I am so excited to be today’s stop on THE TRAGIC AGE Blog Tour. I knew from its description that I would love this book. But until I read that introductory chapter I didn’t know just how much I would love it. In fact the writing jumped out at me so often that I actually used Post-it Notes to mark all my favorite lines and passages – something I never, ever, do. And by the story’s end, the ARC was nearly twice as thick as it was when I first picked it up. And I’m kinda sorta afraid to try and remove those sticky bookmarks in case they tear the pages.
While I don’t imagine that Billy Kinsey and I would ever have been friends, I love the way he thinks and I especially love his voice – the non vocalized one. But I imagine I would have been as enamored of Twom as Billy was. Which is why I’m stoked to have been able to ask him a few questions for my tour stop today. (Though the questions I would have loved to have asked I couldn’t or it would have revealed too much about what happened in THE TRAGIC AGE.)
This was one of those off-the-menu reads for me. And if you’d like to know what I thought check back this weekend for my review. Today, though, be sure to scroll down past the book’s description to meet Twom (pronounced tomb) and just remember not to call him Willard.
And if you’d like the chance to win a copy of the book, I’m offering one up for a quick giveaway. Because this book is spectacular and I can’t wait for its release on Tuesday so that everyone will get the chance to read it.
Title: THE TRAGIC AGE
Author: Stephen Metcalfe
Release date: March 3, 2015
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Formats: Hardcover, audio, eBook
This is the story of Billy Kinsey, heir to a lottery fortune, part genius, part philosopher and social critic, full time insomniac and closeted rock drummer. Billy has decided that the best way to deal with an absurd world is to stay away from it. Do not volunteer. Do not join in. Billy will be the first to tell you it doesn’t always work— not when your twin sister, Dorie, has died, not when your unhappy parents are at war with one another, not when frazzled soccer moms in two ton SUVs are more dangerous than atom bombs, and not when your guidance counselor keeps asking why you haven’t applied to college.
Billy’s life changes when two people enter his life. Twom Twomey is a charismatic renegade who believes that truly living means going a little outlaw. Twom and Billy become one another’s mutual benefactor and friend. At the same time, Billy is reintroduced to Gretchen Quinn, an old and adored friend of Dorie’s. It is Gretchen who suggests to Billy that the world can be transformed by creative acts of the soul.
With Twom, Billy visits the dark side. And with Gretchen, Billy experiences possibilities.Billy knows that one path is leading him toward disaster and the other toward happiness. The problem is—Billy doesn’t trust happiness. It’s the age he’s at. The tragic age.
Stephen Metcalfe’s brilliant, debut coming-of-age novel, The Tragic Age, will teach you to learn to love, trust and truly be alive in an absurd world.
Q. You definitely make a lasting first impression, and not just because of your name. But for those who haven’t yet had the pleasure, how would you describe yourself in 15 words or less?
Fearless. Not to say I’m never afraid. I just never let fear stop me.
Q. Some might say you are an enigma. You certainly don’t seem to fit into any one specific mould. Do you have an aversion to labels or is there some other reason you are the way you are? Do you enjoy standing out, being different/unique/original?
Dude, I’m just doing my own thing. I don’t like to overthink stuff. I go with the moment. What can I tell ya? – I’m a little bit of country, a little bit of rock and roll. (By way of Seattle).
Q. What did you think about Billy Kinsey when you first met him? And how has your opinon of him changed as you’ve gotten to know him?
I noticed him in class before I met him. This quiet kid with the birthmark on his face who never seemed to look at anybody. I was pretty surprised when he walked into the school principal’s office and all of a sudden introduced himself. Kinda ballsy. Definitly low key. I liked that. Course, once you get to know Billy you realize he’s about as low key as an air raid siren. It’s all just an act. Albert Einstein meets Robin Williams meets Mr. Hyde is inside, just waiting to bust out. Actually Billy’s lucky he met me. I just might redeem his ass.
Q. What has life been like for you while living with your grandmother? You have an interesting dynamic, to say the least. How would you describe your relationship?
Gramps (I call her that cause it really annoys her) is actually sort of okay for an alchoholic, chainsmoking, geriatric-wanna-be-Vegas showgirl. I mean, it can get sorta tiresome with her being one of those people who just cause they’re, like, ancient they think they’re entitled to an opinion. But you know what? She took me in when no one else was going to. She provides me with three squares a day. Sometimes evenings we sit around and watch TV together and she comes out with some pretty funny one liners that she doesn’t even know are funny. And one night when she was blasted, she actually told me she loved me. I think she meant it, so I told her I loved her too and she started to bawl and I had to hug her and everything and then she told me I was like my grandfather “who was a good man.” I can live with that.
Q. If you could have changed one thing that happened, or change one thing you did, or changed one thing about yourself, what would it be? Do you have any regrets? (And, no, I’m not asking you to reveal any spoilers.)
Big sigh, Dude. I honestly wish I’d never talked Billy into breaking into Montebello’s house. Maybe a lot of things would have been different if that hadn’t happened. Or maybe not. Maybe at the end of the day we all would have ended up in the same place anyway. Like Billy says – love your fate.
STEPHEN METCALFE wrote the production drafts for Pretty Woman, Dangerous Minds and Mr. Holland’s Opus, among others. His stage plays have been produced in New York and at theaters throughout the US, Europe and Japan.
He is an Associate Artist at The Old Globe Theatre in San Diego and has been an adjunct professor in dramatic writing at University of California at San Diego, University of San Diego and San Diego State University.
The Tragic Age is his debut novel.
I am offering up for giveaway a copy of THE TRAGIC AGE to ONE WINNER
Enter in the Rafflecopter below…
Feb. 2nd – The Reading Date – Spotlight + Giveaway
Feb. 3rd – KellyVision – Excerpt 1
Feb. 6th – Paperback Heart – Review + Giveaway
Feb. 7th – Amaterasu Reads – Excerpt 2 + Giveaway
Feb. 9th – Xpresso Reads – Playlist
Feb. 10th – The Young Folks – Excerpt 3
Feb. 11th – The O.W.L. – Review + Giveaway
Feb. 12th – Britt’s Book Blog – Interview + Review
Feb. 13th – Unbound Books – Excerpt 4
Feb. 14th – The Bookshelf – Review
Feb. 15th – Books and Whimsy – Excerpt 5
Feb. 17th – YA Love – Character Interview
Feb. 19th – Stories & Sweeties – Excerpt 6
Feb. 22nd – Word Spelunking – Review + Giveaway
Feb. 23rd – As I turn the pages – Excerpt 7
Feb. 24th – The Young Folks – Interview
Feb. 26th – Xpresso Reads – Review + Giveaway
Feb. 27th – Fiktshun – Character Interview
Feb. 28th – Novel Novice – Excerpt 8
I am super excited to be today’s stop on the GHOST HOUSE Blog Tour hosted by Kismet Book Touring and to be able to share an interview with Chloe Kennedy. I was so thrilled to learn of this new series by the author and was totally stoked that I got the chance to read this first book in the series just a little bit early and meet Chloe, Alex, Joe and even Isobel.
As I don’t want to give anything away about what happens at Grange Hall, I will try very hard not to ramble in this intro. I will just say that there were a few twists that I did not expect, a setting that was perfect for a ghost story, and two boys I adored. If you’d like to know more, be sure to check out the book’s description below and the Q&A with Chloe which follows below that.
GHOST HOUSE comes out next week on the 26th and I can’t wait to see what you think about the story and the way things end. But until then, there are (and will be) some awesome guest posts by and interviews with the author on the other stops on this tour. And at each stop there’s a giveaway for a chance to win a copy of the book and a grand prize giveaway for a bookish gift card. So be sure to visit all the stops on tour!
Series: The Ghost House Saga #1
Release date: August 26th
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Formats: Hardcover, audio, eBook
GHOST HOUSE, book one of a powerful new trilogy by New York Times bestselling author Alexandra Adornetto, follows Chloe Kennedy whose frightening ability to see the dead leads her into peril.
Wracked by grief after his wife’s death, Chloe’s dad sends her far away from sunny California to live with relatives in the rainy English countryside. Unhappy with the change of scenery, Chloe changes her mind when she encounters Alexander Reade, a mysterious and handsome young man. Unfortunately, Alexander is no ordinary crush – he’s a former resident of her grandmother’s house who died over a century ago and whose ghost has not moved on.
As a small child, Chloe had been frightened by ghostly apparitions. But the spirits had one day disappeared and Chloe believed she had put her weird talent behind her. Now she can not only see Alexander but talk to him, even touch him in her dreams. Their connection is immediate and intense, but when their budding relationship awakens a vengeful spirit, Chloe’s tangled emotions could have dangerous consequences. Will she be dragged forever into the world of the dead?
Alexandra Adornetto’s romantically eerie storytelling has a proven bestselling track record and this first book in the GHOST HOUSE trilogy does not disappoint, mixing scary supernatural situations with a heartbreaking love story!
Q. For those who haven’t met you how would you describe yourself in 15 words or less?
At this point in my life, I’d say nothing shocks me anymore. Go ahead, try…
Q. What was it like to discover that you were able to see ghosts? And what was it like when they started to reappear to you after having been gone from your life for ten years?
I never really “discovered” that I could see ghosts. They were always there, right from when I was a child and I sort of just accepted them. But as I got older, they started to scare me and my mom taught me how to block them with my mind. So the woman in the graveyard came as quite a shock, although I can’t say it doesn’t make sense. As soon as my mom was gone, they came back.
Q. How were you able to keep your secret from your friends for all those years?
It’s an easy secret to keep because no one else can see them! The only time it was tough, was if I saw a ghost and I happened to be with one of my friends. Then I had to act cool and pretend like nothing happened. But I wouldn’t trust my friends to keep the secret anyway. They might judge me or think I’m crazy or turn it into gossip. I don’t know how they’d react, but I don’t want to find out!
Q. After everything that has happened, do you wish you were never able to see spirits or are you glad you have that ability? And why?
Until I met Alex, I wished I was normal. I didn’t understand why I had this strange affliction and I would have traded places with anyone to be free of it. But Alex taught me that the dead might not be with us physically anymore, but they’re still people with complex thoughts and feelings and emotions. He taught me that love doesn’t distinguish between life and death. There’s a reason I am this way. I don’t know exactly what my purpose is right now, but I know one day I can use this gift for good.
Q. It was quite a shock when you discovered that your Gran had arranged for you and your brother to stay with her at her home in England. How did you feel about going? And did your feelings change about being there after having met Alexander Reade?
England was the last place I wanted to go. I wasn’t particularly close with Grandma Fee and I didn’t want to leave my home. But in hindsight, it wasn’t a home anymore without my mom. Alex, of course, impacted heavily on my feelings about Grange Hall. No one I know has suffered more loss than him and he helped me cope with my own grief, by getting me to understand that just because a person is gone from this world, doesn’t mean they aren’t close-by.
Q. Speaking of Alex, can you tell us a little but about him and what you think of him?
Alex is very beautiful but in a way that doesn’t seem real. He’s like a painting come to life and you’re constantly wondering if he’ll fade away when you turn your back. But he’s so much more than that. His mind is fascinating. He’s had a century and a half to observe human behavior and so he is is constantly evolving. He has known great love and great loss and I feel like I could tell him anything.
Q. If you had any moment to do over what would it be – and why – or do you have no regrets?
Although it was a transcendent moment in my life, looking back on it I shouldn’t have kissed Alex on the night of the Winter Ball. I wasn’t thinking and it was my fault that Joe got hurt. I knew what Isobel was capable of and I let my own selfish desires get the better of me. My friend could have died and I wouldn’t have been able to live with that.
Q. If you could share one secret about what you discovered or experienced at Grange Hall, what would it be?
Death is not final.
Alexandra Adornetto started writing at a very young age, with her first novel being released when she was only thirteen. A native of Australia, Alexandra moved to the US to study at the University of Mississippi. She is currently living in Hollywood and working on a number of film projects, both as a writer and an actress.
GHOST HOUSE is Alexandra’s seventh published novel and the first book in what will become her third trilogy. The first two novels of her beloved Halo series both debuted on the New York Times bestseller list and her books are sold in more than 25 countries worldwide.
This tour includes an couple of awesome giveaways.
Giveaway is US/Canada.
Enter in the Rafflecopter below…
Monday, August 11th – Our Wolves Den – Guest Post
Wednesday, August 13th – Xpresso Reads – Author Interview
Friday, August 15th – Swoony Boys Podcast – Guest Post
Monday, August 18th – Fiktshun – Character Interview (Chloe)
Wednesday, August 20th – Candace’s Book Blog – Guest Post
Friday, August 22nd – This Girl Reads a Lot – Author Interview
Monday, August 25th – Parajunkee - Guest Post
Wednesday, August 27th – Bo-ok Nerd – Author Interview
Friday, August 29th – Book Briefs – Guest Post
I am so excited to be able to share this interview I conducted with Tavia Michaels for the EARTHQUAKE Blog Tour. While my post for the tour changed to a review, I love that I still get to share what Tavia and I talked about last month.
I love, love, LOVE this series and its characters. I’m dying to read the next book, which Tavia hints at in the interview. And for those of you who haven’t yet met her (or those who have, but haven’t yet gotten a chance to read this sequel) I’m offering up a copy of either of the books in this series for giveaway.
If you haven’t read EARTHBOUND you may want to skip this interview and just read the one I conducted with Tavia last year, which is linked in the intro below, as there are some very minor spoilers about a certain character. But if you don’t mind a little tease about what happens in EARTHQUAKE or what is to come in the third book, then you won’t want to miss it.
If I wasn’t already dying to have the next book in hand, I would be now.
Anyway… enough of my rambling. I’ve already gushed about this book, this series and this author. Let me avoid redundancy and stop so that you can check out the interview.
Hi Tavia, I’m so excited to welcome you back to the blog this year and to be able to ask a few questions that I didn’t get the chance to ask when you stopped by last August.
I tried to be somewhat cryptic with my questions in case not everyone who stopped by got the chance to meet you. But I thought that now, after all this time has passed, it might be okay to ask you just a few questions that might require more detailed answers.
Q. What was it like having discovered you’re an Earthbound and that you have powers to remake the earth?
Blew. My. Mind. I was barely coming to terms with the fact that I was alive and (mostly) functioning. But it’s a strange blend of exciting and devastating because … well, the truth is, a lot of people are dead because of what I am. I hope I can make up for that.
Q. Knowing how complicated your life has been and continues to be, do you ever just wish you were normal? And if so, what would your ideal “normal” be?
Yes and no. It’s incredibly stressful and full of pressure to be who I am. But if I weren’t, well, the entire world would be doomed. I’m glad that someone is what I am, but the truth is, I’d rather it wasn’t me.
Normal? Wow. What is normal? Normal is Michigan. Life before the plane crash. And certainly before this whole Earthbound mess. But I guess normal also means ignorant of my true nature. And it’s hard to wish for that. Even if it would be wonderful.
Q. If you could go back and change anything about your situation, about yourself, or about what happened with Benson or with Logan, would you? And what would you change and why?
I’m big on truth and knowledge. And that’s the one thing I wish I could change. I met both Logan (Quinn) and Benson and under completely false pretenses. I didn’t actually know who or what either of them was in the beginning. And while I’m glad I know the truth now, I wish I could have known from the beginning.
Q. What is your favorite memory of Logan – past or present – and why is it a favorite?
The memory that I have of Logan simply coming home to our cabin one day—the one that I saw right when I realized who I was, or used to be—that’s described in the first book is my favorite memory. Partly because it was sweet and romantic, but also because it’s such a clear memory. And so few of my memories are. I like it so much I kind of play with it in the next book.
Q. I’ve heard that we get to learn a little bit more about both the Curatoria and the Reduciata. Without revealing too much, is there anything you can say about both factions? Is there more than meets the eye with both? Is there one you feel like you can trust more than the other?
Even though the words came from Quinn’s diary, I feel like they’re my opinion—both now and in my past—as well. “Trust ye the Curatoria but tenuously, and the Reduciata not at all.” I think of the Curatoria as the lesser of two evils, but if Sammi and Mark didn’t trust them, I certainly don’t either.
Readers will learn a lot about both brotherhoods in this next book. And just like me, I’m not sure they’re going to like what they discover.
Q. What has it been like being around Logan without him having any idea of who you are or having any memories of your past? And is he any different from the boy you used to know?
It’s torturous!! I expected this to be easy, and it has been anything but. It would actually be fun to slowly explore each other and start a brand-new relationship and not worry too much about when the memories came back. But I don’t have the luxury of time. Every minute that passes our lives are in even greater danger. And that’s without taking into consideration how heart-breaking it is.
Q. Is there anyone new we get to meet that we should keep an eye out for? If so, who are they and why should we look for them?
In this next book you’re going to see Earthbound using their abilities in ways I never even considered. Helping humanity and working to redeem themselves from their curse. Secretly, of course. Keep a particular eye out for Audra. And watch out for Alanna.
Q. In fifteen words or less, can you give us a hint as to what we can expect from this next chapter in your life?
Huge discoveries, secrets revealed, disaster is imminent, and it’s all up to me.
Series: Earthbound #2
Author: Aprilynne Pike
Release date: July 8, 2014
Formats: Hardcover, audio, eBook
Tavia Michaels has discovered that she’s an Earthbound—a fallen goddess with the power to remake the Earth—and that a rival faction of Earthbounds, the Reduciata, has created a virus that is literally wiping swaths of the planet out of existence.
Tavia is captured and imprisoned before she can act on this information, along with her eternal lover, Logan. Huddled in a claustrophobic cell, they lose track of the days, their attempts to escape proving as ephemeral as Tavia’s newly gestating powers. But then Tavia and Logan are mysteriously rescued. . . .
They’re brought to the underground headquarters of the Curatoria, another group of Earthbounds that Tavia doesn’t fully trust. There, she’s told that she can save the Earth before it disappears. She agrees.
Tavia quickly realizes that she isn’t like other Earthbound, and as her abilities continue to awaken, they begin to threaten her centuries-long relationship with Logan. When Benson—Tavia’s former best friend and romantic interest—appears at Curatoria headquarters, Tavia will again have to make a choice about who to be with even as she tries to stop the virus that is destroying the world and uncover the truth about the two Earthbound organizations that have her tangled up in their webs.
Series: Earthbound #1
Author: Aprilynne Pike
Release date: July 30, 2013 (PB released June 17, 2014)
Formats: Hardcover, paperback, audio, eBook
Tavia Michaels is the sole survivor of the plane crash that killed her parents. When she starts to see strange visions of a boy she’s never spoken with in real life, she begins to suspect that there’s much about her past that she isn’t being told.
Tavia immediately searches for answers, desperate to determine why she feels so drawn to a boy she hardly knows. But when Tavia discovers that the aunt and uncle who took her in after her parents’ death may have actually been responsible for the plane crash that killed them–and that she may have been the true intended victim–she flees for the safety of Camden, Maine, where the boy she sees in her visions instructs her to go.
Now, Tavia is on the run with no one to trust. No one, that is, except for her best friend and longtime crush, Benson.
Tavia feels torn between the boy who mysteriously comes to her at night and the boy who has been by her side every step of the way. But what Tavia doesn’t know is that the world is literally falling apart and that to save it she will have to unite with the boy in her visions. Only problem? To do so would mean rejecting Benson’s love. And that’s the one thing Tavia Michaels swore she’d never do.
Aprilynne Pike has been spinning faerie stories since she was a child with a hyper-active imagination. At the age of twenty she received her BA in Creative Writing from Lewis-Clark State College in Lewiston, Idaho. When not writing, Aprilynne can usually be found at the gym; she also enjoys singing, acting, reading, and working with pregnant moms as a childbirth educator and doula. Aprilynne currently lives with her husband and three kids in Utah, and dreams of warmer climates.
Aprilynne Pike’s #1 New York Times best-selling debut, WINGS, is the first of four books about a seemingly ordinary girl with a not-so-ordinary destiny. In this tale of magic and intrigue, romance and danger, everything you thought you knew about faeries will be changed forever…
I am giving away a copy of either EARTHBOUND or EARTHQUAKE to ONE WINNER
Enter in the Rafflecopter below…
I am so unbelievably excited to be today’s stop on the GRADUATION DAY Blog Tour. I love this series and while I’m so sad that it ends with this book, I can’t wait for GRADUATION DAY to be released so that I can discuss the ending with everyone.
It may have been a while since I read this last book in the series, but I can’t forget how everything went down. It was just that awesome.
And what’s also awesome is the fact that I got the chance to interview Author Joelle Charbonneau and Character Cia Vale for my stop today. I loved learning which book was the author’s favorite to write. I really loved hearing about the different themes for each book. And I loved getting to ask Cia many of the questions I had for her.
The Testing Trilogy is one of my favorite dystopian series. Each book brought something new. Each book was unputdownable. And each book really made me think.
So if you haven’t yet discovered this series, be sure to check out each book’s description a bit further down in the post. And if you’d like to know just a little bit more about the series from the author and from Cia, the interviews follow immediately below.
This tour also includes the chance to win all the books in this series, so if you don’t yet have them, just follow the instructions in the Rafflecopter for the chance to win.
Q. Of the three full-length books in the series, which was your favorite to write? And why? Your most challenging? And why?
Wow…that’s a tough question since I loved writing each story for a different reason. I think my favorite to write was THE TESTING because I was telling the story just for me. I never really thought about whether the book would be published. Up until that book, I’d only written contemporary set books. So I was terrified and thrilled to be creating a brand new work for my characters to live in. The most challenging to write has to be GRADUATION DAY, mostly because I don’t write with an outline. I am surprised by every turn of the story and don’t really know where it is going until I get there. So GRADUATION DAY scared me a bit because I wasn’t sure if all the pieces would fall into place the way I hoped. I had a lot of ideas I wanted to do justice to and I hope readers like where Cia ends up by the final page.
Q. While the overarching story flows beautifully as the series progresses from one book to the next, each book feels distinctly different, bringing something new to each reading experience. When writing the series, had you planned for each book to offer up something different – setting, characters, pace, tone? Or did the different characters and the story’s direction develop as you were writing?
The one thing I knew going into writing this series is the theme I wanted each book to follow. For THE TESTING I wanted to create the world’s worst college admission process. I wanted to look at the tests that our students go through (which are terrible now) and decide how society would have to be changed in order to make those test even more demanding with much higher stakes. INDEPENDENT STUDY was about going to college and how no one knows your past. They don’t know the mistakes you have made or judge you on that. They only know you for who you are now, which is someone who has an idea about how the world works and what place you want to hold it in. While at college, students learn more about the wider world around them and often have to decide if what they really wanted to do with their lives is actually the future they wish to have. And GRADUATION DAY is about how graduation doesn’t make you an adult and how elections aren’t what make leaders. Becoming an adult is about stepping up and saying you are ready to make tough choices just as leaders are people to step forward and do what is necessary even when it is hard. Beyond that I hadn’t a clue where the story would go. But I can say that I loved every minute of the journey.
Q. Toward the end of INDEPENDENT STUDY you introduced a bit of a jaw-dropper. Without revealing just what that was, did you always intend for what happened to happen? Had you imagined other possibilities.
Ha! Yeah – there is a bit of a cliffhanger at the end of INDEPENDENT STUDY. Sorry about that! Actually, there are several turns at the end of that book that I didn’t see coming. Each turn took me down a road that was unexpected and ultimately very exciting for me to explore. I actually had imagined the story going in a more traditional dystopian path with the typical rebellion and a larger physical conflict occurring in the United Commonwealth. And yet once I saw the story going in a different direction I was excited to embrace it and see where it took me.
Q. You created a number of complex characters in The Testing Trilogy, many of whom had secret motivations, goals and pasts. Who would you say was your most complex character – Cia? Will? Raffe? Tomas? Dr. Barnes? President Collindar? Someone else?
This is an awesome question. You know, I think there are very few people who see things in all black or white. Most people think in shades of gray. I hope that comes through in THE TESTING and especially in the characters of Will and Dr. Barnes. I think they are two of the most layered and complex characters in the series and were a wonderful challenge to write.
Q. If readers could take one thing away from having read this series, what would you like that to be?
I really want people to walk away with the idea that no test can ever define someone’s potential. Nothing limits a person when they are passionate about what they are doing. And anyone who says that how you perform on a test or deal with something on a specific day defines who you are and what you are capable of is wrong.
Q. Thinking back to that very first day you found out you were chosen for The Testing, would you ever have imagined how different an experience that, and every day since, was? Knowing what you know now, would you have gone ahead with The Testing anyway?
I thought I knew what The Testing would be like or how my life would go. I mean, it was such a dream to go to the University so I could learn enough to help our country move forward and become stronger. I never understood how much stronger I would need to be both physically and mentally to not only pass the test, but to survive. If I had known…I’d like to say that I would have still worked hard to be selected for The Testing. I’d like to believe that if I knew then what I know now I would want to still work hard to change things for the better. But I just don’t know.
Q. Both you and Tomas did things during The Testing that are difficult to live with, but yet without having gone through them you might not have been able to do what you needed to do when everything went down. Would you have preferred not to have done them? Or do you think those experiences were necessary in order to do what needed to be done?
I really hate thinking about the things that we’ve done, but if I hadn’t experienced the things I did in The Testing, I would never have been able to face the choices that I’m having to deal with now. Which is scary because it makes me wonder if that is what The Testing is really for. If it is…it worked. What does that mean?
Q. By remembering (and being told by you) what happened during The Testing, your experiences post-testing were very different than they might have been had you been completely in the dark. Do you at all miss the future you might have had? Do you think everything would have ended up where it did without your involvement in the mix?
It’s hard to miss what I have never had. But I do wonder. And while it would be nice to think that everything is the way I once imagined, I realize that if I was allowed to live that life, it would be an illusion. I guess that makes knowing that it will never happen a little easier to accept.
Q. For those who don’t yet know what happens next, can you give a hint about what may be on the horizon?
Hopefully, most people in the Commonwealth will never know what happens next. But for those who wonder…well, I have some tough choices to make. I used to think that deciding between what is right and wrong was easier to do. But I’m learning that it is harder than I ever imaged and if I want to step up and become a leader I have to test those who I want to help me the same way Dr. Barnes tested me.
Q. For those who may not already have met him, what do you think of Raffe? Do you think he can be trusted? Do you see him as a friend? An ally? A threat?
Raffe is smart. Really smart. And driven. He’s driven by something I don’t understand, but I respect the passion I see in his eyes. It’s compelling. I hope to at some point to get to know him better. Really get to know him. Can he be trusted? If this was The Testing I would say yes. I trusted easier then. But I think that I might have to trust him. I want him to be an ally, but I know that wanting something doesn’t always make it true. Which means he might still have more to prove before I am certain he is on my side.
Q. Do you think there’s a happily ever after in your future with Tomas? Do you even think that a happy ending is possible for anyone who’d been through The Testing?
I don’t know if Tomas and I will have a future. I hope so, but Tomas has lots of choices he has to make about his future. I may not love the choices that are in front of me, but I believe in our country. I want the best for my family, my friends and everyone that I’ve met….whether I like them or not. I can’t turn away from them.
Q. What is your biggest hope for the future of the United Commonwealth? Of Tosu City? Five Lakes?
I hope we can find a way to move forward – all of us – together. There is so much good that has been done. More than anything I want us to build on all the good things and learn from the mistakes we’ve made. Then those who have died won’t have died without cause. I want them to matter – because they do.
Series: The Testing #3
Release date: June 17, 2014
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Formats: Hardcover, eBook
In book three of the Testing series, the United Commonwealth wants to eliminate the rebel alliance fighting to destroy The Testing for good. Cia is ready to lead the charge, but will her lethal classmates follow her into battle?
She wants to put an end to the Testing
In a scarred and brutal future, The United Commonwealth teeters on the brink of all-out civil war. The rebel resistance plots against a government that rules with cruelty and cunning. Gifted student and Testing survivor, Cia Vale, vows to fight.
But she can’t do it alone.
This is the chance to lead that Cia has trained for – but who will follow? Plunging through layers of danger and deception, Cia must risk the lives of those she loves–and gamble on the loyalty of her lethal classmates.
Who can Cia trust?
The stakes are higher than ever-lives of promise cut short or fulfilled; a future ruled by fear or hope–in the electrifying conclusion to Joelle Charbonneau’s epic Testing trilogy. Ready or not…it’s Graduation Day.
The Final Test is the Deadliest!
Ever since I can remember I loved telling stories. As I grew up, I started performing those stories on the stage. Creating vivid characters and singing wonderfully complex songs were my passion. I graduated from Millikin University with a Bachelors Degree in Vocal Performance and then continued onto DePaul University for my Masters Degree in Opera Performance. From there I went onto perform across the Chicagoland area in a variety of Operas, Operettas and Musicals. I also started teaching acting classes and private voice lessons to pass my passion along to the next generation.
Not exactly the path you’d expect a writer to take.
I’d never dreamed of writing a novel. But I loved to read. Then one day I had an idea and I started to write. I found my passion for creating characters lived on the page as well as the stage. It is my hope that the characters I’ve created resonate with you and make you smile.
I still teach voice lessons and sing for the occasional professional event. But the rest of my time is spent with my husband and son while dreaming up new and interesting stories. I hope that someday I hear yours.
It’s an honor to be chosen for The Testing. But it’s not enough to pass The Testing. Cia will have to survive it.
The Testing Guide is the short story prequel to The Testing, the first novel in the stunning and epic Testing Trilogy.
Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Isn’t that what they say? But how close is too close when they may be one in the same?
The Seven Stages War left much of the planet a charred wasteland. The future belongs to the next generation’s chosen few who must rebuild it. But to enter this elite group, candidates must first pass The Testing—their one chance at a college education and a rewarding career.
Cia Vale is honored to be chosen as a Testing candidate; eager to prove her worthiness as a University student and future leader of the United Commonwealth. But on the eve of her departure, her father’s advice hints at a darker side to her upcoming studies–trust no one.
But surely she can trust Tomas, her handsome childhood friend who offers an alliance? Tomas, who seems to care more about her with the passing of every grueling (and deadly) day of the Testing. To survive, Cia must choose: love without truth or life without trust.
In the series debut The Testing, sixteen-year-old Cia Vale was chosen by the United Commonwealth government as one of the best and brightest graduates of all the colonies . . . a promising leader in the effort to revitalize postwar civilization.
In Independent Study, Cia is a freshman at the University in Tosu City with her hometown sweetheart, Tomas—and though the government has tried to erase her memory of the brutal horrors of The Testing, Cia remembers. Her attempts to expose the ugly truth behind the government’s murderous programs put her—and her loved ones—in a world of danger. But the future of the Commonwealth depends on her.
This tour includes an awesome tour-wide giveaway for…
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June 9th – Nightly Reading – Review
June 10th – The Book Cellar – Guest Post
June 11th – Curling Up With A Good Book – Review
June 12th – Fiktshun – Author and Character Interviews
June 13th – Magna Maniac Cafe – Review
June 16th – Magical Urban Fantasy Reads – Guest Post
June 17th – K-Books – Review
June 18th – Tales of the Ravenous Reader – Interview
June 19th – Parajunkee’s View – Spotlight
June 20th – Two Chicks on Books – Guest Post
I am absolutely thrilled to be kicking off THE STEPSISTER’S TALE Blog Tour hosted by Kismet Book Touring, with an interview with Jane Montjoy – the eldest stepsister. The Grimm’s Fairy Tales are my very most favorite childhood stories, and the Cinderella story is one I have always loved. So I was so excited to read Tracy Barrett’s version of the story, one that not only tells things from one of the “evil” stepsister’s point’s of view, but which casts a different light on the classic tale.
I absolutely adored THE STEPSISTER’S TALE. I loved getting to know Jane, her sister Maude, their mother Lady Margaret, and Will, the woodcutter’s son. And I even grew to like Ella.
I loved the voice this story was told in. It had an authenticity to it that made it feel very much like those fairytales of old. And I loved how many elements of the original that were woven in with a bit of a twist.
As my stop is not a review stop, I won’t go on and on about how much I enjoyed reading it or how much I loved how the author changed things up as regards the Prince. But I will just say that it was a delightful read and one that both paid homage to and was a marvelous retelling of a beloved classic.
In addition to the very awesome interview I conducted with Jane Montjoy, there are some fabulous prizes being offered for giveaway – a copy of the book and swag, as well as a tour-wide grand prize package.
First, though, is some information about the book on tour – which releases on June 24th – along with a few of the places you can find it online.
Release date: June 24, 2014
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Formats: Hardcover, audio, eBook
What really happened after the clock struck midnight?
Jane Montjoy is tired of being a lady. She’s tired of pretending to live up to the standards of her mother’s noble family-especially now that the family’s wealth is gone and their stately mansion has fallen to ruin. It’s hard enough that she must tend to the animals and find a way to feed her mother and her little sister each day. Jane’s burden only gets worse after her mother returns from a trip to town with a new stepfather and stepsister in tow. Despite the family’s struggle to prepare for the long winter ahead, Jane’s stepfather remains determined to give his beautiful but spoiled child her every desire.
When her stepfather suddenly dies, leaving nothing but debts and a bereaved daughter behind, it seems to Jane that her family is destined for eternal unhappiness. But a mysterious boy from the woods and an invitation to a royal ball are certain to change her fate…
From the handsome prince to the evil stepsister, nothing is quite as it seems in Tracy Barrett’s stunning retelling of the classic Cinderella tale.
Q. For those who haven’t yet met you could you please tell us a little bit more about yourself and what life was like for you growing up in Halsey Hall with your sister Maude and your mother, Lady Margaret Halsey?
It’s hard to answer this question without sounding like I’m whining or complaining, and Mamma always tells us that ladies don’t complain. But I’ll try. We live in a very old, very beautiful house on grounds that used to be landscaped and planted with every kind of flower you can imagine. At least that’s what Mamma tells us. I don’t remember when the house was in good repair—the staircase is falling down and there’s mold everywhere. Mice live in our ballroom and there’s so much dust that if we stir it up by walking through the corridors my sister, Maude, sneezes until she can hardly talk. The once-landscaped grounds have gone back to the wild, except for a small area where our animals graze. But Mamma says we’re still important people and we have to maintain appearances, so I don’t think I should talk about how things have fallen apart.
Q. Even before your father’s passing, things were difficult. Did you ever wish that your mother would give up her family home, stop putting on airs, and try to live a more simple, comfortable life?
I can’t imagine Mamma living a simple life! She’s Lady Margaret Halsey, and her family was the most important in the area for a long, long time. But yes, I do wish we could live more simply. This house is so huge that it seems like we can never heat it enough to stay warm in the winter (especially because Maude and I are the ones who have to cut the wood) and if we could do some work to earn money, the way most people do, we might be able to buy things that we can’t grow or make ourselves. But grand folks like the Halseys and the Montjoys can’t labor like most people.
Q. Which of the stories your mother tells about her youth is your favorite and why?
My favorite story that Mamma tells is about the way she and Papa met. Mamma was riding her horse, Saladin, in a hunt. One of the other hunters, a young man, was looking for a way around a high fence. Mamma laughed and made Sal jump over it instead of going around and the other hunter was embarrassed that he was afraid to go over a fence that a girl had cleared, so he rode his horse at it. But at the last moment the horse balked and the man went flying over his head and landed in mud. Mamma felt bad that she had caused his accident so she helped him up and took him to Halsey Hall and had the servants clean him up. By the time he left, she says, she knew that was the man he was going to marry. And he was.
Q. What was it like when Isabella and her father Harry first moved in? Were you jealous of Isabella and all that she had or did you really want to try to make her a part of the family?
I don’t really know how to describe how I felt when Isabella and her father moved in. It had never occurred to me that Mamma would ever marry anyone, and when she brought home a new husband and a beautiful stepsister I didn’t know what to think. Was I jealous? I don’t know. Envious, maybe. I wanted nice clothes that I didn’t have to mend and nice things to eat, but I didn’t like the idea of being lazy and having people wait on me.
Q. Isabella called you and your sister ugly and your mother a wicked stepmother. As it seems to be so far from the truth, why do you think she said that? And how would you describe her?
At the time that Isabella said that, I thought she was just evil. Now that I know her better, I think she was as confused and frightened as Maude and I were—maybe more so. Ella didn’t know any better than we did that her father was going to marry Mamma. And at least I had Maude to talk to. Isabella didn’t have anyone. Her father was just as bad as Mamma at pretending that everything was fine, and when she tried to talk to him he didn’t really listen. How would I describe her at that time? Beautiful, of course, but also spoiled, mean, selfish, lazy. How would I describe her now? She’s still beautiful and I guess she’s still spoiled, but I’ve grown to like her. I don’t love her like a sister, but she’s my best friend aside from Maude.
Q. If you could have traded places with Isabella would you? And why/why not?
I don’t think I would have traded places with Isabella. She seemed sad all the time. If I’d had all the nice things she did, I would have been happier, and I certainly would have been more generous than she was.
Q. What is it about the people of the woods that is so frightening?
The woods are dangerous; there’s just no way around that. The wild animals there kill people every year. A boar is so ferocious that when people hunt them, the boar-spear has a cross-piece on it because if the hunter sticks the spear into the boar it will run up the spear and attack the hunter with the whole length of the spear in his body! There are outlaws—mostly men who wear green to blend in with the trees—and although the sheriff tries his best to catch them, they mostly get away. There are also fairies who steal people and take them to the other world. I’ve never seen a boar or a Green Man or a fairy, but I know people who have. So people who live in the forest must be dangerous themselves, or they’d be afraid of all those wild things.
Q. Is there anything you can tell us about Will?
Will is a lot like me. He works hard and cares about his family. He’s pretty quiet, though, which I don’t think I am, and he’s quick to take offense. He’s very proud and it’s hard for him to admit that he was wrong. But he’s also brave and takes risks to help other people. Come to think of it, we’re alike in almost every way!
Q. What do you really think about the Prince?
If I said what I really thought about the prince and he found out, I could be in real trouble. Can I skip this one, please?
Q. Before Harry and Isabella entered your life, what would have been your happily ever after? And without revealing too much, could you tell us whether that dream has changed?
Once upon a time my happily ever after would have been very simple. All I wanted before Isabella joined our family was to be able to relax. I don’t mean physically, so much, although that would have been nice too. I mean I would have liked not to have to worry so much about Mamma and Maude. If I hadn’t made Maude do her chores and if I hadn’t kept on top of the cheesemaking and woodcutting and housecleaning, I think we would have starved or frozen to death. I don’t want to say anything bad about Mamma—she did what she could—but I have to admit that sometimes I felt just a bit resentful that it was up to me to keep everything together. Has my dream changed? Well, yes. Now I have everything I could ever have wished for.
Tracy Barrett is the author of numerous books and magazine articles for young readers.
She holds a Bachelor’s Degree with honors in Classics-Archaeology from Brown University and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Medieval Italian Literature from the University of California, Berkeley. Her scholarly interests in the ancient and medieval worlds overlap in her fiction and nonfiction works.
A grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to study medieval women writers led to the writing of her award-winning young-adult novel, Anna of Byzantium (Delacorte). Her most recent publications are King of Ithaka, a young-adult novel based on Homer’s Odyssey; and the fourth book in The Sherlock Files, The Missing Heir (both Henry Holt). In September, Harcourt will publisher her young-adult retelling of the myth of the Minotaur, Dark of the Moon.
From 1999 to 2009 Tracy Barrett was the Regional Advisor for the Midsouth (Tennessee and Kentucky) with the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. She is now SCBWI’s Regional Advisor Coordinator.
Tracy has taught courses on writing for children and on children’s literature at various institutions and frequently makes presentations to groups of students, librarians, teachers, and others.
For an example of Tracy’s presentations at writers’ conferences, please see this article from Clarksville Online.
She occasionally manages to combine her two “lives” as in her presentation at a conference on the Classics in children’s literature in Wales in July, 2009.
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Monday, June 9th – Fiktshun – Character Interview
Tuesday, June 10th – Harlequin Blog – Author Interview
Wednesday, June 11th – Xpresso Reads – Guest Post
Friday, June 13th – About to Read – Guest Post
Monday, June 16th – The Irish Banana – Author Interview
Tuesday, June 17th – On the Verge – Author Interview
Wednesday, June 18th – Refracted Light Reviews – Guest Post
Friday, June 20th – The Book Cellar – Guest Post