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February 10, 2016

Review and Interview: The Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutskie




The Abyss Surrounds Us
Emily Skrutskie
Page Count: 288
Publisher: Flux
Published On: 2/8/16

Cover: 3.5/5
At first I wasn't a fan of the spacey background and animated character but now after reading the book I do think it's fits.

Characters: 5/5
Reckoners are a huge part of the book. They are basically genetically modified creatures used to protect ships from pirates. They take the best attributes of several creatures and put them in an egg. When this embryo hatches it is up to the trainers to start work immediately. Cas has two reckoners we get to read about in some detail.

Cassandra aka Cas is a Reckoner trainer in training. She has potential to be the greatest but her inability to follow directions-hard fast rules- is her downfall. I do love how we get to watch her grow into her feelings. At times she has to make pretty harsh decisions but she does so with a planned grace.

Santa Elena the criminal pirate. All she wants is a Reckoner for her ship so she can rule the seas with her crew. Even though she is supposed to be the "evil" villain in this story I enjoyed how she went about her piracy. Yes she is using Cas for the Reckoner pup but she also seems to care about what Cas has to say. Santa Elena has a past and I would love a novella about it.

Plot: 5/5
Pirates, giant genetically modified creatures and one girl who controls the fate of this world. If a Reckoner pup falls into the hands of pirates the balance of the trade and travel route will be thrown off. Cas a new trainer will have to step up to the plate and do the job she's been training half her life for. If she fails the pirates win, if she succeeds her family will never speak to her again but she will have freedom. The lengths Cas goes to protect those she has come to trust ignores the evil she has been told pirates are.

Overall Rating: 5/5
This is a mash-up novel with a little science and little fantasy and a dash of romance. This was one of my most anticipated debuts and I'm so glad I received an early copy.



Pick up your copy of The Abyss Surrounds Us NOW!!


1. Did you listen to a playlist while writing?
During the actual act of putting words on a page, I can't be listening to music with lyrics. It's something about focusing on one language at a time. I can work if I put on a film soundtrack, but music with words just slows down my thought process. I do keep an inspiration playlist though, full of songs that remind me of the story I'm working on.

2. Want to share your playlist?
Sure! My playlist for THE ABYSS SURROUNDS US can be found on my Spotify account here: https://open.spotify.com/user/skrutskie/playlist/5TF26RwvPKPkRJeuzpTotg

3. Outside your book who would you "Ship" your MC with?
Tough question! Cas is pretty choosy when it comes to romantic stuff, so it'd have to be someone who she can really connect with. Is it cheating if I pick someone from my CP's upcoming book? Because Daphne, from Tara Sim's TIMEKEEPER, is exactly Cas's type—a no-nonsense blonde who isn't afraid to mix it up. 

4. Describe your book using emoticons.


5. Why YA as your genre?

I started writing YA as a fifteen-year-old, figuring that because I was a young adult, that's where my voice fit best. Now, six years later, not much has changed. YA literature has always appealed to me because it's so story-driven. There's a constant need to be an efficient storyteller, and that's something I really value when I write. Maybe as I get older, my voice and style will shift into the territory of adult, but right now, YA is home.


TTFN,
Ashley

February 06, 2016

Review: Revenge and The Wild by Michelle Modesto

Revenge and The Wild

Author: Michelle Modesto

Published On: 2/2/16
Page Count: 384
Synopsis: (Found on Goodreads)
The two-bit town of Rogue City is a lawless place, full of dark magic and saloon brawls, monsters and six-shooters. But it’s perfect for seventeen-year-old Westie, the notorious adopted daughter of local inventor Nigel Butler.
Westie was only a child when she lost her arm and her family to cannibals on the wagon trail. Nine years later, Westie may seem fearsome with her foul-mouthed tough exterior and the powerful mechanical arm built for her by Nigel, but the memory of her past still haunts her.


Overall Rating: 4/5
At first I was worried because of the amount of creatures named in the first few chapters. The info dumping ended by chapter 3 and made a lot of sense thanks to the chapters that followed. I fell for Alastair because I knew within an instant he would sacrifice anything to keep Westie safe. (Wasn't a spoiler I promise)
I can't wait to go to the launch of this awesome book.

Cover: 5/5
The western style is awesome as is the burning swoopy font. Overall this cover is gorgeous and I can`t wait to get my hands on the finished copy.

Characters: 4.5/5
Westie: This girl is dead set on finding the people who killed her family. She will stop at nothing and I think that is terrifying. She has lost so much and doesn`t realize that she has other people who care about her to lose as well.

Nigel: He never had to be a father figure if he didn`t want to yet he took in a girl with a handicap he wasn`t sure he could ever fix. Then he was challenged by taking in another young man who would have been left to die by any other person. Nigel is strong and just wants whats best for those he cares about.

Alistair: Move over Logan I think Alistair Is going to be my newest book BF. He is honest and even with a face hidden behind a mask you can understand and feel what he feels for Westie long before she realizes it. The playful teasing and his reaction to Westie growing up.

Plot: 4/5
Everyone is terrified by the girl with the mechanical arm both creature and human alike. Westie is set on revenge. Out to kill the cannibals that are her family. She might have a safer life now than she did trying to cross over to California. There are some people about to enter her little bubble and make the world she knows come crashing down. There are twists and turns that you won't see coming and other that become easy to predict like the handsome Alistair the young man behind the metal mask.


Give this book a chance and don't let it go undetected. I want this book to have so much hype so others will pick it up out of sheer curiosity.

TTFN,

Ashley

February 03, 2016

Interview: Sarah Ahiers author of Assassin`s Heart


Assassin`s Heart
Author: Sarah Ahiers
Published On: 2/2/16
Publisher: HarperTeen
Page Count: 400
Synopsis: (Found on Goodreads)

In the kingdom of Lovero, nine rival Families of assassins lawfully kill people for a price. As a highly skilled member of one of these powerful clans, seventeen-year-old Lea Saldana has always trusted in the strength of her Family. Until she awakens to find them murdered and her home in flames. The Da Vias, the Saldanas’ biggest enemy, must be responsible—and Lea should have seen it coming. But her secret relationship with the Da Vias’ son, Val, has clouded her otherwise killer instinct—and given the Da Vias more reason than ever to take her Family down.





Do you relate to Lea in personality?
Ah, a little bit I guess. Lea is very loyal to the people in her life and I can be that way, too. But she’s also haughty and a bit entitled and I hope I’m not so much of either of those.

Where did you come up with these awesome names?
I spent a lot of time researching Italian names, both for places and for people or surnames. I wanted to get a feel of the sound. The place names I tried to make up (though later I found out a few of my made up place names actually are places!) and many of the people names I tweaked from their base name to try and make something new, since this is a fantasy world that isn’t earth

Combining The Godfather and R&J sounds interesting what made you write them together?
Well, it wasn’t fully intentional when I started out. I just really like mafia and mob families, and families at war with each other, which both R&J and The Godfather have in spades. And then I wanted to go for an Italian renaissance-esque feel for the setting which further evoked R&J I think.

When you write do you plot or just let it flow?
Oh I am very much a plotter. I have an outline and everything and even spend a bunch of time prewriting things before I build the outline. BUT! Nothing is strict. I’m allowed to change things and I almost always have to rewrite the outline once or twice while drafting to account for changes that are happening. And for ASSASSIN’S HEART I didn’t actually know the ending until I got there, which was new for me because I almost always know how things will end before I start writing.

How's the companion novel coming ;)
Hah! The draft is finished and sent in to my editor and I expect we’ll be working on it steadily during 2016

What brain foods help you with writing?
I try not to snack while writing because I just won’t stop eating anything that’s in front of me. I will eat it all and not even realize it. But I absolutely must have water on my desk at all times when writing.

What books should we be on the lookout for in 2016?

Oh man, I’ve read so many great ones so far, and I have so many more to look forward to! For YA contemporary I really loved Rahul Kanakia’s ENTER TITLE HERE because it was so meta, or Parker Peevyhouse’s WHERE FUTURE’S END which is a collection of four stories that has a sort of fantasy-sci-fi twist. Or for horror Kali Wallace’s SHALLOW GRAVES and Janet B. Taylor’s INTO THE DIM for fantasy (though I’m really looking forward to getting my hands on Michelle Modesto’s REVENGE AND THE WILD even though I haven’t read it yet). Seriously, though, 2016 is going to be a GREAT year with some awesome reads.


About Sarah: 

I was born on a February afternoon 2 minutes before my twin sister. Angels wept or something, I suppose.Besides writing and reading, I enjoy dogs, animals, my family, board games, yard games, video games, cooking, gardening and dressing up for the MN Renaissance Festival.

Hope you Enjoyed the interview. Look forward to Assassin`s Heart Review sometime in the near future.

TTFN,
Ashley

February 02, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Historical Settings

Top Ten Tuesday
This week`s topic is Top Ten Historical Settings. I broke it up by different points in history. So let`s get started shall we.


Gold Rush Era:
Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson
Revenge and the Wild by Michelle Modesto
Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman

Circa 1800’s:
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
The Girl from Everywhere Heidi Heilig


France:
Reign: The Prophecy
Reign: Hysteria

Germany:
Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin

Russia:
Dreaming Anastasia by Joy Preble

The Crown`s Game by Evelyn Skye


What books have historical settings you love?

TTFN,
Ashley

January 30, 2016

Interview: Jeff Garvin author of Symptoms of Being Human


Title: Symptoms of Being Human
Author: Jeff Garvin
Published On: 2/2/16
Page Count: 352
Cover: 


Synopsis: (Found on Goodreads)
Riley Cavanaugh is many things: Punk rock. Snarky. Rebellious. And gender fluid. Some days Riley identifies as a boy, and others as a girl. The thing is . . . Riley isn’t exactly out yet. And between starting a new school and having a congressman father running for reelection in uber-conservative Orange County, the pressure—media and otherwise—is building up in Riley’s so-called “normal” life.

About Jeff: (Found on his Website )
Jeff Garvin grew up in Orange County, California, the son of a banker and a magician. He started acting in high school, and enjoyed a fifteen-year career including guest-starring roles in network television series ranging from The Wonder Years to Roseanne to Caroline and the City, as well as several independent features.While studying at Chapman University, Jeff won awards for classical guitar and visual storytelling before graduating with a BFA in Film. As the front man of his rock band, 7k, Garvin released three albums and toured the United States. When the band dissolved in 2011, Jeff, who had always written short stories and lyrics, found his passion in full-length fiction.

Why YA as your genre?

The books I read as a teenager helped me cope with the discomfort of being different. They also shaped me as a creative person. I still treasure those books—The Catcher in the Rye, the Dragonlance novels, etc. I always wanted to have that power to move and inspire young readers. I guess I wrote SYMPTOMS OF BEING HUMAN for my teenaged self. *Reaches back through time.* *Gives self a signed ARC.* *Alters timespace, creates wormhole.* Whoops. My bad.

What book would suggest to be on the lookout for besides yours?

THE SERPENT KING by Jeff Zenter will break your heart and then put it back together. SAVE ME, KURT COBAIN by Jenny Manzer is tense and moving and unpredictable. And, if you haven’t read MY HEART AND OTHER BLACK HOLES by Jasmine Warga, you’ll want to read that. Again with the heartbreak, but the good kind.

How long did you take you to get picked up by a publisher?

I was in a touring band until early 2011, when I decided to come off the road. I started writing seriously in April of that year. SYMPTOMS OF BEING HUMAN sold in June of 2014. So I guess about three years from start to sale. It seems at once much longer and much shorter, you know? Like that last week of summer before school starts. At first, it’s like, “I have seven whole days!” And then you blink, and you’re sitting in a classroom again, thinking, “WHAT HAPPENED TO MY LIFE?!”

How did you research?

Lots and lots and lots of reading: blogs, books, articles, academic papers. One-one-on conversations. Emails. Phone calls. But there is a fine line between “research” and “procrastination.” At some point, you just have to start writing, and then go back and fix stuff once the story has revealed itself. Writing is a discovery process for me. I always try to create from a blank space rather than filling in a template. Great. Now I have “Blank Space” stuck in my head. I’ll just be over here in the corner, singing to myself.


TTFN,
Ashley

January 27, 2016

Blog Tour: Reign of Shadows by Sophie Jordan


Author: Sophie Jordan
Page Count: 204
Published On: 2/9/16
Publisher: HarperTeen


ABOUT REIGN OF SHADOWS:

Seventeen years ago, an eclipse cloaked the kingdom of Relhok in perpetual darkness. In the chaos, an evil chancellor murdered the king and queen and seized their throne. Luna, Relhok’s lost princess, has been hiding in a tower ever since. Luna’s survival depends on the world believing she is dead.

But that doesn’t stop Luna from wanting more. When she meets Fowler, a mysterious archer braving the woods outside her tower, Luna is drawn to him despite the risk. When the tower is attacked, Luna and Fowler escape together. But this world of darkness is more treacherous than Luna ever realized.

With every threat stacked against them, Luna and Fowler find solace in each other. But with secrets still unspoken between them, falling in love might be their most dangerous journey yet.

With lush writing and a star–crossed romance, Reign of Shadowsis Sophie Jordan at her best.



ABOUT SOPHIE JORDAN:

Sophie Jordan took her adolescent daydreaming one step further and penned her first historical romance in the back of her high school Spanish class. This passion led her to pursue a degree in English and History.

A brief stint in law school taught her that case law was not nearly as interesting as literature - teaching English seemed the natural recourse. After several years teaching high school students to love Antigone, Sophie resigned with the birth of her first child and decided it was time to pursue the long-held dream of writing.

In less than three years, her first book, Once Upon A Wedding Night, a 2006 Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice Nominee for Best First Historical, hit book shelves. Her second novel, Too Wicked To Tame, released in March 2007 with a bang, landing on the USA Today Bestseller's List.

 My Stop:
For my part of the tour I have decided to share some fairytale type music that I felt fit the story. (Bare with me since I`ve never done a spotify share before.



Blog Tour Schedule:

Sophie's Tour Schedule:
  • St. Louis, MO
  • February 9, 2016
  • Main Street Books, off-site at Spencer Road Library, 7 PM
  • Naperville, IL
  • February 10, 2016
  • Anderson’s Bookshop, 7 PM
  • Washington, D.C.
  • February 11, 2016
  • Politics & Prose, off-site at the Bethesda Library, 7 PM
  • Fairfax, VA
  • February 12, 2016
  • Barnes & Noble, 7 PM
  • Bensalem, PA
  • February 13, 2016
  • Barnes & Noble, 1 PM
  • New York City
  • February 14, 2016
  • Books of Wonder, 4 PM
  • *Billed as “Epic Reads Presents: A Date with Royalty”
Giveaway:
3 Finished Copies of REIGN OF SHADOWS
Rafflecopter Code:


TTFN,
Ashley

January 24, 2016

Review: The Love That Split The World by Emily Henry

Author: Emily Henry
Published On: 1/26/16
Page Count: 316
I received this ARC for free in return for my honest opinion

Synopsis: (Found on Goodreads)
Natalie Cleary must risk her future and leap blindly into a vast unknown for the chance to build a new world with the boy she loves. 
Natalie’s last summer in her small Kentucky hometown is off to a magical start... until she starts seeing the “wrong things.” They’re just momentary glimpses at first—her front door is red instead of its usual green, there’s a pre-school where the garden store should be. But then her whole town disappears for hours, fading away into rolling hills and grazing buffalo, and Nat knows something isn’t right.
That’s when she gets a visit from the kind but mysterious apparition she calls “Grandmother,” who tells her: “You have three months to save him.”

Overall Rating: 5/5
Overall this novel is a captivating read. Natalie has to make some tough choices but what really kept me reading was the glimpses of an unordinary world.


Cover: 5/5
This is gorgeous and I wish I did an IG photo of it instead of using a photo app. The colors are so bright and I love that the girl is unzipping the sky by falling.

Characters: 4.5/5
Natalie: She is ready to leave her small town behind and has all these goals. Nat doesn`t talk about “grandmother” much but her best friend at least supports her theories.

Beau: Dang this boy. With the piano playing and mysterious air about him I couldn`t help but want to know more about him. Even when he goes missing (it gets explained) I still have him on my mind because he is the one that progresses the storyline.

Grandmother: Now this is a character I could get into and understand. Her stories are amazing and kept me wanting more. I would sometimes have the same response Natalie would have but other times I would get it before her.


Plot: 4.5/5
This is very contemporary heavy however it has a fantasy feel as well. There is of course the idea of different worlds. Emily makes these subtle changes in each world that make the plot thicken because you aren`t sure which world Nat and Beau are in. Although some parts are slow and I tended to want to skim if you just stick it out it picks up I promise.


TTFN,
Ashley


January 20, 2016

Interview: Emily Martin author of The Year We Fell Apart

Title: The Year We Fell Apart
Author: Emily Martin
Published On: 1/26/16
Page Count:320
Cover: 


Synopsis: (Found on Goodreads)
Few things come as naturally to Harper as epic mistakes. In the past year she was kicked off the swim team, earned a reputation as Carson High’s easiest hook-up, and officially became the black sheep of her family. But her worst mistake was destroying her relationship with her best friend, Declan.

Now, after two semesters of silence, Declan is home from boarding school for the summer. Everything about him is different—he’s taller, stronger…more handsome. Harper has changed, too


About Emily: (Found on her Site )
Emily Martin lives and writes in the Greater Boston area, though she will always call Michigan home. She has a penchant for impromptu dance parties, vintage clothing, and traveling to new places. When not writing, she can be found hiking New England’s peaks, searching for the perfect cup of hot chocolate, or baking something pumpkin-flavored.




1) How long did it take you to write your book?
It took almost three years from first draft to final manuscript. This story started as a NaNoWriMo project in 2012, then was selected for Brenda Drake's Pitch Wars in 2013, during which I rewrote about 75%. After signing with my agent, I revised with her before going on sub, then spent the better part of a year revising with my editor! 

2) What inspires you most to write?
I draw inspiration from a lot of places. THE YEAR WE FELL APART was inspired in part by my own high school experiences, and the pressures and standards a lot of teen girls face. But anything that heightens my emotions--a memory, a song, a story I read in the newspaper--inspires me to write.

3) Growing up what were your favorite authors/books?
I LOVED Roald Dahl growing up, and in high school my favorite book was I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith. (I still adore that book!)

4) Did you listen to music while writing? If so can we glimpse the playlist. 
I do! For THE YEAR WE FELL APART, my playlist was very Sia-heavy. I played her song, "Breath Me" about a hundred times while writing the first draft. I also listened to a lot of Radiohead, Florence + The Machine, and Ben Harper while writing this book.

5) If you could be reborn in a different era when would you choose?
Ooh, tough question! As a lover of vintage clothing, I've always been partial to the full skirts of the 1950's. The political climate at the time would be a bit difficult to handle... But the clothesss!


TTFN,
Ashley

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