Friday, October 24, 2014

Talon Blog Tour: Teaser + Giveaway!

www.kismetbt.com/talon-by-julie-kagawa

I'm absurdly giddy today to be a part of the promotional tour for Talon, the newest paranormal young adult release from Julie Kagawa. I always want to read anything and everything Julie writes, but my excitement for this book is on a whole new level....because dragons. DRAGONS! Yes and please. If the rest of you aren't as excited as I am yet, I hope you will be after you read the teaser below! Be sure and check out the bottom of the post as well for all the details on a Catch the Dragon scavenger hunt in which 5 lucky winners will each receive one of Julie's fantastic dragon figurines, so you don't want to miss out.

But first, time to be teased:


• • • • • • • • • • •

TALON


Long ago, dragons were hunted to near extinction by the Order of St. George, a legendary society of dragon slayers. Hiding in human form and growing their numbers in secret, the dragons of Talon have become strong and cunning, and they're positioned to take over the world with humans none the wiser.
 
Ember and Dante Hill are the only sister and brother known to dragonkind. Trained to infiltrate society, Ember wants to live the teen experience and enjoy a summer of freedom before taking her destined place in Talon. But destiny is a matter of perspective, and a rogue dragon will soon challenge everything Ember has been taught. As Ember struggles to accept her future, she and her brother are hunted by the Order of St. George.
 
Soldier Garret Xavier Sebastian has a mission to seek and destroy all dragons, and Talon's newest recruits in particular. But he cannot kill unless he is certain he has found his prey: and nothing is certain about Ember Hill. Faced with Ember's bravery, confidence and all-too-human desires, Garret begins to question everything that the Order has ingrained in him: and what he might be willing to give up to find the truth about dragons.


• • • • • • • • • • •

JULIE KAGAWA 


Julie Kagawa was born in Sacramento, California. But nothing exciting really happened to her there. So, at the age of nine she and her family moved to Hawaii, which she soon discovered was inhabited by large carnivorous insects, colonies of house geckos and frequent hurricanes. She spent much of her time in the ocean, when she wasn’t getting chased out of it  by reef sharks, jellyfish and the odd eel.

To pay the rent, Julie worked in different bookstores over the years, but discovered the managers frowned upon her reading the books she was supposed to be shelving. So she turned to her other passion: training animals. She worked as a professional dog trainer for several years, dodging Chihuahua bites and overly enthusiastic Labradors, until her first book sold and she stopped training to write full-time.

Julie now lives in Louisville, Kentucky, where the frequency of shark attacks are at an all-time low. She lives with her husband, two obnoxious cats, one Australian shepherd who is too smart for his own good and the latest addition, a hyperactive Papillon puppy.


• • • • • • • • • • •

CATCH THE DRAGON CONTEST


Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, a dragon will appear on a different blog and stay there for 48hrs. Once you have found the dragon, click on it and you will be directed to a Rafflecopter entry form for the Grand Prize Giveaway. To enter, you must answer the daily question found at the tour stop!!!

Where could the dragon appear? On all Book Blogger Tour Hosts and The Harlequin Blog, so go now and catch yourself a dragon! Will you find it? And will you be able to keep it?


What do you win if you track this bad boy down you ask? A prize package of AWESOME:


Five lucky grand prize winners will receive one of Julie’s amazing dragon figurines as well as some fun signed swag. To enter for the grand prize, you MUST follow the tour each day, find and catch the dragon, and answer the daily question. Giveaway is open to US/Canada.

Want to win? Then catch that dragon!

TODAY'S QUESTION: Now that you've gotten to know the characters and read a few teasers, on a scale of 1 to 10, how excited for Talon are you?

• • • • • • • • • • •

DAILY GIVEAWAY

In addition to the fabulous grand prize giveaway featured above for the Catch the Dragon contest, I also have a finished copy of Talon to give away on the blog today! To enter, just fill out the Rafflecopter form, and don't forget to check out all the participating blogs below for character profiles, interviews and chances to win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, October 2nd – Harlequin Blog 

Monday, October 6th – Jessica at Step into Fiction
Wednesday, October 8th – Katie’s Book Blog
Friday, October 10th – Page Turners

Monday, October 13th – Bewitched Bookworms
Wednesday, October 15th – Mundie Moms
Friday, October 17th – Fiktshun

Monday, October 20th – Two Chicks on Books
Wednesday, October 22nd – YA Interrobang
Friday, October 24th – Supernatural Snark

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Interview: Roxanne St. Claire + They All Fall Down


I'm thrilled today to welcome author Roxanne St. Claire to the blog as part of the promotional tour for her newest release, They All Fall Down. Roxanne was nice enough to answer a few questions for me about high school, murder mysteries and her teenage self, so I hope you all enjoy the interview!

To help us get to know Kenzie and her newfound friends a little bit better, could you assign each of them a typical high school yearbook superlative (best dressed, most likely to succeed, etc.)?

Kenzie Summerall – Most Changed
Molly Russell – Biggest Band Geek
Josh Collier – Sexiest Smile
Levi Sterling – Most Wanted by Administration

Confession: I live for lists. I love them and can’t get through my day without making one. Instead of a list like the one circulating at Kenzie’s high school, please give us a list of your top 5 favorite high school-centric movies.

Mean Girls
A Cinderella Story
The Breakfast Club
Clueless
Perks of Being a Wallflower

If Kenzie could invite a character from any piece of fiction (aside from Sherlock Holmes) to help her uncover the secrets behind the list and the death of her classmates, who would she most want to work with?

Why not Sherlock!?! He’d be perfect. Okay, then I’d have her pick someone from either the Guardian Angelinos or the Bullet Catchers, two incredibly talented teams of protection and security specialists…all invented by me!

If Kenzie had the chance to sit down and interview you, what do you think the first question out of her mouth would be?

“Why did I have to wait so long to find out the truth about my brother?”

I love a mystery that can keep me guessing. What book had the biggest/most surprising twist you’ve ever encountered?

I admit that I didn’t see the sad ending of Fault in our Stars coming. I read the book very early, before the big buzz, and when Augustus flinches in pain in Amsterdam for the first time, I gasped loudly in shock. No! He wouldn’t do that! He wouldn’t…he did. Sigh. Also, there’s a death at the end of Mockingjay that stunned (and infuriated) me. 

If, like Kenzie, the teenage version of you suddenly found herself the center of the popular crowd’s attention, what would her reaction have been?

I’d like to think I’d be more like Kenzie than Molly. Kenzie was not overwhelmed by it all, because she never really sought seek the attention and didn’t place any value on it. Her best friend, Molly, on the other hand was seduced – so it was a good thing that Molly wasn’t on the list. That was a big reason Kenzie didn’t get sucked into the power of the list, and was able to stand back and see what was happening objectively. 

What’s one thing your high school self never would have guessed about the direction your career as an adult has taken?

My high school self went 3,000 miles away from home (from Pittsburgh to UCLA) with the intention of being a high-powered attorney. But after one semester of college, I knew I wasn’t cut out for law school. I think my high school self would be surprised that those little “stories” I wrote for fun and to amuse my friends ended up as the way I make my living.

Thanks so much for these awesome questions. I’m happy to pop in today and answer more!

My pleasure Roxanne, thank you so much for taking the time to stop by!

• • • • • • • • • • • •

THEY ALL FALL DOWN


Every year, the lives of ten girls at Vienna High are transformed.

All because of the list.

Kenzie Summerall can't imagine how she's been voted onto a list of the hottest girls in school, but when she lands at number five, her average life becomes dazzling. Doors open to the best parties, new friends surround her, the cutest jock in school is after her.

This is the power of the list. If you're on it, your life changes.

If you're on it this year? Your life ends.



• • • • • • • • • • • •

ROXANNE ST. CLAIRE


Roxanne St. Claire is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of more than thirty novels of suspense and romance, including three popular series (The Bullet Catchers, The Guardian Angelinos, and Barefoot Bay) and multiple stand alone books.

In addition to being a six-time nominee and one-time winner of the RITA Award, Roxanne’s novels have won the National Reader’s Choice Award for best romantic suspense three times, as well as the Daphne du Maurier Award, the HOLT Medallion, the Maggie, Booksellers Best, Book Buyers Best, the Award of Excellence, and many others. Her books have been translated into dozens of languages and are routinely included as a Doubleday/Rhapsody Book Club Selection of the Month.


And don't forget to check out the rest of the participating blogs!

10/14     Icey Books                                         
10/15     Bumbles & Fairytales                     
10/16     Across the Words                           
10/17     Bookish                                               
10/18     A Dream Within a Dream
10/19     Good Books & Good Wine          
10/20     Jean Book Nerd                           
10/21     Pandora’s Books                             
10/22     Anatea’s Bookshelf                        
10/23     Supernatural Snark                        
10/24     The Children’s Book Review       
10/26     Live to Read
10/27     Winter Haven Books / Rather Be Reading YA      
10/28     Peace Love Books                           
10/29     Christy’s Book Addiction              
10/30     Stories & Sweeties
10/31     Wondrous Reads            

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Compulsion Blog Tour + Giveaway: Talking Magic with Jessica Spotswood


Today I'm hugely excited to be a stop on the I Have A Compulsion for Magic blog tour, a tour celebrating the upcoming release of Martina Boone's debut novel, Compulsion. I've been not-so patiently waiting (because I lack patience of any kind when it comes to books) for this book to release since the moment I saw the gorgeous cover and read the synopsis, and now the wait is almost over. YAY!

I couldn't be happier to turn my blog over to author Jessica Spotswood, who's lending Martina a hand with her pre-release festivities and is going to answer a few questions about magic. Be sure to check out the rest of the tour for more surprise guests, excerpts and giveaways!

• • • • • • • • • • • 

Ever wonder what it would be like to have a little bit of magic to use everyday? That’s what the Compulsion for Magic tour is all about! The characters on Watson Island don’t levitate, they don’t freeze time, and they don’t have magic wands. They just have an extra “gift” that doubles as a curse if you look at it from a different angle, and like in Jessica Spotswood’s Cahill Witch Chronicles trilogy, the magic doesn’t like not being used.
 

Because she knows a thing or two about the inconvenient aspects of magic, we’ve asked the lovely Jessica Spotswood to tell us a little about what kind of magic she and her characters wish—and don’t wish—they had.
If you could have any “everyday” magical gift, like finding lost things or knowing what people want, what gift would you want and why?

I'm not sure this counts as "everyday" magic, but I'd most like a time-turner. Mostly to give myself a few extra hours every day to read for pleasure. I feel like it's the first thing to go when I get busy, which is dreadful.

What everyday magic would your characters wish they had and why?

Ooh, interesting question, since my characters are witches. What can't they do magically that they'd like to, though? Cate would like to be a plant-whisperer - to know what each plant needs to thrive - because she loves gardening and gets such joy from it. Tess would choose to relive memories so she could spend more time with those she misses. Maura - oh, Lord, asking Maura this question would be downright dangerous because she'd never settle for something "everyday." Finn would love to have some magical way of absorbing more knowledge - maybe the ability to read a book by osmosis?

Eight, Barrie’s love interest in
Compulsion, has inherited his family’s gift of knowing what people want and feeling compelled to give it to them. What’s one gift you’re glad you don’t have? Or your characters would be glad they didn’t have?

I wouldn't want the ability to see the future. It's tempting sometimes (especially in this business, I think!), but half the magic and bravery of things is in the not-knowing and doing it anyway. I think Cate would prefer not to have her mind-magic, because she regrets some of the things she's done with it. I don't think Maura and Tess would give it up, though.

Barrie is tied to her family’s plantation, Watson’s Landing, in a magical way, and the whole landscape becomes magical for her. What’s the one place in your book that you wish you could bring to life?

Belastra's Bookshop, where Cate and Finn share their first kiss and she loses control of her magic. Also - it's a bookshop!

If you were going to a Halloween party and you had to dress as a character from a Southern Gothic or a Gothic romance, what would your costume look like?

I'd be Jane Eyre, I think - hair pulled back plainly and drab governess-appropriate clothes, but armed with a stack of books and a witty tongue and a loyal heart.

Your turn! We want to hear from you! What kind of a “gift” would you like to have? For a chance to win the HUGE tour mega prize of books and the $100 gift card, tell us in the comments below—but remember, as it is on Compulsion’s Watson Island—magic isn’t always a solution, it’s just as often a problem in itself.
 

Would you go with an unusual magic or a useful one?

And/Or . . .

Bonus option: If you’d rather do a photo answer, show us a Halloween costume with your interpretation of a literary witchy, Southern Gothic, Gothic, or magical costume! Would you go as Hermione Granger, one of the Cahill sisters, or one of the Vampire Diaries witches? Or would you take Jessica’s route of a Gothic character like Jane Eyre? Post a comment with the URL to your photo and we’ll share it. Use tag #CompulsionMagic.


• • • • • • • • • •

COMPULSION
Heirs of Watson Island #1
Releases October 28th from Simon & Schuster



Three plantations.  Two gifts. One ancient curse.

All her life, Barrie Watson has been a virtual prisoner in the house where she lives with her shut-in mother. When her mother dies, Barrie promises to put some mileage on her stiletto heels. But she finds a new kind of prison at her aunt ’s South Carolina plantation instead–a prison guarded by an ancient spirit who long ago cursed one of the three founding families of Watson Island and gave the others magical gifts that became compulsions.

Stuck with the ghosts of a generations-old feud and hunted by forces she cannot see, Barrie must find a way to break free of the family legacy. With the help of sun-kissed Eight Beaufort, who somehow seems to know what Barrie wants before she knows herself, the last Watson heir starts to unravel her family ’s twisted secrets. What she finds is dangerous: a love she never expected, a river that turns to fire at midnight, a gorgeous cousin who isn’t what she seems, and very real enemies who want both Eight and Barrie dead.



Pre-order Compulsion:

IndieBound | Barnes & Noble | Amazon | Book Depository | Goodreads

Signed copies are available for pre-order from One More Page Books. You can also pre-order with the special I have a Compulsion for readingbookplate from Eight Cousins. Pre-Order Incentives Going on here.


Early Praise for Compulsion:
“ Darkly romantic and steeped in Southern Gothic charm, you’ll be compelled to get lost in the Heirs of Watson Island series.”
— #1 New York Times Bestselling Author Jennifer L. Armentrout

"A fresh twist on the Southern Gothic — haunting, atmospheric, and absorbing.”
— Claudia Gray, New York Times bestselling author of A Thousand Pieces of You and the Evernight and Spellcaster series

"Compulsion is a stunningly magical debut with a delicious slow burn to be savored. I want to live in this story world!"
— Wendy Higgins, USA Today and NYT bestselling author of the Sweet Evil trilogy from HarperTeen


• • • • • • • • • • • 
 
MARTINA BOONE 


Martina Boone was born in Prague and spoke several languages before learning English. She fell in love with words and never stopped delighting in them.

She ’s the founder of AdventuresInYAPublishing.com, a Writer’s Digest 101 Best Websites for Writers site, and YASeriesInsiders.com, a site devoted to encouraging literacy and all things YA Series.

From her home in Virginia, where she lives with her husband, children, and Auggie the wonder dog, she enjoys writing contemporary fantasy set in the kinds of magical places she’d love to visit. When she isn’t writing, she’s addicted to travel, horses, skiing, chocolate flavored tea, and anything with Nutella on it.



• • • • • • • • • • • •

GIVEAWAY


Do you have a Compulsion for Reading? Then you don't want to miss what Martina Boone is giving away! 5 lucky winners will each win the following:
  • Grand Prize Winner - will win EVERYTHING pictured above! That's the right! That entire bag of books will go to 1 reader!! US residents only.
  • Next Winner - will win a $100 gift card to the book store of their choice! Open internationally.
  • 3 Additional winners will each win a Compulsion prize pack which features a signed copy of Compulsion, a Compulsion necklace and bookmarks. Open internationally.
To enter, please fill out the form below:


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck, and don't forget to stop by the other participating blogs!

10/6- Reading Teen, intro to tour & giveaway
10/7 -
Fiktshun, Kimberly Derting & Kami Garcia guest post & giveaway
10/8 -
Chapter by Chapter, excerpt & giveaway
10/10 -
Katie's Book Blog, Paula Stokes guest post & giveaway

10/13 -
Curling Up With A Good Book, Jodi Meadows guest post & giveaway
10/14 -
Fangirlish, Amy Ewing guest post & giveaway
10/15 -
Reading Lark, excerpt & giveaway
10/16 -
Good Books & Good Wine, Megan Shepherd guest post & giveaway
10/17 -
Jenuine Cupcakes, Beth Revis guest post & giveaway

10/20 - Mundie Moms, Martina Boone interview & giveaway 

10/21 - Guest post with Martina Boone & Sara, and giveaway 

10/22 - Supernatural Snark, Jessica Spotswood guest post & giveaway 

10/23 - Girls in The Stacks, excerpt & giveaway 

10/24 - Novel Novice, Leah Cypess guest post & giveaway 


10/27 - Once Upon a Twilight, Kat Zhang guest post & giveaway 

10/28 - Martina Boone, tour wrap up

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Interview: Vanessa Barneveld + This Is Your Afterlife


Today I have the pleasure of welcoming author Vanessa Barneveld to the blog to answer a few questions about This Is Your Afterlife, her debut novel releasing today from Bloomsbury Spark. A couple months back I was given the amazing opportunity to design Vanessa's cover, and I'm so thrilled to share a small part of her release day with her. I hope you all enjoy the interview and add This Is Your Afterlife to your lists!

While being haunted isn't an ideal situation, being haunted by a longtime crush is a best-case ghostly scenario. If you found yourself in Keira's shoes, dealing with the sudden appearance of a ghost in your life, what fictional character or real-life celebrity would make your haunting a much more pleasant experience?

Patrick Swayze – he could sing, act, ride horses, and he seemed like a top guy. If he could teach me to dance, that’d be some kind of wonderful. I’m hopeless at following choreography, though. Think Baby at the beginning of Dirty Dancing but ten times worse. I’ve no doubt he’d merengue away from me at the first opportunity!

Keira desperately wants to find out who's responsible for Jimmy's murder. How skilled a sleuth would you say you are?

I grew up devouring Nancy Drew and Agatha Christie books, so I like to think I have a good grasp of the best techniques and questions to ask in order to find out whodunit. And I love trying to guess the villains in Law & Order episodes. In reality, I’d be more like the bumbling Inspector Clouseau, unwittingly destroying evidence and contaminating crime scenes.

Do you think you'd be of any help to her?

I’m not sure I’d be much help at all when it comes to ghost wrangling or interrogating suspects. For one thing, the idea of ghosts does freak me out. I’ve had a few experiences with what I think were ghosts. Unlike Jimmy, they weren’t the greatest of conversationalists. :-) What I could do for Keira is be her confidante and help her through the turmoil that comes with being suddenly psychic. She’s a loner, and while she’s perfectly fine with hanging out by herself, everyone needs a friend they can count on.

You obviously knew both what was going to happen to Jimmy as well as who helped him into an early grave ahead of time, so how difficult was it to place clues for your characters and readers that were neither too obvious nor too obscure?

It’s tricky to get that balance right. Plotting out the story before you start writing helps. Mind you, I’m not a natural-born plotter, so I find this process especially difficult! You need a red herring or two so readers don’t figure it out too quickly. At the same time, it’s useful to drop a tidbit here and there so when the truth is revealed, it’s not something that’s come out of left field. Agatha Christie excelled at the “tidbit drop” – some clues may be submerged in a throwaway conversation, but they’re there.

Given the loss of Jimmy, Keira could probably use some time away from everything to grieve. If she could escape to the world of any other piece of fiction, what world would she choose?

I would like to say Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, but that’s a sore point with Keira because she’s regrettably allergic to chocolate. The Wizard of Oz might be more her style. Its “no place like home” motif would certainly inspire her. She has to help Jimmy find his home in the afterlife.

Let's say Keira, Dan and Jimmy are all accompanying you on a promotional tour for This Is Your Afterlife. Which one of them would have the most fun answering reader questions?

Jimmy, hands down! As the captain of the football team, he’s used to being on show. Death is bewildering to him. He isn’t used to being invisible. So he’d take any opportunity to be seen and heard...and flirt. He’s shameless. :-)

If a book was written about your road to publication, what would the title of that book be and how would the first or last line read?

Patience is a Virtue: A Case Study.

Vanessa had spent seventeen years fruitlessly working toward a book deal, but when her cats got “published” in a calendar, she knew it was time to step things up a notch!

Even though Keira can talk to Jimmy in death, what's one thing she wishes she had told him in life?

Jimmy was a like a demigod at school. Strong, confident, celebrated. People were naturally drawn to him. He had an entourage around him all the time – teammates, his girlfriend, girls who wanted to be his girlfriend. But something he never told anyone was that he hated being alone. Keira could have helped him overcome that. The two of them could’ve been great friends in life if they had the chance.

Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions Vanessa!

• • • • • • • • • • • 

THIS IS YOUR AFTERLIFE


When the one boy you crushed on in life can't seem to stay away in death, it's hard to be a normal teen when you're a teen paranormal.

Sixteen-year-old Keira Nolan has finally got what she wanted—the captain of the football team in her bedroom. Problem is he’s not in the flesh. He’s a ghost and she’s the only one who can see him.

Keira's determined to do anything to find Jimmy's killer. Even it if means teaming up with his prickly-yet-dangerously-attractive brother, Dan, also Keira's ex-best-friend. Keira finds that her childish crush is fading, but her feelings for Dan are just starting to heat up, and as the story of Jimmy’s murder unfolds, anyone could be a suspect.

This thrilling debut from Vanessa Barneveld crosses over from our world to the next, and brings a whole delightful new meaning to "teen spirit".


• • • • • • • • • • •

VANESSA BARNEVELD


I live on the east coast of Australia with my musician husband and two photogenic cats. My Young Adult books are represented by Beth Miller of Writers House literary agency. Three of those works have received nominations in the prestigious Golden Heart® Award in 2009, 2010 and 2014. On most days you will find me chocolate addled and trying to convince my cats to sit somewhere other than on my keyboard. The best thing about being an author is the free rein to make up tall stories, as well as short ones.

Speaking of short stories, one of mine was published in HarperCollins Australia’s e-book anthology, URL LOVE. I was inspired to write THE TWEETEST THING after my boss took me to a Duran Duran concert in 2012.

I’m excited about the release of my debut novel, THIS IS YOUR AFTERLIFE, on October 21, 2014. The cats? They’re not all that impressed – they’ve already appeared in the AWKWARD FAMILY PET PHOTOS book and the 2012 I Can Has Cheezburger desk calendar.

Be sure to check the blog page regularly for more news about my books, my cats and my baking disasters.
Find Vanessa:

Monday, October 20, 2014

Review: Snow Like Ashes

SNOW LIKE ASHES
Snow Like Ashes #1
Sara Raasch
Young Adult/Fantasy
432 pages
Balzer + Bray
Available Now
Source: ARC from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
A heartbroken girl. A fierce warrior. A hero in the making.

Sixteen years ago the Kingdom of Winter was conquered and its citizens enslaved, leaving them without magic or a monarch. Now, the Winterians’ only hope for freedom is the eight survivors who managed to escape, and who have been waiting for the opportunity to steal back Winter’s magic and rebuild the kingdom ever since.

Orphaned as an infant during Winter’s defeat, Meira has lived her whole life as a refugee, raised by the Winterians’ general, Sir. Training to be a warrior—and desperately in love with her best friend, and future king, Mather — she would do anything to help her kingdom rise to power again.

So when scouts discover the location of the ancient locket that can restore Winter’s magic, Meira decides to go after it herself. Finally, she’s scaling towers, fighting enemy soldiers, and serving her kingdom just as she’s always dreamed she would. But the mission doesn’t go as planned, and Meira soon finds herself thrust into a world of evil magic and dangerous politics – and ultimately comes to realize that her destiny is not, never has been, her own.


MY THOUGHTS
Snow Like Ashes is as unique as the frozen flakes that haunt the memories of every citizen of the defeated Kingdom of Winter, beautifully rejecting anything remotely formulaic and instead giving us a world of power and cruelty inhabited by people who shine vibrantly even in the shadow of tyranny. Ms. Raasch doesn't waste valuable page time explaining the parameters of Meira's fantasy world or its political and military history, rather she immediately introduces us to young Meira, a gorgeously determined underdog amidst a larger group of underdogs who seek to retake what was brutally stolen from them years before. The connection to Meira therefore forms swiftly and easily, swept up as we are in her quest to prove herself to both the leader of their ragtag group as well as her best friend and longtime crush, Mather. From this emotional foundation Ms. Raasch builds the aforementioned history of Primoria and its kingdoms, first ensuring our hearts are beating in time with Meira's before fully engaging our minds as she skillfully weaves a dark past in and through the shimmering promise of a better future.

Meira is a heroine who easily sets a new standard against which all future female characters will be measured, her fervent desire to be an asset to those around her–to be someone who makes a difference on a scale small or large–inspiring enough that we simply can do nothing but pour every ounce of faith we have into her. Not only is she dedicated to all things Winter and fiercely protective of a kingdom of which she has very little memory, but she also refuses to stay silent and accepting when she disagrees with the actions or orders of those around her. Many times willfull characters can come across as whiny and petulant in their objections, allowing heightened emotion to reduce the effectiveness of their argument, but Meira argues her points with passion backed by logic and reason, forcing the other person to see the validity of her words through the anger or hurt that colors them. She proves again and again that she has a spine of steel, but accompanying that backbone is an impressive self-awareness and ability to recognize her strengths as well as admit to her weaknesses.

Though some readers may feel this story has a love triangle simply because there are two young men in Meira's life, the romance is anything but so simply labeled, and Meira impresses at every turn with her ability to navigate what could easily become emotionally treacherous waters. Though both Mather and Theron express an interest in Meira, their feelings are far more complicated than merely admitting interest, each of them bound to circumstances beyond their control that have a profound effect on the dynamic between the three of them. As the story continues, however, we begin to see how one young man shuts his eyes to the person Meira truly is while the other opens his wide and sees her inside and out. It needs to be mentioned too that the romance, while a notable and intrinsic aspect of this story, is hugely secondary to the journey Meira herself undergoes, her path toward freeing her kingdom from the shackles of a seemingly impenetrable darkness leading to the discovery of who she wants to be as a woman, a friend, a soldier, and a proud Winterian.

Overall, Snow Like Ashes is a stunning debut from Ms. Raasch, characters leaping from the pages and wrapping themselves around our hearts so tightly we have little choice but to give them the full weight of our hope, love and attention. We're thankfully left with one epic battle behind us and no cliffhanger in sight, but on the distant horizon a familiar shadow can be seen, inviting us to count the days until we return to Meira and join the effort to rebuild Winter once again.

Rating: 5/5



Find Sara:

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, October 17, 2014

Interview: Sara Raasch + Snow Like Ashes


I'm ridiculously excited today to have author Sara Raasch stopping by the blog to answer a few questions about her YA fantasy debut, Snow Like Ashes. I've fangirled over this book in a previous post, so it should come as no surprise when I say this book blew me away (my full review will go up Monday). It had everything I look for in a fantasy novel, or any novel for that matter, and I simply cannot wait to see how Meira's story unfolds in future books. Welcome to Supernatural Snark Sara!

Try as she might, Meira is not overly skilled with a sword and it’s certainly not her weapon of choice. If you were training alongside Meira with Mather and Sir, what weapon do you think you’d have the best luck wielding?

I actually would choose a sword. Part of the reason I made Meira more apt at long-range weapons was because I myself SUCK at such things and I wanted to live vicariously through her. I tried archery in high school and was atrociously awful at it—even when I try to throw something in the trash, I miss unless I deliberately set it in.
 

Mather is exceptionally good at wiping his face clean of expression so Meira can’t get even the barest hint of what he’s thinking. If we were granted a few moments in his head, what are some of the words we’d find swirling around in there when he looks at Meira?

A few moments in Mather’s head? Hmm…



Most of the time, he’s kind of stricken by her. She reacts to situations in ways he would never dream of, so when she does something, he just sort of stands there in this dazed mix of awe and confusion. She constantly surprises him, which is one of the many reasons he’s so attached to her.
 

Political and military alliances in the world of Primoria are often formed through marriage. If you were the daughter of a ruling family and learned you were to be married for the betterment of your kingdom, what character from YA fiction would you most wish for your betrothed to be like?

Ooooo SUCH A TOUGH QUESTION.

Hm. Well, I just finished reading Sabaa Tahir’s AN EMBER IN THE ASHES, and Elias. ELIAS. He is perfect. If my betrothed was at all similar to Elias, well… 



What’s one quirk or habit Meira has that those closest to you reading her story might recognize as one she shares with you?

As my family was reading SLA, they kept saying Meira sounds so like me. Her snark, her voice—which was sort of intentional, sort of a happy accident!
 

The best villains for me are those like Angra who have the ability to inspire both hatred and sympathy; small moments of vulnerability carefully woven into their seemingly all-powerful darkness. Who is your all-time favorite villain from any piece of fiction?

Ignifex from CRUEL BEAUTY. I don’t really know if he’d be classified as 100% villain, though—and that makes me love him! Is he good? Is he bad? Is he trustworthy? Whatever he is, he’s amazing. Refer to the gif in question #3.


If Meira had the chance to ask you a single question about how you wrote her story or what the future holds for her and her people, what do you think she would most want to know?

No matter what happens to Meira or those she loves, her primary goal is to make Winter safe. So I think she would always ask some form of “Will Winter be okay?”

And then after my response, her reaction would invariably be something like: 



When the Kingdom of Winter fell, aside the tragic loss of life, the loss of Winter’s history and culture was the cruelest blow dealt. Though Meira doesn’t have many memories of Winter itself, after her experiences in Snow Like Ashes she knows its people well. If she were to begin a new written recording of all that is the Kingdom of Winter, how would the first line read?

OH SUCH A HARD QUESTION. Hmm. *ponders*

Maybe:

“This war has taken much from us. Lives, land, friends, homes—memories. Whole generations will grow up not knowing what Winter’s chill feels like, or the joy of awakening to a fresh blanket of snow, or the taste of Winterian delicacies. While we cannot bring back the lost lives or childhoods, we can ensure that from this day forward, we all have the memories we deserve.

And someday, our kingdom will reach a point where we won’t need to draw culture from handwritten texts. It will be a part of our lives, ingrained into us.

For now, though, this record will be our home.”



• • • • • • • • • • •

SNOW LIKE ASHES


Sixteen years ago the Kingdom of Winter was conquered and its citizens enslaved, leaving them without magic or a monarch. Now the Winterians' only hope for freedom is the eight survivors who managed to escape, and who have been waiting for the opportunity to steal back Winter's magic and rebuild the kingdom ever since.

Orphaned as an infant during Winter's defeat, Meira has lived her whole life as a refugee, raised by the Winterians' general, Sir. Training to be a warrior—and desperately in love with her best friend and future king, Mather—she would do anything to help Winter rise to power again.

So when scouts discover the location of the ancient locket that can restore their magic, Meira decides to go after it herself. Finally, she's scaling towers and fighting enemy soldiers just as she's always dreamed she would. But the mission doesn't go as planned, and Meira soon finds herself thrust into a world of evil magic and dangerous politics—and ultimately comes to realize that her destiny is not, never has been, her own.

Sara Raasch's debut fantasy is a lightning-fast tale of loyalty, love, and finding one's destiny.


• • • • • • • • • • • • 

SARA RAASCH


Sara Raasch has known she was destined for bookish things since the age of five, when her friends had a lemonade stand and she tagged along to sell her hand-drawn picture books too. Not much has changed since then — her friends still cock concerned eyebrows when she attempts to draw things and her enthusiasm for the written word still drives her to extreme measures. Her debut YA fantasy, SNOW LIKE ASHES, the first in a trilogy, comes out October 14, 2014 from Balzer + Bray. It does not feature her hand-drawn pictures.