ARC Review: Missing by Kelley Armstrong

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The only thing Winter Crane likes about Reeve’s End is that soon she’ll leave it. Like her best friend did. Like her sister did. Like most of the teens born in town have done. There’s nothing for them there but abandoned mines and empty futures. They’re better off taking a chance elsewhere.

The only thing Winter will miss is the woods. Her only refuge. At least it was. Until the day she found Lennon left for dead, bleeding in a tree.

But now Lennon is gone too. And he has Winter questioning what she once thought was true. What if nobody left at all? What if they’re all missing?

review4/5 Stars

***I received this eARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley & Crown Books for Young Readers

+++Potential triggers for animal abuse/mutilation, abduction, violence, suicide, and physical abuse

Creepy, chilling, and all sorts of sinister, Missing is the kind of mystery that hits hard because of just how possible the situation is. 

This mystery is a challenge. There are so many clues that lead you in several directions. The reader, just like Winter, doesn’t know who to trust and what’s more, there are hints that suggest Winter is not psychologically sound or an entirely reliable narrator. I loved that the possibilities were endless and kept me guessing throughout, up until the very end. 

There are some seriously nightmare-inducing scenes. Some material may be triggering for readers, especially when it comes to animal abuse/mutilation. The adrenaline is high. Every snap of a twig, every laugh in the dark, every moment that makes you doubt, it’s a rush that will leave you breathless with anticipation. I could not put it down. 

In Reeve’s End the poverty is so profound that people can’t afford food and hunting is a necessary means of survival for some. The story begins with the main character setting traps, hunting for her dinner, resting in her personal shack in the woods. As the world building picked up, it was a huge revelation. Reeve’s End is one sketchy and messed up place. The cops are a joke. They arrest people on whim, they dismiss actual tips, and are full of prejudice that prevents them from doing real police work. And the sexism. Wow. There are several pointed comments about a woman’s position in society, victim blaming, and intelligence as something snobby and indecent. Sometimes the rage was pretty strong and the frustration that no one would listen to Winter and Jude, it’s enough to put anyone on edge. 

Winter and Jude. Steamy. Profound. Beautiful. The way they confide in each other. They see beneath the surface and fronts they put on for outsiders and they’re so cautious. Winter recognizes Jude has deep resentment, issues, and has put up a wall because she has the same feelings within herself. Their relationship isn’t angsty or particularly sexual like a lot of YA lately, it builds and grows and is rooted in understanding and compassion. 

While there were tidbits and clues throughout, I don’t think there were enough of them. The ending is so twisted that there’s really no way to see it coming and there wasn’t enough given to the reader to make a guess until a chapter or two before the reveal. 

If you like any of the following, you’ll enjoy this:

Keep reading, 

Jordan

Exclusive Interview with Victoria Scott on Violet Grenade

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Release Date: May 16, 2017

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DOMINO: A girl with blue hair and a demon in her mind.

CAIN: A stone giant on the brink of exploding.

MADAM KARINA: A woman who demands obedience.

WILSON: The one who will destroy them all.

When Madam Karina discovers Domino in an alleyway, she offers her a position inside her home for entertainers in secluded West Texas. Left with few alternatives and an agenda of her own, Domino accepts. It isn’t long before she is fighting her way up the ranks to gain the madam’s approval. But after suffering weeks of bullying and unearthing the madam’s secrets, Domino decides to leave. It’ll be harder than she thinks, though, because the madam doesn’t like to lose inventory. But then, Madam Karina doesn’t know about the person living inside Domino’s mind.

Madam Karina doesn’t know about Wilson.

int

YABM: Violet Grenade is a little different than your other books, what inspired this story? 

Victoria: I kept thinking about girls who get attacked, and what it would look like if someone targeted a girl who was capable of killing a man. How glorious that scene would be to watch in a movie. This idea of a small girl with a deadly secret wouldn’t leave my mind until I put her on paper. 

YABM: How would you describe Violet Grenade to a reader in 3 or less sentences? 

Victoria: I’d simply say it’s a story about manipulation, revenge, damaged characters, and love found in unlikely places. Oh, and multiple personalities (Dissociative Identity Disorder).

YABM: What do you want the reader to take away from Violet Grenade?

Victoria: Always, always…entertainment. I never seek to achieve anything besides giving readers an escape from reality. What they find outside of that is unique to their own journey and experiences.

YABM: Give me a brief rundown of Madam Karina’s Home for Burgeoning Entertainers? What is it like?


Victoria: The girls who live there are sorted by silk flowers they wear on their dresses or blouses. It ranks them, and signifies how much of their earnings they actually keep. Those flowers keep the girls competitive. And of course it’s symbolic of losing a certain something. *wink*

YABM: Is there any romance brewing between characters?

Victoria: Oh, yes. Domino and Cain have chemistry, but mostly they share past wounds.

YABM: Which character would be most likely to survive a zombie apocalypse?

Victoria: Cain. Those zombies wouldn’t stand a chance.

YABM: How do you balance home, life, and writing (and your adorable little girl)?

Victoria: With great difficulty! Even as I finish this interview I’m thinking how I didn’t get enough time with my little girl tonight. Le sigh.

YABM: What would you tell aspiring writers? What’s your best advice for completing that draft?

Victoria: To just power through! Trust me, we all think our first drafts stink. If you do too, then you just might be a published author one day. Ha!

authorVictoria Scott Author Photo copyWebsite/Twitter/Facebook/Instagram/Goodreads

Victoria Scott is the acclaimed author of eight books for young adults. Her most recent release, Titans, received two starred reviews, and Fire & Flood is a 2017 Spirit of Texas Reading Program book. Victoria’s novels are sold in fourteen different countries, and she loves receiving reader emails from across the world. You can find her online at VictoriaScott.com.

Check back closer to release date for my review. 

As always, happy reading!

Jordan

 

Spotlight & Giveaway: Pretty Fierce by Kieran Scott

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Pub Date: April 4, 2017

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An action-packed, edge-of-your-seat novel about a teen who, when backed into a corner, fights back, from the author of What Waits in the Woods

Kaia has been on the run her whole life. The daughter of professional assassins, she knows danger—and she’ll do anything to survive. After her parents vanished during a job gone bad, Kaia’s spent the last year in hiding, trying to blend in as an ordinary teenager, and there’s no one who makes her feel more normal, more special, than her boyfriend, Oliver.

But when she’s attacked by someone from her mother’s past and Oliver catches her fighting back, Kaia’s secret is exposed. In a split-second decision, she flees the small town, taking Oliver with her. Stalked at every turn, Oliver and Kaia must protect each other…or die trying.

authorKIERAN SCOTT is the author of several acclaimed young adult novels, including the Non-Blonde Cheerleader trilogy, the He’s So/She’s So trilogy, and Geek Magnet. She also wrote the New York Times and USA Today bestselling Private and Privilege series under the pen name Kate Brian. She is a senior editor at Disney/Hyperion and resides in New Jersey with her family. Visit kieranscott.net.

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One of my favorite things about writing PRETTY FIERCE was trying to figure out what Kaia would do next. I don’t consider myself to be particularly brave—except for the fact that I don’t mind public speaking which is one of those things that keeps people awake at night. But I imagine that if I were ever in a situation like Kaia is in—being pursued by bad guys, hunted down at every turn, forced to try to protect the man I loved—I’d probably end up a ball of blubbering mush in a corner. So when I was writing her, I would try to imagine the exact opposite of what I would do in a given situation, and then write that. More often than not, it ended up being the thing that I wish I would have the guts to do, but really just couldn’t imagine myself doing. And that’s what I think makes a great kick-butt heroine—someone who allows us to see the possibilities of what we could do—what we could be—if we could find that deep well of courage within ourselves.

Here is one of my favorite kick-butt heroines:

Laia, An Ember in the Ashes, Sabaa Tahir

This book is just one of those reads that completely blew me away. It’s not only full of action and emotion and suspense and a ridiculously well-realized world, but the characters are so believable and realistically flawed. Laia, though an orphan, lives a relatively peaceful life in the military state of the Martial Empire, but when her grandparents are slain right in front of her and her brother, Darin—her only living relative—taken to prison, she rises to the occasion. Though Laia is almost always afraid, she takes on the role of spy/slave under basically the scariest woman in all of literature—the Commandant of Blackcliff Academy—in an attempt to save her brother. Laia’s fierceness is a quiet, but incredibly powerful kind. Sometimes the greatest strength lies where you least expect it.

Excerpt

KAIA

Oliver was bartering with the cab driver, trying to tip him with cans of soup, when we pulled up in front of my house, and their conversation faded into the background. A lump the size of a soccer ball formed in my throat. The house was exactly the same.

Same olive-green siding, same intricate white trim, same yellow and purple flowers bursting from the flower boxes. My parents’ rocking chairs sat on the porch, angled toward each other as if waiting for them to walk out the front door with glasses of lemonade. Next to them was the wicker couch that I’d always laid out on, my knees crooked over the arm, my bare feet dangling down the side closest to my father, so he could tickle them. The door was the same burgundy color and looked freshly painted. The lawn was recently mowed.

Was someone living here?

My heart seized.

Was my mother living here?

What if I walked through the door, and she was sitting on the couch in her old, fluffy pink slippers, waiting for me? What if, all along, all I’d needed to do was come home? The idea made me queasy with excitement and dread.

The taxi’s door opened, and Oliver was there, right in front of me. I blinked up at him. I hadn’t even heard him get out of the car. He offered his hand, but I ignored it and shoved myself out, feeling silly. I walked to the end of the driveway and looked at the garage. I could see the top of my father’s silver SUV through the garage door window. I felt disoriented, as if I’d stepped into a time warp.

“What?” Oliver asked. “What is it?”

“My dad’s car. It’s still here.”

If anyone was living here, it wasn’t a new family.

My pulse raced. I bounded up the porch steps and over to the fourth shingle under the second window, jabbing my fingers up under the crease. A key fell into my hand and the lump in my throat widened.

“You okay?” Oliver asked.

All I could do was nod. Tears were threatening to spill over. I shoved the key into the lock, turned it, and pushed open the door, quaking with pent-up emotions—anticipation battling it out with hope and anger and fear.

No one was home. That was obvious the second I stepped inside. The air was stale with the scent of too many hot days with windows locked tight. A thin layer of dust had accumulated on the table next to the stairs, where my mother’s favorite, framed picture of our family sat. I ran a finger through the dust and swallowed.

Oliver squeezed my shoulders. “So,” he said lightly. “This is where you grew up.”

“Sort of. I mean, we were hardly ever here, but…we were here more than any other place. My parents called it ‘home base.’”

Oliver kissed my cheek and squeezed my shoulders again, grounding me. Reminding me that even though my parents weren’t here, he was. He headed toward the foot of the stairs.

“What’re you doing?” I asked, swiping a hand across my cheek.

His fingers curled around the top of the newel post and he grinned. “I’m going to go see your room.”

Oh crap.

“Oliver! Oliver, no!”

But he’d gotten a lead on me. By the time I made it to the second floor he was already throwing open doors. To the bathroom, the linen closet, the spare room, and then—

“Don’t,” I said, eyeing his hand on the doorknob.

“Oh, but I have to,” he replied playfully.

He opened the door, and a shaft of pink light engulfed him.

“Oh. My. God. It’s like a My Little Pony shrine in here!”

My love of pink had come from my mother. But while she had used the color as a mere accent—a bag strap here, a beaded bracelet there, the occasional stripe on a headband—I had embraced the color with every fiber of my being. When I was four.

“You cannot judge me by this room!” I said, arriving at the door as he flung himself, face up, onto my canopy bed.

Damn. It was even pinker than I remembered. A light pink rug, pink and hot pink striped walls, a pink flowered canopy and pink plaid sheets. There were pink stuffed animals, a pink-framed mirror, pink bookshelves filled with pink and purple and white books and toys and knickknacks. There was no color in the room other than pink and white and purple. Except for Oliver. He was all gray T-shirt and tan skin and blond hair.

“I never had you pegged for a Disney Princess,” Oliver said, pushing himself up on his elbows.

I walked over and sat next to him. The bed gave a familiar squeak. “I thought about changing it when I was thirteen, but we never got around to it. We were rarely here, so it didn’t seem to matter. I never even thought about the fact that a guy might see it one day.”

“Are you saying I’m the first guy you ever invited into your Barbie Dreamhouse?”

“I didn’t exactly invite you,” I pointed out, shoving his chest. “You barreled right in.”

Oliver reached an arm around my waist. He got that look in his eye he only got when we were entirely alone. It made my heart catch.

“Just like the day we met.”

I smiled. The day we met. Probably the single best day of my life.

Now, an entire year of kisses and phone calls and texts and adventures and secrets and whispers and near-death experiences between us, we were sitting in my pink explosion of a room, and I was overwhelmed by the sheer luck I felt at finding him. I leaned down and kissed him. He pulled me to him, pressing the whole length of his body against mine, and slid his hand under my short hair, around the back of my neck. We kissed for a long time, legs intertwining, chests bumping, hands exploring. For those few spare minutes, there was only Oliver.

Then he rolled me onto my back, and I winced as one particular bruise on my spine ached. I sat up, remembering why we were here. Oliver almost fell off the bed.

“What? What’s wrong?” he said.

“Oliver,” I replied, gasping for air. “I have to show you something.”

Fierce reading,

Jordan

ARC Review: Proof of Lies by Diana Rodriguez Wallach

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Some secrets are best kept hidden…

Anastasia Phoenix has always been the odd girl out, whether moving from city to international city with her scientist parents or being the black belt who speaks four languages.

And most definitely as the orphan whose sister is missing, presumed dead.

She’s the only one who believes Keira is still alive, and when new evidence surfaces, Anastasia sets out to follow the trail—and lands in the middle of a massive conspiracy. Now she isn’t sure who she can trust. At her side is Marcus, the bad boy with a sexy accent who’s as secretive as she is. He may have followed her to Rome to help, but something about him seems too good to be true.

Nothing is as it appears, and when everything she’s ever known is revealed to be a lie, Anastasia has to believe in one impossibility.

She will find her sister.

review

4/5 Stars 

***I received this eARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley & Entangled Teen

Proof of Lies is what’s missing in YA and exactly what I’ve been searching for. An adrenaline rush of mystery and danger, an intriguing and twisty plot, and characters that keep you invested, Proof of Lies is at the top of my 2017 reads. 

PROS:

  • The mystery is epic. It sucks you in and keeps you invested. I was dying to know what happened to Keira. The clues are all there and they’re tricky. Anastasia is basically sifting through trash to find gold and ends up lucking out. She follows the barest of clues and with the help of some tech savvy friends the mystery gets progressively more engaging. 
  • Twists. This story is like a narrow, winding road up Mount Everest. Complete with all the twists, deadly turns, near misses, and heart-pounding risks that are so unexpected. Usually I can guess what’s going to happen in the first few pages, Diana Rodriguez Wallach did a fantastic job at every turn…well except for one that was fairly obvious. I was super impressed. 
  • Anastasia isn’t perfect. She’s delightfully flawed. She realizes that she’s been an ungrateful brat and pretty terrible to her sister and endeavors to change. She recognizes her flaws and actively works to be better. I loved that about her. Plus, she’s trained in self-defense and martial arts, speaks multiple languages, and dives head first into danger. She’s a risk taker and she realizes that the choices she makes are totally stupid and owns up to it. I hate when characters know that they’re making bad decisions and are just like woops, yeah, no. Anastasia has a strong voice, she’s likable and so devoted to her mission that you can’t help but respect her drive. 
  • The romance. The few scenes that took place in high school setting were cute and memorable. Some were laugh out loud, others made me angry. The sheer racist b.s. that some kids go through. Sigh. But Anastasia is a true hero in those moments and Marcus is made of swoon. He’s got a bad boy look but is fiercely loyal, lovable, and complex. He is the arms that Anastasia needs to hold her up and the shoulder she can cry on. What’s best is that he lets her make her own decisions. He doesn’t prevent her from making choices. He knows she’s going to do crazy stuff and he’s like, I’ll back you up. ❤ I mean, who doesn’t adore a guy like that? And those makeout scenes are FIRE. 

CONS:

  • My biggest issue was the mourning section. I was having flashbacks to New Moon when it’s just a page with a month on it and nothing happens. That totally destroyed the pacing, but thankfully, once Anastasia was invested in sleuthing again it picked up quickly. 
  • There were some issues with secondary characters. They played key roles and yet felt like throwaways. I needed more personality, more interaction-just more to actually care about them. The subplot with Julian and Sofia was compelling, but didn’t fit into the story as well as it could have, it felt random, but definitely key. Towards the end, parts with Julian and Charlotte were rushed and more telling than showing. There, but not really. More for function than anything else. 

If you like any of the following, you’ll enjoy this:

Thrilling reading, 

Jordan

Review: The Cruelty by Scott Bergstrom

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When her diplomat father is kidnapped and the U.S. Government is unable to help, 17 year-old Gwendolyn Bloom sets off across the sordid underbelly of Europe to rescue him. Following the only lead she has—the name of a Palestinian informer living in France—she plunges into a brutal world of arms smuggling and human trafficking. As she journeys from the slums of Paris, to the nightclubs of Berlin, to the heart of the most feared crime family in Prague, Gwendolyn discovers that to survive in this new world she must become every bit as cruel as the men she’s hunting.

review4/5 Stars 

Unpopular opinion time. It turns out that there’s a ton of controversy surrounding this book because of some dismissive and rude comments made by the author about the YA genre. Here’s the thing, I did not read anything about this book or any of the Goodreads comments before my rating. This is a 100% unbiased, non-influenced rating on the story alone. While I do not agree with the author’s perception of dystopia YA or some off the offhand comments made by Gwen within the story, authors and characters do not always share beliefs. Sometimes it’s hard to separate the author’s opinions from the character’s and vice versa. I thought I would preface this review by saying that whether or not I like the author has absolutely nothing to do with this review because so many of the Goodreads reviews are attacks on the author not the book. 

Now that that’s out of the way, I loved this book. This is exactly what I’ve been searching for in YA. A thriller. Spies, lies, cover ups, danger, it’s like Bourne Identity for teens. And there are so many important and eye-opening topics discussed within the story about crime, human trafficking, and other terrifying and unsavory aspects of society. While the story wasn’t perfect, it definitely kept me engaged and enthralled with Gwen and her quest to save her father. I kept asking myself how far I’d go to save my loved ones.

Gwen is made of reckoning and a hunger for vengeance. I adore her. She’s of Jewish heritage, thick-waisted, opinionated, speaks multiple languages, and likes jazz. I mean, come on, that alone is enough to keep you interested. When Gwen embraces her new identity at Sofia, we see her transformation and wow, what a switch. The girl she started as is still there, but her alias is a fighter. Sofia is a vixen. She’s manipulative, calculating, more like an agent. She has a huge heart. She will go to the ends of the earth for her father and then some, sacrificing herself in the process. She knows she might die, she might get assaulted or scarred, but she is willing as long as she gets her father back. That’s insane and incredibly brave. Gwen has to shut off her emotions or she’ll break and sometimes it’s truly hard and devastating for her. In several scenes, I almost had to look away because I was so scared for her. But she puts on cruelty like armor and is surprisingly successful for such a small amount of training. 

There are so made shades of women within this story and they’re all powerful in their own ways. From prostitutes to the women who serve the crime bosses, from the trafficked girls to the bully at the introduction of the story, all of these women are fighters and wise to the ways of the world. They accept that sometimes life is dirty and hard and terrible, that horrific things happen but they can’t collapse, they rise and rebuild and take everything for what it is. Every character was memorable, even the fleeting ones and others that I abhorred. They were developed, multidimensional, and made me ask questions. 

Yael. OMG this woman. She’s fierce, hardened, cruel when she needs to be and lives by a do whatever it takes attitude. Suck it up and do what needs to be done. Yael is at times heartless and cold, others she’s mildly concerned. You can tell she feels a little motherly towards Gwen. Yael is the kind of woman, Mossad, who would take her child who can’t swim, throw him in a lake and tell him to find his way out; he’d learn pretty quick. I loveddddd her. She’s an epic badass of a character. 

The story itself is layered and developed. It’s cross multiple countries and gets right into the seedy underbelly of the cities. I have not been to most of the countries mentioned, so I can’t say how accurate the portrayal was, but there wasn’t much in way of description anyway. Scott Bergstrom appears to be more about the character than the setting. I loved the cyphers and the danger. Every edge of your seat moment was a new rush and there are so many. 

What I did not like was the random romance between Gwen and Terrance. He’s barely there, there’s no building, hardly any foundation, and while he is functional, the emotions are severely lacking and then suddenly it’s supposed to be like fireworks for the reader-yeah, no. I was not the biggest fan of the way Gwen was introduced at Danton Academy. While it did function to present her place in the social hierarchy, establish her race and figure, it felt clichéd and predictable. In fact, I don’t really know why it was there at all. School is nothing in this story. It’s gone in like 2 days of book time. 

Sometimes the pacing was slow. When you think of a thriller/suspense, you expect fast, but spy work and investigating is sometimes just pushing paper and waiting for leads, so in that respect, it was accurate. 

That ending. YES.

If you like any of the following, you’ll enjoy this:

Suspenseful reading, 

Jordan

Book Trailer Reveal: Till Death by Jennifer L. Armentrout

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Release Date: Feb 28, 2017

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In New York Times bestselling author Jennifer L. Armentrout’s gripping new novel, a young woman comes home to reclaim her life—even as a murderer plots to end it. . .

It’s been ten years since Sasha Keaton left her West Virginia hometown . . . since she escaped the twisted serial killer known as the Groom. Returning to help run her family inn means being whole again, except for one missing piece. The piece that falls into place when Sasha’s threatened—and FBI agent Cole Landis vows to protect her the way he couldn’t a decade ago.

First one woman disappears; then another, and all the while, disturbing calling cards are left for the sole survivor of the Groom’s reign of terror. Cole’s never forgiven himself for not being there when Sasha was taken, but he intends to make up for it now . . . because under the quirky sexiness Cole first fell for is a steely strength that only makes him love Sasha more.

But someone is watching. Waiting. And Sasha’s first mistake could be her last.

trailer

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Spotlight, Interview & Giveaway: Lifers by M.A. Griffin

***UPDATED FROM THE ORIGINAL POST TO INCLUDE INTERVIEW

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Fear haunts the streets of Preston’s city: a girl has disappeared. Preston is drawn to investigate, exploring the city in the hunt for his missing friend. And deep in the bowels of a secret scientific institute, he discovers a sinister machine used to banish teenage criminals for their offenses.

Captured and condemned to a cavernous dimension, Preston is determined to escape. But this is no ordinary jail. Friendships will be forged and lives will be lost in a reckless battle for freedom, revenge–and revolution.

Set in a world all too similar to our own, Lifers is thrilling, pulse-pounding storytelling of the highest degree. 

int

Hi Jordan! It’s a pleasure to be part of your blog. Many thanks for inviting me along!

  1. Tell the plot of Lifers in a single sentence

A single sentence? That’s tough! OK, here goes: an insomniac kid on a mission to find his missing friend stumbles upon a sinister machine that seems to be the doorway to a disturbing and dark prison for young offenders.

Phew. (Takes deep breath.)

  1. What inspired you to write Lifers?

I teach A level students over here in the UK; that’s 16-19 year olds (senior high in your language!) One hot summer’s afternoon, following the collapse of spectacularly badly-planned lesson (totally my fault), we ditched the poem we were meant to be studying and got to talking instead. I remember one student telling us where she’d camp out if she ever ran away from home with her tent. She’d scoped out a place in the school grounds that was walled on three sides, sheltered, grassy. I remember saying, “Just imagine you discovered that the school opened again at midnight. And different students arrived in a different uniform and different teachers too!” We had a blast discussing this notion. What stayed with me afterwards was the idea that places can transform themselves at night; the familiar becomes weird and disconcerting. I wanted a story where that happened to a city. Preston, my protagonist, grew from this idea. I gave him a missing friend and a bunch of worries that made it impossible to sleep. Then I sent him out into the centre of Manchester to find something horrible that would change his life.

  1. How did you create the prison system in the book?

It took me ages! So many mis-fires and failed attempts. I wanted a prison system that favoured punishment over rehabilitation or reform, so I always knew I’d need somewhere designed purely to incarcerate. From there, I knew inmates would respond differently – like Golding’s Lord of the Flies or an episode of Lost – some would team up and try and stay sane, decent and human. Others would become feral and desperate. There’d be power-struggles, subcultures and clashing ideologies. So far so good, right? But it kept getting out of control and the characters wouldn’t behave themselves. I ended up writing the prison section of the novel three or four times trying to get the balance between hope and despair right. I hope I’ve got somewhere close!

  1. How does the world in Lifers compare to our own?

What a good question! I think in many ways you can measure the quality of a society by the way it treats its prisoners – the challenge, support, guidance and ultimately hope it gives them. In my opinion, we’re some way off a good system in the UK, so I wanted to explore ideas about choices, mistakes and punishment. There’s this English historian called Henry Buckle – writing in the mid-nineteenth century – who famously said “Society prepares the crime, the criminal commits it.” (I’d like to pretend I picked up that quote reading highbrow history and philosophy but I first came across it on a Fun Lovin’ Criminals album sleeve. You take it where you find it, right?) In Lifers, I’ve created a nasty political party intent on a brutal prison regime. It’s a pretty significant exaggeration of where we are now. That said, 2016 has been a very worrying year…

  1. Do you have a favorite line from the book?

I used to be fairly consistent on this. But readers will often point out theirs and I’ll change my mind. (For example, recently I was speaking to a student following a presentation at a school and she said, “I wanted more Chowdhury! I love him!” He’s one of the guys in prison, a kind of mystic. We ended up trading Chowdhury lines for a bit.) Anyway, this time I’m going to turn to Preston’s pal Mace for inspiration. Mace is part conspiracy theorist, part coward and part bad poet. He’s always dictating his thoughts and impressions of a situation into his phone. “Manchester,” he says soulfully at one point. “City of cranes and rain.” It is, too. I live in a city that is constantly demolishing and rebuilding itself.

  1. What makes Preston a hero you can root for?

Well, he’s a hugely flawed kid and that’s part of the reason I love him. He’s a whole bundle of insecurities and he makes jaw-droppingly bad decisions. I remember that feeling very well – of being fourteen or fifteen, an age when every single decision seems massive, and making a mighty mess of a lot of mine. Preston’s the same. I wanted him to be driven by a sense of guilt, the only certain thing in a confusion of feelings, so he makes a terrible error early in the book that he somehow has to correct. That’s why I like the guy; despite everything, he’s got the courage and decency to try and fix this mistake even if the skills necessary to do so are frankly waaay beyond him. Poor lad!

      7. Tell me a little about your writing process.

I tell students something it took me way too long to learn: good ideas arrive in pieces, never all at once. I can’t afford hang about waiting for a complete idea to blossom, or a logical and elegant plot to arrrive. I have to gather together all my seemingly-terrible bits of ideas and somehow force them together into a coherent, crazy, ugly whole. Once I’ve got something that looks like it might have an outside chance of working, I start building a set of characters who might operate realistically in the situation, location or crazy circumstances that I’ve dreamed up. If I can get an inciting incident I’ve got the seeds of something. After that, I try and figure out how to escalate the drama whilst making it impossible for the protag to pull out or turn back. Then I try and prettify the whole thing so it looks as if it arrived in one complete piece. It’s so hard to do! I’m working on something now, for example, and all the same troubles are presenting themselves… it doesn’t seem to get any easier, unfortunately!

author

I’m a writer of children’s fiction, represented by Ben Illis at the B.I.A., available for workshops and school visits when I’m not chained to a laptop cursing my lack of progress and/or poverty of imagination.

My debut novel, The Poison Boy, was written as Fletcher Moss. My second novel, Lifers, is my first for teen readers. It arrives April 2016.

Website | Twitter | Goodreads

giveaway

3 winners will receive a finished copy of LIFERS, US Only.

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OTHER STOPS ON THE TOUR

Tour Schedule: 

Week One:

1/23/2017- YA Book Madness- Interview

1/24/2017-Here’s to Happy Endings- Review

1/25/2017-Novel Novice- Excerpt

1/26/2017- A Dream Within A Dream- Review

1/27/2017- Fantasy Book Critic– Guest Post

Week Two:

1/30/2017- Hopelessly Devoted Bibliophile- Review

1/31/2017- Tales of the Ravenous Reader- Interview

2/1/2017- Book-Keeping- Review

2/2/2017- Wishful Endings- Interview

2/3/2017- A Gingerly Review- Review

Thrilling reading, 

Jordan