Interview & Excerpt: Beneath Scarlett Valley by Kerr-Ann Dempster

IMG_2321.JPGTitle: Beneath Scarlett Valley

Author: Kerr-Ann Dempster

Blurb: Death or Immortality … Cassidy chose death. Cassidy Daniels hates being a Furor. First, there is the hellish rage that storms through her veins, urging her to kill. Then there is the gnawing guilt, the nightmares, and the pretense. Unfortunately, her sister wants to be immortal. To do so, she needs Cassidy’s help to find the Source, an ancient pool hidden beneath Scarlett Valley. When they arrive in Scarlett, Cassidy intends to find the Source and get out, but then she meets Sebastian. Everything about him makes her rethink her choice. There is just one problem. The choice between death and immortality is no longer Cassidy’s to make. There are pretenders everywhere, with dark pasts and even darker plans.

Interview:
Q:What genres do you most enjoy reading in books?
A:I enjoy fantasy, paranormal, and science fiction novels with strong females and realistic romance.

Q:Are you equally a reader and a writer or do you spend more time imagining stories in your mind than reading one?
A:I spend more time writing than reading. However, I take a day off each week to read a book from my “to-read” list.

Q:When reading what makes a book great to you?
A:Three things: Tension, 3-Dimensional characters, and great dialogue.

  • I love when a novel is teeming with so much tension that I have to hold my breath while reading or skip bathroom breaks. “No, I can hold it. Just one more chapter.”
  • I also love 3-dimensional characters that climb out of the novel to befriend or haunt me. I want to think about them years after reading and wonder, where are they now?
  • Great dialogue can make or break a novel. I hate predictable dialogue. I also hate when all the characters sound alike. Give me distinctive, sharp dialogue that keeps me engage.

Q:What is your biggest turn off in books?
A:Repetition. I see the same characters and themes being written to death. As a reader, I like fresh ideas. I want to be surprised.

Q:What are your aspirations as an author?
A: To write young adult and middle-grade novels that will keep my readers up all night.

Q: Do you have an ultimate book boyfriend?
A: No, but I have an ultimate book BFF. I love Penryn from Angelfall. She is witty and brave, and I want to kick angel butt with her.

Q: What inspired Beneath Scarlett Valley?
A: Honestly, I am still trying to figure that out. I was visiting my sister in Florida and hanging out on the back porch when the final scene of Beneath Scarlett Valley unfolded in my head. I had no idea who Cassidy was at the time, but I could sense her anger and her pain. I wanted to promise her that everything would be okay, but then I saw this broken, bloodied figure at her feet. I had so many questions. I started writing at once so I could learn the answers.

Q: Is this your first full-length novel or do you have a closet full of stories?
A: Yes, but I do have a few short stories that I am fleshing out.

Q: Who is the first person you asked to read your novel once it was finished?
A: My sister. She is brutally honest and speaks her mind even when you wish she would shut up. Her critique was hard to swallow, but it challenged me to write a better story.

Q: In your opinion, what makes Beneath Scarlett Valley unique in comparison to other YA novels?
A: It features a new type of supernatural creature. My MC is a Furor and since Furors have never been done before, I get to define them. Furors are immortal creatures of rage, given to fits of uncontrollable anger. They don’t kill for food or for fun. They kill for relief from the hellish fire in their veins.

Book one gives the reader an intimate look at Furorism through the eyes of the MC. In book 2, the reader will get to explore it on a wider scale.

Q: What can we expect to see from you in the future?
A: I am currently working on the following projects:

  • The Hunted – January, 2015
    • You can read the first chapter here
    • Beneath Scarlett Valley (Book 2) – Fall, 2015
    • The Spooky Adventures of Mellow the Ghost – Winter, 2015

    Q: For us creepers, what are the best ways to stalk you? :)

  • You can find me on:
  • Excerpt:

      LIAM’S EYES WERE tight as he slipped into the booth across from me. “Have you been crying?”

      “Just exhausted from last night’s expedition,” I said with a shrug.

      “Is that why you snuck away from school?”

      “It’s one of the reasons.” I picked up the menu. “Tuesdays are two for one. What should we get?”

      “Today is Wednesday,” Liam said with a chuckle. “You really are exhausted.”

      I looked down at my reflection in the butter knife. Even its worn, scratchy surface could not hide the bags under my eyes.

      “We could share a pizza,” Liam said. “Plus a side of garlic bread and fries.”

      I looked around the tiny restaurant, checking the plates of the other customers. I smiled when I noticed a beefy trucker digging into a bowl of lasagna as though he was hunting for treasure.

      “I’m ordering the lasagna,” I said, “with a side of lasagna.”

      “Fine, I’ll have the pizza by myself. I was trying to be nice.”

      “Get the garlic bread and fries too. I’m paying.”

      “Damn right you’re paying,” Liam said.

      “When my aunt realizes I’m not in the bathroom, she’s going to scream her head off.”

      “She’s not going to give you detention, is she?”

      “Nope, just a lecture,” he said. “I’ll go put in our order.”

      He walked over to a square window booth and placed our orders. On his way back, he grabbed a coloring mat and a box of crayons from the play bin. He emptied the crayons on the table between us and handed me the blue one.

      As I colored in the sky, Liam cleared his throat. “Do you want to talk about it?”

      I kept my head down. “Nope, I’d rather talk about something fun.”

      “Like what?”

      I searched my mind for a safe topic, something that wouldn’t dredge up questions I couldn’t answer. After a minute, I found the perfect one. “Tell me about this hot-blooded girl of yours.”

      Liam sat back and smiled. “I’ll tell you one thing. She’s not a blowup doll.”

      “Then why haven’t I heard about her until now?”

      “Because you were off frolicking with Wick.”

      “Yeah, right—” I stopped talking as a waitress brought our meals to the table. My stomach growled as I stared down at my lasagna. I picked up my fork and dug in at once. The flavors were a thousand times more intense and delicious than the frozen ones.

      Liam shook his head. “Take it easy, Garfield.”

      “Who’s Garfield?”

      “The cat from the comic strip. You know, the one obsessed with lasagnas.”

      “Whatever,” I mumbled around a mouthful of food. “Tell me about the girl.”

      “She’s not just any girl, she’s my ex.”
      I sipped on my water, waiting for Liam to continue. Instead, he picked up a slice of pizza, finished it off, and then reached for another. When he picked up a third slice, I kicked his leg under the table.

      “Don’t leave me hanging,” I said. “I want to know everything about this mystery girl.”

      Liam sighed and dropped his pizza. “Have you ever loved someone, but hated them too? I mean, like really hate, to the point where you want to crush them.”

      I choked down my lasagna. “Are we still talking about the girl?”

      His eyes hardened. For a brief instance, I could see the hate gleaming in his black eyes. “Why do you hate her so much?” I asked.

      “She took something of mine without asking.”

      “What did she take?”

      Liam looked down at the forgotten coloring mat. “The crazy part is that I can’t stop thinking about her. We’ve been apart forever, and yet she’s the first person I think about each morning.”

      “But you hate her?”

      “Yes.”

      “And you love her too?”

      “Yes,” he said. “Insane, right?”

      “A little.”

      I had never felt about anyone the way Liam felt about his ex-girlfriend. Then again, I had never shared myself completely with someone else. I tried to imagine what it would be like, to love someone I hated. Or was it the other way around. Did it make a difference?

      I shook my head and looked at Liam. “I think you should give her a second chance. She might surprise you this time.”

      Liam smiled his usual smile. “You just want an invitation to the tea party, don’t you?”

      “Not unless you’re serving lasagna.”

      He grinned and picked up a garlic roll. “Twenty bucks says I can fit all these rolls in my mouth.”

      I counted the rolls on the table. There were a dozen. “Deal,” I said. “But you have to keep them down.”

      Liam grinned and shoved the roll into his mouth. Ten minutes and twelve rolls later, I handed him a twenty dollar bill. Liam chuckled and rubbed his stomach.

      “I don’t think I’ll ever eat again,” he said.

      “So is that a no to dessert?” I asked.

      Liam snorted. “Your idea of dessert is probably lasagna with whipped cream on top.”

      “Do you think they would do that?” I asked.

      “I hope not,” he said and pulled out his wallet. “I’ll tip the waitress. You pay.”

      I took our check to the window booth. When I knocked on the window, a jeweled hand opened the screen. Abi grinned at me from inside the booth.

      “Seat thief and a ditcher,” she said. “You really are from California.”

      I handed her the check and a fifty-dollar bill. “Keep the change.”

      “Wait, I’m not allowed to collect tips. The customer has to put it in the jar themselves.”

      I pursed my lips and waited as she counted my change. She worked slowly, looking past me to where Liam waited by the door.

      “Here you go,” she finally said. “Thank you for eating at Emilio’s.”

      I dropped the change in the tip-jar and hurried out. Liam turned up his shirt collar as we climbed into my car.

      Dazzling snow had covered everything in a thick layer, but once again, he wasn’t wearing a coat.

      “I told you to wear a coat,” I said.

      “I couldn’t take my coat to the bathroom. My aunt would have known I was sneaking off again.”

      “I’m sure she figured it out,” I said. “If not, you need a new tutor.”

      Liam grinned and turned on the radio. He played air drums as we drove along First Street. When I turned down Derby, I pulled over to the curb.

      “Are you sure you don’t need me to take you home?”

      “Positive,” he said and hopped out. “I have a shortcut.”

      “Okay, bye.”

      He winked and took off into the woods. When he was out of sight, I drove home. I expected Harper to come charging out the door when I pulled into the driveway, but she was nowhere in sight.

      Despite being worried about her, I was relieved. The exhaustion from my sleepless nights was becoming harder to ignore. I went straight to my bedroom and climbed into bed. Sleep arrived at once.

    All right guys, I hope you enjoyed this! In the near future I will be posting my review and we have a great Beneath Scarlett Valley giveaway coming your way. However if you want to get this book in your hands as soon as possible, it is available on Amazon and can be bought by Clicking Here or is free to read if you have Kindle Unlimited.

Book Review & Giveaway: Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld

afterworldsTitle: Afterworlds

Author: Scott Westerfeld

Blurb: Darcy Patel has put college and everything else on hold to publish her teen novel, Afterworlds. Arriving in New York with no apartment or friends she wonders whether she’s made the right decision until she falls in with a crowd of other seasoned and fledgling writers who take her under their wings…

Told in alternating chapters is Darcy’s novel, a suspenseful thriller about Lizzie, a teen who slips into the ‘Afterworld’ to survive a terrorist attack. But the Afterworld is a place between the living and the dead and as Lizzie drifts between our world and that of the Afterworld, she discovers that many unsolved – and terrifying – stories need to be reconciled. And when a new threat resurfaces, Lizzie learns her special gifts may not be enough to protect those she loves and cares about most.

My Review: Haunting and eerie are the best words to describe my first reaction to this novel. It starts off with Lizzie in an airport amid a terrorist attack and as bad as it may sound to talk well of any terrorist attack (even a fictional one) it is good!

The book is told fom dual POV. Darcy who is writing the story and Lizzie who is living it. At first the dual POV is a drag. The change of pace between the two was a serious take away for me. However as the story progressed it just got better and better and transition became easier to bear. At some points I wasn’t even sure who’s side of the story I wanted to see more of because they were both that good!

Darcy’s is a recent high school grad who wrote Afterworlds in a month her senior year. She sends her book out and gets an agent and a publishing deal. She moves to New York City on her own. She is riddled with self doubt and kind of fears that she will be considered a fraud. She’s so young and fears not being able to recreate what she did with Afterworlds. But we are taken through her writing processes and her experiences as an author. Which by the way were realistic and pretty darn cool to see the publishing process as it is portrayed here.

Lizzie I really liked. She can be impulsive and stupid sometimes but she is strong and brave and there is just something that is relatable about her. She is thirsty for knowledge and tries to deal with her situation to the best of her abilities. What situation you ask? Her ability to cross over into the Afterworlds and see ghosts. The interesting thing is that despite the paranormal theme and that crazy first chapter I didn’t expect the book to be as creepy as it was. While I will once again remind everyone that I am a scary cat, I was absolutely shivering in my boots during some pretty creepy scenes.

There is such a wide array of characters in this book, on both sides of the story and I really enjoyed getting to know them. All in all I really enjoyed the book. The book ended a little weirdly and I didn’t love it but there was a sense of resolution. Overall, an amazing read. I absolutely loved Lizzie’s story, it’s unexpected nature and how it continuously kept me on my feet. Darcy’s story is a little slower in pace and it takes a little warming up to get into but is good nonetheless. While there is no announced sequel it definitely ended with enough legroom for an Afterworlds #2 to be easily introduced.

This is my first Scott Westerfeld novel but he made a fan of me with Afterworlds. I would recommend this read and will be anxiously hoping for a sequel.

rating-4

Giveaway: a Rafflecopter giveaway

Excerpt & Review: Vision of Shadows by Vincent Morrone

vision of shadows

Title: Vision of Shadows (Vision #1)

Author: Vincent Morrone

Blurb: Is Bristol Blackburn about to meet the love of her life…or her killer?
Seventeen-year-old Bristol has never had a problem with the ghosts that float in and out of her life. It’s all the people with a pulse that confuse her.

After the death of her parents, Bristol’s life is thrown into chaos and she’s forced to move to Spirit, a small town where shadows are stirring. As she learns to navigate her new school and figures out how to keep her psychic abilities secret from her family, Bristol comes face to face with the boy who makes a regular appearance in her dreams: the gorgeous, possibly deadly, Payne McKnight. Soon she’ll find out if Payne will be the love of her life, or the end of it – and she has no idea which possibility scares her more.

And that’s not even the worst of it. Strange shadows are haunting her dreams, and they’re up to something that could put Bristol and the lives of everyone she loves in jeopardy.

Excerpt: -1-

 I had been here many times before. I stood in an abandoned house, a fire raging out of control, but it wasn’t the flames that had me terrified. I was looking into the eyes of someone who clearly wanted me dead. I was cornered. His eyes were ablaze with hatred and the promise of violence. He was going to kill me.

Yeah, been there, done that. But this time was different.

I now knew who I was facing. His name was Payne McKnight. Even here, I couldn’t help but notice how incredibly beautiful he was. His shirt was ripped, his hair messed, but he looked perfect. His dark hair fell over his deep blue eyes, but I could still see the rage within them.

I couldn’t run away. Where would I go? If he didn’t kill me soon himself, I’d burn to death. You would think that would worry him as well, but no. There was no fear in his eyes; just loathing, violence and more than a wee bit of insanity.

“Please,” I whispered. “Please don’t. If you ever loved me. Please.”  Payne responded to my plea by reaching out and grabbing my throat. “Of course I loved you. And that’s why you have to die.”

His hand tightened and the flames grew closer. I tried to scream, but nothing but a whimper escaped me.

-2-

“No,” he answered. “I’d never betray you. Did you think I would?”

“I didn’t want to,” I said. “But you disappeared. I had no idea what was happening. Then Jay said you’d told your family everything. After everything that’s happened, everything I dreamed…I don’t want to believe it.”

“Who the hell is Jay?” he asked. “How would he know what I did or

didn’t say, anyway? There’s no one in my family named Jay.”     “Yeah, that much I got,” I said.

“So who is he?” Payne asked again, not in the least bit amused.       “Jay? He’s just some guy I know,” I answered. “Not anyone you’ve ever met I’m sure.”

“Well, this Jay is a liar,” Payne said. “I would never do that. I didn’t do that. Grandpa questioned me over and over again. He’s not like your uncle. He didn’t just accept my story. Your uncle, he knew we weren’t telling him everything. But he didn’t push. He let you keep your secret.”

“What did he do?” I asked. “Did he hurt you?’

“No,” Payne said. “Grandpa wouldn’t do that, but he made me repeat the story over and over again. Kept asking how you fit into everything. He was trying to see if I was lying. I managed to tell him the story where I wasn’t lying. I just omitted a few details.”

“Not that I don’t appreciate the subtle difference,” I interjected. “But really that’s just semantics.”

Payne shrugged. “Yeah, I know it’s basically the same, but I think it worked. Forget about that. Who is this Jay? I thought I knew almost everyone in this cursed town.”

I sighed. “Jay is about our age. Tall, muscular. Blond. Very, very cute.”

“Cute?”

Very cute,” I affirmed and watched Payne squirm. “Jay has a way with words, too. Poetic. He calls me darling. And he’s been warning me that you’re nothing but trouble.”

Payne got right in my face. “Is that what you think I am? Trouble?”

I smirked. “Definitely.”

Payne returned the smirk, and I felt that hitch in my gut again.         “Jay wants me to run away with him,” I added. “Says he can protect me.”

“Is that what you want, Bristol?” Payne asked. “You want to be protected? Do I scare you?”

“I don’t know what you do to me,” I replied. “Payne, you drive me insane. I’m trying to figure it out, and it doesn’t help when Jay materializes out of nowhere and feeds my insecurities.”

“Materializes? Jay’s a freaking ghost?”

“As a matter of fact,” I said, “yes he is. He’s a completely adorable ghost that wants to run away with me.”

Payne blinked rapidly. “You’re talking about running away with a ghost? Bristol, do you have any idea how crazy that sounds?” He took a step closer to me.

“It was his idea,” I remarked, feeling a bit defensive now. “Besides, there might be a few advantages to being with a ghost.” I stepped back, trying to keep a little distance because the closer Payne got, the harder it was to think straight.

“A few advantages?” Payne repeated as he closed the distance between us again. “Like what? You don’t have to worry about him leaving the toilet seat up?”

“There’s that.” I nodded. “Then there’s the fact he’d be totally devoted to me. I wouldn’t have to share him with his friends and family. He gets me.” I felt my back press up against a tree and realized I hadn’t anywhere else to go.

Payne took another step forward. “I can be devoted to you. Beyond anything you can imagine, Bristol. I would like to share my family and friends with you. McKnights aren’t all bad,” he said, his face less than an inch from mine. “And there are a few things where a living, breathing person might have an advantage over him.”

Thoughts of Payne touching me swam in my mind as he closed in on me.

“Ghosts can’t hurt me,” I said in a whisper so soft he would never have heard me if he hadn’t been this close. “I’ve never been afraid of ghosts.”

“Do I scare you?” he asked again.

“Payne, I told you I don’t know how I feel,” I said. “I don’t know—”

“Bristol,” Payne interrupted. “Do. I. Scare. You?”

I nodded.

“Do you want me to go?”

I trembled. “No.”

“I know you’ve told me you’ve never been afraid of the dead,” Payne said. “And the living can be a lot scarier. But Bristol, you’re alive. It’s time to live.”

Before I could respond, his mouth crushed on mine, and his tongue gently explored the inside of my mouth. I felt the heat of his body against mine, and I could feel him react to the kiss.

Then the flash came, and my world shifted. Payne’s hands removing my clothes. Me, on top of him as I cried out in ecstasy. The two of us together after a night of love making, holding each other as we slowly fell asleep in each other’s arms.

When the kiss ended, he looked me in my eyes, and my legs turned into melted butter.

“Still scared of me?” he asked.

“Terrified,” I answered. Then I pulled his face to mine and kissed him again.

Sale Alert: Once upon a time I read and reviewed this book and fell in love. I gave it five stars and you can read my review below. Vision of Shadows has been re-released and the eBook is currently on sale for 99 cents on Amazon. Click here to check it out.

My Review: Bristol is a 16 year old teenager who has quite a few psychic abilities under her belt. The story starts with her having an experience with a ghost. As she interacts with this very friendly and emotional ghost at a sidewalk restaurant she sees her neglectful parents killed before her eyes. This is something that she never saw coming and it throws her world upside down.

Her becoming an orphan, means she has to leave her home in NYC and move with her uncle to Spirit, NY. This is something she is not too enthusiastic about, after all she does not know him at all. But I absolutely loved her uncle and the rest of her family for that matter. They are the complete opposite of her parents. They are caring, warm, sincere, accepting; the two are polar opposites of each other and the family dynamics are quite honest and beautiful.

Ok, well back to the storyline. It doesn’t take Bristol long to realize that there is more going on in Spirit than meets the eye. First, her family, the Blackburn’s, are one of Spirit’s co-founders along with the McKnight’s and these two don’t get along. Well, that’s putting it lightly.

Soon after arriving in Spirit, Bristol meets the boy of her dreams. Payne is everything her visions promised he would be and more. And the budding romance begins. The catch, he is a McKnight and therefore their relationship is heavily frowned upon. So they have a Romeo and Juliet kind of thing going on and it was very well done.

Payne is pretty great. He’s the sexy bad boy and has all these amazing characteristics. Yet Bristol’s my favorite character. She is strong, compassionate, funny, kind and truly a great heroine and narrator. She has the backbone to stand up for herself and others and to do what has to be done. I really came to respect her. One of her biggest flaws is her inability to believed she is lovable. Her parents kind of screwed her up a bit. They were neglectful and judgmental and how can any child believe they are worthy of love when not even their parents are capable of giving it to them? Needless to say, her new home is full of people who love and accept her and she’s not sure if she should trust it.

Bristol and Payne make a great couple. They were amazing and made me laugh. However, something I did not expect from this novel is just how dark it turned out to be. Bristol has been interacting with ghosts all her life and they are entertaining and harmless to her. But as the story progresses it becomes surprisingly and unexpectedly dark.

Vision of Shadows is truly a novel I enjoyed reading and a series I plan to see through. It is funny, heartwarming, suspenseful and well written. It is a novel that impressed me with it’s awesomeness and a book I recommend.

 *I received a free copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

rating-5

 

AuthorVincentAbout the Author:

Born and raised in Brooklyn NY, Vincent Morrone now resides in Upstate NY with his wife. (Although he can still speak fluent Brooklynese.) His twin daughters remain not only his biggest fans, but usually are the first to read all of his work. Their home is run and operated for the comfort and convenience of their dogs. Vincent has been writing fiction, poetry and song lyrics for as long as he can remember, most of which involve magical misfits, paranormal prodigies and even on occasion superheroes and their sidekicks. As they say in Brooklyn: Yo, you got something to say to Vincent? Check out vincentmorrone.com where you can learn about Vincent and leave him a comment.

You can find and contact Vincent Morrone here:
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Interview: Sarah B. Larson

defyTitle: Defy

Author: Sara B Larson

Blurb: A lush and gorgeously written debut, packed with action, intrigue, and a thrilling love triangle.

Alexa Hollen is a fighter. Forced to disguise herself as a boy and serve in the king’s army, Alex uses her quick wit and fierce sword-fighting skills to earn a spot on the elite prince’s guard. But when a powerful sorcerer sneaks into the palace in the dead of night, even Alex, who is virtually unbeatable, can’t prevent him from abducting her, her fellow guard and friend Rylan, and Prince Damian, taking them through the treacherous wilds of the jungle and deep into enemy territory.

The longer Alex is held captive with both Rylan and the prince, the more she realizes that she is not the only one who has been keeping dangerous secrets. And suddenly, after her own secret is revealed, Alex finds herself confronted with two men vying for her heart: the safe and steady Rylan, who has always cared for her, and the dark, intriguing Damian. With hidden foes lurking around every corner, is Alex strong enough to save herself and the kingdom she’s sworn to protect?

Not too long ago I read Defy by Sarah B. Larson and I just loved it. It is complex, and intriguing and I loved every second of it. About 3 quarters into the book, I emailed the author and in a total fan-girlish kind of way, I asked for an interview. And below are the fruits of my begging! LOL! I hope you enjoy!

You can read my review of Defy HERE.

Favorites
Color: The color of the Caribbean ocean. (Bluish-green? Teal?) As evidenced by half my wardrobe, ha ha! (Speaking of which, I’m going to have to buy some new clothes for when IGNITE comes out since the cover is purple…I don’t think I own any purple!)
Food: Mmm, this is hard. I love lots of food. Steak and mashed potatoes, and sushi, and Thai food, and my mom’s chicken piccata, and mangoes and sticky rice, and a warm brownie sundae…man I could just keep going.
Novel: Again, too hard to narrow down! But if I had to pick only one series I could read for the rest of my life, I’d pick Harry Potter.
Series: Uh, I think I just answered that.

Q: I know that you have always been a writer. Yet what are your feelings now that you’ve become an author?
A: It’s been everything I dreamed of and a lot more work than I realized. Not the writing part, but the business aspect. Trying to promote my books (without being overbearing) and to find that balance of work and family time can be tricky. It’s hard but so worth it!

Q: What do you hope someone picking up your book will gain from it?
A: First and foremost, I hope they will love it so much they can’t put it down. But after they finish I hope they come away feeling they too, like Alexa, can have the strength to never give up and to overcome whatever troubles they may have in their lives. And maybe they will also fall in love, at least a little bit with a certain character or two….

Q: Are you working on anything at the moment?
A: Yes! The sequel, IGNITE, comes out on Jan. 6, 2015, and I’m working on some new projects as well. I’m always busy writing something!

Q: What can we expect to see from you in the future?
A: The rest of Alexa’s story, and many more epic and exciting books! (I hope…)

Q: What can we expect to see in Defy #2?
A: Here’s the synopsis from the jacket flap:
In the kingdom of Antion, peace has at long last been restored. Now that King Hector’s reign of terror is over, the newly crowned King Damian, along with his most trusted guard, Alexa, must focus on rebuilding Antion and reclaiming the hope of their people. But the wounds of the past are no as easily mended as Alexa and Damian had hoped. And to further complicate matters, Alexa still harbors a secret love for Damian, a love she refuses to acknowledge for the sake of Antion, and for the sake of the king himself.
When new threats to the kingdom surface—including an assassination attempt on Damian—blame is cast on the once-friendly nation of Blevon. Alexa knows things are not what they seem, however, and once again the fate of her country hangs in the balance. Will Alexa be able to protect her king and find the true enemy before it’s too late?
Filled with romance and treachery, magic and violence, this stunning sequel to Defy whisks readers off on another thrilling adventure.

About Defy
Q: In your own words how would you describe your debut novel?
A: DEFY is an intense, action-packed, romantic, fantasy adventure about a girl who has to disguise herself as a boy and join the king’s army to protect herself from a horrific fate.

Q: What inspired this novel?
A: DEFY came from a very difficult period in my life, when I lost someone I loved. I was so upset by his death that I couldn’t write anything, but a friend of mine told me to stop trying to write a book and just write what I was feeling. So that’s exactly what I did. I sat down and wrote a scene, not intending for it to go anywhere…but then I got curious about the characters. This whole fascinating world unraveled itself and I realized Alexa had a very intriguing, difficult, but ultimately amazing story that needed to be told. I threw myself into that writing and from there the story took on its own life. It became a story of survival and moving forward, a story of what true courage and strength is, and a story about the many different kinds of love, and hope (even in the most desperate of situations) and risking everything for the chance of a better future.

Q: Prince Damian was I bit hard for me to figure out. He’s secretive, unpredictable, tortured and sweet all rolled into one. Although I liked him by the end of it, I spent most of the book unable to make up my mind about him. That being said, what is your overall feeling on him and did you intend for him to be such a complex character?
A: Damian was always very complex. In fact, even I had him pegged wrong when I first started writing DEFY. It wasn’t until I figured him out that the plot was able to fall into place so I could finish the book. I really loved getting to know him and writing his character, I must admit.

Q: Alexa was my favorite character. She does a great job walking the line between strong and vulnerable. And after pretending to be a boy for so long, she struggles to figure out who she really is. What inspired her character?
A: Thank you! I love Alexa, too. And honestly, she came to me how she is. I just had to write her story the way she told it to me.

Q: What is your favorite scene or aspect in Defy?
A: Oh, that’s tough – and spoilery. So I’m going to pick a scene that was really fun to write that isn’t too much of a spoiler. That would have to be the “tent scene” where Alexa finds herself in a very…interesting situation with both Rylan and Damian. I had a lot of fun with that one.

Q: Defy takes place in a different world. What influenced the setting in Defy?
A: I’ve always been fascinated by the jungle. Though I didn’t consciously set out to put a book there, it just happened to be where I started writing the first scene of DEFY and it stuck!

Q: Do you have anything you would like to say to readers who have yet to pick up your novel?
A: That I hope they’ll give it a try and that I hope they come to love Alexa as much as I do!

Excerpt & Giveaway: Manroot by Anne Steinberg

Manroot Book Cover

Title: Manroot

Author: Anne Steinberg

Blurb: Manroot is the evocative and stirring story of a lonely town in Missouri, and a young woman named Katherine who discovers a mystical side to herself that she’d never known existed. Anne Steinberg weaves together fantasy, romance, and a young girl’s coming of age into a darkly magical story.

In the spring of 1939, Katherine Sheahan and her father, Jesse, are looking for work in the isolated tourist town of Castlewood. Jesse gets a job as handyman and Katherine as a maid at a small hotel. Jesse drinks and neglects his work and eventually disappears, abandoning his daughter. Frieda Broom, the hotel Manager, takes Katherine under her wing, and teaches her about ginseng, the manroot, and other secrets of the foothills. Katherine discovers that she is a natural healer and has the ability to communicate with spirits, a gift she inherited from her Navajo Indian mother.

Among the hotels regular clientele is Judge William Reardon. Escaping his sterile marriage, he becomes captivated by Katherine. As the pair bond over astrology and gardening, Katherine becomes convinced they belong together, despite him being much older than her and married. As they begin to fall in love, the violence of dark magic threatens to annihilate all Katherine knows and holds dear. Can their love survive?

Manroot is a potent tale of destiny, spiritualism and love, written in Anne Steinberg’s signature compelling style.

Excerpt: Chapter 5

Working alone in the kitchen, Katherine scrubbed it clean. Looking up at the calendar, she knew tomorrow was Friday. The Judge was one of the few people who stopped here regularly, even now, in late autumn. Perhaps it was telling Sally that had started it all, for now her thoughts of the Judge were like a fever that stayed with her. Last Friday when she took him his bourbon and spring water, she noticed it for the first time, the birthmark. It was on his right hand, so clear and vivid that she had almost dropped the tray. He had smiled at her nervousness, called her ‘my dear,’ and given her a silver dollar for a tip.

Katherine slept restlessly; she dreamed of the Oh mu and heard its moan of agony echoing in her sleep. She dreamed of Papa floating in the muddy river, caught and held under by a treacherous branch, his eyes vacant pools staring upward through the water. It was so real that in the morning when the siren from the firehouse once again split the air, she rushed into the kitchen where Frieda was telling Bruce, “You be careful…another one’s gone and gave herself to the river. It was a suicide, a painted woman from the Eagle’s nest…” Frieda shivered as she told the story the way that she had heard it from the postman. The woman in the night had cut her wrists, but the dying was too slow, so she ran from the clubhouse, perched only for a moment on the railing, then jumped headlong into the cold water.

Katherine moved slowly this morning. Frieda fussed at her, but knowing the girl had never been lazy, she thought the drowning must have upset her or maybe she was coming down with something.

The guests were all gone. They only expected one tonight – Judge Reardon. They’d have time to go into the woods today, hunting for herbs and the manroot. But Frieda went alone as the girl looked a bit too peaked.

Alone, Katherine cleaned the rooms again; it took no time, for they were already clean. She lingered in Number 8, The Judge’s room.

She knew a lot about him now, and she felt a very real presence that he left in the room. She knew intimate things about him – like the size of his shirts, the smell of his aftershave, which side of the bed he slept on, how he preferred his coffee, the brand of cigarettes that he smoked…numerous details about him that she had collected bit by bit, saving them in her mind and in her dreams, like pennies to be spent at a later date.

He knew nothing of her dusting his dresser, straightening the bed after he had risen. He was not aware that while he was out, she pressed his shirts to her lips, inhaling his aroma, and sat on the bed in the same crevices his body had made over the years that he had slept here. Now she knew with the wisdom and instinct of centuries, she knew that what would be, would be.

Last week for the first time she had seen it, the birthmark, on his right hand. It was paler than the surrounding skin, crescent-shaped like a slice of the moon, and within its outline, unmistakable, a perfect five-pointed star. She knew its shape by heart, as just above her right breast she had its identical replica.

The Navajo blood flowed strongly in her veins, with all its beliefs in the signs, even though her father had tried vainly to smother these strange alien traits. Since her childhood she had believed that she could speak to animals, and she could find herbs hiding under any rock and knew exactly what they would cure.

She stayed dreaming in the Judge’s room until she heard Frieda calling her. The woman had returned from the woods, carrying a full burlap sack.

“You should have come today…I found it…the time is ripe, and you’re much quicker than I. You would have climbed the higher spots where it grows.”

Placing the sack on the table, she pulled out one root. “It’s perfect…it’s prime, probably ten or fifteen years old.” She held the root up to the light. Its torso similar but lighter in color than a carrot, with no hint of orange, just tannish-brown, the root seemed to have two arms, two legs, and a fine network of tendrils. It appeared to be a miniature figure of a headless man.

“What is it?” Katherine questioned as she stared at the unusual root.

“It’s a manroot!”

“The manroot,” Katherine repeated, liking the sound of the word and feeling it described the plant perfectly. “It seems as if it could contain magic?” she said, as she gingerly touched it with a timid finger.

“Oh, they say it does. It works wonders. The Orientals prize its properties – to them it is also the love root. It does many things, cures most anything that ails you. For me it lines my pockets – Bailey’s general store pays about four dollars a pound.” Emptying the sack on the counter, Frieda explained, “You can’t let it get damp – it ruins the root.” She began taking them out, examining and inspecting and drying each root with a clean dish-towel.

“They’re not all like this one, that’s special. Some don’t come with the likeness of arms and legs, some just look like a pale carrot…but the old ones, the very special ones do. Here, Katherine – take it, it’s yours.”

They sat at the table and by habit Katherine helped her.

“If you weren’t such a lazy girl, you could have come with me today. When these are dry, I’m sure Bailey’s will be paying twenty dollars or so for the batch.”

“Twenty dollars?”

“Yes, ma’am!” She knew the girl wasn’t lazy; it was her way of trying to shake her out of the listlessness. “Put on the kettle, Katherine. I’ll slip a little of the root in it. That will perk you up.”

They drank the tea, and Frieda continued drying the root. She did a rare thing: she hummed as she dried the fine tendrils.

“It takes time for the manroot to grow. You shouldn’t harvest a root less than seven years old, and you must always plant the seed when you harvest – each red berry has two seeds – not deep, just under the leaves. It’s a sin…to harvest and not plant the seed,” she said solemnly.

Katherine watched the clock. “I better put on my uniform. The Judge…”

“No need to. When I was coming in, he was headed for the Eagle’s Nest. He told me he wouldn’t be wanting any supper.”

Katherine’s face fell with disappointment.

In previous gossip from Frieda, Katherine had learned that the Judge lived twenty miles up the road with a wife who was said to be fragile since the births of her two stillborn sons. There was not much in these parts that the Judge did not own; he was rich, well-liked, respected, and known to be a fair man. Remarkably young to be a judge, no one faulted him for his tendencies to card-playing, drinking whiskey, and relieving himself with the local women. A lesser man with these leanings would be called no account, but he was, after all, the Judge, and this title brought with it a tendency to look at vices as virtues.

It was just another Friday. Destiny waited for her; she felt it close, closer than it had ever been.

The hotel was quiet. There were no guests and the only person staying was the Judge, who would be out late.

Katherine played the radio softly, dancing about the room, pretending she was at Castlewood waltzing under the lanterns with him. She put the perfect manroot in the Valentine box with her other things. After midnight when he rang, Katherine shook the sleep from herself when she realized the bell from Room 8 was ringing.

She owned no robe, and the persistent ringing threatened to wake Mr. Taylor. She flew up to the Judge’s room and knocked timidly, aware that her hair was down, and she was in her nightgown. It was plain enough – white cotton, sturdy and sensible.

He opened the door to her. He seemed surprised.

“I’m sorry, sir, everyone is asleep,” she said, not really knowing how to apologize for her attire.

He blinked at her, his hair ruffled, his shirt-tail out; she had never seen him like this.

“You’re new?”

“No, sir I’m Katherine. It was late; I didn’t have time to put on the uniform.”

He nodded and leaned forward studying her face. “Come in.” She did so, but left the door open.

“Sit down,” he said. She could tell he was very drunk. She sat timidly in the vanity chair. He paced the floor unsteadily, running his fingers through his hair. “It’s my head… I have a headache that won’t stop. I thought maybe you had something in the kitchen.”

He kept pacing. “I went out tonight, trying to forget. I’ve drunk a lot…it doesn’t stop…my head hurts so.”

“Sir, I could go look, or…” She wondered if she should chance it – maybe he would laugh. “My grandmother had a remedy that always worked.”

He stopped pacing. “Yes? What is it?”

“Well,” she said, “if you rub your thumbs vigorously for a few minutes, it has something to do with the blood flow…if that didn’t work, then a leaf of boiled cabbage on the forehead never failed.”

He smiled and stopped. “Well, try it.” He pulled up a chair in front of her and held out his thumbs.

She blushed. She hadn’t meant that she should rub his thumbs, but he was there across from her, waiting.

She reached forward, and with a firm grip clasped his thumbs and rubbed vigorously, while he leaned back and shut his eyes. She alternated between each thumb. It seemed natural to her to be touching him.

“Do you know what it’s like to play God?” he asked abruptly.

Startled, she didn’t know if he was really talking to her, but she replied, “No, sir, I don’t.”

“Well, I do, and it’s not pleasant, not pleasant at all… Today I’ve sent a man to the gas chamber – well, not me personally, but the jury.”

“I’m sorry, sir,” she said quietly.

“Stop saying ‘sir’ – my name’s William. The Judge…sir…that’s somebody else. I don’t feel like a judge right now. I never wanted to be a judge.” He opened his eyes and she drew back.

“Do you know what it feels like to judge other people?”

“No, si–” She stopped herself. “No, I don’t.”

He looked down at her hands. “Don’t stop. By god, I think it helps!” He closed his eyes once more and held out his thumbs to her. The house was quiet. Somewhere a nightbird called; the ticking of the clock in the hall kept time in its steady rhythm, and Katherine felt the sound of their breathing in tune.

Buy Links: The kindle version was published March 2014 and is available for sale on Amazon

Anne SteinbergAbout the Author:

While living in England, Anne Steinberg’s first novel, Manroot was published by Headline Review in London. Manroot was heralded as an important first novel in 1994 and included in the Headline Review’s prestigious “Fiction without Frontiers,” a new wave of contemporary fiction that knows no limits. Eight modern storytellers were featured: Anne Steinberg, Margaret Atwood, Iain Banks, William Gibson, Peter Hoeg, Roddy Doyle, and E. Annie Proulx. It was an auspicious beginning to a long and varied career for Anne Steinberg, who went on to write several acclaimed novels, Every Town Needs A Russian Tea Room, the story of a wealthy socialite who falls in love with a penniless young Russian immigrant who is haunted by a bizarre shameful secret, The Cuckoos Gift, First Hands, and An Eye For An Ear. She is also coauthor of The Fence, written with her grandson Nicholas Reuel Tolkien, the great grandson of J.R.R. Tolkien. Nicholas is a filmmaker, director, and published poet. The Fence is a chilling story of a magnificent Gothic fence forged by a despicable blacksmith and infused with evil.

Anne was a partner in the world famous vintage clothing store, Steinberg & Tolkien, on Kings Road in Chelsea. After a successful run for over 20 years, the shop closed, and she returned to the US. Approaching her eighty-second birthday, she now writes, reads, and studies antiques, American Indian history, animal welfare, mythology, and folklore legends.

Anne recently re-released Manroot in kindle format. It was published March 2014 and is available for sale on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Manroot-Anne-Steinberg-ebook/dp/B00J1BPZJA

Connect with Anne on Twitter: @ANSteinberg or Goodreads

Previously published novels include: The QuestFirst HandsEvery Town Needs a Russian Tea RoomThe Cuckoo’s Gift & Elias’s Fence

Giveaway:  Now, enter to win an eBook copy of Manroot below. Good luck!

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Book Review & ARC Giveaway: Sway by Kat Spears

Sway by Kat SpearsTitle: Sway

Author: Kat Spears

Blurb: In Kat Spears’s hilarious and often poignant debut, high school senior Jesse Alderman, or “Sway,” as he’s known, could sell hell to a bishop. He also specializes in getting things people want—term papers, a date with the prom queen, fake IDs. He has few close friends and he never EVER lets emotions get in the way. For Jesse, life is simply a series of business transactions.

But when Ken Foster, captain of the football team, leading candidate for homecoming king, and all-around jerk, hires Jesse to help him win the heart of the angelic Bridget Smalley, Jesse finds himself feeling all sorts of things. While following Bridget and learning the intimate details of her life, he falls helplessly in love for the very first time. He also finds himself in an accidental friendship with Bridget’s belligerent and self-pitying younger brother who has cerebral palsy. Suddenly, Jesse is visiting old folks at a nursing home in order to run into Bridget, and offering his time to help the less fortunate, all the while developing a bond with this young man who idolizes him. Could the tin man really have a heart after all?

A Cyrano de Bergerac story with a modern twist, Sway is told from Jesse’s point of view with unapologetic truth and biting humor, his observations about the world around him untempered by empathy or compassion—until Bridget’s presence in his life forces him to confront his quiet devastation over a life-changing event a year earlier and maybe, just maybe, feel something again.

Review: The truth is I’m not really sure how I feel about this book. The book itself is addictive and it keeps you reading but I”m not sure what about it kept me turning the pages…

The story is about Sway. Well that’s his nickname because he has sway or what I would call swag. He has this mannerism and confidence that earned him that name. But his real name is Jesse. He is his high school’s go to man for anything needed. Whether it be fake id’s, booze or drugs he’s your man. But he also does other things. Like, you want to date a girl and she won’t give you the time of day? Sway is your man. For a price he’ll get you an opening. Now that I think of it, he is a kind of like Hitch when it comes to the dating thing… However, this novel revolves around a story like this. The raining douche at their high school employs him to get him an in with the school’s most innocent and sweetest girl. And Sway gets to work. He stalks/observes her to do the job he was paid to do. He sees what he’s doing as business but he starts to see what everyone else sees in her and eventually starts to like Bridget too.

My main issue with the story is Sway’s ignorance. It’s to the point where he is truly insensitive and and quite an a-hole. Bridget’s younger brother has cerebral palsy and because of what their family experienced Bridget likes to volunteer at a center for children with disabilities. When Sway walks in on this his first reaction is to call these kids retarded. I won’t sugar coat it… This bothered me. I found the word offensive. He’s very upfront and honest and at times exceedingly rude. His ignorance in situation like these took away from the book for me. That being said I could’t help but love his transparency. He is the guy that doesn’t care about hurting your feelings and will always give you the stone cold truth.

I’m not sure how I read through the whole book. I’m hindsight it’s not the most unique or brilliant of books, even when I was reading it I didn’t necessarily like it but there was sometime that captured my attention. But the truth is that is not really it… The author just did a good job of maintaining my interest despite the narrator being a sometime-douche. That being said, this book is really all about love and how it changes you. How at the end of the day we want to be worthy of love and be worthy of the ones who truly love us. Because of this want, we change and try the be the best we can be. So this book is really about Sway and how true love changed him. Sprinkle in a little fairy dust and it had a very nice fairy tale ending. So all in all, despite my inconsistent feelings throughout the read I did enjoy the book.
rating-3
Giveaway: Now is your chance to win a paperback ARC of Sway. This is an international giveaway.

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Monthly Wrap-Up

This month has been a total whirlwind. I have a lot more planned this coming month and I hope you guys enjoy all I have planned. Thank you to everyone who made this past month so amazing for me.

Currently Reading: Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld. So far- really good.

August Favorites:
Favorite Song: Chandelier by Sia and Mine by Beyonce Ft. Drake
Favorite New Movie: Guardians of the Galaxy. Have you guys seen this one? I saw it twice in theaters… And it is absolutely hilarious in the most unexpected way.
Favorite old movie: Ever After. I rediscovered it on Netflix and boy do I love Cinderella stories…
Favorite show: House. I have just been marathoning this show on Netflix and I still have a few seasons to go.
Favorite Korean Drama: Rooftop Prince. Oh man… was this one good. While I wouldn’t say this is my favorite K-drama it is definitely one of the best I have seen.
Favorite Phone Game: Hay Day. I have reestablished may love for the game.
Favorite Memory: I went to Miami last weekend and had the most amazing time and took the greatest pictures. :)IMG_1597.JPG

As you know I was celebrating my blogiversary in August. Here are the winner’s for the giveaways:

: Merrieann and SophiWaterheart
TFIOS Swag: Christine H.
Button Love: Nori and Erin BookNut
Harlequin Tote: Harman K.
Metrophage by Richard Kadrey: Bonnie H
ARC I Become Shadow by Joe Shine: Adriana
ARC The Beautiful Ashes by Jeaniene Frost: Michelle L
Reading Gives You Superpowers Tote: Erin BookNut
Thorn Jack by Katherine Harbour: Bonnie H. and Joseph H.
At First Sight by Heather Todd: Anatea
ARC This Shattered World by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner: Becca F and Bex
Throne of Glass: Bonnie H.
Month Long Giveaways:
Blogiversary Giveaway #1: Adriana
Blogiversary Giveaway #2: Vannah B.
Blogiversary GIveaway #3: Nicolette K.

Thank you to everyone who entered and congrats to all who won! For those of you who have yet to receive your prize, they will be shipped next pay day. Once your prizes are shipped I will email you the tracking number.

 

 

Blogiversary Giveaway: ARC This Shattered World by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner

This Shattered WorldTitle: This Shattered World (Starbound #2)

Author: Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner

Blurb: The second installment in the epic Starbound trilogy introduces a new pair of star-crossed lovers on two sides of a bloody war.

Jubilee Chase and Flynn Cormac should never have met.

Lee is captain of the forces sent to Avon to crush the terraformed planet’s rebellious colonists, but she has her own reasons for hating the insurgents.

Rebellion is in Flynn’s blood. Terraforming corporations make their fortune by recruiting colonists to make the inhospitable planets livable, with the promise of a better life for their children. But they never fulfilled their promise on Avon, and decades later, Flynn is leading the rebellion.

Desperate for any advantage in a bloody and unrelentingly war, Flynn does the only thing that makes sense when he and Lee cross paths: he returns to base with her as prisoner. But as his fellow rebels prepare to execute this tough-talking girl with nerves of steel, Flynn makes another choice that will change him forever. He and Lee escape the rebel base together, caught between two sides of a senseless war.

The stunning second novel in the Starbound trilogy is an unforgettable story of love and forgiveness in a world torn apart by war.

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Blogiversary Giveaway: At First Sight by Heather Todd

IMG_1459.JPGTitle: At First Sight

Author: Heather Todd

Blurb: Lola Adams started fending for herself at the age of thirteen after her druggie parents ditched her without any notice. Now, five years later, she is on the fast track to a better life away from her hometown of Los Angeles. She is graduating as valedictorian in one month and she has a full ride to Harvard. Nothing seems to be getting in her way. Then, she meets Dean Baker after he saves her during a wild beach party. Their eyes meet and something powerful happens that makes her feel an immediate attraction and pull to him. While spending time with him, she comes to find out his entire family line is filled with people who can read minds, display imprinted powers, and perform magical spells. Two mysterious family members are suddenly on the hunt for Lola and Dean so they can ultimately rid the family of their love and their powers once and for all. Can they stop an impending battle before everyone, even Lola and Dean, loses their bond forever?

To win a paperback copy of At First Sight all you have to do is in the comments below tell me if you believe in love at first sight. This is an international giveaway and the giveaway ends 8/20 at 11:59 PM EST. Good Luck!

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