Tuesday, September 16, 2014

{Interview/Giveaway} Sherry Thomas, Author of THE PERILOUS SEA

Week One:
9/8/2014- A Book and a LatteInterview
9/9/2014- Such a Novel IdeaReview
9/10/2014- FiktshunGuest Post
9/11/2014- The Irish Banana ReviewReview
9/12/2014- Bewitched BookwormsInterview

Week Two:
9/15/2014- Two Chicks on BooksGuest Post
9/16/2014- A Backwards StoryInterview
9/17/2014- Carina's BooksGuest Post
9/18/2014- NerdophilesReview
9/19/2014- Candace's Book BlogReview

Stop back tomorrow for my tomorrow for my review of 
THE PERILOUS SEA!

You can see my review of Book 1,
THE BURNING SKY,
right now!!!

THE BURNING SKY is only $1.99 right now on
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo
WHAT A GREAT DEAL!!!

Happy Book Birthday to 
THE PERILOUS SEA
by Sherry Thomas!






Sherry Thomas is one of the most acclaimed romance authors working today. Her books regularly receive starred reviews from trade publications and are frequently found on best-of-the-year lists. She is also a two-time winner of Romance Writers of America's prestigious RITA® Award. 

English is Sherry's second language—she has come a long way from the days when she made her laborious way through Rosemary Roger's Sweet Savage Love with an English-Chinese dictionary. She enjoys digging down to the emotional core of stories. And when she is not writing, she thinks about the zen and zaniness of her profession, plays computer games with her sons, and reads as many fabulous books as she can find. 

Sherry’s next book, THE PERILOUS SEA, volume two of her young adult fantasy trilogy, will be available fall 2014. Author photo by the lovely and talented Jennifer Sparks Harriman at Sparks Studio
Author Links:
Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook

An interview with 
Sherry Thomas

What has been your favorite scene to write in the trilogy? The hardest?

The most difficult thing to write in the trilogy has been the very beginning—I stopped counting after the 10th or 12th version. The opening of the story should give readers a fairly accurate idea of what to expect—to let them know whether they are to read a sweet contemporary love story or an epic set in a different galaxy altogether. 

And that’s where I had a problem. I needed to lay sufficient groundwork to establish how and why Iolanthe, my girl protagonist, brought down the bolt of lightning that started it all. But that would give readers the mistaken impression that the story takes place in a setting completely separate from our world, and that couldn’t be further from the truth, what with my mages attending a boys’ boarding school that still stands today and all the fun of Iolanthe passing herself off as one of those boys. 

So after many, many different drafts, I wrote something of a little foreword, basically telling readers what they are going to read, i.e., young mages overthrowing the dark lord from a muggle school. That snippet is a personal favorite. 

The epilogue of THE BURNING SKY is another scene I really enjoy.

How did you come up with the various types of magic and their uses when developing your world?

I think the balance, in this case, is not terribly tricky. The trilogy feels historical because part of it is set in Victorian England, and that is history to us. But the mage realms are urban and highly organized, with very fast travel and fairly instantaneous communication—more like the developed nations of the 21st century and not at all medieval or agrarian. 

My mages do not think like medieval folks either. They are accustomed to such things as cultural diversity and gender equality. Titus pulled his hair out for a moment when he found out that the elemental mage he’s been waiting for is a girl, but not because he doesn’t believe girls could be powerful enough, but simply because he didn’t know what to do with a girl given that he lives at a school for boys. 

Good world-building, to me, is the sense that this setting has a greater history, richness, and dimensions than can be explored in the pages of one book. In my books I use footnotes, but basically any kind of well-chosen detail can give reader an interesting peep into the depths of your world.

If you were stranded in a desert with a tote full of survival goodies, what would you make sure to have on-hand?

Oy, a desert is tough. I guess I would have that tote be packed full of bottled water, plus a couple pounds of calory-dense food like chocolate, and a mirror that I can flash in all directions, hoping to alert someone to my presence and be rescued before my water runs out!

How did you come up with the idea of The Crucible? I would love jumping around from fairy tale to fairy tale, dangerous as it may be. Is there any one realm within the book that you love the most?

The Crucible is my take on the Construct from The Matrix, i.e., the virtual reality place where Neo goes to train in martial arts, where he and Morpheus have that cool hand-to-hand combat. And since I write fantasy, well, fairy tales serve as pretty good training grounds, since a lot of them are pretty darn dangerous, full of dark woods and terrible creatures. 

Let’s see, my personal favorite. In THE PERILOUS SEA, I mention a made-up story in the Crucible called “The Queen of Seasons.” The queen has a summer villa that is flat-out fantastic, because I based it on Villa Balbianello on Lake Como. (You have seen the villa—it has been used in Star Wars Attack of the Clones and Casino Royale, the James Bond origin story.)
What made you transition from writing adult romance to YA fantasy? Did anything change when it came to your writing style or process?

I haven’t transitioned--I am still publishing historical romances and will still be writing more books for the adult market in the future—so it’s more like I added to my repertoire. Which makes me happy, because I enjoy doing different things. 

I don’t think anything changed when I wrote my YA books. I am still the one who have to read the darn thing a dozen times, so I am still writing to satisfy myself first and foremost. The stories are different, but the process and the style remain the same.


Okay, this is a question that's pretty spoilery, but...2015 is so very, very far away. Can you whisper any secret tidbits to tide us over for the next year? ;)

Ummm, there might be a hot air balloon somewhere? ^.~

 ~*~
O F F I C I A   I N F O:

Title: THE PERILOUS SEA
Author: Sherry Thomas
Release Date: Sept. 16, 2014
Publisher: Balzer + Bray / HarperCollins
Received: For Review
SUMMARY:

After spending the summer away from each other, Titus and Iolanthe (still disguised as Archer Fairfax) are eager to return to Eton College to resume their training to fight the Bane. Although no longer bound to Titus by a blood oath, Iolanthe is more committed than ever to fulfilling her destiny—especially with the agents of Atlantis quickly closing in. 

Soon after arriving at school, though, Titus makes a shocking discovery, one that makes him question everything he previously believed about their mission. Faced with this devastating realization, Iolanthe is forced to come to terms with her new role, while Titus must choose between following his mother's prophecies—and forging a divergent path to an unknowable future.
~*~

****Giveaway*****

Ready to check out
THE BURNING SKY
and its brand-new sequel
THE PERILOUS SEA?

Enter to win...


For First Place 
(US Only):

1 winner will receive: 

The Burning Sky, The Perilous Sea, and The Hidden Blade and a handmade solid lotion bar and some homemade face scrubs, plus a burning sky bag. 

Runners Up: 
(US Only) 
2 winners will receive The Burning Sky, The Perilous Sea, and The Hidden Blade. 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, September 15, 2014

{Review/Giveaway} THE BURNING SKY by Sherry Thomas


Week One:
9/8/2014- A Book and a LatteInterview
9/9/2014- Such a Novel IdeaReview
9/10/2014- FiktshunGuest Post
9/11/2014- The Irish Banana ReviewReview
9/12/2014- Bewitched BookwormsInterview

Week Two:
9/15/2014- Two Chicks on BooksGuest Post
9/16/2014- A Backwards StoryInterview
9/17/2014- Carina's BooksGuest Post
9/18/2014- NerdophilesReview
9/19/2014- Candace's Book BlogReview
Stop back tomorrow for my tour stop as I interview Sherry Thomas, and check back this week for my review of THE PERILOUS SEA!!!

THE BURNING SKY is only $1.99 right now on
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo
WHAT A GREAT DEAL!!!

B O O K   T R A I L E R:



O P E N I N G   L I N E:

     JUST BEFORE THE START OF Summer Half, in April 1883, a very minor event took place at Eton College, that venerable and illustrious English public school for boys. A sixteen-year-old pupil named Archer Fairfax returned from a three-month absence, caused by a fractured femur, to resume his education. 
     Almost every word in the preceding sentence is false. Archer Fairfax had not suffered a broken limb. He never before set foot in Eton. His name was not Archer Fairfax. And he was not, in fact, even a he.
     This is the story of a girl who fooled a thousand boys, a boy who fooled an entire country, a partnership that would change the fate of realms, and a power to challenge the greatest tyrant the world has ever known.
     Expect Magic. 

This review was first published at A Backwards Story on September 20, 2013.

There should be more buzz surrounding THE BURNING SKY than there is. It was unputdownable, a book not to be forgotten. It lingers with you when the last page is done, making it impossible to just dive into something new right away. It's blurbed by fantasy authors I love such as Rae Carson, Sarah J. Maas, Marie Lu, and Cinda Williams Chima. It has aspects of beloved series, while still remaining wholly its own entity. When I first heard of the book, it was blurbed as Kristin Cashore meets Cinda Williams Chima, but I drew my own comparisons.The fact that Iolanthe must masquerade as a boy in order to hide out at an all-boys boarding school is reminiscent of Tamora Pierce's fantasy staple Song of the Lioness quartet. Iolanthe has mastered three of the four elements, but struggles with air, which reminds me of Nickelodeon tv series Avatar: The Legend of Korra. J.K. Rowling's beloved Harry Potter series can be seen in the way the magic realm is kept separate from the mortal realm, that Iolanthe and Prince Titus practice magic in a hidden lab or dive into the pages of the Crucible, or even, if you're really looking for it, the way the boys love playing cricket. I was first drawn to the series when I saw an e-ARC comparing the book to Cashore, had a co-worker recommend it to me when she saw the same e-blurb after I'd forgotten about it, then remembered the book a third time at BEA when in line at HarperCollins for an ARC of Amy Tan's THE VALLEY OF AMAZEMENT. Everyone was lined up for THE BURNING SKY, and I was like, "What is this book?" and hopped into the line as soon as I had my Amy Tan. Third time is the charm, though, because only then, looking at the summary and hearing the enthusiasm, did I become genuinely excited about this novel. I wish I'd been excited sooner. It deserves that. The buzz around this book should be bigger than it is, and I feel it may not be because high fantasy doesn't sell as well as other genres. And that's sad, because it's my favorite!

Iolanthe Seabourne is a registered Elemental Mage III, meaning she is able to control three unique elements. What she doesn't know is that she can actually control all four and is a highly sought-after, extremely rare Elemental Mage IV. Her ability to manipulate air has been suppressed since childhood, and she was never told about it. If she had been, Atlantis would have descended and stolen her away to be used and discarded by the Bane. It has been prophesized that Iolanthe will destroy the Bane and save the realm, aided by Prince Titus, who has been preparing for the moment their fates become entwined. He was forewarned of her arrival and his own destiny by his deceased mother, who had been a Seer. He knows that his mother foresaw his demise on the road to victory, but is determined to help Iolanthe, defend his kingdom, and destroy the Bane once and for all.

Action! Adventure! Mystery! Intrigue! Deception! Romance! What more do you want in a book? HarperCollins' Balzer + Bray imprint always puts out great, engaging fantasy. I often want to read a book just because it's from this imprint (And their other imprint, Greenwillow Books, is also fabulous). THE BURNING SKY is no exception. I read it with no expectations, and finished wanting more. I have a love-hate relationship with series when I don't wait to read them in one gulp, because I hate waiting. At the same time, I don't want to wait that long to enjoy something! Lose-Lose situation... Iolanthe and Prince Titus are both great characters. Iolanthe starts off as a bright-eyed, innocent girl, but quickly becomes wary and jaded. At the same time, she is still that girl at her core, and I loved watching her struggle to accept the fate Destiny had thrust upon her. And Prince Titus! He knows the mark of death rests upon him, but is determined to set things right. He has spent years developing an uncaring, arrogant persona to the public and hiding the lovable guy he truly is. He makes it seem like he has no great magical abilities, while in reality, he's extremely powerful in his own right...and he does it all in the name of Destiny. Neither he nor Iolanthe go into this planning to fall in love, but their journey promises to twine them together in more ways than one. There are some great unique elements in the novel as well. I love that steads such as the pegasus can have rubbery, spike-tipped wings. They're not just beautiful, but deadly, too. Great twist! I love the idea of the Crucible, a book that Iolanthe and Prince Titus go into when they need to practice. There are different realms, challenges and obstacles...and the fairy tale lover in me is secretly a fan of the way Prince Titus seems to favor the Sleeping Beauty tower guarded by wyverns.

I would definitely recommend THE BURNING SKY if you're looking for a great fantasy to sweep you away and make you forget everything else. It's reminiscent at times of other books, but not in a way that ever detracts. Instead, it's easy to focus on the story as its own entity, and to covet more upon reaching the final pages (But not in a cliffhanger way! Just in a "please don't be over" way).
~*~
C O V E R   D E S I G N:

HarperCollins spent a lot of time fiddling with this cover. It was originally going to look like:



Some elements are the same, like the awesome title font and the kingdom on the cover. It's the how that's changed. It's also brighter and more eye-catching now. The elements being displayed are fiercer. The cover was great before, but it's more intimidating and epic-looking now.

I love the way the elements bleed into the interior, too:



I sort of wish the lightning was striking the title to that extent on the cover, too, because it looks mad awesome, but it may have ended up making the cover look too busy, causing the idea to be nixed?

Continuing on with my interior gushing...

You see how there's a diamond between the K and Y in the title THE BURNING SKY? It's in every chapter heading, too:



I like when everything matches up like that! I also like that the number is bigger than the word "Chapter," just like how the title THE BURNING SKY gets bigger as you read it!

There's so much to like about this cover! I see something new every time, and everything is related to the book, from the mountains in the distance to the wayward feathers that are blink-and-you-miss-them surrounding the word "SKY."
   ~*~
O F F I C I A   I N F O:

Title: THE BURNING SKY
Author: Sherry Thomas
Release Date: Sept. 17, 2013
Publisher: Balzer + Bray / HarperCollins
Received: For Review
SUMMARY:

It all began with a ruined elixir and an accidental bolt of lightning… 

Iolanthe Seabourne is the greatest elemental mage of her generation—or so she's being told. The one prophesied for years to be the savior of The Realm. It is her duty and destiny to face and defeat the Bane, the greatest mage tyrant the world has ever known. A suicide task for anyone let alone a sixteen-year-old girl with no training, facing a prophecy that foretells a fiery clash to the death. 

Prince Titus of Elberon has sworn to protect Iolanthe at all costs but he's also a powerful mage committed to obliterating the Bane to avenge the death of his family—even if he must sacrifice both Iolanthe and himself to achieve his goal. 

But Titus makes the terrifying mistake of falling in love with the girl who should have been only a means to an end. Now, with the servants of the Bane closing in, he must choose between his mission and her life.

~*~
Sherry Thomas is one of the most acclaimed romance authors working today. Her books regularly receive starred reviews from trade publications and are frequently found on best-of-the-year lists. She is also a two-time winner of Romance Writers of America's prestigious RITA® Award. 

English is Sherry's second language—she has come a long way from the days when she made her laborious way through Rosemary Roger's Sweet Savage Love with an English-Chinese dictionary. She enjoys digging down to the emotional core of stories. And when she is not writing, she thinks about the zen and zaniness of her profession, plays computer games with her sons, and reads as many fabulous books as she can find. 

Sherry’s next book, THE PERILOUS SEA, volume two of her young adult fantasy trilogy, will be available fall 2014. Author photo by the lovely and talented Jennifer Sparks Harriman at Sparks Studio
Author Links:
Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook 
~*~
****Giveaway*****

Ready to check out
THE BURNING SKY
and its brand-new sequel
THE PERILOUS SEA?

Enter to win...


For First Place 
(US Only):

1 winner will receive: 

The Burning Sky, The Perilous Sea, and The Hidden Blade and a handmade solid lotion bar and some homemade face scrubs, plus a burning sky bag. 


Runners Up: 
(US Only) 
2 winners will receive The Burning Sky, The Perilous Sea, and The Hidden Blade. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, September 14, 2014

{Review/Giveaway} OF MONSTERS AND MADNESS by Jessica Verday

Follow the tour for more great reviews, author interviews, excerpts, and more!
The final stop is tomorrow at Pinky's Favorite Reads!



O P E N I N G   H O O K:

   MY BREATH IS QUICK. It abandons me, then rushes back so fiercely I fear I'm going to faint. The horrors--such horrors!--lie before me.
(Page 9, US e-book edition)


Fall is the season for everything creepy and crawly. It's during September and October that I most want to read atmospheric novels. Jessica Verday's new release OF MONSTERS AND MADNESS certainly lives up to the season. It's gothic and eerie, setting the mood on page one as it opens up a macabre, grisly scene.

After Annabel Lee's mother dies, she moves to the United States, where she moves in with the father she's never met and the grandfather she never even knew she had. But something dark and sinister is happening in Philadelphia and people are being murdered. Annabel Lee is safe only if she stays home...but with her father's strange experiments going on at night, is she as safe as she believes herself to be?

OF MONSTERS AND MEN uses elements from THE STRANGE CASE OF DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE by Robert Lous Stevenson and various Edgar Allen Poe pieces, especially his final poem "Annabel Lee." In fact, Annabel Lee is the novel's main character and Edgar Allen Poe plays a major role in the novel. (And I'll whisper to you that as I was reading, I kept having refrains of the song "Murder, Murder" from the Broadway musical Jekyll and Hyde in my head. Every time there was a new murder and the sordid details were revealed, I'd hear it all over again! (Go ahead and take a listen! There's also a visual video of the scene, complete with the dialogue cut from the song!)

If you're a fan of Megan Shepherd's THE MADMAN'S DAUGHTER (My Review) and its sequel HER DARK CURIOSITY, Verday's new tale will be right up your alley. These books belong next to one another on your bookshelf. Ironically, this past summer I read another book inspired by "Annabel Lee," ASHES ON THE WAVES by Mary Lindsey, though the two titles are wildly different from one another (My Review).


One really cool element of the novel, to me, that really embraced the mood was the backdrop of 1826 Philadelphia. From the moment Annabel Lee steps past Rittenhouse Square (Previously called Southwest Square until a recent renaming, teaching me new history about this city I've grown up taking advantage of) to the fact that Poe lived in the area (How did I never know this? Suddenly, I want to go exploring!), it enhanced my visual images of her surroundings because it was an area I was familiar with.

So if you want something to give you chills this season, OF MONSTERS AND MADNESS is the one to add to your list!
~*~
C O V E R   D E S I G N:

Creeeeeeeeepy!

If you're looking for an atmospheric book to read this fall, wouldn't you pick this one up on the cover alone? It definitely does its job!
  ~*~
O F F I C I A   I N F O:

Title: OF MONSTERS AND MADNESS
Author: Jessica Verday
Release Date: Sept. 9, 2014
Publisher: EgmontUSA
Received: For Review
SUMMARY:

A romantic, historical retelling of classic Gothic horror featuring Edgar Allan Poe and his character Annabel Lee, from a New York Times best-selling author. 

Summoned to her father's home in 1820's Philadelphia, a girl finds herself in the midst of a rash of gruesome murders in which he might be implicated. She is torn romantically between her father's assistants-one kind and proper, one mysterious and brooding-who share a dark secret and may have more to do with the violent events than they're letting on.
~*~
Jessica Verday is the New York Times best-selling author of The Hollow trilogy. She wrote the first draft of THE HOLLOW by hand, using thirteen spiral-bound notebooks and fifteen black pens. The first draft of THE HAUNTED took fifteen spiral-bound notebooks and twenty black pens. THE HIDDEN took too many notebooks and too many pens to count. She lives in Goodlettsville, Tennessee, with her husband. You can visit her online at www.jessicaverday.com.
~*~
****Giveaway*****

Ready to check out
OF MONSTERS AND MADNESS?

Enter to win...



A hardcover copy of
OF MONSTERS AND MADNESS
by Jessica Verday!
(US/CA)
a Rafflecopter giveaway