Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Embrace Blog Tour - Author Interview with Jessica Shirvington

Hey everyone! Are you as excited as I am for Embrace by Jessica Shirvington? This novel marks her North American debut and let me tell you the novel is great! I'm lucky enough to be a part of the blog tour for Embrace, and for that I have a fantastic author interview to share!

Here's the novel summary;

It starts with a whisper: “It’s time for you to know who you are…”

Violet Eden dreads her seventeenth birthday. After all, it’s hard to get too excited about the day that marks the anniversary of your mother’s death. As if that wasn’t enough, disturbing dreams haunt her sleep and leave her with very real injuries. There’s a dark tattoo weaving its way up her arms that wasn’t there before.

Violet is determined to get some answers, but nothing could have prepared her for the truth. The guy she thought she could fall in love with has been keeping his identity a secret: he’s only half-human—oh, and same goes for her.

A centuries-old battle between fallen angels and the protectors of humanity has chosen its new warrior. It’s a fight Violet doesn’t want, but she lives her life by two rules: don’t run and don’t quit. When angels seek vengeance and humans are the warriors, you could do a lot worse than betting on Violet Eden…
Now, on with the interview!

To date, Embrace has had many fantastic reviews. Can you describe how this makes you feel, knowing that people really adore your novel?
It is amazing! Sharing stories with people is what it is all about. The idea of someone else reading about my characters and going on the journey with them and enjoying it - it is pretty cool. Not everyone is always going to connect with the characters and the story in the way I want them to and I always knew that would be the case. But to see so many people reading about them and wanting more - it is definitely a wow kind of feeling!

What’s the best piece of life advice that you’ve ever received? Does it play any part in Embrace?
My father would say it was his: Fill your mind before you fill your pockets. My mother would say it was hers: Go for it and follow your heart. My husband might say it was his: God doesn't deny destiny, he only delays it. I think it might be all three in some ways and I suppose elements of each play into threads of the story of Embrace.

What are the three things that you never leave the house without?
Wallet, phone, pen.

Could you sum up your novel in three sentences? How about three words?
3 Sentences.
Angels are real and frightening, and they play a part in everything that happens in the universe, good and bad.
Violet must face a choice that will change her life irrevocably and set her on a path bigger than anything she could ever imagine.
Everyone's heart is on the line and everyone has to pay the price for the choices that they make.
3 words.
Heartache. Sacrifice. Consequence.

Do you remember what you were doing when the idea for Embrace came to you?
Sitting at the breakfast bar in my kitchen. I don't know why I opened my laptop exactly... Sometimes things just happen. I decided on most of the key elements of Embrace that day.

Any plans for a sophomore series? How about a stand-alone novel or two?
I definitely have plans. I'd like to write a stand-alone. I think the challenge is different to a series and there is a story I would very much like to write when the time is right.

Your novel has a North American release date of March 6, 2012 from Sourcebooks Fire. Just how excited/nervous are you on a scale of 1-10? 1 being inhumanly calm, and 10 being about to wet yourself in public – and not care who sees.
Probably around an 8 on your scale. Translation: So incredibly nervous that I could pee myself, but not so nervous that I wouldn't be mortified by it!

If you could meet Violet in person right before the start of the novel and give her one piece of advice, what would it be?
 Hold on tight and don't forget who you are.

If you had to choose only one novel to read for the rest of your life, which would it be?
It's an impossible choice. Too much to give up in return for one novel that would forever disappoint as a result.

Any plans for book tours in the near future?
Yes! I'm going to be in the US in September in time for the release of book 2, Enticed. I am so looking forward to the trip and having a chance to chat with as many readers as possible. More details will be posted closer to the time at the Embrace The Series website:

ARC cover for Embrace

I love the covers for Embrace, though I have to admit that I completely adore the ARC cover more than the finished copy – it’s just so pretty! Did you have a lot of say in what they looked like? Did they turn out how you imagined?
The cover exceeded my expectations. Like you, I fell in love with the ARC cover. Something about its simplicity just worked so well. I didn't believe Sourcebooks would be able to top it, but when I saw the final design - I was totally blown away. It captures the essence of the story and works so well as the image to start the series. On top of that they have given it the soft-touch finish - needless to say, lots of petting in my future! I was very lucky to be given an early glimpse at the mockups they were considering. To tell the truth, when I saw them, I loved them all. I told them my favorite but that I was happy to leave it in their hands. As luck would have it, they shared my opinion and my favorite ended up as the cover.

A lot happens with Violet in this novel. Did you initially go into writing knowing exactly what would happen, or did some bits of the plot just sneak up on you out of nowhere?
My initial chapter breakdown allowed for 16 chapters. I finished with 36. It's safe to say I was surprised along the way - to me that is the beauty of writing. If it was all perfectly mapped out and there was no element of surprise it would be difficult for me to fully connect with the characters. By letting them come to life on the page, by letting their choices steer them in a surprising direction - better scenes and outcomes are discovered. I will always welcome a sneaky attack!

If you could choose just one song that really sets the mood for Embrace and captures the feeling of the novel, what would it be?
Hardest of Hearts - Florence and The Machine

Now, it's time for a super special surprise! Namely, a giveaway of Embrace from Sourcebooks! Mucho thanks to them for providing a copy for giveaway! All you have to do it fill in the form below. US and Canadian addresses only, please. Contest will end on March 6, 2012 - the Embrace release date!

Fill out this form here.
contest over

Sunday, February 26, 2012

In My Mailbox (82)

Books mentioned in the video;

Princess Academy by Shannon Hale
Jane by April Linder
Roswell High #1 by Melinda Metz
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
Wolf Speaker by Tamora Pierce
Break and Enter by Norah McClintock
Lemony Snicket: The Unauthorized Autobiography by Lemony Snicket
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes by Anita Loos
The Way We Fall by Megan Crewe
The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May and June by Robin Benway
Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
Auracle Gina Rosati
This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers
Monument 14 by Emmy Labourne

Remember to check out The Story Siren for more IMM fun! Leave me a line and let me know what you got this week in your mailbox!

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Last Science

Chain Reaction

Written by: Simone Elkeles

Released: August 16, 2011 by Walker Books for Young Readers

Summary: Luis Fuentes has always been sheltered from the gang violence that nearly destroyed his brothers’ lives. But that didn’t stop him from taking risks—whether he’s scaling a mountain in the Rockies or dreaming of a future as an astronaut, Luis can’t stop looking for the next thrill.

Nikki Cruz lives her life by three rules—boys lie to get their way, don’t trust a boy who says “I love you,” and never date a boy from the south side of Fairfield. Her parents may be from Mexico, but as a doctor’s daughter, she has more in common with her north-side neighbors than the Latino Blood at her school. Then she meets Luis at Alex’s wedding, and suddenly, she’s tempted to break all her rules.

Getting Nikki to take a chance on a southsider is Luis’s biggest challenge, until he finds himself targeted by Chuy Soto, the new head of the Latino Blood. When Chuy reveals a disturbing secret about Luis’s family, the youngest Fuentes finds himself questioning everything he’s ever believed to be true. Will his feelings for Nikki be enough to stop Luis from entering a dark and violent world and permanently living on the edge?

I recorded this video a while ago and I've only just gotten around to editing it. So, here's my review of Chain Reaction. I gave it a 7.5/10. Please keep in mind that when I did record this, it was around 1am... :D

Friday, February 17, 2012

In My Mailbox (81)

Sorry for not listing the books as well, but due to lack of time I'm taking the lazy way out.

Explanation for lateness is in the video.

The AMAZING Ottawa area bloggers!

From left to right;

Kathy - A Glass of Wine
Meaghan - Feeling a Little Bookish
Emilie - Emilie's Book World
Katie - Bookishly Yours

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Author Interview with A.C. Gaughen

The mysteriously named A.C. Gaughen (A.C. always making me think of A.C. Slater...) is here today with an interview about her debut young adult novel, Scarlet, which is amazing and you all should read it ASAP. Here's the lovely summary;

Now on with the interview!
Many readers know the tale of Robin Hood, but they will be swept away by this new version full of action, secrets, and romance. Posing as one of Robin Hood’s thieves to avoid the wrath of the evil Thief Taker Lord Gisbourne, Scarlet has kept her identity secret from all of Nottinghamshire.

Only the Hood and his band know the truth: the agile thief posing as a whip of a boy is actually a fearless young woman with a secret past. Helping the people of Nottingham outwit the corrupt Sheriff of Nottingham could cost Scarlet her life as Gisbourne closes in.

It’s only her fierce loyalty to Robin—whose quick smiles and sharp temper have the rare power to unsettle her—that keeps Scarlet going and makes this fight worth dying for.

There’s a bit of a love triangle in your novel. What made you want to write it into the story?

It is HYSTERICAL to me that people have been paying attention to the love triangle!  I thought that the romance in the story was super predictable, that one of the guys never had a chance (but I wanted to give him a chance because *I* like him), and that this was nothing close to a love triangle.  But apparently it is!  I think it just proves that authors never really see their work the way their readers do.  Which is AWESOME. 

I’m going to admit that it took me a whole to get into the language of Scarlet. Was there a lot of research involved for the dialect in this novel?

So, interestingly, and slightly off topic, a popular theory is that the dialect and cadence of late Medieval England is remarkably similar to the modern Boston accent (which is where I'm from). Which really has nothing to do with it.  It was a very authorial choice, actually--I knew Scarlet would have a very visual, very experience-based vocabulary, I knew that common folk in Medieval England had no access to the kind of learning that would lead nobles to know the difference between such complicated conjugations such as the past tense of "is" (thus her difficulty with "was" and "were"), and something that I put in there VERY deliberately is the lack of "-ly" adverbs.  The only "-ly" adverb Scarlet uses (with exception of a few that are in there for clarity) is HONESTLY.  I thought I was being quite clever!

If America’s Next Top Model used your novel as inspiration for a photo shoot, what would the set and the costumes look like?

It would be like a modern reinterpretation with all the girls in super dramatic scarlet evening gowns (preferably with insanely long trains) in the act of stealing things and posing with knives.  Off set the bitchy girls would make snide comments about stealing granola bars and knives in the back.  

If you could go on a dream date with anyone (alive or dead) who would it be and what would you do?

But if we're talking a ROMANTIC date, Aladdin.  He would make Abu steal something for me, I would swoon, and the magic carpet would catch me.  Solid.  
So, one of my teachers in my postgrad program really didn't like my writing.  I was eagerly retooling the same novel over and over, and she just wasn't into it.  She said, "Just write something different!" and--furious!--I went home and vented my rage into this angsty, grumpy, strange little voice.   It took me about three years to realize what the STORY was, but Scarlet's voice was there right from the very beginning.  

Do you remember what you were doing when the idea for Scarlet came to you? 

Jonah from the Bible. He lived in a WHALE for three days and three nights.  What goes through your head when you're living in a whale?  Don't tell me you're not curious. 

Your novel has a release date of February 2012 from Walker Children’s. Just how excited/nervous are you on a scale of 1-10? 1 being inhumanly calm, and 10 being about to wet yourself in public – and not care who sees.

Right now, probably about a 8, and that's down from a 10 last week.  I'm a pre-stresser; I like to freak out beforehand and then I'm cool as a cucumber when it's go-time.  I'll be a 2 for Valentine's Day!  

What’s your guiltiest of guilty pleasures?

Garrett's Chicago Popcorn.  I love the cheese flavor, and the pecan one.  They have one store outside of Chicago and it's in New York--RIGHT by the bus stop for the Bolt Bus to Boston!  I am totally obsessed.  That and loving my dogs to distraction.  They're painfully cute.  

Any plans to travel to New York City for BEA 2012?

Yes!  I'm definitely going to be around and hanging out with my Class of 2k12 debut authors (  I don't have the final word on all the events yet, but I'm planning on it!  

You have a lot of twists in this Robin Hood tale. Did a lot of them happen as the story was being written or did you go into writing knowing that they would happen?

What people consider the "MAJOR TWIST" in the book I knew from the start--most of the other twists are in there to make it less obvious!  I definitely am not a planner, so some of them took me by surprise--which is really the BEST part of writing!  

Thank you Mme. Gaughen for this awesome interview! I'm pretty sure I stole your author photo from your website... Scarlet comes out in bookstores near you on February 14 - just in time for Valentine's Day! Make sure to add it to your To Read lists and stay tuned for my review of Scarlet some time very soon.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

A Rose by Any Other Name

Written by: Andrea Cremer
Released: January 3, 2012 by Philomel

Summary: Calla has always welcomed war.

But now that the final battle is upon her, there's more at stake than fighting. There's saving Ren, even if it incurs Shay's wrath. There's keeping Ansel safe, even if he's been branded a traitor. There's proving herself as the pack's alpha, facing unnamable horrors, and ridding the world of the Keepers' magic once and for all. And then there's deciding what to do when the war ends. If Calla makes it out alive, that is.

I babble. Sorry for that. This was a great book even though I didn’t necessarily enjoy all of it. Still, I’m giving it a 9-9.5/10. If you haven’t read this series yet, what’s wrong with you? ;)

Thank you Penguin Canada for sending me my copy in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Wish List Wednesday - Number Seventy-Three

Breaking Beautiful
Written by: Jennifer Shaw Wolf
Released: April 24, 2012 by Walker Children’s
Summary: Allie is overwhelmed after her boyfriend, Trip, dies in a car accident, leaving her scarred and unable to recall what happened that night. But she feels she must uncover the truth, even if it could hurt the people who tried to save her from Trip's abuse.
With a tag line like “Does time heal all wounds” how can this not be a great contemporary? I really want to know what happens and how everything ends. I’m sucked into the story already! Also, can we all just take a moment to love this cover?