Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Jane in June: Emma by Jane Austen

 This post is part of Jane in June, hosted by The Book Rat.
This novel also fulfills part of the Jane Austen Reading Challenge.



Emma Woodhouse is one of those unfortunate upper class individuals with too much time and energy, and not enough to do. After becoming the mistress of her wealthy, motherless home at a very young age, Emma has become rather accustomed to her position of power and feels it her duty to exercise her influence over the inferior society of Highbury. When the marriage of her friend, confidante and former governess leaves her alone to the company of her high strung father, Emma quickly finds a new hobby and protege in the form of a local boarder of questionable birth, Harriet Smith. Unfortunately for poor Harriet, Emma's idea of entertainment is playing Cupid for all her unmarried acquaintances, and thus begins Harriet's many unreasonable hopes and inevitable disappointments at the hands of her friend's matchmaking. However, though Highbury is a small society, it is not free from scandal and intrigue. Things quickly come to a head as the startling secrets of Highbury's citizens come to light and Emma's latest match for Harriet is implicated in the deception. In the aftermath, Emma comes to realize that, though she has meddled in the love lives of everyone around her, she does not, in fact, even know her own heart.

Jane Austen once said that, in writing Emma, she would be creating an heroine that no one but herself would much like. She was right. Emma Woodhouse is spoiled and arrogant, but, strangely enough, also highly entertaining. In Emma, Austen creates one of the most quirky cast of characters ever assembled within the pages of a novel. From the garrulous but benevolent Miss Bates, to the hypochondriac Mr. Woodhouse, to the pompous and insufferable Mrs. Elton - no two characters are alike, and when a group of such disparate personalities comes together there's bound to be mischief. Austen uses her eclectic cast of characters to poke fun at the mass of humanity in general - everyone knows someone just like one of the folly-ridden residents of Highbury, and it is this familiarity and lighthearted playfulness that engages the reader with a novel in which, to be truthful, nothing much happens besides a string of failed forays into matchmaking. Emma's many attempts at playing Cupid, which invariably fail spectacularly, are the thread that binds the novel's incidents together. Yet, though the heroine is rather exasperating, Austen knows how to write a hero, and Mr. Knightley is no exception. Knightley is perhaps the one character in the whole novel not subject to willful folly, and his steadiness, wisdom, kindness and chivalry could melt the coldest of hearts. Emma is, at its heart, a study of human nature and life, and Austen exhibits her exemplary powers of observation through her vivid and ironic portraits of the quirks and quibbles which define Highbury's oddly assorted inhabitants.

Rating:
Premise: 3/5
Plot: 3.5/5
Characters: 4.5/5
Writing: 4.5/5
Overall: 3.9/5




***Don't forget to enter the Jane in June Giveaway for a chance to win one of three Jane Austen classics - Northanger Abbey, Persuasion and Pride and Prejudice!***

The giveaway will run until July 15, and as a result Jane in June will become Jane in July as I continue to post my remaining two planned Austen reviews.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

CSN Bookshelf Giveaway Winner

Thank you SO much to everyone who entered the CSN Stores giveaway! It received an overwhelming response! The winner was picked using random.org.

Congratulations to Dee at Good Choice Reading!!!!!


I've sent the winner's email address to CSN Stores, who will email you the $50 gift certificate very soon!

Thank you so much to CSN for allowing me to host this giveaway!!

Didn't win? Never fear - I still have TWO other giveaways going on right now! Enter to win one of three Jane Austen classics as part of Jane in June, or a copy of Libi Astaire's Austen-inspired mystery novel The Disappearing Dowry!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Author Interview: Julie Kagawa

Julie Kagawa was born in Sacramento, California. But nothing exciting really happened to her there. So, at the age of nine she and her family moved to Hawaii, which she soon discovered was inhabited by large carnivorous insects, colonies of house geckos, and frequent hurricanes. She spent much of her time in the ocean, when she wasn’t getting chased out of it by reef sharks, jellyfish, and the odd eel.

When not swimming for her life, Julie immersed herself in books, often to the chagrin of her schoolteachers, who would find she hid novels behind her Math textbooks during class. Her love of reading led her to pen some very dark and gruesome stories, complete with colored illustrations, to shock her hapless teachers. The gory tales faded with time, but the passion for writing remained, long after she graduated and was supposed to get a real job. 

To pay the rent, Julie worked in different bookstores over the years, but discovered the managers frowned upon her reading the books she was supposed to be shelving. So she turned to her other passion: training animals. She worked as a professional dogtrainer for several years, dodging Chihuahua bites and overly enthusiastic Labradors, until her first book sold and she stopped training to write full-time.

Julie now lives in Louisville, Kentucky, where the frequency of shark attacks are at an all time low. She lives with her husband, two obnoxious cats, one Australian Shepherd who is too smart for his own good, and the latest addition, a hyper-active Papillon puppy. 




What inspired you to write The Iron King?
I’ve always loved faery tales, the old, creepy faery tales, where the fey were primal and wicked and dangerous, not flower flitting sprites. But when I first began writing a faery story, I got to thinking: what are the fey afraid of? In myth, the answer is iron, so what if there was a type of faery that was immune to iron, that had evolved with progress and technology? How would that affect the more traditional fey? And then I remembered we already have “creatures” lurking in machines: gremlins and bugs and worms and such, and from that thought, the Iron Fey were born.


What sources did you draw from besides “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”?
The research I did for faeries was mostly online. I read a lot of Brother’s Grimm and old fairy tales, with the endings you don’t see in the Disney versions. I know Iron King has been compared to Labyrinth and Alice in Wonderland, and while I did love those movies, they didn’t really come to me in all the time I was writing the book. So yes, Grim is very much like the Cheshire cat, but the inspiration for him came from Macbeth’s Grimalkin and a Scottish Highland faery cat called a cait sith. And while Meghan does enter faeryland in an effort to rescue her little brother (ala Labyrinth), the idea came from old, old legends of faery changelings being switched with human children.

I didn’t read any YA faery books while writing Iron King (though I read them later and loved them, particularly Tithe), but I did read a wonderfully creepy graphic novel called Courtney Crumrin and the Night Things. It showed the fey as how I would imagine them: eerie and mischievous, and just a little macabre. If you enjoy faeries and comics, you should definitely read this series. (Also, I just found out it’s slated to be a 2011 movie, which excites me to no end.)


Oberon, Titania and Puck all have very distinct personalities in your novel. How did you develop these rounded characters out of their original sources?
I wanted the faery rulers at least to be very ‘fey,’ meaning aloof, alien, and disinterested in human affairs. To them, humans are toys and playthings, and deeper emotions such as love and empathy are simply not in their makeup. Puck is different because he’s been around humans so much, but Oberon, Titania, and Mab are centuries old, very powerful, and just too ‘faery’ to be anything remotely human.



Who is your favorite fey creature/being? Why are they special to you? [reader question]
My favorite fey creature is a kitsune, a Japanese fox spirit that can shapeshift into a human. They’re clever and mischievous, and so infamous that there are shrines all over Japan dedicated to pacifying the kitsune so they won’t play their tricks on weak mortals. And, since I’m half-Japanese myself (who loves anime and sushi and ninjas) I find their culture fascinating.


Team Ash or Team Puck? [reader question]
I’m afraid I’m Team Ash (sorry Team Puck), because I’m a sucker for dark, brooding Bad Boys who can wield pointy objects.


How did the covers for your novels get chosen? They are all so beautiful! [reader question, seconded by me]
Thank you! I adore them, too. But sadly, I can’t claim any credit. It was all done by the talented people at Harlequin Teen. Most authors get very little to no input on their cover design, but publishing houses have whole teams dedicated to creating covers based on what the market is like, and what elements will make readers pick a particular book from the shelves. Because, let’s face it, we’re all attracted to gorgeous or interesting covers. :)


SPOILER! Highlight to read the question and answer. When Meghan and Robbie are on the bus, and they see the guy who Robbie believes to be Ash, was it really Ash? What was he doing there? [reader question]
Yes, it was Ash, and he was there hunting for Robbie/Puck. Remember that Puck had been looking after Meghan for several years, so it was awhile since Puck and Ash had seen each other.


What was your favorite scene to write? Why?
I can’t remember just one particular scene, but I do love action sequences. Romance is hard for me. Give me a good bloody sword fight any day. :)


What was your biggest challenge in writing this novel?
Writing 50,000 words in 30 days. I did the second half of Iron King for NaNo Wrimo, and it was probably the most frantic 30 days of my life. o_O


In The Iron King, the fey are born from human imagination. How did you develop this imaginative premise?
It’s a myth that’s been around awhile, both in legend and in some popular modern tales (Peter Pan uses it, as does the RPG White Wolf system, Changeling the Dreaming). For me, the idea that fey evolved from human fear and imagination became especially crucial when introducing the Iron fey. Without that idea that faeries came from human dreams, the Iron fey couldn’t exist.


What message do you hope readers take away from The Iron King?
Lol, I’ve seen some reviews that think I wrote The Iron King to show that technology is BAD and EVIL, and that’s not the case at all. (I love my laptop and my PS3 and my Xbox 360, and I dream about getting an iPad and a Nook and all these wonderful little gadgets that are so amazing.) If readers do take anything away from The Iron King, I hope it will be the themes of friendship, loyalty, and family.


What led you to write the Winter’s Passage novella? Do you plan to write another novella between Iron Daughter and Iron Queen? [reader question]
Actually, my editor asked me if I could write a short story in the Iron fey world, with the intent that it would be available for free until The Iron Daughter came out. So I came up with the idea for Winter’s Passage. I don’t know if I’ll do another one between Iron Daughter and Iron Queen, but it’s certainly possible.


Why do you think the fantasy genre, and especially paranormal romance, is so popular in modern times?
I’ve always loved fantasy, and I think the reason paranormal romance is so popular is the idea that this strange, wonderful, eerie world is all around us, and that one day, we could run into a vampire in biology, or a werewolf living next door, or a faery prince at the mall. And if these beautiful, otherworldly creatures can fall in love with the ordinary girl next door, hey, it could happen to us too, right?


What authors have inspired you? What about them is inspirational?
Neil Gaiman is my author hero. His books have this wonderful mix of creepy and surreal that I just love. Terry Brook’s Shannara series made me love fantasy, and introduced me to my first character crush (Morgan Leah). And, though she writes manga and not novels, Yuu Watase’s Fushigi Yugi was the first manga series I read and fell head-over-heels in love with, introducing me to the awesome world of anime and drool-worthy bishounen. (“Miaka! “Tamahome!”)


What is a random fact readers probably don’t know about you?
I have reoccurring nightmares about tornados. I love thunderstorms, but a tornado warning can send me into a quiet panic. o_O


What are you working on outside of The Iron Fey trilogy? I’ve heard whisperings of a vampire series?
Yes indeed! My next project, after The Iron Fey, will be a series where a virus has wiped out 95% of Earth’s population, and vampires have risen up to dominate the world. (Since they were already dead, the virus couldn’t affect them.) As of right now, I’m working on a secret project that only my editor and I know about. But, after the Iron Fey trilogy ends, we’re hoping it will be big. :)


What can you tell us about the remaining novels in the trilogy, The Iron Daughter and The Iron Queen?
In The Iron Daughter, Meghan has some tough choices to make, most prominently the choice of who she loves most: Ash or Puck? And in The Iron Queen, the battle with the Iron fey finally comes to a head, and Meghan’s life, not to mention all of Faery, is changed forever.

Thanks so much for the interview! :)




Thank you so much to Julie Kagawa for agreeing to an interview! It was truly amazing to hear more about what went into creating such a fantastic novel! And thank you to the readers who submitted questions!






If you missed my review of The Iron King, you can read it here!






Don't miss the Iron Fey novella, Winter's Passage, FREE to download until July 31, 2010! Julie is running a Winter's Passage fan trailer contest on her blog from July 1 - August 1! Check it out and enter to win!










Look for the second installment of the Iron Fey trilogy, The Iron Daughter, on August 1, 2010!







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Sunday, June 20, 2010

Preview: Tell Me a Secret by Holly Cupala

Cari over at Cari's Book Blog was kind enough to pass along a two-chapter preview of the upcoming novel Tell Me a Secret by Holly Cupala! Thanks, Cari!

COMING JUNE 22, 2010!

Tell me a secret, and I'll tell you one…

In the five years since her bad-girl sister Xanda’s death, Miranda Mathison has wondered about the secret her sister took to the grave, and what really happened the night she died. Now, just as Miranda is on the cusp of her dreams—a best friend to unlock her sister’s world, a ticket to art school, and a boyfriend to fly her away from it all—Miranda has a secret all her own.

Then two lines on a pregnancy test confirm her worst fears. Stripped of her former life, Miranda must make a choice with tremendous consequences and finally face her sister’s demons and her own.

In this powerful debut novel, stunning new talent Holly Cupala illuminates the dark struggle of a girl who must let go of her past to find a way into her own future. 


The opening chapters of this novel were gripping. Mandy is a haunted girl, trying to outrun her own demons, as well as the ones her sister left behind. Even in such a brief passage, Mandy and her sister Xanda come to life (despite Xanda's untimely death). I'm already eager to find out the truth about Xanda's last days, as well as what mischief Mandy has gotten herself into since the tragedy. Holly Cupala has a unique and engaging writing style, giving her narrator and heroine a distinct voice. She is very descriptive and layers on the suspense in the opening pages. The flashback that starts the story is a great introduction; the memory paints a detailed portrait of each sister's personality, as well as their relationship to one another and their parents, allowing readers to draw their own inferences, rather than having it laboriously spelled out. I truly cannot wait to read the rest of this novel - my interest is piqued!

To pique your interest, here's a little teaser quote from the novel:

No one mentions my sister. If they do, it’s mentioning her by omission, relief that I am nothing like her. I am the good sister. Thank God.

To speak of my sister . . . there’s nothing more sacrilegious. Alexandra, Andra, Alex. Xanda—who was, and is, and is to come. To speak her name is my family’s purest form of blasphemy.

This novel is available for preorder now!




More about Tell Me a Secret:
Author Site
Virtual Tour
Excerpt

Friday, June 18, 2010

Review: The Iron King by Julie Kagawa

Meghan Chase's life hasn't been normal since her sixth birthday: the day her father vanished without a trace. Not until ten years later does she finally begins to learn the truth about that fateful day. On the eve of her 16th birthday, Meghan awakes to what seems like just another day, but things quickly take a turn for the bizarre when she starts seeing things - like a strange shriveled creature perched atop her computer - even though she's far too young to be going senile. Unfortunately for Megan, that's only the beginning of her problems. When her half brother Ethan claims that "the man in the closet" tried to drag him under the bed, and his stuffed rabbit is passing him secret messages, Meghan writes it off as the fanciful imaginings of a toddler, but when Ethan starts attacking their family, Meghan quickly realizes that something is horribly, horribly wrong. To her surprise, however, it is her prankster best friend Robbie Goodfell who seems to have all the answers - like the fact that Ethan is now a changeling. The terrible and amazing truth is beyond her wildest imaginings, and much more than Meghan's practical mind is willing to accept. It's not until Robbie guides her past the bogeyman in the closet into the wyldwood of the Nevernever and on towards the palace of the summer faery king that Meghan is forced to come to terms with the secret world of myth and magic that lies all around her, hidden from humankind. In her desperate quest to save her kidnapped brother from an unknown enemy, Meghan has no choice but to travel deeper into the wild and dangerous faery world, not yet realizing that the fate of this enchanted land lies in her hands.

In The Iron King, Julie Kagawa spins an enchanting tale full of myth, magic, mystery and adventure. The way Kagawa expands the faery characters from Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" into vivid and lifelike personalities is remarkable, especially when it comes to the character of Robin Goodfellow, aka Puck. Puck is one of the most entertaining and endearing characters in the entire novel. While remaining entirely recognizable as the troublesome trickster from "Midsummer," Kagawa makes him seem almost human and entirely lovable. Readers only begin to get a glimpse of the complexities that lie within King Oberon and Queen Titania, however, and their development in future books will hopefully be just as compelling and intriguing as that of Puck. The focus of the story, though, is heroine Meghan Chase - a slightly awkward, down-to-earth, teenage girl. Meghan is a surprisingly relateable heroine, in spite of her more-than-human heritage. Her trials and tribulations at the hands of the "popular crowd," her lively and loyal best friend, her family's ignorance of her existence - all of these will strike a chord with Kagawa's young adult readers. However, Meghan never becomes whiny; she is the kind of heroine who sucks it up and pushes on - an admirable and refreshing trait. As a result, she won't weary older readers, allowing people of all ages to be enchanted by this charming and carefully constructed story of imagination and adventure. However, I hope to see more of Meghan's inner thoughts in future novels - her true nature remains mysterious.

The premise behind Kagawa's Nevernever (the faeryland) is both brilliantly creative and seems to be an insightful portrait of modern disillusionment and the indelible mark technological innovation has left on our planet. This novel is thought-provoking, while never becoming preachy and always keeping the reader engrossed. The Nevernever is home to a host of mystical creatures - both the enchanting and the horrifying, and the novel possesses a delicate and bewitching balance between the haunting darkness that is often associated with the fey, and the atmosphere of a fanciful, coming-of-age adventure. Kagawa seems to draw on a myriad of imaginings - from the "pack rats," adorable gnomes reminiscent of the seven dwarves, to their frightening goblin counterparts, the redcaps, to the character who steals the show and calls to mind the Cheshire cat from Alice in Wonderland: Grimalkin. Grimalkin is Meghan's inscrutable guide, a cat full of sarcasm and dry wit. Kagawa is clearly a cat person, because she personifies the aloof and condescending attitude of a cat perfectly and hilariously. However, what would a faery tale be without the dashing hero? Enter Ash - sworn enemy of Meghan's best friend Puck and prince of the dangerous Unseelie court, the winter faery kingdom which rivals the Seelie court, domain of the summer king, Oberon. Ash is dark and definitely deadly; the first time Meghan sees him, he tries to kill her - but of course, this intrigue only heightens his allure. Kagawa develops their story slowly and tantalizingly, drawing the reader in and keeping them frantically flipping pages anxiously awaiting the romantic gratification. Even Team Puck fans will find themselves holding their breath as Ash and Meghan walk the tightrope between enmity and love, while still crossing their fingers in the hope that Meghan will realize the meaning behind Puck's thinly veiled quips. The Iron King is a truly captivating novel, holding something for everyone within its pages - whether readers are looking for romance, magic, mystery or life-threatening and never-ending adventure. The upcoming August sequel, The Iron Daughter, can't come quickly enough.

Rating:
Premise: 5/5
Plot: 4.5/5
Characters: 4/5
Writing: 4.5/5
Overall: 4.5/5

Click here to purchase The Iron King
 





Don't miss the recently released Iron Fey novella, Winter's Passage! Free to download until July 31, 2010.










Come back on Monday to read my interview with The Iron King author Julie Kagawa!





Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Guest Post: Author Libi Astaire with Giveaway


In anticipation of her upcoming novel, the second installment of the Ezra Melamed Mystery series: The Ruby Spy Ring, mystery author Libi Astaire has kindly agreed to be featured as a guest poster here on The Bookish Type, as well as host a giveaway of the first novel in the series The Disappearing Dowry!

Ms. Astaire will be answering questions and responding to comments throughout the day, so please share your thoughts in the comments section!



Libi Astaire is an author and freelance journalist based in Jerusalem who often writes about Jewish history. The first book in her acclaimed Ezra Melamed Mystery series, The Disappearing Dowry, was honored with a 2010 Sydney Taylor Notable Book Award. Her novel about modern-day descendents of Spain’s crypto-Jews, Terra Incognita, was recently published by Targum Press.




The Mystery of a Good Mystery

When The Disappearing Dowry was published last year, my very talented marketing staff at Zahav Press came up with this tag line for an ad: Everyone loves a good mystery!

I loved it. After all, if everyone loves a good mystery wouldn’t that mean that everyone would love my new mystery series too?

But then the editor/compulsive re-writer in me chimed in with a dissenting opinion and asked, “Is that really true? Does everyone love a mystery story? And if they do, why? What’s the big appeal of a good mystery?”

Spoiler: I haven’t yet found the definitive answer, but here are a few clues that I’ve discovered so far:

Escape: Many mystery fans say they like the genre because it allows them to escape from their problems for a few hours. Some people like the vicarious thrill of being thrust into a dangerous situation. Other people just like to travel to a different time or place.

I know that one of the reasons why I enjoyed writing The Disappearing Dowry and The Ruby Spy Ring (the second book in my Ezra Melamed Mystery series, which is scheduled for publication this summer) was because it allowed me to escape to Regency England and explore the lives of London’s small Jewish community. Since this is an era in Jewish history that hasn’t been written about much by Jewish writers, the series has given readers a chance to explore a new world too.

Yet all fiction offers an escape route into another world. So what is the special allure of a good mystery?

Gym Time for the Brain: People who read lots of mysteries will often say something along the lines of, “It’s fun to try to figure out whodunit.” As someone who was a mystery reader long before I became a mystery writer, I can vouch for that. I’ll doggedly read a mystery to the end, even if I’m not in love with the book, just to get to that “Aha!” moment when all the pieces of the puzzle fall into place – something I might not do with a different genre of fiction.

Is this need to solve the puzzle something that’s hardwired in our brains? If scientists are correct, the answer is yes! Just as our bodies need exercise to stay healthy, our brains also need to get a good workout at a “mental gym.” So the good news is that when you read a mystery and try to figure out who did it, you’re doing your brain a favor (just don’t stay up until 3 am to solve the puzzle).

Comfort for the Soul: Yet another reason people give is that they find mysteries comforting. What’s so comforting about crime? Actually, nothing. The comfort comes when the reader gets to the last page and sees that order has been restored and the world is once again a safe place (at least until the next book in the series comes out).

This reason intrigued me, because it sounds like a page out of The Disappearing Dowry. My sleuth, Mr. Ezra Melamed, has taken up detective work only because he wants to help out a friend in his community, Mr. Samuel Lyon, whose money has been stolen under mysterious circumstances. That act of theft has set off a chain of events that could have dire consequences: the family’s eldest daughter, Hannah Lyon, might have to break off her recent engagement to her wealthy suitor and the entire family might have to leave their comfortable home and move into the debtors’ ward at Newgate Prison.

When Mr. Melamed contemplates the possible consequences of the thief’s actions, he is determined to find the culprit who has caused so much distress for an innocent family, so that order can be restored to their world. Does he succeed?

Of course. Otherwise, The Disappearing Dowry wouldn’t be a mystery – or at least it wouldn’t be a mystery that most mystery fans would want to read, since it seems that mystery lovers do want the good guys to prevail. And with this we may have come to the real reason why mystery lovers love their mysteries so much: a mystery’s happy ending restores our feelings of hope.

We all have our problems and those moments when we panic and think, “How am I ever going to get out of this?” Then we escape for a little while with a good mystery, which reminds us - to borrow the words of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, a Chassidic master who lived around the time of the Regency period - “Never despair! It is forbidden to give up hope!” No matter how big the problem, if we’re willing to escape from our usual way of thinking and put our minds to work to follow the clues, we will eventually become the all-wise detective and find a way to solve the puzzle of our own life’s story. And that’s a comforting thought, indeed.

Are there other reasons why people love to read a good mystery? I’d love to hear what you think.

 
(Don't forget, Ms. Astaire will be responding to commenters throughout the day, so please share your thoughts!)
 

Coming this summer! 
The Ruby Spy Ring
By Libi Astaire
Published by Zahav Press, an imprint of Targum Press
Available at www.targum.com

With the excitement of her elder sister’s wedding now just a memory, a restless Rebecca Lyon is thrilled to be invited for a visit by her best friend, Miss Harriet Franks. However, her stay turns gloomy when she accompanies the Franks family to a fashionable picture gallery and Mrs. Franks inexplicably faints while viewing a picture. Then a coded message is found in the Mayfair tailoring establishment of Harriet’s father, and Mr. Franks is accused of being part of spy ring that is working for the French.

While Mr. Franks languishes in prison, Mr. Ezra Melamed, a wealthy widower-turned-sleuth, attempts to discover the identity of this dangerous spy ring. But to his dismay, the one person who could possibly shed light on the matter seems to have disappeared off the face of the earth. With only the coded message, a mysterious ruby ring and a cryptic message from a Chassidic Rebbe to guide him, will Mr. Melamed be able to save Mr. Franks from the hangman’s noose?

-----------------------------------------------------------

Giveaway [CLOSED]

Ms. Astaire has kindly offered a copy of the first novel in the Ezra Melamed Mystery series: The Disappearing Dowry to one lucky reader living anywhere in the world!

The Disappearing Dowry
By Libi Astaire
Published by Zahav Press, an imprint of Targum Press
Available at www.targum.com

It is the summer of 1810, and the Napoleonic Wars are raging. But for Mr. Samuel Lyon, clockmaker to the fashionable world, disaster has struck closer to home. Not only has his bank gone bankrupt, but someone has broken into his shop and stolen the last of his money. And so instead of leading his eldest daughter to the wedding canopy, it now seems that Mr. Lyon will be leading his unfortunate family to the debtors’ ward of Newgate Prison.

The Lyon family is on the verge of despair when help arrives from an unexpected source: Mr. Ezra Melamed, a wealthy widower turned sleuth. But with only a key, a button, and a few cryptic words from a Chassidic Rabbi to guide him, can Mr. Melamed restore the disappearing dowry to its rightful owners before the Lyon family faces total ruin?


What do you have to do to win? Simply leave a meaningful comment on this post, including your email address so that you can be contacted if you win! If you win, please respond within 48 hours with your mailing address or a new winner will be selected. Winner will be picked via random.org. Contest ends June 30 at midnight EST.


You can also get extra entries!

+3 Old followers (before this contest)
+2 New Followers (after/during this contest)
+2 Following @LibiAstaire on Twitter (please leave your Twitter name)
+1 Following @The_BookishType on Twitter (please leave your Twitter name)
+1 (per link) Sharing this contest and guest post (Twitter, Facebook, Sidebar, etc - leave links for each)
+3 Blog Post about this contest and guest post (leave a link)

Be sure to include any extra entries in your comment, and add up your total entries! Any extra entries without verification links cannot be counted.

Thank you so much to Ms. Astaire for agreeing to guest post and for generously offering to provide a copy of her novel for the giveaway!

Giveaway: Win a bookshelf from CSN Stores!

If you're anything like me, you just can't have too many bookshelves. Thanks to the wonderful people at CSN Stores, I'm able to give away a $50 gift certificate that can be used on any of their 200+ stores! While I personally recommend a bookshelf (as this is a book-themed site), you may want to get headboards, lamps, rugs, coffee tables or dining sets!

(Click to be taken to the page)


Please note that this contest is open to US and Canada residents.

So, what do you have to do to enter? Simply be a follower of this blog and leave a comment on this post with your email address so that CSN can email you the gift certificate! The contest is open until Wednesday, June 23 at noon EST! I'll send the winner's email address to CSN Stores, who will email them the $50 gift certificate! The winner will be picked using random.org.

You can also get extra entries!

+3 Old followers (before this contest)
+2 New Followers (after/during this contest)
+4 for leaving a meaningful comment on any review on this site (List of Reviews) - please indicate which review you commented on
+1 (per link) Sharing this contest (Twitter, Facebook, Sidebar, etc - leave links for each)
+3 Blog Post about this contest (leave a link)

Be sure to include any extra entries in your comment, and add up your total entries! Any extra entries without verification links cannot be counted.


Thanks to CSN Stores for enabling me to host this giveaway! Good luck to the entrants!

Update: I have added the minor requirement of being a follower to enter; however, any entries already submitted (prior to 12:10 pm EST today) are exempt from this additional requirement.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Jane in June: Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen (& Giveaway!)

 
 This review is part of the Jane in June event over at The Book Rat.
It also completes 1/8 books in the Jane Austen Reading Challenge!
Giveaway details at the bottom of the post!



"No one who had ever seen Catherine Morland in her infancy would have supposed her born to be an heroine." Under these unassuming auspices begins the tale of young Catherine's first excursion into society and its accompanying hazards. Youthful and optimistic - often to the point of naivety - Catherine leaves her rural home for Bath, England, the city of pleasure. Despite being under the care of her high society friends, the Allens, Catherine initially finds herself watching the enjoyments of the city from the sidelines, but a happy coincidence soon procures her the friendship of the young and beautiful Isabella Thorpe and the attentions of her brother John. John is too late, however; Catherine's interest has been piqued elsewhere, in the dashing form of Henry Tilney. Yet, there would be no story if the heroine rode off into the sunset without hindrance or disaster, and Catherine is on course for both. Poor Catherine's naivety quickly lead her into some sticky situations, and her own voracious appetite for all things ghastly, especially the gothic novels in vogue at the time, cultivates a propensity to see horror where there is none - but when it comes to the imposing figure of Henry's widowed father, General Tilney, perhaps Catherine's macabre suspicions have not led her entirely astray.

Northanger Abbey is not the typical Jane Austen novel. While it does feature the standard courtship plot that is Austen's forte, the true focus is on the gothic parody. Austen's wit is at its finest within the pages of this novel; her biting sarcasm and outrageous exaggeration of the gothic tropes demonstrate her mastery of the novel form, as well as her deep understanding of reader expectations. All the characters exhibit the follies of human nature that Austen is so adept at overtly highlighting and subvertly remonstrancing. While Henry Tilney is no Mr. Darcy (and really, there can only be one Darcy) he is still a complex, engaging and unique hero.  Henry's strange quirks and quips mystify young heroine Catherine while they amuse and entertain the reader. Catherine's own naivety, rather than being exasperating, is endearing as well as comical, as Austen playfully uses sharp irony to define Catherine's character. Even the most insipid characters can draw a laugh under Austen's skillful hand. The novel also supplies some hair-raising and brilliantly written scenes of supposed horror. Henry himself narrates his own version of the gothic thrills awaiting Catherine at his home, Northanger Abbey - setting up both the reader and the heroine to dread death and dastardly deeds around every corner. Austen occasionally digresses into personal diatribes in defense of the novel form, and of her decisions as an author - but it is done so well and so scathingly that it is as entertaining for the reader as the fictional plot. Northanger Abbey is, at its heart, a novel for entertainment. While, true to form, Austen does include the didactic and the critical, they are not allowed to supersede the plot and readers will walk away with the same sense of contentment and awe that Austen's writing has inspired for centuries.

Rating:
Premise: 4/5
Plot: 4/5
Characters: 4/5
Writing: 4.5/5
Overall: 4.1/5





Check out my post The Jane Austen Tour of Bath to see pictures of locations from Northanger Abbey!


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JANE IN JUNE GIVEAWAY [CLOSED]

To celebrate Jane in June and to give everyone a chance to read these amazing novels, I have three books to give away: Northanger Abbey, Persuasion, and Pride and Prejudice! (All of which I'll be reviewing during the month.)

Two books will be going to readers in the US, and one will be available for international readers!

RULES: 
  • You must be a follower
  • You must leave a meaningful comment on one of the Jane in June posts
  • Then just fill out one of these forms:

US readers, to enter please fill out THIS FORM!

INTERNATIONAL readers, to enter please fill out THIS FORM!


There are extra entries!

The contest will run until midnight EST on July 15th. The winners will be contacted via email and announced on the blog. They will then have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be selected via random.org.

*The Bookish Type accepts no responsibility for lost or damaged books.
**I reserve the right to extend or terminate this contest at any time.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Jane in June: The Jane Austen Tour of Bath

 
As part of Jane in June, I thought it would be fun to share some pictures of places in Bath, England that were featured in Austen's novels (specifically Northanger Abbey and Persuasion), as well as being places important in Austen's own life.


Northanger Abbey








The Edgar Buildings, where Isabella, John and the rest of the Thorpes stayed, and Catherine heard the news of her brother's engagement.

It is also where Sir Walter Eliott, in Persuasion, "counted 87 women go by, one after another, without there being a tolerable face among them."











Milsom Street, where the Tilney family stayed, and Catherine went to make her apologies to Eleanor.

Isabella Thorpe saw "the prettiest hat you can imagine in a shop window in Milsom Street just now - with coquelicot ribbons."



The Assembly Rooms, also known as the Upper Rooms in Northanger Abbey, where everyone went to socialize - including the heroine Catherine Morland.

"The important evenings came which was to usher her [Catherine] into the Upper Rooms. Her hair was cut and dressed by the best hand, her clothes put on with care, and Mrs. Allen and her maid declared she looked quite as she should do... The season was full, the room crowded, and the two ladies squeezed in as well as they could..."





A view of Beechen Cliff from the Royal Crescent, where the Tilneys and Catherine go for a "picturesque walk."





















Pulteney Street, where Catherine stayed with the Allens.










Laura Place, from whence Catherine is tricked into going on a drive with the Thorpes and her brother, instead of on her planned walk with the Tilneys.



Persuasion


The Westgate Buildings, where Anne's friend Mrs. Smith lives "in a very humble way" in Persuasion.












(The sign is a little faded.)

















The Gravel Walk was a favorite haunt of Austen's. It's also the "comparatively quiet and retired gravel-walk" where Anne and Captain Wentworth profess their undying love in Persuasion.










Austen







The Paragon Buildings, where Austen once stayed with her unpleasant aunt while in Bath.




The house in the Paragon Buildings in which Austen stayed on her first visit to Bath.



















13 Queen Square, where Austen stayed during her trip to Bath in 1799 so that her brother Edward could use the "healing" waters.

By the time of Persuasion, it was no longer fashionable - Miss Musgrove tells her father, "none of your Queen's Squares for us!"

















4 Sydney Place, the best-known Austen abode in Bath.















I hope you enjoyed the pictures! Come back tomorrow for my review of Northanger Abbey, as well as the details for the Jane in June Giveaway!


© Copyright Casey Blackwell. All rights reserved.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Author Interview: Laura Kreitzer


 A little while ago, I read, reviewed and LOVED Shadow of the Sun by debut fantasy author Laura Kreitzer. Laura was kind enough to agree to an interview, so please check out my review if you haven't, then read on to learn more about this great new author!

Shadow of the Sun in AUTOGRAPHED paperback is on sale for the month of June on Laura's website. Check it out!




Laura Kreitzer is a newly published fiction author who hails from western Kentucky. While her full-time 9-5 job includes working in a lab devoted to water dye-tracing investigations at Western Kentucky University, her passion lies in writing.

Shadow of the Sun is the first book in the Timeless Series of books about a young woman, Gabriella, who is a doctor in charge of paranormal investigations at an influential government lab. A sudden delivery to her lab reveals the possibility that angels actually exist and she must use her skills in both science and discernment to decide if the previously thought of science fiction is a reality.

The main character is similar to the author in many ways, the least of which is her incredible intelligence. Both Gabriella and Laura are both strong women who let very little stand in their way. (From her website.)



What inspired you to write Shadow of the Sun?

I was writing fan fiction for Twilight for over a year and I had many fans tell me they loved my writing and suggested I should write something of my own. For a long time I couldn’t decide what it was I wanted to write about, until one day I talked with my grandma about it and she suggested angels. It all blossomed from here.


What was your biggest challenge in writing this novel?

Sleep, or lack thereof. I was working full time with an hour commute, plus real life. I was exhausted, but I was devoted to finishing my novel. I took me only 3 months to complete my manuscript—which is a bloody miracle considering how much time I didn’t have.


SPOILER ALERT! (Highlight to read the question and answer) What was your favorite scene to write? Why?

The plane crash scene was fun to write because of the drama that was involved. How do you put yourself in the shoes of someone who is literally plummeting to their death? I don’t know, but I did. It was scary. Also, writing the morgue scene was quite . . . interesting. That was one of the scenes I wrote out of order because it was stuck in my head. What would it be like to wake up in a morgue and find out you are supposed to be dead? Creepy!

How did your interest in writing develop?

Damn the cliché that is Stephenie Meyer. It was her series that started me writing, it was J.K. Rowling’s amazing story from rags to riches that made me want to write my own story. I admit I even cry every time I watch her documentaries.


I know you’ve also written some fan fiction stories. What impact did that experience have on your writing?

Everything. When I started, I was a horrible writer . . . maybe not horrible writing, but technically it was awful. But it started me out and over time I taught myself how to be better through constructive criticism or fan suggestions. It was some random beta reader I used for a few chapters that taught me a lot. Wish I remembered her screen name so I could thank her. 


SPOILER ALERT! (Highlight to read this question and answer) How much did your story line change as you wrote the book? Are there any major differences that you'd be willing to share with us? [reader question] 


It changed a whole-hell-of-a-lot. Actually, at first the person in the coffin in the prologue was going to be Andrew . . . ::throws up hands:: Don’t kill me! I didn’t do it because I knew my fans would KILL ME! :D Karen wasn’t going to be a bad character either . . . but she was too sweet so by the time she turned into the Soul Stalker in the book, all the time before I wasn’t expecting it to happen. I was writing and all of a sudden she was . . . evil. Muahahaha!

Are any of your characters based on people you know in real life? [reader question]

Jenna & Nicole (Gabriella’s sister & cousin) are based on two of my cousins who have been my best friends throughout my childhood and adulthood. Gabriella has some of my sarcastic side, but I tried my best to write myself out of her, but that is harder than it sounds. Many of the characters are named after friends and family, but their personalities aren’t based on the characters I wrote.


How did you develop the unique angel canon at the heart of the novel?

I pulled it out of my arse. Honestly. I have this ratty red notebook (the cover just fell off, I am so sad about that) where I write ideas in, and it was in that red notebook where everything started. I wrote out the angel hierarchy and what each level would be. It gets complicated and I will be posting that under the lexicon this summer. We’ll get more in depth with it in book two and three, also.


Is Joseph really human? [sneaky reader question ;-)]

Sneaky! Sneaky! If I tell you yes, people might be disappointed, if I tell you no, then there would be no mystery. So how about I’m not tellin’ . . . na na na na na na~!


What team are you on?

::blinks:: I’m on the angel squad. Team Angel all the way.


Do you have any outtakes or deleted scenes that you might post some day? [reader question]

Not really, though I might write an outtake, though. I will post something in Andrew’s POV eventually. It’ll be fun!


Did you finish writing the whole series before you found a publisher for the first book in the series? And if not, how many books do you have left to write in the series and are they already planned in their entirety? [reader question from a fellow writer]

I am literally pages away from finishing book two, so I did not finish the whole series before I found my publisher. I actually found my publisher before I was even done writing the first book!

I was thinking of only writing three books, but the other day the end of book two changed drastically, totally shifting the plot of the third. I am going to guess on four, but if more comes to me, I’ll write a fifth . . . and so on. I guess we’ll see. I also have ideas for other books, which I have stored in my head for later.


The cover of Shadow of the Sun is amazing – how did it come about?

My editor, Brianne Villano, actually made a drawing of what she pictured the cover to be. I found this amazing graphic designer and gave him some of my ideas mixed with Bri’s ideas and voila! The cover! (And thanks! I love the cover and think it is amazing too!)


Is there an author that inspires you to write? If so, who are they and why are they inspirational? [reader question] 

J.K. Rowling. I know, I am repetitive. She is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G! Her whole story, how she donates to charities, how she made a whole generation of kids (and adults) get back into reading. Without her, I may have never of even picked up the Twilight books which started me writing. But what truly inspires me to write are the people in my life, the non-authors. My mother-in-law is fighting cancer—she has been for 10 years—and she is on her last stretch of treatments. If they don’t work, she will not survive. I take her to all of her doctor’s appointments, drive her three hours one way one-two times a week for treatments. She fights every day for her life and that is an inspiration! That is who I should look up to. If I was her, I would have given up a long time ago. She has strongly affected my writing in this book. Hopelessness is a horrible feeling, which is how I feel. Sometimes that is how Gabriella feels, too. But she fights still. Gabriella is a better person then me too!


What is a random fact that readers probably don’t know about you?

Shadow of the Sun isn’t my first publication, but probably the first that any of my readers would want to read. I have written a 140 page book that has been translated into Chinese and is used daily by many people for scientific work. (See why none of my readers would be interested?) I also wrote a story about working in the field, dye tracing (my day job), but I haven’t let anyone read it yet. :) It’s quite funny.


What can you tell us about the sequel, Soul Stalker?

 
SPOILER! (Highlight to read) Hmmm . . . Soul Stalker. Let’s see. Soul Stalker (aka Karen) is a soulless angel who stalks the souls of humans. She is particularly interested in Gabriella’s soul because of her pureness. Lucky for Gabriella, the Soul Stalker thinks she is dead! But so does her angels: Aiden, Ehno, Lucia, and, of course, Andrew! 

Gabriella goes to Joseph for help (as you read at the end of book one). She needs him to find Andrew again—she plans to tell him the truth. Book two is all about her journey back to Andrew and what happens when she finally arrives back in Italy. Her angels are missing, which leads Gabriella on a dangerous journey back into the Soul Stalker’s path. While she is searching for her kindred soul, Gabriella uncovers a secret that will send the whole angel world into an absolute frenzy.

Yup, that covers the basics without giving away too much of the exciting plot. Yeah, I’m totally full of it, but sometimes I even have to pat myself on the back with some of the craziness I have come up with for book two. :) 


Do you have any novels in the works that aren’t part of the Timeless Series? 


On paper/computer? No. In my head? Oh yeah. Right now I am keeping those ideas on the down low until I have time to start writing out my ideas. All I can tell everyone is that I haven’t read anything like the stories playing out in my head.

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Thank you so much to Laura Kreitzer for this great interview, and to the readers who submitted questions!





Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Of Witches and Warlocks: The Demon Kiss by Lacey Weatherford with Author Interview


Spoiler Alert! Proceed with caution if you have not read the first book in the series, The Trouble with Spells.
Check out the great author interview with Lacey Weatherford at the bottom of the post!


In The Demon Kiss, book two in the Of Witches and Warlocks series, Vance Mangum decides that the time has come to face down his past demons - literally - but his decision to do it alone does not go over well with his girlfriend and fellow witch, Portia. When he leaves in pursuit of his bloodthirsty father without notice, an incensed Portia decides that she has no choice but to follow and hope that she catches up with him before he catches up with his aptly-named father, Damien. With her mortal-turned-magical (thanks to two enchanted amulets) friends Brad and Shelly in tow, 16-year-old Portia sets out to follow a dangerous and potentially deadly path, one which will lead her not only to Vance, but to Damien and his demonic coven as well. However, after finally being reunited and successfully hunting down their quarry, Vance and Portia are in for a horrifying shock. Damien's plans are far more ghastly than they feared, and the young witches find themselves pawns in a sadistic game.

The Demon Kiss revvs up the action and intrigue from its predecessor, The Trouble with Spells, and the new tone of mystery and espionage adds an exciting new facet to Lacey Weatherford's tale of magic and romance. Portia and Vance's relationship becomes more complex, making it more engaging for readers. Vance develops tremendously as a character in The Demon Kiss - the toll his past has taken on him becomes clear, and it is much easier to understand why he clings to Portia so tightly. His consuming love is endearing, and readers will truly feel for his troubled soul. The struggles that result from his near-demon-conversion also revive hints of his alluring dark side, which went missing in the early days of his relationship with Portia. However, as Vance blossoms as a character, Portia becomes a bit more problematic. Portia seems to be a heroine of the fight-her-own-battles variety, and while she does stand up for herself, she still seems like the weakest link when things get particularly nasty. From the beginning, everyone around her has marveled over her unusually strong powers, but those powers have yet to be demonstrated for the reader. When the rest of the coven fly in as reinforcements, the vast and varied cast of characters is lively, but the familial interactions occasionally get awkward - with Portia sleeping in Vance's room and standing by while he discusses her "virtue" with her father - making this reader cringe. Though I would like to see the rest of the coven gain additional depth in future installments, it was a pleasant surprise to see Brad and Shelly develop as more central characters - a lighthearted and imaginative trend I wish had continued for the entirety of The Demon Kiss. The pair of brave and loyal friends have immense potential as characters, as well as foils to Vance and Portia. Despite a few quibbles, The Demon Kiss is an engaging read, full of more suspense and action-driven plot than the first installment of Portia and Vance's tale. If the series continues to develop in the same strain, it promises to pack a powerhouse punch that will make readers lament the saga's end.

Rating:
Premise: 4/5
Plot: 4/5
Characters: 3.5/5
Writing: 3.5/5
Overall: 3.8/5



 
*Disclosure: I received a complimentary review copy of this novel from the author. This did not affect my review in any way. You can read my complete review policy here.



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Author Interview with Lacey Weatherford

In spite of the fact that she is a 38 year old mother of six, this former firefighter/E.M.T. managed to sit down and find the time to write not one, but three subsequent novels to form the Of Witches And Warlocks Series. She has chosen to gear her characters toward the young adult genre, which has shown a significant rise in popularity over the last two decades. Lacey has written characters that are believable in a world of abnormal situations as they learn that choices have consequences that are sometimes unforeseen. (From her website)


What inspired you to write the Of Witches and Warlocks Series?

I had just finished writing another book and was still kind of in that writer mode.  My daughter was dying her hair from blond to a very dark brown and it came out looking black at first.  Someone jokingly told her that people were going to start referring to her as a witch.  The comment stuck in my head.  I was reluctant to pursue the idea at first since I had just finished writing a book and my brain was feeling a little mentally depleted, but the ideas kept tumbling around in my head to the point that I had to start writing them down.  Once that was started I was hooked and had to finish what I had began.

I was told that the model for Portia on your website is your daughter – is the character of Portia based on her? Are any of the other characters based on people you know?

Well, the initial idea of Portia did come from that previous experience with my daughter, and there are definitely some of her characteristics in Portia, such as her love and loyalty toward people, but for the most part I would say that Portia is her own character that developed out of the story as it was written.  As far as the other characters, no one was based in particular on someone that I knew.  I did use threads from different relationships in my life to bring certain characteristics of some of the characters to the forefront, such as the relationship between Portia and her grandmother.  I was always close with my grandma so that was something I could relate to.  The character of Vance Mangum was developed off of the acting style/image of actor Matt Lanter who I am a big fan of also. It was very fun to be able to use him as a reference and to "see" him clearly in my head, which made the character very fun to write.

The dark witches and warlocks in the series are chilling. How did you develop their unique backstory and characteristics?

I wanted the evil in the story to feel tangible and ancient, something with a pulse of its own.  I enjoyed making it something which had evolved through history, changing and growing more evil as time marched on.  I liked that the evil, or changing to be evil, was directly related to the choices and actions of normal witches and warlocks, showing that even these magical people have to face the consequences of their decisions just like the rest of do in real life.  I also wanted the evil in them to feel threatening and graphic.


SPOILER ALERT! (Highlight to read this question and answer) What role do the binding spell and later marriage proposal play in the story? How do you feel about Portia getting engaged at 16?

Vance has been secretly developing feelings for Portia long before the story even begins.  The binding spell was his way of trying to put some kind of mutual tie between them, giving himself some sort of permanency to their relationship.  He has always greatly desired some type of family connection after all of his years on the run and Portia definitely helps to fill that role for him.  It is one of the reasons he latches on to her so hard.  He is also a couple of years older than her, so his head is more into that place where he is looking toward the future and how things might play out in his life.  As far as him asking Portia to get married at 16, well that's just Vance.  He tends to rush headlong into things.  I personally as a mother would probably never condone an engagement at so young of an age but I also feel that Portia is very mature for her age because of the things she has had to go through.  Like I said before, Vance has a great desire for a family connection and he sees that in her.  Because of everything going on around them he is desperately searching for a way to bring her into a more permanent aspect of his life.
 

What was your favorite scene to write? Why?
 
I don't know that I have any one favorite scene.  I am a huge sucker for romance so I really loved writing anything that had to do with the chemistry in between Vance and Portia, whether they were loving or fighting together.  I also really enjoyed delving into the heads of my evil characters and seeing what lengths they would go to so they could accomplish their agendas.  They were intriguing to me since I am so opposite of that kind of person.

What was your biggest challenge in writing this novel?

Getting sleep! (laughing) This story was literally hounding me in my head and I would stay up for hours and hours, day after day, while I tried to get it all written down.  I would stay up until one or two in the morning writing until I couldn't see straight and the words quit making sense.  I would stumble off to bed only to wake up again at four or five, excited with a new idea and unable to go back to sleep.  I would crawl out of bed to start typing away again.  I eventually just starting keeping my laptop next to my bed so I could just grab it and write easier. It was crazy!


Portia and Vance are surrounded by a wide variety of characters. What secondary character is your favorite and why? [reader question]

I am actually quite partial to the "Dads" in the story.  Portia's dad, Sean is such a fun loving quirky character.  He takes his job very seriously but there is this underlying humor to him that is refreshing and honest.  He knows when to be serious and he knows when to let it loose a little and have some fun, and you can feel his love and concern for all of those he is in charge of.  Vance's dad, Damien, was just delicious to write.  He has all of this sophisticated charisma that positively oozes out of him but underneath all of his smoothness he is just nasty! Completely evil to the core!  I love it!


If you suddenly discovered you had magical powers, like Portia, what would be the first thing you would use them for?

That's a really good question and don't believe it is one I have thought of before.  I would like to think I would want to do some great thing that would help out humanity somehow, you know...falling back on the traditional "world peace" answer given by every beauty contestant in the world.  But honestly, with six kids, I would most definitely use some of it to clean my house!!  And maybe a magical weight loss plan could be on the agenda too?  I don't know...I might have to ponder on this one some more!

How did your interest in writing develop?

I have had an interest in writing since I was a young girl and started heavily reading the Nancy Drew novels at the age of eight.  I started writing little stories of my own around the age of nine about me and my cousin.  My mom actually saved those and gave them back to me!  They are hilarious.  Over the years I dabbled very lightly in poetry and writing fun little romances for friends as well as some skits, but it was definitely my love of reading that cultivated my desire to write.  I got involved with associations like The Friends of the Library and things like that when I was older.  I just loved a good story and hoped that one day I would be able to come up with one myself.  I signed up for writing classes in college to help further those interests even though I was going into emergency medicine instead.  It is just something I have been drawn to for as long as I can remember.


Can you please discuss your writing process? [reader question]

The first thing I do when I get a new idea is to just write it down as soon as possible.  Then I may spend a few days contemplating on the subject to see if anything good forms out of it.  If new ideas come out of that reflection then I write those down too until I feel I have a good idea or direction to go in.  When I actually sit down to write it is always on my laptop, somewhere that I can feel really comfortable (on my bed a lot lately) with some water and music.  I find the music to be very influential to the scenes I write so I often end up having whole play lists of songs that accompany my books.  It is very enjoyable for me.  If I find that I come to a place where I feel "stuck" I usually talk over plot lines out loud with someone.  Just having that person to bounce ideas off of always helps to trigger something in my head which will help work things out.


Do you have any words of wisdom for aspiring authors?

I answer this question the same way every time but it is the most honest advice I can give and that is just keep writing.  Sometimes people get so discouraged because they don't feel like they have written something great right off the bat.  I don’t feel there is ever any "bad" writing.  If you are writing then you are in that creative process that will allow something to happen eventually.  Yes, you might have to rewrite or tweak your work a lot but that is okay. It is my firm belief that if you persevere you will end up with something beautiful in the end.  Also, if you do decide to try to get published, do your research about the agents/publishers that are out there.  There are good ones and bad ones so always get to know the people you think you may want to work with first.


What are your favorite books? What about them appeals to you?

As I said earlier, I am a sucker for romance.  I like all styles of it but I do believe my favorite styles are historical or paranormal.  I also like historical/paranormal blended together.  Having been an incurable romantic for as long as I can remember I have always loved a good story with a dashing hero and an equally strong heroine.  I have read a lot of different styles of books and I have too many favorites to list and that list is always changing too.  There is just nothing like a good book!
 

What authors have inspired you? In what way were they inspirational? [reader question]

I have probably most been inspired by L.M. Montgomery who was the author of the Anne of Green Gables series.  I absolutely adore how descriptive her writing is and how she could bring you into the personalities of each of her characters.  I could feel the nostalgia of the scenes that she would set and I loved every little nuance of getting to know each individual character.  Her writing really drew me into her stories.  I hope that is something that I have been able to convey to my readers as well.


What is a random fact readers probably don’t know about you?

My best friend and I are the texting queens of the universe!  She is a book lover like I am so we are always telling each other what to read.  We don’t live in the same town so we are constantly texting to each other all day long.  Then we get together on weekends and go to which ever movie has the hottest guys with the best shirtless abs in them!! Like I said…sucker for hot heroes and romance!!


How many novels do you have planned for the Of Witches and Warlocks Series? What can you tell us about the upcoming novels?

There are four books in the series.  The Trouble With Spells, The Demon Kiss, Blood Of The White Witch, and Redemption.  The third will continue on with Vance and Portia’s story together as well as moving farther into Vance’s quest to work things out with his family issues.  It will also bring to the forefront a major change in their relationship. This change will set new things in motion for them, and those involved with them, guiding the story into some new big twists involving an ancient prophecy.  This prophecy will great influence some of the character development which will carry over into book four.  I so wish I could tell you more….but these plots are on super secret mode right now.  I can only promise that you won’t be disappointed!!


Thank you so much to Lacey for agreeing to be interviewed and for her terrific answers, and thank you to the readers who submitted questions! 

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