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    MECHANICA Blog Tour: Interview with Betsy Cornwell + Giveaway


    Hey everyone! The wait is almost over – MECHANICA releases tomorrow and I’m so excited for everyone to get their hands on a copy of this wonderful and imaginative book with its gorgeous writing, its fascinating and adorable characters, and its absolutely brilliant take on the Cinderella story.

    I’m also thrilled to be able to share an interview with MECHANICA’s incredibly talented and amazing author, Betsy Cornwell, in which I ask her about reinventing the classic fairytale, about Nicolette’s mechanical menagerie and favorite inventions, and who her favorite secondary characters were, along with a few quickie questions.

    The interview follows below the book’s details, so be sure to check it out. And be sure to check out Betsy Cornwell’s website – and other social media sites – to learn more about the author and her writing.

    The tour continues through the end of the week. So if you’d like to see what other bloggers have to say about MECHANICA or to read a few guest posts and interviews, scroll down to the tour schedule at the end of the post which has links to all the stops.

    And if you’d like the chance to win some fab prizes, including a copy of MECHANICA, enter in the Rafflecopter.



    Add to Goodreads

    Title: MECHANICA
    Author: Betsy Cornwell
    Release date: August 25, 2015
    Publisher: Clarion Books
    Pages: 320
    Formats: Hardcover, eBook


    Nicolette’s awful stepsisters call her “Mechanica” to demean her, but the nickname fits: she learned to be an inventor at her mother’s knee. Her mom is gone now, though, and the Steps have turned her into a servant in her own home.

    But on her sixteenth birthday, Nicolette discovers a secret workshop in the cellar and begins to dare to imagine a new life for herself. Could the mysterious books and tools hidden there—and the mechanical menagerie, led by a tiny metal horse named Jules—be the key to escaping her dreary existence? With a technological exposition and royal ball on the horizon, the timing might just be perfect for Nicolette to earn her freedom at last.

    Gorgeous prose and themes of social justice and family shine in this richly imagined Cinderella retelling about an indomitable inventor who finds her prince . . . but realizes she doesn’t want a fairy tale happy ending after all.


    The Interview

    Q&A with Betsy Cornwell

    Q. What did you enjoy most about reinventing the Cinderella story? What did you find to be the most challenging aspect?

    I first wrote Mechanica as part of a collection of fairy tale retellings for a senior project at Smith College, back in 2009. I was thinking a lot about how restrictive fairy tale structure actually is: they’re these elegant, perfectly plotted stories, but they all pull inexorably toward one narrow definition of happily ever after. Cinderella in particular is like a well-oiled machine, such a compelling  story that some version of it exists on every continent where humans live (and hey, probably where we don’t–it’s that universal).

    A steampunk Cinderella, I thought, would want to reach into the machinations of her own story, revamp and repurpose her fate. She’d force her way out of any restrictive ending that wasn’t quite right, and she’d build something new, exciting, and entirely on her own terms. That’s when I fell in love with the idea of a steampunk inventor Cinderella with an unconventional ending, and my protagonist, Nicolette, was born.

    It was supposed to be only a ten-page short story, but six years and 300 pages later, here we are! Sometimes I thought I’d never actually finish writing it; that was probably the hardest part. But now I’ve actually held the book in my hands, and I can’t tell you how amazing that feels.

    Q. Nicolette is an inventor – what are some of her favorite or most interesting inventions?

    There’s no fairy godmother in Mechanica (she’s absent from lots of older versions of the tale, too), so Nicolette does for herself: when she decides she wants to go to the royal Exhibition of Art and Science and its accompanying ball, she builds her own mechanical carriage, and even crafts working shoes from glass and interlocking gears, in order to get herself there in style.

    Her mother was an inventor as well, and she left behind a whole menagerie of mechanical insects, spiders and other animals. Nick adds to that collection, too, and I loved writing about tiny steampunk creatures.

    Q. How did you come up with the idea for a mechanical menagerie? And who are your favorite creations?

    Modern-day versions of Cinderella sort of live in the shadow of the 1950 Disney movie, and those mouse and bird helpers are (of course) seriously adorable. But older versions of Cinderella have animal helpers, too: birds help her with her stepmother’s litany of impossible chores, and sometimes they even take revenge against the evil stepsisters by pecking out their eyes! Many versions also include the influence of Cinderella’s late mother, who even speaks to her daughter through animals.

    So giving my Cinderella a menagerie was a natural part of creating the story. I made them mechanical beings powered by magic Ashes as a homage to those ‘cinders’ that gave Cinderella her name, and as a way to combine steampunk elements with fairy tale magic. There’s also a mystery tied to the Ashes that I hope to explain if I get to write a sequel!

    My favorite member of the menagerie by far is the tiny clockwork horse Jules, who leads a host of mechanical insects in helping Nicolette with her chores.

    Q. Who was your favorite secondary character to write about in MECHANICA – and why? And who was your least favorite secondary character to write about – and why?

    My favorite has to be a tie between Jules, the mechanical horse I mentioned earlier, and Caro, Nicolette’s new best friend. Like Nick, Caro’s a maker: she builds intricate music boxes and sells them at the city market to help support her sick mother and her abundance of younger siblings and cousins, all of whom work at the royal palace. I loved writing Caro because she is extremely warm, effusive, and affectionate–exactly the traits introverted, lonely Nick needs in a best friend. I didn’t know she would be in the story at all until she just popped up when I wrote the first Market scene, but in some ways she’s now the heart of the whole book.

    I don’t think I have a least favorite. Even the evil Steps were fun to write!

    Quickie Questions

    Q. Fairy-tales: Disney or Grimm?

    • Grimm! Disney is fun, but give me unsettling and eerie any day.

    Q. Prince Charmings or Evil Queens?

    • Evil Queens 5ever!

    Q. “And so they lived happily ever after” or happily never after?

    • HEAs are cool with me, as long as they’re not limited to marrying a prince.

    Q. Snow White or Sleeping Beauty?

    • Snow White, for her forest creature employment skills and mori-kei style.

    Q. Glass slipper or awakened with a kiss?

    • Glass slipper! No dubious consent + they’re magically comfortable and made to order. (Mechanica’s are custom-engineered by the inventor herself.)

    About Betsy Cornwell

    Betsy Cornwell

    Betsy Cornwell is an American writer and teacher living in a stove-heated cottage in west Ireland, together with her horse trainer spouse, a small herd of dairy goats, and an increasing number of other animals. She writes fiction and nonfiction and blogs about Irish folklore, travel, wild food, goats (of course!), homesteading, and growing up. 


    The Giveaway


    There is a tour-wide giveaway for…

    • ONE (1) winner will receive a finished copy of MECHANICA + a beautiful watch necklace from this etsy shop – US only
    • TWO (2) winners will receive a finished copy of MECHANICA – US Only

    Enter in the Rafflecopter below…

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    The Tour Schedule

    Week One

    Week Two



    Review: Illuminate

    Illuminate Cover

    ILLUMINATE by Aimee Agresti was released in the U.S. on March 6, 2012 in hardcover and eBook formats. It is currently available to order online in both formats at AMAZON and BARNES & NOBLE.

    Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, the print edition is 528 pages.

    ILLUMINATE is the first book in author Aimee Agresti’s Gilded Wings series. The second book in the series, INFATUATE, is slated for release on March 5, 2013.



    Haven Terra is a brainy, shy high school outcast. But everything begins to change when she turns sixteen. Along with her best friend Dante and their quiet and brilliant classmate Lance, she is awarded a prestigious internship in the big city— Chicago—and is sent to live and work at a swanky and stylish hotel under the watchful eyes of a group of gorgeous and shockingly young-looking strangers: powerful and alluring hotel owner Aurelia Brown; her second-in-command, the dashing Lucian Grove; and their stunning but aloof staff of glamazons called The Outfit.

    As Haven begins falling for Lucian, she discovers that these beautiful people are not quite what they seem. With the help of a mysterious book, she uncovers a network of secret passageways from the hotel’s jazz-age past that leads her to the heart of the evil agenda of Aurelia and company: they’re in the business of buying souls. Will they succeed in wooing Haven to join them in their recruitment efforts, or will she be able to thwart this devilish set’s plans to take the souls of her classmates on prom night at the hotel?

    Illuminate is an exciting saga of a teen’s first taste of independence, her experience in the lap of luxury, and her discovery she may possess strength greater than she ever knew.


    Aimee Agresti’s ILLUMINATE is an enchanting, beautifully written, richly detailed and completely captivating story of good versus evil. Set in a glamorous hotel, with a dark past and an even darker present, staffed by an organization whose sinister plan is virtually impossible for anyone to resist, this story has it all – excitement, mystery, nail-biting suspense and a battle whose outcome is anything but certain.

    When Haven Terra and two of her classmates land an internship at the Lexington Hotel, they can’t imagine a better way to spend the semester. Not only will they be leaving their mundane high school existence behind, but they’ll be earning money, living in a luxurious hotel and gaining experience that will ensure a better future for themselves.

    Surrounded by beautiful people, guided by knowledgeable and powerful mentors, and working in a hotel that is rich with history, the opportunity sounds like a dream come true. And it is. If the dream were a nightmare.

    Because the Outfit isn’t just there to give the hotel’s guests a pleasant stay. They are there to take their souls. And they’re looking for Haven, Dante and Lance’s help to do so.

    ILLUMINATE’s pace is unhurried. Its descriptions elaborate. Its mystery intriguing. Its plot enticing. Its setting both stunning and chilling. And its characters alluring, charming, likable, detestable, gruesome and terrifying.

    With her days spent capturing the glitz and glamour of the hotel, its staff and its patrons on camera and her nights spent uncovering its secrets, Haven must decide whether to give in to temptation and all that the Outfit has on offer, or to resist and in doing so put her life on the line.

    Author Aimee Agresti has created a story that sets itself apart for its wonderfully descriptive passages, its thoroughly developed plot and world-building and its intriguing take on the mythology. And at over five hundred pages, the story and writing maintain an elegant flow throughout, picking up their pace as the story’s dramatic conclusion approaches, enabling readers to remain connected to this somewhat longer tale.

    Told from her heroine Haven Terra’s point of view, readers will get a peek at the goings-on at the Lexington Hotel as Haven experiences them and keeping them in the dark until Haven discovers the truth. With only a mysterious book to guide her, and no one she is sure she can fully trust, Haven must prepare to either defeat the evil forces amassing or to join them.

    Dark, beguiling and opulent, ILLUMINATE is a must for anyone who enjoys a compelling story of good and evil, with a strong and determined heroine, a leisurely pace, a touch of romance and an ending that doesn’t leave off on a cliff but will definitely leave them wanting more.

    Reviewer gives this book…


    On a personal note…

    I fell instantly in love with this story. I knew right from the start that the author’s writing would keep me riveted. While the majority of the story took place in the Lexington Hotel, the world she created felt expansive.

    The setting was both beautiful and opulent and dark and sinister. I loved getting to discover the hotel’s secret passageways and its secrets. And I loved following along with Haven Terra as she uncovered the mystery behind the Outfit and the mystery of her own past.

    This wasn’t a quick read. The pace wasn’t lightning fast. But I loved the length of this story and the fact that the story was unhurried. That, combined with the detail the author gave about the setting and the characters, allowed me to become immersed in this world fully. It felt very luxurious. And it was a world I didn’t ever want to leave.

    I absolutely adored Haven. She was clever, fearless when she needed to be, compassionate, sweet but not too sweet, and innocently charming. She fought when she had to, was cautious when it would have been foolish not to be, trusting but not naively so and sympathetic when others would not have been.

    Of course I was also a fan of Lucian Grove. With each and every one of his faults. But if Haven could like him as much as she did, I don’t see why it would be so wrong for me to. Even if his motives were suspect. Even if he was aloof and mysterious… or perhaps those are the very things I liked most about Lucian.

    He was the bad boy. He was secretive. He was charming and flirtatious. He kept me guessing. Which is something I really, really like in a character.

    I don’t want to talk too much about the other major players as I would end up revealing more than I should. But Aurelia and the rest of the Outfit definitely make this story exciting. And Lance? Well, Lance just makes me smile.

    I loved the way the author approached the themes in this story. She definitely made it feel different from the typical good versus evil young adult paranormal tale. And I loved that Haven’s awareness of everything that was going on wasn’t immediate and that as a reader I was able to figure things out before she did.

    I am so excited that this is only the first book in a series. Until I reached the story’s end I couldn’t have imagined how it could possibly extend to a sequel. But there are definitely questions left unanswered, powers still to be harnessed, evil to defeat and hopefully the recovery of something lost.

    And no. I won’t say what that is.

    I thought this book was absolutely gorgeous. I think I savored just about each and every word. And while there may have been a few too many missed copy edits, I wasn’t pulled out of the story. I was there for every moment that Haven explored the tunnels beneath the hotel. I was there when she discovered the Outfit’s secrets. I was there when she learned the truth about who she was. And I was there when she learned the truth about….

    I suppose I really shouldn’t reveal that one. Which comes at the very end of the story. Which I’m still trying to process. Because it changes everything.

    So yes, I love, love, loved this story. Yes, I cannot wait to read the next book in the series. Yes I’m so glad I waited to read this until I had the second book in my possession. And yes, this story is even more amazing than the cover.

    Favorite passage…

    Everything was so beautifully descriptive in this book that I could have picked out any number of passages that were favorites of mine. But there were four very distinct passages that really stood out. Three of which were quite revealing.

    So I decided to select just a small portion of one that was a bit less spoiler-y. Of course to find out just how amazing this scene actually was, you’ll have to discover it in the book.

    The lights went out, complete blinding blackness enveloping us; the music hushed, quick and sharp. The shock of it all left the place encased in such pin-drop silence it made my ears tingle. Suddenly, his lips were on mine—urgent, warm, hitting me so fast, so firm, that I lost my breath. He tasted like peppermint. The camera, in its case, dropped from my hand to the ground and I didn’t care….

    The Trailer…