Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Madly in Love: The Evolution of Mara Dyer Blog Tour + Giveaway

The lovely ladies at Supernatural Snark and Bewitched Bookworms have been kind enough to put together an amazing tour for the release of The Evolution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin which is hitting shelves TODAY!

Happy Release Day!

Today, Michelle is stopping by with a tantalizing quote and a couple of questions! Without further ado...

His lips brushed my skin and suddenly it was too much. I grabbed a fistful of his T-shirt and pulled him against me, as close as I could but it wasn’t close enough. My hands were trapped between the hard ridges of his stomach and my softness and I was almost breathless with wanting, trembling with it. 

But Noah was still.

Q&A with Michelle:

If you were to sit down to interview Noah and Mara, what’s the first question you’d ask each of them? 

I would ask for accurate contact information, and a current forwarding address. 

What’s one question you wish you, Mara, or Noah would be asked in an interview? 

I wish someone would ask me to name all of the allusions in all of the books. That would be long, long post. 

Mara Dyer once believed she could run from her past.

She can’t.

She used to think her problems were all in her head.

They aren’t.

She couldn’t imagine that after everything she’s been through, the boy she loves would still be keeping secrets.

She’s wrong.

In this gripping sequel to The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, the truth evolves and choices prove deadly. What will become of Mara Dyer next?

At the age of sixteen, Michelle Hodkin lost the rights to her soul in a poker game with pirates just south of Natchez. Shortly thereafter, she joined an acting troupe and traveled the world performing feats of wonder and mischief. She has been seen on stages nationwide and earned rave reviews for her one woman performance of Titus Andronicus before writing The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, her first novel which is available now. The sequel, The Evolution of Mara Dyer, hits shelves October 23, 2012, and the third book in the trilogy, The Retribution of Mara Dyer, hits shelves Fall 2013. Michelle currently lives with her three pets and may or may not be a reliable narrator of her own life.

Tour Schedule:

Monday, October 15th - Supernatural Snark
Tuesday, October 16th - Mundie Moms
Wednesday, October 17th - The Book Swarm
Thursday, October 18th - Refracted Light Reviews
Friday, October 19th - Dazzling Reads

Monday, October 22nd - Candace's Book Blog
Tuesday, October 23rd (release day) - Bookish Type Reviews
Wednesday, October 24th - Page Turners
Thursday, October 25th - Pure Imagination
Friday, October 26th - Bewitched Bookworms

Monday, October 29th - Books and Things
Tuesday, October 30th - Alice Marvels


During the tour, one lucky reader will win a copy of The Evolution of Mara Dyer and some Super Secret Swag of Awesome! Enter to win below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thanks so much to Supernatural Snark and Bewitched Bookworms for organizing this great tour, and to Michelle for taking the time out of her busy schedule to participate!

The Evolution of Mara Dyer is even more stunning than The Unbecoming, and that is saying something. You don't want to miss the suspenseful sequel to this genre-bending series!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Review: Anna Dressed In Blood by Kendare Blake

Seventeen-year-old Cas always knew that one day he would inherit the family business. He was merely the next in a line of ghost killers – people who send ghosts out of the human world. But that day came much sooner than expected when a ghost finally defeated his dad. Cas immediately stepped into his birthright, and although he never shared his plan with anyone, he always intended to avenge his father.

Then, Cas hears about Anna, a ghost so fearsome that an entire town avoids the house where she dwells, fearing they’ll be ripped apart if they step too close. But it seems that Anna may have crossed the boundary to seek out her victims.

Cas has been called up to face his most gruesome opponent to date, and he believes that if he can defeat Anna he’ll finally be powerful enough to take down his father’s killer.

Ever since her death, Anna, wrapped in the same white dress in which she died, stained with the same dripping blood, and covered with curses older and more evil than anything Cas has ever encountered, has violently murdered anyone daring (or stupid) enough to cross the threshold into her rotting, Victorian home. But she spares Cas. 

Kendare Blake powerfully depicts an usual story. Refreshingly dissimilar from the Young Adult trends of dystopias and vampire romances, we enter the world of the paranormal and find it coexisting with our everyday lives. Unlike many stories of teenagers with unusual powers, Cas’ mom is well-aware of her son’s alternate life. After every kill, she casts protection spells on his athame, the tool he, like his father before him, uses to breach the barrier between human and ghost and send the spirit out of this world and into the next.

Blake tells an eerily familiar tale, a teenager trying to prove himself, to protect his family. The familiar setting of the story serves to emphasize just how different the main characters are from the average highschoolers. Ranging from popular jocks and queen bees to outcasts and freaks, we see typical teenagers break through stereotypes and become unique.

Although the violence in Anna Dressed in Blood was more graphic than my normal YA read, fans of the Hunger Games trilogy will barely flinch. If you’re looking for something new and little different, you won’t be disappointed. Blake’s witty dialogue and fascinating characters are as brilliant as the plot. Cas and Anna quickly added themselves to my list of favorite characters, previously populated by Percy Jackson and Harry Potter. This book will not only have you on the edge of your seat from start to finish, you’ll be begging for more by the time it ends (but don't fret, Blake’s sequel Girl of Nightmares has already hit the shelves).

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Blog Tour & Giveaway: The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls by Claire Legrand

Designing Belleville:
The Wardrobe, Architecture, and Aesthetic of a (Not So) Picture-Perfect Town

I’m a very visual person, so when I sat down to write Cavendish, once those first essential elements of my heroine (Victoria) and the story concept itself (creepy orphanage meets Stepford-esque town) were in place, I began engineering a visual backdrop against which I could tell my story. Essentially, I developed the Cavendish aesthetic.

I began collecting images on Tumblr, and seeking out movies that captured the kind of tone I wanted to convey with Cavendish. I thought about what these characters would wear, what their homes would like, what their neighborhoods looked like. What I ended up with is something like the lovechild of Tim Burton (specifically, Edward Scissorhands and any of his stop-motion animation films like The Corpse Bride) and Edward Gorey, with a dollop of the kind of awesome vintage fashion I wish I had the money for in real life.

In other words, creepy with style?

Below are some images, architecture, and fashion that particularly inspired me as I wrote.


Belleville is all about Gothic architecture and creepy iron gates, immaculate cobblestone streets and perfectly groomed hedges, Victorian mansions and polished mahogany woodwork. I pulled these images from my Tumblr (credit is given when I could find it).

I imagine the inside of the Cavendish Home to look like those two above photos. Tiled floors and lots of winding staircases, walls covered in portraits and dark, heavy cabinets. And that’s all the respectable veneer you see before the Real Crazy begins . . .

The people of Belleville are very concerned with making sure everyone knows just how good they look. So as I wrote Cavendish, I imagined people walking about in clothes like these:

Mrs. Wright, Victoria’s mother, would totally wear this snazzy number when hosting their annual holiday party—which, of course, would be the absolute best holiday party in the whole town.


I just know Mrs. Wright dressed Victoria in adorable clothes like this when she was a wee snotty thing.

Minus the quirky tights and blue shoes, I think Victoria would totally wear this on a weekend when she didn’t have to wear her Academy uniform. She would probably trade in the blue shoes for a nice practical pair of Mary Janes, or rainboots, since it’s been storming in Belleville so much lately . . .

Aw, look! It’s like a little Lawrence! I should note that this photo came from the website of a private school in the UK, as an example of how not to wear your school uniform. Tie loosened, shirt untucked, buttons unbuttoned . . . which is exactly how Lawrence prefers it! Much to Victoria’s horror.

Much better! “See?” Victoria would say to Lawrence, stabbing the photo with one finger. “This is what we’re supposed to look like.” And Lawrence would roll his eyes and purposefully dirty his clothes. Just to make her even angrier.

A peek inside Mrs. Wright’s closet. I’m totally jealous.

Mrs. Cavendish may be evil, but girlfriend is STYLIN’. She would totally wear this while going out shopping in town, and anyone who saw her would say, “Oh, there’s that Mrs. Cavendish. Isn’t she lovely? And such a good soul too, taking care of all those children.” Everyone else would just walk by in a daze, and not even notice she was there . . .

Something like this would be Mrs. Cavendish’s everyday wear, as she goes about her business petting bugs and torturing children. You know, same ol’, same ol’.

I don’t really know what’s up with this guy’s hair, but I know that it needs to stop. Also, this is the kind of suit our friend Professor Alban would wear.

And now for some of my favorite photos for inspiring Cavendish’s general aesthetic—these are photos from my Tumblr and screencaps from a couple of different films that I found especially appropriate.

This is from an Edward Gorey book, although I’m not sure which one. L

Belleville is like the town from Edward Scissorhands, except much wealthier and much less kitschy. Everyone has basically the same house and the same car because everyone is shooting for the same thing—trendy, impressive, reeking of money.

Instead, Belleville’s neighborhoods would look more like this group of houses from The Corpse Bride.

Ignore the creepy man posing Victor over there, and you’ll see what I imagine for the interior of Mr. Tibbalt’s house, except a good deal messier, of course. I also imagine the dorms in the Cavendish Home to have this dreary, prison-like feel.

And that’s it! I hope you enjoyed this visual tour of the Cavendish aesthetic. Don’t forget to enter the giveaway for a chance to win a copy of the book!

At the Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls, you will definitely learn your lesson. A dark, timeless, and heartfelt novel for fans of Coraline and The Mysterious Benedict Society.Victoria hates nonsense. There is no need for it when your life is perfect. The only smudge on her pristine life is her best friend Lawrence. He is a disaster—lazy and dreamy, shirt always untucked, obsessed with his silly piano. Victoria often wonders why she ever bothered being his friend. (Lawrence does too.)

But then Lawrence goes missing. And he’s not the only one. Victoria soon discovers that The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls is not what it appears to be. Kids go in but come out…different. Or they don’t’ come out at all.

If anyone can sort this out, it’s Victoria—even if it means getting a little messy.

To win a hardcover copy of The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls from Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers, fill out the form below! Contest is U.S./Canada only. Contest ends September 23rd.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Claire Legrand is a Texan living in New York City. She used to be a musician until she realized she couldn’t stop thinking about the stories in her head. Now a full-time writer, Claire can often be found typing with purpose on her keyboard or spontaneously embarking upon adventures to lands unknown. The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls is her first novel, due out August 28 from Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers. Her second novel, The Year of Shadows, a ghost story for middle grade readers, comes out August 2013. Her third novel, Winterspell, a young adult re-telling of The Nutcracker, comes out Fall 2014.

Make sure to check out the rest of the Cavendish Blog Tour here!

And go say hi to Claire at her: blog | twitter | facebook | tumblr | goodreads

Thanks so much for stopping by, Claire! Congratulations on your debut!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Authors Are Rockstars: Kelly Keaton (A Beautiful Evil)

Kelly loves ancient history, fantasy, and mythology. She dreams of one day attaining magical powers, discovering the secret to immortality, ridding her home of pet hair, and being crowned Mardi-Gras queen. As Kelly Gay, she writes the popular adult urban fantasy series, Charlie Madigan, for Pocket Books. While she calls Raleigh, NC, home, she can also be found chatting about books and life on Facebook and Twitter.

What is your favorite myth? 
I've always loved the Osiris/Isis myth; how Set betrayed and murdered Osiris, and how his wife, Isis, restored her husband and conceived a son, Horus, while Osiris was subsequently relegated to rule in the Underworld...

What about it appeals to you? 
The conflict. The human-ness of it-the jealousy, the anger, the loyalty and love, how things change, but how the constant struggle between good and evil remains - though the Egyptians would call it order and chaos.

Athena is also known as the goddess of wisdom, as well as of war. What led you to focus on her martial side? 
Athena is one of my favorite Greek goddesses. In the world I created, though, a couple thousand years have passed since the ancients wrote about the gods. So a question I had to ponder was, what was going on during this time period, from ancient times to the present day? Surely, personalities would change, experiences during this time would shape and change the gods. It's the same for Athena. Some very significant things have happened to her in the last thousand years, which have reshaped her and led her to become more war-like, more brutal, and unforgiving than ever before.

Will we eventually get to see the wise side of her personality? 
Yes, I think so. Underneath all of Athena's pain is still an extremely intelligent being, one who hasn't forgotten how to be wise, but simply chooses other paths. We will definitely see her at some very honest/wise moments in the future.

One of my favorite things about Ari is how strong and independent she is. What do you think makes for a strong heroine? Who are some heroines you admire? 
Thank you! Perseverance, resilience, character, integrity, and will are all things I think go into a great heroine. It's that never say die attitude. It's continuing on, day after day, even when you've been defeated or feel all is lost. It's sacrifice, being willing to put your safety, your time, or your energy to helping someone else. Strength doesn't always have to be flashy or epic to have an impact. Strong heroines, to me, aren't necessarily the ones who always win, but the ones who keep going despite what life throws at them. Some of my favorite heroines: I loved Morgainne and Vivienne from THE MISTS OF AVALON. Cleopatra, not only the historical figure, but her as a character in THE MEMOIRS OF CLEOPATRA.

The Medusa legend is particularly dark, as are many (if not most) of the Greek myths. Why do you think mythology tends so much toward the macabre? 
Because often they're a reflection of human nature. Birth, death, hate, love, lust, envy... And the human experience, especially in ancient times, was fraught with dangers. The macabre was commonplace. Men carried clubs, axes, blades... we're talking close contact, intimate fighting. Health concerns like wounds, disease, childbirth, took lives regularly, and things like thunder, lightning, earth quakes, floods, they were all unknowns, all mysteries and as such attributed to gods. Myths tried to explain the unexplainable-why the sun rose every day, why the seasons came and went, why the mountains spewed fire. And they highlighted what it means to be human. Myths taught, and warned, and guided early mankind, too.

Do you think you'll work with mythology again in future series? 
Without a doubt. I cannot see myself writing without some mythological inspiration. Mythology is what first sparked my creative/storytelling mind as a child; it's always going to be a source to draw upon or be inspired by.

Thanks so much to Kelly for stopping by to answer a few questions, and to Fiktshun and Two Chicks on Books for putting together the Authors Are Rockstars Tour!

Myth and mayhem inhabit a richly reimagined New Orleans in this sequel to Darkness Becomes Her.After the epic graveyard battle at the end of Darkness Becomes Her, Ari and her friends know what they’re up against: Ari is facing the Medusa curse and is haunted by the image of what she will become. To make matters worse, the heinous goddess Athena has kidnapped young Violet and is threatening to destroy Ari.

Ari, along with the superhot Sebastian, is doing everything she can to learn more about Athena and to get Violet back. But the battle of good and evil is bigger than she realizes, and she’s about to be pulled into a world more horrific than she could ever imagine....

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Review: In Honor by Jessi Kirby

Release Date: May 8, 2012
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Simon & Schuster BFYR
Buy: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

A devastating loss leads to an unexpected road trip in this novel from the author of Moonglass, whose voice Sarah Dessen says “is fresh and wise, all at once.”

Hours after her brother’s military funeral, Honor opens the last letter Finn ever sent. In her grief, she interprets his note as a final request and spontaneously decides to go to California to fulfill it.

Honor gets as far as the driveway before running into Rusty, Finn’s best friend since third grade and his polar opposite. She hasn’t seen Rusty in ages, but it’s obvious he is as arrogant and stubborn as ever—not to mention drop-dead gorgeous. Despite Honor’s better judgment, the two set off together on a voyage from Texas to California. Along the way, they find small and sometimes surprising ways to ease their shared loss and honor Finn’s memory—but when shocking truths are revealed at the end of the road, will either of them be able to cope with the consequences?

In Honor by Jessi Kirby is a bittersweet look at family, loss and growing up. From the first page, Kirby powerfully evokes Honor's complete devastation in the wake of her brother's death. Without Finn, Honor is lost at sea, not knowing which way to turn. Even before readers really get to know the heroine, their hearts will break at the hopelessness of her situation -- as orphans, Finn was not only Honor's brother, but also her father figure and friend. Without him, she feels utterly alone. In a desperate attempt to find meaning in a senseless tragedy, Honor sets off on a cross-country road trip to fulfill Finn's final wishes. Unfortunately, Finn's estranged best friend Rusty is along for the ride -- drunken stupor and all.

It's hard to know what to do with Rusty. He's drunken and abrasive, crass and a bit of a jerk, intruding his own issues on Honor's grief. At times, readers will wish that Honor would call Rusty out on his attitude, but as Kirby gradually reveals their long and complicated history, they will begin to see that his brashness comes from a dark and painful place. It takes a while, but ultimately Rusty becomes a sympathetic and even charming character. Honor's voice is clear and strong, though readers may occasionally grow frustrated with her naiveté. Both Honor and Rusty have something to learn from each other, and their sparring keeps the tension high and takes In Honor beyond the traditional story of youthful grief. Honor has a lot of growing up to do, and she learns that lesson the hard way with the help of constant misadventures and Rusty's brutal honesty.

 The slight romance in the novel effectively represents the need to continue living even though a loved one is gone. However, I wish Honor didn't need two men to take care of her and set her on the path to maturity. While it makes sense in the context of her relationship with her brother, the gender dynamic of her relationship with Rusty is slightly uncomfortable. Ultimately, though, her trip across the country gives Honor new wisdom and leaves the reader hopeful that she will take control of her own life in the future.

By their very nature, road trip novels are episodic, but Kirby skillfully turns this series of events into a touching journey of discovery and growth. There are crushing lows and transcendent highs as Honor grapples with her grief and the realization that her brother had secrets of his own. The final twist of the tale will warm readers' hearts and make them question the nature of fate, casting the rest of the story in a poignant new light and giving Honor's journey profound meaning. True to form, Kirby takes overwhelming sadness and spins it into a strand of hope.


Disclosure: I received an ARC of this novel from the publisher for an honest review.

You may also like Moonglass by Jessi Kirby.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Launch Party & Giveaway: Unspent Time by Graham Parke

Unspent Time Launch Party

Get free books and win a Kindle Fire or a Kindle Touch

Warning: reading this novel may make you more attractive and elevate your random luck by about 9.332%*
(* These statements have not been evaluated by any person of consequence!)

From the award winning author of No Hope for Gomez! comes a collection of impossible tales. Permeating the cracks between the past and the present is the realm of Unspent Time; time that was allotted but never spent. This is where we find the stories that could have been true.

Such as the story of Kiala, whose caretaker disappears one day, leaving her as the sole Huntress to battle the giant octopi to feed her village. Or the revealing tale of Goki Feng Ho, the ancient Chinese art of decoding the meaning of car license plates. And the heartbreaking story of the man responsible for choosing the colors of the insides of your shoes. And letís not forget the story behind Unspent Time itself, the metaphysical ramifications of which will leave the scientific community feeling mostly indifferent about it for decades to come.

For the launch of the new novel I decided to discount it to $0.99 for today (PC and eBook), give away some exclusive content, and raffle off two Kindles. All entrants will get:

  • An exclusive spin-off novelette (not available for purchase anywhere!)
  • Making of Gomez: behind the scenes eBook
  • Signature for their paperback or kindle edition
  • Chance to win a Kindle Fire or a Kindle Touch

(Prizes can be traded for Amazon gift certificates if you already own them.)

Just email your receipt to nohopeforgomez@gmail.com to enter.

Each purchase counts, so stock up on birthday presents (for people you don't like that much, for instance) The discount ends today, but be sure to send the receipts no later than June 1st.

(Or order the books from any bookstore.)
Coupon code for today: ZB77D

And then get by tweeting about your purchase: 

Sound bites from Unspent Time:

ìI'm looking into my past lives. I'm convinced some of them still owe me money.

ìI'm very polite by nature, even the voices in my head let each other finish their sentences.

ìI didnít actually want to do it,î Kiala told the boy. The universe just kind of conspired to force me to make a fool of myself. It does that quite a lot, actually.

ìSadly, my socks are like snowflakes, no two are exactly alike.

Here's what reviewers had to say:

"A veritable page turner of nonstop laughs!" -- Reader Views

"An unputdownable read. a Coens Brothers' film in book form." -- BookReview.com

ìExtremely witty and clever writing.î -- California Chronicle

"A Party for your Brain!" -- Warren Baxter

Graham Parke is responsible for a number of technical publications and has recently patented a self-folding map. He has been described as both a humanitarian and a pathological liar. Convincing evidence to support either allegation has yet to be produced.


Thanks so much to Graham for stopping by! Leave your questions in the comments and Graham will stop by to answer them throughout the day!

You can also check out my review of Graham's previous novel No Hope For Gomez!

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