Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Review: Winterspell

Winterspell #1
Claire Legrand
Young Adult/Fantasy/Retelling
464 pages
Simon & Schuster
Available Now
Source: ARC from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
The clock chimes midnight, a curse breaks, and a girl meets a prince . . . but what follows is not all sweetness and sugarplums.

New York City, 1899. Clara Stole, the mayor's ever-proper daughter, leads a double life. Since her mother's murder, she has secretly trained in self-defense with the mysterious Drosselmeyer.

Then, on Christmas Eve, disaster strikes.

Her home is destroyed, her father abducted--by beings distinctly not human. To find him, Clara journeys to the war-ravaged land of Cane. Her only companion is the dethroned prince Nicholas, bound by a wicked curse. If they're to survive, Clara has no choice but to trust him, but his haunted eyes burn with secrets--and a need she can't define. With the dangerous, seductive faery queen Anise hunting them, Clara soon realizes she won't leave Cane unscathed--if she leaves at all.

Inspired by The Nutcracker, Winterspell is a dark, timeless fairy tale about love and war, longing and loneliness, and a girl who must learn to live without fear.

Winterspell is a darker story than the stunning cover with its whimsical font suggests, a world of mechanical monsters waiting in the shadows to reach out and drag us kicking and screaming to a faery queen who forces us to emotionally balance on the line between sympathy and fear. Ms. Legrand has a gift for detailed world building, the New York of 1899 as rich and easy to picture as the rapidly deteriorating world of Cane, the beauty and the ugliness of both cities carefully laid out for us, as strikingly full of contrasts as the characters who inhabit them.

Clara is a young woman easy to both like and dislike, her ability to keep a level head no matter what human or supernatural threat she faces something we readily admire, but the darker side of human nature also takes up residence right alongside all that makes her shine. While that may sound like a criticism, it is in fact a compliment to Ms. Legrand for writing a young woman who reflects not only the strengths of humanity in her courage and loyalty to those she loves, but also the flaws, the shadowed corners of ourselves we know exist but don't necessarily like to acknowledge. It's so easy to root for the characters who, in fiction, have the ability to make all the choices we wish we might make in the same situation–to be heroes and badasses who save the day with our fearlessness and cunning. Clara is not always that person though, instead she often allows fear to get the better of her–choosing self-preservation over self-sacrifice–and though we might like to blame her for not being a better person in that moment, deep down in those places we don't speak of, we can't help but admit to the unsavory realism of her choices.

The true beauty of Clara and her oh-so familiar flaws though is that, in crafting her as she does, Ms. Legrand gives her room to grow, to recognize that she is not currently the woman she wants to be and therefore expend the effort to change her course. She often lashes out when hurt and seeks to hurt in return, something we're all guilty of at one time or another, but on the whole she handles moments of heightened emotion extremely well, never flying off into hysterics when an ugly truth is revealed or creating drama where there doesn't need to be any. Rather, she absorbs the blow and tucks a sliver of hope that what she's seen or heard isn't what it seems deep down inside for closer examination later.

While Clara is a character of nuance and depth and the world of dark fantasy she finds herself caught up in is truly fascinating, the story does plod along rather slowly despite a not-insignificant number of epic battle scenes and romantically tense situations. Though we enjoy all the characters and recognize in them the type of layers it's an absolute joy to pull back and spend precious hours examining, there's something vital missing to fully connect us to Clara and Nicholas on an emotional level. There are select moments with each of them where we swear we can feel that connection pulsing, but it's often there and gone again before we can grasp it fully, leaving us a touch more removed from the plight of human, faery and mage as they fight to exist in a world free of a life-threatening prejudice than we'd otherwise like to be.

Rating: 3.5/5

Find Claire:

This book was sent to me by the publisher free of charge for the purpose of a review
I received no other compensation and the above is my honest opinion.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Review: Black Ice

Becca Fitzpatrick
Young Adult/Mystery/Thriller
400 pages
Simon & Schuster
Available October 7th
Source: ARC from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Sometimes danger is hard to see... until it’s too late.

Britt Pfeiffer has trained to backpack the Teton Range, but she isn't prepared when her ex-boyfriend, who still haunts her every thought, wants to join her. Before Britt can explore her feelings for Calvin, an unexpected blizzard forces her to seek shelter in a remote cabin, accepting the hospitality of its two very handsome occupants—but these men are fugitives, and they take her hostage.

In exchange for her life, Britt agrees to guide the men off the mountain. As they set off, Britt knows she must stay alive long enough for Calvin to find her. The task is made even more complicated when Britt finds chilling evidence of a series of murders that have taken place there... and in uncovering this, she may become the killer’s next target.

But nothing is as it seems in the mountains, and everyone is keeping secrets, including Mason, one of her kidnappers. His kindness is confusing Britt. Is he an enemy? Or an ally?

Black Ice is a page-turner from beginning to end, wasting very little time introducing us to Britt before we're stranded in the freezing cold right along with her. Adding an extra layer of tension to an already-perilous survival situation is a pervading sense of unease thanks to a truly chilling prologue in which we witness the tragic murder of a young woman, the knowledge that her death and Britt's predicament are intertwined ensuring we hardly dare to breathe for fear it will affect Britt's chances of making it out alive.

Britt, as mentioned previously, is not someone we get to know all that well before her world is tossed into chaos and the girl she used to be has no choice but to adapt given the drastic and violent change in her circumstances. Threaded throughout Britt's current hostage situation though are flashbacks to the beginning of her romance with ex-boyfriend Calvin, a young man (and her best friend's brother) who acts as her mental lifeline when the constant threat of death starts to overwhelm her. What's perhaps most fascinating about these flashbacks is the fact that we as readers see them in a completely different light from Britt, the memories she shares with us clearly remembered fondly, but what she glosses over thanks to the rose tinted glasses of first love we see for the glaring red flags they are, warnings we want nothing more than to shout at Britt in the hopes she'll see what's so hauntingly clear to us.

Our ability to see what Britt cannot is a source of both dark anticipation and frustration, our breaths becoming sharper and more labored the longer Britt allows past feelings to rationalize questionable behaviors in the present, but while we can't help but appreciate the boost of adrenaline that comes from knowing something she doesn't, her continued obliviousness in this one particular area tests the boundaries of our patience. Britt from the beginning proves herself to be capable and quick-thinking, assessing the level of danger she and best friend Korbie are in when the bad whether hits and taking action when Korbie can do nothing but complain and lay blame. She continues to show an impressive ability to problem solve under extraordinary pressure, thus making the hold a childhood crush and first love has on her all the more baffling because we know her to be capable of shaking loose those shackles.

Luckily though, when faced with evidence she simply cannot explain away no matter how much she might wish it, Britt doesn't spend valuable time mourning the loss of everything she thought she knew, instead she rallies as she has all along and refuses to let weather, injury, or murderer get the better of her. Overall, Ms. Fitzpatrick thoroughly impresses with Black Ice, thrilling us with a tale of romantic suspense that ensures every fiber of our being is involved in the fates of those whose entire lives changed the moment the first snowflake touched down.

Rating: 4/5

Find Becca:

This book was sent to me by the publisher free of charge for the purpose of a review
I received no other compensation and the above is my honest opinion.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Hook's Revenge Blog Tour: A Trio of Interviews

Today I have the pleasure of welcoming a trio of people to the blog to answer a few questions about Hook's Revenge, a new middle grade fantasy adventure that released from Disney Hyperion earlier this month. Thanks to the amazing Mary Ann at Disney, I get to share with you short interviews with author Heidi Schulz, illustrator John Hendrix and editor Rotem Moscovich, so I hope you all enjoy!


What interesting facts or research did you learn when writing Hook’s Revenge?

I learned quite a bit about crocodiles. For instance, they make noise! They hiss and growl, snort and snarl. If you want to hear some, this soundboard has some great examples. Some crocodiles can jump, others can climb trees, and one wild crocodile in the African country of Burundi seems to have developed near supernatural abilities.

Gustave, as he has come to be known, has been estimated to be about 25 feet long, and at roughly 60 years old, is still growing. He has at least three scars from bullets and one large, healed gash on his shoulder. Worst of all, it is rumored that he has killed over 300 people!

Sadly, in all my research, I have been unable to determine if he also sounds like a ticking clock.

When writing a sequel, how do you keep track of events that already happened? Did you ever have to reread your first book?

It was several years from the time I had the idea for Hook's Revenge until it was finished. As such, I became really familiar with the story. I haven't needed to reread to remember events, but I have reread sections to reacquaint myself with voice and tone. Good news though: even after all this time, I still love it.

I also kept post-it notes on my desk with the names of Jocelyn's crew and Peter Pan's lost boys so I didn't accidentally leave anyone out of the sequel.

Did you ever feel like your characters were taking on a life of their own and you had to rein them in?

Jocelyn's pirate crew are real characters in every sense of the word. Early on they tried to take over the story, and acted even sillier than they do now. I had to threaten to clap them in irons and send them to Davy Jones in order to get them to behave. Or at least, try to behave.

Walk the plank or sword fight to the finish?

Walk the plank! I learned to do a diving board backflip when I was twelve. I'd love to give it another try.

What would be your ultimate pirate treasure find?

I'd love to find a treasure chest with Hermione's Time-Turner. I'd use it to give myself extra hours for writing, for having fun, for sleeping-in, but most especially for reading. I'm afraid it will take a Time-Turner for me to get through the ever growing stack of books I really want to read!


What was the process for your creation of the Hook’s Revenge cover and interior artwork?

Every drawing starts out with tiny doodles and some great visual inspiration. So I looked at some classic pirate artwork, like N.C. Wyeth's images from Treasure Island. Then I start making lists of words that describe the characters and the boat and use that to start creating the visual look of the story.

What was the most challenging and fun part of the process?

I really enjoyed drawing Captain Hook himself, when he appears in ghostly form at the end (SPOILER ALERT!). A wonderful challenge to take such a classic character and put your spin on him.

Your typography is amazing, how many styles did you do before you got the right look you wanted?

The type is, in some ways, way harder to find than the character. I think I figured out what I wanted Jocelyn to look like on the second drawing. But the type to at least a dozen small sketches and tiny brainstorms to get just the right typographic gesture for the title.

If you were a pirate what would your name be?

Easy: Johnny BlackInk

Hook, peg leg, or eyepatch?

Eyepatches are very dashing.


What stood out to you after initially reading Hook’s Revenge that made you want to publish this book?

Aside from the adventure (which held me from the get-go), I fell in love with Jocelyn and her discovery of what it means to be a strong girl. She doesn’t have to be frilly, but she also doesn’t have to be awful and mean. Heidi did such a good job showing Jocelyn finding her way. All this, with a hilarious and snarky narrator. What’s not to love?

From an editorial perspective, did you enjoy character development or world-building within the story?

Ooh, tough to choose. Clearly I loved Jocelyn’s character development, but the Neverland is such a rich place, and getting to know its strange ways and its varied and magical inhabitants was pure joy. Getting a chance to see the fairy society from their eye-level, meeting Peter and the Lost Boys from an outsiders point of view, watching Jocelyn artfully outwit the cannibals . . . each was a delight. And now that I think of it, the world of the Neverland posed challenges and opportunities that steered Jocelyn in her character development. So I don’t have to choose, right?

Do you have any scenes that you particularly love?

The scene where Jocelyn meets the mermaids is lovely and unexpected (you imagine them as nice, don’t you? Well, don’t be fooled), and I cannot contain my glee when Jocelyn uses table manners to outwit cannibals who are planning to have her for dinner. Literally.

Besides Jocelyn, who was your favorite character in the book?

I have a soft spot for Smee. He just wants approval in the WORST way, and you’ll know what I mean when you read how Jocelyn orders him around. He’s an absolute mush at heart, and loyal beyond measure. Smee’s the one for me!

What would your pirate name be?

Red Sheers Rotem.

• • • • • • • • • • • 


Twelve-year-old Jocelyn dreams of becoming every bit as daring as her infamous father, Captain James Hook. Her grandfather, on the other hand, intends to see her starched and pressed into a fine society lady. When she's sent to Miss Eliza Crumb-Biddlecomb's Finishing School for Young Ladies, Jocelyn's hopes of following in her father's fearsome footsteps are lost in a heap of dance lessons, white gloves, and way too much pink.

So when Jocelyn receives a letter from her father challenging her to avenge his untimely demise at the jaws of the Neverland crocodile, she doesn't hesitate-here at last is the adventure she has been waiting for. But Jocelyn finds that being a pirate is a bit more difficult than she'd bargained for. As if attempting to defeat the Neverland's most fearsome beast isn't enough to deal with, she's tasked with captaining a crew of woefully untrained pirates, outwitting cannibals wild for English cuisine, and rescuing her best friend from a certain pack of lost children, not to mention that pesky Peter Pan who keeps barging in uninvited.

The crocodile's clock is always ticking in Heidi Schulz's debut novel, a story told by an irascible narrator who is both dazzlingly witty and sharp as a sword. Will Jocelyn find the courage to beat the incessant monster before time runs out?

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Review: Made For You

Melissa Marr
Young Adult/Mystery
368 pages
Available Now
Source: BEA

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
When Eva Tilling wakes up in the hospital, she’s confused—who in her sleepy little North Carolina town could have hit her with their car? And why? But before she can consider the question, she finds that she’s awoken with a strange new skill: the ability to foresee people’s deaths when they touch her. While she is recovering from the hit-and-run, Nate, an old flame, reappears, and the two must traverse their rocky past as they figure out how to use Eva’s power to keep her friends—and themselves—alive. But while Eva and Nate grow closer, the killer grows increasingly frantic in his attempt to get to Eva.

For the first time, New York Times bestselling author Melissa Marr has applied her extraordinary talent to contemporary realism. Chilling twists, unrequited obsession, and high-stakes romance drive this Gothic, racy thriller—a story of small-town oppression and salvation. Melissa’s fans, and every YA reader, will find its wild ride enthralling.

Made For You is the type of thriller we don’t realize we’re deeply invested in until we set it aside after reading the last page, marveling at the persistent ache in every muscle in our bodies from being tightly clenched for several hours straight. Eva’s story grabs us from page one and never once slows to let us catch our breath, her first person perspective chillingly contrasted with the first person narration of her would-be murderer to give us insight into the mental and emotional consequences for both victim and killer. Ms. Marr does a truly stunning job of crafting not only a page turner that keeps us up late reading, but also a story gorgeously character-driven at its heart.

When we first crack the spine of Made For You, we can’t help but wonder if we’re going to find a familiar setup in which the mystery stems from accident-induced amnesia, leaving Eva to relearn all the people in her life and how they fit into the increasing violence following her initial attack. Luckily though, Eva suffers no such amnesia and is well in possession of all her faculties post-near death experience, complete with an added death-centric precognitive ability. As a result, we don’t have to wade through the often tedious confusion and disorientation as a character struggles to remember, and instead simply get to leap into the middle of Eva’s waking nightmare.

Eva herself is a joy of a heroine, sitting atop the social hierarchy of her status-obsessed town but lacking the sense of entitlement that would usually accompany such a position. She’s aware that the tide of power flows toward those of wealth and reputation and recedes from those without it, but she doesn’t buy into it for a single moment. She’s surrounded by those of her ilk thanks in large part to the nature of small town life, but she also chooses the friends closest to her, and her choice has absolutely nothing to do with status or money. She speaks her mind, something we appreciate overall but particularly with regard to Nate, as she never fails to let him know the depth of the wounds he inflicted when he abandoned their friendship. Her love for him is obvious and painful in that it initially appears to be unrequited, but she doesn’t simply suffer in silence as so many young women do, instead she’s honest and willing to throw herself off the cliff of communication with no guarantee that kind words from him will be waiting to cushion her fall.

While Eva is a true highlight of Made For You, this review would not be complete without mentioning the haunting brilliance of the killer’s chapters. Each time we’re thrust into his head we find ourselves unable to sit still, the depth of his conviction that he’s but enduring God’s test for him so that he may earn Eva as a reward making us so uncomfortable we can’t help but squirm. Even more unsettling is the fact that he’s able to hide his fanaticism and delusion so well that those closest to him have not even the slightest of inklings that anything is amiss, and go on calling him friend until the moment they’re facedown in a foot of water without the strength to fight him off.

Overall, Made For You is a must-read for any and all who love the type of thriller where progress is marked by periodic gasping inhalations, so involved are we that we simply forget to breathe.

Rating: 4.5/5

Find Melissa:

This book was sent to me by the publisher free of charge for the purpose of a review
I received no other compensation and the above is my honest opinion.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (+ Giveaway!): The Night Visitor

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking The Spine and is a fun way to see what books other bloggers just can't wait to get their hands on!

Dianne Emley
Paranormal Thriller/Mystery
Available Now

From Goodreads:

In bestselling author Dianne Emley’s chilling new paranormal thriller, a beautiful woman’s romantic past comes back to haunt her in the form of an otherworldly visitor seeking justice.
Gorgeous and successful, Rory Langtry seemed to have it all. Daughter of a movie star and sister of a supermodel, Rory was engaged to sexy artist, Junior Lara. But her bright future went dark one terrible, bloody night that left her sister dead and the accused murderer—Junior—in an extended coma.

Now, five years later, Rory appears to have put the past behind her. She has a wonderful new fiancé and heads a successful cosmetics company. Yet dark secrets threaten. Across town, Junior lies close to death but before he departs he seeks to clear his name.

It starts with a feeling. It turns into a vision. Soon Rory is having sensations that only Junior could experience—from the horrifying to the erotic. Then she learns details about the awful night that only Junior could know, newfound knowledge with potentially fatal consequences. When another act of violence rocks her family, Rory plunges deeper into the unsolved mystery, led by an inexplicable visitor to a dangerous time and place where all will be revealed at last. But until then, Junior will not let her go.

Find Dianne and The Night Visitor

Confession: I've recently become OBSESSED with the TV show Criminal Minds. My husband and I discovered it one Friday night about a month ago and we've been binge watching it ever since. I'm talking anywhere from 2-6 episodes per day. We can't stop. It's so good. And horrifying. And haunting. Since I'm on a Criminal Minds kick, I've been craving a good mystery/thriller read, so I couldn't be more excited for The Night Visitor. Luckily for me, this book actually released last week so I have no wait whatsoever and can revel in the instant gratification of it all. *rubs hands together with glee*

As a little special add on today thanks to TLC Book Tours and Alibi, I have not only a copy of The Night Visitor to give away, but also a $25 gift card to the eBook retailer of your choice. Good luck everyone!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, September 8th: From the TBR Pile
Tuesday, September 9th: Bewitched Bookworms
Wednesday, September 10th: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Thursday, September 11th: Peeking Between the Pages
Friday, September 12th:  Bibliophilia, Please

Monday, September 15th: Saints and Sinners Books
Tuesday, September 16th: Musings of a Bookish Kitty
Wednesday, September 17th: Sara’s Organized Chaos
Thursday, September 18th: Tiffany’s Bookshelf

Monday, September 22nd: Back Porchervations
Monday, September 22nd:  Lovely Reads
Tuesday, September 23rd:  Booked on a Feeling 
Wednesday, September 24th:  Bound By Words 
Wednesday, September 24th:  Supernatural Snark
Thursday, September 25th:  Stitch Read Cook

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Poisoned Apples Blog Tour: Interview + Giveaway

Today I'm really excited to be a part of the promotional tour for Poisoned Apples, a collection of poems written by Christine Heppermann. I have to admit to not doing so spectacularly in the one and only poetry class I took in college, but I thoroughly enjoyed what I found between the pages of this book and jumped at the opportunity (thank you, Hannah!) to ask Christine a few questions. I hope you all enjoy the interview, and don't forget to check the bottom of the post for all the details on how to win a copy!

Poisoned Apples is a collection of poems. What are one or two things readers who are perhaps a touch hesitant to tackle poetry should know about this book in order to convince them to step outside their comfort zones?

Think of the poems as mini-stories. That’s what poems are, really. One advantage of reading poetry over reading novels is that you can usually tell after only a few lines whether a particular poem appeals to you. If not, move on! There are a gazillion other models in the poetry showroom for you to test drive.

If this book had existed when you were younger, which of the poems do you think would have most resonated with your teenage self?

Many poems in the collection grew from memories of how I felt as a teenager. The one that hits closest to home, I think, is “BFF.” I was never the alpha friend, at least in my mind. I was shy and awkward and felt clueless about life much of the time, so I tended to gravitate toward friends who seemed confident. The downside was that in certain “friendships,” especially when I was a young teen, I let myself be pushed around. If someone had told me, as Jill tells the narrator in “BFF,” that she could teach me how to do my mascara so my eyes looked less squinty, I probably wouldn’t have responded, “That’s mean, you can’t say that to me.” I would have shrugged it off, maybe even been pathetically grateful.

The poems in this collection address the beauty myths perpetuated by many classic fairy tales. Is there one fairy tale in particular you most wanted write about or retell when the idea for this book popped into your head?

Before Poisoned Apples I was working on a novel-in-verse based on my favorite Grimms fairy tale, “Jorinda and Joringel.” Like “Hansel and Gretel,” it’s about a brother and sister who get lost in the woods and encounter a witch, only this witch turns Jorinda into a bird and carries her off to her castle. “Bird Girl” is a poem I initially wrote for that project—which I plan to get back to someday—and it imagines Jorinda enjoying her new body. What if she didn’t want to be rescued by Joringel (which is of course what happens in the end) and turned back into a girl? Why couldn’t she decide to stay the way she was?

If you were to write a poem about the process you went through with this book, from blank first page to published work, what would the title or first line of that poem be?

I might title that poem “Who Knew?” As in, who knew that a theme would emerge from the, I thought, random smattering of poems I started writing? Who knew they would evolve into a collection? Who knew I would find an agent and then an editor willing to take a chance on poetry? Poisoned Apples has been a series of lovely surprises for me. That could be a title, too, “Lovely Surprises,” though it’s a good bit sunnier than my usual tone!

What’s one question about Poisoned Apples you wish someone would ask you and how would you answer?

I wish someone would ask me how I came up with the idea for the poem “If Tampons Were for Guys.” Well, me, since you asked, I originally intended to write about how, before a girl gets her first period, she wonders what it will feel like and maybe even sneaks over to the feminine hygiene aisle while shopping with her mom to peruse the selection. Before writing I went to Target on a research fieldtrip. I was standing in front of all those pastel-colored boxes, thinking about marketing and how much we take it for granted. Pictures of flowers and pearls and sunsets, or whatever, for girls. How would the images change if companies decided to highlight the “men” in “menstruation?” And thus, as so often happens, my topic changed.

Thanks so much for taking the time to answer my questions Christine!

• • • • • • • • • • •


Every little girl goes through her princess phase, whether she wants to be Snow White or Cinderella, Belle or Ariel. But then we grow up. And life is not a fairy tale.

Christine Heppermann's collection of fifty poems puts the ideals of fairy tales right beside the life of the modern teenage girl. With piercing truths reminiscent of Laurie Halse Anderson and Ellen Hopkins, this is a powerful and provocative book for every young woman. E. Lockhart, author of We Were Liars, calls it "a bloody poetic attack on the beauty myth that's caustic, funny, and heartbreaking."

Cruelties come not just from wicked stepmothers, but also from ourselves. There are expectations, pressures, judgment, and criticism. Self-doubt and self-confidence. But there are also friends, and sisters, and a whole hell of a lot of power there for the taking. In fifty poems, Christine Heppermann confronts society head on. Using fairy tale characters and tropes, Poisoned Apples explores how girls are taught to think about themselves, their bodies, and their friends. The poems range from contemporary retellings to first-person accounts set within the original tales, and from deadly funny to deadly serious. Complemented throughout with black-and-white photographs from up-and-coming artists, this is a stunning and sophisticated book to be treasured, shared, and paged through again and again.

• • • • • • • • • • •


Christine Heppermann is a writer, poet, and critic. Her book of poetry for young adults, Poisoned Apples: Poems for You, My Pretty, will be published by Greenwillow Books in September, 2014. Poisoned Apples has been called "a bloody poetic attack on the beauty myth that's caustic, funny and heartbreaking" (E. Lockhart) and a "powerful and provocative exploration of body image, media, and love" (Rae Carson).

Christine's first book, City Chickens (Houghton Mifflin, 2012), is a nonfiction story about a shelter for abandoned and unwanted chickens in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

In 2015 Greenwillow Books will publish the first book of the Backyard Witch Series, written by Christine and Ron Koertge. The middle-grade series follows three best friends and a mysterious visitor who appears for curious adventures just when they need her most.

Christine was a columnist and reviewer for The Horn Book Magazine from 1996 until 2013. Her poems are published in 5AM, The Magazine of Contemporary Poetry; Poems and Plays; Kite Tales; Nerve Cowboy; The Mas Tequila Review; and The Horn Book Magazine. Her reviews of children's and young adult books have appeared in numerous newspapers and magazines. She has an MA in Children’s Literature from Simmons College and an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Hamline University.

• • • • • • • • • • •


Thanks to the amazing team at Harper/Greenwillow, I have one finished copy of Poisoned Apples to give away on the blog today. To enter, please fill out the Rafflecopter form below. Giveaway is open to US/Canada.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sept. 21 - Andye @ ReadingTeen.net - Guest Post
Sept. 22 - Liza @ WhoRU Blog - Review
Sept. 23 - Jenny @ Supernatural Snark - Interview / Steph & Meg @ Cuddlebuggery - Joint Review
Sept. 24 - Hannah @ The Irish Banana Review - Review
Sept. 25 - Stephanie @ No BS Book Reviews - Interview
Sept. 26 - Katie @ MundieMoms - Review
Sept. 27 - Mary @ The Book Swarm - Guest Post & Review

Monday, September 22, 2014

Salt and Storm Blog Tour: Interview + Giveaway


Today I'm thrilled to welcome author Kendall Kulper to the blog as part of the promotional tour for her YA historical fantasy novel, Salt & Storm. Kendall was nice enough to answer a few questions for me about all sorts of interesting things like whaling, tattoos, dreams and magic, so I hope you enjoy the interview! Be sure and check the bottom of the post as well for the full list of participating blogs and all the details on a fantastic giveaway. 

Many of the inhabitants of Prince Island make their living as whalers. Can you give us one or two interesting tidbits or factoids you learned about whaling that you didn’t know prior to writing this book?

Oh man, I learned so much about whaling, but probably my favorite was how whale men would take out these personal ads in the back of the whaling newspapers and basically badmouth sailors and captains who they thought slacked on the job. They are so catty—it’s fantastic. One crew took out an ad against their officers and called the second officer “an excellent DO-NOTHING… Too ignorant to catch a bow-head, and afraid as death of a right whale. Would make a good deck walloper.” They’re like whaling burn books. Love them.

If you were to live in a paranormal world rich with magic, what gift or magical ability would you most want to possess?

I would love to be able to instantly transport myself somewhere. I’m not a fan of traveling, and my friends and family are increasingly far-flung. It would be amazing to just be able to wink away to see them whenever I wanted. And on a lazier note, it would also be amazing to skip the muggy subway ride home after a long day working in the library…

Avery dreams of her own murder, something that would be absolutely terrifying to experience. Aside from your death or the death/injury of anyone you love, what’s one other thing that would turn a dream of yours into a nightmare?

Well, I once had a dream where a book I wrote was named something like the worst debut novel ever written, and I had to stand up at a podium while the judges talked about all the things they hated. That was not a fun one. It’s just the reality of creative life that you pour your heart into something and then it has to go out in the world, and there’s always that crazy-terrifying moment of wondering if people will like it(!).

There’s just something inexplicably attractive to me about a guy with tattoos, and I personally am a big fan of Celtic designs or knot work. What might a tattoo design you’d find absurdly attractive on the right guy look like?

Haha! Well, I have to admit I’m not a huge fan of tattoos, mostly because I’m so indecisive about things when it comes to style and change my mind all the time—I think about the things I thought were sooooo cool when I was a teenager, and I am so grateful I didn’t have access to a tattoo parlor. The idea of having something on your body forever kind of freaks me out.

Plus, the guy I find absurdly attractive is my husband, and I can’t even imagine him ever getting a tattoo (he did say once, in what I think was an attempt to be sweet, that if I died he would get my name tattooed somewhere. Ooookay…).

I did once see a graphic designer who got a ruler tattooed to the inside of his arm. That’s just the kind of boring practicality that I can appreciate.

The world of Salt & Storm seems like a darkly fascinating one in which to live. If you could spend a few days in the world of any other fantasy novel, which one would you choose and what’s the first thing you’d do when you got there?

I think I’d want to go to the Shire, from the Lord of the Rings books, and eat some really good food, take some really good naps, stroll through the countryside, and finish it up with a night dancing and singing at the neighborhood tavern. Why no one has made a real-life Shire resort is one of life’s great mysteries.

If Avery was aware she was the heroine of a book detailing her journey to prevent her own murder and change her future, what’s one thing she would most want readers of that story to remember about her after they set her book aside? 

I think (without giving too much of the book away) she would want people to understand that things like fate and destiny are far more fragile and changeable than they might seem. Choice counts for a lot.

Thanks so much for stopping by Kendall!

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A sweeping historical romance about a witch who foresees her own murder--and the one boy who can help change her future.

Sixteen-year-old Avery Roe wants only to take her rightful place as the witch of Prince Island, making the charms that keep the island's whalers safe at sea, but her mother has forced her into a magic-free world of proper manners and respectability. When Avery dreams she's to be murdered, she knows time is running out to unlock her magic and save herself.

Avery finds an unexpected ally in a tattooed harpoon boy named Tane--a sailor with magic of his own, who moves Avery in ways she never expected. Becoming a witch might stop her murder and save her island from ruin, but Avery discovers her magic requires a sacrifice she never prepared for.

• • • • • • • • • • •


Kendall Kulper writes historical fiction with a fantasy twist for teen readers and knows more about nineteenth century whaling than she ever imagined. Her debut YA novel, SALT & STORM will be published by Little, Brown September 23, 2014. She graduated from Harvard University with a degree in history and literature in 2008 and spent several years as a journalist before deciding to write full-time. She grew up in the wilds of New Jersey and now lives in Boston with her husband and chronically-anxious Australian Shepherd mix, Abby.

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Up for grabs to 2 lucky winners are hardcover copies of Salt & Storm. Please enter via the Rafflectopter form below. Giveaway is open to US addresses only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

9/15/2014- Novel NoviceInterview
9/15/2014- The Infinite To-Read ShelfReview
9/16/2014- All Things Urban FantasyGuest Post
9/16/2014- No BS Book ReviewsReview
9/17/2014- Such a Novel IdeaInterview
9/17/2014- Katie's Book BlogReview
9/18/2014- IceyBooksInterview
9/18/2014- Reading YA RocksExcerpt
9/19/2014- Wishful EndingsGuest Post
9/19/2014- Casual ReadersReview

9/22/2014Supernatural Snark- Interview
9/22/2014About to ReadReview
9/23/2014The Cover ContessaGuest Post
9/23/2014Imaginary Reads- Review
9/24/2014Fire and IceGuest Post
9/24/2014Once Upon a TwilightReview
9/25/2014Tales of the Ravenous ReaderInterview
9/25/2014The Best Books EverReview
9/26/2014Two Chicks on BooksGuest Post
9/26/2014Tynga's ReviewsReview

Friday, September 19, 2014

Giveaway: The Betrayed

Today I have the pleasure of giving away The Betrayed, the fourteenth installment of Heather Graham's Krewe of Hunters series. I know some of you are going to see the word "fourteenth" and decide you'll never be able to get caught up on this series, but FEAR NOT, each book works as a standalone. I read the previous book, The Hexed, having not read the prior twelve, and absolutely adored it. I never once felt lost or out of sorts, and Ms. Graham writes some outstanding paranormal romantic suspense stories!

I'm lucky enough to have a copy of The Betrayed to give away on the blog today, but before you guys scroll down to the Rafflecopter, find out what's in store for you in this newest installment (it's oh-so perfect for Halloween)!


Sleepy Hollow isn't so sleepy anymore...

One night, New York FBI agent Aiden Mahoney receives a visitor in a dream–an old friend named Richard Highsmith. The very next day he's sent to Sleepy Hollow because Richard's gone missing there.

Maureen--Mo--Deauville now lives in the historic town and works with her dog, Rollo, to search for missing people. She's actually the one to find Richard... or more precisely his head, stuck on a statue of the legendary Headless Horseman.

Mo and Aiden, a new member of the Krewe of Hunters, the FBI's unit of paranormal investigators, explore both past and present events to figure out who betrayed Richard, who killed him and now wants to kill them, too. As they work together, they discover that they share an unusual trait–the ability to communicate with the dead. They also share an attraction that's as intense as it is unexpected...if they live long enough to enjoy it!

• • • • • • • • • • •


New York Times and USA TODAY  bestselling author Heather Graham has written more than a hundred novels and has been published in more than 20 languages. An avid scuba diver, ballroom dancer and the mother of five, she enjoys her south Florida home, but loves to travel as well, from locations such as Cairo, Egypt, to her own backyard, the Florida Keys. Reading is still the pastime she still loves best, and she is a member of many writing groups. She’s a winner of the Romance Writers of America’s Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Thriller Writers’ Silver Bullet. She is an active member of International Thriller Writers and Mystery Writers of America, and also the founder of The Slush Pile Players, an author band and theatrical group.

Heather annually hosts the Writers for New Orleans conference to benefit both the city, which is near and dear to her heart, and various other causes, and she hosts a ball each year at the RT Booklovers Convention to benefit pediatric AIDS foundations.

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Thanks to TLC Book Tours, Harlequin and Heather Graham, I have one copy of The Betrayed to give away. A reminder that despite being a part of the Krewe of Hunters series, this book is its own story and can be read as such. Please enter via the Rafflecopter form below. Giveaway is open to US/Can only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Don't forget to check out all the remaining stops on the tour for more reviews, interviews, and chances to win!

Monday, September 15th: From the TBR Pile
Monday, September 15th: Books a la ModeSpotlight and giveaway
Tuesday, September 16th: Bewithced Bookworms
Wednesday, September 17th: Snowdrop Dreams of Books
Thursday, September 18th: Ladybug Literature
Friday, September 19th: Supernatural Snark – Spotlight and giveaway

Monday, September 22nd: Read – Love – Blog
Tuesday, September 23rd: A Chick Who Reads
Wednesday, September 24th:  Hopelessly Devoted Bibliophile
Thursday, September 25th: Queen of All She Reads

Monday, September 29th: Saints and Sinners Books
Tuesday, September 30th:  Mom in Love with Fiction
Thursday, October 2nd: Musings of a Bookish Kitty

Monday, October 6th:  Bibliophilia, Please
Wednesday, October 8th: Sara’s Organized Chaos
Thursday, October 9th:  No More Grumpy Bookseller

Monday, October 13th: Peeking Between the Pages
Wednesday, October 15th:  Bibliotica

Monday, October 20th:  Tiffany’s Bookshelf
Tuesday, October 21st: My Shelf Confessions – Wonderfully Wicked Read-A-Thon Giveaway
Thursday, October 23rd: Harlie’s Books


Thursday, September 18, 2014

Review: The Queen of Zombie Hearts

White Rabbit Chronicles #3
Gena Showalter
Paranormal Young Adult
464 pages
Available September 30th
Source: ARC from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
I have a plan.

We'll either destroy them for good, or they'll destroy us.

Either way, only one of us is walking away.

In the stunning conclusion to the wildly popular White Rabbit Chronicles, Alice "Ali" Bell thinks the worst is behind her. She's ready to take the next step with boyfriend Cole Holland, the leader of the zombie slayers…until Anima Industries, the agency controlling the zombies, launches a sneak attack, killing four of her friends. It's then she realizes that humans can be more dangerous than monsters…and the worst has only begun.

As the surviving slayers prepare for war, Ali discovers she, too, can control the zombies…and she isn't the girl she thought she was. She's connected to the woman responsible for killing—and turning—Cole's mother. How can their relationship endure? As secrets come to light, and more slayers are taken or killed, Ali will fight harder than ever to bring down Anima—even sacrificing her own life for those she loves.

The Queen of Zombie Hearts is a series of battles–physical and emotional–from first page to last, Ali and company barely getting a moment’s rest before Death is chasing them down once again. As a result, the 450+ pages of this final installment absolutely fly by, depositing us on the last page with a damaged heart, a wobbly smile, and a deep sense of denial that our time with these characters is actually over. Ms. Showalter is not afraid to raise the body count of both friend and foe in the final showdown between Ali and Anima Industries, but her books are always a beautiful combination of gravity and humor, ensuring we're never without a little light to see us through the darkness.

Ali is as strong as ever, in possession of zombie-destroying abilities no other slayers seem to wield much to our continued puzzlement. We get all the answers to our questions in this last book however, revelation after revelation ratcheting up the intensity to such a degree we seriously contemplate calling in sick to work the next day just so we don’t have to set her story aside for the night and sleep. She’s the type of young woman who abhors lies, so she’s always the first one to blurt out whatever is on her mind whether it be personal or zombie-related in nature, and we can’t help but want to hug her every time she uses her words instead of keeping them locked up tight.

Cole is much the same as well, delighting us with his alpha badassery and possessiveness even as we sometimes simply have to shake our heads at his posturing. Were he to exist in real life, his growling, smoldering, you’ll-do-things-my-way attitude would likely be extremely irritating, but because Ms. Showalter saw fit to give him a woman who snaps her spine straight instead of going weak in the knees under the force of his personality, all his alpha male characteristics take on that beautiful romantic shine that can only exist in fiction. He’s that enormously fun blend of hard and soft, all his pointed edges suddenly rounding in Ali’s presence, shifting him from attractively distant to charmingly approachable, and we can’t help but fall as hard for him as Ali does.

One of Ms. Showalter’s extraordinary strengths, whether she’s writing adult or young adult, has always been her ability to craft large casts of hugely well-developed secondary characters. While Ali and Cole shine brightest in this series, the crew of people surrounding them are every bit as vital to its overall success, their personalities distinct and layered, and we can only hope that maybe one day Ms. Showalter will give us the gift of revisiting them a few years down the line. Overall, The Queen of Zombie Hearts is the perfect end to this series, old friends lost and new friends found, and through it all stands a lead couple who just bring a smile to our faces.

Rating: 4/5

Find Gena:

*If you haven't already, be sure to check out my interview with the charming and hilarious River and enter to win any book in the White Rabbit Chronicles!

This book was sent to me by the publisher free of charge for the purpose of a review
I received no other compensation and the above is my honest opinion.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Next Big YA Book Event


Today I'm thrilled to share a really amazing opportunity for aspiring YA writers: The Next Big YA Book event. The Next Big YA Book event is hosted by Hipso Media (and myself) and gives writers and lovers of all things YA a place to submit their manuscripts for a chance to win a publishing contract as well as a number of other fabulous prizes.

I'm extra excited for this event because not only am I co-hosting, but I'll be designing the cover for the winning book, and I simply can't wait to be a part of bringing the winner's story to life!

Hipso Media ran this event last year as well, so I'm going to let them give you all the details and specifics!


If you have ever hashtagged #amwriting, #MSWL, or #IWantToBePublishedSoBadlyMyEyeballsMightPop, then pay attention.

From September 17th through October 1st, Hipso Media Publishing and Jenny from Supernatural Snark will be hosting the ‘Next Big YA Book Event.’

Why is this good news for #amwriters?

Here’s how the event works. Most publishers work exclusively with agents, which makes it difficult (more like close to impossible) for up-and-coming writers to get their work seen. Well, Hipso Media Publishing will be opening their doors to all YA writers who dream of traditional publication, but can’t seem to catch a break. Writers who have mountainous ideas, along with an actual mountain of rejection letters. Hipso wants to pick one of those writers, and treat them like the literary rock star they are, showering them in every publishing perk someone of their caliber deserves:

  • Publishing contract with a generous royalty program
  • Custom cover from Seedlings Design Studio
  • CBB Book Promotions Blog Tour
  • Exclusive front-page podcast on AuthorsOnTourLive, iReadBooksRadio and iHeartRadio (which gets an average of more than 1 million hits a year)
  • Novel as an eBook on all major retailers – Kindle, Nook, iBooks, Kobo, around the world
  • A featured post on Supernatural Snark
  • Awesome book swag, and more…

Once the winning manuscript is picked, Jenny from Supernatural Snark (owner of Seedlings Design Studio) will work with the author to create a custom cover that will be sure to shout, “NEXT BIG YA BOOK”. And then she’ll do a featured post on Supernatural Snark, to make sure the world hears.

No agents, hoops, or hassles. The only criteria are that your YA manuscript be finished, you must believe it’s great, and it must not already be published somewhere else.
Here’s the link to the submissions page and contact info:
Good luck and happy writing!
If you know anyone who loves YA fiction and dreams of becoming a published author, I hope you'll let them know about The Next Big YA Book event!

In The Afterlight: Pyrokinesis Prize Pack Giveaway

I'm excited today to bring all of you a very special giveaway in honor of the upcoming release of In the Afterlight, the third and final book in the Darkest Minds trilogy by Alexandra Bracken. For those of you who have yet to read any of the books in this series, there are 5 different Psi groups represented in the series, each specializing in one particular paranormal ability.

Throughout September and October leading up to the release of In The Afterlight on October 28th, a number of blogs will be hosting giveaways of prize packs specific to one of the Psi groups. I have the distinct pleasure of putting the Red Prize Pack (Pyrokinesis) up for grabs, but before we get to the giveaway, check out a little bit more about The Darkest Minds trilogy!


Ruby can't look back. Fractured by an unbearable loss, she and the kids who survived the government's attack on Los Angeles travel north to regroup. Only Ruby can keep their highly dangerous prisoner in check. But with Clancy Gray, there's no guarantee you're fully in control, and everything comes with a price.

When the Children's League disbands, Ruby rises up as a leader and forms an unlikely allegiance with Liam's brother, Cole, who has a volatile secret of his own. There are still thousands of other Psi kids suffering in government "rehabilitation camps" all over the country. Freeing them--revealing the governments unspeakable abuses in the process--is the mission Ruby has claimed since her own escape from Thurmond, the worst camp in the country.

But not everyone is supportive of the plan Ruby and Cole craft to free the camps. As tensions rise, competing ideals threaten the mission to uncover the cause of IANN, the disease that killed most of America's children and left Ruby and others with powers the government will kill to keep contained. With the fate of a generation in their hands, there is no room for error. One wrong move could be the spark that sets the world on fire.

(The Darkest Minds 2.5)

This New eBook Novella connects the last two novels in The Darkest Minds trilogy.

Sam didn't think things could get worse at Thurmand rehabilitation camp. Then the Reds arrive. Everyone assumed the kids with firepower had been killed years ago. Instead they were taken away, brainwashed, and returned as terrifyingly effective guards. To her horror, Sam recognizes one of them: Lucas, the one spark of light in Sam's dark childhood.

Lucas has a deadly secret--he beat the brutal training that turned his fellow Reds into mindless drones. When Sam defends herself against an attack by a vile PSF guard and faces a harrowing punishment, Lucas must risk his everything to save her.

 • • • • • • • • • •


Alexandra Bracken was born and raised in Arizona, but moved east to study at the College of William & Mary in Virginia.  She recently relocated to New York City, where she worked in publishing and lives in a charming apartment overflowing with books.

Hyperion Teen:

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Set the world on fire! 
Enter via the Rafflecopter form below for your chance to win a custom Darkest Minds candle and The Darkest Minds series & tote bag. Giveaway is courtesy of the fantastic team at Disney Hyperion and is open to US addresses only.

Don't forget to check out the other participating blogs for chances to win all 5 color prize packs!

Telekinesis (Blue) Prize Pack

Intelligence (Green) Prize Pack

Mind Control (Orange) Prize Pack

Pyrokinesis (Red) Prize Pack

Electrokinesis (Yellow) Prize Pack