Saturday, February 28, 2015

{Guest Post/Autographed Book Giveaway} Behind the Scenes with Alethea Kontis as she reveals the missing FINAL chapter from her latest published novel DEAREST!

Hey bookworms!

I'm  honored to post not once, not twice, but THREE times this month for the DEAREST tour! 

Today, I'm helping to close out the tour with information on a special deleted chapter that
WASN'T IN THE BOOK!!!!

FOLLOW THE TOUR!
1 - Launch
2 - Lilac Reviews
3 - Special post @ Waterworld Mermaids

3 - Coffee Books & Art & The Book Lovers' Lounge
4 - Special post @ USA Today's Happy Ever After

4 - Buried Under BooksMommabears Book Blog, & Rabid Reads
5 - Interview @ J.T. Ellison

5 - Gidget Girls Reading
6 - Zerina Blossom & Geo Librarian
8 - Welcome to Book City
9 - Kelly P's Blog & Katy's Krazy Books
10 - Mel's Shelves & Jan Edwards
11 - Katie's Clean Book Collection
12 - A Backwards Story 
Wishful Endings
13 - Library of a Book Witch & The Quotable
14 - 
Biggest Literary Crushes post on @ Teen Reads
15 - The Written Adventure
16 - My Life Loves and Passion & Colorimetry
17 - I Am A Reader & The Library of the Seen

18 - Special post on @ Dear Teen Me
18 - Printcess & Living a Goddess Life & Melissa's Eclectic Bookshelf
19 - 100 Pages A Day & mrsjennyreads
20 - Books and Ashes & Addicted Readers
22 - Miss Little Book Addict YA House of Books
23 - SBM Book Obsession
24 - Deal Sharing Aunt
25 - Min Reads and Reviews
26 - Pieces of Whimsy & Wonderous Reviews
27 - The Scribbling Sprite
28 - Grand Finale


In Case You Missed It:

AND
Alethea's guest post,

~*~
I previously reviewed both ENCHANTED and HERO,
along with my review of her novella BLOOD & WATER!
(And an interview with ENCHANTED cover designer Christine Kettner!)


Alethea Kontis has also stopped by A Backwards Story several times to talk about her books, fairy tales, mermaids, and more because she's awesome like that! *loves her*

Here's her interview about ENCHANTED!
a flash fiction piece entitled "Well Behaved Mermaids Rarely Make Fairy Tales,"
a guest post on "Families in Fiction,"
a guest post on "The Real Peter Woodcutter,"
and two of her famous fairy tale rant videos, one about Rapunzel and one about Cinderella and how it inspired her novel ENCHANTED!
~*~



New York Times bestselling author Alethea Kontis is a princess, a goddess, a force of nature, and a mess. She’s known for screwing up the alphabet, scolding vampire hunters, turning garden gnomes into mad scientists, and making sense out of fairy tales. Alethea is the co-author of Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark-Hunter Companion, and penned the AlphaOops series of picture books. Her short fiction, essays, and poetry have appeared in a myriad of anthologies and magazines. She has done multiple collaborations with Eisner winning artist J.K. Lee, including The Wonderland Alphabet and Diary of a Mad Scientist Garden Gnome. Her debut YA fairy tale novel, Enchanted, won the Gelett Burgess Children’s Book Award in 2012 and was nominated for both the Andre Norton Award and the Audie Award in 2013.
Visit Alethea's websiteYouTube ChannelFacebook, and Twitter!



“Messenger, or the Missing Chapter from DEAREST”
by Alethea Kontis

The storm at the crossroads when an author and editor clash is always an interesting thing. I've certainly experienced my share of challenges while writing the Woodcutter Sisters so far! ENCHANTED, a labor of love that took me almost five years from brilliant idea to completed manuscript, was originally 107,000 words. I was asked to cut it down to 75,000. 
(You can watch me read a bunch of these deleted scenes 

Because of the surprise two-book contract that came on the heels of ENCHANTED, I only had about three months to write HERO. Somehow I did it--I didn't even read the first draft through before sending it off to my editor because I knew I'd end up looking at it at least six times more before it went to publication. Boy, was that revision letter a long one. Three pages of issues I needed to tackle, including the removal of a specific plot device that ran through the entire book. See, I decided that emotions that overflowed from the world below would find their way into the ice caverns of the White Mountains and be frozen there. Each emotion was a different color (there was a great scene where Saturday tasted Love and pretty much hated it). Saturday ended up killing the witch by forcefeeding her a stalagmite full of Truth, at which point the witch realized she didn't have Jack Woodcutter in her clutches after all. At the end, when the mountain was blown to pieces, the emotions were freed and became the Northern Lights. 

But now I had to take out the emotions. All of them, every single instance, which meant that I had to find a new way to dispose of my Bad Guy. I cried and threw things for two whole days. Then I sat down, accepted the challenge, and in one month rewrote about a third of HERO to make it the much stronger story it is today. 

Because I always knew DEAREST would be next after HERO, I had a blissful year in which to write it. My only real comments from the editor were to ramp up the romance between Tristan and Friday (which I had planned to do anyway), and to remove Chapter 20 in its entirety. 

Yup, you heard that right. ENCHANTED and HERO both have twenty Chapters. Dearest only has nineteen. Since I started DEAREST with a chapter from Conrad's point of view, I thought it fitting to end the book with his point of view as well. It was also my opportunity to tie the storyline back up with that at the end of HERO, since the two novels occur simultaneously. However, it did introduce a few new characters and the intentions to continue the adventure...as the good Season Finale to every TV show would. 

But DEAREST was not a TV show, and my editor thought that the novel reached a satisfying conclusion at the end of Chapter 19. She didn't want it to have a Lord of the Rings five-part ending...which I get...but the adventure still ends the way I wrote it. And the saga of the Woodcutters will continue on from that point. 

Those fans of DEAREST can now read Chapter 20 -- entitled "Messenger" -- on Kindle and Nook:

or

I put a cursory price of 99 cents on them so that folks new to the series wouldn't ruin the story for themselves or other fans on the internet. I kind of hate that I had to do that...but I thought it for the best, in the long run. 

And so...onward with the Woodcutters! Adventure awaits!

~*~
O F F I C I A L   I N F O:

Title:  DEAREST
Author: Alethea Kontis
Release Date: February 3, 2015
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Received: For Review
SUMMARY:

In her third book about the delightful Woodcutter sisters, Alethea Kontis masterfully weaves The Wild Swans, The Goose Girl, and a few other fine-feathered fairy tales into a magical, romantic companion novel to ENCHANTED and HERO.

Readers met the Woodcutter sisters (named after the days of the week) in Enchanted and Hero. In this delightful third book, Alethea Kontis weaves together some fine-feathered fairy tales to focus on Friday Woodcutter, the kind and loving seamstress. When Friday stumbles upon seven sleeping brothers in her sister Sunday's palace, she takes one look at Tristan and knows he's her future. But the brothers are cursed to be swans by day. Can Friday's unique magic somehow break the spell?



****Giveaway*****

Enter to win...


Win (1) of (3) Woodcutter Series Prize Packs, which include signed copies of ENCHANTED, HERO, and DEAREST!

US Only.

Enter now!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
 

Friday, February 27, 2015

{Picture Book Review] Celebrate Black History Month with PRINCESS CUPCAKE JONES AND THE MISSING TUTU by Ylleya Fields


O P E N I N G   L I N E:


(pg. 3, US Hardcover Edition)


It is so hard to find a great picture book series for children that is both fun for kids, colorful, and brimming with a great message. Even better is when the book features a diverse cast of characters. So many parents have complained that are too few fictional books with characters that look like their own children. So many available titles are non-fiction. When I heard about the Princess Cupcake Jones series, I was immediately intrigued for many reasons.

No matter who you are or what your background is, Princess Cupcake Jones is great for all children. Little kids obsessed with series such as Fancy Nancy and Pinkalicious or the Disney Princesses will especially love these books. It is so easy for kids to see themselves in these books, too. What little kid doesn't have a favorite tutu or princess dress or superhero cape of ninja outfit that he or she wears all day every day? Kids are obsessed with their favorite costumes and becoming their favorite characters. In PRINCESS CUPCAKE JONES AND THE MISSING TUTU, Cupcake has a beloved tutu. It's family portrait day, too, and Cupcake wants to wear her favorite outfit! What's a girl to do? Cupcake's mom teaches Cupcake the importance of putting her things back where they belong in order to find them again. Cupcake also finds some really cool things along the way like her missing red ball and magic trick book.

(This picture quality is due to the fact that I turned my flash off
because it was distorting the picture with light circles.
The actual image is much more vibrant!)

There's also a new adventure with Cupcake entitled PRINCESS CUPCAKE JONES WON'T GO TO SCHOOL that came out this past fall, a perfect edition to any child worried about going to school. That first day can be awfully scary, and many books feature this monumental occasion in fun ways that take the fear out and bring back the anticipation. I'm looking forward to what other adventures lie in store for Cupcake and her young readers in the future, and think that the two books out so far are a great start to introducing a new character that will be beloved by children from generations to come.


The Princess Cupcake Jones books are so much fun. There's also a secret game! Every single page of both books has the word "love" hiding somewhere on the page. Sometimes it's obvious, but sometimes you'll be looking for a while! It's so creative! I also like the way the pages rhyme in a way that's catchy and attention-grabbing.

I really hope this new picture book series is embraced by many new readers and becomes more mainstream in bookstores across the country. The more people that read and hear about a series, the more popular it gets. A local picture book author, Eli Kowalski, wrote a picture book series entitled KUSHKA, THE DOG NAMED CAT a few years ago, and it went from being a small local favorite to a book that is now being carried at every major bookstore across the country. I'm hoping the same success will happen to Ylleya Fields and her endearing creation Princess Cupcake Jones!

(And how can you help spread the word? Ask your local libraries and schools to order a copy to share with young readers!) 

O F F I C I A L   I N F O:


Title: PRINCESS CUPCAKE JONES AND THE MISSING TUTU
Author: Ylleya Fields
Illustrator: Michael LaDuca
Release Date: Sept. 2, 2013
Publisher: Belle Publishing LLC
Received: For Review
SUMMARY:

Princess Cupcake Jones loves creating a mess and ends up scattering her things everywhere in the castle! When her beloved tutu goes missing, Cupcake learns the importance of tidying up and putting things in their proper place. 

Join Princess Cupcake Jones as she searches her palace in hopes of finding her tutu and discovers hidden treasures along the way. 

As an added bonus in each book of the series, children will also have fun finding the hidden word in each inviting illustration. Helpful hints are a part of the book’s website, which also features downloadable color pages and other activities.

Official Cover Reveal with Apollycon Author Mary Ting Featuring FROM ORIGINS!



Tomorrow is Apollycon!!!

This week, in addition to the author spotlights we've been treating you to all week, Apollycon author Mary Ting is featuring the cover art for her brand new novel FROM ORIGINS!

If you like Greek mythology, the Descendant Prophecies series will be right up your alley.

Here's a refresher (or a first peek!) at the first two books in the series,
FROM GODS and FROM DEITIES:



And now, here's the cover to the brand new book!





OUT MARCH 27, 2015
Skylar, Mason, and the other descendants embark a deadly quest to the underworld to confront the evil Hades, who has been plotting to kill off the descendants of all the gods.

On this journey, they soon discover that the ancient gods are not dead as once believed but are held captive in a secret location. In order to save the world from destruction at the hands of Hephaestus, the descendants must set out on a crusade to rescue the gods.

In the process, Skylar learns more about her bloodline and her powers, but there is also a heavy price to pay. The darkest forces known to man are about to return to reclaim their stolen kingdom. 



TEASER

Seeing nothing but darkness through door one heightened my awareness, and the mist that slowly crept out like thin layer of clouds, spreading and covering our feet, brought another level of fright. The ground started to shake, then a sound like thunder boomed, getting louder…louder…until it sounded more like a stampede.

My imagination got the best of me as I envision buffaloes charging for us. Roaring sounds burst in the air when a dozen of the Cerberuses tried to charge through at once. I would have preferred the buffaloes, but instead, we got Hades’s guard dogs.

Their glowing red eyes were what I saw first, then their vampire like teeth, and last three heads to a body. With serpent’s heads on the tips of their tales and lion like claws, they looked like they could rip us to shreds as they dashed for us as if we were a gourmet meal.

“Cerberus. I should have guessed.” Zara quaked, standing next to Tara. Extending both of their arms up, they were creating a shied. Blazing light engulfed us.

“You should have guessed sooner, but I don’t think it would have mattered.” Nick’s eyes glowed, ready to fight. “Here puppy, puppy. Let’s play.”

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------



Mary Ting resides in Southern California with her husband and two children. She enjoys oil painting and making jewelry. Writing her first novel, Crossroads Saga, happened by chance. It was a way to grieve the death of her beloved grandmother, and inspired by a dream she once had as a young girl. When she started reading new adult novels, she fell in love with the genre. It was the reason she had to write one-Something Great. Why the pen name, M Clarke? She tours with Magic Johnson Foundation to promote literacy and her children’s chapter book-No Bullies Allowed.


Website | Facebook | GoodReads | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest 


Apollycon Featured Author: Spotlighting Jennifer L. Armentrout

TOMORROW IS APOLLYCON!!!!!!

This week, I'm featuring a series of author spotlights leading up to the event.
(Mixed in with a few upcoming blog tour posts to break things up a bit!)

With over 30 authors in attendance, the decision was hard, but ultimately, I decided to focus on authors I'll definitely be standing in line to meet.

I'm a featured blogger, so after the event, look forward to a big wrap-up post. I'm going with two friends, and we've had tickets for both the signing and the after-party since the day they went on sale in September.

WE ARE SO EXCITED!!!

Today, I'd like to introduce you to Jennifer L. Armentrout. Apollycon wouldn't even be possible without her. It was started as a launch party for her new novel THE RETURN, a spin-off of the popular Covenant series. Jen invited a few friends, and then a few more, and look at Apollycon now! It's going to be epic!

I've been a fan of Jens' since her debut novel HALF-BLOOD (The first in the Covenant series) came out. She writes for so many different ages and in so many different genres that there's truly something for everyone, from fantasy to romance. Apollycon reflects that, with a mix of fantasy authors, contemporary romance authors, YA authors, adult authors, etc. I've been to a few of her events now and they're always so much fun. I can't wait for tomorrow!!!

ApollyCon Featured Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout

About the Author

# 1 NEW YORK TIMES and USA TODAY Bestselling author Jennifer lives in Martinsburg, West Virginia. All the rumors you’ve heard about her state aren’t true. When she’s not hard at work writing. she spends her time reading, working out, watching really bad zombie movies, pretending to write, and hanging out with her husband and her Jack Russell Loki.

Her dreams of becoming an author started in algebra class, where she spent most of her time writing short stories….which explains her dismal grades in math. Jennifer writes young adult paranormal, science fiction, fantasy, and contemporary romance. She is published with Spencer Hill Press, Entangled Teen and Brazen, Disney/Hyperion and Harlequin Teen. Her book Obsidian has been optioned for a major motion picture and her Covenant Series has been optioned for TV.

She also writes adult and New Adult romance under the name J. Lynn. She is published by Entangled Brazen and HarperCollins.


Books




Recent Release


It’s been a year since Seth made the deal with the gods that pledged his life to them. And so far, the jobs they’ve given him have been violent and bloody – which is kind of all right with him. But now Apollo has something else in mind for Seth. He’s got to play protector while keeping his hands and fingers off, and for someone who really has a problem with restraint, this new assignment might be the most challenging yet.

Josie has no idea what this crazy hot guy’s deal might be, but it’s a good bet that his arrival means the new life she started after leaving home is about to be thrown into an Olympian-sized blender turned up to “puree”. Either Josie is going insane or a nightmare straight out of an ancient myth is gunning for her.

But it might be the unlikely attraction simmering between her and the golden-eyed, secret-keeping Seth that may prove to be the most dangerous thing of all.


Other Titles





Tickets are almost sold out! Get yours today!


Reserve a TICKET.


Full details can be found on the ApollyCon website.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

{Review +$20 GC/Book Bundle Giveaway} GATHERING FROST by Kaitlyn Davis

Love fairy tales and mythology?
Fans of mermaids, dragons, unicorns, and other mythical creatures?
Enjoy when a beloved classic tale is retold?
A Twist in the Tail Thursdays features all this and more!
&
Follow the Tour for more reviews, guest posts, and more!



O P E N I N G   L I N E:

    THE WORLD ENDED ON A Saturday in spring. Beautiful. Sunny. The sort of afternoon that pulled New Yorkers from their hibernation, urging them to shed their floor-length coats and stiletto boots, to let the sun kiss their pale skin once more.
    When the earthquake began, my mother and I were in Central Park. "Pedal!" I remember her shouting. "Pedal!" And I did. My little legs pumped in circles, my heart lifted as I felt her fingers release the bike, and suddenly I was riding on my own. For the first time. The breeze whipped against my grinning cheeks, stinging my eyes.
    But then the ground shook. The earth began to tremble. And I had no hope. In a flash, I was on the ground, sandwiched against the concrete as screams rose around me. Darkness stole my vision as my mother's arms encircled me, hugged me closer. Teeth chattering, I tried to be strong. But tears leaked from my eyes, the cries of a baby. Shame burned my chest.
    Time passed but my young mind had lost count. Minutes. Hours. I still don't really know. But when the ground stilled, I woke to a new world.
(pg. 10, US E-ARC edition)

I've often seen Kaitlyn Davis' Midnight Fire series around, but I'm not really into paranormal, so it never appealed to me. When I heard that she was coming out with a new series entitled Once Upon a Curse , I was immediately intrigued. Fairy tales are right up my alley! The first novel, GATHERING FROST, is more of an original retelling than it is based on anything specific. If the summary hadn't claimed that the story was tied to Sleeping Beauty I would have never suspected it, for the ties binding the two together are very loose. (The queen actually reminded me of The Snow Queen!) It didn't matter to me, though, because the story was so interesting and kept me reading to the point where I'd groan when I had to go to work or finish my lunch break. The next novel in the series, WITHERING ROSE, sounds like it will be much more closely connected with its inspiration save for a big twist: The beast will be the one to save Beauty!

The series centers around a new world: A major earthquake has forced our modern world to combine with one straight out of a fantasy. Young Jade sees a beautiful princess emerge and, in our Disney Princess-obsessed youth, thinks she will make everything right, never suspecting that she's actually embracing an evil queen. With the merger of two worlds, the New York City skyline is gone along with electricity and other modern conveniences. In its place is magic. The queen of Kardenia is able to wield it and bestow upon her subjects the gift of indifference. Nobody cares about their loved ones or has the ability to have feelings save for the occasional twinge of fear to keep them on their toes.

Jade was only six when the world shattered and remembers nothing about her former life. She's the only female in the queen's guard and a skilled fighter. She's okay with the ice in her heart; it's been there as long as she can remember. When the queen's son Asher resurfaces after being AWOL since the earthquake, the queen involves Jade in a plot to gain his trust and bring him back.  Jade allows Asher and the rebels to capture her and bring her to their base. In gaining Asher's trust, however, she finds her frozen heart thawing and realizes that, away from the queen's influence, she is able to have emotions again. Can Jade really embrace her past in favor of her newfound comrades when the queen still has an icy grip on her heart, or will she betray her new friends in order to finally be free?

I really enjoyed the way GATHERING FROST had the feel of a fairy tale despite being a completely original story. At only 200 ebook pages, I wished it was longer because I wasn't ready to say goodbye to the characters, but the length will feel perfect to many readers who feel bogged down by longer page counts. The romance was handled well, and had a lovely quality to it that will appeal to both younger and older readers, a line that's very hard to draw and walk along in YA. It's also more of a slow-build than it is insta-love, which I always appreciate, and it still had a fairy tale quality to it. I also really liked the way Jade grew as she learned to have her own thoughts and emotions. I wasn't anticipating the direction the novel took, either, and it kept me turning pages to figure out how the final climax would shake out. I really like the way the modern era merges with a more archaic one, and am excited to see that this has happened in more places around the world than just NYC (Sorry to all the characters facing crazy, evil monarchs, but !!!!!), which means many more books set in this world..and hopefully exploring many other countries and cultures!
 
GATHERING FROST was a fun, fast, engaging read, and I would definitely be willing to read another book from Davis in the future!
~*~
C O N T E N T R A T I N G S

Content Ratings: highlight between ( ) for details

Romance: PG13 ( kissing )
Language: PG+ ( super vague innuendo that won't be picked up by younger readers and still feels clean )
Violence: PG13 ( Death and murder )
Other:  --
~*~
C O V E R   D E S I G N:

This definitely had a fairy tale feel to it! I would pick it up blind at a bookstore to find out more! 

 I like the fact that, since Kaitlyn Davis is self-published, she designed the cover herself. It didn't look homemade...And the story was well-honed, too, like something I'd pick up in the store and enjoy!



~*~
O F F I C I A L   I N F O:

Title:  GATHERING FROST
Author: Kaitlyn Davis
Release Date: February 17, 2015
Publisher: Kaitlyn Davis
Received: For Review
SUMMARY:

Will his kiss be enough to revive her frozen heart?

Once Upon A Time meets La Femme Nikita in GATHERING FROST, a dystopian romance from bestselling author Kaitlyn Davis that reimagines the classic fairy tale of  Sleeping Beauty.

Jade was only a little girl when the earthquake struck. Before her eyes, half of New York City disappeared, replaced by a village that seemed torn out of a storybook. Horses and carriages. Cobblestone streets. A towering castle. And, above all, a queen with the magical ability to strip emotions away.

Ten years later and Jade has forgotten what it is to feel, to care...even to love. Working as a member of the queen's guard, she spends most of her time on the city wall staring at the crumbling skyscrapers of old New York. But everything changes when the queen's runaway son, Prince Asher, returns. Jade is tasked with an unusual mission--to let the Prince capture her, to make him trust her, and then to betray his secrets to the crown. In return, she'll earn her freedom. But life outside the queen's realm is more than Jade bargained for. Under Asher's relentless taunts, her blood begins to boil. Under his piercing gaze, her heart begins to flutter. And the more her icy soul begins to thaw, the more Jade comes to question everything she's ever known--and, more importantly, whose side she's really on.

~*~

****Giveaway*****

Enter to win...

$20 Amazon gift card 
and 
1 digital copy of the complete Midnight Fire series!


a Rafflecopter giveaway