Tag: Author Interview

Author Interview & Book Review: Girl of Nightmares by Kendare Blake

Posted August 6, 2012 by Kimberly in Book Reviews, Interviews / 7 Comments

Title: Girl of Nightmares

Author: Kendare Blake

Publisher: Tor Teen/Macmillan

Publication Date: August 2012

Genre: Young Adult Horror

Series or Stand Alone: Series, Book Two

Synopsis can be found here.

My review of book one can be found here.
Go on. Read it. I’ll wait.

Back now?

Months after Anna Korlov disappeared, Cas Lowood still can’t get over her. She saved his life. She saved his soul, and sure she might have been under a curse that made her kill people in horrible ways, but you know what? Stuff happens. Don’t judge.

Flash to now and Cas is seeing Anna again, in dreams and hallucinations. Or are they? Cas doens’t know what to do but he has a very bad feeling that Anna is somewhere she’s not supposed to be. And she needs his help. But how do you rescue your girlfriend in hell?

You may have, and by may have I mean should have, already read my review of Anna Dressed In Blood. Therefore, you will already know that I thought it was fan-freaking-tastic.
Obviously I was chomping at the bit to get my hands on Girl of Nightmares. And it did not disappoint.

Oh, Cas, I missed you so.

Cas is back with all of his hilarious inner monologues, clever observations and bravery. He’s a little more damaged this time around and normal high school girls just aren’t very interesting to him. I mean, he did sorta fall in love with a princess ghost of destruction. And I mean that in the most loving way possible.
As always, best friend Thomas is there to lend some comedy and grounding. Cas and Thomas’s relationship really make this book for me. They both are going through some tough times and naturally lean on each other for some support. It’s easy to see why they’re best friends.
And of course, who could forget Carmel. Queen Bee by day and ghost hunter by night, she’s funny, complicated and overall adds a nice strong female touch to this boy group.

The story warms up and doesn’t let you go. Every time Anna appears, I died a little. As soon as you see her, you know Cas has to save her. You want Cas to save her. No matter what.
And that is the problem, my friend.
Because for Cas to save Anna…

Ooooh, you thought I was going to tell you! I don’t think so.

A wonderful book filled with adventure, voodoo, blood, gore and romance. Yes, all those things.
Go pick up Girl of Nightmares and Anna Dressed In Blood.
Leave the light on.

Rating 10, One of The Best
*I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.

Author Interview with Kendare Blake!

Thank you for stopping by Kendare!

What inspired you to become a writer?

Hmm. Well, reading, mostly. I read so much as a kid, and eventually found the worlds in the story WAY more interesting than the world we live in. I loved that writing gives you a chance to explore things.

What was the last book you read? 

The last book I read was…We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson. It’s a flippin masterpiece.

What sparked the idea for “Anna Dressed In Blood”? 

An urge to play Silent Hill. And the fear that if I played Silent Hill by myself I would cry like a tiny baby and break my TV. So I wrote Anna instead.

And when you wrote it, did you already know you would write a sequel? 

I didn’t. Well, that’s not true. I suspected all along that there might be another book’s worth of story to tell. But when Anna started to go to editor’s boards at publishers, most of them saw series potential, so I had to start really thinking about it, all the way out to expanding to a trilogy. Which I’m glad it didn’t do.

Cas’s voice is so unique, filled with dark humor, smart-ass remarks and clever observations. He is a multi-layered character and it’s awesome to have him back! How did you create Cas’s distinct voice and how do you feel he has changed from book one to book two? 

Oh! Cas would appreciate you saying such nice things! His voice was just his voice, from the start. From book one to book two, he goes through a lot. The loner slowly leaks out of him. And so does the sense that he has to complete some big journey. At the start of Girl of Nightmares, he doesn’t quite know what he’s supposed to do, now that Anna’s gone, and taken the Obeahman with her.

What are you favorite things about Anna? Do you believe in ghosts? 

I love that Anna is strong, not only in fists but in mind. As for ghosts, yes, I believe in them. Because why not? It’s more fun. Also, sad, if you think about it, but let’s stick to fun. In fact, here’s my most recent, super lame ghost story: 
Driving in my car with the windows rolled up. Hear a sound of something moving across the upholstery in the back right passenger seat. Loud sound. Loud enough to make me jump. But the back seat was empty. WOOOOOOOO!

Carmel and Thomas are loyal and trusted sidekicks. Have you ever thought of doing a spin off series involving Thomas and his witch heritage?

Oh my god, that would be so nerdy and fun! The shenanigans Thomas would get up to! I really love that boy. But no, I’d never thought of it before. Thanks!

How do you like your potato? 

Whipped, with butter, or maybe mayonnaise. Don’t judge me. Mayonnaise and I have a very special relationship.

If you weren’t a writer, what would you be? 

Institutionalized? No. I’m not sure. I was just thinking about what I might like to do after the writing dries up or I’m booted out of the industry. And I have no idea. Scary. I’d probably go back to school for something.

Batman or Superman? 

Batman. The entire Justice League exists just to prove that Batman can beat Superman. And that he’s cooler. Although, the Man of Steel teaser looks pretty cool.

Do you have a favorite literary character? 

Hector of Troy jumps to mind, but probably only because I’m currently writing about him. I also love Jane Eyre, Patrick Bateman, Morgaine, and Garfield cat.

What do you do when you’re not writing? Besides ghost hunting? 

Ha. I wish I ghost hunted. Sadly, I lack the tools. When I’m not writing, I’m reading. Or, eating. Often eating. Or hiking! Or playing really bad tennis. Hanging with my needy catsons.

Is this the end of Anna and Cas’s story? 

Yes. I think it is. And yet, I like to think it’s not…somewhere.

What are you working on now? 

My new series, releasing next August. ANTIGODDESS. I think we might call it The Goddess War Trilogy, or something. I’m doing edits now. It’s about dying greek gods and reincarnated heroes. Present day. Cassandra of Troy and Athena, pitted against each other, and things worse than each other. Lots of blood. Also love stories. Why not?

Thanks again for stopping by Kendare!
You can find Kendare here or follow her on Twitter at @KendareBlake

Posted August 6, 2012 by Kimberly in Book Reviews, Interviews / 7 Comments

Author Interview and Book Review: The Prophet by Amanda Stevens

Posted April 23, 2012 by Kimberly in Book Reviews, Interviews / 7 Comments

Title: The Prophet

Author: Amanda Stevens

Publisher: Harlequinn Mira

Publication Date: April 2012

Genre: Adult Mystery/Paranormal Fiction

Series or Stand Alone: Series, Book Three

Synopsis can be found here.
NetGalley review.

Amelia Gray returns to Charleston after an ordeal at Asher Falls. Being back in her town, she is ready to start work again and continue on with her life. But a ghost of a murdered cop has other plans for her. As she begins her investigation, all ties lead back to her cop, John Devlin. The man she loved and left behind. The man with his ghosts, ghosts who won’t leave Amelia alone.

A fantastic book to the Graveyard Queen series.
While books one and two read more like ghost stories, this one veered more into detective story drama. Make no mistake, the ghosts are still there and still as dangerous and down right scary as the previous installments. But this book had a different feeling, not at all unwelcome.
Amelia is investigating the murder of a copy, and in the process, investigating Devlin too. Who is he really? And how will the information she uncover change her relationship with him?

I love the third book. Amelia is still strong and clever character, real and complex. Her range of emotions is every bit believable. I loved her mixed emotions towards Devlin, this other woman who keeps showing up, her fear of uncovering the truth and what that means. The answer is right there, just outside her grasp until the very end, which makes this a very enjoyable story. 
And yes, dear readers. Our friend Devlin is back in all of his complicated, tortured glory. You may have missed him in Book Two, I know I did. His character goes through a lot in this story and by the end, I was wishing book four was available already just to see how Devlin is doing.
The storyline has some great surprises. I don’t want to give anything away, so I’ll leave it at that. But I want to say everyone has some greyness to them, which makes these characters and their story so much more interesting.

I devoured this book. Do yourself a favor, buy the series. Sit down with some tea and a blanket and start
reading. Oh, and clear your weekend. You’ll be glad you did.

Rating 10 One of The Best

 Author Interview with Amanda Stevens!

Thank you Amanda for stopping by!

What inspired you to become a writer?
Not a what but a who. Mary Stewart. I’ve always loved her romantic suspense novels and have read them so many times I can recite first lines by heart, lol. I credit her for giving me a love of visual writing. Her imagery is breathtaking, her descriptions so vivid and lush it’s like being transported to Crete or Delphi or Damascus.
A few years ago, my writing took a distinct turn into what I call creepy Southern fiction. It’s no accident this change came about after I saw The Gift, a paranormal thriller starring Cate Blanchett. The movie made such an impression that I decided right then and there I wanted to delve more deeply into my own Southern roots for inspiration.
There is also a book from my childhood that had a major impact on my writing—The Diamond in the Window, my first foray into paranormal fantasy and I loved it. 

What was the last book you read?
Die for Me, a young adult by Amy Plum about a group of revenants in Paris. Currently, I’m reading Practical Magical by Alice Hoffman. I never read it before and I’m a little taken aback at how different it is from the movie. Although that’s almost always the case so I don’t know why I’m surprised.

What sparked the idea for The Graveyard Queen series?
I really, really wanted to try my hand at a paranormal mystery/romance and I wanted my protagonist to have an unusual occupation, one that would be paramount to the story. So I Googled strange jobs and up popped cemetery restorer. It was the perfect vocation for the character I had in mind and the tagline—Every cemetery has a story; every grave, its secrets—practically wrote itself.

Amelia Gray is a cemetery restorer. I loved all of the shop talk! What kind of research did you do to become familiar with this line of work?
Exploring old cemeteries has always been a passion of mine so you can imagine how much fun I have researching these stories. Plus, there’s a wealth of information about cemetery restoration and graveyard folklore literally at my fingertips on the Internet. The deeper I dug (pun intended), the more fascinated I became with headstone symbolism and burial traditions, and I knew I had to put all of that to good use in the series.

Amelia also sees ghosts. I loved the Southern setting of your novels, the old ghost cities and the Gothic tone. How did you decide to set the series in Charleston? And did you talk to or interview any people who claim they can see ghosts? You know, for research purposes?
As I mentioned earlier, I made a conscious decision to return to my Southern roots in my writing and the setting just seemed a natural fit for these stories. I’d visited Charleston a few years ago and remembered it having some of the most beautiful graveyards I’d ever seen. I mention in The Restorer that if New Orleans is midnight, Charleston is twilight, all soft and misty and mysterious. The perfect place for ghosts.
I talked to several people who’ve had paranormal experiences, including a childhood friend. One incident she recounted freaked me out so thoroughly that it inspired one of the creepier scenes in The Kingdom.

John Devlin, dreamy haunted cop and love interest, appears again for The Prophet. In fact, the third book is mainly based around his past. How did you envision his character at the beginning and has he changed in your mind from The Restorer, Book One?
He really hasn’t changed from my initial vision at all! He and Amelia were firmly ingrained in my head at the very start of the series, and I knew their back stories—hers is revealed in The Kingdom, his in The Prophet—before I ever wrote a word. But there are still more secrets to be revealed for both of them, so stay tuned!

All of the characters in your series are well developed and may I say, a little bit haunting. Who is your favorite character to write?
Amelia. I definitely relate to her, although I don’t see ghosts, lol. But I’m a bit of a loner and I tend to live inside my own head. I also really like Dr. Shaw. That man has some deep, dark secrets and I can’t wait to revisit him in Book Four.

What was the biggest challenge you faced while writing your novels?
I’d never written a continuing character series before so the challenge was in keeping the stories fresh and the characters interesting and evolving. That’s why I took Amelia out of Charleston for the second book. I needed to shake things up a bit.

How do you like your potato?
Mashed with garlic and chives. Southern comfort food. Yum.

Do you have a favorite literary character?
Oh, that’s a great question! It’s hard to beat Sherlock Holmes for a mystery lover like me. He’s just so clever and moody and eccentric! Bohemian, according to Watson (another great character, btw).
Years and years ago I read a fantasy series called The Eternal Champion by Michael Moorcock. The hero was an albino warrior named Elric. Loved him.
This may be cheating a bit since I’m basing my admiration on the character in the movie rather than the film novelization, but Ellen Ripley from Alien is one of the strongest protagonists ever created, a real female hero rather than a heroine.

What do you do when you’re not writing?
Read, watch movies, play on the Internet, go for long walks. I like to travel, too, when time permits. I have a road trip to Marfa, Texas, coming up which will kick off the research for a new series.

Will there be more Graveyard Queen stories with Devlin and Amelia? (I hope so!)
Yes! I’ve sold three more books in the series. I’m so excited!

And what new books are you working on now?
I’m currently working on the fourth Graveyard Queen story tentatively titled, The Keeper. I’m also plotting the first book of my new YA series for Harlequin Teen.

And what is the one question you always wish someone would ask you, but haven’t yet? (Answer too please!)
If I could go back and start my life over, what would I be. I posed that question on my Facebook wall once and the responses were so interesting, but no one asked me, lol. The answer is…I’d work for the FBI. Not as a profiler or field agent, but as one of those geeky researchers that hole up in windowless cubicles pouring over mountains of data looking for the most obscure clue that would break the case. 

Thanks for stopping by Amanda!
Looking forward to reading more Graveyard Queen books and your new YA series!

You can visit Amanda Stevens here or follow her on Twitter at @AmandaStevensTX

Posted April 23, 2012 by Kimberly in Book Reviews, Interviews / 7 Comments

Author Interview & Book Review: Girl Unmoored by Jennifer Gooch Hummer

Posted March 15, 2012 by Kimberly in Book Reviews, Interviews / 0 Comments

Title: Girl Unmoored

Author: Jennifer Gooch Hummer

Publisher: Fiction Studio Books

Publication Date: March 2012

Genre: Young Adult Fiction

Series or Stand Alone: Stand Alone

Synopsis can be found here.
This book was given to me for free in exchange for an honest review.

Things are not going well for Apron. Her mother has passed away and she is left with her good intentioned but absentee father. Her soon to be step mother is pregnant and her best friend has started hanging out with someone new.
But then she meets him- her new friend Mike who owns the local florist shop. And as this new world unfolds, Apron awakens.

This is Hummer’s debut novel and it is all sweet, sad and funny in equal measure. Apron is a thoughtful girl. She sees past what people want her to see to who they truly are. The world and time Apron is growing up in is different to today, and while she deals with all the usual growing pains, she’s also faced with the fear and uncertainty that is the mid-1980s.
I love Apron’s warmth, openness and guts. She is young, but mature beyond her years.

Mike and Mike’s boyfriend Chad are a fun, loving pair. The dialogue between them flows easily over the page. Apron seems to genuinely belong with this group, easy and honest conversation and a warmth that she doesn’t have at home.

In contrast, her stepmom M is hard to stomach. Everyone can relate to knowing the darker side of a person when their loved ones or friends can’t see it, and this bad relationship hits all the cringe worthy marks. I liked Apron’s dad through the whole book because even though he is clueless, absent and a little neglectful, I don’t think he is trying to be. 

I really enjoyed Girl Unmoored. It’s a heart warming debut novel. Pick it up and share Apron’s adventures.

Author Interview with Jennifer Gooch Hummer!

Thanks for stopping by Jennifer!

What inspired you to become a writer?
When I was seven years old, minding my own business, brushing my teeth, the girl in the mirror smirked back at me and said, “You’re going to be a writer.” No way, I told that girl. Being a writer was about the least exciting thing I could think of. Writers were boring and old and not famous. No way was I going to become one, and give up my dream of becoming a Professional Avon Lady. But by fourth grade I knew she was right.

What was the last book you read?
The Fault In Our Stars by John Green. This is a tremendous book. Just brilliant. The dialogue is an art form unto itself. I needed a window-washer for my glasses.

What sparked the idea for Girl Unmoored? And who came up with the title?
My character, Apron, knocked on my head in fifth grade. I had never heard the name “Apron” before, but suddenly there she was. I started a book called “A Girl Named Apron” which unfortunately had no plot. So I abandoned it. But Apron stayed with me all these years, and when I met my friend Mike, I finally found her story. My publisher didn’t like the title, “A Girl Named Apron,” so after coming up with about ten thousand others, I finally landed on Girl Unmoored. Apron lives in Maine and much of the setting includes sailboats. “Unmoored” is a sailing term, of course, and can imply being freed or lost. Apron is both.

Apron is such a complex character- so young, but more aware than most of the adult around her. What was it like writing Apron’s voice?
It was like slipping into your most favorite jeans. Apron’s voice and the way she interprets the world was the easiest part of the book. Plot, pace, conflict; these were more challenging. Girl Unmoored was a hundred and fifty pages longer at one point because I could put Apron in any situation and remain true to her voice. It was hard to cut these beloved scenes, but important to keep the pace strong.

Why did you choose to set your story in 1985?
In 1984 the AIDS virus was discovered, and in 1985 Rock Hudson, the old time hunky movie star, died of it. This single event triggered world wide recognition of the virus. Even if you were too young to know much about Rock Hudson, as I was, it defined an era. If a movie star could get AIDS, anyone could. Plus, the eighties were just the best. Big hair (everyone), lacey underwear (Madonna), Cool time-warp cars (Back to the Future). It’s just a fun time to write about. 

I love a good villain and M, Apron’s step-mother, fits the bill perfectly. How did you develop her character?
M is horrible. She’s conniving and self-serving and desperate to stay in America. The first rule about creating the villain as that they should never think of themselves as the villain. If that happens, you’ve lost a lot of the conflict. M is embittered by the fact that she cannot remain in America, and will be forced to return to Brazil when her time as a nurse’s aide is up. Her hatred toward Apron is really just jealousy, as all hate usually is. My job was to remain true to M’s desperate goal. She thought she was capable of doing anything to stay in America. In the end, however, she proves herself wrong.

How do you like your potato?
I don’t want the potato people coming after me…. but I don’t like potatoes. I know everyone else in the world does, but I’ve just never liked them. Not even French Fries. Now onion rings, that’s a different story.

If you weren’t a writer, what would you be?
A designer. Fashion, homes, websites – I’d be designing some or all of these. To me, creating beautiful things is the greatest thing in the world. Families can be beautiful too, and hopefully I’ve created one of those.

Do you have a favorite literary character?
Delores Price from Wally Lamb’s She’s Come Undone is one of the best fictional characters ever. And Enzo, the dog from The Art of Racing in the Rain, will nearly destroy your tear ducts.

What do you do when you’re not writing?
Take care of my daughters, husband, and overly attached dog. I also swim on a swim team, go to a (Ballet) barre class, and make jewelry. I started a little jewelry line a couple of years ago, which keeps me busier than I would have thought. I also spend a good part of every evening trying to barter my way out of making dinner. I’ve even tried paying my daughters to forgo dinner, but they never take it. They like to watch me suffer.

What is one thing you would tell aspiring writers?
Read Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. It’s the best book on writing ever. The most important thing I learned from that book was to give myself permission to write horribly. So horribly you wouldn’t read it to your dog. Because inside the horribleness of those sentences, is the tiny sparkling of a voice. And sooner or later if you keep showing up at the page, you’re going to catch it.

Congrats on your debut book!

What future projects are you working on right now?
I have two novels that I am getting ready to submit. One is a YA Fantasy and the other is more of a Chick Lit. I’ve put both books on the back burner while getting Girl Unmoored ready. So I’m looking forward to getting back to them. My characters are looking forward to it too. A few of them have been left hanging on a cliff.

Thank you for stopping by!
You can visit Jennifer here or follow her on twitter @JGoochHummer

Posted March 15, 2012 by Kimberly in Book Reviews, Interviews / 0 Comments

Author Interview & Book Review: The Fourth Stall Part II by Chris Rylander

Posted March 12, 2012 by Kimberly in Book Reviews, Interviews / 3 Comments

Title: The Fourth Stall, Part II

Author: Chris Rylander

Publisher: Walden Pond Press

Publication Date: February 2012

Genre: Middle School Fiction

Series or Stand Alone: Series, Book Two

Synopsis can be found here.
This book was given to me from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

And… they’re back!

Mac and Vince are at it again, running their business in the Fourth Stall. What can they say? They’re successful business men. You have a problem? Mac and Vince will help you solve it, all for a tiny fee.
And boy, do they have some problems to solve this time around.
Trixie Von Parkway, yes you read that right, is being terrorized by the new science teacher and has hired Mac and Vince to help her. But as they dig deeper, not everything is adding up. Thrown onto of that some suspicious lunch choices and a new school administrator out to get them and you have a fun adventure story full of twists and turns!

It is the second book in the series, but don’t worry about it. You can jump right into the adventure without worrying about catching up. You should read The Fourth Stall, but you don’t need to read it first to enjoy this latest adventure.

Mac’s voice is fantastic. I love his sense of humour, his observations and his undying trust with his best friend Vince. I love Vince. It’s so refreshing to find a story about a strong, solid friendship.  They’re a pair, in business and their undying love for The Cubs, and they have to stay strong together to dodge all the crazy obstacles that are being thrown their way.
All of the secondary characters, are fresh and hilarious. I love them all.

Best of all, this book is funny. Within the first ten pages, I was laughing out loud. (The wary customers at my local cafe probably thought I was nuts.)

Part crime thriller, film noir and Godfather all rolled into one, The Fourth Stall Part II grabs your hand and doesn’t let you go.

Buy it for your middle grade nephew, or your niece, or neighborhood kid, or yourself, or you know, anyone who can read.
You get the picture.

Rating 9 Ridiculously Awesome like Cookies and Ice Cream

 Author Interview with Chris Rylander!

Thanks Chris for stopping by!
What inspired you to become a writer?
It was mostly my love of books as a kid.  I’ve always loved movies, books, and video games.  I love taking part in stories, and so what better way to do that than to create the stories myself.
What was the last book you read?
The last book I read was GOING NOWHERE FASTER by Sean Beaudoin.  It’s a YA novel that is so funny, smart and just flat out awesome.  It’s one of those books that I just fell in love with from the first chapter and it only got better from there.
What sparked the idea for The Fourth Stall? When you were writing The Fourth Stall, did you already have a story planned for The Fourth Stall part II?
I just thought that the world of organized crime the way it’s portrayed in movies, could really coincide with the world of school, structurally.  Plus, I just thought a mob book with kids in school could be really funny and action-packed.  And, kids books with noirish voices is just a fun concept.  I actually had not even intended to write a sequel while writing the first one, so I definitely did not have that story already planned.
Mac’s luck seems to be running out! But even during tough times, Mac and Vince keep their sense of humor. What are you favorite things about Mac and Vince?
I think it’s their sense of humor, like you said.  Also how close they are.  They know what each other is thinking without needing to even say anything.  Plus, I really like how in some sense they exploit kids and like to make money off of them, but deep down they really are good guys.  They hate to see other kids suffer.
One of the best parts about this series is the relationship between Mac and Vince. Their friendship is so warm, filled with highs and lows and, most of all, trust. Did you base them on real friends of yours? (Perhaps another Cubs fan?)
Not really.  There are certainly elements of my real friends in the characters, especially with Vince, but they’re mostly fictional in the end.  My best friend and only friend who is also a Cubs fan is my wife, so I definitely know what’s it like to suffer through being a Cubs fan friend with your best friend, though.  And misery does love company, that’s why being a Cubs fan really is kind of like being a part of a national fraternity. 
How do you like your potato?
I love all forms of potato.  Preferably fresh, especially if fried, and with either bacon or chorizo and cheese.  Waffle and curly varieties are also great.  But my all-time favorite preparation is probably latkes. 
If you weren’t a writer, what would you be?
Realistically, I’d probably be toiling away in a depressing gray cubicle.  But one of my dream jobs has always been to be a statistician for ESPN or professional sports team.  Or just get to do anything that involves compiling or analyzing sports stats.  I’m a statistics and sports freak.  Also, I’ve always wanted to be a filmmaker, but I doubt I’m organized enough to do that very well.
Do you have a favorite literary character?
Hmm… I’m not sure that I do.  I hate to say this, but if I HAD to pick, it might actually be Ignatius Reilly.
What do you do when you’re not writing?
Playing video games, hanging out with friends and my wife, watching movies and TV, travelling, golfing, eating, pushing people to the ground at my local Target store, starting fires, collecting ants to distribute into people’s houses, you know, normal stuff.
What is one thing you would tell aspiring writers?
Don’t ever let rejections get you down.  I mean, there are people out there who hated the Harry Potter books for some reason.  No story is ever universally loved.  It’s all subjective, so never, ever let it get you down.  And, most importantly, don’t give up.  The only people who don’t find happiness in writing are the ones who quit.
The ending is quite the cliffhanger! What can you tell us about Mac’s next adventure?
Well, I don’t want to give away too much, but all I can say expect a lot of crazy things to happen.  And like usual, not everything will be as it seems.

Thanks again for stopping by!
You can visit Chris at his website here or follow him via twitter @Chris_Rylander

Posted March 12, 2012 by Kimberly in Book Reviews, Interviews / 3 Comments

Author Interview and Book Review: The One That I Want by Jennifer Echols

Posted March 5, 2012 by Kimberly in Book Reviews, Interviews / 1 Comment

Title: The One That I Want

Author: Jennifer Echols

Publisher: Simon and Schuster

Publication Date: February 2012

Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Fiction

Series or Stand Alone: Stand Alone

Synopsis can be found here.

Gemma is shocked to find a star football player flirting with her. Sure, he’s on the rival team, but Max has a spark to him Gemma can’t ignore. Then, Gemma’s best friend Addison tells Gemma Max has asked her out. Gemma can’t believe it, wasn’t Max flirting with her?
Wires are crossed and jealousies are revealed as Gemma and Max confront their feelings, and their relationships.

It is a love story, a comedy of errors. But the main relationship that took center stage for me was Addison and Gemma’s friendship. They are definite friend-emies. Through most of the story, I was enraged at Addison’s treatment of Gemma. However, I was even more upset by how Gemma allowed herself to be bullied. We’ve all been there- in a relationship that wasn’t healthy for us, but had become habit. The back handed compliments, the fake sugared smile that said “Only kidding!”, though not really.

Addison is obviously a mean girl. I would have liked to see more from her side of things, instead of just general catty and bitchiness. She seems like she has more layers that are waiting to be explored.
Finally, Max. Max, a Japanese kicker, is vulnerable, sensitive and a fish out of water. A star football player can be picked on and bullied too. I enjoyed his conversations with Gemma, the tension, the opening up. And thank you Ms. Echols for including a multi-racial relationship. The depth and identities of Gemma and Max become more layered given their backgrounds.

Max has his own problems too, namely with his friend Carter, who starts to date Gemma. I loved Max’s observations of people and his way of saying things that got him into trouble. A perfect compliment to the girl with purple hair!

The story is about love, love for Max someone she can’t have. Love for her best friend, and the complications in that friendship. Most of all, love for Gemma herself. It’s her book and her journey. From her relationship with food, to her mother to building confidence to go after what she really wants in life.

Author Interview with Jennifer Echols! Thanks for coming by!

What inspired you to become a writer?
My grandmother was a writer, so it never occurred to me that this was something I couldn’t do. Her work was never published, but I always thought that was because she gave up too soon.
What was the last book you read?
CLOSE ENOUGH TO TOUCH, the first book in a new adult romance series by my critique partner, Victoria Dahl. It’s coming out in the fall.
What sparked the idea for The One That I Want?
For a long time, I’ve been kicking around the idea of a girl stuck on series of double dates and liking the wrong guy.
Gemma goes through a huge transformation before the book opens, having lost 50 pounds. How did you picture Gemma before she lost her weight?
She’s a little heavy for her frame, is obviously self-conscious about it, and is compensating by drawing attention to the outlandish stuff she’s wearing. I see this girl out in the world a lot.
Addison is a friend-emy to Gemma in an unhealthy relationship continuing out of habit. How did you create Addison’s character? She reminds me of some girls I used to know!
I have a lot of experience going to school with this mean girl. I have always said I will never write a mean girl book because that episode of my life was so miserable that I do not want to re-live it. This book is probably as close as I will get.
What was the biggest challenge you faced while writing this book?
I was born in Atlanta and I lived there a few years ago, but I’ve never lived in the area where the book takes place. I drove over there, rode the MARTA around, and walked everywhere the characters walk so I could get it right.
How do you like your potato?
I will take my potato pretty much any way except fried with some sort of spicy batter, which unfortunately has been a trend for the past decade. My favorite is probably the classic Golden Crinkle with lots of ketchup.
If you weren’t a writer, what would you be?
Until last April, I was a copyeditor. I Ioved that job with all my heart.
Do you have a favorite literary character?
Mr. Knightley in Emma by Jane Austen.
What do you do when you’re not writing?
I run a lot. I just ran my first marathon on February 12!
What is one thing you would tell aspiring writers?
Write the book you want to read!
Do you buy a book based on its cover?
No way. I have been around the block too many times. I know that authors–at least ones published by the big New York publishers–have almost nothing to do with the cover, and the cover might have almost nothing to do with the book. I buy books because I enjoyed another book by the same author, or a friend recommended it, or everybody is talking about it on Twitter.
Having said that, I understand that a lot of people DO buy a book based on the cover. I do everything I can to make sure that the covers of my own books will be appealing to the people who probably want to read them, and that the covers reflect what’s going on in the story, because I think that matters to my readers. Sometimes I’m successful and sometimes I’m not, but in general I think I’ve been very lucky when it comes to my covers.
What is your next book called and when is it coming out?
My hardcover debut, SUCH A RUSH, will be published on July 10. I’m very excited!

 You can find Jennifer here or follow her via twitter! @JenniferEchols

Posted March 5, 2012 by Kimberly in Book Reviews, Interviews / 1 Comment

Author Interview & Book Review: The Agency: The Traitor In The Tunnel by Y.S. Lee

Posted February 23, 2012 by Kimberly in Book Reviews, Interviews / 4 Comments

Title: The Agency: The Traitor In The Tunnel

Author: Y.S. Lee

Publisher: Candlewick Press

Publication Date: February 2012

Genre: Young Adult Historical Fiction

Series or Stand Alone: Series, Book Three

Synopsis can be found here.
Netgalley review.

Mary Quinn is back and surrounded my another fantastic mystery! This time, she a parlour maid at Buckingham Palace, investigating a series of thefts that have occurred right under the Queen’s nose!
But while she’s there, an even bigger mystery is placed at her feet. And she must do everything she can to solve it. More than one life is at stake, and Mary may have a very personal relationship to the suspect…

One of my favorite YA series is back and let me tell you, I am so happy to see Mary and company again! The layers and layers of mystery are delicately laid over this well written story. Mary has to juggle more than one case, all while working undercover. Only her mentors at the Agency know where she is, who she really is.
That is, until Easton Engineering take on a project that brings her beloved James Easton right to the Palace door! Or, uh, to the Palace’s underground tunnels!

As the story gains speed, it was impossible for me to put it down. So many questions needed answering and as Mary delved deeper into the Palace, she came across more than one threat. Lee has done a beautiful job at creating real tension and danger to Mary without it seeming sensational or unrealistic. Mary uses her wits to get her out of these situations, one of my favorite things about the detective.

The encounters between Mary and James made my heart smile, swoon, break and do it all over again. Their relationship is far from perfect, but they balance each other out, each clever, smart and stubborn in their own ways, driving the other mad with admiration, love and passion. A perfect match I say! Bravo to Lee for creating James and Mary, a couple who push and push each other, making their partner a better person. This is a healthy, strong relationship you will want to root for.

If you haven’t read the other Agency books, what are you waiting for? It’s one of the best underrated series. Everyone should be reading them!

And as for this third installment, you can pick it up without reading the first two. Go on. A classic mystery awaits!

Rating 10 One of The Best

Author Interview with Y.S. Lee!

Thank you so much for stopping by! 

What inspired you to become a writer?
I’ve always been obsessed with words and stories. But growing up, I never thought seriously about becoming a writer: it seemed too impossible even to aim for, so I settled for academia (I was going to be an English professor) as the next best thing. As I finished my PhD, though, I realized that I didn’t want to be an academic. It felt like my last chance to try writing fiction before I had to choose another career. So I sat down and wrote the novel that became the first Agency novel, A Spy in the House.

What was the last book you read?
The Chinese Maze Murders, by Robert van Gulik – an old-school mystery written in the style of classical Chinese detective fiction.

What sparked the idea of your books?
I knew I wanted to write about Victorian London and was especially interested in exploring it from the perspective of a young, poor, rebellious girl. Once I had my setting and my main character, things unfolded very quickly. I’d read about Lascars (Asian sailors) who ended up settling in England and marrying white English women, and I began to wonder about the families of these mixed-race couples. I was also distressed by the typical fate of a poor girl who didn’t have much education. (If she was good and meek, she might find work as a housemaid or in a factory. She had a high chance of dying young, either of malnutrition, disease, or a childbirth-related illness.) Creating the Agency, a super-secret corps of female spies, was a kind of antidote, or counter-argument, to the depressing realities of life in Victorian London.

You have a PhD in Victorian literature and culture. Is that why you chose the setting and time for your novel to be in the Victorian era?
Absolutely. I was doing a lot of research into nineteenth-century politics and culture and found that I wanted to learn more about the daily lives of the Victorians – how they ate and bathed and amused themselves. These things had no place in my dissertation, and I wanted to find a home for them. I chose the setting first; the mystery element came later. I tend to be inspired by particular events in history – for example, I knew that the Great Stink of 1858 just had to be the backdrop for A Spy in the House – and then fit the rest of the story around them.

James and Mary have real chemistry together. The banter back and forth is equally charming and real. Are their scenes together your favorite to write?
Thank you! Yes, you guessed it – I love, love, love writing dialogue between Mary and James. It’s like dessert. Sometimes, I use it like an incentive: if I write a certain amount of something else, I get to write a big chunk of Mary’s and James’s next conversation.

What was the biggest challenge writing your novel?
For each novel I’ve written, I’ve become sick of it when two-thirds of the way through the first draft. The story seems dull, the premise ridiculous, the characters wooden. Pushing through that slump and finishing a full draft is the hardest part, for me.

How do you like your potato?
French-fried! Skinny, very crisp, nicely browned, with plenty of salt, please. (No, I’m not picky. Why do you ask?)

If you weren’t a writer, what would you be?
Ooh, this is tough. I think I’d still be a writer, but an unpublished, aspiring one with a day job (any day job) that kept body and soul together.

Do you have a favorite literary character?
I have so many! My favourite detective is Peter Wimsey; my favourite Austen heroine is (of course) Elizabeth Bennet; my favourite bossy, intrepid, neo-Victorian dame is Amelia Peabody Emerson.

What do you do when you’re not writing?
At the moment, I mostly wrangle small children and steal time to read. At other stages of my life, however, I’ve been passionate about yoga, baking, crafting, and community politics. I plan to find my way back to all these things one day!

What is one thing you would tell aspiring writers?
You have to be a reader before you can be a writer. Read widely and deeply, and remember to leave your comfort zone.

What is your next book about and when is it coming out? My next book is the fourth and final Mary Quinn novel, called Rivals in the City. It’s set just a few months after Traitor and in it, we’ll meet an all-too-familiar villain, as well as someone with a claim on Mary’s life and family. I’m still writing it, so there’s no official pub date yet. But I’ll keep you updated at my blog! 

Thank you again for stopping by Y.S. Lee!
You can visit Y.S. Lee here or follow her on twitter @yinglee

Posted February 23, 2012 by Kimberly in Book Reviews, Interviews / 4 Comments

Author Interview & Book Review: Jessica Rules the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey

Posted January 16, 2012 by Kimberly in Book Reviews, Interviews / 4 Comments

Title: Jessica Rules the Dark Side

Author: Beth Fantaskey

Publisher: Harcourt

Publication Date: January 2012

Genre: Young Adult Paranomal Romance

Series or Stand Alone: Series, Book Two

Synopsis can be found here.


If you haven’t read  Jessica’s Guide to Dating On The Dark Side, then you are missing out. It’s one of my favorite YA books. I mean, I have it on Kindle and Hardcover. Yeah. That’s right.

But ok, you haven’t read it and you’re wondering- Can I just dive into book two?

The answer my dear vampire loving friends is- YES!

Jessica Rules picks up a little after where book one left off. 
(I recommend going to Beth Fantaskey’s website where you can read about Lucius and Jessica’s wedding! It’s a fun story, giving you just a taste of the characters and will definitely make you want more.)

Jessica is thrown into princess-dom, with her deadly handsome, and just plain deadly, new husband in tow. Lucius is used to navigating these dangerous waters, but Jessica isn’t and finds herself out of place. Is she really ready to rule? She doesn’t think so and then the unthinkable happens. Lucius is imprisoned and Jessica is forced to not only rule without him, but build his defense when he goes to trial!

Lucky for Jess, her best friend Mindy is in town to help. And a certain gorgeous Italian vampire cousin of Lucius’s, named Raniero, also shows up. Who may have some history with Mindy. Just sayin’.

Lucius is, as always, delicious, devoted and dark. His lively sense of humor doesn’t falter through this book, even in the most dire of circumstances. Since the beginning, Jessica’s journey has been filled with challenges, both from outside sources and herself. It was satisfying to see her transformation in this book.  
Raniero’s past and character is seeped in mystery. Who really is Raniero? Does he have alterior motives? Watching Raniero’s character unfold is great fun. That lazy, peaceful surfer may have a dark side. And Mindy? I really love Mindy’s chapters. She’s funny, smart, clever, everything a best friend should be! And her thought process seems eerily familiar…

Fantaskey does a wonderful job juggling the four narrators. So much character insight is gained from reading Raniero’s and Lucius’s emails.  Raniero’s voice is so spot on, I kept thinking – I know this guy. Mindy’s voice is very different from Jessica’s and that makes her a welcomed comic relief. The dialogue between them is effortless. It’s no wonder her and Jessica are best friends!

The mystery? Yes, treachery is afoot! You’ll have to read more to find out!

So, if you haven’t read the first Jessica’s Guide, (GO. READ. NOW!) you should.
And pick up Jessica Rules! Because you won’t want to stop!

Author Interview with Beth Fantaskey!

What inspired you to become a writer? 
The simple need to feed, clothe and house myself!   When I graduated from college, I had no job prospects, so when a friend mentioned that a public relations office was hiring writers, I applied.  When I turned in my writing sample, the man who would become my boss said, “You know you’re a writer, right?”  I got hired on the spot, and that’s what I’ve done ever since – thank goodness!

What was the last book you read?  
Douglas Perry’s “The Girls of Murder City:  Fame, Lust and the Beautiful Killers Who Inspired ‘Chicago.’” 

What sparked the idea for Jessica’s Guide? Did you always know there would be a sequel?
The idea is rooted in my family life.  My children are adopted, and we sometimes imagine what their birth parents might be like.  What if they are doctors?  Or farmers?  Or even royalty?  I just took that game to the extreme with Jessica’s Guide, imagining the protagonist’s birth parents as vampire royalty.
I didn’t initially plan to write a sequel – only because I never expected the first book to earn the wonderful following that it did.  As a first-time novelist, I was just happy to have one published book.

Lucius and Jessica both have very distinct voices. I love Lucius’s sense of humor! What are your favorite things about Lucius and Jessica?
I also love Lucius’s humor, and his chivalry, bravery and intense loyalty to his friends and family.  As the second book, Jessica Rules the Dark Side, shows, Lucius would sacrifice his existence before hurting Jess in any way, shape or form. 
I love Jess’s intelligence, cool-headedness, and her courage, too.  Her mettle is tested in the second book, and while she falters, like any normal person would, she comes back stronger than ever. 

I loved how in this second book we get Mindy and Ronnie’s voices as well. Out of the four of them, which character do you enjoy writing more?
Oh, gosh… I love writing all of them for different reasons.  It’s like hanging out with good friends, all of whom you love for their unique personalities.  I will say that I developed a new fondness for Mindy while writing the second book, though.  She emerged to have her own particular strengths – and she cracks me up, too.

What did you find the most challenging about switching narrators between four characters? 
At first it was difficult to decide who should jump into the narrative when.  I didn’t want anyone to drop out of the story for too long.  But once the plot started rolling along, it flowed naturally. 

What was the biggest challenge you faced while writing your novels?
Staying calm until I’m at least halfway through.  I don’t do a lot of plotting, so I tend to reach a point that I call “the murky middle,” at which point I’m not exactly sure how I’ll get from the beginning to the end – which I always do plan.  That can be nerve wracking.

Lucius shows up on your doorstep. What do you do? 
Take him out for a really nice dinner and a discussion of books.  I think he grew accustomed to small, cluttered American houses while living with the Packwoods, but I’d still be embarrassed to subject him to my messy home.   

Do you own a stake?
I probably have something that would do in a pinch, out in the garage. 

How do you like your potato? 
French fried.

If you weren’t a writer, what would you be?  A professor – which I do on the side, now and then.
 Do you have a favorite literary character? 
Edmond Dantes, from The Count of Monte Cristo.   He’s intense, funny, tortured, romantic… just perfect!

What do you do when you’re not writing? 
I burn off a lot of steam at the gym, and I hang out with my husband and three daughters.  Just getting through homework at night is a major undertaking! 

What is one thing you would tell aspiring writers? 
Usually I tell them to practice, practice, practice… But today I was thinking about how important it is to remember that you can always delete.  Don’t be afraid to try something when you’re typing away.  You can always backspace.  (Of course, that doesn’t hold true for those of you diehards who still use pen and ink… more power to you!)

Do you buy a book based on its cover? 
Not really.  I choose more by author and summary. 

What is your next book about and when is it coming out? 
My next project is still a secret, but hopefully it will come out in 2013 – provided I stay on schedule!

Will there be more Jessica and Lucius in our future? I hope so!!! 
Thanks for your support, but I’m not sure about another full sequel.  That said, I would at least like to do another on-line “fan thank you,” like I did with the free story of Jess and Lucius’s wedding on my website.  I purposely built some possible options into the end of Jessica Rules the Dark Side.  I like having a concrete way to let readers know how much I appreciate their support.

Thanks for stopping by Beth! 

You can find Beth Fantaskey here and follow her on twitter @BethFantaskey

Posted January 16, 2012 by Kimberly in Book Reviews, Interviews / 4 Comments