Monday, February 29, 2016

Author Interview Promo and Giveaway: Nora and Kettle by Lauren Nicolle Taylor

Book Details:
Nora and Kettle by Lauren Nicolle Taylor
Published by: Clean Teen Publishing
Publication date: February 29th, 2016
Genres: Historical, Young Adult

What if Peter Pan was a homeless kid just trying to survive, and Wendy flew away for a really good reason?

Seventeen-year-old Kettle has had his share of adversity. As an orphaned Japanese American struggling to make a life in the aftermath of an event in history not often referred to—the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II and the removal of children from orphanages for having “one drop of Japanese blood in them”—things are finally looking up. He has his hideout in an abandoned subway tunnel, a job, and his gang of Lost Boys.

Desperate to run away, the world outside her oppressive brownstone calls to naïve, eighteen-year-old Nora—the privileged daughter of a controlling and violent civil rights lawyer who is building a compensation case for the interned Japanese Americans. But she is trapped, enduring abuse to protect her younger sister Frankie and wishing on the stars every night for things to change.

For months, they’ve lived side by side, their paths crossing yet never meeting. But when Nora is nearly killed and her sister taken away, their worlds collide as Kettle, grief stricken at the loss of a friend, angrily pulls Nora from her window.

In her honeyed eyes, Kettle sees sadness and suffering. In his, Nora sees the chance to take to the window and fly away.

Set in 1953, NORA AND KETTLE explores the collision of two teenagers facing extraordinary hardship. Their meeting is inevitable, devastating, and ultimately healing. Their stories, a collection of events, are each on their own harmless. But together, one after the other, they change the world.


Barnes and Noble:

Author Interview:
1.     What does your writing process look like?  Do you know the whole story when you start?  Or do you just start writing and go with it (seat of the pants writing)?  If you plan it out, how do you do that?  Outline, note cards, post-it notes, etc.?

My writing process looks like the inside of my brain: A total mess. I usually just start writing and then maybe write a very rough outline about halfway through once I’ve got a good sense of who my characters are. I usually write little quotes in my notebook as I go along and they guide my scenes.

2.     I love retellings of fairy tales or other classic stories.  How did you come up with this reimagining of Peter Pan?
The Peter Pan theme really just fit my characters. I’d say about a third of the way through writing Nora & Kettle I realized that I was taking inspiration from Peter Pan and then I just ran with it. To me, it was important to have a fantastical element to the story to help the reader gain some relief from the confronting situations the characters face.
3.     How long have you been writing?
I have been writing for about three years now. Before I wrote my first book, The Woodlands, I’d never written more than a few pages of anything.
4.     What tips do you have for aspiring writers?
I’m sure everyone says it, but be persistent and just keep writing. The more you write the better you’ll get at it.
5.     How important are names in your books?  Do you choose the names based on liking the way it sounds, or the meaning?  Do you have any name choosing resources you recommend?
Names usually just come to me because I like the way they sound and then I have to look them up to see of they fit the era. Nora was always Nora and Kettle was always Kettle. Frankie was actually Eleanor or Ells for short to start with but I just didn’t like it after I’d written her character some more.
Some fun questions
I have many favourite books. Pinocchio was my favourite childhood novel. I also loved the Shiver series, The Sea of Tranquility, Me Before You… I could go on and on.
Movies/TV Shows
I’ll watch just about anything but I tend to like comedies more at the moment. Loving The Mindy Project, Brooklyn Nine Nine and Undateable at the moment. Old faves include, Scrubs, The X Files and The O.C.
I’m a Hip Hop fan. Some of my favourite artists are Common, Jurassic Five, Hilltop Hoods and Lupe Fiasco. But I also love the folky stuff like Jose Gonzalez and Paul Simon. Plus I have a soft spot for musical soundtracks like Wicked and Les Mis.
Food/writing snack
Social Media Site

Author Bio:
Lauren Nicolle Taylor lives in the lush Adelaide Hills. The daughter of a Malaysian nuclear physicist and an Australian scientist, she was expected to follow a science career path, attending Adelaide University and completing a Health Science degree with Honours in obstetrics and gynaecology.
She then worked in health research for a short time before having her first child. Due to their extensive health issues, Lauren spent her twenties as a full-time mother/carer to her three children. When her family life settled down, she turned to writing.

She is a 2014 Kindle Book Awards Semi-finalist and a USA Best Book Awards Finalist.


Author links: 

Tour-wide giveaway (INTL) - Ends March 10th

  • Clean Teen Publishing Mystery Box
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Sunday, February 28, 2016

February End of the Month Challenge Wrap-Up

So this month I didn't do very well with my normal Sunday posts.  It just didn't seem to work out.  So there are a lot of books I did get this month that I haven't shared.  I'm going to try to start again next week, with the first Sunday in March and get back to that.  But for my one goal of doing the monthly wrap ups of my challenges, I'm still on track this 2nd month of the year.  Last month at this time I was behind on my Goodreads goal, but this month, due to my picking up and devouring a  new series, I am ahead.  Only one book at this moment though because that series has created a huge obsession to where I am listening to the audiobooks of the books that I've already read because I need my #Hessa fix.  More about that in a bit.
As usual I'm going to start with my own challenge.  My goal for this challenge was to start 4 new series this year.  You can read about the challenge if you click on the button above, you can even still sign up yourself!  I started one new series last month, The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd.  This month I started, and finished, a new series that wasn't even in my original plan.  It is the series I am now seriously obsessed with.  I think about the characters all the time.  I'm listening to the audiobook of the 2nd book, even though I actually read the 2nd book, and will probably soon listen to the audiobook of the 3rd, 4th, and 5th as I am able to get them!  I own all the books now, and probably am going to try to buy the digital downloads of their audiobooks because of how much I love listening to the story. They make walking at the gym go by so fast!  Here is that series:
I loved it so much I'm offering a giveaway of any of the books in the series that you want, it is international as long as The Book Depository ships to you.  You can enter by clicking on the link above, you have until the middle of March to enter.  I loved the book so much, I even spent time at work one day making a Someecard for it:

And if you follow me on Twitter, you'll probably see lots of tweets from me about this.  Usually with the tag of #Hessa.

Okay, how am I doing on this one?  Well, none of my choices which you can see in the original post HERE, were ones that I got to.  The only one I think I can count is one that I got an ARC of last year towards the end of the year.

During March I will have a week of spring break, and even though I told my part time job that I had all the days free to work, looks like they still only have me working 2 days that week.  So my goal for that week is going to be to try to finish 5 books, which is about a book a day.

Yeah, none this month.  So let's move on from the depressing part of not doing what I needed.  :-(

  • My goal about not downloading egalleys is going well.  Now when I find them on Edelweiss or Netgalley, if they are ones I don't have to request, then I just write them down in my calendar in the month they'd be published and wait to download them, just in case I can't get to them.  If I have to request them, then they have to be ones that I really, really want.  
  • I've tried harder about not having to post every day of the month, and have continued to do better about it.  Both Friday and Saturday of this past week, I didn't post.  And while in the back of my brain I was thinking about what can I post, I just took a break.  
  • I'm trying harder to go comment on other blogs, going through my GFC scroll on nights that I don't have a post to get done, and trying to click on more of the emails I get to go to the posts and comment more.  
  • This post keeps me up to date with my end of the month challenge post.
  • For the most part I've done 2 reviews a week.  If you average out how many I've done for the month, then I'm good.  But this After series obsession is really hurting me on the audiobook and reading in bed at night fronts.  I often go to bed listening to the audiobooks instead of reading like I was doing.  So that is something that needs to be worked on in March!
  • For personal goals I still haven't saved any money. Although I'm hoping to be good with my tax return, depending how much it is, and spend it to get a new air conditioner for my house.  Although I do really want the new Fitbit that comes out this next month.  That goes along with my other personal goal of getting to the gym.  I've been once a week this past month, and I have the goal of doing that until spring break.  If I do, then I am going to start saving money and thinking about my next tattoo.  :-)  Hoping that after spring break, and during, I'll start going to the gym, or walking twice a week.  
You can see all of my goals by clicking HERE.

Hmm, this is an interesting one.  I just signed up for it last month.  I set my goal at Level 3, which was to read 10-15 this year, more specifically 12.  I got one done last month.  The only thing I can possibly count for this month is finishing the After series.   So, again, hoping March and spring break will get me back on track!  In fact maybe I should do some planning on what to read in March, especially during spring break week, like I see some blogs doing. 

That's my progress this month.   How did you do with your challenges?  One other thing I'm planning to do is set up another giveaway for my It's New to Me Challenge that I mentioned at the top of this post.  It will be for participants only, and I'll have them link up to their reviews!

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Cover Characteristic: Framed Picture/Photo

The Cover Characteristic meme is hosted at  Sugar and Snark.   Here are the guidelines:

Each week we will post a characteristic and choose 5 of our favorite covers with that characteristic. If you want to join in and share your 5 favorite covers with the weeks particular characteristic, then just make a post, grab the meme picture (or make your own) and leave your URL in Linky (so we can visit).
You don’t even need to participate, just stopping by and saying hi would be great! Don’t forget to stop by the other participants!

There were a few that I found this week.  I tried to stick to the topic as much as possible.  But here are the top 10 of the ones I found.  

And my favorite is:

What do you think of my choices?  Can you think of any covers with this theme that you like?

While you're here, go read my glowing review of the After series by Anna Todd, and enter to win your choice of one of the books in the series HERE.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday: Alight (The Generations Trilogy #2) by Scott Sigler

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine where we spotlight upcoming releases that we're eagerly awaiting.  Once again I've picked a sequel to a book.  Although I wasn't completely thrilled with the first book, it is by an author that I have loved another series by, so I can't quite give up yet.  This the sequel to Alive, by Scott Sigler.  The blurb on Goodreads isn't very big, and so it doesn't give much away, but I'm still excited to read it!

Alight reveals to readers the further adventures of Em, Spingate, O’Malley, Bishop, and the other young heroes introduced in Alive. In Alive, Em fought to assert herself as leader and her friends tried to comprehend their own mysterious identity; now she must wrestle not with the challenge of winning power but the grave responsibility of having assumed it, and she and her friends must contend with a grim fact: the revelation of their identity is not an answer but another question—and one with terrifying implications.

Not a lot to go on, other than some basic info.  I'll still be waiting to read it, and hope to get an egalley once again.

So that's my pick for the week, what are you eagerly awaiting on?

And while you're here, there are only a few more days to enter my October New Release Giveaway!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Promo Post and Giveaway: Bluescreen by Dan Wells

Bluescreen (Mirador #1)
by Dan Wells
Publisher: Balzer and Bray
Release Date: February 16th 2016
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Dystopia, Fantasy, Action, Teen


Los Angeles in 2050 is a city of open doors, as long as you have the right connections. That connection is a djinni—a smart device implanted right in a person’s head. In a world where virtually everyone is online twenty-four hours a day, this connection is like oxygen—and a world like that presents plenty of opportunities for someone who knows how to manipulate it.

Marisa Carneseca is one of those people. She might spend her days in Mirador, the small, vibrant LA neighborhood where her family owns a restaurant, but she lives on the net—going to school, playing games, hanging out, or doing things of more questionable legality with her friends Sahara and Anja. And it’s Anja who first gets her hands on Bluescreen—a virtual drug that plugs right into a person’s djinni and delivers a massive, non-chemical, completely safe high. But in this city, when something sounds too good to be true, it usually is, and Mari and her friends soon find themselves in the middle of a conspiracy that is much bigger than they ever suspected.

Dan Wells, author of the New York Times bestselling Partials Sequence, returns with a stunning new vision of the near future—a breathless cyber-thriller where privacy is the world’s most rare resource and nothing, not even the thoughts in our heads, is safe.

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Follow the Bluescreen by Dan Wells Blog Tour and don't miss anything! Click on the banner to see the tour schedule.

Dan Wells is a thriller and science fiction writer. Born in Utah, he spent his early years reading and writing. He is he author of the Partials series (Partials, Isolation, Fragments, and Ruins), the John Cleaver series (I Am Not a Serial Killer, Mr. Monster, and I Don't Want To Kill You), and a few others (The Hollow City, A Night of Blacker Darkness, etc). He was a Campbell nominee for best new writer, and has won a Hugo award for his work on the podcast Writing Excuses; the podcast is also a multiple winner of the Parsec Award.

  • Prize: Win (1) of (2) copies of BLUESCREEN by Dan Wells (US Only) 
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Monday, February 22, 2016

Blog Tour Review and Giveaway: Kingdom of Ashes (A Wicked Thing #2) by Rhiannon Thomas

Kingdom of Ashes (A Wicked Thing #2)
by Rhiannon Thomas
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: February 23rd 2016
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Retellings, Fairy Tales, Romance, Magic, Fiction, Teen


Asleep for a hundred years, awoken by a kiss, Aurora’s life was supposed to be a fairytale. But since discovering that loyalty to the crown and loyalty to her country are two very different things, Aurora knows she can only dream of happily ever after. Once the enchanted princess, savior of her people, she is now branded a traitor.

Aurora is determined to free her home from the king’s tyrannical rule, even if it means traveling across the sea to the kingdom of the handsome and devious Prince Finnegan—someone who seems to know far more about her magic than he should. However, Finnegan’s kingdom has perils of its own, and any help he gives Aurora will come at a price.

As Aurora and Finnegan work together to harness her power—something so fiery and dangerous that is as likely to destroy those close to Aurora as it is to save them—she begins to unravel the mysteries surrounding the curse that was placed on her over a century before…and uncover the truth about the destiny she was always meant to fulfill.

Brimming with captivating fantasy and life-threatening danger, the sequel to A Wicked Thing takes Sleeping Beauty on an adventure unlike any she’s ever had before.

First I have to say thanks to Harper Teen and Edelweiss for allowing me to read an e-galley of this title.  The first book in the series, A Wicked Thing, is one that I really enjoyed the unique way the author re-told the story of Sleeping Beauty.  And the story went in such a different way than I could ever have guessed, leaving me hanging to know where this second book would go.  If you haven't read the first book, I can't promise there won't be spoilers for that one in my review here of the 2nd one.  So you should stop reading my review, and skip on to the stuff about the author and giveaway down below. 

At the end of the last book, Aurora ran away from Prince Rodric and his power-hungry father.  But not before she let loose the fire magic that she had learned she had.  She has run away, and has the help of someone unexpected, Nettle, a girl that had helped with the rebellion group she'd met through Tristan.  It turns out though, that Nettle is actually a spy for Prince Finnegan.  Nettle brings Aurora to him and his kingdom.  Knowing that maybe his mother, the queen, can help her out.  But she knows that she wants to keep not only herself, but her kingdom as well, safe from the witch Celestine.  While she is in Finnegan's kingdom, she will learn more about the history of Celestine as well as the original witch, the one her own kingdom is named after.  She will venture out to see the dragons, and learn that maybe she has an affinity with them, since her powers are fire related.  Finnegan will help her work to control her powers, and together they will work to get her ready to go back and take back the kingdom that is rightfully hers.  It won't be easy though. Once again she'll have to figure out who can she really trust.  And Celestine will be close by, leaving a threatening message showing it even.  Even Finnegan's mother may want to use Aurora for what she can give to her kingdom, whether it is good for Aurora, or Aurora's kingdom.  And the dragons themselves, can Aurora learn to control them with the connection she feels?  Or is it all a farce, a show being put on by Celestine to trick Aurora into doing what she wants?

As the story came to an end, I knew there were still many things to be settled.  While a lot of questions had been answered in this book, many more were created by the end of the story.  So thank goodness that there will be third book in the future.  Again this definitely goes in a way different direction than one would think for this story, but I loved how the author still tied in little bits of the original story to keep you feeling as if it was that familiar world you came to know in the original Sleeping Beauty fairy tale.

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Follow the Kingdom of Ashes by Rhiannon Thomas Blog Tour and don't miss anything! Click on the banner to see the tour schedule.

Rhiannon Thomas is a recent graduate from Princeton University, where she studied English and Japanese, and smuggled bubble tea into the library on a regular basis. She now lives in York, England. 

As well as reading and writing YA fiction, she runs the blog, where she discusses TV, books, and all kinds of fannish things from a feminist perspective. 

I don't hang out on Goodreads much, so if you want to contact me, please swing by my personal website or message me on Twitter.

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