Category: Giveaway

Sleigh Bells in the Snow by Sarah Morgan | Book Review (+The Christmas Sisters Giveaway)

Posted December 12, 2018 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review, Giveaway / 9 Comments

Sleigh Bells in the Snow by Sarah Morgan | Book Review (+The Christmas Sisters Giveaway)Sleigh Bells in the Snow by Sarah Morgan
Series: O'Neil Brothers #1
Also in this series: Suddenly Last Summer, Maybe This Christmas
Published by Harlequin on October 29, 2013
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Contemporary Romance, Holiday - Christmas, Romance
Pages: 384
Format: eARC
Amazon Add to Goodreads
4 Stars
Once upon a time, Christmas was Kayla Green's favorite time of year. Now all the workaholic wants for Christmas is for it to be over—as fast as possible! So when duty calls her to snowy Vermont to close a deal with a new client, Kayla is grateful for an excuse to avoid the holidays for another year.

Jackson O'Neil left a thriving business behind to return home and salvage his family's resort—it's in his blood, and he can't let it fail. Now that he's got marketing whiz Kayla Green working with him to put Snow Crystal on the map, success is on the horizon. The fact they strike enough sparks off each other to power all the Christmas lights in Vermont is just an added bonus.

Kayla might be an expert at her job, but she's out of her depth with Jackson—he makes her crave the happy-ever-after she once dreamed of, and it's terrifying. As the snowflakes continue to swirl, will the woman who doesn't believe in the magic of Christmas finally fall under its spell?

I love Christmas romances, especially if they are set in a picturesque place and have wonderful characters. As soon as I read that Sleigh Bells in the Snow takes place in Vermont, I was very excited! As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. The Snow Crystal is a cozy ski resort nestled in the mountains of Vermont. The O’Neil family has run it for years, and it is a bit of a hidden gem with lots to offer. It has cabins with hot tubs on the porch, amazing views, and a homey lodge with a sitting room and kitchen that just screams holidays. I would LOVE to pack up and move there right now. If any guest wants a Christmas tree for their cabin, one of the O’Neil brothers goes out and chops one and delivers it at their front step. How fun is that?! I really want to visit. The setting was definitely my favorite part of the book.

2. I liked Kayla, but I felt she was a bit too cynical and cold at times. I just wanted to shake her! She has a sad past of abandonment, and does not like Christmas at all. Honestly, though, I’m pretty sure she does not like any kind of family holiday. She arrives at the resort in her designer pumps and pencil skirt, bent on being a complete stick in the mud as she hides in her cabin in the hopes of letting Christmas painlessly pass her by. The longer she stay there, though, the more comfortable she gets. I liked the transformation she went through as she got to know the O’Neil family. She bought some snow boots, let her hair down, and allowed herself to get close to them even though it scared her. I liked this side of her much more than the hardened, emotionless side we see at the beginning of the book.

3. I adore the O’Neil family, and how close they are. Jackson has come back to Snow Crystal after making it big in Europe. He wants to help get the resort on the map and show the world what it has to offer, before it goes under and the family loses it. That’s why he hires Kayla to come out. As he updates and elevates the resort, he is met with a lot of resistance from his family. They are not keen on change, and are scared that a snooty New Yorker will ruin their image. As they soften Kayla, though, she softens them. I loved the conversations between family members, as they all open up and grow closer together. This family ends up being extremely loving despite their high maintenance demands.

4. I really liked the non-family staff members at the Snow Crystal. I particularly liked the spitfire of a French chef and the ski instructor. Each character in this story is unique and loveable.

5. Jackson is so wonderful. He is tender and persistent, and boy can he chop wood. I love his devotion to his family, even though they are fighting him the whole way. I love that he gave up his big life to come home and save his family lodge. I love how sweet he is to Kayla.

6. The romance is slow burning. It begins as a simple professional relationship, with that initial attraction on both sides. It then slides into this love-hate friendship kind of thing before turning into something really special. I really liked that it was not just lust, which seems to happen a lot in the Christmas romances I’ve read before. There are real feelings at play.

Sleigh Bells in the Snow is a fun, cheery Christmas romance with a wonderful family dynamic, a cozy setting, and a swoonworthy male lead. I definitely recommend you read it it you’re in the mood for some Christmas cheer! I can’t wait to read about the other O’Neil brothers, which will happen as the series continues.

(This review was originally posted on 12/6/13 and was re-posted for some extra love.)

Sarah is sponsoring a giveaway for my readers this Christmas, with a signed copy of her newest Christmas release, The Christmas Sisters!

The Christmas Sisters by Sarah Morgan
Published by HQN Books on September 25, 2018
Genres: Adult Fiction — Contemporary, Holiday, Women’s Fiction
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In the snowy Highlands of Scotland, Suzanne McBride is dreaming of the perfect cozy Christmas. Her three adopted daughters are coming home for the holidays and she can’t wait to see them. But tensions are running high…

Workaholic Hannah knows she can’t avoid spending the holidays with her family two years in a row. But it’s not the weight of their expectations that’s panicking her—it’s the life-changing secret she’s hiding. Stay-at-home mom Beth is having a personal crisis. All she wants for Christmas is time to decide if she’s ready to return to work—seeing everyone was supposed to help her stress levels, not increase them! Posy isn’t sure she’s living her best life, but with her parents depending on her, making a change seems risky. But not as risky as falling for gorgeous new neighbor Luke…

As Suzanne’s dreams of the perfect McBride Christmas unravel, she must rely on the magic of the season to bring her daughters together. But will this new togetherness teach the sisters that their close-knit bond is strong enough to withstand anything—including a family Christmas?

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My Favorite Fictional Scrooges | The 12 Days of Holly Chase (+Giveaway)

Posted December 10, 2018 by Jana in Blog Tour, Giveaway / 8 Comments

My Favorite Fictional Scrooges | The 12 Days of Holly Chase (+Giveaway)

I’m so excited to be a part of The 12 Days of Holly Chase blog tour, hosted by Your Book Travels. There’s so much fun happening along this festive blog tour!

My post today is pretty fun. In case you didn’t know, Holly Chase is a major Scrooge. Well, she was before she died. Now her afterlife has frozen her at age 17, and she works as the latest Ghost of Christmas Past. Obviously, this is a super miserable job. In honor of her, I’m going to share with you some of my favorite lovable, grumpy, Scroogey characters in books.

My Favorite Fictional Scrooges

Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Who doesn’t love our grumpy, swoony Mr. Darcy?

Prince Dominic from A Tale of Beauty and Beast by Melanie Cellier
Dominic is really a major jerk in the beginning of this Beauty and the Beast retelling. He’s grumpy and rude and you pretty much hate him… until you don’t.

Haymitch Abernathy from The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
This former victor of the Hunger Games is in a perpetual bad mood and drinks all the time, but he’s actually got a big heart.

Gideon from Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier
Gideon is a snarky, experienced time traveler who is a complete nuisance to Gwyneth… in the beginning.

Callum Cook from Hold Your Breath by Katie Ruggle
This guy is very grumpy, and it’s even more obvious because Lou is so sunshiney!

Finn Dalton from Starry Night by Debbie Macomber
Finn is a grumpy, anti-social mountain man with this dry wit that leaves you feeling insecure and intrigued.

Lucas Blade from Miracle on Fifth Avenue by Sarah Morgan
Lucas is an actual Scrooge. He hates Christmas and is suer grumpy about it! Readers only see his bad side for a little while. He’s a grumpy and stressed author, and he’s downright irritating.

The Afterlife of Holly Chase by Cynthia Hand
Published by HarperTeen on October 24, 2017
Genres: Young Adult Fiction — Christmas, Fantasy, Retelling
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On Christmas Eve five years ago, Holly was visited by three ghosts who showed her how selfish and spoiled she’d become. They tried to convince her to mend her ways.

She didn’t.

And then she died.

Now she’s stuck working for the top-secret company Project Scrooge–as the latest Ghost of Christmas Past.

Every year, they save another miserly grouch. Every year, Holly stays frozen at seventeen while her family and friends go on living without her. So far, Holly’s afterlife has been miserable.

But this year, everything is about to change. . . .

About Cynthia Hand

Cynthia Hand is the New York Times bestselling author of several books for teens, including the UNEARTHLY trilogy, THE LAST TIME WE SAY GOODBYE, MY LADY JANE and MY PLAIN JANE (with fellow authors Brodi Ashton and Jodi Meadows), THE AFTERLIFE OF HOLLY CHASE, and the upcoming novel THE HOW AND THE WHY (Fall 2019). Before turning to writing for young adults, she studied literary fiction and earned both an M.F.A. and a Ph.D. in fiction writing. She currently resides in Boise, Idaho, with a husband who’s addicted to typewriters, two kids, two cats, one crazy dog, and a entourage of imaginary friends. www.cynthiahandbooks.com

Holly-day Prize Pack Giveaway

The winner will receive a signed copy of a Cynthia Hand novel of your choice, a set of red fingerless gloves (knitted by Cynthia), a holiday spice candle, a copy of A Charlie Brown Christmas, two peppermint mocha bath bombs, a peppermint cream and pomegranate raspberry lip balm set, a “make your own ugly sweater kit,” a pair of reindeer glasses, a Christmas mug that reads: “Holi-yays,” Christmas pencils, candy cane Christmas kisses, and a limited edition Holly Chase ornament (signed by Cynthia). Digital MP3 download of The Afterlife of Holly Chase: An Alternate Christmas Carol by Lindsey Hunt.

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Why Christmas Isn’t Always Perfect by Linn B. Halton (aka Lucy Coleman) | Author Guest Post (+ Giveaway)

Posted December 2, 2018 by Jana in Giveaway, Guest Post / 6 Comments

I’ve written three Christmas novels so far – well – four, technically, as I’ve just finished my Christmas 2019 release. And I usually end up writing them during the summer months. So, I think I qualify as a Christmasaholic.

Quite simply, I LOVE Christmas. But that doesn’t mean every single one has been perfect. We had the year that chicken pox meant we had two very poorly children indeed. And the first year after my Dad died. My tears plopped down onto my Christmas dinner plate as I ate, knowing nothing would ever be quite the same again.

As in life, Christmas can’t always be full of laughter and happiness. But having experienced the sad times is precisely why the excited inner-child within me wants to trim up on the first of December. And keep alive the things that have become traditions in our family.

It’s never about the presents, although buying things for the kids is always fun. It’s standing in the kitchen making homemade mince pies, and alternative ones because I hate mincemeat.

And the memories. The year our fully-decorated, six-foot tall blue spruce tree decided to topple over and I rushed to stop it. Painful.

The first year the whole family came to me for Christmas dinner and the duck looked half-raw, so we had cold pork instead. And the year the turkey was attacked by a neighbour’s cat as it sat on the window sill, cooling.

Sitting around the dinner table pulling Christmas crackers and telling silly jokes at the tops of our voices because my partially-deaf uncle forgot to put in his hearing aid.

After attending midnight mass one year it began snowing as we walked home. That was truly magical.

We end up having three Christmas celebrations now, because our family is spread around the UK. I’ve discovered that Christmas isn’t just for the 25th of December. It’s about the spirit of the thing – goodwill to all men and the memories you make. And that comes from your heart, not in a nicely wrapped box. Or a delivery from the supermarket.

I hope everyone has a truly wonderful Christmas. But if this year turns out to be your Christmas from hell, focus on getting through it as best you can. When you come out the other side pick a date and have an alternative celebration. Cheesy Christmas hits and all. Then set your sights firmly on next year!

Snowflakes Over Holly Cove by Lucy Coleman
Published by Aria on September 18, 2018
Genres: Adult Fiction — Christmas, Contemporary, Romance
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The perfect Christmas romance for fans of Karen Swan.

As the snowflakes start to fall, the village of Holly Cove welcomes a new tenant to the beautiful old cottage on the beach…

For lifestyle magazine journaist Tia Armstrong, relationships, as well as Christmas, have lost all their magic. Yet Tia is up against a Christmas deadline for her latest article ‘Love is, actually, all around’…

So Tia heads to Holly Cove where the restorative sea air, and rugged stranger Nic, slowly but surely start mending her broken heart.

Tia didn’t expect a white Christmas, and she certainly never dared dream that all her Chiristmas wishes might just come true…

Set in Caswell Bay on the stunningly rugged Gower Coast, the cottage nestles amid the limestone cliffs and the woodlands; the emotions run as turbulently as the wind-swept sea.

As cosy as a marshmallow-topped cup of cocoa, fall in love with a heart-warming festive story from the bestselling author of The French Adventure.

About Linn B. Halton

From interior designer to author, Linn – who also writes under the pen name of Lucy Coleman – says ‘it’s been a fantastic journey!’

Linn is the bestselling author of more than a dozen novels and is excited to be writing for both Aria Fiction (as Lucy) and Harper Impulse (as Linn); she’s represented by Sara Keane of the Keane Kataria Literary Agency.

When she’s not writing, or spending time with the family, she’s either upcycling furniture or working in the garden.

Linn won the 2013 UK Festival of Romance: Innovation in Romantic Fiction award; her novels have been short-listed in the UK’s Festival of Romance and the eFestival of Words Book Awards.
Living in Coed Duon in the Welsh Valleys with her ‘rock’, Lawrence, and gorgeous Bengal cat Ziggy, she freely admits she’s an eternal romantic.

Linn is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and writes feel-good, uplifting novels about life, love and relationships.

Read a chapter from each of her novels here! | Linn on Twitter | Lucy on Twitter
Facebook | Amazon Author Pages: Linn B. Halton and Lucy Coleman

Giveaway

A surprise Christmas parcel from Linn is up for grabs this month!
The parcel includes a book, a bauble, and chocolates!

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Rachael Lippincott’s Connection to Five Feet Apart | Author Guest Post (+ Giveaway)

Posted November 12, 2018 by Jana in Blog Tour, Giveaway, Guest Post / 7 Comments

I’m pleased to kick off the official Five Feet Apart blog tour with this lovely guest post by author, Rachael Lippincott! I didn’t know that this story was a screenplay before a book, and that a movie is currently in production. That makes things even more interesting. I have a bit of a personal connection to this story, as someone I care about has cystic fibrosis. It’s so nice to get a little background on it, and what inspired its creation before the movie, starring Cole Sprouse and Haley Lu Richardson, hits theaters on March 20, 2019.


Rachael Lippincott’s Connection to Five Feet Apart
by Rachael Lippincott

To put it simply, this book is the product of the hard work of many, many people. From the screenplay itself, written by Mikki Daughtry and Tobias Iaconis, to Claire Wineland’s incredible contributions and spirit, to Justin Baldoni’s work as the director of the movie, to my physical writing of it, all of it had this innate desire to raise awareness about Cystic Fibrosis at the very core.

For me, everything started the day I got the screenplay for Five Feet Apart. I poured over the words, finishing it over the course of an afternoon, the story of Will and Stella leaving me filled with a myriad of emotions, from anger to joy to sadness to longing. When I finished, my computer screen was filled with tabs about Cystic Fibrosis and B. cepacia and medical statistics for the disease.

My inspiration started with the screenplay and grew to so much more than that over the course of that afternoon and the coming weeks and months. It became about the real life Wills and Stellas. People like Claire Wineland, who stare CF in the face and inspire so many others to live a life that they can be proud of. It became about a mom in Des Moines with this superhuman perseverance to raise money for the Cystic Fibrosis foundation so that her daughter and so many other CFers can live to see a cure. It became about people that had never heard about Cystic Fibrosis reading Will and Stella’s story, or watching it on the big screen, and taking the time to open up google and learn about what the disease is.

I am acutely aware every day that this book could have had anyone’s name on the cover next to Mikki and Tobias’s. But I was lucky enough to be able to use my greatest passion, writing, to join a team of people committed to raising awareness about Cystic Fibrosis, and I take that very seriously. I can say earnestly that I will do everything I can to raise awareness for CF and I hope beyond all else that Five Feet Apart helps in some small way to bring about a cure.


Five Feet Apart by Rachael Lippincott
Original screenplay written by Mikki Daughtry and Tobias Iaconis
Published by Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers on November 20, 2018
Genres: Young Adult Fiction — Contemporary, Romance
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Can you love someone you can never touch?

Stella Grant likes to be in control—even though her totally out of control lungs have sent her in and out of the hospital most of her life. At this point, what Stella needs to control most is keeping herself away from anyone or anything that might pass along an infection and jeopardize the possibility of a lung transplant. Six feet apart. No exceptions.

The only thing Will Newman wants to be in control of is getting out of this hospital. He couldn’t care less about his treatments, or a fancy new clinical drug trial. Soon, he’ll turn eighteen and then he’ll be able to unplug all these machines and actually go see the world, not just its hospitals.

Will’s exactly what Stella needs to stay away from. If he so much as breathes on Stella she could lose her spot on the transplant list. Either one of them could die. The only way to stay alive is to stay apart. But suddenly six feet doesn’t feel like safety. It feels like punishment.

What if they could steal back just a little bit of the space their broken lungs have stolen from them? Would five feet apart really be so dangerous if it stops their hearts from breaking too?


About Rachael Lippincott

Rachael Lippincott was born in Philadelphia and raised in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. She holds a BA in English writing from the University of Pittsburgh. She currently resides in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, splitting her time between writing and running a food truck with her partner.

 

The publisher has graciously offered up a copy of Five Feet Apart to a lucky reader of That Artsy Reader Girl!

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Blog Tour Schedule

November 12 – That Artsy Reader Girl

November 13 – Vivacious Bibliophile

November 14 – A Gingerly Review

November 15 – Life of a Simple Reader

November 16 – A Glass of Wine

November 17 – Book is Glee

November 19 – Bumbles and Fairytales

November 20 – Adventures of a Book Junkie

November 21 – Jen Ryland Reviews

November 22 – Joyous Reads

November 23 – Chasing Faerytales

November 24 – Folded Pages Distillery

November 26 – Oh, Hey! Books

November 27 – Book Briefs

November 28 – Novel Knight Book Reviews

November 29 – A Dream within a Dream

November 30 – My Guilty Obsession


Author Interview With C.J. Lyons | The Color of Lies Blog Tour (+Giveaway)

Posted November 5, 2018 by Jana in Author Interview, Blog Tour, Giveaway / 4 Comments

Author Interview With C.J. Lyons | The Color of Lies Blog Tour (+Giveaway)

Welcome to The FFBC’s blog tour of C.J. Lyons’s The Color of Lies! As one of the co-owners of The Fantastic Flying Book Club, I had the exciting privilege of organizing this blog tour (creating the tour banner was especially fun!) and am delighted to be hosting C.J.’s welcome interview here on my blog as well!


Author Interview with C.J. Lyons

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

1. Your bio on your website says you’ve been a storyteller all your life. Can you tell us about one of your earliest stories?

CJ: One of my first memories is when I was two or three, using my mom’s hair curlers as finger puppets to tell stories. But my earliest written story that was read by anyone other than myself was in third or fourth grade when I wrote a serial for our class newspaper.

It was set during the Civil War and featured a blind girl and her horse (a palomino, of course) as she made her way through the wilderness spying for the Union Army. She had a walking staff that she also used for kung fu, thus hitting all the major tropes that would appeal to eight-year-olds…

Thank goodness there are no known copies left in existence!

2. You’ve written multiple books for teens and adults. How is writing YA fiction different than writing adult fiction?

CJ: I love writing YA because I can actually be more honest than with my adult fiction. Adults read for escape but YA readers also want that deep emotional honesty and they hate being coddled or patronized, so I can be blunt and truthful with them, go deep and dark, revealing that there’s a cost to any happy ending. It’s really quite refreshing!

3. Your first career was as a doctor. What skills and knowledge did you bring with you to your writing career?

CJ: Being a writer actually turned out to be a very valuable skill that helped my success as a physician—because I understood the patterns behind storytelling, I was able to allow my patients to tell their own stories without interruptions and translate their words into the facts I needed to help treat them.

In turn, being a physician helped my career as a thriller writer. Although I’m known best for my FBI thrillers, my first published books were medical suspense, set in a Pittsburgh ER. And of course, having first hand medical knowledge is really helpful once you start blowing things up and the bullets begin to fly.

4. What are some of your favorite thrillers?

CJ: Wow, this is so hard! I love anything Lisa Gardner writes—she’s a master of using point of view and setting to bring her characters to life. Of course, there are the classics, like Silence of the Lambs and The Eight. And I also enjoy more quiet psychological suspense that creeps into your soul—I was a huge fan of Sharp Objects before HBO ever heard of it.

5. What do you enjoy doing when you’re not writing?

CJ: I am a avid reader—mainly YA, SF, some fantasy, poetry, and literary fiction. And I love movies, not just watching them for entertainment, but then breaking them down to see what works and what doesn’t. Now that there are so many great long-form TV series like Breaking Bad, The Handmaid’s Tale, etc, I really enjoy delving into that kind of storytelling as well.

I also love hiking—if a trail has waterfalls, I’m so there! And I enjoy traveling, immersing myself in different cultural experiences, although that always ends up being research for future books.

ABOUT THE BOOK

1. Describe your book in five words or less.

CJ: Girl’s life is a lie.

2. What inspired you to write a book about synesthesia?

CJ: As a physician, I’ve long been fascinated by unique medical oddities such as synesthesia. It’s not a disease, but rather the way the brain processes information is mistranslated into other senses. You may see letters as colors or smell words you read.

People with synesthesia experience the world differently, which is not only fascinating, it makes for an intriguing character—especially since we all base our idea of reality on what we see, hear, feel. For people with synesthesia, their reality is already very different than people who don’t have synesthesia, so if we upset that reliance on what is seen, felt, or heard, how do we know what’s real and what isn’t?

Start playing with people’s perception of reality, of their basic, essential truth, and you open up a world of possibilities for a story.

For The Color of Lies, I took that a step farther with the idea of a girl who saw everyone else’s truth … but was blind to her own.

I loved that conflict, the paradox of what we see and believe versus what is real. And how we deny reality, sacrifice it to our dreams by what we choose to believe … It happens every day in the real world. Just look at the epidemic of fake news posing as reality.

What if someone’s entire life was colored by what they wanted to believe instead of what was real? Answering that question led to The Color of Lies.

3. Does Ella see her medical condition as a blessing or a curse?

CJ: At the start of the story, Ella views it as mostly a blessing. Although her synesthesia has isolated her (she can’t bear to be in a crowd) and forced her to be the “adult” taking care of her grandmother and uncle who are more severely impacted by their own forms of synesthesia, it has also given Ella the gift of seeing the truth in people, which she has translated into her art.

By the end of the story, everything has changed—not only how Ella feels about her synesthesia, but also how she feels about the truths it reveals.

4. What’s your favorite quote from The Color of Lies?

CJ: “The world is filled with magic. You just have to look and listen.”

5. What kinds of things did you research while writing this book?

CJ: As a physician, I had access to a lot of research about the causes and types of synesthesia, but those weren’t helpful as I really wanted to learn more about how people experienced it and how it impacted their lives.

Luckily, there are several great books that go into depth about historical people who had synesthesia and there are a lot of YouTube videos with first hand accounts of how people live with it. I also have a friend who sees music as color and light and one who sees letters as colors, so it was great fun listening to their stories.

It’s more common than people realize—twice as common as having red hair (a fact that plays into The Color of Lies). I’m not sure, but I may have a form myself. Ever since I was a kid I could read a recipe and taste it—even if I’d never tasted that recipe or its ingredients before. Or maybe that’s just the over-active imagination of a storyteller at work!


The Color of Lies by C.J. Lyons
Published by BLINK on November 6, 2018
Genres: Young Adult — Contemporary, Mystery, Thriller
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From New York Times and USA Today bestselling author CJ Lyons comes The Color of Lies, a world drenched in color and mystery.

High school senior Ella Cleary has always been good at reading people. Her family has a rare medical condition called synesthesia that scrambles the senses—her Gram Helen sees every sound, and her uncle Joe can literally taste words. Ella’s own synesthesia manifests itself as the ability to see colors that reveal people’s true emotions…until she meets a guy she just can’t read.

Alec is a mystery to Ella, a handsome, enigmatic young journalist who makes her feel normal for the first time in her life. That is, until he reveals the real reason why he sought her out—he wants to learn the truth behind her parents’ deaths, the parents that Ella had always been told died in a fire. Alec turns Ella’s world upside down when he tells her their deaths were definitely not an accident.

After learning her entire life has been a lie, Ella doesn’t know who she can trust or even who she really is. With her adoptive family keeping secrets and the evidence mixing fact and fiction, the only way for Ella to learn the truth about her past is to find a killer.

Perfect for fans of Caroline B. Cooney, Ally Carter, and Jennifer Brown, The Color of Lies blurs the lines between black-and-white facts and the kaleidoscope of reality.


About C.J. Lyons

CJ Lyons has lived most of her life on the edge.

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of over forty novels, former pediatric ER doctor CJ Lyons has lived the life she writes about in her cutting edge Thrillers with Heart.

CJ has been called a “master within the genre” (Pittsburgh Magazine) and her work has been praised as “breathtakingly fast-paced” and “riveting” (Publishers Weekly) with “characters with beating hearts and three dimensions” (Newsday).

She has assisted police and prosecutors with cases involving child abuse, rape, homicide and Munchausen by Proxy. She has worked in numerous trauma centers, on the Navajo reservation, as a crisis counselor, victim advocate, as well as a flight physician for Life Flight and Stat Medevac.

A story-teller all her life, CJ has always created stories about people discovering the courage to make a difference. This led her to coin the term: Thrillers with Heart.

CJ has taught numerous live and online workshops as well as given keynote speeches to audiences around the world, including: The London Book Fair, The Frankfurt Book Fair, Mystery Writers of America’s Sleuthfest, RWA, Romantic Times, Oklahoma Writer Federation,Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers and PennWriters among others. She was also the conference chairperson for the highly successful inaugural ITW ThrillerFest.

Her novels have twice won the International Thriller Writers prestigious Thriller Award, the RT Reviewers’ Choice Award, Golden Gateway, Readers’ Choice Award, the RT Seal of Excellence, and Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery and Suspense.

To learn more about CJ and her writing, check out these interviews with her.

Website | Facebook | Twitter

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Teri Bailey Black’s Experiences As a Debut Author | Girl At the Grave Blog Tour (+ Giveaway)

Posted October 25, 2018 by Jana in Blog Tour, Debut Author Challenge, Debut Dish, Giveaway, Guest Post / 7 Comments

Teri Bailey Black’s Experiences As a Debut Author | Girl At the Grave Blog Tour (+ Giveaway)

Welcome to The FFBC’s blog tour of Teri Bailey Black’s The Girl At the Grave! As one of the co-owners of The Fantastic Flying Book Club, I had the exciting privilege of organizing this blog tour and am delighted to be hosting Teri’s guest post on her experiences as a debut author here on my blog as well!


My Experiences As a Debut Author
by Teri Bailey Black

Two days after my book was released, I received a message from a stranger through social media: “It is 2 am, so I’m not even going to attempt writing my review until tomorrow, but your book is everything! Thank you for writing it and sharing it.”

Messages like that make my heart sing because getting published is a bumpy road with as many twists and turns as a murder mystery.

I’ve been writing stories since I learned to read, but stopped for about ten years after I got married and had four children. My first child was born with severe disabilities, which brought a few extra challenges. Plus, I started a home business that took off and kept me creatively happy. Life was busy! But as my kids hit the teen years, I yearned to write again and started carving out that time.

It took me a while to figure out WHAT I wanted to write. I started out with middle grade fantasy because that’s what I enjoyed reading with my kids. I went to a big SCBWI conference in Los Angeles and submitted my first chapter for a critique with an editor. I sat down with much fear and trembling, and her first words were, “This is amaaazing! How fast can you finish it?” Wow, that was quick and easy. I spent four months finishing the manuscript, sent it to her with confidence—and a month later received a 2-sentence form rejection letter, not personalized at all.

Okay, not so quick and easy.

By then, I’d realized that my writing voice isn’t middle grade action, it’s more atmospheric and young adult. I wrote a young adult fantasy with magic, but by the time it was done, I knew it wasn’t that special—just a practice novel. I sent queries to agents anyway and did receive some personal notes that encouraged me. They liked my writing, but not the story.

Hm. Start again—with what? By then, the market was flooded with some truly amazing YA fantasy and dystopian, so I wanted to try something different. I’ve always loved murder mysteries, so quickly landed on that idea. (At the time, I wasn’t aware of any YA mysteries, but they’ve since become a trend, which makes me happy because I love them!)

GIRL AT THE GRAVE started as an image in my mind of a little girl in the 1800’s with wild curls and dirty feet—an outcast because her mother was hanged for murder. The story started in her childhood, then wandered into her teen years. I added murder and romance. I wrote without much of a plan (typical seat-of-the-pants writing, before I’d figured out good plotting techniques.) That first draft took a year, writing occasionally.

I sent out queries and received several requests for the full, followed by rejections with praise for my writing voice but problems with the plot. One agent asked me to revise and resubmit, with a suggestion to make it either a full children’s story or a full YA story. Seemed so obvious, suddenly.

I set the story aside for six months while I read some books on plotting—wishing I’d done that earlier. Who knew there was so much to writing? (Everyone except me, apparently.) I carefully restructured the whole story, then rewrote it. This time, I saw clearly what the story needed to be.

That third version was the ticket to publication. Quite a few agents requested the full. Barbara Poelle read it and called quickly (no surprise if you know Barbara), which led to a stressful weekend as I emailed the other agents and they all scrambled for a chance. But I knew I wanted Barbara. A month or so later, she sold it to Tor Teen in a 2-book deal. Exciting!

Until . . . three months later, I received my revision notes from my editor. Her sharp, professional eyes had spotted a problem at the core of the story that would require changing almost every thought, word, and action from the main character. I completely agreed with her; that wasn’t the sticking point. But UGH! I couldn’t imagine rewriting it yet AGAIN. I flailed around for a few days, then took a deep breath and said YES I CAN DO THIS. She wanted the revision in 3 weeks. I said impossible. She then gave me six weeks, and I ended up taking 8 weeks. As the deadline loomed, there were some all-night writing sessions. I pushed the send button and collapsed.

Now, when I read reviews praising the book’s plot, it makes me giggle a little. It wasn’t easy, but I did get there in the end.

Thank goodness those first few books didn’t sell. Yes, really. I needed that practice to learn the craft, because once you hit the book deal, strong writing skills are required to revise quickly and meet deadlines. (Well, I didn’t revise QUICKLY, but more quickly than I could have a year earlier.)

I’m happy to say that my next book is coming together in a much easier fashion. Another murder mystery with dead bodies, romance, and a setting that makes me clap my hands with excitement. Can’t wait to share it with the world!


Girl At the Grave by Teri Bailey Black
Published by Tor Teen on August 7, 2018
Genres: Young Adult — Historical, Mystery, Romance
Add to Goodreads • Amazon • B&N • Book Depository

Valentine has spent years trying to outrun her mother’s legacy. But small towns have long memories, and when a new string of murders occurs, all signs point to the daughter of a murderer.

Only one person believes Valentine is innocent—Rowan Blackshaw, the son of the man her mother killed all those years ago. Valentine vows to find the real killer, but when she finally uncovers the horrifying truth, she must choose to face her own dark secrets, even if it means losing Rowan in the end.


About Teri Bailey Black

Teri Bailey Black grew up near the beach in southern California in a large, quirky family with no television or junk food, but an abundance of books and art supplies. She’s happiest when she’s creating things, whether it’s with words, fabric, or digging in the garden. She makes an amazing chocolate cherry cake—frequently. She and her husband have four children and live in Orange County, California.

Author Website | Twitter | Instagram

 


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Author Interview With Emily Suvada | This Cruel Design Blog Tour (+ Giveaway)

Posted October 22, 2018 by Jana in Author Interview, Blog Tour, Giveaway / 3 Comments

Author Interview With Emily Suvada | This Cruel Design Blog Tour (+ Giveaway)

Welcome to The FFBC’s blog tour of Emily Suvada’s This Cruel Design! As one of the co-owners of The Fantastic Flying Book Club, I had the exciting privilege of organizing this blog tour and am delighted to be hosting Emily’s welcome interview here on my blog as well!


Author Interview With Emily Suvada

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

1. Your bio says you’re very passionate about STEM subjects. How have your books allowed you to share that passion with your readers?

I’m definitely passionate about STEM subjects. I studied math and science at university and while I don’t work in those fields today, I still read about science constantly and work hard to keep up-to-date with new advancements in those fields. Personally, I think science is exciting, fast-moving, creative, and holds a lot of ways to express yourself. That’s something I wanted to incorporate into my books by using science as a foundation for my world-building as well as a core interest for many of my characters. A lot of books showcase fairly recognizable scientific characters—the cold, clinical and logical person in a lab coat. I definitely have a character like that in my book, but I’ve also got the ambitious, headstrong and reckless scientist in there, as well as the curious, contemplative, idealistic scientist, and even the ground-breaking, unrestrained, and wildly creative scientist, too. There’s so much more to STEM subjects than charts and lab coats – there’s philosophy, ethics, and adventure, and I wanted to showcase all these sides of science through the plot, characters, and world of the Mortal Coil series.

2. When did you decide you wanted to be a writer?

I’ve been writing since I was a little kid. I remember crafting complicated stories about pirates and lush tropical islands in grade school, and being proud when the teacher read one aloud to the class. I’ve always been a voracious reader – I lived right near my town’s library and went there almost every day – and I think that love of books naturally translated into a desire to write them myself. I tried writing short stories and had a few failed starts at tackling a novel while I was at university, but I didn’t really know what genre I wanted to write in. I was trying to craft literary stories but my heart had always been in scifi. It wasn’t until I read Twilight that I truly fell in love with the YA genre and realized it was where I wanted to be. From there, I found my way back to science fiction and discovered a love of thrillers, and This Mortal Coil was the result of merging those three interests – YA, scifi, and thrillers.

3. What have you learned about writing/yourself since your debut?

What a great question! I think the biggest thing I’ve learned since publishing my debut is that I love being an author. Before you’re published, it’s easy to think of being an author as just someone who writes books which magically appear on shelves, and who spends their days inside crafting sentences and characters. That’s definitely part of the job, and it’s a part that I love, but I also really like interacting with readers, I like promoting my books, and I like strategizing about the business aspects of publishing. I love every facet of the role of being an author – and I’ve learned that this truly is what I want to do for the rest of my life!

4. What are some of the best books you’ve read so far this year?

This year has been a great one for books! I read Laini Taylor’s STRANGE THE DREAMER early in the year and was absolutely spellbound and awestruck by it. I’ve got MUSE OF NIGHTMARES and am dying to get into it, too. I also tore my way through the SHADES OF MAGIC series by V.E. Schwab this year, having come to it a little late. I absolutely loved it, and wish desperately there was more of them to read! I’ve also loved a couple of debuts that are coming out next year – WILDER GIRLS by Rory Power and THE LUMINOUS DEAD by Caitlin Starling. Both books totally gripped me – they’re beautifully written and I can’t wait to see them out in the world.

5. What do you enjoy doing when you’re not writing?

I really like gardening, cooking, and crafts – anything I can do with my hands and create something I can look at and enjoy. I’m fairly active, and try to go for a run or a bike ride a few of times a week, though sometimes I just want to snuggle on the couch with a good book. My husband and I play video games together, too. Right now we’re playing one of the Divinity RPGs and I’m obsessed with crafting :D

ABOUT THE BOOK

1. Describe your book in five words or less.

Fast, twisty, scientific, bold, and exciting. (I’m not counting ‘and’. You can’t make me!)

2. Pitch this series to those who haven’t read This Mortal Coil yet!

If you liked the science and action in Jurassic Park, or the pace and apocalyptic imagery of Mad Max, or if you like the sound of a story about a gene-hacker trying to saving the world from a virus that detonates its victims into plumes of infectious mist, then you should check out This Mortal Coil!

3. The heroine, Cat, is a gene-hacker. What inspired you to write about a character with this unique skill?

I’m so interested in genetics, and genetic engineering. I keep up-to-date with advancements in these fields, and some of the emerging technology is truly groundbreaking. While I think we’re a long way from hacking our DNA on-the-fly, we’re definitely not far from hacking our own genes – in fact people are already trying it in their own homes. As with any emerging tech, I think researchers and corporations are going to do most of the groundbreaking work, but people have a vested interest in their own health and many people are happy to try a supplement or strange treatment if it’s going to give them a shot at being healthier. If you take this adventurous spirit with regards to medicine and combine it with easy access to genetic engineering, I don’t think it’s too outlandish to imagine a world where people are pursuing genetic alterations like we see in This Mortal Coil. Since I expect that we’re going to end up relying on algorithms to edit our DNA, it seemed sensible to combine coding and genetics, and then I created a character with a love of both fields, and Cat was born.

4. What’s your favorite quote from This Cruel Design?

I have two. One quote comes from a point in the story where Cat has been pushed to a limit inside herself and finds a strength there she’s been searching for:

There is not one of me—I am no single voice in the darkness. I am a chorus. A symphony of code and violence, driving a knife into each of their hearts.

The other of my favorite quotes is the last line from Chapter 26, just because I think it’s badass :D

5. Is there a message you hope readers pull from the story?

With the entire series, what I’m hoping for is that readers will be faced with difficult questions that there is no easy answer to. That’s because I don’t think there really are any easy answers when it comes to scientific ethics and development. What’s more important than the answers is the eagerness to consider multiple viewpoints, and to try to keep learning and thinking, and contemplating. Today’s young readers are tomorrow’s scientists, and I hope they come away from these books a little more excited about science, about coding and STEM topics, but also with an understanding that these subjects are likely to radically change the world in the next hundred years, and they will be the ones who determine if it changes for the better, or for the worse.


This Cruel Design by Emily Suvada
Series: This Mortal Coil #2
Published by Simon Pulse on October 30, 2018
Genres: Young Adult — Science Fiction, Dystopia
Add to Goodreads • Amazon • B&N • Book Depository

Cat thought the Hydra epidemic was over, but when new cases pop up, Cat must team up with an enemy to fix the vaccine before the virus spirals out of control in this thrilling sequel to This Mortal Coil, which New York Times bestselling author Amie Kaufman says “redefines ‘unputdownable.’”

The nightmare of the outbreak is finally over, but Cat’s fight has only just begun.

Exhausted, wounded, and reeling from revelations that have shaken her to her core, Cat is at a breaking point. Camped in the woods with Cole and Leoben, she’s working day and night, desperate to find a way to stop Lachlan’s plan to reprogram humanity. But she’s failing—Cat can’t even control her newly regrown panel, and try as she might to ignore them, she keeps seeing glitching visions from her past everywhere she turns.

When news arrives that the Hydra virus might not be as dead as they’d thought, the group is pushed into an uneasy alliance with Cartaxus to hunt down Lachlan and fix the vaccine. Their search takes them to Entropia, a city of genehackers hidden deep in the desert that could also hold the answers about Cat’s past that she’s been searching for.

But when confronted with lies and betrayals, Cat is forced to question everything she knows and everyone she trusts. And while Lachlan is always two steps ahead, the biggest threat to Cat may be the secrets buried in her own mind.


About Emily Suvada

Emily Suvada was born and raised in Australia, where she went on to study mathematics and astrophysics. She previously worked as a data scientist, and still spends hours writing algorithms to perform tasks which would only take minutes to complete on her own. When not writing, she can be found hiking, cycling, and conducting chemistry experiments in her kitchen. She currently lives in Portland, OR, with her husband.

Author Website | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest | Twitter

 

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Author Interview with Jessica Brody | The Geography of Lost Things Blog Tour (+Giveaway)

Posted October 1, 2018 by Jana in Author Interview, Blog Tour, Giveaway / 4 Comments

Author Interview with Jessica Brody | The Geography of Lost Things Blog Tour (+Giveaway)

Welcome to The FFBC’s blog tour of Jessica Brody’s The Geography of Lost Things! As one of the brand new co-owners of The Fantastic Flying Book Club, I had the exciting privilege of organizing this blog tour (creating the tour banner was especially fun!) and am delighted to be hosting Jessica’s welcome interview here on my blog as well!


Author Interview with Jessica Brody

Jana: Hi Jessica! I’m so excited to welcome you to my blog today to kick-start the The Geography of Lost Things blog tour!

Jessica: Thanks for hosting me on the tour! It’s been a blast!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

1. Your bio says you knew you wanted to be a writer from a very young age. What advice would you like to give younger Jessica about life as an author?

Haha. I think I would tell her that inspiration is not a daily occurrence. So many young writers (myself included!) believe that writing is a magical job where you wake up every day feeling inspired and motivated to write. Not. So. Most of my life as a writer is forcing myself to sit down and write even when I’m not inspired. Inspiration is great when it comes but you can’t always rely on it or you’ll never finish anything. I like to say, “Inspiration gets you started. Discipline gets you finished.” So, heed my advice, 7-year-old Jessica! Your writing life isn’t going to be as easy and carefree as it was when you wrote “The Puppy and the Kitty.”

2. You’ve written books in multiple genres, spanning middle grade, young adult, and adult fiction. Which genre(s) is/are the most fun for you to write?

I always say my favorite genre to write is the genre I’m not currently writing. LOL! It’s a classic case of the grass is always greener. When I’m writing a complicated sci-fi epic with futuristic weapons and life or death battles, all I want to do is write a nice, cozy contemporary romance. When I’m writing a nice, cozy, contemporary romance with all sorts of complicated feelings and emotional stakes, all I want to do is write a fun, middle grade comedy where the characters are too young to feel those complicated teen emotions. And round and round it goes! Every story in every genre has its own set of challenges.

3. Which of your books do you see the most of yourself in?

I find a little of myself in all of my novels. I think my characters and I end up sharing a lot of the same fears, insecurities, and shortcomings. For instance, all of my characters, in some way, experience a life lesson of “acceptance.” Accepting things you can’t change, accepting things you have little control over, accepting that sometimes things happen differently than you expected them to. It’s not a coincidence. I’m dealing with that “life lesson” every single day.

4. What’s been your favorite read so far this year?

OOH! The toughest question of them all! I’ll have to go with The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon. It’s been on my TBR list for years and I finally got around to it this summer. It’s just magnificent. Beautiful, poetic, charming, uplifting. The kind of book that makes you want to run around hugging strangers. (Just me? Okay, moving on.)

5. What are you up to when you’re not writing?

Mostly, hanging out with my doggies. I have three dogs at home—a golden retriever, a great pyrenees, and a chihuahua—and they are my life. I try to spend as much time with them as I can because I always feel like I’m neglecting them when I’m neck deep in a manuscript.

ABOUT THE BOOK

1. Describe your book in 5 words or less.

Road trip with an ex.

Yikes!

2. What’s your most prized possession?

Each and every one of my books. I’m so proud of all 17 of them! Yes, they’re all different and some gave me more grief than others but I still love them equally. I’ve heard some authors describe their books as their “babies” and it really is true. With every single one you feel like you birthed something into the world.

3. Do you collect any seemingly insignificant objects?

Coffee mugs! I buy one for every book I write and it becomes my “scared totem” for that book. Which is just like me, to have a sacred totem that is completely functional. Because, hey, I need to drink my coffee out of something!

4. What do you hope readers take away from your book?

That not everything is what it seems. People can surprise you. And rarely do you ever know or understand the full story. In short, don’t be so quick to judge. When you let people in, they can surprise the crap out of you.

5. Do you have any fun road trip experiences of your own that you’d like to share?

Fun? Well, this one might be a little more scary, but it ends well. One summer, my mom and I were driving my car home from college on the east coast, and we ran out of gas in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the night. There was no cell phone reception so we couldn’t call for help. We were completely stranded. Soon, a massive 18-wheeler truck pulled up behind us and a man got out. I could tell my mom was terrified but trying to hold it together for me. The driver asked if we needed help. When we told him we’d run out of gas, he offered to drive us to the nearest gas station to get gas. My mom, being the amazing super woman that she is, said very politely and kindly, “I very much appreciate the offer that but I honestly wouldn’t feel comfortable getting in the car with someone I don’t know.”

The guy could have easily left us stranded. But he didn’t. He smiled and said, “I totally get it. I have sisters and I wouldn’t want them getting into a truck with a strange man either. I’ll go get the gas for you.” He drove off and we were pretty convinced he wasn’t coming back. But then, 30 minutes alter, he pulled up behind us again. This time, he had a gas can full of gas for us. Funny, how I’ve been writing about the “kindness of strangers” for most of my adult life.


The Geography of Lost Things by Jessica Brody
Published by Simon Pulse on October 2, 2018
Genres: Young Adult — Contemporary, Romance
Add to Goodreads • Amazon • B&N • Book Depository

In this romantic road trip story perfect for fans of Sarah Dessen and Morgan Matson, a teen girl discovers the value of ordinary objects while learning to forgive her absent father.

After Ali’s father passes away, he leaves his one and only prized possession—a 1968 Firebird convertible—to his daughter. But Ali doesn’t plan on keeping it. Not when it reminds her too much of all her father’s unfulfilled promises. So when she finds a buyer three hundred miles up the Pacific coast willing to pay enough money for the car to save her childhood home, Ali can’t wait to get going. Except Ali has no idea how to drive a stick shift. But guess who does?

Ali’s ex-boyfriend, Nico. And Nico has other plans.

He persuades Ali that instead of selling the car, they should “trade up” the items they collect on their trip to eventually reach the monetary amount Ali needs. Agreeing with Nico’s crazy plan, Ali sets off on a unique adventure that is unlike anything she ever could have expected.

And it’s through Ali’s travels, through the strangers she meets and the things that they value—and why they value them—that Ali eventually comes to understand her father and how his life may not have been as easy and carefree as she previously thought. Because just like the seemingly insignificant objects Ali collects, not everything is exactly as it appears.


About Jessica Brody

Jessica Brody knew from a young age that she wanted to be a writer. She started self “publishing” her own books when she was seven years old, binding the pages together with cardboard, wallpaper samples, and electrical tape.

After graduating from Smith College in 2001 where she double majored in Economics and French and minored in Japanese, Jessica later went on to work for MGM Studios as a Manager of Acquisitions and Business Development. In May of 2005, Jessica quit her job to follow her dream of becoming a published author.

Since then, Jessica has sold over fifteen novels for teens, tweens, and adults…

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Tumblr | Instagram | YouTube

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Author Interview With Mila Young | Apollo Is Mine Blog Tour (+ Giveaway)

Posted September 26, 2018 by Jana in Author Interview, Blog Tour, Giveaway / 1 Comment

Author Interview With Mila Young | Apollo Is Mine Blog Tour (+ Giveaway)

Welcome to my stop along the blog tour for Mila Young’s Apollo Is Mine (book #1 in the Harem of the Gods series), hosted by Rockstar Book Tours! Pardon the late arrival of this post. We had a gmail mishap, and I only just received Mila’s interview today.

I’m excited to have Mila stop by the blog today and participate in this month’s Magic, Myth, & Mischief interview series!


Interview With Mila Young

What makes your book magical, mythical, and/or mischievous?
A reviewer recently described Apollo Is Mine as Shadowhunter meets sexy Greek gods with lots of steam! Elyse, the heroine comes from a long lineage of hunters who have been blessed by Zeus to fight mythical creatures that come to Earth to kill humans. They are the last line of defense, except Elyse is the last of her kind, and even supernatural abilities may not be enough when Hades arrives in town with Death right on his heels.

What magical power do you wish you had?
To control water… imagine all the good I could do on Earth :)

If you were a character in a fairy tale/myth, who would you be?
Ariel from Little Mermaid… I grew up loving this fairy tale and have wanted to be a mermaid for ever!! Haha

If you could live in any fairytale or mythical world, which one would you choose to live in and why?
Harry Potter world… of course :P

Dragons or unicorns?
Unicorns!!

Hans Christian Andersen, Grimms Brothers, or Disney?
Grimms Brothers… I grew up being told these kind of tales, hence my twisted imagination when it comes to tales :)

Which magical/mythical creatures do you love reading about in books?
Werewolves. Don’t know why but I watch everything and anything on them I can get my hands on .

What recipe would you use to create your own gingerbread house?
No idea if it would work, but I would love to make a gingerbread house out of snickerdoodles… drool!

Who are your favorite villains of lore?
Ursula

Would you rather be a hero or a villain?
Villain

Would you rather be locked up in a tower or a dungeon?
Tower

What elements of the (fairy tale/myth/retelling) did you use when incorporating the tale into your own novel?
I have written my own spin on Red Riding Hood, Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, Little Mermaid and Rapunzel :) They can be found here.

Which magical/mythical creatures exist in your books?
Oh I definitely have lots… from werewolves, to lion and dragon shifters, to gargoyles and genies, to Greek gods and death casters.


Apollo Is Mine by Mila Young
Series: Harem of The Gods #1
Self-published on September 18, 2018
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I’m a warrior. Cursed to fight monsters. Sworn to act as Zeus’ sword to protect mankind.

But I’d give it all up for one last kiss with the god who stole my heart…Apollo.

I never wanted to carry my family’s legacy. But blood ties cannot be broken, and I’ll keep the promise I made my father on his dying bed. Legendary monsters hunt in city streets of Chicago, and my job was to take down the worst.

I’ve trained with Heracles.

Been blessed with super human powers.

What I’ve never done is fallen in love—until Apollo crossed my path. But he isn’t the only god to catch my attention. Hades is here too, and with him comes a darkness that leaves behind a trail of human bodies. Heracles and my gut instinct urges me to destroy this creature, but each step brings me closer to the truth…

Darkness cannot win…or the Earth will tumble into chaos and I’ll lose the god I’ve come to love…Apollo is mine.

Apollo is Mine is book 1 in the Harem of the Gods reverse harem series.

Content Warning: Steamy love scenes, dominating alphas who protect their female, and plenty of sexy Greek gods who will leave you breathless.


About Mila Young

Bestselling Author, Mila Young tackles everything with the zeal and bravado of the fairytale heroes she grew up reading about. She slays monsters, real and imaginary, like there’s no tomorrow.

By day she rocks a keyboard as a marketing extraordinaire. At night she battles with her might pen-sword, creating fairytale retellings, and sexy ever after tales. In her spare time, she loves pretending she’s a mighty warrior, walks on the beach with her dogs, cuddling up with her cats, and devouring every fantasy tale she can get her pinkies on.

Mila’s Newsletter | Website | Twitter | Facebook | Facebook Group

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Author Interview with Kerri Maniscalco | Escaping From Houdini Blog Tour (+ Giveaway)

Posted September 12, 2018 by Jana in Author Interview, Blog Tour, Giveaway / 9 Comments

Author Interview with Kerri Maniscalco | Escaping From Houdini Blog Tour (+ Giveaway)

Welcome to The FFBC’s blog tour of Kerri Maniscalco’s Escaping from Houdini! As one of the brand new co-owners of The Fantastic Flying Book Club, I had the exciting privilege of organizing this blog tour (creating the tour banner was especially fun!) and am delighted to be hosting Kerri’s welcome interview here on my blog as well! This book has been my #1 anticipated release of 2018, and for very good reason. Pretty sure you’re going to love it!


Author Interview with Kerri Maniscalco

Jana: Hi Kerri! I hosted an interview with you on SJtR back in 2016 as part of the Debut Author Challenge I host, and I’m super excited to talk to you again! As the biggest fangirl ever in life for the Stalking Jack the Ripper series, I’m so excited to talk to you about Escaping from Houdini and the rest of the series!

Kerri: Hi Jana, I remember! Thank you for continuing to support the series, it means the world to me!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

1. When did it dawn on you that you wanted to be a writer?
Writing is always something I’ve done for fun, but I never really thought about doing it professionally until around 2009. When I was little I’d make scripts for my Playskool farm animals—I’d give the cows a backstory as to why they were on the pillow/field and the family dynamics of the farmers. (And then I’d make my poor dad take videos so I could watch it back and see what parts needed improving…I was a weird kid ;)

2. How many unpublished and half-finished books have you written?
Oh gosh, I think there’s like seven or eight full novels that I trunked before selling SJTR. Fun fact: I rewrote some scenes, but used a good portion of a trunked book in HUNTING PRINCE DRACULA.

3. Who is in more control of your writing: you or your characters? Why?
I think it’s a little of both. Before I sit down to write, I always like to know who my characters are as people, what their interests are, what secrets people would be surprised to learn about them. From there I give myself a loose outline of where I’d like them to end up, but they usually surprise me with how they get there.

4. Which takes you longer: researching the subject matter of your books or writing your books?
Research! First drafts are always the hardest for me because I can’t just sit down and write everything out. I spend a lot of time stopping to look up some tiny detail and it can take upwards of two or three hours to find something that literally is like a sentence long. It’s hard to switch back and forth from creative to mechanical in those early stages, but I am ALL about revisions.

5. What have you learned about writing since your debut, Stalking Jack the Ripper? What have you learned about yourself?
I’ve learned to be much less structured in some ways and to think outside the box. Since I’d written so many novels before SJTR, I thought I had my method down. Cue writing to a deadline and everything I thought I knew about how to draft a book went flying out the window. It really is a MUCH different experience. Once I figured out that I could write however I needed to in order to finish that first draft, things went much easier and I was SO much less stressed about it.

6. What’s been your favorite experience with a fan of you/your books?
Oh gosh, I have been SO blown away by the huge response from readers. So many people connect with Audrey Rose and her determination to live her life as authentically as possible. One of my favorite things though has been from a teacher who reached out to me. A student in his class dreamed of being a forensic pathologist and was getting made fun of by classmates. He handed her SJTR and said she felt vindicated in pursuing her dreams.

7. As an author, what would you say has been the best compliment you’ve received?Honestly, any time someone tells me they connect with any of my characters is such a huge compliment. As a reader, getting lost in a story is so huge for me, and to have my own readers say they were transported from any hard times in their life? I get teary just thinking about it!

8. Tell us about an early reading experience of yours, when you really fell in love with books.
My grandmother used to read to my mom while she was pregnant with her, and people would make fun of her and say the baby couldn’t hear her. Well, my mother is a HUGE reader. Both her and my dad would take me and my sister on weekly trips to local independent bookstores, or to the library. My entire childhood is filled with memories of hunting down the most magical book and staying up way too late to finish it.

9. What’s been your favorite read so far this year?
This is a trick question, right??? I loved LEGENDARY by Stephanie Garber. I also adored ENCHANTEE by Gita Trelease. GIRLS OF PAPER AND FIRE by Natasha Ngan. GIRL AT THE GRAVE by Teri Bailey Black. THE WICKED KING by Holly Black. I could go on…

10. What are you up to when you’re not writing?
I’m either reading or cooking! I absolutely love being creative in the kitchen and would have probably ended up doing something in the restaurant business if the writing thing didn’t work out.

ABOUT THE BOOK/SERIES

1. Why Houdini?
Originally I’d planned on having this story be about Tesla, but, alas, there’s a movie out that features him and a Victorian circus. I started researching Houdini and thought he was a MUCH better fit and the rest is history!

2. I love that Escaping from Houdini takes place aboard an ocean liner. Tell us about it! What about this setting is special?
Having a closed setting is something I’ve always been interested in writing, though it’s always been slightly terrifying too. I think that I really enjoyed the challenge of having this confined space, though. Everything felt claustrophobic and the idea of a murderer running wild on a cruise ship gives me chills. I’m always looking for new ways of including tension in my books, and this was too fun to pass up.

3. Is there a particular scene in this book that you’re excited for your readers to experience?
The opening sequence is pretty fun. But I also really like the other carnival acts and performances. I’m probably most excited for readers to see the ship transform each night to reflect whichever act is on stage. I really enjoyed imagining this extravagant dinner show being juxtaposed by murder.

4. Do you have a favorite quote from this book?
I had a really great time with Mephistopheles’s character and most of his lines. Regardless of the havoc he tries to cause, his dialogue was always so much fun to write. I think when he says, “So, I inquire once more, which will you lose before the week is through? Your heart? Your head? Perhaps,” he drawled, face cast in shadows as the chandeliers dimmed slowly before winking out, “you will lose your life, your very soul, to this magical traveling show.” It captures everything I’d tried to infuse into this book and more.

5. Audrey and Thomas are perfection. How did you dream up this dynamic duo?Initially I’d been interested in doing a VERY loose retelling of Sherlock and Watson. Except I wanted my Dr. Watson to be a young woman struggling to find her way in a world run by men. I decided to scrap that and continued with my own characters and their own struggles, but some traits from their original inspiration remained. One of my favorite things is watching two characters banter—and that “will they, won’t they” vibe slays me.

6. Thomas is a swoony dreamboat. Is he inspired by anyone you know?
Haha I get asked this question a lot, and while I’m sure there are plenty of Thomas Cresswell’s out there in real life, this one lives strictly in my imagination. (I don’t like mixing my personal life or relationships/friendships into my work, just in case someone finds my portrayal of them less than flattering. It would make for awkward dinner chats.)

7. If you could tag along on any of the murder cases across the series so far, which one would it be?
This is hard! There’s aspects of each one that I’d love to be a part of. Being on the ground during the Ripper murders would have been something. But…being in Dracula’s castle while studying potential vampire attacks would also be fun. I’m scared of cruises, though I like boats, but I’d probably want to see the performances of the Moonlight Carnival. Plus, since Audrey Rose has got Thomas, that leaves Mephistopheles up for grabs ;)

8. If you could spend a day with one character from your book, who would it be? What would you do together?
Thomas would be either super fun or super annoying to hang out with, depending on which version of him showed up. I’d love to spend time in Mephistopheles’s workshop, watching him engineer some of the more elaborate carnival acts. But I’d definitely choose Audrey Rose over everyone. I’d love to go have high tea and talk about forensics and anything else that we felt like.

9. Is there anything you can share with us about the 4th and final book in the Stalking Jack the Ripper series?
I’m being VERY tight-lipped about this book, but readers can expect murder, mystery, romance, betrayal (intentional or accidental), and a story that ties everything—from the novella + bonus content to the main books—together into one, satisfying conclusion. The title and cover will probably be revealed in the early part of the new year, and I am VERY excited to share more soon!

10. Do you already have a plan for what you’ll be doing next after this series is complete?
I always have several ideas going at once, and there’s a few that I’d love to explore more of. Two or three would be within the SJTR universe, (different standalones) but there are also other stories I’d really like to tell outside of this world too. I’d started one right before SJTR sold, and I keep eyeing it up, waiting for the perfect time to dive back into that dark, fantasy world.


Escaping from Houdini by Kerri Maniscalco
Series: Stalking Jack the Ripper #3
Published by Jimmy Patterson on September 18, 2018
Genres: Young Adult — Historical Fiction, Mystery
Add to Goodreads • Amazon • B&N • Book Depository

In this third installment in the #1 bestselling Stalking Jack the Ripper series, a luxurious ocean liner becomes a floating prison of scandal, madness, and horror when passengers are murdered one by one…with nowhere to run from the killer. .

Audrey Rose Wadsworth and her partner-in-crime-investigation, Thomas Cresswell, are en route to New York to help solve another blood-soaked mystery. Embarking on a week-long voyage across the Atlantic on the opulent RMS Etruria, they’re delighted to discover a traveling troupe of circus performers, fortune tellers, and a certain charismatic young escape artist entertaining the first-class passengers nightly.

But then, privileged young women begin to go missing without explanation, and a series of brutal slayings shocks the entire ship. The strange and disturbing influence of the Moonlight Carnival pervades the decks as the murders grow ever more freakish, with nowhere to escape except the unforgiving sea. It’s up to Audrey Rose and Thomas to piece together the gruesome investigation as even more passengers die before reaching their destination. But with clues to the next victim pointing to someone she loves, can Audrey Rose unravel the mystery before the killer’s horrifying finale?


About Kerri Maniscalco

Kerri Maniscalco grew up in a semi-haunted house outside NYC where her fascination with gothic settings began. In her spare time she reads everything she can get her hands on, cooks all kinds of food with her family and friends, and drinks entirely too much tea while discussing life’s finer points with her cats.

Her first novel in this series, Stalking Jack the Ripper, debuted at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list. It incorporates her love of forensic science and unsolved history.

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Author photo credit: Kelli Maniscalco @ Dogwood Lane

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