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    BLACK WIDOW: RED VENGEANCE by Margaret Stohl {Interview, Promo + Giveaway}

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    Last week I had the amazing opportunity to be a part of a group phone interview with Margaret Stohl about her upcoming release BLACK WIDOW: RED VENGEANCE (a wicked awesome sequel, btw).

    We each got the chance to ask a couple of non-spoiler-y questions about the Black Widow series and I’m thrilled to be able to share a few of my most favorite questions and answers with you today (and reveal who I think might make a great Red Widow)!

    I also have, courtesy of Marvel Press, an autographed copy of BLACK WIDOW: RED VENGEANCE for giveawayFor a chance to win just scroll down to the Rafflecopter for details and to enter.

    In anticipation of the interview, I received a copy of the book to read and some super awesome swag thanks to Marvel…

    A photo posted by Rachel Clarke (@fiktshun) on

    …and let me just say that this sequel is even more action-packed, epic and out-of-this-world amazing than the first book in the series. So if you haven’t already grabbed a copy of BLACK WIDOW: FOREVER RED, now is the perfect time – BLACK WIDOW: RED VENGEANCE releases next week on October 11th!

    To learn more about this book and series visit: books.disney.com.

    And if you’d like to be a part of the conversation on social media, don’t forget to tag #RedVengeance!


    About BLACK WIDOW: RED VENGEANCE

    blackwidowredvengeance_cover

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    Title & Series: BLACK WIDOW: RED VENGEANCE (Black Widow #2)
    Author: Margaret Stohl
    Release date: October 11, 2016
    Publisher: Marvel Press
    Pages: 416
    Formats: Hardcover, audio, eBook

    Description…

    Emotions are dangerous, which is why the graduates of Moscow’s famed spy school the Red Room are taught to keep their enemies close and their loved ones at a distance. Black Widow and Red Widow, also known as Natasha Romanoff and Ava Orlova, forgot that lesson once, and they won’t forget it again.

    But the Widows have inherited something else from their shared Moscow past: a relentless need for vengeance—Ivan Somodorov is dead, but his network of terror remains.

    While the Widows search South America in order to extinguish a smuggling operation with ties to their old nemesis, their own Red Room not only attempts to assassinate them both but also hacks their secure S.H.I.E.L.D. network. As a result, Ava and Natasha find themselves thrust into a trying mission of international intrigue that takes them throughout the world and back to New York City, where their friends Dante and Sana become unlikely targets as well.

    Once again, nothing is as it seems, no one can be trusted, and no one is safe—not unless the Widows can stop a conspiracy involving stolen nuclear warheads, mind-altering chemical weapons, and ultimately, betrayal by old friends and enemies alike.

    AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | iTUNES | INDIEBOUND | DISNEYGOODREADS


    The Interview Questions & Answers

    We each got the chance to ask the author a couple of questions, but I’m also sharing a couple of my favorite questions asked by other participants and their answers.

    Fiktshun:  What was it like incorporating new characters, particularly Ava, into the Marvel universe and what was it like getting into the heads of existing characters like Natasha and Tony Stark?

    Ms. Margaret Stohl: Everybody who knows me knows that I have a wicked Tony Stark sitting on one shoulder at all times. I’m famous for writing Tony Stark banter. It’s the love of my life. I can’t not make terrible Tony Stark jokes. It’s sort of my alter ego.

    Mostly what my Marvel editors do is cut 70 pages of Tony Stark out of all of my books because he has a way of growing all over every page. I love putting Tony’s banter in, particularly with Natasha and Ava because Natasha gets so cranky at him, and because Ava’s like– who is this old guy like, retching on me, like, what’s going on? So they both have a different response to him. I just love characters so I love it when there’s a dynamic showing of understanding between three characters.

    It is amazing to create a character for the Marvel universe. As we finished doing the comic, the one shot for Ava, I got to see Alexei for the first time. Getting to see your babies in color is an amazing thing. I think I will never get over that.

    I look forward to seeing more Natasha and more Ava in Marvel comics. I love what they’re starting to do now with teen characters. And I also love that they’ve been so great about including me in their creative summit. They give me a monthly book and want to hear what a teen audience really cares about, which I think is amazing.

    Captain Marvel is also one of my favorite characters of all time. But I really love what they do with characters that are Ava’s age, it’s great.

    ***

    Fiktshun: If Marvel decided to add Ava to the cinematic universe, how stoked would you be, and if you could cast someone, who would you choose and why?

    [Of course what I meant to ask was, what would you do if Marvel added Ava to the cinematic universe… Gah, nerves!]

    Ms. Margaret Stohl: The answer to how stoked is obviously very stoked. And who I would cast, I don’t know, who would you cast?

    Fiktshun: I think even I can’t even imagine it. I was looking through all the other actresses and I couldn’t find anybody as kickass as Ava has come to be, especially in the second novel. That’s the difficulty.

    Ms. Margaret Stohl: I will have to think about that. I will really ponder that one. Even in Beautiful Creatures, I had no dream casting, and Kami really freaked out when Jeremy Irons was cast as Macon, because she imagined him in that role. I had never imagined anyone in that role other than Macon because he was Macon who lived in my head. That’s my approach.

    Fiktshun Update: So after the interview I ended up binge-watching a TV series with an actress who I thought might be great for Ava (even if she is a little bit older than the character). I could totally see her as fierce, and as a redhead. (And I think visually she’d work really well on-screen with the actress playing Black Widow).

    Yep, I totally could see Nicola Peltz as Ava Orlova. What do you think?

    nicola-peltz

    ***

    ComicBooked: My question is, for Natasha in this and the first book, I can kind of tell that you focused more on the comic character. However, did the movie version of Black Widow influence you at all in how you portrayed Natasha in the books?

    Ms. Margaret Stohl: Yes, I always have Black Widow from the movies in mind because I think she’s done such a great job for so many of my readers in bringing the Black Widow character to life. Black Widow has been around for 50 years, she really has had so many creators. But I specifically think that her current cinematic version is incredibly successful with the book. I’m a fan.

    ***

    ComicsWorthReading: Following up on what you alluded to with the extent of the character, did you find it daunting to deal with Natasha considering her long-existing continuity and such fan interest?

    Ms. Margaret Stohl: I did but I love the Marvel fans, that’s really why I’m here. And I often say both Marvel and Disney are very good at finding the right spirit-partner for all of these franchises. It is actually so daunting that nobody should take these jobs if they don’t have a passionate conviction or love for those characters.

    I particularly love the female heroes I work with, such as Black Widow, and then I had the honor of creating Red Widow. I just finished doing a one shot, my second Red Widow one shot, so a short comic that will come out called the– maybe that wasn’t announced. The Red Widow comic opens in conjunction with the release of this book.

    That was my dream, right, to create a Marvel character, so that’s been wonderful. And then again as I take on Captain Marvel, this is, for me– I’m a Marvel fan in that this is reality to me and this is where I want to be in my life. So everything that makes it terrifying also makes it the greatest job in the world, if that makes sense. Every time I get to work with one of these iconic woman Marvel superheroes, that’s me feeling like I’m in the room where it happens. These things matter intensely to me, that mattered to me growing up, that mattered to many of my teen readers and also to my teen kids, so it’s an honor.


    About Margaret Stohl

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    Margaret Stohl is the #1 New York Times best-selling co-author of the Beautiful Creatures novels (also a major motion picture) and the author of the instant New York Times best seller Black Widow: Forever Red, as well as a contributor to multiple Marvel comics. Previously, Margaret was a veteran of the video game industry, working as a writer and designer before co-founding 7 Studios with Lewis Peterson.

    WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK | INSTAGRAM | GOODREADS


    About BLACK WIDOW: FOREVER RED

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    Title: BLACK WIDOW: FOREVER RED (Black Widow #1)
    Author: Margaret Stohl
    Release date: October 13, 2015
    Publisher: Marvel Press
    Pages: 416
    Formats: Hardcover, audio, eBook

    Read an EXCERPT

    Description…

    Enter the world of the Avengers’ iconic master spy… Natasha Romanoff is one of the world’s most lethal assassins. Trained from a young age in the arts of death and deception, Natasha was given the title of Black Widow by Ivan Somodorov, her brutal teacher at the Red Room, Moscow’s infamous academy for operatives.

    Ava Orlova is just trying to fit in as an average Brooklyn teenager, but her life has been anything but average.The daughter of a missing Russian quantum physicist, Ava was once subjected to a series of ruthless military experiments—until she was rescued by Black Widow and placed under S.H.I.E.L.D. protection. Ava has always longed to reconnect with her mysterious savior, but Black Widow isn’t really the big sister type. Until now.

    When children all over Eastern Europe begin to go missing, and rumors of smuggled Red Room tech light up the dark net, Natasha suspects her old teacher has returned—and that Ava Orlova might be the only one who can stop him. To defeat the madman who threatens their future, Natasha and Ava must unravel their pasts. Only then will they discover the truth about the dark-eyed boy with an hourglass tattoo who haunts Ava’s dreams. . . .

    Black Widow: Forever Red features all the heart-pounding adventure readers expect from Marvel, written by #1 New York Times best-selling author Margaret Stohl. Uncover a new side of the Marvel Universe that will thrill loyal fans and newcomers alike, as Stohl reveals the untold story of Black Widow for the very first time.

    AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | iTUNES | INDIEBOUND | DISNEYGOODREADS


    The Giveaway

    What’s up for grabs…

    • One (1) winner will receive an autographed copy of BLACK WIDOW: RED VENGEANCE by Margaret Stohl

    ** Giveaway is open to US addresses only. Prizing and samples provided by Marvel Press. **

    Enter in the Rafflecopter below…

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    In Bookish News: RT Booklovers Convention, Book Fair, RT Teen Day Party + Interview with Susane Colasanti

    bookish_newsThe Romantic Times Booklovers Convention starts this week (April 12th-17th) in Las Vegas and is being held at the Rio Hotel. If you haven’t ever attended a book convention before, RT is definitely worth checking out. It’s an awesome event. There are a ton of amazing authors to meet, books to discover, and some seriously fun parties. I just know this year’s event in Vegas is going to rock!

    And if you are a huge fan of YA, you definitely won’t want to miss the giant book fair and the RT Teen Day Party on SATURDAY, APRIL 16th.


    The Book Fair

    Whether you bring your books or buy them at the fair, so many of your favorite authors will be there to sign them. The lineup of YA authors:

    • Ann Aguirre
    • Renée Ahdieh
    • Cecelia Ahern
    • Brodi Ashton
    • Amy A. Bartol
    • Jenna Black
    • Gwenda Bond
    • Kate Brauning
    • Lucy D. Briand
    • Elizabeth Briggs
    • Rae Carson
    • Rachel E. Carter
    • Sona Charaipotra*
    • Dhonielle Clayton*
    • Cinda Williams Chima
    • Susane Colasanti
    • Andrea Cremer
    • Liz Czukas -aka Ellie Cahill
    • Cate Dean
    • Kimberly Derting
    • Rebecca Donovan
    • Brenda Drake
    • Pintip Dunn
    • Dana Elmendorf
    • Kelly Fiore -aka Annie Kelly
    • R. A. Gates -aka Ruth Gates
    • Bethany Hagen
    • Sandy Hall
    • Cynthia Hand
    • Katherine Harbour
    • Rachel Harris
    • K.C. Held -aka Kristen Crowley Held
    • Kody Keplinger
    • Julie Murphy
    • Kiera Cass
    • Kass Morgan
    • Lauren Oliver
    • Katie McGarry
    • Kami Garcia
    • Jennifer L. Armentrout -aka J. Lynn
    • Julie Kagawa
    • Alexandra Bracken
    • Ellen Hopkins
    • Tamora Pierce
    • Victoria Aveyard
    • Richelle Mead
    • Wendy Higgins
    • Amanda Hocking
    • Rosamund Hodge
    • Lisa Hood -aka L.H. Nicole
    • Colleen Houck
    • Amalie Howard
    • C.C. Hunter -aka Christie Craig
    • Sophie Jordan
    • Stacey Kade
    • Shannon Kennedy -aka Josie Malone
    • Michelle Knudsen
    • Kimberley Griffiths Little
    • Shawntelle Madison Jen Malone
    • Mari Mancusi -aka Mari Madison
    • Deb Marlowe -aka D. M. Marlowe
    • Gretchen McNeil
    • Jodi Meadows
    • Page Morgan
    • Lea Nolan
    • Ali Novak
    • Danielle Paige
    • Mary E. Pearson
    • Amy Plum
    • Cindy Pon
    • C.J. Redwine
    • Brendan Reichs
    • Morgan Rhodes -aka Michelle Rowen
    • Lisa Brown Roberts
    • Suzie T. Roos
    • Roxanna Rose
    • Veronica Rossi -aka Noelle August
    • Marie Rutkoski
    • Sarah J. Schmitt
    • Ginger Scott
    • Catherine Stine -aka Kitsy Clare

    A few New Adult authors that will be in attendance:

    • Cora Carmack
    • Kristin Cast
    • Jay Crownover
    • Anna Todd
    • Rachel Van Dyken

    And just a few of the General Fiction authors that will be signing:

    • Brenda Jackson
    • Sabrina Jeffries
    • Christina Lauren
    • Lora Leigh
    • Susan Mallery
    • Susan Elizabeth Phillips
    • Mary Jo Putney
    • Julia Quinn
    • Alexa Riley
    • Lynsay Sands
    • Nalini Singh
    • Nancy Thayer
    • Kristen Ashley
    • Robyn Carr
    • Kresley Cole
    • Sylvia Day
    • Sonali Dev
    • Christine Feehan
    • Heather Graham
    • Larissa Ione -aka Sydney Croft

    For more information about the Book Fair on Saturday, April 16th, CLICK HERE.


    Teen Day

    Saturday is TEEN DAY at the RT Booklovers Convention and there are all sorts of fun events – the book fair, workshops and parties – ending with the RT Teen Day Party at 6:00PM.

    For more information on the day’s authors and events, CLICK HERE. And for the full day’s agenda, CLICK HERE.

    RT Teen Day Party

    The Teen Day party is being hosted by Epic Reads and if you haven’t already gotten your tickets, head over to the conference website linked in the graphic above.


    In addition to sharing the news about Teen Day I have been provided with a fab Q&A with the very amazing Susane Colasanti who will be at this year’s event. You can visit her at the Giant Book Fair in YA Alley and at the YA Family Feud Workshop at 4:00PM.

    Interview with Susane Colasanti

    Q. Is there a message in your novels that you want readers to grasp?

    Absolutely! The main reason I write romance novels is to reassure my readers that true love is real. Soul mates are real. I want my readers to be inspired to find the kind of love they desire and deserve. By having a clear vision of the love you want to find and refusing to settle for anything less, you can find the love of your life, the person who feels like home to you. Most importantly, you have to love yourself first before you can love anyone else the way they deserve to be loved. When I was in my teens, I thought that if I had a boyfriend I wouldn’t be lonely or depressed anymore. But you are the only one who can fill those voids in your life. No one else can complete you. So while my love stories are about epic romances between soul mates, they are also about learning to love yourself.

    Q. What books have influenced your life most?

    The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton inspired me to start thinking about writing for teens. I read it in 7th grade and slept with my tattered copy under my pillow, hoping for some magical form of osmosis to transmit the magical powers of that book into my brain so that I could one day write books that would help teens the way The Outsiders helped me feel less alone. My favorite book in the world, The Little Prince, made me see reading in a whole new way when I first read it as a kid. I have always loved reading the way I love breathing. But The Little Prince made me realize that books can change lives in profound ways. Although The Little Prince is technically a children’s book, you can take so much from it at any age. And every time I read it, I find new meaning that resonates with wherever I am in my life at that time.

    Q. What’s up next for you?

    The City Love trilogy is continuing with the second book, Lost in Love, which will be released on May 3. Lost in Love captures the essence of summer love, self-discovery, and sisterhood, in a story of three girls sharing a Manhattan apartment the summer before college begins. The trilogy will conclude next year with the final book. I really loved writing this sweet trilogy. I don’t want to say goodbye to my girls!

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    Q. Why do you enjoy coming to RT/what are you looking forward to at RT?

    I am so impressed by how passionate everyone at RT is. RT book lovers are fierce about their romance. Everyone is so fascinating to talk with, and I love how the events at RT are designed to encourage meaningful connections between readers and authors. So I am looking forward to meeting readers and getting to know them. And I am really looking forward to Teen Day! The opportunity to meet my readers in person is my favorite part of the author life.

    Q. What’s your favorite romance story?

    Forever by Judy Blume. This classic love story radiates romance. It is an honest portrayal of how even a sweet relationship may come to an end, but there is always hope of finding love again.


    About Susane Colasanti

    Photo Credit: Jayd Jackson

    Photo Credit: Jayd Jackson

    Susane Colasanti is the bestselling author of When It HappensTake Me ThereWaiting for YouSomething Like Fate, So Much CloserKeep Holding OnAll I NeedNow and Forever, and the City Love trilogy.

    Susane has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania and a master’s degree from New York University. Before becoming a full-time author in 2007, Susane was a high school science teacher for ten years. She lives in New York City.

    You can connect with Susane at her website, susanecolasanti.com.

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    2015 Fantastic Fives: Interview, 5 Favorites + Giveaway

    Fiktshun-Pink

    I am totally stoked that Me, My Shelf and I and Two Chicks on Books decided to host this event AND that I got to post on my actual blogoversary. Things have been just so crazy IRL that I haven’t had much of a chance to think up something clever like I have in years past. And while I did post a little something, which includes a giveaway, it’s more low-key than I wanted it to be.

    I mean five years is a pretty big deal. I never thought when I started out that I’d have been a book blogger for five years. I tend to give up on things pretty quickly because I get bored. But (*pats self on back*) I somehow made it. And I owe a LOT of that to Jaime of Two Chicks on Books who virtually slapped me on more than one occasion and told me to stick it out.

    Thanks Jaime! (I think…)

    Anyway, as part of this event we were FORCED (yes, forced) to answer a few interview questions AND list our five favorites of various things. And so, here goes… I apologize in advance for the long, ramble-y answers.


    The Fantastic Fives Interview Questions
    • Tell us a little bit about yourself.

    If you didn’t already know this, my name is Rachel, I’ve been an avid reader for as long as I can remember, I’ve been blogging about books for five years (obviously), I have a full-time job that keeps me busy during the day, and like to spend as much time out on the water in a sailboat as I can.

    I love reading about all things fiction. I’m a mood reader. But I’m open to reading almost all genres of books.

    And I do not love talking about myself, which is why I really wish they kept with the 5’s theme here, versus making us answer 7 questions.

    Oh… One other thing: I’m sure you’ve heard of the phrase “long story short.” Well I have a bit of the opposite problem, I’m more of a “short story long” kind of girl.

    • How did you get started blogging?

    As I’ve talked about this way too many times since I started blogging I’ll really try to keep it brief.

    But I started blogging about books because I was given the chance to beta read a book by Author Amanda Hocking, and one of the requirements was having a blog to review the book on. I’d been a huge fan of hers after discovering her My Blood Approves series on Amazon, had been following her blog online (one of only four blogs I read at the time), and jumped at the chance. I’d  purchased the blog name Fiktshun several months earlier, had planned on it being a community blog for friends and family to write stories, book reviews, etc. but gave up after a couple attempts at writing book reviews – I sucked. But to get the chance at an early read of Amanda Hocking’s book I brought it back to life, and have been blogging ever since.

    • How did you pick the name for your blog?

    The Dude always told me I needed blog names that weren’t similar to others as that was a “no no.” So ever since 2005 when I bought my first domain name for a non-book blogging site, I had that in mind.

    I wanted a play on fiction for this particular blog that was supposed to be about writing and reviewing. So I thought, how else can I spell fiction? (Because there wasn’t a chance in hell I’d get Fiction.com.) And of course I didn’t think of the phonetic “fikshen” at the time, though I own the domain now. And I wanted Fikshun, but that domain was already taken though there wasn’t a site associated.

    So I thought Fiktshun with a T. I Googled it and found only one random person who used the name Fiktshun on some social networking site called 43 things years earlier. That account wasn’t active and no one else seemed to use the name Fiktshun, so I bought the domain in April 2010 and just so happened to still have it when I re-launched Fiktshun as a book blog.

    So, aside from the original spelling, the name isn’t exactly original…or clever…or easy to spell. But hey, it is an adequate descriptor, and not too tough to remember, so it works. And now I misspell fiction all the time.

    • If you could go back in time and tell your newbie blogger self 1 thing what would it be?

    Only one thing? Hey, where’s the 5 in all of this???

    Okay, so only one thing…hmm….

    I think I would tell my newbie self to remember that life exists outside of blogging. Going full-throttle will just result in burning out quickly. So, always strive for balance.

    I became totally consumed with the blog the first year to year-and-a-half I was blogging. I spent every free moment of my life obsessed with the blog, the books I could read, the original content I could post. It was over-optimistic of me to think I could handle it all. And my total obsession eventually became too big a part of my life.

    • What have you learned in your 5 years of blogging?

    Be yourself and blog your way. The only way you’re going to be able to keep doing this thing is if you’re not trying to be who you’re not.

    When I first started blogging I used to wish I could be as clever, or as concise, or as friendly, or as BETTER as some of those bloggers that I looked up to. But I realized in the first five minutes that I could never be someone other than myself. And while I always strive to be the BEST version of myself I can be, I never try to be someone other than me.

    Be realistic in your expectations. You can only do so much. There are no shortcuts. You have to do the time if you want to reap whatever “rewards” you are hoping to get – whether it be an audience, attention from authors and publishers, friends in the community, early reads, an “in” to the publishing world.

    I never looked for a shortcut. I was raised to believe that you have to bust your a** if you want something in life. But my expectations for myself were sky high and I couldn’t possibly have hoped to reach those lofty goals with the limited amount of time I had to blog.

    Be realistic in your expectations part 2 – keep your envy in check. It sucks getting rejected for books you desperately want to read, especially when every blogger you know has gotten those same books. But you have to do the time. And even then you won’t necessarily get everything someone else does.

    After five years I still don’t see those stacks of books from Harper at my door. I don’t get invited to be on all the latest and greatest tours from the pubs. My blog doesn’t have automatic name recognition because of its longevity. But I’m okay with that 99.9% of the time. And when I’m not, I spend a few minutes feeling sorry for myself and then just dive into one of the many fantastic books I have at my disposal.

    Be prepared to be plagiarized. You might not think it possible, that book lovers would ever think of plagiarizing. But it happens. Pretty often. And no matter how proactive you are, it’s likely you won’t discover every time you’ve had your words or ideas stolen.

    I never thought that someone who loved to talk about the books they loved would be a thief. I thought the idea of sharing your thoughts about books meant just that – sharing YOUR thoughts. I never imagined that someone would want to post someone else’s ideas – whether word-for-word or “cleverly” reworked so as to appear their own by using thesaurus or other means – but it happens. It’s happened to me, more than once. And it sucks each and every time. It does NOT get any easier.

    Be prepared for negative feedback. Whether you love or hate a book you will have detractors. Some may quietly dislike your views and move on. Others may be more vocal about it. How you choose to respond will dictate how much it escalates into drama and how people will view you and your blog.

    When I first started blogging, a negative review I posted led to the author privately reaching out to me. While the tone wasn’t overly aggressive, it wasn’t wholly positive. I felt horrible. I hadn’t known authors read my reviews, I hadn’t realized I made an impact. And it, for a time, made me very selective in the books I chose to read.

    I’ve since been called all sorts of things (on Amazon). I’ve been criticized for the length of my reviews, for the fact that I write positive reviews, for the fact that I like a book that everyone hates, for the fact that I hate a book that everyone loves. I’ve been criticized for my blog’s style, the amount of content I had in my sidebar, for not commenting back often enough on my comments, for not responding to requests for reviews. I’ve been called a b**ch by someone who plagiarized me.

    It’s hard not to let these things weigh on you. If I’d been prepared for all of it, I might have been more ready to let it just wash over me instead of making me feel defeated.

    Be prepared for drama. Whether it’s your own, or drama in the blogosphere, or author/blogger drama, it’s good to be prepared. Because it can be a huge time-suck. It can make you say something you wish you could take back. It can completely kill your reputation.

    I’ve been caught up in a few – when I broke a large plagiarism situation by a couple of bloggers, when I had some of my paid-for graphics stolen and used. They blew over quickly in the blogosphere, but not for me. Each instance took away some of my love for book blogging.

    And the scandals that I am not involved in I try to avoid. But someone always inevitably calls my attention to them. And they either rile me up or dishearten me. Again making me question why I’m doing this.

    If I had known this is part and parcel of book blogging I wouldn’t have been so affected by it.

    • What was the first ARC or book you ever received from a publisher?

    From a publisher? Hmm… technically it was the one I won from Goodreads, as it was sent by a publisher – and that was BORN AT MIDNIGHT by C.C. Hunter.

    Otherwise, I’m not sure. (Wow that sounds so bad!) But for the first six months of blogging I only received books via NetGalley. I was told not to even attempt a request before I put in my time. I’d also received a bunch of ARCs through charitable donations I’d made and ARCs that I traded for finished copies of books. So I’m totally hazy on the first ARC I received from a publisher.

    I’m going to guess it was a title from Harper as I’d had found a contact there in 2011 and I recall requesting a couple of titles before I made it a policy at the end of that year to never request physical books because I couldn’t stand rejection. (So you can imagine how much I love the Google forms that publishers now have! Not getting a title feels so less personal.)

    I never had that “OMG I made it!” feeling to associate with receipt of my first ARC (and I still don’t feel like I’ve made it). Though I was totally thrilled when I got approved for my first few eARC with NetGalley and they were – THE IRON QUEEN by Julie Kagawa, MY SOUL TO STEAL by Rachel Vincent and ANGELFIRE by Courtney Allison Moulton.

    • When you’re not reading or blogging, what can we find you doing?

    Sailing. I started in October 2013 and have been obsessed with it ever since. If I could find a way to read and skipper a sailboat at the same time it’d be a total bliss situation for me.


    The Fives

    Geez, you guys are asking the impossible!

    • Five Favorite Books

    WIZARD AND GLASS by Stephen King, THE LONG WALK by Stephen King writing as Richard Bachman, PAINT IT BLACK by Janet Fitch, WATERSHIP DOWN by Richard Adams, REPLAY by Ken Grimwood, DUNE by Frank Herbert.

    (Gah, I should probably have listed some classics, or some of my new favorite reads!)

    • Five Favorite Book Boyfriends

    Roland Deschain from King’s Dark Tower series, Tod Hudson from Rachel Vincent’s Soul Screamers series, Paul Atreides from Frank Herbert’s Dune chronicles, Death from Kresley Cole’s Arcana chronicles, Eric Northman from Charlaine Harris’ Southern Vampire Mysteries.

    (Of course I love Ethan, and Bones, and Barrons, and Dimitri, and Cole, and other Cole. I hate that I could only choose five. You guys are evil!)

    • Five Favorite Book Quotes

    “I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.” – litany used by Paul Atreides in Frank Herbert’s DUNE

    “He just kept picking them up and laying them down.” – about Ray Garraty from Stephen King’s THE LONG WALK

    “You’re the brightest thing I’ve ever seen, Kaylee. You’re this beautiful ball of fire spitting sparks out at the world, burning fiercely, holding back the dark by sheer will. And I always knew that if I reached out — if i tried to touch you — I’d get burned. Because you’re not mine. I’m not supposed to feel the fire. I’m not supposed to want it. But I do. I want you, Kaylee, like I’ve never wanted anything. Ever. I want the fire. I want the heat, and the light, and I want the burn.” – Tod from Rachel Vincent’s IF I DIE

    “Love fades. Mine has.” – Dimitri from Richelle Mead’s SPIRIT BOUND

    “I realize now that dying is easy. Living is hard.” – Mia from Gayle Forman’s IF I STAY

    • Five Blogging Tips For New Bloggers
    1. Don’t over-promise. It’s understandable to want to say yes to every new ARC, every new tour, every new request. But you’ll only be setting yourself up for major stress, and ultimately for failure.
    2. Be honest. If you can’t read something in time, own up to it. People will understand. If you can’t write a review, don’t steal someone else’s, just say you can’t meet the deadline, that life got in the way. The “my blog’s scheduler” lie will only work the first time, if at all. It’s better to tell the truth – you forgot, life was crazy, than to be dishonest.
    3. Blog your way. Don’t listen to what others say about how you should blog, what content you should or shouldn’t include, how you should write your reviews, what you should or shouldn’t include in your sidebar. While some of those tips may be helpful or informative, if they don’t work for you and your blog, don’t feel obligated to follow someone else’s rules or guidelines. It’s your blog and you should blog in a way that makes you feel good. As long as you’re honest then it doesn’t matter if you express your thoughts in gifs, with tons of exclamations, post pics of your favorite book boyfriends, et cetera.
    4. Have fun. Contrary to what it feels like a lot of the time, blogging is not a competition. There are plenty of books out there looking for love. Read what you want, in a timeframe that works for you, post when you want, and post about the things that make you happy. Blogging can be fun and not a giant ball of stress. Seriously.
    5. Be social. I know, I KNOW. I’m like the most anti-social blogger out there. But this blogging thing will be way more fun if you have friends and people to talk to, to commiserate with, on a daily basis.
    • Five Blogs You Want The World To Know About

    Two Chicks on Books – though if you’re following this event you probably already know about TCOB. Jaime is my best blogger friend and I adore her blog. She’s THE most enthusiastic blogger I know. She has never once thought about giving up the blog in all her five years of blogging. She goes after what she wants without hesitation. She befriends authors (am so jealous). She attends events (even more jealous). She knows everyone (dying of jealousy here). She rocks.

    Parajunkee – though if you’ve been in the blogging community for two seconds you’ll already know all about Rachel a.k.a. Parajunkee. She has so many talents – blogging, designing, writing. She’s funny and snarky – her Dishing Junk posts are the BEST. Her reviews are honest but not brutal. Her voice is her own. So, I may be one of her most regular – and obnoxious – clients (I love blog design), but I’d like to think we’ve become friends (and not just because I pay her).

    Good Books And Good Wine – I may not socialize much with April but I love reading her reviews and checking out her blog. She is refreshingly honest, her reviews are personal and enjoyable to read, and she reads a nice variety of books. Her blog is substantive and not a “filler” blog. If you haven’t yet discovered it, you should definitely check it out.

    Bewitched Bookworms – I’ve followed Bewitched Bookworms for a long while now. I love their features. They are so enthusiastic about books, and it shows in everything they post. Also, their blog is so pretty, you can’t help but want to take a peek at it every day.

    Reading with ABC – Liza’s blog is one I believe I became familiar with through Rockstar Book Tours. I love her blog’s design, I love her authenticity, and I love checking out her reviews. I also love that she has discussion posts, and if I wasn’t always constantly in a state of stress about meeting deadlines I’d be way more active in commenting and participating in discussions on her blog. That’s my bad. Her blog is great, so you should totally check it out.


    The Giveaway

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    I am offering up for giveaway…

    $25 in Books of Your Choice to ONE (1) winner

    • Must be 13 or older to enter
    • There will be ONE winner
    • Giveaway is open to anywhere The Book Depository ships
    • Prizes will be ordered from Amazon or The Book Depository depending upon location
    • Giveaway is open until November 23rd at 11:59 p.m. Pacific

    There are no requirements to like or follow this blog, though it is appreciated. Extra entry opportunities are included for tweeting about the giveaway, leaving a comment, and for following the hosts of this event and my five favorite blogs on twitter.

    Enter in the Rafflecopter below…

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    The Schedule
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    Interview with THE GIRL WHO COULD NOT DREAM Author Sarah Beth Durst + Giveaway

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    I am thrilled to be able to welcome Author Sarah Beth Durst to the blog for a Q&A on the release day for her newest novel, THE GIRL WHO COULD NOT DREAM. It is an absolutely delightful and engaging and fun-to-read middle grade story with an easy to love heroine and an adorable monster.

    The cover alone may be enough to make you want to read this book. But once you read what the author has to say about her story and characters in the interview, you will definitely want to find out more about the dream shop, meet Sophie and Monster, and discover what sorts of adventures they have.

    As I loved this book – my review to post later this week – I am offering a copy up for giveaway. So if you’d like the chance to win, after checking out the Q&A, scroll down to enter in the Rafflecopter.

    First, though, here’s some information about THE GIRL WHO COULD NOT DREAM.


    About THE GIRL WHO COULD NOT DREAM

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    Title: THE GIRL WHO COULD NOT DREAM
    Author: Sarah Beth Durst
    Release date: November 3, 2015
    Publisher: Clarion Books
    Pages: 384
    Formats: Hardcover, audio, eBook

    Read an EXCERPT

    Description…

    Sophie loves the hidden shop below her parents’ bookstore, where dreams are secretly bought and sold. When the dream shop is robbed and her parents go missing, Sophie must unravel the truth to save them. Together with her best friend—a wisecracking and fanatically loyal monster named Monster—she must decide whom to trust with her family’s carefully guarded secrets. Who will help them, and who will betray them?

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    The Interview

    Q&A with Sarah Beth Durst

    Q. How would you describe THE GIRL WHO COULD NOT DREAM in 15 words or less?

    A girl, her best friend (a loyal and cupcake-loving monster), and a secret dream shop.

    Q. What are the most valuable dreams that are bought and sold in the dream shop?

    The more vivid the dream, the more expensive.  Crystal-clear happy dreams sell the best: strolling beside a jewel-blue ocean, taking a curtain call as a Broadway star, landing on the moon…  Flying dreams are always in demand (extra bonus if the dreamer didn’t crash into a mountainside).  Food dreams sell well.  People even buy bad food dreams: pizza with live fish, peanut butter and ketchup smoothies, spaghetti that transforms into worms.  And exquisitely-scary monster dreams are very popular with the horror-moving crowd.

    Q. What is it about Monster (or about Sophie) that makes Sophie want to befriend him versus run screaming from him when they first meet?

    She’s lonely.  Her family owns a secret dream shop, and Sophie has been keeping this massive secret her entire life.  It’s hard to make friends when you feel as though you aren’t allowed to ever fully trust anyone.  So when she meets Monster inside a dream (he’s from a classic monster-in-the-closet dream), she’s thrilled to have someone to talk to who already knows her secret.

    Plus he’s really fuzzy.  Kind of like a large house cat.  With six tentacles.

    Q. Aside from Sophie, who was your favorite character to create and write about in THE GIRL WHO COULD NOT DREAM and why were they a favorite?

    Definitely Monster.  I knew his voice from the instant I sat down to write this book.  Usually I discover characters as I write, developing their voice and so forth, but with Monster… he came fully formed.  And hungry.

    Q. If you knew of a hidden dream shop, would you have only stolen one dream like Sophie did or might you have been more curious?

    If there were a dream shop near me, I’d be there daily, buying up any dream with a dragon or a griffin or a unicorn or a magical-whatever.  I love dreams, especially the fantastical ones that come with plots and villains and victories.

    Q. What was your favorite aspect of writing a middle-grade novel?

    I love that you can be silly and sincere at the same time in a middle-grade novel.  You can laugh and cry without any of the self-conscious self-awareness that often comes with an older protagonist.  I do love writing for teens and adults as well and they come with their own unique joys, but this is something special about writing MG.

    Q. What was the biggest challenge you faced when writing THE GIRL WHO COULD NOT DREAM?

    Saying goodbye.  I know I’m supposed to feel victorious when I finish a novel, but by that point I have fallen so in love with the characters and feel so immersed in the world that letting go is surprisingly hard.  I always feel this sense of loss when I’m done.  My solution is to dive into the next story.  And console myself with the thought that soon other people will get to meet Sophie and Monster too!

    Thanks so much for interviewing me!

    Fiktshun: Thank you so much for answering all my questions about your lovely new book!


    About Sarah Beth Durst

    DURST_AuthorPhoto_HighRes

    Sarah Beth Durst is the author of nine fantasy novels for children, teens, and adults, including ConjuredVessel, and Ice. Her next middle-grade novel, The Girl Who Could Not Dream, is scheduled for release in fall 2015 from HMH/Clarion Books, and her next novel for adults, The Queen of Blood, comes out in fall 2016 from Harper Voyager. Sarah was awarded the 2013 Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children’s Literature and has been a finalist for SFWA’s Andre Norton Award three times.

    Sarah was born in Northboro, Massachusetts, a small town that later became the setting for her debut novel. At the age of ten, she decided she wanted to be a writer. (Before that, she wanted to be Wonder Woman, except with real flying ability instead of an invisible jet. She also would have accepted a career as a unicorn princess.) And she began writing fantasy stories. She attended Princeton University, where she spent four years studying English, writing about dragons, and wondering what the campus gargoyles would say if they could talk. Sarah lives in Stony Brook, New York, with her husband and two children.

    WEBSITE | BLOGTWITTER | TUMBLR | FACEBOOK | GOODREADS


    The Giveaway

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    I am giving away a copy of THE GIRL WHO COULD NOT DREAM to ONE winner

    • Must be 13 or older to enter
    • There will be ONE winner
    • Giveaway is open to anywhere The Book Depository ships
    • Prize will be ordered from Amazon or The Book Depository depending upon location
    • Giveaway will be open until November 13th at 11:59 p.m. Pacific
    • Winner will be announced in the Rafflecopter and notified by email
    • Winner has 72 hours to respond or another winner will be chosen

    Enter in the Rafflecopter below…

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    GABRIEL by Nikki Kelly – {Book Blitz + Giveaway}

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    I am super excited to be participating in the Book Blitz for GABRIEL, the second book in Author Nikki Kelly’s The Styclar Saga. I loved the first book in this series and cannot wait for GABRIEL’s release next week… although I will be taking an early peek at it now that my reading schedule has cleared up. So. Freaking. Happy.

    If you don’t want to have to wait for an entire week to read GABRIEL, check out the preview chapters on the STYCLAR WATTPAD page.

    If you’d like the chance to win a copy of both GABRIEL and the first book in the series, LAILAH, enter in the Rafflecopter below.

    And if you’d like to check out the blitz-wide interview with the author, scroll down to find out about the writing process, what we can expect in GABRIEL, and more!


    About GABRIEL

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    Title & Series: GABRIEL (The Styclar Saga #2)
    Author: Nikki Kelly
    Release date: October 27, 2015
    Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
    Pages: 384
    Formats: Hardcover, eBook

    Read an EXCERPT

    Description

    The handsome Angel from Lailah gets center stage in this continuation of Wattpad sensation Nikki Kelly’s romantic and action-packed series about mortals, vampires, and angels.

    Gabriel is an Angel Descendant. He’s also an ally to a generation of vampires who want to break away from the demon who controls them. His faith in the power of good over evil wavers, however, when he discovers that Lailah, the woman he considers his only true love, may be both angel and demon. Is their love enough to overcome the dark forces who are ready to go to war with Gabriel, the vampire Jonah, and the angel and vampire forces? And can Gabriel compete with Jonah, who is also in love with Lailah?

    Once again, Nikki Kelly looks deeply into the heart and soul of good and evil to create a romantic, action-packed reading adventure.

    AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | iTUNES | INDIEBOUND | FIERCE READS | MACMILLAN | GOODREADS


    An Interview

    What did you do on your research trip to France? 

    Mainly, I visited all the locations used in the book! I also spent some time writing while I was there of course! I think the nicest thing about my research trip was that I ended up using my Auntie and Uncle’s barn conversion as a base for the property our gang find themselves staying in! Everything in the story form the barn, the village itself and various locations (including the snowy mountains) are completely real – you could even go and visit them all yourself!

    Was the writing process for Gabriel a lot different than Lailah

    The writing process for GABRIEL was shorter, because this time around I was writing full time! But the actual ‘writing’ part was much the same. I start with a premise, have an idea in my head of the beginning/ the ending/ a specific character etc etc. and start writing! I only ever do rough outlines, it’s all pretty much in my head, which is another reason why I have often said I feel like this story was implanted in my brain sometimes and I am the mere mortal who gets to put pen on paper to bring it to life!

    What can we expect from Gabriel (the novel)? 

    Gosh, A LOT! The story picks up right where it left off, and continues to be told form Lailah’s POV – The main cast are back, but we get to meet some lush new ones too! I am still a great fan of the twist – suffice to say, just when you think you know, really you have no idea! 😉 Oh, and also, did I mention… #NoMercy 😉

    Would you say that you’re similar to Lailah in any way? 

    Naturally, Lailah and I have a few of the same traits, I think every character in my stories have a little something piece of me, whether intention or not! But I think we can all relate to Lailah’s plight, I think most of us go through a time in our lives where we are working out who we are and making choices that carve out who we ultimately end up becoming.

    What are you currently reading? 

    I have a new baby, so my hands are a little tied at the moment! But I can tell you what I will be reading next *grabby hands* Six Of Crows by Leigh Bardugo !!!

    Any advice for aspiring authors? 

    If you have a story to tell, don’t stop until it’s told… and Never.Ever.Give.Up

    How much of your personal experience is tied into this series?

    A very large percent! A good example — In GABRIEL Ruadhan tells Lailah ‘You only fail, if you never try.’ That is the very advice my Mom gave me, and one of the reasons I am living my dream today… I think it all goes back to that great advice you hear again and again about writing – about writing what you know. So in this case, for example, I know very well the true meaning and the importance of that message…  Even down to the mythology in the story — it’s all based loosely on my own belief system (you’ll see plenty more of that in Book2 and especially in Book3)


    About Nikki Kelly

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    NIKKI KELLY was born and raised only minutes away from the chocolately scent of Cadbury World in Birmingham, England. Lailah was first launched to wattpad, an online readers and writers community. Within six months, the novel had over one million reads. Lailah is Nikki’s debut novel, and the first book in The Styclar Saga. She lives in London with her husband and their dogs, Alfie (a pug) and Goose (a Chihuahua).

    WEBSITE | TWITTER | TUMBLR | FACEBOOK | PINTEREST | WATTPAD | YOUTUBEGOODREADS


    About LAILAH

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    Title & Series: LAILAH (The Styclar Saga #1)
    Author: Nikki Kelly
    Release date: October 7, 2014
    Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
    Pages: 416
    Formats: Hardcover, paperback, audio, eBook

    Read an EXCERPT

    Description

    The girl knows she’s different. She doesn’t age. She has no family. She has visions of a past life, but no clear clues as to what she is, or where she comes from. But there is a face in her dreams – a light that breaks through the darkness. She knows his name is Gabriel.

    On her way home from work, the girl encounters an injured stranger whose name is Jonah. Soon, she will understand that Jonah belongs to a generation of Vampires that serve even darker forces. Jonah and the few like him, are fighting with help from an unlikely ally – a rogue Angel, named Gabriel.

    In the crossfire between good and evil, love and hate, and life and death, the girl learns her name: Lailah. But when the lines between black and white begin to blur, where in the spectrum will she find her place? And with whom?

    Gabriel and Jonah both want to protect her. But Lailah will have to fight her own battle to find out who she truly is.

    AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | iTUNES | INDIEBOUND | MACMILLAN | GOODREADS


    The Giveaway

    There is a blitz-wide giveaway for…

    • A hardcover copy of LAILAH and GABRIEL – International

    Enter in the Rafflecopter

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    Interview with CURIOSITY HOUSE: THE SHRUNKEN HEAD Authors Lauren Oliver and H.C. Chester + Giveaway

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    I am so thrilled to be able to welcome to the blog the two amazing authors of CURIOSITY HOUSE: THE SHRUNKEN HEAD – Lauren Oliver and H.C. Chester. They were kind enough to answer my many, many questions in an interview that has turned out to be my most favorite one I’ve conducted here on the blog.

    If you are able to read through their answers without cracking a smile, grinning like a loon or laughing out loud you’ve got me beat!

    CURIOSITY HOUSE: THE SHRUNKEN HEAD releases next week on September 29th. It is a wonderful story that while aimed at a Middle Grade audience is a story that readers of any age will enjoy. From its quirky characters, to its delightful setting, to its fantastic writing, to its captivating mystery, to its incredible illustrations, it is an engaging and enchanting and funny and exciting and positively adorable read.

    If you’d like to know what else I thought, my review is HERE. And if you’d like to know more about the book, the series, and author, visit The Curiosity House website, HERE.

    Some information about the book and authors follows the interview. And if you’d like the chance to win a copy of CURIOSITY HOUSE: THE SHRUNKEN HEAD, I’m offering up one for giveaway – just enter in the Rafflecopter at the end of the post.


    The Interview

    TheAuthorsCuriosityHouse

    Q&A with Lauren Oliver and H.C. Chester

    Q. If you/each of you had to describe CURIOSITY HOUSE: THE SHRUNKEN HEAD in 15 words or less, how would you describe it?

    LO: CURIOSITY HOUSE is the story of four extraordinary children and the fantastical place they call home.

    HCC: I would describe it thusly: “A thrilling mystery set in a colorful era of bygone New York City and involving one of the most fabled rarities of all time–the shrunken head of the legendary Amazonian chieftain, Ticuna-Piranha!”  (I am cognizant of the fact that this description exceeds the prescribed length.  However, so exceptional is our book–if I may be permitted to say so–that a mere “fifteen words or less” cannot do it justice!)

    Q. What was the collaborative experience like?

    LO: I certainly learned a lot! Mr. Chester was definitely particular and expressive about how he thought the story should be brought to life. I could always count on him to point out any holes in the narrative or inconsistencies in tone or setting.

    HCC:  I am, of course, unaccustomed to the collaborative process, having been the sole author of such classic volumes as The Complete Collector’s Guide to Pre-Columbian Eating Utensils and Assyrian Pottery Shards for Dummies.  Indeed, I am unaccustomed to dealing directly with any other living being whatsoever, apart from my faithful canine, Trudy.  I must confess, however, that I found my work with Ms. Oliver so gratifying that I have recently been tempted to interact with other human beings and have been giving serious consideration to saying “hello” to my mail carrier at some point in the future, should the occasion arise.

    Q. What was the best part of working together? Your least favorite part of working together?

    LO: The best part, for me, was getting a chance to see Mr. Chester’s vast array of relics, knowing I was one of the few people who has ever been admitted to his house. Also, I really enjoyed meeting his dog Trudy. She’s pretty adorable.

    HCC: For myself, it was always delightful to see how warmly Trudy greeted Ms. Oliver during the latter’s visits to my home.  The worst part, paradoxically, was also seeing how warmly Trudy greeted Ms. Oliver, since my attachment to my canine companion is such that any display of affection on her part for another human being cannot help but plunge me into a state of “Othello”-like jealousy.

    Q. What was your/each of your favorite scene/s to write? Your/each of your most challenging scene/s to write?

    LO: My favorite part of the book was simply mapping out and conceiving of the museum and its various inhabitants. I’ve never written a book that felt like such an ensemble, as if I were working on a giant group number for stage. I loved it. Action is always the most challenging part for me, and there is a lot of action in this book.

    HCC: I must admit that my role in our collaboration had less to do with the actual writing of scenes than with providing Ms. Oliver with the raw material with which, through the alchemy of her own stylistic genius, she so marvelously brought to life.  Each of the episodes in our book is so rich with action, excitement, and suspense that it would be difficult for me to single out a “favorite.”

    Q. Who is your/each of your favorite character/s – and why are they a favorite?

    LO: That is so hard to answer! I love so many of the characters. I really like Goldini, the not-so-accomplished magician, because I feel sorry for him. I love Smalls, the aspiring poet; he reminds me of some people I went to grad school with. And of course I love all four of the children, especially Max, because she’s such a firebrand.

    HCC:  I feel a special affinity for Horatio Dumfrey, proprietor of Dumfrey’s Dime Museum. Like myself, he is a connoisseur of the weird and unusual who has devoted himself to assembling a world-class collection of rare and astounding artifacts. To be sure, I do not share his interest in sharing my collection with the public.  On the contrary, apart from Ms. Oliver, to whom I granted the privilege of viewing a portion of my collection, no living being has ever been permitted to view it.   Indeed, ever since she got her (admittedly adorable) jaws on the priceless fossilized leg bone of a prehistoric wallaby and chewed it to pieces, I have made large sections of my private museum off-limits even to you-know-who.

    Q. To H.C. Chester – You’ve been called a “notorious relics collector.” What is your favorite relic that you’ve collected and why is it a favorite?

    HCC: A very difficult question, since my collection includes so many extraordinary items.  Is it the hammered-silver ring John Smith gave to Pocahontas upon their engagement?  The ancient leather sling unearthed by a Middle Eastern archaeologist and said to be the one used by David when he slew the Philistine giant, Goliath?  The two-headed Peruvian fruit bat?

    For many years, a particular favorite of mine was a magnificent specimen of an ancient Incan funerary vessel that I purchased, by mail, from a highly respected dealer in South American antiquities.  One day, while examining this surpassingly beautiful object, I noticed some strange hieroglyphic symbols at its base.  Inspecting these markings under a high-powered magnifying lens, I saw that they spelled out the words “Made in Taiwan.”  Needless to say, I immediately sent a highly indignant letter to the dealer, who not only refused to refund my payment but responded in a most impolite manner.

    Q. To Lauren Oliver – You’ve written for a wide range of audiences. What is it that you love most about writing Middle Grade stories?

    LO: I think middle grade novels afford opportunities for creative freedom and for humor that feel really satisfying to me. Kids will follow you anywhere. They’re up for anything. As an author, that feels incredibly liberating.

    Q. What can you tell us about Dumfrey’s Dime Museum of Freaks, Oddities, and Wonders?

    LO: Dumfrey’s Dime Museum, as Mr. Dumfrey would have told you himself, was truly one of the greatest museums in the world. Its collections varied from the rare to the straight-up strange, from the legitimate to the patently fake, and from the divine to the grotesque. Wax figurines, mermaid skeletons, historical relics, hideous murder weapons–it was a cornucopia of the weird and the wonderful.

    HCC:  Since even the most educated individuals of today are often unfamiliar with the definition of a “dime museum,” I will address your question by saying something about the institution in general. The dime museum, which flourished in our country from the late decades of the nineteenth century until the early years of the twentieth, was a popular showplace, offering both entertainment and edification to the great American public.  For a modest admission fee–ten cents originally, though eventually rising to as much as twenty-five–a visitor could view a wide assortment of wonders. These establishments, appealing to the timeless human appetite for the marvelous and miraculous, drew thousands upon thousands of ordinary men, women, and children, seeking escape from the humdrum dullness of their workaday lives.  Gradually, however, these palaces of wonder were replaced–or more accurately, killed off–by the cheap technological amusements of the modern world: radio, motion pictures, television. Though I myself have never owned a radio or television and have not attended a movie since a 1951 showing of Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, to which I was dragged by my late father, I cannot imagine that the experiences they offer can begin to match the sublime pleasures of an afternoon at Dumfrey’s Dime Museum.

    Q. Of all the collectibles, how did you decide upon the Amazonian shrunken head to be the focal point of the story/mystery?

    LO: We were inspired by a real-life shrunken head currently in Mr. Chester’s possession, which allegedly was to blame for some mysterious and deadly occurrences of its own, decades before it passed into his hands.

    HCC: Indeed, as Ms. Oliver suggests, the shrunken head in my collection exudes a singularly dark and sinister aura.  Indeed, I attribute to its nefarious influence several heartbreaking tragedies that have befallen my household in recent years, such as the time Trudy’s favorite rubber chew toy went missing, sending my poor, devastated canine into a severe depression that lasted nearly 48 hours. Happily, she recovered at once when “Mr. Squirrely” turned up beneath the horsehair settee in our front parlor.

    Q. What can readers expect from this and future books in the Curiosity House series?

    LO: Rollicking fun, old-fashioned adventure, a dash of mystery, murder, and mayhem, and at least one talking cockatoo!

    HCC: And more author photos featuring close-ups of Trudy!


    About CURIOSITY HOUSE: THE SHRUNKEN HEAD

    CuriosityHouseCover

    Visit the Website

    Title & Series: CURIOSITY HOUSE: THE SHRUNKEN HEAD
    Authors: Lauren Oliver & H.C. Chester
    Illustrator: Benjamin Lacombe
    Release date: September 29, 2015
    Publisher: HarperCollins
    Pages: 368
    Formats: Hardcover, paperback, audio, eBook

    Description…

    Despite being blessed with extraordinary abilities, orphans Philippa, Sam, and Thomas have never felt anything but normal in Dumfrey’s Dime Museum of Freaks, Oddities, and Wonders: Philippa is a powerful mentalist, Sam is the world’s strongest boy, and Thomas can squeeze himself into a space no bigger than a breadbox. But when a fourth child, Max, a knife-thrower with deadly accuracy, joins the group, it sets off a dramatic chain of events that will threaten the only place they’ve ever felt at home.

    When the museum’s most prized possession, an Amazonian shrunken head, is stolen, the four are determined to get it back. But their search leads them to a series of murders and an explosive secret about their pasts.

    AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | iTUNES | HARPERCOLLINS | THE BOOK DEPOSITORY | INDIEBOUND | GOODREADS


    About Lauren Oliver

    Lauren Oliver photo

    Lauren Oliver is the author of the YA bestselling novels Before I Fall, Panic, and Vanishing Girls and the Delirium trilogy: Delirium, Pandemonium, and Requiem, which have been translated into more than thirty languages and are New York Times and international bestselling novels. She is also the author of three novels for middle grade readers: The Spindlers; Liesl & Po, which was an E. B. White Read Aloud Award nominee; and Curiosity House: The Shrunken Head, co-written with H. C. Chester, and a novel for adults, Rooms. A graduate of the University of Chicago and NYU’s MFA program, Lauren Oliver is also the cofounder of the boutique literary development company Paper Lantern Lit.

    WEBSITE | TWITTER | TUMBLR | FACEBOOK | YOUTUBEGOODREADS


    About H.C. Chester

    H.C. Chester photo credit Kimiko Hahn

    Like other boys, I spent many happy hours engaged in a favorite hobby: in my case, taking my mother’s discarded kitchen aprons and making them into historically accurate costumes for my pet Rottweiler, Buster. I still recall the perfect hours I spent roaming the woods and meadows around our house with Buster, dressed in his Marie Antoinette coronation gown, trotting happily at my side.

    The turning point in my childhood–indeed, in my life–occurred when I was six, when during a routine visit with my parents to an antique shop my eyes fell upon a wondrous sight: a taxidermically mounted specimen of a large Peruvian fruit bat. Stuffed Peruvian fruit bats became the ruling passion of my life. Before long–through postal correspondence with the various dealers who advertise in the pages of the bi-monthly Peruvian Fruit Bat Fanciers Newsletter–I had acquired a dozen more preserved specimens of these endlessly fascinating creatures.

    It was the seed of what was to grow into the H. C. Chester Relics Collection, the largest private assemblage of its kind in the entire country, if not indeed the world! Now I live happily with my best friend and companion, my dog “Trudy”, in the ancestral home in which I grew up, surrounded by all of the wondrous and strange items I have collected over the past six decades.

    To read H.C. Chester’s full bio visit The Curiosity House Website.


    The Giveaway

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    I am offering up for giveaway…

    A hardcover copy of CURIOSITY HOUSE: THE SHRUNKEN HEAD to ONE (1) Winner

    • Must be 13 or older to enter
    • Giveaway is International (to anywhere The Book Depository ships)
    • There will be ONE winner
    • Giveaway ends on September 29th at 11:59 p.m. Pacific
    • Prize will be ordered from Amazon or The Book Depository depending upon location

    Enter in the Rafflecopter below…

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    Interview with LEGACY OF KINGS Author Eleanor Herman + Giveaway

    InterviewEH

    I am super excited to be able to share an interview with Blood of Gods and Royals series author Eleanor Herman on the release day for VOICE OF GODS, a prequel novella that looks to be the perfect introduction to the series in anticipation of the release of LEGACY OF KINGS this August.

    It is currently available for free download at Amazon and Barnes & Noble (links are below) and I can’t wait to dive into my copy today. Because I love, love, love this world, the characters, and how the author brought them all to life. I got the chance for a super early read of LEGACY OF KINGS last December and I devoured it. (My Review)

    The wait for the next installment has been killing me, so I’m thrilled to be able to have the novella to tide me over. Though I will definitely be re-reading LEGACY OF KINGS when it releases next month.

    As I am such a huge fan of the series I am also offering up a pre-order of LEGACY OF KINGS. You can enter in the Rafflecopter at the bottom of the post.

    First, though, here is the Q&A with the very awesome and talented author, Eleanor Herman, where she talks about her book, the setting, favorite character and scene, and more!


    The Interview

    Q. If you had to describe LEGACY OF KINGS in 25 words or less, how would you describe it?

    An epic saga of Alexander the Great at sixteen, where history meets magic, where empires burn and evil stirs… I think I’m out of words.

    Q. What is it about the time period your story was set in that drew you to it?

    I am SO into the ancient world. Civilization had this peak in terms of sophisticated thought, luxury goods, and travel. People were very accepting of the gods and religions of others. Then, with the advent of Christianity, people lost their tolerance because monotheism means there’s only one god so if you don’t accept my version, I’m going to beat the crap out of you until you do. The quality of everything—art, household comforts, hygiene, and travel—totally tanked. Thought became limited. Plumbing plugged up and wasn’t repaired as the pope said bathing was a sinful vanity; people got filthy and everything smelled.

    For a thousand years the Vatican kept the lockbox of knowledge securely closed to keep ignorance alive and their power strong. So until the Renaissance, everything was sort of depressing. I suppose it’s no coincidence that the second historical period I’m drawn to is the Renaissance when things got ancienty again in terms of tolerance and sophistication but maybe not bathing.

    Q. What made you decide to write about a young Alexander III of Macedon? What was it about his early life that made you want to tackle it as a writer?

    There are great possibilities writing about Alexander the Great because before he was twenty and ascended the throne of Macedon, only two stories are known about him. One was how when he was very young he spoke to Persian ambassadors waiting for his father to come into the throne room. He asked them highly intelligent questions about Persia, its geography, and how far its major cities were from one another. The second one, which is detailed in Legacy of Kings, was how he got his war horse, Bucephalus. So that leaves wide open all kinds of possibilities about his early life without contradicting stuff we know actually happened.

    And the fascinating question is, based on the man he became, who was he as a teenager? We have to extrapolate backward to come up with that answer: ambitious, earnest, awesomely smart and brave, ready to take on the world.

    Q. Who was your favorite character to write about in LEGACY OF KINGS and who was the most challenging character to write about? And why?

    All the girls were easy to write. Kat and Zofia are nice people who manipulate their way into—and try to manipulate their way out of—highly unusual and dangerous situations. But I love Cynane best for her in-your-face bitchiness. There’s a good part of me in her, the part I deny and repress because I want to be a nice person. With Cynane, I could just let it all hang out. She’s smart-mouthed, physically lethal, riddled with pain, and aching from a sense of not belonging, ever. That’s the part of me I try to hide, except for maybe the physically lethal thing.

    I have to work harder at writing from a male perspective than a female’s because, while I know men have their own way of thinking, I can’t really understand it. Emotionally, if women are an entire piano of keys, men are—maybe–an octave. So Alexander, Heph and Jacob aren’t manipulative like the girls; they’re more goal-focused. That’s their octave.

    Q. What was your favorite (non-spoiler-y) scene to write in LEGACY OF KINGS – and why was it a favorite?

    Oddly, the Tournament of Blood and the big battle chapters at the end were my favorites. It’s ironic because at first I was concerned that I wouldn’t be able to do them justice; I am so non-violent I hustle bees out of the window and gently deposit ants and stink bugs outside. But once I got into these bloody slash-and-hack scenes, I was SO INTO them. I think they are among the strongest scenes. It helped that I have read just about everything there is on ancient warfare, including all the ancient writers, some of whom were Greek generals. So most of what I used actually happened.

    Q. How did you decide upon how much fact vs. how much fiction to include in LEGACY OF KINGS? How did you strike a balance between the two that made sense to you as a writer?

    That’s quite a challenge. The non-fiction historian in me wants everything to be completely accurate, which isn’t possible since so little is known of Alexander’s youth. Plus, the fantasy elements are what make the story unpredictable and fascinating. So I focus as much as I can on getting daily life absolutely accurate: the lighting, the food, the clothing, the warfare, the functioning of a palace, the travel. The goal is to make this a gripping ride for the reader, weaving fact and fantasy into a breathtaking pattern.

    Q. What do you find to be the biggest challenge about bringing history to life for your readers? And what do you love most about breathing new life into events from the distant past?

    Even in my adult non-fiction books (Sex with Kings, Sex with the Queen, Mistress of the Vatican) I made history “sparkle off the pages,” as one reviewer wrote. It’s all in the presentation. Kids would love history if their teachers presented it in an interesting way. These were people just like you and me, trying to get through their lives in some comfort and with a certain measure of success. But in past centuries, invaders could wipe out your entire country, burn it to the ground, and kill or enslave you. Epidemics could kill everyone you knew in a matter of weeks. Civilizations could topple practically overnight. And women, servants, and people of color had absolutely no rights.

    Ask yourself, what if you had been born a slave owner in the Deep South? The child of a top Nazi in Germany? What would you have believed? How would you have acted? That’s what I love most about breathing new life into events from the distant past: getting people to think, to ask themselves what they would do, who they would be, what they would want and how they would go about getting it. We’ll never know, of course, but it’s amazing to imagine it.

    Q. What other historical figures are you dying to re-introduce to a YA audience?

    Julius Caesar! What was he like at sixteen? Cleopatra. Nefertiti. I could go on and on and on…


    About Eleanor Herman

    Eleanor-Herman

    Eleanor Herman is the New York Times bestselling author of Sex with Kings, Sex with the Queen, Mistress of the Vatican, and King Peggy. Obsessed by all things royal and historical, she lives in McLean, Virginia with her husband and four extremely dignified cats. Legacy of Kings is her first novel.

    WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK | PINTERESTGOODREADS


    About LEGACY OF KINGS

    LegacyofKingsCover

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    Title & Series: LEGACY OF KINGS (Blood of Gods and Royals #1)
    Author: Eleanor Herman
    Release date: August 18, 2015
    Publisher: Harlequin Teen
    Pages: 432
    Formats: Hardcover, eBook

    Description…

    Imagine a time when the gods turn a blind eye to the agony of men, when the last of the hellions roam the plains and evil stirs beyond the edges of the map. A time when cities burn, and in their ashes, empires rise.

    Alexander, Macedonia’s sixteen-year-old heir, is on the brink of discovering his fated role in conquering the known world but finds himself drawn to newcomer Katerina, who must navigate the dark secrets of court life while hiding her own mission: kill the Queen. But Kat’s first love, Jacob, will go to unthinkable lengths to win her, even if it means competing for her heart with Hephaestion, a murderer sheltered by the prince. And far across the sea, Zofia, a Persian princess and Alexander’s unmet fiancée, wants to alter her destiny by seeking the famed and deadly Spirit Eaters.

    Weaving fantasy with the salacious and fascinating details of real history, New York Times bestselling author Eleanor Herman reimagines the greatest emperor the world has ever known: Alexander the Great, in the first book of the Blood of Gods and Royals series.

    AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | iTUNESTHE BOOK DEPOSITORYINDIEBOUND | GOODREADS


    About VOICE OF GODS

    VoiceOfGods

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    Title & Series: VOICE OF GODS (Blood of Gods and Royals #0.5)
    Author: Eleanor Herman
    Release date: July 15, 2015
    Publisher: Harlequin Teen
    Pages: 122
    Formats: eBook

    Description…

    As the end of an age approaches, gods whisper horrors, families scheme for power and one woman may hold the secret to a lost legacy.

    At nineteen, Ada of Caria yearns to take the Snake Blood throne from her mad older siblings. She seeks the help of a young orphaned girl named Helen, the first True Oracle to have walked the earth in more than three hundred years.

    Helen may be able to channel the voice of the gods, but she hates her gift and will do anything to get rid of it—even lie to her best friend, Myrtale, the priestess-princess of Epirus who is destined to marry King Philip II of Macedon even though she loves another.

    And in the shadows lurks a handsome green-eyed stranger who has more at stake—and more to lose—than anyone could possibly imagine.

    Amid jealousy and heartbreak, torrid affairs and secret rendezvous, it is spoken by the gods that either Helen or Myrtale—newly named Olympias—will carry the destiny of the known world within her womb.

    The prequel to Legacy of Kings, Voice of Gods traces the intricate web of love and betrayal that led up to the birth of history’s most powerful leader, Alexander the Great.

    AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | GOODREADS


    The Giveaway

    I’m offering up for giveaway….

    A pre-order copy of LEGACY OF KINGS to ONE (1) winner.

    • Must be 13 or older to enter
    • There will be ONE winner
    • Giveaway is open to anywhere The Book Depository ships
    • Prize will be ordered from either Amazon or The Book Depository depending upon location
    • Giveaway ends on August 2nd at 11:59 p.m. Pacific
    • Winner will be announced in the Rafflecopter and contacted by email
    • Winner has 72 hours to respond or another winner will be chosen

    There are no requirements to like or follow the blog. But there are extra entry opportunities to follow the author and publisher on social media, for adding the books on Goodreads, for leaving a comment, and for tweeting about the post.

    Enter in the Rafflecopter below…

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

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