Sunday, September 30, 2012

Madly in Love: The Evolution of Mara Dyer Blog Tour

Hey Everyone!

I'm beyond excited today to announce the upcoming promotional tour for Michelle Hodkin's The Evolution of Mara Dyer, one of my most anticipated books of the year. Or possibly ever. The wonderful and beautiful Danny from Bewitched Bookworms and I are honored to be hosting this tour, and we can't wait to tease, torture, and titillate you all with 12 days of exclusive content. Who's excited?

Starting October 15th and running through October 30th, twelve amazing blogs will be featuring quotes and small snippets from Evolution, all of which focus on Mara and Noah specifically to give you a sneak peek into their relationship in this dark and delicious sequel. In addition to the quotes, each stop will feature questions posed to Michelle to create an ongoing interview week to week and provide you with more inside scoop on this stunning couple.

I hope all of you are now looking forward to this as much as I am! Please mark your calendars to remind yourselves to get your Mara and Noah fix each and every day of the week leading up to and the week of the book's release on October 23rd:)

Monday, October 15th - Supernatural Snark
Tuesday, October 16th - Mundie Moms
Wednesday, October 17th - The Book Swarm
Thursday, October 18th - Refracted Light Reviews
Friday, October 19th - Dazzling Reads

Monday, October 22nd - Candace's Book Blog
Tuesday, October 23rd (release day) - Bookish Type Reviews
Wednesday, October 24th - Page Turners
Thursday, October 25th - Pure Imagination
Friday, October 26th - Bewitched Bookworms

Monday, October 29th - Books and Things
Tuesday, October 30th - Alice Marvels

Wait, there's more! To make this event a little more interactive in nature, Michelle would like to give fans and readers the chance to submit interview questions for the tour. If you would like to ask Michelle, Mara, or Noah a question, just fill out the form below. Please note that not all submitted questions will be answered, instead a handful will be chosen and featured on the various tour stops, so we encourage you to submit only your most burning (but not spoiler-related) Mara Dyer questions! The form will be open through Wednesday, October 3rd, any questions submitted after that date will not be eligible for the tour.


Mara Dyer once believed she could run from her past.

She can’t.

She used to think her problems were all in her head.

They aren’t.

She couldn’t imagine that after everything she’s been through, the boy she loves would still be keeping secrets.

She’s wrong.

In this gripping sequel to The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, the truth evolves and choices prove deadly. What will become of Mara Dyer next?

Friday, September 28, 2012

Blogfest 2012!

Welcome to Blogfest 2012!

This giveaway hop is hosted by A Journey of Books, so be sure and visit to get the full list of participating blogs!

One winner will be selected and they will have their choice of one of the above titles. The books shown and listed are either some of my favorites or ones that I'm greatly looking forward to when they release. There are books from all my favorite genres: Paranormal Young Adult, Urban Fantasy, and Paranormal Romance, so hopefully there's a little something for everyone!

Since this is a blog hop and you'll all likely be entering numerous giveaways, I'm going to keep things really simple. No complicated extra entries, just follow the blog and fill out the form with your name and email address so I can contact you if you win. If for some reason the form doesn't work, feel free to email me at with BLOGFEST 2012 in the subject line and I'll make sure you're entered. This giveaway will end at midnight (EST) on Sunday, September 30th after which time a winner will be chosen and emailed.

This giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY as long as The Book Depository delivers to your country. You can check the list of countries here.

Valkyrie Rising by Ingrid Paulson
Deity by Jennifer Armentrout
The Evolution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin
The Crown of Embers by Rae Carson
Rift by Andrea Cremer
Phantom Shadows by Diane Duvall
On Dublin Street by Samantha Young
Lord's Fall by Thea Harrison
Run the Risk by Lori Foster

Be sure and visit the next 4 blogs in the hop!
Confessions of a Bookaholic
Good Choice Reading

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Review: Eve and Adam

Michael Grant and Katherine Applegate
Young Adult
304 pages
Feiwel & Friends
Available October 2nd
Received from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Amazon)
In the beginning, there was an apple –

And then there was a car crash, a horrible injury, and a hospital. But before Evening Spiker's head clears a strange boy named Solo is rushing her to her mother’s research facility. There, under the best care available, Eve is left alone to heal.
Just when Eve thinks she will die – not from her injuries, but from boredom—her mother gives her a special project: Create the perfect boy.

Using an amazingly detailed simulation, Eve starts building a boy from the ground up. Eve is creating Adam. And he will be just perfect . . . won’t he?

Quick and entertaining, Eve and Adam is one of those stories that doesn’t try to be deep and poignant; Mr. Grant and Ms. Applegate clearly preferring our lips to be curled in amusement rather than brows furrowed in concentration, making it extraordinarily easy to fly through Eve’s story in a single sitting. Those picking this book up hoping for an intense character study aren’t going to find it, as Eve, Solo, and finally Adam himself remain characters who don’t necessarily have us spellbound with their complexity, but though we remain in shallow waters with them, we find ourselves invested in their lives nonetheless. Despite some darker elements, Eve and Adam has a desirable lightness to it, the dialogue witty and easy-flowing as we’re carried from page to page with the assistance of smooth transitions from Eve’s point of view to Solo’s and finally Adam’s, and we reach the last page before we’re quite ready for our time with each of them to be over.

Eve has our attention from the very first line of the very first chapter, musing over her choice of less-than profound thoughts as she hurtles through the air after being hit by a car, showing us instantly that this is going to be a story that has the potential to be dark with the characters brooding and introspective, but chooses to have a little fun instead. She and Solo have enough tension and attraction sparking between them to give us the butterflies any lover of romance craves, their interactions sweet without being overly saccharine as they work their way toward coupledom without much drama or fanfare. Solo does come to the conclusion that his affection for Eve is in fact love perhaps a bit quicker than is believable, but given his relative isolation growing up in Spiker Biopharm it’s fairly easy to beat back the desire to scoff at his love-laced revelations and continue to allow ourselves to be simply entertained.

The story progresses at an even pace until the end, shocking us slightly when a few impressively unexpected things come to light for Eve and Solo only to have events wrap up a few short pages later. Despite a somewhat abrupt and underdeveloped ending, Eve and Adam is the perfect book to pick up when you want a reminder of how much fun reading can be, and when one prefers that reminder to come without a lot of emotional grittiness. I believe this book has a sequel in the works, and it’s certainly one I’m going to pick up with the hope we’ll dig a little deeper under the skin of Eve, Solo and Adam while keeping the same fluid style that made this first book so easy to get lost in.

Rating: 4/5

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Character Interview: Gabriel and Layne from Spark

I don't think I can coherently express my excitement over today's interview given the fact it features Gabriel and Layne from the second book in Brigid Kemmerer's paranormal young adult series, Spark (you can read my review here). I was a little late to the Merrick brothers party (*pats self on back for a job well done*), arriving after much swooning and gushing took place, and wondering just what exactly I was so clearly missing out on. Let me tell you something. I was missing out on a lot. A LOT. A lot of hotness. A lot of family drama. A lot of pain and heartache. And a lot of hotness. That bears mentioning twice:) Gabriel, one of the loves of my life, is here today along with girlfriend Layne to answer a few questions for me, I hope you guys enjoy the interview!

Layne, let’s flash back to the moment you first laid eyes on Gabriel. If in that moment you had to assign an element to him, would you have chosen fire?

Layne: *blushes* The moment I first laid eyes on him? He was hot. So, yes, fire would have been my first guess.

Gabriel, your mouth gets you in trouble more often than not. Can you give us a single instance with either Layne or your brothers where you would have rewound events if possible and kept your mouth shut?

Gabriel: Dude, there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t wish for a rewind button.

Neither of your parents really knows you very well Layne. If you could tell your dad one thing about you that he doesn’t know about what makes you you, what would you tell him? About Simon?

Layne: My dad is kinda overprotective, so I don’t think I’d tell him much of anything about me. He already knows too much. *frowns* I do wish he knew how much Simon loves basketball, though. My little brother might be deaf, but he sure can play.

Gabriel, what’s one thing you think Michael has done well in raising the three of you?

Gabriel: *snorts* Staying alive this long.

After spending a great deal of time with Gabriel (lucky girl) and coming to understand him on a variety of levels, how do you think he would describe himself? How does that differ from how you would describe him? Gabriel, same question to you regarding Layne.

Layne: I think Gabriel thinks he’s a screwup. I think he’s brave and fearless.

Gabriel: And hot, right?

Layne: I already said you’re hot. Your turn.

Gabriel: *shrug* I think Layne thinks she’s damaged. I think she’s perfect.

Gabriel, do you think Quinn will grow on you?

Gabriel: *rolls eyes* I doubt it.

Layne, when did you first know that Gabriel was more than the thug/bad boy you originally took him for?
Layne: When he played basketball with Simon. No one ever wants to play with the deaf kid, and he acted like it was no big deal.

Gabriel: It wasn’t a big deal. He’s a good player.

If you could both ask each other one question you had to answer truthfully right now, what would you ask? And how would you both answer?

Gabriel: *deadpan* Layne, do you want to see me naked?

Layne: There’s no way I’m following that.

Um. Layne? The answer to that question is YES. Just saying. Thanks so much for stopping by both of you! More information on Brigid and her books can be found here:

Amazon Buy Link


Gabriel Merrick plays with fire. Literally.

Sometimes he can even control it. And sometimes he can’t. Like the fire that killed his parents.

Gabriel has always had his brothers to rely on, especially his twin, Nick. But when an arsonist starts wreaking havoc on their town, all the signs point to Gabriel. Only he’s not doing it.

More than Gabriel’s pride is at stake -- this could cost him his family, maybe his life. And no one seems to hear him. Except a shy sophomore named Layne, a brainiac who dresses in turtlenecks and jeans and keeps him totally off balance. Layne understands family problems, and she understands secrets. She has a few of her own.

Gabriel can’t let her guess about his brothers, about his abilities, about the danger that’s right at his heels. But there are some risks he can’t help taking.

The fuse is lit…

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Divinity Blog Tour: Guest Post with Patricia Leever + Giveaway

Today I'm pleased to welcome author Patricia Leever to the blog as part of the promotional tour for her adult urban fantasy/paranormal romance hybrid, Divinity (Divinity releases TODAY from Omnific Publishing). She's here to share with us what she loves most about strong heroines (yeah!) and how she came by her appreciation for women who aren't afraid to be a little badass. Welcome to Supernatural Snark Patricia!

Greetings my super amazing love monkeys! Are you enjoying this blog tour so far? I sure as heck am! I love going to new places and making new friends like Jenny over here at Supernatural Snark! Thank you so much for having me over Jenny!

Okie dokie, anyone out there that knows me, knows that I love, LOVE, my heroines to kick some serious ass! And to be perfectly honest with you I had no idea why. I mean, not only do I love them in books that I read and television shows/movies that I watch, it is imperative that the heroines I create for my own pieces are bad-ass, take-no-crap, tough chicks with a side of girlie. It wasn’t until recently when I ran across a photo someone posted on Facebook of Wonder Woman, that I knew where it all began for me.

Yep, it all started with Wonder Woman. I was born in 1971 and being a child of the 70s and 80s I can clearly recall my love for things that had strong women in them, the Wonder Woman television show for one. I remember watching Linda Carter catch the bad guys and even in the Saturday morning cartoons, Wonder Woman was my homegirl. Then of course there was Erin Gray who played Wilma Deering on Buck Rogers and we can’t forget Lindsey Wagner as the Bionic Woman and Sigourney Weaver as Ripley in the Alien series and so many more I can’t even begin to name them all!

These women made such an impression on my young mind. I loved that these women didn’t wait for the man to leap in and save the day, they took charge, they grabbed a gun or a golden lasso and saved themselves! I think that’s why the female leads in my books are strong, capable women that aren’t afraid to speak their minds and kick some ass!

Well, I’d like to thank Jenny again for letting me occupy her blog for a second! Take care my monkeys and I’ll see you at the next stop!

Until next time,

Thanks so much for taking the time to stop by Patricia! More information on Patricia and her books can be found here:

B&N Buy Link
Amazon Buy Link

Thanks to Patricia and Omnific Publishing I have one paperback copy of Divinity to give away on the blog today! To enter, please fill out the Rafflecopter form below. Giveaway is open to US residents only and will run through midnight on Friday, September 28th after which time a winner will be chosen and emailed. Good luck everyone!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

And don't forget to check out the other stops on the Divinity Tour:
September 17: The Unread Reader
September 18: Rainy Day Ramblings
September 19: The Nocturnal Library
September 20: Book and Things
September 21: Candace’s Book Blog

September 24: Tina’s Book Reviews
September 25 (release day): Supernatural Snark and Geeky Blogger’s Book Blog
September 26: Bewitched Bookworms
September 27: The Unread Reader
September 28: Happily Ever After Reads

They’re everywhere, hiding in plain sight. Chances are, you’ve interacted with one or two of them in your lifetime without even realizing it...

Demon hunter Evelyn Brighton saves unsuspecting humans from the malevolent creatures masquerading around them every day. Working under the Lebriga Corporation’s direction, she never fails to bring her A-game with her keen skill, fiercely independent spirit, and the best weapon in her arsenal: the Divinity blade.

Evelyn’s world is turned on its ear, however, when she is ordered to train cocky new recruit Daniel Summers. They both feel an instinctive pull drawing them to one another, the ancient spells tattooed into their skin illuminating whenever the two hunters come into contact. But with evil looming over the city of Los Angeles, Evelyn and Daniel’s mutual competitiveness and sense of duty to Lebriga and all humankind forces them to hold back their desires. Will their restraint be enough to keep them focused and save southern California, or will the dark forces prevail?

Set in modern-day Los Angeles, Divinity is an action-filled, fast-paced marriage of urban fantasy and paranormal romance. Edgy, witty, and sexy, it will bind you in its spell.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Review: Alice in Zombieland

(White Rabbit Chronicles #1)
Gena Showalter
Paranormal Young Adult
404 pages
Harlequin Teen
Available September 25th
Received from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
She won’t rest until she’s sent every walking corpse back to its grave. Forever.

Had anyone told Alice Bell that her entire life would change course between one heartbeat and the next, she would have laughed. From blissful to tragic, innocent to ruined? Please. But that’s all it took. One heartbeat. A blink, a breath, a second, and everything she knew and loved was gone.

Her father was right. The monsters are real….

To avenge her family, Ali must learn to fight the undead. To survive, she must learn to trust the baddest of the bad boys, Cole Holland. But Cole has secrets of his own, and if Ali isn’t careful, those secrets might just prove to be more dangerous than the zombies….

As she does so effortlessly with her adult Lords of the Underworld series, Ms. Showalter impeccably combines darkness and humor in her newest young adult series; crafting a world that becomes all the more terrifying the more we learn about it, but also filling it with individuals from whom charm and wit wafts in delightful waves. Her protagonists are fierce and determined, tragedy marking each and every one of them with permanent physical and emotional scars, but instead of succumbing to their pain they instead forcefully remove themselves from Death’s loving embrace, shoving his arms away and continuing on with life despite his constant presence by their sides. Making the battle to remain free of Death’s clutches difficult is Ms. Showalter’s take on zombies, a fascinatingly horrifying version of the living dead who wage their war on the spiritual plane rather than the physical one, and we’re easily swept away in their macabre tide.

Alice is a standout heroine, bolstered after the death of her family by an equally standout character in best friend Kat, the two of them causing many an unladylike snort to escape our lips as the banter between them flies back and forth at records speeds. Despite the pain of learning her father’s rantings were not those of man losing his grip on reality, but rather those of a man of sound mind and body fighting to protect his family, she never crumbles or despairs of her past mistakes, instead she vows to join the fight as a way of honoring his memory. Though Cole is intimidating and has the type of personality that easily swallows people whole, she never once backs down from him, seeing his demands and orders and raising him a constant barrage of questions about her newly discovered supernatural world.

Cole is cause for a bit of concern initially, his bad-boy status and Ali’s intense draw to him instantly setting off warning bells in our heads that suggest he might be the type of brooding love interest we’ve seen again and again. Our unease continues with some soulful glances across a crowded cafeteria and some stalker-like tendencies, but once he and Ali clear the air between them on the zombie front, he morphs into a character all his own, shedding the initial clichés and leaving them in a rumpled pile at his feet. Ms. Showalter has a gift for creating extraordinarily sexy male characters–men who practically singe the pages with the heat they throw off– and Cole is certainly no exception. His more intimate moments with Ali are enough to have us getting up to drop the air conditioning down a few degrees before continuing, but with the sensual side of him also comes the emotional side, combining to ensure we never have cause to doubt he’s anything other than genuine in his pursuit of Ali.

Though we’re definitely left with a few general questions as to how the zombies in this world function and what role our villains so desperately want them to play, they’re questions we expect to have left at the end of a first installment, and we’re content when we reach the final page to wait and see what Ms. Showalter will bring to the table moving forward. A monstrously entertaining beginning, Alice in Zombieland has readily claimed a spot on my shelf of favorites.

Rating: 4.5/5

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Fun Happenings This Week

Hey Everyone!

Sometimes during the week I learn of a few interesting bookish tidbits, so the past couple weeks I've been taking a few minutes to put together a post that gathers them together so I can share the fun all at one time:) These posts are typically an assortment of randomness, and I for one am a big fan of all things random, so I hope you guys enjoy!


I was recently asked by the awesome folks at Epic Reads to sponsor their weekly Like, Try, Why feature wherein books are recommended based on a preference for a particular genre, trope, type of character, or any other number of things. Basically it's a "if you're a fan of title A, then title B is the book for you" situation (hence the feature name), and I had a blast coming up with the reasoning behind my three suggestions below!

I want to extend a huge thank you to HarperCollins and Epic Reads for letting me be a part of Like, Try, Why, and if any bloggers out there are interested in coming up with your own recommendations for this feature, be sure to contact epicreads(at)harpercollins(dot)com to let them know you're interested.


I'm thrilled today to share with you the new cover design for the third book in Darby Karchut's young adult Griffin series, Griffin's Storm. This book will be releasing in December of this year, and as I very much enjoyed the first book in the series, Griffin Rising, I can't wait to get caught up with Griffin's Fire before picking this third book up!


For centuries, there have been rumors about a lowly caste of supernatural beings known as the Terrae Angeli. Armed with the power to control Earth, Fire, Wind and Water, these warriors and their apprentices clandestinely serve as guardians for humans in danger.

An old enemy returns. A new alliance is formed. And Griffin finds himself in the eye of the storm when an ancient racial hatred is set loose, jeopardizing the very existence of the Terrae Angeli.

Once again, the teen guardian angel is forced to battle his worst nightmare. But this time, Griffin comes back swinging. With a vengeance.

After all, an eye for an eye...

More information on Darby and her books can be found here:


Macmillan Audio was nice enough to share with me a brief clip from the audiobook of Elizabeth Fama's dark paranormal tale (ha! I amuse myself with my oh-so brilliant allusion to mermaids) Monstrous Beauty, so I thought I would forward this little taste on:

Fierce, seductive mermaid Syrenka falls in love with Ezra, a young naturalist. When she abandons her life underwater for a chance at happiness on land, she is unaware that this decision comes with horrific and deadly consequences. Almost one hundred forty years later, seventeen-year-old Hester meets a mysterious stranger named Ezra and feels overwhelmingly, inexplicably drawn to him. 

For generations, love has resulted in death for the women in her family. Is it an undiagnosed genetic defect . . . or a curse? With Ezra’s help, Hester investigates her family’s strange, sad history. The answers she seeks are waiting in the graveyard, the crypt, and at the bottom of the ocean—but powerful forces will do anything to keep her from uncovering her connection to Syrenka and to the tragedy of so long ago.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Guest Post: Kevin Harkness + City of Demons

Today I'm excited to share the blog with author Kevin Harkness who's stopping by to talk about his new YA fantasy novel, City of Demons. Welcome to Supernatural Snark Kevin!


There’s a scene in a movie, Topsy Turvy, that captures my favourite part of writing.  Jim Broadbent, playing the nineteenth-century writer of light opera, W.S. Gilbert, is playing with a sword he bought at a Japanese exhibition.  He swings the sword back and forth, pauses, then a small smile appears, and in his eyes you can see the birth of The Mikado

That is the best part of writing.  When you have it, in that moment, you are Gilbert - and you are Mozart, Gaugin, and Einstein too.  You are genius. 

Granted, the feeling doesn’t last, because now you have to remake that concept using words.  This was no problem for Gilbert.  He seemed to have an inexhaustible supply of lunatic humor under his Victorian tweed – the scene in which Broadbent does a straight-faced reading of The Mikado’s silliness for his partner-composer Sullivan is worth the price of the DVD alone.  Most of us, however, struggle to give some form to our grand ideas.

My YA fantasy novel, City of Demons, started with two such ideas.  The first was from a memory of my own childhood.  I was five years old, and something bad lived in my closet.  I’m sure this was a common problem, perhaps even a cliché for five-year olds across Canada, but it seemed very important and personal to me.  One day, after many weeks of almost, I opened the closet door.  That may have been the bravest thing I have ever done or will do.  It led my adult self to think, who is more courageous, those who fight or those who fear – and if a monster's main weapon is fear, who is better suited to fight it? 

The second grand idea was born in magic, or more specifically a Magic, The Gathering card.  I was a teacher in a Richmond, B.C. high school at the time, and these were all the rage among the Grade Eight and Nine boys.  One such card was left in the class, and I put it on the corner of my desk, where it sat unclaimed.  Before class one morning I was examining it.  The card showed a wide expanse of prairie.  Golden grass swayed and grey clouds scudded over a distant horizon.  I began to wonder, who would cross such a plain.  Where were they going, and in what company?  Did they travel by choice or necessity?  My first grand idea about fear poked its nose in to have a look.

I smiled, and City of Demons was born. 

Or at least conceived.  The pregnancy was difficult and the creature presented at birth needed a lot of reconstructive surgery, but the concept kept me going.  With the help of wise and patient reading friends, I improved my writing, learned plotting and pacing, and even some lunatic humor.  I still can’t read my own prose without wanting to fix it, but maybe Gilbert felt the same way. 

And now for my point.

Don’t give up on a concept.  Work at it.  Rewrite it.  Edit, polish, add, cut – do whatever it takes.  You may never publish - I collected a fine set of rejections before Tyche Books saw something in my novel – but keep working.  That idea gave you one of the best moments of your life.  You owe it some sweat.

Perfectly stated Kevin, thanks so much for taking the time to share with us how City of Demons came to be! More information on Kevin and his books can be found here:

Tyche Books Buy Link
Amazon Buy Link


Demons are invading the Midlands for the first time in centuries.

The farmers have no defences against the murderous creatures. Swords in the hands of ordinary soliders have no effect against demons, for the ability to resist a demon's power - a projection of paralyzing fear - cannot be taught.

Garet's life is forever changed the night his midlands family is attacked. Demonstrating a rare talent for resisting demon fear, Garet is taken to the city of Shirath to become a Demonbane: one who can withstand the demons' psychic assault, trained in combat, and learned in demon lore.

But the ancient city isn't a safe haven, it's a death trap. While opposing political forces vie for the throne, a new demon terrorizes the citizens. To save Shirath, Garet must find friends and allies quickly, because the biggest treat to the city isn't the demons, but the people living within the city's walls.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Character Interview + Giveaway: Theta from The Diviners

As part of the promotional blog tour for Libba Bray's The Diviners, I have the pleasure of welcoming rising star Theta to Supernatural Snark today. To borrow a word from main character Evie, I'm "pos-i-toot-ly" thrilled to have Theta here to answer a few questions about what it's like to make a living on stage as a Ziegfeld Girl in New York City in the 1920's, but you'll want to be sure and visit the other participating blogs as well to get more character interviews and inside scoop on life during the time:

9/17 - Evie visits Forever Young Adult
9/18 - Sam visits The Book Smugglers
9/19 - Memphis visits Good Books and Good Wine
9/20 - Theta visits me
9/21 - Uncle Will visits Novel Novice

Let's all give a huge round of applause for Theta! *stands up and claps*

When you walked into the theatre for the first time and saw the stage, what ran through your mind?

Gee, that’s a lot bigger than the Palace back in Kansas City.

If you had five minutes alone with Flo to tell him every idea you and Henry have for the show knowing he would listen and take them under advisement, what’s the first thing you’d suggest?

I’d tell him to get rid of those jokes that were stale before my mother was born (whoever she was). Then I’d tell him to head uptown to the clubs to see what’s really hot, fellas like Duke Ellington, Count Basie, and Louis Armstrong. He should give a listen to records by Bessie Smith and Ma Rainey or to songs by Harold Arlen and George & Ira Gershwin. Naturally, I’d give a plug for my pal, Henry—not the Dumbdora songs Hen has to write to keep our rent paid but the beautiful, secret songs he’s always scribbling down in the middle of the night. Last but not least, I’d tell Flo to can that tomato, Daisy Goodwin he put in the big number: She can’t act; she can’t dance; and she sure can’t sing—a real triple threat.

What aspect of your elaborate costumes do you love most? Like least?

You call those skimpy glad rags costumes? It’s barely enough material to cover a flea’s a—um, a flea’s derriere. And the headpieces weigh a ton! Pal, if it were up to me, I’d be performing in my pajamas every night.

If Henry was going to write two songs about your life, one from the time before you met him and one from the time after, what might the title of each song be?

Before: “I Got Them Stuck-in-Kansas-With-A-No-Good-Man-Need-To-Get-Out Blues.”

After: “Everything’s Jake (Knock Wood).”

The title of a Ziegfeld girl is something a lot of young girls dream of attaining. What advice might you have for someone who longs to join you onstage under the bright lights?

Move to the left kid. The spotlight’s mine.

Thanks so much for popping in Theta! More information about this fabulous book (read my review HERE) can be found at these links:

The Diviners Series Website
The Diviners on Facebook


Thanks to the fantastic people at Little, Brown I have a truly amazing giveaway for you guys today. Included in this epic prize pack is not only a signed finished copy of The Diviners, but also a Diviners necklace, a 1920's headband and a few Bit O' Honeys (I've never had one of these, but anything with sugar in it is a win with me!). To enter, please just leave a comment telling me one aspect of life in the roaring twenties you would have loved to experience - the fashion, the music, the shows, etc. and be sure to include a valid email address so I can contact you if you win. This giveaway is open to US residents only and will run through Friday, September 28th after which time a winner will be chosen and emailed. Good luck everyone!


Evie O'Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City–and she is pos-i-toot-ly thrilled. New York is the city of speakeasies, shopping, and movie palaces! Soon enough, Evie is running with glamorous Ziegfield girls and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is Evie has to live with her Uncle Will, curator of The Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult–also known as "The Museum of the Creepy Crawlies."

When a rash of occult-based murders comes to light, Evie and her uncle are right in the thick of the investigation. And through it all, Evie has a secret: a mysterious power that could help catch the killer–if he doesn't catch her first.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Review: The Diviners

THE DIVINERS (Diviners #1)
Libba Bray
Paranormal Young Adult
608 pages
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Available Now
Received from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Evie O'Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City–and she is pos-i-toot-ly thrilled. New York is the city of speakeasies, shopping, and movie palaces! Soon enough, Evie is running with glamorous Ziegfield girls and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is Evie has to live with her Uncle Will, curator of The Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult–also known as "The Museum of the Creepy Crawlies."

When a rash of occult-based murders comes to light, Evie and her uncle are right in the thick of the investigation. And through it all, Evie has a secret: a mysterious power that could help catch the killer–if he doesn't catch her first.

The Diviners is a sprawling paranormal murder mystery, one that features a large cast of very unique characters all linked through special abilities that mark them as different from the world around them. Ms. Bray shows exemplary skill in crafting an extremely intricate story, each of the many characters having their own fascinating history we can’t help but want to learn more about, and we’re given just enough to feel as though we have a grasp, however tenuous, of who they are even as we’re continually teased with parts of them that remain just beyond our reach. While we’re intrigued by the possible connections between the many and varied characters, we’re more immediately unnerved by the presence of a sinister being slowly slaughtering his way through New York City, the hairs on the back of our necks standing on end as the murderer’s soon-to-be victims are given chapters of their own, allowing us to bear witness to their final moments and ratcheting up our desire to see a true monster come face to face with lady Justice.

Evie is the main protagonist though she shares the spotlight with Memphis, Jericho, Theta, Sam and a handful of others, earning herself a one-way ticket to New York City when she drunkenly shows off her gift at a party. Initially she’s a bit of a challenge, seemingly only interested in drinking, partying, and making sure other people know her name; a fame she often achieves by selfishly and stupidly revealing her talent despite having lived through the consequences of her actions many times before. When best friend Mabel finally calls her on her behavior, Evie becomes someone we can support, taking what was said to heart and making a valiant attempt to allow the scope of her gaze to include other people besides herself. She tones down the need for attention, and works with her Uncle Will, Jericho, and Sam to solve a spectacularly disturbing case, showing off an intelligence previously hidden by poor decision making, and a determination previously hidden by a bored party-girl façade.

Memphis, Jericho, Theta, and Sam all play roles of a similar size in this story, their histories briefly illuminated for us so we can see that amidst their differences and their separate lots in life is a shining thread of supernatural similarity. Through several smaller secondary characters we know a prophetic call to action for all of them is coming, the need for them to unite in the ensuing days crystal clear, though the purpose for their future unification remains cloaked in uncertainty. There is a tiny touch of romance worked in, but it remains a background element to the dual mystery of the killer and the Diviners themselves, and while the romance between Evie and Jericho is of particular interest given Jericho’s tragic past, things don’t even begin to heat up for them until the concluding chapters of this nearly 600 page tale. Still, the first hook has been cast at the end of this first installment, and we’re easily caught, desperate for just a little more time with them now that we’ve had a taste.

Overall, The Diviners impresses with an astounding attention to detail and a masterful handling of a wide variety of characters and subplots, though it’s important to know going in that while many of the cards in Ms. Bray’s hand are shown, very few are actually played in this first book. Many a plot thread is left swinging in the breeze by the time we reach the last page, the rather terrifying mystery of the murderer wrapped up nicely but the larger arc surrounding those known as Diviners is really just beginning.

Rating: 4/5

Please come back tomorrow as I'll have a very fun character interview with Theta to share with all of you!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Review: Girl of Nightmares

Kendare Blake
Paranormal Young Adult
332 pages
Tor Teen
Available Now
Received from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
It's been months since the ghost of Anna Korlov opened a door to Hell in her basement and disappeared into it, but ghost-hunter Cas Lowood can't move on. 

His friends remind him that Anna sacrificed herself so that Cas could live—not walk around half dead. He knows they're right, but in Cas's eyes, no living girl he meets can compare to the dead girl he fell in love with.

Now he's seeing Anna everywhere: sometimes when he's asleep and sometimes in waking nightmares. But something is very wrong...these aren't just daydreams. Anna seems tortured, torn apart in new and ever more gruesome ways every time she appears.

Cas doesn't know what happened to Anna when she disappeared into Hell, but he knows she doesn't deserve whatever is happening to her now. Anna saved Cas more than once, and it's time for him to return the favor.

Girl of Nightmares is tasked with the rather difficult challenge of trying to live up to its predecessor, a story that introduced us to a terrifyingly vengeful ghost who managed to elicit sympathy from us as easily as she instilled fear. While this second book doesn’t quite fully rise to that challenge, there’s no doubt Ms. Blake is a gifted storyteller, taking us on a dark journey to save a young woman from a fate someone with an outsider's perspective might say she deserved based on her past actions and her body count. We as readers are not those outsiders however, and we will Cas to dedicate his every waking moment to finding a way to help a villainous victim who’s equal parts grotesque and charming, and all the more fascinating for her contradictory nature.

Book one was ripe with tension, the threat Anna posed to Cas feeling as real to us as if it were playing out before our eyes instead of simply in our minds, her ability to morph into a red-splattered spectre capable of rending those who trespassed in two with her bare hands ensuring our eyes remained glued to the pages without the slightest inclination to look away. With Girl of Nightmares however, some of that tension is noticeably missing, largely due to the fact that Anna herself is absent for nearly three quarters of the book, the captivating paradox she presented replaced with a melancholy sense of waiting as Cas, Thomas, and Carmel struggle to understand what’s become of her. Without Anna, our link to Cas feels incomplete, the impossibility of their connection something that constantly fed our sense of wonder and enthusiasm for their story as a whole, and while we still enjoy our time spent in Cas’s world, the threads connecting us to it are frayed and left in Anna-shaped tatters.

Though the beginning and middle of Girl of Nightmares feel a bit slow, the weight of Anna’s fate seeming to wrap around our ankles with phantom fingers to restrict our movements and halt our progress, the ending is as action-packed as they come with Cas getting a second chance to avenge those he loves. Ms. Blake leaves us with a fitting end in terms of a relationship between a living person and a ghost, giving us a sense of closure even if the romantic in us might be wishing for a few more rays of sunshine and some roses. Overall, this sequel has a difficult time emerging from the epic shadow cast by Anna Dressed in Blood, but Ms. Blake is an author whose books I will always look forward to reading.

Rating: 3.5/5

Monday, September 17, 2012

Review: The Raven Boys

(Raven Cycle #1)
Maggie Stiefvater
Paranormal Young Adult
408 pages
Available September 18th
Received at BEA

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
“There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve,” Neeve said. “Either you’re his true love . . . or you killed him.”

It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive.

Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.

His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.

But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.

For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.

The Raven Boys, like most of Ms. Stiefvater’s stories, starts slowly and progresses at a leisurely pace, giving us plenty of time to wrap the folds of her world around us like a comforting blanket, content to bask in the temporary cocoon of her glorious imagination as we trust in her to lead us where she wants us to go. Though we have the utmost faith in Ms. Stiefvater’s ability to take us on an unforgettable journey, we also quickly learn that reading her stories, The Raven Boys in particular, is like navigating that journey with the help of a map but no compass—we’re given general directions, nudges, and hints, but so much is left up to us to try and decipher, and we must tread carefully and methodically to ensure we don’t let any clue as to our whereabouts go unnoticed.

One of the most consistent highlights of Ms. Stiefvater’s books is her ability to craft absolutely stunning characters, young men and women full of depth, darkness and hope who hold us riveted to their story until we reach the last page. Gansey, Ronan, Adam, and Noah are all beautifully fascinating, broken boys with jagged edges who inexplicably find the complement to their sharpness in one another, and look to Gansey to be the glue that binds them together. Ms. Stiefvater gives us three stunning portraits (Noah remains the most indistinct of the four) of these young men known as raven boys, the brush strokes that lovingly caress their features bold and deeply grooved—whorls of completely unique character fingerprints—with shadows lingering in the spaces between the highlights just waiting for us to pay them closer inspection.

Gansey is the typical Aglionby boy, born with a silver spoon in his mouth and trust fund just waiting to exempt him from the daily grind those like close friend Adam face, but he doesn’t embrace his wealthy upbringing, instead fighting against the assumptions those around him make based on his lot in life even as that silver spoon slides further down his throat to choke him the more he struggles to pluck it free. All three boys have their own intriguing brand of pride that proves to be both a source of strength as well as their most prominent weakness: Ronan, who possesses a defiant sort of pride that dares the world to mess with him more than it already has; Adam, who clings to a stubborn pride as a crutch to keep him standing on his own two feet when his life at home beats him down; and Gansey, who can’t escape the pride instilled in him seemingly upon birth, gifting him with a noble countenance even as he wants nothing more than to be who his friends need him to be.

There are a few flaws to the story as a whole, most notably an ending that’s a touch confusing, complete with a head-scratchingly enigmatic parting line that leaves our minds spinning as to what it might mean moving forward. Though the synopsis suggests much of the story is based on the prophecy stating Gansey is either Blue’s true love or someone she kills, that aspect of the story is surprisingly subtle, taking a back seat to an epic search involving ley lines, magic, and the promise of a mystical favor. The strength of the individual characters make it easy to be forgiving of those drawbacks however, our desire to know more about each and every one of them eclipsing our need for clarity in the final chapter, leaving us with a deep and abiding love for five individuals as well as the ardent hope that Ms. Stiefvater will be more forthcoming with information regarding Blue and Gansey’s prophetic connection in the next book.

Rating: 4/5

Friday, September 14, 2012

Review: Cornerstone

CORNERSTONE (Cornerstone #1)
Misty Provencher
Paranormal Young Adult
219 pages
Available Now
Received from author for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Nalena Maxwell has been branded ‘The Waste’ at her new school, due to her mom's obsessive paper hoarding. Nalena desperately wants something to change in her life, but when she receives a sign (and it's the wrong dang one) inviting her into a mysterious, ancient community, too much changes. What she knew of her family, what she thought of her life and what she believed about her future, is no longer applicable. Seventeen years worth of family skeletons come crashing into Nalena's life and it is the boy...the one that smiles at her like he wants to hear everything she'll ever say...that already knows her powerful secrets. But it is only Nalena that can choose between protecting the life that is already crumbling beneath her feet and the one that might sacrifice everything she could ever have.

Deeply intriguing, Cornerstone is one of those stories that doesn’t immediately enfold us in its paranormal world, instead taking the time to introduce us to an utterly normal young woman dealing with a realistic and difficult situation in a mother who hoards astronomical amounts of paper and spends all their available money continuously buying more. We instantly align ourselves with Nalena, feeling the pain of every verbal arrow aimed at her as the words “The Waste” echo in our ears, reminding us of just how mighty a weapon a couple of letters strung together can be. Only once we’re firmly connected to Nalena and emotionally invested in her life is the paranormal element brought into play, providing us with firm ground to stand on before showing us something completely new.

Nalena is a young woman of whom we feel instantly protective, her role reversal with her mother causing our arms to practically spasm with the need to wrap around her and assure her that the paper her mother seems to treasure above all else does not define her life. Her mother clearly loves her, but there’s a innocence to Evangeline that has her appearing younger in years than Nalena herself, and we can’t help but smile as Nalena exhibits far more patience and understanding than we might were we in the same situation. Because of the treatment she receives from the classmates, she’s instantly wary when Garrett Reese begins to show an interest in her, and their relationship is thankfully one that progresses at a much slower pace than we often find in young adult fiction. She’s smart with him, testing the waters with cautious fingertips to determine the reception she’ll receive should she wade in deeper, and taking some care to guard her heart against a young man who so easily could cause her pain.

While the romance is well-executed–just the right amount of tension and affection swirling around and between Nalena and Garrett–the paranormal element itself is a touch elusive, a complete explanation seeming to dance out of our reach every time we make a grab for it. We learn the basics of Nalena’s gift as well as her mother’s, but some of the finer details remain blurry, leaving us struggling to figure out how the pieces of the community Nalena suddenly finds herself a part of fit together and what this community's purpose is as a whole. Perhaps greater illumination is coming in later books, but our slight confusion does rob us of some of the intensity of Nalena’s conflict as we don’t fully understand the ramifications of her decision to either join the Ianua or continue on as she has been. The ending is rather brutal and heart-wrenching, and it would be my recommendation to have book two on hand for immediate consumption upon finishing as things for Nalena are clearly only going to become more challenging.

Rating: 4/5



The promotional tour for the second book in this series, Keystone, is running now through September 28th. The participating blogs have various reviews, guest posts, deleted scenes and interviews, so be sure and check out Candace's Book Blog or Misty's Blog for the full schedule because you don't want to miss out on all the fun. Additionally, there are some EPIC giveaways on this tour. Seriously. Want to see?

That's just one prize pack my friends. All the giveaways and the aforementioned tour details can be found HERE.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Review: Outpost

OUTPOST (Razorland #2)
Ann Aguirre
Young Adult/Dystopian
336 pages
Feiwel & Friends
Available Now
Received from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Deuce’s whole world has changed. Down below, she was considered an adult. Now, topside in a town called Salvation, she’s a brat in need of training in the eyes of the townsfolk. She doesn’t fit in with the other girls: Deuce only knows how to fight.

To make matters worse, her Hunter partner, Fade, keeps Deuce at a distance. Her feelings for Fade haven’t changed, but he seems not to want her around anymore. Confused and lonely, she starts looking for a way out.

Deuce signs up to serve in the summer patrols—those who make sure the planters can work the fields without danger. It should be routine, but things have been changing on the surface, just as they did below ground. The Freaks have grown smarter. They’re watching. Waiting. Planning. The monsters don’t intend to let Salvation survive, and it may take a girl like Deuce to turn back the tide.

Picking up several weeks after the abrupt conclusion of Enclave, Outpost eases us back into a dark and gritty post-apocalyptic world as Deuce struggles to find a place among people so different from those she’s lived with her entire life, surprising and intriguing us yet again with the depiction of a society both so distinct from our own as well as from what we saw in book one. While Enclave introduced us to a group of individuals with a completely new and utterly foreign governing structure and way of survival, Outpost gives us something a bit more familiar in terms of how people live, but we view that which is familiar through Deuce’s eyes, thus casting it in an extraordinarily unique light that has us smiling and sympathizing with her daily plight to belong.

Deuce is a breath of fresh air as a young adult heroine, possessing a captivating combination of strength and innocence as she stumbles across new terrain. She’s unbelievably skilled in hand to hand combat and blade work, but in the town of Salvation she finds herself an outcast, unfamiliar with their rules and their views on a woman’s role in society, so while we’re gleefully aware she could protect herself physically from anyone seeking to do her harm, we can't help but feel a desperate need to fortify the walls of her heart so as to prevent a well aimed verbal barb from piercing true. She’s a young woman who’s utterly guileless; unprepared for some of the judgment, prejudice, and cruel machinations of the citizens of Salvation given her nature – she is who she is and knows exactly what job she’d like to perform, with no interest in much beyond protecting those she cares for from the Freaks.

Her wide-eyed innocence when it comes to human interaction Topside extends into her romantic relationship with Fade, something we find endearing even as we wish she would break her silence and finally ask the questions she most wants answered. Any miscommunications with Fade are the result of naivety and inexperience rather than a desire to play games or create drama, and we read on knowing that any hurt she causes him is never deliberate in nature, thus providing us a layer of comfort we don’t always find in the angst-filled worlds of young adult literature. Their connection progresses slowly but beautifully as the story continues, their friendship and commitment to protecting one another with their very lives evolving into something deeper, stronger and more nuanced as Deuce begins to shed the cooler, harder façade of a huntress and embrace some of the warmth and softness of a young woman. She manages to juggle both sides of herself adeptly, and to our delight Fade never once asks more of one side than she’s willing to give, instead accepting her as a whole he loves entirely rather than individual parts he can list in order of preference.

As with Enclave, the journey we’re on with Deuce and Fade is abruptly truncated, leaving us a bit shocked when we turn the last page and find ourselves face to face with the acknowledgements instead of a new chapter. We’re forced to leave our protagonists in not only a dire physical situation, but an emotionally tense one as well, the challenges for Deuce and Fade as a couple after certain events rattle the foundation they've built proving to be larger in number than we might have thought possible midway through this second installment, and we can only hope that Deuce’s strength and determination to love Fade will prove a life boat for them both in the middle of a sea of Freaks.

Rating: 4.5/5

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Character Profile: Phoenix from Entice

Today I'm absurdly excited to be a part of the street team for Entice, the second book in the Embrace Series by Jessica Shirvington. As a team member, I have the pleasure of bringing you the profile for one very special character in this series: Phoenix. Who's Phoenix you ask? He's the bad boy. And I think anyone who knows me is well aware of how much I love a good bad boy, so Phoenix and I are clearly the perfect match ;-) Except he's kind of a fan of Violet. Minor detail.

All this week, street team members along with the fabulous team over at Sourcebooks will be bringing you character profiles, tweeting quotes from the books, and hosting giveaways on Twitter to celebrate the release of Entice. All these fun promotions will culminate in the epic Entice Me Day, taking place this Saturday, September 15th, the details of which can be found using the link above. It should be an absolute blast! There will be giveaways. There will be a live chat with author Jessica Shirvington. There will be much Embrace Series awesomeness, so mark your calendars!

Now, on to the good stuff. The hot stuff. The Phoenix-related stuff :)

Here are just a few things about Phoenix you should know:

“Not everything is black and white, Violet. Don’t believe everything you’ve been told.”—Phoenix

He’s intense, sexy and otherworldly. Full of secrets, Phoenix is all gray in a world of dark and light. As an exile, he is not to be trusted, but Phoenix always seems to be there to protect Violet when she needs it most. Together, they shared one intense moment of passion. Now, when the electricity between Violet and Phoenix ignites, she discovers his hold over her has become more dangerous than ever.

Sitting in Sydney’s glamorous Water Bar, Jessica reveals some enticing secrets about everyone’s favorite bad boy!

Still want more Phoenix? You can check out his full character bio over on the Embrace Series page, and don't forget to take the "favorite quote" quiz while you're there! You can also find the full schedule leading up to Entice Me Day here, as you don't want to miss out on getting to know all the other characters!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Interview: Madeline Miller + The Song of Achilles

Today I have the pleasure of sharing with you an interview with author Madeline Miller whose debut novel, The Song of Achilles, won the 2012 Orange Prize for fiction. This novel just released in paperback last month, so if you're a fan of the Iliad and the legend of Achilles, be sure and add this title to your must-read lists!

(please note: this Q+A was provided by the lovely people at HarperCollins, I did not write the questions)

Do the Greek myths really matter in our modern world of cutting-edge technology and tenuous global politics?

It can be a cliché to call a story timeless.  But the stories of ancient Greece—the Iliad foremost among them—are exactly what this cliché was made for.  To borrow Ben Jonson, they are not “of an age, but for all time.”  Human nature and its attendant folly, passion, pride and generosity has not changed in the past three thousand years, and are always relevant.  And especially at this fractured and shifting historical moment, I think people are looking back to the past for insight.  These stories have endured this long, moving generation after generation of readers—they must, still, have something important to tell us about ourselves.  Every day on the front page of the newspaper is an Iliad of woes—from the self-serving Agamemnons to the manipulative, double-speaking Odysseuses, from the senseless loss of life in war to the brutal treatment of the conquered.  It is all there, in Homer too: our past, present and future, inspiration and condemnation both. 

I would also add, more specifically, that I think the culture is ready for the kind of love story that transcends gender and time. I did not deliberately set out to tell a “gay” love story; rather, I was deeply moved by the love between these two characters—whose respect and affection for each other, despite the horrors around them, model the kind of relationship we all can aspire to.

How much of the Achilles story depicted in THE SONG OF ACHILLES is based on the classics and how much did you create in order to tell the story?  And, can you explain how you did your research for the book?
In some ways I feel like I’ve been researching this book my whole life!  I have loved the ancient Greek myths since I was a child, and studied Latin and Greek throughout high school, college, and graduate school.  My professors gave me an incredible and electrifying education in ancient history and literature, and all of it helped provide the foundation for the book—though at the time, of course, I had no idea that I would one day use it for fiction.
Once I started writing the novel, I inevitably discovered that I needed to know more: What exactly did ancient ship sails look like?  What kind of flora and fauna does Homer mention?  My background in Classics helped there too; I had a lot of the answers already on my bookshelf, or I knew where to go to find the information I needed.  It was also extremely helpful that I had spent time in parts of Greece and Turkey.
It was very important to me to stay faithful to the events of the Homer’s narrative.  The central inspiration behind the book is the terrible moment in the Iliad when Achilles hears about Patroclus’ death.  His reaction is shocking in its intensity.  The great half-god warrior—who carelessly defies rules, and condemns a whole army to death—comes completely unglued, desperate with grief and rage.  I wanted to understand what it was about Patroclus and their relationship that could create that kind of crisis.  Although Homer tells us what his characters do, he doesn’t tell us much of why they do it. Who was Achilles?  And why did he love Patroclus so much?  Writing the novel was my way of answering that question.
The biggest changes to the mythology came with the stories about Achilles’ life before he came to Troy, which the Iliad doesn’t cover. There are many, many variations on these, so part of what I was doing was figuring out which ones added to the novel’s arc, and which ones I should omit.

Most people don’t know that much about Patroclus and his relationship with Achilles.  How did you come up with your theory that their friendship grew into love?
I stole it from Plato!  The idea that Patroclus and Achilles were lovers is quite old.  Many Greco-Roman authors read their relationship as a romantic one—it was a common and accepted interpretation in the ancient world.  We even have a fragment from a lost tragedy of Aeschylus, where Achilles speaks of his and Patroclus’ “frequent kisses.”
There is a lot of support for their relationship in the text of the Iliad itself, though Homer never makes it explicit.  For me, the most compelling piece of evidence, aside from the depth of Achilles’ grief, is how he grieves: Achilles refuses to burn Patroclus’ body, insisting instead on keeping the corpse in his tent, where he constantly weeps and embraces it—despite the horrified reactions of those around him. That sense of physical devastation spoke deeply to me of a true and total intimacy between the two men.

What about the “Achilles Heel” legend?  Where does it come from, and after all of your research, do you believe it?
Achilles’ most famous myth—his fatally vulnerable heel—is actually a very late story.  Our earliest account of it is by a Roman author, almost a millennium after the Iliad and the Odyssey were first composed.  During those thousand years a number of other stories popped up to explain Achilles’ seeming invincibility, but the Iliad and Odyssey contain the simplest: he wasn’t really invincible, just extraordinarily gifted in battle.  Since the Iliad and Odyssey were my primary inspiration, and since their interpretation seemed more realistic, this was the version I chose to follow.
There are a number of fun myths about the heel, once that story became popular.  The most famous one is that, in trying to make him immortal, his mother, the goddess Thetis, dipped him in the river Styx.  The place where she held him—his heel—was the only place not made invulnerable.  Every time I have told this story to my middle school students, they erupt into chaos:
“That’s so stupid!  Why didn’t she just switch heels and dip him twice?” 
“Or go back later, and do it again?” 
“The water would still have seeped in!”

So that may have also influenced me on finding that a not-as-compelling reading.

If one wanted to visit Greece and its surrounding countries now, and walk in Achilles and Patroclus’ footsteps, and “re-live” the Trojan War, what modern cities should they visit and what might they find there?
The journey would begin in northern Greece, in the region of Thessaly. We aren’t sure where Peleus’ palace may have been (if it was a real place), but certainly Mount Pelion is still there.  It is a gorgeous spot to go hiking, and there’s even a mountain train that runs on the weekends.  Nearby, the major port town Volos is a wonderful place to visit and, given its excellent location, could very well have been a good Phthian settlement in antiquity.
Next up would be the island of Scyros, where the goddess Thetis hid her son Achilles from the war, disguising him as a woman.  Scyros is in the middle of the Aegean, the most southern of the Sporades island cluster.  It’s quite rocky, especially in its southern region, and also has some wonderful Byzantine and Venetian monuments, along with its stunning landscapes and beaches. If you want the full Achilles experience, cross-dressing is a must.
After that, it’s off to Aulis, (modern Avlida), in Boetia, due north of Athens.  This is where the Greek fleet gathered before setting off to Troy.  It’s quite a small town, but there are beaches, of course, and you can sit on them and pretend that you’re there waiting for that kid Achilles to finally show up so you can sack Troy already….
Though Achilles and Patroclus didn’t actually go there, now is a good time to take a quick detour to Agamemnon’s palace at Mycenae, in the northern Peloponnese.  It’s one of the few Homeric-era ruins that we do have, other than Troy itself.   You can see the famous “Lion-Gate” entrance to the city, as well as the circular graves where the golden “Mask of Agamemnon” and “Cup of Nestor” were found.  As you tour the site, imagine that you’re the proud son of Atreus himself, and bully some subordinates.  But don’t go too far: Agamemnon was killed with an ax in the bathtub by his fed-up wife.
Now, back to Aulis.  After joining up with the fleet, Achilles and Patroclus would have made their way to Troy, stopping several times along the way.  Since we don’t really know where they stopped (even in mythology), I think that this gives you the right to land at pretty much any fabulous Greek island that you wish.  If you take the southern route, you can drop by Lesbos, where the famous poetess Sappho (whom Plato named the tenth muse), lived and wrote.  Farther north is the island of Lemnos, which was infamous in ancient mythology as the home of the venomous snake that crippled the hero Philoctetes.  Watch where you step!
Personally though, I would recommend choosing the most northern route, which takes you, with just a little detour, by the incredible city of Istanbul. I had the good fortune to visit Istanbul this past spring, and it is breathtaking.  Everywhere you look there is some priceless piece of history, from the Hittites to the Ottomans, not to mention its many modern attractions.  So, you heard it here first: Patroclus definitely went to Istanbul.
Last stop: Troy itself, perched just below the Dardanelles.  The nearby city of Canakkale is a great place to stay and boasts the full-size prop of the Trojan Horse used by the 2004 movie Troy.  Brad Pitt himself arranged the donation, the rumor goes!
A short bus ride south brings you to the ancient archaeological site.  Stand amid the ruins of five thousand years of history, and look out over the plains where the Greeks and Trojans fought.  Though not much is left but stones, the feel of the place is unmistakably epic. Be sure to bring a jacket: not for nothing did Homer call it ‘Windy Ilios.’  Find the highest point—all that’s left of one of the ancient city’s famous towers— and remember the Iliad’s immortal first line:
Sing, goddess, of the rage of Achilles.

What do you hope that readers will gain from reading your book?  And, what do you say to folks that say, reading the Greek myths is just too hard and not very interesting?  That kids in school should be able to choose their own reading materials (vampire novels, and the like) and not have to worry about these classics?
For those who have dipped into an ancient epic—the Iliad, say, or the Aeneid— and found it boring, here is my answer: I understand.
As a teacher, I have often had students who would come to me at the beginning of the school year and confess, I read the Aeneid over the summer and hated it.  It doesn’t worry me: the poems assume a lot of background knowledge—who the gods are, and what the back story is.  They also assume that their audience understands epic conventions, like listing all the generals and their ships, or using frequent repetition.  If you don’t have that knowledge, the book can feel like a confusing slog.  But, if you go into it with a guide—a good introduction, a quick re-read of Greek myths, a friend who loves it—then it just comes to life in your hands.  Every one of those students, at the end of the school year, declared that they loved Vergil and they loved the Aeneid.
One of my explicit desires in writing this book was to make it so that readers didn’t have to know anything about the Iliad to enjoy it.  I wanted to give them everything they needed to follow the action right then and there, so that they could experience Homer just as his first audiences would have: as entertainment, instead of an object of study.
The good news is that even if someone doesn’t appreciate a Classic text in school, they might go back to it later and realize that they enjoy it after all.  I read Toni Morrison’s Sula in tenth grade and it went completely over my head; I just couldn’t connect with it.  Then I picked it up again a few years ago, and absolutely loved it.  So there’s always hope.  In the meantime, what’s wrong with vampires?
As for what I hope readers will gain: I certainly would love to hear that the novel inspired some interest in Greek mythology in general, and the Iliad in particular.  I hope too that it might help to combat the homophobia that I see too often.
In writing this novel, I thought a lot about personal responsibility.  Patroclus is not an epic person, the way Achilles is.  He’s an “ordinary” man.  But he has more power than he thinks, and the moments where he reaches out to others and offers what he sees as his very modest assistance have huge positive ramifications.  Most of us aren’t Achilles—but we can still be Patroclus.  What does it mean to try to be an ethical person in a violent world?

Thank you to Madeline Miller and HarperCollins for giving me the opportunity to post this amazing interview on the blog! More information on Madeline and The Song of Achilles can be found here:

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The legend begins...
Greece in the age of heroes. Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the kingdom of Phthia to be raised in the shadow of King Peleus and his golden son, Achilles. “The best of all the Greeks”—strong, beautiful, and the child of a goddess—Achilles is everything the shamed Patroclus is not. Yet despite their differences, the boys become steadfast companions. Their bond deepens as they grow into young men and become skilled in the arts of war and medicine—much to the displeasure and the fury of Achilles’ mother, Thetis, a cruel sea goddess with a hatred of mortals.

When word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, the men of Greece, bound by blood and oath, must lay siege to Troy in her name. Seduced by the promise of a glorious destiny, Achilles joins their cause, and torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus follows. Little do they know that the Fates will test them both as never before and demand a terrible sacrifice.

Built on the groundwork of the Iliad, Madeline Miller’s page-turning, profoundly moving, and blisteringly paced retelling of the epic Trojan War marks the launch of a dazzling career.