#SerendipiTEA Tour & Giveaway featuring Meg Eden and POST HIGH-SCHOOL REALITY QUEST

Meg Eden

Today I’m participating in something special, a blog tour that pairs several authors with their new books and specially chosen teas that match some aspect of the books being featured.  I may not be much of a tea drinker but this sounded like so much fun, I had to participate!

I was paired up with Meg Eden, the author of Post High-School Reality Quest, which is a very interesting piece that explores being a nerdy girl written in the style of a text adventure game.

Here’s what Meg had to say about her tea and her book!  And don’t forget to check out the other participants in the tour (links below) and the giveaway where you can win some of the teas and books from the tour!!

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Author Interview and Giveaway: Joshua Khan

 Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all my readers and other internet folk!

Here’s a special holiday treat for all of you.  I was able to send some interview questions to Joshua Khan, author of the 2016 debut Shadow Magic, which I reviewed earlier this year.  I loved everything about this book, so I knew that I had to let the author know and find out about a sequel.  Luckily for us, he was willing to answer my questions and now I’m sharing them with you.  And he has some juicy tidbits strewn throughout, so make sure you read through all of them!

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Giveaway and Review: And the Trees Crept In by Dawn Kurtagich #ReadThemAllThon

And the Trees Crept In

Hardcover, 352 pages
Expected publication: September 6th 2016 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
OK. First off, this was one of the books I chose for the #ReadThemAllThon featured by Read at Midnight.  If you remember, I picked it for the Cascade Badge as a book that might make me cry at instead of crying tears.  Well, it did both.
The story was intriguing, and the writing was well done.  However, I really struggled to finish this book.  I had picked it up because I loved Dawn Kurtagich’s debut book, The Dead House, from last year.  That book was borderline horror/thriller and was created using various media entries to draw a picture.  This book took a similar approach by utilizing poems, flashbacks, journal entries, and an unreliable/crazy narrator.
Unfortunately, And the Trees Crept In went too far down the horror path for my liking.  It made my stomach churn (physically not just mentally).  The story was enough to keep me going to the end (as well as the reading challenge), but this is not something that I will ever want to reread in the future.  It just… I don’t know, really upset my mental state, which is the exact opposite from the whole point of reading, for me anyway.
The ending was an interesting twist that, on one hand, I liked and it helped my mental disassociation for finishing.  On the other hand, it felt a little too much like a dream sequence.  (It wasn’t, in case you’re worried.)  But it did make it feel like I had wasn’t energy on the negative feelings for not a good reason.
I completely understand that these are my own feelings, and I know there are plenty of readers who will greatly enjoy and appreciate all the points I just listed as assets to the story.  Which is why I’m hosting a giveaway for an advanced uncorrected proof to one lucky reader!!!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Summary:

A stunning, terrifying novel about a house the color of blood and the two sisters who are trapped there, by The Dead Houseauthor Dawn Kurtagich

When Silla and Nori arrive at their aunt’s home, it’s immediately clear that the “blood manor” is cursed. The creaking of the house and the stillness of the woods surrounding them would be enough of a sign, but there are secrets too–the questions that Silla can’t ignore: Who is the beautiful boy that’s appeared from the woods? Who is the man that her little sister sees, but no one else? And why does it seem that, ever since they arrived, the trees have been creeping closer?

Filled with just as many twists and turns as The Dead House, and with achingly beautiful, chilling language that delivers haunting scenes, AND THE TREES CREPT IN is the perfect follow-up novel for master horror writer Dawn Kurtagich.

 

And now for the Pokemon math!  I finished reading this book, which totals 35 CP for 352 pages + 20 CP for finishing + 20 CP for posting a review.  Add in the three Twitter posts, and I get another 6 CP.  For a final total of 81 CP, which brings my Dratini to 91 CP and on its way to evolving into a beautiful dragonair.

trainer

Next on my reading list is Sign of the Crescent by Debbie Federici and The Aeronaut’s Windlass by Jim Butcher.  I hope these go more quickly, or I definitely won’t finish the challenge on time!

The Sight Blog Tour, Interview + Giveaway!

This week I’m participating in the Chloe Neill blog tour for her newest release, the sequel to The Veil.  And while I haven’t yet read this series, I’m super excited to pick it up very soon!  At the bottom of this post you’ll find the grand prize giveaway from Chloe Neill herself with lots of cool stuff.  Check it out!

thesight

Paperback
Expected publication: August 16th 2016 by NAL Trade

AmazonBarnes & NobleBooks-A-MillionIndiebound, or iBooks

The paranormal war that engulfed New Orleans seven years ago is over.  But the battle for the city is just beginning . . .

Claire Connolly is a Sensitive, infected with magic when the Veil that divides humanity from the world beyond fell. Magic can easily consume and destroy a Sensitive, and if Claire’s secret is discovered she’ll be locked into the walled district of Devil’s Isle along with every other Paranormal left in the city.

Bounty hunter Liam Quinn discovered Claire’s secret, but refused to turn her in. Together they saved New Orleans from the resurgence of magic that nearly destroyed it. But now a dangerous cult is on the rise, and it will take both Claire and Liam—and magical allies within Devil’s Isle’s towering walls—to defeat the occult threat before magic corrupts them both…

I also had the opportunity to ask a few questions of Chloe Neill as part of this blog tour, and I’m excited to share her answers here!

Q: What was your inspiration for the Devil’s Isle series?

A: I have always loved New Orleans, and really wanted to set a series there. I’ve also been wanting to write a book with a southern gothic feel, and to explore the idea of a paranormal prison, where it’s sometimes not clear who our enemies are. THE VEIL was the result of blending up those ideas.

Q: How do you try to set your books apart from other titles in the genre?

A: I don’t think I consciously try to set my books apart. I do try, though, to be true to the characters and the setting.  I want people to get a sense of New Orleans, even if they’ve never been there, and to relate to the characters. I always try to be true to the characters, to make their actions and fears and joys be consistent with who they are.

Q: Why did you choose New Orleans for this series?

A: New Orleans is a very complicated city–with amazing food and architecture and culture, but also poverty and crime and corruption. I love to write about complicated cities (Chicago is one, too), as they give me a lot to work with.

Q: How many books are planned for Devil’s Isle?

A: There are three books under contract right now.

Q: What other projects are you working on right now?

A: I’m currently editing BLADE BOUND, the last Ethan and Merit Chicagoland vampires novel.  I’ll start writing PHANTOM KISS, next the January 2017 Ethan and Merit novella.  Also in the works is my new Chicagoland Vampires spinoff!

Thanks for having me!

The fun doesn’t stop here. Want more chances to win? You can also enter Chloe’s Grand Prize Giveaway, which will run August 8 through August 19 on Chloe’s web site.

What’s included in the Grand Prize Giveaway?

 

Author Interview and Giveaway: Sara Wilson Etienne

Sara Wilson Etienne

Some of you may remember my post about Lotus and Thorn from early June, where I promised an interview with the author.  Well, here it is!  And, I decided to include a giveaway for 1 hardcover copy of Lotus and Thorn, and Sara has graciously agreed to sign a bookplate to accompany it!  (You can find the Rafflecopter link at the bottom of this post.)

I wanted to interview this author for a couple of reasons.  1) I had some questions that needed answers, and I thought other readers might want to know those answers as well.  2) This book was fabulous, and I wanted to keep the conversation going.  Sara Wilson Etienne is definitely high on my watch list now, as I’m eagerly hoping for more novels set in the universe of Lotus and Thorn.

Interview:

  1. What was your inspiration for Lotus and Thorn?

I tend to collect bits of books like puzzle pieces. I’m not always sure where the pieces fit until a couple of them suddenly click together. At the time I started Lotus and Thorn, I’d been carrying around one piece of the puzzle for a few years… a fascination with courtesans— particularly the Renaissance women of Venice who cultivated money and power by becoming the lovers of influential men.

A few years later, I read an article about hikikomori and I knew I had another piece of the puzzle. Hikikomori are teenagers in Japan—mostly boys— who lock themselves away in their rooms for months, sometimes years, away from the pressures of the real world, and withdrawing from society. So with those two pieces, I knew the questions I wanted to explore with this book—and for me writing is all about asking questions.

My first question was: what happens when the only option available to women is to marry or to cultivate power with their bodies? (What does that power look like? How does that power relate to strong women and girls in our world now?)

Second, what sort of intense pressures are necessary to make a teenage boy—with his whole life ahead of him—turn his back on the world?

Third, what would a world look like where both these elements, both these characters, could exist and interact with each other?

I didn’t want to write historical fiction and this story doesn’t belong in present day. So I reached into the future and created the sci-fi world of Lotus and Thorn. I used the Grimms’ fairy tale structure to lend a sense of timelessness and fantasy to the technologically advanced planet of Gabriel. There’s a lot of bloodshed in the book, but it also mirrors the bloodiness of the original Grimms’ fairy tale. All in all, my hope is that Lotus and Thorn feels like a new story with an old soul.

Lotus and Thorn

 

  1. Why Fitcher’s Bird? What drew you to this fairy tale?

Well, I actually started the book—in the early, early drafts—using a bunch of different fairy tales. Leica would read bits and pieces of them to Edison as the book progressed. At that point, I was still working out what the fairy tale aspect brought to the book. But when I read Fitcher’s Bird, I knew what I needed to do. It’s so different than most of the stories. First of all, it has such a strong female lead. I alter or omit some details in my retelling, but I didn’t touch that aspect of the story…she already kicks ass and takes names.

And it’s not just that she’s brave and clever and saves her sisters… there is a wonderful twisted sense of humor in that story. Like how the sister putting a wedding veil on one of the skulls in the window and everyone comments on how happy the grinning bride-skull looks. That is awesome. This fairy tale has a spark to it that brought something new to my story… a framework and grim humor I’d been looking for. And it click into place so perfectly with the world I already was building. I suppose it was another puzzle piece!

Image from Arthur Rackham

 

  1. Did you read many fairy tales when you were younger?

I remember I had a Fisher Price record player and they used to make these kid’s records with scenes on them… I had this one about a girl who lived in an scallop shell that I listened to over and over. But I have to say, I didn’t have an obsession with fairy tales in particular… I just loved fantasy and science fiction. Especially whenever the mystery and magic intersected with our own world. For example, Where the Wild Things Are. Or The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Or Lizard Music by Daniel Pinkwater. Deep Magic by Diana Wynne Jones. Even books like The Westing Game or The Mixed up Files of Mrs. Basil E Frankweiler have an element of the fantastical and the mysterious in our own world. These are the kinds of stories I love, stories that give us a “world of more”… and most fairy tales fit right into that mix. Real, but not real.

 

  1. Do you have any more books planned after Lotus and Thorn?

I can’t say too much about this topic right now… however I will say that this world and those characters grabbed onto me and I haven’t been able to shake them. Nor do I want to!

More Cliff Stock 138 by The-strawberry-tree

Stock photo from the-strawberry-tree
  1. What made you decide to end on such a huge cliffhanger/reveal?

Well, the cliffhanger was a bit of a surprise to me too! As a reader, I don’t always love it when an author does that. But when I was writing that final scene with Leica and Nik and the Pup sleeping out under the stars, it just happened. I saw the helicopters coming up over the mountains. I heard the thrumming as they flew closer and saw the sunrise glaring off the blades and felt my heart start to pump faster! It was such a visceral writing experience that I felt compelled to keep the scene like that, despite any objections my “reader” self might have put forth.

The thing is that I’ve always known the Big Picture of what this world looks like; so with this reveal, it was only a question how much Leica would find out and how much she would understand of what was going on in the outside world. So for me, the helicopters felt like a satisfying taste of what lay beyond those mountains.

  1. Did you do any research for this book?

So much research!! I’m a scientist at heart—studied biology and ecology through most of college—so I love the research aspect so writing. But this book was intense! Figuring out ecosystems—what would grown in the desert, in the Dome. Figuring out what would still be around after 500 years and what would have broken down. Future technology, like 3D food printers or swarm robotics or solar glass. Cultures. Clothing. And I definitely pulled in wonderful writers and super smarties to help me along the way as well. I had people vet the book for medical/genetics issues, whether the radio/tech stuff made sense in practice and/or theory, for cultural/language/accessibility/diversity issues. There are obviously many, many things in Lotus and Thorn that don’t exist in our world and I’m sure there are lots of discrepancies, but I tried to ensure that the theories and concepts behind my world make sense. And that the real-world issues at play—from growing seasons to transmitting radio signals—functioned correctly.

 

  1. How do you overcome writer’s block?

Mostly I simply try to keep writing on a daily basis, even if it’s for as little as 15 minutes. Something that is routine has less chance of being daunting. I also try to end a writing session a little ways into a new scene, or even in the middle of one…anywhere but the end… so that the next day I’m not coming back to a blank page.

  1. Why did you decide to include Kisaengs in your world?

As I said earlier, I was fascinated by the idea of Venetian courtesans. At the beginning, I struggled with the appropriateness of this subject in a YA book. But then I realized that was exactly where this belongs. Even today, so often teenage girls and young women are taught to use their bodies and appearances as tools of power. You only need to look at magazine racks full of fashion and dating tips to see this. 10 ways to win a guy! 12 dresses that’ll make him look twice! Kisaengs are far removed from the canals of Venice, or from our present day world, but it was their physicality—appearances, bodies, sexuality— that allowed them to escape the desperation of Pleiades. I wanted the reader to explore Leica’s own struggle with this dilemma and with her own sense of power.

 

9. Are you working on any other projects right now?

I am! I’m working on several projects that I love. It takes me a while to puzzle my way through my books, so I find that sometimes, working on multiple projects can help me move forward a little faster. I really wish I could talk about them, but for now I’ll just share that I’m having fun putting all the pieces together!

And here’s the promised giveaway!  I hope everyone enjoys this book as much as I did!

a Rafflecopter giveaway