m writing though. I get so absentminded when I’m thinking, I could easily see myself eating a whole enormous package of something without even realizing it!

9. What are you working on next? Are we getting a sequel to GGTUL??
Right now I’m working on a short story for Jessica Spotswood’s historical fiction anthology The Radical Element (the follow-up to A Tyranny of Petticoats). Other than that, I have a couple of things in the works, but they’re in very early stages, so nothing I feel like I can talk too much about yet. I have thought about a sequel to GGTUL, and ideas have percolated, but nothing set in stone. We’ll see!

The author and publisher have generously donated 1 signed copy of GGTUL and 1 signed copy to a single lucky US winner! Go forth and enter this amazing giveaway! 
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