The time I reviewed a book {11}

When I got the invite from Penguin to review Atlantia and have a special giveaway, I was all over it. I was really excited to get my greedy hands on a copy of Ally’s new book.

Before we get to the review, let’s check out the book, shall we?

17731926Can you hear Atlantia breathing?

For as long as she can remember, Rio has dreamt of the sand and sky Above—of life beyond her underwater city of Atlantia. But in a single moment, all her plans for the future are thwarted when her twin sister, Bay, makes an unexpected decision, stranding Rio Below. Alone, ripped away from the last person who knew Rio’s true self—and the powerful siren voice she has long hidden—she has nothing left to lose.

Guided by a dangerous and unlikely mentor, Rio formulates a plan that leads to increasingly treacherous questions about her mother’s death, her own destiny, and the complex system constructed to govern the divide between land and sea. Her life and her city depend on Rio to listen to the voices of the past and to speak long-hidden truths.

Sounds good, right?

right

**Thanks to my pretty prancy PA AKA Christina from The Book Hookup for letting me steal borrow her review format**

Rating & First Reaction:

3.5 stars

This was a bit of a slow start for me. I enjoyed the Matched  series, so I knew that I would want to read Atlantia. I wasn’t sure what I was getting into {honestly, I expected mermaids}, but overall it was an enjoyable read.

MCs:

Rio: the entire story boils down to Rio and her desperate want to be Above. She has a pretty big secret that she’s been hiding for pretty much all of her life and that sort of dictates how she acts.  Rio has known life a certain way so after what she feels is a betrayal from her sister, things seem to unravel for her.  She has to make decisions by herself and it forces her to examine things from different sides and question everything. I really liked being in her head.

Secondary characters

True: Are we surprised that the boy was my favorite part?  True is an absolute realist with a touch of whimsy.  He makes metal fish and they come to be an important piece for Rio and her quest to get Above.  Of course he’s got his own secrets, so it’s a lot of fun seeing the two of them figure things out together.   Plus kissing.

Swoony line:

“I could hear you calling out with the same agony in your voice that I heard when Bay left. But you weren’t calling for her. You were calling for me, and there was nothing I could do to help you.” — taken from page 184 in arc

I know that isn’t the regular type of swoony, but let me assure you that when you put it in context and read that entire scene, it’s good.

Maire: Maire is Rio’s aunt.  I can’t go into serious detail about her because spoilers, but she’s mysterious and had me second guessing pretty much everything she did and said.  She provides a delicious tension in nearly every scene she’s in and I absolutely loved how her plot line ended.

Everyone else: There are a good amount of secondary characters that I could mention, but I’m not going to.  Anyone worth mentioning has secrets and I want to make sure you get to unravel those on your own.

Plot & Pacing:

When Rio’s sister leaves the Below to go Above, it sets something in motion. As I said in the beginning, it is a bit of a slow start, but somehow it works. I didn’t realize how much build up was there until I got to a turning point in the plot. As soon as that event happened, the pacing sped up and there were some mild twists that I didn’t see coming.

There were a few long description passages and since I’m a total dialogue whore, that was where I started to struggle with the book.  I was hoping for a bit more in the epilogue, and while it was a bit open ended,  it was hopeful.

Rec It?

Yes. If you’re looking for a stand alone book with intriguing characters and a unique plot, this is for you.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Bio_PicAlly Condie is the author of the MATCHED Trilogy, a #1 New York Times and international bestseller. MATCHED was chosen as one of YALSA’s 2011 Teens’ Top Ten and named as one of Publisher’s Weekly’s Best Children’s Books of 2010. The sequels, CROSSED and REACHED, were also critically acclaimed and received starred reviews, and all three books are available in 30+ languages. Disney has optioned the film rights for the series.

A former English teacher, she lives with her husband and four children outside of Salt Lake City, Utah. She loves reading, writing, running, and listening to her husband play guitar.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Huge thanks to Penguin for sending me the arc {and providing some lovely things you’ll see in a second.}  Make sure you’re checking out Ally’s blog, following her on Twitter, liking her Facebook page and adding all of her books to your TBR shelf on Goodreads.

Now, Penguin sent me an arc, but it’s up for grabs.  They’re also throwing in an Above or Below necklace.

unnamed

The arc will be coming from me, the necklace from Penguin.  Necklace will be chosen at random.  Contest is US only and additional contest rules are here.

**Good Luck!!**

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The time it went to eleven

I heard about Clariel from the girls on Tea Time. They were so excited about the book being released that it made the book stick in the back of my mind. When I saw that Garth Nix was going to be at MG, Michelle and I tentatively put it on the calendar.

We met up early for a date. Michelle brought Lolita’s and we had the most delicious carne asada before heading over to Starbucks. We made it over to the store around 6 and a crowd quickly began to gather. We got front row and waited for the last hour before the event started.

photo 1(2)

Garth came out right at 7:30 and said that he had been on tour for the past month. He started by reading something that he wrote when he was 7.  He pulled out a tiny folded book made out of notebook paper and joked that it wasn’t the original because that was in the National Library of Australia.  His little brother found it when their parents were moving after 40 years of being in the same house.

photo(1)

The book was 3 sentences and Garth said that it was proof that he was already thinking about the structure in stories because it clearly had a beginning, middle and ending.

Garth then started talking about Clariel and read a passage from the book.

As you can see, the maps have been redone and they’re much better than the sketches I made.  And any fantasy book with 3 maps is better than one with only 1 book. Or 30% better than a book with no maps in it.

photo

It then opened up to the Q&A.

Do you have any casting idea for the movie?

It’s almost been made twice. I think it’s the type of movie that big stars shouldn’t be cast in. The way to make a star is to give them a great role.

What was your inspiration for Sabriel?

I get invigorated by other people’s art. When I’m feeling tired and I need to refuel my spirit, I’ll watch great movies or listen to music. It’s not a direct inspiration. I can’t look at something and say that it inspired a specific scene. So many things go into my head and they get mushed up. Wait, that doesn’t sound right. They get together beautifully.

What sort of music did you listen to?

This is hard. I don’t listen to something while I’m writing, but in between. Maybe The Eels. For some actions scenes maybe some Led Zeppelin. There’s some songs that just invoke an immediate emotional response.

How do you decide your viewpoint character?

I tried to keep this tightly focused on Clariel’s POV. It always come down to wanting something to happen and how to get there. This is Clariel’s story. For some stories, the story is bigger than one character. It’s just about storytelling.

photo 2

Out of all of your characters, which is your favorite?

You can’t have one. It’s like asking a parent who is the favorite child. I don’t have one. I’m always thinking about the next book. Whatever I’m imagining is better than whatever I’ve written down. Don’t stop buying my books because I’ve said that. I always think that next time I’ll do better, that I’ll get exactly what I’ve imagined.

It’s probably best that I don’t get the perfect book. After I typed the last words, I would probably drop dead, or burst into a column of flame. What do you do when you’ve written the best thing? It’s like you’ve gone to 11, you can’t go higher.

Are you a plotter?

Many fantastic writers do build their world first. I am more story driven. I tend to work out what I need and then go from there. If you keep doing that then you have a lot of stuff. I don’t separately work out how the magic works or how the world looks.

It’s like an iceberg. The text is the 10% of the book and then the 90% is just there. I want it to feel real. The world is real, the people are real, it’s just somewhere else. It’s all in the small details.

Any plans on publishing the story about Sabriel’s parents?

That story is 1 of 2 short stories that will probably come out next year. I’ve written about half of it, so once I’ve written half, you know it’ll be published somewhere.

{There’s another story coming out that he completely worked out while having a root canal.}

In October there’s a regency romance with magic. It’s currently an e-book, but it’ll be a paper book. Hopefully sometime in 2016 there will be another Old Kingdom book that I’m working on now.

Have you wanted to write an Old Kingdom book from a male POV?

When I’m thinking up a story, I typically start with the protagonist and then I’m stuck with them. I don’t plan for them to be male or female. It’s just who they need to be for the story.

photo(2)

Since Shade’s Children is technically YA, have you ever had your editor come back and say no to something?

No. It made the list of one of the 100 most challenged books and it was like a list of the best literature. I mean, number one was To Kill a Mockingbird. I very much believe that if you’re going to have difficult context it’s important to show the consequences. I’m not going to do gruesome violence just for the sake of it.

What book did you have the most pleasure writing?

They all have their moments. All of the books I’ve written I have hated about halfway through. I’ll always start complaining that I don’t know how to write. My wife is a publisher and she always reminds me that I’m that way every time.  There’s always a lot of revision and a lot of going back.

What made you decide to go back to the Old Kingdom?

For me, it wasn’t going back. I never left. For Clariel, I wrote a little question for myself. I went back and it was basically the start of Clariel. It has been in the queue since 1998. I guess there were just other books I wanted to write more.  My publisher wanted me to write a sequel to Sabriel right afterwards and I didn’t want to.

Who decided to update the cover art?

Fate decided to update the covers. The covers came from {I think he said Dylan} and he passed away two years ago. So once we were unable to have one of those covers, we had no choice but to update. {This also led to a discussion about the various covers used in different countries.}

photo(3)

Have you ever considered expanding the land mass?

Yes and the next book will do that to some extent. I think it’s good to keep it relatively contained. It’s like explaining too much with the magic. Some things need to stay mysterious.

Why does technology fail once you get in the wall?

The entire series is basically an advertisement for hand made paper. {This answer would make more sense if I would have gotten the earlier part about his mom making paper. }

What do you read?

I read a bit of everything. And it’s the best thing I can tell people who want to write. If you only read from the genre you want to write, when it’s time to write, you don’t have a lot in the reservoir.  The best thing is that all reading is research.  {He listed a lot of books, but the two that I remember are Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater and The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black.}

The signing started just before 8:30.  Michelle was able to get 2nd in line, so we were quick to get up to Garth.  We both thanked him for coming and he said that he liked what he had seen of San Diego, but that he was only going to be here for about 20 hours before he flew to Boston.  He saw me take a photo of him signing and asked if I wanted to be in the photo.  I said sure and he laughed saying that he didn’t know when the next time he would be in the US, so I better take advantage of it.

photo 3 photo 4

Even though I haven’t read Garth’s books, I was captivated by his story telling.  He is very charismatic and quite hilarious.  I look forward to starting Clariel and I should probably thank Margot and Aubry for being so excited about it.

The time it was my 3 year blogiversary

You guys.  It’s been another year! Technically, it’s officially 3 years on Sunday, but I just couldn’t wait.

karen-mouth

This has been quite a year of growth.  I moved from Blogger to WordPress {thank you, Kassiah!}, I was invited to moderate two signings for Harper Collins, I was asked to blurb a book, I met lots of new authors and saw tons of favorites.  Not to mention,  making lots of new friends and gaining some awesome followers.

As always, I can’t thank you guys enough.  This is sort of a giant train of crazy and I know that I’m different from the majority of the blogs out there, so your support really means a lot.   Thank you for coming along with me on this amazing ride.

karen-thumbs-up

And now the good stuff…

You can’t have a blogiversary celebration without a giveaway and this year, I’ve got some good stuff.  Since it’s my third year, I’ve got 3 signed trilogies up for grabs:

photo 4

Yep.  That’s happening.

Under the Never Sky, Through the Ever Night and Into the Still Blue by Veronica Rossi

Shatter Me, Unravel Me and Ignite Me by Tahereh Mafi

Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Days of Blood and Starlight and Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor

There will be three winners.  All three will be contacted at the same time via email; winners will get to choose the trilogy they want in the order that they respond.  Contest is international and additional rules are here.

Before I let you run amok {amok, amok, amok!}, let’s look at this odd gif that I couldn’t resist because Matt and Karen are so adorable.

karen-cybermen

**Good Luck!!**

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The time it was about Mara’s Retribution {2}

Hi everyone! Are you done with The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer?

Mara Dyer Banner Final

Today is the official day that you should be done.  I’ll be completely honest, I’m not done.  As you may or may not know, I spent the weekend in Vegas and started reading it on the way home this morning.  Never fear, I’ve read Unbecoming a handful of times and I’ve been finding some excellent questions for the trivia game this afternoon…

So really, my discussion post isn’t going to be super discussion-y.  Maybe a bit flaily, but I think you guys all expect that, right?

We all know my undying and maybe a bit obsessive love for Noah Shaw, yes? {He’s mine.  See here for proof.}

Team Noah Shaw copy

It’s been a few years since I read Unbecoming.  I think I read it in 2012, right before reading Evolution.  But, I forgot some things…

Like how he loves to open the car door for Mara:

When Noah pulled into my driveway, he got out of the car and strode quickly to the passenger door to open it for me. I gave him a look, but he interrupted me before I had the chance to speak.

“I like doing it for you. Try to remember so I don’t have to sprint every time.”

Every time. {Unbecoming, pg 241}

Body_Swoon

Or how he ties Mara’s shoes:

Suddenly, he crouched down.

“What are you –”

In my rush, I hadn’t tied my shoelaces.

Noah was now tying them for me.  He looked up at me through his dark fringe of lashes and smiled.

The expression on his face melted me completely. I knew I had the goofiest grin plastered on my lips, and didn’t care.

“There,” he said as he finished tying the laces on my left shoe. “Now you won’t fall.”

Too late. {Unbecoming, pg 246-247}

emmaswoon

But wait.  This is one of the best:

“Have you kissed many boys before?” he asked quietly.

His question brought my mind back into focus. I raised an eyebrow. “Boys? That’s an assumption.”

Noah laughed, the sound low and husky. “Girls, then?”

“No.”

“Not many girls? Or not many boys?”

“Neither,” I said. Let him make of that what he would.

“How many?’

“Why?”

“I am taking away that word. You are no longer allowed to use it. How many?”

My cheeks flushed, but my voice was steady as I answered. “One.”

At this, Noah leaned in impossibly closer, the slender muscles in his forearm flexing as he bent his elbow to bring himself nearer to me, almost touching. I was heady with the proximity of him and grew legitimately concerned that my heart might explode. Maybe Noah wasn’t asking. Maybe I didn’t mind. I closed my eyes and felt Noah’s five o’clock graze my jaw, and the faintest whisper of his lips at my ear.

“He was doing it wrong.” {Unbecoming, pg 259}

Fanning-Myself

That’s about as far as I’ve gotten so far.  I know there’s some extra good stuff coming up.  And some even better stuff in Evolution.

So, what did you think of Unbecoming?  What was your favorite scene or line?

Don’t forget to have your discussion post up by 11/2 and go here for more details on the readalong and to add the link to the rafflecopter for more entries to win the complete set of Michelle’s books!

The time it was a weekend in Vegas {2}

After going to VVBF last year and seeing how awesome it was, I knew to was going to be a yearly trip to make. This year’s line up was just as amazing, so I was really excited to go.

We had a friend in town from London, so we were able to stay at his house. Friday night had us at the Hard Rock Hotel eating delicious food and vanilla shakes.

Saturday we went to the event area fairly early to check it all out. The set up was a bit different.  Instead of all of the signings being after the entire event, they were going to be held after each panel.

1 2

I bought the books I needed and then went back to the car to get my bags. Hubs was just dropping me off, so it was a little daunting to maneuver around by myself with the amount of books I had.  This year, I only had 25 or so.  Last year it was around 60, so it was a huge difference.

I listened to the 10am panel called The Future’s So Bright, We Have to Be Saved. It had Jodi Meadows, Elizabeth Fama, Lynne Matson, Mindy McGinnis, Lissa Price, Demitria Lunetta and Amy Tintera.

3

They answered questions about their books and how they started writing, their writing process, world building in their books and the best fan reactions they’ve gotten.

The panel signing started at 11 and it was a long table and we just went from author to author.

I got up to Jodi first and she pulled out her calligraphy pen to sign my arc of Orphan Queen. We chatted a bit about how she had only signed about 3 arcs, so she didn’t have her tag line figured out.

j1 j2

While I was with Jodi, Stacie was next to me with Lynne Matson and when Lynne saw Stacie’s post it, I heard her ask if she was book junkee. I said it was me, and we quickly shook hands before I went back to Jodi.

So, of course I went to Lynne next. It was so exciting to actually get to meet her after talking with her for so long on twitter.

l1 l2

Demitria Lunetta was next. I had arcs of both of her books and she laughed that each of them had several title pages.

d2 d1 d3

The last author of the 10am panel was Elizabeth Fama. We was surprised that I had an arc and asked if I was a blogger. When I told her the blog name, she told me that she had heard of it. [SQUEEEEEEEE]

e1 e2

I needed to regroup and get organized, so I sat over by the 11 panel called Discover a New World. The authors were Renee Collins, Christina Farley, Tessa Gratton, Sara B. Larson, Lori M. Lee, Sara Raasch, Kathryn Rose and Sherry Thomas.

11

They talked about becoming an author, world building, what tv shows they loved the most, if they were artsy and if they’re consumed by scenes when they’re not working on them.

The signing started at 12 and I only had books for Sara B. Larson, so I quickly ran over to her to get my stuff signed. I did have my twitter handle on the post it, so we both said it was great to finally meet each other.

s1 s2 s3

The 12 pm panel was The Magic of the Paranormal. The authors were Brodi Ashton, Sarah Rees Brennan, Tracy Deebs, Nancy Holder, Brigid Kemmerer and Emily McKay.

12

They talked about their books, what they thought paranormal meant and where the idea for their books came from, what they’re working on next and getting fan mail.

I snuck over to the other tent to listen to The Thrill of a Good Mystery panel. The authors were Ted Goeglein, Abigail Haas, Stephanie Kuehn, Michelle Madow, Gretchen McNeil, Brooklyn Skye, Ann Stampler and Allen Zadoff.

13

I got there right when Gretchen was saying that she wasn’t as ambitious as the rest of the authors on the panel. That she couldn’t have written a book in school, that she was a music major and they were a group of people who partied.

She also pointed at me and gave me a snarky look because I saw her in flip flops and tweeted about it. :D

For 12 pm panels, I only had books for Sarah Rees Brennan.  When I got up to her, she gave me a present since I had the entire trilogy to have signed. {It’s a really awesome looking necklace that I put away before I took a photo of it.  Sorry.}  She told me that it was illegal to deface the Queen’s coin, so I would be wearing an illegal necklace.

Somehow our entire conversation was totally random. We talked about bowler hats {she loved my post it notes and I gave them to her}, how sharks equal happiness, her ability to sign while not looking at the book and how all of the inscriptions were going to be inside jokes.

sb1 sb2 sb3

From there, I went over to Gretchen just to say hi because it’s Gretchen and I have to. She had to show me her shoes to prove that she had heels on and as always, they were amazing.

I ended up listening to the last 30 minutes of the Tween Reads panel. The authors were Jen Calonita, Varian Johnson, Lisa Schroeder, Ally Carter, DJ MacHale, Bruce Hale and Elizabeth Eulberg.

14

They talked about coming up with their ideas, if they read their reviews, the most difficult part of writing, the best part of school visits, the type of scene that is the hardest to write, what sort of superheroes they would be, and the accents they would want to have.

I didn’t have any books for the 1pm panel, so I hovered to get a seat for the 2pm panel. Unfortunately, there were people I wanted to hear talk on both panels, so it was quite a dilemma.

I started at the Who’s Afraid of These Authors panel. The authors were Courtney Alameda, Natalie C Parker, Hilary Monahan, Whitney Miller, April Genevieve Tucholke, JR Johansson, Kate Karyus Quinn, Sean Beaudoin.

15

Courtney was the moderator and she introduced them and then each author had to read a few lines from their book.

They talked about the horror genre and if they liked horror movies.

Around 2:30, Hubs brought my copy of Breakable by Tammara Weber. When I was flapping the books the night before, I had seen that the book was already signed, so I didn’t bring it with me.

I ran over to Tammara to get it personalized. And when I explained my little back story, she also resigned it.

t1 t2

I then snuck over to the other tent to see some of the More Than a Love Story panel. The authors were Sarah Tregay, Kelly Fiore, Lisa Schroeder, Angie Stanton, Carrie Mesrobian, and Rachel M. Wilson.

16

They talked about the authors that influenced them, having other jobs besides writing, getting fan mail, finding out their book sold and what is coming up next.

One of the panels were done right at 3 and the authors went over to the tables right away.

I got up to Rachel M. Wilson first. I told her my twitter handle and told her that I was irrationally excited to see her. She signed my books and thanked me for all of the support that I had given her. When Nicole asked if I had read it, I said yes, that it was only of my top books of the year. And Rachel thanked me again.

r3 r2 r1

I went to Lisa Schroeder next. She asked if I had read The Bridge from Me to You yet and I said yes, that I loved it.

l1 l2

Sara was next. She showed me that the arc had sketches in it — which I didn’t get to see in the e-arc. And then showed me the final sketches from the artist.

st11

We chatted for a bit about how in the arc she left out one of the word bubbles.

st1 st2

JR Johansson was next. I had just gotten an arc of her new book Cut Me Free from Macmillan a few days ago, so I was really excited to be able to bring it with. JR was just as excited to see it and got out a different sharpee to sign it.

j1 j2

And then there was April. If you follow me on Twitter, you know I’m mildly stalking April and that I’m horribly in love with River West her books. She gave me River when I asked, but I was ridiculously excited to see her and get River in writing.

When I got up to her, I told her my twitter handle and I generally acted like a damn fool. We shook hands to meet properly and then I asked her to properly give me River in writing. She asked what I wanted it to say and I said I didn’t care, just that I needed it to say he was mine.  The my arc of Devil was already signed, thanks to a friend, but April resigned it.

a3 a2 a1

Afterwards, I asked if I could get a photo and April had me come around the table. She said that she needed to fix her scarf to make it proper looking. Another author said I could come around the table, so I did. April picked up one of her books and said to look mysterious.

My fangirl heart almost exploded.

The 3pm signing panels were my last ones to attend. Thankfully, I had seen Suzanne Young earlier in passing, so I was able to chat with her for a second.

The line up this year was amazing. It was so awesome to see this group of authors and as always, I can’t wait to see what next year brings.

Huge thanks to Nicole for hanging out and taking photos for me. And squishy hugs to Stacie and her friend for letting me leave my books with them while I ran around.

The time they were fast talkers

Going to see Sara Raasch was always a sure thing. When she was announced at Mysterious Galaxy, it was added to the calendar, even before I had read Snow Like Ashes. And then when I had? I was so so so excited for the event.

Michelle and I both ditched work early and met up at Starbucks for drinks and yummies. We headed over to the bookstore around 4:30 and chatted it up with Rob before buying our books and finally settling into the front row.

1

Sara and Kathryn got to the store around 5:30, Kiersten was running a little late because of traffic, but got there right after 6.   Sara started out by saying that since it was her event, she came up with a 5 second game for all of the authors.  The had 5 seconds to explain the MC, love interest, bad guy, antagonist, setting, culture, song, favorite scene, least favorite scene, plot, author. This went by way too fast and I didn’t get any of it.

Then Kiersten said that she wanted to hear more about Sara and her writing.

2

S: I started writing when I was 12 or 13 and it was so terrible. I was so in love with this book and tried so hard to get it published.

KW: When I met you during Paranormalcy, you were trying to get it published.  I think you were about 19.

S: I started rewriting it when the pirate book tanked. I fell in love with the characters again and I hope that you guys will feel it.  I poured a lot of love into it.

KW: I always say that no writing is a waste. This is a perfect example.

How did the book come about?

KR: I watched the 1953 version of Nights of the Round Table and I thought that Merlin would be a great stream punk character.

S: And he’s super hot

KR: I loved the characters and they just came to me. This was the first book that made me think I would give up.

KW: This is my 8th novel. It came out in September. I was in the middle of writing Perfect Lies. It’s very dark and includes real world violence and I needed a break, so I wrote a book.  It was a magical experience because I got an idea and sat down and had a book in 7 days. All of the elements came together.

Kiersten talked about her new book coming out next year. She talks really fast, so I didn’t any of it: epic historical fiction with a gender swap, based on Vlad the Impaler.

3

What do you have coming up next?

S: Book 2. Book one was aaah: world building. Book 2 is aaaahhh: sequel. Book 3 is aaaah: feelings.

KR: I just sold the third book.

This went off on a tangent about a taser, Meira’s weapon {I have no idea what it’s called} and a cross bow and the MCs going clubbing together and people dropping on the dance floor.

It was then opened up to audience questions.  Sara said that she had 2 swag packs to get things started.

You wake up and you’re Bella from Twilight.  What do you do differently? {Thanks to Bookish Broads for letting me steal this question!}

This led to a lot of clarifying questions: which Bella? Because waking up as pregnant Bella is an entirely different set of problems. I said that it would be Bella from Twilight.

S: Jacob. I was Jacobing from the beginning.

KW: I like how you made that a verb.

Patrick: You grow a pair and move on.

KW: I liked Twilight. I thought it was a good story.  I would say let’s skip middle book twice and go right to the end.

KR: Maybe ask for a new chemistry partner.  Then it’s a whole new story.

4

What’s the most drastic thing you’ve ever done for a deadline?

KW: I get so panicked about my deadlines, that I get focused on my word count. It’s not a good thing because it sets a precedent.  Then my editor thinks I can get things done in a month.

S: I also turn in things early, but then my editor thinks I didn’t edit enough, so I’ll get a huge edit letter. Now I know to wait so she thinks I’ve taken that long.

KR: I’m good with time. I will write another book.

With your love interest do you generally base them on someone else?

KW: My first characters tend to burst out of my brain, fully formed. Isadora was that way. My love interests I tend to learn while my MC does. I try to write to challenges. I wanted to write a fantasy novel where the chosen one didn’t have any magic.  I don’t base my characters on other people, but inspiration.

S: I wanted to write a MC who wanted to be the hero and save the world. She’s a 16 year old girl and not a very good fighter, so they keep telling her no.

KR: I based her on Q in James Bond. She cannot be who she should be or who she wants to be, so a lot of it is behind the scenes. She’s not a great fighter at first. She’s smart and can build things.

5

Any kind of themes or ideas that you love to talk about?

S: A lot of the books I’ve written are about being enough on your own. Not needing magic or anything else. It’s something I unintentionally have in my mind.

KR: I like writing about hope. It’s a central theme. I like to play with creative characters and seeing the world in ways that maybe I wouldn’t be able to see. Oh and beautiful men.

KW: I never intend to, but then I always do. Fate vs free will and the nature of mortality. I also like writing girls with attitude.

Do you have any triggers that will make you write?

S: Music, which is funny because I can’t listen to anything while I’m writing.  But I can get inspired by something in the song and then go work on it.

KR: I watch a lot of Discovery Channel and we’re always pausing it so I can writes stuff down.

KW: Deadlines. Or a song. You know how songs can tell you a story in 4 minutes? Like that.

Mindgames came from from PIRATES 4. The move was horrible, but I loved the mermaid and how she was beautiful and vulnerable, but in the water she could kill you.

KW: Do you guys have ideas that you know you’re not ready to write?

S: Yes. I have a contemporary idea and it frightens me. No one is getting stabbed, I don’t know what to do.

6

How much outlining do you guys do?

S: So much. Especially with fantasy because there’s so much world building. There’s a map that came from something I made from Microsoft Paint. I’m horrible with architecture, so I have to draw everything first.

KR: It’s a big thing for me. I outline as much as I can. Then I can draft faster. What really helped me with book 1 was writing book 2.

KW: It depends on the book. This one had no outlining. The collaboration I did with Jim for In the Shadows was specific. It’s a chapter of art and then a chapter of text and we had to have the same amount of chapters.

I will write literally one line so I know where I’m heading next.

From then, it was time for the signing.  Michelle and I were able to be the first in line, so Michelle went up to Kiersten and I went to Sara.  I told Kiersten that I didn’t have anything for her because I just saw her.  When Sara opened my book, she saw my post it and I had my Twitter handled written down.  She said, “You’re The Stacee!”

And I do love my inscription!

s1 s2

These three ladies were hilarious together.  I wish I would have been fast enough to get all of the tangent stories and giggles, but I wasn’t that fast.  Just go get all of their books and go see them!

The time it was a book blast {4}

I’ve been a fan of Brighton Walsh since her early days.  When she had a couple of novellas published, I invited myself onto her blog tour.  So, it sort of goes without saying that when her new book, Caged in Winter, was getting published, I let her know that I was going to be part of all of the things.  Thankfully, Brighton isn’t afraid of my fangirling enthusiasm.

pa-9704 Brighton Walsh Blitz Banner.indd

The book doesn’t come out until next month, but today we have some goodies to help tide you over, including an excerpt.  But, before we get to that {and the giveaway}, let’s check out the book, shall we?

9780425276488_medium_Caged_in_WinterIn this emotional and sexy New Adult debut from Brighton Walsh, the only thing more frightening than commitment is hope…

Aspiring chef Cade Maxwell is immediately, viscerally attracted to Winter Jacobson. But it’s not her mouthwatering curves he’s drawn to—it’s the strange emptiness in her eyes. When Cade saves her from a drunken customer with grabby hands, he’s shocked at her response…

Winter doesn’t need Cade’s help. After a lifetime of getting by on her own, she’s happy to rely on herself. She’s exactly seventy-six days away from graduating college, and if she can hold it together that long, she’ll finally be able to rise above the crappy hand she was dealt.

But now, every time she turns around, Cade is there, ready to push her, smile at her, distract her from her plans. Winter knows she can’t afford to open up—especially to a man she’s terrified to actually want…

Sounds good, right? {Hint: it absolutely is}

right

And now the excerpt… Oh, and maybe there should be a disclaimer.  If you can’t vote, you might want to keep scrolling.

cade

“Okay, now add the flour, but—” It’s too late, a puff of white exploding in Winter’s face before I can get the words out or reach to flip the switch. “You need to turn the mixer to low.”

She spins around, her cheeks covered in random white spots, some of the flour dusting her hair. “You couldn’t say that before, ‘Now add the flour’?” Her voice is low, her eyes narrowed, and I take a step back.

“Well, yeah, I guess I could’ve, but I just sort of figured you’d know enough not to add loose flour to a wildly spinning mixer.”

“Oh, you figured I’d know enough for that, huh? Even after I told you I’ve never made cookies before? Even then?”

She’s advancing on me now, and I shouldn’t be retreating like a scared animal. I have more than a foot on her, a hundred-plus pounds, but she looks pissed. And that glint in her eye tells me she’s up to something. I glance down at her hand, seeing a measuring cup half filled with flour, and I realize what she’s going to do a split-second before she does, but not soon enough to dodge it.

A cloud of white powder hits me straight in the face, and I cough as I inhale some. Wiping away the dust from my eyes, I say, “I can’t believe you did that.”

“Oh, well, I just figured you’d know enough to duck.” She shrugs and offers me a saccharine smile.

“I don’t think you want to start this with me, baby.”

“In case you missed the flour in your face a second ago, I already started it, baby.”

I stare her down, then reach over, grabbing the bowl of melted chocolate—my mom’s secret ingredient in her cookies—and dip my fingers into it. Winter narrows her eyes at me and takes a step back. “Don’t you dare.”

“Where you goin’? I thought you wanted to get messy.”

“No, I wanted you to get messy. I didn’t have a choice with this,” she says as she gestures to where the flour hit her. She darts her eyes down to the bowl of chocolate, then back up to my face. “Don’t, Cade. You’re going to get me dirty, and I have to be at work soon.”

“You maybe should’ve thought about that before you threw a scoop of flour in my face.” I don’t wait for her response before I smear the chocolate down her cheek to her jaw, then all the way down her neck and into the deep V of her shirt, stopping when I feel the swell of her breasts. “Whoops.”

“You did not just do that.”

“Looks like I did.” I shrug, putting the bowl back on the counter before I lick the chocolate from my fingers. She focuses on the act, her lips parted. I lean closer to her, drop my voice, and gesture to the spots of her skin that are covered. “You want me to clean you up, too?”

Glaring, she gives a jerky shake of her head, but a flush works its way up her chest to her neck—one of the tells she’s getting turned on.

I step closer, backing her into the corner until she’s pressed against the cabinets behind her. “Sure about that? It wouldn’t take much. Just a lick or two. Maybe a couple sucks. We’d probably have to take your shirt off, though, and your bra, too. I really got down in there.”

Her head’s tilted back as she stares up at me, her chest rising and falling in quick succession from her labored breathing.

I lean into her space, lick up a path from her neck to her ear. “I think you do. I think you want my tongue all over you, don’t you, baby? I got you all dirty. Seems only fair I clean you up.” Before she can respond, my mouth closes over her shoulder, my tongue tracing along the chocolate I smeared there. By the time I’ve dipped into the neckline of her shirt, my tongue in the valley of her breasts, her nipples are pressed tight against the material, and she’s got a white-knuckled grip on the countertop behind her.

“Want me to stop?”

I wait a second. Two. And when she gives the slightest shake of her head, I take. Gripping her face in my hands, my mouth covers hers, my tongue slipping inside. She groans into the kiss, her hands finally coming up to clutch my forearms.

“Wait.” She wrenches her mouth from mine, turning her head to the side. “Cade, wait. Your sister.”

I focus on licking every stray ounce of chocolate I can find, her hands a counterpoint to her words as she holds me close. “Not home. Gone till four.”

“Shit! Four. I have to be at work at four!”

“We’ve got time. Now stop talking.”

I peel her jeans and panties off, then lift her onto the counter, desperate to feel her around me. With one hand, I fumble with the button of my jeans, the other busy between Winter’s thighs, rubbing soft circles around her clit, getting her ready for me. She’s moaning, her head resting back on the cabinets, and the sight of her there, half naked in my kitchen, is too much. Too fucking much, and I can’t get my goddamn jeans off.

When she notices, her hands are there, opening my jeans and yanking my boxers down just far enough to pull me out. Her hands are around my cock, pumping slowly, and I need inside her now.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Brighton Author Photo_ColorBrighton Walsh spent nearly a decade as a professional photographer before deciding to take her storytelling in a different direction and reconnect with her first love: writing. When she’s not pounding away at the keyboard, she’s probably either reading or shopping—maybe even both at once. She lives in the Midwest with her husband and two children, and, yes, she considers forty degrees to be hoodie weather. Her home is the setting for frequent dance parties, Lego battles, and more laughter than she thought possible.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Huge thanks to Jessica for letting me force my way into this.  Make sure you’re checking out Brighton’s website, following her on Twitter, liking her Facebook page and adding all of her books to your Goodreads TBR shelf.

Caged in Winter comes out November 4th.  You can preorder it at: B&N, Amazon, iBooks and Kobo.

Now.  Can’t wait to get your greedy hands on a copy?  Berkley is giving away 5 arcs! Contest is US only.

**Good Luck!!**

a Rafflecopter giveaway