The Debut Dish: Sara Biren, Whitney Taylor, Jessica Strawser, Danielle Mages Amato, & Michael Miller (+ Giveaways)

March 26, 2017 Author Interview, Debut Author Challenge, Debut Dish, Giveaway 3

The Debut Dish, a bi-monthly Debut Author Challenge feature, is where you go for the scoop on some pretty awesome debut authors and their new books! Hopefully these interviews will inspire you to add many, many more books to your to-read list. Because, really, who doesn’t need more books in their lives?

This issue of The Debut Dish features Sara Biren (The Last Thing You Said), Whitney Taylor (Definitions of Indefinable Things), Jessica Strawser (Almost Missed You), Danielle Mages Amato (The Hidden Memory of Objects), and Michael Miller (Shadow Run).


The Last Things You Said by Sara Biren
April 4, 2017 from Amulet Books
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

Last summer, Lucy’s and Ben’s lives changed in an instant. One moment, they were shyly flirting on a lake raft, finally about to admit their feelings to each other after years of yearning. In the next, Trixie—Lucy’s best friend and Ben’s sister—was gone, her heart giving out during a routine swim. And just like that, the idyllic world they knew turned upside down, and the would-be couple drifted apart, swallowed up by their grief. Now it’s a year later in their small lake town, and as the anniversary of Trixie’s death looms, Lucy and Ben’s undeniable connection pulls them back together. They can’t change what happened the day they lost Trixie, but the summer might finally bring them closer to healing—and to each other.

Describe your book in five words or less.
First love, loss, grief, forgiveness.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
My favorite scene takes place at Ben’s cousin’s wedding. The wedding itself was inspired by my niece Maria’s wedding in July of 2011, the month I started writing the book. There’s so much tension and longing between the two main characters, and an unexpected slow dance, followed by harsh words and more heartbreak.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
At my kitchen table, about to make dinner for my kids.

What’s your favorite junk food?
White Cheddar Cheez-It Grooves.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
The Minnesota Motor Vehicle Registration Card for my very first car, a 1987 red 4-door Pontiac Sunbird, which I sold in August of 1998.


Definitions of Indefinable Things by Whitney Taylor
April 4, 2017 from HMH Books for Young Readers
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

This heartbreaking, humorous novel is about three teens whose lives intersect in ways they never expected.

Reggie Mason is all too familiar with “the Three Stages of Depression.” She believes she’s unlocked the secret to keeping herself safe: Nobody can hurt you if you never let them in.

Reggie encounters an unexpected challenge to her misanthropy: a Twizzler-chomping, indie film-making narcissist named Snake. Snake’s presence, while reassuring, is not exactly stable—especially since his ex-girlfriend is seven months pregnant. As Reggie falls for Snake, she must decide whether it’s time to rewrite the rules that have defined her.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Depression. Fear. Friendship. Love. Hope.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
There’s an awkward scene in which the MC, Reggie, gets stuck taking her arch-frenemy and crush’s baby mama, Carla, to a birthing class. It was one of my favorite scenes to write because it’s a refreshing break from the heaviness of the book, and starts to sew the seeds that eventually blossom into an unlikely and satisfying female friendship.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
Honestly? This may be TMI….but I was on the toilet. (My agent called me a few minutes after she said she would, and I couldn’t hold my pee any longer! Sue me!)

What’s your favorite junk food?
Good ol’ fashioned potato chips. Salty. Greasy. Will probably clog my arteries and kill me one day. Just my speed.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
A package of tissues that I refuse to blow my nose in because they’re cute.


Almost Missed You by Jessica Strawser
March 28, 2017 from St. Martin’s Press
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

Violet and Finn were “meant to be,” said everyone, always. They ended up together by the hands of fate aligning things just so. Three years into their marriage, they have a wonderful little boy, and as the three of them embark on their first vacation as a family, Violet can’t help thinking that she can’t believe her luck. Life is good.

So no one is more surprised than she when Finn leaves her at the beach—just packs up the hotel room and disappears. And takes their son with him. Violet is suddenly in her own worst nightmare, and faced with the knowledge that the man she’s shared her life with, she never really knew at all.

Caitlin and Finn have been best friends since way back when, but when Finn shows up on Caitlin’s doorstep with the son he’s wanted for kidnapping, demands that she hide them from the authorities, and threatens to reveal a secret that could destroy her own family if she doesn’t, Caitlin faces an impossible choice.

Told through alternating viewpoints of Violet, Finn and Caitlin,Almost Missed You is a powerful story of a mother’s love, a husband’s betrayal, connections that maybe should have been missed, secrets that perhaps shouldn’t have been kept, and spaces between what’s meant to be and what might have been.

Describe your book in five words or less.
“Perfect” couple questions fate’s role.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
Because the story is not told chronologically, it’s virtually impossible to describe any of my favorites without inadvertently including a spoiler–which is lucky for me, because it lets me off the hook of having to decide which one is my top pick! (I’m awful at choosing favorites.)

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
I’d taken the day off work to chaperone my 4-year-old’s pre-K pumpkin patch field trip, and saw that I’d missed the call while corralling the kids under cover when it started to rain on the farm. I didn’t have good enough cell phone reception to call my agent back until I was well into my drive home–the suspense was killing me!

What’s your favorite junk food?
Ice cream (preferably with some sort of chocolate and peanut butter ripples involved) with pretzels sprinkled on top.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
I’m at my daytime desk at the Writer’s Digest office right now, so here, it’s a tie between an origami elephant (sent in a holiday card from one of our contributors) and a 16″ lifelike Mark Twain doll (which, believe it or not, came with my house, left for me by the previous owners after they learned I was an editor and writer).

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The Hidden Memory of Objects by Danielle Mages Amato
March 21, 2017 from Balzer + Bray
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

Megan Brown’s brother, Tyler, is dead, but the cops are killing him all over again. They say he died of a drug overdose, potentially suicide—something Megan cannot accept. Determined to figure out what happened in the months before Tyler’s death, Megan turns to the things he left behind. After all, she understands the stories objects can tell—at fifteen, she is a gifted collage artist with a flair for creating found-object pieces. However, she now realizes that her artistic talent has developed into something more: she can see memories attached to some of Tyler’s belongings—and those memories reveal a brother she never knew.

Enlisting the help of an artifact detective who shares her ability and specializes in murderabilia—objects tainted by violence or the deaths of their owners—Megan finds herself drawn into a world of painful personal and national memories. Along with a trusted classmate and her brother’s charming friend, she chases down the troubling truth about Tyler across Washington, DC, while reclaiming her own stifled identity with a vengeance.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Mystery, History, Murderabilia, Grief, Adventure

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
I might have a favorite character rather than a favorite scene, because I pretty much love every scene that Eric Bowling (my book BFF) is in. He was a joy to write, because he’s just so wholehearted and curious and quirky and unafraid. Which made it a pleasure to unleash him anytime he appears.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
I was at the DENTIST, of all places, waiting in the lobby to have my teeth cleaned. When my phone rang and I saw it was my agent, I stepped outside to take the call. Screaming and jumping up and down followed. Of course, I had overlooked the fact that I was standing in front of a big picture window, so everyone inside the dentist’s office could see me. When I came back in, they all demanded to know what had happened. That is how a room full of random strangers knew I was going to be a published author before my own family did. All the strangers clapped — they were probably the happiest group of people in a dentist’s office ever. Then I had my teeth cleaned.

What’s your favorite junk food?
Anything that combines mint and chocolate. In any form. Anywhere. Thin mints, peppermint patties, peppermint bark. MUST CONSUME.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
I have two young children, so there is never a shortage of odd things on my desk (and in my purse). Right now there’s a handful of feathers, some plastic doll hair, and assorted mini bouncy balls. But the oddest thing *I* keep on my desk is probably a set of Abe Lincoln salt and pepper shakers. Keeping it honest! :-)


Shadow Run by Michael Miller and AdriAnne Strickland
March 21, 2017 from Delacorte Press
Add to Goodreads | Michael Miller’s Website

Firefly meets Dune in this action-packed sci-fi adventure about a close-knit, found family of a crew navigating a galaxy of political intrigue and resource-driven power games.

Nev has just joined the crew of the starship Kaitan Heritage as the cargo loader. His captain, Qole, is the youngest-ever person to command her own ship, but she brooks no argument from her crew of orphans, fugitives, and con men. Nev can’t resist her, even if her ship is an antique.

As for Nev, he’s a prince, in hiding on the ship. He believes Qole holds the key to changing galactic civilization, and when her cooperation proves difficult to obtain, Nev resolves to get her to his home planet by any means necessary.

But before they know it, a rival royal family is after Qole too, and they’re more interested in stealing her abilities than in keeping her alive.

Nev’s mission to manipulate Qole becomes one to save her, and to survive, she’ll have to trust her would-be kidnapper. He may be royalty, but Qole is discovering a deep reservoir of power–and stars have mercy on whoever tries to hurt her ship or her crew.

Note from Jana: Debut author Michael Miller is the one answering these questions.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Firefly meets Dune!

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
My absolute favorite scene in the book is when Qole, our seventeen year old starship captain, finds herself very out of her element on a world very different from her own. My co-author actually wrote it, but it’s by turns funny, touching, insightful, and tense. An all around excellent bit of writing.

If you mean that I actually wrote, my absolute favorite scene would be riddle with spoilers. There is a scene earlier in the book where we visit the home planet of Basra, the genderfluid trader on board the Kaitan. It was a chance to introduce a number of characters that feature only briefly, but actually have tremendous back stories. I love that sort of stuff.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
Wow, good question! I vividly remember where I was when I first talked to our agent, because I was in the middle of an on-site with a client and had to duck into an empty conference room. But when the deal was actually closed with Delacorte? Again, at work, but it didn’t feel real until later… so the moment didn’t sink in until clashing beer glasses with my co-author to celebrate.

What’s your favorite junk food?
I love all chips, chips are truly one of the great leaps that humanity has made, but in the pantheon of chips, one chip rules supreme: The Dorito.

Nacho Cheese, specifically.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
My desk is typically my lap, as I’m footloose and fancy free with this laptop of mine. So I can’t answer! At least not in any way that wouldn’t be somewhat surrealist.

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The Debut Dish: Katie Bayerl | Blog Tour (+ Giveaway)

March 21, 2017 Blog Tour, Debut Author Challenge, Debut Dish, Giveaway 5

The Debut Dish: Katie Bayerl | Blog Tour (+ Giveaway)

The Debut Dish, a bi-monthly Debut Author Challenge feature, is where you go for the scoop on some pretty awesome debut authors and their new books! Hopefully these interviews will inspire you to add many, many more books to your to-read list. Because, really, who doesn’t need more books in their lives?

Today’s special edition of The Debut Dish is brought to you by Penguin and their blog tour for Katie Bayerl’s A Psalm for Lost Girls.


A Psalm for Lost Girls by Katie Bayerl
March 14, 2017 from G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

Tess da Costa is a saint — a hand-to-god, miracle-producing saint. At least that’s what the people in her hometown of New Avon, Massachusetts, seem to believe. And when Tess suddenly and tragically passes away, her small city begins feverishly petitioning the Pope to make Tess’s sainthood official. Tess’s mother is ecstatic over the fervor, while her sister Callie, the one who knew Tess best, is disgusted – overcome with the feeling that her sister is being stolen from her all over again.

The fervor for Tess’s sainthood only grows when Ana Langone, a local girl who’s been missing for six months, is found alive at the foot of one of Tess’s shrines. It’s the final straw for Callie.

With the help of Tess’s secret boyfriend Danny, Callie’s determined to prove that Tess was something far more important than a saint; she was her sister, her best friend and a girl in love with a boy. But Callie’s investigation uncovers much more than she bargained for: a hidden diary, old family secrets, and even the disturbing truth behind Ana’s kidnapping.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Sainthood is hella complicated.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
Tough one! I have to go with a flashback, a memory that has stuck with Callie of the night when her sister’s reputation as a saint really began. I won’t give the whole scene away, but Tess hears a mysterious voice that calls her down to the city’s docks before dawn. Callie (ever the loyal sister) goes with Tess to meet the captain of a fishing boat Tess believes is in danger. What happens then is history…

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
I got the heads-up email when I was in my car at the intersection of Columbus Ave and Malcolm X Blvd in Boston (vivid memory! and it was a red light, I swear!)

I was on the Red Line (subway) when the official call came in.

Theme: transportation

What’s your favorite junk food?
Cheese-Its.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
A small stuffed flying pig. (I won a writing contest sponsored by the Flying Pig Bookstore a few years ago.)

When Katie Bayerl isn’t penning stories, she coaches teens and nonprofits to tell theirs. She holds an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts and has taught creative writing in schools and a variety of community settings. Katie has an incurable obsession with saints, bittersweet ballads, and murder. A Psalm for Lost Girls is her first novel.


Two Giveaway Opportunities!

Tour Wide:
Enter for a chance to win one (1) of five (5) copies of A Psalm for Lost Girls by Katie Bayerl (ARV: $17.99 each).

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Enter between 12:00 AM Eastern Time on March 13, 2017 and 12:00 AM on March 27, 2017. Open to residents of the fifty United States and the District of Columbia who are 13 and older. Winners will be selected at random on or about March 29, 2017. Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. Void where prohibited or restricted by law.

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Exclusive to That Artsy Reader Girl:
This giveaway is sponsored by Katie Bayerl, who will be mailing the prize to the winner. Entrants must be 13 years old or older, and must honestly follow the rules for entries. Entrants caught cheating will be eliminated in full from the giveaway. This giveaway is open to residents of the USA and Canada only.

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Zoe Cruz on Flipping the Script on the Traditional Beauty and the Beast | Author Guest Post

March 20, 2017 Guest Post 2

Welcome to my stop along the Beastia blog tour, hosted by Smith Publicity! We’ve all got Beauty and the Beast on the brain right now (I’m going to see it today in theaters!). Plus my A Week of Beauty and the Beast event ended yesterday, so things are all B&B in my neck of the wood it seems.

Beastia author, Zoe Cruz, is here to talk about her Beauty and the Beast retelling. This one is a little different than many other retellings, and I’ll let Zoe tell you why!


Flipping the Script on the Traditional Beauty and the Beast
by Zoe Cruz

Beauty and the Beast has always enchanted me as a reader. I grew up watching the Disney movie, because who hasn’t? Robin McKinely’s retellings really stick out in my mind. Her Rose Daughter and Beauty were some of my favorite books as a kid. She wrote them with such magic and intrigue, changing and adding details or the outcome entirely. I always remember in one of the books, Beauty doesn’t change the Beast. She loves him just as he is.

When I watched Beastly, the movie, several years ago I wasn’t quite satisfied with the modern retelling. I thought it needed something more. The book by Alex Flinn does a much better job providing that, but I wanted something deeper, different. Later, the Lunar Chronicles gave us Scarlet. I know it’s a Red Riding Hood retelling, but what’s cooler than a French girl falling for a genetically modified wolfman from the moon? In the end though, it was the same trope hashed out again.

As a girl from a small town, I’ve watched pretty women settle for guys who weren’t that great looking, so it wasn’t a stretch for me to imagine a girl falling into a relationship with a literal beast.

What was harder for me to imagine was a handsome guy falling for an “ugly” gal in our society and not the pretty-ugly sorts we find in movies. It was a challenge coming up with a contemporary take on a girl being ugly. It seemed easy to make it magical or a temporary curse, but life isn’t always that way.

Sometimes, when we are hurt it becomes internal baggage that we carry or a permanent badge that we wear. Some things don’t just go away. They are permanent. When I think of permanent, I think of scars or burns, but something about tattoos stuck with me, because tattoos are like art. Art can be ugly and beautiful at the same time. That dichotomy tests the boundaries of my perceptions and how biased the standards truly are. When a woman has scarring or a deformity or even a tattoo that we don’t appreciate at first, the more we look at that thing we perceive as ugliness, it can become tragically beautiful, and even just beautiful. Especially as we learn to love the qualities who make them who they are. Rather, those things we once considered bad or ugly only make them more special no matter what it is. Some of the most beautiful people I know have facial markings or unusual features that make them who they are.

That’s what I wanted for Bek, my character in Beastia: a girl with a tragic past that wouldn’t let the world define who she was going to be, because of the way she looked. I wanted her to be able to learn to love herself no matter how she looked on the outside, even if it was permanent. In life, we don’t always get to choose for bad things to disappear. We are the way we were born or something happened to us and we carry that with us. Not everyone is blessed with good looks and what are “good” looks anyway? It’s an unattainable standard and subjective. Every one of us deserves to be loved for who we are and not what we look like, but that journey must start from within.


Beastia by Zoe Cruz
March 14, 2017 from Createspace
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

The meanest of the mean girls, Rebekah Austin rules her Chicago school with sharp outfits and an even sharper tongue. She has a way of making even the most beautiful and brilliant girls in her class feel like dirt. But underneath the queen-bee façade is someone who feels ugly, repulsive…beastly.

When Rebekah falls prey to a madman, the bully becomes the bullied. Scarred and tormented, she abandons her previous life and adopts a new identity, but her ghastly appearance haunts her everywhere she goes. Only with the help of determined friends can she move past her horrifying experience—and maybe even let herself be loved.

And if the madman returns to finish what he started, will she be ready, or will she give up hope?


About Zoe Cruz

I love traveling, writing, reading, and binge watching my favorite shows on Netflix.

I’m a geek too. Anything from classic Tortallan and Hobbit lore to a DS9 Trekkie and a Browncoat. I love any good sci-fi and fantasy book, show or movie.

I’ve lived in Spain for almost four years, so adapting back to U.S. life for now.

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The CW’s Beauty and the Beast (2012) | TV Show Obsession

March 19, 2017 Uncategorized 2

 

Welcome to the last day of A Week of Beauty and Beast, a special blog event hosted by Bonnie at A Backwards Story and me! We thought this would be the perfect time to host an event devoted to one of our favorite fairy tales, seeing as how Disney’s live action Beauty and the Beast came out in theaters on Friday! Woohoo! We’ve really loved sharing our love of this tale as old as time with you, and hope you enjoyed it as much as we did! Make sure you enter to win a Beauty and the Beast themed book of your choice. And if you want to join in on the fun, link up your B&B themed posts so we can come see!


Today I’m moving away from books to talk to you about a TV show I started watching last weekend in honor of A Week of Beauty and the Beast! THIS is the reason I reviewed more children’s books than YA or adult fiction this week. I have seriously not been able to do anything but binge this show. Reading? What is reading?

 

Basically, this show is amazing. I’m almost done with season 2 and that means I’m almost halfway done with the show and I CAN’T DO THIS. I don’t want it to be over! Ok, so here’s the scoop:

Beauty and the Beast is very loosely inspired by CBS’s 1987 show of the same name (which I watched and loved and then hated because of the ending). Catherine is a detective with the NYPD, and Vincent is an ex-soldier who died in Afghanistan. Or did he? NOPE. He was part of a covert government experiment that was supposed to make him a super soldier through injections and cross-species DNA. The experiment went horribly wrong and the side effects (beasting out) caused the scientists to murder Vincent’s entire unit. Vincent survived, and has been in hiding ever since until the pilot episode, when he saves Catherine from being murdered. Nine years later his DNA shows up at a crime scene even though he’s supposed to be dead. Catherine gets put on the case, finds out who Vincent is, and the rest is history. This is an epic love story mixed with conspiracies, assassins, more bad guys, crime solving, and so much more. I’ve been calling it a mash-up of Person of Interest and Angel.

Here’s Vincent:

Vincent is pretty swoony. He’s the good kind of bad guy that is capable of ripping you to pieces but instead, captures your heart. LOVE him!

Here’s Catherine:

I like her! She’s got a past (Vincent might have saved her from being murdered, but he got there seconds too late to save her mom, who died right in front of her.), and she goes through a lot of changes as she learns about that past. She’s also pretty kick butt.

Then you’ve got J.T., Vincent’s best friend from childhood and scientific genius who does what he can to help, and Tess, Catherine’s awesome partner on the force and best friend. I love these two. The other supporting characters are great as well, and I love the humor they bring to the show.

 

SO much happens, and there’s a little something for everyone! Just when you think you know what’s going to happen, it doesn’t. I love this show, and highly recommend it to everyone I can! AND it’s on Netflix so you really have no excuse!

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Gabrielle Prendergast on “X” Meets “Y” Retellings | Author Guest Post

March 19, 2017 Guest Post 3

 

Welcome to the last day of A Week of Beauty and Beast, a special blog event hosted by Bonnie at A Backwards Story and me! We thought this would be the perfect time to host an event devoted to one of our favorite fairy tales, seeing as how Disney’s live action Beauty and the Beast came out in theaters on Friday! Woohoo! We’ve really loved sharing our love of this tale as old as time with you, and hope you enjoyed it as much as we did! Make sure you enter to win a Beauty and the Beast themed book of your choice. And if you want to join in on the fun, link up your B&B themed posts so we can come see!

Today I’m pleased to welcome Gabrielle Prendergast to the blog to talk about her Beauty and the Beast retelling, Zero Repeat Forever.


X Meets Y Retellings by Gabrielle Prendergast

In the book business we have a thing called “comps”. “Comps” is short for comparables, and it refers to what other books (or sometimes movies) that a book under discussion would be compared to. So an author, say, pitching a book to an agent might explain: “It’s got the sweet romance of Stargirl but in a dystopian setting like Divergent” (I would read this!)

Sometimes comps are simply expressed like “It’s ______ meets ______” or “part ______ and part ______”. And this is where this week’s Beauty and the Beast theme comes in because my upcoming young adult sci-fi, Zero Repeat Forever, is frequently described as “Part Terminator and part Beauty and the Beast”. It’s also been described as “The 5th Wave meets Beauty and the Beast”. It is, in many ways, a Beauty and the Beast retelling.

My favorite kinds of fairy tale or traditional story retellings are always ones that have a “X meets Y” premise. And the further X is from Y the better, in my opinion. Only imagine the possibilities! I’d love to read “Cinderella meets Clan of the Cave Bear” for example. A prehistoric prince and his enchanted mystery princess? Are you kidding me? That would be awesome. Or how about “Scheherazade meets High Fidelity” about a plucky Muslim teen who keeps her disgruntled record store boss amused with stories so he doesn’t close down his failing business. (OMG someone please write this).

I could go on and on about this, but I’m at risk of coming up with premises I want to actually write. And I have a deadline on the sequel to Zero Repeat Forever. I need to focus!

What X meets Y retellings would you like to read?


Zero Repeat Forever by Gabrielle Prendergast
August 29, 2017 from Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

He has no voice, or name, only a rank, Eighth. He doesn’t know the details of the mission, only the directives that hum in his mind.

Dart the humans. Leave them where they fall.

His job is to protect his Offside. Let her do the shooting.

Until a human kills her…

Sixteen year-old Raven is at summer camp when the terrifying armored Nahx invade, annihilating entire cities, taking control of the Earth. Isolated in the wilderness, Raven and her friends have only a fragment of instruction from the human resistance.

Shelter in place.

Which seems like good advice at first. Stay put. Await rescue. Raven doesn’t like feeling helpless but what choice does she have?

Then a Nahx kills her boyfriend.

Thrown together in a violent, unfamiliar world, Eighth and Raven should feel only hate and fear. But when Raven is injured, and Eighth deserts his unit, their survival comes to depend on trusting each other…


About Gabrielle Pendergrast

Gabrielle Prendergast is the author of the award-winning and multi-nominated young adult novels in verse, Audacious and Capricious. She lives in Canada with her family. Find her on Twitter at @GabrielleSaraP or her website www.gabrielleprendergast.com.

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A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas | Book Review

March 18, 2017 Book Review, Young Adult 9 ★★★★★

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas | Book ReviewA Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
Series: A Court of Thorns and Roses #1
Published by Bloomsbury on May 5, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Fantasy & Magic, High Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 416
Format: ARC
Source: From the Publisher
Amazon Add to Goodreads
5 Stars
A thrilling, seductive new series from New York Timesbestselling author Sarah J. Maas, blending Beauty and the Beast with faerie lore.

When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.

As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she's been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow grows over the faerie lands, and Feyre must find a way to stop it . . . or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.

Perfect for fans of Kristin Cashore and George R. R. Martin, this first book in a sexy and action-packed new series is impossible to put down!

I don’t even know how to review all the gloriousness that is A Court of Thorns and Roses. This is honestly my favorite book in the universe. I experienced the most vicious book hangover of my life. Seriously. It lasted about a week and a half and I could not even read anything else because I was in mourning.I had to go to Sarah J. Maas herself and have her tell me what to read next because I could not get over her book. No the book is not sad… but it ended. And that’s my only complaint about this book.

Coherent thoughts are not possible. I’m sorry, but they are not. It has been about three weeks since I finished ACOTAR, and all I can do when I think about it is melt into a puddle of swoons and sighs. So I’m going to have to resort to my very unorganized list review style and just blurt out everything I loved.

1. SO MANY FEELS. I will refer to my Goodreads status updates to illustrate my point:

ACOTARProgress
See? This book put me through the ringer, and I was happy to do it.

2. This is my favorite Beauty and the Beast retelling ever. Actually, I loved it more than Beauty and the Beast and THAT is saying something. It was so beautifully done, and there were so many hat tips to the original story.

3. Sarah J. Maas is a genius with words. I can’t believe how perfectly written this book was! Her writing reminds me of those taffy stretching machines. It’s so smooth and flowing and glorious. I just wanted to roll around in it.

4. The world is stupendous and beautiful. Sarah is a master at world building. This is the fairyland beyond your wildest dreams. The descriptions took my breath away. But this land is being taken over by evil, and the quest to defeat this evil kept me flipping pages as fast as I could.

5. There were some VERY sexy moments and I loved them all. The romance is off the charts, and so spellbindingly perfect. I’m in love with this book.

6. I want to be Feyre when I grow up. She’s a super hardcore bad-a, she’s loyal to those she loves, she’s artsy (like me), and she gets Tamlin all to herself.

7. Tamlin is mine. I’ll fight you for him if needs be. He’s a perfect blend of loyalty, protectiveness, chivalry, bravery, nobility, angst, and fierceness. Oh, and the mask he wears that has been permanently affixed to his face by magic makes him super mysterious. I can just picture his piercing eyes. He gets me all fluttery in my chest.

8. Lucien. *swoon* I’m going to be selfish and claim him as well. Picture Rhys as a man with a heart of gold and the ego of Gaston. I adore him.

9. The twists and turns the story took are amazing. SO much happens! Just when you think you can close the book for the night, you’ll be sucked right back in because something huge has happened.

10. There are villains you LOVE to hate and monsters that only live in your nightmares. 

My goodness, I think I need to quit while I’m ahead. I’m amazed I even got any words out because my love for this book is stronger than any combination of words I can string together. I am dying for the second book. I’m pretty much an official Sarah J. Maas fangirl. She can do no wrong. Do yourself a favor and buy this book for yourself and everyone you know.

*This review was originally published on April 8, 2015, and was re-posted in celebration of A Week of Beauty and the Beast.
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Heart’s Blood by Juliet Marillier | Book Review

March 17, 2017 Adult Fiction, Book Review 5 ★★★★★

Heart’s Blood by Juliet Marillier | Book ReviewHeart's Blood by Juliet Marillier
Published by Roc on October 2, 2009
Genres: Fairy Tale, Fantasy, Retelling, Romance
Pages: 402
Format: Hardcover
Source: Gift from Secret Sister
Amazon Add to Goodreads
5 Stars
Whistling Tor is a place of secrets and mystery. Surrounded by a wooded hill, and unknown presences, the crumbling fortress is owned by a chieftain whose name is spoken throughout the district in tones of revulsion and bitterness. A curse lies over Anluan's family and his people; those woods hold a perilous force whose every whisper threatens doom.

For young scribe Caitrin it is a safe haven. This place where nobody else is prepared to go seems exactly what she needs, for Caitrin is fleeing her own demons. As Caitrin comes to know Anluan and his home in more depth she realizes that it is only through her love and determination that the curse can be broken and Anluan and his people set free.

When Bonnie found out that I love Beauty and the Beast, she sent me a beautiful hardcover of Heart’s Blood and told me I MUST read it because it’s an amazing retelling of one of my favorite fairytales. Of course I’d been hearing wonderful things about Juliet Marillier, and how her books are the makings of dreams and happiness and stardust, so I was very excited to dive in! As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. I was hooked from the very beginning because Marillier’s writing is so smooth and lyrical. She also really knows how to set the stage for a story. I loved the atmosphere and mystery she created. Things felt very ominous as well as romantic, and even though the book reads a bit slower that the books I usually love I really found Heart’s Blood to be so captivating and magical.

2. The Tor is a mysterious, mystical place. I loved the descriptions of the castle and the landscape. The Tor is not just home to Anluan and his staff, but also beings who are caught in limbo between life and death–tethered to the Tor by dark magic that nobody understands how to undo. Caitrin is the first glimmer of hope the residents of the Tor have seen in a very long time, and as she works to discover the root of all these secrets some support her efforts and some try to stop her. Who do you trust?

3. I loved all the characters. They are so dynamic and flawed, and really made me feel like they were real. They are all broken in some way: Anuluan, Caitrin, Magnus, Eichri, Rioghan… all of them, and they pick up their pieces together and lean on each other for support. Muirne is creepy, not to mention the spirit child who grows very attached to Caitrin but is also dangerous if she gets mad. I LOVED Fianchu, the huge, lovable, loyal dog that never leaves the side of those he protects. Everyone grows and changes drastically from beginning to end.

4. So. Many Feelings. Throughout the second half of the book the beings that live on the Tor really wiggled their way into my heart. When they suffered, I suffered.

5. The romance was so sweet and my heart broke as I worried what everyone’s fate was going to be.

6. There’s some sad things that happen that I was not prepared for. I was ok, though, and only cried a little so I consider that a win.

Heart’s Blood was my first book by Juliet Marillier, and it will surely not be my last. I love her beautiful writing and her amazing storytelling. I highly recommend this to anyone who loves Beauty and the Beast, unique settings, heartwarming characters, and triumph.

 

 

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Barefoot On the Wind Author Zoë Marriott | Beauty & the Beast Interview Series

March 17, 2017 Author Interview 0

I hope you’re enjoying A Week of Beauty and Beast, a special blog event hosted by Bonnie at A Backwards Story and me! We thought this would be the perfect time to host an event devoted to one of our favorite fairy tales, seeing as how Disney’s live action Beauty and the Beast is coming out in theaters on Friday! Woohoo! We’re excited to share our love of this tale as old as time with you, and hope you enjoy what we have planned! Make sure you enter to win a Beauty and the Beast themed book of your choice. And if you want to join in on the fun, link up your B&B themed posts so we can come see!


Today Bonnie and I are hosting an interview with Zoë Marriott, author Barefoot On the Wind. Barefoot On the Wind is a beautiful retelling of Beauty and the Beast set in Japan. It’s the second book in Zoë’s The Moonlit Lands series, but it can be read as a standalone. As per usual, we’ve split the interview between our two blogs. When you’re done here, head over to A Backwards Story to read the rest!

Author Interview – Zoë Marriott

What inspired you to reinterpret Beauty and the Beast?

Beauty and the Beast is one of my all time favourite fairytales. I read Robin McKinley’s YA classic Beauty at around age eleven, which was same year that I first saw Disney’s version of the story. These wonderful retellings made a massive impression. They’re the reason I started my career as a YA writer with a fairytale retelling of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Wild Swans. I never felt equal to the challenge of writing my own re-telling of Beauty and the Beast, though; it seemed as if the tale had been told so well by others that there was nothing else to say. But one day I pulled out my favourite fairytale read, Robin McKinley’s Beauty, and suddenly it struck me that the Beast, my ideal fictional hero since I was eleven… doesn’t really act like much of a hero at several points in the story.

Because, you see, Beauty and the Beast is supposed to be about true love. About learning to perceive and value inner beauty. Which is great, and all that. BUT. It’s actually the heroine Beauty who is asked to learn this lesson, despite being blameless. She’s the one who’s asked to love a Beast. That seems a bit unfair? Especially when the Beast – the one who is supposed to be learning not to be so cruel and shallow – imprisons her for months at a time with only a single week’s leave, until she finally agrees to marry him. He never has to learn to see beyond Beauty’s outer appearance. She’s already physically lovely. She’s also kind, good and loving, but the Beast doesn’t care about that when he arranges to lock her up. He just wants someone, anyone, to marry him and break the curse.

All these years we’ve been told the story is about true love conquering all. But really, when you get right down to it, it’s about using coercion to get your own way and being rewarded for it. Although Beauty is still my favourite comfort read because Robin McKinley’s writing is so amazing that she makes you forgive the Beast, I felt… disturbed. That was the seed that grew into BAREFOOT ON THE WIND.

Would you rather have The Rose or The Mirror in your Bedroom?

Neither, thanks! Those would both be a sign that I’ve done something very wrong and was living under a curse. I prefer a peaceful sleeping environment.

If you could be a household object, what would you be?

A pen! One that never runs out.

If you were taken by the Beast, what’s one comfort item from home that you’d want?

My ereader! So long as I could keep charging it up and downloading new books, of course.

What song would you want to dance to with the Beast?

I Will Follow You Into the Dark by Death Cab for Cutie. Or A Thousand Years by Christina Perri. Or No One’s Gonna Love You by Band of Horses. Or Brightly by Sleeping At Last. Or Hex, by Mt. Wolf. Or…. well, you get the idea.

If you looked in a magical mirror that would show you your heart’s desire, what would you see?

Harry Potter special. I’d see my father, my lovely dog Finn, and all the other people and pets I’ve loved and had to say goodbye to over the years.

Read the rest of the interview here!

Barefoot On the Wind by Zoë Marriott
September 1, 2016 by Walker Books
Series: The Moonlit Lands #2
Add to Goodreads | Buy from Book Depository (currently not available in the USA)

A companion title to Zoë Marriott’s critically acclaimed Shadows on the Moon, BAREFOOT ON THE WIND is a darkly magical retelling of “Beauty and the Beast” set in fairytale Japan.

There is a monster in the forest…

Everyone in Hana’s remote village on the mountain knows that straying too far into the woods is a death sentence. When Hana’s father goes missing, she is the only one who dares try to save him. Taking up her hunting gear, she goes in search of the beast, determined to kill it – or be killed herself.

But the forest contains more secrets, more magic and more darkness than Hana could ever have imagined. And the beast is not at all what she expects…


About Zoë Marriott

I’ve known that I wanted to be a writer since I finished reading my first book; ‘The Magic Faraway Tree’ by Enid Blyton. I think I was about eight, but I’ve never changed my mind in all the years since then.

I got my first publishing contract when I was twenty-two, but had to wait until I was twenty-four to see that book published (it was The Swan Kingdom).

I live in a little house in a town by the sea, with my two rescued cats, one called Hero after a Shakespearian character and one Echo after a nymph from a Greek myth. I also have a springer/cocker spaniel called Finbar (otherwise known as The Devil Hound). There’s a picture of him on the left.

Author Website | Twitter | Facebook

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Bookish Finds: Beauty and the Beast Merchandise

March 16, 2017 Bookish Finds 2

Bookish Finds

Bookish Finds is a feature here at That Artsy Reader Girl, where I highlight awesome bookish things I come across during my exciting life.

It’s been a long time since I’ve done a Bookish Finds post, but I could not pass this opportunity up when there is SO much awesome Beauty and the Beast merchandise available right now. Enjoy this special edition of Bookish Finds, brought to you by A Week of Beauty and the Beast! I’m including links to either buy or make the items featured here. :)

Magnetic Bookmarks by Bonitismoland

Beauty and the Beast Book Locket by TheLocketLibrary

Beauty and The Beast Inspired Bookmark by IvoryAzalea

Belle’s Book Cafe Mug by NKpdfDesigns

Belle’s Book Emporium Print by MyChildishThings

Beauty and the Beast Stained Glass Print by ambercurio
(You can choose to have the image printed on a dictionary page, sheet music page, etc.)

Belle’s Book Cafe Tote by oandhdesign

Belle Watercolor Print by LaDecorColor

Belle Reading T-shirt by LukreativeDesign

Within Throw Pillow by Evie Seo (this design can go on a ton of different things)

Glass ornament filled with the original French version of Beauty and the Beast by noveladornment

Stained Glass Necklace by LiLSweetumsBowtique

There is SO much stuff out there! I had to finally cut myself off or this post would be extremely long. Which item from this post would you love to have the most?

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The Dragon Prince: A Chinese Beauty & the Beast Tale by Laurence Yep | Children’s Book Review

March 16, 2017 Children's Book Review, Inner Child 5 ★★★★★

The Dragon Prince: A Chinese Beauty & the Beast Tale by Laurence Yep | Children’s Book ReviewThe Dragon Prince: A Chinese Beauty & the Beast Tale by Laurence Yep
Published by HarperCollins on January 9, 1999
Genres: Classic, Fairy Tale, Retelling
Pages: 32
Format: Hardcover
Source: Borrowed from Library
Add to Goodreads
5 Stars
When a poor farmer falls into the clutches of a dragon, only Seven, his youngest daughter, will save him—by marrying the beast.

Publishers Weekly praised "Yep's elegant, carefully crafted storytelling" and Mak's "skillfully and radiantly rendered illustrations" in this captivating and luminous Chinese variation of the beauty and the beast tale.

The Dragon Prince by Laurence Yep is the Chinese version of Beauty and the Beast, and is so rich in culture. Inside the book the author includes his source notes, explaining that this tale is a Southern Chinese version of the classic. He also thanks Truly Shay for helping him translate several tales for him. Immediately, I felt confident that this book would be of very high quality because of the proof of research.

This tale is written in a way that sounds natural when read aloud, and the text is very traditional and stylistically magical. The story includes cultural elements that seem true to the area in which it takes place, including the fact that it’s about a rice farmer and his daughters, a serpent for a beast (that becomes a dragon), the term bride prince is used, and the palace is located in an underwater garden under the ocean’s surface. The story takes an interesting spin, and Seven’s (the Beauty equivalent) sister attempts to drown her and take her place. The prince can tell, though, and searches to find his lost Seven. They live happily ever after.

Elegant silk robes, jade cups, and gold plates are illustrated. The illustrations themselves are reminiscent of Chinese style, with bright colors, Chinese architecture and clothing, and a stylized dragon. The prince speaks of the traditional Chinese custom of brides visiting their families after their wedding.

 

Oh my goodness, I love this version of Beauty and the Beast so much. The Chinese culture, colors, and design influences make it not only entertaining, but a rich, educational, vibrant tale that anyone would love. I highly recommend it to anyone who loves China, Beauty and the Beast, beautiful illustrations, and learning about other cultures!

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