Thursday, September 18, 2014

Marie Lu on The Young Elites

Despite the fact that I'm often drawn to dark works, I've frequently wondered how the creation of such work affects the creator. In order to really enter into those places, it seems like you'd have to go to a pretty dark place yourself. So it was interesting to sit in on a phone interview with Marie Lu last week where she discussed this very thing in relation to her new book, The Young Elites which is the origin story of a villain. First let me tell you a little bit more about the book.

It has a really gripping tagline:

Some hate us, think us outlaws to hang at the gallows.
Some fear us, think us demons to burn at the stake.
Some worship us, think us children of the gods.
But all know us.

And the official copy:

I am tired of being used, hurt, and cast aside.

Adelina Amouteru is a survivor of the blood fever. A decade ago, the deadly illness swept through her nation. Most of the infected perished, while many of the children who survived were left with strange markings. Adelina’s black hair turned silver, her lashes went pale, and now she has only a jagged scar where her left eye once was. Her cruel father believes she is a malfetto, an abomination, ruining their family’s good name and standing in the way of their fortune. But some of the fever’s survivors are rumored to possess more than just scars—they are believed to have mysterious and powerful gifts, and though their identities remain secret, they have come to be called the Young Elites.

Teren Santoro works for the king. As Leader of the Inquisition Axis, it is his job to seek out the Young Elites, to destroy them before they destroy the nation. He believes the Young Elites to be dangerous and vengeful, but it’s Teren who may possess the darkest secret of all.

Enzo Valenciano is a member of the Dagger Society. This secret sect of Young Elites seeks out others like them before the Inquisition Axis can. But when the Daggers find Adelina, they discover someone with powers like they’ve never seen.

Adelina wants to believe Enzo is on her side, and that Teren is the true enemy. But the lives of these three will collide in unexpected ways, as each fights a very different and personal battle. But of one thing they are all certain: Adelina has abilities that shouldn’t belong in this world. A vengeful blackness in her heart. And a desire to destroy all who dare to cross her.

It is my turn to use. My turn to hurt.

So as you can kind of see from that the book delves into some dark places of the mind. Marie was very candid in her interview with us about how that affected her as a writer and as a person. She mentioned that it was definitely the hardest book to write for this reason, but it's a challenge she came to when she realized her original character for the story was boring. :) She said that,

"Her family is twisted and terrible, and that rubbed off on her a lot. And it was kind of disturbing to have to get into that headspace, because I didn't experience any of that. And to be able to try to figure out a way to make this person do horrible things but also not make her totally unlikeable so that you're like, "God, I just want this character to die already" was a bit of a challenge too."

Well, if she'd made her a boy aka a bad boy, I'm sure that wouldn't have felt problematic. Just kidding! But she also mentioned that she got more depressed while writing this book than the others because of the headspace she had to put herself in....and one solution to make herself feel better was to go hug her dog. :)

She chose the title, The Young Elites, because it came to her first! But also because she liked it as a positive name for her characters who have a very derogatory name used against them in the book.

And while the world is a fantasy world in the book, it's one that borrows heavily from Renaissance Italy so it is very grounded in a time and place that is familiar! But she also drew inspiration from Assassin's Creed for the setting.

Talking to authors is one of my favorite parts of being a book blogger as I find it really interesting to hear about how something creative was born. Additionally, I found it really interesting to hear how writing about the darker stuff affects the writer!

You can learn more about The Young Elites by visiting the official website. And you can learn more about Marie by visiting her website!


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

CFBA Book Spotlight: The Curious Case of the Missing Figurehead by Diane Noble

About the Book: She’s Passionate about Solving the Case ... with the Town’s Life-Long Bachelor

El Littllefield runs The Butler Did It catering. It’s the perfect cover for her to solve “who-done-its” (nothing too dangerous, please!) in this small university town nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains. While catering her most important event yet—a fancy retirement dinner for Dr. Max Haverhill, life-long bachelor and history dean—countless guests fall ill, a 200 year-old relic is stolen, and her best friend vanishes. All in the first hour.

As El and Max race to solve the mystery, they discover there’s more to their relationship than simply solving the case. Welcome to Eden’s Bridge—the perfect small town setting for big intrigue, romance, and humor.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Get to Know Amy Dunne

Gone Girl is coming to theaters real soon, y'all in less than a month! I'm excited and I'm also excited that I'll be helping you get to know more about the book and film in these weeks leading up to the release.

So, today I'm excited to let you know all about Amy Dunne's Pinterest board. As you may know, in the upcoming movie thriller Gone Girl by David Fincher, ‘Amazing Amy’ Dunne (Rosamund Pike) has gone missing and all eyes are on her husband Nick (Ben Affleck.) Everyone is wondering ‘Did Nick kill his wife?’
As evidence mounts and speculation rises, Amy’s past is coming into focus on Pinterest. What was she like? What were her interests? Did she leave any clues? Explore for yourself!

Is that not awesome? Or should I say...amazing? ;)


Giveaway: To See the Moon Again by Jamie Langston Turner

About the Book

Every day of her life Julia Rich lives with the memory of a horrible accident she caused long ago. In the years since, she has tried to hide her guilt in the quiet routine of teaching at a small South Carolina college, avoiding close relationships with family and would-be friends. But one day a phone call from Carmen, a niece she has never met, disrupts her carefully controlled world.

Carmen is a study in contrasts—comical yet wise, sunny yet contemplative, soft yet assertive. As she sets about gently drawing Julia from her self-imposed solitude into a place of hope, she also seeks her own peace for past mistakes.

Together, the two women embark on a journey that takes Julia far from the familiar comfort of home and gives Carmen the courage to open her heart. Together, their sightseeing trip turns into a discovery of truth, grace, redemption, and, finally, love…

I have one copy of this book to give away to a US resident! Just fill out the form below for consideration!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Twelve Dancing Unicorns by Alissa Heyman illustrated by Justin Gerard

Twelve Dancing Unicorns is a delightful and gorgeously illustrated retelling of Grimm's 12 Dancing Princesses.

Okay, confession time. I don't actually know that fairy tale! But that in no way prevented me from completely enjoying this charming book. The king has 12 unicorns who somehow magically escape their golden chains each night. The king wants to know how, but his big strong guards can't tell him. So he ends up enlisting the help of a young girl who discovers something very magical about the unicorns, indeed!

The writing is very pretty and the words themselves evoke a sense of the magical and unknown. But the illustrations are just stunning, infused with light and charm and really help to make this book stand out. I think this would be a wonderful addition to anyone's picture book collection, young or old!

It has important ideas in it, ideas of bravery, courage, and love which are important, I think, at any age!

I am lucky enough to have a copy to give away to a US resident. Just fill out the form below by September 16, 2014.

Fun little note: As soon as I received my copy of this book in the mail, I realized I recognized the illustrator's name! Any fans of Andrew Peterson must as well! He painted the cover of my very favorite Andrew Peterson album, The Far Country and has illustrated some of his books. I want to give you Andrew's very generous words about Mr. Gerard's art: "It takes a special gift to do more with a picture than illustrate a scene. You could be at the top of your game as an artist in terms of skill and craft, and you could inspire admiration—but it’s another kind of artist who can inspire wonder. It’s a true artist who can make you hungry for beauty the way a the chef in the kitchen can make you hungry for dinner."

I do very much enjoy and appreciate the illustrations in Twelve Dancing Unicorns and I do think they are the kind that elevate the book because of how warm and wondrous they feel.

Anyway! It's always fun to discover these connections, but I know you're going to want to learn more about Twelve Dancing Unicorns. Follow the Twelve Dancing Unicorns blog tour tomorrow on Akron Ohio Moms.


Friday, September 5, 2014

CFBA Book Spotlight: Driftwood Tides by Gina Holmes

About the Book: He made himself an island until something unexpected washed ashore. When Holton lost his wife, Adele, in a freak accident, he shut himself off from the world, living a life of seclusion, making drifwood sculptures and drowning his pain in gin. Until twenty-three-year-old Libby knocks on his door, asking for a job and claiming to be a friend of his late wife. When he discovers Libby is actually his late wife’s illegitimate daughter, given up for adoption without his knowledge, his life is turned upside down as he struggles to accept that the wife he’d given saint status to was not the woman he thought he knew.

Together Holton and Libby form an unlikely bond as the two struggle to learn the identity of Libby’s father and the truth about Adele, themselves, and each other.

House of Wonder by Sarah Healy Giveaway!

About the Book

Theirs wasn’t always the misfit family in the neighborhood. Jenna Parsons’s childhood was one of block parties and barbecues, where her mother, a former beauty queen, continued her reign and her twin brother, Warren, was viewed as just another oddball kid. But as her mother’s shopaholic habits intensified, and her brother’s behavior became viewed as more strange than quirky, Jenna sought to distance herself from them. She is devoted to her career and her four-year-old daughter, Rose. But now, in his peculiar way, Warren summons her back to 62 Royal Court.

What she finds there—a house in disrepair, a neighborhood on tenterhooks over a rash of petty thefts, and evidence of past traumas her mother has kept hidden—will challenge Jenna as never before. But as she stands by her family, she also begins to find beauty in unexpected places, strength in unlikely people, and a future she couldn’t have imagined.

I have one copy of this book to give away to someone with a US address! Just fill out the form below to enter!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

A Hundred Pieces of Me by Lucy Dillon Giveaway!

About the Book: Reeling from her recent divorce, Gina Bellamy suddenly finds herself figuring out how to live on her own. Determined to make a fresh start—with her beloved rescue greyhound by her side—Gina knows drastic measures are in order.

First up: throwing away all her possessions except for the one hundred things that mean the most to her. But what items are worth saving? Letters from the only man she’s ever loved? A keepsake of the father she never knew? Or a blue glass vase that perfectly captures the light?

As she lets go of the past, Gina begins to come to terms with what has happened in her life and discovers that seizing the day is sometimes the only thing to do. And when one decides to do just that...magic happens.

Dog books are the best books am I right? Thanks to the publisher, I have one copy of this book to give away to a US resident. Just fill out the form below to enter!


Monday, September 1, 2014

September is here!

I am so happy even though it is still hot here and will remain hot for some time to come.

I very happily pulled out all my apple fragrances today and will be cheerfully using them throughout the season. YAY FALL.

Also, here on September first the Cardinals finally took sole possession of first place in their division and if you look at the stats it seems unlikely, but it is and so yay. Who knows if they will manage to hold on in this last month, but I have hope! Some of our key injured players are returning so there is reason to hope, if you know what I mean.

Also in September besides it being the last month of regular season baseball, the figure skating season kicks off with international senior B competitions and I'm excited for that! I've been paying some attention to junior competition but it's not the same so. The year after the Olympics, particularly this past Olympics is very exciting because there are lots of retirements and skaters will be fighting to establish themselves as the top contenders. Skating is really a four year narrative and so now is a GREAT time to suddenly get invested and join me in reblogging gifs or pretty people in silly costumes, okay?

AND, some fall TV starts though mostly not anything I'm particularly interested in. I will watch Syfy's new zombie show though when I watched the trailer, I was like...this looks like the show all the people who have never watched The Walking Dead think The Walking Dead is. Basically meaningless blood and guts. I mean TWD has a pretty big budget, but it's also a character drama with great acting and writing (I'm so tired of feeling like an apologist for this show or supressing the fact that you know what, I actually just love it unqualified). Most stuff seems to come on in October.

October is going to be even more awesome, I guess, but hey it's September now!

So I had to wander on over to Carl's blog to see if R.I.P. info was up and of course it was and it made me so happy. It's so nice to have small constants like that in this blogging world where everything changes all the time. I will try to follow along with what everyone's reading and maybe try this week to make a list of spooky books I would like to read.

Finally, I am so sorry that I was a terrible host for the zombie book club. I do hope to get caught up and post a massive discussion post.

Have a wonderful September everyone!